PBOT, Oregon State to partner on research into bus and bike lane conflicts

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

As the City of Portland continues to roll out its Rose Lane transit-priority projects, the transportation bureau wants to push the design envelope beyond what federal guidelines allow.

At Portland City Council this week the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will seek authorization (via this ordinance) to spend $80,000 on a contract with Oregon State University to embark on research that will test the coexistence of bus and bike lanes. The research will focus on three specific corridors on PBOT’s Rose Lane Project list: SE Hawthorne/Madison, E Burnside, and SW 4th Ave.

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Collisions up at some bike box locations: Changes coming to SW 3rd & Madison

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
more bike boxes springing up-1.jpg

Collisions are up at SW 3rd and Madison.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

New data released by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) yesterday shows that collisions have gone up significantly at four of 11 intersections where bike boxes were installed in 2008. While longer-term policy and infrastructure changes are in the works for next year, PBOT has announced interim measures aimed at improving safety at those four intersections — one of which is SW 3rd and Madison where Kathryn Rickson was killed back in May.

After Rickson’s death, PBOT was (once again) forced to address critics and rising concerns that they have not done enough to reduce the number of right-hook collisions throughout the city — an issue that has plagued PBOT for years. The announcement of new safety measures and the increase in right-hook collisions came in a letter from City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield to the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Operations Director Mark Kehrli. The letter is a progress report related to the City’s ongoing FHWA experiment with bike boxes and colored bike lanes.

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Momentum grows for federal policy breakthrough that would fast-track bikeway innovations

Rose Quarter opening celebration-15

Bike boxes, like this one in the Rose
Quarter, aren’t endorsed by the FHWA… yet.
(Photos © J. Maus)

According to Mike Wetter, the Senior Advisor to Metro Council President David Bragdon, the U.S. Department of Transportation is on the verge of a decision that could rapidly speed up the use of innovative bikeway treatments across America. Among supporters of a change to the policy is a national association of city transportation planners and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.

Currently, due to outdated federal standards, many bikeway designs that are common in Europe and Canada — like bike boxes, colored pavement markings, bike-only signals, and buffered bike lanes — are still considered “experimental” in the U.S.. This lack of official endorsement by the FHWA means city planners cannot use federal funds to install them and they encounter a host of significant barriers when trying to implement them. Wetter, along with transportation planners at PBOT and cities across the country, think current policies are unfair to urban jurisdictions and they might finally be close to changing them.

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