Checking in on NE 47th, Greeley protected bike lane projects

Posted by on February 3rd, 2021 at 12:52 pm

NE 47th after a complete rebuild with new concrete, planted buffer, and new multi-use path.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

View north from Columbia Blvd before the project started.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s winter doldrums not just for our psyches here in Portland, but also for our transportation bureau’s construction season. Two projects that didn’t get completed before the winter shut-down have big implications for bicycle users: new separated bike paths on NE 47th and the new, two-way protected bike lane on N Greeley near Adidas. I recently checked progress on both projects.

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NE 47th

PBOT plan drawings for NE 47th.

Just north of Columbia, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is doing a complete rebuild of NE 47th Avenue — a crucial connection to the Portland Airport and the newly remodeled Whitaker Ponds Nature Area. PBOT, Portland Water Bureau, Parks and Recreation and the Bureau of Environmental Services came together to invest $7.7 million into this section of the road.

To goal is to bring 47th up to city standards. Before the project broke ground in 2019, it was a two-lane, 40-mph speed limit thoroughfare with many industrial businesses sharing big driveways and competing for space in gravel shoulders. On a bike, it was a nerve-wracking mess. If the close passes from huge trucks didn’t rattle you, the debris and potholes would.

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The new street should be much more chill. The design has kept the two-lane profile and adds a separated lane for walking and rolling. Street trees, green street planters, and more street lights are also on the way.

Much of the construction is complete and all that’s left to finish up in the spring are the landscaping and some utility pole work.

The other big thing left for this project will be an educational and enforcement campaign. That’s because folks are used to parking in the shoulder where the new path has been built. When I was out there last week there was a lot of activity on the new path — and not just from construction crews. Given the heavy industrial land-use here, getting business owners, their employees, and their customers to respect the new path could be a very heavy lift. Hopefully PBOT has some plans to manage this. We’ll find out soon enough as construction should be done by late spring or summer.

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N Greeley

View looking north on Greeley. Note old bike lane stripe that has been ground off.

Close-up of the itty bitty curb meant to protect us from car violence and other driving risks.

Lost in the hoopla of the new concrete-wall separated bikeway on North Greeley last summer was the northern section of project. We detailed the plans for this project back in August and showed how PBOT was making major changes to the road configuration. Instead of the current bike lanes protected by plastic-curbs and wands on each side of the street, the new plan is to create a two-way bikeway on the west side that connects from the existing neighborhood greenway on Willamette to the new protected bike lane that begins at N Going.

As you can see in the photos above, the new protection will come via the same small, concrete curb PBOT used on N Rosa Parks and a few other locations. Another big feature will be a floating bus island to serve the Adidas campus (photos below).

We’ll be watching both of these project as they near completion. Stay tuned for updates.

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

I’m eagerly anticipating the finished N Greeley bikeway, but the current state of affairs is atrocious!

Most days I’ve ridden through the southbound lane near the north end of the project area it’s only about 3 feet wide. It’s separated from traffic by loosely arrayed cones and barriers that often are knocked over by passing cars. There’s a big unmarked asphalt bump that’s actually really fun to ride but could knock you off if you don’t know it’s there already.

As unreliable as the southbound bikeway is, northbound is lethal. Exiting the protected lanes and then crossing Going, it is surprising to see no bike lane at all. This condition is worse than before the wands were installed years ago because at least then there was paint and some space. Now it’s the dreaded “bike merge with traffic” sign and speeding commuters honking at me as I try to climb a steep hill in the single traffic/bike lane. Instead I’ve taken to pulling over at the north end of Going (south end of Adidas) and waiting for a break in traffic so I can cross into the oncoming southbound bike lane. That works until the north end of Adidas where you have to squeeze into that 3ft lane and hope no one is bombing down the hill. This has only become worse recently because the sidewalk on the west side of the street is now closed, so there is no bail out option.

The construction company and PBOT are grossly negligent in project management and traffic control on this project. They need to finish and reopen facilities before beginning the next parts. If they can’t do that they should have 24 hour flaggers closing traffic to cars until bikes pass.

maxD
Guest
maxD

Could not agree more with Stormcycler. I rode north on Greeley a couple of weeks ago on my way home, and was totally terrifying!. It was dark and rainy night, the striping and signage was no where to be seen. If not for the forbearance of a couple of patient drivers, I could have easily been killed. The new design is also garbage- pushing all the bikes conveniently out of the way of Adidas’s new entry. I am not a fan of the 2-way cycletrack, but having a 2-way cycletrack that flip flops to opposite sides of a street is a great way to confirm that PBOT thinks your means of transportation is a joke.

Pojaco
Guest
Pojaco

100% agree. Northbound Greeley is an entirely new kind of death-trap once you leave the protected lane and head towards Adidas. For a short stretch it almost seems that the City intends for cyclists to cross Greeley and continue uphill in that protected bike lane. But that’s a garbage idea, so surely that’s not the intent?

Then a few feet later a new “cyclists in road” sign appears, suggesting you were NOT supposed to cross the road after all, but now you’re sharing a lane with notoriously fast Greeley traffic. What is going on?!

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Awesome PBoT! Thanks!

 
Guest
 

These definitely look good! I wish the Greeley curb was a little higher, but that’s a minor nitpick.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

This is a huge improvement over what was an awful situation. Nonetheless, given vehicle speeds on the road, I have to question the use of a mountable curb as separator. From a physical safety perspective, this is much the same as plastic wands, though I think it looks better. Maybe fewer wands will get broken off.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

Looking at N Greeley I don’t like having a 2-way “cycle track” with such drastic speed differential between directions. The grade allows and should encourage 25mph+ downhill riding but pretty slow climbing. I fundamentally do not trust cyclists coming at me that fast on a narrow path. I get that this is solution has it’s benefits. But I feel like 2-way bike paths never wide enough for safe passing, especially on grades.

cmh89
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cmh89

I know that for whatever reason you love the junk sidewalk/MUP they built on Greeley but it makes the whole project even sadder that they are now using its existence to destroy Hazelnut Grove in the middle of winter during a pandemic. Just shameful

Nadia Maxim
Guest
Nadia Maxim

cmh89,
I’m guessing the nearby neighbors of Hazelnut Grove don’t hold that opinion. All the residents have been offered other options as well.
https://www.wweek.com/news/2018/10/24/multnomah-county-planning-to-move-hazelnut-grove-homeless-village-to-st-johns/

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

You mean the wealthy affluent white people who don’t want to deal with poor people? Those neighbors? Yeah, I know, they’ve worked hard and long to kick these people to my neighborhood while my neighbors suffer while the city wont do anything for us.

maxD
Guest
maxD

Maybe some of the people who are relieved at this news just want to bike past Hazelnut Grove but get stuck by people driving their personal vehicles down the trail. Maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this; hold off judging until you have had a car appear and starting driving right at you on a dark, rainy evening on an isolated stretch of path that is less than 10 feet wide effectively blinding you and leaving you with no clear place to maneuver. Maybe these are not just “affluent white people”, maybe they are homeowners on the edge of historically fire-prone bluff who are concerned with a group of squatters who cook over open flames.

Momo
Guest
Momo

I’ve been blocked multiple times on that path by large trucks completely blocking the way, and one time a gate was left open stretched across the entire path. It has not been a good situation. I think the city and county have done a good job finding an alternative location in St Johns.

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

So, Cornfoot/Alderwood is still on the planned but unfunded?
https://bikeportland.org/2017/06/13/ne-47th-ave-rebuild-new-park-entrance-part-of-bright-future-for-airport-access-and-beyond-231329
“Two future projects — a bike path on Cornfoot and bike access upgrades on 42nd/47th south of Columbia — are planned but still unfunded.”

Momo
Guest
Momo

The 42nd Ave bridge over Lombard and its approaches are now funded and in design and will break ground most likely later this year. The project includes bike lanes and sidewalk connecting 42nd/Holman to 47th/Columbia. https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/construction/ne-42nd-ave-bridge-over-ne-lombard

The bike path on Cornfoot Rd is still unfunded, unfortunately, but once the 42nd and 47th Ave projects are done this will be a very obvious gap to fill and hopefully will be funded soon.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Looks like the south approach is the only section without grade separation. Not too shabby. I hope PBoT works with parks in making a cycletrack along the W side of 42nd in Fernhill pk to Killingsworth.

Momo
Guest
Momo

It would be cool if they ran a path along the edge of the park!

Nadia Maxim
Guest
Nadia Maxim

“…..The other big thing left for this project will be an educational and enforcement campaign”

Enforcement. You do realize this is Portland, right? Unfortunately, amongst the current political elites of Portland enforcement is felt to be inequitable and therefore to be avoided at all costs. The rest of us bear the consequences of this belief.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

I think enforcement of pallets stacked on the sidewalk would not be considered at risk of inequity. However, I still expect it will not be done with the frequency required.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The second to last Greeley photo shows what appears to be a very abrupt hump transition. Is this just an optical illusion, or are faster cyclists going to hit that in the dark and go over the bars?

qqq
Guest
qqq

Yikes! Also a good place to twist your ankle if you step on that slope while crossing between the sidewalk and bus island.

Another thing I wonder in that photo (but more clearly in the last photo): The bike lane is raised to the sidewalk/island level for 25′ or so. But the yellow tactile warning strips that tell someone with vision impairment that they’re entering the bike lane as they cross between the sidewalk and island are only about 4′ wide.

That means those warnings are worthless unless guardrails are put up on both sides the full length of the raised bike lane, so people only walk across it at the yellow strips. That seems awkward. Why don’t the yellow strips go the full length of the raised bike lane area? Or maybe there will be a shelter on the island that will serve as a guardrail? But that would block bikers’ views of people crossing, and wouldn’t stop people from walking into the bike lane unknowingly from the sidewalk (and then run into the back of the shelter). Will be interesting to see when done.

mh
Subscriber

I never did and never will understand why PBOT insists on protecting the personal property of idiot drivers at the expense of vulnerable road users lives and safety. They might block the road if they crashed? I’ll walk around it on the sidewalk.

rick
Guest
rick

47th will need patrols regarding potential illegal parking. Too bad Portland parking patrol stops work after the regular work hours. Other police patrols outside Portland can respond 24/7.