Tabor path opens to rave reviews, but crossing concerns remain

By all accounts (except the one where a nearby resident allegedly pulled a gun and threatened to use it on people riding skateboards), the new path into Mt. Tabor Park that opened this week has been a big success.

It was a dream many years in the making that creates direct access for an entire neighborhood and connects to a key cycling route. I’ve heard multiple reports that the new path and crosswalk are already seeing a high volume of users.

But as with many City of Portland projects, if we want to see this reach its full potential, we’ve got to get the details right. And one detail of this project — getting people across Southeast Division Street at 64th Avenue — isn’t right. As I reported last week, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has installed a painted crosswalk and a median island with plastic posts and curbs on the east side of the intersection. It helps, but given the behavior of drivers on Division, a more robust crossing treatment might be needed. (Parks also needs to improve the transition from the path to the crossing for southbound bike riders, but I’ll leave that for another post.)

To help illustrate this issue, I’ve shared a message below that I received from a reader yesterday. It helps drive home the dangers people face while biking — not just due to infrastructure design but the related bad behaviors on our streets:

“I used the crosswalk for the first time today at 64th and Division. I was on my bike traveling west in the bike lane on Division and was able to ride into the crosswalk and median from a complete stop in the bike lane. After that, a motorcycle and car failed to yield so I was stuck until they passed to get all of the way across. The driver of the car had that look, so I returned it with my middle finger.

Continuing home, I made it to SE Powell Blvd [a half-mile south of Division] and while I’m always uneasy crossing those five lanes, I was even more shaken by the screeching of tires beside me as the driver of the aforementioned car pulled up and started to tell me that what I did was stupid. He said the “psycho tweakers” would have run me over and then I would be “crying about how unfair it was.” He wanted to educate me on how I was supposed to walk my bike through crosswalks but when I asked his source for that knowledge he just kept repeating the same lines about how I was being stupid and acting like all of the other entitled cyclists. Eventually I was able to point out that he was the one that went out of his way to chase me down.

After another minute of him ranting and me refusing to apologize, he sped off I’m sure feeling like he got the last word and therefore won.

The crosswalk I’m referring to is new and already very popular as it leads right up to Mt Tabor through a neighborhood. This route is much friendlier than riding on 60th but the crossing at Division is just a simple sign and the white crosswalk stripes, no flashing lights. I think it needs to have lights and include a cyclist on the sign since the average driver doesn’t seem to know bikes can use crosswalks at a walking pace and cars must yield. I run into this issue fairly often all over the city. How can we educate drivers and/or make this a better crosswalk for all users?

This crossing is already very popular and it will only get more use with the coming summer months as it will serve as a main artery for pedestrians coming from the neighborhoods south of Mt Tabor. I encourage everyone to check out the new path. It’s honestly very nice and I love everything about it — except the crossing at Division.”

Asked for more information about this crossing, PBOT said a flashing beacon is not in the plans. “Both roadway geometry and traffic conditions indicate a median island crossing treatment for this intersection. The crossings already on either side of SE 64th, at SE 59th and Division and SE 67th and Division, are both median island crossings,” PBOT Communications Director Hannah Schafer shared with BikePortland last week.

PBOT is currently providing feedback to TriMet on a permanent design to come in the future as part of TriMet’s Powell-Division Safety and Access to Transit project. I’ve asked TriMet for more information and will update this post when I hear back.

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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Alexandar H
Alexandar H
18 days ago

This. Needs. A. Traffic. Light. Not flashing lights, a red light.

Crossing Division between 52nd and 82nd is exceedingly dangerous for anyone on a bike, and it’s not going to get better unless there is a traffic control ordering cars to just stop. There’s just too much continuous traffic on Division, and too many entitled drivers.

There is a similar situation at Division and 77th. I rode there once, and never will again. Division is just too difficult to cross safely. If there’s no light, there’s no safety crossing.

idlebytes
idlebytes
18 days ago
Reply to  Alexandar H

There is a similar situation at Division and 77th. I rode there once, and never will again.

Good news on that front. They’ll be adding a crossing there as part of the 70s greenway improvement. That part of the job is being done with TriMet so it’s waiting on them currently.

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/construction/70s-neighborhood-greenway-se-flavel-ne-sacramento

dw
dw
18 days ago
Reply to  Alexandar H

Agreed. From a different perspective, it is also uncomfortable to make turn to/from Division in a car in this spot.

surly ogre
surly ogre
17 days ago
Reply to  Alexandar H

This crossing needs bricks…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJ0HBd_u-Fs

Watts
Watts
17 days ago
Reply to  surly ogre

That video… This is the first (and hopefully last) time I’ve ever accused someone of “mansplaining”, but boy, did she ever.

Jeff S
Jeff S
18 days ago

Agreed that the crossing in its current configuration is inadequate.

Parks also needs to improve the transition from the path to the crossing for southbound bike riders”

I think this will actually fall to PBoT to fix, since its likely in the Division ROW.

GF
GF
18 days ago

Not sure why they really needed this path in the first place.
can people not access the park from 66th, 68th, 70th ?

MontyP
MontyP
18 days ago
Reply to  GF

I can’t tell if you’re trolling, or just have never used any of those streets to get to Tabor? All of those streets lead you to, at best, muddy paths up the steep, southern slope of Tabor. 68th is a muddy hillside off-leash dog park party, too. They’re all fairly impossible to ride a bike on in the winter months, forget it if you’re in a wheelchair or anything else. 64th leads to roads and paved paths up Tabor, and is a far more proper entry to the park. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Steve C
Steve C
18 days ago
Reply to  GF

No, not on pavement. 66th and 68th abut the dog park and a steep slope. And 70th also does not have a paved path to Lincoln and would require a significant climb to meet Lincoln anyway. Building the paved path to 64th was the shortest and best option. It connects Tabor to the 60s greenway better than any of the other streets you listed.

footwalker
18 days ago
Reply to  GF

It’s not just about access to Mt. Tabor Park. It is also about addressing a huge void in the transportation network which Mt. Tabor occupies and which auto-dominated routes have already colonized the paths of least resistance where elevation changes are minimized (e.g. 60th Ave, Thornburn, Division, Stark, 82nd, etc.).

Mt. Tabor traditionally has been an active transportation dead zone spanning at least a 1 mile diameter that requires massive detours to safely and comfortably access destinations on either side of it.

As an example, imagine living at 62nd and Woodward in South Tabor and you agree to meet your friend at Coquine at Belmont and 69th. You would have to roll over to 76th and Division and then continue up to Taylor and zigzag towards your destination. Most people with access to a car would opt to drive up 60th Ave instead. Not everyone has a car nor the ability to operate one.

People can now directly cross Mt. Tabor thanks to the multiuse path at the Mt. Tabor Maintenance Yard at 64th and Division and continue onto the opposite side of Mt. Tabor. Ebikes and adaptive mobility options make this option available to more people then ever before in history. This is a significant connectivity piece in the inner eastside puzzle that is finally available (one century later!). It’s been a long time in the making and important piece in creating a transportation system that works for all of its people.

Matt
Matt
18 days ago

Ironic for an article about “creating direct access”: The first link (to Instagram) is inaccessible without having an Instagram account. When I pointed this out to my wife, she offered to show me the link using her account, and she hit another dead-end: “The account is private”

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
18 days ago

PBOT standards call for a “median island”. This is not a median island. It’s a gathering of flappy straws. A median island used to mean a raised, concrete curbed “island” of higher ground in the middle of the river of asphalt. But now it looks like PBOT standards are even lower (and cheaper?) than they used to be! Don’t get me started on the need for steel bollards set in concrete if PBOT REALLY wanted to protect walkers, instead of “just sort of”.

was carless
was carless
17 days ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

Concrete is very expensive, a median out of concrete like that would cost millions of dollars.

SB
SB
18 days ago

I’m sure this won’t be a popular statement here, but as someone who occasionally rides motos (another vulnerable road use) I often won’t yield at crosswalks if drivers of cars are following close behind for fear of getting rear ended. Usually I give a few taps on the brakes to flash the brake lights to get the driver’s attention. Be safe out there y’all.

Chris
Chris
17 days ago
Reply to  SB

As a fellow motorcyclist and bicyclist, I definitely concur and always check my mirrors carefully before making a quick stop for pedestrians.

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
16 days ago
Reply to  SB

I believe the speed limit is 25. no one should be going so fast that they can’t stop in time, motos or not. I cross at the intersection 4 times a day at Woodstock and 74th and I would say at least 50% of the cars do not stop for me, even with a wide open viewing path, they’re just going too fast. I can tell the cars that are following the speed limit have more than enough time to stop, even if they spot me last second. everyone needs to slow the F down and we’ll all be fine

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
15 days ago

Agreed.
If drivers on Division are driving the posted speed here, getting their attention and crossing at the crosswalk shouldn’t be a problem. A RRFB would be nice, but a speed camera might be just as effective. Or one of the speed displays about a half-block before the crosswalk would get most drivers’ attention, and help them key in to their surroundings better.

dw
dw
16 days ago
Reply to  SB

While I might be a little annoyed in the moment, I totally understand. Drivers are very inattentive and you’re vulnerable when you’re on a motorcycle. You’ve got to look out for your own safety.

360Skeptic
360Skeptic
17 days ago

It’s _the state’s_ role to “educate drivers” about _state_ law, and the state abdicated long ago. Class-action law suit?

Skeletor
Skeletor
17 days ago

It’s nice to see at least a little effort, but a light would do a lot more. Even then some people will blow right past it. Someone almost killed me and a pedestrian crossing Powell at 42nd by working themselves up, throwing a tantrum, and flooring it around the car in front of them through the red light. All to immediately get to a red light at Cesar Chavez.