Checking in on the Broadway Bridge detour

Broadway Bridge detour observations-12

Despite detour plans recommending
against it, some people are riding
across the bridge in the
main travel lane.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I spent some time yesterday watching how people on bikes were handling the detour onto the Broadway Bridge. The bridge just (partially) re-opened to traffic last Friday and currently there are two lanes open as well as the south sidewalk. All bike traffic is supposed to only use the sidewalk, but I noticed yesterday that some people are taking the lane and there’s some confusion about how to get onto it.

Directing all bike traffic to just one side of the bridge is complicated. When streetcar project folks did a similar closure the first time, it went relatively smoothly; but that’s likely due to the fact that the south sidewalk was the only thing open and there were construction crew members out there to direct traffic. Now, not only are there two lanes open on the bridge, but the work crews are absent — and the result is a bit more mixing of traffic.

Broadway Bridge detour observations-13

These guys opted for the two-stage
left turn.

Most of the traffic heading westbound comes west down Broadway. When people on bikes get to N. Larrabee (the last intersection before rolling onto the bridge), they’re faced with several options. Some people notice the “Detour: Bikes use crosswalk” signs and cross Larrabee to the sidewalk on the northwest corner to wait for the signal to then go south across Broadway and onto the bridge sidewalk. Others have already merged into the left turn lane of Broadway (which now has streetcar tracks in it) and they swoop into the bridge’s south sidewalk on the green light.

But there are some folks who see the open traffic lane on the bridge and just take the lane. This is a legal move to make, but it’s not recommended. I was surprised at how many people just rode right over the bridge on the open lane. One woman realized her error about half way across, dismounted, crossed the opposing (eastbound) lane, then carried her bike over the guardrail and onto the sidewalk. A few other guys started west in the travel lane and then swooped over to the bikeway/walkway — across the opposing travel lane — at the last minute. Here are a few more photos of folks taking the lane on the bridge…

Broadway Bridge detour observations-2

This woman was stopped by a police
officer, yet continued across the bridge
in the main travel lane, only to dismount
and make her way onto the
south sidewalk about half way across.
Broadway Bridge detour observations-9
Broadway Bridge detour observations-4
Broadway Bridge detour observations-3

In the 20 minutes or so I observed the intersection, I heard a few horns and it seemed to be a bit more chaotic than it should be… and I haven’t even observed what happens on the west side of the bridge yet.

Thankfully, Carter McNichol, construction manager for Portland Streetcar, tells me that the north sidewalk will be open a week from this Friday (9/17).

How is the Broadway Bridge detour going for you? Are you happy you’ve at least got the south sidewalk or are you waiting until both sides are open before switching back to your old route? I’d also love to learn more about how people are navigating the east side of the bridge onto Broadway and Lovejoy.

View more photos of bike traffic navigating this detour in our gallery.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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anon
anon
13 years ago

It’s great to hear that the northbound sidewalk will be open soon. Crossing bike traffic via crosswalk over to the south sidewalk at the east side of the bridge and then again back to the north side bike lane via cross walk on the west side of the bridge is awkward and time consuming for bikers. I will be thrilled when this project is over and was shocked to see how little track was actually laid in the two months that the bridge was closed.

ac
ac
13 years ago

i didn’t find it that confusing. i’ve used both the left turn lane & the crosswalk

honestly the crosswalk is the slowest of the two, and i’ll probably negotiate the tracks to use the left lane the rest of this week

Joe
Joe
13 years ago

I can’t wait for the north sidewalk to be open. Crossing the streetcar tracks makes me nervous.

In a side note, there is no work being done on the intersection at Broadway and Williams. We keep hearing from PBOT that changes will take place once the streetcar tracks are layed. Guess what? They are layed and the horrible situation of being a bicyclist stuck between two lanes of turning traffic is still present.

rhoneyfi
rhoneyfi
13 years ago

I’m just excited I have a way to cross this bridge again. Sometimes you don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it. Waiting for the crosswalk does seem to take a bit of extra time. Whatever though…having this bridge open has made me bike a whole lot more.

Ed
Ed
13 years ago

I’ve just been taking the lane. Easy and fast.

West Cougar
West Cougar
13 years ago

I’ve taken the lane on two occasions. Saturday, westbound, I went behind the cones starting on Larrabee and just stayed with it since there was no construction going on and there was plenty of room.

Tuesday morning, again westbound, I took the lane turning right from Larrabee at the light and not going behind any of the cones since the construction workers were present at the time.

Tuesday I had planned on taking the south sidewalk, but once I got to the bridge traffic was moving slowly enough I thought I’d be able to keep up on my bike, which I did. I’ll definitely do it again, makes accessing Lovejoy much faster and easier.

Mark C
Mark C
13 years ago

My commute from the NE takes me to the southerly portion of downtown anyway, so I will stick with the Hawthorne Bridge until the Broadway Bridge is fully opened.

are
are
13 years ago

i have been taking 12th to couch and across the burnside bridge.

on the one or two occasions when i did use the south sidewalk on the broadway bridge, i did find the approach from the east slightly confusing. thought i remembered some paint indicating incoming traffic over here and exiting traffic over there, but those markings seem to be gone.

even before this project started i had taken the lane on the bridge deck a couple of times, and i have not yet decided whether the tracks will make this easier, by slowing traffic, or more difficult (being, y’know, tracks and all).

very pleased, jonathan, to hear you say this is legal, though i think it requires a pretty close reading of 814.420 to reach that conclusion. is the MUP a “bicycle path adjacent to or near the roadway?” maybe not, since it also functions as a sidewalk.

Case
Case
13 years ago

The closure was great for me, taught me the Steel Bridge is actually a much faster and less stressful route. Thanks Portland Streetcar!

S
S
13 years ago

Was looking forward to the opening then arrived at the light, saw folks on bikes blowing the turn red, the westward red, taking the crosswalk then crossing again against the light, etc. I was so embarrassed by fellow bikers’ inability to just slow down and figure out what isn’t that difficult, I continued to the Steel to avoid them.

NE Cyclist
NE Cyclist
13 years ago

I’m glad to see a post on this. You hit the nail on the head when noting why diverting all traffic to the south sidewalk is such a mess now that car traffic can go across the bridge. There’s also a major problem with the lack of signage directing bikes where to go, and the added risk of those rails, if turning across them. A little more effort on direction would help make this a safer detour.

Getting back to the bike lane or down Lovejoy on the west side of the bridge is no picnic either. Bikes are directed through a crosswalk that only changes its signal if a button is pressed. All in all it adds a significant amount of time and frustration to the ride. I’ve tried it this week, but will be back to the Burnside bridge until Broadway really reopens.

andy
andy
13 years ago

I took the Broadway bridge in on Tuesday, saw what a mess it was getting to the sidewalk, and decided to go back taking the Steel bridge in the mornings since it’s about the same distance for me either way. But Broadway’s been fine going home.

Kent
Kent
13 years ago

Personally, the westbound detour is a nightmare with the fresh tracks in the left lane. Yesterday I drove my car through this same route, and low and behold a cyclist was laying in that left turn lane – completely crashed and mangled because of the tracks. The shell on his helmet had even come off and somehow his right leg was stuck through the triangle of his bike frame.

The tracks are what make this shift to the south sidewalk complicated. I would recommend making use of the crosswalk for this detour. I’ll probably be taking the Steel into town, and the Broadway home.

Erinne
Erinne
13 years ago

I’ve only taken the Broadway once since it reopened, and that was because I had to make it from Old Town to Kaiser E Interstate. It was more than a bit confusing making it onto the S sidewalk to travel westbound. Now that you mention it, I’ll take the lane if I go that way again!

Normally, though, I’ve stuck with riding in the lane of the upper deck of the Steel Bridge. It’s not a clusterf-ck, and it’s now reasonably empty again since most folks returned to riding or driving on the Broadway. Like Andy #12, it’s about the same distance for me either way, and then I get to race (and beat) the MAX train!

beth h
13 years ago

I’ve been using the Steel Bridge and will continue to do so until the Broadway bridge is fully open again. The Steel bridge top deck was okay except when i needed to ride my cargo bike; then I took the lower deck.

Broadway is a more convenient route from North and NE Portland. I’ll be glad when the bridge is open again — and when they fix the mess at Broadway and Weidler.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
13 years ago

“and then I get to race (and beat) the MAX train!”

http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/cycling/the-real-guide-to-commuting-by-bike/

JJ
JJ
13 years ago

Watch out when crossing the tracks folks, if you dont have experience, they might just eat you.

John Lascurettes
13 years ago

First a good thing to say about the new bridge surface: that lift section is now smooth as glass. It’s very nice. Even the seams seem better aligned and there’s a less jarring bump than before. On to the bad …

Tuesday morning I was turning left from the left turn lane to reach the South sidewalk – as was another cyclist in front of me – when a car turned against a red from the bridge onto Larrabee and did so cutting us both off and nearly hitting the first cyclist. (so it’s not the domain of cycle riders that run reds folks!). I’m still took left turn lane the rest of the week. It’s more appropriate. Using the crosswalks is a huge delay and relegating bicycle riders to less than adequate alternatives compared to the cars.

The crosswalk on the West end of the bridge, as someone else already mentioned, requires pushing the cross button to get across, is at the narrowest section of the sidewalk, and is a tight turn on a bike. Also there’s an awful lot of sand and silt on the bike lane on the North side of Broadway where bikes pick up the lane again heading down to Hoyt.

I may, like Are, go back to going down to Davis to Couch to Burnside to get to downtown for next week and return to Broadway in the mornings the week after. Seemed like it was more overall downhill anyway. 🙂

Coming home on Broadway is the same as it ever was before.

Michael M.
13 years ago

I’m continuing to avoid the Broadway Bridge until it completely reopens. For now, I take NE Sandy west to the couplet, then NE Couch to the Burnside Bridge. It’s been working out fine. Sandy Blvd. isn’t particularly pleasant to ride, but it’s fast and efficient.

PJT
PJT
13 years ago

It’s just like when everyone had to take the Steel Bridge… learn to slow down and chill out a bit and it wouldn’t be a problem. Remember, we ride bikes because they are fun!

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
13 years ago

“Remember, we ride bikes because they are fun!”

fun…did you say fun:

http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12575770

http://www.itsnotarace.org/fcn-calculator/

boneshaker
boneshaker
13 years ago

The work-around is crazy & confusing. I see bikers looking in every direction trying to figure out where to go. I’d much rather continue using the Steel bridge until they get it sorted out.

rrandom rider
rrandom rider
13 years ago

My office is just on the west side of the Broadway Bridge, so the Steel adds another 7 minutes to my commute- that’s important sleep time in the mornings!

The first time I rode the re-opened Broadway this week it was a little confusing, but I figured it out. I think funneling riders onto the NW corner of Larabee to wait for the light to cross south to get on the bridge is a bad idea. It can back up to the point that there is nowhere for more bikes to line up. I have been taking the far left lane and making kind of a jug-handle left turn so I hit the tracks at a good angle. I did see one rider nearly dump it making the turn, so be careful if you aren’t used to crossing the rails!

Coming home eastbound is a breeze and so much better than the cluster on the Steel.

All in all I am very happy to have even just the southern pedestrian walkway open again and haven’t had any real trouble. I even changed my alarm to enjoy those extra few minutes of sleep in the morning.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
13 years ago

Seems like advance signage warning that cyclists need to get over or otherwise prepare for a left turn as required by the MUTCD for detours would have been in order.

jim
jim
13 years ago

I saw bikes all over the place getting across there, lots of confusion. One thing that might have worked well is those arrows like lucky labador used on the pavement this weekend. cyclists understood those very well. they should be easy to remove later on also

Alexis
Alexis
13 years ago

It’s looking like despite the statement that the north side would open again 9/17, it is still not open. This is the first time I’ve tried to ride it at all, hoping it had been.

Even after seeing the detour described on BikePortland, I didn’t feel at all comfortable with it. Eastbound is okay until you come off the bridge, and then you’re faced with confusion about which direction of bikes goes where after the ramps, plus cars turning right across the bike traffic (I wasn’t hooked, but that was just lucky timing).

Westbound is just a pure mess and the lights take forever to change. Since Lovejoy between 9th and 12th is still closed too, I ended up taking the south sidewalk all the way down to turn onto Johnson. And to top it off there was someone sleeping on the bridge, creating a traffic obstruction.

I hope they do re-open it this week at least.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

Alexis,

I rode across the north sidewalk over the weekend and it was open and fine to ride on. when is the last time you checked? if it’s not open please let me know.

Bjorn
Bjorn
13 years ago

rode across right at dusk tonight. Was confused about where to go at the west end coming off the bridge, thought I should be in the bike lane where the bike signal directs you as it is operational and had the green bike signal light. Discovered that there is a streetcar track right in the middle of where it seemed like I should be riding. Took me out hard as it is going the same direction you are riding so your wheel ends up right in a 2 inch wide 2 inch deep gap. I landed on my feet after going over the bars, but my front wheel was taco’d. Take the lane I guess, glad I wasn’t going fast. Thanks to the pedestrians who took a moment to make sure I was ok. It would be nice if they covered the bike signal and striped it to indicate the tracks since there is no way you are going to be crossing them perpendicular but instead are spit out parallel to them. I am sure I am not the first one to get taken down by these tracks.