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Confidential mediation is no way to govern public decisions like 35th Ave NE bike lanes

Seattle Bike Blog - 6 hours 9 min ago

The plan for 35th Ave NE. Or is it? We can’t tell you because secret, ongoing meetings are confidential.

SDOT and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office has convened a confidential mediation session between a handful of people who support and oppose bike lanes at part of the city’s under-construction 35th Ave NE repaving project.

Seattle Bike Blog has been working for a while to learn details about these mediation sessions — which are paid for by public funds and could influence public investments on a public street — but has been unable to receive times and locations for the meetings so I can report about them for you.

Erica Barnett at the C Is For Crank reported today that the mediation is costing taxpayers $14,000, and Seattle Bike Blog has learned that this money is coming from SDOT. Barnett also reports that the completion of the project, which is already under construction, may be delayed because “SDOT is having an ongoing dialogue with the communities impacted by these projects,” according to a presentation to the City Council Transportation Committee (PDF).

There is no doubt that the opposition to 35th Ave NE bike lanes has been very organized. Several people behind the Save 35th Ave NE group have even formed a political action committee called Neighborhoods For Smart Streets PAC. Because saying people are not smart if they don’t agree car parking is more important than safety, that’s a great way to engage with your neighbors.

But regardless of the outcome, confidential mediation is an inappropriate way to make decisions about public investments, especially when we already have official policies and plans to guide such decisions. How are the participants for the mediation chosen? How do we know every Seattle resident is appropriately represented in these talks? Several of the anti-bike lane organizers happen to be lawyers. Do all parties have equal access to lawyers?

35th Ave NE passes though a very wealthy and white neighborhood compared to the rest of the city, but the investment to spend millions to repave that street is being made by all of us no matter where we live. Every street is of citywide importance. That’s why we make plans like the Bicycle Master Plan or policies like the Complete Streets Ordinance and the elected City Council passes them in the full light of day.

Maybe there is a place for confidential mediation in conducting city business, though my preference for open government makes me skeptical. But a project like 35th Ave NE that follows officially and publicly approved plans is not one of them. Just because a group gets organized or has the money to start a PAC doesn’t mean they should be able to get a separate mediation process from the city. What precedent does this set? Does every neighborhood group now get to demand confidential mediation for every city project they don’t like? Or just the wealthy ones?

If the goal of the mediation is to significantly change the design of a public investment project that has already gone through public meetings and a public contracting process, that is worrying. But if the goal is to see if bike lane supporters and opponents can come together and sing Kumbaya, that’s maybe less worrying but still a questionable use of SDOT funding. But I would definitely be there to cover their first concert together as newfound besties.

Part of the mediation rules requires both parties to refrain from making statements to their respective members or to the press. This is troubling to me as a believer in open meetings and public access, though Seattle Bike Blog doesn’t have a legal team or budget to look into the legality of such a restriction. But even if it is perfectly legal to do this, it feels wrong.

The official, public page for the project makes no mention of the mediation. Below is all the information I was able to get from SDOT and the Mayor’s Office. When I asked follow-up questions, the response was, “I’m sorry, but the department can’t comment on the mediation process beyond what was shared yesterday.”

In partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Councilmember Johnson, and SDOT, John Howell (from the consulting firm Cedar River Group) is mediating conversations regarding the 35th Ave NE Project with neighborhood and community members, including bike advocates, attempting to find common ground and project improvements to address the needs of the community.

While this effort is underway, contractor crews continue to repair street panels, replace curb ramps, repair sidewalks, and pave the road in the project corridor. The temporary striping that is on the road now will remain in place. We’ll provide an update on final striping to the community when we have more details on timing. You can sign up to receive our weekly email updates via our web page if you are interested.

City says e-bike use on park paths is a violation, but it’s not enforced

Bike Portland - 7 hours 33 min ago

Portland City Code prohibits e-bike use on paths like the Springwater.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Last summer we stumbled upon an inconvenient truth about electric bike use in Oregon State Parks. It turned out that despite their popularity, it was illegal to operate e-bikes on State Park paths and trails.

Thankfully, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) acknowledged the outdated rules and the State Parks Commission recently approved new ones that explicitly permit e-bike use on their facilities.

Now it appears the City of Portland might have the same problem.

“If the City is serious about accomplishing its goals, it needs to act soon to allow at least some level of e-bike and e-scooter access to these areas by non-disabled Portlanders.”
— Chris Thomas, lawyer

The city code that governs the use of vehicles on paths and trails managed by Portland Parks & Recreation, 20.12.170, prohibits the use of e-bikes. That means it’s technically illegal to ride one on the Springwater, Eastbank Esplanade, the Peninsula Crossing Trail, in Waterfront Park, Gateway Green, and so on. The only exception to the rule is the use of “electric mobility devices” that are used by, “persons who need assistance to be mobile.” In other words, people with disabilities.

That was news to me. And given how many people I see using e-bikes on those paths, this seems like a problem.

This issue was put on our radar screen thanks to an article written by Portland lawyer Chris Thomas earlier this month. Thomas is the son of well-known bike advocate and lawyer Ray Thomas and works at the law firm of Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost — the same firm that recently published a free legal guide for e-bike riders. (Disclaimer: They are also a BikePortland supporter.)

Thomas’ article asserts that current city code makes it illegal to use an e-bike in Portland parks and he urges the City of Portland to remedy the situation by updating the code. Here’s the salient excerpt (emphasis mine):

“…the provision that really caught my eye from the above code provision relates to e-bikes. 20.12.170(D) subsection (1) exempts e-bikes from the general prohibition on ‘motorized vehicle or motorized wheeled vehicle or motorized wheeled device’, but only when ‘used by persons who need assistance to be mobile.’

Therefore, non-disabled e-bike riders are granted no exception to the e-bike prohibition, and are prohibited on all Park paths throughout the City. According to the Portland Parks directory, Parks include not only the Springwater, Esplanade, and Waterfront Park, but also the Peninsula Crossing Trail, Gateway Green, Forest Park and Powell Butte. Indeed, Portland law excludes non-disabled e-bike riding on some of the City’s most convenient, safe, and scenic bicycle corridors.”

Before printing the article here, I wanted to give PP&R a chance to confirm or clarify Thomas’ reading of the law. I know bicycle law in general can be very murky because of its hybrid legal status — sometimes bikes are treated as human-powered vehicles with laws different from cars, and in some statutes they’re treated the same. Add an electric motor and you need a law degree to speak with any certainty.

And that’s just what PP&R did. They asked the Portland City Attorney for help before responding to my request.

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The relevant section of code.

It turns out Thomas is right. Here’s the final word from PP&R Public Information Officer Mark Ross:

“Yes, City Code (PCC 20.12.170.D) does prohibit e-bikes from operating on park property, unless being used as an electric mobility device. That includes trails like the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater and other properties managed by PP&R. This has been the case for years.

Having said that, our priority is always public safety. Our Park Rangers focus on educating people about safe operation of all equipment in shared use trails, and we not yet had any significant issues with e-bikes.”

What Ross is saying here is that, while the code prohibits the vast majority of e-bike use in Portland Parks, they aren’t actively enforcing it. This is because no one has complained about it yet and because they don’t have many staff rangers devoted to it.

“The Scooter Pilot and your question have had us looking closely at the code and the way people use (and would like to use) our public parks, while maintaining our focus on safety.”
— Mark Ross, Portland Parks & Recreation

I asked Ross if they’ll take a page out of OPRD’s book and update city code to explicitly make e-bike use by non-disabled people legal.

“The Scooter Pilot and your question have had us looking closely at the code and the way people use (and would like to use) our public parks, while maintaining our focus on safety,” Ross shared with us in his reply. “We are having internal discussions about e-bikes on PP&R-managed property. We cannot say with certainty that PP&R would be looking to allow further e-bike use in city parks (beyond the current criteria of only if used as a needed mobility device). The Bureau may have such discussions (or similar ones around amending city code in other ways in response to the presence of scooters/e-bikes) internally or with other bureaus such as PBOT, and even then, I don’t know the priority this would have over other Parks projects. With no firm plans nor timeframe for doing so, we do not wish to set expectations which could or would not be realized.”

In other words, for now you’re technically in violation of city code by riding your e-bike on Parks-managed paths and trails.

Thomas thinks that’s unacceptable — from both a legal and transportation policy standpoint.

Even if it’s not enforced, Thomas says if there’s a collision, the e-bike (or e-scooter) user could face an argument in court that they were a trespasser and shouldn’t have been in the park in the first place.

And anything that discourages the use of e-bikes on such important transportation corridors just isn’t in line with Portland’s ethos, Thomas argues.

“The prohibition of non-disabled e-bike use, as well as all e-scooter use, from many of our City’s prized bicycle and pedestrian facilities seems inconsistent with the City’s stated goals of fighting climate change, promoting non-car transportation, and improving safety for vulnerable road users,” he wrote in his article. “If the City is serious about accomplishing its goals, it needs to act soon to allow at least some level of e-bike and e-scooter access to these areas by non-disabled Portlanders.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Better Naito is Portland’s future. It’s time to embrace it

Bike Portland - 9 hours 31 min ago

*Video montage of Better Naito in action this summer courtesy of Streetfilms.

Today is an opportunity to demand better biking in Portland.

The Street Trust and Bike Loud PDX have teamed up to host a ride and rally for Better Naito. The event will start at Salmon Street Fountain at 5:00 pm today (Tuesday, 9/18). People will meet, mingle and make signs showing their support for this vital project and then they’ll ride as a group up and down Naito Parkway. The ride will end at the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan open house which runs from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at OMSI.

Despite four years of successful implementation, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to take down the protected lanes on Naito this weekend. Many concerned Portlanders want the lanes to stay. So far, the city hasn’t presented a reason for removal other than a promise that Better Naito would only be a “seasonal” facility.

Safety isn’t seasonal.

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(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Even though one of the main justifications for Better Naito is to protect the crowds who attend summer festivals in Waterfront Park, its benefits extend far beyond. It’s a key north-south corridor that connects to some of the busiest destinations in our bike network (the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges, the Stark and Oak couplet, and so on). Better Naito also relieves pressure from the multi-use path in Waterfront Park — a path that the Portland Parks Bureau has urged bike commuters to stay off of due to safety concerns.

The park path is too crowded and not intended for purposeful, A-to-B travel. And despite its shortcomings (a reflection of poor engineering and meager budget, not of its necessity) Better Naito is a big improvement. Take it away and Naito becomes a high-speed arterial were the least efficient, most dangerous, and most toxic vehicles on our roads dominate our waterfront.

That is madness.

Better Naito should stay in place until a new, improved, and permanent reconfiguration can be installed.

The project is a tangible incarnation of the future of Portland. We need to embrace it once and for all.

Lest you think this is just the naive vision of a bike activist; let’s recall that there’s $9 million sitting on PBOT’s desk that they’re eager to spend on protected lane projects like Better Naito throughout the central city.

On the same day Portlanders will rally in support of protected lanes, PBOT will host an open house for the Central City in Motion plan. That plan (which PBOT thinks they can drum up $30 million for once adopted by City Council next month) will prioritize a list of road redesigns that will significantly increase space for cycling, scooting, walking, and using transit. Once this network is complete, getting around Portland will be easier, safer, more efficient, and more equitable.

If you can spare the time, please consider showing up to Salmon Springs Fountain today around 5:00 pm to demonstrate your support for Better Naito and the future of biking in Portland.

See you there!

If you want to share feedback about Better Naito, email NaitoParkway@portlandoregon.gov. Also make sure you’ve weighed in on the 18 Central City in Motion projects under consideration at CentralCityinMotion.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Family Biking: Can’t ride? What’s your backup plan?

Bike Portland - 10 hours 47 min ago

Used the school bus for the first time yesterday!
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

What’s your backup plan when you can’t bike somewhere with your kids?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I jinxed myself by deciding on this topic last week and woke up sick Monday morning. I biked with my 4th grader one mile to Woodstock Elementary School for his 8:15 a.m. bell, but didn’t feel up to biking four miles to escort my 6th grader to his middle school’s (Hosford) 9:15 a.m. start time.

Enter, the school bus!

The middle school bus is very convenient — it picks up two blocks away from our house and we didn’t even need to sign up for it, just show up when you want to take it. This first time I walked with him and got the lay of the land from two of his last-year classmates who ride regularly (pro tip: try to sit by the front because the 8th graders sit in the back and play bad music and scream about boys when the bus goes by the high school, and the trip home is much worse than the trip in).

I got my work shift covered and slept all day, energetic enough to fetch my 4th grader at 2:30 p.m. and learn that he wants to start biking home alone this week — yay! Less to worry about for future sick days. Then I towed my 6th grader’s bike to middle school (cargo bikes are very handy, even when kids are mostly pedaling on their own) to meet him at 3:45 p.m.

He said the bus wasn’t too bad, but he doesn’t want to take it again…maybe to avoid hail, but not to avoid rain. I figure if there’s ever snow on the ground that feels too difficult to bike through, school will be canceled. So it’s not an all-encompassing backup plan, but it worked for Monday and should work in the future.

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So what’s your backup plan?

Driving is one pretty obvious answer, and I’d love to hear how you cars work for your family. What any other systems you’ve got in place? E-scooters? Biketown? Last year my neighbor offered to drive the kids to school if it ever rained (he didn’t know us very well back then), so carpooling is another option. Or public transportation. If I didn’t have a cargo bike, I could have pedaled my middle schooler’s bike to him and then rented myself an e-scooter to zoom home beside him.

Please share your backup plans in the comments! I’ll share some in a future post if there’s enough interest.

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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After further study, SDOT finds that Eastlake Ave still needs bike lanes

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 15:08

I thought we had already established this a few years ago during public outreach for Roosevelt RapidRide, but SDOT has tried again to find an alternative to building bike lanes on Eastlake Ave. And, just like before, the results are clear that Eastlake is the only good option.

The project team presented the latest study to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board earlier this month, and they found that the previously planned protected bike lanes on Eastlake are the best option for the project by essentially every measure other than car parking. They conducted a serious study of nine options, then narrowed that down to four, then found what anyone who bikes in the area could have told them: Eastlake is the only continuous option without very steep climbs that serves Eastlake businesses and connects the U Bridge to downtown.

And let’s not forget that the final phase of SR 520 work should include a bike connection from Eastlake to the 520 Trail, making Eastlake Ave even more important.

The study explored a new concept for the route that is, frankly, quite baffling. The city would build a protected bike lane northbound on Eastlake Ave, but would route people headed southbound down a steep 11 percent grade hill on E Roanoke Street to Yale Ave E, which curves to meet back up with Eastlake south of the neighborhood’s main business district (the city’s study did not seem to factor downhill grade in its analysis even though a steep downhill can also be a barrier to biking, especially if you have to make a turn mid-hill like this plan would require). One version would turn Yale into a one-way neighborhood greenway, which is not really a thing. Another version would include a protected bike lane on Yale, which would remove even more car parking than the Eastlake bike lanes.

The idea of splitting the bike route in this way is inherently flawed and would result in people biking southbound on Eastlake Ave without a bike lane. Not only is it confusing to essentially detour one direction of the bike route, but people headed southbound would have no safe way to access the neighborhood’s business district.

And since Eastlake Ave is where 39 of 40 reported bike-involved collisions occurred between 2012 and 2017, addressing bike safety on Eastlake Ave should be paramount.

You can see the options explored below to decide for yourself (excerpts are from this presentation PDF):

Floyd Landis to open three ‘cycling-themed’ cannabis stores in Portland

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 13:52

Floyd Landis in Portland for the launch of his hemp oil pills in July 2017.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Remember Floyd Landis? He’s the former professional road cyclist and Tour de France competitor who’s made a return to the public spotlight as the founder of a line of cannabis products.

Landis and his partner (and former teammate) David Zabriskie launched their Floyd’s of Leadville hemp oil pills in Portland last summer. Now they’re back in town with plans to open three retail stores that promise to be, “Portland’s first cycling-themed retail cannabis location.”

As the Willamette Week reported in June, Landis is re-branding three existing cannabis stores and transitioning them into the new “active-lifestyle” stores to be named Floyd’s Fine Cannabis.

Here’s more from a press statement:

“Floyd Landis is a former Tour de France winner and professional cyclist well-known for his work with the US Postal Service Cycling Team in the early 2000s. He was later sidelined by a number of difficulties including hip surgery at age 31. His subsequent discovery of cannabis for pain management led to him founding his non-psychoactive CBD products company Floyd’s of Leadville. He now is branching out into cannabis retail with Floyd’s Fine Cannabis… Floyd’s Fine Cannabis is about the integration of cannabis products into active lifestyles.”

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(Photo: Floyd’s of Leadville)

Also to come is a co-branded sock collaboration with Portland-based cycling and running lifestyle and apparel store The Athletic. We profiled The Athletic back in 2015 on the occasion of their first anniversary. In addition to selling the socks and other “active outdoor products that compliment [sic] cannabis,” the new Floyd’s Fine Cannabis stores will host regular bike rides and other events.

Grown Rogue Cycling Team.
(Photo: Grown Rogue Cycling Team/FB)

Lest you think this is Portland’s first direct commercial connection between cannabis and cycling, keep in mind that the Grown Rogue Cycling Team (links to Facebook) boasts 25 full time racers and has been competing in Oregon Bicycle Racing Association events all year. Grown Rogue is a “seed to sale” cannabis company based in Medford Oregon whose CEO and President Obie Strickler said in a 2017 press statement, “We believe our ethos and mantra at Grown Rogue fit well with the sport of cycling. Freedom, beauty, independence, healthy competition–the bicycle represents all these things.”

The grand opening party for Floyd’s Fine Cannabis will be held on September 30th at the NE Broadway location (801 NE Broadway).

For more on this topic, read Anne-Marije Rook’s article on CyclingTips.com, “Does cannabis belong in bike racing?”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Comment of the Week: Transit operator reminds us that scooter riders are not the problem

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:41

A man rides a scooter on NE 122nd near I-84.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Brendon Constans read our story about the free helmet giveaway and safety education event held in downtown Portland last week and felt his perspective as a transit vehicle operator would help the discussion.

Here’s what Brendon had to say (via Facebook):

“I have been a public transit operator for 7 years (TriMet bus operator, MAX operator, now Streetcar operator) and see the behavior of all road users on a regular basis throughout my shifts.

Here’s what I know from my experience:

Portland rarely, if ever, enforces the rules against car drivers either.

I see gross negligence by motorists all day, everyday.

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Yesterday, I had at least five cars make illegal right turns in front of the streetcar from the left lane. I saw a box truck run a solidly red light, without even slowing down, and almost mow down a pedestrian in a crosswalk that had their walk signal. I saw 8 cars over four separate instances waiting at red left turn arrows decide they didn’t want to wait anymore, and just went through their red lights; If someone had been in the crosswalk where they were turning, they could have hit and potentially killed them. I saw countless cars driving well above the 20 MPH Central City speed limit. At almost every single signalized intersection, I saw cars gunning it to make it through the yellow light or going through after it had already turned red. I saw DOZENS of cars turn right on red lights that were clearly marked ‘NO TURN ON RED’. I saw countless cars turning and changing lanes and cutting me off without using their turning signals. I saw almost every car that came to a stop sign roll right through it or barely stop, often ignoring another car who’s turn it was to go or a pedestrian that had already entered the crosswalk.

And that’s just a small sampling from ONE Portland Streetcar operator over ONE 10 hour shift.

Then there was the Uber that ran a red light night before last forcing a MAX train to slam on it’s breaks and crash into them, which could have killed the Uber passengers heading to the airport (luckily they survived). And the commercial truck that made a sudden left turn from the middle lane without signalling directly in the path of a Streetcar, causing it to derail and significantly damaging it.

So until police and/or more cameras start actually enforcing the laws on the multi-ton machines that regularly break the laws and kill 40,000 people a year, people need to calm the frack down about the occasional annoying scooter rider. They are not the problem. Our car culture and lack of safe/protected space to walk/ride/scoot is the problem.”

Thanks for sharing that with us Brendon.

If you see a great comment on our stories (whether it’s on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere) please let us know about it.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Planning Commission finds ‘missing middle,’ votes for more housing citywide

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:04

A 1905 duplex on SE 33rd Avenue in Portland. Like many other cities, Portland made these illegal on most lots in the mid 20th century. Photo by Portland for Everyone.

“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of? It’s buildings, people or cars.”
— Chris Smith, Planning Commissioner

An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by BikePortland’s former news editor, Michael Andersen, who started covering the need for “missing middle” housing — especially in Portland’s most bikeable neighborhoods — for us in 2015. We last covered this issue in May, just before the crucial public hearings described here.

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The most provocative housing policy event of this week in the Pacific Northwest started happening four months ago.

That’s because, in May, Portlanders did something almost unheard of in the world of housing policy. They showed up to say that in order to better-integrate neighborhoods and prevent future housing shortages, the city should allow more housing.

The place: Two public hearings of the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission to discuss the residential infill project, a proposal to re-legalize duplexes and triplexes in much of Oregon’s largest city, reversing a 1959 ban.

The hearings were packed with people on both sides of the issue. But in the end (and here’s what was truly unusual) the people calling for the city to re-legalize more homes in more varieties slightly outnumbered the ones who showed up to defend the status quo—55 percent to 45 percent.

And last week, after months of deliberation, Portland’s planning commission gave other cities of the Northwest and beyond a peek at what can happen when housing advocates outnumber housing opponents: It recommended more housing.

This debate is the same one happening right now in small areas of Seattle and citywide in Vancouver, B.C. And in Portland, Team Housing just notched a clear win—cuing up the concept for a possible victory at the city council in the spring.

In that sense, the Portlanders who showed up for housing in May are part of something much bigger than an advisory vote in their city about re-legalizing triplexes. They’re part of a much larger movement, led in large part by Cascadia, to revive a more traditional pattern of housing than the one cities began experimenting with after World War II.

The vision is simple: gradually creating neighborhoods where more expensive detached homes and more affordable small plexes are all mixed together.

‘The biggest carbon impact of new construction is how big it is’

A modern triplex in Portland’s Vernon neighborhood, developed as affordable housing in 2016 by the nonprofit PCRI. Each home here is 1,465 square feet, 10 percent bigger than the maximum allowed for a below-market home under the planning commission’s proposal and 26 percent bigger than the maximum market-rate triplex. (Photo courtesy PCRI)

To prevent “looming” buildings, heights would be capped at 30 feet above the lowest point on a property, down from the highest point on the property under today’s rules.

“Seventy, 80 percent of the carbon impact of a house is heating and cooling the space.”
— Eli Spevak, Planning Commissioner

As housing advocates (including the city’s own housing bureau) suggested, the planning commission also said duplexes and triplexes should be legal (and subject to the new size caps) almost anywhere in the city.

“Density is an important goal, and I think that’s a direction the city needs to move in,” Andrés Oswill, the planning commission’s youngest member, said Tuesday. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

Oswill said his decision to support the cap on building size had been informed, in part, by his own home search over the last few months.

Image: Michael Andersen. Sources: Census Bureau, BLS, HUD via 24/7 Wall Street.

“I really struggled and tried to understand 2,500 square feet … being too small,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was able to come to terms with.”

Eli Spevak, another commissioner, agreed.

“For all the talk about We can’t fit into this 2,500 square foot house, I kind of think, well, we did for most of human history, in houses half that size,” Spevak said. “I also think about the carbon issues. Oregon has studied this more than any state. The biggest carbon impact of new construction, over the lifespan of a house, is how big it is. Seventy, 80 percent of the carbon impact of a house is heating and cooling the space. … Attached housing is great for that also, and this code supports both those things: attached housing and small homes.”

Spevak is right: North American home sizes have risen sharply since the 1950s.

In fact, that’s almost economically inevitable. As long as the only profitable way to redevelop a one-home property is to replace it with another detached home, then each successive home on a lot will be bigger than the last.

Unresolved issues: Fourplexes and displacement-risk areas

Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission. (Photo: M. Andersen).

The planning commission’s straw vote Tuesday follows three years of formal debate so far over the proposed zoning reform and precedes a formal (but nonbinding) recommendation to Portland’s city council. The city council’s binding vote is scheduled for the spring.

“Even if this were just a little bit better than the status quo, that wouldn’t mean that we should wait more years rather than make these changes now and then continue to improve upon them.”
— Madeline Kovacs, Portland for Everyone

Some issues still need resolution. The planning commissioners who were present Tuesday split evenly over the question of whether to allow up to four homes on a lot.

“As we’re asking the single-family neighborhoods to transition, it’s a big change,” said one commissioner, Michelle Rudd.

Another, Chris Smith, disagreed.

“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of?” he said. “It’s buildings, people or cars. … If it’s buildings, we’ve done a lot to limit the size of buildings. … We did not allow any FAR bonus for the fourth unit. so if a building becomes a fourplex, it will not be much larger than a threeplex. … If it’s about cars, I will point out that we’ve done very little in this package to limit parking. In general, we’re still allowing people to build parking.”

So any concern about fourplexes must actually be about the number or type of people living in currently exclusive areas, Smith concluded. And “I’m for letting as many people live in these neighborhoods as we can,” he said.

Another area of debate: what effect the size or unit-count incentive might have on the rate of redeveloping lots that are currently home to low-income people, and if so how to mitigate that. Oswill said he regretted the “missed opportunity of having funding streams be created out of this that could lead to equitable units or programming.”

The city’s initial plan had proposed extending the duplex-triplex ban in areas with the highest risk of displacement. But affordable-housing advocates unanimously told the planning commission that they disagreed with that approach, because it would fail to create new housing while leaving those areas just as vulnerable to one-for-one redevelopment.

“The anti-displacement folks told us the right way to limit displacement is not to limit development opportunity but to deliver anti-displacement programs where they’re needed,” Smith said. “The question I still worry about is, well, what happens if council doesn’t fund any of those programmatic solutions?”

Madeline Kovacs, coodinator of the pro-housing Portland for Everyone coalition, said Thursday that she had the same concern, but that extending the duplex-triplex ban would only lead to more one-for-one displacement while the city waits for political consensus around more funding.

“We know what’s happening in Portland’s neighborhoods right now,” Kovacs said. “Even if this were just a little bit better than the status quo, that wouldn’t mean that we should wait more years rather than make these changes now and then continue to improve upon them.”

In the end, that’s the only way any major rethink of Cascadian housing policy will happen: bit by bit. But if anything is going to change at all, it’s going to depend on people choosing to show up and tell one another what they want—one public meeting at a time.

— Michael Andersen is a senior fellow at Sightline Institute

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Portland Police deploy canine, air support units to chase down bike thief

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 10:31

Good girl Utzi!
(Photo: PPB)

On Friday evening we learned what great lengths the Portland Police Bureau will go to retrieve a bicycle.

It happened around 6:00 pm in northeast Portland when someone reported that a child’s bike had been taken from the front lawn of a house on the 5500 hundred block of NE Simpson Street.

The suspect was seen walking away with the bike and didn’t stop after several neighborhood kids asked him to return it. Here’s how the ensuing chase unfolded, according to the PPB statement:

Arriving officers obtained the subject description and learned from the family members that the subject might have boarded a TriMet bus with the stolen bike.

Officers were able to locate the correct bus. Officers observed a child’s blue bike matching the victim description, mounted on the bus bike rack. Officers flagged down the bus driver, who confirmed that a male subject matching the suspect’s description was inside the bus.

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As officers attempted to contact the subject, he disobeyed their verbal commands and ran off the bus into the neighborhood. Officers started a foot pursuit of the subject, and then set up a perimeter as they lost a visual of the subject.

With the help of the Portland Police Canine Member “Utzi” and Air Support One, officers were able to locate the subject a few blocks away hiding in thick bushes. They placed the subject into custody without incident.

The suspect was arrested and put in jail and is now facing charges of Theft in the Second Degree and Attempt to Elude on Foot.

As for the bike? It was returned to the girl’s family.

While any dramatic stolen bike rescue is worth sharing here on BikePortland, we still can’t get over the fact that the PPB deployed their Air Support Unit! To track down a bike thief!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Drone video spotlights Sellwood’s new bike traffic circle

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 10:06

Still from drone footage of traffic circle on SE Milwaukie.
(Photo/video: Ted Timmons)

Our story about the City of Portland’s new traffic circle on SE Milwaukie and Mitchell spurred a robust conversation about its strengths and weaknesses. New drone footage (below) sheds more light on how it works.

Many readers feel the circle is over-engineered and circle portion is too small and narrow.

“Cyclists can easily handle navigating around each other,” wrote Clicky Freewheel, “all this roundabout does is limit the amount of space given to cyclists and creates a very tight turn for no good reason other than ‘it looks cool’.”

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Oliver wrote: “Who’s in charge of this stuff? Stop making infrastructure to slow cyclists down, this is like the irritating 90 degree turns that are showing up everywhere.”

Others think it’s a major safety improvement.

“I live nearby to this and have ridden this section of Milwaukie to access the Springwater as part of my daily commute for over 10 years,” Otis chimed in. “While I agree the overall design has flaws, it’s a massive improvement over the previous scenario, and leads to a far safer crossing situation for most users.”

To help deepen our understanding of this new piece of infrastructure, friend of the blog Ted Timmons captured some excellent drone footage. It shows several people riding through the circle and approaching it from different angles. Hopefully the comment thread and this video give PBOT more solid feedback they can in projects going forward.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The Monday Roundup: E-bike dangers, fake helmets, all-powerful Bike Lobby, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 09:22

Thank you!

This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by the Harvest Century coming September 23rd. It’s the last organized ride of the season, and with four route choices, there’s something for the entire family. Get 15% off registration when you use “BIKEPORTLAND18” code at checkout.

Here are the most noteworthy items we were introduced to in the past seven days…

Bike lobby strikes again: Framed around a project that looks a lot like Better Naito, advocates for better cycling in Baltimore have struck fear into the heart of Fortune magazine editor Rush Loving Jr.

JSK in Detroit: None other than lauded former NYC DOT Commish-turned-consultant Janette Sadik-Khan was in the Motor City last week to celebrate that city’s new transportation plan. And it’s really good.

Bike share sabotage: Someone cut brake cables on a Lime bike in Seattle and it led to an injury crash.

E-bikes and safety: I’ve been concerned about e-bike safety for years now and it seems my fears are warranted based on this story in The Guardian about a woman who was hit and killed by an e-bike rider in London.

Resiliency emergency: Another hurricane season, another reminder that our over-reliance on driving cars and trucks is making our cities more dangerous.


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Universal Basic Mobility: Or UBM for short, is the transportation form of Universal Basic Income — says Alex Roy in this persuasive essay.

E-bike skeptic: Dutch cycling expert David Hembrow has attracted scorn for his take on a recent study he says proves, “Riding e-bikes does not lead to health benefits.”

Epic cover art: Check the fantastic illustration by Cecilia Granata on the cover of Microcosm’s latest book: Dragon Bike: Fantastical Stories of Bicycles, Feminism, & Dragons.

It worked for Vancouver (BC): France has announced a $410 million plan to boost cycling rates ahead of the 2024 Olympics.

Congestion not the bogeyman: Streetsblog reports on a new study from the Bay Area that shows people who live close-in where roads are more congested, still have better access to jobs than those who live in relatively traffic-free suburbs.

Fake helmets: Stoked you found such a great price on a new, brand-named lid? Better make sure it’s not a counterfeit.

Thanks to everyone who flagged stories for us this week!

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Allite Super Magnesium

Bike Hugger - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 14:58

Because of a schedule conflict, I won’t attend Interbike this year.  If I did, one product I’m interested in is the new Elite Super Magnesium from Allite.

Magnesium was experimented with as a frame material post Cold War and came from demilitarized Russian sources. I saw a frame or two come through the shop back then.

I also spotted a Kirk Precision a few years ago too on a ride and Mark V saw one in Berlin.

Like Ti, it’s light and strong. At the time though, it was very difficult to weld and could get brittle if not treated correctly. The Kirks were cast.

Yesterday, Allite told me about their new Allite Super Magnesium 

Weighing 33% less than aluminum, while also being stiffer and stronger, pound for pound, Allite Super Magnesiumis the lightest of all structural materials. The revolutionary new alloy, which has been utilized in classified defense and aerospace applications, can also be leveraged in a variety of applications, products and components within the cycling industry and beyond.  In certain applications, it is just as strong and effective as carbon fiber at a much more affordable cost.

A material that’s lighter and stronger than aluminum and cheaper than carbon is certainly interesting for independent builders. It’s also, according to Allite, the most eco-friendly and sustainable metal. The frame shown in the photos was welded and not cast like the Kirks.

No word on how easy it is to work with in the shop.

The press release is below.

ALLITE® SUPER MAGNESIUMTM TO LAUNCH AT INTERBIKE 2018

Premium alloy now available to build lighter, more durable bicycles and components

Dayton, OH, September 13, 2018 – Allite®, Inc. announces its proprietary, high-performance Allite® Super MagnesiumTM today, with the premium alloy now available to the cycling industry.

Officially launching at Interbike next week, Allite Super Magnesium is the first material to go-to-market from Allite, Inc., an Ohio-based company with cycling industry veteran Bruno Maier at the helm. Lighter and stiffer than aluminum, less expensive than carbon fiber and with the lowest carbon footprint of any structural material throughout the value chain, Allite Super Magnesium is the premier choice for industries, spanning sporting goods, aerospace, automotive and beyond.

“We are thrilled to unveil Allite Super Magnesium and all of the superior benefits that it provides to brands and products across a variety of industries,” said Bruno Maier, President of Allite, Inc. “With an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and high-performance composition, Allite Super Magnesium is simply the best choice for any distinguished brand seeking materials to make their products lighter, faster, stronger, and more environmentally friendly.”

Weighing 33% less than aluminum, while also being stiffer and stronger, pound for pound, Allite Super Magnesium is the lightest of all structural materials. The revolutionary new alloy, which has been utilized in classified defense and aerospace applications, can also be leveraged in a variety of applications, products and components within the cycling industry and beyond.  In certain applications, it is just as strong and effective as carbon fiber at a much more affordable cost.

Furthering its appeal for an increasingly environmentally aware consumer base, magnesium is considered to be the most eco-friendly and sustainable metal in the world, as it is 100% recyclable and has widespread natural occurrence with unlimited reserves.

“The superior benefits of magnesium are becoming more well-known and it is exciting to see Allite Super Magnesium delivering a material that can benefit such a vast array of industries,” said noted material science engineering expert and professor at The Ohio State University, Dr. Alan Luo. “In addition to being earth friendly, magnesium has increased solubility, and is stronger than other comparable materials, making it a wise choice for the cycling industry and beyond.”

About Allite®, Inc.

Founded in 2018, Allite®, Inc. is a full-service material sciences organization that develops and manufactures high-performance metal alloys for industries around the globe. They supply proprietary material science consulting, offer raw magnesium ingot, produce semi-fabricated product, including extrusion and sheet/plate, and provide custom engineering, manufacturing, and fabrication on a global scale.

Allite®, Inc. created and produces Allite® Super MagnesiumTM, a premium alloy that is the lightest of all structural materials and is diversely appealing across vast industries where weight, performance and efficiency are critical. Considered to be the most eco-friendly and sustainable metal in the world, magnesium is 100% recyclable, dissolves naturally leaving no trace, and has widespread natural occurrence with unlimited reserves.

www.mfaltd.com

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Pressure builds on City of Portland to keep Better Naito in place

Bike Portland - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 10:02

Better Naito, shown here during its launch back in May, has been a big success. Its biggest supporters have been PBOT staff and elected officials. So, why take it down?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Two of Portland’s transportation reform advocacy groups are ratcheting up their opposition to the City of Portland’s plans to tear down the Better Naito project at the end of next week.

“Better Naito is a critical link in the active transportation network and should remain installed year-round.”
— Bike Loud PDX

Nearing the end of its fourth year as a temporary reconfiguration of Naito Parkway, the project gives walkers and rollers much more room to operate on a crucial north-south link along Waterfront Park.

Both Bike Loud PDX — the grassroots, all-volunteer group that celebrated its fourth birthday this week — and the venerable Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance), have taken action to save the project.

Bike Loud Co-chairs Emily Guise and Catie Gould laid out the group’s argument in a letter (PDF) sent to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman yesterday:

“Better Naito is a critical link in the active transportation network and should remain installed year-round… Spending time and resources each year to remove and re-install Better Naito is a poor use of our limited transportation funds. The $350,000 approved by City Council in 2017 gets chipped away at each year at the expense of maintenance or other projects. It is counter intuitive that at the same time we are seeking major investments to improve our active transportation network in the downtown core that we are spending funding to remove part of that network each fall…

By 2035, we are planning on 80% of commute trips to or from the district being made outside of Single Occupancy Vehicles (as adopted by the Central City 2035 Plan.) We will not be able to create these shifts in how Portlanders get around if we continue to remove the most popular Central City bike route each year.

BikeLoudPDX urges the City of Portland to keep Better Naito installed year round until a permanent design can be implemented… A year round installation would provide real data on winter usage and travel impacts to all modes that can be used to inform a decision on the permanent design.”

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Over 100 people stood in the middle of Naito during a protest against its removal last year.
(Photo: Better Block PDX)

Bike Loud points to a 2017 PBOT traffic study that showed people were twice as likely to ride a bike on Better Naito than on the crowded Waterfront Park path. The city’s bike count also showed 3,000 – 4,000 bike trips per day on Naito at Ankeny and Salmon, “making it by far the most heavily used bicycle facility in the Central City,” Bike Loud notes.

And The Street Trust has announced a ride and rally this coming Tuesday (9/18) at 5:00 pm. Here’s the description:

“The Better Naito protected bikeway season will end September 22. Show your appreciation for this safe and convenient route! Meet up at 5 p.m. At 5:30 ride the length of the protected bikeway, then head over the Hawthorne Bridge to the Central City in Motion open house at OMSI where you can share your priorities for bike and pedestrian improvements with PBOT. Priorities like a permanent protected bikeway on SW Naito Parkway!”

When Better Naito was torn down last year, over 100 concerned Portlanders formed a human-protected bike lane to convey its importance.

This past May, Mayor Wheeler expressed his desire to permanently reconfigure Naito by commissioning a study on the potential design options and costs. The price tag came out to $4 million and the proposal has become project 17 of the Central City in Motion plan. Similar to the position of Bike Loud PDX this week, Better Block (the group that initiated the Better Naito concept in 2015) and other activists panned the study and said waiting for such a large project to materialize didn’t make sense when a good solution has already been tested.

At this point it’s unclear what the immediate future of Better Naito is. Current PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is new to the job of overseeing the bureau and isn’t prepared to comment on it yet. PBOT is unlikely to make such a major policy shift without cover from City Hall — especially as long as the Portland Business Alliance remains on record as being staunchly opposed to it.

Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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My neighbors actually showed up! Maybe it was just the free ice cream

Bike Portland - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 08:03

50 people showed up to our neighborhood park to talk with each other about the project.
(Photos: Kiel Johnson)

This is the conclusion to Kiel Johnson’s grassroots effort to talk to more of his neighbors about a transportation project. Don’t miss part one and part two.

After three days of knocking on doors inviting our neighbors to an ice cream social to discuss the proposed Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway, it was time to find out if anyone would actually show up.

“Over 50 neighbors came out… The lack of intensity in the conversations was a welcome contrast to the passion that can fill a PBOT open house.”

Our goal was to create a low-stress environment for neighbors to meet each other and talk about the City of Portland’s proposal to turn 7th Avenue into a traffic-calmed neighborhood greenway. My wife Kate and I loaded up a cargo trailer with tables, a PA system, signs and name tags, and headed over to Two Plum Park.

With only 30 minutes until the scheduled starting time, we nervously began setting up.

Two Plum Park is located on NE Shaver and 7th. Under the proposed 7th Ave plan the park would be extended across 7th. There would be a path for bicycle riders, but car drivers would not be able to cut through. This park is very important to the community. It began when a neighbor named Joe Martin bought a lawn mower at Goodwill and began mowing the lawn on some vacant lots. Other neighbors joined and the lots became a social gathering spot. These neighbors then persuaded the city to purchase the lots and turn them into a park in 2001. This history and the potential to expand the park as part of the greenway made it the ideal location for our ice cream social.

As if on cue, right at 7:00, families started appearing. Kate took to serving up the ice cream and I went around welcoming people and encouraging them to get name tags.

For Kate and I, the evening was a rush. At the beginning I made an announcement telling people about what led up to this event and what we were all here to do. Over 50 neighbors came out to meet each other and discuss the proposal. There were a lot more people then we had hoped for.

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Maybe it was just the free ice cream.

The lack of intensity in the conversations was a welcome contrast to the passion that can fill a Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) open house. I had several copies of the proposed plans that people used in their conversations and also made a list of question prompts. The most amazing thing for me was that it actually worked. People ate ice cream and talked with each other about the proposal. No one cried, no one wrote any angry messages, but there were lots of kids playing and people being friendly to one another. People stayed out until the sun went down and the mosquitos came out. That evening, a community gathered.

I talked with one mother who was very nervous because she had just started letting her daughter walk to school by herself. She introduced us to her daughter so that we could keep a eye out for her. Another couple had just moved in from Philadelphia and were loving Portland. Kate talked to one woman who was ready to build her own speed bump in front of her house. People expressed their concerns about climate change and that we were not doing enough to stop it. There were a few people that had come a little hesitant about what these changes would do but after talking they seemed okay and even excited about them.

Felix and his dad Roberto.

This next part has nothing to do with the project, but I just have to share it:

On the invite I included an invitation to teach anyone how to ride a bike and offered to let them borrow one. I got one response. Felix, who lives down the street from me, was a little nervous about riding a bike in from of his classmates at school. So I removed some cobwebs from a loaner kid’s bike I had used during my bike train days and met him and his dad at the park. We first practiced with the pedals off but he quickly mastered that, so we put them back on and had him start from an incline. On his first try he got his feet on the pedals and starting pedaling! He only stopped to raise his fist in the air in triumph.

I can only hope this greenway project ends as well.

As conversations continued, the question I repeatedly heard was, “What more can we do now?”

The answer is to continue to get to know one another and work at making the community that we all want to live in, as well as emailing and writing letters to PBOT Commissioner Eudaly.

In December our first child will be born. It is my hope that she will get to ride her bike safely on a NE 7th greenway to get to Two Plum Park. If she’s lucky maybe she’ll pass by Felix on his bike going to high school.

If you support the NE 7th Greenway you can help us by writing a letter to Commissioner Eudaly. Her address is below…

Hint hint.

— Kiel Johnson (@go_by_bike)

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Jobs of the Week: Cento, HGNR/Dumonde Tech, Alta Planning + Design

Bike Portland - Fri, 09/14/2018 - 06:43

Here are our latest job listings.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> eCommerce Manager (plus more) – Cento Cycling

–> National Inside Sales and Customer Service – HGNR/Dumonde Tech

–> Web Developer – Alta Planning + Design

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

Be the first to know about new job opportunities by signing up for our daily Job Listings email or by following @BikePortland on Twitter.

These are paid listings. And they work! If you’d like to post a job on the Portland region’s “Best Local Blog” two years running, you can purchase a listing online for just $75. Learn more at our Job Listings page.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The creations of ‘Fiets of Strength’ builder Jake Ryder

Bike Portland - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 13:28

Ryder uses his customers’ existing bikes to build his distinctive cargo creations.
(Photos: James Buckroyd)

You may have seen Jake Ryder’s creations via J_ryde on Instagram, ogled the cyclocross images he shoots as Sellwood Cycles’ official photog, or heard his name from a friend who is into Zoobomb or freak bikes. Either way, Jake is a multi-talented maker who has carved a niche based on his unique perspective on cycling.

I visited his shop in southeast Portland recently to learn a bit more about him.

We first talked with Jake when he was first settling in to the Portland bike scene. He moved to Portland nine years ago from Seattle, where he refined his skills in sculpture and furniture fabrication. He also discovered an interest in bikes. Originally from Washington state with a degree in Graphic Design and Sculpture, Jake worked for many years as a metalsmith and glass artist, and spent some time in corporate design jobs — all while soaking up the Seattle cycling scene. Several years later Jake has developed a unique, bike-centric viewpoint and business that has resonated with Portland.

As with many other local creators, Jake has many passions that he transposes into his final bicycles. He take aspects of cycling, freak bikes, sculpture, sustainability, glasswork, metalsmithing, and woodwork — then smashes them all together with a dollop of status-quo-challenger attitude.

Jake has designed and crafted bespoke pieces of furniture from steel, glass and wood for 20 years, but his passion shines when you get him to talk about his bike creations. From uber-utility to uber-freak — and combinations of both — Jake has challenged normal bike perceptions with geometric designs that look radically different, yet are joyful to ride and have amazing handling qualities.

The funky looking Ba-Donk-a-Donk challenges normality of bicycles and creates conversations and interest because of it’s different aesthetic, yet it’s fun to ride in a booty-shaking way.

Ryder’s Humuhauler, a conversion that used a Kona Humuhumu and has seating for two kiddos, is for sale for $3,950.

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A Zoobombfiets.
(Photo: Jake Ryder)

This customer wanted more room to carry her beloved pooch.
(Photo: Jake Ryder)

From his shop in southeast Portland, Jake designs and crafts bikes that often start with old bicycles from his customers’ basements; bikes which were perhaps treasured racing steeds or that hold special memories. Working with the customer to determine the exact solution, he transforms their old bikes into cargo bikes or functional works of art, depending on their needs. A fresh breath of life is brought to an often loved, or otherwise unused item.

“People’s lives change, families grow and steel bikes allow you to reuse them, add on, modify and extend the life. This expression has carried through from Zoobomb bikes to utility cargo bikes.”

Jake has found that having a variety of hands-on skills, and a mind that can think in design terms, has allowed him to offer bikes that you’d never find at a regular bike shop or be able to afford from a traditional custom bike maker. His customers enjoy the collaboration and creation of an item that is unique and offers a great story, whether an attitude-changing art piece or a new family cargo hauler.

Jake takes on all kinds of fabrication projects, from architectural railings to truck racks, many of which can be found on his Instagram or website, FietsofStrength.com.

— James Buckroyd, @jbucky1 on Twitter and Instagram, and BuckyRides.com

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At neighborhood meeting, PBOT explains why they’re making it harder to drive

Bike Portland - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 11:05

PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen explained the design to Kenton residents at a meeting last night.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Can we just stop beating around the bush for a second and talk about what the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is doing to our streets?

From Southeast Foster to St. Johns, they are slowly but surely redesigning roads citywide so there’s less space for driving cars and trucks. In addition, they’re also intentionally making it harder and less efficient to drive. This is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s worth a huge celebration. If we want to make good on our potential as a great city we must move aggressively beyond the driving-alone status quo.

While it’s fun to observe PBOT’s progress from an advocacy, political, and bureaucratic perspective, I often find neighborhood meetings are the most fascinating window into the sausage-making process.

Last night I attended the Kenton Neighborhood Association meeting to learn the latest on a paving project on North Denver Avenue that will include a parking protected lane for cycling. While there, I heard an exchange between a PBOT staffer and a leader of the neighborhood association that I feel is worth sharing.

First, some background. PBOT proposed the project back in March as part of a scheduled repaving. It was supposed to be completed this summer; but PBOT now says it won’t get done until May 2019.

The initially proposed design on this short stretch of Denver (Kenton’s commercial main street) between Lombard and Watts would be similar to what PBOT just completed on Rosa Parks. Bicycle users would have a new, wider curbside lane protected from other traffic by a buffer and/or parked cars. Instead of weaving around parked cars, bicycle users would get a direct and predictable path — and it would be the auto users who would have to swerve to avoid the cars (more on that below).

Option 1 for Denver Ave is a direct, curbside lane for cycling protected by a buffer and parked cars.

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Option 2, created in response to neighborhood concerns, provides less protection and requires bicycle users to swerve around parked cars.

As I mentioned in our story last week, PBOT hit pause on the project after hearing pushback from some residents. Newly-hired PBOT Project Manager Geren Shankar has mentioned several concerns that cropped up: Confusion over where to place trash cans, how the design might impact traffic, and complaints about inadequate public outreach.

At last night’s meeting, Shankar made it clear he wanted progress. “I wasn’t here then. I’m here now. And I’m trying to push the project forward.”

Shankar shared the new design that will keep auto parking on the curb and will put the bike lane adjacent to auto users with only a painted buffer between them. The initial design is also still on the table. (Note: Both options will result in fewer parking spaces; 66 fewer spaces for option 1, 35 for option 2.) Shankar said PBOT will decided on which option to build based in large part on community feedback. There’s an online survey and an open house set for October 2nd (at Kenton Firehouse) where people will get to vote on the options.

Now, about that exchange.

It was between PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen and the Kenton Neighborhood Association Treasurer Angela Moos (who was leading the meeting in place of the absent chair). It started when Moos expressed her feelings about the initially proposed design from the perspective of a car driver:

The red (biking) line is straight. The yellow (driving) line is not.

Moos: “I would really suggest that you ask people to go down and drive Rosa Parks to get a really good feeling of how this outside-inside parking works. Because my personal opinion of that is a disaster. You’re weaving all around. It’s not a straight street anymore and it’s very easy for someone to drive right into the back of a parked car.”

Cohen: “Well, I was the project manager. There’s a reason it’s not straight. We heard from the community around Rosa Parks that they were concerned about speeds. We have data that shows the speeds are really high… 38 mph approaching Willamette Blvd is a significant hazard. The community said, ‘Help us with speed,’ so we lowered the speed limit. We couldn’t put speed bumps on it because it’s a major emergency response route. So, another thing we can do is, instead of having something that’s a wide open field for people to drive on, you can narrow the field and make them react. We’ve done this on Sandy Blvd also, where there’s kind of a natural weave to the road that keeps people paying attention so it’s not a highway. Because Rosa Parks is not a highway, it’s a neighborhood street. So, we did that with the intention of what we wanted to get out of the street — which was to give it more of a neighborhood feel so people would slow down.”

Moos: “Well it’s very dangerous. More dangerous than it was.”

Cohen: “We also have lots of data that shows protected bike lanes are much safer for all users.”

Moos: “…safer for bikers, but for people driving cars it’s hazardous.”

Cohen: “It’s safer for people to drive and walk too.”

This is PBOT not flinching when called on to defend their work. This is PBOT reclaiming our neighborhood streets from unfettered auto use. This is the PBOT we need to pull off big initiatives like Central City in Motion (and you might have noticed a similarly confident tone from a PBOT staffer in our story yesterday).

This was nowhere near the first time I’ve seen PBOT staff successfully rebut driving-centric perspectives at a neighborhood meeting; but it never gets old.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post At neighborhood meeting, PBOT explains why they’re making it harder to drive appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Bike News Roundup: The bike lane is always greener…

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 10:07

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some stuff floating around the web that caught my eye.

First up, one of the only ways to get me to post a promotional video is to include lots of Seattle biking scenes:

Pacific Northwest News

National & Global News

This is an open thread.

Weekend Event Guide: Kidical Massive, legislator town hall, Zaaldercross, and more

Bike Portland - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 07:12

Kidical Massive is Saturday.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Weekend Event Guide is sponsored by Abus Bike Locks. Thanks Abus!

Two more days until the weekend.

Here’s our selection of the events worth checking out…

Friday, September 14th

Midnight Mystery Ride – “At midnight we ride” location TBA
Don’t forget to check the MMR website for the start location of this month’s ride. Bring a jacket and something warm to drink! More info here.

Saturday, September 15th

Grand Prix Carl Decker #3 Zaaldercross – Add day at Alderbrook Park in Brush Prairie, WA
The GPCD continues with a great course through Alderbrook Park. Organizers say you can expect everything from technical singletrack through trees to punchy climbs and a few short sand sections. More info here.

Oregon Legislator Bike Town Hall – 9:30 am to 11:00 am at Wilshire Park (NE)
A great opportunity to meet and chat with your elected state representatives! This annual ride is co-hosted by State Senator Michael Dembrow and House Reps Alissa Keny-Guyer and Barbara Smith Warner. This year’s ride will spend time in the Cully neighborhood and will have plenty of stops for education and socialization. More info here.

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Casual Group Ride (Western Bikeworks) – 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Western BikeWorks LoveJoy (NW)
A chill-paced group ride led by staff from an awesome bike shop with free Stumptown coffee at both ends. What’s not to like? More info here.

Kidical Massive- 10:30 am to 2:00 pm at Abernethy Elementary School (SE)
This month’s Kidical Mass is going “Massive” as it joins the nationwide movement of over 50 other cities for a day to celebrate riding with the little ones. It’ll be just a 1.5-mile ride so as to be suitable for kids to ride their own bikes — even balance bike pushers should be able to handle it. Ride begins and ends at a park and it will happen rain or shine. Expect copious snacks. More info here.

East Portland Safe Routes to School Ride – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Parklane Elementary School (SE)
This four-mile ride is part of a series made possible by the cities of Gresham and Portland along with nonprofit parters including Bikes for Humanity, the Rosewood Initiative, and P:ear Bike Works More info here.

Sunday, September 16th

Zoobomb! – 8:30 pm to 11:30 pm at People’s Bike Library of Portland (SW)
Roll over to SW 13th and Burnside, take the MAX up to Washington Park, bomb down. It’s simple and it’s fun. Bring lights and a sense of adventure. More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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After 35-year run, Metro will no longer offer printed Bike There! map

Bike Portland - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:03

Cover of the ninth — and final — edition.

The best printed bike map in the Portland region will soon be a collector’s item.

Metro announced yesterday that they will no longer sell the printed version of the vaunted Bike There! map.

The map was first published in 1983 and has gone through nine major updates. The ninth (and last) edition came out in May 2015.

In an email to shops that stocked the map, Metro’s Marne Duke said the decision was made because of, “A combination of the decline in demand of printed maps and the increase in free map offerings from local cities and counties around the region.”

The news was met with disappointment by many of our friends on Twitter:

“Bummer. Finding this map at the grocery store was what got me to start biking in Portland.” — Nick Falbo.

“No! I am definitely of the era that loves a paper map.” — Mike Mason

“I don’t use apps or Google Maps or whatever. I like good old printed maps.” — Susan R

“Too bad. Printed maps are still useful for many bikers.” – alanshoebridge

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(Chart: BikePortland)

Metro’s Marne Duke said despite the love for printed maps, an overall decline in popularity forced their hand. After being left with a significant number of outdated and unsold eighth edition maps in 2010, Duke said they printed half as many (about 5,000) of the ninth edition maps in 2015. And surveys taken by Metro showed a sharp decline in paper map use over the past decade. 70% of respondents used the paper map in 2009, 30% did so in 2014, and just 13% of people reported using it as a way to plan their bike trips in the latest survey from 2016.

The printing, distribution, and marketing of the map also no longer pencil out. Duke said the ninth edition generated $10,550 in sales and cost about $25,000 to print and distribute. And that’s not including staff time.

Metro also once published the “Walk There!” book by Portland author Laura Foster; but that too has ceased production.

“With limited time and budget, an approach that focuses on expanding online availability that can potentially reach more – and a wider variety – of people was determined to be a better use of resources by our management team,” Duke says.

Moving forward, Metro will continue to beef up their online map and route resources and work to incorporate their datasets into the digital offerings of other local government agencies, app developers and mobility service providers.

If you want to grab one of the last remaining maps, check out this list of stockists on Metro’s website.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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