The Portland Bureau of Transportation disappointed a lot of people with their decision to not add bike lanes to Southeast Hawthorne Blvd last year. But if there was a silver lining, it was that they also promised to make the streets around Hawthorne better for bicycling.
At Tuesday night’s meeting of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee, a city planner shared initial plans to make good on that promise.
One of the key arguments for putting bike lanes on Hawthorne through the popular commercial district was to give everyone — not just car drivers — easy access to all the shops and restaurants. Since PBOT wasn’t willing to take that step, improving the network of neighborhood greenways nearby was the next best thing. At last night’s meeting PBOT Planner Zef Wagner said they’ve set aside $80,000 in funding to tackle this in two separate ways: improve existing greenways, and add a few new ones.
When it comes to existing greenways, PBOT will add diversion and traffic calming features (usually speed bumps) until drivers are going 20 mph or less and there are fewer than 1,000 average car trips a day.
There are already several well-used neighborhood greenways that serve Hawthorne. Salmon/Taylor (to the north) and Lincoln/Harrison (to the south) are old standbys that run parallel to it. Wagner said driving speeds on Salmon/Taylor remain higher than they prefer, so more speed bumps will be coming soon. And for Lincoln/Harrison, PBOT is currently evaluating some recent additions to decrease driving volumes and speeds.
The current north-south greenway streets of 29th and 52nd already meet speed and volume guidelines, so those won’t get any new investment. But PBOT will add speed bumps to slow drivers down on the 41st Ave greenway.
The big news from the meeting is that PBOT will establish three new north-south greenways: on SE 23rd, 34th and 45th (see above).
Wagner shared traffic data showing that 23rd already meets the guidelines and fills a gap in bike-friendly streets between SE 16th and 29th. “This is a pretty big gap and there’s a lot there’s a cluster of commercial activity happening at 23rd Ave,” he said. “So we thought that would be a good connection between Harrison and Salmon.” Since 23rd already meets their speed and volume thresholds, and since PBOT striped a new crosswalk there as part of the Pave & Paint project, all it takes to make this new greenway official will be sharrow pavement markings and wayfinding signs.
34th is already a very popular bike route and PBOT wants to fortify it as an official greenway. Wagner said at over 2,000 cars per day it’s got too much car traffic, so they’ll do some diversion to bring that down. They haven’t decided if the diverters will be placed on Hawthorne or on 34th.
To make SE 45th a greenway, PBOT says it should only take the addition of speed bumps.
With these traffic calming and diversion features going in, Wagner said PBOT will study how traffic flows change in the neighborhood in order to limit impacts of cut-through drivers on nearby streets.
In a report PBOT released last year ahead of there Hawthorne decision, they hinted at the goal of these neighborhood greenway upgrades. “Once this expanded network is fully established, all destinations along Hawthorne will be within roughly a three-block walk from a designated bikeway,” it read.
If all goes according to plan, these projects will be in place in late 2023 or early 2024. Stay tuned for opportunities to share feedback as things develop. View PBOT’s presentation here (PDF).