Roger Geller, Bicycle Coordinator, City of Portland, Oregon
Bicycle lanes on NW Lovejoy Street in Portland have long serviced an important bicycle connection between Northwest Portland and Portland’s inner eastside. Northwest Portland is Oregon’s most densely developed residential area, includes many shared-use developments and is a gateway to one of the city’s industrial employment districts. One edge of the district is also one of Portland’s fastest redeveloping shared-use neighborhoods. The neighborhood is connected across the Willamette River to Portland’s inner northeast neighborhoods via the Broadway Bridge. The eastside neighborhoods are similar, though not as dense as those on the west, and host many commercial establishments, including the thriving Lloyd District.
Street level bike lane is diverted to behind a street car platform.
The introduction of a streetcar line on NW Lovejoy presented a difficult problem for maintaining bicycle facilities on the street. (Bicycles are not allowed on streetcars.) A streetcar platform at the intersection of Lovejoy and 13th extends to the edge of the travel lane. The streetcar tracks run parallel to the platform and 45.7 cm (18 in) from the curb face. Through cyclists were faced with the potential of a dropped bike lane and 45.7 cm (18 in) of clearance between the parallel tracks and an 27.9 cm (11 in) curb exposure. One consideration was to drop the bicycle lane and implement an out-of direction detour that involved an uncontrolled left-turn onto a busy arterial without bicycle facilities.
Bicyclists travel behind the transit stop platform to reduce potential conflicts with stopped streetcars and passengers.
View of bike lane and street car platform.
The solution eventually adopted was to carry the bicycle lane up onto the streetcar platform. We did several things to slow cyclists entering the platform — the on-street lane runs into an area of heavily brushed concrete and the mouth of the ramp entering the platform is narrow and enters the platform at a moderate angle. We made sure to distinguish this area from the rest of the platform to alert pedestrians to the presence of cyclists. The bike lane area on the platform is marked with two bike stencils and is bordered with brick. It also has a different texture than the other areas of the platform. At the end of the platform the bike lane rejoins the street.
The facility has been operating for some time with neither incident nor complaint. A more challenging test will come when a nearby multi-story residential development is completed and the use of this streetcar platform grows. Another challenge for the platform could be the proposed development of a supermarket, which could dramatically increase cyclists’ use of the platform and the street.
The innovative placement of the bike lane has operated well so far. More will be learned as nearby development takes place.
Project costs are unknown, as changes were part of a larger street improvement project. The platform was to be built as part of the street car project. Additions to adapt the platform to a bikeway involved brickwork, markings and ramp and were not costly.
City of Portland Office of Transportation
1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 800
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 823-7671 (voice)
(503) 823-7609 (fax)
TDD: (503) 823-6868