The City of Portland is putting final touches on a plan to build a new two-way protected bikeway on Northeast Skidmore from 33rd to 37th. This is the segment of Skidmore adjacent to Wilshire Park in the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood.
The goal of the project is to slow down car users and provide a safer space for bicycle users and people walking near the park. This stretch of Skidmore, which is classified as a “major city bikeway” in Portland planning documents, currently gives drivers 40-feet of space to operate, far more than is necessary or safe. A Portland Bureau of Transportation analysis showed that most people drive 27-28 mph, well over a safe and considerate speed next to a park — not to mention that the posted speed limit is 20 mph.
The PBOT design proposal calls for 14-feet of (two-way) driving space and another 14 feet for two, seven-foot parking lanes. The remaining 12 feet will be used for a two-way protected bike lane (curbside to the park) that has two, five-foot lanes and a two-foot buffer zone from parked cars. PBOT believes the narrower operating space for drivers will encourage them to slow down. The new carfree space adjacent to the park will create a new safety buffer for bicycle riders and other users.
PBOT considered a more typical shared-street, neighborhood greenway treatment for Skidmore but there are too many drivers going too fast to do that without installing diversion to limit traffic from NE 33rd (a major neighborhood collector). A PBOT traffic diversion analysis showed that banning eastbound movements onto Skidmore from 33rd would lead to too much out-of-direction car traffic on other residential streets.
The value of this project is further boosted because of how it will help bicycle riders connect to the Mason-Skidmore Neighborhood Greenway. PBOT also plans to complete a bike-friendly crossing treatment of 33rd soon and they have plans to build out the Mason-Skidmore route all the way to NE 77th in spring 2024.
Speaking of how this fits into the larger neighborhood greenway is the problem of how westbound bicycle riders on Skidmore will transition into the two-way bike lane on the south side of the street. If you’re riding westbound you’d be on the north side of the street, so you’d have to cross over oncoming traffic to get into the bike lane. This sets up a conversation about either an enhanced crossing treatment or some sort of median traffic diverter at NE 36th or 37th to remove that threat of oncoming traffic.
Learn more about this project on the city’s website and/or plan to attend the February 13th meeting of the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association where PBOT staff will attend and answer questions.