Bike-on-bike collision on Sellwood Bridge path leads to serious injury, safety concerns

There was a very serious bike-on-bike collision on the Sellwood Bridge Friday afternoon around 5:10 pm. A witness who goes by West Stewart McCall online saw the immediate aftermath and said it happened on the raised path on the north side. Now McCall wants to warn other users about what he feels is an inherent danger on the bridge.

From videos and information shared by McCall, the two bicycle riders crashed into each other about midway across the Sellwood span. One rider was heading westbound and the other was coming toward them in the eastbound direction. The eastbound rider was on an electric-bike and the westbound rider was on a bike with no motor. It’s unclear how exactly the collision transpired, but the westbound rider clearly bore the brunt of it. The rider was down on the ground and McCall said he was “completely disoriented,” unconscious for several minutes and might have had a serious head injury. A TriMet bus operator saw the collision, pulled over and helped render aid to the victim along with another bystander. He was taken to the hospital, but we don’t know his current condition.


According to McCall, the uninjured rider stayed at the scene, but allegedly left without sharing his information and claimed he was not at fault. The Portland Fire Bureau responded to the incident and Portland Police Bureau tells us three of their units also responded. PPB Lt. Nathan Sheppard said it was handled as a medical issue only because it was categorized as a “non-criminal bike crash.”

McCall is worried that the bridge’s signage and markings are dangerous by design because they don’t do enough to discourage two-way bicycle traffic. “This avoidable accident has almost happened to me in the past,” he shared in an email Monday. “Recently, I’ve seen more bikers riding east on the path on the north side of the bridge, putting others are risk of serious injury.”

It’s true that many riders prefer to go east on the north side of the bridge, even though pavement markings installed by Multnomah County (who owns and maintains the bridge) encourage bicycle riders to go one-way only. The bicycle marking has an arrow only in the westbound direction, while the pedestrian marking has arrows in both directions.

Google Earth/BikePortland

I asked folks on Twitter yesterday why it’s so popular to go against traffic on the north side path. Some people said it’s likely that many riders headed southbound on the Willamette Greenway path on the west side of the river don’t know that the path continues under the bridge and will connect them to the south side (see map graphic). They see a path that leads up to the bridge, so they hop on it. “This is exactly my experience,” one person replied. Other people ride eastbound on the north side because it allows for an easier and safer connection to Sellwood neighborhoods and the Springwater Corridor path. “If I was connecting to the Springwater going north everyday I’d use the north sidewalk to avoid the somewhat confusing intersection at SE Tacoma and 6th where I have had a close call once before,” wrote Bjorn Warloe.

Another issue might be muscle memory. The new Sellwood Bridge paths have only been open since 2016 and the old one didn’t have any sidewalk or path at all on the south side. And the path that connects from the west side of the Willamette to the south side to go eastbound opened a year later in 2017.

A sign on the north side of the bridge encourages bike riders to stay to the left to give space to walkers. There are no warning signs to tell westbound bike riders they should expect people cycling toward them. There is also no signage that explicitly discourages people from biking eastbound on the north side.

That lack of signage might be because Oregon law doesn’t recognize any directionality on sidewalks or bike paths. Multi-use paths are a grey area of the law and they’re not even mentioned in the Oregon Vehicle Code.

Lawyer and bicycle law expert Chris Thomas with Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost (a BikePortland advertiser) said there’s a lack of legal clarity when it comes to off-street infrastructure that can lead to confusion. “There is no statutory definition of a multi-use path even though we use that term. There are some multi-use paths that could be categorized as sidewalks or bicycle paths [both of which are defined in statute], or a combination of the two depending on what section you’re talking about,” Thomas said. Either way, unlike travel in a street, Oregon law allows users of sidewalks and bike paths to go in either direction.

Even though legal definitions are confusing and incomplete, Thomas says at the end of the day every user of the public right-of-way has a legal obligation to behave with caution and reasonable care. In this case on the Sellwood Bridge, it appears one (or both) of these riders was not doing that.

Please use this collision as an example of why it’s imperative to ride slowly and carefully when passing other riders.

We hope the injured person makes a full recovery.

UPDATE, 3:05 pm: We’ve heard more from PPB. The rider who was unconscious is out of the hospital and has filed a police report. The police say they’re pulling TriMet video of the collision and doing an investigation to see if any crimes were committed.

UPDATE, 1/11 at 9:05 am: We have heard from someone who is a close friend of the e-bike rider. He wants to connect with the other rider. If anyone knows the identity of the rider who was going westbound (the one who was on the ground after the collision), please get in touch with us.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

143 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
joan
1 year ago

Cars are given so much space: a wide lane in each direction, a bit of space in between the stripes, and then what looks more like a breakdown lane rather than a bike lane in each direction. I’d love to see the county make a wider bike and pedestrian space on the curb in each direction.

I hope the injured cyclist makes a speedy recovery.

J_R
J_R
1 year ago
Reply to  joan

Do you have any memory of what the prior Sellwood Bridge configuration was?
It was two 12-foot travel lanes and a sidewalk less than 3 feet wide with the light standards mounted IN the sidewalk reducing the effective width to less two feet!

The County had an extensive public outreach program including lots of public hearings, which I attended!

The facility out there today was made to make sure all users were accommodated. The bike lanes provide a designated space for fast confident cyclists on the deck adjacent to motor vehicles that avoids any conflict with slower, less predictable traffic. The much wider shared path was meant to accommodate meandering pedestrians, people who want to stop to see the sights, families with kids riding their little bikes, etc.

Sure, the bike lane can accommodate broken down motor vehicles and a place where drivers can pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass. In all my riding over the bridge, I’ve not felt unsafe occupying the on-street lane and choose it when there are lots of other bicyclists or pedestrians or if I desire to ride fast.

Retrofitting the bridge to widen the raised path would be difficult due to drainage issues and maybe structural issues. It would be quite expensive and, in my opinion, completely unnecessary.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  J_R

I agree J_R, I had a friend who was involved from the very beginning with the neighborhood response to the need for a new bridge. Community involvement was initiated at a grassroots level, because they didn’t like the design being floated, and the Sellwood Bridge project is now recognized as an exemplar of community involvement.

There is nothing casual or not thought out about that bridge. In fact, I was glad when it was finally completed, I was tired of hearing the blow by blow of design and construction details. The Tom Dwyer Auto-shop documented the whole thing in their newsletters. I doubt anyone aware of the process would want to revisit it.

Let me put it this way: Sellwood Bridge makes the Columbia River Bridge replacement look like a walk in the park. (A bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point.)

Leann Warren
Leann Warren
1 year ago

I know a lot of thought went into the configuration of the Sellwood bridge but they still gave the worst protection to cyclists by putting the bike lanes down on the car level where you get buzzed and ride through gravel, debris, and glass. I do use the bike lanes in both directions but it looks so much safer on the wide sidewalks that I always question my sanity when doing so.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  J_R

Thanks, J_R, for reminding me what the old Sellwood Bridge was like. I used to take the lane and pedal as fast as I could, usually with a pick-up-truck driver honking his horn behind me. If I recall correctly, the old Sellwood Bridge was uphill in one direction (or maybe both directions with a peak in the middle?). Anyway, it was a b*tch to cycle over. We should all be grateful for the excellent bridge we have today. I would argue that cyclists now have TOO MANY options for crossing the bridge, which likely helped to cause this collision. I would ban cyclists from the sidewalk entirely.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

It was peaked, so uphill both directions, but always a bit worse going eastbound. Absolutely horrible experience on both the deck and the sidewalk. I was so glad to see that old bridge go.

The sidewalks on the new bridge are generously wide, with plenty of space for both cyclists and pedestrians. They need to stripe a cycling space on each sidewalk, though, and enforce the direction. With ramps on both sides/ends of the bridge, no one has to cross the road, regardless of their origin and destination points on either side.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

A lot of families with kids on bikes cross the bridge. So do casual riders. The sidewalk works well for them. I walk across regularly with my large dog and have never had an issue with bikes on the sidewalk. This was all debated in depth during the design process, and I don’t see any flaws in those decisions, nor would I like seeing the sidewalks availability that was promised for bikers yanked from them. I would like seeing better directional signage, though.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago

The dangers related to bicyclists riding the wrong way on narrow painted bike lanes comes up again and again in most cities, but it gets more dangerous at night or at dusk/dawn, and particularly if bicyclists are going fast. We can regulate it all we want, but I periodically even see cars going the wrong way – our transportation system isn’t really ever designed for dangerous and reckless idiots.

Thomas X
Thomas X
1 year ago

All this discussion about signage and no acknowledgement of the fact that an e-bike operator seems to have caused this collision. E-bikes travel at speeds that are inappropriate for shared paths and are fundamentally incompatible with a majority of our bike infrastructure. In the hands of an inexperienced rider, they’re especially dangerous.

The E-bike industry lobbyists (and their cheerleaders) don’t want to hear this, but incidents like these are going to push the public towards license and insurance requirements for E-bikes, scooters, etc.– perhaps standard bicycles as well.

There’s already a large and growing amount of inappropriate and completely unregulated use happening on our trails and negative outcomes seem inevitable at this point: injuries, environmental damage, new access restrictions and barriers to use.

My only question is why previously stalwart advocates of human-powered transportation are so eager to carry water for those who are moving us in the wrong direction.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas X

Going the wrong way, no less. The guy in the video is scum. What a coward.

We have enough to worry about out there, folks, stop going the wrong way in bike lanes and on bridges like this!

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Going the wrong way, no less. The guy in the video is scum. What a coward.

Not exchanging information is bad, but was he going the wrong way? It’s a sidewalk, it doesn’t have directions.

I’m really confused on how the collision happened to be honest. Clear line of sight, both bikes look to have headlights. I’m assuming that maybe they both tried to move and ended up moving to the same side?

Josh K
Josh K
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

both bikes look to have headlights

Many ebikes have high powered headlamps, I wonder if the motorcyclist blinded the bicyclist.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh K

Those ‘high-powered’ headlights just blind oncoming traffic, plus riding an e-bike at high speed on MUP in wrong direction; what else could go wrong?

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh K

But it’s a collision. I could see a blinded cyclists running off the curb or hitting something, but it appears they hit each other. If two objects are moving towards each other, you can still tell where the light is if you are ‘blined’, wouldn’t you just move to the right or left?

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas X

While there is no doubt the e-bike rider was riding east on the northside of the bridge, the idea that he actually caused the collision and it is related to his riding an e-bike is quite a leap given there is no mention in the story of witnesses or video of the actual collision occurring. Unless I missed it, the article does not say where on the westbound sidewalk area the collision occurred. Was it on the uphill portion, the more level top or the downhill slope going west. If the latter, a standard bike can also attain considerable speed. What we do know is that someone wasn’t paying attention and someone got hurt.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago
Reply to  TK

TK, per the video, it occurred near the crest of the hill, just east of the second bench seat viewing point, roughly 45°27’51.8″N 122°39’53.3″W

Fault can be difficult to ascertain after the event, however Oregon will rarely view any collision as a one side takes all fault.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  TK

From videos and information shared by McCall, the two bicycle riders crashed into each other about midway across the Sellwood span. One rider was heading westbound and the other was coming toward them in the eastbound direction.

Pretty good chance that the e-bike rider was going faster.

The fact that he left the scene without sharing information is good evidence that he was at fault.

joan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Or that he was getting hassled by the videographer, who arrived after the crash. We don’t know what happened, and the rush to blame doesn’t help.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  joan

“Getting hassled” is not a valid reason to leave the scene of an injury crash without exchanging information. Take responsibility for your actions.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Take responsibility for your actions.

It’s entirely possible he’s the victim in the situation. Considering the arm-chair lawyers in the video are chastising him and giving him (bad) information about liability while filming them, I’d be tempted to bounce too.

Brad Petersen
Brad Petersen
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Victim of what? He seemed pretty fine to me.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad Petersen

Just because he wasn’t hurt, that doesn’t mean he caused the collision bud.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Heavier vehicles usually “win” in a collision. It’s sad to see yet another arena where my desire for efficiency puts my physical safety in jeopardy.

andres
andres
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Always fascinating how vehicle weight and power is relevant to activists’ arguments when condemning SUVs but the same somehow doesn’t apply to Ebikes, which are essentially the SUV of bicycles. Can we just acknowledge that they’re not well suited for operation on shared paths no more than a gas-powered motorcycle is?

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Almost guaranteed he was going faster. All things being equal, especially at the top of a rise, an e-bike will be going 4 or 5 mph faster than a pedaled bike. That is not an inherent risk, but can be, if one party is not riding responsibly.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Todd below identified the e-bike as a Juiced Bike model capable of 33mph. I think Occam’s Razor applies here.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  TK

If you’re in a car, on a bike, or on an e-bike, and you’re going the wrong way on a one-way street/path, I think it’s safe to presume you’re responsible for any crashes that result.

joan
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Oregon law allows users of sidewalks and bike paths to go in either direction.”

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  joan

This is true; I am not saying the rider was riding illegally, only that I would start from the presumption that they were at fault, especially if they were the more powerful vehicle. Likewise, if a cyclist hit a pedestrian while riding on the sidewalk (which, as you point out, is legal), I would presume the cyclist to be at fault until demonstrated otherwise.

Just as many here would presume a driver is at fault in any collision with a cyclist.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  joan

I think Oregon is going to need to modify statutes now that we have high-powered “e-bikes” using sidewalk infrastructure. The model he’s riding is capable of 30+mph. IMO, that type of vehicle should never be allowed on a sidewalk.

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Regarding this specific incident, I” refer back to Jonathon’s post.

“A sign on the north side of the bridge encourages bike riders to stay to the left to give space to walkers. There are no warning signs to tell westbound bike riders they should expect people cycling toward them. There is also no signage that explicitly discourages people from biking eastbound on the north side.”
“That lack of signage might be because Oregon law doesn’t recognize any directionality on sidewalks or bike paths. Multi-use paths are a grey area of the law and they’re not even mentioned in the Oregon Vehicle Code.”
“Lawyer and bicycle law expert Chris Thomas with Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost (a BikePortland advertiser) said there’s a lack of legal clarity when it comes to off-street infrastructure that can lead to confusion. “There is no statutory definition of a multi-use path even though we use that term. There are some multi-use paths that could be categorized as sidewalks or bicycle paths [both of which are defined in statute], or a combination of the two depending on what section you’re talking about,” Thomas said. Either way, unlike travel in a street, Oregon law allows users of sidewalks and bike paths to go in either direction.”

I now see that the video taker identified the collision as having occurred mid span. Given the signage and the “gray area” that exists today about this type of infrastructure, it was not illegal for him to be going eastbound on the north side of the span. The e-bike rider may well have caused the collision. He also may not have. Either way, as the lawyer says,

“Even though legal definitions are confusing and incomplete, Thomas says at the end of the day every user of the public right-of-way has a legal obligation to behave with caution and reasonable care. In this case on the Sellwood Bridge, it appears one (or both) of these riders was not doing that.”

My point is the assumptions being made about who ran into whom and also automatically assuming it was the e-bike rider who caused the collision. One of them wasn’t proceeding with caution and using reasonable care. Of course all sorts of assumptions get tossed around every day on this forum.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  TK

“The guilty flee where no man pursues”

E-bike, regular bike, scooter – it doesn’t matter. He was involved in a collision that left a person injured. He had a responsibility to stay until first responders got there.

chris
chris
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas X

My only question is how do you know how fast the ebike was going, were you there? I’ve seen plenty of posts here where people say they can ride just as fast as an ebike. How about we focus on the actual problem, someone went the wrong way, (maybe because the signs are confusing/hard to see?), caused an accident. and then left.

Amit Zinman
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas X

It’s not true. E-bikes are limited to 20mph. When I ride in this area on by cargo e-bike I often get overrun by regular bicycles of people who look like they’re practicing for races.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Some e-bikes are limited to 20mph. Many are not, and many can easily be modified to remove the limit.

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

The pedal assist function is required on two classes of e-bikes. One stops assisting once 20mph is reached and the other at 28mph. It’s possible to go faster than that on both, but without pedal assist. Another class of e-bike does not require pedal assist and can be controlled with a throttle and pedaling is not required. There are also likely deviations from these setups as a result of DIY efforts and home builds. I own an e-bike as well as 2 regular pedal bikes. I’ve been passed many times by riders on standard pedal bikes while on my e-bike. Bottom line, it comes down to how the rider is using the bike and whether they are being a responsible rider.

CaptainKarma
CaptainKarma
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas X

Thank you. Motorized “bicycles” have more mass and velocity. They damn sure need medical liability insurance just as motorcycles and mopeds do. Why not!

qqq
qqq
1 year ago

Your descriptions of the reasons why people bike eastbound on the north side is good, especially,  “They (southbound path riders) see a path that leads up to the bridge, so they hop on it”.

Not only is that true, once you pick that route, it takes you up the long ramp, then the long sidewalk to the end of the bridge and onto the north sidewalk. By the time you see the pavement arrow showing that you’re on the wrong side of the bridge for going eastbound (because I don’t recall any prior signs telling you that) you can’t get to the correct (south) side without going all the wall back down the Macadam sidewalk, down the ramp, and then under the bridge and up the south ramp–a couple minutes’ trip. Nobody’s going to do that.

Besides all the other “wrong way”, etc. signs on the bridge that you mention are missing, there should be a sign at the greenway path telling people to go STRAIGHT–not turn right and across the tracks–to ride eastbound on the bridge. That point is at about 4:45 here:
https://youtu.be/94U9IfYA6ts?t=279

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

Users may also cross over to the cemetery side and back, although that would take 3 light cycles.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago

Good point–that’s also a possibility. But it’s even worse than 3 light cycles. You have make SEVEN crossings.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Sellwood+Bridge/@45.4642091,-122.6685569,143a,35y,180h/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x7d41b82183d06b1f!8m2!3d45.4642991!4d-122.6654917

That intersection is so confusing that when the design team proposed a “value engineering” change during the design, a County Commissioner asked the team something like, “Wouldn’t that change eliminate bike and pedestrian access onto the bridge from the south?” and the team responded, “That’s a very good question. We’ll have to look into that”,

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

Going WB to the cemetery I now ride the deck level lane. After cresting the peak of the bridge I accelerate, signal and move into the vehicle lane to run into the little ped refuge to avoid the ped crossing that puts the cars behind your left shoulder.

The second part of the crossing can usually be taken without stopping (cars a pretty infrequent there) and you end up with just a single wait at the multilane crossing to the cemetery.

When the stars and moon align I have green lights all the way into the cemetery so I act like a car, shift over and run into the cemetery in the vehicle lane.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

If you look at the posted map, following the wrong-way ramps to ride eastbound on the north sidewalk is probably the longer route. Honestly, it doesn’t take that much extra cognition or effort to follow directions and ride eastbound on the south sidewalk, especially if you are on a e-bike.

In a broader sense, I am routinely and continually amazed at the people who ignore the safety of others in traffic as a matter of their own convenience. This incident is just one example (I could cite multiple examples and situations I’ve witnessed) and thankfully everyone lived, but crap like this happens everyday all over town. You never know if the result will be a close call, a fatality or something in between.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

I agree it’s definitely longer. It’s also much less pleasant. I walk across the bridge regularly and always use the south side because I can avoid the long sidewalk on Macadam, which is the aesthetic equivalent of walking on a freeway shoulder.

What I like about adding signage at the trail to direct people to the south side of the bridge for going eastbound is a) it helps people who aren’t familiar with the routes (and there are lots, especially on weekends) and b) for the selfish ones who are choosing to go the wrong way (and you’re right, there are lots who put their convenience over others’ safety) it removes their using “I didn’t know” as an excuse. In this case, if the e-bike rider did cause the collision, if those signs had been there, he still could have ignored them, but he couldn’t pretend he didn’t know he was going the wrong way.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago

I have known many non-car users feel safer intuitively when they are face to face with traffic passing them, rather than having said traffic pass them from behind, this could be a motivation.

I have used the north sidewalk on Sellwood to connect to northbound SE 6th and on towards the Bybee bridge, luckily without incident. I absolutely agree that any time spent on a sidewalk should be at a slower speed with increased cation to other users, my motivations were to not cross the often busy bridge by merging with traffic to use the turn lane, or waiting for the light in the bike turn box. We are often creatures looking for the faster and easier path, even as cyclists, and I cannot fault riders looking for a better feeling connection without also faulting myself. As I often use this bridge I’ll certainly be taking a moment to be critical of my riding habits. I hope the injured rider recovers quickly and doesn’t shy away from riding in the future.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago

When I’m walking any of the local bridge sidewalks I like to face the oncoming traffic, especially the oncoming bicycle traffic, b/c of the simple fact that those cyclists are more dangerous to pedestrians than the motor vehicle traffic in the adjacent roadway, and many of those cyclists pass too closely and too fast with little or no warning.

When I ride any of the local bridge sidewalks I ride in the same direction as the motor vehicle traffic. Of the local bridges I am familiar with, the sidewalks are all designated one-way for cyclists, in the same direction of flow as the adjacent motor vehicle lanes. The Sellwood, Tillikum, Hawthorne, Morrison, Burnside, Steel, Broadway Bridges and St. Johns Bridges are all marked as such for cyclists.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

Morrison is 2-way, and ramp from the esplanade to e’bound on the Hawthorne is 2-way

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

Also, the lower deck of the Steel Bridge is also 2-way

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago

I would second the feeling that it’s safer to go on the north side – crossing Tacoma isn’t fun. I also don’t really get why there is a painted bike lane next to the raised sidewalk (that is also marked for bikes). There is plainly room for a wide sidewalk for pedestrians, and a fine two way path on both sides – why do those striped bike lanes exist? Emergency vehicles or something?

Thomas X
Thomas X
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

crossing Tacoma isn’t fun

You don’t have to cross Tacoma on the surface. The Willamette Greenway continues under the bridge to a ramp that takes you to the south side. If you intend to cross eastbound this is the best way to do it.

That said, there should be more than enough room for two bikes to pass on either sidewalk. This seems like 100% operator error / reckless driving by the hit-and-run E-bike operator.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas X

Yes, but that makes the south side route 25% longer than the north side route which is annoying and probably contributes to people choosing the “wrong side” path.

Brad Petersen
Brad Petersen
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

0.9 vs 0.7 miles, I think we’ll all manage, especially since you can go faster not dodging head on riders.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Brad Petersen

0.2 miles is nothing when you are riding a 33mph-capable e-bike like the rider in this video.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

E-Bikes?

Laura
Laura
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

The on-road bike lane was originally intended for riders who go fast and are confident to ride on-street. The the raised sidewalk/bike path was intended for folks who are less confident, families riding with kids, folks who want to stop and look at the view. The need for both was expressed during the design of the bridge based on conflicts occurring on the wide bike/ped sidewalks on the Hawthorne, and the expected commute and recreational use of the Sellwood by bicyclists and runners/walkers.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Laura

so the e-bikes should be in the bike lane on the road, yes?

Andrew Kreps
Andrew Kreps
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

It was a last minute cost cutting measure implemented. You’ll probably see the same thing when they redo the burnside. In fact, they’re already trying to shrink the non-car space.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Kreps

Bike lanes on the deck also allow for a car/truck to break down on the bridge without completely crippling traffic in both directions. It is essentially a breakdown/bypass space, or emergency vehicle access (cars move over to let them pass). Practically, though, e-bikes and roadies should be using the deck, as 20+mph on the downhill portions is too fast for a shared pedestrian space.

Mr. e-bike here had to save a few seconds and couldn’t be bothered to ride on the south side bike lane, I guess. Hopefully he can be identified.

J_R
J_R
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Kreps

What’s your evidence “it was a last minute cost cutting measure?” And what’s the “it” you are talking about?

The County held extensive public hearings and basically implemented everything the bicyclists and pedestrians asked for – a place for fast, confident bicyclists in the on-street lanes, and a place for pedestrians, those wanting to see the sights, and for families with kids on bikes.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Those striped bike lanes exist for people like me who can hammer up the incline at speeds that aren’t safe when mixed at grade with peds and who leave the bike lane to behave like a car when they get to the far end instead of dealing with the really poorly designed ped crossing at the end.

3 signals to get from the sidewalk to the cemetery – and they aren’t synced.

Plus, if you simply cross a crosswalk *assuming* the cars coming fast into a large radius slip-lane will stop, you’re bound to run out of luck at some point and get hit.

Fact of the matter is I feel *safer* using vehicular cycling to cross the bridge than I do behaving like a pedestrian.

And that’s with a 55 year old engine.

PS
PS
1 year ago

What if we enforced the speed limit on the bridge so people feel comfortable using the bike lane and quit having bikes on the sidewalk at all.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  PS

And maybe added a speed limit for cyclists on the sidewalk.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Create any law you want and the likelihood of it being enforced are something less than 1%. Without belaboring this known fact, I’ll point out what I think is one of the most visible ‘non enforcements’, that being helmets on kids. Never ever seen it enforced. Have even been at the site of a crash involving two helmetless kids running into the side of a van in a parking lot (100% their fault). Luckily, just a few scratches. Three cops there and EMTs. After checking on the kids, calling a Mother who showed up, the kids were allowed to remount their bikes, still helmetless, and ride home. True story. This is an incredible easy law to enforce, requiring no more than pulling the kids over, wagging your finger at them, maybe calling Mom, and even having a free supply of helmets in the patrol car for such situations.

Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
1 year ago

For cyclists riding east across the bridge and want to connect to the Springwater Corridor, there is no need to cross Tacoma. Turn right at SE 6th Ave (end of the bridge), and then another right on SE Umatilla St. Then you’re on the Springwater. You pass back under the bridge. 

The bike lanes next to the sidewalk are for cyclists who ride faster than would be appropriate for the sidewalk. I appreciate them. 

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

All right turns, all down hill and so low traffic that I rarely do more than cover the breaks turning onto Umatilla.

People say it’s slower, then complain about waiting for a signal at Tacoma….

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Trike Guy, I am very open to hear your suggestion for routing from Sellwood to cross the Bybee bridge into SE. I could see looping and turning off the MUP onto Spokane, but I’m skeptical if waiting for the light wouldn’t be faster.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

Well that’s a route I’ve never had to go.

Not only (with the right/right/right) are you turning away from your destination, you’re dropping down a hill you have to go back up again with my route (which, in my defense, was for NB on Springwater 🙂 ).

I used to turn left on 6th and right on Spokane to go east before I discovered that going south first was better for me.

At 4:30 in the morning I just took the lane and turned onto 6th like a car.

I don’t know that there *is* a better choice than crossing Tacoma NB on 6th to get out there.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
1 year ago

That path is twelve feet wide at least. Wider than the Marine Drive Path. Wider than the I-205 path. Wider than the Slough Trail. As wide as the Springwater.

Jonathan Nuss
Jonathan Nuss
1 year ago

The e-bike rider was also wearing a hood that eliminated his ability to hear what was going on around him. It shouldn’t be underestimated just how much hearing has to do with balance, proprioception, and awareness of one’s surroundings. He wasn’t able to properly judge his own speed, the speed of the other rider or the sounds that their bikes were creating which we use to judge proximity to one another. Think of the guy featured on this site a few years back who’s vision impairment led him to successfully ride using echo location. Think about balance and vertigo issues that are caused by middle ear damage. Think about riding or racing in a big pack and knowing how close a rider is to you when they are passing.

Carrie
Carrie
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nuss

The e-bike rider was also wearing a hood that eliminated his ability to hear what was going on around him.

I’d posit this is very much a red herring. Crossing this bridge the motor vehicle traffic is SO loud that the rider may have been wearing a hood to protect their own hearing.

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nuss

Asserting that he was wearing a hood was a contributing factor is ridiculous on it’s face. Bicyclists routinely wear helmets with hats under them for warmth in the winter, as well as hoods, and there is functionally no difference. If hearing was a factor then a boatload more motorcyclists would be crashing constantly due to the larger and heavier helmets they wear that most often cover their ears, let alone the fact that many motorcyclists wear ear plugs. I’ve been riding bicycles for over 6 decades and motorcycles for 37 years. It comes down to being aware of what you are doing, focused on the task at hand, and not letting one’s self be lulled into a sense of complacency as you move through the environment.

cp_1969
cp_1969
1 year ago
Reply to  TK

That’s probably the most sensible thing said in this whole string of comments.
I rode across the old bridge before improvements for over a decade several times per week on a -what was it-4-5ft wide sidewalk…without incidence. Routinely encountering walkers, runners, other cyclists, tweakers…and never had an incident.
This is one incident on the bridge. Are there many others? ANY others? Should we begin discussing spending further millions on making the bridge more safe because there was one accident that was avoidable?
We live in a not perfect world. Cycling is inherently dangerous. My opinion is that one should approach riding very defensively and expect nothing from any other road users. If you can’t figure out a way to navigate Portland on a bike without feeling like you have no agency over what happens, you should probably just drive.

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  cp_1969

The old Sellwood side path worked only because all travelers had to defer to each other. Any high speed encounter would be a circus act. In such places I’ve always ‘docked’ my bike against the rail so that the other person was in no doubt about my trajectory or skill.

This was a sad incident because the discussion sort of calls bike and e-bike use into question. I think a useful principle would always be that the heavier or faster vehicle has a duty to the other. In common law there is no right to overtake that allows damage to another. The first duty is to keep each other safe.

This is not an unfair burden on e-bike riders. A brief loss of speed and momentum is easier for them to regain. A rider who is concerned about their battery life can refrain from carrying speed into a narrow space, a blind spot, or a close encounter.

A 33 mph e-bike is a motorcycle and should be on regulated and on surface streets. I don’t want to hear about it. That’s a speed that less that 1% of cyclists can achieve on the flat and reasonable people can’t be expected to plan for it on a shared path.

chris
chris
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nuss

I have actually noticed wearing a hood helps me hear better than riding without one, since the material pressed firmly over my ears by my helmet straps helps the wind go past my ears instead of down the ear canal. I usually ride with a longsleeve hoodie year round (since i sunburn very easily) and remember being surprised by how much louder the wind noise was on a hot day without the hoodie. I have been working in audio since the early 90s, so I’m very aware of how little things can impact my hearing/perception.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  chris

Cat Ears and … I can’t remember the other product – they attach to helmet straps and disrupt the air stream in front of the ears to keep the wind noise down.

People I know who use them swear by them.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nuss

I don’t obstruct my hearing while riding – but I don’t think the many very good reasons to do so really had much impact on this.

Visual situational awareness should have been plenty. No cross traffic, no overtaking traffic, just what’s in a narrow cone out in front of you.

Carrie
Carrie
1 year ago

This is a terrible thing. Someone really wasn’t paying attention — that space is so wide there’s very little reason to hit someone else.

That said, as I’ve been running more (with the dog) in this area in the past 6 months I’ve noticed a significant uptick in aggressive, non-yielding, cycling behavior. So much that I nearly had a cyclist hit me as I was hugging the ‘shoulder’ of the Springwater and they looked right at me as they didn’t yield me any space (it was just me and the cyclist on the 6′ wide trail). I’ve also had multiple cyclists tell me I’m on the “wrong side of the path”, when, as has been pointed out, there is no wrong side of an MUP for a pedestrian.

FYI, if you see someone out running with their dog on the left side of the path, it’s so they are between the cyclists & the dog leash AND so the dog doesn’t eventually start to get way too anxious due to cyclistx consistently coming up from behind. It truly is a safer way to share the space if folks can take a moment to not police each other out there. And also, FWIW, some of us are doing our best to get off those shared paths ASAP :).

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  Carrie

It’s really unfortunate here that two strong conventional behaviors were in opposition. In the US, motor vehicle operators hold to the right when encountering other traffic, versus a person who regularly rides on the bridge might be following the plainly marked West bound bike arrows which are to the left of the raised sidewalk so that pedestrians have the rail side. Both riders I guess kept to their original line and for whatever reasons did not brake in time.

Some clear signage seems to be in order. Maybe, on the N side, “East bound bike riders should yield to all other other users”. Or whatever.

bjorn
bjorn
1 year ago

It seems like due to the connections that 2 way travel is desired on both the north and south side of the bridge. Maybe it was a mistake to design the bike lane which was supposed to be green but is just a white stripe to go in the same direction as the adjacent raised multi use path. I wonder if it would make more sense to have 1 way bike traffic west on the at grade bike lane on the north side and on the raised multi use path on the south side, and vice versa, thereby allowing traffic in both directions on both sides of the bridge but with less chance of a head on collision.

Orig JF
Orig JF
1 year ago

The most discouraging part of this whole story is the other person (who was riding a bike) involved in the collision left the scene! He did not stay to make sure another member of his community was OK. He did not exchange information with anyone to have a follow up to the other person’s condition. Thank goodness there are other people who have the heart to make sure someone else is OK. If it was later at night and no one was there to assist, I could only imagine how alone it would feel lying there…

One thing I really enjoy about the community of people who ride bikes as a form of transportation is I feel like we are all somewhat looking out for one another. This incident leaves an extremely sour taste in my mouth.

Josh K
Josh K
1 year ago
Reply to  Orig JF

That’s another problem with E-bikes: many new riders who haven’t put much time in the saddle and either aren’t aware of, or don’t want to be a part of, the bike community.

chris
chris
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh K

Or maybe they don’t want to be part of a “community” that’s constantly talking trash and looking down on them? People who cry “share the road” and them complain when they actually have to share it might want to look up the definition of hypocrite. Who wants to be part of a community full of elitist snobs? It’s rather ignorant to assume you know how much “time in the saddle” someone has based on the bike you see them on that day. They could have a whole garage full of bikes for all you know, or maybe they were riding for decades before you were even born.

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh K

In spite of the fact that not enough is known about the cause of this collision, it certainly seems you have an obsession with finding all the possible reasons the e-bike cyclist is to blame, including some that are based on a poor understanding of e-bikes and people that ride them.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  Orig JF

Interesting. If I was involved in a bike to bike collision, and I knew that I was 100% not at fault, I would probably leave as well. Too many people willing to hire a lawyer, subject me to a court appearance, pay a lawyer $5000 retainer, to end up settling for a few thousand dollars, for me to sit around and wait for the justice system to work. It frequently does not.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  steve scarich

How did he (or you) know he was 100% not at fault? It could be remotely possible but I’m guessing he wasn’t a lawyer familiar with the specific codes that apply (unless you have additional information), and the facts such as they are don’t seem to support that interpretation.

What I’m gathering, w/o trying to exaggerate, is that the perp was on an e-bike, riding in the wrong direction, possibly at a high rate of speed with a blinding headlight when he crashed into an oncoming rider who had the right of way and was injured, and then he left the scene without identifying himself. Am I missing anything?

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

“Without trying to exaggerate”

Right!

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  FDUP

I said “I”…I was talking about what I would do. For instance, if I was riding 15 mph on the far right side of a two-way bike path, and an oncoming rider was riding ‘no hands’ and lost control and swerved and hit me, I would stop, make sure he/she was OK, that I was not seriously injured or my bike wrecked, and go on my way.

Orig JF
Orig JF
1 year ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Interesting. If you knew you were 100% at fault but were left unconscious, would you accept that the person who hit you just left without making sure you were OK?

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Orig JF

I was hit head-on on my bike around noon on a nice day by a pedal cyclist years ago on the path in waterfront park, it split my finger open badly. The path was crowded, I was riding slowly to the right, he was riding fast and weaving all over the path avoiding pedestrians. He didn’t stick around either (too bad, he deserved a good kick in the balls). Since then I always ride year round with full-finger gloves and mostly stay off the MUPs.

Jordan
Jordan
1 year ago

I commute across the Sellwood several times a week. A few things to add here:

  1. I think that the directional signage on a bridge like the Hawthorne makes sense given the high level of pedestrian and bike traffic. The Sellwood has as much or more room on the sidewalks / MUPs as the Hawthorne and a fraction of the bike / ped traffic.
  2. There was no directional traffic for bikes and peds on either the south or north sidewalks of the Sellwood for the first several years it was open. They added this only a year or two back. So people aren’t used to directionality, and the signage only really appears once you’re well underway across the bridge.
  3. The bike lane feels really unsafe, given how many drivers speed and text their way across the bridge. I’ve literally never used it in the 6+ years that the bridge has been open. Why not protect myself from drivers with a big tall curb if I have the opportunity?

I’ve never seen an accident of this sort before on the bridge. I think there’s a way to have both sides of the bridge be a safe MUP for all users. I’d love to see Multnomah County make some signage and other improvements to get us there.

Kyle Banerjee
Kyle Banerjee
1 year ago

Not everything can be fixed with regulation and infrastructure.

That area is more than wide enough for people to pass both directions (even if it isn’t a good idea). Unless a last second swerve was involved, colliding requires both parties to fail to make at least some kind of adjustment despite great sight lines and loads of lead time even if someone was clearly doing something he shouldn’t.

Wrong way and boneheaded cycling is rampant in this town — with a strong inverse correlation with the quality of the infrastructure (especially fun for peds since unsafe and discourteous passing seems more the norm than the exception). These problems are magnified on ebikes which add both speed and weight to the equation. But that’s why I like roads.

Hopefully the victim makes a speedy recovery.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago

I have ridden (and do ride) the wrong way as I rode over the old bridge for years.
Both had to be at fault or just incompetent bicycle riders, it’s like 10 feet wide.
Accidents happen, the E-bike probably going fast but seriously if 2 cars run into each other, I assume they are idiots, why is this different?

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

Not necessarily. One possibility–the bike rider sees the e-bike rider coming straight at him, so he veers to the right so they can pass, as he should. But instead of veering right (as HE should) the e-bike rider veers left and runs into him. In that case, the bike rider wasn’t at fault or incompetent.

Josh K
Josh K
1 year ago

The throttle of an ebike is no different than the gas pedal on an automobile, and all too often results in the same mindset.

TK
TK
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh K

You are incorrectly assuming that all e-bikes are the same and have throttles. 2 classes of e-bikes do not have throttles and require one to pedal to trigger the motor assist. One class does not. You appear to be fixated on “mindsets” and blaming this on the e-bike rider when he may or may not have triggered the collision.

J_R
J_R
1 year ago

The eastbound, ebike rider was at fault.

The pavement markings show the path on the north side of the bridge is intended for two-direction pedestrian traffic and one-way westbound bike traffic.

The ebike rider has no excuse for not following the expected path. Sure, the expected path is a few hundred feet longer than his shortcut, but for goodness sake, he has power to help him.

Inconsiderate and lazy are a couple terms that come to mind. And leaving the scene without exchanging information is a traffic offense.

Laura
Laura
1 year ago
Reply to  J_R

A year or two ago, I asked a contact at the County bridge office about some one-way bike/2-way ped signage on the bridge after some close calls with e bikes and one-wheels going “wrong way” while walking. My contact said that there originally was an issue tied to bridge funding from the feds that wouldn’t allow it, but that had changed and later that year the County was going to add “something.” The painted disks appeared at each end of the bridge with the one-way bike and two-way pedestrian logos. Apparently, it’s not enough.

Amit Zinman
1 year ago

I’ve been harping about the bike signage in that area for a long time, even spoke directly to PBOT about it, and finally got a sign at the turn for cyclists coming from SW Portland (which was missing before). Definitely people who don’t know that they can turn right on the south side and then right to connect to the Springwater Corridor can’t find out about it from the signage.
IMHO Multi-Use-Paths are part of outdated concepts about biking, thought up by people who would never commute to work by bike. Like it or not, there is now a multitude of ebikes and other micro-mobility vehicles that people get around on and having to share sidewalks with pedestrians is unfair to everyone involved. Road design should take all this into account, designating clear directional bike routes separate from the sidewalk. This will acknowledge that bikes (and other mmvs) are serious vehicles for serious everyday and more importantly, keep peopel safe.

Eric Liefsdad
Eric Liefsdad
1 year ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Exactly. For all the concerns about going “the wrong way”, why wasn’t the westbound rider using the painted westbound bike lane? Likely because it seems unsafe and less comfortable. This is a bike infrastructure failure on multiple levels, and predictably so.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Liefsdad

Your example of an infrastructure failure sounds more like an infrastructure SUCCESS to me. If the rider felt the westbound bike lane was unsafe and uncomfortable (something that lots of riders apparently disagree with, because they choose it) then the infrastructure gave him the option of riding on the sidewalk, which was designed to work well for riders exactly like him.

I think the lack of signage to direct eastbound riders to the south side, and lack of signage on the bridge (beyond the pavement arrows) telling people it’s one-way for bikes is an infrastructure failure, but I use the bridge regularly and think the mixed-use sidewalk combined with the bike lanes works well.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

Looking at the post crash video, the e-bike involved looks to be a CrossCurrent S2 with 52v battery (marked on down-tube) made by Juiced Bike.

An Electrek review of this bike, “The new CrossCurrent S2 with the upgraded 52 V battery … the 52 V CrossCurrent S2 will also feature a “race mode” that offers speeds of up to 33 mph (53 km/h) under pedal assist. That’s not quite as fast as their highest speed model, which tops out at 40 mph (64 km/h). But it still demonstrates some pretty solid power and performance.”

https://electrek.co/2019/07/02/juiced-bikes-crosscurrent-s2-electric-bicycle/

Perhaps this bike was purchased locally and thus the owner found.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

Looking at the Juiced Bike website they have a lot of state by state information (PeopleForBikes) on what the top speed and top watts for Tier 3 state and Non Tier 3 states. Oregon is noted as “…electric bicycles must be designed for ground operation with wheels. The motor cannot propel the bike more than 20mph on level ground and cannot have an output above 1,000 watts.” So I wonder if Juiced Bike configures each bike for their shipping destination or expects the future owner to do such?

X
X
1 year ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

1000 watts is about double the steady power output of an elite racing cyclist. If I were making the rules for e-bikes regulated as bikes I’d limit power output to 350 watts, as pedal assist, and send anybody who defies that limit into traffic court with diversion as the minimum penalty.

350 watts equals the tireless power output of the strongest cyclist I know, for a weight penalty of about 20 pounds. A person who wants more than that should get a license and a plate.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  X

Wiggo set the hour record (54km/h IIRC) with 440W avg output – over 6W/kg

Before I got sick and needed chemo I was putting out 4W/kg at age 49 (FTP – basically best hour power). Right on 350W

That power allows a fast trike (not the fastest machine on earth) to do 25mph on a flat decent surface with wide turns. 22mph avg with accel/decel for chicanes and sharp turns.

It took a burst of over 600W to get to 30mph through the 200m flying start.

On my fast bent (<70% of the aero drag, <50% of the Crr of my Trike) that’s even faster.

When I see 1kW on bikes I think “motorcycle” not bike.

Regardless of power source, however, those of us who can/do go 20mph+ on flats have a greater duty of care with our paths than those who can go 12mph.

We’re carrying 2.5X the kinetic energy.
We cover 28ft in 1 sec instead of 17.

An average cyclist can brake at .6g.

At 20mph an average cyclist will take 20ft to brake to a stop, after the reaction delay. closer to 35ft including reaction delay of .5sec

Those distances are really short compared to a car, but they are still long enough that you can get in trouble on paths meant for walking (with short sightlines) and mixing with unpredictable peds.

When in doubt, slow down.

Eric Liefsdad
Eric Liefsdad
1 year ago

“caution and reasonable care” should have been taken in the design of this bridge. The sidewalks aren’t wide enough because they made the car lanes too wide. I’m disappointed with the victim blaming in this story, police should be looking for the traffic engineer who did this.

Nice touch for the bus driver to stop in the bike lane. Really underscores the root cause.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Liefsdad

The sidewalks are huge. The bike lanes are just right for the fast/confident riders.

They also serve as breakdown/emergency vehicle lanes which are necessary on a bridge.

The huge issue with the Sellwood bridge is godawful connection to the cemetery path for WB riders on the northside.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Liefsdad

As a regular bridge user, I disagree with all of that. The sidewalks are plenty wide. The option allowing faster riders to use the regular bike lane, and others to use the sidewalk, works well. I had major disagreements with the engineers, to the point I had a City employee accompany me to a meeting where he threatened to pull the entire building permit for the bridge while it was under construction, but they did a good job on the sidewalk/bike lane aspect. The dual-use bike lane/emergency lane works well.

Why does the bus driver stopping in the bike lane “underscore the root cause”? What is that root cause? It looks to me like it was poor behavior by the e-biker, not a design failing.

Are you criticizing the bus driver for stopping in the bike lane? That’s exactly what it’s for–emergency stops. While he was stopped, bikes could get around by going on the sidewalk–not much of a hardship to accommodate the driver stopping to help a badly injured person. What should the bus driver have done instead?

Eric Liefsdad
Eric Liefsdad
1 year ago
Reply to  qqq

| exactly what it’s for

“emergency” bus parking? I thought it was supposed to be a bike lane

| bikes could get around by going on the sidewalk

Clearly you’re assuming that anyone riding in the bike lane can lift their bike up a high curb when they find that the infrastructure was actually intended for motorists to store their vehicles and debris. Can you lift my e-bike with kids on it? How about electric adaptive trike users?

The bike lane wasn’t designed for people on bikes, so they’re using the sidewalk, which is also clearly inadequate. Quit blaming users and demand better engineering.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Liefsdad

You’re just being absurd. The frequency of a vehicle using the bike lane for an emergency stop is very, very low (i’ve *never* seen it and I’ve run across there at 4pm 100’s of times)

The alternatives

The bus driver stops in the traffic lane, causing drivers to do stupid stuff to get around, then crosses the bike lane (where people like me are going 20mph and don’t expect someone to get off a bus in our way) in order to render aid.

OR

Doesn’t render aid.

Apparently you prefer them to drive on by.

Eric Liefsdad
Eric Liefsdad
1 year ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

If the bike lane were protected, i.e. designed to get people to ride in it instead of the sidewalk, they would have to stop in the car lane. Your reasoning for them to not stop in the car lane is asinine, assumes the low levels of bike traffic you’re used to. Apparently you prefer the status quo.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Liefsdad

Yes, “emergency” bus parking IS exactly what that lane is for, along with being a bike lane. I’ve never seen a vehicle using that lane in my hundreds of trips across the bridge, so conflicts are unlikely. And why the quotes around “emergency”? Isn’t stopping to help an injured person an emergency?

I agree it would be possible that the bus (or ambulance, or police car) parked there could block someone on some type of biker who couldn’t lift their bike up the (not particularly high) curb. But the chances of that happening are close to zero. And people in your examples (riding with children or using an adaptive e-bike) may be as likely to be biking on the sidewalk (which was an intended use of it).

Several people have commented that they use the street-level lane regularly and happily, or at least they choose it over the sidewalk. They seem to feel the bike lane was designed for people on bikes. So did the many people who supported the sidewalk-plus-street-level-bike-lane design.

I’m not blaming users for engineering shortcomings. In fact my first comment was there should be better signage so people are led clearly to the correct side of the bridge for the direction they want to travel.

The dual-use bike lane/emergency lane makes lots of sense, especially when the wide sidewalk was included as an alternative option.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
1 year ago

E-bikes DO NOT belong on bike paths with non-motorized bikes. This has to change.

Carrie
Carrie
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Perillo

E-bikes DO NOT belong on bike paths with non-motorized bikes. This has to change.

This is very concerning to me, because our state agency (ODOT) is actively building in several areas MUPs that basically force all non vehicular traffic into sharing the same sliver of infrastructure. If one were to follow this line of thinking to ban all e-mobility from non vehicular infrastructure, you’re now forcing the e-mobility user back into the dangerous mixing with the vehicles that will kill us. In ODOT’s new work on OR 43 on the West side of the river from downtown Oregon City, they are building a new roundabout and I suspect removing even the painted bike lane for those heading South. The design is terrible, but it would be even more terrible if the reasonably safe (though horribly inconvenient) option were removed for many users.

It seems to me that this person was a terrible vehicle operator. No different than many of the folks we see out there not stopping at stop signs or red lights.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Carrie

It seems to me that this person was a terrible vehicle operator.

Assuming, of course, that they were at fault. Which we simply don’t know.

FDUP
FDUP
1 year ago
Reply to  Carrie

Um, bikes are vehicles and e-bikes are motorized vehicles.

West Stewart McCall
West Stewart McCall
1 year ago

Thanks @bikeportland for getting this important conversation started.

We must understand that it was dark, drizzly and hard to see anyone coming at you at all because of the arch of the bridge. I challenge all riders in Portland to go ride the Sellwood bridge at night and pause in that spot.

Please get a feel about the narrow window of time you get if someone is riding at you before you can even see them! That window is shortened as riders converge at high speed. We need signs clearly dictating one way traffic for bikers ect.

That’s why we shouldn’t ride against traffic, even if it’s “not against the law.”
That’s how the accident happened. It’s careless, reckless and dangerous (certainly against the law).

A detective with the Portland Police reached out to me because they were looking for the e-biker. The detective was seeking help from the public in identifying the e-biker because there may have been a crime committed.

IMPORTANT- I witnessed the trimet driver tell the e-biker that he slammed right into the younger guy head on, on the left side of the path, no swerving or anything.

Then he said the bus caught the whole thing on video and told the guy to take a picture of the bus number for his lawyer and they could pull the video. I watched the guy walk over and take a picture of the front of the bus.

I only got involved when I saw the e-biker leaving without ID exchange. It was appalling that I had to request this older, seemingly well off gentleman to do the right thing.

The kid was suffering a major head injury and he didn’t even seem to care. I suspected he was intoxicated, but trimet told me the police were in route, so I was trusting that would resolve itself.

I have no doubt the injured rider was sticking to the left as all the signs on the bridge say to do. When I got there the bikes were tangled up with each other on the left side of the path. The trimet video will verify this.

I hope the riders ok. The detective said the victim was in the hospital for 5 days and had absolutely no recollection of any of part of the event. He called police after hospital discharge to see if there were any witnesses.

Again, the Portland police are asking the public for help with identifying the e-biker because there may have been a crime committed.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago

That’s why we shouldn’t ride against traffic, even if it’s “not against the law.”

That’s how the accident happened. It’s careless, reckless and dangerous (certainly against the law).

Sidewalks are bi-directional. There is no ‘against traffic’. Anyone on the sidewalk should be prepared for pedestrians and other cyclists to be moving with and against them.

The ‘against traffic’ angle is really toxic carbrain stuff.

IMPORTANT- I witnessed the trimet driver tell the e-biker that he slammed right into the younger guy head on, on the left side of the path, no swerving or anything.

Wouldn’t that indicate the other cyclist also didn’t move to get out of the way?

The e-biker might be guilty as sin, I don’t know, but there are a lot of assumptions being made about who caused the collision with zero evidence at this point.

This is a really a failure of the government to provide infrastructure to support multi-modal communities. The gutter lanes on the bridge don’t feel safe and there is a nice big sidewalk right there, of course cyclists are going to use it. There is nothing illegal about riding on either side of the bridge and I don’t recall any signs encouraging cyclists to use one side or the other.

Perhaps the government should build actual bike facilities and ban bikes from the sidewalk on the bridge.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

There are very clear pavement markings on the sidewalk. You can see them plainly in the pictures at the top of the article. The victim rider was following these markings, and the offending e-bike rider was riding against these markings. Blame the county if you want, but the combination of markings and eastbound riders on the north side of the bridge directly resulted in this crash.

This bridge has “actual bike facilities”. They’ve provided ramps on both sides of the bridge, north and south side so riders can easily get to either sidewalk or bike lane from the shoreline path. If every cyclist went east on the south sidewalk and west on the north sidewalk, collisions like this wouldn’t occur. Follow the pavement markings.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

There are very clear pavement markings on the sidewalk

  1. They aren’t clear at night in the rain
  2. They have no legal standing. They can draw whatever they like there but the sidewalk is still bi-directional.

The victim rider was following these markings, and the offending e-bike rider was riding against these markings.

And neither was doing anything illegal or really wrong. People bike bi-directionally only literally every other shared path in the city. The county has violated the number one rule of traffic design, be consistent. If you transferred from the river path to the bridge, why wouldn’t you continue treating it like a normal MUP?

Blame the county if you want, but the combination of markings and eastbound riders on the north side of the bridge directly resulted in this crash

There is no legal reason you can’t ride in either direction. It’s entirely on the infrastructure. Further, it’s a head on colision, both riders bear some responsibility. The “victim” could have also moved and its confusing why they didn’t when they saw a bike coming toward them.

If every cyclist went east on the south sidewalk and west on the north sidewalk, collisions like this wouldn’t occur. Follow the pavement markings.

Traffic infrastructure should be designed for how people are instead of how we’d like them to be.

The county has built gutter bike lanes that don’t look or feel safe. They built a nice big sidewalk that looks much much safer. Instead of building actual infrastructure to make sure cyclists take the side the county wants, they put some paint on the ground on the sidewalk. I haven’t crossed the Sellwood in a while, are there even any signs, or just paint?

Following your logic, we should abandon all traffic calming infrastructure. Why would we need speed bumps or ride diets? All we need to do to create safe infrastructure is post a sign or paint something on the ground and people we’ll do exactly what we want, right?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

IMPORTANT- I witnessed the trimet driver tell the e-biker that he slammed right into the younger guy head on, on the left side of the path, no swerving or anything.

Wouldn’t that indicate the other cyclist also didn’t move to get out of the way?

Not if there’s nowhere further to go.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Going to the right on the big path not an option?

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Maybe it was. We’d need to see the video to know.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

Why would you want to see evidence before making a judgement on fault? It seems like most of BikePortland’s readers are more than comfortable assigning blame with no evidence based on what type of bike each person was riding.

‘Why would the guy leave’ says the crowd with pitchforks

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

There was no crowd with pitchforks at the scene. In fact it didn’t look like there was a crowd at all. There was no evidence the e-bike rider was being threatened to the point his leaving was justified. I’m not saying none could come out.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m not “most BikePortland readers”.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Are you the guy? You seem to be really invested in defending him, even going as far as doubting eyewitness evidence shared here.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago

Thank you for confirming what many of us suspected, and for getting involved as a good Samaritan. Hopefully this unfortunate incident drives the County to actually do something to prevent wrong-way riders on this bridge.

For everyone else here who has been defending the e-bike rider, stop riding eastbound on the north sidewalk on this bridge! Westbound riders are instructed to ride far left to provide space for pedestrians. The resulting confusion when one encounters an eastbound cyclist can result in a head-on crash like this. This is compounded if the riders are going fast, as this guy with his 33mph-capable e-bike likely was. In addition to the directional enforcement, I would like to see something banning Class 3 and above e-bikes and onewheels from the sidewalk. They need to use the on-deck bike lane.

West Stewart McCall
West Stewart McCall
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Thanks Chris! I really dreaded getting involved, but I felt like I can’t expect someone to do the same for me, if I am not willing to do it for someone else.

I’ve been riding bikes non stop for most of my life and bikes on the streets of Portland for 13 years. I have been riding ebikes exclusively for the last 2 years.

The whole thing was very disappointing on multiple levels. I really dreaded bringing this public because I didn’t want people to twist it into some excuse to trash ebikes, but the urgency of the lack of signs on the bridge dictated my response.

It’s not the ebikes that are the problem. It’s the way some people use them.

You all are amazing by the way. I’m so proud to live in a community that is so engaged with something that I love so much. It’s a way of life and it’s awesome to be surrounded by like minded people.

Lets get this bridge signage fixed and back to riding.

West Stewart McCall
West Stewart McCall
1 year ago

UPDATE: The Portland Police have identified both riders.

Now we let the proper authorities, courts and lawyers work it all out.

Our job as members of this community is to look out for each other. If you see something wrong, please say something!

Now we have to focus on applying a critical mass of pressure and attention on Multnomah County to force them to fix this obvious and imminent safety issue before anyone else is injured. They should be put on notice.

This maybe a job for Bikeloud or some other awesome community group that we are all lucky to have.

rainbike
rainbike
1 year ago

Or, maybe people could just obey the signage and use common sense. This isn’t Multnomah County’s problem. It’s a personal responsibility problem.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  rainbike

As cc_rider is saying above, we can’t expect people to follow the numerous pavement markings because it was “at night and dark”. If we’re seeing people apologize for this behavior on here, you know a lot of people will continue doing it out there. Most will never read about this incident.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

The first time I rode WB across the Sellwood bridge I took the raised sidewalk. I noted how many people rode the wrong way (way more than the Hawthorne) and realized I’d be far better off in the at-grade bike lane.

Beside, I usually prefer grade separation from peds over grade separation from cars.

From then on I cross WB on the deck and EB up on the raised section (southside)

West Stewart McCall
West Stewart McCall
1 year ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Riding my ebike back and forth across the raised deck of the Sellwood bridge is one of my favorite parts of my daily routine. I look forward to (safely) checking out the river, the whole scene. In the afternoons, enjoying looking towards Milwaukie. Which that path needs signs also.

I literally almost died once on that OLD bridge too! NF JOKE! I’m so grateful for the new bridge.

It’s time to get some better and safer signs just letting people know it’s dangerous to ride at unsuspecting people who are just out riding their bike across the Sellwood.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago

I have *NEVER* ridden my bike on the north sidewalk, in either direction, because (1) there is a wonderful bike lane going west on the north side, so why stress-out the peds on the sidewalk? and (2) there is a wonderful bike lane going east on the south side of the bridge, and there is a car-free access lane under each end of the bridge to reach it.

WTF, people?? I’ve seen many people riding on the north sidewalk and I’ve never understood why. Quit being so lazy and use the lanes that were built for us.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

The “sidewalk” was designed to be a multi-use path. People bicycling are intended users.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

People bicycling are intended users.

People bicycling slowly, yes.

People riding fast should be on the street level. People riding motorized vehicles should be on the street level. People riding the wrong way (who are not going slowly) should be on the other side, on street level.

That’s how the facility was intended to be used.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Smith

People on 33mph-capable e-bikes, as well? And yes, I know that “they can go slow”, but we all know that they don’t.

AndyK
AndyK
1 year ago

Juiced e-biker possibly going 33mph the wrong way on a path puts a guy in the hospital and takes off without sharing his information….he’s not one of us.

Derek Hski
Derek Hski
1 year ago

As I read through the comments, and various discussion points, specifically with the point of who’s going to back track if they feel as if they are going the wrong way. It is a super wide sidewalk, both sides are super wide, plus the bike lane on the traffic surface. The excuse of not turning around works if this is like the first time you have ever ridden across. Second, it is super easy to reach the path on both ends of the bridge, both form the bridge to path and path to bridge. I say super easy, to the point of its reasonable neglect to not choose the correct side.
This is from my own point of view, opinions vary. After one crossing, one with reasonable attention can see that are the means to say follow the common flow of traffic in the idea, that there’s a left and right side to common everyday flow.
I don’t see anything wrong in the concept of the Sidewalk being shared by multiple users, in multiple directions. I prefer to ride the sidewalks on the Sellwood bridge, versus the traffic bike lane, which I do ride lots and lots of road ways.
I do use both sides 95% of the time in the proper direction, and adjust my rate of speed accordingly based on pedestrians and other users in either direction.
I have owned motorcycles, but never a light weight motor cycles (also referred to as an Ebike). I don’t know if light weight motorcycles should be ridden on sidewalks? This is a biased opinion, but should there be a rule, law about motorized vehicles on pedestrian paths. It’s got a motor, right? I’m all for alternative forms of transit, but how do we make it all work together? Signed use to say, some still do, no motorize vehicles?
Again, I think the light weight motorcycle is constantly evolving. It’s a billion dollar industry for the bicycle companies, Billion$$$$ The bike industry is designed for profit, few bike companies are intended to loss money for their owners, investors, and must constantly re-invent themselves to gain more profit and market place. As to say, they want the Ebikes, but what is the defining line of safety for the Non-motorized pedestrians.
I do think that information should have been exchanged, I think all parties should have remained at the scene including the other witnesses. The Trimet driver was awesome to stop his bus and give aid, and openly requested the other rider to remain as to exchange information. I agree that there’s no exact wrong as in the sidewalk is two way. Was one of the two parties negligent?
Opinions may very. I feel an open discussion without belittlement and name calling would be a first step

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Hski

This makes me wonder–are e-bikes legal on the bridge sidewalk? I’m guessing they are, because I believe there’s no state law against it.

But going further, are they legal on the Willamette Greenway Trail? From this old article, they are not (but it’s not enforced): https://bikeportland.org/2018/09/18/city-says-e-bike-use-on-park-paths-is-a-violation-but-its-not-enforced-289611

So was the e-bike rider going the wrong way because he got there illegally? But if it was illegal to get there on the path, how else could an e-bike rider safety get to the bridge?–riding in the lanes on Macadam would be a good way to get drivers angry at you.

It seems like the important thing isn’t what the answers are, it’s that e-bike rules seem murky, and the ambiguity that may be fine generally doesn’t work when there’s a crash and liability to resolve.

JP
JP
1 year ago

Why does the Sellwood Bridge have the raised bike+ped paths *and* bike lanes in the roadway? The bike lanes in the roadway offer no protection from speeding traffic and are downright scary to use. It seems the space dedicated to those bike lanes could have been used to make the sidewalk paths slightly wider.

qqq
qqq
1 year ago
Reply to  JP

As I understand, the space the bike lane occupies was required by the project as an emergency/breakdown lane for vehicles. So it would be there sitting empty if not used also as a bike lane. So the sidewalk couldn’t have been made wider without the bridge being widened.

Several commenters here have said they prefer riding in it, because they’re faster riders and they avoid mixing with people walking, dogs, and slow bikers on the sidewalk. And having faster riders off the sidewalk is a benefit for people on the sidewalk.

Derek Hski
Derek Hski
1 year ago

It continuation to my earlier comment. Since 1/1/2023 I have crossed the Sellwood bridge some 19 times? One day I crossed four times. Lets be super honest, there is no limited visibility due to the arch of the span, One can see 200 feet of more ahead of themselves. The side walk is huge, like 5 – 6 maybe more bikes handlebar widths with say 42 – 44 bars…Even when there are people walking its super easy to ride past.
In addition, on three occasions, I encountered riders going the opposite direction of not only traffic, but also the arrows on the sidewalk. Yes, Sidewalks have no direction, we have heard that, but lets be honest in the fact that its a common courtesy that one walks, runs, rides the bicycle on the right.
I actually mentioned the Wrong side to one rider, which I got a “Yeah right” response….. They were heading west on the eastbound side… I just thought I would raise the subject, I take for their response that they could careless. It was a cyclist, dressed for cycling, no one was racing, and we gave each other plenty of space, there was not a single pedestrian on the South side of the bridge that AM.
I just thought I would share this.
When it comes to this unfortunate indecent / accident, It was just that an accident. There will probably me more.
I also saw a Honda Elite 80 gas (vespa like) moped heading north on the bike path behind Oaks Park. Clearly not a Non-motorized vehicle. They had a full motorcycle helmet on, and honestly were traveling at what I would say was a slow pace, like 20 mph…. just found it interesting to share. It’s kinda a brave new world out there in which the common person now decides what rules apply to them or the lack there of..
This is an opinion piece, you are welcome to not agree with any of it. Discussions are more than accepted and I’m open to listen as well.

Paul
Paul
1 year ago

Good article – clearly explained what happened and the problem (with maps!). Thanks!