The City of Portland says a neighborhood traffic diverter that was vehemently opposed by many residents of a northeast Portland neighborhood is working as planned.
When the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association put the planned diverter on Northeast Fremont at Alameda on a meeting agenda in March 2022, over 70 people logged on. Many of them voiced concerns that the expected safety benefits of the project would not be worth a loss of convenience while driving and/or an increase in cut-through traffic.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation proposed the diverter to improve safety on NE Fremont (a neighborhood collector street), make it easier for bikers and walkers to cross at Alameda, and reduce the amount of drivers on the Alameda/37th neighborhood greenway route. Even though PBOT’s plan was to only make it a pilot project, the BWNA board voted it down 7-4.
After months of back-and-forth with members of the board, PBOT decided to push forward with their plan despite the neighbor’s concerns. The project included a diverter made with plastic delineator wands and curbs placed in the middle of the intersection with gaps for walkers and bikers to cross. The diverter prohibits car users from crossing north-south on Alameda and from making left turns from any direction. PBOT also added green cross-bike markings.
PBOT released results of an analysis of traffic counts on streets in the area earlier this week (see below). In a statement posted on the project’s (rather comprehensive and large for a project this size) website PBOT said, “The project is meeting success factors outlined before implementation.”
According to PBOT data collected at 22 locations before the project and 15 locations after installation, there’s been a significant decrease in car users on the Alameda greenway and there have been “no significant impacts” to nearby local streets or to traffic on NE Fremont.
In May 2022, PBOT counted 1,073 cars on the Alameda greenway north of Fremont (blue circle above). In September of this year (about seven months after the diverter was installed), PBOT counted 701 cars at the same location — a 35% reduction. (PBOT’s guidelines say traffic volume, “should not exceed 1,000 cars per day” on neighborhood greenway streets.)
When PBOT installs a diverter, they expect some additional trips by car on adjacent local streets. That’s why they do so much analysis: If the daily auto volume rises above the threshold amount of 1,000 cars per day, PBOT will consider additional changes and/or more diversion until the traffic moves to the highest order street in the area.
On that note, there are two streets PBOT says they’ll continue to monitor due to a worrying trend of too many cars: NE 38th south of Fremont and NE Klickitat west of Alameda.
The increase of drivers on that section of Klickitat (see orange circle above) is notable because not only is it a neighborhood greenway, it’s also the route of the World Famous Alameda Elementary School Bike Bus. In May 2022 PBOT counted 650 cars per day on Klickitat just west of NE 37th. After the diverter went in, they counted 1,005 trips by car on Klickitat just east of Alameda. This 35% increase is troubling and PBOT says they’ll continue to monitor the location.
This and other issues related to the project will be discussed at a meeting of the BWNA on December 11th where PBOT staff will present results of this report.