Oregon leads in bike signal use
By Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
This bike signal in North Portland is among about a dozen bike traffic signals in the city.
A handful of Oregon cities now account for about a quarter of the 16 cities in the nation that are installing new bike-specific traffic signals at intersections. The purpose of the signals is to make traffic rules clearer and intersections feel safer for cyclists.
Many of Oregon's bike traffic signals were added in 2012.
The bike signals stand in for a standard traffic signal with round lights, instead displaying bright cycle icons in red, yellow, and green. Gary Obery, a bike and pedestrian traffic engineer for the Oregon Department of Transportation, says Portland now has close to a dozen of them while Eugene, Clackamas County, Salem and Ashland each have one.
The signal, which are growing in popularity across the country, are being used at intersections where bikes might approach from a direction that doesn't allow cars, or where bike paths cross an intersection diagonally. They're also being used to avoid right-turn conflicts in areas where bike lanes sidle up to right turn lanes.
"One of the best reasons to install a bike signal is that it makes people feel more comfortable bicycling," said Obery.
With safety a top reason why people don't bike more, he said protected lanes, cycle tracks, raised bike lanes, and now bike signals help foster more pedaling.
"That kind of infrastructure is much more appealing to the general public. It looks safer, it feels safer, and there's some research coming out now that it likely is safer," he said.
Cost for the signal is on par with other traffic lights, Obery said, save for a lens cap that might add $500. He added the signals will continue to deploy at the discretion of local traffic engineers, and are likely to land in places where cycling risks are higher or bikes are more frequently in use.
See the updated map below for a directory of Portland-area bicycle signals. Portland's soon-to-start bicycle share program will likely put even more two-wheelers on the streets.
View Portland's Bicycle Signals - Update 12/5/12 in a larger map
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