Hallelujah! At long last the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is using an actual curb to separate bike-only lanes from standard vehicle lanes.
For years PBOT has struggled to figure out how to cheaply and quickly add physical separation. They’ve tried using plastic wands but those rarely last more than a few days before they’re hit and ripped out by people who can’t control their cars. PBOT’s most recent attempt to help separate the bike lane from encroachment by motor vehicle operators came in the form of “rumble bars.” Those failed too.
With budgets not willing to spend money required for raised cycle tracks (like the ones on SW Moody Avenue or NE Cully Blvd), finding a quicker-and-cheaper method is really important. We will not reach our transportation, climate, and planning goals unless we create more physically-separated bikeways. It’s a must.
That’s why are very happy to see that PBOT is testing a new product called “Tuff Curb” to separate a bike lane on SW 13th just before Clay. As we reported when they installed plastic wands there back in January, most of them were ripped out within a week.
Their new installation looks really solid. It’s similar to what Multnomah County installed on the eastbound Hawthorne Bridge viaduct back in 2013.
Based on prices for similar products we found online, this project on 13th and Clay likely cost about $4,000 in materials. Here’s more about Tuff Curb from a product website:
Tuff Curb is a durable, high performance traffic separator curb… Integral coloration makes Tuff Curb highly visible and resistant to UV damage and fading. In addition, enhanced profile dimensional properties and 3M™ reflectors provide maximum visibility and traffic separation both day and night. Tuff Curb’s safety and durability has been tested by Texas Transportation Institute to 2009 MASH standards and is also federally approved.
This is an encouraging sign. Not just because the bikeway at 13th and Clay is now more comfortable to ride in, but because PBOT has taken the time and resources to figure this out once and for all. Using this new plastic curb product shows that Portland is treating bikeways with the level of seriousness they deserve.
If you’ve ridden by it, let us know what you think. It’ll be interesting to see if they use it anywhere else. And if it lasts more than a week.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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