The city of Portland, Oregon, made a big step towards the establishment of protected bike lanes as the norm late last year when it moved to require that road designers recommending bike lanes only do so with protected bike lanes. If recommending unprotected (conventional) bike lanes, road designers are now required to explain why, in detail — as per the city’s new policy.
The policy — which applies to all city-managed streets that see an average of more 3,000 pass-through daily — was actually announced internally all the way back in October, in a memo from the city’s Transportation Director Leah Treat.
The new policy is seemingly the first of its kind in the whole of the US — though somewhat similar policies are in place in a couple of other cities/towns.
People for Bikes provides more:
In an interview Monday, Treat said this internal direction to her staff was just part of the initiative. The city is also preparing to consider a formal administrative rule that she said would require developers to provide protected bike lanes with new developments — much as they’ve long been required to provide sidewalks.
As with sidewalks, Treat’s team wants to create exceptions and alternatives to the rule (which isn’t finished and would require city council approval). On certain streets that aren’t expected to get continuous protected bike lanes soon, developers might instead be able to pay into a fund that could be used to build the bike network on other nearby streets.
…But in the end, it was up to city leaders like Treat to decide which challenges to ask those engineers to solve. And from now on in Portland, one of those assigned challenges will be protected bike lanes.
“I’m very, very interested in getting more people to adopt biking as their commute mode, as is the city,” Treat explained. “One of the largest barriers that we have to getting more people on bicycles is getting people feeling safe, and cycle tracks are the safest facility.”
Certainly true. The lack of safety that comes with riding a bike along the side of a busy road is a major barrier to increased bike use. So the strategy seems to be a good one, to my eyes.