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Safety advocates uneasy about striping bike lane across Steel Bridge onramp

Posted by on July 8th, 2016 at 11:36 am

naito davis couch

New striping near the Steel Bridge at Naito will be done in the next few days.
(Image: Portland Bureau of Transportation)

Safety advocates are trying to balance enthusiasm for the city’s newly announced Naito bike lanes with concern over one key detail.

After nine years of delay, the plan to close the “Naito Gap” in the next few days drew joy from people like Reza Farhoodi, planning and transportation committee co-chair at the Pearl District Neighborhood Association and a member of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. But Farhoodi said it would be a “terrible mistake” for the city not to use a right-turn arrow signal to protect bikes from right-turning autos as the bikes head north across the Steel Bridge onramp.

Today, Naito’s northbound bike lane ends immediately south of the onramp. It starts up again 1,500 feet to the northwest. As we reported yesterday, converting a passing lane to a wide buffered bike lane in each direction will create a major new bike route between northwest Portland, the Willamette River and downtown. It could easily carry 1,000 bikes a day within a few years.

But Naito’s onramp to the Steel Bridge at Davis carries 450 to 500 cars during the peak hour alone, all of them making a shallow-angle turn across a bike lane in which people will mostly be heading straight.

“Putting an unprotected right turn lane to the left of a bicycle lane is substandard practice and just puts cyclists at risk of right hook collisions,” Farhoodi said in an email Thursday morning. “There is a reason why practitioners almost never use this design.”

(Farhoodi, whose day job is with an active transportation planning firm that often competes for city contracts, softened his judgment somewhat in later emails, after continuing to learn about the situation — see below.)

A signal would at least triple project cost, city says

The high-traffic right-turn on N Broadway at Williams, installed in 2010, uses red arrows and a bike signal phase.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Each of the two northbound lanes on Naito already has its own hanging signal here, and the city’s plan would convert the rightmost lane to a right-turn-only lane. So why not create a bike-specific signal phase, like the one that prevents right hooks across the river at NE Williams and Broadway?

Portland Bureau of Transportation staff said Thursday that though delay from a new signal phase might risk causing southbound traffic to back up across the railroad tracks, the “major” obstacle to a protected signal phase here is money.

The Naito project, PBOT spokeswoman Hannah Schafer said, is funded through the bureau’s “Missing Links” program, which has an annual budget of $75,000. Most “Missing Links” projects cost $5,000 to $10,000; Shafer said restriping the newly repaved roadway will cost $15,000 (with Missing Links covering the full expense). A signal would bring the total cost to $45,000 or so in a “best case” scenario, she said.

The additional $30,000 would include “a bike signal and right turn only signal including all labor, materials, engineering, traffic control, and a structural analysis of the existing mast arm pole on the north side of the intersection,” she said.

“Missing Links never pays for signals,” PBOT project manager Scott Cohen said. “It just doesn’t happen.”

A mixing zone is possible but would have problems too

perceived intersection safety annotated

A 2013 study by Portland State University found that many people riding in protected bike lanes feel unsafe mixing with autos at turn lanes.
(Image: PeopleForBikes)

Portland Bureau of Transportation engineer Mark Haines argued that the striping proposed for Naito wouldn’t make the situation worse. He noted that there is an uphill grade to Naito at this point, making it less likely that people biking will overtake people in turning cars.

“I this case I think cyclists and drivers can work together at lower speeds,” he said. “And ultimately I think it’s the driver’s responsibility to yield.”

Though turning vehicles must always yield to vehicles that are moving straight, many Oregon drivers don’t realize that this applies to bike lanes, too. The city’s Naito plan calls for a zebra-striped green crossbike across the intersection, plus a new sign reminding people to yield to bikes before turning.

Another complication: this project is only happening at all because Naito has just been repaved north of Davis.

“We saw the fresh pavement, decided this was the moment,” Schafer said.

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The new asphalt starts immediately north of the onramp — meaning that any striping changes next to or south of the onramp would require costly stripe removal work.

Despite that, Haines said the city considered a green bike box, a mixing zone that would prompt bikes and turning cars to negotiate their way into the same lane, or markings to move the bike lane to the left of the right-turn lane, like the one at Naito and Morrison.

But because any variety of mixing zone would be so busy with right-turning cars, Haines said, “that would be very unhelpful for some people too.”

If people feel the new bike crossing is unsafe, Haines said, they can choose to move into the center of a general travel lane with their bike and go straight across the intersection. (There’s an exemption for this situation in the Oregon law that requires people biking to use a bike lane if present.)

Haines also noted that thanks to the new right-turn lane, people biking will at least have more certainty that any car in the right lane is going to turn.

City and advocates hope for more funding soon

steel onramp

Looking north on Naito at Davis.
(Image: Google Street View)

Biking advocates said Thursday that though they understand the city’s position, they would like to see more changes as soon as possible. Here’s how Farhoodi put it later Thursday, after learning more about the city’s reasoning:

I trust the professional judgment of PBOT staff, but think that they will receive a lot of negative feedback about a design that many people perceive to be unsafe because it manufactures conflict. For me, my major concern is that this could give cyclists a false sense of security compared to a design that drops the bicycle lane in favor of a shared turning/bike lane for a short stretch. Neither of these are preferable to a protected turn signal, but that’s the reality of the funding situation right now.

But we’ve waited too long to close the Naito Gap to rethink it now, and there is also the “safety in numbers” argument that closing the gap will increase bicycle volumes on Naito as a result of improved connectivity. In any case, I sincerely hope that PBOT’s proposed design will be safe for all users, and that they will revisit this location soon when more funding is available, perhaps with the upcoming Central City Multimodal Safety Project.

Here’s Sarah Newsum, a spokeswoman for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance:

In a confusing intersection, such as the one at NW Davis and Naito, we will always advocate for physical separation and signal differentiation. Ideally coupled with a bike box and “No right turn on red” signs. We’d like to see this intersection mirror that of NE Broadway and N Williams, with a separate advanced signal for people riding bikes. Signs telling people driving to watch out for bikes do not provide the necessary clarity or safety for any road user. …

The striping plan isn’t necessarily making that intersection less safe than its current design, however, additional traffic on the street will bring a potential increase in conflicts.

And Ian Stude, chair of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, in response to a question about a red-turn arrow:

• Very excited to see this gap completed!
• Red turn arrow you suggest would provide some added protection for riders, but a red turn arrow does not prohibit a turn on red, so it would need to accompanied by a “no turn on red” designation as well.
• My suggestion for reducing potential right hook conflicts would be to use the space between Couch and Davis to create a merge point, moving the bike lane to the left of the turn lane prior to the intersection at Davis.

Schafer, Cohen and Haines said they expect the work to go ahead as planned in the next few days. They hope the street can be further improved in the future.

“We’ve actually been able to make some pretty big impacts for people,” Schafer said. “I think this is the first phase of what we hope to be additional improvements to come. … As always, we will be monitoring this area closely after the striping is complete. The safety of Portland’s road users is the bureau’s highest priority.”

“Maybe with the permanent Better Naito, if that ever gets budgeted again,” Haines added. “We’re hopeful that it will.”

Correction 12:35 pm: An earlier version of this post gave the wrong estimated cost for a combined restriping/signalization project.

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

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78 Comments
  • i wear many hats July 8, 2016 at 11:52 am

    The city should put in bollards and more paint like the SW 405 on ramp on 13th. Require a 90 degree turn @ 5-10 mph to get on the Steele bridge.

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    • eawrist July 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Agreed. I am unsure why narrowing the turn is almost never on the table. It seems like an easy strategy to reduce speed= chance of collisions.

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      • David Hampsten July 8, 2016 at 4:31 pm

        Because TriMet buses also use this ramp, and they can’t easily make such sharp turns. It is also worth noting that the Steel bridge itself is “privately owned” by Union Pacific Railroad, and probably they more than ODOT have some control over what does or doesn’t get changed.

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        • Michael Miller July 8, 2016 at 9:26 pm

          No, I don’t believe any trimet buses use the ramp at Davis to access the Steel. They all access it via Everett.

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    • Spiffy July 8, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      since this is also state highway 99W I’m surprised ODOT is letting this “road diet” happen…

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      • Mark Smith July 9, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        It’s a half measure for killing other cyclists.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

    We’re creating bad design because of 500 cars during peak hour? Just close the on-ramp entirely. Problem solved.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty July 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    We would never allow this design for cars, putting a right-turn lane to the left of a go-straight lane. Never. Ever. Why is it ok to do this for bikes?

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    • Nick Falbo July 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      Because bikes are not cars. If people driving are capable of looking for pedestrians before they turn right, then they are capable of looking for cyclists too.

      I agree with PBOT that that the proposed striping wouldn’t make the situation worse than today. In fact, the “safety in numbers” effect is likely to improve safety for users of Naito due to the increased presence of people biking created by a full bike lane connection.

      While a bike lane to the right of a right turn only lane is a discouraged practice, let me put forth a thought exercise between two less-than-ideal solutions. Would you rather have:

      A bike lane to the right of a through/right lane where the drivers in the adjacent lane *might* be turning right.

      OR

      A bike lane to the right of a right-turn-only lane where you *know* that every driver in the adjacent lane wants to turn right.

      To me there is comfort in the certainty of knowing every vehicle to the left of me is a potential conflict.

      There is a striping only solution to this situation – it’s called a drop lane transition, where a bike lane ends a block up, and then reestablished 50 ft later to the left of the new right turn only lane. You can see this in practice on NE Weidler headed toward Grand Ave.

      https://goo.gl/maps/RCDNVHs193t

      This is a highly stressful design, and I’m not surprised that PBOT is thinking outside the box to find a more comfortable, if unconventional, solution.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 8, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        They would not be looking for bikes when they are looking for pedestrians… here, the bikes are coming up from behind, perhaps at some speed, in the driver’s blind spot, in a place drivers are not conditioned to look (because when else to people approach from behind and to the right in order to go straight in a right-turn lane?)

        We should not be engineering solutions that require a driver to look for things that are not expected and hope everyone does the right thing.

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        • Nick Falbo July 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm

          We do this all the time, all over Portland.

          Every single bike lane in this city runs to the right of travel lanes where a person driving might turn right. Suggesting that this should not be done takes us down a path where most bike lanes should be removed. This very scenario is the primary vehicular cyclist opposition to bike lanes and protected infrastructure.

          But overwhelmingly, people driving do indeed do the right thing. Sometimes I’m astonished at how well Portland drivers do at waiting for bicyclists to clear the lane before turning right.

          I don’t want to diminish the threat of the right hook. It can be a deadly crash type, and we obviously don’t want to create conditions that make such a crash more likely. I’m not convinced this design does that.

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          • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm

            My hand and ankle are still healing from a left-hook on Williams. I have it on video. Two cameras, actually. Doesn’t mean anything because the driver didn’t stick around.

            I’m lucky.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm

            When this arrangement happens at a signal, the situation is more dangerous than when it happens at an unsignalized intersection. When there is a signal change, you often have drivers at rest mixing with a cyclist approaching at speed, which is very different than a situation where a driver passes a cyclist and is aware of their presence before planning their right turn.

            In this case, we are also dealing with potentially higher speeds (highway-like onramp feel), a less-than-right angle turn (that feels more like going straight than making a real turn), and there is plenty of opportunity to provide a “mixing zone” prior to the intersection to avoid the situation.

            And finally, just because we did something in the past doesn’t make it good practice.

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          • David Hampsten July 8, 2016 at 4:22 pm

            Nick, why would you not do a bike box at that north-bound intersection on Naito, in addition to the green bike lane? Wouldn’t help slow right-turning cars a bit, or at least make them somewhat more cautious? And since Davis is two-way, might not cyclist need to turn left from Naito as well?

            And why isn’t there a bike box clear across on the south bound lane, for bikes to get to the waterfront?

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            • David Hampsten July 8, 2016 at 4:44 pm

              I take that back, no Trimet buses use this turn. They use a different ramp off of Everett.

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            • Nick Falbo July 11, 2016 at 8:26 am

              Sure. A bike box would help with visibility during a red signal, but not during a long green. I’m not sure of the signal timing here, but I’d assume that Naito is given the majority of the green time, reducing the effectiveness of any bike box installation.

              A couple other minor things that might be particularly useful here:

              – Delineator posts to slow turning traffic.
              – An active light-up ‘yield to bikes’ sign. A super fancy version of this is at NE Couch & Grand Ave, but simpler (cheaper) designs are available.

              There is no doubt that a protected bike signal would be the best solution for user comfort at a location like this.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu July 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm

          Won’t bikes be going uphill at that point? Which means most cyclists will be going fairly slowly, 10 mph or so. Right hooks are most dangerous when cyclists are going fast: drivers don’t expect a bike to come up so quickly, they turn right, the cyclist can’t stop or turn in time, and a severe accident can happen. When cyclists are going slowly, right hook accidents are fewer and less severe.

          A close analogy to this situation is the right turn that drivers make from the eastbound Hawthorne Bridge to get to 99. That is also a fairly shallow turn, that can be taken at some speed, across a bike lane that is uphill until near that point.

          That Hawthorne Bridge/99 point has not been a safety problem, even though some BP readers insisted that it would be (even claiming that the plastic wands would hide cyclists from drivers’ vision – a claim that could only be made by someone who has never driven across the bridge). There was some initial nervousness, cyclists and drivers had to figure it out, and now cyclists sail through the point with cars smoothly slowing.

          I think the same will happen on the Naito/Steel Bridge point. No doubt some signage or road markings will eventually be added. Big illuminated “Yield To Bikes” signs come to mind.

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          • Eric Leifsdad July 10, 2016 at 8:59 am

            Electric bikes go uphill at 20mph.

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            • Steve Scarich July 11, 2016 at 9:46 am

              Off-topic, but I was talking to a bike shop employee yesterday, and he showed me his self-built cargo bike. Extended front end for cargo; he said he has had a total load of over 500 lbs. Don’t know if I believe that. He created some kind of electric assist, that he said got him up to 55 mph on gradual downhill, and 40+ on flat terrain. He invested $7000+. Yowza! He also said that cops occasionally pull him over; something to do with going over 20 mph while not peddling ??

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              • Eric Leifsdad July 11, 2016 at 11:58 pm

                He might be operating an unregistered moped. The rather narrow definition is all that makes an electric bike legally a bicycle: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.258 and http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.405

                That said, an illegal 1-2hp bike is still 30hp short of the tamest motorcycles.

                Hitting 55 on a downhill with 1000W is a maybe stretch pushing all that air, but the would it have a low enough gearing to push 500lb up a steep hill at 20mph?

                At highway grades, a small 250W motor is enough to sustain 16-20mph with some moderate pedal effort.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm

        There’s plenty of room for the bike lane to shift to the right and build a protected intersection island. I’m assuming that’s over budget, however.

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        • Britt Conroy July 9, 2016 at 5:00 pm

          If there is only money now for striping and not for better signalization or a traffic island, might it make sense to eliminate a SB Naito lane between Couch and Davis in order to create a NB parkway/buffer and a more acute angle for autos turning from NB Natio to the Steel Bridge onramp? This would mean one block of a permanent Naito Parkway would be complete, and PBOT would be able to maintain the above-pictured lane configuration on NB Naito (left turn, straight, right turn, bike lane/parkway) both now and when a permanent Naito Parkway is built. Or, is there a different plan for NB Naito when the Parkway is built? Would a permanent Naito Parkway remove one of these three NB Naito auto lanes – meaning PBOT’s current striping effort is just temporary – or is the plan to carve out a parkway in the grass on the east side of Naito, as Adam H suggests above? As for traffic impacts of removing a SB Naito auto lane, PBOT traffic counts at https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ce8d1f5053141f1bc0f5bd7905351e6 don’t show how many autos join SB Naito from EB Davis, as the counts are only done on Naito north of this intersection. Has the City weighed the tradeoffs of striping for a more congested SB Naito for autos between Couch and Davis versus the benefits to cyclists of a safer turn angle for cars onto the onramp?

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          • Britt Conroy July 9, 2016 at 5:47 pm

            In re-reading this article, I see that “any striping changes next to or south of the onramp would require costly stripe removal work.” This makes my questions above moot. Still, has PBOT published figures for the cost of removing striping, in general, and might re-striping the Davis-Couch section of Naito to better protect cyclists from right hooks serve as a worthwhile first step toward a permanent complete Better Naito?

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  • BB July 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Where is the cost-benefit analysis of the loss of a human life? In particular in regards to a preventable situation made dangerous by claims that creating a safe bicycling environment is not cost effective? I would like to see how the dollars stack, since that is apparently all we care about..

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  • Jason H July 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    At the very least a short mixing zone to move the bike lane to the left of the right turn lane right after Couch would be 10x better in the meantime with a bike phase light/no right on red the ultimate goal.

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  • Spiffy July 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    If people feel the new bike crossing is unsafe, Haines said, they can choose to move into the center of the turn lane with their bike and go straight across the intersection. (This is ambiguously legal, due to the Oregon law that requires people biking to use a bike lane if present … unless it’s unsafe.)

    it’s not ambiguous, it’s illegal… you’re not allowed to go forward in a turn-only lane… that said, I think every right-turn only lane should have an “except bicycles” status because sometimes it’s just easier to be out of the way in that turn lane when you’re proceeding forward…

    it’s perfectly legal, not ambiguous at all, to not ride in a bike lane that’s to the right of a right-turn only lane… it’s written into the law as an exception…

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      You’re right – I’d forgotten about that exemption. I’ll fix.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 8, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Spiffy: NW 18th and Everett has this precise thing- bikes straight, cars right-turn-only: https://goo.gl/vENcsf

      I prefer to be to the left of a right-turn lane, or at least very far left in the right-turn lane. I fear a car overtaking to do a fast right hook.

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    • Alex July 10, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Is there law that specifically prohibits bicycles from using turn lanes to go straight through an intersection? I ask because Eugene has tons of intersections that require cyclists to use the turn lane, either because the bike beg button is there or through sharrow placement, and I don’t remember ever having seen an ‘Except Bicycles’ sign. (here is an example on an ODOT-owned intersection: https://goo.gl/maps/MtdTwSe9QhP2)

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      • Alex July 10, 2016 at 8:56 am

        Related legal question: are sharrows considered bike lanes under ORS 801.155? From what I can tell, sharrows are not specifically address in statute under that name.

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      • B. Carfree July 10, 2016 at 2:09 pm

        Those beg buttons in right turn lanes are relics from (unlicensed) former traffic engineer Tom Larsen’s reign. Note that there is a sensor in the straight-through travel lane that can pick up bikes. The beg button was placed prior to adding the right turn lane and was never removed.

        Unfortunately, another legacy of Mr. Larsen is that the sensor only gives a two-second green, which is insufficient for most cyclists to come anywhere near clearing the intersection and has led to a couple of deaths on that roadway.

        One other thing you should know about those beg buttons: the bus has the ability to get a green light on demand. Such a demanded green will override a green for pedestrians from their beg button and for anyone who has tripped the sensor. However, apparently the bike beg buttons aren’t properly hooked up because one can get a simultaneous green light for the crossing bus and from the bike beg buttons. It’s a mighty scary, if rare, situation to be in.

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        • Alex July 11, 2016 at 6:52 pm

          Thanks for the info. I thought that might be the case. Seems odd that ODOT doesn’t even check that local jurisdictions are applying legal treatments to their intersections, though. Matt Rodrigues seems to have a much better grip than Larsen did.

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  • Chris I July 8, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I don’t understand why they are precluded from creating a mixing zone. I know that the repaving stops at the intersection, but it would take very little work to remove and re-stripe the section just to the south. This intersection is worse than a typical right hook intersection because drivers are not turning a full 90* to the ramp. This leads many to take it nearly at full speed, which greatly heightens the right-hook risk.

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  • Mark S July 8, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    At the N Interstate Ave northbound intersection with N Larrabee Ave, next to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the bike lane moves to the left for bike traffic continuing north & the right turn only lane begins at this point. Since the City already addresses this same issue at this intersection, I am sure they can use this experience to design the intersection on Naito Parkway to be more accomodating for cyclists.

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    • Buzz July 8, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Same design at SE Madison and Grand, SE Broadway at Larrabee and N Interstate and Larrabee. I don’t at all understand why the city gave up on this design and now insists on putting bike lanes to the right of a right-turn-only lane. Super bad design decision.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      All this design does is move the conflict further up the roadway and sandwich riders in-between two car lanes. It’s also bad design.

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      • Buzz July 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm

        Sorry, but I don’t think so. Anyway, even if I agreed with you the City appears to be choosing the worse of two evils, which is ass-backwards.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 3:42 pm

          Why not? Drivers still have to merge across the bike lane. It’s just done before the intersection instead of at the intersection.

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          • bradwagon July 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm

            Seeing as intersections are more likely to already have conflict I’d be glad to negotiate traffic away from them when possible. Car traffic turning across bike ways at an intersection should be avoided at all costs. Traffic and bikes merging / crossing when they are both traveling in the same direction is something I prefer over negotiating a hard angle crossing at an intersection.

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  • Adam July 8, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    This is a key concern of mine too, and was actually the first thought that came into my head when I read abut it. People absolutely FLY up into those on ramps from Naito, since they are slip road ramps and not 90 degree turns.

    Flashing “Yield to bikes when turning” lights, like the one at MLK & NE Couch will be essential.

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    • Mark July 10, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Yeah, except that we shouldn’t need flashing neon billboards to explain a confusing intersection, we should just design it to not be dangerous and confusing in the first place.

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  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 8, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Why does restriping come from the Missing Links budget? Wouldn’t it be part of the actual project’s budget?

    And why can’t I get a response from anyone at the city about my concerns on this project? It doesn’t even appear there’s a way to give (one-way) feedback.

    “And ultimately I think it’s the driver’s responsibility to yield.”

    That’s going to be awkward when we requote it after a fatality at that location.

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  • Buzz July 8, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Bike lanes – of any sort – should NEVER be placed to the right of a right-turn-only lane. End. Of. Story.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. July 8, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      Not true. A protected intersection with separate signal phasing and turning islands is standard practice in the Netherlands and far safer than a “mixing zone” and the terrible design where a bike lane is sandwiched in-between the turning lane and straight lane. The latter design only moves the conflict further up the roadway.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 8, 2016 at 1:42 pm

        There may well be better solutions, but a mixing lane allows people to focus on one thing at a time. First mix, then turn. Doing both simultaneously is a recipe for cyclist death.

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        • ethan July 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

          It’s a bad design when drivers assume they always have the right of way. No one seems to know what those little triangles or signs mean.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty July 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

            True, but to be fair, where else do drivers have to watch for people coming from within their blindspot, and appearing in their path as they accelerate onto an onramp.

            It’s a terrible design.

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            • Dan A July 8, 2016 at 5:59 pm

              Driving is too hard for some people.

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      • Buzz July 8, 2016 at 2:22 pm

        Keep dreaming Adam.

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      • Mike Sanders July 9, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        And in Holland, there are buttons to activate the bike signals, which are usually placed on the near side of the intersection at a rider’s eye level, something that should be adapted into common practice here. And so are the bike signals thenselves. This idea could be adopted for ped crossing signals, too. Plenty of examples on YouTube that are worth a look.

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      • B. Carfree July 10, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        Subtle difference: The Netherlands has traffic law enforcement, which would be required for any “no turn on red” to function here. Since we don’t have traffic law enforcement, such a sing would fail. Do note that the 85th percentile speed here is about 25% above the posted speed limit.

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  • JeffS July 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    “And ultimately I think it’s the driver’s responsibility to yield.”

    We don’t have police enforcement. We don’t have any criminal penalties for running over cyclists, but at least we have a traffic engineer with an exceptional (some might say delusional) level of optimism.

    Can someone remind me again why I’m supposed to want to increase my chance of a right hook. Just so we can trick others into riding more? No thanks. You know who doesn’t turn over the top of you? The car that’s still behind you.

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    • B. Carfree July 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Comment of the week.

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  • Reza July 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Standard disclaimer that I was speaking as a concerned citizen and neighborhood advocate, and NOT on behalf of my employer or any other professional affiliation.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks, Reza. And to be clear, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise by mentioning your day job. I just felt it was a necessary part of the context of the story.

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  • Zaphod July 8, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    The amount of funds we are talking about are rather small. Just find the money and get this done. It’s an on-ramp. Motorists will be accelerating with far more speed than a typical right hook. I really do not want to see a ghost bike here.

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  • Peejay July 8, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    $30k holds us back from putting in a light? This is pocket change to all the corporations benefitting from the great business environment and increasing pool of talented labor supply in PDX right now. Maybe one of them would be willing to step up and fund it. Think of the publicity.

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  • Andy K July 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Great comments by Nick. I support this design, especially for the cost! Its understandable that people are nervous about a new design that has right hook written all over it, but this highly visible project will increase the number of cyclists (safety in numbers) and reduce motor vehicle speeds. If a few tuff curb bollards are added without impacting EB Davis traffic it could be even better.

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  • ethan July 8, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Here’s a REALLY cheap solution: block the on-ramp until there’s enough money to put in a signal.

    It would be much safer for people biking, and the people driving onto the bridge can just take another route.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 8, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Even cheaper to nix the bike lane until there is enough money for a signal.

      There are far more people driving into the Steel Bridge there than there are cycling up Naito, probably 10X more. So, if cyclists want to be unreasonable, then there won’t be bike facilities there.

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      • ethan July 9, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        What do you mean by unreasonable?

        Having a safe way to get around on a public street is not an unreasonable request. Allowing drivers to turn across a bike lane while bikes have the right of way is an unreasonable request.

        And the number of drivers on that viaduct is far outweighed by the number of people on the bus who get stuck in that traffic.

        Blocking cars from slowing down bus traffic and running over people biking is not the ebd of the world. But the people who may get killed by drivers – that would be the end of their world.

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        • lop July 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm

          >And the number of drivers on that viaduct is far outweighed by the number of people on the bus who get stuck in that traffic.

          The ~27 buses scheduled to run over the viaduct 5-6pm would have to average ~33 people to match the number of cars. To match the number of people in the cars it’s probably closer to 40. The two are likely comparable. If the bridge entrance was closed to cars I’d expect some to detour to everett to get to the bridge. All the buses take Everett, would they end up being delayed more or less if you close the slip lane? I’m not sure the answer is obvious.

          >There are far more people driving into the Steel Bridge there than there are cycling up Naito, probably 10X more

          Peak hour counts had 5 cyclists continuing on Naito, 544 cars turning onto the bridge, and 21 cyclists turning onto the bridge. right turning cyclists aren’t in conflict with cars here, only through cyclists are, 10x might be an understatement.

          >Having a safe way to get around on a public street is not an unreasonable request.

          Turn right at couch and go under the bridge ramp. Did you mean having a safe way to get around on a public street taking the most direct route, as fast as you are capable of riding, with zero delay, no matter the impact on other people getting around on public streets is not an unreasonable request? Because that is. It is when drivers demand it, and it also is when cyclists do the same.

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          • Eric Leifsdad July 13, 2016 at 11:28 am

            Favoring active transportation and transit over private vehicles is city and metro policy (it’s also good policy.) It’s not unreasonable to demand a safe and direct 20mph bikeway with minimal stopping even if it adds some delay to auto traffic. People biking are imposing far less cost on society than even the most slow and careful electric car driver. The “right-of-way by tonnage” rule is for war, reverse it for peace.

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  • rick July 8, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    It looks safer than most 4 lane roads, but it could be better.

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  • Dan A July 8, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Sounds like the plan is to wait for someone to be killed. Then the additional expense to make improvements can be justified.

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  • Eric Leaming July 8, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    A bike lane to the right of a right turn lane is not discouraged in engineering practice – it’s *prohibited* unless there is a bike signal to separate the conflict in time (see Oregon Supplement to the MUTCD, Section 9C.04). I’m not sure the city’s engineer has a defendable case for this layout without signalizing; not enough $ is a weak argument.

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/TRAFFIC-ROADWAY/docs/pdf/oregon_supplement_mutcd_2009_edition.pdf (last page)

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  • BIKELEPTIC July 9, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Just shuffle some money around from East Portland projects back downtown.

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  • manwithnoname July 9, 2016 at 10:27 am

    so THIS is why this section all the way up to 9th has remained unstriped???? at this rate, it will be a year until any sort of “bike lane striping” will be installed.
    it sure has made it super fun for me, riding it twice a day. the cars do not know where i should be, so they tend to cut in pretty close, not to mention parking like complete shite, making the “bike lane area” even more narrow and dangerous. i opt to take the sidewalk these days.

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  • Kyle Banerjee July 9, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Ted Timmons (Contributor)
    I prefer to be to the left of a right-turn lane, or at least very far left in the right-turn lane. I fear a car overtaking to do a fast right hook.

    As someone who rides this section regularly, this is the easiest and best way to handle the ramp.

    How many people who want a protected space actually ride here? If a protected zone or a light is installed, I’ll take the lane and ride with the cars rather than messing around with a protected zone/light that slows things down so much that you may as well be on the path. I suspect many other people who ride here will do the same.

    Mixing bikes with cars is desirable in situations like this. First of all, it slows traffic down. If you’re in the far left of the right turn only lane, you won’t get hooked. Everyone gets where they’re going faster. It helps remind drivers that we are traffic and belong on the roads as much as they do. Bikes should not be relegated to specific areas.

    It’s a lot easier to get support for bike infrastructure if it doesn’t hose drivers. We all get where we’re going faster and safer if everyone looks out for each other.

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    • soren July 9, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      the needs of experienced riders are not my priority since they can just ride in the lane. we need to stop building infrastructure for the highest denominator.

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      • Kyle Banerjee July 9, 2016 at 8:50 pm

        Infrastructure should help as many people as possible. Since there is already a safe way in this area that for people that don’t like traffic (namely the path), we should focus resources and effort where they will do more good for more people.

        Several of my friends and workmates want to bike to work but don’t. Like many people who live in huge swaths of this town, the routes they need to take would only appeal to hard core cyclists. Attention needs to be focused on getting basic infrastructure everywhere so normal people can actually ride, and overengineering areas like this distracts from that need.

        I doubt whatever they do in this specific case will affect the number of cyclists much.

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      • Eric Leifsdad July 10, 2016 at 9:10 am

        We need to build bike infrastructure that gets people to their destinations quickly — and make driving less competitive. You can average 12mph and never stop, but stop light priority isn’t doing that for us — not the way we do it now.

        Stick a bollard or barrel there to tighten the turn radius, a sign on it “right turn yield to bikes, photo enforced” and move on to the next bike lane gap. We have a lot of signs and paint still to do.

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  • rubenfleur July 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    AND THEN THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
    THE END.

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  • Ted Buehler July 11, 2016 at 1:19 am

    I think the PBOT design can be reconfigured without much trouble.

    Like this.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/28063657062/in/dateposted/

    I sent it in to PBOT and got a non-response, will try again.

    What does anyone else think?

    Ted Buehler

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    • Dan A July 11, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Looks good to me, with one concern: Is there a way to keep drivers from drifting into the bike lane early, where the bike lane first starts to angle to the left? It looks to me like drivers would just continue straight across it, rather than jog left and then jog right (steering is so hard). Maybe you’d have barriers to the left or right of the bike lane there to discourage that?

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      • Eric Leifsdad July 13, 2016 at 11:58 am

        Barriers would be nice. A post or two would do.

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  • paul g July 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Ted Buehler
    I think the PBOT design can be reconfigured without much trouble.
    Like this.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/28063657062/in/dateposted/
    I sent it in to PBOT and got a non-response, will try again.
    What does anyone else think?
    Ted Buehler
    Recommended 0

    I like this design, it feels very much to me like what happens going north on Terwilliger as you approach the I-5 entrance ramp.

    It also makes the whole intersection much more visible to motorists, addressing “Hello, Kitty” points above. By extending the whole thing backwards, and asking cars to move left FIRST before actually encountering the ramp (and accelerating), I think you’d slow everything down to a point where everyone can navigate the intersection safely.

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