Advocate’s Toolbox

Cycle Tracks: What About the Intersections?

Posted in Advocate's Toolbox, Infrastructure, Thoughts on September 17th, 2013 by Nick – 4 Comments

The following post is about cycle track design, featuring information and details pulled from the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, Dutch CROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic, Ireland’s National Cycling Manual and David Hembrow’s blog A View From the Cycle Path. The ideas expressed here are my own do not reflect an endorsement by AROW, AROW members, nor my employer. 

Bad cycle tracks are bad, but great cycle tracks can be amazing. One place cycle tracks fail the most? Intersections. Concern about intersection safety is one of the most common reasons for cycle track opposition from people who ride bikes today. The following post aims to show that a cycle track can be designed so that people are just as visible as in a bike lane.

noparkingNo Parking Cycle Tracks

This isn’t a specific treatment for intersections as much as it is a type of cycle track. On streets without parking, a cycle track is as visible as would be a curbside bike lane. Riders are protected by the raised curb, but nothing gets in the way of clear visibility.  Stretches of the Cully Blvd cycle track are configured without parking.

Bend InThe Bend In
The principle is simple: move people riding toward the center of the roadway to the location they would be if they were in a bike lane. Do this early enough before an intersection to ensure visibility by drivers.

This design is disliked by bicyclists if it is configured at every intersection in an area with short blocks because it causes excessive weaving back and forth. The cycle track on Cully Blvd uses this design, and I have heard many comments expressing dislike for the treatment.

Bend OutThe Bend Out

A less intuitive solution, this “bend out” design is the opposite design from a “bend in.” This design shifts the cycle track away from the main roadway in order to separate conflicts into an area outside of the main intersection. Car drivers first turn right around the corner, then they stop for bicyclists in an space large enough to be outside of the flow of traffic.

Dutch design manual recommend this on high-speed roads in less developed areas, where more space may be available. This is less likely to be an appropriate solution in the middle of a city.

ClearZoneThe Clear Zone

It is also possible to overcome visibility issues by prohibiting parking in advance of the intersection or driveway, and ensuring the area is clear of other obstacles. This may be done with paint, or with curb extensions.

Also key to this concept is to design the turn for slow speeds. The slower the turning speed, the more time bicyclists are visible and the more time everyone has to react.

MixingZoneThe Mixing Zone

Seen on the NE Multnomah St Cycle Track, a mixing zone requires right turning cars to enter the cycle track space to make their turn. Car drivers must wait to merge, and the shared lane is designed to be too narrow for side-by-side riding.

This design is criticized for being a stressful condition in an otherwise low-stress route, but sometimes is the only way to retain a right turn only lane in constrained spaces.

Raised crossingThe Raised Crossing

Raised bikeway crossings give a clear message that bicyclists have priority at driveways and intersections. Legally, cars turning right must yield to a bicyclist going straight through (the same rules as if there were a bike lane) and this design reinforces the law with physical infrastructure.

Maintain the cycle track and sidewalk raised as they pass through the intersection. Cars will need to mount over the cycle track and sidewalk, similar to entering a driveway. When designed correctly, drivers will be going very slow when turning.

bikesignalExclusive Signals

Traffic signals can also be used to manage conflicts. Right turning cars can have a red light, while bicyclists going straight receive a green light. A configuration like this is installed at NE Broadway & Williams, where a bike lane conflicts with right turn lanes.

What do you think?
Are these designs worth consideration? Do they help overcome some concerns about cycle tracks? Post your comments, questions and suggestions below. If cycle tracks are our future, lets make sure we get them right.

Help Build a Comprehensive Resource on the Case for Investing in Bikes

Posted in Advocate's Toolbox, Infrastructure, News on May 24th, 2012 by Steve – Comments Off on Help Build a Comprehensive Resource on the Case for Investing in Bikes

If you’re into numbers, citations and other fun data related to why investing and encouraging bicycling is the most super-duper thing cities can do, it would be great to have your contribution to this collaborative project!

The Case for Cycling is destined to help inform the City Club of Portland’s research study on bicycling and will also serve as a comprehensive reference to help cities navigate the political and social challenges of building out their bike networks.

Chris Smith writes:

The City Club of Portland recently announced a research study: BICYCLING IN PORTLAND: A SERIOUS LOOK AT TRANSPORTATION POLICY AND PRIORITIES .

Here are the objectives of the study:

  • Make a recommendation on the role bicycling should play in Portland’s transportation system, based on review of existing criteria, available studies, and witness testimony.
  • Based on the committee’s recommendation for the role bicycling should play in Portland’s transportation system, make further recommendations on the goals the city should set for bicycle ridership and the necessary improvements to reach those goals.
  • The committee must identify the level and sources of funding necessary to achieve the identified goals.
  • The committee is encouraged to make recommendations in related areas, including safety, governance, traffic enforcement, economic development, and community outreach.

You can’t lobby a City Club research committee (and I wouldn’t want to – having participated in a couple and chaired one – I respect the process greatly), but you can make sure they have good information, and we’d like to make sure they have lots of it!

“We” in this instance is a cooperative effort of Portland Transport, the Bicycle Transportation AllianceBikePortlandPortland Afoot and AROW.
And we’d like you to help us.

We’ve launched a Wiki site: The Case for Cycling and we’re asking your assistance in populating it with the best arguments, statistics and research making the case for why cycling is good for our city, region and country.

While the motivation for this site is immediate and local, we’d like this to be a high-quality effort that can take on a longer life and be a resource for other communities.

Please check out the site, sign up for an account, and contribute your best arguments and data!

Invest in Bikes: An Important Graph for Advocates

Posted in Advocate's Toolbox, News on March 2nd, 2012 by Steve – Comments Off on Invest in Bikes: An Important Graph for Advocates

Roger Geller, PBOT Bicycle Coordinator, shared this graph at last year’s Oregon Active Transportation Summit.  A year later it remains a pivotal resource for those who are considering bike funding in our local transportation budget battle.

Regional Metro, ODOT, Trimet + Local Agency Expenditures and New Trips – Active Transportation, Transit and Motor Vehicles

Why Bicyclists & Pedestrians Should Be Accommodated on Thoroughfares

Posted in Advocate's Toolbox, News on July 19th, 2011 by Ted – 3 Comments


Compare to

Hmmm. These are all the reasons why Lovejoy was a better bike route than Marshall will ever be…

— 1995 Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan

See the entire document at

Early Findings from Crash Reporting, Update from Latest Meeting with PBOT

Posted in Advocate's Toolbox, News on May 26th, 2011 by AROW – Comments Off on Early Findings from Crash Reporting, Update from Latest Meeting with PBOT

Bicycle crashes reported on new Portland Streetcar line

Less than a month ago, AROW launched an effort to collect data from people who have crashed their bicycles on Streetcar tracks.  While reports continue to be collected, we took the  opportunity to look through the 99 reports we have received to date.

For our first set of findings, we isolated crashes that were along the new streetcar alignment to present to PBOT, as part of AROW’s continuing work to bring safety improvements to vital bikeways intersecting streetcar tracks.  You can review the wonky spreadsheet for details, report case numbers correspond with the numbers on the map above.  We will continue to work with the data to come up with a more complete picture of crash hot-spots along the entire Streetcar system.

Meeting with PBOT & Portland Streetcar

New Pearl District Traffic Circulation Map

New Pearl District Traffic Circulation Map, note bikes are now routed down 16th rather than 15th.

AROW met with PBOT and Portland Streetcar last Wednesday to review our list of outsanding safety concerns.

PBOT indicated changes are coming, including new wayfinding signage, lane reconfigurations, and further study of motor vehicle trips on Marshall Street.  We are pleased that PBOT has carefully considered our requests and there has been progress. The AROW Streetcar Safety Group remains concerned about the implementation timeline, especially considering our proximity to Summer, a time when the biggest, most diverse set of people on bikes are out riding these streets.

A summary list of locations due to receive enhanced bikeway safety improvements, as provided by PBOT,  is below. read more »