In their ongoing effort to squeeze as much utility, capacity, and safety out of every square foot of right-of-way, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has released the locations of three sections of streets where we’ll soon see more “advisory lanes.”
You might recall that after years of sitting dormant, advisory bike and shoulder lane projects — that aim to provide more safety for bike riders and walkers on streets where the city feels there’s not enough room for dedicated bike lanes or sidewalks — sprang to life last year. In 2022, the Portland Bureau of Transportation completed three advisory lane projects.
This year they’ll do three more, hitting two spots in southwest and one in outer southeast.
To refresh your memory, advisory bike/shoulder lane projects consist of removing a centerline (if on exists) and striping dashed (“advisory”) lane markings along the edge of the road. The way they’re meant to be used is that when a bicycle rider or walker is present, the lanes are treated like standard bike lanes or an on-street sidewalk. When a driver approaches someone in an advisory lane, the driver is supposed to move into the center of the road to pass. If two drivers are approaching each other at the same time, and no advisory lane user is present, drivers can legally drive in the advisory lane in order to squeeze by each other. Keep in mind, this treatment is typically used only on streets with very little auto traffic.
Below are the three locations that will be built this year. Note how each one connects to an important destination where PBOT wants to encourage people to walk and bike to:
SE Ellis Street between SE 84th and SE 92nd streets
As you can see in the concept drawing above, PBOT also plans to also add new buffered bike lanes to SE 92nd between Ellis and Harold. This, combined with the advisory shoulders to the west of 92nd, will create a connection to a community center and an entrance to the I-205 path. Ellis is also a key connector for people accessing shops and other destinations along SE 82nd and Foster Road.
SW Talbot Road from SW Fairmount Boulevard to SW Gaston Avenue
This is a small but important section of Talbot because it’s on the very popular Fairmount cycling route. Fairmount is a famous loop around Council Crest that has been a training ground (and walking loop) for Portlanders for a long time. This stretch of Talbot connects the loop and has always been a balancing act between drivers and bike riders.
You might recall that SW Talbot was on a list of candidate projects identified as part of the SW In Motion plan and we did a story in April 2021 about how advisory shoulders could unlock the potential of southwest.
SW 40th Avenue between SW Huber and SW Wilbard streets
This is just one block, but it will create a better connection between Jackson Middle School and a pedestrian walkway over I-5 that feeds directly into the Barbur Transit Center.
Advisory lanes have been used for decades in Europe to great success (they are also called edge lane roads if you’d like to Google), but they are still relatively rare in the U.S. That’s one reason why PBOT is currently collaborating with the Federal Highway Administration to share analysis of the projects.
What do you think about these locations? Are you familiar with them and do you think the new design will be helpful? Learn more at PBOT’s website.