One of Portland’s oldest neighborhood greenway routes recently got an important upgrade.
Northeast Tillamook has been a key east-west piece of Portland’s bike network for over two decades. It was first set-aside as a “bike boulevard” (former name of neighborhood greenways) and given bike-specific treatments in 1999 and was meant to be a low-stress option to the nearby commercial corridor on NE Broadway. Back then we had only about 10 miles of total greenways citywide (today we have about 130 miles).
While most of you probably think of Tillamook between its most popular section of North Williams to the Hollywood neighborhood, it actually runs a total of 4.6 miles all the way east to Jason Lee Elementary school at 92nd. Tillamook is designated Safe Route to School and a key route for getting to Gateway Green Bike Park (which is just on the other side of I-205). Unfortunately there had always been this four-block gap between 78th and 82nd where bike riders were simply dropped into a shared lane with car drivers. This was disconcerting to say the least, especially because it’s at major intersections like 82nd where vulnerable road users need more protection, not less.
So imagine my pleasure when reader Trask C. shared photos of newly installed bike lanes and bike boxes at this location!
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has spent about $20,000 to grind out the old sharrows, add speed bumps, and stripe new bike lanes that connect to the existing ones at 78th. Just as the bike lanes approach 82nd they are colored green and there is also a big bike box at the intersection so bike users can pull ahead of car drivers during red lights and avoid dreaded right-hooks. And right turns on red signals are now prohibited by drivers in both directions.
This gap has been on PBOT’s radar for a while. Their 82nd Avenue Plan (2019) included a recommendation for “bike lane gap completion on intersecting streets” that stated:
Pursue strategies to complete gaps in the bike lane network on street intersecting with 82nd Ave. This includes, but is not limited to SE Woodstock approaching 82nd Ave. Add bikeway network wayfinding signage for routes parallel and connecting across 82nd Ave. Improve Neighborhood Greenway routes paralleling 82nd Ave on both sides and connecting to 82nd Ave.
As you can see in Trask’s photos, these bike lanes are not ideal. The westbound ones look especially narrow (see image above) due to overgrown vegetation and it’s clear PBOT pushed the limit of this relatively narrow street to include dedicated space for car and bike users. This is one of the trade-offs between a shared-street (with sharrow markings) design and a bike lane design. The former gives you more room in a sense, but you share it with drivers. The latter gives you less room, but it is your legally dedicated space that no drivers are allowed into.
Have you ridden this? If so, how do you think it compares with the previous design?
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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