Portland Bikeway Design Workshop Expands its Impact Across the Country

Bikeway Design News httpswww.flickr.comphotosotrec52375388848inalbum-72177720302287507 .jpg
Students and instructors on a field tour during the 2022 Comprehensive Bikeway Design Workshop

If you're biking through Cincinnati, Ohio in the next couple of years and find yourself pedaling on a Portland-style neighborhood greenway or two-way protected bike lane, it might be because two engineers from the City of Cincinnati's Department of Transportation & Engineering—Joe Conway and Brian Goubeaux—attended our Comprehensive Bikeway Design Workshop in the summer of 2022 and brought some inspiration home.

The City of Cincinnati is in the process of updating its Bicycle Transportation Plan, adopted in 2010 and due for a refresh. Goubeaux, a senior engineer for the City, said that design strategies and practices he learned during the summer workshop will likely find their way into the plan.

"We've been looking at implementing a neighborhood greenway. We've always had neighborhood greenways as a tool in the toolbox; it's always been listed on paper, but nothing has ever fully been implemented. So now as we're updating our bike plan, over the next six months or so, we're looking to include that as a priority for implementation in future years," Goubeaux said. 

Fellow Cincinnati engineer Joe Conway agrees. "The bike infrastructure solutions we explored during the workshop will certainly be seriously considered as investments to the infrastructure in our city going forward," Conway said. Other ideas that may be a good fit for Cincinnati's bike plan and upcoming infrastructure projects include bicycle signal detection feedback and strategies for converting a one-way bike lane to a two-way bike facility on the same side of a street. 

Offered through the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) since 2009, the Comprehensive Bikeway Design workshop has taught nearly 300 professionals from 30 U.S. states. Ohio isn't the first state (and won't be the last) to import bikeway design ideas. Another 2022 attendee, transportation engineer Akmal Durrani of the Washington State Department of Transportation, also expects to put some of the designs covered in the course to use.

"We are completing a street design project now, with some modifications to our roadway design to include a path for bike users. Definitely in the near future we will be implementing some things from the workshop," Durrani said.

Senior Transportation Planner Emily Benoit hopes to put some of the design principles she learned this summer into practice for the City of Vancouver, Washington.

"The most valuable thing I learned is that it’s really possible to build great multimodal roads even in the extremely suburban context. The suburban environment is going to be seeing drastic changes in the near future, so some of the things I’ll be looking to address in my own work are around slower shared roads, education on commuting by bike, and collaborative design processes to make the 'safest' design choices for bike users," Benoit said.

Goubeaux, who came away from the workshop "energized and excited," believes that the on-the-ground learning method is key to successful bikeway training.

"This format of doing part in the classroom,  part in the field – where you get to feel and see and ride and experience what you are talking about – I think that is indispensable. You can learn about roadway sections and traffic counts and all that stuff on a presentation or a video, but without actually seeing and experiencing it, I think it's that missing link to actually getting it. I think that experiential piece is absolutely necessary."

Several agencies have sent multiple representatives over the years, to try their wheels in Portland and learn from our instructors. Kendra Nelson of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission,who attended this year, found out about the workshop from colleagues who had attended in previous years.

Nelson, who is currently working on a bicycle and pedestrian plan as well as a signal retiming effort, said that the IBPI workshop "was the perfect segue into the work that we do in our team." She expects to use insights provided by IBPI instructor Peter Koonce, who manages the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation's Signals, Street Lighting, & ITS Division, to advocate for restructuring signal timing around the bike rather than thinking strictly in terms of level-of-service (LOS).

"I think that anybody who's doing any kind of transportation planning, whether you're a bicycle planner, a pedestrian or transit planner, or just doing a lot of planning for single occupancy vehicles: You should be taking this course. I think that it's a necessary perspective shift, and given the state of climate change and inequality, it's just something that we should be looking at more to provide a range of diverse options for folks," Nelson said.

IBPI is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. The week-long IBPI workshop draws professionals from all over the globe. Check out our album of photos from the 2022 workshop here. A second IBPI workshop, Integrating Bike-Ped Topics into University Transportation Courses, is aimed at helping university faculty make their transportation curriculum more inclusive of active transportation modes.

Both workshops are taught by experts from local agencies and Portland State University, a national leader in active transportation. Research by PSU transportation faculty has informed NACTO’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide, FHWA’s Bikeway Selection Guide, the FTA’s Manual on Bicycle and Pedestrian Connections to Transit, the FHWA’s Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation and many other design guidebooks.

If you'd like to be notified when workshop registration opens for 2023, add your email address here and we'll email you as soon as dates are confirmed.

Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) is home to the U.S. DOT funded National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), PORTAL, BikePed Portal and other transportation grants and programs. We produce impactful research and tools for transportation decision makers, expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engage students and professionals through education and participation in research.

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