Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bikes back up during Broadway Bridge lift

Posted by on April 27th, 2012 at 11:07 am

The scene this morning.
-More below-
(Photo: Gabe Graff)

Thanks to a few warm, sunny, and (quite frankly) amazing days of weather recently, Portland’s cycling spring has sprung. Yes, a chill has returned and even some crazy hail happened earlier this week; but the bikeways are still full of people. One neat thing about riding bikes in Portland is that, if you’re like most people who live east of downtown, you get to ride over any one of our beautiful bridges to get into work in the morning. Usually this is a highlight of the commute and usually it goes smoothly. But sometimes lifts happen. And when they do, it’s neat to see the huge line of bike traffic that backs up.

Here in America we’re used to seeing car back-ups; but seeing bike back-ups is something relatively new. Check out the photos of a back-up that occurred on the Broadway Bridge this morning (thanks to Nathan Farney and Gabe Graff for the images!):

This is only about half of the back-up!

Happy spring!

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  • Nathan April 27, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I like how a bike traffic jam is good news, as opposed to another type of traffic jam.

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    • oskarbaanks April 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      None of them are wasting fuel in a stagnant idle.

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  • cycler April 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I think it’s neat that with a few high viz-clad exceptions, if you took these people off bikes, and removed their helmets, they’d look like any random crowd in Cambridge MA. I’m guessing that a random Cambridge crowd isn’t that different than a random Portland crowd, although I don’t know Portland well enough to be certain

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    • cold worker April 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      It’s impolite to say these people look like they’re from Massachusetts. Some might be, but there is no reason to remind them of this. And for those who aren’t, it’s just rude. What did they do to you?

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      • el timito April 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

        As a Connecticut native, I have to say this is hilarious. (Apologies to Cycler.)

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      • q`Tzal April 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        I am offended by your offence.

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  • LoveDoctor April 27, 2012 at 11:28 am

    As Nathan said, I’ve never seen a traffic backup so cheerfully reported. Personally, if I have to be stopped by a bridge, I’d much rather it by on a bike than in a car. I love watching the mechanics of moving tons of steel up close.

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    • Nathan April 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      And not just watching! The resonances and abrupt halts felt as well as heard. There’s nothing like having nothing between you and your environment!

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  • JAT in Seattle April 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

    How smoothly and courteously do things proceed when the bridge gates re-open? (somehow my mental image is very courteously…)

    When our bridges lift (or in one case swivel) there tends to be a lot of jockeying for pole position and quasi-shoaling followed by (to my sensibilities anyway) reckless dropping of the hammer to show who’s boss.

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    • 9watts April 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      That queueing is impressive. Almost like in Britain.
      Is this standard behavior with the bridge up? Ignorant of this etiquette, and not a frequent cross-bridge commuter, when in this situation I’ve just cruised on to the front. I figured there was no reason not to, but I wasn’t trying to cut in line.

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      • John Lascurettes April 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

        I did.

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        • John Lascurettes April 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm

          It seemed weird to be single file and it put too many bikes out not he street where cars and bikes are crossing over each other. There was much more room for two columns of bikes to wait.

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      • dan April 27, 2012 at 1:53 pm

        In my opinion, you should only go to the front if you’re confident that no one will be passing you after the bridge re-opens. Otherwise, you’re just adding to the congestion.

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        • John Lascurettes April 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

          Heh. Lane to myself all the way to Oak where I turn of of Broadway. I even caught the light at the bottom of the Broadway Bridge and took off again at the green before anyone caught up. 🙂

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      • jered May 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm

        In Portland people will queue up for anything…

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    • Elliot April 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      I almost never ride the Broadway Bridge, but my instinct is that the narrowness of the facility encourages most people to ride single file, which solves the issue. The Hawthorne Bridge is a different story, however, and is similar to your description of Seattle bridges.

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  • Joe Rowe April 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Great story. Notice the picture shows 35mph. That was just 25mph a few months ago. Holy backwards progress Batman!

    BTW. Here is the photo of the same speed sign at 25mph a few months ago. It also shows how people in the bike community stood up to the contempt for bikes when the city allowed contractors to put in a pole near the middle of this lane in 2011


    Click the PDF google doc URL above.

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    • 9watts April 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Troubling about the speed limit.
      Belmont’s was finally dropped this week from 30 to 25mph between 25 and 60th.

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    • oskarbaanks April 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Was the slower limit due to construction ?

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    • Steve B April 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      whoa! good catch, Joe. What is this all about? Is it because streetcar wants to go faster than 25?

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      • Jack April 29, 2012 at 10:38 am

        If the street car wants anything, it surely wants to go faster. From what I’ve seen, that thing maxes out at about 10 mph.

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    • jered May 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      I know, I have trouble hitting 25 going uphill on the broadway bridge. I bet I couldn’t even hit 30 in big ring if i hit all the green lights.

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  • Andrew K April 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I cross the Hawthorne Bridge daily by bike and every so often get caught on one side or the other when the bridge is up. I love the crowd of bikes that forms as a result. People talk and chat it up and it’s fun “checking out” my fellow bike riders and looking at the various equipment they are using for their daily rides.

    It’s almost like an unplanned swap meet that lasts for a few minutes in the middle of your day.

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  • Joe Rowe April 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Turns out that 25mph was the speed for construction. The construction phase is complete. Still, if you feel upset that 35mph is unsafe please call. I feel 35mph is very unsafe as bikes meet at the West side of the bridge.

    Call (503) 823-safe and ask to have your call notes on record.

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  • Joe April 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    For future reference if you don’t want to get stopped you can easily go to the Steel Bridge. The tankers stop just before that and the upper deck rarely gets lifted. (until Rose Barf that is)

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  • Zaphod April 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Kind of side tracking this positive story about bike volume but… yeah 35mph seems foolish. With slow posted speeds on both sides (I think), the motorist comes off the bridge fast and then has to shift back into a slower driving mentality. The right turn on the West side would be best suited to an even slower speed.

    I honestly think that *drivers* would appreciate a lower speed limit, either 20 or 25 through any section of the city where complexity is present. Nobody likes to be tailgated because the posted (or culturally accepted norm) speed is higher than appropriate. This adds stress.

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  • JNE April 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    My Steel Bridge approach and crossing is 100 times more mellow than Broadway – plus it feeds right onto the waterfront – why so many of my NE neighbors headed downtown choose the Broadway bridge is beyond me.

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    • Steve B April 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      From this fellow NE’er, it’s because the Broadway is the most direct way to downtown from point north. Taking the steel adds another 8-10 minutes on my commute, and often if a boat is coming through they will raise the Steel minutes after they raise the Broadway.

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      • John Lascurettes April 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        Agreed and as someone who has a choice between the two bridges, I’ve found that the Broadway is typically a much smoother, lest-often uninterrupted ride.

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      • Michael Miller April 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

        Actually, as Joe noted above, most ships that cause a lift of the Broadway don’t pass the Steel – they are headed for the grain elevator just north of the Steel (west of the Rose Garden). Outside of Fleet Week, the upper deck of the Steel is lifted quite a bit less frequently than the Broadway. The lower deck, of course, is lifted very frequently, sometimes several times a day.

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    • Jack April 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

      No complaints about the lower deck of the steel bridge, but using it generally means passing through the Rose Quarter which is typically unpleasant.

      Amazing how many pedestrians will cross against a wait signal without glancing up from their phones to see if there is any traffic. It’s not like its a rare occurrence for a person on a bike to come through.

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  • Steve B April 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Holy Moly! I love how it looks as though everyone was super polite, waiting in a perfect line.

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  • Chris I April 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    20 should be the max for all residential streets, and 30 for arterials.

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    • middle of the road guy April 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

      yeah, and let’s make highways 40MPH……please. I can go faster then 20 on my bike.

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      • are April 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm

        i had a car that could go 110

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    • Jack April 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

      But if that were the case it would take everyone ~20% longer to get to the next red light. What’s the point in driving if we can’t have mini drag races along the way?

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  • Fred Lifton April 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    One negative thing I’ve noticed about BB lifts is that the drivers are extra-cranky and dickish afterwards, presumably because the wait has made them impatient.

    On the other hand, when I got caught in a lift a few weeks I got to hang out and watch an enormous sea lion fishing right below the bridge. He put on an excellent show for me and the dozens of other cyclists.

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    • John Lascurettes April 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Today, there was a very eager salmon that lept out of the water a few times.

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  • jim April 27, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    how many cyclists crowded to the front of the line to try and be the fastest one off the bridge?

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