This post was submitted by BikePortland subscriber Adam Herstein. These posts usually appear on our Subscriber Posts page but we like to share them here on the Front Page when appropriate. — Ted
The permanent Clinton Street diverter at 32nd has been completed. This marks the conclusion of over a year of effort by BikeLoudPDX, planning by the city, and feedback from the community. The diverter is a new design for Portland, featuring two concrete pads that widen as one rides through that prevents cars from getting through, but is wide enough for a large cargo bike. Because of the nature of the diverter that allows for both right and left turns (but no straight movements) by drivers, it is unfortunately still possible to cheat the diverter by driving in the oncoming lane.
There has already been feedback from the community about the sterile appearance of the diverter, and consensus is growing that the diverter could use some “beautification”. Planters, flowers, and paint have all been suggested as ways to improve the look of the concrete pads. Officials from the city seem receptive to this idea, on the condition that it does not impede emergency access. Community members will continue to work with the city on this and hopefully will come up with a design that improves the attractiveness of the diverter.
I rode through the diverter this morning and it functions much better than the old temporary diverter that was fashioned from gravel-filled garbage bins. The opening is much wider and requires little to no weaving. On my 50 lb. Dutch bike, I had no problem navigating around the concrete pads, whereas with the old design I would often find myself riding in the oncoming lane. Illegal parking was a major issue with the temporary design – there was often a large boat that was parked very close to the opening, making the already tight turn even more tricky. The permanent design addresses this issue by moving the opening further toward the middle of the street. Even if someone was parked right up to the concrete pad, they would not be interfering with bicycle traffic.
Overall, it’s a good design that allows bicycles of all sizes to safely navigate though the diverter. The only issue seems to be about its appearance, and hopefully that can be addressed with a community effort. It’s been a long and bumpy road, but we finally have a safer Clinton Street. Thanks to PBOT, BikeLoudPDX, the Richmond Neighborhood Association, and everyone else who helped get this on the ground.