A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Could Madison become a ‘bike boulevard’?

Written February 19th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Madison Street: A truck route and a possible future “bike boulevard.”

Every once in a while I find myself on Madison, one of the streets in old Albany where the pavement makes your teeth chatter, especially if you’re on a bike. So an item on the agenda of the city’s bike and pedestrian commission caught my eye.

“Madison Street Bicycle Boulevard Discussion” is on the advisory commission’s plate for its virtual meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23.

In connection with bikes, the street last appeared in this blog in October 2019. That’s when the bike/ped commission heard about the possibility of painting parts of the intersections green as a way to alert drivers to the potential presence of cyclists.

No green paint has yet appeared.

Madison is one of the few streets connecting Pacific Boulevard to Albany’s Willamette riverfront and the First/Second Avenue couplet. It gets quite a bit of traffic including cyclists. Because of a history of bike-car crashes along Madison, Albany is in line for a small ODOT grant for a safety project.

“As currently envisioned,” the city’s Ron Irish told me, “the project would involve sharrows, some striping improvements at intersections to better define the bike route of travel, and speed humps to help keep vehicle speeds down.”

Albany’s Transportation Systems Plan designates this part of Madison as a possible “bike boulevard,” but just what changes that would involve has not been defined.

Here’s what the National Association of City Transportation Officials says: “Bicycle boulevards are streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority. Bicycle boulevards use signs, pavement markings, and speed and volume management measures to discourage through trips by motor vehicles and create safe, convenient bicycle crossings of busy arterial streets.”

This doesn’t sound feasible for Madison, but we’ll see.

What the bike/ped commission is expected to discuss on Tuesday is whether to expand the ODOT safety project to include bike boulevard improvements as well. If that ends up the plan, it would need city council approval.

What about the rough pavement? There’s no funding for doing anything drastic like an overlay, which would also require expensive work to make the curbs at all the intersections comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act..

“We’re looking to see,” Irish told me, “if there isn’t perhaps a surface maintenance treatment we could use that would improve the ride surface without triggering ADA improvements.”

Good luck with that. In the meantime, if you ride a bike on Madison, don’t try it with one hand holding a camera phone. Like this: (hh)


15 responses to “Could Madison become a ‘bike boulevard’?”

  1. Lisa Farnam says:

    Dude, you need a GoPro!

    • Brad says:

      Nah, he just needs a good handlebar bike mount for his cell phone. Most are made for viewing the screen while you ride your bike, but if you spend a little time on Amazon, you can find them that would adjust for filming while biking. You could get one with a clamp or magnet so you can easily switch between talking to the camera to riding down Madison.

  2. Sarcastic Old Man says:

    Let’s see if they start planning on this now. I am 60 years old. Nah, ain’t gonna happen.

  3. Hazel Siebrecht says:

    32nd Avenue going south off Madison and on past Draper Park is, if you care to check, worse than Madison! I drive that ‘Avenue’ frequently and the smoothest path is in the middle, straddling all the cracks, etc.

    • Connie says:

      And 24th Ave in front of Calapooia Middle School. A while back I was walking there and saw one of those “polygonal” chunks sticking up above street level. I gave it a few good stomps back down. My community service for the day…

  4. Son of Jacob Jacobson says:

    This is great news. Bicyclists carving out preferable conditions for themselves while disavowing needed improvements for the physically-challenged. Inspiring, magnanimous thinking by the bicycling community. And now, it seems the City is intent on supporting the persecuted bicycling brotherhood, (a nod to the bicycling sisterhood) “We’re looking to see,” Ron Irish told me, “if there isn’t perhaps a surface maintenance treatment we could use that would improve the ride surface without triggering ADA improvements.”

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      They used to do a “slurry seal” which they used to expound on the massive amounts of money it saved as preventive maintenance. I haven’t seen it used in years. WHY, Ron Irish?

      Once cracks start, freezing weather wreaks havoc since ice EXPANDS.

      • hj.anony1 says:


        Our grand city of Albany did this last summer. At least in N.A. but they missed a few cracks! Contract work no doubt.

        I would attach a picture but not allowed. HH, look into that would ya??!?
        Small pictures in the comments section would add immense value to your
        wonderful Blog!

    • Mike Bike says:

      Would you care to elaborate about this “persecuted bicycle community” you name in your flippant post?

  5. HowlingCicada says:

    The National Association of City Transportation Officials, mentioned by Hasso, publishes many “guide” books for street design, etc. Lots of design guidance. The content appears to be freely available online. For example, for various bikeways, including bicycle boulevards:

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Of course I forgot the most important part — lots of pretty photos. Well worth a look if you’re not a fan “streets are only for cars.”

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      Thank you!

      One of my favorites is the protected bike lane by parked cars. The good thing is that it does not require a lot of spending, just painting lines.

      Cars park separated from the curb about 3 ft and then that space is used for the bike lane.

      Cyclist then feel safe but right hand passengers need to learn to open the door carefully.

      In streets that are wide enough it fits in both sides. Narrower streets can reduce it to one lane or eliminate one of the sides of street parking. Most of the times it is not the end of the world.

  6. Melo Velo says:

    How are the City of Albany’s segments of the N. Albany-N. Corvallis Multi-use Path coming along? Benton County and the City of Corvallis have been doing work on one or two segments near the Farm Home as part of this year’s Highway 20 safety improvements construction.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a leisure cycling/walking path along the Willamette from Albany to Corvallis completely separated from Highway 20?

      • George Pugh says:

        The Willamette Greenway was “nice” idea that became a law in the seventies, I think. I’m not sure how complete it is but it resulted in a jungle of blackberries, teasel and lovbred populars (in the contry, we call them “bambs.” You should be talking to the Oregon Parks, it’s in their bailiwick.


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany Carousel Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal Andy Olson Benton County Benton County parks bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park Calapooia River CARA City of Albany climate change coronavirus COVID-19 Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path Daylight saving time downtown Albany Edgewater Village global warming gun control Highway 20 Interstate 5 Kitzhaber Linn County marijuana medical marijuana Millersburg North Albany Road Obama ODOT Oregon coast Oregon legislature Oregon passenger rail Pacific Power Portland & Western Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Willamette River

Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering