The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has completed a project on NE Tillamook and 7th. As we’ve been reporting, the city wanted to improve safety and traffic operations at this offset intersection as part of their efforts to establish the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway which runs from the new Blumenauer Bridge to an existing greenway on NE Holman Street.
There was considerable consternation about PBOT’s plans in large part because it included the removal of a small traffic circle that had a tree planted in the middle of it. Neighbors who live around the intersection organized against the project, saying that PBOT’s plan would lead to faster driving speeds and less safety overall.
Now that the striping and other changes are done, I rolled over today for a closer look. See my photo gallery below…
PBOT installed a new protected intersection treatment on the south side that comes with large corner bulb-outs (which also make crossing safer). It directs northbound bicycle users on 7th up onto the sidewalk on the southeast corner of Tillamook and 7th, then across Tillamook in a cross-bike (green-striped crosswalk adjacent to the standard crosswalk), then onto another small sidewalk section before re-entering 7th in a painted bike lane. From there, people who want to turn left (west) onto Tillamook, can choose to “take the lane” (there’s a sharrow marking for that) or they can utilize the new, green-colored left turn box.
In addition to those bulb-outs, they’ve painted five new crosswalks on 7th — four standard white ones for people on foot and one green one to help people crossing at Tillamook.
Also of note is the new concrete planter they’ve installed at the north end of the intersection. They call it a “slow speed planter” and it’s been placed on 7th just north of where the traffic circle and tree used to be. Even though the planter is much smaller than the circle used to be, it’s placement north of the intersection gives it more relative strength because of how narrow the street is. It’s possible to drive around it faster than the circle, but I’d prefer to wait until we see traffic speed and other operational analysis before making any judgments of how it compares to the previous design.
Overall, the intersection feels less safe to me because of how large a footprint the circle and tree used to occupy. It’s a much wider expanse now. And as we all know, very few car drivers care about paint on the road — especially this time of year when all it takes is a bit of wet dirt and leaves to render that paint nearly invisible.
Another thing I took away from my time at the intersection is how PBOT installs design treatments many bike riders don’t/won’t even use. It would be interesting to put up cameras for a few weeks and do a count of how many people actually use the protected bike lanes that go up onto the curb and then back down onto the street. Same goes for the left turn box — especially since they’re in the uphill direction and folks on bikes always seek the shortest/straightest route from a-to-b. I have nothing against these type of treatments in theory. It just seems odd to install something new and then watch no one use it.
I also understand that not every piece of infrastructure is meant for every type of rider. We need diverse treatments because we have diverse riders.
Have you ridden these changes yet? What do you think?
See what more local riders think in the replies to our post on Instagram.