In Portland, Construction Can't Kill a Bike Lane

4540400421_b3bf6596d6.jpgThis temporary bike lane is actually wider than the permanent one that’s being blocked by construciton. (Photo: Portlandize)

Here’s an indicator of how important bike lanes are in the city of Portland.

From Streetsblog Network member Portlandize comes a report on a case in which a bike lane was recently closed because of streetcar construction. Instead of expecting cyclists to take their chances by going out into motor traffic, the city actually striped a new space for bikes — by taking away a lane of cars. And guess what? The drivers’ world has not come to a screeching halt:

[I]t’s interesting that closing this lane to motor vehicle traffic for some distance hasn’t created a traffic nightmare. I think a lot of our roads have a good bit of extra space that could easily be used for other things (cycle tracks!) without really affecting automobile traffic much, if at all. Here’s hoping.


Anyway, it’s just nice again to see cyclists being taken into account when temporary road changes are made. It seems like they’ve done a good job of that in general on this project. Keep it up, Portland, we appreciate it!

Here in New York, I’ve never seen a temporary bike lane created to replace one blocked by construction, even when that construction goes on for months. Anyone else out there ever observe anything along these lines?

More from around the network: Human Transit takes on planners who wonder if transit should be slower (really). Urban Velo has the news on how to help a group getting bicycles to people in the developing world. And the US DOT’s blog, The Fast Lane, files a story about how some DOT employees out on their daily walk came to the aid of a pedestrian hit and injured by a driver.

  • Danny G

    Lafayette north of Houston for two blocks got the temp bike lane

  • Yes, the wholesale removal of bike lanes and pedestrian space (but not car lanes) during construction is immensely frustrating. For example, in the Financial District construction, it was acceptable to remove pedestrian and bicycle space but somehow necessary to maintain 6 full lanes of automobile traffic.

  • Geck

    I did once see a contractor on Third Street in Brooklyn that marked out a temporary lane with cones and had a flag man present while the lane was temporarily being blocked. But that is certainly the exception. On the positive side, cops can’t reasonably ticket on the Adams Street approaching to the Brooklyn Bridge for not using the bike lane as it is now completely blocked by construction.

  • J

    Utility work in the cycle tracks on 8th & 9th Ave, regularly blocks the entire lane, rendering it pretty useless. This usually occurs at the ped refuges near intersections, when a utility vehicle is parked between the corner and the refuge. Simply parking a few feet away would leave enough room for bikes to squeeze by, but apparently that would inconvenience the workers too much, and the city hasn’t found a way to encourage/enforce this.

    Also, the comparison between Portland and NYC is a bit unfair. The Portland street looks pretty suburban, with no curb use. We simply don’t have any streets like that in Manhattan and the inner boroughs. However, I still agree that we can do a lot more to maintain bike and ped access during construction. While it looks like DOT is starting to address this, they have a LONG way to go.

  • Sean

    It’s better now as a few of the projects have been finished, but for a while in fall and winter, there were two construction projects that blocked the crosstown bike lanes on 20th and 21st Streets in Manhattan – two projects each street.

    21st Street was the more difficult to navigate: a corral of construction equipment that filled the bike lane between Broadway and Fifth (still there) and a wooden walled compound filling the bike lane and greeting you as you crossed Ninth Avenue going toward Tenth.

    In both cases riders needed to move quickly into the narrowed vehicular lanes. It was and, in the case of the Broadway project, still is an unpleasant and needlessly dangerous situation.

  • pat

    i believe i saw one on lafayette just north of Houston for the MTA’s connection of the f and 6 lines project.

  • Nice to see a couple of people noticed that the bike lane has been retained on Lafayette in the vicinity of the NYCT station rehabilitation at the Bleecker St. 6-train stop.

    That wasn’t part of the original plan. It was restored because the community board expressed concerns about the removal of the bike lane.

    And that’s why you should go to community board meetings 🙂

  • That is pretty impressive. And to think I was pleasantly surprised when the NYC DOT puts up those orange signs that say, “Construction in Bike Lane. Proceed with caution.”

    But I never know how to interpret them. Are they telling cyclists to proceed with caution because they have to merge into the general-use lane, or are they telling motorists to proceed with caution because cyclists may be unexpectedly merging into the general-use lane? Or both?

    I think it would be fair to have a traffic regulation which requires motorists to yield to cyclists who must enter general traffic from an obstructed bike lane, whether it is obstructed for legitimate reasons (construction, a delivery or livery drop-off which couldn’t reasonably be expected to occur otherwise, etc.), or illegitimate reasons (individuals who feel that bicycle lanes are an appropriate place to store large pieces of personal property).

  • In many other cities it’s common for sidewalks to be completely blocked by construction, often for blocks, with no alternate route. One of the many reasons I moved back to New York.

  • DOT had barely striped and painted the bike lane slated to run around Washington Square and down Macdougal Street when it got shut down by NYU construction on a Macdougal Street. It’s been over a year since DOT put in a separate lane, without marking, that might have connected the Washington Square bike lanes with Bleecker. Maybe they’re waiting for the Macdougal Street construction to end?

    Two blocks to the east. NYU has taken also over the sidewalk on east side of Thompson Street for more construction. There’s a temporary walkway for pedestrians that further narrows the roadway cars are supposed to share with cyclists. With Obama in town today this so called “best route to get downtown” is an absolute mess.

  • Here in LA, Beverly Blvd just west of Downtown has been under construction forever, limiting car traffic to one lane in either direction. No one complains, the city hasn’t fallen into a volcano, and the traffic hasn’t got worse, it got better–it went away. If I were mayor that would be my ruse; tell everyone in the city we’re engaging in a massive road building effort, go around closing off streets to look like construction sites but leaving spaces open for pedestrians, bicyclists, families, children, people young and old, and then watching the city flourish.

  • Joseph Martinez

    In Cambridge, MA, they do this as well. A good example is the Fogg Art Museum renovation. On Broadway, they actually put up 2 sets of Jersey Barriers, one for the bike lane, and the other for the cars. Quite nice!

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