In April 2009, newly elected Mayor Sam Adams made an enormous announcement at convention held at Portland State College. He would oversee the set up of Portland’s first main “cycle-track” — what we now name protected bike lanes. Initially deliberate for the North Park Blocks, Adams switched the alignment to Southwest Broadway to keep away from “intractable” pushback from the Portland Hearth Bureau. The bike lane opened 4 months later and the remainder was historical past.
Sadly, Adams solely striped essentially the most politically handy section; one which was totally adjoining to the PSU campus and that had no driveways or busy cross-streets. The bike lane solely lasted about 0.3 miles from SW Clay to Jackson (simply earlier than I-405, see map at proper).
From the very begin, the Portland Bureau of Transportation promised that this new protected biking lane would prolong all the way in which to the Broadway Bridge. However it might take 11 extra years for the following section to be put in. We received one other 0.4 miles — from NW Hoyt/Broadway Bridge to Oak — in November 2020. As good as that was, essentially the most high-profile part of Broadway was nonetheless an embarrassing and worrying door-zone bike lane (see earlier than photographs beneath).
In 2016, a bunch of planners (considered one of them, Nick Falbo, who now works for PBOT) did a pop-up demonstration venture known as “Higher Broadway” that shared a imaginative and prescient of what a protected bike lane may appear like. We don’t should think about any longer!
Now, 13 years after the primary section was constructed, we’ve discovered our lacking piece: There’s a steady, (comparatively) high-quality parking-protected bike lane for your entire 1.3 miles on Portland’s marquee downtown avenue! And PBOT saved the perfect for final!
I took a better take a look at the venture Monday afternoon and got here away impressed and glad.
By now we’ve seen this striping sample everywhere in the metropolis. The brand new bike lane is curbside and drivers can park automobiles in a floating parking lane that’s on the street. These parked automobiles, together with a buffer zone, create safety between bike riders and different visitors. Moreover the opening of automotive doorways, the opposite major hazard on Broadway earlier than this bike lane went in was right-hooks. PBOT had put in inexperienced bike bins on the most problematic corners (like SW Taylor and SW Washington), however the dangers by no means went away.
Now there’s much more area between right-turning drivers and bike riders (see beneath). And it felt and appeared a lot safer to me. On the intersection with SW Columbia, there’s the bike lane and a really huge buffer to the closest different lane. At Taylor and Washington, PBOT has put in traffic-calming curbs within the nook along with area. It’s all within the title of safer proper turns. As you possibly can see within the photographs, drivers now flip so removed from bike riders, and at such a sharper angle, that they’re virtually staring straight on the bike lane by the point they cross it. That is glorious visibility and makes right-hooks a lot much less probably. (PBOT has additionally added inexperienced coloring to the bike lane at crossings and different potential battle zones.)
The design does a lot greater than defend bike riders. As a result of transferring automotive visitors is now about 20-feet from the curb, there’s a a lot quieter and calmer feeling on the sidewalk. This implies lodge, store, and restaurant prospects — and everybody transferring round outdoors of a automotive — have more room to unfold out and cleaner air to breathe. I wager sidewalk cafe seating, just like the espresso stand outdoors Nordstrom, will grow to be far more widespread. This protected bike lane additionally creates a protected sidewalk. And since there’s much less driving area, the crossing distance is considerably shorter and safer.
And since we’re not at Amsterdam ranges of motorcycle visitors but, the bike lane received’t be full on a regular basis. I personally have zero points with non-bike riders utilizing the bike lane area when it’s secure and well mannered to take action. I feel we should always even be cool with courteous bike riders going the other manner within the bike lane, as an alternative of utilizing the sidewalk, to succeed in their remaining vacation spot.
However whereas PBOT has lowered the area for drivers, they nonetheless have loads of room to function. Regardless of how some haters attempt to spin this, take a look at the picture beneath and also you’ll see a streetscape that continues to be largely dominated by automobiles:
Talking of which, we have to speak concerning the two lodge zones. I feel one cause this section took so lengthy to get completed was as a result of PBOT was afraid to take care of house owners of The Heathman and The Benson inns. From my observations that is nonetheless a problem to trace. At The Heathman I noticed a number of drivers park within the bike lane, regardless of very clear “Resort Zone” markings on close by signal poles and within the bike lane. Fortuitously, as an alternative of earlier than when double-parked automobiles would require bike riders to swerve into lively visitors lanes, it’s now potential to squeeze by two parked automobiles. Whereas nonetheless annoying and dangerous, a minimum of you aren’t prone to be hit by a transferring automotive. And if lodge workers and PBOT parking enforcement proceed to observe this, it ought to be a non-issue as of us get accustomed to the brand new guidelines.
Have you ever ridden this but? We’d like to know what you assume. Particularly of us who rode it lots earlier than the modifications.
Take a look at the remainder of our photographs beneath:
I’ve 4 youngsters (together with this web site) and stay in north Portland close to Peninsula Park. Contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, by way of e-mail at email@example.com, or cellphone/textual content at 503-706-8804. Additionally, in the event you learn and respect this website, please grow to be a supporter.