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It’s time: Bridge Pedal will open Tilikum Crossing Sunday, followed by ‘The People’s Preview’

Posted by on August 3rd, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People

Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People.
(Photo: TriMet)

If you, like us, have spent the last five years dreaming of the day you’ll be pedaling across Portland’s lovely new car-free bridge, this weekend is your first chance.

The Tilikum Crossing will temporarily open to bike traffic this Sunday, Aug. 9, for two events: first, the Providence Bridge Pedal, the paid ride that loops across Portland’s Willamette River bridges; and second, a three-hour open window that TriMet is calling “The People’s Preview.”

Bridge Pedal’s four main routes cost $30 to $60 per person, depending on length, with discounts for youths and seniors. All Bridge Pedal routes close at 12:30 p.m. The People’s Preview of Tilikum, from 1:30 to 4:30, will be free.

Advertise with BikePortland.

Bridge Pedal bike routes across Tilikum will all begin at the east landing, just south of OMSI, and loop immediately on the west side to return people to the east landing, from which they’ll continue south.

bridge pedal route

A detail from the shortest Bridge Pedal route. All Bridge Pedal routes include the same back-and-forth across Tilikum Crossing.

Because the sidewalk of the Tilikum is just 14 feet wide with no physical separation between people walking and biking, Bridge Pedal organizers will be attempting to keep people from taking photos during their first trips. Whether or not they’ll be successful in this, it’s probably safe to say that Bridge Pedal will offer a smoother ride than during the People’s Preview, so plan accordingly — and maybe savor the pressure to keep your cell phone stowed on your first trip across and back.

My first walk across Tilikum Bridge-12

It is the future you see.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The bridge has been open to occasional official tours for a few months now — Jonathan and I walked across it in March — but TriMet has been steadfast in those being walking tours. Now that the bike infrastructure on the bridge is installed, the first rolls are just about ready to begin.

Obviously the bridge itself will be a major boon to biking connectivity between the South Waterfront, Lair Hill, the Brooklyn neighborhood and the inner Division area. The new bike infrastructure surrounding the bridge on both sides definitely has problems (we’ve got a post in the works about the ups and downs) but in general it’s an improvement that seems certain to increase the number of bike trips through the area.

It will this Sunday, at least — we can pretty much guarantee that. See you there.

Correction 8/8: An earlier version of this post incorrectly suggested that the Bridge Pedal doubled as a BTA fundraiser. It once did but no longer does.

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  • Esther August 3, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Also worth noting that Trimet’s Committee on Accessible Transportation is opening a preview targeted to seniors and people with disabilities from 12-1:30pm and it is specifically NOT open to bikers. (So if people biking see it open during that time they should NOT cross it.)


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  • Adam H. August 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Can’t wait to ride over this bridge!

    Why wasn’t there physical separation installed between people riding bikes and people walking? Seems like flexible plastic bollards wouldn’t add too much weight to the bridge.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Maintenance costs and “costs” of adding 1 more foot in width (my assumption).

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    • ethan August 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      It would narrow the lanes and it would make it difficult to ride over to the “bulbouts.” Personally, I’m probably going to stop at one of those each time I go across. I’m glad it’s not blocked.

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    • Brian August 3, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Maybe aesthetics? I’m confident we can all manage ourselves.

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      • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 9:26 am

        I got super-lucky and was invited to take a preview Orange Line ride last Wednesday evening. Though we were kept aboard the train, we did make a stop mid-Tilikum to enjoy the lookout, and one thing that really leaps out about the design is the lightness of it, the transparent quality. The thin pylons and horizontal steel cables of the guard rails pose almost zero obstruction of the view.

        I expect the effect will be different on foot or by bike, where you can look up and see the massive diagonal suspension cables, but at least from inside the train, it’s almost as if the bridge isn’t even there. It’s a wonderful design.

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      • Adam H. August 4, 2015 at 9:44 am

        Fair enough. The paths are certainly wide enough (unlike the Hawthorne Bridge) for people to pass each other.

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        • J_R August 4, 2015 at 1:44 pm

          People pass me on the Hawthorne Bridge regularly. Exaggerating a bit are we?

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    • lop August 3, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      Could two wheelchairs pass each other on the narrow pedestrian half you’re proposing? How do you think fast cyclists will react to having to ride single file behind a slow cyclist for a bit?

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      • Chad August 3, 2015 at 8:36 pm

        Probably the same way drivers react to having to drive behind a cyclist for a bit.

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        • J_R August 3, 2015 at 10:10 pm

          Path Rage.

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      • KristenT August 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

        The fast cyclists would react the same way they already do when they have to follow a slower rider for however long– with a fast, close pass the moment it appears there may be a small gap that’s juuuuuuust big enough to squeek by.

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        • Daniel August 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

          Don’t forget the yelling and bell ringing, encouraging a slow biker to ride into pedestrians, allowing the bike racers to hit their splits.

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          • Aaron August 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm

            Haha yeah don’t you hate _those_ cyclists, they’re not like _us_ cyclists!

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  • Peter W August 3, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    It’d be really cool if they kept the Tilikum closed to cars after this special event.

    Oh, right… they will. 😉

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  • John Lascurettes August 3, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    So, will there be an official count kept of the Bridge Pedal riders that go down catching their handlebars on those railing uprights? Yikes!

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    • q`Tzal August 3, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      Ha! I predict that if they don’t aggressively block the LRT lanes before and during the Bridge Pedal that several people will get their bikes stuck in the rails.
      With a few thousand people walking through and over open rail tracks you should reasonably expect a dozen or so twisted ankle type injuries.

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      • John Lascurettes August 3, 2015 at 5:25 pm

        I’m guessing the rail section won’t be open, especially since they seem to be doubling people back over the bridge on the ride. So it will be one MUP one direction and the other MUP the other direction (which is probably why they’ll be trying to keep people from stopping – not enough width).

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    • wsbob August 3, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      I’m wondering how many problems there may be with people choosing to ride too fast, particularly on the downgrade. Chances are that if some of the people riding think people walking are far enough away from them, they’ll go fast. Will there be a posted speed limit for bike travel on the bridge? I’m hoping all goes well, but I can see the temptation for speed exists on this bridge.

      In general, a sensational bridge design and the debut of a great new chapter in riding a bike in Portland.

      Wonderful to realize the opportunity is nearly here, of being able to ride from the east side, west on this bridge across the Willamette, then south for just a short bit along the road before catching the tram and rising up the hill, nearly the entire distance in the heart of the city, distant from motor vehicle traffic.

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      • Adam H. August 4, 2015 at 9:45 am

        Posted speed limit? How am I supposed to know how fast I am riding my bike? It’s not like it comes with a speedometer.

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        • wsbob August 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

          hey Adam…good question, not that difficult to estimate your speed on the bike without a speedometer, relative to that of people walking. About 3.5 mph is average for people walking. I’m going to say I think about 10-12 mph may be about as fast as people biking in the bike lane should consider going if they’re passing people that are walking nearby in the lane for walking.

          That’s basically in the area of three times faster than people on average walk. Not too slow to make it difficult to ride and balance the bike…not so fast that it puts people walking in the position of feeling they’re having high speed traffic ‘whoosh’ by them. Compatibility of speed difference traveled between walking and biking may be more a quality of user experience, than a safety issue.

          I’d be surprised though, if there aren’t people excited to zip across the bridge on their bikes at high speeds…which should be generally o.k. if they don’t oblige people walking to endure that.

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          • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:03 am

            Maybe 12mph is as fast as traffic should travel next to a curb-tight sidewalk? Of course, then we would have to sign it 2mph.

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        • Dan August 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

          You know you can get a computer for ~$20. But maybe you’d like the city to provide one for you?

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      • Elliot August 4, 2015 at 10:38 am

        The grades on the Fremont and Marquam bridges appear to be much steeper, and the Bridge Pedal has crossed those bridges for years. The grade on the Tilikum doesn’t seem like much of a concern.

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    • Clark in Vancouver August 4, 2015 at 10:42 am

      How reckless do you think people are?

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  • borgbike August 3, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Behold! The Lisa Simpson People’s Bridge.

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  • Eric Iverson August 3, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Be careful of this #METAL #DEATHBRIDGE http://imgur.com/0vwaEUk

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    • Brian August 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      If we can manage on the Hawthorne without anyone taking a swim I think we’ll be ok here.

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      • soren August 4, 2015 at 6:18 am

        The Hawthorne bridge does not have sharpened spike posts. These things are perfectly positioned to impale someone in the event of a collision and there will be collisions on this bridge at some point.

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        • tim August 4, 2015 at 8:16 am

          You should stay home and not risk your life riding across the bridge.

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          • soren August 4, 2015 at 12:17 pm

            i enjoy riding in, around, and through motor vehicles. should i use your logic and suggest that anyone who feels more comfortable riding in a bike lane or on a greenway should stay home?

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            • jeff August 4, 2015 at 3:22 pm

              you do seem terribly worried about it all. but I guess what else does the church of Maus have to bitch about today?

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        • Chris I August 4, 2015 at 8:23 am

          While I don’t really have a problem with the barrier, it does seem ridiculous that they opted for the spiked post design. Form over function is one thing, but when it creates a public health hazard, that is upsetting.

          If its any consolation, after the first incident and lawsuit, they should be able to grind them down with portable grinders.

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        • Brian August 4, 2015 at 8:28 am

          Sharpened spike posts, like from Braveheart? I have to believe that peoples’ sense of self-preservation will win out and all will be well.

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          • soren August 4, 2015 at 11:55 am

            people with a good sense of “self preservation” get hit by inattentive people too.

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            • Brian August 4, 2015 at 1:17 pm

              We aren’t talking about getting hit here, we’re talking about a stationary post.

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        • Adam H. August 4, 2015 at 9:47 am

          I’ll take metal posts over speeding car drivers any day.

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    • J_R August 3, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Think of it as traffic calming or a path diet for bikes.

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    • Dave Thomson August 3, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      It was bound to happen – no infrastructure is safe enough for Bike Portland commenters. The end of bicycling in Portland

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      • joebobpdx August 3, 2015 at 9:49 pm

        Yes – it shall be known henceforth as the Glass Half Empty (And Smudged!) Blog. I’m convinced I think the only safe thing is to pretty much stay home from here on out.

        It’s really quite amazing that anyone is able to build anything anywhere.

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        • joebobpdx August 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm

          An amendment/amends called for here. The blog’s keepers do a good job of context/perspective, etc. on this issue. So thank you Blog Keepers.

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      • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 9:33 am

        Have we reached peak whine yet?

        I know there are problems. I know we’ve had huge setbacks. I agree with everyone here who’s disappointed in the so-called “leadership” at City Hall the past few years. But I ride my bike everywhere, every day, and I enjoy it, and even a not-wide-enough painted stripe of a bike lane is better than nothing, and darn it, the Tilikum is the envy of other cities, and I’m deciding to be happy about it.

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        • soren August 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm

          “the Tilikum is the envy of other cities, and I’m deciding to be happy about it.”

          a shared mup is the envy of other cities? i don’t think vancouver BC is particularly envious of this facility.

          “Have we reached peak whine yet?”

          many voiced the same kind of sentiment when i and others complained about the blind corner and dangerous criss-cross on sw moody. now, a few years later moody is being ripped apart and fixed at significant expense.

          we can do better. we should do better.

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          • jeff August 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

            so, no, it appears we haven’t reached peak yet.

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          • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 4:59 pm

            A whole bridge devoted to transit, bikes and peds with no cars allowed? Yes.

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            • soren August 6, 2015 at 8:56 am

              the shared mup is not much of an improvement over the one installed on the hawthorne bridge 16 years ago.

              we can do better.

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    • Captain Karma August 4, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      There will be a retrofit -after- the first disfigurement and lawsuit.

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      • Dan August 4, 2015 at 3:24 pm

        They will first need to do a study, hire some consultants, go on a junket, and then come up with a plan.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu August 5, 2015 at 9:04 am

        Would be easy enough to grind the sharp corners off each post top, if cyclists make a habit of crashing into the railing and flipping themselves onto the posts. A feat that I’ve never seen happen, in several years of riding over Portland’s various bridges. I think it is only a theoretical problem.

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        • q`Tzal August 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm

          A simple portable 3 lb sledgehammer will do the trick too.

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  • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I haven’t decided whether I want to brave the crowds for the open ride, so I’m really looking forward to pictures. I hope (hope-hope) BikePortland will have one of your fantastic picture posts of the event!

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    • Adam H. August 4, 2015 at 9:50 am

      The question is, can you wait another month to ride over the bridge? I ride by this bridge every day and I’ve been counting down the days until I can finally ride over it. Not sure if I’d want to wait another month.

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      • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 5:03 pm

        Well, it would be a relatively long round trip, and the bridge doesn’t take me anywhere that I can foresee needing to go, so waiting for cooler days in September and October is a reasonable choice for me.

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  • Brian August 4, 2015 at 10:00 am

    My wife has been unwilling to commute by bike from basically Burnside/Cesar Chavez to Oregon Episcopal School in Southwest PDX (6300 SW Nicol Rd, Portland, OR 97223). I wonder if this bridge has the potential to be a game-changer for her? Any suggestions on the easiest way there with the least amount of traffic interaction from the bridge to OES?

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    • Charlie August 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      I doubt it would be a game changer as the only thing it does is get her closer to the OHSU tram, which is already close to the Hawthorne Bridge.

      As for getting to OES. I guess, take the tram to OHSU then ride down to Terwilliger (going up and over via Fairmont would be a steep commute), make your way south then take a right at Capitol Hwy. Follow that west through Hillsdale continuing west on Vermont. You can get to OES by doing straight when Vermont dead ends at Oleson. To avoid traffic (and a narrow road), take a right on SW 45th, go north a couple blocks taking a left on SW Illinois and follow that to Shattuck. Left there, back down to Vermont. Continue straight through that light, go behind the apartments and middle school. The middle school field at the end of the road has a path on the north side that ends right by the OES fields (going through the fence).

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      • Brian August 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm

        Thanks, Charlie!

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        • Eric Leifsdad August 4, 2015 at 11:55 pm

          Vermont needs a diverter at 45th. And 30th. And 15th maybe? The downhill after 30th can be stressful to take a lane, but take the whole lane. Too bad they couldn’t find enough paint for both sides of the street here.

          Maybe Westwood rather than capitol on that uphill stretch into Hillsdale.

          La View up to Corbett is OK, then you’re a short bit of Barbur and Terwilliger from Chestnut/Vermont. You can ride the river path up to OPB or just take the lots and side streets from Moody.

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        • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:00 am

          Maybe ask about crossing Alpenrose’s property instead of riding on Shattuck?

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  • Clark in Vancouver August 4, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I have a real camera (not a phone) with a wrist strap. I’m totally capable of taking pictures and riding at the same time without problems.

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  • Psyfalcon August 4, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Come on Trimet. Keep it open til dark.

    This is going to be crowded, and 4:30 is going to be hard to make for me….

    I promise we won’t need handholders all night.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson August 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve been across the new bridge twice on MAX and Streetcar preview rides. Very handsome structure. Looking forward to a bike ride at some point. My constant thought as I looked to the north…when will we remove the Marquam Bridge and the Eastbank Freeway?!!

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    • Anne Hawley August 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Oh, man, me too! That thing is ugly on so many levels. Well, literally two levels. But it’s incredibly ugly.

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  • Chris I August 4, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    So explain again why they can’t just open the bridge to cyclists and pedestrians for good, starting Sunday? It looks like it’s been done for weeks now.

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  • soren August 5, 2015 at 7:47 am

    since people are complaining about my whining and complaining i’ll add more. the terminus of this bridge onto moody is ridiculous:

    people cycling and walking are funneled into a narrow cramped bottleneck where people cycling will have to jostle for position with pedestrians. and to add insult to potential injury, people cycling will have to cross 3 separate traffic signals to get to the ohsu tram. moreover, the 1st signal that crosses moody has a very long cycle and is brief enough that only 6-8 people can cross under the best conditions. please visualize how this design would work with the volumes on the hawthorne bridge.

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    • Matt August 5, 2015 at 10:35 am

      The closure of the cycle track on the other side of the street gives a preview of what a huge mess this is going to be. Hard to believe that this is the best they could come up with after starting with a blank canvas.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu August 5, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Out of curiosity, if you need to drive a truck onto the bridge, where can it go? E.g. to do maintenance, or respond to a medical emergency? Would it be driven on the rail part, or on the bike/ped part?

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    • soren August 5, 2015 at 10:00 am

      the bridge is open to buses.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu August 5, 2015 at 3:56 pm

        Ah, okay. Sorry, brain fade on my part.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson August 5, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    I think things will work much better on the west side when the Greenway Trail in complete to the north (thru OHSU) and south (thru Zidell). Connections will be comparable…I assume…to those on the east which are easy enough. Time to push for those links.
    However, I noted when over on the east side that PBOT’s bike direction sign sends you the long way around to the “Transit Bridge” (I thought it was called the Tilikum Bridge) and OMSI MAX station.

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  • Ted Buehler August 6, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Nice graphic, Eric! http://imgur.com/0vwaEUk

    For all the anti-whiners, you can complain about me whining too.

    I say, if they have a brand new facility, and a decent budget for it, they should have taken the time to build it so it would be safe and comfortable for the target modes of users.

    Why did they put in axe-style post tops? Why did they put in vertical posts that will snag your handlebars? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have cost them more than a few $ to hire a consultant to learn about best practices for the riding environment, and design it so as to be safe in crashes.

    It’s a requirement on highways — see all the guardrails on highways? They’re not there to be pretty. They’re there to keep users safe in the event that the vehicle leaves the road. Malfunction, crash, distraction, etc. It happens. They are credited for saving many lives. And their absence is cited as a cause of death in Commissioner Fritz’s husband’s fatal crash.

    It’s pretty lame that TriMet built a railing that will cause unnecessary injury to people on bicycles if they loose control of their bike.

    Safety Third.

    Want to see those caps taken down before the first, second or third bloody crash? File your request at TriMet Customer Service.


    The skull you save could be your own. Or mine. Or Soren’s. Or Anne’s. Or Eric’s. Or the lady across the street who you always see come home smiling after picking up her kids from day care after work.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler August 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      & the anti-whiners should also take a close look at the cattle-chute-style segment of the route at the west end of the bridge before you call the whiners out as being unappreciative.

      Ted Buehler

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  • Rob Sadowsky August 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Just want to clarify that the Bridge Pedal does not make any donations to BTA and hasn’t for a few years. This is a privately owned event. We wish it supported our work but don’t to leave anyone with the impression we are part of it. Thanks.

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