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PDOT unveils plans for bike lanes in “Naito Gap”

Posted by on October 10th, 2007 at 9:47 am

[Updated 10/10, 10:24am]

“There was quite an outcry from the cycling community, so PDOT engineers came up with a design that would allow bike lanes.”
–From meeting minutes of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee

At the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last night, committee Chair Mark Ginsberg confirmed that PDOT work crews will hope to soon be adding bike lanes to the notorious “Naito Gap”.

After meeting with the City’s Freight Advisory Committee, Bike Coordinator Roger Geller got them to sign off on a re-striping plan that allows for bike lanes in each direction has created a proposal that has been signed-off on by PDOT but is still awaiting final approval from the Freight Committee.

Mr. Geller says, “they expressed their reservations about narrow lanes. Mostly, they’re concerned about having sufficient width to pass cyclists…Currently, what we have is a proposal. At PDOT we’re comfortable with it. We’ll likely stripe it as reported above, but it’s not yet a done deal.”

The gap in the bike lanes were the result of a lack of funding on a recent repaving project for NW Naito Parkway. The federally funded project only paid for new bike lanes to NW Davis, leaving a gap in the bike lane (in photo below and which I pointed out back in June) on both sides of the street just north and south of the Steel Bridge underpass.

A handlebar view of
the “Naito Gap”
(File photo © Jonathan Maus)

According to Mr. Ginsberg, the new bike lanes they hope to stripe will be narrow — down to just four feet in some sections of the southbound lane — but they still fall within PDOT standards (that’s an important consideration from a liability standpoint).

Yes, a four foot bike lane is a bit narrow (bike lanes on N. Vancouver are six feet), but in this case it seems it was either this configuration, or nothing. (The motor vehicle travel lanes will also be constrained. Instead of a usual 12 feet, they will vary from 10-10 1/2 feet.)

I think we should be thankful that Mr. Geller went to bat for bike lanes (and connectivity) in front of the Freight Committee and came out with a hit.

According to PDOT, they expect to stripe the lanes, but they still need final approval from the Freight Committee and, according to Geller, “ideally, no strenuous objections from anybody else.”

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  • Matt October 10, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Let\’s hope there\’s plenty of cool bikelane markings in that section (perhaps with a Japanese theme, since it will run right by Naito park!) so motorists know it\’s a bike lane, and not just a shoulder.

    I would love to see a biker stencil in the bikelane holding chopsticks!


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  • Roger Geller October 10, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Thanks for the coverage Jonathan, and Mark did a good job last night conveying the message (I was home with a stomach bug). Unfortunately, a bit got lost in translation…

    We have a proposal. The Freight Committee has not signed off on it yet. Several of us met with representatives from the freight commitee and they expressed their reservations about narrow lanes. Mostly, they\’re concerned about having sufficient width to pass cyclists. Their mirror-to-mirror width is ten feet two inches (10\’2\”).

    Currently, what we have is a proposal. At PDOT we\’re comfortable with it. We\’ll likely stripe it as reported above, but it\’s not yet a done deal.

    What will make it a done deal? A final review by the City\’s Traffic Engineer and, ideally, no strenuous objections from anybody else.

    Roger Geller

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 10, 2007 at 10:19 am

    \”Unfortunately, a bit got lost in translation…\”

    oops… thanks for the clarification Roger. I will edit the story immediately. Keep me posted on developments.

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  • Lenny Anderson October 10, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Does the Portland Freight Committee now have veto power on how we manage public streets?
    Lane widths should be governed by posted or recommended speed, not vehicle size. If freight vehicles are too large for some streets, maybe shippers need to retrofit their fleets with Sprinters, etc.
    Let\’s not let the tail wag the dog.

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  • amanda October 10, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Does anyone have any good advice for the best spots to cross Naito on bike? I cross at Davis and wait for a green light for the cars as the ped crossing button is a pain to get to. Would be nice for a few \”bike-reachable\” buttons but maybe they are there on other parts of Naito?

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  • Peter W October 10, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Lenny: \”If freight vehicles are too large for some streets, maybe shippers need to retrofit their fleets with Sprinters, etc.\”

    I think TriMet buses are pretty wide too – like 10.5 feet wide.

    But yeah, I\’m annoyed at the pepsi truck which is too wide (or parks badly) and sticks out into the bike lane outside 7-Eleven on Broadway near PSU every morning.

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  • Dan (teknotus) October 10, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    In response to

    I cross on Couch, and like it better than Davis. There is a longer stretch of visibility from the underpass. Going west I use the crosswalk signal, going east I take the lane, and find that keeps cars from nearly running over me making right turns.

    Unfortunately I think less than half of the crosswalks across Naito are reasonably good places to cross even as a pedestrian. The biggest problem being that traffic heading east gets a green turn signal light at the same time as the crosswalk gets the walk signal. If the cars are waiting at a red light they notice the pedestrians. If they are speeding to make it through the light before it turns red they only notice at the last second, and screech to a stop just before then would hit someone in the crosswalk. Sice all of the traffic is crossing crosswalks why would they give them a signal indicating everything is clear when the crosswalk has been manually triggered by a human and is therefore almost garunteed to not be clear?

    Why am I taking the time to post this I could have called the safety number (503) 823-SAFE faster.

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  • Paul Cone October 10, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Frustrating, indeed… EVERY DAY I see trucks and buses that think the bike lane is a parking space.

    If a truck or any other vehicle is illegaly parked in the bike lane, dig your cell phone out of your bag and call Parking Enforcement at 503.823.5195.

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  • Aaron October 10, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks to Roger and Jonathan for both the hard work and the publicity for this issue.

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  • Lenny Anderson October 11, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Sadly, Naito seems to me to be more of a race track now that before re-construction…bikelanes notwithstanding.
    There is only one TriMet bus line, 16, on this particular stretch of Naito; 11\’ foot lanes should be fine…its what we have on N. Greeley where speeds aproach 60 mph.

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  • DK October 11, 2007 at 11:31 am

    I swear there are many spots on corners of Cesar Chavez Blvd. that seem to be way less than affordable for bikes and the constant buzzing of the big rigs together. Especially the double trailered oil ones. You have to remember that there\’s another half of the load coming by. Naito seems like a piece of cake to me.

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  • amanda October 11, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    That\’s a really good point about the crosswalks, Dan, and I\’ll try Couch crossing tonight. Thanks!

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  • Joseph E August 5, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Re: bus width. Most buses are about 2.5 meters, or 8.5 feet. Trucks are the same width.

    MAX vehicles are 8 feet 8.5 inches: http://www.lightrail.com/carspecpages/portland1.htm

    In this document, the state of Ohio limits buses to 8 feet 8 inches max, for example: http://www.ci.akron.oh.us/plansandpermits/forms/MaxDimAndWeights.pdf

    That’s why 10 foot lanes are wide enough for pretty much any street. Cars are narrower, so 8.5 foot lanes would be sufficient on residential streets.

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