Traffic Diverters in Portland

I returned to Portland about a week ago from the Netherlands. While I miss the connected network of protected bike lanes and protected bike intersections that I biked on daily in the Netherlands, I’m thankful to still have traffic calming in Portland. Since a few traffic diverters caught my attention while biking today, I’m going to focus this post on traffic diverters, which is a traffic calming device.

Holman Pocket Park

During my bike ride to experience Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, which is part of a series of open street events, I biked through Holman Pocket Park, which may be the first street to park conversion in Portland history. In case you are wondering, local residents fully supported the street to park conversion with cheering during an open house meeting. The below video shows people biking through Holman Pocket Park.

The below map shows where NE Holman St used to go through the park. For more information about the Holman Pocket Park transformation from a street to a park, visit the City of Portland’s website.

Map of Holman Pocket Park

Map of Holman Pocket Park

Diagonal Traffic Diverter

On my bike ride home from Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave because it is a permanent diverter. Many traffic diverters are temporary, which means they can be easily removed if people, especially motorists, don’t like the diverter. This is why I was impressed to see it is a permanent diverter. The below panorama shows the diagonal traffic diverter.

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Since I didn’t stay long enough to get a photo with a cyclist using the diverter, I found the below photo that shows cyclists using the diverter.

Cyclists on NE Tillamook St using the diverter. Photo: David Baker Architects

The following map shows how the diagonal traffic diverter looks on a map. I talked with an elderly couple that was walking by when I was taking photos of the diverter. The couple said there are several other diverters in the Irvington neighborhood and they love how the diverters reduce cut through automobile traffic and make their neighborhood quieter. They walked away before I could ask how they felt about the diverters before the diverters were installed. From my experience with new infrastructure, people are often nervous about unfamiliar infrastructure so are usually against it until after the infrastructure is installed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the elderly couple didn’t always love the diverters.

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Speaking of history, I was able to find some history about the diverter. According to Shawn Granton’s photo description, the diagonal traffic diverter on NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave was the “city’s first traffic diverter. I heard it was first installed as a neighborhood guerrilla action in the late 60’s to calm traffic, then was made official by the city.” A comment on his photo suggests 16th Ave was “the main drag”. Since 16th Ave is no longer the main drag, the diverter was successful in making the neighborhood have less cut through automobile traffic. Even though it didn’t exist in the 1960s, the diverter helped make the Tillamook neighborhood greenway possible by reducing automobile traffic on NE Tillamook St while providing bicycle and pedestrian access. I constantly saw this in the Netherlands so it is great to see this in Portland.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t finished blogging about everything I saw in the Netherlands. Fall quarter starts on September 28 so I have about two months to finish blogging about the Netherlands or else I will have to wait until after graduation next June to finish blogging. It feels great to write that I will finally be done with school soon!

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