Hawthorne Bridge gets new markings

Posted by on November 21st, 2005 at 2:30 pm


[Update: more photos of the markings]

Multnomah County work crews restriped the bike/ped path on the popular Hawthorne Bridge this morning. The new markings were done in an effort to “reduce conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists” according to the official press release (PDF). Here’s more from the release:

“On a sloped portion of the north sidewalk on the westbound SE Madison Avenue ramp approaching the bridge, a line will be painted down the center of the sidewalk to separate bicyclists and pedestrians. The line will direct pedestrians to use the outer portion of the sidewalk and bicyclists to use the road side of the sidewalk. The potential for higher bicycle speeds on this segment of the sidewalk warrants the installation of these improvements to provide a safer environment for all users.”

Some bike advocates are less than pleased with these markings and don’t feel that sufficient input was taken from the bike community. These photos shows that the bike lane is very narrow (not wide enough for a trailer) and there is also concern that the lane marking material will be slippery when wet.

Apparently the “Bridge Advisory Committee” mentioned in the press release failed to solicit any technical input on the design of the bike lanes and only one bicyclist was present at any of the meetings.

Here’s what one prominent bike advocate had to say:

“I am all for walkers feeling safe on the bridge, but the cost shouldn’t be borne just by cyclists. We should be talking how to make more efficient use of the whole 4 lane bridge, not just the margins where we cram together all of the ‘lesser modes.'”

I’m just surprised I hadn’t heard anyone talking about this before this morning…sort of feels like it was done without much input from the community. If you have concerns or comments about these new markings email Matthew Larsen, bike and ped planner for Multnomah County. His phone number is (503) 988-5050 ext. 29637.

[photos courtesy of Janis McDonald]

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    Frank Dufay November 21, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    As a pedestrian, it doesn’t make me feel safer, it makes me feel I’ve lost sidewalk to a dedicated traffic lane.

    As a bicyclist who tends to go slower here, when I commute, it now feels like there’s no room to pull over and let faster riders pass.

    Not a terribly thoughtful solution, in my opinion.

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    Russell November 21, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    I’m sure with unlimited room there could have been a better solution, but this will do for now. I’ve seen too many peds walking four abreast daring you to run them over, and plenty of bikers going fast enough that they seem up to the challenge.

    The main problem as Frank points out is going to be the different speeds of the bicyclists. We’ll just have to work that out over time.

    As for myself, I already think the bridge is too packed and I’ve been usually taking Burnside instead for a couple years, so it won’t effect me as much.

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    sibyl November 21, 2005 at 3:53 pm

    They did a terrible job of marking where to ride while they were painting today. The right lane of traffic was marked off and so I assumed I would still be able to ride up the ramp but it was very suddenly apparent that was not possible. I wasnt really sure where to ride so I stayed in the right lane until it turned into the steel grate. Then I had to get off my bike and carry it up onto the sidewalk again. It worked out okay but there were several of us cyclists wondering what they had expected us to do.

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    Alan November 21, 2005 at 4:00 pm

    Does this now make it one-way for cyclists? Last year, heading East, I was hit head-on by another cyclist weaving in and out of peds and then abruptly ran into me. I flew into the street in front cars and ended up with back and neck injures. Also, my frame was cracked, front wheel destroyed and I broke my helmet. The other cyclist took off after saying she was sorry.
    I’ve had close calls a number of times with other wrong-way cyclists. If this means Hawthorn brigde is offically one-way, I’m glad.

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    Steve Kirkendall November 21, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    I recall hearing years ago that “one-way bikes on the road side, two-way pedestrians on the rail side” was the plan for Hawthorne all along, but the county couldn’t think of a simple non-verbal sign that could express that concept clearly enough.

    The split makes sense to me. On the whole, I think the new markings are an improvement over no markings at all.

    I wish the stripe was dashed instead of solid. A solid line just seems to imply more of a separation than there’ll actually be. Slow bikers will want to let fast bikers by. Pedestrians will wander across the line occasionally. It’ll happen. I just hope the cops don’t start writing tickets for riding/walking on the wrong side of the line.

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    Elicia November 21, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    The bridge has been one-way for bikes and two-way for peds for a long time now.

    The current solution om the Hawthorne Bridge, while a good solution in concept, completely fails to adhere to reasonable technical standards. I am incredibly disappointed in the County (again, I might add) for failing to include an engineer in the Bridge Advisory Committee. Once again, bikes get screwed.

    Please let Matt Larsen know how you feel.

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    James November 21, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    i think this is a great idea. is there a problem with one way for bicycles? is there a problem with a dedicated bicycle lane with a dedicated area where pedestrians should be? this is true throughout europe and helps to reduce conflict and accidents.

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    Caroline November 21, 2005 at 6:14 pm

    In junior high my history teacher gave a pop quiz on the first day. He handed out a paper with a medium-sized box printed on it and asked us to do a drawing. The entire class failed. Nobody drew outside the box.

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    nick November 21, 2005 at 9:53 pm

    On the plus side, rumble strips are gone! Well, not all of them but the ones on that section are. Does anyone know whether this is a permanent change or if they are just temporarily gone?

    I, for one, am glad that the lines are there. Pedestrians have been all over that sidewalk due to no fault of their own. This makes it much clearer.

    Sure, it would be nice if the bike lane was wider but that ain’t gonna happen until we relegate the cars to two lanes only. Which, of course, I am all for.

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    Jonathan Maus November 22, 2005 at 7:38 am

    Here are some phone numbers and e-mails you should voice your concerns too.

    County chair: Diane Linn
    Phone: (503) 988-3308, fax (503) 988-3093
    E-mail: mult.chair@co.multnomah.or.us

    She is our district commissioner

    Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey
    Phone: (503) 988-5220, fax (503) 988-5440
    E-mail: district1@co.multnomah.or.us

    in charge of Transportation for the county
    Lonnie J. Roberts
    Phone: (503) 988-5213
    Fax: (503) 988-5262

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  • […] In the past 24 hours I have heard from several reliable sources that the new Hawthorne Bridge markings were done with little to no input from cyclists. One bike advocacy insider went so far as to say: “I am incredibly disappointed in the County (again, I might add) for failing to include an engineer in the Bridge Advisory Committee. Once again, bikes get screwed.” […]

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    Don Park November 22, 2005 at 9:20 am

    the fracking rumble strips are gone! yes! i ride west everyday on the madison overpass and turn at that intersection onto the esplinade.

    i can say that the new lane markings are an improvement. most importantly, it makes it clear that peds should keep at least part of the sidewalk clear.

    the bike strip feels narrow and i would rather have more of the line dashed since i have to get over a bit earlier than the current dashed markings allow.

    the very visible LOOK markings for pedestrians walking up the esplinade ramp an onto the sidewalk is also a welcome addition.

    overall its an improvement.

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    Jim F November 22, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Wow. I ride over the Hawthorne Bridge every day and not once have the “rumble strips” ever bothered me. I fail to see why those would cause an issue. Unless of course you’re upset because they make you slow down before coming up to a potentially dangerous merging area, which I imagine is what they were intended to do.

    I would not like the new lanes if they extended over the entire bridge. But they are very short. It should not be a problem to slow down for 10 seconds while you navigate through this. In fact, my initial reaction upon seeing them this morning was “Hey, this is a cool idea!”

    I can understand people being upset because they feel cyclists were not properly consulted, but it seems to me that the city got it right with these new lanes.

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    Severt November 22, 2005 at 9:41 am

    So the lane is so narrow that it might slow down the faster bikes wanting to get around us slower bikes? Sounds good to me! I’m one of those riders who are sick and tired of the lame iwannabelance bicyclists creating danger to cyclists and peds alike by riding 20+ mph on a mixed use path, flying up my butt with yells of “on your left” and then expecting me to move to the right into incoming pedestrian traffic.

    If these new markings slow bicyclists down, I’m all for it.

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    Caroline November 22, 2005 at 9:47 am

    On your left, Severt!

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    Michael November 22, 2005 at 10:28 am

    As a cyclist and pedestrian who uses the Hawthorne Bridge every day I generally welcome any intelligent effort to improve conditions.

    I have not seen the striping yet, but will venture commenting based on what I have read so far.

    Before the striping was done I had thought something like this would be a generally good idea.

    On bike, there is an ever present danger of a pedestrian suddenly moving into the bike’s path. This is of most concern during good weather when children use the bridge. The kids and their guardians are often infrequent users and don’t understand the dangers they can create. Often, too, groups of walkers will spread across that entire lane(s) making for hazardous bike passings. They don’t seem to get the danger they impose on the bikes who have only a tiny path left to their use. Lane markings should help out with this.

    On foot I have fewer complaints. Most bikers and walkers use the bridge courteously. A few bikers are overly aggressive. These are often the Lance wannabees or infrequent bike messengers straying from downtown. These hard riders need to be more considerate when using the scarce, shared resource that a river crossing is. This is one mile in their trip where they can and should slow down to a speed that is safe for everyone. Lanes are likely to be of some help with this, perhaps by annoying the aggressive riders to the point where they will move to another bridge.

    Question: I read perhaps a year ago that an entire motor lane of the Morrison Bridge was going to be taken out and given over to bikes. Has that idea been killed?

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    Kronda November 22, 2005 at 3:24 pm

    I’m concerned about all the whining I’m hearing from cyclists. There seems to be a lot of ‘glass-half-empty’ complaints. What is the problem? The way I see it, the route that I ride everyday anyway now has pretty strips on it. And the markings will hopefully encourage peds to not ‘hog’ the entire sidewalk.

    As for faster bikers who need to pass. The LWB’s (Lance Wanna Be’s) can just WAIT A DAMN MINUTE. Isn’t this the attitude drivers get about being slowed down that pisses us off as cyclists? We’re talking about LESS THAN A QUARTER MILE OF SIDEWALK here people! Get a freakin’ grip. We are so spoiled here that I guess it’s easy to take the fact that anyone cares about this at all, for granted. Why not quit bitching and be grateful we don’t live in LA.

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    Jonathan Maus November 22, 2005 at 3:32 pm

    Kronda, I understand where you’re coming from. In general, I’m not as concerned about the markings as the fact that the County got only token input from advocacy experts or the general community before doing this.

    These markings are OK for most people, and that’s great. But if they weren’t (like the rumble strips) we’d be stuck with a poor solution that we’d have to live with indefinitely.

    It’s precisely because people care about little things like this that make this city so un-LA…and thank goodness for that!

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    Michael November 22, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    Comment post actual viewing. I took a look at the striped portion and think it is, all in all, a pretty good effort. The only part of the entire bridge/viaduct striped is a part where too fast bikes have had contention with oblivious walkers.

    I bike in to downtown very early mornings, in the night, when the bridge is lit with mono-chromatic orange light. In this same section of the path there is the very disturbing visual effect of the sidewalk curb almost invisibly blending with the street level pavement. When the put down the middle stripe they also put a stripe on this dangerous edge. That is a good thing.

    Regarding the county’s disengagement from dialog with the community – shame on them. They can and will do better with pressure from us.

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    Dabby November 22, 2005 at 5:56 pm

    Ok, use the bridge sidewalks alot, like us all. When I am coming across a bridge, 3/4 of the time, I am working, and late. So, I tend to haul ass. I tend to pass alot of people on bridges. I hate it. I don’t want to.
    But, I also don’t want a 300 dollar ticket for riding on the roadbed, which is safer for me.
    Also, I have been in a bad wreck on the hawthorne. It was a time, back in the day, of narrow sidewalks, and headphoned joggers.
    I would like to appologize , ahead of time, if you feel that I go to fast on the bridges.
    I would also like to say, that it can be very dangerous to go slow across a bridge sidewalk on a bike. It is all about tracking. The slower you go , the more you tend to weave….. Food for thought.
    I do not think that these new markings on the bridge are either effective, nor will change the problems.
    The slow will now be going slower, because their lane is cut down to a minimum, on the road bed side. I am sorry, but the timid are now going to be more so.
    then come the fast rollers, late for work, exercising on the way to work, whatever. They now become no faster than the timid, because there is( if you pay attention to the markings ), no places to pass.
    So now we have a nice line of bikes, slowly rolling acros the bridge, with pedestrians. We all know how unpredictable they can be. Oh then the joggers passing the pedestrians in the bike lane, with the headphones(or World Off Switch as I like to call em).
    I see More KAOS happening on the hawthorne.
    But, truly, nothing can go on that is worse than the bike light at the west end of the Broadway bridge.
    It changes when it wants, it is timed bad. The intersection is a death trap. I was cut off by a SEMI, and ended up rolling with my hand on the trailer, in order to stay up.
    If anyone , with any power reads this, WE NEED THIS INTERSECTION FIXED!!!!! Now please. I beleive we can make the city, or is it county, it is on the bridge, fix this.
    I don’t want to hear one day, about what happened up on the broadway bridge. I am not kidding about this, every other day I fear for my life there.
    I know my posts are long, and rambling sometimes, and hostile alot of the time.
    I have a lot to say…….

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    Jonathan Maus November 22, 2005 at 9:01 pm

    Dabby, Thanks for your rambling. I find it very interesting and informative. As for your concern about signal timing on the Broadway Bridge, call 823-SAFE and tell them what’s going on. They definitely listen and if you read this post, you’ll see that it actually works!

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    Dabby November 22, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    Hey, thats great, I will inform them of what I persee as a problem. Fabulous…..
    By the way…….
    I like bikes. In case you didn’t know.

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  • […] I feel like I’ve opened a can worms. My posts about the the new bike/ped markings on the Hawthorne Bridge have gotten many comments and I received an email from someone from the County who said my recent post, “frivolously demeans the efforts of everyone on the County bike and ped Committee.” Then his email was CC’d to all sorts of prominent folks whom I have much respect for. Ouch. […]

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    Steve Hoyt November 22, 2005 at 11:31 pm

    I have yet to ride on the newly striped Hawthorne but I have DREAMT about a ped/bike divider for the past year. Riding over the Hawthorne and Broadway are peak experiences for me, so this feels like icing on the cake. I think all of us – peds, cyclists, auto drivers – are careless sometimes and we all need to just remember to be a bit more careful. And chill out yo! Unless your sweetheart is giving birth or there’s an earthquake, there’s no reason not to just slow down instead of being aggro about passing unsafely. 45 seconds is not going to make any real difference.

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  • The Cycling Dude February 12, 2006 at 11:56 am

    Portland Bridge Controversy 2

    Jonathan Maus, of BikePortland, was all over this story, like oil on a drive chain, back in November. He opinionates on the subject, shares what others are saying, and includes a link to the Official Press Release, and Photos! The

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  • […] The new bike/pedestrian lane markings on the bridge have helped a lot. But cyclists in a hurry still court danger by passing on the right, and lunchtime power-walkers are still oblivious to all other users. […]

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  • […] the bridge span where a curb separates a sidewalk from the bikeway, there are no pavement markings (like on the Hawthorne) to clearly delineate the biking space from the walking space. (The County says they plan to add […]

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