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Sneak peek at new physically protected bike path on North Greeley

Posted by on July 17th, 2020 at 8:22 am

A thick concrete wall now separates a two-way bike path from other traffic lanes on North Greeley Avenue between Interstate and Going. Note the old bike lane on the west side of the street (right) is now gone.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The long-awaited and much-delayed bike path on North Greeley Avenue is finally coming together.

Learn more

  • Official project page
  • Total budget $1.8 million. Funded by a City Council-approved Major Maintenance Set-Aside as well as the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax through the voter-approved Fixing Our Streets.
  • A 2018 lawsuit found City of Portland negligent for dangerous conditions on Greeley.

After years of starts-and-stops, the Portland Bureau of Transportation broke ground in October and expects to be finished “mid-summer”.

Greeley matters because it’s a key connection from downtown and the Broadway Bridge/Rose Quarter area to north Portland. With North Williams Avenue being too far east for people traveling to University Park and St. Johns neighborhoods and the bike lanes on North Interstate being unsafe, narrow, and unprotected, Greeley has always had immense potential. With this new protected bike lane, we might finally have a viable, low-stress north-south route to the peninsula.

[Please note: This path is not yet finished and PBOT has not given the “all clear” sign for full public use.]

I rolled over yesterday to check on the progress. I discovered that the northern end at N Going Avenue was open and the new path is fully paved. The new protective wall between the path and other traffic lanes is also installed. Unfortunately, there’s no indication on the north end that the south end is still technically “closed”. PBOT and their contractors must do a better job signing these work zones! There are “Road Closed” barricades up at the south end that require an awkward portage up a dirt hill next to the Hazelnut Grove camps.

As for the path itself. It felt great!

What a difference real protection makes. The concrete wall is a thing of beauty. It’s quite thick and just tall enough to make me feel safe, without feeling boxed-in. The wall reduces noice of passing cars and trucks (a major stressor for vulnerable road users) and I have a hunch its mere presence will reduce driving speeds. It’s hard to tell if the path will be wide enough. The final striping isn’t complete and the real test will be whether or not the 11.5-12-foot width is sufficient for two-way traffic.

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The two photos below should give you a sense for how tall the wall is…

At Going Street, the crossover treatment from the southbound bike lane on the west side of Greeley to the new path is striped, but the bike-only signal isn’t turned on yet. There is however, a new marked crosswalk with a button-activated “Walk” signal.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you ride south on Greeley, please do not take the lane on the west side of the road. The old bike lane is gone (the road was repaved and restriped with this project) and there’s zero shoulder space (photos below). I saw two fast riders taking the lane and it looked very risky as drivers slowed down and swerved to avoid them.

Can’t wait for this to be finished. I think it’s going to be a very welcome addition to our network. And with the addition of the wall, the green space on the hillside adjacent to the path could be turned into a park. Or perhaps we could build some off-road trails in there? It’s truly amazing what’s possible when we create spaces that are physically protected from cars and their drivers.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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draw2build architecture
Member

Yes, it is great to see this finally coming to fruition. (even though I would have rather seen the North Portland Greenway Trail along the river built first, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome there) A couple of things,
1) I don’t think it will reduce the speed of auto and truck traffic. I know that when I’ve been driving it, I have not felt the need to change from normal traffic speeds.
2) I know it is not advisable to take the lane on this fast-moving arterial right now when heading southbound, but its really the only option if you find yourself there. It would be best to take another route until a safe southbound option is again available.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

The freight industry paid PBOT to remove bikes from Greeley for the sole purpose of speeding up the road.

This is just another case of “Please don’t speed even though we’ve made it easy to speed” from PBOT.

#ZeroVision

james
Guest
james

nice, but i still think that they should remove the privilege of driving if they can’t maneuver around a bicycle properly. eff cars– why give them what they want?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It definitely seems like this interim stage is very dangerous for cyclists. PBOT should have the outside lanes coned off, giving cyclists a safe space to ride, until the crossing signal is turned on.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

Just curious, does anyone know how they addressed drainage for the protected bike path and adjacent roadway? This is oftentimes the biggest obstacle to creating barrier separation and sometime the easiest way is to use barriers with perforations to allow the water to flow through. It looks like there is a cross slope but I wonder if there will be locations where there is excessive cross slope drainage?

stormcycler
Guest
stormcycler

The concrete barriers do not have scuppers or other openings to allow flow through. The bike path has a cross slope and PBOT have graded in a shallow gravel covered roadside ditch, which I suspect this is the final treatment. I think there is a grate inlet at a sag at the bottom of the hill to collect the ditch discharge. I say this as a drainage engineer who has no knowledge of the project design but who has already run and biked this path many times.

JB
Guest
JB

Good point, check back next February. I expect the bike path, considering it can’t be cleaned with city’s standard sweeper, will be completely full of garbage, gravel, and tree limbs.

I expect the adjacent car lane might have a worse drainage problem with puddles accumulating along the jersey barriers after the little openings at the base of them fill up with sand and gravel.

Drainage and debris are one of the issues for protected bikeways – they fall out of city’s normal “routine” maintenance.

drs
Guest
drs

Portland has at least 2 smaller street sweepers that have been acquired to sweep protected bike bike lanes.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Yes, this type of construction guarantees a mess within two years. Unless they have a narrow sweeper (or some Good Samarita
ns take up the cause), this will get ugly fast.

drs
Guest
drs

PBOT has narrow sweepers. They’ll need to manually clear the scuppers, though. Those will get clogged with leaves and twigs. All the sweeping in the world won’t help in the rainy season if someone doesn’t get out to clear those.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

It’s 11.5 feet wide, wider than many standard lanes in Portland. Why wouldn’t the standard sweeper work?

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

I’m not sure why this is considered a “bike path”. PBOT officially considers this a MUP, correct? And it’s too narrow to be an actual bike path. And it ends on a (usually blocked) sidewalk with no connection to any other bike infrastructure.

So it’s a sidewalk with a concrete barrier.

NoPoBiker
Guest
NoPoBiker

Yep, it’s a multi-use path with pedestrians welcome. The homeless shanty town at the end often has cars parked on the sidewalk and dogs loose, keeping this a dangerous area to bike through.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Pictures of that area are notably absent from this post, given how critical that connection is. What does that area look like now, and do these new barriers do anything to prevent people from driving and parking cars on the route?

maxD
Guest
maxD

Last time a rode there was about 2 weeks ago and I counted 11 private vehicles. Yesterday as I passed by I could see at least 2 vehicles parked on the concrete sidewalk itself.

Racer X
Guest

WHAT?! We have to share the road with pedestrians?!

maxD
Guest
maxD

yes, you have to share a 5′ wide striped bike lane with pedestrians

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I predict long waits at the green light to crossover while cars pass unimpeded, and many will choose to take a big lane (hey, there’s still a spare one.)

JB
Guest
JB

Right, and you will have to trust motorists not to run the red while you are crossing. A motorist has lowered incentive to stop at this red light, as there is no cross vehicle traffic, just a beg-button for cyclists. I predict red-light running.

And, the ride has gotten longer by 2 traffic lights (one at each end) when there was none – a constant theme in pdx bicycle traffic engineering.

Stephan Vertal
Guest
Stephan Vertal

i would strongly encourage the installation of signs giving notice of the repositioning of the bike lane as far north as Willamette Blvd an Killingsworth. Perhaps also outside the Adidas buildings

Al
Guest
Al

I don’t understand how this is supposed to make riders feel safer. Having a bike lane was vastly superior to being forced to stop halfway down the hill, change sides, and then you have no option but to ride through the camps to get yourself out. I’d rather deal with cars than ***word deleted by moderator*** any day. I think a good number of cyclists will ignore the new infrastructure and just take the lane. Not a good pair with drivers merging onto Greeley who think they get to drive as fast as they want now, if they weren’t already.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Not a fan of the trail going through the camp, but I’m less of a fan of the broad ***word deleted by moderator*** generalization. That camp has been pretty well maintained compared to more informal encampments.

drs
Guest
drs

If by well maintained you mean frequent sewage spills and rampant proliferation of unregistered and likely stolen vehicles being driven on pedestrian pathways, then you are correct.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I don’t mind riding by active camps, but I can’t ride at all if a car is parked on the trail.

Maus,

What did you observe when you took these pictures? Was the connector to Interstate blocked by cars?

Z
Guest
Z

I consider myself a strong rider and accidentally headed down Greeley without the lane the other day; it was terrifying and much worse than bombing down west Burnside coming down from the west hills. I will never ride Greeley on the left or right again if I can help it.

stormcycler
Guest
stormcycler

The project page repeatedly refers to this as an MUP but I see no accommodation for pedestrians. Is there proposed striping or a sidewalk or something? I doubt this path will get heavy foot traffic, even a few could be dangerous for all. I could see the narrow path really struggling to accommodate two-way bike traffic and pedestrians, especially given the speed of downhill cyclists.

Skid
Guest
Skid

Bicycles regularly go as fast as cars down that hill and now they will be heading towards climbing cyclists. Nope, no chance of a cyclist head-on collision at all. And descending cyclists end up on the wrong side of the road. How is this safer when new dangers are being introduced?

maxD
Guest
maxD

If there was ever any doubt if cyclists were any more than an afterthought to this project, please note how they dealt with lane closures for motor vehicles versus bikes. The closures for people riding are very poorly signed, and they have been dragging on for weeks with no real end in sight. I think the cars were inconvenienced for 3 days!

JB
Guest
JB

When will city stop the practice of suddenly putting a “bike lane closed” sign smack dab in the middle of the bike lane as first notice!?! This is the “approved standard signage”. Maddening.

maccoinnich
Subscriber

Are there any updates on the protected bike lane Adidas is meant to build between Going and Willamette?

JB
Guest
JB

Do you mean the protected jogging path / shopping cart parking? They just need to connect that missing link in front of their building.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

There is exactly nothing beautiful about Jersey barriers, they may be functional but they are also ugly as all get-out.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Agreed. Motor vehicle infrastructure is a blight on society.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

That’s an interesting comment about something that makes every aspect of life as you know it possible.

Racer X
Guest

Sounds like a blank canvas opportunity art project!

Chris Yeargers
Guest
Chris Yeargers

They should open up the jersey barrier sightly at the start of the route (South end) to allow a bike to sneak in. If you got inadvertently caught there, you either have to jump the barrier or take a long, dangerous uphill journey. Not everyone will be comfortable hopping the barrier.

Jon Mohr
Guest
Jon Mohr

Fantastic! After several close calls, I am so excited about the added barrier.

pdx2wheeler
Subscriber

This looks great, finally! Those 2 cyclists taking the lane… dumb IMO.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The traffic light permitting safe crossing of the road when traveling southbound is not yet active, and the southern end of the path is often blocked by personal motor vehicles.

CourtneyCyclez
Guest
CourtneyCyclez

Those walls need artwork.

RudiV
Guest
RudiV

This is great. Why all the negativity?

maxD
Guest
maxD

they could have rebuilt Greeley with barrier-protected bike lanes on each side of the street, and used the traffic signal money for a signal to enter the ramp at I-405. That would created a safe AND direct route for bikes and made the road safer to drive on. With the design that is being built, PBOT neglected to address any of the well-known issues with the design (high traffic speeds, no space for pedestrians, 1/3 of the bike route is way too narrow, the route to get on to Interstate going south is convoluted and involves riding on a sidewalk and make several hard right turns that may not even be feasible with a bike trailer/tandem, etc.) The fact is, in PBOT’s direct words to me in a meeting them, this was a project paid for with freight dollars and intended to help only freight haulers. Roger Geller saw an opportunity to add some protected lane linear feet to bump up Portland’s statistics, so that is what we got. Since these protected lanes do not safely connect to anything for the southern 1/3 of the length of the route, the “improvements” are meaningless. Also, the bike route has been closed for nearly a month, the freight traffic was interrupted for a couple of days.

RudiV
Guest
RudiV

I’ve ridden it with a trailer. The only problem I had is the piece of fencing that’s still up where you have to port up and around the hill. Obviously not a part of the finished design. I don’t even *remember* navigating the convoluted part, so how convoluted can it be? As for riding on the sidewalk, it’s a sidewalk in name only it doesn’t really get much or even any pedestrian traffic, as evidenced by the fact that when I was down there Saturday, the work they seemed to be in the middle of was clearing the overgrowth that had taken over half the sidewalk. A well used path wouldn’t have that. It seems like a pragmatic solution using existing infrastructure imho. I have no problem with that unlike some other sidewalk routing I can think of (I’m looking at you 37th and Prescott).

The diagonal crossing going south is a bit weird but it could also be fine, too early to tell. All in all I will use this route every day. I already am. It solves all the issues that used to route me up to interstate.

maxD
Guest
maxD

RudiV,
I have lived in Overlook since 2008 and commute year-round by bike. I guarantee you this is a well-used sidewalk, and would be much better used if it were safer! This half-assed sidewalk and convoluted bike lane might work OK with a bunch of built in conflicts that dedicated cyclists and pedestrians learn to navigate, but that is not the point! PBOT needs to be building infrastructure that rewards people for choosing to cycle or walk, and takes care of them. You and I, a couple of people who have been cycling for years (I assume, since you are reading this blog)will be able to handle the shortcomings and conflicts, we can anticipate the dangers and get actual value out of it. But I am advocating for bike infrastructure my daughter can use. I want PBOT to DO what they SAY there are going to do: consider Vision Zero, prioritize pedestrians and bikes over cars, create a 8-80 cycle network, design infrastructure like climate change is real. This project screams mid 90’s- cobbling together some pretty good stuff where it is easy, then ignoring all the hard parts and the critical connections. This SHOULD be unacceptable, and I am dismayed to see an advocacy blog reporting on it like it is a good thing.IMO, it is worse than nothing, because this money and effort means it will be 20 years, minimum before PBOT looks at his again. PBOT NEEDS to work harder and get stuff right the first time.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

MaxD, I hear what you’re saying and all of your points are most definitely fair. It’s not a great design. In general, Portland often gets half-assed, shoddy scenarios that are designed around car infrastructure. Look only to the blank slate we had when the Orange line went in in SE. All those connections could have prioritized walking and biking. But I don’t think it’s worse than nothing. It’s protected, in part. And this is a step. We need a protected network of 8-80 design. Portland hasn’t had leadership to make this happen. PBOT makes things while trying to avoid ruffling the feathers of people who want parking (or freight). This won’t be forever though (I’m hoping). We just need a couple mayors in a row that actually prioritize bikes over cars. A basic network of protected bike lanes can easily transform Portland in a few years. It’s happened elsewhere.

drs
Guest
drs

If there was another five foot wide grade separated space for pedestrians and if this path didn’t terminate in a camp where illegal motor vehicle use has been very well documented and allowed to continue and to grow worse without any enforcement or push back, this would be a great facility. One can clearly see a glimpse of how great physically separated bike lanes could be if Portland had the will to really design and implement bicycle infrastructure. Sometimes roadways have to be widened, physical barriers have to be moved and laws have to be enforced to implement good design effectively. If you aren’t willing to do these admittedly difficult and politically fraught things, you can’t claim the mantle of being a great place for cyclists. Alas, the deficiencies outweigh the benefits of this facility. This mixed bag of good design elements and obvious and glaring flaws is a net loss for cyclists in North Portland. Huge win for freight haulers and distribution centers located in swan island.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I mostly agree with your assessment, but for this design to work, they must address the fatal flaw of how this new route connects to Interstate. Heading south, a person on a bike has to make a hard right on the Interstate sidewalk (about 10′ wide), travel downhill maybe 20-feet, then make a 90-degree left turn across the sidewalk down a single curb ramp and IMMEDIATELY make a hard, 90-dgree right turn; merging into a 5′ wide bike at the bottom of a big hill (so bikes will be coming fast) adjacent to a motor vehicle travel lane (also traveling fast). Try that with your longtail/tandem/bike trailer or with your child, first time rider!! This is NOT how new bike infrastructure should function- it is dangerous and ill-conceived. Oh, and I forgot to mention in that description of the final leg of this bike route: That entire route, including the single curb ramp, is now 2-way bike travel!

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

My hope is that when a new mayor comes along that prioritizes a network of 8-80 protected bike lanes, they will redesign Greeley with PBLs on both sides of the road. Southbound cycle traffic will use the ROW between the UP tracks and the I-5 onramp. Again, PBOT makes concessions based on what politicians prioritize. If Portland elects someone who puts PBLs on main commercial streets and builds a network, upgrades like this can happen.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

not to mention the ‘cross 4 lanes of 2-way traffic’ this design requires in at least one direction. Another PBOT fail!

qqq
Guest
qqq
Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy

Thanks for this review. Maybe next they’ll figure a halfway decent way to get off Swan Island. Getting down on to it is fine, but getting off it and onto Greeley has always been problematic. And I fear we’re no closer to extending the trail along the river further south from Daimler than we were 10 years ago.

Fred
Guest
Fred

True dat, Jimmy. I’ve given up on Going and now use the Waud Bluff Trail to get on and off Swan Island – I negotiate the stairs to the RR overcrossing every time. Sucks if you’ve gotta go to Daimler b/c then you have to ride across Swan Island, which is an awful ride.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Weird thing about Basin Ave: has it ever been/will it ever be busy? Having the protected bike lane (ie np greenway) run on Basin is a no brainer.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

bean counters don’t really care about your concerns?

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

I just rode this this morning from Swan Island to Interstate. The striping is in and it looks finished to me other than the fence still being up near the Interstate end. There were no cars blocking the path beyond the fence.

I like this but can’t help wonder why it took so long for such a simple project. Didn’t the city pay out some million dollar settlement after a cyclist was injured on Greeley?

Richard Herbin
Guest
Richard Herbin

Not looking forward to reading about the first 40 mph head on collision on this facility.

RudiV
Guest
RudiV

I still like this project, but as someone commented below, the north bound entrance at Interstate needs some serious work. I was heading south in the protected lane when I saw a rider coming north in the car lanes, then on my way home I almost did exactly the same thing!

It’s unclear that after crossing interstate you need to turn north to enter the bike lane. Way too easy to turn south and end up in the car lanes on Greeley, where there is no longer much shoulder at all, and no way to escape other than climbing the wall.