45 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Portland Neighborhood Greenways”

  1. I went to Portland for a 2 day business trip this week. I took the train down and then used their mass transit for my whole trip. I do this trip about every 6 to 8 weeks. As usual the worst part of the trip is getting from my house to King Street Station, and I live by the university. And as usual, while on my way back to Seattle all I could think was “why can’t we have nice things too?”.

    1. The worst part of your trip was taking an express bus to IDS and walking across the street? I fail to see what “nice things” would have made that easier, except perhaps light rail to IDS, which is in fact being built.

      1. Agreed. What in specific do they have that we don’t have, or isn’t under construction?

        The connection from the UDist to King Street Station seems pretty easy, with a big improvement on the way (ULink).

      2. King Street Station is a pain in the ace to get to if you don’t live in a neighborhood that has direct bus service to it. Even getting there from Ballard takes 45 minutes by bus.

      3. Kent,

        Link and Max are not the same beast, at all. With the exception of the center running on MLK and some of East Link beyond DT Belleyview, Link is a light metro. With the exception of the “couldn’t have built it without this” Robertson Tunnel and the freeway running along 84 and 205 Max is surface LRT with too many stations. It takes a full hour to get from either end of the Blue Line to the Portland CBD via Max, a distance of 12 miles from Gresham and 14 miles from Hillsboro. Link will do the 34 miles from Everett to DT Seattle in less than that hour.

        I’m not saying that Max isn’t a good thing, but the stations are way too small and there’s no downtown tunnel so the “43 miles” of Max doesn’t provide nearly the capacity that Link will through Seattle.

      4. Perhaps being able to transit from one far flung suburb to another suburb through downtown is not the best use of a transit system. Slow transit speeds through downtown encourage a vibrant downtown, methinks in Portland!

  2. A pedestrian safety issue, because it affects every transit rider in Seattle and elsewhere: what is the one thing that we could accomplish that would save lives and injuries on the dancerous freeways that our streets have become? I have been talking to walkers and bikers and I think right turns on red need to be made illegal right now.

    1. SDOT know the answer to that question, but auto-centric neighborhoods don’t want to hear it: road diets.

      1. Sorry, should have been don’t hold your breath for the a prohibition on right turns on red. I just don’t this ever happening, regardless of the merits.

      2. Oh, I know. But the people getting hit by cars might be holding their breath in the hospital.

      3. I looked at the 2010 SDOT traffic report. Of the 529 pedestrian collisions, there were 449 reports that had driver related contributing factors noted, 9 of which were that the driver violated the signal. Albeit, this is only a year snapshot.

        I agree that right turns on red should be prohibited in the downtown area (BTW, if any one can actually make a safe right turn on red in downtown, I’d be pretty amazed) because of the high pedestrian volumes and because traffic conditions are simply too complicated for a driver to really take all of the extra factors into account.

      4. Getting rid of RTOR would gridlock downtown. I can’t imagine ever getting around in a timely manner on a bus without RTOR getting the cars in front of the bus out of the way, its not like they can turn on green….

      5. Maybe time to implement the “all walk”. It would certainly work better than the current signaling system at B’square. So simple yet so hard. We have it at Pike Place and a few others (please chime in and point out where it works).

      6. Pike Place is a bad example of the all ways crossing because there are always tourists or locals unaware and cross with the light as opposed to crossing with the walk signal. One place where it does work well, however, is at Alaska Junction in West Seattle. Not only do people cross with the signal, most everyone is aware that it is all way and cross diagonally if need be.

      7. Examples of terrible government bureaucracy… I have been TRYING to get a sign added in front of the market for years now. This included at one point tracking down the specific staff person in charge of such signs AND after they ordered brand new signs for the two or three intersections further south on 1st Ave that were converted to Walk All Ways. *SIGH*

      8. Bellevue already has an example of an “all walk” signal next to the Transit Center at 6th & 108th.

      9. Beacon Hill has an all-walk, and as alluded to above, there are several ‘new’ ones on 1st Ave south of the Market. Coupling some of these with leading pedestrian phases (where the pedestrians get to walk first) could definitely help moving folks through downtown.

        Or we could do what we do during the holidays and start putting cops in intersections :)

    2. More road diets, but with fixed (planted) medians containing pedestrian islands, and cycle tracks on major arterials!

      1. I had my doubts about road diets years ago, but looking at N. 50th, NE 125th and now Greenwood Ave North, I’m definitely a pro-road diet person. Now, you don’t have to worry about what lane to be in, wondering if the car in front of you is going to suddenly stop to make a left turn and block traffic. As a pedestrian, it is nicer to only have to worry about two lanes of traffic instead of four…I look forward to seeing even more roads get altered this way.

      2. Planted medians break up the turn lane from becoming a “chicken lane”. These planted medians are commonplace on arterials in El Paso (which is about the only thing El Paso has ever done right in transportation design).

      3. I agree, I like to drive the dieted roads better than the old style roads with off-again on-again parking in the curb lane. You get in one lane and stick with it, rather than having the extra lane appear and disappear. Eastlake vs. the new Dexter is the clearest comparison. Good paving and fresh, and prominent and clear paintwork help too.

      4. I don’t have the link handy but I read a well done study based on real world experience that showed conversion of a four lane road to one lane each direction with a two-way center turn lane dramatically improved traffic flow as well as making life better for human powered transportation. It’s good to see people on this blog rue the inclusion of on street parking. In the past there seemed to be a lot of lame arguments about how much better it was for cycling because it slowed traffic. Obviously from people that don’t ride a bike on the road.

    3. The thought behind enabling “right on red” was supposed to be energy saving as people wouldn’t be idling when it is safe to go. Unfortunately many people don’t follow the rule for right on red which is that you can proceed if it’s safe to proceed. It’s not mandated that you turn right on red and in fact it’s only allowable if it’s safe to do so. If someone is in the crosswalk it’s not safe to proceed. It’s the law. Unfortunately the law is often laxly enforced. People are also supposed to turn on their turn signal 100 feet in advance of a turn. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people either not signalling at all or signalling only after they start a turn.

  3. This is a real slap in the face to the breakneck Vehicular Cyclists who insist every 45mph throughfare have a tiny and dangerous “bike lane”.

    Bike problems are really car problems. Reduce the number of cars and any street becomes a bike route.

    1. Bicycle Blvd’s solve a different problem than bike lanes on major thoroughfares. The reason for bike lanes on major roads, is that’s ultimately were things other than your house are. It does bicyclists no good to have a neighborhood road that gets them within the last mile, if you can’t ride that last mile.

      1. I’m happy to ride the last mile…on a completely segregated cycle track!

        ([ot] For a day or two STB installed Disqus for comments which has full editing, revision capabilities, but they couldn’t get it to work.)

      2. Gary: we tried an edit option with Disqus and it turned out badly: a lot of hangings, lost comments, etc. It will probably be a while before people are ready to try another comment system again.

      3. I regularly ride the back roads of Capital Hill and they are nearly bicycle blvds. It wouldn’t take much to make them full fledged bicycle blvds, a few more right turn only instead of round-abouts, some slower speed limits. Admittedly you’d have a hard time driving the speed limit due to the narrow roads and on street parking but it would be nice to codify that.

        So yes, even though I consider myself a Vehicular Cyclist, I love bicycle Blvds…. cycle tracks on busy streets with cross streets, not so much.

    2. I am, to some degree, a vehicular cyclist — I own a copy of Effective Cycling and find its advice indispensable on my daily commute. You mischaracterize the vehicular cycling position drastically.

      1. Most vehicular cyclists hate bike lanes, especially narrow ones squeezed between parked cars and fast traffic. We often choose routes on major roads, mostly because we like having direct routes where major roads can be crossed quickly and predictably.

      2. I can’t speak for all VCs, but I absolutely love neighborhood greenways. In places where the street grid supports reasonably direct routes on the side streets they’re a cheap, low-impact way to make cycling safe and attractive to more people. And, by their design, they tend to teach better cycling practices than most current bike lanes and sharrows. I’ve never been on a Portland greenway, but I like everything I’ve seen about them, and I like almost everything about what’s happening in Wallingford. The greenway route is, in fact, already my preferred route going west through Wallingford.

      Compared to the other types of bike infrastructure, bike boulevards conflict least with vehicular cycling ideas. Arterial bike lanes put us in the door zone, make us less visible at cross streets, are often drawn in confusing, counterintuitive ways at intersections (it’s a hard problem!). Arterial cycle tracks, in America, are hampered by our tight street grids, lack of sidewalk space, and refusal to give up road space or right-on-red (I actually think cycle tracks could work in some areas, but it’s really hard to do them well in America). Bike trails along abandoned freight rail rights-of-way don’t typically follow direct routes between places of interest — they hem to low ground, where in Seattle half the places you want to go are on high ground. They also suffer from poor intersection design almost universally. Bike boulevards work perfectly within the street grids that exist in the neighborhoods of cities like Seattle and Portland. They’d also be a great fit in parts of Chicago, SF, etc, and other similar cities.

      In Kent your challenges are a little different — you probably have a lot less street parking, and your street grid is much less tight and consistent, making greenways less useful and bike lanes and cycle tracks more appealing.

  4. Dunno, maybe it is the geographical makeup of Portland’s eastside, but doing things like riding from the Rose Quarter to either the airport and area are nice to ride, especially in the SE part of town. Even riding say from Beaverton to downtown PDX is relatively easy and I don’t feel as threatened by cars.

    I’m not sure if Seattle can ever achieve that type of feeling. Not knocking Seattle, and I don’t have an answer. It’s just that I’ve rode though both cities somewhat since the late 90s and those are the differences I see.

  5. So, as just a Metro rider, not a driver or administrator, I’ve got a question. Last week, I wanted to take the Noon #16 from Northgate to Seattle Center. It never showed up, and Northgate is the beginning of the schedule route. At 12:15, I called the Metro Customer line and after a few minutes, the guy told me that the bus was disabled right when it left the Ryerson Base. OK, I can understand things breaking down. But, this is coming from the base, so aren’t there any other busses that the driver could have taken at that time? I mean, the bus bases that I’ve seen have many busses parked there so, from a customer’s point-of-view, if one bus breaks down, there’s still another fifty or so that the driver could use so his/her route is still close to being on time instead of being stranded and late to my destination. For all you ‘what-abouts’ out there, no, I didn’t take a #41 to downtown and then transfer or take a #5 because I kept expecting that the #16 would come like it was supposed to.

    1. I wonder what the behavior of OneBusAway is in situations like this? Ideally, it would say in big red letters “CANCELED”. In practice, I’d be willing to bet is would just give a scheduled arrival time with no real-time info, precisely when you need it the most.

      Or, perhaps, it would show the bus as 30 minutes away, with 10 minutes later, the bus still being 30 minutes away, and another 10 minutes later, the bus still being 30 minutes later. The latter is what it often does with GPS-equipped buses, so I’ve learned to distrust such numbers and assume the bus is actually on time. Which means I miss cases like this.

      1. I’ve noted lately that OneBusAway has lacked for accuracy with arrival times way off from what it says. I don’t know if OBA is hooked up to the few buses that have GPS. I imagine when more of the fleet has GPS it can be fazed into OBA.

    2. A lot depends on exactly where the coach broke down. If it actually broke down within the yard, then yes, it would be fairly easy for the operator to obtain a spare coach and continue on his way and not miss a trip. If the coach breaks down on a roadway outside the yard, the operator will most likely have to stay with the coach until a new coach can be brought out to him. If that’s the case, it’s possible the operator will miss the first trip depending on how long the recovery time is between the first and second trip.

  6. Please remember, the Ryerson Base was named after Ned Ryerson of “Groundhog Day” fame. The Metro folks probably thought there would be an infinite number of buses to your stop.

  7. Capitol Hill restructuring idea. What about simply exchanging the east-west portions of the 43 and the 12? The 43 would go on 23rd and Madison, and the 12 on 19th and John. This is independent of potential changes to other routes.

    The main route, the modified 43:
    * Is on transit-emphasis streets of 23rd and Madison.
    * Improves service on Madison to 23rd, instead of the ridiculous dropoffs at 19th and 12th.
    * Doesn’t overserve Madison east of 23rd.
    * Keeping the 43 avoids forced transfer at “unsafe” 23rd Avenue, and avoids the wait time.
    * Gives Madison growth corridor direct connection to UW. (Mitigates Madison’s distance from Link.)
    * Disadvantages: 2 block longer walk to Seattle Central, 5 block longer walk to Broadway Market.

    The secondary route, the modified 12:
    * Is on small streets (John, 19th).
    * Preserves service on John to 19th, which is most of Capitol Hill.
    * Preserves service on 19th. (Avoids controversy of eliminating it.)
    * 10-minute frequency on John (or shift excess service hours to Madison or elsewhere).
    * New connection from 19th to the main part of Capitol Hill.
    * Disadvantages: lose one-seat ride from 19th to Madison and lower downtown. I doubt many people live on 19th because of these.

    1. Combining 23rd Avenue service with Madison service is so obvious that at least 3-4 people (including me) have independently proposed it. :)

      Honestly, the biggest obstacle is simply completing those last few blocks of trolley wire. But even so, I strongly expect to see it proposed as part of the CHS restructure.

    2. Yes, it’s based on that idea. The rest of it is designed to make the least changes to existing service coverage. It would just require trolley-turning wire at 19th/John, plus the Madison wire which is in the SMP and I assume Metro’s long-range goal. I’m not saying it’s necessarily the best idea, but it can be done alone or as part of a larger restructure.

      It would be detrimental to me personally, because I live on the 43 and 14 and would rather keep the 43 and improve Olive-John frequency, but it could benefit the area as a whole by encouraging ridership and development on Madison, while still giving Capitol Hillers service on Olive-John to 19th, which includes Broadway, 15th, and 17th (Trader Joe’s), and is just four blocks from 23rd.

Comments are closed.