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County, City team up for expanded biking and walking lanes on Hawthorne

Posted by on October 8th, 2013 at 5:45 pm

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-10

A lane re-organization on SE Hawthorne has swapped one standard lane for an expanded bike lane and a walking lane.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County unveiled new and expanded bike lane on the Hawthorne Bridge viaduct over the weekend. Working in a partnership with the City of Portland, the County (who manages the bridge) gave permission to PBOT crews to re-stripe two sections of eastbound SE Hawthorne Blvd between SE Grand and the Willamette River.

According to to PBOT, the new striping was done to improve conditions for both bicycling and walking on the popular thoroughfare.

The first changes are seen east of the TriMet bus stop about half way between the end of the bridge path and the intersection with SE Grand Ave. Instead of a wide buffer zone and a standard-width bike lane, PBOT and the County decided to create two bike lanes side-by-side. PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said they decided to increase the bicycling space because people were passing each other in the buffer zone…

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-1

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-2

If you look closely, you can just make out the old (and very wide) buffer zone striping and curbside bike lane.

Further east PBOT has also added new striping to help with the traffic interactions where an off-ramp heads down to SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. In addition to the changes in the bike lane, PBOT has also added several new features for people walking eastbound on the viaduct. There’s a new zebra crossing across the off-ramp and then an entire lane for walking as Hawthorne approaches SE Grand…

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-3

The off-ramp where people in cars turn right across the bike lane. (Note the new crosswalk in the background.)

On the section just before the SE Grand intersection, PBOT has re-configured the traffic lanes so that instead of a bike-only lane and three standard lanes, there is now only two standard lanes, a much wider (and buffered) bike-only lane, and a walking lane. People walking eastbound in this location were previously forced up onto a very narrow sidewalk next to a guardrail. Sources at PBOT say a full sidewalk will eventually be constructed.

Here’s how the cross-section looked before…

The old configuration was dominated by standard lanes. (Note the very narrow sidewalk.)

And here’s how it looks now:

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-10

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-4

The start of the expanded bike lane and walking lane.
New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-5

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-6

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-7

This man is using the new walking lane. He was thrilled about it!
New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-9

As I observed this new configuration, I wondered about a few things. Why not add some plastic bollards, jersey barriers, or other forms of physical separation in the buffer zone? Clearly — as seen below — some people won’t heed just paint…

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-8

Note the car in the bicycle only lane.

And when will PBOT take the painfully obvious next step of continuing this lane alignment east of Grand? Here’s how it looks now…

New bike lane on Hawthorne Bridge viaduct-11

PBOT’s Dulken said these recent changes are simply part of the agency’s efforts to keep up with “the ever increasing bicycle traffic.” “As we all know,” she said, “the Hawthorne Bridge is a bicycle commuter through-way so we’re accommodating that. It’s very important for people walking too, so that [walking] section is a big improvement.”

So far, our readers agree. Reaction on Twitter has been very positive. What do you think of the changes?

UPDATE 10/11 at 9:00 AM: Several commenters have asked why the plastic bollards were removed. The County says they were taken down during the re-striping and they are being re-installed today.

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

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Alex Reed
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Alex Reed

This is super awesome! The walking area is long overdue and much appreciated as is the buffer for bikes.

It’s pretty embarassing for the City just how bad the connections to/from the Hawthorne are. At this point, I’d say they’re as stressful as the bridge itself or more so.

BURR
Guest
BURR

I wondered what they were up to there…

Did they do anything to make the crossing of the southbound MLK exit any safer?

Also, I wish they would find another way besides grinding to remove the old paint/thermoplastic markings, the grinding leaves behind some fairly rough pavement and a low area for water to pond in during the rainy months.

Champs
Guest
Champs

The walking space is well deserved, but something tells me that added bandwidth on the viaduct isn’t going to improve afternoon rush hour on the bridge itself.

Never mind the yahoos that roam the bridge at night. After 9, it’s always a gauntlet.

Peter
Guest
Peter

Now that the cones are gone my guess is that we’ll have more cars driving in the bike lanes. Is there any reason why they were removed?

Hart Noecker
Guest

This a great improvement, but if it’s mean to be permanent, why not add cement barriers and paint them up like they do in NYC? The space is wide enough for a street sweeper to fit.

http://www.thelmagazine.com/images/blogimages/2011/04/20/1303313652-flushingbb-03.jpg

RJ
Guest
RJ

I think the County has been game for this restriping for awhile now (reducing the eastbound approach from three motorized lanes to two), but it took awhile for the PBOT traffic folks to get comfortable with it. I’d be interested in knowing what it took to get over the hump politically and whether there are any lessons learned that are transferable to other restriping ideas around the city. Great to see regional partners working together to make good things happen, either way.

Peter W
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Peter W

Really fantastic news. Nice to see Portland and Multnomah County making good things happen quickly.

Doug Klotz
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Doug Klotz

Biking on Multnomah tonight, I realized the city needs to buy a narrower street sweeper for these cycle tracks. Perhaps as small as the one I saw in London years ago, which was about 8′ long and 4′ wide, but only about 3′ high, with the driver sitting at the back. It was very manuverable, too. They used it on the sidewalks as well as the street.

Adam
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Adam

I love the ped improvements! I wonder how many pedestrians will use it though? It looks like a bike lane, honestly. I think better ground markings indicating it is a ped space would go a long way. I think a lot of bikes are going to be still in the ped lane for a while. After all, it still looks like a bike lane.

gutterbunnybikes
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gutterbunnybikes

Straight up to Tabor please…..

Scott
Guest

This is a great improvement!

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

I still think the auto off-ramp to MLK is poorly designed. The current and former design communicates to drivers that people on bikes are crossing “their” lane when oriented perpendicular to the auto direction. If the bike/ped lanes simply went straight, rather than the funky kink, it communicates that autos are crossing a through-lane of traffic, rather than the other way around.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Looks good.

Kirk
Guest

Looks great! Thank you very much PBOT and Multnomah County for providing adequate space for all users 🙂

Let’s see more like it, yeah? 😉

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

Not good for those of us who need to turn left (north). I’ve always found it safer to use the buffer lane &merge into the left lane before the signal at Grand. Cars are not accomodating even if signaling etc to merging across 3 lanes to go north @ 6th or 7th. They’ll be less so now that the see bicycles have 2 lanes.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

They should allow busses in the new, wide lane. “Bus/Bike Only”. We need to improve public transit and cycling in the city, and they should use opportunities like this to improve bus speeds. This lane would allow busses to bypass backed up cars at the signal. They could even extend the bus-only lane all the way to 12th.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

It needs bollards or other barriers. The lanes are already configured – adding the barrier is the easy part.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Much better – Actually good, however I continue to be anxious at the crossing of the ramp down to McGloughlin. My fear is that a cyclists will get creamed there by an impatient motorist.

riding east is still pretty nerve wracking with heavy traffic and right hook potentials at every intersection and at Burgerville and the liquor store.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I love it. Pedestrians definitely needed more room there, it was not ideal for peds or bikes trying to pass them with traffic on your left.

At some point I feel like the bike/ped crossing at the onramp to 99 is going to come to a boiling point though. I see huge lines of cars there, mostly patiently waiting for bikes to go by, which is awesome. But I know many of them are stewing. Don’t know what the answer is, but I’m surprised something bad hasn’t happened there yet. I’ve seen impatient drivers pass everyone on the right and blow through that crosswalk before. Maybe a fast cycle traffic light or something? Tie the light cycle to the light below the ramp at Clay perhaps. I don’t know what, but eventually something.

Spiffy
Guest

hope it doesn’t take long to get the sidewalk put in, I’ll miss not having a curb to put my foot on while waiting at the light…

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

now there can be a race crit at the light to queue up position in the bike lane going in this direction, too. although, the uphill on the westbound ramp provides some natural separation. eastbound direction just has the pavement waves crossing all the lanes on Grand…. As was pointed out above, the only thing missing from the crit in the eastbound direction are buses.

Carl (BTA)
Guest
Carl (BTA)

“And when will PBOT take the painfully obvious next step of continuing this lane alignment east of Grand?” A few months ago, I saw some drawings with a big cycletrack and…wait for it…BUS ISLANDS. Not sure what the status of that is.

N
Guest
N

I’m delighted at the new lane configurations, but I wish they’d put the plastic bollards back. I really liked having them as a very obvious marking between the bike space and the car space. In the dark, in the rain, it’s very hard for drivers to see painted lane markers. Concrete planters would also be just fine with me. They can disappear after the exit crosses the bike/walk lanes – the bollards weren’t there before and they could easily interfere with left-merging traffic out of the bike lane.

It would be nice to see them build up the whole walking lane to have a standard curb. I was completely oblivious the first time I rode the new configuration – it just looked like a continuation of the double bike lane.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

With this work … did the City or County grind or resurface the roadway section where the bike traffic crosses the northbound traffic lanes on Grand? All the wheel rutting makes it very dangerous / uncomfortable when biking across at even less than posted speed – the bike pitches up and down.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said they decided to increase the bicycling space because people were passing each other in the buffer zone…”

The best type of infrastructure caters to both year-round mashers and the more cautious.

Another example of this more inclusive approach is the design of the new Sellwood bridge. A grade-separated lane AND an in-grade lane:

http://www.sellwoodbridge.org/files/renderings/belvedere–bench-plan-view.jpg

Ted Buehler
Guest

I’m delighted to see a the use of the “bike passing lane” here on the eastbound viaduct.

If you look at Appendix D of the Portland Bicycle Master Plan for 2030, it lists two types of wide bike lane treatments — bicycle passing lanes, and buffered bike lanes.
http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/334689
(pages “2 of 41” and “3 of 41”)

The city has put in a lot of buffered bike lanes since 2010, when this was published, but this is the first additional bike passing lane. Previously, the only bike passing lane in the city was on the uphill section of Madison getting on to the westbound viaduct.

Many of the places that have had buffered bike lanes are clearly better candidates for bicycle passing lanes, because of this high number of bicyclists, high discrepancy in preferred operating speeds between bicyclists, and uphill grades.

For instance, climbing the hill on Wheeler/Williams from the Rose Quarter there’s a buffered bike lane, but fast bicyclists use the buffer all the time to pass slower bicyclists. And they pass closer than is safe. Bicycles, especially on an upgrade, require 5′ of width in the roadway to ensure that if you wobble a bit you don’t collide with the curb or infringe on the lane to the left, and the hill there has only 7 or 8′ of total width — 6′ for the bike lane, 2′ for the buffer. And the passing behavior puts cyclists at an unnecessary safety risk.

The bike passing lane, with each lane a full 5′ in width, the width dictated by the AASHTO Bicycle Handbook and the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, and many other plans around the country, should be the engineering standard used in areas where there is a lot of demand for bicyclists to have space to overtake one another.

Thanks, PBOT, for giving us a piece of this infrastructure, hope to see more of it pop up around town, and around the country.

Ted Buehler

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

PBOT could build elevated bike routes to completely isolate riders from drivers, but riders still need to be competent. Just this morning, west bound at the Grand/Hawthorne stoplight I was lined up with the cycling rush our crowd and a guy in front of me was making out with his girlfriend/wife. The light changed, he couldn’t get his feet on the pedals and almost fell over. Jeeze get a room or save it for later.

Pay attention people