50,000 Portlanders Turn Out to Preview the Car-Free “People’s Bridge”

Photos: Michael Andersen/BikePortland
Photos: Michael Andersen/BikePortland

On Sunday residents of Portland got a preview of Tilikum Crossing, a.k.a. the “Bridge of the People,” described by Michael Andersen of BikePortland as “the first bridge in the United States to carry buses, bikes, trains, streetcars and people walking but no private cars.”

Tilikum Crossing is the first bridge constructed over the Willamette River in over 40 years. “Tilikum” is Chinook for “people,” and Andersen says they turned out in droves to cross their bridge ahead of its official opening in a few weeks.

The crossings began with an early-morning VIP ride and continued with the Providence Bridge Pedal bike ride, then an open crossing for people with disabilities and finally by the three-hour “People’s Preview” for anyone and everyone.

TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch, helping direct traffic at the west landing, was one of several TriMet officials present to marvel at the throngs who showed up. At about 3 p.m., with more than an hour left to go, she estimated that more than 20,000 people had crossed.

By mid-evening after the event, she’d upped her estimate to “40,000 to 50,000.”

“Where are they all coming from?” deputy project director Dave Unsworth asked happily about an hour later, as people continued to stream across the river. He was straddling a bicycle on the west landing and directing people to avoid getting their wheels stuck between the MAX tracks. “Are they arriving in busloads on the other side?”

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Elsewhere on the Network today: Second Avenues Sagas reports that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has disavowed responsibility for New York rail infrastructure, and Greater Greater Washington says the DC Department of Transportation plans to protect Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes from U-turning drivers.

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