Portland Tries Out "Advisory Bike Lanes"

"Advisory bike lanes," like the one in the Netherlands, allow drivers to drive in the bike lanes only if there are no cyclists there. Photo: Bike Portland
“Advisory bike lanes,” like this one in the Netherlands, allow drivers to cross into the bike lane when it’s necessary and can be done safely. Photo: Portland Bureau of Transportation via Bike Portland

Portland is importing a new kind of bike lane design from the Netherlands. “Advisory bike lanes” allow drivers to use the bike lane space if they have to — and if it’s safe. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports that advisory bike lanes are intended for streets with high bike traffic but not a high volume of car traffic, where there otherwise wouldn’t be room for bike lanes:

According to PBOT project manager Theresa Boyle, the city is prepping a project that will create “advisory bike lanes” on Caruthers between SE Water and SE 7th.

Boyle says the new bike lanes will be eight-feet wide (compared the existing five-foot wide lanes) and there will be one, 16-foot wide “through auto lane” in the middle. Along the southern curb (where the encroachment problems now occur), PBOT will mark an additional four-foot wide buffer zone.

Advisory bike lanes are not a PBOT invention. They are widely used in Europe (especially The Netherlands) and the City of Minneapolis also uses them. A presentation put together by PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller (PDF here) explains that advisory bike lanes are typically used when standard bike lanes don’t fit. They’re also a good solution, he says, when there is a higher volume of auto traffic than a neighborhood street.

Maus says the city will conduct a public education campaign to inform drivers of how to use them properly.

Elsewhere on the Network today: As Honolulu makes progress on building an elevated, computer-operated rail system, Market Urbanism makes the case for a widespread transition to driverless trains. And BikeWalkLee explains Florida’s new pedestrian and bicycle education program.

  • Gezellig

    The problem with sharrows, though, is that a lot of drivers don’t seem to get it.

    Berkeley has one of the oldest bike boulevard networks in the US. They have huge sharrows + Mr Mushroom Head on them all over the place. It should be obvious:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/berkeley-bike-boulevards.jpg

    Yet even–and especially–in Berkeley I’ve been verbally harassed many a time by motorists who don’t understand what they mean. They still think people on bikes should be clinging to the doorzone and verbally harass and/or dangerously speed on by to pass people who dare to not hug the doorzone. It’s bad enough that Berkeley has specifically drafted an anti-bike-harassment ordinance because it’s so common.

    The problem is the road design. In that picture above you see many problems:

    –> road is a standard wide straightaway, just as any typical American suburban street is.

    –> there’s no visual narrowing

    –> there’s no apparent traffic diverter on the horizon

    –> though there are Bike Blvd signs there’s no signage reinforcing to drivers what they mean (e.g. a true Bike Street would clarify “Bike Street: Cars As Guest/No Passing Bikes” etc.).

    Too many times cities think they can just slap a sharrow on a road (or go extra fancy and have a bike diverter every mile) and call it a bike plan.

    http://www.memecreator.org/static/images/memes/3091576.jpg

    Sure, I know I’m in the right biking there in Berkeley but there’s no denying it’s often unpleasant. This is a huge part of what keeps modeshare down.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    I don’t know about where you live but in the Bay Area sharrows are frequently painted way the hell over on the right of the lane.

  • Baloo Uriza

    Yeah, someone really screwed up in the bay area painting the sharrows in the door zone on narrow lanes. Up there with some of the bogosity on Fourth Plain in Fort Vancouver, with sharrows in the grate zone on a narrow lane on a blindish curve (where riding farther out would make you much more visible on the curve).

  • AndreL

    The problem is not with the concept, but its application.

    Advisory bike lanes are used only on streets with little car traffic, or on secondary minor rural farm roads (which are not very long in Netherlands as cities are close to one another) that see less than 250 vehicles/day, or dead-end roads that give access to a couple properties only, while allowing through bike traffic.

    These are not meant to be substitutes for *physically separates* cycling paths on busier roads, let alone as a solution for busy city streets.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Portland Tries Out “Advisory Bike Lanes”

|
Portland is importing a new kind of bike lane design from the Netherlands. “Advisory bike lanes” allow drivers to use the bike lane space if they have to — and if it’s safe. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports that advisory bike lanes are intended for streets with high bike traffic but not a high volume of […]

Four Ways Protected Bike Lanes Benefit Businesses

|
The question isn’t whether your city can afford high-quality bike infrastructure anymore, say our friends at the Green Lane Project. It’s whether your city can afford not to. The Green Lane Project has been working with the Alliance for Biking and Walking on a study examining the different ways protected bike lanes help local businesses. […]

Denver’s Big Opportunity for World-Class Streets

|
Just a few months ago, Denver opened its first protected bike lane on 15th Street. But was that a one-off project or will the Mile High City change the way it designs streets citywide? The city’s approach to the redesign of Broadway will give a pretty strong indication of how serious Denver leaders are about […]