Portland could build 137 miles of protected bike lanes protected from other traffic with a planted buffer zone — and launch a transportation revolution with far-reaching benefits — for just $73 million. Or we could do it for about $34 million using plastic delineator posts. Those are two of many insights gleaned from the 124-page Portland Protected Bicycle Lane Design Guide just released in draft form by the Bureau of Transportation.
When we shared a sneak peek at the guide last month, PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller said, “It provides much-needed clarity about what we can build and how it will fit on Portland streets.”
The guide offers engineers, planners, project managers and advocates a road map to retrofit Portland’s streets. From detailed cross-section drawings that can be applied to 28 different street configurations, to clear recommendations on what type of protective materials to use in specific situations, the guide should help hasten the development of protected bike lanes. If you’re an advocate for streets where fewer people die and where everyone — even those who don’t use cars — can get around more efficiently, you’ll appreciate the vibe in the introduction:
“The intent of the designs in this guide is to quickly and emphatically reconfigure Portland’s streets, not just so they operate in a safe manner, but also to communicate that bicycling is more attractive than driving and that bicycle transportation is accessible to people of all ages and abilities…Numerous studies from around the world, as well as our experience and the experience of cities with which we are allied through the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), have confirmed that providing protected bicycle lanes on busy streets is a key element to addressing the demand for better conditions for bicycle transportation. Such facilities are the highest quality bikeways, and are appropriate on roadways that include higher motor vehicle speeds and volumes.”
Portland has been talking about physically protected bike lanes for years. The problem is, we’ve mostly just been talking — and not building. And when we have built them, the designs have been inconsistent.
One of the (many) reasons for the slow implementation of protected bike lanes is that engineers, planners, and project managers at the Portland Bureau of Transportation haven’t been reading from the same book. In fact, they haven’t even had a book. Until now.
Last week PBOT’s bicycle program manager Roger Geller shared a sneak peek at a new manual that will soon be adopted as the official Portland Protected Bicycle Lane Design Guide.