Last month the Portland Bureau of Transportation took the wraps off a pilot project for a new type of facility that aims to improve walking conditions without the expense or complication of building a full-fledged sidewalk. They call it an “alternative pedestrian walkway” and the first one has been built on a one mile stretch of Northeast 60th between Going and Lombard in the Cully Neighborhood.
Identified as a major walking corridor in the city’s pedestrian master plan (Ped PDX, 2019), 60th was like many streets in Cully and other less-developed parts of Portland: it had two general lanes and no space for shoulders, bike lanes or sidewalks.
To get the space for a six-foot wide walkway on one side of the street, PBOT shifted the centerline over about four feet. They then leveled and paved the existing gravel shoulder. The walkway (more photos below) is separated from other street traffic by a concrete curb similar to the ones PBOT has used on North Rosa Parks Way, Lombard, and elsewhere. There are breaks in the curb for driveway access, but PBOT has added a tiny asphalt bump to remind people the walkway is there and to push stormwater away from private property. (I haven’t seen PBOT use this type of tiny paved curb in this context before.) The intention of the space is communicated by a pedestrian marking on the pavement.
At crossings, PBOT has added zebra-striping, truncated domes (those tiny yellow bumps), and a few plastic delineator wands. The walkway is on the west side of 60th between Prescott and Killingsworth and it shifts to the east side between Killingsworth and Lombard.
As we shared in our first story about this project in 2019, these walkways aren’t designed for use by bicycle riders; but it’s certainly allowed. Until PBOT establishes good bikeways nearby, this could become a useful bikeway. I rode on it from Alberta north to connect to bike lanes on Killingsworth. I kept my speeds very low and rang my bell in case anyone was walking nearby, treating it more like a crowded multi-use path and less like a bike lane. I found it to be quite nice and it felt very safe.
In addition to the walkway, PBOT has added “fire-friendly speed bumps” (the ones with the channels through them) so that people have an easier time staying within the 20 mph speed limit.
Check this out next time you’re in the neighborhood. If you’ve already experienced it, please let PBOT know what you think in the comments.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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