Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

The power of paint part two: Stark/Oak green lanes working well so far

Posted by on November 16th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-9

Greeeeeen.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)


I’m afraid my post this morning about the newly green painted lanes on SW Stark and Oak is a bit misleading. The images show just one block face of SW Stark that has a lot of right turns, and the people driving upon the green lanes in the images are preparing to turn right. Like I said, while many of them take liberties with the law and drive in the green lane the entire block, most people do what they should do: merge over onto the green just prior to the turn.

So, why am I doing another post and sharing more photos? Because I want it to be clear that I think the new and improved bike lanes on Stark and Oak are excellent. Even without any physical separation, because they have been made extra-wide (eight feet) and because the new paint is so highly visible (at least so far), the impact on behavior is already noticeable. From what I can tell and from what I’ve heard from others, it is already working very well.

I have been amazed how few people drive on the lanes now that they are fully green. And even Joel Metz, a local bike courier who rides them all the time has noticed a difference. “I rarely see cars on them with the new paint,” he said to me just a few minutes ago. Then he added, “They’re huge!” (as in, the lanes are wide).

Here are more images showing how people in cars seem to be steering clear of them…

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-12

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-13

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-10

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-8

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-7

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-4

Green bike lanes Stark and Oak-2

This project is likely going to be an important test of how much we can accomplish with paint alone. If PBOT is able to create separation between people on bikes and in cars strictly through visual treatments, they will have done something that requires far less investment and political risk than curbs, bollards, or other types of physical barriers. Of course, if the green is all you’ve got, it must be maintained and it must remain vivid and highly visible or it will lose its power.

It will take more time and analysis to determine if these lanes are working. But so far, so good.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

54
Leave a Reply

avatar
19 Comment threads
35 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
29 Comment authors
AMarewsbobEl BicicleroReza Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Andrew K
Guest
Andrew K

I need to go check this out in person but I am liking what I see. I think it is helpful that the lane is pretty darn wide! Takes away some of the fear of getting doored by a parked car when you have space within the lane to move around as necessary.

Dolan Halbrook
Guest
Dolan Halbrook

I ride these every weekday and so far the paint does seem to be doing its job of keeping drivers out of there. This was a pretty egregious spot for drivers in the bike lane before (saw several of them every single day driving right down the lane, often with out of state plates) so it’s low hanging fruit.

Joe
Guest
Joe

green is good! we need a no / cars sign in the middle 🙂

Indy
Guest
Indy

it will lose *its* power.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Great job documenting the change, Jonathan! It is great that your office provides the chance to observe the effect this is having on car traffic.

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

That does actually look like it’s doing the job. I’m excited to try these out shortly. Imagine what this treatment would feel like on Broadway!

Dan
Guest
Dan

BTW, maybe we should all work to have this treatment used on the new Multnomah bikeway instead of the yellow (let’s start setting a precedent!) and paint the lane AND the buffer there too. I rode it last Sunday and while it is nice, it does seem to be rather narrow in some areas (I think the buffer was wider than the lane in a few spots!).

Spiffy
Guest

most people do what they should do: merge over onto the green just prior to the turn.

except that’s not what they should do… they’re not allowed to drive in the lanes at all, not even before getting into to right turn lane…

they’re allowed to CROSS OVER the bike lane during the designated merge area and not before it…

Here are more images showing how people in cars seem to be steering clear of them

1) truck and van in the green paint…
2) van riding the line
3) suv touching the green…
4) looks all clear!
5) looks all crear!
6) vehicles touching the white line
7) multiple vehicles on the white line

you know how critical we are here and I’d say those are some pretty poor examples of cars steering clear… 29% compliance is not good… if that were another car lane next to them they wouldn’t be riding the line like that…

yes, they may not be fully in the lane traveling the length of the block, but they still don’t respect the space more than the potential ticket cost…

Dweendaddy
Guest
Dweendaddy

The only problem with those pictures is the lack of bikes! I TRULY believe in “build it and they will come,” but I sure hope they come soon! Then the drivers can make sense of why so much of the road is taken up by green!

John Lascurettes
Guest

It has been much, much better. It’s even kind of an interesting visual sensation riding on it with all that green pavement streaming by under you.

I do note, both personally and in most of the photos above, that there is usually a car straddling the white line or even into the green with their right tires and will do so for the entire length (note the white van in multiple pictures above). I wonder how quick the edges of the lane will wear out (especially during “stud” season). If the edges get worn out, will it encourage cars to just encroach more?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Just look at all those people on bikes in the green bike lanes! One picture shows, over a series of three blocks, a total of two people on bikes, one per block, separated by a block! I hope they were able to avoid colliding with each other. Meanwhile, the pictures show cars backed up in the main lanes of travel.

grumpcyclist
Guest
grumpcyclist

I worked downtown for 10 years and commuted by bike for 6 of those years, I’ve never understood the need for additional facilities on downtwon streets. Sure, the bike lane up Broadway makes sense because of the degree of the incline, but otherwise the lights downtown are timed at a bit under 12mph, I have NEVER had a problem keeping up with the speed of traffic, and have felt perfectly safe by putting myself right in the middle of the lane and travelling at the speed of auto traffic. I’d argue the lack of use of these bike lanes is because it’s easier to bike on Alder/Washington as you come from (or go to) the east side.

Dave Miller
Guest
Dave Miller

Tonight I drive my car down Stark and what I really like is the clearer guidance on how to turn right onto 3rd. The bike lane changes pattern where I can merge across and there is a right turn only lane to the right of the bike lane that used to be parking. This is great. I’m heartened by the effort the city is putting into trying new solutions here.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

I think Mr. Maus might have been trying to illustrate how empty the green lane is EVEN WHEN NO BIKES are in it. Exemplifying a degree of respect for the space that might not have been there before. The stark (!) contrast helps that point being made.

Toon
Guest
Toon

I have lived between The Netherlands and Portland over the last 4 1/2 years and I can tell say that even in Europe, during certain times of the day, the bike lanes have very few people in them.

Come back at a peak time and you can barely get into some of the bike lanes without accidentally hitting someone else.

Portland doesn’t have anywhere near the bike-ridership as cities in The Netherlands (obviously), but like in The Netherlands, there are times of the day when there are more people out on their bikes than at other times.

These images were obviously taken at a time when there were less people out of their bikes and means very little in the context of things.

–Roads aren’t always packed with vehicular traffic either.

anthony sands
Guest
anthony sands

I just moved to socal after living in portland for 17 years it sucks here. there some bike lanes, but people like to park in them and the speed limits are crazy fast. I need some advice on how to get something going down in these parts, I’m miss you Portland, your spoiled, and I love you.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Those photos remind me of how Judge Zusman must envision bike lanes.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Regarding all the comments about apparent lack of usage:
1. There is very little that can be inferred from a single set of photos taken within a short amount of time.
2. “If you build it they will come” has to be understood to include a bit of a time delta between building and coming–and with the previous treatment of this bike lane, it should be considered to have just been built.
3. As ‘are’ alludes to in a post above, there is such a thing as brilliant infrastructure in a crappy location. This street is apparently not used very much by car drivers either, which is probably why it was chosen for a bike treatment. Drivers don’t want it very much, so we’ll let the bike people “have” it. The unasked question I think of (wsbob) is “why is this street underused by autos?” Is it not a major connector between popular destinations? Is it not well-connected to river crossings? If it isn’t well-used by autos, what made anyone think it would be useful as a bike route? Does green paint smell like donuts? Is it irresistible to cyclists?

I think there is a particular phenomenon that is possible when building bike infrastructure: Transpo authorities look for a place to put something–anything–to make it look like they like bikes. Unfortunately, those authorities are under some amount of pressure not to “take away” road space from cars, so they look for either locations that are “out of the way”, or treatments that don’t result in much loss of car driving space. Then a facility is implemented that is either a) too complicated, b) too dangerous to be used with any frequency, or c) a beautiful “bike lane to nowhere” that no one uses because it doesn’t connect any desirable destinations. Then “news” outlets and the general public and government officials can point out all the money that was spent and the traffic that was disrupted, and the travel lanes or parking spaces lost, and the confusion that was introduced and “show” how spending on such things is a waste of money “because nobody even uses it”.

AM
Guest
AM

I work in the area and have seen cars driving directly down the bike lane for blocks at a time, seemingly clueless about what they are doing. While I think this helps, it certainly hasn’t stopped everyone.