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City relents to neighborhood concerns, will stripe unprotected bike lanes on N Denver

Posted by on December 20th, 2018 at 1:08 pm

*PBOT conceptual drawings from September showing the original design (on the left) and the modified one created after hearing concerns from some residents.

A project that initially proposed parking-protected bike lanes on North Denver Avenue will now get just standard bike lanes.

“The project can be delivered with standard bike lanes and curb-tight parking while leaving open the potential to switch to parking-protected bike lanes as part of a future project.
— Geren Shankar, PBOT project manager

That’s the decision made by the Portland Bureau of Transportation after tallying public feedback and responding to concerns in the neighborhood about how the bike lanes would impact their lives.

Back in March we shared the original plans for Denver between Lombard and Watts. The idea was use a planned repaving project as an opportunity to create an “all ages and abilities” bikeway that would connect the Arbor Lodge and Kenton neighborhoods. Instead of a bike lane next to moving traffic and parked cars, the proposal would have built curbside bike lanes protected from drivers by a parking lane (similar to what we have on Rosa Parks) The newly designed street would be much safer for all users and it was scheduled to be constructed this past summer.

But when the project got to the Kenton Neighborhood Association, PBOT received pushback and opted to delay the project a full year. In a meeting back in September to allay concerns, garner feedback, and consider other options, PBOT Project Manager Geren Shankar characterized the neighborhood opposition as: confusion over where to place trash cans, how the new design might impact driving, and complaints about inadequate public outreach. At that time the plan was to take a survey and get as much feedback as possible then tally the responses and make a decision.


The choices were: A parking-protected bike lane or a standard bike lane. In a letter being sent to Kenton neighbors today, PBOT says their choice is a standard bike lane.

Here’s the text of the letter from PBOT’s Shankar:

“We initially proposed repaving N Denver Avenue this past summer with protected bike lanes, transit stops and crossing medians. We received positive support, but also heard some concerns about the proposed design and placed the project on hold to continue our outreach with the neighborhood. Outreach included a direct mailing, an online survey, a presentation at a meeting of the Kenton Neighborhood Association, and a public open house held on October 2, 2018.

While most of the Portlanders providing feedback on the project supported the original design, many residents still had concerns. In addition to reviewing the concerns about the design, we evaluated the possibility of signalized crossing improvements along the corridor but found that they were not warranted at this time. Our project team has determined that the project can be delivered with standard bike lanes and curb-tight parking while leaving open the potential to switch to parking-protected bike lanes as part of a future project. In the interest of moving forward with the needed paving maintenance in the summer of 2019, this is what we will do.”

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

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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

  • Su Wonda December 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Truly Platinum

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  • bikeninja December 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    I think these folks will be sorry. The parking protected lane would have minimized the danger to their houses from burning cars when the “Yellow Vest Movement” comes to Portland from France.

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    • Racer X December 20, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Actually the homeowners would be more likely be wearing the yellow vests…given the “optics” of this project.

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      • Toby Keith December 21, 2018 at 9:02 am

        Hey now, it’s soren’s job to bash those evil home owners! ; )

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  • Racer X December 20, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Hello, The Streets Trust: This looks like a great opportunity to dust off your legal council and move towards suing the City for a street design that would likely have higher injury rates AND not completely fulfill Council policies for complete streets and vision zero and the 2030/35 Plan. I know its been almost 30 years and 5 (?) office moves since this tool was last used…I hope it is still in the tool box marked “BTA”.

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    • Racer X December 20, 2018 at 1:19 pm
    • Kelly December 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      The Street Trust will never sue the bureau that funds their Safe Routes to School program.

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    • buildwithjoe December 20, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Nobody can trust “The Street Trust” because they say the new freeway project is “much needed”. This is the freeway that will repair the damage done by the prior freeway. This is the freeway that removes the bike favorite Flint Ave .

      Wake up everyone. There is not a single bike advocacy group in Portland willing to take any risks or make any noise. Bike Loud has been taken over by some people who prefer to be quiet and trust the city will do what is best in the long term.

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      • Kelly December 20, 2018 at 3:30 pm

        Flint is a terrible overpass for bikes. It’s just sharrows. The Rose Quarter project builds two new bike/ped only overpasses. Sure there are plenty of problems with this project and I personally believe it to be a waste of money, but presenting like it’s all doom and gloom for bikers is disingenuous at best. Such is the state of advocacy in 2018: over-exaggerate everything in order to rile people up to get on “your side” rather than get people together to actually solve problems.

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      • Rebecca December 20, 2018 at 10:13 pm

        So, you were going to start the kind of organization you think this town needs? Do let everyone know when the first meeting will be.

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  • Bjorn December 20, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    What is the percentage of support needed to make a safety improvement? 90% 95% 99%??? It is crazy that most people wanted this, they know it will be a safer design, yet still they are not going to do it.

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    • Racer X December 20, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Actually it is much higher for most bike projects especially those along “owner occupied” vs. “renter occupied” corridors, say 110%, it seems most times based on my past professional experience. The internally self imposed support threshold for bike vehicle is at least double motor vehicle projects…still.

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  • maxD December 20, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    PBOT is so lame! Why is it so hard to advocate for safety? There are simple answers to all of the concerns about trash cans, etc. This is pathetic.

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    • MantraPDX December 20, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      Right? My understanding is that we’re supposed to be placing our bins at the end of the driveway instead of in the street anyway!

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      • Todd Boulanger December 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

        The “garbage” bin design issue can be well managed…and improve ADA accessibility (get those storage bins off the sidewalk!)…by designating zones within the bike lane buffer/ parking lane…as the City of Vancouver’s (WA) project design did for its [soon to be built?] McLoughlin Blvd. buffered bike lane project. The staff and consultant team worked with the refuse company (Waste Connections), USPS and other frequent institutional parkers / services to make sure that the design would work well. I heard feedback from staff that these entities thought the proposed design would be safety for their staff servicing the mailboxes, picking up trash etc of the existing ‘out of date’ street layout.

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      • mh December 21, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        You want the far more dangerous trash trucks in and out of the bike lane?

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        • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2018 at 1:41 pm

          No. The refuse / recycling trucks would load from the MV travel lane and the bins would be staged for pick up in a marked area between the parking stalls…thus leaving the sidewalk and bikeway clear…per the Vancouver proposed design for McLoughlin Blvd bikeway.

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          • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2018 at 1:52 pm

            Now, if the CoP (and any other NW city) wants to really manage the urban trash / recycling conflict with complete streets and traffic safety…then they should consider strongly adopting the Dutch method of urban collection. This system has multiple benefits for dense residential neighbourhoods: reduction of barriers for pedestrians/ cyclists/ ADA, cleaner streets, less visual clutter, smaller / lighter loads for older residents to deal with (vs. heavier carts) AND much less vehicle and trash pick up noise (the crane picks up the whole load vs. dumping glass and bagging each bin every 50 feet). This system has been in use for at least 20 years…I always surprise some smart planner or mayor has not tried to pilot here in the NW.

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            • MantraPDX December 22, 2018 at 7:43 pm

              Thanks for sharing this Todd. That’s a great idea! I’m sort of surprised I missed these during my travels through Belgium and the Netherlands.

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    • Kelly December 20, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      You just have to advocate harder if you want PBOT to listen. How hard you ask? Always just slightly harder than whatever was done for the project. Oh and I hear the bar down the street has free beer tomorrow.

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  • John Lascurettes December 20, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    “The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.”
    — Lt. Spork

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    • John December 21, 2018 at 10:05 am

      But if we followed this logic wouldn’t it mean that PBOT actually was catering to cyclists?

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    • Patrick December 21, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      As I recall from ST2: The Wrath of Khan, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…that’s why spock sacrificed himself to get the warp engines back online.. =)

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  • Bald One December 20, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    The decision represents a pragmatic improvement to bike safety on this street. Parking protected bike lanes have many complications and additional safety concerns that the standard bike lane does not have. For those that will still feel unsafe in the standard bike lanes proposed on Denver, the sidewalks here present many of the same benefits and car-free safety features of the parking protected bike lane and will be an excellent alternative. This was the correct decision.

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    • Matt Meskill December 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Cycling on sidewalks should never be an acceptable alternative. This represents a pragmatic cave in to the motoring community and a pragmatic disregard for #visionzero and cyclists’ safety.

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      • Jason December 21, 2018 at 7:54 am

        A protected bike lane is basically riding on the sidewalk. Consider this, the only difference is the protected bike lane is some 10″ lower than the sidewalk. Otherwise, the result is the same. Bikes seperated from the street by parked cars.

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        • Chris I December 21, 2018 at 11:05 am

          Definitely not the same. Protected bike lanes are typically wider, have better sight lines, and a smoother rolling surface.

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          • Matt Meskill December 21, 2018 at 11:09 pm

            And hopefully no pedestrians.

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      • Bald One December 21, 2018 at 8:42 am

        I consider a wide, buffered bike lane on a calm neighborhood street with additional traffic calming features to be a perfectly safe place to cycle – especially when considering the numerous structural and functional deficiencies of a car-parking protected bike lane in the gutter as the other option. For anyone who cannot consider a wide, buffered bike lane on a calm neighborhood street to be a perfectly lovely place to ride, there are additional options as noted, on the sidewalk. What’s not to like about this?

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  • Gary B December 20, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Won’t someone think of the trashcans!!

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  • Maria December 20, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    Yay! I really dislike the configuration on the left (bike lane between parking lane and curb). I’m riding Rosa Parks daily and am constantly challenged by: cars parked in bike lane, trash cans in bike lane, debris in bike lane, strollers/car seats in bike lane (car drivers unload), yard maintenance crew unloading equipment into bike lane, near right hooks because drivers can’t see me. I hope this style goes away – it’s inconsistent, confusing and in my opinion – dangerous.

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    • Kelly December 20, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      I think the curbside lanes are best but only when coupled with actual curbs separating them from the parking lane, and parking banned near intersections. Otherwise you’re right, people just park in them and you can’t see around the parked cars.

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    • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      Maria, sorry to hear of your struggles using the Rosa Parks facility. What this speaks to is an operational, education and enforcement issue that the CoP (and most cities) really has not comprehended through the ranks – once the planning, design and construction phases are done and the ribbon cutting/ gold shovels are stored away – as to how to really bring home VZ and complete streets.

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      • Maria December 23, 2018 at 11:24 pm

        Thanks, Todd. A big part of the challenge of these poorly named “parkingbprotected” bike lanes is their inconsistency to infrastructure throughout the city. Confusion = danger. I feel so much safer, and much more visible, in plain old bike lanes. I’ve had many close calls in parking protected lanes that simply wouldn’t have happened in the standard bike lane. I’d prefer safety now over education now for safety later.

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  • julia December 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Some people aren’t used to this design and it can cause huge safety issues. Near Lloyd Center / Green Zebra, I’ve seen people not knowing where to park and they end up parking somewhat in the bike lane and their passenger doors fly open and they walk right into cyclists on their way to get to the sidewalk.

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    • Matt Meskill December 20, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Education is needed then I suppose.

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    • Jason December 21, 2018 at 7:50 am

      Down near SW Pine and 2nd the same things happen. Pedestrians loitering in the bike lane.

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  • B. Carfree December 20, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    What an awful choice: a DZBL or a door-zone gutter lane that is likely even more hazardous. Why is it so impossible to remove some on-street parking so that people can use the street to, you know, actually move down the street with a modicum of safety.

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  • Mao December 20, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    As someone who grew up in Kenton, my concern about the ‘car potected’ bike lane is making left turns. It’s already tricky, where I need to do a good ol’ Copenhagen to make my left. But if I have a wall of cars I wouldn’t be able to move to the turn lane as easily.

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    • Jason December 21, 2018 at 7:48 am

      Good point. Protected lanes restrict cyclist’s road usage.

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  • Mark smith December 20, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Cars over bikes when push comes to shove in Portland

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  • Jd December 21, 2018 at 5:03 am

    This is actually a really good call in my opinion. I used to think protected bike lanes were a really great idea. I now think they are a disaster and pose more of a threat to cyclists than a traditional bike lane with a buffer. I ride NE Multnomah every day and deal with multiple close calls with passenger doors and right hooks. Keep in mind that I’m not riding fast (about 12-15 mph) and am paying close attention. I do think education is a key in reducing this problem but you simply can’t solve the visual obstruction issue. I’d like to encourage everyone who thinks that this change to the N Denver plan is regeressive to go ride Multnomah for a few days in a row. I’m sure your prospective will change as well.

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  • Jason December 21, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Having used the “protected” bike lane on SW 2nd from Pine to Burnside, I say good!

    So called “protected” bike lanes are fine, until the next intersection. Numerous times I have had to reliquish -give up, sacrifice- my right of way so as to **save my life**. The hooks, in this case left, are real. Deadly real. When is a cyclist most vulnerable? When they are not seen. What does a motori see, a line of parked cars or a bike riding behind a line of parked cars? Parked cars of course!! Parking protected bike lanes are the wrong solution to the problem.

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  • Jason December 21, 2018 at 7:58 am

    John Lascurettes
    “The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.” — Lt. SporkRecommended 5

    Did you intemd to misquote that? =P

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    • Alan Love December 21, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      I think you missed the sarcasm. As Hobie One Kenobby said, “Do or do not, or don’t even try.”

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  • Chris I December 21, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Can we just compromise and remove all of the street parking?

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    • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      I wonder if that option was even in the evaluation…after all, my memory of that section of Denver (post 1900/ car era) was that the SFRs had driveways AND garages.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    AND as the smart rabbit once said: “Trix are for Kids!”

    …what about lowering the design speed of the street to 15 mph AND removing the kerbside car storage AND shifting parking to the unused median lane when there are refuge islands at each intersection?! (The project rendering just shows the median space as “striped pavement” (not even tree space). I am sure most residents would rather have some on-street parking for “holiday visitors” than easy turning access into their driveways…just do a “USPS turn” (the opposite of a UPS turn).

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    • Todd Boulanger December 21, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      Additionally, a residential / business parking management plan likely needs to be added to this project’s task list. (Bring Rick Williams out of retirement and off of that beach he is on. 😉

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  • Jason December 22, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Chris I
    Definitely not the same. Protected bike lanes are typically wider, have better sight lines, and a smoother rolling surface.Recommended 2

    I can point to numerous sidewalks that are in the 7′ wide range, so no – not wider. Certainly sightlines are worse in so called protected bike lanes, bikes are hidden from cars until the intersection. This increases right hooking. So far as smooth goes, I don’t know what city you live in, but in portland every city street is rough. Sidewalks are much smoother.

    Pushing bike lanes behind parked cars panders to the two arguments, “bikes don’t belong on the road” and “bicycling is not safe”.

    I advocate for bike lanes in the road. Because that is where bikes belong.

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    • USbike December 24, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Protected bike lanes aren’t the appropriate solution in every single situation, but they can be among the best on the busier roads. And they are also part of the street despite the separation, whether it be by a painted buffer, solid line, curbs or parking lane. The sight line issue is definitely a very valid one and the solution should be to prohibit parking 20-25 feet from the intersection at a minimum. As an American currently living in the Netherlands, I really cannot express how different the entire traffic system (and mentality) is between the two countries. In the busier arterial Dutch streets, you have well-separated bicycle paths that are almost always done in red pavement. They are just as much part of the road as the auto or transit lanes. But these are also only installed where it is deemed necessary. The main considerations include speed, volume of traffic and number of traffic lanes. From what I’ve read, this turns out to be about 25% of the Dutch roads having separated bike lanes, since residential streets make up the bulk of the mileage and these almost never have them.

      Obviously careful planning and design will be needed, especially with bike infrastructure that is still relatively new for the States. I also see that some American cities are starting to give some thought to protected intersections, instead of just always ending the bike lanes beforehand. The journey towards creating a more-inclusive infrastructure system for everyone is going to be very bumpy at times. The longer we wait, the more slow and bumpy a ride it will be. The Dutch also had to spend a long time reconciling the needs of motorists with everyone else. They have worked diligently on this for the last 4-5 decades and have since resolved most of the kinks. Sometimes even they have to make slight adjustments for specific scenarios. But things like separated bike paths, bike traffic lights, contraflow for bikes, traffic calming measures and protected intersections have all long since become mainstream there.

      And all these efforts have not transformed Dutch society into a car-hating one, where everyone wants to walk and bike to save the world from climate change, etc. On the contrary, many of my Dutch colleagues, who both drive and bike, often complain that it’s a hassle to drive around cities with all the no-entry or one-way only streets for cars, or that they have to detour all the way around the ring road to get to another part of town.

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      • Jason December 24, 2018 at 5:36 pm

        Fact of the matter is, so called protected bike lanes create ” deer crossing” scenarios at the intersection. Suddenly a bicycle appears. Just not safe.

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        • USbike December 26, 2018 at 7:19 am

          A properly-built protected bicycle path, combined with the protected intersection design, would largely eliminate this potential deer crossing scenario that you mentioned. Striped bike lanes, on the other hand, leave much more room for this type of maneuver to happen. This seems to be a major reason why some object to protected bike lanes, since some riders want the flexibility to leave the bike lane when necessary. I see two main issues with this approach. The first is that something in the road design is obviously lacking to begin with that some people feel the need to bypass the design. The 2nd related issue is that this “leaving the bike lane” is exactly the deer-crossing situation that you described. The legality discussion aside, there’s no defined place where this can or should occur-it’s really up to the individual rider and the traffic situation at hand. As a result, it can become rather unpredictable where cyclists could potential do this.

          For a little while when I lived in Tallahassee, I would also do this maneuver on occasion at one particular nasty intersection. There were 4 auto lanes in the one direction and also a painted bike lane that ended before the intersection. Because I was fast and fit enough, I would sometimes cross over the 3 lanes of traffic to get into the left-turn lane which had a separate turn phase. But it wasn’t a pleasant experience to say the least with all the heavy traffic, and even a few close encounters. I also can’t imagine my deer-crossing maneuver being especially pleasant for the motorists either. Eventually I just did the Copenhagen-left, which was usually faster anyway since I often couldn’t get into that left-turn lane before the turn signal went red. This goes right back to my 1st issue, which is that the infrastructure is not adequately designed for cyclists in the first place. Luckily, several American cities are now experimenting with different treatments like protected intersections and protected bike lanes. These haven’t been around for decades in the States, so it’s reasonable that some people are very skeptical. That being said, such designs should be properly implemented; if claims are going to be made that something is of Dutch or Danish design, then it had better be up to those respective standards. I hope Portland doesn’t just become the American equivalent of Copenhagen, which has done an incredible job of marketing to overshadow the many actual deficiencies in its infrastructure.

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          • Jason December 27, 2018 at 6:43 am

            No. Dont misquote me. The deer crossing scenario I speak of is at the intersection. It has nothing to do wise people abandoning broken lane design.

            Deer crossings happen at normal angle to the road, which is why I use the analogy. Cars turning at intersections with so called protected bike lanes find bikes in a deer crossing scenario. I.E. crossing the intersection to the next thicket of parked cars.

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  • Steve B. December 24, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I’m OK with this decision on Denver. Traffic speeds are relatively calm thanks to prolific speed bumps and horizontal deflection, and these parking protected lanes hide people on bikes and surprise people driving at each intersection. It’s also difficult to make left turns out of the lane.

    I know we have typically given PBOT guff for not putting in the cheapest, easiest semi-protected lanes everywhere, however given the challenges involved, it seems we should probably not do protection “on the cheap” and instead rely on buffered lanes until we can properly fund a protected bikeway.

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  • mark smith December 25, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Fact of the matter is, so called protected bike lanes create ” deer crossing” scenarios at the intersection. Suddenly a bicycle appears. Just not safe.Recommended 0

    Sure. Keep hitting that broken trumpet. Guessing you want your child to be the human buffer between cars?

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    • Jason December 27, 2018 at 8:26 am

      Attack the argument not the person.

      In 1988 I bought my first bike with paper route earnings. It was a Nishiki Colorado. From that point on, Ive always had a bike. In fact, I’ve owned more bikes than cars. So what I’m saying is, I know first hand what a child experiences on the road, since I grew up on a bicycle and going to bike shops.

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  • mark smith December 25, 2018 at 7:56 am

    It’s interesting to see all the “cyclists” that have capitulated to a car first solution. It’s like this website should be called

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  • Roberta Robles December 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Seems Vision Zero was a waste of time, if the city doesn’t use this policy tool now, why did we even bother advocating for it? This is the time to use it.

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