PORTLAND -- On a busy day, 4,000 cyclists travel along N Williams Avenue in North Portland. The number rises dramatically year after year and the old bike lane can't handle the congestion.

You really have to be on your toes, said cyclist Mark Buchweitz, who rides the route nearly every day.

When TriMet buses pull over on Williams Avenue, they must cross the bike lane and when motorists park, doors open directly into the bike lane.

After more than a year of meetings and planning, the city is about to do something that's never been done before in Portland: Moving the bike lane from the right side of the road to the left.

We want to first shift the bike lane to the left side to remove that bus conflict issue, said Rich Newlands with the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Cyclist and drivers must share a lane through one of the busiest sections of the bike way. But only left-turning motorists will be allowed in the shared lane.

I don't think it's been tested with a left-side bike lane, so we'll have to do a lot of education for bicyclists and drivers, said Michelle Depass, who lives in the neighborhood and is a member the citizens advisory committee.

Cyclist Mark Buchweitz commends the city and the advisory committee for experimenting with something new, but worries drivers might not like the new restriction.

I hope there is not going to be a conflict with the cars trying to push back against something like this, he said.

City planners said they were attempting to maintain as much auto capacity as possible, but it will be reduced.

The Williams Avenue bike highway will also include three new light signals, plus new signs and curbing. Construction could begin this summer.

There is also a funding challenge: The city has $250,000 set aside, but it will likely take twice that much to complete.

Read or Share this story: