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Portland Bureau of Transportation

We keep Portland moving

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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FAQ

Learn more about the Buffered Bicycle Lane projects and the SE Holgate Buffered Bicycle Lane

 

What is a buffered bicycle lane?

A buffered bicycle lane is designed so that it provides a more protected and comfortable space for cyclists than a conventional bike lane and does not have the same barriers to sight lines as a Cycle Track – where view of cyclists may be obstructed by parked cars.

Why are we constructing buffered bicycle lanes (i.e., what’s wrong with these streets the way they are now)?

These streets currently work fine for people who are comfortable riding bicycles in mixed traffic. However, our designs are intended to make bicycling more comfortable for the majority of Portlanders who are not comfortable riding under such conditions. Our analysis indicates that most Portlanders would use a bicycle much more often than they currently do if they didn’t have to mix so much with automobiles. A buffered bicycle lane provides that opportunity.

Why not use a simple bicycle lane?

Because the buffered bicycle lane, with the added shy zones, offers a more comfortable riding environment that we believe it is more consistent with our efforts to make bicycling a part of daily life in Portland.

How does an buffered bike lane provide more protection for cyclists than a bike lane?

Buffered bike lanes provide more protection for cyclists by providing ‘shy’ or buffered zones on either side of the cyclist.

What will drivers notice that is different about driving on a street with an buffered bike lane?

There isn’t much of a change for drivers.  They will still need to watch carefully for cyclists when they are turning right at cross-streets or driveways.  They will also need to take care when parking on-street which is accomplished by crossing the enhanced bicycle lane.  Cyclists will always be clearly visible to drivers because, unlike a Cycle Track, the buffered bicycle lane does not have the barrier of parked cars between the bicycle lane and the travel lane.

The travel way for vehicles will also be narrower.  On SW Stark and SW Oak, the number of travel lanes will be reduced from two to one.

Will SW Stark and Oak Streets become congested if there is only one travel lane for vehicles?

Our traffic analysis indicates that these streets will operate with little additional delay for cars when reduced to one travel lane.  One of the reasons that these streets were selected for this demonstration project is because they have light traffic flows and extra street capacity available for other users.

How does parking work adjacent to an enhanced Bicycle Lane?

Drivers park parallel to the buffered bicycle lane in the same way that they do today and they will still need to yield to bicycles before crossing the enhanced bicycle lane to reach the parking lane.  The parking lane is adjacent to the curb.

 
 

Are buffered bicycle lanes expensive to implement?

The Buffered Bicycle Lane proposed for this demonstration project eliminates a travel lane so no construction is needed.  As a consequence, they are low cost and relatively easy to implement.

Do buffered Bicycle Lanes provide any benefit for retail businesses on the street?

The reduction of one travel lane can provide a calmer environment for retail businesses without reducing area parking.  Additionally, this improvement will attract more cyclists to the street and more people will use the street in total.  This will likely be a benefit to businesses that attract passer-by shoppers.

When will the buffered bicycle lane be built?

Summer 2009.

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