I sometimes think the reason some of the haters we often hear from seem to be growing louder these days is because the Portland Bureau of Transportation is actually doing some relatively radical things. Our streets, they are a changin’! Huge concrete planters in the middle of the lanes, carfree plazas everywhere, 15 mph and “shared street” zones, carfree bridges — it’s not as much as we need to do, but it’s a lot. And if you’re afraid of change, wedded to the driving-centric status quo, or just a hater, I can see how it would be unsettling.
A good example of this is what PBOT is doing on Northeast Hancock through the Hollywood District. We touched on these changes back in June, but it’s worth taking a closer look.
These changes on Hancock are part of a larger project where PBOT wants to update and improve the Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway. Since the city has elected to avoid the traffic snarls of Tillamook at 33rd near Grant High School and re-route the greenway one block south to Hancock, they owe it to us to make Hancock feel safe and welcoming to bicycle riders. And so far they’ve done a pretty good job at that.
Check out the photos below of the new alternating one-ways between Cesar Chavez and 41st…
For these two blocks PBOT has re-striped the roadway to create an alternating one-way for car drivers. Bicycle riders can go both ways and the facility for cycling changes from an unprotected buffered bike lane in the contraflow direction, to a shared-lane when/if drivers are present. They’ve reinforced signage and striping with two concrete barrels to prevent drivers from entering the bike lanes. There’s also a lane for car parking on both sides.
I was there for about a half-hour on a recent weekday afternoon and it seemed to work pretty well. While one driver cluelessly entered the block in the wrong (now illegal) direction, overall it was pretty chill. A steady flow of bike riders came through and the markings felt intuitive and predictable. This treatment has become more comment from PBOT in recent years and is being used a lot in northwest (Johnson and Flanders come to mind). Should it be used more?
Check out the photos and video for a closer look. And please chime in with your impressions if you’ve biked or driven here.