PBOT readies plan for protected bike lane adjacent to Wilshire Park

Existing conditions above, PBOT cross-section drawing below.

The City of Portland is putting final touches on a plan to build a new two-way protected bikeway on Northeast Skidmore from 33rd to 37th. This is the segment of Skidmore adjacent to Wilshire Park in the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood.

(Map: BikePortland)

The goal of the project is to slow down car users and provide a safer space for bicycle users and people walking near the park. This stretch of Skidmore, which is classified as a “major city bikeway” in Portland planning documents, currently gives drivers 40-feet of space to operate, far more than is necessary or safe. A Portland Bureau of Transportation analysis showed that most people drive 27-28 mph, well over a safe and considerate speed next to a park — not to mention that the posted speed limit is 20 mph.

The PBOT design proposal calls for 14-feet of (two-way) driving space and another 14 feet for two, seven-foot parking lanes. The remaining 12 feet will be used for a two-way protected bike lane (curbside to the park) that has two, five-foot lanes and a two-foot buffer zone from parked cars. PBOT believes the narrower operating space for drivers will encourage them to slow down. The new carfree space adjacent to the park will create a new safety buffer for bicycle riders and other users.

PBOT considered a more typical shared-street, neighborhood greenway treatment for Skidmore but there are too many drivers going too fast to do that without installing diversion to limit traffic from NE 33rd (a major neighborhood collector). A PBOT traffic diversion analysis showed that banning eastbound movements onto Skidmore from 33rd would lead to too much out-of-direction car traffic on other residential streets.

The value of this project is further boosted because of how it will help bicycle riders connect to the Mason-Skidmore Neighborhood Greenway. PBOT also plans to complete a bike-friendly crossing treatment of 33rd soon and they have plans to build out the Mason-Skidmore route all the way to NE 77th in spring 2024.

Speaking of how this fits into the larger neighborhood greenway is the problem of how westbound bicycle riders on Skidmore will transition into the two-way bike lane on the south side of the street. If you’re riding westbound you’d be on the north side of the street, so you’d have to cross over oncoming traffic to get into the bike lane. This sets up a conversation about either an enhanced crossing treatment or some sort of median traffic diverter at NE 36th or 37th to remove that threat of oncoming traffic.

Learn more about this project on the city’s website and/or plan to attend the February 13th meeting of the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association where PBOT staff will attend and answer questions.

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Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam Balto
2 days ago

This seems like a logical improvement to Skidmore and I welcome it as someone who lives close by. I do wish PBOT would consider making the “multi-use path” as they refer to protected bike lane wider from 10 ft to 15ft. The park side of Skidmore doesn’t have a sidewalk and people are regularly walking in the streets. People walking will be using this path frequently & I think PBOT should encourage that by making the “multi-use path” 5 feet wider as a walking space. That way people biking & pedestrians aren’t navigating the same space which will be ineviatble while people driving get 30ft or 75% of the road space. Lets make it 15ft bike ped space & 25 ft for cars. That seems more fair.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam Balto
2 days ago

As a teacher we spend our energy encouraging & focusing on the positive behaviors we want to see. For endless amounts of reasons we want people walking & biking more. Why don’t we prioritze our road space (which is public space, not just for cars) to encourage the bahviors we want to see. If you make it easier for people to walk & bike, people will walk & bike more. Why limit the benefit by only creating 10 ft why not 20ft for walking/biking on Skidmore? Priortizing parking over the health and wellness of the community doesn’t make sense to me.

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 day ago

In the many times I have biked down this street I have never seen enough cars parked that there would not have been space if they were all on one side of the street. This is way too much parking and will result in what feels like a 28 foot wide car lane much of the time.

qqq
qqq
1 day ago
Reply to  Sam Balto

I remember your similarly good comments from an earlier article about this. There’d be lots more space for walking and biking if the parking were removed. What I wrote in response to your comment back then (and what lots of other people have also noticed) still seems valid:

 It looks like every house between 33rd and 37th has off-street parking (even looks like at least two spaces) plus every house is on a corner lot, so has frontage on a side street for on-street parking (except the one on 33rd where it looks like there’s no on-street parking).

maxD
maxD
2 days ago

Another floating piece of bike infrastructure? These 2-way bike lanes on the street are really dangerous at every single intersection and adjacent to the park. People driving through neighborhoods roll right across sidewalks and bike lanes all the time, only looking left where they expect cars to be coming from. A bike travelling in the opposite direction is in real danger of getting hit or having people step in front of them. I commute on Naito most days, and it works most of the time because there are no cross streets- on sunny days, or during events, the majority of people crossing Naito DO NOT look both ways before crossing/entering the bike lane. This plan also neglects to illustrate how it connects to the rest of the bike network. Unless live along these 4 blocks, how do you access it? Are they going to fix 37th? That crossing is far more dangerous than this street, and used by more people on bikes, too. I think a 5-foot bike lane on each side of the street with a 1-foot wand-protected buffer between it and parking would be better. The proposed design might be OK along the park, but it increases danger for people biking at every single intersection and driveway.

Fred
Fred
2 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Totally agree, maxD, about drivers not looking for cyclists in these non-standard road treatments. Like you, I’ve learned to assume that no driver making a right turn looks right.

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
2 days ago

1. We need more one ways for cars. Not sure why PBOT hasn’t used them more often, especially on n’hood streets.

2. 2 way bike lanes are terrible. Nothing like dealing with folks coming at you taking up both lanes. No thanks. FWIW, I’d rather be in the car lane in these situations.

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
2 days ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

I agree. Crossing Skidmore twice when heading west (once to enter and once to leave the 2-way bike lane) is less safe than just riding on the street the 4 blocks from 37th to 33rd. So I wouldn’t do it.

I would use a bike lane on the westbound side of the street.

Perhaps the 2-way bike lane is targeted to people who stay within the park. But they have the alternative of the existing park paths to head either direction.

mark
mark
2 days ago

I don’t understand the need for another bikeway on Skidmore, only two blocks south of an established, and better connected, bikeway on Going.

dwk
dwk
2 days ago

These are the kind of projects that are just embarrassing. If you can’t ride a bike on that street as it is, stay home.
This is just ammo for the anti bike crowd,. a solution without a problem like Hancock in Hollywood.
Will this city just pick up the trash please and put in some sidewalks?

idlebytes
idlebytes
2 days ago

This has similar vibes to the “improvements” to Halsey and 102nd in recent years. The changes to those streets were obviously about slowing drivers down not about providing safe connected bike infrastructure. They’re just using parking and a bike lane as a way to narrow the street.

I recently had the not so great pleasure of riding on Halsey from 122nd to Gateway at night. The unprotected bike lane felt safer then the buffered lane that starts at Weidler. Even in that short stretch I had multiple drivers pull into the bike lane and cut me off to turn onto Weidler. The lane was full of debris and when it dumps you back out onto Halsey after 102nd it was a complete gutter. Just look at what PBOT maintains to see their real priorities.

dwk
dwk
2 days ago
Reply to  idlebytes

This is Nothing like Halsey… a quiet neighborhood street, bike clubs meet there to go on rides…
People here think wearing a helmet gives a bad view that cycling is not safe… Putting up barriers and striping and all that stuff on a simple street adjacent to a park makes us look like complete freakin idiots..

X
X
2 days ago

This bit of street is on one of my going-home routes and sometimes I go to the park to walk or jog on the wood chip track. The curb on the N side of the park is often parked full. A lot of park users drive there to join up with group activities of various sorts. The cut-through traffic is mostly people who live nearby ducking the 33rd / Prescott intersection, the Purgatory of the NE.

I’d make this area a woonerf of sorts, using a slightly random pattern of car parking spaces to throttle cut-through speed and possible shutting off end-to-end trips entirely. I believe that bike riders and people walking can manage themselves just fine in such an environment without paint stripes, etc. Paint and signs don’t do a heck of a lot to keep MV out of my grill.

A Neighborhood Association freakout is baked into this idea, naturally.

Dean
Dean
2 days ago

I live a block away. It will be full of leaves and unusable for the majority of the year. It will also be an awkward turn onto Skidmore Westbound from 37th.

Josh G
Josh G
2 days ago
Reply to  Dean

Like all roads near tall evergreens, especially north of them, this section along the park stays icy much longer.

maxD
maxD
2 days ago

Here is an alternative:
Move the northern curb south 4′ to create 6′ wide planting strips and plant large form street trees. remove parking completely from the north side of the street.

The south curb, along the park, add 18′ wide curb extensions at every block to create accessible entry point into the park. Make a few of them big enough for bike racks. In between, allow head-in parking.

That leaves an 18′-wide shared street that is pleasant, slow, accommodates pedestrians and bikes, and accommodates people driving and parking at the park.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
2 days ago
Reply to  maxD

I like the creativity of your idea. It should absolutely be considered.

maxD
maxD
1 day ago
Reply to  Sam

Thanks! I think something like this at every cross street would be really effective at slowing cars, it would provide excellent accessible entries from the neighborhood, and the bike racks could be replaced with a lot of different amenities like street tree, stormwater planter, bench, trash can, info kiosk, whatever the neighborhood needs. If you have a chance to pitch something like this to PBOT, go for it!

Screenshot 2023-01-25 185533.jpg
Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
1 day ago
Reply to  maxD

Please join the meeting or email the bwna board. The more people pitching this stuff will make me looks less of a crazy person. Seriously please send this to them.

maxD
maxD
21 hours ago
Reply to  Sam

OK, I sent the President and email. Good luck!

Asher Atkinson
Asher Atkinson
2 days ago

This feels way over engineered to me. As a frequent user of Wilshire Park and one who rides by there often, all that’s really needed to make me happy is a short paved path from the west entrance at Mason cutting up to Skidmore around 34th. I’d much rather cut through a corner of the park than navigate another awkward crossing like we have on 33rd and Going.

Regarding the treatment along the north side of the park on Skidmore, cars park there to use the park. I’d much rather stay in the road than ride through kids sports teams and picnickers as they cross the bike path to get the fields, walking paths, and picnic tables. But I guess that would involve shararrows which some advocacy careerists have now declared taboo according to the latest Monday roundup.

if one wants to add traffic calming next to a park and improve street crossings, I suggest focus attention and resources along Tillamook between 82nd and 92nd.

Allan Rudwick
2 days ago

I have been riding NE Skidmore through here for a long time and I don’t understand why Skidmore/Mason was picked when Skidmore itself is a great east-west route. It already has a big diverter around the school at 68th which someone was probably afraid to widen to add a biking path next to the walking path there by the school. The pavement quality is a bit bumpy, maybe that’s why?

Hopefully someone from PBOT or the neighborhood could weigh in

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 day ago
Reply to  Allan

I wholeheartedly agree with this and pushed for the greenway to be on Skidmore at 68th because it has a built in 2 block long hardened diverter in the form of the park. If the city is going to continue to refuse to place diverters that will prevent motor vehicle thru traffic the least they can do is take advantage of ones that already exist to create routes that attract fewer cars. It made no sense to use mason instead of skidmore out by the 60’s-70’s.

Fred
Fred
2 days ago

My overall impression of this project is that PBOT continues to create performative bike infrastructure that won’t move the needle on mode share. PBOT needs to take some really *hard* decisions (dedicated bike boulevards??) that would be game-changers.

Jonno
Jonno
2 days ago

Seems to me this is another case of PBOT building bike infrastructure where it doesn’t actually matter. The problem is speeding cut through drivers. Bike infrastructure is not the solution to that problem, diversion is. A couple planters strategically placed and job done, a nice wide street for everyone, not just speeding drivers. Save that protected lane for where it matters literally anywhere else.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
1 day ago
Reply to  Jonno

I think this is rather accurate. The issue becomes people getting from 33rd & Skidmore to 33rd and Mason. You can’t have people biking crossing over people turning onto Skidmore. That I believe is the crux of all of this.

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson
1 day ago

We walk regularly in Wilshire Park, and yes that stretch of Skidmore is a race track…much too wide! My thought…how about angled parking? that would narrow things a bit and offer more parking spots. Add a sidewalk for helping folks get from their parked cars to where they want to go in the park. Bikers here, belong in the street…add sharrows and bumps to the narrowed street.

EEE
EEE
1 day ago

I agree with most of the negative sentiments. I use it everyday and it just seems like the improvements will both slow me down and decrease safety, but I really hope I am wrong. It would be nice if they spent the resources at locations that really need fixing, like crossing 42nd (a disaster), crossing Cully (still a disaster even with the recent improvements), or continuing eastbound after 77th to connect with the other MUPs. How about a two-way track from 77th to 92nd to lessen the difficulty going east after 77th? Prescott is currently stressful, and no one wants to go downhill all the way to Alberta and come back up to Prescott, or cross at 82nd at Alberta (another continuing disaster). Crossing at Going and 82nd is slightly better but still 100% Frogger.

Merlin
Merlin
1 day ago
Reply to  EEE

Yes, I also agree with the negative comments. To slow traffic down why not use speed bumps, a sign showing your speed, or at the extreme, speeding tickets. Of course option 3 is never going to happen in Portland. Parking by the park is used by several cycling clubs during the week and untold numbers of youth sports parents on the weekends.
This plan needs to be abandoned.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam
1 day ago
Reply to  Merlin

We need the parking for the cyclist clubs is truly the chefs kiss of comments.

Josh Mahar
Josh Mahar
1 day ago

Certainly appreciate PBOT’s interest in this corridor and making it safer and easier to bike! This seems like a good start, but I think there is some constructive feedback here in these comments that I hope is used to inform further designs.

As someone who biked this near daily for over two years, a few thoughts based on my experiences:

The reality is this is a destination park. A lot of people do drive here and the north edge of the park is extremely busy with park users: run groups congregating, dogs being loaded and unloaded, people hauling birthday and picnic gear out of their cars, pick-up/drop off for baseball, Ultimate frisbee, summer camp, and on and on. I just cannot see how this cross movement will in any way jive with a bike path. It would be like putting a bike path between a grocery store and its parking lot.

I have previously advocated for limiting turn movement onto Skidmore from 33rd, so I appreciate PBOTs explanation of the challenges of this on their website. As an alternative I wonder if they could do a diverter by closing vehicle traffic on Skidmore between 35th and 35th Pl, something akin to NE Klickitat between 11th and 14th (which could still maintain the garage access for the one residence there). That keeps the access from 33rd but prevents cut-through traffic. The width of the street also allows for an easy enough turnaround at the end to limit additional out of direction travel.

Sam Balto (Contributor)
Sam Balto
1 day ago
Reply to  Josh Mahar

Great breakdown of the issues.