First, a little background about the Hawthorne Bridge:
As you can see, there are two car lanes in the middle, a concrete/steel barrier, another car lane on the outside on each side, and then a 10 foot pedestrian/bicycle path on either side. I would guess that the side path is raised a foot to a foot and a half above the floor of the car lanes.
So, last week, a girl was riding along in the afternoon, close to the edge of the side path on the side of the car lanes. A guy came up towards the center of the path, but someone was coming the opposite way on the path, so he kept moving closer and closer to the girl trying to get between her and the oncoming pedestrians. He eventually bumped into her and knocked her off the side path into the car lane. She is injured, but ok. Thankfully, a motorist who was in the outside car lane was paying attention and was able to stop before running her over.
This was posted about on a local bike blog, and many of the comments on the post were essentially “the bike path just needs to be widened because there’s too much traffic,” or “we need to move pedestrians so we don’t have to deal with them,” or things of that nature. Others expressed concerns about Dutch-style cycle paths, that they won’t be able to ride fast on them and that they dislike car-free areas in town already because they have to watch out for people.
To be quite honest, it reminded me very strongly of all the attitudes those same people complain about in automobile drivers. We just need bigger roads! Just get rid of the bicycles, they’re in the way! The roads would be much better if I didn’t have to watch out for all those other people!
Personally, I love riding over the Hawthorne Bridge most of the time, because it’s one of the only places in the city I get to ride in a group of cyclists. In general, I see most people interacting well on the bridge. I’ve ridden over it when it’s been fairly crowded, and when everyone just takes their time, it works just fine. Probably one day, the path really will need to be expanded. For now, all it needs is cooperation.
Those of you who don’t want to share space with pedestrians and slower cyclists – there are plenty of other cities in the US where you can be the only cyclist around. I suggest checking them out.
Edit – just a few minutes after I finished writing this, the following comment ended up on said local bike blog:
The people on this board who want to turn Portland into Copenhagen make me feel that I’ll likely want to move to some place that less “bike-friendly” in about 10-15 years or so after they get their way.
Here at Portlandize, we don’t necessarily want to turn Portland into an exact clone of Copenhagen, but we do want people to share public space respectfully. If you’re not willing to do so, we re-iterate our invitation to check out other cities, sooner rather than later.