Video: Bike Thru North Greeley Avenue

Posted by on September 20th, 2021 at 11:46 am

The North Greeley Avenue bikeway project is just a few tiny tweaks away from being complete. Since our last visit back in May, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has finished the new protected path/bike lane on N Going Court to Going Street and has polished the main diagonal at Going that crosses riders from the west to east side of the street.

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I went out a few days ago to get a closer look at the key elements of this project. In the ‘Bike Thru’ video above you’ll hear my live narration and get a better sense of how the designs work. You’ll hear about the wonderful and wide green section through the Adidas campus, the unfortunate bump that is now marked with a big sign, the highs-and-lows of the bike signals/crossings, and more.

To refresh your memory, this project was done in two parts: There’s the southern section from Going Street to just north of Interstate Avenue, where PBOT built a two-way bike lane protected from other lanes by a concrete wall (made out of jersey barriers); and the northern section (paid for by sports apparel company Adidas) which goes from the Going St viaduct to N Willamette.

As I say in the video, I think this is a huge step forward for our bike network. This connects the “true north” Portland to the inner eastside with a protected facility. It isn’t perfect by any stretch, but it’s a huge improvement over the unprotected lanes we used to have.

Have you ridden it yet? I’d love to hear how it’s working for you. I’m especially curious what folks think about the crossings — both the main one and the one to the Going Ct ramp.

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

It feels negligent to not comment on the fact that the bollard to exclude cars has been missing since 2 days after it was installed, and the “protected” path between Going and Interstate is a HEAVILY used driveway. The southern 1/3 is less than 10 feet wide leaving zero space for people walking or biking when there is a car/truck/van driving on it.

That said, this is a timely piece for me. I just tried it out on Friday on my way home from work. I was heading north up Greeley then east on Going. I did exactly what you suspected riders would do. I got to the signal and did not see the sign instructing bikes to use the sidewalk (I think it is installed too far back. Since the whole project uses green paint for bike route wayfinding, it did not occur to me to use the pedestrian crosswalk or the narrow, 5-wide sidewalk. I did end up in no-mans-land and had to rejoin the bike route on the ramp down to Going. I disagree with Jonathan’s characterization of that ramp as a slow, quiet road. Friday I had a UPS truck blow by going scary fast.

I am disappointed in the way the video ends: JM finds a serious design deficiency which basically undermines the value of the whole system and literally says “that’s not ideal, its not a perfect design, but what are you going to do?” PBOT completely failed to make an important connection! This is an abject failure. If you stop on your bike at the crosswalk, the sign telling you to use the crosswalk is BEHIND YOU! The design of this brand new intersection is to use a crosswalk and skinny little sidewalk! Why not place the sign in the right location? Why not continue the protected lane up to Going? Why not demolish the wall of the sidewalk and add a new wall providing 12′ or more of space for people walking and biking across Going?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Aside from the launching pad he noted up by the bus stop, the new path worked really well going southbound this morning. The light detected me and changed right as I got to the awkward crossing at Going, so I was able to hold speed. I then encountered a septic truck completely blocking that path at the camp. I had to dismount and walk through the mud to get around it. We shouldn’t be allowing camps like this if they are going to use a narrow MUP as a service road. It is dangerous and really inconvenient at times.

Mark H Linehan
Guest
Mark H Linehan

As you can see in the video, the painted sharrow on northbound Greely at Going points straight ahead rather than bending to the right. Also, the crosswalk has white pedestrian stripes, not green cross-bike stripes. With these indications, it makes more sense for bicyclists to go straight rather than cross via the crosswalk and enter the sidewalk.

Ed
Guest
Ed

Definitely a step in the right direction. The portion between Willamette and Going is especially well done. You can almost imagine it connecting into a redone Willamette Blvd with a protected bike lane the entire length of the bluff to St. Johns. On the other end, the glaring weak spot in a real network connection is Interstate. The 5 ft (maybe?) bike lanes connecting into the Broadway Bridge would not be a place I’d recommend riding with your 10-year-old. Without buying right of way, the Interstate solution would be to close one of the existing auto lanes to cars and make it just for bikes/peds.

JG
Guest
JG

You’re right about Interstate. I actually like it fairly well for commuting myself, but I’ve actively avoided it with our daughter in tow in our Burley. What is the better family-friendly alternative connection to the city center, the Rodney St. Greenway?

maxD
Guest
maxD

skidmore to 7th is pretty good and will be the preferred route once the blumenaur bridge is installed.

drs
Guest
drs

Definitely some good design elements here. But it really seems to me that PBOT has created a nifty driveway for the Hazelnut Grove camp. If people are driving on the bike path, it is not a safe option. I used to regularly bike on Greeley (I just completely avoided the pathway in front of the camp. I know everyone hates unprotected bike lanes, but I don’t see the current situation as an upgrade). Now I’d rather use any other available option. I take intestate. I really don’t like it, with all the intersections and extra half mile of distance. But that’s what I do. Greeley is dead to me, unless I’m in a car.

Matti
Guest
Matti

As you pointed out, elements at the east side of the Going overpass are super awkward and underwealming especially compared to the design north of the Addidas campus. Hazardous in my opinion.

Mick O
Subscriber
Mick O

Prior to this summer, I’ve never felt I could handle the northbound hill, but one of the Pedalpalooza rides I was on took that way, so I gave it a shot and I was able to get on up. I was really proud of myself! I have now gone up a few times, and the only thing for me is that I have trouble triggering the sensor right before the diagonal jog back to the west side of Greeley. I see the spraypaint (at 12:07 of the video) where it looks like they want to put a sensor in, but nothing has been cut into the pavement? You seemed to trigger it by being 10feet back of where that paint suggests the sensor will go, so maybe that is my problem.

The other thing I will note: that car you noticed backing out at the beginning can’t fit in that driveway, so the people who use that car usually park out over the sidewalk which is annoying. Peds may have to dart into the bike lane to get around that parked car on occasion, so keep an eye out there.

In the article, you said, “The North Greeley Avenue bikeway project is just a few tiny tweaks away from being complete.” Does *PBOT* consider this complete or have you heard they are going to do anything more?

1kw
Guest
1kw

Having used this route going south on my commute for 6 months, it is nice to finally have it “complete”. My 2 main concerns are as it gets darker, the North auto traffic -opposite the jersey barriers -will blind you when pedalling south, and the green dots prior to that really don’t agree with my eyes, they are pretty distracting at speed. The bike signal sensor always worked great though.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

+1 on the optical effect of the adidas paint. Add in the lack of a center line to delineate up/down traffic, and it feels unpleasant and unnecessary.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

And it perfectly conceals the raised “launching pad” by the bus stop at Adidas. Someone is going to have a horrible crash here at some point.

Ted G
Guest
Ted G

On a path like this cyclists are more likely to be “blinded” by ridiculously-bright bike lights that are pointed straight ahead rather than down at the ground.

JG
Guest
JG

I had no idea the sensor for heading northbound across Greeley was so far back. I admit, I usually run the light in both directions, though I’m usually commuting in fairly low traffic. I almost never get the signal to change as I’m rolling through.

The duration of the green for bike crossing seen in your video also is concerning–you’re barely across before the light turns back. I’d feel very nervous crossing there with a slower rider heading uphill.

Jason
Guest
Jason

What strikes me about this route is just how random the visual aids are. Green balls here, white stripes there. Where’s the coherence? This project perfectly embodies the the haphazard deployment of bike infrastructure by PBOT. This is just a jumbled mess.

Cameron
Guest
Cameron

I actually think the “launch pad” bump at the bus stop would be okay if it wasn’t for the “green balls” paint job: something about that pattern masks the contours of the road, making it hard to read the change in depth. It definitely strobes at higher speeds! We should be slowing down through mixed pedestrian zones anyway, so I don’t mind the concept of a slight speed bump through the bus stop zones — this one’s just hard to see the first few times through!

Nick
Guest
Nick

I was going to say the same thing. I find it slightly disorienting every time, especially at downhill speed. I appreciate creativity and experimentation, but this strobing ball pattern seems to be a failed experiment that should be changed.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

There’s the southern section from Going Street to just north of Interstate Avenue, where PBOT built a two-way bike lane protected from other lanes by a concrete wall (made out of jersey barriers);

I know that you tend to protect and hype projects you personally like, but this isn’t a bike lane. It’s a very narrow multi-use path for some of it and a plain ol narrow sidewalk for some of it.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I wonder if all the barely marked loop detectors got the bike signal to change so readily rather than the pedestrian beg button? Maybe the bicycle loop detectors are designed to be extra-sensitive to change the light even before you get there?

LWR
Guest
LWR

This is my daily commute and the difference between the previous bike path that, going south, had to cross over a live lane of “45 mph” traffic coming up from Swan Island – TWICE – is practically indescribable. I haven’t been as lucky as you were in the video with the signals, usually having to wait considerably longer. It’s as good a spot as any for a quick breather heading up hill at least.

I definitely worry about someone hitting the launch pad for the first time at speed, it definitely caught me by surprise. The bike signals and crossing are great, but southbound drivers run the red at speed with alarming frequency, and northbound drivers turning down onto Going heading East ignore the no turn on red and also take that corner at speed often. Both are about as anxiety inducing as coming off the west end of the Broadway bridge and continuing down on to Broadway where people run the right turn only red.

mcl pedaler
Subscriber
mcl pedaler

A comment on signs (like the one directing cyclists to use the sidewalk):
It seems that traffic signs are placed to be viewed by people sitting in cars (could include recumbent riders and riders of bikes with upright bars). Many, if not most people, ride in a forward position, limiting somewhat the upper field of vision and therefore the usefulness of signs.
Has ODOT ever considered this with respect to bicycle riders?

mark
Guest
mark

With the car traffic on the bike path, which is totally unacceptable, the city continues to cede important bike transportation infrastructure to people experiencing houselessness. How many of our off-street paths are effectively useless for critical bike infrastructure because people are living on them?

Steven Smith
Guest
Steven Smith

I’ve ridden this path about 100 times–going back to when it was first under construction. While I’ve seen plenty of cars parked near Hazelnut Grove, last week was the first time I saw one moving. I started to slow down as the person was backing out of where they were parked and intended to stop to allow the car to clear out. Instead, the person driving stopped and waved me through. After a couple of friendly waves–all good.

Otherwise, the path is plenty wide (wider than Springwater? wider than Eastbank Esplanade? wider than Morrison Bridge?). Seems like it’ll work fine for an awfully long time. I sometimes get the sense that some of the people writing about it either have never ridden it or are just determined to eke as much darkness out of light as possible.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I am not trying to eke out any darkness. I have ridden it couple of dozen times and have encountered cars on the path at least 6 times, more if you count the cars driving down the MUP along Going. Of those times, I have had turn around 3 times because the route was completly blocked or it seemed unsafe (dark, rainy, head-on encounter with van). So why does this matter? PBOT misrepresented this from the start, and PBOT could have made something good and effective with little extra effort. This should be a route that is safe and comfortable for people running or walking to share with bikes, it should be car-free, it should be an all-ages and all-abilities facility. It is a failure when judged by those standards. The fact that handful of experienced commuters, apparently men, think it is fine or better, or good enough is irrelevant. PBOT has a responsiblity to create safe routes for various users. This project considered the desires of freight haulers and people driving and made improvements for them. PBOT gave lip service to people commuting by bikes. PBOT ignored vulnerable road users: people experiencing a disability, kids, people walking, etc. And they ignored them through poor design, ignoring well-known problems, refusing to do maintenance, and by poor design that supports well-documented speeding on the driving portion. This path may work for you, but it does not serve Portland well at all. Portland will never see increases in bike ridership if to can’t be bothered to build a bike facility without gaps/pinchpoints and dangerous elements in a an area where it has the space and the money.

And this is narrower than the springwater, but that should not be held up as a gold standard. The springwater routinely has conflicts between bikes and peds, bikes and dog walkers, fast bikes and slow bikes, etc. It is too narrow, and PP&R has acknowledged that. Look at the latest designs for the Willamette Greenway trail on the South Waterfront to for a path that accommodates people biking and walking.