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City changes dangerous lane configuration on N Broadway

Posted by on June 17th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

PBOT has changed the striping and lane configuration on Broadway at Larrabee to help reduce the risk of right-hook collisions.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Improving on a dangerous situation where right-hooks were common, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has changed the lane configuration and striping on N. Broadway at Larrabee.

Broadway and Larrabee observations-1

Here’s how it looked before.

You might recall back in October 2010, when we pointed out that after the Eastside Streetcar project came through, PBOT put the bike-lane curbside for the length of Broadway just before Larrabee. With many large trucks turning right (north) on Larrabee from Broadway, this created a lot of potential for right hooks. Broadway is a very busy bike route with people traveling straight in the bike lane through this intersection to get on the Broadway Bridge.

New striping at Broadway and Larrabee-3

In December, volunteer activists with Active Right of Way listed the intersection as one of several bike safety concerns along the new streetcar route and in February, we shared helmet cam footage of one man who was nearly hit by a right-turning truck.

Today I noticed that changes have finally been made to the intersection to address this situation.

New striping at Broadway and Larrabee-2-1

The new configuration is similar to how the striping was before the streetcar came through. Midway on the block leading up to Larrabee, the curbside bike lane drops and people on bikes merge over one lane in order to continue straight. In the new configuration, right-turning motor vehicles are to the right of through traffic.

PBOT has also added a “Copenhagen left” or two-stage turn box at the northwest corner of the intersection. This was done to help people on bicycles turn left (south) onto Larrabee from Broadway (now that streetcar tracks now occupy the left turn lane).

Leading onto the Broadway Bridge, PBOT has also re-striped the bike lane.

In my observations today, the new configuration seemed to work well and every person I saw managed to make the merge to the new bike lane without any problem.

Glad to see this finally get done. Please share your experiences with the new striping in the comments.

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  • Amos June 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    It’s amazing what a little paint can do. With the constant threat of right-hook conflict on this corner gone I can finally breath easy when I watch new/unfamiliar cyclists on this portion of my commute.

    Thank you PBOT and Portland Streetcar for following through with making these changes!

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  • Allan June 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I rode it this morning. I hardly noticed it… which is good thing. good work PBOT

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  • John Russell (jr98664) June 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Has this side of the intersection been reduced to one full through lane, or was the left-turn lane modified in any way?

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    • John Lascurettes June 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      Good question. Considering the streetcar will eventually go straight through there in the left lane … why wouldn’t the cars too? But then that leads me to thinking, how will they deal with left turning cars there?

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      • Chris I June 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

        I hope they make left turns illegal. Left turns, particularly on streets like this, do nothing but cause congestion. This is why most of Burnside through downtown does not allow left turns.

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    • Steve B June 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      You can now proceed both left and straight from the left-most lane. I am not sure this will be the final configuration, the city was working with the Rose Garden to approve a more thorough revamp of the intersection.

      AROW highlighted this intersection as one of our highest concerns. PBOT took the issue seriously, expedited the repainting, and I’m extremely happy with the results.

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  • fiets503 June 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm


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  • Greg June 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    At the point where the bikes move left and the cars move right, who has the right-of-way?

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    • John Lascurettes June 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      Consider it the same as sharing a lane without a bike lane where you want to move over to make a left. You’d have to look for a safe spot to merge, signal and move over. Whatever the rules are around that, I’d bet money it’s the same.

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    • El Biciclero June 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Tricky question. I would bet that since bikes are technically merging across the “auto” lane to get to the through bike lane, they would have to yield to auto traffic when making the transition. For that reason, it looks like the bike lane “breaks” too close to the intersection, not allowing enough time for cyclists to assess when a big enough break in traffic happens to allow the merge-across. This is the kind of situation that makes me want to merge out of the bike lane as early as necessary to take advantage of whatever gap presents itself. But then I lose all right-of-way and any legal protection in the event I get nailed.

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      • BURR June 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm

        Leaving the bike lane in preparation for making a left turn is allowed by ORS 814.420(3)(b), as is leaving the bike lane to continue straight at an intersection where the bike lane is to the right of a right turn only lane (ORS 814.420(3)(e); plus, there has never been a public hearing that this bike lane is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed (ORS 814.420(2))

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        • El Biciclero June 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm

          That’s the way I see it, and is why I merge as early as necessary when making a left–when a gap in auto traffic appears, not when I get within some magical distance from the intersection–but I never know how police and judges and juries might interpret the rules.

          It seems to get very fuzzy when I am “allowed” to leave the bike lane, but drivers only have to yield to riders “on a bike lane”. If I get rear-ended while “preparing to make a left turn”, which principle will apply: Driver at fault for failure to yield, or me at fault for failure to use the bike lane provided?

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    • poncho June 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      apparently automobiles always have the right of way over bicycles and bicycles are always to blame… anyone hear about the DUI driver that ran over 11 cyclists and instead its the cyclists being blamed?… hardly the first example this week. i guess thats what happens though when you design your streets and traffic laws only around motorists, every non-auto street user is at fault in any conflict.

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  • Chris Smith June 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Props to Amos and the AROW folks who kept this front and center with the City!

    There is both a temporary modification to the left turn lane and there will be a more permanent change that involves modifying the median island.

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  • John Lascurettes June 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Rode it for first time on Wednesday. Noticed that it has a shorter transition section than last time; but that’s okay, I take the lane when there’s a break in the cars that’s safest not necessarily exactly where the transition is.

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    • BURR June 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      sorry, but that’s probably not gonna work for the ‘interested but concerned’ demographic

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  • BURR June 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    this transition would work much better if it wasn’t so abrupt and the lane prior to the intersection was marked with sharrows rather than a bike lane at the far right.

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    • El Biciclero June 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Everything would work much better if all road users understood the rules thereof and didn’t need little painted lines to guide their every movement.

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  • JJJ June 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    This is much better than trying to do the same thing with a $90,000 traffic signal.

    However, it can be better. As others have mentioned, the transition seems abrupt. Also, there is no reason why the lane cant use an elephant foot pattern (yield squares) to make the bike lane continuous.

    Bike lane not continuous = being abandoned by the bike lane (in the eyes of a novice rider). The emrge point is the trickiest so thats where riders need the most support in terms of paint.

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  • are June 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    so when are they going to move the bike lane out of the two-lane right hook on broadway at williams. oh, i forgot. never.

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  • Paul Tay June 18, 2011 at 6:23 am

    The more you fix stuff, the more broke it becomes. One of these days, mass confusion will be the new traffic control.

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  • Rl June 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Riders seemed more predictable when the bike lane went straight; seems like we traded that for protection against the more dangerous right hook. A longer transition for the bike lane might ameliorate some of this.

    It usually works out ok but you’ll see some folks goto make the bike lane merge when they see the transition coming, only to find some speedsters trying to pass them in the auto lane to position themselves for their glorious sprint up the broadway bridge. Also had someone pass me on the right b/c they had momentum coming down the hill, so they used the right turn lane to sneak by me while I was in the bike lane

    I start thinking about taking the lane not long after I turn right off of Flint and take the lane as soon as its safe.

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  • DIMcyclist June 18, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I’m quite familiar with that stretch of road, but I’ve nearly been killed on it often enough that I try to avoid it as much as possible. Before they put the streetcar line in, having to weave back and forth across lanes of impatient, stressed, often distracted, & sometimes angry auto traffic near the I-5 on-ramps scared the living crap out of me. I was actually quite relieved with the post-construction right-side lane, since it reduced confusion for all involved; now it seems they’ve done nothing more than turn the clock back to how it used to be. Given my past experiences there, I’d say it’s almost begging for trouble.

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  • cw June 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Much needed improvement. My only criticism is that it was NOT signed well while they were painting it. I nearly right hooked and ran over a cyclist because they had closed a lane down, and it was difficult to merge and see where there were cyclists coming down next to the cones. I normally bike to work but so try to be extra cautious of cyclists when I drive. It would have been good if they had a human helping out instead of just cones blocking the street. No one really knew where they were supposed to be driving or biking, which just added to the confusion.

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  • Tom C August 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I wanted to reserve judgement about the change in design until I had ridden it for awhile and compare to near daily rides over the previous 5+ years.

    My verdict? I think it is more dangerous.


    1. The right hand turn lane is too close to the curb for the numerous tractor trailers to make the right hand turn. So they position themselves to the left, occupying and obstructing the bike lane.

    2. As others have commented, the transition is far too short and far too close to the intersection.

    3. Making #2 even worse, you have to constantly look back to make sure it is safe to make that transition. I can tell you how many cars (not trucks, curiously) speed up trying to pass you to get to the right hand turn lane. Basically, you are forced to try to cross and merge with much faster moving vehicles. Not good.

    4. And if #3 were not enough, they have completely botched the synchronization of the lights. So while you are going downhill at 15-20 MPH, scanning back for your safe move into that higher speed oncoming traffic, you have to scan forward to make sure the lights at N. Benton and N. Larrabee don’t change suddenly. The light at N. Benton, but 100 feet from the intersection of Broadway and Larrabee, is not remotely synchronized. Result? I see many riders running the lights rather than do a hard, unexpected stop.

    Personally, I think a right hand bike lane (next to the curb) with a big green bike box and set back for the right turning traffic would be far safer. And, de facto, the big trucks have to do this now as they cannot complete a turn from the current far right motor vehicle turn lane.

    Just saying….

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