City beefs up bike lanes, seeks input on SW Alder Street Rose Lane project

City beefs up bike lanes, seeks input on SW Alder Street Rose Lane project
The new bus and bike lane on SW Alder St in between 2nd and 4th Aves. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A new addition to downtown Portland’s emerging slate of bike and transit infrastructure opened late last month when the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and TriMet debuted the first phase of their SW Alder Street Rose Lane Project. This project is part of the larger Central City in Motion plan to improve active transportation infrastructure in the city center, which includes the recently-completed Better Naito, bike lanes on Broadway, SW 4th Ave, and more. But the Alder Rose Lane project isn’t done yet. As PBOT and TriMet work to plan its second phase, they’re seeking feedback from people about what is and isn’t working in the initial plan rollout.

In addition to bus-related elements, the project comes with two new bike lanes – a shared bus-bike lane between SW 4th and 2nd avenues and one going north on SW 2nd Avenue between Alder and Washington streets to connect to the bike lane north of Washington. When we checked out the project last month, those bike lanes weren’t complete. According to PBOT project managers who spoke at a Central City in Motion Working Group meeting Wednesday, some of the materials needed to complete these bike lanes have been on backorder, but they expect to complete the project with green bike lane striping and plastic “tuff-curb” and wands this week.

PBOT’s Rose Lane initiative is intended to prioritize bus and streetcar transit citywide. But while a two-block bus priority lane downtown is better than nothing – and small changes do make a big difference in the congested Central City – what has been completed of the Alder Rose Lane Project is not yet up to par with what we need to make it safe and convenient to bike and bus downtown.

In response to feedback they’ve received already, project planners will try to improve the experience for people using the new bike lane on 2nd Avenue. Their plan is to add a concrete planter with yield signage at 2nd and Washington to make it more apparent to people driving that they need to pay attention to oncoming bike traffic. This should be implemented within the next two months.

At yesterday’s CCIM Working Group meeting, PBOT project manager Gabe Graff said phase two of the project is still in its early stages, but the basic plan is to solidify the temporary infrastructure changes they made to TriMet stops on Alder with permanent bus stop improvements, concrete curb extensions and shelter amenities.

Graff said the team plans to begin designing the second phase of this project this winter, with installation coming the following year. This kind of timeline isn’t surprising, especially for projects multiple agencies are working on, but it doesn’t relieve people who bike around Portland’s car-clogged city center to know that permanent changes will be coming in two years. And with TriMet ridership still suffering, will this kind of incremental change even be enough to entice people out of their cars?

We’ll update you when the bike lanes and signage for the first phase of the project are complete. And be sure to share your thoughts with PBOT and TriMet about the project via a survey which will be open through August 20th.