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New PBOT design connects Foster bike lanes all the way to 52nd

Posted by on October 7th, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Before/after of typical cross-section on Foster Road project.

Before/after of typical cross-section on Foster Road project.

Good news everyone: the Bureau of Transportation has found a new design for their Foster Transportation and Streetscape Project that allows them to continue the westbound bike lanes on Foster all the way to 52nd.

This is a big deal because the plan that passed City Council two summers ago dropped the bike lane at 54th and led westbound Foster bike riders on an annoying zig-zag to the north in order to reach 52nd and eastbound riders would have been led south of Foster to Center Street in order to reconnect to Foster a few blocks east of 52nd — all because PBOT didn’t want to remove a few blocks of on-street auto parking.

At the time, Foster-Powell area resident Brett Holycross told us the zig-zag was, “A shame for an otherwise great project.”

News of the new design leaked out at the City’s town hall event on the new gas tax in east Portland on Tuesday. Members of BikeLoudPDX attended the event and reported back about what they heard from PBOT’s Foster Streetscape Plan Project Manager Rich Newlands. “The bike lanes on Foster will extend to 52nd Ave! This made my day,” wrote Dan Gebhart.

The reason PBOT originally planned to drop bicycle lanes between 52nd and 54th is because the initial plan called for a transition west of 54th from a three standard vehicle lane cross-section to four full standard lanes at Foster. To make room for this extra lane and maintain on-street auto parking (something PBOT is committed to due a “lack of off-street parking for businesses in this area”) they said they had to drop the bike lane. The only other option presented in 2014 was to narrow two feet off both sidewalks — a surefire way of making bike lanes impossible due to the politics that would erupt if that was ever seriously considered.

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Here’s an old graphic that shows the detours and options previously considered (the blue, dotted north-south line is 52nd Ave):

foster_altsbig

So how’d they manage to maintain bike lanes and the on-street parking? Newlands told us via email today that they’ve decided to extend the three lane cross-section further west. In order to make this new option work “from a capacity standpoint,” he added that people will no longer be able to turn left (south) from Foster onto 52nd. “We think this is an acceptable tradeoff,” Newlands wrote, “off-set in part by another element of the project which will allow left turns at Holgate, which are currently prohibited.”

No official design drawings are available yet, but here’s how Newland describes the new cross-section just east of 52nd (from south (eastbound) to north (westbound)): 8 ft parking/bus zone; 7 ft bike lane (5+2’ buffer); 20 ft travel lane (the two eastbound lanes merge to one between 52nd and 54th Ave in this section instead of between 54th and 56th that is shown in the concept plan); 10 ft westbound lane; 7 ft bike lane; 8 ft parking/bus zone.

This also means that eastbound bicycling traffic won’t have to go south past Foster to Center Avenue in order to connect back to Foster.

A project survey in December 2012 found that 57 percent of respondents wanted the bike lanes to connect directly to 52nd. But now that PBOT has introduced a change, Newlands has to do more outreach before making it an official part of the design. The Foster Area Business Association is already on board and Newlands will meet next week with the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association and with two other adjacent neighborhoods in the coming months.

PBOT said Tuesday night that the project is currently at 60 percent design and construction of the new bike lanes and other changes to Foster are expected to be completed by late 2017.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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22 Comments
  • Adam H.
    Adam H. October 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    This is good news, though it’s unfortunate that PBOT would only retain the bike lane if parking was also retained. Shows their priorities are really about parking over cycling infrastructure. It would be great to get a protected intersection at 52nd and Foster, as it currently is a massive swath of pavement and scary to cross on foot or bike.

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    Champs October 7, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Sounds like PBOT reached into the back of the drawer and dusted off the old “motivation” tool. Maybe they should keep it closer at hand.

    People think of Foster as a busy street, but it’s very much exaggerated by speed. Change can’t come soon enough.

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    igor stravinsky October 7, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I wish they’d hurry up and break ground on this project. City Council approved the plan in June of 2014. Sure, design and engineering take some time, but 2.5 years seems excessive.

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      rick October 7, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Permits?

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    B. Carfree October 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I’m going to assume that the 5+2 configuration of the bike lane means the five is next to the parking lane and the two is a slippery buffer next to the travel lane. Since for relatively wide, but not rare, motor vehicles with long doors the door zone extends as far as 12 feet from the curb, this configuration means that the door zone takes up the right-hand-most four feet of the bike lane, forcing cyclists to ride in the buffer zone.

    Mid-block strikes inside cities just aren’t that much of a risk. However, being doored is a real threat. In fact, in San Francisco it’s number one in terms of injuries and deaths.

    It’s time we either stopped striping those buffers or put them on the door-zone side. Better yet, let’s account for the full door zone and widen the space allotted to parked cars.

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      shirtsoff October 10, 2016 at 7:45 pm

      I fully agree with the sentiment but I’d caution about simply extending the car parking zone to accommodate doors. Case in point.. along outer SE Woodstock there is a section in the 60’s where whoever stripped the bike lane NARROWED it due to cars and perhaps trailers parked further away from the curb. In particular when they restripped it years ago there was a wide 1970s era full van parked there that they seemed to accomodate for a couple of blocks. Whatever the reason, now it has resulted in a shockingly narrow bike lane on a section of roadway with a posted speed of 35 Miles Per Hour. Curiously, cars along this section parked along this section sometimes are parked right against the outer stripe of the bike lane (as opposed to the curb). It all looks fine and dandy from the street but forces bikes further next to the cars going 40-50 MPH (since everyone knows 5-10 MPH over the posted speed is socially “acceptable”). So yes, I agree: Let us acknowledge the door zone and factor it into the designs but make sure that people don’t park within this expanded space and it is marked and enforced for violations that place a parked vehicle more than 10-12 inches from the curb or edge of the paved roadway.

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    Tom Hardy October 7, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    PBOT did n0ot do the engineering it was the outside consulting engineering firms that did that. No Liability but politically correct.

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    rick October 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Yes.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. October 7, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    By the way, it’s still absurd that Foster is getting door zone bike lanes rather than protected cycleways.

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      Alex Reedin October 7, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      Well, personally, I would use that space (plus more) for dedicated bus lanes first (and include dedicated bus lanes all the way down Hawthorne in with the deal). But – I’ll definitely agree that the level of car dominance that will remain on the redone Foster likely for decades to come is a darn shame.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 7, 2016 at 9:19 pm

        I agree that Foster and Hawthorne could both use bus lanes as well. I also find it absurd that PBOT has 7 feet to work with and still can’t figure out how to add in protection. There’s room on both Foster and Hawthorne for cycle tracks and bus lanes, but it’s going to require sacrificing car space.

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        Spiffy October 11, 2016 at 7:31 am

        the bus on Hawthorne already gets 2 lanes each way… if there was room for a dedicated bus lane then the bus would be able to stay in 1 lane…

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 8, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Adam H.

      By the way, it’s still absurd that Foster is getting door zone bike lanes rather than protected cycleways.

      Yep. PBOT’s actions towards protected bike lanes say a lot more than their pronouncements towards protected bike lanes.

      But hey, look at that plaza in front of the terrible donut shop.

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    SE Rider October 8, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Ridiculous that this project is two years behind schedule at this point. It was originally supposed to be built in late 2015. Maybe the federal grant money was held up?

    Glad the city finally came to their sense on this section though, as I feel confident that many cyclists would have simply stayed on Foster for those two blocks. Disappearing bike lanes are incredibly silly and unsafe.

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      Spiffy October 11, 2016 at 7:33 am

      sometimes the only 2 blocks I ride on Foster are those 2 from 54th to 52nd because that’s where the Center greenway drops you and it’s easier than winding through the neighborhood…

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    Clark in Vancouver October 8, 2016 at 9:38 am

    I agree. This is 2016. Everybody now knows about better designs and wants them. It would cost nothing extra to make them parking protected lanes.

    Adam H.
    By the way, it’s still absurd that Foster is getting door zone bike lanes rather than protected cycleways.
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    Mark smith October 9, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Yes, because Door Zone texting car drivers use for the “oops” will draw more riders 8-80. Uh hum.

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    MaxD October 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Great job PBOT! This is worth waiting for.

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    Ian Stude October 10, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Excellent news!

    For the record, PBOT staff presenting the Foster Plan at the Bicycle Advisory Committee back in 2014 cited “concerns” raised by ODOT as a key reason that bicycle facilities would not connect at 52nd Ave. Many thanks to PBOT, Rich Newlands in particular, and all the neighborhood advocates who’ve helped the Foster Streetscape Plan continue to improve and achieve its full potential.

    ODOT is still the governing authority for adjacent Powell Blvd, which happens to be slated for its own series of active transportation improvements — and will be the primary topic of this Tuesday’s BAC meeting. Want to make sure ODOT gets it right? Join us Tuesday at 6pm at City Hall!

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      Ian Stude October 10, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      UPDATE: Due to protests planned at City Hall tomorrow, BAC meeting has been moved to Room B of The Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue. Room B is on the 2nd Floor. Enter on the 5th Avenue.

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    Spiffy October 11, 2016 at 7:51 am

    they will need a curb bulb-out at the NE corner of Foster and 52nd to keep drivers from using the bus lane to get a jump on the extra lane on the next westbound block…

    it’s annoying now when you’re in a car and somebody passes on the right with the intention to go forward… it’ll be deadly when there’s a bike lane wedged in there and the bike and car are both going forward into the same lane…

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    Alex October 12, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    So glad these lanes will connect – thanks for keeping on it Rich!

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