Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 13th, 2009 at 9:00 am
As part of our ongoing look at the City of Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan update process, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the new bicycle infrastructure ideas being considered for use in Portland.
The City has published a draft of their “Suggested/recommended Bikeway Facility Types”. Many of them won’t be news to most of you — stuff like bike boulevards, sharrows, and bike lanes are old hat. But what’s neat about the Bike Master Plan Update project is that it’s an opportunity to get some new types of facilities into the city’s toolbox.
You’ll notice that many of these ideas come from Europe. This reflects the major influence cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen have had (and will continue to have) on Portland’s bike network. Mayor (and Transportation Commissioner) Sam Adams, his chief of staff Tom Miller, City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield, Bike Coordinator Roger Geller, and PBOT traffic safety guru Greg Raisman are just a few of the many city staffers that have traveled abroad recently and brought back these ideas (Raisman, Adams, and Miller will travel to Brussels next month for the Velo-City Conference).
Below are a few recommended facility types that caught my eye (PBOT’s definition is in italics):
Car-free (Pedestrianized) Street
“Bicycle route through an area with restricted motor vehicles access”
To my knowledge there are none of these yet in existence in Portland. I assume the City would consider this type of facility in some parts of the Pearl District, once they make it into a “Bicycle District”. I could also see this happening near the South Park Blocks, which Commissioner Randy Leonard has said he could imagine eventually being car-free.
Advisory Bike Lane Without Centerline
“A dotted white line is used on a low-traffic roadway to indicate the space where bicycles have priority. This space may also be used by other vehicles when no bicycles are present.”
This is a very interesting concept that would require Portlanders to really learn to “share the road”. I have heard city staffers saying that a pilot treatment like this might be tried on small, residential streets in Outer East Portland.
Contraflow Bike Lane
“One way street with oncoming bike lane”
I think there’s one of these on a short, residential stretch of SE Clinton just east of 39th, but none that I’m aware of on a busy, one-way road downtown. Riding against oncoming traffic might sound a bit scary to some folks, but this type of treatment would only be used on narrow streets where motor vehicle speeds are kept to a minimum (or, at least that is my assumption).
It’s interesting to note that the three bikeway types above look to be very low cost. They simply require some paint and a bit of planning. That’s the exciting thing about making a city more bike-friendly, it doesn’t have to cost millions of dollars. But then of course, you can’t buy political will, which is often what this stuff comes down to.