First look at Portland’s inaugural cycle track

Portland’s new (and first-ever) cycle track has been installed on SW Broadway near Portland State University.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Making good on a promise to install a “high-profile” cycle track, Mayor Sam Adams will join Portland State University President Wim Wiewel, BTA executive director Scott Bricker and City of Portland staff to formally introduce a new kind of bikeway today.

The cycle track runs from SW Clay to SW Jackson and the project cost the City around $80,000. People riding bikes on that stretch will now be separated from moving motor vehicle traffic by parked cars and a 3-foot, striped “buffer-zone” will protect them from car doors.

From above.
The new lane is 7-feet wide.

PBOT was able to open up the 7-foot traffic lane specifically for bicycles on SW Broadway after an analysis of motor vehicle traffic volume showed three standard travel lanes were not needed.

PBOT traffic engineer Rob Burchfield
knows he’s got a lot riding on
this project.

This morning, City traffic engineer Rob Burchfield and engineer Scott Batson were on the street as crews put on finishing touches to the new pavement markings.

In addition to the cycle track markings, people on bikes will also notice a brand new marking — a special bike box installed to aid in what are known as “Copenhagen lefts”. The green boxes (similar to existing bike boxes) are to facilitate left turns out of the cycle track (see photo at right). Burchfield said these are the first boxes being used in this manner in North America.

One of the new bike boxes (installed
to facilitate left turns out of the
cycle track) as seen from above.

Burchfield said the new boxes are a big step for Portland, but added that he feels they will be helpful and safe. “People in the boxes will be shielded from motor vehicle traffic by the parked cars on each side.”

Unfortunately, even though the big opening ceremony takes place today at 2:00pm, the cycle track is still not completely ready for prime-time. A PSU construction project between SW Market and Mill is taking over the cycle track’s space and won’t be cleared out until the end of this week. Other bits and pieces of the new cycle track markings aren’t quite finished yet because of the I-405 re-paving project and other PSU construction.

But for several blocks, Portlanders will be able to try out a new type of bikeway. It will take some getting used to riding alongside the curb with parked cars to your left, but ultimately, PBOT is betting that the feeling is much more comfortable (and ultimately safe) for bike traffic. PBOT is doing this as a demonstration project with hopes of doing similar treatments to other streets.

PBOT has created a new brochure (similar to what they created for the bike box unveiling) to educate people about the cycle track. They’ll be handing them out at today’s event and to passersby along SW Broadway. Here are some scans from it:

Front cover of new, tri-fold brochure PBOT is passing out.

The brochure addresses several issues:

This morning, Burchfield seemed a bit nervous. “I am” he said when I pointed it out, “I was up at 3 AM, worried about the transitions and wanting to make sure no one parked incorrectly.”

— Learn more about this project on the City’s website. See more images in the photo gallery.

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