Have you noticed all the new white stripes on Portland streets? In the past few weeks, several key bike lanes across the city have been beefed up with an additional bike lane stripe. These buffers create more breathing room between bicycle riders and automobile drivers.
After coming across several of them while riding around recently, I asked PBOT what was going on.
According to city spokesperson John Brady, the new striping was made possible with about $80,000 that was left over from larger capital projects that came in under budget. With a bit of money on the table, PBOT Director Leah Treat decided to look at the map of bike lanes in need of a safety upgrade. Along with new buffers on existing bike lanes, the city has also put the money toward bike-related crossing treatments at major intersections, signage, and new bike lanes where they didn’t exist before.
In total, 5.6 miles of bikeways have been upgraded.
Here’s the complete $80,000 list (provided by PBOT, not all projects completed yet):
Yes this is “just paint” and yes it was done with just crumbs from the budget and yes we need to do much more to create “8-80” bikeways where all Portlanders feel safe enough to ride. But this shows that when given the opportunity to improve biking — even if it means narrowing existing standard lanes — PBOT is ready and willing to do it.
Before I confirmed all this with PBOT, I mentioned the new striping to a friend of mine who works at the agency. The employee just smiled and said, “It’s because we have a good director.” This confirms to me that the decision to use a bit of extra funding to improve cycling came directly from Director Treat. That’s a good sign. It also shows the importance of having people in leadership positions (like Treat) who ride bicycles daily and who intimately understand the urgency of improving bike access.
Have you noticed these new stripes? Do they improve your cycling experience?
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org