How safe is it for bicycle riders to share a “transit only” lane with bus and streetcar operators?
Portland is changing and so are our streets. Whether those changes help or harm our city is entirely up to us.
One of the biggest changes is an increase in the amount of people who drive. Congestion is everywhere and one of the victims are bus users. During peak hours especially, they get stopped behind single-occupancy vehicles. It’s maddening when public transit is delayed by such an inefficient and costly mode of transportation.
One way the Portland Bureau of Transportation has decided to deal with this problem is to focus on getting cars out of the way of buses. For the past year or so they’ve worked on the Enhanced Transit Corridors plan, which is now in draft form and open for public comment (until March 26th, sorry for late notice). The plan aims to institutionalize the concept of “enhanced transit” within the City of Portland, and to identify projects that will improve transit capacity, reliability and travel time.
Physical separation is to bicycling what reliability is to transit. If we don’t have it, the masses will never switch from driving and our transportation system will never reach its potential.
That’s why an idea for a “pop-up” bus-only lane is worthy of your attention.
Our friends at the all-volunteer Portland Bus Lane Project have pitched an idea to Better Block PDX that would reconfigure SW Madison Street between 5th and the Hawthorne Bridge. Their idea comes in response a request for proposals that Better Block launched back in July.
PBLP was hatched in May by a group of transit advocates that are frustrated with how auto-congestion during peak hours is killing bus reliability. Their solution is to create dedicated bus-only lanes which they see as an inexpensive way to prioritize mass transit and improve bus reliability while getting more people to their destinations on time.
Their proposal is currently being vetted and considered by Better Block and they’ve given me permission to share it with you.[Read more…]
In yet another example of the wondrous potential of bus transit, the State of Oregon is starting up their Columbia Gorge Express service starting today.