PBOT to collect data on Stark buffered bike lane; changes possible by summer

PBOT will look to prevent this type
of illegal driving.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has announced that they will analyze traffic behavior on the buffered bike lanes on SW Stark and could make changes to the street to improve bike access by the end of the summer.

On April 20th, I shared photos documenting that the buffered bike lane between 3rd and 4th was not working. Stark and Oak (its couplet one block north) were re-striped back in May 2009 in order to improve bicycling access through downtown.

On Friday, I was contacted by City Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller. Geller shared that they’ve heard loud and clear that the street is not working. He also said PBOT is going to immediately install traffic cameras on Stark to analyze the situation. Then, based on what they see (which will be a large amount of cars and trucks routinely ignoring the bike-only lane), PBOT will “make some improvements to make it work better.”

Geller didn’t say what type of changes PBOT might make, but it’s clear the situation needs to improve. One possibility would be to move the parking lane into the middle of the roadway and put the bikeway curbside. This would deter anyone from driving down it and it would create separation between auto and bike traffic (similar to the cycle track on SW Broadway near Portland State University).

For inspiration, PBOT could look at how New York City’s DOT improved bike access on Grand Avenue back in 2008. Grand Ave is similar width to Stark (34 feet compared to 32 feet) and all PBOT would have to do is swap the existing bikeway with the parking lane. Here’s the plan sketch from NYCDOT:

And here’s how it looks now (thanks to Streetsblog for the image):

(Photo: Brad Aaron/Streetsblog)

And if you’re concerned about right-turning auto traffic not being able to see people on bikes, download the NYC DOT presentation on the Grand Ave project (PDF here) and take a look at the “mixing” zones they’ve designed at intersections.

Stay tuned. We’ll share from PBOT once we hear about their specific plans. At this point, I’m just happy they are making this a priority.

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