Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bike traffic will get a real lane for remainder of Broadway Bridge project

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Broadway Bridge detour observations-1

Portland Streetcar will direct bicycle
traffic onto a vehicle lane on the bridge roadway,
instead of the sidewalk.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last week I wondered out loud if we could do better when it came to the disrespectful and dangerous detour for bicycle traffic on the Broadway Bridge. Well, it turns out we can and we just did.

Portland Streetcar Inc., whose project to repair the non-slip coating on the bridge sidewalks is what has caused the detour that began on September 24th, just announced that when they move the project to the south sidewalk this Thursday (10/2), they will convert the eastbound vehicle lane on the bridge into a bike lane.

According to their construction advisory, the work on the south sidewalk will take three days. Here’s more from their statement (their caps, not mine):


I had to confirm that my eyes did not deceive me, so I emailed Julie Gustafson with Shiels Obletz Johnsen (the company managing the project). Sure enough, it’s true! Gustafson said it wasn’t possible to direct bicycle traffic up onto the bridge on the north side “due to the serious right hook issue at Lovejoy,” but they were “able to pencil it out for the south sidewalk closure.”

This is great to see. The current (and past) bicycle detour when the sidewalks close is unacceptable. People riding bicycles deserve to be routed in the most direct and safe way possible, and herding them onto sidewalks with two-way bicycling and walking traffic was not befitting of America’s most bicycle-friendly city. Thanks Portland Streetcar Inc. for listening to the community and doing the right thing.

UPDATE: For more on how this came about, read the BTA’s blog.

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

  • John Lascurettes October 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Very interesting. I’ve been taking the lane going westbound for a week and it’s been fine.

    I’m unclear, is it one bike “lane” and an auto lane? Or is it a shared lane and an auto lane? Or is it a single shared lane?

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    • John Lascurettes October 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      Okay, re-read more carefully. The “non-track” lane (meaning the right one) will be a bike lane (presumably dedicated). The other lane will be streetcar and auto. I predict: very irate drivers as they see cyclists stream by them in the other lane. Still, nicely done BTA. Seems the safest solution all around.

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  • daisy October 2, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    This is great news! Unfortunately, I have seen problems with the current configuration. Cyclists going west, towards downtown, are not directed anywhere in particular, so some go on the sidewalk and others go backwards up the ramp. The other day,I was part of a group where a few of us went on the sidewalk and a few went on the street towards the ramp. Predictably, there were cyclists coming toward us who then had nowhere to go.

    Nothing bad happened, but I can’t imagine any vehicle detour situation which didn’t actually tell cars where to go.

    Thanks for writing about this, Jonathan. I’m sure your advocacy made a difference.

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  • Alexis October 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    YES! This is awesome.
    I gotta say though, I don’t really think it is an issue on the other side either. If bikes are in the lane and not on the sidewalk, they can obey the regular signal. What is complicated about that?

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  • Todd Boulanger October 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks BTA for working hard on correcting this work zone safety issue. [I just renewed my annual membership too.]

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  • Joseph E October 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Wow! Now that’s the right way to do it.

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  • Dan October 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Hey, here’s an idea: Let’s keep the configuration when the work is finished…

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  • Todd Boulanger October 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Dan…that may be its [platinum] future…as the bike traffic on this bridge is very high and that the current motorized traffic may be accommodated with a single traffic lane in each direction…with some intersection changes. Talk to your Multnomah County representative.

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    • Ted Buehler October 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm

      *Diamond* future

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      • q`Tzal October 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm

        Soon to be surpassed by Unobtainium, Adamantium or gold pressed Latium rating.

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    • Andyc of Linnton October 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Yes and yes! That is awesome. It would be nice to eventually not have to ride on a sidewalk over this bridge. Great detour for now though!

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  • jim October 2, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    does this means more bollards to drive over?

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  • jim October 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Does this mean that the trolley will be shut down on the bridge? What about trolley service on mlk?

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    • Chris I October 3, 2012 at 9:57 am

      The streetcar runs in the center lanes, so it will still be operational, albeit much slower, as it will be stuck behind a bunch of cars.

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  • Andrew October 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Alright! Drivers: expect long delays. Cyclists like me who take this everyday to work: fly on through.

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  • commuter October 3, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Thanks BTA!

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  • Bicycle Curtis October 3, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for the update, I travel this route twice daily for my work commute.

    One thing I’d like to ask everyone. While the repair is being done, please respect the work and why it’s being done. The North side of the bridge had the barricades on both ends moved and knocked down several times because someone (pedestrian or cyclist) didn’t want to make the detour.

    The coating needs time to cure before being ridden or walked on. By walking and riding before the coating is properly cured, it requires additional expense and time to complete the project.

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  • LDA October 3, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Great! I always thought the most dangerous situation was when they south sidewalk was closed and east-bound bicyclists were routed over the north sidewalk. This will help A LOT!

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  • Ben Guernsey October 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    The broadway was such a headache I started taking the lane on the Steel this week. Cant wait to take the lane on the Broadway soon.

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  • Joe October 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I would love a sign thats share the lane 🙂 for those that have a hard time sharing the road.

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  • Steve B. October 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Folks, if you’re happy to see this change–and want to see more quality bike detours like this–please send a quick note of thanks to Mayor Adams & Tom Miller:

    Sam@portlandoregon.gov || tom.miller@portlandoregon.gov

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  • Joel October 4, 2012 at 6:46 am

    Good. Been taking the lane (southbound) during the 6AM morning commute with no incidence until this morning when some joker felt the need to point out there was a detour by screaming this out his passanger-side window. Did the fact his car had Washington plates contribute to his helpfulness? In any case, I’m much more nervous about the evening (northbound) trip on the sidewalk with the southbound bikes flying by on the inside downhill. Have images of a ill-timed gust of wind and freak collision sending me for a swim. Two-way bike traffic with those speeds on that narrow of a sidewalk is ridiculous.

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