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PBOT completes new bike lane across MLK at Burnside

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 8th, 2010 at 4:37 pm

This just in from our friend @mrbowers on Twitter, PBOT has striped a new bike lane on the eastern end of the Burnside Bridge prior to the crossing of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd (and I think further on along Burnside as well)...

Looking east on Burnside, just west of MLK.
(Photo: @mrbowers/Twitter)

Note the caption on his photo: "FINALLY, bikes can cross MLK at Burnside and not die."

With construction from the Burnside Couch Couplet project, this area has been a mess for the past few months, so this looks to be a welcome change. I'll have to explore this more closely tomorrow, but I would assume this bike lane striping continues along Burnside. It will be interesting to see if people begin to use the new Burnside bike lane, or if they maintain the long-held tradition of heading south on MLK and then taking the first left on SE Ankeny.

Anyone use this yet? Impressions?

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  • beemshake November 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Love it. Turning right on MLK then having to make an immediate left onto Ankeny could be scary, and it was nearly impossible to then make the light on Ankeny across Grand. Now I can just glide on down to 6th and cut over to Ankeny.

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  • Terry November 8, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I've been riding in this lane for a few days now. There are a few traffic cones in the way, but generally, it's a nice ride. I love where it dumps you off onto Ankeny (13th), but I think there should be arrows reminding bicyclists that Ankeny is there, and Burnside is a bad idea after 13th.

    Honestly, anything that saves us from the intersection at SE Ankeny & Sandy is a welcome change.

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  • Bob R. November 8, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The lane was striped a couple of days ago but wasn't 100% open due to work on one of the bioswales, but at least as of yesterday all barriers are clear.

    The've got all the signals on Burnside running now, too.

    From Grand to 12th the lights appear to be timed right at 15mph, so it is possible for an active cyclist to keep up with the flow even on the uphill portion. The timing isn't 100% perfect, maybe some fine tuning is yet to come.

    East of 12th, the timing seems to be more like 25mph (and the light at 13th appears to stay green, not with the timing, unless a pedestrian or cross traffic at a sensor intervenes.)

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  • are November 8, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    turning right onto MLK and then left onto ankeny was not all that difficult when it was still legal to make a right turn from the second lane on burnside. now that you are limited to using only the far right lane to turn onto MLK, making the merge across is slightly more challenging. striping the bike lane here might help to alert motorists that a right turn is no longer permitted from the second lane.

    but i guess i am not understanding the twitter quote. what was the threat to cyclists crossing MLK before the stripe went in? and how does the stripe alleviate this threat?

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  • peejay November 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I always went straight on Burnside before this lane appeared, at least until 6th.

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  • John Russell (jr98664) November 8, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    are #4,

    While ORS 811.340 requires that left turns be made into the left-most applicable lane, ORS 811.355 only defines an improperly executed right turn as such when one "does not proceed as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway." I've heard this explained by some to mean that it's not explicitly defined to require turning into the right-most lane.

    This isn't legal advice, however, and don't take it as such.

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  • resopmok November 8, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Good to see an on-street facility that PBOT has done right this time. Turning right on MLK and left to Ankeny was okay, but getting in the left right right turn lane could be tricky during rush hour when traffic would back up past where the bike lane disappeared. I usually just went straight up Burnside to 13th in that situation, but I never feel good about being a traffic impediment on busy streets when it's not _that_ necessary. You could make the light across Grand if you were at the front when the light turned green and you really mashed it down, but I can't count how many times I was cut off or nearly hit by cars turning left onto MLK from Ankeny.

    Thank you PBOT for putting those days behind me, and thank you for not putting the bike lane inside the right turn lane with a bike only light. Now, about the west side of the bridge...

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  • dsaxena November 8, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Long held tradition? I always just went straight on Burnside and took a right at the first road (6th?) and then a left on Ankeny. The new bike lane is nice, but I really don't want to end up on 13th and would like to see a safer route way to get onto 11th at the Ankeny/Sandy crossing as that is my usual south bound route into the lower east side or all the way down into Sellwood.

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  • bike rider November 9, 2010 at 7:18 am

    i almost got hit just yesterday buy a guy taking a spontaneous right from Burnside into the Doug Fir. i let him know how i felt about it. more bike boxes might be the solution there. i think the green asphalt makes people realize that they are actually crossing a lane and not just driving over some white stripes in the road.

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  • Steve Hoyt-McBeth November 9, 2010 at 8:57 am

    We were at dance class last night at Viscount on E Burnside and there were several cyclists using the new bike lanes. I wish we didn't have three auto lanes, but perhaps it was needed for the Sandy/Burnside split at 11th/12th.

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  • Mindful Cyclist November 9, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I discovered this last week and it was a welcome site as when the construction was happening, it seemed to change constantly. I could make the light on Grand and Ankeny if I really hustled and was waiting for the light to change on MLK and Burnside. But, think I will start going up two blocks now and cutting over.

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  • are November 9, 2010 at 10:43 am

    re the three travel lanes. i thought they were putting in curb extensions to create onstreet parking on both sides, narrowing the road to two lanes.
    http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=46449&a=211956
    is this no longer the plan?

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  • Bob R. November 9, 2010 at 11:26 am

    @are-

    The document you link to is correct about the current conditions. Curb extensions (and bioswales) were added and full-time parking is now available on either side of the street, plus the bike line (obviously).

    Here's what the document at your link says:

    E Burnside Street between NE 3rd and NE 14th Avenues
    o Signals at all full intersections
    o Nine foot curb extension at each intersection
    o On street parking on both sides of the street between NE 3rd and NE 12th Avenues
    o Eastbound bike lane between Burnside Bridge and NE 13th Avenue
    o Pavement rehabilitation – grind and inlay and reconstruction where necessary
    o New street trees where possible at stormwater curb extensions

    It does not say "narrowing to two lanes", although you may have heard elsewhere that it was being narrowed *by* two lanes because, in the past as a two-way street, and depending on the time of day, Burnside was arguably 5 or six lines wide.

    So there is indeed a reduction in motor vehicle travel lanes.

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  • are November 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

    http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=46449&a=246315
    not all that easy to read, but this diagram seems to show a narrowing to two lanes after grand.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I have been using this bike lane since Friday. It has worked well so far...except for drivers who wait until after the green zone to then make a right turn across the solid bike lane lines.

    I would suggest interium countermeasures like adding wands to separate the bike and vehicle through lanes (or at least reflectorized RPMs there) for better compliance.

    Also, I noticed an odd uncomfortable rocking movement (at 10 or 12 mph) as I rode east along the bridge bike lane section...the scored surface does not seem to be completely level between screeded sections. I was riding a dutch city bike with 35mm tires and a new headset...so pretty stable vehicle. Has anyone else experienced such a discomfort?

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  • Bob R. November 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    @are -

    The diagram does not show a narrowing to two lanes. It does not have any explicit lane markings in the stretch east of Grand. The purple-dashed line is not a lane marking. It is a reference line for the diagram.

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  • Bob R. November 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    @are -

    Look at this document from December, 2007:

    http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=46449&a=189236

    Scroll to the 4th page of the PDF (labeled as "Page 10"), and you'll see a cross section diagram clearly showing 3 travel lanes. The page after that has a table showing the proposed width of each travel lane on a block-by-block basis, including 3 separately identified travel lanes.

    For years, this project has been proposed to be 3 primary lanes on Burnside through that section, and it was constructed as such.

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  • vanessa November 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    What are the plans for bikes if you want to head North once you cross the river at Burnside, and stay close to MLK?

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  • Steve B November 9, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Russ-- the challenge in the old configuration is that the bike lane disappeared and left you to the right of 2 right-turn lanes, not dissimilar from Broadway/Williams intersection. I spent a good deal of time watching people on bikes navigate this section prior to this striping, and almost everyone had a different style.. now bikes have some dedicated space, and a right-turn restriction. I'm with you -- people have to unlearn this. I'm not sure if they have done so here, but I wish the city would get more in the habit of striping the bike lane THROUGH the intersection to help drivers expect bikes.

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  • are November 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    bob r., comment 17, thanks for that link. i was trying to track that down. as far as the map is concerned, i do understand that the purple line does not indicate a lane stripe, however. the map does show lane striping as far as grand, where there are three signal heads shown, and no striping thereafter, but only two signal heads a 6th, 7th, etc. but the text and diagrams on the document you linked are persuasive, thanks.

    steve b., comment 19, i guess i do understand that only x percent of cyclists have the training and/or common sense to merge left (in the previous configuration) in order to make the right turn at MLK into the far lane, to set up the left onto ankeny. and that to some extent facilities -- lane striping, signage, signals, etc. -- should make these decisions more intuitive, so that people can skate by on minimal training and/or common sense. but so often the facilities actually make intuitive decisions that are wrong (for example, the striped bike lane on couch from 6th to MLK).

    this may not be such a case, though i guess i will want to see whether cyclists who do still intend to turn right onto MLK will be doing this from the bike lane (which is what i might do, since it is there), and whether they will be competing for space with cyclists who are continuing through on burnside (some of whom, lacking training and/or common sense, may come up on the right).

    maybe PBoT should consider striping two bike lanes, at least at the last approach to the intersection, one for through traffic and one for right turns.

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  • Velokitten November 9, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I've always gone straight to sixth and then turned toward Ankeny too. I've done this for at least 14 years. I'm having a hard time accepting all this new bike infrastructure. There never used to be a bike lane on Williams.... But I do realize we all ride with different abilities. However, a bikelane isn't a magical safety zone. Ride defensively and smart.

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  • Van November 10, 2010 at 11:11 am

    In peak hours, the traffic in the far right lane is backed up all the way to where the bike lane merges off of the curb. Cars are inevitably stopped in the middle of the bike lane. I don't mid slowing down and waiting but feel that vehicles will have a hard time seeing me if I'm trying to sneak in from or behind them. My feeling is that the green box should extend all the way to the curb. If you watch vehicles turning right, very few actually merge where the green striping is; they merge long beforehand.

    Always hated this stretch of my commute and it's not much better than it was. I think drivers who are used to it, essentially ignore the stripes and it wont be long until they're worn out and we're back to where we started.

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  • Matthew November 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Finally had a chance to try it out today. It's okay but not great. The best change in my opinion is the fact that the bike lane on the bridge no longer just ends with no warning; it's really nice having a clear path continue onwards, rather than being run over by three lanes of traffic turning right.

    As far as the lane on Burnside is concerned, I agree that bike boxes would be nice. There's a sign at 13th now directing bike traffic onto Ankeny, but there could be more obvious signage as well.

    Lights seemed to be timed well, and my bike is old and heavy, so I sure wasn't riding at 15mph. Perhaps they've fine-tuned the timing since the above comment.

    A problem I found with the new configuration is that busses literally have no where to stop but in the bike lane. And since they're taking up half the auto lane as well, and since auto traffic on Burnside is generally heavy (and fast), for me, anyway, merging into the auto lane to go around the bus wasn't really an option.

    So, better than it was, good first step, but not fantastic.

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