Portland Bike Infrastructure: A Few Examples

Posted by Scott on Feb 1st, 2009

My elation over living in Portland – literally a bicycling paradise in the United States – hasn’t subsided yet. As I ride through the city I can’t wipe the smile off my face from seeing all the other people out on bikes, and learning how progressive the transportation infrastructure is. For the benefit of my friends back East, here are a few videos I found on YouTube that describe what we have out here.

Of course Portland has bike lanes – over 100 miles of them – but you might be surprised to find that streets with bike lanes aren’t necessarily the safest way to get around by bike in the city. One of the most intriguing strategies the city has come up with is optimizing certain side roads as bicycle boulevards; streets where traffic flow is optimized for bicycles and pedestrians.

One of the coolest things about bike boulevards is how they’re such a win-win situation for the communities where they’re placed. Homeowners love having their street designated as a bike boulevard, as it makes the street safer and more family-friendly, and helps to raise home values.

When cycling around NH, I generally avoided routes with traffic lights on them whenever possible because of the difficulty or outright impossibility of tripping the traffic sensors to change the light. These kinds of intersections are also where plenty of crashes with cars can occur when a bike or car wants to turn. Portland actually has traffic sensors at many lights specifically designed to be triggered by bicycles, and in some cases, even dedicated lights for bicycle traffic:

…and to make tricky intersections safer for everyone, bike boxes (my apologies for the corny nature of this video):

All of this infrastructure costs very little as a percentage of the overall transportation budget in Portland, and the return on investment is huge. It reduces auto congestion and pollution, and helps Portland solidify its reputation as a sustainable and environmentally progressive city.

I’ll be continually smiling on my bike for some time, I’m sure. 🙂

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