When the Portland Bureau of Transportation installed our city’s first protected bike lane (called a cycle-track back then) on Southeast Broadway adjacent to the Portland State University campus in August 2009, it lacked one crucial element: connection to anything else.
Despite Broadway being one of the most important north-south streets in the central city, that initial project (installed as part of former Mayor Sam Adams’ “First 100 Days” agenda) only went as far north as SW Clay. The goal was to connect all the way north to the Broadway Bridge.
Last fall, PBOT built protected lanes on Broadway from Hoyt to SW Oak; but again this crucial bikeway was left with a major gap through the heart of downtown. (Yes there’s a bike lane the entire length, but it’s a narrow unprotected, door-zone facility that’s woefully outdated.)
Now the full connection is finally within sight: At a meeting last week, PBOT announced they’ll reveal designs and start a public outreach process this spring in advance of finally completing the Broadway bikeway in 2022.
The new design will reconfigure Broadway between Clay and Oak from three general purpose lanes, two parking lanes, and a bike lane to two general purpose lanes, two parking lanes and a wider, buffered bike lane separated from moving traffic by parked cars. Some parking spaces will be removed to improve visibility at intersections.
You might recall that this section of Broadway was part of a “pop up bike lane” demonstration by Better Block PDX in 2016.
Similar to recent changes to NW Broadway, this $500,000 “quick build” project will consist of paint, plastic posts, and signal timing updates. In addition to a southbound protected bike lane from Oak to Clay, PBOT will create a one-block, contraflow bike lane between SW Harvey Milk and Oak to connect the bikeway to SW 4th.
PBOT says new signal timing will separate bicycling, walking, and driving behaviors at some intersections that will have new right-turn only lanes. Another element of the project will be what PBOT calls “high visibility crosswalks” where yellow-ish “beeswax”-colored pavement color will be used (similar to NE Multnomah through the Lloyd) to cheaply create more space in the road where walkers can wait and shorten crossing distances. A PBOT staffer called them “visual pedestrian step-out zones” that will eventually be filled in with concrete.
The creation of a “signature” north-south protected bike lane couplet on Broadway and 4th between I-405 and the Broadway Bridge is part of PBOT’s 2018 Central City in Motion plan. Fixing this gap would complete the southbound leg of the couplet. The northbound facility on SW 4th is taking much longer because it’s a full-fledged capital project (as opposed to a quick-build). The latest update from PBOT is that the 4th Ave project will break ground in 2022.
Stay tuned for more info on the Broadway plans. PBOT plans to start public engagement in the next month or so.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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