Beware of a dangerous bump as you approach Blumenauer Bridge

Red arrows show bump location. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Note: I’m well aware that some Portlanders (especially some who work for the City of Portland) think that I complain too much. I understand why folks think that, and I totally understand why. I’m also not ashamed of it. I think that’s part of the important role BikePortland plays in this community: To point out stuff that isn’t as good as it should be in hopes of making it better. Sometimes things just need to be said, even if it’s a downer. So here goes…

The very first time I rode across the new Blumenauer Bridge and went over the curb ramp transition from the bridge to the street on the southern end I was really disappointed when my bike and body went “kerplunk!” The bump is just too severe.

Here’s a video from a while back where I rode over the bump. You can hear it jostle my bike:

As soon as I rode it the first time I was shaking my head that we spent $14 million or so on this amazing new bridge, only to give it this dangerous and uncomfortable bump. That was several weeks ago, and I chose to not saying anything publicly because I didn’t want to rain on the big parade of excitement and enthusiasm. As soon as I did, there would have been (and likely will be now) a chorus of critics saying “those cyclists are such complainers!” or “that BikePortland guy is always mad at something” or “Come on, Jonathan that’s a tiny thing. Look at this great new bridge and be happy!”.

So I stayed silent.

Then last night I saw that someone I know hit the bump and had a really bad crash because of it (photo of aftermath at right). The person, a very experienced rider who knows the route and location well, had rented a Biketown and was headed north on 7th when they hit the bump and flew off their bike. They suffered lacerations on their ribcage and fingers and got pretty banged up. Luckily they had no serious injuries.

I should have spoken out sooner about this! I want everyone to know about this hazard.

Until it gets fixed by the city (they know about it and I assume a crew will address it soon), be extra careful as you approach the south side. The big bump is on the driveway as you go from the street to the bridge sidewalk/path. It’s more severe going northbound, but your speeds are likely a bit slower due to the incline. However it also requires attention going south.

And for anyone that has crashed on the bump, I’m sorry for not saying something sooner.


UPDATE, 1:21 pm: PBOT has announced they will fix the bump next week. See Tweet below…

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Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
1 month ago

We have un-ridable MUPs that have become no-go zones for many folks and you don’t complain as much about that. LOL.

Toadslick
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

This is the second warning published on BP that has likely spared me a crash. The first was when slippery paint was applied to the Willamette and Vancouver bike lanes. I’m thankful for these alerts.

I have no idea what argument you’re trying to make, other than complaining that a single voice doesn’t raise every issue at every possible opportunity.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Toadslick

JM has no obligation (or ability) to raise every issue at every possible opportunity. Yet there is a certain… political valence, perhaps? about complaining about these small (but entirely legitimate) issues while rarely (if ever) calling out the big ones that Frank raises (even going to the extreme of defending the driving of cars on MUPs).

I highly doubt that bumps like this one have even 1% of the bike-riding-deterrent-effect as riding past someone swinging a machete on the Springwater does.

Life is complicated. JM totally has the right to apply whatever political spin he wants to these issues, and I applaud his willingness to let folks like Frank openly complain about it. But let’s not pretend we have no idea what point Frank is trying to make.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

this isn’t an advocacy website

Well, that’s sort of true. I think you do a good job of walking the line, though I do sometimes wish there was less (non-bicycle) editorial content in the news stories. And there is plenty of straight-up bicycle oriented advocacy (like this story!), which I think is appropriate for our community.

But overall, I view this site as being “news-forward”.

You can object to how I do things

I don’t.

My comment was primarily directed at Toadslick’s professed mystification over what Frank was trying to convey, when it seems perfectly clear to me.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

JM, is this bridge intended for use by both bicyclists and pedestrians, or is it bicycle-only? If it is intended for pedestrians too, even people with disabilities (ADA), is it possible that the bump was put in intentionally? Maybe to slow down fast users and make it less likely that cyclists will hit (much slower) pedestrians? Maybe based on design lessons from the Tillimook bridge?

Judging from your video, it seems the bump is working quite well in slowing fast eBike users like yourself, forcing fast riders to be a bit more cautious, to prevent high-speed crashes, yes?

pigs
pigs
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Theres a curve at the south end of the bridge to slow riders down so its not a straight shot. Speed calming only works if you can visually see the hazard so that you slow down. I can’t even see the bump in the pictures! How is it suppose to slow people down if you don’t know the hazard is even there until is too late?

Boyd
Boyd
1 month ago

I definitely found that bump to be a bit jarring when I crossed the bridge. It’s not a crazy big bump. For instance, it’s smaller than the bumps that are caused by tree roots in the N William bike lane and any number of cracks and other pavement discontinuities on many designated greenways (20s and 30s north of Powell comes to mind). But it is an unexpectedly large bump that I wouldn’t expect to encounter in a brand new facility.

It’s not something that would cause safety problems if you ride directly at it. But if you were turning to avoid a bollard, or course correcting while approaching the bridge, and you hit the bump at an angle, I can easily see how it could throw you off balance.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Boyd

How jarring is the bump at 5 mph (pedestrian speed)?

squareman
squareman
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

There are separate lanes for bikes and pedestrians. They do not share space on the bridge. There’s no need for cycle traffic to go 5mph. The bump is harsh enough that it’s probably a concern for ADA mobility devices

Elana Schwartz
Elana Schwartz
1 month ago

I love your “complaining.”

maxD
maxD
1 month ago

PBOT project managers are super lenient with their contractors- this is way out of spec and should have never been accepted. I have design question: why is the access from teh north (southbound) so indirect and convoluted? Are there future changes to Lloyd that have not happened yet? I rode this the other and I could not believe this was the approach to a brand new bridge!

Boyd
Boyd
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

I wonder if the wonky, convoluted bridge entrance is intended to deter people from trying to drive across in a car… Maybe it’s intended to slow people down, as you are coming downhill if you’re approaching from the north.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Boyd

Some bollards would do that too

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 month ago

I noticed this the first time I was riding north on the bridge. I was not expecting it and was filming at the same time for an Instagram story; you could hear the surprise in my voice when I went over it. I kept quiet too (except for telling a few folks about it). I did Tweet about it yesterday, and it turns out the person who was hurt because of this unbelievably dangerous design on a brand new multi-million dollar **pedestrian and bike** bridge was reading my post about someone getting hurt as they were sitting in the emergency department.
 
I am so frustrated! PBOT needs to understand that the complaints and criticisms lodged at them are because we want people to feel safe to walk, roll and bike about; so we can get people out of cars; so we can live in a compassionate city. Yet, they keep designing with a lack of attention to detail. This design issue may
seem small to some, but it’s not! The problem is that the design was clearly
made for cars not people. And therein lies the problem with PBOT in general.
Car brain infects the entire institution even if there are a few individuals
who do care about non-car infrastructure.
 
I support you100% on making appropriate criticisms of PBOT, Jonathan. In fact, it would be a dereliction of duty if a journalist played nice with institutions that must be held to account. Thank you for continuing to put forth pressure even in the
face of PBOT’s gaslighting attempts.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago

To point out stuff that isn’t as good as it should be in hopes of making it better.

The City of Portland is such a poorly run organization. If anything you are far too kind to them for the absolute bottom shelf work that they do.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
1 month ago

Who’s in charge out at PBOT? Someone needs to answer for this malfeasance and pronto!

Dwk
Dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

I wonder what Commissioner oversees PBOT?
Maybe someone might ask her?

Howard Hammel
Howard Hammel
1 month ago

I hate you LoL You kept quiet till now. smh

soren
soren
1 month ago

I find it hilarious that someone stenciled directions to the bridge on Irving that literally beg people to use it.

No thanks.

12th is faster, flatter, safer, and connects efficiently with NE Multnomah*.

* This could be a world-class cycle track if PBOT added more protection and replaced the absolutely pathetic and embarrassing merge zones with bike signals.

Joseph E
Joseph E
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Re: “12th … connects efficiently with NE Multnomah”?

How so? From 12th northbound you have to travel 1 short block (200 feet) west or east, making an extra right turn and left turn to get to 11th or 13th, and then turn onto Multnomah. Or you can take Lloyd to 16th, but this goes down and up again, under the Max tracks, with narrow bike lanes and high-speed car traffic (and of course you could also take that same route from the 7th street bridge).

Also, 12th has much more car traffic, and is only one-way south of Burnside, so most people will need to travel over to 16th, 8th or 7th to continue to travel north and south. To the north, 11th and 13th dead-end at the Lloyd Center, you have to travel west to 9th, or east to 16th.

In comparison, from 7th you can travel straight north to NE Multnomah or all the way north to Going and Alberta without turning, to the south you can go all the way to Division, and only have to go one block east to 8th to cross the tracks and get to Brooklyn or the Springwater, or SE Tilikum Way / Gideon to 17th to get to Sellwood

NE 12th may still be the best option for certain trips, for example the neighborhood, but the new bridge on 7th is more likely to be a direct route in many more cases.

I also don’t believe that NE 12th is safer. As mentioned above, one has to turn left and right again to reach NE Multnomah westbound or any northbound street (except 16th/15th), and will be sharing a busy intersection with car traffic. In contrast NE 7th has little traffic around the new bridge. The only safety issues are this bump and the train tracks on 7th to the north. But there are also train tracks to avoid on NE 11th if traveling north-west from 12th.

Dwk
Dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

I live by Earl, I guarantee you he takes 28th, 21st or 12th if he is going across town.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwk

12th has a bike lane *AND* a stenciled route on wide bridge decks. It would take so very little money to make this a world class micromobility crossing (e.g. painted buffered lanes for more confident people and on-deck MUPs for less confident people).

comment image

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Great point Soren, the City could also re-open the 12th Ave ROW between Lloyd and Holladay. It would not benefit bikes very much, but it would provide a much better ped/student connection to the MAX station.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

…could also re-open the 12th Ave ROW between Lloyd and Holladay

Also a very good point. Bike-specific signaling and way-finding that facilitates passage during the 95% of the time when there isn’t a train in motion could also easily be used.

Sadly, one can only dream of the unbelievably cheap solutions that would enormously improve existing infrastructure when the alternative is a badly-engineered, badly-implemented, and, IMO, superfluous $15,000,000+ dollar “named”-bridge.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

PBOT saves the flat routes for cars. SE12th, 20th/21st, and 26th are a few examples I frequently use. Instead they give us hilly routes like the 20s that, for reasons eternally mysterious, climb the summit of Harrison when there is a perfectly good (and possibly safer) way to go around.

Anon
Anon
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

As someone who lives nearby, the new bridge is absolutely a better connection from NE to inner SE/downtown and vice versa. My only complaint/worry is the streetcar tracks on 7th heading southbound to the new bridge–you have to cross over two sets of them and that’s certainly going to cause some crashes as more people are encouraged to take this route.

Heading north, I used to take a zig zag path that went right by the entrance to the new bridge and over to 12th, but simply continuing north is much nicer and the connection to Multnomah heading north is great IMO. That whole 12th and Lloyd intersection is a clusterfuck in comparison.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

I’ve gotten so used to sharp driveways and parking lot ramps that I find it hilarious when car drivers hit their back or front end on the pavement when they enter or exit, so I’m not particularly surprised to find out that the same builders who build commercial driveways were the same low bidders for a PBOT bikeway bridge path contract. Y’all get what you pay for.

Melanie
Melanie
1 month ago

I totally got jostled when going over this the first time. My commute takes me through downtown streets with relatively bumpy and inconsistent conditions for riding, so it normally it probably wouldn’t have fazed me. But I actually took the long way home for the sole purpose of checking the new bridge out, and so was of course looking around at the bridge and new stuff and all loosey-goosey with my handlebars. It’s true it’s not crazy big, but that type of abrupt bump was definitely not expected in the middle of new green paint!

The bridge is pretty cool, I’m glad the city put it in. I hope they fix the bump. I also spend plenty of time riding recreationally on our MUPs and would love things be done about those to make them more rideable for everyone again too. Wanting all of these things and others can be true at the same time! Talking about one doesn’t mean you don’t care about the other.

Thanks for the warning – I almost sent a message but then decided maybe I should ride it again while paying attention before deciding if it was worth complaining about. Lol 🙂

Andrew N
Andrew N
1 month ago

I’ve said this before but I find it interesting that no one ever calls out our Bicycle Coordinator at times like this. I hear people referring to Hardesty and the bureaucrat in charge of PBOT right now (both for good reason) but somehow the guy at PBOT whose job is solely related to the bicycle rarely gets mentioned. I’d like to see Jonathan, as awkward as I’m sure it would be, call for the resignation of the current Bicycle Coordinator in the interest of finally handing the reins over to someone who can be more effective, as well as more representative (perhaps younger, a person of color, someone willing to challenge PBOT from inside) of Portland in 2022.

In response to Soren above, I certainly see where you’re coming from but I’m ecstatic to have an alternative to 12th when I’m riding with my little guy. The car-free 7th crossing to me is at least a step in the right direction after all of PBOT’s broken promises over the years. It’s too little too late IMO —especially when combined with the bridge connections, the 7th/9th greenway debacle, and the climate/biodiversity crisis in general— but I’ll take it. We’ve already seen a noticeable uptick in the number of bicyclists using the un-signed 7th Ave Major City Bikeway all the way up around Prescott, too, exactly as predicted.

Also, I don’t know if Jonathan remembers but he and I met in maybe 2008 (?) when I was advocating for this exact bridge. I found it hard to stomach all the grandstanding politicians (and ex-politicians) at the grand opening slapping each other on the back for a job well done when they’ve otherwise been asleep at the wheel, so to speak, and have to be pushed and prodded *for years* to get behind projects like this and Naito (etc). And mere weeks (days?) after signing off on another freeway project. Predictable but still gross.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew N

I’d be inclined to agree with you about the Bike Coordinator, except that position obviously has no power, so it’s hard to hold him responsible for what the other parts of PBOT do (or don’t do). It’s really the job of the Commissioner-In-Charge to let folks under her know that bicycling is an important part of the city’s transportation system.

She doesn’t need to be a good manager (that’s Warner’s job), she needs to fulfill her political role of setting bureau priorities and holding Warner accountable.

She has totally failed at that job.

Karstan
Karstan
1 month ago

Thanks for covering this JM! It’s great to see both you highlighting of the hazard and the City’s swift response to fix it.

I don’t want to minimize the injury potential in this bump, or the legitimate criticisms of the entries at either end, but FWIW when I went over the bridge and it’s accompanying bump this past weekend, I noticed neither the bump nor the approach deficiencies I’d seen mentioned in several places. The whole project is such a marvel to me compared to the cycling infrastructure in most of the city and surrounding areas.

Bumps like this are SO common that I’m afraid I’ve just come to expect them. Off the top of my head and among the places I bike regularly these days: deeply recessed drain grates in the gutters bike lanes on Barbur/SW Multnomah/Terwilliger/Capitol Hwy/etc, encroaching tree roots on Willamette Greenway/Tryon Creek/Fanno Creek, and generally terrible pavement/potholes in my neighborhood (South Burlingame). The city came through a couple months ago to “patch” some of the worst ones. But they only did about 1/3-1/2 of them and their patches looked like they’d been done by 10 year olds with plastic shovels and already-cooled asphalt. There was not a significant improvement.

Josh G
Josh G
1 month ago

Sidenote, but coming onto Broadway Bridge path westbound, right after the curbcut, there is an embedded bentover bit of rebar that seems to be calling out for a front wheel slip. I’ve been noticing it for 22years!

AndyK
1 month ago

Kudos to bikeportland for covering this and to PBOT for addressing it quickly.

I would like to hear feedback on the directional tactile warnings separating modes of travel on the bridge (also known as detectable guide strips). Do you like them? Any safety concerns?

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

On camera, that bump looks like virtually nothing. I’d love to see some closeup photos (with a ruler or tape measure or banana for scale) to get a better understanding of how small of a bump can cause a person to crash.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I saw a guy on an electric scooter hit this bump and go flying last night (the rider was a bit shaken, but luckily unhurt). It’s a little bit jarring for bikes but it’s totally deadly for smaller wheels.