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Police Bureau will give extra attention to cycle track

Posted by on September 2nd, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Cycletrack on SW Broadway-4

It might take some time, and
enforcement, before the lane is
this clear all the time.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Almost immediately after the thermoplastic cooled on the new cycle track on SW Broadway, reports came in that some folks were parking and driving their cars in the bike-only travel lane (one of them even ended up on the evening news).

Since the cycle track is new, this behavior is to be expected and there’s sure to be a learning curve for everyone. (Whether PBOT could have done more in terms of signage, markings, bollards, and so on, is a separate conversation.)

The situation reminded us of how the City rolled out their bike box campaign. When those were installed back in March of 2008, the City partnered up ahead of time with the Police Bureau’s Traffic Division for a strategic enforcement plan at each bike box location.

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The bike boxes were experimental as well, but we should remember that they came in response to two very high-profile fatal bike crashes, so it’s likely that the bureaucratic momentum/political support/public enthusiam index was quite different. Regardless, with all this in mind, we wondered if PBOT had similar enforcement plans for the cycle track.

Bike Box enforcement-3.jpg

The police played a large role
in the rollout of the bike boxes.

According to PBOT traffic safety specialist Greg Raisman, there is no such plan in place for the cycle track. He said the City’s parking enforcement crews have been monitoring the area. “They started yesterday by passing out information and giving warnings, but they will do regular parking enforcement immediately.”

As for the Police Bureau, Raisman said they too will focus first on education. Officers patrolling the area have been given stacks of PBOT’s new cycle track brochures. Raisman added that the Traffic Division is definitely aware of the project. “They will pay some extra attention to this area, especially early on when its in it’s still in the evaluation period, in order to make sure it works well.”

In general, PBOT sees the cycle track as more of a standard treatment than the bike boxes were. Raisman pointed out that all the traffic control elements associated with the cycle track — like no right turn on red and the buffer striping — are standard and people should “be used to using them”. The bike box, on the other hand, was totally new, not to mention they encouraged people on bikes to align themselves squarely in the roadway in front of motor vehicles.

I have yet to observe the cycle track at length, but according to sources at PBOT, things are going well and compliance with the new design is high. The true test — both of the cycle track itself and the compliance issues — will be when thousands of students and staff flock to Portland State at the end of this month to begin the fall term.

If you’ve ridden through or observed traffic on the new cycle track, we’d love to know what you’ve seen.

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41 Comments
  • Avatar
    Grimm September 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Im glad the city recognizes the issues with putting in something drivers are not used and could make hazards for bikes. Now if only they would realize how little of a hazard Ladd’s circle is…

    And out of curiosity, if you observe a vehicle in the bike lane, is there anything you can do? Besides attempt to talk to the driver assuming they have not walked off. Say… take a photo of it and submit it electronically somewhere? Just an idea. I dont even want to get them a ticket, just a nicely worded official letter saying ‘please don’t do this again’.

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    Dave September 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Considering that I still see people driving in the Bus Only lanes in the mall at least once a day. I’d say it will take a while before people figure this out. I haven’t taken a look at the signage yet but I’ll be interested to see how clearly it’s marked that the new lane is bike only.

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    T.Schwartz September 2, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I have yet to ride the cycle track, but I do live right by the new, extra wide Holgate bike lane. If the signage for the cycle track is as non-existent as Holgate’s then I’m not surprised that people don’t get it. All they need are more of the painted on bikes in the lanes.

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    Q`ztal September 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    What’s the reason the city doesn’t just put in ONE steel bollard in the middle of the cycle track at the beginning and end of every block?
    It’ll stop UPS & FedEx from entering to use it as a loading zone, as so often happens in NYC, and anyone foolish enough to enter through an open parking slot will soon find themselves trapped as they can’t exit at the end of the block.

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    gregg woodlawn September 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I rode the cycle track yesterday. It is a nice start. It is smart to place this at PSU.
    It would have been nice to get the cycle track all of the way from the broadway bridge to PSU (especially through the hotel district where I hate having to deal with all of the parked cars in the bike lane.)
    I know that this is experimental and that PBOT loves taking its time to be REALLY careful with changes. The cycle track is going to be a hit (Like bike boxes.) I’m sure we’ll see more cycle tracks really soon.

    I was hoping that when Sam got into office, we would see big changes overnight (like in Curitiba, Brazil.) http://www.sustainablecitiesnet.com/models/sustainable-city-curitiba-brazil/
    I know that this is just another step, along with the new Bicycle Boulevards, and the Foster bicycle separation. I’m looking forward to more improvements to come.

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    LoneHeckler September 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    There was a huge concrete truck blocking the bike lane this morning, jutting so far out that to go around meant entering back into the auto traffic lane — poking out from behind the parked cars to do so. It was a little hairy, but a driver let me in front of her.

    Actually, the first portion of the cycle track seems to be blocked off due to construction on the PSU sidewalk. It’s a bit confusing: you enter the cycle track, then are shuttled back out to the left in a temporary “bike lane” for a block or so; then back to the cycle track.

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    Mick September 2, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Parking in a bike lane is already illegal and people should be ticketed for it, not warned.

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    Q`ztal September 2, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Mick #7
    Exactly right.
    Also, if a driver gets a warning from a cop that behavior “X” is illegal then the next time they do this they cop needs to be required to give a ticket instead of a warning.
    3rd time: license gets suspended until the driver successfully completes state administered drivers ed.
    4th time: driver has displayed inability or outright unwillingness to learn or change. Permanently revoke drivers license and give the driver, now a pedestrian, a free lifetime transit pass.

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    BURR September 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    There was a Motorcycle cop working the NE Flint and Broadway intersection when I went by at 11 AM today.

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    Andrew Holtz September 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    When I rode the cycle track Tuesday, there was one van in the cycle lane picking up a passenger and a few cars that weren’t quite in their spaces. I think it probably is a bit strange to try to park in a space distant from the curb.

    As for extending the track further north, it’d be nice… but downtown Broadway is often clogged with cars, so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a lane to be transferred to cyclists. Removing a parking lane or trimming the sidewalk to make room for bikes also wouldn’t be easy because of the high demand.

    Has anyone considered putting traffic lights on SW 9th and SW Park… and turning those streets into bike boulevards? As with SE Lincoln, cars could be allowed access for a block or two before they’d have to turn, while cyclists would be able to continue straight. These streets have low vehicle use as is and a nice view of the park blocks. The only thing that discourages cyclists now is that you have a stop sign at every cross street.

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    Phoenix September 2, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Q`ztak #8
    Agree w/ each point ‘cept the free transit pass… Screw ’em. Make ’em pay just like everybody else…

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    Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Q’ztal,

    Would these rules apply to cycling scoff laws?

    Run a stop sign a warning.

    Second instance get a ticket.

    Third instance suspended library card?

    Fourth instance cyclist has displayed inability or outright unwillingness to learn or change. Bicycle permanently impounded and give the cyclist, now a pedestrian, a free lifetime transit pass.

    Of course this isn’t about being fair it’s about punishing drivers and giving cyclists a free pass.

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    Juia September 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    What “bus only lanes?” I drive along the MAX tracks everyday. I find this comment more than a tad offensive…

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    gregg woodlawn September 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Q’ztak #8: I agree with the free transit pass for all. Drivers license fees should be increased by an extra 100 bucks to pay for free public transit.
    Fewer restrictions on using public transit (including having to pay to use) makes sense. More people out of cars and walking/ using transit makes for a healthier community.

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    Dan September 2, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    @Anonymous, #12.

    You probably didn’t know this, but actually there’s no warning for running a stop sign/stoplight on a bike (or at least, it’s not SOP). If the cop is not in a good mood that day, the first offence is a “failure to obey traffic control device” ticket, which runs close to $300.

    In other words, Q’ztal suggesting that cars in the cycle track receive a warning rather than a ticket on their first offense is actually more lenient treatment than cyclists get.

    Finally, I might point out that it’s actually in our national interest to “punish” drivers. Less driving means fewer American dollars going into the pockets of the various oil-rich but anti-US regimes around the world. Anyone who supports driving over biking is supporting terrorism.

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    BURR September 2, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    the 40,000 American citizens killed each year by motorists, and the countless additional Americans injured in motor vehicle accidents would seem to indicate that, at the least, American motorists need some more training, and that significant additional enforcement against motorists might actually do some good as far as safety for all road users is concerned.

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    Marie September 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Juia #13:

    I’m curious why you find “Bus Only Lanes” offensive?

    In Downtown, along 5th & 6th avenues where the new Max line went in(also known as the Transit Mall) there are 2 traffic lanes. One for cars and one for buses/Max. The lane for buses/Max are clearly marked “Bus Lane Only”

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    Driver September 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I know it sounds great to punish drivers and force all to ride bikes to save the world. But the reality is, its not going to happen. Personally, Im not going to ride a bike downtown, in a suit, in the rain.

    The self righteousness and sense of entitlement that riders display is getting very old.

    Im all for people riding bikes for whatever reason, but, this is America, we cant force others to believe the same thing you do.

    Just because your saving the world, doesnt give you the right to break traffic laws.

    Sure driving kills, so does flying, or bike riding, or mountain climbing, etc… We could save many lives if everyone stayed home all day. But thats not a reality. Life is dangerous.

    My advise to bikers would be, when you ride, if you commit blatant illegalities, you forfeit the right to complain about people being upset with your behavior.

    be safe

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    BURR September 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    @ driver #18 – cyclists may be self righteous, but entitlement belongs almost entirely to the motorists, lock, stock and barrel.

    My advice to motorists would be, when you drive, if you commit blatant illegalities, you forfeit the right to complain about people being upset by your behaviour.

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    old&slow September 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I rode this again today and I have to say, it is the worst example of spending for no reason I have ever seen in this city. 1 block out of the 3 or 4 was closed. There were construction guys standing and having a chat on another block, 2 or 3 car doors open in the lane. This whole project which is just a white line cost $88,000 dollars! What a waste of money! What is wrong with the bike community here you would think this is a good use of resources?

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    f5 September 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Good lord. Are all the naysayers listening to yourselves? The amount of venom and vitriol being spewed about four blocks of bicycle and traffic lane adjustments is pathetic. I can’t believe how many rants there are here on both sides of the parking strip that have little to nothing to do with this actual specifics of article. But I guess it wouldn’t be an internet forum if there weren’t downward spiraling tangents, insults, misinformation, and pointless bickering.

    Portland has a huge cycling populace, industry, and economy. That, in and of itself, shouldn’t offend anyone. It’s a bike friendly city. Portland transportation is at (or near) the forefront of cycling infrastructure in the US, and like it or not that is a good thing. You should try dealing with it, because currently it’s one of the few GROWING million-dollar industries in town, and that benefits everyone.

    The US by and large has absurdly conservative traffic designs (roundabouts, anyone?) and drafting off of other cities and countries proven methods is a perfectly reasonable approach, which is exactly what is happening with the cycle track. This site covered some of the transportation planners trips abroad to for these studies well over a year ago.

    No one gets to line-item veto what their taxes to to, so let’s all stop focusing on the nebulous ’88k’ figure and move on. This is a pilot plan that will affect in one way or another, what the transportation does across the city from here on out. It’s not just 88k to repaint a street.

    A balanced perspective is your friend.

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    f5 September 2, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    old and slow:

    It’s already been widely reported that the first block of the track is still closed while PSU finishes that construction project.

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    old&slow September 2, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    f5, So $88,000 dollars is fine with you for painting a white stripe for 4 blocks? Are you and the rest of the bike crowd here nuts? I ride 5000 miles a year in this city, appreciate some of the bike lanes and bike paths, am totally supportive of making this a bike friendly city, but this project is so insanely expensive for what it accomplishes, is already the target of the anti-bike crowd, and does nothing to help cycling on this stretch of road. How does the koolaid taste?

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    f5 September 2, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Traffic studies, research, marketing materials, salaried time for city employees involved in the project, etc. etc. You think they’re going to design and print pamphlets each time they revamp 4-block sections of bike/auto traffic? please.

    I don’t claim to know what municipalities should or should not reasonably spend on (fill in the blank), but I do know that complaining AS IF it cost 88k for a few shlubs to simply repaint a street for a half day is in no way indicative of what’s going on. Research, design, and testing cost money, no matter the type of project or arena . let’s not go out of our way to skew facts and assume 88k is just a golden toilet plunger. You could most likely look at any city/transportation project ever undertaken and factor the costs involved and cry tax-money hemorraging quite easily. That doesn’t mean it is so.

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    old&slow September 2, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    f5, You still don’t address my complaint. The money is one thing and you can’t really defend that. I ride broadway almost every day and have done so for years. This does nothing! It makes is no safer, easier, nothing! It is the least difficult part of bike riding in town, doesn’t have that much traffic and has hardly any through streets because of the campus. Just a ridiculous project for no real improvement. If you want to defend this amount of money for no improvement, go ahead, but the cycling community is just going to have a harder time getting money for other projects that need it because of the backlash that is going to happen over this. Hope you enjoy this 4 blocks!

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    Q`ztal September 2, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Phoenix #11, while I agree with the whole “Screw em” mantra I see a larger picture where these people aren’t just angry but are now desperate in that they can no longer get to their job. These people might just be too poor to afford a bus pass; I have this unfounded idea that the act of removing this dangerous demographic of drivers from the road would could be funded by the reduction in health care expenditures. The reduction in hospital E-room costs could fund it directly instead of charging $10 for a Tylenol. Unfortunately equal and opposite reaction turns in to equal and absurd over over-reaction when dealing with politics.

    Anon #12, my use of the word “drivers” does imply only automobile operators but I do think the only way cyclists will get respect is with equity in enforcement and punishment. The most “common sense” way to do this is by licensing cyclists. I have no philosophical problem with licensing cyclists, just with wasting taxpayer’s money. A program of licensing cyclists is costly to administer and discriminatory towards the poor and homeless. The “down trodden” auto driver won’t see any benefit; police already have the right to ticket cyclists.
    As for the “suspended library card” crack: America woefully under prepares it’s children for driving automobiles and riding bicycles in traffic. Our auto related death rate bear this out. Some people might be able to learn on their own to behave responsibly in traffic. If a valid road user (just a bit more cumbersome to use in conversation) can’t figure it out on their own, for the sake of public safety, they need more thorough training. For the sake of public safety drivers of tractor-trailers require more training and pay more for licensing because their failure presents a greater risk to the public. This is also why civilized nations license auto drivers. Unless a cyclist hits a pedestrian the only person that gets injured in any way a bicycle crash is the cyclist. Cyclist, driver and pedestrian training can exist quite well without the extra bureaucracy of licensing. All road users need training: it’s a public space and everyone’s actions therein affect
    everyone else’s right to use the road without fear of harm.

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    Ishkabibble September 3, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Could you please stop quoting Greg Raisman for a while? He’s overbearing and full of himself and is not actually an engineer. There are actual engineers (who have degrees in engineering, and stuff) who work for PDOT presumably. Why not hear from them?

    The last time I talked to Greg he told me traffic engineers didn’t know what they were talking about. This is the same kind of attitude that leads to “bike wars” stories and really has no place here.

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    Stig September 3, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Yes, it’s only 4 blocks, but it could be the first of many if it works. It’s experimental.

    Yes, if you’re an experienced cyclist who zooms along at 25mph with or without bike lanes, you might think that $88k is a waste of money ‘just some paint’. However, there are actually some cyclists that don’t feel all that comfortable riding in a regular bike lane and putting complete trust in motorists not to him them from behind.

    The more safe it looks, feels and actually is, the faster cycling will grow.

    Maybe in a few years we’ll see cycle tracks that span several miles. It starts here with this pilot project if it’s successful so consider supporting the city.

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    k. September 3, 2009 at 9:01 am

    I think a lot of you are having a hard time putting this into perspective. The City is trying to be fairly progressive with bike facilities and as such they are willing to try a lot of different things out. They fully realize that not everything they try is going to be a home run but they are willing to experiment a bit and I think they should be lauded for doing so.

    Many of these projects like the cycle track, are being done on a limited scale so that their functionality can be assessed. If stuff works.. you can probably expect to see more of it, if not..those things will be abandoned or modified.

    Few things are perfect. At least we live in a City that’s willing to accommodate cyclists. And many of you just bitch about it. Get real.

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    jen September 3, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I ride this way every morning to get up to OHSU. The first day, with no signs I ended up riding in the car lane trying to figure out where my bike lane had gone. Then I found the bike lane…. but unfortunately a news crew was parked there.

    the next day it was being used a nice wide unloading zone for some trucks. And then the construction had me back in the car lane.

    Playing leapfrog with the bus on this new cycle track is also now a little more difficult since instead of being able to just swing around the bus when it pulls in and parks in my lane of travel, I now have to wait until I am fairly close because of the parked cars. Most of the drivers are pretty nice about not pulling in right in front of me…. but a few seem to take malicious glee at cutting me off as close as possible.

    I love the idea, but am not impressed right now with how it has been rolled out. Right now it has only served to make my commute MORE dangerous and difficult. I have hope that it will get better as the construction ends and there is more enforcement of proper usage, but I can understand the anger and frustration I see in so many posts here.

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    f5 September 3, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Old and Slow-

    I ride Broadway almost every day also. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been walked into by parked car drivers and by student who couldn’t see my lane through the parking lane. I’ve almost been doored 11 times (I’ve counted), and almost been ‘pulled into/out to’ by cars entering and leaving the old parking strip countless times.

    I think it’s an upgrade, and I welcome it. I also welcome the pilot project as a whole and the resources the city is putting towards it, so I’m not inclined to look at arbitrary numbers out of context and pass judgement.

    I have no idea what the cities associated costs of re-designing traffic patterns is or should be, and you’ve done nothing factual or statistical to provide a basis for your judgement.

    But I can tell you love your ‘koolaide’.

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    feralcow September 3, 2009 at 10:08 am

    maybe they can also enforce cars blocking the crosswalk on the onramp from Naito going east on the Hawthorne bridge where the dude in the rabbit ears always sits. Cars tend to stay behind the stop sign, but the crosswalk seems to always get blocked by the second car in line.

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    Matt Picio September 3, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Ishkabibble (#27) – it’s easy to bash a city employee from behind an alias – care to share your real name?

    Greg Raisman is a competent and conscientious city employee. As for being an engineer – what’s his title? There are plenty of “actual” engineers who don’t have a degree in engineering, so that argument is not relevant in the context you’re using it in.

    Let’s tackle the issues rather than the personalities. What exactly do you disagree with, other than the fact that it was voiced by Greg Raisman?

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    Todd Boulanger September 3, 2009 at 10:35 am

    For this demo period…and perhaps as a way to ease parkers initial concerns arising out of change…has there been any consideration of adding supplementary striping (6″ striped box vs. parking tees to outline the parking space) or stenciling (added a big “P” for parking in the middle of each space? – perhaps in chalk paint so as to vanish in the fall?)

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    John Beaston September 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Yesterday I rode Broadway from the bridge to past 405. I found the difference in the ease of biking between the regular bike lane and the cycle track stunning. Regular bike lane = tense and constantly on the alert for a potential doorer. Cycle track = enjoying the ride. I’m sold. I want more.

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    Paul Tay September 3, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    How would cyclists make left turns from the track?

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    Alec September 3, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    It may be a demonstration project, but since the new track is only .3 miles, it seems that painting the curb beside the Bike Track red (if this isn’t already slated to happen) would go a long way toward keeping people from parking there.

    As for the bike track itself (since it is shared by buses only), painting something on the track like “NO STOPPING” or “BIKES BUSES ONLY” would be huge. An alternative is that since parking regulation signs and signposts already exist on the curb, the city place “No stopping or standing” signs on the posts whether in place of or in addition to the current signage.

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    Jeff P September 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Paul – cyclists must pass through the intersection to the ar siode; reorient their bike to the direction of the cross street; wait for the light to change; and proceed.

    Alternatively – leave the cycle track one block PRIOR to where you wish to turn left – negotiate across the lanes and execute a normal left turn.

    I’ve ridden it several days in a row and my perception is not anything like John B/#35:

    I have found more peds milling about in the cycle track;
    just as many dorrs thrown open – only from the passenger side who are not programmed to look for bicycles;
    cars missing the parking spot since they have no curb to ‘feel for’ and certainly have no idea how big their car is and where it actually ends.
    just as many right hooks from people trying to turn into PSU parking but now cannot see a bicycle because of the parked cars…

    Sorry – but I’m leaning to the old&slow end of things on this one…still trying it out though.

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    jon September 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    get city repair project to paint the whole lane green, that would make it clearer to bikes, peds, cars. put in a temporary curb of railroad ties (driven into the pavement). this would keep the cars out of the lane and give cars a curb to park against. having a curb would make it feel less like one is parking in the middle of the road.

    why not also make the cycle track two way since theres not really anything in the other direction with broadway being one way and 5th & 6th being transit mall. it would be great to extend the cycle track to main and madison for psu traffic coming from SE portland via the hawthorne bridge (plus theres no hotel drop offs in this clay-main extension whereas there are drop offs in the blocks north of that).

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    mateo September 4, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I have several theories on why cycle-tracks should be on the left side of most one-way streets rather than the right:
    1) Drivers are less likely to left-hook a cyclist than to right-hook because there is usually better rear-view mirror coverage on the left side and it is easier for drivers to turn their heads and see left than to see well across the inside of their car.
    2) The left is also the side where drivers are accustomed to being overtaken by another vehicle and therefore are not as likely to make a turn without checking.
    3) A left-side track would be out of the way of buses making stops.
    4) A driver, having just parked in the buffer, is less likely to hop out and into the path of a bike than a passenger would because the driver has had to be aware of what’s going on around in him in order to park the car.
    5) In heavy traffic where a cyclist might need to stop at a cross street in order to make a right turn from the left-side cycle track, it would be natural just to use the near side crosswalk as a bike box (near the curb out of the way of other bikers riding through).

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    tom September 7, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I rode the cycle track on Sept. 2, and while it’s a neat concept, I don’t think PSU is the best place to demonstrate it. Here’s why (based on my ride that day): at one corner, a pack of pedestrians was using the cycle track as their waiting area to cross Broadway, effectively blocking the cycle track. As anyone who’s spent time around PSU knows, pedestrians there don’t like to wait on the sidewalk to cross the street (if they wait for a red light at all!). People standing in the road will be a consistently bigger problem than vehicles misusing the lane.

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