Are Those Bike Boxes Working?

Portland State University
Center for Transportation Studies
Fall 2009 Transportation Seminar Series

Speaker: Jennifer Dill and Chris Monsere, PSU

Topic: Initial Assessment of Portland’s Green Bike Boxes

When: Friday, Dec 4, 2009, 12:00 – 1:00pm

Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204

11 responses to “Are Those Bike Boxes Working?”

  1. I hope this gets published somewhere, I’m not going to be able to get up to PSU for the conference and I’m curious to know what the results have been. My non-scientific observation is that people respect the green bike boxes much more often than the non-colored bike boxes. I personally like that they’re there because I know that the driver can see me, though I couldn’t say whether or not that actually makes me any safer.

  2. My comment is that it really isn’t helping anything.
    Bicyclists themselves don’t even use them, at least on Everett St.

    As a matter of fact, they don’t even use the bike lanes!

    They just ride in the road.
    (can’t say that I blame em)

  3. Just for the record, remember, bicycle lanes are part of the road. Bicycles are not required to make use of them (and for many maneuvers, such as left hand turns, simply can’t be made legally or safely from that lane). Bicycles are allowed to use any legal lane of travel when moving approximately the same speed as other traffic or when merging to make a left before an intersection, or merging right after completing a left turn.

    Patience is a virtue, especially if you’re driving in a part of town where reserved lanes are not in your favor.

  4. al m: I definitely use them, but maybe not in the way you think they’re supposed to be used. At a stoplight I pull up as far as I can go, but don’t put my bike directly in front of the car that’s to the right of me. What I like about the bike box is that it allows me to be easily visible by the driver because rather than being directly to their right, I’m ahead and to the right.

    What the box does is force the car to sit about 6 feet behind bikes, so if they’re planning on taking a right turn they’ll see if there’s bike traffic in the bike lane. This setup would have prevented the fatality where the girl got hit by a truck when the light turned green, the truck turned right and the bike went straight under it.

    This post is a bit convoluted, but my point is that a bike doesn’t have to position itself to the left in the bike box (directly in front of a car) to be making use of the bike box.

  5. The girl-versus-truck accident happened at a channelized right turn, right turns didn’t go through the signal at all at that intersection, they had their own yield sign. Truck failed to yield to traffic on the right, striking the girl.

  6. Tracy Sparling and the truck were both stopped at the light, with Tracy in the bike lane to the right of the truck. The truck driver never saw her and turned right over her when the light turned green.

    If the bike box had been installed, Tracy would have been out in front of the truck and visible to the driver.

  7. ORS 814.430 is the overriding rule here, even though 814.420 describes what you’re saying: Few cities are going to go waste the traffic engineer’s time to make a ticket stick (since the onus of proof for 814.420 is on the jurisdiction to prove that the bicycle facility was safe for passage at the time the cyclist in question was there), especially if it’s easier and more consistent to enforce a broader rule that encourages more predictable movement. 814.420 is one of those dead laws that’s still technically on the books, like the one requiring motorized vehicles to have someone carrying a lantern 50 yards ahead of the vehicle during all nighttime hours…

  8. Any number of folks on the SHIFT list have reported being cited for this offense.

    There was actually a trial over how soon someone could leave the lane to make a left turn!

    However, the PPB now has direction to focus on violations that are ACTUAL safety issues, not just technical violations. Let’s hope those days are over.

  9. PSU generously webcasts and archives these seminars online so it’s OK if you can’t make them.

    Also, speaking of technical violations, how about the roundabout in Ladd’s Addition which is controlled by stop signs, when the point of a roundabout is to not need stop signs? Not to mention that it doesn’t see that much car/truck traffic. That, I believe, is a case of where bicyclists (and traffic in general) really should be obeying a rule, but the rule isn’t really needed.

  10. Yeah, even the MUTCD says that you can’t have a stop sign on a roundabout (traffic signals are OK, though, and probably would help improve the flow there).

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