Starting 6 years ago, there was a long series of discussions about N Williams and what the community wanted to see there. A big part of that was seeing a neighborhood street with thriving businesses; seeing a street that was easy to cross and one that was not a racetrack for cut-through drivers. We have nearby MLK Blvd and Interstate-5 serving those purposes.
During that process, there was some concern that the bikeway on N Williams was not one that would encourage riders who needed a more protected place to ride, one with less car interaction. Riders like parents and their kids, or older riders who are less confident. There have been over the years a number of folks who have suggested NE 7th as a good road to make a bikeway, or NE Rodney, or perhaps some route farther west. With the exception of 1 block, a route could be put through Emanuel Hospital’s campus connecting N Flint with N Gantenbein or N Haight Avenue. Although those other routes may be good proposals and changes to them may be implemented at a later date, the city was able to win a grant to build the NE Rodney Greenway as a part of the N Williams project. As a result, NE Rodney will become a city-designated neighborhood greenway.
Greenways nearby like NE Tillamook, NE Going, and others are low-traffic routes that encourage long-distance drivers to find a different route while encouraging biking, walking and running in the street and generally low speeds. These greenways are exactly what neighbors were asking for: basically keeping the street as it has always been. It’s a place to park, a place to relax away from the business of some other streets, and to enjoy the shade of big trees. NE Rodney has always been a respite from the busier streets and it should remain so with the changes the City is proposing. Those changes are:
- Adding sharrows onto the street – this should have no real effect and may help unfamiliar bike riders find their way
- Adding speed bumps along Rodney – this should also help keep traffic slow
- Lowering the speed limit to 20 mph – hopefully most cars are moving slowly already
- Turning a few stop signs from north-south to east-west stops – this should reduce speeding on east-west side streets like NE Knott and NE Thompson which are longer blocks than those on Rodney
- Adding crosswalks on NE Russell, Fremont, and several other major streets that cross Rodney – this should make it easier to walk north-south across these streets.
- Adding a diverting element at NE Ivy and Rodney—A test diagonal diverter has caused a number of complaints and a new design has been proposed to make Rodney southbound only between Fremont and Ivy with a northbound bike-only lane on the east side of the street. An example of this can be seen at Marshall and 9th downtown.
This diverter is needed due to evening rush-hour traffic from N Williams using Rodney as a cut-through route to get to NE Fremont and head east. Before the diverter and the Williams project, over 1300 cars per day were using Rodney, many as a cut-through route. The city’s standard of 1000 cars per day on neighborhood greenways is intended to keep the greenways operating as local streets, and putting a diverter at this location was the best choice for doing that.
With all of these changes being proposed, the goal is the same: Keep Rodney as it has always been. Keep NE Rodney a neighborhood street.