- Why is this design change needed? How does this improve safety for people bicycling?
There has been a longstanding gap in the bike lanes between NW Davis and the north side of the rail crossing (about 1000 feet). Bicyclists must share the lane with fast-moving traffic*, which is an unsafe condition. Also, rail crossings pose a significant hazard to bicyclists, and this design change will considerably improve the angle of the rail crossing (closer to 90 degrees) for bicyclists. This serves as an important connection to the Pearl District and Northwest Portland neighborhoods, and with the new residential development on Naito north of here, there are a considerable number of people bicycling on Naito**.
- Why is this happening now?
The recently completed street repaving on Naito from Davis to 9th presented the opportunity to make this change at a reduced cost, since no grinding of existing lane lines is needed. The repaving has provided a “clean slate” to restripe the roadway.
- Won’t these changes create a lot of traffic congestion?
No. In the northbound direction, half the traffic is exiting Naito onto the Steel Bridge. The provision of a right turn only lane will facilitate this. In the southbound direction, Naito is already one lane north of Ironside Terrace; with adjustments to the traffic signal timing at Everett, Davis & Couch the traffic should flow well.
- How does this improve pedestrian safety?
The street crossing distance for people walking is considerably shortened; instead of four motor vehicle lanes to cross, now there will be just two. Also, motor vehicle speeds on this part of Naito were high*. Reducing to one lane will moderate speeds somewhat, closer to the speed limit.
- What about the Flanders Crossing project? Is that still going to happen?
Yes. There will be further improvements to NW Naito and NW Flanders in the future to connect the NW District to the Steel Bridge and Waterfront Park for people walking and bicycling.
* 85th percentile speeds in this portion of Naito: 38 mph southbound, 36 mph northbound, in a 30 MPH speed zone. 85th percentile speed means 85% of the vehicles were travelling at this speed, or lower, and 15% were travelling at a higher speed.
** In a 2015 bike count, 337 bicyclists travelled through the intersection of NW Naito & 9th between 4-6 PM – an estimated 1,600 bicyclists daily.