Portland’s Bike Boulevards Become Neighborhood Greenways
Transportation planners in Portland, Oregon are taking their famous bicycle boulevards to the next level. By adding more routes and stepping up the traffic calming treatments, the city is not only making these streets more attractive and usable for cyclists, but also for pedestrians, runners, children, and anyone else who gets around under their own power.
These next-generation facilities have been christened “Neighborhood Greenways,” and by 2015, over 80 percent of all Portlanders will live within half a mile of one. The city is counting on these re-engineered streets to reach its goal of increasing bicycle mode share from eight percent to 25 percent by 2030.
Just about anybody who’s biked one of these routes can testify to the safety and peace you experience. You’ll see scores of families and children riding to school with regularity. At any time of day, there’s a constant buzz of activity, and during rush hours you’ll see many more bikes than cars. As Portland Mayor Sam Adams points out, “They’re on a quiet street, where that bike boulevard is prioritized for the bike, not the car.”
On a final fun note, one day Portland may also be able to lay claim to being the birthplace of the “sharrow flower.” What’s that? You’ll just have to take watch this Streetfilm and find out.
Speaker: [00:02] Welcome to Portland. We’re turning our bike boulevards into neighbourhood greenways and working to create a citywide system that’s great to live and play and get around by walking and biking.
Mayor Sam Adams: [00:26] In preparation for our 25 year master plan for biking, we did a lot of research and we did a lot of focus groups about what it would take to get from 8 to 25% of all trips by bike. And what we learned is that bike boulevards, we also call them greenways, is the way to go.
Mike Lear: [00:45] Over the next five years we’re going to be increasing the percentage of Portlanders that live within a half mile of a family friendly bicycle and pedestrian facility from less than 25% to over 80%. The main tool that we’re using to achieve those outcomes is the neighbourhood greenway project.
Greg Raisman: [01:00] So right now we’re riding on the Going Neighbourhood Greenway. One of the things that we do to make these routes pleasant is we make sure cars are going slow. And we do that by installing speed bumps. On this route we turned the orientation of 19 Stop signs to make it a through route for bicycles. In addition, we put in 21 new speed bumps to make sure that we kept the speed down for cars, and then we put in some traffic barriers to make sure that there’s not that many cars here in the first place.
Mike Lear: [01:28] Even in Portland one of the biggest challenges to creating a family friendly network is getting bicyclists and pedestrians across busy streets. At this crossing of the Going Neighbourhood Greenway project and Martin Luther King Boulevard, we extended the median island and allowed pass throughs for bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s made this project much easier and friendly and comfortable for people that are crossing this busy street.
Greg Raisman: [01:52] Behind me is one of our guide signs that we use on our Neighbourhood Greenway Network to let people know where they’re going. We show up to three destinations, how far it is and how long it takes to get there. Our new signs that we’ve started to use, we made the bicycle symbol a little smaller and the words bigger. This is a sharrow flower. We use it at the junction of our Neighbourhood Greenway routes so that people know that they have a decision to make. We’re standing on the Concorde Neighbourhood Greenway where it meets the Bryant Neighbourhood Greenway, and this is where they make up their mind.
Mike Lear: [02:22] A lot of our old bike boulevards have volumes of over a thousand cars a day. With our next generation Neighbourhood Greenway projects, we’re trying to get the volume of cars down to below 500, if possible. We’re also going to be working in the State legislature to create a 20 mile per hour Neighbourhood Greenway speed designation. If this passes, we’ll be able to engineer our projects to a slower, more trail like speed which will increase the comfort and safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
Kiel Johnson: [03:08] The bike trains are a really great compliment to the bike boulevards and we’ve been really fortunate for the City’s support in installing these bike boulevards that really make it safe to ride on, and really welcoming for kids.
Mary Anthony: [03:22] Last year when Safe Routes to School brought bike education to the fifth graders here at Beach, I had three children, none of whom knew how to ride a bike. My fifth grader’s teacher volunteered to try to help her learn while the other kids were learning bike safety. They started on Monday, by Wednesday my fifth grader could ride a bike, by Friday her brother in second grade could ride a bike, and two weeks later her sister could ride a bike. And my husband got his bike out of the basement, where it had lived for 20 years, and I got going on a bike again and we’re all riding.
Kris Meyer: [03:50] You can see all the bike racks we have behind us. They’re all quite new. I’ve been here for 17 years and we didn’t have one bike rack when I first started here. So I think the most exciting thing is that a lot of our kids come ready to learn cos they’ve gotten fresh air, they’ve gotten exercise, they feel a part of our school community.
Mike Lear: [04:06] One of the other benefits of bicycle boulevards is using storm water treatments in the design to not only calm traffic, but to also manage the storm water that otherwise would be going into our sewer system.
Ivy Dunlap: [04:19] You can see the green street managing storm water. Trees creating a better pedestrian and bike environment and also cleaning the air and capturing storm water. Speed bumps slowing traffic. We choose vegetation that’s low to keep sight distance open. One of our work core species is juncus because of all of the dense vegetation at the bottom, it collects pollutants when the water is flowing through the plants. When you’re in Portland you will see a diversity of green street projects. You’ll see them being used as traffic diverters at 33rd and Going. You will see a new layout that we’re using. This is the more traditional curb extension used to prevent basements who are back ups in little pockets of neighbourhoods.
Brett Horner: [05:05] From Parks perspective we like the greenways because they can first of all connect existing open spaces or planned open spaces. But they can also provide a level of service in areas where we can’t get a park. So if we don’t have land in an area or it’s too expensive in an area to build a park, we see the opportunity in working in the streets and are adjacent to the streets in providing a level of amenity that reads and feels like a park.
Brett Horner: [05:40] We also see some social benefits as well I believe because people are interacting with their neighbours, they’re looking out for each other, and they’re exercising.
Kiel Johnson: [05:54] Having been on a residential street where it’s really calm, it’s a really great like social atmosphere where people can talk and get to know each other.
Abra McNair: [06:04] When I commute to work down the Going Street Greenway I see people out walking in the street and like running in the street. People feel safer and in any sort of transportation mode.
Mayor Sam Adams:
[06:13] They’re on a quiet street where the Stop signs are in their
favour, where that bike boulevard is prioritised for the bike not the
car, for the pedestrian not the car. And that it actually in many
cases is the most reliable trip in terms of time travel, is the quickest
trip when you include, you know, the time to park, is the cheapest trip
when you include the cost of parking, and it’s a trip that allows
them to both to get to work and exercise.
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