City will meet with neighbors about planned removal of tree and traffic circle

Looking south at Tillamook from 7th Ave.
Flyer posted at NE 7th and Tillamook. (Photo: Aaron P.)

An unexpected meeting has been scheduled to take place tomorrow (Wednesday, September 14th) between the City of Portland and people who live around NE Tillamook and 7th Avenue.

At issue is the tree and traffic circle in the middle of offset intersection that was scheduled to be removed as part of the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. As we reported earlier this month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation planned to remove the traffic circle to improve visibility and overall safety of the intersection. It’s part of a construction project that began September 5th and is expected to last until mid-October.

But as word of the project spread in the past few weeks, some neighbors say they’re concerned that taking out the traffic circle might actually make the street less safe. A tipster (thanks Aaron P!) sent us a flyer today about the meeting that reads,

“You know how fast cars drive with a traffic circle here? Imagine a future with nothing but some paint on the road at this intersection. Please join us tomorrow evening to share your concerns with the city while we still have a chance to make a difference.”

PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer confirmed tomorrow’s meeting in a phone call today and said it’s being held in response to concerns raised by some folks in the neighborhood around the removal of the traffic circle that emerged after they were notified of the planned construction (keep in mind PBOT has made it public they plan to remove this circle since early 2020). “We realize that sometimes our plans can seem counterintuitive,” Schafer said. “Like, removing a traffic circle doesn’t seem like a safety improvement; but our engineers feel it’s causing more safety concerns then it’s helping.”

Schafer, who wanted to make it clear the neighbors are “pro-biking and excited about the project in general”, said traffic circles are outdated and PBOT engineers have new tools in their toolbox to manage traffic. At the meeting, Schafer said neighbors will hear more about why PBOT is confident in their plans and why the intersection will be safer without the traffic circle.

PBOT is also likely to hear angst about removing a mature tree when shade and clean air are of such value. Others have voiced concerns about whether or not the new plan will do enough to calm car and truck traffic.

“We’re looking forward to hearing from the community,” she added.

It would be helpful if PBOT had made their final design and striping plan public. But so far they haven’t shared it. Schafer says it should be on the project website “shortly.” (UPDATE: See design below!)

If you’d like to attend the meeting, be at NE Tillamook and 7th at 6:00 pm tomorrow (Wednesday, 9/14) night.


Here’s the PBOT design plan for the intersection just posted on the project website on 9/13 at 6:00 pm (or so):

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Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam Balto
15 days ago

Close the street to cars and save the tree!!

Andrew N
Andrew N
14 days ago
Reply to  Sam Balto

Indeed. This plan seems seriously over-engineered, adding unnecessary complexity and expense to what could be a simple project involving some thoughtfully-placed diverters. All so that cars will now basically have a straight shot through the intersection, unencumbered by anything but confusingly-placed crosswalks to slow them down.

cc_rider
cc_rider
14 days ago
Reply to  Andrew N

what could be a simple project involving some thoughtfully-placed diverters.

PBOT would spend a million dollars over making driving slightly harder on a greenway. They are adamant that motorist should use greenways to bypass congested streets like MLK.

DC
13 days ago
Reply to  Andrew N

Well said Andrew, I think “over-engineered” is exactly right.

To me that schematic reads as “priority 1: keep cars moving fast; priority 2: cyclist safety”

Watts
Watts
15 days ago

We realize that sometimes our plans can seem counterintuitive

…said PBOT about much of the bike infrastructure they’ve deployed over the past decade.

maxD
maxD
15 days ago

I hope they can preserve the tree! You can bet that the new tools in the toolbelt do not not create shade, reduce heat island effect or intercept stormwater! PBOT has landscape architects with on-call service contracts- it would be a quick and simple affair to prepare a plant to raise the canopy, remove the weeds, and install a low-growing, drought tolerant groundcover to improve sight lines. traffic compliance could be achieved with a central curb our extended planted south 50′-100′

Brandon
Brandon
15 days ago

“traffic circles are outdated and PBOT engineers have new tools in their toolbox to manage traffic.”

I’m wondering what “new tools” they’re talking about? I think the only tool I’ve seen implemented in Portland that works is diverters.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
14 days ago
Reply to  Brandon

According to NACTO, “the City of Portland has found such circles to be less effective than frequently spaced speed humps, and many people on bicycles complain that motorists overtake them when approaching the circles, creating a hazardous condition.”

Dunno why we can’t have both, especially when our urban tree canopy is already under threat.

See https://nacto.org/publication/urban-bikeway-design-guide/bicycle-boulevards/speed-management/

FDUP
FDUP
14 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

‘Frequently spaced speed humps’ are another greenway killer for me. I hate riding over them and avoid the greenways with them. In this area, I would now much rather ride on Thompson or Hancock than Tillamook.

axoplasm
15 days ago

Geez I remember when the city installed those traffic circles (mid- to late-90s), they were ridiculous little saplings & I thought “what‘s the point?” I thought then (still think) that the whole concept around street plantings is to complicate sight lines and make the street situation ambiguous so drivers slow down

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
14 days ago
Reply to  axoplasm

Yes. That’s the point and it’s good, actually.

James Roe
James Roe
15 days ago

Hard for me to swallow that they want to remove this tree to improve visibility when there is a camp on 14th and pine in a traffic circle that blocks visibility from all angles, 2 blocks from Buckman Elementary, on a safe school route.

Matt
Matt
14 days ago

Raise the crosswalks on either side of Tillamook or cars will fly up 7th as a way to avoid MLK at rush hour.

squareman
squareman
14 days ago

So they want cyclists going north on 7th Ave or west on Tillamook to do a Copenhagen left to westbound Tillamook, but they expect them to do a vehicular left going the opposite way. More inconsistencies from PBOT.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
14 days ago

7th has been a lot more pleasant with the construction barricades closing the street, make the closure permanent?

Mark smith
Mark smith
14 days ago

Spend thousands to accomplish what a tree can do for free. It’s almost as if the city isn’t bogged down with service calls and also has a real need for projects that will save actual lives…

Randy
Randy
14 days ago

Removing the traffic circle is guaranteed to increase car speeds on 7th (most people barrel through at 40 mph + with the circle). And how can PBOT rely on speed bumps to slow people down when the existing ones don’t work?

This is a neighborhood street. There should be a permanent diverter at 7th and Tillamook to prevent the dangerous speeds and traffic volume that already exist, and to make 7th safe for the hundreds of bikers that use it every day. MLK is one block away and is just as fast for drivers. Cars don’t need 7th street too.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
14 days ago
Reply to  Randy

City speed information shows speeds south of Thompson (one block north) at pretty much the speed limit of 25 in 2018:

https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ce8d1f5053141f1bc0f5bd7905351e6.

Where did you come up with the 40 mph figure?

Randy
Randy
14 days ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

Thanks for the response Steve.

I actually got a radar detector to measure speeds on 7th because I was shocked at what people were doing on this residential road (the neighborhoods along 7th have a lot of families with young kids, and this is obviously this a popular bike route). Not everyone speeds– but many, many people do, especially with the .

The measurement on the (very useful) link you sent was taken at a location that is right after the speed bump in between Tillamook and Thompson. This slows people temporarily, but then they accelerate into the next bump (about a half block north from Thompson)– and repeat that process all the way to Fremont and beyond. Drivers coming from Broadway and using 7th as an alternative to MLK NB have a stop sign one block north on Shulyer, then accelerate 2 1/2 long blocks until they hit the roundabout currently on 7th and Tillamook. In the leadup to the roundabout is where you get 40+ mph. It seems obvious that speeding will be worse if we remove the roundabout.

The link also shows daily volume in 2018 of up to 2,800 — that is not an appropriate amount of traffic for a residential road lined with single-family homes. And it’s probably gotten worse since then.

Chris I
Chris I
14 days ago

That new design is horrible. It will increase average vehicle speeds and make it harder to navigate on a bike. Lose-lose.

steve scarich
steve scarich
14 days ago

I can only assume that I missed this, because it is so obvious: why not put speed humps on the approaches to the circle? They can be temporary rubber bumps as an experiment to slow traffic down. Just looking at the photo of this beautiful avenue is all one needs to know about preserving it as is.

Dwk
Dwk
14 days ago

I know people get upset here if anyone suggests that the commissioner over PBOT is not great at her job and people complain that she gets blamed for stuff she doesn’t control but Joann Hardesty is over PBOT and does a bad job and should not be re-elected.
This is her wheelhouse and PBOT does stupid stuff like this project on a daily basis.
There are a hundred places in the city more dangerous for bikes than this one.

cc_rider
cc_rider
14 days ago
Reply to  Dwk

Ah yes, I’m sure her ***deleted by moderator*** opponent would be all about making walking and biking safer. Conservatives are after all, known for their hatred of the fossil fuel industry and their support for multi-modal cities.

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

From a cycling perspective, Hardesty has set the bar pretty low. And she voted to support the Rose Quarter expansion, so at worst, Gonzales will continue her policies.

Other than random insults, do you have any actual reason to think Gonzales would be worse for active transportation than Hardesty has been?

cc_rider
cc_rider
14 days ago
Reply to  Watts

nd she voted to support the Rose Quarter expansion, so at worst, Gonzales will continue her policies.

“At the worst trump will be in office for four years and not get anything done and not voting for Clinton will send a message”

Rene isn’t running to be in charge of PBOT to start. He’s running for a seat. The mayor decides who runs PBOT.

That being said, he could easily make PBOT even worse by scrapping what meager pedestrian and bike safety plans they do have, and directing them to focus on projects to speed up traffic through the city. The idea that he could be no worse than Hardesty is utter nonsense

Other than random insults, do you have any actual reason to think Gonzales would be worse for active transportation than Hardesty has been?

I’m not sure what ‘random insults’ I wrote? Rene is a right-winger. Right-winger historically and consistently oppose bicycling (see the fascists support of the bike tax), oppose road safety (see the fascists opposition to speed and red light cameras), and culturally value massive, polluting vehicles that we build ever bigger and more dangerous roads to support (see literally every republican talking about transportation)

Does Rene have a anything on how he views transportation? His page looks like generic conservative blue lives matter stuff. And he’s pro-COVID (YUCK!)

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Rene isn’t running to be in charge of PBOT to start. He’s running for a seat. The mayor decides who runs PBOT.

Yes, of course. But the council as a whole, including Hardesty, voted to support the RQ expansion. Gonzales, if elected, may, worst case, choose to continue Hardesty’s support, or he may break from her and vote against it.

As I noted above, Hardesty hasn’t been particularly good for bicycling. I agree Gonzales could be worse. There’s just no evidence he would be. And there’s some evidence he will be good — one key pillar of his campaign is getting people off the street, which I interpret to include bike paths. That will, perhaps coincidentally, improve cycling conditions in a way that is important to many Bike Portland readers.

I get it, you don’t like Gonzales. You attempt to smear him with insults, guilt by association, and baseless claims about his political views. You make an oblique comparison to Trump. You list lots of bad things he could do, but no reason to think he would do any of them.

I don’t think Hardesty has been good for Portland, and I’m not shy about saying why, but I’ve also said a lot of positive things about her publicly, and will probably say more. I don’t insult her, even in private.

It’s much more interesting engaging with people who are able to move beyond raw partisanship and can find more insightful things to say, even about people they don’t like. Name calling is uncivil and just plain boring.

Dwk
Dwk
14 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

If I called Hardesty anything like that I would probably get banned.
I don’t know much about Rene, but I would not call him names.
So if this a good project or just bashing the Hispanic guy?

Dwk
Dwk
14 days ago
Reply to  Dwk

The name cc rider called a minority running for office should not have been deleted.
cc rider should own it.

cc_rider
cc_rider
14 days ago
Reply to  Dwk

I doubt you’re going to publish my comment here. By leaving this up, you’re poisoning the well by making it seem like I wrote something that was actually offensive or based on Rene’s race.

Dwk thinks Hardesty is the literal antichrist because she has the audacity to be a Black women who speaks her mind and has power. We both know that Dwk wasn’t actually offended or concerned about my comment and we both know calling someone the lite version of ‘stupid’ isn’t problematic.

cc_rider
cc_rider
14 days ago

Only PBOT would make a street faster for motorists as part of a ‘greenway’ project. Such a joke of an agency

Watts
Watts
14 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Well, they’re also the ones that nixed bike lanes on Hawthorne citing equity and climate change.

As they said, sometimes their plans seem counterintuitive.

FDUP
FDUP
14 days ago

I for one will not be using those bike lanes or making a Copenhagen left at that intersection, I will be riding in the roadway taking the lane. This is just one more nail in the coffin of the Tillamook greenway.

joan
14 days ago

There was a traffic circle further up 7th, at NE Morris, that was removed several years ago, and I believe they installed bioswales at the same time. I’m guessing PBOT has data on speeds and such from before and after. It would be interesting to know in any case.

joan
14 days ago
Reply to  joan

Found it. In 2012, as part of building the Klickitat Greenway, PBOT and BES removed a traffic island from NE 7th at Morris.

Another big change will be at the Northeast Seventh Avenue and Morris Street intersection, where the island will be removed and a safer crossing for walkers and cyclists will be installed, Kyle said.

Charlie
14 days ago

So supposing I’d like to make a right turn from 7th onto Tillamook, I could take the lane to enjoy the proper arc, creating a bike-bike right hook sort of situation to account for or I’m scrubbing nearly all my speed to make an abrupt right with no radius. And I concur with the comments about the Copenhagen style left turn. The markings falsely imply that a cyclist should wait if there’s a car behind them when making a left. Such ambiguity is positively maddening. The only sensible option is to aggressively take the lane and signal left turn intentions. This exacerbates the “cyclists are selfish a##holes” because now I’m not even using the shiny expensive infrastructure built just for us. I think PBOT does a lot of things right but this really should be revisited.

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
13 days ago

I can’t help but feel it will be worse with the circle removed.

Adam Pieniazek
12 days ago

We need to implement a ban on speed bumps across the whole city. They’re way overused, don’t slow down most cars but do slow down cyclists and create a hazard. Leave the tree.