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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

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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: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

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).

Wuss912
Guest
Wuss912

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

Paul Tay
Guest

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?

amos
Guest

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.

shane
Guest
shane

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.

Corey
Guest
Corey

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.

Paul Tay
Guest

#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?

Corey
Guest
Corey

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

I drink the line
Guest
I drink the line

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?

Evan
Guest
Evan

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.

Joe Mansfield
Guest

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.
WTF?
Perhaps more prominent direction arrows and a bold pedestrian/cyclist dividing line would improve the situation?

amos
Guest

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

robbie
Guest
robbie

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.

Dutch
Guest
Dutch

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

Wishing the lady a speedy recovery.

Robert
Guest
Robert

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.

david
Guest
david

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.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Hopefully the Morrison improvements will help!

Kronda
Guest

Jessica(#1)

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

Neighbor
Guest

“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.

FauxPorteur
Guest
FauxPorteur

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.

Mierda Bici
Guest
Mierda Bici

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

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

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.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

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

David
Guest

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.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

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.

beelnite
Guest
beelnite

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?

robbie
Guest
robbie

“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.

Bent Bloke
Guest
Bent Bloke

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.

AC.
Guest
AC.

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

Dave
Guest
Dave

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paul Tay
Guest

#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!

Martha R
Guest
Martha R

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.

Bob
Guest
Bob

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.

peejay
Guest
peejay

— 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!

b
Guest
b

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.

commuter
Guest
commuter

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?

are
Guest
are

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.

robbie
Guest
robbie

@peejay
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”

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

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.

mmann
Guest

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.

js
Guest
js

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.

Robb
Guest

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.

SkyC
Guest
SkyC

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…

jeff
Guest
jeff

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.

Gabriel McGovern
Guest

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”.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

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

naomi
Guest
naomi

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?

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

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.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

“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.

OnTheRoad
Guest
OnTheRoad

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.