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NW Broadway to get 10-foot buffered bike lanes

Posted by on May 6th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Before and after cross-section of plans for Broadway Bridge viaduct project.

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is planning a major re-design of NW Broadway from the Broadway Bridge (at Lovejoy) to Burnside.

The plan is to re-stripe the lanes on the bridge viaduct (from signal at Lovejoy to NW Hoyt) from four, 9.5 foot wide vehicle lanes and a five-foot wide bike lane to three 11-foot wide vehicle lanes and a 10 foot bike lane. In order to create the space for the wider bike lane, PBOT will do with one fewer northbound lane between Hoyt and Lovejoy. Then, south of Hoyt, PBOT will install “pro-time” parking on the west side of Broadway between Glisan and Burnside during the morning peak (from 7:00 to 9:00 am). They will also stripe a “floating bike lane” in that same stretch. (This basically means there will be two places for the bike lane, depending on whether or not parking is allowed. For more on floating bike lanes, read this case study from San Francisco.)

In their analysis, PBOT notes that the northbound lanes on the Broadway ramp are fed by only one lane, so this project will just extend the same lane configuration that exists on Broadway between Burnside and Hoyt. The removal of a northbound lane will have no impact on existing auto traffic volumes. And, while the bikeway will be improved, the width of the existing vehicle lanes will be increased — which will help with trucking movements.

As we shared earlier today, bike traffic has mushroomed on this stretch of Broadway. PBOT counts show a more than doubling of bike trips from 2005 to 2010 (from 2,081 to 5,200 average daily trips).

If you think this is all happening quickly, remember that this isn’t a new idea. This project was identified in PBOT’s Pearl District Access and Circulation Plan which was adopted by City Council back in June.

Along with the confirmation of the project today comes word that the Bicycle Transportation Alliance played a key role in making this happen. As we all know, just because a project is in an adopted plan, that doesn’t mean it will ever get built. In order to line up the politics and make sure that downtown freight and business interests supported this project, PBOT looked for a major assist from the BTA. The BTA’s lead advocate, Gerik Kransky, called on relationships he’s developed in the past few years to deliver the support PBOT — and City Hall — needed.

Here’s what Kransky wrote on the BTA Blog a few minutes ago:

“…by simply repainting the lanes on the ramp to match the lanes on NW Broadway from Hoyt to Burnside, we can dedicate more space to people on bicycles while providing wider travel lanes for cars and trucks. This project is small but important, and it serves as a fantastic example of the kind of collaboration we should strive for as we rebuild and maintain our transportation system.”

Reached via phone today, Kransky said he was well-positioned to play the role of “peacemaker” between PBOT and local freight and business advocates. He especially called on Lanny Gower, who not only works for Con-Way Freight and is on the policy committee of the Oregon Trucking Association; but he’s also a BTA board member. “I came to Lanny and said, ‘The City wants to do this, what can we do to make sure that everybody understands it and how can we built the best possible project that everyone supports?'”

PBOT estimates the total cost of the project will be $30,000 and they expect to get started on it in June.

I’ll follow up with a more detailed look at the official design drawings once they’re made available.

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  • Esther May 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I look forward to PBOT adding a safe and convenient way to get back to the bridge in the evening rush hour. Sharing the lane with car traffic – or worse, squeezing in between parked cars and slowly moving vehicles in a 3-ft wide space, as many people do – when going home is horrific and a frequent cause of acrimony between commuters in the evening. I find it humorous that the drawing depics a northbound biker on the sidealk….which I believe is technically illegal there?

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    • Reza May 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      That cross-section is showing the bridge ramp, where the sidewalk is the officially-sanctioned northbound bikeway,

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  • Boris May 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Big mistake to widen the non-bicycle lanes. Almost a guarantee to lead to rampant speeding during off-peak hours, particularly with a bridge approach. Could have been an opportunity to make the sidewalks better/wider, or shorten the crossing distance for peds by putting in a traffic island.

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  • Steve B May 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    This is welcome news, but curious why no treatment is provided for people riding bikes heading northbound. I’ve had some tense moments riding in that lane. At the very least, sharrows and ‘bikes may use full lane’ signage would be helpful.

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    • are May 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      i agree sharrows would be appropriate on northbound broadway betw. burnside and, well, the bridge and beyond (and actually, sharrows would get the job done southbound off the bridge, but that is another matter).

      but at the risk of forfeiting my vehicular cred, i am thinking a person makes a choice to join broadway northbound earlier than glisan from fourth or sixth, or earlier than hoyt from eighth or tenth,

      and having made that choice, you can just assert the lane and don’t worry about the motorists, or you can choose what somebody on one of these threads called “back roads.”

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  • Alexis May 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    But part of that section (down to Hoyt) does include a northbound bike lane, before it rises up to join the path. I assume that part is staying the same?

    Man, I hate vague cross sections in plans.

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  • Philip May 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Most north bound cyclists would jump on the sidewalk/bridge ramp just past the Amtrack station entrance midblock between Hoyt and Lovejoy

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  • Reza May 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    When I testified in front of City Council last year during the adoption of the Pearl District Access and Circulation Plan, I specifically mentioned how the lack of any improvements for biking on Broadway northbound was a glaring oversight and should be corrected immediately.

    It saddens me that nobody at the City felt that accommodating northbound bicycle traffic was needed as part of this project. It absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, is needed and should have happened several years ago.

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  • Craig Harlow May 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    @Esther, I think that cross-section’s depiction of the shared side path is meant to represent northbound use north of Irving, where the bike lane actually mounts the sidewalk with a ramp and ceased to be striped.

    – Craig “just another” Harlow

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  • Ian C. May 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I love it when you can make good things happen with less than what the average person makes in a year. There are so many insanely expensive half-solutions to our problems.

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  • spare_wheel May 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    i want to know when pbot going to stop striping those annoying hatch marks in the fast bike lane? does anyone even know what they mean anyways?

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    • Alexis May 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      I can’t decide if you’re being sarcastic or serious (since you’re a regular commenter), but let’s go with “it might be helpful to others either way”…it’s a buffer not a lane, you aren’t meant to use it to ride in on an ongoing basis.

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      • spare_wheel May 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm

        “you aren’t meant to use it to ride in on an ongoing basis”

        so the buffer lane is like ne alberta or se hawthorne. thanks for clarifying, alexis!!
        i totally ♥ buffered bike lanes. but i swear to goddess if they install those
        [expletives removed by publisher] stubby pylons like on multnomah i will t.p. gellers office in the portland building.

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        • q`Tzal May 6, 2013 at 9:06 pm

          TP the pylons/bollards: if you do it right it will look like a fence but be incapable of causing injury.

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  • BURR May 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Are they going to repave it, too?

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  • Jim Lee May 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Nice link to the Pearl Plan.

    I have got to page 13, where it says that bike lanes were removed from Lovejoy to support the Central Loop streetcar project. Also they will change some obscure classification of Lovejoy to something else obscure, and extend the one-way from 13th to 14th.

    None of this responds to the real dangers the streetcar on Lovejoy presents to cyclists, well documented here over one year ago. In fact, it makes matters worse.

    In short, this is all eyewash. Portland Streetcar, Inc., gets whatever it pleases from the City and the rest of us are of no concern.

    Everyone should read this document.

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  • Adam May 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    My scariest area biking this stretch is the intersection of NW Broadway and Couch. It’s improved a little since they put the four-way stop in, but it’s still dicey. I hope a wider bike lane here in each direction will make drivers more aware there are a lot of bicyclists riding this stretch. This is a really, welcome change.

    However, I’m going to get tangential here, and say… I REALLY wish this headline had read “SOUTHWEST Broadway to get 10 Foot Buffered Bikelanes”. That’s where they are really needed! Perhaps this project will serve as some impetus.

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  • Mindful Cyclist May 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Even though this is no longer my commute downtown in the morning, it is still welcome news. It was always kind of fun to the the “lead dog” coming off the red light, but if I was stuck in the middle of the pack, it was not that fun. I think this will allow a lot more elbow room going down the hill.

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  • bjorn May 6, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    @boris, couldn’t agree more that increase in lane width will likely increase the 85th percential speed by more than 5 mph. While fewer collisions may occur the ones that do are going to cause more severe injuries and be more likely to kill a vulnerable roadway user. Why not widen the shared south sidewalk reducing user conflict between bikes and peds while maintaining the current motor vehicle lane width?

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  • mikeybikey May 7, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Q: when do we get to see the cross-sections/images that reflect the full scope of this project? I’m not familiar with the idea of the floating bicycle lane and the link to relevant project in SF shows it in the context of the Embarcadero. Comparing the Embarcadero to NW Broadway is like comparing apples and green garlic. My fear is that the sliver of buffered bicycle lane is window dressing for what will be degraded cycling conditions btw Glisan and Burnside.

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    • ScottB May 7, 2013 at 10:11 am

      There are no plans for a floating bike lane (a marked lane that gets covered by parking off peak). South of Glisan the parking is proposed to become pro-time (no parking in the AM commute) so cyclists can use the parking lane next to the bike lane, but no markings are planned at this time.

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  • JT May 7, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Happy to see this. I ride this stretch in the mornings taking Broadway North, then turning right on to NW Hoyt. I’ve always been nervous coming down the ramp with bumpy pavement, trying to brake, and signaling my turn. All the while there are bikes behind me going at a pretty good clip, some passing me on my left between me and a large truck. Long way of saying I think of this area as a bad accident waiting to happen. Sure I’d like to see more improvements, but really happy to see this one moving forward.

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  • wsbob May 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Reducing main travel lanes from 4 to 3, increasing their width a foot and a half, adding with to the bike lanes with the addition of a 3′ buffer, all sound like good improvements, especially for the money.

    Wider sidewalks rather than widening main travel lanes would have been nice, but no doubt, that would have been a lot more money. Maybe that’s something to do sometime in the future.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    There is no need to spend money to widen the sidewalk. Not that many pedestrians use the Broadway bridge – when I ride over the bridge during commute hours, typically I only encounter a handful of walkers. Anway, the bike/ped path on the bridge itself can’t be widened and that is the bottleneck, when there is one. Money is limited, spend it somewhere else.

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  • Hart Noecker May 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Taking out a lane for cars to widen the bike lane is good, but why is PBOT also widening the motor vehicle lanes when they know this will cause cars and trucks to only drive faster? The BTA should have been pushing for a buffered bike lane on both sides. This ‘we must always begin from a place of compromise’ isn’t getting results.

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  • Mike May 7, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    Any news on the idea of replacing that 2-lane 4-way stop with a signal? I know it’d be expensive, but it’s an obvious part of the problem/solution.

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  • Maria May 8, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I rode over the Broadway bridge for the first time yesterday (I’m new to Portland) and was planning on avoiding doing it again any time soon so I’m really glad to see that something, anything, is being done to make this a safer and more pleasant experience for people on bikes.

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  • zefwagner May 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I actually think it’s a good idea to widen the car lanes to 11 feet, because 9.5 feet is pretty substandard when you have buses using the street. Buses need at least 10 feet, and 11 feet is preferred because mirror to mirror is about 10.5 feet. In all our bike enthusiasm, we should remember that large vehicles also use this road and without enough space, crashes will occur.

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  • David May 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Does anyone know if there’s any plan to improve cycling facilities on Broadway in that same area but traveling the opposite direction (leaving downtown to get onto the bridge)?

    There isn’t even a bike lane at all in that area, and it gets dicey during rush hour with cars passing super close before the bike lane starts after the Hoyt intersection.

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