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Animation gives front row seat to Williams Ave traffic issues

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 22nd, 2011 at 10:48 am

Screenshot from a new animation by Fat Pencil Studio (subconsultant to Alta Planning + Design) that gives everyone a chance to understand the project options and traffic issues on North Williams Avenue.
— Watch it below —

In our ongoing effort to smarten you up as much as possible about N. Williams Avenue (given the impending, very important project that could make it the best bikeway in the entire city), I present to you below a new animation by Fat Pencil Studio (a subconsultant to Alta Planning on the project).

The animation was created for the City of Portland and Williams Avenue project consultants and was shown to the public at the open house last Saturday. It takes you on a 3D flyover of Williams, stopping to visually explain certain roadway treatments. It does a marvelous job showing how some of the proposed bikeway type options look from the perspective of all road users.

Take a look below and stay tuned for more coverage of this project.

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  • PB April 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

    The stopped bus, under this proposal, seems to completely block the view of approaching bikes for any cross-traffic coming from the left. With the lack of a light, people have to cross between waves of oncoming traffic, potentially at high acceleration to squeeze into small gaps. The potential for nasty collisions seems high. Has this been addressed?

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    • NF April 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

      That's a really good point. I suppose the bus island could be designed for loading and unloading further back from the intersection, which could potentially increase visibility of bicylists by keeping the area in front of the bus clear. But it would come at the cost of more parking.

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    • El Biciclero April 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      First thing I thought of, too, but is it any different than being obscured by parked cars? I've never liked the idea of swapping the parking strip and the bike lane.

      Also, at some point after 5:50 in the animation, it should show a parked car door opening...

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  • OnTheRoad April 22, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I can see that in the cycle track scenario, where there is a bus stop with people waiting, that it could make car right hooks more of a problem.

    Also watching the animation made me wonder if TriMet has a rule that buses must make their stops parallel to the curb. The angled-in to the bus-stop not only blocks the bike lane, but it renders pretty useless the view from the bus driver's left mirror.

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  • thefuture April 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I'm nervous about the potential for right hooks as bikes will be hidden behind parked cars leading up to the intersections. Maybe if you pulled the bus stop back from the intersection with a short right turn lane for cars after the bus stop?

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    • thefuture April 22, 2011 at 11:46 am

      Also..great animation! Go Sketchup!

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  • Spiffy April 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

    PB, I agree, the bus stop should be moved to the beginning of the next block instead of the end of the current block... it would help visibility for everyone...

    also, curb extensions at every corner would help pedestrians a lot...

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  • PB April 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Spiffy, the problem there would be cars behind the bus having to stop in the intersection, which seems less than ideal. Putting the stop mid-block might solve both those issues.

    thefuture, a right turn lane does sound like a good solution, but people are already griping about less parking space, that might be a tough sell.

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    • kerry April 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Any cars caught in the intersection would be those either not paying attention (since the drivers are really very good about signalling) or driving way too close to the bus and should be ticketed. My $0.02

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  • Greg April 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    In the scenario with the bus stop island to the left of the bike lane, the car waiting to cross the intersection from the right would actually be stopped sitting astride the bike lane. Granted they are not supposed to stop there, but in reality that's how it works as they try to see into the vehicle traffic lane.

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  • Spencer Boomhower April 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Nice work, Fat Pencil Studio! I love this kind of stuff.

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  • meaghan April 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I get frustrated biking in the lanes buffered by parking (the ones by PSU on Broadway for instance) - if I only wanted to ride in a straight line, always and forever, that setup would be fine, but it makes left turns and maneuverability around traffic that much more of a hassle.

    Bicyclists are fairly fast moving traffic. They need less of a physical buffer, and more of a space/maneuverability buffer. It's pedestrians that really benefit from the car buffers.

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  • zuckerdog April 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    There should be at least two traffic lanes, otherwise motor vehicle capacity along Williams will be greatly impacted by the bus stops.

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    • are April 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      they have done traffic counts, and the counts are not that high

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    • Joe Rowe April 24, 2011 at 1:47 am

      hey dog, with one traffic lane the bus can pull out of traffic, the flow of cars is smoother under many situations. Look at Valencia Street in San Francisco. They went from 2 lanes down to one.

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    • Chris I April 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

      Provided they design for bus pullouts, it won't be a problem.

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  • Bah April 23, 2011 at 2:23 am

    so many VC's in Portland! Take the cycletrack, and improve it later. That space is valuable and bicyclists need to be protected for cycling rates to go up.

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  • Robert April 23, 2011 at 7:27 am

    My butthole puckered as I was "virtually" about to get doored amd hit by right turning autos. Let's hope those two issues are addressed in ways not shown in the animation.

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  • jim April 23, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I can see this being a 1 lane road after thet take care of the congestion on I-5. Lets get the freeway traffic back where itss supposed to be and out of the neighborhoods. This will be a much nicer street when it is no longer a mini freeway at rush hr. With all the new shops and stuff moving in, who wants it to be an arterial for people only passing through with no business being there. When I-5 is fixed Interstate Ave. will also have a chance to breath

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  • George Carder April 24, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    This looks like an awful idea. As far as I am concerned the current system works well.

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  • karld April 25, 2011 at 6:43 am

    just like bikes, I think cars will want to pass buses too. Just put sharrows and bike boxes in the left lane Or put a full bike boulevard one road east with green wave stop lights timed for bikes.

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  • birdsong April 25, 2011 at 10:17 am

    What is wrong with designing it just like Vancouver? Just one wide vehicle lane with a wide bike lane and two parking lanes. The design in the video looks like an expensive way to cause more traffic problems.

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  • Lenny Anderson April 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Separating bikes from motor vehicles on Williams creates more problems than it solves with cross streets every 200 feet plus driveways. Bicyclists need to see and be seen here more than ever with cars, buses, pedestrians.
    The best and lowest cost option is the same treatment as Vancouver...one wide motor vehicle lane and one wide bike lane and parking on both sides. This slows motorized traffic, and gives bikes room to avoid doors, pass each other, deal with the occasional bus. Bus service north of Fremont is just the 44 which is not frequent service; buses and bikes can share the space. Its not like Hawthorne with a 14 every 5 minutes.
    re businesses along the growing commercial stretch. If they don't understand that probably half their customers are on bikes, then they need to hear from those customers and get with it.

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  • Elian April 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    We have these "islands" for public transit stops in San Francisco and they create dangerous situations:

    * Pedestrians see the bus and dart across the roadway to make the bus

    You have to make this right-lane only for bicycles to have this work better.

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