Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Riding the new – carfree – Gibbs Street Bridge

Posted by on July 19th, 2012 at 9:13 am

Gibbs Street Bridge-12

Looking east from SW Gibbs.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

I finally got a chance to check out the new Gibbs Street Bridge yesterday. Verdict? It’s a fantastic new connection between the Lair Hill Neighborhood and the South Waterfront District.

During the evening rush hour, the $12 million bridge ($10 million of which came from the Feds) — which spans over about 12-13 lanes of I-5 freeway and on-ramps — felt like an oasis amid a snarl of car-choked traffic.

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It was wide and welcoming, even on the east side, which is only accessible via an elevator or several steep flights of stairs.

In the time I was there, I saw a wide range of users, from children to people walking dogs, jogging (the new stairs are a hot new workout spot!), and lots of people on bikes. The elevator was a breeze to use. And, thankfully it’s quite spacious and could easily fit a bike with a trailer or a longtail/cargo bike. The ride itself took about 35 seconds.

You can roll right up to the elevator doors from the new cycle track on SW Moody (just across from the Go By Bike bike shop and OHSU bike parking). Once up on the bridge deck, there’s a fantastic viewing platform that gives you a nice view of the river and the Ross Island Bridge.

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On the west side, the bridge spreads open its arms and welcomes folks with nice paving stones at the same grade as the sidewalk. I liked how there wasn’t a bunch of signage or pavement markings saying what users can and cannot do. I appreciated the minimalist aesthetics (get rid of the bollard and it’d be perfect). Also on the west side, the project improved the SW Gibbs/Kelly intersection with a zebra-striped crosswalk and warning signs telling folks to expect people to be crossing.

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While snapping photos, I met Patty Fendall, who was walking her dog. Patty and her husband Matt live just a few blocks away from the bridge entrance and she was just tickled to death that it had finally opened. “We’re just so excited… The connection to the other side, the river, the parks, the businesses, it’s just amazing.” The Fendalls have extra reason to be enthused about the new bridge, they’ve just opened a new food cart, Jaffles & Wraps, that’s parked just a few yards away (at right, in photo below). In fact, they like the bridge so much, they put it on their logo.

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While overall I think the bridge is wonderful, I do have a quibble. Since I fully expect the elevator to not always been open and/or operable, I was happy to hear project staff say the 125 (or so) stairs were built with a wheel gutter. Unfortunately, the wheel gutter is pretty atrocious. It’s just 3-4 inches of flat concrete shoved to one side of the stairway. You’re better off putting your bike on your shoulders, investing in a locally made frame handle, or just hoping the elevator is open.

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wheel gutter on gibbs bridge

Have you ridden it? Share your feedback below. Learn more about the bridge at the project website.

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  • michael downes July 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

    The bridge is awesome plus I can fit my long Bakfeits in the elevator with scads of room to spare. Worth every single tax dollar spent. I agree, the ‘rial’ on the stairs for bicycles is pathetic but then I have yet to encounter one that works as advertized. Now we just have to wait for the Portland Milwaukee light rail bridge and all will be rainbows and unicorns.

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    • El Biciclero July 19, 2012 at 9:38 am

      “rainbows and unicorns.”

      You “rainbow and unicorn” people! Don’t you know how dangerous unicorns can be? Sure, they sound great–and even look good on paper–but in practice, the number of people injured by unicorns is far greater than ever gets reported. Plus there are enough people who are so unnerved by that creepy and dangerous-looking horn that they won’t even think about riding.

      What we need are more puppies and bunnies.

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    • was carless July 19, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Personally, I prefer double rainbows.

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    • Chris I July 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

      One advantage of the cast concrete “rail” is that it will never break or wear out.

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      • jered July 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        but you can save a ton of grams if you buy a titanium one…

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      • Greg July 20, 2012 at 12:09 am

        I was wondering is it might be better in the rain than the metal ones that can be quite slick, esp since my bike is heavy.

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      • Dave July 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

        It’ll especially never wear out, since nobody is going to be able to use it 😀

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  • Dave July 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I parked my bike down at Go By Bike this morning and walked up the hill to my job, something I never could have done before. So, for that, it’s fantastic. It was about 20 minutes from CHH (OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing) up to the School of Dentistry.

    I should also say, I’ve never really been IN the Lair Hill neighborhood before, and it’s quite nice. The walk up is pleasant, and honestly more of a workout than my bike ride down to the tram is.

    The crossing at Naito at 7:20am is not bad at all (Naito was totally dead), the only issue is that the traffic coming under and around from the Ross Island bridge comes quickly since you can’t really see it coming much ahead of time.

    The crossing at Barbur has a striped crosswalk, and people actually stopped for me! Then you walk North just past the Jewish center and there are stairs that take you up to a dirt path that goes up to Terwilliger, and there you have it.

    Made for a nice start to the morning, and I have a feeling I’ll do that occasionally as long as the weather is both cool and not raining.

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  • Dave July 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

    It just blows my mind that someone would intentionally design a wheel gutter like that. I mean, seriously. If you’re going to intentionally put it there, I would imagine thinking about if it would actually work would be a good idea. And I can’t see how you would think this would work if you actually thought about it. Not to mention it’s not exactly a super complicated design element. All it has to be is an accessible flat strip of concrete.

    Oh well, at least they did a bang-up job on the rest of the bridge, it’s a really nice facility.

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    • Will Vanlue (Contributor) July 19, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Maybe the existing, poorly-designed wheel gutter is savable. I’m no engineering but if they simply put a lip on the outside of the existing gutter (and installed a second gutter on the other side of the stairs to accomodate two-way traffic) it would look like this wheel gutter I used in Amsterdam which worked great.

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      • Tom M July 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

        What is nice about the one you link to is that the bicycle stays away from the railing and upright. No fancy bike wrangling skills involved.

        In addition I noticed that ramp is a retrofit. Them simply cast it right on top of the existing stairs. It would not be difficult to do. The real question is would it be approved by building codes (clear stairs of so many inches wide at such a slope, etc…) and would they be safe from litigation because someone might ‘trip’ over this so called hazard.

        So when push comes to shove, I suspect it is so narrow due to liability concerns rather than ability to design a better ramp.

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    • Spiffy July 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

      plus it’s on the wrong side… you’ll be walking your bike down against traffic coming up the stairs…

      I still always stay right when walking and that wheel gutter design messes up the entire flow… some designer needs to get lectured on that thing…

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  • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I have been on it twice now, once from each approach and once during the night.

    Overall it is a wonderful piece of Pedestrian infrastructure, but the fact remains that the lack of a ramp on the east end is an all around disaster requiring a future million dollar retro-fit, and yes the stairs bike wheel well IS a JOKE.

    Once the west-side waterfront multi-use-path is built, and a nice bike friendly route is constructed via the “Red Electric Trail” to Fanno creek this is going to be a MAJOR bottleneck for bikes. It will take a few years, but this will happen and much sooner than people may think. Think about westsiders once the new bike friendly river crossings to the Spingwater trail are built.

    1. I have a friend who tours with a Tandem bike with a cargo trailer and this elevator is USELESS to him. WAY too short.
    2. an even small tour group of bikes with trailers or child carriers will have to wait for multiple elevator rides requiring long waits.

    I find it disturbing that everyone seems to think this is wonderful when in reality it is just an expensive, if nice and very needed, PEDESTRIAN bridge where bikes were an afterthought at best and yet it will be touted as a multi-million dollar piece of BIKE infrastructure to the driving public who does not really pay attention…just like the current propaganda about the Sellwood bridge cost overruns.

    I have not yet received a response from the city on whether there are at least PLANS for a ramp addition and whether they have left room and public ROW for one when it needs to be built. Plus, because of the $12 million cost of this crossing everyone will say “Why was this not done in the first place….what a boondoogle.” Personally, this type of stuff is what makes government look bad….not thinking things through.

    I do not want to sound over-negative but really, was this project even vetted properly? Was the BTA involved? Were any bike riders involved in the design process? Was anyone thinking ten years in the future?

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    • mark j ginsberg July 19, 2012 at 10:00 am


      I don’t know you, but yes your reply does come across as negative. all public projects have input from lot’s of folks and are usually a compromise. I am not saying that is right, but it is reality. I’d encourage you personally to be involved at any level. (Again, I don’t know you, so if you are, I thank you, really.) I would encourage you and all commenters to be involved on the front end of projects to help shape them, to make them better each step of the way!

      Mark Ginsberg

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      • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        Actually, since I discovered this website and had a little more time on my hand I have been pretty prolific. I took a few grad courses in Urban Planning at PSU a decade or so ago and have turned into a back seat planner. I have read most everything the city has on-line when it comes to new projects, and have sent in my input on an assortment of current “compromises” including Williams and Multnomhah. As my time allows I am sure I will become more involved.

        This bridge would easily turn in my view from a “major disappointment” to “wonderful centerpiece” as long as the city acknowledges that it is a half-finished bridge. We as a city will never reach 25% bike share split if we build bottlenecks. As long as the future need for a clear ramped connection to the waterfront is planned for and stated as a future goal then this in my mind is a much needed step in the correct direction.

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    • A.K. July 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

      I saw your post about the elevator not fitting a tandem bike with cargo trailer the other day.

      Honestly, how many people ride such a configuration, and exactly how big of an elevator do you think they can reasonable put in? The current elevator looks large enough to serve 99% of folks.

      And if you “tour with a tandem and bike trailer”, do you need to get to that neighborhood on your “tour” rig? There are other ways to get over there as well if it “had” to be a destination.

      As far as a ramp goes, my only thought on that being missing is that it would have had to be prohibitively long to be a gentle enough grade that people wouldn’t whine about having to ride up it, or to not have a bunch of switchbacks that can be tough to negotiate on small paths (like the ones at the Hollywood TC). Another issue may be acquiring the right-of-way to build such a long ramp over multiple properties.

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      • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 10:21 am

        Admittedly your point is correct that the “long bike with trailer” is a very small percentage, but with all the new cargo bikes coming out who knows what the future will bring, we should plan for it.

        I took a look around and there is certainly room for a ramp, it may not be ADA accessible but there is certainly room. Particularly if you have an over-crossing of Moody, then the ramp can gradually lead to the waterfront AND be ADA compliant, as long as they left the 15 foot of ROW. Another option would be a ramp heading north where there is also room, or possibly wrapping around the back, there are several options. Now that there is an elevator, then the ramp does not have to be ADA compliant. The point remains that there will be significant increase in bike touring and group rides in the future and the elevator AS A CONCEPT is a bottleneck. We should not be building any more bottlenecks.

        I am not saying we need it NOW, I am saying that the need WILL be there and we should have at least planned for it, and included a ramp connection in the long term plans for the adjacent properties, the master plans for the riverfront MUP and the neighborhood as a whole.

        In either case we WILL be returning to this in ten years and all the new cyclists will be complaining about the lack of an eastern ramp…

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        • Chris I July 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

          I would guess that the elevator works for 99.something% of bridge users.

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          • jered July 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

            what about the 1%. I have a tandem with an xterra cycle with tag along, with a trailer… what about me?

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            • Scott July 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

              We are the 99%! How can we compete when your 1% of cycling self controling 99% of the cycling space?


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        • davemess July 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

          How long would a ramp have to be to cover the height (it’s well over 4 stories). That would have to be a VERY long ramp. Do you want to be dumped a quarter mile away from the bottom of the elevator (unless you do a LOT of 180s on a ramp. You’re suggesting they cross Moody? The cost of that ramp would have to be a good percentage of the actual bridge (again that ramp would have to be long).

          Frankly I don’t understand the issue here. This is a not a hugely bike-trafficked area. And yes this bridge will increase bike travel in the area, but there are two major thru roads for bikes on the top and bottom and there are easier places to cross I5 if someone is not going precisely to the OHSU area of the south waterfront.

          I know that it can be good that the “cycling community” is critical of bike infrastructure, and that will help keep us on the cutting edge. But sometimes people just have to step back and realize how good Portland has it. Sometimes the criticisms on here can be pretty laughable to many.

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          • Opus the Poet July 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm

            And how many people would drive without roads? If there was no bike access through that area before how many people would ride bikes there? And why would they?

            This is allegedly bicycle infrastructure, why is there not bicycle access on one end? That stairway and “wheel gutter” is a bad joke. It isn’t easily used by normal bicycles or riders. And if they are really concerned about ADA compliance all they need to do is install a center rail that allows for easier reach. If this was a real bicycle project it would have 2-way access at both ends of the structure.

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      • Spiffy July 19, 2012 at 11:07 am

        I saw your post about the elevator not fitting a tandem bike with cargo trailer the other day.
        Honestly, how many people ride such a configuration, and exactly how big of an elevator do you think they can reasonable put in?

        unfortunately not many people ride such a configuration…

        but look down from the bridge at the highway and imagine all those people are now on bikes… many of them have families and will have large bikes, long bikes, and trailers… those people aren’t going to be interested in biking if the facilities aren’t there… and this bridge is not a facility for all of them…

        this bridge is a gift to pedestrians and a token to bike commuters…

        it’s not a piece of bike infrastructure made for the general public…

        but it’s a nice bridge…

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        • A.K. July 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

          I’d argue that if this was a design for a more important bridge link (say the Hawthorne), it would need to better accommodate every combination of bike and rider available.

          But since this serves a relatively small area of town and a more limited number of people, not over-engineering the end product for every possible scenario was probably a wise fiscal move.

          That being said, the wheel gutters are poorly placed for those that do need to use the stairs and cannot carry their bike easily.

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          • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm

            This will be the link to the westside red electric trail out to Fanno creek and the Willamette river front multi-use path. In the future it may be as busy as the Hawthorne, but not with an elevator.

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      • jim July 19, 2012 at 7:36 pm

        I would build a spiral ramp, might get a little dizzy though going down.

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  • Zaphod July 19, 2012 at 10:01 am

    My kids will sometimes complain that there are no candy sprinkles atop their delicious ice cream cone. Instead of enjoying the cone on a hot summer day, they instead cry and cry because there are no sprinkles.

    I’m pretty excited to be able to float across a swath of impassable freeway pavement like a bird.

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    • Opus the Poet July 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      This is not a case of demanding sprinkles on ice cream. This is supposed to be bicycle infrastructure, but it does not have bicycle access on one end. On that end you have stairs that you have to be a contortionist to use and that you can only use in one direction, or an elevator that bottlenecks only a few bike through at a time and that fails completely when the power is out. OK the contortionist bit is a touch over the edge, but there is no denying that when the power is out that elevator is useless. At the very least there needs to be bi-directional wheel gutters on the stairs that you can get to without fancy bike-handling tricks because when the power goes out the weather is most likely not going to be dry. At the very least it is going to be very wet most likely it will be cold and Icy slick and no salt or sand on the treads of the stairs. If you have a flat gutter like shown in the picture that you have to lean the bike way over to get the bike under the hand rail then in icy conditions you have a impassible site for heavy bikes when the power goes out.

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      • Tim w July 23, 2012 at 1:19 am

        “This is supposed to be bicycle infrastructure, but it does not have bicycle access on one end.”

        Actually, it does have bicycle access on both ends. It is perhaps more accurate to say that it has somewhat limited bicycle access on one of the ends.

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  • Dave July 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Also, while walking across this, the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” somehow kept popping into my head 🙂 Which is unfortunate, as it’s probably my least favorite Simon & Garfunkel song.

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  • Mele July 19, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I actually really liked the wheel gutter for the way up the stairs– I found it nice and smooth and easy to use. Way better than the one at Hollywood TC.

    …down of course is always a lot harder. Luckily the elevator was working again by then!

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    • Dave July 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Imagine trying to use it either way with panniers or a front rack/basket (both of which are very common). No way.

      Had the same problem with the movable gutters they installed at the top of the tram for a while, coming out the back of the Kohler Pavilion (http://portlandize.com/2011/05/accommodating-bicycles/). It kept getting pushed under the railing, which made it completely useless unless you had a light racing bike with nothing attached to it that you could easily wheel down and keep a handle on without using the brakes.

      Again, this seems totally NOT like rocket science. I really do hope they fix this somehow, as it really would be a great thing to have.

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      • Madeye July 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

        I agree – totally impossible to use with panniers. I saw it and thought the news about having a wheel gutter was wrong, because it so obviously would not work!

        And as I’m sure you noticed, Dave, those “gutters” outside Kohler are gone now. Again, not a brilliant design.

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  • Mark July 19, 2012 at 10:21 am

    A ramp would of been way too expensive to build. Honestly Im on the bridge at least twice everyday and see lots of bikes using it with no problems. The fact is the majority of the people who use the bridge the current design works fine for them.

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  • Champs July 19, 2012 at 10:27 am

    To be fair, wheel gutters are only for upstairs traffic, and the simple concrete ramp is easier to line up with than narrow, slippery steel.

    If wheel gutters were meant for traffic in both directions, they’d be on both sides.

    If wheel gutters were meant for downstairs traffic, they’d be placed so the greasy drive side faces out.

    In tight spaces, there are only so many options for bike access, and not all of them will be “freeway”. Steep spiral ramps like N. Going, and awkward two-way switchbacks (especially where downhill traffic is the inside lane) don’t work that well, anyway.

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    • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

      This is not a “tight space” though. There is only one built property there, the OHSU building with the TRAM. This neighborhood is basically a blank slate since it started out as a naked brown field. I understand if the ramp had to be cut due to costs for now, but there is plenty of OPEN space to the north and west, and that space needs to be at least reserved for future capacity.

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      • maccoinnich July 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        The “open space” to the North is owned by Zidell, who have a proposal to build an apartment there, which is currently going through design review. It wont be open space for long.

        There wasn’t an unlimited amount of money to build this bridge. It was already delayed by years, and went through a redesign. Would it be nice to have ramps? Sure. But given the constraints of topography & money, I just don’t see how it would be realistic.

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      • davemess July 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm

        Are you forgetting about the shipbuilders, or the OHSU childcare facility to the South. And there is really minimal land between I5 and the new bike path. I’m just not getting where you think this ramp should go?

        PS. OHSU has huge plans to develop most of this area (ie. the new construction for a research facility where the new bridge is being built).

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  • Unit July 19, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I don’t think the costs of such a ramp are worth the investment. You are talking millions more including right-of-way. What other bike infrastructure could we build for those millions? Way better than a single ramp, that’s for sure. Take the elevator and suck it up.

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    • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      I am an eastsider who will almost never use this connection unless I am in the mood to do something in SW, which is almost never. It may happen more when the new bridges are build over the Willamette river. I am looking at this as a tax paying tourist. I am just appalled that this high density development which is supposed to be one of the greenest developments created to date in this city could not even plan for a ramped connection between its two major bike routes. The planning for this neighborhood goes back to when I was a graduate student at PSU in Urban planning back in 2000 or so and it was a blank slate. The debate between the height of the buildings and how they would obstruct the view from Lair Hill was one of my favorite “compromises.”

      They debated traffic volumes and auto capacity when it came to street planning. Part of the argument, since auto access to the south waterfront district there is limited, was that there would be excellent bicycle, pedestrian and public transit facilities so the demand for cars would be less that normal for the population density.

      With all the millions that have been spent on high end “eco-friendly” condo high rises they could have spent a token percent on real bike connections. Instead they play around with a few blocks of cycle track and an “extra long” elevator that only fits two.

      Just save the fifteen feet of space to the river so we can finish the bridge when demand requires it and we can afford it.

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    • Justin July 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Agreed. From a cost benefit perspective, It’s not worth it.

      If Portland ever gets to the point where a significant percentage of its citizens are riding cargo bikes, then there will be enough money to build a ramp and accommodate there needs.

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  • Sunny July 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Sheridan is a few blocks north at the end of the lovely new cycletrack. There’s your ramp.

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    • Terry D July 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      And when Sheridan re-opens to traffic if it is turned into a high capacity bike greenway from the waterfront to Lair Hill and the Red Electric trail with limited auto access then I will be happy with that compromise. If it is cheaper than a bike bridge and can be safely done through at grade crossings then I am all for it even if it is not as nice. Kind of a shame, but bikes are usually left out anyway.

      But at least then I can say, “What a lovely Pedestrian Bridge.”

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    • davemess July 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Shreridan is a solid half mile away, not a couple of blocks as people keep mentioning. Granted that’s about how far the suggested ramp would have to go to get a decent grade!

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      • spare_wheel July 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        6 blocks and about a 7-8 minute walk.

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        • Sunny July 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

          .4 miles and about 8 blocks according to google pedestrian map directions

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  • Sunny July 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    I love the view from anywhere on the bride, especially the end near the elevator — just have to convince myself I’m not gobbling volumes of pollution from the bumper to bumper traffic down below.

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  • don arambula July 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Nice Phase I. Phase II should be a ADA compliant bridge/ramp (along Gibbs) that directly links the elevator/bridge tower to the future Willamette Greenway trail.

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  • Hart Noecker July 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I led a ride to the Gibbs bridge Monday night, and having taken the bridge ride hosted by PBOT on Saturday I had tons of facts to share with my riders. We crammed almost ten people and ten bikes into the elevator, easily. Looking forward to sharing this space with other cyclists in the future.

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    • Sunny July 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Care to share some fax?

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      • Hart Noecker July 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

        There are steel rings along the fencing built in for firefighters to secure cables in the event of an evacuation of the tram should it ever be necessary.

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  • dwainedibbly July 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    1. Dave: how do you get on to Terwilliger when you walk? Condor? Or is there another way?
    2. Can someone measure the elevator? I want to compare it to my tandem.
    3. An apartment complex to the north of the elevator?!? That is right on the highway. Going to be terribly noisy!

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    • Sunny July 19, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      1.It appears if you go one block south to whitaker, you can proceed west up a set of stairs/trails.
      2.It’ll fit a tandem no problem since we had 2 bikes front to back.

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  • Kevin Wagoner July 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I love it. I put a few pictures of it on this link.


    The Good:
    *The bridge is awesome.
    *Nice and wide.
    *New addition to one of my commute routes.
    *Awesome new running route.

    The Surprise:
    *I was surprised that there wasn’t a wheel gutter because I thought there was going to be. I was even more surprised to read that there is! Honestly I didn’t even notice it. No worries for me carrying the bike, but that would be an awesome addition.

    The Bad:
    *I felt uncomfortable crossing 43…the cars are flying there and did not stop at the cross walk (well I was on a bike…so I sort of get that part).
    *I took Barber to get there….Barber is terrible.

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  • jim July 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I’m curious as to how it is walking up the stairs holding the handrail with the bike gutter right there? Is this going to be a problem for people that really need the handle to go up the stairs? Seema poorly thought out. Love the rest of the bridge though, should have done this decads ago.

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    • Sunny July 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      Set your bike at 45 degrees and push your handlebars — possibly gives better leverage this way. That’s how I did it.

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  • Bike-Max-Bike July 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    If for any reason I have to get off my bike or leave my lane of travel then the infrastructure is a big, fat failure. I await the day drivers must exist their vehicles to activate traffic control devices.

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    • eli bishop July 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm


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  • pdxmechanic July 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    As a resident of Lair Hill I’ve used the bridge several times. The SW Gibbs crossing is a deathtrap. Drivers coming off of 26 over and over again fail to yield to bikes and pedestrians crossing in the GIANT cross walk. I’ve personally had two close calls in the first week. Two stop signs would save lives. I know someone will lose theirs some morning as a driver comes screaming around the corner and ignores the cross walk.

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    • eli bishop July 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      yes, i honestly don’t understand why they stopped at kelly. a crosswalk there is just wishful thinking. everyone heading to/from the ross island bridge is speeding around that curve and not even thinking there are going to be people crossing.

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  • Ted Buehler July 20, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Jonathan — you’re correct that the “stair ramp rail” is inadequate.

    If you look in the 2011 Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, they mention the correct treatment for “Bike Stair Channels.”

    Page 1-28:
    “Bike Stair Channel”
    “A bike stair channel assists bicyclists using stairs by providing a space in which to insert the bicycle wheels so that a bicycle may be rolled up or down a staircase.”
    [image of a V-shaped metal rail bolted to the side of a stairway]

    Page 7-17
    “Where a connection is needed to a destination or another path at a different elevation, a stairway can be used where the terrain is too steep for a path. A grooved trough should be provided so bicyclists can easily push their bicycles up or down.”
    [image of V-shaped metal rail, painted orange, bolted to a stairway.]

    See the document at ftp://ftp.odot.state.or.us/techserv/roadway/web_drawings/HDM/Appendix_N_BikePedDesignGuide_Web.pdf

    Both of these indicate that there should be a groove or a railing on the bike wheel track — the first one states that a bike wheel should be able to be inserted into it, the second specifies a grooved trough.

    It looks like the Gibbs Bridge may also have the rolling surface too close to the railing to be effective. There’s no dimensions specified in the ODOT document, but your photos make a strong case that this should be looked at too.

    To get this fixed, someone can send an email to safe@portlandoregon.gov explaining the problem and including these references, and PBOT will bolt a wheel slot on there pretty quickly.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Alan 1.0 July 20, 2012 at 10:56 am

      Ted Buehler
      “Bike Stair Channel”
      “A bike stair channel assists bicyclists using stairs by providing a space in which to insert the bicycle wheels so that a bicycle may be rolled up or down a staircase.”
      [image of a V-shaped metal rail bolted to the side of a stairway]
      See the document at ftp://ftp.odot.state.or.us/techserv/roadway/web_drawings/HDM/Appendix_N_BikePedDesignGuide_Web.pdf

      Minor quibble but I’ve found that bikes track better with half-circle wheel gutters than V- or square-section. Something about the single point-of-contact for the tire and/or not contacting the side of the tire doesn’t seem to climb out of the groove as much. YMMV Oh, also wide enough for fat tires.

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      • Ted Buehler July 20, 2012 at 9:46 pm

        Alan — excellent observation. You ought to send it to Roger Geller, Portland’s Bicycle Coordinator, and Sheila Lyons, Oregon Bike/Ped person. Both the ODOT and Portland Bike Plans specifically request that facility users give them input about the designs.

        Sheila’s contact info is here. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/Pages/contact_us.aspx

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      • Ted Buehler July 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

        Alan — can you share any examples of the round-bottomed stair ramp design?

        Thanks, Ted

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        • Alan 1.0 July 22, 2012 at 9:14 am

          I’ll have to dig through some old pics. I think it was Groeningen where I saw them.

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          • Ted Buehler September 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm

            Any luck?

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            • Alan 1.0 September 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm

              Sorry, no, but I see Jonathan found a half-round wheeltrack in Germany and added it to today’s post on the Gibbs Bridge.

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        • Alan 1.0 June 23, 2014 at 2:51 am

          OK, so it took a bit longer than I intended but here you go, fresh pics from yesterday:


          Three examples of bike wheel ramps from Groningen, two round-bottomed wheel troughs and one simple ramp of paver bricks. They all work just fine and are widely used.

          Also a pic of free, covered and supervised bike parking for several thousand bikes at their new train station.

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  • John Landolfe July 20, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Between this new bridge, the cycle track, Go By Bike, streetcar, tram, and perhaps next year’s bikeshare, for a transportation nerd this is turning into one of the most interesting intersections in the country. Can we get a station for jet packs?

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    • Ted Buehler July 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      John — aren’t bicycles “the new jetpack?”

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  • jim July 20, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Does the wheel gutter sit far enough back under the handrail so people without bikes that just want to hold the handrail are not going to be stepping on the gutter?

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    • Dave July 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

      The wheel gutter, which is not a gutter, sits far enough under the rail that you can’t use it as a wheel gutter with most bikes.

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  • Nicki July 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I never ride in that part of town but would love to check it out. However, I have not yet found an on line map showing how to get to the bridge and good biking streets in that area. Does anyone know of one?

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  • Doug Klotz July 20, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I read somewhere that the reason the stair gutter is not out farther from the rail, is that it has to be under the rail. This is because stair users (walkers) must be able to reach the railing from the stair, and the railing must be directly over the stair (or some spec like that). So, it’s a building code and perhaps ADA thing. And there probably needs to be a reachable railing on either side of the stair. Don’t know a good solution, unless a special area of the stairs set aside just for bicyclists, beyond the regular handrail on that side, putting cyclists in a railed-off narrow stair corridor.

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    • Sunny July 20, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      Yeah, well I heard the zoobombers were gonna take over.

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    • jim July 23, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      Finally some one was able to answer my question. Thanks Doug

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  • bicycle rider July 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Fantastic bridge. Although I wonder how the elevator will hold up over time from use and abuse.

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  • Spiffy September 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    The elevator broke on August 24. They expect it to be fixed this week after being unavailable for 2 weeks. This bridge won’t be used on a regular basis by vulnerable users due to the elevator not being reliable.

    via OregonLive: “The only way up or down for pedestrians and cyclists when it isn’t working is via 132 stairs. Wheelchair users must use alternative routes.”

    The additional cost of a spiral or switchback ramp system is looking pretty good now.

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  • Duncan September 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

    I don’t even have a shoulder on my street. Suck up the lack of ramp.

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    • Spiffy September 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      I’ve seen plenty of disabled users in the Holgate bike lanes so I know that a street without shoulders is still usable my all/most users… but a bridge with no exit on one side is completely useless to them…

      but I’ll be sure to pass on your advice, if I ever use the bridge…

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  • Duncan September 6, 2012 at 7:15 am

    no spiffy I do not mean no shoulder like holgate- I mean no shoulder like car lane, white line, dirt and trees. Add in speeding motorists driving past the site lines and you have an idea what I am talking about. 12 Million dollars could have built 60 miles of shoulder at 200K/mile. I am glad there is a bridge there- it was sorely needed over the freeway but whining because it doesn’t work for your bike or have a mile long ramp is pretty much lost on me when I am dodging cars because there is zero bike facilities in my hood.

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