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I-5 bridge crash highlights safety concerns

Posted by on February 15th, 2010 at 10:32 am

Aftermath of bike crash on the I-5 bridge Saturday.
(Photo: Todd Boulanger)

On Saturday afternoon, a Vancouver man crashed while riding his bicycle across the I-5 bridge. The rider has been identified as 43-year old Matthew Vilhauer. Friends of Vilhauer say he suffered multiple lacerations requiring stitches but that he will make a full recovery.

Todd Boulanger was riding by at about 3:45 Saturday afternoon when he snapped the photo above. Boulanger says Vilhauer was traveling southbound (on west side of the bridge). EMTs told Boulanger that Vilhauer’s body was found on the ground after the crash by passing riders and EMTs are not sure how long he was unconscious before being found.

“I’ve kind of gotten used to the proximity of the path to the cars and how narrow it is, but I still get jolted a bit by trucks with their brakes or honking and stuff… That’s just the way it is.”
— Matthew Vilhauer

Boulanger adds that Vilhauer was found next to the very narrow spot at the southern bridge lift warning gate on the Washington side. EMT crews closed the southbound vehicle lane on the bridge for about 20 minutes.

I spoke to Vilhauer this morning. He has no memory of how the crash happened. “I remember getting my gear on and leaving the house… But I don’t remember riding… The next thing I remember is my brother standing over me at the hospital.”

Although he doesn’t remember what happened, from what the bike looks like — a damaged right brake lever and many cuts on his right hand — Vilhauer said he must have “clipped one of the concrete support posts for the handrail.”

Vilhauer told me he’s crossed the bridge “thousands of times” over the past 20 years and that this is his fourth crash. He’s gone down to avoid someone walking, he’s crashed into a man who was drinking and sleeping on the bridge, and he’s tangled handlebars with a rider coming in the opposite direction.

As for the safety of the pathway, Vilhauer says he’s become “resigned” to the dangers. “I’ve kind of gotten used to the proximity of the path to the cars and how narrow it is, but I still get jolted a bit by trucks with their brakes or honking and stuff… That’s just the way it is.”

Plans to vastly improve the non-motorized path are included in the Columbia River Crossing project, but the future of that project is still up in the air.

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Mo
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Mo

I suggest that anyone who wants to write off any sort of CRC project ride this bridge: It’s DANGEROUS.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Hi Matthew – glad to know you are up and out of the hospital.

I saw your bike laying there – but did not see your face as you were already wrapped up – so I was not sure it was actually you until now.

The fire fighters took your bike away and seemed to be treating it well when I left.

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

I hope Mr. Vilhauer is felling better and back on the bike soon! I’ve never ridden that bridge on bike but that path does look fairly narrow for two bikes in opposite directions, especially if either rider is wobbly.

Kind of strange that he doesn’t remember more of the ride. Pre-existing medical condition perhaps?

Josh
Guest
Josh

Not strange at all, Nick. That’s very common when a concussion occurs.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Glad you’re not too seriously injured, Matt. Something tells me this could’ve been much, much worse.

I feel for you with the amnesia. I have had a bike accident when I was younger that caused acute amnesia and it is certainly not fun at all having a slice of your life wiped from your memory.

Get well soon!

peejay
Guest
peejay

Mo:

I respect that argument, but a fix for bikes should not be tied to a $4B project that will negatively impact the region for generations. I’m also under no illusions that any substantive improvements to the bike path are possible on their own. So, it’s a quandary, but on balance, I continue to oppose the CRC for the harm it will do. And yes, I’ve used the bike path on the bridge, on a cargo bike, no less.

Jene-Paul
Guest
Jene-Paul

Here’s to quick healing and some good Spring riding, Mr. Vilhauer!

And, yeah, Nick – what Josh said: memory loss often follows concussions. Went down on the MUP behind Safeway on Hayden Island (other end of the Interstate Bridge) in ’08, and I still don’t recall what the hell happened.

If only we could crowd-source a new bikeway over the Columbia…

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The area where this crash occurred is among the most narrow points of the route. The CRC staff measured these ‘choke-points’ for our PBAC design discussions.

The pedestrian gates and mechanisms/ looping power cords (vintage and recent) installed by ODOT have made these points even narrower. With a rider’s shy distance of a foot on each side of a handlebar there is about 12 inches of safe wheel tracking at best in these pinched points.

Additionally – these points can be tricky at night since many of them are either painted dark green or left without any hi-vis reflective tape/ RPMs while sticking out into the path of bicyclists. This route is also plagued by poor lighting (missing lights on the Oregon side?) that creates pools of darkness and brightness along with headlight glare – making visibility of debris difficult.

Bi-directional bike traffic [mixed with pedestrians (often with groceries or recycling cans)] makes this route a greater challenge than just the design alone.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Given the location of this crash – ODOT should have video footage of this crash incident, as it is near where peds and bicyclists are expected to wait for bridge lifts – the new cameras (installed in the last 6 years) should have a clear view in order to check for gate closure or clearance during a lift event.

This footage would be helpful in public discussions of improvements for the safe operation of the existing bridge. (Portland BAC?)

Schrauf
Guest

Good luck with the recovery, Matthew.

I would like to point out that despite the poor bicycling conditions on this bridge, it can certainly be navigated in a safe manner at a slow (but inconvenient) speed. The path is certainly not adequate and needs improvement, but for people who would ride more often but for this bridge, don’t let the horror stories stop you. Just go an easy 5mph, stop for other path traffic, and pay attention, and you will be fine.

And I admit I often navigate the bridge at a speed that puts me in danger of a guardrail clip of my handlebar. Has not happened yet, but if it does, it will be my fault.

cruiser
Guest
cruiser

I’d like to emphasize Todd’s point about bi-directional traffic on this bridge, as I confront the issue constantly in my daily commute – IF YOU ARE CROSSING THE BRIDGE, PLEASE TRAVEL ON THE APPROPRIATE SIDE. It is disturbing how many apparently experienced cyclists flout common sense and insist on traveling north on what anyone can see out to be a designated southbound lane, and vice-versa. As this story demonstrates, the bridge is already dangerous enough as it is.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

I’ve crossed numerous times, both on foot, and on a bicycle. It’s treacherous at any speed beyond walking, especially after dark. Lights from motor vehicles, and shadows created by the girders hide dangers. Passing someone, requires coordination of both parties, and communication between users is heavily hampered by traffic noise.

One of the issues that I’ve noticed, is a small percentage of users claim right of way, rather than sharing it. To pass, one party must enter the girder work, and wait for the other to pass. This is a fundamental flaw, in the design that would be difficult to rectify.

Steve B.
Guest

Here’s to a quick recovery, Matthew.

It’s time for a people bridge! Build the active and mass transport bridge now. Retrofit the existing CRC to bring it up to earthquake-safe standards and toll it. That $4billion budget for the proposed CRC could pay for a new max line, new bridge and build out of the entire BMP. I think that’s a win for everyone.

Max
Guest
Max

That crossing has always scared me. I used to cross it on club rides and I would actually get crap from the other riders because I won’t ride faster than 10-15mph on the bridge. They’re flying along at 25+mph on the descents like nothing is going to happen.
It would be interesting to see how many people cross this bridge at speeds far exceeding their comfort level, just to avoid putting up with other people complaining.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Hi Max – most commuters just want to get off of the bridge to escape the noise and discomfort. ;-(

Only on those rare sunny afternoons with the boat clubs racing below Mt Hood or on quiet evenings does one want to stop and check the vistas.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

It would be nice… if the Interstate Bridge had a Hawthorne or Broadway Bridge path widening (and lights added) as an interium measure for safety and to aid in getting bike traffic through the future CRC reconstruction work zone (if built).

Dan
Guest
Dan

How do you hit somebody who is both drinking *and* sleeping?

peejay
Guest
peejay

Dan:

you’ve not spent a lot of time with my friends!

Ted Buehler
Guest

I tried putting yellow reflective tape on those gates in the summer of 2008. I got yelled at by the bridge attendant, and they were removed.

I started an email tag game with “just ask ODOT” and they said they were interested in safety, and thought maybe “path narrows” signs at each end of the 1/2 mile long bridge would be appropriate.

I replied with a suggestion that the real problem was at the pinchpoints where bridge hardware juts into the path. I also suggested that they use reflective tape on the hardware, like Multnomah County uses on the intruding Broadway Bridge hardware box (westbound, downhill stretch), and sent a photo.

I never heard back, and nothing was done.

Since then, my buddies John and Matthew have both been hospitalized in serious injuries on the “I-5 Bike Route.” Both happened in known hazard zones, both had easy $500 fixes. I assume both got hospital bills well into the 4-figures. It’s probably time to get serious and ask ODOT/Vancouver/PBOT/Portland Parks & Rec to all fix a few nasty spots on the route.

I have a list of 160 “small fixes” that would make the entire corridor a lot safer. I’ll try to publish them somewhere soon.

Anyone want to work on this? Drop me a line, gmail.com, Ted101@

Ted Buehler

p.s. Glad you’re okay, Matthew!

Ted Buehler
Guest

With regard to riding the bridge, I ride it slow. Try to keep it under 10 mph, always under 15. And gust of crosswind, odd flinch, etc. will put you in a world of hurt if you graze the railing or a girder.

The bridge is my favorite part of the Vancouver-Portland ride. I like it, but I almost always take it slow, and often very slow. It’s the Interstate/MLK sections that scare the crap out of me, and places like the blind S curve under the freeway ramp in the Marine Dr Maze where John got creamed by a bunch of Roadies last summer…

Ted Buehler

& Kudos to Marcus and anyone else who has gotten things fixed on the route — Marcus gets credit for the Parks Board fixing a bunch of potholes on Delta Park Rd.

Ted Buehler
Guest

If the CRC gets pushed back any further, we should ask for a 12′ sidewalk on the east bridge, and a ped bridge over the Hayden Island ramps to connect the main bridge to the path behind Safeway. That would make crossing a dream. Better and shorter than anything the CRC bridge would offer. If they demolish the bridge in 15 years, they could use the cantilevered sidewalk on some other skinny truss bridge somewhere, like old US 30 over the Sandy River, hang it off the side of the Ross Island bridge, etc.

matthew v
Guest
matthew v

first of all i want to thank everyone who has expressed their sympathy and concerns. especially ted and todd who i both know personally. thanks guys.

a little clarification on my past bridge incidents.

i always use the west side pathway regardless of heading north or south as it is wider and for me at least provides the perception of a little more safty. cruiser-yes we may be at odds on this and don’t bother busting my chops about it as i’m not really in the mood. i always yield to the uphill rider just like mtn biking and x-country skiing. until uni directional travel is mandated by law i will continue to use the pathway as i have for many many years. yes i do go 25+ mph regularly on the downhill sections. admittedly it is scary and perhaps in many folks eyes irresponsible. i have a lot of food for thought to digest at the moment.

the man i collided with (at night heading north and downhill on the west side pathway into vancouver) stepped out from between the girders directly into my path. there were several small fortified wine bottles nearby.

i clipped handlebars this past summer with a kid on a bmx bike but neither of us went down. i was heading south and about halfway up the hill and he was the 3rd or 4th in a group of 14-18 y/olds on bikes and they started screaming at me to get the F%#k out of their way. yes i probably should have pulled between the girders but didn’t.

the incident with person i dodged happened in the daytime at the jog at the southern end of the bridge at the transition from the bridge proper to the overpass before the odot permitting station. as you’re heading south as a rider you have a fairly good look down the sidewalk but there is a little blind spot behind the girders themselves and this is where he was. surprised the hell out of both of us and he kinda did the “where am i gonna go” dance and i nearly stopped and tried to stay to my right as far as possible but clipped the concrete post for the handrail and fell down.

wish i knew what happened saturday but there is one thing i can add. normally i wear a messenger bag but had a ortovox freerider backpack on that i sometimes use. you can see it leaning up against the girder in the pic. it has an integrated sps(spine protection system) and is designed for back country/freeride skiing and snowboarding. can’t say for certain how much it helped but i have no back injuries what-so-ever and just a slightly stiff neck. i can still conjugate a verb (did i get that right?) and at this point it’s my primary concern.

again my thanks go out to everyone. and please, please wear a helmet. it may not look cool but drooling in a cup or having your loved one’s miss you isn’t the height of fashion either.

peace.

Lester
Guest
Lester

Wishes for a quick recovery.

Yeah, the bridge is pretty hairy. I’ve luckily only gone down once on the east side heading northbound at night. Back in the day I used to cross the St. johns bridge, so the I-5 bridge seems nice in comparison. I still find the worst part about the route to be the north portion of Delta park at night. It’s a pothole minefield!

I second previous suggestion of a bike/ped bridge over the on/off ramps at Hayden Island, that would be awesome. At the very least, a diagonal crosswalk to the Burger King corner. I miss the old days when there was a cut in the fence and I could just make one hairy on/off ramp crossing instead of 2 signalled crosswalks and one hairy crosswalk.

Last night was the first I’d seen of the slow sign for the Marine Drive underpass.

Zaphod
Guest

I used to commute daily on that [expletive] bridge… I hated it. I recall riding at a walking pace trying to get ped’s attention but the traffic was so loud that they could not hear. I escalated my voice & bell until they finally heard me. Scared the crap out of them even though I was barely moving at that point.

And the maze leading to/from the thing is not easy to follow.

I too started taking the wide West side for both morning and evening commutes although once dark, I skipped the tunnel. The bridge is far from optimal. Glad Matt is OK

Nevin
Guest

Ah, glad to hear he’s ok.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Hope you are doing well Matthew.

I mean, the bridge sucks.

I am about as experienced a cyclist as they get, and have been crossing the big green bridge by bike since about ’82.

And there has never been a time when I was comfortable crossing it.

I ride it directionally. East side North, West side South. That is the proper way to ride it, and in my opinion the only way it should be allowed.

I have never had a accident with other bikes or pedestrians on it, but have had many incidences.

Not to mention clipping girders, gates.
Flats tires from hitting the misaligned plate where the bridge comes together (East side).

Todd does have good ideas for temporary improvements, ideas which mirror my own.

But we need long term, permanent fixes in motion.

While we may not need a thousand lanes crossing the river, we certainly need a new bridge.

Siobhan
Guest
Siobhan

I totally drove by while this was happening. I didn’t even realize that someone had gone down. I just thought it was so strange that there were a bunch of people clogging the pathway. I thought there may have been an altercation/standoff between a few riders.

I hated crossing that bridge. There is seriously no room. And even if you can get through with a cargo bike, it doesn’t make it safer. Especially when people are coming and going both directions and hearing is limited because of the noise (although I do love the birds).

I can’t wait until there is easy bike access accross the river.

Vance Longwell
Guest

Why do you people insist upon riding that bridge? There’s world-class bicycle facilities on the 205. Facilities, that much like today, cost a mint to install, and held-up construction of that bridge for years. I have trouble finding any sympathy for people whom insist on using the I-5 bridge.

Furthermore, dude ran into, A BRIDGE! Why must I have sympathy for this? You can see that bridge from orbit, you can’t tell me he didn’t see it. Bridges do not move around a whole bunch. They’re not tricky little miscreants skulking in shadows, ready to pounce. Nope, they pretty much just sit where they’re built and don’t budge. Yet dude still managed to find a way to run into it.

This gives just-cause to consider this guy’s competency level. If he’s incompetent, infrastructure simply cannot ever address this. Clearly he’s overly entitled as well, as he seems to find it okay to contravene a century old paradigm for his OWN personal safety; and came in to tell us all how little he cares about that, to boot.

They were trying to fix the bridge, because you all noobs can’t seem to find your way across that one safely. But NOOOOOOOOOO, you pitched a fit about the bridge, why again? Oh right, the time-tested engineering principal of ‘urban livability’.

Hell, I’ve spaced-off and just ran right into the side of perfectly parked cars. I guess that means parking cars is wrong, while just spacing-off and riding into them is due to their wrongness. Check.

Every statistic available will state that cycling is one of the single safest endeavors we enter into outside our domiciles, yet you all would have me believe it’s a nightmare out there. Guess it would be, if you can’t even get home with out running into a bridge.

elena
Guest
elena

Vance –

The fact that you’re suggesting that I ride approximately 15 miles out of my way to get from NE Portland to downtown Vancouver every morning, added to your lack of respect for a cyclist who crashed on a proven hazardous route, make me hope that you’re joking. Feel free to not have compassion, but please keep your inane opinions to yourself until you have a valid argument.

sustainabologna
Guest
sustainabologna

Glad the crash injuries weren’t too bad on this one. Crossing the 1-5 bridge is sometimes my favorite part of the day. I like Vance’s comment about spacing out…sometimes when the sun is rising and the mountain is out in the morning my mind (and handlebars) wander a bit but so far I’ve lived to tell the tale.

The most dangerous aspect of using the bridge for me is encountering other users. Yeah, the bridge has design flaws for walkers and cyclists and shopping cart pushers and Rascal scooter riders, but the way we use it makes all the difference.

Vance Longwell
Guest

15 miles? Oh really? Hehe. Nah, the distance between the I-5 bridge and the I-205 is less than 2 miles. (I wonder how long it will take some out-state-douchebag to post a link to information produced by another out-of-state douchebag, that says I’m wrong?) If it takes you 15 miles to make that trip, I hardly see how that’s relevant. Besides which, your convenience is also irrelevant. Or, at least that’s what your camp tells people when they want a new bridge. Tit for tat, whot?

An accident is when something other than the intended outcome results from a particular action. Dude hit a bridge. Not a moving car, or a pedestrian, or anything; but a bridge. You don’t like the language? Who cares? This is a single-person incident that is indicative of nothing besides this guy’s now questionable competence. I have ran into parked cars. Pretty dumb feeling that. Having felt dumb, and injured, and out the expense of fixing a car, I learned to be more vigilant. This is what we call a consequence. So, this guy likely feeling like a chode for running into a bridge now takes the opportunity to criticize infrastructure he doesn’t know the first thing about, and from the perspective of a road user who can’t even get a bicycle home indecent free.

The bridge you all won’t let get built had top-notch bike-facilities. Oh well. Boy, you sure stuck it to those OTHER people though, didn’t ya?

Callous? Not really. Bored to death with the lies and the hypocrisy? Oh yeah!

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

Vance: Weird. I just pulled up Google Earth, and tracing the basic contour of the river from the I-5 bridge to the 205 bridge on the Oregon side of the river, I get approximately 7 miles. Less than two miles? You have some serious misconceptions about distance, buddy.

To complete the loop back the the Washington end of the I-5 bride that brings us to… 15 miles! WOW!

You’re wrong, and all it took was an in-state douchebag (who works right next to the 205 bridge) 2 minutes to figure it out.

Lester
Guest
Lester

I-205 bridge is hardly world class. That lane is so lumpy and windy that it has its own set of challenges.

Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief)
Guest

Folks… everyone that comments here is entitled to their opinion. I realize Vance can rattle cages… but I will continue to delete any comment that only serves to criticize him and that offers no other value to this story. I repeat… Vance is not a troll. He has commented here for a long time and I have met him in person on several occassions. He simply has a particular way of expressing himself that can be combative. Thanks for your understanding.

Vance Longwell
Guest

Thanks for that J. Jees, and I thought I had been way more abrasive on other issues. Fact of the matter is, I-205 isn’t that great of an alternative. It’s just that the debate when that bridge went up was partially about it’s close proximity to the I-5. People were outraged that I-205, at the time the most expensive interstate bridge project in U.S. history, was being built so close to another bridge, and then, only to service Richies in West Linn, the unofficial complaint which perfectly correlates with the sentiment of not wishing to service people who move to Vancouver.

Which should sound familiar. Opposing the CRC also meant opposing a chance at some real good bike stuff on that bridge. The most ardent opposition usually cite the same class-based issues that were prevalent when the 205 went up. If it’s convenience, or trip-times, at stake, apparently these are not actionable problems until, of course, it’s somebody’s personal convenience, time, or in this case safety, that’s effected.

At BP it’s ‘NO CRC’ yet here we have a person involved in an accident complaining about bike facilities on the bridge. Duh. Part of the reason we want to build a new bridge. So, I’m responding to this incredible hypocrisy with a little scolding. So what? Furthermore, just wrecking your bike is a pain in the rear, kind of embarrassing, can be totally expensive, it’s just a horrible situation to be in. But I personally feel a little integrity, a little personal responsibility, and future care are how accidents like this are addressed, not to whine about being distracted by a U.F.O., or whatever OTHER totally irrelevant deflection.

‘Combative’. Yeah, we’ll have to add that one to ‘Provocateur’. Make no mistake, I am not ‘these things’ arbitrarily, or without purpose. I am distinctive on the net for a few reasons. Mostly though, I’ve forgone the usual anonymity for purposes of lending credibility to the following statement of policy: “Yes, I will say these things right to your face.”.

If the just-fine bike facilities on the 205 are not a viable alternative to using the I-5, not my problem. Whaa. Tough-noogies, whatever. The spirit of cooperation is now coming back to haunt the sentiment: “No bridge, no way”. Plus too, this guy openly states that he does not care one-whit about other cyclists on the bridge, and that he’ll ride which ever direction, on whichever side of the bridge he deems best for him. More of that ‘cooperation’ equation that warrants a: “You are dumb for crashing into a bridge.”, from me.

You guys just essentially decided for the whole city that we don’t get a new bridge. To come here and see somebody complaining about the facilities on that bridge is infuriating. More so when you don’t HAVE to ride it, and yet more so that when you CHOOSE to, you pile-it-up and quickly start complaining about it.

Matt Picio
Guest

Vance, you bring up some good points, but consider the following:

– “We” did not kill the bridge. It’s the height of arrogance to believe that cyclists were solely responsible for the current status of the CRC. There were hundreds of non-cylists involved, and the economy was probably the biggest factor.

– What was the reference to West Linn? That’s the OTHER I-205 bridge, over the Willamette.

– The current I-5 bridge needs seismic upgrades. Many who oppose the CRC have recommended upgrading the current bridge, which would be much, MUCH cheaper. Since the existing sidewalks are outside the load-bearing structure, they could be replaced with wider sidewalks that don’t have these problems – and at a much lower cost than the proposed bike/ped facilities on the CRC.

matthew v (#22) – I’m glad you’re ok, and I hope your injuries heal quickly. I’m not going to jump on your case for riding the “wrong” way – it is your right until and unless ODOT mandates the direction of travel for bikes. I will say, however, that 25mph on a downhill on that bridge is definitely a violation of the basic speed law – it’s too fast for conditions. If you continue riding the bridge at that speed, you’ll continue to have collisions. No moral judgement, just simple cause and effect. Take from that what you will – I ride the bridge on the downhill at 20mph when I’m on it – though I ride north on the east side of the bridge, because despite the supposed width issues, I almost never encounter oncoming traffic. 20mph is too fast for me, and I should likewise slow down. Anyway, just stating my opinion – do whatever you feel is right for you.

Ted Buehler
Guest

For folks who want to go see the I-5 bridge for themselves
http://www.cityofvancouver.us/upload/contents/738/InterstateBridgeMap.pdf

jim
Guest
jim

Get well soon Mathew. Do buy a new helmet, you dont want to be spoon fed someday because you didn’t.
One option I understand they failed to fully explore is the 3rd bridge option downriver a little bit that would handle truck traffic. I dont know what they would do with the silly train that Vanc. dosn’t want?

cruiser
Guest
cruiser

Jonathan,

How can you insist on deleting comments in response to Vance and not Vance’s totally ignorant and outright hostile comments themselves? It’s worth noting that elena is correct – from, say 5th and Columbia to the Expo Center it’s 14.7 miles longer via the 205 bridge. 205 is 5 miles (as the crow flies) from I-5 on the Washington side, and about 6 on the Oregon side, plus the bridge itself is substantially longer. And no, Vance, I’m not a douchebag and I’m not from out of state. I’m just someone who can support his opinions with facts. Jonathan, you gotta pick your battles better. Misinformation like Vance is peddling is outright harmful to the debate. If you won’t correct it, you’d better expect that somebody else is gonna. Shame on both of you.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I’ve ridden this bridge just once. The pedestrian/bike area of the bridge is very narrow in places, and people traveling there do have to rely heavily on their reflexes and fine tune control to avoid having a mishap. Not the same at all as playing a video game.

That the commenter described by the editor of this blog as “combative”, “…not a troll…” , and describes their self as a “provocateur” is allowed by the editor to refer to other commenters as “douche-bag” without deletion or being required to make apologies, is par for the course on this weblog.

For the insulting name to be allowed to be issued as a peremptory act of intimidation against anyone that would challenge this commenter makes this incident even more offensive.

Vance Longwell
Guest

cruiser #39 – Uh, you cite a clear example of a difference in source-info about the distance between two bridges. Bridges that I can see while standing on each respectively, mind you. The curvature of the Earth (Easy now cruiser, I take melo-dramatic license with my language. I mean, who knows when the curvature of the Earth actually begins to interfere with line-of-sight. In this case, I’m using a dramatic sounding distance to make a point, not to make a statement of fact. Nuance then, maybe even poorly deployed, but not an attempt to lie, or to deploy misinformation.) would likely prevent this at 15 miles away. Dude, the entire Portland metro area is barely 15 miles across. Perhaps you guys are getting your figures measuring surface street routes, and not the actual physical distance between the bridges, yes? Sheesh. Feel free to simply ignore my position in lieu of semantic hijinx.

Beside the point really, a difference of opinion on a fairly unimportant claim, and aspect of my point to boot. If I concede this, it still doesn’t support a claim that so-called misinformation is hostile in any way. Saying that it’s 15 miles between those bridges is further from you all’s number than mine was anyway. A net difference of 3.2 miles vs. 7.8 miles. Why are you laying the ‘misinformation’ label on me, and not the person who started pulling numbers out thin air in the first place?

Nice passive-aggressive move to whine to daddy too, that’s an effective tool of manipulation. Notice the tacit threat to withdraw your support? Just whose character are you in a position to demean here, fella? Surely you must know that readership is critical to Maus’s efforts here, and your blowing this out of proportion is threatening to this. So, your frustration with me has led you to issue threats to a third-party only attempting to be fair to me. If I’m a hostile liar, what does that make you man?

Debate? Oh that’s a good one. So, what you are saying is that using the 205 is not as convenient for some as using the 5 bridge. This is then used to justify getting service from the authorities to address it. Yet, motorists who wish to expand the 5, for convenience, are evil-doers who are selfish?

The distance between these bridges is irrelevant. I know it’s inconvenient. But notice how when you, a cyclist, are inconvenienced then it’s all about you had better get service. Yet, when a motorist has the same desire, let’s stage a protest. That’s hypocritical, and part and parcel why backlash is beginning to muster.

From all reports the person injured here just got some cuts and scrapes. Since I’ve personally experienced worse I felt entitled to point out that single-vehicle accidents are completely avoidable. That’s surely unsympathetic, but it’s over-the-top to characterize this as hostile. This guy thumbs his nose at the stay-right convention that fairly dictates all traffic in motion, and states he will ride which ever side of the bridge that suits him; and in any direction. Moreover, when he has a completely avoidable accident, he doesn’t self-inventory and try to solve his problem himself, no, instead he chooses to throw more gasoline on a smoldering fire. Why do I owe an individual like this any sympathy whatsoever? Additionally, how is my being passively unsympathetic comparable to being proactively hostile?

jim
Guest
jim

I may not allways agree with Vance, but I do think he has the right to express his opinion and if it is provocative thats ok, as long as its not threatening or just too personally insulting. J is usually pretty good at catching those. This blog is made up of a variety of some pretty colorful people as well as some more respectable people, most everyone has some good points at some time or other, I have changed my mind or attitude on subjects discused here before- so it can be productive (and sometimes entertaining)

AaronF
Guest
AaronF

Stifling debate is even more outright harmfuller though!

I’m glad Vance can express his opinion here.

matthew v
Guest
matthew v

AaronF- i totally agree with you about vance being able to express his opinion here. the more he does the better understanding we get to his character. check out his blog, it will all come into focus.

jonathan- please leave this comment. it’s niether a personal attack nor off topic as you have let the conversation evolve to this.

Vance Longwell
Guest

wsbob #40 – But, but, but, my use of the term ‘douchebag’ was not directed at anybody personally. It’s an ‘if the shoe fits wear it’ type of statement. If you feel this is personally directed at any one, then I feel you are projecting. ‘Vance, you are a jerk’ is a personal insult meant precisely to insult me. ‘People whom behave way X are bad’ is not a personal insult, and is only insulting if you behave way X.

And here you are again. If the 5 bridge is beyond your skill level, then why not take a different route? Inconvenience is not allowed as an excuse, or do I have to go dredge up comments made here about supporters of the CRC? Why not take a bus across? Convenience again, I’ll bet, ’cause C-Tran is routinely stuck in the gridlock you all have said is just-desserts for the ‘cagers’. Well, how do YOU like that attitude directed at YOUR wants and needs? Why not walk your bike across, like I do, so as not to be riding through a bunch of peds? You know, plain old-fashioned good manners?

I am upset with an attitude I find wholly un-communal. For years, when routing has presented issues that effect my riding, I reroute, or find solutions on my own. I’m old, I avoid hilly routes like the plague. Am I entitled then to have all hills removed from Portland? Only after exhausting all of the things I feel I can do to be an undemanding citizen do I consider supporting the modification of infrastructure that thousands use, and not just I. Notice too that I did not comment on this report until way-late. As usual, I get upset with comments coming from people who are so overly-entitled it’s disgusting. Then, the subject of the article comes in with the audacity to reveal his personal policy of riding against traffic, as it were, on this bridge.

So wait. Dude’s riding on a bridge that is simply ill equipped to ride on, and not interfere with pedestrians exercising a HUMAN RIGHT, and in the ‘wrong’ direction to boot?! Moreover, he’s complaining about how hard it is to ride. Why am I the only one who finds this egocentric and selfish beyond all get-out? Why not self-inventory and see what you can do personally, prior to making demands of the tax-base? That just seems like a cooperative attitude, and one that I feel compelled to maintain, why does that make me a villain?

If parsing policy into micro-segments offends you, then I am really sorry about the ‘douchebag’ comment. But it is a misnomer to compare that to a direct, personal insult, and criticizing me for it in that context isn’t fair.

I’ve got my own ‘thing’ going with J, and I have behaved to the letter. He intercedes in one dogpile, and you guys want to complain? The off-hand accusation that censoring others in this thread, and not me, is SO unfair to J, and less than accurate as well. Why threaten his livelihood just to shove a stick through the bars at me?

Dude, biking is my thing man. It’s the center of my life. It is hands down one of my greatest joys. The people whom read this site, and specifically not Jonathan, represent a direct threat to me and my bike riding. You’ve supported banning me from over a thousand miles of Oregon highways. You’ve supported hanging a stupid light on my bike I don’t need or want; and can’t afford. You’ve supported curb-extensions which directly threaten my personal safety, and also force me to alter my riding style. All at the same time you are supporting general policy that is aimed at decreasing people’s access to choices regarding their own transportation needs.

I don’t like this. I like it even less coming from people who’ve less experience than I, and still less considering the sacrifices I’ve made to blend, and integrate into a ‘cager’ world. 25 years I’ve been out there trying not to anger motorists, and now look. Suffice it to say that I am not the guy to look to for thoughtful, nicey-nice, debating.

Plus, when do I EVER digress to the point of something like ‘douchebag’ c’mon wsbob? You know I NEVER do that. One time, one time, and not even aimed at anybody personally, and you’re the second commenter to threaten J over it.

Incidentally, it’s almost as if my Xmas list is getting crossed off as of late. There are some key players who have been very irritating to me personally, all of whom are looking for work right now. Not only am I gratified by this, but now I feel compelled to reevaluate my whole MO, and make inroads to the table again. So, I’ve been considering being less of a dick. I am actually sorry to have offended with the ‘douchebag’ thing, but it’s an honest mistake. I simply didn’t consider that to be personally insulting.

Anyway. I will endeavor to be a little less confrontational, but I also wouldn’t expect me to simply lay-down to people being frickin’ greedy. We’re all of us bat-poo nuts to do this thing we do, and we need each other, that goes for me as well. I’m getting over Jonathan’s personal success, but understand too it’s a bit off-putting to observe his success from my perspective as a native. Sour grapes is a poor excuse I realize, but I’m only human.

Never thought I’d see the day a Californian was running the bike show in-town. For whatever reasons that this is the case, I’m trying to get over it, and just not doing very well. So much of what you people identify as intent in my ranting is more due to my ignorance, and barely literate state. Sometimes I simply lack the intellectual capacity, or command of the language, needed to be positive and productive. Chill, I’m working on it.

cruiser
Guest
cruiser

Vance, seriously: I state very clearly that the bridges are approximately 5 miles apart. They are. This is verifiable. I’d refer you to Google Maps, Mapquest, or any number of other sites if you’re doubtful. Second, when someone says they have to go 15 miles out of their way, that means just what it says – it’s 15 miles farther to use the 205 bridge than the I-5 bridge. The distance between the bridges is irrelevant; the total extra distance traveled is the point. And this too is verifiable via the same resources. Nowhere did I state that the bridges themselves are 15 miles apart. What you are doing here is either A) failing to but arguing anyway; or B) employing what is called a “Straw Man”: a logical fallacy used to make a perfectly legitimate point sound absurd by subtly but substantively altering your opponent’s premise. It’s something that you do repeatedly – in fact, it seems to be the sole source of your anger, since it seems that hardly anybody is really on record having taken the positions that you so vigorously rail against. In any case, it is not commendable, and it certainly doesn’t make you right.

I’d also note that there is no “difference of opinion” between us – in terms of the bridges and traveling distance, we are speaking of facts, and I am right and you are wrong. Again, THIS IS VERIFIABLE, which I’ll probably have to make a special point of emphasizing to (your daddy) Jonathan, who seems to be in thrall to you for god knows what reason. The only “difference of opinion” I see is that you think very highly of your poorly reasoned arguments, and I, apparently along with most everyone else, do not.

The person who initially used the 15 miles number was virtually correct. VERIFIABLE. Whether she pulled the number out of thin air or not, I don’t know, but she was .3 miles off and you were exponentially further off than that. Thus you have no business using exaggeration to make a point. That tactic is okay sometimes, but it fails if the other person’s numbers are right on, and in this case they were.

My appeal to Jonathan is based on his unabashed support for you at the expense of other readers who’ve apparently (per Jonathan’s own words) taken it upon themselves to correct your misinformation. There was no threat, tacit or otherwise. You read that in all by yourself. Go ahead and reread the comment – you’ll see that that’s the case. So let’s clarify: he comes out in support of you and your opinions and threatens to delete the comments of anyone who doesn’t agree with you, and somehow I’m something vaguely worse than a hostile liar for objecting? Doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, pal. Nor do your accusations about my character. You’ll note that I’ve refrained from doing that as regards you. Because, you see, that’s not how reasoned discourse works.

I didn’t say anything about motorists who want to expand I-5. I want to expand it too. I also didn’t demand any additional services for cyclists. You don’t do yourself any rhetorical favors by lumping me in with anonymous people with whom I have absolutely no association whatsoever. That too, is a logical fallacy.

I also don’t care that you’re unsympathetic to the cyclist in question, another item I didn’t say anything about. What I did say was that your comments were factually incorrect (they were, as I have amply demonstrated), that your tone was hostile (it was), and that Jonathan is wrong to defend your post, lacking merit as it does, at the expense of those who have noted the same things I have. I stand by that. If Jonathan wants to leave yours and everyone else’s post up, fine. But leaving yours up and deleting the responses to it out of hand, which is essentially what he himself said he would do, is inappropriate.

In the future, please don’t presume to put words in my mouth. The words I put there myself are way better.

matthew v
Guest
matthew v

wow… a lotta heat generated here. thoughtful discussion is always good. i must point out that the lines between fact and opinion, right and wrong are often blurred for the sake of argument here.

i also should remind everyone that since we are all reading this blog we do have some commonality and cycling is an issue that concerns all of us. the umbrella term “cycling community” encompasses a huge range of people and opinion. to say it takes all types seems trite but fitting. to not listen to all opinions would be disingenuous to the conversation.

when someone puts words into my mouth or states my intentions for me or makes statements concerning how wrong or right i am, does it does it matter to me? honestly? a bit. but i try not let it matter. especially from those i’ve never met. judge lest ye be judged? experience has taught me that those who rage on the hypocrisy’s of others should really take a long hard look in the mirror. i have and it ain’t pretty.

jonathan, vance and me have bumped heads on issues and have agreed on others. regardless of how we come across or the tack we take we are certainly concerned with the same things. opinions vary.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” -Dr. Seuss

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Vance, your constant griping about “non-natives” was old the first time you said it. It’s way, way beyond old now.

I’m going to go out on a limb here (i.e., I could be wrong)– you’re not a member of one of the Oregon tribes, are you? And yet you presume to call yourself a “native,” and complain about all the “non-natives” who’ve moved here?

If you are in fact a “native,” your complaint is valid. If you’re not a “native,” go tell it to the tribes whose land you’re living on. I’m sure they’ll be all sympathetic and everything.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Vance, you ain’t playing games with me. I’m quite sure you know what you did (as most likely, editor of bikeportland, Maus does also, which is even worse).

See Elena’s comment #29, then…waddyaknow…in comment #31, there’s you, Vance, dishing out the derogatory name to anyone that ventures to say you’re wrong about the trip mileage variance Vancouver to Portland over the I-5 bridge compared to the I-205 bridge. And Maus just goes on and lets you do it, doesn’t delete the rude, vulgar term, the use of which is not necessary for the discussion of Matthew Vilhauer crashing on his bike on the bridge.

It’s incredibly dumb to berate people riding bikes, including those commuting by bike, for wanting a straight, shorter shot between the two cities across the river. It’s equally dumb to berate them when they fault the clearance afforded the area where people walk and ride bikes across the bridge.

Rather than discourage them with cavalier insults for taking on the extraordinary burden of a crummy bridge path in order to lessen the load of motor vehicle excess on society, the idea is to encourage people willing to ride their bike (instead of drive the car)with a bridge path that’s optimally designed for comfortable, safe, enjoyable crossing by bike or foot.

Motor vehicle operators sitting on their backsides in their comfortable cars do not seem to respond well to ideas when they’ve been suggested, of driving 15 miles over to the I-205 bridge as a means of lessening traffic volume over the I-5 bridge; Why should people traveling on their own muscle power be any more delighted to take that route than they?

The fact that the I-5 bridge path width makes the trip across this bridge more precarious for people on bikes is not a good reason to expect this travel group to be glad to travel 15 miles out of their way to cross the river. In the past, a number of people have suggested something on the order of the following as a means to enable greater numbers of people to cross the I-5 bridge safely and comfortably:

‘Designate one main travel lane of the bridge bicycle traffic only (I’d extend that perhaps to low power motor vehicles such as wheelchairs and electric bikes 15 mph limit.) Shift displaced motor vehicle traffic to the I-205.’

This idea is beginning to make better sense as time goes by.

Jim O'Horo
Guest
Jim O'Horo

Matthew V. – Sorry to hear of your crash & injuries. Hope by now you’re healing well. Based on the amount of time you were “out” & the extent of retrograde amnesia it sounds like you took a major hit – either that or you’re unusually sensitive. Have you had a prior concussion? In case no one has already warned you, for at least 2 wks. after concussion be especially careful not to hit your head again; your brain has literally been bruised and will be more than usually vulnerable to additional damage until it finishes healing. Also be alert for unusual headaches, a sign that something may be wrong and for unusual dizziness. The latter is frequent with a big hit to the head because debris inside your inner ear sometimes gets knocked loose interfering with your sense of balance. Been dere, dun dat!

Though I haven’t crossed the bridge 1000’s of times, I’ve certainly done it many 100’s over the past 15 years. Maybe I’m just lucky that I’ve never crashed or had a flat there. It’s certainly not because of the great design of the SIDEWALK – I refuse to call this abortion a bikepath. It was never designed as such and isn’t even much of a sidewalk. Originally there were shoulders on the bridge roadway that cyclists could have used with much less risk, but that option was taken away when the bridges were converted from 4 lanes to 6. Tough luck cyclists, but autos come first with the DOT’s.

One possible cause of problems on the narrow I-5 bridge that I haven’t seen mentioned here is gusty afternoon wind. Coupled with the wind blast from a large passing truck you & your bike can be moved sideways quite unexpectedly. When crossing the I-5 bridge everyone should hang onto their handlebars diligently. Todd Boulanger, you were there that afternoon. Do you remember if it was unusually windy?

Dabby @ #26: “I ride it directionally. East side North, West side South. That is the proper way to ride it, and in my opinion the only way it should be allowed.” I agree that riding North on the East side is more appropriate, and that’s what I do also. Jennifer Campos of the Vancouver Transportation Dept. has been trying to get directional arrows installed, but ODOT will NOT force all Northbound cyclists to use the East side sidewalk because it is 6” narrower than the West side sidewalk, reducing Todd’s 12” wheel track to only 6”, difficult for even highly experienced cyclists. Also, the design of the rail on the East side is much more open than that of the West side causing huge problems for anyone with fear of heights.
“Flats tires from hitting the misaligned plate where the bridge comes together (East side).” Actually the West side has the same misalignment for Northbound cyclists. When I’m using my lightweight racer & there’s little wind, I bunny hop the plate. At other times I slow, hop the front wheel & unweight the rear as if I were going up a curb. No problemo! I suspect with your level of experience you already know how to do this, but if not, the next time we happen to see each other, ask & I’ll show you how.

RE: The seemingly endless, ongoing debate over the extra distance of using one bridge vs. another. Actually both sides are overstating their case. The 14.5 mile difference is a worst case scenario. If one assumes random starting & finishing points on both sides of the river, the average difference for using a bridge other than the shorter route is ½ the max. or 7.25 miles. That said, there’s another significant difference between the 2 bridges. The I-205 bridge has a 3-mile hill, so Northbound cyclists have to do a lot more work on I-205 than on I-5, and Southbound I-205 cyclists cruise along at high speed with little effort. When I was younger and in much better health, I used to go miles out of my way to avoid the unpleasantness of I-5, but now when I’m Northbound I find myself going extra distance to avoid that climb – my heart simply won’t take the strain any more.

cruiser @ 39:
“Jonathan,
How can you insist on deleting comments in response to Vance and not Vance’s totally ignorant and outright hostile comments themselves? “
and
wsbob @ 40:
“That the commenter described by the editor of this blog as “combative”, “…not a troll…” , and describes their self as a “provocateur” is allowed by the editor to refer to other commenters as “douche-bag” without deletion or being required to make apologies, is par for the course on this weblog.
For the insulting name to be allowed to be issued as a peremptory act of intimidation against anyone that would challenge this commenter makes this incident even more offensive.”

You folks seem to fail to understand that this website is the property of J. Maus, and he pays the bills. ANY comment posted here is with his permission and, since posts are monitored by Jonathan or his designee, at least with his tacit if not explicit approval. As the owner of the website Jonathan can make and enforce (or not enforce) any rules he wishes. You seem to feel you’re being treated unfairly – maybe you are, but why should that be any surprise? Jonathan makes his living off the advertising and traffic on this website. There are several posters on this site who are regularly abusive. When someone like that provokes you into a long and ongoing exchange, it significantly increases the traffic on the site, and Jonathan can charge more for advertising, so it’s in Jonathan’s financial interest to encourage such behavior. It’s good for business. Posters such as the one you are upset with are simply baiting you, and when you rise to the bait and get into verbal fisticuffs with them they win, and Jonathan makes more money. Best way to deal with such abuse is to calmly and dispassionately correct misstatements if you feel they will misdirect others in the discussion of the article posted and otherwise completely ignore the abuser.
Regards,
JOH

Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief)
Guest

Jim O’Horo,

You are absolutely incorrect in your assessment that somehow I want to encourage abusive behavior in the comments. That is simply not the case at all. In fact, the opposite is true. In my opinion, this type of abusive commenting hurts my business because it detracts from civil dialogue that has been a cornerstone of BikePortland since Day One.

Folks. The reality is that I simply don’t have the time/staff to monitor comments as closely as I should. In case you didn’t notice, Elly Blue has moved onto other pursuits and I am left now as the sole person in charge of content on this site (Elly is thankfully still doing the Monday Roundup).

I try to weigh and right the ship when I can, but it’s not always enough.

Jim. We charge advertisers based more on the quality of our content, not on the how much traffic it gets. Please limit your speculations about my business model until you know more about how this business works.

thanks.