Over the weekend I was able to finally take a closer look at one of Portland’s most impressive displays of traffic calming on a neighborhood greenway: The reconfigured intersection of Southeast Lincoln-Harrison and 30th.
Lincoln-Harrison is a popular and vital east-west link in the bike network. It connects people to Mt. Tabor Park and is just 1,200 feet south of the bustling Hawthorne Blvd commercial district. In late summer of 2017 the Portland Bureau of Transportation embarked on an effort to further enhance it as a people-centered street. At the top of their list for things to address was the wide expanse of pavement where the greenway crosses 30th at an off-set angle.
The intersection was too wide for bike riders, walkers, runners, families with strollers, people with mobility devices, and other vulnerable users to safely navigate. Its off-set configuration and wide turning radii also made it stressful to drive on. The design PBOT came up with took back much of the space away from drivers, limited how and where they could travel, added protected lanes for bike riders, plopped concrete planters to encourage safer driving, and effectively sharpen the turns to decrease car speeds.
For context, below is a before photo looking southeast from Harrison and the PBOT plan drawing showing how they cut it up:
A before/after report shared by PBOT in September 2019 showed that the enhancement was, “a significant success” when it came to lowering the volume of drivers on the greenway.
If Sunday’s traffic was a good representation, I’d use a stronger word than “significant”. As you can see in the above video and photos, the intersection was alive with people while I was there and far more of them were outside of cars rather than in them. Lots of walkers strolled casually through the crosswalks without skipping a beat in their conversations. At one point a group of teens came through and skateboarded in the newly-carfree sections. Speaking of which, a recent neighborhood project painted large swaths of the intersection with a fun array of colors and designs.
PBOT has a long legacy of traffic calming projects on neighborhood greenways. Watch for a story later this week on the three roundabouts they recently installed on NE 108th Avenue.