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Collision on St Johns Bridge kills bicycle rider – Updated

Posted by on October 29th, 2016 at 2:56 pm

View of the west end of the St. Johns Bridge. Despite being a very popular and important bikeway, it's quite inhospitable for users not inside a motor vehicle.

View of the west end of the St. Johns Bridge. Despite being a very popular and important bikeway, it’s quite inhospitable for users not inside a motor vehicle.

A man died while riding his bike on the St Johns Bridge today. He became the 37th person to die as a result of a traffic collision in Portland thiss year.

Not many details have been released. I’ve pasted the most recent police statement below:

On Saturday October 29, 2016, at 11:25 a.m., North Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the West end of the St. Johns Bridge on the report of a crash involving a bicycle rider and a driver.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located a male adult bicycle rider critically injured. Medical efforts were not successful and he died at the scene.

The involved driver has remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators.

The Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team is responding to conduct an investigation.

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This hits home for me because I ride at that location at least a few times a week.

The St Johns Bridge is a vital connection point to Forest Park, Sauvie Island, the West Side, and more. Unfortunately it’s a very auto-centric place where biking is high-stress and can be dangerous.

ODOT had a chance to reconfigure the lanes on the bridge when it underwent a major renovation in 2005, but they decided against bike lanes despite an independent traffic engineering study (PDF here) that showed there would be no loss of capacity or operational impact if they striped one standard motorized vehicle lane in each direction instead of two. ODOT sees this facility as an important freight route and wanted to make sure it maintained as much freight capacity as possible.

ODOT’s regional manager at the time was Matt Garrett, who is now the agency’s director. In 2005 I had a tense exchange with Garrett where he essentially admitted that there is nowhere for bicycle users to go on the bridge. The sidewalks are technically not wide enough for bicycle riders and walkers and the main lanes are not safe for mixed traffic.

In 2012 they added sharrows; but those are hard to see and most people in cars and trucks go so fast it doesn’t feel safe to use them.

I’m in Bend this weekend racing cyclocross. I’ll have more to say about this on Monday. I shared more thoughts about it on Twitter. You can read the full thread here.

I’ll update this post as I learn more.

UPDATE: Police have arrested the driver :

The driver involved in today’s fatal crash on the St. Johns Bridge was arrested after a crash investigation by Traffic Division officers.

42-year-old Joel Aaron Schrantz of North Portland was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on a charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide. He’ll be arraigned on Monday.

The bicycle rider has been tentatively identified as a man in his 50s. Family has not yet been notified so the deceased’s name is being withheld at this time.

Investigators learned that Schrantz was driving his 1995 Toyota 4Runner northbound and was stopped at a red light on Northwest Bridge Avenue at the entrance to the St. Johns Bridge. When the light turned green, Schrantz accelerated into the curve and lost control of the vehicle as it began to fishtail as he turned onto the bridge. Schrantz failed to maintain control of his vehicle as it slid into the westbound lanes of the bridge, where he collided with the bicycle rider who was riding westbound across the bridge. The rider was knocked from his bicycle and came to rest underneath the front of an unrelated vehicle being driven westbound.

Investigators examined Schrantz’ vehicle and noted that the rear tires were bald and had no traction. Investigators learned that Schrantz was aware of the bad condition of his tires and other vehicle equipment issues making the 4Runner unsafe to drive.

Schrantz’ driver’s license is suspended and he’ll face additional traffic charges once the investigation is complete. He was not impaired by drugs or alcohol.

UPDATE #2: The man who died was 55-year-old Mitchell York of northeast Portland. The PPB say investigators have learned that, “York was a dedicated bicycle rider, logging more than 500 miles a week.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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SD
Guest
SD

This is incredibly tragic.

St. Johns Bridge could be an iconic national landmark for multimodal use given the important access it provides and its scenic attributes.

An earlier BP article presciently described ODOT’s negligent choice to protect auto speeds that exceed the posted limits at the expense of multimodal safety.

“To actually make the St. Johns Bridge a place where more people would consider bicycling, the solution would be to have a protected bike lane and one standard lane in each direction. That was actually the recommendation made by consultants David Evans & Associates, who studied the bridge in 2003.
“Result of traffic operations analysis in 2002,” read David Evans & Associates St. Johns Bridge Transportation Impacts report, “indicates no capacity constraints or operational flaws on the bridge that would prohibit the implementation of any of the striping options.” Even in 2020, the report found that the only bottlenecks that would occur would be at the signalized intersections on each end.
Despite this study, and despite some advocacy by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and others, ODOT caved to the freight lobby and left the lanes as-is.”

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

Yea, but Freight!

Bob
Guest
Bob

Until there is some sort of protected bikeway, and I’m all for some kind of bike protection on this bridge, I will continue to choose to ride the St Johns sidewalk, and get off the bike when a pedestrian approaches. Bikes might have a right of way, but the laws of physics are just to harsh on those that are confronted by a fast moving vehicle.

matt picio
Guest
matt picio

It’s not clear that any engineering would have prevented this, including protected bike lanes. The driver was operating unsafe equipment in what was apparently a reckless manner. Cars driven in that fashion frequently are able to hop curbs and otherwise transgress on what should be a safe and separated space. Engineering only goes so far, and honestly, there’s no guarantee education or enforcement would have worked here either. It really is a true tragedy, because this was completely avoidable.

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

Plenty of ways are listed here in this thread; your assertion would go a lot further if you could identify the reasons each would have failed in this case.

Example: the criminal driver had dozens of prior convictions for dangerous driving, yet was continually forgiven and put back behind the wheel. Revoking his permission to drive a car on the roads years ago could well have prevented this.

Example: physical separation of the bike lane, e.g., with a jersey barrier, could well have prevented this.

Example: lane configurations that are inhospitable to speeding and dangerous driving, e.g., narrower lanes, could well have prevented this.

The throwing-up-hands “but criminals will always ignore laws and there’s no way to stop them” crap has to stop.

KH
Guest
KH

I drove by at approx 2mph in the backed up traffic with my window down to study the man who’s head rested on the sidewalk, helmet intact, legs and left arm in the street, hoping so much to see any sign of life. I knew as I drove on, wiping tears from my eyes, that he was gone. In that moment I thought how desperately he would have wished he’d been riding up on that high sidewalk. Regardless of your “rights,” you have to be smart. Rights won’t save your life in unsafe conditions, period.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Smart people are run down all the time.

SD
Guest
SD

It is hard to see a brutal, heart wrenching loss like this and consider both the specific circumstances and systemic failures that contributed. Unfortunately, this is the lens that we have had to look through far too often over the past several years.

Most of the time there are details faulting the driver, or details that point to the person that was walking or biking. Blame is one of the most powerful elements of the story, and in this case the driver made one of many horrible decisions. It is easy to narrow our focus to a single cause like the combination of bald tires and a reckless driver, throw our hands up and say “This is it, nothing else matters, solve this problem by stopping bad drivers.”

On the other hand, if we step back and look at data compiled from hundreds or thousands of tragic events, we draw broad conclusions like the contribution of speed to fatal outcomes. Even more broadly, there are contributing factors like “culture” that are difficult to isolate or measure.

Most of the time, I don’t believe that I can look at a tragedy and make a clear case for a singular intervention, nor can I discount other peoples ideas for improvements. What is clear is sadness, anger, a sense of urgency, and that current conditions for cycling and walking are ridiculous. When I heard about this death, I immediately felt the same the same feeling I get whenever I am approaching the St John’s Bridge. The bad conditions on SJB are created by many different factors.

I agree that one bad driver made one bad choice and if that moment is altered the outcome is changed. But, I am painfully reminded that ODOT chose a design that intentionally discourages cyclists form using the SJB. Then they reluctantly added signs and sharrows when, not surprisingly, thousands of cyclists use the bridge despite the bad design, saying under their breath that cyclists made them add the signage. They shrug off the poor design with a “ride at your own risk” mentality. Like deaths on Barbur, or Powell, they will say that it was a bad human decision beyond their control that caused this death. In doing so they will ignore the fact that they built a road that feels comfortable driving 20 mph over the speed limit while weaving around slower traffic.

When this bad driver approached the bridge, he did so with the expectation that he was turning onto a fast road, essentially a freeway. It was a horrible decision and he should never drive again. When an engineer designs a road without considering how that road influences expectations or driver behavior in an urban environment with vulnerable road users, they have made a horrible decision. They should never make decisions about roads in Portland again.

Adam
Subscriber

The sharrows on this bridge are a joke. When will ODOT take safety seriously?

abomb
Guest
abomb

That’s why I ride on the sidewal on the St John’s bridge. I know I have the legal right to ride in the road but with the speed of the cars it’s not safe. A bike lane in this instance may not have helped. I just wish people would drive slower on this bridge.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

I’m sad.

Joshua
Guest
Joshua

I live in SJ, and drive across this bridge almost daily. I consciously make sure I drive under the speed limit, which is posted at 35. And yet most cars fly by me, going considerably faster.

I watch cyclists on the road, and am always worried for them; it seems like such an unfriendly place to ride. I’ve never ridden across the bridge myself, as there’s no way I want to ride on the other bike-hostile hellhole that is Route 30. I’d much rather take the long route through North Portland.

The bridge and Route 30 should both be made much safer for bicyclists (and other means of human-powered transportation). And the primary way to do that is to figure out some way to slow down the damn cars.

Justin Morton
Guest
Justin Morton

Would it kill ODOT to lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour on the bridge? I’m always driving slow to get a peek at the amazing view anyway.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

If the speed limit was 20 and there was only one main lane each way, lawful drivers would go 20 and unlawful drivers would be stuck behind them.

Spiffy
Subscriber

it wouldn’t kill ODOT but it might kill a law-abiding road user… when I’m driving the new 25 mph speed limit on the Morrison Bridge I feel like I’m going to get seriously hurt due to all the people going 35+ mph around me, riding my bumper and cutting me off aggressively as if I’m enemy #1 for obeying the law…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I drive 35mph on Bethany as posted and watch cars go around me at 45-50mph. Sure wish it was one lane instead of two.

Greg Crowe
Guest
Greg Crowe

I got honked at and flipped the bird by a little old lady in a Prius the last time I drove across that (and yeah, I was doing 25 – 28 mph). I mean, it kind of made my day, but was unsettling nonetheless.

Russ Lowe
Guest

Exactly what you said, Joshua. I live right on the east side of bridge, and got stuck in the bridge closeure yesterday coming back from my son’s morning soccer games. We have both wanted to take our bikes on trips like that, because 30 it actually one of the very last routes in Portland where you can actually at times feel as if you’re taking a ‘short cut’ and avoiding what has become incessant, unavoidable auto traffic. But there is just no way I want to roll the dice with that route, let alone bring my young son along. We were both shaken and saddened to learn of the accident yesterday. Thoughts with Mr. York’S family and friends, and I hope it causes many people to ponder ways we can improve, and incites some positive changes.

kyle
Guest
kyle

Damn. Terrible news.

Peter shaffer
Guest
Peter shaffer

I only ride on the sidewalks over that bridge.

Adam
Subscriber

Even the sidewalks are terrifying.

Brendan Treacy
Guest
Brendan Treacy

They are! I don’t usually have a fear of heights but something about that sidewalk on a bike feels really unsettling. I usually prefer to ride on the road even though that’s obviously not very invited either. Just another pinch point for bikes. Sad to hear about this.

peejay
Guest
peejay

ODOT is criminally negligent for this and for the car murder of Martin Greenough on Lombard at 42nd, and for the many other deaths that occurred on ODOT-operated roads in Portland, because they knew exactly how dangerous their design choices were, and consciously chose those designs over safer options. Lock up Matt Garrett and all top ODOT officials without bail, and let them stand trial for these murders.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

I would never consider nor condone such action, but I hear that non-conspiratorial occupations are all the rage these days.

In all seriousness, perhaps now is time – again – for public pressure in the form of thoughtful protest and media invocation to help spur change and bring attention to Vision Zero. There’s an election soon, right?

dwk
Guest
dwk

How would vision zero have done anything to have stopped this idiot driver?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Maybe vision zero policies would have kept this man from driving. He has already been busted for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, driving with a suspended license, and a hit in run in 2014 (for which they suspended his licence for 90 days). Based on his driving history, is it surprising that the’s a terrible driver?

Greenkrypto
Guest
Greenkrypto

In 2014, he hit me head-on and immediately restarted his car to get away. Left me with $5000 damage. Thankfully, one of the North Precinct cops recognized him from a photo I took with my iPhone.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

What a winner.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Amazing. Vision Zero requires laws that would permanently prevent this kind of person from endangering the public again. I’m glad that they got him!

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

A bike lane behind jersey barriers or a steel guardrail wouldn’t have this problem. This is exactly the kind of unpredictable crash that vision zero should be addressing. Unfortunately PBOT’s approach to it is still half-hearted at best.

Even without a solid barrier, would the driver have been so zealous with the gas pedal without as much wide-open space to play in? A couple posts or sand-filled barriers would make a difference. Seems like the tires might be bald from habitually stomping too hard on the go pedal after every stop. Fear of enforcement *ever* happening is one thing, but I want infrastructure that stops the vehicle anytime day or night whether drunk, reckless, or just had a blowout. Of course, lots of people are going to run into this infrastructure before they realize they’re not as competent at driving as they thought. The bmw suv with a green scrape of paint down the side could totally be “a Portland thing”, right?

But the first step is to accept the fact that giving drivers too much ease and convenience is killing people. I’m not sure ODOT or even PBOT are ready to challenge the unquestionable right of “those who can afford to pay $2/gal for gas” to do whatever the hell they want.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

Eric Leifsdad
But the first step is to accept the fact that giving drivers too much ease and convenience is killing people. I’m not sure ODOT or even PBOT are ready to challenge the unquestionable right of “those who can afford to pay $2/gal for gas” to do whatever the hell they want.

This is to my thinking the heart of the matter. Reducing speed limits might help some, but people have to obey them. Only those folks predisposed toward lawful behavior will be affected by the change. Same thing with Vision Zero. Those who care, get it and change their behavior. Without draconian enforcement (which has its own, already widely examined, problems), you’ll still see speeds of 45-50 mph on the bridge and vulnerable road users will continue to be at risk. I’d like to see the bridge changed to two lanes with the remainder of the space turned to physically isolated MUP/public space. I’d also like to see Germantown Road broken into two disconnected parts (allowing access to the Leif Erikson trailhead, but no through driving. If Germantown were taken out of the Hillsboro-Vancouver cut-through business, we’d see a lot less congestion on the approach to the bridge.

Stph

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“A bike lane behind jersey barriers or a steel guardrail wouldn’t have this problem. …” leifsdad

It would take that kind of physical barrier between main lane and bike lane to prevent this kind of collision involving motor vehicles and bikes. That is…a collision contributed to in a major degree, by a very irresponsible road user. Rather than a collision occurring despite responsible use by all parties directly involved in such a collision.

Irresponsible road users exceeding limitations of the protective ability of the infrastructure’s design, is the problem on this bridge. People responsibly using this bridge, by staying within the speed limit, making proper lane changes and so forth, probably aren’t causing many collisions, if any.

The baseless claims raised against ODOT’s personnel, made in some of people’s comments here, draw away from attention in need of being directed towards coming up with the answer to the problem of what must be done to get control over at least the people that are inclined to drive in very seriously irresponsible ways.

The major contributing factor to this collision, is far too similar to the collision that occurred out on Hawthorne Blvd some months back. There too, it was someone whose actions as a driver, were very irresponsible, that caused that collision.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I think DOTs don’t understand the psychological effect of lane widths or vertical obstacles/barriers. Or they just don’t take enough advantage of this? Even intermittent bollards or flexi-posts would discourage the antics we see on wide-open roadways. I would prefer immovable objects, but we’ve seen mere cones be more effective at herding drivers than paint.

People want to avoid hitting things with their cars and yet our streets tend to have more vulnerable people than inanimate things in them. Seems simple: put stationary things near where people might be. But I can’t seem to explain this to traffic “engineers”, perhaps due to the highway design school of thought?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“I think DOTs don’t understand the psychological effect of lane widths or vertical obstacles/barriers. …” leifsdad

I think they do understand, well enough, different ways traffic can be affected by road design and infrastructure. One example some of us reading here may have grit our teeth over, is freeway exit lights, or access lights…whatever they’re called. Those lights definitely slows down, or maybe its better to say…regulates…people’s access to the freeway during periods of high congestion. Most everyone stops at those lights, even though there’s no cross traffic, and even when the entrance ramp and the freeway doesn’t seem very busy.

A number of people seem to think DOT’s just, out of the blue, come up with road designs according to each road departments’ or certain personnel’s personal whim. I’m not saying I know for a fact, but I don’t think this is the way they go about designing and deciding what infrastructure to equip roads with. I believe they have various guidelines…federal, state, county, city…that they rely on for instruction as to what to build. I don’t believe they can just go and put up barriers anywhere someone in the dept, or some city council person or some angy citizen wants them to…unless the desire is supported by guidelines the depts are obliged to refer to and rely on.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

We could close the road to cars. In fact, let’s just do that to any road which isn’t safe for all modes. Starting from that premise, I’m sure we’ll be able to come up with something quick and easy to get cars back on the road.

I’ve heard the line about design manuals and “it’s complicated”. Simple answer is “shut it down”. I doubt it would seem so complicated against that backdrop.

Are you saying we could never put some kind of barrier on the centerline? I don’t need my engineering degree to say that this would be a place that could have a barrier. Yes, there are end treatment requirements (sand filled barrier is its own end treatment, btw) based on speed and many other requirements but “it’s complicated” generally assumes that cutting or restricting high-speed traffic is not an option. I say we should make that the first option.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Are you saying we could never put some kind of barrier on the centerline? …” leifsdad

If it was me deciding, I’d have some kind of alternatives to the bridges current configuration. Could be a line of jersey barriers dividing opposite directions of traffic. Can you believe that around, I think, ’65 or so, Hwy 26 between Sylvan and Goose Hollow, only had guard rails on wooden posts? Some bad collisions helped move along the change to jersey barriers.

The St Johns Bridge is, plain and simple…abused by its use for excessively high speeds for its dimensions. This isn’t a federal highway freeway type bridge like the Fremont Bridge is, but in a sense, it’s that type of bridge that it’s being allowed to be used as.

Overriding fact though, relative to this collision, is that jersey barriers used as I described, wouldn’t have prevented this collision. Such barriers used to separate bike lanes from main lanes, could do that. That would create a riding situation somewhat like the on the I-205 freeway bridge protected bike lanes…safer, but far from wonderful.

This bridge should be managed in a way that allows it to be a good driving experience…and a good biking experience. Bring the speed limit down to 25. That’s fast enough to get traffic across the bridge without unduly affecting freight delivery time. Eventually though, a better answer may be to build an additional bridge.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

The lanes on SJB seem uncomfortably narrow to me (when I’m driving), but that narrowness doesn’t seem to have much impact on driving speeds. I don’t think the problem is just the DOTs, it’s the folks behind the wheels who dramatically underestimate their risks.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

The lanes might feel narrow, but there’s nothing to keep cars from crossing any of the solid paint stripes. Just imagine if some or all of the solid stripes had so much as a flexi-post on them every 20ft. Would that feel like you could get away with breaking the tires loose without hitting something?

eawrist
Guest
eawrist

When I see models proposed by many DOTs, I often see a design that starts with the assumption that all road users follow the rules of the road and are predictable, i.e. perfect drivers.

This is why many traffic engineers fail to provide safe designs. If everyone behaved according to ideals on shared roads, no design would be significantly better than the next. However, a culture currently exists where little benefit is given for safe behavior and virtually no penalty is given for a pattern of unsafe behavior. For example, instead of simulating cars driving perfectly between lines, have x number of cars drive down the bike lane based on observed behaviors in research. Based on research how many simulated drivers should be using cell phones (thus more likely to behave unpredictably)?

DOTs often simulate monolithic behavior of ideal worlds and point to lack of enforcement and unpredictable behavior as their problem, not their designs. Unpredictable behavior is predictable with probability and research. Designs can increase or decrease the probability of behavior. This is the disconnect that occurs between people using roads and those designing them.

Ted G
Guest
Ted G

Ok. So on a any two lane road, at any time, one car could cross over the yellow line and cause a head on accident. What would such a model suggest three DOTS do about that?

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Sweden’s approach was to put a barrier between oncoming lanes on two-lane roads. It apparently led to a dramatic reduction in lives lost on such roads.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Engineers use several factors and probability/statistics to decide how to make trade-offs between safety, cost, and performance. A wheel could come off at any time, but traffic volume, speed, and number of vulnerable users can be used to decide how much risk justifies how much infrastructure.

Then there is the desired mode share in the metro area, which depends on quality bike and walk infrastructure.

Bankerman
Guest
Bankerman

Great idea; put up barriers on the SJB and the thousands of other locations throughout the city where bikes need protection. And where will all of the money come from? Obviously not from the biking community.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Why should the biking community need to pony up money to protect themselves from drivers who are unable to control their vehicles? When you go into Home Depot are you required to wear an orange vest and a helmet to protect yourself from the lift operator?

Spiffy
Subscriber

I would hope that the money needed to protect vulnerable users from drivers would come from the drivers…

Toadslick
Subscriber

✅ Conflating “bicyclist” with “poor”
✅ Assuming that cyclists aren’t also car drivers
✅ Assuming that bicycle infrastructure must be privately funded

Anyone get a bingo?

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Pretty much nailed it. And that somehow, cyclists on the road are taking something from the drivers.

eawrist
Guest
eawrist

And yet everyone benefits from them. People driving don’t have to slow or be on the lookout because of the mixed traffic. People biking aren’t constantly in fear of their lives. People walking now have physical protection to walk at leisure. Safe design doesn’t just benefit the most vulnerable.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Infrastructure changes to provide protected space for cyclists and pedestrians.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

I’m not sure what you’re interested in pursuing on your own time, but I wonder if anybody may attempt an adverse possession of the two outside lanes by some flags and banners on the bridge. I know that it’s pretty easy to climb the bridge and hang banners and flags from the suspension cables, and that sounds like something a concerned citizen might try. It would be a coincidence if other folks had the same independent ideas. I expect folks remain inspired by the occupation of the bridge last year by some people that hung from it in harnesses for several days related to the arctic oil drilling.

Spiffy
Subscriber

where on my ballot do I vote for safe ODOT infrastructure changes?

Matt
Guest
Matt

My sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this fallen rider. It breaks my heart to say it but this does not surprise me one bit. I also used to ride across the Saint Johns Bridge several times a week, but always on the sidewalk. I tried the sharrow once soon after it was painted and that was enough for me. Absolutely terrifying. It makes me so mad that ODOT pays lip service to safety. These sharrows are worse than doing nothing. I hope a law suit will result from this.

Champs
Guest
Champs

I’ll take my chances with humans over a freak wind sending me over those low guardrails.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Indeed. It’s a lousy choice no matter which way you go. All the more reason for protected bike lanes. How many more deaths will it take for that to happen?

Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

ODOT OUT OF PORTLAND.

Matt Garrett would be behind bars in a sane society. He is deeply complicit in the needless deaths of multiple people, not to mention his role in the $175-million-wasting corruption surrounding the CRC.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

As some form of satire, I suppose your remarks represent humor to somebody. If you’re suggesting them as any approximation of truth, in this country and this state of Oregon, they’re wrong, and at best, are little more than blatant and unjustified animosity.

Why do remarks of the type such as this one of yours, stand on this weblog? I just get through reading someone else’s comment to this weblog, expressing great objection to the generally very poor quality, mean and angry comments typical of the Oregonian’s oregonlive comment sections…and then I come to find remarks such as this one of yours, posted to bikeportland’s comment section.

It’s dishonorable to post the kind of completely unfounded and unjustified, malicious attacks you have, against ODOT or its director.

Spiffy
Subscriber

how many deaths are generally allowed to happen on property you oversee for your job?

for most people that number is zero…

it should be zero for all people…

I’m not sure that I know of a job where deaths are an allowable result and the people in charge of the facility don’t make any changes to prevent it from happening again…

so, no, their remarks were not out of line, and the upvotes seem to support it…

Chris Anderson
Guest
Chris Anderson

Matt Garrett is definitely the problem, not the solution.

HJ
Guest
HJ

Sadly I’m not at all surprised. I used to ride the SJB every week going to and from tuesday night racing at PIR. It’s awful. I tried the sidewalks my first time over, never again. With the wind up there they’re even scarier than taking your chances with traffic. Worst part is the whole thing is totally fixable by just adding bike lanes. Since the traffic bottlenecks with that bridge are never because of the bridge itself there’s no reason ODOT couldn’t do it. They just don’t want to.
Unfortunately my prediction that sooner or later someone would die as a result has finally happened 🙁 My sincere condolences to the rider’s family, that’s a special hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

dan
Guest
dan

I recall that Amanda Fritz seemed to have an impact by suing ODOT about the stretch of road where her husband died. I would be happy to contribute to crowdfunding a similar lawsuit about the St. Johns Bridge. Ray Thomas, are you out there? How much would we need to raise to bring such a suit?

J_R
Guest
J_R

I’m not a fan of Amanda Fritz, but she did NOT sue ODOT.

dan
Guest
dan

Thanks for pointing that out – you are correct. She sued two drivers involved (one as an individual, and the employer of the other) and ODOT offered a pre-emptive settlement, apparently because they thought they would lose any suit that was brought. Details here:

So she took a settlement from ODOT, but never actually filed a suit, though clearly ODOT assumed she was heading that direction.

dan
Guest
dan

Hmm, I guess the way that links are handled has changed. Details of Amanda Fritz’s 1.45 M settlement from ODOT are here: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/12/portland_commissioner_amanda_f_14.html

For the record, I think that Amanda’s husband’s death received much more high-level attention than when Joe Blow cyclist is killed — which I feel is very unfair — but I don’t have any issues with her bringing lawsuits. Apparently that’s what you have to do to get change these days.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I am with you Champs. I first rode St johns bridge in 1953, on the road, not the sidewalk. This is at the request of my dad, also a cyclist. It is for the same reason you described.
I do not commute on the bridge but I ride it at least 8 times a year. I have continually been used as a moving target by speeders racing across the bridge. I have complained to ODOT and PPB for years about the total lack of speed enforcement on the bridge.
At least a flashing radar sign (red for over 35). I know that the Public prosecutors could never be bothered with prosecution of speeders let alone killing a vulnerable user.
The prosecuters would need to hire a consulting firm and pay them $50 million to $200 million dollars to make a decision on what charges to bring.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Guys, Guys. That bridge is fueled by excessive speed and motorist entitlement. I’ll be over here thinking about Vision Zero.

NG
Guest
NG

If anyone has an old, out of commission bicycle, perhaps it can be donated so that we can install a “ghost bike” on the west end of the bridge?

I am so sad to hear about this. I live in St. Johns and have only ridden my bike across once — and it was super sketchy… both on the sidewalk and the sharrow lane. I wish this bridge, and the car and truck drivers on it, could be more friendly to cyclists.

Also, I believe the St. Johns community is getting sick and tired of the bridge and our neighborhood streets being used as an alternative thoroughfare for truckers. I’d be curious though if there is any community organizing going on though.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

On the plus side, it sounds like the bridge can be fixed with some paint. Now that someone has died, maybe PBOT can be convinced to take action.

PomPilot
Guest
PomPilot

Too bad PBOT does not the authority to do anything with the SJB, since it is an ODOT maintained bridge. And as those of us in the non-urban parts of the state can attest, Salem often looses sight of things beyond their windows.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I;m amazed. The police arrested a sober driver for hitting a cyclist.

http://www.kgw.com/news/local/bicyclist-killed-on-st-johns-bridge/344186825

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Now that is a surprise.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Yes the motorist has been charged, but the prosecutor has not decided if the cyclist was fair game or not.
he will probably be actually charged with a non prosecutable conspiracy charge with the motorist whose vehicle the cyclist wound up under.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I will just point out the difference here between the person driving the bald tired SUV here and Wanda Cortese piloting her minivan into Christeen Osborn on Hwy 101. No hesitation whatsoever to charge with criminally negligent homicide (!) in this case, but in Wanda Cortese’s case, as far as we know, just a $256 ticket for failing to maintain lane. The physical differences in the two scenarios could hardly be more similar, yet the charges are night and day.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

If you’ve got police statements about the collision Cortese was involved in, compare them to the police statements for this collision on the St Johns Bridge, posted to this bikeportland story. I think the statements may show there may be big differences in evidence able to have been acquired in the two collisions, allowing more serious citations to issued in just one, rather than both of them.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I meant to write physical circumstances not physical differences.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

With this collision on the St Johns Bridge, apparently the police have statements from the person driving, conceding he was driving with bald tires and knew his vehicle had very little traction. What about in the collision involving Cortese? No similar concession from her in the police statement about that collision. The two collisions and the circumstances of each, physical and otherwise were very different from each other, as I recall.

The police seem to have strong reason to suspect Joel Aaron Schrantz, the person driving and involved in this collision, was, in words that come to my mind, ‘horsing around’. In other words, he likely was well aware that the vehicle he was driving was an old heap, and that if he gunned it around the corner, he could have some fun…’whe-e-e-!’, sliding the rear end of the vehicle out, like stunt guys do on tv.

Cops never were able to learn why Cortese’s vehicle left the road and ran into somebody. Correct in your recollection from stories and police statements from the time, several years ago now, or more it seems? No indication she was DUI. No indication she was driving excessively fast. The police could not come up with grounds to cite her for a more serious offense than she got. Disturbing, but that’s the way it sometimes is.

I don’t want to sound too harsh on Joel Aaron Schrantz, because eventually someday, there should be hope that he’ll be able to become a considerably more responsible person than he is today…but after this most recent collision, and even on the severity of early ones he’s been involved in…Schrantz behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, seems to have all the makings of a rolling disaster area. For the foreseeable future, he should not be allowed, or given any opportunity to operate a motor vehicle.

9watts
Guest
9watts

We’ve had these conversations before.
I (still) don’t understand why leaving one’s lane and striking someone with the automobile one is piloting that results in their death or near death isn’t on its face—without recourse to any extenuating circumstances such as the condition of the tires or the veracity of the driver’s statements—quite enough to show that the person behind the wheel failed to exercise the necessary and legally required precautions.
Curves, straight road, high speed, not-high speed, daylight, night time, tire tread depth, transmission slip, why does any of this matter when it comes to the kind of charge we think is immediately issuable?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

This 42-year-old grown boy has been given opportunities to grow up before and has spurned them. I don’t think he’s going to turn into a mature driver in this decade.

Spiffy
Subscriber

it can happen… I’m a reformed driver… and I never had to kill anyone to learn…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Was your resume like this?

1 conviction hit & run
11 convictions driving with a suspended license
8 convictions driving without insurance
2 convictions speeding
2 convictions operating without required lighting
2 convictions failure to signal
1 conviction unauthorized use of a vehicle
1 conviction failure to renew auto registration
1 conviction failure to obey a traffic control device
1 conviction operation without a rearview mirror
1 conviction failure to drive within a lane

I have to seriously wonder how he was CAUGHT so many times.

Spiffy
Subscriber

as many or more driving on a suspended license charges… stemming from speeding, but they always dropped the speeding charges and left me with only the suspended license charges… after a few they result in a couple days in jail…

a few lack of insurance tickets… maybe a registration ticket…. generally had to have insurance to get the registration so I didn’t stand out enough to get pulled over and arrested for driving while suspended…

arrested so many times for driving while suspended that the booking agent commented that I was making a career out of it… just got back in my car after they let me out…

I had a 2 hour commute to work each way so I was going to keep driving unless they made it impossible…

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Bear in mind…those are the times he was caught. How many times did he do something and NOT get caught? Probably about 99% more.

Greenkrypto
Guest
Greenkrypto

Lets not forget identity theft and vehicle theft. While they’re not motor vehicle violations, they do show his disregard for others…which he ultimately proved on Saturday

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

I am sorry but asking cyclists to ride in lanes so narrow as to offer no escape from traffic moving at 35mph is by definition negligent. This death was completely predictable. Had it been for the fact most cyclists use the sidewalks there would have been countless others killed here over the years.

The fact that this is a freight route only underscores my point.

Davebob
Guest
Davebob

Prosecutors, please, please, please make an example of this dangerous driver.

Davebob
Guest
Davebob

If you search the Internet on the suspect, it shows he was arrested in July 2014 by Portland Police for hit-and-run, reckless driving and identity theft.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How do we keep drivers like this from getting behind the wheel? This guy has had his license suspended before, and he still drove. Aside from cutting off his hands, what can we actually do to make sure he doesn’t get behind the wheel again?

Mark
Guest
Mark

Cut off his feet?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

We have the technology to make cars require a valid license and insurance before the engine can be started. Doubt that it will ever be implemented though.

brian
Guest
brian

In the state of Oregon gas station attendants could check for license & insurance prior to selling gas. I have proposed this before and lawmakers dismiss the idea

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

My credit cards have to be valid and not blocked to work. I have an electronic parking tag that has to be activated before I can get into my garage. My power bill has to be paid up for the lights to work. Many cars have vehicle immobilizers that disable the vehicle until it receives a code provided by transponder in the ignition key. What if the transponders stored your license & insurance info, which would need to be regularly validated for the key to work?

Greenkrypto
Guest
Greenkrypto

Yep, the 2014 arrest was due to his head-on collision with my car. He should never be allowed to drive again. I am surprised that he didn’t flee the scene again this time, as he did after plowing into my car while driving 40 mph around a corner near Pier Park

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Someone would be doing the citizens of Oregon a great service if they ensured that this guy never is able to hurt someone again. Sometimes, our laws are not sufficient to keep the rest of us safe.

ChrisL
Guest
ChrisL

@Greenkrypto Chris with KATU News. Can you give me a call? 503-231-4264 or cliedle@katu.com // Would like to chat regarding your 2014 hit & run.

Bob Heye
Guest

Bob Heye with KATU….Chris talked to you Sunday….checking to see if you might want to speak on-cam….please call 503-502-3843

Davebob
Guest
Davebob

According to several websites of arrest records, this same suspect was arrested in July 2014 by Portland Police for hit-and-run, reckless driving and identity theft.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Nothing about the westbound driver whose car ended up on top of the rider. The driver ran over him, but wasn’t speeding or distracted in any way?

lupin
Guest

The bicyclist was thrown off his bicycle into the westbound lane. It sounds like the driver had no opportunity to respond.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

A westbound rider was hit by an eastbound and then a westbound car. Why wouldn’t the westbound driver have been able to respond? Was he passing the cyclist on the right or following too closely in the same lane behind him? Either way, I’m suspicious as to whether that driver was following the law or just not being wantonly reckless and thus they’ve been absolved of creating part of the condition that killed someone.

35mph is 52ft/s where 45mph is 67ft/s and maybe the road was wet? Was this really the *one* careful driver travelling at a speed appropriate to the conditions? Odds are against it.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

There are two westbound lanes, and at the west end of the bridge, they split so that left lane goes south towards Portland, and the right lane goes north towards Sauvie’s island. When I ride the bridge and want to go towards Portland, I occupy the left lane of the two westbound in order to make the turn towards Portland. The left lane is adjacent to the on-coming turning traffic heading east over the bridge.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

Additionally, the right lane almost never has a stop sign, so westbound traffic turning right is moving at a good clip (20 mph or better probably) around the corner while left-lane traffic may be stopped or (in the case of newly minted green light) just starting up. This disparity means that the westbound driver likely had no opportunity to respond when Mitchell York was ping-ponged under the wheels.

Stph

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I have my doubts about “no opportunity”. If you see an out-of-control vehicle heading toward a person on a bike in the lane next to you, and you’re not distracted or driving too fast for conditions, there might be a chance. My point is that we generally don’t treat people like they are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and the report seems overly dismissive about the role of the second vehicle, especially since that seems to be what killed him.

Spiffy
Subscriber

the assailant’s vehicle could have been 2nd in line and thus only came into view as it was sliding out of its lane sideways into the cyclist and smacking the cyclist into the far lane where traffic isn’t as slow…

I don’t think much time passed (seconds) between the assailant hitting the corner too fast causing the skid and the cyclist being smacked into the path of the other vehicle…

lyle w
Guest
lyle w

There’s also the ‘tunnel vision’ or ‘locked in’ aspect to this, that psychologists describe. Where you’re witnessing something incredibly outside of the norm of what you’re processing all day long as you go through hundreds of rote actions… And so as you’re realizing how ‘out of the norm’ something is, witnessing it happen, your brain is processing it and dealing with it, and there’s a delay before you’re able to get back to your baseline and begin to respond with actions.

I know I see people frequently driving distracted, speeding… etc.. but let’s give this person the benefit of the doubt on this. Sounds like he was incredibly traumatized from some other descriptions of people that were there immediately after it happened.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

If you feel bad and you didn’t do it on purpose, but you broke a law and someone is dead, are you at fault? Maybe the second driver was not speeding or distracted, but it sounds like most people are giving them a break because well, most people could have been that second driver, adjusting the radio or something.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I always think of that as “Cover Your Future Butt Syndrome.” When we excuse or minimize someone else’s negligent or bad behavior because we want the same out in case our own future possible negligent or bad behavior gets us in hot water one day. CYFBS is epidemic in the US. “Nobody’s perfect!” Shrug! That horrid attitude persists, even when someone dies. Jeez. Glad to see they (the authorities) are at least (seemingly) taking this tragedy a little more seriously.

So sad about this. Poor man.

Bankerman
Guest
Bankerman

Victim blaming.

HJ
Guest
HJ

I’m guessing the westbound driver may have been in the other lane, cyclist got thrown right in front of the car, nothing the driver can do.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

OK Adam. Maybe ODOT may be convinced to widen the sidewalks to 8 foot with a third lane in the middle, so trucks can play chicken in the middle lane :=) Leave the current sidewalk and put a 6 inch rise on the pavement for a bike lane to give the cars a line they do not want to cross. Put 6″ spikes on the curb edge for tires going into the bike lane.

dbrunker
Guest
dbrunker

I ride over the St. John’s Bridge a few times a month to do an out-and-back on Highway 30. It’s the worse part of the ride. Even with a helmet mounted mirror I always prepare myself for death when going over the bridge. That’s not hyperbole.

lyle w
Guest
lyle w

The crazy thing is, I’ve recently started skipping the portion of 30 from downtown to the St. John’s bridge, because that’s the part of the highway out to Sauvie that feels the most sketchy to me. So, naturally, unless you wanna climb all the way up to skyline, the bridge is the way to do that. And then this happens.

Feels like there’s no route out there that’s reasonable and makes me feel safe that doesn’t involve putting my bike on top of my car and driving out.

Teddy
Guest
Teddy

This is horrible to read about and not something you expect to happen. I find it enlightening to read differing views points on this bridge, thank you. When I lived in Portsmouth I felt safer dominating the sharrow lane instead of hugging the sidewalk like many cyclists.

Rich Mackin
Guest
Rich Mackin

Any movement to making a protest or memorial ride?

DNF
Guest
DNF

Any word on a protest? I would love to shut the bridge down at 5pm on a Friday. This is my neighborhood and I’m tired of the “why are you biking there” attitude from so many people. Take back the bridge!

Angel
Guest

You mean open the bridge up? To people? Like on bikes and stuff?

Angel
Guest

Let’s do it.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

I am all for civil disobedience but I think the recent BLM protests near city hall (which disrupted MAX/Bus during the evening commute) made a lot more enemies than allies. Like in SF when they blocked the Bay Bridge. The response was overwhelmingly negative.

Lets not be antagonistic to the very people who likely on our side. It is not he commuters who wanted that bridge two travel lanes in each direction, it was the freight lobby.

Spiffy
Subscriber

hater gonna hate… protest or not we’re not making friends… they’ll hate either way so I say get in their face and make them think about it…

BLM protests affected my commute… so I was a little later, big deal, their cause is bigger than my dinner schedule…

shut down every road in town until all the social injustices are dealt with… we’ll all be on bikes and we’ll care a lot more about each other…

Brian
Guest
Brian

I felt the same way, and then had a realization. Some people who were running late were probably trying to get to jobs (that they can’t be late for or else risk firing) or were trying to pick up their children.

Spiffy
Subscriber

the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

maybe if the employer is constantly dealing with employees late due to social activism then maybe they’ll start thinking about social activism and how they can help so their employees are on-time…

or they’ll hire somebody with a shorter or more reliable commute…

christopher
Guest
christopher

This is so frustrating. Hashtag #portlandsucksforcycling Condolences to the family. It’s time to take back the road. It’s time to take back the trails. Ride everything.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The dregs of humanity over there.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

The O has no filter for hate speech on their website. I hold them responsible.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

Lol their most loyal readers and the majority of their clicks. Bunch of hot heads. The O can’t even state to obvious, that Hillary is the only reasonable choice for president, for fear of alienating those jerks.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The O does a bad job of editing its readers’ comments for quality. Allows people to simply be mean and angry rather than make efforts to have a constructive discussion. Let that be an opportunity, and some people will take advantage of it, discouraging the likelihood that other people will take the time or effort to try have a good discussion in such an adversarial situation.

Spiffy
Subscriber

their writers get extra credit for creating comment threads… that’s why they usually post the first comment asking a question…

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

It’s not that they get paid extra. They’re actually contractually required to make those posts. I have a friend who worked used to work there.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

You can tell some of them (probably all) hate it, too. What a high school the world’s become. I would like journalists to be able to concentrate on important things. Like journalism.

Chris Anderson
Guest
Chris Anderson

The trick is to screenshot hate speech next to high dollar branded ads. Then confront the advertiser in public. Worked for WWeek.

Greenkrypto
Guest
Greenkrypto

The driver in this incident is an irresponsible idiot. He plowed into my car head-on, 2 years ago, while speeding around a corner near Pier Park. After wrecking my car, $5000 damage, his first reaction was to back up and fled the scene. I eventuality identified him at a police line up and he was arrested. Sadly, it seems, someone had to die before this jerk gets put in jail for any length of time.

rick
Guest
rick

Where near Pier Park?

Greenkrypto
Guest
Greenkrypto

Yes

Blake
Guest

I have ridden the lane, and it is terrible. ODOT is to blame and I hope they will be held liable. My own experience with the (uselessness of the) sidewalks: I got a flat tire at the bottom of Germantown Road. I walked up to the bridge knowing I could get my tire fixed if I just walked across the bridge on the sidewalk. My decision: walk to downtown Portland instead.

rick
Guest
rick

Is it that bad walking along that sidewalk?

Teddy
Guest
Teddy

It can be a bit unnerving due to height, noises, and vibrations, but I enjoy the walk especially when the fog is thick.

Angel
Guest

Yes, absolutely.

HJ
Guest
HJ

For a cyclist in road shoes not really a rational option. They are difficult at best to walk in (without huge wind gusts hitting you!) and you grind down the cleats with every step. Which causes the risk of pulling out of the pedals while riding which can lead to very nasty crashes.
If it were a real short span I could see making that decision, but there’s nothing short about that bridge. It’s 2067 ft (630 m) long.

J_R
Guest
J_R

If your “road shoes” hamper you so much that you can’t walk half a mile, maybe you have the wrong choice of footwear for urban riding. There are all kinds of emergencies that could cause you to walk. If you are so concerned about wearing down the cleats and pulling out of them maybe you should just get new shoes and cleats every few months.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Going for a walk, one probably wouldn’t wear road shoes. Why don’t drivers have these problems with pushing their cars across the bridge wearing heels?

dan
Guest
dan

Different strokes for different folks, I think the sidewalk is fine to walk, and acceptable (not fun) to ride, though you have to go very slowly (walking speed) around a few areas where structural elements of the bridge run through the sidewalk. I always assume there is a pedestrian in the blind spot around the corner and adjust my speed accordingly.

95% of the time I ride the sidewalk because the lane just doesn’t feel safe to me; that may be getting closer to 100%.

rick
Guest
rick

Angered, outraged, and saddened.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

As a cyclist in St Johns, I offer the following observations.
Traffic volume has increased substantially in the past few years all over Portland. SJ is no different. Near gridlock conditions occur most weekday evenings as the majority of users over the often backed onto US30 head to I5 and points North and East. In short, the SJ bridge is an alternative to i5.
Dedicated in 1931, It featured single lanes in each direction, no sidewalks. Since then, narrow sidewalks are added and the single lanes have been split to 4 10ft lanes. ODOT has long refused to any design mods to the bridge to facilitate any other mode than motor traffic. Only recently, sharrows were added after prolonged pressure. Access to the bridge from westbound US30 requires a fair amount of luck or chicanery. Lets play frogger across 2 lanes of high speed rush hour traffic!
The reality of the bridge includes a long east ramp,nearly 2/3rds of the total length of the bridge. Slogging up the east side is slow and invites road rage, while heading down the east side can allow speeds near the 35mpg limit. You still will have a car on your butt wanting you to go faster.
Safe access to the SJ bridge was my class project at the PCC Portland transportation class in 2002.Little has improved.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

oops.. PSU transportation class..

Teddy
Guest
Teddy

I am surprised the two lanes to access the bridge from the south to head north into Saint Johns narrows down to one just before the traffic light..

DNF
Guest
DNF

I think it primarily serves the purpose of keeping the congestion off of Highway 30.

Bradwagon
Guest
Bradwagon

I have seen multiple cars this fall intentionally accelerate out of intersection corners to slide their vehicle sideways. Not that that’s what happened here but I hope people who do such stupid maneuvers and think them harmless at the time start thinking about where it is they are sending their uncontrollable car…

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Just happened to me, minutes ago, as I turned into our driveway. I was driving the speed limit in front of the guy but people regularly go 20 mph over the limit on SE 26th, nowadays. He fishtailed and did a huffy little “VROOM!” in his truck to punish me. I’m duly chastened (not). Stupidest part is that he had to stop immediately after his grand gesture, at the four-way intersection of Clinton and 26th. People honk their horns more and more at folks driving the speed limit here. It’s gotten crazy, everywhere. DESPERATE for some enforcement.

Angel
Guest

Invite ODOT.

Newberry
Guest
Newberry

Again it is time to look at GPS controlled speed limiters that initiate in the metro area.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Why take chances. Just ride on the sidewalk.

HJ
Guest
HJ

Have you ridden the sidewalk on that bridge? It’s even scarier than the road with traffic!

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

I have ridden both. They both suck. But the danger on the sidewalk is mainly psychological, due to the proximity to the edge and the relatively irrational fear of falling into the river. The danger from the street is real and tangible, from cars speeding next to the cyclist with no margin for error whatsoever . The safest of two bad options is to ride on the sidewalk.

TJ
Guest
TJ

Until you see the photos of cars that have breached the sidewalk this year alone.

fourknees
Guest
fourknees

Problems with drivers leaving the roadway are not just this bridge either. Sidewalks are not safe either. Off the top of my head recall:
– Pedestrian killed on Burnside bridge when car went up on sidewalk
(http://bikeportland.org/2015/06/15/enough-enough-another-death-must-spur-real-action-144397)
– Hawthorne bridge railing broken due hit and run.
(http://bikeportland.org/2016/03/11/repairs-to-hawthorne-bridge-path-follow-damages-from-hit-and-run-crash-177579)

JBone
Guest
JBone

On a windy day the sidewalk is a very bad idea, unless you want to walk it. I usually ride/walk the side walk uphill, then hop down to the road on the downhill pushing 30 mph, but I still have cars wizzin by at 50+mph. There have been multiple times I have been in the left lane climbing and the approaching driver did not switch lanes within 50 yards of me, forcing me to hop off and up onto the sidewalk (good cross practice:) Protected bike lanes are the only way to go.

In the meantime, at minimum, I suggest ODOT immediately:
1) install big signs at both ends of bridge educating drivers that cyclist have full legal right to left lane, even if going significantly below the speed limit.
2) install speed signs that flash driver speed in 2 locations each way.

Additionally, PPD should have very consistent enforcement in place.

SD
Guest
SD

I ride over the SJB frequently in the summer. I have ridden both on the sidewalk and on the road going west and on the road going east. Both options are sketchy and I usually make the decision when I get there. I take into consideration things like traffic, visibility and time of day. Most of the time I will ride on the road.

This decision is mostly influenced by a few bad experiences on the sidewalk. I have been surprised by wind gusts that brought me close to the sidewalk edge and I have encountered families with strollers that were uncomfortable when I passed them, despite me walking my bike. Also had a large man yell that I shouldn’t be on the sidewalk when he was arms length away from me. I was unclipped and scooting. The height of the drop from the sidewalk to the road would make it hard to keep control of your bike if you went off the edge.

My biggest concern about riding on the road is that a speeding overtaking car will go around me at the last minute and the speeding car behind them will not “see” me in time to avoid hitting me.

I don’t feel it is my place to tell people that they should be on the road or the sidewalk. There is no clear “right choice.” It depends a lot on the rider and what they are comfortable with. Most cyclists that I see when I ride on the weekends ride in the road. The east bound lane feels safer because cars go slower on the initial stretch and a cyclist can go close to the posted speed limit on the downhill.

What is clear is that ODOT/ Matt Garett made a horrible decision when they went with a road design that maximizes speed at the expense of every thing else. The disconnect between the 35mph speed limit and the road design shows the immense denial/ cluelessness at ODOT.

ODOT’s repeated refrain that driver behavior, death and injury on roads is independent of road design is a refusal to do their jobs.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I have to say, I kinda love the sidewalk. Just for the views.

esther2
Guest
esther2

I would think the solution for the St John’s bridge would be fairly simple. 3 lanes of traffic and one lane a divided bikeway separated with a solid barrier.

The middle lane could go in either direction, according to traffic flow. Into the city during the am, and towards st johns in the afternoon.

TJ
Guest
TJ

I do agree from a desire perspective. But STJ Bridge has changed dramatically in the past two years. While three lanes of auto/bus/freight travel might work today, an alternative bridge is needed.

Also good to note, buses are already slowed hugely at rush hour. It is not just bikes and pedestrian, North Portland needs improved transportation option across the board.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…an alternative bridge is needed. …” tj

Yes…a bridge in addition to the St Johns bridge, near to that crossing would be a solution. Either an additional bridge to be used with motor vehicles, or one exclusively used by walking, biking, and mass transit, such as the Tillikum Crossing. Cost: $134.6 million.

Architecturally, the St Johns is very beautiful. Probably higher maintenance than a newer designed and constructed bridge. It’s most likely inevitable that a new bridge will eventually be built in this area. Just a question of when.

Bankerman
Guest
Bankerman

ODOT claims 4 lanes are needed to accommodate the slow truck traffic as they climb towards the summit. One solution put forth in 2002 was to start with 3 lanes at each end, 2 for uphill traffic and 1 for downhill. Then have the 2 uphill lanes merge into one near the summit, and continue with one lane to each end. Removal of the 4th lane would allow a bike lane on both sides.

Spiffy
Subscriber

no… that will just cause people to race for the merge… needs to start and end as 1 lane…

q
Guest
q

Seattle has that with its reversible-direction freeway express lanes. But those have complete separation from other traffic. It had it on the old floating bridge, where traffic lanes weren’t separated, and it was deadly, even with signals everywhere. One person used to crossing at 8 AM comes in late one day, drives in the center lane out of habit, and plows into someone because the direction changed a half hour before. It’s a good idea in concept, but rarely practical.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

It’s not just the bridge. Getting to or from the bridge on the west side is “advanced riding” on Hwy 30 or Germantown Rd. The east side is fine.

Angel
Guest

I’m an advanced rider, been riding forever.

I won’t ride dirty thirty, I have enough experience to know it wasn’t designed with people on bikes in mind.

Cycledadpdx
Guest
Cycledadpdx

A few questions/thoughts:
1) ODOT has the distinct pleasure of trying to keep an old
Infrastructure in tact while a trimet bus load of people move into Portland daily. They don’t really seem like an organization who is is very forward thinking or innovative. Just reactionary.
2) How do you enforce behavior?
3) If we want enforcement and infrastructure change where is the money coming from?

brotherfromanothermother
Guest
brotherfromanothermother

I’m not sure how long Portland can claim top cycling city after this many deaths and injuries. Been here for two years and it’s by far the worst city I’ve ever commuted in. Both from an infrastructure POV and attitude of motorists towards cyclists. All that BS I read about this place before moving was all MYTH!

Sad, very sad.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Hype by tourist promotion agencies, city and state. Pedal Oregon, Cycle Oregon, Oregon Scenic Bikeways, Pedal Bike Tours…. There’s a million of ’em.

SD
Guest
SD

The real bummer is that the number of people interested in riding and dedicated to riding is huge in Portland. Most elected and appointed officials have underestimated demand and overestimated backlash. Not to mention the disproportionate access and influence that freight has with state and local govt.

KTaylor
Guest
KTaylor

FWIW, it did used to be better. I’ve been bike commuting here since 1993 – – used to be a great way to get around.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Yes, it was. Portland of today bears no resemblance to what it was. Too. Many. People. I dream of some other city becoming the idealized It Girl of the ravenous FOMO lifestyle hordes.

Chadwick F
Guest
Chadwick F

So sorry to hear of this. A knot of sickness in my stomach as this could have been me or any of my friends or former neighbors or co-workers at Powell’s. My heart goes out to this person’s family & friends.

Craig Giffen
Guest
Craig Giffen

Any protest needs to happen at ODOT and/or outside PBOT..the people directly responsible for making change.

Holding a protest/shutting down the bridge isn’t going to change anything. No driver is going to think “wow, I should slow down and completely change my driving habits” If anything it is going to piss them off even more. The drivers are not going to change on their own. They will only change when they are made to.

DNF
Guest
DNF

If you go to the St Johns facebook page, you’ll see that there’s plenty of people blaming the cyclist for merely being there. ODOT needs to change but plenty of folks in the neighborhood need to take cyclists seriously. I’m happy to tie up *our* bridge for a few hours to make the point that we have a right to be safe on it, too.

Craig Giffen
Guest
Craig Giffen

That is my point. They are not going to take us seriously and shutting the bridge down for an hour will not change their opinion at all. They aren’t going to listen to cyclists nor change their behavior.

They however will listen when it becomes commonplace to get tickets for speeding, driving while on the phone, mandatory jail time for driving with a suspended license, etc. To do that we need to be in the face of the people making the actual decisions and laws.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

A large group in our community have been concerned about general safety in our community for some time. This is only one of may incidents that have occurred that include loss of life. This is not unique to St Johns, but a huge problem throughout our City. I agree that electeds and policy makers need to hear our voice about enforcement, design and equity in transportation. The outcry following the senseless death of Fallon Smart on Hawthorne recently illustrate that if you make the City move, they do. Left to their own, they will study it to death and find reasons to no do anything. ODOT is worse, on a much larger scale.
The old union slogan, “don’t mourn, organize” needs to be ours.

TJ
Guest
TJ

This.

Spiffy
Subscriber

“To do that we need to be in the face of the people making the actual decisions and laws.”

directly in front of them? in their way on the road? where they can’t ignore you? yes, we agree!

Spiffy
Subscriber

you stating that we shouldn’t further anger the mob that just killed one of us is laughable… we should be taking the bull by the horns and grounding it until it’s no longer a threat… we don’t just keep allowing the killing to continue because it’s convenient…

you should be ashamed for your complacency…

Craig Giffen
Guest
Craig Giffen

I could care less if car drivers get more pissed off…I’m saying you are just wasting your time in doing so by going after the wrong thing.

You want to “take the bull by the horns”…the “bull” is PBOT and ODOT, and here you are wanting to grab the wrong end.

Jessie
Guest
Jessie

Suspended license? Prior hit & run? I’m all for improving road infrastructure so biking is safer, but this guy is so obviously a danger to society we need him to be locked up and off the streets. And then we need to vote for more resources to be channeled into examining how and why a human being can get to the state where he lives his life with such complete disregard for others.

Spiffy
Subscriber

if nobody cares about you why would you care about others or what happens to you? it’s annoying when they’re asking your for spare change… it’s deadly when they’re driving on the same road as you…

brotherfromanothermother
Guest
brotherfromanothermother

Mike
Hype by tourist promotion agencies, city and state. Pedal Oregon, Cycle Oregon, Oregon Scenic Bikeways, Pedal Bike Tours…. There’s a million of ’em.
Recommended 0

Oregon is great to ride, spectacular in fact! It’s just Portland that I have a major problem with.

JCG
Guest
JCG

Bald tires and heavy throttle foot do not equal an “accident”. It was a preventable fatal crash and the responsibility lands squarely on the driver of the Toyota. Any comments putting even 1% of the blame on the cyclist are completely irresponsible and illogical.

As a TriMet busman, I see every day the aggressive and inattentive/ distracted (cell phone) driving that leads to this and other crashes, property damage, injuries, and deaths. I witness first hand from an elevated big screen viewpoint, the dozens of close calls and near misses involving cars, delivery trucks, pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers, etc.. In every case, there is one, or both of two common denominators, speed and inattentive/distracted (cell phone) driving in play. And yes, the cyclists and pedestrians need to not be aggressive, or inattentive as well. But neither group will cause the fatality of a driver if hit.

As ODOT and PBOT and an untold number of smaller citizen organizations continuously work to improve the roads, lanes and sidewalks we all travel on, all we can do is move amongst one another within the conditions at hand. Be conscious of the road conditions, weather, condition of your vehicle and all the different forms of traffic around you.

“It’s better to be late than to be in jail, in the hospital, or dead.”

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Accident means neither unpreventable, nor unattributable. It means unintentional. Unless you think the driver intended to hit the cyclist, it can be considered accidental, without contradicting the facts that driver intentionally undertook a dangerous course of action. The driver can still be 100% at fault, and 100% culpable.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

You’re being logical again.

Spiffy
Subscriber

I know you’re not new here and I know that you know that many (most?) people equate “accident” with “unpreventable”… you must be feeling feisty to have posted that…

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m not sure I agree. Look at other contexts in which accident is applied; it’s often used in the context of an airplane crash, and no one thinks those are unpreventable. And even in other every day contexts: “I threw the form away by accident” does not at all suggest that it would have been impossible not to throw the form away, nor does it shield the actor from culpability. It doesn’t even suggest the actor was not negligent in the act. It is simply a declaration that the outcome was unintentional, and, usually, regrettable.

I do try to say “crash” because I simply like it better (I prefer kinetic language), but I am getting kind of tired of the standard lecture posted in response to anyone who uses the a-word; it is based on an analysis that is simply not correct.

Spiffy
Subscriber

“it’s often used in the context of an airplane crash”

except that it’s almost never used in that context… their air travel industry tries very hard to avoid that term and tries very hard to make it so there is never a crash…

if there is a 1 in a million chance that something could cause a crash then they act to prevent it… that’s a very high threshold…

and why would I apply it to another context when it’s THIS context we’re talking about and you know that it’s use in the context of a motor vehicle crash is an assumed lack of ability to prevent said crash…

we don’t have accidental manslaughter… it’s negligence… it’s unintentional… but it’s not an accident…

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It’s somewhat of the official term as per the Convention on Civil Aviation. “Accidents and Incidents.”

http://www.iprr.org/manuals/Annex13.html

Angel
Guest

There’s more than one definition for the word “accident.” An internet search reveals that it can be a random/happenstance event without apparent cause.

Because the word “accident” can have this dual meaning, and because it is extremely inaccurate (to the point of painful, imo) to call something like this tragedy random/without apparent cause/happenstance, it may be more appropriate to use other, less ambiguous language that doesn’t have these implications.

Words such as “crash” and “collision” convey the same information without making potentially ambiguous implications about the circumstances surrounding this man’s death.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

HK is obsessed with semantics. It’s not worth the effort.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Perhaps so; but the whole argument about crash v. accident is based on semantics, no?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Our language is flexible and changes over time.

Rain Panther
Guest
Rain Panther

I don’t want to get sucked in again, but dangit I can’t help it. The fact that “accident” is technically correct by definition does not make it the most useful or constructive term in a given context. E.g., certain remarks made by a certain political candidate have been referred to as “locker room” banter- and while it may technically fall under that broad heading (at least in some locker rooms), it is not a particularly helpful and transparent use of language. At best, it is inexact and at worst, deliberately misleading.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I don’t claim it is “the most useful word”. I only claim that its use does not deserve a reprimand. I prefer crash and collision myself, generally.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

That’s why I like her. Someone has to bring the conversations back from being overly emotional. They have a tendency to assume the use of provocative words as normal.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

‘Crash’ isn’t provocative.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Groupthink is a dangerous thing, even if you agree with the issue.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

‘Groupthink’ is a provocative word for people who agree on common sense ideas.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

In my History of Government class, I read that JFK asked his brother to argue against him in meetings, in order to create space for others who might disagree, to avoid groupthink. A devil’s advocate plays an important role in any conversation.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Monty Python taught me that an argument isn’t just contradiction.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Yes it is.

Jonathan Gordon
Guest
Jonathan Gordon

So if I’m juggling chainsaws on a busy sidewalk, and I’ve dropped them before (never on purpose, mind you, but I’m not a very good juggler) and I just happen to drop one on someone I get to call that an accident?

There are quite a few different definitions of the word accident. Some of them include the word “unforeseen”. You can propose that the special definition you choose doesn’t include that notion but don’t act surprised when plenty of us disagree. It’s a loaded word and to pretend otherwise at this point seems silly.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Just saw this commercial on TV.

This is how car companies are encouraging people to drive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXUVQn1Mcnk

setha
Guest
setha

I clicked the link. It led to the Dodge Charge when it rains it roars ad. Youtube incremented the view count for the ad because I clicked on it. I’m guessing that the people who own the ad think that more views is a positive thing. To try to make up for the extra view I gave it a downvote. But I’m also guessing that the ad owners don’t care about downvotes.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’ll summarize so more people don’t need to see it:

It’s dark and the rain is pouring. There are large puddles in the road. So naturally, the driver stomps on the pedal as hits the apex around a corner and sends water spraying 15 feet into the air as he speeds down a city street at 40-50mph on the wrong side of the road.

Tag line: When it rains, it roars.

We don’t have gun commercials on TV, but I have to wonder what they would look like if they were similar to car commercials?

ZFG
Guest
ZFG

Don’t watch much TV, but you must be new to this phenomenon because it’s been going on since.. forever! I can remember way back in the 80 VW used to “encourage” people to jump their GTI’s.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

I’m not new to it, just more aware of it lately. They basically encourage people to drive in a manner known to kill people by the thousands, with small disclaimers at the bottom. Do we advertise anything else this way?

Spiffy
Subscriber
Peter Hass
Guest
Peter Hass

What a sad event. I feel so much sorrow for the victims family, friends and love ones. I heard he was 55…same age as me…and he rode a lot…same as me. I don’t usually have to cross the St. Johns bridge but it sounds very unpleasant and of course, dangerous. I think of my own commute across the Burnside bridge and the thin white line separating me from fast moving cars and trucks passing a foot off my shoulder. I do my best to manage the risks but I want our city/state to do more to improve safety and lower the risks we all face. And do it soon.

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

Please. Car commercials have nothing to do with this tragedy. Let’s keep the blame on the idiot behind the wheel.

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Car commercials are designed to influence human behavior. That’s why companies pay millions to get them on the air or online. So please don’t tell me that a car commercial cannot influence human behavior in a negative and dangerous manner. And that is absolutely relevant to this tragedy.

Matt Meskill
Subscriber
Matt Meskill

Car commercials contribute to the car-centered culture we live in. They most certainly play a part in tragedies like this. Of course the focus and blame are on this motorist but the culture of car advertising definitely contributes.

Chad
Guest
Chad

The solution to making this bridge safer for vulnerable users while still maintaining necessary vehicle capacity already exists. If ODOT were willing to look north to Vancouver Canada and the Lions Gate Bridge.

https://www.google.com/maps/@49.3147735,-123.1392393,3a,75y,44.58h,87.98t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sb2mkihiWwbCAADXaAI5mWg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

It’s an older, historic bridge connecting suburbs to Stanley Park and downtown Vancouver. Jersey barriers protect both sidewalks and the lanes are reversible so that inbound traffic still gets two lanes in the morning rush and outbound gets two lanes in the afternoon. They could even make the bridge one-way in a time of evacuation or extreme traffic pressures.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

I’ve often wondered what it would cost and whether it were feasible to cantilever cycling and pedestrian lanes outside the cables. Nice to see someone has managed it on another similar bridge.

eawrist
Guest
eawrist

Or, as the bridge above, have three lanes dedicated for cars with signals to switch the center lane based on time. One lane fully dedicated to bicycles with a continuous physical barrier.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

We don’t even need to go to that level of complication. The traffic bottleneck for this bridge are the signals at each end, not the throughput at mid-span. Single lanes in each direction that widen to two just after mid-span will provide the same traffic capacity and instantly eliminate most cases of reckless driving on the bridge. A few speed cameras on the downhill sections would be a good idea. This would free up enough room to stripe 4.5ft wide bike lanes in each direction. Sub-standard, for sure, but it would be a huge improvement.