Why the City of Portland is hosting a dance to celebrate new traffic signals

Posted on December 3rd, 2015 at 11:21 am.


Let’s dance!
(Actual graphic from official City of Portland even flyer.)

Some days it’s impossible not to love the City of Portland, where transportation geekery and fun often intersect in memorable ways.

Remember that new signal at NW 11th and Couch we told you about last week? To celebrate it’s activation the bureau of transportation is hosting a dance. A barn dance to be exact. And it will happen in the intersection.
[Read more…]

‘Fast Bikes Use Water Ave’ and other signs coming to Esplanade near OMSI

Posted on September 8th, 2015 at 2:45 pm.


Drawing of new signs coming to the Esplanade near OMSI.
(Image from Bureau of Development Services application)

Turns out that managers of Waterfront Park aren’t the only ones who want to keep fast-moving bicycle riders away from their paths.
[Read more…]

City and state working to help bicycle users get the green

Posted on July 24th, 2015 at 11:25 am.


PBOT’s new pavement marking.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The transportation agencies at the City of Portland and the State of Oregon want users of bicycles to have more success in triggering green lights at intersections.

At ODOT there’s concern that the passage of SB 533 might create dangerous situations. That bill, signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on May 21st, allows people riding bicycles and motorcycles to proceed through a red light if they’re undetected after one cycle. At PBOT, they also want to increase the number of people who know how to trigger green lights after a 2013 study showed half of Portland’s bike riders don’t know how to use the existing sensors.
[Read more…]

Study: Half of Portland bike riders don’t know how to trigger green lights

Posted on November 13th, 2013 at 9:57 am.

Signal aids and innovation-3

The place to place the wheels.
(Image by J.Maus/BikePortland)

The pavement marking to the right, which is supposed to tell people where to place the wheels of their bike to trigger a green light, is illegible to about half of Portland bikers, a new study (PDF) finds.

Even worse: Those figures don’t include many people who rarely ride, suggesting that interminable red lights are a particular burden on new bike riders.

Stefan Bussey, a PSU civil engineering student who conducted the survey, said he came up with the idea when he noticed that people ahead of him at the long Seven Corners traffic signals on Southeast Division would regularly stop a few feet away from the traffic signal stencil.

“It would happen three or four times a week,” Bussey said.

Bussey’s research confirmed it: even in Portland, about 55 percent of bicycle riders surveyed don’t know the meaning of the pavement marking.

[Read more…]

PBOT experiments with ‘intelligent’ new indicator light

Posted on June 20th, 2012 at 10:43 am.

Signal aids and innovation-8

One smart light.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One unsung area where Portland is doing some very cool stuff for bicycling is with traffic signals and “ITS” — which stands for Intelligent Transportation Systems. The field of ITS encompasses all sorts of high-tech ways to make our streets smarter. From sensing vehicle patterns with RFID, to software that manages complex signal systems.

Around Portland, some of the most innovative examples of traffic engineering fall under this category. ITS is how PBOT managed to improve bike access on the NE 12th overcrossing without upsetting nearby freight-dependent businesses. It’s also how they dealt with the notorious right hooks on Broadway at Williams (with bike-only signals).[Read more…]

Springwater Corridor gets a new bike-only signal – UPDATED

Posted on May 22nd, 2012 at 2:06 pm.

(Photos: Clackamas County)

A tricky crossing of the Springwater Corridor path in Clackamas County just got a bit easier. This morning, county engineers turned on a new, bike-only signal where the path crosses the intersection of SE Johnson Creek Blvd and Bell Ave (in unincorporated Clackamas County, just south of Portland city limits).

The new signal allows bike traffic to cross diagonally from the northeast corner of the intersection to the southwest corner (and vice versa), instead of having to use two separate crosswalks — a situation that was far from ideal, both from a connectivity and safety standpoint.The $70,000 project began one year ago.[Read more…]

To reduce right-hooks, City turns on illuminated bicycle sign at Couch and Grand

Posted on November 18th, 2011 at 10:45 am.

New sign went up yesterday.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) turned on an illuminated bicycle sign on NE Couch at Grand Avenue. As we reported last month, the intention of the sign is to reduce the risk of right-hooks at an intersection where several injury collisions have taken place.

A bike box has already been installed at the intersection, but collisions have continued. The problem is that, even though there’s no right turn on red allowed, that law — and the presence of the colored bike box and lane — don’t work as effectively to deter right-hooks during green lights. This sign is an attempt to address that issue.

The new sign was turned on yesterday and it’s the first of its kind in Portland. I observed it in action as people streamed down Couch during this morning’s rush hour. [Read more…]

Signal detection problems? Wash Co website says roll through after waiting

Posted on March 11th, 2011 at 11:12 am.

Still from helmet cam footage of light
at Laurelwood and Scholls Ferry.
(Photo: Seth Alford)

Reader Seth Alford has been taking a lot of helmet cam video lately (his video of a TriMet bus rudely squeezing him out of a bike lane in Hillsdale garnered some attention). About a month ago, he waited over two minutes at the intersection of SW Laurelwood/Schools Ferry/Nicol (map) before his left turn light went green; and it likely triggered only after a car pulled up behind him.

Curious, Alford went onto the Washington County website to find information about bicycle detection at traffic signals. The County has a page that addresses the issue, and surprisingly, it includes the following official advice* (See update below — they’ve edited the site):[Read more…]

Bike Science: Making sense out of traffic signal sensors

Posted on September 27th, 2010 at 3:14 pm.

How to get a green light-1

A traffic signal sensor in Portland.

Welcome to our newest column: Bike Science with Shawn Small

One of the more frustrating aspects of cycling in an urban environment is not being able to trigger a signal and being stranded at an intersection.

There you are, riding happily along, when you come to a red light and — after an entire signal cycle — you get the sinking feeling that the light is ignoring you. Fortunately, in many cities (including Portland) traffic lights are triggered by the presence of a bicycle. But how does it work? Is there a special technique for getting the green?

To supplement my own understanding of this topic, I got in touch with Peter Koonce, the Division Manager of Signals, Street Lighting, and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for the City of Portland (learn more about him here).
[Read more…]

A minor annoyance, fixed

Posted on July 21st, 2010 at 1:46 pm.

A small, but important fix.
(Photos © J. Maus)

[Read more…]