buses and bikes
How safe is it for bicycle riders to share a “transit only” lane with bus and streetcar operators?
On streets where buses and bikes are common, the “leapfrog” phenomenon has been a thorn in the side of the City of Portland for many years. It happens when a bus operator pulls all the way to the curb to service a stop — and temporarily blocks a travel lane used by bicycle riders. This behavior causes people to either stop and breathe toxic bus exhaust, or swerve around the bus into a more dangerous shared-lane environment. The issue has become more acute in recent years as the Bureau of Transportation has built more curbside lanes protected from drivers.
When a bus operator can still swing into a lane, it no longer qualifies as protected.
Portland’s regional transit agency is hoping to raise $175 million for bigger, faster-moving buses on Southeast Division Street, and some major bikeway upgrades would be in store.
From SE 82nd Avenue to the Gresham city limits near 174th Avenue, the agency is planning to pay for a vertical barrier, mostly a series of concrete curbs, to protect the bike lanes that will have been recently widened and buffered by a separate City of Portland project. And when the Division bike lanes pass bus stops — as they would at 87th, I-205, 101st, 112th, 122nd, 130th, 135th, 143rd, 148th, 156th, 162nd, 168th and 174th — they’ll often be wrapping to the sidewalk side in order to reduce bike-bus conflicts.