First Look: New bike lanes on North Whitaker Road through Hayden Meadows

street with bike lanes and cars.
View of new bike lanes on N Whitaker from Columbia Slough path. (Photos: Reader Ryan T.)

map
Location of new bike lanes in blue. (Graphic: BikePortland)

The City of Portland has installed new bike lanes on North Whitaker Road that connect the Columbia Slough Path to Delta Park.

The 0.4 mile section of road was a glaring gap that prevented safe bicycle access between the path and the Hayden Meadows shopping center just south of Delta Park. The park is a key destination because it provides access to off-street paths that lead to Jantzen Beach shopping center, the I-5 Bridge, and Vancouver, Washington.

The new bike lanes begin at Schmeer Road and continue up to the Delta Park/I-5 freeway entrance. Previously this section of Whitaker had no bike lanes, narrow shoulders, and a curb lane that was often used as long-term parking.

Here’s how it used to look:


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And here’s what it looks like now:

Southbound Whitaker at Hayden Meadows Dr.

In our initial report on this project 13 months ago, we shared how the Portland Bureau of Transportation initially approached this as a bus service improvement. They wanted to speed up TriMet’s Line 6 from Hayden Meadows Drive northbound to I-5, but then expanded the scope to include bikeways.

Reader Ryan T. sent us photos of the project (above). As you can see, the roadway has gone from no dedicated cycling space to about an equal distribution of space between general purpose lanes and bike-only lanes. The bike lanes have a large buffer and are separated from other lanes by plastic wands. This should not only create a lower stress cycling environment, the narrowing of the driving space should improve behavior of car drivers.

I haven’t seen this facility yet myself yet. The bike lane sections look good, but there are two sections I plan to take a closer look at: the short northbound section from Hayden Meadows Lane (at Shari’s restaurant) to I-5 where PBOT has created a shared bus/bike lane; and the connection between Delta Park and the southbound bike lane. That crossing near the gas station and the freeway/park entrance is very stressful. I’ll report back once I’ve seen and used it myself.

For now, here’s what Ryan said about it:

“It felt really nice turning onto Whitaker (which has always had several conflict areas in a short stretch), and feeling relatively low stress. Coming off the Slough trail connection at Schmeer and also southbound out of Delta Park (crossing the median gap) can still be sort of a frog-hop, but for now I’m grateful for these nice protected road upgrades.”

Have you ridden this yet? How does it feel to you?

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David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago

I note in one of your photos a lot of weeds already covering the bike lane where there is no sidewalk. Who is responsible for mowing the grass, PBOT or ODOT?

Boyd
Boyd
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Looks like the lots that abut the right of way in that area are owned by prologis, a real estate company that specializes in large warehouse sites for Amazon, etc. Vegetation management is likely their responsibility, technically, at least. But the only way to practically expect those weeds to get managed is if PBOT does it.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  Boyd

It was a dumb question on my part – my bad. I forgot that in Oregon it’s up to property owners to mow the grass, trim trees, and build or fix the sidewalk, and presumably the municipality to bug the owners to do so. Here in NC it’s the responsibility of either the city or in rural areas, the state DOT who owns all the rural roads to do it, and not the adjacent property owner.

AndyK
AndyK
2 months ago

It was fun to work on this with the City. They have so many creative, passionate planners and designers.

Allan Rudwick
2 months ago

happened upon this while going to play frisbee at delta park the other day. A welcome improvement. Doesn’t change the cyclist’s behavior much at all but it seems to give drivers much more predictability & awareness of what to expect around them

Champs
Champs
2 months ago

Happened onto it four days ago.

I didn’t have a problem with the old situation, but I suppose it’s nice for getting a family from North Portland to Delta Park. I would have liked to say the same for a family on Hayden Island but unfortunately there was an abandoned car blocking the path.

These are the investments we actually need to improve mode share. Kids don’t commute to downtown offices and courthouses, they go to their neighborhood schools, parks, and libraries. All ages infrastructure is local, not urban.

stasia
2 months ago

I’ve been watching it develop, since it’s on my commute to work:) I wrote about it here before it had been fully finished: https://www.carfreerambles.org/2022/05/new-bike-infrastructure-day/

I like it a lot. I also want to see what (if anything) happens with the Delta Park/southbound and the Slough path/Schmeer Rd connections Ryan mentioned, but it’s way better than it used to be!

Tim
Tim
2 months ago

I ride this every day going to work in Vancouver. It’s a very nice addition, though I didn’t have any issues before, but it was an obvious gap that I’m glad is fixed. Heading south there is a less-than-ideal drain to go around, but other than that it’s pretty good. Coming out of Delta Park by the gas station hasn’t changed at all, though traffic is more of one lane than two so it is maybe slightly easier to navigate, but certainly not improved in any real way. If anyone wants to lend me a weed whacker I’d be happy to trim the grass.

Megan
Megan
2 months ago

This is a great improvement! How about adding lights through the Delta Park bike way? In the winter months when commuting to/from Vancouver for work, it is very dark through this section of the main bikeway to/from Vancouver.

CDD
CDD
2 months ago

Sorry, a few white sticks in a former travel lane will not protect any bikes. They should have allowed for parking in that lane, then good old concrete jersey barriers with 1 ft gap every 3 barriers to access the parked cars, and then a happy and safe protected bike lane! All protected bike lanes should have concrete barriers!

Boyd
Boyd
2 months ago
Reply to  CDD

Concrete>plastic wands>paint>nothing

Fred
Fred
2 months ago

I haven’t ridden this revamped section yet, but I well remember riding to Vancouver on the former route and jockeying with the cars in the right lane. It was a bit hairy but not too terrible, thanks to the slower car and truck speeds. Looking forward to trying out the new configuration.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

T
his is a big improvement given the increase in traffic due to the new Amazon warehouse and the new road that was built. I’m sure the local businesses will welcome the elimination of the unauthorized, long-term, parking spots.

EP
EP
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

WOW, I am out of the loop… What happened to the racetrack?! Wow! Glad to see all those sad stables bulldozed, wish they’d built something better than a warehouse, like a transit-oriented bikeable community..

Damon
Damon
2 months ago

I appreciate the new facility, but the grass is becoming a hazard and the large pothole that nearly stretches the entire width of the bike lane at one of the sewer grates had the potential to hurt someone.