PBOT ponders safe bike route from SW Terwilliger to 4th

SW Terwilliger on the left, to new left-side bike lanes on 4th on the right.

In the next month or so, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will break ground on a $17 million investment into Southwest 4th Avenue. The project will rebuild and repave this key northbound corridor through downtown from Lincoln to Burnside and add a protected bikeway and many other upgrades. Once complete, PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller said, “The 4th Avenue protected bike lane is going to be the premier northbound bike lane through downtown.”

But a high quality bikeway is only as good as the connections to it. And as PBOT staff heard loud and clear last night, if the city is not willing to battle the car-centric status quo to create a high-quality connection, projects like the one planned on SW 4th Avenue will not reach their potential.

At the first in-person meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee in four years (!) on Tuesday night, PBOT Planner Corrine McQueen asked for feedback on six different options the city has sketched out to get bicycle riders from the existing bike lane on SW Terwilliger to northbound SW 4th. McQueen leads the Southwest in Motion (SWIM) plan, which is where the need for a Terwilliger-to-4th connection arose, and said at the meeting last night, “We view this as a huge opportunity to integrate this SWIM project with the SW 4th project.”

An in-person meeting for the first time in four years. (Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Terwilliger (SW 6th north of I-405) is a popular route with a bike lane but it’s separated from 4th by two blocks of multi-lane, one-way streets. And they aren’t just any streets. Due to their proximity to I-405 and the use of streets in this area as de-facto freeway ramps, the confluence of SW Barbur, Broadway, Caruthers and Sheridan are a loud and busy nightmare for anyone not inside a car.

McQueen laid out the six detailed options and went over a lengthy list of pros and cons for each one. Before I get into how BAC members responded, I’ll share the slide for each option:

After BAC members shared a few general opinions with McQueen and Geller, BAC Chair Ally Holmqvist took an informal poll. Options 2B and 2C were the favorites. But as the discussion continued, it became clear that none of the options were a clear winner, and that all the options would require strong law enforcement to work (and to keep bicycle riders safe). Several BAC members expressed that none of the options passed muster and said they’d rather keep riding on Terwilliger/6th across I-405 and then cut over to 4th further north.

“What if bicycles were the priority here and you could do anything you wanted — and the cars had to be displaced?

– Joe Perez, BAC vice-chair

Then BAC Vice-Chair Joe Perez said what was I thinking in my own head as I sat and observed the meeting. “What if bicycles were the priority here and you could do anything you wanted — and the cars had to be displaced? When is that going to be an option on the table? It seems like you’re trying to make bicycling more attractive than driving, you’re trying to make walking more attractive to driving, you’re trying to make transit more attractive than driving? Why are we not doing that with this project?”

“Well, get three votes with this on council,” Geller responded.

To which Perez said, “Well, there will be a new council in January, so maybe we should delay this decision until then… You’re putting us in a difficult situation, to pick the least worst of the worst options.”

Perez’s sentiments were echoed by a few other BAC members, who now felt empowered to say something similar now that he’d broken the ice.

“I agree completely,” said committee member Alon Raab. “It’s been an issue since I became a member of the committee and I’ve been thinking about that gap between what I want and what seems to be possible within this current city council.”

And Cameron Bennett added,

“It seems like the barrier we’re up against is that we just have a wildly high volume of vehicle through traffic in this area… Is there any higher-level conversation about reorganizing vehicle movement patterns in this area? Because that could free up a lot of flexibility to do more with this project or to provide some more straightforward solutions. It just seems like there’s a lot of complexity here that maybe could be dialed-down with significant capacity reductions.

At the end of the day, if we’re going to be true to our plans at the city level, that’s got to be part of the conversation, right? To make it harder to drive and reduce the volume of people driving.”

McQueen, the project manager, acknowledged that adjusting car traffic patterns hadn’t been considered by PBOT, “But it’s definitely worth considering,” she replied.

While other options are considered, PBOT needs a recommendation from the BAC in the next few months to get this project aligned with construction of the larger SW 4th Avenue project. Despite the spicy comments at the meeting, there is a strong sense that getting something done in the short-term to connect to 4th is important. The BAC plans to meet for a tour of the area in the coming weeks to better understand the issues and help inform a recommendation.

Stay tuned for developments and let us know what you think. Do you move through this area? How would you prefer to get from Terwilliger northbound to 4th Ave?

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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Matti
Matti
1 month ago

What would the options look like if the 4th Avenue improvements between Lincoln and Burnside placed the protected bike lane on the right hand side of 4th instead of the left as planned?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Matti

Excellent point, Matti. Absent a truly compelling reason to put the lane on the left, it needs to stay on the right and follow the usual paradigm.

Remember that it’s just as easy to left-hook cyclists as it is to right-hook them. I was almost left-hooked on North Williams – the closest I’ve come to getting killed in Portland. Thank goodness a trucker laid on his horn and alerted the driver who almost ran me over.

Al
Al
1 month ago
Reply to  Matti

Agreed. Nevermind that most people (I imagine) will ignore a potential new configuration to take the 6th > College > 4th route, but if you’re trying to access Naito (or anything eastbound coming from Terwilliger), why is having to merge across a proposed four lanes of traffic to go east on Harrison any different than merging across the single I-405 off ramp lane on 6th? All of these options are terrible and heavily prioritize car traffic.

Bstedman
Bstedman
1 month ago

I bike commute through this area going from Terwilliger to 4th. Currently I go north across 405 and then east on Harrison. All not very pleasant. My favorite would actually be C. I feel Caruthers is the street with the least car traffic and could easily be reduced to one car lane, which would make room for a nice wide protected bikelan, maybe even bidirectional and get a protected bikelane on 5th Ave across 405 and Broadway. Would give us a good connection the other way.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Bstedman

I agree, Bsted. I’ll bet almost no one on the BAC rides this area regularly and appreciates the nuances.

PBOT, please treat the vote of the BAC as advisory only and probably not well-informed.

David Stein
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Just because details didn’t make their way in the article doesn’t mean the conversation didn’t happen. As someone who has ridden through this area many hundreds of times (and a BAC member at that) I spent a few minutes covering a lot of the minutia of this area for everyone, particularly during the morning rush hour when drivers are at their worst where it pertains to 4th and in the evening when 5th/Sheridan are a mess. This exact line of thinking was verbalized that people taking Terwilliger down the hill generally cross 405 first before cutting over to 4th. PBOT is just looking for a feasible way to make 4th accessible for people riding bikes since that is going to provide the best riding environment compared to the car-oriented development just down the street that ODOT has provided for everyone. Since this is so late in the process there are limitations to what can happen within the budget and options that involve changes to traffic signals are not cheap.

Caruthers was not without problems including a significant safety concern as drivers aren’t exactly looking for bikes going against traffic and a garage entrance in the new building going up right now.

The BAC has multiple members with significant experience with this area, there was also a former BAC member in the meeting that also provided insights and feedback.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  David Stein

Good points, David, and I see you got eight up-votes from BAC members. 😉

But I guess I just don’t see why PBOT is so eager to make a great Terwillger-to-4th connection when the Barbur-to-4th connection is MUCH more important, in my mind.

As I said in my longer post, many cyclists don’t use Terwilliger unless they want a workout or they live above Terwilliger and can drop down to it and continue downtown. Otherwise Barbur is a much better choice for most cyclists.

Also consider that cyclists coming from Beaverton will use the Multnomah Blvd – Barbur connection, which is the only truly direct connection that isn’t really hilly. Terwilliger is really out of the way – and hilly – for that connection.

I just hope Roger & Co take all of these points into consideration before they make a big change that actually makes things worse, just to feature the 4th-Ave facility.

Karstan
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

“Otherwise Barbur is a much better choice for most cyclists.”

Strong disagree with you there. I ride both routes regularly and have for over 23 years. I only take Barbur if I’m running VERY late and time is extremely pressing (unfortunately this happens more than I’d like). I otherwise avoid Barbur at all costs. Autos regularly drive 50+mph and the gutter ODOT designated as a bike lane literally disappears in multiple spots.

I rarely see other bikes when I ride Burbur. I always see several when I ride Terwilliger.

Terwilliger has it’s own problems (hills, narrow gutter-turned-bike lane, speeding cars, overgrown invasive vegetation) but they’re outweighed by unmitigated disaster that ODOT has built into Barbur.

David Stein
28 days ago
Reply to  Fred

Karstan had a good reply and I’ll just add to it by noting that there isn’t a good route to downtown from SW Portland. Advocating for the use of Barbur is underselling the terrifying reality that is the dual threat of the Vermont and Newbury bridges. Terwilliger isn’t a walk in the park with the paint only bike lanes and regular blockages though it is still a slower environment due to the curving roadway.

The conundrum with questions like these is that trying to anticipate future usage of a facility is challenging because everyone has an opinion and comfort level as the comments in this thread should remind us all. All we can do is bring to light our many experiences and provide advice to PBOT at a relatively late stage in this project for a connection that is unthinkable with the current infrastructure.

SD
SD
1 month ago
Reply to  David Stein

This exact line of thinking was verbalized that people taking Terwilliger down the hill generally cross 405 first before cutting over to 4th.

I am curious what the split really is here. If I am going to 4th, I always drop down to Barbur before going over the 405 so I can go East on Harrison. This depends a lot on destination and whether people are traversing downtown or looking to get to the waterfront as directly as possible. The fact that this was the perception of the BAC gives me pause about the route planning mat this meeting. Was this based on data, and are those numbers, if they exist, the best way to approach this project?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

Good point. I’d also like to see the number of cyclists using Barbur vs the number using Terwilliger. If PBOT is going to prioritize Terwilliger, there should be a good reason for doing so.

SD
SD
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

Oops. I said east on Harrison, but I meant east on Lincoln.

David Stein
28 days ago
Reply to  SD

What numbers are going to be useful here? The goal is to encourage new trips, not reroute current ones. Given that ODOT has shown zero interest in making their section of Barbur safe for anyone (drivers included) I’m skeptical that people are going to be using the bike lanes to get from SW to downtown if they weren’t already. Terwilliger might not be ideal and I’d still look there for new riders though if the connection to 4th is poorly conceived and implemented then it just amounts to another missed opportunity. The hills are less of a concern given the uptake of e-assist bikes in SW Portland from what was shared in the recent bike count data.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Probably not, Fred.

SD
SD
1 month ago

I am wondering how this route will ultimately connect to Naito. Whenever I ride this route, it is to get from Terwilliger to Naito to ultimately go to east over a bridge.

SD
SD
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

I bring this up because a left sided bike lane would then require crossing multiple lanes of car traffic. The right side works well for this purpose now, not to mention that there is mostly left turning (hooking) cars in front of Suki’s. The downside of the right lane is negotiating the exit ramp traffic coming from behind and the relative disappearance of the bike lane.

PT
PT
1 month ago

Close exit 1C from I405 northbound.
(Having both exits 1B and 1C seems a bit silly.)

Have bikes proceed on north on 6th across 405, then use College to get down to 4th.

While you’re at it, make College a 1-way street heading east, to be paired with Hall heading only west.

rick
rick
1 month ago
Reply to  PT

I prefer using the SW Park Ave overpass over the 405 freeway to get to SW Lincoln Street to then go to SW Broadway. However, 405 needs a caps over it. Why not?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  rick

I hold my tongue because I don’t want to rain on the Rose Quarter capping project, but I agree with you and think capping the southern leg of I-405 is as worthy a project. Especially since this mess is also a result of a freeway cutting through a neighborhood (a neighborhood so totally decimated you wouldn’t know it even ever existed).

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  PT

I love this idea but ODOT will never close exit 1C b/c it’s needed for people coming from I-5 northbound to get downtown, since you can’t reach 1B unless there is no traffic coming on 405 westbound.

Only people who live south of downtown appreciate the need for this exit.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  PT

I think closing exit 1B makes more sense. I think removing a lane on 5th and Sheridan would slow these streets and make a much more humane streetscape- it functions as a highway ramp through the City now. Add a signal and 5ht/Sheridan and bikes could just use the left lane on Sheridan to access 4th.

It is extremely disappointing to hear that PBOT had not even considered altering driving patterns. This is supposed to a prominent northbound route for cycling, and they don’t even start with the premise of what the route would need ideally- they start at a severely compromised position and then make concessions from there. PBOT needs new leadership.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

I agree. Last time I rode through there, I swore I would never go that way again. Too many intersecting things, on a too wide downhill stretch.

Chris Wold
Chris Wold
1 month ago
Reply to  PT

I love the idea of closing exit 1C. The traffic coming off the freeway is easily, for me, the scariest part of this route. Traffic is coming fast and you have to turn your head all the way back to see cars — and do so on a very bumpy road. If the exit can’t be closed due to the concerns raised below, then redesign the exit ramp so that freeway traffic comes in at a right angle to 6th, and make cars come to a stop with a stop light or stop sign.

Jim Hook
Jim Hook
1 month ago

As the road is now, when I make this transition I cross I405 on 6th, make a prohibited right turn on College, and then pick up 4th. This has good “flow”, but has a challenging merge with an I405 off ramp and a prohibited crossing of the MAX tracks. It avoids some problematic parts of 4th and Sheridan.

A different framing of the problem may invite better solutions than those presented.

 
 
1 month ago

As someone who formerly had to pass through this mess every day, none of these options will make this area feel safe to ride through.

It wouldn’t surprise me if these streets have the highest volume of traffic of any surface streets in the entire city. But as far as I can tell there is no traffic count data available for them. For drivers they are the main route connecting US 26 to not only the Ross Island Bridge (and by extension all most of inner SE and Sellwood), but also Macadam (and by extension downtown Lake Oswego) and OHSU. It’s already an absolute nightmare to get through by any mode, be it walking, riding, driving, or taking transit.

Of the options presented I easily like the contraflow bike lane option on Caruthers the best. It’s the only street in the area that doesn’t serve as a de facto freeway ramp, and easily has the least traffic of any of the streets here. The crossing of Broadway will be stressful…but any crossing of any street here will be stressful.

Ideally this area would get a makeover where the freeway ramps are entirely reconfigured to get through traffic out of this area. I know this idea wouldn’t be popular among most people here, but in my view the only solution to make this area friendly for active transportation users is to have a direct ramp from I-405 to the Ross Island Bridge, allowing car traffic to avoid this area completely. Anything else will fail to alleviate the massive backups and aggressive drivers that currently characterize this area, and it will remain stressful to walk or bike through.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to   

Thank you for writing that, anonymous. This whole mess owns a lot of real estate in my brain, I’ve driven through it nearly every day for almost a quarter of a century. And thank you for pointing out that these streets are the surface connection from the eastern end of US26 to the Ross Island Bridge.

When SW Gibbs was closed for what, five weeks?, last year, as part of the utility hookups for the new apartment building I was covering, drivers heading from the west to OHSU could no longer take a favorite cut-through over Portland Heights– Sylvan>Humphrey>Fairmount>Marquam Hill Rd>Gibbs (all without sidewalks or bike lanes) — and instead had to reach OHSU the proper way, US26 to the Broadway exit and up Sam Jackson.

What a traffic mess without Gibbs and the Portland Heights cut-through as a release-valve! A total jam from the 26 exit ramp, across Broadway on to the right turn on 6th. It demonstrated how full-to-capacity with cars the areas at the base of the hill are.

My feeling is that 405 is a noose around downtown, and that the cul de sac 405 and the surface route of US26 create cut downtown off from its surrounding neighborhoods, isolating its southern end, and making it an ideal location for months of civil unrest. Can you imagine what the area would be like if this working class immigrant neighborhood hadn’t been bulldozed?

So yeah, close a few ramps (don’t need both 4th and 6th) and cap 405.

 
 
1 month ago
Reply to   

On a side note… who else remembers the day in 2015 whey the 6th and Broadway intersection was closed for one morning commute due to a fatal crash? The closure completely gridlocked not only the entirety of Southwest Portland, but also parts of Beaverton, Southeast Portland, and more. Oh, and MAX was down that entire morning too due to a car that had crashed onto the tracks.

One surface street intersection being closed shouldn’t in any world cause this: this area needs a full makeover. But PBOT continues to neglect the area because it is located in Southwest, an area that they have shown over and over and over again that they couldn’t care less about.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to   

I’m not sure it’s that “they couldn’t care less,” but rather that the problems have gotten so big that it is easier to just continue to ignore them, and let them get worse (and more expensive).

Think of the God-awful intersections: this one; BHH/Scholls/Oleson; Cap Hwy/Barbur/Taylors Ferry. All of those would be really, really pricey to fix, two of them require ODOT ramp closures.

Living in SW and reading PBOT press releases (or BP’s coverage of them) is a daily exercise in gaslighting. Over half a billion dollars is spent in east Portland to fix intersections and infill sidewalks (and I’m not begrudging that money spent). All that talk about the importance of biking and walking, active transportation.

But shout it from the rooftops, it is de facto city policy to not require sidewalks on the frontage of new buildings in SW. Apartment buildings without a sidewalk in front (proposed Habitat for Humanity on Capitol Hill Rd, Gibbs St). Subdivisions with no sidewalks on their periphery (Alpenrose, is Shattuck going to get a street-grade place to walk and ride?, 360 new units and no sidewalk?).

Forget the words, look at the action. Portland policy is to force SW into being more car-dependent than it already is. And the fig leaf? …

cct
cct
1 month ago

When Metro was planning the big SW light rail project, it was infuriating that the design had the tracks fly over this whole mess, creating another Berlin Wall-style barricade to the area. It would have been the perfect time to buckle down and fix many items but one of the DOTs (I do believe it was PBOT) told the designers ‘do NOT touch the surface connections.’

And yes, Lisa is correct: transpo activists in SW have REPEATEDLY told PBOT that Portland is fostering more density, and more and faster traffic (both urban ans suburban passthrough) and providing NO solutions except car-centric ones. If the goal of getting 30% of new housing to be affordable is reached, they force all those people into the expense of having cars, contributing to global warming, and more ped/bike deaths.

PBOT management does not care.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to   

I have a lot of thoughts about the roads in this area but I’m pretty late to this article so I’ll agree with this comment that routing US 26 on a twisted block-by-block route through this neighborhood is the original sin that will dog any hope of improvement.

It’s one reason that I’m not dogmatically against “highways”. If someone needs to get from one side of the metro area to another, driving urban or residential streets the whole distance doesn’t make sense. If everyone always did that, the streets in question would be fairly miserable, too.

You might say that no one should be driving those distances… but take a look at the traffic next time you’re there: you’ll often see contractor rigs on the way to jobs all around the metro. Until someone figures out how to move building supplies, tools, and tradespeople around on bikes, there will always be this kind of traffic. Not to mention large delivery vehicles, etc.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Charley

That’s a good comment Charley, and I agree with you on the US26 surface road stream.

Daniel Reimer
1 month ago

I stopped ridding Terwilliger/6th and 4th because it’s such a convoluted nightmare. Instead I take 1st and connect to Better Naito via Lincoln, the lowest stress way I’ve found so far to cross 405. Although it does boggle my mind that northbound 1st doesn’t have any bike facilities despite being two lanes and less traffic than some greenways I’ve been on.

Out of all the options presented, option 3 would be my pick. Caruthers is relatively low traffic and has more than enough space to have a nice wide bike lane. PBOT could even prohibit left turns onto 5th from Caruthers.

Biking on Sheridan in the current conditions is a no go from me and it is disappointing these are the only options to choose from.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

Biking on Sheridan *IS* a go as long as you are using it as a cycling slip-lane to reach Barbur.

My route to reach SW from downtown is:

  • S on Broadway (nice bike lane)
  • Cross 405 and bear left to stay on Broadway (not “Broadway Drive” that goes up the hill but the main drag which is still called Broadway, I think) – again a nice bike lane here
  • Bear right onto Terwilliger and cross two intersections and then take the lane to reach the left-turn lane (a big dodgy bike lane here but not bad)
  • Turn L onto Sheridan at the light and take the right lane to reach the bike lane on the lower part of Sheridan
  • Turn R on Barbur and you’re golden!

This route isn’t “safe” in the sense many cyclists now use that word (safe = segregated from cars). But I’ve taken it hundreds of times and it works just fine. I hope PBOT doesn’t mess with it to privilege a northbound connection between Terwilliger and 4th that really isn’t needed.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

It’s understandable that PBOT staff should anticipate the political challenges with their proposals, but I am so tired of PBOT hamstringing themselves before they even get to council. Put the best proposal forward, work with Mapps/bureau director to be in sync and stand up for it. If Council has issues with the proposal gather their feedback and rework the proposal if it won’t be approved. I also wonder why so many of these projects get put in front of Council, they are far from experts on transportation design. Hopefully that dynamic can be re-examined with the new government in 2025.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

I live in SW Portland and I bike downtown regularly, so I’m the kind of cyclist PBOT really needs to hear from about this potential configuration.

The six options are all terrible but if I had to pick one I would choose Option 3 (the Caruthers contraflow lane).

I have a larger question: Why does any connection need to be prioritized? I’m with the people who would continue cycling north on 6th and cross 405 and turn right somewhere to get to 4th.

Talk to almost any cyclist from SW and s/he will tell you that the route downtown all depends on your point of origin, but the most efficient route downtown is to take Barbur. Since the Barbur bike lane is on the right, PBOT is going to make things very difficult for cyclists by forcing us to cross 4th to join the new deluxe bike facility on 4th. Why does that fancy lane need to be on left? Don’t cars expect bikes to be on the right? Is it going to be like N Williams, and if so why?

Also remember that any of the options that put a bike lane on the left side of Sheridan are going to mess with the current excellent right-side bike lane on Sheridan that slips cyclists efficiently onto Barbur to go southbound (by the track). Every cyclist going south on Barbur uses that lane and it needs to continue in its current configuration.

Good luck trying to reduce car volumes in this area. JM is correct that the streets are indeed like mini-expressways. It’s terrible but thousands of cars an hour pass through this area and if PBOT were to limit throughput, Portland traffic would come to a halt and PBOT HQ would be beset by motorists bearing pitchforks.

Will
Will
1 month ago

Why no eliminate the right-hand-turn lane on Sheridan and run the path down that. Makes for an easy connection onto the Barbur bike lane and you wouldn’t have to cross 4th.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

2B or not 2B? That is the question.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Thanks, Will.

Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

A little known new “tool” in the 2023 MUTCD toolbox is the ‘Bicycle Trebuchet’ or as the Canadians call it “The Flinger’.

Place one on each end of this network gap and bada bing!

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

All options involve crossing Broadway, which is not great but unavoidable with the current road configuration.

Options 3, 2C, 2B at least avoid crossing SW 4th/Barbur. So they are better than the other options.

David Hampsten
1 month ago

Can Caruthers and Sheridan both be made into two-way streets? The more I look at this, the more sense it makes to me to close off Caruthers altogether to cars (bike and ped only) and make Sheridan 2-way for cars.

Allison
Allison
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I am going to be the last person arguing to prioritize cars, but I bike and drive in this area. I rarely use 4th because I am coming from/going to the west in downtown though.
That said, if you are driving from the waterfront/Ross Island etc, Caruthers is the only practical way to get onto 6th/Terwilliger going south. It’s not the highest traffic connection, but when it’s needed, it’s needed. Everything else forces you across 405 to flip around and cross 405 again.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

If the Ross Island Bridge could connect directly to I-405 (and thus to the rest of US26), this would be possible!

David Hampsten
1 month ago

Terwilliger (SW 6th north of I-405) is a popular route with a bike lane but it’s separated from 4th by two blocks of multi-lane, one-way streets. And they aren’t just any streets. Due to their proximity to I-405 and the use of streets in this area as de-facto freeway ramps, the confluence of SW Barbur, Broadway, Caruthers and Sheridan are a loud and busy nightmare for anyone not inside a car.

Actually, if you look at the (limited) traffic counts available for 2023 and 2024, the traffic volumes aren’t really that high (6,500 each way on 6th, 11,000-14,000 each way on 4th), there are far busier stroads in East Portland such as 122nd or outer Division. This whole area should be a prime candidate for a basic low-calorie stroad diet. https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ce8d1f5053141f1bc0f5bd7905351e6

 
 
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

The two busiest roads in this area anecdotally speaking are Broadway and 5th/Sheridan between the freeway ramps and 4th. This is where all the traffic from the freeway has to go through to get to the Ross Island Bridge, Barbur, Macadam, or OHSU.

In contrast, 6th only serves the OHSU traffic while 4th serves the Barbur traffic and downtown-bound traffic passing through the intersection that doesn’t use the 405 ramps. Again I don’t have hard data to back this up, but the roads you picked are definitely two of the less-busy roads in the mess, so I wouldn’t say the data you picked is truly representative of the area.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
1 month ago

I don’t like diagonal crossings of an intersection. You feel too exposed out there, compared to being next to a line of cars stopped at a crosswalk. The diagonal markings across the intersection will soon wear off, leaving cyclists and motorists confused. Veto any option with diagonal crossing.

Greatdane
Greatdane
1 month ago

This is my commute home, so I’m very familiar with it. My goal is getting to Naito and I usually just take 6th to Harrison to get there. I also sometimes take 4th now (also via Harrison), but only if I’m going somewhere other than home. The timing of all the lights makes it quite a bit slower than Naito.

I truly cannot believe this is really an option PBOT is thinking about to get from Terwilliger to 4th. When the construction of Terwilliger Plaza recently closed the stretch up to Broadway/405, we were directed as bikes down Sheridan to 4th. Granted, there is no great infrastructure to get from Sheridan to 4th going North, but I can say with some certainty I will never take any of these ways to get to 4th. The traffic going through that stretch is significant, and they flow like traffic would from one highway to another, and no one is looking for bikes or pedestrians, they are thinking about getting home.

I’d propose option 4, which I sometimes do already when I don’t feel dealing with potholes on Harrison… If you continue up 6th (on the bike lane that used to be there until the construction), you can cross at an existing pedestrian signal directly to 5th. Granted 5th is a one-way south bound street with buses, but the bike lane could pretty easily be made into a 2-way flow bike lane. This could be connected to the already existing great bike lane on Lincoln, which connects to both 4th and Better Naito. Maybe making 2-way bike facilities over the 405 and across the Max tracks is too big an ask, but that is a facility I might actually use.

No one I know who rides down the hill from VA/OHSU would ever use Sheridan or Caruthers in any configuration to get to 4th. It will take longer than what any of us already do anyhow, and no amount of infrastructure (at least those proposed) is going to improve safety (or cycling efficiency) around the traffic and signals through there. All that will happen is the creation of another new bicycling infrastructure project for the drivers who drive through there to complain about because they never see any bikes on it!

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Greatdane

Excellent points, Dane. I hope PBOT is listening.

Steve C
Steve C
1 month ago

I see no issue with using Sheridan to get from Tewilliger/6th to 4th. It’s pretty chill in my experience.

Turn right on Sheridan from the bike lane, move over to the left lane before 5th. It’s a traffic light controlled intersection so while there can be quite a bit of traffic turning left onto Sheridan from 5th, there shouldn’t be any conflict. Then stay in the leftmost lane (the only lane allowed to turn left onto 4th) and when you have the green, left onto 4th and over into the bike lane.

I do it all the time and it’s no problem.

Steve C
Steve C
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve C

To be clear, the issue is with the connection to the left side protected bike lane project to the north on 4th. It should be really be on the right and there should also be a better way for cyclists who choose to ride north on 6th to turn right across the Max tracks.

Placing a bike lane on the left side of 4th south of 405 is a huge left hook risk from freeway bound drivers. And if they are going to force the left sided protected bike lane on 4th, I would rather the shift happen to the north of 405.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve C

Sounds like you ride with traffic, Steve C. I do also, but as little as possible.

PBOT seems to be prioritize the concerns of cyclists who want to be segregated from traffic, or so it seems.

stephan
stephan
1 month ago

“Well, get three votes with this on council,” Geller responded.

I found that really striking — it seems self-defeating to me not to even try.

Instead of offering four very similar, slight improvements for bikes, why not having 1-2 designs that are really different? And then force council members to take a stance what’s important to them.

We need to aim for big improvements for each such small area changes, to get incremental improvement. Small improvements limited to a small area adds up to nothing.

RobW
RobW
1 month ago

Thanks for covering this. For North, I support continuing on 6th to College. College is not a thoroughfare and has a light on 6th. It is a good route West into the Park blocks, or East to 4th. 6th does not need 3 lanes South of College.

The Southbound route is along Broadway which is protected for a few blocks. It is easy to bike Broadway from Burnside or the Park-9th bikeways to join Broadway.

Coming into town from Terwilliger, I bike on 6th to Sherman, Sherman to Broadway, but through the Health Share office building parking lot, to Park Avenue, over 405 and I’m in the Park Blocks.

Dirk
Dirk
1 month ago

Option 1B then be smart about the signal operations