At last night’s meeting of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee, PDOT unveiled their initial concepts for adding new bike boxes and blue bike lanes to fourteen Portland intersections.
Commissioner Adams dropped in on the meeting and said he wants to move “quickly but prudently” and hopes to have these safety improvements (see all of them below), “approved and on the ground by the end of the year or sooner.”
These intersections are a subset of a larger list of known hot spots and, following a spate of recent high-profile collisions, were recently fast-tracked by Adams and his Bike Safety Committee for emergency improvements.
At the meeting, PDOT’s head traffic engineer Rob Burchfield and traffic operations staffer Matthew Machado (in photo), presented a series of 16 aerial maps and graphics that showed, for the first time, where these new bike boxes, blue bike lanes, and signage might go (remember these are still in planning stages and PDOT is open to input).
The maps aren’t available online yet, so here are photos I snapped of each one. As you look them over (click to enlarge), listen to this audio clip of Rob Burchfield. In it, he explains PDOT’s thinking and goals behind these improvements:
Download MP3 (2.5MB: 2 min, 50 sec)
[NOTE: There is more information from the meeting — including what Commissioner Adams heard from the Portland Business Alliance — after the photos.]
*NOTE: The difference between these two options is that in Option 2, the bike box stretches the entire width of Hawthorne. This would be done to make it easier for cyclists turning left (north) on SE 7th. To help educate cyclists, the northernmost bike symbol in this bike box would have a left turn arrow on it.
As Burchfield mentions in the audio clip above, all of these bike boxes would be accompanied with new regulatory signage and “No Turn on Red” would be in effect for all of these intersections.
At the meeting, the Bicycle Advisory Committee agreed to draft a letter of support of these plans. The letter will state that the BAC agrees with these changes “in concept” but that they would like further input on specifics before anything is finalized.
Unfortunately, weather might play a factor on when these improvements can be installed. City bike coordinator Roger Geller says the installation will go best in dry and warmish weather. The material being used will likely be thermoplastic (not paint), but Geller says they’re considering other materials as well.
Adams also said he has met with the Portland Business Alliance (since many of these intersections are in the downtown core). He reported that the business community is “very supportive” of these bike safety measures.
Adams said business leaders are concerned about all the PR following recent collisions and the perception that downtown is dangerous. He said, they consider the bike boxes and “No turn on red” a minor inconvenience to keeping people safe.
For more on PDOT’s philosophy on bike boxes and blue bike lanes, read this guest article from Roger Geller.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Everything looks great in my opinion with the one exception being the Interstate photo. Will the right turn onto Greeley continue to be closed or is a blue strip of paint supposed to protect cyclist headed down that stretch?
Is there any way we can add into this proposal turning already existing bike boxes – i.e. at 39th and SE Clinton – that are so often ignored, into these bright blue painted ones? Oh man that would make my day.
Is the thermoplasic designed to wear better? I noticed when riding the other day, I think it was on broadway that one of the blue bike lanes had worn and faded so much it was not very visible. Also I find the blue lane to be a much more visible indication in the day/sun than during the night/rain, is there anything that could be done to make these blue lanes more visible when headlights are the illumination source.
I agree w/ snapper. The bike box at 39th and Clinton is worthless. I see cars pulling into it almost everyday, and also numerous vehicles turning right on red even though there are 2 no right on red signs. I frequently see Tri-met short buses violating these rules.
The paint looks nice but could you explain how this actually keeps you safe. I understand the concept when traffic is stopped and bikes can safely move along the right and up into the bike box at the red light.
Everett already has the pretty paint and I\’ve been nearly \”right hooked\” countless times, when traffic is moving.
My solution: find different routes or get out of the bike lane and into traffic where I can\’t get right hooked.
As for the above ideas, they all look great. Hopefully the blue paint helps remind driver. My only concern is with the interstate section. Is this going to be a problem with the blue covering being slick on this down hill stretch?
Without reading the full text, I am going to throw out an opinion on the \’bike box\’ concept.
Although, I feel I understand what it is attempting to achieve, my experience says that putting cyclists [albeit legally] in front of cars is not the way to keep drivers on the \’sympathetic and caring\’ side.
Drivers commonly do whatever they need to place themselves in front of a perceived hindrance – be that speeding, crossing double yellow lines, traveling the wrong way in lanes of travel, doing the same in blind curves or crests. Now we have a method that then allows the bicyclist to park in front of them? This will not be met with much more than resistance in my opinion.
Add to that the fact that many drivers, as has been noted in other comments, do not still seem to know how to react to bike lanes [or Target Acquisition lanes as I like to call them] and we will now foist another set of markings on them to be confused about? Plus, outright place the target in front of them?
I\’ve been right-hooked, left-hooked, doored and had people take swings at me as many times as everyone else but I don\’t see this helping the attitudes on the street. Nobody cares and people do what they wish.
Allowing a bike to stop further up than a car might help – but most cars already drive into the crosswalk before stopping anyway [another violation].
Unfortunately, I have no solution other than taking lanes and being certain of your timing. Enforcement of existing laws might help as well…but we all hve opinions as to how that goes.
The bike box and expanded signage at Broadway and Williams is simply insufficient. It only expands the places that cyclist are exposed to traffic, cyclists still must transition across travel lanes to reach the \”protected\” bike lane and box. The proposed singage is also inadequate and hence, riders in the bike lane will still be right hooked.
Moving the bike lane to the right shoulder, and installing independent signaling is the best solution to deal with the ongoing safety hazards at this intersection. While it costs more to install it provides a long term, dependable engineering solution to the problem.
Advocacy of the panacea bike boxe solution and disregard for independent signaling options makes me wonder what is the perceived cost/benefit ratio (i.e., acceptable number of injured or killed cyclists) within the PDOT.
In general I\’m not impressed with the options presented.
PS to #7
This is the same state/country/world where we see in-car clips of people slamming into police cars pulled over to the side of a highway administering to violators and construction workers being mowed down in construction zones with lowered limits and safety barricades and blaze orange reflective clothing.
Inattiveness kills and apparently there is little the law can effect that.
I like, I like… but one thought… Are we trying to save blue paint? Why not paint the lane thru the entire intersection?
i hear what people are saying about these actions as insufficient. but you know what? this is a start. if this can actually be implemented by the end of the year that is HUGE. more signage, more bike boxes, this is all just a start to get cars more used to sharing the roadway with bikes. i use bike boxes everyday when i bike on clinton. i think they are very useful when cars aren\’t in them. it assures me that i get to leave the intersection first and that they see me.
baby steps people, this is a baby step.
I don\’t really get the point of the bike boxes. Are you supposed to ride across the lane/take the lane to get into them? Or do you stay in the bike lane, get off on the right and then carry your bike several steps to the left?
And then you take off at the light, and immediately get over to the right side again? Or are you supposed to just take the lane and cars are meant to stay behind you? I\’m not trying to be difficult, but I honestly don\’t get what this extra fiddling around is meant to accomplish (other than not getting us right-hooked).
You can install all the bike boxes you want. If enforcement does not step and keep cars out of the boxes what is the point.
I see plenty of cars driving in bike lanes now. And I\’ve never seen nor heard of any enforcement action along those lines.
The police need to start changing people\’s perceptions about what is acceptable driving behavior. The state legislature needs to step up and make safety a priority. Fund the police. Write laws that will change driving norms.
Bad idea all around, leading to further segregation of bikes from traffic, rather than integration of bikes with traffic.
What are the chances that the police are going to step up enforcement against cyclists that leave these dangerous facilities for their own safety, and pass right-turning traffic on the left, as is proper according to destination positioning and the generally understood rules of the road?
My own two cents is that the Bike boxes are a great idea. They let motorists know that bikes have every right to move to the front of traffic, and let beginner cyclists know that that is what they are expected to do. However, I think that there needs to be some sort of education campaign to inform motorists that they should stop behind these boxes, else I fear additional conflicts between inattentive motorists and belligerent cyclists.
PS: I want several of these on the NE 72nd/Sandy/Fremont intersection!!!
\”You can install all the bike boxes you want. If enforcement does not step and keep cars out of the boxes what is the point.\”
I say that until the infrastructure that we DO have is enforced (if paint can qualify as infrastructure), new paint is a waste of money.
Let\’s keep in mind that while Siobhan Doyle was getting right hooked at the intersection where Brett was killed only two weeks prior, the PPB motorcycle moustache patrol was stinging bikes for rolling stop signs at Ladd\’s addition.
Can we say priorities?
I understand that these are different issues, but really, why are we planning new paint when the paint we do have goes unenforced? Unless of course you\’re a biker leaving the bike lane, trying to take a left turn. Then that paint is REALLY important.
I think that these are all good baby sets to bring forth awareness to drivers who haven\’t been following the events of the last few weeks.
As a bike commuter though, I have a few concerns. Firstly, is the blue paint going to be slick when wet, like the white street markings? Are cyclists suppose to ride up along the right side in a bike lane and then ride perpendicular into a bike box in the event of a red light (option 2 of SE Hawthorne/7th)? Finally, once in a bike box, I\’m assuming that cyclists will have to move on to the right into a bike lane once the light changes? I fear that this might further build resentment from drivers who have to wait on heavily used cycling intersections. Personally, if I am the only cyclist at the intersection, I would stay in the bike lane and not move into a bike box.
Again, as many have said, the key would be proper enforcement of the new changes, and making sure cars a not taking right turns on red at intersections that they were allowed to for years.
tonyt: it obviously takes both immediate action and future planning.
Normally I am quite patient to try things like bike boxes and other ideas, to see which work the best — but in the shadow of no enforcement for the recent obvious infractions and resulting deaths/injuries, my patience for future planning is wearing thin.
I will say that IF we get better enforcement, blue bike boxes will give drivers and more importantly police a strong visual clue that a law/ordinance is being violated if a car is sitting in one.
I like trying the idea, especially since it\’s been successful (not by itself, to be sure) in other places in the world.
But we need enforcement of our existing laws now, and citations issued for the obvious recent infractions.
Finally, we need both drivers and cyclists to take a deep breath, and commit to working together to create a safe environment for all users of the infrastructure.
Even with many years of commuting under my belt, I think the idea of separation is a good one.
I\’m 100% in favor of painting the bike lanes blue as they approach and pass through these trouble intersections, 100% in favor of making them no-right-turn-on-red, and 100% in favor of favorable light timing to get the cyclists through.
I\’m not sure about the bike boxes though. Seems like their only real function is to give an additional visual indicator to watch out for bikes — won\’t the additional blue paint in the bike lanes be enough? There\’s usually enough room in the bike lane anyway for riders to stack up when the light\’s red. And I don\’t see how they\’ll stop right-hooks when the light is GREEN, which is usually when the danger occurs.
Let\’s also be careful about marking too many intersections no-turn-on-red. They have their usefulness at especially dangerous intersections, but I grew up in Minneapolis where the city throws up a no-turn-on-red sign anytime there\’s a collision (usually car-car or truck-car) anywhere, and the city is now littered with them to the point of absurdity. The recent cement truck killing being a notable exception, most often the danger from right hooks is at higher speeds when the light is green, rather than when the cyclist is stopped and the light is red.
But overall I\’m thrilled that we\’re going to give this a try. Let\’s do it and see how things work out.
I missed the meeting but it doesn\’t sound like much emphasis was placed on the misguided enforcement tactics being used by the PPB. I just looked back at the city of portlands 10 years of bike crashes map that was written about on this site back in April.
It can be downloaded here:
I was struck once again by the fact that on the same day that the second cyclist was hit at Interstate and Greeley in as many weeks the cops were running yet another stop sign sting in Ladd\’s Addition. This despite the fact that during a 10 year period on one of the busiest bike throughfares in our city, there was not even one reported injury let alone a fatality on any of the traffic circles within ladd\’s. Zero reports of injuries, ZERO!
The City has the data to know where injury accidents involving cyclists running stop signs do occur, and if they have to run stings that target a progressive form of transportation then at least they could do it in a location that makes some slight bit of sense!
Like you, my patience is also wearing thin. I can\’t help but feel that our efforts at future planning are being used as a distraction, something to make us feel better, while (non)enforcement continues as usual.
I\’ve taken plenty of deep breaths over the years yet am continually stumped by the political disconnect between this city\’s population and a police force that seems to have been trucked in from Alabama.
Bjorn, the cops actions make no sense if their intent is to actually prevent injury.
If one is lazy though, and wishes to shoot fish in a barrel while expending the least amount of physical or mental effort, the Ladd\’s Addition stings make all the sense in the world.
Wasn\’t there just a proposal to lower the educational standards for the PPB yet again? Why am I not surprised?
I think bike boxes is a bad idea. It\’s like cutting in line, that simple.
As a bike commuter, I\’m certainly not going to pull up and in front of a car already at the intersection to get in my \’bike box\’. I can already hear and feel the frustration and cursing from the drivers.
I\’d much rather hang back to avoid the right hook or merge with traffic and get in line where I should. That\’s what we would do in Milwaukee and Chicago.
Rick that\’s not really how the bike boxes work.
You keep your line, as you were in the lane, and the car just has to hang back behind the box. Once the light turns green, you move forward and straight into your lane and the car either moves straight and passes you, or turns right behind you. You are never butting in front of them.
not true tonyt
jee-zus everybody. what a bunch of whiners.
if a cop wants to write a bunch of tickets to bikers to fill their quota or whatever, they\’re going to go to where it\’s a given that there will be some stop sign blowing, AKA the Ladd\’s circle. if you want them to stop enforcing there, then stop blowing the light. read the enforcement-related stories and corresponding comments. about half of Maus\’s readers blow red lights.
these bike boxes don\’t even exist yet, and there\’s already the now-tired rallying cries that they\’re completely ineffective, and Portland should be idaho.
you all should be happy that PDX gives an ounce of a shit about your lives.
what about the clinton bike box? you can\’t go straight in a car right? so as a bike, you get to jut up to the front and go straight while cars have to turn.
why is that flawed? sounds like a great deal to me.
Okay then BURR, care to enlighten? If I move in front of the car, and the light turns green, what do I have to do then? I have to move forward into the bike lane, moving out of the way of the car.
“The major benefit is that it puts bicyclists into a position where motorists can see them, in front of their vehicle.”
I\’ve also seem to have seen the same explanation when it was printed in The Oregonian. Bikes are allowed/encouraged to move out in front of the car. – animosity ensues.
Lately when I\’ve been bicycling on Broadway and I see a car signaling to turn right, I pull around the car on its left it is safe to do so and traffic permitting (and after signaling myself if its safe to do so). This way I avoid the right-hook scenario and simply sidestep the potential (and common reality) that drivers aren\’t continuously checking their six before finally engaging a turn. It seems to me that car operators usually check their shoulder before intending a turn but if pedestrians or something else causes the car to yield, then they fail to check their shoulder again once they perceive the way to be clear. This is dangerous for bicyclists who are placed to the right of them. Does any one else do this? When I\’m cruising down Broadway towards Hoyt and see numerous lights flashing their right turn signals, I do this and so far I\’ve felt much, much more comfortable and safe then if I had stayed in the \”protected\”, designated bicycle lane. This isn\’t a solution for all bicyclists, particularly those just starting, but for those who are confident it relieves a lot of anxiety on my part.
Tony T. – more fun with google:
What is a \”bike box\”
A \”bike box\” (or \”advanced stop line\”) works like this: there are actually two stop lines at a traffic light. The first stop line is for motor vehicles. The second stop line, closer to the intersection, is for bicyclists. When the traffic light is red, bicyclists can then overtake waiting motor vehicles and cut in front of them. The \”bike box\” serves as a storage area when there is heavy bicycle traffic, and a way to get to the center of the street to wait to make a left turn.
I can certainly see how a bicyclist would not HAVE to move in front of a car, but then we rely on paint to stop the car….
Oops.. that should read \”I pull around the car on its left if it is safe…\”
Oh and I like the bike box proposal for NW 16th and Everett. When I was doing deliveries in downtown, that route was terrific for returning to the downtown core from 23rd but incredibly dangerous at that intersection. I skidded to a stop so many times there..
I hope Option 2 for SE 7th and Hawthorne goes through. I\’ve been bicycling home that route for the past few weeks and its impossible to safely maneuver into a left turn there during rush hour.
The proposed bike box at Broadway and Williams will help but I still hate the situation that the engineers put bicyclists and car drivers into there. The bike box will help keep eager drivers from plowing over bikes when the light first turns green (this has happened to two friends of mine). But for when it\’s a continuous flow of traffic on a green I still feel merging with the traffic to the left of the bike lane is the most safe compromise open to bicyclists there.
In reply to tonyt…
As I understand bike boxes, bicyclists can fill up the entire box. This is useful as the more speedy bicyclists in the back of the line can more easily filter to the front of the line. Besides reducing right hooks, I thought this was another intention of bike boxes: It allows fast bicyclists a safe means for advancing to the front of the lane without having to compete with cars.
1. Interstate and Greely.
Although this design reinforces the potential presence of a bicylist, it does not address the primary issue of speed at this location. There should be a 4 way stop here to slow everybody down. I have to admit that checking my right mirror for a bike doing 25 + might not do the job.
2. Williams and Broadway.
Somebods else raised this so I\’ll reinforce it. There is a funky transision from Broadway to Williams here that should be accounted for.
3. This is a great short term effort requiring little in the way of capitor infrastructure. I would make sure that there are also long term corrective actions included in the plan to transition the areas to concrete (separation) and steel (guard rails) soluctions from paint. Do not allow the community to be appeased with paint.
4. Step up efforts to realize alternative routes such as the north portland green way to get people away from major streets
5. Once the new paint boxes are installed, ensure that there will be traffic division patrols issuing citation for vehicles violating the boxes and turning right on red.
Overall this is positive step forward.
Fair enough. Bikes do not HAVE to move directly in front of the cars.
Jeff, Re Bricker\’s quote, one can be in front of a car and off to the side.
I stand by my main point though which is that bikes are not enjoying the advantage of being able to butt in front of cars and then STAYING in front of cars, which is what I would imagine would bring about said animosity. As it stands, I think drivers would quickly learn what was going to happen once the light turned green and from then on not give a rats ***.
But all a moot point really seeing that despite any protestations the boxes will be coming to a street near you and cats and dogs will be living together. It\’ll be just like a coke commercial.
Here\’s an article from Copenhagen stating that installation of bike lanes, cycle tracks and the like make cyclists *feel* safer yet at the same time *increase* the crash rate.
Option two at Hawthorne and 7th, coupled with a box at Hawthorne and 11th, coupled with the oft ciriticized \”bad\” bikers and no right on reds is going to add up to increased car congestion on the evening commute and many pissed off car drivers.
On the other hand, I can\’t see any alternatives to a no right turn on red, as cars must have a consistent rule for staying out of the bike box.
It is my observation that there tends to be heavier traffic in that far right lane, but I could be wrong.
An unintended consequence of preventing right turn on red might be greater conflict with bikes riding up to the intersections at 7th and 11th on a green light encountering cars waiting for a safe chance for a right turn after being denied the opportunity on the red light.
The bike boxes and blue plastic lanes are great, but they need to go along with much driver and biker education.
I\’m from Indiana, not Alabama,
and there was tons of room with the turnips, so I don\’t think the truck was such a bad idea. And we don\’t have anyone smart enough to fly a plane anyways.
Whether bike boxes work or not may be controversial, but I\’m firmly of the camp that believes anything is better than nothing…
The main one of their proposals I\’m not happy about is the Broadway / Williams intersection. A large part of the problem there is that cars are accelerating early anticipating getting onto the freeway. That means you need a LOT of warning to make them more aware that there are bikes around, since they are moving that much faster. The blue paint needs to start at least a full block before the intersection; and not just a sign but a sign with a flashing light telling people to look out for bikes.
#13 – for what it\’s worth 4 years ago I was pulled over in my car for passing into the bike lane on 14th and Everett to make a right hand turn, $275.00. so they do enforce, we just don\’t hear about it or we\’re too busy being victims when we\’re on our bikes.
I took my drivers ed classes back in 1976 – bike lanes were not mentioned, my bike education training was by way of the rural fire dept where I lived in 69, bike lanes weren\’t mentioned in that class either.
I posted here on another thread earlier – we need education material, rules of the road and common sense guidelines that be given out with every bike/helmet/lock/messenger bag purchase. Something like what was being given out to the ridership here in SE Portland this last summer. That material needs be offered to a wider citizenship.
I\’m worried about the thermoplastic, the samples I\’ve interacted with is slick when it\’s wet. It\’s the same stuff they use for crosswalk markings, the ones it\’s not good to corner on in the rain. Maybe they can add some form of traction to this stuff, I don\’t know, but it would be something good to check up on.
The no right on red makes me happy. This mostly affects pedestrians, but regardless, it\’s about time.
I am all for giving bike boxes and no right on red a try.
Unfortunately, many cyclists who currently break various traffic laws with no regard for public relations will also be the ones turning right on red at these intersections where it is no longer allowed – for all vehicles, including bikes. What, you thought as a cyclist you were exempt???
The steaming cagers, newly regulated to wait behind the pretty bike boxes, will become even more pissed off, as they sit there and watch cyclists violate a law that has already sucked 20 seconds out of their day.
I\’m not saying don\’t change the law – I\’m just saying get ready for more bad PR and cager hate.
More is better. For now, this is good.
Baby steps….that and $5/gal gas will help soon.
The biggest concern I have about all the no rights on reds is, where is all that traffic going to go once that is implemented? Sure, 70 – 80% will keep on the same route and wait, but a significant percentage of drivers will go find another route that avoids that intersection. Will that just drive more traffic on to the quiet residential streets? I have enough trouble with yahoos driving 35 mph down my street without these kinds of changes making it worse.
i\’m glad to see that theres going to be a bike box at se 11th and hawthorne. i was hit there by a \”right hook\” on monday riding home from work.
oh and by the way it was by a portland police squad car….
PDOT proposal = head in azz cycling advocacy. they won\’t allow sharrows but think blue bike lanes are the shiznitz, WTF is up with that? Hello, Greg Raisman?
The next time you\’re out on the roads, take a look at how many vehicles stop past the stop lines or in the crosswalks. Bike boxes will accomplish nothing.
That being said, the blue will bring a delightful spash of color to downtown. More importlantly, it provides a spot for politicians and traffic gurus to say, \”look I did something.\”
Instead of these useless, dangerous bike boxes, let\’s just write \”A cyclist loves you\” on 20 dollar bills. However much cash is about to be pissed away on advisory commitees, bike boxes, and awards ceremonies will just be given away to motorists.
Cyclists in the streets handing out cash at rush hour. An absurd and wasteful idea that is certainly a better usage of cash than bike boxes. Though, so is simply burning it. I suppose at least we would be warm for a few minutes.
Yes, let\’s just burn it all instead.
Sorry if this comment has already been made, but increased enforcement of road users, including cyclists, turning on red where they aren\’t supposed to is key. I see cars pull across existing pedestrian walkways and illegally turn on red all the time. I also see drivers cross into and block bike lanes while waiting to exit parking lots all the time. While I support ODOTs efforts, I imagine that the same will happen with the bike boxes. Without a serious enforcement initiative, I find it hard to believe that drivers will stop where the new signs tell them to stop anyway.
But, I guess I don\’t have to tell you all how many lives were saved in that Ladd\’s Addition sting. We should count our lucky stars for PPB\’s diligence in addressing such a public menace.
I am not quite understanding bike boxes. In Tulsa, we simply split the lane, go to the front of the line, wait like everyone else at the red or roll the stop, like everyone else.
I\’d rather just roll through the intersection, outfitted with t-circle. Energy is wasted with every stop. No big deal in a car. But, on bike, it adds up, quick.
Good morning everyone. I was at the meeting last and feel it was both productive and informative. I still have an issue with the \”double jeopardy\” issue (issuing citations at the scene of an accident), but that aside it was a really good event. Being a former Portland native that now resides in Honolulu Hawaii; I can tell you that the Portland officials are really trying to make the city a better place for all cyclist and pedestrians. Cyclists in other cities only wish their representatives were as concerned about their welfare. I would also add that other bicycle advocacy groups look to Portland as the leader in both city planning and bicycle transportation issues. What happens with the bike boxes might set the tone elsewhere in our great nation.
Judging by the voice of concern on this site that meeting room should have been packed with folks, it certainly wasn’t standing room only. Get involved people and voice your concern at these events. The solution to this issue IMHO is for thoughtful planning and a dialog between city planers and the bicycle community, something that city officials are going above and beyond the call of duty to do right now. Kudos to Commissioner Sam and the rest of the panel at last night’s event.