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In two separate events, north Portlanders will seek attention for dangerous streets

Posted by on October 19th, 2017 at 10:45 am

Flyer for tomorrow’s rally.

North Portlanders are tired of waiting for the City or advocacy groups to save them from the deadly streets in their front yards. They’re taking matters into their own hands by elevating voices of vulnerable road users and demanding attention for their concerns.

Two events in the coming week — one from the Arbor Lodge and Overlook neighborhood associations and one from the St. Johns Neighborhood Association — will focus on dangerous streets where motor vehicle users cause daily environmental, safety and public health problems.

This Friday (10/20) a group of St. Johns residents calling themselves Citizens for a Safe and Attractive Fessenden/St Louis will hold a rally to demand that the Portland Bureau of Transportation follow through with promises. Fessenden/St.Louis is a neighborhood collector street between Columbia Boulevard (to the north) and Lombard (to the south). Residents PBOT to fully implement the St. Johns Truck Strategy Phase II project that was approved after a 17 month public process in 2013 (as part of the St. Johns Truck Strategy adopted by City Council in 2001).

Initial impetus for the plan was to stop large semi-truck operators from using Fessenden as a cut-through. With that accomplished, residents say it’s still way too dangerous to walk and bike across the street. Phase II of the plan includes a host of projects aimed at making crossings safer. The St. Johns Neighborhood Association said in a letter to PBOT last month (PDF) that the streets, “continue to have an increasingly uncomfortable and unsafe barrier for people on foot.”

At a meeting about the project in June, PBOT stoked local ire by announcing that three of the promised crossing treatments would not be built in the expected timeframe. “The neighborhood,” states the letter, “led by local resident representatives of the Phase II planning stakeholder committee, responded with rightful frustration and disappointment, advocating for the complete funding and implementation of the HAWK and RRFB signals during the 2018 construction season.”


“The population that will be served by these signals is highly vulnerable and includes seniors, children, and people with disabilities.”
— Donna Cohen, rally organizer

Donna Cohen, a St. Johns resident organizing Friday’s rally, says, “The population that will be served by these signals is highly vulnerable and includes seniors, children, and people with disabilities.” Cohen also wants a commitment from PBOT that the signals will be installed in 2018 along with other improvements.

Asked to respond to these concerns, a PBOT spokesperson told us this morning via email that the agency is, “Fully committed to installing these crossing treatments, and we have expressed this commitment to the community on multiple occasions.” But PBOT also says that because the project is federally funded they aren’t able install these crossing treatments in this first phase of the project (we’ll seek to clarify, but assume this is because ODOT/feds don’t feel the crossings are warranted and/or they’ve been deemed beyond the scope of the original project). PBOT tells us they’ll install the new crossings in a second phase and reiterated that commitment by writing: “Bottom line: the promised pedestrian signals will be installed.”

For more details on tomorrow’s event, check out the listing on our calendar.

Southbound on Greeley at an awkward merge south of Going Street.
(Photo: Colin Reis)

And next Wednesday (10/25), residents of the Arbor Lodge and Overlook neighborhoods will host an open house to raise awareness of dangerous conditions on and around North Greeley Avenue. Similar to Fessenden, Greeley is a major collector street that has seen an increase in cut-through traffic in recent years and residents are fed-up with the dangerous conditions.

“Arbor Lodge NA has heard numerous complaints of people feeling unsafe walking, riding a bike, or driving a car on or on streets near N Greeley,” wrote local resident Christopher Jones. “In most cases, this is during morning or evening commute times, as unsafe drivers attempt to get around congestion on Greeley by driving on parallel streets.”

Jones said their goal with Wednesday’s open house is to collect stories in hopes of creating urgency for safety upgrades. “In the past year or so,” he shared, “our neighborhood has seen two deaths and a paralysis on or near Greeley, and those things have happened to people walking, riding a bike, and driving a car. We all use the streets, and we all want to be safe.”

This isn’t the first time Arbor Lodge residents have had to organize for safer streets. Last year they held a rally and vigil following a spate of fatal and injury collisions.

If you can’t make it to the open house, the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Association has posted an online survey where you can share your concerns.

PBOT just repaved N Greeley from Interstate to Lombard and had intended to build a physically protected bikeway between Interstate and Greeley. Unfortunately that project has been postponed until at least this coming spring.

See the calendar listing for more information on this event.

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

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23 thoughts on “In two separate events, north Portlanders will seek attention for dangerous streets”

  1. Avatar maxD says:

    The concrete path that serves as a sidewalk and bike route to connect the lone sidewalk on Interstate to Greeley is also used a driveway to Hazelnut Grove. There are regular large vehicles that use it to service the port-a-potties and pick up the trash, random people use it all hours to make deliveries, and the residents have a pick-up that they store on-site (only accessible from the bike path).

    Greeley desperately needs safety improvements, and I strongly hope they include them on BOTH sides of Greeley. The idea to put an MUP on the east side causes too much out of direction travel for people on bikes. I also think the City MUST create a driveway and service yard off Greeley for Hazelnut Grove to mitigate the risk they have created.

    1. hi maxD. Those are important comments and I hope you can get them onto the online survey if not attend the open house in person.

      As for Greeley. I think having a bikeway on just one side makes pretty good sense in this location. The west side has 2 sketchy, high-speed merges and zero destinations. Is it that big of a deal to cross over to it up at Going? And I like your driveway idea, but I’d have to know how often that path near Hazelnut Grove is blocked/used by trucks and other vehicles. And I’m sure that some of the residents there ride bikes and would be sympathetic to safety concerns. Any Grove folks reading this care to comment?

      1. Avatar Stephen Keller says:

        I don’t see how you can call this a zero-destination route. Greeley is the fastest connector from Willamette Blvd. to the Broadway Bridge and Rose Quarter. Being forced to cross Greeley twice at lights will add enough time that diverting over the Interstate will be about a wash in terms of time. Riding at 6:00 am, I don’t find that the merges to be burdensome, but I get that things are terrible later in the day.

        Since the rise of Hazelnut Grove; my wife and I have stopped using the east-side of Greeley for the rides home. Debris, vehicles, the occasional couch and some uncomfortably sketchy people impeded the path often enough at the times we tried using it that we gave up. It’s been a year, maybe things have improved. I don’t know. Our regular commutes frequently put us going from Rose Quarter to St. Johns after dark. Despite the traffic, Interstate feels safer. Additionally, it doesn’t have a complicated exchange at N. Going St. to deal with like Greeley does.

        If the city insists on a MUP on the east side of Greeley at the expense of removing the bike lane on the west side, I’ll probably switch over to Interstate for the winter morning commutes and leave 15 minutes earlier to catch my Hillsboro train. Perhaps, I am biased, but I don’t like the idea of riding through Hazelnut Grove at 6:00 am.

        1. Stephen,

          Because I was referring to the lack of destinations like stores and residences and restaurants on the west side of Greeley. I obviously understand that Greeley is a vital connector TO destinations.

          As for your concerns about merging and the removal of the west side bike lane with creation of the MUP on the east side… You have very valid concerns.

  2. Avatar maxD says:

    Jonathan, you asked” Is it that big of a deal to cross over to it up at Going?” I think it is a pretty big deal. If you are heading south on Greeley now, you rarely miss the light at Going and can take a right on red if necessary at Interstate. If they move the bike lane to the other side, you be waiting at Going and waiting at Interstate. It is longer, slower and counter intuitive. Does the City really need to maintain the ramp on to I-405? Freight can pretty easily access that by heading up Going- is it really such a big deal for them to access the highway from Going instead of Greeley? Has the City considered putting a bike/walking path on the west side if Greeley, outside of the Greeley ramp? I have encountered vehicles about 6 times pulling out of this path on to the bike lane of Interstate.
    In terms cars and trucks using the bike path, I am guessing that the usage is fairly low, maybe monthly or bi-monthly. However, this is a very dangerous location (high-speed bike lane, low-visibility, unexpected location for vehicle pulling out across sidewalk/no driveway) and is the spot where a person riding a bike was killed less than 10 years ago.

    1. Avatar Travis says:

      The current alternative for less confident cyclists and those who have had life-flashing experiences on Greeley is the much longer, less direct Vancouver or Interstate option. If we’re trying to improve access and number of people commuting to “central city” from STJ, UP, Mockcrest, Kenton, Portsmouth, and Arbor Lodge residents, a safer more accessible Greeley is huge and will come at the expensive of current ride time on the route — by like 2-3 mins. The west side route, without access to UP’s yard, is just too uninviting for and a major barrier for many who might consider riding.

      The east side MUP isn’t perfect, but it so much better than anything, on any route today.

  3. Avatar Matthew in Portsmouth says:

    I really dislike the buck passing that is going on here – it’s a federal issue, an ODOT issue. When no one agency is responsible for something, no one takes responsibility. Essentially PBOT, ODOT and USDOT need to have their feet held to the coals and get this done, specifically they need to get trucks off Lombard and on N Columbia (which has minimal pedestrian traffic for most of its length). If that can’t happen they need to create a truck/freight route that avoids residential areas, health care facilities, schools, etc. North Portland has always been residential, but until recently the population was predominantly minority racial groups, and federal, state and local politicians and bureaucrats didn’t seem to care two hoots about them.

    1. Avatar Travis says:

      Yet North Columbia does have a school and a still growing residential area split from the rest of St. Johns. I think we’ll see fewer trucks on Lombard through Portsmouth (especially if HWY 30 designation is removed), but Ivanhoe and Lombard access to the St. Johns Bridge from Rivergate/Marine Drive is not going anywhere anytime soon. Expect freight and car traffic to grow. Focus needs to be on continued calming, weekend/evening restrictions (permitting too) for freight, and cleaner truckers. There are tons of options or at least consideration to better improve safety and optimization along freight routes, but NW Container and the intermodal yards etc are too happy doing business as usual. We need a significant disruption to get them at the table.

      1. Avatar Bald One says:

        I agree with you. Rivergate area is going to see much more traffic (commuters and trucks) in the next 10 years, and so much of it is going on N. Columbia or over SJB through downtown SJ’s.

        1. Avatar Travis says:

          Amazon is adding 700 parking spaces. A complete NP Greenway would be huge for their new Rivergate operation. Improved 11 service too.

  4. Avatar rh says:

    Adidas is going to expand and add 1100 more employees to their campus in the next few years.

    If 90% of these new employees drive to work and the average car is 20 feet long, then that is an extra 3.75 miles of cars backed up each day during rush hour(s)…which makes longer transit times, more frustration, and more people looking for a shortcut. Livability will continue to drop.

    1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

      Man, that’s horrible! More jobs in a dense area served by transit nearby.

      Is the average car 20 feet long? I can imagine a car and the space around it might be…but an average 20 foot long car would suggest a range, probably between 15-25 feet. I’m not aware of any cars that long.

  5. Avatar Bald One says:

    N. Portsmouth can be really hard to get across. So many kids and regular folks trying to cross that street, everyday. Speeds are too fast, and there can be no breaks in traffic, and nobody willing to stop for peds. They absolutely need to get these crossing signals in ASAP.

  6. Avatar Bald One says:

    The paving project on N Greeley was only from Going to Lombard, not all the way down the hill to Interstate.

  7. Avatar Bald One says:

    I think the safety issues/concerns around Greeley are the upper section – from Killingsworth to Lombard, and all the cut-through traffic in Arbor Lodge attempting to get to the lower section of Greeley, not so much the lower section discussed here. Not the hill section of Greeley.

    As for a 2-way MUP on Lower Greeley hemmed up by jersey barriers – this remains a really rotten idea as earlier proposed. If the city could annex more land in the shoulder on the east side and deal with the Hazelnut grove area ramps as discussed above (these obstruction allegations are true) by widening the path and keeping it clear (this homeless camp is the best in the city – very clean, very well maintained, but the path remains troublesome due to frequent blockages and debris); and the city could build a two-way down/up hill MUP properly, with efficiently and quickly moving commuter cyclists in mind as the number one objective, then I would like to hear how they would do it. But, the earlier proposal was just another tack-on, poorly conceived, poorly funded project afterthought, rather than a first class design improvement.

    1. Avatar Travis says:

      The beauty of jersey barriers is we can move them in a few years when a better option is immediately available. But I get concerns of settling for a weaker maybe temporary solution.

      1. Avatar Bald One says:

        Maybe, but if you look at the St John’s truck strategy the city laid out in 2001, some of it is still not done. I have numerously complained directly to the city about the safety of vulnerable road users in N. Portland, including the exact areas laid out by the SJ Truck Strategy for improvements, only to be told “it’s slated for improvement next year” – year after year after year. Haven’t you all been told this by the city, only to have these plans, that have been developed at huge cost to the tax payer never be implemented? This city really needs to figure out how to get things done instead of just talking about it and laying plans, spending money without enacting any physical actions.

    2. Avatar Alex says:

      As someone who lives in North Portland, I whole-heartedly agree with this comment. The 2-way MUP that was proposed would not make me use Greeley. I will continue to use Interstate – which isn’t that great either, but I try to minimize my time on that as well. The jersey barriers are fine, I just think it is going to be “good enough” and it will be left that way. I would personally love to see a path on the west side and have it cut under the on-ramp to i5 and a ped/bike bridge going over the on ramp to Greeley from Going. That’s probably railroad land so it won’t happen, but it would make the most sense to me.

  8. Avatar Christopher Jones says:

    Thanks for posting about these, Jonathan!

    We’re looking forward to seeing people at Madrona Hill on Wed 10/25. Huge thanks to them for the space!

    1. Avatar Travis says:

      Glad neighborhood is organizing on this. A group from STJ had just discussed reaching out.

  9. Avatar Donna Cohen says:

    If ya’ll can see this you’ll see there is no evidence that ODOT cannot combine federal and local funds. We’ve received no response yet. Regardless, PBOT has yet to give us a substantive reason why we would NOT qualify for the warrant. I am presenting evidence to the Press at the rally tomorrow. Hope you’ll come Jonathan!

    Well, I guess I can’t paste a picture here. It was an email sent to ODOT with documentation from their own materials indicating that federal/local money can be combined. We asked for a response to this issue and documentation proving otherwise. No response.

    Hi Donna. I’ve pasted that image below – Jonathan

    1. Avatar Donna Cohen says:

      Thanks, Jonathan!
      And, I meant to say “a response to this issue OR documentation proving otherwise”.

  10. Lenny Anderson Lenny Anderson says:

    Let’s build the Willamette Greenway Trail through Swan Island (a cycle track/MUP along N. Basin), and convert the Ash Grove Cement Road to a public ROW! No more Willamette Blvd and no more N. Greeley.

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