Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New! Parking-protected bike lanes coming to Mill Plain Boulevard in downtown Vancouver this summer

By Kayla Dunn

We're adding a number of travel and safety improvements for those who bike and park in downtown Vancouver – including some changes that users should be aware of along Mill Plain Boulevard (State Route 501).

Crews will complete striping on Mill Plain Boulevard this month, the final phase of work along SR 501, I-5 and the Port of Vancouver. Once the striping work is complete, travelers will notice new ways to park and bike with the addition of new parking-protected bike lanes and the use of two-stage bike boxes. Striping changes will appear on Mill Plain Boulevard between I-5 and the Port of Vancouver, with the parking-protected bike lanes on the stretch of Mill Plain Boulevard between I-5 and Columbia Street.

A look at the layout of improvements on East Mill Plain Boulevard, including how parking-protected bike lanes along the curb will add an additional buffer between bicyclists and vehicles.
An example of parking-protected bike lane in downtown Vancouver on Columbia Street
 near 11th Street with the bike plane on the curb side of the parked car

What are parking-protected bike lanes?

Parking-protected bike lanes improve overall safety by better protecting people riding bikes from nearby vehicular traffic. The new bike lanes are now on the curb side of the parking lane spots, rather than next to active traffic, which lets the parking spots create an additional buffer between moving vehicles and bicyclists. They also are wider – expanded from the previous 4 feet to 5 1/2 feet with an additional 2-foot buffer.

Crews also painted bike lanes green at intersections to help raise drivers' awareness of bicyclists along the roadway. The green paint also serves as a continuous reminder to people driving vehicles of the possibility of bicyclists present on the roadway as they merge or change lanes. Motorists should only park in designated spaces between the travel lane and the bike lane and take care when exiting the parking space. Bicyclists should use caution when entering and exiting the bike lanes and when crossing at intersections.

An example of how green paint near intersections helps indicate newly added bike boxes in downtown Vancouver.

How to use two-stage bike boxes

  • Two-stage left turn boxes are designed to give bicyclists a safe way to turn left through an intersection.
  • To use these bikes boxes, bicyclists should cross straight through the intersection at a green light and wait in the green box near to the curb.
  • People diving vehicles should wait for the signal to change and then cross with the green light.
  • At intersections that include a bike box, no right turn is allowed on red.

Project highlights

Other parts of this project that are already completed within downtown Vancouver, include:

  • Upgraded pedestrian crossing signals, which provide visual and audio cues notifying people when it is safe to cross. These include directional flashing arrows and countdown timers so people know how much time they have to cross the road safely.
  • New curb ramps that meet current ADA standards. Curb ramps help people of all abilities safely transition from a roadway to a curbed sidewalk and vice versa.
  • Upgraded traffic lights on East Mill Plain Boulevard at Columbia Street, Main Street, and Broadway Street that allow for better clearance by freight traffic.
  • A new pedestrian-activated rectangular rapid-flashing beacon at the southbound I-5 off ramp to East Mill Plain Boulevard.
Mill Plain Boulevard as it looked previously.

Improving freight movement and traffic movement for all

To help improve freight travel and the movement of goods, crews have reconstructed the intersections of East Mill Plain Boulevard at Washington Street and Main Street. These improvements eliminate the need for trucks hauling oversized loads from the Port of Vancouver to I-5 to navigate around sections of East Mill Plain Boulevard using local city streets. Trucks used to have do that because high points in the roadway and low-hanging traffic lights impeded the routes. Using the local streets often resulted in long loads bottoming out and slowing overall traffic This work will help improve travel and safety for all users.

We've got a lot of additional work coming to Clark County this summer. To help you know before you go, we encourage you to sign up to receive email updates or text alerts and download our mobile app.