It has been a long time coming but I am happy to say that the North Greeley Avenue bike path is open. I shared a sneak peek a few weeks ago so I won’t bore you with details again, but since that post the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has finished the striping and, more importantly, the bike signal at the north end.
Now, about that signal. Because PBOT chose to create a two-way bike path on just one side of the road (and remove an existing bike lane from the other side) they had to figure out a way to direct southbound bicycling traffic onto the new path. This means bicycle riders have to; know how to use a bicycle-only signal, wait for it to turn green, and cross over a very wide intersection while putting their full trust in PBOT signal engineers and other road users (see third photo below).
To get the bike signal to work, you’ve got to wait in the right place on the sensor pad. There’s a “Stop Here” sign that points to the ground where it is. Unfortunately it’s not 100% clear where exactly to position your bike. I know what a sensor pad looks like, but not everyone does. I watched one rider wait through 3 signal cycles before he got his bike in the right place and got the green. That worries me because when people get impatient and/or don’t think signals “see” them, they will run the red. And doing that in this location could have terrible consequences.
The other thing that concerns me is the behavior of other road users. One of the times I went through on a green, a truck driver turned left onto Greeley (southbound, from westbound Going) while I was in the intersection. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to do that.
Overall the signal works like it’s supposed to, and it’s much better than the old bike lane that forced us to cross a freeway on-ramp. I’m a bit nervous however about bicycle riders crossing diagonally through a wide intersection where people drive at high speeds, there are a lot of big trucks, and where there’s a relatively low volume of bike riders (and therefore other road users aren’t expecting them). I think many people will just skip the signal and continue south without moving over to the path. As I pointed out last month, this puts them in a shared-lane environment with car users going 50+ mph.
Have you used the new signal yet? What about that path? How would rate this project on a scale of 1-10?
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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