When you require bicycle riders to cross diagonally through an unprotected, high-speed intersection, reliable and high-tech signalization is an absolute must. That’s the challenge the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) faced with their North Greeley Ave bikeway project.
Greeley is a key connection between the central eastside/downtown and the north Portland peninsula. It has always had the space to have a physically protected bikeway, and in the last year-and-a-half or so it finally happened. PBOT finished the concrete wall-protected bikeway in the southern section in summer 2020 and Adidas (who paid their own contractors to do the work in lieu of paying development fees to PBOT) finished the northern section next to their campus headquarters a year later.
[Video: The perils of incompleteness and why the Greeley bikeway project stresses me out]
(Stills from the video – Watch it above or on YouTube)
Unfortunately both sections of protected bikeways are on opposite sides of the street. This meant PBOT had to get folks across the dangerous traffic on Greeley Ave. It has stressed me out for years about how this key element of the project would turn out — and my anxiety spiked even after it was first installed because it just never worked like it should. But now it finally does!
Watch the video to learn more about this crucial piece of bike infrastructure.
But wait, there’s more!
After I posted the video last night I heard from someone at PBOT about the technology behind the signal. They said the city engineers who did the work ride bikes themselves and were committed to making sure riders experienced little or no delay. They achieved this by using a system that combines video detection with a thermal camera. Yes, the camera sees bike riders approaching and gives that person instant priority over all other road users. The system was built by Wilsonville-based Teledyne-Flir based on similar usage in Hamburg, Germany. (You might recall our coverage of Washington County using this thermal video detection for bike riders last year.)
We’re lucky to have this level of expertise and commitment to quality bike infrastructure in Portland! Thank you PBOT Signals Division for getting this right.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Really awesome. Thanks PBOT. Now people on bikes need a separated space from Interstate to the Broadway Bridge.
Overall I like the new intersection but I think the green for bikes should be paused for a second after traffic light turns red, and a no turn on red sign mounted on post for drivers northbound, the overhead sign is barely visible when you reach the intersection by car.
^^^ This. Having the reverse of a Leading Pedestrian Interval on the signal timing seems like it would provide an extra margin of safety against the inevitable drivers trying to beat a red light. And the ‘no right on red’ LED sign, I’ve seen the successfully used elsewhere to help reduce right-hooks. Also I noted it looks like a third skip-stripe line is needed on the crossing for the outside of the northbound bicycle lane. The current alignment appears to be left over from the previous street design that was only for the southbound bicycle lane.
This is so 2019.
Drivers now intentionally run red lights. It’s not uncommmon to have 2, 3, 4 vehicles scream through a red at high speeds. I now wait ~5 seconds after a light has turned green to make sure someone is not accelerating through the red long after it has turned.
Agreed. This is part of my daily commute, and especially southbound, people running the red is frighteningly common.
It really has been working great lately. Kudos to PBOT for this one.
Yes. I am glad this is working. Just went through it a few times this week. Must echo the need for a NO TURNS ON RED sign. Seems so obvious right?
Gotta say, I had been taking advantage of the pause going uphill to catch my breath. Whew! But now… No time for love, Dr. Jones! I better HTFU! 🙂
I have video proof. The evidence disagrees with this whole article.
video 1 above, video 2 below
1) Bikes do not get the signal when cars get the same signal. See video above. The inductors do not work. PBOT is using AI and cameras instead. They are super buggy. I’ve been sending in several videos a month of all the bugs to Peter Koonce and Trung Vo. So many bugs remain.
2) The bike signal is too short for Northbound bikes. My daughter and I started up our tandem as soon as we got the green. Before we could cross the street an opposing driver headed south got the green and came head on at us moving. I don’t have that video. You don’t need it. Go to the spot. Wait for the green. Mount your bike and start to pedal up hill as if you were a weaker rider. It’s a deadly design right now.
3) The cars that approach this intersection headed west come from Going. They get a round red light and wait. When they get the green the only legal turn is a hard right turn to head North. THe signal on that green is a round green disc. It should be a green right arrow pointing north. Also the paint on the street should clearly curve showing only a right turn is allowed. I’ve seen cars make a left rather than the right. That’s a super deadly situation because they do have the green, but so does the 50mph driver headed South ….Pbot should change the green disc to a green arrow, and change the paint to show only a right turn is allowed. No video needed.
4) Drivers run a lot of red lights. See video 2. The bike green should not come on so quickly. Once it comes on it should stay green longer if a north bound bike is ever detected. There are inductors to detect bikes and those need to be working. Right now only cameras detect bikes. Video 2 shows a bus and car running the red.
5) Video 3, This is 5 minutes.
You might get bored. It clearly shows many of the remaining problems of this intersection. A lot of money was poured into this intersection. A lot of money was poured into Hawthorne and 12th. What did we get at Hawthorne. They removed cement islands for pedestrians. We now have bollards. They put in deadly signals with deadly timing. https://youtu.be/uDKR38Mby-c
6) There is a deadly design pool of water in the curve where cyclists leave Willamette headed south and enter this protected bike lane. On camera it does not look like much, but in person it’s a mess of slime every day. If there has been rain in the last 3 days there will be a pool of water and that pool will become an ice rink as soon as cold enough weather hits. The lawsuit from one wipeout is enough to redo this pond curve several times over.
So in no way has the city “dialed this in”
In addition to being the equivalent of merging across a four-lane highway, hoping that motor traffic will obey the lights, this is also an uphill crossing when going north, making it extra terrifying. If this is PBOT’s idea of making cycling attractive to the majority of Portland residents, they have a long way to go (much like bicyclists trying to use this crossing lol).