Bicyclists rally to protest death on St. Johns Bridge

Cyclists rally in honor of crash victim

PORTLAND, Ore. – More than 100 bicyclists held a 10-minute moment of silence on the St. Johns Bridge to honor a 55-year-old man who was hit and killed while riding a bike there on Oct. 29.

The driver, Joel Aaron Schrantz, was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of Mitchell Todd York of Northeast Portland.

Schrantz had 31 prior driving convictions. 

According to the “Take the Lane” Facebook page, the protest demonstrated against the 37 traffic-related deaths in the city this year. Organizers also hope the Oregon Department of Transportation makes roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

"Who will it be next? Your friend? Your child? Your Brother, sister, mother or father? Your significant other? You?" The event page says. 

"We didn't know Mitch but this bridge is an important route for a lot of people we know and nobody feels like it's a safe place at this point," said cyclist Hazel Gross. "We want people to come out and have presence and remember Mitch who seemed to love cycling as much as we do."

The St. Johns Bridge has four lanes, none of which are dedicated bike lanes. It is a busy bridge that carries freight traffic, commuters, bicyclists and pedestrians on a daily basis.

ODOT told KGW it considered adding bike lanes to the bridge in 2003 but the idea was shot down due to the possibility of increased traffic and state regulations that mandate freight routes to have at least 19 feet of lanes in either direction. In all, the St. Johns Bridge is 40-feet wide.

Critics say ODOT can work around that regulation due to safety concerns.

"I think we're ahead of a lot of American cities and a long way from where we need to be," said cyclist Chris Smith.

More: Bike lanes on St. Johns Bridge nixed in 2003

A non-scientific poll showed fewer people support adding bike lanes on the St. Johns Bridge than oppose them.


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