Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 19th, 2006 at 10:13 am
I recently got an email from a reader who was curious about Portland’s blue bike lanes. I did a little research and decided to share my findings with everyone.
The City of Portland — with a grant from ODOT — first experimented with blue bike lanes back in 1997. They selected ten locations that according to an internal report had “a high level of cyclist and motorist interaction and conflict areas where motorists and cyclists had safety concerns.”
Some quick research revealed an interesting PDOT website with everything you ever wanted to know about blue bike lanes, including this in-depth report (PDT) that includes detailed anaysis and schematic drawings like the one below.
According to PDOT’s bike coordinator Roger Geller, they are moving forward and plan to install more of them:
“We’ve got almost 10 years of experience with them, analyzed them extensively when we first installed them, and recognize them as a legitimate traffic control device. We are intending to expand their use; the first new location will be at Everett & 16th at the entrance to I-405.”
I think painted blue bike lanes are an effective roadway treatment for high motorist/bicycle conflict areas. But — as with all lane markings — the danger is that they give a false sense of security to bicyclists.
In a PDOT report on the efficacy of the lanes, they found that the number of bicyclists that turned their head to look for motor vehicles decreased (from 43% to 26%) after the new markings were installed. This is not a good trend. Our safety depends on being aware of our surroundings at all times.
What are your experiences with the blue bike lanes? Do you feel they have improved your safety?