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‘Greater Nike area’ street upgrades include 1.5 miles of protected bike lanes

Posted by on January 6th, 2015 at 9:49 am

Two streets in northwest Beaverton would get 1.5-miles of protected bike lanes joined by a U.S.-style roundabout under a Washington County plan being presented next week.

The proposal for Southwest 170th Avenue and Merlo Road between Alexander Street and Jenkins Road represents one link in the county’s goal to flood the area with high-quality biking upgrades even as it adds traffic lanes and rebuilds sidewalks to accomodate the area’s anticipated growth.

“In the next five years we’ll be laying down some initial cycle tracks,” Washington County Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator Shelley Oylear said, using the technical term for protected bike lanes. “The greater Nike area is a great opportunity to build a network to show the usefulness of this — not just those isolated segments but to build out a network.”

The first detailed plans for 170th-Merlo will be discussed at an open house from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, January 15.

Here’s a possible cross-section of the rebuilt streets. They’re currently one general lane in each direction with curb-tight sidewalks and turn lanes in some places.

section 2-3

Though these are marked as bus-only lanes, they’d actually be general traffic lanes used by buses and other vehicles.

Because the sides of both streets would need to be largely rebuilt, the county might build the bike lanes with a grade separation from the street as well as planted areas between auto and bike traffic.

North of Merlo, 170th would get a six-foot-wide striped bike lane on the west side of the street and a buffered bike lane on the east side:

section 1

Oylear said these lanes will connect to both the proposed improvements further north, closer to the Nike campus, that we covered in November:

three bike lanes around nike labeled

Street segments marked in orange are under discussion for reconstruction.

…and to a theoretical Westside Trail connection across the Tualatin Valley Highway to the south:

westside trail plan

TriMet is also planning to add bus service to Merlo. And unlike on the narrower North Williams Avenue in Portland, where concerns about “floating” bus stops pushed the bike lane to the left side of a one-way street, the county is proposing a bike lane that runs behind the bus platforms, a common European design that’s now being used in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and elsewhere.

turning radius

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The other element that’s sure to get attention at next week’s open house is this roundabout proposed for the intersection of 170th (north-south) and Merlo (east-west):

roundabout

To cross this intersection, people biking and walking would both use the unsignalized crosswalks.

“There are some benefits but there are also some drawbacks,” Oylear said of the traffic circle design. “Cars are going to be at slow speeds, but you’re going to be relying on them to yield to you.”

If the county decides against this roundabout option in favor of a more familiar signalized one, the node of the intersection would be narrower but multiple turn lanes would widen the streets in all directions.

Another relevant issue is that widening the street is likely to destroy some trees that sit on non-park land between 170th and the property line of Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Oylear said she could imagine some residents might prefer to preserve trees by eliminating the buffer between auto and bike traffic, narrowing the street by a few feet.

There’s no firm construction schedule yet for any of the projects discussed in this post, though the county’s transportation property tax and federally-funded state grants for the 170th-Merlo project mean that money is likely to be less of an obstacle than design.

If built as planned, it’ll all add up to one of the first places the United States where a combination of off-street and on-street bike infrastructure create a well-connected all-ages bike transportation network — not just a trail-based recreational network — in a suburban environment.

“There’s a lot of times you’re building these protected facilities in isolation and their benefit is limited because they’re not very long,” Oylear said. “We’re really excited to see what the impact to people’s travel options are.”

— In other news, Washington County’s Urban Road Maintenance District Advisory Committee wants your feedback to help prioritize safety improvement project candidates. Visit the County website to see a list of projects, use an interactive map and use their online form to submit your comments. All comments received by February 13th will be considered by the committee.

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58 Comments
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    Brian E January 6, 2015 at 10:13 am

    In the 2/3 option- I’d rather see the sidewalk and bike surface at the same elevation, without a curb. More usable space and maybe easier to keep clean.

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    Lynne January 6, 2015 at 10:59 am

    I would support just about anything for SW 170th from Alexander north. Right now it is two lanes, no shoulder, and it is crumbling off into the ditch. But the bike lane/sidewalk both buffered by a planting strip would 1) keep road debris out of the bike lane, and 2) be more attractive to riders, especially parents who want to ride with their children.

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      q`Tzal January 6, 2015 at 11:58 am

      I’ll ride down Yeon Rd in the NW rail yard industrial district and on black ice WITHOUT studded tires but 170th between Alexander the Elmonica MAX Station is just too dangerous.
      It is a narrow sluiceway that drivers move through as if they are demonstrating the Bernoulli principle. It’s narrow and hazardous so naturally everyone just races through faster.

      Hopefully the presence of the elementary school at the corner of. Merlo & 170th will encourage the introduction of design elements to 170th that naturally slow speeds to school zone normal. Such traffic slowing design elements just happen to be the same as are used in the lanes leading up to a roundabout.

      While historically roundabout deployments have ignored bicycle and pedestrian safety this would be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how bike and pedestrian safe roundabouts have been perfected in Copenhagen.

      Wish I could be in town to go all wonky at this meeting; it’z my hood and a real protected bike way here would allow my wife to bike to work without worrying about cars.

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        paikiala January 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

        which modern roundbout deployments have ignored bike and pedestrian safety?

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          q`Tzal January 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm

          I said “historically” not current nor modern however, given the fear and consternation the last roundabouts came up on this site there would seem as if there are valid safety concerns for everyone not driving an automobile.

          Anything less than mandatory signage in the lead up to a roundabout warning automobile drivers that bicycle riders MUST USE the correct and full lane when in the roundabout assures collisions caused by intimidation and/or ignorance.
          Furthermore, given PBOT’s inability to keep bicycle riders from behaving badly on shared use paths like the Hawthorne Bridge, bicycle riders will present a hazard to pedestrians attempting to navigate a roundabout sidewalk path.

          Without some as yet unseen ways of slowing down bikes without causing their own hazard we can expect the current American roundabout design standard to be dicey Catch-22 for bicycle riders.

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            paikiala January 7, 2015 at 9:07 am

            What current US roundabout design aspects for cyclists are you referring to? The one in the graphic of this story is not current US design, it is from northern Europe and has different rules based on rural v. urban application.
            Current US modern roundabout design for cyclists provides two choices. It includes an on-street bike lane that ends in advance of the crosswalk. The more confident cyclist should merge with through traffic and circulate like a motorist. This is made easier by the low-speed operational environment of the modern roundabout, which should not exceed 20 mph (30 kph).
            The less confident cyclist is provided a ramp to exit the street and use a shared use path around the roundabout. Such paths are at least ten feet wide (4 m) and cyclist operate at low speeds, crossing at the pedestrian crossings. http://tinyurl.com/roundabouts-and-bikes Sometimes space constraints, as with other intersection types, limit ideal design.

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      wsbob January 7, 2015 at 12:26 am

      Attracting more people riding, and a wider range of them to 170th, should be the major objective of improvements made to this road. Because any way it’s shaken, the maximum capacity of the road for moving motor vehicles, is very limited, even if doubling its number of main lanes by two and adding a center turn lane. Encouraging and supporting use of bikes on this road has potential to help meet population travel objectives for the area, that motor vehicle use eventually may not.

      I think though, that whether bike lanes are planting area separated or not from the main lanes, they’re going to have debris winding up in them, which should be removed regularly for good use for biking. If the main lane separated bike lane, cycle track, MUP, whatever it winds up being, will require other than standard width sweeping equipment… . Well, you know the rest of that story.

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    Rick January 6, 2015 at 11:12 am

    The eastern parts of SW Walker Road in the West Slope neighborhood need a cycle-track style of multi-use paths.

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    spencer January 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I used to ride this stretch often. its terrifying. it NEEDS grade separation throughout the project. +10 bajillion on the traffic circle, they use less asphalt, move traffic better, and are SAFER. its win/ win/ win all around.

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    El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    That roundabout is terrible. Imagine the dangers of drivers waiting for a right on red, and multiply them by three:

    Drivers approaching from the south, for example, will have two lane choices. Those drivers in the right (outside) lane would theoretically never have to stop, as they have a protected right turn lane. They should be watching for pedestrians crossing to their right, but their tendency will be to look left just to be sure they’re not going to get nailed by someone exiting the roundabout. They won’t be stopping to look left, they’ll just be blindly making right turns across a crosswalk.

    Those drivers in the left lane, should they want to turn right (will they have signals on?), will need to yield to other roundabout traffic prior to entering, which will definitely force them to look left prior to entering the roundabout, and I will guarantee that only a small minority will look to the right again prior to gunning it across the crosswalk.

    Further confusing the issue will be drivers who have entered the roundabout from the North or West, and want to proceed East on Merlo. Those drivers, as they prepare to exit the roundabout will have to yield to NB pedestrians and bicyclists, which at least they will be positioned to see. What kind of confusion will result when a driver waiting to enter from the South sees traffic already in the roundabout stopping to let pedestrians cross? Where will exiting drivers stop to wait for peds? If an exiting driver stops to the right of a driver waiting to enter and turn right, then they are asking to be rear-ended (and possibly pushed into a crossing pedestrian), because again, NB drivers WILL drive right while looking left as is the classic right-on-red maneuver. Will exiting drivers stop directly in front of (blocking) NB drivers waiting to enter? That’s a recipe for road rage. Will exiting drivers try to be “nice”, and stop to the left of NB drivers waiting to enter? That would confuse the rules of roundabouts by making it look like someone already in the roundabout was yielding to someone waiting to enter, even though they were rightly yielding to crossing pedestrians or cyclists.

    A similar set of issues (only doubled) waits for peds or cyclists wanting to make a “left” from WB Merlo onto SB 170th. Although it would be acceptable for pedestrians to “shortcut” the roundabout, as the sidewalk has no implication of one-way travel like the bike lane would, bicyclists wanting to “do it right” would need to navigate two sets of dangerous crosswalks to make this left (which is the main traffic pattern at this intersection, since most folks are continuing on from SB 158th, around the Merlo jog to SB 170th).

    At the very, very least, immediate right turns onto Merlo need to be disallowed from the NB inside lane of 170th. Don’t know the practicality, but a yellow curb between the two NB lanes of 170th as it approaches the roundabout, and extending around the bend onto Merlo might give right-turning drivers more confidence to look right while they are turning right, instead of doing a left-looking double-check for wayward roundabout exiters.

    Also, while roundabouts are a boon for motorized traffic flow, designs like this constitute a degradation in “LOS” specifically for cyclists, who technically aren’t allowed to shortcut the roundabout like pedestrians are. Unable to escape the “protected” bike lane to navigate the roundabout “vehicularly”, those on bikes wanting to make a left will be obligated to wait four times for traffic to clear—and for two of those crossings they would be wise to wait for all traffic to clear (rather than exercise their right-of-way, expecting drivers to yield), because roughly 1/3 of the vehicles that would cross their path will be driven by operators who literally are not looking where they are going (due to look-left, go-right).

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      El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      …Yellow curb or candlestick bollards.

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    paikiala January 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    You’ll notice the northbound approach has more than a car length of separation between the yield line and the crosswalk. Separation of decision points helps to keep the pedestrians safe.
    The only issue I see with the preliminary design is the southbound exit. It needs a little more deflection on exit to keep motorists from accelorating too soon leaving the circular roadway.

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      El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Well, the more time as we can give drivers to resume looking in the direction they are moving the better, but that car length is covered in less than a second at 15 MPH. I still say it is better (when possible) not to give drivers making an immediate right any reason to look left, and not to allow drivers who are compelled to look left any opportunity for making an immediate right turn.

      The other all-too-typical driver behavior I witness daily is flooring it into a too-small gap. If that happens when an inside-lane right turner wants to squeeze in front of someone who is possibly exiting the roundabout at the same point, and the rapidly accelerating right turner then suddenly slams on the brakes because they realize there is a pedestrian directly in front of them, it will be a recipe for rear-ending.

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        paikiala January 7, 2015 at 9:13 am

        When’s the last time you drove at 15-20 mph? ‘suddenly slams on the brakes’ is not needed at that speed to slow for pedestrians. Your hyperbole dilutes your credibility.

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          El Biciclero January 7, 2015 at 10:13 am

          How about the time not I, but another driver ran into me in a crosswalk just before “slamming on the brakes” because he was looking left while driving right. He was probably only going 10 (lucky me). Maybe I’m just particularly sensitive to drivers doing this because I see it several times per day and have been personally “impacted” by it. Maybe “slamming” is the wrong word, if it conjures images of screeching to halt with smoking tires, but imagine these scenarios:

          * Backing out of a parking space at 3 mph, when you suddenly see a lady with a shopping cart behind you (she came out from behind other parked cars); what do you do? “slam” on the brakes?
          * Creeping along in a traffic jam while attempting to retrieve or send a text message. You’re going about 5 mph when you look up and discover that the cars in front of you have completely stopped and you’re about one foot from the bumper of the car in front of you; what do you do?
          * Attempting to exit from a driveway, watching traffic on a one-way street, waiting for an opening. You spot your chance and start moving, only to realize there is a pedestrian crossing your path on the sidewalk; you’re only going 10 mph at this point, but what do you do?
          * Waiting to make a right turn on red…etc.

          The thing all these scenarios have in common is not that anyone was going too fast, its that they are all about to hit something they didn’t see before. It’s not a matter of carefully cruising along at 15, watching for pedestrians and slowing gently when you need to yield. The behavior that gets people in trouble is looking one way and driving another, whether during sudden acceleration from a stop, or cruising along at 15, but not looking in the direction you are going. Pedestrians here would have to be aware of three sources of automobiles just to cross the first half of the NB crosswalk across Merlo. Two of those sources produce cars driven by people with no expectation of stopping, who are looking at other cars, not crosswalks. The third source produces cars whose drivers likely started driving in a direction they were not looking; we have to hope these drivers turn their heads around soon enough to notice that they need to stop (again) to wait not only for cars in the roundabout, but for pedestrians crossing it.

          So credibility or not, I’ve seen what I’m talking about with my own eyes. Maybe a proper “modern roundabout” design eliminates the concerns I have, but I’ll believe it when I see it. As presented here, this roundabout provides complicated crossing scenarios with what could turn out to be ambiguous yielding rules—how close is “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard” when a car is coming around a roundabout, about to exit across your crosswalk, but not signaling to do so?

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            paikiala January 8, 2015 at 10:11 am

            You can see a ‘near proper’ modern roundabout at SW Terwilliger and Palater Road, next to the law school for Lewis and Clark. Downtown Vancouver has a flawed one at Esther Short Park (Esther and 6th).

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    Dave January 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    The solution for cyclists at the roundabout is to illegally leave the bike path before the roundabout and join the vehicles. Hopefully there won’t be a physical barrier that prevents this. My safety is more important than the law.

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      Peter R January 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      100% agree. I never use the diverter near Intel on Butler in Hillsboro. I always bike through the traffic circle directly. While traffic here is significantly less than a Merlo/170 intersection, it’s the same theory. As a cyclist, I am a vehicle, and I want the same access to use the roundabout as those in cars.

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      paikiala January 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      The best modern roundabout design for cyclists provides two choices. The more confident cyclist should merge with through traffic and circulate like a motorist. This is made easier by the low-speed operational environment of the modern roundabout, which should not exceed 20 mph (30 kph).
      The less confident cyclist should be provided a ramp to exit the street and use a shared use path around the roundabout. Such paths are at least ten feet wide (4 m) and cyclist operate at low speeds, crossing at the pedestrian crossings. http://tinyurl.com/roundabouts-and-bikes Sometimes space constraints, as with other intersection types, limit ideal design.

      Bikes in roundabouts videos:
      Clearwater Beach, Florida: http://vimeo.com/54317041
      La Jolla, California : http://vimeo.com/61988764
      Washington: http://tinyurl.com/reidmiddletonRAB
      Bend, Oregon: http://tinyurl.com/bikesRABBendOR
      New York DOT: http://tinyurl.com/bikeRABNYdot

      In other countries, separate cycle tracks are common and here’s a video of how they work at modern roundabouts http://tinyurl.com/cycletrackRAB .

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        Peter R January 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

        But due to a rather foolish OR law, if there is a sidepath, we are “required” to use it. At least this is how it has been explained to me.

        http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.420

        814.420¹

        Failure to use bicycle lane or path
        • exceptions
        • penalty

        (1)
        Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.

        (2)
        A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.

        (3)
        A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:

        (a)
        Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.

        (b)
        Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

        (c)
        Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.

        (d)
        Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.

        (e)
        Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.

        (4)
        The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §700; 1985 c.16 §338; 2005 c.316 §3]

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          wsbob January 6, 2015 at 2:57 pm

          There are far more important questions about Washington County’s road development proposal covered by this bikeportland story, than how the specifics of Oregon’s bike lane use laws relate to the proposed development.

          Please try refrain from efforts to hijack this discussion by posting a bunch of disinformation about so called side path laws. You posted a text of 814.420 and a link to the site that has it online.

          Now please read give yourself an opportunity to read and personally understand it rather than rely on the explanation of someone else that apparently would have you believe the law unconditionally obliges people that bike to ride only in bike lanes where provided.

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          El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm

          Well, arguing about when one is and is not legally allowed to leave the bike lane is moot when one physically cannot exit the bike lane, as would be the case given the segment 2/3 cross section. Except for a couple of narrow crosswalk cuts and a driveway, there is no escape from the NB bike lane on 170th or the EB bike lane on Merlo.

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            Adam H. January 6, 2015 at 5:08 pm

            No escape from the bike lane also means that car drivers can’t get in.

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              El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm

              That’s true. Birds in cages don’t generally get eaten by cats, but their movements are severely restricted.

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          paikiala January 7, 2015 at 9:16 am

          Portland is currently exploring having a bike lane marked and sharrow on the same segment of roadway for different pathways. This seems like one solution.
          Alternatively, if the bike lane portion of the shared path were next to the curb, a drop ramp for confident cyclists could be provided with sharrows to notify motorists of the changed conditions.

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        El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

        Yes. All the U.S. examples show cyclists occupying the roadway in the appropriate lane as a motorist would. That method of navigating assumes the cyclist will be able to leave the bike lane to occupy the appropriate lane. If I interpret the “segments” and cross-sections correctly, this might be possible coming from the North, but would require swerving into the protected SB bike lane; making a “vehicular” left turn from SB 170th onto Merlo would be impossible unless a bicyclist stayed in the street at least as far as the Beaverton School District office driveway—assuming there was an opportunity to merge back to the right before then.

        Coming from the South, the only opportunities to leave the bike lane are at the crosswalks either at Vendla Park or Augusta, assuming a perfectly-timed gap in auto traffic opens as one arrives at one of these two small gaps in the protective planted area.

        The design of the typical Dutch/Danish roundabout, as shown in the Den Bosch video, uses bicycle crossings that follow the circular contour of the roundabout; those shown here have both awkward entry angles and a concave chevron in the middle. Neither of those features aligns with designs of “modern roundabouts” in other countries.

        So it appears that this particular design allows neither of the navigation options suggested by your video examples. Oops, except one—the one from NY where the animated bicyclist dismounts and walks through the roundabout. Isn’t that what we really expect cyclists to do anyway?

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          El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm

          …Also, the Den Bosch and other European roundabouts have separate pedestrian and bicycle pathways…

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        wsbob January 7, 2015 at 6:57 pm

        “The best modern roundabout design for cyclists provides two choices. The more confident cyclist should merge with through traffic and circulate like a motorist. This is made easier by the low-speed operational environment of the modern roundabout, which should not exceed 20 mph (30 kph).

        The less confident cyclist should be provided a ramp to exit the street and use a shared use path around the roundabout. Such paths are at least ten feet wide (4 m) and cyclist operate at low speeds, crossing at the pedestrian crossings. …” paikiala

        All that’s good, if that’s how a roundabout design proposed for the 170th and Merlo intersection were to be realized, if it were approved for the location. This intersection is right on the slope of a small hill. The hill poses the question of mph speed through the roundabout, that people riding the main lanes would tend to average. Based on my own experience riding that hill, I’d say twelve to fifteen mph is doable for stronger riders.

        Ten foot wide MUP’s in this location would be great.

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    wsbob January 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    In comments to bikeportland stories, because I ride it often, I frequently mention traffic and road use issues associated with the area of 170th, between Johnson St (THPRD Nature Park access at roughly this point.), and the light rail tracks.

    Motor vehicle traffic on this road is heavy and intense. To get onto 170th from the nature park, waiting for twenty five motor vehicles to pass before a big enough break in traffic occurs to allow getting on the road with a bike, is common. The addition of bike lanes would help reduce the problem of simply being able to get on the road without a long, dangerous wait for a break in traffic.

    Creating a situation in which people riding bikes would have to transition from the bike lane, across an additional main lane of traffic in each direction, (three lanes really, if the center turn lane is included.), does not do much really, to improve or encourage use of bikes for travel on this road.

    Rate of speed this road is posted for, is 40 mph. For safe use by vulnerable road users, and in terms of the impact of that speed traveled by motor vehicles on this road, that 40 mph is way too high. Currently in its two lane country road configuration (on parts of it, no shoulders to speak of, no sidewalks or bike lanes.), the noise of motor vehicle traffic already is very loud. Think of the increase in noise, that the addition of two or three lanes to this road would produce. Posted speeds of 20 mph, maybe 25 mph would be a worthy consideration as a condition for approval of configuring this road to a two main lane in each direction configuration.

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      El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Hmm. This is interesting. Having recently seen the results of the Bethany Blvd. expansion-to-five-lanes, with the addition of a couple of new traffic signals, it would be interesting to theorize about the effect of doing to 170th what many in Bethany/Oak Hills wanted to do with Bethany Blvd.: make it two lanes with a center turn lane. Now my theory is that adding lanes to a road is not necessarily done with an eye toward moving anyone faster, it is to allow storage of more cars between green signals. If instead of a signalized intersection, we used a (better-designed) roundabout as conceived here, would we need to store a lot of cars on 170th? How bad would back-ups be if there were only a single lane each direction with a roundabout at Merlo? It seems relatively certain that three lanes would be safer than five for students at Beaver Acres who wanted to cross.

      As well, one argument for the Bethany configuration was that there is so much undeveloped area to the north that traffic demands will soon be huge as thousands of new residents move into yet-to-be-built homes. The same is not true for this section of 170th, which has long-established neighborhoods at both ends. Plus, 170th to the south of TV Hwy has a three-lane plus bike lanes plus sidewalk cross section; does it really need to expand to five lanes for the short section between TV and Merlo? I would bet that just adding a center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks would make this stretch seem like the Vegas Strip compared to what is there now.

      As to your speed comment, it is true that 40 mph is way too fast for this stretch of road now—widening it would only make a 40 mph speed limit seem more reasonable to most drivers, when really, something in the neighborhood of 30 or under is more appropriate here.

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        wsbob January 6, 2015 at 5:45 pm

        “…adding lanes to a road is not necessarily done with an eye toward moving anyone faster, it is to allow storage of more cars between green signals. …” El Biciclero

        Sort of. The road currently is posted for 40 mph, and as I earlier wrote, there are many motor vehicles in use on this road, and the traffic that use creates is intense. I think the idea of adding main lanes is to increase the number of motor vehicles effectively able to use the road at peak hours without excessive traffic jams by enabling better traffic flow.

        On their own, high posted speeds become detrimental to neighborhood livability and to use of the road by vulnerable road users, when reductions from often high numbers of motor vehicles using the road at certain times, drops, allowing the high posted speed to attained.

        During periods of high motor vehicle use, I think the top speed traveled tends to naturally drop from the posted speed due to those high numbers. This may be one argument in favor of not adding additional main travel lanes to the current one in each direction.

        On 170th, just south of the light rail line, there was quite an addition of new multi-family housing last year, and right next to it, there’s still open land where more may be built. Not sure, but with this proposal, it kind of looks as though the county isn’t merely seeking to reduce existing congestion on the road, but is preparing for a possible increase in use of the road with motor vehicles.

        As I said in an earlier comment, I don’t have much knowledge of or personal experience with roundabouts. So far to me, use of one seems odd at this location. I think that the location is on a funny hill, complicates use of the design. If the county were to agree to drop the posted speed limit to twenty or twenty five mph, at least from some distance away, leading up to and through the roundabout, that could put it more of a practical spin on things.

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    Peter W January 6, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    > Another relevant issue is that widening the street is likely to destroy some trees that sit on non-park land between 170th and the property line of Tualatin Hills Nature Park. Oylear said she could imagine some residents might prefer to preserve trees by eliminating the buffer between auto and bike traffic, narrowing the street by a few feet.

    And other people might prefer to preserve trees by eliminating the extraneous auto lanes.

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    Andy K January 6, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    The commenters above who are disparaging roundabouts need to see them in action, and ALL cyclists weary of this design practice should be strongly encouraged and/or taught to take the lane and maintain your position, regardless of lane configuration. I would be in favor of a “CYCLISTS TAKE THE LANE” sign on each leg even if the design guidelines don’t cover it. This is informative for bikes and cars.

    Since we’re critiquing the design, I am not in favor of the “cyclist exit ramp” on roundabouts, in general. The bike riders who feel the need to use it, because they don’t want to delay motorists even 2 seconds, or think they’re required to by law, don’t have the skill to signal their change in speed or their turn, and have essentially made the situation more dangerous for everyone by attempting it. The ramps can become very difficult to navigate when they accumulate dirt/gravel and the rider is also watching for peds. I partially blame the designer for putting it there, to be honest.

    Thanks for covering the westside, BikePortland!

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      Cheif January 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      People need to quit combining “leery” and “wary” to form “weary”, “weary” means another thing.

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        Andy K January 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        Thanks – won’t happen again.

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      wsbob January 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      I’m not sure what to think about the roundabout design being considered for the 170th Merlo intersection as shown in the illustration in this story. This roundabout design looks to be requiring the use of quite a lot more land than a conventional intersection would. How much exactly? Thirty percent, perhaps? Wide expanses of pavement that eradicate foliage and vegetation, don’t enhance livability or aesthetics.

      How will the sizable area of land inside the inner red circle be used, or be finished as part of the design? Looks like it could be about twenty feet across. What will it become? Can it somehow be made to enhance the beauty and functionality of this street to this neighborhood?

      Questions about what are the county’s long term goals for the areas adjacent to 170th, Merlo, come to mind. The road already sees a great number of motor vehicles used on this road, everyday, Saturday and Sunday included. With resulting noise, pollution, and danger. Is the county prepared to support a substantial percentage increase of that number, or a doubling of the number. That would result in a huge impact on the area.

      Confining development of the road to two main lanes of travel in each direction for the entire length of 170th between Alexander and Baseline Rd, is one I find merit in. Bike lanes on both sides of the road, six foot, eight foot, or ideally ten foot wide, would help immensely to improve and encourage biking on this road.

      A big, wide planting strip distancing the bike lanes from the main lanes, would make them full fledged cycle tracks, I think. Maybe a full fledged cycle track here, is what the county should go for. Advisability of that would need to consider some, what top speeds by bike, the cycle track could reasonably and safely support.

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        paikiala January 7, 2015 at 9:26 am

        “Wide expanses of pavement that eradicate foliage and vegetation, don’t enhance livability or aesthetics.”

        I think you confuse modern roundabouts with modern signalized (inefficient) intersections. 60%-90% reduction in fatal collisions attained by modern roundabouts over comparable signalized intersections definately enhances livability. Modern signal intersections often need more space than roundabouts to store parked cars waiting for turn signals. And if the left turns are particularly heavy, multiple storage lanes are needed. That storage space if often linear out from the intersection, affecting multiple properties due to tapers needed for higher speed operation, while a modern roundabout concentrates lane use at the intersection.
        As for the center of the circular roadway:
        Roundabout Art:
        French Video: http://tinyurl.com/87yhqts
        Video 2: http://tinyurl.com/d8t3zua
        Topito top 25, France: http://tinyurl.com/c7k34an
        Bend Art drive: http://tinyurl.com/855d4mr
        PixPlot Roundabouts: http://tinyurl.com/2e9dvn3
        Art in traffic circles, flickr: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=art+in+traffic+circle
        Art in roundabouts, flicker: http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=art+in+roundabout&m=text
        Podcetrtek Traffic Circle located in Slovenia http://tinyurl.com/9we2qz6
        2014 UK roundabout of the year http://tinyurl.com/rabUK2014

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          wsbob January 7, 2015 at 6:42 pm

          paikiala…thanks for those links. I won’t be able to check them out for awhile until I get to a pc with a faster connection. If an roundabout is approved for 170th and Merlo, and the center circle is landscaped with something that absorbs sound, is visually appealing, and isn’t a high maintenance item, that could be acceptable.

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      El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      This design, as shown in the cross section for segments 2/3, makes your suggestion nigh unto impossible, as there is no exit from the “protected” bike lane where it exists (except for a few crosswalks and driveways), and no re-entry into the protected bike lane is possible for some turns (e.g., SB 170th to EB Merlo).

      What are you calling the “cyclist exit ramp”? The curb cut for the crosswalks?

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        Andy K January 6, 2015 at 8:03 pm

        Sorry for the confusion – the “cyclist exit ramp” is just a personal design pet peeve of mine, shown as a “ramp up for bicycle” in this figure: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/roundabouts/fhwasa10006/images/f19.jpg

        The proposed roundabout discussed on this page and shown above (at 170th and Merlo) does not have them from what I can tell.

        In general, for roundabouts, I prefer to minimize the number and width of the lanes. It’s one of the best ways to keep motor vehicle speeds low.

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    Adam H. January 6, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    This would be a huge improvement for people walking and riding bikes, and in addition, will set a good precedent for future projects.

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    In case some of you forgot, or never read my report about the roundabout in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (in the Netherlands) with a two-way cycle track around it… feast your eyes on this – http://bikeportland.org/2013/06/04/a-day-of-nice-cycling-in-s-hertogenbosch-87803

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      El Biciclero January 6, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Too bad we don’t do that kind of thing here. The roundabout pictured above could be greatly improved if the “bike path” followed the circular shape of the roundabout instead of having the chevron “dents” in the middle, there was a separate crossing for pedestrians instead of a shared crosswalk, and the angle of entry for the crossings was not so sharp. Oh, and if they changed enforcement practices here to hold drivers accountable for not yielding.

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        paikiala January 7, 2015 at 9:29 am

        The rules in the Netherlands for yielding depend on the location. For the rural applications, cyclist yield to cars, while in urban situations, cars yield to cyclists. The cultural differences are a bigger hurdle to overcome than the designs.

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    Skid January 7, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Sure I move to Portland after 1 years of playing Dodge ’em on SW170th.

    I am glad they are making these improvements. There are a lot of commuters and a lot of kids in this area.

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    Skid January 7, 2015 at 12:00 am

    13 years….

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    JJJJ January 7, 2015 at 8:05 am

    13 and 14 foot center turning lanes? What, are two cars supposed to turn side by side? Thats insane. Its wide for the sake of being wide.

    Incidentally, on the 170th image, it shows a 52 foot roadbed.

    Which just so happens to allow for 11-10-10-10-11 lanes by removing the bike lanes to allow for more cars.

    Then they can use those 11 foot planting areas for 6 foot bike paths.

    AKA: The road is designed for massive widening.

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    Peter R January 7, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I never stated it “unconditionally requires” you to use the bike lane. And the information comes from more than one source. Please note my “requires” is in quotes because I’ve heard from both a city engineer and a police officer myself about this rule. Anecdotally a friend of mine was more or less yelled at in Sunriver by a police officer for running in the streets as opposed to the sidepath, he cited this particular law. And wasn’t there a story last year about a cyclist ticketed in Salem for leaving a bike lane?
    So don’t get pissy for someone pointing out something that is pertinent to the conversation.

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      wsbob January 7, 2015 at 10:04 am

      What you wrote here: http://bikeportland.org/2015/01/06/greater-nike-area-biking-upgrades-include-protected-lanes-traffic-circle-130584#comment-6088022

      …was: “…if there is a sidepath, we are “required” to use it. At least this is how it has been explained to me. …” Peter R

      Period, no if’s and’s or but’s. And further, you’re willing to accept and believe the anecdotal word of some unnamed city engineer, and a police officer as to the provision for use of the road and bike lanes ORS 814.420 provides. Rather than what you may come to understand from your own reading of the law in black and white right before your very eyes. Fine, you go with that if it’s what you think you need to do.

      Whatever the city engineer and the police officer told you, apparently there was some lack of understanding or communication, either on their part, or yours. The law provides for road users riding bikes to leave transition from bike lane to main lane for a vast array of acknowledged reasons as detailed in ORS 814.420.

      Any pertinence your reference to ORS 814.420, may have to the topic this story covers, is marginal at best. Your reference to the law was a sidetrack, which you’d be benefiting everyone here better, by resolving questions you have about the law, somewhere else, at another time.

      Lastly: Watch your language. Did I respond to your comment with nasty words disrespectful of your or your viewpoint? No, I didn’t. I showed respect for you, as I believe everyone discussing topics in the comment sections of this website, should show to each other. And the same is exactly what you should find some way to conduct yourself.

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        Peter R January 7, 2015 at 11:39 am

        Boo-hoo. Perhaps you should read up on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Figure 9B-2, regulatory sign R4-11. The general belief of the traffic engineers in the city that I work for is when an alternative sidepath exists it must be used UNLESS a sign such as R4-11 exists, which states that bicycles may use full lane. Unless you want to claim what your profession is here, I’ll believe the people who design our infrastructure and the police who enforce the rules are correct. One of them who is an active cyclist and commuter, so I’m pretty sure he has a decent understanding of both sides of the coin.
        My whole point, which again is pertinent to the discussion, is that I don’t believe a roundabout is the proper tool for that location, especially one designed as it appears in the above diagram.

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          wsbob January 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm

          “…My whole point, which again is pertinent to the discussion, is that I don’t believe a roundabout is the proper tool for that location, especially one designed as it appears in the above diagram.” Peter R

          If that was your point was to express your thought that a roundabout wasn’t the proper tool for the 170th and Merlo location, that’s what you should have said instead of launching off into a sidetrack about Oregon’s bike lane use laws. And you should explain in some detail, why you don’t think this infrastructure is the right tool for that location.

          As for what are the provisions of ORS 814.420 relative to use of the road by people biking:

          The law is, what the law says. You posted the text of the law for everyone here, including yourself, to read and think about. If you choose to accept the general belief of the traffic engineers in the city that you work for, about use of the road and bike lanes the law provides for, instead of your own reading and understanding of the law, that’s your prerogative.

          The employees of the city you work for, and the police officers, almost certainly did not write, and pass ORS 814.420 in the legislature, because I believe when that was done was at least twenty years ago. It’s part of their job to understand the law and explain it to other people, but that this is their job, doesn’t necessarily mean their understanding of what the law does and doesn’t provide, is correct.

          If what they told you, led you to believe that only a R4-11 MUTCD sign allows people biking to take the lane in road situations where a bike lane is provided, either they, yourself, or both yourself and them, are incorrect. The text of 814.420 you posted to this comment section, flat out contradicts any such notion.

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    Peter R January 7, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    And you’re the expert because??????

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      El Biciclero January 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      Peter, just don’t do it. Short of a Supreme Court ruling, wsbob will not be convinced.

      wsbob has a very loose interpretation of the exceptions in ORS 814.420. In all practicality, enforcement is so rare that it doesn’t really matter what anyone’s interpretation is.

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        Pete January 7, 2015 at 11:26 pm

        Almost as rare as turn signal enforcement! 😉

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        wsbob January 8, 2015 at 1:23 am

        “wsbob has a very loose interpretation of the exceptions in ORS 814.420. …” el bic

        I believe my reading of ORS 814.420 is accurate, rather than loose. In fact, I’m confident my reading of it is accurate, and under different circumstances, I think I could detail fairly well why it’s accurate.

        A big reason some people are hung up on this law, I think, possibly has much to do with their generally not understanding road use laws at all. Many people may not have done any study of those laws since studying for their driver’s test, if that. Observance of those laws associated with driving a motor vehicle on the road, in contrast to riding a bike on the road, for a range of reasons, has differences which at least some basic study and maybe, instruction, could help to clear up.

        It shouldn’t take a Supreme Court ruling to help some of you understand the use of the road by people riding bikes, this law acknowledges, but maybe that’s the only thing that will enable that understanding to come about. It seems you’d rather disregard what the law says, and beat your chest hoping vainly for the day when you’ll band together and somehow magically whisk this law away.

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          El Biciclero January 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

          It’s not the supreme court, but at least the League of American Bicyclists agrees with me. It is a bad law; the “needs” of motorists (to get bicycles out of their way) are served just as well by ORS 814.430, which is not nearly as restrictive as ORS 814.420. There is no reason for 814.420 to be a law except to codify the fact that bicycles belong in the gutter unless there’s a situation that matches one of the exceptions in the law. Our disagreement, wsbob, hinges on the definition of “hazard” vs. “potential hazard”. Actions not excepted by the law, but which might make bike travel safer:

          * Riding on the left side of a one-way street when there is a bike lane painted on the right (might be done to avoid buses, or because passenger doors fling open less frequently than driver doors).
          * Leaving the bike lane to avoid right-turning traffic if motor traffic is not required to turn right, but may turn right.
          * Leaving the bike lane when a car is approaching on a side street or driveway (for visibility).
          * Leaving the bike lane at a 4-way stop to avoid being hidden from the view of other drivers (unless one is “preparing to make a left turn”).
          * Leaving the bike lane when one is traveling at the speed of motor traffic
          * Leaving the bike lane to avoid potential dooring, but when no doors are currently open.
          * Leaving the bike lane to pass to the left of, e.g., a delivery vehicle or bus that isn’t technically blocking the bike lane.
          * Leaving the bike lane to avoid left hooks (such as on the new & improved Williams at any time (the law assumes all Oregon bike lanes are on the right).

          If I understand you correctly, you believe that most or all of these situations would fall into the category of “hazardous conditions”, and would therefore allow any cyclist to leave the bike lane to mitigate them. The problem is that neither you nor I know what the police officer’s or judge’s interpretation of “hazardous conditions” would be because the law also leaves ambiguous the definition of “hazard”, as we see from the case last year of the Southern Oregon cyclist cited for riding a few inches outside the bike lane. He claimed that gravel and debris had given him flats in the past, but the officer’s response was “nope, that doesn’t cut it”. Deciding what does “cut it” as an actual hazard should not put cyclists in fear of being cited for making decisions about their own safety.

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          El Biciclero January 8, 2015 at 11:51 am

          Also, your insinuation that anyone who disagrees with you about this particular law has “generally [no] understanding [of] road use laws at all”, borders on insulting; you’re talking about a large population there.

          I’ve outlined specifically why I believe the law says what I think it says (and doesn’t say what I don’t think it says); you’ve never done the same, except to say, “well, you don’t know what your talking about—read the law and you’ll see.”

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    Peter W January 8, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Also, please don’t call this the “Greater Nike Area”. Nike isn’t a place to begin with (all it is is a collection of suburban buildings and a helluvalot of parking lots).

    The fact that you (and the County) feel inclined to use language like that simply proves how “placeless” it is out there. If there were real places out there people would call them by that instead of calling it “[insert Corporation name here] Area”. Could you ever imagine feeling the need to call Goose Hollow the “Jeld-Wen/PGE/Providence Park Area”?

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