Monday, May 10, 2010

Green Boxes to promote bike safety/ridership: Are they safe?

Are Portland's bike boxes working? PSU study finds mixed results so far
By Joseph Rose, The Oregonian
January 26, 2010, 6:55PM

Portland State University researcher Chris Monsere clicked on his PowerPoint presentation to play a video of traffic at a green bike box.

On the screen, a sport utility vehicle turned right from Northwest Everett Street onto Northwest 16th Avenue, cutting across the box and nearly hitting a bicyclist with the right of way. The bicyclist hit his brakes, avoiding a nasty collision by inches.

Transportation officials, bike advocates and two-wheeled commuters in the Portland Building's second-floor auditorium last week gasped. A man shouted, "Ouch!"

The video is part of the first study of whether Portland's 14 experimental bike boxes, which began popping up at tricky intersections in 2008, help save cyclists' lives.

So far, it appears the benefits of the 14-foot-long boxes might just be in commuters' heads. A preliminary analysis of 918 hours of video shot at 12 boxes failed to show a significant reduction in conflicts between cars and bicycles, according to the study by PSU's Center for Transportation Studies.

At the same time, 90 percent of 717 city motorists polled for the study said they know how the boxes work. More than half said they think the boxes make intersections safer.

Go to the Hard Drive commuting blog to read the entire story and watch video from the study.

1 comment:

  1. In a city that already stands at the forefront of cycling for transportation, there are much more improvements that still could be done. The aim of the green boxes was entirely for the benefit of the Portland metro area. By promoting safety of riders one can only assume that more people would see biking as a formidable means of transport. The boxes, however, don't work. I believe if more people themselves biked as a common means of transportation, they would be more cautious to those not driving a car. I believe instead of expanding the number of green boxes, lets expand the number of bikers first. An education plan that could show the advantages to the public could be the key. This in turn will make Portland a much more hospitable environment with less pollution and car congestion, adding to the appeal of inner city living (thus creating an incentive to stray from the suburbs). Thanks for reading,