First Look: There’s a new neighborhood greenway on NW Pettygrove!

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.

Overview of the NW Pettygrove Neighborhood Greenway project (Source: PBOT)

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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

16 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Brandon
Brandon
11 days ago

I love it. Coming from SE, I usually take Naito to 9th and turn right there on Overton when heading up to Forest Park. Overton is a pretty low traffic street but I’ll see what it’s like to ride up Pettygrove now.

D2
D2
11 days ago

Well I did always hate the intersection of 13th and Overton, just the worst sight lines ever conceived. I still hope they make that a 4 way stop, just out of caution.

I’m intrigued to try the Pettygrove greenway. Still searching for that ideal NW east west connection that doesn’t have 10+ stops to get from Naito to ~24th.

EP
EP
11 days ago

This is interesting as I used to ride that route daily. Coming down off the Broadway Bridge along Lovejoy was bad enough, but then it was a gauntlet along 9th from Lovejoy to Overton. Even after turning onto Overton, there were still cars trying to pass you, and of course you’d catch them at the stop signs, until they removed one at 11th. At first glance this seems to need a lot more to let drivers on 9th know they can’t turn onto Overton. As great as that yellow paint is, it could use a big yellow concrete planter at a minimum. What’s the grey rectangle with red borders supposed to be in the PBOT “rendering” of this plan? I see a lot of “I always used to go this way” drivers going the wrong way through that intersection, with mixed results.

paikiala
paikiala
4 days ago
Reply to  EP

It’s a test install, per SOP. It’s what PBOT said they would do. Overton is an Emergency Response Route, so a fire truck has to be able to go west. The rendering is a concept median a fire truck could straddle.

maxD
maxD
11 days ago

Wasn’t Overton one of the few ways for cyclists to connect to Naito from the west? This kind of reminds me of Flanders- a wide mix of bike treatments, not much bike priority at intersections, super weak at each end

Fourknees
Fourknees
9 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Agree with you on Flanders. Love the 405 crossing, but For my commute I prefer Everett coming east from 23rd until 18th.
Quicker, smoother pavement…

Social Engineer
Social Engineer
8 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Of course, without the crossing at Naito to connect to the Steel Bridge path, Flanders isn’t actually “complete” yet. After many years, we’re still left waiting for UPRR to get their act together.

maxD
maxD
8 days ago

Its not just the lack of connection to Naito. There are too many cars using it in Old Town. There are too many stop signs in the Pearl. Crossing 21st and 23rd is not great, but the single worst part is trying to cross Westover to connect to 24th Place. PBOT failed to exclude enough cars along the entire route- it is still being used as a driving route instead of local access only, and they failed to make safe crossings, and they failed to make direct connections to other bike infrastructure. THe Flanders Bridge would be nice if there was a safe, direct route (with reasonable pavement). Same with 7th- nice bridge, but no route to get there. I rode part of Pettygrove and it seems like a downgrade form Overton- less direct. Greenways should be simple, but PBOT only always prioritizes car traffic.

Mark McClure
11 days ago

Thanks, Taylor. As always, I appreciate your thorough coverage. I’m a proponent of PBOT’s “in motion” projects. My perspective is now as a senior pedestrian. When I review the projects, I look for safe sight lines, intersections, stairs, lightning, and so forth.

On 6/2/2019, to better understand PBOT’s proposed NWIM projects, I walked the NW neighborhood greenways and chronicled the good and bad from a senior’s perspective. I enjoyed my walk with a purpose, for a change. BPOT even sent me a NWIM fridge magnet 🙂 Here are the snaps that I took: album 1, album 2.

ivan
ivan
10 days ago

These look like good improvements. But re: the second photo (Overton at 9th-10th): Why would they put those plastic candlesticks in the MIDDLE of that painted-off area instead of at the edges?

As it stands, it leaves a perfectly car-sized gap to drive through without even needing to knock down a barrier.

Obviously a concrete planter would be better, but even allowing for the sake of argument that plastic wands are protection, they need to make it physically impossible for a car to drive through there. This is really just painted lines, with some wands thrown in to no useful purpose.

paikiala
paikiala
4 days ago
Reply to  ivan

It’s a test install, per SOP. It’s what PBOT said they would do. Overton is an Emergency Response Route, so a fire truck has to be able to go west.

Fred
Fred
10 days ago

I was on this very greenway this very morning, and while I – like others – appreciate that PBOT is doing *something*, I can’t help thinking how fragmented these treatments are, for both drivers and cyclists. There is less and less consistency in how everyone is supposed to behave out there, and it’s super-frustrating for cars to have the grid broken up so you’re just not sure which streets you can drive down anymore.

I would much prefer that PBOT *remove motor-vehicle traffic entirely* from some greenways, but they just won’t do it. The car is king, and cars MUST be allowed on every street, no matter what. So we get these half measures that dissatisfy everyone.

Artur
Artur
10 days ago
Reply to  Fred

It’s probably really difficult for PBOT to cut properties off from car access completely and so they have to let cars in at least one way. I’m still waiting for some of those euro style residents’ cars only zones, but that feels like a big culture shock.

paikiala
paikiala
4 days ago
Reply to  Artur

It’s, in fact, illegal to eliminate all access to the public rights of way. https://www.millernash.com/industry-news/right-of-access-to-public-roads-a-primer

Ernest Fitzgerald
Ernest Fitzgerald
10 days ago

I appreciate the many photos. Although I ride this area frequently, I can’t always keep the street names straight.

hamiramani
9 days ago

A few points:
 

  1. “plastic-protected bike lanes”: Thank you, Taylor, for this apt description of PBOT’s bike infrastructure (really, it’s car infrastructure). Plastic wands are not really protection but PBOT’s messaging machine is good at this game. So, I’m glad that some folks are willing to speak out about this reality rather than parroting PBOT’s talking points.
  2. I remain convinced that one of PBOT’s most effective installations are alternating contraflow bikeways. I wish they would implement this infra on all Greenways.
  3. What does it say about how ineffective this city has been in reducing car trips when they have a hard time decreasing the number of cars in one of the densest parts of the city, the Pearl/Slabtown? There’s simply too much deference to car culture within PBOT and city government in general. The changes required to break the dependence on cars *will* happen one way or another; sadly, the city will pay the price for not having heeded the calls of advocates and Nature.