Portland Plans to Make Protected Bike Lanes Standard Street Infrastructure

Portland's goal is to implement protected bike lanes on 450 miles of streets. Photo:  Bike Portland
Portland's goal is to implement protected bike lanes on 450 miles of streets. Photo: Bike Portland

Portland officials have big ambitions for the city’s bike network.

In 2015, transportation director Leah Treat called for protected bike lanes to be the default on all major streets. But there hasn’t been a lot of progress on that front since then.

The city bureaucracy has been making internal adjustments to standardize protected bike lanes, Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports. Now, at least on paper, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is on the verge of a milestone with the release of new bikeway design guide.

Portland bicycle program manager Roger Geller told a group at Portland State University this week that the city has identified 450 miles of streets suited for protected bike lanes. The design guide is supposed to expedite that effort, Maus writes:

The bulk of the guide lays out different street cross-sections and suggests seven basic designs. This is meant to help city staff determine what’s possible given nearly any street configuration they come across — from a 76-foot wide, two way road to a 44-foot one-way road. The final guide will include an online spreadsheet tool that will allow engineers and project managers to plug in a specific cross-section and receive design ideas that will fit.

Let’s say PBOT plans to redesign a 36-foot wide roadway like NW Thurman, which today has two vehicle lanes and two lanes used for parking cars. Project staff could turn to this new design guide and see how to layout the street with six-and-a-half foot bike lanes protected from motor vehicle traffic with a one-and-a-half foot buffer zone that could be filled with a cement curb or plastic delineator wands.

Where designs beyond plastic posts make sense, this new guide will help PBOT determine what to use. It includes guidance on other materials that can be used for protection: traffic separators (curbs), concrete islands, planters, or parked cars.

What will really speed up implementation, Geller said, is funding. The cost of construction ranges from $70,000 per mile for parking-protected bike lanes on a one-way street to $2.8 million per mile for concrete-protected bike lanes on two-way streets, Maus reports.

  • Great news, especially since Portland already has a decent network of neighborhood greenways. This is what it takes to move perhaps another 10% in mode share, as long as it’s done right. To that end, does the guide take speed/volume of motor traffic into account?

  • 1980Gardener

    Wonderful news!

  • Joe Brown

    Protected from what? Sure not protected from the ol’ “right hook” at intersections. Let’s say both the cyclist & a motorist are approaching an intersection with a green light. But the motorist wishes to turn right. Now HOW THE HELL IS THE MOTORIST SUPPOSED TO SEE THE CYCLIST BEHIND ALL THOSE PARKED CARS? ? ? And that’s exactly what happened to me on Chestnut St. (St. Louis) my first (and only) time using the “protected bike lane”. My “6th sense” kicked in when I saw that large utility truck SLOWING DOWN on a GREEN LIGHT just before 8th St. The truck turned right. And if I had proceeded through the green light without slowing down – I’d BE DEAD right now – squished. And what about making a left turn? How the hell is a cyclist supposed to TURN LEFT? Bicyclists Belong in the Traffic Lane !!!

  • ride_it_like_you_stole_it

    Great to hear! Well designed protected bikeways are safe and very comfortable to use for cyclists of all levels of experience. But no doubt there will be detractors who point out elements of poorly designed bikeways as reasons to not build any protected bikeways at all. It would be similar to me pointing out a poorly designed arterial intersection and arguing that all surface streets should be highways instead.

  • disqus_DDEkcLuNfY

    why do bike lanes need to be 20ft wide?

  • So put separate signals and end the parking early enough so that the bicyclist is visible.

  • For safety, because people need to be able to pass other users in the bikeway, including those on oversized bicycles, and to enable people to ride socially.

  • Baloo Uriza

    Now, ban right turn on red and give bicycles a signal and Portland’s finally getting somewhere.

  • Baloo Uriza

    And a total lack of quality crosstown connections. Which is sad considering they could get two east-west routes quickly by widening the Marine Drive and Springwater Corridors to two full lanes and add a sidewalk. Same on Esplanade for a north-south route on the south central part of town; Willamette Greenway could be the corresponding route on the westside if they formalize separate spaces for the modes.

    Finding a good route to run over the west hills is long overdue, too.

  • That will be a great news for Portland biker. https://gmcbike.com/

  • Woo..

  • Cynara2

    Here is how cyclists make a left turn from a bike lane, two methods..Method A…Cross over into the oncoming traffic lane, fly onto the sidewalk, making sure to ignore walkers, then fly around a blind corner on the sidewalk and force walkers to surrender THEIR right of way to you. B…Cross over into the oncoming traffic lane, honk an air zound at walkers in the crosswalk and force them to freeze in the middle of the street when they have the walk sign. Then, blast throught the crosswalk right in front of the walker and make an illegal turn from the wrong lane. If you really want to insult the walker to the max, say “Thank you.”

  • Cynara2

    Safe and comfortable until they get to a crosswalk, then what do they do…

  • Cynara2

    Ban right turn on red and then encourage cyclists to make a fast right turn on red right through a crosswalk. Fit the bike with an air zound to force any walker in the crosswalk to freeze for the cyclist while the cyclist steals the walker’s right of way.

  • Baloo Uriza

    …you might want to check BicycleDutch on YouTube, they have pretty good examples of how this works in the real world. Suffice to say you’re full of shit.

  • Baloo Uriza

    Probably the same as motorists. Not like pedestrians in Oregon bother with looking for traffic in the first place.

  • AMH

    And extend protection into the intersection so that drivers cannot corner at speed.

  • ride_it_like_you_stole_it

    It’s confounding – how do cyclists turn left? All those cyclists in the Netherlands and Denmark must have to plan their rides so that they only have to make right turns.

  • 94110

    Two stage left turn bike boxes are becoming pretty standard for new bike projects in San Francisco. Does Portland not use those yet?

  • Baloo Uriza

    They exist but they’re somewhat uncommon, even where protected lanes are present, making anybody turning on or off a street with protection suddenly curse that lane changes are basically fucked with the way protection’s set up there.

  • They past it.

  • We get it, you’re irrationally triggered by bikes, but please at least try to keep up with the topic at hand. One of the hallmarks of separated bikeways is that the separation greatly reduces the ability to turn anywhere but at intersections. Some call that a plus, some call it a minus, but it’s definitely a fact. As such, neither of your contrived scenarios is possible by design.

  • Timothy53

    Grrat idea. An even better idea? Don’t funnel cyclists into a cattle chute (or shoot) with opening car doors on the keft and a curb on the right and storm drains in between with no place to escape. And since police wont enforce the no parking rules they are useless.

    But woohoo great idea.

  • Ideally, car parking should be ended a decent distance from an intersection to provide the visibility necessary for it to remain safe. Other design solutions aimed at slowing down the turning motorists also helps immensely. Left turns just become two-stage maneuvers, which isn’t exactly unheard of anyway.

  • Brian

    Islands should be built at intersections to provide protection for cyclist who turn at intersections. Parked cars should not be allowed within 100 feet of intersections, to allow vehicle drivers to clearly see cyclist.

  • Michelle Pasternack

    Agree with Timothy in Baltimore cyclists are trapped and vulnerable to attacks. And besides , they don’t like to use protected cycle tracks because they can’t attain desired speed.

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