Anyone who’s ridden a bicycle on Highway 30/St. Helens Road between northwest Portland and the St. Johns Bridge understands why it has the moniker “Dirty 30”. With a major paving project in the pipeline, ODOT has a chance to change that bad reputation.
The narrow, unprotected bike lanes are almost always strewn with gravel and all manor of debris. But the “dirty” part is just the start. The road is full of car and truck drivers going 45-50 mph just a few feet (sometimes less!) away from your handlebars.
How do we make this better? Here’s our chance:
The Oregon Department of Transportation is working on a $8.5 million project that will repave 2.5 miles of Highway 30 from NW Kittridge to the St. Johns Bridge via Bridge Avenue (the road that connects to the bridge, which will also be paved). The project description says that in addition to new pavement, ODOT will upgrade ADA ramps to current standards, improve “access management” (driveways, turning movements), and “address drainage as needed.”
Advocates have gotten wind of the project and want to seize the opportunity to improve conditions.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because three years ago we saw a similar opportunity when ODOT repaved Hwy 30 from Bridge Avenue to NW McNamee Road. When that project was being designed, I personally met with ODOT staff and presented some ideas to significantly improve cycling conditions. Unfortunately they failed to embrace any of them and ended up only making a few very minor changes to the cycling environment.
We hope the outcome is different this time around. With a new main entrance to Forest Park coming to the Kittridge/Hwy 30 intersection and the potential of this road to be a pleasant, direct bike route from downtown Portland to St. Johns — this is an opportunity we should not pass up!
Thankfully, volunteers with BikeLoudPDX are already on the case. The project was on the agenda of their monthly meeting earlier this week where noted transportation advocate and lawyer Scott Kocher shared his ideas. He wants to see a reconfiguration of existing lane widths when the striping gets put back. More space could be added to the bike lanes if ODOT was will to narrow other lanes. Kocher also wants them to consider removing utility poles that currently constrain the bike lane in several spots. Drainage problems are also on his radar. There are a few spots that are notoriously flooded and present a hazard to bike riders. Another idea is to add new bike/walk signals to improve safety on Bridge Avenue.
Kocher and fellow advocate Ted Buehler will team up to host a bike ride tomorrow (Saturday, 2/23) at 9:30 am. The ride will be a hands-on exercise in activism where everyone will help observe, document, measure, and photograph existing conditions. The idea is to use this documentation to make formal requests to ODOT to address the deficiencies in the project.
Buehler and Kocher will be happy to know that they’ve got a lot of support. According to ODOT’s 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), they agency received numerous citizen comments in support of better cycling facilities on Highway 30. The comments below were all recorded by ODOT as part of the official STIP record:
This project should also incorporate improved, separated bike/ped facilities to provide safer and better non-automotive alternatives. Striped bike lanes on a road where vehicles travel at 45-50 mph is dangerous and will be deadly for a cyclist when a crash will inevitably occur. Existing bike/ped facilities are treacherous and extremely unsafe or unfriendly.
I am a regular user of Hwy 30 along this stretch both by bicycle and motor vehicle. This project is an important opportunity to improve conditions for bicycling along a key bicycle route in Northwest Portland. Specifically, I would like to see the following:
1. Stripe continuous, buffered bicycle lanes that meet state requirements for minimum width along the entire length of the project. This is essential!
2. Address hazards in the bike lanes such as storm drains and gravel from adjacent driveways. Design bike lanes to be self-cleaning if possible.
3. Stripe bike lanes on both sides of Bridge Avenue for its entire length.
4. Address hazardous motor vehicle merging across the bike lanes at the Bridge Avenue ramps.
5. Create improved bicycle connections at key access points such as Saint Helen’s Road, Saint John’s Bridge, Saltzman Road, and Germantown Road.
6. Look for ways to address speeding such as reduced lane widths.
I would like to see the bike lanes on this stretch of Hwy 30 made safer or at least more visible to drivers. By adding bollards, accentuating the striping/lane, or adding additional signage this could increase ridership and reduce traffic on Hwy 30.
Please consider physical separations, or bollards, for people on bikes. This area feels very dangerous due to car speeds, and some sort of physical separation would be appropriate if ODOT is serious about Vision Zero.
It’s important to remember that US30 is also a crucial bike connector for anyone riding from St Johns and other North Portland neighborhoods into downtown… Any project to repave and upgrade this section of US 30 needs to address these issues too, by physically separating bike lanes where needed, and incorporating bike access into ramp upgrades.
Please improve the bike lanes as well. Increase the size and add a buffer or physical protection.
It is really important to me to get better bike access over the Saint Johns Bridge and down Hwy 30. It would shave a mile off of my commute and has the potential to be a lovely ride.
… enhanced bike facilities should be included within project scope. US30 is only effective bike route between St Johns and downtown Portland, and a Forest Park entrance facility at the east end of this project would also benefit from access from St. Johns. The existing bike lanes (shoulder) are seriously deficient. Sufficient space and proper striping essential.
“We need state of the art bike lanes on the bridge and bridge avenue and through Linnton. We need Linnton to be a bike and walk safe community.”
Our family and many family households are on Springville Hill above bridge Ave. We have 6 children who ride the bus and also walk on Bridge Ave. There are many other children that walk this area and ride Trimet as well as the school bus in this area. This area is also traveled by large amounts of bike riders from North Portland to Sauvie Island. This area is very hazardous to pedestrians as well as bikers… Please help our neighborhood children with safety. Please help the hikers and bikers that come to this area to access forest Park and Sauvie.
This is a critically important biking route. It feels unsafe and stressful due to high motor vehicle speeds, narrow bike lanes separated from motor vehicles only by paint, and high levels of debris in bike lanes. Please consider physical separation of the bicycling lanes.
There needs to be a protected/separated bike path for this corridor. Jersey barriers or tall traffic pillars, or something more than a painted line between bikes and 50mph traffic. Also, better/more frequent sweeping is needed for the amount of debris along this route.
We live off of Harbor Blvd., which is a one lane road with no pedestrian walk ways that gets heavy commuter traffic between Hwy 30 and Germantown Rd. Our neighborhood is right next to Forest park yet has no safe pedestrian access to it. We have no pedestrian crossing across Bridge Ave to ridge trail, none across Germantown to Tolinda trail, and walking on Harbor is dangerous. Please incorporate safe pedestrian walkways, crossings and access from the neighborhoods of Linnton to Forest Park and St. Johns.
Please include improved pedestrian crosswalks with stop lights at Saltzman Rd and on Bridge Ave. at Springville Rd. I appreciate what is proposed but without improved pedestrian crossings with stop lights the improvements do little good if people using them to catch the bus/crossing the street are unable to do so safely. There are children who catch PPS school busses and Trimet busses to high schools on Hwy 30. They need to be able to cross Hwy 30 and Bridge Ave. safely!
This project is scheduled to be constructed next year. Will ODOT listen and make changes that significantly improve the cycling and walking environment? We’ll see.
For now, get involved with the effort to help ODOT see the light. And stay tuned.
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