Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

STP route change: Get ready for big crowds on the Steel Bridge

Posted by on July 15th, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Bike traffic, Steel Bridge, sunny Saturday-3

Steel Bridge crowds without
10,000 event riders.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Cascade Bicycle Club, the group behind the Seattle-to-Portland Bicycle Classic has announced a last minute route change. This Saturday and Sunday, an estimated 10,000 riders (most of them on Sunday) will roll across the lower deck of the Steel Bridge en route to their final destination at Holladay Park in the Lloyd Center.

The STP usually rolls across the Willamette via the Broadway Bridge, but with that route mired in construction, organizers decided last May to take riders across the St. Johns Bridge instead. But now, citing an “unforeseeable construction impact”, they say the St. Johns is not an option.

Here’s the revised map…

Revised STP map (PDF)

The lower deck of the Steel Bridge is not very wide and struggles to fit crowds of bikers and walkers on normal summer weekends. Thousands of additional riders should make for very interesting conditions. If you’re on the ride, please relax while on the bridge deck. If you’re not on the ride, you might want to consider avoiding this area if possible.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • dan July 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    That is extremely unfortunate. People will probably wind up having to walk across the bridge, or maybe roll their own routes (Burnside, Morrison, etc.) I noticed that STP had spray painted route markers on the St. Johns and Willamette in frond of UP; hope riders don’t get confused.

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  • Refunk July 16, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Working late, huh, Jonathan?

    That’s gonna be an interesting coupla days. Saturday & Sunday one-day riders blasting along, workin’ on their best time. Then the remaining 9,500* two-day riders, alternately beat with a stick by their second century in two days and exuberant at being in the final stretch – most of whom have never ridden in a group, let alone a peloton. It’s like rush hour on N Williams, only 100 miles long and with less experienced riders. Thanks for the warning to stay off the Steel!

    Seriously, our collective world in the saddle would be very different if everyone in Oregon & Washington was required to do the STP before they could be issued a motor vehicle operator’s license. Wouldn’t that be a game changer.


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  • Elliot July 16, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Hmm… remember Bridge Pedal ’08? Sounds like that lesson wasn’t learned.

    They should instead tell people they’re are on their own to get across the river and hope people disperse to the Burnside, Morrison, even Hawthorne. It doesn’t make sense to create that kind of congestion when alternative routes are just a half mile away. What’s another one mile detour when you’ve already ridden 200?

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  • Jimmy July 16, 2010 at 7:58 am

    But now, citing an “unforeseeable construction impact”, they say the St. Johns is not an option.

    I don’t understand. Is there construction on or around the St. Johns bridge? There wasn’t last week.

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  • shawn July 16, 2010 at 8:21 am

    strange I just saw all the new STP paintings on the road last night across the St. Johns.

    Hopefully they cover those up!

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  • Jessica Roberts July 16, 2010 at 8:44 am

    You have GOT to be kidding. The lower deck of the steel is totally inappropriate for 10,000 roadies. They’re going to be terrorizing our women and children, not to mention backing up their own traffic for miles and miles and miles as the bridge becomes a bottleneck. Sounds to me like the organizers were too disorganized or too cheap to actually get a proper bridge closure…

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  • Duncan Watson July 16, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Leaving 10000 riders many of whom are from other parts of the country to “fend for themselves to get across the river” is foolish. At then end of 200+ miles very few riders will be able to figure out Portland geography.

    Steel Bridge used to be a standard part of the STP. In the early 2000s I used to see them all cross on Sunday, it was fun to watch. This was a last minute change and the STP is run very well, this was obviously a bit of cluster**ck coordination between the city and CBC. It happens.

    You will see 1500 riders on Saturday most likely, and the remaining 8500+ riders on Sunday. It gets crowded near the end, a constant stream of riders on Sunday. It will be fine, at the end no one is passing like a madman, the 200 miles prior have settled people down and they are now grouped with those of like speed.

    Patience locals, it will be over soon.

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  • SkidMark July 16, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Why not the Burnside bridge?

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  • carlos July 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Will someone please think of the children!

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  • Lance P. July 16, 2010 at 9:56 am

    @carlos. HA… I really am laughing.

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  • matt picio July 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Jessica (#6) – Don’t know about “too cheap”, StP doesn’t typically do bridge closures – they always use the Broadway bridge sidewalk. I agree, though that this is a really bad choice – the Esplanade and Tom McCall will be busy this weekend since temperatures will be high 70s and partly cloudy with no chance or rain. There will be conflicts.

    Oh, and this isn’t 10,000 roadies. It’s about 1,000 “roadies”, 8,000 folk on road and commuter bikes who rarely ever ride, 500 racers, 400 on mountain bikes or recumbents, and about 100 “weirdos” on big wheels, roller skates, unicycles, tallbikes, and other hard-to-classify wheeled contraptions.

    Which doesn’t invalidate your basic point, just pointing out that “roadies” is not an accurate characterization of the ridership.

    Skidmark (#8) – Why not Burnside? Because the ride ends in the Lloyd at Holladay Park. It’s too difficult to route 6,000 Seattle-ites and other non-Portlanders from the Burnside to Lloyd Center, and they’d have to cross 3 sets of tracks instead of 1. (normally they don’t cross MAX tracks at grade at all)

    I’m also curious what messed up the St. John’s Bridge route – that seemed a lot better, and Mock’s Crest is a much better introduction to the city proper than taking them all through the NW industrial district.

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  • another trail user July 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

    bad idea…

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  • the original trail user July 16, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I’m sure they’ll have someone on the east end holding westbound deck traffic coordinating with someone on the west end of the steel. If not, someone could get hurt and the organizers would have a huge liability.

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  • Cargo July 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

    From the looks of the map, they are going straight down Everett St. This will put everyone on the upper deck of the steel! Unless they detour south on Naito and then do a Copenhagen Left at Davis St or Couch, this will be an interesting map for folks to follow.

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  • BURR July 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

    If they have to use the Steel Bridge, they should use the upper deck and not the lower one.

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  • Ian July 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I’m gonna sell bandaids on the East bank.

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  • Anonymous July 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Wow a 10,000 strong critical mass comes to Portland and nothing but complaints.

    Having worked the finish line of STP on a number of occasions I can say that the the flow isn’t as heavy as everyone makes it out to be.

    The riders are for the most part well behaved and ride single file.

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  • Steve B. July 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Uh oh.. we better start planning a new, 12-lane steel bridge. It’s the only way we’ll handle this congestion!

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  • alex July 16, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    kinda ridiculous to use the bottom deck when the top deck makes way more sense…

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  • Refunk July 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Anonymous @17,

    The STP is a critical mass, maybe, but it’s not Critical Mass, har-har!

    I too have worked the finish line, as well as ridden multiple STPs. Sure, that well-behaved & single file thing appears at the finish line, when riders are being directed into the chutes, but my money’s on Ian @ 16 making a mint selling Band-Aids where the Steel meets the Esplanade. This is based on the number of crashes and death-defying, boneheaded herd & buddy-riding observed first-hand over the years along the length of the route.

    Still, it’s a neat thing and the crowd that fills Holliday Park on Sunday has every right to revel in their achievement. I just wouldn’t plan on using the Steel for any casual riding Sunday afternoon…

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  • George July 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I am shaking my keyboard in anger. I can’t believe they did this.

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  • suburban July 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    This is why if you want to participate in an organized ride, you must become the organizer, and include as many cattle chutes as you feel are safe for your group.

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  • Jerry_W July 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Welcome to Portland cyclist!! We are a bike friendly city! No, really, we are!

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  • Red Five July 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I plan on riding the opposite direction, but NUDE!

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  • eric July 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    I plan on not going anywhere near the steel bridge on a sunny weekend, the same as any other sunny weekend in Portland. I live here, I know better (routes).

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  • Jim F July 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    @ Red Five: same here, but I will be wearing tweed, riding a tall bike, carrying a polo mallet and pulling a trailer with someone’s sofa on it as part of a move.

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  • Huggybear July 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Did STP in 2005 when steel bridge was part of the route and it was not a big deal. Same # of people.

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  • trail user July 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Pedalpalooza on the Steel Sunday(maybe Saturday too). All themes, all rides! Come one come all! Show ’em what ya got Portland!!!!!!!! LOUD AND LIT!

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  • Bonnie July 18, 2010 at 11:48 am

    As an STP rider who finished the one day ride yesterday in the relative Saturday evening calm with small groups of riders, I was concerned about the new route through Portland. After 200 miles and 11 hours in the saddle I wasn’t comprehending much more than the bright pink road marks and red traffic lights. I’m not very familiar with the city and didn’t know what to expect around each corner as we approached the Steel Bridge, and am wondering how frustrated pedestrians will be today as the remaining 8,500 riders come in. The great majority of the riders are road-law abiding and courteous, but also exhausted. So please be patient around the bridge crossing and understand that the riders are as concerned as you are. We all find the route change to be an unfortunate ending to a wonderfully planned and executed event.

    Many thanks to Portland for the Finish Line Party and to the lady in the truck at Multnomah and MLK who incredulously asked, “You came from WHERE?”

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  • Duncan July 18, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    We are nicer in Portland than we sound on here sometimes… and I have to say-

    Good show on doing a one day StP. My butt hurts just thinking about it.

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  • How could they? July 18, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    So who decided to close the Hawthorne for I don’t know how long today, and why today? I refused to believe that it was really closed to bikes, rode far enough to be convinced, U-turned, hauled my bike over the foot-high curb, and went down to the Esplanade – and across the Steel Bridge when the STP riders were still coming in. Since the sign said the Hawthorne would be closed until 7:00, I crowded STP riders on my way back, too. And I’m nowhere near competent to ride in a peloton.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 19, 2010 at 8:17 am

    So how did it go? Was it a mess, or did things go pretty smoothly?

    I just went back and checked, and PBOT’s 2009 calculated average daily bike traffic across the Steel Bridge was 3,101. So, given that some people do STP in one day, we’re still talking about sending about three times more additional bike traffic across that bridge than it sees on a normal day.

    I’m just trying to picture an event that sends three times more cars than normal on a given bridge (e.g. sending 90,000 cars across the Burnside on top of its normal 30,000) yet wasn’t required to get any kind of permit or provide traffic control services. Doesn’t that seem a little ridiculous?

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  • Perry July 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

    How could they? (#31) – lift cable replacement. Have to do that on the weekends to keep river traffic moving (hard to reroute a barge).

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  • mh July 19, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Thought it was probably something like that. Would that they could have waited a week (or done it the previous weekend).

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  • PHn July 19, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I rode STP in two days this year, rolling across the Steel Br. about 1:00 pm on Sunday. The bridge was nearly empty when I crossed. Other folks, however, said that the crowding essentially forced them to walk across. Like most situations with traffic congestion, there were ebbs and flows. In the end, it seemed nothing more than a minor nuisance.

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  • Shelley July 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    STP, 2 days, Crossed the Steele just before 3PM on Sunday. Lots of STP riders, riders headed the opposite direction and Sunday walkers were all cohabitating very nicely on the bridge. By the time those 10,000 tired but exhilarated cyclists get to Portland most of them have learned to ride in a group and control their bikes in tight spaces. It probably wastn’t the perfect route but if we wait for perfect, none of us will ever bike anywhere.

    This was the 31st year of STP and Cascade Cycling has the logistics down to a fine art. Just almost as good as Cycle Oregon.

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