Video: Let’s Take a closer look at 122nd Avenue

Posted by on September 24th, 2021 at 10:08 am

Bad news: 122nd Avenue is a terrible, typical east Portland arterial.

Good news: PBOT has a plan to make it better!

More good news: We have a new video so you can learn more and help them out.

Last week the City took a big step forward with their 122nd Avenue Plan with the release of an online open house. This comes a few months after they released a set of draft proposals and recommendations aimed at making the street safer for all users.

The current conditions are pretty bleak:

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

You’ll recall that PBOT’s work on 122nd Avenue began over three years ago in summer of 2018. There’s already been some work done on the project, and now it appears PBOT has settled in on a tighter scope and they want to hear what the public thinks about several key proposals.

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The project goals are to improve safety, set the stage for more of a main street feel, and make it easier to bike and roll, walk, and take transit. The boundary is from Marine Drive in the north to Foster Road in the site, about 6.5 miles, which makes this a very significant project

The meat of the open house are proposed new treatments to intersections, crossings, and new lane configuration designs.

You can go directly to that section of the open house here and I’ve shared some of the proposal graphics above. As you’ll see, there are still a lot of decisions to make about which intersections get which types of treatments. There will also be a big discussion about whether the bike lanes should be parking-protected or buffered.

I happened to spend a day out on 122nd several weeks ago to get a better feel for existing conditions and to help us all gain a deeper understanding about what’s at stake with these proposals. Check out the video (watch it above or on YouTube) where I take you on a ride-along on the dicey bikeways, the really bad I-84 underpass section, and share my thoughts about 122nd and what PBOT must do if this project is to be a success.

How should we define success? It might look something like seeing a lot more people like this person I snapped while I was out there (unfortunately she was one of only a few people on bikes I saw the entire day):

And Here’s that open house link again.

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

I live near the I-84 and railroad bridges that go over 122nd and it’s a nightmare to try and walk down the sidewalk. I’ve given up on walking through the highly dangerous west side and take my chances walking on the east side of the street. Even there the city does a terrible job at keeping the vegetation cut back so a person might be able to walk on that sidewalk as there is only enough room for one person. I end up walking in the bike lane, and sometimes against oncoming traffic.
Ok, when the city took out lanes on 102nd I admit I was skeptical. But after a couple (?) years I don’t see any problems with 1 lane each way and a turn lane.
I think that something similar should happen to 122nd. Leave a center turn lane and 1 lane north/south for cars. The rest should be dedicated to bikes, pedestrians, and buses. I like the idea of bikes being near the curb with cars parked next to their travel lane.
Something definitely needs to be done as I gave up walking to my local grocery store because of the mess at I-84/railroad bridges. I now drive and though I do my best to stay close to the 30 mph speed limit I’m constantly passed by vehicles going much faster.

JP
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JP

Hi neighbor! I live right near there as well.

I agree that sidewalk that goes under the freeway is really rough. I avoid it whenever humanly possible. It’s too bad, because that’s really the only way to go if you want to go from Parkrose Heights or Russell to Parkrose or Luuwit View Park.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
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Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)

Thank you Jonathan, this was a great piece.

Suburban
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Suburban

Good work JM!

Stinky Pinky
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Stinky Pinky

Good video Jonathan! I remember riding that street when I lived out that way for a while. It was a nightmare! I never wanted to ride that street ever again. I liked the area overall but the car traffic and bike infrastructure were terrible IMO.

David Hampsten
Guest

Most of 122nd was built by Multnomah County to ODOT standards back in the 70s and 80s as a 6-lane arterial with gutter bike lanes and without parking – the city added parking after they annexed East Portland in the late 1980s, over 30 years ago. The city has since repaved the street numerous times and kept the bike lanes too narrow each time.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

122nd had bike lanes in the 70s? I’d love to see some pictures of that configuration. Tried a bit of googling and vintageportland but couldn’t find anything.

David Hampsten
Guest

The stroad was built in the 70s; the bike lanes were added later in the 80s.

David Hampsten
Guest

122nd runs from Marine Drive in the north to Flavel Street in the Mt. Scott area, entirely within the city of Portland. For East Portland, it is “Main Street”. Locals have long wanted to rename it – “David Douglas” is a popular nomination, for a long-dead Scottish botanist.

But 122nd is not a monolithic stroad throughout, it has quite a lot of variation on its traffic patterns, use rates of onstreet parking, land use patterns, and even on the roadway design, lending itself to a variation in neighborhood designs:
– From Foster to Flavel it’s a minor collector with one lane in reach direction with many turns and hills (and Leach Botanical Garden).
– From Powell to Foster it’s a wide stroad with little traffic through an entirely residential area, and it crosses the Springwater Trail.
– Division to Powell is a mixed commercial corridor with the greatest potential for increased density.
– from Salmon/Main to Division is another residential area with far too much car traffic at far too high speeds, a good candidate for a forced road diet and traffic diverters, with a strong need for pocket parks and other street interventions.
– San Rafael to Salmon/Main is the quintessential 122nd that everyone hates – too much traffic, mixed commercial, huge car dealerships and parking lots, lots of crashes particularly at Halsey, Glisan, Burnside, and Stark. This area needs a lot of love and creative redesign.
– San Rafael to Beech is a residential speedway leading to the I-84 ramps, another good candidate for a forced road diet.
– Beech to Shaver – Rossi Farms, an actual real live farm still producing food.
– Shaver to Sandy – Not much traffic and failed commercial in need of a road diet.
– Sandy to Marine Drive – Warehousing and light manufacturing, probably one of the few sections that actually needs its wide lanes, though traffic is relatively light.

Ed
Guest
Ed

So many needs and the video only shows a small segment of the northern part of 122nd. There are similar and different challenges as you go further south. One thing that can’t be addressed by this transportation project alone is the adjacent land use. Tough to make a place people friendly when so many of the businesses are designed around cars. As we saw with the heat dome, there is also a tremendous need to “green” this part of Portland. All of this makes me think that in order to be successful there needs to be a transformational investment like the kind that comes from a big federal grant project. Unfortunately, the project at hand appears to be a cobbling together of monies. Probably enough to make some things better, but not enough to make a fundamental change.

David Hampsten
Guest

The Mid-County Streetcar: Take two of the most horrible stroads in the city and run a streetcar loop on both of them, plus Foster & Airport Road. The point of streetcar isn’t to move people, but to promote more intensive land development, higher tax value, and slower car traffic.

PATRICK
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PATRICK

Jonathan, your closer looks are EXCELLENT reporting! Very well done!

Jim Labbe
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Jim Labbe

I use to bike the southern end of 122nd regularly (2010-2016) when the City made “improvements” that did not seem to amount to much, they barely widened the bike lanes. I hope they go big this time. Dramatically retrofitting 122nd to plant and grow large form street trees could calm traffic, protect more vulnerable users, and address air quality and one of the worst urban heat island hot spots in the City. Street trees of sufficient size along significant stretches of 122nd could be a positive public health triple whammy.

Jim Labbe
Subscriber
Jim Labbe

Gross misallocation of space” is a spot on description of 122nd as it currently exists. I am skeptical PBOT won’t do much more than make it a “slightly less gross misallocation of space.”