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.

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