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First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th

Posted by on February 4th, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Newness on NE 7th.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has finished some striping and marking work on NE 7th in the Lloyd District.

As we shared in our first report on this project back in September, this street is a key connector for bicycling between the Lloyd District (and NE Multnomah protected bike lane) and the NE Tillamook bicycle boulevard. This project was aimed at improving the bicycling environment by giving riders dedicated space and reinforcing a shared street environment.

In the southbound direction, the new markings begin just south of NE Schulyer. It begins as a standard bike lane and then half-way through the block (right at Les Schwab Tire Center driveway) the bike lane ends and a shared right-turn lane begins (marked by alternating sharrows and turn arrows).

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-1

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I observed the new markings during the morning rush-hour a few days ago. In the case below, the bike riders opted to not share the lane and instead merged into the left lane in order to continue south…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-2

Continuing southbound, between Broadway and Weidler, there doesn’t appear to be much sharing going on. Instead, there was more of an awkward squeeze happening when road users in cars and on bikes attempted to create their own, separate lanes…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-3

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-4

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-5

The situation above might have something to do with the fact that PBOT has only installed one sharrow on this entire block face. The plans call for two. (UPDATE: PBOT confirms there will be another sharrow coming). Even so, sharrows have only very limited effectiveness and most road users either ignore them or don’t know what they mean.

In the northbound direction, the new bike lane looks well and was working fine…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-6

The plans we shared in September showed the inclusion of a green bike box/left turn box on NE Broadway, but that was dropped from the final plans (I’ve asked PBOT for a clarification – UPDATE: PBOT says, “The left turn box was removed from the final plan.”)

As we previously reported, these new bike access improvements still do not connect directly to Tillamook*. This project stops 2-3 blocks south of Tillamook. The PBOT project manager tells us that’s because, “The road simply gets too narrow and in order to make room for a bikeway they’d have to take out trees and a planting strip.” (And an auto parking lane.)

(*UPDATE: PBOT says sharrows will be installed (or have been installed?) northbound all the way to Tillamook.)

This project was paid for with Lloyd District parking meter revenue.

Have you ridden the new bike lane or the new sharrow-marked lane? Has it made NE 7th better? Let us know what you think.

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41 Comments
  • Alex Graham February 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Anything that reduces the amount of people who get hurt trying to use the disaster that is N Williams is an improvement.

    Of course, fixing the disaster that is N Williams would be a nice change…

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    • Steven Vance February 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      It’s too early to say if this road striping change is that improvement.

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  • Adam H. February 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Looks like only a very slight improvement.

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    • Robert Getch February 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      It looks almost like no improvement. Except maybe at Broadway.

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  • hat February 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    There’s a little bit of a “sad medium” it seems when it comes to lane width. Too wide and a wonder de facto lane emerges (or parking), too narrow and a wonderful sharing occurs. Just right means jostling for space.

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  • Phil Kulak February 4, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    > the new bike lane looks well

    It looks “good”. It’s okay to say “good”, unless the bike lane is sick, of course! 😉

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  • Todd Hudson February 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    All I want is the NE 7th Ave. bike/ped bridge over I-84. The 11th/12th/13th/16th/offramp/Lloyd Blvd. mega-intersection is the most miserable part of my commute.

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    • Tony T
      Tony T February 4, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      This! I’ve been fantasizing about something like this for years.

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    • eli bishop February 4, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      AMEN.

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    • Chris Anderson February 5, 2015 at 7:41 am

      BTW the anti-bike crowd is getting set to argue that bike/ped bridges are INSANE because for only marginally more cost, you could build a bridge that is no fun to ride on also works for cars and freight.

      Does anyone have an economic analysis of the benefits of these kinds of bridges? I guess one could extrapolate from the well known benefits of protected lanes, but any research about bridges specifically would be especially germane.

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      • Chris Anderson February 6, 2015 at 3:37 am

        Thinking more about this. One response is that if you are willing to grant that there are folks who would be more comfortable riding on a bike/ped bridge than on a bridge shared with car traffic, then you can imagine there are trips that would be done by bike which are done by car instead, due to the lack of bike/ped bridges. Economists will see this as an inefficient market. By opening up the comfortable option, we are able to gauge demand for bike/ped trips in a way we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

        It’ll be interesting to see how much demand Tilikum Crossing induces.

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    • John Lascurettes February 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm

      Heck, that area is even a PITA in car. I live on NE 14th between Broadway and Fremont and getting anywhere south of I-84 in any neighborhood (whether on bike or in car) not served by a major road (most) becomes an exercise deciding which route will suck least at that hour on that day. Even in a car, you still have to go far out of your way, heading south on 15th, making lots of turns and getting stuck at a lot of lights just to get around that commercial and highway district. That whole Lloyd Center/I-84 cutoff of the neighborhood roads is extremely awkward. It’s the worst on foot.

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  • MaxD February 4, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    (*UPDATE: PBOT says sharrows will be installed (or have been installed?) northbound all the way to Tillamook.)

    Any idea why they won’t sharrow all the way to Going? Or at least Skidmore?

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    • Reza February 5, 2015 at 12:39 am

      Because auto volumes are way too high on 7th until you get past Fremont. I don’t think they would be allowed, or be willing, to remove the centerline and establish a bike boulevard on that street as it stands now.

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      • lyle w. February 5, 2015 at 8:21 am

        And as is the case with Clinton, Lincoln, Ankeny in SE, It’s almost all people trying to save a miniscule amount of time using it as a diversion from MLK… and, of course, cyclists pay the price.

        Why should I not be allowed to drive the speed I would be driving on MLK? I mean, that’s the whole point of me being HERE!!!

        Just like 11th and 12th in SE, I gave up on NE 7th avenue, and add time to my ride to avoid it (especially north of Lloyd)… it’s just too unsafe, and there are too many reckless, inconsiderate drivers.

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      • MaxD February 5, 2015 at 12:06 pm

        Reaza,
        thanks for the reply. It is pretty uncomfortable to bike between Tillamook and Fremont. If the numbers/speeds are too high, I would love to the City add some diversion to keep traffic on MLK and create a safer bike route. Despite this street’s designation, it is a very residential street and the high speeds and volumes seem inappropriate

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  • Jack February 4, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    This new striping is a mess in the South-bound direction. People in two lanes are apparently supposed to treat the Broadway intersection as a merging zone, though there’s no signage to give anyone a heads up that the lanes are merging.

    Further, I’d be willing to bet that a majority of people coming through here on bikes are continuing South, rather than turning right onto Broadway. As such, the right lane should be a right-turn-only lane (for everyone) and the sharrows should be in the left lane.

    This could alternatively be made much simpler by ditching the 2 or 3 parking spots on the North side of 7th between Broadway and Wiedler. Then there could be continuous bike and standard lanes in both directions all the way through.

    Roads are generally straight and tend to maintain their width for long stretches. Striping lanes on a such a road should consist of laying down paint in a straight line.

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  • invisiblebikes February 4, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I go to lunch at Chipoodles (on Weidler) and also Jersey mikes (on NE Broadway) a lot and what I’ve noticed is they should remove the street parking (4 spots on NB 7th side) between Weidler and NE Broadway all together, because it isn’t used all that much and is a hassle for drivers to use any way… because its so short and they almost always are going to pull out then try and turn left on NE Broadway.

    Then PBOT could put in a bike lane going in both directions, making that a much safer and easier to use bike route.

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  • Steven Vance February 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    “Even so, sharrows have only very limited effectiveness and most road users either ignore them or don’t know what they mean.”

    (I’m speaking from an Illinois perspective, but I believe sharrows are treated almost identically in most states.)

    The Rules of the Road don’t require one to react to sharrows.

    Sharrows are simply to remind road users that this lane, like all lanes not expressly marked/identified to prohibit cycling, are shared lanes. They don’t require any certain behavior of motorists or bicyclists.

    One rule is always in place: drivers must pass with 3-feet (if that’s a law in your jurisdiction).

    If it’s different in Oregon, and sharrows mandate a certain kind of behavior, I’d like to know about it.

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    • matt February 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Page 6 of the Odot cyclist manual… You are right, most cyclists and motorists have no idea what they really mean.

      “Sharrow
      The symbol in the graphic to the
      right is a sharrow. It’s provided to
      show bicyclists where to ride on
      streets without bike lanes and to
      indicate to motorists where to expect
      bicyclists. It is placed along a line of
      travel that avoids opening car doors.”

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    • gutterbunnybikes February 4, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Oregon doesn’t have the 3 foot rule. And personally I find sharrows even on busier streets more comfortable than most bike lanes.

      The sharrow sign is in essence directions for bike riders, it is only a warning to motorists as a side effect.

      Those chevrons over the stickman in peril riding a bike aren’t there to tell you which to direction to head, but is actually telling you where in the lane you should place yourself while you ride your bike on that part of the road.

      You want to know where in the lane you belong on a sharrow, draw an imaginary bike lane between the chevrons painted on the road. As you can see in the pictures above, if you don’t (and ride to the right of the lane) it gets really sloppy and significantly more dangerous.

      Problem is that many bike riders don’t realize that this is why they were painted for. Feel free to look it up, here is the wiki on them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_lane_marking

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      • Spiffy February 5, 2015 at 8:13 am

        “Oregon doesn’t have the 3 foot rule.”

        Oregon has a 7 foot rule… at least for me, because I’m 6 feet tall… if you’re only 2 feet tall then it’s a 3 foot rule…

        the rule is that the car has to be far enough away to not run you over if you fall over…

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        • Michael Miller February 5, 2015 at 10:28 pm

          ORS 811.065(1)(a) says in part: “This paragraph does not apply to a driver operating a motor vehicle:
          […]
          (B) At a speed not greater than 35 miles per hour […]”

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Steven,

      I’m well-aware that sharrows don’t legally require any change in behavior. When I say they are ignored, I mean that I don’t think many people adjust even their mental approach to road use when they see one. People still don’t think bike riders belong in front of them, and people don’t tend to drive any differently when a sharrow is present… Not that hey are legally required to… But if they don’t alter their behavior than the markings have to meaning/power IMO.

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    • soren February 4, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      Sharrows are primarily used for wayfinding on “low-stress bicycle
      routes*” in Portland and are otherwise only used to fill in short gaps in other infrastructure.

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    • Spiffy February 5, 2015 at 8:14 am

      “The Rules of the Road don’t require one to react to sharrows.”

      that depends on the road… when I’m on Clinton if I ride over the sharrow like I’m supposed to that means that drivers will buzz by me illegally close…

      if I ride in the door zone like I’m not supposed to then there’s more room for cars to pass…

      so both the cyclist and driver should react, I should ride over the sharrows, and the cars should not pass…

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      • Chris Anderson February 5, 2015 at 8:38 am

        To me, on neighborhood streets “as far to the right as practicable” means whatever lane position prevents unsafe passes. Typically I look to the left tire track of motor vehicles for precedent. Ive found if my body is traveling more or less the same path as other driver’s bodies, unsafe passing almost never happens.

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        • soren February 5, 2015 at 11:55 am

          there is no ORS that addresses bike boulevards or sharrows so technically bike boulevards/greenways are just like any other road. i think the council should approve ordinances that empower cyclist right of way on bike boulevards, but to my knowledge these don’t exist.

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          • Chris Anderson February 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm

            I was talking about ALL neighborhood streets, not just Greenways. Anything less than taking the lane is not practicable.

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  • Jayson February 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I still prefer 9th ave to 7th.

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    • Reza February 5, 2015 at 12:42 am

      9th really, really, doesn’t need two lanes in each direction. At the very least put sharrows in the right hand lane. But better yet, buffered bike lanes.

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  • Tony T
    Tony T February 4, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    On a side note, I was just on Multnomah heading west and stopped ON the bike sensor to take a left on 7th and that thing does NOT work. And the lights on Multnomah seem to be timed to give people on bikes a succession of red lights. That was frustrating.

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  • Steve Scarich February 4, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    We have several sharrow spots over here in Bend. When they started using them, I asked the person in city government if there would be signs and enforcement, and her response was ‘we will do a press release letting the public know about them’, which is the same as saying No, nobody will have a clue what they are dealing with. Now, most drivers in Bend are pretty polite, but not all. I take the full lane when I get to a sharrow lane, and it seems to work. But, I am a fast and aggressive rider; this probably will not work for less assertive riders. Bend is a city where fewer and fewer people choose to use bikes as everyday transportation, partly because the roads are designed for cars, with an occasional nod to the bike rider.

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  • Adam February 4, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    What is all that car traffic doing on NE 7th, anyway?

    Haven’t they heard of the EIGHT dedicated lanes on NE Grand & NE MLK a staggering two blocks away?

    Confused.

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  • armando February 4, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    i ride this route most of the week. the problem with the the SB lane at ne 7th and broadway is if you don’t take the left lane and stay in the right, the drivers of the cars in the left lane will gun it at the green, and try and zoom in front of you, even though the light at weidler will still be red.
    riding NB there is now a bike lane, but with the parking at ne 7th and broadway removed, this give the drivers going straight room to take the bike lane to go around the drivers turning left.

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  • Terry D-M February 4, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Remove parking for the one block….NOT HARD. The businesses there even have lots….

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  • Barb & Max February 4, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I don’t think this area was a problem. It was 2 very short (and therefore very slow) blocks with speed regulated by the lights. It was a bit bunchy in those 2 blocks (Les Schwab to J in Box), then most cars have turned onto Broadway or Weidler while the bikes then go straight on their merry way. Feels like an unnecessary fix. Why would I want to block the cars tuning onto Broadway by staying right at a 7th/Broadway light?

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  • JJJJ February 5, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Would anyone happen to know the lane width in the 3rd pic where the two cyclists are waiting for the light?

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