Archive for September, 2011

Buffered Bike Lanes vs. Bicycle Passing Lanes

Posted in News on September 30th, 2011 by Ted – 12 Comments

A bicycle requires about 40″ of space to operate in, under standard conditions. This is the minimum, for a skilled rider, with no cargo, on level ground with no wind. The “AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (1999) outlines these requirements.

A standard bike lane is 5 to 6′ wide. This is safe for operation of a single bicycle, and leaves a bit of a buffer to maneuver around road debris, stationary obstacles, or motorized vehicles infringing on bike lanes.

While the space required for a bicycle is uniform for most users, the speed preference is highly variable between users. Some folks ride fast, some ride slow. Some (like myself) sometimes ride fast, and sometimes ride slow. This means that bicycles need to either go at the speed of the slowest bicycle on the road, or execute passing maneuvers.

For this purpose, the the Portland Bureau of Transportation designed a “Bicycle Passing Lane” to let faster bicyclists overtake slower bicyclists.

There is only one of these in the city thus far, at the approach to the Madison Viaduct just west of Grand Ave. (on the westbound approach to the Hawthorn Bridge). This facility works well, it’s been in place for a number of years now.

The pavement markings are clear in their intent, and allow bicyclist to pass each other in a predictable, organized manner that maintains the minimum 5′ bicycle lane requirement for all users.

Elsewhere in town, bicycles pass each other helter skelter, often at close lateral distances where each is at the mercy of the others’ ability to keep their bike moving in a straight line.

In the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, the Best Practices section gives clear guidelines for what conditions are appropriate for installing a bicycle passing lane. It’s on page “2 of 41” and is shown below.

(click on image for full resolution).

Note that the application is for
* large number of cyclists
* wide range in travel speeds
* uphill location

Another type of “wider than standard” bicycle lane is the “Buffered Bike Lane.” This is where a section of the road is striped off between the bike lane and the motor vehicle lane, and it’s not to be used for travel by anyone. You can read the description on page “3 of 41,” and it is shown below.

Note that it is applicable for situations with
• Bike lanes with high automobile traffic speeds and volumes
• Bikeways with bike lanes adjacent to on‐street parking
• Bike lanes with high volume of truck/oversized vehicle traffic

This makes sense, as the 40″ operating space is an absolute requirement, and can result in injury or death if it is infringed upon. So it is entirely reasonable to ask for a “buffer” to maintain the integrity of the minimum required operating space.

Now, switch to a post today on BikePortland that shows new buffered bike lanes that have been installed on NE Wheeler St. between the Rose Quarter Transit Station and N Williams Ave. Image shown below:

It’s a buffered bike lane, installed on a steep hill with high volumes of bicycle traffic and a broad range of preferred travel speed.

It’s not, however, on a street with high volumes of trucks, on-street parking, or high motorized traffic speeds.

So, I’m disappointed that they installed a buffered bike lane rather than a bike passing lane. I ride this stretch all the time, and would have appreciated a better demarcation for passing maneuvers. And Portland (and the rest of the country) need to get serious about putting in passing lanes in many locations so that bicycle traffic can move safely, comfortably, and quickly.

I sent my comments to PBOT, I’ll post anything I find out.


Note, Oct 3

The plans for these buffered bike lanes had been well advertised, but evidently I missed the opportunities to review them.

* On March 3rd, PBOT had an open house where the plans were displayed, and BikePortland published detailed images of the plans, including the buffered bike lanes, in a March 4th post.

* The Vancouver Wheeler Couplet plan was posted on PBOT’s “Lloyd District Bikeway Development Projects” website on May 19, 2011.


* I’m still interested in why the “bicycle passing lane” design wasn’t applied, and

* It’s a reminder to all of us be sure and review the design proposals of roads that you ride. It’s easy to change things in the design phase, almost impossible to change anything after the paint is applied to the street.


Ted Buehler

Watch the “50s Bikeway Hearing” from City Council

Posted in News on September 29th, 2011 by Ted – Comments Off on Watch the “50s Bikeway Hearing” from City Council

Were you not able to spend 2 hours at City Hall this afternoon at the 50s Bikeway Hearing? Well, you can watch the full 1hr 44 minute discussion of the 50s Bikeway Hearing at City Council, posted at

Want to wonk out, see what your fellow citizens and elected officials are saying about bicycling, today, this week, this year? Settle down with some popcorn and beer and watch the show. Invite a friend.

Or, just flip through it — watch a minute or two at the beginning, a minute or two in the middle, and the end. Take five minutes to educate and inform yourself. This is how decisions are made at the city level.

For instance, if you toggle to 70:35 you can hear Amanda Fritz say
“It thrills my heart to hear about over 100 people spending two hours and not just voting things up or down but reporting the very close votes and what you did to try to work through the issues.”

And at 71:15 you can hear AROW volunteer Rus Willis say
“I’m a vehicular cyclist, which means I’m not among the ‘interested by concerned,’ I’m among the ‘fearless and intrepid’ cyclists”


Now, think about what you would say if you were at the meeting? Which comments did you agree with? Which would you elaborate on? Were there concepts you thought should have been brought up but weren’t?

Here in this democratic society, you have the opportunity, or even the obligation, to participate in making decisions about your city and your transportation system. Give this some thought. And, next time an issue comes before City Council that is important to you, consider dropping them a letter or a note a couple days before the vote. Let them know what you think, and why.

This is one of the single most important things we can do to promote bicycling and alternative transportation. And to fight highway megaprojects. Take the time to participate. Be the Squeaky Wheel. If enough of us do it, and encourage our friends to do it, we’ll make a difference. And, remember, the bike infrastructure in this city that’s been built already wasn’t built by chance — it was built because of a dedicated field of activists spoke up, spoke their truth, and convinced the city to build it.

Be part of group that gets the next generation of bicycle infrastructure built. Speak up regularly.

Ted Buehler

PBOT Releases East Portland in Motion Draft Report

Posted in News on September 29th, 2011 by AROW – Comments Off on PBOT Releases East Portland in Motion Draft Report

From PBOT Communications:

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has released a draft version of East Portland in Motion – a five-year implementation strategy for active transportation projects east of 82nd Avenue. PBOT is seeking public comment on the draft report, which prioritizes projects that would improve conditions for walking, bicycling and taking transit in East Portland.

PBOT has been collaborating with the East Portland community on the strategy for over a year through numerous neighborhood and committee meetings, public surveys, and focus groups. The purpose is to create a seamless network of accessible trails, sidewalks and bikeways that enable active transportation in the community.

Several recent planning efforts have identified active transportation projects to address needs in East Portland, including East Portland Action Plan, 122nd Avenue Study, Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 and Portland Transportation System Plan. The purpose of East Portland in Motion is to refine and prioritize the sidewalk, pedestrian crossing, and bikeway project lists found in those plans down to a feasible set of projects that are supported by the community and can be constructed in the next five years with available funding.

The draft report recommends 20 sidewalk infill projects (to fill gaps of missing sidewalk on major streets), 56 crossing improvements on busy streets, 10 neighborhood greenways (lower traffic streets made safer for bicycling and walking), and other projects including bicycle parking, trails and complete street improvements. Major recommended projects include sidewalks on 122nd Avenue, Division Street and Stark Street; neighborhood greenways along the north/south 130s avenues and the east/west Market, Mill and Main streets; and 13 pedestrian crossings on Division Street.

The draft East Portland in Motion report is open to public review and comment and can be downloaded from the PBOT website. Hard copies of the report are available at the East Portland Neighborhood Office, 1017 NE 117th Avenue, and at the PBOT office in the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue.

Lloyd District Bikeway Project Update

Posted in Infrastructure, News on September 27th, 2011 by Steve – 1 Comment

A two-way cycletrack could be coming to Holladay

Public outreach consultant Scott Bricker writes:

We have posted the revised concept drawings on the City’s FTP site.

There are minor changes to both designs, but I would like to call out a few of the important changes to the Holladay concept, as we have not discussed this project at the SAC level for some time.

Holladay Street:

– 9th Avenue diagonal parking – in order mitigate parking loses on Holladay, the project team has reconfigured 9th Avenue to add parking by using diagonal parking. In addition to added spaces, diagonal parking generally has added benefits people on bicycle and foot.

– Median slimming alternative – In order to prevent parking loss between 6th and 7th, the project team has provided an alternative scenario that cuts back the hedge between the MAX tracks and Holladay Street.

– 1st Avenue – a two-way bikeway is shown on 1st Avenue, connecting to the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade ramp. Sharrows are placed on 1st Ave. north of Holladay in the event that Holladay under I-5 is temporarily being used by TriMet during construction periods.

– Interstate Avenue crossing – the project team included the design for improved safety from the Rose Quarter Transit Center and Interstate Avenue.

Innovative new turn boxes proposed for Rose Quarter

The next and potentially last Lloyd District Bikeway SAC meeting is September 29, 2011, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., 700 NE Multnomah, 3rd Floor Conference Room.  The agenda follows: read more »

September Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting re-cap

Posted in News on September 27th, 2011 by Rebecca – Comments Off on September Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting re-cap

Photo by mfcorwin/flickr

The City of Portland’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee (PAC) advocates for pedestrian interests on projects and issues in and around Portland.  Here’s what your representatives were discussing at September’s meeting, held 9/23/11.

Regional Flexible Funds – Request for Final Comments: In August, City Council approved five active transportation projects to receive nearly $8 million in Regional Flexible Funds.  Now that the projects have been selected, Metro is seeking ideas for changes to those projects that Metro and the local agencies can consider to make them better.  This is your opportunity to make sure you’ll be happy with the projects you’ll be walking and riding on for years to come.  The devil is in the details, so add your valuable two cents here:  Comments are due Oct. 13th, 2011.

Tom Miller, the new Director of Transportation for the City of Portland, stopped by to review his priorities for the transportation network in Portland and get feedback from the PAC. Miller explained that his primary goal as Director was to make sure that Portlanders had good options on how to get around.  “It’s about choice.  We expect choice,” Miller said.  “It shouldn’t be your government or your infrastructure, whether by design or omission, telling you how to get around…we need to advance and mature the right of way to provide that choice, to grow other modes.”

Miller took comments from each member of the Committee as to their priorities.  Concerns included: the expansion of car-free public spaces in the downtown; stricter review of sidewalk requirement waivers for new developments; re-instating the “in-lieu-of” fee that developers would pay if sidewalk requirements for their project were waived, ensuring that the public gets some value for their sacrificed RoW; and a request that the function of sidewalks and plazas as cultural gathering places and social environments be kept in mind in addition to their function of providing safe access and pedestrian movement.  Miller distributed his contact information to the group and stayed a half hour after the meeting in individual discussions with PAC members.

Pearl District Access & Circulation Plan: Mauricio Leclerc (PBOT) presented the status of the Plan.  The Pearl’s rapid transition from an industrial warehouse district to a pedestrian-oriented commercial and residential neighborhood, combined with the introduction of a new mode of transportation (Streetcar), has necessitated changes to improve safety and traffic flow.  You can check out most of the proposed changes here:

There are a lot of interesting changes being proposed – such as an improved ped crossing (with curb pop-outs and flashing beacons) on NW 14th Ave and NW Johnson near the REI store, and the dropping of auto travel lanes on NW Hoyt and Naito Parkway in order to facilitate the addition of bike lanes (or possibly buffered bike lanes) on these roads.  Cool.

That’s all for this month.  Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Hamilton

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets once a month to review, critique, and offer input to the City of Portland on matters that affect the pedestrian environment.  Its members are appointed to a 4-year volunteer term.  Meetings are open to the public and there are free cookies.  More information is available at the PAC’s website.