Buffered bike lanes on Stark and Oak set to go green

Buffered bike lanes on Stark and Oak set to go green

Before (left) and after images of SW Stark.
(Photos: PBOT)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to cover the entire length and width of the buffered bike lanes on SW Stark and Oak with green paint*. According to a PBOT fact sheet being circulated to businesses in the area (PDF), the goal of the project is, “to maintain vehicle separation, reduce confusion, and increase the attractiveness of SW Stark and Oak.”

Below are the before/after images of SW Oak being PBOT is circulating:

The lanes went in about three years ago; but — as we pointed out back in April — they are not working. People in cars routinely drive in the lanes, even though that behavior is illegal.

Once made aware that the lanes weren’t working, PBOT began analyzing the streets with traffic cameras. Back in July they shared some of the changes they were considering.

The fact sheet being sent out to businesses shares some findings of that analysis and gives a primer on how to use the lanes:

Recent Findings

  • Drivers and bicycle riders prefer vehicle separation created by the lanes
  • More people ride bikes on Stark and Oak because of the bike lanes

How to Use

  • Automobiles may cross the bike lane to turn or park
  • The bike lane is a through-lane for bicycles only
  • People bicycling should expect turning vehicles crossing the lane

Also notable in the PBOT fact sheet is a page titled “Transportation and Your Business”. As part of the project, PBOT is giving businesses a coupon that will be emailed to 30,000 Portland residents.

It will be interesting to see how well the new green paint works (I’m still not clear whether they will use paint or thermoplastic). PBOT has had issues with maintaining green lanes once they begin to wear off, and without any other method of creating separation (such as plastic bollards like San Franscisco is doing), it remains to be seen what impact this will have in keeping cars off the lane. It’s also worth noting that, due to the on-street parking and high turning volumes along the street, PBOT expects that people will frequently (and legally) be driving upon the lanes.

The re-design is expected to happen some time this month.

Stay tuned.

*NOTE: This story originally said PBOT will use green thermoplastic; but their own fact sheet specifically uses the term “paint”. I auto-corrected it initially, because people commonly mistakenly call the thermoplastic paint, but in this case, it turns out that indeed PBOT will debut a new type of paint for this project. Stay tuned next week for more info.

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