On the eve of the Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero Action Plan going before City Council, the City of Portland just released some positive safety news: The traffic diverters installed on Southeast Clinton Street are working very well and the one at 32nd will be redesigned and made permanent in the next few weeks.
The diverters at SE 17th and 32nd were part of a comprehensive effort to tame auto traffic on Clinton that included educational outreach, public meetings, speed bumps, lower speed limits, “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, and targeted enforcement. As one of the oldest and most used neighborhood greenways in the city, Clinton (which has about 3,000 bicycle users a day) was originally designed to prioritize bicycling; but driving skyrocketed in recent years as the surrounding neighborhoods added new residents, shops, restaurants and offices. In July 2014 we reported on growing rancor among bicycle users who called Clinton a “bikeway in name only.” Those concerns led community activism and became a rallying cry for the fledgling, all-volunteer bike advocacy group Bike Loud PDX.
Just four months after BikeLoud’s activism began, the City’s Bureau of Transportation launched a comprehensive assessment of the neighborhood greenway system (that would later be adopted by City Council) and agreed to meet with representatives from the group to learn more about the issues.
By the end of 2015 two diverters had been installed and PBOT converted 34th Avenue into a one-way street for driving (bicycling is allowed in both directions). People who bike on Clinton quickly noticed a change for the better in both the volume and behavior of drivers.
Now, after six months of testing, observations, and community feedback, PBOT issued a statement today calling the project “a success”. “Safety conditions have improved significantly thanks to the installation of diverters and speed bumps that have lowered traffic volumes and vehicle speeds along the Greenway,” reads the statement.
Their goal on Clinton was two-fold: reduce auto volumes to below 2,000 cars per day between SE 12th and SE Cesar Chavez Blvd (39th) and reduce the 85th percentile speed to 20 mph between Cesar Chavez and 50th. A combination of diverters and speed bumps seems to have done the trick.
Here are more highlights from the report (PDF):
– Recent traffic counts show that volumes on Clinton have decreased significantly across almost the entire test area, with reduction between 900 and 1,400 cars per day (-34 to -74 percent) due to the diverters, speed bumps, and other changes.
– The street segment between SE 21st and SE 26th Avenue that still exceeds the 2,000 car per day threshold is slated to get additional speed bumps in 2017 as part of an upcoming paving project.
“Neighborhood Greenways are the backbone of Portland’s bike infrastructure. If people don’t feel safe using our Greenways, they won’t use them.”
— Steve Novick, City Commissioner of Transportation
– PBOT found that the non-compliance rate for the 32nd Ave diverter is about 7 percent, which they consider normal. For people concerned about poor sight lines while cycling through it, PBOT says the new design will be better because it will have curb-high islands instead of the four-foot tall barrels in use today.
– There were no notable changes to average traffic speeds on SE Clinton. The 85th percentile speed ranged from 21 to 24 mph before the test and 19 to 24 mph after the test.
– There was a big concern about where diverted auto trips would go. Of 35 locations monitored by PBOT, only one street segment (SE Woodward, east of 31st), exceeded the total maximum volume of 1,000 cars per day.
– On SE 34th, where PBOT converted a standard two-way street into a one-way street for cars (northbound, away from Clinton) and striped a contraflow bike lane, auto volumes decreased 58 percent and only 4 percent of drivers were recorded traveling the wrong way. Not surprisingly, the new one-way street led to a slight increase in driving speeds with the 85 percentile figure going up from 19 to 21 mph.
It’s important to note that because PBOT was successful in getting most of Clinton below the 2,000 cars per day threshold, they can now trigger a state law that allows them to reduce the speed limit to 20 mph (a law that only applies on neighborhood greenways).
And PBOT isn’t done on Clinton. In addition to the permanent diverter coming to 32nd, PBOT wants to get that last pesky segment between 21st and 26th down below 2,000 cars per day (it’s just 2,005 now). To do that they’ll place speed bumps more closely together during a scheduled repaving project coming this spring. The report released today also offers a few ideas for Clinton that were beyond the scope of this project: improve the crossing at 50th to improve safety and reduce biking and walking delay; do more parking enforcement on side streets to improve sight distances; and improve the crossing at 26th Avenue “by taking advantage of excess right-of-way to ehance safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.”
The total cost of this project — including the new permanent diverter coming to 32nd — is $230,000.
That’s a “cost-effective solution” says PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick. “Neighborhood Greenways are the backbone of Portland’s bike infrastructure,” he said via today’s statement. “If people don’t feel safe using our Greenways, they won’t use them.”
Learn more about this project and download the full report here.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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If only to point at and smile, the “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signage would be clutch on so many streets and our favorite bridge. Sharrows are not self-explanatory to drivers or even cyclists (I frequently see cyclists weaving parked cars on Greenways). I’ve never noticed such a sign; are they used elsewhere?
San Francisco and other places, but not Portland.
PBOT is doing a big push on all these projects right now as part of the lead up to the Vision Zero hearing; I’ve gotten at least 3 emails from them in the past two days.
The devil lives in the details. Looking at the drawing for the permanent diverter, I’m concerned with the width of the opening. Not every bike is a half-bike lacking a full-size trailer. I’ve encountered enough road furniture that gives me mere inches of clearance for my trailer behind a tandem that I’m concerned that PBoT doesn’t get this.
wide enough for a car…
Wide enough for a bike trailer without having to slow down or slalom, which is what PBOT gets criticized for when such occurs, even with temporary installs.
‘Bout time! The pavement markings went up a few weeks ago, so hopefully work starts soon. Can’t wait to no longer have to dodge that f***ing boat that’s always parked in the diverter. 😛
YES! That dang boat. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has noticed how much it sticks out.
I’ve called parking enforcement multiple times and it never seems to be ticketed or moved. Very frustrating.
I was going to post about that boat. I’ll join in the reporting party. That thing is a hazard.
That boat is indeed annoying. As I remember, vehicles are only allowed to park on City of Portland public streets for a 24-hour stretch at any given time before they can be ticketed and/or towed. I am absolutely sure that boat has been in place for more than 24 hours multiple times now.
“A. No person may store, or permit to be stored, a vehicle or other personal property on public right-of-way or other public property in excess of 24 hours without permission of the City Engineer, the City Traffic Engineer, or the Bureau of Development Services.
B. Failure to operate and move a vehicle or move nonvehicular property off of the block face within a 24-hour period constitutes prima facie evidence of storage and may be abated.”
It may violate other parking provisions, such as creating a hazard and preventing free passage of vehicles (which explicitly includes bikes).
Haven’t been on that block for several weeks, but I don’t see how it’s a hazard. It’s basically right on the edge of where it can be and it’s easy enough to clear the intersection at speed (or as fast as you’d want to clear any intersection)
However, nothing should be parked that long on the street — that thing has been there for many months. However, there are many other vehicles in that general area that remain parked in the same spaces for even longer periods of time. Beats me why even the drivers tolerate it since they’re the ones that can’t park because people are using the street for storage.
What amazes me is that the owner of the boat would want to leave it there like that since it would be easy to swipe.
Just because the boat lies within the lines that some city employee deemed appropriate doesn’t mean it’s not a hazard.
Personally what makes me uncomfortable with the set up are the hard, metal corners on the back of the boat that jut out within mere inches of my shoulders as I carefully navigate the piles of slippery wet disintegrating leaves on the street.
So yeah! That boat is the worst.
The boat is actually slightly over the yellow line, which means it’s illegally-parked. Even if it wasn’t, it’s still a tight squeeze and I’d rather not wipe out onto the boat’s motor taking that tight turn too fast.
It’s close enough to the line that it could be called either way, and it’s not a tight squeeze. You can easily fit a car or even a truck through there and many people (illegally) do. If that’s too narrow, people should be complaining about the median diverter on 17th.
In all honesty, the biggest threat near that boat is the diverters themselves. They are tall and while everyone here likes to worry about unusual cases like guide dogs, the fact of the matter is that the biggest actual threat near that boat is to the small kids and animals who are frequently there from cyclists blowing through that intersection. Clinton has enough kids, animals, peds, and less experienced cyclists that it really should be treated like a wide MUP rather than a road.
The other significant threat that can be found on Clinton and throughout the town is vehicles parked right up to the corner. This makes it hard to see peds and impossible to see small kids and animals.
If you think the biggest hazards are kids and pets, then you are riding way too aggressively. You are the hazard to them.
I don’t think kids and pets are hazards. I think CYCLISTS are hazards to kids and pets.
I ride considerably faster than most cyclists in most areas, but I don’t ride MUPs, I only pass clean, and I always choose a style and speed of riding appropriate conditions. I do not ride at speed in the vicinity of untethered kids or animals — ever.
In the 160,000 miles or so miles I’ve ridden, I’ve never collided with a human, cyclist, or animal.
Like I said, I consider Clinton to be a MUP and take Division instead every time unless traffic is choked up because Clinton is not appropriate for my preferred speed even uphill because of it’s nature.
My position is and always has been that cyclists belong on the roads. We are traffic.
Another way of putting it is that I personally believe that while there are plenty of bad drivers in Portland, there are actually more bad cyclists. I believe these people put both themselves and others at risk.
However, you’d be proud of me. Out of a curious coincidence, just yesterday I sent the first written complaint I’ve ever made about a driver in my life.
Apologies, I seem to have misread your initial comment.
No harm, no foul.
You guys may be taking the wrong tack with your complaints.
Instead of saying it’s a threat to cyclists (and it isn’t really), you might try telling them that you live close by and can’t park your car in part because some guy is storing his boat in blatant violation of parking rules.
I disagree that it’s not a hazard. A boat and a trailer have parts that stick out in ways that aren’t as easily recognized and tracked with the eye as a more contained car. And in the event that I’m forced into a bad situation, I would much rather hit the relatively smooth back end of a car than a trailer and boat with all sorts of exposed angle iron and sharp edges.
Try fitting this bike through the boat gap and get back to me on whether it’s a hazard or not.
Flatten the tires. Then it looks abandoned.
It has a green tow warning sticker as of this morning. Maybe before, but I only noticed it today.
What would be funny is if the owner didn’t notice the sticker. Either way, the problem is solved…
I don’t have any problem with the “four-foot tall barrels.” There are plenty of motorists with jacked-up trucks who consider a high curb to be no more than a speed bump. You can see evidence of their distain for such devices by observing tire marks on curbs and medians all over the metro area. A drunk driver is much more likely to see a barrel than a curb and if he doesn’t, he’s more likely to remain at the scene when he collides with a barrel.
your guide dog would be blocked from view behind the barrels.
If providing a view of guide dogs were really a priority, why does the city have extensive plantings on center medians for mid-block crossings? Take a look at the mid-block crossing of SE Woodstock between 44th and 45th.
did you make a maintenance request?
Was meant to be humor?
So will the permanent diverter be a little more of a deterrent than the one people just drive around?
There’s a big diagram directly in the middle of the article. I’ll be kind and assume it got added after you posted this.
I did see it and it looked like cars could still fit through. I was thinking a permanent diverter would look like something at SE Ankeny/20th. But I guess this PBOT needs this diverter to accommodate traffic to go through in one direction. I guess we can’t have it all…..
As has been stated, a median barrier forces a turn south for eastbound traffic, while the semi-diverter provides a choice of directions.
Great. Love the changes, except… now those clowns trying to avoid Clinton and Division and Powell are barreling down Woodward in the morning. It’s a good thing that small children are rarely out playing at 07:30.
over the bumps?
Why do you find this surprising? Speed bumps have little impact on a certain segment of drivers, and many folks know that a bump’s impact on their car is lessened at higher speeds….
I noticed all the new speed bumps on SE 28th from Powell to Gladstone as the city prepares to modify this street into a cycle greenway. I assume they will remove the North-South stop signs at each block so bikes are not encouraged to blow them all, and then this will become a raceway for cars. If city is going to add speed bumps, they need 3 or 4 per block or speed bump+stop sign on every corner at every block, otherwise they serve little purpose. City’s tendency to add one speed bump per block is not enough to make a difference among drivers that tend to speed over them or speed between them, anyway (of course, many drivers “get it” and just keep a lid on speed when they see the city trying to promote this, but those that don’t, won’t).
You’ve neither designed a bump project, nor reviewed available data, in order to make such statements.
I noticed they put up some new speed bumps on Woodward in the last month… somewhere between 30th and 25th. Have definitely noticed an uptick in people who are clearly speeding through the neighborhood and have absolutely no business anywhere near it.
Guess it’s just the natural extension of the concept. And in a year there’ll be diverters on Woodward, and then speed bumps on Tibbets and diverters a year after that… and so on and so on.
Meanwhile nothing gets done north of SE Division on SE 26th or SE Harrison…and I’m sure the segment of SE 26th from Division to Harrison gets enough daily traffic to warrant speed bumps, it now carries a lot of the through traffic that avoid SE 20th and SE 30th due to the traffic calming on those streets, plus all the northbound traffic crossing 26th on Division.
It’s been a while since I looked, but 26th, from Division to Harrison, is (or was) a collector. It makes no sense, I know, but there you go.
26th is a neighborhood collector north of Division. Harrison is a NC east of 26th to 30th, and 30th is the collector N/Harrison.
So, to be clear, city policy is to encourage MORE vehicles to use the collector rather than the surrounding streets.
I really don’t understand the point of neighborhood collectors. They tend to have exactly the same land-use characteristics as surrounding streets yet the City decides to dump as much neighborhood car traffic as possible on them to protect the surrounding streets.
I understand the value of commercial collectors – the car traffic doesn’t have as much net negative impact if directed to these streets because it can provide eyeballs on businesses. But neighborhood collectors just seem to sacrifice some people at the expense of others.
I think the neighborhood collector designation on 26th and 30th is an attempt to pick one route north-South that’s between 20th and Chavez. I think it’s a Transit Street as well.
Yeah… I get that PBOT thinks convenient routes for motoring without many stop signs every X blocks are a necessity, but personally I do not. Going slowly and carefully when driving or driving a few more blocks out of direction are both not big impositions, while copious fast motor vehicle traffic in front of one’s home is a big imposition. (Not to be hypocritical, I think the ghettoing of multifamily onto major streets is a far worse problem because it exposes more and poorer people to more and faster motor vehicle traffic).
Traffic is down on SE Clinton, ok, yay! I feel less likely to die now while biking SE Clinton.
Otherwise, I find this report a bit obnoxious and not telling the whole story.
Did they even bother seeing where all the traffic went? Did it go to Powell or Division? No, it is all on SE Woodward and SE Brooklyn now. Go stand at the stop sign at 28th and SE Brooklyn around 8am if you don’t believe me. Cars go flying down SE Brooklyn and come to a screeching halt at 28th. I walked across Brooklyn and had seven cars backed up waiting for me to cross. I really feel sorry for the people who live on these streets.
the report shows 100% more traffic on that spot… are you saying it’s more than that?
oddly, another 2 blocks east is only 40% more traffic…
instead of a spreadsheet I’d like to see this as an overlay of color on the actual roads… maybe somebody will map that…
This is specifically addressed on page 6 of the report.
Both Woodard and Brooklyn are now up but only Woodward goes above the 1000 vehicles a day, and is up 107 to 429 depending on the cross street. So a significant increase but they are paying attention.
Ok thanks, I missed that.
I’m so glad the diverters have worked and that they’ll be permanent! I live on Woodward in this area (and walk my younger son to school along Woodward), and the increased traffic and speeders are bad, but the calmer atmosphere on Clinton is great! I’m glad PBOT is keeping an eye on the streets adjacent to Clinton. The new speed bumps on Woodward are a good start, and hopefully they’ll do more if needed.
Yeah the bit about car volumes being over 1,000 on a section of Woodward is highly significant, I’d say. There was a rather contentious public meeting at which a lot of folks from Woodward came and raised a ruckus. Rich Newlands assured them, after a lot of pushback and prodding, that if the counts were above 1,000 the diverters would come out again. I infer that PBOT now seems to be taking a different tack, and I think that may work out ok, but if I lived on that section of Woodward I’d want some clear language from PBOT right about now.
Too bad we can’t follow these conversations via email/subscribe button/etc.
I’d love to get the straight dope from Jonathan about why that change was made.
I live on Lincoln and I’m getting a bit frustrated with PBOT’s tack on controlling greenway volumes. First it was ‘we installed lots of traffic calming devices on Division, but it won’t impact neighborhood traffic.’ Then it became ‘ok, Clinton was impacted, so we installed traffic calming devices there, but every other road won’t be impacted.’ Now of course, Woodward and Lincoln traffic volumes are up.
Traffic calming devices are great, but the traffic has to go somewhere. PBOT claiming otherwise seems pretty disingenuous. I really wish they would take a more holistic approach to this issue.
“I really wish they would take a more holistic approach to this issue.”
You mean like put diverters on every street? Or actively discourage car use?
How about enough diverted on Woodward and Lincoln/Harrison to keep counts below 1,000? lincoln and Woodward are now ‘Greenways in name only.’
If we want alternative modes of transport to gain in PDX, our Greenways need to work.
It was interesting in that meeting that the one thing nearly everyone in the room seemed to agree on was *more diverters*.
I find it fascinating that so many people who drive habitually actually don’t like traffic (on their street). Talk about cognitive dissonance.
There is generalized cognitive dissonance in that area.
But this will never be solved if the focus stays solely on where people don’t want the traffic. It absolutely must also include a place for it to go.
Believing that people will simply quit driving is not realistic for all kinds of reasons. And frankly, I think if many gung ho cyclists here had different work/living situations, they would also drive. If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear to me, it’s that many people find riding even easy streets intimidating. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to keep in mind that many people do not have options that don’t involve much more challenging routes.
Diverters have their purposes, but you can do only so much with them before you start introducing other problems.
As for that specific area, traffic needs to be more fluid on Division if they don’t want so many vehicles in the neighborhoods. I believe more lights on Division would help. Right now, there is a lot of foot traffic, so cars are constantly stopped during busy times. Lights that give peds and motorists alike dedicated time might help flow.
No one is saying we need to get everyone to quit driving. But many car trips are short enough to be easily replaced by cycling or public transport. That is the goal.
Especially in that area, I think people would have to be nuts to drive if they don’t have to. Ignoring logistical issues that make bikes and walking very practical in that vicinity, neighborhood culture is definitely bent that way.
I personally believe that most of the traffic problems come from people moving through the area rather than the ones who live there. The problem is that there’s just not enough road capacity for everyone to drive through in the long term.
If there could be a dedicated bus lane, then busing could be more attractive to driving even for people who aren’t into public transit. But there’s no way to implement that without condemning a lot of property which isn’t going to happen. In the meantime, a few routes where cars can pass through at reasonable speeds are necessary. I think that if traffic could move reliably at 15-20mph, people would not try to shortcut through neighborhoods.
There is plenty of room on Powell for a bus lane. We’d just have to give up a car lane. Why is condemning and demolishing buildings along the roadway always looked at first instead of reducing the car capacity? Though in all honesty, I’d argue for an elevated or underground MAX line along Powell over any BRT project.
Woodward is not a greenway.
“You mean like put diverters on every street? Or actively discourage car use?”
yes, both please!
No need to actively discourage car use. The constant traffic backups and gridlock do a good enough job of that already. We just need to make the alternatives irresistible. i.e. Cycling should be safe and comfortable and public transport should be faster than driving in peak traffic.
What I can’t fathom is why so many people drive in this town. A couple of my coworkers happen to live near me. If I encounter them on the road 8 miles from my workplace, their chances of walking into the office before I do are zero. In the afternoon, the time differential is even greater.
or do at least some enforcement in the neighborhoods…
That’s crazy talk.
I like PBOT’s plan for Clinton from here. A more holistic, culture-changing solution might be to scatter diverters on every signed neighborhood greenway to reinforce the idea that none are through routes for driving.
“SE Clinton St at 34th Ave, looking west.”
that’s not where that picture was taken… anybody know where that picture is from? can’t read the street sign…
also, are they moving the diverter from 32nd to 34th? adding another one at 34th? or is that just a typo?
No pre-project photo existed here.
Jonathan, your caption says the diverter design is for 34th & Clinton, instead of 32nd. However, PBOT’s photo is *not* the intersection of 32nd & Clinton!
The diverter is going in at 32nd and Clinton. I’m not sure why PBOT used a different intersection in that photo render, but I wouldn’t make too much of it. Probably just a stock photo that they re-use. 32nd is the correct street.
I’m so very glad to see those are permanent. But, but, but — what about FINISHING the SE 19th Ave greenway [crossing at Bybee] that has been funded for TWO YEARS now and has been in design limbo ever since? All that’s supposed to go in there are crosswalks and RFB.
Off to email the Program Manager again…
This design is crap and drivers will just do what they already do and just drive in the opposite lane to go around the diverters. This should have been a dead end. If any thing it’s gonna be worse for cyclists at 32nd. With small curbs vs big cement barrels it does less to disincentive drivers.
Okay, so this is when the City should be getting many many messages from people to let them know that they’re good to have and to encourage them to put in more of them.
With traffic the way it’s going, it can be assumed that all greenways will need traffic diverters on them eventually.
I just started commuting on Clinton again after a ~2 year hiatus. It is absolutely a joy to ride now, and I’ve never seen more riders using it in the winter. I’m really happy the diverters are staying. Massive props to BikeLoudPDX for their significant victory, and to PBOT for having the political courage to follow through.
The cherry on top is the construction happening at 50th and Clinton which serves as an experimental diverter. If a permanent diverter were to be placed there, Clinton would become the gold standard to which other Portland greenways aspire.
Clinton is becoming the “gold standard”, but for expensive $1M new homes. I wonder if there is a connection between all the new affluence and the new traffic calming. Perhaps diverters will indeed come to the rest of the neighborhood as the new, giant homes get built on top of the empty lots left by the older, smaller ones.
This is gonna be SO great, and *such* an improvement from those crazy, weird, gigantic cement barrels that are currently there!
This Clinton diverter was obviously necessary, yet it took years and consumed a ridiculous amount of advocacy effort. But, it’s great. So kudos to PBOT for that, and thank you to the champions who helped.
When is the diverter at SE 50th and Clinton going in???
There needs to be an entry diverter and a signal to facilitate crossing of 50th. Clinton Street is so much better in the mornings now that the construction at that corner is blocking car access.