Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bike box billboards, bus ads debut

Posted by on March 10th, 2008 at 8:59 am

PDOT says installation of “Portland’s new green space” could start as early as this Thursday.

bike box billboards-1.jpg

New bike box billboard on N. Interstate
Ave., just south of Greeley.

The Portland Office of Transportation’s bike box education campaign is in full swing. Their “Get Behind It” slogan can be seen on 14 billboards throughout the central city and on the tail and sides of 40 buses.

According to PDOT’s bike box project manager Rich Newlands, the first 14 billboards are all in very close proximity to intersections that will be receiving the new bike box and colored lane treatments. Yesterday, while riding around downtown, I noticed billboards on W Burnside near Stark Street, on NW Glisan near Broadway, and two billboards on N. Interstate near N. Greeley.

The billboards will run for one month and were reportedly purchased from Clear Channel for $1,000 a piece.

Newlands says a series of ten additional billboards — at what he calls “bonus locations” — will go up next week. Those locations will be a bit further out from the central city and were thrown in at no cost to the city as part of the purchase agreement with Clear Channel.

As for installation of the bike boxes, Newlands says if the weather cooperates they’ll start this Thursday (3/13) — “If weather holds out for us, we’ll get started on our first priority locations, which will be on SE Hawthorne at 7th and 11th streets.”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Richard S March 10, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I saw one of the ads on a bus late last week.

    Relooking at the planned intersections, it looks like I will get three or four bike boxes on my commute home. I look forward to seeing how well these work.

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  • Bryan Dorr March 10, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I saw that same billboard in your photo yesterday during my 50-mile ride.

    The question is, how many people are going to grasp the idea, or even put their cars in the box? There are still some ridiculously oblivious motorists out there.

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  • Tbird March 10, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Portland rocks!

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  • james March 10, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Jonathan, I was crusing down the hill as you were snapping this photo! Should have stopped to introduce myself/say hi.

    At any rate, It\’s really nice to see that in addition to building them, the city is doing something to demistify the bike box for the common motorist.

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  • Alison March 10, 2008 at 10:51 am

    I see a lot of posts about how things work better in Europe when it comes to bikes.

    But I haven\’t been able to find anything about \”bike boxes\” used in Europe to make cycling safer.

    Are these an American thing only?

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  • Scott Mizée March 10, 2008 at 10:53 am

    @ Bryan Dorr:

    Yes, that is where the education comes in. I\’m hopeful that this effort will facilitate a quick learning curve for our motorists and it will be obvious to them that their car does not belong in the bike box, but bikes do…. 🙂

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  • Grimm March 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

    First off, this is great and very needed.

    This weekend I saw pamphlets at River City with bike box info and thought \’this is great, but hopefully most bikers know how to use these things, kind of preaching to the choir so to speak\’. Then I saw one roll by on a bus later that day and was happy the message is getting put out there more than to just us bikers.

    One more step in the right direction.

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  • Spencer March 10, 2008 at 11:31 am

    As bikers using the boxes, lets think of ourselves as ambassadors as we gently explain the concept of the boxes to those motorists who stray over the line. These meeting that are sure to come are going to be very important. You only have one chance to make a first impression.


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  • Todd Boulanger March 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

    They seemed to be everywhere this weekend along all the bike corridors i rode along.

    It was a delight…like finding easter eggs along a trail or a silver doller on the sidewalk. Thank you Sam and PDoT!

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  • Elliot March 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I saw a couple of these on the sides of TriMet buses this weekend. Very exciting!

    This outreach is absolutely essential to making bike boxes work well. However, I think it would be interesting to see the advertising budget and the budget for the actual bike box installation and materials side by side, just to put the cost of bike boxes into perspective. That is to say, they\’re cheap, a very efficient investment!

    I think I recall hearing that the improvements for all 14 intersections were only going to cost $64,000. How much does a place-specific billboard cost to rent?

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  • Confused March 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    So, we all know that motorists are not supposed to pull into the bike box, but still no one has answered my questions:

    Under what circumstances is a bicyclist 1)expected to 2) required to or 3) allowed to move into the section of the bike box immediately in front of the motorist? Does it make a difference if I\’m making a left turn or going straight ahead?

    Does the presence of a bike box prohibit me from moving to the left, such as eastbound on Hawthorne at 7th?

    If I\’m the first bike in a string of bikes coming to an intersection with bike box, should I move to the left side of the box, allowing the bicyclists behind me to pull up on my right? Or, should I stay to the right, allowing others to come up on my left?

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  • dsaxena March 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I\’m looking forward to the bike boxes but I hope that the police cracks down massively on both drivers that do not stop before the box and on cyclists that run red lights at these intersections. If cars have to legally stop and wait for bikes and we as cyclists do not do our job to obey the same laws, I think we\’re going to end up with a huge PR mess on our hands.

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  • Andy B from Jersey March 10, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I have an answer for Alyson (#5),

    The bike boxes used in Europe are almost always used with a \”Bicycle Advance Signal\” that allows bicycles to start moving before the cars are allowed. Many people in the bicycle planning field are concerned about the use of bike boxes without the use of the Bicycle Advance Signal particularly since this type of bike-lane design still leaves cyclists vulnerable to the \”right-hook\” which has killed a number of Portland cyclists recently. California prohibits this design for this reason and merges the bike lane to the left of the right-turn lane in advance of the intersection to avoid the right-hook problem.

    Bike boxes are intended to allow cyclists to get in front of traffic and position themselves in a better position to make left turns. But without the Bicycle Advance Signal the usefulness and safety of this design is often called into question.

    I am very curious to see what one of the local Portland bike planners would have to say about my (and other\’s) concerns about this design. I would really like them to see them work but I do have my reservations particularly without the use of the special signal timing.

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  • Options Guy March 10, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Bike Box questions? Come to this month\’s Bicycle Brown Bag – noon to one, Thursday March 20th, at the Portland Building. We\’ll have a presentation from Roger Geller, City of Portland Bicycle Coordinator, on bike boxes.
    We\’ll also have a veteran Bureau of Maintenance truck driver offering his perspective on how to increase safety.
    More details here:

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  • BURR March 10, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    personally I don\’t think they are going to work at all. I mean what\’s the point if you don\’t get an advance signal and you\’re immediately supposed to return to the far right bike lane position. On top of that there is no protection for cyclists coming up to the light once it\’s turned green and all those \’No Right Turn on Red\’ motorists are itching to go? My prediction is that they will just cause a big clusterf*ck at the intersection and cyclists will continue to get right hooked, primarily because of the lack of destination positioning of the bike lane to the left of a right turn only lane.

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  • Paul Adasiak March 10, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I realize that this is BikePortland and not BikeFairbanks or BikeOslo, but…

    Does anybody know how well these bike boxes work in places that are covered in snow a significant part of the year? I ask because a Portland-based city planning firm is proposing these as part of my hometown\’s downtown revitalization plan in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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  • Stripes March 10, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I like them a lot! The advertisements are easy to understand – short & sweet. I\’ve seen a couple on the sides of buses – very cool & eyecatching!

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  • zilfondel March 10, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    I thought billboards were illegal?

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  • Spanky March 11, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Glad to see the ads so motorists will understand. Hope they continue. But I do think right hooks will continue as a result of bicyclist and car interaction upon arriving at the intersection on a green, at the same time.

    I also think there will be \”interesting\” interactions at the boxes between bikes and cars. Are drivers required to, at all times, stop behind the boxes even if there are no bikes in the box upon the car arriving at the intersection? I know the answer is yes, but will all drivers get this message?

    And if there are a lot of bikes int eh box, what is going to happen with traffic behind the box as the bikes make their way forward and try to reassume a file to the right and back into the bike lane (Hawthorne)?

    I think the boxes are a good step, but they bring issues along with them, like anything else involving roadway layout.

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  • BURR March 11, 2008 at 7:27 am

    there should be sharrows in the middle of the lane downstream from the boxes, not bike lanes off to the far right.

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  • alison March 11, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Here\’s another question.

    How do the bike boxes work when cars are allowed to turn right on a red light after stopping?

    The bike box puts the car so far back they can\’t make a safe turn without moving into the bike box and stopping again to see if it is clear to make the would be needed tturn.

    Are right on red turns going to be restricted at intersections with bike boxes? If they are how does this impact traffic flow by making all the cars wait to turn right? Is a right on red used in Europe?

    I\’m trying to understand the way these are supposed to work here. Andy\’s description of how they are used overseas was very informative. It seems that the implementation here is only half of what is done overseas.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 11, 2008 at 8:27 am

    \”How do the bike boxes work when cars are allowed to turn right on a red light after stopping?\”

    Right on red will be illegal at all intersections where a bike box has been installed… traffic flow be damned, this is about saving lives and encouraging a more sensible transportation choice.

    from what I remember, this is also the case in Europe…

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  • Options Guy March 11, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Traffic flow be dammed?
    Actually most, if not all, of the bike boxes are being installed at intersections where there is significant pedestrian activity. Right-on-red at these intersections is already marginally useful since folks crossing the street need that crosswalk for their (coincidentally) traffic-slowing purposes.

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  • alison March 11, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Sorry for asking the question. I was generally curious about the impact of the bike boxes on everyone.

    I thought that a well planned transportations system takes into account things like traffic flow, which impacts everyone using the streets; Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

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  • Victoria Taft 5-8pm KPAM 860 March 11, 2008 at 10:27 am

    How much are each of those billboards costing taxpayers? Anybody know?
    I know the gridlock inducing bike boxes are $4K each, but what about the 14 plus billboards that go along with them? Clear Channel billboards aren\’t cheap.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 11, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I said: \” traffic flow be damned, this is about saving lives and encouraging a more sensible transportation choice.\”

    Hi Alison,

    I apologize for being a bit rough with that comment. I probably shouldn\’t have written it like that.

    You\’re right, traffic flow is important, but I am a tired of \”traffic flow\” decisions being made in favor of moving cars, instead of people.

    If bike boxes improve safety for people on bikes and on foot, I hope no one in a car has a problem with waiting a few more seconds at a light.

    I think eventually we should couple the bike boxes with advance green signals for bikes.

    At any rate, thanks for asking the question and sorry if my response was a bit harsh…it wasn\’t intended to be.


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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 11, 2008 at 10:41 am

    \”How much are each of those billboards costing taxpayers? Anybody know?\”

    Each of the 14 billboards was purchased for $1,000 a piece and will run for one month. Clear Channel threw in the additional \”bonus location\” billboards for free.

    Another important question is – what is the cost of fatal and serious injury traffic crashes to our community?

    And as for \”gridlock inducing\”… If the bike boxes succeed in encouraging more bike traffic (which I think they will), the roads will be much less clogged with cars. Motor vehicle drivers should be supportive of bike boxes!

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  • Victoria Taft, 5-8pm KPAM 860 March 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    The City got a sweetheart deal from Clear Channel, then.

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  • BURR March 11, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    and a big kiss for you too Victoria, from everyone at BikePortland


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  • Duncan March 11, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Dont be afraid to ask questions- Its the only way to get answers!

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  • heather andrews March 11, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    I know it\’s not part of this project, but I\’d like to see the \”experimental\” bike box intersection at SE 39th and Clinton be given the green paint treatment. About 50% or more of the time I\’m traveling eastbound through this intersection, some car is in the bike box, and often they are making a turn against the \”NO TURN ON RED\” signs. Jeesh.

    Strangely enough, I almost never have any problems going westbound through the same intersection.

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  • Racer X March 11, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    How about siting the \’bonus\’ billboards in the ex-burbs…so that the super commuter drivers may see it before they get surprised in the Portland City Center.

    This would also create a little buzz in the outer newspaper markets…perhaps leading to an article and then a conversation over coffee…like \’Ethel did you see that billboard over Char Boy…Portland is putting astroturf in their intersections to be more environmentally bike friendly…go figger\’.

    There is a prime low rent Clear Channel billboard in Vancouver on Washington Street (at 12th) on the way to the Interstate Bridge bike path … in additional to the I-5 Hayden island bill boards.

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  • Racer X March 11, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Hey Victoria…how about donning a helmet and a remote mic and come out and play (ride) in the bike boxes once they are up? I dare you. 😉

    And I would add – also walk across the crosswalks during your field test…local pedestrians will love not having hot cars crowd the crosswalks…not that they will be 12 feet or more back.

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  • Alpha March 11, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Just a funny thought… but with a couple buckets of paint, some card board boxes, and a roll of duct tape I imagine a creative mind could create a bike box of their own, where ever they pleased.

    Talk of European right-turning on red lights made me laugh as it reminded me of something Woody Allen has mentioned and Jeremy Clarkson recently observed:

    \”See this here. He\’s turning right (on a red)… That is America\’s only contribution to western civilization.\”

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  • Carl March 11, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Squeaky wheel, here…
    It\’s my understanding, having spoken with Greg Raisman at PDOT, that bicyclists can go right on red at these intersections and that there will be signage to that effect. I sure hope that\’s true. Otherwise these things\’ll be Barnum and Balzers new best friends.

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  • Duncan March 11, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    just got back from Victoria\’s website…

    wow she is nuts. She should move to Dallas or something where she would feel right at home.

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  • Ena March 12, 2008 at 10:12 am


    I thought I would take the time to tell you that we LOVE riding our bikes and will never stop. We know that our pastime is a dangerous one, but we get some much joy from tackling those climbs and feeling the wind in our faces. Being on a bike feels like nothing else, plus we saved a few dollars at the pump that we can use to feed our families.

    I drive when I have to, but much rather spin those pedals. I work very hard to be the most patient motorist and cyclist I can. All we want is safety and for someone to respect our lives enough to slow down. We do NO damage to the roads and we are not asking for much….1 – 2% of city funds.

    Having bikes on the roads means that you will have less congestion and less time to wait when you drive.

    I\’m sorry for the bicyclists who blaze through the lights. There are bound to be jerks on bikes and in cars. But, please remember when you are in a hurry and don\’t want to wait that we bicyclists are very vulnerable and our families don\’t want to lose us.


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  • Aaron Brown March 12, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    To Paul (#16)

    In trying to bring Portlands bike fervor to Minneapolis, we still don\’t have any bike boxes, but I can tell you that as the snow is just finally starting to melt around these parts, bike lanes remain the last part of the road to get plowed, more or less rendering them ineffective. I\’ve often seen bike lanes be the recipient of the last night\’s snow, building a gigantic snow bank where I\’m trying to line up my tires.

    Way to Go portland with the bike boxes! the green paint, i think, will make these even more visible and add to the envi chic press/attention we\’ve been getting.

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