Portland’s neighborhood greenways (formerly known as “bicycle boulevards”) are residential streets designed to prioritize bicycling and enhance conditions for walking. They have long represented and fostered the best elements of Portland’s transportation culture by creating safe streets where people want to bike, walk and play. To date, Portland has more than 70 miles of neighborhood greenways.
To ensure that neighborhood greenways remain a vital part of Portland’s transportation network, the city has adopted the following operational performance guidelines:
- Vehicles should travel 20 mph or less
- There should be a daily average of approximately 1,000 cars per day with the upper limit set at 2,000 cars
- There should be ample opportunities for people bicycling and walking to cross busy streets, at least 50 crossing opportunities per hour, with 100 crossing opportunities per hour the preferred level of service.
Neighborhood greenways are most often found on local service streets that can have a large range of street widths. Neighborhood greenways typically include two shared travel lanes and two parking lanes. In order to keep people from using neighborhood greenways as automobile cut-through routes, speed bumps and traffic diverters are commonly installed on greenways. These common traffic calming techniques help auto traffic remain on nearby main streets rather than cutting through on neighborhood streets.
The primary pavement marking for neighborhood greenways is the shared roadway marking, aka sharrow. Despite the city’s success in growing bicycle ridership, increases in population and development translate into more people walking, bicycling and driving. More cars on neighborhood greenways contribute to an increased level of stress experienced by people bicycling and walking. Increased stress on our priority bicycle routes makes bicycling less comfortable and has a negative impact on the overall livability of our city.
Lowering traffic stress requires neighborhood greenways to operate with low auto volumes and speeds, provide protected crossings at major intersections and maintain an environment that encourages people of all ages and abilities to travel actively. The traffic calming measures mentioned earlier not only help to discourage cut-through traffic, they also help to lower the traffic stress on neighborhood greenways for people walking and biking.
Neighborhood greenways have contributed to the increase in bicycling in the city, and one of the best places to see this is on the neighborhood greenways themselves. Greenways have seen a dramatic increase in bicycle use that parallels the overall increase in bicycling in Portland.
There is both broad and specific policy support for neighborhood greenways in Portland’s plans and policies, as well as the Portland metro region’s priorities, which recognize the importance of neighborhood greenways and the role they will play in creating a healthy, equitable and prosperous Portland.
Since 2000, the number of Portlanders riding bicycles to work has increased nearly 250 percent. In some census tracts of Northeast and Southeast Portland, bicycle commuting approaches 25 percent of all trips to work. Unsurprisingly, bicycle use on neighborhood greenways reflects the level of bicycle use in the area where the neighborhood greenway is located.
Neighborhood greenways are where people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to bicycle, walk and play. As such, neighborhood greenways need to maintain low auto volumes and speeds, provide protected crossings at major intersections, and create an environment that encourages people of all ages to travel actively.