To calm traffic on NE 7th, PBOT adds parking, removes centerline

Looking north on NE 7th just south of Alberta. Cars can now be parked on both sides of the street, and the center striping is gone. (Photos: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)
Lloyd to Woodlawn: NE 7th Avenue Parking Changes
The plan for parking on NE 7th. (Source: PBOT)

There are more changes afoot on NE 7th as part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. When PBOT began planning this greenway project, they decided to build it on NE 9th instead of NE 7th like many advocates hoped for. But PBOT has made some changes to 7th even though it won’t be an official greenway street.

After finishing up the hotly contested treatments at the NE 7th and Tillamook intersection last fall, PBOT is moving onto other stretches of 7th. And one of the treatments they’re trying out in hopes of reducing car traffic speeds may raise some eyebrows amongst critics of on-street parking.

In order to reduce car traffic speeds outside Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, PBOT has added street parking to the west side of NE 7th between Alberta and Prescott where it previously wasn’t allowed. On-street parking has been shown to reduce driving speeds by narrowing a street — when cars are parked on either side of a street, there’s less room for through car traffic to pass, forcing people in cars to slow down.

But on-street parking creates other problems, too. A line of parked cars creates a visibility barrier between people using the sidewalk and car drivers, and more street parking also increases the likelihood of a bike rider getting “doored” by someone getting out of their car. The additional, free parking also may incentivize more people to drive on this stretch of NE 7th.

These safety concerns are especially pertinent considering the proximity of an elementary school to this street. But PBOT says the additional car parking will be helpful for traffic calming, and the visibility concern won’t be an issue because they’ve removed parking near the intersections on NE 7th to ensure people are clearly visible when getting ready to cross the street.

PBOT currently has other plans in the works that will reduce on-street parking, like the plan to build a protected bike lane on NE Skidmore near Wilshire Park. They’re also looking at an initiative to plant trees in the curb zone, which has all the traffic calming benefits of street parking without the cars. There are many ways PBOT attempts to reduce car driving speeds other than opening up more space to cars, so this seems like a missed opportunity to try something else.

PBOT crews are in the process of removing the center striping on NE 7th.

Another aspect of this project is the removal of the center line striping on 7th from Alberta all the way south to NE Schuyler, just north of the Lloyd neighborhood. This is another tactic to promote slower car traffic speeds: research has shown that removing centerlines makes people more hesitant and cautious about how fast they’re driving.

According to PBOT, NE 7th will also soon be equipped with upgraded lighting at several intersections, and new lighting will also be installed at several intersections on NE 9th in between Prescott and Ainsworth streets. This will be done within the next few weeks.

Right now, it’s hard to tell how the changes on NE 7th will impact the feeling on the street. When I rolled over there earlier today, there weren’t a lot of cars in the new parking zone, so I wasn’t able to get a sense of how it would feel if all the spots were utilized. But in the places where the center line striping has been removed, 7th does already feel more like a neighborhood street and less like a busy throughway. It’s very interesting how a little bit of paint (or a lack thereof) can make a difference.

All of this is part of phase 1 of implementing the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. Once the first phase is complete, PBOT hopes to begin work on the next round of plans for the greenway project construction, but this second phase is currently unfunded.

Taylor Griggs

Taylor Griggs

Taylor was BikePortland's staff writer from 2021 to 2023. She currently writes for the Portland Mercury. Contact her at taylorgriggswriter@gmail.com

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Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
1 year ago

All that’s left is putting the “gapped” speed humps in and then drivers will be swerving at bike riders all day. Go ride down Harold St if you don’t believe me.

Daniel Reimer
1 year ago

Nice to know PBOT is willing to consider removing the centerline. They plan on adding speed bumps to SW 45th and when suggested that removing the centerline could do traffic calming instead, I was told that’s not possible because there were 6,000+ cars regularly traveling.

I wish this was something PBOT was more willing to consider elsewhere as traffic calming measures, especially on streets that have relatively low car usage with no sidewalks.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

PBOT did it on SE Mill Street east of 130th about 10 years ago and it really helped reduce car speeds; eventually they did several more nearby streets – the lines are still gone. It really is a proven strategy nationwide – those yellow lines give drivers a hard-wired cue to go faster and drive like maniacs – remove them and drivers feel like they are driving on a residential street. The Dutch did it first, of course.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

They need to remove the center line on ainsworth from mlk to the bluffs too

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Yes, totally agree! That is a pretty low-traffic section and there’s no way it needs a centerline.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

Unfortunately they used their grinder to do it. OMG does that street need repaving!

Zachary
Zachary
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

I wonder how much of the slowing effect can be attributed to the novelty of no center line? Meaning, as this strategy is more widely deployed, will its impact be diminished? A great longitudinal study for some young MURP student!

rick
rick
1 year ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

Which section of SW 45th?

maxD
maxD
1 year ago

Once again, PBOT is adding infrastructure for cars (parking) and “bikewashing” it by claiming it will slow cars and benefit bikes. In reality, this will set up another segment of NE segment that is ambiguously for bikes, with no protection or authorization (like sharrows or shared street signs). This creates conflicts between people driving and people biking- the kind of sketchy stuff that happens on 7th now- tailgating, honking, yelling about using a bike lane, etc- all stuff that has happened to me on 7th- this will make it worse. PBOT is really doing a truly terrible job on 7th, and 9th still has no plan to get safely and efficiently around Irving Park.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

The stated goal of the project is traffic calming, not benefiting bikes. They decided to put the greenway on 9th Ave. I think this project is doing well by its actual intention, which is to slow down traffic.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

I think this project is doing well by its actual intention, which is to slow down traffic.

Unfortunately we will most likely never know as PBOT doesn’t measure the efficacy of their ‘traffic calming’ interventions.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

The stated goal is a “safer 7th”. That would be safer for all road users, including people riding bikes. Without an alternative, 7th will continue to function as a bike route. What you are saying PBOT’s “actual intention” is is quite a bit different than the message they delivered a the end of the planning process for the 7th/9th greenway. The message delivered by PBOT is that 9th would become greenway (with a gap Irving Park), but that 7th would be made safer for all users including bikes. The actual work PBOT is doing appears to exclude cyclists from their consideration.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

“The stated goal of the project is traffic calming, not benefiting bikes. They decided to put the greenway on 9th Ave. I think this project is doing well by its actual intention, which is to slow down traffic.”

Is this an official statement from PBOT? If not please provide a link to location on PBOT web site. Thnx.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago

So more chances to get doored and less room to get out of the way of irate drivers? How about instead… traffic diverters?

maxD
maxD
1 year ago

If PBOT believes this will calm the street and create a safer street for people biking and walks, why not remove the center lane and add parking al the way south to NE Fargo?

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

Good question, it does seem like Prescott is sort of an arbitrary location…

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

Um, north not south?

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

nope, NE Fargo dead ends into the southern end of Irving Park. South of that, that is parking on both sides of 7th already

FauxPorteur
1 year ago

This is a horrible move. Jamming two lanes of parking as well as two lanes of traffic onto 7th is nonsensical. Removing the centerline will just make it worse. Already dangerous motor vehicle traffic won’t even move in (nominally) straight line.

With parked cars on both sides two cars in opposite direction and one bike in the same section at the same time? Guess what happens.

The city should abandon all efforts to attempt to make 7th ave a bike friendly route and instead focus on 9th. 9th is already an incredibly calm street with very little motor vehicle traffic from the Lombard all the way to Holgate with only a few (mitigable) issues.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  FauxPorteur

You’re describing what this project is. It’s traffic-calming on 7th, bike route on 9th. So congratulations, they are doing what you want.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

Except there is no bike route on 9th

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

That is not what the PBOT Lloyd to Woodlawn Project Implementation and Strategy Report says. This report describes 7th and 9th working in tandem to provide bike connection north of the Blumenauer Bridge.

The Project Recommendatino, page 1, says, “The Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway is a NE 9th Ave Neighborhood Greenway and a Safer 7th Avenue. Together, these two complimentary routes improve safety for everyone, respect the history and context of the neighborhood, and establish a low stress walking and biking route between Northeast Portland neighborhoods and the future Blumenauer Bridge.”

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/documents/lloyd-woodlawn-implementation-report/download

Screenshot 2023-03-08 120107.jpg
FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

That graphic seems to prominently feature a cyclist if I’m not mistaken.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

Touche, plus traffic calming on 7th is sure to drive some of that traffic onto adjacent neighborhood streets.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  FauxPorteur

NE 9th is already as good a bike street as it will ever be. You can go ride it today. The pavement sucks. When you encounter a stop sign it’s perfectly legal to roll through it on a bike using the SAME precautions and care needed at every cross street on so-called greenways all over town.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  X

I sometimes ride portions of SE 9th in the CEID and it works for local riding but it is not a very good through route over longer distances.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  FauxPorteur

Lombard to Holgate, r u kidding? Maybe u mean Holman. But that’s not where this discussion is about.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago

I ride all over NE Portland everyday, I never think about riding on 7th except for maybe a block to make a turn.
The city thinks this crap is helping whatever few cyclists we have left but the real cyclists still riding around NEVER use these streets. Ever. Just ride on any surrounding pleasant street that has very little traffic.
PBOT keeps futilely attempting and spending money on streets that bicycles don’t need to ride on….
Access commercial districts on the the last block just like you do in a car… like everyone…7th is not even a commercial street, just a compact car street that does not lend itself in anyway to bikes, stay off, who cares..

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

But the cars will be stoked!

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

This project is explicitly doing this for traffic calming, not to improve cycling. They’re not even implying this is for cycling. The greenway is on 9th.

I suppose one potential downside though is if there was cut through traffic on 7th, it might move to 9th? Which would be counterproductive for sure. But I don’t know how likely that is.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  John

So they took out a tree on 7th that slowed cars and spent a boatload of money making silly sidepaths for bicycles to get off the road that would slow cars but this is a traffic calming project?
I think PBOT has a PR person, maybe you are it?

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  John

John, I disagree with your characterization of the project. When the 7th/9th planning wrapped up, PBOT pitched a combo of 7th/9th as the bike route to connect to the Blumenauer Bridge. 9th would become a greenway (with a gap at Irving Park) and 7th would have safety enhancements to maintain the car access requested and still support trips by bike. This is the Project Recommendation, “The Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway is a NE 9th Ave Neighborhood Greenway and a Safer 7th Avenue. Together, these two complimentary routes improve safety for everyone, respect the history and context of the neighborhood, and establish a low stress walking and biking route between Northeast Portland neighborhoods and the future Blumenauer Bridge.”

check it out: https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/documents/lloyd-woodlawn-implementation-report/download

John
John
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

Any way you slice it, this is intended to slow down traffic, which (if it works, and we have evidence that it does) improves safety for bicycles. People can complain all day about the door zone but the middle of the road, which you should be on given no center line, isn’t in the door zone.

7th absolutely should be the greenway and it’s despicable that they aren’t making it one, but given the knowledge that they already decided not to make 7th a greenway, slowing and discouraging traffic seem like they have almost no downside. They’re not the best solution for sure and I’m not patting PBOT on the back for this, I’m just saying that subjectively, as a cyclist, I’m glad this street is harder for cars to drive on.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

the visibility concern won’t be an issue because they’ve removed parking near the intersections on NE 7th to ensure people are clearly visible when getting ready to cross the street.

When PBOT says they have “removed parking,” does that mean they have put up “No Parking” signs? Or have they made it PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to park a car in those spaces?

Unless they have done the latter, people will park on the curb right up to the corner or the crosswalk, since no one enforces parking rules in Portland.

Michael Andersen
1 year ago

I can’t speak to the science on this, but just from personal experience it seems intuitive to me that curbside car parking on a two-lane street improves biking by slowing traffic, at least until you get to the “have to pull over to pass each other” point. Which improves biking in a different way, by dramatically reducing auto traffic.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago

We need a lot of Cars to slow down Cars seems like an Onion headline……

soren
soren
1 year ago

Having to squeeze by a large SUV/personal truck that is traveling in or occupying the center line is not the kind of interaction that instills a sense of ease or comfort for people who are not “experienced” cyclists.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  soren

The non-existent ‘interested but concerned’ demographic is a figment of some planner’s imagination and nothing the bureaucracy does will make them appear out of thin air.

Timothy Smith
Timothy Smith
1 year ago

I live the corner of NE 7th Ave & Going – and appreciate the removal of the centerlines and the speed humps to calm traffic (we had hoped 7th Ave would be a bike way). Beyond the already implemented measures it would be great to see clearly marked no parking areas where there are pedestrian crossings (N and S on NE 7th Ave) and on Going where there is an all year round busy bike way – this would benefit everyone’s safety regardless of mode of transportation, as we have attended quite a few incidents between cars and bikes taking avoiding action over the years at this intersection.

Per Johansson
Per Johansson
1 year ago

Adding parking near schools to make things safer is okay but traffic enforcement near our schools is a “no-no”? Why?

Hoofer
Hoofer
1 year ago

Can we talk about adding bollards and/or some kind of divider between the bike lane and the car lane on NE 7th between Holladay and Multnomah? I live right there and delivery drivers/people “just running in quick” to that Cafe Yum are constantly parking there. It’s going to cause a serious wreck, especially considering how cars always are speeding through there.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  Hoofer

What Hoofer said!

one
one
1 year ago

What are the other funded parts of Phase 1 that are unfinished?
What are the unfunded parts of Phase 2 that won’t get started until funding comes through?

X
X
1 year ago

I think that the stripe removal and added parking could have some effect but the irony is pretty special.

X
X
1 year ago

After finishing up the waste of good materials at the NE 7th and Tillamook intersection last fall, PBOT is …

Taylor’s writing is lucid as ever, but there’s really no controversy about what PBOT did over there. It’s a mess.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

“A line of parked cars creates a visibility barrier between people using the sidewalk and car drivers”

This is also exactly why so-called ‘parking-protected’ bike lanes are dangerous.