Should we open suburban bike lanes to other vehicles?

NW Evergreen near 185th (courtesy google maps)

The suburbs: what to do? We have mostly disconnected streets and the ones that connect are wide and fast. This makes for less than ideal biking conditions. We have put bike lanes on these roads, but they are empty a lot of the time. Eventually, as transportation dollars become even tighter there will be push-back for spending this money.

Any time government builds something that doesn’t get utilized it appears as though we’re wasting our money. What can we do about this?

Slow-narrow vehicles are perfect candidates to use bicycle lanes. Currently many of these vehicles are not allowed in bike lanes. Mopeds can’t use bike lanes if they’re operating their motor, motorcycles definitely aren’t allowed in bike lanes. The relevant statue is here: (2015 ORS 811.440 – When motor vehicles may operate on bicycle lane)

I think that on suburban arterials with speed limits often between 35-55 mph, slower vehicles are basically unable to operate on these streets without being allowed into a ‘slow lane’. Whether we continue to call the bike lanes or not to me is not important. What we should want is build up a coalition of users strong enough to lobby for more lane-miles, better connectivity and better maintenance of bike lanes on suburban arterials.

What do you think? Should we allow other vehicles into bike lanes on suburban arterials? Will this help get more bike infrastructure or maintain what we currently have, or would this simply create more conflicts between bicyclists and other users?

Electric bikes are already multiplying and are currently allowed in these lanes. We should think about this sooner rather than later.

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