Traffic diversion debate shifts to north Portland with open house tonight

Traffic diversion debate shifts to north Portland with open house tonight

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Existing diverter on Rodney at Ivy prevents through auto traffic from all directions.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s ongoing struggle to tame motorized traffic on neighborhood streets will get a serious test tonight.

“While I agree the diagonal diverter is a good functional design for that context, success is still measured by public support as well. Unfortunately residents on Ivy have raised serious concerns…
— Rich Newlands, PBOT project manager

While the recent focus has been on SE Clinton street, where activists have finally pushed the Bureau of Transportation to address the issue, tonight the city is poised to consider the rare step of removing an existing diverter in favor of a new diverter design that is more palatable to local residents.

NE Rodney Avenue is just one block east of N Williams and it’s a popular north-south alternative for people on bikes and in cars. When PBOT updated Williams they turned Rodney into a neighborhood greenway. Unfortunately a lot of people who drive on Williams were using Rodney as a cut-through, which made for an unpleasant and unsafe cycling environment.

To help reduce cut-through auto traffic on Rodney PBOT installed a diagonal diverter at NE Ivy (map) that prohibits people from driving north-to-south and east-to-west. At first, people simply ignored the diverter and drove right through it. Now, with continued complaints from some residents PBOT is proposing a new design that would allow driving in the southbound direction and would completely open up travel in the east-west direction.

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Detail of PBOT’s new proposal for Rodney and Ivy.
Click to enlarge

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This change has spurred concerns from some people who see it as a step backwards for safety.

Alan Kessler emailed PBOT project manager Rich Newlands to voice his support for the existing diverter. Kessler shared Newlands’ response on the BikeLoudPDX email list:

“Thank you for your comments. While I agree the diagonal diverter is a good functional design for that context, success is still measured by public support as well. Unfortunately residents on Ivy have raised serious concerns (access impacts) with the Eliot Neighborhood Assoc, whose support we need, along with other neighborhood and business associations if we are going to make significant progress with implementing diversion on greenways. Please stay involved, and I hope you are able to attend Monday’s meeting.”

Another person active with BikeLoudPDX, Ted Buehler, is encouraging people to email Newlands with their feedback. Buehler think it’s, “imperative to keep motorized vehicles off the street as much as possible. And that the intersection should be protected from cut-through motor traffic in all for directions, not just one.”

To settle the issue, PBOT is hosting a Rodney Diverter Open House event tonight from 6:30 to 8:00 pm (with a presentation at 7:00) at St. Phillips Church (at NE Knott and Rodney). If Newlands doesn’t hear any objections to his new design, the existing diverter will be removed and PBOT will install the new traffic control scheme later this summer.

— Read more about neighborhood traffic diversion in our archives.


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