Here’s an idea: Force us to share one lane while driving on a two-way street

Here’s an idea: Force us to share one lane while driving on a two-way street

Cars share middle lane-2-3

A bike lane on both sides but just one regular lane in the center — even with two-way traffic permitted.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the many methods the City of Copenhagen employs to create safer streets is to force people in cars to share one lane — even on streets where two-way auto traffic is permitted. A friend at the Portland Bureau of Transportation says these are called “channelizers”. I’ve seen two examples of them in Copenhagen and they’re pretty awesome. Both examples occur on streets with a shared environment. That is to say there’s no bike-specific infrastructure.

The first one I’ll share is near the intersection of Rantzausgade and Kapelvej in the Nørrebro district.

Copenhagen Day 2-59

Notice in the photo that the basic method is to install two median two median islands that create a protected bike lane on each side. Then they’ve put a speed bump in the middle and they’ve made the opening large enough for just one car at a time. This means that people who are driving must slow down to make sure there’s no one else coming the other direction.

Copenhagen Day 2-60

I watched this intersection for a while and it worked well (it must be, if that guy in the photo above feels safe enough to have his young daughter riding with him). Trucks and cars slowed way down before heading through. (Of course there was that one delivery truck driver who swung into the bike lane to avoid the speed hump!)

The other example of this — and the one I like even better is just to the north on Guldbergsgade. As you can see in the photo below, the City has installed bike parking on the median islands. UPDATE: Today I met a former City staffer who had a hand in creating this project. He said engineers initially installed just a speed bump. Meanwhile, the bicycle program office needed space for bike parking and they found it via the median islands. There was some concern about people getting their bikes out of the racks and getting the way of bike traffic. To help remedy this, the bike racks were angled so that people are forced to see oncoming traffic as they remove their bikes.

Cars share middle lane-1-2

And here’s another view…

Cars share middle lane-3-4

The coolest thing about this traffic calming concept is that the Portland Bureau of Transportation is already aware of it. They’ve actually done something very similar on their neighborhood greenways. Check out the image below of SE Spokane Ave…

BTA New Year's Day Ride-14

The difference is that the Portland version has shorter medians and the middle lane is wider. By not going all the way and narrowing down the center lane (which would also allow for wider bike lanes), many people just ride in the center lane because the bike lane seems oddly small. Spokane is also a very low-traffic street. I’d love to see PBOT try this with larger medians and narrower center lane on a street with higher traffic volumes. Anyone have a suggestion as to where this might work in Portland?

UPDATE: Fellow traffic calming geek Greg Raisman sent in this example from Utrecht which he says prevents people from driving in the bike lane:

Residential Traffic Calming for Bikes

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