Portland thinks outside ‘bike box’

On Tuesday, in light of the two recent fatalities of bicycle riders in the city, the Oregonian published an article that makes light of a Portland trial run of “bike boxes” at intersections. In the absence of any publicity to educate the public of the existence of these new traffic control markings, many cyclists and drivers are unaware of their significance and purpose.

From the Oregonian:

[The] bike boxes on Southeast Clinton Street on Tuesday — one on either side of 39th — only two out of about 40 cars that traveled through the intersection during one half-hour period stopped at the bike box line — set about 15 feet from the crosswalk — when the light was red.

Few of the dozen or so cyclists that passed through during the same time strayed far from the bike lanes that straddle the boxes. A majority of the drivers made illegal right turns when the light was red, despite large signs telling them not to turn.

The article proceeds to mention that subsequent installations of bike boxes will use brighter colors and markings in an attempt to better alert cyclists and drivers of the presence of the box.

However, given that bike boxes are presently installed in only one location, I believe it would be helpful and affordable to place uniformed police officers at the intersection of SE 39th Avenue and Clinton Street to educate both cyclists and drivers about the purpose of the boxes and – in particular – warn or cite drivers that violate the law at this intersection. If this project is ultimately to be successful then cyclists and drivers alike must be properly informed. Many times the only way to educate drivers about a new law is to have a police officer tap on their window and issue a warning.

Read the Oregonian article: Portland thinks outside ‘bike box’

[Update: 2007-11-06 – B.R.]

Over on Commissioner Adams’ blog, they’ve just posted a long article with bike box program implementation details:

Roger Geller explains PDOT’s position, plans for bike safety improvements

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