[With the release of the public comment draft of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, it’s time to get wonky and learn more about what Portland’s brightest bike thinkers are dreaming up for the future. The story below is the latest in our ongoing coverage of the new plan.]
Not ones to rest on their heels after installing buffered bike lanes on Stark and Oak and a cycle track on Broadway, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is looking to test another innovative (in America) bikeway treatment.
Known as an advisory bike lane, the treatment is common in cities throughout Europe, and PBOT thinks it could be useful in several parts of Portland. The idea has gained the most traction for use on SW Capitol Hill Blvd as part of a neighborhood traffic calming project. PBOT is also looking at the residential streets in East Portland as possible candidates.
Advisory bike lanes are mentioned several times in the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 as high-priority or “Tier One” investments.
According to PBOT’s Bikeway Design Best Practices manual (created as part of the new Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030), an advisory bike lane consists of dotted white lines that “delineate bicycle areas” on both sides of a narrow roadway (roads where advisory bike lanes would be installed are too narrow for standard bike lanes). With the bicycle areas on each side, the remaining “automobile zone” would be wide enough for only one car at a time. Unlike standard bike lanes — which cars are prohibited from entering — cars could enter the bicycle zone when no one is present.
The idea is that people in cars will drive with more caution due to, as PBOT puts it, “friction created with oncoming vehicles”.
In the Bicycle Plan, PBOT says this type of treatment,
“… may also be useful in areas where there are few opportunities to direct motorists to other streets due to a lack of nearby parallel routes. They may be appropriate where a high density of cycling activity is not immediately expected.”
In their design manual, PBOT notes that one “implementation obstacle” is that advisory bike lanes are not currently in the FHWA’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD — but neither were the bike boxes or the cycle track). Another obstacle? There’s currently nothing about these in the Oregon Revised Statutes.
Although an advisory bike lane has been specifically mentioned for use in a neighborhood traffic calming project on SW Capitol Hill Blvd., PBOT spokesman Mark Lear says no locations have been confirmed. “We don’t have any specific locations yet identified. We’re in the process of building our capitol budget for next year and hopefully that will drive some of that decision making.”
In the current draft of the Bicycle Plan, PBOT mentions an advisory bike lane project in East Portland (“running north/south roughly along the 12900 block”) as part of their “Base Funding Scenario” which will begin in 2011. The plan also calls for 14 miles of advisory bike lanes in a $100 million list of “Tier One” investments.
Unlike buffered bike lanes or cycle tracks — which were merely re-allocations of roadway space — these advisory lanes would be a big step toward the traffic engineering concept of ‘shared space‘. They would be a significant shift for Portlanders, asking us to negotiate roads not based on what painted lines tell us to do, but on what is considerate to other road users. Will we be up to the task?
— The Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 is open for public comment until November 8th. Download your copy and find where to direct your comments here.