Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 28th, 2017 at 8:30 am
Looking to improve safety and bicycle network connectivity in the central eastside, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is proposing a new protected bike lane on Southeast Morrison between Grand and 11th and a new bike lane on Belmont between Grand and 7th.
Morrison, which runs westbound toward the Willamette River, is designed as a couplet with eastbound Belmont. But for some strange reason (anyone know the history here?), there’s one eastbound lane on Morrison for the six blocks between Grand and 11th.
In a notice to nearby residents and business owners sent out earlier this month, PBOT asked for feedback for a new configuration that would shift the striping on Morrison, remove this eastbound lane, and add a protected bike lane. In addition, the project would re-stripe Belmont from Grand to 7th to add an eastbound bike lane.
“The unbalanced lane configuration in this section of SE Morrison is unusual and PBOT engineers are concerned about traffic safety,” reads the notice.
Here’s more from PBOT:
PBOT is proposing to remove this one eastbound lane and restripe SE Morrison as west-bound only consistently. This proposed change would maintain existing parking on both sides of the street and allow for a protected bike lane to be installed. The project would have the benefit of separating freight and bicycle traffic, ease pedestrian crossings, and would improve freight access to the Morrison Bridge off of 7th Avenue. PBOT would shift the striping slightly on SE Belmont from Grand to 7th to include an eastbound bike lane to complete the connection for cyclists; the number of motor vehicle lanes and parking on SE Belmont will not change.
Here’s the current configuration:
PBOT has shared these elements of the proposed configuration:
I’ve always thought this contraflow lane was awkward and unneccessary. PBOT data shows it gets very little use and over 96 percent of eastbound traffic uses Belmont instead. In their recent notice, PBOT points out that construction closures of the lane have had “little impact” on auto traffic.
And the safety issues are real. PBOT cites state data showing over 300 crashes in a 10-year period between Grand and 11th. 44 of them were directly related to the eastbound lane, 17 led to injuries and four of them involved bicycle users. PBOT also says the current lane configuration makes it more difficult to walk across Morrison because people have to look both ways for oncoming traffic.
The lack of a bikeway on inner Morrison — a key way to connect to the protected path on the Morrison Bridge — also exposes vulnerable road users to unnecessary risk. This has become an even greater problem since PBOT installed a protected bike lane between Grand and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd back in October.
To garner feedback and comments on the proposal, PBOT is circulating an online survey. They want to know how often survey takers travel on Morrison, what modes of transportation they use most often, and whether or not people support the proposal in general.
The survey is open until July 10th. You can also contact PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff directly at Gabriel.Graff@portlandoregon.com.