Vancouver job fair turns I-5 bridge access into a parking lot

As if the I-5 Bridge needed any more safety issues, yesterday’s job fair hosted by Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler at the Red Lion Hotel turned the biking and walking bridge crossing route into a parking lot…

View of biking and walking path to I-5 bridge.
(Photo: Marcus Griffith)

According to Red Lion staff, the field adjacent to the I-5 Bridge is an over flow parking lot for the hotel. Apparently, the hotel staff assigned to help guide visitors into parking spots in the field saw no problem with motor vehicles parking on and driving along the shared path to the bridge.

Although yesterday’s incident may have been minor, using a shared path as overflow parking for motor vehicles reflects poorly on Vancouver’s commitment to active transportation.

I brought the issue to the attention to the front desk at the hotel yesterday afternoon and asked for comment. I was told the issue would be referred to the hotel manager. The hotel manager did not return a message seeking comment.

Motor vehicles were parked on the shared path from approximately 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., which meant the cars were parked on the path during peak commute hours.

North Portland resident Karen Patrick was one of the people affected by the cars blocking the path.

“It wasn’t too much of an inconvenience, but I don’t see why [the hotel staff] didn’t keep the bike path clear or at least put up some caution cones to warn the cyclists about the cars,” she said.

Vancouver resident Matt Lambert was “annoyed” when he came across the parked cars on a return trip from Portland.

“I don’t ride the east side of the bridge because I am sick of illegally parked cars blocking the bike path.. its [crap] that I have to [explit] deal with parked cars on the west side [of the bridge],” he said.

Cyclists can legally use either side of the bridge to cross in either direction, although it is widely encouraged for north bound cyclists to use the east side of the bridge and south bound cyclists to use the west side.

A call to the Vancouver city parking enforcement office was not returned seeking comment if the cars parked on the shared path were legally parked or if they were subject to citations or towing.

Although yesterday’s incident may have been minor, using a shared path as overflow parking for motor vehicles reflects poorly on Vancouver’s commitment to active transportation.

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Noel
Noel
10 years ago

Well said Marcus.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago

It is interesting to imagine turning the tables. Having five hours of bike overflow parking on MLK Blvd, blocking all traffic, for instance. I wonder if the Oregonian or KGW would get their calls returned from the event organizers under those circumstances?

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Set up heavy playground equipment in the middle of a neighborhood arterial blocking everything wider than a bicycle.

Paul Cone
Paul Cone
10 years ago

I’ve only ridden the I-5 bridge a few times, and always on the west side, going both directions. I had no idea you’re supposed to ride the east side going north. Wayfinding signs and maps going north send you to the west side.

JustinS
JustinS
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Cone

A couple others mentioned the same thing. I personally stay on the “with the flow of traffic” side, but since there aren’t any signs directing folks to follow that convention (and, as this post mentions, there’s no actual law requiring it), there’s no way some folks would know to follow the “highly recommended” path.

I’m sure I’m not alone saying that I’d happily pitch in a few bucks to buy some signs that helped keep the bike traffic one-way on each side. The paths are so narrow that one person always has to pull to the side and stop if you get two on the same side in opposite directions. And given that it’s a bit arc, that means one person is losing all their momentum…

John Lascurettes
10 years ago

Is the path not a permanently established easement on their “overflow parking”? I’d think yes. They can still use it for overflow parking, but should legally be obligated to keep the path clear.

Jene-Paul
10 years ago

How not surprising that this should happen at an event associated with Ms. Jaime Herrera Butler (spelling, Marcus!), even if it was Red Lion staff directing traffic.

There is a number to call in Vantucky to have vehicles blocking bike lanes towed off – can’t recall it right now, but it’s also found on a nifty orange plastic wallet card available free in the parking permit office in the new city hall just west of the Hilton across from Esther Short Park. The card is full of bicycle contact info for the city.

As for Vantucky’s humorous view of bicycling and the CRC boondoggle in general (which entails the Interstate Bridge approaches), I guess I just can’t care any more. I’ve got short-timer’s disease since I’m moving to Bozeman, MT this winter, where Dewey will need studded tires, like, 7-8 months of the year. I’m gonna love it.

It’s been fun, Stumptown!

Todd
Todd
10 years ago
Reply to  Jene-Paul

“There is a number to call in Vantucky to have vehicles blocking bike lanes towed off”

The number is 360-619-1284 daytime M-F; evenings and weekends, dial 911. The next time this happens, I will make a point of calling.

middle of the road guy
middle of the road guy
10 years ago
Reply to  Jene-Paul

jene,

Vantucky? Not too smug there, are you Frenchy?

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
10 years ago

You might want to read Refunk’s CGOAB blog to get a feel for his prose. I quite enjoy them, and I think it’s my town’s loss that he’s leaving, no matter the silly nickname he uses for it.

Good travels, Jean-Paul.

Jene-Paul
10 years ago
Reply to  Alan 1.0

I am honored, Alan. Thank you.

I really will miss Vancouver and the entire Pacific Northwest, particularly Portland.

After a bad crash, between Jonathan’s BikePortland and the bike culture of Stumptown, it seemed as if a whole city was beckoning me to get back in the saddle. That, of course, was the best possible therapy for a host of problems. For me, Portland will always remain the baseline of what an American city can be for American bicyclists – even when I visit that other place, uh, what’s it called – oh, yeah – Minneapolis, in the hope of making new friends on two wheels.

When Dewey’s up to his fetlocks (or axles) in snow beside the Continental Divide – soon – I’ll think of what we called winter here and laugh merrily!

Jene-Paul
10 years ago

Ah. Middle Of The Road Guy.

Do you always hide behind digital monitors and aliases to throw personal insults?

I am not and never have been French, having been born an American citizen. The name is correctly written Jene-Paul, not “jene.”

For that matter, the very name “Vancouver” is attached to this abandoned fur-trading outpost principally because of the illicit actions of Brits who wantonly misinterpreted the navigational data of Americans who shared the same with them in the spirit of amity among seafarers. The Brits disregarded the Americans’ claim to the area (yes, yes, as the Americans disregarded the Amerinds before them, etc), moving in themselves.

Smug about using the term “Vantucky” to refer to someplace I have lived for over twenty years?

Sure. When Vancouver’s electorate does not struggle with the simple issues of supporting public libraries, mass transit or school bonds and when it’s society more comprehensively embraces the arts and not merely the widening of roadways for the use of more SOV/SUV-drivin’ commuters who work in Stumptown (I’m smug about that usage, too, albeit in a fonder sort of way), let alone finally recognizing the place of bicycling in the transpo mix, then maybe it will fully emerge from a social state redolent of backwoods Kentucky.

Vancouver has become more diverse in many important ways in the past few decades. I have no doubt that the moderating influence of its more liberal neighbor across the river Columbia will continue to aid the growth of Vancouver toward a livable, vibrant city – after it’s finally annexed by Metro…

How ’bout we stop picking on each other and go out and ride our bikes?

Alexis
Alexis
10 years ago
Reply to  Jene-Paul

Following the usual Laws of the Internet, both Marcus’s spelling and yours are off. It’s Beutler, not Butler.

Jene-Paul
10 years ago
Reply to  Alexis

Touché.

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
10 years ago
Reply to  Jene-Paul

Her name was spelled “Jaime Herrera Beutler” in the submitted draft. *Someone* lost the the “r” in transferring it to the final post. That or the letter was just blocked because a car parked on top of it. 🙂

Atbman
Atbman
10 years ago

Where are the Parked Cars Trials & Stunt Riders Co-operative when you need them. By the way, is it illegal to ride on the grass?

Spiffy
Spiffy
10 years ago

I can’t imagine that being legal…

if I had the skills I’d just hop up on those cars and bike over the top of them along the path underneath…

Indy
Indy
10 years ago

Johnathan. Not sure if you are aware of this but in your RSS feeds some text is showing up twice since you have it listed in the sidebar as well as the article.

Schrauf
Schrauf
10 years ago

Much blame can go to each driver, as well, unless the parking lot attendant forced each of them to pull all the way up the fence. In an overflow lot like that, it is common sense to pull up near the sidewalk/bikepath, but not actually park on the path. Only the stupid or hateful would park on the path. Based on the event they were attending, maybe it is both…

Champs
Champs
10 years ago

In my one adventure across I5, I used the west side both ways. I started north, and got the impression I was going the wrong way, but what meager signage there is seemed to point me that way, but at that point I just wanted to get the hell through there. What a mess.

Putting aside those it would create, bike access is one problem the CRC would solve, is it not?

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

Cite and tow. It’s the only way. It’s an ODOT path.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Aah, other Red Lion; so WSDOT…

pdx2wheeler
pdx2wheeler
10 years ago

The picture makes it seem like the path might have been the first place cars were parked, rather than used as a last resort option. Seemingly lots of room behind those parked cars that was never fully utilized first… No respect I tell ya!

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

Those cars could also be posted to MyBikeLane Portland…

Jolly Dodger
10 years ago

And what would the insurance claim made by an auto owner parked on a bike path look like? “My car was blocking a bike path when i left it and on fire when i returned…do i have to pay the deductable?”

Shanti
Shanti
10 years ago

If someone had hit the parked car, or was doored by someone getting out, how would that play leaglly? Would the hotel, the city or the congresswoman be liable?

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  Shanti

The cyclist would be cited for riding too fast for conditions and sued for damages to the car.

caleb
caleb
10 years ago

ODOT controls the signs on the bridge. ODOT saisd no to having uni-directional bike signs. Maybe ODOT will okay “no parking” signs?

Scott Mizée
10 years ago

WHAT Jene-Paul?!?! You’re moving to bobcat country?!?!?

Jene-Paul
10 years ago
Reply to  Scott Mizée

Bobcats? Don’t Grizzlies snack on those?

Yup. Bozeman, to be exact. Apparently, a surprising amount of the year, bike infrastructure is not a big issue since the whole roadway is under ice and snow. Adventure waits.

When I return some years hence, I will think of you when riding from the Broadway Bridge to the emerald St. Johns over the Willamette. Bonne chance.

Bob the Biker
Bob the Biker
10 years ago

I was on a recreational ride to the Washington side of the river and came across this on the way back. I nearly tore the mirror off the middle car in the picture (it was the only one left on the path and it completely blocked it). I was pissed. Moron drivers and hotel staff.

noah
noah
10 years ago

I think this situation also represents an ADA violation.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

I did spot a sign on an (open) gate driving across that bridge today that read “SOUTHBOUND LANE CLOSED – USE I 205,” so I’m guessing that DOT is treating it as a divided highway and expecting people to understand that each side is one way.

scdurs
scdurs
10 years ago

The City of Vancouver proposed applying some directional pavement markings on both sides of the bridge a couple of years ago. The City received some grant money for signage to do it. I believe it came down to ODOT’s approval to make it happen, and they balked on it. So the idea was scrapped.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

ODOT balked, and rightfully so, because the signage proposed was nonstandard, not uniform, and hadn’t been approved even on a test case by the USDOT. Grant money wasn’t involved. If Vancouver had actually read the standards that apply to such signage, odds are ODOT would have said, “Make it so.”

jon
jon
10 years ago

so symbolic of the philosophy on transportation across the river. afterall they’ve turned their downtown into little more than a giant parking lot (and then are shocked its so dead), so this isnt too much of a surprise. clark county, so near, yet so far.

Thomas Le Ngo
10 years ago
Reply to  jon

Vantucky deserves some credit where it’s due. Ten years ago it had no redeeming qualities. Now it actually has a downtown that’s kind of cute.

PoPo
PoPo
10 years ago

Jonathan, you twittered a request for feedback on Marcus’s articles. In general, I’ve appreciated them, however this one feels closer to gotcha journalism. The sidebar highlights a poor judgement regarding “Vancouver’s commitment to active transportation,” yet I wonder if we really have enough information yet to pass such judgement based on this incident.

It does not appear that he has tracked down for sure who actually controls the path at that location. If it is private property, “Vancouver” probably has very little power to affect a change. Perhaps the city and hotel have discussed this in the past to no avail. I appreciate that he made a couple of calls, but a day might not be long enough for a reply from a city government, especially regarding a situation that he admits is “minor.” Who knows what was going on in the parking office when he called.

In one of his other articles (http://bikeportland.org/2011/04/20/hayden-island-incident-highlights-confusing-path-access-issues-51772), Marcus used a frustrating incident to reveal how complicated rules and ownership issues can be surrounding multi-use paths, and how the actions/attitudes of a few people might not reflect the entirety of the situation. I wonder if similar approach might have been better in this article.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Reply to  PoPo

Thanks for that feedback PoPo. I hear it loud and clear and I will take it into consideration when I make future editorial decisions.

I do want to add though, that upon re-reading the article, I don’t think one can draw a connection between Marcus’ mention of “Vancouver” in that pull quote and the City of Vancouver. He could be saying that it reflects poorly on Vancouver as a whole, which I think is true and valid given what happened.

Unipod
Unipod
10 years ago

I think its a good quote that cuts too close to the truth for how much of Vancouver, and much of Portland too, feels about cycling.

J. Draven
J. Draven
10 years ago

The post is more informal than his other ones, but it’s still fair. His closing statement concisely summarizes the frustration of the hotel using he bike/ped path as event parking. And he is right, regardless of who owns the right of way to the property, the incident reflects poorly on Vancouver.

Personally, I wouldn’t have censored out the explicits from the quotes. Sometimes a swear world is the right word.

Fred Armstrong
Fred Armstrong
10 years ago

Can’t believe all the hate and anger because bikers had to take a few extra seconds to drive around some parked cars at a job fair.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Fred Armstrong

Park your car sideways in the middle of the I5 motorist lanes and see how quickly they get pissed. They were blocking a major thoroughfare.

Arem
Arem
10 years ago
Reply to  Fred Armstrong

Sounds remarkably similar to the reaction of motor vehicle drivers having to take a few extra seconds to go around bikers. Uncanny, yes?

Seager
Seager
10 years ago
Reply to  Arem

I think a better comparison would be the reaction that car drivers would have to people on bikes completely blocking a major road and forcing the people in cars to drive through a front lawn or city park.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Arem

More like their reaction to Critical Mass, and in both cases, it’s justified.

Ted Buehler
10 years ago

According to Clark County maps the land belongs to the BNSF Railroad (north end) and the State of Washington (likely the Department of Transportation) (south and center). There may be a part of the lot that is owned by the City of Vancouver where 2nd St. once ran.

http://gis.clark.wa.gov/imfmol/imf.jsp?site=pub_mapsonline

Zoom in, and click on the “i” icon to “identify” the owner of any given parcel.

At any rate, the whole lot is probably managed by WashDOT.

Their customer service email is
HQCustomerService@wsdot.wa.gov

Whenever you see cars parked on a multiuse path, you can email them a photo and ask them to address the problem.

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
10 years ago

Clicking more carefully, it looks like the “vacant land” there is owned by 4 different owners:
* top 10% — BNSF — parcel 48450000
* upper-middle 20% — City of Vancouver (2nd St) — no parcel #
* middle 20% — State of Washington — Parcels 48480000 and 48470000
* lower 50% — Red Lion Inn — parcel 48475000

In the photo, the cars on the left side of the photo are on railroad property, and the right side are on the old 2nd St. right of way.

Still, the multi-use path is probably maintained by WashDOT, so email them first.

Ted Buehler
10 years ago

Looking further, under the “layers” tab, you can select “photography with roads and parcels” and see exactly where each parcel lies.

The railroad, city and state parcels are the “meadow” and the Red Lion parcel is the paved parking lot.

jim
jim
10 years ago

These car owners are “just a bunch of fun loving people”and should be left alone, just like bikes that break laws and nothing happens

noah
noah
10 years ago
Reply to  jim

jim, there are differences you don’t seem to account for that make your analogy fail.

First, while it may be that a higher proportion of cyclists break the law than of motorists, practically no one in this community actually makes the argument that rogue cyclists “should be left alone” — say, by not being subject to enforcement action, as I think you are implying.

Second, those who argue that cyclist enforcement should be somehow weaker than motorist enforcement tend to give the justification that more is at stake when a motorist disobeys a road law. The argument for that has nothing to do with the putative character of the vehicle operator — whether they are “just a bunch fun loving people”.

Third, even if we grant that cyclists should be punished just as often and just as harshly as motorists for the same unlawful action — seems like a stretch to me — when have cyclists ever performed an action that’s anything like what happened in Vancouver? Have cyclists ever parked the bikes across a freeway on-ramp, say, for their convenience, forcing some drivers onto the grass for a stretch, and blocking others entirely (as wheelchair users would have been blocked in Vancouver)?

middle of the road guy
middle of the road guy
10 years ago

You know, you guys keep referring to another place as some sort of red-neck heaven (“vantucky” – how clever!) and you wonder why people think you are smug elitists perpetuating an us v. them attitude.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

As a member of the Vancouver business community, I can see where this attitude comes from. As someone who commutes from Portland, I can say “Los Porteles” is equally applicable south of the river…

noah
noah
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Port Angeles? 😀

Unipod
Unipod
10 years ago

What bothers me about this incident, and why I think its an important to discuss it, is the number of people involved in letting the cars park on the path. There was the hotel and event staff that assigned the parking, the drivers who actually parked there, who knows how many passengers and witnesses, and there were all the people who walked by. All those people didn’t seem to care or notice the problem.

It does say something about Vancouver for all those people to not even notice or care about blocking a major bike route. As Marcus suggested, it does reflect poorly on the area’s commitment to cycling. For those that don’t know, Marcus is a Vancouver resident so I don’t think he was making a Portland vs Vancouver elitist roll.

I am sure now that the incident got media attention, there will be some steps to address it.

Opus the Poet
10 years ago

I don’t know, I think this might be a case where a road flare in the driver’s seat would be justified: Parking on an off-road bike path that is nowhere near a road or parking lot. OK somewhat near the parking lot, if you use your imagination.

A cyclist would have no expectations of finding a car parked there.

Alan 1.0
Alan 1.0
10 years ago

Would a line of curbing, or maybe posts-and-chain, make sense to keep the designated multi-use path clear of obstacles?

Samthedog
Samthedog
10 years ago

Folks,
I think we are missing the bigger picture here. I rode through this today and was mildly annoyed. I had to slow my pace a bit, weave between the cars, etc…But it wasn’t that bad – I got to work on my sprint! I was still riding, IN THE DRY, and passing all the suckers stuck in the daily grind across the bridge. The reality of it is that 99% of the people we encounter in their motorized coffins each day DON’T understand us. A bike path to them is a place to plant the dusty Huffy twice a year and grind out a slow painful .5km. PDX is the BEST bike town on the planet. We’ve gotten there by education and acceptance, not by threats and other nonsense. The media in this town loves a good story, especially when there is a politician tied to it. When (not if) this happens again, let’s use our collective heads. Road flares on seats and lighting things on fire isn’t the answer.