The Portland Bureau of Transportation will install two new advisory bike lanes this summer in Northeast Portland.
The bike lanes are “advisory” because drivers are allowed to enter into the lanes in order to safely pass each other — but only if there are no bike riders present. Since the design (below) also removes the center-lane stripe, it forces drivers to be more present and less entitled, thus slowing them down and leading to better safety outcomes. At least that’s the idea.
The advisory bike lanes (a.k.a. edge lane roads) PBOT plans to install later this summer will both be in Northeast Portland (above). One will be on NE 43rd Ave from Tillamook Street to Sandy Blvd, making it safer to get from Sandy Blvd and the Hollywood District up to the Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway. The other will be on NE 53rd Ave from Hoyt to Irving Streets, easing the commute across the I-84 bridge and adding an enhancement to the 50s Bikeway.
These advisory bike lanes will also come with two new bike boxes at 53rd and Glisan and NE 43rd Ave and NE Sandy Blvd. “Bike boxes” are the green pavement markings at intersections allowing people bicycling to stop in front of people driving cars at red lights. This makes it so people in cars are aware of cyclists and won’t make a right turn across a bike lane, potentially colliding with someone on a bike.
Along with European cities, advisory bike lanes have been used in some places in the United States, with Minneapolis serving as a notable example, and have had positive safety results. On PBOT’s website they cite research on roads with advisory bike lanes from 11 U.S. cities that over eight years that found a 44% overall reduction in crashes compared to traditional 2-lane configurations. They are used on narrow streets with low driving volumes and low speeds, and allow for wider bike lanes than would normally be able to fit on such streets.
This type of bike lane is something PBOT has expressed interest in before, since as far back as 2009, but they appear to have only made progress in two locations so far: on NW Marshall (between 12th and 14th) and SE Caruthers (between SE Grand and the Esplanade path).
Already a staple in The Netherlands and considered a much stronger signal of bicycle priority than the ubiquitous sharrow markings PBOT already uses on greenways, this type of treatment could become a way to retrofit low-volume streets in a way that encourages more bicycle use.