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Lombard bike lane project now includes key signal upgrade at Delaware

Posted by on August 26th, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Current conditions at Lombard and North Curtis.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A project on North Lombard Street that aims to reduce driving access and the injuries and crashes that come with it, will now include upgrades to a key intersection.

As we reported back in March, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s $10 million Lombard Multimodal Safety Project will include a lane reconfiguration and buffered bike lanes.

ODOT announced today that the project scope will expand two blocks east to include North Delaware and Boston avenues. Delaware is a key north-south crossing of Lombard (U.S. Highway 30 Bypass) that’s used as part of the annual Sunday Parkways event because it connects Kenton and Arbor Lodge parks. Delaware is also on the route for Portland Village School. ODOT says a “pedestrian activated signal” is in the plans at Delaware.

The project now stretches 1.3 miles from Fiske to Boston — a stretch ODOT says average one crash every 11 days, with over half resulting in injury.

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This section of Lombard currently has six five lanes for driving and car access. There are two lanes in each direction and parking on both one side. The new configuration will be similar to what ODOT striped further west of here back in 2017. Instead of two lanes in each direction, there will be one lane and a center turn lane. Intersections will get a left-turn only lane and there will be a seven-foot wide bike lane (including a one-foot buffer stripe) for nearly the entire length of the project (minus one block on the western end). ODOT will also repave the street as part of this project.

Among the changes to the street will be significant parking removal along Lombard.

Here’s how ODOT describes some of the changes:

The project’s purpose is safety, not the flow of traffic… The center turn lane allows for dedicated left turn phases at traffic signals, which provide for safer left-turning movements. Studies show that adding a center turn lane typically reduces crashes by up to 29%. A three-lane cross section facilitates a safer crossing for bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users. It also reduces the risk of a crash for drivers turning left on and off Lombard. While the traffic volumes on North Lombard meet the recommended thresholds for converting from a four-lane to a three-lane cross section, ODOT is conducting a detailed traffic analysis as part of this project to ensure that traffic continues to flow smoothly through the project area.

A final public open house is expected later this winter and construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.

Learn more at the official project page.

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

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26 Comments
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    grannygear August 26, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Finally!

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    B. Carfree August 26, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    The total width of the bike lane plus parking lane is important. Door zones extend to 12′, so a configuration that is 7′ parking lane, 6′ bike lane and 1′ buffer fails.

    It’s maddening that our road tribe almost always prioritizes the storage of private property on the right of way over cyclist safety.

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      John August 26, 2019 at 3:40 pm

      ODOT is removing on-street parking though. Did you read the article?

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    Rachel Cameron August 26, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    I wish it would go all the way to Denver…

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      Alex August 26, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      Wish it would go all the way to MLK! Cars go so fast through this space. I hope they slow down the corner going onto Greeley, as well – that corner is cut so wide and people race through that.

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    Seth August 26, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    There is already a button on either approach from Delaware that changes the light on Lombard to red in about 5 seconds. What is the pedestrian activated signal going to do differently? Could this turn out to be a downgrade?

    Otherwise, I’m excited to be getting improved bike infrastructure in a) North Portland and b) an ODOT administered road. (Now we can more easily cycle cross town after the Columbia pool closes next year)

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    Dave August 26, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Great news! As one of the nearby neighborhood residents who advocated for this addition/extension, it’s nice to see ODOT and PBOT partnering to make it happen. Delaware is an important pedestrian and bicycle street and making a connection to the new bike lanes on Lombard (even if it will still be a “car-oriented street”) will be a positive change.

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    Nick August 26, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Delaware & Lombard already has a “pedestrian activated signal”. So what’s the change? It’s not clear.

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      Jamie August 27, 2019 at 7:29 am

      “Delaware & Lombard already has a “pedestrian activated signal”. So what’s the change?”

      I would suspect that they’re going to put in traffic lights on the N/S Delaware alignment.

      Currently, the traffic controls on Delaware @ Lombard are stop signs. During discussions about this on Next Door and here, I never quite understood why lights on the n/s axis are important, because as you said, the pedestrian crossing signal currently stops cross traffic on Lombard, which is the important thing for people on foot and bicycles.

      Signals will however make it much more convenient for motor vehicles both crossing and making turns onto Lombard. The village school is as plagued by cars in the mornings and afternoons as any other school.

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      Brian August 27, 2019 at 7:35 am

      I believe the half signal design at Delaware is no longer compliant with federal standards. The new pedestrian crossing will just upgrade it. You’re right though, I’m guessing not much change in functionality.

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        maxD August 27, 2019 at 12:41 pm

        Replacing the half signal with a full signal is likely to increase motor vehicle traffic on Delaware which is not great news for people using bikes.

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        Another Engineer August 28, 2019 at 8:42 am

        Brian is correct the current half signal is not MUTCD compliant.

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    Momo August 26, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    Correction: Lombard currently has four motor vehicle lanes and parking on one side (the north side), not on both sides as the article states.

    This extension is a very positive development! Hopefully someday it can be extended to Denver Ave, with a redesign of the Denver/Lombard intersection and a signal upgrade.

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      Andrew Kreps August 26, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      Taken a step further, the project page itself, right up top: “Traffic Impact”

      And further below the first bullet point on the “What Problem Will This Improve?” section is:

      “Improved vehicular movement and flow by adding a turn lane and therefore reducing stopped vehicles.”

      If you ask me, someone is claiming that safety of all road users is the top priority, but that’s clearly not what’s happening at the project management level.

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    Andrew Kreps August 26, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    “The project’s purpose is safety, not the flow of traffic”

    “ODOT is conducting a detailed traffic analysis as part of this project to ensure that traffic continues to flow smoothly through the project area.”

    Those conflicting statements were in the same quote from ODOT. Have they decided what their priorities are?

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      Paul H August 27, 2019 at 9:25 am

      I don’t quite see how these statements are in conflict. You can have both.

      They have a primary goal of improving safety. They have a secondary requirement of maintaining some unspecified base flow of auto traffic through the intersection.

      The next step would be to come up with several preliminary design alternatives. You would then model them and assess their performance relative to each other. Then you factor in the cost and select the optimal solution.

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    Mark Wyman August 27, 2019 at 8:53 am

    ODOT presented at the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Association. What is hard to fathom here is that the project stops ONE BLOCK short of N Denver which is the primary north/south connector for cyclists moving between Kenton + Arbor Lodge. You are only as strong as your weakest link, these lanes will go underutilized just the same as the other random lane-island on N Lombard further west in Portsmouth. ODOT seem incapable of coordinating with PBOT and the leads on the project have zero local knowledge, and don’t appear to even be cyclists themselves. In our experience PBOT have been much, much better to work with and seem to understand multi-modal transportation much better than ODOT staff who don’t seem to have the will or authority to make any modifications to their poorly laid plans. It’s better to have something rather than nothing in terms of safety on N Lombard and I hope this helps with the storefront vacancies on Lombard. A walkable/bikeable corridor for services is sorely needed in our community. This, unfortunately, won’t do much do the lack of connectivity with primary cycling + walking routes.

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      Alex August 27, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Agreed – it is really strange they would stop one block shy of Denver. Totally agree that the lanes will be under utilized, as well. Wish they would put a streetcar back on Lombard that runs the whole length out Cascade Station.

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      Rachel Cameron August 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      I’m going to to what I can to get it to go to Denver. All of the businesses in my unit support it, as do a few others that I’ve spoken with on the strip from Delaware to Denver.

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        Alex August 28, 2019 at 10:06 am

        Let me know any way I can help out with it.

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    it’saUSHighway August 27, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Here’s the best way to keep cyclists safe- keep them off of Lombard! Here are just a few alternate routes: N Willis, N Portland(RPW) with its ridiculously under-used and unnecessary bike signal at Greeley, N Ainsworth. If you need more, consult a map.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 27, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I disagree though. The only thing unsafe about riding a bicycle on Lombard is the fact that some people use dangerous vehicles on it. Perhaps drivers should stay on I-405 and St Helens Road or Columbia Blvd? Or how about when we drive on Lombard we all slow way down and share the road with other people?

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    Michael August 27, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    As a bus driver and a bicyclist, I applaud this change. I dislike driving a 40′ vehicle on narrow two-lane roads and I won’t bike on Lombard as it currently is configured. SE Foster Rd is so much easier to navigate a bus through than its former 4-lane configuration. Lombard will be similar.

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    It’saUSHighway August 27, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Thank you for letting me share a dissenting opinion, that’s a pleasant surprise.
    What constitutes a dangerous vehicle? The nearly soundless zero emissions vehicles that you can barely hear approaching as you walk/run/ride with your eyes and ears alert?
    Those are the only ones I’ve had trouble detecting.
    Why does every road have to cater to cyclists? That’s a “one percenter’s” mentality. There are plenty of cyclists in this town, but they are far outnumbered by drivers. Exponentially.
    By far the mode of transport that results in the fewest street deaths in Portland is cycling.
    And many of those are the fault of cyclists themselves. I completely agree with providing cyclists safer and quieter alternatives to the busy thoroughfares. I’ve provided multiple examples for this area. When I cycle, I do all I can to avoid the noise, stench and threat of vehicles. There’s no need to proceed with a “must conquer all avenues” approach. It’s going overboard and is the complete opposite of your “sharing” mentality. We can find a happy medium without causing unneeded congestion and idling which just burns for fuel on the long run. You’ve pedaled hard and won many victories for the cycling community. No need for greed.

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      Alex August 28, 2019 at 10:12 am

      I think he is perhaps referencing the vehicles that cause 40k+ deaths in the United States alone – aka fossil fueled, motorized vehicles. So, while you may have trouble detecting bikes, they won’t kill you at nearly the rate the ones you can hear will.

      Lombard is a horrible road with people driving on it very dangerously all the time. I would love to slow down the traffic on that street to make it more livable for people in the neighborhood and provide a more realistic way for people to get around. We don’t need to enable car culture, we need to make getting around Portland easier, cheaper, more environmentally sustainable, and accessible to the people who need it.

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    Brendan A Treacy August 27, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    My girlfriend got hit (totaled her car) by a truck running a red light back in March at Wabash and Lombard…then one month later on Chataqua my ex wife and my daughter got hit by a car running a red light. He hit them so hard that his car flipped over and landed on its roof. Miraculously no one had any serious injuries in either accident but I can personally attest to the importance of this change. One crash every 11 days is totally unacceptable. I am eternally grateful my four year old daughter wasn’t hurt and look forward to these changes.

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