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First Look: New raised bike lane on SW Madison

Posted by on September 2nd, 2020 at 9:02 am

You can’t tell from this image but the green bike lane is separated from the roadway by a curb.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County is putting finishing touches on the new courthouse building next to the Hawthorne Bridge and the $325 million project included a big change to the bike lane on SW Madison.

How it used to look.

Instead of a standard, unprotected bike lane, bicycle users now ride up on a raised path adjacent to the sidewalk. The new bike lane is grade-separated from other lanes and is colored green. There are yellow plastic wands and pavement markings to help designate the cycling space from the walking space. The bike lane returns to the roadway level just as you approach the Naito Parkway on-ramp to cross onto the bridge deck.

The video below shows a handlebar-view of the new bike lane from 1st to the bridge:

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SW Madison is one of the busiest bikeways in Portland (at least it was before the pandemic) and it’s seen slow and steady updates for bicycle users in recent years.

In May 2019 the Portland Bureau of Transportation created a bus and bike-only lane on SW Madison between 4th and 1st avenues. And in 2013 the County added plastic wands and curbs to separate bike riders from other traffic on the eastbound bridge viaduct. PBOT’s Central City in Motion plan has a project to continue adding protection to the bikeway eastbound onto Hawthorne Blvd. That project is slated to begin construction next month.

Another related project that will impact this section of bikeway is the new signal coming to the Naito Parkway on-ramp to the bridge. PBOT broke ground on that project back in July.

A County spokesperson told us this morning that the courthouse is slated to officially open October 5th.

Here are a few more images:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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cmh89
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cmh89

Projects like this show that PBOT knows how to build quality bike infrastructure, they just choose not to build it anywhere that isn’t in the central city.

Matt
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Matt

A good improvement but it would be nice if the elevation were maintained where cars merge. Cyclists and pedestrians have the right of way there, so why should their paths be disrupted?

Kyle Banerjee
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Although raised paths drastically reduce vehicle encroachment, I’m not really a fan.

Among other things, they make it more difficult and dangerous for cyclists to cleanly pass each other. This is especially an issue when riding uphill, wider cycles are involved (e.g. trikes or trailers), and/or slow riders don’t ride to the right.

Joseph E
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Joseph E

The yellow plastic wands between pedestrians and bike riders are a very strange idea.

K'Tesh
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I don’t like the look of that edge… If you fall off of it (say passing someone), looks like you can’t just roll back into the lane w/o stopping. That is, presuming that the fall off the edge doesn’t dump you on your ass in the first place.

PS
Guest
PS

Like all new bike infrastructure this was fine before, though it may be better now and certainly would have been better if they had asked me about it. It will make it harder to pass, but I’ll pass anyway unless I think it is unsafe to pass which I am the sole determiner of, but of course it is always too damn close. Regardless, whichever organization is responsible for making this, they didn’t do it the way I would, even though the deck I built a few years ago is a death trap. For the slower cyclist it will make them more comfortable since they have been doing this bike commuting thing for years and used to be fast, but now they really understand what cycling is about, and it isn’t speed. Ya know the secret to bike commuting is waterproof pants over jeans, otherwise you’re sweaty before you get to work at the art coop that doesn’t exist anymore in innner SE. All the people who commute on race bikes are racist, misogynists, definitely gentrifiers and probably have a BMW they don’t even drive. I could admit this is better, but there is certainly somewhere, anywhere in the six quadrants of this city, that didn’t get something they need, so I must comment on it, particularly if I think it is east of 82nd ave.

Did I miss anything?

James S
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James S

Looks lovely, but they might have gone overboard with the plastic bollards. I think half as many would have gotten the message through

Lynne
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Lynne

Well, um, ok. I ride from the vicinity of Hwy 217/US-26 into town, over the Hawthorne Bridge and then out to a weaving studio in SE. I found the raised bike lane before they painted and signed it, and was pleasantly surprised this week to find it a cheery “bicycles here!” Green. I had been riding down from Washington Park, all the way down Salmon to 3rd, (like I’ve done for over a decade) but one day, took a right on Park, and a left on SW Madison, and it was a TOTAL game changer. Much less traffic and exponentially better pavement.

The raised edge doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the raised edge on the actual bridge. I only ride in the “bike” section if there are pedestrians.

So, yes, I like it very much.