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Another use for green? City adds bike refuges at SE Ankeny/Sandy/11th

Another use for green? City adds bike refuges at SE Ankeny/Sandy/11th

bike in refuge ankeny

Looking southwest down SE Sandy Boulevard from Ankeny, Sandy and 11th.

One of Portland’s weirder intersections has a new splash of color.

As part of its repaving project on inner Southeast Ankeny — which has, for the record, greatly improved the ride between SE 11th and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — the city has added some interesting and potentially useful new features to the six-way intersection of Ankeny, Sandy and 11th.

This is not only a crossing for people headed east-west on the Ankeny/Couch/Davis greenway, it’s also the point where folks headed up SE 7th/Sandy either continue north toward the 12th Avenue bridge into the Lloyd District and Northeast Portland or else turn east/west. It’s also where people headed into Southeast turn from Ankeny onto 11th Avenue (an underrated biking street if you ask me).

Because of the difficulty of anticipating the numerous turning patterns, this is probably the single most annoying intersection I use frequently myself. I’ve often ended up taking the crosswalks, even though they’re slightly out of direction, because people in cars are more likely to yield to me.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has made an effort to guide people on bikes more directly through the intersection by marking in green a pair of refuge zones next to the median that divides Sandy at this point. The suggestion seems to be that people bike across the intersection in two distinct stages, waiting in the middle as needed.

looking west no bikes

Looking west toward inner SE Ankeny.
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You can also see another new feature here, which seems to be intended specifically for people heading northeast on Sandy and turning east onto Ankeny. It’s a green-striped crossbike that marks a bike’s path across the narrow neck of 11th Avenue:

crossbike ankeny

The white-striped turn section has been marked for years, but the green color treatment is new — presumably to catch the attention of people entering 11th from the north, perhaps with multiple vehicles obstructing their view of anyone riding up the Sandy hill.

This is an interesting pair of treatments in part because it includes two different ways Portland, and the United States in general, has been using green pavement coloring.

The refuges are green in the sense of “safe for bikes to stop here,” like an intersection bike box.

The crossbike, meanwhile, is green in the sense of “all users take caution – potential bike/car conflicts.” In addition to crossbikes, you can also see this at some mixing zones, like the one at SE Division and 60th.

There’s a third use of green as well: solid green bike lanes, like those on SW Stark and Oak, that emphasize that people shouldn’t drive there.

Some people don’t like that green pavement has come to mean such different things in different contexts. Others think that as long as it gets the basic point across — heads up, bikes nearby — the finer details are less important. I’m not sure where I come down, but I’ll be looking forward to seeing if these new markings improve my crossing experience.

The post Another use for green? City adds bike refuges at SE Ankeny/Sandy/11th appeared first on BikePortland.org.

ODOT, Sandy Blvd, and the curse of outdated design manuals

ODOT, Sandy Blvd, and the curse of outdated design manuals

“ODOT used the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (1995) when designing this project, which does not… mention buffered bike lanes or cycle track and design criteria.”
— ODOT

It’s a shame that outdated engineering guidelines continue to prevent us from designing streets in a way that matches our goals — but that’s exactly what’s happening out on a segment of Sandy Blvd in east Portland.

Last month, we shared the news that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is spending $3.6 million to rebuild a one-mile segment of Sandy between NE 122nd and 141st Avenues. The US 30 Bypass (Sandy Blvd) Safety Project comes with standard, six-foot bike lanes. That might sound good, but this type of bike lane is nothing but a continuation of a status quo that is inadequate for bicycle riders and that doesn’t match up our our city and statewide transportation planning goals.

A standard bike lane next to heavy auto and truck traffic going 35-40 mph is the same way we’ve designed roads since the 1990s. Today, planners and the public are insistent on more significant bikeway access that includes some level of separation.


After publishing that story, I heard from local bicycle transportation planner and activist Nick Falbo. After he learned about the project, Falbo contacted ODOT to point out that their own Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guide (published in 2011) shows that the appropriate bicycle facility for a roadway with the characteristics of Sandy is either a cycle track, a buffered bike lane, or a shared use path (all of which offer much higher quality bicycle access than a conventional bike lane).

To back up his claim, Falbo attached the “Recommended Separation Matrix” chart from ODOT’s guide book. As you can see below, with its 40 mph speed and about 20,000 average daily traffic volume (ADT), this segment of Sandy falls well within a recommended range for separated bicycle infrastructure:

“Can you provide more information as to why bicycle lanes were preferred for the final design over a more separated facility as indicated by ODOT’s own design guides?” asked Falbo.

Falbo heard back from ODOT one day later. Unfortunately they said the design of the project was finalized in late 2010, before the 2011 ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guide was published and its “separation matrix” were in use. To design the Sandy project, ODOT planners used the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that was last updated in 1995 — a full 15 years before the project was designed.

Must we really rely on outdated guide books to design our roads? If engineers and planners at ODOT know better, why can’t they make an exception during the late stages of a project’s design? This is unfortunate and frustrating and I hope we can avoid this type of mistake in the future.

ODOT, Sandy Blvd, and the curse of outdated design manuals

ODOT, Sandy Blvd, and the curse of outdated design manuals

“ODOT used the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (1995) when designing this project, which does not… mention buffered bike lanes or cycle track and design criteria.”
— ODOT

It’s a shame that outdated engineering guidelines continue to prevent us from designing streets in a way that matches our goals — but that’s exactly what’s happening out on a segment of Sandy Blvd in east Portland.

Last month, we shared the news that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is spending $3.6 million to rebuild a one-mile segment of Sandy between NE 122nd and 141st Avenues. The US 30 Bypass (Sandy Blvd) Safety Project comes with standard, six-foot bike lanes. That might sound good, but this type of bike lane is nothing but a continuation of a status quo that is inadequate for bicycle riders and that doesn’t match up our our city and statewide transportation planning goals.

A standard bike lane next to heavy auto and truck traffic going 35-40 mph is the same way we’ve designed roads since the 1990s. Today, planners and the public are insistent on more significant bikeway access that includes some level of separation.


After publishing that story, I heard from local bicycle transportation planner and activist Nick Falbo. After he learned about the project, Falbo contacted ODOT to point out that their own Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guide (published in 2011) shows that the appropriate bicycle facility for a roadway with the characteristics of Sandy is either a cycle track, a buffered bike lane, or a shared use path (all of which offer much higher quality bicycle access than a conventional bike lane).

To back up his claim, Falbo attached the “Recommended Separation Matrix” chart from ODOT’s guide book. As you can see below, with its 40 mph speed and about 20,000 average daily traffic volume (ADT), this segment of Sandy falls well within a recommended range for separated bicycle infrastructure:

“Can you provide more information as to why bicycle lanes were preferred for the final design over a more separated facility as indicated by ODOT’s own design guides?” asked Falbo.

Falbo heard back from ODOT one day later. Unfortunately they said the design of the project was finalized in late 2010, before the 2011 ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guide was published and its “separation matrix” were in use. To design the Sandy project, ODOT planners used the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan that was last updated in 1995 — a full 15 years before the project was designed.

Must we really rely on outdated guide books to design our roads? If engineers and planners at ODOT know better, why can’t they make an exception during the late stages of a project’s design? This is unfortunate and frustrating and I hope we can avoid this type of mistake in the future.