New bike lane on SE 12th connects Hawthorne to Salmon greenway

A rider pedals north on SE 12th just before Salmon. More photos below. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland has installed a very helpful new link in the inner southeast bike network. There are now double-buffered bike lanes on SE 12th between Madison and Salmon. The Portland Bureau of Transportation completed striping the new bike lanes in September.

“This new stretch of bike lane connects two important pieces of infrastructure in SE Portland: the Central City in Motion Hawthorne/Madison improvements and the Salmon Neighborhood Greenway,” wrote PBOT in a social media post Wednesday.

The bike lane is unprotected and offers only paint as a separation from other road users; but the “double-buffered” design means that there is space between the one general purpose lane to the left of the bike lane and the door-zone of parked cars on the right. The previous cross-section included two general purpose lanes and two lanes for free car parking. PBOT swapped the eastern general purpose lane for the new bike lane.

This a nice connection because 12th handles a lot of bike traffic from the Ladds Addition area (and points south) and the new bike lane connects directly to the popular greenway on SE Salmon. At Salmon, PBOT has previously installed a concrete barricade to tame traffic and the street has a 15 mph “Shared Street” advisory speed limit. It also leads to a nice little coffee place (Good Coffee) on the corner of Salmon and 12th.

Funding for this project came from PBOT’s Multimodal Missing Links program. This is a small and flexible pot of money PBOT uses to build small projects. The total annual budget for Missing Links is about $200,000 (I don’t know the cost of this specific project yet, but will update this post when I find out). (UPDATE: Here’s what PBOT said when I asked how much this project cost: “As with many Missing Links projects, this was too small to have its own line item in PBOT’s budget. This was grouped among 25 quick projects we had a contractor perform for about $300,000. We won’t know the final cost of each of the 25 projects until the invoices come in.”)

I visited this site a few days ago to see how it’s working. The new bike lane starts as a shared bus/bike lane at a Line 70 TriMet bus stop on the northeast corner of 12th and Madison. Similar to the cross-section on North Vancouver Avenue, you feel like a respected road user since the bike lane width is equal to the adjacent car lane.

Unfortunately, the paint-only design and general disrespectful behavior, led some drivers to use the bike lane while I was there. Hopefully that subsides in the future as folks realize it’s a bike lane — and as more bike riders fill the space.

The response to PBOT’s post was mostly good and I’ve heard positive feedback so far. “It makes crossing this street on a bike on Salmon a lot easier – only crossing one lane of traffic is so much better. Now please do 11th as well!” wrote one person. “Now can we get a lane all the way up 12th to get to the Ankeny and north of Burnside lanes?” wrote another.

I second that call to extend this up to the Ankeny greenway. I’ve always been a fan of 12th for its direct connection between Hawthorne and Burnside/Sandy, but I’ll only ride it if I can maintain a 18-22 mph speed given the shared-lane conditions and 25 mph speed limit.

Have you ridden this yet? What has your experience been?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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dw
dw
6 months ago

I’ll add my vote to extending it up to Ankeny and beyond. They’re already rebuilding the intersection at Ankeny with the signal and diverters, reducing a driving lane on 12th would make that intersection even better.

Drivers who need a large road to drive north-south on can use one of the 14 lanes offered by Grand/MLK and I-5.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  dw

Diverters on Ankeny? Oh… are they diverters-in-name-only like on 15th & Ankeny?

dw
dw
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

No, they’re adding a couple diverters to restrict driving movements on to and off of Ankeny, as well as a signal at the 12th/Sandy/Ankeny intersection.

Screenshot-2023-05-12-at-8.53.37-AM-scaled
Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
6 months ago
Reply to  dw

Contractor said it’s going to be under construction for a year plus. Job security I guess. Unsafe until then

Pkjb
Pkjb
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

I’ve seen cars drive through those diverters. They are definitely wide enough for sedans and small trucks to thread the needle. But compliance generally seems pretty good with those diverters. Do you disagree?

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

I object to PBOT using our tax dollars to install diverters that admit cars. at his seems like a textbook example of self-defeating infrastructure. I don’t know about day-to-day compliance but the tire marks on the yellow curbs there indicate even those with wider cars (or poorer steering control) drive through there enough to leave a signature.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

PBOT is very reluctant to do things that block emergency access.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This – your repeated invocation of this notion – is getting tiresome. I don’t believe it has any merit applied to these diverters. The cylindrical concrete planters that used to be at 15th & Ankeny (for years) before the present treatment, left a space appropriate for bikes and about half the current width. How does that square with your emergency vehicle width notion? Most diverters are actually too narrow for cars (the point, surely). Just these at Ankeny are each 7’10” wide, which doesn’t comport with any manual or guide anyone has so far produced.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

I’m just repeating what I’ve heard PBOT officials say.

You offer no alternate explanation besides a vague notion that PBOT is so completely incompetent that they don’t realize cars can bypass their diverters.

And I think it is objectively true that PBOT is very reluctant to do things that block emergency access.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“I’m just repeating what I’ve heard PBOT officials say.”

Have they said this in relation to the diverters on Ankeny & 15th? If so perhaps you or they could explain why that diverter triggered a self-defeating emergency vehicle width override, and not any others that I am aware of?

“You offer no alternate explanation besides a vague notion that PBOT is so completely incompetent that they don’t realize cars can bypass their diverters.”

That is not a vague notion. I suggested this five years ago and have been waiting all this time for someone in a decision making capacity at PBOT to set me straight or explain their mystifying infrastructure at this location.

“And I think it is objectively true that PBOT is very reluctant to do things that block emergency access.”

Reluctant?
Talk about vague.
In a bureaucracy reluctance doesn’t exist, cannot be meaningfully acted upon; but there are statutes and codes and rules and procedures that shall be followed. Someone surely can point to a relevant code that spells out why and when diverters shall be rendered meaningless but nevertheless installed because of emergency vehicle access concerns. In the absence of that I shall consider your observations to be hand waving.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Have they said this in relation to the diverters on Ankeny & 15th?

Not to me, no. I get that you find my explanation implausible for some reason (have you ever attended a meeting about any sort of traffic calming where emergency access wasn’t mentioned?) But that’s fine; I don’t feel the need to convince you. It is utterly unimportant.

Carry on.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

We are (still) talking past each other, apparently.

What I don’t understand is why have traffic calming (diverters, speed tables) at all if—as you are suggesting—the emergency vehicle argument can or will be invoked to upend/overrule/circumvent/eviscerate the traffic calming objective? If that is as you say, why not skip the effort, save the money, do something more meaningful with it? That is the main part you have yet to explain.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Where priorities conflict, you have to make a choice, and Portland has decided emergency response is more important than traffic calming. Apparently PBOT thinks a diverter that works 95% of the time is still worthwhile.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You are starting to sound like paiki(k)ala- anonymously speaking on behalf of PBOT. The whole thing – and your argument here – strike me as curious.
Would anyone at PBOT be willing to go to bat for car-infrastructure that worked (made up # – 95%) of the time? I’ve never heard of such a thing, and am doubtful an example can be found, but you are smart and crafty – perhaps you can think of one?

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

It simply a question of what tradeoffs are you willing to make to get the diverter to 99% effective? Apparently PBOT is not willing to give up emergency access for that last increment of effectiveness. Perhaps you are. It’s all about what you’re willing to give up.

I think PBOT is probably right, but I don’t care enough to argue about it.

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts,
your imperious tone in these discussions is perplexing. You come across as always in-the-know yet are reliably circumspect when it comes to specifics. I have long suspected that you sometimes blow smoke.
When you use the phrase emergency vehicles I am assuming you have in mind the fire trucks which most people who use that term mean? If so then it would probably be worth checking whether those actually fit between the formerly yellow, now heavily blackened curbs at the 15th & Ankeny diverters, so-called. Because while 7’10” is absurdly over-wide when it come to bicycles, or bicycles+trailers, or even many cars, a fire truck is, really, a different thing.
It is much too wet out there right now to go measure the outside width of a fire truck’s rear wheels, but this document from the City of Portland: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/fire/article/797514
spells out clearances far greater than the gaps on Ankeny. I suspect that in reality a standard fire truck width is 8’+, certainly a number that can be ascertained.
If I’m right, then your conjecture about what was installed on Ankeny & 15th is not just foolish but mendacious: An easily overridden ‘diverter’ which nevertheless does not admit fire trucks. Not only did PBOT waste our tax money on self-defeating infrastructure; you, like paiki(k)ala before you, carry water for imagined rationales that don’t upon examination turn out to be valid. What gives?

9watts
9watts
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

Further investigation suggests 98-100” is standard for single rear axle fire trucks.

cct
cct
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

My understanding is that PBOT has been lying about this for some time – Fire was recently asked about placing speed tables on a nearby street and they stated flatly they would be no problem, despite PBOT claiming for YEARS that Fire objected to them.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  cct

If I had sufficient evidence that PBOT was lying in a sustained manner, I’d believe they were. But absent that, and with no apparent motive, I have to trust that what PBOT says is true, or, at worst, a miscommunication.

In your anecdote, I don’t know who asked, who answered, what the context was, what their level of knowledge was, whether they were representing personal or official position, how long-standing that position was, whether PBOT staff is aware of any changes in that position, etc.

I have no skin in this issue one way or the other, so absent any real evidence, I’ll fall back on my default mode of being skeptical of conspiracy.

John V
John V
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

and with no apparent motive

This is a joke, right? You’re joking. The motive is completely free, high speed, unrestricted access to motor vehicles and terror of causing anyone to ever have to take a different route or slow down. They make gestures towards calming but it is almost always half assed and sub par.

You must be bad at poker because without being able to see someone’s cards, you have to assume everything they say is the complete truth.

John V
John V
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The emergency vehicle argument is such a bogus excuse for doing bad infrastructure. I hate that this nonsense is trotted out all the time for why we can’t have something as simple as speed bumps anymore, even though none of it would have any actual impact on emergency vehicles. It’s not like traffic diverters block cars from getting to a road, they block one particular route, and just like local traffic, emergency vehicles can take a different route. It’s not hard. It’s all on maps. Same with speed bumps – they can slow down or use another route. It has no impact on emergency access.

So any time someone tries to make that excuse, I just assume they are lying because they don’t want to do something. It’s a useful excuse and convinces some people who just believe whatever an official says.

Pkjb
Pkjb
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

I agree. I’d rather see narrower gaps that can’t be used by cars. But I’d rather have that sub par diverter than the barrels they installed at Greenway entrances that some refer to as beg barrels. Those are totally useless.

AMA
AMA
6 months ago
Reply to  9watts

The 15th diverter works fine now.

Liz
Liz
6 months ago

Always great to see new bike lanes. However, I still cannot believe PBOT is building unprotected bike lanes that will lead to accidents and harm for vulnerable road users. I think language matters and we should be naming these not as buffered lanes but as unprotected and dangerous bike lanes. I drive and ride in this area, and cars go so fast down 12th (and it’s couplet on 11th) that this doesn’t feel like it’s a great solution. Not to mention that how do people get back up on 11th without any bike lanes there? I hate to be a Debbie downer, but this doesn’t feel like much of a win. We need much better infrastructure and we need it yesterday, and every time we celebrate unprotected bike lanes as a win, we tell vulnerable bike riders that their lives don’t really matter to policymakers.

maxD
maxD
6 months ago

That is a nice gap to fill in. I agree that the matching lanes on 1th are needed, and it is a no-brainer to extend these to Ankeny. Did you notice if they reopened the crosswalk at 12th/Madison as part of this work?

Christopher of Portland
Christopher of Portland
6 months ago

I used to commute on 12th in the early morning since it was more direct to my destination than 7th or 16th. Division to Hawthorne was one of my favorite stretches to ride as fast as I could muster. Would’ve been nice to have a bike lane going the whole way to Ankeny. I remember bike lanes on 11th and 12th being presented as a possibility of some sort a few years ago and it’s good to see part of that happening.

blumdrew
6 months ago

As someone who rides the #70 with a devotion bordering on fanaticism, I think this layout is pretty awful for the bus. It basically makes the bus lane leading into the stop at Madison pointless (since the bus has to merge back in to traffic directly after), and feels like this should have been a shared lane if PBOT isn’t interested in a full rethink of 11th and 12th.

I think 11th and 12th are perfect candidates for a holistic rethink though. The 75 feet of right of way between the two streets are basically all for cars or parking. Why not decouple them and dedicate one for bus and bikes (ideally 12th) and the other for general purpose traffic?

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Brooklyn residents have in the past expressed strong opposition to a rethink of 11th/12th, as many see it as a key corridor for accessing the rest of the city.

If it were up to me, I would make both 11th & 12th one vehicle lane and one lane dedicated to bicycles.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

If it were up to me, I would make both 11th & 12th one vehicle lane and one lane dedicated to bicycles. a dedicated bus-bike lane.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

a dedicated bus-bike lane.

Perhaps; how would the bus pass cyclists? Use the auto lane?

blumdrew
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Brooklyn residents have in the past expressed strong opposition to a rethink of 11th/12th, as many see it as a key corridor for accessing the rest of the city.

I am a Brooklyn resident who is voicing this idea, and I know many others would agree that a rethink is a good idea. Find a different straw man.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I support the idea. I’m just pointing out that your neighbors have in the past expressed opposition to it.

If you can demonstrate support for the idea, perhaps via a neighborhood association endorsement, it would make it more likely to happen.

blumdrew
6 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Wow, great advice. If only I was on the land use and transportation committee for the Brooklyn Action Corps.

Watts
Watts
6 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Great! As I said, I like the idea, so the more support the better.

dw
dw
6 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I don’t think an entire bus lane is justified for a bus that runs every 20 minutes. Perhaps a shared bike bus lane instead?

blumdrew
6 months ago
Reply to  dw

The 70 should run more frequently! And 11th/12th can/should get more bus service – rerouting at least one of the 9/17/19 to 11th/12th and Hawthorne will be needed eventually imo. The bus stops at the Tilikum are really not suitable for much more service, especially if the A/B streetcar loop ever gets up to its promised 10 minute service.

But I agree that at least right now, this is a pretty good space for a shared bus/bike lane.

Champs
Champs
6 months ago

My rounds have been changing so I haven’t been using SE 12th lately, but why stop at Ankeny, just one block short of a contiguous lane all the way to Lloyd? You can’t have too many overpasses for I84.

Whether it’s protected or not… plastic wands are just vertical paint.

Fred
Fred
6 months ago
Reply to  Champs

But the wands make you FEEL safer, and that’s the whole point.

(Only slightly kidding here.)

Marvin
6 months ago

I was unfamiliar with the Multimodal Missing Links program until this story, thanks for sharing! It’s nice to see the city address these small yet important gaps in our infrastructure 🙂

Upon reading through the project page, I gave 311 a call to see how I may go about offering a suggesting for a decent gap to fill in my East Portland bike commute. The person on the other end of the line didn’t know how to help me, so perhaps I should reach out to the Capital Project Manager, Scott Johnson? We’ll see!

I live east of 205 and commute along SE Harold St. 4-5 days a week in addition to walking the neighborhood daily. The patchwork network of sidewalks and other sporadic bicycle/pedestrian treatments makes navigating my neighborhood as a pedestrian and bicycle rider stressful.

The gap between SE 104th and SE 122nd isn’t necessarily small, but it would be amazing to see some sort of anything with regards to bicycle riders and pedestrians be considered and built. Roundabouts at 111th and 122nd? A separated, two-way cycle track connecting 92nd to 136th? More trail development on all the East Buttes with safe, connected routes between them? Yahoo! I get excited thinking about how my neighborhood can become more friendly to folks outside of their cars.

I recently read about the project to connect the Springwater Corridor to SE 115th, which is a great start! I bike and walk the stretch of SE 111th between Springwater and Harold and it’s laughably sketch. Anyways, here’s to hoping some more projects make their way east of 205! We’re out here 🙂

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
6 months ago

I’ve been using it since it went in. It’s been a useful addition to the network

Pkjb
Pkjb
6 months ago

I bike across Hawthorne bridge for my work commute and use the Salmon green way to continue east. I’ve been in the habit of going north on seventh and then continuing east on salmon from there. I’ve seen the new bike lane on 12th, but never used it. I’ll have to try it out next time I go into work.

The first time I noticed the 12th bike lane, I saw multiple cars driving in it. That kind of soured my opinion of it from the start. But I’ve seen fewer cars driving in it since then. There are still many scofflaws, but compliance is greatly improved since day one, imo.

And I’ve almost been run over multiple times by cut-through drivers blowing through stop signs going from Hawthorne up towards Belmont when riding on salmon between seventh and twelfth. Maybe it’s time for a new route!

Andrewkpdx
Andrewkpdx
6 months ago

I have lived near 11/12th for a couple decades, and typically avoid riding on the stretch between Powell and Couch, unless I am in the mood to ride around 20mph to move with traffic, otherwise I defer to the many options just a couple blocks East or West.

EP
EP
6 months ago

Without physical protection, painted lanes are meaningless. I just watched this video of a PPB vehicle pursuit from last week. The chase starts around 1:00 on Burnside and 99th. The driver is all over the place and in and out of vehicle lanes and bike lanes. Then the guy races all the way over to 68th and down the bike route at 2:30, then over to and down Glisan, luckily avoiding a pedestrian in a crosswalk at Fred Meyer after he passes all the cars that stopped for the person walking at 3:10!

Yes, a vehicle pursuit is isolated, but the kind of driving he’s doing is commonly seen everyday. There are so many parts of this chase where you can see bad and dangerous driver behavior and fortunately no one was biking or walking in the way of this driver. Our bike lanes need to be truly protected from drivers, we need to limit dangerous behavior with physical infrastructure, and paint just doesn’t do the job.

https://youtu.be/zoF-BkzRyV8

Fred
Fred
6 months ago
Reply to  EP

As horrified as I am by the behavior of this driver, who should be locked away for life, IMHO, I don’t think you can make infrastructure decisions based on outlier behavior.

We make a much stronger argument when we point to everyday driver behaviors, and if you look at any road anywhere, drivers run off the road at EVERY point in the roadway, over time. Let’s use that argument to harden infrastructure.

EP
EP
6 months ago
Reply to  Fred

We are in agreement that this driver’s extreme behavior is an exception, and that stopping drivers like him should not be the true goal. But, as I wrote, he still shows common everyday driver behaviors, albeit at a faster rate of speed, and those are the problems we need to defend vulnerable road users against.

We don’t need to design roads to stop car chases, but we DO need to add physical barriers to stop many of the driving movements he did at many of the most dangerous points shown in the video, which countless other drivers do every day. Sadly, we can’t get the will together at PBOT/etc. to harden the entire bike network, or at least some major routes therein.