Closer Look: Alternating one-way for drivers on NE Hancock (Video)

I sometimes think the reason some of the haters we often hear from seem to be growing louder these days is because the Portland Bureau of Transportation is actually doing some relatively radical things. Our streets, they are a changin’! Huge concrete planters in the middle of the lanes, carfree plazas everywhere, 15 mph and “shared street” zones, carfree bridges — it’s not as much as we need to do, but it’s a lot. And if you’re afraid of change, wedded to the driving-centric status quo, or just a hater, I can see how it would be unsettling.

A good example of this is what PBOT is doing on Northeast Hancock through the Hollywood District. We touched on these changes back in June, but it’s worth taking a closer look.

These changes on Hancock are part of a larger project where PBOT wants to update and improve the Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway. Since the city has elected to avoid the traffic snarls of Tillamook at 33rd near Grant High School and re-route the greenway one block south to Hancock, they owe it to us to make Hancock feel safe and welcoming to bicycle riders. And so far they’ve done a pretty good job at that.

Check out the photos below of the new alternating one-ways between Cesar Chavez and 41st…

For these two blocks PBOT has re-striped the roadway to create an alternating one-way for car drivers. Bicycle riders can go both ways and the facility for cycling changes from an unprotected buffered bike lane in the contraflow direction, to a shared-lane when/if drivers are present. They’ve reinforced signage and striping with two concrete barrels to prevent drivers from entering the bike lanes. There’s also a lane for car parking on both sides.

I was there for about a half-hour on a recent weekday afternoon and it seemed to work pretty well. While one driver cluelessly entered the block in the wrong (now illegal) direction, overall it was pretty chill. A steady flow of bike riders came through and the markings felt intuitive and predictable. This treatment has become more comment from PBOT in recent years and is being used a lot in northwest (Johnson and Flanders come to mind). Should it be used more?

Check out the photos and video for a closer look. And please chime in with your impressions if you’ve biked or driven here.

PBOT makes big changes to NE Hancock in Hollywood District

The Tillamook neighborhood greenway, which extends east-west across northeast Portland just three blocks north of Broadway, is one of the city’s oldest, and it’s a key bikeway for people traveling through bustling neighborhoods like Grant Park and Hollywood.

Unfortunately, Tillamook has become so bustling around NE 33rd and Grant Park, that it’s no longer the recommended bike route.

As we reported last year, instead of making changes to Tillamook east of 33rd, the Portland Bureau of Transportation opted to route bicycle riders south onto NE Hancock, a less-trafficked street with more potential for traffic calming interventions.

Yesterday PBOT revealed how they’ve realized a big chunk of that potential.

In the two blocks between 41st and Cesar E Chavez, PBOT has prohibited through auto traffic and created an alternating one-way for drivers while maintaining two-way access for bicycle users (see Instagram video from Armando Luna at right). To enforce the changes, they’ve placed two concrete barricades on either end of the two-block stretch.

This lane configuration is already in use on several blocks of NW Flanders in the Pearl District.

PBOT still permits on-street auto parking on both sides and one lane is shared (marked with a “sharrow” marking) while the other is a bike lane buffered from parked cars.

Infamous Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski posted an article airing his grievances about the changes, titled “the stupid never stops.”

Here’s more from Bogdanski:

“The only souls who will be able to get through there on the road now are the 1 percent who do so on bicycles. Everyone in a motor vehicle gets diverted onto the nightmare that the bureaucrats have already made out of the nearby streets… But oh, the city’s many bikey children are no doubt beside themselves with glee.”

PBOT drawing of lane changes on Hancock.

Greenways are supposed to divert car traffic to create a safe biking route, so hopefully Bogdanski’s assessment is correct! We’ll see how these changes continue to pan out in coming months so this greenway is safer for people to bike on.

In addition to these lane changes, PBOT also plans to install a push-button activated crossing at Hancock and 33rd, speed bumps and greenway signage on Hancock from 28th to 62nd, and “enhancements to greenway crossing of NE Sandy via Kelly Plaza.”

These changes are part of the larger Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement Project which launched in 2018. Learn more at PBOT’s website.