Bike traffic on NW Broadway shows need for re-design

Bike traffic on NW Broadway-20
Morning rush hour on NW Broadway just north of Hoyt. Notice how much space is needed to move people in cars compared to on bikes.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The streets of Portland are teeming with bike traffic these days. The warm and sunny weather has mixed with the ongoing and consistent growth in bike use all over the city. The result is places in our transportation network where the road design is very outdated and it does a poor job of serving people on bikes.

One of those places is NW Broadway from the Broadway Bridge down to Burnside.

After hearing whispers about major changes coming soon to this stretch of Broadway from various sources at the BTA and at the City of Portland in the recent days, I hope to share some exciting news about it later today.

For now, feast your eyes on the bike traffic I observed this morning…

Emerson School is just a few blocks away and NW Broadway is the route taken by many parents and their kids.
This was the most bike traffic I have ever witnessed at this location.
The platoon just south of Hoyt.

These platoons of riders numbered around 30 people (easily as many people as there are in cars). After they queue up at the light at Lovejoy and the west end of the Broadway Bridge, they come whizzing down the viaduct south toward Hoyt. One of the larger groups this morning stretched almost the entire length of the viaduct from the bike signal at the bridge to the signal at Hoyt. The bike lane in this section is far from adequate. It’s only a standard width of five feet or so and it is full of bumps. It can feel unsafe for some riders, especially when it’s full of people riding at different speeds. Some people on bikes will squeeze by and pass without an audible warning and/or with cars in the adjacent lane. Others will opt to simply take the lane and mix with auto traffic.

At the bottom of the hill is NW Hoyt and a notorious right-hook hazard. PBOT has installed a bike box and caution sign here, but there are still collisions.

It’s important to note that this is a city designated “Truck Route” (the U.S. Postal Service main headquarters, post office, and sorting facility is located on the northwest corner). As you might have read on the BTA blog recently, bike advocates and PBOT staff have been working hard to collaborate and build relationships with trucking and freight interests. A re-design of this stretch of Broadway will only happen if freight and bike advocates work with the City to hash out their differences and work toward mutual interest.

NW Broadway is clearly in need of improved bike access (as I said with words and pictures back in February too). Thankfully, PBOT is already aware of this and they — along with the BTA — have already started to make something happen.

Stay tuned.

Do you ride on this stretch of Broadway? How does it work for you?

UPDATE, 3:26 pm: The project has been confirmed. Announcement and more details here.

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