Here’s how PBOT will connect NE Hancock greenway across Sandy Blvd

(Google map with annotations by BikePortland)

Remember a few years ago when the Portland Bureau of Transportation decided there were just “too many cars” on NE Tillamook near Grant High School to keep the neighborhood greenway route on that street? That realization led them to shift the route one block south the NE Hancock east of 33rd Avenue and they’ve since made significant changes to turn it into a bike-friendly street.

The big challenge with this route is how to get greenway users from Hancock and 42nd across Sandy Boulevard at 43rd. Sandy is a stressful street to cross (illustrated by a recent serious injury collision involving a very experienced bicycle rider) because it’s on a diagonal and has four lanes of drivers with no shoulder and a 30 mph speed limit. Adding to the equation is Kelly Plaza, a one-block section on the north side of Sandy between 42nd and 43rd that meets Sandy at an oblique angle.

BikePortland hinted at the Kelly Plaza issue back in early 2021 and now PBOT has released detailed plans for how they’ll make the crossing work.

According to newly released drawings (above), PBOT will build a new cycling path on top of what is now an on-street parking lane. That path will then orient riders to cross Sandy with a bike-only signal that will help make the east-west connection onto Hancock. PBOT will add green striping to help guide bike riders across and warn other road users of the presence of a cycling route.

When it comes to getting bicycle riders through Kelly Plaza. A now outdated PBOT graphic showed striped bike lanes along the southern edge of the plaza that would connect to the new path along Sandy; but I didn’t see those stripes in the latest plan drawings. When I asked PBOT to clarify what they plan to do in the Plaza, spokesperson Hannah Schafer said, “Initial concepts considered striping bicycle facilities through the plaza, but after considering existing uses and community feedback, the design shifted to focus on improving accessibility to Kelly Plaza and how best to help people bicycling cross NE Sandy Boulevard.”

What PBOT means is that bicycle users will be encouraged and welcome to ride through the plaza, but it will be a shared-space environment with no striping or dedicated space so folks need to ride with caution and courtesy for others. That makes sense given that the plaza is more like a park than a transportation facility.

Construction on this project will start early next year and is expected to be complete before spring. More info on the project website.

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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David Raboin
David Raboin
5 months ago

I am excited about this new treatment. My family lives three blocks from this intersection. We cross Sandy at 43rd multiple times a day. I think this change will be a huge improvement.

After making hundreds of neighborhood traverses with kids in tow, I’ve found that the best way to travel east-west through Hollywood is on Hancock via Kelly Plaza. This route isn’t the fastest due to the lights, but it’s the lowest stress route because it avoids the door zone on 43rd and Grant. It also avoids the dreaded left turn from 43rd onto Grant (I don’t mind that turn when biking by myself, but it’s the worst when trying to cross with young kids). This new treatment will eliminate the worst part of the Hancock Crossing: the double crosswalk crossing at Sandy.

Sandy effectively cuts our neighborhood in two, especially for kids who are too young to cross without supervision. Anything that helps make Sandy more pedestrian-friendly will be great for the neighborhood. Last year, my daughter was hit by a car while crossing Sandy on her walk to Grant HS. Thankfully the car only grazed her and she was fine, but it could’ve been much worse.

While they’re at it, PBOT should consider placing bollards at all corners of the 43rd and Sandy intersection. That crossing has to be the busiest pedestrian crossing outside of downtown, yet pedestrians are completely exposed to high-speed traffic while waiting for the light to change. Last summer, a friend of ours was in a car wreck at that intersection and you can still see the broken planter marking the spot where the out-of-control vehicles went up onto the sidewalk. At least they have planters on that side of the street. In front of Whole Foods, there’s no protection at all. That corner is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Hollywood is looking rough these days: Target closed, Rite Aid closed, Starbucks closed, Magnolia closed, Pono closed, Laurelwood closed, Chameleon closed, Sparks closed, Velo Cult closed, Nector closed, Teal Flamingo closed. This neighborhood desperately needs a win.

Michael
Michael
5 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

For what it’s worth, it’s probably fine to just make the simple left turn from Hancock to the NW corner of 43rd & Sandy and vice versa when traveling down Hancock, rather than the double crosswalk maneuver. The pedestrian signals lead motor traffic, so you get a few seconds of what is essentially a protected left turn to get across the intersection. Maybe not a maneuver you want to do if you’re with young kids, but I’ve never had a problem doing it solo or with other adults.

David Raboin
David Raboin
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Oh yeah, when I’m by myself I cut across while both lights are on red. I find a fair amount of satisfaction in beating that intersection while twenty drivers wait at the bi-directional red light. PBOT’s new treatment will hopefully make our currently illegal move the rule of the intersection.

Michael
Michael
6 months ago

This intersection is a regular part of my commute and definitely one of the sketchiest parts of it (taking a left off of Multnomah near Lloyd Center is also always a bit nervewracking). I always feel a bit bad as I try to get through the plaza. I’m very pleased to see improvements in the works!

Michael
Michael
6 months ago

I’ll also say, as a frequent user of this section of the NE Hancock Greenway, that light at the intersection of Hancock and 42nd is the WORST. I hope the plan includes improvements to the signal timing. Best case scenario is to include bicycle sensors in the pavement and loop in the pedestrian beg buttons into the signal control logic. Almost every morning I get intersection heading westbound and the signal takes ages to turn with very sparse north/south traffic on 42nd, and I end up just running the red light after triple checking the cross traffic. The afternoon is only slightly better in that at least the cross traffic is heavier so I’m not tempted to cross illegally, but the interval still takes an incredibly long time.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
6 months ago

Can anyone add to the history of Kelly Plaza – the creation of the pedestrianized former trolly car stop / right of way from the 1980s? Old photos from the 1920s/ 1930s?
https://cyclotram.blogspot.com/2014/09/harold-kelley-plaza.html

mhl@mlinehan.us
mhl@mlinehan.us
6 months ago

From the drawings, it appears that the “cross bike” green stripes will only be painted at the edges of Sandy and NE 42nd. They would be a lot more effective if extended all the way across both.

dw
dw
6 months ago

…PBOT will build a new cycling path on top of what is now an on-street parking lane

Better make sure they do all the public outreach to make sure that nearby home owners approve of this so they don’t have to tear it out a month later!

Jokes aside, this crossing is a welcome addition. Getting across Sandy is always sketchy so it will be nice to have a more comfortable place to cross. Especially given the proximity and connection to Hollywood TC.

idlebytes
idlebytes
5 months ago

As others have pointed out this intersection takes forever to get across and adding in a bike only crossing will make it take even longer. I’ll probably just keep doing what I already do: westbound cross 43rd and take the crosswalk across Sandy and eastbound turn left onto Sandy from 42nd and head to Hancock.

It’s nice and all and if the timing works out I’ll use it but with a beg button it’s less reliable than using the set timing of the other crossings.

Chris I
Chris I
5 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’d love to see an “all walk” type configuration for this intersection. That would allow cyclists and pedestrians to scramble across while all drivers get a red. This would at least prevent the bike crossing from adding more cycle time. They could also eliminate left from Sandy here.

David Raboin
David Raboin
5 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

That’s true about wait times, but this change will make getting across with kids so much easier. I cross this intersection with my son several times a week, both on bikes and on foot, and we usually have to wait for cross signals for both Sandy and 43rd. One diagonal cross signal will greatly simplify my neighborhood transit problems.

X
X
5 months ago

“…but it will be a shared-space environment with striping or dedicated space so folks need to ride with caution and courtesy for others.”

Is this missing the word ‘no’?

I’m fine sharing space with people walking but I’m also aware that my view is almost always from a bike.

This is a familiar situation: PBOT can’t figure out how to route a bike thoroughfare without taking something from cars so it nibbles a park instead. We have a stuck bike route in NE Portland and about the only idea on the table is to route a city-wide bike street through Irving Park. That steals space from the park, it guarantees more bike-ped interactions, and the terrain isn’t favorable. It’s a pretty unwelcome slowdown on a route meant to conduct bike riders across town at safely and quickly. We don’t retrofit stoplights onto freeways, do we?

Nathan
Nathan
5 months ago
Reply to  X

I cycle this weekly commuting, NE Tillamook to NE43 then crossing south across Sandy has never been an issue.

Nathan
Nathan
5 months ago

I bike through Hollywood EVERY week commuting and have never considered NE Tillamook as too car heavy. Seemingly the cycling street signs and googlemaps never were updated to even advise me to use NE Hancock, well at least until after NE43rd when i cross Sandy at the Whole Foods, as I need to go south eventually anyways. Afterwhich the bike route is from then eastward designated as NE Hancock.

In my opinion there is more immediate needs then quavvaling about moving the bike route from NE33 to NE43 through Hollywood onto Hancock.

foobike
foobike
5 months ago

As others have mentioned, I’ll probably stick to Tillamook to 43rd if looking to cross Sandy here. I live close by and will often do Hancock-38th-Tillamook-43rd to achieve this maneuver, in order to avoid the clueless drivers around Grant Park/HS during peak frenzied driving times and also to avoid the crappy Hancock/42nd intersection noted by others. Not ideal but not bad either.

Some initial thoughts on this solution:

Yeah definitely, need to improve that Hancock/42nd light for cyclists looking to make that cut throughHope they design the access point to that 2-way bike path along Sandy with care: sightlines and angle/width will be important to avoid conflicts between riders leaving and entering the plaza from that bike path at the same time. Here’s a hint: use the poorly designed access point at NE Wasco/NE28th onto the 2-way bike path on NE 28th crossing 84 as an example of how *not* to do this.Guessing they’ll install those good ol’ trusty plastic wands to protect the bike path from cars on Sandy? Better keep an endless supply of them handy because they’ll get taken out constantly.I don’t suppose there’s any way to make use of the vacant Rite Aid space to help solve this puzzle? Some ideas off the top: knock it down and create a full-block urban park there as a replacement for Kelly Plaza (call it Kelly Plaza v2) and then convert the old Kelly Plaza into a dedicated space for bikes making that connection; or make the garage available to businesses on that corner (Laughing Planet, eg), then convert the cramped parking lot there into a dedicated bike cut-through path; or something fun like a bike ramp from the RiteAid rooftop parking over Sandy (thinking totally out-of-the-box here, why not!).Aside: I frequently go through or around that Kelly Plaza daily on foot or bike, often multiple times in a day, and I’ve never seen it look as nice and “park”-like as depicted in those photos, had to do a double-take.

Bill
Bill
5 months ago

These are the same folks who figured out the west end of the Sellwood Bridge. I never know what signal is for which lane. I usually turn right,and there are red lights and green lights simultaneously lit up.

I believe there are pedestrian lights, bicycle lights, right turn motorized lights, left turn motorized lights and thru motorized lights. Usually, I am turning right heading to Portland. It is just incredibly confusing.

I wind up ignoring the lights and just go with the flow of motorized traffic.

JR
JR
5 months ago

I much prefer the Hancock bikeway to Tillamook west of Hollywood and have struggled to find a good crossing of Sandy. The Hancock crossing of 33rd is the best. Improving this crossing at Sandy could help make the bikeway even better if it is intuitive to use at the plaza.