Noticed an article in the Oregonian yesterday about the upcoming 75th anniversary of the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland.
Given the controversial recent history of this bridge, one paragraph jumped out at me:
“In 2005, the Oregon Department of Transportation spent nearly $43 million to complete a major overhaul of the bridge that included new decking, replacement of worn cables, an upgrading of seismic features, better pedestrian and bicycle access, and reinstallation of historic street lamps.”
“Better pedestrian and bicycle access”? Hmm. Unless bikes and peds used to be prohibited altogether I fail to see how four motor vehicle lanes that have no shoulder (or bike lane) and come just inches away from a narrow sidewalk could ever be referred to as “better.”
Sure it’s a nice looking bridge, unfortunately it’s just too dangerous for most cyclists to use and too spooky for many pedestrians (ever had a freight truck buzz by you at 45 mph?).
I hope ODOT doesn’t think we have forgotten about their transgressions. Bike advocates (both citizen and professional) are busy, active people and I’m afraid some of us have moved on to other important things.
I heard ODOT might consider “sharrow” lane markings on the bridge and I know the BTA has bugged them about keeping the sidewalk clear of debris. But what else? Is anyone reminding ODOT that we are not satisfied with their decision?
How can we hold ODOT accountable, get some safety improvements made, and make sure something like this never happens again?
With a rapid influx of new residents in St. Johns, a bike-friendly head of their Neighborhood Association (Joe Adamski), and a 75th anniversary event on the horizon, perhaps now is a good time to make something happen.
Or, we could just do another naked ride across the bridge and hope for the best.
UPDATE: According to a reliable source, the guy at ODOT who inherited the St. Johns Bridge mess is a nice guy who has in the past expressed interest in sharrows. Here’s his contact info:
- Charles Sciscione
Please consider sending him your feedback and concern for bicycle safety on the bridge. Perhaps if he can demonstrate enough community interest and support for sharrows he will be able to move the conversation forward at ODOT.