PBOT project will improve several key Central Eastside bikeways

Posted by on August 25th, 2021 at 3:22 pm

A rider waits for a break in traffic on Ankeny Island in 2015.
(Photo: Michael Andersen)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to start a major project next summer that will look to reduce bike/truck conflicts and improve freight circulation in the Central Eastside. As part of the work we’ll see auto traffic diversion on two key bikeways, new signals, new bike lanes, and more.

The five projects will focus on significant changes to key bike network intersections at NE 16th at Irving, SE Sandy at 11th/Ankeny, SE Grand at Washington, SE Grand at Salmon, and SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd at Salmon. The projects are part of what PBOT calls the Central Eastside Access and Circulation project that was awarded $2.8 million in federal funding from a Metro “Regional Flexible Fund” grant in 2017.

PBOT says some elements included in the original, $5 million project scope have been removed due to rising material costs and a reduction in matching funds. Even so, what remains is significant. Take a closer look at the plans below…

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We’re excited to see changes coming to the notorious intersection of Sandy/Ankeny/11th. According to PBOT plans, through driving will be prohibited on Ankeny between 10th and 12th. There will also be new signals and green coloration of the bikeway coming via a bike box on eastbound Ankeny, the bike lane on 11th, and new bike crossings.

The changes coming to Ankeny aren’t quite as robust as the roundabout or neckdown suggested by our readers back in 2015, but they are a step forward.


The bikeway on Salmon where it crossings Grand and MLK (a stressful couplet) will also see significant upgrades. In addition to new traffic signals PBOT’s latest plans show car traffic diverters that prevent turns onto Salmon from the couplet. Westbound bike riders on MLK will get a new green bike lane, then a signal to get across which leads to a contraflow (against traffic) bike lane westbound toward SE 3rd Ave. And drivers will no longer be able to turn right (westbound) onto Salmon from MLK. There will be a similar bike treatment at SE Grand, and drivers won’t be able to right (eastbound) onto Salmon. This design should dramatically improve safety and reduce the number of cars on the greenway.

With these updates to Salmon, this crucial greenway that currently ends at 7th (where the route jogs over to Taylor) will have low(er)-stress access all the way to the Esplanade!


At NE 16th and Irving, bike riders will get green lanes and boxes to help reduce right hooks. New signals will add predictability to the intersection that currently relies on guess-work. Benson High students and other walkers will appreciate the robust curb extensions to make crossings easier.

Check the plans for more details and stay tuned for more opportunities to weigh in this fall.

CORRECTION: This article initially claimed that Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Grand are owned by the State of Oregon. That was a mistake. They are PBOT roads. We regret the error.

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

The improvements that PBOT has made to Sandy along that stretch have been very effective. I’m glad this intersection is still on the docket because it’s extremely dangerous. There’s so much contention at that intersection, I think some restrictions are needed to eliminate certain flow patterns. Such as those traveling south on Sandy merging to 11th Avenue. At rush hour, coming up the hill, stalled cars block the view of turning traffic. Almost certainly, if you use Sandy north to Ankeny, you will need to execute extreme care.

EP
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EP

For some reason they’re cutting back the existing intersection median islands on Sandy to the SW and NE of 11th. It seems like this will make those southbound turns off Sandy to 11th even more easier for cars and thus more dangerous.

Jason
Guest
Jason

If I read correctly, they are adding traffic controls (lights). Which should increase the safety a lot. Fingers crossed.

Psmith
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Psmith

According to the website, the project is also adding traffic signals at all five locations, not just at the Salmon/MLK/Grand locations. This seems like important information for this article! Traffic signals at 16th/Irving and Ankeny/11th/Sandy will be very welcome, since it means we won’t have to wonder if traffic will yield at those locations.

I also don’t see any mention of what the plan is to actually extend the Salmon neighborhood greenway west of 7th Ave. Right now it just ends at 7th, with no good crossing at 7th and no sharrows west of 7th. So it appears this project is extending the neighborhood greenway to the Esplanade? What’s the plan for the 7th Ave crossing?

hamiramani
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hamiramani

As you probably know, 7th is part of the Central City in Motion (CCIM) plan. My guess is that the crossing at 7th will be treated once this part of the CCIM is funded/planned (not sure what stage this is at).

I imagine there will also be some treatment done west of MLK to the Esplanade once the Salmon Greenway is officially. It would make great sense for PBOT to take care of 7th and its crossing at Salmon next summer as well, especially since the Blumenauer bridge will hopefully be in use by then.

GAW
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GAW

Cool. But it’s a shame we don’t have the full $5 million to spend on bike infrastructure. Unfortunately, the city wastes a lot of money due to its hesitancy to enforce laws and keep order. The chaos allowed has led to lots of increased costs for taxpayers (police overtime, vandalism of city properties, derelict boat removal, stripped car towing, graffiti removal,garbage cleanup, etc). Think of all the permanent bike infrastructure that could be built if we didn’t have all these costs to taxpayers. 🙁

bbcc
Guest
bbcc

So true! We should stop giving the police department so much money.

GAW
Guest
GAW

bccc,,
That would be counterproductive. Crime and vandalism would only increase with that approach.

Stephan
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Stephan

One upgrade I’d like to see: paint on NE Multnomah and NE Grand, to guide bike riders as to where to wait for the signal to turn green.

I’ve used the right-most lane here and got harassed by drivers who wanted to turn right on Grand. The central lane would be the correct one but nothing indicates that.

Aaron
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Aaron

I don’t know if the intersection has been upgraded since the Google Maps street view footage I’m seeing at this intersection (from Sept 2019), but if what I’m seeing is how it is now, I’m pretty sure you were correct in being in the right-most lane, and that the drivers harassing you were in the wrong. I believe the right-most lane is a mixing lane that is a right turn lane for cars and a general purpose lane for bikes (meaning you can go straight or turn right on a bike). There’s even a sign for that lane on the traffic signal saying right turn only “except bus & bicycles.” Car drivers aren’t obligated to turn right on red so it seems they need to learn more patience.

stephan
Guest
stephan

You might be right, Aaron, but this is not the best way to minimize conflict and unpleasant encounters for people on bikes. A green box in the center lane and a clearly signed transition over to that lane would be much better.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

I agree that it’s not the best way to minimize conflict. I guess my ideal solution would be more the Dutch solution of a protected intersection with separate traffic signal phases for cars and bikes. I would find the transition from right to center lane to be somewhat awkward myself, but I recognize that my preference is not the same as others’.

EEE
Guest
EEE

This is definitely a problem area. Almost got waxed more than once by drivers merging into the right turn lane without checking their blindspot. During morning commute I’d guess about 70% of the cars go right, 25% take the left lane to go south on MLK, and 5% take the middle lane. I usually sit on the white paint between the middle and right lanes, even though bikes are clearly allowed to sit in the right lane (same at Multnomah & 9th). Angry drivers abound, even if they’re wrong, and with the current Portland impunity zeitgeist it seems preferable to just avoid.

soren
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soren

Given that most Salmon Neighborhood Greenway users are headed to or from the Hawthorne Bridge, it’s unfortunate that PBOT chose to create a new facility at GRAND and MLK instead of fixing the dangerous mess at 12th/11th (also within the central east side).

Social Engineer
Guest
Social Engineer

Since Buckman is even less economically diverse than downtown Portland, this project should be cancelled with the funding diverted to the myriad of delayed East Portland bikeway projects instead. Otherwise this project could promote gentrification and displacement in a part of Portland with rapidly increasing housing prices.

Soren
Guest
Soren

I vehemently agree but unfortunately this and other projects are a priority for PBOT and the vast majority of bike advocates so I reserve the agree to criticize PBOT’s deprioritization of utilitarian cycling in this fait accompli.