The case for a better bikeway on Broadway in three pictures

The case for a better bikeway on Broadway in three pictures

Bike traffic yesterday morning on SW Broadway at Oak. (Now imagine what it would be like this summer.)
(Photo: Peter Koonce)

You could make a pretty good case that Broadway is the most important piece of Portland’s vaunted bikeway network. And as the three recent images in this post show, Broadway often reaches full bike capacity at peak hours. Isn’t it time to expand the bikeway to accomodate this demand and encourage this positive travel behavior even more?

NW Broadway at Hoyt on February 13th, 2013.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Broadway and Hoyt on September 26th, 2012.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Broadway is the main artery that captures bike traffic headed downtown from all of north and northeast Portland. (And it’s worth noting that inner northeast has the highest bike mode share in the city according to a 2008 City Auditor report that found 29% of inner northeast Portlanders use a bicycle as either their primary or secondary commute vehicle.) That traffic rolls onto the separated path on the Broadway Bridge and then splits into either northwest or downtown.

When Peter Koonce (who happens to be PBOT’s division manager of signals and street lighting) uploaded the lead photo in this post to Twitter yesterday he noted that 16 people on bikes that went through the intersection on one signal. That’s more than the amount of people who went through in cars in the adjacent lane.

Regarding Broadway’s bikeway future, there’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is that Broadway is also one of the most dangerous and unpleasant streets to ride on. It’s notorious for right hooks at Williams, Hoyt, and other intersections, and the narrow bike lane through downtown is often full of obstacles from dooring hazards to idling tour buses and taxis. The good news is that the City of Portland is working on a plan that could make it much better.

As we shared back in January, a current plan in development would pour millions into a much-needed downtown bikeway facelift. PBOT hasn’t revealed details of that plan, but I’ve heard from sources that it is still very much in play.

Whether or not a protected bikeway on Broadway is a part of that plan remains to be seen. But there’s no denying Broadway needs the help and it’s consistently identified as a high priority by advocates and citizens. If we want to keep calling ourselves “America’s most bike friendly city” then it’s time to start putting some money where our mouth is. The demand is clearly there. And hopefully soon, the money will be too. Stay tuned.

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