Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

First look: New median diverter island on North Greeley at Willamette

Posted by on May 8th, 2018 at 2:48 pm

The new median spans well beyond the intersection.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

North Portland’s streets continue to evolve as a combination of neighborhood demands, City of Portland paving projects, and opportunistic activism are coming together to make significant changes to bikeways.

With the new bike lanes on Greeley near Adidas and the North Willamette Blvd bluff striped late last year; and a major parking-protected bikeway project underway on North Rosa Parks, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is just about to take the final wrapping off a new median island on North Greeley Avenue.

The median is at Willamette Blvd, a major bikeway that begins west of Interstate Avenue. It stretches many yards beyond the intersection to provide a safer crossing not just for bicycle users but for sidewalks users as well. As a traffic diverter, the median makes some turning movements from Greeley impossible (southbound Greeley to eastbound Willamette and northbound Greeley to westbound Willamette). The North American headquarters for Adidas is just a few blocks away and fast-growing neighborhoods in all directions have turned this once quiet corridor into a busy thoroughfare during the morning and evening peak hours.

As we’ve been reporting, there’s growing interest from local residents to defend their streets against abusive drivers and create neighborhoods that are more pleasant for walkers and bikers.

View from southeast corner.

View from westbound Willamette.

Panorama (blur of car is a photo glitch, it’s not going the wrong way!).

Advertisement

One issue to watch will be people who block the crossings during peak hour congestion.

There’s also been initial talks to establish Willamette Blvd as an official neighborhood greenway; but according to PBOT, this new median isn’t part of any larger project. The estimated $12,000 project originated from a request into the City’s 823-SAFE hotline that was made last year.

I got a closer at the new median this morning. It looks like a relatively standard design that should have the desired effect of decreasing driving speeds by narrowing the available roadway space, and increasing safety by providing a refuge for people trying to cross.

So far reaction from our readers has been mostly good, but one person is concerned that the new median impedes their turning movements. “What are people to do coming [northbound] up the hill? We are SOL [s*** out of luck] with this design,” wrote @pdxblake on Twitter.

University Park resident Stephanie Turner loves it. “I am PSYCHED about this,” she wrote. “It will have a major change re how I interact with this intersection. After years of calling about the hazards regarding this intersection I witnessed cars slowing down from 45 to 35 and I’ll take it 🔥”

We’ll take another look after it’s finished to see how it all shakes out. In the meantime, let us know what you think.

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

87
Leave a Reply

avatar
22 Comment threads
65 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
35 Comment authors
Bald OnealexKyle BanerjeeMikepaikiala Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
encephalopath
Guest
encephalopath

There is the possibility that this project will help but will also be moving the problem down the road a little bit.

I worry that we will have problems with drivers trying to do U-turns around either end of the median much like what happens at N. Michigan and Rosa Parks. People drive north on Michigan, turn right onto Rosa Parks and then do a U turn on the other side of the diverter to go back to the north bound freeway on ramp. And the drive in the bike lanes on both sides of the road to do it.

This happens over and over again every afternoon. What’s the solution to that problem? Is there one?

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

I like what this does for pedestrians and bikes crossing Greeley, and for protecting neighborhoods from thru-traffic. I don’t understand what happens now when you’re coming north on a bike, as PDX Blake referenced. A significant and growing number of cyclists come up Greeley, merge into traffic, then turn left onto Willamette. This seems to eliminate that free-flow option, and instead make cyclists stop, turn sharply, and wedge into one of the gaps between the diverters.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Just curious…since this is an oblique intersection…did PBoT look into adding a roundabout here instead of the constructed median?

maxD
Guest
maxD

This looks like a great fix for crossing Greeley on a bike. It can be pretty rough, and I have been using Killingsworth instead, to be able to cross with the light. The people driving behind me can get a bit agitated though. I will try this, and switch back over IF it works. Too bad about the left-turning, northbound cyclists. It seems like they included a left turn pocket for them if they had thought of it.

Toadslick
Subscriber

This is such a huge improvement. I hated crossing Willamette and had also switched to using Killingsworth, but I’ll gladly use this instead.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

Another poor design for cyclists. This design just completely leaves Northbound Greeley cyclists out in the cold. They could have made a little effort, here. It’s the little things.

this design is great for walkers, but for cyclists, it’s totally worse than the current design. once again, a race to the bottom for cycle commuters.

Roland Klasen
Guest
Roland Klasen

This is my daily commute and they just took away the best option for crossing Greeley northbound.

Teddy
Guest
Teddy

Is there enough room for bicyclists and vehicles on Greeley heading northward? It looks a bit tight between the median, the vehicle, and the curb by the bus stop. Thank you for keeping us posted.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

This is what is called a “mountable” curb meaning if you have a big enough vehicle you can simply drive over it. Not cool.

Also, if PBOT wants to prevent cut through traffic like at Michigan, they need to have signage at the beginning of the route which clearly states “Not A Through Street” lest cars get to the end and solve the problem with a u-turn or simply drive over the curb in frustration.

Carrie
Subscriber

I continue to have [unanswered] questions about funding allocations and project priorities. On one hand I think it’s amazing and awesome that this project happened within a year of someone requesting it via the 823-SAFE method. On the other it adds to my frustration over the continued lack of painted crosswalks where the SE 19th St greenway crosses SE Bybee. This project has has been funded for three years and under construction for over two years and we STILL don’t have simple, painted crosswalks. The RFB signs and equipment went in two months ago but are sitting unactive because they won’t activate them until the crosswalks are painted. Why do some projects take ridiculously long and others go in the blink of an eye? It’s not for lack of advocacy by the people in the neighborhood, I can assure you of that.

Matthew in PDX
Guest
Matthew in PDX

Despite all the good work on N Willamette Blvd, many motor vehicle operators still drive faster than the 30 mph posted speed limit. For example, last night I was driving home along Willamette at 30 mph (I believe my speedometer is accurate), and as soon as I turned right into N Willis, the truck that had been tailgating me hit the accelerator and sped up. This morning as I was cycling along N Willamette on my way to work (around 5.30 a.m.) the few motor vehicles that were on the street were all driving faster than 30, as evidenced by the speed indicator near the intersection of N Willamette and N Rosa Parks. In addition to the several cyclists on the road this morning, there were quite a few pedestrians out for their morning jog, all these people are vulnerable to being struck by a fast moving vehicle – especially if the driver causes his/her vehicle to stray into the bicycle lane (a frequent occurrence especially at corners and bends).

Without enforcement, drivers have no fear that their actions will result in any kind of sanctions. Consequently, many drive in what they consider a safe manner (irrespective of the precepts of Oregon law), however, I believe many of these drivers seriously overestimate their ability to respond quickly to changing road conditions, including the presence of pedestrians and cyclists. We really need traffic enforcement cameras sprinkled throughout the Portland Metro area. If there is a real likelihood of facing sanctions, drivers will slow down and will obey the laws – they won’t want to pay the fines, increased insurance premiums or lose points on their licenses. The advantage of cameras is that they don’t discriminate and they work 24/7/365.

SafestreetsPlease
Guest
SafestreetsPlease

Wait a minute… this cost just $12,000? Why can’t they set aside $1 million and put up EIGHTY THREE (83!!!) diverters on Greenways all over Portland? That would create conditions safe for people of all ages and backgrounds to use our greenways. PBOT seems too afraid of the Neighborhood Associations to do something so bold and safe.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

People driving cars get desperate driving through this area when Greeley backs up. Most likely you’ll see people in vehicles, frustrated, turning left at Killingsworth instead. Then they’ll either get back onto Willamette to eventually cut-through Villard to Rosa Parks, or they’ll bolt down Atlantic and zig-zag through the neighborhood to avoid the backup on Greeley. I lived on Atlantic for 13 years, the people who cut through this neighborhood are a menace, and a big reason my family left! Glad to see the city finally addressing and attempting to calm this area. I still visit often. This new median may require I slightly alter my existing route. I’d normally ride west on Emerson, turn right and merge into Northbound Greeley motor vehicle traffic then make my left turn onto Willamette. I’ll now probably ride west on Willamette, then utilize the crosswalks to cross Greeley to get onto Willamette. That’s probably safer in the long run if the crosswalks are honored by those driving their motor vehicles, but like I said, people get desperate in these parts!

maxD
Guest
maxD

It seems ironic that this traffic calming measure is being built on Greeley, and a few blocks south, PBOT is creating a design that will support speeds in excess of 60 MPH! The current plan to widen the outer lanes on Greeley to 12′ and 13′ on the stretch of Greeley south of Going, and area already suffering from high speeds in excess of 55 mph.

soren
Guest
soren

the facility is missing two bright green crossbikes.
these would not only encourage people driving to look out for vulnerable traffic but might make this facility even more offensive to the stereotypical fast-experienced-year-round commuter.

Carrie
Subscriber

paikiala
Ah, perspective. ‘Simple painted crosswalks’ are not currently installed where they might endanger pedestrians.

The perspective of working through the neighborhood board transportation committee for the past 2+ years on a project that has been on the map for 5 years and fully funded for 3 years and still isn’t completed? What perspective are you coming from paikiala?

alex
Guest
alex

Oh hey! I just wanted to remind everyone that the diverter at 15th and Ankeny is still awful (visability). Seems like this is a continuing issue..

Clark in Vancouver
Guest
Clark in Vancouver

This is a good start and better than nothing but it would be preferred if the side streets were actually side streets. They still have those wide curves that encouraged taking the corner at high speed.
If the side streets have no essential motor vehicle access need then they should be closed off entirely to motor traffic.
https://goo.gl/maps/SkfkMop7J462

If motor access is absolutely necessary (in real life not just someone’s opinion) then there could be an exit only lane with a diverter island.
https://goo.gl/maps/ZPMtzvJ5Lo32

SD
Subscriber

Copenhagen lefts only work reliably when there is a light and a bike lane with a bike box. If there are cars lined up waiting to turn right, what do you do? Go to the back of the line? Put yourself into the right hook zone? Go to the left side of the cars, which essentially puts you into the lane of turning oncoming traffic. Asking cyclists to line up behind cars waiting to turn right seems like an unnecessary burden when the median could be designed to accommodate left turning cyclists from the northbound lane.

Spiffy
Subscriber

I like the ped in the yellow shirt… “thanks for stopping so I can cross illegally!”

Mike
Guest
Mike

I was in this area yesterday visiting a friend and saw two cyclists heading northbound turn into the oncoming traffic lane right before the median started to bypass it so they could turn left without dealing with the median. I hope everyone can learn to obey traffic laws and nobody gets hurt, but in the time I was there watching I saw bad behaviour on all sides.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

Spiffy
these greeen crossbike crosswalk things just slow me down because I have to sit there in a staring contest with drivers

Valid point.

We are traffic, and I prefer if drivers simply treat us as such. Practicality requires me to assume they’re not going to stop so when they yield when they shouldn’t, it just slows everyone