City planners looking to remake Barbur Boulevard

City planners looking to remake Barbur Boulevard »Play Video
This is what Barbur Boulvard might look like redesigned. Northbound traffic would be reduced to one lane and expanded bike lanes on either side. (Artist conception)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Barbur Boulevard is one of the city's busiest roads, and it may soon get an extensive makeover.

A new plan approved by the City Council on Wednesday shows the desire for a more walk-able roadway with high capacity mass transit and less of a suburban highway feel. The changes would come over the next several decades.

But there may be some competing interests between cyclists and drivers. And for bicyclists riding on Barbur there are some risks involved.

"If you keep in your lane and keep far away from the road, it's OK," said Henry Fortuna, who rides his bike on Barbur. "Some people, when they're not paying attention, will kind of go into the bike lane. So it's pretty sketchy."

Also, bike lanes basically end as Barbur crosses two different viaducts. There's a sign that reads: "Bikes on Roadway."

For cyclists there are no good alternatives.

"That is the main corridor from downtown to Southwest in terms of bike riding," said Jay Sugnet, Barbur Concept Plan project manager. "It's a nice gentle grade. It's perfect for bikers."

That is why any talk of revamping Barbur Boulevard gets cyclists excited and motivated to push for a "road diet" on some sections.

A road diet would shrink the number of travel lanes, making more room for bikes. Northbound traffic would be reduced to one lane and expanded bike lanes on either side.

"For bikers, it'd be great, but for traffic, not so much," said Fortuna.

City leaders know that and believe it would only be a temporary fix.

"Road diet is one idea that's being explored. It would be an interim solution," Sugnet said. "Basically, there probably would be demand for four lanes sometime in the future, but we're trying to get creative."

Project managers emphasized that this is the time for the community to get involved.

Click here to learn more about the Barbur Concept Plan.