What Happens When a Bike Lane Isn't for Bikes Anymore - CityLab

How about “light individual transport lane”?

Sometimes, you just need a good chat on the bus to get a good idea. That’s what happened to two Portland transit gurus, Sarah Iannarone and Jarrett Walker, when they met on the Oregon city’s 10 bus this Tuesday.

“Jarrett’s my neighbor, but he’s not all small talk,” says Iannarone, who is the associate director of First Stop Portland, an urban sustainability training program at Portland State University. She and Walker, a well-known transit consultant (and occasional CityLab contributor), got to talking about road space—you know, as neighbors do. “If we have a couple minutes, we use that to our advantage.”

The topic of the day: How to categorize and capitalize on the swarm of e-scooters that had just showed up in Portland this July. The rentable conveyances have stormed cities nationwide this summer, joining a whole host of other little vehicles that are blurring the once well-defined lines between motorized and non-motorized road users. Did they belong on roads, or bike lanes, or sidewalks? And does this scooter invasion represent a chance to reframe the distinction between these kinds of spaces? “That’s where Jarrett and I were thinking—where are the opportunities in this?” says Iannarone. “What if you had to start from scratch today with the infrastructure and you didn’t have preconceived notions, especially in downtowns in urban centers as a blank canvas. How would we carve this out?”

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