Special gravel coverage

City releases $2 million project list that includes cycle-track in northwest, crossbikes, and more

Posted by on October 10th, 2018 at 3:47 pm

PBOT visualization of new markings coming to NW Nicolai.

You’ve heard of rails-to-trails, how about rails-to-cycle-track?

That’s what in store for a defunct railroad bed on a 0.6 mile section of NW Nicolai Street that’s been paved over in the northwest industrial area. The Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to add some markings and a few other finishing touches to make this a two-way bikeway between Highway 30 and NW Wardway. It’s one of 18 projects that will be built will receive funding in the coming year thanks to $2,085,000 set aside for small-scale projects identified through programs in the city’s Transportation System Plan (TSP).

When the most recent TSP was passed by Portland City Council in 2016 it included 10 programs aimed at addressing small-scale projects that aren’t large enough (below $500,000) to be part of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Think of the programs — which include Safe Routes to School, Neighborhood Greenways, Freight Priority, Bicycle Network Completion, Transit Priority, and others — as buckets PBOT uses to organize projects and to set-aside funding to build them. In the past, if a project wasn’t on the CIP list, it would languish without funding and/or would be starved of staff resources.

At the monthly meeting of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting last night, city staff shared the 2018-2019 project list and asked committee members for feedback.

The $2.08 million was divided up with 60% going toward “pedestrian” projects, 30% to bicycle projects and the remaining 10% going to transit/freight/signals/demand management.

Here are some of the projects on the list (taken from this PBOT document):

The cycle track already exists, PBOT just needs to add striping and signage to prevent people from parking on it.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Nicolai, Hwy 30‐Wardway: A former rail line running along the corriodor has been filled in with asphalt, creating a 9-foot pathway with a 4-foot concrete buffer along the northwest side of Nicolai. Most of the work is done. This project will address: connectivity at the north end, intersection treatments at two‐three locations and striping and markings. No roadway reconfiguration or parking removal necessary. Funding is for design. $30,000

It’s great to see this project finally moving forward! Back in 2009 I wondered out loud why we hadn’t converted these paved-over railways as bikeways. Perhaps PBOT finally saw the need for this project after Daniel Feldt was killed back in May. Feldt was leaving a parking lot on NW Nicolai when he was involved in a collision with a large truck. This new bikeway would be on the north side of the street so it likely wouldn’t have helpled Mr. Feldt; but any progress for bicycle riders in this heavily industrialized part of town is welcome. (NOTE: This $30,000 will only fund design. Full build-out will require additional funds.)

More on the way.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Crossbikes: CW Install crossbikes at 16 intersections. $80,000

Crossbikes are an increasingly popular treatment PBOT is using to help make the presence of bicycle riders more conspicuous where bikeways cross larger streets. They debuted in 2016 and are now present at many intersections — especially along neighborhood greenways.

PBOT plans for 12th Ave overcrossing from 2011 showing shared sidewalk design for southbound bicycle users.

12th Ave Overcrossing: Improvements to the 12th Avenue overcrossing of the Banfield were made in 2011. Left uncomplete at the time were treatments for people bicycling to access the west sidewalk on the structure to travel southbound. This work will entail designing curb ramps at the north end of the structure for both the west‐ and eastbound approaches, pathway markings on the sidewalk, a redesigned curb ramp at the south end of the sidewalk and relocating a bus stop that is on the structure. $60,000

For a refresher about why this project is necessary, peruse our coverage of the 2011 project. Here’s the PDF of the original plans that show the work on the sidewalk that was never completed.

PBOT concept drawing for updates to NE Prescott & 37th.

37th Ave/Prescott St. Bikeway: Improvements to an intersection for people using the north‐south greenway on 37th Avenue. $10,000

This crossing is notorious. Prescott is a busy collector street and 37th is a popular north-south bikeway. What makes it so awkward is a nearly right-angle chicane that reduces visibility. While signed for 15 mph, not everyone slows enough at the turns and it can be quite stressful to cross on foot or by bike. At the meeting last night, committee members had a robust discussion about PBOT’s proposed fix. PBOT bike program manager Roger Geller said the design will route bicycle users up onto the sidewalk and then have them wait for a chance to cross, “At the one place where it’s possible to see both directions of traffic and be out of the wheelpath [of drivers].”

Committee member Alex Zimmerman strongly urged Geller to consider using plastic posts because she doesn’t think drivers will obey painted lines. Another member (and BikePortland contributor), Catie Gould said, “I don’t want to have to hop on-and-off the sidewalk when I’m using a greenway.” And committee member Sarah Iannarone said she’d like PBOT to consider painting the entire intersection green. Geller took notes and said there’s still time to change the design.

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Willamette Blvd, Rosa Parks‐Interstate: Upgrade local street portion of N Willamette Blvd to neighborhood greenway along the bluff south of Rosa Parks, and then east to Interstate Ave, filling network gaps between bike lanes on Willamette Blvd, Greeley, and Interstate. Improvements primarily include diverters on Willamette Blvd and parallel streets Villard and Atlantic, to prevent cut‐through traffic. Street already has speed bumps, and a crossing/diverter is already funded for the Greeley crossing. $68,000

PBOT has already built a full median diverter on Willamette at Greeley and another one is one the way at Villard and Rosa Parks. Now they’re going to put a down payment on proposals made by a nascent group of neighborhood advocates and the “North PDX Connected” plan created by a group of Portland State University graduate students.

NE 16th Ave plans.

16th Ave: Project will re‐stripe Sandy‐Irving to include a northbound buffered bicycle lane. $50,000

Protected Bike Lane Project Development: $30,000

Simpson St/41st Ave: Add a new neighborhood greenway on NE 41st Ave from Holman to Simpson Ct, Simpson Ct from 41st to Simpson St, and Simpson St from Simpson Ct to 55th. This will connect the existing Holman greenway and the upcoming 54th/55th neighborhood greenway in the Cully neighborhood. Includes traffic calming and an enhanced crossing of 42nd Ave. $50,000

Cully St/Mason St: Curb ramps, medians, crossing. $110,000

SE 130th Ave Sidewalk Infill: Fill in sidewalk gaps on east side of SE 130th starting at SE Stark and working south. $200,000

Foster Rd: at 11540 SE Foster Sidewalk gap infill. $12,000

Holgate Blvd: 102nd‐122nd, Sidewalk infill on SE Holgate between 102nd & 122nd. $180,000

Modular Transit Islands: PBOT will purchase roughly ten modular transit islands that can be deployed where needed to keep buses stopping in lane, reducing merging, and particularly reducing bus/bike conflicts. $150,000

Vancouver/Williams Ave: Russell to Killingsworth: Evaluate, implement and document signal timing changes to improve safety, mobility and wait times in the corridor. Review detection and other signals equipment. Analyze travel times, cycle lengths, traffic counts, crash history and other relevant data. Model appropriately. Make field observations. Replace any failing detection/wiring. $112,500

NE Sandy at 31st, NE/Glisan at 87th: Rapid flash beacons and curb ramps. $343,000

Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy: Safety improvements 39th ‐ 30th (lane narrowing, buffered bike/ped space, ped refuge median w/rectangular rapid flash beacon (RRFB)) $126,000

CORRECTION, 10/11 at 10:40 am: This post has been edited to make it clear that some of these projects are only partially funded. The $30,000 for NW Nicolai, for example, will just pay for design. The full build-out will require additional funds. I regret any confusion.

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

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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

  • Andrew October 10, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    For 37th and Prescott, a bigger improvement would come from eliminating that chicane in favor of two T-intersections with stop signs on Prescott.

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  • Christopher of Portland October 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    I like the 12th overcrossing improvement. I use it sometimes and tend to prefer the wide sidewalk over the shared lane. Difficulty getting on and off it were my top issues with it.

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  • David Hampsten October 10, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    The East Portland projects were funded years ago as part of the local match for MTIP and other highway funding, but PBOT continues to not build them.

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    • Toby Keith October 10, 2018 at 9:41 pm

      David you know as well as anyone east PDX is a plague to city hall. They don’t know what to do with it and loathe it.

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    • soren October 11, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Please remember that PBOT is building the “Green Loop” to address these long-term transportation equity issues! (At least that’s what the “equity page” in the brochure said.)

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  • mark October 10, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    Please, no more cross-bikes!

    Until these have some kind of legal standing, like a cross walk, I feel like they just confuse things. They are worse than doing nothing.

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    • SilkySlim October 11, 2018 at 8:18 am

      No kidding! I think a little education campaign would be helpful, a handful of billboards explaining them.

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      • J_R October 11, 2018 at 8:43 am

        We need to know the legal standing of “crossbikes” BEFORE we have an educational campaign.

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  • dan October 10, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I’m against crossbikes. They seem like a confusing waste of money. The only benefit to them is that no one knows what the hell to do, which makes some people slow down. Like a woonerf — you never know when a vulnerable road user will pop in front of you. I prefer an environment where everyone knows WTH they are supposed to be doing.

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  • acetracer October 10, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    Why is the bike lane on NE 16th necessary? Have there been any issues there that warrant putting SB bikes closer to cars backing out?

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    • soren October 11, 2018 at 10:06 am

      less space for cars is always a good thing, imo.

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    • J.E. October 11, 2018 at 2:45 pm

      Contraflow bike lane. This looks like an attempt to eliminate cut-through traffic using 16th to access I-84 by making the street southbound only (except bikes). I’m really perplexed as to the design (20′ vehicle lane? head-in parking instead of back-in parking? Why isn’t the contraflow lane curbside? etc), but making 16th southbound only is a great move. GPS routes you on 16th to access I-84 from as far south as Belmont, rather than the more appropriate (albeit more crowded) 12th.

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      • osmill October 12, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        They’re not making it southbound only: it says 20-foot travel “lanes” (plural), so 2×10′ lanes. What they are doing is greatly constricting the perceived width of the auto travel lanes, which hopefully will help to slow automobile speeds.

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  • mark October 11, 2018 at 8:10 am

    That bike lane just behind the head-in parking on NE 16th looks super sketchy. I imagine someone trying to back out with a minivan parked on their right, not being able to see the bike lane at all, and a cyclist not able to see the car backing out.

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    • paikiala October 11, 2018 at 9:25 am

      Reverse angle parking would be safer for cyclists.

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  • Paul Cone October 11, 2018 at 8:13 am

    That one on Glisan at 87th is sorely needed. There have been multiple injury crashes there.


    What happens is Glisan becomes four lanes east of 82nd to I-205 and there’s not many businesses along there to slow people down so there are always people speeding. They really should put it on a road diet but this is a step.

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  • Gary B October 11, 2018 at 8:52 am


    You wrote “…on a 0.6 mile section of NW Nicolai Street that’s been paved over in the northwest industrial area. The Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to add some markings and a few other finishing touches to make this a two-way bikeway between Highway 30 and NW Wardway.”

    The identified stretch of Nicolai (Warday to 30) is about 1.7 miles. Was the 0.6 a typo on your part, or are they only improving a portion of it? Thanks.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 11, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Hi Gary B. I measure the distance (Google Maps) between Wardway and Hwy 30 as 3,200 feet or about .6 miles. i could be missing something but I’ve done it twice now. what am i missing?

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      • Gary B October 11, 2018 at 11:08 am

        Doh. Well, nothing, apparently. There are 2 stretches of Nicolai that are between Wardway and 30. Well, not really but sort of–my mind went west of Wardway on Nicolai, out toward Kittridge. That is actually St Helens and not Nicloai, which should have tipped me off that I was confused. Sorry to doubt you!

        Anyway, not as useful for me personally, but still a great project!

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  • Momo October 11, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Jonathan, your post makes it sound like Nicolai is fully funded. This funding is only for design. Unfortunately, full build-out will be fairly expensive.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 11, 2018 at 10:42 am

    CORRECTION, 10/11 at 10:40 am: This post has been edited to make it clear that some of these projects are only partially funded. The $30,000 for NW Nicolai, for example, will just pay for design. The full build-out will require additional funds. I regret any confusion.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • maxD October 11, 2018 at 10:55 am

    The 37th/Prescott proposal is a bad joke! It does nothing to address the fact that cars routinely way too fast here (they run into the houses!) and it basically shunts the bikes on tot he sidewalk and asks them to hope for the best crossing this mess. Greenways are used by people biking, jogging, pushing strollers, walking dogs, etc. I love this, and this design sucks for everyone except cars that want to continue to use Prescott as a high-speed shortcut through a neighborhood. I think cars should diverted at 33rd and 42nd to Killingsworth and Fremont. 37th should continue straight, and Prescott should have stop signs. Maybe 37th should also have a diverter- right turn only.

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  • Phil Richman October 11, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    IMO double yellow lines in the roadway encourage speeding and this certainly seems to be the issue at 37th & Prescott. However, looking at the Vision Zero crash map there has only been 1 reported injury here in the last decade +. I suspect SOV volumes are too high to warrant treatment with 2 T-intersection stop signs for PBOT traffic engineers. In lieu of the stop sign idea I like Sarah’s idea of painting the whole length north to south with a big green rectangle, perhaps install some bollards on each end in the middle to tighten the turning radius for vehicles and add signage for motorists to raise awareness they are crossing a neighborhood greenway.

    Another takeaway from last night’s meeting: the 503-823-SAFE number apparently has a high impact on potential for projects.

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  • Christopher of Portland October 11, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    What if the Prescott intersection had something like one of those goofy center bike turn lanes, like on 41st and Stark? You would only have to check for one direction of cross traffic at once. Barriers would probably be needed.

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  • maccoinnich October 11, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    The property at the NW corner of Nicolai and Yeon was developed in 2012 with a new warehouse. It’s a shame that PBOT development review evidently waived the zoning code requirement to build a trail along the NW Yeon frontage, and instead allowed construction of a narrow unprotected bike lane in the westbound directly only.

    Compare the street in 2011:


    To the street today:


    The fact that this section of street will have to be rebuild to extend the two-way bikeway to NW Yeon is going to significantly add to the cost of the project. For an agency that’s constantly pointing out that they don’t have enough money, it’s amazing how PBOT manages to miss opportunities like this.

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  • mark is not smith October 12, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    crossbikes are just a waste of paint!!!
    why not spend those labor & supply $ on extending the bikelane on NW Front past 9th instead????

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    • maccoinnich October 12, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Construction on the NW Front Ave repaving and road diet, including protected bike lanes, should be starting soon, if it hasn’t already.

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