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Broadway Bridge updates: A broken shoulder and upcoming closure

Posted by on October 6th, 2015 at 11:02 am

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Terry Barton’s broken shoulder.

We’ve been following the Broadway Bridge re-painting project since the first complaints about it started coming in back in August.

The biking and walking pathways have been dramatically narrowed to make room for construction scaffolding. Despite flaggers on both ends to ferry users through, we’ve been worried that someone would get hurt. Now we’ve heard about the first (to our knowledge) serious injury caused by this narrow riding environment.

Portlander Terry Barton contacted us yesterday with the bad news: He suffered a broken shoulder on Friday afternoon after a crash caused by trying to navigate through the construction zone. Barton told us he’s been riding through the “mess” since it started and that he’s had several close calls with people both walking and biking. On Friday he was headed downtown when he miscommunicated intentions with someone walking toward him in the narrowed portion of the path. “I clipped him and then flew over my handlebars,” Barton shared with us.


Barton found our coverage of the project after researching onling about the unsafe conditions and says he’s considering taking legal action against the county.

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(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In other news about the project, Multnomah County announced today that they plan completely prohibit motor vehicle traffic from October 11th through the 27th. The paths on each side of the bridge will remain open during the closure, but streetcars, buses and all other motor vehicles will not be allowed on the bridge, “to ensure public safety.” People driving are encouraged to use the Burnside, Fremont or Steel bridges instead.

The County says the project is on schedule to be finished by the end of March 2016.

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

80 Comments
  • Mike Quiglery October 6, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Ever consider walking your bike through these kinds of areas?

    Recommended Thumb up 60

    • SD October 6, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Its unnecessary to walk your bike if you are comfortable riding slowly. It also takes up less space when you are on your bike instead of being next to it.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Dan October 6, 2015 at 11:10 am

    With all due respect, if you were passing a pedestrian in the section of the Broadway Bridge shown in the photo, how could you go fast enough to endo? The whole thing looks like it’s less than 4 feet wide.

    Recommended Thumb up 41

    • lop October 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      I walked over the bridge the other day. Most cyclists were considerate enough but a couple insisted on racing through inches away from me. Can’t say I would’ve felt that bad for them if one of those guys clipped me and broke their shoulder.

      Recommended Thumb up 27

  • Paul Wilkins October 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Sounds as though someone was operating a bicycle too fast for the conditions.

    Recommended Thumb up 58

  • Alex October 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

    That’s terrible. Hopefully positive changes will come from this. I know the folks at MultCo are receptive to communication and are sympathetic.

    I think it is a difficult situation that may be best resolved by simply diverting bike traffic to other bridges.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Beth October 6, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      There are signs already suggesting that bike riders use the Steel Bridge, whose sidewalks up top are equally narrow.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • scott October 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        On the top of the Steel bridge, bicycles are supposed to use the roadway, not the sidewalk.

        Recommended Thumb up 11

        • Nathan October 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

          Because the car and bus drivers looooovvveee that. ;)

          Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Dan A October 7, 2015 at 10:03 am

          Uh, yeah, I don’t recommend that. Just ride slowly on the sidewalk.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

          • scott October 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm

            Recommend not to follow laws? How does that work?

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            • Dan A October 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

              Do you regularly ride in the middle of the lane on top of the Steel? If so, I aspire to be you. Looks terrifying.

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              • scott October 8, 2015 at 10:25 am

                I ride it often. I find the lower deck to be twice as infuriating with kids, pedal cars, dogs, and all manner of things walking back and forth for selfies and such. The top level makes much more sense to me. Some people get all revvy/honky, but I don’t care and it’s unreasonable to think that I would ever have some kind of Death Proof car psycho behind me bent on murder.

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            • Dan A October 7, 2015 at 2:24 pm

              I don’t know what “Recommend not to follow laws?” means. You can take the lane there, or you can ride on the sidewalk. Both are legal, one is less likely to make you the victim of road rage.

              Recommended Thumb up 3

              • scott October 8, 2015 at 10:28 am

                I don’t think you are correct. When the sign says “Bicycles In Bridge Roadway” (not sure about the exact wording) I think you have to use the road. Also, there are a lot of sidewalks where it isn’t legal to cycle, and when it is, you can’t go above “walking speed” so 3-5 mph.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

                • Dan A October 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm
                • scott October 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

                  I stand corrected on bicycle sidewalk laws.Did they change for downtown too? The bricks? Still, I’ll take the roadway up top.

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                • Dan A October 8, 2015 at 5:15 pm

                  There are some places where riding on the sidewalk is specifically banned, and it’s usually painted on the ground.

                  Recommended Thumb up 2

  • browse October 6, 2015 at 11:19 am

    I biked over the Broadway Bridge path yesterday, traveling west bound. I moved at a slow walking speed and the other people I saw, on bike and on foot, were quite gracious about taking turns leaning far to one side to let each other pass.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • RH October 6, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I grazed my finger on the bridge railing the other day…scaffolding on one end of the bridge is wider than the other…caught me off guard. Not sure why they only flag one end of the bridge and not the entire thing. Scaffolding is on both ends now.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Allan October 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

    How much time would it take to finish if they closed the bridge completely and worked faster

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • RH October 6, 2015 at 11:29 am

      Or have multiple crews/shifts working on it 24 hours/day. It’s not a loud process and seems basic…sandblast off paint, repair, repaint.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • DNF October 6, 2015 at 11:53 am

        Not a loud process? Was this a joke? I’ve gone by when they were sand-blasting and its deafening (literally, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near it for long without serious hearing protection).

        Recommended Thumb up 10

        • RH October 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm

          Yeah, so when your ear is one foot from the sand blaster, it’s loud. Not loud enough to disturb peoples sleep if they are working on it at 4 am though trying to finish up the project.

          Recommended Thumb up 2

          • Buzz October 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

            Have you even been near there? It’s not just the noise of sandblasting, there are at least two large air filtration units (semi-trailer size) that make a huge racket, and they are not far from several multi-unit apartments.

            Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Chris I October 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        You can’t use the words “not a loud process” and “sandblasting” in the same sentence if you want us to take you seriously.

        Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Angel October 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

        I’m glad that they are also thinking of the workers, and not making them work all night long. There are health hazards associated with working the night shift.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • B. Carfree October 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      A few years back California wrote incentives into some road projects in SoCal. The sooner the contractor finished, the more money was paid. Not surprisingly, the contractors generally finished fast enough to get the maximum time bonus. That sort of contract writing is leadership, imo.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Adam Herstein October 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

    If he clipped a person walking, and couldn’t stop in time, then he was likely riding too fast for conditions. Is the person he hit okay? At any rate, I hope Terry heals soon.

    Recommended Thumb up 29

  • Middle of the Road guy October 6, 2015 at 11:42 am

    “serious injury caused by this narrow riding environment.”

    No, you were not traveling at a speed appropriate for that environment and you failed to take precautions to avoid an ‘accident’.

    Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Gary B October 7, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I noticed Jonathan didn’t use the word “accident.” I appreciate his consistency.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • spencer October 6, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thats a bummer. Heal up quick. I echo Paul’s comment, I’m a fast rider but that path is so narrow that we should all be moving cautiously to avoid contact.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Endo October 6, 2015 at 11:51 am

    I hate that people are blaming the victim here. Why should he have to slow down? If the conditions weren’t so poor he wouldn’t have broken his shoulder, the city is totally at fault here, not the cyclist.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • rainbike October 6, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Ha ha ha ha ha. That’s a good one.

      Recommended Thumb up 28

    • meh October 6, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      Yes those pesky vulnerable users on a MUP. The cyclist is a victim of his own bad actions.

      Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Paul Wilkins October 6, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      I get your irony.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Adam Herstein October 6, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      Replace “bike” with “car” and ask that question again.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Chris I October 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Just like when a car driver speeds through a construction zone and clips a worker, right? I mean, cars are made to go fast, why would the construction crew expect them to slow down and be operated in a safe manner?

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • spencer October 6, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      isnt the pedestrian he hit actually the victim? how about we all own up to be responsible for not hitting others, not smashing into stuff, and not playing the blame game when we do mess up? it absolutely sucks to break a shoulder, and the cyclist involved is going to be lucky if he recovers full function. i wish the cyclist a full recovery, but his fall is certainly NOT the contractor’s fault.

      Recommended Thumb up 19

  • John Liu
    John Liu October 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Sounds like he was riding too fast and hit a pedestrian. Should have been riding at near walking speed, or walking his bike. Especially since he was familiar with the conditions during construction. Probably lucky he didn’t go over the railing, or send the pedestrian over the railing. Hopefully the pedestrian wasn’t injured.

    Recommended Thumb up 11

  • B. Carfree October 6, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    In fairness to the rider, bikes become much less stable at low speeds and actually require more width as they slow down.

    I’m dismayed that the county is comfortable allowing a grossly substandard environment for pedestrians and cyclists while maintaining full access for motorists. Perhaps a better solution would be to close off the bridge to motorists while the work is ongoing. If the little darlings can handle a week and a half of bridge closure, surely they can handle a couple of months. Oh, I forgot. Cars first, last and always.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Buzz October 6, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Actually, the motorists have half access, one lane is closed in each direction, so the reduction in width of the roadway and the sidewalk are about equal percentage wise.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Spiffy October 6, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        it’s not the same… cars had 4 full lanes, peds had 2 full “lanes”… now cars have 2 full lanes and peds have 2 half “lanes”…

        Recommended Thumb up 5

    • meh October 7, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Really, you think that it’s the fault of the closure if a cyclist can’t control their vehicle at a slow speed. Then maybe get off and walk across the bridge if you can’t ride safely. At some point there has to be personal responsibility for one’s action.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • dr2chase October 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      “Much less stable” is hardly the case. Less stable, sure — I can’t ride no-hands below about 8mph. But actually unstable? I can ride at a walking speed for minutes at a time. For example: https://vimeo.com/118340310

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Steve October 6, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    When in doubt, “consider legal action”. Nice. If you don’t like the conditions choose another route. He says himself he has ridden through the site numerous times prior. I hope he heals soon and has learned a bit also.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Random October 6, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Next time I drive through a 50 MPH construction zone at 70 and get into an accident, I’ll “consider legal action”, since it was obviously the fault of the construction company.

      Recommended Thumb up 13

  • Stephen Keller October 6, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Hm…, it might be wise to edit that x-ray image to obscure Terry’s personal data. Of course, the cat’s probably out of the bag by now.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Chris I October 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      And Legacy Emanuel? He would have saved money by going to Kaiser.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Todd Hudson October 6, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    >he’s considering taking legal action against the county.

    And then they’ll close the bridge completely to bikes. Great!

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Spiffy October 6, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    In other news about the project, Multnomah County announced today that they plan completely prohibit motor vehicle traffic from October 11th through the 27th. The paths on each side of the bridge will remain open during the closure, but streetcars, buses and all other motor vehicles will not be allowed on the bridge, “to ensure public safety.” People driving are encouraged to use the Burnside, Fremont or Steel bridges instead.

    they don’t say that the bridge lanes will be closed… so this news release to me says that I can bike in the lane on the bridge with no motor vehicle traffic to worry about…

    they really should clarify that the bridge lanes will be closed to all traffic and that bicycles may only cross using the sidewalk…

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Gerald Fittipaldi October 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I hope the pedestrian sues the cyclist for biking wayyyyyy too fast for conditions. The nerve this guy has to think it’s the city’s fault.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Terry Barton October 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      How do you know I was going way to fast.Were you there?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Todd Boulanger October 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I have biked through this work zone a few times and I was wondering if they had considered removing sections of the bridge railing (separating cars from bike/peds) to allow easier rerouting of bicyclists off the path and onto the closed but “open” roadway lanes?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Todd Boulanger October 6, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Additionally, now that the bridge has been closed to cars and trams, I wonder if the County would reconsider adding a tarped tunnel 1 lane wide to facilitate bi-directional bike traffic through this workmen and away from the pedestrians on the pathway?

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Todd Boulanger October 6, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      sorry…meant work zone and not workmen (damn text editor!)

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Liu
    John Liu October 6, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Todd Boulanger
    sorry…meant work zone and not workmen (damn text editor!)Recommended 0

    Don’t want bikes weaving between the workmen, and you wouldn’t want to breathe the dust and paint particles.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Opus the Poet October 6, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      That’s what the tarp over the top is for, to keep the dust and paint off the cyclists, similar to the tarping on the pedestrian walk.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • joel October 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    “he’s considering taking legal action against the county”

    HAH! someone should count their lucky stars they didnt otb over the railing and into the vacant lot below. sue the county! because guy, by his own admission, clipped the ped? take some responsibility for your own actions, acknowledge that you were riding too fast for conditions and shooting a gap that was too narrow for your skill set, and heal up quick. next time, STOP, lean against the railing, and let the ped pass. that narrowed stretch isnt wide enough for a bike to politely pass a ped unless the ped yields to the bike out of sheer generosity, and everyones just gonna have to suck it up until this is done, cause a certain amount of room is needed around the bridge structure in order to sandblast and repaint.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • HJ October 7, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Honestly I have little sympathy in this case. It’s a construction zone. It’s a very tight squeeze. If I had a pedestrian coming up on me while riding through there I’d unclip a foot and very slowly scoot past.
    Let’s face it, you have to be going a certain minimum speed to do a full endo and that speed is one that would be totally inappropriate for the situation described.
    The bottom line is the city needs to maintain the infrastructure. They’re doing that. It’s going to cause some inconveniences. I’d consider slowing down for the whopping grand total distance of 1 bridge a pretty minor inconvenience. And no, they don’t need to make huge luxurious high speed bike corridors available through the construction. That’s just absurd. All they need to do is leave a passable path and they’ve done that.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • Kevin October 7, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I’m curious about what Terry means when he says he “miscommunicated intentions with someone walking toward him”. There shouldn’t be any question of which direction either party should move if they’re coming towards each other; move to the right. Did Terry indicate he was going to the right and then move left or vice versa? Either way, it sounds like he instigated this collision.

    I am certainly sympathetic to him for the broken shoulder and hope he heals well, but judging from the limited information available, I can’t help but believe that he was responsible. I assume the pedestrian hasn’t been identified since they’re not mentioned in this article. It would be interesting to have them come forward and tell their side of the story. Hopefully they were uninjured when they got clipped.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Terry barton October 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm

      I don’t know what the author mean either.I was slowed down to get around the predict and he didn’t move in either direction.I veered to the left to avoid hitting him.The are should be closed off to bikes.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • ynn October 7, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Why are people who ride bikes so quick to claim “I’m the vulnerable user” when there’s a dangerous interaction with a person driving car?
    Then when a person who rides a bike clips a person walking, they are the victim? Isn’t the vulnerable user the person who is walking?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Dan October 7, 2015 at 10:53 am

      If you look at the comments above, it’s pretty unanimous that the cyclist was in the wrong. So, I don’t think your description of all “people who ride bikes” is quite accurate. Personally, I think it’s the height of hypocrisy to complain about a car not giving you 3 feet when passing, and then buzz a pedestrian on the Hawthorne (or Broadway) Bridge — sounds like we’re on the same page.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Gary B October 7, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      He didn’t say he was the only victim–he’s not suing the pedestrian. You may believe he’s not a victim, but I don’t think we should overstate his position.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Dan A October 7, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Everybody calm down. Here’s some perspective:

    http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/275802-151801-woman-struck-by-vehicle-dies-at-ohsu

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Mark October 7, 2015 at 10:37 am

    What’s so hard about getting odd and walking? If we can’t, we are no different than auto drivers who wizz by us to close.

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    • Terry Barton October 13, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Getting off and walking takes up too much room

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  • Mark October 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Getting off…not getting odd…

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  • Terry barton October 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I’m not that fast of a rider.I swerved to the left but the pedestrian didn’t move to one side or the other.Witnesses said that it appeared that he was Itrying to make me crash or was drunk.I think that there should be flaggers during peak hours or no bikes allowed at all.There isn’t enough room for both on such a busy bridge.Its even more difficult to walk my bike across the bridge during construction

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • lop October 7, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      What do you consider not that fast? Did the crash happen going downhill? It can be pretty terrifying on foot for a bike to roll by on a shared four foot path at 15 mph. Are you sure the other person was trying to make you crash? Maybe he was trying to get you to slow down and pass at a respectful speed. Why didn’t you stop and lean your bike to the side to let the person walk past?

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      • Terry Barton October 13, 2015 at 5:35 pm

        I don’t know I saw him coming and slowed way down so I could get around him.Usually my experience has been I ride to the far left and the ped moves to the far right and nothing happened.Witnesses says that he deliberately tried to make me crash.In retrospect,I think that bikes shouldn’t be allowed.It that was the case,this wouldn’t have happened.Also there have been flaggers before.This time there was no flaggers

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      • Terry Barton October 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        I slowed down to get around him.My experience has been pesos move to the right and bikes move to the left.The bridge workers said that he purpose went out of his way to make me crash.

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  • Michael October 8, 2015 at 10:39 am

    The be all end all is take responsibility for yourself and your actions. It’s not the county’s fault you endo’ed and it’s not for unsafe situations. Yes, it’s difficult and less safe than previously. If you’re not comfortable with your skills or the intent of someone else go slowly. Accidents happen and I’m very sorry this person ended up with a broken shoulder; but really, a lawsuit? Life happens and it’s not always someone else’s fault

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  • Justin October 8, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Great, so now he sues, costs the taxpayer money because he couldn’t handle his bike (and don’t know, but sounds like going to fast). Why are we so quick to sue and compulsively blame any injury on someone else?

    I’m not sure how much more we expect the bridge crews to do – I mean, they have to put up scaffolding, they put flaggers out there, etc. Perhaps there are things I am not thinking of.

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    • Terry Barton October 13, 2015 at 5:42 pm

      There were no flag gets.They need to make it so peds are on one side bikes on the other.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SJ October 9, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I take this route every day. I can’t imagine being bold enough to clip a pedestrian and then sue anybody. The bridge is open to bikes. Riders need to be careful. Period. They could have just closed the bridge to bikes altogether. Would this have been preferable? Lawsuit? Give me a break.

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  • Matt October 9, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Small issue (potentially bigger issue)- you might want to remove/blur the medical record number from the X-ray.

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  • Terry Barton October 13, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Taking legal action was just a thought that I had because there were no flaggers and that the bridge should be off limits to bikes.If I had it to do all over I would avoid the bridge altogether.The city need to take responsibility by herring flaggers or banning bikes altogether.Furthermore,my experience has been,peds are polite enough to move over.This is what I was expecting.The bridge painters said that the ped purposely was attempting to make me crash.

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    • dr2chase October 14, 2015 at 6:15 am

      Because you crashed, bikes should be banned? If you’re sharing space with pedestrians but still going fast enough to trash your shoulder in a crash, I don’t think I want you making decisions for other people.

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