Cyclists want concrete barriers on Burnside Bridge

Activists are asking the city to better protect pedestrians and bikers on the bridge

Bicyclists block a lane on the Burnside Bridge to protest what they say are unsafe conditions for bikers and pedestrians, June 15, 2015 (KOIN)
Bicyclists block a lane on the Burnside Bridge to protest what they say are unsafe conditions for bikers and pedestrians, June 15, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The day after a 36-year-old man was killed after being hit by a car while walking on the Burnside Bridge, activists are fighting back.

A memorial ride and protest took place at 5 p.m. at the first bastion (the south one) on the west side of the bridge. The protest was organized by BikeloudPDX. Activists are pushing the city to better protect pedestrians and bikers.

Giant concrete barriers should be placed on the bridge to separate bikers and drivers, said Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.

The scene of the crash on the Burnside Bridge Sunday afternoon, June 14, 2015. (KOIN)
The scene of the crash on the Burnside Bridge Sunday afternoon, June 14, 2015. (KOIN)

George Ben “Benjamin” Carlson was killed after a driver, who might have suffered a medical episode, struck him on Sunday afternoon. Carlson was walking with 35-yer-old Bridget Larrabee, who was also struck and injured.

A makeshift memorial is set up near the spot where Carlson and Larrabee were hit.

Miranda Kubasti lives in Seattle, but was in Portland Monday. She said Seattle seems to have more separation between bikes and cars than Portland does.

“I mean, the cars are really close to us now (on the Burnside Bridge) and they’re really loud,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I think it could be friendlier.”

BikePortland published an editorial Monday specifically calling out the Portland City Council: “Get out here and do something before someone else gets hit or killed.”

Maus with BikePortland said, “There’s just no political will to make these really basic changes that would not only protect people’s lives but would also send a real tangible symbol to the community that, ‘Hey, we have your back, we care about this issue and we’re willing to do something about it.”

Maus said he would like to see big concrete barriers on the Burnside Bridge separating vehicles and bikes. That, he said, would signal Portland is serious about being bike-friendly.

Mayor Charlie Hales’ spokesperson, Dana Haynes, said the most recent city budget includes nearly $20 million for transportation safety. Haynes said more safety money is on the way through the new Vision Zero initiative to prevent more bike and pedestrian injuries and deaths.

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