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Portland’s latest neighborhood greenway will connect the Lloyd District to Woodlawn

Posted by on February 7th, 2018 at 10:08 am

Streetview of NE 7th looking north toward NE Knott.

The Bureau of Transportation has kicked off a project that aims to make it safer to travel between the Lloyd District and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

The $552,000 Lloyd to Woodlawn (L2W for short) neighborhood greenway project will utilize either NE 7th or 9th and will stretch from Weidler in the south to Holman in the north. Once completed, the route would connect the buffered bike lanes in the Lloyd District to existing neighborhood greenways on Tillamook and Holman. It would also include a safer crossing of Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

PBOT has scheduled the first open house for the project on February 27th.

(Graphic: PBOT)

In an email to the Bike Loud PDX group this morning, PBOT Project Manager Nick Falbo pointed out that the greenway is in its earliest planning stages and the open house will be a learning and listening session. “At this early stage we are interested in hearing from community members about the potential options under consideration and to learn from them about opportunities and challenges on the ground,” he wrote. “This Open House will not be presenting proposed designs, and will not be identifying a preferred route. But what we learn here will go a long way toward making our proposal as informed as possible.”

Falbo’s cautionary tone is likely in light of a major difference of opinion about which street to put the greenway on. When this project was last discussed in 2016 there was a heated debate about whether the alignment should favor 7th or 9th. Despite the fact that 7th Avenue carries much more traffic than 9th, it’s preferred by bike advocates because it’s more direct, has fewer hills, and is much better connected to existing bikeways in the Lloyd District (not to mention it’s been chosen as the landing street for the future Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge over I-84). 9th would require more climbing and out-of-direction travel.

Neighbors who opposed using 7th as the greenway mainly feared that if people avoided driving on it, the spillover traffic would impact nearby streets.

The Street Trust, the King Neighborhood Association, Bike Loud PDX, and the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission all strongly supported 7th — and it ultimately garnered much more support from Portland residents overall.

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On February 10th 2016 the King Neighborhood sent a letter to PBOT describing why they prefer 7th over 9th:

“Although 9th Ave has been proposed as an alternative, this idea has been thoroughly discredited by surrounding neighborhoods and, in particular, bicyclists. 9th has a steeper grade north of Broadway and also requires riding through Irving Park. Irving Park has inappropriate infrastructure for a greenway, has a very unsafe crossing at Fremont/9th, and is also not a favored route for people, especially women, traveling alone at night. Furthermore, 9th south of Broadway has no infrastructure for bicycles and passes by the Lloyd Center Mall parking garages. The mall has already stated that they are opposed to the idea of multi-modal improvements there.

7th Ave, in contrast, has a mellower grade, is efficient and direct, and has existing bike infrastructure south of — and across — the Broadway/Weidler couplet. Most importantly, 7th is already used extensively by people on foot and on bike. The KNA was assured as recently as last month by PBOT traffic engineer Scott Batson [a PBOT traffic engineer] that the only thing standing in the way of turning the street into a neighborhood greenway was political will.”

City Council ended up punting on the issue and kept 7th or 9th as the future route to be decided during the design process (hint: PBOT needs to hear which one you prefer!).

The project is funded through the city’s Fixing Our Streets program.

Check out the official project page and get all the details of the upcoming open house on the BP Calendar.

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

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32 Comments
  • Scott February 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Easy call. The the grade on 9th is an issue, but the park is the major reason to pick 7th.

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    • John Lascurettes February 7, 2018 at 10:34 am

      The paths in the park are fine for tooling around, but it’s definitely not a good route for commuting. I live due east of the park and never choose to ride through it to get to Vancouver unless I’m stopping at the park on the way. The paths are narrow at points, and lumpy and slippery on the hills in the winter. There’s too many random dogs and children too.

      If they decided to re-engineer the paths through the park that might be one thing. They’d need to be wider, smoother to start with. I highly doubt that’s in the budget.

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      • eawriste February 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

        With a ped bridge across Fremont at 9th reducing the extreme grade change.

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  • John Lascurettes February 7, 2018 at 10:26 am

    They’re seriously going to need some diverters on 7th here and there, then. There’s an awful lot of MLK cut through on 7th. I’ve been passed aggressively and yelled at for being in the narrow roadway between the parked cars and the center line on NE 7th between Knott and Siskiyou more than I care to count.

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  • Andrew Kreps February 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Could this mean 7th ave will get the 20mph treatment?

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  • J.E. February 7, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I haven’t ridden NE 7th extensively, but it reminds me of Clinton–particularly the uphill portion with roundabouts between SE 21st and 26th–at its worst before it got diverters. Which is to say, 7th will need some work for sure, and will definitely require strategic diversion, but it’s totally convertible to a greenway. As someone relatively unfamiliar with the street grid of NE, I already (cautiously) take 7th when traveling the quadrant because of how intuitive it is, especially coming from SE, but the traffic volumes and cut-through drivers need to be addressed before we can even think of calling the route a greenway.

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  • Buzz February 7, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Despite the fact that 7th is the most logical choice, no doubt it will end up on 9th.

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  • maxD February 7, 2018 at 11:43 am

    7th is also preferable for people wanting to access MLK. There a lot of businesses and residences on MLK, and having a bike route 1 block away is a lot better than being 3 block away. I really hope PBOT will consider connecting Skidmore to 7th. They added some great buffered bike lanes between Interstate and Michigan. If these connected to 7th, there would be safe crossings using existing signals/stop signs at Mississippi, Williams, Vancouver and MLK!

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    • Chris I February 7, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      I think that’s how the drivers feel, too.

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      • John Lascurettes February 7, 2018 at 3:49 pm

        Drivers own MLK. It is not friendly to riding whatsoever. They can keep that and stay off of 7th except for actual local access.

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  • JT February 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

    7th definitely makes the most sense. Diverters would be nice to temper the cut through car traffic though as others have mentioned.

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  • SD February 7, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    7th is the best choice- without a doubt.

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  • Stephan Lindner February 7, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    If PBOT will prioritize biking then we’ll end up with 7th. If they take a balanced approached that looks at bike riders but also car drivers, as shown by their score cards on previous projects, then we’ll end up with 9th. My bet would be the latter because that seems to be how PBOT operates internally. If we really want PBOT to take a different position then we either need a lot of pressure to take them out of their comfort zone, or we need to work on changing how PBOT assesses these types of projects.

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    • Shoupian February 7, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      the so-called “balanced approach” is really an approach that perpetuates imbalance of our transportation system by continuing giving priorities to motor vehicles. It’s like saying we need to plan for all modes so we must make sure that no mode is worse off. That will never get us to where we want our city to be.

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    • Buzz February 8, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      ‘Fair and Balanced’, just like Fox News!

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  • Rob Sinnott February 7, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    More great news! 9th makes more sense through the Lloyd because it’s a much wider route (currently 4 car lanes) and could accommodate a huge buffered bike lane. It also doesn’t have street car lines (unlike 7th). 7th makes more sense north of Tillamook as 9th becomes narrower and steeper as it approaches Knott, ultimately dead-ending at Irving Park. I wonder if a combined approach would work, with the NE Tillamook bikeway/greenway connecting 7th and 9th. Best of both worlds, perhaps?

    As others have mentioned, we’ll definitely need strategically placed diverters. Neighbors and cyclists in that area are justifiably concerned with the huge amounts of MLK traffic already diverting onto residential streets.

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    • Steve B. February 7, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      There is already a huge buffered bike lane on 7th through the Lloyd

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    • Andrew N February 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      9th is off the table for bike infrastructure. Or at least it was 10 years ago when the mall owners initially said “no way” due to the parking garage entrance/exit.

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  • Alex February 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Given the planned pedestrian/cycle bridge over 84 is set to cross at 7th (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/71338), I’d love to see it on 7th. Imagine a continuous connection from SE all the way up to Woodlawn! And yes, diverters. I ride 7th quite a bit and the amount of speeding/aggressive drivers through there is crazy.

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  • Shoupian February 7, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    “The Street Trust, the King Neighborhood Association, Bike Loud PDX, and the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission all strongly supported 7th — and it ultimately garnered much more support from Portland residents overall” – So even with the overwhelming support from these groups, it’s still not enough support? Whose support are we missing to get to yes?

    IMO, it’s not a debate at all. From a transportation planning point of view, 7th Ave is a much better choice as a cycling route than 9th. Period. The issue is really whether to follow the expert recommendations of professional planners/engineers to create a higher quality greenway or to give in to some neighbors’ concern for a perceived possibility of increased traffic on their street and get a greenway that doesn’t work as well.

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    • eawriste February 7, 2018 at 2:26 pm

      Perhaps concerns of neighbors about cut through traffic and the need for traffic diversion on the greenway are one and the same? The more diverters the safer our streets regardless of where they are. Unfortunately, the threshold for PBOT to install new diverters appears to be years of advocacy and protest about a specific intersection.

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  • Carrie February 7, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    It’s truly great that PBOT is moving forward with another greenway. And yes it’s needed and yes the current infrastructure isn’t great. BUT — SE 19th Ave greenway through Sellwood/Westmoreland STILL isn’t finished, over 4 years from being funding and over 2 years from infrastructure changes being started (I still don’t understand how the 20s bikeway was implemented so quickly compared to how ridiculously long it has taken to get a crosswalk and RFB beacon installed at ONE intersection in another neighborhood). And what about the 80s greenway? Isn’t the need even greater in that part of town? Why are we implementing another greenway in inner Portland when there are some that never seem to be finished and the need and neglect is so much greater elsewhere?

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    • Momo February 7, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      Because the voters of Portland voted in favor of the Fixing Our Streets local gas tax, and this project was on the list. Along with many many other projects, including neighborhood greenways and other improvements in East Portland.

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    • Shoupian February 7, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      The 20s Bikeway actually took about 7 years to finish after funding came for the project (https://bikeportland.org/2017/08/24/pbot-officially-opens-the-nine-mile-4-5-million-20s-bikeway-239976). Greenways really work best when there is a grid system of local streets. And the grid is much more complete in inner Portland. The lack of connectivity in East Portland makes implementing greenways much more challenging. East Portland certainly needs lot more investment, but there are legitimate limitations for greenways in East Portland.

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  • Zuckerdog February 7, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Rob Sinnott
    More great news! 9th makes more sense through the Lloyd because it’s a much wider route (currently 4 car lanes) and could accommodate a huge buffered bike lane. It also doesn’t have street car lines (unlike 7th). 7th makes more sense north of Tillamook as 9th becomes narrower and steeper as it approaches Knott, ultimately dead-ending at Irving Park. I wonder if a combined approach would work, with the NE Tillamook bikeway/greenway connecting 7th and 9th. Best of both worlds, perhaps?As others have mentioned, we’ll definitely need strategically placed diverters. Neighbors and cyclists in that area are justifiably concerned with the huge amounts of MLK traffic already diverting onto residential streets.Recommended 0

    Agree with Rob’s assessment. Used to make this commute. 7th is also a better route north of tillamook because it has better pavement for a more comfortable experience

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  • Trebor February 7, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    NE 7th needs diverters even if it weren’t a greenway candidate. I’ve never been able to fathom why an otherwise pokey neighborhood street that is all of two blocks from MLK merits signalized intersections with virtually every arterial that it crosses. It is a magnet for aggressive, cut-through traffic. It would also make an outstanding greenway.

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  • SD February 7, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I bet most people will still use 7th for cycling if 9th becomes a greenway.

    Besides wasting money on a greenway that won’t be used, going with 9th would be a missed opportunity to tame & reclaim a neighborhood residential street that is becoming more densely populated and will have more pedestrian crossings.

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  • Nick Fox February 7, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Moving forward with this on 7th would be really amazing. As I testified at an open house for this years ago, we had lots of scares crossing 7th with our small cyclist due to people unwilling to stop at any of the many crosswalks. (Turns out more crosswalks ≠ more safety.) And lately for me–an adult-sized cyclist–the dogleg at Morris/7th/Siskiyou can feel pretty dicey from 4:30-6:30.

    The calming benefits would be huge for the neighborhoods on both sides and for the park and might also help make the Siskiyou greenway (especially between 7th & 15th) more rideable.

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  • Gregg February 8, 2018 at 11:42 am

    There is no Neighborhood Greenway between Rodney and the 28th/ 32nd Greenway. This north/ south stretch has been very needed for a long time (Especially for one of the highest % of commuters by bicycle in the city.) I REALLY hope that there is improved crossing at MLK- as is mentioned.

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    • maxD February 8, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      The Tillamook greenway crossing of MLK heading west really needs some help! There are now tons of cars using Tillamook between Vacouver/WIliams and MLK, and the who has the right of way at this dogleg, signalized intersection is very ambiguous! Skidmore would provide an excellent, safe crossing of MLK, especially if they connected the bike lanes on Skidmore from N Michigan to MLK

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      • Trebor February 9, 2018 at 8:51 am

        Well put. that section of Tillamook has seen a meaningful rise in cut-through auto traffic in recent years. It is much diminished as a greenway as a result.

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