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New idea for Foster Road: A center median bike lane

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 12th, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Detail of a new concept for
SE Foster Road.

The City of Portland is currently trying to decide how to re-design the failing SE Foster Road. As it exists today, the street is a classic auto-centric thoroughfare with the crash rates and unwelcoming atmosphere to match. Late last year there were dreams of making a major bikeway on the street; but as our Michael Andersen recently reported, it appears the City has scaled back their ambitions to nothing more than an old-fashioned bike lane.

At issue is how to manage the space on the street in a way that meets the many goals the project's stakeholder committee has set for itself. Those goals include, "a safe corridor for motor vehicle travel with smooth, consistent traffic movement" and "adequate on-street parking" as well as, "a safe attractive, and comfortable cycling environment."

While neighborhood activists, advocates and city staff are still hashing out a final design (likely to be chosen in July), a new concept has emerged: A cycle track in the middle of the street, a.k.a. a center median bike lane.

I first heard about this idea from a frequent commenter on the site named "ScottB". In his comment on a story about the Foster Road project back in November he wrote,

"How about creating a median with bike lanes and trees and only have auto crossings at the major intersections, or a set spacing. 60 feet permits two 8 ft parking lanes, two 12 ft travel lanes (generous) and leaves 20 feet in the middle to work with. So two 6 ft bike lanes and two 4 ft (std) planting strips for trees. Peds stay on the sidewalks outside the curb line. Consider the elimination of right hooks."

Then ScottB forwarded me the graphic below showing the center median cycle track in action.

A mock-up of a center-median cycle track on SE Foster Road.

This is an interesting concept that has plenty of precedent around the country. The two biggest examples that come to mind are the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue...

DC bike infrastructure-16

And the center-running cycle track on Sands Avenue in New York City...

Manhattan Bridge approach-3-1
Manhattan Bridge approach-2
Manhattan  Bridge approach

Also in New York City is the new Allen Street bikeway...

Allen St at Delancey-2

And Queens Plaza North...

Queens plaza north-7-1

Whether or not this idea becomes officially part of the mix of options for SE Foster Road remains to be seen; but I hope we don't end up settling for just another bike lane.

What do you think?

— Read more about this project in our archives and on the City's official project page.

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Comments
  • Erinne June 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I hated the center bike lane on Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis. I don't know if it's still here (I lived there about 12 years ago). It could have been better, I suppose, if there was honestly a good transition to get to the center, rather than dodging buses across a couple of lanes. But as a "new" cyclist I felt very insecure in the middle of traffic.

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    • bb June 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      try the new improved approach and tell me how you feel as cars right hook you.

      I liked the center bike lane.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • joel June 13, 2013 at 9:30 am

      i hear its a great place to plow snow into.

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      • Champs June 13, 2013 at 9:55 am

        Irrelevant in downtown Minneapolis, but elsewhere in the city, you'd get the opposite effect. Plowed snow spills well over the curb and nudges parked cars into the bike lane for just about the duration of (solar) winter. By February, there's nothing left.

        I've done my share of winter riding there and have the rusty studded tires to prove it, but it's hard to call this a loss. There is only so much fun in that riding season, and the people who do find it rarely talk about the streets.

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    • Champs June 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

      The main argument against them seemed to be that they're "weird", so with great fanfare they replaced with "normal" lanes buffered by parked cars and little else on 1st Ave. So long as people FEEL safer, I guess it doesn't matter that they can be doored and right-hooked.

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  • Case June 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Any improvement would be a major improvement.

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  • jeff June 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Doesn't make a damn worth of difference without a reduction in speed.

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  • davemess June 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I'm interested in this idea, but curious if it could work on Foster, as there are a lot less lights than the above pictures. This makes it harder for bikes to get into the middle of the road, and a lot more of a danger of cars turning into the path. Am I wrong in understanding that cars would only be able to turn left at stoplights? Between 52nd and 82nd there are only 3 stoplights (off the top of my head, 72nd, 68th?, and Holgate). Would that be enough to make this work? Three turning options in over 1.5 miles seems like it would be a no go.

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    • ScottB June 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      It depends on the length of the bike median. If the distance between signals is particularly long, additional U-turn lanes could be added intermittently. These would be one lane crossings for the cyclists.

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  • was carless June 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I've heard that center bike lanes are a terrible thing to do:

    "In the past, Assen had cycle-lanes in the
    middle of the road. They're gone now.
    Not a good idea. Don't copy this."

    http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2013/04/the-netherlands-sets-best-example-but.html

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

      Unprotected by even a buffer from the picture.

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  • was carless June 12, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Why can't the city of Portland just learn from its previous "experiments" in bike lanes/cycle tracks/green bike lanes/etc and install one of the already-tested bike infrastructure/treatments on Foster? There is no need to invent a new type of bikeway and use real people as guinea pigs for someone's idiot pet project at PBOT.

    This really makes me think the CoP is not serious at all about the bike mode share and street safety.

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    • Spiffy June 13, 2013 at 7:34 am

      I'm not sure that they have any past projects that have completely worked... but they could certainly use existing ideas that were mostly good...

      they want to do it right so they're looking at different options...

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    • Nick Falbo June 13, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Note that this center-bikeway idea is a third-party concept, and was not floated by PBOT as an official option. If this gets enough traction, the committee may explore it, but don't take this proposal as a sign that PBOT isn't being serious.

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      • was carless June 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

        Ah, good to know. Guess I was jumping to conclusions!

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  • Brent Logan June 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Tired of worrying about traffic on the adjacent lane? Double the "fun" by sticking the bike lanes in the middle of traffic... :-/

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    • was carless June 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Yeah, there is nothing to stop people driving their cars right through the "bike lane" in the middle of the street. Like when they're making a left turn.

      Also, I'd like to point out that center bikeways do NOT serve local destinations at all. Considering that Foster is seeing a growth in local retail businesses in a pedestrian-friendly zone ala Mississippi or Division, this is a considerable failure in the design!

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      • Chris I June 13, 2013 at 6:14 am

        This is the best argument against this concept. This idea is a decent one, if there is physical separation, and if the road in question has no destinations on the side to access.

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        • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:41 am

          Because no one ever gets hurt riding in a right side bike lane...

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      • shirtsoff June 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm

        @ was carless
        I wonder how the central bike lane would work with first responders.. Of course they would utilize it if no physical barriers prevented transitioning into it, BUT I wonder if the adjacent car traffic would permit the cyclists to transition through their lanes and pull over abruptly in a situation with an approaching first responder. They should but sometimes people fail to realize the presence of first responder vehicles until they're right upon them and react stubbornly to traffic complying with these emergency vehicles.

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  • John Liu June 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    No room for left turning cars to wait without blocking traffic. Replace "right hooks" with "left hooks". Bikes now have to cross traffic to get from the bike lane to shops. I don't think the idea works.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:43 am

      Left turning vehicle would typically not cross the median, that's what makes medians one of the 9 proven safety measures that reduce crashes on busy corridors. Lefts take place at signalized intersections with separate phasing for through and left/u-turns.

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  • alex June 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Seems like an idea better suited for a road with less retail. All example photos above make it look not friendly for stoppin n shoppin. Just moved to a few houses off Foster, so really excited for this project. My vote would be cycle-tracks on the side.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Like maybe Powell east of 50th? Division east of 82nd? 102nd north of Halsey? It is more of a thoughway design, like major city traffic streets all are.

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  • Chris Sanderson June 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I was at the intersection of Powell and Foster with bike, trailer, and tools in tow. What struck me, as I sat there waiting for the crossing signal (definitely a bike-shitty intersection) was that the turn off from Powell to Foster is essentially a LAUNCHING PAD. If there is work done on SE Foster, some traffic calming measure needs to be done to that turn off on to Foster to set the tone of a redesigned road. Otherwise, the "get-out-of-my-way," high-stressed, drivers trying to bomb back to Clackistan are going to plow into someone.

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  • roger noehren June 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    It's a terrible idea! A treatment such as Hawthorne Blvd east of Caesar E Chavez Blvd, with a center turning lane and single extra wide travel lanes w/o striped bike lanes would be preferable.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Hawthorne east of Chavez ends at about 55th and has about 5,000 trips a day with 85% going 33 mph. Foster, with 4 lanes, 85% going 33-39 and 19,000-24,000 trips per day. Not the same kind of streets.

      The proposed road diet, one of 9 proven safety measures identified by the FHWA, will slow down speeds on Foster. You can't really go faster than the slowest driver ahead of you. Vancouver-Williams has about the same amount of traffic going each direction, but much more speeding on Williams because motorists can pass slower cars.

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  • Paul Cone June 13, 2013 at 7:04 am

    I was in DC a couple weeks ago and rode the one on Pennsylvania Avenue. I was a little apprehensive and my girlfriend was even more so, especially with all the crazy drivers in DC. Later I was talking to someone who lives there and he told me that they are planning on taking it out because there have been too many crashes involving bikes.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Did you look at the picture of Pennsylvania Avenue. It's nothing like what we have here. It also doesn't go anywhere and is a national parade route.
      Apples to lobster comparison.

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    • Allan June 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

      no buffer there

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    • Unit June 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm

      As far as I can tell, it's untrue that they are considering removing the Penn Ave center-running bike lanes. DC is, in fact, looking at ways to physically prevent the illegal U-turns that drivers make across the bike lanes, which is a real problem.

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    • Skwirlyo June 14, 2013 at 12:18 am

      There has been a lot of discussion about the propensity of dangerous, illegal U-turns (despite tons of signage) on Pennsylvania Ave. (For instance: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/16434/u-turns-on-pennsylvania-avenue-bike-lanes-pose-safety-risk/)

      The bollards are taken out a lot of the time to accomodate parades (most recently for the Inauguration.) They're the flimsy ones that barely dissuade anybody, anyways, though.

      Penn Ave is also complicated by historic preservation issues, specifically people wanting to maintain the view of the Capitol.

      Taxis and tourists are big offenders. Foster should be able to do better.

      To be sure, there is something super amazing about rolling right up on the Capitol in that bike lane. Although there aren't a lot of good options for where to go next once you reach the eastern end -- one would want a connector to Union Station, the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the Capitol Hill and Eastern Market neighborhoods, as well as to Navy Yard and Nationals Stadium and the Anacostia Riverfront. On the western end, you would want a connector to the boathouse, Kennedy Center and Rock Creek Park. And come to think of it, there's not really a good way to get to the Washington Monument part of the Mall since the bike path ends and 14th street has heavy traffic both for tourism and for getting to the freeway...

      Nevertheless, I like to imagine oil lobbyists shaking their fists in anger at the encroachment upon the site of their livelihood and I'm sure that staffers get a lot of use out of it. Blumenhauer was a big supporter of the bike lane.

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  • GlowBoy June 13, 2013 at 7:47 am

    "only have auto crossings at the major intersections"

    Sounds like bike access to and from the bike lanes would also have to be limited to major intersections. As others have said this might be good for through streets where cyclists rarely want to enter or leave the roadway, but it seems that the reduction in bike-car conflict here (if there is one) would come at the expense of cyclists' convenience. That would also limit the benefit to local businesses of patronage from passing cyclists - which is supposed to be one of the goals here.

    Also, limiting autos' left turns and other crossings to a few major intersections will make Foster more of a barrier to travel, causing local drivers to go more miles to get to their destinations, which has the effect of increasing traffic on quiet local streets. Basically it makes the traffic pattern slightly more suburban. Some might hypothesize that this added inconvenience will encourage people to get out of their cars, but I'm skeptical. In this case I think carrots work better than sticks. And I"m not sure this design is much of a carrot anyway.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Cyclists could access the cycle track an any intersection, just like a pedestrian crossing at a median refuge.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Transportation is a balancing act. We have a fixed size to work with, so, by default, almost every alteration to the existing space use will alter the convenience/availability for other uses. There is no magic to perform that will add bike lanes without reducing or eliminating auto lanes. We've already done 98% of those streets.

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  • Brian E. June 13, 2013 at 7:53 am

    not related to Foster, but-

    Isn't the purpose of a "no turn" center median to keep cars farther apart so they don't crash head-on when someone drifts out of their lane? I'd want some sort of barrier protection if I was on a bike. Plus some ear plugs and a gas mask.

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  • Granpa June 13, 2013 at 8:13 am

    The I-205 bike path is a center lane bike route and it is dirty, noisy and despite the views, unpleasant. A center lane bike lane on Foster would be all of those things except without mountain and river views and without the protection of barriers isolating cyclists from fast moving drivers.

    PBOT may fancy itself pretty clever coming up with all kinds of new or different roadway organization systems, but drivers are creatures of habit and without training and behavior enforcement will disregard the routing sugguestions defined by striping. Cars park in bike lanes and stop in bike boxes all the time..............

    Despite the hypotenuse "shortcut" afforded by the diagonal alignment I will use the grid system and find routes on quieter streets and avoid the traffic and danger of this major collector.

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  • spare_wheel June 13, 2013 at 8:30 am

    My comments on this post are here:

    tinyurl.com/ojjs9k9

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  • Brett June 13, 2013 at 8:52 am

    The designs presented to the stakeholder advisory committee meeting have always included considerations of cost. It has been made clear to the group that cost matters, so the options have been narrowed to what is financially feasible, not necessarily what would be the best design. Moving the curb would be costly and would come at the expense of the sidewalk areas.
    The only "cycletrack" option presented was up on the sidewalks and weaving back out to the road at ALL intersections and driveways for visibility. This would make for a cramped and potentially unsafe sidewalk experience for all users, essentially taking away one of the positive features of Foster - wide sidewalks. (The width of the ROW decreases significantly in the eastern portions of this project, so the wide sidewalks are referring to the western project segments only.)
    At the minimum I'm hoping for bike facilities of some sort on Foster, a 3-lane roadway, and a reduction of the speed limit down to 30.
    I really don't see the center median bike lanes working on Foster. Unless street parking is limited or eliminated on one side of the road, I think "just another bike lane" is the best option, unless someone has a hidden pot of funding they are wanting to dump into this project.

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  • RR June 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Foster is a high traffic street. Even with bike lanes, it will still be a high traffic street and unpleasant to ride on. There are lots of alternative routes in the Foster area ( unless one wants to take it all the way out to Damascus). Not all streets need to be bike friendly. Foster is one best left to cars...

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    • Brett June 13, 2013 at 10:12 am

      I'd love to see where there are "lots of alternative routes" in the Foster area that don't involve 'stair-stepping' a relatively long distance compared to the straight shot ON Foster.

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    • Psyfalcon June 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Alternative routes?

      Such as?

      There are no good routes in that [explitive] triangle of Powell and Foster.

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  • Syzlak June 13, 2013 at 9:09 am

    No center median bike lane! Just do cycle tracks with those widths, though I'd say narrow the car lanes to 10ft and use that extra foot to widen the bike lane/cycle track.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 10:24 am

      As a major truck street and transit corridor, 11 ft lanes are the minimum.

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      • Nick Falbo June 13, 2013 at 11:03 am

        Scott, thanks for the fun concept. Do you have any opinions on the following in the context of conventional bike lanes:

        - Adjacent to a bike lane, does the travel lane really need to be 11 ft? Next to parking I could see the concern, but next to a bike lane it seems like we could 'trade' a foot of lane without impacting operation at all. Instead of 11+6, we get 10+7

        - Foster is not a major truck street. It has the same truck/transit classification as Hawthorne Blvd. We put up with substandard (<10 ft) lanes along hawthorne, is it really asking to much to say 10 ft lanes are worth it to trade for better bike lanes?

        - Continuing with this thinking, could we also narrow up the parking lane to 7 ft? Again, next to moving cars/transit I could see the problem with narrow parking lanes, but next to the bike lane it seems like there could be a benefit if that space is given to the bike lane. (Note that I'm not asking for 7 ft parking and 5 ft lane - that is bad. Rather, I'm thinking about a 7ft parking lane next to a 7 or 8 ft bike lane.)

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        • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

          1. Depends on the street. The purpose of striping is usually positive guidance. Helping users interact better. If you give a user 11 feet they are likely to use all of it, same for six versus seven feet. The issue on Foster is it is a truck route and transit route. Those vehicles might be limited to 8.5 ft, but that does not include the mirrors on the vehicles. So, if the vehicle and mirrors gets to 10 feet, there is no margin for error, and people make mistakes. I would prefer 11+7.

          2. Foster is designated Truck Access in the TSP and it is a Major City Traffic Street for autos, so it will have the same kinds of truck traffic along its length as a major truck street, but the road design does not need to be designed for trucks like a Major Truck street does. This is another of those balancing things. We could have 10 ft lanes, but at the expense of additional broken mirrors and sideswipes and a few more rear-end collisions (not everyone uses the center turn lane correctly). Only counting the up front costs gets us most of the infrastructure we currently have. If we want better, we need to think in bigger terms, not just first costs, but life-cycle costs to the citizens of portland. the cheapest solution for PBOT might cost you more.

          3. Portland has striped the parking lane near the street car in an effort to get drivers to park as close as possible to a curb. For most cars that works, but not if the street has a truck loading zone. If the vision for Foster is to look like Hawthorne or Mississippi, then the store owners will need on-street truck loading zones, and as most reader here may know, even 8 feet isn't enough for some trucks. One solution is to move the curb closer to the property line at a truck loading zone, but those zones and the needs of businesses have a tendency to change over time. If we are going to narrow the parking lane, I would prefer a buffer between the parking lane and bike lane.

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          • Nick Falbo June 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

            Thanks for the answers! I totally agree that 11+7 is better given the context, and if we're going to move the curbs, then I'm sure we'll be sticking to the by-the-book standards.

            But if we don't move the curbs, we're stuck with the decision of where to place lane lines given a fixed curb-to-curb width. Today the proposal is:

            8-6-11-10-11-6-8
            Could it instead be 7-8-10-10-10-8-7 ?

            An 8 foot bike lane is *far* more comfortable than a 6 ft bike lane.

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            • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm

              Tough to say. Worst case scenario is the parked car door swings out 2-3 feet and the cyclist swerves toward the auto lane. With only one auto lane, it's going to have autos next to the bike lane more often than if you were watching today. So when the cyclist swerves they're likely swerving toward a moving vehicle going 35 mph.
              Peak hours will be the most difficult, when most people are commuting. Maybe a floating bike lane with protime parking is the solution.

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              • Nick Falbo June 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm

                Exactly. and it seems like with the wider bike lane condition bicyclists would be farther from the parked cars than with the standard lane, and have a little more wiggle room on the travel side.

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  • Ben June 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Given the lack of funds for a separated cycle track, the giant bike lane proposed for Foster seems like a pretty great deal to those of us who live in the neighborhood. Reducing auto lanes from four to two with a turn lane will make it far safer to cross the street. I don't see any benefit to a center lane for bikes—It's just as bad for pedestrians, and how the hell would we turn out of it? Foster isn't just a travel corridor between Hawthorne and the Springwater.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 11:05 am

      How is it bad for pedestrians to have, at every minor intersection, a refuge area to cross a busy street?

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      • Ben June 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

        A refuge area full of speeding bicycles?

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        • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm

          Speeding? Cyclists in the roadway are required to yield to pedestrians crossing the street, same as if operating a motor vehicle.

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  • Craig Harlow June 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Why not shift the cycle-track to the curb, and re-purpose the five feet of that second buffer--like, for example, to widen the bike lanes for truly safe passing and side-by-side riding? I know it would necessitate two-stage turns in many instances, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

      Vehicles turning accross the bike path from different directions and motorists looking two different ways for cyclists going 12 mph instead of pedstrians at 3-5 mph just doesn't pencil out for safety. Roadside cycle tracks work great for superblocks, like SW Broadway, but not so much in Portlands 250' grid network.

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      • Cora Potter June 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        As an angle street - Foster has very very very long blocks. Much longer than 250 feet in most cases.

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  • Dan V June 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Whichever side they put the bike lane, it will quickly become the passing lane for people dodging those who slow to turn, unless there is a physical barrier (NOT plastic wickets) to prevent it. That being my main issue with painted stripes to delinate bike facilities...

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    • Craig Harlow June 13, 2013 at 10:11 am

      Agree.

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  • Paul June 13, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Put the auto parking in the center lane

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  • WishDish June 13, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I'd be a bit intimidated by a center bike lane; especially for the additional difficulty of getting out of the middle. I ride with a bike trailer with my child and being on the outside of the road gives me a chance to escape potential driver errors. If i'm in the middle of the road I can only go into on coming traffic to avoid traffic errors.

    I don't recommend a center meridian for bike lanes but would encourage there to be trees and less pavement. It would beautify the strip and be a more attractive space.

    If we could leave bike lanes to the outside and produce a more retail friendly strip for Foster that would be appreciated.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      I'm curious how many cyclists access businesses directly from the bike path versus finding parking first. I see the solution to long block access the same as for pedestrians, mid-block crossing points.

      Here's a link to a study:
      http://tinyurl.com/median-bike-path

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  • Jim Lee June 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

    My idea too, but with two additions related to the neglected fact that Foster's Road is a DIAGONAL ARTERIAL:

    !. The center bike lanes must be PHYSICALLY isolated so motorists cannot hang high speed LEFT turns across them into side streets, both east-west and north-south.

    2. Roundabouts must be placed every quarter mile or so to allow motorists to safely and SLOWLY reverse course and make RIGHT turns to destinations on the other side of the street. The central bike lanes would bisect the roundabouts, allowing cyclists access to wide sidewalks on either side to access their destinations.

    Also, the roundabouts would provide the traffic calming so urgent and necessary on this vital arterial. There is plenty of width at Foster's three-way intersections to accommodate them.

    Foster's Road is the oldest arterial in our city, being a terminal branch of the Oregon Trail from Foster's Farm near Damascus. Spending dollars to upgrade this historical wagon road for all us immigrants--pedestrians, cyclists, motorists--ought to be a very high priority for our city.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Correctly designed modern roundabouts operate in the 15-20 mph range, and are certainly a safer option for intersections than a typical signal, but modern roundabouts with center through lanes require signal control for the through the middle path. It would be better to have cyclists merge with traffic and exit onto the far side median.
      Modern roundabouts would only slow traffic at the intersection, not between them. The single lane of the road diet would likely have greater effect.

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  • anon1q2w3e4r5t June 13, 2013 at 10:42 am

    When I'm riding in Long Beach, CA, I sometimes ride along 4th street (aka Retro Row). This street has cars parked along the side and only one lane available in each direction, I believe there are sharrows on it too. Instead of riding in the lanes, I would use the center median as a bike lane. Here's a Google Streetsview of the street:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=long+beach,ca+4th+st&hl=en&ll=33.767447,-118.160963&spn=0.057937,0.087461&geocode=+&hnear=E+4th+St,+Long+Beach,+California&t=m&layer=c&cbll=33.771718,-118.166151&panoid=UWbL0jcPFtUzlroO5WqXpw&cbp=12,241.3,,0,10.07&z=14

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  • Allan June 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I think that center-running bike lanes have their place and could be done in this case. I think the desire to maintain a fairly high level of auto-mobility means that this is going to make this feel stressful but I want to see this tried somewhere in the city. over time, barriers of some kind could be added to a facility like this

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  • Thomas June 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I've haven't seen anyone ask this question.
    --Right Turns from the center bike lanes -- how?
    --Do I merge with the 33-39mph cars to make a right?
    --Do I stop at an intersection, wait for the light, exit on the cross-walk?

    If the answer is merge, how is this different from having to merge when wanting to make a left? (when using a bikelane to the right)
    If the answer is to stop and exit at a light - where do I stop without blocking through traffic in the bikelane?

    there has been some discussion of entry/exit - but what are the mechanics of moving bicyclists to/from the center lanes when the start/end.

    The section view is nice - but if you want to sell the concept - you need to explain the full package.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Right turns to where? at intersections, yes using a bike space or the widened crosswalk (15 ft).

      To businesses along the block, plan your route and use the local street crossing just before or just after your destination, the way a motorist finds a parking space.

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  • Jim Lee June 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    @ScottB

    Your comments about roundabouts on Foster's Road are apposite, causing me to rethink the matter.

    Almost all the motor traffic there is through traffic; motor vehicles would be crossing a central bisection by cycle traffic only if turning left. Then motorist and cyclist would be observing each other at right angles, optimal for safe interaction; speeds of motorist and cyclist would be comparable too.

    Maybe "shark teeth," ala Sun River (where I shall be residing the next several days), indicating right-of-way to motorists, should be included. They would alert cyclists and urge caution, even at right angles, just as at SR.

    I think we could do without ugly, interfering, dangerous signals. My scheme obviates possibility of right (and left) hooks and dooring too.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      There is no dooring in a modern roundabout, since there is no parking there. Modern roundbouts act similar to signals in that they attract traffic due to the increase in movements possible. I've sketched a solution at Foster/Holgate, where the signal is and left turns are prohibited. A modern roundabout could handle those left turns. Side streets would access Foster at the roundabout and many of them would be making left turns.
      I just don't see a benefit to a hamburger style modern roundabout. Roundabouts are supposed to eliminate right angle collisions.

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  • maxadders June 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I like the idea of a center lane, but at the same time it's yet another chunk of facility inconsistency-- how many "new ideas" are we going to roll out before we pick one and stick with it? We've got bike lanes, bike boxes, separated cycletracks, the crazy left-side-bike-lane that's getting forced onto Williams, etc. Where are drivers supposed to expect bike traffic? The correct answer shouldn't be "everywhere." If that's the case, bikes are better off in the traffic lane.

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    • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      There is no one right answer on one facilty that works for everyone using a particular mode. No one size fits all street, sidewalk, bikeway.

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  • ScottB June 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Found another such plan:

    http://tinyurl.com/l8z9myh

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    • Another insider June 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Did you vet this with anyone else at pbot before going public with it?

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      • Nick Falbo June 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm

        Vetted or not, I think more conversation is a good thing. (thanks for the thought experiment Scott!). There seems to be close-to-consensus out there that the best bikeway for Foster is better than a 5 or 6 ft bike lane.

        Are these center running bike lanes better? Maybe. Let's talk about it as a community.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm

          yes! Thanks for saying that Nick.We cannot allow ourselves to be constrained by a lack of ideas and options for projects like this. This stuff is too important. As a community we must push PBOT and ourselves to be open to new ideas and solutions that might not have been tried before. If we limit ourselves to what's been done before we'll get the same results we've always gotten.

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        • Another insider June 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm

          I don't disagree. I was talking about the notion of a PBOT employee semi-anonymously floating a new option to bike portland without vetting it internally first. Or maybe he did; that's why I asked.

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  • Lenny Anderson June 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    No mention of transit in this string. I was in favor of bikelanes on Hawthorne years ago as proposed by the BTA until it became clear that narrowing that street up to then 39th Avnue to 2 lanes with a center turn lane would compromise the 14 bus. It runs every 5 minutes in the peak and carried a lot of folks on local trips back when I lived out there in the 90's. Whether transit means buses or streetcars, it has to be in the discussion, and it will not do to degrade it.
    Foster presents the same challenge as Williams (and Multnomah and NE Broadway, and...) how do we have bikes and buses on the same street?
    Possible solutions? Bikes on the opposite side as per Williams and NE Broadway (Streetcar only)....does not apply on Foster; or NE Multnomah...clear sharrows markings at bus stops, or NE 7th where Streetcar stops are at in street platforms. What is the BTA proposing for NE Broadway to accommodate buses?

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    • Cora Potter June 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      Lenny, I've been bringing it up on other threads and at the CAC meetings. The problem is people are so wrapped up in the bike lanes and auto lane reduction that they don't have much interest into inserting transit into the equation, even though it is a very serious issue.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

        Imagine if people who wanted an awesome Foster Road got together to push for the maximum amount of human traffic possible and supported bicycling, walking and transit. The problem with this and other projects in Portland is that the City is too afraid to discourage auto use/parking and therefore we vastly constrain the possibilities for doing something great. It's sort of absurd that we are even thinking about allowing so much of this street space to be taken up by the most inefficient, unhealthy, expensive, and dangerous mode of travel while other modes fight over scraps left behind.

        The "bicycle lobby" on its own cannot vanquish auto domination... But if folks who care about walking and transit got together with folks who care about bicycling than we might get somewhere.

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        • Cora Potter June 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

          Johnathan - in this case the "bicycle lobby" involved in the CAC for Foster Road is promoting a specific biking solution and not taking transit and ped needs into account. In some instances I've seen the preservation of auto parking used as a wedge to ensure that the preferred bike lane implementation stays in place.

          I'm not saying it's the BTA's position, but there are some vocal commute cyclists that have been attending CAC meetings that are pushing standard bike lanes and really don't want to see anything else.

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    • Terry D June 14, 2013 at 9:34 am

      I know Portland is VERY reticent about putting bikes and buses in the same lane since buses are BIG and bikes are SMALL. At Copingwithbikes.org we have tried to keep greenways and bus routes on parallel streets to avoid conflict. However, In Madison Wisconsin, State Street runs from the state Capital to the University. This street only allows bikes, cops, and buses (cabs at night)....and there are a LOT of Buses and Bikes. It worked fairly well, even though this was the MAIN bus corridor for the city (think 5th-6th DT).

      Since Foster only has the 14, I do not see why a bus/bike only lane would not work. This may not be the street to try it on since this is a streetcar route in the long term plan and we all know streetcars and bike routes should NOT be on the same street unless completely separated....but it is worth a look at. I would take a WIDE bike lane with a bus route on it.....playing leap frogger with ONE bus even if it is a frequent route is better than riding in the lane or riding in the door zone of a narrow bike lane.

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      • Craig Harlow June 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        It only has the 14 now, but isn't Foster a probable candidate for a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) experiment in the very near future?

        http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2013/05/powelldivision.html

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        • Terry D June 22, 2013 at 8:19 am

          Exactly, which is why I said that this may not be the right road for it....but is an roadway configuration that really worked in "Mad Town."

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  • Cora Potter June 14, 2013 at 7:03 am

    94" ROW in Bangalore: http://thecityfix.com/files/2012/12/Image-3.jpg

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    • Terry D June 14, 2013 at 9:36 am

      I am going to save that graphic. Nice!!

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  • Brett June 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I hope there is still time for some alternative options to surface for this project, but the Foster Road Streetscape Refresh process is nearly over. All of this seems a little late at this point in the process.

    The big issue with any major improvement over the bike lane design is that it would quickly become too expensive to accomplish in the near term. The only mention of bikes for the funds currently available ($3.25M) are improving bike parking and crossings. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/413189 Unless the project receives both the STIP grant ($2.2M) and the Metro Regional Flexible Funds ($2M), I fear anything beyond a basic design will be planning exercise only.

    All of that being said, keep the ideas coming! We can do better.

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  • paul g. June 14, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I don't think comments like this help the discussion:

    Otherwise, the "get-out-of-my-way," high-stressed, drivers trying to bomb back to Clackistan are going to plow into someone.

    I don't know what percentage of drivers going east on Foster after Powell head straight on through to Clackamas County, but I'm pretty sure the original poster doesn't either.

    It's awfully easy to stereotype everyone who drives a car east on Foster, or east on Division for that matter, as some suburbanite SUV driver, but would it change your viewpoint if the vast majority of drivers are working class folks who live in the vast populated areas within the city boundaries known as East Portland because they can't afford to live close to the city core any longer?

    If bicycling advocates are going to work productively with the communities in these areas, where we know that bike usage is already very low, then they really need to avoid these kind of generalizations.

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  • Nick Falbo June 17, 2013 at 10:16 am

    While we're sharing unofficial alternative ideas on Foster Rd - how about real, raised cycle tracks: http://fosterunited.org/something-better-than-bike-lanes-for-foster/

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    • alex June 17, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Doubling the cost of the project for this realistically will not happen right? I really want the cycle tracks, Could an alternative be: same layout/positioning of the cycle track proposal, but instead of it being raised to sidewalk level, it is street level with a curb to separate the bike lane from the parking/traffic. Then we wouldn't have to move poles, sewer drains, etc?

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      • Nick Falbo June 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        Thankfully projects can often be built in stages, so we may be able to say that we want cycle tracks in the future, while still implementing bike lanes and other improvements today.

        Unfortunately there isn't enough room for an "easy" cycle track. It's close, but not quite.

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