Streetcar/Bike Conflict Averted

We reported here a few weeks ago about a conflict brewing between bike lanes and streetcar tracks in South Waterfront. It was also blogged about in other places.

I’m happy to report that City Council adopted a resolution this morning with a new concept that has the support of representatives of all the modes. The solution, arrived at after intensive discussions between PDOT and stakeholders over the last several weeks, has two prominent features…

We reported here a few weeks ago about a conflict brewing between bike lanes and streetcar tracks in South Waterfront. It was also blogged about in other places.

I’m happy to report that City Council adopted a resolution this morning with a new concept that has the support of representatives of all the modes. The solution, arrived at after intensive discussions between PDOT and stakeholders over the last several weeks, has two prominent features:

1) To accomodate the narrow envelope where the Streetcar track slab can be placed (it’s constrained between a sewer line, gas line and high-pressure water main) the curb lines were altered, resulting in a 10-foot sidewalk on the west side of the street, mitigated by expanding the sidewalk on the east side to 15 feet. This shift, in combination with some lane width tweaking, allows the preferred placement of the bike lane on the right, while still preserving parking.

2) To avoid the “Lovejoy problem” of running the bike lane through the Streetcar stop, the lane will actually run around the platform to the right and will be much more clearly indicated as a travel lane, and should be clearer to both bikes and pedestrians.

Here’s a full cross-section diagram (PDF 137K).

I’d like to thank everyone who kept hammering at this to make sure we did not get a substandard solution, and particularly Commissioner Adams for his leadership on this (and Tom Miller, Sam’s chief of staff for his personal involvement).

As I testified at Council this morning, this is a harginger of a systematic conflict between right-side bike lanes and right-side running rail transit. While in Europe we saw many examples of center-running streetcars, center-running has challenges with pedestrian and ADA issues. If Portland is going to simultaneously seek Platinum status and expand its rail transit system, we’re going to need to work out systematic design solutions to these conflicts.

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