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.”
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 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.
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.
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
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, email@example.com
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Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.