Repaving on E Burnside brings newly buffered bike lanes

Posted by on June 29th, 2016 at 2:33 am

Yes, this guy doesn’t seem to know he’s riding in the buffer rather than the lane. Bike stencils or cross hatches would help.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Here’s an example of the sort of incremental bike-lane improvement we can hopefully expect to see more of now that the city has $9 million more per year to repave roads.

This spring, the city refinished East Burnside Street with a smooth new coat of asphalt. And when they did, they converted the 1990s-style door-zone bike lane to a more comfortable buffered bike lane between Interstate 205 and approximately 90th Avenue.

It’s not a major improvement but it does extend what was already a buffered bike lane on Burnside’s bridge across I-205 by about a third of a mile. This is the most comfortable crossing of I-205 anywhere south of Marine Drive, so it’s nice to improve the comfort a bit further west.

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Burnside’s bike lanes remain tantalizingly incomplete — there’s a maddeningly short gap right around 82nd, plus the big one between East 13th Avenue and East 68th — but thanks to the I-205 crossing, the lanes seem to get plenty of use. I had three strangers in my riding cohort at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and passed someone coming the other way at 82nd.

Why the city didn’t add some plastic bollards to create a floating parking lane and a protected curbside bike lane on this short stretch? I’m not sure. It’d have required some parking removal near the intersections but the parking lane seems to be barely in use today. Garbage collection, sweeping and plowing might have been part of it.

Incremental changes like these are useful, but without political action they’ll never amount to a complete, comfortable biking network.

In any case, this is a good example of how “maintenance” work in a city with bike-friendly staff can improve biking here and there. And it’s also a good illustration of the fact that without political action, incremental changes like these will never amount to a complete, comfortable biking network. This was a nice way to carve a little bit more bike space out of what had been needlessly wide auto lanes, but the moment an actual tradeoff was required — better bike lanes or auto parking, a choice forced because the street narrows west of 90th — the status quo wins. On that stretch, parking remains, now sitting atop a beautiful new coat of asphalt.

Removing parking here would have had political costs in a city with many battles to fight. But it’s a good indication that Portland will never, ever achieve its transportation goals without some sort of change to the political game.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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50 Comments
  • Avatar
    Chris I June 29, 2016 at 8:35 am

    The fact that they maintained parking west of 90th where the road narrows, given that this is a low density neighborhood with off-street parking at nearly every residence, is maddening. The westbound bike lane between 82nd and 90th is dangerously narrow. I was really hoping they would do something during this repaving project.

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      Adam L. June 29, 2016 at 9:34 am

      I can’t believe they didn’t remove the parking west of 90th either. I hop on Burnside at 86th and head west. The blocks are narrow enough, that there are only two houses on per block on Burnside, meaning each house also has parking in front of it on the N-S numbered streets. Nobody (well, one house, there are three on one of the block faces) would lose the ability to park directly in front of the house.

      I only see about 1 vehicle parked per two blocks when I head in in the morning. It would of only affected 4-5 vehicles total. This is the low hanging fruit they need to be getting to make real progress.

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      rick June 29, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      lame priorities

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    Todd Hudson June 29, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I use this when getting to points east of 205. It’s a lot better, though yeah, incomplete. And ODOT’s work on the 82nd intersection is also incomplete (and terrible). Over the winter/spring, PBOT ground it down and left it for a few months, which was a little frustrating (especially when riding over it with a cargo bike and 150 lbs of bricks). Also, I wish someone would address the risky spot where the MAX tracks cross at 97th – they are at an angle where a person not paying attention will easily get their tire stuck and crash.

    PDX Transformation Bureau, if you are reading this, can someone throw down some cones at the stretch along the fire station? Between 73rd and 74th.

    The lane-less section Michael describe can be avoided by taking NE 68th, which goes directly to the Everett-Davis bikeway. Though that short stretch of NE 68th can be dicey during morning rush hour – it’s a fork, and shortcutting motorists take it without slowing down. Terry D-M, you mentioned pushing to get 68th turned into a cul-de-sac; you’re our only hope!

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      matt June 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      “Also, I wish someone would address the risky spot where the MAX tracks cross at 97th – they are at an angle where a person not paying attention will easily get their tire stuck and crash.”

      Why would somebody not be paying attention and not see the tracks? If that’s the case they deserve to crash…

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        KristenT June 30, 2016 at 11:06 am

        Maybe they’re busy checking behind them on upcoming traffic, or are looking at traffic from the side, or at traffic coming at them that might turn…. Or they’re unfamiliar with the area and are looking around for their destination or turn… There are a lot of reasons why someone might not see the tracks.

        Also: No one deserves to crash.

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      David Hampsten June 29, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      The section of Burnside over I-205 is owned and managed by ODOT; I don’t know how far west from there their jurisdiction extends.

      Burnside east of 205, all the way to Gresham (which starts at 162nd) is owned by PBOT, but effectively & legally controlled by TriMet.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. June 29, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Incremental change like this isn’t good enough. Needs to be protected bike lanes. A two-foot buffer won’t change driver behavior.

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      Todd Hudson June 29, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Dude, this is a vast improvement, and it’s a lot safer. And wider. And smoother. I ride it all the time.

      Even if they did what you stated, you’d still be pitching sour grapes from Mt. Olympus.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. June 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

        Do we only want to make improvements for people who “ride it all the time” or do we want to also attract those people who would ride if it was safe and comfortable to do so?

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          Middle of the Road guy June 29, 2016 at 1:02 pm

          “safe and comfortable” is subjective. After a certain point, it isn’t worth the investment for smaller and smaller gains.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. June 29, 2016 at 2:21 pm

            Sure, but that point should be separated cycleways, not slightly wider door zone bike lanes.

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              David Hampsten June 29, 2016 at 11:08 pm

              I agree that Burnside could be better, as you say, but given very limited resources, I’d rather spend money on protected bike lanes on nearby Glisan between 82nd and 122nd, or on Washington/Stark. Burnside works much better than either of those two, but the others connect directly to jobs and businesses, while Burnside does not.

              My point is you need to prioritize improvements, fight the battles worth fighting, rather than fix a street that isn’t very important to begin with.

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            Alex Reedin June 29, 2016 at 2:39 pm

            In my opinion, that “certain point” is when our protected bike lanes are 12 ft wide each direction and people can already bike along side-by-side-by-side with space for others to bike past them and we’re talking about widening the lane to make it more comfortable for people to bike past side-by-side-by-side dawdlers. Right now seems to me like close to the point of maximum incremental gains – we are moving, albeit very slowly, towards creating a basic bike network that is comfortable for an average Portlander to get from most anywhere on the East side to most anywhere else on the east side (that is close enough).When it’s complete, it will turn biking from a fringe, mid-single-digit way to get around to a mainstream, high-double-digit way to get around.

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        ethan June 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

        How many kids or elderly do you see riding in these bike lanes, comfortably?

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        Spiffy June 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

        it’s a vast improvement AND it’s not good enough…

        you’re both right!

        yes, it’s better… yes, we still have a long way to go…

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      Justin June 29, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Adam, I for one appreciate the fact that you are uninterested “ok”, relative improvements. We need to advocate for the best treatments possible!

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      Ted G June 30, 2016 at 7:49 am

      I am hoping you are not under the impression that repeatedly making comments to blog posts on this website is somehow an act of advocacy. There are lots of opportunities to work with others that are actually engaging with people and listening to other points of view in order to make changes. I urge you to take your energy and enthusiasm for better bike infrastructure to an organization that could put it to good use.

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    ethan June 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

    I thought that all bike lanes had to be protected now, or at the very least an official explanation of why they weren’t protected had to be given.

    Where is the explanation of why these lanes aren’t protected? Where is the explanation of why on-street parking is more important than safe bike routes?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. June 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

      PBOT circumvents public process for driver-enhancement projects (i.e. re-paving) while bike advocates have to fight for scraps for a year to get two diverters put in. We never had the chance to make the case for protected bike lanes.

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    patrick June 29, 2016 at 9:27 am

    “plus the big one between East 13th Avenue and East 68th” — I had to read that a few times to make sure it wasn’t a typo.

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      Spiffy June 29, 2016 at 10:36 am

      same here… I hadn’t even thought that the part of the numbered streets that are actively crossing Burnside have no NE or SE until they move away from Burnside…

      where does Burnside St reside? likely the middle W Naito Pkwy/99W since Google shows the bridge is E Burnside St…

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        patrick June 30, 2016 at 10:35 am

        Interesting. I actually meant that it’s astonishing that there are 60 blocks of Burnside in central Portland that lack any bike facilities at all. it could be a great connector/route through the entire city all the way out to Gresham.

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        Beeblebrox June 30, 2016 at 1:41 pm

        It’s officially called E Burnside St east of the Willamette River and W Burnside St west of the river. Every other street in the city is N, NE, SE, NW, or SW, so Burnside is unique in using E and W.

        There’s been some talk of converting the weird addresses south of South Waterfront area that start with zeros (basically negative addresses) to use a “S” prefix, which would create a sliver of a 6th quadrant.

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          maccoinnich June 30, 2016 at 2:05 pm

          Is changing the leading zero designation actively being considered? It’s confusing as hell.

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            David Hampsten June 30, 2016 at 10:37 pm

            It’s already being used by PBOT and the postal service for over 15 years (and probably much longer than that). It is basically the area between Naito/Viewpoint Terrace (technically, east of SW 1st) and the river. It wasn’t controversial when there were so few people living there, back when it was mostly industrial. If you go on Portland Maps or even Google Maps, you’ll find that addresses have just a two digit address between SW 1st & Naito and a single leading zero between Naito and Water, then a 01 from Water to Corbett, then 02 plus the house address from Corbett east to Kelly. The addressing tops out at 08 near the river in the waterfront area. You are right, it is a “6th” quadrant, a very small narrow one, a bit like the “Strip District” of Pittsburgh.

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            Gary B July 5, 2016 at 11:46 am

            I hope so. As someone with a “01” address, it gets tiring explaining it!

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    Spiffy June 29, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I’ve noticed a trend lately of them not painting the inside bike lane stripe and it’s leading to more people not parking close enough to the curb (law says no further than 12″) in order to stay out of the bike lane… this is cheap and lazy behavior that should stop… PAINT THE LINE!

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      Chris I June 30, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I noticed this as well. You can even see where the lead crew marked the line, but the painting truck didn’t paint it. What the heck?

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    John Lascurettes June 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

    That PBOT continues to paint “buffers” without hash marks drives me batty.

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      B. Carfree June 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      That they paint buffers in at all drives me batty. Why not just let the bike lane be that 1.5-2 feet wider? Those who want to stay towards the right side of the bike lane, usually fully in the door-zone, could still do so. Those who prefer to stay closer to the sight lines for motorists would also be able to do so without riding over often-slick thermoplastic.

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        Social Engineer June 29, 2016 at 4:03 pm

        Because drivers can – and often do – mistake a wide bike lane for a travel lane or a parking lane.

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        Bill Stites June 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm

        The buffers serve to create more space between lane users. Both motorists and cyclists will tend to honor the white lines of their respective lanes [with the exception of many curves]. They will each also tend to feel entitled to all of ‘their’ space.
        I believe they work well, as they seem to achieve behavioral modification for reducing chances of contact and subsequent injuries.

        While riding on thermoplastic is def not desirable, I think most of the buffers are paint.

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          David Hampsten June 30, 2016 at 10:46 pm

          When PBOT put in the buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate between I-205 and 122nd, the police started to pull over locals turning into local streets and give out tickets. Apparently in Oregon it is illegal to drive over the hatched area at any time, so the locals saw PBOT as an agency working in cahoots with the police to entrap and frame poor minority East Portland drivers. PBOT was of course appalled. My guess, IMO, is that PBOT is trying the 2-foot unhatched version “for awhile”, then will later repaint them as 3-foot hatched buffers after locals get used to them and the change is not so controversial.

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      JeffS(egundo) June 29, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      John, the city design standard is a buffer at 3′ or less, you get no hash marks. I believe this is from the NACTO bike design guide. I, too, really dislike this. should be 2′ or less, IMO.

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    Jordan Norris June 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I use these lanes all the time and they are very nice. I would really like to see the gap at 82nd closed. Especially in the afternoon commute that section can be really hair raising. The crossing of the MAX tracks could also be improved. It is a little rough.

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    maccoinnich June 29, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I wish PBOT could be a little more consistent about doing this with every repaving project. Some recent missed opportunities:

    – NE Tillamook in the Hollywood District
    – NW Broadway, which three years ago was supposedly going to change to pro-time parking to allow a wider bike lane in the morning peak (http://bikeportland.org/2013/05/06/nw-broadway-to-get-10-foot-buffered-bike-lanes-86389)
    – NW 16th Ave, between Davis and Glisan

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      Social Engineer June 29, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      These stealth repaintings also come with little to no public process, so neighbors can’t even organize in favor of better facilities. Of course it’s a double-edged sword (inviting potential hordes of angry opposition), so I understand why PBOT doesn’t do it.

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        lop July 1, 2016 at 9:04 am

        Here is a list of some upcoming paving projects to push the city to repaint with bike lanes when they’re done.

        https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/578239

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          David Hampsten July 2, 2016 at 1:19 am

          “NE Halsey (92nd to Weidler) $2,240,000” (#6 on the list) is the section of Halsey with the steep bridge over I-205 that everyone hates. A good opportunity to shift those barriers?

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      soren June 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      NE Tillamook in the Hollywood District

      Bikeloudpdx asked PBOT to significantly widen the very narrow NE Tillamook bike lane but they did not come through, IMO. Roger Geller says it was widened a bit but I honestly have trouble discerning the difference.

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    Terry D-M June 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    When I attended the emergency safety meeting a year ago, I suggested this as policy in repaving projects. Pbot removed one row of parking when there was two rows, but did not have city policy to back them up against neighbors for complete parking removal. With the new comprehensive plan, there is more strength policy wise for the next time.

    As far as 68 th at Burnside is concerned, get all 11 households on 68 th in writing to say “Why yes, we would prefer to eliminate cut through auto traffic and don’t mind driving around the block” then I will push for a micro-park bike rest stop there. Lots of room, perfect location for commuters.

    As far as the Burnside gap between the Greenway drop off from Ankeny/ Couch at 41 st east to 68 th. This is a neighborhood corridor, so it will be out of compliance with the new comprehensive plan. That Pro Tem commute lane will need to go……bike lanes here we come.

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    rick June 29, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Lower speed limits?

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      Terry D-M June 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      Just done. Both Burnside got dropped to 30, and Stark-Thorburn to 25. It took multiple meetings and a poking via email from Alissa Keny-Guyer to ODOT to finally get approval……thanks Alissa!

      The speed radar board at 61 st averages about 35 in a 30…… but it is a start at least.

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        David Hampsten July 2, 2016 at 1:24 am

        Not really related, but when a jogger was killed recently here in Greensboro, NCDOT lowered the speed limit on the suburban road from 50 mph to 45, but most folks still do 60. I figure in a couple decades Greensboro may actually see speeds like in Portland.

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    RF June 29, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    and it’s generally full of glass.

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    Mark Smith July 1, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Paint, the tried and true buffer against 3,000lbs of metal. Armadillos, curbs or jersey barriers, so untested.

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