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Comment of the Week: How to fix east Portland’s scary streets

Posted by on February 2nd, 2018 at 11:54 am

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Welcome to our Comment of the Week. We do this post not only to highlight a useful or funny or creative insight, but also to help educate you about what makes a good comment. It’s part of our effort to improve the quality of the discussion here on BikePortland. We get hundreds of comments each week, so you can help us find the best ones by replying to one with “Comment of the week.” Thanks.]

Many people are overwhelmed by the scale of changes needed to significantly tame auto traffic on east Portland’s fast and wide arterials. When we talk about how to fix this persistent problem, the discussion swings between everything from lower speed limits and road diets — to land-use and demographic patterns.

The death yesterday morning of yet another person walking on outer Southeast Stark had commenters once again sharing ideas on what can be done to make meaningful progress on safer streets in that part of our city.

As I read through the 400 or so comments left on the site this week, I felt like one from David Hampsten deserved to be singled-out. David is a well-known east Portland transportation activist. Unfortunately (for us), he relocated from Portland to North Carolina a few years ago. We are grateful he continues to share his insights in our comment section.

When the comments on our post about the most recent fatality on Stark turned to ways to make east Portland streets safer, David wrote:

“East Portland very much reflects most of the rest of the USA, very suburban and auto-oriented. You are right, the cost of ‘fixing everything,’ that is, making East Portland just like inner Portland, is cost-prohibitive. The zoning is neither here nor there – most of East Portland that you see now was already built when the city annexed the area 1986-1991. The odd thing is, when it was part of the county, parking was banned on all arterial and most collector streets, so taking away parking is possible. Some at PBOT do in fact desire reducing lanes and traffic throughput on East Portland streets, but there are others at PBOT who don’t.

However, there are other options. Instead of ‘fixing’ East Portland to be like inner Portland, why not explore the possibility of using the existing street grid there to make driving difficult within its superblocks, but biking and walking easier? From there, might you create a network of one-way arterial roads, such as Stark east-bound only and Glisan west-bound only, and use the ‘saved’ lanes for protected bike lanes, pocket parks, and sidewalk cafes? Could Division & Powell also be a set of one-way couplets?”


This comment hits all the right notes: it shares useful, on-topic knowledge; it offers insights based on real experience; and it proposes inspirational new ideas on how to fix a problem. Thank you David! Hope all is well in North Carolina.

We also have an honorable mention this week.

On Monday, bikeninja made us smile when he shared the comment below on our post about how a permitting oversight led to a major bike lane blockage on NW 14th Avenue:

“We know that we are living in a better (and more sustainable) world when permit Snafus remove an entire freeway, and PBOT has to have a staffer who coordinates the occasional “Summer Motorways” when the dusty old motorcars are unpacked from their garages and driven around in a loop of neighborhood streets where they are normally prohibited.”

Thank you everyone for your comments (both here and on our social media channels). Remember, what you write in the comment section is just as important as what we write in our posts.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Todd Boulanger February 2, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    PBoT (plus MultCo and ODoT) really need to rethink what the “sustainable” carrying capacity of its regional roadways are vs. just the “lane capacity”…this would likely lower 85th% speeds, reduce most arterials to 3 lanes (2 thru + median), limit MV volumes (15k with signalized intersections or 25k with compact roundabouts). Just because the CoP annexed these arterials in an “as is” rural/ suburban design they should rethink the speed limits and other factors given the last 60 years of changes.

    Such as using Charlie Zegeer et al’s research on MV volume, speed and number of arterial lanes to limit the sustainable ADT of arterials that do not have the pedestrian safety mitigations already installed at unsignalized intersections. [CZ’s research usually is used to pinpoint where these marked crosswalks with mitigations should be added – but I am suggesting that the OPPOSITE be done at the initial stage: limit the volume/ speed/ and or number of lanes TO FIT the existing pedestrian facilities for traffic safety in the near term until these outdated arterials can be modernized as urban multimodal facilities. Use the ADA in the PROW if you need a ‘policy hammer’…]

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 2, 2018 at 12:59 pm

      I agree that any real solution will likely reduce capacity. That represents a cost to residents. How much is safety worth? Does that calculus change depending on your economic circumstances? Who gets to decide? Those are the interesting questions that need to be discussed.

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      • Chris I February 2, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        The problem is that humans are really bad at analyzing risk on an individual level. It’s easy to calculate the cost of 5 minutes of extra congestion on your commute, but it’s really hard to calculate the cost of the odds that you or someone you love will die or have a life-altering injury from a motor-vehicle crash. How much would I pay to get my cousin back? How much would my aunt pay? How much would her neighbor pay? How much would someone who never knew him pay?

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      • 9watts February 3, 2018 at 7:41 am

        “any real solution will likely reduce capacity. That represents a cost to residents.”

        Again, I ask, why this predictable focus on the costs? This bias gets us nowhere. Let’s start to focus on the benefits that these changes can be counted on to deliver and calculate backwards from them. Time Is Not Money, despite what you’ve been told.

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        • Kyle Banerjee February 3, 2018 at 9:05 am

          It’s predictable because it’s an basic and sensible thing to ask. Resources are finite so costs are necessary for prioritization. Otherwise, you run out of money spending it on things that don’t reflect priorities.

          Costs are much easier to bear when someone else is covering them — especially when the claim is raised that it benefits the people paying rather than the people asking for the money to be spent.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty February 3, 2018 at 11:57 am

          Pretending there are no tradeoffs is not going to make the costs disappear. I say, ask the people who live there what they want. And let them have it.

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          • 9watts February 3, 2018 at 12:50 pm

            “Pretending there are no tradeoffs…”

            Who are you referring to?

            There are all sorts of tradeoffs, but if we, like you, always and predictably get hung up on a negative (cost) rather than acknowledging and exploring the positive (anticipated benefits) that we might imagine were the whole reason for considering this in the first place, I think we’d stand a much better chance of not only having a productive discussion but actually advancing on this problem.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty February 3, 2018 at 1:16 pm

              The payoff is… gentrification!

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              • 9watts February 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm

                You are being ridiculous.

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              • David Hampsten February 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm

                You are about 5 years too late. East Portland is already gentrifying or fully gentrified, with many existing residents so badly priced-out they either moved out of state or are living in one of the many East Portland homeless camps.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty February 3, 2018 at 3:59 pm

                Fully gentrified? Make the area into a bike and walk paradise, and I promise you, there will be plenty of headroom in housing prices.

                My point is not that we should improve E Portland, but rather that there are tradeoffs, and the people who will enjoy the benefits and pay the cost should be the ones to decide if they’re worth it.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty February 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm

                Uh, “not that we should NOT improve E Portland”

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              • 9watts February 3, 2018 at 4:09 pm

                “the people who will enjoy the benefits and pay the cost should be the ones to decide if they’re worth it.”

                This is fine on its face, but statements like this could also be interpreted as a way of kicking the can down the road, helping to make nothing happen. Leadership would involved either proposing a change and asking for input (and taking that input seriously), or setting up a process for generating solutions by soliciting input up front. Either way this sitting back and opining that we here have nothing to offer strikes me as an unwarranted abdication of responsibility for helping to solve these problems we all bear some (historical) responsibility.

                To give an example, if we had taken your advice on the Sellwood bridge, the citizens of Clackamas Co., who by most accounts are the chief users of the bridge, would never have ponied up the money. Do you really believe that that would have been a better outcome?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty February 3, 2018 at 4:16 pm

                E Portland has leaders, and has developed its own plan. That’s what PBOT is implementing.

                Just as I don’t want people from E Portland telling my neighborhood how it should fix its problems, I don’t think it’s my place to tell them.

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              • David Hampsten February 3, 2018 at 6:34 pm

                The East Portland In Motion, as approved by Council in 2012, was meant as a temporary 5-year fix, a band-aid if you will. It was never meant as a long-term fix. I agree with 9watts, a substantial fix will be much harder. Since East Portland has no power in controlling it’s own destiny given the way City Council is elected and money is controlled, leadership is needed and it must come from City Hall.

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              • paikiala February 4, 2018 at 10:01 am

                putting ones wants (convenience, less delay) ahead of others needs (safety) is excessively selfish.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty February 4, 2018 at 12:15 pm

                I would hope that those “others” would have a voice as well.

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          • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:09 am

            “ask the people who live there what they want. And let them have it.”

            no, never, not on my life!

            they already go what they wanted, fast traffic that kills… it’s time we get what everybody wants, safe transportation…

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty February 4, 2018 at 12:19 pm

              It’s easy to make tradeoffs when someone else pays the price.

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              • Gary February 5, 2018 at 8:20 am

                As your discussion on “cost” seems to be focused on the non-monetary side (after all, no one would should argue these residents would bear the monetary cost on their own)–Is your proposition that these are equally weighted values, convenience and safety, in your hypothetical will-of-the-local-person test? I.e., if we put it out to the residents of the area, and 70% said they wanted to drive faster, and 30% said they wanted their children to less less likely to be killed, would the 70% win?

                Regardless, in my anecdotal observations, it’s less often the neighborhood resident that objects to enhancing safety. It’s typically the passer-through.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty February 5, 2018 at 11:09 am

                It’s not “drive faster” or “be safer” as if there were some sort of binary choice, but rather how much of each along a continuum of tradeoffs. We make this tradeoff everywhere in life; perfect safety would create a non-functional society. So, no, I don’t envision a vote of “convenience” vs. “safety” where they are weighed equally, but rather a nuanced conversation about how far to go, where, and how fast.

                When I see suggestions such as turn all the E Portland arterials into single lane one-way streets, I suspect there would be near unanimity by residents that that pushes the balance too far in favor of safety. I also suspect there would be general agreement that the current situation is too dangerous.

                Where is the correct balance? Let the people who live there decide.

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      • Dave February 3, 2018 at 9:25 am

        Reducing capacity is GOOD–it will slow drivers down.

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      • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:08 am

        “I agree that any real solution will likely reduce capacity. That represents a cost to residents.”

        and to them I look them straight in the face and say “so what?”

        their life is not more important than the lives of others… yes, it will take you longer to get places to ensure you don’t kill anyone…

        too bad… you’ll have to deal with it…

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty February 4, 2018 at 12:24 pm

          You are making the assumption that people walking and people driving are distinct populations that want very different transportation systems. I’m not sure that’s true.

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          • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 12:31 pm

            I’m assuming that people using different transportation systems want different transportation systems? maybe I am…

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty February 4, 2018 at 12:43 pm

              You’re assuming that someone walking or taking transit at one moment isn’t traveling by car at another, and vice versa.

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        • billyjo February 5, 2018 at 7:42 am

          and too bad…. you’ll get ignored.

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    • paikiala February 4, 2018 at 9:43 am

      PBOT already does this with the NCHRP 562 protocols. Originally designed to reduce delay to auto traffic (TTI, go figure), used in reverse, by not measuring pedestrian or bike use, but by setting a pedestrian or bike service level, and then identifying the crossing changes needed to make the crossing compatible. This could include road diets to alter the number of lanes crossed.

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      • paikiala February 4, 2018 at 9:45 am

        Zegeer originally only identified where it was ok to mark crossings and where not to, but provided no insight on how to ‘fix’ crossings in a similar way NCHRP 562 does. The NCHRP coupled with the CMF clearinghouse, identifies how to make crossings safer.

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  • Holly February 2, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    This is such a great idea. I think about that when I visit my sister in the Hazelwood neighborhood (126th between Halsey and Glisan). You could cut off the interior streets to auto traffic, leaving them available for parks, bikes, basketball, a bodega, etc. Put a few parking lots and garages around the periphery. It would look less like inner city Portland and more like a college campus.

    It’s not the end goal, but I think it would make life IN the neighborhood more beautiful and movement-friendly.

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    • SilkySlim February 2, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      Sounds insane to look at Phoenix for inspiration, but having just returned from a business trip out there, I concur that their gigantic disaster of a desert sprawl kind of works because of this principal.

      The city is a massive grid with evenly spaced arterial roads frequently totaling 6 lanes of 45 mph traffic (and I’m not even getting into their highways…)

      BUT, livability seems decent because everything else is neighborhoods. The moment you turn off these big roads, you are in a community, often with nice winding roads that seem to limit cut throughs and even speeding.

      Ok yeah, like everybody drives everywhere, there are only chain restaurants clustered in malls, and walk scores are probably negative. BUT, with our density I actually think this super-arterial system would play nicely. The only tricky part would be making all the connections between the neighborhood clusters for pedestrians and bikers. Consistent bridges up-and-over the arterials would work for me!

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      • B. Carfree February 3, 2018 at 10:21 am

        I briefly lived in Lubbock TX back in the early ’90’s and it was similarly arranged. It had these monster six to eight lane behemoths every nine to fifteen blocks, but the rectangles created by them were nice little villages. In fact, there was no way out from the rectangles other than the point of entry, so cutting through was impossible (except on bike or foot since there were passages between streets to allow humans to move about easily). There were even alleys behind each block of houses that were primarily used for garbage dumpsters that were shared by the entire block so even garbage service was more efficient than we are used to.

        There was one breakdown in the system. The city had a beltline freeway that didn’t have any bike/ped tunnels, so the only way between the interior and outer regions of the city was to cross it on one of the behemoth arterials. It was only a couple of blocks and the motorists were very considerate (probably because someone on a bike was quite an unusual sight), but there were freeway on/off ramps to contend with and such. Still, my eight mile commute in Lubbock was better than most similar length commutes in Oregon except for the awful pervasive thorns (but that’s a completely separate issue).

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    • chris February 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Basketball? no thanks. Try getting a 7 month old down for a nap when you have to listen to the equivalent of someone throwing a tennis ball at your bedroom wall every 1.5 seconds…

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    • paikiala February 4, 2018 at 9:58 am

      There are already examples of this in Portland, intended future ‘through’ roads for cars, but where cars can’t currently get through, and where PBOT has no plans to change the lack of connection for cars.
      129th, Division to Powell is a local example

      PBOT has also intentionally constructed such grid breaks, or lack of connection:
      Holman at 13th:
      Klickitat at 23rd:
      70th, Emerson to Sumner:
      N Houghton at Central:

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  • pdx2wheeler February 2, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Sounds dangerous…! Maybe a black chain link fence across the road will fix things.

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    • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:15 am

      then after a couple of days put a “road closed” sign on the fence to let people know why it’s there…

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  • GlowBoy February 2, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    As we know, many arterials in east Portland have unprotected bike lanes, but they’re separated from the curb by lightly-used parking zones, putting the bike lanes out in the middle of an 80′ wide slab of pavement with cars going by fast.

    You would get the biggest safety benefit for the buck with a simple restripe, converting all of these streets – EVERY MILE of them – to parking-protected bike lanes. Just shift the bike lane next to the curb, and move the parking lane to the other side of it, next to traffic. In some cases you’ll need to cut some capacity or some of the center two-way turn lane to make room for buffer zones, but I suspect there’s enough extra pavement on many of those streets that it might not even be necessary.

    Then when people do choose to park cars on the street, it puts the parked cars in danger instead of vulnerable users. That will also make the road appear narrower and calm traffic. And when people don’t park, then you’ve got a ~10 foot buffer between the bike lane and traffic. As a regular rider of the Park/Portland couplet in south Minneapolis, I can attest to the wonders of a 15-20′ wide buffered bike lane.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 2, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      How to you ensure visibility for cyclists by drivers turning into driveways? Given the speed at which drivers are going, hooks seem like a real hazard.

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      • shirtsoff February 2, 2018 at 10:09 pm

        Planters or other lane delineators placed far enough before the driveways should increase visibility of vulnerable road users and prevent them from being obscured by parked vehicles. The speeds at which you calculate the line of sight may reduce the available on street parking quite a bit, but the reality would look something like the southern portion of NE Multnomah St at worst or SW 2nd Ave at best.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty February 2, 2018 at 10:27 pm

          I really don’t like SW 2nd. A similar design, with cars traveling 35 mph, making sudden turns into parking lots across my path when I can’t see them and they can’t see me… well, I’m skeptical.

          And even on 2nd, where traffic speeds are low, parked vehicles often encroach on the bike lane in order to get further out of traffic (or maybe they’re confused by all the linework, I don’t know). I’m sure that problem would be worse on a fast arterial.

          I think it’s going to take big measures: fewer lanes, slower speeds (perhaps) less parking. That will produce more congestion, lower throughput, increased travel times, perhaps more cut-through traffic.

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        • paikiala February 4, 2018 at 10:07 am

          Protected bike lanes work best where there are few roadway connections/intersections/driveways. Glisan, south side west of 148th, for example. Many downtown blocks don’t have driveways, but those with will need about 40 feet of clear zone for safer interaction. When residential lots are only 50-75 feet wide, you’d end up removing half the parking. Low speed is important also. The outer east busy streets should be moving to 30 mph in the near future, but that’s not low enough.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu February 2, 2018 at 10:55 pm

        Use curb bump outs to 1) force drivers to slow, make right angle turn, and enter narrow driveway and 2) prevent parking within 15′ of driveway to give clear visibility.

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  • curly February 2, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Tucson is the same. High speed limits, but the bike lanes are big enough the residents use them in their golf carts 🙂 Wide bike lanes everywhere in the suburbs.

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  • David Hampsten February 2, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    The point of my comment is that instead of complaining about how East Portland will never be like inner Portland, which tries to be inspired by Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Utrecht, why not instead build upon what East Portland already has, and try to create a “Houten, NL” instead? Houten is frequently cited as an ideal bike/walk community that pushes arterial car traffic to the edge of the city and makes the interior car-hostile.

    East Portland was developed primarily in the 60s and 70s based upon “best planning practices” of that period by the county. Multnomah County planners created huge “superblocks” of disconnected residential streets centered around public parks and public schools, with the intent of building sidewalks through the school properties to connect bicyclists and walkers to all sides of each neighborhood, but prevent cars from cutting through. This process abruptly ended when the City of Portland forcibly annexed the area 25-30 years ago.

    My intent on creating one-way thoroughfare couplets is not to add more traffic lanes on each road, but to force car traffic to use the existing lane configurations and block access in the opposite direction, creating a new one-way traffic pattern. Again, this reflects what I’ve seen as “best practices” coming from Europe and what is frequently advocated on this blog. The unused traffic lanes can then be used as bikeways, express dedicated bus lanes, parks, wider sidewalks, etc.

    Try to use your collective imagination on how to make East Portland more human-friendly without spending gobs of money – use what you have, rather than lament what you don’t have and never will.

    I’m fully convinced that East Portland is Portland’s future megacity, with an already higher population than any other district (it just recently passed inner SE/SEUL), generally higher density, much more stable geology when the big one hits, and far more ethnic diversity and children than any other district. Why not make it into your dream bike/walk community, an area with a 50% bike/walk mode share? You have all the tools you need – go for it!

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    • Jim Labbe
      Jim Labbe February 3, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      “The unused traffic lanes can then be used as bikeways, express dedicated bus lanes, parks, wider sidewalks, etc.”

      We could add street trees to this list. East Portland’s dearth of street trees (common knowledge to residents) was well documented in the recent City-wide street tree inventory and is particularly felt along the treeless arterials. More space for larger, healthier street trees would help mitigate the negative air and water quality impacts of vehicles to surrounding neighborhoods while contributing- with the wider sidewalks- to traffic calming and enhanced commercial activity.

      Which raises another thought. Could more of East Portland’s expansive arterials streets be repurposed for commercial redevelopment?

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      • David Hampsten February 4, 2018 at 10:47 pm

        Personally, I was thinking tree-lined sidewalk cafes and food-cart courts, with periodic cobble-stone plazas here and there, like in Rome, Dresden or Bruges.

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        • Jim Labbe
          Jim Labbe February 6, 2018 at 10:18 am

          Hm. That sounds a little boutique for East Portland. Maybe you were joking. But here is a nice example of how street in a post-WWII “suburban” neighborhood in Nijmegen, Netherlands integrated large healthy trees, bike & pedestrian uses, and two-way automobile traffic:

          This is a long block segment of this particular street with mixed one and two story residential and commercial so it is very similar to many East Portland thoroughfares.


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          • David Hampsten February 6, 2018 at 11:26 am

            No, I’m not joking. You know what East Portland looks like as much as I do. Most of the affected streets will continue to have their present land uses and setbacks, with lots of off-street parking, whether we want it or not. So I was thinking that East Portland arterials like Division or 122nd could use a lot more “little boutiques” and other visual softening, to remove some of the suburban grittiness that is all too common there.

            The Dutch example you show would require ripping up all of Division or any other street to do that project. It might work on Powell where there’s up to $110 million available for such a purpose, but simpler de-paving would be needed elsewhere given the limited funds available.

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      • billyjo February 5, 2018 at 7:52 am

        unfortunately the main reason there are not street trees out there is that the trees block signs and billboards. Safeway wants you to see their giant sign, trees would block that and well, money wins. sad but true.

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    • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:21 am

      I hate one-way streets… I picture downtown, with 5 lanes in one direction… no thanks… keep the streets 2-way and just severely restrict motor vehicle lanes, or ban motor vehicles completely and make them drive around the city… one-way streets are wide pieces of road that encourage speeding… unless it’s just 1 lane with obstacles immediately on each side…

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  • ed February 2, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Very surprised to see a suggestion of turning Stark or Glisan into massive one way arterials. One ways are very auto-centric and community killing measures and have no place in revising cities to human scale proportions if at all avoidable. But agreed that too many and too wide auto lanes on such streets now are the problem. This can be solved without resorting to antisocial and attention deadening one ways.

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    • David Hampsten February 2, 2018 at 5:59 pm

      But downtown is packed with one-way arterial streets. Are you suggesting that downtown streets ought to all be two-way?

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      • Eric Leifsdad February 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm

        The incessant stop lights keep downtown speeds in check. Long stretches of high-speed one-way streets can be very different beasts.

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        • David Hampsten February 3, 2018 at 2:30 pm

          Is the issue one of long stretches of 2-lane streets? Or the fact that they are one-way? If it’s the long stretches, then add roundabouts every quarter or eighth mile – with traffic only occupying 2 lanes in a space that currently allows 4 plus parking, there should be more than enough space for them. It should also slow traffic down to the posted 30 mph, rather than the current 40-45mph they move. If you block the rare cut-though routes with diverters, speed tables, and the like, traffic might move even slower still, slow enough that any hit pedestrians won’t die, or better yet, drivers can actually stop in time. And as another person mentioned, a one-way is easier for a pedestrian to cross.

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      • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:27 am

        yes, every one of them should be returned to a 2-way street… with a stop sign at every intersection instead of timed light allowing them to gain speed… wide open one-way streets encourage speeding and tunnel vision… a round-a-bout every eighth mile? your naivety is cute…

        I lived on a small unstriped street with speed bumps every 2 blocks… people would frequenty slow to 20 mph for the speed bump, them floor it for 2 blocks until the next bump… my house was between the 2 bumps… very scary when you’re playing with your toddler and dog on the front lawn…

        the point: if you give drivers 2 blocks of clear road they will abuse it… you have to keep them contained every chance you get… until the city is willing to do that then we’ll continue to have deaths and discussion about why we’re not doing it…

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty February 4, 2018 at 12:13 pm

          I’d sure hate to bike on a street like that. Or take transit.

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          • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 12:36 pm

            it wasn’t a bike or transit street, it’s SE 99th off Holgate… not sure why people used it as a cut-through so often… maybe to get to Harold or Foster? I thought it would be more calm than it was… but it’s a suburban mindset out there… it was horrible getting anywhere without a car… I had many cars come within inches of me because they wouldn’t legally yield like they were supposed to… just yell, honk, and keep speeding… how dare I try to legally cross the street…

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    • J.E. February 2, 2018 at 10:36 pm

      Short of converting to a woonerf or removing the cars altogether, I see nothing more pedestrian-centric than a *single-lane* one-way street. You look one direction to confirm there isn’t an oncoming motor vehicle, you cross 10-11 feet of pavement, and you’re done. Even without touching speed limits or other infrastructure, we could possibly achieve pedestrian Vision Zero overnight if we literally did nothing but convert all roadways in Portland to single-lane one-way streets.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 2, 2018 at 10:58 pm

        The possibility of converting the E Portland arterials to single lane one-way streets seems a tad… ambitious.

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      • Rich Herbin February 3, 2018 at 11:35 am

        With timed traffic lights on one way streets the cars move in “platoons”. Between those there is quiet time to cross calmly and safely. Unlike on signaled two way streets, cars in the platoons will hardly ever need to stop once they are in synch with the progression of green lights.

        One way probably would work well for the narrow nearby pairs of Division and Powell. Maybe not such a great idea for the four lane mini expressways like Halsey and Glisan.

        The speed control purposed traffic lights would have to be spaced a lot closer together than the ones that are now only at major intersections, but these added signals would not slow traffic at all other than holding it close to the timed speed. They would actually function sorta like a railroad block signal system.

        Compared to speed bumps and non existent “spot” police enforcement, this would actually work.

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        • David Hampsten February 3, 2018 at 2:15 pm

          In East Portland, quite the opposite of inner Portland, Division is a wide multilane and Powell is a narrow country road. My suggestion is to make Powell two-lane in one direction, which would not cost any extra right-of-way, and reduce Division from its present 8 lanes (2 traffic in each way, turn lane, 2 parking lanes, and 2 half-bike lanes) to just 2 traffic lanes in the other direction, plus maybe parking lanes when needed (rare), and use the remaining huge space for deluxe protected bike lanes and/or transit express lanes. Ditto for Glisan & Stark. Halsey, Foster, and Airport Way are a bit narrower, so reduce each to one traffic lane in each direction, turn lanes, and protected bike lanes. I could see 148th & 162nd as a north-south one-way couplet between Sandy and Powell. It would be more difficult to do the same on 102nd/112th & 122nd between Airport and Clatsop, but not impossible.

          As for preventing cut-through traffic, most of East Portland lacks a grid within superblocks, but in the few areas with useful cut-throughs, I’d suggest aggressive use of speed tables, speed pillows, chicanes, Terry-DM-type diverters, and choke points, nothing that PBOT hasn’t tried already in inner Portland.

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          • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:49 am

            2 lanes in one direction is too much for drivers in the city… that is a huge wide open area rife for speeding…

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        • Rain Waters February 3, 2018 at 3:02 pm

          People speed like its some sort of imperative. This habit is institutionalized. Drive at the posted speed, observe, learn and remember.

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        • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:39 am

          “Between those there is quiet time to cross calmly and safely.”

          I would say:
          “between those there is a gap filled by speeding motorists trying to catch up and not paying attention to the sidelines”…

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        • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:48 am

          have you been in one of those platoons on a one-way street downtown with timed lights to control the speed?

          take SW Market St coming off of Hwy 26 and heading to the river as an example…

          20 MPH posted limit… if I put it in 1st gear I can coast down that hill at 15 MPH and hit every light perfectly on the green cycle… however, I’m surrounded by cars swarming around me (presumably because I’m going slow) and speeding to the next light to stop and wait 5 seconds before they floor it and zoom to the next light… they pile up ahead of me, cutting me off, forcing me to brake and miss my light timing…

          what is your plan to keep these people from speeding between lights? cutting people off? passing via the turn lanes? getting them to slow for pedestrians in the 3 unsignaled blocks through the Park blocks area? stopping them from blocking the intersections because they didn’t make it across before the red?

          there is no plan… because to all that you need to reduce this to one very narrow lane with physical obstacles on each side…

          the real plan is to close that freeway exit and now allow people to cut through a downtown core on their way to somewhere else…

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    • Rich Herbin February 3, 2018 at 11:14 am

      The traffic lights on the one ways downtown are timed for 20 mph. Timed traffic lines can be used to effectively control the speeds on the newly “one wayed” streets. It might end up being a lot safer than the chaos we have now, and would certainly allow buses to move better.

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      • Rich Herbin February 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

        Timed traffic LIGHTS not lines…

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      • X February 3, 2018 at 9:50 pm

        Not accurate. It’s more like 12-13 mph during daytime hours.

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      • paikiala February 4, 2018 at 10:22 am

        12-18 mph actually, but the downtown signals are about 250-280 feet apart. This signal spacing is not sustainable in east Portland.
        Division from 82nd to 174th is about 24,000 feet. Say you put signals every 1,000 feet, so 24 new, connected and synchronized signals is $7.2 M ($300k per). You might get some good throughput in one direction, inbound AM – outbound PM, but the opposite direction would keep getting red signals (delay) on a 2-way street. To say nothing about the poor safety record of signals. One way couplets are notorious for increasing trip lengths, because you have to find the street in the direction you want to go. Quarter mile, 1/2 is better, is more typical if you want good bi-directional progression (and costs less), but after about 1,000 feet, people start speeding to get to the next signal, particularly if the speed limit is lower. Mill Plain in Vancouver has a signal progression system east of I-205 that works pretty good, at 40 mph, but when congestion occurs, everything sort of falls apart (Chakalov westbound PM).

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        • David Hampsten February 4, 2018 at 11:05 pm

          Instead of signals every 1,000 ft, how about variation of non-synchronized signals, RFBs, roundabouts, and mid-lane dividers like on Stark at 86th, to reduce the temptation to speed and hit lights on time? We are not trying to move as many cars as quickly as possible through the area, but rather trying to make the area as pedestrian-friendly as cheaply as possible. I want enough congestion that cars can’t move any faster than the posted speed limit, which ought to be reduced down to no more than 30 mph, preferably 25 mph. Since local streets are already being reduced to 20 mph, there would be no advantage to cutting through neighborhoods, especially if they have added diverters and speed tables. If people need to go fast, they ought to be using the interstates, not city streets.

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          • paikiala February 5, 2018 at 9:16 am

            Presuming most people obey speed limits, which I doubt, but I agree with the proposed form.

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  • RobotGirl February 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve recently become a new commuter to 122nd and Division after 6 years of travel to S Waterfront. Things I’ve noticed:
    – It’s more miles but less time. Less traffic in outer SE, plain and simple.
    – Traffic always moves except for at traffic lights. No jams vs. a jam almost every day crossing the river.
    – There’s totally enough capacity on these arterials and then some.
    – Everyone drives 40. I was actually surprised to learn the limit is supposed to be 30.
    – No one uses the bike lanes. I have seen no bikers in 6 months. Sometimes there’s a motorized wheelchair user in it but mostly it’s used by buses as they pull over or for cars readying to make turns.
    – Pedestrians actually do cross these big wide streets pretty well- if they make themselves known, people DO yield.

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    • curly February 3, 2018 at 10:55 am

      What’s your starting point? If I don’t have to use the 122nd & Division intersection, I won’t. There are better ways around.

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    • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:53 am

      there’s a ton of capacity on every road in the city, if you’re not driving alone in huge motorized parlor…

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  • bjorn February 2, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    Seems like a good idea but aren’t most of the superblocks out there pretty much designed in such a way as to completely prevent through travel by any method?

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    • shirtsoff February 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      It certainly feels that way. Whenever I’m planning on how to bike to destinations past 150th Avenue, few routes outside of the I-84 bike path and the Springwater Corridor look direct with any degree of meaningful separation from fast motorcars. I usually end up picking Division or some other street that I instantly regret.

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      • I wear many hats February 4, 2018 at 8:35 pm

        market? used to me my east side East West surface connection.Check it out,far less stressful than Division

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 2, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    East Portlanders need to be able to ride bicycles and walk/bus to jobs, shopping, eating, etc. Almost all of those destinations will be outside of the superblocks. Therefore, the arterials have to be bike and pedestrian friendly. Traffic speeds have to be reduced, much safer crossings built, bike facilities, eventually perhaps dedicated transit lanes where congestion requires.

    Making the arterials one-way, to free up lanes for bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes, is an interesting idea. I can see this working for Glisan, Burnside, Stark.

    Other arterials are pretty far apart, for example Division and Powell. If someone is driving on a one way arterial, overshoots his destination, and has to make a mile loop to get back to it, that’s problematic. Frustrated drivers are going to speed.

    I note that there is a fair bit of housing development planned for East Portland, mostly on arterials. I agree with David. East Portland is the future of Portland.

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    • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 11:57 am

      “If someone is driving on a one way arterial, overshoots his destination, and has to make a mile loop to get back to it, that’s problematic. Frustrated drivers are going to speed.”

      that’s every freeway exit… miss one? good luck getting back on the freeway in the direction you want to in order to find your mixed exit… I lost an hour in Sacramento once because I missing my connecting freeway exit…

      driving through town doesn’t need to be intuitive, it needs to be inconvenient…

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      • John Liu
        John Liu February 4, 2018 at 12:55 pm

        Until you can change human nature, you need to work with it.

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        • 9watts February 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm

          That kind of glib. But what does it mean in practice? Human nature is hardly a monolithic thing, nor is it immutable. Homo Automobilensis Is an emergent category and will one day go extinct. I see our job as educating everyone about the mutability of all of these categories, rather than dispensing platitudes about human nature.

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      • Kyle Banerjee February 4, 2018 at 2:56 pm


        I have lived in DC and also I also used to work right by the State Capitol. Both places attract kooks like a magnet.

        Despite that it almost never makes a difference (the reason people refer to MLK’s speech so long ago is it was one of the extremely rare exceptions), people never give up.

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  • SE February 3, 2018 at 8:09 am

    It certainly feels that way. Whenever I’m planning on how to bike to destinations past 150th Avenue, few routes outside of the I-84 bike path and the Springwater Corridor look direct with any degree of meaningful separation from fast motorcars. I usually end up picking Division or some other street that I instantly regret.Recommended 0

    Mill will get you from 205 to 182 (with a slight diversion at DDHS) , main from 139 to 182,
    Burnside is by far the best from 205 to 182.

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    • David Hampsten February 3, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      Sacramento/San Rafael is another good east-west route, from 102nd to 167th and a reverse-4M route using Yamhill, Salmon & Mill. The best north-south back street routes are already funded as bicycle boulevards, though long-delayed in actual implementation: 100s (103rd-108th), NE Knapp to Springwater; 130s (128th-132nd), SE Foster to I-84; 150s (154th-157th), Powell to San Rafael. There’s also twisty routes for the area north of I-84 and along Neghli connecting Powell to Springwater in far SE East Portland. 176th & Yamhill in Gresham also has potential.

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      • Toby Keith February 3, 2018 at 5:41 pm

        Yes but Sacramento is also plagued with speeders. It’s a nice straight shot between 102nd and 122nd. It needs speed bumps.

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        • paikiala February 5, 2018 at 2:33 pm

          Have you been at Sacramento Elementary when school lets out? I recall gridlock.

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  • antianti February 3, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    All of you are insane. All of you.

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    • 9watts February 4, 2018 at 8:15 am

      Of course.

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      • paikiala February 5, 2018 at 2:34 pm

        in a study of water dripping on the boulder, it is the water that eventually wins.

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    • Spiffy February 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      you may be right, I may be crazy…

      but it just may be a lunatic you’re searching for…

      you may be wrong for all I know… but you may be right…

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      • David Hampsten February 4, 2018 at 11:10 pm

        Yup. Insanity, patience, and chronic naivety are all useful traits for transportation advocates. Works for me.

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  • Joe Fortino February 5, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I feel its a combo of bad drivers and just sprawl traffic now.. downtown has changed and is clogged, sad because love riding it 🙁

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