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ODOT project would add bike lanes on key stretch of N Lombard

Posted by on March 4th, 2019 at 2:07 pm

The Oregon Department of Transportation is seeking feedback on a project that will add bike lanes to North Lombard between Newman and Wilbur avenues.

This 1.2 mile section of Lombard currently has five lanes, four of them are general purpose vehicle lanes and one of them is used for on-street auto parking. ODOT’s $10 million Lombard Multimodal Safety Project would repave the street and reconfigure the roadway space to include two, seven-foot-wide bicycle-only lanes, two through vehicle lanes (one each direction), and a center turn lane.

Here’s more from ODOT’s website (which inaccurately states the project will reduce travel lanes):

“This project will improve safety along US30 Bypass/Lombard, which is currently ranked as the 11th highest crash corridor in the City of Portland based on the frequency of both fatal and serious, near-fatal crashes for all types of road users. The project’s elements include adding a median with turning lane, bike lanes, and updated pedestrian crossings… The project also includes many pedestrian improvements throughout the corridor such as new crossings, audible pedestrian signals and ADA ramps.”

N Lombard looking westbound at Chataqua.

In addition to changes on Lombard, this project will also impact crossings of important bicycle routes on N Wabash (a neighborhood greenway), N Chataqua (connects to Charles Jordan Community Center), and N Woolsey (Columbia Park).

The current width of this section of Lombard is about 50-feet. The existing cross section devotes all that space to drivers of cars and trucks. The proposed cross-section would have 24-feet for through drivers and a 12-foot center turn lane.

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Two years ago ODOT completed a very similar project on Lombard from Portsmouth to Wall. Those bike lanes don’t get much use because they are unprotected and adjacent to drivers going 25-35 mph. And people still park their cars and delivery trucks in them with impunity.

ODOT installed bike lanes further west on Lombard in 2017.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The final design of this project is still undecided. It would be great to see ODOT consider a wider bike lane protected by a curb or some sort of delineator. If this were a city-owned road, we’d probably see 10-foot wide driving lanes which would lead to lower driving speeds, a safer street overall, and provide more space for bicycling. However, ODOT is unlikely to consider such an option since this is a freight route and ORS 366.215 makes any “reduction in carrying capacity” difficult for them to justify (but it couldn’t hurt to ask!).

ODOT will host an open house for this project next Wednesday, March 13th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the New Columbia Community Education Center (4605 N Trenton St). You can bet some business owners and residents will be upset about any loss of “their” parking spaces. If you want to encourage ODOT to provide safe access for bicycles on this crucial neighborhood street that provides access to many key destinations, please make sure ODOT hears from you at the open house or via email to Community Affairs Representative Ellen Sweeney at Ellen.SWEENEY@odot.state.or.us.

Once design is finalized, construction is scheduled for 2021-2022.

— 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

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encephalopath
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encephalopath

Interstate to MLK with this same treatment on Lombard next, please.

maxD
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maxD

I support this project because the lane reduction for motor vehicles is much safer to drive on and for crossing as a ped, on a bike or in a car. I think the bike lanes will be moderately useful, but only if they actually connect to something. Isn’t there a plan to extend the bike lanes up to St John? If not, there should be. I hope they consider diversion to help prevent Willamette from getting worse- it is already used a high speed shortcut alternative to Lombard.

One quibble. Jonathan writes :”If this were a city-owned road, we’d probably see 10-foot wide driving lanes which would lead to lower driving speeds, a safer street overall”. Please, remember this is North Portland-we are talking about! PBOT is currently planning to WIDEN the driving lanes on N Greeley to 12′ and 13′ and the median speeds are already over 55 mph on a street posted at 45!!! That some unjustified PBOT hype to say they are with concerned, or build, facilities in North Portland that emphasize safety over speed. Wante another example? Look at the bike lane on Skidmore that abruptly terminate at Michigan instead of continuing on across Vancouver, Williams and MLK. Instead of continuing those bike lanes, people on bikes have to hope for best when crossing these busy arterials, especially MLK with ht dangerous “double-threat condition that is explicitly against PBOT policy (except in N/NE Portland)

Gregg
Guest

Yes! This is so desperately needed!

PDXCyclist
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PDXCyclist

Considering that the lane widths are 10 or 11ft wide now, I’m confused why ODOT is making them 12ft each with a 12 foot center lane. Even the suburbs default to 11ft lanes now. 11ft each means the bike lane could have a real buffer (and future room for protection)

Gary B
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Gary B

Something to do with wide loads on a freight route, maybe?

PDXCyclist
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PDXCyclist

That’s generally their reasoning but considering the lanes are 11 or 10ft here now it doesn’t seem like that applies? As in, why do they need 12ft lanes in the future if they’re managing with 10ft lanes?

Let's Active
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Let's Active

Well, I think it’s because there are two lanes now, so wider loads can “cross” over into the other lane or straddle the other lane. With just one lane, there won’t be that buffer in the air, so the desire to have a wider single lane.

PDXCyclist
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PDXCyclist

Interesting. I’ve never gone on Lombard. Is it pretty straight/without curves? Semi trailers are almost 9ft wide. Seems like they can still straddle the center lane if they come across a curve, no? I just think if ODOT really wanted to, they could come up with something better than 12ft lanes.

I might be mistaken, but I think the turn lane on Beaverton Hillsdale Highway is 10ft wide. At least, it feels really narrow when I’m sitting in a car waiting to turn. That’s also a freight route I imagine (but PBOT designed the lane widths there not ODOT).

Let's Active
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Let's Active

It’s pretty straight, then jogs to the north as you get to the west end of the corridor. Jonathan has linked to the project page in the story, which has a corridor graphic.

Matt Picio
Guest

Semi trailers are limited to 102″ (8.5′) for the trailer itself, and up to 108″ for trailer plus equipment for a tarp, cover, or other items. The tractor can be up to 10’2″ wide when you include side mirrors. Typical requirement for shy distance on either side is a foot, which is where you get the 12′ lane width requirement. Lombard is a major freight route to and from the St. John’s bridge and the port, and a major bus route.

AB
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AB

They should keep the 10′ widths for the travel lanes but make the turning lane 12′ so a big truck can easily wait to turn left. The remaining 4′ should be distributed to the buffer zones for the bike lanes.

paikiala
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paikiala

When roads are reconfigured the current standard is applied, not what’s been used to ‘make do’.

Roland Klasen
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Roland Klasen

I don’t see the wisdom in adding bike lanes to major, heavy auto traffic roads like Lombard and Rosa Parks. There are plenty of bike boulevards on quiet neighborhood streets in the area that are probably faster since they have fewer stops and are much more enjoyable to ride on.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Bicyclists want to bike to many of the same places they like to drive to too…and this includes arterials. Only having bikeways on minor streets often creates a slower route for advanced cyclists …especially when intersection crossings of major arterials are not improved or very responsive (or prompt) to bike signal detection calls.

Plus there are as many as “20+ benefits” for adding bike lanes to arterials that have noting to do with cyclists…in this case the car the traffic is moved further away from sidewalks (pedestrians) and transit riders waiting for buses…nice especially in wet weather when heavy goods vehicles / trucks pass by soaking those back behind the curb.

Johnny Bye Carter
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Johnny Bye Carter

There are 7 lights on that stretch. You probably won’t have to stop at all 7.

The suggested Google bike route has 7 stop signs. You will legally have to stop more on the bike route. The bike route is also about 50% longer. And that’s assuming you can stay on the route because it’s not a marked bike route.

The 2nd suggested Google route (which is about a quarter mile longer than the 1st suggestion) only has 3 stop signs. And although it does go on a bike route at points it’s almost half on Willamette which also has high speed motor vehicle traffic. And the end of that route is a couple blocks of unimproved road with large potholes.

If you were running errands and wanted to go to any of the large number of businesses in that area then you’d probably want to go along Lombard.

I’ve biked that section of Lombard plenty of times to go to the bank, get a burrito, go to the pharmacy, and grab a snack at Green Zebra.

I’m OK taking the lane alone or with adult friends since there’s another lane for people to pass, but if I had my kid then we’d be on the sidewalk rather than the lane or a side route. It needs better bike access.

It’s easier to find the place you’re going when you’re on the same street as that place. Even when I try to take side streets to a business on a busy street I’ll often end up a street or two off and have to ride on the main street for a couple blocks anyway.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

This is s good first step (hopefully with some further tweaks)…another Mid Century out of date (safety deficient) arterial undergoing a low cost revamp.

Gary B
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Gary B

I was just driving on this stretch over the weekend, and I thought to myself how it really would function better as 2+1 lanes. There are a lot of cars making left turns on the many neighborhood streets, and it creates quite the mess of back-ups and weavers. Even without the bike lanes, this seems like an improvement. Hopefully ODOT will come around to a more robust bike facility, too.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Gary – you hit the nail on the head. As a transportation professional, I have been so shocked that the City & State have held on to such out dated facility layouts 10 (and 20) years longer than ideal (we in the biz knew better back in the late 90s)…especially when they operate so much better for safety and accessibility as a 2+1. The true test is: an arterial roadway operationally “fails” when it sucks to drive + walk + park + bike along it. Hawthorne is the prime poster child for this issue – it is not a “Great Street”, yet.

jake
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jake

I live right along this stretch and would definitely appreciate an alternative to Willamette. Accessing businesses on Lombard along here is always a pain too, this will provide a much better option.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

That first Street View photo (N Lombard looking westbound at Chataqua) is a good reminder of how ODOT thinks about making roads easier for drivers to zone out.

That Right Lane Ends sign used to be a Left Lane Ends sign. At some point they thought it was too confusing to drivers to have the left lane end when most of the signs say that the right lane ends. So in order to make it more standard (“safe”) they changed the sign. They also changed the visual (non-worded) sign that’s after it.

Nothing has changed with the way people are required to navigate the merge, they just thought that motorists would be less confused and therefore safer if the sign stated that the other lane was ending.

It’s still the left lane that technically ends, because that’s where the center lane begins and you have to veer right.

zoshia
Guest
zoshia

They need to drop the speed limit from 35 to 25 starting at the cut heading into St. Johns. So many people speed right though past fred meyer and into st johns. That intersection by fred meyer is where a large number people have been hit crossing the street.

truthseeker
Guest
truthseeker

Bad idea – bike on Killingsworth and leave Lombard to cars and commercial trucks

We can’t turn the entire city into a bike park – or only the idle rich will be allowed to live here

George
Guest
George

-Will the road surface be repaved first? (This really needs to be done)
-All parking will be eliminated? Bad idea!
-Auto traffic will be reduced to one lane each direction? At rush hour, there hardly enough lanes now, particularly when the buses are running.
-I am all for encouraging bicyclists. However, anything that restricts traffic flow and creates additional bottlenecks, is bad for the businesses on Lombard and in St. Johns..

damon
Guest
damon

So, when is Wilammette going to have complete bike lanes? Why are we piece-mealing Lombard when one section of Wilammete remains unfinished?????

damon
Guest
damon

sorry “N. Willamette” should be finished first. Make the pipe connections so the systems can function.

JBone
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JBone

What the priorities are here? And what about lack of analysis of ripple effects and unintended consequences? The north Portland peninsula area has three finite arterial roads going East-West: Columbia, Lombard, and Willamette. It seems any plan should holistically consider these as part of one system. What I see happening is their designs occurring in isolation without consideration to the effect they will have on each other.
I live in this area and Willamette is getting more crowded by the month, making it increasingly dangerous for all road/sidewalk users as cars leaving the North-South neighborhood streets have virtually no safe way to enter Willamette during peak use hours. Limiting auto traffic on Lombard will just move more cars onto Willamette which, among other things, will delay the 44 bus. I do like the idea of a dedicated turn lane on Lombard to decrease the hostile weaving currently happening, but it seems if the goal is get people out of autos, dedicated bus lanes on Lombard would have much more impact than a redundant bike lane. Willamette and Willis run mostly parallel to Lombard and with a little due diligence, a cyclist should be able to reasonably approach any business on Lombard. Obviously, in an ideal world, bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes would be on every major arterial, but given the reality of our mostly finite existing road system, shouldn’t we pursue pragmatic, reasonable solutions to our transportation problems? I enjoy access-friendly cycling very much (want), but the function of getting from point to point safely and in harmony with other user types seems more of a priority (need). The conflation of wants and needs seems to be a primary source of much of the modern world’s problems. And the naiveté of basic human nature.

Lou
Guest
Lou

Lol that’s my van