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New buffered bike lanes for Boones Ferry Road

Posted by on June 16th, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Brand new buffered bike lane on SW Boones Ferry Road installed by Washington County.
(Photo: Robin Straughan)

Reader Robin Straughan sent in the news that Washington County has added buffered bike lanes and a sidewalk to a one-mile stretch of SW Boones Ferry Road between Tualatin and Wilsonville (map).

The $10 million project (paid for through a combo of local and state funds) widened and repaved the roadway in addition to improving bicycling and walking access.

Here’s more from Robin:

“This is a major bike commute route as well as north-south thoroughfare for anyone riding in the area. It used to be extremely treacherous due to a non-existent bike lane, no shoulder, fast cars, and terrible pavement. This project has made the road much better for all users. As a 45 MPH semi-rural road between the two cities, it feels much safer with the improvements. This year-long project added a real bike lane to a stretch of Boones Ferry Rd that had no bike infrastructure and connects it to other segments that already had bike lanes or ride-able shoulders.

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Here’s a before photo to give you a sense of what it used to be like:

(Photo: Washington County)

And another angle from Robin:

(Photo: Robin Straughan)

Buffered bike lanes are relatively rare in Washington County. The first ones were installed back in September 2011.

Check out the official project page for more info.

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Adron @ Transit Sleuth
Guest

Even though I love seeing this, I’m still not sure why we can’t get real cycle tracks on roads like this if we’re adding sidewalks and all that jazz. Just painting on stripes really does only so much to encourage cycling. As has been pointed out, even Amsterdam saw a huge percentage difference with bike lane style paint vs. actually have cycle tracks.

This is great, but by no means a way to achieve Amsterdam or Copenhagen level greatness. So kudos for this much progress, but I’m really looking forward to some legitimate REAL progress in making this biking revolution permanent.

…cycle track permanence will see it’s own percentage increases.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

given funding constraints and a truly massive connectivity deficit i prefer miles of buffered bike lane to another block or two of cycle track built on the “cheap”.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

a bike lane buffered by a stripe is just a normal bike lane… all bike lanes are buffered by a white stripe…

this does nothing to keep motor vehicles out of the bike lane… but it further enforces that bikes should be in the gutter…

but at least it has a bike lane, sidewalks, and center turn lane now…

m
Guest
m

This is WORSE than the status-quo because it gives those in charge the right to say: “look, we did something.” No amount of white paint is going to change the laws of physics. We need actual separated bike lanes. What is so disappointing about this is that in the “before” picture, there is clearly room to build a buffered bike lane.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

fantastic! looks great!

m
Guest
m

“This IS a buffered bike lane. You must mean separated bike lane.”

You are correct, I meant separated bike lane not buffered lane. And by “worse” I am focusing on on a goal of getting more people out of their cars and onto their bikes. In my opinion, stuff like this does close to nothing for that cause with regard to the “interested but concerned” crowd. With regard to physics, I meant the simple point that close interaction between cars and bike should be avoided as much as possible. Cars obviously weigh a lot more than bikes Without physical barriers, bikes will lose every time. No amount of paint is going to change that.

abomb
Guest
abomb

I live out here and I think this is great. It feels so much safer then before when there was nothing and you prayed every time a car passed that they wouldn’t hit you. Thank you Washington county.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

This is better than the non-buffered bike lanes, yes.

That said, we’d be able to get separated cycle tracks (and “separated sidewalks”, e.g. something other than the curb-tight sidewalk shown in one of the photos above) in all the places if the County weren’t constantly needing massive amounts of ROW for conversions from two lane roads to five+ lane roads. (Look at the increased number of planned expansions in the TSP draft and ask how much that costs. Also… how many places to turn are there in that last photo? WashCo uses ROW for center turn lanes even when it makes little sense.)

Evan
Guest
Evan

Washington County does a good thing and all these people respond with hate! Yes, a fully separated bikeway would be awesome. But where is the money? Is there even enough ROW to do it? Did any of the haters talk to WashCo about opportunities and constraints when they were budgeting and designing it? Probably not. What is the opportunity cost of a nice bikeway on this road? A whole bunch of other projects evaporate.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

I don’t see why a project manager would add an extra 2 feet of paving in each direction on a roadway project to buffer a bike lane if the goal is to deliver his/her project on time and under budget, while meeting design standards. Even IF the PM is a hardcore biker, a lot of tough questions will be asked about this design.

m
Guest
m

“the “physics” cycling is dangerous comment comes across as anti-cycling.”

100% wrong. I am a fair weather bike commuter who avoids busy roads as much as possible. No amount of paint is going to get me ride on busy roads with fast moving cars and trucks unless there is no alternative. Why? Because I understand the basic laws of physics. When I was 24 I didn’t care about that as much.

If the goal is to make riding experience better for existing riders, then I understand what projects like this are for. But if the goal is to get more people out of their cars and onto their bikes, then I think the best way to do this is to build more separated bike lanes. Buffered lanes will, IMO, do little for the latter.

Jason H
Guest
Jason H

Wa Co. is at least trying, with baby steps (and some mis-steps), but at least they are trying to improve bicycle infrastructure which is surprising given the different political culture towards it vs. the city. There is one dedicated bicycle track I know of, along Veteran’s Ave. from Brookwood to NE 28th near the fairplex, and it’s pretty well designed. The biggest frustration I’ve found is every time I use it I have to call out to wandering pedestrians even though they have their own parallel wide pedestrian path.

The buffered lanes on NW Evergreen past the airport put in when the widened it a couple years agao are a mixed bag though, they actually narrowed the riding space compared to the old non-buffered lanes, and on the north side of the road drainage grates narrow it even more. They also used very thick paint for the diagonal stripes which is uncomfortable to ride on if you need to move over to avoid debris or pass another rider. I wish as part of the widening they had accounted for space to put the buffering outside of the lane space, not intruding into it.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Didn’t create a protected cycletrack? Yes they did–it’s perfectly legal here to use the sidewalk and get just as much protection as pedestrians have.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’ve been riding this road for 7 years now, before the bike lane extensions and never felt ODOT would go for it, but it happened 🙂 before this section was dark and wild ride with cars.. kinda miss that feeling no! cars go super fast thru this section now * more room yay *careful the striping is super slick and will cause you to hide side if on it during wet. avoid the strip mall with gas staion nd Carls JR is madness before I5. ohh once you make it out alive of twallytin and get on the creek path its like a breath of fresh air…. yes bike/ped trail bit safer than some of the roads leading out from the burbs trust me!

Joe
Guest
Joe

Can you tell I ride from Wilsonville to Portland? .. lol yes one day I have a dream of buffered lanes without cars right hooks and ramming up from behind.. its crazy but we can do it 🙂 BETTER SOONER tho-

m
Guest
m

With regard to the Williams bike lane, I am one of those very people. But I also get off that road at the first available reasonable opportunity for the reasons so eloquently described by Opus the Poet above. The main reason why it is so successful has more to do with there no better alternatives than anything else IMO.

The holy grail for me would be the Sullivan’s Gulch trail. I could avoid Williams and the Rose Quarter forever.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

As someone who lives, works, drives and rides in this part of Washington County— THANK YOU for finally figuring out how to start CONNECTING TUALATIN AND WILSONVILLE.

Currently, there is no good, safe way to ride from Tualatin to Wilsonville without risking your life on narrow, fast country roads. Even roads marked at 45 are driven upwards of 55 (or more). As someone intimately familiar with this area, and who ranks themselves in the “most of the time fearless” category of bike riders, I would NEVER EVER ride out here without a pack of at least 10 or more riders with me, or a follow-car to keep from getting run over.

As a driver out here, when I come upon a rider or group, I hang back with my four-way flashers on until I deem it safe to pass– I’m the follow-car, and you’re welcome because most drivers will attempt a squeeze past around a blind corner or crest, putting everyone in danger.

We need a MORE CONNECTED network for people to ride from one community to the next, and this one-mile stretch of bike lane is a very good start.

RJ
Guest
RJ

Boones Ferry Road from Norwood to Day (Metro RTP project 10732) is supposed to be a five-lane road, ultimately. Thus the wide roadway surface. The County doesn’t want to have to come back and rip up the sidewalk/drainage later when they’re ready to add motor vehicle lanes. But don’t quote me on that.

Ben Fleskes
Guest
Ben Fleskes

Kristen T hits it on the mark. This is a major improvement for people that need to get from Tualatin to Wilsonville. I bike SW Portland to Wilsonville daily. Boones Ferry is one of only two roads connecting roads south Tualatin to Wilsonville (The other is Graham’s Ferry which is even worse the what Boones Ferry was before). There are no other side roads, no other paths, or any other options.

With this improvement complete, there is now one decent route to get from downtown Tualatin to Wilsonville. Thank you. And while it may not seem like much, the extra striping makes a big difference. Hopefully with this improvement in place and the nicer weather I’ll see a few more bikers on my commute.

Brent Shultz
Guest
Brent Shultz

Wow, cranky-ass people… I live in Portland, but work in Wilsonville. Is this platinum level whatever? No. It’s it something that makes things better for people in general? Absolutely. TL;DR version: don’t be an absolutist and accept even the small victories.

Joe
Guest
Joe

45mph roads seem to be part of the problem just saying.. What we are missing in the comments is the disconnect once you ride out of a buffer spot say like that major intersection boones ferry/Tualatin valley road.
*call it hour glass road design*

Joe
Guest
Joe

Brent Shultz
Wow, cranky-ass people… I live in Portland, but work in Wilsonville. Is this platinum level whatever? No. It’s it something that makes things better for people in general? Absolutely. TL;DR version: don’t be an absolutist and accept even the small victories.
Recommended 3

good point man, but if you see that its not 100% safe still with ppl driving habits it can feel like a pipe dream.. yes driving habits in areas lack!
what I’m trying to say is just because your in a bike lane you are not safe from distracted driving and speeding…

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

This is an amazing, appreciated, huge improvement over the shoulder-less freeway this used to be. There may as well have been a Berlin wall between Tualatin and Wilsonville. Washington County should get nothing but thanks. Anyone who has ever ridden this road before will understand this.

If you insist on being unhappy until every bike lane is protected by a Jersey barrier, prepare yourself for a lifetime of disappointment.

Joe
Guest
Joe

not the point Scott just we focus way to much ENERGY with regards to auto infra!

Joe
Guest
Joe

agree 100% 🙂 I was part of the bike ped group here and we had something to do with this like 5 years ago in city hall in Wilsonville. * they said it was tired up in ODOT hands… I’m happy to ride it and smile every pedal stoke.
next is the french bridge crossing I-5 replacing boones bridge for bikes. yay