Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bikes to get more breathing room on Hawthorne Bridge approach

Posted by on March 30th, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Southeast Madison Ave — which is the westbound approach to the Hawthorne Bridge and one of the Portland’s most crowded bikeways — is slated for an expansion.

The current six foot bike lane will be widened to ten feet. I just rode by and snapped a few photos:

Notice PDOT’s spray paint marking where the new lane stripes will go.

This project was identified by the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) through a funding process managed by PDOT’s Community and Schools Traffic Safety Partnership (CSTSP).

According to CSTSP staffer Greg Raisman, the new lane will shrink back down to its previous width when it merges onto the sidewalk, just prior to the bus stop near the bridge only be widened for the uphill portion of SE Madison, to facilitate passing as slower riders settle in for the incline.

The new widened lane is expected to be completed within a few months.

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  • Tomas Quinones March 30, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Hurray! Hurrah! Now it it will be all the safer to pull a full-size bed via bike trailer without blocking cars.

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  • Jessica Roberts March 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Yay! I’ve been hearing about this for years, and I’m so glad it’s finally going in! That’s such a bottleneck, since the signal at MLK causes bikes to back up, and then faster riders get stuck behind slower riders. This will help people sort themselves out much more smoothly.

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  • Michelle March 30, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    All right! This is the kind of world-class bike infrastructure that really makes a difference. The notion that all bicyclists – of different speeds, interests and abilities – should share one tiny space is just not right.

    Thanks PDOT and CSTSP and PBAC! Best acronyms a girl could ever have.

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  • P Fin March 30, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Perhaps a “slower cyclists keep right” sign is in order as well?

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  • Cecil March 30, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    I noticed those markings this morning and hoped that was what they meant! Yay!

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  • peder horner March 30, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    P Fin – excellent idea!

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  • Klixi March 31, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Totally. I’m a slow cyclist and feel really bad when people with a lot of momentum have to slow down because of me. Putting a sign up telling slow riders to stay on on the right is a great idea for myself and faster riders!

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  • Sasquatch March 31, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Great idea! Just another reason why Portland is one of the best places to bike (and live!) in North America.

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  • Todd B March 31, 2007 at 11:29 am

    And for phase 3, how about road dieting this bridge crossing to move car traffic into the inner lane and converting the outer lane to bike only (with an new bike friendly surface)?

    This would make for a much safer bridge – especially for pedestrians.

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  • Chris Cotrell March 31, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Todd: give it a couple years. If current trends continue, there will be no choice but to do as you propose. The one big problem I can think of is how to deal with buses—as I understand it, two buses cannot pass on the inside of the bridge.

    Perhaps we could have a road diet only on the westbound lanes, and turn the outer lane into a two-way bike path. Or somehow get bike traffic onto the inner part of the bridge.

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  • Burr March 31, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve seen the markings for the new lane/extra space and think it’s great, I only have one comment and that is: I think the new lane as marked ends too soon, it should continue a litte further beyond the topographic crest of the viaduct approach, a lot of times there is still passing activity beyond the crest of the hill.

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  • Dabby March 31, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    I must remind you all that the Hawthorne Bridge has had work done to it in the past to make it ready, or more prepared for, crossing rail traffic… It was closed for almost a year, partly due to such preparation…

    The dream of closing a lane to only cycle traffic is just that, a dream…

    There are plans for the Hawthorne bridge that we neither know enough about, nor will like very well……

    Plus, even if there was no plan to run light rail over the bridge, they would never give up a precious car lane to make it all bikes.

    We are lucky to have the widened bike lanes……

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  • Todd B April 1, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Yes I know it will not happen soon nor be easy to press for less car space.

    The planning tool of rationing public space is an effective and necessary one once a facility has too many users competing for limited space.

    Perhaps the outer lanes could be converted sooner if they are restricted to bikes & transit (& perhaps scooters). (This would mitigate Chris’ point in item 10 – one that I was not aware of.) Thus the outside lanes would be moving a much higher number of people vs. vehicles during the prime bicycling weather and provide improved transit headways during all other times of the year. Or perhaps this could be a more limited temporal restriction…one triggered by crowded (unsafe/ high conflict) conditions of the walkway, thus from May to October during commute hours the inside lanes are the only lanes open to cars.

    Perhaps the Breakfast of the Bridge crew (or another group) can organize a ‘take back a lane’ party protest (massing) during Pedal Palooza (or some other event – Portland’s Platinum Party Protest?!)) to make this point. They may be able to hold onto two of the outer lanes with some of the thousands of AM bike commuters while allowing motorized traffic to still pass over the bridge’s inner lanes.

    Another option would be a commuter clot event…have slugs of riders ride slowly in the outer lanes throughout the peak periods every 2 to 5 minutes on each Monday AM. (These bikes should only have fat tires to run on the bridge decking.)

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  • Sherry April 1, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    yay! I am so happy this project is finally happening!

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  • Dabby April 1, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Massing, and or clogging sections of our streets does more bad than good, and mainly works to shed a negative light on cycling in general…..

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  • Donna April 2, 2007 at 5:44 am

    I agree with Burr about it needing to be wider a bit past the topographic crest. When I’m carrying everything but the kitchen sink into work on my bike some days, I am definitely slow and thus drive all you fast cyclists bonkers a bit past that crest.

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  • DK April 2, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Next project should be to move the bus stop back a block to se 6th & Madison. There always seems to be an over-excited bus driver that needs to cut all the bikes off as they rumble over Grand to the bridge.

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  • Elly April 2, 2007 at 9:28 am

    This lane extension sure looks like a step in the right direction. Good on the county for thinking outside the box.

    I love Todd’s idea of taking over a lane for a morning commute + breakfast. Though we should try first to get a permit, so that it could last longer than 5 minutes plus however much time it takes for a couple dozen donut-eating cyclists to get booked.

    Any friends here on the county level who can advise us on this possibility?

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  • Jonathan Maus April 2, 2007 at 9:33 am


    I know reader and commenter Austin Ramsland sits on the Multo. Co. Bike and Ped. Advisory Committee. Perhaps he can tap into that group and/or get it on the agenda of one of their next meetings.

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