Compromises Made, Portland Opens Ambitious Bikeway

Last week, the Portland Bureau of Transportation opened the $4.5 million, 9.1-mile “20s Bikeway.” The project combines neighborhood greenways, bike lanes and arterial crossings to create a rare north-south route through the entire city. PBOT Director Leah Treat says it is the largest bike project her agency has delivered all at once.

“It’s a fantastic project that’s absolutely going to improve north-south mobility for people riding bikes in Portland,” says Gerik Kransky, policy director at The Street Trust, a nonprofit membership organization that promotes walking, biking and public transit. “Folks were already riding north and south on a few of the streets that have been upgraded through this project. Nine miles of connectivity changes the game for people.”

Though the Oregon city is known for its robust bike network, most of that infrastructure is east to west. The Willamette River runs north to south, dividing the city in half. Downtown is west of the river. Many of the residential neighborhoods are to the east and major arterial roads were built east to west to connect them to downtown.

Kransky explains that not only did the city lack a good north-south bike route, bicyclists traveling that direction also had to cross many busy east-west arterials.

“There were a whole bunch of intersections that were not suitable or safe,” he says. “The dedicated bicycle crossing signals and pedestrian-actuated crossing lights are really hallmarks of the success of the project. People may not ride all 9 miles, but they’ll use the route to cross the busy streets near their house.”

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