Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

City plans events in response to Hawthorne Bridge crash

Posted by on May 8th, 2009 at 2:47 pm

A graphic from the “Share the Path”
brochure produced by PBOT in July of 2007.

The City of Portland just released a statement in response to a recent crash between bike riders on the Hawthorne Bridge.

Today and Monday, employees of the City’s Transportation Options Division will be on on the south side of the bridge just east of the ramp to the Eastbank Esplanade where they’ll be “engaging with cyclists and pedestrians about sharing the Hawthorne Bridge.”

Story continues below


They’ll pass out free bells and pedometers as well as information about walking and biking safety on the bridge and other multi-use paths.

The statement also included this comment from Mayor Sam Adams:

“Given the congestion of the Hawthorne Bridge, we want to stress the importance of cyclists slowing down and all users being considerate and courteous.”

This isn’t the first time PBOT has had to encourage courteous behavior on multi-use paths. In the summer of 2007, they produced a “Share the Path” brochure and held an event to promote path etiquette as a proactive way to deal with crowded facilities.

    Share the Path Events
    Friday May 8th (tonight!) and Monday May 11th
    4:00 – 5:30 pm
    South side of Hawthorne Bridge, East of the Esplanade ramp
    Free bells, brochures and pedometers

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

  • Vance Longwell May 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    What? The pro-bike mayor wants cyclists to suck this one up? C’mon really? We can’t spread it around just a little?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeff May 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    “engaging with cyclists and pedestrians about sharing the Hawthorne Bridge.”

    and another reason i’ll be rolling up to the broadway bridge on the way home tonight, as if the sunny friday afternoon wasn’t enough. thanks for the heads up!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DJ Hurricane May 8, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I’d like to see the City focusing on speeding drivers, which are far more dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • AR May 8, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I, for one, think this is great. And I’m pretty impressed at how quickly they are pulling this together too. Government doesn’t usually work that fast.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Zaphod May 8, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    This is not a bad idea *if* the conversation discusses not only cyclists who thread the needle but also pedestrians who walk 3 abreast or are otherwise unaware of their surroundings.

    I tend to go fairly slow around pedestrians cyclists must constantly perform threat assessments and filter who to focus upon. When the person who was prevously perfectly still decides to randomly step backwards because they’re taking a picture or whatever can change the scene in an instant.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan May 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Hmm, I’d like a bell, but chances are I’m going to miss this. Who are all these people that commute from 5 to 5:30 every day? What with working late, hitting the gym, library, bank, post office, etc., I doubt I ride home during peak times more than once or twice a month.

    That’s right: “Use your library. The life you save may be your own.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • velo May 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I’m glad to see some movement on this, accidents will continue to happen if people don’t wake up!

    Some tips on not getting killed and/or killing someone on a bike:

    1) Ride at a sane speed and in a way that is predictable. Be aware of those around you.
    2) Lose the headphones, they shut out your surroundings and make it hard to react as quickly.
    3) Make yourself known. A bell, horn or your voice lets you warn people of your approach. Also, lights! Lots of them!
    4) This isn’t a crit and commuters aren’t the peloton. If you want to race then race. Otherwise, remember that you can lose precious seconds off your commute and it’ll be OK.

    To Peds:
    1) Pay attention, it’s a shared path.
    2) “On you left” means I am passing you on your left side. Don’t suddenly step to your left.
    3) Don’t walk 2-3-4-5 abreast if there isn’t room for people to safely pass.
    4) Don’t walk unpredictably.

    I recently saw a pedestrian step directly into a bikers path on the Hawthorne Bridge. Luckily the cyclist was a big dude (I’m guessing a cross raced too) and he was able to bump the guy out of his way instead of getting tossed into traffic. The ped went sprawling, but no one was badly hurt. It could have been a lot worse. The biker did everything right: sane speed, announced he was passing, etc and it still happened, but his actions prevented a serious accident. Be proactive!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Babygorilla May 8, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    so, at a point of some congestion / confusion, city folks are just going to set up shop and create more congestion / confusion for folks who just want to ride their bike and get home? Brilliant. Will folks just be milling around in the traffic lane like I see every month during breakfast on the bridges?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • tonyt
    tonyt May 8, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Zaphod #5,

    Word. That graphic needs 3 people walking side by side pushing SUV sized strollers.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DJ Hurricane May 8, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    @ #5 & #9:

    Three people walking side-by-side pushing SUV-sized strollers.

    Then two college kids carrying paddles horizontally.

    Then a sketchy guy in a hoodie walking directly into your path.

    Then a cyclist who can’t hold a line wearing headphones.

    Then a tweaker pedaling the wrong way.

    Then an unbroken line of cars, trucks, and busses all going about 40mph is a 30mph zone right next to you.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bahueh May 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    this is weird…does the city go out to the site of every car crash and hand out pamphlets to drivers the next day?

    I guess any “education” is good for those that don’t actually figure this stuff out on their own…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Christopher Cotrell May 8, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Hopefully the bike path across the Morrison bridge (installed only ten years after the last one was removed) will relieve some of the congestion on the Hawthorne, but I think it’s pretty clear that eventually bike traffic will reach the point where the city will seriously need to consider repurposing two of the lanes on the bridge for bikes, and making the sidewalks ped-only.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • ms May 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Cool! Thanks, PBOT for the quick action. I hope this can be done more than once – maybe a volunteer opportunity -esp since bike traffic will shoot up over the next 3-5 months?

    On my way across the Broadway Bridge today, I was noticing how much more of a divider there is between the sidewalk (that bikes/peds share) and the actual bridge roadway. There is a low metal “fence” plus, big metal bridge structure (sorry not technical language). It seems much less likely a bike or ped would get knocked into traffic because of this. Could the Hawthorne get something like this?? Just a thought – not sure of the engineering & cost.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kevin Wagoner May 8, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks for the info, this is a good response. I’ll ask Sam to include similar efforts on the other bridges (Sellwood, Steal, and Broadway come to mind).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mike m May 8, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Am I the only one who can’t believe there is not a railing separating the cars from the bike\walk lane. Every time I ride or drive over Hawthorne or Ross Island I can’t believe their is not a railing. Pedestrian bike accidents are one thing, but falling 2 feet onto a steel grate in 40 mph traffic is another.

    Can’t wait till my son rides over Hawthorne for the first time. I’ll probably be scared to death the whole time.

    For the amount of traffic on the bridge Portland should put up a railing, no questions asked. Immediately. Unless their is something I don’t understand.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Rixtir May 8, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Second time I’ve seen reference to the Steal Bridge. Is that a bridge for the tweakers, to sell for scrap?

    And if so, is their motto “steal is real”?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe Rowe May 9, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Yes on the Hawthorne railing. My guess is that there will be more cars glancing the rail and bouncing back, as opposed to cyclists.

    I wanna say something to all the cyclists who are pointing fingers at peds.

    Bikes need to yield to pedestrians always, and we need to be nice to them when we yield. I suggest this even when there are 3 of them side by side, wearing ear pods, and pushing a giant baby stroller.

    Really, bikes need to be diplomats. We get payback by being nice because these pedestrian yield situations are not that frequent, and most pedestrians are gonna get behind the wheel of a car.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • brian May 9, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Walkers need the training.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous May 9, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I love it! Come close to killing someone and the city gives you an event.

    We certainly would not want to make people responsible for their actions.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mechanic Mark May 9, 2009 at 10:22 am

    The problem with installing a railing is that it will make the path narrower. To allow safe distance from the end of the handlebars will take an extra foot and a half.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 2ndAveFlyer May 9, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Perhaps I interpreted yesterdays’ published letter incorrectly, but it seems to me the slow bike rider was riding next to the edge of the roadway and the faster bike rider was forced to pass her on the right. Of course going too fast for conditions is reckless but, as out on the highway, I think slow drivers cause as many problems as fast drivers. This does not excuse the fast bike in this crash but I’m surprised few have remarked that the slow bike should not have been riding to the far left of the available sidewalk. Like wandering pedestrians this kind of riding also contributes to accidents. The fast bike is not completely at fault here, unless there are some details of the crash explanation that I don’t understand.
    Raising awareness can’t hurt. My guess is the true cost is very little as these employees of the city would be going to work to perform other services anyway. Kudos…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SkidMark May 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    How about a “Pay attention to your surroundings” one with some zombie-like pedestrians with iPods on. It isn’t just the cyclists that aren’t exercising caution.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Elliot May 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    2ndAveFlyer, check this story, which updated the description of the crash. It seems actually the slower cyclist was on the right and the faster cyclist passed on the left.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • indy May 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I’ve seen this a few times, and I think bikers yelling “On your left,” is not acceptable for passing pedestrians. If you’ve ever been a pedestrian with a passing cyclist, your initial reaction to suddenly hearing a voice is surprising and jarring, and you aren’t thinking about the semantic structure of what that phrase means. You hear “left” last and your instinct is to move left.

    If you’ve ever reacted quickly to something, you’ll notice that you will often react BEFORE you even realize the situation has occurred.

    Bells probably are the best bet here. Someone hears a bell, they know a bike is coming in milliseconds, and they instinctively know a biker will be passing them on the left.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • SkidMark May 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I guess if your instinct is to do as your told by random strangers, then hearing someone say “left” would result in you moving left. To me it means someone is approaching me on my left side.

    Not everyone responds to a bell, some peds don’t even look over their shoulder.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Btodd May 10, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I am not talking about this particular location, but pedestrians have no rules. they walk against traffic. against.

    has there ever been a discussion about why walkers/runners don’t follow the flow of traffic out on the streets.

    again cyclists are second class citizens.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Bill Stites May 10, 2009 at 10:54 am

    We are already discouraging riding bikes across the Hawthorne Bridge based on avoiding the rush hour crunch. The bridge has clearly reached unsafe levels, whether it’s due to poor rider behavior or facilities limitations.
    Hopefully, when the Morrison bridge comes online that will provide some relief.

    I am consistently surprised that there aren’t more crashes based on what’s going on out there. Balancing on a two-wheeler on the edge of a path where one can fall into a lane of passing car traffic that is RIGHT THERE scares the hell out of me. The person who fell is extremely lucky to not have been run over by a car – can you imagine? – I get sick just thinking of it.
    One has to ride ultra-defensively to avoid being put in danger by other cyclists, of which there are an astounding number that think they are so skilled that they can ride out of any situation …

    I agree that a railing would be a huge safety improvement, and likely save lives in the future.
    The better alternative is to convert the outer lanes to bike lanes, covering the grating when feasible. Maybe just limit the access during rush hour times only, for now. New York City does rush hour lane conversions all the time.
    I understand there are many different users on the bridge, but in the long term we need to encourage sustainable means of transport – period.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • steve May 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    This accident was not caused by either of the riders.

    It was in fact caused by the atrocious infrastructure supplied by PDOT and the city of Portland. I hope both of the cyclists involved sue the governmental entities responsible, as well as the individuals heading the relevant bureaucracies.

    Having said all that, how many accidents have occurred at this location relative to other areas and modalities?

    This is a ridiculous over response and a waste of resources.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jc May 11, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Free bell ? What side of bridge? Not sure where esplanade is.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • mirror happy May 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Why is there no discussion about using a mirror while cycling in traffic?

    I would never expect a vehicle to use their horn to announce they are passing me.

    When I do use my bell I seem to startle the cyclist I’m passing, because they can’t tell where or how far behind I am, they just hear a bell ringing.

    I rarely use my bell now. When I do it’s basically a “WATCH OUT! You are not paying attention!!!!” (similar to when I use my car horn)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • resident May 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm


    its about time someone threw that arguement in the mix. Be aware of your surroundings folks!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Vance Longwell May 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    #31 Ya! By blocking as much of your forward, and peripheral vision as possible. Ya! Try ’em on your bike too! Hurray, the E-room docs will have hours of fun removing them from various orifices of your body. Whee!

    Why see your surroundings when you can have them all blocked off by mirrors? Yay mirrors. You can’t see anything in them. Most often the best foreign made junk money can buy. All that and by the time you finish trying to use them you’re usually running somebody off the Hawthorne bridge onto the grating.

    Or you could just wear/mount them ’cause YOU think there nifty, and leave the safety issues to those who prefer a clear field of vision, and their bike just the way the manufacturer designed it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0