Council action sets the stage to improve existing neighborhood greenways
(August 26, 2015) Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) staff presented a comprehensive report on the city’s 70-plus mile neighborhood greenway system. Neighborhood greenways are streets with few automobiles, traveling slowly, that prioritize bicycling and enhance conditions for walking. They form the backbone of the city's safe routes to school network and they make up a large portion of the low-stress bikeway network. Portland's Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report evaluated how the routes are working, their role in the city’s transportation system, and what changes could be made both on the ground and in city policies to improve them. City council accepted the report and resolution unanimously.
The first neighborhood greenways were built more than 25 years ago, principally as neighborhood traffic calming projects. They have undergone several design changes through the years and some of the older neighborhood greenways, such as SE Clinton and SE Salmon, operate differently than some of the most recently built routes.
Neighborhood greenways are an important part of our city and our transportation system. In recent years, many community members have expressed concerns about the conditions of neighborhood greenways, particularly that they don’t feel safe using them. PBOT staff undertook the neighborhood greenways assessment report to better understand the issues community members were expressing.
The report helps quantify and illuminate the issues presented to PBOT and provides clear guidance on how staff should address problems expressed by the community. The report includes guidelines for how neighborhood greenways should operate so that these priority bicycle routes are predictable and consistent for all roads users throughout the city.
Promisingly, the data analysis in the report shows that most neighborhood greenways are functioning very well – they are well used by bicyclists, they have few cars and the speeds are slow. However, there are a few small, critical sections where the number and speeds of automobiles is compromising the street’s comfort and safety.
The report puts forth six neighborhood greenways in need of operational improvements where auto speeds and volumes are too high. When funding becomes available, this list will help the city prioritize where to spend limited funds to bring existing neighborhood greenways up to the guidelines. This list does not impact the five currently funded projects that will continue to move forward, including three projects in East Portland, and two north-south neighborhood greenways in North and NE and SE Portland, respectively.
Portland's Neighborhood Greenway Assessment Report can be downloaded on the neighborhood greenway homepage. An executive summary is also available on the homepage.
For an in-depth look at the report join us at the PBOT Bicycle Lunch and Learn on Thursday, Sept. 17th at noon in City Hall's Lovejoy Room.