It’s been just over a year since the Portland Bureau of Transportation installed the city’s first temporary bus platforms. Now there are 10 citywide and PBOT wants to know what you think of them.
A major goal for these platforms — which first appeared in September 2020 on Northwest 18th and 19th — is to allow the bike traffic lane to remain clear – even when a bus operator services a stop. The bus/bike leapfrog (seen below on North Williams Ave before the bike lane was moved to the left to avoid the problem) is a common and dangerous dance that happens on many major bikeways that are also frequent service bus lines.
At the five locations where PBOT has installed a pre-fabricated floating bus platform (used where a curbside bike lane exists), riders can pedal through without the stress and inconvenience of stopping behind a bus. PBOT has also experimented with temporary asphalt bus islands on streets without curbside bike lanes, which give bus riders a larger waiting platform and allow bus operators to remain in traffic while they pick-up and drop-off.
Beyond the benefits for bike riders and bus riders, a key advantage of these platforms is that they speed up bus service because operators don’t have to leave and then merge back into general traffic lanes.
PBOT wants to hear feedback to evaluate whether or not to continue using these platforms in the future, and how to make them work better if they do. They’ve released a very short online survey to capture your comments.
Here’s more from PBOT:
As part of the evaluation, the bureau is interested in learning about the user experience of these platforms. We want to hear from you about how you use these platforms – whether you bike through them on your ride or for boarding TriMet buses – and if having them installed has made a difference in your accessibility, safety, and comfort.
The slides below, shared by PBOT Transit Coordinator April Bertelsen at the November 9th PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, list current locations of the two types of platforms:
At that recent meeting, Bertelsen said a key benefit of both platform types is that they, “Help us to make quick affordable changes on city streets.” She also anticipates a few more of the asphalt platforms coming to Southwest Alder street in 2022.
Whether or not more installations happen could depend on what type of feedback they receive through this survey.
If you’ve ridden or walked or scooted or driven by these platforms, please let PBOT know what you think. Here’s that survey link again. It will be open through January 3rd, 2022.
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The one on Broadway apparently gets the best cell phone reception downtown. I’m always dodging someone on the phone who is wandering out onto the platform.
It’s also the best spot to smoke while standing with your back toward anyone trying to ride over it.
I avoid them. For the one pictured, I ride in the Bus lane or the far left lane if I need to turn left onto 7th.
Me too! I keep pace with cars on that stretch of Hawthorne, I wonder if PBOT ever considered putting obstacles that size and shape in the motor vehicle lanes at that location. I also wonder if any cyclists were involved in the design of those obstructions. I filled out the survey with some pretty blunt feedback; Jonathan, thanks for bringing this to my awareness.
Great! If you get the green light on SE Grand the Hawthorne one makes a great tabletop!
I was just in the Bay Area and Oakland has also done a lot of this type of station enhancement along their Telegraph protected bike lane corridor uplift.
The ones on NW 18th and 19th are full of leaves.
Also… The crown of the road makes the NB one on the right side of the street on NW 18th scary: it is sloped the wrong way when you have to curve to the left on it, and the street is slightly downhill so it is intuitive to avoid it (staying in the general use lane) instead of slowing and maneuvering on the off-camber and presumably slippery wet plastic surface. Not sure what other folks do. I suppose if the surface were dry and I were going slow with kids, and there were traffic on our left, I would use it.
Query whether the posts requiring bikes to swerve instead of going straight over the islands are needed. The extra swerving is a negative for bike traction and visibility (bad enough that I and possibly others choose not to use them where those factors are bad). The upside is extra space for people stepping off a bus, if a person biking decided to ride fast and close to a bus stopped at the island. Maybe put a camera on one and try it both ways for a couple weeks and see what users do.
This is my biggest complaint about these ones. They need a lot of maintenance due to the surrounding foliage they’re not getting.
On the other hand, I’ll say the biggest advantage to these I’ve seen is stopping any number of confused automobile drivers who think the bike lane is for them in their tracks, which I see far too frequently particularly heading toward Burnside.
I am thinking there are no more or less leaves on the platforms then there is on the street before or after them…right?
The survey asks about leaf debris, so you should fill it out.
When I first saw this at my bus stop at NW 19th, another bus rider asked what it was. I replied that they were designed to reduce conflicts between bikes and buses and she immediately replied that it shifted the conflict to bikers and pedestrians.
I used to play leap frog with a bus maybe once a month; these obstructions in the bike lane are there every time I ride down Hawthorne. How is this an improvement?
Agreed. I’ve started using the bus lane if I don’t feel like doing wheelies over the new slippery obstructions. We’re never going to get a higher mode share by adding obstructions to bike lanes.
IIRC, these platforms cost $50k each at the time they were installed. I can see the one on NW 18th and it seems about 35-40 percent of riders were bypassing it and taking the lane during the dry season. I have not looking out as much since it’s gotten dark so early.