Copenhagen on the Willamette
Over at Hard Drive, Joseph Rose reports on growing congestion in Portland — on the bike lanes.
There are now so many people riding bicycles in Portland that we have bike traffic jams on the city’s bridges. And statistics suggest that the handlebar-to-handlebar congestion is growing faster than the bumper-to-bumper variety.
Since the mid-1990s, for example, vehicle traffic — motorized and pedaled — on the Hawthorne has increased 20 percent. But the volume of auto traffic has increased only a little more than 1 percent. Bus traffic, meanwhile, has held steady.
Cyclists — now about 7,400 a day — account for almost the entire surge.
This despite a less-than-stellar facility:
Of course, if you want to walk or bike across the Hawthorne, it’s not the most zenlike experience. You’re confined to a 10-foot-wide sidewalk.
On the right, a rail keeps you from steering into the drink. On the left, nothing but lucidity and smart riding keeps cyclists from falling a foot onto the metal-grated motor lane.
But it seems engineers’ hands are tied:
But the reality is that the county can’t do much else on the 98-year-old Hawthorne.
In 1999, it spent $2 million to widen the sidewalks from 6 to 10 feet, which required extending steel supports under the bridge and installing lighter panels in the lift span.
Any wider, engineers say, and the bridge will start to buckle. Also, there would be no room for TriMet buses. There isn’t even room to add railings.
The county has created passing lanes for bikes approaching the east end. It has added markings to help separate cyclists and pedestrians. But several ideas have been deemed unmanageable.
Bike improvements planned on other bridges should ease the bike jams.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at 2:52 pm and is filed under Bicycles, Cities, Commuting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.