Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

A lane of respect on the Broadway Bridge

Posted by on October 5th, 2012 at 8:57 am

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A temporary detour is giving people on bikes their own lane on the Broadway Bridge.

“Felt like a first-class citizen for the first time in my life crossing the Willamette River.”

That’s what Ted Buehler, a devoted neighborhood and transportation activist wrote about the new detour over the Broadway Bridge. I second his emotion.

For the first time, instead of being herded up onto a sidewalk shared with people walking (like on the Hawthorne), or being scuttled into the shoulder of an urban highway (on Burnside), the City of Portland decided to give bike traffic its own, dedicated lane. It’s a vast improvement from the dangerous and disrespectful detour that has been used in the past.

When I rode over it yesterday, I felt a huge sense of calm and relief. It felt so civilized. Instead of riding on a sidewalk — where I’m always having to negotiate past people walking and running and getting passed by people biking — I could pedal calmly on the road, right where bicycles belong.

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Buehler said the detour signage isn’t clear, and that many people headed eastbound are still using the north sidewalk. Let it be known that, regardless of the signage, you are allowed to ride on the bridge. And i hope everyone takes the opportunity to do so.

When you do, please let yourself imagine that this doesn’t have to be temporary. This is the future of our city. It’s a glimpse into what’s possible when we allocate roadway space in an equitable and sensible way — instead of a way that’s saddled with transportational bias and a lack of political will.

Unfortunately, this temporary detour is set to expire over the weekend. I didn’t get a chance to ride it during the evening rush hour yesterday; but I will today. Stay tuned for more (and better) photos.

Have you ridden it yet?

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

  • peejay October 5, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Last night, after First Thursday, I rode the detour, and met up with a friend en route. The generous lane allowed us to ride side by side and have a pleasant conversation. I could get used to this!

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    • John Lascurettes October 5, 2012 at 9:32 am

      As long as you let those who gave you an audible get by. Thanks in advance. 🙂

      I rode it yesterday and it was pleasant enough. There were car drivers that could not figure out the merge across the bike lane to get to the turn lane and I saw at least one WA plate attempt to bully her way through a line of cyclists instead of waiting for a clearing (same as she would with the normal configuration).

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      • Kristen October 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

        Maybe to her bullying through is the normal way she does things, regardless of who is currently occupying the space she wants to go through/into.

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  • Josh Berezin October 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Most east-bound bike traffic this morning was on the north sidewalk, going the wrong way. I haven’t ridden east yet, but I would guess there is not clear enough signage to indicate to people on bikes that they should take this unusual detour.

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    • John Lascurettes October 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

      I noticed that too, including one salmon coming up the bike lane the wrong direction after the bridge. I don’t know how much clearer the detour could be (at least coming from broadway, I don’t know what it looks like coming form Lovejoy).

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    • j.rob October 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Saw lots of this too last night, including one guy who bailed trying to come across the tracks at the top of the Lovejoy ramp (unnecessarily). 🙁

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  • RH October 5, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I rode it yesterday at rush hour. Yes, it felt great! Very equitable and I didn’t have to worry about falling over the railing of the bridge like I do when use the sidewalk! (I have a kinda tall bike)

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  • Fred Lifton October 5, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Rode it coming back from work yesterday. It felt great. And, at 5:10, car traffic seemed to be flowing fine, maybe even better than usual, which is odd.

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  • lda October 5, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Rode it yesterday. I thought the signage was fine coming up from Broadway. Having the lane was great! Thanks.

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  • Andrew K October 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

    This is really cool. I rarely ride the Broadway Bridge so I probably won’t get to experience this. I hope a few people spend a moment to document (i.e. take some pictures!) how this affects traffic, particularly during rush hour. My guess is very little, if any at all.

    Having evidence of a working example will strengthen any future arguments for permanant infrastructure change.

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    • chucklehead October 5, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Just because it works for you does not mean it does not impact others.

      As a person who designs processes, a single process may work efficiently within itself, but not so efficiently when as part of a larger system.

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  • Sunny October 5, 2012 at 11:24 am

    It feels weird without the naked people.

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  • WillB October 5, 2012 at 11:31 am

    They’re all still there. Just naked underneath their clothes.

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  • Reza October 5, 2012 at 11:32 am

    On a rare evening ride headed eastbound, I got to experience the bike lane just after rush hour. It was great! Plenty of room, I was able to pass slower cyclists with a warning bell, and no pedestrians or photographers to deal with.

    I’m sure the eastbound drivers backed up on the Lovejoy ramp (where two lanes merged to one before the light at Broadway) didn’t like it too much though. 🙂

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  • Schrauf October 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Traffic was so bad getting out of the Pearl last night at 6:30 pm it was almost uncomfortable having so much space for bikes only. Sharrows (or temporary signage saying the same, such as BIKES ALLOWED FULL USE OF LANE) would work well here and still allow cars to use two lanes in the gaps between bikes.

    But this is better than the unsafe previous detour, especially given the amount of bike traffic.

    Traffic was especially bad due to First Thursday.

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    • A.K. October 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      You think with that fancy streetcar they spent all the money on (Go by STREETCAR!) you wouldn’t see so many people driving down there…

      Oh wait, that’s right. It’s a development tool, not a transportation mode. Forgot!

      (Sorry, not responding to you specifically but the idea that people clog up the pearl with all the access it has via other modes is frustrating. No remorse for folks stuck in their car in a queue…)

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      • Indy October 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm

        Don’t forget how the streetcar placed throughout Portland is projected to sell more mountain bikes in Portland as an economic stimulus.

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    • Reza October 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Have you seen the speed differential between cars and bikes on the bridge? I took the right lane on the bridge going westbound on Sunday afternoon because I didn’t want to detour onto the south sidewalk, but I suspect few people are willing to do the same. Tailgating drivers makes the experience uncomfortable, to say the least.

      Jonathan has the perfect word for the makeshift bike lane: “Civilized”.

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  • Ted Buehler October 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for the plug for using the bridge, Jonathan, and I’m glad you liked my quote.

    Folks, if you like this, send off a quick email of appreciation to Sam and Tom. Give them a little love — they really gave us a first-class facility for once.

    But, the detour signs are really poor. And they’ve been consistently poor for the last 2 years. If you haven’t been satisfied with the quality of the bike detour directional signage, drop an email to Rob Burchfield, and ask him to have major bike detours reviewed by someone in the bicycle program before they get their final signature.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler October 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I stood on the corner of Broadway and Lovejoy last night from 5:30 – 7:00. And I directed bicyclists to use the lane. Dozens of bicyclists came up both Broadway and Lovejoy and prepared to use the crosswalks to go over the north sidewalk. And when I first rode west at 5:20 there was a regular peleton of about 15 bicyclists going east on the north sidewalk.

    If any of ya’all have some time, stop there today and wave all the bicyclists onto the bridge. I got a ton of “thank yous” from folks that found out they didn’t need to ride on the sidewalk.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Erinne October 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve been taking the lane since they started the assinine detour on the south side of the bridge. It was pretty great even without a bunch of orange cones.

    I still don’t like the way they designed the entrance. We are supposed to ride up on the sidewalk, then take a quick left down the ramp into the lane–really? Why not just sign bikes in the lane starting at Hoyt?

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    • are October 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      you have always been permitted to take the lane on broadway coming up from hoyt

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  • PorterStout October 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Yes! Last night at rush hour. It was great but would have been even greater if they’d dialed the headwind down about 40 mph. 🙂 I was still moving faster than the traffic, though.

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    • John Lascurettes October 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Ha. The wind has been pretty bad this week and will continue this pattern until next weekend sometime from what I’ve seen in reports. Just part of that time of year. It blows (NPI).

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      • A.K. October 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        I love it! But I have a reverse commute, from Brooklyn to out past the airport.

        So in the evening I can just get on the Marine Drive path and fly!

        I demand more wind! 😉

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  • Zaphod October 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Sent this along to Sam@portlandoregon.gov

    I wish to send a small note of gratitude for taking the political risk in closing a motorist lane so that cyclists can travel safely and efficiently East on the bridge. It was quite a lovely experience. I hope the day comes when we might consider this a permanent solution. There are many success stories and important discoveries on what works/doesn’t in transportation that can be found here:


    Excerpting his bio information here for convenience:
    Gordon Price, 61, is the Director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University. (www.sfu.ca/city).
    In 2002, he finished his sixth term as a City Councillor in Vancouver, BC. He also served on the Board of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (Metro Vancouver) and was appointed to the first board of the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (TransLink) in 1999.
    He has spoken at numerous conventions and conferences in many countries, writes a monthly column for Business in Vancouver on civic issues, and conducts tours and seminars on the development of Vancouver. He also publishes an electronic magazine on urban issues, with a focus on Vancouver, called “Price Tags,” (recent issues at http://www.pricetags.ca), as well as this blog.
    In additions to presentations in the U.S. and Australia, Gordon is a regular lecturer on transportation and land use for the City of Portland, Oregon and Portland State University. He has written several extensive essays on Vancouver and transportation issues (The Deceptive City, Local Politician’s Guide to Urban Transportation – http://www.vtpi.org/localpol.htm ) . In 2003, he received the Plan Canada Award for Article of the Year – ”Land Use and Transportation: The View from ’56“ – from the Canadian Institute of Planners – http://www.pricetags.ca/writings.


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  • dwainedibbly October 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    And they didn’t put us in the lane with the streetcar tracks!

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  • John Lascurettes October 6, 2012 at 1:09 am

    What the heck? Why was the North sidewalk closed for a week and half or so and the South sidewalk only closed for a day and half? What was up with that?

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  • Jay October 7, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I’ve never had a problem on the sidewalk so perhaps that’s why the lane didn’t feel all that special. In fact, I like the bridge sidewalk and am thankful we even have that. I ride it at rush hour often and rarely encounter too many people on foot..on the topic of infrastructure im cool with: the burnside bike lane I fine with me as well. That bridge has a TON of foot traffic and being slung to the sidewalk wouldn’t work. The bike lane seems to do the trick.

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  • borgbike October 8, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I just want to thank the kind citizen who directed me to this open lane. Friday evening, someone got off their bike on the Lovejoy/Broadway intersection and was helping direct people to this open lane. If he hadn’t been there I would have been “salmoning” upstream on the North side of the bridge.

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  • Morgen October 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Isn’t it great when you have a lane all your own? And you don’t have to share the road with commuters who not only travel considerably slower than you but are also frailer with less protective gear… Maybe if all of us email the government they will insure that the larger, faster, more protected commuters will have exclusive use of the public right away.

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