Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on August 31st, 2015 at 10:50 am
Portland’s neighbors to the north are planning a project that could set an important precedent in Clark County: a street rebuild that’s currently set to include a raised, protected bike lane.
It’s part of the planned expansion of SE 1st Street between 164th and 177th avenues, which is currently a two-lane street. The changes would add six-foot-wide sidewalks, raised five-foot-wide bike lanes and six-foot wide drainage swales to each side of the street, plus a center turn lane.
This neighborhood is north and a bit east from 122nd Avenue in Portland, and the context is somewhat similar: the auto-oriented residential neighborhoods that cover most of the area don’t offer a connected grid, so 1st Street is one of the only ways to get east and west, on a bike or otherwise.
An open house is planned for tomorrow night, Tuesday, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Mill Plain Elementary School, 400 SE 164th Ave.
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Putting the bike lane next to the sidewalk will be a brand-new design to many residents, not to mention many city staffers and politicians, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see some resistance to the idea.
“We need to get a lot of cyclists out there,” Vancouver biking advocate Todd Boulanger wrote in an email Saturday.
Some issues that aren’t clear from the project’s website: how designers plan to manage bikes at intersections and driveways, whether the pavement beneath the bike lane will look any different than the pavement beneath the sidewalk, and whether there’s any reason not to put people biking and walking at slightly separate levels.
Whatever the details, though, it’d be a big deal if Vancouver were to start making raised bike lanes standard features of suburban road expansions. Unlike central cities such as Portland, suburbs regularly rebuild streets completely, which makes it very cheap to include modern curb-protected bike lanes like this one rather than the conventional painted bike lanes that are known not to appeal to most people.