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Wider bike lanes coming to North Willamette Blvd

Posted by on July 16th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

N Willamette Blvd bike lanes-1

One more foot of space is coming in the few weeks.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

By the end of this month, people will get a little bit more room when riding on Willamette Boulevard in north Portland.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to widen the bike lanes in each direction between Portsmouth and Woolsey. According to PBOT spokesperson Diane Dulken, the new lanes will be six feet wide with an additional buffer at the corners and curves. To make space for the wider bike lanes the city will narrow the existing standard lanes from 11 feet down to 10 feet.

As we reported last week, the city is doing a re-paving project on Willamette that triggered the consideration of these lane changes. Dulken says PBOT is, “Making adjustments to make it more comfortable to people that are biking.”

In addition to bike lane widening, University of Portland will make “improvements” to a gap in the bike lane in front of their main entrance. “The combination of actions that UP is taking and we are taking,” Dulken shared with us via email today, “will improve the conditions for biking along this important roadway.”

PBOT considered more substantial bikeway improvements on Willamette back in 2011, but eventually shelved those plans. Asked about that project today, Dulken said it would have covered a different section of the street (south of this month’s project from Woolsey to Rosa Parks Way) and PBOT, “Didn’t have the community support to implement the proposed improvements at that time.”

The current project is currently underway and Dulken says the new pavement and lane re-striping should be completed by end of July.

In other bikeway news, PBOT has re-applied the green markings to the bike lane on SW Stark downtown:


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  • MaxD July 16, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    better than nothing? an extra foot for less than a mile is nice, but there are still super skinny stretches of bike lanes on either side of this, no bike lanes farther north, a 35 MPH speed limit that is unenforced, and bike trail to Swan Island that ends in a giant staircase! Willamette Blvd is primarily used as a speedy cut-through for motorists avoiding Lombard. I realize PBOT is playing poor until the Street Fee is passed, but lowering the speed limit is not expensive. Removing parking is not expensive. I realize that this sounds whiny, but this a piece of road that could/should be really valuable to me and my family, but is being preserved in a very unsafe/uncomfortable condition to convenience motorists and I resent it. The painted lines do not keep cars out of the bikes lanes on Willamette now, and I doubt they will at the end of July. PBOT doesn’t need more money, they just need to commit to safety.

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    • Spiffy July 16, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      welcome to Vision Nil…

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  • Doug Rosser July 16, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I ride Willamette twice a day almost every day. The sketchiest parts aren’t along the area they are repaving (with the beautiful views), but west of the U of P and Portsmouth. All-in-all, it’s not a bad ride, but the automobile traffic is going way too fast for all but very confident cyclists. I cannot fathom why a residential street needs a 35 MPH speed limit. I cannot fathom why that speed limit isn’t ever enforced, as the Portland Police Traffic Division is housed at the north end of the St Johns Bridge.

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    • paikiala July 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Have you requested enforcement, 823-SAFE?

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  • Adam July 16, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Or… they could have just removed the on-street parking from this stretch of roadway, and installed cycletracks both directions!

    There are rarely any vehicles parked in the parking lane on Willamette Blvd. The houses that front the street all have long private driveways, and there are zero businesses on this portion of street that require on-street auto parking.

    When I bike on Willamette, I pass maybe a dozen cars parked on the street max, if that, over a mile-plus long stretch. And all I think when I see the mile of empty parking strips is, what a monumental waste of public space.

    But… that’s PBOT for you. Why shoot for the moon, when ya can shoot for… the… ground?

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    • paikiala July 17, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Can you provide the math you used to figure out how cycle tracks fit there, not to mention the cost?

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      • Adam July 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm

        The math is – one standard northbound existing bikelane + one standard southbound existing bikelane + one currently underutilized parking strip = enough space for a standard cycletrack each direction.

        The cost is paint striping, and plastic bollards. Astronomical!

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  • lccnw July 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    “In other bikeway news, PBOT has re-applied the green markings to the bike lane on SW Stark downtown”

    I’ve come to figure that all the green paint in the world won’t stop people from obtusely driving down the bike lanes on SW Oak and Stark.

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    • spare_wheel July 17, 2014 at 8:08 am

      in my experience they are much better respected than they were without green paint. the only problem is that they don’t connect well to other infrastructure.

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    • paikiala July 17, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Have you requested enforcement, 823-SAFE?

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  • Ted Buehler July 17, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Thanks, PBOT.

    This is a good example of low hanging fruit ripe for picking. And
    the city is still full of low-hanging fruit like this. Relatively few oversize car travel lanes have been trimmed down to 10′ to slow car traffic and expand bike infrastructure.

    It might not seem like much in writing, but the extra foot for bikes will double the “wiggle room” available on the path, and dropping the extra foot will likely slow down average car traffic by a couple mph.

    Both contribute to making bicycling safer and more comfortable for the masses.

    Ted Buehler

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    • MaxD July 17, 2014 at 10:58 am

      I sincerely appreciate your optimism, and I recognize that you are extremely well-educated in bike transportation issues, so I ask you honestly (not sarcastically) why are you thanking PBOT? In what way is this anything more than a hollow gesture? Without a speed limit reduction, without enforcement of distracted driving, without any physical separation and without extending the striping to the rest of Willamette and creating some bike infrastructure further north where the bike lane simply disappears, what good is 0.8 miles of an extra foot of paint? Cars routinely cut across the painted lines for the bike lanes now because they are driving too fast, what actual good is this small, token segment going to do? I don’t want to feel so bitter about this, so I am genuinely interested in a response!

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      • grimm July 17, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        I think you can find some fancy cheese to go with all that whine at New Seasons. 😉

        Willamette isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what you get in most cities. We can beat the drum of what would be great in a perfect world, but someone has gotta pay for it (not to mention convince the mostly driving public it’s valuable). I’m thankful PBOT evaluates stretches they are repaving to better them, as we get a little for no additional cost. Better than nothing.

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  • Spiffy July 17, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I’m going to be lazy and repost my comment from the previous story…

    “PBOT staff asked homeowners”

    I really wish they’d quit asking what people want and start doing what is right…

    you got 100 years of free parking, now the city needs the room, deal with it…

    Google satellite view shows 15 cars along the entire arc of Willamette… less than 1 per block… all of them have off-street parking available…

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  • scott July 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Wider bike lanes coming to North Willamette Blvd – Cars now forced to enter more of the bike lane whilst speeding through curves.

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    • oliver July 17, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Yep. I think about this all the time. If you can’t keep it between the lines, your car is too big, too tall, the suspension too soft or you’re driving too fast for conditions (usually a combination of all these things)

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  • Marty July 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I ride twice a day on Willamette. They need to widen the path from Woolsey to Rosa Parks too. Every morning on my way towards downtown I feel like someone’s car mirror is going to clip me.

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    • paikiala July 18, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Maybe on the next paving cycle?

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  • oliver July 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

    “In other bikeway news, PBOT has re-applied the green markings to the bike lane on SW Stark downtown:”

    I was thinking (seriously) only yesterday that the green paint on Oak ought to be replaced.

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    • spare_wheel July 17, 2014 at 10:26 am

      we really need to invest in colored asphalt. just like led street lights the long-term cost has got to be advantageous.

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  • paikiala July 17, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Story corrections: The curve west of Olin will have buffered 7-foot bike lanes. The curve speed warning signs will be added/relocated closer to the curve. The only buffer away from the curve will be westbound mid-block west of Fiske to Haven, no ‘buffers at corners’.

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  • Mick O July 17, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I am far from a hardcore cyclist. I’m dumpy and slow and amateurish, with a beater bike that I love. Yet, I’ve never felt anything but safe taking Willamette from St Johns to Ainsworth or Rosa Parks. It’s one route I’m never worried about as is. So, I’m happy for the improvements. Very happy. But the comments here make it seem like a path through Beirut. Of course I respect other people’s experiences, and I’m certain I’m just fantastically lucky. It’s just interesting for me to see on the rare time that BP talks about a route I use often that the BP consensus is so different from my own experience. (Yes, I’d still wish it was Parkways all the time) It makes me what else I’m missing.

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    • takeaspin22 July 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      I agree. As it is right now, Willamette is one of my favorite bike routes in Portland. I ride it frequently and have never had any close calls. The extra space in the bike lanes will make it even better.

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    • spare_wheel July 17, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      there is a vocal minority that likes to pretend that the only reason the “interested but concerned” do not cycle is due to horrifically *dangerous* “mere paint on the road”. this vocal minority also overlaps with those who believe that the only good infrastructure is a “cycle track”.

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  • Justin Gast July 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Being as I ride both streets everyday, all I can say is “YIPPEE!” The green on W Stark was so faded in areas that cars were treating portions of Stark as just another vehicle lane.

    Now, if they’d just repave and smooth out SW Stark. It sucks the only dedicated W to E bike lane through that part of downtown is also one of THE worst streets in downtown.

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  • Justin Gast July 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I ride twice a day on Willamette. They need to widen the path from Woolsey to Rosa Parks too. Every morning on my way towards downtown I feel like someone’s car mirror is going to clip me.
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    Totally agree with you. And, smooth out the curve going E to W where Rosa Parks becomes Willamette. There are many times where cars swing into the bike lane coming around that corner, and vice versa with bikes swinging into the vehicle lane.

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  • Scott Mizee August 2, 2014 at 5:30 am

    When we took 150 people down Willamette on bikes yesterday for the 10th Annual Policy Maker’s ride it was noticeably different! That extra foot allowed us to comfortably ride two abreast without impeding on the automobile traffic lane.

    It is not a physically separated facility yet, but it IS a baby step in the right direction. Thank you PBOT!

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  • stace August 4, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I completely agree with Scott. What an improvement! And the westbound bike lane right near the UofP crossing is so much better. A few parking spaces removed and now the lane is continuos through N Haven st.

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