Can you believe it’s already been two years since the bike lanes were installed on Southeast Foster Road? A seven-year journey from concept to completion that was marked of controversy and compromise ended with more space dedicated to cycling and less space dedicated to driving on this very important east-west commercial corridor.
This past weekend I found myself in east Portland (doing reconnaissance on 122nd Avenue for an upcoming story and video) and decided to come back toward the city via SE Foster. It gave me a chance to ride the new bike lanes from where they start in Lents all the way to where they connect to the 50s Bikeway at 52nd.
Overall I found them to be good and better than nothing; but far from great. Portland missed a massive opportunity to build excellent, all-ages, physically protected bike lanes on a dense commercial corridor surrounded by lots of bike-loving neighborhoods. Instead we painted standard, old-school, unprotected bike lanes. Remember the idea for a bike lane in the center median? Or how about the grassroots effort for protected bike lanes (made by a former volunteer activist (Nick Falbo) who’s now a bike planner at the Portland Bureau of Transportation)?
As nice as it is to have bike lanes on Foster, the current design will never entice young children or older folks to hop on a bike and leisurely pedal on the street to find a place to eat or to do some window shopping.
While we didn’t get the robust, low-stress bikeway we (still) need, PBOT was successful at taming the “Foster Freeway”. Thanks to a reduction in general purpose lanes (from four to two, plus a center turn lane), more median islands at selected crossings, a lower speed limit (from 35 to 25 mph), enhanced crossings and other changes, the vibe on Foster is a bit more chill than it used to be. A recent influx of on-street outdoor patio dining sheds also helps calm traffic.
Another thing I noticed is how I was able to move through the section between 92nd and 52nd without hitting many red signals. I was on an ebike going a steady 18-20 mph or so, and I assume PBOT did some signal timing work to reward slower traffic with something like a “green wave”.
Yesterday I asked some of our readers on social media what their experience has been and I got mixed reviews. Several folks said they’re very grateful to have these bike lanes and it has opened up Foster as feasible route for them. But others said it’s still too stressful and I even heard a few folks say they’ve seen, heard about, or been involved in a collision with a car driver while using them.
I’m curious: Do you ever ride the Foster Road bike lanes? If not, why not? If so, how do they work for you? Any trouble spot PBOT should be aware of?
If you want to learn more about the Foster Streetscape Plan and how this project evolved between 2012 and 2019, peruse dozens of articles about it in the BP archives.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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