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).
It was such a bad decision to not put bike lanes on Hawthorne, I am still not over it. It would have been the perfect showcase for how a city can fight climate change and encourage different modes of transportation. Instead, plenty of money was spent for the exclusive benefit of cars and nothing has changed. What a shame, what a missed opportunity.
The erasure of pedestrian improvements in your comment speaks volumes. As someone who currently cannot bike, scoot, or drive due to a health condition, I greatly appreciate the improvements PBOT implemented for people walking.
As someone who unapologetically hates SUVs/personal-trucks/(cars), I also enjoy the huge traffic jams caused by the removal of two motorvehicle lanes on Hawthorne. However, I also loathe the fact that line 14 is now stuck in this traffic jam. If I had known that line 14 would have been this severely affected I would have opposed this project (or a version that installed bike lanes).
I mean ostensibly the reason that we could not have bike lanes was because it would create congestion for the bus, which, I kind of assumed that adding bike lanes would ameliorate traffic more than they were assuming with their design choices. I personally would have preferred Hawthorne to become bus/bike only.
This would have been my preferred option but the addition of bus/bike rose lanes would have been an OK solution too.
Bus only runs 2 to four times an hour at best, and that lane is empty the rest of the time, what a waste of resources. A shared bike-bus lane on lower Hawthorne would have been way better than the cluster pluck that’s now been built. I’ve avoided that route for years and I can almost guarantee that what’s there now hasn’t encouraged a single motorist to take up cycling instead of driving back and forth to d/t.
The majority of Portlanders do not have the privilege of “working from home” and still commute to their jobs:
Line 14 at Hawthorne and Chavez
Unfortunately, there was overt hostility to this proposal from prominent proponents of a sub-par 4-5 foot “protected” bike lane that winded back and forth around bulbouts.
OK, so four busses per hour, during peak hours, my bad. That still leaves the lane empty 90% of the time for cyclists in between busses (56/60*100).
Get over it, one of the city’s best stalling tactics on the transportation front is manipulating pedestrian and bicycle advocates into fighting between themselves over left overs once the MV users are taken care of.
Divide and Conquer.
Bigger picture analogy – just like the economic interests of low-income whites and much of the BIPOC community, cyclists and pedestrians have much more in common than not, and keeping these groups with similar aspirations and goals separated is one of the major objectives of the ruling class, b/c unity would threaten their grip on political and economic power.
Yeah, agreed. These would be great projects if they were coming along with protected bike lanes on Hawthorne.
Recently biked from west Portland to Hawthorne for the first time since I moved back to Portland from Eugene, and it’s super jarring how the bike lanes on Hawthorne just stop. Hawthorne is a terrible stroad for a good portion of its length and it should be fixed, especially considering it’s a major East side destination street.
There was a time not that long ago (circa 1990s) when SE Hawthorne was recommended and viewed as a/the primary/premier E-W cycling route in SE Portland, but that never came to fruition b/c of opposition from the local business community, the PBOT bureaucracy and a spineless city council.
Most activists today either weren’t around back then or are too young to remember; but there are still some long-haulers in the DOTs that continue to resist, and a few bicycle advocates that still remember.
I’m not over it either, Bob.
“Instead, plenty of money was spent for the exclusive benefit of cars and nothing has changed.”
Hawthorne works much better for me when I’m walking and crossing the street now. When it was reviewed here shortly after the changes, many people said the same thing.
Soren was right with his, “The erasure of pedestrian improvements in your comment speaks volumes.” Your comment criticizes the project for not responding to the needs of a whole group of users while showing blindness to a whole group of users.
Cyclists: “I would like to be able to safely ride my bike to any business on Hawthorne without having to mix with traffic on Hawthorne itself”
PBOT: “here are these new greenways that don’t help with that problem at all”
Haha yes! It’s like pbot is living out the the “we have bike lanes at home” meme in real life
people: we want bike lanes
pbot: we have bike lanes at home
the bike lanes at home: *image of a faded sharrow*
Good news for 34th. It’s narrow. Has lots of cars. There are no longer any noticeable signs or markings that it’s a bike route. Would love to see a vehicle diverter between BOTH Bemont/Hawthorne and Division/Hawthorne!
Are the new greenways really just between Harrison and Salmon?! What a joke! 23rd is so short it seems pretty useless- it is already a street nobody uses so they are going to designate it a greenway. 34th should connect tp Washington or Stark and eventually Ankeny. 45th could be a straight shot from Powell Blvd to Glisan- why are luring people on to this street only to cut-off protections north and south. These stubby segments have so little use, I don’t think they are worth much. Portland needs safe, simple direct and connected bike routes to build a network, not a scattered bunch of disconnected tiny segments! Very disappointed
I agree. These sections of greenway are so short as to be meaningless. On 34th, for example, they should really implement project 70073.0 of the TSP, which would create a greenway that (mostly) follows 34th between Burnside and SE Gladstone. I get that doing so would cost a lot more than the $80,000 listed above, but now would have been a good time to identify what needed to happen to make that greenway a reality in the medium term, while implementing the easiest parts in the short term.
It is sad that there is no good connection between 34th and Creston Kenilworth for cyclists. If you’re feeling lucky you can cross a typically scary intersection on 33th and Powell, then go up a pretty significant incline, or go through 36th (clashing with cars turning onto the coffee drive-thru) then navigate through the strip mall’s parking lot to 35th, if you somehow know about this short cut.
Someone at PBOT must get a bonus for every frickin’ speed bump installed. How about using methods to slow/reduce traffic on greenways that don’t negatively affect bikers?
I’m with you on that. I didn’t mind speed humps too much when I rode by myself. Now that I am riding with my kids on a long tail electric cargo bike I really dislike speed humps. They are way more jarring on a heavily loaded bike.
I wish PBOT would just stick diverters every 10 blocks on greenways and remove the humps.
The big problem with that is that it works, and the last thing PBOT wants to due is reduce car traffic on greenways
Most new speed bumps going in on bike routes have cut-outs for bikes. Go ride Clinton St sometime between 21st and 26th to experience them.
The cut outs in most of the city are 100% used by cars to blow through the speed bumps, they suck and throw your bike wheel to the side if you don’t hit it straight on.
Not really trike friendly, either. Hit them the wrong way, and you feel like you might tip over.
I haven’t found this to be true — I’ve tried to hit the bumps on Clinton wrong (going up and down the hill, at various speeds) on a number of occasions, and find them to be very forgiving to mishits. Not at all like the speed bumps on NE 28th that are an unmitigated disaster.
I don’t like the cut outs, a lot of them are narrow enough that I worry about pedal strike if I ride through them and ones like those on 28th cause oncoming drivers to suddenly swerve across the center of the road to try and line up with the gaps, I nearly got hit head on.
You should go ride NE 92nd north of Halsey, near Rocky Butte. Everyone just uses the cutouts so they can go 40mph on a “bike route” that goes right by an elementary school.
That section is so stressful!
Sorry to disappoint, but the cutouts are not for cyclists; ostensibly they are for emergency vehicles, but everyone ends up using them for their own purposes. OTOH if there have to be speed bumps/tables, I’d rather that they have the cutouts than not.
But in the end I’m with Stinky, I’d rather speed bumps weren’t being used at all, AFAIAC it’s another admission of failure by the so-called ‘traffic engineers’ in the DOTs and the licensing DMVs as well. The car and truck manufacturers shouldn’t get a pass either, their products have been dangerous and their advertising has been toxic for many, many years.
Seriously more hard diverters and less speed bumps please. Speed bumps do a great job of slowing down sports cars but I see SUV drivers hitting them at speed on our street all the time and they do very little to slow them down. The solution is fewer cars on greenways.
Everything PBOT presented last night was business as usual. Their solutions are speed bumps and sharrows. And, *maybe* car traffic diverters. They proposed adding a few “new” Greenways on streets that *already* meet their criteria…How bold!
(SE 34th Ave needs to be truly local access only for car drivers and mostly pedestrianized. Diverters ought to be placed at Belmont, Hawthorne, Lincoln and Division – at minimum.)
PBOT refuses to be visionary and holistic. Instead we’re supposed to be thankful that they might add a few speed bumps (that many people drive over at high speeds anyway); they want us to be impressed by sharrows that mean nothing to most people.
AND…none of this is going to be done for at least 1-2 years?!?
Oh, by the way, essentially ALL of this stuff is car infrastructure; ie, we need to fortify our streets because of cars and their drivers not because of bicycles and peds.
Describing neighborhood greenways as car infrastructure is really jumping the shark. There are many things to criticize about PBOT’s implementation of neighborhood greenways, including a lack of diversion and a lack of priority for vulnerable traffic, but we’d be a lot worse off without neighborhood greenways.
Fair enough, but in practice the greenways are over-engineered in all the wrong ways and cyclists using them have some of the worst pavement and topography in the city to deal with.
This is great news for my neighborhood. It already enjoys amazing bikeability and that’s one of the main reasons I stick around! I disagree with adding bike lanes to Hawthorne, it’s not necessary and never had the support of my neighbors. Felt like a rallying cause for a handful of activists and not many else. Speaking of, what happened to that fellow with all the GoFundMe money?
My home town (Europe) used to be car centric, I too was pissed at first when they started converting the entire downtown to be car free. And now, like the rest of the population, there is no way I would want to switch back. What used to be parking lots are now squares with bars and restaurants. Connections are made, just like the people on NE 7th were recently saying.
So why did they not put bike lanes instead of the center turning lane? Why not experiment at least? Specially on Hawthorne which is on most Portland postcards. I am sure that it has to be good for business.
There is some left over Kool-Aid, you should try. And I am far from being an activist, it’s just that we have to move away from driving cars so much.
lmao if I remember correctly from PBOT’s survey data it was only people in the immediate vicinity of Hawthorne that were opposed (it’s gonna be harder to find parking <clutches pearls>), and basically anyone who lived farther away (for example people like me who regularly bike to stuff on Hawthorne) all greatly preferred bike lanes.
Cool more useless faded sharrows on side streets with a multiple conflict points at almost every intersection. Greenways are just excuses for pbot to avoid building real protected bike infrastructure. Motorists speed on them, and are constantly running the stop signs that cross them. This is such a 90s way of looking at bike infrastructure. Come on Portland, get into the 21st century.
Frankly, I’m of the opinion that this is worse than doing nothing. Hawthorne needs both wider sidewalks and bike lanes – preferably a two way path on one side. Honestly, has anyone at PBOT every walked down Hawthorne on a busy day? It’s shocking how narrow the sidewalk is – I almost always am feeling like I don’t have enough room to walk.
Frankly street parking has absolutely no business being on a street like Hawthorne. The amount of benefit to business owners is pretty small, and the wasted space makes the experience worse for everyone. I know small business owners typically explode at the thought of no street parking outside their places, does anyone know of anyone doing work to change that? Just really frustrating – Hawthorne could instantly become 10x better if PBOT removed parking spots on just one side of the road.
It drives me crazy that greenways are used as justification for not providing safe lanes/paths on main ones. They are complementary ideas, not competing ones. If I take greenways only to shop or dine on Hawthorne – I miss what makes it great! The sense of place, and the hustle and bustle of people is really what makes a main street great. PBOT, and by extension the city, will never be able to cultivate truly good places while being so enthralled with street parking on them.
yeah my preferred configuration for Hawthorne would be widened sidewalks/bike lanes at the same level as the sidewalks that took up the full parking lane as well as the width of the center lane, and bus only traffic lanes.
Hawthorne originally had much wider sidewalks, when they took the streetcar tracks out in the 40s or 50s, the sidewalks were cut back to add the extra MV lanes.
Is it possible they’re right? I wouldn’t presume to know a business and its customers better than the shopkeeper themselves.
That’s pretty naive of you. The Hawthorne businesses have been Karens about bike lanes on Hawthorne ever since time immemorial (i.e. since at least the 1990s). Most motorists are just passing through and the businesses lose pedestrians’ and cyclists’ patronage b/c Hawthorne is such an unpleasant environment for them.
Sure, and it’s possible they’re wrong too. Businesses aren’t usually in the business of asking how people got the store today.
Most people probably heavily overestimate car traffic in driving foot traffic into a store. The fact is, a “main street” like Hawthorne attracts a mostly local crowd – which means a much stronger representation of pedestrians and cyclists than you may expect.
When was the last time you were driving down a road, saw a place to stop and stopped in on a whim? I’ve driven quite a lot (too much really), and I can only think of one time that I’ve done that (it was a breakfast diner in Sellwood). But I do that all the time while walking, and somewhat often while biking. Window shopping is much more enjoyable by foot.
There’s no real reason to think that a small business owner would have any better idea than anyone else, unless they are actively seeking out that information. Which I dunno, I don’t think many people are doing that frankly.
Rarely (I almost never drive in the city, but I wouldn’t anyway, just as I don’t on my bike). However, I do believe people (including me) make shopping decisions based in part on the “hassle factor”, and a lack of parking or auto access is seen by a large segment of our society as a major hassle.
Small business owners talk to their customers, and probably know what’s up with them. And yes, it’s possible they’re wrong, but more likely that they have a better idea about their situation than you do.
Could we get a link to PBOT’s presentation?
Yes! I added it to the story and here it is Mark.
“Once this expanded network is fully established, all destinations along Hawthorne will be within roughly a three-block walk from a designated bikeway…” I’d like to see PBOT try to defend a plan that makes car drivers have to park three blocks away from their destination.
plus they are three very long blocks, esp to the south.
I was looking at the business names on the maps to orient myself, and noticed they include Trinket–a restaurant that went out of business around the start of the pandemic, as far as I can recall. How long have they been working on these maps?
I’m happy other parts of the city get nice things but it hardly seems equitable. If I was the supreme leader of Portland I would start with the worst sections of streets and intersections and improve them to the level of the safest intersections and streets in our city. I would continue to do this forever. Not half-assed either. The islands they put on Division east of 205 are terrible. Where are the bioswales? Where are the trees? Portland knows we are losing green canopy and it is disproportionately happening east of 205. Anyway, I’d build sidewalks and crosswalks and paved streets in the worst area and then do it to the next worst area and keep going until one day we are making improvements to the area that was the best when this mission began and then I’d improve that area too so it is as safe as anywhere in the world and then just keep going and going, implementing every new thing we’ve learned along the way.
LOL, the motorists on Division east of 205 just hop the barrier and park in the so-called protected bike lane. Not that I actually ever see any cyclists using it, or the facility on outer Glisan or a bunch of other worthless infrastructure the city is building for cyclists that no one would ever use.
Pacing the greenways at 0.5 miles apart instead of 1.0 mile is welcome. All neighborhood greenways should be held to the “egg test:” Are you able to bike home at a moderate pace from the grocery store without any eggs breaking in the carton when strapped to the bike? Every speed bump decreases the chances of passing this test. The city notes, “one notable benefit of increased bicycling is that money that residents save by bicycling can be spent in the local economy.”
Or you could purchase tofu and avoid the animal cruelty and carbon emissions embedded in that carton of eggs.
Diverting cyclists away from Hawthorne will do nothing to make Hawthorne safer for anyone not in a car, and in fact will likely make it worse. I routinely see drivers on Hawthorne turning right without signaling, going well above the 20 mph speed limit, and simply not paying attention to anything beyond their windshield.
Yesterday, in fact, I was heading east on Hawthorne when I rolled past an SUV in fairly heavy traffic and glanced over. The driver was steering with one hand and looking at her phone, held in the other. A moment later she was gripping her phone with both hands, I guess to type something.
This was about 2 blocks west of the crossing where a driver struck a pedestrian in back in August.
So what? Those north south streets are already plenty safe for cyclists with no further improvements. It does nothing to make cyclists safer on Hawthorne Blvd. itself. More smoke and mirrors from PBOT.
What the hell is going on in Portland? Y’all ok? The recent projects coming out of here look embarrassing.
Feels like a whole lot of folks are using this news as an excuse to fight yesterday’s war (bike lanes on Hawthorne).
Regardless of whether you think that there should be bike lanes on Hawthorne, reducing car traffic through diverters on 34th is clearly sorely needed. There are a ton of bikes on the street, it’s narrow and there is a ton of car traffic there. Ideally, they make 34th a comfortable greenway south of Powell all the way to Stark.
It’s a good thing that PBOT is dealing with 34th, regardless of the mistakes they may (or may not) have made in the past. You may not like their past decisions, but it doesn’t mean that we should begrudge them when they get something right.