(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Multnomah County is in the midst of a major project to repaint the Broadway Bridge. When that work results in the closure or narrowing of the bridge’s biking and walking paths, some bicycle riders feel the County should do more predictable detours and safer conditions in the work zones.
Here’s what reader Dan C. emailed us on August 17th:
Upon crossing the Broadway Bridge at about 9:30 this morning came across a pack of people that were all confused as to what to do. Cars were allowed through 1 lane in each direction, but the west-bound sidewalk was completely shut down and no directions at all as to what to do.
I ended up going slowly between the two rails and had a small gang behind me. This is pretty harrowing though because 1′ in either direction means an instant crash and a mangled bike (along with a mangled me)… Additionally it’s unsafe to go on the Eastbound side of the sidewalk as a good section of that sidewalk is already too narrow to safely get a single bike, much less 2 bikes in opposite directions.
There also weren’t any signs on Interstate Southbound or Broadway Westbound indicating that there would be issues.
Once again, cycling as transit is a lingering afterthought during any construction project.
And two days later we got a similar email from reader Matt O:
I’m not one to complain, but the Broadway Bridge bike lane closure has made me, as a bike commuter, feel like a second class form of commuting. I say this because there is nothing, that I can find, informing bicycles that the 1) one sidewalk would be closed and 2) that the other one would be single file. It would be nice to know if biking on the Broadway Bridge car lanes should be considered, because the sidewalk is becoming a serious safety issue. I know there is work to do on the bridge, but I’d like there to be more readily available information for us bicyclists (not just on this site). And if someone in the city saw the cluster*%*$ on the one, two-way, single file sidewalk they’d immediately attempt to remedy the situation (or at least that is my hope).
For me, I’m going to start biking on the roadway because the sidewalk is becoming a hazard for those people walking and they deserve feeling safe on their commute more so than a bicyclist.
I forwarded both of these emails to Mike Pullen in Multnomah County’s communications office. He said they were “surprised” that some people found their signs confusing.
Here’s more from Pullen’s response:
“We realize that closing one of the Broadway Bridge sidewalks is inconvenient for the many bicyclists and pedestrians that use the bridge. However, we are a little surprised that some sidewalk users are confused by our detour signs directing them where to safely cross to the open sidewalk.
Our staff working in the field report that some bicyclists are riding past barricades and “Sidewalk Closed” signs and then crossing lanes of bridge traffic when they get to the closed section of the sidewalk.
We’ve sent out news releases, tweets (@MultCoBridges) and updated our website to get the word out about the sidewalk closures.”
Pullen also told me that the County is working with the project contractor on a plan that will close just one sidewalk for several weeks; but will keep the other sidewalk completely open without any scaffolding or barriers. I’ll share more about that new plan in the next week or so.