Designing our Oregon bridges..(can we bike them?)

We are in a unique time where we can decide upon the design of two new bridges in Portland. Not new really, as they are replacements, but we have the opportunity to make them new, and interesting, and useful for many years to come.  It has been 30 years since a our last  significant bridge project (Sauvie Island bridge doesnt count as significant) and I hope we don’t let it slip by and build some nondescript flat deck concrete structure.  Dylan Rivera wrote a great article in the Oregonian, titled “Can we afford pretty?”  It is my hope that our new bridges add to the beauty of our area, like the St. Johns, not add to the web of concrete like the Marquam,  and George Abernathy. And of course, I want the bridges to be traversable by bikes.  Dylan’s article also included nice drawings of all the bridges that connect Oregon and Washington, and, as I looked at them, I began to think about which bridges can be crossed with a bike.
I dont have the graphics, but I can list them.

  1. Interstate Bridge – The bicycle access  is not great, but stay on the sidewalk and you can make it across. A little narrow, and not what most would call safe or fun.  Perhaps a newer bridge will use some of the knowledge we have gained over the years, to make this trip a little safer and more appealing to bike riders for years to come.
  2. Glenn Jackson – Easy access from the bike paths in Oregon, there is a path separated by concrete walls, between the North/South lanes.  Noisy, and can be very windy, but a safe ride. this is the newest bridge, and I think, the safest one to ride.
  3. Lewis and Clark Bridge – I first rode this bridge with a buddy nearly 30 years ago. Since then, we have crossed it during the Seattle to Portland ride put on by the Cascasde Bicycle Club.  For the ride they had pace cars to accompany groups of riders. If I rode it solo again, I would stay on the sidewalk.
  4. Astoria-Megler Bridge.  One very long bridge.  Again, I first rode this bridge on the return route from Canada, with my buddy so very long ago.  I don’t remember much about that ride over the bridge, but seems to me we might have walked on the sidewalk for part of that ride.  It was in the 70’s, and the term bike-friendly had not yet been invented.  Our last ride across this bridge was summer of 2008, with Cycle Oregon. We did ride on the roadway, in a white laned shoulder that has been slightly widened recently.  We were not escorted across, as I thought we might have been, but with so many riders on the road, the presence of a bike didn’t appear to surprise the drivers, so it at least felt safe. I dont know if I would want to ride that entire bridge if I were not in a group.
  5. Bridge of the Gods – there is a nice 80 mile loop that includes the Glenn Jackson and the Bridge of the Gods.  There used to be a 50 cent toll, but I have heard that has since been rescinded.  Honey hates riding this bridge, as it is pretty high up, and the decking is steel grating, and at bike speed the grate seems to disappear when you look down, so all you see is the river far below. You do ride on the deck, in the lane, but the traffic is slower, you are pretty visible, the bridge seems short and the drivers are usually patient.
  6. Hood River Bridge, The Dalles Bridge, Sam Hill Bridge and Umatilla Bridge. – I lump all these together, since I have not ridden my bike across them, nor am I sure you can even ride over them, safely or not.

I guess we will have to find out if riding a bike over these remaining bridge are at all possible.

Bike traffic is going to continue to increase in the years to come.  It would seem such a mistake if they are not adequately planned for with our new bridges.

One thought on “Designing our Oregon bridges..(can we bike them?)

  1. Hamoda

    I can’t understand why the hot weaethr would stop you from riding. Actually, there’s a reason why I try to head north to a locale such as Michigan, Wisconsin or Canada in August. I just can’t stand that St. Louis heat.


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