The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced yesterday that construction on their newest Rose Lane Project on SW Capitol Highway in the Hillsdale neighborhood will break ground September 19th.
This project aims to improve bus speed and reliability for eight bus lines running on SW Capitol Highway from SW Barbur Boulevard to SW Bertha Court. In a statement from PBOT Tuesday, TriMet Chief Operating Officer, Bonnie Todd noted that, “These new transit priority lanes will help high school and community college students get to class on time, reduce delays for patients and medical professionals heading to OHSU and improve the commute for people in Southwest Portland who are doing business Downtown.”
As BikePortland reported earlier this summer, the project was met with opposition from the Hillsdale Business Association and other civic organizations, which had circulated a petition requesting a three-year delay to further study traffic impacts.
So it was noteworthy that PBOT’s detailed project map (right) included some new pedestrian safety improvements. Specifically, the crossing span for pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection of SW Cheltenham Street will be reduced, and a new high-visibility crosswalk over Capitol Hwy will be added at SW Bertha Ct.
Other changes include a reconfiguration of the bike/bus conflict area just east of SW Sunset where bunched-up buses sometimes require cyclists to “thread the needle” through them.
Southwest pedestrian advocate Don Baack, who sits on the Hillsdale Business Association board, told BikePortland, “Every little bit of pedestrian improvement helps in an area where we are still concerned with diverted traffic on curvy local streets—with no sidewalks—when traffic volumes return to pre-covid levels.”
Traffic volumes on Capitol Highway have been much lower due to the pandemic, which PBOT says makes this an ideal time to roll out the Rose Lane, the pause in driving gives people time to adjust their behavior. If driving levels return to pre-Covid levels, PBOT estimates people might notice an additional delay of 20-90 seconds through the project area.
PBOT has published a draft Monitoring and Mitigation Memo, and will collect data at seven locations, “to see how driver speed levels and traffic volumes have been impacted by the project.” Data will be collected at two-to-three months and again at six months after project completion. They will also observe drivers using the new lanes to “help PBOT determine whether further operational changes are needed.”
Baack said business owners remains concerned that, because of its length, the new Rose Lanes will adversely impact their businesses.
With that in mind, PBOT noted in their statement yesterday that the project, “maintains easy access for drivers to visit Hillsdale businesses and their parking lots,” because drivers are allowed to “briefly” use the bus-and-turn lanes to access destinations.
For more on Rose Lanes, see PBOT’s website.
Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for over 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at email@example.com.
What’s the official route here on a bike if I’m coming from the East trying to go SW on Capitol? Do I still just have to merge with traffic into the left lane down the big hill? That’s all I can see from the plan.
Yep, Artur – you still have to do the exciting lefthand merge from the bike lane, where you cross the lane of fast cars rushing to beat the light and get on B-H Highway. The rose lane won’t have any effect on this side of Capitol Hwy.
It’s not ideal and it forces all cyclists to become “vehicular cyclists,” though you can pull off onto the sidewalk and press the beg button to cross back over Capitol Hwy, which will stop the traffic in all directions. But you’ll wait for a few minutes.
When I am on my bike going further west on Capitol, I merge into the left lane at east side of the Sunset intersection. I think it is safer because after that I only have to keep track of cars ahead of me, those making left turns and entering from the many driveways. Having to merge past the Sunset intersection, while focusing attention both forward and back is a recipe for disaster.
That’s good advice, Matti. I guess I do the same thing but hadn’t really thought about it. It is a little scary when those fast cars rush past you in the right lane, though.
I ride through this intersection quite a bit. While not perfect, in practice this difficulty is somewhat mitigated by the pedestrian crosswalk slowing traffic in the central lane, and general congestion. For less confident riders or a more vulnerable audience (I wouldn’t let my 4th grader cross-traffic like that), there are some alternate routes that mitigate further, but where you’re heading to would probably be important information to know what option to suggest.
I usually have nothing good to say about PBOT and Portland City gov’t generally, but in this case I have to say:
GOOD JOB, PBOT! Thanks for sticking to your guns and doing the right thing for transit riders, cyclists, and peds.
The Hillsdale BA and NA did such a bad job of articulating the downsides of the rose lanes that I’m not really all that surprised PBOT rejected their argument. One big plank in their argument was that the rose lanes will hurt local businesses, when in fact the rose lanes will basically become dedicated right-turn lanes for those businesses!
Now let’s see if anyone does any actual enforcement of the ban on driving personal vehicles in the rose lanes. I wouldn’t bet on it. The road to Hillsdale is paved with good intentions.
Didn’t realize Don Baack was also on the Hillsdale Business Association. He is also on the SWTrails committee and on the board of the Hillsdale NA. Really makes you think how much of this opposition was one person just trying to get what they want.
Don deservedly has influence in southwest Portland. People appreciate both his advocacy and his sweat equity in building the SWTrails network–plus he has a memory like an elephant.
“… one person just trying to get what they want” is disrespectful of his 25+ years of volunteer service to this community.
I appreciate the efforts to follow this project and consider the potential benefits. But what seems to be missing so far is clarity on how the BAT lanes are supposed to be used by non-bus vehicles intending to actually make a turn. Such as how far prior to the turn is it “legal” to ride in the red lane? The shorter that acceptable distance, the higher the risk of accidents (cars cutting off buses, not spotting bikes and pedestrians, or getting rear-ended due to hesitation/confusion about getting over or missing the turn chance entirely). Drivers are already too often struggling to demonstrate competency on our roads; now they will have a new way to screw up. Sorry for my lack of confidence, but I walk, run and bike in SW regularly so I’ve seen plenty. PBOT needs to try to educate before they try to enforce. As a driver with plans to turn I’m otherwise getting in the restricted lane ASAP. Unfortunately, what I’ve seen of the work so far, the solid lane lines are much too long and the breaks in the line too brief, suggesting trouble… For this reason and some others, I remain unconvinced of the overall value of this change and object to the pace of implementation.