"Our design standards still point to bike lanes for this particular project... After reviewing the data, a physically separated bicycle facility did not appear to be warranted."
— Jilayne Jordan, ODOT Community Affairs
Our story last week about an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) "safety project" on NE Sandy Blvd has gotten the agency's attention. After being emailed by several readers who questioned the agency's chosen design for handling bike access in the project, ODOT community affairs staff sent out a detailed, bulk email on Friday afternoon. The email explains why ODOT chose standard bike lanes on the busy freight route instead of something with more separation — like a cycle track or a buffered bike lane — as recommended by their own design guidelines.
As per the project, ODOT is widening a 1.1 mile stretch of Sandy to include a center turn lane as well as two, six-foot wide bike lanes. ODOT Region 1 Community Affairs Coordinator Jilayne Jordan says the new turn lane is intended to reduce rear-end and other collisions and serve as, "a refuge for vehicles turning left onto or off of the highway."
The addition of bike lanes are a step forward from the gravel-strewn shoulders that exist there today. However, merely widening that shoulder and painting a stripe on it doesn't seem like much in a $3.6 million project aimed at improving safety.
In their response, ODOT listed several reasons why they are moving forward with the bike lanes and not a more appealing bikeway.