I know there are a lot of new carfree bridges opening up in Portland right now so I’ll excuse you if you’ve fallen behind (haha); but if you haven’t rolled over to the Hillsdale neighborhood in southwest Portland to check out the new Red Electric Trail Bridge, you are missing out on one of the coolest new pieces of infrastructure in the city.
On the other hand, if you can’t see it in person, the video I just uploaded is the next best thing.
I was excited when I saw Lisa Caballero’s report and photos last month, but I was even more impressed when I rode it myself a few days ago. It checks all the boxes: it’s flat, aesthetically pleasing, easy to find, and well-connected to existing routes. I was there on a weekday afternoon and saw a steady stream of people walking on it. I love that there’s an apartment complex on one side, and business destinations on the other.
The value of this bridge is also amplified because it is just one of many steady improvements in the active transportation network made by PBOT in the nearby area. As we’ve chronicled, there has been slow-but-steady progress in taming Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, the major arterial at the new bridge’s northern end.
Hopefully this bridge creates momentum for further changes in the nearby commercial district. As I rode home on SW Capitol Highway through the Hillsdale shopping center, I was shocked at how terrible that street is. As you can see in the photos below, there are five lanes of roaring car traffic and just tiny, unprotected bike lanes made even worse by storm drain grates and wide driveways.
If PBOT wants to get the full return on their $4.7 million bridge investment and get more people cycling and walking, they must reduce driving space on that section of Capitol Highway and add more space for bike riders and other types of non-car users. But that’s a conversation for another post.