The sidewalks on the St. Johns Bridge are already extremely narrow and stressful. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Oregon Department of Transportation announced yesterday that a maintenance project on the St. Johns Bridge will result in the closure of one sidewalk for two months. ODOT will close one sidewalk for two, 30-day periods in order to stage construction equipment.
The project, which will reinforce the framework of the bridge to handle more and heavier auto and truck traffic, means bicycle users who use the sidewalks will share the narrow sidewalk space with more people than ever. This is a big deal because the sidewalks are only five feet wide and traffic around the St. Johns Bridge is notoriously unsafe. [Read more…]
ODOT traffic cam view of the crash. Arrow points to Ford pick-up hit by speeding Kia driver.
A 71-year-old man died Saturday night while driving on the St. Johns Bridge. Keizer resident John Crook was the 41st person to die on Portland roads this year (we had 35 deaths at this time last year).
Crook’s death comes one year after hundreds of Portlanders biked onto the bridge and held a vigil for Mitch York, who was killed by a reckless driver at the same intersection.
In Saturday’s collision, police say Crook was driving a Kia Optima westbound on the bridge “at a high rate of speed” and failed to stop for the red light at Bridge Avenue. Crook ran into someone driving a Ford F-150. The impact from the collision was so powerful that the truck — at nearly twice the size of the small Kia — flipped over and landed off the roadway on its roof. The two people inside the truck sustained what police call “non life-threatening injuries” (a term that bothers me, because it glosses over what could be horrific, life-altering injuries).
This crash underscores that the design of the St. Johns Bridge, that advocates have been concerned about for many years, is unsafe for everyone. People drive dangerously on the bridge in part because the design lets them. The Oregon Department of Transportation, who ignored recommendations (from the City of Portland, advocates, Metro, and engineering consultants) for a safer cross-section in 2005, has kept the bridge as a four-lane thoroughfare. The wide-open design gives drivers a false sense of security and encourages dangerous behaviors that put human lives at risk. [Read more…]
Images from the sentencing hearing for Joel Schrantz. Top: Jenni York and her daughter Carly York hug after the hearing; Judge Eric Bloch. Bottom: defendant Joel Schrantz. (Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
KATU reporter Reed Andrews shoveled gravel on sidewalk of St. Johns Bridge last night. (Watch video of the story below.)
With a shovel in his hand to drive the point home, Portland reporter Reed Andrews with KATU (our ABC affiliate) highlighted the problem of gravel in the bike lanes on their news broadcast last night.
Andrews focused his story on the layer of gravel on the St. Johns Bridge sidewalk we reported on Tuesday. He interviewed the owner of Block Bikes, a bike shop just steps away from the east end of the bridge who vouched for the problems it causes for his customers. The story also included an interview with a bicycle rider who said he often rides miles out of his way just to avoid riding the bridge sidewalk. [Read more…]
It’s unacceptable to force road users to make a dangerous choice between being run down by fast-moving drivers or riding over small slippery rocks on a narrow sidewalk. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
The only refuge from fast-moving (and often irate) people driving cars across the St. Johns Bridge is still covered in a layer of gravel a month after the last snow storm.
As we first reported nearly three weeks ago, while driving is pretty much back to normal following major snow storms, biking is still hazardous. Massive potholes plague streets and many bike lane markings have all but vanished due to the constant scraping from tire chains, plows, studded tires, and gravel. And there are still many trees and limbs that block bicycle-only lanes — forcing people into adjacent lanes which increases the risk of collisions.
All our various road agencies need to place a much higher priority on the safety of all road users when it comes to their storm clean-up plans.
One of the most egregrious spots is on the sidewalk of the St. Johns Bridge. There’s so much gravel that in some parts you can’t see the surface of the sidewalk. This is a big deal because the St. Johns Bridge is a vital bicycling connection and the roadway lacks bike lanes. With large diesel trucks rumbling inches away, the narow St. Johns Bridge sidewalks are already sketchy enough. Add slippery gravel and you’ve got even more stressful situation. [Read more…]
Like many areas of Portland, St. Johns residents are fed-up with their streets being dominated by people who drive too fast and cut-through their neighborhoods to avoid congestion. Another issue on the minds of many last night was how their part of the city is hemmed in by large arterial streets managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation to prioritize freight traffic at the expense of everything else.
“Trucks drive fast past homes and crosswalks,” someone scrawled on a piece of paper that was turned in after the meeting. “And the road is too small for them… Residents don’t open their windows because of the fumes!” [Read more…]
The St. Johns Bridge looking west. (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)
Despite multiple demands over the years to improve bike access on the St. Johns Bridge, the Oregon Department of Transportation has used many different excuses for why the current lane configuration simply cannot change. And it turns out their latest excuse — that state design guidelines for freight traffic require 19-foot wide lanes in both directions — is untrue. [Read more…]
“I understand you’re upset, but don’t make my long commute worse by backing up traffic… You don’t have the right to impede my way home on a public street. Try standing on the sidewalk with signs regarding your concerns.” — Email to BikePortland about last night’s protest ride on the St. Johns Bridge.
It happens every time there’s a high profile fatality involving a bicycle in Portland: People who never read BikePortland see me talking on the news or read my quotes in articles and they can’t resist giving me a piece of their mind. They will sometimes leave voicemails on our tipline; but they usually email.
The recent fatal collision on the St. Johns Bridge has spurred a lot of local media coverage and as a result my inbox was full of several such emails. It’s one thing when people spout of hate-filled screeds in The Oregonian/OregonLive comments section (a vile place); but it’s much different when they take the time to share their opinion with the local bike blog.
I want to share a few of these emails with you because I feel it’s important that we have a clear understanding where people are coming from when it comes to transportation culture in Portland. Keep in mind, the views expressed from the people below are relatively reasonable compared to anonymous online comments. Also keep in mind that these are the same people who are very likely to take the time to write their elected leaders when a bike-related infrastructure investment or policy is being debated. [Read more…]
The Traffic Division is stationed right at the eastern end of the bridge and they took advantage of their presence on last night’s ride to conduct an enforcement action — a.k.a. “traffic safety mission”. The bureau also said the recent death of Mitch York was a key motivator of this action.
The result: According to a police bureau statement they made 43 stops in just two hours. 30 citations were written and they made 13 warnings. The violations were “numerous” but predominantly for speeding. One person was arrested for driving on a suspended license.
Imagine if we did more enforcement like this and Joel Schrantz — the man driving with a suspended license who lost control of his vehicle and killed Mitch York on Saturday — was arrested before he had a chance to commit that tragic act of violence? [Read more…]