Author Archives: Nick

Cycle Tracks: What About the Intersections?

The following post is about cycle track design, featuring information and details pulled from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Dutch CROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic, Ireland’s National Cycling Manual and David Hembrow’s blog A View From the Cycle Path. The ideas expressed here are my own do not reflect an endorsement by AROW, AROW members, nor my employer. 

Bad cycle tracks are bad, but great cycle tracks can be amazing. One place cycle tracks fail the most? Intersections. Concern about intersection safety is one of the most common reasons for cycle track opposition from people who ride bikes today. The following post aims to show that a cycle track can be designed so that people are just as visible as in a bike lane.

noparkingNo Parking Cycle Tracks

This isn’t a specific treatment for intersections as much as it is a type of cycle track. On streets without parking, a cycle track is as visible as would be a curbside bike lane. Riders are protected by the raised curb, but nothing gets in the way of clear visibility.  Stretches of the Cully Blvd cycle track are configured without parking.

Bend InThe Bend In
The principle is simple: move people riding toward the center of the roadway to the location they would be if they were in a bike lane. Do this early enough before an intersection to ensure visibility by drivers.

This design is disliked by bicyclists if it is configured at every intersection in an area with short blocks because it causes excessive weaving back and forth. The cycle track on Cully Blvd uses this design, and I have heard many comments expressing dislike for the treatment.

Bend OutThe Bend Out

A less intuitive solution, this “bend out” design is the opposite design from a “bend in.” This design shifts the cycle track away from the main roadway in order to separate conflicts into an area outside of the main intersection. Car drivers first turn right around the corner, then they stop for bicyclists in an space large enough to be outside of the flow of traffic.

Dutch design manual recommend this on high-speed roads in less developed areas, where more space may be available. This is less likely to be an appropriate solution in the middle of a city.

ClearZoneThe Clear Zone

It is also possible to overcome visibility issues by prohibiting parking in advance of the intersection or driveway, and ensuring the area is clear of other obstacles. This may be done with paint, or with curb extensions.

Also key to this concept is to design the turn for slow speeds. The slower the turning speed, the more time bicyclists are visible and the more time everyone has to react.

MixingZoneThe Mixing Zone

Seen on the NE Multnomah St Cycle Track, a mixing zone requires right turning cars to enter the cycle track space to make their turn. Car drivers must wait to merge, and the shared lane is designed to be too narrow for side-by-side riding.

This design is criticized for being a stressful condition in an otherwise low-stress route, but sometimes is the only way to retain a right turn only lane in constrained spaces.

Raised crossingThe Raised Crossing

Raised bikeway crossings give a clear message that bicyclists have priority at driveways and intersections. Legally, cars turning right must yield to a bicyclist going straight through (the same rules as if there were a bike lane) and this design reinforces the law with physical infrastructure.

Maintain the cycle track and sidewalk raised as they pass through the intersection. Cars will need to mount over the cycle track and sidewalk, similar to entering a driveway. When designed correctly, drivers will be going very slow when turning.

bikesignalExclusive Signals

Traffic signals can also be used to manage conflicts. Right turning cars can have a red light, while bicyclists going straight receive a green light. A configuration like this is installed at NE Broadway & Williams, where a bike lane conflicts with right turn lanes.

What do you think?
Are these designs worth consideration? Do they help overcome some concerns about cycle tracks? Post your comments, questions and suggestions below. If cycle tracks are our future, lets make sure we get them right.

Big Roads, Big Changes

Three separate projects in mid-outer Portland are shaping up to lead the change in how we view our big roads. These are all in the early stage of development, and offer great opportunities to rally for bold change before complacency and convenience takes hold of the planning processes.

SE Foster Road (52nd – 90th): Road Diet with active transportation improvements
SE Division (60th-82nd: Road Diet from 4 to 3 lanes
NE/SE 82nd Ave: Jurisdictional transfer from ODOT

2013 could be the year we take back our streets one lane at a time, but it’s not going to be easy. Road diets are commonly faced with opposition from local residents during the planning stage, only to be turned to satisfaction and appreciation of the treatments after they are installed. Advocates and supporters of livable streets will need to show up and be heard if these are going to overcome the scepticism.

Full details of the meetings, presentations and events are below:

SE Foster Road

Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan – Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting
Date – Wednesday, September 19 at 6:00-7:30 PM at
Where – SE Works (7916 SE Foster Road, Suite 104) (TriMet bus line 14 or bus line 72).
Why – The update to the 2003 Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan promises to explore options for reconfiguring the cross section to better accommodate bicyclists, pedestrians and future transit streetcar.

Stay informed:
Local Blog: 
Official Site:

SE Division St

Division Street Safety Public Meeting

Date – Wednesday, September 26, 2012 / Time – Evening (time to be determined)

Where – Warner Pacific College (2600 SE 98th Avenue)
Why – Portland Bureau of Transportation wants feedback from the neighborhood on safety options for Division.

PBOT will present some alternatives for making SE Division between 60th and 82nd safer for pedestrians, bikes, and autos. One option is what is called a “road diet”. This option would involve repainting the street with three lanes (one each direction and a left turn lane), bike lanes on each side and possibly bus turn outs. With this option pedestrian islands would be possible at crosswalks (68th and at least one new crosswalk at 64th).

NE/SE 82nd Ave

NE 82nd Ave walking Tour
Date – Wednesday, Sept 19th from 6:00-8:00pm
Where – Madison High parking lot, 2735 N.E. 82nd Ave.

Why – Central Northeast Neighbors is hosting a walking tour of existing conditions and future considerations for the NE 82ndAvenue of Roses. The Bureau of Planning and SustainabilityNE District Planner will work with us along with other experts in the field to present current information. We will discuss opportunities and constraints around land use, transportation, zoning and livability of key sites along NE 82nd.

Facebook Event:


82nd Avenue Transportation Workshop
Date – September 24 at 7:00 PM
Where – Montavilla Methodist Church – 232 SE 80th.
Why – To learn about the process needed to transfer jurisdiction of 82nd Avenue from ODOT to the City of Portland. Sponsored by the Montavilla Neighborhood Association and the 82nd Avenue Business Association. Panel will include Tom Miller, Portland’s Director of Transportation, State Senator Jackie Dingfelder, and Shelli Romero of ODOT.

New AASHTO bike guide released

Last week AASHTO quietly released their update to the 13 year old ‘guide to the development of bike faculties.’ If you have $144 to throw away, you can buy it here.

Streetsblog has an article on the release, and notes it’s lack of acceptance of current practice:

AASHTO says it has incorporated the strategy, popularized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, to design streets for the 60 percent of people who are interested in biking but concerned about safety. “It’s sanctioned there as methodology,” said Bill Schultheiss of Toole Design Group, which took the lead on writing the new guide. “It’s a big deal.”

Schultheiss says that a cycle track is nothing but a bicycle-only trail, and bicycle-only trails are in there. But unlike cycle tracks, bike trails are not designed to run on streets that also include motor vehicle traffic. Advocates say there’s a big difference — a difference that matters to the “interested but concerned” population. Darren Flusche of the League of American Bicyclists says cities that have made cycling a priority will still go beyond the AASHTO guide and use the bikeway design guide developed by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which includes on-street, protected bike lanes and other innovative designs. “NACTO has left AASHTO behind.”

NACTO itself identified the lack of protected bikeway designs as a critical oversight in the AASHTO guide.

The NACTO guide will be releasing their update in the coming months, expanding and improving on past guidance, and including a new section dedicated to designing Bicycle Boulevards.

More info soon.

How Walkability Saved a School

Portland Public Shools is about to make a decision about whether or not to a fire damaged school in SE Portland. Do they rebuild the current location,  or, do they move the school to a currently vacant school a mile farther northwest?

There are supporters on both sides of the question, but one factor that seems  to be tipping the balance is walkability. From the Oregonian article:

“But board members said they think restoring Marysville students to a school in the heart of their neighborhood where all students can walk to school would be a big plus.

Congratulations to the PPS school board for recognizing the importance of urban design and context in the decision of parents to let their children walk to school.

Marysville is a small-scale building nestled within a tight knit walkable neighborhood, with a structure that interacts with the surrounding community on all sides. Kellogg is a much larger-scale building, setback from the street and surrounded by a sea of parking and lawn, not to mention, it’s location on Powell blvd. Many of the students would be unlikely to walk across such a hostile street to get to school.

The decision will be finalized in November and offering support is likely to help seal the deal:


View Marysville vs Kellog in a larger map

Portland Mayoral Candidates on the Columbia River Crossing

The Portland Business Alliance asked a series of questions to the three big mayoral candidates. They included a few transportation questions, including a big one on the CRC. Here’s the text:

13. Do you support the Columbia River Crossing project as proposed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and will you advocate for state and federal funding for its construction?

Eileen Brady Yes. I have fully explained my position on the CRC on my website. I support Governor Kitzhaber’s plan to push for initial federal approval of the environmental impact statement, and once we have that, we must scale the project to a financially realistic option that gets Oregon a safe bridge now, increases multi-modal transit across the Columbia River and puts our tradespeople to work.
Charlie Hales No. I support a fundable, buildable project and I don’t believe the current proposal meets those tests.
Jefferson Smith No. While this cuts my likelihood of earning your endorsement, my preference in three words would be “smaller, quicker, cheaper.” Key funding streams are doubtful. If I’m wrong, it won’t matter much — the current City Council has voted on it, and the State and Feds have the conch. If I’m right, we’ll need a Plan B — something smaller, quicker, cheaper that prioritizes seismic safety and freight mobility. And we’ll need to unite the various interests; as mayor I would work for that.