Could a new plan for pedestrians help Hawthorne Bridge congestion?

Posted by on May 14th, 2009 at 10:00 am

new Hawthorne Bridge markings

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

So far, in our coverage of the Hawthorne Bridge Crash, we’ve heard from an eyewitness and the two people who collided. We’ve also discussed both infrastructure and behavior-based solutions.

But one important party to this issue has been left out: pedestrians.

It’s hard to determine what exactly caused Erica Rothman’s harrowing crash, but it’s likely that the presence of people on foot played a role (Rothman had veered to the left to avoid them). On that note, I’d like to share an idea from Ron Richings. (Richings is the guy I mentioned in my editorial on Tuesday who put quite a bit of thought and advocacy work into this issue last summer.)

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“…during rush hours, all pedestrians could be directed to the south sidewalk in the morning and the north sidewalk in the afternoon.”
— Ron Richings

Richings’ idea is based on the premise that people are quite unpredictable when walking, and keeping them away from bikes would increase safety for everyone. In an email to Multnomah County Transportation Planner last summer, he explained his idea like this (emphasis mine):

“Pedestrians however may walk three or more abreast, turn around without warning, stick out an arm leg or whatever, and do a variety of other unpredictable things. And the closing speed between bikes and pedestrians is much greater than between bikes and bikes, so reaction time can be very limited.

Where all this leads is to wonder if, during rush hours, all pedestrians could be directed to the south sidewalk in the morning and the north sidewalk in the afternoon? A slight inconvenience for walkers but potentially a significant increase in safety and utility for cyclists.”

The idea is to reserve the bridge pathway exclusively for bikes in the prime commute direction.

Bikes and peds mix on the Hawthorne.

Richings thinks this would not only help cyclists’ plight, but that the “pedestrian re-allocation” would improve their safety as well. He acknowledges that there might be some “initial grumbling” about being re-routed, but that people would quickly adapt. He also points out that there is some very recent precedent for this in his hometown of Vancouver, B.C..

Faced with dangerously narrow, six-foot wide sidewalks shared between bikes and peds (Hawthorne path is 11-feet wide) on each side of the Burrard St. Bridge, the City of Vancouver decided just last week to do a trial of a new configuration: pedestrians and bikes will now each get their own sidewalk (and bikes also get a full lane on the bridge roadway, something that Multnomah County says won’t happen here).

Drawing of trial configuration of Burrard Bridge in Vancouver (note the separation of bikes and peds).
(Graphic: City of Vancouver)

When I brought Richings’ idea up to a planner friend the other night, he said the idea was worth some thought. The biggest push-back he said it might encounter would be from pedestrian advocates who are loathe to endorse anything that creates any level of inconvenience for walkers (can’t blame them for that).

What do you think? The County is looking for suggestions, so perhaps we can help them vet this one out.

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    chad May 14, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Sounds like a good and fairly simple solution.

    I noticed there was much stress put on the safety of cyclists, but wouldn’t this also be a great safety enhancement for pedestrians as well as the risk of a cyclist/pedestrian collision seems just a possible as a cyclist/cyclist collision?

    If safety for all forms of transport across the bridge is the focus of this potential solution one would think it would be hard for any one group to reject it outright.

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    peejay May 14, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Too complicated! But good for whomever is thinking about this. Keep at it.

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    Allison May 14, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I’ve said before that bike/ped mix is often a problematic one.

    But…the distance you’d have to cover on foot to get to the other side is pretty substantial when you’re talking about walking.

    And the signage to explain what’s going on would be kind of complicated.

    Maybe it’s the least bad solution to a complicated problem, but I think everyone should keep thinking.

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    Vance Longwell May 14, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Wow, J thank you thank you thank you for some objectivity. Now that’s some BP I’ve come to respect and admire! All I’ve asked is that other factors in this accident be considered. Well, other factors that won’t lead to criminalizing people’s behavior, that is.

    Excellent, excellent work. Again, thank you.

    Now, in my day we had a heck of a time messing with the peds on this bridge. Is it now felt the time is right for another run? It’s completely an irrational position, I’m the first admitting it, but I’ve always felt the Hawthorne belonged to us bikes. For so long it was the ONLY way, I’ll tell ya.

    Our efforts resulted in an outcry though. A really, really, big one. Peds’ position was that it was more work to pick a side to access this bridge, or walk to another one than it was for bikes just to alter their route or riding style.

    Has this changed? Are peds willing to give up the bridge a little? I’d be surprised.

    To restate my position, I think things are fine just the way they are. Should a concerted effort to look at this incident objectively produce the NEED for some prudent changes, I can get on board with that.

    I can’t get behind finger-pointing (Unless it’s at Progressive-Liberal elitists hell bent on helping me whether I need it or not.) and this new consideration is anything but. Thanks again!

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    ScottG May 14, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I bet enough pedestrians are annoyed by bike traffic on the bridge that they could view this as just as much a benefit to themselves as it would be to cyclists.

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    dsaxena May 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Let’s do it! I believe this is akin to what is done at the Golden Gate Bridge does.

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    RyNO Dan May 14, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Sure, blame it on the peds. Nice.

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    joe May 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

    this is the best solution that I have seen. it is low cost and low inconvenience. it seems so simple to me – not as complicated as some have said.

    from first light til 10am(or whatever) – fast traffic goes on the north side; slow traffic goes on the south side.
    from 4 til 7pm, fast traffic is rerouted to the north side. this can easily be done with some signs and some education.

    do it as a guideline, not a law. in short order, it will become the natural order of things. new people will quickly follow suit.

    alternatively, some sort of cycletrack covering those awful grates would alleviate the congestion – but, umm, good luck with that.

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    oscar May 14, 2009 at 10:34 am

    why not just dedicate one side for peds, and the other for cyclists, at all times?

    (i’m not from portland, so if there is something blatantly wrong with this idea please enlighten me politely)

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    Frank May 14, 2009 at 10:37 am

    What about those cyclist going against the flow in this scenario? I suppose you would two-way bike traffic on the one side? Sounds like a bad idea.

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    Ross May 14, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Too complicated. Just separate the bike and peds with a continuous painted line. Simplicity is the key.

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    DJ Hurricane May 14, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I think a better idea is to make the inner lanes auto-only, outer lanes bike-only, and sidewalks ped-only.

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    Coyote May 14, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Unbelievable. Simply Unbelievable. Replace the the word bike with the word car, and word pedestrian with the word bike, and re-read the above article. Still sound like a good idea? You replaced car-head with bike-head.

    It is a public right of way. To restrict the the most basic form of transport to appease bicycles is ridiculous. It is public space. It will never be acceptable to me to abridge the right to walk somewhere. Good Grief!

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    mike m May 14, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I would feel safer if the walkers were looking at me. So walk in the opposite direction of traffic just like people are supposed to do if they are walking on the road. I think most people who see a biker coming would not wave an arm or step in front of a biker.

    It seems in my experience most walkers are walking the same direction as traffic. So they don’t see you coming and maybe startled by a bell or call out. And it’s also harder to say hello.

    What ever the change if we asked people to do it for safety during rush hours and most people complied that would make a big difference.

    Maybe the city could hand out something to the walkers who walk in the right direction.

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    Zaphod May 14, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Interesting and worth additional analysis but it still appears that we’re working with a system that is over capacity. Suppose we go through the exercise and develop such a system, it’s an incremental improvement for some users.

    I wonder if these PBOT officials who immediately discount options as a “non-starter” are jumping the gun. I’m referring to opening up a road lane. Related to the metal grating; while I’m sure that current engineering design norms make creating a new surface too expensive and too heavy, I’m not willing to write it off as impossible.

    With material specifications changing and improving all the time, I believe that there are several products that could be installed (be it sheet, roll, etc.) temporarily or permanently for not a lot of money.

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    peejay May 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

    More paint, more rules, more education, more enforcement, please! And when that doesn’t work, we can always do even more, and more, and more!

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    Allan May 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I fully support this idea as i independently came up with it 🙂 Implement ASAP for safety of all, I say! the inconvenience for walkers is roughly 100 steps in the worst case at each side of the bridge.

    Would bikes going against the rush still stay where they are used to being under this proposal?

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    Tom May 14, 2009 at 10:52 am

    as a lowly ped who walks the bridge:

    1) i didn’t know the bikes owned the hawthorne bridge? i didn’t realize we weren’t sharing it with bikes already? its not like other bridges are a picnic for peds either

    2) i’ve actually thought about trying to cross the bridge on the other side in the morning, but it is out of my way, and feels like a lot of effort for my in-efficient, earth-bound legs.

    3) and if we are going to use a yardstick of “least effort” and simplicity:
    – bikes could simply “go slow” and “yield to peds” as the signs say now.
    yield is debateable. go slow: all bikes go their cruising speed on bridge. no bike currently slows down in the presence of peds.
    – bikes could have rule no passing other bikes in a congested zone, i.e. ride single file, instead of trying to pass each other. that would shave 20 seconds off the commute of the faster bikers? versus the extra few minutes rerouting peds to the other side?
    – or in the spirit of trying to change other’s behavior instead of our own: we could make the middle of the hawthrone bridge a walk only zone. bikers would have to walk their bikes across the congested zone. that would be simple to understand. would slow down traffic. be safe. and seems the least “inconvenient” to everyone from my perspective.

    4) sorry for the rant, but speaking of unpredictable… i have no idea if a bike is going to pass me from behind inches away, or many feet away. beyond the hawthorne bridge, as we live in a less car centric, it would be nice for us to evolve some basic rules of the road such as the proper way for a bike to pass peds from behind. i suspect we’ll be sharing the same paths for many years to come.

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    joe May 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

    agree about the idea of adapting a car lane to car/bike. I could imagine a few mm thick plastic strip that is 3 foot wide would make this possible.

    the speed limit on the bridge is 25, I think. so, the speed devils out there could keep up with the flow of traffic.

    agree with the comment on PBOT. people who are good at solving problems do not approach them by taking good options off the table.

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    Kris May 14, 2009 at 10:55 am

    If we want to avoid future user conflict, we can’t just keep pretending that both bikes and peds have the right to use the full width of the path at their own discretion and risk. I would vote for a painted line to separate bikes and peds at each side of the bridge. The big question PBOT will need to tackle is how much space to allocate for each user group.

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    Matt Picio May 14, 2009 at 10:59 am

    This idea was floated last night in discussion during the Multnomah County Bike / Ped Citizens Advisory Committee, along with other ideas like increased education. The county would need to evaluate any proposed solution before committing to any course of action (note: I don’t speak for the county, I’m voicing a personal opinion as a committee member).

    I, likewise am concerned about anything that might reduce access for pedestrians. They have an equal right to that bridge, and any solution that removes the access they currently enjoy would be less than optimal. I agree somewhat with those who say “replace bikes with cars and peds with bikes” – the same arguments can be applied to removing right-of-way from cyclists.

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    flowb33 May 14, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Excellent solution. I couldn’t agree more with this. And to minimize the odd signage and cut-off times, I’d suggest just making it permanent: Pedestrians get the north side; Bikes get the south side.

    From either side, there’s perfect, convenient access to the Esplanade, and for Pedestrians walking past Grand Ave., the north side drops them down into the lower SE, allowing them to avoid the “second bridge” with narrow sidewalks.

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    DJ Hurricane May 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    So, why isn’t a more equitable and equally effective solution to make the inner lanes auto-only, outer lanes bike-only, and sidewalks ped-only?

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    flowb33 May 14, 2009 at 11:05 am

    DJ Hurricane — because we’re not just talking about cars/bikes/peds here. Trimet buses and occasional trucks are also in the mix, and they can’t fit through the center lanes.

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    Josh May 14, 2009 at 11:05 am

    It doesn’t seem that complicated to sign, as long as the ped restrictions only apply between the ramps/approaches on the west side and the ramps to the Esplanade on the east side — just put a few “No Peds” or “Peds Not Advised” signs at each end with a time restriction, 7a-9a westbound and 4p-6p eastbound, for example.

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    Paul Cone May 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

    It seems like this would be a significant increase in safety and utility for cyclists AND pedestrians. I don’t walk the bridge much (usually I’m on my bike) but I would feel safer reducing the bike/ped interaction.

    Also, just because it’s right-of-way doesn’t mean it should not be controlled. The middle of the street is also right-of-way, but we don’t walk in it usually, do we?

    Finally, the COUNTY maintains and controls the right-of-way on the Hawthorne Bridge — not PBOT (the City).

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    Jessie May 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

    No thank you. Here is the order of priority for right-of-way and desire line accommodation: pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers. Transit riders fall off the bottom of the list due to the inflexibility of (re)routing this mode.

    The primary circulation factor in the quality-of-life/’livability’ of a city is its ability to accommodate walking in a convenient, secure, and scenic manner.

    Restricting pedestrian access across the scenic, safe, and convenient Hawthorne Bridge would significantly reduce the city’s pedestrian level-of-service.

    While many pedestrians and bicyclists share the Hawthorn paths pacifically day-in and day-out, the strong and fearless would prefer a higher speed commute route. I suggest the Morrison Bridge: a full lane width in each direction designated with a sharrow. East bound bike traffic travels east on Stark to Naito Parkway, turns south and accesses the bridge on the ramp just north of Morrison. Exit the bridge of the east side on the Yamhill ramp. Heading west, travel north or south on Water to the #15 bus stop access. Once on the bridge travel west (past a new stop sign holding back drivers exiting I-5) and exit on the Naitio Pkwy ramp.

    Also, it may be interesting to note that the Golden Gate Bridge configuration is highly unpopular with local pedestrians.

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    twistyaction May 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

    @ Coyote, #13: There’s already TONS of “public space” where your right to walk is abridged by cars: the middle of the street. If mandating a little separation for different modes of transportation keeps all types safer, it’s at least worth considering.

    The solution proposed in the article above does address some good points, but having ridden the Golden Gate bridge 100’s of times, it’s not all roses doing this kind of rush hour separation. On the bike only side the speeds increase greatly. When running two ways on that one side, the risk that reckless cyclists pose (whether from carelessness or lack of experience) increases. I had a person on a rental bike decide to swerve out from behind his buddy to pass him without looking while they were approaching a narrowing point with me oncoming. I was out towards the railing and he collided with me head-on sending me flying through the air. I was flying above railing height and all that stopped me from going over the side of the G.G. bridge 100 feet down to a parking lot was a lamp post that I was able to push myself off of back towards the bridge deck.

    I foresee the pedestrians, when forced to use only one side during peak times being quite resentful of the counter-commute cyclists that still have to share the sidewalk with them if the bike only side is sensibly made one way, and there will be twice the density of peds to coexist with.

    One good suggestion that I read in a related thread about 7,000,000 comments ago was for a finer mesh that would still drain, but roll smoother, to be laid down over the outer lanes in each direction. Cyclists can’t have the outer lane all to themselves because the buses still need it, but cars could still haul ass on the inner lanes and the bus, I’m sure, wouldn’t mind going the speed of the fast cyclists who want to take the lane for the length of the bridge.

    While we’re on rush hour flow. I love the white suit trumpet guy at the top of the eastbound on-ramp, but his location makes it that much harder for cars merging onto the bridge from northbound Naito to see cyclists coming up before they pull out in front of them to enter the outer lane. I’d throw him a buck just for being considerate of our safety and moving out of the line of sight there.

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    tony May 14, 2009 at 11:25 am

    When i used to walk over the bridge I only went over the North side… it was closer to where I was going and far more convenient.

    I have been making an effort when there is congestion on the bridge to slow down and not pass cyclists.

    I think if we all just calmed down and did not pass when there is congestion on the bridge (and cyclists stopped swerving to the right and left to let people pass) we wouldn’t have a big problem here.

    Slow down, enjoy the view on the bridge, and get home safe!

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    grrlpup May 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I’m mostly a pedestrian, running and walking, and rarely get on my bike. (I like reading BikePortland because of the overlap of bike and ped issues.) Speaking just for me, I wouldn’t mind being directed to one side or the other of the bridge, as long as the instructions were clear. It’s just a matter of walking underneath and up the other side, at either end of the bridge.

    But I would resent it if I moved to the smaller approved ped zone and bikes were still zipping by me so I felt like I had to hug the railing. That would feel less like sharing and more like being pushed aside. I don’t think bikes have a “right” to pass each other with no waiting because some are faster than others. The bridge needs to be considered a slow-and-careful zone for everyone.

    It occurs to me that so far, it’s still cars that are not being asked to share, unless you count respecting the painted bike lanes when it’s time to peel off onto MLK.

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    Todd Boulanger May 14, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Yes the true remaining lease cost solution with too much success (volume) is to ration space…move the peak hour bike traffic down to the #2 outside vehicle lanes. Other than modifying the roadway surface one would have to evaluate making it a bike + bus lane (peak periods only).

    During the commute period buses travel at bike speeds so there would be less impact on transit travel times. (Though this might be less comfortable for novice commuters – or wait for the bus to pass before crossing the bridge.)

    I have read it here in the past that the #1 lanes (inner) are too narrow for bus traffic, so they have to stay in the #2 lanes.

    These comments assume that the Hawthorne Bridge will keep drawing the bulk peak hour bike traffic and not have it go to other bridges.

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    Jeremy May 14, 2009 at 11:31 am

    In reference to making the inner lanes Auto-only and the outer lanes for bikes, it is my understanding that two buses cannot pass each other in the inner lanes. That is why you see when one lane is shut down one direction, they have to shut down the inner lane the opposite direction.

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    Word May 14, 2009 at 11:37 am

    I agree with Ross, and Kris (#11 & #20). A painted line, as shown in the picture, could be extended the full length. It would need to be “two lanes” wide for bikes, not just one like the picture (although it’s necessary for that particular area where the picture was taken). It’s much easier for walkers to crowd by each other safely then it is for bikes, and their speed differential is usually smaller.

    I ride across the bridge on a regular basis and have very few problems if any, with other cyclists; however, some pedestrians are a challenge – walking 3,4, or even 5 abreast, not walking in a straight line, and walking in the bike area & refusing to move because they think they’re in the right by walking on the right side (when headed the opposite direction of bike traffic). A painted line is a relatively inexpensive solution. It’s simple and non-confusing, and wouldn’t inconvenience any “group” by requiring them to cross sides at different times of the day.

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    KruckyBoy May 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

    If someone asked the PDX bike community to go a mandatory 50 feet out of their way, they would FREAK out. Look at what happened when trimet tried to keep cyclists out of the rose quarter transit center. F-R-E-A-K O-U-T. So why should ANY pedestrian do anything but fight a proposal like this tooth and nail? Why should these pedestrians be inconvenienced in ANY way when they are helping the environment by not driving cars? It’s not that I think it’s a terrible idea. I just find it ironic that us cyclists are fine as long as it is someone besides us who is being inconvenienced.

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    joel May 14, 2009 at 11:46 am

    eh, i call shenanigans on this one.

    1. who gave us bikes priority on the hawthorne bridge sidewalk?

    2. so, you shunt all the peds to one side or the other… what happens to the bike traffic travelling in the opposite direction to rush hour traffic? would you have them ride with the now-doubled (and bi-directional) traffic on the non-bike side? or ride counter-flow on the new, single-direction bikes-only side? im seeing more problems caused than solved.

    while were thinking total overhaul of how we use the hawthorne, why dont we just:

    a) close the walkways to all but peds;

    b) leave the outside lanes for buses and cars;

    and c) close the center lane, pave the grate, remove the westbound left turn off the bridge onto sw 1st, and use the east side exit ramps onto se water for bikes only.

    so we lose direct accessibility from the esplanade, and the launch ramp on to se hawthorne. whatever. its the only viable “solution” i can see using the extant bridge facility, expansion of which is a moot point.

    either that, or people just start riding like responsible people, across a mixed-use path on a bridge with limited space.

    as far as im concerned, redesigning the whole bridge layout so that bike commuters can act like theyre car drivers on the freeway has limited benefit. i dont see a case of exceeded capacity here – i see a case of an overblown sense of entitlement.

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    vanessa May 14, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Two questions.

    What about bicyclists who commute “backwards” — live on the west side and work on the east side? I did this for almost two years. Are we supposed to bike on the bike only side, playing chicken with the “right way” commuters?

    Second. Is the sidewalk on the Hawthorne bridge technically considered a “sidewalk”? If so, it seems like bicyclists should be subject to ORS 814.419(b):

    814.410 Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following:

    (b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.

    Now, if the Hawthorne sidewalk isn’t considered a sidewalk…

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    Matt Picio May 14, 2009 at 11:53 am

    twistyaction (#27) – re: finer mesh, a great idea, but it would still cost a lot of money to do that (which the county doesn’t have). The mesh would weigh at least several hundred pounds on the lift span portion, requiring extra weight on the bridge counterweights (and a corresponding engineering study). The Hawthorne Bridge is a historic structure (coming up on its 100th birthday), so anything that modifies its configuration or structure has additional hurdles to pass through.

    Not saying it couldn’t be done, just saying that there are a lot of considerations that would discourage the county from applying that type of treatment to the bridge.

    Word (#32) – Why would it need to be 2 lanes wide for bikes? Give 1/2 to peds and 1/2 to bikes, and if bikes can’t safely pass, then they need to wait until they’re over the bridge. At most, it costs you a minute of travel time. It’s the same argument we use when fighting for our right to access with cars, and it’s perfectly applicable here.

    Every mode has a right to access, and a right to not be intimidated by people using the other modes. The Hawthorne Bridge has a 14′ sidewalk, a 50/50 division gives 7′ for each mode.

    General Comments – The sidewalk is not currently striped because when the bridge sidewalks were widened the county bridge and transportation staff decided at the advice of the county bike/ped advisory committee not to stripe them, to leave some flexibility in the use of the path. The “dot” or “badge” markings were added later as conflicts started happening, but they still didn’t mandate a width for either mode. I was not on the committee when that was being discussed, but I think they made the right choice. We have an opportunity as cyclists to respect and accommodate other cyclists and other modes and use common courtesy and common sense. If we don’t seize that opportunity to self-police and ride sensibly, then eventually an engineering solution that reduces conflicts and fits within the county’s budget will be chosen for us, and our input into the nature of that solution will be limited.

    All opinions in this post are mine, and do not necessarily represent Multnomah County, nor the BPCAC.

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    Rixtir May 14, 2009 at 11:54 am

    It assumes everybody is traveling in the same direction.

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    Jeff Ong May 14, 2009 at 11:58 am

    That seems like a raw deal for the many pedestrians on the Hawthorne Bridge. I *really* don’t see the need for bikes to be passing other bikes on this particular stretch of a few hundred meters. Post speed limits, and if you get behind someone slow, suck it up and ride behind them, unless it’s wide open and safe to pass. This all seems like a lot of planning and scurrying around to facilitate simple jackassery.

    Longer term solution, of course, is more capacity. But we could get a lot of milage out of not being jerks in the short term.

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    Matt Picio May 14, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    vanessa (#36) – according to county staff, they consider it to be and refer to it as a sidewalk. This question was asked at last night’s advisory committee meeting by one of the committee members and answered by the county transportation planning director.

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    Jessica Roberts May 14, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I don’t think it’s fair or likely to be successful to try to make pedestrians think and act like vehicles by prohibiting them from one walkway. Walking, even more than biking, is a social and organic activity, and one where a small amount of out-of-direction travel is not acceptable. We have to all learn to share space, but we also have to make it work for peds above all other users – they’re our true indicator species.

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    G.A.R. May 14, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Bikes must yield to peds on sidewalks. This is a sidewalk, same as Springwater, Banks-Vernonia, Esplanade, and other facilities touted as multi-use. Peds are first in the pecking order. Resurface the outboard traffic lanes of the bridge to encourage cycling. Bikes are legal there today but the grating is inhospitable to anything with two wheels. A new surface will also help with the burgeoning motorscooter crowd.

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    Schrauf May 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Inner lanes – All autos

    Outer lanes – Buses, other fat vehicles, and bikes > 10 mph only. Bikes will not substantially hold up other traffic at this speed.

    Sidewalks – All peds, as well as bikes < 5 mph only

    Want to ride between 5 mph and 10 mph? Too bad, save it for the other 95% of your commute… Almost anyone can ride 10 mph, and if you can’t or do not want to, simply ride at a brisk walking pace on the sidewalk.

    Violators will be thrown in the river. Just kidding.

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    Jessica Roberts May 14, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    p.s. Did you ask April Bertelson, PDOT’s pedestrian coordinator, for her thoughts on possible solutions?

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    Ed May 14, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Sounds very attractive, pending any reasoned and thoughtful, as opposed to cranky and kneejerk, objections. I think it should at least be considered and discussed. At first glance some people might think it’s “antipedestrian”, but I don’t think it’s intended that way. It’s just nuts to divide people into “drivers”, “bikers”, and “pedestrians”. Not only are most bikers also drivers, but absolutely every cyclist is at some time a pedestrian for godssake. In fact, I think it could improve pedestrian safety a lot. When you’re walking, especially with others and conversing as well, you’re less aware of being in a lane and not thinking about boundaries on either side and very liable to cross into the bike lane, as was pointed out by another writer. On the bridges and the Esplanade when there are a lot of walkers, I’m very worried about hitting pedestrians. I’m curious about how many such crashes and resulting injuries there have already been. This could be a reasonable solution for all concerned.
    I’ve also already decided that just slowing down at those locations is a necessary and worthwhile price to pay for the increased numbers of bikers and walkers. A few more minutes spent on each trip, a few less minutes at VO Max, well worth it for a social good.

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    BURR May 14, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Multnomah County = The can’t do county.

    Lanes for bikes on the roadway are entirely possible, if TriMet is willing to allow the outer lane to operate as shared bus and bike only lanes.

    Hey, they do it in Europe….

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    DJ Hurricane May 14, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Re; Is it a sidewalk? (36 & 39):

    Legally, the Hawthorne “sidewalk” is a disaster. It’s an excellent example of a total disconnect between transportation planning and the law.

    The part with the solid white and black lines (near the ramps from the Esplanade) seems to fit the definition of “bike lane” pretty well, given that it is adjacent to the roadway and designated (exclusively) for use by bicyclists. By that reasoning it could also be a “bike path.” I think the fact that, at either end, the bike lane funnels you onto the “sidewalk,” rather than continuing on the roadway or “merging” with the roadway also makes it a better fit for a “bike path.”

    The rest of the “sidewalk” portion seems more like a sidewalk, but could also be a bike path.

    I think the best fit is a “bike path.” But I also think it’s important that rules like ORS 814.410(b) continue to apply there.

    Note that, if it *is* a sidewalk, there is no legal basis for making it one-way for bicyclists.

    I’ve pasted pertinent definitions below.

    801.160 “Bicycle path.” “Bicycle path” means a public way, not part of a highway, that is designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law. [1983 c.338 §24]

    801.450 “Roadway.” “Roadway” means the portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the shoulder. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways the term “roadway” shall refer to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively. [1983 c.338 §83]

    801.480 “Shoulder.” “Shoulder” means the portion of a highway, whether paved or unpaved, contiguous to the roadway that is primarily for use by pedestrians, for the accommodation of stopped vehicles, for emergency use and for lateral support of base and surface courses. [1983 c.338 §88]

    801.485 “Sidewalk.” “Sidewalk” means the area determined as follows:

    (1) On the side of a highway which has a shoulder, a sidewalk is that portion of the highway between the outside lateral line of the shoulder and the adjacent property line capable of being used by a pedestrian.

    (2) On the side of a highway which has no shoulder, a sidewalk is that portion of the highway between the lateral line of the roadway and the adjacent property line capable of being used by a pedestrian. [1983 c.338 §89]

    801.155 “Bicycle lane.” “Bicycle lane” means that part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law. [1983 c.338 §23]

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    coyote May 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    twistyaction #27, the fact that there are “TONS” of public space that are restricted to only those that have the will and resources to traverse the man-made hazards constructed there does not make it right? In a truly humane society public space would be, well, uhm, public space. I think it was Jan Gehl that said that if a street is not safe for five year old, it is not safe.

    When you mess with a pedestrian’s right to be in a spot, you are messing with a very fundamental element of culture. Walking is fundamental to being. You do not need to be educated to walk, you do not need to speak the language, and you do not need a license walk, it is kinda like breathing. Abridging such a right should only be undertaken with a deep and serious introspection. Just because it makes easier for somebody else is insufferable. I had hoped that bicycle would be different than cars, apparently, not so much.

    (BTW, twistyaction, is a stunning handle, kudos:-)

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    Matt Picio May 14, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Jessica (#44) – Or Stephanie Routh, the Executive Director of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC, the ped equivalent of the BTA)

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    Martha R May 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    This would be fine for peds who are doing a loop on the esplanade/waterfront, but not for anyone walking the full length of the structure. How about a simple education campaign to point out to peds that there’s less bike traffic on the reverse commute side? After that, leave it to the individuals to decide whether they’d prefer a (possibly) longer walk with lower traffic, or a more direct route with more traffic.

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    Andrew Holtz May 14, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    As Matt Picio pointed out, options for the Hawthorne Bridge were discussed at last night’s county Bike/Ped committee meeting. We want to coordinate with the city, BTA, and any other interested groups or individuals… so keep the suggestions coming.

    Speaking as an individual, I’m skeptical about anything that dumps an extra burden on pedestrians… or relies on costly engineering. After all, the Hawthorne Bridge is hardly the worst segment in the system… there are many others that need investment more urgently.

    As a cyclist who likes to go fast when I can, I’ve had to train myself to ease up on the Hawthorne, Esplanade, and other popular routes.

    Remember, the bridge isn’t that long. There’s plenty of room to pass when you get to the other side. So I’ve learned to suck it up and wait just a minute or two… slow down and enjoy the spectacular view.

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    Snowflake Seven May 14, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    1. The safety of my fellow Portlander
    2. My personal safety
    3. My personal efficiency

    Efficiency always wants to trump the other priorities. It is the motivation that makes us car/bike/pedestrian-headed.

    User Vulnerability / Speed
    – Pedestrians: high, slow
    – Cyclists: high, moderate
    – Motorists: moderate, high

    Motorists cannot swerve to avoid someone falling into the motor vehicle lane. The sidewalk grade-separation creates a shy zone for cyclists but that shy zone encourages cyclists to crowd pedestrians. To avoid pinching pedestrians cyclists honor a shy zone on both sides.

    Adding a barrier taller than cyclists will prevent cyclists from swerving/falling into motor vehicle lanes. A barrier may increase the cyclist shy zone and crowd pedestrians.

    At cycling speeds, verbal/audio communication from behind is ineffective. Eye contact between cyclists and pedestrians enables communication at a greater distance while preserving some cyclist speed. This requires contra-flow.

    By adding a tall barrier between cars and the sidewalk and requiring contra-flow of pedestrians across the bridge, our safety will be prioritized by the infrastructure. And efficiency will take its rightful place.

    All that said, I would love to see the outer lanes of the bridge become bus and bike only as suggested by Schrauf(#43) if the decking can be upgraded.

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    Richard Campbell May 14, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    This is just a bad idea. To say that a precedent has been set in Vancouver is really not correct. It is only a trial banning of peds from a sidewalk on Burrard Bridge. No one really thinks that this is a practical long-term solution. It is not likely to be effective either.

    In Vancouver, the solution that has had the overwhelming support of the cycling community is a two lane reallocation which would provide separate cyclist and pedestrian paths on both sides of the bridge. The only reason for the ped ban was a lack of political will.

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    b May 14, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    i didnt have time to read all the comments, but i agree with #10. what happens to reverse flow bikes? i ride westbound every afternoon, and neither of my options (riding on the ped side or against the flow on the bike side) sound very appealing. plus, as much as peds dislike getting passed by cyclists at close quarters and high speeds, they’ll never sign off on being forced to walk two blocks out of the way just to go on a stroll.
    i think a better short-term solution is a physically delineated lane, with foot high soft rubber dividers or something of the sort.
    but in the long run, lets be honest: the hawthorne is currently the most attrative bridge for both peds and bikes in terms of infrastructure and connecting the waterfront/esplanade, and 11 feet of width is just not going to be enough to accommodate our burgeoning alternative transportation in this city. we need another lane or another bridge, its that simple.

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    Robb Shecter May 14, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    A similar idea, but maybe easier to implement:

    Make pedestrian traffic,

    * one-way,
    * against bicycle traffic.

    This way, pedestrians can help avoid problems: they’ll be able to see oncoming bikes.

    This is similar to the “rule” that if walking in the street, one should walk against traffic, because you can see cars coming.

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    Joe Rowe May 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    “It’s hard to determine what exactly caused Erica Rothman’s harrowing crash”

    Jonathan, in trying to be an unbiased journalist I sense some serious bias in your quote. Seems like you are trying to protect the dude who caused this crash by riding too fast for conditions.

    There are a 100 ways a journalist could report this truth without bais.

    A witness and the man contacting the victim’s bike report a wide variety of conditions affecting the crash. One factor stands out no matter where one points blame. It the duty of the person passing from behind to leave ample room to pass even if the person in front were to move. The woman in front moved in a very expected way.

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    joe May 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    egads, this is a tough one. seems like a regular old bike lane(or two) striped on the pavement would be the best attainable solution?

    of course, that does not solve the problem of the multidirectional, multimodal, multispeed traffic clusterf that we have now.

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    bahueh May 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    wow…what I’m reading is really unbelieveable…

    some jackhole causes a _single_ accident and all of the sudden various members of this “cycling community” want an entire lane of bridge traffic to themselves as if they believe that will solve the problem of future collisions?

    all of the sudden pedestrians are to blame for the reckless endangerment and rude behavior of one individual?

    special interests at its utmost finest here…good work y’all…way to make yourselves look like a collective bunch of selfish tards…..again…..

    let me ask those of you wanting your own bridge lane (which would tie up vehicular traffic to a standstill during rush hour)…are you willing to pay for it?

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    Alexis May 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Are we seriously talking about banning pedestrians from a SIDEWALK? As in, the place where THEY have right of way?

    One of the reasons (I assume) that ped traffic is two way on the bridge and bike traffic is one way is that pedestrians can be harder to manage, any extra distance is felt more, and honestly they don’t consider themselves traffic.

    If you’re that concerned with running into pedestrians, go hang out with the cars on Morrison. The pedestrian facilities on the Morrison, on the other hand, SUCK so badly it’s not even funny. You’re constantly asked to go down and then back up stairs into some pretty sketchy alleys to get out of the way of cars and their onramps. The message from the Morrison is clear: Peds don’t matter, it’s cars first. This is NOT what I want to happen on the Hawthorne.

    As bicyclists, our primary concern is access for bikes. But do we really want to push people out of the public space that we all fight so hard for? Bicyclists and pedestrians should be allies in the war against car culture, not be squabling over the scraps of cement left to us by the cars.

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    DJ Hurricane May 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Bahueh (58): Way to make yourself look like a complete d-bag. Bikes *are* “vehicular traffic.”

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    Darrell Young May 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    How about cyclists put cards in their spokes, like some of us did when we were younger? That way pedestrians and other cyclists can hear approaching cyclists – granted that they are listening to the surroundings and not on the phone or have headphones in.

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    Robb Shecter May 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    @Joe Rowe 56,

    I think your attack on Jonathon isn’t warranted.

    There are many different kinds of “cause”, and many different factors lead to any accident.

    Instead of focussing on blame, a moral question, we’d do better focussing on *liability* (the responsibility to make amends) — a public policy question.

    Here, the liability should rest with the person who could have best prevented the accident (a common doctrine): the passing bicyclist.

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    steve May 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Easy to forget that both cyclists were engaged in a pass. Erica was passing a pedestrian, the other cyclist passing her.

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    ms May 14, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Throwing out a crazy idea (- not sure how the logistics would work -) is there some way to turn one of the car lanes into a pedestrian pathway – either at peak times (rush hour) or seasonally (i.e. summer). Would the grating be acceptable for pedestrians to walk on, rather than bikes?

    It might be tricky to get peds to/from the lane to the sidewalk, I guess. Just trying to think creatively!

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 14, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    hey folks,

    i just got to the office.. been away all morning..

    Joe Rowe,
    i wrote that it was hard to know what caused the crash because 1) I was not there and 2) I have not read a police investigation.

    funny that you’d call my journalism into question because i won’t rush to judgment about an incident.

    also, can’t we all just get along?

    I posted this merely to propose an idea… i looooooove pedestrians. This is about finding a solution to the congestion issue. nothing else.

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    Jessie May 14, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    It’s hard to be the one ‘top posting’; You always get the brunt of the discussion.

    I’ve found this to be a very satisfying conversation and I’ve really appreciated that the situation has been intelligently considered from so many perspectives. The Portland community as a whole needs a lot more of this, in all arenas!

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 14, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    KruckyBoy wrote:

    If someone asked the PDX bike community to go a mandatory 50 feet out of their way, they would FREAK out.

    They have, and we don’t.

    The Burnside Couch Couplet would force bikes over to a bike boulevard. The new streetcar line will force bikes over to NW Marshall, not NW Lovejoy.

    Both of these are detours to give other modes preference. It happens and we are forced to deal with it.

    That being said, I’m aware that pedestrians and bikes are much different animals.

    Bottom line in all this folks, is that it seems perhaps a few open houses and some trials are in order to figure this out?

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    cyclist May 14, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    That reminds me, I’ve got an idea that’ll help fix bike car interactions downtown:

    Bikes however may ride two abreast, stop quickly without warning, stick out an arm leg or whatever, and do a variety of other unpredictable things. And the closing speed between cars and bikes is much greater than between cars and cars, so reaction time can be very limited.

    Where all this leads is to wonder if, during rush hours, all bikes could be directed off of north/south streets during rush hours and onto the park/esplanade along the Willamette? A slight inconvenience for bikers but potentially a significant increase in safety and utility for motorists.

    Sound like a plan?

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    Benjamin L May 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Cars often have ‘No Passing Zone’ signage for obvious safety reasons. The pedestrian/cyclist mix on the bridge is certainly not ideal, but would a single width bike lane on each side of the bridge where passing is simply illegal for 100 yards totally ruin your commute? Some signs and paint would be a cheap solution for the county and improve safety markedly. Where’s the fire?

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    Pass! May 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    It’s 11ft wide, what’s the big deal about passing? There’s plenty of room to pass if a little common sense is used, such as not passing when there are pedestrians or other crowded situations that would make it unsafe to do so.

    This talk about banning passing is crazy, just slow down, announce (or ring) your approach, and only pass when it’s safe to do so and leave plenty of room.

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    Julie P. May 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    the hawthorne bridge is a beautiful bridge and it should be shared by all. while commuting into downtown, it was at the hawthorne bridge that i knew i had to change my mentality and slow down b/c if the peds didn’t get me, the lights would. also, as a cyclist, you know the time difference between booking it and somewhat taking it easy is not very big. slow down. you’re not making a time trial. and pedestrians have the right of way!

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    KWW May 14, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    You can’t blame everything on the pedophiles!

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    Matt May 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Pedestrians walk in groups, some of them listen to headphones, some of them are 4 year old kids that might skip left and right, and very few of them anticipate bikes racing past them. If they do this in a bike lane or in a road, you can complain, but when people engage in this very normal behavior on a sidewalk and it bothers you, maybe you should find another place to ride or just deal with slowing way down for 2 minutes. It’s easy.

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    beth h May 14, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    This is less an engineering issue and more a people issue.

    Everyone here grew up in a car-culture, even if you don’t own a car now. That culture is embedded in our thinking and makes us decide we’d like to be able to ride our bikes directly and freely, AS THOUGH WE ARE DRIVING CARS ON FREEWAYS.

    Problem is that we’re riding bicycles with a car-driver mindset.

    We need to let go of the car-driver mindset. Let go of the need for speed and remember that the whole, real point of bringing an end to car culture (which is partly what the rise of bike culture MUST BE about) is to envision a slower, more HUMAN pace of life. Bike freeways — the ultimate endgame of this desire to get everywhere directly and fast — aren’t the answer, nor are they the point.

    People who want to get somewhere fast should do it on paths they don’t EVER have to share with anyone else. Everyone else should slow down and share.

    All the engineering in the world won’t let us off the hook for our choices and behaviors. That’s entirely up to US as road-users.

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    beelnite May 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Agree with many posts… this is sorta the same as tossing bicycles into the bike lane and then claiming it’s for bicyclists.

    I’ve been taught by some pretty deep thinkers on bikeportland that this is sorta philosophically wrong!

    Pedestrians have a right to the walkway. Bicyclists need to be respectful of that – just as we appreciate respect from motor vehicles licensed to use OUR public roadway.

    There’s a long soridid detailed history of how road planning has prioritized motor vehicles despite the original and historic intent of the public roadway.

    Bike lanes are for cars. Moving peds for bikes is in the same vein. It just don’t seem right y’all.

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    Psyfalcon May 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Sidewalk, path, its probably something unique.

    If its a sidewalk, where is the legality of enforcing one way bike travel? On any other side walk, once on the sidewalk, there is no one way restrictions. Make it 2 way, and everyone will slow down real quick.

    I’d very much be in favor of enforcing one way walking, FACING bike traffic with pedestrians on the outside for all travel (including the Springwater…) but it would still entail some pedestrians having to move to the other side of the bridge.

    If you’re going that far, you might as well mandate walking on the low traffic side only.

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    steve May 14, 2009 at 5:43 pm


    Many of us have been using bikes for transportation for decades and have no use or interest in your ‘culture’ warfare. We are simply going where we need to go.

    There is not, nor should there be, some common mantle taken up by all cyclists. You are simply projecting.

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    Ted Buehler May 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Back to Jonathan’s topic at the top. The Burrard Bridge in Vancouver BC has been the #1 barrier to west side commuters for decades. They tried a car-lane closure in the early 1990s, which resulted in backed up traffic and headlines. Nobody noticed that by the end of the week traffic had already found another place to go, but the political the damage was done, and the issue hasn’t been studied to death but never touched for 15 years.

    As Richard states above, the “peds on one side” is not a particularly good one, even for the Burrard Bridge.

    And, Vancouver’s lack of action on the Burrard Bridge is symbolic of a lack of serious effort toward improving commuter bicycle conditions where it really counts. Vancouver has the best network of bicycle boulevards in North America, but you can’t get into downtown without some sketchy riding, and the proposal at the top of the page is decidedly half @$$ed. Portland is the opposite — bike boulevards are lackluster in comparison, but the bridges into downtown more than make up for it.

    So, don’t automatically look to Vancouver BC for guidance on this one.

    The Hawthorne Bridge issue needs a “Platinum Grade” solution, and one can probably be found in stages. In the short term, an enhanced expectation of “slowing down” and courtesy will amek things a lot safer. Then, a concerted political effort by Multnomah County residents to make immediate improvements to the outside lane of either the Hawthorne or Morrison bridges. And even that won’t be adequate with a few more years of 15% annual increases in traffic.

    Ted Buehler
    Vancouver WA

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    steve May 14, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Also, are you honestly laboring under the delusion that our infrastructure issues have some correlation to rampant speeding cyclists?

    Most of the cyclists I see in town can barely maintain 15mph. You want them to go even slower? What speed should be the mandatory limit, yours?


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    carless in pdx May 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Strange. As a carless bicyclist in Portland, I would be very against over-engineering these kinds of “solutions.” For the life of me, I can’t even really identify a “problem” that needs solving.

    Are you actually suggesting that “bike congestion” is too much on the bridge right now? That kind of point of view reminds me of people who live in small towns and complain about traffic when there are three cars at a traffic light.

    Traffic congestion will force people to adapt to more civil riding styles that don’t include racing as fast as possible while weaving in and out of pedestrians. Cyclists (myself included) need to slow down and start using your bell!

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    StevenA May 14, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    “No passing of a bicycle passing a pedestrian.”

    (not regulation-quality verbiage; needs to express vicinity)

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    She May 14, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Ok, how about another idea, walkers one direction and bikers the opposite. No changing directions but you get walkers facing bike traffic and then they would be more aware.

    Bottom line is there is not enough room currently for the traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge. HOWEVER if you were to turn around either biking traffic or walking (this seems a bit simpler in my mind) then they would face each other and BOTH would be more mindful of the other!

    I really do not think there is enough space to have 1) all walking traffic + one direction of biking traffic or 2) two directions of biking traffic together.

    So there is my idea – make the bikers face the walkers and vice versa. I think then we all may slow down!

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    LizardMama May 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I have to say that with all this I must really be missing out on the Hawthorne bridge by riding the Burnside. There aren’t many bikes on the Burnside and I haven’t seen a single pedestrian in the bike lane yet. 🙂

    Had a thought that a long, long term solution might be to make one side of the Hawthorne bike only and do the same on a nearby bridge. Anyone feel that two bridges would be close enough together that one bridge could have bike traffic one way and a second could have bike traffic the other way? I know I always feel safer on my eastbound Burnside bridge route than westbound… might be a dumb idea, but if it is, I’m sure someone will let me know!

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    Drew May 15, 2009 at 1:39 am

    On the Hawthorne, there is an abrupt deep dropoff to a grate, where you face a possible crushing by a passing motor vehicle. The way I see it, any solution that does not include a barrier cannot address the problem.

    A crash between bike and walker is less likely to result in a serious injury or death. But imagine a person falling on the grate and having a truck roll over them.

    This will happen eventually without some kind of railing. Even if it makes the sidewalk narrower, it needs to be there.

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    Steph Routh May 15, 2009 at 9:02 am

    First, I don’t believe relegating pedestrians to one side of the bridge (and still expecting them to share with cyclists)is the answer.

    But what a wonderful discussion to act as prologue for an upcoming Ped/Bike Legal Clinic! The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition will host a talk June 12th which we hope will serve to explore how multi-use paths can be a safe experience for everyone. Questions, concerns, thoughts about life? Bring ’em!

    Ped/Bike Legal Clinic
    6:00pm – 7:30pm
    Lucky Lab Beer Hall
    1945 NW Quimby

    “More and more people traverse by cycle and sandal as the weather becomes finer. The WPC hopes that this Ped/Bike Legal Clinic will help us all learn how best to get along in safety and in courtesy.

    “Led by Ray Thomas, we will explore the rights and responsibilities of folks on bike and on foot. The clinic will take place at the Lucky Lab NW for your culinary enjoyment. This event is free and open to the public (but you’re on your own for food and beverage!).”

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    Vance Longwell May 15, 2009 at 10:06 am

    **This entire comment has been deleted**

    Vance, come on man. I know you, you know me. Can you please keep things above the belt? It is never OK on this site to make such direct personal attacks.

    I value your perspectives, but I won’t tolerate stuff like that.

    Thanks for understanding.


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  • […] a recent crash and general pedestrian and bicycle congestion issues on the Hawthorne Bridge has created a suggestion to do that bridge what they are planning on the Burrard Street Bridge, save that they would […]

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    Todd May 15, 2009 at 11:45 am

    C’mon gang… it’s a ‘share-the-road’ issue. It’s a tight public right-of-way – let’s figure out a way to all get along and utilize this situation as a way to promote more bike/ped facilities to relieve the sidewalk congestion. Pedestrians are not the problem – pedestrians greatly augment the funding argument for bike/ped improvements. Let’s not set a horrible precedent of alienating pedestrians and dividing ourselves in this issue, particularly when we need to unify bicycle and pedestrian efforts to make the case for non-motorized travel even stronger. The winds of change are in our direction. Let’s not blow it.

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    Doug Klotz May 15, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I agree with some posters who mention that there are fundamental differences between walking and bicycling. First, using the sidewalk does not mean you’re even walking. You could be standing, talking to someone, looking at the view (especially from the Hawthorne bridge, with good views to the north and to the south), etc. Second, on no sidewalk I know of are walkers ever restricted as to which direction they can walk. A walker can easily decide they want to go back the other way. It’s easy to turn around. You don’t even need a 5 foot circle (except for wheelchair users). You can backtrack, wander around, etc.

    A commenter said that pedestrians could be walking four or five abreast, spreading into the bike lane. There is no “bike lane” on the Hawthorne Bridge sidewalk. It is a sidewalk where, as another commenter pointed out, pedestrians have the right-of-way, and bicyclists have to yield to pedestrians. Now, there are the round “badges” which suggest a way to deal with this, but to my knowledge they have no legal force. (And by the way, the pedestrian icons should be facing both east-bound and west-bound traffic, something the installers failed to do even though it was pointed out that they were doing car-think with their markings).

    Like all sidewalks in this country, there should be no restrictions as to which directions pedestrians can walk on the Hawthorne bridge or approach ramp sidewalks. I would agree with improvements which allow bicyclists on current auto and/or bus lanes.

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    Sharon Wood Wortman May 16, 2009 at 7:52 am

    PEDESTRIANS SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS ONE. Besides taking children walking on the bridge for my bridge walks — needing both sides of the bridge — to fully participate in the views of our city, I’m a photographer. The views to south and north are very different over these 1910 railings, and I don’t want to be cut off from either vantage. I vote no, and loudly so. Plus bicyclists get to go where they need to go faster than a pedestrian (don’t we know), so why make the going any slower for walkers?

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    Ali May 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

    We seem to be achieving a consensus of sanity, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyway.

    This is a bad idea on every level.

    It ghettoizes pedestrians, who have lost so much right-of-way to cars, and are now threatened with losing more to bikes.

    It inflames the bogus “Bikes vs Peds” war.

    And worst of all, it wouldn’t make the bridge any safer. Without the calming presence of pedestrian, bike speeds (some of them, anyway) would rise, and bike-on-bike crashes would become more frequent and more severe.

    True, the Hawthorne Bridge is congested. But nothing is going to ease that congestion. If we add more lanes, then they’ll fill up with more traffic. If we ban pedestrians, then the space that they once took up will be filled with new bike traffic. The real problem is one of excessive speed, of people trying to race through the congestion.

    One of my neighbors, bless his heart, used to yell at cars who sped down our residential street. He passed away a year ago today. So, in his memory, I offer just the teensiest suggestion to those who feel the need to race on the Hawthorne Bridge:


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    driveabus May 16, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    First you guys want motorists out of the way. Now you want pedestrians out of the way. How telling. It really is all about you and your bike not being slowed down. Reminds me of what many motorists say about bikes!

    Maybe its the bikes that should be rerouted. The pedestrians were on that bridge first. Any bike rider who flies across that bridge with pedestrians (frequently families with small children in tow) present should have their bike taken away.

    Grow up and realize the world does not revolve around you.

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    A Portland Walker May 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Dear Portland Bicyclists,
    I’ll stay out of your bike lanes if you stay off our sidewalks.
    A Portland Walker

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    Anonymous May 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm


    I agree that bicycle drivers should be separated from pedestrians.

    Three years ago, I proposed to Sam Adams that EVERY bridge sidewalk be separated out by modality … pedestrians on one-side and bike drivers on the other.

    But none of this morning-this-way/evening=that-way complication.

    The more scenic side of the Broadway, Steel, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne, Ross Island, and Sellwood bridges should be given over to pedestrians and the other, less scenic sidewalk should be reserved for bicycle drivers … who should be paying more attention to their driving than to the scenery anyway.

    It is NEVER safe to commingle metal objects traveling at a high rate of speed with vulnerable pedestrians.

    In fact, Waterfront Park should have physically divided pedestrian and bike infrastructure, too!

    The man at the town hall meeting with a state senator and state representative will tell you that getting hit by a cyclist driving his bike on a sidewalk is VERY serious.

    Being run down by a cyclist on the sidewalk is why his leg was amputated from the knee down.

    Why did I start this post with REGISTER – LICENSE – INSURE – LICENSE PLATE?

    Because not every cyclist involved in an accident stops like the guy on the Hawthorne Bridge did. We call not stopping hit-and-run. It’s more difficult to run when someone can read your license plate and an individual who knows he can be identified is an individual more likely to drive his bike safely

    Because a bicycle with a license plate is easier to recover when it’s stolen.

    Because that young dad killed last week was an “uninsured motorist” and now his little son’s financial future is darker.

    Because while a bicycle driver gets a $240 a year federal tax break for commuting by bike … bicycle drivers skate when it comes to a measly $27 a year state registration fee … that makes bicycle drivers look like they want something for nothing and doesn’t help their cause.

    One more thing … there is NO MORE SUSTAINABLE WAY TO COMMUTE THAN BY WALKING!!!!!!

    I walk!

    I don’t need machinery made that spews carcinogens into the air while it digs for metal ore.

    I don’t need the metal smelted. Talk about carbon “bike print”!

    I don’t need all the accessories, all the rubber, all the oil for lubricants, all the spandex, and all the petroleum and carcinogens released into the air,

    I don’t need parts shipped from one country to another, to another for manufacturing.

    Is there an environmental cost to making shoes? Yes.

    It’s nominal when compared to the environmental cost of making a bike just like the environmental cost of manufacturing a bike is nominal compared to manufacturing a car.

    One more thing.

    You’re a pedestrian at some point in the day.

    You walk.

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    Kt May 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I agree with #69 and #88.

    And everyone who is asking the bikes to SLOW DOWN and YIELD TO PEDS.

    Look, the bridge is not that long. You’ll be delayed, what, 10 seconds? 15? Less?

    It’s the same logic us bike people use to ask cars to wait to pass us until it’s safe. You’ll be delayed, what, 10 seconds? 15 seconds?

    Get off your high horses, people. Stop asking others to “share to road” (in this case, path/sidewalk) unless you plan to suit action to words.

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    tom May 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I love pedestrians. Heck, I am one.

    But, for everyone’s safety, traffic rules on the Hawthorne bridge sidewalks have to change. The “dude, be mellow” strategy is not a solution.
    1. separate users at all times: bikes on one side, peds on the other. Now that the weather is nice, the conflicts are not limited to weekday rush hours.
    2. if we can’t separate users, AT THE VERY LEAST traffic should be one-way for both bikes and peds.

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    Diane May 19, 2009 at 9:58 am

    I just experienced the fall from sidewalk to the bridge grating yesterday. Lots of peds, lots of bikes, a typical day. As I passed a group of ped in a safe way another cyclist was racing the bridge, it caught me off guard. I ended up in the ER getting stitches on my elbow and leg.

    A solution might be railing on all parts excluing the lift span and that area should be a “slow zone”.

    When we talk about no money for an ever growing concern shouldn’t we dial it back and note that the loss of life is a far greater price to pay.

    I got lucky and appreciate all those who stopped to help.

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