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Media coverage of St. Johns Bridge fatality makes ODOT answer for lack of safe bike access

Posted by on November 1st, 2016 at 12:02 pm

KGW's Q & A with ODOT is a must-read.

KGW’s Q & A with ODOT is a must-read.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is being forced to answer questions about unsafe biking conditions on the St. Johns Bridge after 55-year-old Mitch York was killed while biking on it Saturday.

All four of the major network news outlets led with follow-ups on the story during last night’s newscast.

As we continue to do our own reporting about the fateful decisions ODOT made during a multi-million dollar renovation project on the bridge in 2003 (to prioritize motorized vehicle capacity at the expense of everything else, summarized by this commenter who was around at the time), let’s take a look at how the issue has been covered so far by KOIN (CBS), KATU (ABC), KPTV (Fox), and KGW (NBC).

(Note that three of these four newscasts included my comments shared via on-camera interviews. Those videos are embedded below.)

KOIN: “Is it time for bike lanes on the St. Johns Bridge?”

“Some are calling on the Oregon Department of Transportation to remove a lane of traffic and create a safe path for bikes,” KOIN says in the lead paragraph of their story. In response, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton says, “the solution may not be that simple.”

Here’s the rest of Hamilton’s response:

“I don’t know if a bike lane would have made any difference,” Hamilton said, adding that the department is looking into whether it could have helped avoid the crash.

Hamilton tells KOIN 6 News the St. Johns Bridge is a freight route and a state highway that also has to meet the needs of heavy traffic. While a bike lane isn’t out of the question, the old bridge’s narrow lanes may make it challenging to do.

Adding bike lanes could also cause serious traffic backups, Hamilton explained.

KATU: “Bike community demands ODOT readdress St. Johns Bridge safety”

KATU’s story includes a statement from BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky where he says the organizations wants ODOT to “create physically separated bike lanes similar to what we have on the Hawthorne Bridge.” Sadowsky also told them the BTA wants, “Our criminal justice system to stop letting drivers have multiple chances.”

Hamilton from ODOT told KATU that his agency must, “make sure that this is an effective avenue for freight, for motorists, for commuters, for bicyclists, for pedestrians.” “We’re trying to do what safest for everybody,” he said. Then he made a familiar promise we’ve heard from ODOT many times in the past: “We’re going to look carefully at this and find out if anything additional can be done.”

KPTV: “Driver accused of killing cyclist on St. Johns Bridge has history of traffic crimes”

KPTV – FOX 12

KPTV reported that advocates are “calling for traffic changes to make the bridge safer,” but that ODOT isn’t likely to oblige because the bridge is “a major freight route and building a bike lane would cause ‘bottlenecking.'”

KGW: Bike lanes on St. Johns Bridge were nixed 13 years ago

KGW has had the best coverage of the story so far. Their story delved deeper into ODOT’s 2003 engineering decisions and an obscure state statute that regulates freight capacity on roads that’s known as “hole-in-the-air” (ORS 366.215, read our coverage of that issue here).

ODOT spokeswoman Kimberley Dinwiddie made an interesting assertion in an interview with KGW. She said state law requires freight routes like Highway 30 over the St. Johns Bridge to be 19-feet wide in each direction. Since the total curb-to-curb width of the bridge is 40-feet, Dinwiddie told KATU, “If we placed a bike lane with a separated barrier we would be in violation of the state law.”

After an exchange about this on Twitter yesterday, KGW updated their story with insights from BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky. He disagrees with Dinwiddie’s interpretation of the statute. He knows a lot about the statute because he was part of the 2012 lobbying effort that pushed back ODOT’s attempt to further strengthen it in favor of truck drivers.

KGW then did a Q & A with ODOT’s Dinwiddie to try and clarify the disagreement. It’s a must-read:

Is it really true that freight routes have to have a 19-foot lane?

Freight routes in Oregon require by law that freight haulers have at least 19 feet of width in each direction they’re traveling. On the St. Johns Bridge it’s only 40 feet wide, so if we put protected bike lanes in each direction on the St. Johns Bridge, it would prohibit us from following that law. The entire width of the bridge is 40 feet wide. The 19-feet cannot be obstructed by any barrier. It doesn’t matter how many lanes there are, what matters is the width. And it doesn’t matter whether that 19-feet is in one lane or two lanes. What matters is that its unobstructed with any barriers or curbs.

Could you lose a lane… in order to get bike lanes?
We have studied removing travel lanes. We discovered in that study it would cause backups on U.S. 30 as well as into the St. Johns Neighborhood. In addition it would limit the width available to freight haulers.

You said that based on ORS 366.215 the roadway must have 19-foot unobstructed lanes. Does that mean a TOTAL of 19-feet of unobstructed travel lanes in each direction? So, two 10-foot wide lanes each way satisfy the requirement? But one 10-foot wide lane plus a protected bike lane would not?
That is correct.

Does state law allow any flexibility in this? Would the city of Portland or Multnomah County be able to request an exemption? What would that process look like?
The process to change the exemption would require a possible change in the statute but it would also have to be approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission before that could be moved forward

You referenced a previous study on this bridge. Do we need a new road study? It’s been a decade since the 2005 study on the St. Johns Bridge – the region and it’s roads have clearly grown and become more taxed by changing demographics in Portland. In particular, North Portland seems to have experienced a major growth spurt. Would ODOT support a new study? What would it take get a new study done?
At this time we have not had any discussions about a new study.  The study that took place in 2003 included projections for up to the year of 2020. 

To make room for bike lanes could ODOT create a flexible traffic pattern with 1 dedicated lane each direction and a center lane that would change based on flow of traffic for freight? 
That has not been considered in either study and it’s not under discussion.

This is a really sad reminder we have to take responsibility for the safety of others every time we get behind the wheel.

We had the study in 2005 as we were leading up to the rehabilitation project for the bridge. And what we did was we widened the sidewalks around the bridge spires to allow for more room for people who choose to walk or bike on the sidewalks. In 2012, we looked at this again to see if there was anything else we could do and we still came to the same conclusion that bike lanes, and especially a separate bike path, was not feasible for the St. Johns Bridge. What we have done instead is install sharrows and signs to warn drivers that there are bikes in the travel lane and they have the legal right to be in that travel lane so people who are driving need to expect there are going to be bikes in that travel lane and to give them their room and to slow down.

At this time there is no further discussion to place bike lanes on the St. Johns Bridge because of the congestion and dangerous situations that could occur from that.

KGW deserves high praise for this line of questioning. It’s way more detail than we typically see from local networks on transportation issues.

That being said, Dinwiddie’s perspective is both jarring and illuminating. This Q & A and the other statements from her ODOT colleague Don Hamilton make it crystal clear that ODOT still places motorized vehicle capacity at the top of their priority list. This is disappointing for an agency that just released a Transportation Safety Action Plan with strong verbal commitments to a future with zero traffic deaths.

We have more coverage of this story coming. Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

184 Comments
  • rick November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Safe streets now.

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  • Spiffy November 1, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    ORS 366.215 clearly has an exception that can be used to install bike lanes…

    “… may not permanently reduce the vehicle-carrying capacity of an identified freight route … unless safety … considerations require the reduction.”

    looks like an easy one to me…

    unless you’re ODOT, who doesn’t seem make safety considerations for vulnerable users…

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    • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      They don’t care. They’re just going to hunker down for a few weeks and let this blow over. Then they’ll get back to planning their next highway boondoggle.

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    • wsbob November 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Here’s a link to the text of ORS 366.215: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/366.215

      Subsection 3) of that statute says “… the vehicle-carrying capacity of an identified freight route…” can be reduced by application for exemption granted by the Oregon Transportation Commission, “… if it finds that the exemption is in the best interest of the state and that freight movement is not unreasonably impeded by the exemption.”.

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    • K'Tesh November 1, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Seems like adding bike lanes would actually INCREASE vehicle traffic on the bridge. ODOT KNEW!

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    • wsbob November 2, 2016 at 12:34 am

      “…unless you’re ODOT, who doesn’t seem make safety considerations for vulnerable users… ” spiffy

      By the will of the public, and according to the law, ODOT seems to have installed many miles of bike lanes throughout the state. Bike lanes which in part are made out of consideration for vulnerable road users riding bikes.

      The department is bound by the law in that instance, and also is bound by law regarding the designated freight route over the St Johns Bridge. The law…www.oregonlaws.org/ors/366.215…because this is a designated freight route, appears to oblige the dept to have freight transport be first priority, with all other modes of transportation coming in second, third, and so on.

      I’d say that’s why the dept’s spokesperson in the KGW interview, mentions that before bike lanes could be installed on the bridge, a change in the statutes may be required. At best, it appears that a proposed change to the bridge deck configuration from ODOT or anyone else, would still have to go before the Oregon Transportation Commission for review, and a decision.

      It does not appear that the department has the autonomy or authority to decide on its own, that safety values of a bike lane on the bridge, over-ride the priority state law gives to routes designated for freight transport.

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      • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 8:44 am

        That may be true, but I have no faith in ODOT to do the right thing for pedestrians or cyclists AT ALL. I literally have no faith in them to do anything more than the absolute bare minimum for anyone outside of a cage.

        Is there a law that prevents them from creating a school speed zone in front of Cleveland High School?

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      • Stephen Keller November 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        Maybe we could change the designation of the bridge to something other than a freight route. Then we don’t need a new law.

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        • wsbob November 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm

          An additional bridge might allow the St Johns Bridge to be relieved of its service as part of a freight route. A new, additional bridge could open the bridge’s deck up to a range of configuration options, including heavy duty physical barriers between bike lane and main lane, if that’s what people really wanted.

          Some random thoughts: I think the reasoning for the 19′ width for freight, on a bridge like this one that goes uphill and downhill, is to allow faster traffic, including trucks, to pass slower traffic, such as trucks with very heavy loads; I’d guess some of them may be traveling as slow as 10-15 mph, both uphill and downhill.

          Maybe review the study from years back, about which I believe people commenting here have said, concluded that a single lane in each direction, allowing room for bike lanes, would not increase traffic congestion. During peak usage hours, seems like removal of a main lane in both directions would have motor vehicles that had been occupying the removed lane, backed up into even longer lines on the approaches to the bridge.

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  • Disastronauticus November 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    The traffic is so horrible on this bridge at times. As anyone who has had to deal with the mess at either end of the bridge during rush hour can attest to, the St Johns Bridge is clearly not up to the task currently being asked of it, and it’s only going to get worse.

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    • Travis November 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      Agreed. The sharrow lane heading toward Forest Park (sw) has been bumper-to-bumper in the evenings due to 30 repaving (and cars turning off Germantown). I fear these long back-ups will grow to a fixed reality in the nearer future. One side of Bridge Ave lacks sidewalks, forcing all cyclists to navigate uphill between the curb and idling cars and freight (I’ve been knocked by a mirror trying to squeeze on the road on the other side of Bridge Ave).

      Many know how mucked-up Germantown’s become at rush hour. Cyclist are often passing congestion on the left.

      The Bridge cannot support long-term Clark County and infill commuter growth alone. Hillsboro is booming too. Improved and encouraged mass transit today. A new bridge tomorrow. Rare that I advocate for more roads, but streets lined with homes in STJ are drowning in WA plates and mile long lines of freight. The homes along Ivanhoe and Lombard gather soot on their porches. 30’s turn lanes are spilling over into the passing lanes.

      The STJ Bridge is eventually destined for a long retirement of casually serving local traffic and affording comfortable beautiful access to Forest Park for cyclists and pedestrians after serving freight and cut-through commuters for many many years. (I desire)

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      • soren November 1, 2016 at 1:24 pm

        The last thing we need is more roadway and it’s attendant induced demand. If this society really valued clear air, public health, and the safety of vulnerable traffic, the only tenable option would be a road diet.

        Moreover, traffic jams and severe congestion do not generally contribute to roadway homicides, rather, it is a road culture that tolerates high-speed travel in close proximity of vulnerable human beings that contributes to thousands of unnecessary deaths. I am also a huge fan of gridlock and congestion. The more miserable it is to drive, the safer walking, cycling, and skating become.

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        • Bald One November 1, 2016 at 1:45 pm

          The CRC debate for the next decade may be a bridge (two bridges) and major thoroughfare connecting Clark County Wash with Washington County/HIllsboro – somewhere North of SJB. So many commuters already moving from these two locations.

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        • Lester Burnham November 1, 2016 at 2:00 pm

          Yes. Because idling ICE engines benefit us all.

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          • Buzz November 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

            The point is that you want people to make other choices to avoid congestion besides just idling in traffic.

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          • CaptainKarma November 3, 2016 at 2:27 pm

            The future is electric. No energy expended at idle. Oil kept in the ground.

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        • Travis November 1, 2016 at 2:05 pm

          Perhaps. But in STJ and on The Bridge, congestion is not making walking and cycling safer. It is certainly not contributing to cleaner air. Having cars piled-up Germantown is restricting access to Forest Park.

          Your dream of congestion is killing livability quickly in St. Johns.

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        • Hello, Kitty November 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm

          Gridlock is great for air quality, too!

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        • Kyle Banerjee November 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm

          Stopping transportation to solve transportation related problems is hardly a practical or desirable solution even if simply building more roads is clearly not a viable strategy.

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        • Widmermn November 4, 2016 at 12:07 am

          First of all…the use of term homicide is offensive. It assumes intent to kill. From the tragedies I have seen reported, not a single person was killed by a motorist with intent to kill. These are tragedies that affect both driver and cyclist alike.
          Secondly, if you look at the increase in percentage of hybrid and electric vehicles in Portland and statewide, people are being more environmentally conscious in their decisions. In fact, the reason ODOT is piloting a mileage tax right now is because of the increase in hybrid, electric and alternative modes of transportation. The reduction in gas tax revenue, combined with greater portions of that tax revenue being used towards lightrail and bike infrastructure has led to fewer tax dollars available for road improvement and maintenance.
          Bike ridership once peaked at 6% in Portland but now hovers around 3%. We just spent millions on a bike/light rail/pedestrian only bridge in Tillicum Crossing. The city just spent millions in bikeshare. The city spends on average $80 per motorist on street maintenance and improvements and $1200 per bicyclist right now with no additional revenue from bicyclists to fill the gap. We disproportionately spend on bike infrastructure versus ridership. Perhaps if we create a dedicated revenue stream like Honolulu then bicyclists could have more influence on spending decisions.
          We cannot expect to alter roadways when we are disproportionately spending money on other projects. We need to SHARE the road. We need to license and register every bicyclist. We need to hold both motorists and bicyclists accountable for safety violations. We ALL need to help.

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          • Mike November 14, 2016 at 2:39 pm

            You seem to be thinking of the word “murder”. The word “homocide” is often used to describe a murder, but it is a much broader term that encompasses any instance in which a human causes the death of another human, whether or not it is justifiable or intentional. The word “homocide” is completely accurate in this instance.

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      • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 1:26 pm

        Sounds like we need tolls.

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        • Bald One November 1, 2016 at 1:39 pm

          Or Trolls. Under the bridge.

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          • rachel b November 1, 2016 at 4:24 pm

            Hah! 🙂

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      • Todd Boulanger November 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm

        Anyone have a license plate study to support the report of a flood of “WA” plates in STJ?

        We have a similar “flood” of OR plates here in Vancouver staying overnight…until now we had been hearing Portlanders say at our bar they were being priced out of North Portland so they had / were considering a move to Vancouver’s downtown. Unless perhaps OR & WA residents are only swapping spouses….and not addresses yet. 😉

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        • Joe Adamski November 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm

          Todd, come sit in front of Burgerville with me. We can do an informal count. I promise you that 50% or better will have WA plates. The last study I read noted that 60% of cars were destined for I5 and east. That may or may not have captured Oregon plates headed north or east, I don’t recall method. That was 10 years ago. If anything, it has become more so. This is referring to evening rush hour. Look at any interchange that leads to I5 North, north of I405, you will see consistent results.

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          • Middle of the Road Guy November 2, 2016 at 9:59 am

            Well why are all of these portland businesses hiring people from WA?

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        • Travis November 1, 2016 at 4:00 pm

          I’ll second Joe and also invite you to join me for a bike ride on Central’s Neighborhood Greenway during WAsh hour.

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    • Bald One November 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Traffic congestion on the SJB is typically related to the bottleneck at either end of the bridge, and not to the bridge itself. Reducing lanes on the bridge won’t change congestion around the bridge, which is wholly related to the bridgehead congestion on both ends of the bridge, not the lane capacity of the bridge span, itself.

      The center of the bridge is always free and clear, but the congestion is from getting on and off the bridge since the two lanes must compress to one lane as you get off the bridge or on the bridge. This problem will not be affected by reducing the travel lanes on the bridge span and putting in bike lanes.

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      • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 1:28 pm

        Bingo. Having 2 lanes for the entire span just creates a drag race, ending in the inevitable congestion on either end. People are literally racing each other to wait in line at the red light.

        This is what ODOT is not willing to admit. They know that bike lanes can be added to the bridge without increasing congestion, provided two lanes are maintained exiting the bridge at the signals on either end.

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        • RH November 1, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          Can’t we do a “Better Streets St. Johns Bridge” trial. Put up some cones for a few days and see how it works?

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          • Eric Leifsdad November 1, 2016 at 4:34 pm

            we can do anything we want if we try hard enough

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      • Travis November 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        This is too true regarding where the bottle necks are. Not sure how the turn lanes would work exiting onto Bridge Ave. But 1 lane feeding 2 is not math that’s improving the congestion. Bridge traffic spilling onto 30 and in town is really Bridge Ave and Ivanhoe traffic. Zippering stuff too. Rush hour frieght bans. And just tolerating a new truth for 2 hours each weekday are all good short term solutions.

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      • wsbob November 1, 2016 at 8:12 pm

        “…This problem will not be affected by reducing the travel lanes on the bridge span and putting in bike lanes. …” bald one

        A single main travel lane in each direction, and a bike lane adjacent to them, with no barrier protection between bikes and main lanes. Is this what you’re visualizing?

        Keeping in mind of course, that such a configuration likely would not have prevented this most recent collision on the bridge.

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  • Mark November 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Just like in the Fallon Smart crash, the issue isn’t necessarily infrastructure deficiencies, but enforcement and legislative failures. This driver has been cited *eleven* times for driving with a suspended license. How about some real penalties to keep these losers off our roads? Suspended drivers are far more likely to be involved in serious crashes.

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    • Dan A November 1, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      The issue in this death, maybe. Should we wait for the next death to address the infrastructure problem?

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      • Mark November 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        Should we be using this particular instance to be discussing infrastructure improvements when that’s not really the issue here? Don’t get me wrong, I believe that road conditions could be improved, but that’s not the cause of this fatality.

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        • Dan A November 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm

          I think lack of protection and also the high-speed nature of the road itself here are contributing factors.

          We’ve had a number of deaths reported here recently where a dangerous road was used by a maniac while they killed somebody.

          http://bikeportland.org/2016/08/20/speeding-driver-kills-teenage-girl-who-was-crossing-se-hawthorne-189858

          http://bikeportland.org/2016/05/30/someone-has-died-in-a-collision-on-sw-multnomah-184606

          http://bikeportland.org/2015/12/12/fatal-hit-and-run-on-north-lombard-at-ne-42nd-ave-170230

          We can’t use the fact that the driver was a maniac keep us from noticing that the infrastructure was also part of the problem.

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          • Ted G November 2, 2016 at 1:03 pm

            When drivers do not drive safely, there is no safe place to be. If you want to build a wall to protect bikes from cars…How far does that wall go and what happens at the end of the wall? Infrastructure cannot protect everyone all of the time. Sooner or later every cyclist must share the road with cars and the more prepared a cyclist is for that situation the safer they will be.

            I have heard someone else recently suggest that a wall can keep us safe, and I don’t believe him either.

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            • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm

              I’m not even suggesting a wall. But the bridges in Portland are flat-out crazy. You can turn from a somewhat normal street onto a bridge, and all of a sudden people are doing 50-60 mph just to get to the other side to wait in line at a light.

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              • Ted G November 2, 2016 at 4:28 pm

                You said “I think lack of protection and also the high-speed nature of the road itself here are contributing factors.”

                Sounds like some kind of physical barrier…

                Yes, people do speed. I imagine most everyone that drives a car has driven faster than the speed limit at some point. I know I have.

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                • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 6:05 pm

                  If the bridge had only one main lane in each direction and the speed limit was lowered it would be considerably safer. There’s no reason for it to be a drag strip.

                  I’m not sure what drivers speeding all the time has to do with anything. If the road was one lane and I was driving 25 in front of you, you wouldn’t be speeding.

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    • soren November 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      A physically-protected bike lane would have likely prevented this death.

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      • Hello, Kitty November 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

        Maybe I misunderstand what happened, but I believe the cyclist was turning left, and was struck in such a way that he was pushed under a car passing him on the right. I don’t know how a physically protected bike lane would have helped in this case. That said, I am NOT arguing against improving the bike infrastructure on and around the SJB or removing a travel lane to do so. I believe we don’t need to wait for a fatality to do so.

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      • Buzz November 1, 2016 at 5:18 pm

        Soren, please explain how, because I don’t see it either, unless the barrier was something pretty darn heavy and permanent like Jersey barricades, which themselves have something like a 2 to 3 foot wide footprint and would take up a significant amount of bridge deck real estate.

        A barrier consisting of candlestick reflectors or even a curb-separated bike lane probably would not have prevented this crash, if I understand correctly how it happened.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy November 2, 2016 at 10:01 am

        So would not having that driver on the road.

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      • Stephen November 3, 2016 at 10:53 am

        Those who pay for the roads should get first rights to the roads. I would be all for bike riders using their tax monies to pay for the improvements they want. Vehicle drivers pay for the roads via fuel tax and registrations. Don’t make them pay to build the roads, then take away their lanes and give them to people who don’t pay for any of it(or pay considerably less because they drive less). If bicyclists can raise the funds to replace a bridge or road that includes their wants, then I would be willing to suffer the construction headaches in my commute to allow it to happen. Until then, I’m willing to share the road. I am not willing to entirely give up any part of the road I helped pay for.

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    • SD November 1, 2016 at 3:02 pm

      Infrastructure influences behavior. This is not speculation. If you create an environment where risk takers take more risks, more bad things happen. This is a perfect example of how infrastructure encourages bad choices.

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  • DickButton November 1, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I’m almost afraid to breathe when the media stumbles upon an important issue.

    It’s just a matter of time before someone says something offensive and they lose the plot in favor of a witch hunt though..

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  • John Lascurettes November 1, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    I can’t believe how much I’m hearing “bikes shouldn’t be there” form people, including those in St. Johns. It’s absurd. The next-closest river crossing (Broadway) for a person on a bike is seven miles away.

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    • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      They don’t ride bikes, so they don’t understand. For them, it’s just a few more minutes of sitting on their butts, listening to the radio and fiddling with their cell phones. For us, it’s a half hour detour, along seriously sketchy roads, in some cases.

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    • Spiffy November 1, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      counter with “cars shouldn’t be there” and cite the faster speeds at which they can go around to another bridge…

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      • shirtsoff November 1, 2016 at 4:54 pm

        @Spiffy

        YES. Thank you!

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  • J_R November 1, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Matt Garrett, Rian Windsheimer, and Kimberley Dinnwidde should be required to ride bikes across the bridge before publicly certifying in front of the media and the Oregon Transportation Commission that it is safe for bicyclists. Morning commute hours. Evening commute hours. During darkness and in the rain. Then they can explain how they like the sharrows.

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    • rachel b November 1, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      An episode for Black Mirror. DOT officials, hell, EVERYONE forced to ride bikes everywhere for a month, cheek by jowl with exhaust-spewing, heavy, dangerous, angry traffic on crappy roads w/ your only protection a thin painted line and your only consolation (in case of death or injury) the empty promise that “We’re going to look carefully at this and find out if anything additional can be done.”

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      • El Biciclero November 2, 2016 at 9:19 am

        But if EVERYONE was forced to ride bikes, problem solved, right?

        I’m sure you were thinking of some rotating schedule, but if a significant number of people were all riding instead of driving, then the experience wouldn’t be as bad, and those looking to claim current bicyclists are just whiners would have their “proof”…

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        • rachel b November 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm

          You know, I almost specified “rotating schedule” (to ensure maximum auto toxicity) when I wrote that, but I lazed out. 🙂 Yes–maximum traffic saturation! Full-on accurate, true cycling experience! The magic of teevee can make it happen!

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  • RH November 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    “To make room for bike lanes could ODOT create a flexible traffic pattern with 1 dedicated lane each direction and a center lane that would change based on flow of traffic for freight?
    That has not been considered in either study and it’s not under discussion”

    WHY NOT! ODOT needs to go visit the Lions Gate bridge in Vancouver BC. The system works!

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    • Anthony November 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Coronado Bay Bridge in San Diego is an example in the US if that’/ an arbitrary requirement they’d like to apply.

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    • Bjorn November 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Does the st johns bridge have significantly more traffic in one direction than the other morning vs evening? I always feel like it is fairly balanced when I am over there but that is usually on the weekend. ODOT studied the problem back when the resurfacing was done, and they found that the light at the end of the bridge was the bottleneck. Realistically the bridge could drop to 2 motor vehicle lanes and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to anyone driving over the bridge except possibly in the rare case that someone broke down on the bridge blocking the lane.

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      • Bald One November 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm

        Huge generalization: AM commuters take it West. PM commuters take it East. Clark County commuters tend to be a good mix of this. Trucks taking it both directions all day.

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    • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      The St. John’s has significantly less traffic than the Lion’s Gate bridge. It would be fine with one lane in each direction, provided the signals maintain two lanes, as they are the true bottleneck.

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    • eawrist November 2, 2016 at 8:18 am

      ODOT reported they did not consider this configuration in the Q&A. Why would they consider something that has the potential for any single digit delay in car traffic? To improve the quality of life for every mode of travel? Save lives? Nah. What would this city look like with ODOT out of Portland?

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  • SD November 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    ODOT should be required to make adjustments to the roads they manage until there is 80% compliance with posted speed limits. They cannot be allowed to put a freeway in the middle of a populated area and walk away.

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    • Dan A November 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      I wonder, are there any good ODOT roads in Portland?

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      • rick November 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm

        One isn’t Hall Blvd with disappearing bike lanes and floating sidewalks.

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      • Adam H. November 1, 2016 at 1:55 pm

        Nope.

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      • Spiffy November 1, 2016 at 3:15 pm

        what about I-205? seems to be the best one, but not sure if it’s “good”…

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        • Dan A November 1, 2016 at 8:44 pm

          Roads, not freeways.

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    • El Biciclero November 2, 2016 at 9:26 am

      I think that test is already rigged, since a lot of speed limits (except for statutory limits stipulated in the ORS) are set by the 80th (85th?) percentile rule, meaning, as I understand it, “however fast 80% of people tend to go in a particular location, set the speed limit to that”. So if they’ve done it “right”, 80% of drivers automatically comply with a lot of speed limits.

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      • Hello, Kitty November 2, 2016 at 10:32 am

        That’s what ODOT likes to say, but that is only one of several factors.

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  • MonicaInPDX November 1, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    My husband drives our one car on this bridge daily on his commute to Columbia County from North Portland and the rest of our family relies on bikes for transportation, so I definitely see both sides. The best suggestion I read was 3 car lanes and physically separated bike lanes. The car lanes would include one in each direction, plus one reversible lane that switched with the flow of traffic. It seems this would prevent further backups into the neighborhoods while allowing the necessary protections for vulnerable users.

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    • Travis November 1, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      I love that this idea is finally gaining traction with more people. I don’t know if it is a reality (maybe with a smartly timed light at Germantown). But we can at least study/consider.

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    • Christopher Jones November 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      This feels like a great solution to me. Assuming there are also facilities added for bikes on NW Bridge Ave.

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    • Spiffy November 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      not enough room for 5 traffic lanes on the bridge… we can’t stripe any more 5′ bike lanes…

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      • eawrist November 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm

        I think they mean a physically separated bi-directional bike path on one side.

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  • Bjorn November 1, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    In the KGW article Dinwiddle is quoted as saying: “Dinwiddie said no changes are currently being considered following Saturday’s fatal crash. She said that between 2010-2015, there have been two crashes between bicyclists and vehicles that resulted in minor injuries.” I personally know of 2 times that cyclists were hit from behind on the bridge during that time frame resulting in serious not minor injuries to those cyclists. One was reported on by Bikeportland and occured on February 10th, 2012 resulting in the arrest of the driver. The other occured in June of 2015, when my friend was hit from behind by a truck and nearly knocked completely off the bridge. His serious not minor injuries included a broken back and resulted in a hospital stay and significant missed work. I find it hard to believe that I know of all the collisions on the bridge that have resulted in injuries to a cyclist during this 6 year period and am curious if those are even the two that Dinwiddle is discussing since she thinks the injuries were minor. Perhaps the part of the problem is that ODOT is significantly underestimating the number and severity of Portlander’s who have been injured as a direct result of their decision not to make safety improvements on the bridge.

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    • I wear many hats November 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I know of a cyclist that was hit from behind on the bridge by a pickup doing 50 mph. LIFE CHANGED FOREVER. It was NOT a minor injury. Language matters, and ODOT and PBOT need to make proactive changes, not reactive changes. The status quo is unacceptable.

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      • Dave November 1, 2016 at 3:33 pm

        This is why enforcement is still important. Don’t make the cops back off groups that are already over-enforced–crank up the heat until everybody feels it. A few millionaire Range-Rover-driving land developers beat up by cops might be a good thing.

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        • Ted Timmons (Contributor) November 1, 2016 at 4:29 pm

          If the bridge didn’t look like a dragstrip, with wide lanes extending beyond the sightline, perhaps enforcement wouldn’t be the only solution.

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        • Bjorn November 2, 2016 at 8:34 am

          Considering that in the case being discussed the guy had already been “enforced” over 30 times and didn’t even have a license at this point I really don’t see why people think a lack of “enforcement” is the problem. We can’t place a cop at every intersection, at a certain point we need to work on making the infrastructure changes needed to keep people safe from the people for whom enforcement just isn’t effective in changing their behavior.

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          • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 10:39 am

            “Punishment”, not “enforcement”.

            What was his punishment for his 10th suspended license conviction? It clearly wasn’t enough to discourage him from getting his 11th one.

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            • Bjorn November 2, 2016 at 10:57 am

              It definitely seems that there is a group of dangerous drivers who will continue to drive until they are placed in jail. Lindsey Llaneza the chronic drunk driver who killed two people in 2003 comes to mind. We are all safer because he isn’t on the street, but whenever he is finally released I don’t think there is much doubt he will start driving again…

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  • rick November 1, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    The nearby railroad bridge, just upriver from the SJB, needs to be configured to allow a pedestrian and bike bridge attachment.

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    • Joe Adamski November 1, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      The groundwork has been laid in the North Reach River Plan to do exactly that. However, I am not sure the River Plan has been completely adopted, owing to a LUBA challenge. The larger challenge is the fact the bridge is owned by the BN railroad. Other options seem more likely.

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      • Dave November 1, 2016 at 5:10 pm

        Interesting–was that part of the CRC alternative called “Common Sense Alternative?”

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  • bradwagon November 1, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Curious if the 38ft total width rule just doesn’t apply to this section of Hwy 30 or…

    https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5891602,-122.7539854,3a,75y,292.36h,70.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sV4vNaNplz4Sroxu8dWqnqw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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    • bradwagon November 1, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      And I’m sorry but it total BS that you need 19 feet to drive an 8.5′ wide vehicle in a straight line.

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      • Kevin November 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

        Is the 19 feet for the occasional “wide load” that may have to pass?

        Note: their stated reasons for not re-configuring the bridge seem weak to me.

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    • Beeblebrox November 1, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Ha! Great example. The rule is actually 19 feet total curb to curb, since wide loads are allowed to take up the entire street, both directions worth. So the claim that the bridge needs 38 feet clear is completely wrong.

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      • bradwagon November 2, 2016 at 9:27 am

        I would assume that is the case but the interview seems to enforce the idea that EACH direction needs to be 19 feet… even still a buffered bike lane that wide loads with lead / tail vehicles could use is completely reasonable here. Reducing the bridge to one lane each direction would reduce speed on the road automatically. As someone who rides suburb bike lanes on 35-40 mph roads regularly I would be comfortable with it… especially with large dome bumps in the buffer zone that over sized freight could straddle if required but would be violently jarring to drive over.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 1, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Perhaps ODoT spokesperson Dinwiddie has solved the safety issue for us now with the interim removal of 1 lane in each direction…just grind out the north and south lane line while keeping the center line and sharrows…this would give ODoT time to get “permission” to build the separated / protected bi-directional bikeway.

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  • Bald One November 1, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    ODOT – bow down to your overlord, the freight lobby. PBOT, you are similarly infected, although not as bad.

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  • Adam H. November 1, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Painted bike lanes on the St. Johns Bridge are a terrible idea. The speed limit of 35 (with drivers likely exceeding this) warrants full protection.

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    • RH November 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      I agree. What ever happened to the logic of ‘do it right the first time’.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 1, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Or if it is “impossible” for ODoT to design and construct a protected bikeway on the bridge then how about ODoT funding a Linton to StJ bike + pedestrian + moped ferry…like those at the Amsterdam Centraal Station for Noord Amsterdam.

    If bikes are such a detriment to freight access and safety then create other options that improve the crossing for all.

    (Allowing access by mopeds and small motorcycles would also allow funding from the gas tax for this service.)

    http://www.iamsterdam.com/media/bikes/v-t-northwaterfront-nc.jpg?h=397&w=700&la=en

    PS. this type of ferry would also improve access for ADA users of powered wheelchair type vehicles that may not find the bridge sidewalk so accessible or safe too.

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  • Boris November 1, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    If they need an example of a bridge with reversible middle lane that works, have them take a look at the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, BC. With a reversible lane, room for bike lanes is possible. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lions_Gate_Bridge

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    • Scott Mizée November 1, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Yes, The Lions Gate Bridge was in my mind too. I took note of the lane configuration and was reminded of our own St Johns bridge when I was in Vancouver last month. What is ODOT’s excuse for that configuration?

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  • Todd Boulanger November 1, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Perhaps this is an opportunity for ODoT to consider that the current lane configuration (10 foot travel lanes and no shoulder) on the St Johns Bridge is not appropriate as a freight corridor…so that trucks over a set weight or size would be restricted and cross at 405. This would also reflect the redevelopment changes in StJ too.

    Plus Cyclists cannot use 405…thus St. Johns Bridge would be the only north Portland crossing choice other than swimming …or Trimet.

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    • Scott Mizée November 1, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      great points Todd.

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    • Buzz November 1, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      10′ lanes are absolutely substandard, not much better than the 9.5′ lanes on SE Hawthorne.

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  • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Here, ODOT. I’ll do your job for you.

    Reducing the bridge to a single lane will not add congestion, provided we maintain two lanes at the signalized intersections on each end. Maintaining two lanes over mid-span just encouraging dangerous speeding and at best provides more queuing space for the signals. This took me about 10 minutes.
    West end:
    http://streetmix.net/-/446219
    Mid-span:
    http://streetmix.net/-/446225
    East end:
    http://streetmix.net/-/446222

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    • Kevin November 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      This proposed design looks like it needs 18 months and $2 million to fully consider.

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      • Buzz November 1, 2016 at 8:54 pm

        $2M is a bargain in ODOT’s world.

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    • Spiffy November 1, 2016 at 3:22 pm

      we should not be making any more bike lanes as narrow as 5’…

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      • Kevin November 1, 2016 at 3:35 pm

        They did seem a little narrow. Perhaps a wider MUP with paint to suggest a cycling-only vs pedestrian-only area, similar to the Hawthorn Bridge.

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      • Chris I November 1, 2016 at 7:49 pm

        I agree, but there are few good options here. ODOT will never allow this to be narrowed to one lane on each end, as it would create significant traffic backups. This results in a narrow bike lane at each end of the bridge. Note that at mid-span, there would be a wide buffer for the relatively narrow bike lane. And keep in mind that this bike lane is not adjacent to parking, but rather a sidewalk, so dooring is not an issue.

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    • Clark in Vancouver November 2, 2016 at 12:01 am

      Nice.

      A good project to check out for ideas of what’s possible is the north end of the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver, BC. They discovered that it was never congested in the middle of the span, only at the ends so they’re widening the ends.

      It originally had six general travel lanes. This redesign will make it four general travel lanes in the middle, with a protected cycle lane on each side. Then north end is being widened to make six general travel lanes with the protected cycle lanes and sidewalks on the added width on the sides.
      The new wider part will be in the same style since it’s a heritage bridge.

      http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/burrard-bridge-and-pacific-street-intersection-upgrades.aspx

      Maybe that could be done here. Make it two lanes in the middle with a two-way protected bike lane on one side, then widen the ends to retain the bike lane and have four general travel lanes.

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      • Chris I November 2, 2016 at 7:53 am

        Vancouver is definitely a place we should be looking at. They really have their transportation priorities in the right places.

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  • Joe Adamski November 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Cantilevering additional room on the sides to create a wider physically separated sidewalk/MUP would be where I would look. Challenges would include satisfying historic exemption ( SJ Bridge is on the Historic Registry, I believe) and the age old one.. finding the $$

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    • dan November 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Yes, that would be amazing, but it’s very hard for me to imagine a solution that doesn’t destroy the look of this grand old bridge. Safety should win over aesthetics, but still…

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    • Spiffy November 1, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      we have several very old bridges in town that we’ve added to the sides of to accommodate more foot/bike traffic… I’m sure we could do it with this one if we really wanted… but there’s already plenty of room for everybody in the middle…

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) November 1, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      The bridge is plenty wide already. It’s just that loss aversion is a powerful emotional driver.

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      • Adam H. November 1, 2016 at 6:59 pm

        powerful emotional driver

        I think you just figured out why we can’t have nice cycling infrastructure in Portland.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy November 2, 2016 at 10:04 am

          We’ve got a lot of nice cycling infrastructure here.

          Stop being such a downer about everything. It’s not perfect, but this is still a great place to ride a bike.

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    • Dave November 1, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Ever ridden the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington in Seattle? It’s hung off of the side of that Interstate bridge. You don’t get your hearing blown out like on the 205, and on a clear day the view is freakin’ spectacular.

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    • Buzz November 1, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      this is what they did on the Hawthorne bridge and it didn’t detract from the historical aspects at all in the end.

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    • Stephen Keller November 2, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      Add the cantilevered bikewas and in a hundred years they will be historial.

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  • Paul Atkinson November 1, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    What I said about the transportation safety plan being worthless without a budget?

    Dinwiddie makes my case perfectly.

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  • Anonymous November 1, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Um, here’s what the law says:

    (2) Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section, the commission may not permanently reduce the vehicle-carrying capacity of an identified freight route when altering, relocating, changing or realigning a state highway unless safety or access considerations require the reduction.
    (3) A local government, as defined in ORS 174.116 (Local government and local service district defined), may apply to the commission for an exemption from the prohibition in subsection (2) of this section. The commission shall grant the exemption if it finds that the exemption is in the best interest of the state and that freight movement is not unreasonably impeded by the exemption. [Amended by 1977 c.312 §2; 2003 c.618 §38]

    And here’s what the state’s administrative rule (OAR 731-012-0010) says about how to implement the law:

    (11) “Reduction of Vehicle-Carrying Capacity” means a permanent reduction in the horizontal or vertical clearance of a highway section, by a permanent physical obstruction to motor vehicles located on useable right-of-way subject to Commission jurisdiction, unless such changes are supported by the Stakeholder Forum. Street markings such as bike lane striping or on street parking are not considered a reduction of vehicle-carrying capacity.

    Striped bicycle lanes are not a “permanent reduction in the horizontal clearance of a highway section”. ODOT’s own study found an increase in travel time of 6-12 s depending on time of day…

    6-12 second. The horror!

    Also, as Mr. Kransky noted, a permanent reduction can be made for reasons of safety…

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    • Scott Mizée November 1, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      Clearly, ODOT is quoted at the end of the interview:
      “One more response from ODOT, they say that ‘for motorists, they must take responsibility for EVERYONE’s safety.'”

      So…. let me get this straight. I agree that motorists must operate their vehicle safely in a manner that does not harm themselves or those around them, however, we ALL must do our part and be safe road users.

      I wish ODOT would apply some of their own words to their own actions. ODOT designs and operates the facilities. ODOT must ALSO take responsibility for everyone’s safety!

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    • Buzz November 1, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      administrative rules (OARs) do not have anywhere near the legal status of revised statutes (ORSs).

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    • Beeblebrox November 1, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      Sounds like screw-in bollards would work just fine, then!

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  • Adam November 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    A bikelane might not have made any difference, but a protected bike lane would have. With physical separation with concrete walls, like the one on the Morrison Bridge.

    Just saying.

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    • Mark November 2, 2016 at 8:27 am

      A protected bike lane might have made a difference. My understanding is that the crash happened at the end of the bridge where there’s turning traffic. Barriers would only be on the straight section of the bridge, so would likely not have saved this rider.

      You know what would have definitely prevented this tragedy? If the driver who wasn’t allowed to operate a dangerous motor vehicle wasn’t on the road at all. Time for some real legislation and penalties to keep suspended drivers away from the steering wheel.

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      • JF November 2, 2016 at 10:13 am

        YES! And if a person knowingly drives a vehicle unfit for the road, they should been held more accountable. It puts everyone at risk!

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      • Matt November 3, 2016 at 1:08 pm

        The Morrison bridge bike lanes are connected to crosswalks at either end. At no time do cyclists have to enter a vehicle lane in order to get on or off the bridge. The same could be done on the SJB.

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        • Spiffy November 3, 2016 at 2:02 pm

          the Morrison Bridge doesn’t have bike lanes, it has a MUP…

          but yes, the sidewalks on the bridge and the lead up to the bridge could be widened to allow a functional MUP… but it seems it’d be easier (and lighter on the bridge) to make a protected bike lane…

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  • AJD November 1, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    As the article mentioned three lanes with the center lane being bidirectional depending on traffic flow would allow space for a separated bike path and would also allow the same traffic capacity. It is solutions like this that ODOT never considers. All they want to do is paint more lines on roads. ODOT does a great disservice to the people of Oregon with their inflexibility and inability to think outside the box.

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    • Dale November 2, 2016 at 10:23 am

      I saw this very thing work quite well in The Netherlands. It’s an easy solution that works. Quite frankly, we could employ that strategy elsewhere to improve traffic movement.

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  • Jim Lee November 1, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Laural Porter does good work.

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  • Joe Adamski November 1, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    US Hwy 30 actually goes down the west side of the Willamette, down Yeon Ave and onto I405. the segment from the SJ Bridge down Ivanhoe to St Louis, onto Lombard and around to Columbia Blvd is officially the US30 Bypass. Remove that designation and remove the restrictions the State DOT supposes.

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    • Beeblebrox November 1, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      US 30 Bypass is the over-dimensional route, so it’s not that simple.

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  • Lester Burnham November 2, 2016 at 7:37 am

    Don’t hate on freight. Without it, how would you get your bike from Taiwan or iPhone from China?

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    • CaptainKarma November 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Need to use trains more instead of half a million 80-ton diesel trucks individually emitting noxious fumes and tearing up the infrastructure.

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    • Bald One November 2, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      It’s not that simple in Portland – the freight lobby’s international hub. Here, we get to have EVERYONE’s bike from Taiwan come through town on it’s way to Atlanta, Chicago, Omaha, etc. But, what ODOT is really concerned about are the farmers in Oregon, trying to get their feed to Chinese pigs, grain to middle-eastern bakeries, and Christmas trees to Taiwan. And it’s these rural freight interests which drive ODOT policy at the expense of Portlanders.

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  • rick November 2, 2016 at 7:52 am

    Safe bridge now.

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  • Patrick November 2, 2016 at 8:55 am

    What is wrong with riding your bike (while on the bridge only) on the sidewalk? The sidewalk is of decent size. Or just walking your bike across on the sidewalk if you do not want to ride on it? That is exactly what I do. I am separated from traffic and have never been hit anything except some bugs in the summer. Seems cheaper than making modification to the lanes. I really do not see what is so bad about that…?

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    • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Since cars are the danger, maybe cars can be pushed across the bridge too? 🙂

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    • Chris I November 2, 2016 at 10:34 am

      You take an extra 10 minutes to walk your bike across this bridge?

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    • SD November 2, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      “The cyclist was noted to be riding their bike instead of walking it at the time of the crash. The driver stayed at the scene and was fully cooperative with the officers.”

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      • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        That’s weird, the story doesn’t mention whether or not the driver was driving his car, which clearly would have been the dangerous thing to do.

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  • Patrick November 2, 2016 at 9:45 am

    @ Dan A – Now that’s thinking outside the box! 😉

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  • JF November 2, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Although a reconfig of the bridge would most likely not have helped in this case, I am totally for changing the current habits of people driving cars on the bridge. I have had too many close calls, even on the sidewalk walking across the bridge. Flying debris, wide extended mirrors, and just the sheer terror sound of HHDV engine breaking.

    The speed limit should be lowered and put a camera on the bridge to give out tickets. Make it 25mph or less. The westbound lane does not become two lanes until you actually get to the bridge. Then people gun it because the road “opens up.”

    I have seen many vehicles speeding on the bridge passing trucks, drag racing, or just feeling like it because it is a wide open lane. Hit people where they will actually pay attention. Their wallet.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth November 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I live in North Portland and when I worked downtown and drove to work (I mostly commuted by bike), I would vary between the I-5 route and the St John’s Bridge route, until I timed the journey on both routes, discovered there was no difference and quit driving on the St John’s Bridge. I have occasionally cycled on the bridge, but find it too scary even if I am on the sidewalk. Cars are typically travelling at 45 (I get passed because I always do the speed limit unless I am behind a cyclist who has taken the lane). Without a barrier of any kind I find that bridge frightening as a pedestrian or cyclist. What we really need is a new bridge further down river to connect 30 to the freight terminals in North Portland so that the trucks are not driving through residential streets. North Portland has traditionally had a predominantly African American demographic, so Salem didn’t really care what happened there, now that the demographics are changing, perhaps they might.

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    • wsbob November 2, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      “…What we really need is a new bridge further down river to connect 30 to the freight terminals in North Portland so that the trucks are not driving through residential streets. North Portland has traditionally had a predominantly African American demographic, so Salem didn’t really care what happened there, now that the demographics are changing, perhaps they might.” matthew

      Not to sound insensitive, but the money, is what would likely raise the interest of city, county and state, in building a new bridge. Kind of doubt they care what color you are, as long as the money is there. Which it can tend to be, if the population is increasing; and it still is increasing, correct? And likewise, with industry and jobs that come by healthy industry.

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    • wsbob November 2, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      “…What we really need is a new bridge further down river to connect 30 to the freight terminals in North Portland so that the trucks are not driving through residential streets. North Portland has traditionally had a predominantly African American demographic, so Salem didn’t really care what happened there, now that the demographics are changing, perhaps they might.” matthew

      Not to sound insensitive, but the money, or in other words, ‘potential for economic growth’, is what would likely raise the interest of city, county and state, in building a new bridge. Kind of doubt they care what color you are, as long as the money is there. Which it can tend to be, if the population is increasing; and it still is increasing, correct? And likewise, with industry and jobs.

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  • Patrick November 2, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Good point. Perhaps the bridge just isn’t a good option for biking and should be avoided. I doubt ODOT is going to rip out a lane for the relatively small number of cyclist that use it. I don’t think it is worth it. It’s not like the hawthorne bridge and others that let people off in downtown portland. And for that reason, I pretty much avoid it. I used to cross that bridge everyday going home to NE Portland from working at intel (10+ hrs)…I almost never saw cyclist on it. Anyone know how many cyclist ride across it a day?

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    • Bjorn November 2, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      There is no other option that doesn’t involve a very lengthy detour. I found a 2011 bike count document that shows counts in the 250-300 daily at philadelphia and willamette which seems like it is probably mostly crossings of the bridge. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/386265

      It isn’t really realistic to expect hundreds of people to ride all the way down to the broadway bridge (6-8 miles) and then back again rather than making changes that might delay motor vehicles by a few seconds. I also think that the bicycle counts would be higher if the bridge wasn’t so uncomfortable to ride on. Many people are probably choosing other modes because they don’t want to ride over the bridge.

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      • Kyle Banerjee November 2, 2016 at 2:19 pm

        There are probably a few, but even if it had fully separated bike lanes protected by a concrete barrier, I wouldn’t expect a huge change in the number of cyclists using it who would still be dealing with everything they deal with on either side of the bridge.

        Consider Tilikum. It provides 100% protection, is accessible on both sides from well protected bike lanes, and it’s in a good location. Yet bike counts are still very low. Potential bike traffic on SJB is going to be much lower than Tilikum.

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        • Bjorn November 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm

          I think you mean the Jean Luc Picard Wundercrossing, but regardless the 55000 crossings a month doesn’t seem like a small number to me and that is what the bike counter is reporting as the average monthly traffic since the bridge opened.

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          • Kyle Banerjee November 2, 2016 at 3:19 pm

            Given that the not as bike optimized Hawthorne is over 130,000 crossing per month, 55K is not impressive. There is a little more westbound than eastbound traffic, but that works out to less than 1000 in each direction per day on average.

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            • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 3:33 pm

              It’s not on my route or I would take it. I cross the Steel bridge not because it’s awesome, but because it’s where I need to go.

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              • Dick Button November 3, 2016 at 1:30 pm

                You would quickly find out that it is unpleasant and really steep. That the signals at each end are confusing and dangerous.

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                • Dan A November 3, 2016 at 2:43 pm

                  I rode it with my kids on their Islabikes, and they were surprised at how many people couldn’t make it up the hill. Didn’t seem difficult to us. But then again I don’t ride a 40lb city bike either. And yes, the intersection on the east side was incredibly confusing.

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                • Adam H. November 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

                  I have ridden a 40 lb bike up the St. Johns Bridge. It is not fun.

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        • Kevin November 3, 2016 at 10:24 am

          Seriously? Have you ridden across the Tilikum crossing? There are so many starts, stops, turns and dodging pedestrians and busses that I gladly (and do) ride over the Hawthorne. TC is not a bike-optimized bridge; cycling seems like it was designed as an afterthought. It’s a bus and train bridge.

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    • CaptainKarma November 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      A lot more *would* ride it if they could be relatively certain they would not die. If projections hold, there will be many, many more cars and trucks on Portland roads & bridges as people move to cities. Every bike is one less artery-clogging, road hogging motor vehicle.

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      • Ted G November 2, 2016 at 4:39 pm

        It seems that there have been three incidents involving cyclists on the SJB in the last 15 years or so. One was by a drunk driver and the most recent by a serially reckless driver. Why exactly do you think people are worried that they will die on the bridge?

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        • Dan A November 2, 2016 at 6:07 pm

          Source?

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  • Patrick November 2, 2016 at 11:47 am

    typo – 10+ yrs

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson November 2, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I once posted on Portland Transport that I would be willing to support an extension of Columbia Blvd with bridge across the Willamette and even a tunnel link to Washington county. Two lanes, paid for with tolls, designed for freight. In exchange ODOT would remove the Marquam Bridge and Eastbank Freeway in the Central City. Probably too much for our region to manage, but I would love to witness in my lifetime the destruction of the Marquam and Eastbank. And we would get freight out of St Johns and off that beautiful bridge and convert it to a real multi-modal facility.

    On the Governors’ I-5 Task Force (1999-2002) we got some data on travel from Clark county to Washington county, based I believe on 2000 census data. The number was insignificant with most users of the I-5 bridges travelling to jobs in N and NE Portland. Meanwhile 15 years have passed and Google Maps has revealed some travel secrets, and as Joe Adamski’s anecdotal evidence above suggests, travel patterns may have changed; so it may be time to take another look at census data, at least 2010. Michael?

    Bottom line, Washington county needs to build more affordable housing, employers there need to raise wages/salaries, and Clark county needs to have more employment opportunities.

    But the best option of help in the near term are tolls on the existing I-5 and I-205 bridges with transit/HOV lanes on both. The latter solved the feared congestion problem in ’97, and the former is a proven way to allocate scarce resources! Then restripe the St Johns Bridge for humans!

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    • wsbob November 2, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      Freight out of St Johns? Where’s it supposed to go? Off the bridge seems doable, if another bridge were to be built for freight and motor vehicles.

      You’ve presented such a large dream list of projects. A tunnel under the Tualitan Mtns, truly seems a long, long way into the future. Distancing, or submerging I-5 away, or below the eastside waterfront, seems a more easily obtainable objective.

      Tolls can raise money to pay off debt. For that reason, there’s merit in tolls. HOV lanes…if they really are effective in reducing congestion, great. Seems more likely all they can do, is use freeway area more efficiently.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 2, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    As for the 19 foot lane “rule” [or is it “guidance”]…if 19 feet must be provided, for purposes of discussion…can the 40 feet curb-to-curb be laid out this way: the creation of a center median for only permitted override loads:
    walkway// 10 ft freight travel lane // 8 ft striped freight median // 10 ft freight travel lane // 2 ft guard rail buffer // 10 ft bi-directional bike way // walkway

    … and postpone the discussion of raising the bikeway to sidewalk height for now…

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    • Todd Boulanger November 9, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Update from ODoT (Hamilton) – 09 Nov 2016: The “19 foot lane width” is not a rule nor guidance for completed roadways but just guidance for a very limited circumstance such as road construction activities…

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  • Todd Boulanger November 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    And since yesterday…has anyone (at PSU etc) looked into the evaluation if the St Johns Bridge meets ODoTs standards for a freight route? (Can it be delisted…thus not triggering RVS / ORS 366.215.

    Back when the City of Vancouver (WA) was converting West Fourth Plain (old SR-501 and primary freight route to the port) from a 4 (and 5) lane arterial to a 3 lane road diet…one of the safety concerns that came up was freight trucks operating in a 10 foot wide [substandard] curb lane next to a narrow attached sidewalk. We had reports of pedestrians being struck by passing vehicles…like the USPS postman who told me about his arm that was broken by a truck mirror.

    IMTO: Its just curious that ODoT is “never” about traffic safety when it comes to retaining “capacity” on outdated roadway facilities…are their hands really tied by RVS conditions in ORS 366.215?…even with the exemptions??

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  • Todd Boulanger November 2, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Referring to 2012 Washington County’s (ala Alta Planning) bikeway design guide…sharrows [aka shared lanes] would not be recommended on the bridge due to high 85th% speeds [assume >35mph] and high volumes [>23k]…the only bikeway facilities recommended would be those that set aside segregated space either striped [bike lane] or protected [separated / buffered].

    http://www.co.washington.or.us/LUT/Divisions/CPM/bike-facility-design-toolkit.cfm

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  • Patrick November 3, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I do not know how many people are “a feeling of safety away” from riding on the st johns bridge but I am skeptical that adding a protected bike lane is going to open the cyclist flood gates for the bridge. What reason is there cross the bridge on bike anyway? Forest park, hwy 30…?? Ridership numbers do not justify the cost…it would be cheaper to discourage using the bridge on bike. That would help keep fatalities down!

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    • Dan A November 3, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Please see Bjorn’s response to your identical suggestion above.

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    • Todd Boulanger November 3, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Patrick…you are so “old school”* in the choice of “that solution”…remember that the City (and ODoT) have multimodal objectives to reach…like the PBoT’s 25% bike split by 2030.

      *Separatation by “modal exclusion” was the tool of choice by transportation engineers (and civic leaders) from the 1930s to 1990s…

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      • Todd Boulanger November 3, 2016 at 11:50 am

        Damn typos…meant to type: “Separation”

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  • Steve November 3, 2016 at 10:04 am

    It feels like this “Us vs. Them” mentality is cropping up more and more in all kinds of places these days, and it’s very rarely helpful.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) November 3, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Yep, it’s sad when ODOT and car drivers consider any restoration of access to human-scale modes a “loss” of convenience or driving time. It should be “how can we work together to stop deaths?”

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      • wsbob November 3, 2016 at 11:23 am

        “…Yep, it’s sad when ODOT and car drivers consider any restoration of access to human-scale modes a “loss” of convenience or driving time. …” timmons

        Are you speaking in reference to the obligation ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission apparently has, to prioritize the St Johns Bridge as part of a route for freight transport across the Willamette River?

        If members of ODOT and OTC had their druthers, maybe they’d prefer to prioritize provision of safe riding infrastructure for the relatively small number of people biking across the bridge, over provision of a lane configuration for efficient, viable use of the bridge for people transporting things by truck, and by general driving.

        It seems those agencies don’t have the option of reducing the bridge’s effectiveness for motor vehicle use, simply because somebody driving their motor vehicle carelessly or recklessly across the bridge, occasionally injures or kills a vulnerable road user.

        Your characterization of ODOT, including, I suppose, people that work for that department, itself seems to me to be careless and irresponsible, if you don’t have at least something to verify that people with that department, don’t care about the safety of people as vulnerable road users, crossing this bridge that’s prioritized as part of a freight route.

        From what I’ve read over the years, it seems ODOT staff do care about the safety of vulnerable road users crossing this bridge. Going back fifteen years, or whenever it was that plans for the bridge’s refurbishing were prepared, the dept had many meetings, listened to many different individuals and groups as to how it should configure the bridges deck. In the end, it felt compelled to retain the four main lane configuration it has today, rather than reduce that number or main lanes for the installation of a couple of bike lanes.

        Where at that time, was any higher government authority, such as a mayor, a governor, or a legislator, to come forward and direct ODOT to come up with a different deck configuration placing higher priority on the safety of vulnerable road users?

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  • Joe November 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    create safe roads.

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  • GlowBoy November 3, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Discourage use of the SJB? It is no longer acceptable to tell cyclists not to ride somewhere because the facility wasn’t designed for them. Especially when the nearest alternate route is miles away. That’s a mid-20th-century attitude and it’s not okay anymore.

    For the record, I have ridden the main deck of the SJB exactly once. I almost got hit by someone who came way too close. When I caught up with her at the light at the end of the bridge, she said she’d given me at least 5 feet. Since then I’ve always ridden the sidewalk, despite the detours around the towers.

    As anyone knowledgeable about transportation knows about bridges, and has been pointed out above, the congestion is only at the ends. There’s plenty of room for protected bike lanes across most of the span: why not have bike lanes across most of the middle of the bridge, and ramps that connect them up to the sidewalk, kind of the reverse of what you have on the Broadway bridge? You could have your precious 4 lanes at the ends (although you still only need 3, since it’s only traffic exiting the bridge that backs up), you’d only have short stretches that are shared among pedestrians and cyclists, and cyclists would avoid the tower detours. Seems like a good compromise to me.

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    • GlowBoy November 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Here’s another idea: the east end of the SJB is always going to suffer congestion because it’s entering an urban area, but the west end only gets congested because of the stoplight.

      Why not make most* of Bridge Avenue a northbound one-way? Traffic going to the eastbound bridge from Highway 30 would enter Bridge Avenue at its south end and (would be required to) make a free right turn onto the bridge. Likewise, westbound traffic on the bridge would make a free right onto Bridge Avenue and enter 30 at Bridge Avenue’s north end. *That* stoplight will back up, of course, but at least the choke point will move downhill and back up onto the bridge less often.

      This arrangement would require half the truck traffic to make acute turns between 30 and Bridge Way, but if memory serves there’s room at both of these intersections. Of course it would (heaven forbid!) require them to slow way down for a few seconds.

      * Bridge Avenue would continue to be two-way between Springville and its northern end, to allow access to Springville and Germantown from 30.

      So now you don’t need a light at all, where the bridge meets Bridge Avenue, allowing the bridge’s single westbound lane to flow more freely. And since the street is one-way, you have room to reconfigure that intersection to allow enough room for turning trucks and for safe bicycle passage at the same time.

      You’re welcome.

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      • El Biciclero November 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        That is frickin’ brilliant.

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    • wsbob November 4, 2016 at 1:34 am

      “…the congestion is only at the ends. There’s plenty of room for protected bike lanes across most of the span: why not have bike lanes across most of the middle of the bridge, and ramps that connect them up to the sidewalk, …” glowboy

      Plenty of room on the span, except for the approaches…is that what your thinking is? I wonder if that corroborates with traffic studies done with regards to the bridge, some years back. Someone I know, has, for years, driven the bridge fairly regularly, and has mentioned their being stuck in stop and go bumper to bumper traffic on the bridge with both same direction lanes filled. How common is what they experience, throughout hours of the day and days of the week, I don’t know.

      For each side of the bridge, take one of those same direction lanes for motor vehicle use out…I wonder where all those motor vehicles will be then; in longer lines to the approaches, I suppose. A longer distance down the right lane of Hwy 30 on the south side of the river…a longer distance into the neighborhood on the north side of the river. Wouldn’t be a happy situation for many people. Bad enough already is what I hear.

      Push for an additional bridge to be built. Portland movers and shakers will eat that idea up if it can be presented with prospects for good economic growth.

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  • Patrick November 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    GlowBoy
    Discourage use of the SJB? It is no longer acceptable to tell cyclists not to ride somewhere because the facility wasn’t designed for them. Especially when the nearest alternate route is miles away. That’s a mid-20th-century attitude and it’s not okay anymore.
    For the record, I have ridden the main deck of the SJB exactly once. I almost got hit by someone who came way too close. When I caught up with her at the light at the end of the bridge, she said she’d given me at least 5 feet. Since then I’ve always ridden the sidewalk, despite the detours around the towers.
    As anyone knowledgeable about transportation knows about bridges, and has been pointed out above, the congestion is only at the ends. There’s plenty of room for protected bike lanes across most of the span: why not have bike lanes across most of the middle of the bridge, and ramps that connect them up to the sidewalk, kind of the reverse of what you have on the Broadway bridge? You could have your precious 4 lanes at the ends (although you still only need 3, since it’s only traffic exiting the bridge that backs up), you’d only have short stretches that are shared among pedestrians and cyclists, and cyclists would avoid the tower detours. Seems like a good compromise to me.
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    Even if it is because there would be a serious safety risk to cyclist otherwise? And ODOT will not spend the money because it would not be justifiable?

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  • Josh Gold November 3, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Can we get an knowledgeable, and experienced Vision Zero transportation expert that is a powerful speaker to give a talk about Portland traffic fatalities in 2016, including St. John Bridge fatality, outside ODOT headquarters during lunch time, and then invite ODOT employees, city council members, media, PBOT, bike advocates to attend?

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