Here’s an interesting and persuasive idea that could turn Northwest Johnson into the most pleasant crossing of Interstate 405 between Northwest Portland and downtown.
It comes from reader Sean Pliska, who writes that until about a month ago, he “lived in NW for a couple years and used Johnson regularly.” The key idea of his plan is to made auto traffic one-way on Johnson between Northwest 13th and 17th Avenues … in alternating directions.
(Image: Pliska via YouTube)
Here’s Pliska’s description of his plan, as narrated in the video above:
Northwest Johnson has the potential to be a pedestrian-friendly, multimodal, livable street. It’s planned as a bike boulevard, and currently has no dedicated bike facilities.
Since Johnson’s unbroken through northwest and has access to I-405, it’s often used as a through street for auto traffic. Cross traffic at 14th and 16th often wait a long time and cross quickly. One solution to this problem would be to change the direction of traffic and add a two-way bike track.
Changing the direction of traffic to one way allows people in cars to access parking at REI, turn right, or continue on. On 16th, traffic from REI can easily merge onto 405. Through traffic would be diverted onto the Glisan-Everett couplet and Lovejoy and Northrup. Since the cycle track takes up an auto lane, parking is largely unaffected. The city could also extend the sidewalk into 14th, making it safer.
The city has already installed a diverter on Northwest Marshall, and while this is really helpful, it doesn’t address the need south of Marshall. This project would retain parking, increase traffic flow and create a safer environment for pedestrians and bikers.
Pliska, who says he is “by no means very informed, or trained in this sort of thing,” has also put together an interesting concept for “the minimum change on the Park Blocks that people on bicycles need to switch their route from Broadway to Park,” plus a vision for major north-south bike improvements to the Park Blocks.
He may not be a pro, but one of the best things about Portland is that sometimes it’s willing to listen to great ideas that don’t come from pros. Both of these are worth checking out.