(Photos © J. Maus)
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation has made major progress toward completion of the city’s first cycle track* as part of their Cully Boulevard Improvement Project. On Friday, I took a closer look at how the bikeway is shaping up. (For an in-depth look at the project read our post from November 2008).
The cycle track on NE Cully Blvd. is part of a $5.4 million project to completely rebuild the street from NE Prescott to Killingsworth (about .6 miles). With a clean slate to work with, City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield told us back in 2008 that they sought to build “a bike facility to a European standard.”
The thing that first stood out to me about the new cycle track on Cully is how curvy it is. At each corner, the bikeway bulges out to get around curb extensions. The width of the cycle track is 7.5 feet, with 1.5 feet that will be striped with hash marks as a door zone buffer. The surface is a nice, smooth concrete, without the bumpy cracks sidewalks have. The curb separating the cycle track from the other lanes is rollable and, once the final layer of asphalt is laid down, the cycle track will be nearly flush with the adjacent lanes. This will make it easy to exit the cycle track at intersections.
In the photos I took Friday, cars are parking in the cycle track. This is due to the site still being under construction. Once the project is done and has full signage and paint, I’d expect that parking in the cycle track will decrease (however, I will not be surprised if it takes a while for people to understand that the cycle track is a lane of travel where parking is prohibited). Project plans call for bike symbols to be painted on the cycle track.
According to PBOT project manager Winston Sandino, the project could be completed as soon as this April if the weather cooperates. If not, the end of June is the targeted completion date.
This is an important project for Portland. It will give PBOT a lot of lessons on how to build a dedicated bikeways (for instance, how will bikes leave the cycle track to make a left turn and access businesses and how will intersection crossings be managed?). The cycle track will also be closely watched to see how and/or if more of them should be built throughout the city.
[*Note: You might be wondering why I refer to this as Portland’s first cycle track. Yes, I’m aware that the bikeway on SW Broadway adjacent to Portland State University is also referred to as a cycle track. However, that facility is more like a bike lane than a true cycle track. In New York City, bikeways similar to the SW Broadway facility are (more accurately in my opinion) called “parking protected bike lanes”. Full-fledged cycle tracks — like the ones in the European countries we got the idea from — are bikeways placed at a separate grade from motor vehicle traffic. Cycle tracks are further defined by more than just paint striping and are built with a different material (like concrete, in the case of Cully Blvd, and not asphalt) than the other vehicle lanes.]