Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Portland’s first red bus lane will be installed today

Posted by on October 30th, 2019 at 7:20 am

Red lanes will hopefully fix this.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“We cannot combat climate change without dramatic changes to the way we currently live.”
— Chloe Eudaly, PBOT Commissioner

The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced yesterday they plan to install our first-ever red transit lane today on SW Main Street between 1st and 2nd avenues.

This is a small yet important step in PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s larger Rose Lane Project which will use red to give bus operators priority on a network of routes citywide. As we reported earlier this month, the move comes after PBOT won federal approval to use the red treatment.

In a statement, Commissioner Eudaly said this move is about changing behaviors and tackling climate change. “We cannot combat climate change without dramatic changes to the way we currently live… These new red lanes signal our commitment to doing everything we can to make transit an attractive option for more Portlanders and prioritizing tangible climate action in the face of looming climate catastrophe.”

Advertisement

Bicycle users will still have to contend with bus operators merging left after 2nd Ave and auto users turning right.

This one block of SW Main currently has four lanes; two standard lanes, one bike-only lane and one bus only lane. PBOT installed the bus and bike lane in December 2017. At that time we reported that advocates — and former PBOT Director Leah Treat — wanted the agency to do more to improve the street. The two requests were to prohibit auto users from making right turns onto 2nd Avenue and to move the bus stop one block west. Both moves would have improved conditions for bicycle riders. In the end, PBOT said those changes were beyond the scope of the project (which originated as a simple repave and didn’t include time or resources for more holistic changes, the said).

The work being done Wednesday will fill in the existing bus-only lane with red coloring. No other changes are currently planned. That means bicycle users will still have to contend with bus operators merging left across the bike lane (because it moves to curbside west of 2nd) and auto users turning right at 2nd).

PBOT hopes these new red lanes prevent drivers from using the bus lane. As we’ve seen in New York City, when coupled with good design and enforcement, red transit lanes work. Since this is an experiment, PBOT says they’ll partner with Portland State University to collect before-and-after data to evaluate the project’s impact on bus speeds and driver compliance.

If this goes according to plan, PBOT says they plan to roll out similar treatments at NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Lloyd Blvd, NE Grand and Burnside, and NE Grand and Couch. Below is a map of the other locations and drawings of the potential implementations (from PBOT’s page on the red lane experiment):

We are yet to learn details of more robust implementations planned as part of Commissioner Eudaly’s Rose Lane Project. A city council date for those plans has been set for February 2020.

UPDATE: Nick Falbo just posted a live look at the red going in:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

37
Leave a Reply

avatar
21 Comment threads
16 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
27 Comment authors
mark smithMatt S.PSChris Ijayson Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It’s too cold for such work.

Matthew in PDX
Guest
Matthew in PDX

No enforcement = no compliance.

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Do all the buses run on natural gas (and is there a plan to get them carbon-free within a reasonable period of time?)

dirk mcgee
Guest
dirk mcgee

Ok, now the bus mall

igor
Guest
igor

Wait…are cars not allowed to turn right on 2nd? The article says that was outside the scope of the original project, but then says that TriMet hopes that cars stay out of the new bus lane.

Bill Stites
Subscriber

Now that the bus lane will no longer be combined with a turning lane, will they fill in the bike lane with solid green?
And will they add a line of reflective bollards [NOT protection] to deter encroachment of right turning cars before 2nd ave. proper?

Kittens
Guest
Kittens

This is a great first start! These will make a really big difference as they continue to be rolled out.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Hopefully these crumbs will someday soon be a big batch of cookies for bus riders.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Key word here, and the one thing that will be missing, as in all over town, is enforcement.

maxD
Guest
maxD

this is SO modest!

Connor
Guest
Connor

‘LRT’ means Light Rail Transit. Although we usually use that term in Portland when referring to the MAX Light Rail, technically the Portland Streetcar is a form of light rail as well. This LRT marking will be used when painting streetcar lanes red.

Ex: Just like how a square is a type of rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares. All US Streetcar systems are LRT, but not all LRT systems are streetcars.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

LRT= Light Rail Vehicle.

Even worse are the “T” markings along the transit mall downtown. It means Train but because the T is a different size and width from the word BUS above it, it looks like some kind of abstract geometric shape. At least, to it did to me!

They should just put TRANSIT or BUS. It is not like a train is going to get confused and not enter the block.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

This seems wholly inadequate for any kind of experiment. If I’m understanding correctly, the lane to be painted is bus-only for half a block, then becomes a turn lane. So the only drivers this would potentially affect are those that get over into the right lane to turn before the turn lane officially begins. That’s a very specific scenario. Does the experiment provide useful data for the wider deployment of this treatment (i.e., drivers simply driving in a BAT lane)? I doubt it.

But more to the point, why do we need the experiment? We already know from elsewhere that this works.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The photo caption is “Red lanes will hopefully fix this.” The problem I see in the photo is that a car is stuck behind a bus. So is the idea that the red bus lanes will help car drivers pass buses more easily without getting stuck?

matchupancakes
Subscriber
matchupancakes

When can we expect the first red bus lanes in East Portland? 82nd Ave is ready for a pilot study from Clackamas to PDX.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Not sure paint will help with the level of distracted and mindless drivers out there. Yesterday I saw a guy turn left from Killingsworth on to the Northbound Max Tracks on Interstate. He then proceeded to drive 3 blocks down the train tracks before he figured it out. I know it is wrong of me, but I found myself hoping for a train to come and deliver him some “transit justice”.

Charley
Guest
Charley

This road is on my bike commute. The block covered in this article is problematic, but it’s nowhere near as much of a problem as the “Elk statue” block between 3rd and 4th. Because the bike lane ends in the previous block (thanks for nothing!), when traffic backs up at the elk statue, cyclists either have to hotdog left or right around the clot or get stuck breathing fumes, on an uphill, surrounded by angry, rush hour, multi-ton vehicle drivers. And this is at the end of the most popular bike bridge in the state. Way to roll out the red carpet, Portland.

I just want to know, who decided that the freaking statue is more important than our safety?

jayson
Guest
jayson

Will the average Portland driver conclude non-red spaces are open to all vehicles?

PS
Guest
PS

Rode it this morning, and coming off the bridge could see the same cluster forming between 1st and 2nd, so as I usually do, started working my way left as soon after the ramp to the bike lane as possible and avoided much of the lane changing before 2nd.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

I wonder why the city doesn’t sell this as a way to help decrease commute times. It’s great and all the city is trying to fight climate change with a one block bus only lane (what a joke), but it’s the commute time that most people are concerned about at 5pm. The climate crisis will sell itself if people are willing to get out of their cars and ride the bus because it’s faster than than driving.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Yet another test, far…far away from city hall.