Is that a bike lane in the middle of the street? Yes it is

Bike lanes on SE Stark at 41st. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

(Bike lanes on SE Stark at 41st. Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland is home to many different types of bikeways. Too many if you ask me. Innovation is great, but we could use a bit more standardization so that everyone knows what’s going on. But I digress…

One of the situations where the Portland Bureau of Transportation is at its most creative is when a key bikeway crosses a major street at an offset. These offset intersections — where the two streets don’t line up perfectly (see below) — are very tricky because the standard crossing treatments aren’t applicable. They also require bicycle users to leave the relative safety of their designated bike route for a temporary excursion into much more unfriendly waters.

Some offsets are mild, like the one at NE 9th and Webster. Others are more extreme, like the one on the Going Greenway at NE 33rd. You can see other examples on SE Division and SE Powell at 129th.

But there’s nothing like what PBOT has done at the offset intersection of SE Stark and 41st.


41st is a key north-south greenway that connects southeast neighborhoods to Hollywood thanks to the 42nd Avenue overpass of I-84. At this location, PBOT decided to build the bike lanes in the middle of the street. They’ve added robust buffer striping and some plastic wands for added safety. I’ve been sharing the video above on social media for a few days and the response from riders has been mixed. Overall, it seems like a majority of people think it works well.

Here are a few of the comments:

wlmhsu: I’m a big fan of this design. As a cyclist you only have to worry about traffic from one direction at a time. You get to the middle bike lane and then you only concern yourself with the oncoming traffic. Better than having to worry about traffic both ways.

jacobmbuckmaster: I’m not a fan. I live right in this neighborhood. We always use 42nd instead. Feels much safer to wait for an opening in traffic to turn left then to sit in the middle of the road with fast cars on either side of you.

benji_benji_benji_ok: I ride by very often and I love it. I feel safe and I don’t have any insecurity issues crossing the street. I used to live right there when I first moved to Portland a looong time ago. My favorite neighborhood.

rollinsjenni: I dig it.

lestergalula: It is pretty easy to use but also every time I bike there it is obviously the case that a car has recently run over the wands so I don’t know how much it actually improves cyclist safety vs just giving the appearance of improving safety. I would also say one of my pet peeves with the greenway system is that there are many places where they cross collector streets like that, and if it is a time of day when it is busy, you end up having to wait until someone stops to let you cross. While people in Portland are pretty good about doing that… It would be nice to see stop signs or those before button activated stoplights on more of those intersections.

Have you ridden this? How does it work (or not) for you?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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