Tech Talk: Using planters as separation

June 27, 2013

Martha Roskowski

We’ve been sharing this photo of Portland’s NE Multnomah protected bike lane in our presentations. We love the use of the planters as part of the separation between the car lane and the bike lane. We’ve been asked how planters can be justified from an engineering standpoint, as they could be considered an obstruction. We asked Portland chief engineer Rob Burchfield to explain:

We consider the planters to be a low risk hazard for a number of reasons. First, the vehicle speeds are low and the planters are placed within a buffer area where vehicles are moving longitudinal to the buffer. Secondly, the planters will yield if struck; they are not attached to the roadway. We have had one planter struck and it shoved as we had expected. Other precautions we have taken include placing delineators in advance of all of the planters and placing retroreflective markings on all of planters to ensure that they are clearly visible in all light conditions. Finally, we consider these planters to be an interim design element as a part of this demonstration project.

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