Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

To encourage more riding, PBOT posts maps on bike boulevards

Posted by on August 15th, 2012 at 11:11 am

New map posted on a signal box at
NE 42nd and Alberta.
(Photo: PBOT)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation does an amazing job making biking and walking maps available. One of my first impressions upon moving here in 2004 was when I ordered some bike maps from them and a few days later say a smiling staffer delivered them to my door (by bike of course!). All told, they hand out about 100,000 of them a year. At Bridge Pedal alone, they passed out 4,000 of their pocket-sized bike maps.

Now they’ve taken their quest to encourage more biking through better knowledge of where the good routes are, to the next level. Yesterday PBOT posted 13 x 27-inch maps on traffic signal boxes at three locations around the city. The locations — SE Clinton and Cesar Chavez, NE Alberta Ct and 42nd, and NE Morris and MLK Jr. Blvd — are all neighborhood greenway streets where PBOT says, “active transportation is the priority.”

PBOT says this is a pilot project to see how the maps are received and whether it makes sense to put more of them. The maps are specific to the locations they’re posted in. Here’s more from PBOT:

“Big maps will give both locals and visitors on-the-spot information about the transportation network around them. Each map shows an area of approximately one mile by one and a half miles. The maps also direct people looking for more active transportation resources to www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation.”

I’ve always said it shouldn’t take any special knowledge or maps to get around in a truly bike-friendly city; but making it easy to find the best bike routes by putting the maps right on the street seems like a pretty cool idea.

Have you seen these yet? What do you think?

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  • 9watts August 15, 2012 at 11:15 am

    “I’ve always said it shouldn’t take any special knowledge or maps to get around in a truly bike-friendly city”

    Agreed. I appreciate the infrastructure and maps, but rarely use the latter because, frankly, most roads work fine for biking (and I realize not everyone feels this way).

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  • Sunny August 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

    You mean I actually have to find the maps to look at them? Why not locate them at choke points where touristy people are likely to traverse — like Hawthorne or Steel bridge bike/ped crossing, somewhere on the Esplanade, or to the side of a busy bike lane and almost in to it — giant size please — where people won’t have to dismount to find their way.

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  • mixtieme August 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Smart phone scanner boxes straight to the source… cuz lazy kid here.

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  • Rita August 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I hope the pilot succeeds and then Sunny’s advice is implemented. It’s been commented here that there are certain spots where it’d be nice to encourage bikers off the main car route and onto the nearby boulevard (how are they to know there is one nearby?), and that’s where these maps should be put!

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  • Jake August 15, 2012 at 11:59 am

    This is great, exactly what was needed! I’d say my ignorance of which streets are best for bikes is one of the major inhibiting factors to using my bike more around town. I’d suspect the same for others as well. Can’t wait to check ’em out!

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  • Paul Hanrahan August 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    cant it just be an app?

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    • Art Fuldodger August 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Actually, there is an app for these – and many other – bike maps.
      “Maplets” bike maps, by Zaia Design – locates all web-available bike maps by distance from your current location. Shows you where you are on a given map. You can load maps in advance, so you still have them if you’re off the grid. Caveat: It’ll cost you $0.99, and iphone only, i think.

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      • Art Fuldodger August 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

        oh, and i should add that i have no personal stake in their success. I just like their product a bunch, and have used it many times.

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  • K'Tesh August 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Oh… I like! Could I get one?

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  • Ted Buehler August 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Very good idea.

    Wayfinding is a serious issue for folks going to unfamiliar parts of town.

    For instance, you can’t follow the Tillamook Bike Blvd through Hollywood without consulting a map at least once.

    Take a look at the city bike map. To get through the Tillamook/Sandy “puzzle” you need to make some seriously counter-intuitive movements, and unless you have the map in hand to confirm it, you’ll get mixed up and end up on some nasty streets for bicycles. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through there without making at least one wrong turn.

    Until they’re willing to put in proper numbered or named bike routes, with signs to follow them like a “highway,” (as suggested by the MUTCD) then they need to really improve on-site wayfinding in difficult-to-navigate locations. This is a good start.

    Thanks PBOT!

    Ted Buehler

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    • CaptainKarma August 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      I would add mini-maps on every “bike route” sign, like some bus route maps are on bus stop poles. In fact, put them on bus route poles, too. Only don’t limit the info to only bike routes, though they would be emphasized; people need to find actual places on actual streets not necessarily lined up directly on the “greenway” or whatever the designation will be.

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  • GlowBoy August 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    This is nice, but a band-aid. If we had a bikeway network that was properly and fully signed*, maps would only be for trip planning, not routefinding along the way.

    * See my comment on the recent BTA Blueprint status report thread for more discussion of bikeway signage and markings.

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  • Adam August 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Has anyone else been the renovated Whole Foods at 28th & E Burnside?

    They now have a very good basic bike repair stand permanently outside, more bike parking, and a GIANT bike map (like, six feet by six feet) nailed up onto their external wall by the bike parking.

    The only confusing thing about the bike map, is they use different colors for the bike boulevards, bikelanes etc, than the City uses. I wish they could have kept the consistency. Green means “bike boulevard” to me, not brown.

    But that aside, it is really awesome, no matter how much you might loathe Whole Foods!

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  • dbrunker August 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    . . .

    I LIKE IT!!

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  • Erik E August 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I like seeing this around, they are useful for tourist or people new to Portland and/or biking. But, I like the visibility of them as yet another indicator that “Hey, there are bike riders in this city!”

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson August 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Nice. I could have used a map at the south side of I-84 at NE 42nd Avenue yesterday. I lost the “bikeway” and headed for 47th Avenue which has bike lanes, a route I used to take to MAX when Iived in SE. At 47th and Glisan I noticed a change…the bike lanes ended, but of the five vehicles at the light headed south, three were bikes. The motor vehicles turned left and right, and we self powered vehicles had 47th to our selves.
    I continued across Burnside at the signal to Stark, and seeing it relatively traffic free, headed east eventually cutting over to SE Belmont at 60th. At the end of my doctor visit there, I just headed west on Belmont down the hill leaving the TriMet bus behind. And then found my way via the twists and turns of the 40’s “bikeway” back to MAX at 42nd Avenue.
    What’s the point of this story? Sometimes I think that bike lanes and bikeways are not there for bike riders, but are there to get us bikers out of the way of motor vehicles on the most direct and logical routes. Riding straight down major arterials with signals is pretty efficient, often better than trying to find your way along a circuitous “bikeway.” Maybe its time to start converting selected arterials to true shared use, especially those without transit. Stark, from the River to Gresham, could be a multi-modal spine with protected bikelanes (remove parking) and/or sharrows and suitable speed limits. And why not put Hawthorne on a diet to 50th and add the bike lanes sought so many years ago. Same for NE Sandy, SE Foster. Granted they have transit, but each has 4 lanes of motorized traffic and could us a “diet.” Hey, we could paint bikelanes on Hawthorne between 39th and 50th tonight!
    Many riders are not waiting for the city, but just taking the most direct, logical route from point A to point B, bike system be damned. My helmet is off to them today.

    Ted, re Tillamook Bikeway, the CAC for that project in the 90’s came up with lots of signage ideas, but all be got were “bike dots” and finally sharrows. There is not one sign that says “Tillamook Bikeway” between Flint and NE 92nd Avenue!

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  • Alex Reed August 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    This probably isn’t within scope, and new/unfamiliar users’ needs are more urgent/important, but what *I* really would like as an experienced n’hood greenway user would be some reminders of what businesses/destinations are where down at the main/busy street. For example, if I’m going down the Lincoln/Harrison bikeway near Hawthorne, do I turn at 35th, 36th, or 37th to get to Powell’s on Hawthorne? If I’m going down the Tillamook/Hancock bikeway, where do I turn to get to the Safeway on Broadway? I have made these trips many times, yet still often can’t remember exactly where to turn.

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  • dwainedibbly August 15, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I like it! If I’m in a strange (or weird) town trying to get around, I may not have an app.

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  • dutchy August 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Recently saw maps like these in Victoria, BC…aimed at tourists. I thought, “Effective, simple, and easy to implement…why can’t Portland do the same?”

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