As the City of Portland continues to roll out its Rose Lane transit-priority projects, the transportation bureau wants to push the design envelope beyond what federal guidelines allow.
At Portland City Council this week the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will seek authorization (via this ordinance) to spend $80,000 on a contract with Oregon State University to embark on research that will test the coexistence of bus and bike lanes. The research will focus on three specific corridors on PBOT’s Rose Lane Project list: SE Hawthorne/Madison, E Burnside, and SW 4th Ave.
Specifically, PBOT’s current plan to speed buses between Grand and SE 12th on SE Hawthorne includes a bus priority lane to the left of a bike-only lane. At some intersections, bus and car operators will be able to turn right — across a straight-running bike lane (see image below).
This design doesn’t meet guidance of the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) so PBOT is planning to file a “request to experiment” and justify the design with research. The study will evaluate that data in hopes of clarifying the MUTCD.
Hannah Schafer in PBOT’s communications office told us the OSU research will center around Chapter 9 of the MUTCD which states, “A through bicycle lane shall not be positioned to the right of a right turn only lane or to the left of a left turn only lane” (page 808). Schafer says the study is needed to find out if this 20-plus year old statement* is still true, “particularly as it applies to Rose Lanes.” (*The MUTCD is notoriously outdated and is a constant thorn in the side of progressive engineers nationwide.) Once the research is complete, Schafer says, “The hope is it help improve the designs and make it clearer how BAT [business access and transit] lanes work adjacent to bike lanes.”
Working with the FHWA on road design is nothing new for PBOT. They’ve successfully earned interim approval for colored bike boxes, colored bike lanes, and bicycle-only traffic signals. The new bike signal with a countdown timer on Broadway at North Williams is the subject of a study as well.
PBOT will work with OSU’s Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation Research. The project will lead to a peer-reviewed journal article and will be led by PBOT’s Signals, Street Lighting, & ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) Division Manager Peter Koonce.
NOTE: On Wednesday 11/18 I updated this article to clarify that PBOT plans to move forward with current plans and that the study will evaluate how the new lanes work. Sorry for any confusion.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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General question – In those communities that have both municipal garbage collection and municipal transit service, can municipal garbage trucks use bus-only lanes?
Perhaps the MUTCD rule is there to keep bikes from hitting the sides of buses and garbage trucks and killing the bike riders? I know Portland has had such crashes in the past.
Second question – Is that blue wedge circled in red supposed to be a concrete bus platform? Or a widened street section? The diagram is really unclear.
I’m not exactly sure what it was, but you can view the current drawings here. Scroll to page 24.
Then I’m confused because Jonathan’s colored illustration of the plans looks nothing like the actual plans. Thankfully, the mixed straight-and-right-turn lane doesn’t actually exist. Instead, cars mix through the bus lane into a right-turn only that crosses the bicycle lane. There’s a similar right-turn only across the bike lane at 8th.
I’d be worried how that’s going to work with long vehicles whose rear ends will cross over the bike lane and risk catching and dragging a waiting rider.
It would help cyclist safety, I suspect, if they pulled the Hawthorne right-turning car stop-line back away from the intersection a few feet, but because there’s a building right up against the sidewalk to the north, drivers won’t be able to see and they’ll creep forward, reducing compliance.
MaddHatter. Iain is showing newer/more detailed drawings than I show in the story. But that’s not really the important takeaway here. What’s important is that the design PBOT wants to build isn’t 100% MUTCD compliant on the issue of lane configuration and the research will focus on that issue.
I agree it’s not the takeaway, but I was confused, too. The portion of the MUTCD that they are deviating from is a right-turn-only lane, which isn’t shown in the early drawing in your article (combination turn and straight lane), but is in the drawings Iain linked to.
Gary B (and others).
Sorry this article wasn’t as clear as it should have been. I just talked to PBOT a bit more and edited the text. They will build the projects they have planned under a design exception and will evaluate data from before/after studies as part of the OSU research that will be completed after the projects are on the ground. So put another way, they are taking 2 paths here: A design exception and request to experiment. I’ll post separately about the specific projects when the time is right.
Yes its a long term frustration…in most NA communities…corridor design compromises that place two supportive modes (and their operators) in conflict.
none of the cyclists will like this… but that bike lane needs a stop light. i see so many conflicts as cars try to turn right, and a parade of cyclists of varying speeds coming off the bridge makes it hard to judge when the driver can safely turn – so they just go, bikes be damned. stopping bikes for a portion of the east-bound green light cycle for cars will help eliminate that conflict.
A bike signal would in fact allow the bike lane to be to the right of the right turn BAT lane. FHWA approved similar phasing at the new signal at 122nd and Powell. Having access to that data though I can tell you that even though there is a red arrow and a “No Turn on Red” sign driver compliance is very low with many drivers turning right over a green bike signal indication. Bike volumes are much higher on Hawthorne than Powell so driver compliance at this location could be higher.
An alternative is to have drivers get into the curb lane before the intersection so streams of traffic aren’t crossing one another while turning, like what we do at SW First, at the foot of the Hawthorne Bridge.
If that is a protected intersection in the picture, thank you PBOT!
Sorry to get you excited. Looks like paint only in the newer detailed drawings.
It’s not, but there is room to build one as part of a subsequent project, such as the protected bike lanes on 7th Ave. Last I heard that would have been a more substantial project that combines the bike infrastructure with repaving. With that said, the failure of the regional transportation measure likely means that there’s no funding identified for NE/SE 7th Ave.
I just heard they are implementing fully protected intersections on Division at 82nd, 122nd, 148th, & 162nd – designed, funded, and already out to bid, for 2021.
How about N. Interstate under those overpass pinchpoints near the rose quarter… wow, buses will not give a cyclist a brake – just blow by you going 35mph where the bike lane becomes 2-3′ wide. scary.