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New bike lane on SW Salmon improves bike access to Naito Parkway

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

New striping gives bike riders their own lane.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Getting to Naito Parkway and Waterfront Park from downtown Portland just got easier thanks to relatively small — yet significant — changes to two blocks of SW Salmon Street.

Looking west on Salmon as you approach Naito Parkway.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

With a major project at the World Trade Center that included a repaving of Salmon between SW 1st and Naito, the Bureau of Transportation jumped on the opportunity to re-stripe the road in a way that improves bicycling access. Instead of three standard lanes between 2nd and Naito, PBOT has striped the road for two standard lanes between 2nd and 1st, and added a bike-only lane between 1st and Naito. They’ve also added sharrows in the right-turn only lane on both blocks and some green caution paint to mark the beginning of the bike lane.

Here’s a rough diagram from PBOT that shows the configuration before and after:

And an aerial photo taken from a reader who works in an adjacent building:

It might not look like that big of a deal, but from a bicycling perspective this is a very welcome change. Salmon just west of Naito was always a bit stressful. The shared, center lane that used to be there (and that allowed users to turn either left or right at Naito) — confused me more than once in the past as I tried to transition onto the Naito bike lane. With the new design, I have my own bicycling space and I know exactly what drivers will do in the lanes to either side of me.

According to PBOT data, there were 26 collisions/crashes at Naito and 1st, 15 of which were attributed to the dual center turn lane. Here’s more from PBOT about the goals and benefits of this project (taken from a project scoping document):

And it seems others are pleased with the new configuration as well. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve heard on Twitter:

What’s also good news about this is that it cost PBOT just $2,000 (the World Trade Center paid for the paving), which goes to show just how inexpensively we can retrofit existing streets with higher-quality bike access.

PBOT has been on a roll lately with taking advantage of paving projects to update lane markings and configurations. Other projects where we’ve seen bicycle access improvements along with repaving projects include the new buffered bike lanes on NW Everett and the wider bike lanes (and other changes) on N Willamette Blvd.

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