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PBOT looks for help to develop new bike projects

Posted by on May 4th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

A better bikeway on Vancouver leading
into the Rose Quarter area is one
of the projects PBOT wants help on.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation has put out Request for Proposals to hire a consultant that will help them further develop five new bikeway projects and to assess the feasibility of three others. The projects were identified in the 2030 Bike Plan and PBOT says this is a first step toward implementing them.

The $185,000 RFP specifically names five projects that would set a new standard for bikeways that PBOT describes are, “envisioned to make riders feel safer and more comfortable than they would feel in standard bike lanes.”

In addition to the five projects, PBOT wants help to assess the technical feasibility of three others.

The five projects listed in the RFP for futher development are:

“We know that there’s some level of community support for them, but we don’t know enough about the solutions to just go implement them.”
— Rob Burchfield, City traffic engineer

  • Improvements to N. Williams from Weidler to Killingsworth. We’ve touched on the need for a better bikeway on Williams before and PBOT has expressed interest in a possible cycle track the length of this corridor.
  • N Vancouver Bike Access to Rose Quarter. Currently, people biking south on Vancouver are faced with a gap once they reach Broadway and there is not a safe bikeway to get south from Broadway to connect with the Rose Quarter Transit Center.
  • NE Holladay Street. PBOT is looking to develop a “low-stress” westbound bikeway on Holladay from Wheeler to 9th. This project would be part of a larger proposal for a carfree Holladay Street that the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association proposed back in 2009.
  • 12th Avenue Banfield Overcrossing. PBOT is aware of the inadequate bikeway on NE 12th as it croses I-84. 12th is a “critical link” (as they describe it) yet the bike lanes drop on the overcrossing.
  • N Willamette Boulevard. This is another key link in the bikeway network that needs major help. It has narrow bike lanes and high speed motor vehicle traffic (PBOT data shows the 85th percentile speed — at which 85% of the traffic goes — is over the 30 mph speed limit). PBOT is considering a major lane reconfiguration that could include removing on-street parking on the north/west side of the street in order to make room for a wider bikeway.
Bike traffic - N. Williams-9
On Williams, it’s time to
go beyond the bike lane.

According to PBOT’s head traffic engineer Rob Burchfield, these are all “good projects” but they are complex enough that outside consultants are needed to develop ideas for solutions and design alternatives before the start of any public process. In a phone interview today he said, “We know that there’s some level of community support for them, but we don’t know enough about the solutions to just go implement them.”

Burchfield says outside consultants can also give them a better sense of costs so PBOT can pursue these projects as official capital improvement projects (which would therefore make funding them much easier). “This process will also allow us to further prioritize these projects.”

PBOT also wants insights into the feasibility of installing separated bike infrastructure (think cycle tracks) in three areas: an “urban corridor up to 20 blocks long” in downtown; a project on NE Glisan between 22nd and 28th; and a project that would improve access into downtown from southwest via 5th and 6th Avenues and Broadway.

Funding for these projects still needs to be fully secured (although some exists already) but the idea with this RFP is to bring as many of these projects as possible up to shovel-ready status.

Proposals to do this work are due by May 21st and work would begin (on the project development, not on the projects) in July 2010. PBOT staffer Ellen Vanderslice, who just wrapped up her work as project manager for the 2030 Bike Plan, will be managing this project.

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  • Dave May 4, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I think it would be awesome to just extend the Broadway cycle track downtown all the way to the Broadway Bridge – let it go the whole length. That would provide a great route from NE Portland all the way through downtown.

    My wife and I live near 24th and NE Glisan, and we’ve been saying it would be *perfect* for a cycle track. It’s low enough traffic that I’m sure the current lanes are way underutilized for motor vehicle traffic, and it’s a wide street, there’s a lot of real-estate to play with.

    In addition to the NE Holladay plans, I think it would be awesome if they left the current lane arrangement on Lloyd from Grand to 12th, where the streetcar track is piled up and they painted off the right-hand traffic lane for bikes. Leave one lane (or maybe even two narrow lanes) of automobile traffic each way, and build separated cycle paths on each side. No street parking to deal with, no turns on the south side since it’s against the freeway. I ride this way every morning and many afternoons/evenings, and the only times it gets backed up are when there is too much traffic turning right at 12th to go over to Irving to hit I-84, most of the time, the two lanes are highly under-utilized. It would make a nice connection for bikes going over the bridge at 12th too, since they want to improve that as well.

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  • BURR May 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    anyone want to make book on whether or not Alta will get the contract?

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  • Chris May 4, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    All projects in N/NE??? Anything cooking in S/SE Portland?

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  • jordan May 4, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    How about East Portland?

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  • Scott Mizée May 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I sure hope the N. Willamette Blvd portion goes all the way to the turn at the University of Portland campus and the connection to the soon to be built Waud Bluff Trail.

    U of P Engineering Students recently finished their Senior Design Projects proposing ways to connect the Waud Bluff Trail with the neighborhood. This included components for crossing Willamette to access the Bike Blvd (excuse me, “Neighborhood Greenway”) network as well as connecting to the bike lanes that already exist on Willamette.

    Portlanders need to make sure these improvements are done right so we can all benefit from them.

    We need safe and segregated (from automobiles/trucks) bikeway facilities along the top of the bluff.

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  • are May 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    the most recent traffic count on holladay eastbound at grand, 30 october 2006, was 1141 cars. should be a simple matter to simply divert auto traffic from holladay altogether without paying a consultant.

    the absence of striped bike lanes on the 12th avenue bridge is a benefit, not a detriment. if the proposal is to designate the sidewalks as MUPs, they will have to make it absolutely clear that these are not mandatory sidepaths, and reinforce this message by putting sharrows on the deck.

    the main problem with north williams is the existence of the striped bike lane. this should be erased and replaced with sharrows in at least the right lane.

    willamette obviously needs calming measures. the southbound bike lane is too narrow and should be replaced with sharrows.

    vancouver into the rose quarter you have three, count ‘em, three travel lanes. should not be a problem. sharrows (my answer to everything, it seems).

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  • encephalopath May 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I am troubled by how far to the right the person in the Rose Quarter picture is riding. Even in that position, the lane is too narrow for a bike and car to be side by side.

    When I ride through there the lane is mine, mine… all mine. The next light just turns red anyway. It’s not like anyone is going anywhere.

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  • Jeff TB May 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Encephalopath #7,
    Agreed. I’m frequently pulling a trailer through there. I take the lane.

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  • David May 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    re: 7 & 8,

    I dunno, it’s virtually impossible to get through both the light at Broadway and the one at Weidler in a single signal phase, so I usually ride pretty far to the right as well. You now, to prepare for resting my foot on the curb at the signal. No big deal.

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  • A.K. May 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    #7 and #8,

    Furthermore, most of the traffic is using the left two lanes to get ready to enter the I-5 south/I-84 freeway entrance on the left side of the Rose Garden. When I ride through there, it seems that almost no cars are ever using that right-most lane, and I usually have it to myself.

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  • KJ May 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Encephalopath:
    Me too. All the way to the Rose Quarter, that bike lane past Wieldler is a right hook hazard…No way am I letting a car pass me there.

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  • encephalopath May 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    @KJ

    And the bend to the left in the bike lane is a decreasing radius, off-camber turn that tries to dump you into a storm drain at exit.

    Why did they stripe that section?

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  • Andrew #1 May 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I hope that the 12th crossing includes some sort of cost-benefit analysis for the 7th Ave bike/ped bridge that has been adrift for years now. That project would dovetail perfectly with the city’s emphasis on getting nervous-but-interested folks on their bikes and it would make a safe, quiet connection between the Lloyd (and the district’s first cycletrack, coming as part of the streetcar project) + points north and the Burnside-Couch couplet + points south.

    I have my doubts that a retrofit of super-congested 12th could ever be a viable solution to the larger problem. At least without widening the bridge.

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  • BURR May 4, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    And the bend to the left in the bike lane is a decreasing radius, off-camber turn that tries to dump you into a storm drain at exit.

    Why did they stripe that section?

    Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do

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  • mh May 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Re: NE 12th overcrossing. I’m gonna keep pushing this until someone explains convincingly why it is not a good solution. What most of us do now, with no protection and usually insufficient room, is act as if there is a bike lane between the left turn lane to westbound Lloyd Blvd. and the straight-into-the-parking-lot and right turn lane. We get there however we get there (which is probably what scares the planners), but that is the best position from which to make the move that most riders make – the left turn into the westbound Lloyd Blvd. bike lane. Why not just stripe 6′ of bike lane for most of the overpass?

    I hope someone will explain why this is such a non-starter.

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  • Andrew (#1) May 5, 2010 at 9:45 am

    mh, my understanding (and I could be wrong) is that there isn’t enough room for two bike lanes all the way across the bridge with the volume of traffic and lane width. Can someone from PBOT confirm this? I believe that the tentative city plan is to add bikes to the mix on the sidewalks, which to me sounds like a short term solution to what is already a multi-modal bottleneck. That potential fix is smaller than the problem, which is the lack of a convenient, quick, low-risk-of-bodily-injury N/S *close-in* crossing of Sullivan’s Gulch for people who aren’t in cars. All I am asking is that a CBA be done for a separate facility altogether to see how we can get the most bang for the buck.

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  • q'Tzal May 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Any CBA needs to take in to account the costs of injury lawsuits lost by the government after poor design of cycle facilites.

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  • are May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am

    clearly there is not enough room on the 12th avenue bridge to stripe lanes, and in fact the plan is to direct cyclists onto the sidewalks, which are ten or twelve feet wide. at a BAC meeting where this was rolled out, i asked roger geller whether this would be a mandatory sidepath, or whether i could continue to do what i do, which is to fully assert the right lane, merging left if i am intending to head west on lloyd, otherwise not, but certainly not (comment 15) squeezing between anyone, just take the lane. he said the MUP would not be a mandatory sidepath, and that sharrows on the deck were a possibility. we do need to hold PBoT to this.

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  • JE May 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I had heard the city was facing a budget crisis.

    Nice to hear that’s over and that the city can now spend money to hire consultants to tell them how and where they should spend money when they spend money while spending money.

    What’s really sad is that are no cyclists working for or living in Portland who they could just ask for advice.
    And that in the 21st century, there’s no INTERconnecting NETwork available to provide easy commication amongst those cyclist and with the city.

    Wham Bam…Flim Flam

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  • mh May 5, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Sharrows on the right lane would be fine, because the right lane moves. The left lane, however, is often almost or completely full of cars, and I’m greedy. I’ll take the right lane if it will bring me up to the first or second car in the left lane, at which time I move left of center and share that lane (because there’s just enough room). No, there’s certainly not enough room for both a center and a right bike lane, but there seems to be room for some length of one in the center.

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  • matt picio May 5, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    are (#18) – If you’re at the meetings, clarify that. If the city builds sidepaths, they can’t make them optional – state law requires us to use them. There’s no provision in ORS814.420 which allows local municipalities to make a sidepath “optional”, the only exemption is if the path hasn’t passed a safety review, and court interpretation so far is that the design process *is* the safety review.

    If you’re not satisfied it’s safe, go to the meetings, speak out, and speak often. Multnomah County plans to put bike lanes on Scholls Ferry Road – I don’t think that’s safe, and I spoke out about it even though all the professional planners seem to have no problem with it. (My opinions were heard, but ultimately the decision was to keep the bike lanes) We’ve got the best planners in the country here in Oregon at PBOT and Alta and DKS and other firms, but they’re not gods – they’re fallible, and they’re trying things that may or may not work, and yes, sometimes WE know a helluva lot more than they do about a particular street.

    Treat them with the respect they deserve, but speak up and be heard.

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  • encephalopath May 5, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    “the design process *is* the safety review”

    Pithy… if that’s not call to action for community involvement, then what would be?

    That should be a bumper sticker, or a banner ad, or a big billboard with a bicycle stencil next to it.

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  • BURR May 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    then this is another case where the court is wrong.

    the statute clearly calls for ‘safety hearings’, not a safety ‘review’, or a substitution of the ‘design process’.

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  • BURR May 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    see section 2

    814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty.

    (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.
    (2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.
    (3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:
    (a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.
    (b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
    (c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
    (d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.
    (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.
    (4) The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §700; 1985 c.16 §338; 2005 c.316 §3]

    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/814.html

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  • are May 5, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    re comment 21, i think it is an open question whether an MUP would be a mandatory sidepath under 814.420, but i can tell you (as your own anecdote confirms) that they are gonna what they are gonna do, and the public hearing is to some extent a mere formality.

    re comment 24, the city attorney says the design process does constitute the public hearing, as matt suggests.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/26579905/Moline-Ltr-112309

    what is needed is a repeal of 814.420, period.

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  • BURR May 6, 2010 at 12:38 am

    city attorney would say that, I wouldn’t say that’s the last word though…

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  • are May 6, 2010 at 8:26 am

    not the last word, no, but the state appeals court backs them up
    http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A115242.htm

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  • Michael Miller May 8, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Re @24, wouldn’t Section (3)(b) apply when turning left onto Lloyd (or southbound, onto NE Irving)? It says that “preparing to execute a left turn” is an allowable exemption to the requirement to use the sidepath.

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  • BURR May 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    @ are #27 – my understanding is that an appeal of a traffic case like this does not set case law precedent and any future cases still must be decided on their own merits.

    It seems patently absurd to me that, where the law specifically says ‘public hearing must be held’, an appeals court judge can substitute ‘the design process’. Right up there with the protem judge who declared that the bike lane doesn’t exist in intersections because it isn’t striped through the intersection. That’s both stupid and contrary to common sense.

    Maybe one of the attorneys here can chip in and clarify.

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