Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Time to design a permanent bikeway on NE Multnomah through the Lloyd District

Posted by on July 11th, 2017 at 7:47 am

Policymakers Ride 2014-53

(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s good, but it should be great.

Nearly five years after it first opened, it’s time to implement a permanent design for the protected bikeway on Northeast Multnomah Street through the Lloyd District. Hopefully one that’s truly befitting of one of America’s best biking cities — not an overly comprised, on-the-cheap, paint-and-posts half-measure.

Go Lloyd, a city-subsidized nonprofit that manages transportation demands in the area, will host an open house tonight (7/11) aimed at improving how the bikeway looks and functions. This action on what’s arguably Portland’s best protected bikeway (not saying much) comes three years after a task force for the project agreed to make the changes permanent. Like many of Portland’s bikeway innovations, the parking and planter-protected bike lane was initially done as a pilot. Also like many of Portland’s bikeway innovations, it worked.

An evaluation by Go Lloyd found that the pilot has been “enormously positive… the street is working much better for all road users.” Specifically, 47 percent more people rode bicycles on the street after the protection was added, while driving decreased by 23 percent. Speeding dropped in half and 89 percent of those surveyed said the street felt safer to bike on. All this happened while travel time through the corridor either decreased or was unchanged.


Goals of the project as per Go Lloyd.

While the new bikeway works, it should be much better. People who drive on the street still park in the buffer zone and bike lane, which squeezes bike riders into the curb and blocks traffic. The planters (large cylindrical concrete drums not intended to be used for this purpose) are often hit by drivers and are expensive to maintain.

NE Multnomah Bikeway

Too many people park in the buffer zone. The permanent design must do a better job defining the spaces.

Go Lloyd has funding to start on a permanent design and once a new plan is in place they’ll be able to partner with the Bureau of Transportation to go after federal and regional grants, system development charges (SDCs), and other sources of funds. Engineers will use feedback from the open house to solidify cost estimates and plans by this fall. Go Lloyd says the project is a “near term priority” for PBOT and there’s potentially $2 million from SDCs that could be used to pay for most of the construction.

Attendees of tonight’s open house will be able to view and offer feedback on the current design options under consideration. The event is from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Oregon Square Park. For more info, see the event listing and check out the project page on Go Lloyd’s website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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  • bikeninja July 11, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Thanks for the heads up, This looks like the kind of event where we can have an effect on how cycling infrastructure unfolds in part of Portland. I think that this one can be especially productive because the real estate interests in the LLoyd district are mostly on our side as they realize that because there is little of no free parking for residents promoting safe and easy cycling makes apartments there easier to rent.

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  • paikiala July 11, 2017 at 9:04 am

    It’s disingenuous to use a photo of an unpainted ‘buffer’ as an example of persons driving parking in a buffer.

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    • maccoinnich July 11, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Not really; if you look carefully you’ll see that the paint has worn off.

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      • Adam
        Adam July 11, 2017 at 10:00 am

        And the planters are missing in most places, or in one extreme example, actually in the bike lane. That protected bike lane is a joke; I can’t wait for something more permanent and useful to be built.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

      come on paikiala… it should be obvious to anyone familiar with the project that people parking in the painted buffer – and in the bikeway itself – is a very common occurrence. And the photo I use above is painted. It’s just worn off… which is a great example of why we need to improve the project and do it better next time.

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      • Bill July 11, 2017 at 10:00 am

        As someone that has NE Multnomah on my commute, there’s always someone parked in the buffer or trying to make a right turn through the buffer because the paint’s worn off. The contractors working on the mall renovation were also parking or idling trucks in the bike lane a lot over the past six months. The planters also get hit and skid into the bike lane every month or two, though the city is pretty good about moving them back. So I’m hopeful this leads to a better and more durable long-term design, but given how long it would take to get the new design in place they should really at least repaint the current design.

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    • Champs July 11, 2017 at 9:54 am

      …and I think it’s disingenuous to only show cars in the buffer when it’s often much worse than that.

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    • Dan A July 11, 2017 at 10:04 am

      My office looks directly down on that stretch of road.

      Parking at that location is good or bad depending on the day and how the first driver parks. Every driver after that follows the cue set by the first driver, it seems. I used to consistently see drivers parked right up to the bike lane every day, but I think it has gotten better lately, and the buffer is currently painted with chevrons, which makes it a lot more obvious.

      Looking out the window now, the cars are parked with their right wheels on the outside line of the buffer, which is okay. Not great, but much better than before.

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  • maccoinnich July 11, 2017 at 9:10 am

    From the open house website:

    “The project is also on the Transportation System Plan project list for the next 10 years so it has been identified as a near term priority for the city. it is also on the the Portland Bureau of Transportation System Development Charges (SDCs) project list. This means there’s potentially $2 million dollars provided from development fees to help pay for the majority of construction. Thus we anticipate that construction could potentially begin within the next 3-5 years. ”

    The glacial speed at which transportation projects move forward is incredibly frustrating.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

      I couldn’t agree more maccoinnich. I was going to add something to that effect to the story but ended up leaving it out…. I also thought it might not be 3-5 years by the time something new gets built here. I figured let’s wait and see once plans are solidified.

      but yes, GLACIAL speeds are killing us. incrementalism is killing us. We know what to do yet we can’t manage to do it fast enough. it’s so excruciating.

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      • Adam
        Adam July 11, 2017 at 9:58 am

        Portland’s public process is broken. They’ve given up any semblance of efficiency in the name of transparency, inclusiveness, and openness. (Except they don’t even adhere to those principles very well either, but that’s another story). There must be some middle ground. The time for open houses, “involving all stakeholders”, etc. should be during the master planning phase only. Once a viable plan is in place, the barriers to implementation should be minimal. All PBOT would need to do in that case, is point to the plan that we all helped develop, and then move to implement. The fact that we need to repeat the planning phase for every single tiny project is just asinine.

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        • VRU July 11, 2017 at 11:36 am

          Does PBOT hold open houses and delay construction for 7 years when they install a new sidewalk or pedestrian signals? Perhaps its time to stop having a public process about necessary transportation safety improvements just because they happen to benefit a transportation outgroup.

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      • Phil Richman July 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm

        In the meantime other cities throughout the US and world are fast-tracking such changes without all the project by project public input/meetings. Build protected bike lanes NOW!

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  • paikiala July 11, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Any raised protective median should be narrower than the current paint, to facilitate passing and increase the attractiveness for multiple users.

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  • rick July 11, 2017 at 9:38 am

    yes indeed

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  • Dan A July 11, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I still wish they had made Holladay St car-free. It’s just a single-lane one-way road that only goes 12 blocks, but somehow we couldn’t get it done. I ride up it in the morning over the sharrows, and get to enjoy drivers breathing down my neck like they are in a hurry to get somewhere, despite there being multiple red lights all the way up, and Multnomah Street just to the north of it.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 11, 2017 at 10:41 am

    This is one street where solid barriers would be appropriate, because there are few driveways and not a lot of need for cyclists to move in and out of the bike lane for turns etc.

    However, I think a waist-high concrete wall is unnecessary. A 4″ curb separating the bike lane from the parking would be sufficient. Drivers won’t drive over a 4″ curb simply to parallel park. If you’re worried about trucks loading, then make it a 6″ curb. Of course, the curb should be placed at the edge of the buffer closest to the road centerline, to maximize the width of the bike lane.

    The trickier issues, I think, are how to handle the intersections.

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    • Bill July 11, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      I went to the open house (well, park) during my lunch — they’re looking at either a curb / series of bollards for a separated but otherwise at grade cycle track, or one that’s an extension of the sidewalk at sidewalk height. They also had a couple options for the intersections, from basically what we have currently to maintaining the separation and installing bike signals with their own phases.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth July 11, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    There has been an uptick in housing construction/development around the Lloyd District, and I think it would be to the city’s great advantage to transform this whole area into a pedestrian and cycle friendly precinct so that the residents of the new multi-family housing are encouraged to walk, bike and use transit as their primary means of transport. I think it is a pity that the Lloyd Center Mall is surrounded by parking lots that make it less than welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists, but it was built in the 1950’s/1960’s. It would be so much nicer if these malls had greater connectivity to the people living nearby. Gateway/Mall 205, Washington Square and Clackamas Town Center are pretty much the same – destinations you drive to (although fewer are these days). I think if malls were places you could walk to and enjoy, they might not be on life support.

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  • Steve B. July 11, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    What’s going on with Holladay? It would be nice to see some improvements there after punting on them years ago.

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    • Dan A July 11, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      We can’t possibly do without the parking on Holladay. That’s why it hasn’t been improved.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 13, 2017 at 8:10 am

    You can give your input online too, follow the links in the post.

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