If you’ve ever ridden on one of Portland’s many Neighborhood Greenways (formerly “Bicycle Boulevards”), you know that low motor vehicle traffic volume is a key characteristic to a comfortable, safe, and inviting Neighborhood Greenway.
There are various ways in which our traffic engineers manage traffic volume and most of them involve some type of traffic diversion — limiting vehicle access in some way.
In Portland’s initial round of traffic calming and, later, Bicycle Boulevard efforts, engineers were bold with their use of traffic diversion as a way of keeping our neighborhood bike routes quiet and safe. Unfortunately, installation of early diverters was met with some backlash from neighbors — people who could no longer take the routes they’d always taken to drive around their neighborhood.
As a result of this backlash, Portland froze their use of traffic diverters for a while. We’re excited to report that fall might be in the air, but it’s springtime for traffic diversion on Portland’s streets.
They’ve recently been installed on new neighborhood greenways like NE Going and NE Holman. Most recently, a diverter has been slated for installation on NW Marshall.
NW Marshall is a challenging street. Unlike eastside greenways, Marshall is surrounded by dense development and high parking demands. Traffic volumes are high and demand for space is, too. It might be on the map as a neighborhood greenway but it’s a long way from being one in our eyes.
The installation of a diverter at NW 10th and Marshall is an exciting first step towards reducing car traffic volumes on what could and should be one of Portland’s most popular neighborhood greenways.
We have people like our Project Advisory Council member Mary Roberts, who served on the Pearl District Access and Circulation Plan Community Advisory Committee, to thank for steps forward like these. She represented the BTA on that committee and pushed for better safer streets for biking.
We also have history and public opinion to thank as well. Portlanders want safer streets for their families and friends. They don’t want to be forced into a car in order to get someplace safely. The city’s willingness to pursue traffic diversion in dense NW Marshall is still politically challenging, but it is the right thing to do. It’s a welcome step in the right direction.
Is there any place in your neighborhood where you would welcome traffic diversion?
You can read more about the NW 10th and Marshall diverter here.