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Get excited about the North Greeley bikeway project as it nears completion

Posted by on May 4th, 2021 at 3:25 pm

Looking north on North Greeley from the Adidas pedestrian bridge.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

There’s been significant progress on the North Greeley Avenue bikeway project since the last time we checked in. Much of the bikeway between Willamette and Going is completed. All that remains is to turn on the new bike traffic signals, finish important crossing treatments, and a few other details.

I rolled over last weekend for a closer look and I’m convinced: When complete, this bikeway will be one of the best in Portland.

(Click for captions)

For one sublime, very short stretch you can feel what it’s like to bike in the best biking cities in Europe.

The one-block section that connects to the Willamette Blvd neighborhood greenway (above) is one of our only examples of the highest-quality design possible from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (as per the “money is no object” design they shared in 2018 in the yet-to-be-released Protected Bike Lane Design Guide). It’s at sidewalk-level, physically separated from drivers via planted concrete median, has ample width (even keeping mind that it’s for two-way bike traffic), and its black pavement helps contrast it from the adjacent sidewalk which helps keep the uses separate.

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Even as we leave this world-class block and transition onto street level, the bikeway remains physically separated. From N Emerson to just south of the Adidas Headquarters campus, the bikeway remains high quality. It has ample width, a striking paint scheme to set it apart (and make users feel special), bike-only signalization where needed, a floating bus island, and physical separation from drivers via a concrete curb, delineator wands and a painted buffer zone.

The quality goes down a bit south of the campus, but it remains protected with a concrete curb until you reach the new multi-use path south of Going that opened in August.

South of the campus we lose the fun paint and the buffer.

Riders pass each other near Going Court intersection.

This is an exciting project and I look forward to a full review once it’s completed; but I need to point out a major concern. This is yet another project where partial completion puts bicycle riders at risk. This issue has bothered me for years and it’s bad here on Greeley.

The problem is when contractors are in the middle of a project and they fail to erect work zone signage and/or adequate detours to keep people safe. We see this when PBOT installs a new parking protected bike lane and many people park cars in it. There’s no signage to let folks know what’s going on or how to manage the incomplete project. Granted, things eventually clear up, but it’s never OK to put road users at risk without proper work zone/detour signage — even for just a few hours.

Currently on this Adidas project, the new bikeway from Greeley down to Going (on Going Court) is almost done. From Going it looks 100% done and invites people to ride up to Greeley via Going Court on a nice, new path. Unfortunately, because the crossing at Greeley/Going Ct is not finished, the bike lane just dumps people right into a lane of oncoming car/truck traffic! And there’s no safe way to cross Greeley to get onto the new bikeway. Despite this clear danger, there’s no caution tape or any other signage of any kind warning road users that it’s still a work zone. This is very dangerous.

Relatedly, people riding northbound on Greeley are left in a lurch when they leave the protection of the concrete wall south of Going. The old bike lane striping encourages people to continue straight into a dead zone where there’s no longer a bikeway and the crossing and signal at Going Court isn’t installed yet. The new signal on the south side of Going isn’t working right and it’s very unintuitive to cross diagonally – especially in the northbound direction. A new bikeway sign encourages people to “use the sidewalk” to get to Going Court and down to Swan Island (via Going), but that sidewalk is ripped up and impassable.

The entire area around Going is a confusing mess. Greeley has relative high speeds and we can’t have all this indecision among bicycle riders because of sloppy work and incomplete projects.

I hear PBOT crews are out at the Greeley/Going signal today. I hope they can shore up some of these problems. In the meantime, please be aware that the Greeley/Going/Going Ct intersection is incomplete. Be very cautious.

I’ll share another update here when the project is done.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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q'TzaloliverJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)Bill StitesStarbreaker Recent comment authors
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Kristin Sweeney
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Kristin Sweeney

Amen to all of this. I have had to lift my cargo bike onto the sidewalk to avoid work crews. The Going crossing has been an issue for several weeks now — this should have been at the top of the priority list, before the silly tennis ball painting. I got caught in this mess with our two-year-old on the way back from downtown. Thank goodness for e-assist as I crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic going uphill with no signal guidance. I will be taking Williams/Vancouver until this gets fixed.

JG
Guest
JG

From what I gather, the Greeley/Going intersection isn’t part of what Adidas did independently–thus the disconnect between the painting and work right on the Adidas campus versus this PBOT infrastructure work. I hope you’re safely back on this route soon!

Fred
Guest
Fred

I think adidas footed the bill entirely for Willamette to Going portion, but I could be wrong.

Mark in NoPo
Guest
Mark in NoPo

I remember lots of sturm und drang about how the evil capitalists at Adidas would screw this up. Now that it’s done and it works so well, just two questions: Is there anything the city can learn from the company’s approach? And are there steps in the process that could be eliminated, to deliver high-quality transportation infrastructure faster and at lower cost?

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

This is what you can accomplish when you don’t give in to NIMBYs. Adidas wanted a high quality cycle track and because they control both sides of the street it was built. Usually PBOT lets a few property owners derail in the mildest of projects but they didn’t get the opportunity here.

Of course, the quality of this project stands in contrast with the low quality and value of the Greeley sidewalk enhancement south of N. Going. Riders will experience high quality cycletrack and then be dumped onto a bleak, uninviting, narrow, and dangerous path that then dumps the rider onto an actual sidewalk after navigating parked cars and trash. You then get the choice of the awful ride up to the broadway bridge with cars merging in front of you/behind you/into you or the joy of riding down N Interstate and being a foot away from speeding semi trucks.

Unfortunately this is just another island of safety. The transportation equivalent of “all dressed up and nowhere to go”

drs
Guest
drs

I can’t believe that they didn’t erect barriers at the end of the Going St ramp to prevent people in cars from driving onto the bike lane (and to prevent people on bikes from driving into oncoming traffic). That’s incomplete design is just inviting deadly conflicts.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Where are the bollards to keep out the inevitable delivery trucks and parked cars who will use the nice new green lanes? Without enforcement, bollards and barriers are necessary.

drs
Guest
drs

Seems like PBOT favors flexible structures when they do install separating barriers. Don’t know how much good a few flexible bollards would be.

But I definitely agree. Either enforcement or physical barriers need to be installed. The paint will never be enough if the lane is wide enough for a car or truck to easily enter.

 
Guest
 

IIRC part of this bikeway was designed by Adidas and not PBOT. Which portion of the project was designed by PBOT and which portion was by Adidas, or am I misremembering something?

qqq
Guest
qqq

Adidas deserves credit not just for the bikeway, but for putting its headquarters in the city in the first place. What a contrast with Nike, which isolated itself behind a berm in surburbia.

With the bikeway, Adidas also looks great in comparison to respected Portland institutions like the Japanese Garden (which praised itself for extending a sidewalk in Washington Park, but only after its lawyers fought having to put it in) or OPB (which just did a several-million dollar renovation but didn’t even provide one short-term bike rack) or the Portland Art Museum (which tried to get approval to close off a public street for its new lobby).

Fred
Guest
Fred

Nice video, JM. I’ve noticed the same odd tendency of PBOT to open incomplete projects. When the raised bike lanes were built on Multnomah Blvd a few years ago, cars were parking in the lanes b/c there was no signage or paint to tell car operators what to do. I complained to City Hall and some staffer got very annoyed with me. “We’re doing our best – how dare you criticize us!” was her general tone. I know it’s hard to be in the people-pleasing business but it’s kinda obvious that the people who do these projects do not ride bikes themselves. Otherwise they’d never allow such a situation (it would never be allowed for cars). New rule for PBOT work crews: 50% must commute to work by bike. 😉

JG
Guest
JG

I’ll be moving to Overlook next month. Thank you for the updates on what looks like an exciting project that I’ll use frequently. Hopefully the finishing touches are done sooner than later!

MattGee
Guest
MattGee

I’d love to see some paint and personality brought to the lower Greeley section. Riding in that protected-by-concrete section is more pleasant than I’d expected, but it’s not visually appealing and it seems like there’s space for murals on the concrete barriers or other artwork to make it feel like you’re not in a concrete bunker stuck next to a high-speed 4-lane road.

Drew Williamson
Guest
Drew Williamson

I work on Swan Island and commute in from Southwest Portland. I try to bike at least once a week during normal times–but only after the jersey barrier protected bike lane went in on the southern half of Greeley. I haven’t ridden in for a couple months though now simply because as soon as they started tearing up the Going/Greeley intersection again, it got too dangerous! It The new two way track on Going Ct. is nice pretty, but with all the semis and big trucks, obviously the plastic wands won’t last for shit. Three of them were knocked down in the first week. I was underwhelmed because I thought from the engineering drawings that the whole thing would be grade separated. Unfortunately, the whole project is compromised as long as the Going/Greeley overpass is a disaster, and totally unsafe. But sadly, since that’s away from the front doors of the Adidas campus, it seems to have been relegated to red-headed stepchild status. I haven’t seen any more work happening in probably almost the last month, and been really curious what the hold up is. Does anyone know if Adidas has a projected completion timeframe?

 
Guest
 

That portion of the project is being done by PBOT, not Adidas. As far as I can tell the Adidas portion is finished and in great shape, while the PBOT portion leaves something to be desired.

Starbreaker
Guest
Starbreaker

I rode that for the first time yesterday morning heading south and it is very nice. Is the dot pattern an effort to save paint or just a design element? I like it but it kind of hides the quick ramp up and down from the bus island. The ramps are rather abrupt, especially at downhill speed.

Bill Stites
Subscriber

Some are referencing jersey barriers, but I only see the low concrete curbs in images here, and they are really inadequate. They will not prevent intrusion by even the most common lateral wandering driver [reading 5 words too many in their text]. Indeed, they may contribute to a loss of control when a driver inevitably tangles with these curbs. With a two-way bikeway, we are asked to ride bikes very close to high-speed traffic coming head-on.
Clearly, what’s needed is perhaps 12″ tall barriers – whatever is sufficient to keep most vehicles from intruding quite dangerously when the driver makes ‘minor’ errors. A well-designed system provides wide margins of error for users.
No thanks, I will not be riding this. Same feeling about the two-way bikeway on SE 21st, crossing I84.
I used to be “strong and fearless”, now I think I have a better sense of the true dangers and I be a wimp now. 8 – 80? Ha!

oliver
Guest
oliver

I’ve been waiting so say I was wrong on this one.

I was the biggest skeptic about putting the bike lane on the wrong side of Greeley, but it works pretty well, and has become my favored route to work downtown. Key (imo) is the fast crossing signal at Going. However, it looks like the powers that be have dialed down the sensitivity, so my stoke is a bit tempered this week.

Also, word to the wise. When it’s raining, a puddle forms on the roadside of the barrier at the kink where the hill levels out just past the shrine. If you meet an oncoming HGV at this point, you will get comically wet.

Also also, as anyone who has ridden this already knows, the hump at the bus crossing can catch you out if you’re not ready for it.

q'Tzal
Guest
q'Tzal

JM: Excellent point in the video about needed construction signage warning people on bicycles using incomplete facilities; unless they block them off in a way that makes the unfinished improvements blatantly undesirable to use people WILL use it. Most DOTs will give signage on non-automotive infrastructure the absolute lowest priority; this is a mistake because nationwide we’ve trusted the MUTCD sign language to do the heavy lifting of educating ALL road users how to safely use multitudes of differing road situations.

Which segues to the related problem not really addressed in your video: automotive construction zone signage. I didn’t see any indications warning automobile drivers of WTF is going on, what’s changing, how it’s going to be different now and when it is done. I’ve been commuting by bike for +25 years and I consistently hear from coworkers that they have no clue what is going on in construction zones receiving improvements for bikes and peds. There is almost ZERO communication outside of the “bike community” and active/green transportation community about what these projects are or when and where they will happen. “We” are all aware of these improvements but few outside of this echo chamber have heard anything ever about bicycle improvements.

Automobile drivers in this video probably have NO CLUE that a new bike lane alignment is being made and that their high speed right turn is going to be unpredictably interrupted by bicycles in the incomplete bike lane because PBOT is too lazy to warn anyone or block the area completely.

It’s like PBOT wants a head on collision here. The lack of signage warning drivers about the specific hazard caused by PBOT’s failure to block off incomplete bicycle facilities looks like a perfect set up for a large civil suit payout coming out of taxpayer’s pockets. Ahh, the price of laziness.