County, City team up for expanded biking and walking lanes on Hawthorne

County, City team up for expanded biking and walking lanes on Hawthorne

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A lane re-organization on SE Hawthorne has swapped one standard lane for an expanded bike lane and a walking lane.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County unveiled new and expanded bike lane on the Hawthorne Bridge viaduct over the weekend. Working in a partnership with the City of Portland, the County (who manages the bridge) gave permission to PBOT crews to re-stripe two sections of eastbound SE Hawthorne Blvd between SE Grand and the Willamette River.

According to to PBOT, the new striping was done to improve conditions for both bicycling and walking on the popular thoroughfare.

The first changes are seen east of the TriMet bus stop about half way between the end of the bridge path and the intersection with SE Grand Ave. Instead of a wide buffer zone and a standard-width bike lane, PBOT and the County decided to create two bike lanes side-by-side. PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said they decided to increase the bicycling space because people were passing each other in the buffer zone…

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If you look closely, you can just make out the old (and very wide) buffer zone striping and curbside bike lane.

Further east PBOT has also added new striping to help with the traffic interactions where an off-ramp heads down to SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. In addition to the changes in the bike lane, PBOT has also added several new features for people walking eastbound on the viaduct. There’s a new zebra crossing across the off-ramp and then an entire lane for walking as Hawthorne approaches SE Grand…

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The off-ramp where people in cars turn right across the bike lane. (Note the new crosswalk in the background.)

On the section just before the SE Grand intersection, PBOT has re-configured the traffic lanes so that instead of a bike-only lane and three standard lanes, there is now only two standard lanes, a much wider (and buffered) bike-only lane, and a walking lane. People walking eastbound in this location were previously forced up onto a very narrow sidewalk next to a guardrail. Sources at PBOT say a full sidewalk will eventually be constructed.

Here’s how the cross-section looked before…

The old configuration was dominated by standard lanes. (Note the very narrow sidewalk.)

And here’s how it looks now:

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The start of the expanded bike lane and walking lane.
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This man is using the new walking lane. He was thrilled about it!
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As I observed this new configuration, I wondered about a few things. Why not add some plastic bollards, jersey barriers, or other forms of physical separation in the buffer zone? Clearly — as seen below — some people won’t heed just paint…

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Note the car in the bicycle only lane.

And when will PBOT take the painfully obvious next step of continuing this lane alignment east of Grand? Here’s how it looks now…

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PBOT’s Dulken said these recent changes are simply part of the agency’s efforts to keep up with “the ever increasing bicycle traffic.” “As we all know,” she said, “the Hawthorne Bridge is a bicycle commuter through-way so we’re accommodating that. It’s very import for people walking to, so that [walking] section is a big improvement.”

So far, our readers agree. Reaction on Twitter has been very positive. What do you think of the changes?

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