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PDOT unveils bike box marketing slogan, graphics

Posted by on February 12th, 2008 at 11:17 pm

At tonight’s meeting of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee, PDOT Project Manager Rich Newlands unveiled the marketing materials intended to educate Portlanders about the new bike boxes coming this spring.

Here is the centerpiece design of their “Get Behind It. The Bike Box: Portland’s new green space” campaign:

(Photos © J. Maus)

According to Newlands, this graphic will become a temporary, 30″x36″ sign to be placed “as close to the bike boxes as we can get.”

Bike Box educational material-1.jpg
Detail from new brochure.

Along with these signs, a brochure has been created with more details about bike boxes and a billboard and transit-based ad campaign will be launched. A YouTube-style viral video will also be created to help spread the word.

Education was said to be the main objective of the campaign. “We’re specifically concerned with the issue of encroachment,” said Newlands. “Our target audience with these signs is not the biker, it is the motorist,” he added, “We will definitely education cyclists too, but we feel that for most of them, how to use these bike boxes will be self-evident.”

Here’s an excerpt from the brochure

What Motorists Should Know:
When the traffic signal is yellow or red, motorists must stop behind the white stop line behind the green bike box. Don’t stop on top of the bike box. Keep it clear for cyclists to use. No right turns on red at these intersections!

When the light turns green
motorists and cyclists may move through the intersection as usual, with cyclists going first. Motorists turning right on green should signal and watch for cyclists to the right, especially in the green bike lane in the intersection.

What Bicyclists Should Know:
When the traffic signal is yellow or red, enter the bike box before from the approaching green bike lane. Stop before the crosswalk.
When the light is green, proceed as normal. Be aware of right-turning motorists, especially while in the green lane in the intersection.

Along with these marketing efforts, PDOT has been working with the Portland Police Bureau (the new Captain and Lieutenant of the Traffic Division were at the meeting tonight) on an enforcement strategy specifically tailored to the bike box campaign. Newlands said officers will be watching these boxes closely and will initially give out warnings to violators.

Bike Box educational material-2.jpg
Bike Box educational material-3.jpg

Also at tonight’s meeting, PDOT traffic engineer Matthew Machado gave us an update on the bike box/green bike lane configurations at the 14 intersections planned for improvements. Most of the designs are the same as I shared last November, but the three that are still being figured out are: NE Broadway and Williams, N. Interstate and Greeley, NW 9th and Lovejoy. All three of those intersections are especially tricky and several options for each are still on the table.

Project Manager Newlands says the new bike boxes and green bike lanes are slated to begin rolling out the first week of March and should take about a month and a half to complete (as long as the weather cooperates).

Portland’s existing blue bike lanes will also get the green treatment at the same time installation begins on the new improvements.

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Comments
  • Michelle February 12, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Nice job! I particularly like the double-entendre \”Get behind it.\”

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  • Michael M. February 13, 2008 at 7:53 am

    Sorry for being dense, but I don\’t understand:

    \”When the traffic signal is yellow or red, enter the bike box before the approaching green bike lane. Stop before the crosswalk.\”

    Enter the box *before* the lane? Don\’t you use the lane to approach the box? How would you enter the box after the lane? What are they trying to say here?

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  • leftcoaster February 13, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Michael, if you look at the top picture maybe that explains it. \”Bbefore the approaching green bike lane\” might mean the lane across the street.

    I agree it is worded in a confusing way. I think they are using \”before\” in a spatial way instead of time-related, i.e., \”in front of\”, not \”before\” in time.

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  • joel February 13, 2008 at 8:40 am

    i still think that filling in ALL bike lanes with green would be an excellent idea – if were going to have them, and continue to have problems with people understanding what theyre for and whos allowed there, they should be far more strongly identified as a separate lane than they are with just a simple white border.

    green bike boxes and approach/intersection bike lanes are a good start, though!

    and im in agreement that the \”when the traffic signal is yellow or red\” wording is unclear. my interpretation is that its ok to leave the green bike lane before the bike box in order to stop in the center or left of the bike box and leave the right side of the bike box (where the bike lane \”is\”) clear for possible right-turning cyclists – but that is likely me just interpreting the wording to fit how i think bike boxes should be used :)

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  • G.A.R. February 13, 2008 at 9:14 am

    The \”before the approaching green bike lane\” is a brain fart. Recast.

    I also was wondering what it means for the green lane paint to stop in the middle of the intersection.

    Brothers and sisters, remember that the safest place to be is in the middle of the traffic lane. Bike lanes were invented for motorists\’ convenience. Never ride in an unsafe bike lane: littered with who knows what; approaching a traffic calming island, or otherwise designed to funnel hurried motorists right at you; too close to doors which might open; etc.

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  • Jeff February 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Well, I hope they \”education\” this cyclist soon (sorry, Jonathan!), because I still don\’t quite get it. The light turns yellow, and I\’m supposed to drift across the traffic lanes into my green safe haven? Doesn\’t anyone remember what drivers do when the light turns yellow? It\’s not the brake pedal they instinctively reach for.

    And I\’m still not getting whether we\’re supposed to gently drift out of the bike lane into the box, or hang a sharp left turn so we stay in the green area (drivers can\’t hit us if we\’re in the green, right?). And, what happens when the light turns green as we\’re in the middle of this sharp left turn?

    Oh, well… I have some real misgivings about these things, but we\’ll see, I guess.

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  • leftcoaster February 13, 2008 at 9:38 am

    I often ride between the bike lane and the curb, where possible, on the theory that the farther away I am from the cars, the better.

    However, now I\’m wondering if this makes buses less likely to see me, since the drivers would not normally look for me there.

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  • Stripes February 13, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Love it! Sounds like the minutiae could use some tweaking, but the visuals are pretty darn clear to me.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 13, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I just want to remind folks that these materials have not be finalized and I\’m sure PDOT is open to hearing constructive feedback. Please consider that when leaving your comment. thanks.

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  • Roger Geller February 13, 2008 at 10:41 am

    The text reads: \”When a traffic signal is yellow or red, enter the bike box from the approaching green bike lane. Stop before the crosswalk.\” I think what we have here is a failure to communicate…;-) (i.e., Jonathan wrote it down wrong…)

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 13, 2008 at 10:47 am

    \”Jonathan wrote it down wrong\”
    Dang. that was a big mistake. sorry \’bout that folks.. I\’ve corrected it. Cheers Roger.

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  • Confused February 13, 2008 at 11:04 am

    We still don\’t have a good explanation of when bicyclists should (or may, or must) move into the spot immediately in front of the motorist waiting at the stop bar. Is it only when we\’re making a left turn? Is it permissible when we\’re going straight ahead? If I\’m the first cyclist in line coming to a red light, am I supposed to move to the left side of the box, allowing the cyclists behind me to come up on my right? Or should I stay right, allowing them to occupy the space to my left?
    Please tell us cyclists how we are expected to use the bike box.

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  • Atbman February 13, 2008 at 11:21 am

    In practice, Confused, it\’s pretty intuitive (for cyclists, anyway). We\’ve plenty in the UK and they don\’t cause any major problems.

    If the lights are at green, ride as normal (watching out for hookers [right or left]), since the bike box is for when the lights are red or amber.

    If the lights are amber or red, move into the bike box via the feeder (green) lane and stop in front of the (one hopes) motor vehicles properly stopped behind the solid line at the beginning of the box.

    This puts you in drivers\’ sightline and give you a small start when the lights change. It reduces (!) the chances of you being right hooked because of the sightline thing.

    If you are turning left, you need to make a judgement call about whether it\’s safe to get into the bokx and then move across because of the time the signals are at red factor. In the UK, I\’ll sit in the main traffic line for a right turn (we\’re opposite, because you Yanks drive and ride on the wrong side of the road, don\’t forget)

    Hosever, you still need to use your judgement about the possibility that the lights may be about to change and keep your wits about you, since there will be drivers who think that they can enter the box if there isn\’t already a cyclist in it (again, my UK experience). Plus, you have the complication about vehicles being able to turn right on red, which we don\’t have over here (turn left).

    They are not a panacea, but are a useful, small, improvement towards cyclists\’ safety

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  • Moo February 13, 2008 at 11:25 am

    leftcoaster (#7), I may be wrong but, if you are out of the designated bike lane- on either side, and there is an incident involving you and anything/anybody else…you are at fault. I often think of this while I\’m all the way over to the right on N. Interstate or Denver.

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  • peejay February 13, 2008 at 11:30 am

    There\’s a lot of trust required to make these things work, not just because of the yellow light situation, as Jeff spells out, but during transition to green, in backed-up traffic situations, and all those drivers who assume that it\’s their God-given right to turn right on red.

    I hope it works, but I\’m gonna pretend the boxes aren\’t there until I see cars respecting them.

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  • snapper February 13, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Question: Are already existing bike boxes going to get pretty green paint and an informational sign? It would do a lot of good at certain intersections (i.e. clinton & 39th) where drivers still don\’t know how to use them…

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  • james February 13, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    The \”fun\” wordplay involved in calling it a green space kind of cheapens or trivializes the concept of what and actual greenspace is and just makes it into another word like sustainability that gets thrown around pretty liberally these days.

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  • Ian S. February 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Snapper: According to what came out in the PBAC meeting last night, The Clinton & 39th location is slated for this treatment as well. Also, all of the city\’s existing blue bike lanes will be colored green to match.

    The big question is: when the work is done, who wants to do a \”Green is the new Blue*\” ride?

    *this phrase shamelessly stolen from Mr. Ginsberg.

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  • Scott February 13, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Check out the following video. It explains visually how to use a bike box. http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/how-to-use-a-bike-box/

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  • Clarence February 13, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I was just checking out the drawings. I like. Lots. Nice job Portland, I wonder if our DOT is going to do anything to educate our drivers, well other than my silly little video that does show how to use a bike box but is hardly comprehensive or works in every situation.

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  • john February 13, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    It is very confusing ! ! ! \”Stop here except bicycles\” sign has 2 problems. 1. Where is \”here\”?
    2. This sign could be read to mean that bicycles can go through the intersection on red.
    Remember that motorists and/or bicyclists are not necessarily from the area and may interperate the sign in a manner differently from the locals who have seen the sign many times. Traffic engineers should stick with that which is in common use throughout the country.

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  • Bike2Live February 13, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I like the green colour. But what\’s gonna happen with the blue bike lanes?

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  • BURR February 13, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    this is all much ado about nothing. it\’s only going to help in a very, very small percentage of traffic interactions.

    Destination positioning of bike lanes to the left of right turn only lanes, like has already been done on westbound SE Madison at SE Grand and on eastbound NE Wiedler at MLK is a much better approach to dealing with the problem of right hooks.

    For the life of me I can\’t understand why PDOT has stepped back from that approach to adopt one of the worst flaws of the Dutch system and is calling it \’progress\’.

    I give it less than two years before there is a right-hook fatality at NW Everett and 16th as a result of PDOT\’s failing to provide a properly destination positioned bike lane to the left of a right turn only lane at that location, and I hope the City gets hit with a substantial lawsuit regarding this flawed design when it happens.

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  • bArbaroo February 14, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I think the bike boxes are great – it\’s how I behave at many intersections already so having the infrastructure there makes sense to me. From the experience I\’ve had using this system sans bike box, I\’ve been less vulnerable to the right hook. I\’ve also noticed that many motorists actually appreciate the move, it sends a clearer message about my intended direction and gets me out of the way of those drivers planning to turn right.

    I am puzzled by the green and am also curious about adding another color to the streetscape – what will happen to the blue zones?

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  • [...] Behind It. The Bike Box: Portland\’s New Green Space," intended to educate motorists. As Bikeportland.org reports, large signs will be posted at intersections, and brochures offer an in-depth explanation [...]

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  • Chris in Sacramento February 14, 2008 at 10:32 am

    My experience using these in Germany is that they can work well, but only if bikes are given an advance green.

    Atbman alerts us to this when he mentions the \”need to use your judgement about the possibility that the lights may be about to change.\”

    Aye, there\’s the rub. Without the advance green, bicyclists– who would normally move to the left well in advance of the green area in the poster– will often be trapped to the right of right-turning and through vehicles when the light turns green.

    It\’s great to see the educational component.

    It all adds up to an interesting experiment.

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  • Vehicular Cyclist February 14, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I\’m pleased to see that roadway design and it\’s traffic engineering, as far as bicycles are concerned, has now become a sub-field of business marketing. What next, car salesmen building our bridges? Personal trainers doing our brain surgery?

    And to Burr #23, I give it less time. Either someone in that bike lane will get right-hooked at the freeway entrance, or someone\’s car door will fling an unsuspecting cyclist under the wheels of traffic while their rocketing down Everett at 30 mph. There is no excuse for a bike lane on that section of road. None whatsoever. Roads are designed and maintained by engineers that (should) abide by a code of engineering ethics. There is no reason to turn them into marketing billboards to encourage cycling. When you screw up roadway design, people get hurt.

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  • Human April 6, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I think it is another dumb idea. Portland is trying to give super superior rights to pedestrians and bicyclist. Are cars suppose crawl along and parade behind bikes. Pedestrians downtown and other areas pay NO attention to crosswalk signals, crossing at any moment they want. Making it nerve racking to drive never knowing when someone is going to walk in front of you. To often pedestrians don’t even look when they cross, against the light or the middle of the block. If cars ran red lights like that they would get tickets right and left. Pedestrians should too. Bicyclists make it hard for people to drive their cars. And there was a proposed rule that bicyclists be allowed to write tickets to automobile drivers! Our lawmakers have lost their common sense. I think we need to rediscover our horn buttons in protest. The way we are going, normal people will not survive.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 6, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Human:
    I agree with you in the part about \”[not] giving superior rights\” to anyone, in the sense that, as you have illustrated very well, it is likely to cause resentment and friction between different groups of road users. This can be viewed as a clear disadvantage of the \”bike boxes,\” since it seems to privilege bike traffic by always putting it to the head of the line.

    I take issue, however, with your call for equal enforcement efforts against all groups of road users. That flies in the face of common sense in view of the 42,000 deaths per year on US streets and roads, the vast majority of which are attributable to motorized vehicles, not jaywalking pedestrians or lawless cyclists. By directing \”equal\” enforcement efforts towards all groups of road users, we would be severely compounding an already deadly crisis.

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