Let’s talk infrastructure! When I think about infrastructure I think about everywhere we use our bikes; streets, bike lanes, trails, paths, sidewalks and even things like signals, signage, and bike racks.
Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.
➤ Read past entries here.
As you bike with your family around town, what’s your favorite “thing” for biking safely?
And of course while I’m calling this “family-friendly” bike infrastructure, remember the things that make it safer for my kids to bike, make it safer for everyone — and not just everyone on bikes, but people walking and driving, too.
So please weigh in even if you’re not a family biker. I’m going to give a bunch of examples to get the ball rolling.
I’m curious to hear about general favorites, like “protected bike lanes” and “neighborhood greenways,” but feel free to share a specific thing, too, à la Michael Andersen’s post last year about The Seven Bicycle Infrastructure Wonders of Portland. See the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide if you need some inspiration and vocabulary.
Here’s my incomplete list of things that would allow my kids (and everyone!) to bike safely all over Portland and beyond:
➤ Protected bike lanes. And not ones with mere flexipost protection or parked cars as the barrier, but with a proper separator that prevents people from parking their cars in them.
➤ Diverters at least every four blocks on greenways. Diverters are things like medians and other obstacles that prevent people from turning or using a section of the street. I heard this metric at a BikeLoudPDX meeting and I like it.
I remain surprised how far from “All Ages & Abilities” Portland’s greenways are.
➤ Controlled crossings for greenways at all busy streets. Ideally stop signs or stop lights, but I’ll grudingly admit those RRFBs (Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon) push button pedestrian crossing blinking warning lights seem to work. I remain surprised how far from “All Ages & Abilities” Portland’s greenways are. I can’t imagine my kids (11 and nine years old) darting across arterials while using a greenway without me to first put myself in harm’s way.
➤ Bike lanes downtown. Ideally protected bike lanes, but even regular painted bike lanes are great when car traffic is at a standstill. It defeats the whole purpose of biking when we have to wait in gridlock. My fingers are cross that we’ll get some of these soon through the Central City in Motion project.
➤ Speed safety cameras. I love that I don’t have to include “20 mph speed limits” on this list, because we already have them! But enforcing our new safe speed limit by cameras (that don’t discriminate) more often would help make the 20 mph speed limits really happen.
➤ Curb ramps at all sidewalk corners. And two of them, oriented in each direction rather than one in the middle facing diagonally across the street.
➤ No right on red. Imagine how much safer we’d all be if people driving couldn’t turn right on red! No more pushing into crosswalks looking for an opening in traffic and instead waiting patiently at the stop line for a green light.
➤ No center turn lanes. I haven’t seen any articles about these being bad, but a friend told me a visiting Canadian took one look at them, called them “suicide lanes,” and was flabbergasted we’d put them everywhere. It certainly would be safe to get rid of them, not to mention free up room for bike lanes!
What infrastructure do you think is most important? What should we build more of, or tear down?
(We’re looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to profile families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in being profiled. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.)
— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter
Browse past Family Biking posts here.
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Madi Carlson (@familyride on Twitter) wrote our Family Biking column from February 2018 to November 2019. She’s the author of Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (Mountaineers Books).
In her former home of Seattle, Madi was the Board President of Familybike Seattle, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting bicycling as a means for moving towards sustainable lifestyles and communities. She founded Critical Lass Seattle, an easy social group ride for new and experienced bicyclists who identify as women and was the Director of Seattle’s Kidical Mass organization, a monthly ride for families. While she primarily bikes for transportation, Madi also likes racing cyclocross, all-women alleycats, and the Disaster Relief Trials. She has been profiled in the Associated Press, Outdoors NW magazine, CoolMom, and ParentMap, and she contributed to Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue.
Green lights and walk signals that I don’t have to beg for. Drivers don’t have to beg, they simply show up. So often I’ll miss a light across a major street by just a couple seconds because I didn’t get to the beg-button in time. The cars have a green automatically but I’m expected to wait for an entire light cycle.
The crossing at 39th and Clinton is great. It always changes for peds/bikes no matter if somebody is there or not. And it’s on a major street.
It’s time we stopped catering to the speed of cars and started giving pedestrians an automatic green light to cross the street.
Also, ped crossings that a long time to change. I’m looking at you Foster & 64th. If I can go to the next block, cross the street, and then walk back that’s telling me the wait is twice as long as it should be. If it’s been over a minute since the last crossing then the light needs to start changing as soon as the button is pressed.
Countdown pedestrian signals that are green for pedestrians but still red for cars, for at least 10 seconds and preferably for 30 seconds. They have a lot of them in DC.
PBOT has removed most of the pedestrian countdown timers around town. No idea why, but many are just showing the blinking orange hand now.
I know this seems crazy to me, you used to be able to know exactly how much time you have to cross now you are just guessing. From what I’ve read in the past the countdown timers are much safer as well. I don’t get it, why take them out?
Aside from the reasons given below, many jurisdictions take them out because they mess up (car) traffic flow. They simply take too long and traffic backs up if there are too many pedestrians hitting those darn buttons; and if traffic backs up, then drivers get frustrated, road rage ensues, more crashes occur, etc etc.
And we all know that the flow of car traffic is MUCH more important than the movement of people.
I remember when I first learned how to drive, my mother educated me on stale green lights: a green light which has been green for some time. She told me that I should approach these with caution because the light is bound to turn yellow at any moment.
With the count down timers, drivers have a cue on when to speed up to make the light. So instead of approaching the intersection with caution like I was taught, the timers actually speed people up through the intersection.
I don’t know why PBOT would be removing the timers, but my experience tells me that maybe it has something to do with the speed at which people are clearing the green lights.
Probably because they’re completely useless and misleading. There’s no legality to them at all. There’s no legal time limit to cross a street. You simply need to cross at a decent pace, which is different for everybody. And if you can’t make it by the time the counter is done there’s no penalty.
So for the elderly and disabled it was just putting more stress on them to do something they can’t do: quickly cross an intersection.
For those that are able bodied it told them how much time they had left to cross if they wanted to step off the curb while it was counting down.
And for drivers it was an invitation to speed up if the timer was running out.
It’d be nice if they stopped installing them.
On the other hand, when I’m driving and I see that a timer is going to run out, I let off the gas early and coast to a stop. I prefer not to be surprised by a sudden yellow light where I have to quickly judge whether or not I can safely stop in time.
“For those that are able bodied it told them how much time they had left to cross if they wanted to step off the curb while it was counting down.”
That’s my favorite thing about them. It’s a very useful feature. Why do you see it as negative?
It’s a positive for the person, until the police write you a ticket for it because it’s illegal. If it was legal then I’d love it.
Has this ever happened to anyone here? I only see PPD a couple of times a year, and I certainly don’t see them staking out signaled crosswalks to watch for people entering the intersection after the countdown timer has started.
Leading pedestrian interval? https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/intersection-design-elements/traffic-signals/leading-pedestrian-interval/
It’s also codified in DC law that cyclists can cross on a pedestrian signal, so they get the benefit of the LPI as well.
Beg buttons should only be used to activate a leading pedestrian interval. It is so aggravating to walk up to a light just as it changes for the cars next to you, only to miss the walk cycle. And drivers wonder why they see so many people “jaywalking”?
LPI yes, but no useless countdown timers, please.
As a pedestrian and cyclist, I like the countdown signals.
Me too, but only because I use them illegally and start crossing while the timer is going. Using the illegally is the only way they’re useful.
So you like them but you don’t want them because they induce you to do something illegal that you would not do with the standard blinking “don’t walk” signal?
Since they help me navigate the city on safely and efficiently on foot, I am sad to see them go. I would love to know PBOT’s reasoning.
“So you like them but you don’t want them because they induce you to do something illegal that you would not do with the standard blinking “don’t walk” signal?”
If you’re not using them illegally they the only thing they’re good for is telling pedestrians that they’re not walking fast enough. That’s just telling us to get out of the way of cars. And it’s not fair to those who can’t walk fast.
How does the conventional walk/don’t walk signal moderate “get out of the way of cars” message that you see?
This isn’t true (“using them illegally is the only way they’re useful”). I use them when on my bike to know how long I have before the light changes. And it’s not illegal for me to go through the light on my bike while it’s counting down.
Thank you for the clarifying remark.
I’d have to look up the ORS, but my intuition makes me believe that it’s legal to enter into a crosswalk after the timer has started counting down.
Also note that most beg buttons are not set where you can easily reach them from a heavily-loaded cargo bike. I’m sure wheelchair users feel likewise about their placement relative to the ramp.
I don’t know if they still have them, but the Springwater at Foster had buttons up high for people on horseback.
I find these really hard to reach from my bike!
You need a 4-hoofed mountain bike, available soon from your local Surly dealer. Oats and hay are extra.
The Surly Clip-Clop, the world’s first off-the-shelf Rohloff-compatible tall bike, available in “steel palomino gold” or “dun talkin’ brown”.
At 6’5″, I don’t have trouble, but I understand the issue…
Looks like they were still there as of 2017…
Perfect for horseback, tall bikes, penny-farthings…
Or are they for the tall-bike culture? (:
Also, many beg-buttons aren’t obvious. I’ve approached a crosswalk and not seen a button and the PED signal doesn’t change. I look around and sure enough on an odd pole there’s a button I didn’t see.
Has anyone ever noticed the beg button at NE Broadway and NE Williams — looks like someone has put gum or something to permanently hold the button in the “on” position. I wonder if this actually works. I don’t know if the gum is still even there…
MLK and Fremont is THE WORST for this. Including the placement of the beg button so close to a concrete trash bin that you have to stand right on the curb in order to push it.
I agree and particularly in the case of pedestrian access to signalized intersections. Every signalized intersection should have concurrent signal phasing unless there is a compelling case against it that is documented within the engineering design documentation. Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users should not have “missed” an opportunity to cross with the rest of traffic due to not having activated the beg button in time.
A great example of this is the northwest corner of Cesar E Chavez and Woodstock. If you don’t press the button, the pedestrians don’t get signaled across. The pedestrian signals westbound on Woodstock always do as well as the southern eastbound crossing, but the northwest corner does not. Part of this is due to the freight route that is routed up Cesar E Chavez Blvd from Woodstock Town Center -all the more reason why every crossing should have concurrent signal phasing.
= Peter Koonce.
This happens to me every day in my neighborhood.
I press the button to cross Hwy 43 and nothing happens for 2-5 minutes.
A car drives up to the light and it changes in 0-20 seconds.
We should just flip the light programming;
Crosswalk signals get an instant light change, when you press the button (or a smarter sensor system detects waiting pedestrians or bikes) but cars have to wait a minute or two.
Which specific intersection is this happening at? Whenever an intersection crosses an ODOT facility, the wait times for pedestrians often are excruciating in duration which tempts vulnerable users to risk the crossing against the light.
This is at Hwy 43 and SW Nebraska.
The proximity to the community resource of Willamette Park less than 300 feet from the intersection makes a better light cycle timing a must. SW Nebraska St is a PBOT facility. I will send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a review of timing for pedestrian access to the intersection. The issue that I speculate which is at play is the ODOT facility that is crossed here. It can’t hurt to ask though! If you sent an email too that will help to raise the issue within the bureau.
At least there’s a light and a marked crosswalk. A few blocks down, at the Highway 43/Taylors Ferry intersection, there’s a marked crosswalk and light to get you halfway across (walking east) to the island, then you’re on your own to make it to the other side–no marked crosswalk, no light, and you have to step out into the street from behind a 6′ tall shrub, in front of cars going 40 mph up Taylors Ferry.
I reported it to PBOT, who forwarded it to ODOT, who dismissed it.
I think all Macadam north of the Sellwood bridge should be transferred from ODOT to PBOT.
That whole stretch is a mess.
People drive 55mph, the intersection timing is baffling, most intersections and driveways have near zero visibility.
It definitely could benefit from a road diet. Reduce it to one lane each way with a center turn lane, add wide bike lanes, lower the speed limit to 35mph, and add pop-up speed bumps tripped by speed cameras if a car is doing > 37mph.
Yup. I’ve reported the intersection on PBOT’s website.
Also SE 33rd crossing Powell Blvd. The worst one I’ve encountered.
I get that the traffic volumes are extremely asymmetrical here (lots of important people in cars vs a small handful of unimportant people on foot or on a bike), but if we were serious about what Roger Geller told us lo these many years ago: PBOT hasn’t even begun to implement the ‘make driving difficult’ part of the Bike Master Plan perhaps we could look into this?
Making driving difficult is a cost, not a benefit. A cost worth paying in many cases, definitely, but not a good unto itself.
“Making driving difficult is a cost, not a benefit.”
Do you feel the same way about the gas tax? I’d say a gas tax is a societal benefit. While the fact that some folks (those who burn gas directly) have to pay it registers as a cost in their private accounting, the societal benefits are so overwhelming that to do away with it would make things worse for everyone, especially the drivers.
Being a cost does not mean we shouldn’t pay it — it just means we shouldn’t pursue it as an end unto itself. Dramatically reducing carbon emissions is something we have to do, and I would agree with you that one necessary step is to reduce emissions from transportation.
To return to what may have been my very first post on Bike Portland: I would rather encourage folks to get out of their cars by making the alternatives better, not by inflicting pain on people who drive. If making cycling/transit/walking/etc. better requires removing auto capacity/diverting vehicles/etc. then that may well be a cost worth paying. But that is very different than a benefit.
“I would rather encourage folks to get out of their cars by making the alternatives better, not by inflicting pain on people who drive. If making cycling/transit/walking/etc. better requires removing auto capacity/diverting vehicles/etc. then that may well be a cost worth paying. But that is very different than a benefit.”
From Ivan Illich we know that this won’t work. The automobile destroys the conditions that are necessary to its functioning, not to mention the conditions that permit those not in cars to move about. As such, the mellifluous approach by itself is doomed.
If you want to encourage transit, walking, and/or bike use in a community where 93% of trips are by car, then you definitely want to make it harder to drive and park your car for free. From our bike, walk, and transit advocacy point of view, making car driving more difficult is a definite “benefit” here in NC – more people are exercising and paying for bus service. However, you live in Portland, where car usage is closer to 70%, everyone seems to bike, and transit use by “choice riders” is the norm, so the issue there is more debatable.
I’d like to shut down the roads to cars around our elementary school during morning arrival. It isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
Direct and physically separated and protected paths for bicycles. We have no physically protected bicycle paths in Portland. Even some of our prized MUPs like the Springwater require path users to stop at barely used driveways.
We want to feel like motor vehicles will have a hard time running us over. And we don’t want to be directed to some winding alternative that doesn’t take us to any destination.
IMO, protected bike lanes are not as important as protected intersections, where car turns and speeds are restricted and other users have half a chance of surviving an impact from distracted drivers going too fast. Well-designed roundabouts can be a definite plus in this respect, though I don’t recall seeing any good ones in Portland.
Yes, those protected paths must extend protection through the intersections. Otherwise it’s not a protected path.
Exactly this. Moving back to Portland after 6 years in the DC area, it was a shock that DC has far and away more physically-separated bike paths than Portland. I used to commute in from Falls Church, VA to DC every day on the Custis trail, and for a full 5 miles, I had only 2 at-grade crossings to negotiate before hitting downtown. Contrast that to the Springwater or the Trolley Trail or even the I-205 path, where you’ve only got precious few bike bridges and a lot of level crossings where you DON’T have right-of-way.
Plus you have to dodge all the dirty uncapped syringes…
Diverters on greenways!!!
Most of the greenways are traps. They are full of impatient motorists buzzing by close at 25 MPH pushing you into parked cars and cutting you off so they can turn a block later.
Because of the lack of congestion on greenways there are often no other witnesses. About once a month I have a scary close call on a greenway and get fed up and go ride Powell where I have my own lane and plenty of witnesses.
It’s sad when a strong and fearless rider such as myself determines that a major arterial street is safer than a neighborhood greeway.
The streets one block off the official greenway are often far better regarding traffic. And usually less hilly, too!
I disagree. I find all but a few to be more relaxing to ride on, even when in a hurry. You take the Broadway door zone bike lane instead of Tillamook? No thanks. Taking the lane uphill on Hawthorne instead of Salmon? I’ll pass on that.
Hawthorne is not one block off of Salmon but Taylor is. Moreover, Taylor now has a substantial amount of bike traffic because Salmon is full of waze-crazed cut-through commuters.
Tillamook is also not one block off of Broadway. And on Tillamook north of 28th many people bike on parallel residential streets because the failed greenway has over 3000 motorvehicle trips per day in this area.
I think Hawthorne is the largest street I ride on regularly because I’m going to someplace on Hawthorne and it’s a nice easy uphill with few stops due to it being an old streetcar line.
“Taking the lane uphill on Hawthorne instead of Salmon? I’ll pass on that.”
I’ll take either, depending on where I’m going or coming from. As Soren noted, Salmon is not one block over, and as such kind of silly to take if you’re not wanting to go where it takes you. And the difference in grade between Hawthorne and Salmon is not very large. Maybe someone here knows the exact difference?
Great list! There a couple of very simple, low-cost things that I am flabbergasted taht PBOT does not already include, at least on greenways: 1) painted stop bars to reinforce stop signs which are often obscured by trees. These also remind people driving to stop behind the sidewalk. 2) stop signs at cross streets on green ways and bike routes. There are neighborhoods with uncontrolled intersections. These are supposed to function as 4-way yields. However, it is common for people driving and biking to proceed through an intersection without a stop sign and not realize they should be yielding. When is designated for bikes, the cross streets should all have stop signs, IMO.
The unsigned intersections boggle my mind. How exactly is a user supposed to know that there are no stop signs for the other intersecting road? The only way they work is if you know the intersection, or are trained to look closely for stop signs that face the other lane. What a crazy system. Put some yield signs or paint something on the road to indicate no one has a stop sign!
Oh my, whatever happened to drivers’ education. One of the early lessons was to always identify the intersection you are arriving at. Part of that is looking for the traffic control devices and pavement markings. You do know that you’re not supposed to drive with blinders on, don’t you? Those cross-street pavement markings and signs are plainly visible.
it helps if there are pavement markings!
It boggles my mind that other drivers can’t identify the traffic controls on cross streets. I’m driving behind you approaching the intersection and I can see the backs of the stop signs on the cross streets, but for some reason the people in front of me can’t and come to a stop.
This is especially annoying if I’m biking on that cross street and waiting at a stop sign and a driver comes up and stops with no stop sign. They look at me, I point to my stop sign and wait for them to continue.
And it works the same when there are no traffic controls. Although in that case instead of having problems with people stopping we have problems with people assuming the other direction has a stop and they don’t yield to traffic from the right like they’re supposed to.
Drivers are simply not paying attention to anything that’s not facing them or posing a direct danger to them.
Bicycles and signs on cross-streets are not on driver’s radars.
I agree, some of the worst drivers out there are the “nice” drivers who yield the right-of-way to me when they shouldn’t. I prefer predictable behavior over nice behavior any day.
I’d love some painted stop bars at cross street stop signs!
When I used to read the O’live comments section a lot most of the drivers on there were convinced that you were allowed to delay your stop until you could see cross traffic.
At least the painted stop bar gives you a sense that there’s something there you need to pay attention to, even if you then creep forward for now reason and obstruct the crosswalk/sidewalk.
I think turn lanes can be important in industrial areas for road diets. Western Ave is getting one in Beaverton where sprawling Beaverton school bus parking lots are located. Perhaps a lower speed limit could arrive. I don’t like turn lanes on many other streets, though.
I say get rid of all turn lanes. They’re simply a convenience to speed up motor vehicles. But then you have to protect the bike lanes or they’ll be used as turn lanes.
A road diet often turns what was four lanes of car traffic into three (one middle turn lane) and two bike paths. I am not sure I’m following your antipathy to turn lanes. What am I missing? What would have have done with Division up through 78th instead of what was done?
Why do diverters need to be limited to greenways? It just means my neighbors get calming while we can’t eat a casual meal without at least one person driving by at a dangerous speed.
Diverters on all residential neighborhood streets! But they’ll want to start with the greenways.
Greenways and bike routes that don’t seem to go out of their way to include hills. The 20s bikeway is notorious for this, especially near Stark. Seriously PBOT.
The 20’s bikeway literally goes up to the very top of the hill at SE Lincoln. I have no idea why so many new greenways do this…34th is so much flatter, as is 26th.
= say no to stupidly laid out greenways.
those that zig and zag every few blocks;
those that find the one hill in the whole neighborhood;
those that avoid the business districts.
Oh, I remember being new on my big cargo bike and following the Bike Route signs because what else did I know? So.many.hills. Zigging and zagging is my friend so I support bike routes that do this IF it’s to avoid hills.
The climb up from Division along the 20s Bikeway next to Hosford Middle School at just shy of a 8% slope uphill.. No thanks! I’ll gladly continue along Clinton until 34th to avoid the section from Division to Stark.
FYI, SE 32nd Pl goes along the east border of Sewallcrest Park and is perfectly flat. I learned that from a Sunday Parkways route. If you do cross Division going north at SE 28th Pl, take your first (bumpy and unimproved) right to SE 32nd, jog north and east to SE 32nd Pl and you’ve avoided the stupid hills. This is how I take my daughter to Safeway since she doesn’t have e-assist.
Shorten the width of car lanes. Doing so forces drivers to pay attention (get off phones, two hands on the wheel, etc) and you can use the extra 1 foot per lane to widen sidewalks and add better bike lanes.
you mean narrow?
Narrow traffic and turn lanes (10 feet or narrower) really helps reduce car speeds on busy multi-lane arterial streets; they sometimes also free up enough space to add a bike lane (or expand an existing bike lane into a buffered bike lane.) Adding trees helps further, especially if they are in the parking lane.
On collector streets, removing all striping (bike lanes, turn lanes, and double-yellow) helps reduce local traffic speeds tremendously. Drivers think it a residential street.
There are 2 simple things that I am flabbergasted PBOT does not do:
1) In neighborhoods with uncontrolled intersections and bike routes, they should add stop signs and paint stop bars at cross streets along the bike route. Uncontrolled intersections are supposed to work like 4-way yields, but with no signage, their is a lot of opportunity for dangerous misunderstandings.
2) Paint stop bars at all cross streets along greenways. Trees and vegetation can often block stop signs, and stop bars painted on the street are a great, inexpensive, redundant way to let people driving know where to stop. These bars can also show people where to stop to avoid rolling across the crosswalk/sidewalk before stopping.
Germany manages with (almost) no stop signs.
I wonder how they do it? 😉
They also need to re-time all the green/yellow/red on light..
the yellow is way to short of people riding bikes..most of the time the light will turn yellow right as i enter the intersection and be red when i am only have way thru…
We have this issue at the Bethany-Oak Hills intersection every time we go on a family bike ride to the nearby MUP. If we are first to the intersection, I have to get my whole family lined up side-by-side and make sure they are ready to SPRINT across, or we won’t all clear the intersection in time. If we are behind any cars at the intersection, we definitely won’t make it through.
I have this problem with the light crossing Powell at 69th. It’s better to just push the PED beg-button. The crossing at 65th isn’t as bad, but it has more cars. I doubt we’ll get ODOT to increase those times.
There are 2 simple things that I am flabbergasted PBOT does not do:
1) In neighborhoods with uncontrolled intersections and bike routes, they should add stop signs and paint stop bars at cross streets along the bike route. Uncontrolled intersections are supposed to work like 4-way yields, but with no signage, there is a lot of opportunity for dangerous misunderstandings.
2) Paint stop bars at all cross streets along greenways. Trees and vegetation can often block stop signs, and stop bars painted on the street provide an inexpensive and redundant way to let people driving know that they are expected to stop. These bars can also show people where to stop to avoid rolling across the crosswalk/sidewalk before stopping.
Not sure if this classifies as infrastructure, but I would LOVE to see more bike parking that works for people with trailers/xtra cycles/assistive bikes.
And indoor parking (yay Western Bike Works!).
I vote for more covered bike parking!
That definitely counts as infrastructure!
Yes! The one large space they leave at the end of bike corrals is often occupied by a motor scooter.
And if you have a long bike, like a tandem, you’re often left sticking out up on the sidewalk a bit.
Here is one that is low hanging fruit: better integration with TriMet. I don’t particularly like hauling my empty cargo bike all the way across town after dropping my kids off, so I will often take MAX or the bus into the office. The trouble is that there is not good bike parking at many MAX stations and virtually none at bus stops that are off major streets/near businesses. Couldn’t we get staple racks at bus stops that intersect with major bike routes/neighborhood greenways? It also seems like a bike parking area and valet service like south waterfront would work well in a place like Rose Quarter TC.
You would lock a bike up all day long on a staple rack at a transit stop?
You’re WAY braver than I am. Or you have very good anti-theft devices on all your components.
PBOT considers those suicide lanes a safety feature – likely just doublespeak for not wanting to cause traffic delays caused by left-turning drivers. Imagine how much better the Foster project could have been without that center lane – there would have been plenty of room for protected bike lanes that way!
I suppose to the extent the keep drivers from passing in the (unprotected) bike lane when someone is turning left, they are sort of a safety feature. But no, I always understood those, in road diet situations, to be the justification for the dieted-road maintaining preexisting throughput.
You could put some plastic wands right at the intersection to discourage passing on the right.
The center lane is often used by emergency vehicles, especially on arterial streets like Foster Blvd.
I think people tend to forget the need for this type of space to exist on a major roadway. I know if one of my family members is having an emergency and an ambulance or police is needed immediately, I don’t want them blocked. I suppose if the middle lane didn’t exist and there was a bike lane, drivers would just pull into the bike lane and allow for the emergency vehicle to pass on the left. So I don’t know if deleting a center lane would be all that troubling. Nonetheless, space for emergency vehicles to navigate in should be considered in all designs.
Interesting mention of the center turn lane. I tend to like these: they give cars a place to merge in (when turning left after exiting a parking lot), turn left (on cross street or to parking lot); give trucks a place to stop when making deliveries (how else will we get BEER?), and give drivers a way to give extra space to cyclists in a bike lane.
If there aren’t bike lanes, then I can see getting rid of either the center turn lane or street parking to make room for bike lanes, and businesses/residents might prefer losing the center turn lane.
If there are already standard bike lanes, should we get rid of the center turn lane to make the bike lanes that much wider? That’s an option but I’m unsure if its the best one.
This is technically illegal… it would be better to have curbside loading zones.
But then the trucks pull through / into the bike lane when delivering.
Unless those bike lanes were protected, that would be more dangerous. Cars would now be stopping in the lane to turn left, and drivers would swerve into the now wider bike lane to pass them on the right. Personally, I like the 3-lane + bike lane config for arterials. It is so much better than the 2 + 2 config we have now on so many of them.
We can install barriers to prevent passing on the right.
No delivery trucks in the middle lane! It’s illegal. It makes it so nobody else can use that lane while they’re stopped there. The drivers are jaywalking, with a load of boxes. And it blocks visibility of the entire road for a block.
How we we get beer? Legally! There’s no reason to break the law while delivering goods. If your business model depends on your parking illegally then you deserve to go out of business. Use smaller trucks. Petition for truck delivery zone hours like New Seasons on Hawthorne did (although their deliveries still block the center lane).
Again, do not break the law while driving. It doesn’t matter if you’re delivering commerce. Safety laws come first.
This kind of behavior encourages abuse of the roadway and then we get horrible Fallon Smart events to remind us of why we have rules about center lane use.
Are you actually certain it is illegal? I don’t know what the law says about it.
Driver’s aren’t allowed to veer into the center turn lane to give more space for bicycles in the bike lane. Again this another illegal maneuver than can end badly when oncoming traffic decides to turn into that lane and hits you head on.
These lanes encourage bad behavior by giving too much available road for abuse. Drivers need very confined and designated spaces, not lots of room to make whatever decision they want.
Personally, I like it when drivers give me extra space.
As much as I like extra space I also like drivers obeying the law.
We can have both.
Why is moving partly into the center lane to give a bike more room illegal?
When I’m driving, and the oncoming traffic is clear, I will absolutely cross the double-yellows to give cyclists some extra space. I wish more people would do the same for me when I’m riding.
I recall (can’t guarantee I’m recalling correctly) an article here once by a cycling lawyer who said that doing that was absolutely legal. Occasionally, I’ll have drivers behind me who will not even touch the double yellow line, apparently thinking it’s not legal.
Yes, the bike lawyer said it’s perfectly legal to cross a CENTER LINE to go around cyclists, when there’s no bike lane. They didn’t mention using a special left turn lane. That’s likely not legal.
An article on O’live said it was illegal to use those center turn lanes for anything other than turning. You can’t use it to pass a bus or cyclist. It’s not the same as a double yellow center line.
I don’t know if it’s legal or not to move a bit into the center turn lane to give room to someone on a bike. I don’t know how you can say it’s “likely not legal”, especially when it IS legal to cross a double yellow into an oncoming traffic lane, which is potentially much more dangerous.
And if it isn’t legal, but it’s not being enforced when people are doing it to give people on bikes extra room, I’m glad it exists as an option. And you don’t have to drive fully into the turn lane, either–just a couple feet.
I think a driver would have a defense in court for safely veering into the oncoming traffic lane to pass a cyclist, that is if they were to be pulled over.
+1 for no right on red, at least at designated high-bike-traffic intersections
+1 for curb ramps at trail/path crossings
+1 for anyone who’s mentioned abolishing beg buttons as we know them. The first thing I would love to see is just consistent sensing of bikes at all traffic signals. If we can do that, then we should be able to extend that to path crossings.
Along with beg buttons, let’s get rid of chicanes and tight 90-degree turns, such as are found at many street crossings where a path/sidewalk that is parallel to the road turns to cross the road. I mean, if we have to maintain a “hole in the air” along freight routes to accommodate the largest possible vehicles that would ever use the route, then we should think along the same lines for bike routes: anyone with a cargo bike, trailer, or any other-formed bike should be able to navigate easily on any bike route.
Also, how about consistent application of traffic law concepts to trail crossings. My pet peeve: trail crossings where the trail user has a STOP or YIELD sign paired with a crosswalk. I get the intention (“dear bicyclist, please don’t go blasting blindly across the road without looking first”), but the legal “signals” are mixed when we try to convey that message with a STOP sign: a crosswalk implies drivers must stop or yield (given enough stopping distance, of course) to pedestrians or bicyclists in them, yet the signage tells path users (and drivers) that car traffic has the right-of-way. In a court case, would a driver be guilty of failure to yield, or a bicyclist be guilty of failure to obey a traffic control device? Is there a CAUTION sign of some sort that we could put at trail crossings?
I can’t think of what would be “suicidal” about center turn lanes. I like them because they provide an out-of-the-way place to wait for a chance to make an “exiting” left. Continuous lanes provide a place for drivers to pull into when making an “entering” left and wait for the rest of traffic to clear; I think this gives drivers smaller batches of stuff to think about and reduces the chances of what happened on Going St. last week. Can someone explain why center turn lanes are bad?
Because it’s a single lane that supports two-way traffic, leading to potentially a head-on collision. In practice, I highly doubt this is an issue, but I’m guessing it’s still unnerving to drive in one knowing someone could drive straight at you.
You don’t drive in a center turn lane. You pull into it and immediately turn.
Yes, and many center turn lanes don’t even have many–or any–areas where you could be going either direction. They’ll have left turn lanes at at intersections, and landscaping in between those.
I like them because in my experience, streets that used to have two lanes in each direction, then were changed to one lane each way with a center turn lane, work better for drivers, feel safer (no cars weaving from one lane to another to avoid people ahead who’ve slowed down to turn left or right) and take up one lane less width, leaving room for bike lanes or wider sidewalks.
“They’ll have left turn lanes at at intersections, and landscaping in between those.”
Those are the only kind I like, because that leaves no room mid-block for abuse. But that’s not really a full center lane, it’s just a center median with left turn lanes on each end.
The pedestrians have no refuge island at the intersection, but they have better visibility.
When the revolution comes, the moderates will be the first against the wall.
This is what Ashland did on N Main St — went from two lanes each way (very tight, very close to sidewalks, very bike unfriendly) to one lane each way with a center turn lane and bike lanes each way. It’s much more pleasant to walk along, and I imagine to ride on as well.
So you slow down to 5 MPH before entering the turn lane? Or do you enter it at speed and then slow down?
And just because YOU don’t drive in the center turn lane doesn’t mean that I don’t see people doing it every time I drive.
Most drivers know how to use center turn lanes safely. They are a good solution for many local streets, and are often used in road diets. More reading:
http://www.mikeontraffic.com/two-way-left-turn-lane-design-guide/ “Reduces total crashes by approximately 30% or more”
I’ve never felt threatened in a center turn lane.
I have felt unsafe slowing down to turn left WITHOUT a center turn lane, because I’m sitting there stopped with people coming up from behind me going 40 mph. I’ve also felt unsafe trying to turn left onto a busy street into speeding traffic. With a center turn lane, I just have to wait for the lanes closest to me to be clear, then I can turn into the center turn lane and wait safely to merge with traffic in the far lanes.
Also, if there is not a left turn lane, people driving will move into a bike lane to drive around the person turning left in front of them
I’ve had issues where I’m turn left from a center turn lane and just behind me to my right is a driveway that oncoming traffic wants to turn into. They’ll come as close to the front of you as they think they can get away with, trying to get closer to their driveway, or they’re drive the wrong way around you towards the driveway. Both of those things bother me.
If there’s no much traffic that you can’t pull out and merge then that means there’s already enough traffic on the street and you should wait for it to clear. You shouldn’t be queuing up in the middle obstructing visibility waiting to wedge yourself in.
Drivers think they have a right to get into traffic. In reality our right-of-way laws would bring every metro area to a complete standstill if people were obeying the law. If that were to happen then we could get some REAL infrastructure that worked.
As long as there is clear visibility of every oncoming car or bike, then center turn lanes are fine.
It’s when there are multiple car lanes plus a bike lane, heavy traffic, and different lanes going different speeds that it gets dangerous.
Maybe you have a gap to turn through, but what if there’s an oncoming bicycle you can’t see behind a passing car? (see “constant bearing, decreasing range” https://www.google.com/search?q=constant+bearing+decreasing+range&ie=&oe=)
You may not see the person in time to react, and left hook them.
The one I see the most is 4-7 lane arterials like Barbur blvd or SE/NE 122nd, where someone is waiting to turn left, and one but not both oncoming lanes stop or there was only traffic in the one lane – the person starts their left turn but gets T-bones, or is nearly crashed into, by oncoming traffic that either pulled around the lane that yielded.
The alternatives would be either make 3 right turns, if you’re on a grid, U-turn at the nearest signalized intersection (with a left turn signal) to then turn right into your destination, or have turnarounds like NE 102nd and Halsey, where you make a sweeping right turn from 102nd northbound to enter Halsey westbound.
This requires extra time and energy to accomplish, but I would argue that A) it’s the city engineers job to design and build safe infrastructure, and B) it’s the motorists’ job to conduct themselves safely, even if that adds inconvenience to their trip.
“consistent application of traffic law concepts to trail crossings”
This is one of those intersections: https://goo.gl/maps/uDHJfRCnwoJ2
Bikes on the path have a stop sign, drivers do not. As a cyclist I come up to this and stop and then wait for cross-traffic to clear. However, so many drivers stop. I once tested this and was there about 10 minutes as almost every driver stopped. I kept pointing at my stop sign. Drivers were mad, yelling at me to cross. At one point a driver that was stopped thought they’d out-wait me and just turned off their car while they waited for me to cross.
I was not legally allowed to cross because I was back behind the sidewalk at a stop sign. I was not at the roadway in the curb-cut, nor did I have any part of me or my bike anywhere near the roadway or sidewalk.
These stop signs need to go away or be moved to the edge of the curb.
– Bike detector loops!!
– Bike signals at busy intersections (heading south near Moda, on Rosa Parks at Interstate?, on Broadway).
– Leading bike signals (And ped signals though I follow the traffic light when there is no bike signal lest cars think I’m ‘cheating’ – ahem Williams and Alberta).
– Extra wide bike lanes on busy bike corridors (Williams/Vancouver)
– Rapid flashing beacons or HAWK signals when greenways cross busy streets
– Greenway way-finding (maybe not a huge safety thing but I know I can ride more safely and pay attention to threats when I’m not lost and looking at street signs). I’ve been going more new-to-me places recently and taking several different mixes of greenway routes outside my typical travel patterns and it’s been really interesting. I truly appreciate greenway routing and pavement markings to guide me when a route jogs a block.
Induction loops are a flawed technology that increasingly fail to detect bikes. We need to switch to bike sensors that detect all bikes (e.g. video, radar, and lidar detectors).
Real bike-friendly detectors would detect us ahead of the intersection so that we might be able to get greens without having to stop. I have a couple of intersections on my commute where I can set it off from about 20 feet away, and it’s so nice….
Get rid of all detection loops and go back to timed lights.
Detection loops are just a technology to increase car speeds.
We shouldn’t be installing such conveniences anymore.
we would save money on traffic signals, too!
Greenways where the road surface has not been dug up and patched countless times by utilities. San Diego has a rule, streets can only be opened at two-yearly or less frequent intervals. The greenway on SE 19th that is the detour for the Springwater during construction is like riding on railroad ties, its been dug up and patched, it’s as bumpy as hell.
Reiterate the need for traffic signals that respond to cyclists, especially when traffic volumes are really low. On my morning commute, I have to press the pedestrian button at N Greeley and N Ainsworth because the in road sensor for bicycles apparently doesn’t work at 5.45 a.m.
PBOT must read Bike Portland, because the bike decal has been repainted on Ainsworth at Greeley, and its in a slightly different position from the old faded one, and now works for my morning commute.
Infrastructure without gaps. I wrote a whole blog post on it last year: https://bikeportland.org/2017/07/03/gaps-233414.
I also feel the need to add that I really dislike the RFBs at Greenway crossings. I feel like they are confusing and dangerous for cyclists, because at most of them the car drivers legally do NOT have to stop for cyclists. If we need car drivers to stop that badly, we should have full signalized crossings with bike detection loops.
If they are marked crosswalks, this isn’t true. Cars *do* have to stop for bicycles in crosswalks (and bicycles need to be moving at “walking” speed as they leave the curb, if I remember the law correctly).
I believe the only time you can ride your bike on the sidewalk is if you’re riding at a walking pace. So yes, a car would have to stop for you at a cross walk.
Actually, you can ride on the sidewalk at any speed, but drivers only have to yield to you if you are at or below walking speed. Kind of crazy, but there you have it.
I disagree with the blanket proposal to eliminate center turn lanes.
Turn lanes are used to allow left-turning motorists to keep from blocking through autos. Eliminating the left-turn lane will actually put cyclists at greater risk as motorists unhappy with the presence of a left-turning vehicle in front of them will swerve to the right, into the bike lane, to avoid having to wait for the turning vehicle. I see this happen countless times per week!
I’ve even seen PPB patrol cars execute this maneuver. I know the police have an exemption when responding to an emergency, but I’ve witnessed at least two occasions when that was clearly not the case and complained to the former chief in an email with vehicle ID and everything.
I don’t consider the threat of illegal violence against cyclists as a rationale for encouraging faster motor vehicle traffic.
It’s not hard to put up an obstruction (plastic wands, curb, planting strip) to prevent cars from swerving right into the bike lane.
So many people here are saying we need these center lane so that cars can go faster. I can’t believe I’m reading so many of these suggestion on this site.
Who’s saying that’s why we need them?
Everybody in their defense. Who’s not saying that? I keep reading it’s to get cars out of the way. That enables them to go faster. Is that not what everybody here is saying we need the turn lanes for?
I’m not sure people are saying we “need” them as much as saying they have some benefits. Those include some safety benefits for drivers and for people crossing the street, to name two. Also, if you can achieve similar traffic flow with less width (one lane each way with a center turn lane allowing traffic flow similar to two lanes each way) then that allows more room for bike lanes or wider sidewalks.
I don’t think anyone–at least here–is thinking it would make sense to ADD a center turn lane without also removing one traffic lane each way. If they were, then I’d guess cars would be able to go faster. But accompanying the new center lane with removal of traffic lanes may not increase car speeds at all.
“accompanying the new center lane with removal of traffic lanes may not increase car speeds at all.”
This has been studied. The change is fairly slight*, which is why it is so fun to present these findings to the naysayers who claim that road diets will cost them precious seconds.
* depending on the pre-diet traffic volumes I believe the speeds drop a hair with a road diet, but nothing like what those who are opposed to road diets would have us believe (e.g., cutting the # of lanes in half with double the time, bla bla bla).
+1 for eliminating beg buttons!
+1 for no right on red
+1 for closing the gaps in the bike network
I would add improving wayfinding. Portland’s greenways are notoriously convoluted, and their signage is just as bad. Navigating ona dark, rainy night is especially difficult- my generator-hub driven light has a cut-off adn does not illuminate the tiny letters, high up on the signposts. That location works for cars but is horrible for people biking.
Can we also get double-sides street signs on ALL streets? There are many one-way streets where as a pedestrian you can’t tell what street you’re approaching until you get to it and turn around to read the sign.
YES, this is so frustrating that the city only prints on one side. It must be cost efficient.
How about elimination of on street car storage in locations where there are no protected bike lanes? In general the whole concept of parking cars on the side of the road needs to be phased out or priced according to the increased danger it presents to others (dooring, lack of visibility) and the value of the public right-of-way being used. Most of these spaces are free so the costs are being borne by society as a whole.
This isn’t infrastructure but I’m going to mention it here anyway. Two serious and sustained public awareness campaigns: one about the safety of the many modes of transportation (the most dangerous part of someone’s day is when they decide to step into a car) and another one educating people about how much of the transportation system their (gas) taxes and fees ACTUALLY cover. This addresses some real pain points to everything that gets talked about here and even more so when we’re involving kids. Funding for any of these improvements will typically need to come out of the general fund specifically because drivers are not “paying their fair share” but most think they do which results in bikelash every time a good piece of bike infrastructure gets designed leading to the next project being compromised (and the one after it) leading to the disjointed network we have now or will have in the near future. It’s also the reason why there’s a bike tax that isn’t accomplishing any of its goals since most of the projects needed for bikes are specifically because there are too many cars on the road driven by people who aren’t taking the responsibility seriously.
Both the media campaign and talk of enforcement are certainly “infrastructure”, as is this blog and the network of people here contributing to it.
There are two general types of ways to view infrastructure, hard or soft. Hard infrastructure refers to the physical networks necessary for the functioning of a modern industry. This includes roads, bridges, railways, etc. Soft infrastructure refers to all the institutions that maintain the economic, health, social, and cultural standards of a country. This includes educational programs, parks and recreational facilities, law enforcement agencies, and emergency services.
Thank you Ronald Reagan for the elimination of the fairness doctrine.
I would like to see curb-cuts, crossings, and lane designs that give bikes momentum priority.
You shouldn’t need world class bike handling skills to safely ride from one side of a street to the other.
Off-camber, sharp corner turns to transfer from a bike lane to an MUP or other connection is one of my least favorite, e.g. Naito northbound to Steel bridge at Everette.
Another weird one I’ve seen is bike lanes or sidewalks where they cross a highway onramp, far down the ramp, where traffic is speeding up to merge onto the highway! Why wouldn’t you put the crosswalk where the traffic would naturally be going slowest?
E.g. SW Nyberg st at I-5 in Tualatin. Going either direction, you either have wait however long for a lull in traffic or be capable of sprinting 40+ mph to safely travel those bike lanes.
I particularly hate this one on Hayden Island heading north: https://goo.gl/maps/PZM2Pad4KXv
It’s on a freeway exit and is essentially a blind corner for drivers. There’s a “recommended” speed sign for 30 MPH on the exit, so people are still going 45 here around this wide sweeping corner.
That whole area is ridiculous.
Cars get to approach the Columbia crossing on I-5, in a straight line.
Bikes and pedestrians have to make seven or eight tight turns/spirals, cross a handful of busy streets, just to get to the bridge, which has one of the narrowest and bumpiest bike/ped paths I’ve ever been on.
I use that crossing all the time, on my way to / from work. It is awkward, but I’ve not had problems with drivers. You look, ride over if it is clear, otherwise stop, and go when it is. Pretty simple.
The looping maze of paths you have to take to get to the I-5 bridge is strange. It feels like if a freeway designer was hired to layout a bike path.
However, the path across the bridge from Hayden Island to Vancouver is the real issue. It is so narrow, full of tight spots, and exposed to wind and truck blast, that I don’t think you’ll ever see many people cycling across it.
The trash and camp debris often found in the paths is another problem, as is the lack of lighting and the bizarre or threatening people you’ll occasionally run across on the bridge, the paths to the bridge, and the slough trail or other routes to get to the area. I’ve had a homeless guy on a bike with trailer try to run me off the slough path, and another try to shoulder me into the bridge girders. In the winter when its dark, it is sketchier. I seldom see a woman riding alone here, and I occasionally think that being armed would not be a bad idea.
So, there’s no point in improving that crossing or the loopy paths or the bumpy pavement. This is never going to be a route popular except with the most confident cyclists.
I consider traffic law enforcement a piece of basic infrastructure. And I see none of it in Portland. When’s the last time you saw anyone get a ticket for running a stop sign, a red light, or speeding? I can’t remember. Enforcement of these laws does happen in other cities all the time. If people thought they might get a ticket, they might drive a little safer and feel less entitled to drive recklessly.
3 weeks ago. For failing to yield to a pedestrian. East bound on Ainsworth at around 15th. Pedestrian literally standing in the street at the corner with a child. The guy ahead of me blows right past them. There’s a cop car with what looked to be a trainee driving at the adjacent corner of the intersection. I stop and throw up my hands at the guy. I see the passenger in the cop car notice my gesture and point at the car and they pull him over two blocks later. I’m honestly not sure they would have even noticed otherwise.
This one’s a real pet peeve for me, less as a cyclist than as a pedestrian. I frequently walk my dog across N Rosa Parks in the evening and people flat out ignore the laws about yielding to pedestrians. I’ve stood in the road waiving a flash light and they look right at me and keep going. Whatever you believe about bikes vs cars, follow the damn law.
Conversely, I find that a lot of drivers stop at those green painted “bike” crosswalks. If these had any legal standing I’d appreciate it, but since they don’t I find it a bit annoying. I often feel pressured to proceed across when I’m not quite prepared.
After the Holgate bike lanes went in I would get a lot of angry drivers honking at me as I tried to cross the street. People were not happy about that.
Once when walking to Mall 205 I did an experiment by crossing SE Washington at 100th. It’s 4 lanes plus a bike lane and is a street with a T intersection between lights at 99th and 102nd (both about 400 feet away). Not a single driver stopped. It was surreal as I crossed the street with cars salmoning around me at over 30 MPH just a few feet away the entire time I was walking across.
Not a single driver. It was insane.
I ride regularly with my five- and six-year-old granddaughters. We’re fine and happy on streets with sharrow markings, especially when a center stripe is included (obviously, we’re not in PDX). We’d love to see some “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs. We’re fine on bike paths. We’re fine in bike lanes that aren’t in the door-zone.
Where we’re not fine is in “protected” bike lanes where we have to deal with added obstacles. We won’t even ride on two-way cycletracks because of the inevitable and horrid intersection issues.
Beg buttons certainly need to go. All signalized intersections need to utilize one of the many means of determining if a bicycle is present and then give a green light that is long enough for children to cross.
Oh yeah, those so-called greenways (where’s the green?) need to be prioritized at arterials. Major streets have only cars; greenways are supposed to carry lots of people on bikes. Hmm, which mode is officially supposed to be prioritized in PDX? Which way would get more people out of cars and onto bikes? I know it won’t look good from the inside of the windshield, but we need to move out of the twentieth century some day.
marked crosswalks alone can be dangerous.
Road diets that add center turn lanes are a proven safety measure:
And provide space for medians.
Whole list of proven countermeasures:
What are your favorites?
>> The study results revealed that on two-lane roads, the presence of a marked crosswalk alone at an uncontrolled location was associated with no difference in pedestrian crash rate, compared to an unmarked crosswalk. <<
So at least for 2-lane streets, there's no reason not to install a marked crosswalk. Even if it does not impact safety, it may make the crossing easier by encouraging drivers to stop.
“Even if it does not impact safety, it may make the crossing easier by encouraging drivers to stop.”
What does that mean?
It means you get across the street more quickly, with less waiting.
“Road diets that add center turn lanes are a proven safety measure”
The only safety improvements listed are for drivers. I don’t care as much if they keep crashing into each other. They need to learn to pay attention. The center turn lanes give them another reason to stop paying attention.
All the other improvement listed are also gained if the center turn lane is converted to a median with trees.
Let’s stop making it easier for drivers in the name of pedestrian safety.
You may not care if people die in cars, but I do.
I never said they were dying. I said they need to crash into each other. Bad drivers need to crash, not be enabled.
You have a purity of vision uncontaminated by the messiness of life.
You have some of the best comments on this site.
Even if that article only listed safety improvements for drivers (which is positive) that doesn’t mean there aren’t safety benefits for others.
I think diverters are my favorite thing overall. The feeling of relief as I pass through, knowing no drivers can follow me, is great.
Two little things I like (as a person without kids):
Toward the southern end of River Rd in Milwaukie where it intersects with Glen Echo Ave is a sort of bike slip lane. I rode this way recently and I thought I was going to have to join the fray at the stop sign. Then this little lane appeared from the trees to guide me to the continuation of the bike lane. https://goo.gl/maps/Nv78wvZjJ1r
The crossing signal at Hawthorne and 16th seems to run on a timer during peak hours. Maybe it’s more often than that. I haven’t checked. I just know that it’s pure beg button when I used to go through there before 6 am.
“Toward the southern end of River Rd in Milwaukie where it intersects with Glen Echo”
That’s a great example of a wide sweeping corner converted for better bicycle access while at the same time taming motor vehicles.
“crossing signal at Hawthorne and 16th”
I think there are just so many pedestrians in that area that the button is always being pressed. People maybe aren’t waiting for the signal and cross before it changes so by the time you get there nobody is on foot crossing. I can usually spot the pedestrian a half-block away. That’s why we need these to change the instant the button is pressed. Pedestrians know how to safely cross a street and will do so quickly if the light doesn’t change for them right away.
Also, I like to just press the button if I’m walking by.
And why is it that the fabulous blue LED that tells you you’ve been detected when southbound is constantly falling so that it aims at the ground? Is someone messing with it? I’m kind of tired of tweeting at Peter Koonce that my favorite LED is facing the ground again.
I’ve been using this crossing more often again and have found that the light turns yellow for the cars on Hawthorne within 30 seconds of pressing the button. If you count “one-thousand one, one-thousand two,…” for the seconds I rarely get to one-thousand 30 before it’s changed. Methinks the signals being slow to respond to beg buttons (which I loathe, don’t get me wrong) is more in our heads than we know.
For people on Scooters, Skateboards and Rollerskates, surface quality is very important. Wide gaps and expansion joints like on Portland’s bridges can be dangerous. Control Joints like the ones on portions of the east bank esplanade and west waterfront feel terrible sending shocks up through the board. Even textured greenlanes like those around the Tillikum crossing make force riders onto the street or sidewalk to avoid the terrible vibrations.
It’s not hard to design for all users. It just takes some thought.
Surface quality also impacts family biking a lot! The N Michigan bikeway is in horrendous shape, it can be one of my most stressful legs of my commute. Potholes are extremely jarring to a little person strapped in on the back of a bike, I have to weave all over to try and take the smoothest path while dodging cars that are trying to take “shortcuts.”
And I would never take my littlest one on the Eastbank esplanade section you are referencing, it is way too rough.
Agree about surface quality of the roadway. My commuter is a pretty cheap bike and does very poorly at absorbing road vibrations. Whenever I’m riding Holman, for example, I’m wishing I was on one of my slightly better bikes that are more comfortable on bad surfaces. Then I think about how most new commuters or bicyclists that are trying out riding are probably also riding inexpensive bikes on these low-stress streets, and how the uncomfortable ride might turn them off to cycling.
For what it’s worth- I’ve always hated those eastbank joints, but had a someone associated with the project a few years ago explain that they big and on all those seams like that because it’s what enables the floating portion of the dock has to rise and fall with the river volume while still creating a continuous surface that doesn’t gap when the water is low, or buckle when it’s high. I still hate riding over them, but I’m less resentful now that I know why they are the way they are- and I do think the floating portion of the esplanade is a pretty special little spot so I’m for it.
that is true about the hinged joints on the floating walkway, but those massive bumps in the concrete just south of that, on the path adjacent to the grate bridge? those are intentional! The designer actually thought that would be a cool feature!
They’re not intentional. How long have you been riding over them?
They used to be smooth when that hanging grate bridge was installed. They’re the supports for the bridge. Now that the earth has settled they’ve become obstacles. It’s so bad that they’ve now painted them all to warn you about them.
They’re going to have to tear up the sidewalk in between them and redo it to the height of the supports again.
I have been riding it since it was installed, and I am friends with a LA who works at the firm that designs it. The tops of the footings were intentionally higher than the adjacent flatwork to create a rythm. Differential settling (and a lack of dowelling, I presume) has created a horribly jarring surface
It creates a rhythm alright… “Elephant Dancing to Bass Drum and Jackhammer” comes to mind.
I have often wondered about those! They bug me to no end!
If I’m going to take my kids biking around city streets outside of a Sunday Parkways ride, then protected bike lanes are a must. Otherwise, we’re stuck riding to places along dedicated bike paths.
Bike lockers would be nice to keep valuables on your bike as safe as the bike itself. You may not consider $20 tail lights valuable and yet…. Also, they keep the bike out of the rain / sun / tinkering hands.
Finally, some resources to combat bike theft and an indoor air conditioned velodrome 😛
Hear, hear on the velodrome.
The number one thing I’d like is more diverters, period – bike boulevards only work when there’s either enough bikes on them to ensure they’re treated like bike boulevards, or if there are diverters severing them from the flow of car traffic. A bike boulevard that doesn’t have any diverters (real ones, not those mini-roundabouts on 7th) isn’t actually a full-time part of the city’s bike network – once it gets rainy, or too hot, or a little chilly, people stop riding it and cars stop sharing it.
That being said, I think a diverter every 4 blocks is excessive and likely counter-productive. The point of a diverter isn’t to make sure there’s never a car sharing the boulevard with you, it’s to dissuade drivers from choosing a bike boulevard for extended distances. Once you’ve got enough diverters, smartly placed, to accomplish that goal, the rest are just dangerous concrete obstacles that cyclists have to navigate around. Diverters every 4 blocks would absolutely ruin a bike boulevard like SE Ankeny, which is currently (in my opinion) the best way to get across that part of town via bike.
I dunno. Every time I go to Europe, I notice that the older medieval cities are essentially a whole district with diverters, but in the form of irregularly curved streets, one-ways, narrow alleys, mobile bollards, but with all users sharing the street at roughly 14 mph, none able to go a block without encountering another barrier.
The problem I have with 20th Century streets is that not only are they dominated by cars, but that they are so wide and straight, even in Europe, that there is little to physically deter a crazy homicidal or suicidal driver from going as fast as they want, hitting pedestrians and cyclists alike. What we need are streets where bikes and walkers dominate, but that cars are guests, like what the Dutch preach.
If I was really honest, based upon the realities of our poor traffic enforcement everywhere, the physical infrastructure I’d strive for would be a continuous street (or district) that allowed cars, freight, bicycles, scooters, mopeds, local transit, and pedestrians to share the same road at a similar disadvantage, none being allowed to go more than 20 km/hr (14mph), with enough impediments and diverters to keep even insane drivers from going over 15 mph. Lots of seemingly random planters, shrubbery (Roger the Shrubber?), bike racks, kiosks, bus stops, loading zones, sidewalk and street cafes, pocket parks, and such. Like a Walmart parking lot, but more European, and miles long; inner & outer Division at 14 mph, so to speak.
I’d like to upvote this twice because of the shrubbery reference.
“even in Europe, that there is little to physically deter a crazy homicidal or suicidal driver from going as fast as they want, hitting pedestrians and cyclists alike.”
you’ll like this 9 min Claude Lelouch film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SySx_xcDNEg
Paris, 1970s judging from the cars. The driver ran at least one red light. I admit I found it spell-binding. Thanks.
There are a lot more signals these days. Paris’ medieval core was largely gutted in the 17th and 19th centuries and replaced with wide boulevards.
If you’re driving for more than 2 blocks on a greenway then you’re doing it wrong. Putting a diverter every 4 blocks is being generous to drivers.
Anytime I’m on a greenway and a car is following me for more than a couple blocks I know they’ll pass me unsafely.
Actually, a center turn lane on SE Hawthorne as part of a three-lane cross section would free up space for bike infrastructure, improve traffic flow and safety, and allow left turns at the major signalized intersections, which aren’t currently allowed, and which currently forces left-turning motorists onto residential streets.
As far as diverters every four blocks on greenways are concerned, that would result in a huge amount of collateral damage in the form of forcing motorists to use other residential streets instead (because if you think the diverters will keep motorists on the arterial streets, you are delusional)…
“Actually, a center turn lane on SE Hawthorne as part of a three-lane cross section would free up space for bike infrastructure”
Actually, it wouldn’t. If you give one lane to the center and one lane to bike then you end up with a 5′ bike lane and that’s not adequate infrastructure. Plus you end up with the same problem you have closer in where traffic is stopped and oncoming drivers turning left-hook you because they don’t see you coming up the narrow bike lane.
Hawthorne should have the outer lanes converted to protected bike lanes. There are lots of places on Hawthorne that cyclists want to go but can’t get to safely. Plus this will stop the bus from driving down the middle of both car lanes.
Anything that allows kids to ride alongside parents instead of in front of or behind them.
Been doing a lot of summer riding with kids and being in a narrow bike lane constantly having to look back to see how they’re doing is annoying. Just like driving and walking people want to be next to each other while biking. This is not a hard concept to grasp.
-no right on red
-diverters on all neighborhood greenways
-wider lanes and paths
My favorite thing: Other People on Bicycles!
Being the only bicyclist around feels dangerous — whether it’s a city street or the Springwater in January. Other people on bikes changes the whole experience on so many levels. Feel like drivers are more likely to be on the look-out for us and to expect to see us (and to see the kids on bikes!). If something goes wrong somebody will stop and help you (how many of us have stopped to help a family with a kid with a slow leak flat tire?). Plus, you can have great random conversations.
I know the question was “what infrastructure” — but numbers of people on bikes is a type of infrastructure. It’s not the type you can order from a construction catalogue, or “build” by simply pouring concrete. But it is certainly a type of infrastructure.
I was cycling in Victoria, BC, a few weeks ago and noticed two amazing things (to me) that have been mentioned here a few times:
1) Trail right-of-way: On the Galloping Goose Trail in the urban zone, the trail had right-of-way over small streets that it crossed. In the morning bike rush hour, bikes flew through the intersections (which freaked me out a bit) while any cars on the cross streets were stopped at stop signs. The signs on the trail simply said “Crossing Ahead” or something like that, but had no yield or stop signs for cyclists. It was like BizarroWorld! I rode probably five miles on the GGT/Lochside before encountering a road where I had to wait to cross.
2) Cycletracks/protected bike lanes: Victoria recently added two-way protected bike lanes to two of its downtown core one-way streets, complete with bicycle-only signals that act as LPIs (leading pedestrian intervals), even ahead of the pedestrian signals in some cases, and no-right-turn signs for the cars. Not everyone is happy about this, of course. Some even have legitimate concerns (blind people trying to cross the bike lanes to get to the bus stops).
It was amazing to me to see bike infrastructure that prioritized bicycles over cars so noticeably. Not everything in Victoria is as “bike-friendly” as is often claimed, but these aspects were pretty great.
Stumped at the mention of what I’ve always called a ‘refuge lane’… there are many places in the area where I know it greatly helps me in a car to make a safe left turn- would think the ability to make safer car turns would only help bikes.
I now live in a city with lots of refuge lanes (turn lanes with concrete medians on both sides). They scare the bejesus out of me in the same way a sharrow on the right lane of a two-lane arterial does, for the same reasons: cars generally do not drive anywhere near the posted speed limit, usually 20 mph over, and their ability to stop and not kill or maim me is severely limited.
Commuting on southbound Greeley, from Going to Interstate particularly. I wish there was a cut through the railyard to avoid crossing all the cars and semi-trucks going 40-60 MPH to get on I5 southbound.