electric mountain bike

A signalized crossing for bike traffic on the new Burnside Bridge?

A signalized crossing for bike traffic on the new Burnside Bridge? 2020-10-14Leave a comment

electrical bike A signalized crossing for bike visitors on the brand new Burnside Bridge?

Ramp proposed for brand spanking new Burnside Bridge.
(Graphics: Multnomah County)

There’s a difficulty with the forthcoming Burnside Bridge that’s vexing county and metropolis planners: How you can join bicycle riders on the east aspect of the Willamette River as much as the brand new protected bike lanes on the bridge deck – and vice versa.

This monstrosity is barely utilized by bicycle riders and is way from ADA compliant.

The Eastbank Esplanade is a vital north-south biking route that’s presently all however reduce off from the Burnside Bridge and the bustling central eastside. Few bicycle customers will carry their automobiles up the lengthy flights of stairs that exist right this moment. And in the event that they do, they’re dropped on the south aspect (eastbound) of the bridge and unable to entry the westbound bike lane except they skirt throughout a number of lanes of visitors.

Multnomah County (the company that owns the bridge) needs to make it simpler for bicycle riders (and walkers, wheelchair customers, scooter riders, and so forth) to get on and off their $825 million bridge and they should have a greater connection in place earlier than they break floor in 2024. The present idea is a ramp with switchbacks on the south aspect of the bridge that will connect with the Esplanade the place the staircase is right this moment. And much like these stairs, it will give bicycle riders solely restricted entry the bridge.

In case you had been coming eastbound into downtown, you’d must go in opposition to visitors on the bridge to entry the ramp. You’d have comparable issues in case you had been on the Esplanade and needed to go downtown. Each situations would require some mixtures of harmful crossing and/or out-of-direction journey.

Ultimately night time’s Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) assembly, a marketing consultant working with the county requested committee members for his or her enter on two choices (see under): extending the ramp underneath the bridge to the north aspect, or including a signalized crossing on the bridge from the south to north aspect. The choices had been offered by the mission’s technical lead Steve Drahota of HDR, Inc.

Central Eastside with typical bike routes in yellow.

Prolonged ramp crossing underneath the bridge

Drahota referred to this as an “under-bridge passageway” that will join the proposed ramp on the south aspect to the north aspect of the bridge. It will be much like the ramps close to the Metal Bridge, however with extra vertical hole, it will want three switchbacks as a substitute of two.

A slide Drahota shared confirmed solely two “execs” and a “entire lot of cons.” On the plus aspect, it wouldn’t impression bridge visitors in any respect and it will give path customers a path to bail out when bridge lifts happen.

On the unfavourable aspect, the prolonged ramp can be fairly lengthy in an effort to stay ADA compliant (5% gradient or much less) and transfer individuals the 50 ft up from the river and throughout the 115-foot huge bridge. And as a lot of you understand from expertise on the I-205 path, underpasses can really feel unsafe particularly if there are individuals dwelling on them. Drahota additionally talked about that the ramp construction can be extra pricey to construct and preserve and wouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing.

Signalized crossing on bridge deck

The County appears to be favoring the choice of a visitors sign on the bridge. The sign would give individuals a secure method to cross the bridge and Drahota mentioned, “We really feel this offers a way more intuitive route.” He additionally rattled off an inventory of causes it’s a greater possibility than the prolonged ramp: It’s a extra intuitive connection, it offers higher visibility/public security than an underpass, and it will be cheaper to construct.

The downsides of the sign are that it might delay bridge visitors and the bike lane design must embrace ready zones for individuals as they queue for the sunshine.


Drahota and PBOT Bike Planner Roger Geller additionally shared final night time they’ve mentioned two-way bike visitors on the south aspect off the bridge — both for your complete bridge span or simply between Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and the ramp entry level.

Drahota mentioned a two-way facility on the south aspect can be difficult, however not not possible. “Including a two-way facility throughout the bridge is just not low cost,” he mentioned. “It does construct in a reasonably hefty price ticket. However from a feasibility standpoint, it’s possible.”

He pointed to width constraints on the Burnside/Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd intersection that wouldn’t present sufficient area to create a two-way bike lane on the south aspect and preserve a motorbike lane on the north aspect (after all he makes that calculation whereas sustaining the overwhelming majority of the highway width for traditional lanes). Drahota mentioned another choice could be to carry bike visitors from SE Ankeny and construct a ramp on the location of a constructing on SE 2nd Avenue that’s slated for improvement.

There’s additionally the opportunity of eradicating all non-driving visitors from the north aspect and placing it on the south aspect. A two-way bike lane and sidewalk on one aspect of the bridge makes some connections simpler, however it will additionally come at the price of dropping a motorbike community connection on the north aspect of the bridge.

“What do you lose by giving that up? In case you don’t have a westbound facility on the north aspect?” Geller requested rhetorically, “Positive we are able to make it work two methods on the south aspect, however that’s the query we have to reply.”

The County remains to be early within the design section of the mission and these conversations will proceed within the coming months. Keep tuned for extra protection and alternatives to share your suggestions. Study extra at the County’s website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Assist this impartial neighborhood media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.