Portland making it easier to pedal along Park Avenue

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PORTLAND — Park Avenue between Deering Oaks Park and Hadlock Field should be safer and more accessible for bicyclists by the end of the month.

The city is creating bike lanes separated by bollards from Forest Avenue to Valley Street, and narrowing the existing vehicle lanes, in a project expected to take three weeks if the weather cooperates.

“The goal is to complete the project before school begins,” city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said. “The project is intended to improve multi-modal safety for all.”

The city allocated $100,000 in the current capital improvements budget for the work, which will condense travel lanes to one in each direction with a center turn lane.

A 5-foot wide bicycle lane will be painted into each side of the road closest to the curb, with bollards installed to separate the lanes from the on-street parking spots.

Existing dedicated right and left turn lanes at intersections on Park Avenue will remain, but intersections will be marked in green to indicate bicycle lanes.

The city will also add “bike boxes:” marked areas at intersections that allow bicyclists to turn left from Park Avenue to Deering or Forest avenues or State and High streets without crossing into oncoming traffic.

The boxes are marked to enable bicyclists to wait for a signal to change and then proceed off Park Avenue.

Grondin said the new road configurations improve links from Portland Street and beyond St. John Street, as well as along the side streets intersecting Park Avenue.

A city web page at https://bit.ly/2vAZG1p details the changes, while also providing instructions for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. There are still bus stops in some bike lanes, and riders will be urged to wait for any bus that has stopped, although passing around them will be allowed.

People parking cars are cautioned to look for the markings for parking spaces and to be alert for bicyclists when getting out of vehicles and stepping to the sidewalks.

A project overview notes there will be a net loss of nighttime (6 p.m.-7 a.m.) parking spaces in the affected area on Park Avenue. In the stretch from Deering Avenue to Mellen Street, 14 spaces will be lost, while 12 new spaces will be gained in the block from Mellen to State streets.

Daytime parking spaces, from 7 a.m.-6 p.m., will increase, largely because of the addition of 26 spaces between State and High streets where daytime parking is not currently allowed.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Park Avenue will soon feature dedicated bicycle lanes marked by bollards between Forest Avenue and Valley Street.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.