What a Left-side Cycletrack Might Look Like

Posted in Infrastructure, News on February 22nd, 2012 by Steve – 1 Comment

Option 1 for Williams Ave presents the most ambitious proposal for Williams Ave to date, with a cycletrack-ish bikeway running on the left side of the street

One of the challenges with either left or right-aligned cycletracks is how to make turns across traffic.  In PBOT’s proposal, there would be right-turn turn boxes, but only at 1/3rd of the intersections. I was curious about how this would work, so Nick Falbo sent over this video from Steve Vance which demonstrates Chicago’s latest left-side protected bike lane.  It sure is helpful to see this sort of implementation in another American city.


It’s Time to Ditch Thermoplastic

Posted in Infrastructure, Thoughts on February 7th, 2012 by Steve – 6 Comments

The use of color in bike lanes in Portland has been a welcome addition to our bike network, but you don’t have to ride very far before you see the problem with using a layer of colored plastic (otherwise known as thermoplast or thermo-plastic) that is applied with intense heat to stick to the road surface.  Depending on wear and tear from vehicles and weather, it may not last a year before needing to apply a new layer.  The costs for thermoplastic are not insignificant.

In other lands, like the Netherlands, they actually use colored blacktop/concrete to get the job done.  The result is a smoother ride that lasts for many years.  Portland would save money on material and labor costs by not having to come back and apply color after paving, or years later to re-stripe.

Years back at a Traffic & Transportation class presentation, PBOT Director Tom Miller (then Mayor Adams’ chief-of-staff) mentioned there were hurdles to implementing this type of approach in the United States. I am curious if anyone knows if this is a MUTCD compliance issue, or if there just aren’t contractors and materials available locally to make it happen. I’d welcome any thoughts on using colored pavement and ditching colored thermoplastic in Portland.

Further reading: Using Color in Bike Infrastructure

Columbia River Crossing Momentum Meets Reality

Posted in Infrastructure, News on January 13th, 2012 by Steve – 2 Comments

The Smarter Bridge coalition organized a press conference on the dire financial straits of the  Portland-Vancouver Freeway Expansion project, otherwise understood as the CRC.  Here are some reactions  on twitter:

Solving the Bus/Bike Leapfrog: Bus Islands & Buffered Bike Lanes in Seattle

Posted in Infrastructure on November 14th, 2011 by Steve – 3 Comments

The Williams Avenue Corridor Safety Improvement project aims to solve a number of multi-modal safety issues on the street.  One issue is the bus/bike leapfrogging, and a potential solution is to use “transit islands” or “bus pads” to route bikes behind bus stops.  They also double as pedestrian islands, shortening the distance one need expose themselves to oncoming traffic to cross.

This type of infrastructure is uncommon in the United States.  Thankfully, Seattle has decided to use bus pads in their new Dexter Avenue bikeway, have a look at this video for a peak:

There are challenges to implementing bus islands on Williams:

  • Trimet wants them to be 80 feet long to accommodate two buses at once, which makes it difficult to avoid driveways and displaces a lot of parking.  40-60ft might be workable.
  • Funding may be inadequate for civil engineering and construction, total budget for the entire corridor is around $400,000
  • When stops are near intersections, presents right-hook visibility and queuing problems
  • Ramps may have wheelchair accessibility implications

Another idea is to place the bike lane or cycletrack on the left side.  The challenges presented thus far to that configuration:

  • How to get bikes over to the left side of Williams, particularly near Broadway
  • Left-running bike lanes are unusual in Portland, drivers and cyclists may have difficulty predicting road user movements
  • Increased difficulty making right-hand turns

Either way, there are certainly innovative tools at our disposal.

Path Safety: Seattle doing away with Bollards and Maze Gates

Posted in Infrastructure, News on October 11th, 2011 by AROW – Comments Off on Path Safety: Seattle doing away with Bollards and Maze Gates

Bollards help keep cars out, at an expense to path users. Photo: Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious

Ron Richings–a Vancouver, BC-based active transportation activist & Portland ally–writes:

Among my minor obsessions when it comes to bike safety is the use of solid bollards and maze or zig-zag gates on paths & trails.  They have always seemed to me to create more of a hazard than anything that they intend to prevent.  Plus they can make otherwise fine trails inaccessible to those who use trikes and various mobility devices.  Apparently Seattle is doing away with these dubious installations.  Good for them.

Two experts who deal with the uber-busy Burke-Gilman Trail in King County offered what they’ve learned about trail safety: Reiner Blanco, a traffic engineer and supervisor with Seattle’s Department of Transportation, and Tom Eksten, who was involved in developing the Burke-Gilman Trail and just about every other trail project in King County in his 30-year role as a county project manager. He’s now a consultant and working with Snohomish County on developing a trail management plan.

Here’s what they said:

Do away with bumps and obstructions on the trail. Speed bumps or anything that could send a cyclist flying are probably not a good idea, Blanco said. Seattle is doing away with bollards and maze gates, which end up causing more problems than they prevent, he said. Snohomish County is minimizing the number of bollards, but not completely eliminating them since they keep motorized vehicles off the trail, Eksten said.

Several more suggestions follow in the full article from The Herald.

What implications does this have for the Portland area?  Where would you like to see bollards removed?