Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

One year after we mourned Mitch York on the St. Johns Bridge, another person has died at the same intersection

Posted by on November 9th, 2017 at 9:56 am

ODOT traffic cam view of the crash. Arrow points to Ford pick-up hit by speeding Kia driver.

A 71-year-old man died Saturday night while driving on the St. Johns Bridge. Keizer resident John Crook was the 41st person to die on Portland roads this year (we had 35 deaths at this time last year).

Crook’s death comes one year after hundreds of Portlanders biked onto the bridge and held a vigil for Mitch York, who was killed by a reckless driver at the same intersection.

In Saturday’s collision, police say Crook was driving a Kia Optima westbound on the bridge “at a high rate of speed” and failed to stop for the red light at Bridge Avenue. Crook ran into someone driving a Ford F-150. The impact from the collision was so powerful that the truck — at nearly twice the size of the small Kia — flipped over and landed off the roadway on its roof. The two people inside the truck sustained what police call “non life-threatening injuries” (a term that bothers me, because it glosses over what could be horrific, life-altering injuries).

This crash underscores that the design of the St. Johns Bridge, that advocates have been concerned about for many years, is unsafe for everyone. People drive dangerously on the bridge in part because the design lets them. The Oregon Department of Transportation, who ignored recommendations (from the City of Portland, advocates, Metro, and engineering consultants) for a safer cross-section in 2005, has kept the bridge as a four-lane thoroughfare. The wide-open design gives drivers a false sense of security and encourages dangerous behaviors that put human lives at risk.

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The St. Johns Bridge looking west. (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

The St. Johns Bridge looking west.
(Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

Joel Schrantz, currently serving a 42-month prison sentence for killing Mitch York, also thought he could approach the bridge at a high rate of speed.

The time has come to re-think the lanes on the St. Johns Bridge. There’s no reason to have four standard lanes on the bridge when streets on both ends have only two. It’s unfair for ODOT to hide behind “freight interests” while so many people suffer from the negative impacts of the current bridge design.

Thankfully, activists have not forgotten about the need to update the bridge. While ODOT remains the big elephant in the room (or should I say dinosaur), there are rumblings of renewed activism around this bridge.

We’re in contact with a St. Johns resident who’s pushing for a Better Block-style demonstration project that would test a two-lane cross-section on weekends when traffic is light. A group of students in Portland State University’s Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program have also expressed interest in making the bridge safer.

We hope to have more to report soon. Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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89 Comments
  • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

    The St. John’s Bridge needs a road diet and speed cameras mid-span and at both ends. The speeding on our bridges is out of control.

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    • Jason H November 9, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      Speed cameras yes! But not just the ones that take a spot radar reading of velocity, but the paired ones they have in Europe that can read all vehicle plates on each end and calculate the AVERAGE speed between them by time. Tickets to anyone who’s time to cross is faster than a 35mph average. Speeds would plummet in weeks or less.

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  • Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

    St John’s Bridge really does need to be improved. But this is definitely a “choose your poison” sort of scenario.

    The resources it takes to bring an overtaxed 86 year old bridge that would do poorly in an earthquake are enormous and have to be considered with other priorities. However, this does strike me a good opportunity to examine the value of (and alternatives to) connecting two chokepoints with a dragstrip. Perhaps there is something that’s not crazy expensive that can be done at the ends that makes it a lot safer while addressing freight needs.

    With regards to the crash itself, have the police said what they think happened? A 71 y.o. slamming into the side of a truck at high speed sounds like it could very possibly be a medical issue or perhaps a case of stepping on the gas instead of the brake.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 9, 2017 at 10:29 am

      Hi Kyle,

      I haven’t heard anyone talk about a seismic retrofit at this point.

      And yes, there’s absolutely something inexpensive that could be done. We could restripe the lanes any number of ways. It could be done tomorrow.

      In a real vision zero city, and in a state that professess to care about safety as a top priority, we should not be putting freight access at the top of the pyramid here. And we should not assume that a change to the bridge lanes will have a negative impact to freight access. It’s not a zero-sum proposition. (not that you said it was, I’m just throwing that in there.)

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      • Stephen Keller November 10, 2017 at 3:27 pm

        A seismic retrofit was completed within the past decade.

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    • Paul Atkinson November 9, 2017 at 10:31 am

      I like this phrase, “connecting two chokepoints with a dragstrip.” It illustrates the safety issue rather effectively.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 9, 2017 at 10:35 am

        me too. I hope you don’t mind me stealing that one Kyle ;-).

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        • Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

          Feel free — just so happens that specific imagery was inspired by riding the St John’s Bridge when I was riding it sometime back 🙂

          People complain about the 35mph limit, but if only they’d go that slowly. I’ve found myself in “medium heavy” 50mph traffic there.

          Because of the bridge services a major industrial area, I think the freight argument is relevant. However, reasonable turning radiuses at the ends don’t require an extra lane for the entire span. That the bridge is faster than the areas it connects is by itself evidence the scarce space is being used very ineffectively.

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    • wsbob November 9, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      “…With regards to the crash itself, have the police said what they think happened? A 71 y.o. slamming into the side of a truck at high speed sounds like it could very possibly be a medical issue or perhaps a case of stepping on the gas instead of the brake.” bannerjee

      A medical issue is one possibility. Others come to mind as well. One, being that the person driving might just have decided to be like a wild-man to get his adrenaline up in a high speed race across the bridge.

      By the way, since no number has been assigned to the suspected ‘high rate of speed’, I wonder what people are guessing the speed traveled might have been. When I read the story last night, I thought something close to the same age of the person driving…like around 70mph. That rate of speed, especially if intentional, would be really stupid on the narrow lane confines of this bridge. I have to seriously wonder whether re-configuring the deck for fewer main lanes of travel, really can be effective at repelling the inclination to excessively speed, on the part of thrill drivers, intoxicated drivers, or people that have a medical emergency that brings them to behave strangely behind the wheel of the vehicle.

      Not exactly a bright note associated with a collision like this, but the collision is a testimony of sorts to the safety integrity of the tried and true Ford F-150 pickup. I’ll bet the occupants of that vehicle were thanking their lucky stars that positions weren’t reversed, and it was them in a dinky little import, hit at a high rate of speed by someone turning an F-150 into a battering ram against their vehicle.

      Collisions of this sort raise the old conundrum of people using disparate weight and size vehicles on the same road together. Maybe an answer to consider somewhat, is, on certain roads, nobody gets to drive anything larger than a small import sedan.

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  • dan November 9, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Why not a 3-lane cross-section where the middle lane reverses direction according to highest volume in morning / evening?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 9, 2017 at 10:27 am

      that’s a neat idea Dan.

      This is one of those scenarios where we don’t lack ideas and solutions… We lack the will — or the power – to implement them.

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    • Bjorn November 9, 2017 at 10:52 am

      no need to reverse the direction, ODOT’s own study showed that due to the lights at both ends that a full time 2 lanes one way 1 lane the other setup would have no impact on auto travel times.

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      • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 12:53 pm

        Or alternatively, 2 lanes on each end where the signals back up traffic, with one lane on the uphill leg. The roads feeding the bridge are one lane at a time.

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    • Evan Manvel November 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Back in the day, I think I remember the data showed the capacity limitations weren’t the number of lanes on the bridge, but the intersections at the ends. So moving it to one car lane in each direction wouldn’t have a significant impact to travel speeds. Maybe the data are outdated. And data aren’t as powerful as perceptions.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 9, 2017 at 11:10 am

        yes that’s right Evan. And yes the data won’t hold up in arguments anymore. That’s why it’s a good sign that PSU students are sniffing around this. And FWIW traffic volume data should not be the sole metric we consider. (not that you said it was, I’m just putting that out there).

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      • JeffS November 9, 2017 at 1:35 pm

        True, but halving the lanes going through that intersection further increases that bottleneck. I’m sure some would be thrilled at the prospect, but I fail to see how it increases safety that we are purporting to talk about. The idea that we need to re-engineer a roadway to solve the problem of a red light runner has me scratching my head.

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        • Bjorn November 9, 2017 at 1:56 pm

          actually according to ODOT that isn’t true. Their study showed that dropping to one lane didn’t matter at all in one of the directions, I believe it was westbound, because the signal at the other end was going to be the bottle neck regardless of if it was 1 or 2 lanes leading up to that light.

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          • Travis November 9, 2017 at 2:29 pm

            At 5:30pm west bound sharrow lane traffic backs-up to the second tower. At 8am west bound center lane traffic backs-up to the second tower. There’s got to be an option to improve the bottleneck at the Bridge Ave light, Germantown, and 30. The traffic on Ivanhoe and Bridge Ave is a non-factor. Literally one westbound bridge lane is backed-up for two hours a day, 5 days a week, and allows reckless behavior for 22 hours on weekdays and 48 on weekends.

            Or just close the lanes. Traffic would still be long ways off from backing into St. Johns.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy November 9, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      Because the added imposition of spending 60 seconds more on that bridge is unimaginable to some people.

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      • Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        They need to get to the jam on the other side ASAP…

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      • JBone November 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        Yeh, of all the places to speed. I can be cynical about mindfulness, but this is certainly one place as a motorist I can’t help but be in awe. All it would take is one officer and speed would go down and revenue would go up. (though, admittedly, I don’t know if it would even pay for itself as I have no idea the total costs of what it takes for officer time and judicial processing of tickets; but maybe they could make this a “safety zone” and double fines)

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        • Middle of the Road Guy November 10, 2017 at 8:09 am

          I’ve never understood speeding in beautiful areas. Like the morons tearing it up on Larch Mountain or the Historic Gorge Highway. Why?

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 10, 2017 at 8:20 am

            because they are immature children who are just doing what they see on car commercials

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty November 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

              I’m impressed by this sophisticated analysis.

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              • q November 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

                You don’t see drivers in Amsterdam speeding up and down mountain roads like they do here.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty November 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm

                This is true, but the Danes drive like complete nuts on their mountain roads.

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            • Merlin November 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm

              Exactly! If a car commercial depicts illegal and/or unsafe activity, that vehicle should not qualify for licensing on public highways. The vehicles should only be used by “professional drivers on a closed course” which is the fine print for all of those ads!!!

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          • Kyle Banerjee November 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

            This is one of the reasons I don’t trust maps to plan bike routes.

            If you’re riding to the coast, there are a bunch of very low traffic back roads that you would think would be both safe and scenic. However, they are never patrolled and a lot of people go for the Mario Andretti driving experience when they’re on them.

            I consider them very dangerous and would rather be on a highway where sightlines are better for motorists and cyclists alike and you have a better chance of taking evasive action in an emergency.

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            • Spiffy November 10, 2017 at 2:15 pm

              this is the problem with neighborhood greenways… the motor vehicle traffic that’s on them is speeding to get around congestion on other streets… but there’s not enough people for there to be any witnesses… sometimes I feel safer biking on Powell than I do on Woodward…

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    • abraham November 9, 2017 at 2:33 pm

      I’ve wanted this for years…

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  • Joe November 9, 2017 at 10:24 am

    speed limit is posted and looks like 35mph max.. 🙁 love riding this bridge but speeding cars still worry me

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    • dan November 9, 2017 at 10:30 am

      I ride the sidewalk here almost 100% of the time, the road just doesn’t feel safe to me.

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      • Gary B November 10, 2017 at 9:36 am

        I live nearby and rode the sidewalk for the first time recently. Had my infant on a seat behind me. I’m quite comfortable riding with traffic and in narrow bike lanes, but it was quite intimidating. I had to keep enough distance from the railing that my toddler isn’t trying to grab on, which put me uncomfortably close to the ledge and speeding traffic on my left.

        I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, as I thought looking at them the sidewalks were plenty wide. And of course once you embark on the bridge you kid of have to finish the journey. Needless to say, I won’t do it again with my child.

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        • Josh November 11, 2017 at 10:37 am

          Walking across on that sidewalk is unsettling as well. I walked across the St. Johns Bridge for the first time this summer — never doing that again. That was unsafest I’ve felt walking in a long time.

          Thankfully I was able to hop on a TriMet bus to get back across when I had to return. If the bus hadn’t been running, I would have called a taxi rather than do that again.

          The thought of biking, either on the sidewalk or in the lane, makes my palms sweat.

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  • bikeninja November 9, 2017 at 10:31 am

    How about a couple of those little car wash power tracks installed in the bridge. Drive up to a spot and it pulls you over to the other side at an appropriate rate of speed. Doesn’t seem like leaving driving decisions up to motorists is working out.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty November 9, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Help me out here a little… there are sharrows in a 35mph traffic lane? For real?

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    • Al November 9, 2017 at 10:53 am

      It’s a trap! I always always always always bike the sidewalk across this bridge.

      I don’t even feel comfortable motorcycling across it because I’m always staring into my mirrors watching traffic barrel down on me as I’m waiting for the light change at either end. This is a great example where lane splitting would improve safety as I could filter up to the front of the intersection removing the possibility of being flattened between 2 cars.

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    • Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Of all the sharrows in the PDX area, these are among the most useless — I can’t tell they have any effect on driver behavior.

      St John’s is a tough bridge to ride — I torch my legs every time and go into maximum assertiveness/paranoia mode.

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      • Al November 9, 2017 at 11:59 am

        The sidewalk, while safer, is not ideal because even if it is clear of pedestrians, you have to slow down for the pillars just as you would otherwise be accelerating downhill.

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    • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      No one goes 35mph, so I don’t know if it is fair to call them a “35mph traffic lane”.

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      • Matthew in Portsmouth November 9, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        I do. Always. Irritates the hell out of other drivers, but I am 51 and stopped caring what other people think about me twenty years ago. The only time I don’t do 35 is when I am behind a bicyclist, then I match his/her speed or move over.

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    • MJS November 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Yep. USDOT MUTCD is here – https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/part9c.htm

      In particular:

      Guidance:
      02. The Shared Lane Marking should not be placed on roadways that have a speed limit above 35 mph.

      Note “guidance” and “should”. Guidance in the MUTCD is recommended but not mandatory practice in typical situations; deviations are allowed “if engineering judgement or engineering study indicates the deviation to be appropriate”.

      Meaning – if someone can justify putting sharrows on a road marked at 50mph, they can do it. And there’s no “official” guidance issued for any road marked 35mph or lower.

      ODOT might have different standards though, so YMMV.

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      • MJS November 9, 2017 at 3:47 pm

        Note that I’m not in agreement with this interpretation; I’m of the opinion that most if not all sharrows are just useless cheap paint. I only brought it up because I saw a set of sharrows on a 40mph road in the middle of right turn lane (signifying right-turn only except cyclists).

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    • SD November 9, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      Sharrows on St. Js are problematic, but they are a response to something even worse; people who believe that it is illegal to ride a bike on St. Js. I am glad they are there, but they are clearly not enough.

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  • Toadslick November 9, 2017 at 10:40 am

    The sharrows on the St. Johns bridge are a sick joke.

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  • Bjorn November 9, 2017 at 10:58 am

    My co worker was nearly killed when he was hit by a truck mirror when the driver passed him far too close on the bridge. He was lucky to only have a broken back rather than being thrown completely off the bridge which probably would have killed him. It is time for a road diet now, I still think that one of the BTA’s biggest mistakes of the last couple decades was backing down to ODOT when they rebuilt the bridge deck and should have been required to provide reasonable cycling facilities in 2005. It was a clear moment where they knew if they challenged ODOT in court and won lives would have been saved and injuries prevented. That feeling has been confirmed over the last decade plus but they were too worried about upsetting ODOT or losing to do the right thing.

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  • bikeninja November 9, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I sure wish we could go back to the good old days when almost all the freight was hauled by boat or train. If you wanted to ship or receive freight you located somewhere with a railroad siding or a dock. I think it was a huge mistake to turn 80,000 lb mini diesel trains loose on the roadways to terrorize the innocent and rule over ODOT.

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    • CaptainKarma November 9, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Hear, hear!

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    • Travis November 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Portland has terrible intermodal operations. Both UP’s and BNSF’s yards are smack in the middle of the city and removed from manufacturing and DC operations, forcing drayage to move through residential area.

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      • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        Eh, I’d say the BNSF yard is in an okay spot. It has good highway access and has very few adjacent houses. The UP yard should have been dealt with years ago. A land swap to move it outside of the city is badly needed.

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        • K Taylor November 9, 2017 at 8:38 pm

          It’s not going to happen – they just invested a ton of money to move their main operation to Brooklyn neighborhood — a much worse place for a train yard than their previous location in Albina just off I-5 — and expand the bejesus out of it. This move has done more to push freight onto neighborhood streets than pretty much anything.

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  • SD November 9, 2017 at 11:09 am

    This would fit in nicely with a better Willamette. Next would be making a protected bike lane on 30 out to Sauvie. That would be something PDX metro could be proud of.

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    • Travis November 9, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      Some folks in Linnton believe a MUP could run behind their commercial district. It is not crazy. STJ Bridge efforts, NPgreenway, Better Willamette, St. Johns Truck Strategy, and various NA advocacy efforts have a lot of crossover people. There is purpose and desire for a more organized local umbrella group — not to consolidate work fronts persay, but to instigate local response efforts and distribution of awareness.

      The dream would for sure be NPgreenway connected to “central city”, Kelly Point Park, the slough paths, a safer STJ Bridge, and protected 30 from Sauvie to NW.

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  • maxD November 9, 2017 at 11:22 am

    There is no good way to cross this bridge. The sidewalks are very narrow, and more people are using them (as they should!). The sharrows are truly harrowing. ODOT should close 2 lanes and put a concrete in barrier in the center and on the outside edge of either motor vehicle lane. The lanes could be a comfortable 11′ wide. The rest of the road would be used for people jogging and biking, with pedestrians using the sidewalks. Nice and safe, reasonable speed, cheap and fast to install.

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    • JBone November 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      Exactly, riding on the sidewalks is very unsafe in high wind conditions. And ironically, after I left a St Johns safety meeting one evening about a year ago, I drove across the St Johns bridge (at 35mph) just to take a snapshot observation and was passed by a Tri-met ‘utility’ van that had to be going at least 50mph. Cameras, patrol cars, or whatever, traffic enforcement all over Portland needs to be addressed. I’m from a big city in Texas and their traffic enforcement puts Portland’s to shame. Does anybody know why it is so lacking here?

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      • Middle of the Road Guy November 9, 2017 at 1:29 pm

        We are severely understaffed and under-policed in many ways.

        We don’t fund our police force adequately, it’s tough to find people who want to be police in this town, and many of the current police simply either don’t care about cyclists or have much higher priorities they are assigned to.

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      • B. Carfree November 9, 2017 at 7:59 pm

        IMO, the (long-winded) answer to why we don’t have adequate policing goes back to Southern California in 1978. Property taxes in both CA and OR were tied to house value, and inflation was cranking up the value, and thus the taxes, too fast for people to accept. Rather than do the logical thing and reduce the tax rate when the value rose too quickly, politicians ignored the situation. Enter Paul Jarvis and Howard Gann, two men who would be considered Tea Partiers today. They managed to pass Proposition 13, which slashed property taxes and froze the values on which these taxes are based. As a result, over time essential government functions have become grossly underfunded.

        Less than a decade later, Oregonians, seeing what a bad idea Prop 13 was, passed its own version, Measure 5. Unfortunately, whereas California can at least pass local sales tax increases to make up some of the loss, we don’t have that option here.

        Also, since policing became underfunded at the same time that urban housing became relatively more expensive, most cops choose to not live in the cities that employ them. These commuter cops suffer from windshield perspective wherein they simply see no value in traffic law enforcement since they and their families/friends almost never travel by foot, bus or bike. It’s a rare car addict who supports traffic law enforcement since it appears to slow them down and add to their costs.

        To make matters worse, pretty much all of our legislature drives to Salem, so our law-makers also suffer from windshield perspective. Notice how they starve the Cascades line of Amtrak but always have millions for I-5, which they drive to get to the capital. They’re not about to divert money to “harass” motorists by funding police.

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    • X November 9, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      So, three rows of Jersey barriers? That’s a lot of weight.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu November 9, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Close one lane, leave three for cars, barrier the fourth for bikes. Pretty simple and won’t impact traffic at all.

      I’m fine riding this on a weekend morning in roadie form, but it is a very sketchy crossing.

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  • Dan A November 9, 2017 at 11:49 am

    ODOT knows.

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  • mran1984 November 9, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I have never had an issue on this bridge. People are the problem, not the design. Oh, make the world safe again. I can’t believe you connected Mitch York to a car wreck involving a 71 year old man.

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    • Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Just out of curiosity, how do you cross it and what’s the traffic like when you do?

      I ride pretty much in anything and find it to be no joke if traffic is moving. I’ve always thought an awesome punishment for people who harass cyclists would be to make them ride the lane with the bike sharrows every day for a month.

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    • JBone November 9, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      I usually respect your voice of moderation in what can sometimes be an echo chamber on BP, but you just lost a bunch of credibility with the “I have never had an issue on this bridge. People are the problem, not the design.”

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      • JBone November 9, 2017 at 12:30 pm

        mran, I’d be willing to ride it with you sometime to see “how it’s done”.
        Can you seriously imagine a child, novice, or otherwise casual rider trying to cross it?

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      • Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        I wonder if it has to do with the times he’s out there. Or is he taking the sidewalk?

        When traffic is light, it moves fast but it’s not scary because motorists see you from far behind and they tend to go in the other lane which is totally empty. If traffic is heavy/slow enough it’s also not bad. And when I say, “not bad,” I’m not saying good. It’s “not bad” for road cyclists who are comfortable with traffic.

        But when things are moving fast but traffic is too heavy to allow vehicles in the right lane to move over, it’s awful because they ride your аss with tailgaters behind them that can’t see you, and there’s no good way to execute a bail.

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    • Travis November 9, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Design/engineering to accommodate freight is what allows drivers of smaller cars and trucks to pass recklessly, turn recklessly, and speed recklessly. Your comfort does mean everyone is comfortable.

      Up until three years ago, I used STJ Bridge via bike at rush hour with little concern. It has changed — like so many Portland streets used by cyclists that have long been on the brink of volume and haste surpassing infrastructure to protect vulnerable users.

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    • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      You are a special kind of crazy.

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    • q November 9, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      “People are the problem, not the design”?

      One of the key missions of design is to prevent people from being the problem.

      People aren’t nearly as much of a problem when what they’re using is well designed.

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    • Spiffy November 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      if it was designed properly then there wouldn’t be a problem…

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  • Redhippie November 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    They need to install a tunnel to beaverton and a new bridge somewhere. Then the traffic on the bridge and Germantown would significantly drop.

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    • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      At least temporarily, for a few years. The level of traffic is not the problem, anyway. It would actually be safer if we had more traffic.

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  • Mick O November 9, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    When I lived in St Johns, I’d walk or run on the bridge regularly. Cyclists coming down the sidewalk sure did hate me for being there: if I didn’t press up against the railing for them to pass without slowing, I’d usually get some choice words or glares. And, I’m one of the ones who will only walk/run opposing motor traffic so I can see bikes coming, meaning I get headlights in my face after dark. Many peds don’t bother. I didn’t really blame cyclists since the traffic lanes are so crazy. Even being on the sidewalk you’re still at risk for rearview mirror decapitations. I am shocked that doesn’t happen more regularly. I felt OK biking in the traffic lanes.. but only on Sunday mornings.

    The St Johns Bridge is the proof that “Vision Zero” is simply two meaningless words to city and state officials.

    Hey, let’s start a ferry for bikes to cross at river level.

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  • bettie November 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    how about we stop making our streets “safer” so much as we just start cracking down on the way we hand out driver’s licenses???? If people can’t obey speed limits of 45 or 25, and don’t even know how to turn safely, why are they even driving???? Why are we selling them cars??? If we make it unacceptable that they can get away with driving recklessly and get away with a $200 ticket for killing a cyclist if they are sober and stay at the scene, then it’s our punishment system that has to change, otherwise, “Vision zero” means nothing.

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    • Spiffy November 10, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      imagine the outrage if you weren’t allowed to buy a car without a background check and you wouldn’t pass the background check if you had any tickets in the last 5 years…

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  • John Lascurettes November 9, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Is there a memorial or protest ride organized for this yet? Please update us if there is.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu November 9, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      Are people going to ride in memorial of a man who recklessly blew a red light at high speed and killed himself while injuring two others?

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      • John Lascurettes November 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

        No, of course not. I misspoke in that regard. I’m so used to the news of a VRU dying that I had that going through my head.

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      • Spiffy November 10, 2017 at 2:53 pm

        a memorial for that poor Ford F-150…

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  • Eric Porter November 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    What this bridge really needs is a giant tunnel at the westbound side that heads down to highway 30. Maybe we can just bring the tunnel concept across the bridge, by capping the roadway and allowing for nice bike/walk facilities on top? St. John’s Bridge Aerial Park? Maybe part of the Portland 2085 plan…

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    • Chris I November 9, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Do you have a few billion dollars to spare?

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    • John Liu
      John Liu November 9, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Why not just teleport across?

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  • J_R November 9, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    As I’ve suggested before, Matt Garrett, Rian Windshimer, and other ODOT managers should be required to ride their bikes across the St. John’s Bridge using the lanes marked with Sharrows and then, in the presence of TV cameras, certify that the facility is safe for bicyclists.

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    • Kyle Banerjee November 10, 2017 at 5:35 am

      I’m not sure this would work — people would slow down to gawk at them and the cameras, and they’d be certain to go at an easy time.

      They need to look like regular cyclists and go when it’s gnarly to get the real effect.

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  • Ted Buehler November 9, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    For starters, what this bridge needs is a speed readerboard.

    https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/fancy_images/ORPORTLAND/2016/08/986109/1010314/gabe-pic_crop.jpg

    Get the speeding problem fixed first…

    Ted Buehler

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    • Middle of the Road Guy November 10, 2017 at 8:11 am

      Photo enforcement 🙂

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    • Kyle Banerjee November 10, 2017 at 11:19 am

      I don’t know those signs help bring speeds down — some people like to drive the numbers up, especially if there’s no chance of getting a ticket and it’s not like a cop will be waiting by the side of the road to pull them over. Photo speed enforcement is another matter.

      In any case, I don’t see speed as the primary problem on the bridge. Rather, it’s lack of space. If you’re riding when there’s practically no traffic, it may fly along at 50mph but the small number of vehicles can see you from far behind, you can ride far left to push them out, and you’ll have plenty of space during the pass. If the traffic is moving only 35mph, but it’s so heavy that cars in the right lane can’t get over to the left to pass, the experience is miserable.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth November 10, 2017 at 11:37 am

    As far as I can tell, in the USA in general, and Oregon in particular, there are no consequences to ignoring the road code most of the time. Oregon prohibits random breath testing to detect drivers with blood alcohol concentrations in excess of the prescribed limit, prohibits photographic enforcement of speed and red light in many instances. Without a whole lot of traffic enforcement officers scofflaws can drive around drunk, high, at excessive speed without much fear.

    Unless and until our legislature and voting population are prepared to step up and insist on the necessary enforcement of our road laws, the carnage on our roads will continue.

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  • Michael Rubenstein November 10, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Speaking of Mitch York, does anyone know what happened to his ghost bike at the west end of the bridge?

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