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New buffered bike lane on SE Division (in Gresham)

Posted by on November 12th, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Detail of Gresham’s new striping on Division.
(Larger version)

Fresh of their Bronze award from the League of American Bicyclists, Gresham (our neighbor to the east) is charging ahead with their bike plans. Thanks to a tip from reader Adam Osborn, we’ve learned about the new, bicycle-only travel lane being installed on SE Division.

Similar to what Portland did on SE Holgate, a 1.5 mile stretch of Division from SE 175th Place (Gresham’s western border) to just west of NW Birdsdale Ave will soon have six-foot wide, curbside travel lanes for bicycles with a one and a half foot buffer from the adjacent travel lanes. To make room for this change, the City of Gresham removed on-street parking for the entire stretch.

“It’s definitely a huge improvement. It gives you more space, it can be unnerving when a giant truck comes by you on Division.”
— Adam Osborn, local resident

According to Jonathan David in Gresham’s Transportation Planning department, these are the first buffered, bicycle-only travel lanes in the city. David says this is one of the projects being implemented from the City’s Transportation System Plan that passed in 2000. He says one reason for removing the on-street parking was to improve visibility for people trying to enter onto Division (a major arterial) from smaller side streets.

Local resident Adam Osborn noticed the new lanes have already been painted between 175th and 181st (striping remains to be completed, but is weather-dependent). He regularly uses Division to commute and get around, so he’s thrilled to see Gresham improving its bikeways.

“I’m excited to be able to ride on them,” he told me today, “It’s definitely a huge improvement. It gives you more space, it can be unnerving when a giant truck comes by you on Division.”

Most of Division is a 40 mph speed zone and Osborn says cars typically go faster than that. With the new lanes, he feels much more comfortable. “It’s nice to have the buffer for that piece of mind that the cars are just that much further away from you. I’m excited. It’s good to see improvements out here.”

SE Division in Portland has a bike lane (in most sections), but it also has a parking lane, which can make for less than optimal conditions. See the photo below of someone dodging a large truck on Division during a ride we took out there a few years ago.

A stretch of SE Division in Portland with on-street parking and not much of a bike lane.
(Photo © J. Maus)

As an added bonus, Gresham’s new buffered bike lanes on Division intersect with Phases 2 and 3 of the Gresham-Fairview Trail, which are slated to be completed by next year.

Learn more about Gresham’s Division Street Striping Project here.

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Hart Noecker
Guest

Here we go again.

Steve B
Guest

Awesome!

“He says the primary justification for removing the on-street parking was to improve visibility for people trying to enter onto Division (a major arterial) from smaller side streets. ”

I’ve blowing this horn here in Portland for some time now. We sacrifice too much visibility for the storage of vehicles in this city.

Glad to learn that Gresham is seeing the safety value of removing visibility-blocking parked cars! And.. this is an improvement ALL road users can appreciate.

NF
Guest
NF

Steve, I totally agree with you on the increased visibility, but keep in mind that on-street parking has some positive attributes for creating livable streets:

-Traffic calming effect by narrowing the perception of the roadway

-It is ‘shared’ parking, reducing the need for surface parking lots. This can support more human-scale land use.

I’m sure the buffered lane is a huge improvement over a traditional bike lane for the wide, high speed street.

matt picio
Guest

Also, on many streets, the houses have no driveway, and on-street parking is the only parking for many property owners. It’ll be interesting to see if after these lanes are completed average motorist speeds increase.

Andrew Seger
Guest
Andrew Seger

This is super awesome. I really want Division to have buffered bike lanes all the way to 7 corners, as a precursor to proper cycletracks someday. It’s too bad the city of Portland is going forward with the awful new streetscaping of division next year.

If only they’d take a page from the forward thinking Gresham government!

Steve B
Guest

Of course, NF, I understand and appreciate those positive benefits to on-street parking. Thanks for pointing them out!

But in this context here, we see a good reference to visibility problems because of the placement of on-street parking. I’m not calling for the removal of all parking, just those that flagrantly block sightline visibility, which endangers people walking, biking, driving, and skating. This is why in many places, it is illegal to park so close to intersections, to keep sight triangles clear. Oregon state law designates 20ft from crosswalks and 50ft if your car is over 6ft tall. This law is rarely enforced in Portland.

To me, this is an example of a safety improvement that doesn’t require much infrastructure to implement. A certain culture in Portland/PBOT exists that feels these sightline issues either (a) help slow auto traffic down because you have to pay attention more (b) do not trump parking demands in commercial areas (c) are not that critical to road safety.

I’d argue that when sightlines are clear, you see much more appropriate yielding and crossing behavior. My latest case-in-point is the new Going St/MLK crossing. When crossing West to East, the sightlines are virtually unobstructed, and here we have an unprecedented rate of yielding to those walking and biking.

Richard Campbell
Guest

@NF
On-street parking really has no benefits for livable streets. Separated bike lanes have similar traffic calming effect. In NYC, they found that the traffic calming due to bike lanes reduced pedestrian injuries by 40%.

As well, the parking blocks the view of storefront, greenery and pedestrians all of which serves to reduce the vibrancy and liveability of streets.

The large majority of cars are dull colors. On street parking thus creates a “greyish trench” along streets making them less pleasant to walk or cycle along.

Stig10
Guest
Stig10

‘Construction Underway – Phases II and III
Construction is expected to last from May to December.’:
http://greshamoregon.gov/city/city-departments/environmental-services/parks-and-recreation/template.aspx?id=5846

A different version of the same page says Summer 2012:
http://greshamoregon.gov/city/city-departments/environmental-services/parks-and-recreation/template.aspx?id=5826

So when is it really on track to being finished (to the Springwater)?
a) December 2010
b) Summer 2011
c) Summer 2012
d) When we’re all dead

Adam Osborn
Guest
Adam Osborn

This is a huge improvement over what it was. Before this there was no bike lane at all along this stretch. It was an open blank space between the lane of traffic and the curb. With that sort of design it allows cars to drift towards the curb without realizing how far out of their lane they really are. My biggest worry about this recent improvement is that not everyone will see them as such. I’m sure there will be arguments against them just as there were with Holgate.

Stig10
Guest
Stig10

My post above is referring to the Gresham/Fairview Trail

John Russell (jr98664)
Guest

The city of Portland needs to implement these on some of their major arterial streets in the outer Eastside. SE Stark from 108th Ave to 162nd (city limits) has a barely used parking lane in each direction that could very easily be turned into a buffered bike lane with very little loss of parking (in terms of what is actually used). NE Glisan in this area could also benefit from the same, but the city has now recently installed a few bio-swales that take up the parking lane in places, making things a bit more difficult than a simple re-striping.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Well, this would remove at least one piece of misery from my working life.

sabernar
Guest
sabernar

Andrew Seger
This is super awesome. I really want Division to have buffered bike lanes all the way to 7 corners, as a precursor to proper cycletracks someday. It’s too bad the city of Portland is going forward with the awful new streetscaping of division next year.
If only they’d take a page from the forward thinking Gresham government!

Try riding on Clinton then. It’s one block south and a bike boulevard. Or Lincoln/Harrison a few blocks north. Why would anyone ride their bike on Division?

matt picio
Guest

Why ride Division? The uphill grade is shallower. Also, some people may be going to a destination on Division, and can’t remember which street to turn on – they may need to ride a few blocks on Division. Definitely an unpleasant experience.

Steve B
Guest

Perhaps to get to where they are going? Lots of businesses on Division.

sabernar
Guest
sabernar

I was referring to farther in SE Division – 7 Corners/39th/etc.

Andrew Seger
Guest
Andrew Seger

@sabernar It’s an important question. I don’t think we should surrender the major arterials to cars. They’re the fastest and most direct way around town. And it’s where the interesting stuff is (Clinton being one of the few bikeways that has destination type stuff on it.) This was one point Steph Routh made in the Michael Andersen article here on bikeportland. (http://bikeportland.org/2010/11/10/alliances-key-to-making-walking-as-successful-as-bike-movement-42458)

Not that it should be a top priority-more a would be nice kind of thing that should get built eventually. But, when the city is spending more than five million dollars to make division from 39th in worse for cyclists that seems like something people should object to. Right now, with the overflow lanes during rush hour, division has defacto buffered bike lanes, which will be replaced by on street parking. The money is already allocated and construction starts January 2012. (http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=41109)

And Division in outer portland is not a good place for cyclists either, whereas it should be a good commuting route for people coming from Gresham.

Stig10
Guest
Stig10

It would be awesome to have buffered bike lanes on the major arterials, but they have to be contiguous. The city can’t make up its mind about whether bike lanes should continue up the intersection and where right turning traffic should be.

It’s a major hassle to merge into a traffic lane every other intersection at arterial speeds, impossible if traffic is backed up, downright dangerous in the dark. If I had the choice between disjointed buffered bike lanes and contiguous bike lanes, I’d take the latter.

Until this is solved, we just have all this start-stop infrastructure that goes nowhere by itself.

Adam Osborn
Guest
Adam Osborn

The way these buffered lanes work at the right turn lanes is actually quite nice. Kind of a bike box design. Basically the bike lane moves from butting up against the curb to hugging the travel lane of traffic. So essentially you are in the right turn lane in the left most portion of it. I finally got a chance to ride these lanes on my way home last night. They are a huge improvement over what it was. It will definitely take some sort of signage or marketing campaign from Gresham to inform people to not park in the bike lane.

Paulie
Guest
Paulie

Now that’s how you do a bike lane next to an arterial!

As someone who has lived in East Portland for nearly 20 years, I don’t think the loss of on street parking here is a big deal. Most of the businesses have off street parking. It’s not really enticing to park next to 40+ mph traffic, and I don’t recall ever seeing heavy use of on street on that stretch of Division.

The worst parts of my commute are where there are bike lanes next to arterials (Division and Hawthorne), with adjacent on street parking.

beth h
Guest

Congratulations to Gresham for having the political balls to remove on-street parking. Wish the Portland City Council and traffic planners could take a cue…

matt picio
Guest

That might be easier if it weren’t for the local business alliances – the Council and the planners are beholden to all the groups that petition them, not just Alternative Transportation advocates. Portland’s business groups wield a lot of political weight in city politics, and until that voice is countered by other community voices (or until the BAs are on-board), removing parking in Portland is going to remain a contentious topic.

Peter Buck
Guest
Peter Buck

Gresham also recently removed on-street parking from both sides of Glisan from at least SE 181st to SE 202nd during a chip-seal project, restriping for a center turn lane and bike lanes on both sides. AND, you should see the new bike lanes along SE 242nd from Glisan to Stark. These feature the best designed street runoff drains I have ever seen. There are no metal grates in the bike lanes. The runoff is collected by wide cuts in the curb that direct the runoff to swales between the bike lanes and the sidewalks.

AV
Guest
AV

I find that people are actually parking in these bike lanes on Glisan between 181st and 202nd. Not sure if residents know they can no longer park there or if they just dont care.