Are cycle tracks on track?

An evaluation of the experimental bike lane that runs through Portland State’s campus is planned for this fall. Officials also hope to step up education efforts.

An evaluation of the experimental bike lane that runs through Portland State’s campus is planned for this fall. Officials also hope to step up education efforts.

The cycle tracks on SW Broadway that run through PSU are part of a project that also includes buffered bike lanes on SW Oak and SW Stark. The project will be evaluated in a report to be presented to the Portland City Council in the fall. Thus far, some concerns have been raised. The lanes are different from others because they are placed inside of a row of parking, next to the sidewalk.

People are generally unaware of the ways in which bike lanes may and may not be used.

“Education for cyclists is needed,” said Robert Burchfield, Portland city traffic engineer.

He recently received comments and complaints from motorists, cyclists and wheelchair users pertaining to issues of cyclists not being courteous or aware while using the lanes.

The law allows scooters and mobility devices full use of the bike lane according to Burchfield. He does not have a perfect solution for the LIFT program—in which TriMet provides an accessible van, designed to provide door-to-door transportation for those with mobility issues—or for other vehicles that must load on the passenger side of the street. There will be instances in which a ramp will extend into the bike lane, Burchfield said.

“Perhaps the bike lanes would be better called ‘shared access’ lanes so everyone understands the possible uses,” said Polly Livingston, director of the PSU Disability Recourse Center.

Livingston commends Portland’s forward thinking in establishing bike lanes but agrees that cyclists need to be educated on lane usage. She asks for understanding and patience from cyclists—especially when transit, LIFT services or shuttles are unloading wheelchairs—rather than banging on the vehicles, which happens all too often, according to Livingston.

She suggests the possibility of moving the bike lane to the opposite side of the street because vehicles must unload from the passenger side. Livingston also suggests that a color such as red be painted along the loading space.

Burchfield is documenting all comments and suggestions to be included in the report to the Portland City Council.

According to Burchfield, the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, with the help of assistant professor Chistopher Monsere, will conduct the research for the report.

Burchfield listed the following three items on the agenda for evaluation:
1. Survey of cyclists’ perceptions of use of the cycle track
2. Survey of perceptions of users who are not cyclists, such as students and others who walk or park on SW Broadway near the bike lane
3. Visually monitored traffic performance, such as parking behavior and changes in performance, with regards to the decrease from three car lanes to two
“We (professor Christopher Monsere and myself) did work with the city before [the cycle track] was installed to film several locations along the street, so that we could have some ‘before’ data to analyze,” said Dr. Jennifer Dill, director of OTREC.

Cyclist lane general comment line 503-823-SAFE [7233]