Support BikePortland

City seeks input on plan for bike lanes on inner Morrison and Belmont

Posted by on June 28th, 2017 at 8:30 am

Looking eastbound on SE Morrison near SE 8th. The lane on the right would be eliminated to make room for a protected bike lane.

Looking to improve safety and bicycle network connectivity in the central eastside, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is proposing a new protected bike lane on Southeast Morrison between Grand and 11th and a new bike lane on Belmont between Grand and 7th.

Morrison, which runs westbound toward the Willamette River, is designed as a couplet with eastbound Belmont. But for some strange reason (anyone know the history here?), there’s one eastbound lane on Morrison for the six blocks between Grand and 11th.

In a notice to nearby residents and business owners sent out earlier this month, PBOT asked for feedback for a new configuration that would shift the striping on Morrison, remove this eastbound lane, and add a protected bike lane. In addition, the project would re-stripe Belmont from Grand to 7th to add an eastbound bike lane.

“The unbalanced lane configuration in this section of SE Morrison is unusual and PBOT engineers are concerned about traffic safety,” reads the notice.

Here’s more from PBOT:

PBOT is proposing to remove this one eastbound lane and restripe SE Morrison as west-bound only consistently. This proposed change would maintain existing parking on both sides of the street and allow for a protected bike lane to be installed. The project would have the benefit of separating freight and bicycle traffic, ease pedestrian crossings, and would improve freight access to the Morrison Bridge off of 7th Avenue. PBOT would shift the striping slightly on SE Belmont from Grand to 7th to include an eastbound bike lane to complete the connection for cyclists; the number of motor vehicle lanes and parking on SE Belmont will not change.

Advertisement

Here’s the current configuration:


And here’s the proposal:

PBOT has shared these elements of the proposed configuration:

I’ve always thought this contraflow lane was awkward and unneccessary. PBOT data shows it gets very little use and over 96 percent of eastbound traffic uses Belmont instead. In their recent notice, PBOT points out that construction closures of the lane have had “little impact” on auto traffic.

And the safety issues are real. PBOT cites state data showing over 300 crashes in a 10-year period between Grand and 11th. 44 of them were directly related to the eastbound lane, 17 led to injuries and four of them involved bicycle users. PBOT also says the current lane configuration makes it more difficult to walk across Morrison because people have to look both ways for oncoming traffic.

The lack of a bikeway on inner Morrison — a key way to connect to the protected path on the Morrison Bridge — also exposes vulnerable road users to unnecessary risk. This has become an even greater problem since PBOT installed a protected bike lane between Grand and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd back in October.

To garner feedback and comments on the proposal, PBOT is circulating an online survey. They want to know how often survey takers travel on Morrison, what modes of transportation they use most often, and whether or not people support the proposal in general.

The survey is open until July 10th. You can also contact PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff directly at Gabriel.Graff@portlandoregon.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber, advertiser, or make a donation today.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

36 Comments
  • Avatar
    Pete S. June 28, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I’m not really into parking-protected bike lanes. They seem to get parked in frequently and don’t give drivers good visibility to cyclists when approaching intersection.

    But the proposal is better than the current situation so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      chris June 28, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Or pedestrians. It’s as if we’ve learned absolutely nothing from the PSU lane, where students jaywalk across broadway, step between two parked cars, and then into the bike lane without realizing that it’s even there.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        eawrist June 28, 2017 at 11:45 am

        NYC has incredible numbers of pedestrians standing in the PBLS. The culture change is slow. But, would you rather your friends from age 8-80 have to ride with cars? PBLs are based on convergence of evidence over a long period of time. Using them requires a cultural shift.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      paikiala June 28, 2017 at 9:43 am

      If it’s not perfect, do nothing?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        chris June 28, 2017 at 9:46 am

        There are certain industry best practices that work. Following them might actually even be less expensive than reinventing the wheel every time.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Chris I June 28, 2017 at 10:27 am

          Is this the “industry” that can claim over 40,000 dead Americans every year? That one?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            chris June 28, 2017 at 11:16 am

            No, best practices regarding how bike infrastructure is built in Denmark and the Netherlands. Portland tends to do a half-assed version of that, which is often worse than what it replaces.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              eawrist June 28, 2017 at 11:47 am

              Yes, it is “half-assed.” Protected intersections and PBL are indeed best practice. But PBOT can do a couple of these on their budget, or spread out relatively “half-assed” projects across the city. I think they’ve made the correct decision.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            OregonJelly July 1, 2017 at 12:56 am

            How many Portland car/bike collisions are the direct result of poorly designed bike infrastructure?
            Most of them?

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          SE Rider June 28, 2017 at 1:05 pm

          So what is the best practice here if you want to maintain parking and have a protected bike lane?

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            Joseph E June 28, 2017 at 3:04 pm

            You can’t maintain the parking on both sides. Best practice is no parking next to the bike lane.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Trikeguy June 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Heh, on the way home Monday up past PSU there was a car that had parked in the bike lane then gotten trapped there by other cars parking outside it. At the time I went by he was reversing back down it.

    The east-bound lane on Morrison has caused more problems. In the 10 years I’ve worked at 11th & Morrison I’ve seen multiple accidents and dozens more near accidents resulting from cars coming up there (and trucks can’t turn onto 11th from it without issues).

    As it is, I just drop down 11th (take the lane) to Madison and cross the Hawthorne. But there is a small number of people who drop down Morrison, down under the bridge to Water and up across the Morrison bridge.

    When I MAX (Tue & Thu) I walk that way to downtown and there is little to no traffic turning right off Morrison northbound in my experience, so I would feel okay in a parking protected lane there. I don’t care for them when there’s much traffic turning right across them. May be because I feel to concealed by the parked cars.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      chris June 28, 2017 at 9:51 am

      The issue of taking the Morrison bridge is the risk of being stopped by a train. We need a couple of bike-pedestrian overpasses. From a physics perspective, underpasses are preferable, but because of certain local dysfunctionalities that I will not name, we can’t have nice things.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    chris June 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I wrote this in the comments section of the PBOT survey:

    As a cyclist, I’m not a fan of Portland’s attempt to emulate Danish/Dutch style separated cycle paths, not because Denmark and Holland’s infrastructure isn’t good, but because Portland is bad at emulating it properly. Portland does not follow industry best practices and often create something more hazardous than what they replace, the PSU bike lane on Broadway being an excellent example. Observe the difference between these two designs:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5108574,-122.6842275,3a,75y,218.24h,75.75t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sTxaV7jSEaytSDNPj204oXQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    https://www.google.com/maps/@55.7076874,12.5774985,3a,75y,30.54h,81.49t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sao4ggY6SuzIz4Reaz_mN4A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    In the Copenhagen example, the cars are set far back from the intersection, such that cyclists going through the intersection won’t be obscured from the view of right-turning motorists. There is also a physical buffer between the parked cars – A curb forces jaywalking pedestrians or car occupants to pause briefly before walking through the bike lane. In the PSU example, cars are parked all the way to the intersection, such that *if* it were possible for cars to turn right, bicyclists would get hooked constantly, as they wouldn’t be visible to motorists. Motorists often park in the bike lane, because there is no physical barrier that prevents it. Furthermore, students jaywalk across Broadway, walk between two cars and do not pause to look for cyclists, namely because they cannot see them and therefore don’t expect them there. (They *should* expect it after a day or two of attending school, but they are oblivious and pay zero attention.)

    Please consider these potential hazards and logistical problems when designing the Morrison St bike lane. In fact, I recommend designing all future infrastructure with attention to the fact that most motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists have no sense of conscientiousness and pay absolutely no attention to their surroundings. Many of your recent designs reveal a sense of naive optimism regarding the human condition – one that I do not share with you.

    Thank you.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Champs June 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

    It’s very easy to keep up with traffic and be visible by taking the lane going downhill on Morrison, but I guess we can’t do that on an individual basis anymore.

    If you have to turn left across Water at that spaghetti junction with the offramps and streets to make this work, it’s a loser. I join the chorus of “meh.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Gena G June 28, 2017 at 10:25 am

      It’s not easy for everyone to keep up with traffic on Morrison. And it’s not comfortable for most people. We need to be designing and building a variety of bike facilities so that people of all ages, all ability levels, and all comfort levels can enjoy our beautiful city by bike.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Champs June 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

        Mitigate safety concerns all you like, but it’s still not pleasant to ride behind a wall separating me from the cacophony of four lanes of traffic. If grandma and the kids want to ride down Belmont or Morrison, it’ll be on my cargo bike or the bus. A protected lane is not inherently a desirable one.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        ej June 29, 2017 at 7:27 pm

        I like it the way it is. There are enough lanes to take one for yourself. No need to keep up with traffic. I ride east down Morrison from where it splits from Belmont at 20 something, all the way down to MLK. It’s fine by me. Simply ride like you belong there and with confidence.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Andrew Kreps June 28, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Champs
    It’s very easy to keep up with traffic and be visible by taking the lane going downhill on Morrison, but I guess we can’t do that on an individual basis anymore.

    Very easy for whom, specifically?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Chris I June 28, 2017 at 10:29 am

      My 2-year old daughter does it every day! Man up, people. Jeez.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • John Liu
        John Liu June 28, 2017 at 10:45 am

        Maybe in a bike trailer.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Chris I June 28, 2017 at 12:37 pm

          My comment was sarcastic.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        eawrist June 28, 2017 at 11:50 am

        Baby Bombanaut!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Champs June 29, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      People in condition enough to ride back in the opposite direction or otherwise cover enough distance to avoid taking the hill would be a start.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu June 28, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I like it. This will also increase pedestrian safety when crossing this wide street. How about corner bump-outs to further shorten the crossing and improve visibility (the bike lane can roll up and over the curbing), and speed advisory displays to slow drivers down?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      eawrist June 28, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Corner bump outs are great. This can be done with bollards given budget shortages and with concrete when more $ is had. Corner bollards should be the standard on many intersections where right turns are the typical traffic pattern and high pedestrian volumes exist.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        peejay June 28, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        Corner bump-outs are only great when the bike lane is to the right of them, and not when bike traffic suddenly has to squeeze in with the cars. The advantage of getting some separation and more perpendicular crossing is achieved when a bike lane goes straight (or even veers right), while the car lane veers left before the right turn. It slows speeds, and increases visibility, providing the same protections to the bike users as to the people on foot.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • John Liu
          John Liu June 28, 2017 at 1:44 pm

          Agree. I think the corner bump-out can have the bike lane go straight through it. Either the bike lane stays at street grade and there are ramps for wheelchair users of the bump-out to cross the bike lane, or the bike lane rises to curb grade and there are ramps for bikes to get on and off the bump-out. I am not sure which is better.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Trikeguy June 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    More pedestrian friendly treatments on Morrison are probably a good idea – according to the data at nextportland we’re going to have over 800 new residential units between Grand and 12th on Morrison/Belmont when all the (currently permitted) construction finishes (including 2 sites that have permits but ground hasn’t broken yet).

    http://www.nextportland.com/map/ is a seriously handy tool.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      eawrist June 28, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      All the more reason to make the 11th and 12th couplet multimodal. PBLs and compromise treatment similar to diverters on Williams when necessary may be a good start.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Bill Stites June 28, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    And aren’t there some plans to put in traffic lights at 9th ave., both Morrison and Belmont?

    They will really cap off a nice safety improvement project.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Michael Miller June 28, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    What are they planning to do at the #15 bus stop(s) along this stretch of Morrison? Currently there is one stop on Morrison in the indicated blocks, but once the Morrison Bridge is fixed, the 15 will presumably resume crossing it, which would add back another one or two stops.

    Assuming that the parking lane that will protect the curb-side bike lane is going to continue to be a rush-hour bus lane (yay, bus lanes!), there would presumably not be adequate width to locate a floating bus stop between the bus/parking lane and the bike lane (without cutting into the sidewalk to shift the bike lane). Therefore buses will (continue to) pull over into the bike lane to reach the stop(s). (Of course, with the parking lane shifted out ‘x’ feet from the curb, buses will need to pull in (and out) a much greater horizontal distance from the non-rush hour general travel lane — that would presumably require a much longer bus stop, with removal of additional parking.)

    Maybe they’ve figured out some better solution, but they are not showing us yet what happens at the bus stops.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Doug Klotz June 28, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    The article says the lane on Morrison starts at 11th. The map shows 10th. It seems logical to start it at 12th (same lane configuration as the rest). What’s up there?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Catie June 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

    The biggest issue with this configuration is the bike lane size. People FLY down this hill; as they should, its a great hill! A bike lane that does not have room to pass and is trapped between the sidewalk and parked cars will be dangerous at the speed bikes come down this hill. I recommended to make this lane much wider and/or eliminate parked cars on this side of the street so faster bikes can pass as needed. As designed speedy bikes wanting to go faster and not run over slower bikes will dart between parked cars to take the car travel lane.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Mark smith June 30, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    I see the fearless are chiming in. Thank dog we started listening to everyone else.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    OregonJelly July 1, 2017 at 12:48 am

    No. Parking separated bike lanes greatly increase the risk of cyclists at intersections.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar