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Good times, bottlenecks mark 12th annual Bridge Pedal

Posted by on August 12th, 2007 at 3:37 pm

[Updated (see below) at 10:20am, 8/13]

The back-up before the Ross Island Bridge. (File photo)
View the full gallery or watch slide show below.

If you were one of the lucky ones that beat the gridlock and massive bottlenecks, this year’s Bridge Pedal was probably a great day of riding.

Bridge Pedal 2007-5
The Start line from the
Morrison Bridge.
(File photo)

Unfortunately, for many riders (including me and my crew), it seemed like every few miles of pedaling was followed by a major bottleneck.

At the approach to the Ross Island Bridge, some riders spent close to an hour on their feet. They tried to make the best of it by doing “the wave” and ringing bells, but I don’t think anyone expected (or enjoyed) such a long wait.

All the walking and waiting meant that thousands of riders missed out on the festive bridge parties, music, and free food and drink samples.

Bridge Pedal 2007-20
Dining on donuts at the
South Waterfront rest stop.
(File photo)

The back-ups also meant that more riders than usual had their ride cut short and didn’t get to cross the Fremont Bridge (it closed at 11:30).

On the bright side, a few friends of mine avoided the bottlenecks and reported a fantastic day of riding. And, as usual, there were lots of smiles and even with all the gridlock, the Bridge Pedal spirit could not be denied.

The highlight of my day was running into Wes Robinson. Wes was happily pedaling the bike he won in the BikePortland.org Raffle back in November!

So how’d it go for you and your crew? Did you beat the crowds, or was this year more like Bridge Walk?

Check out my my photo gallery or the slide show below (sorry there are no shots of the Fremont or St. Johns Bridges, I didn’t make the cut-off time to ride them!).


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


UPDATE: Reader Chris Sullivan sent in this 3:43 minute long video of the ride.

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Comments
  • Drew Barnard August 12, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Great ride, but I agree with the massive congestion. I was stuck in the middle of the massive \”wave\” right in front of the Ross Island, which was pretty fun despite the pile up :)

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  • a.O August 12, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Somewhat disappointing. The bottlenecks started right away on McLoughlin down to the Sellwood. I walked the Hawthorne then waited for 20 minutes for the Ross Island before bailing and looping back to the Hawthorne (westbound) to pick up the Marquam. Saw a nasty wreck complete with ambulance on the descent. Then I had to walk the Broadway also! At 11:30, I was told there was no support up on the St Johns, but I rode up there anyway and found the lane still closed. Finally, up on the St Johns \”after\” the ride, I finally hit the appropriate density of riders.

    I still had a good time, of course, but they\’ve got to stagger the riders more. I paid for 10 bridges, but really only got 6.

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  • BURR August 12, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    like a lot of other cycling events in PDX, this ride has become a victim of its own success.

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  • Nancy August 12, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    We were in que by 7:05a.m. and hit the first bridge by 7:25. We still experienced a log jam at the Ross Island, but it was more like a 10 min. wait.

    The rest of the ride was fantastic!!! We got a few fast, strong runs and a great downhill on Greeley – weeee!

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  • Mr. Viddy August 12, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Awesome.

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  • Erik August 12, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    As a first time rider I did the 8 bridge ride and started out at the front of the pack. It was a little slow over the Ross Island but after that I could go at my own pace. I had a fantastic solo-ride and was done before 9. I wish every ride could be like today\’s.

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  • Brad Parker August 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Always take the early rides. They are funner and you can avoid hold ups. First dibs on free stuff. If you like to ride fast, go one the 8 Bridge or the 10. The 6 Bridge are better for familys and little ones. Remember This is for fun, not a race.
    Thanks
    B

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  • pdxrunner August 12, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    I was stuck trying to get on the Ross Island for almost an hour. Last year the Ross Island bridge was two lanes wide. This year they cut it down to one lane; of course there is going to be a bottleneck if you do that. Poor planning if you ask me.

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  • Grant August 12, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    I think they should consider capping the registration at, say, 15,000 next year.

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  • Mike Perrault August 12, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Grant, why cap it? I understand that the waits were lame and no matter how many awesome waves came past we were still standing but we should appreciate this \”problem\”. It means that there were too many people who wanted to come out and ride!

    Maybe they could just have this event more often.

    Certainly poor planning had something to do with this, but so did the fact that more and more people are catching the fever! Which is great if you ask me.

    Mike

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  • Jessica Roberts August 12, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    I don\’t understand why the organizer doesn\’t cap attendance. Every year I see a quote from him in the paper about how \”attendance this year will be higher than ever before,\” but clearly every year there are more and more complaints about crowds, safety, bottlenecks, etc. It seems irresponsible and, ultimately, harmful to the safety and success of the event to just keep letting it grow without making any major changes to accommodate more people.

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  • n8m August 12, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    great pics jon

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  • Steve August 12, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Cap it? Why? Providence has no reason to limit the riders as long as the rider numbers continue to increase without having an increase in overhead. As long as we are willing to put up with the waits they won\’t change a thing.
    My only complaint is about the lycra-clad wannabe racers who were weaving in and out of other riders. I actually heard a guy talk about a paceline and maintaining a cadence. OMG, its a freakin\’ fun ride, no purse money or ORBA points!!
    On a lighter note, this was my 4 year-old son\’s first Bridge Pedal, and he (and his Dad) had a blast on the 8-Bridge ride on his tag-a-long.

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  • brettoo August 12, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    As much as I enjoyed my first ever bike views from the Marquam and Ross Island bridges, I feel ripped off because the sponsors\’ poor planning meant that those of us who arrived at the Fremont bridge after about 1120 (thanks to the massive bottlenecks earlier) didn\’t get to ride it, as it was about to close. Riding the Fremont was one of the main reasons I signed up in the first place, and I plan to demand a partial refund, because I showed up at the assigned time and place and didn\’t get to ride it.
    There\’s no excuse for that kind of poor planning after this many years. I never saw any free snacks or other freebies we were supposed to get, except for some chocolate milk.
    I loved the feelings of empowerment, solidarity, courtesy etc., not to mention some sweet views, but the sponsors\’ poor planning also means that I\’ll mostly remember this one for their incompetence resulting in disappointment for at least dozens and perhaps hundreds of riders who didn\’t get what they paid for.

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  • beth h August 12, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Jonathan — some really terriffic photos. Thanks for sharing.

    As for the bottlenecks — honestly, these first began to creep into the event several years ago and are a part of why I stopped participating. (The other part was that organizers no longer allowed shop mechanics to offer their services as rolling volunteers in exchange for admission to the event. When I have to pay 25 bucks to go for a bike ride in Portland, I\’ll ride somewhere else.)

    Frankly, capping attendance is going to be impossible on this one. It\’s just too popular now. Enforcing any sort of cap would be ridiculous to even try. I know at least ten people who found it quite easy to sneak into the ride at several points along the route (two actually saved their vests from previous years and with 10,000 other riders they blended right in!). The ride has simply gotten too big to avoid bottlenecks, and too big to cap effectively and realistically.

    I say let the bottlenecks continue for a couple more years. People who can\’t stand it will agitate for a second ride date; OR they\’ll opt out in favor of a less crowded bicycle experience.

    Bridge Pedal serves to inspire people to ride their bikes more. When they do that, they usually find other opportunities to ride that don\’t require as much standing around and don\’t cost so much. I see no problem with either approach.

    Bridge Pedal remains a great bike event and serves a good purpose. It\’s fine as it is.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 12, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    As a former Bridgepedal rider, I had a blast this year handing out swag and seeing all the funky bikes and costumes.

    A suggestion…perhaps set up a thru lane for bikes on the top of the Fremont Bridge so those that want to make up time and avoid the clustering crowds at the booths can do so without pushing folks – important for those trying to make up time to hit all 10 bridges (flats and crowd bottlenecks). (This could be placed next to the walking lane.)

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  • sheldon August 12, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    I agree with the sentiments of capping attendance at 15,000-16,000 and I really think the decision to do so rests with the City. After all they are the ones issuing the permits.

    It is great that this is such a popular event, but congestion isn\’t my real concern. A serious accident is inevitable (like the one where a 12-year old cut off a female rider resulting in a broken elbow and $10000s in medical bills).

    I didn\’t ride this year, but have taken my daughter in a burley the past couple of years. I love sharing in the experience with my daughter, but it has become so stressful dodging all those inexperienced riders (of all ages) who weave all over the place.

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  • Mark C August 12, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    We got caught up in the Ross Island wait and decided to turn around (along with several others) after 20 minutes or so and rode north to join the ride before crossing the Burnside Bridge. From there, it was ok, although we had to walk across the Steel Bridge.

    I am kind of leaning toward a cap as well, if there is somehow a way to enforce it. There were simply too many riders trying to get through too narrow spaces. If they don\’t cap it we\’ve probably participated (as a family) for the last time, although I might do the 10-bridge on my own and start real early.

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  • mmann August 12, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Been looking forward to this for weeks – one of those things i want to do every year and other things happen, so we made it work this time. I had my 6-year old daughter on the tag-a-long, my wife had our 20-month old in the Burley, my son rode, and we formed a team with our neighbor and 2 kids across the street. Registered start time for 6-bridge ride was 8:45, but took us until almost 9:15 just to cross the line, and when we turned the corner and saw that line for the Ross Island, we were ready to bag it. stuck it out, but that line was over 45 minutes. Smoother after that – saw three riders go down hard and stay down just past Burnside bridge (scary) and made the Fremont with 5 minutes to spare. Freebies? Food? Swag? Never saw any – everyone was packing up on the bridge as we topped out – they were even out of the Vancouver/Portland maps, for cripes sake. Yeah, it was great to see bikes to the horizon, but also that constant reminder that \”the bridge is closing, the cars are coming.\” My dream? No cars, all day long. start times extended. More lanes (we got squeezed to one lane several times.) And next year I want a donut.

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  • VR August 12, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Split it into two weekends. 1 weekend have the 8 and 10 bridge rides. The next weekend have the 6 bridge ride.

    Cap each event at 10,000 riders.

    That way you still get 20,000 riders total, yet things should flow SO much better, and the roads will be that much clearer that much sooner which should make ODOT and the City happy.

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  • SKiDmark August 12, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Could always shut down the bridges for a few more hours.

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  • a.O August 12, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    beth h, your comments make no sense. The bottlenecks caused you to stop riding the event, but it\’s fine as it is. Duh. *You\’re* no longer waiting in the huge lines. The goal is to create a good experience for people. Not everybody else cheats the CCC and BTA out of their hard-earned money like your friends. You people should go apologize to the volunteers. You\’re part of the problem.

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  • Darren August 12, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Why cap a great ride? Why not expand it? Instead of asking for less, ask for more.

    Close more bridges in both directions, open up 2 lanes for bikes, and load up some \”feeder loops\” to stagger bikes at bridges. Wouldn\’t you rather ride laps through some cool neighborhoods while a bottleneck clears than act like typical auto traffic and sit and stew?

    Why not have a secondary starting location someplace on the east side that dumps riders into the gaps of the current route?

    And how about some \”alternative\” routes that have more bands and more parties and more freebies along the way? Would you skip the Fremont for free breakfast?

    Rather than all of us ending at the overworked waterfront why not have several \”final destinations\” that lead us away from congestion. Maybe the Zoo or Kelly Point Park or somewhere along the Springwater corridor.

    I think we should get creative rather than just limiting the fun.

    Darren

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  • Jordan August 12, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    As in years past, I decided that I ride the bridges enough during the week on my commute. So I went out to the Tillamook State Forest and had wonderful mountain bike ride on Gales Creek and the new Sickr Lars trails with some friends and my wife. The trails are in great shape!

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  • Andrew Berkowitz August 12, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Great post, Darren. I love the idea of making the event into a Portland event instead of just a bridge event. Clearly there\’s just not enough space for all these people at one time, so why not think about a way to spread it out city-wide.

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  • joeb August 12, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I’m with SKiDmark and Darren. I’d hate to see this capped, like to see 35,000 bikes. How about the last wave taking off 5PM to finish by sunset?

    I was complaining about meeting downtown at 6:20 on a Sunday morning. But I guess that was the right thing to do. It was a great day! The view from the top of the St. Johns bridge was a solid stream of bikes going out of sight. It was a profound feeling… a profound day.

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  • bicycledave August 12, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Those are great ideas Darren. I agree wholeheartedly with more not less. Don\’t cap adapt. Darren for President in \’08.

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  • mmann August 12, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    I like the way this discussion is heading. Wouldn\’t it be great if the Bridgepedal morphed into a city-wide Ciclovia, with all the major arterials turned over to bikes and pedestrians? Lets try it once, bridges included, but spreading out as well. If it catches, it could become a monthly thing. Imagine MLK (or 82nd!) turned over to bikes and walkers for a whole Sunday.

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  • Javen August 12, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I left the Fremont and started heading for St John\’s right when Starbucks was closing up. Last year, I remember the pedal up St John\’s was somewhat dangerous and congested. This year, the ride up there was nearly empty. Surprisingly, they still had a lane roped off for cyclists. I arrived just before they started packing up the food. They had peaches and mini bagels. After I waited for my family and friends to catch up, they had completely closed down and were handing out bags containing 32 mini bagels.

    I think Portland shouldn\’t be so eager to get cars moving. Give the cyclists their time. It feels like the party gets crashed when they end it early like this–all of a sudden, the Bridge Pedal which is known for its friendliness becomes spread out. I don\’t want to finish the ride with only 3 people in sight. I want to finish the ride with 30 people in sight. It\’s a lot nicer that way.

    Back on the happy side, I\’m glad Portland didn\’t attempt the Springwater Corridor this year. That was a total mess. In time, they will learn the secret to minimizing delays. They really should have given at least 2 lanes on the Ross Island.

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  • Matt Picio August 12, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    This was my second Bridge Pedal (my first was 2 years ago, I was out of state last year).

    This year, the waits were no longer than my previous ride, except for the Ross Island bridge, which was completely ridiculous. I\’d rather see them close the entire bridge completely for Bridge Pedal, if that\’s possible (I leave that up to the traffic flow experts).

    I was not able to start on time, mostly my own fault. We got going shortly before 8am on the 10 bridge ride, and made it to Fremont about 5-10 minutes before the bridge closed. With the exception of the first rest stop, every other stop was being torn down or was already packed up when we got there. (the Ross Island traffic jam really hurt us there, with that 45 minute delay)

    We ended up leaving the ride at NW Thurman, and packing the ride vests, and riding up to St. Johns on our own, and then riding to Mocks Crest before turning east and riding away from the bridges altogether. So, I got to do 9 bridges (really, who needs Broadway, anyway?) ;-) and then have a nice pleasant ride back into SE Portland – about 45 miles total for the day.

    I don\’t plan to ride next year – I plan to be part of Team Sofa and promote car-free living to the one-time and seldom riders who may not be aware that car travel is merely the dominant paradigm, not necessarily the best one.

    I did have a lot of fun on parts of the ride, though, and the traffic jam on 8th? was the largest group of cyclists I\’d ever seen before in one spot – most impressive.

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  • Grant August 12, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    I agree that the best solution would be to make it last later into the day, hold it on 2 weekends, or close more lanes. But I don\’t see that happening. There were FEWER lanes open to bikes on the RI Bridge this year than last year; that\’s insanity.

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  • Aaron August 12, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    Sorry that you didn\’t get to see this Jonathan, but the couch-pedal was hugely successful. Mostly due to Steph and Sara\’s magnificent personalities. Dozens of people came by just because they knew us and of course that attracted more people. One of them had the idea of creating a tourist spot, so we took people\’s photos of them sitting on the couch. I went through all the postcards and we did great advertising for The Towards Carfree Conference. We even had local celebrities Janice McDonald and Sam Adams stop in to say hi.
    I\’ll post photos as soon as they arrive.
    Aaron

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  • anon August 12, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Gut feeling here… the Bridge Pedal can handle even more riders it just needs to be super organized.

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  • Cecil August 12, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Aw, just expand it to include the Longview and Astoria bridge crossings – that will cut down on the riff raff ;-)

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  • joeb August 12, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Hey Darren, how about the entire stretch of I405 for a feeder loop? The Banfield for an alternate start? BTW, what is car traffic like during Bridge Pedal. I\’ve never noticed.

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  • joeb August 12, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    There seemed to be a lot more volunteers this year. Must be veteran pedalers like Matt opting out of the ride while staying in the middle of it. Not a bad idea…

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  • Thomas August 12, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    I paid $37 for a six bridge ride and all I got was this lousey tee shirt.

    Ross Island sucked completely. We left the ride after waiting forever.

    The organizers were out of their league. Anyone paying attention over the last few years could have seen this coming.

    Expand the hours and access. Don\’t try to limit the participation.

    Thomas

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  • Anonymous August 12, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    To me, this was a big disappointment. I am a blue ride rider, with a six year old on a one-speed. So I know that I am part of the problem.

    We rode the Pedal two years ago for the first time and after walking the Ross island and the Marquam, vowed not the return. But my son convinced me to go again last year and it seemed like they learned a lot of lessons and things went well.

    But this year was another disaster. We started right at the earliest start time for the blue wave but still walked the Hawthorne, had a 45 min wait at the Ross Island (and we were lucky!).

    They screwed up the course and again merged the two waves on the Steele (another walk).

    And support was closing up on the Fremont even though thousands of riders were still on the course.

    I think with better management they can get a handle on this. This year, they were staggering the blue entries but the red wave was entering (and clogging) the Hawthorne unabated. This was bad planning.

    And they MUST figure out what they want to do with the RIsland. Going from five lanes of cyclists to one lane is just idiotic.

    Either close the R Island outright except for ONE buslane or take it off of the route.

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  • paul August 12, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    To me, this was a big disappointment. I am a blue ride rider, with a six year old on a one-speed. So I know that I am part of the problem.

    We rode the Pedal two years ago for the first time and after walking the Ross island and the Marquam, vowed not the return. But my son convinced me to go again last year and it seemed like they learned a lot of lessons and things went well.

    But this year was another disaster. We started right at the earliest start time for the blue wave but still walked the Hawthorne, had a 45 min wait at the Ross Island (and we were lucky!).

    They screwed up the course and again merged the two waves on the Steele (another walk).

    And support was closing up on the Fremont even though thousands of riders were still on the course.

    I think with better management they can get a handle on this. This year, they were staggering the blue entries but the red wave was entering (and clogging) the Hawthorne unabated. This was bad planning.

    And they MUST figure out what they want to do with the RIsland. Going from five lanes of cyclists to one lane is just idiotic.

    Either close the R Island outright except for ONE buslane or take it off of the route.

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  • olivia August 12, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Oh, so that\’s what the couch area was! I couldn\’t stop, but I sure was intrigued. I liked your asphalt poetry on the ride up the Fremont ramp.

    The highlight for me was meeting Killer Dave and getting a couple of free loaves of his bread! A real treat.

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  • Brian August 13, 2007 at 12:10 am

    This was my second ever BP and I took my 4 yr-old son along on a trailer bike.

    I signed up for the 6 bridge ride but had contingency plans to bail after 4. I think we could have done all 6– my son handled things really well and barely fussed during the lengthy wait before Ross Island. But time and events conspired against us and we crossed the Burnside just after the 11:30 \”cut-off\” time.

    We played leap-frog with the police \”sweep\” car and it bacame kind of a game for my son.

    Plus– I helped out three other PDX neighbors! Fixed two flats and tuned up the brakes on a third. At this point all the free tech support was busy packing up on the bridges so these folks were facing a nice walk back to home or car.

    One thing: I paid $12 for a shirt for my son. Bizarrely we got a 2001 edition shirt. I didn\’t notice this until we got home. My son doesn\’t care, obviously. I thought it a bit weird. i even like the design better than the 2007 graphics.

    Final analysis: My son had fun so the event was a success. Next time we\’ll go earlier.

    Being able to drift ALL THE WAY over into the passing lane on the freeway just before climbing up onto the Marquam?

    Priceless. Not a damn car anywhere in sight! Beautiful!

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  • Alan August 13, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Great ride – one of the best BPs ever for me and my daughter. We left the 8 bridge starting mark at 7:40, got caught up in the \”walking\” approach to Ross Is (but didn\’t walk even 5 minutes) and, even though there were some crowded sections, we never had to walk again (altho the approach to St Johns is steep enough to make walking tempting).

    The people were friendly. Really appreciated the pipers on top of the Fremont Bridge – they were great!

    I don\’t know if there are any riding stats to back this up, but it seemed to us that there were a LOT of 10-bridge riders and a LOT of 6-bridge riders, but not so many 8-bridge riders. The 8-bridge riders have to start early too (7:30 was the last printed starting time), so that may have helped thin out the crowds too.

    So, if you want to ditch the crowds next year, plan accordingly.

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  • Steven Kung August 13, 2007 at 12:59 am

    My teenage daughters and I worked our volunteer shift then joined the ride and experienced something quite magical.

    THOUSANDS of human beings exhibited tremendous patience and camaraderie despite the unexpected 1-hr-plus standing in congestion before the Ross Island Bridge.

    I also saw many car drivers flipping off the barricade volunteers on Front Street due to the 1-block auto traffic congestion at the Hawthorn Bridge on-ramp closure.

    To me this is evidence that holding handlebars instead of steering wheels miraculously brings out the goodness in people.

    I will continue to support the Bridge Pedal because I know things will improve, in the long run.

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  • Hubert August 13, 2007 at 7:16 am

    I did a Bridge Pedal of a different kind. 5 quaint, historic, beautiful covered bridges, from days gone by, plus miles of scenic farmland, a full day of riding with zero congestion, all at a minimal cost of $25. Covered Bridge Ride out of Albany. Don\’t spread too far tho, wouldn\’t want congestion.

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  • erikv August 13, 2007 at 7:29 am

    After participating for several years in a row, my wife, two kids and I had a horrible experience at the bridge pedal. Overcrowded, people crashing into my kid trailer, 30 minute porta-potty lines (try convincing YOUR two year old to wait 30 minutes to pee), and the fight to get over some of those bridges was horrible.

    Seriously, I could care less about a free 1oz Starbucks frapacino sample…I just wanted to ride my bike over the bridges with my family.

    This was a few years ago. I can only imagine the gridlock this year.

    Never, ever again.

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  • Cabbol August 13, 2007 at 7:48 am

    We should just join this event with a carfree day and close the city to cars. Other cities are doing it, I can\’t think of a better time then this. After the event instead of a mass exodus people can linger around all day and enjoy the carfree atmosphere.

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  • Murray August 13, 2007 at 8:03 am

    I\’m sorry, but this event sounds horrible. I would love to be up on the Fremont Bridge someday, but the price of getting up there is not worth it. I still don\’t fully understand why capping this event is unrealistic.

    I like the idea proposed in a previous post about spreading it over two weekends.

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  • Anonymous August 13, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I think there are easier things to do than limiting attendance! For example, the most anticipated bridges were saved until the very end of the longer rides. These were also the first bridges to reopen! What were they thinking?

    On top of that, staggering the starts so that the shorter rides started ahead of the longer rides at just the right time they all met up at once didn\’t help.

    Turn it around for the longer rides. They head out and cross the bridges that close first. Maybe it\’ll be a few more miles, but at least more than a few of the people who signed up for those rides will have the chance to actually participate in them. While they\’re out chasing down those bridges, the shorter rides can get a good start plugging away at the rest without the ten bridge guys desperately trying to hammer through the crowd to make up time. Different routes for different rides. Everyone gets to participate, and we still get the gridlock photo opportunities when everyone meets up towards the end of the ride.

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  • snapper August 13, 2007 at 8:28 am

    i think this event has the potential to be something like the Bay to Breakers of Portland. you would think that by the sheer number of people who show up at this ride, organizers would realize that portlanders really do take it seriously.

    this was my first time and despite all my delays (45 min before the ross island, forced to skip st. johns) i was just astounded with the mix of riders that were out there.

    if we are getting people out on their bikes that don\’t normally get on one, it seems like a small price to pay to open up one more lane on the ross island or have support a little longer on bridges. i mean come on!!! it doesn\’t make sense why you wouldn\’t considering the turn out!

    i think organizers should take pride in this event and try even harder to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. for one measly half day out of the year, can\’t this bike \”friendly\” city let the bikes really take over the town?

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  • Amy August 13, 2007 at 8:35 am

    I don\’t think a cap would do any good. We also had friends wearing previous year vests, and now that we were aware of the possibility, we saw hundreds if not thousands of people wearing old vests or no vests. (They could\’ve gotten old ones from the promoters.) Many people asked if the money goes to nonprofits or Providence; Providence doesn\’t seem to motivate people to be benevolent. What percentage goes to BTA?

    We started at 8 and ended up doing 8 – picked up the ride on the East side after Morrison, walked Hawthorne, spent an hour at the Ross Island approach, had to walk Steel Bridge, then were told at 11:03 a.m. that it was too late to go up Hwy 30 to St. Johns. Obviously others had no problem up there later so we should\’ve blown past the volunteer. No worries though, rode Broadway on the way home. Didn\’t stop for food, swag or water – no time after the logjams.

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  • Matt Picio August 13, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Steven (#43) is absolutely right – people displayed tremendous patience waiting to get onto the Ross Island bridge, and we all did \”the wave\” back and forth a few times (you can see it in 1 or 2 of Jonathan\’s photos).

    The logistics on this event are pretty complex, and there is no perfect way to route people. The volunteers do an amazing job overall, and in any event this size there are going to be major snafus.

    But Steven is totally right – it\’s amazing how 3,000 cyclists stuck in a traffic jam for 45 minutes can remain calm and relatively upbeat while car drivers inconvenienced for 5 minutes on a Sunday can get so irate and belligerent.

    Must be all the endorphins we generate while riding, or something.

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  • Amy August 13, 2007 at 8:40 am

    And kudos to anonymous above. I agree – lay out the 10 bridge route so we do Sellwood and then St. Johns and then finish in the middle. I also have to compliment the organizers on the volunteers this year – they were everywhere and there was no confusion on the route.

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  • Michael Comfort August 13, 2007 at 9:05 am

    I hope they fix the route AND limit the number of riders.

    This year was my 4th BP, and I brought 2 of my kids.

    We had a 9:00 start time. The long (over an hour of walking/standing) backup to the Ross Island Bridge caused:

    1. No Rest Area!

    Between the R. I. Bridge and where we were diverted there were only a few scattered outhouses, each with LONG LINES (because of the backup).

    No snacks and drinks

    2. No Fremont Bridge!

    I know they wont refund my $75, but want them to know this year\’s ride was NOT WORTH IT!

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  • Kevin Devolin August 13, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I love this event but my patience was tested this time – too much hanging about in bikejams. Traffic management on the RI was the main problem. One lane and a sidewalk is just not enough for this volume. Eventually they increased it to two lanes but only when it became clear that many riders would not make the 11.30 cut-off at the Fremont. It\’s a charity event staffed with volunteers so I dont want to be too critical but the planning needs to be improved or the numbers limited.

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  • VR August 13, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Those of you advocating for longer closes of more bridges, you should just give up hope.

    It is extremely difficult to close an interstate for ANY reason. And I am sure all of those people that were sitting in stop and go traffic on I5 southbound at 9am on a Sunday would agree.

    While I agree with making it more of a citywide event, and stretching out the riders so they don\’t bunch up – I just want people to be realistic and understand that getting TWO interstate bridges for half a day is pretty impressive. We won\’t have much luck getting them for more than that.

    Why is capping the event at 20,000 people spread over two days unreasonable?

    Everything has limits. Events at venues get \”capped\” and the popular ones sell out. Concerts, Stage shows, Movies, you name it. Restaurants fill up. Schools have waiting lists. It is just the way it is.

    There is a little thing called \”reality\” that dictates how many people can perform a certain activity within a given space and time.

    I would love to see it be a citywide car free day. But if you had a choice of no bridge pedal at all, or capping it (20k is a LOT of people) – which would you prefer?

    While the route can be better planned to avoid logjams, and there could be more entertainment along the route – like the Night Ride – I am still all for capping the event at a reasonable number of riders.

    Also, separating it into two days and keeping the longer routes with more serious riders separated from the shorter more family filled routes would help a lot as well.

    But you know what else might be cool? A Night bridge pedal, in the middle of the night. Traffic volumes are low and views spectacular!

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  • West Cougar August 13, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Geez, I haven\’t seen so much belly-aching by so many sheeople in a long, long time. Just because Dick Bauman [the event organizer] is in over his head doesn\’t mean you have to play along.

    If you are reading this blog, you should have known this was coming. So do what Dick can\’t bother with: start in the middle. Ride the Freemont and Marquam first if those are most important to you. Skip the Ross Island, it\’s not worth the effort unless you like crowd commeradarie. Skip the Hawthorne, you can ride it any day of the week. Let the kids pee against some building or tree. Bums do it all the time, an extra 2 or 3 y.o. ain\’t going to make a difference.

    It sucks Bridge Pedal isn\’t an all-day affair. I don\’t know who to blame, but neither am I going to let it ruin my good time. The operative model for Bridge Pedal is a one-morning-only ciclovista for Portland bridges so treat it as such. Shake out of Dick Bauman\’s paradigm and have a good time.

    Keep the rubber side down. And just so you know, the Freemont is open every Sunday morning get there before 9:00 and take the Ivy St on-ramp.

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  • Kim August 13, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Despite getting cut off before the Freemont Bridge, long waits to use the very limited port-a-potties, and the poor planning, I had a fantastic time! This was my first attempt at completing the 10-bridge ride. I agree that capping the ride wouldn\’t solve the problem. Expanding the time would be better solution, enabling everyone to get over the bridges. Just a few more hours would have relieved many frustrations. In the future I will be sure to start about an hour earlier for the 10-bridge ride.

    I was sad to hear Paul state in post 39, \”I am a blue ride rider, with a six year old on a one-speed. So I know that I am part of the problem.\” No way Paul, it was great to see so many kids on the ride! The problem is poor planning for the diverse skill level of the riders. Kids need a bit more space and should be given just as much respect and room for riding as us older kids. I takes a lot of guts to do that ride on a 16\” single speed! It would be nice to see a family lane and a faster lane set up and regulated rather than suggested.

    Just as an aside, for everyone who did not pay to ride, please consider the additional strain you put on the event and the loss of funding that goes to awesome organizations like the BTA. Signing up with a team is only $20, a small price to pay for advocates who make Portland a great cycling community.

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  • Dan August 13, 2007 at 9:55 am

    One reason for troubles on the Hawthorne was that between about 9:10 and 9:40 a.m., a woman with a few loose spokes appointed herself traffic marshal where the bikers coming from SW Naito (10-bridge riders) and SW Madison (6-bridge riders) were merging onto the bridge, and directed people to walk their bikes across the span. Although she meant well — she said she\’d jumped in after witnessing an accident at the merge while biking westbound on the other side — it was completely the wrong call and caused a significant backup. It took a while for a course supervisor noticed what was happening (there were no volunteers posted at that spot), and only after she tactfully convinced the woman to cease and desist did traffic begin to move again.

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  • nick August 13, 2007 at 9:59 am

    Try to look at it from the perspective of a child:

    Wait 30+ minutes in a line.
    Bike for 15 minutes.
    Wait 60 minutes in a line.

    And all BEFORE the second bridge of a six-bridge ride.

    Now if that isn\’t the recipe for crankiness, you need to get back in touch with your inner child.

    Why even have start times past 8:30 if the logistics of the ride make it impossible to finish?

    Bad, bad planning. We won\’t be back any time soon. I\’ll be finding other rides to do with my family, which is too bad. It\’s been fun in the past.

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  • Spencer August 13, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Totally Awsome!!

    I had a great time and this is Portland at it\’s best.

    Left early and only had a few minute wait at the Ross Island. This could be satisfied by 2 lanes. More importantly would be a fast/thru and slow lane. This is important for those walking their bikes and less experienced.

    Next year they should do the 13 bridge loop/century and include the Savies Island, I5 and 205 to Marine Drive. Did I miss anything?

    See you all next year

    Yeah

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  • nick August 13, 2007 at 10:06 am

    West Cougar makes a good point. Dropping in at the Marquam is the thing to do. That would avoid most of the pain.

    What if the bridges were simply open to bike traffic until noon or 1? You decide which ones you want to ride, and in what order.

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  • David August 13, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Bicycling really must make you patient, judging by large number of positive comments. What a disaster the whole event was! Every part of the ride we experienced showed incompetence on the part of the organizers.

    1) Huge backups can EASILY be solved by spreading out the start times and ENFORCING the start times (no showy on timey – no ridey) and planning the mergers of the different rides.

    2) Every porta-potty had 10-20 people waiting. Half a million dollars in fees and they can\’t supply enough outhouses?? \”oh-gee, they are doin the best they can\” WTF? Supporters must be smoking weed. I can see supporting the event, but the organinzers MUST BE FIRED. And the Oregonian is a presenter – the rag had no mention of any problems.

    3) No water anywhere. No water? Half a million in fees and no water? WTF? Instead, we get milk at the finish line? WTF?

    4) The volunteers who give directions need megaphones. Or, novel idea, make signs! Most the time it does not matter, but sometimes it does, and you can\’t expect someone to shout audibly continuously for 2 hours. Their already weak voices get tired and then they start saying things less frequently and you either can\’t hear it or they don\’t even say it as you are passing. Novel idea – make signs? WTF?

    5) As has been mentioned, there was no entertainment for the large percentage of the riders. We started at 8:30 and we got to see everything close up at the finish line and the Fremont bridge.

    6) Basic instructions like \”if you have to stop, move off the pathway\” were not given. WTF?

    7) Can you stop people from joining who have not paid their fee? It is a public roadway right? Maybe you can keep them from getting the services though. My daughter and I paid our fee, and wouldn\’t consider doing otherwise, but I don\’t see how you can stop someone from joining in. Maybe the city parade rules allow exclusion. Interesting question.

    8) COUNTLESS other little problems, like the 13 year old girl who takes the free photos without saying a word like \”cheese\” and you are looking at your shoes. Not her fault, she\’s a child – who gave her a camera?

    In summary, it is a great event, but the *moderated* (or perhaps *moderated*) who put this on should not be given a break.

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  • West Cougar August 13, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Nick,

    You\’re almost there. ;-) The bridges *ARE* open to bike traffic until 11:30. You *CAN* decide which ones and in what order.

    It is a free country my friends time to start living your freedom.

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  • a.O August 13, 2007 at 10:16 am

    @ Dan, #58: \”One reason for troubles on the Hawthorne was that between about 9:10 and 9:40 a.m., a woman with a few loose spokes appointed herself traffic marshal where the bikers coming from SW Naito (10-bridge riders) and SW Madison (6-bridge riders) were merging onto the [Hawthorne] bridge, and directed people to walk their bikes across the span. Although she meant well … it … caused a significant backup. It took a while for a course supervisor noticed what was happening (there were no volunteers posted at that spot), and only after she tactfully convinced the woman to cease and desist did traffic begin to move again.\”

    I watched this whole thing. I pulled off at that spot, determined not to walk the Hawthorne and to wait until it was ride-able again. I actually figured out that her walk commands to all approaching riders were slowing everything about 10 minutes after I arrived. As soon as I found a volunteer, I explained the situation and we politely asked the lady leave. She did indeed mean well, but she was equally crazy. I point this out because it illustrates how easily this event can get derailed (pun intended) by people.

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  • John R August 13, 2007 at 10:20 am

    My first BP was years ago and I vowed not to do another. But this year, we brought our kids (on the back of triple and trailer bike) and had a really good time. We were patient and did the 6-bridge route. With our short route, some of the comments and frustrations described by others did not apply to us. To me, the only real problem was the Ross Island Bridge. There was no way to squeeze that many cyclists into one lane. As a traffic engineer, I am confident that the motor vehicle volumes did not warrant two eastbound and one westbound lane – one each way would have been sufficient with two lanes for bikes westbound. Had this RI bottleneck not existed, I think lots of the other problems (cyclists unable to finsh all bridges, etc.) would not have surfaced.

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  • Kristen August 13, 2007 at 10:55 am

    My group of 4 expanded to a team of 6 this year, riders of differing levels of experience.

    We did the 8 bridge ride; met at 7 at the Fountain, got our vests, and started the ride at 7:30 by meeting the rest of our crew at the fountain and joining the group that was starting. I know, we sort of cut in line. But we started at the time we signed up for…

    We only had to walk about 200 feet and wait about 5-10 minutes at the Ross Island bridge. No problems. We didn\’t have to walk any other bridges.

    We kept together fairly well, and even were able to get through the crowd on top of the Marquam to take our own pics just past the half-way point of that bridge. This year, no one got stuck in a crowd of stopped people trying to get free food; the organizers put the tents on only one side of the bridge, which helped keep things moving.

    I didn\’t like the railroad track crossings; back and forth at odd angles, although I appreciated the rugs to ride over.

    We made it to the Fremont with no problems; the pipers were great! We got our free photos taken, which was cool. Also got free coffee, which was very nice.

    We flew down off the Fremont and made our way to highway 30, where we developed an interesting paceline. Picked up a few friends to join in, and everyone was really cool about it.

    The St John\’s bridge hill is always the killer one; it seemed like most people were stuck in their own personal \”cave of pain\” and didn\’t care where on the road they were biking… I could wish that slower riders keep right, but if wishes were bikes, everyone\’d be riding, right?

    The ride along the ridge-top after that was pretty smooth and fun; dropping back down to the river was fun and fast. I think my top speed for the day was 34mph or so.

    We finished with a couple hundred other people and had fudg-scicles and orange creme pops. Headed over to the Bite for beer and food.

    My one gripe: the \”secure\” bike parking wasn\’t. The last couple of years, the BTA staffed the bike parking nearest the Salmon street springs fountain, so we felt pretty good about locking our bikes to the temporary barricades they had set up. This year, no staff. Just a roped-off area with the traffic barricades set up to lock bikes to. Not many people utilized this area. A lot more people brought their bikes into the Bite, which made for tough maneuvering when it got crowded. Oh well.

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  • John August 13, 2007 at 11:05 am

    I have mixed feelings about this years Bridge Pedal. Basically I paid to ride 10 bridges and only got to ride 8. I also didn\’t get to enjoy the ride as much as I blew past most of the rest stops as I was trying to make the cutoff for the St. Johns bridge. My feeling is that once the organizers saw that major backups were occuring the cutoff\’s should have been extended. This year was the worst yet for conjestion. I called the 2005 BP the bridge walk and I still made it to the St. Johns.
    Without going into details (since previous posters already have):
    I don\’t think the numbers of riders should be limited. The BP shows how popular the bicycle is in Portland.
    The hours the course is open should be extended to accomodate more riders.
    It\’s great to see all the parents out there with their kids, and all the slower people on their bikes. Getting out there and enjoying the ride is what this is about. I enjoy riding fast as much as the next person, but the Bridge Pedal is not the place for speed, too many kids riding unpredictably.
    Don\’t know if I\’ll do the BP again, if I do I\’ll do as others did and skip the bridges with the backups. Part of not enjoying this years ride as much was partly my fault. I made the decision to try and make the cutoff and skip stopping on the bridges and reststops. Maybe we need a 6 or 8 bridge long ride that includes the Sellwood, Markum, Fremont, and St Johns that most of the 10 bridge riders choose the 10 bridge option for and skips some of the other to allievate some of the backups instead of the current 10 bridge option.

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  • Joel August 13, 2007 at 11:05 am

    My first BP and it was good, regardless of the early frustrations. Suggestions:

    2 lanes on the RI bridge or eliminate it from the route. The headache wasn\’t worth the bridge. There\’s no reason to have a 30-60 minute crawl at the beginning of a fun ride like this.

    Better break points along the route. Move bathroom spots OFF the route, post signs a couple blocks ahead warning of upcoming rest stops, staff volunteers to keep riders who are stopping out of the path of the majority that aren\’t. This is a simple concept, but I ran into rest stop after rest stop where the congestion and confusion caused numerous near misses.

    Further, establish clear bike lanes for the fun areas at the top of the Marquam and Fremont bridges and staff accordingly. I didn\’t want any Starbucks coffee but I had to dodge those that did.

    Finally, KEEP THE BRIDGE PEDAL OPEN TO ALL. It\’s a great concept and just because there are some inconveniences of size and poor planning by organizers, it doesn\’t mean that this great event should be capped.

    How often do bikers get to take over the entire transportation system of the city? If you spotted traffic on I5 from any of the bridges during the ride, you know what I mean. Very cool concept and it should be open to everyone.

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  • sue August 13, 2007 at 11:52 am

    I was sadly disappointed in the ride this year. I talked it up to an out-of-state friend and convinced him to go along. Even though we started the 10 bridge ride at the assigned time, we didn\’t get past the Freemont. I was so disappointed to not get to show off the view from the St. John\’s. Also, what was up with the crazy check in line? Why would Providence think they could check in thousands of riders with only two computers? They should make a really big deal on the registration site of picking up bibs the day before and of bringing a printed receipt to check-in. The organization on the event seems to be getting worse, not better, each year. Guess I need to step up and volunteer to make it better (more lanes and longer time to ride it).

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  • stanislaw August 13, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    just wondering, is it the organizers who decide the cutoff times and the number of lanes, or is there outside pressure? from what I understand, the RI was 2 lanes last year but one this year? who lobbied for that? who lobbied for the 11:00 cutoff time?

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  • Joel August 13, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    This was my first BP. I was stoked when I completed the eight-bridge ride a little after 9AM. The trick is an early departure. I am convinced that this ride could start even earlier for those who wish to ride at a good speed. Alot of the negative comments arise from a back-up at RI and people having to walk across bridges. I am a first year rookie on this, but understood that an early departure was the ticket to a fast paced ride with little or no walking. So
    props to the organizers for providing the early start and A HUGE THANKS to the VOLUNTEERS. Their smiling faces are a welcome sight especially after the climb to the St. Johns\’s bridge.

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  • a August 13, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    I hope they figure out a way to include everyone in the ride in future events. It\’s not fair to show up on time and miss the booths, bands and fun…after waiting patiently at several gridlocks. And then to get turned away from the Freemont…the highlight of the whole day.

    So we go into The Bite and try to recoup the day…to find ourselves seemingly at church with the main stage going to a preacher band! WTF!!! How about something inclusive and not offensive or blatant forced religion at a popular public event.

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  • 2ndaveflyer August 13, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Looks like we\’re headed for 20,000 reponses here, so I\’ll add my bit.

    What a wonderful day. Its so fun to be out with the full spectrum of the Portland bicycling community. I don\’t understand many of these comments. My wife and I started the 10 bridge at 7:45. We enjoyed the view on all the bridges, talked with other riders, listened to the jazz combo on the Marquam, stopped for coffee and juice on the Fremont, ate bananas, nectarines, bagels, and bottled water after the St. Johns, and completed the ride around 10:30. I thought the level of organization was fantastic.

    I do appreciate that other riders experiences could be vastly different depending on their chosen ride and start time. They should forward concrete suggestions to the organizers.

    When I started running the Bay to Breakers in San Francisco there were less than 500 runners. Today the race has between 75,000 and 100,000 participants. The Bridge Pedal can learn the organization of this great event. Don\’t even think of capping participation or limiting access. Instead expand the hours, increase the options, and figure out how to make this fun for everyone. Organizing this event is not an easy task; give the people some slack. If you can figure out a way to help or offer specific constructive ideas let loose. If you want to whine you\’re just going to make yourself and those who have to listen to you feel bad.

    See you next year. Thanks for the circus!

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  • GLV August 13, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    # 58 said: \”And just so you know, the Freemont (sic) is open every Sunday morning get there before 9:00 and take the Ivy St on-ramp.\”

    UNTRUE! Please do not listen to this insane person or you will die!

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  • stacia August 13, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    wanted to add my two cents–yesterday was my first bridge pedal and i had a GREAT time. however, i wiped out on the railroad tracks right before the finish and banged myself up pretty bad. i got back on my bike and rode one-armed through the finish, then tried to find the first aid station to get some ice and maybe a sling. it was NOWHERE to be found! we asked at least half a dozen volunteers, all of whom pointed vaguely or said \”you know, i don\’t know…\” finally we asked a cop who told us it was back a block or two at naito and pine–nope, nothing there, and volunteers in the area knew nothing either. eventually the cop called an EMT for me so i could get a freakin\’ ice pack and a triangle bandage. they were very nice about it, but come on–the title sponsor is a hospital! and yet no first aid to be found.

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  • Angela August 13, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    What about making the start line the RI bridge? There\’s always a bottleneck start, so just use that as an advantage. And there definitely needs to be more signage, both directional and informational. All in all it really is a great event to be a part of and Portland should be proud.

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  • Fred August 13, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I took my 11 year old daughter this year for the 6 bridge ride. I consider her a fair rider for her age since we live in SW PDX and she is forced to ride hills every where we go. The fun part was watching her out ride boys who were older than her and adults up the bridge approaches. She had a good time so I count the outing as a success from that perspective.

    We also deemed the event the \”Bridge Walk\” while waiting at RI, but had fun doing the wave.

    The negatives were: waiting 45 minutes at RI; walked the Hawthorne; almost missed the Fremont; missed all of the entertainment, food, freebees, etc; no water stops (good thing we wore hyd packs); and impossible lines at the loo.

    They should do a fast paced 10 bridge Saturday or earlier Sunday (5:30 or 6:00 am) and a family ride for the 6 and 8 bridges on Sunday at 7:30 to 8:0) am to fit it all in.

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  • Brad August 13, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Michael #53

    Rest stops and snack stops are partly reason for so much of the bottlenecks and danger associated with this ride. I have no issues with photo takers on the Marquam and Fremont spans but what sense does it make to have food stops in the most congested areas of the course? Yessiree! Nothing like getting into a good rhythm in that pack only to see 50 riders in front of you grab both brakes hard without warning because free doughnuts are available.

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  • paul August 13, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Kim,

    The reason I said \”part of the problem\” is that I realize that kids and bike trailers slow things down a lot, especially on the steeper entrances (RI, Marquam, Fremont).

    My point is def. not to say get my kids out of there, but that the organizers MUST figure out a way to separate the waves.

    The KEY issue, in my opinion, was the merging of the 6 and 10 waves over the Hawthorne (and the aforementioned nutty lady). That created the RI backup. Somehow, the timing was way, way off when they planned this out.

    I talked about this a lot with my wife and with friends, and I think the BP organizers have to do a major rethinking.

    I\’ve come to believe that this should be part of a \”Bike Celebration\” Day–a day long event–in Portland. The BP should be an all day affair and the \”blue\” wave (read SLOW) riders should start MUCH later, like 10 am, and completely separate from the longer rides.

    How to handle the I5 bridges? Easy–take them out of the equation for the 6 bridge riders OR make the Marquam the FIRST bridge for the \”5\” bridge ride. THus, when the \”5\” bridgers are entering the Marquam, the last of the 10 bridge riders will be finishing.

    Then leave the Hawthorne, Burnside, Steele, and Broadway open to cyclists ONLY all day.

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  • mtmann August 13, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    to add to my earlier post (#19). I\’ll be back next year – the positive far outweighed the negative. What I learned from experience and others\’ comments: we signed up for 6-bridge and 8:45 start time because of little kids and coordination of getting everyone out the door, but next year we\’re starting earlier (even if it means pre-dawn wake-up) and doing the 8-Bridge ride. No cap, please. I think coordination is bigger issue than number of riders.

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  • bearhat August 13, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    i started the 10 bridge ride at 7am and we didn\’t wait with the crowd. we started the ride at the beginning of the Morrison when people started the ride. the only bottle neck i encountered was the Ross island but it was for about 10 minutes walking and then was pretty much a breeze from there. i recommend going early to catch the faster crowd or they just need to cap the ride in general. i had a good experience over all.

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  • amy r. August 13, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    you all have some good suggestions, maybe you should call Providence BridgePedal and tell them? Their phone number is on their website – 503-281-9198

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  • tomtomt August 13, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    My bridge ride was wonderful. All 68 miles and 1900 feet of elevation gain. All I got to ride across was 4 bridges and they were all covered. Their names are Gilkey, Shimanek, Larwood, and Hoffman Bridges. If I wanted to ride an extra 17 miles and have another 700 feet to climb I could have ridden across Hannah Bridge. Then of course these bridges are 70 miles south of Portland in Linn Co. I\’ve ridden BP twice back in the early days and I swear NEVER AGAIN!!!

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  • hanmade August 13, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    Allright, its obvious, bad planning. Let\’s hope \’they\’ read all of these messages and take heed. I enjoyed it, even with all its frustrations. Why? Beacuse it was my friend\’s first such event , and he was amazed at all of the other fellow bikers. He is even talking about riding to work 2 days a week. That\’s what it is all about. Converting the masses to a better way….

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  • marc August 13, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    the organization or organizers need to be changed in a major way. it\’s very simple to see that the issues are getting worse and not better.

    all of you who think you can keep the bridges open longer are about as realistic as the rocket scientist who said one lane on the ross island was a good idea. you MIGHT get an additional hour but that\’s it.

    1) ASSIGN start times – it may not be enforceable but if even half the people show up at their times it would help tremendously.

    2) send the 10 bridge people to st johns first – the long distance will spread the different levels of rider out and get them away from the 6 and 8 bridge riders.

    3) equip key volunteers with megaphones and mobile phones or 2 way radios. most people are too bashful to shout loud enough for the job. also reports from the course can help solve problems before they become disasters. makre ure you have key areas staffed (west end of the hawthorne)

    4) do NOT limit the number of riders. there are plenty of roads to handle the riders.

    5) dump the current organizers – they are so obviously in over their head it\’s painful to watch.

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  • reva August 13, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    I was a first-time, 6-bridge participant. I rode from home on the Springwater Corridor, which meant 14 miles round-trip in addition to the Bridge Pedal itself, so I planned to join the hordes on Water St., just over the Hawthorne on the east side. I figured I\’d already done the Three Bridges just short of Sellwood, so even if I skipped the Hawthorne I\’d still be two bridges ahead of the game, ha. But I got carried away and decided at the last minute to start at the Offishul Starting Line. I probably should\’ve stuck with my initial plan, which might have avoided the long wait at the Ross Island approach, not to mention the initial trudge across the Hawthorne. STILL, it was worth it. I got the impression that the one-lane restriction on the RI caught the organizers by surprise. Whatever. After that bottleneck, it was fairly smooth sailing, and I had a helluva good day. Yeah, I could see making this a more free-form event, day-long, with several suggested itineraries for doing however many bridges in whatever order. Annoying as it sometimes was to slow down/navigate among them, I\’d hate to see the kids and families segregated into a separate event. But I second the earlier recommendation to keep a lane open so those who want to bypass the carnival on the Marquam and Fremont can do so. This must be a logistical nightmare to pull off, and I think the organizers did great, considering, and I thank them for their efforts.

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  • Scott Ogren August 14, 2007 at 9:38 am

    This was my seventh and last time participating in the Bridge Pedal. My wife and I (alond with our 4 year old son) expected crowds and to wait a little, but that was way beyond what was reasonable. After waiting for about 30 mintes to start (that is normal and expected), we waited several minutes just to be able to walk over the Hawthorne Bridge.

    We then had a quick 5 minute ride and then we waited for just over an hour to walk over about half of the Ross Island Bridge. When we finally got to ride on the Ross Island Bridge, it was so crowded that it was dangerous.

    With the Hawthorne and Ross Island Bridges taking so long we didn\’t spend much time on the Marquam so we could try and make it to the Freemont (it was getting close to 11:00 by this point…and we started waiting in line to start at about 8:20). Just after the Marquam Bridge we had to wait for a train to go by very slowly, so that put us too late to do the Fremont Bridge.

    After the Burnside Bridge, we skipped out on the last part of the 6 bridge ride and had a sub-par experience at the Bite. It was just an all-around bad experience, which is very disapointing because I have always enjoyed myself doing the Bridge Pedal, but this was such a bad experience that I will no longer be participating in it.

    It seems as though one of two things need to happen to keep this event running smoothly: either limit the number of people who can participate or extend the time of the event until mid or late afternoon. Extendeing the event to continue later in the day would be my choice. Those of us with kids wouldn\’t have to get them up so early – we could start later (like 10:00 or 11:00 am) and the longer route riders could be finished before the shorter route riders even start.

    One observation: Merging the 10 bridge and 6 bridge riders at the entrance to the Hawthorne Bridge was a huge mistake. That was the source of basically all of the problems experienced by thousands.

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  • J-On-Bike August 14, 2007 at 10:27 am

    I rode this once a few years ago and the crowds were enough to stop me from joining again.

    Is there a REASON why there has to be a single start-point?

    Why can\’t the course be just opened up to all riders (heading in the same direction) with a few east-side starting points and a few west-side starting points.

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  • Tim August 14, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    I\’m guilty of not reading the 88 (right now) comments above mine, but I can only hope that I\’m repeating a sentiment that someone else has already expressed (perhaps more eloquently).

    I think one of the main problems is that the Bridge Pedal is enormously popular not only with serious and/or regular riders, but also with casual riders, families, and groups … and not meaning to generalize, it seems that these latter categories of riders simply aren\’t familiar with the system of road etiquette that more experienced riders take for granted.

    For example, something as simple as staying to the right side of the riding lane so that faster riders may safely pass on the left seemed to be a concept foreign to many of the cyclists participating, and I found myself frustrated by unnecessary congestion and safety hazards caused by this.

    Also, I\’m not sure why it apparently has not occurred to cyclists and organizers, especially on, say, the Marquam and Fremont bridges and other places featuring photo opps and vendor tents, to leave a clear, demarcated lane for through traffic. Both rides I\’ve done, I saw many, many people simply stop in their path without regard to whether they created an obstacle for the hundreds of riders immediately following.

    The solution, of course, is not to install some kind of click-through \”rules of the road\” literature in the online registration procedure or do something similar with in-person registration. Rather, I think it would be a good idea to distill some of these rules into short sound bites that can be bullhorned to the groups of riders waiting to start the course, and perhaps even repeated in writing on signs held by volunteers at key places on the various routes.

    Sure this isn\’t a cure-all, because some of the congestion is caused by too many riders being in the same place at the same time. However, it seems to me to be an easy solution that would likely reduce a lot of the congestion and make for a safe ride for everyone.

    Tim

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  • hanmade August 14, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    \”For example, something as simple as staying to the right side of the riding lane so that faster riders may safely pass on the left seemed to be a concept foreign to many of the cyclists participating…\”
    I was amazaed, just starting down off the Marqum bridge, the volunteer holding up signs indicating fast riders to the right and slow riders to the left. Are volunteers skreened for bike etiquette knowledge? They should be..

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  • J-rod August 14, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    A large issue, or better put, concern for me, aside from missing out on the Fremont and St. Johns bridges due to large bottlenecks, was, as previously mentioned, inexperienced riders. I am all for family involvement, and getting kids out on bikes and what not. We all know kids these days don\’t get enough exercise. But the problem is, and it\’s highlighted in a ride of this length and magnitude, is they simply can\’t keep up. There were so many kids that were probably too small to be riding alone, bobbing and weaving, and stopping in the middle of the lanes trying to keep their balance, and the parents having to stop or slow way down in the middle of traffic so junior could catch up. I saw one young\’un riding with training wheels! C\’mon. As cute as it may be, it\’s a little unreasonable. Charriots and tag-a-longs are on thing, and don\’t cause nearly the problems, because they keep pace and keep line with mom and pop, and I think that\’s great. It\’s a great way to keep the family involved, without causing safety and traffic problems. As much as I hate to say it, maybe they should consider an age cap on how young a rider can be to ride their own bike, or split the ride up, or split start times (I think they may have done this in the past). One start for the more \”serious\” riders, and one for the families.

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  • D August 15, 2007 at 7:14 am

    I did not mind the wait that much. It was nice to be held back for awhile. It made me take a closer look at the people who rode (& waited) and why. I would like to see 38000 ride next year. This year was a huge success (regardless), thanks to all who helped organize. The downhills were great, the wave was fun too. It should have rained.

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  • Brad August 15, 2007 at 8:37 am

    Amen J-Rod! My one and only BP experience was fraught with situations like those you describe, a minor crash involving a couple three feet in front of me pulling both brakes hard and dismounting on the climb up the Fremont because of…A FREE DIGITAL PICTURE!!! and, the most potentially lethal danger of all, letting gravity and 23cm tires do their thing going down the Fremont only to have a family with two mini bikes, two MTBs and a Burley trailer suddenly slalom across my line without warning as I hit 35 MPH. (The road was completely frikkin\’ open too.) Thankfully I missed the Burley by inches and kept the skin on my right side.

    Never again!

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  • Joan August 20, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Just to clear this up. I have a relative who works for Providence and I would like to share that Providence is a SPONSOR–they put up money for the event–they don\’t make money off of it and they surely don\’t plan it.

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  • Meg August 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    There may not have been many reported accidents but there were a lot of falls that could have been avoided. Having the ride merge onto a sidewalk to get up to the burnside was afalls idea. I witnessed a few falls at that point. The 8b group shouldn’t join up with the 10b group on a bridge. So much congestion was created. Trying to cross the Ross island wasn’t fun either. I beat the big bottleneck but almost crashed several times. Parents were stopping short to find kids. Kids were weaving to find their parents. Kids were weaving on the downside of the marquam too and getting dangerously close to some fast riders which made me nervous. A lot of the issues have to do with rider etiquette but the route planning made things so much worse.
    Maybe there should be a family ride for young children that starts later than the other groups. Got some friends to do this for the first time and they asked me several times if I had to walk my bike across bridges in previous rides. The answer was no.
    The first food stop was located in a parking lot- excellent idea since that didn’t cause a bottleneck. The food stop before the fremont on the side of the road caused bottlenecks and almost accidents. Water and food should be off To the side in a parking lot. Would have been nice to get some water before the st. John portion of ride. Not sure I’ll ever do this again. Supposed to be relaxing and fun and it turned into stress from crowds and rushing to finish.

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  • Meg August 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Meant to say ‘ having the ride merge onto a sidewalk was a bad idea.’ I think better routes have started with the ten group on the marquam first and then out to the bridges farther away. Seemed to instantly spread people out. Faster people could get ahead and stay ahead of kids. Awesome volunteers though!!! Great attitudes :)

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