(Image: Google Maps)
Strong turnout for bike supporters at a state open house next Wednesday could lead to major improvements to one of Washington County’s most annoying bike-lane gaps — and set a precedent for similar gaps around the region.
At issue are four blocks of road on Southwest 185th Avenue, just north and south of Tualatin Valley Highway. 185th Avenue’s bike lanes vanish as they cross the state-run road.
“This is something that we see all across the region,” Bicycle Transportation Alliance Washington County Advocate Lisa Frank said Tuesday. “There are roads that have bike lanes that are mostly complete except when they interact with state highways.”
Burnside Street at 82nd Avenue is another such spot, Frank said.
At 185th, Frank said the BTA has already convinced the state and county to make some changes when it does a planned redesign of the major TV Highway/185th intersection.
“Initially, their plans for this intersection didn’t do anything to address bike safety in this area,” she said. Now, the state and county are proposing to add continuous bike lanes on 185th Avenue southbound.
Northbound on 185th, the agencies are proposing an unmarked six-foot wide shoulder on the south side of TV Highway from the railroad tracks north. This would take the place of what’s currently a northbound “slip lane” — a dedicated, rightward-bending right-turn lane that invited cars to accelerate during turns onto the state highway.
North of TV Highway as far as Alexander Street, however, and south of the railroad tracks, neither a striped shoulder or northbound bike markings are proposed. Moreover, none of the facilities are expected to offer physical protection from cars.
Frank said the BTA’s strategy will be to ask for crossbike-type markings through the area, helping make clear to drivers that bikes may be present and have the right to proceed straight across. In addition, she said, the redesign should be planned as an “interim adjustment” that leaves room for the possibility of either moving the sidewalk curb or removing one general travel lane in order to eventually create continuous physical separation for people biking.
“It’s just one block, so we should be able to figure out something,” Frank said.
She added that the area has “been on the high-crash list for a really long time.”
If the current advocacy is successful, how likely is it that the county might eventually remove a general travel lane from 185th in order to create a great bike connection? Frank said that’ll depend on the county’s vision for its future.
“185th is a major roadway,” she said. “It sees a lot of traffic. And we know that a lot of that is that people don’t have alternatives.”
The next public open house on this project is 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 21. You can drop in anytime during those hours at the International School of Beaverton (17770 SW Blanton Street, Aloha) to learn more and share your thoughts. You can also read more on the state’s project website.
Correction 2:15 pm: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the proposed road work between Blanton Street and the railroad tracks.
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.