Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 24th, 2012 at 10:45 am
to be bike-only — don’t work at all.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
It’s been about three months since I shared my photos and thoughts about the buffered bike lanes on SW Stark street, so I figured it was time for an update. Back then I was shocked at how poorly the design of the lanes was functioning. Driver after driver after driver rolled down them as if it was just another regular lane. I’d like to think everyone knows the lanes have the same legal standing as a bike lane (which means no cars allowed); but they don’t. And who can blame them? There’s little/no signage, the striping has all but worn off completely, and there’s no physical separation or medians to deter people from driving cars in the lane.
And in case you were wondering, from my vantage point as a daily user of this street, the problem has gotten even worse in the past three months.
Just 10 days after my original story, I was happy to report that PBOT said they’d install traffic cameras to monitor the location, do traffic counts, and then use the collected data to consider making changes.
Last week I confirmed with PBOT spokesman Dan Anderson that the cameras did go up. Unfortunately, Anderson also told me, “The cameras malfunctioned and were taken down.” PBOT is now set to put cameras back up in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, Anderson says PBOT is “Aware of the need to update the Stark and Oak lanes and are evaluating four alternatives.”
Those alternatives are:
- maintain the lanes as-is (a strange, pseudo bikeway that only sometimes does what it’s supposed to do),
- reconfigure striping for the buffered lanes (more and clearer striping could help),
- reconfigure the bikeways as parking-protected cycle tracks (similar to the design on SW Broadway near PSU),
- or remove the bikeways altogether (I think that would be politically risky for Mayor Adams, since these went in as part of his “First 100 days” promises).
Missing from that list is adding more signage. I’d like to see PBOT start to hang bike lane signs up on the wires that hold traffic signals. Often, the standard vehicle lanes are given overhead signs with arrows showing possible turning movements; but no such signs are ever placed above a bike lane. My belief is that if a bikeway is given the same engineering respect as other parts of the roadway, it will be given more respect by users.
Anderson says PBOT plans to do something by the end of summer and they’ll make a final decision in mid-August. I’ll keep tabs on this and share any developments. For now, any thoughts on how to make these buffered bike lanes work better?