The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

City unveils list of 11 new bike box locations

Posted by on September 14th, 2010 at 6:40 pm

PBOT’s plans for new bike box planned for SE 7th at Hawthorne
(Photos © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has unveiled a list of locations for a second phase of bike box installations. PBOT traffic safety specialist Greg Raisman presented the list at tonight’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting. In total, 14 new bike boxes are in the works.

PBOT traffic safety specialist Greg
Raisman (L) at tonight’s Bike Advisory

Here’s the list. Note that these are numbered by their “installation priority”. The rationale for that priority follows each one (taken directly from PBOT):

    1. NE Couch at Grand – Recent, major modifications resulting in large number of reports of right turn conflict.
    2. SE Madison at SE Grand – Large amount of bicycle and bus traffic. Box part of 2 year old mitigation plan.
    3. SE 26th at SE Powell (2 boxes planned) – Large number of reported crash activity that could benefit from a bike box.
    4. SE 7th Ave at SE Hawthorne (NB) – Facilitate large number of bicycle left turns from eastbound to northbound.
    5. SE 7th Ave at SE Madison (SB) – Large right turn demands, as well as through, from motor vehicles and bicycles. Motor vehicles encroach in westbound bike lane on Madison.
    6. N Interstate at N. Tillamook (NB) – Large increase in right turning large trucks due to Water Bureau safety change relative to N. Wheeler.
    7. SW Terwilliger at SW Capitol Hwy (SB) – Major bicycle connection to Southwest Portland. Right turn demand onto Capitol Hwy.
    8. N Interstate at N Alberta (NB) – Significant right turn demand onto Alberta for motor vehicles, large number of straight movement for bicycle traffic.
    9. SE Gladstone at SE Cesar Chavez (2 bike boxes planned) – Connection to 40s and SE Center bike boulevards 3 blocks east. Heavy turn demand onto Cesar Chavez.
    10. N Willamette at N Portsmouth (WB) – High right turn demand across popular bike lane on Willamette. Lower priority due to higher cost capital needs necessitated by roadway width and a bus stop.
    11. SE Lincoln at SE 39th (2 bike boxes planned) – Large numbers of through bicycles and turn demand from motor vehicles due to semi-diverter. May want to consider as a part of round three projects would treat signalized boulevard crossings.

In explaining their reasoning for installing more bike boxes, Raisman said, “Our observation is that they’ve contributed to a safer, more comfortable travel environment. It appears they’re a good tool for us and we have more places where we think they can help.” The City’s case for bike boxes has gotten a boost from recent positive research findings.

The first two locations on the list will be installed by the end of October and the next seven will be installed by next spring. Stay tuned for more details on what’s planned at each location.

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

  • Clarence Eckerson September 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tony September 14, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Pretty exciting, I can’t wait for the one at SE Lincoln and SE 39th, I feel like a loser for waiting behind cars at that intersection while everyone else crowds up in the crosswalk there.

    I do wonder about the SE 7th box pictured. While I appreciate any help at this intersection, I guess it would have been too difficult to find a way to safely get bikes in the left-most lane there to turn with traffic. This will necessitate a wait at the light at SE 7th now, no matter what, in order to turn, and sometimes two light changes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • scoot September 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I don’t understand the box in the photo… You’re supposed to move farther to the right, to the right of the bike lane, and then wait there to turn left across the bike lane and all traffic lanes? Maybe I’m missing something.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan September 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Cool, a *giant* disembodied hand! 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spiffy September 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    always good to see intersections I use on the list for coming improvements…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Tom September 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    It’s very difficult to cycle in areas without these boxes, I certainly hope they build many more of them, whatever the cost per box.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sarah Sharp September 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I wish they would install a bike box at SW 1st and Main (just westbound off the Hawthorne bridge) that would faciliate a southbound turn. It’s terrifying to try to cross two lanes of bridge traffic accelerating downhill to turn left onto 1st. It makes it difficult to get to the Jefferson Street bike lane from the Hawthorne bridge.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • EmGee September 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I think these bike boxes are great!

    But are there funds for long term maintenance, when the green wears off or the surface needs patching? We already have too many bike lane markings that are completely worn away. Please tell me that long term maintenance costs have been researched and will be in future budgets.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Red Five September 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Again nothing for outer NE Portland. Oh well. : (

    Enjoy my tax money!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Phyfe September 14, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Um, no 21st and Division? This seems like such a no brainer to me. Bikes going to Ladd’s and cars going to 20th. Bike box and a bike light would avoid soooo much confusion.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jim September 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    i can tell from the picture that there will be a lot of confusion on where to be… chaos

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay September 14, 2010 at 10:10 pm


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Shamus September 14, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    @ EmGee – these new bike boxes will be using a new material (according to Greg’s presentation tonight) that they’ve ben using in bus lanes in England and holding up to that kind of wear and tear, so they’ve tried to address that.

    @ Phyfe – there is a whole Division Street reconfiguration in the works that will include revamping the whole 21st and Division intersection. I’m trying to remember, but I think there are bike boxes included in that design. It’s just separate from this list because it’s it’s own (huge) project.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Shamus September 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Not sure why I’m taking the bait, but…

    What exactly is overrated about a piece of infrastructure that costs very little $$, and studies show increases both actual safety and perceived safety (comfort in both drivers and bicyclists)? Why isn’t that just smart? Why must there be a smart-assed, cynical comment for every post?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 14, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Hi paul tay,

    i’d love to hear your reasons for thinking bike boxes are “over -rated”.


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are September 15, 2010 at 12:38 am

    northeast couch at grand, “recent, major modifications resulting in large number of reports of right turn conflict.” could not have said it better myself. the situation is created by striping a bike lane where none is needed, inside two right hooks and a bus stop. the correct solution is to get rid of the striped lane and either put down sharrows or send the motorists to re-education camps. instead we put yet another layer of paint on the problem.

    at the BAC meeting, greg made it clear that part of what they are doing here is continuing to build the case for MUTCD recognition of the bike box. there will be before and after studies, presumably with some better metrics than were used in the previous study, which i think ought to be regarded as inconclusive.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jen September 15, 2010 at 5:18 am

    once these a rein place, will bicyclists be required to use them? I commute on Hawthorne and turn left (north) on 7th every day. Coming off the bridge I just merge across the three lanes of auto traffic.

    While it would be nice to use the bike-box-left for those days when I am with less secure riders, it would actually end up making my commute slower (and possibly less safe. will there be enough room for passing bicyclists/motor vehicles as people slow and try to merge into this little left turning box? I can just imagine getting taken out by another bicyclist here).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay September 15, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Yo, J. Maus:
    Why bike boxes are over-rated:
    1) The vast majority of American cities have no bike boxes;

    2) The vast majority of American cities have lotsa bicyclists who merrily roll along just fine without them.

    3) “Much of what has gone on in highway design and operation practice has represented activity without sufficient thought.” Highway Safety, Design and Operation. Report 93-7. Subcommittee on Investigations and Review. Committee on Public Works, U.S. House of Representatives, July 1973.

    4) “The fallacy has been to cram ‘good medicine’ down people’s throat because the ’experts’ thought it was good for them.” Fisher, E. G., and R. Reeder. Vehicle Traffic Law. Traffic Institute, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1974, 20, 29.

    5) “Advertised as a panacea for all traffic ills in its early days, the traffic signal turned out to be one of those medicines that cures one disease and gives you another. It has been known since the late 1920s that signals reduce right-angle accidents at the cost of causing more rear-end and left-turn collisions.” Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. BPR & AASHO, 1935, 63.

    For the rest of the story, read Traffic Control: An Exercise in Self-Defeat.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay September 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Maybe instead of bike boxes, simply design streets to slow down horsepower happy cagjaaas between the reds, double intersection capacity allowing continuous flow from all directions, and cause celestial angels to descend from the heavens? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaah. NOT a chance.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay September 15, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Also, Shamus, #14, would you rather have REAL safety or just the impersonation? Yep. I prefer the impersonation. Ignorance is BLISS.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bob_M September 15, 2010 at 7:20 am

    Paul Tay @ #s 12,18 & 19

    Thank you for articulating my hunch.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • PDXbiker September 15, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Ref the photo -So how does that left turn arrow box on Hawthorne work? You like gotta wait there to turn left or what?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SilkySlim September 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I think you bike 90% of the way through the intersection going east, and then stop in the little green box (and position yourself to go north). Then you wait for the light to change, and continue on your way. [note that North is Left in the image]

    This way you can stop at the liquor store, use the new turn box, and continue north with out weaving across too many lanes of traffic. My life is complete!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel September 15, 2010 at 8:27 am

    “will bicyclists be required to use them?”

    i almost always just take the lane on hawthorne. imo, this bike lane is one of the most dangerous in this city.

    *right hook risk at 7th and 11th.
    *very poor visibility to cars darting across hawthorne
    *unsafe competition for the lane with buses pulling in and out of bus stops
    *the disappearing bike lane at 12th that drops riders into dangerous uneven and rutted pavement (while fending off buses that pass too close)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DK September 15, 2010 at 8:28 am

    They should be a color other than green.

    Green is already significant in the traffic control world, as a means to signal “go” but in this instance, the design calls for motorists to stop behind the green. It seems a good idea but the implementation needs a little tweaking IMO.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR September 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

    that bike box at 7th and Hawthorne is just going to create more hazards for through cyclists who will now also need to watch for cyclists in the box on their right in addition to motor vehicle traffic on their left.

    Providing that left turn refuge for cyclists might also technically make merging to the left lane in a vehicular manner on Hawthorne to turn left illegal under ORS 814.420.

    The better place to put a bike box to facilitate cyclists wanting to turn left off lower Hawthorne would be at the base of the eastbound viaduct, at SE Hawthorne and Grand.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR September 15, 2010 at 11:33 am

    In general bike traffic should be routed to the left of right turning motorists and not to the right of right turning motorists.

    The whole idea of bike boxes is ass backwards and I sincerely hope that they are never adopted by the MUTCD because of the inherently hazards they pose to cyclists.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are September 15, 2010 at 11:35 am

    re mandatory sidepath questions above. for the time being, the green box is a nonstandard treatment, and thus (probably) not subject to 814.420. however, greg made a point of saying last night that this project is intended to generate data that will support a push for MUTCD certification. once that is achieved (if it is achieved), you will be out of luck.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bonnie September 15, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I’ve got to say that I think that left-turn box at 7th & Hawthorne is a bad idea. I see huge conflict between cyclists, and between cyclist and motorists. There has got to be a better way.
    Happy to see ‘regular’ bike boxes at some of these other locations, though!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam September 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I would love to see a bike box on NW 14th at Everett. This location sees motor vehicles coming off the 405 freeway at high speed and careening right onto Everett without giving the bike lane a second thought.

    It feels very, very dangerous as a commuter who uses this bike lane daily.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jeff P September 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve always believed as Paul Tay does…over rated. Mostly a ‘feel good’ solution. Though, admittedly, if people FEEL safer they about something they are more likely to participate.

    The biggest problems I notice with bike boxes in Portland:

    They do no good on the grren light cycle which is where the ‘right hook’ most commonly occurs.

    Even with the media and education blitzes, the majoity of people still have no idea what they are or what they are supposed to do. When driving people zone out what is beyond their bumpers [I cn attest to this by the number of vehicles with Share the Road plates and/or bike racks on their cars that treat the boxes with total disregard.

    PS Terwilliger/Capitol Hwy will take some serious widening/reconfiguration with an extension on the southern side of Terwi’ger…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Harve D September 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Hey Paul,
    Do you have anything that isn’t over 40 years old to explain your thoughts on modern infrastructure developments?
    Bike boxes have been developed in Portland to deal with a higher split in mode share on streets that see a lot more traffic than they did back in the ’30s and ’70s.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio September 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    scoot (#3) – You’re supposed to wait there and reposition your bike in your intended direction of travel. When the light turns green for 7th, you would then continue straight, in front of both the 7th Ave through-cyclists, and 7th Ave motorized traffic.

    BURR (#27) – What inherent hazards? They’ve been in place for some time now, and I haven’t heard of any documented injuries due to a bike box so far.

    are (#28) – I won’t be out of luck, I’ll just be a ticket-magnet. If I can make a safer left by taking the lane, I’ll do it and accept the consequences. I hope many other cyclists choose to do likewise in that event if they feel safe to do so. (I agree completely with your interpretation)

    As Vance and others have said previously, the “mandatory” provision of ORS 814.420 needs to go away.

    Jeff P (#31) – I think the big problem is that there are people who seem to think that as long as their physical body is behind the stop line / crosswalk, then they’re ok, regardless of how far ahead of them the car’s front end extends. I have to wonder if that’s a perceptual issue, and what can be done to correct it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio September 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    BTW, the biggest issue I see with the “left-turn” bike box is that it fails to accommodate bikes with trailers, or any other configuration with an extra-long wheelbase.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Alexis September 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Yay! I never thought I’d be excited about more bike boxes, but since it looks like they really are helping, I’d rather see them come than not for as long as Oregon insists on this strange right-hand turn behavior from cyclists and drivers. And I’m with Adam, 14th and Everett would be a great next candidate after these.

    @Sarah Sharp: coming off the Hawthorne I just take the side ramp onto the path, then cross at the crosswalk. It feels easier to me to access Jefferson that way. And cars are surprisingly willing to stop, at least when I’ve been there.

    I’m assuming the Hawthorne/7th setup will be like the cycletrack boxes, only less mandatory (on the cycletrack you can’t move in the middle of the intersection; here you will still be able to. Sometimes traffic is heavy there and I think it will be nice for that use, provided cyclists obey the traffic light and don’t try to do the second stage when Hawthorne traffic still has a green. But I’d guess the probability that people won’t try that is low.

    I’d rather see the mandatory-sidepath law get repealed totally than see it used as an excuse for not installing infrastructure.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Black Dude on Bicycle September 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    @23 the liquor store is at 11th not 7th.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • scoot September 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    matt picio (#33) – Thanks. I was showing the photo to someone a few minutes after I posted and suddenly it was completely obvious to me – I think the giant pointing hand threw me off the first time. The same hand that makes the box look way too small to accommodate more than a couple of skinny bikes without blocking the crosswalk, but who knows? Maybe it’ll be great.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Tay September 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    RE:”Bike boxes have been developed in Portland to deal with a higher split in mode share on streets that see a lot more traffic than they did back in the ’30s and ’70s.”

    Hang out at any given Fred Meyer’s parking lot and observe how peds, bikes, and cars all share the same space without killing each other. No bike boxes required.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel September 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    imo the hawthorne bike lane should have right turn lanes for vehicles (as on madison). this is just too busy a section for conventional bike lane/bike box treatment.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are September 15, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    re comment 39, ah, but you haven’t seen what they have planned for that block. a green lane the entire 180 feet, with skip striping, and a bike box at grand. not much further opportunity for input at this point: schedule to be already done, paint on the ground, by the end of october.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel September 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    “but you haven’t seen what they have planned for that block. a green lane the entire 180 feet, with skip striping”

    good grief.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jim September 16, 2010 at 12:46 am

    i bought a bike in a box once, i took it out and threw the box away. good idea- hey?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR September 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    re #42: are they actually proposing to put the bike lane to the right of the RTOL at this location? And allow the bus to stop in the bike lane?

    Or will there still be a RTOL and bus stop to the right of the bike lane/box?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BURR September 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Jonathan, can you please post a link to PBOT’s plans for the rest of these intersections?


    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are September 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    re comment 45, no the green lane would be where the blue lane is now, to the left of the bus/right turn lane, only it would extend the entire length of the block, with skip striping. you can kinda see this in the second, smaller photo.

    the list of twelve projects is not yet posted to PBoT’s site.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Seth D. Alford September 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I was at the BAC meeting on 9/14, where the new bike boxes were discussed.

    I echo Red Five’s comment @9 about tax dollars going to the inner east side, except that I’m concerned that the west side is getting short-changed. (No, I’m not a resident of Portland, so my property tax dollars do not go to Multnomah County and Portland. But, my employer is in Portland, and they do pay property taxes there. Anyway…)

    Most of the BAC meeting concerned projects in the inner east side Only 1 of the 11 bike boxes discussed was on the west side. There was also mention of the SW Moody bicycle track. Otherwise it was all east of the river and west of 205. There was a lot of discussion about the bike boxes planned for Hawthorne and Grand, the bike box on SW 7th and Hawthorne, the 50s bikeway planned for more or less SE 52nd, and the plans for the bike facilities around the Milwaukie light rail line and the new bridge. The end of the meeting concerned how the BAC was going to pick new members. They asked non-members to leave the room for that discussion. At that point I was ready to go anyway.

    Ask someone else for details about the various east-side projects discussed. I started tuning out the meeting since I had trouble hearing what was going on over the band playing in the lobby. (Suggestion for BAC members who might be reading: next time consider rescheduling or moving the meeting if they are going to have a party at City Hall.)

    I had attended with the idea that I might want to apply for a position on the BAC. Given what I saw that night, I don’t think so. It seemed to me while I was attending the meeting that the purpose of the meeting is to rubber stamp whatever inner east side bicycle projects the city wants to do.

    I did hear some of the presentation about the left turn bike box at 7th. The motivation for that was for the more timid riders who were uncomfortable cutting across lanes of traffic on Hawthorne. There was no discussion about _requiring_ all bicyclists to use that left turn box. And, there was a question about the holding capacity of that box, which I recall was estimated at 6-8 bicyclists. Implied in that discussion was that people would continue to make the vehicular left. I hope that the meeting minutes capture that.

    Had we a functioning BTA, here’s something that they could do: be sure to save a copy of the meeting minutes from that BAC meeting. That way, say a future gung-ho Portland Police patrol person tickets bicyclists for _not_ using that left turn box. At the traffic court trial, the lawyer defending the bicyclists can say, “Your honor, as you can see from the meeting minutes back in 2010 when the BAC discussed this, there was no mention of the left turn box being mandatory. Therefore ORS 814.420 does not apply. My thanks to the BTA for making sure we have a copy of those minutes.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are September 21, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    re comment 48, there have been no minutes of BAC meetings posted in over a year:

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mh September 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    #49 – You got it, no minutes for more than a year, and probably no agendas. Guess that makes sense if they’re just rubber-stamping PBOT plans. I, too, went to get a feel for the committee because I was considering applying for a seat. I think I’ll focus whatever energy I’ve got elsewhere, perhaps AROW.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are September 21, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    that being said, i don’t think the green boxes can become part of the mandatory sidepath law just yet, as they are acknowledged to be an experimental treatment. the city attorney has taken the position that 814.420 applies to bike lanes that were listed in the 1998 bike master plan and conform to AAHSTO standards.
    also, i am not sure that presentation to the BAC constitutes a public hearing anyway.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • -d- May 5, 2011 at 12:02 am

    any word on these being installed?

    Recommended Thumb up 0