Site icon BikePortland

New idea for Foster Road: A center median bike lane

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Detail of a new concept for
SE Foster Road.

The City of Portland is currently trying to decide how to re-design the failing SE Foster Road. As it exists today, the street is a classic auto-centric thoroughfare with the crash rates and unwelcoming atmosphere to match. Late last year there were dreams of making a major bikeway on the street; but as our Michael Andersen recently reported, it appears the City has scaled back their ambitions to nothing more than an old-fashioned bike lane.

At issue is how to manage the space on the street in a way that meets the many goals the project’s stakeholder committee has set for itself. Those goals include, “a safe corridor for motor vehicle travel with smooth, consistent traffic movement” and “adequate on-street parking” as well as, “a safe attractive, and comfortable cycling environment.”

While neighborhood activists, advocates and city staff are still hashing out a final design (likely to be chosen in July), a new concept has emerged: A cycle track in the middle of the street, a.k.a. a center median bike lane.

I first heard about this idea from a frequent commenter on the site named “ScottB”. In his comment on a story about the Foster Road project back in November he wrote,

“How about creating a median with bike lanes and trees and only have auto crossings at the major intersections, or a set spacing. 60 feet permits two 8 ft parking lanes, two 12 ft travel lanes (generous) and leaves 20 feet in the middle to work with. So two 6 ft bike lanes and two 4 ft (std) planting strips for trees. Peds stay on the sidewalks outside the curb line. Consider the elimination of right hooks.”

Then ScottB forwarded me the graphic below showing the center median cycle track in action.

A mock-up of a center-median cycle track on SE Foster Road.

This is an interesting concept that has plenty of precedent around the country. The two biggest examples that come to mind are the bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue…

And the center-running cycle track on Sands Avenue in New York City…

Also in New York City is the new Allen Street bikeway…

And Queens Plaza North…

Whether or not this idea becomes officially part of the mix of options for SE Foster Road remains to be seen; but I hope we don’t end up settling for just another bike lane.

What do you think?

— Read more about this project in our archives and on the City’s official project page.