Cyclists call for safer bridge: ‘We don’t want to get killed’

Hundreds came out for protest ride following cyclist's death on St. Johns Bridge

Hundreds participated in a protest ride days after a cyclist was killed on the St. Johns Bridge, November 3, 2016. (KOIN)
Hundreds participated in a protest ride days after a cyclist was killed on the St. Johns Bridge, November 3, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a show of unity and remembrance, hundreds of cyclists rode across the St. Johns Bridge days after a crash killed one of their own.

Cyclist Mitch York, 55, died Saturday after a driver lost control of his car and slammed into him on the bridge.

In the wake of York’s death, members of Portland’s cycling community called on the Oregon Department of Transportation to designate bike lanes in both directions of the St. Johns Bridge before another life is lost.

Hundreds participated in a protest ride days after a cyclist was killed on the St. Johns Bridge, November 3, 2016. (KOIN)
Hundreds participated in a protest ride days after a cyclist was killed on the St. Johns Bridge, November 3, 2016. (KOIN)

“We’re people, we’re out here and we don’t want to get killed,” cyclist Rachel Cameron told KOIN 6 News.

Cameron was among hundreds of cyclists who came out for Thursday night’s protest ride with the goal of raising visibility for cyclists on local roads and bridges.

Participants flashed lights and held signs telling drivers to slow down.

“A lot of times we go unnoticed or unseen,” Ashley Lance said. “When cyclists are biking their full attention is on their ride, it would be nice if drivers did the same.”

Police shut down the St. Johns Bridge to all traffic during the event for a 10-minute period of silence to honor York’s life. Some fought back tears as the gravity of the loss of life that happened on the bridge just days ago sunk in.

“We’re all people,” Lance said. “We’re all someone to someone else.”

Hundreds participated in a protest ride days after a cyclist was killed on the St. Johns Bridge, November 3, 2016. (KOIN)
Hundreds participated in a protest ride days after a cyclist was killed on the St. Johns Bridge, November 3, 2016. (KOIN)

ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton previously said the bridge is old, narrow and not up to modern standards. But ODOT has taken some steps to make it safer.

Hamilton said he isn’t sure adding bike lanes would have prevented the crash.

Joel Schrantz, 42, the man reportedly responsible for the crash, is charged with criminally negligent homicide.

The St. Johns neighborhood will host a forum on November 14 to discuss the issue of safety on the bridge for everyone, not just cyclists. See the flyer below for details.

The St. Johns neighborhood will host a forum on November 14 to discuss the issue of safety on the bridge.
The St. Johns neighborhood will host a forum on November 14 to discuss the issue of safety on the bridge.