The Portland Bureau of Transportation will install the city’s first illuminated bike lane markers next week (sorry, it’s not the glow-in-the-dark “starpath” everyone’s talking about). According to PBOT Active Transportation Division Manager Dan Bower, on Tuesday crews will install 20 solar-powered LED lights in the bike lane stripe on NE Couch as it makes the s-curve onto the Burnside Bridge (a somewhat notorious location if you recall).
The lights, which are only 7 millimeters tall, will be installed flush with the ground about every 15 feet (see below). They’ll turn on automatically as the sun sets. Bower told us he first saw them in use in Denmark (where they’re made) and thought they could be helpful safety and wayfinding devices here in Portland. Saris Racks is importing the lights from Denmark (apparently the company wants to get into the U.S. bikeway building boom) and they have donated the lights to PBOT for this pilot project. The price of each light, including the epoxy to secure them into the ground, is $140.
Bower said PBOT has purposefully timed the installation of the new lights to coincide with the end of Daylight Savings Time. While the lights will help with the safety issue of people driving into bike lanes (especially on curvy roads), Bower said, they are not meant as as substitute for physically separated lanes. “These lights don’t replace better design,” he said, “I’d rather have a curb, but I don’t have the money for a curb.”