The Second Age of Portland Cycling Infrastructure Begins


Our new Cycle Track

In my view Portland became North America’s premier cycling city based on a combination of factors, many of which are cultural and social. But an undeniable ingredient was one key piece of infrastructure – the bike lane. While bike boulevards (quieter low traffic streets) acted as feeders to the bike lane network, the six foot bike lane alongside arterial auto traffic (and often next to parked cars that might throw open a door) has been the mainstay or the network that fueled our ascendancy

But that is changing, and I think yesterday may well be the day that history will mark as the beginning of the second age of cycling infrastructure in Portland. We celebrated the opening of our first cycle track at PSU (ably covered by BikePortland). This comes on the heels of a new buffered bike lane on Holgate.

I believe that our second age will be marked by a number of features aimed at capturing the “interested but concerned” demographic of new riders, who comprise the largest segment of the population:

  1. A complete network of bicycle boulevards. Riders will be able to navigate large areas of the city entirely on low-traffic streets, which will have well-engineered, safe and comfortable crossings of major arterials.
  2. Off-street bike paths will serve as “bicycle freeways” facilitating larger volumes and longer, faster trips. The North Portland Greenway and Sullivan’s Gulch Trail will be early entries in this part of the network. The Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater Corridor show us what these will look like.

  3. The parts of the network on arterial streets will look like cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes, or other designs that provide a considerably greater degree of safety and comfort than today’s bike lane.

But I’ll still think fondly about the good old bike lane that got us here.

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