First Look: New bike lanes, traffic calming treatments on SW Patton and Greenway

Posted by on April 15th, 2021 at 11:37 am

Dog hesitantly uses the new SW Greenway crosswalk. Looking north from the curbed finger now separating Talbot Rd from SW Greenway Ave.
(Photo: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

It only took the crew a day to bolt in the plastic curbs, lay down some paint, and tame the free-for-all of poor behavior that typically defines the intersection of Southwest Patton Road and Greenway Ave in the Portland Heights neighborhood. It’s a rare bit of active transportation infrastructure in this part of Portland and so far the positive reviews are pouring in.

“Now I will be able to safely walk my son to school.”
— Passerby

By last Saturday afternoon, the traffic dynamic in the area had shifted from disorder to calm due to the two Southwest in Motion projects city crews installed at this key intersection in the bike network. We previously described the challenges at this former site of a Council Crest Trolley line. The trolley needed the wide turning radii at the corners which today invite sloppy driving. Sight lines were also problem, as were crosswalk widths.

Operationally, the only change the projects brought is that drivers can no longer enter SW Talbot Rd from Patton, although the rest of Talbot remains two-way. What this restriction has bought the Talbot driver, however, is the ability to pull directly up to the intersection box at Patton, rather than enter Patton via the previously awkward merge with Greenway Ave traffic.

The mouth of Talbot is now one-way for drivers, two-way for bicycle riders.

The mouth of Talbot is now one-way for drivers, two-way for bicycle riders. (photo: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

The most impactful change is how the Greenway Ave stop sign has been moved forward 20 feet up to Patton. This also fixes a sight line problem. Before the changes, riders would have to muscle their way in and play chicken with aggressive drivers. One man I met at the intersection recently, who has ridden his bike through it for a dozen years, said a driver, “actually stopped and waved me through, even though he had the priority! That has never happened before.”

The other important changes are more subtle. The Patton traffic lanes have been narrowed by the addition of a stretch of new bike lanes between Montgomery and Greenway. And the westbound lane has been further narrowed by shifting and extending the yellow center line up to Greenway. With this narrower and longer lane, and the nose on the mid-Greenway pedestrian refuge, the stream of left-turners must be more precise in their entry up Greenway. That precision requires slower driving and thus protects people in the crosswalk from fast, wild, left turns.

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Despite the shocking visual change of bright white and green paint, and the plastic wands, neighbors seem happy with the improvements. “It’s beautiful,” one woman who mainly drives through the intersection told me, “and it will be safer for pedestrians too.” A father said, “now I will be able to safely walk my son to school.”

People may eventually find a way to behave selfishly, once the novelty of the improvements wears off, but this solid design will make it much more difficult.

SW Montgomery Drive at Patton Rd

Just west of SW Greenway Ave, the intersection of Patton Rd and Montgomery Drive also received some changes, including a couple of unexpected bonus crossings which were not in the original design: one for bicycle users and one for pedestrians.

Three new crossings at the intersection of SW Montgomery Drive and Patton Rd.

Three new crossings at the intersection of SW Montgomery Drive and Patton Rd. (photo: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

The left turn from Montgomery to Patton is still dicey because of the blind curve to the west, but hopefully the dominating visual presence of the crosswalks will slow drivers down. PBOT also added “TuffCurb” curb extensions to the mouth of Montgomery. They might clean up those alarmingly close left turns that some motorists make from Patton north onto Montgomery.

These cool, sunny days are the perfect weather to trek up SW Montgomery to Council Crest or the Fairmount Loop. And now the ride just got safer.

Red Electric Construction Begins

Conceptual rendering by PBOT.

PBOT announced on Tuesday the Red Electric Trail Bridge project has broken ground. The 12-foot-wide bridge-over-a-ravine will connect the Hillsdale shopping and business district to the planned neighborhood greenway on “little Bertha” (a small street which runs parallel to Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy). “Little Bertha” crosses 30th Ave which is the location of several multi-unit dwellings, with more being built. 30th Ave, however, mostly doesn’t have sidewalks despite heavy car traffic. So the link from neighborhood greenway to bridge to shopping district will give this high density residential area a much-needed and stress-free connection to their neighborhood center.

PBOT expects project completion in spring 2022, and the SW Bertha Blvd neighborhood greenway to go in 2023-2024. More background in our story from January.

Lisa Caballero

— Lisa Caballero, lisacaballero853@gmail.com
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plm
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plm

I use this intersection daily on my walk to work. This is a huge improvement, traffic is much more calm and patient. I’d love to see a Biketown station up here (someday?)

 
Guest
 

Great to see PBOT finally adding some bike infrastructure to this area of Portland. Would be nice to see Hewitt as an official greenway too and more bike lanes added on Patton east of Hewitt; that would finally create even a moderate-stress route all the way from the Tualatin Valley (via the 26 path) to the OHSU area.

Keith
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Keith

As a long time bike commuter on Montgomery, these changes are a significant improvement. The sight distance from Montgomery in both directions on Patton is extremely limited, and crossing during evening peak was like playing a video game with cars instantly appearing from nowhere in both directions. This should help a lot. Rode through this afternoon, and everything was logical and intuitive. The next step for PBOT is to provide a good link between Montgomery (at Vista) and the bottom of the hill.

Fred
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Fred

I rode thru this area on Monday and was surprised to see the changes. I slotted right into the green lane with no problem, and didn’t think much about it. But I’ve never had a problem in this area b/c I ride assertively (I play chicken with cars, okay??). Seriously, I realize that the changes are meant to signal to drivers of cars and trucks: “Bikes belong in this area, so don’t hit them.” And that’s a good thing.

AndyK
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I’m glad the MAMILs finally got some infrastructure upgrades.
😉

Jeff S
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Jeff S

Hey, you’re leaving out the OMILettes!