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Rush hour crash on Hawthorne Bridge raises questions about bike traffic

Posted by on May 7th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Traffic on the Hawthorne.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge can be bad. And I don’t mean car traffic.

Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator received an email from someone who witnessed a horrifying, nearly tragic crash on the Hawthorne Bridge during last Wednesday’s evening rush hour. The witness, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote a detailed, eloquent description of the incident as well as his or her thoughts about how to address the underlying issues.

I’ve posted the letter here in its entirety.

“The woman was already riding close to the edge and the guy was now practically touching her. Sure enough, he bumped her and she lost control of her bike.”

I wanted to pass on some suggestions about cycling on the Hawthorne Bridge after I witnessed a horrific accident on the Hawthorne Bridge yesterday. I am still a bit traumatized by what I saw but maybe you’ve heard of these things happening before. For me, it was a shock. But let me first give you some context, which will explain my anger over this. I used to cycle home across the bridge a little after 4:00 PM, when I got off work. It was always a good ride – not many people and relaxing. Then last March, I switched to a new schedule and started to ride home after I got off at 5:00 PM. The difference was like night and day.

Around 5:15 PM –mostly in the summer — the bridge is clogged with people. You can imagine the scene – slow cyclists, fast cyclists, walkers, people with strollers…it’s a zoo. I was stunned by the behavior of some cyclists, weaving in and out of the crowd, not giving any warning, appearing next to you all of a sudden. It was not a relaxing ride anymore. Rather, I had to work hard at staying off to the side, constantly looking to the side, in the front, and the back. In short, it’s one of the most dangerous stretches of a cycling route that I’ve seen. (More background, I’ve been a year-round cycling commuter since 1984 when there were just a handful of us riding to work, so my perspective is maybe longer than other people).

Snowy commute-5

Even in the snow, the Hawthorne
draws heavy bike traffic.

After I started riding home at 5:00, I started to tell my fellow cyclists at work about this situation and said that this was so bad that someday, someone would get either injured or killed. It was bound to happen given the volumes and the behavior I was seeing. Then yesterday, my prediction came true right in front of me. Around 5:15 PM, I was riding east on the bridge. A young woman was in front of me and I was off to the right. I heard a kind of grunt or something unintelligible before a young guy rode past me. I was riding at a medium pace, due to the traffic on the bridge but this guy was riding a lot faster than I was. Because the woman was riding about two feet from the edge of the sidewalk, the guy moved to the middle. Then someone must have appeared in front of the two of them because I saw him start to move closer to the woman, presumably to avoid what was in front of them (rather than backing off and riding behind the woman).

I immediately thought that this was not a good situation. There also was a car almost next to them but thankfully a little behind the two people. The woman was already riding close to the edge and the guy was now practically touching her. Sure enough, he bumped her and she lost control of her bike. In my mind, I can still see her wobbling at the edge of the sidewalk, then fall onto the metal grate and lurch right in front of the car. How the driver managed to brake so quickly is beyond me but somehow, she stopped right before hitting the cyclist. I didn’t know that as I only saw the cyclist go flying in front of the car.

Everyone stopped of course and ran to her aid. She was sprawled across the metal grate, the car a couple of feet from her. I’ll spare you the details but her face was a mess. Let me say though that there’s probably still some blood today where her face hit the grate. A group of people helped her to the sidewalk; someone called 911; and the police and the ambulance came. I stayed to offer my first hand account of the accident, as did others who also witnessed the event. After getting home, I didn’t feel very well, couldn’t eat, and still am upset about what I saw.

Story continues below


new Hawthorne Bridge markings

Lane markings were installed on the
Hawthorne’s shared path in late 2005.

I was and am still very angry about this because it was completely avoidable. The guy who hit the woman was riding like an idiot and he deserves whatever punishment or lawsuit that he gets. There was absolutely no need for him to ride the way he did, none whatsoever. At least he stopped and stayed around. But his kind of riding – and he’s not the only one — need to be addressed.

Thus my suggestions:

1. Initiate an education program about riding etiquette and safety during rush hour. It’s not just the bridge but some other streets as well.

2. Explore the installation safety features (signs, stripes ??) or something on the bridge to reinforce the need to ride safely.

3. Create penalties or rule violations so that dangerous cyclists can be ticketed and punished.

“Maybe the city needs to back off on this push to get more cyclists on the road until an extensive education and training program for street riding is initiated.”

And finally, a suggestion that I know won’t have much traction but here goes — maybe the city needs to back off on this push to get more cyclists on the road until an extensive education and training program for street riding is initiated. At this point Roger, I’d say that the cycling capacity of our streets is being exceeded by the collective stupidity of some cyclists. An extreme statement perhaps but after what I saw yesterday (and see every weekday during the summer afternoons), there is some truth to it.

Not sure what you can do but I had to get this off my chest and hope that something positive will come of this.

This is a disturbing incident which could and should signal a tipping point for the way we treat bike traffic.

Ironically, this incident occurred just a couple of weeks after NYC-based StreetFilms sang the praises of the heavy bike traffic we experience on a daily basis here — and chose the Hawthorne Bridge as the iconic example.

There have also been calls for years (most recently in light of the new StreetFilm) to make more room for bikes on some of the grated lanes on the Hawthorne Bridge that are currently used exclusively for accommodating car and bus traffic.

Do you ride in rush hour traffic on the Hawthorne? How do you navigate it? What solutions do you propose?

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

  • Jessica Roberts May 7, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    A small percentage of bicyclists behave badly, but I believe that if you see a chronic “behavior” problem you’re really seeing a facilities design problem. Either the facility is failing to appropriately signal to users their expected behavior, or it is failing to meet needs.

    I have long thought that the bikes vs. peds / bad bicyclists vs. other users conflict I hear about so much on the Hawthorne Bridge is primarily an indicator that that facility is FAR TOO SMALL for the number of users on it. (Not to mention all the people who would like to use it but avoid it because it’s too crowded).

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  • Wuss912 May 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I’m not familiar with the bridge but What the heck are you guys doing riding on the sidewalk…. isn’t that illegal?

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  • Paul Tay May 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Normally, I say mix ’em up. But, I will NOT roll on STEEL-grated lanes on the Hawthorne, motor vehicle traffic or not.

    When wet, it’s slippery. Been there. Dun dat.

    Everybody just NEEDS to slow down. Vegan Voodoo donut anyone?

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  • amos May 7, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    This is sad to hear. I hope it serves as a reminder to cyclists that it isn’t just their life they endanger when they make bad decisions.

    I hope the victim makes a swift recovery.

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  • shane May 7, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    This isn’t a bicycle problem. This is a congestion problem. You see this problem on busy streets with cars, you see the problem at Walmart with people, and now we have hit that point where we see it cyclist. Education most likely won’t help. There are stil people that drive like A**holes and they were “educated”, why would cyclist be any different.

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  • Corey May 7, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    This is my normal route home around the same time. A simple “On your left” by the fast passing cyclists would go a long way but so few offer the courtesy. This year has been worse than last so far.

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  • Paul Tay May 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    #1, Jessica, oh, fo’ shure, it’s a design issue, the steel-grated lanes. Yep, there needs to be more room for bikes. Maybe there’s a way to use traffic calming devices. But, isn’t the Hawthorne a draw bridge?

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  • Corey May 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Wuss912 the left side of the “sidewalk” is marked as a bike path on the Hawthorne Bridge.

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  • I drink the line May 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    So its the bridges fault bikers weave in and out of pedestrian traffic and cycle too close to other riders? Is it that same problem that causes them to not stop at stop signs and run red lights?

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  • Evan May 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    This would be an interesting time to bring up what traffic engineers call Level of Service (LOS). When a street reaches a certain minimum LOS (graded A-F), traffic engineers work to relieve the congestion by building more lanes. This is the basic argument for the 12-lane CRC. It would appear that the Hawthorne Bridge is approaching LOS F for bikes and peds during rush hour.
    When they say “build it and they will come” (also referred to as induced demand), now you know what they mean.
    They reconfigured a bridge to allow more-or-less equal treatment for bikes and peds, and what do you think happened? People started using it! This is certainly an unfortunate accident, but it does illustrate very well that if bicyclists and pedestrians are given the same level of access and mobility as cars, more people will walk and bike (and fewer will drive).

    This is not a condemnation of all the bikes on the Hawthorne Bridge (and elsewhere in town), it is a sign that Portland’s efforts to reduce primary dependence on the car are working! Imagine how bad traffic and parking would be if all those people were in cars.

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  • Joe Mansfield May 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Wow! – scary first hand account. As a bike commuter myself, i’ve had several near misses and even seen a friend get hit by a semi (she lived to tell the tale, but nonetheless terrifying). I agree that the pedestrian/bike density on the Hawthorne bridge during rush-hour is a safety issue, one which could be alleviated by better signage regarding direction of travel, and maybe passing rules. The raised sidewalk is separate enough from the car lane, but is designed for one-way travel, which is nearly never the case. I can recall numerous times when crossing the bridge, almost falling off the sidewalk due to pedestrians walking 4-abreast the wrong direction and not giving right-of-way.
    Perhaps more prominent direction arrows and a bold pedestrian/cyclist dividing line would improve the situation?

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  • amos May 7, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    @WUSS912: The Hawthorne bridge sidewalks are multi-use paths, seperated into bike/ped lanes.

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  • robbie May 7, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    This is a problem with bad cyclists, not the facilities. I am a cyclist and no matter how congested things are I would never race around somebody without warning, possibly creating a dangerous situation.

    Blaming the road takes responsibility from the cyclist involved. This cyclist should be prosecuted the same as any negligent driver would be. Cyclists, like motorists, should always be held accountable for their actions and while a wider road would be great, no excuses should be made for people riding like a dangerous piece of shit in the meantime. Share the road people, it’s not hard.

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  • Dutch May 7, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    put some money into converting the morrison bridge into bicycle friendly and the congestion would plummet.

    Wishing the lady a speedy recovery.

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  • Robert May 7, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    While expanding capacity is probably a long-term solution, it won’t help w/ today’s problem. It’s time to emphasize appropriate speeds during rush hour– enforcement and ticketing seems reasonable.

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  • david May 7, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    First, if the guy was riding too fast for conditions, he was wrong. Second, I‘m not sure education would solve the problem as caution would seem to be common sense but perhaps signage would serve as a reminder. Finally, I think that the configuration of the sidewalks on the Hawthorne is inherently dangerous. The designation of pedestrian and cycle lanes means that the usable width of the sidewalk for either group is cut in half to begin with. All traffic should keep right except to pass.

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  • Paul May 7, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Hopefully the Morrison improvements will help!

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  • Kronda May 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm


    I don’t think bad design excuses stupidity–especially when it puts other people in danger.

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  • Neighbor May 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    “I’d say that the driving capacity of our streets is being exceeded by the collective stupidity of some drivers.” … and has been for decades. Let’s compare the number of bike-on-bike incidents to the number of car-on-car incidents. I still feel safer riding on a bike/ped only facility than I do driving on a high capacity motor vehicle roadway.

    You’ll always find stupid and dangerous people no matter how much effort you put into education, enforcement, and infrastructure.

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  • FauxPorteur May 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Isthere a police report about this incident? I would assume so with facial lacerations involved. Who can we send “get well” cards to? Who is the jerk that did this? Does he have a criminal record?

    I myself have dealt with overly aggressive commuters (car drivers, bike riders, and TriMet drivers). With cyclists the biggest danger I see is from the “I ride a racing bike and wear spandex, I ride to and from work as fast as possible for exercise/training, I time myself every day, I would never put a bell on my sub-16lb carbon fiber bike” crowd.

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  • Mierda Bici May 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Maybe an “investigation” of how the car was at fault?

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  • maxadders May 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Remember, the author of this letter has chosen to remain anonymous. So I don’t know why we need to treat his account like the gospel truth– or, for that matter, use one accident as a “tipping point” for how people handle themselves on bikes. Queue the tired old arguments that bikes need to be taxed, ticketed, licensed, etc.

    The real problem here is that the Hawthorne has no safety barrier between the bike/ped and auto lanes. I’ve seen a fair number of bike accidents on other bridges, and nobody’s fallen in front of a moving car. Hawthorne, for handling so much traffic, should have something in place to keep this from happening.

    It’s sad that a bike commuter– or at least someone claiming to be one– wants to regulate the fun and freedom out of commuting by bike because he witnessed one unpleasant incident.

    Furthermore, I’m sure the cyclist who made contact with the crashee didn’t intend to hurt anyone. Mistakes happen, and there’s an infinite number of people lacking the letter-writer’s old-guy wisdom. The aggro rider realized his mistake and stopped to help. I doubt he’ll be riding so aggressively in the future. Put away your sabres…

    Also, keep in mind the thousands of people that cross the Hawthorne safely every day. This is an unfortunate accident, but nobody can deny that it’s an all-too common one.

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  • maxadders May 7, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    make that “NOT an all-too-common one”. blah.

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  • David May 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I disagree that this is either an infrastructure or congestion problem. Based on the account, it sounds like the actions of an individual caused the accident, not the surrounding environment.

    To put it in a different perspective, if somebody caused an accident on I5 because they couldn’t drive as fast as traffic conditions allowed, is that a call to widen the freeways? I would hope not.

    I think the most sensible call to action here is the first one, which is to initiate an etiquette program. There will always be idiots out there, but there will also a fair amount of people who just don’t understand how to ride safely (and politely) when around other riders.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like to go fast. That’s 90% of the fun of being on a bicycle, but I always want to ask the question: where are you going that’s so important that you have to put one or both of us in danger?

    Ride smart. Ride safe. Have fun.

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  • Anonymous May 7, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I commute on the Hawthorne bridge every day and although I am slightly peeved by the seasonal riders, I also welcome the newbies. I think the key is to take it slow where necessary, pass when safe and move over to the right when possible in hopes of demonstrating the correct bridge etiquette. Politeness is the policy.

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  • beelnite May 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I’ve thought a lot about this bridge – it’s one of my peeves and I figured something like this would happen. Almost daily I remind cyclists to always pass left and “encourage” them either softly or with profane screaming if appropriate to slow down and watch out for the Peds and slower cyclists.

    There’s confusion in the lane designation and it’s open to interpretation. Bikes to the Left, Peds to the Right. That part is clear… what is not clear is where should a slow moving bicycle ride? Should they move right into the ped lane? Or stay left and leave the right for speedier cyclists to pass WHEN SAFE TO DO SO?

    I think it should be the former – because passing on the right is a bad habit to get into.

    I always thought a sign explaining the procedure would help. You look down and you see the symbols designating the lanes, then right after that we could have something like:

    “Cyclists, please yield to pedestrians and slow moving traffic. Pass only on the Left. ”

    “Slower cyclists please move Right when the lane is clear.”

    “Please use bells or verbal signals when passing pedestrians or cyclists.”

    Oh! Ugh… is that too much to process? This is no brainer stuff, but…

    OK, OK, how about a speed limit of 10 mph and a “your speed” radar sign?

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  • robbie May 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    “Furthermore, I’m sure the cyclist who made contact with the crashee didn’t intend to hurt anyone. Mistakes happen, and there’s an infinite number of people lacking the letter-writer’s old-guy wisdom. The aggro rider realized his mistake and stopped to help. I doubt he’ll be riding so aggressively in the future. Put away your sabres…”

    So the next time a motorist slams into a bicyclist we should just leave him alone because, “he’s probably realized his mistake”?
    Mistakes happen, true, but anyone with common sense should see that passing so close, so aggressively on a narrow raised road is negligent and dangerous. Hawthorne not having a safety barrier is not the problem. This, no matter what safety precautions “should” be in place, is still a case of one person causing harm to another through dangerous, inconsiderate actions.

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  • Bent Bloke May 7, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Might be time to install signs on the bridge that require pedestrians and bikes to walk/ride single-file. And maybe put some mirrors up so those without bike or helmet-mounted mirrors can see someone overtaking them.

    I commute over the Hawthorne daily, and you can ring a bell and shout “on your left” until you’re blue in the face, and most pedestrians either ignore you or don’t hear due to wearing ear-buds.

    I hope the cyclist makes a speedy and full recovery.

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  • AC. May 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Seems like there could be a railing/gaurd rail on the inside. But I am no engineer.

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  • Dave May 7, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    For part of the 1980’s I bike commuted from inner SE to Beaverton five days a week. The Hawthorne was my bridge of choice most days. At the time I was a fitter, faster rider than today; I had 12 20mph hours in me a few times a year.
    This was the era of the Sony Walkman and I quickly learned that the Hawthorne sidewalk was a place to slow down! I don’t care if there’s a bike silhouette on the pavement; it’s a sidewalk, therefore it’s pedestrian space. Law or not, when we ride in pedestrian space we are morally obliged to ride at pedestrian speed regardless of our chosen cycling pace. So, for those who don’t get it–HEY RACERS, SLOW THE F*** DOWN ON BRIDGE SIDEWALKS AND LEARN SOME PATIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Paul Tay May 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    #13, Robbie, just WHICH side are you on with this CRAP? “This is a problem with bad cyclists, not the facilities. I am a cyclist and no matter how congested things are I would never race around somebody without warning, possibly creating a dangerous situation.”

    It’s NEVER the cyclist’s “fault.” We izzzz speeeeeeeeeeee-shall. We are SUPPOSED to be weaving. It’s the damn bridge’s FAULT.

    Really, I don’t get the big bucks for the easy solution. PoPo can either bring out his guys to bust heads, OR, we can bring out the really BIG guy to totally mess up some wide-weaving jerk’s game, SANTA!

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  • Martha R May 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I completely agree with the author. I’m a confident cyclist and have been bike commuting year round since the early 1990s, and I now do my best to avoid the Hawthorne Bridge during rush hour. There’s a serious race mentality going on, where (bike) tailgating is rampant and cyclists get really pushy and refuse to allow others to merge. Yes, Jessica, it is a problem with the facility in that the sidewalk that seemed so spacious when it was first widened is now way too narrow for the current bike/ped traffic volumes. Here’s another vote for Jeff and Roger to work on fixing the facility. However, that’s no excuse for the bad (and dangerous) behavior I’ve witnessed countless times.

    Until something changes (when Morrison Bridge bike improvements are completed, or when the light rail bridge is built, or the Sellwood Bridge is replaced, or something else), this is the facility that we have, and it’s only going to get more crowded this summer. So folks, pass other bikes and peds when it’s safe to do so. Leave plenty of room between you and the bike in front of you, as you never know when they might hit the brakes. Leave plenty of room between you and the person you’re passing so you don’t scare the bejeezus out of the peds or throw another cyclist onto the grate. It is not a race. Bike races often feature spectacular multi-bike wrecks. Bike commutes shouldn’t.

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  • Bob May 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    This type of accident does not surprise me at all. I have seen some truly awful riding behavior on the Hawthorne Bridge during rush hour. This morning coming from the east side I saw an impatient cyclist pass another rider on the right without warning. This was in the area where you are heading downhill before reaching the bridgespan. The part that is clearly marked slow down and that is where pedestrians aren’t always visible. Sure enough, the rider who passed on the right nearly ran over a pedestrian who was in the pedestrian lane. He had to swerve out of the way and very nearly pushed another cyclists into the motor lane. Scarily close to be a disaster.

    My advice to everyone: take it easy. No matter what level your riding ability it is time to recognize that you won’t always be able to ride at full blast. Don’t put yourself and others at risk.

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  • peejay May 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    — maybe the city needs to back off on this push to get more cyclists on the road until an extensive education and training program for street riding is initiated.

    Wow! That’s the worst possible reaction to this incident – utterly unconnected with the realities of the situation, and wrong in so many ways.

    I hate to say it, but the situation on the Hawthorne Bridge is set up for this kind of thing.

    So its the bridges fault bikers weave in and out of pedestrian traffic and cycle too close to other riders?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. Hey, there will always be people who go too fast and break the rules, no matter what kind of vehicle they use. But crashes happen in specific places in statistically significant numbers, because of design issues. In this location, it’s the decision to intermingle two-way pedestrian traffic with one-way bike traffic, and divide the space in a way that’s not always obvious to all users. Peds are supposed to be on the right, and bikes to the left. If nobody crossed over, the busiest bike bridge in Portland would have room for a single file of bike traffic moving at exactly the speed of the slowest rider. As it is, most riders know that when they are not passing a pedestrian, they should move over to the right, to let faster traffic get by. Some don’t. Some pedestrians walking Eastbound on the Westbound side don’t know to keep to the railing side. And some fast riders don’t know to ring a bell or call out “on your left” to slower bike riders. Add in some bike salmon (wrong-way riders), and you’ve got trouble. And then remember: this is the busiest bike bridge in Portland, and I’m amazed this doesn’t happen every day.

    Some people will keep saying we don’t deserve better because we all have to shoulder the blame for the most careless riders among us. That until every single cyclist follows all the rules, then it’s all of our fault. That until everybody does a foot-down stop at every stupid stop sign on empty streets, there will never be any more money spent on another bike infrastructure project, or another law passed to protect our safety on the streets. There’s a word for this kind of argument, but I’ll refrain from using it in a family blog.

    I will say: maybe it’s time for a 12-lane bike bridge across the Willamette!

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  • b May 7, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    i love the hawthorne bridge. but due to the number of erratic cyclists AND pedestrians on that thing, i usually just end up taking burnside (i live pretty close to both bridges).
    it’s not worth the stress, hassle or danger.

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  • commuter May 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I try to stay on the right if I can to let impatient cyclists pass me on the left. Then when we are back on the road, I pass them. I’ve learned to take it easy on congested portions of my commute. You don’t really gain any time by passing people on the bridge, especially if you get caught at the light at the end.
    I usually ride after rush hour closer to 6pm to avoid the majority of cyclists and cars. Last summer was pretty bad and maybe this summer will be better.
    What sort of charges can the victim press on the cyclist who bumped her?

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  • are May 7, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    it is a facilities problem in the sense that the shared sidepath by its nature cannot accommodate cyclists moving at much more than walking speed. it is a behavior problem in the sense that a cyclist using such a facility should not move at much more than walking speed. it is chronic in the sense that there are a great many people in the world who exercise very poor judgment, all the time. education reaches only those who are ready to be educated. imposing additional restrictions hurts the competent, careful rider along with the incompetent and careless.

    if it were not for the steel deck, I would say get off the sidepath and take the lane. under the circumstances, I myself avoid the facility during rush hours.

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  • robbie May 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Sure, there is a design flaw, but you are still taking blame away from the cyclist involved. Claiming that it’s the bridge’s fault is dangerous thinking. We all want improvements, but while we wait for them should we make concessions for idiotic riders?

    Nobody is saying leave it the way it is and blame cyclists. The cyclist is to blame and changes should be made to the bridge. both. And while we wait for those changes the people crossing that bridge will have to show courtesy, and if they don’t that’s no excuse to rage through them. We wouldn’t accept this behavior from auto traffic. There will always be bad drivers in any vehicle and they should be dealt with, not excused due to “design flaws”

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  • old&slow May 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    It must be something about spring here, but I have had more near misses with cyclists in the last couple of weeks than I have had with cars! I have almost been hit by cyclists running lights. Usually fixies because of course riding a track bike on busy city streets is a really cool thing to do. There should not be a problem crossing the bridges here. The Hawthorne especially is plenty wide. The guy was just an idiot.

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  • mmann May 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I lean towards the problem being civility, not infrastructure. The Hawthorne bridge can handle the current bike capacity just fine so long as cyclist ride with respect to others around them. Just like cars – being in a hurry in congestion is asking for trouble. Save your sprints for when the road is clear, folks.

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  • js May 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I see unsafe overcrowding issues along the waterfront and liken them to similar taking place on the Hawthorne bridge. Commuter and recreational bike traffic in both directions is being mixed with pedestrian and pet traffic heading in at least two directions. Speed is widely variable. Traffic volume is high. Pedestrians and cyclists need to be separated in both cases.

    There are some good examples. The Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis is one where high volume dictated a rate of speed separation between walkers and bikers. Walkers almost never run into other walkers. Bikers will be less inclined to run into other bikers if that is the only other traffic they have to deal with.

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  • Robb May 7, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    The Hawthorne Bridge coincidentally has two major roles:

    1) It’s the most Southerly bridge out of downtown, and so has perhaps the greatest rush hour auto traffic. Everyone coming from South of the city uses it.

    2) It’s the main/only bicycle bridge to Central & Southeast.

    Solution: One of these major roles must be removed.

    Implementation: Move the bulk of the auto traffic to the Morrison St. bridge. Turn the outermost auto lanes on the Hawthorne to bike lanes. Equalize the heights of the riding surfaces.

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  • SkyC May 7, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I ride on this bridge every day both ways, if not multiple times per day. I run in to one of these at least once a day:
    1, pedestrians walking three to four abeam, out in the bike lane, forcing me to slow down or nearly stop to get around. Less often, there will be a pair of cyclists riding side by side that I can’t get around and it usually takes a while for them to realize that they need to give me some room to pass.
    2, extremely slow cyclists, often riding right in the middle of the sidewalk making it impossible to pass on either side, or riding on left side forcing me to pass on the right. When there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, it’s almost impossible to pass someone going at snails pace for the entire length of the bridge.
    3, extremely fast cyclists weaving between pedestrians and cycle traffic whether or not there is room, forcing me to slow down and ride extremely defensively to avoid getting struck.

    I don’t know a good solution. If we’re not going to be using the road, there should be a bike lane wide enough that we can pass without having to dance with pedestrians. The lead up to the bridge on the east side is excellent, I use it to pass people all the time. If only that could go all the way over the bridge…

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  • jeff May 7, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Good example of why I avoid the Hawthorne at peak times or in decent weather, along with the waterfront. Cars are at least more predictible.

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  • Gabriel McGovern May 7, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    OK – I hate to ask this so far down the comments, but…

    Will someone please corroborate this incident before everyone gets all bent out of shape?

    I too ride across the Hawthorne frequently and have thought about how bad a crash to the road grate would be. However, I have never seen it even come close to happening. I am not suggesting that this is made-up, but it would be good to get the facts before we take this as a symptom of the city’s “push to get more cyclists on the road”.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 7, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    One quick solution might be to tell folks that wrong-way walking and jogging is discouraged (there are already signs telling bikes about this).

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  • naomi May 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    The Hawthorne Bridge sucks!!!! I’ve never felt safe riding on it and I’ve ALWAYS had a fear that someone was going to nudge me off the sidewalk and onto the grate. First, why are cyclists the ones who have to be on the inside?

    Second, does anyone know if the Morrison bridge will be renovated so that bike lanes are added? I’ve always been confused why that bridge doesn’t allow bikes… it would seriously dilute the traffic that’s currently being pooled onto the Hawthorne bridge

    Third, KUDOS to the driver for being so quick to slam on the brakes, and shame on those who always blame drivers for every mishap, but when a cyclist causes a wreck they blame infrastructure and city planning. It doesn’t work like that. Don’t divert blame just because it was someone on your team.

    Finally, slow downnnnn. I know it sounds like I’m talking down on everyone but I don’t know how else to stress it. Why are so many of these guys on bikes these days RACING everywhere they go? You can clearly tell they’re trying to time themselves because of how diehard they are to speed past everyone no matter how congested the lane in front of them may be. STOP this! It is very unsafe and you trying to beat your best time may result in someone else’s death. That’s pretty stupid, no?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 7, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    One quick solution might be to tell folks that wrong-way walking and jogging is discouraged (there are already signs telling bikes about this).

    RE: verifying this incident.

    It was also witnessed by a different person who posted their account in the forums.

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  • maxadders May 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    “So the next time a motorist slams into a bicyclist we should just leave him alone because, “he’s probably realized his mistake”?

    Mistakes happen, true, but anyone with common sense should see that passing so close, so aggressively on a narrow raised road is negligent and dangerous. Hawthorne not having a safety barrier is not the problem. This, no matter what safety precautions “should” be in place, is still a case of one person causing harm to another through dangerous, inconsiderate actions.”

    I’d feel horrible if I caused injury to someone as a result of my actions, no matter what I was driving. There’s road rage…and there’s bike rage too. Almost everybody is guilty of driving or riding too aggressively every once in a while. And while tempers might be heated when the incident happens– most people realize the error of their ways eventually.

    As I noted, I very much doubt the rider wanted to hurt anyone, or understood how dangerous his actions were.

    And again, this is just one account of the accident. Mr. Anonymous even states he doesn’t know why the bikes made contact “Then someone must have appeared in front of the two of them because I saw him start to move closer to the woman, presumably to avoid what was in front of them (rather than backing off and riding behind the woman).”

    Sounds more like congestion– and a lack of a safety barrier– than a hot-dogging jerk who set out to endanger peoples’ lives.

    What irritates me most is that the author’s proposed solutions are to regulate every man, woman and child in the state with unaffordable, unenforcable regulations that won’t do a damned thing to keep people from falling into traffic on the Hawthorne.

    Then he suggests the city should stop encouraging people to ride bikes. I’m hald convinced the author is just a cranky curmudgeon tired of young kids having fun.

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  • OnTheRoad May 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    One problem with giving bikes one of the outside, grated lanes is that buses have to use these lanes. I would not look forward to sharing a lane with buses.

    Buses are too wide to be able to pass each other in the two middle lanes. The idea of giving bikes a lane came up when the bridge was refurbished, and the constraint was that buses had to use the outside lanes. Giving bikes the middle lanes would involve all kinds of complicated merges and risky crossing of lanes.

    So not only would auto traffic need to moved, but buses would have to be moved entirely off the Hawthorne, for bikes to be moved onto the bridge deck.

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  • Alexis May 7, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I ride across the Hawthorne every day (I live close-in on Hawthorne and bike to PSU for work/school) and I think it definitely needs to be widened, and possibly to have the bikes and pedestrians separated. I think it would be best to have the sidewalk narrowed and put the bikes at street level because cars are much easier to navigate around in traffic because they go forward and don’t just wander around thoughtlessly like some pedestrians…

    there are some bicyclists who are just in way too much of a hurry. One biker was apparently in such a rush that instead of slowing down to allow us to pass he cuts right in front of my boyfriend’s front wheel, making a right turn from Jason’s left side. This is the kind of bicycling that is going to get somebody hurt. I hate bicyclists who will just fly past me with no warning (I try to stay to the right, except when there’s pedestrians in the way). I am a very slow cyclist and I know this… I try to stay out the way but some people need to learn to give verbal warning–Gabriel McGovern, don’t wait for people riding two abreast to realize you’re there (my bf and I do it when we bike home later in the day), just call out that you want to pass and they will move.

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  • SkidMark May 7, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    There’s always some Marco Pantani wannabee mashing uphill on the Hawthorne Bridge, trying to pass everyone. People like that need to understand that not everyone is out to go as fast as they can or their bike. If they want to go fast they will just have to wait until the road clears out in front of them, weaving through peds and bikes with a steel grate and cars a foot off your handlebars is just irresponsible.

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  • Paul S May 7, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    So y’all realize we’re talking about bicycle congestion, right? “I avoid the Hawthorne at rush hour…”

    Bicycle rush hour?

    So yes: design flaw, don’t ride like an idiot, we need a whole damn bridge, show a little damn courtesy, glad no one got killed, someone might someday … all that is true and hallelujah, but really:

    The problem we’re all getting testy about here is too many bikes.

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  • Meghan H May 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Hate to tell you, but I don’t believe there is such a thing as “wrong way” walking on the Hawthorne. In your photo, Jonathan, you’ll notice the arrows go both ways for pedestrians. It’s only bikes that have a one-way restriction.

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  • Meghan H May 7, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Also, I can’t wait until the Morrison Bridge improvements are finished. It will cut major stress off my daily commute by
    1) not having to navigate the Hawthorne sidewalk twice a day and
    2) I’ll cut out most of my downtown riding where I have to navigate around the current 3rd Ave. nightmare of buses, impatient cars and other hazards.

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  • Joel May 7, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Yo commuter racers! Come out to a real race sometime! I almost got nailed by a commuter-racer trying to win the ride to work this morning on the Hawthorne bridge. He “merged” off the east side on-ramp with out looking left nearly hitting me and a pedestrian on his fixed gear that he apparently can stop on yet. Really folks just slow down (maybe ride a bike you know how to control, brakes are a good idea new-fixters) and quit giving the 99% of responsible cyclists a bad name and the big O more anti-bike fodder.

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  • peejay May 7, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Can people get their minds around the possibility that bad (or inadequate for the volume of traffic) infrastructure can increase the likelihood that bad road users will cause more problems?

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  • tonyt
    tonyt May 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the driver of the car.

    It was because of her proper speed and attentiveness that this was not fatal.

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  • Dennis May 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Courtesy, etiquette and honor, are often lacking, when the competitive ride with the leisurely.

    this is a combination of issues, all rolled into one confluence of suck. Yes, the dude was incredibly inconsiderate, and downright dangerous. He was riding outside of the realm of control. This is a hazard to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.

    There is also a design issue, relating to how the bridge is managed. the same high curb, that protects us from careening cars, is also a fall-off hazard for cyclists. Placing a physical barrier, would actually increase the danger, as unless it was “full height”, it could actually make a cyclist flip higher, and land with greater velocity on the metal grating. Personally, I think cyclists deserve their own span. perhaps one shared with a streetcar line.

    I wish the cyclist a speedy, and full recovery

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  • Robb May 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    @Megan H 54,

    So maybe one solution is to encourage pedestrian traffic against bicycle and auto traffic. This way, pedestrians will see bikes coming and not be so clueless.

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  • Jason S. May 7, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Riding on the Hawthorne Bridge during rush hour is like riding Bridge Pedal. Burnside bridge is my route of choice now. Ideally, the Hawthorne bridge should be wider. The idea of falling on the metal grating has always scared the bejeesus out of me. I wish the woman well.

    And I share the commentator’s view about some especially stupid/selfish riders. They ride as if stopping or slowing down is to be avoided at all costs–which is a lot like the drivers that cause cyclists the most trouble.

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  • Gabriel McGovern May 7, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    @Jonathan Maus,

    RE:RE: verifying this incident.

    That report states that the injured party was male…

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  • daalan May 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Sorry to hear there was a potentially fatal accident. I’ve had visions of something like this happening to me during off hour crossings. “Accidents” are bound to happen regardless of mode of transport – just look at the rush hour(automobile) traffic reports.
    I’ve wondered about having pedestrian traffic on the Hawthorne. Why not make pedestrians go in a uni-direction as do bicyclists and automobiles? Or, in a worst case scenario eliminate pedestrians altogether from the Hawthorne Bridge during rush hour traffic?

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  • Mike May 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm


    Do poor highways and surface streets lead to an increase in people speeding?

    Seems like if this guy was traveling at a reasonable speed, one that did not require weaving in and out of traffic, that this incident probably would not have happened.

    I’m just glad I wasn’t there. I wish the VICTIM a speedy recovery, physically and emotionally.

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  • SkidMark May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    “Can people get their minds around the possibility that bad (or inadequate for the volume of traffic) infrastructure can increase the likelihood that bad road users will cause more problems?”

    Why doesn’t this apply to cars?

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  • beth h May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I have always wondered WHY there isn’t a barrier rail between the bike-ped path and the grated automobile lanes on this bridge. It’s so obvious that there needs to be one there. Also, the “lanes” for bikes and peds fade out — i.e., END — once you’re on the bridge proper, so insisting that someone stay in their “lane” all the way across the bridge doesn’t make sense.

    Finally, I avoid the Hawthorne during peak hours not only because I find it too crowded, but because there are still other, quieter ways over the river. Although I may have to rethink that, too; more and more as I’ve used the Steel Bridge lower deck path, I’ve been blocked and harrassed by increasing numbers of homeless people who camp out along Waterfront Park and the stairs at the east end of the Steel Bridge. One day I may get tired of that, too; and then I’ll probably just stick with the Burnside and Broadway Bridges for most of my river crossings.

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  • anonymous May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I’m seeing a lot of folks give a nod to the Burnside Bridge as their route of choice these days in order to compensate for the high bike traffic volume on the Hawthorne.

    I commute daily via the Burnside and the busier it gets with bike traffic, the more this same bad behavior is taking place.

    For God sake’s, take your time, announce your pass, use verbal and hand signals when approaching the lights on both sides of the bridge and use more courtesy everywhere you ride!

    Best wishes to the cyclist who was injured for a speedy recovery.

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  • KJ May 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I think although I feel for the woman involved, for sure, (terrifying!) that if this is the only accident I have heard about on such a busy bridge, we must not be doing TOO bad…

    I, personally, dislike using MUPs. A lot. If the Morrison were done, I’d be on it.
    My commute over the Hawthorn is counter to the usual traffic, which is usualy AWESOME in the AM or the winter. But Man, riding west at rush hour is sometimes really obnoxious on a bike. And not because of other bikes.

    Since the eastbound side is chock-a-block with bikes and some peds, a lot of runners and other peds use the westbound side.

    The runners training en-mass heading east for the esplanade, can make it really hard to even get ON the bridge from the esplanade (bike or ped) (where I join up from Water Ave.)

    And they are all over the bridge. That is like trying to swim upstream for sure.

    Since we are all taught “Keep to the right”, and the runners heading opposite me, they ARE on thier right. Ped traffic is both directions. So they are keeping out of the way of peds heading west, which makes sense. It also makes it confusing for them that bikes keep left when coming at them.

    It makes it very hard to travel west as a bike. If following the keep to the right rule, I feel like they think the bikes belong on the right with the peds, despite what the markings on the bridge say. I like signs but really it seems like no one reads/regards them.

    I have had two instances in the last month where where I have had runners who would not get out of my path. Eye contact bell and all.

    I end up having to slow (fine) and swerve into the peds they are avoiding. (not hitting, just into thier path. but not cool)

    It’s frustrating since it’s not thier fault really, nor is it mine, and I yield as I am supposed to, but it feels dangerous.

    Once a runner RAN INTO the westbound car lane! instead of moving to my right(his left) when running at me with his partner. I couldn’t avoid them (they split around me and there were peds to my far right), I nearly came to a stop actually, since I could safely go nowhere, to make sure no one was hit.

    I figure pedestrian traffic may not be aware that bikes are supposed to keep left with the flow of traffic.

    It’s frustrating. but well, they have right of way, and I can’t argue that.

    Mostly I stay at work until 6 or so on nice days to avoid as much of the Hawthorn Circus as I can. I can’t wait till the day I can avoid it all together. That and the esplanade. Ugh.

    If I could redesign the Hawthorn: There would be passing lanes for bikes at both ends of the bridge in both directions (like at the intersection of Madison and MLK coming up that rise) and a dividers between ped bike and car traffic. Peds would probly still end up in the bike lane… but bikes could do all their passing before and after they get off the bridge. In between, you are just stuck in position single file. This would mean widening the bridge though.
    For now I think I’ll just try to avoid hitting runners and keep off the bridge at peak hours if I can. who needs the extra stress?!

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  • buzz May 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I agree with some of the posters on here. I have often wondered why the bikers are the ones to ride on the outside. Bicycles are mechanical and can give at any moment. I take good care of my bike, but cannot always stop a flat from occurring and if it is my front, I could be in a lot of trouble. Either crash into a pedestrian or fall onto the medal grates.

    They tell bikers to ride single file and I think that is a good thing, but the county and city also need to encourage pedestrians to walk no more than two abreast. I understand the walking groups that use the bridge and they want to be social, but they can be just as sociable when they are bunched up in twos and have a line behind them.

    I am not a big fan of the Hawthorne Bridge as well and am looking forward to the Morrison improvements.

    Indeed, major kudos to the driver of the car. Thank you for being so alert and mindful.

    And, be safe out there. The bridge is not that long and you can easily pass other cyclists when you are across it.

    And, to the victim, get well soon!

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  • commuter May 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    The worst is when there is some event down at the waterfront and the peds take over the bridge. I’ve come across this early mornings on weekends and it is extremely dangerous to the point that I have to walk my bike.
    For a city that claims a platinum award or whatever, it would be nice to have the Hawthorne rigged to have a dedicated bike path of some sort. I used to enjoy commuting but in the last few years I have become more fearful.

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  • KJ May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    JUst a question, as to why bikes might be on the inside track of the sidewalks, if having a barrier on the inside not high enough would cause a rider to flip the railing into the car lane, perhaps the railings on the water side are dangerous for that reason. Am I wrong? I always felt the fencing on the bridge isn’t particularly high. Would it flip a rider over if you hit it?

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  • cyclist May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    SkidMark: I’m curious about that too. The positions people are advocating for are positions that are frequently taking by auto commuters, in fact one of the major reasons for the CRC is because it’s considered substandard due to the smaller-than-optimal lanes and the amount of traffic that travels the bridge. If we’re going to say that we need to expand capacity every time we get into an accident, aren’t we basically giving road builders carte blanch to expand the roadways when they face similar conditions? What would you say if someone said that they needed to expand Highway 26 by a lane in each direction because traffic sucks for half an hour in the morning and a half an hour in the evening?

    I ride over the Hawthorne bridge twice a day, once at 8:45-9:15, the other at 5:10-5:45. I never, *never* feel unsafe on that bridge. It gets really crowded sometimes, yes, but I take my position in the middle of the lane just as I do on the street… I’d never put myself in a place that would allow me to get bumped off the bridge. Point being, the Hawthorne Bridge is not capacity constrained, and I’d bet people would find a way to ride it with 50% more bike traffic rolling across it.

    This leaves aside the fact that a) the Morrison Bridge is, as we speak, getting rehabbed to allow bike traffic to cross it reasonably and b) the new MAX bridge that crosses between South Waterfront and OMSI will be another option for bike traffic, it’s Bike/Ped/Rail only, and will probably add about as much capacity as the Hawthorne has today.

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  • Shawna May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    The bridge facilities could certainly be improved, but that’s no excuse for someone to ride so dangerously close to someone. There are a lot of race-training riders on my route to work, but not a lot of commuters. When I’m biking home over the Bybee bridge, weighted down with panniers loaded with paperwork, I’m amazed at how many racing cyclists will suddenly appear by my side in the bike lane with no warning. Most bike lanes I see aren’t meant to be shared by bikes riding side-by-side, and with no warning, it’s very likely I might veer a few inches to the side to avoid a nail or a piece of glass. Please give a verbal or bell warning if you’re passing other cyclists, especially within the same lane, and especially during rush hour. There is a lot of noise on the road — it’s a treat hearing a bike bell or a helpful human voice in the mix.

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  • BURR May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I completely agree that this facility is underdesigned for the bicycle and pedestrian traffic it carries. I see two solutions:

    1. give cyclists a full lane on the bridge in each direction, and provide a different surface than the grating to ride on.

    2. make pedestrian traffic on the bridge one way – westbound pedestrians on the south side of the bridge, eastbound pedestrians on the north side of the bridge, so that pedestrians are walking in the opposite direction from and facing the bicycle traffic.

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  • Anonymous May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    tbh, everyone needs to slow the f*&# down on the bridge during rush hour. it’s treacherous with people coming on and off from different directions, as well as dealing with pedestrians and different levels of cyclists. adding 2 more minutes to your commute to ensure everyone’s safety shouldn’t be a big deal.

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  • Amanda May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Ding that, beth h, on the Steel Bridge.

    There are no easy answers on Hawthorne congestion, my heart goes out to the victim and I wish them a swift recovery.

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  • dsaxena May 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    This is about a lot more than a few bad seeds. The issue is that while we may be riding bikes, we are doing so with the attitudes towards movement that come from a car-centric culture. When I was in the Netherlands, city bike speeds were ridiculously slow compared to what I am used to here. Here, we all grew up with cars and the idea of getting from point A to point B as fast as possible and I think a lot of people (myself included at times) ride a bike with that attitude. One of the beauties of riding a bike is that it allows us to slow down to a human pace, but the dominant culture does not work at that pace and it takes a lot more than simply getting on a bike to remove the conditioning imparted upon us by that culture.

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  • WOBG May 7, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I ride the Hawthorne eastbound at rush every day that I work. To make things better:


    Peds right; cyclists left, single file. Cyclists, don’t pass on the bridge. Don’t mosey to the right to clear for faster riders; that just puts you in conflict with peds and makes you have to weave back to the left. The bridge isn’t that long; everybody just chill.

    PDOT, maybe some double-line striping between the bike and ped lanes would help–but I doubt it.

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  • joel May 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    first off, heres to a speedy recovery to the injured party!

    but as to congestion on the hawthorne (and any of the other bridges…) – were kinda stuck with it. there are a limited number of ways by which we can get across the river, and available lanes for us on them are limited, and will be for the foreseeable future. adding an inside guardrail on the hawthorne might be a worthwhile idea.

    but what would help, more than anything else, is people simply slowing down. i ride to work early simply to avoid high traffic on the broadway, because of the high proportion of freaking squirrels/commuter 500 riders. its just plain unpleasant, and frankly, on my ride to or home from work, id rather have a nice ride. long ago, i got hit head-on (bike-on-bike) by a weekend warrior, on the golden gate bridge, and ive been cautious ever since. its just not worth it – that guy missed falling to a watery death by a matter of inches, and why? cause he wanted to fly across the bridge at open road speeds.

    its a mixed use path. yes, far too many peds are walking three abreast, or jogging with their ipods in (so even with my super-loud rotary bell they cant hear me), and is it really that important to get yourself across the water 30 seconds faster? save your race action for off-peak hours, or, better yet, go race.

    there are too many variables on a mixed use bridge path to be speeding like so many people do, and that, combined with the average bike commuters seeming obliviousness to just about everything around them (seriously, you lot are borderline terrifying. most of the time, id rather mix it with cars than bike commuters – i feel safer!), is a recipe for what apparently happened wednesday. this happening again is a when rather than an if – im surprised it took this long to happen.

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  • Coco May 7, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I had a similar incident happen to me yesterday biking home. Racer messenger type “dude” just couldn’t wait.

    I was passing a pedestrian on the left. He tried to pass ME as I was passing the PEDESTRIAN.

    I mean, lordy. What on earth? Stop showing off.

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  • Matt Picio May 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    naomi (#47) – The Morrison Bridge is currently being retrofitted with bike/ped facilities. The plans have been in the works for years and were delayed by the bridge turning 50 (when it gained historic status). Construction started a few weeks ago – I don’t know the expected completion date, but I’ll try to find out for everyone. (I serve on the county bike/ped committee, and the Morrison Bridge is a county bridge)

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  • WOBG May 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Peejay, #34: Name your source for your assertion that cyclists should move right for slower riders on the bridge.

    It ain’t marked or signed that way. It’s marked cyclists left, peds right–period–for good reason.

    If you move right, you’re in conflict w/peds and will need to weave left again–which is just what caused this crash, apparently.

    Just chill on the bridge and don’t pass. It’s not that long.

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  • Spencer Boomhower May 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Meghan H #54

    “I don’t believe there is such a thing as “wrong way” walking on the Hawthorne. In your photo, Jonathan, you’ll notice the arrows go both ways for pedestrians. It’s only bikes that have a one-way restriction.”

    I wonder, could one of those arrows be scraped off? Which I guess is kind of like what Jonathan in #46 and Robb in #60 are saying, though I don’t know if they’re suggesting actually removing one of the arrows.

    Of course, there could be all sorts of problems with removing arrows in one direction, not least of which would be fellow sidewalk users taking the opportunity to yell, “wrong way!” at walkers who happen to end up on the wrong side of the bridge…

    Instead then, maybe one of the both-way arrows could be emphasized as if to say: you *can* walk either way, but *ideally* you’d be walking this one way. That along with signs near the entrances to the sidewalks, *suggesting* you use one or another, depending on your direction of travel over the bridge.

    Is it possible for a traffic control device to work in this manner, as something other than a commandment or a restriction? Like the Pirate’s Code: more of a guideline.

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  • Honore May 7, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    beelnite (post 26) has it EXACTLY right.

    Also, I pledge to go a little slower on the bridge.

    Also, I agree with maxadders:

    “It’s sad that a bike commuter– or at least someone claiming to be one– wants to regulate the fun and freedom out of commuting by bike because he witnessed one unpleasant incident.”

    Let’s be scientific not subjective.

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  • Joel H May 7, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    More kudos to the driver who must have been paying close attention and the grate can’t have been completely dry after Tuesday’s rain.

    Every time I bicycle across the bridge, even when it’s less congested, I’m afraid of being pushed into the auto lane, and every time I drive through I’m afraid someone will be pushed in front of me.

    Would it be helpful or too confusing to make the whole bridge adapt to traffic? The center lanes could be one-way only, westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon, with the westbound outer lane bike-only in the morning and the eastbound outer lane bike-only in the afternoon. Seems like that would solve the sidewalk congestion issue and the bus issue, at the cost of complex traffic control devices and possibly being very confusing.

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  • Hart May 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Shoot, put up a sign: NO BIKE PASSING. Solved.

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  • alex May 7, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I believe an interim solution is to continue the stripe separating bikes and peds all the way down the length of the bridge. While i concede that peds have the ROW, i do not believe that they should be granted full width (or 3/4 for that matter) to walk abreast.

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  • joey May 7, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    @cyclist #72
    I think the goals are different CRC vs Hawthorne. Here we actually do want induced demand. We want more people riding. With the CRC we want to decrease demand, hence we want fewer lanes.

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  • chriswnw May 7, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I hate the Hawthorne Bridge, and consider the process of riding across it and exiting it (from either side of the river) to be the diciest part of my commute. I am also considering switching to the Burnside Bridge. A road — even one with a bike lane — has plenty of passing clearance, whereas a track such as this does not, especially considering the number of riders who straddle the center-line. My experience on the Hawthorne Bridge is one of the reasons why I am not particularly enthusiastic about Dutch-style cycle tracks.

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  • Tim May 7, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    What amazes me is that the Police Bicycle Patrol Units, don’t patrol the bridge to enforce the current rules posted, and speed limits.

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  • Donna May 7, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    When I’ve not been deployed by my boss to purge patient charts in NE Portland, I ride across the Hawthorne every day. The congestion will improve somewhat when the Morrison Bridge construction is finished. It will improve even further when the new MAX/bus/bike/ped bridge is built to the south of the Hawthorne.

    Until that time, I believe it would be a very good thing to have one-way only pedestrian traffic on the bridge, just as bikes are supposed to be. I’d like to see that be the case at all hours, but I’d settle for 7-9 am and 4-6 pm, similar to how there is no parking on Division during those rush hour times. That would remove a considerable amount of chaos from the mix – even if a few peds disregard it.

    Beyond that, I agree with the general sentiment that everyone needs to just slow down and relax on the bridge. You’ll get across it soon enough. Look to the south as you head east and fantasize about the bridge to come. :=)

    I would also like to add that bells are wonderful. Voices – no matter how loud you think you are and how convinced you are that people can hear you – aren’t so wonderful for people with a hearing issue. The pitch of your nice, loud voice (unless you’re a shrieking 4 year old) is nearly 100% masked by the the wind and car noise over the water. So you really can’t be heard by a great many people. A bell’s pitch can be heard over all that background noise. I realize people don’t want to “ruin” the lines of their bikes with a bell or they feel bells weigh too much, but don’t expect people to move just because you yell. Many of us can’t hear you.

    To those new or timid riders who might be lurking out there: Never let bullies on bikes intimidate you so that you go against your better judgement and put yourself (or others on the bridge) in danger. If you believe it would be risky to move so that another cyclist may pass, stay where you are until it’s safe to move to the right. They’ll find a way to cope with going slower somehow.

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  • Jacob May 7, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I am a fairly fast cyclist, but one can be courteous AND fast if they’re not an idiot.

    Maybe it sounds too simple, but a good start imo would be to divide the path, one side for cyclists the other for pedestrians. A big issue for me (and what I think causes a lot of the backup) is the groups of pedestrians that seem to think it’s ok to walk 3-4 abreast and take the whole walk.

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  • Donna May 7, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Jacob, how would the cyclists on the wrong way side cross the bridge back to the one-way viaducts on the east side and/or the one-way streets on the west?

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  • WOBG May 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Jacob #92, the path is *already* marked that way at regular intervals (look down at the path surface): cyclists to the left, peds to the right.

    Maybe a double line would help drive that home–but probably not.

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  • Adam May 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned yet since I’m coming in to the conversation nearing the 100th comment. What if something was done to prevent cyclists or pedestrians from being able to fall into the lane of traffic on the bridge? We are hearing word of cycletracks on some major streets, why not bridges?

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  • Jeff May 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    So many posts, so few people got it right… Only WOBG it seems. The ceaseless weaving is a HUGE problem. Stop going right into the ped zone, riding up behind people by 3 feet and cutting left then back right, left, etc, etc. Just f-ing knock it off…. Stay left. I don’t care if some douchebag behind you is ringing their bell passive-aggressively to move over. Screw those a-holes. Pick a line and ride it. Focus up people. Don’t piss me off.

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  • Randy May 7, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Time to sketch out an affordable floating bike only bridge.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt May 7, 2009 at 9:40 pm


    I think Jacob means one side of the bridge for peds and the other side of the bridge for bikes.

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  • Serviceburo May 7, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Portland cyclists suck. Period. I am more afraid of the other bikes on the road in this town that I am the cars. Riders in this town are uneducated, unskilled and many of them have no right to be on a bike at all. This goes across the board – racers, hipsters and supercommuters. Whatever happened to watching your pace and calling your passes?

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  • mark May 7, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    going down onto that grating is my worst fear when crossing Hawthorne, I can only imagine how horrifying that was. there is a lot of traffic and I know how frustrating it is when you’re just trying to get somewhere and there are people walking or riding four across totally blocking your path. and even when you ring your bell or say excuse me, they often just look back at you and keep going, not getting out of the way. but still. in those situations, just hang back. take it easy, you’ll get across the bridge sooner or later.

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  • […] And today, I read about a near-fatal accident on the very bridge I was complaining about at the bottom of my post. […]

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  • tony May 8, 2009 at 12:41 am

    I agree most with the folks who advise to not move to the right and everyone jsut ride single file.

    I ride over the Hawthorne twice a day, and while I nearly always feel safe, I see a lot of scary stuff happen to less confident riders. I am actually content to ride behind a slower rider, it makes it kind of nice to ride the bridge, what I don’t like is when the slower rider moves to the right… then if I don’t want to move right, I end up having to speed up to pass the slower rider, or ride slower and not pass, which seems to kinda spook people even more than riding too close, they keep expecting you to pass.

    I’d be in full support of a “no bike passing during high traffic” law on the bridge.

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  • Jacob C May 8, 2009 at 2:56 am

    This accident has been on my mind for several weeks. Then it happened.

    The bike traffic education course includes
    Commuter pro tips: Gtfo my wheel
    Don’t spent money on h+son and cannot buy helmet.
    Hot lava bridge is not place to TTrial
    Sell expensive stem and get less expensive stem and bike light.
    Use fender for the person behind who wants a good view of ur buttum.
    Sell SpOk and get braKs.
    Ur voice is confusing, get a bell.

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  • Drew May 8, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Jessica is right (#1). There is not enough room on the sidewalk, and the lack of a railing is a hazard.
    There will always be inconsiderate people. They will be a danger while biking, driving, or starting a campfire. Better to address a problem that we CAN do something about.

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  • natallica May 8, 2009 at 4:49 am

    i’m glad someone finally brought this up, kudos to the author.

    i had a friend crash his bike to avoid a rollerblader, seriously breaking his arm. the guy never even stopped.

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  • John Allen May 8, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Most crashes occur due to multiple factors, some avoidable, some not. The Hawthorne Bridge’s sidewalk with its dropoff to a grid deck is perilous, but no alternative suggests itself except at great expense. Until the public will pay for improvements, the only option is to ride cautiously. One-way pedestrian travel on each sidewalk might increase safety, but it would be hard to enforce.

    I have more observations online, a photo album and a video of a ride across the bridge addressing issues this crash raises.

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  • pat h May 8, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Isn’t this a case of passing on the right gone bad? The passing cyclist should not have gone to the middle if the other one was closer to the side walk (on the left).

    I go over the bridge a few times per week at this rush hour. I pass a lot of people, carefully at safe places, and on the left. If you are slower, move to the right!

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  • peejay May 8, 2009 at 6:31 am

    1) Yes, PEOPLE SHOULD SLOW DOWN during crowded conditions. Don’t think this is a Giro d’Willamette. It’s your daily commute. Why are you in such a hurry to sit at a desk anyway?

    2) No, reacting to congestion of bike traffic by proposing an increase in capacity is not the same as CRC expansion. Let’s not forget that cycling is something to be encouraged as a positive behavior. Cycling does not cause a vicious cycle of sprawl and more traffic in years to come. Cycling does not pollute. Cycling is not a contributor to global warming. Cycling does not ask for billions of dollars that other projects need. And, for the most part, cycling is pretty safe.

    3) I still contend that the design of the Bridge crossing is bad, and I’m sticking to that. Here again is why: the markings require unexpected behavior on the part of the users of the Bridge path. If there were no markings, no signs, how many people could figure out what to do? People walking Eastbound on the Westbound side of the bridge often stand their ground and face off the oncoming cyclist on the inward side of the path, because they’re convinced that they’re where they should be and that the cyclist coming at them is in the wrong.

    4) Asking pedestrians to walk in only one direction per side is not natural or reasonable. Where else are there single-direction sidewalks? OK, airports, and other places of extremely high pedestrian density, but that’s different. People walk a lot more slowly than bikes or cars, and the distances involved at those speeds to make it over to the other side of the bridge are significant.

    5) Asking riders to stick to single file in the most congested point in all of Portland’s bike traffic is something we would never ask of cars in a similar situation. I think the minimum requirement is to have a passing lane for the full span of the crossing. More ideal is that the passing lane not be designed to conflict with another mode of transit, i.e.: pedestrians.

    6) If you ask me, this whole story is a huge piece of navel-gazing concern-trollery. One non-fatal crash, and people are apoplectic. Can you imagine all this hand-wringing and self-loathing on the media after a similar non-fatal car crash?

    But most of the solutions offered up are worse.

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  • peejay May 8, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Strike that last sentence. Bad edit.

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  • MAEJ May 8, 2009 at 7:39 am

    I began riding to work a year ago and quickly realized that road rage was not limited to four wheels. The Hawathorne bridge just seems to bring out the worst in people. Please Portland use the bike money to prosecute aggressive bike riders when they are in a high use area. More bike lanes will not detour bad behavior.

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  • robin May 8, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Railing, so when someone makes a mistake it isn’t putting someone at so much risk.

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  • Rob May 8, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I think it has been mentioned, but a barrier between the sidewalk on the left and cars is needed, that high curb is scary and even with a 20 MPH speed for cars, or even 5, the timing of a bicyclist falling doesn’t guarantee enough time to stop a car.

    The new rail, bike, ped bridge should be sized for growth in capacity, especially with its connections to the Springwater and ped and bikes separated.

    For the Hawthorne, now, the BTA could take on developing a slogan and have rush hour educators on the bridge.

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  • Btodd May 8, 2009 at 8:08 am

    How about an inside railing?

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  • Btodd May 8, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Portland. Not even a planet close to number one bike city.

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  • toddistic May 8, 2009 at 8:21 am

    If you don’t want to deal with bike / ped traffic take the lane and ride over the metal grating.

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  • Paul Tay May 8, 2009 at 8:25 am

    #114, Btodd, yep. Portland: Cycling’s Crash Dummy! But, hey, whatever. It’s PedalPaaaaaaaaaaaaaaloooooooooza!!!!

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  • chriswnw May 8, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I took the Burnside Bridge this morning just to try something different, and there was only one other cyclist. It was great! I’m not sure why it isn’t used as extensively, but I’m guessing that it might have to do with having to board from a busy street like Burnside.

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  • Meghan H May 8, 2009 at 9:06 am

    As a daily rider of the Hawthorne Bridge, I can’t imagine the problems it would cause if all bike riders suddenly started to ride single-file. The faster riders would bottleneck behind people like me who just don’t quite match their biking speed, and some would try to pass me in an unsafe way. I’ll keep moving to the right when it’s safe, thanks.

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  • SJ May 8, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I ride across a Portland bridge twice a day as I ride to/from work downtown.

    The number one solution as I see it? Bikers need to speak up when they see other bikers act the way this guy did, period.

    Every day, especially in the morning, I see bikers blow through stop signs, ride like idiots, dodge in and out of traffic, etc. I usually hold my tongue.

    No more.

    The next time I see a rider do anything foolish, I’ll say something.

    If people on the bridge that day would have told this guy to slow down, as a corrective force, this woman would not have been hurt.

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  • Vance Longwell May 8, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Best wishes to the injured parties here. Slow down? How about speed up? It’s an utterly arbitrary assignment anyway, what kind of argument is this? Am I to now add an expensive electronic speedometer to my already heavily burdened bike? My lights weigh more than my tires for Pete’s sake!

    If you can’t stay out of the way, you don’t belong on the road. Oh I know, those darn meanies trying to have a life before they are killed by some overly entitled, “can’t we all just get along”, freshly transplanted, California liberal cum Portlandite. “Etiquette”? You have got to be kidding me. Maybe I should just stop everyone I come across in public, and give them a nice big hug before I ride near them?

    Seriously, can this mole-hill get any more mountainous? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to bunny-hop off onto the grating on that bridge, and I’m talking roadie here. Speaking of which, those advocating, “taking the lane”, (Talk about a misnomer!) are advocating breaking the little rules you all seem to love so damn much. Oregon Revised Statute 814.420 states that where there is a bike-lane present you will use one. So, leaving the Hawthorne Bridge cycle lane is against the law. This too, since there isn’t room to effect a safe pass inside the lane, then you can’t pass Homers. Aren’t bike-lanes neato?!

    For every inconsiderate jerk out there going, “Too fast.”, there is an equally inconsiderate jerk going too slow. That’s a wash. Don’t like it, then move back to where you came from and see what kind of traction you get with your, “Grassroots”, there, friends.

    While you’all argue about superfluous, Nanny State, solutions to non-existent problems people are dying of exposure and starving to death right here in our very own streets. I personally have zero of the problems I see people moaning about here, ergo you don’t either. You know, ’cause we’re all exactly the same, and equal and all…

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  • SJ May 8, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Vance. Thanks for that constructive post. Ummm, sure. What do you ride so I can stay out of your way?

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  • E May 8, 2009 at 9:23 am

    wow, what a lot of comments!! 🙂

    Traffic on the Hawthorne is heavy. Hopefully the new bike/ped path on the Morrison will help, and the new bike/ped/max bridge down the line. However a couple of small improvements to the Hawthorne would also help: a railing such as is on the Broadway between motorized and non-motorized traffic; and making pedestrian traffic one-way and one-lane (if that’s even possible).

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  • Jacob May 8, 2009 at 9:30 am

    @93 94

    It’s a half-baked idea but In my head it would be a double yellow line with those hump thingies.

    (yes I realize it’s currently marked, but like someone else said it needs something more to drive it home)

    ugh, need coffee.

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  • Vance Longwell May 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Careful SJ #119. In this Nanny State there is a membranous, fine-line between being a good citizen and committing the crime of Menacing. You say BOO to some one in public and you are begging for some sort of assault charge. I am in total agreement with you though.

    In my opinion, I SHOULD possess the right to vocalize my resentment/problem/whatever with road users blatantly violating commonly known laws. However, all a person in this situation has to do is report false allegations, and I promise the law here will side with them. If you are physically larger than your target, or male and your target is female, or angry and don’t realize it’s so plain on your face, or any number of things, I guarantee saying ANYTHING to ANY ONE at ANY TIME is a dice roll on a criminal record of the violent kind.

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  • DJ Hurricane May 8, 2009 at 9:38 am

    As usual Vance (#120), you’re wrong. There is a bike lane at both ends of the Hawthorne Bridge, but it merges into a SIDEWALK in the middle/over the river. That’s where the incident occurred. Bicyclists are not requrired to ride on a sidewalk. On the Hawthorne Bridge is is legal to take the lane where there is no bike lane instead of merging onto the sidewalk. Because that outer lane is far too narrow for a motorist to safely pass, a bicyclist is allowed the WHOLE LANE.

    A lot of people think Critical Mass is BS. I’m willing to bet that the fastest way to get better facilities for biking across the Hawthorne Bridge is for people to take the lane at rush hour every morning and evening. Lord knows our infinite meetings and committees haven’t done much!

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  • Angela May 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

    There have been some great comments and proposed solutions here. Wow. I guess I’m also a veteran cyclist here. I’ve been riding/commuting since 1991. In the last year more than any other years in total there are so many new cyclists on the road. More than any other years in total I have had near misses from cyclists going through an intersection without even a glance in my direction. More than any years in total since 1991 I have felt a loss of cycling community, no acknowledgement, headphones, few bells & rarely a nod.

    I guess we can welcome ourselves to the commuter mentality of the autos now.

    Next time the bill hits the session to require bike law training in our driver’s manuals, or having to retake a driving test upon renewal, OR even (gag) a cycling test….let’s throw our weight behind it. It won’t take care of all the horrid riders out there but it will continue education for those who are just ignorant or need reminders (and most of us need reminders).

    Now if PDOT had the $ and the foresight to build an appropriate all-out (ie, not piecemeal) cycling infrastructure that kept it separate from autos and peds, what a picture THAT would be.

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  • Anonymous May 8, 2009 at 9:43 am

    When a cyclist does it to a cyclist it’s an accident and an infrastructure issue.

    When it involves a motor vehicle and a cyclist the driver is a maniac behind the wheel trying to kill.

    Poor judgment does not absolve anyone of responsibility.

    The rider who passed did so unsafely and almost cost someone their life.

    Plain and simple. No apologists needed.

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  • Ashley May 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

    It’s a mystery that this is the first time this has happened. I did the 5 o’clock commute for 3 years and very much noticed that an increase in use of the bridge, makes slower speeds, and safer riding a necessity. Last year I started leaving work to avoid it.

    The Hawthorne bridge is a little stressful as you cautiously avoid dogs on leashes, pedestrians with oars in hand, and making sure to safely travel with other riders.

    I was displeased the first time a cyclist quickly passed on the left of me (steel grate side) without warning as I was passing pedestrians on their left. It felt unnecessary, reckless, their arm brushed mine, and maybe that’s OK for (some) speed racers, but the Hawthorne bridge isn’t a nascar course.

    I don’t feel unsafe on the Hawthorne bridge because of the size of the sidewalk, I feel unsafe because of the conduct of the pedestrians, dogs, and cyclists using it.

    Were we talking about the Sellwood bridge sidewalk- I would definitely say that the size of it makes me feel unsafe- when one rider must dismount against the railing for another to pass.

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  • SJ May 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Vance, you do possess the right to vocalize–First Amendment.

    Assault is a different legal standard altogether.

    As far as the too fast/too slow argument, it is not a wash.

    If you’re going too fast, it usually means you’re going over a speed limit that was carefully thought out, you’re putting effort into going faster than others because you don’t like to be limited or slowed down.

    If you’re going “too slow,” maybe you have a problem with your bike, maybe you’re tired, maybe you’re being super careful because of road conditions, etc.

    The two states are not a wash.

    There are ways to approach a person and say, Hey, can I ask you a question? Are you concerned about drivers’ perceptions that bikers are idiots? Maybe the rider blows up–there’s always that risk. But I’m willing to take the chance to affect at least a dialogue about behavior that affects others’ safety–on the spot, right then and there. It doesn’t have to rise to a legal level or result in assault.

    This forum is a good example of these interactions.

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  • bArbaroo May 8, 2009 at 9:55 am

    when you get a chance I’d really appreciate an upate on how the cyclist is doing.

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  • Coco May 8, 2009 at 10:08 am

    RE: John Allen’s video post (#106). Wow, this was wonderful!

    Have you considered re-doing this exact video ride again, but say, in June, when the weather is amazing, and there are a bazillion bicyclists and joggers and whatnot out on the bridge.

    I’d be very interested to see an “updated” high-summertime version of this video!

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  • Rich May 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

    There’s no reason to mock or belittle fast riders over the issue of safety. You can be fast and safe. Riding at a good pace for fitness and fun is one of the main reasons why I commute every day.

    Slow riders can be dangerous, too. Especially people wearing earbuds, which is probably 5-10%. But it’s not fair to reduce the entire system to the slowest common denominator, when passing is safe. I’m on Broadway usually, though, so it’s not a problem.

    You can usually tell who’s shaky on their bike. Give them room. If in doubt, give them room.

    But please leave your deputy’s badge in your closet. I would prefer we focus on unity to get better infrastructure to serve our growing population.

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  • Vance Longwell May 8, 2009 at 10:19 am

    SJ #127. Again, I was just giving un-solicited advice, not constructing an argument. You go right ahead and chew out some little hipster-chick riding 10 m.p.h. down the middle of the road (Illegal in the state of Oregon). Go right ahead. The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to just say anything you want, you know. A fact you will surely learn should you begin practicing your suggestion.

    You say that if I’m going too fast, that I’m inherently exceeding some speed-limit. What speed limit? For what vehicle? For what user, at what time, and on and on. How do I know how fast I’m going, to the m.p.h. mind you, without some more mandated equipment on my bike? You all want to say it, but it introduces the idea that the alleged victim in this just might have shared some responsibility in this. “…speed dictated by the flow of traffic…”, is that about right?


    Maybe there are ways for YOU to approach a person friend SJ, not me and many like me. I’m white. If I approach any person of any color, for any reason, outside of a normal circumstance, I’m in dire-straights. I’m also male so if I, “dialogue”, with a woman I’m in dire-straights. Believe me, society has made it 100% clear that as a white male I will ALWAYS be in the wrong in every situation. On that note, what is your linguistic background? Have you been out of your house in the last decade? Ya, hope you know some Spanish, Viet Namese, Korean, Farsi, and a handful of other languages, and sets of social customs, ’cause your, “dialoging”, might just land YOU in the hospital. Oh the entitlement.

    Furthermore, you are positioning yourself as judge and jury here. I was simply advocating embarrassing a poor rider or two with a passing verbal-accusation. YOU are advocating impeding a person, and possibly taking their time. That’s over-the-top even for me. You just go right ahead and detain somebody for a little lovey-dovey dialogue and see where it gets you. Plus, there you go with, “Behavior”, again. How about you just restrain your comments for times when you see the law being broken?

    The fact of the matter is that this all plays out daily about the only way it can. With that, a tiny minority of people have problems. Then that tiny little minority gets up on a soapbox and the next thing you know we’re all grinding up our personal-liberty, or reaching for our wallets. When is enough, enough? When is a crash on the Hawthorne because of stupidity and incompetence, and not some one’s, “Attitude”, or equally abstract and dangerous to legislate, “Behavior”?

    Fools. If there were no markings on the Hawthorne in the first place, bet this chick would having been riding to the right, and none of this would have happened. Bet.

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  • Rich May 8, 2009 at 10:23 am

    There’s no need to mock or debase faster riders in order to argue for safety. Speed and safety aren’t the same thing. Slow riders with earbuds, for example, are a common problem.

    Digging in your heels and refusing to do your part to promote an efficient and safe system by keeping a passing lane open is bad behavior. It’s passive aggressive and selfish.

    Bike defensively. Give people room, especially if there is any doubt about their skills and/or awareness. And respect each other, fast and slow.

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  • Vance Longwell May 8, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Oh, and those advocating for a barrier between the sidewalk and the auto-lane on the bridge – talk to Andy Logan.

    He caught a handlebar crossing the Steel one day years ago and crashed. Serious head injury that changed the guy for life. A safety solution that caused an injury. Go figure. Placing a barrier in this way will knock 18″ off of that surface too, easily. Less room on the Hawthorne, then, is you’all’s solution?

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  • Chris May 8, 2009 at 10:43 am

    This is a horrifying story and although I am a faster and slightly aggressive rider on the Hawthorne I would never pass when there is not enough room or get so close that I touch another rider. I think will reassess some of my behavior to make sure I don’t intimidate others on the bridge. I would like to see a stripe to keep pedestrians and bicycles more separate. I think the dutch bicycle bells or really yelling out your intention to pass is necessary, and I would like riders to be aware and check their blind spot for faster riders to get over and let them by. Lastly: PLEASE TAKE OUT YOUR HEADPHONES so you can hear your surroundings. (not directed at anyone in particular, just a thought)

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  • el timito May 8, 2009 at 10:44 am

    To all who have a hard time reducing speed in congested (bike) traffic, I say:

    Can’t slow for courtesy?
    Why you so weak?

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  • Faux Porteur May 8, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Lets put everything in perspective. How many thousands of bridge trips are made a week? How many bicycle/pedestrian injury accidents have there been? Compare that with any other stretch or road with autos and everything starts to seem peachy-keen. Things on the bridge could be better (the manners of cyclists, pedestrians paying attention, barriers, signs, etc…) but all-in-all its pretty good.

    Again, if there was police and and ambulance took the injured party away, there is a police report. I’d like to read it.


    Name of the person injured? Name of the cyclist that allegedly caused the accident?

    Anyone know any of the witnesses? Not someone that saw an injured person on the bridge (the two reports I’ve seen have had conflicting accounts), but someone that saw this event as described in the original anonymous email sent to Mr. Geller well after the incident.

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  • Cat McG May 8, 2009 at 10:50 am

    It would be great to see bike speed limit signs on all shared-use paths, plus occasional electronic “your speed is” signs on some heavily trafficked bridges. Despised though they are, a couple well-timed “bike stings” on the Hawthorne Bridge might begin to impact the culture. Stakeouts at busy intersections last year appear to have instilled some lasting respect for critical stop signs.

    At a recent bike forum at PSU (led by several agency bike program managers), Bike Champions like myself (volunteer bike commute recruiters) spent much of the time lamenting the problem of speeding bikes deterring would-be bikers. More of us is better, but riding must be safe and enjoyable for all.

    Last winter, I encountered ice on the Hawthorne Bridge. I signaled bikers behind me and we all took to gingerly walking our bikes, holding the rail. One biker, however, blew by us, indifferent to the clues. He spun out of control right beside me, nearly took me down, and landed within inches of the curb and passing cars. He was rattled, so was I. It was a hard way for him to learn a lesson about safe biking–and nearly at my expense as well. I am a bike commuting advocate with a biking family heavily involved in the BTA, bike sales, and transportation infrastructure development. I believe enforcement of safe biking behaviors, as well as safe motorist behaviors, is critical to keeping us all safe and spreading the joy to new bikers. Well-designed infrastructure IS key for safe motoring and biking. But as bikers, we know that no amount of clever engineering protects us from the bad choices of the human behind the wheel. So, too, it is with the human behind the handlebars.

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  • L May 8, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I do agree that an education program needs to be put in place. It should be a Road Usage Education plan that can be listed as an endorsement on a State ID card and/or State Drivers License. The education should be required for all people over the age of 18. And should be renewed during each renewal period for a State ID card and/or State Drivers License. This would inform the public of all Road Usage laws pertaining to Pedestrians, Cyclists and Motorists. Lets face it not all Pedestrians and Cyclists drive or have ever driven a car and vise versa….So we all need to more courteous and careful….After the long winters here we can sometime be “Sun Drunk” which leads to poor decisions and sometimes anger. Announce yourself and when in doubt slow down in the name of safety. To all Pedestrians….please be courteous and share the path by not walking more than 2 wide so we all have access on shared use pathways….Thanks!

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  • Sarah Bott May 8, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Riding on the Hawthorne at rush hour makes me nervous. In addition to the heavy volume of cyclists, there are people walking and jogging — and this adds to the mix of some cyclists to weave in and out of the other traffic.

    Can education help instill common courtesy? There seem to be a fraction of the bicycling population that is not concerned about the well being of others, as they pass without signalling, even to the point of brushing up against you. How can you teach a grown person manners they should already know.

    I’m glad to see this issue discussed – no suggestions on any resolution, though. Just wish people would get a clue that their selfish behavior impacts others.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt May 8, 2009 at 11:39 am

    “(the crash was also witnessed by Portland Bike Forum member “tonyt”).”

    I did NOT witness that crash. I came upon the scene after the ambulance arrived. I believe my forum post makes that clear.

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  • bahueh May 8, 2009 at 11:44 am

    wow..this is just beautiful.
    everyone blaming everyone else with their own self-interest in mind.

    too funny. You wanted more riders in this town. You got them….experienced or not…fast or not…able to ride a bike in a straight line or not…

    I ride faster than the majority of folks out there…I also ride quite safely and consciously while realizing not everyone chooses to.

    Some a-hole caused a wreck and folks here are calling to have the entire bridge to themselves? make pedestrians suffer for one idiot? spend millions to expand a bridge that was just expanded a few year back? scrap off arrows to adjust traffic flow to your personal tastes?

    grow up folks….this is a city. there are other people in it…people need to share space.

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  • Jacob Furniss May 8, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Keep right except to pass , only pass on the left, and everyone go the same direction.

    We all learned this in high school drivers training, but for some reason this gets thrown out the window when we are walking or riding a bike.

    We could make some educational pamphlets. I suggest they be titled “Common Sense”.

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  • Bryan May 8, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Vance, let’s not forget that the Hawthorne bridge bicycle lane is indeed a sidewalk and not a road. If you feel the need to race across the bridge then perhaps you do belong on the grating. There is no room for aggressive cycling on the Hawthorne bridge. Period. For all of you who feel the need to bunny hop onto the grating or ride aggressively across the bridge, there’s always an OBRA license and plenty of bike races to attend. Who knows, Vance, it might improve your bike handling skills.

    SLOW DOWN in congested areas people. It’s that simple.

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  • rlk May 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Can we all agree that drafting a stranger is bad manners too? 🙂

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  • indy May 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Lot of comments, I didn’t read them all, but on the other side of Hawthorne, heading west, there are cyclists while going down the hill that ignore the “slow” signs and have nearly hit me (as a pedestrian during lunch walks.) You have bikers going 15-20 mph on a very narrow area with low visibility, something bad will happen there, if it already hasn’t.

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  • Anonymous May 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I think Oregon’s Basic Rule might apply in this situation. Replace “motorist” with “cyclist” and we have a reasonable code of conduct.

    “Designated and posted speeds are not the final word in Oregon. All travel on public streets and highways is subject to the Basic Rule. The Basic Rule is both a safety valve and an acknowledgment that drivers are able to act independently, reasonably, and with good judgment.

    The Basic Rule states that a motorist must drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent at all times by considering other traffic, road, and weather conditions, dangers at intersections and any other conditions that affect safety and speed. The Basic Rule does not allow motorists to drive faster than the posted speed, nor does it set absolute speeds designated for all conditions. The Rule expects drivers to be responsible for their own actions.”

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  • Roger Geller May 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    While the crash was indeed horrific to those involved and to those who witnessed it, the crash in and of itself is not the only point. The bigger point is that people are actively avoiding the Hawthorne Bridge at rush hour because it has become unpleasant to ride across because of the behavior of a sizeable minority who ride inappropriately for the conditions.

    Yes, the bridge pathways are undersized for current peak hour conditions. No, there are no current plans to undertake the expansion that is clearly needed. Perhaps the Morrison Bridge (scheduled to open this winter) will take some of the pressure off Hawthorne. Regardless, ridership will continue to rise and the Hawthorne will hopefully serve ever more people on bicycles.

    And it can, if people riding across the bridge when it’s crowded just take a giant chill pill as they cross that 1800 feet of shared pathway.

    The shared pathway is approximately 1800 feet long. The time difference over that span for somebody traveling 25 miles per hour versus somebody traveling 10 miles per hour is about 1.25 minutes. So, those who travel really fast on the bridge during times of peak congestion are basically saving themselves a little over a minute…and in so doing are making the experience somewhat miserable for everybody else using the bridge.

    The bridge sidewalks used to be 6-feet wide. In some ways back then conditions were safer as it was understood that pedestrians had to go single-file and cyclists had to go single file. That’s what people did and it worked fine. It was slow, but fine.

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  • Babygorilla May 8, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Not sure which is harder to believe, that I read all these comments or that it took until post #143 for someone to make sense.

    If you’re fast, give a warning and wait for some acknowledgement when overtaking (on the left) a slower rider on the bridge crossing. Don’t overtake when the person in front of you if that person is overtaking another cyclist or pedestrian. If you’re slow, keep to the right and signal when you need to get back in the left lane to overtake someone. On the road, don’t overtake someone in the bike lane, wait for a break in traffic and take the car lane to pass. Simple.

    And to the person that freaked out the other night heading east on the bridge, I’m not going to pass you in the 10 yards leading up to the ramp that puts you back on the street from the bridge deck, especially when I politely kept distance behind you as we both passed the pedestrians, so you don’t need to pull over to the railing and stop.

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  • Allan May 8, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I have an idea to fix this problem. Basically, as I see it, the problem stems from bikers commuting into downtown during the day and out of downtown at night (rush hour). Maybe the solution would be to prohibit(!) pedestrian traffic on the congested side of the bridge (detours aren’t terribly far away) during rush hour, leaving the entire space for bikers for 2 hours or so in the morning and evening. I don’t think this would terribly inconvenience anyone and it would solve the rush hour problem.

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  • Bryan May 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    #143 I think you have it right.

    #151 Don’t forget. The bridge is a sidewalk. We’re all traffic, whether we walk, ride, drive, or sit on a bus. ITS A SHARED SPACE.

    #149 DITO 1.25 minutes is not going to kill any of us. Reckless riding may however….

    That’s the point of this particular posting. Isn’t it?

    SLOW DOWN during rush hour until a better solution such as a dedicated bike lane is built.

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  • Bryan May 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    #143 I think you have it right.

    #151 Don’t forget. The bridge is a sidewalk. We’re all traffic, whether we walk, ride, drive, or sit on a bus. ITS A SHARED SPACE.

    #149 DITTO 1.25 minutes is not going to kill any of us. Reckless riding may however….

    That’s the point of this particular posting. Isn’t it?

    SLOW DOWN during rush hour until a better solution such as a dedicated bike lane is built.

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  • Allan May 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    #151… this sidewalk isn’t shared with drivers or bus riders. Why dismiss an idea that could solve some problems out of hand?

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  • Allan May 8, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    oops #153
    #151… this sidewalk isn’t shared with drivers or bus riders. Why dismiss an idea that could solve some problems out of hand?

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  • Bryan May 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Sorry, Allan.

    My bad. The sidewalk is shared by bikes and pedestrians, while the bridge is shared by all. It’s a shared bridge.

    Why penalize the pedestrians because cyclists can’t slow down for a few minutes?

    Agreed, long term planning should look at ways to make the bridge safer for all.

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  • RyNO Dan May 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Funny, at about 5:15pm yesterday on the Hawthorne bridge, I was riding across on my bike, some jerk was so hot to pass me that he was literaly 3 inches away from me.
    I yelled at dudester that he was too close, and he told me to get out of the way. NEVER !
    Oh, and to you crazy bell people who are always honking at me on the bridge: Same answer: NO !

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  • DJ Hurricane May 8, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    If you’re wondering why there is conflict on the bridge, all you have to do is read #157. For every guy going too fast for conditions, there is another a-hole who refuses to let people pass. And Dan, bicyclists are REQUIRED by Oregon law to give an audible signal when passing pedestrians on a sidewalk, so get used to the bells.

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  • Dave May 8, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    While it may be true that at certain times of day, there are congestion problems on the bridge – it’s pretty clear that in this instance, this would have been totally avoidable had the passing cyclist decided to just wait for about 30 seconds until whatever he was avoiding on the right passed, and he could go around safely.

    I agree with a few of the comments that as more cyclists ride around the city, we’re simply going to have to re-arrange how we view riding. We can’t view cycle paths as our own personal race tracks. You may (god forbid) have to give up a bit of your need for speed in order to see the condition of the city as a whole improve. In general, just being conscientious will avoid most incidents like this, I think. Really, it won’t kill you to ride slowly for the length of the bridge if you need to, or at least until you have room to pass, I promise.

    I actually love riding the Hawthorne most of the time, because it’s one of the only places in the city I get to be in a group of cyclists. As long as everyone pays attention and doesn’t behave dangerously, it works perfectly fine.

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  • olivia May 8, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    In recent weeks as weather has improved and more riders are on the road, I have been increasingly nervous. I am regularly passed on the right, which really frustrates me. I commute regularly into downtown on an Xtracycle with 1-2 kids on it and I am 5 months pregnant. I know I am very slow, but I ride as far to the right as safely possible, which is not conducive to the practive of fast passing on my right.

    Reading about this incident makes me want to stay off the road, even though I had intended and have every right to continue riding so long as I abide by rules of the road and feel balanced.

    I just received an email that the PDOT SmartTrips is conducting a safety event on the Hawthorne Bridge today between 4-5pm to encourage path users to be courteous and slow down given the congested nature of bike and pedestrian traffic on the Hawthorne.

    I agree with an education program to highlight the importance of signaling (audibly) when passing and employing other procedures to keep cyclists of all speeds, types, and ages safe on the road.

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  • Vance Longwell May 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    143, 148 – Here, here.

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  • BURR May 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    157/158 – The cyclist being overtaken has the right of way, not the overtaking cyclist. The cyclist being overtaken is under no obligation to let a faster cyclist pass if they don’t think conditions are safe for passing. The overtaking cyclist needs to slow down and wait until conditions are safe to do so.

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  • tbird May 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Open statement to Portland cyclists:

    Slow down!
    Not just on the bridges, but everywhere all the time. If you’re RIDING a bike, and not RACING a bike then there is really no reason to go more than 10-15mph.
    You’re not a professional racer, if you were then you would be off racing, not riding 30 block to and from your crappy job. You’re just some person that is riding a bike, you’re NOT special.
    Get over yourself.

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  • Allan May 8, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    #163 maybe YOU aren’t special. that being said, people race in their cars… why on earth would you expect anything different on a bicycle? Its not like someone magically waived the ‘chill’ wand on bicyclists. I think this is why i prefer my 18 mile bike commute to hillsboro. I don’t have to worry about congestion because almost noone rides west of the hills, and so its just me and the cars, who tend to be quite predictable

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  • chriswnw May 8, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    #163 We shouldn’t ride over 15 mph on a 25 mph or 30 mph street??

    What’s next, banning fun?

    F that.

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  • chriswnw May 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    #164 Indeed. The people on this board who want to turn Portland into Copenhagen make me feel that I’ll likely want to move to some place that less “bike-friendly” in about 10-15 years or so after they get their way.

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  • tbird May 8, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    #164. right, you got it. I’m not special, neither are you, or anyone else for that matter. Yes, I agree about the car/bike mentality. That was sort of the point of my post.

    #165 What about when your fun collides with my safety? Slow down, spend MORE time on your bike. Chill on the rad-guy biker ‘tude.

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  • chriswnw May 8, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Look, I don’t ride that fast across the Hawthorne bridge, but going 20 mph on a 25 mph street is perfectly legitimate.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt May 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm


    I think it’s you who needs to get over yourself. If I ride over 15 mph you think it must be because I think I’m special?????

    Project much?

    “Slow down! . . . everywhere, all the time.” ????

    “there’s no reason” really? According to omniscient you?

    Should we also never salt our food, eat only plain yogurt and eat corn flakes with low-fat milk? And maybe wash that down with some decaf green tea?

    If you have fun riding 10-15 mph, everywhere, all the time, then knock yourself out.

    Fun. Oh my god! It’s still legal!

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  • Lucky To Be Alive May 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    RyNO Dan @ 157
    Is it true….are you the self-righteous d.ouchebag that almost cost me my LIFE b/c you wouldn’t move to the right while I passed Thurs evening eastbound around 5:15 near the eastside ramp? After giving TWO verbal warnings I was doing so, there was no one to your right – ahead or behind- & you were taking the ramp to the right ahead of you anyway. You actually swerved- SWERVED to your left to cut my path and I only very narrowly avoided falling into either of the two cars speeding beside us in the street. So much so another rider caught up to check if I was ok it was so obviously frightening for all to see. As he said I was just “two inches from the curb.” There was no reason I couldn’t overtake you there, and it is not up to You to decide who or when you are passed. It’s simple, people: Stay to the right except to pass. Yes, bikes on the left and pedestrians on the right when both are present, but be reasonable about sharing the path. Slow, immovable riders can be just as much of a hazard as risky, weaving fast ones. Most of all, do NOT attempt to play police officer – or God – and ever, ever swerve at anyone or actively try to police them. Especially physically. Sounds like you have a regular problem w/this type of interaction? People are obviously going to try to pass you, heed their bells & verbal warnings and move to the right wherever the conditions allow for it.

    Exhortations to violence will be deleted, folks. Thanks. — Editor

    (My apologies if you’re just someone else w/a self-centered, self-righteous, foolish & impractical attitude.)
    I apologize for the harsh tone of this post but coming that close to possible death b/c of someone else’s cocky b.s. tends to leave you a bit riled.
    I hope horrible things befall you, Dan. Many curses on you…

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  • tbird May 8, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    My point is: It’s not about fun. It’s about transportation, safe transportation at that.
    Let go of your ego.
    Add salt if you want.

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  • chris May 8, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    “At this point Roger, I’d say that the cycling capacity of our streets is being exceeded by the collective stupidity of some cyclists”

    Don;t blame cyclists…blame the power elite for falsly stating Portland is a bike mecca. It is not, the infrastructure is lacking, and incidents like this, Bret and other recent deaths proves it. Let us become all that we have promised and more. We are not platinum. 2nite, we are not even gold.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt May 9, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Wrong tbird, it IS about fun. Life can be practical, functional, safe, AND fun. It’s not an either/or proposition.

    If you don’t feel safe going over 15 mph, fine, that’s your decision. But don’t put your fears on me. In 20 years of commuting by bike and riding around the country, I haven’t hit or threatened the safety of any other rider.

    There are times to go 10 mph, and there are times when you can haul. It’s called judgement, and we can apply it. No need for blanket ” slow down everywhere, all the time.” That’s not just not fun, it’s not thinking.

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  • Alexis May 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Can we not have fun and be safe at the same time? I don’t go 20 mph on the Hawthorne bridge… but why shouldn’t I bomb down Hawthorne? Riding from about 30th to 12th on Hawthorne is fun, and you can easily keep up with cars… with some prudent usage of brakes at lights you can have lots of fun and go plenty fast. chriswnw, you SHOULD be able to ride as fast as you can with traffic out where there’s no bike traffic (and, for that matter, not very many bike lanes). Sometimes that can be much safer, especially in areas where it’s not necessarily safe for cars to pass you but they might try anyways if you go 10mph. It’s really just about paying attention and knowing that when there are more people around you you have to go slower. But there ARE times when it’s safe (and really fun!) to go faster.

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  • christopher lee May 9, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    i don’t like the police or our judicial system, so instead of tickets and lawsuits, i say the cycling community just publicly shame this guy then stone him to death! blood!

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  • KimJSCP May 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    First off, I want to say that I read the entire post, but none of the comments, so I may be off base or saying what has already been said.

    However, in regards to bike traffic on the Hawthorne, which I believe is too heavy, there are 2 things we need to consider.

    #1 – In the StreetFilm mentioned, Elly Blue says that 20% of the traffic is bike traffic, but less than 10% of the space is allocated for bikes. I don’t know how accurate this is, but the problem is that bikes take up way less room than cars (remember the famous pic showing a road with a few cars and then with many bikes)and using this logic means that the cars are the ones being shorted space. Not a bicycle friendly impression to anyone willing to do the math.

    #2 – We need to consider the non car bridge that will be built and the huge impact that it will have on the non-car traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge. It may not be soon enough and it may not mean that changes don’t need to be made to the Hawthorne, but maybe more of our focus needs to be on the new bridge and making sure it can handle enough bike traffic, not just now, but in the future. It seems that the new bridge is where our opportunity lies to make the biggest change. There is only so much room on the Hawthorne and only so much than can be allocated to bikes, but the possibilities on the new bridge are almost boundless.

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  • Pojaco May 10, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    The problem here seems to be very obvious (if the original account is accurate), yet not many posts have addressed it: The guy who hit the girl messed up, and that is all. The Hawthorne bridge is not dangerous (though that cheese grater deck will destroy you) and, though crowded, it is not TOO crowded. The guy should not have been as close to the girl as he was, and he screwed up. This is not a reason to wail about bike safety, or reform, or whether or not Portland is a bike mecca or not. He made a stupid mistake, and he stuck around to own up to his mistake (good for him).

    It is unfortunate, but nothing occurred here that merits a re-education effort. It would be nice if everyone gave warning when they were approaching you on the left, but if you’re riding in a straight line and looking before you move out to the left then you’re not going to have accidents. The girl is a victim of a stupid person (or maybe just his one stupid mistake), not a dangerous bridge and not a lack of etiquette that plagues the cycling community here in Portland.

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  • joe adamski May 10, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    The ‘Basic Rule’ that one does not travel at a speed higher than is realistic owing to the roads oondition, traffic and weather effects applies here as well on the road.
    A cyclist rideing in such a manner that disregards the other factors on the roadway, such as presence of pedestrians, volume of traffic,etc might easily ( and IMHO, justifiably) be cited for a basic rule violation.
    Be forewarned…. this is situation that may be dealt with by enforcement action.

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  • Mary King May 11, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Of course we need people to stop riding in ways that are self-centered and dangerous, but we also need more and better capacity.

    There are a couple of other ways that someone is going to die on the Hawthorne bridge commute without a fix.

    The one that scares me every day is riding in front of the lane of cars merging onto the bridge. One day, someone is going to “see an opening” in the traffic, and plow into a cyclist.

    We need separate bike streets!

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  • Pete May 11, 2009 at 9:40 am

    “Lucky to be Alive at 170”

    Sounds like both of you were behaving like idiots. Calm down and accept that for the small duration of time, it takes to cross the bridge, you just might not be able to get around someone for whatever reason.

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  • El Biciclero May 11, 2009 at 10:16 am

    “If you’re RIDING a bike, and not RACING a bike then there is really no reason to go more than 10-15mph.
    You’re not a professional racer, if you were then you would be off racing, not riding 30 block to and from your crappy job.” –tbird

    Well, some of us have jobs we like–and we ride down suburban arterials (such as Murray Blvd. in Beaverton) next to 45mph auto traffic on our 8 mile one-way commute every day. I average about 13-14 mph over my entire ride, but that includes standing still for probably 5-8 minutes due to all those pesky lights and stop signs, so there are times when I might be going 20-25mph in a perfectly safe manner. If I were RACING my bike, I might be going closer to 30 for more of the distance–but I’m not a racer.

    Also, when I am the only cyclist riding next to a stream of cars, I AM special; I even get my own special lane sometimes. Rather than making blanket declarations about some absolute maximum “safe” speed, I think it comes down to what a lot of folks have been saying in the comments above: ride at a speed that is appropriate for the conditions–road conditions AND traffic (auto, bike, and pedestrian) conditions. Yes, conditions will sometimes dictate that we slow down to accommodate other traffic.

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  • Jon May 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I saw the crash on the Hawthorne bridge. I’ve seen many near bike crashes on my walk to work. I’m a M-F pedestrian who walks on the bridge west at 8:30am then east at 5:00pm. I’ve been doing this exact walk without fail (except in snowy January) for a year, so I’ve been witness to plenty of witless bike riding. There is plenty of room on the Hawthorne bridge for all modes of transportation. It gets a little crowded but so does car traffic. The bike problem is people problem. Bikers need to be held to the same standards as drivers when it comes to traffic laws. People who are daredevils behind the wheel of a car are going to behave the same on a bike. The only difference is that they get a free pass to be daredevils when biking in Portland.

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  • Michelle May 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I used to walk across the Hawthorne Bridge around 5:30pm every day heading east along w/the bikes but I’ve chosen to switch to the opposite side due to the agressiveness of bicyclists on the bridge. I’m very aware of where pedestrians are required to walk on the bridge & always walk as close to the outer rail as possible but I was still getting crowded by bicyclists who insisted on passing other bikes. I understand that you need to build momentum, are late, tired, etc. but the paths on the bridge are for pedestrians & bicyclists (which is clearly marked). Please remember that everyone has somewhere to be & we’d all like to get there safely. As for the bikes who ride in the opposite direction on the bridge…well, you just suck. It’s posted everywhere which side of the bridge you should use when heading east & west. I hope karma pops your tires.

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  • duncansadat May 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I ride the Hawthorne bridge M-F at 9:20 am and @ 6pm.

    I am a fast-paced biker. I’ll say that.

    This means that there are times when I’m riding 30 mph on the bridge. HOWEVER, this does not mean I’m a dangerous cyclist. When I can’t go the speed I want because of the bike traffic on the bridge, I slow as needed. Simple as that.

    Also, it seems “on your left” is not exactly widely known as a communique for “I intend to pass you.” I’ve often had folks swerve left instead of right.

    For folks like me that like to go fast, we need to learn (as I have biking the commute for 3 years) that when there’s traffic, you gotta go at the traffic’s pace. When you get a chance to pass, let the person you are passing know your gratitude cordially.

    I also feel that those cyclists among us that are riding slowly, keeping to the left, not responding to requests to pass—they are making the choice to keep me from passing and are being just as discurteous as the a-hole that caused this accident.

    Not everyone rides the same. Blanket statements or actions taken to make everyone ride the same won’t do anything. We need to make curtesy part of our bike ethic.

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  • Jon May 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    It seems the problem on the bridge is one of aggression vs. passive aggression. The speed demons during rush hour conflict with the “blissfully unaware” clogging the passing lane. It’s a classic combination that we see between drivers all the time. Both SHOULD follow basic laws of driving (maintaining average speed of traffic, staying right when not passing), but of course human nature takes over. But so many bikers act as if they don’t drive! As if this conflict was new to bikers. Also bikers: respect the pedestrians. It says so on the “Yield to Pedestrian” signs on either side of the bridge. As a walker, I’ve been in way too many near-misses with impatient bridge bikers.

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  • Spencer Boomhower May 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Jon #182

    “I saw the crash on the Hawthorne bridge.”

    What did you see happen? I haven’t been following this story closely, but I get the impression that there’s some disagreement as to the sequence of events. Did you post your story somewhere already?

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  • paul May 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    A note to all you “fast cyclists.” If you are overtaking someone and you cause a crash, you’re liable. Have an umbrella insurance policy? I hope you do. If you are overtaking me and cause a crash, you’re going to be liable. Period. You caused the crash. Doesn’t matter what I did, you’re at fault. If I’m “blissfully unaware?” YOU are at fault. If I do something and you can’t stop without hitting me, you’re at fault. If I stand up to pick my butt, swerving all over the sidewalk? YOU ARE AT FAULT. If I swerve left, YOUR ARE AT FAULT. If I slam on my brakes, you’re at fault. If I swerve left, right, left – yep, you’re at fault. GOT IT? IF YOU’RE OVERTAKING SOMEONE ITS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PASS SAFELY. GOT IT YET?

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  • DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 9:09 am

    No Paul, I don’t got it. You always have a duty of due care to everyone else on the road. Typing in all caps doesn’t change that.

    Being unaware of your surroundings is a perfect example of deviating from the standard of due care. So is swerving all over the sidewalk.

    You do not have a license to be negligent just because you are a slower rider or a pedestrian. Sorry.

    Don’t quit your day job, because with an idiotic legal analysis like that you’re going to lose every time.

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  • Alexis May 12, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Some people seem to be totally unaware of bike etiquette… I’ve had someone try to pass my boyfriend on the right, get hit when he swerved a little bit (my bf was going SUPER slow cause I was half a block behind him trapped at a light, on Main) and then start demanding my bf’s “information” and ask him to “know the law” (offended that he wasn’t on the edge of the lane… where there were parked cars and no bike lane…) and then spit at us as he peddaled away.

    Just this morning I had someone pass me on the right on the Hawthorne bridge, which is illegal, not to mention dangerous because I could hear a bike approaching and was moving to the right (there was barely enough room between me and the rail for him anyways and he plower past). It was early, it wasn’t crowded, there was plenty of space on my left (and other bikes passing on my left fairly often meaning I couldn’t get out of his way…) people are just douches on bikes sometimes. BUT it’s the same with any form of transportation, and at least idiots on bikes aren’t in a big metal death machine.

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  • Jon May 12, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Spencer #186 – I can’t give an accurate sequence of events. I was on my cell phone with a friend, I first saw (peripherally) the car slam on the brakes, then bike commotion (reporting this to phone friend)and then saw the biker get helped off the road. I hung up the phone and walked quickly to where the woman was sitting, surrounded by people. Her face was dripping blood, but she appeared OK and police were already coming, so I kept going and called my friend back to report what I saw. So I can’t give an accurate blow by blow.

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  • Lisa G. May 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I think that PBOT should be handing out free mirrors in addition to the bells.

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  • DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    This is my favorite thing ever said on bikeportland (from #189):

    “[P]eople are just douches on bikes sometimes. BUT it’s the same with any form of transportation, and at least idiots on bikes aren’t in a big metal death machine.”

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  • s May 13, 2009 at 12:46 am

    PDOT is handing out bells and putting them on any riders bike this week, which is great. I’m a walker and was given a pedometer (which I rather geekily love.)

    Regardless of what speed the cyclist was going, the point is this – it was an unsafe speed to pass at and it was an unsafe position to put other people on the road in. Good however, for the offending cyclist to jump into action and help the other bicyclist.

    It’s a rather a small lane of cement, and as such when we are on the bridge, we should all slow down to safe speeds and use signals to maneuver saefly around one another.

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  • WOBG May 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Jon, #185:

    There is no passing lane. There is a bike lane and a ped lane. Look down at the markings on the road surface.

    If you really do think the ped lane is for slow cyclists, you’re a big part of the problem out there during rush hour.

    You’re right that we should follow some basic laws of driving–one of which is to not drive on the pedestrian walkway.

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  • Jon May 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    WOBG – 194. I’m not a biker, I’m a pedestrian. And the passing lane I refer to is the one implied by there being enough room for one bike to pass another on the Hawthorne Bridge’s sidewalk- even when pedestrians like me are present. See post #182. That’s me, the same Jon.

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  • WOBG May 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Jon, there’s no passing lane implied–again, look down at the surface markings–but you’re right that plenty of people seem to *infer* one.

    “Enough room” is kinda subjective. Two cyclists side-by-side in the bike lane would just about be within arm’s reach of a ped–and even closer when peds are walking side-by-side or when one ped steps out to the left to pass others. Little room for error! And not enough for rush-hour conditions. And as seen in other comments on this thread and others in this blog, too close for many peds to feel safe.

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  • Jon May 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    WOBG – Perhaps “tacitly understood” would’ve been better wording. Trust me, after walking 1200 miles this year (five miles a day, five days a week), and all of it over the Hawthorne Bridge, I’ve seen the markers. I guess it’s a matter of opinion whether or not there’s enough room. As a non-biker, I’m tempted to defer to your opinion that the space isn’t wide enough. But I’ve also observed plenty of safe bike passing during rush hour. Just like in car traffic, it seems to be about patiently choosing your moment. But then again, there are those who go much too slow in the “tacitly understood” “passing lane”, and those eager to go much too fast. And so the vicious cycle continues…(pun intended)…

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  • WOBG May 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Fair enough, Jon! 😉

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  • tina September 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    If the same idiot was behaving that way in a car (& it is very likely that he would), there would be multiple fatalities in this situation.

    just saying.

    idiots abound in society. I am happy that more of those idiots are on bikes and not cars in this city.

    I think we should have some citizens step up and start monitoring the bridge. If people are racing across, heckle them, harass them, shame them… wake them up to the common sense people are talking about. This could be fun….

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  • Kathy September 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    At one time, the Sellwood and Ross Island bridges had signs posted on both side stating bikes were to be walked across. Still didn’t solve bicyclists who felt themselves above city/county rules, but if they biffed it,then it was too bad HOWEVER…

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  • rabbit September 21, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    many Portland cyclists are crappy riders, just as many Portland drivers are crappy. the penalties for bad behavior on any vehicle on public streets ought to be the same.

    i’m still surprised to need to assure my fellow bike-commuters that the fact that you pedaled to work does not mean you get to roll through stop signs, does not mean that you get to ride without a light, does not mean you get to fail to signal, does not mean that you get to knit traffic because you’re momentarily inconvenienced by all the other vehicles or pedestrians in your path.

    you’re being more gentle on the environment and spending your commute dollars more wisely. good for you. get over yourself.

    and even in those moments when you’re “in the right”, do not fail to remember that the laws of traffic do not in any way supercede the laws of physics. having the right of way and being crippled for your righteousness is not a satisfying moment you want to experience.

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