Bikes to be detoured off Broadway Bridge

A bicyclist on the Broadway Bridge in Portland, July 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A bicyclist on the Broadway Bridge in Portland, July 11, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — About 4,500 cyclists ride over the Broadway Bridge every day in the summer. But next week, those thousands of bike riders will have to find a Plan B.

7-11-13-broadway bridge map
Map of the Broadway and Steel bridges spanning the Willamette River at downtown Portland. (KOIN 6 News Graphic)

That’s when the city begins laying down a non-stick surface on the sidewalk, expected to make the surface on the city’s second most-popular bridge safer during Portland’s rainy months.

For three days next week, crews need to do work on the pedestrian and bike lane. Both sidewalks on the Broadway Bridge will be closed from Tuesday to Thursday next week. As such, cyclists and pedestrians are getting rerouted to the Steel Bridge instead. That’s about a half mile away.

“It will definitely add a few minutes to my commute,” said one cyclist KOIN 6 News talked to Wednesday.

Bicyclists and traffic mingle on the Broadway Bridge in Portland, July 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Bicyclists and traffic mingle on the Broadway Bridge in Portland, July 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

But cyclists can legally jump in the lane with cars. One cycling group, frustrated with the lack of accommodation for cyclists, is encouraging its members to do just that.

“It would be very rare that the city would close it down on a weekday for cars,” said a representative with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “And what we’re saying is we’re a significant part of traffic; we need to be accommodated.”

Wednesday’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance blog was titled “It’s okay.  Take the lane.” The post was meant to remind the group’s nearly 4,000 members that the closure doesn’t mean they have to add a mile onto their commute. But more than anything, BTA wants to send the message that bikers should be considered just as much as drivers.

The city recommends cyclists take the streetcar or ride over the Steel Bridge, adding about a mile onto the commute.  Rob Sadowsky believes the city should designate bike lanes during construction.

Bicyclists on the Broadway Bridge in Portland, July 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Bicyclists on the Broadway Bridge in Portland, July 11, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

The city tried something similar in the fall of 2012 during construction: one lane was closed to vehicular traffic to allow for bikes.

“It was a complete disaster,” said one observer. “[It] backed up traffic all the way to NW 21st Avenue on Lovejoy.”

Dylan Rivera with the Portland Bureau of Transportation told KOIN 6 News every option was considered for the Broadway Bridge sidewalk closure. And he said the three-day closure for pedestrians and bikes was the best they came up with.

The pedestrian lanes close at 9 a.m. Tuesday and reopen at 5:30 a.m. Friday — so there will be a total of five rush-hour commutes impacted by the closure. The Portland Streetcar is offering free rides over the Broadway Bridge during the closure


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