ODOT, Sandy Blvd, and the curse of outdated design manuals

“ODOT used the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (1995) when designing this project, which does not… mention buffered bike lanes or cycle track and design criteria.”
— ODOT

It’s a shame that outdated engineering guidelines continue to prevent us from designing streets in a way that matches our goals — but that’s exactly what’s happening out on a segment of Sandy Blvd in east Portland.

Last month, we shared the news that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is spending $3.6 million to rebuild a one-mile segment of Sandy between NE 122nd and 141st Avenues. The US 30 Bypass (Sandy Blvd) Safety Project comes with standard, six-foot bike lanes. That might sound good, but this type of bike lane is nothing but a continuation of a status quo that is inadequate for bicycle riders and that doesn’t match up our our city and statewide transportation planning goals.

A standard bike lane next to heavy auto and truck traffic going 35-40 mph is the same way we’ve designed roads since the 1990s. Today, planners and the public are insistent on more significant bikeway access that includes some level of separation.