The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has completed a project on NE Tillamook and 7th. As we’ve been reporting, the city wanted to improve safety and traffic operations at this offset intersection as part of their efforts to establish the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway which runs from the new Blumenauer Bridge to an existing greenway on NE Holman Street.
There was considerable consternation about PBOT’s plans in large part because it included the removal of a small traffic circle that had a tree planted in the middle of it. Neighbors who live around the intersection organized against the project, saying that PBOT’s plan would lead to faster driving speeds and less safety overall.
Now that the striping and other changes are done, I rolled over today for a closer look. See my photo gallery below…
PBOT installed a new protected intersection treatment on the south side that comes with large corner bulb-outs (which also make crossing safer). It directs northbound bicycle users on 7th up onto the sidewalk on the southeast corner of Tillamook and 7th, then across Tillamook in a cross-bike (green-striped crosswalk adjacent to the standard crosswalk), then onto another small sidewalk section before re-entering 7th in a painted bike lane. From there, people who want to turn left (west) onto Tillamook, can choose to “take the lane” (there’s a sharrow marking for that) or they can utilize the new, green-colored left turn box.
In addition to those bulb-outs, they’ve painted five new crosswalks on 7th — four standard white ones for people on foot and one green one to help people crossing at Tillamook.
Also of note is the new concrete planter they’ve installed at the north end of the intersection. They call it a “slow speed planter” and it’s been placed on 7th just north of where the traffic circle and tree used to be. Even though the planter is much smaller than the circle used to be, it’s placement north of the intersection gives it more relative strength because of how narrow the street is. It’s possible to drive around it faster than the circle, but I’d prefer to wait until we see traffic speed and other operational analysis before making any judgments of how it compares to the previous design.
Overall, the intersection feels less safe to me because of how large a footprint the circle and tree used to occupy. It’s a much wider expanse now. And as we all know, very few car drivers care about paint on the road — especially this time of year when all it takes is a bit of wet dirt and leaves to render that paint nearly invisible.
Another thing I took away from my time at the intersection is how PBOT installs design treatments many bike riders don’t/won’t even use. It would be interesting to put up cameras for a few weeks and do a count of how many people actually use the protected bike lanes that go up onto the curb and then back down onto the street. Same goes for the left turn box — especially since they’re in the uphill direction and folks on bikes always seek the shortest/straightest route from a-to-b. I have nothing against these type of treatments in theory. It just seems odd to install something new and then watch no one use it.
I also understand that not every piece of infrastructure is meant for every type of rider. We need diverse treatments because we have diverse riders.
Have you ridden these changes yet? What do you think?
See what more local riders think in the replies to our post on Instagram.
So basically people on bikes are now expected to ride on the sidewalk and do some weird hard left turn to cross 7th. This is purely designed to keep car speeds up and move bikes out of the way.
I live on 7th and was actually in favor of trying this, but it for sure makes no sense now that I see it complete. It’s like a ‘last chance’ for cars to speed by bikes before being ‘trapped’ behind them. And what’s funny is, according to the recent post about the woman ticketed for riding outside a bike lane — it’s seemingly technically illegal to stay in the road for this brief stretch. Not to mention, this somehow feels less safe for right hand vehicle turns if people actually obey the cyclist path.
One thing that was wild is that even though I live a half mile north, I could tell the road was reopened by the amount of traffic during rush hour. It was so nice to have one or two cars pass by the whole ride up that hill, and immediately we got strings of cars rushing to beat each other through intersections etc again. People love seeing how fast they can reasonably go over these speed bumps too.
It’s a bizarre choice to spend so much of the project’s budget protecting the 7th & Tillamook intersection while leaving riders who cross 7th completely exposed.
So so wish that they had used the existing traffic circle build a traffic diverter, sorta like the one at 16th & Tillamook. Shamefully bad work imo.
I rode this the other evening when the new chicane was filled with leaves. I keep thinking about PBOT’s logic. People complained about out-of-control drivers speeding, ending up in people’s yards and generally not driving safely on this residential road, so PBOT decided to remove deterrents to driving on NE 7th and implement a design that encourages speeding, more car traffic and deprioritizes biking.
When I rode through the chicane was filled with leaves. And without leaves, a person on a bike riding North has 4 times the number of possible conflicts with cars to take a left turn on Tillamook.
In general, people speed on NE 7th. I am amazed at the number of cars that will take the speed bumps at high speeds without slowing and bottom out their cars. The road didn’t feel that safe to begin with and PBOT made it worse despite the community pleading for a safer street. This is a huge PBOT fail.
This also makes the constant negotiation for road space with drivers more difficult for people going straight North, which is the last thing people on bikes need to deal with.
Indeed. I will never, ever use that turn box to make a left. I will make a left from the lane after taking it while signaling, thank you very much. I pass through here a lot on my bike. I’m vaguely okay with the rest of all of it, but the turn box, not so much.
I live a few blocks away and go through this intersection multiple times daily, by bike and on foot.
As a cyclist, I’m underwhelmed. I haven’t used the actual marked bike lane and likely never will. (This article’s photos are the first time I’ve seen *any* cyclist use it.) The westbound left turn from 7th onto Tillamook does feel a little easier/safer to me without having to awkwardly navigate the traffic circle.
As a pedestrian, I’m slightly pleased. Motorists are definitely driving through the intersection faster than before (to no one’s surprise; I don’t think PBOT even tried to claim otherwise) and that’s a real shame, but the increased visibility when crossing is worth it, IMO. On foot, I always used to wonder if drivers on the far side of the roundabout were slowing because they actually saw me and realized I was crossing, or if they were slowing just because of the roundabout and had no idea I was there. Less ambiguity now. (And more visible time to glare at full-steam-ahead motorists and make my “I’m walkin’ here!” gesture.)
“I haven’t used the actual marked bike lane and likely never will. ”
Be careful not to get hit here… If you are not in the bike lane, you might be found at fault.
PBOT has created a nice legal trap for us cyclists with this project.
Very true. But, if they don’t maintain it and it is hazardous then PBOT is back in fault.
If you’re confident enough of a rider to ride north on 7th from Broadway to Tillamook you’re almost certainly going to just take the lane and turn left. Now, if there was protected bike lanes on 7th north of Broadway something like this new treatment could almost be useful.
From the photos, it looks like the tree that was in the curb extension immediately south of Tillamook was removed. I don’t have a copy of the 100% drawings, but in the 95% construction drawings it’s labeled as being saved. I had assumed that was one of the main reasons for the non-standard design, with the bike lane behind the corner ramps.
Existing mature trees should be a strong argument for the no-build option in all cases. If we can’t figure out how to design around trees we deserve to swelter in a heat island. Twelve baby trees will take years and years to build the biomass needed to absorb as much CO² as a healthy twelve inch tree will. At this point in history even a Norway maple or an Ailanthus has as much value for the city as some of its voters do.
I could talk about how bad this design is but I’ll just note, PBOT will not measure the effect of their traffic design, because its primarily designed to benefit motorist and increase their speeds on 7th.
If this was a ped or bike safety project, we’d get a whole bunch crappy temporary stuff and PBOT would do some under-grad level study of the intersection.
Last night turning south (right) off tillamook onto 7th, the line of sight looking north (to my left) was obscured by low hanging tree limbs – seriously limiting seeing vehicles coming down the hill. The trees also limit sound – so it’s tricky to be aware of when you’re clear to drop in. That more northward barrel thing gives them time to cut around and be back on the throttle before where the old circle forced them to slow when we needed it most. I can’t say cutting more trees is an option, but it’s a more scary spot than before with those same limbs minus the old circles location. Coincidentally, it’s the only photo shot you didn’t quite nail. It’s not an easy shot to get now though, I imagine.
Thanks for the update, Jonathan.
I second that — I went on Tillamook this weekend and the crossing going west felt OK, but the crossing east did not. When traveling east on Tillamook, you need to go south on 7th for a little bit, so you need to make a right turn. It is very difficult at that intersection to see cars traveling south on 7th, and this worries me even more so because the new design invites them to go faster. Jonathan, the last picture is the only one looking east, perhaps you have one more that shows that part of the intersection, especially looking north on 7th.
This is an intersection that I am deeply familiar with as both a driver and bicyclist and my reaction is just that I wish there was some accountability at PBOT. Whatever person or team of people responsible for this over-programmed and less-safe infrastructure should be let go or shuffled off to a department where they can do less harm. Total head-scratching fail through the prism of cycling and I too have no intention of ever using the section where they’re encouraging us to *leave the roadway* and then wait to cross. As a driver on 7th it’s great because it’s a direct, less-obstructed path. Despite, or perhaps because of, all the paint on the street it feels like you’re supposed to just sail through as quickly as possible now, although so far I haven’t actually encountered anyone waiting to cross either on foot or bike. Overall it definitely feels like a friendly nod to the automobile dressed up as “bike infrastructure”.
I agree. PBOT has done some half-bakes stuff over the years, but this is one of the first I’ve seen that actively decreases safety and quality of life for the people using this intersection. Doing nothing would have been infinitely better.
What about the removal of the bike box from 26th crossing Powell?
I thought those were coming back. As of yesterday, they still aren’t there… election season is over so who gives af I guess.
Do we know when PBOT plans to paint the rest of the bike lane down to Weidler? Kind of odd to just do a two block stretch and leave the rest.
This looks worse on every single factor. This is like a PBOT declaration of a war on bikes.
Aw, you are hurting someone’s feelings at PBOT who wants to believe they have your best interests at heart! Bad Santa, not in the holiday spirit!
It’s really hard to believe that related to this project. This project was pretty much straight up anti-bike and anti-neighborhood. It’s hard not to see it as as FU for reasons I really don’t understand.
I’m not really a bad Santa, I’ve just had too much egg nog and it’s probably past time to go home.
In the photo labeled, “Looking north on 7th Avenue approaching Tillamook”, why is there a maroon car parked in front of a “No Parking this block” sign. It also looks like it’s parked in the bike lane–but maybe the bike lane starts just in front of the car? (Looks like that may be the case in the photo labeled, “Looking south at new protected intersection”.)
In other photos, looking south on 7th, there are several cars parked behind that car. Either they’re all parked illegally, or the “No Parking this block” sign shouldn’t be there, from what I can tell from the photos anyway.
The first thing I noticed, and something that shouldn’t happen with brand new pavement, is the standing water in the middle of the crossbike on 7th at Tillamook. There is no good excuse for execution that allows this to happen.
Good spot, David, though surely you are familiar with this problem in Southwest – the Vermont bike lane was created by PBOT with this very problem (it is sloped in the wrong direction – WTF?).
The depression and standing water are in the exact spot the tree and circle used to be, meaning the contractor failed to properly compact the subgrade after the tree and circle were removed leading to settlement, and also failed to properly crown the road when they repaved. Double fail! But I suppose the contractor is already paid and gone so now PBOT is on the hook for any further work here, good luck seeing that happen anytime soon.
No one wanted this. It’s shocking how unresponsive and out of touch PBOT is until you realize it is the entire city government….
From crappy transportation policy to crappy homeless policy to crappy police policy to almost overwhelming crime and graffiti problem in 5 years.
A 12 member council and an enormously powerful unelected city manager who is accountable to a weak mayor will surely address this lack of accountability at Portland’s bureaus and commissions.
Facetious sarcasm will only get you so far.
A 12 member council and a professional city manager will make this a lot better. Politicians are generally dumb as hell, with their only skill schmoozing with the public.
Instead of having 5 at large city councilors who historically have all lived in a couple wealthy neighborhoods, we will have 12 who will have to at least live near some non ritzy neighborhoods. I truly can’t understand people who lived under Hales and Wheeler who think those guys should have had more power.
I was not criticising the 12 member council or the weak mayor but the fact that the single most powerful person in future pbot government will be appointed, not elected. If you are a fan of electoral democracy this should trouble you.
I support abolishing mayors and councillors in favor of participatory democracy so don’t take my comments as any kind of endorsement of electoralism.
They will be hired, not appointed.
That’s the same thing.
I’m sorry, but ‘participatory democracy’ without elections will never work at current population levels. IMO your idealism is getting the better of helping to find practical solutions. Unless, for example, you figure vaccines are a negative factor b/c they prevent or preclude drastic reductions in population levels resulting from viral infections. I suppose at a purely philosophical level I could go either way on that, but just like choosing not to vote, if you decide not to get a vaccine you are taking your chances and I don’t think you have any right to complain or get access to free public health care when you get sick if that is your attitude, just like if you don’t vote I don’t think you have any right to complain about the politicians or the political system you live under.
Hardesty is quite intelligent, and I’m sure Warner is making the day-to-day decisions at PBOT. And still, we got this project.
You make this contention without even an iota of support. In the future, Warner will still probably be making the day-to-day decisions, but will answer to an appointed manager, who will then in turn answer to a group of 12 council members a majority of whom will have to agree to provide any official direction.
How, exactly, do you expect this system to be more responsive? Why would the outcome on this project be any different?
Well, Hardesty is out now, and I very much doubt she got down in the weeds on this particular project to really understand what was being proposed/done. A good manager trusts their staff to do the right thing on projects like this and in this case (and many others like it) her staff failed to deliver.
Ultimately I guess Hardesty is responsible for the results we ended up with, but I don’t think they were the direct result of any specific actions or inactions on her part. PBOT is in dire need of an overhaul to remove certain key staff from design and decision making responsibility on projects like this; there are several levels of management between Hardesty and the PBOT staff who pushed this project through who should have flagged this project as inappropriate, so maybe they need to go also.
Exactly. So why would Warner do anything different with a city manager than he did with Hardesty? PBOT will not be more responsive with less political oversight. If anything changes, they’ll be worse.
No kidding! Things are definitely about to get a whole lot better.
So do we risk getting a ticket if we refuse to ride on all that green-painted BS (Bikes on Sidewalk)?
My thought exactly. I would use the lane & make a left turn with hand signal. Certainly not go up on sidewalk then stop and then cross. Waste of time.
I am not a fan of those green left-turn boxes anywhere. They seem to require you to stop and turn 90° on a dime, and put you crosswise to bicycle traffic continuing straight.
Think N Broadway westbound, turning left onto Larabee, or SE Water Ave. northbound, turning left to go over the Tillicum bridge. Does anyone use these and like these?
Nope – they suck everywhere. I ignore them. I assume they are for eight-year-olds who are directed by their parents to use them.
The green turn boxes are commonly placed in such a way that any bike rider who uses them is standing at the very edge of a lane used by motor vehicles that are commonly going 40+ mph. Reaching for a drink, texting, etc. You are so right. No, and no.
Can there be an uglier, sign-filled environment than this?
The landscape architect assigned to review this project should hang his head in shame.
What a mess! What bothers me:
Usually, I take a give-it-a-try attitude with these new treatments but this one has me scratching my head and wondering if any cyclists (or anyone who uses the intersection) were even involved in the design. I just don’t get it and so far don’t use the sidewalk at all (nor do I expect to in the future)- it just feels dangerous.
Your complaint regarding this facility from a cargo bike user’s perspective also applies equally to e-bike users and every other cyclist in a broader sense.
To begin with, PBOT is still designing these facilities assuming cyclists will be riding ‘standard’ bikes and going ~10 or 12 mph or slower, and that’s no longer the case. E-bikes have much higher maximum speeds, and cargo bikes, bikes w/ trailers, tall bikes, etc. all have radically different footprints and handling characteristics than ‘standard’ bikes.
My first observation is that if you are on a e-bike and can ride at ‘the normal speed of traffic’ it appears to me that the restrictions imposed on cyclists by ORS 814.430 would no longer apply.
My second observation is that the need to continue to comply with ORS 814.420 is much more ambiguous, since ORS 814.420 contains no specific mention of, or exemption from, having to use a bike lane or path based on a cyclists’ ability to keep up with ‘the normal speed of traffic’, or the size and handling characteristics of your bike.
ORS 814.420 really needs to be rewritten to bring it up to date (1) with respect to e-bikes and the higher speeds they can operate at, (2) with respect to the larger footprint and different handling characteristics of cargo bikes and other oversized rigs, and (3) in general to allow any and all cyclists way more flexibility to opt out of using these poorly designed facilities without violating the law or losing their liability protection in the event of a crash.
Really, the best thing the Oregon Legislature could do would be to simply repeal ORS 814.420 altogether. Bike Loud, Street Trust, is anyone willing to take this on?
All good points, especially point 2 — from a car driver’s perspective, a person biking up north and then using that sidewalk area becomes less visible, only to “reappear” again. I would never use that infrastructure, it feels dangerous, and I am worried about people using it.
That sharply curved green thing will likely see as much use as this sharply curved green thing:
PBOT is trolling people who bike for transportation.
Yep. I’ve bike through that intersection on 28th dozens of times. I never have used the bike turn lane thing.
ha! yeah, I always continue straight South there and turn East at Ankeny.
Maybe PBOT should have asked their contractor to address the new drainage issues that seem to have appeared at the location of the old circle and tree before they paid them?
Would it really have been too hard to properly compact the subgrade and make sure the road was properly crowned in this location before declaring the project complete?
The new bike lanes are also full of wet leaves and completely unusable at this time of year. I don’t suppose they will ever get cleaned? Those plastic yellow dot ADA markers at the cross walks are also incredibly slippery when wet and PBOT is expecting cyclists to be making turning maneuvers on them? WTF?
What a clown show!
Per the discussion regarding ORS814.420 (Mandatory Side Path law) in another recent thread, any cyclist choosing not to use this new bike infrastructure takes their lives into their own hands with respect to liability if they get hit by a motor vehicle while choosing not to use these facilities.
Sad that this will probably get counted as spending on bike infrastructure, when it primarily benefits drivers.
PBOT is wasting the money that has been fought for bike and active transportation advocates.
This is the first conversation in a long time where I have given a thumbs up to almost every comment.
We really spent money on this? I spoke to a planner the other day who said that projects won’t make everyone happy. Well, I’ll be more than happy to drive my car on this stretch and less than happy to use my Surly. It’s project like this that make East Portlanders scratch their heads at the waste.
I will sure miss the absence of car traffic through here on my daily commute for the past few months! It also goes to show how there wasn’t pandemonium when that stretch was closed to cars. Stop signs for traffic on 7th would be a great addition to slow down drivers!
I really question the value of those corner bulbouts.
Curb extensions have been a mistake right from the beginning, for the following reasons:
(1) They force cyclists out into traffic unnecessarily.
(2) In low lighting conditions they are a serious strike hazard for cyclists.
(3) They effectively preserve the motor vehicle parking lane and prevent installation of other higher level infrastructure like bike lanes.
(4) B/c they are hardscape they are very expensive to both install and remove.
(5) Motorists don’t slow down for them.
(6) Pedestrians would essentially get the same level of security and protection if they were simply painted instead of being constructed from concrete.
No, I haven’t been up in the area lately. I will make sure to ride past there next time I’m in neighborhood… But it does not look safe to me. I expect to see tire tracks on those bulb outs
I’ll still take the lane, thank you very much.
I rode up NE 7th at 5:15 PM today. Skipped all the “bike lanes” and the Bike on Sidewalk. At the place where the anomalous parallel paint stripes end a white car was parked with its rear bumper neatly capping the space inside the lines. Can we have some authority, perhaps Officer Weber, describe how the ideal law-abiding bike rider would approach this?
“It directs northbound bicycle users on 7th up onto the sidewalk on the southeast corner of Tillamook and 7th, then across Tillamook in a cross-bike (green-striped crosswalk adjacent to the standard crosswalk), then onto another small sidewalk section before re-entering 7th in a painted bike lane.”
From a biking perspective, this sidewalk set-up looks sillier and sillier each time I look at it. It’s unduly contrived, poorly designed, and seems less safe. But this kind of feels like PBOT’s thing.