Closer Look: Alternating one-way for drivers on NE Hancock (Video)

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.

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mperham
1 month ago

I’m frustrated because I feel like PBOT continues to build bespoke solutions for every street to maximally preserve car and parking space rather than using a standard playbook for predictable block redesign. It makes riding a bike more stressful because you’re constantly trying to determine where you should be riding. Bike lanes appear, disappear, switch sides, have protection, have no protection, …

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  mperham

totally! They should have just fixed Tillamook!

Lillian
Lillian
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

They’d have to move the entirety of a school if they were going to “fix tillamook” due to jog at NE 33rd.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Lillian

They could have kept the greenway on US Grant and made the safer to maintain the safe route to school and create a more direct route. If they added signals at 46th/Sandy they could have fairly direct greenway on TIllamook from Flint to 92nd!

Autosmoke
Autosmoke
1 month ago
Reply to  Lillian

Of the pointless assanine projects and non-problems around town that PBOT has taken upon itself to solve, this is possibly the Most Assanine. And that’s saying something. It forces drivers who frequent the area and want to get to 40th to go to Tillamook (WHICH IS AN ACTUAL PROBLEM AREA!!!) and make it more jammed up. OR drive through the McDonald’s parking lot to get to parking at the nearby apartments or Hollywood Library.
You make this point in your article. You only watched this not so busy area for 90 minutes and already witnessed a driver incorrectly turning into a now-illegal land. As a biker, that makes it more dangerous for both the driver and any biker who assumes someone wont do that!
As a biker also who frequents that exact area in a Regular basis, I can tell you the real problems are on Tillamook and 40th and Tillamook and 43rd, which would be Simple fixes with just a couple 4 way Stop Sign intersections.
Instead they addressed a problem that didn’t exist and only made the problems that DO EXIST worse! I’ve had multiple problems with ignorant drivers on Tillamook and there have been bikers and pedestrians hit at Both Intersections I just mentioned. A woman on a moped was recently KILLED in a traffic accident on 40th and Tillamook. I heard the crash and witnessed the ambulance driving her away. But NO, they had to “fix” Hancock….. Maybe the paid Geniuses at PBOT could actually talk with ppl that actually live in the area before wasting $$$ that would be better spent on Tillamook or NoPo or Division or Powell. Dingbats!!

soren
soren
1 month ago

Let’s just waste time and money re-creating all of our bike infrastructure because SUV/truck/(car) trips are too high on existing bike infrastructure.

What does this neglect say about this city’s priorities? And what does the lack of comment from so-called bike advocates about this abandonment of existing infrastructure say about the status of transportation politics in this SUV-centric city.

John D.
John D.
1 month ago

I this a minor complaint in my part, but why didn’t they remove the car parking on the side with the bike only travel lane? By keeping it, it encourages people to cross the bike lane, and it requires someone to commit a traffic violation to park their car anyways. Either they drive the wrong way in the bike lane, and park facing the wrong direction on the street, or they make a u turn and and park the “correct” direction against the curb.

Replace it with bike only parking or something.

Our roads should clearly communicate the intended use in clear and obvious ways (including speed, mode, and priority). By including car parking on the bike only side of the road PBOT is sending mixed signals to drivers about what’s allowed.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  John D.

They did this on W Flanders, too- it is not safe and strongly undermines the intended goal of creating a safe route for people biking

Psmith
Psmith
1 month ago
Reply to  John D.

It’s not a traffic violation. The parking signs are flipped so you park the same direction on each side. It works fine.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Psmith

I agree that ist is not a traffic violation, but it sucks that the design intention is for cars to pull into and use a dedicated bike space to access parking. Greenways are supposed to be the lowest stress, safest networks, but they are becoming streets where bikes are allowed, but cars are still prioritized. The west end of Flanders is a joke- it is so full of cars in the evening there is barely room to ride down the street. PBOT is too afraid of diversion. Check out how Vancouver BC designs their Greenways to see a safety-first design.

Matt Meskill
Matt Meskill
1 month ago
Reply to  Psmith

Except it creates a scenario where drivers are consistently crossing double solid yellow lines.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago

I live in the area and I can’t think of a single piece of Bike infrastructure as worthless as this is.. It’s the kind of dumb paint all over the street stuff that the general public thinks is a huge waste of money and just serves to deter spending on things that are important.
This tiny little stretch of does nothing for bike use in the city.
If I lived in a neighborhood with no sidewalks I would be livid.

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

I live in the area, too, and I was happy to see this change.

Dwk
Dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Remy

I just got back from riding through Hollywood. If you are coming from the east on Hancock bike route, it takes you across Sandy at Whole Foods (which is the safest crossing on that stretch and puts you right back on Tillimook… you literally have to jog back over a couple blocks to ride this 2 block fiasco.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwk

Hop onto the sidewalk and go through the plaza. It puts you right onto Hancock. If you are continuing to Lloyd area or downtown, it is more direct and much faster than Tillamook.

Lillian
Lillian
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwk

Hollywood residents, particularly those biking and walking to the two schools on NE 33rd, often are coming from the ~42nd and Sandy area where the most density is. Because the Tillamook bike boulevard breaks up at NE 33rd for 2 blocks, this is a more direct shot for a lot of us that already have to cut up to tillamook, and then back down to US grant anyway.

This piece of infrastructure is very handy for trips going to the central east side from the Hollywood core business district because you can cross Broadway at NE 26th HAWK signal! I use it every day. I was already riding down hancock for my trips to the lloyd district because of the unnecessary jogs at NE 33rd.

Anyway, the break up of Hancock bike lane has everything to do with the fact that everything Sandy touches turns into a mess, and very little to do with this improvement.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Lillian

Nice job apologizing for PBOT’s unwillingness to address the fuster-cluck that is Grant Place. A blatant violation of their own Neighborhood Greenway policy:

Short, but significant, sections of older neighborhood greenways that should serve as the foundation of the bikeway system are not meeting PBOT’s operating speed and volume goals for automobiles and should be improved.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/542747

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwk

OK.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

If I lived in a neighborhood with no sidewalks I would be livid.

The poors should realize that this is not a zero-sum game and that they can easily wait a few more decades for basic human infrastructure in glorious YIMBY-progressive Portland.

EP
EP
1 month ago

After riding this stretch of Hancock, I’d say it’s ok, and less stressful than the existing Tillamook conditions. Obviously it would’ve been much better if they did a similar treatment on Tillamook. The grinding down of the road surface east of 33rd definitely helped.

My gripe is what do you do when you’re headed eastbound and get to 42nd? I went straight and rode through the plaza by Reo’s. But, that puts you on a tiny angled corner at the five-way NE 43rd and Sandy intersection, where it’s hard to be seen/not be in the way of peds/ get into the lane so you can cross/turn onto the eastern part of Hancock. The other alternative is to go north on 42nd, up to Tillamook, and around the block to 43rd, but that is out of the way and makes this whole route pointless. Maybe someday they’ll redesign the sandy & 43rd intersection and make this better?

bbcc
bbcc
1 month ago
Reply to  EP

Yup, in the PBOT project page linked in the article there’s a rendering showing some sort of two-way track to the plaza and new crosswalk across Sandy.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

When I was on the Sullivan’s Gulch NA board, we were pushing for bikeway improvements on Hancock to connect better with Hollywood, as part of a redevelopment project on Broadway at 32nd. It’s nice to see that 20 years later they finally did it. It looks OK, not great, but OK, very 2003ish.

Christopher of Portland
Christopher of Portland
1 month ago

Will anyone be able to figure out what’s going on here when it’s dark and raining? How will people who don’t thoroughly study every piece of new infrastructure fare?

mark
mark
1 month ago

But where will they put the bike route if drivers decide they want Hancock too? We’ve already ceded Tillamook.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  mark

More diverters?

I do think it is outrageous that they abandoned a “safe route to school” for all of the HS students trying to bike to Grant on Tillamook. Hancock does nothing for them.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

They also ceded the most direct route for people seeking major amenities: the library, gross outlet, trader joe’s, whole paycheck, and the farmer’s market. I will never use Hancock despite the newly smooth pavement.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Grocery Outlet, TJ’s, the Farmer’s Market, and Whole Foods are all on or south of Hancock, so I’m not sure what you are on about.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Hancock dead ends into a useless plaza with absolutely no way to cross Sandy (other than to awkwardly meander back to the wrong side of the 43rd and Sandy intersection). I’ve been riding to these amenities multiple times a week for 20+ years and it’s annoying as *** to be gaslit about route choice.

Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

Jonathan: Not sure the use of concrete planters for traffic management is “radical”…as this used to be the ‘norm’ in Portland going back before the 2000s (90s? 80s? or 70s?) as these devices can still (?) be seen in some of the older traffic management zones. “the Portland Bureau of Transportation is actually doing some relatively radical things […huge concrete planters,…]”

I would say that what has been radical…is the long periods by PBoT (&PDoT) between adding effective traffic management for many neighborhoods historically.

Lillian
Lillian
1 month ago

I bike this every day, and it has VASTLY improved the school drop off situation – there’s usually a buildup over 9+ blocks from school dropoffs at both Grant HS and Beverly Cleary School. Previously, it’d been a bit of a mess in every direction, but this has eliminated what was a consistently dangerous situation on NE Hancock from confused new high school drivers coming off of Sandy or distracted parents with kids hopping in and out of the cars while waiting in a long queue on NE Hancock. While I like this treatment, I do think it has less impact on traffic safety than companion road-grooming on bumpy NE Hancock, new curb cuts, and addition of HAWK signals in both directions at NE 33rd & NE Hancock next to Beverly Cleary. Most of the work was finished on this stretch right before school got out for the year, so we’ll really see it tested in the fall, but I’m still really happy to see something addressed. I’m not positive if all these improvements were part of Safe Routes to School engineering, but as a hollywood resident, I am so grateful for the change as it has improved my daily commute.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Lillian

the problem you are describing is not a bike route problem, it is a soccer mom problem.

Lillian
Lillian
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

Kids going to school isn’t going to evaporate, though? Calling something a “soccer mom” problem doesn’t make it any less of a traffic safety issue. Bike routes have to interact with school traffic, and kids have to get to school by some method. Now there’s a safer bike intersection for kids biking to Beverly Cleary with HAWK signal, and curb cuts at 33rd for families walking to school there, and kids coming off the bus. Not to mention they flipped the stop signs on Hancok by the school to the priority of bike traffic.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

OMG, BikePortland threads and comments have gotten almost as bad as NextDoor!

I always cherished Hancock as the low-fi alt bike route through the neighborhood, now PBOT has ruined it also!

NO THANKS!

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

Is it really that much different? I can go just as fast (at traffic speed) on Hancock now as I did before they added a few concrete circles. Why can’t you?

Lillian
Lillian
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yea, now there’s a HAWK signal at 33rd, much better than having to hop up onto the sidewalk with no curb cut to hit the walk signal.

foobike
foobike
1 month ago

Sure, it’s a shame we’ve ceded Tillamook for the greenway. Maybe there were some feasible options to fix it that I’m not aware of, but I have a hard time imagining a good fix to that stretch that wouldn’t also make the side streets in the surrounding neighborhood a lot more unsafe. Not apologizing for PBOT and I do share the same frustrations voiced here that our greenways so readily get sacrificed to compensate for failing design decisions.

That said…

Those of us comfortable taking the lane safely out of the door zone can continue to use Tillamook for this stretch if we like.

And I’ll say it’s been pretty nice to have this lower stress Hancock option, especially for certain times of the day when the traffic and activity make biking through Tillamook /US Grant dangerous and inconvenient (try squeezing your way to the front of the car queue approaching that intersection going westbound during school start and end times).

I tend to use Hancock almost all the time now, as it works well enough and wait times crossing 33rd there are much shorter.

Not to mention that this Hancock segment allows me to bypass that left-right business onto 32nd then US Grant heading eastbound towards the 33rd crossing. Most late afternoons the left on 32nd can be a little bothersome with all the massive SUVs/vans parked or pulling in/pulling out/double-parked for after-school activities at the Beverly Cleary fields.

+1000 for suggestions to improve the Sandy crossing at Whole Foods, that is a collision waiting to happen, especially the southbound crossing.

One concern with Hancock east of 33rd – I’m starting to see more and more cars use this section, presumably to avoid the snarls at 33rd & Tillamook/US Grant. But of course.