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Jobs of the Week: Bike Friday, HiFi, Oregon Walks, Metropolis Cycle Repair

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 07:05

Looking for a new place to spread you cycling wings? We’ve got four great job opportunities that just went up this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Mechanic/Sales/Awesome Person – Metropolis Cycle Repair

–> Executive Director – Oregon Walks

–> Wheel Builder Extraordinaire – HiFi Sound Cycling Components

–> Bicycle Mechanic – Team Lead – Bike Friday

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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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Better biking a top priority in Multnomah County road plan feedback

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 12:27

If you like riding up Larch Mountain Road, you should pay attention to Multnomah County’s investment priorities.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

When it comes to roads, you might not think of them as often as you do the City of Portland or the State of Oregon, but Multnomah County is a big player in the region.

For those of you who like to venture beyond their central city bridges (they own and maintain the Broadway, Burnside, Morrison, Hawthorne and Sellwood bridges) the County takes care of many of the rural roads you hold dear. Think of cherished pieces of tarmac like Marine Drive, Larch Mountain, Newberry, Old Germantown, Rock Creek, Springville, the Sauvie Island loop, Gordon Creek and many others.

Now that I have your attention, you should know that the County just wrapped up a major public feedback process on how they should prioritize road investments for the next 20 years. And guess what? Improving bicycling conditions emerged as one of the top priorities.

Earlier this spring through a series of open houses and surveys for their Roads Capital Improvement Plan, the county heard from over 400 residents. The County has since tallied up all the feedback and they report that just over half of all respondents mentioned the importance of bicycling and walking.

One part of the survey asked people to rank 15 actions on a scale of “most important,” “important,” “less important,” or “not important.” The actions included things like “preserve rural character,” “ensure emergency vehicle access,” and “fix problem areas before they get worse.” In the end, “Make it safer to walk and bike,” received the second highest ranking, just below “prevent collisions.”

At the bottom of the list? “Increase capacity for growing population” and “improve mobility for freight.”

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When asked for comments on specific roads and/or projects that the County should pay more attention to, the road mentioned most often was none other than Skyline Blvd — a lynchpin of the local cycling scene. The County summed up feedback about Skyline as people being concerned that it is too narrow for car users and bike riders to safely mix, that people drive too fast, and that sight lines at intersections are not good. Also in the top five of responses were Germantown and Cornell roads which are also popular cycling routes that had similar feedback as Skyline.

When it comes to solutions for making these roads better, the County hasn’t laid out anything specific yet. They did mention in response to a question at one of the open houses that they’ll consider adding uphill bike lanes to some of the roads they manage. If I had to wager a bet, I’d say at a minimum we can expect the County to lower speed limits (the City of Portland has already done this on their part of Skyline south of McNamee), improve the quality of shoulders, and cut back vegetation.

And then there was the classic word-cloud exercise. The County asked people to choose five words that described their vision for getting around 20 years from now. Here’s how it turned out:

One more thing: It’s important to keep in mind who responded to the County’s survey. The vast majority were car drivers, but a significant number identified as bicycle riders. 87 percent of them were white and 98 percent spoke English at home. 54 percent were female and the average age was 51 years old. 46 percent had an annual household income of $100,000 or more.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Cycle Oregon Weekender, Rosewood Walkways, STP, and more

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 09:57

Cool water, like the Sandy River at Dodge Park, will be worth pedaling for this weekend.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

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

It’s going to be a hot one, so be prepared!

If you want to see Portland beyond close-in neighborhoods, it’s an ideal weekend to venture out. The Rosewood Walkways event on Saturday will be a smaller version of Sunday Parkways and the focus will be on using feet instead of bikes. You’ll have free reign of 1.5 miles of carfree streets to soak up the art and culture of a part of Portland that often gets overlooked.

Here’s our selection for the weekend…

All Weekend

**BP PICK!** Cycle Oregon Weekender – Friday ~ Sunday at University of Oregon (Eugene)
CO’s summer riding getaway will take over the UO campus in Eugene for the first time this weekend. There will be live bands, chill camp vibes, great food and drinks, lots of cool people, and of course excellent roads to ride all weekend long. Hope to see you there! More info here.

Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge – Friday ~ Sunday at Alpenrose Velodrome (SW)
Watch (or race with!) the fastest track riders in the region tackle the famed banked corners at Alpenrose. Check the daily schedule for your favorite events and bring an umbrella for some shade. More info here.

Kidical Mass Camping Trip – Saturday ~ Sunday at Dodge Park (SE)
Join fellow families on bikes and set off for a fun adventure. Dodge Park is just far enough to be an escape from Portland, yet close enough for a relatively easy ride. Once you get there you’ll love playing in the cool clean water of the Bull Run and Sandy Rivers. More info here.

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STP Classic – Saturday ~ Sunday at Holladay Park (NE)
It’s Seattle-to-Portland weekend! That means there will be a big finish-line party at Holladay Park in the Lloyd District where one-day and two-day riders will roll in after 200 miles in the saddle. More info here.

Saturday, July 14th

Sorella Forte Women’s Club Ride – 9:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
Come out and ride with the wonderful people who’ve made Sorella one of the oldest and most respected bike clubs in the region. Expect a spirited pace on a 30-40-mile loop with some honest climbing. More info here.

Rosewood Walkways Family Ride – 9:00 am to 11:00 am at Rosewood Initiative (SE)
Join a one-mile bike parade to Parklane Park to participate in Rosewood Walkways. Bikes for Humanity will be there for free basic bike fixes and helmets starting at 11:00 am. More info here.

Rosewood Walkways – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm (SE)
Oregon Walks and other partners are hosting an open streets event in the Rosewood neighborhood. Enjoy carfree streets that will be filled with free games, live performances, food vendors, a youth art gallery, and much more. This is a rare chance to experience southeast Portland streets of the future — where drivers do not dominate and overpower everything else. 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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PSU announces free Biketown memberships for students

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 15:16

(Photo: Portland State University)

Starting this Thursday, Portland State University students can use Biketown for free.

The partnership is part of a new agreement to cement the downtown campus as the cycling epicenter of Portland. PSU says the program will be paid for via auto parking revenue.

It’s a natural step for the campus that serves nearly 30,000 students and is one of only five colleges in the county that has earned a Platinum Bicycle Friendly University award from the League of American Bicyclists.

Last May, Biketown expanded service at PSU by making it a “super hub zone” where people can park bikes on any available rack without incurring a fee. At a meeting of the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee last night, Bureau of Transporation Bike Share Program Manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth said usage rates at PSU have been “bezonkers” ever since. PSU is also
Under the new agreement, students can take unlimited trips and get up to 90 minutes of Biketown usage at no charge. The offer is available to any current student with a valid @pdx.edu email address. PSU staff and faculty can already get a discounted Biketown membership for $7 a month (with an annual commitment).

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The PSU partnership comes after Biketown offered free rides to all users during the month of May. That experiment was wildly successful. The system broke its one-day trip record nine times and it added over 11,000 local first-time users. It begs the question: Why not make Biketown free for everyone, all-the-time?

Asked that question last night, Hoyt-McBeth said it’s an idea worthy of consideration. He estimated it cost them an extra $50,000 to make the system free during the month of May and the promotion was supported by Biketown’s operator, Motivate. That’s important because Portland City Council has made it clear that bike share cannot use public funds for operations. Hoyt-McBeth seemed open to the idea nevertheless. “It’s money that would have to come from somewhere,” he said. “Biketown is under strict direction from City Council to not use local funds, so it would require a change in the ordinance.”

PSU and Biketown will announce their partnership at a press conference tomorrow (July 12th) at 10:00 am at the PSU Urban Plaza.

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

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What’s wrong with SW Jefferson? Plenty, if you ask Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Fish

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 13:59

Drivers heading west on SW Jefferson get backed-up between 18th and I-405. There’s one westbound lane for driving where there used to be two (the right lane is only for turning).
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

“I bike that every day and I believe it’s made the biking situation worse.”
— Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland

Yesterday a City Council Work Session on the Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero program turned into a sharp critique of recent striping changes SW Jefferson Avenue. Commissioner Nick Fish interrupted a presentation by outgoing PBOT Director Leah Treat (her last day is Friday) to share his concerns that a new lane configuration has made conditions worse. Mayor Ted Wheeler, who said he bikes home on the road every day, agreed with him.

Back in April, PBOT repaved Jefferson (a one-way street) from SW Park to 20th and used the opportunity to update the striping. Their aim was to, “reduce conflicts between buses and people driving and biking.” East of I-405 they improved the bike lane by adding protective plastic wands and using green coloring to designate the cycling space. West of I-405 the bike lane is buffered (on the right side next to parked cars) until 17th. Then the bike lane becomes shared (via a sharrow) and moves to the center to make room for a right-turn only lane at 18th (where the MAX line runs). At the intersection with 18th, the bike lane is colored green and there’s a bike box. From 18th to 20th, the right lane is dedicated for buses and bikes only.

Previously, Jefferson had two general lanes and a standard bike lane west of I-405. The bike lane used to end just after 17th to make way for a right-turn only lane. West of 18th, two general lanes continued toward an on-ramp to Highway 26.

Commissioner Fish thinks PBOT has “over-engineered” the street.

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Intersection of Jefferson and 18th.

“I love the idea of dedicated bike lanes and bus lanes, but there are virtually no bikes and buses running at the time when there’s heavy congestion.”
— Nick Fish, Portland City Commissioner

Fish lives in an apartment high up on SW Vista Drive and he uses Jefferson (most often as a Lyft passenger) to get home. “It’s now one lane, which pushes traffic all the way back to I-405 and creates a lot of very dangerous behavior,” he shared with PBOT staff seated around a table in Council Chambers yesterday. “Cars go down the right-hand lane thinking it gives them access to Highway 26, but instead they have to cut back in.” During the evening rush-hour Fish says the bike lane, right-turn only lane, and dedicated bus lane is empty. “I love the idea of dedicated bike lanes and bus lanes, but there are virtually no bikes and buses running at the time when there’s heavy congestion,” he shared.

“Mu unsophisticated take is that we ended up over-engineering the street,” Fish continued. “And by taking the lane out, now what we’ve got is a traffic mess which is encouraging bad behavior.”

Wheeler agreed and shared his own concerns. “I bike that every day and I believe it’s made the biking situation worse,” he said. “Now you have to cut across a lane of traffic to get to the center bike lane at the very end. That feels like a very dangerous maneuver to me. I’m not convinced we made it better. We made it worse and I’m curious what problem it was we were trying to solve here.”

Wheeler (left) and Fish at the work session.

PBOT Director Treat said she didn’t have the answers to their questions off the top of her head and she promised to follow-up. PBOT Active Transportation Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo chimed in to say her team analyzes changes like this before and after new striping is installed and she assured the mayor and commissioner that the Capital Projects Division had done the same thing with Jefferson.

It’s worth noting that these recent changes are likely to be short-lived — but not for the reasons Fish and Wheeler might expect. PBOT has big plans for making Jefferson (along with Columbia) one half of a “signature multimodal east/west connection between Goose Hollow and downtown” as part of their Central City in Motion project. The current proposal would create a protected bike lane on the left side of the street, a dedicated bus and turn lane on the right side, and two general vehicle lanes in the middle from Naito to 17th.

I checked out Jefferson yesterday during rush-hour to see what all the fuss was about. Commissioner Fish is right about one thing: The auto users get backed up for several blocks. But I didn’t see any of the dangerous behaviors he mentioned. I did, however, see a fair amount of bicycle riders using the new lane.

Do you ride on Jefferson? What do you think of the changes? Should PBOT consider going back to the old design as Commissioner Fish suggested?

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

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ODOT will create carfree lane on Historic Columbia River Highway when it reopens this fall

Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:15

Cross-section of ODOT’s “phased reopening” plan for the Historic Columbia River Highway.

“This is a great opportunity to try it and see how it operates.”
— Terra Lingley, ODOT Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator

They say when a fire strikes a forest it comes back even healthier than before. The same might be true for the Historic Columbia River Highway.

When a six-mile section of the scenic road reopens this fall following a one-year closure due to the Eagle Creek Fire, the Oregon Department of Transportation says it’ll have one fewer lane for automobile users. Referred to as the “phased reopening” plan, ODOT will limit automobile use to one lane in the eastbound direction for a five mile section between the Benson State Recreation Area/Hartman Pond (Exit 30) and Ainsworth State Park (Exit 35). The westbound lane will be set aside for walking, rolling, and emergency vehicles (see map graphic below).

As you can see in this section of the highway, there’s currently no dedicated space to walk or bike on.
(Photo: ODOT)

The idea was one of the recommendations in the Historic Columbia River Highway Congestion & Transportation Safety Improvement Plan, an effort launched last summer by ODOT to, “recommend projects and programs to improve safety, reduce vehicular congestion and enhance visitor experience…. along the ‘waterfall corridor’ from Women’s Forum to Ainsworth State Park.” Related efforts include the Columbia Gorge Express bus service which began in 2016 and has since been expanded to keep up with demand. ODOT also promotes carfree Gorge visits and the agency continues to work feverishly to complete new paths that will finally re-connect the Historic Columbia River Highway between Troutdale and The Dalles.

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Map of new lane configuration.

“The one-way configuration for the Historic Highway has been floating around for a decade or so, but there has never been a ‘good’ time to try it,” explained Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Coordinator Terra Lingley in an email yesterday. “This is a great opportunity to try it and see how it operates.”

ODOT says bicycle riders may use either lane during the phased reopening period and that, “Cyclists can use the dedicated lane to travel in either direction, but must yield to people walking and limit speeds.” In addition to making it safer for vulnerable road users, ODOT sees the new lane configuration as a way to ensure more reliable response times for emergency vehicles.

ODOT hosted an open house at Mt. Hood Community College last night to explain the plan to local residents and other frequent users of the highway. As it stands, the highway will reopen sometime in September (if/when all fire recovery work is done) and the new lane configuration will remain in place through October 31st. Right now there are no guarantees about whether this will become a permanent thing. ODOT says they’ll monitor how the phased reopening impacts congestion and safety and if it’s deemed worthwhile they will study a longer-term project.

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

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Family biking profile: Kathleen Youell moved to Portland to live carfree

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 13:22

Kathleen Youell, her kids, and my suitcase, in her bakfiets.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

This week on the column we’re going to share a profile of one of our readers.

Kathleen Youell has been a fixture in the Portland family biking scene for a long time. I met her seven years ago — three days after I got my first cargo bike — and have been riding with her ever since. I caught up with her recently to learn more about her family and how cycling fits into it.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Tell me a little about yourself and your family.

Myself, my husband Matt Youell, and my kids Evan and Emily are all native Sacramentans. We left Sacramento (California) in 2008 because we didn’t like the hot weather and wanted to strike out on our own. Part of our plan included being carfree, but we had no clue about biking with kids, or the Portland bike culture. We moved to Hillsboro thinking that we’d ditch the car and walk and take transit a lot. We soon found out that a MAX ride to the zoo was an hour and the monthly playgroup for kids with Down syndrome and their siblings was two hours away. We started looking for a place to live in Portland. We found one about the same time we found a used bakfiets [a type of cargo bike] on Craigslist. That was around April 2011.

My introduction to family biking was via Twitter where I “met” Sarah Gilbert [@sarahgilbert]. The idea that you could carry your kids on your bike blew my mind. I was so excited to learn more! We came to the first “Fiets of Parenthood” event held at Clever Cycles and gawked at all the bikes owned by people — many of whom are now my friends! I test-rode a bakfiets and bought a helmet that day.

Kathleen and her Bike Friday Haul-a-Day “Veronica”.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

Tell me about your bike.

Our first family bike was a Bakfiets.nl. I was the third owner and it was in one of the first containers that Clever Cycles imported from The Netherlands. I loved that bike so much and put stickers all over it because I knew that I would have it forever. I even told strangers that asked about it that I planned to be buried in it. Sadly, the kids grew too big (and my knees too old) for me to cart them around in it. We ended up selling it to a family with a baby which is my only consolation. I’m sure my bakfiets (I never named it) is happier with a baby to carry around.

Learning to haul a full cart of groceries without a big box to toss it all in.
(Photo: Kathleen Youell)

In October of 2016 I got Veronica, my Bionx’d Haul-a-Day [Bionx is a now defunct maker of electric-assist kits and the Haul-a-Day is made by Bike Friday]. I love her! She still makes me smile when I ride (like the bakfiets did) and that’s the point. I can now go faster than 4 mph and ride farther. I’ve had to learn a lot about loading a bike that I didn’t need to know with that giant box on the front of my bike.

Is there something you wish you had known before you took your first pedal stroke as a family biker that would have made things easier?

Stay away from most of the city’s designated routes! Door zone bike lanes and hills are not your friend. Seriously, can the people at PBOT that designate these routes read a topographical map? Salmon? Harrison? Are you kidding me? There are flat ways around all the hills and your kids will thank you when you take the long, flat way because you will not be out of patience mid-ride.

Napping on each other and on the groceries, 2013.
(Photo: Kathleen Youell)

Tell me about a typical ride you take in Portland.

School and errands. I ride along side my daughter to school and back everyday. I ride to the grocery store and the library and to knitting and to coffeeshops to meet my friend and write. I take quiet residential streets and cross the big, scary streets at lights, preferably where there’s a green box so that the oncoming traffic knows I’m there. Occasionally I scream at a driver that I have two kids that I’d like to live to get home to, but that’s rare. Usually I notice other people on bikes and on foot are smiling at me and realize I have a huge grin on my face. I’m like that woman in the Portlandia sketch that is just so damn happy to be riding around (sans getting her skirt caught in her chain because I have a chain guard).

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Tell me about an especially memorable ride in Portland.

There have been so many! I led a Kidical Mass to the Fiets of Parenthood in 2013 (in front of the Art Museum) that was so big. I’ve looked all over and can’t find a photo of us arriving at the museum. I do remember seeing Martina Fahrner and Leah Treat standing together as we rolled in, both thrilled at our huge group of families that were riding together.

In a tie with that ride for first place is the only time I’ve done the WNBR [World Naked Bike Ride]. It changed me personally for the better to be in a group of people (as bare as I dared with a kidney stone and on my period). I felt safe and more ok with myself than I ever had. It has changed what I’m willing to wear while I ride and what I’m willing to wear in general.

Our biggest and stinkiest load: 2 kids and 7 loads of dirty laundry.
(Photo: Kathleen Youell)

If there was one piece of bike infrastructure (street, intersection, bike rack, etc) you use regularly that you could change to improve your life, what would it be?

Contra-flow bike lanes/one-way streets in front of all schools! My kids have only attended three schools in Portland, but all of those have worked hard to keep traffic flowing safety in front of schools at drop-off and pick-up. We get messages from the principals asking parents to drive in one direction around the school so why can’t PBOT get with the program? The long block of SE 34th between Division and Clinton is so much better than it was before; I can just imagine how much better biking and walking to school would be without parents and random cut-through drivers going in the other direction at drop-off and pick-up.

Have you biked in other cities and how did it compare?

Only Seattle since our change to a carfree family in 2009. I biked in Sacramento as a kid and that’s why I’m astounded that people like Elle Steele (@tinyhelmets) can do what my family does here in Portland while living in Sacramento. As for riding in Seattle, I went on a small group ride my first visit and a Mother’s Day Kidical Mass ride the second visit. I found the people very friendly and helpful (bikey people are the best people!) and the loaner Bromptons fun to ride. I remember hills (OMG the hills), a protected bike lane in front of my hotel, and a tunnel next to a highway that was beautifully painted and so hidden that I missed it and rode in circles for 5 minutes trying to find the entrance. Classic tourist. I don’t think I can really compare any of it to my riding in Portland where I can trust my instincts if I want to avoid a hill and leave the designated bike route. Our gridded streets are such a blessing!

The Haul-a-Day looks small, but it can bag & drag a bike with bigger tires than its own 20″ ones.
(Photo: Kathleen Youell)

The cargo bike “bag-and-drag”.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

What’s your best piece of advice to pass along to BikePortland readers?

To the general readership, please respect parents riding next to their children. I’ve had people ride between us, pass us on the right, and other dangerous things. My daughter has ridden her own bike for less than a year after over six years of sitting in front of me while I screamed at bad behavior of drivers. Stop freaking us out and teaching her bad behavior!

To family bikers, current or interested but concerned, there are lots of ways to connect with us online and in real life. Come to a Kidical Mass ride! Find a group on Facebook (PDX Cargo Bike Gang, Seattle Family Biking, or San Francisco Family Biking are all good ones) and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to vent your frustrations. Talk about routes and how to handle tantrums (children and/or drivers). There’s nothing more fun that getting to talk about family biking with other people that aren’t concerned that you shouldn’t be biking with children or who want to have The Helmet Discussion.

Do you have a social media presence you’d like to share?

I do! Twitter (@kyouell) and my blog (www.portlandize.com) or the PDX Cargo Bike Gang on Facebook are where you’ll most frequently find me.

Thank you for sharing your story Kathleen!

And thanks to you all for reading. We’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. 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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As debate heats up, State transpo commission will hear from public on congestion pricing

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 09:39

One of the recommend options would add tolls to I-5 through the Rose Quarter.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

It’s a rare chance to speak directly to the most powerful transportation policy-setting body in the State of Oregon on an issue that could have immense impact on our future.

In Portland this Thursday the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) will host a listening session on congestion pricing. The special event comes after six meetings and eight months of deliberations by the Portland Metro Area Value Pricing Feasibility Analysis Policy Advisory Committee (PAC). The 25-member PAC delivered its final tolling recommendation to the OTC on July 5th.

That recommendation (image below, PDF here) consists of an initial pilot program and a longer-term plan to be phased in later. Here’s how it would work: Tolls would be levied in two places; all lanes of I-5 between SW Multnomah Boulevard and the N Going/Alberta exit (exact termini would be decided later), and across the Abernethy Bridge on I-205 (known as concepts “B” and “Modified E”). When/if those are successful, the next step would be to toll all lanes of I-5 and I-205 from their intersection near Tualatin (south of Portland) to the Columbia River (concept C).

The PAC’s recommendation to the OTC.

“Tolling of existing capacity should not be used to discourage driving,”
— Marie Dodds, AAA Oregon/Idaho

(Note that both locations for the recommended pilot program are where ODOT already has nearly $600 million in freeway widening projects planned — the I-5 Rose Quarter and Abernethy Bridge replacement projects.)

The OTC will use the PAC’s recommendation and public feedback to create a proposal for the Federal Highway Administration later this year. If the FHWA approves, they’ll allow the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to move forward with more detailed analysis and development of the program.

With the potential of pricing Oregon freeways for the first time ever, the debates over how best to do it — and more importantly, what the revenue should be used for — are just beginning to heat up.

The Street Trust, a Portland-based group that advocates for better biking, walking, and transit, is concerned about where tolling revenue will go. “As it stands it appears that ODOT intends to raise revenue for highway widening mega-projects on I-5 and I-205,” wrote PAC member and The Street Trust Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky on Twitter yesterday. “That is a dangerous policy precedent and threatens undermine the benefits of congestion pricing.”

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Option C, favored by groups like The Street Trust and the City of Portland.

The Street Trust is urging their members to testify at Thursday’s meeting. They also plan to send ODOT a petition signed by 500 people urging the agency to spend tolling revenue on projects that will making biking, walking and transit more competitive options than driving.

There’s reason for worry. While the PAC’s Charter says pricing should “encourage more efficient use of the transportation system,” and that it should help increase, “the use of other modes,” it also states that revenues should go toward, “financing freeway bottleneck relief projects.”

Not surprisingly, interest groups and agencies are lobbying the OTC in both directions.

In a letter to OTC Chair Tammy Baney, AAA, a driving advocacy group, wrote, “Tolling of existing capacity should not be used to discourage driving, change travel behavior, or generate revenue for purposes other than the necessary and beneficial improvement and maintenance of safe mobility on the tolled corridor. AAA believes that congestion pricing, when it is imposed on all road users to discourage the use of automobiles during peak traffic periods, is not an appropriate transportation policy.”

The Oregon Trucking Association only supports a pricing program if revenue is used to increase freeway capacity. “We are not in favor of congestion pricing to support other projects,” their letter states.

In his letter to the OTC, Clackamas County Commissioner (and PAC member) Paul Savas wrote that, “I find the hard line ideology of rejecting highway solutions as lacking the vision needed to serve our region.”

The City of Vancouver in Washington is already asking for an earmark, demanding that a new I-5 bridge “must be included in any discussion of bottleneck relief projects.”

Washington County is another strong voice for more freeway capacity. In their letter they encourage the OTC to, “Link tolling directly to increased freeway capacity in the region… this means targeting revenue to completing the investments in the region’s bottleneck projects in the Rose Quarter and I-205/Abernathy [sic] Bridge… It is important the people who pay the toll see benefits both in terms of better traffic flow and increased capacity.”

While The Street Trust is up against powerful voices, they are not alone. They’re signed onto letters with groups including: Verde NW, OPAL Environmental Justice, Metro, Oregon Environmental Council, TriMet, and the City of Portland. The grassroots coalition group that’s fighting the I-5 Rose Quarter project has also thrown their weight behind the idea that any money raised should not be spent on more freeway capacity.

A letter to the OTC signed by Mayor Ted Wheeler and his four city council colleagues stated they prefer Option C (toll all lanes), “because it shows greatest travel time savings and revenue generation,” and they want options B and E to be considered merely as phases to achieving it. Any revenue, they say, “must be used to ensure corridor safety and multimodal options, including transit.” And in bold type their letter adds, “Revenue from I-5 tolling should not be used to fund I-205 expansion.”

If you want your voice to be heard, sign up for a three-minute speaking slot at this Thursday’s meeting. It starts at 4:00 pm (sign-ups begin at 3:00) and will be held in the Columbia Falls Ballroom of the University Place Hotel and Conference Center at 310 SW Lincoln Street in Portland. You can also still comment online through July 20th.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Rideshare tax in D.C., smart city pitfalls, BMX in the Bronx, and more

Mon, 07/09/2018 - 09:54

**This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the inaugural Salmon Cycling Classic on July 21st. Register today for this local fondo that will offer routes in the quiet roads around Wilsonville and a cedar plank salmon dinner for all participants.**

Welcome to the week! Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Bike-cam portal: Police in the U.K. now have a central location where they can view camera footage uploaded by people who’ve captured crashes and dangerous driving via their on-bike video cameras.

Bend native in Tour de France: Ian Boswell is in France competing at the world’s most prestigious bike race. His mom says it’s the culmination of a lifelong dream.

The problem with Chris Froome: The UCI cleared the defending Tour de France champion of a doping allegation just days before this year’s event. Here’s why that was such a bad move.

Taxing rideshare trips: The city council of Washington D.C. has passed a 6 percent tax on rideshare trips from the likes of Uber and Lyft. Revenue raised will be spent to improve their Metro transit system.

Accessible cycling: When people who use adaptive bicycles like hand-cycles and trikes feel comfortable enough on your bikeways you know you are doing something right.

Motorbikes in bike lanes: A controversial new law in Denmark will allow a class of speedy e-bikes that can go up to 28 mph use existing bike lanes.

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Pros and cons of “smart cities”: Excellent article that uses real-life example of Google’s project in Toronto as a frame for the perils and potentials of high-tech “smart cities”. With Portland launching a traffic data sensor program, this is a very relevant issue.

Arizona’s tragedy: Article details the terrible state of traffic safety for vulnerable road users in Arizona, lays out how to fix the problem, then explains how Arizona doesn’t have the political will to do what it takes.

Re-connect with our streets: A NYT Opinion piece introduces us to the Ford Motor Company-funded National Street Service, an effort to re-imagine our streets as places for people, not cars.

Portland bike share crystal ball: It’s just a matter of time (and not that much of it) before Portland follows in New York City’s footsteps and launches an electric, dockless bike share system.

Give e-bikes a chance: The Urbanist says e-bike share could revolutionize mobility, so we need to stop hating on bikes with a free boost of energy.

PBS is drunk: Yes it’s a fact that people who walk while drunk are at greater risk of death in a traffic crash, but the topic deserves much more care in reporting than The PBS Newshour displayed in this unfortunate piece. Thankfully we have Streetsblog to set the record straight.

BMX in the Bronx: This great photo essay of the renown Mullaly Bike Park in the Bronx shows how it’s not just a place to ride, but a powerful community builder that offer vital access to cycling.

Nissan sucks too: Another automaker has been caught falsifying emissions tests. It’s mind-boggling how dishonest and craven car companies are in their pursuit of profits. This corrupt industry does not deserve the political respect it currently enjoys.

Easy bike camping: Let the PSU student newspaper show you how to get into bike camping on the “cheap and dirty.”

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

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Tram opens ahead of schedule on Monday as Springwater closure begins

Fri, 07/06/2018 - 12:37

Good news for those of you who rely on the Portland Aerial Tram to get from the South Waterfront up to Marquam Hill: It will re-open on July 9th — that’s 21 days ahead of schedule.

The Tram announced the change of plans today:

“Members of the repair team worked 20 hours a day in two shifts, employed innovative repair techniques and also enjoyed the benefit of excellent weather. This combination of factors led to the scheduled track rope maintenance work being completed in 16 days instead of the originally scheduled five weeks.”


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Note that existing shuttles will continue to run (just not so often) through July 11th and the Go By Bike valet stations will remain open at its three temporary locations (Whitaker and Schnitzer parking lots and OHSU Student Center) through July 16th.

In related news, the Springwater Corridor path will begin a four-month closure on Monday (7/9) so the Bureau of Environmental Services and Army Corps of Engineers can install a larger culvert between the Willamette River and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. That closure was due to begin July 1st but it was pushed back due to expected cycling traffic to the Waterfront Blues Festival and the Fourth of July holiday.

Also worth noting is that ODOT’s major repaving project on I-5 begins Sunday (7/8). A complete closure of the I-5/I-84 ramp is expected to result in congestion and possibly cut-through traffic of epic proportions. Learn more at ODOT’s website.

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

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PBOT’s latest greenway proposal includes pocket parks, mini-roundabouts, and a dead-end for drivers

Fri, 07/06/2018 - 11:43

The quest for more humane streets sometimes means making them look more like parks. Just a few of the design concepts PBOT is considering fo the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway.
(Images: PBOT)


The two alignments.

Well over two years into discussions about a north-south neighborhood greenway that will someday connect the Lloyd District to Woodlawn, the City of Portland has finally shared concrete design plans. And they’re worth the wait.

The designs are a step beyond what we’ve seen before. Among the concepts for the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project are an extension of the linear arboretum on NE Ainsworth that would create a “pocket park” traffic diverter in the middle of the intersection. The Bureau of Transportation is also proposing a mini-roundabout at the crossing of the N Going greenway that would allow all road users to get through the intersection without having to come to a complete stop. Perhaps the most bold design of them all is an extension of Two Plum Park (on 7th between Mason and Shaver) that would result in a complete closure of the street to drivers.

PBOT still hasn’t decided whether the greenway should be built on 7th or 9th Avenue (or a mix of the two); but the decision should be easier now that the public can more clearly see what’s in store. The new designs come as part of PBOT’s second open house for the project. It’s an online open house that will accept feedback and ask questions via a survey through the end of this month.

Here’s more about the proposals for each of the two alignments (note that the routes will be the same between Sumner (two blocks north of Alberta) and Holman):

NE 9th

PBOT is showing two options for the intersection of 9th and Ainsworth. Option A is an exciting, park-like diverter that would extend the existing, tree-lined median (technically a linear arboretum maintained by the Concordia Tree Team) that runs in the center of Ainsworth. Bicycle riders would be able to pass through the intersection while drivers would be forced to turn right. PBOT says this option, “offers a unique opportunity to enhance the crossing while expanding a community resource.”

Option B for this intersection is much less interesting and would offer nowhere near the comfort of Option A:

At 9th and Going (a heavily used neighborhood greenway) PBOT says they could build a mini-roundabout that would allow people in cars and on bikes to go through the intersection without stopping:


**The Ainsworth park concept and mini-roundabout at Going apply to both alignments.

At Fremont the route on 9th hits Irving Park. To get through the park PBOT is proposing a two-way bike path on the south side of Fremont (that would take space currently used for parking cars):

The path would continue around the perimeter of the park and connect to 9th on the other side:

Between Broadway and Thompson PBOT is showing another novel concept: smooth cycling strips in the middle of a shared roadway. This section would have sharrow markings, but the smooth pavement strips would have two impacts: They would make cycling more safe and comfortable, and they’d provide a visual cue to drivers that they’re on a bike street

Since the route would begin on 7th in the Lloyd, here’s how PBOT would transition bicycle riders over to 9th using Broadway and Weidler:

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Because 7th is 1) highly favored to be the greenway and 2) has a relatively high volume of drivers (about 5,500 cars per day), PBOT’s designs would aim to dramatically reduce the amount of auto traffic. The most interesting example of this is what’s proposed on 7th at Two Plum Park (a small park between Mason and Shaver). Calling it a “unique opportunity to integrate traffic management into existing green spaces,” PBOT is proposing an extension of the park across the entire width of 7th Avenue that would close off the street to drivers. “The result,” PBOT says, “is simple and effective, and can strengthen a beloved community asset.”

At Fargo, PBOT wants to install a partial diverter that would prevent driving northbound. Auto users would have to turn off the street and use Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

At Morris, a partial diverter would prevent southbound auto use.

Another big diverter would be installed at Hancock. This one would stretch across the entire street and would force auto users to turn off the greenway.

To get bicycle riders safely from Broadway to the greenway, PBOT is proposing to build a protected bike lane northbound:

And between Broadway and Weidler they would add green bike lanes and bike boxes:

It’s worth noting that public feedback so far has been overwhelmingly in favor of the 7th Avenue alignment. This is due to its connection to the forthcoming Sullivan’s Crossing bridge over I-84, its more direct and flat profile, and its potential to reduce the amount of people who use cars on 7th as a cut-through. The budget for the project is also a big consideration. It’s only about $500,000. That means some of the design concepts being proposed would only be possible if and when PBOT could identify additional funding.

From here, PBOT will continue to do public outreach and there’s another open house scheduled for August 1st. A final design will be chosen later this fall and the project will be built in spring 2019. Learn more and visit the online open house on the project website.

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

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Signs vandalized in separate incidents on Skyline Blvd and Rosa Parks Rd

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 10:50

New sign broken off and discarded and a broken wand on Rosa Parks. A vandalized sign on NW Skyline.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

As Portland marches forward in an effort to reform streets from auto-centric speedways into more humane and safe spaces for a variety of users, not everyone is taking it well.

Back in March we reported on someone who had painted red X’s on the sidewalk outside homes of people who supported changes to make SE Lincoln safer for bicycle riders. A month later we shared how vandals defaced dozens of orange “20 is Plenty” signs on a north Portland street that’s frequently used as a cut-through.

And now we’ve seen more of this anti-safe streets vandalism.

Up on NW Skyline Road (just north of Germantown) someone has spray-painted one of the City of Portland’s new 35 mph speed limit signs so it now says 85 mph. (Update: A commenter below shares that several signs were vandalized). The context here is that Skyline is a very popular road for bicycling and it’s relatively narrow with not much of a shoulder. For that and other safety reasons, earlier this spring the Bureau of Transportation lowered the speed limit from 40 mph. The change impacts Skyline from Cornell to the city limits (Multnomah County takes over jursidiction a few miles north of Germantown at NW McNamee).

Slow and safe speeds on Skyline are absolutely vital. PBOT is aware of the vandalism and we’re confident this will be fixed soon.

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A separate vandal struck in north Portland near Peninsula Park around midnight on July 3rd. In video sent to us from the owner of a nearby business (thanks Wake!) a man can be seen standing next to a new sign on the northeast corner of Rosa Parks Way and Albina. He then purposely shakes the sign and it breaks free of its stanchion (not captured on the video). In another clip, the man can be seen walking with the sign near the Peninsula Park Community Center. He then places the sign across the newly striped protected bike lane.

The sign in question was recently installed (see it below). It’s a caution sign that advises right-turning drivers to stop and watch for people on foot and on bikes. I also noticed that one of the plastic wands installed by PBOT near the community center has been broken off just above the base. I assume this damage is related to the man who broke off the larger sign because it happened at the same time and the broken wand is right next to where he flung the sign across the bike lane.

The sign in the upper right is no longer there.

These cost PBOT $90 each in case you were wondering.

These are unfortunate incidents. They’re a waste of PBOT’s time and resources and they demonstrate entitlement and a basic lack of respect. On the flip side, maybe this is a sign of progress. After all, if PBOT isn’t making people mad, then they’re probably not doing enough to change the status quo.

And I have to say, it’s a bit satisfying that finally, instead of safe street activists, it’s those who are used to having all the power and privilege that are resorting to guerrilla tactics to get their point across.

UPDATE, 7:13 pm: That was quick. PBOT has replaced the sign on Rosa Parks:

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Bone Machine Crit, Welcome to (Bike) Portland, and more

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 09:33

Discover new paths and natural gems of north Portland on Saturday’s Welcome to (Bike) Portland ride.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Here are our recommendations for the weekend…

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

Saturday, July 7th

Slow Poke Ride – 9:30 am at Wilshire Park (NE)
Join the Portland Wheelmen for this chill ride from northeast to Kelley Point Park. More info here.

Welcome to (Bike) Portland – 10:00 am at Fresh Pot (N)
It’s the first ride for the Welcome to (Bike) Portland Social Club! Aimed at orienting new Portlanders to the fun biking life this city affords. Join Filmed by Bike founder Ayleen Crotty for a royal exploration of great nature spots in the city — from the Skidmore Bluffs to Smith & Bybee Lakes. More info here.

Youth MTB Ride – 10:00 am at Stub Stewart State Park (Buxton)
This is the kickoff of a new monthly rides for young people led by NW Trail Alliance and the Oregon Scholastic MTB League. Come out and enjoy the excellent trails at Stub Stewart. More info here.

Cannondale Synapse Test Ride Event – 12:00 pm at Western Bikeworks (NW)
If you’re in the market for a new road bike, come kick the tires of the hot new Cannondale Synapse. Our friends at Western Bikeworks will have free demo bikes and rides leaving from the shop to give them a proper test. Stick around for Bone Machine Track Bike Show at the shop starting at 7:00. More info here.

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Bone Machine Crit Track Bike Show and Goldsprints 7:00 pm at Western Bikeworks (NW)
Bone Machine is back! The main event (a fixed gear criterium on Swan Island) is Sunday, but the party is on Saturday night. Roll over to Western Bikeworks for a showcase of killer track bikes curated by Amy Danger. Goldsprints competition too (bring $5 to compete)! More info here.

Sunday, July 8th

Bone Machine Criterium – 11:00 am on Swan Island (N)
The main event of the Bone Machine weekend: A rim-rattling, white-knuckle, high-speed, fixed-gear bike criterium. In addition to great racing action, there will also be live bands, finals of the bike polo competition, a beer garden and food trucks. More info here.

Corvidae Bike Club Ride – 2:00 pm at Peninsula Park (N)
Corvidae is a great group of people who like to hang out and ride bikes together. This is monthly Sunday Funday ride. Check their Facebook page to stay connected and learn more about the ride.

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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PBOT opens e-scooter applications, pilot program to start this month

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 08:55

(Image: PBOT)


The City of Portland just opened its application process for a four-month Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program.

PBOT says the total number of e-scooters allowed in the city will be capped at 2,500 and there will be a requirement that companies deploy 20 percent of the fleet in east Portland (as defined here). Top speed will be limited to 15 mph.

Here’s more from the announcement:

Throughout the Pilot Program, Shared Scooter companies will be expected to report on and mitigate impacts in several areas of concern. These include (but are not limited to): Safety and access for people walking, safety and access for people with disabilities and compliance with state law (including helmet requirements and the prohibition on sidewalk riding).

Through public engagement and program evaluation, City officials will determine whether and under what circumstances electric scooter sharing may be permitted to continue operating in the public right-of-way after the Pilot Program has ended. The bureau will use anonymized trip data analysis, user surveys, and intercept surveys to understand the potential benefits and burdens of e-scooter operations in Portland in relation to the City’s equity, mobility, and climate action goals.

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During the pilot, PBOT will gather data from surveys, focus groups, a complaint hotline and more. They’ll be trying to assess whether the micro-mobility devices reduce auto use and congestion, improve street safety, expand mobility options for underserved communities and reduce air pollution.

Graphic from Lime’s app, showing where to ride scooters.

It will cost each company $250 to apply and $2,500 for the permit if they’re selected. PBOT will also charge a 25-cent per-trip surcharge. The scooters will hit the streets July 23rd and the pilot program will end on November 20th.

The scooters are illegal to use on sidewalks and they’ll be a new presence in Portland bike lanes. The devices will be dockless, meaning users won’t have to park them in specific spots.

In the 36-page application packet, PBOT clarifies to potential operators that as per Portland City Code section 17.44.010 A: “It is unlawful for any person to obstruct or cause to be obstructed any roadway, curb or sidewalk by leaving or placing, any object, material or article which may prevent free passage over any part of such street or sidewalk area.” There’s also this daunting list of where scooters cannot be parked:

In order to earn a permit, PBOT is requiring operators to notify users that helmets are mandatory.

Learn more on PBOT’s website.

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

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Pedaling is patriotic! Enjoy the 4th of July

Wed, 07/04/2018 - 07:14

Happy Independence Day!

Riding a bike gives us independence from so many things. Bicycles are freedom machines that allow us to go where we want, when we want — and the only fuel they require is our own muscles.

Hope you get a chance to ride today — whether that’s to a street party, parade, BBQ, or whatever.

We’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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

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WashCo Bikes hires Joe Kurmaskie as first-ever executive director

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:12

WashCo Bikes’ new logo and new ED Joe Kurmaskie (as seen at an anti Columbia River Crossing rally in 2009).
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Bike advocacy on the other side of the west hills from Portland has gone through a lot of changes in the past few months.

The nonprofit Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition changed their name to WashCo Bikes back in May and this week they’ve announced their first-ever executive director.

Portland-based author Joe Kurmaskie is set to take the helm of the 13-year-old organization. WashCo Bikes was first formed in 1998 as a chapter of The Street Trust (known back then as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance). Until know, WashCo Bikes had run all their summer bike camps, an adopt-a-bike program and community events with only volunteers. “We have reached a point in our organization’s evolution where, to fulfill our mission and goals, and strive for further overall growth, we need the professional expertise and focus of a paid staff,” read a WashCo Bikes email sent out today.

Kurmaskie is known by many as the Metal Cowboy, the name of a series of popular books about his many bicycle touring adventures. He’s also a nationally recognized speaker and has led youth bike camps throughout the Portland area. In 2016 we reported that he put those camps on hold due to safety concerns on the Springwater Corridor.

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As leader of WashCo Bikes, Kurmaskie will face the formidable challenge of building an advocacy coalition across 16 cities and communities — many of which are criss-crossed by highways and large arterials with classic suburban land-use patterns. “I’m pumped to invigorate the suburbs and outlying communities west of Portland with exciting new programs while expanding quality existing ones,” Kurmaskie shared in an announcement he posted to Facebook. “Yes, this is an uphill, herculean challenge that I absolutely relish,” he added.

Kurmaskie is no stranger to local bike and transportation activism. In 2007 he helped organized the “We Are All Traffic” rally that followed the deaths of Tracey Sparling and Brett Jarolimek, he created the One Million Bicycles initiative, and was one of the speakers at an anti-Columbia River Crossing project rally in 2009. More recently, Kurmaskie started IronItOut.org, an effort to increase awareness of hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder he suffers from that leads to an overload of iron in the body.

Among his immediate goals for WashCo Bikes, Kurmaskie says he wants to rebrand WashCo Bikes’ summer camp program, launch a new holiday ride, push to bring a Sunday Parkways-style event to Washington County, and more.

Stay tuned for more from Kurmaskie. For now, you can learn more about WashCo Bikes and become a member on their website.

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

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Family Biking: Preludes to pedaling their own set of wheels

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 10:19

Trailer bikes are great for when they’re too big for balance bikes but not yet ready to be on their own.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I was taught to bike the old-fashioned way. My mother tossed me and a little red bike off the end of the pier by our house and I pedaled with all my might for land — and I was a competent bicyclist by the time a wave swept me onto the sandy shore. Or something like that.

Kids these days have it much easier with lots of nifty options that don’t involve the Pacific Ocean, avoid scraped elbows and knees, and aren’t uphill both ways. This week I’ll share what I’ve learned about balance bikes, tricycles and trailer bikes.

➤ Balance Bikes
Also called push bikes, run bikes, and b-bikes if you’re in a hurry, balance bikes are mini replicas of the world’s first prelude to a bike, the dandy horse, circa 1818. Cool then, cool now. Balance bikes come smaller than pedal bikes and allow kids to master balance before worrying about pedaling. They’re extremely fun and lots of kids like hanging onto their balance bikes for a while even once they’re pedaling proficiently.

I’m of the mind that balance bikes are all pretty much the same, but there are some different features and a lot of different brands.

Splash! I think some kids are better candidates for metal balance bikes.
(Photos by Madi Carlson)

➤ Material: wood vs. metal
Metal balance bikes hold up better if left outdoors, but wooden bikes are lighter. I’m not sure that rule always applies, but when a friend borrowed our metal Kinderbike when he’d left his wooden Like-a-Bike at home, his mom noted it was heavier than she was used to.

Which leads me to another great point about balance bikes: no protuberances in the middle of the bike make them incredibly easy to tuck into trailer cargo holds, messenger bags, panniers, etc, and bring along on bike rides.

➤ Hand brake
Some balance bikes come with a rear hand brake! Our two balance bikes — a KinderBike Mini and KinderBike Laufrad — both had hand brakes. Our kids never used them (hence my feeling that all balance bikes are pretty much the same); but in theory they’re a wonderful addition.

Strider’s “Baby Bundle”.
(Photo: Strider Bikes)

➤ Tires: air-filled or solid
Our balance bikes had air-filled tires I rarely needed to pump up (thank goodness because there’s little room for squeezing a pump nozzle in) and they lasted through two kids and lots of rough treatment each — but just barely. Our KinderBike Mini needed a new back tire when it was time to pass it along. For this reason many parents choose balance bikes with solid foam rubber tires.

➤ Super small balance bikes
10 years ago the KinderBike Mini was the smallest balance bike I could find. The only other option I was aware of back then was to get a wooden Skuut and assemble it with the frame upside down, though that was still a bit taller than the KinderBike Mini. But these days there are many tiny options, including the smallest: the Strider Bike Baby Bundle (right) that includes a base and can fit toddlers as young as six months old!

➤ Can’t you just take the pedals off a regular bike?
You sure can! But most toddlers seem to start balance biking when they are still too small for the smallest pedal bike. However, taller kids can use a bike with pedals removed. It’s also a wonderful way to get balance bikers used to the size and weight of their new pedal bikes — turn them into balance bikes temporarily before working on pedaling. Pedal removal is a quick task for your local bike shop or you can do it yourself with a pedal wrench. I have a $10 consumer quality pedal wrench and do pedal swapping myself, but old pedals can be extremely hard to remove (even when you know only the right pedal is rightly righty-tighty-lefty-loosy and the left pedal is opposite) and I abandoned my first solo pedal swap in tears. Generally just removing the pedals is fine and little legs won’t bang on crank arms, but you can also take out the whole bottom bracket if you’re so inclined.

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➤ Bigger balance bikes
You can take pedals of a bigger bike as mentioned above, but that will probably be heavier than getting a big purpose-made balance bike. Strider has a special needs category of bikes including two bigger balance bikes, a 16-inch for ages six and up with a weight limit of 187 pounds and a 20-inch for ages 10 and up with a rider weight limit of 242 pounds. They both have front and rear hand brakes.

Four-wheeled push toy (musical instrument not included, that’s just early cargo biking).

➤ Before balance bikes
Before they could shuffle around on two wheels, my kids loved shuffling around on four wheels thanks to the tiny Radio Flyer Scoot-About™ designed for ages one to three. There are lots of tiny things with three and four wheels that look a lot like balance bikes for toddlers eager to join the biking fun.

An unattended cargo trike at the zoo is still a trike!

➤ Trikes and training wheels
Pedal-free pushing isn’t the only prelude to bicycling. Furthermore, while my kids got the balance part down pat, they had a bit of trouble getting used to pedals. So it’s nice to have some sort of pre-bike vehicle with pedals to introduce the concept. We tackled this by test-riding bikes with training wheels on the REI showroom floor. That said, there are plenty of success stories of balance bikers who zoom off into the sunset the moment they straddle their first pedal bikes.

Ideally balance bike kids can skip training wheels altogether, but one neat thing I learned about training wheels while my kids attended a Pedalheads bike camp was that putting training wheels on bikes just after kids learn to pedal — and only for a day or a couple hours — allows kids time to figure out braking. If only I had known this when my younger son started pedaling because he loved going top speed yet had zero interest in using his brakes for several nerve-racking weeks.

Our Burley Piccolo trailer bike adjusted pretty small.

➤ Trailer bikes
Also known as trail-a-bikes (after the popular Adams brand) and tag-alongs, trailer bikes are a great way to introduce pedaling while not having to focus on balance. You can also use them when you want to go faster than you’re able to with kids trying to keep up on their own. I don’t see a lot of kids actively pedaling when on trailer bikes (my own kids included), but they’re there for experimenting with.

I’m sure I’m missing a lot of helpful items so please share in the comments any additional pre-bikes and not-quite-bikes you’ve found useful or seen in action. What’s your favorite starter-wheeled thing?

Thanks for reading. 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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TriMet launches online open house on Division Transit Project station designs

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:06

Latest iteration of how TriMet will design eight new stations on outer SE Division.

After months of feedback from partner agencies and advisory committees, and “recalibrating” due to a budget shortfall, TriMet has released its latest designs for how bicycle riders will pass through its new bus stations as part of the Division Transit project. An online open house went live last week and is accepting public comments through July 12th.

We last shared TriMet’s plans a few weeks ago. Since then, the agency has held two open houses and firmed up the design.

TriMet is grappling with how to maintain a protected bike lane while achieving all the other design and budget goals for the project (primary among them is to increase bus speeds and reliability). When we took our first close look just over one year ago, TriMet planned on a design where the bike lane would go behind the bus island (something similar to this scenario in London). Now the design routes the bike lane between passengers and the bus.

Here’s what they presented in June 2017:

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In September 2017:

In October 2017:

And here’s the latest design again:

This view gives you a different sense of how it will all come together (the teal/purple sections are protected bike lanes, the blue is the bus station):

According to their latest maps, TriMet plans to build eight of these “Integrated–Shared Bicycle and Pedestrian” stations — all east of 82nd. The locations include: 84th Place westbound, 87th eastbound, both sides of the street west of the I-205 path, and in Gresham on both sides of the street at 174th and 182nd.

One of the key aspects of the design you can help TriMet finalize is how wide the bike lane and the boarding strip (aka “alighting area”) should be. This is the “to be determined” part of the cross-section in the drawings above. According to discussions I’ve overheard, the concerns is that a wider alighting area will encourage people to stand on it and result in more blockage of the bike lane (TriMet wants people to wait further back on the sidewalk). But a narrower alighting area might not do enough to slow down bicycle users and create a safe space for passengers.

Please share your feedback with TriMet at the online open house before July 12th. Construction on this project is due to start fall 2019 and be ready for service mid-2022.

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

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Two bikes stolen in smash-and-grab theft at Breadwinner Cycles & Cafe

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 06:52

(Photos: Breadwinner Cycles)

Be on the lookout: Breadwinner Cycles in north Portland was broken into last night and the thieves stole two bikes.

Co-owner Ira Ryan contacted us with the news this morning. He said someone smashed through their glass front door, waltzed into the shop and took the bikes and a company laptop.

According to Ryan the bike that was taken is a red, Lolo model road bike with the name “J. Daugherty” on the top tube. To make matters worse, the bike belonged to a customer from Washington that was planning to come to Portland this Thursday to pick it up. The other bike that was stolen is a blue, prototype dirt-jumper model. Scroll down to see both bikes…

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Breadwinner, the bike company formerly based out of Ryan’s garage, opened in this new location and expanded into a cafe last winter. Ryan says the cafe and shop will be open for business today once all the broken glass is cleaned up.

“We are bummed, but determined to carry on of course,” Ryan said via text this morning.

If you see either of these bikes, please contact Portland Police non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 and/or drop us a line and we can put you in touch with Breadwinner.

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

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Welcome to (Bike) Portland: A new ride series for newcomers

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 13:55

Between 2010 and 2017 an average of 171 people moved to Portland each week. That’s over 62,000 new residents hitting the streets of what’s arguably the most bike-friendly big city in America.

As such, it’s likely a good percentage are ready start biking more. And we want to make sure they all feel at home when they do.

Are you new to town? Do you know someone who just moved to here and wants to learn all the ins-and-outs of two-wheeled life in Portland? If so, hopefully Pedalpalooza and/or this amazing summer weather has piqued your interest in cycling. Now it’s time to cement that relationship by showing up for a new series of rides aimed at making you feel at home in the bike lanes.

We’ve teamed up with Filmed by Bike and ORBike.com for Welcome to (Bike) Portland — a new social club for people who like cycling and want to take their local knowledge to the next level.

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Seems like a good excuse to print a few more of these! (First printed in 2005)

We’ve got three rides planned for the next three months. The first one will this coming Saturday July 7th and it’s led by Filmed by Bike founder Ayleen Crotty. Ayleen is also behind cool local institutions like the Midnight Mystery Rides and Breakfast on the Bridges. She was also one of the pioneers of Pedalpalooza, Multnomah County Bike Fair and the KBOO Bike Show!

Here’s what she has planned for Saturday:

Meet: 10:00 am at The Fresh Pot, 4001 N. Mississippi
Theme: Nature in the city. There are plenty of gorgeous escapes and swimming holes right here in the city. Get to know some of the best spots with a tour that ends with a picnic on the beach! Bring something to share (optional!). If it’s a hot day, you might want to bring a swim suit and towel. SWIM SUITS AND SNACKS ENCOURAGED!
Distance: We will stop every 3 to 6 miles. Technically we will ride 24 very casual miles total but it won’t feel like that.
Appropriate for: All adult riders (even if you have never before ridden 24 miles) with a functional bike. Youth riders who have ridden a good distance and are accompanied by an experienced adult rider.

I’ll be leading a ride on August 4th where I’ll show you how to survive — and thrive — in Portland’s urban jungle. I’ll show you how I’ve learned to “read the street” and live in harmony with those big, four-wheeled, mechanized wild animals that rampage through our city.

The September ride will be led by Meghan Sinnott, the bike-cultural powerhouse who organizes the World Naked Bike Ride, Pedalpalooza, the Tweed Ride, and more. Meghan’s will introduce you to Portland’s creative side — from murals to makers.

Make sure to stay in-the-loop and sign up for updates at the Welcome to (Bike) Portland website. And if you’re a biking veteran, please forward this along to friends and coworkers who are just starting out. Thanks!

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

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