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View Full Version : Courtesy on the Sellwood Bridge, please


wrinkles
07-25-2007, 09:14 PM
Hey, all you Spandexed dudes and dudettes: Could we be a little less aggressive when negotiating the crumbling and biker-unfriendly Sellwood Bridge? For good reason, signs request that we walk our bikes when using the sidewalk (which exists only on the north side). Yet on my crossing today, I encountered bikers traveling both east and west, riding on the sidewalk.
The sidewalk is barely wide enough for two bikes to pass, and that is only in the spaces between lightposts. The curb is extra high, so if one were to be bumped off the sidewalk, the resulting splat would not be pleasant.
The Sellwood is scheduled for replacement, and the design will have to accommodate moving bicycles, pedestrians, cars, buses and trucks. But, in the meantime, for the safety of all--bikers and peds alike--please abide by the walk-your-bike rule on the Sellwood Bridge sidewalk. If you want to ride, you can take your chances in the car lane.
There, I feel better now.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 06:47 AM
Yeah, "take your chances" indeed. Maybe if cyclists could ride across the bridge without getting assaulted, honked at, cursed at, etc, more would use the roadway. I don't mean to excuse the rudeness on the sidewalk, just pointing out that it's part of a larger problem with the bridge. I don't understand why motor vehicle operators can't recognize that I have as much right to the road as they do.

Speaking of that, does anybody know if there is any actual statute or other City or County rule prohibiting riding on the Sellwood Bridge sidewalk? That is, any law to support the sign that says not to ride?

beelnite
07-26-2007, 07:33 AM
For good reason, signs request that we walk our bikes when using the sidewalk...

It would be cool to know the law in general - sometimes the ordinance number will be on the sign - but there are other signs around the Portland area. Are these just polite requests, recommendations or enforceable standards?

Most particularly the South Waterfront area, you know the new portion near the boat dock that stretches along with shops, apartments, restaurants. There are signs posted saying "Please walk your bicycle."

Yet folks rarely obey... Screams of "ON YOUR LEFT!" Can still be heard.

Really what is the waitress carrying a tray full of microbrew supposed to do?

I think we should just generally as a rule avoid the waterfront, the esplanade, et al or if we use the route outrageously defer to pedestrians and joggers. That means ride ridiculously slow most of the time.

There! I said my thing! Thanx-

Citizen Beelnite

wyeast
07-26-2007, 07:45 AM
Nothing I can find in Portland Title 16 like it's spelled out for the downtown core area. The only relevant section I see from ORS814:

814.410 Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following:

(a) Operates the bicycle so as to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and move into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

(b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.

(c) Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

(d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.

(e) Operates an electric assisted bicycle on a sidewalk.

(2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.

(3) The offense described in this section, unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 699; 1985 c.16 337; 1997 c.400 7; 2005 c.316 2]

The bolded section being the interesting part. Some days it's hard to move at anything above walking speed and still constitute giving "right of way" to pedestrians on the bridge. Also interesting the bit about the audible warning. As it pertains to the Springwater thread, is that considered to be a 'bike lane' or a 'sidewalk', or neither? :confused:

As far as Waterfront/Esplanade goes, I'm pretty much considering that would be enforced as a sidewalk and is good reason to make certain to be obnoxious with my bigass bell. ;)

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 08:05 AM
Thanks. This is really interesting because it does establish that you must warn pedestrians when passing them on a sidewalk. But it does not, of course, establish that it is illegal to ride on the Sellwood Bridge sidewalk.

My guess is that the Springwater is definitely neither a sidewalk nor a bike lane. I'd say the same is true for any MUP, including the Esplanade/Waterfront.

That section between downtown and the south waterfront is indeed ridiculous. I will ride it but, as you say, at a walking or slower pace. I act like I'm just another ped. But that's what both safety and the law requires in those situations. I think the waitresses carrying trays have enough trouble with just the peds.

So it seems we cyclists must confront Scylla and Charybdis: Either ride at a walking pace on a MUP or face angry people armed with deadly weapons on the roads.

Matt P.
07-26-2007, 09:23 AM
Speaking of that, does anybody know if there is any actual statute or other City or County rule prohibiting riding on the Sellwood Bridge sidewalk? That is, any law to support the sign that says not to ride?

810.020 Regulating use of throughway.
(1) Each road authority may prohibit or restrict the use of a throughway in its jurisdiction by any of the following:

(b) Bicycles or other nonmotorized traffic.

If I understand that correctly, since a sidewalk is part of the throughway, bicycle operation may be prohibited (downtown Portland sidewalks, or the Morrison bridge deck), or restricted (walk your bike)

What I'd like to know is if it is legal for the Riverfront properties to mandate walking one's bike - that's private property, and the statute only provides for a road authority, not property owners.

AFAIK, it is not - and if a cyclist disobeys the "walk your bike" sign, the only recourse for a property owner is to tell the cyclist to vacate the property - in which case the cyclist is required to comply.

Or am I misunderstanding?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 09:37 AM
I guess that's the rule. Thanks, Matt.

On the Riverfront properties, it can be legal for them to mandate walking (assuming the land is privately owned). Whether it is legal depends on some things we don't know. For example, the City (or another public entity) may have sold them the land or permitted them to build on it with the condition that they grant an easement for a MUP, meaning that they are required to allow the public to bicycle on it. In that case, it may not be legal for them to restrict bicycles. But that's a right a particular member of the public would probably have to enforce.

Private property owners generally have a lot of leeway in their right to restrict use and to exclude others. But those rights are restricted by public use and/or by specific restrictions placed on the property.

wsbob
07-26-2007, 10:15 AM
The Sellwood is bad for riding bicycles, period, for the reasons O.P. wrinkles points out. A sign may be helpful for some people to guide them in what to do on it, but why should a law and personnel be required to get them to do what is obviously called for in this situation? I suppose there's always going to be jerks that won't use common sense to figure out that maybe they shouldn't ride at speed towards each other on the Sellwood's skimpy sidewalk.

People wouldn't have to actually walk their bikes if they'd just slow down their bikes, maybe not actually pedaling when they approached another rider or pedestrian, but one foot on the ground pushing kind of movement. This is far more stable at slow speeds than pedaling, and much less threatening to pedestrians.

wyeast
07-26-2007, 10:26 AM
What are the "laws" regarding MUP usage? If they're not sidewalks and they're not bike lanes, I can't seem to figure out how they're regulated either by Portland or Oregon. :confused:

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 10:41 AM
What are the "laws" regarding MUP usage? If they're not sidewalks and they're not bike lanes, I can't seem to figure out how they're regulated either by Portland or Oregon. :confused:

I said my "guess" is that MUPs are neither, but I'm not sure. Someone who's been around Portland longer should chime in. I would like to know what the rules are as well. I can tell you that the general civil rule of reasonably prudent conduct under the circumstances applies everywhere, including MUPs.

nuovorecord
07-26-2007, 10:58 AM
I'm one of those Lycra-clad cyclists, although I don't rudely and unsafely pass others on the Sellwood. What makes sense to me and is my rule of thumb is to yield to those going uphill on the bridge. It seems that others have offered me the same courtesy when I've crossed the Sellwood. I can't recall having any close calls, even though it's a pretty crummy crossing.

I wear road cycling shoes which are very hard to walk any distance in, so walking my bike across the bridge isn't really an option. So my next best option is to be deferential to others. The worst thing that can happen is that I get to enjoy the view from the middle of the bridge for a few seconds while waiting for others to pass.

Frankly, it's the connection to Hwy. 43 and the cemetery at the west end of the bridge that concerns me more than passing others on the inadequate sidewalk, but that's another topic...

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 11:33 AM
I know it can be harrowing, but I'd like to encourage everyone to ride over the Sellwood bridge roadway. Since it's not legal to ride the sidewalk, Multnomah County is effectively telling us to ride it. The more people who ride the road, hopefully the less people like me who ride it now will be assaulted by people in cars and trucks as people come to expect seeing bicyclists on the raodway.

wyeast
07-26-2007, 11:40 AM
I think I fell behind somewhere, I didn't think it was illegal to ride the sidewalk on the Sellwood Bridge? If anything it should be a City of Portland thing, and they only rule it out downtown? Matt P quoted the section in ORS that allows juristictions to regulate bikes and other nonmotorized vehicles on their throughways - just that Portland chooses not to in this case?

Did I miss that Multnomah County had banned it somewhere? :confused:

And yes, riding in the roadway would be a harrowing experience for me. Hell, it was a harrowing experience for me in 2-ton car back when I was learning to drive. ;)

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 11:56 AM
I think it is illegal, although I do not know for sure. There is a sign that says cyclists must walk bikes on the sidewalk. Presumably that sign is there because some jurisdiction (either the City or County) passed an ordinance (the way Portland did with bikes downtown) that makes it illegal to ride on the sidewalk. But as far as I know, neither Matt nor anyone else has identified where that specific rule is. Matt only pointed out that State law authorizes jurisdictions to enact such ordinances.

The Sellwood Bridge is weird jurisdictionally. I don't fully understand who can regulate conduct there. I know Portland can because it's in the City limits. But the bridge itself is owned by the County, so perhaps they can as well.

wyeast
07-26-2007, 12:24 PM
Ah, that's it. The county owns the bridge, so it appears it's generally their jurisdiction. I found this little blurb from county meeting minutes about this specific question: (Page 2)

link (http://www2.co.multnomah.or.us/Community_Services/LUT-Transportation/Bike-Ped%2011-8-06.pdf)

So it does appear that bikes are not to be ridden on the sidewalk specifically on the Sellwood - or at the very least giving pedestrians big time right of way since it wasn't written as an absolute "no".

And yeah, they absolutely need to have better signage on the bridge. Otherwise there's going to be a lot of people who think it's some sort of Critical Mass ride w/ bikes trucking slowly across the bridge.

Rixtir
07-26-2007, 12:25 PM
The bridge is operated by Multnomah County, so I would guess if there is an ordinance, it would be in the MCC. I just tried a quick search of the Multnomah County Code, but couldn't find an ordinance. It may be that I'm just not looking in the right section, or there may not be a Multnomah ordinance. Another possibility that comes to mind is Trimet, although I doubt they have anything to do with the bridge.

As far as the trails, they're probably regulated by a city department-- PDOT, or Recreation.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-26-2007, 12:42 PM
Thanks for that link. It appears that even the County Commissioners don't know whether it's illegal to ride on the Sellwood Bridge sidewalk. "Scott Cohen asked if it was illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk. Mr. Abrahamson responded that in this case it may be viewed that way..." What the hell does that mean? It's either illegal or it's not. I'm starting to suspect that there is no ordinance and that they just put the signs up because it is virtually impossible to yield to a ped on the bridge sidewalk without getting off.

Rixtir
07-26-2007, 12:46 PM
I'm starting to suspect that there is no ordinance and that they just put the signs up because it is virtually impossible to yield to a ped on the bridge sidewalk without getting off.Me too.

I suppose they could easily pass an ordinance, and I don't see why they haven't. As far as I can tell, Abrahamson is just blowing smoke, and there is no law-- but probably should be.

wyeast
07-26-2007, 01:02 PM
I don't particularly mind that it's just a "rule" and not a "law". The way I see it, as AO's mentioned, by directing bikes off the sidewalk, they're trying to avoid

a) Bikes being unable to yield right of way to pedestrians (against the law) without:

b) Abruptly hopping off the sidewalk into the roadway and into immediate traffic (also against the law)

but without the muss and fuss of the mere presence of the bike on the sidewalk as being something worth being ticketed over. Particularly with the narrow roadway making it significantly more hazardous for a particularly slow bicycle (i.e. kids / exhausted commuter) than someplace that has a decent shoulder or bike lane to take refuge in.

How many pedestrians are on the Sellwood Bridge during the course of the day? If it's very crowded, I could see the need for a law like we have w/ downtown where it's assumed that it's such a constant concern that bikes have to stay off (the sidewalk) all the time. Of course, they're probably also hoping/assuming that the bridge will soon be replaced/retrofitted/etc so that any "no bikes on the bridge" law would have to be soon repealed anyway.

At least, one could dream. ;)

wsbob
07-26-2007, 03:19 PM
The Sellwood Bridge roadway is very narrow, and the traffic naturally tries to drive faster than it should. It's not a place for any but quick, strong cyclists that can maintain at least 15 mph.

Without the weight of car and truck traffic driving it to bits, would this bridge have acceptable structural integrity to safely stand up by itself for some years to come? If so, build the new bridge to be well equipped for cars, bikes and pedestrians and leave the Sellwood exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians.

wyeast
07-26-2007, 04:17 PM
From what I understand, the bridge is fundamentally reaching the end of it's service life. Would it be easier to repair/maintain without bearing the loads of motor traffic? Perhaps. But it's still in need of a lot of repairs/reinforcements to bring it to a state where it'd be considered for long-term service. Some of those things have no bearing on whether or not buses and trucks continue to use the bridge, such as seismic reinforcement and dealing with the sliding slope issue on the west end.

Then of course there's realignment of the roads, but that would probably be necessary with a new/replacement bridge anyway.

Repurposing an old bridge for non-motor traffic is a neat idea. They're saying some of the same stuff about the old Sauvie Island Bridge. Would it be easier/cheaper than building a new one? I have no idea, I haven't seen any specifics about the extent of damage or the slope problem. Sadly I think the answer will take a while, as nobody has money to fix our roads and bridges. A little ironic that part of our capacity problem with the Sellwood Bridge now is because they were concerned with costs back then, too. ;)

beelnite
07-27-2007, 02:26 PM
I absolutely love the idea of using the existing bridges as mixed use paths. If I interpret a recent study by PSU Resident Commuting Genius Prof. Jennifer Dill - MUP's encourage alternate modes of transportation more effectively than bike lanes.

(Check out Dill at: http://web.pdx.edu/~jdill/research.htm)

Maybe as an interim solution you could propose to the Commish they lower the vehicle speed limit on the Sellwood to 15-25 mph - since they are mandating bikes off the sidewalk? Or is it already? It's been awhile since I've been over there. In addition - how about a sign "requesting" vehicles yield to bicycles?

Unburst
07-29-2007, 02:51 PM
I tried riding over Sellwood bridge roadway, never again.

I ride on the sidewalk at a slow pace and give way to pretty much everybody.

SpeedRacer
07-29-2007, 08:45 PM
Hey, all you Spandexed dudes and dudettes:

Though you got a lot of responses, I thought this was a rather low quality troll.

wsbob
07-29-2007, 10:27 PM
The importance of the issue far exceeds the significance of harmless nicknames. I'm so glad I don't have to be crossing that bridge, or having to deal with the small percentage of the total number of cyclists on it that are obnoxious, ignorant clods. I suppose though, to some extent, it's inevitable that some of those people are there, given that cycling is generally open to the same cross section of humanity that other forms of transportation are.

An ongoing, concerted effort directed towards raising awareness of unique location related challenges that cyclists face in safely and conscientiously negotiating various routes, needs to be sustained and probably expanded. This is probably most effectively a word of mouth, learn by experience, etiquette thing.

One thing is for sure though...if there ever was a bridge crossing that was going to play a part in causing people to get tense, the Sellwood is it. It's pretty to look at from up north at the marina, and I'll miss that when it's gone, but the whole crossing thing is not pretty at all.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-30-2007, 07:12 AM
For me the issue is that the roadway is one that is supposed to be open for cyclists to ride on (a fact that is all the more important because of its place as an important link in the local bicycle transportation infrastructure), and cyclists are effectively kept off the roadway because those who dare ride the bridge roadway are terrorized (yes, terrorized) by motorists. Drivers' attitudes when crossing the Sellwood Bridge epitomizes what must change if cyclists are ever going to become a viable transportation option for more people.

steelsreal
07-30-2007, 10:33 AM
Why not have a 'bikes on roadway' sign. Like the ones along the coast before entering the tunnels. A nice blinking yellow light as well.

Should not cost too much, and would at least make our right to use the roadway known.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-30-2007, 12:02 PM
Why not have a 'bikes on roadway' sign. Like the ones along the coast before entering the tunnels. A nice blinking yellow light as well.

Should not cost too much, and would at least make our right to use the roadway known.

That's a great idea.

wrinkles
07-30-2007, 01:39 PM
Truth to tell, I motor over this bridge more often than I cycle it. I live in Hillsdale and often must fetch children from Woodstock School.
I really like the idea of a blinking light and sign noting 'bikes in roadway', and maybe 'sharrows' striping as well. But I must warn you die-hard, non-motoring cyclists that the mentality of drivers once they get onto the Sellwood Bridge may not be kind-hearted. As commuters, by the time they reach the bridge, they already are frazzled by stacked-up traffic east and west. And then they are supposed to slow to max. 30 mph on the creaky bridge (should be slower, IMHP, and most go faster, as we well know), and thus they are in no mood to accommodate us darn slow-poke healthy gas saving two-wheeling freaks.
FWIW, I didn't intend any trolling labels that might offend in my original post. It was late, and I was just using a silly opening. I actually meant 'lycra', not that it matters. And I do wear it, sometimes, when biking longish distances.
As a newbie on this forum (but neither to bicycling nor to Portland, where I was born) I am extremely impressed by the thoughtful, reasoned posts I have read here so far. I look forward to more discussion.
Wrinkles

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-30-2007, 01:52 PM
.... I must warn you die-hard, non-motoring cyclists that the mentality of drivers once they get onto the Sellwood Bridge may not be kind-hearted.

That's quite a gift for understatement you have. Motorists taking their frustrations out on cyclists is the sole reason why this conversation is even taking place.

wyeast
07-30-2007, 03:56 PM
Truth be told, the frustrations get pointed at anyone, whether it be a slow moving cyclist, a pedestrian, a delivery van, an ice cream truck, or a '64 Plymouth Valiant with the left blinker left running.

Everyone's in a hurry, and everyone gets pissed off if someone is "in their way".

Attornatus_Oregonensis
07-31-2007, 06:11 AM
Truth be told, the frustrations get pointed at anyone, whether it be a slow moving cyclist, a pedestrian, a delivery van, an ice cream truck, or a '64 Plymouth Valiant with the left blinker left running.

Everyone's in a hurry, and everyone gets pissed off if someone is "in their way".

True enough. But cyclists are far more easily killed or seriously injured by this sort of behavior than those in motor vehicles. And because they're on the road more, they're even more vulnerable than pedestrians. It's basically enforcement of a personal agenda through intimidation and threat of bodily violence.

wrinkles
07-31-2007, 08:35 AM
I don't really believe that all motorists are out for bicyclists' blood. Please, give 'em some credit for sheer ignorance; distraction by cell phone, fast food or car audio; or just plain confusion. Some are simply incapable of aiming their multi-ton vehicles down the center of the car lane. From my car I frequently shudder as I witness vehicles in front of me straddling the the bike lane stripe, as if the stripe were a magnetic steering guide. Recently, when cycling in a marked bike lane downtown toward the Hawthorne Bridge, I was squeezed by a car wandering into my bike lane. As I yelled and caught up with the driver, shouting to her to 'move over', I could plainly see on the face of the elderly driver that she didn't have a clue.
I've often wondered if there would be more awareness and empathy for cyclists if more motorists rode bikes at least some of the time. I think they forget just how much of a danger they pose to cyclists.

Duncan
08-02-2007, 03:08 PM
I don't really believe that all motorists are out for bicyclists' blood. Please, give 'em some credit for sheer ignorance; distraction by cell phone, fast food or car audio; or just plain confusion. Some are simply incapable of aiming their multi-ton vehicles down the center of the car lane.


This reminds me of the difficulty of obtaining a DL in other countries- in the Nteherlands it takes hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to get a lisc... maybe thats something we need to work on here? That and gettingthe ODL to be more agressive about pulling the liscences of people unable to drive?