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Arrest made in serious injury collision on St. Johns Bridge - UPDATED

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 10th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

St. Johns Bridge, Portland OR
A sign on the
St. Johns Bridge.
(Photos © J. Maus)

UPDATED, at 9:55am on 2/11

Just before 6:30 pm tonight, Portland Police officers responded to a collision on the St. Johns Bridge.

According to their report, a 23-year-old man was riding his bike and a 58-year-old man driving a small pick were involved in a collision. Both vehicles were headed westbound when the collision occurred.

The man on the bike sustained "traumatic injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening." The man driving the pick-up remained at the scene. So far, the PPB have not released any other details. (*See updates below)

UPDATE, 2/11 9:55 am: Portland Police have made an arrest and released more details...

The pick-up truck driver, Stephen Varney Schwartz has been arrested for running into the back of James Fallon-Cote, a North Portland resident. Fallon-Cote was riding in front of Schwartz prior to the collision.

Schwartz was charged with DUII (Alcohol), Reckless Driving, Assault in the Third Degree, and Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree.


Below is background (and a bit of editorializing) on the St. Johns Bridge:

St. Johns Bridge, Portland OR
Not much room at all.

For those of you that are new to town, or weren't reading this site back in 2005, below is some background on the St. Johns Bridge bike access:

Back in 2005, the St. Johns Bridge was rehabbed by ODOT and there was a study to determine the lane configuration on the bridge. Despite the report showing that one standard vehicle lane in each direction, plus a bicycle only lane would not result in congestion, ODOT decided to not put any dedicated space for bicycles on the bridge. It was a controversial move. The BTA was outraged, writing in an op-ed that "Under pressure from special interests, ODOT simply ignored the facts at hand." Unfortunately, despite their outrage, they did not pursue a lawsuit that could have forced ODOT to allow bicycle access on the bridge.

Despite ODOT's past attempts to gloss over the issue, the bridge stands as a huge missed opportunity. Instead of a safe connection over the Willamette for St. Johns residents who ride bikes, an active transportation gateway to Sauvie Island and the West Hills, and a regional tourism draw, the bridge is inhospitable to anyone not in a car or truck.

Because there is no shoulder or bike lane on the bridge deck itself, many people on bikes take the sidewalk — but even the sidewalk is narrower than the minimum width required for a multi-use path.

About a year after the controversy, ODOT began to show some remorse for their decision, but they have yet to make amends. Bike access on this bridge is completely inadequate and — with the new attitude at ODOT these days (I seriously doubt they'd make the same decision if they had to make it today) — I'd love to re-think the lane decision. Perhaps this collision will get the issue back on people's minds.

Learn more about bike access on the St. Johns Bridge in the archives.

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  • Acseger@gmail.com February 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    The first result for, 'Possibly related posts" is "Cyclists get shafted on St. Johns Bridge" from back in 2005. I wish the person on a bike a speedy recovery and that we could sue ODOT for negligence.

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  • Nate Y February 10, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Seems like it's time to get our agitate on...
    Regardless of the details of this accident, it's clear that the bridge ain't right. I've been riding the sidewalk, but I resolve from now on to take the lane in my own private "slowdown".

    All my best to the injured cyclist and thanks to the driver for at least being human enough to stop.

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    • spare_wheel February 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      We need more agitation and lane taking; but even more importantly we need less "activist" lobbying and appeasement.

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  • Steven February 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I drive across the St. John's Bridge 5 days a week and make sure that when bicyclers are on the road to SHARE with them. Too many drivers though will NOT watch out for them. Speedy recovery brave cyclist.

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  • 9watts February 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    how do we get notified of followup comments (on any topic/discussion) without posting?

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    • Scott February 11, 2012 at 5:39 am

      I've been wanting the same feature for years, 9watts...

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  • K'Tesh February 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Prayers for a fast and complete recovery. Please ODOT fix this before worse happens.

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  • fasterthanme February 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I always ride on the sidewalk when I cross that bridge. My knuckles are white but i feel a little safer.

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  • Nick February 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Riding the sidewalk is horrifying. Imagine riding your bike down a narrow hallway and trying to not hit the walls. Now imagine that one wall is completely missing, and you'll be smashed by one of the trucks whizzing by if you fall off that side, and the other side has a tiny little railing separating you from falling a hundred feet to your death. I would feel no less safe on a rope suspension bridge.

    Somehow all of this is slightly less horrifying than riding on the roadway.

    ODOT never fails to disappoint.

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    • Tonya February 11, 2012 at 7:05 am

      I find the sidewalk more horrifying than taking the lane, so I do. Every time I ride that bridge I get yelled at or have a close call.

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    • Andyc February 11, 2012 at 7:15 am

      What a travesty of a possibly stellar experience in Portland. I forego the bridge whenever I can. I think I've travelled across it(on bicycle) maybe a dozen times in my five years living in the area, and although I will walk it more often, it still is not a very pleasant experience. Hell, even Driving an automobile across it is often times nerve-wracking at the least. Complete waste.

      My condolences to the cyclist, and I hope for a speedy as possible recovery.

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    • sorebore February 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      agreed....

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    • Nathan February 13, 2012 at 11:30 am

      Amen! The question at hand when approaching this bridge on a bicycle is "do I ride on a sidewalk that is frighteningly narrow and that if I crash on, I'll fall into traffic?" or "do I ride on the road, where I am not at risk of crashing, but am at risk of being hit by an inattentive driver and where I will anger motorized road users?"

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  • Tom M February 11, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Looks like a much larger version of the trouble with the Selwood bridge. No room for anything or anybody except cars. Too bad as it is a beautiful looking bridge and could have been a great vista point.

    Hope our 23 y.o. gets back to normal soon and keeps the rubber side down:)

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  • o/o February 11, 2012 at 8:21 am

    i rather riding on St Johns than Sellwood.

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  • Robert Ping February 11, 2012 at 8:28 am

    One lane at both ends with signals, but two lanes in a short stretch in between to allegedly improve traffic flow, at the expense of safety? Really? I have heard of fuzzy math, now I've seen fuzzy math and physics in action.

    I live close to St John's, and that bridge is the bane of my riding existence! It is the only reasonable route for me to get out of town, and the payoff is great: Forest Park trails, big climbs and five mountain views, access to the beautiful westside rolling hills and farmland and Sauvie Island, and my favorite riding route to downtown Portland (when I have the extra time, dirty 30 is also scary). But the bridge is basically treated by most drivers like a rural highway, even though it is within city limits. The average driving speed is too fast (double lanes contribute to that), and with high winds, unswept and narrow sidewalks, high auto speeds, lots of big rigs, and really bad driver attitudes, this bridge is a travesty for active transportation, especially in 'bike friendly' Portland!

    I hope nobody gets blown off or literally knocked off the sidewalk by a big rig mirror, but even that is just a matter of time, and it will be catastrophic. And the worst part is that I can't take my two boys on the bridge ever, even on the sidewalk - they are confident and experienced riders, but it is just too scary. Portland is a great cycling town overall, but the St Johns bridge is one of the examples of why we are not yet as 'civilized for cycling' as places like Amsterdam.

    I am not surprised that a major crash happened, I am surprised that it took this long...best wishes for a full recovery.

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  • kgb February 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

    When are the police going to enforce the speed limit on the bridge? The speeding on the bridge is completely out of control. Speed limit is 35 average speed is more like 50.

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    • wsbob February 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

      Red light camera gear might be an idea worth looking at. Big signs informing of the camera gears' presence. Travel more than 3mph over the speed limit: automatic citation.

      A lower speed limit on the bridge...from what you're saying is the present 35mph...down to 25mph, might be another reasonable way to improve safety for all travel modes on the bridge, and help to reduce strain on the bridge. The slight increase in travel time that a lower speed limit of this amount would result in for motor vehicles would not likely be a significant percentage of overall trip time for most motor vehicles using the bridge.

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    • Joe Adamski February 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      They have nowhere to set up a radar gun, its so narrow. Unless they set one up in the top of the old North Precinct building at the east end of the bridge. If the traffic safety division would let them.
      (strictly tongue in cheek).
      I actually have been told by a cop that there is no safe place to set up a speed enforcement on the bridge

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      • Todd Boulanger February 13, 2012 at 9:58 am

        PPB could use a hand held speed measuring device and then radio ahead for the driver / operator to be pulled over after the bridge ends. I would think...this would be an excellent public safety campaign.

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      • wsbob February 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

        "They have nowhere to set up a radar gun, its so narrow. .....

        ....I actually have been told by a cop that there is no safe place to set up a speed enforcement on the bridge.

        The Bridge structure itself seems likely to have plenty of places to mount the necessary gear. This doesn't sound like a problem engineers and technicians couldn't solve fairly easily.

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    • Chris I February 12, 2012 at 7:41 am

      If they cut it down to one lane in each direction, speeding will decrease drastically.

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    • anthony sands February 13, 2012 at 10:32 am

      no kidding nobody drives slower than 50

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  • Tankagnolo Bob February 11, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I ride the sidewalk on that bridge. My complaint is they did not put railings along its HIGH curb to protect folks walking and bicycling from possibly veering off the high curb. They said it was because it had to be rehabed to its "historic original condition". Railings could have been installed in the historic style. Seems style trumped safety there.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 11, 2012 at 10:10 am

    UPDATE: Police have arrested the man who was operating the pickup... He was drunk, reckless, and more. See update in the post.

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    • Pete February 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      Alleged to be drunk, reckless... yes?

      Heal up soon James!

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  • esther c February 11, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I always ride the sidewalk. Too chickenshit to take the lane. Even on the sidewalk though, I love riding the bridge. It is such a glorious structure. I think suspension bridges are among the most beautiful thing designed by man.

    Wouldn't it be lovely with a bike lane. Then the walkers could enjoy the sidewalk more too.

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    • sorebore February 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      ...chickenshit for me as well, and I like to ride wacky stuff. The St.Johns is our "Golden Gate" so to speak, it needs a bike lane,slower speeds for motor vehicles and to be enjoyed by all that use it with less stress. IMO.

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      • dan February 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm

        I'm not chickenshit at all, and have ridden a bunch of gnarly places (Chinese expressways, for instance), but I'm not comfortable taking the lane on the St. Johns bridge - I'd rather go a little slower on the sidewalk than duke it out with the much too fast traffic.

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        • sorebore February 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

          ....that's kinda what I meant....

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  • wsbob February 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

    "...Despite the report showing that one standard vehicle lane in each direction, plus a bicycle only lane would not result in congestion, ODOT decided to not put any dedicated space for bicycles on the bridge. ..." maus/bikeportland

    "...One lane at both ends with signals, but two lanes in a short stretch in between to allegedly improve traffic flow, at the expense of safety? ..." Robert Ping

    Any idea of the expense and scale that a project to re-configure the bridge vehicle lanes, reducing the two lane stretch Robert Ping describes the bridge as having, to one lane, and using the acquired space for bike lanes?

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  • Spiffy February 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

    so if you run over a cyclist sober on Ankeny there's no citation, but then suddenly if you're drunk and do it then you get Reckless Driving, Assault in the Third Degree, and Criminal Mischief?!?! why did the person hitting the cyclist on Ankeny not get those charges? the same action resulted from both...

    I just have to laugh at our legal system, it's the only way to keep from becoming angry at it...

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    • wsbob February 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

      "so if you run over a cyclist sober on Ankeny there's no citation, but then suddenly if you're drunk and do it then you get Reckless Driving, Assault in the Third Degree, and Criminal Mischief?!?! why did the person hitting the cyclist on Ankeny not get those charges? ..." Spiffy

      The two situations differ in many ways. Factors responsible for the collision on the St Johns Bridge is already much clearer than those for the collision over on Ankeny St.

      Also, it may well not be a fact that relieves from responsibility, the person driving in the Ankeny St collision, but at that location, it was the person on the bike that ran into the car, rather than vice-versa.

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    • Brian E February 12, 2012 at 9:08 am

      And disturbingly, according to Oregon law, you need to flee the scene of an accident if you are drunk driving. Then you need to hide until you are sober. If successful, you have many more legal options. Sometimes, all charges are dropped.

      "Possibly" the case of the hit and run in my neighborhood last year. 19 year old got killed while walking on SW 119th and Marshall. The driver confessed the following day. Said she was not drunk driving and that it was an accident.

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    • Todd Boulanger February 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

      That's how the laws are written here vs the Netherlands, etc. It's a start (though more should be done), vs the bad old days (20+ years ago) when even drunk drivers even got a break when in a crash.

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  • RH February 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    The other week I did a loop from wilamette, over the st johns, down hwy 30 (yikes), over the broadway, and up interstate . It was very humbling to experience decent bike infrastructure (wilamette) versus none (st johns, hwy 30)....a real eye opener for me.

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  • AdamG February 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    How about some sharrows to go with the 'bikes on roadway' signs, (and reeducation for trimet drivers)

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  • Joe Rowe February 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Get well soon.

    At least the drunk dude did not hit and run like the owner of Ski Bowl.

    PBOT should still fix this bridge and widen the sidewalks and bike path. Both raised. This would create jobs! Where are all the job loving CRC people when you need them?

    Cars will be much safer with 2 big lanes compared to 4 itty bitty lanes. The engineers neglected to do a complete risk assessment in 2005. The sidewalks are not safe given the wind and very narrow width. Getting on/off the bridge is also risky for bikes.

    Question: can someone from PBOT or the city pull up how many car on car accidents have happened on the bridge in the last 7 years?

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  • Evan Manvel February 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Portland Transport has a copy of the op-ed I wrote back in 2005 when at the BTA.
    Here it is.

    An excerpt:

    "The St. Johns Bridge is the only bridge spanning the Willamette River for five miles north or south. ODOT is currently planning to remodel the bridge in a way that endangers pedestrians and bicyclists, fails the freight community's stated standards for trucks, and is nerve-wracking for everyday car commuters – even though all of these problems can be solved at no cost."

    It's time to revisit that decision and re-stripe the bridge. It shouldn't have taken serious injuries to spur action, but let's hope ODOT takes action now.

    Write to the Oregon Transportation Commission, write to the Governor, and write to your state legislators. Contact info for these folks is easily found on-line.

    (and small correction: I realize I left out the rail bridge in the op-ed...)

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    • matt picio February 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Evan, I think we can forgive you for not saying "the only ROAD bridge", especially since the RR bridge will likely never carry bicycle/pedestrian traffic.

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  • Geoff February 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    The last 2 times I rode over the bridge I was honked at for legally riding all the way to the right, in the right lane - once by a big tanker truck and once by a pickup. I wonder how many drivers mistakenly interpret the "[bikes] on bridge roadway" sign to mean "No [bikes] on bridge roadway".

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    • Joe Rowe February 13, 2012 at 7:23 am

      Illegal use of horn. Perhaps Amanda Fritz and her desire to ticket bikes for ORS violations could make her airtime proportional to the violations by cars.

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  • Kristi Finney February 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    My heart goes out to the cyclist and his family and friends. And I hope the driver is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, although even that often doesn't seem to teach drunk, drugged and distracted drivers anything. Jaded after the needless, preventable death of Dustin on his bike 6 months ago, I frequently think that the only thing that really works as a wake up call is to have a tragedy befall your own loved one. And I don't wish that on anyone.

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  • Mrfox February 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I ride the sidewalk on st johns for the following reasons:
    1. I won't give drivers another reason to complain about cyclists.
    2. I'm much less likely to get run over by crazy, drunk or generally incensed people.
    3. It's kind of thrilling to be that close to the abyss ;)

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  • Dan February 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Tankagnolo Bob
    I ride the sidewalk on that bridge. My complaint is they did not put railings along its HIGH curb to protect folks walking and bicycling from possibly veering off the high curb. They said it was because it had to be rehabed to its "historic original condition". Railings could have been installed in the historic style. Seems style trumped safety there.
    Recommended 1

    What was the "historic original" speed limit? Not to mention the "historic original" lane width and vehicle size/weights? I work at the base of the St John's Bridge; take the lane every time and get in the middle of that lane.

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  • Opus the Poet February 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    I got notice about this wreck for my blog, but one of the links I got said the perp had been released and charges dropped. WTF? Was he not really drunk or was there something else we don't know about that caused PPD to let him go?

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  • Joe Adamski February 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    the bridge deck is 40' wide, allowing four lanes .. very narrow lanes, considering the high volume of truck traffic and frequent oversized loads vying for room with all the other traffic.
    Since traffic congests at each end, not at the beginning and mid-span, it would be quite easy to reduce to one lane until the end, allowing bikelanes on the deck and have bike traffic 'blend' into the lanes at the end.
    The freight industry values the use of the bridge,and is parochial in dealings with anything they feel might challenge the status quo.
    Lotsa luck changing that.

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    • Todd Boulanger February 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

      If ODOT were describing these 10' lane widths for any other project (say a urban highway retrofit for parking, etc.) they would likely uses the terms: "substandard" and "dangerous".

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  • Mike bodd February 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

    No mention of the " corners" you have to negotiate if you choose the sidewalk ( each place the big cable passes through the deck) often challenging with the wind.

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  • Mike bodd February 12, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Did they have 1 lane shut down for worst day and STP?

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  • Tourbiker February 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Well this guy was apparently drunk, so PDOT most likely will deflect safety rebukes still.
    flashers alerting motorists to bike presence on the bridge might help, much like the tunnel alert systems

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  • sd February 12, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I rode across the bridge yesterday afternoon to go out to sauvie. I have always ridden in the lane, but yesterday I had a bad feeling about the bridge and felt that the traffic was sketchier than usual so I decided to try the sidewalk.
    Anything to slow down car and truck traffic across the bridge would go along way. Unecessary to go >30-35mph given the speed limits on either side of the bridge.
    The side walk sucks. There were pedestrians coming the opposite way. I got off my bike to walk past them, and even this was a squeeze. Improvements should be a priority based on its location.

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  • Kevin Wagoner February 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

    It seems incredibly sad that people at ODOT can implement unsafe designs and not be held accountable for it.

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    • wsbob February 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      ODOT works for the public. The public is accountable for allowing ODOT to make the decision it did with respect to the lane configuration for the bridge travel deck.

      Maus says in his story above: "...The BTA was outraged, writing in an op-ed that "Under pressure from special interests, ODOT simply ignored the facts at hand." Unfortunately, despite their outrage, they did not pursue a lawsuit that could have forced ODOT to allow bicycle access on the bridge. ...."

      So why didn't the BTA sue back then, and what's the current BTA position on possibly looking at the issue of reviewing the bridges lane configuration? Oregon legislature is in it's special session...right now. The legislature will be back in full session in another 11 months, giving plenty of time to look into and determine whether a sufficiently strong argument for reducing the speed limit on the bridge, and the number of main travel lanes from 4 to two...adding bike lanes in each direction on the travel deck...exists.

      Someone commenting to the Oregonlive story said the bridges' current lanes are just 10' wide to allow for the four lane configuration. Keep in mind this is for what seems to be greater than average use by large trucks. Compare this width to the 12' width that many streets have.

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  • Opus the Poet February 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    OK as the situation is now there are a total of 4 10' lanes on the bridge or 20' per direction. the current lanes require trucks to track +/- 1 foot of center to avoid encroaching on either oncoming traffic or on adjacent traffic, do-able but sketchy, or they could have 1 12' lane, a 3' buffer, and a 5' bike lane without impeding traffic either way and without the danger that truck mirrors will sweep someone off the sidewalk or hit another truck going the other direction.

    And I still want to know if the report I saw that the driver had been released after dropping the charges was for real.

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    • Alan 1.0 February 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      NWCN says "...DUII, reckless driving, assault and criminal mischief. Schwartz was released on his own recognizance and was given a future court date, according to the Multnomah County Jail." That's quite a string of charges; wonder why the mischief charge?

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    • Chris I February 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Or even better: one 12' lane, concrete barrier, and a 7' bike lane. This would narrow the roadway visually, slowing down traffic, and creating a much safer environment for bikes and pedestrians. It could transition back to two lanes in each direction at the ends of the bridge, as to not create traffic backups at the signals. The outside lane would have sharrows.

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  • john February 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

    IMO, going down to single traffic lane is NOT an option: As shown during the construction, the traffic backups are crazy bad with subsequent pollution! It's due to traffic lights exiting the bridge, there MUST be two lanes exiting the bridge to keep the traffic going. (think heavy truck accelerating slow. I've seen one to two trucks take up a complete green light cycle )

    However, Notice how there is single lane feeding the bridge ! Thus ODOT could easily make it a THREE LANE Bridge (with bike lanes)

    In the middle of the bridge, in the direction of travel, go from a single lane to two lanes. Problem solved.

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  • jeff February 13, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Some of you folks REALLY miss the point and like to go off on tangents. Sure, the bridge is narrow, but so what, your typical driver just moves over to avoid the conflict like any other road. This incident was caused by a DRUNK DRIVER that did not. The fact that is happened on a bridge is nearly inconsequential.

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    • Chris I February 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      If bridge had been designed with a bike lane, and the cyclist was using it, would he have been hit by the drunk driver? Yes, this bridge is set up just like many of the arterial streets around town, like Burnside or Hawthorne. However, those roads both have bike boulevards that parallel them closely. This bridge is the only option for miles. And cyclists are forced between riding on a narrow sidewalk with pedestrians, or sharing the lane with drunk or distracted drivers. I think discussions about the design of this bridge are very relevant here.

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      • jeff February 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

        would the driver had hit the cyclist if he was sober and paying attention?

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        • 9watts February 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

          "would the driver had hit the cyclist if he was sober and paying attention?"

          More than likely. Happens every day, don't you know?
          See Ankeny & 16th.

          Or do you mean *really* paying attention? That's a pretty high threshold.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

          drunk or sober is not the issue.

          The issue is that, with a lack of real separation between modes, the margin of error is very small. Even without physical separation... had there been a wider shoulder or a bike lane, there is obviously a greater chance the drunk person might have missed him and/or corrected their steering in time to avoid him.

          We can never prevent this stuff from happening, but we can build our streets in a way that reduce its chances.

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          • matt picio February 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

            I call bull on that - drunk is most definitely the issue in this case. Regardless of separation, there is a huge difference between attentive vehicle operators and those who are inattentive/drunk/texting/reading the paper while driving. Yes, there are real issues with the St. John's Bridge that could have been and should be corrected. But it's hard to generalize from this particular case, because the driver appears to have been intoxicated above the legal limit. Had the overtaking operator been sober, this particular case likely would not have happened.

            Separated facilities would help - a lot, but they are not a universal panacea.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    It will be interesting to see how the new (post 2005) leadership at ODOT reacts to this design discussion now.

    Ideally a 2 + 2 lane layout with buffer would be best for traffic safety, but until an overlay to implement this full restriping ODOT could implement interium upgrades:
    - outside lane with sharrows and speed cushions (traffic calming) and a lower posted speeds for 4 lane layout
    - subdivide the outside lane into 6' bike lane with a 4' buffer lane, or
    - convert outside lane with a centerline shift: two 5' bike lanes with a climbing lane (this option is least desirable for overall traffic safety but seems to address ODOTs 2005 freight stakeholder concerns)

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  • Suburban February 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    The "bikes on bridge roadway" IMO, is all the engineering required for this place. It's crystal clear. The core issues will not be addressed with meetings, paint, flashing lights or concrete. Seriously: At what age should children learn to hold their line while being aggressively honked at from behind in a "safe routes to schools" program? We will be most interested to learn if the charges against the collision participant Schwartz stick.

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    • Chris I February 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      I think the abuse that cyclists regularly endure while taking the lane on this bridge is unacceptable. If the current solution is sufficient, we need more enforcement for careless driving or physical threatening to the drivers that ignore the 3ft rule or honk/yell at cyclists.

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  • GlowBoy February 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I took the lane once while riding across the SJB, years ago. Once was enough.

    Now I just take the sidepath. I find the trip more thrilling than horrifying. Certainly less horrifying than the Sellwood's sidepath (which I ride more often than the SJB) or the Ross Island's, which I ride a couple times a week, and is TRULY horrifying when I'm riding eastbound and an oncoming westbound squeezes me up against the edge at the same time a semi is coming my direction in the traffic lane. Of course the Ross Island is nowhere near as horrifying as it was back in the 90s, before they widened the sidepath (yes, it used to be narrower than the Sellwood's).

    The biggest annoyance of the SJB's sidepath is having to pick my way around the two support towers. Fortunately I've hardly ever encountered other riders or pedestrians on the St. Johns, which helps keep it from being horrifying.

    I have to disagree with Suburban that "bikes on roadway" signs and aggressive vehicular cycling are the answer. Are you seriously arguing that schoolchildren should be taught to hold their line on the St. Johns bridge deck while getting buzzed and honked at by tractor-trailers? Really?? I'm certainly not teaching my kid to do that.

    I think some paint and concrete are EXACTLY what are needed. I agree that we'd need to still have two lanes for general traffic at the ends to minimize bottlenecking, but most of the bridge deck could be converted to a single general lane each way, along with a bike lane. At the ends where the bike lane comes in and goes away, include ramps to/from the sidepath - as we've done many other places.

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    • matt picio February 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      Frankly, what's "needed" is for people to be respectful of the others on the road, and for each of us as individuals to hold non-complying people socially responsible, i.e. calling out bad behavior publicly, repeatedly, and universally. Peer pressure has its uses. Paint provides no protection, vehicular cycling works a lot of the time, but some road users will aggressively pass despite it, and fully separated infrastructure is too expensive to be universal. Changing human behavior is potentially the cheapest and most effective way to deal with the problem but also the most difficult to pull off - people don't like change, they hate to be told they are wrong, and many (most?) of us feel a sense of entitlement to the road.

      Societally, we are far more focused on our individual rights than our communal responsibilities. Until we pick up that second half and run with it, we're going to have issues - engineering alone can't solve the problem for us.

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