With walkers and in strollers, on hopalongs and (in the case of quite a few happily panting dogs) on leashes, Portlanders packed a series of previews Sunday of Tilikum Crossing, the first bridge in the United States to carry buses, bikes, trains, streetcars and people walking but no private cars.
The crossings began with an early-morning VIP ride and continued with the Providence Bridge Pedal bike ride, then an open crossing for people with disabilities and finally by the three-hour “People’s Preview” for anyone and everyone.
TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch, helping direct traffic at the west landing, was one of several TriMet officials present to marvel at the throngs who showed up. At about 3 p.m., with more than an hour left to go, she estimated that more than 20,000 people had crossed.
By mid-evening after the event, she’d upped her estimate to “40,000 to 50,000.”
“Where are they all coming from?” deputy project director Dave Unsworth asked happily about an hour later, as people continued to stream across the river. He was straddling a bicycle on the west landing and directing people to avoid getting their wheels stuck between the MAX tracks. “Are they arriving in busloads on the other side?”
Most people crossed on foot, but a constant stream of people were also coming through on bikes. Everyone kept to their assigned sides of the bridge quite well, thanks to the stripe down the middle of the bridge and only a little prompting from a few orange-shirted TriMet volunteers.
Though I’d personally walked across the bridge once before, the experience of doing it on a bike was surprisingly different — in a great way. It’s a fine trip on foot with good views of the city and (especially) the river. But like the other Willamette Bridges, it’s just a long way to walk in the sun.
But on a bicycle, Tilikum really feels like a magic carpet. It’s so quiet, so low-stress, so open to the air and so physically beautiful that it’s clearly more pleasant to ride across than anything else except the Steel Bridge’s lower deck. Even when MAX, bus and streetcar will be thumping past on the center lanes, the thick separation between the bikeways and pillars will keep them from causing any stress at all.
There’s quite a bit of arc to the bridge, and people paused naturally a bit at the peak of it to admire the view. Tilikum is definitely further from the action of the city at the moment, thanks to the big undeveloped lots on both its landings, so it’s not as urban a bridge as, say, the Broadway. But it’s a new way to see the central city and an excellent look at the river and its banks.
This busker, stationed at one of the widened platform areas near the pillars, didn’t seem to be bringing in much revenue, unfortunately. If Tilikum someday gets regular buskers on its platforms, we’ll definitely know it’s working.
The downward cruise was steep enough to be fun, not steep enough to feel dangerous.
At the west landing, westbound bike traffic is now channeled into a fenced-off, curb-separated, green-painted path that attempts to remove any temptation to cut south along the sidewalk toward the South Waterfront and Aerial Tram. This has its good and bad points. It’s certainly going to prompt more people to cross Moody the way they’re supposed to. Unfortunately, the light crossing Moody is extremely long for bikes and the cycle is very brief. It’ll be interesting to see how car volume on Moody compares to bike traffic coming from Tilikum; hopefully the city will be willing to keep changing the amount of green time at this light once the bridge opens.
Also, as of last week the city, TriMet and OHSU have agreed on a major new redesign of Southwest Moody’s sidewalk-level bike lane. The new design adds green and switches the pedestrian space to the west side of the path throughout, eliminating a so-called “weave” and putting a row of street trees between people biking and walking. In general this felt like an improvement over the old design, and seems likely to reduce the number of biking-walking conflicts on Moody. There were also some issues, though. Look for another post soon that’ll explore some of them, and if you’ve ridden the street, feel free to add your own observations about this new setup in the comments.
A few people came with props or costumes. This man had a dog in his cargo box and a bubble machine behind his saddle, so he left a trail of merriment wherever he went.
Lots of families had brought their children to see the bridge. Hopefully they’ll remember the day, back in 2015, when they were among the first few thousand folks to enjoy it.
Here are my Bridge Pedal pix. Some of them have already percolated to Wikipedia. http://pix.perljam.net/Bicycling/Bridge-Pedal-2015
I was amused that the “daily bicycle count” and “yearly bicycle count” matched, because we all know bicycles have been over before today.
Nice pictures! I love the early morning light on Portland.
Looking forward to the opening—I mean come on, there’s been no good reason to keep it closed for months—when it isn’t a disaster of huddled humanity and Cat6 riders making unannounced random stops.
With it open I see the missed opportunities: the Moody lane swap means more bumps for northbound riders, and… once again… I didn’t enjoy the grind up to SW4th when you come off the bridge (this time via Harrison). It is my fight alone but 2nd just makes more sense because it’s easier to reach and flat.
There is much more to opening a bridge than the bridge itself. There are approaches for multi-modes, they need to tie-in with existing, there is underground utilities (water, electricity, sewer, cable, gas) that all need to be adjusted or reinforced. Everything needs to be coordinated and there are ALWAYS delays for such a complex project. The fact that they are opening on time is a great testament to the hard work of many men & women.
Do you have any documentation of the work that is still needed? It looked like everything was ready to go (at least for pedestrians and cyclists). The signals are all working, and all of the markings are in place.
they were re-striping Moody just last week as part of the traffic flow off the bridge…work just stopped last Friday. Have you traveled the entire line into Milwaukie to see if the entire things is complete?
The bridge is complete, so they should open it. They have been running trains for weeks, so driver training is not the issue. Moody is now done, and all the striping and signals on the bridge are complete. Why not have a “soft opening” for peds and bikes. I don’t think one month is going to train pedestrians to not look for busses and trains.
This just shows that Trimet’s main concern for peds and bikes is that they don’t get in the way of their operations. This and the silly manually operated gates they were going to do on the east side.
They also have to train all the MAX and streetcar drivers on the tracks so they know how to properly operate their vehicles in the space when sharing it with peds/bikers. I’m happy to have TriMet take all the care and precaution it needs to get the signals, training, and timing correct to make this shared space safe for all.
TriMet was so confident in the schedule that it committed to opening for Bridge Pedal exactly one year ago today. Everyone and everything is tested and trained, not that it should matter since it’s a completely different part of the bridge. When the question is put to them, TriMet doesn’t answer.
The only missing piece is operating funds for the Orange Line. Remember who to thank if you’re blocked by a Hawthorne Bridge lift or stuck on a bus in traffic on the Ross Island in the interim…
I’m not ungrateful that it’s opening on time, and 40 or so days isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but holy smokes is it frustrating to see that bridge sit unused.
And there’s nothing left to coordinate, that’s ridiculous. You can already use all of the crosswalks and paths at the ends of the bridge, you just can’t walk across it. Seems pretty simple.
They could be using this time to grind down the points. At least it wouldn’t look like there was no reason you couldn’t be riding over it right now.
The bridge will open when the rainy season starts. Then well all take the light rail instead.
Granted, trimet just wrote a blog article about the whole ordeal and what they have left to do. Having the wait-time explained helps immensely, kudos to trimet.
It was great to finally go across the bridge! Bummed we’ll have to wait another month before it’s open for good.
The bridge was amazing, which underscored the extremely poorly designed bike approaches on both ends. Another sad, missed opportunity for world-class infrastructure.
The crosswalks and bike crossings on Moody were the worst. The pedestrians and bikes have their own dedicated signals that allow people biking and people walking to cross at the same time. On the west side of the street, the bike path turns right across the pedestrian path. Huge right-hook potential, especially as the path turns immediately, so if there is more than one bike crossing at the same time as a pedestrian, the second bike would have to wait awkwardly in the roadway.
A shared MUP just a tiny bit wider than the Hawthorne bridge seems like pretty minimal advance to me.
We can and should do better.
Fortunately, this bridge will not have as many tourists on it. Even after the south waterfront gets built out, this bridge is going to be a dream to ride over compared with the Hawthorne.
There are no shared MUPs connecting the end of the bridges. They are Amsterdam-style totally physically separated green cycle tracks.
Actually, Moody is probably the best approach to any bridge in Portland and perhaps the only example of world-class cycling infrastructure we have. There are painted crosswalks at conflict points and I am confident people will figure it out.
Yeah, really nice bridge except for the ridiculously high expansion joints (why oh why?). The approaches definitely need work. I rode down Clinton through the new 11/12th/train/MAX vortex and it REALLY doesn’t work when there’s very many people there. It’s bad when you’re pretty much by yourself, but fails utterly when there are more than a few people around. I realize it’s a tricky area, but the crazy cobble solution is just not working.
Nice bridge though. I look forward to riding over it in more relaxing conditions.
I couldn’t agree more about the “vortex” (great word for it) south of Clinton where the tracks cross 11th/12th. I was out there today and heard someone say to their friend, “I’m glad you know where you’re going. This is bizarre.” The most troubling part is there are times when the bike signal for westbound traffic turns green across 11th/12th even though it’s not safe to cross. Less dangerous but still frustrating is how it stays red for east/west traffic along the trail even when travel is protected by a parallel train. The whole east side, from SE 17th near Holgate up through the bridge, is a messy hodgepodge of contradictory signs, circuitous routing, and conflict points between people trying to walk and ride. Moody is less of a mess, but it’s clearly inadequate for the volume of traffic it’s going ot handle. There are scant places for people turning from Moody onto the bridge to wait for signals, so people will end up blocking sidewalks and bikeways or start running red lights. Signals at the west end of the bridge are bizarre too, and seem to turn red for people walking and bicycling when it’s completely safe to proceed. Speaking of signals again, bike signals all over the trail and bridge are poorly out of people’s sight lines where no one will be looking. Meanwhile TriMet widened streets for motor vehicles and rebuilt SE 17th to look like a highway running through Brooklyn, and people are speeding & charging through crosswalks there without consequence.
And it’s hard to access the trails on the eastside from anywhere east of Brooklyn. You can only get on at 20th, and there is good bike access on 21st, but that one block is a real doozie. Coming from Foster area, it’s either ride way out of direction, or test your luck with the UP trains at Clinton.
I expect extremely low compliance rates with the signals all around this new area.
For the last few months Tri-met has been forcing cyclists and pedestrians to just stop on a wide-open cycletrack and just wait for long periods of time for non-existent trains, buses, security vehicles, and emergency vehicles “crossing”. Tri-met says, “Trying to get people used to the new signals.” However, from my observations, they’ve just been habituating people to blow through those signals since there is no clear and present danger. This could be a problem once actual large objects start crossing… Bang!
You described very well the same issues I encountered a few weeks ago. I thought they were still sorting out signals and had some incorrect sign installations. It certainly needs some corrective redesign.
Yes, but I’ll be able to go home via elevator east off 17th via Rhine. I sort of dream of the glass elevator as if it twer the SE’s own Wonka-vator. I can speed right, cross the breezeway over the railway, foot never touching the ground.
Great coverage Michael! Wish I could have been there on the big opening day. I went across a bunch of bridges out here in eastern Oregon, but none of them are carfree.
I saw some cyclists near Lake Albert Wednesday morning last week as I motored thru the area. Were you one of them? Some of them had stopped to play in some sand dunes along the road north of Lake Albert.
Remember that today the bridge was being used by far, far more pedestrians than it will ever see on any normal day. So the bike/ped routes on either end may, in normal usage, not be as bad as all that. It’s like saying getting around downtown is a nightmare based on what it’s like during the Rose Parade.
We don’t need better infrastructure for bikes downtown. No one owns a bike and lives downtown. They all drive luxury cars.
you have a perception issue.
You and our future President Trump?
I live downtown and commute exclusively by bike.
I don’t know. The population here is very Tribble-like. I don’t know if it’s just summer and tourism and an overabundance of events and festivals in Portland, or if another huge bunch of people moved here in the past month or so. Traffic (and parkers) on my street (SE 26th) seems to have quadrupled in the past couple weeks–still going strong past midnight. I’ve been wondering “where are they all coming from?” myself. Anyway–I wouldn’t be surprised if the bridge is pretty crowded from the start and continues that way. We have the most getting-out, extroverted population here nowadays that I’ve ever seen. I’m hoping I’m wrong and that the bridge is nice ‘n’ roomy for just mememe. 😉 Very much looking forward to using it–thanks for the coverage, Michael. p.s…no buskers, please!
I wouldn’t worry, no way that bridge will be crossed by 40,000 pedestrians and cyclists per day, outside of special events like this!
I just have a feeling it’s going to be way more regularly, heavily peopled, way sooner, than we projected.
I hear you. I predict this bridge and S Waterfront will see a big uptick in usage.
I hear ya dude! I guarantee a big uptick in usage. Just as soon as it’s opened for use, the usage will sky-rocket. 🙂
Should be easier for transplants living in the glass towers to get to brunch over in SE.
Ugh and bleghh. 🙁 Very likely. I’m overwhelmed with the number of people who drive over to ‘experience’ Division, now. Curses!
Maybe they will ride instead now that new bridge is open?
That is a nice thought. Please forgive my skepticism. 🙂
Then the latest statistic about Portland’s growth will disturb you: something like 400,000 more people are expected to move here by 2030. Have fun on the roads. ..::grin::..
More Air B&B rentals coming on line to offset the higher retail rental rates? (Just my absurd guess.)
That is very likely–not an absurd guess at all! That would explain the new chronic parkers in very very recently open places.
(confusing, sorry–by “open places” I meant whole sections curbside that, until very recently, were relatively unparked on)
Lol. good tribble reference. Hopefully the hordes die down once the rain starts up.. if it starts up this year that is.
Lots of out-of-town visitors and it seems like the influx of tribbles keeps increasing.
I miss the keep to yourself, cloistered nature of portland
Hear, hear! Introverts, unite! Separately! And in peace! 🙂 I miss the rain for too many reasons to count, one of them being the ‘dampening’ (har!) affect it has on festivals and the hordes of swarming loud smelly aimless people in general. I do not like 6-month-long summer. And I fear for our rain and grey. 🙁
hopefully the city will be willing to keep changing the amount of green time at this light once the bridge opens.”
It was good to see this intersection already see some adjustment. A month ago it was a shared ped and bike fustercluck with an even longer cycle. Even so, if this gets anywhere near the bike traffic that the Hawthorne bridge gets it will still be the mother of all bottlenecks.
The best part of the preview, for me, was not the bridge but Moody. They mostly fixed Moody!
Moody is great, and perhaps our only example of world-class cycling infrastructure. The city needs to copy and paste Moody into other parts of the city. Perhaps Naito?
Mrs Dibbly & I rode the streetcar from downtown because we planned on stopping & taking a lot of photos. The streetcar was loaded to the very max and it was at lest 10 degrees hotter inside than outside and there were riders who didn’t know what was going on.
The bridge is very beautiful and a fantastic addition to our infrastructure. Most of the issues will go away as people get used to the lanes and the meaning of green paint, and as the number of users goes down to a more normal level.
When we crossed (at about 2:00pm-ish) the counter was at about 14-15k. Does it only count bikes? How does it ignore pedestrians, if that’s the case? And, is there a web site to view counts, like there is for the Hawthorne Bridge counter? Please, somebody post a link.
It just counts bikes. Typically, there are two tubes running perpendicular to the path that are timed to sense bike tires passing over them. You can see an example of this on the Hawthorne Bridge.
When I last went over (3:30 ish), the west bound counter was over 30k, the east bound counter was over 50k
According to TriMet’s Fetsch, the Tilikum counter is actually a metal detector. So just bikes. Also, it fails when multiple bikes pass simultaneously.
It can’t detect multiple bikes? That sounds like the counts will be wildly inaccurate.
The bridge is very nice, but I think it should have been named the “Hillary Clinton Bridge” in honor of our next president!
Doubt we’ll be having the Arkansawyer as our next president. Don’t think you can hold that office from prison and that is looking like a possibility for her.
So relieved for the SW Moody redesign. The last version made ZERO sense. The trees used to divide the north and south bike lanes, rather than separating PEDs from bikes as they should.
The trees also made it impossible to overtake a slower cyclist.
The green paint is also a huge improvement. Who was supposed to be where did not used to be clearly delineated. When we rode the streetcar to the event yesterday, it was easy to see most people got the new design easily.
In my opinion the counter was low. I saw it tick up by two as we approached it, but there were 4 people on our 2 bikes.
I finally got my question answered: I can do the grade in th eastbound direction with both kids in the bakfiets. There were so many people I wasn’t able to rest at the top (was about 4:10pm at that point as the people with the orange shirts were telling people to turn around if they were parked on the west side), and I was still able to do it. Whew! Cargo bike victory! Btw, it took me 10 minutes to cross it at my snail’s pace.
Here are some additional pix of the Tilikum bridge opening.
Got to celebrate the new bridge bubble biking with the unipiper, what a great time! The turnout was amazing for such a short window after bridge pedal.
At SE Water, they had the entrance to the bike path blocked off with fencing to force cyclists and pedestrians to use the crosswalk. Then cyclists were had to step down the curb onto the bike path. It caused unnecessary congestion for bicyclists and pedestrians and caused them to partially block the Water Street intersection, thus blocking cars, too. It was a really bizarre system of “traffic control.”
I did manage to cross by bike with lots of interference by pedestrians walking in the designated bike area and some bicyclists walking, too. I wish I hadn’t gone yesterday. If you didn’t go, consider it time well spent.
I’m hoping TriMet and PBOT reconsider the design at SE Water and Tilikum Way where people riding bikes are presented with a fence and a bike box. The cycle track should continue straight to meet up with the MUP along the Orange Line tracks.
There slowing down and inconveniencing bicycle riders. Perhaps to the point that taking light-rail will be less of a hassle.
Parking down there must have been a mess.
People who expect to park close to a car-free bridge are ridiculous. If everyone who walked / biked the bridge drove and parked, EVERY SINGLE PARKING SPACE in downtown would be full from people participating in the event.
As I left the Water Ave/Tillicum zone, a driver pulled his car in front of me and stopped in the bike lane TO PARK. I had to swerve to avoid hitting his rear bumper. When I told him through his open window that he couldn’t park in the bike lane, he ignored me, turned off his car and got out. I predict there will be a — ahem — “Period Of Adjustment” not unlike how things have been going on N. Williams.
Yeah, this could be fun.
Already people walking dogs with leashes in the bike lane, see above photo.
Yesterday was far from a typical day on the new bridge.
I had to walk my dogs in the bike lane to pass two cyclists who were slowly walking their bikes, taking up the entire walking lane. Sometimes people have a good reason…
Once the buskers hit the bridge, can the homeless encampments be far behind?
Michael – a correction to your statement: “… the first bridge in the United States to carry buses, bikes, trains, streetcars and people walking but no private cars.” [This statement has popped up before in the project press coverage…so its just not you.]
More correct may be …its the “first” such new bridge to be opened as such since 1910ish / the start of the Automobile Age in the USA. Perhaps this bridge is the bookend to that now “ended” age…
There were buses before cars?
Well, before motorcars. Early omnibuses were horse drawn.
Kitty, you found my loophole! Yep, I thought about it and decided that as long as I included buses I could get away with that sentence. 🙂
It was a great ride. Even the steeper eastward side wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be from looking at it from afar.
Got there a little early for the open house and the line of people on the NE corner wrapped all the way to the Submarine as I started over it. My first time over was a blast, since I was passed all the pedestrians within 100 yards of the start.
I especially liked that the Portland Opera supplied some live music for while from their balcony over looking the bridge.
Ended up going round three times. The Hawthorne is going to quickly lose a bunch of it riders quickly – I doubt I take Hawthorne much after it opens.
I rode over it both during Bridge Pedal (That was crazy, no wonder they kept saying no stopping) and did 2 out and backs from the Eastside during the Peoples Preview – even when the bridge was packed it didn’t feel cramped.
The likelihood is this bridge will see something more along the lines of 3,000 – to 5,000 a day max on an average much like the current numbers on the Hawthorne Bridge with an occasional bump to 10,000 – 15,000 during big events.
It’ll be interested to see how this and the Hawthorne Counts change once they both adjust in the next year.
As a Disability Advocate the grade was nearly perfect on the ADA scale they likely couldn’t have done it any better.
The upgrade’s to the Moody Cycle Track were excellent – moving the Pedestrian’s to the inside was great and the Thermoplastic coating at the Track and Street Crossings were an interesting touch, I met up with Stephanie Routh on my way home and I took her and her friend back to the Bridge her friend made an interesting comment about the thermoplastic coating “Feels like I should be walking.” I called it “Bike Lane Carpeting” Overall I’m cautiously impressed and am looking forward to seeing how this shakes out over the next year.
I want to give both the Providence Bridge Pedal and Tri-Met a big thank you for the opportunity to check this bridge out 3 times in one day!
It was fun to ride, but the pedestrians were all over the lane (as Michael’s pictures show). That’s Ok, this was a special event.
BUT the signage on the west side is abysmal. We were approaching as two very experienced long time riders in Portland. Bike lane marked on 4th … any signage? No. Big bike lane on 2nd… any signage? No.
Ok so we finally figured it out by asking some walkers where to continue after 2nd. More signage … … … NO!
Holy crap. The biggest most important piece of bike infrastructure constructed in this city in a long time and the signage is … nowhere to be found.
It was a wonderful experience overall. Especially considering the massive crowds and start-and-stop bike movement. But hey, they wanted people to be taking selfies, so it was expected.
I did the ride over and back again with my eight-year-old kid. He normally balks at slightly steep hills (and hints at how much he needs a bike with gears) but he powered over the hump no problem: https://instagram.com/p/6QarQTg1ja/
Considering how crowded the ped lanes were, I thought the bike lanes stayed impressively clear. Nice to have guides at the starts yelling “bikes to the left, peds to the right,” and people mostly complied.
Look forward to trying it again on a regular day. Basically it’s not unlike riding over the Hawthorne, but without the background anxiety I get from biking next to that steep drop to the roadway grating.
The Portland Opera company serenading the crowds on the east end was a nice touch too, and it was good to see them getting lots of applause and “bravo”s.
Speaking of signs, at the east end on the Greenway Trail a bike system sign directs you to “Transit Bridge.” I thought it was a multi-modal bridge call “Tilikum Crossing!” Did PBOT not get this? The sign is also sending you to both the bridge and MAX a bit out of direction!