ODOT will build protected intersection to boost bicycling safety in West Linn

ODOT concept drawing of the new intersection.

West Linn, a city about 12 miles south of Portland, will be one of the first places in the state where the Oregon Department of Transportation builds a protected intersection. Protected intersections are considered the gold standard of protection for bicycle riders and walkers because they come with raised corner curb islands, physical separation from other road users, better visibility at crossings, and other safety elements.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the final design stage of a protected intersection on Willamette Drive (OR 43) at Marylhurst Drive/Lazy River Dr. The $7 million project is part of a larger streetscape project that includes a continuous cycle track and other safety updates on Willamette Drive between Mary S. Young park and the city’s northern limit near Marylhurst University.

Here’s more about the project from a recent ODOT update:

Protected intersection designs are intended to extend the safe environment for bicyclists and pedestrians through use of raised corner islands, forward stop bars for bicyclists, and well defined marked crossings. These defenses make it clear to all users where bicyclists are, provide physical protection in the queuing area, and further increase bicyclist visibility by allowing them early entry into the intersection ahead of right turning vehicles.

ODOT also says the project will reduce crossing distances and come with updated signal operations to reduce conflicts.

The protected intersection concept made a big splash in local planning and engineering circles when it was proposed by Portland-based planner Nick Falbo in 2014. Falbo was inspired by Dutch examples and he’s largely credited with pushing the concept into the mainstream in America. Falbo went on to work at the Portland Bureau of Transportation and has recently left that job for a private company (he’s based locally still, but the company he works with is based in The Netherlands). You can learn more about the design at Falbo’s website, protectedintersection.com.

There are a few examples of protected intersections in Portland. West Burnside at 19th is a partial one and TriMet installed a few on SE Division as part of the FX2 project.

The West Linn project is expected to break ground in early 2025. Learn more on ODOT’s 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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alex
alex
3 months ago

A little local information: The whole project from the city limits to MSY park was part of metro’s bond a couple years back and after that failed they scaled it back to the marylhurst intersection and a small stretch between cedar oak and hidden springs, that second part was in conjunction with a city project to realign old river road with hidden springs. That fell apart because of the church whose property was being eminent domained for the realignment. The image at the top of the article is actually the hidden springs/old river intersection that is not being built. So now the project is down to just the one intersection. Nice to see some ODOT investment in the area but also sad to see this get whittled down to such a small project.

rick
rick
3 months ago
Reply to  alex

Why isn’t this being done to where highway 43 meets I-205? The part of I-205 southbound at 43? How did the deal fall apart by the church?

alex
alex
3 months ago
Reply to  rick

The plan is for all of 43 in West Linn to have sidewalks and cycle track, city limits to msy park was just the first section they were focusing on. Not sure what happened with the church, the old river realignment isn’t really critical, odot just wants to get rid of the traffic light at cedar oak for traffic flow purposes.

C
C
3 months ago
Reply to  alex

Didn’t we vote in a bond promising us improved bike lanes for this project? My money certainly hasn’t even gone to fill even single pothole or fund a street sweeper. Welcome to Clackastan County.

Steven
Steven
3 months ago

Certainly an improvement on the usual “mixing zone” approach. However, the turning angles of the bike path in ODOT’s illustration look too sharp for comfort, probably because they were unwilling to reduce the turning radii for cars and freight vehicles. A Dutch-style junction makes the path for cyclists as smooth and continuous as possible.

“Junction design, the Dutch – cycle friendly – way” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA&ab_channel=BicycleDutch

Ben Fryback
Ben Fryback
3 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Space a big constraint here. Steep slopes on either minor approach would require significant regrading if the intersection was made larger.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Yes, the sharp turns are really evident when you compare this view in your video:

https://youtu.be/FlApbxLz6pA?t=84

to the rendering and concept diagram from ODOT in the article. The rendering and concept diagram don’t match, but they both show some really tight, near-90 degree turns, vs. the smooth curves of the video’s example.

It looks to me like what you get when you show an engineer or drafter a good example, but they don’t have any personal understanding of it, so they don’t realize that what they’re designing is a poor copy of the good example.

And it very well could be they started with wanting a particular, generous turning radius for cars, then crammed the bike routes into the leftover space, instead of considering both as important.

AnotherDoug
AnotherDoug
3 months ago
Reply to  qqq

God forbid doing anything that negatively affects motor vehicles flying through the intersection.

John D.
John D.
3 months ago

Interesting. Is this the first protected intersection that ODOT has built in the Metro area?

Metro and TriMet are working on the Tualatin Valley Rapid Transit Project in Washington County. It would be an incredible safety improvement if we could get some of these installed along that corridor, given the high number of crashes.

Ben Fryback
Ben Fryback
3 months ago
Reply to  John D.

First ODOT protected intersection ever

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

I *hate* these so-called “protected” intersections. They infantilize cyclists and slow everyone down. Every cyclist learns how to avoid right hooks over time. Yuck.

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Oof. Get out of here with the vehicular cycling elitism. Regular people feel so much more comfortable riding a bike on this kind of infrastructure. Do you think sidewalks “infantilize” people walking?

Chris I
Chris I
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

I’m normally opposed to the VC attitude, but this particular intersection looks pretty half-assed. I’m not sure it’s going to be any safer than a standard mixing zone, because those curves are still pretty generous, so cars are still going to fly around the corners. The main different seems to be that cyclists will need to slow down and navigate the gauntlet on each side. Imagine every intersection being like this on a long ride…

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Cars get to go straight, but bikes have islands in their way and have to run the gauntlet.

Granpa
Granpa
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

“Every cyclist that survives learns how to avoid right hooks over time “
There fixed

maxD
maxD
3 months ago

I looked at the protected intersection diagrams on Nick’s website- the design allows bikes to travel in pretty direct path through the intersection. What ODOT is proposing is really hostile to bikes, forcing them to deviate from their path through fairly sharp turns. When I ride through an intersection, even if it is protected, I am very alert to movements of other drivers overtaking me, approaching me from the sides and front and tracking the signal. I think it is very unwelcome to introduce such a convoluted path into such a stressful situation. I am proponent of protected intersections, and I believe they can be a valuable safety addition, but if they are designed poorly, they can introduce new hazards. I think the geometry of these proposals is terrible and I hope ODOT fixes thee in development before they get built

Drew
Drew
3 months ago

West Linn is 12 miles south of Portland (ish), but not 20. It’s trite I know but given how insufferable the tone is for a lot of the articles on this site are, this comment is spot on.

JustBecause
3 months ago

It only works if cars stay behind the painted lines, which they never do in my city, and having raised crosswalks would also act like speed bumps and remind vehicles they stopped to far onto the crosswalk!!!

Chris I
Chris I
3 months ago

This is trash, and probably worse than a standard intersection. The corner islands need to be pushed out into the intersection, allowing cyclists to continue straight and decreasing the turn radius. What ODOT has done here is keep the turn radius the same and just push the bike lane off into the corner. The result is an intersection that will see the same car speeds, but slow down cyclists to a snails pace as they navigate the gauntlet on each end. This is a waste of resources.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

well said, Chris.
COTW!

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

The bottom diagram has a label that says “shorter crosswalks”. That’s great (when I’m walking, I love curb extensions), but in this case, the crosswalks don’t seem shorter at all, unless you count standing in the bike lane as part of the sidewalk, which I don’t.

Where can I see a shorter walk for pedestrians crossing lanes of traffic than in a conventional intersection? These crosswalks seem longer than an intersection with curb extensions.