Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on November 1st, 2006 at 3:07 pm
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the new “hotel zone” bike lane markings on SW Broadway in front of the Heathman and Benson Hotels.
Since that post I’ve been observing both hotels to see how quickly they try to remove vehicles from the bike lane and how proactive they are in preventing encroachment in the first place.
First, let’s face the facts. Having a bike lane in these areas is not an ideal situation for anyone involved.
To the hotel staff, it’s just a nuisance, to their guests, it’s likely they don’t even know its there, and for cyclists, it presents a choice between slowing, stopping and waiting, or merging with downtown motor vehicle traffic for a few yards.
To me, it’s a matter of respect. As long as the bike lane exists, I think it’s only fair to expect that bicycle traffic is given the same consideration as the motor vehicle traffic.
Here are photos of both hotel bike lanes in action:
On the left is the Benson Hotel, who I found to repeatedly leave motor vehicles in the bike lane. Small buses, taxis, and private vehicles regularly obstruct the bike lane for far longer than “momentarily,” which is what the law allows (ORS 811.560 says vehicles are exempt from staying out of the bike lane only when, “standing or parked momentarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers”).
On the right is the Heathman, who I found to be going out of their way to keep cars out of the bike lane. I was shocked to see that a valet had the cars parked in the motor vehicle lane with their hazard lights on, keeping the bike lane free and clear.
The valet actually told me that city parking enforcement regularly tickets motor vehicles that are in the bike lane. Cool.
I think some day these bike lanes will be removed or dramatically re-configured (although it will take some innovative thinking and guts to make this happen). Until then, remember to use extra caution in these areas.