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Again, angst over giving directions

Friday was another long-walk day, with me leaving downtown by a route I often took back when I worked at OHSU. I walked the sidewalk of the Ross Island Bridge; I was the only person either walking or bicycling on that sidewalk at that time. (I wonder if the opening of the far more pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly Tilikum Crossing has cut down on most Ross Island Bridge foot traffic.)

But right before I got to the bridge, a vehicle taking the ramp from the bridge westbound to the I-5 southbound ramp slowed down, drove around the sidewalk island I was about to cross to, and stopped. Pointing the wrong way on an on-ramp; it'd be facing any vehicles needing to turn from SW Kelly (leaving downtown) onto the freeway. The woman on the passenger side unrolled the window, and the man driving leaned over and asked me "Hey, where's the Old Spaghetti Factory?"

Shoot, I froze up. I get worried about steering someone wrong, or confusing them, and the roads at the west end of that bridge are confusing for giving directions. Wanting to be quick, I apologized that I didn't have directions, and just added "It's south of here." The driver, to his credit, moved quickly and got going, and got off of the ramp where he'd been pointed the wrong way, heading north on Kelly.

That's when it dawned on me that until he'd turned to rendezvous with me, the driver had already been pointed the right direction: that I-5 on-ramp also has a lane to get not only to South Waterfront, but to SW Bancroft St., the street that that location of the Old Spaghetti Factory is on. IT ALMOST WOULD HAVE BEEN SIMPLE. Except even if I had realized that while he was stopped, would my telling him "Just go the way you were going!" have gotten him to try and turn around right there, with traffic coming fast off of the bridge and maybe with traffic coming from downtown too? This could have gone badly.

I wish I'd just pointed towards the tall, striking South Waterfront buildings looming beyond the bridge and said "It's on the other side of those." That would've been a better guide.

I'll hope they figured out how to get to where they wanted to go.


Whale fluke
Chris Walsh

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February 2024


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