Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bicycle Congestion on the Hawthorne Bridge. Possible Solutions?

It has been pointed out that the Hawthorne Bridge is currently experiencing a bit of bicycle congestion, especially considering the new lane stripings. Various solutions have been proposed to fix this issue on the Hawthorne, by dividing up the available space differently. (It has also been suggested that the Morrison Bridge will get bike lanes soon, and that perhaps a new bike-only bridge is needed.) Here's what the new striping looks like on the Hawthorne:

I think the best solution here is to just expand the pie, not try to make the slices smaller.

Hawthorne seems set to me. It's got bicycle access, ped access, probably will get a trolley, already has buses, cars, trucks, etc. Set. No problems there, really. It's approaching perfection in many ways.

The problem is lack of parallel bike crossings, which results in too many people using Hawthorne who could be using another bridge if one existed that was convenient to bikes.

I remember when the Morrison had temporary bike lanes, during the temporary closure of the Hawthorne for the retrofit during the 90s. I believe it was a two-way lane on the south side of the bridge, if memory serves, and it worked well. Something like that in 2008/9 (when the Morrison is due for a retrofit itself) should provide a little bit of bicycle congestion relief to the Hawthorne.

Another idea, which it seems people are tip-toeing around, is to construct a new Salmon Street Bridge that would be bike/ped only. My suggestion: Make it extra-wide, say 40-60 feet or so. Use the extra space for retail. Even been to Venice or Florence, Italy? They've got retail bridges there. Like the Ponte Vecchio:

It's an amazing experience to go shopping on a bridge. Bikes could get lanes on the outside of the brige, peds could walk through the center of the bridge and shop. The rent from the shops could be bonded against and used to construct the bridge. Call it a public/private partnership. The Portland Spirit dock would need to be moved, and a new I-5 crossing would probably need to be figured out on the east side to get Salmon Street bike boulevard users across the f('ing)-way, but I think it could work. Here's what the Ponte Vecchio looks like from the pedestrian perspective:

That'd be WONDERFUL. Call it the Cadillac (or Mercedes) solution to bike/ped river crossings. Only issue: It would need to raise up and down. Would shops be willing to make the ride, or would it need to have a central plaza between the shops for the lifty bit?

Third solution: The Caruthers Crossing. It will probably be built sometime in the teens, given current trends, though by 2010 isn't completely out of the question yet. 2012 is more likely and 2014 realistic. When it gets constructed, bike/ped access should be an absolute *requirement*. This will help everybody coming from Division street or further south get across the river. However, it's going to have a bit of a slope to it, so there will be more of a hill to get up over -- it won't be a lifty bridge, so it'll need to be high enough to allow ships to pass beneath it unimpeded, as per Coast Guard regulations. But, that sure would help the SoWa neighborhood get more connected to the hip east side, too!! Here's a photo of what it's supposed to look like:

Maybe shops & retail could also go on the new Caruthers bridge... I think it's certainly an idea worth exploring. Yet another opportunity for a public/private partnership.

Anyways, food for thought.


No comments: