Step aside, Overton Neighborhood Greenway – there’s a new designated bike route in Portland’s Pearl and Slabtown neighborhoods. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has installed fresh paint and traffic diverters on NW Overton and Pettygrove to create a new east-west greenway connection between Naito Parkway and Wallace Park.
PBOT’s work on Pettygrove extends from NW 11th to 25th Aves, but the bulk of the changes were made east of NW 18th. Some blocks of Pettygrove now permit car traffic one-way only, which PBOT hopes will encourage drivers to take a different street and reduce car volumes on the greenway. They’ve also made dramatic changes to NW Overton between 9th and 10th by adding plastic-protected bike lanes in both directions and making it one-way only (eastbound) for car users.
The NW Pettygrove Neighborhood Greenway project is part of the Northwest in Motion plan to vastly improve cycling rates and active transportation in northwest Portland. NW Overton was the designated greenway in this area, but because it’s one of the few ways for drivers to access Naito Pkwy from the west and is a major emergency response route, PBOT decided to switch the bike route to Pettygrove.
PBOT says the Pettygrove greenway will “provide a connection to the growing Slabtown and northern extents of the Pearl District” and be a “low-stress walking and biking route” connecting major parks within the district.
I rode over Thursday to get a closer look.
The project isn’t entirely complete – there’s still work to be done on Pettygrove in between 11th and 12th – but there was still plenty to see. The two big changes that PBOT has already made to Pettygrove are between 18th and 19th and between 15th and 16th.
Pettygrove between NW 15th and 16th is now open only to eastbound auto traffic. Meanwhile, the street only allows one-way westbound auto traffic in between NW 17th and 18th. These alternating one-ways are similar to what PBOT has recently installed on NE Hancock in the Hollywood District.
The other big change is on NW Overton in between 9th and 10th (below). There’s now a traffic diverter on NW Overton at NW 9th to prevent drivers from going westbound and new bike lanes on both sides of the street. PBOT has removed all but a few auto parking spaces on this block, including all of them on the south side to make room for the bike lane.
If there’s something missing from this greenway project as it is now, it’s a sense of cohesiveness between the intersections. I think these new traffic diverters and bike lanes will do a good job of keeping car traffic off Pettygrove itself, but there is still a lot of traffic on perpendicular streets, and many intersections don’t have crosswalks.
It’s also currently not very clear to people biking west on Overton that PBOT wants them to move north to Pettygrove at NW 11th. Hopefully more signage will be implemented to make this apparent once the changes are complete.
PBOT says they’ll finish up the project before the end of this year. Another one-way only for drivers is coming to Pettygrove between 11th and 12th (see before and after below). Once the project is complete, they’ll remove the sharrows and other greenway signage from Overton.
Overall, I think these changes will be very good for reducing car traffic on the northwest Portland neighborhood greenway. On a Bike Loud PDX policy ride back in February, PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller said the transportation bureau has had a hard time decreasing car volumes on greenways in this part of town, and they were going to take more drastic measures – like significant traffic pattern changes – in order to make these streets safer for people biking, walking and rolling.
Let us know what you think of the changes, and stay tuned for an update when the project is complete.