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Updated: 15 weeks 12 hours ago

Thank you #ClimateStrike marchers!

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:35

scene from Portland as kids protesting climate change march through the streets pic.twitter.com/hn90eQW8dL

— Mike Bivins (@itsmikebivins) March 15, 2019

Students from schools throughout Portland have massed downtown today for the #ClimateStrike event. Reports are that it’s a big success with crowds much larger than folks anticipated.

We just want to say thank you for standing up and creating more awareness for the climate crisis! As one of the old people in the room, I’ll do what I can to create a different future.

Also want to remind you that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon (39% of the total). We can reform transportation and significantly lower our GHG emissions (not to mention make our neighborhoods much nicer to live in), if we do everything we can to encourage the use of transit and bicycles, and discourage the use of cars and trucks.

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And in case you haven’t heard, the State of Oregon (with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s blessing) wants to widen Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter. This would encourage people to drive through Portland, spewing even more toxic emissions into our lungs and air. You can help stop this project by checking out No More Freeways PDX, an all-volunteer group of people who are just as concerned about climate change as you are.

Thanks again. See you on the streets!

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

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As bell tolls for victims, Portlanders at ‘die-in’ call on ODOT to end ‘traffic violence’

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:30

A woman and her baby made a strong statement in front of ODOT headquarters on Wednesday.
(Photos: Alex Milan Tracy)

In a silent and powerful protest on Wednesday, parents, children, and activists came together to draw attention to unsafe streets. There was fake blood and chalk-outlined bodies. Adding to the symbolism was that it took place in the courtyard outside the front doors of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Region 1 headquarters in northwest Portland.

“We’re lying here today to make it less likely that you’ll be lying in the road in the future.”
— Ted Buehler, participant

They laid down on the cold, hard pavement while someone struck a bell 467 times — once for each person who died on Oregon roads last year.

ODOT was the clear focus of this event. Organizers chalked “#DeathByODOT” on the sidewalk and used the hashtag in social media posts. In a statement about the event, Bike Loud wrote, “ODOT can no longer ignore the violence that occurs on their streets. We will not allow them to hide any further. We call on ODOT to stop the violence.”

“We’re lying here today to make it less likely that you’ll be lying in the road in the future,” said Bike Loud PDX volunteer Ted Buehler.

Edward LeClaire was one of the volunteers with Bike Loud PDX who participated. He showed up a bit early and found himself in ODOT’s lobby. I wasn’t at the event, so I asked LeClaire to share his thoughts on how it went. Here’s what he shared via email:

“I was astounded at how willfully out-of-touch ODOT staff were with the bike community. Before the event I happened to be in the lobby and I overheard staff saying things like, ‘What do they think is going to happen anyway?’ During the event while I was on the ground, looking up at the ODOT building, I could see several staff peering out and staring at us. Meanwhile, the bell was being rung to mark every death and it was somber as hell. The sun was going down the temperature was dropping and I was starting to shiver from the cold of the ground, but I didn’t want to get up out of respect for the dead while the bell kept ringing and ringing and ringing.

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A couple of ODOT staff took the time to be outside during the event but they chose to stand apart and refused to participate. Bicyclists are obviously the ‘other’ not deserving of their respect. Given that staff were aware of the event and discussing it inside, I had sort of hoped that possibly a few ODOT staff who commute by bike might come out and at least say, ‘Hey we ride bikes too.’ But they did not. We had an open microphone to allow anybody to talk and I honestly expected ODOT’s public information officer (who was there) to take the opportunity to say bland words about how, ‘ODOT cares deeply about the safety of all road users, and we work hard every day to keep people safe, we lament the death of every person killed on our roads, etc. etc.’ But that they could not even say kind bland words when given the direct opportunity in front of the evening news crews — it really struck home just how ODOT staff view bicyclists and pedestrians not as humans but as the freakish weirdos who strangely keep choosing to die on their roads.”

See more coverage of the event from KATU News.

Images by Alex Milan Tracy

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

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Friday Opinion: The bills I wish we were working on this session

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 08:52

Bicycle riders should be included in Oregon’s “Move Over Law.”
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

There are plenty of important bills down in Salem this session, but as you might have noticed in the list of bills we’re tracking — and despite a supermajority for Democrats — bicycling doesn’t seem like much a priority. (Not that bicycling is a partisan issue, but in general Democrats tend to be more receptive to it than Republicans.)

When arguably the biggest bike bill in the mix is one that merely clarifies an existing law that bike lanes don’t disappear in intersections, you know it’s another down year for cycling in Salem.

I can think of several reasons why the issue has lost urgency with lawmakers; but instead of lamenting the state of cycling in our politics, I want to share a few legal ideas I wish we were working on.

Bike tax repeal: The $15 tax on new bicycles that passed in the 2017 session is an embarrassment for our state. It was created as a tool to help make increases in automobile fees and taxes more politically palatable. It was also the product of lawmakers seeking to quiet constituents who constantly berate them with the tired “bicyclists don’t pay!” mantra. It makes no sense, it doesn’t raise a significant amount of revenue ($610,000 for the entire year, about half what was expected, while costing taxpayers $115,000 to administer), it discourages a behavior that should be promoted, and — newsflash! — it won’t shut up the haters. I heard there was some organizing from an independent lobbyist to work on a repeal, but I don’t think that effort got off the ground.

Idaho Stop: Allowing bicycle users to treat stop signs as yields is a sensible way to improve cycling. As we reported in January, the circus of enforcement at stop signs has been a perennial problem in Portland. We very nearly passed Idaho Stop in 2009 and it deserves another chance.

Move over for bike riders: Oregon should trash its existing bicycle passing law (which is ineffective, unknown, and therefore relatively pointless) and amend our much stronger Move Over Law to include bicycle riders, similar to a bill currently being discussed in Washington. The legislature recently expanded the Move Over Law to include drivers on the side of the road. Bicycle riders deserve the same respect.

Studded tire tax: This should be a no-brainer. Studded tires cause millions in damage to our roads each year and they’re not necessary for the vast majority of people who choose to use them. Washington’s legislature has taken up a $100 fee and eventual ban. Oregon should do the same.

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E-bike incentives: Oregon has rebate programs for electric cars and motorcycles. Those programs should include electric bikes.

Rise to new heights.

Photo Credit: Adam P. #RamHeavyDuty pic.twitter.com/zrHmGSajr3

— RamTrucks (@RamTrucks) March 14, 2019

Big truck tax: There’s growing awareness that the alarming rise in fatal collisions involving walkers can be partly attributed to the increased popularity of large personal trucks (like the obscene one above). These huge trucks with massive front ends are largely a product of automakers’ greed and selfish consumerism — not a need for cargo and utility. If a person doesn’t have a commercial/business license, we should tax the purchase of large trucks and SUVs and put the revenue in a Vision Zero Safety project fund.

Bicycle Safety Corridors: ODOT already has a “Safety Corridor” program. We should expand it and create “Bicycle Safety Corridors.” In more rural areas with popular bike routes, these stretches of road could come with increased fines for violations, more “Bikes on Roadway” signage, bicycle pullouts, more frequent sweeping/maintenance intervals, wider shoulders, and so on.

I love dreaming up new legislation. That’s the easy part! I know it takes a lot of work to turn them into laws.

Hopefully by the 2021 session cycling will be ready to emerge from the shadows and flex its muscles again as an issue worth fighting for at the State Capitol.

What do you think of my wish list? Any of these worth pursuing? What new cycling-related laws do you dream about?

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

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Jobs of the Week: Western Bikeworks

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 07:36

Two fresh job listings this week. Both from our partners at Western Bikeworks.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Seasonal Part-Time Sales Associate – Western Bikeworks

–> Part-Time Service Writer – Western Bikeworks

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

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Here’s why Portland Parks will install stop signs on the Springwater

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 13:01

Westbound SE Harney Street. ODOT says stop signs are needed on the path because they’re worried vehicle users on streets like this will wait on railroad tracks for path users to cross.

When we learned the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau planned to install 10 new stop signs on a newly paved, half-mile section of the Springwater Corridor, several readers contacted us to express their frustration.

Illustration by ODOT Rail Division to explain their plans for the Springwater.

Stop signs for carfree path users (especially at very low-volume cross-streets) make for inefficient riding and decrease the utility of the trail. Not only that, but psychology and best practices tell us it’s actually less safe to install stop signs that will be ignored by users because people become desensitized to them. It would be much wiser to install caution or yield signs for path users and only require a full stop from the occasional cross-street user.

But that’s not how the Oregon Department of Transportation sees it. They required Portland Parks to install the stop signs as part of their Sellwood Gap project currently under construction.

In a project update from the Parks Bureau on March 7th, Parks’ Community Engagement Coordinator Ken Rumbaugh confirmed that the intersections of SE Umatilla, Harney, Marion, 9th, Linn, 11th, and 13th will become four-way stops (cross-streets currently have yields). Then he added, “In these instances, the cyclist(s) and/or pedestrian(s) will have the right of way.”

After a few days of emailing various staffers of ODOT’s Rail Division (who’s in charge of this area due to the extant railroad line adjacent to the path), I finally got an explanation of their rationale for requiring the stop signs.

ODOT Public Affairs Manager Shelley Snow they deferred to the Federal Highway Administration’s Rails With Trails – Lessons Learned report (PDF). I had emailed her examples of the Alta Planning Rural Design Guide and the AASHTO Bikeway Design Guide — both of which warn against using stop signs for path users. “The guides you mention are great when it comes to those more common types of intersections,” Snow replied. “But apparently trails/paths running right alongside rails are not that common.”

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This queue of vehicles can spill back across the tracks, putting drivers that obey the law and stop for trail users, in danger.
— ODOT

Snow said there are not design standards ODOT could refer to for this project, only the “lessons learned” from the FHWA. Based on ODOT’s analysis of that FHWA guidance, Snow says their primary concern is that people using cars (and other vehicles) on the cross-streets might end up waiting on the railroad tracks. Here’s how Snow put it:

“The key factor here is that without the stop signs where they are now, the traffic coming from the other direction could get stuck on the tracks waiting for the free flow of path users to go by. Thus, the stop signs were placed to stop the path users, decreasing the chance that road users are stopped on the tracks.”

And here it is put another way by ODOT Rail Crossing Safety Manager Rick Shankle,

“There are three different modes of transportation, on three different alignments, intersecting in one place. The train has the right-of way over the other users, and the motor vehicles must yield to pedestrian use on the trail. The STOP sign on the trail intersection with each of these streets, and the STOP signs on the streets essentially make each of these intersections a 4-way stop, and reduce the potential for motor vehicles to stop on the tracks while waiting for a pathway user to cross the street.”

Snow also provided me with a document titled Springwater Study that states,

“According to Oregon law, once a pedestrian sets foot in the crosswalk or multi use path, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian exits the driver’s lane, plus half of an adjacent lane. In locations near railroad tracks this queue of vehicles can spill back across the tracks, putting drivers that obey the law and stop for trail users, in danger of collisions with trains using the railroad tracks. Not only is this a safety concern, but Oregon has long had a law in the vehicle code prohibiting a vehicle from stopping, standing, or parking on a grade crossing or otherwise interfering with rail operations.”

Snow said the City of Portland, Parks bureau, ODOT Active Transportation staff and railroad representatives all agreed on the design.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: PedPDX, Afghan Cycles, Dirty Circles, Kidical Mass, and more!

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:51

70s in the forecast!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It feels like spring has finally arrived and we can sense the bicycling buzz out there.

This week’s guide kicks off with three events tomorrow, including a bonus wonky one during your lunch hour.

Friday, March 15th

PBOT Lunch & Learn — Addressing Equity through Citywide Pedestrian Planning — 11:30 am at PSU Karl Miller Center (SW)
The product of two years of work, PBOT is proud to share their PedPDX Plan. This Lunch & Learn session (note new venue!) is a great way to get more intimate with its findings and recommendations. More info here.

Afghan Cycles Film Screening – 8:30 pm at Regal Fox Tower (SW)
This film is well-timed for Women’s Month as it chronicles the oppressive societal conditions Afghani women face for the simple act of riding their bicycles. More info here.

Dropout Bicycle Club Monthly Ride – 10:00 pm at Colonel Summers Park (SE)
The Dropout’s are one of the many fun-loving bike clubs that roam our streets. More info here.

Saturday, March 16th

Slow Poke Ride – 10:00 am at Wilshire Park (NE)
Join the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club for a 25 mile (or so) jaunt up to Kelley Point Park and then over to Madrona Hill Cafe near the Willamette bluffs. More info here.

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Kidical Mass at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade – 10:30 am at Sellwood Park (SE)
Join your local chapter of Kidical Mass to revel in the Irish spirit at this traditional parade. Don’t forget the green decorations on your bikes! More info here.

Sunday, March 17th

Dirty Circles – All day in Woodland, WA
The OBRA road racing season has begun! And what better way to kick things off than with a relatively nearby venue with a flat course that will help shed those cobwebs out of your legs and get you excited for competition once again? Race categories tailored for all fitness levels. More info here.

Luck of the Irish Ride – 12:30 pm at Vera Katz Statue on the Esplanade (SE)
Join experienced ride leader Tom Howe for a ride based on the classic 1948 movie “The Luck of the Irish” in which the main character has a life-changing encounter with a leprechaun at a magical waterfall. 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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A dog, a crash, and now, recovery

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 09:35

Heading down NW Cornell Rd toward Skyline Blvd.
(Photos: Martin Stabler)

This story was written by Martin Stabler

Dog and bike collide. Aaron Edge doesn’t know if the dog is OK; he is definitely not OK. It was a bad bike crash.

(Photo by nurse at Legacy Emanuel Hospital.)

Aaron doesn’t remember much, but a dog, off leash, ran across Skyline Boulevard from the parking lot of the Skyline Restaurant and right into Aaron’s path. The restaurant is at the intersection of Skyline and Cornell Road. He was heading downhill on Skyline, going north. It’s a very common route for cyclists. He’s done it dozens of times.

He said, “I’m told the dog wasn’t in the middle of the road, it was running towards me so there wasn’t a way for me to avoid it.” In his first email to me he told me, “I’m meant to suffer, so it seems, not to actually die… one fractured vertebra (C-7), a broken scapula, two cracked ribs, two broken fingers and a gnarly, memory-reducing concussion. Life is not controllable. I’m at my home, healing, counting blessings, ignoring bad luck, regrouping, recovering.”

The accident happened on Feb 21st I first met Aaron at Western Bikeworks where he works part-time (you might recall when BikePortland featured his custom bikes back in 2015). One day I noticed a display of his photographs. As a photographer, I was curious, so we got to talking and he decided to subscribe to my Daily Sightings email (which included photos and a poem). Periodically he sent me photographs.

He knows his stuff when it comes to bikes and clothing and gear. He’s my go-to guy at Western when I need something for the bike. So when I got that first email it was a like a gut-punch. I replied, asking for details.

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He said it was hard for him to type because multiple sclerosis (MS) affects his hands and he’d broken two fingers in the crash. Instead, he sent an audio file with more details. “I totaled a bunch of bike parts,” including electronic shifters which are easier to use because of his MS. “Rear wheel is completely torn in half.” The steel frame is dented, but intact.

“I ride bikes a lot, and when it comes to crashes, it’s not a matter of if, but when, and you just have to be strong enough to get through them all.”

He was unconscious for 20 minutes. An ambulance brought him to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he stayed for three days.

Aaron doesn’t remember being in the ER, but he was told he kept asking the staff, “Just let me die.” He told me, “That does sound like something I might say. It’s been a particularly hard winter on me, and this whole experience made it a little more tough.”

Aaron doesn’t remember much about his stay at Emanuel. He knows he had visitors, but can’t recall their visits.

He went on to say, “I ride bikes a lot, and when it comes to crashes, it’s not a matter of if, but when, and you just have to be strong enough to get through them all.”

A day after he sent the audio file he emailed to say, “I’m very depressed about all of this, not reaching out to friends and avoiding visits at this time. I’m just not in a good place. I’m scared for my health and thinking about the bills and bike part replacement is daunting.”

Alarm bells sounded in my head and I replied: “Make me a promise, OK? Promise me you won’t kill yourself. And promise me that if you are seriously thinking of suicide that you contact me or someone who can help.”

He said, “I’ll be OK.” I wanted to hear, “I promise,” but I settled for the “OK.”

Aaron at the scene of the crash.

A few days later I met him at his small studio apartment in the Pearl District. He lives alone and does not have a partner, but he has friends and a group of band-mates (he’s a musician). He showed me his broken bike, as well as three other bikes, then I helped him into my car, and we headed up into the West Hills to take pictures at the crash site.

En route he told me “Everyone who rides a lot has come across dogs or kids in their path… experienced riders know not to over-compensate or brake too hard. I’ve been riding long enough that I feel confident in my skills… I know to lean back on my bike so I don’t slide out, and go as straight as I can.”

Aaron’s had two major accidents in the past; the last one was in 2015 when he broke his back while mountain biking. “Once you’ve had a couple of crashes, it gets a little easier only because you know what to expect.”

But it’s difficult nonetheless. In another audio file he said, “It’s difficult to be in a tough headspace, to be alone, to choose to be alone, to already have chronic pain with the MS, and now broken bones, and not have a clear outlook on what lies ahead. The nerve trouble I have, and the stress, is heightened by the accident. There’s no way to work around that. And to not be active is pretty difficult.”

He’s just made a series of follow-up appointments with physicians and is looking for a PT. Because he doesn’t have a car, he needs all his providers to be within a mile of his apartment. On the drive back he said he doesn’t blame the dog owners — or the dog. I asked if he wanted to seek legal counsel or if he plans to pursue legal action. No. His focus, he said, is on healing — both mental and physical. “I hope I come out of the depression about this, because it’s a pretty significant part of the accident.”

He has not tried to contact the dog owners, nor have they contacted him. Aaron said there was a witness — a woman in a van behind him — but he doesn’t have her contact information. Were there police on the scene? He doesn’t know. “If I was told, I forgot in the fog of pain and drugs while in the hospital.”

I asked about what help he needed. “I have all the help that I need. As soon as I feel ready, I can reach out to friends.” (I learned later that he was having his band-mates over to listen to a new record.)

He doesn’t know how long he’ll be out of work, and understandably, is worried about finances. Hospital bills have begun arriving. (I just learned his band-mates have set a Go-Fund-Me
account: Worst Luck / Best Friends (for Aaron Edge.) What does he want from doing this story? “I want people to know my story. My crash reminds us to be more cautious, to just be mindful of the kinds of accidents that can happen on bicycles.”

As his story ripples through the cycling community, we are reminded, yet again, of the appalling randomness of such crashes. If we haven’t already, we’ll add dogs to our library of threats.

My own take on this is that Aaron does indeed want to share his story. His crash has had a profound effect on him and I think there is something about telling the story that contributes to healing. Telling is connecting. And connecting brings light into the darkness.

— Martin Stabler, martinstabler@gmail.com

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Thieves steal seven bikes from Block Bikes in St. Johns

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:14

Block Bikes owner Ben Helgren is on the lookout for seven bikes after being hit by thieves on Sunday night (3/10).

In a post on his Facebook page, Helgren said the theft happened after the shop celebrated its sixth anniversary over the weekend. “As a small local business, our margins aren’t as big as some of the other shops and this certainly makes a dent right as the season is starting,” he wrote.

The thieves grabbed seven, yet-to-be assembled Marin bikes from the shop’s storage trailer. Here are the models and sizes: Marin Muirwoods size XXL in Red/Gold/Green fade; Fairfax SC1 sizes XL and L in Black; Marin Four Corners sizes M and XL in Black; Marin Stinson ST7 size Med in Light Blue/tan.

Keep in mind the bikes hadn’t been built up yet, so it’s hard to know exactly how they’ll look when built — and it’s possible they might be resold as-is or for parts.

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Helgren has filed a police report and has sent video footage of the theft to the police. All seven bikes have also been listed (with serial numbers) on BikeIndex.org.

Please keep an eye out for these bikes. If you see one or know where they are, please contact the shop at (503) 819-6839 or bikeshop@blockbikespdx.com. You can also call PPB non-emergency at (503) 823-333 with tips or 911 if you see suspects in possession of the bikes.

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

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Protestors will stage “die-in” at ODOT headquarters today

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 10:40

Scene from a die-in event in 2015.
(Photo: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

Less than 24 hours after hearing dozens of people share concerns about the Oregon Department of Transportation’s priorities and poor safety record, their Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer might get yet another reminder when he leaves work this afternoon.

Volunteers with Bike Loud PDX plan to stage a “die-in” and vigil for traffic victims starting at 4:30 pm today in front of the agency’s headquarters on 123 Northwest Flanders Street (event listing here). The event aims to draw attention to deaths on ODOT-controlled roads by drawing chalk-outlined bodies on the ground.

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Deaths on Oregon roads were up 9.4 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year. 467 people died last year and so far this year that number is up by 8 percent. “This ongoing tragedy too often flies under the radar,” reads a statement about the event. “The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) needs to make immediate policy changes to halt this ongoing epidemic.”

After giving brief presentations, people will “die” by laying on the ground while someone reads the names of recent victims. There will be 10 minutes of silence to recognize them and then someone will read a list of safety demands. Those demands include: adopting a statewide Vision Zero policy, the transfer of Lombard, 82nd, Barbur, Powell, and other ODOT roads to City of Portland’s jurisdiction, the requirement of side-guards on trucks, more traffic law enforcement, and more spending on “basic safety improvements.”

There will also be a large poster with the demands that will be signed by participants and delivered to ODOT’s Windsheimer.

This group held a similar event in 2015.

After the event there will be a group ride to the Lombard Multimodal Safety Project Open House. Check the Facebook event page to get involved and hear about the latest updates.

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

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ODOT’s I-5 widening project roundly rejected at first public hearing

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 09:59

ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer and City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly listened to two hours of testimony last night.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

At a public hearing held last night in the Oregon Convention Center, a wide array of Portlanders voiced detailed and passionate opposition to the I-5 Rose Quarter project.

“I don’t necessarily think fixing this poorly designed interchange on I-5 is a terrible idea. We’re not adding capacity at either end of it. We’re trying to clear up a bottleneck right?
— Chloe Eudaly, Commissioner of Transportation

From middle school students to veterans of freeway fights nearly five decades ago, their testimony exposed the myriad significant faults in this project.

People voiced concerns about the health of their children (and future children), the urgent need for investment to stem the carnage on ODOT’s deadly urban highways, the poor design of the freeway lids, the history of institutionalized racism in the original construction of I-5, fears of climate change, the lack of tolling as an option, the inadequacy of proposed bicycling infrastructure, an increase in toxic emissions mere yards away from Harriet Tubman Middle School, induced demand, ODOT’s willful obfuscation and dishonest marketing of the project, and more.

Outside of invited testimony, there were only a couple of people — out of 55 total speakers — who expressed support for the project. There was a large contingent of union reps and workers who think the project will alleviate congestion and provide good-paying jobs. However, several union workers expressed a desire to work with those opposed to the current iteration of the project in hopes of making it better (they really just need something big to build, who says it has to be a wider freeway?).

Aaron Brown with No More Freeways PDX was outside where he passed out materials and encouraged people to testify.

ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer and City of Portland Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly sat in the front of the room as panel after panel of concerned people tore into the project from a myriad of angles.

It was nothing short of a complete evisceration of ODOT’s talking points — at an event that was never on ODOT’s schedule and only happened after Commissioner Eudaly (under pressure from her constituents) requested it.

Many people mentioned how ODOT has failed to include key datasets in the Environmental Assessment (EA) that are needed to understand ODOT’s claims and assumptions about traffic volumes and emissions. After listening to two hours of testimony, Commissioner Eudaly (with ODOT’s Windsheimer sitting right next to her) told the crowd, “You have a right to have that data,” and “If it can’t be released in a timely fashion, I will ask for an extension to the comment period.” Windsheimer responded by saying the data would be made available “in the next day or two.”

With just 19 days left in the comment period, every day matters.

Asking the public to weigh in on such an important project with incomplete information is a “travesty, and it’s very disrespectful to our community,” Portlander Sarah Iannarone said in her testimony.

Iannarone also lamented how it seems we, as Portlanders, have “Lost our way” when it comes to leadership on transportation. Then, like many other people throughout the night, she appealed directly to Commissioner Eudaly. “I know that you have courage. I know you have vision. We will have your back if you stand with us on this.” “And to ODOT,” Iannarone concluded, “It’s just not going to happen. We’ll lie down on that highway before you ever build this.”

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In a lighter moment, St. Johns resident Paul Rippey stood up with his guitar and sang his clever “Induced Demand” tune while many people in the crowd joined him in the chorus: “And the thing we need to understand is, induced demand,” they sang. (We profiled Rippey and shared the lyrics to his song back in May.)

“Black lives matter, black students matter, and black lungs matter.”
— Bryan Chu, teacher at Tubman Middle School

The legacy of past freeway fights in Portland was also a strong thread last night. I counted at least three people who testified and were around and/or a part of stopping the Mt. Hood Freeway and other highway mega-projects of the past. Grant Sawyer from southeast Portland was one of them. He mentioned that during the Mt. Hood Freeway fight, activists and political leaders were able to get highway funds earmarked for the freeway project transferred to other, non-highway uses (like MAX light rail).

“Have you seen the icebergs? They’re melting. They’re melting quickly,” Sawyer said, as his voice rose in volume. “We don’t have time to screw around! To invest any money that enhances fossil fuel use is absolutely insane! Excuse my anger. But I’m pissed!”

His comments about funding prompted a response from Commissioner Eudaly, who said, “This isn’t a PBOT project, this is an ODOT project. This money is from the Highway Trust Fund. As much as I’d like to spend half a billion dollars elsewhere. It’s not my money, and it can only be spent on highways. We can’t take this money and spend it on Vision Zero city streets. It’s ODOT’s money to spend on ODOT’s highways.”

To which Sawyer replied, “That’s what the feds told us in 1975! But we did it!”

Its clear those who oppose this project see Eudaly as a potential ally who might be willing to join fellow Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as the second City Council vote against the project. Eudaly has walked a fine line thus far, expressing support for the idea of relieving Rose Quarter congestion and a willingness to partner with ODOT to do it, while also sending signals that she remains uncomfortable with the current plans.

Many testifiers said ODOT should spend this money on deadly streets like 82nd instead of on I-5 where there is no record of deadly or serious injury crashes. During his comments, RJ Sheperd asked everyone to take a moment of silence for Juanita Francisco, the high school student who was hit and nearly killed on February 24th while trying to cross NE 82nd Avenue.

That moment stuck with Eudaly. In her closing remarks she thanked Sheperd for recognizing Francisco and then shared a personal story. “I’m someone who knows what it’s like to lose someone in a traffic crash,” she said. “To live with the knowledge that not only my father, but the two people he killed when he lost control of his vehicle, likely wouldn’t have died if that road had not been so poorly engineered. That is something I feel every time I hear about a serious injury or death on our streets.”

The urgency of the ever-present danger on ODOT-owned arterials was on the mind of northeast Portland resident Clint Culpepper. “If ODOT was truly concerned about safety, they’d spend this money on projects that would save lives tomorrow.”

Children will bear the brunt of decisions made today and many people stood up last night to defend their futures — including a few of the students themselves.

One young student read the definitions of environmental and social justice and then said, “I can see the freeway outside my building. I can also see the thick grey exhaust and that’s scary to think my friends and I are breathing that when we’re running around… If ODOT were to expand the freeway, that would be much worse.”

Bryan Chu teaches eighth graders at Tubman Middle School. He did not mince words in expressing deep concerns about new freeway lanes being built even closer to his classroom.
“PPS [Portland Public Schools] and the Oregon Department of Transportation seem to be highly efficient at perpetuating white supremacy, environmental racism, and placing profit over people and planet while claiming to have our best interests at heart,” Chu said. “But we know better.” Chu added that his students know they’re being lied to when they’re told the air is safe to breathe but see the $10 million HVAC filtration system that sits atop the school’s roof. “They understand we are a frontline community and we are always the ones made to pay the price for Portland’s progress,” he added. He then put a fine point on how he feels racism intersects with this project. “Black lives matter, black students matter, and black lungs matter.”

In her closing remarks, Commissioner Eudaly was measured in her tone. “I feel your desperation about climate change and about air pollution,” she said, before telling the crowd she has always tried to avoid living next to freeways, but, “It’s really hard to escape them.”

The commissioner then said she’d, “Throw Rian [Windsheimer of ODOT] a bone,” and laid out her most detailed comments on the project yet:

“I don’t necessarily think fixing this poorly designed interchange on I-5 is a terrible idea. We’re not adding capacity at either end of it. We’re trying to clear up a bottleneck right? I don’t think we can’t devote any resources to improvements like that. But I do believe we have to make it harder and harder for people to rely on their single-occupancy vehicles while increasing bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian infrastructure, and greatly improving our public transit system. That’s not to say I’m absolutely gung-ho about this. I’m just saying I don’t see it the same way that everyone sees it in this room.”

Then, after reiterating her belief that project funds can’t be switched to different projects, she ended with, “I’m not going to walk away from this conversation. And I hope none of you walk away. I’m convinced we can come up w something better that will better serve our whole community.”

——

Last night was amazing. There were many compelling and substantive comments made from a wide range of people. I recorded all of it (except for a minute or two) and will use them in future stories as needed. You can read more from the hearing in my live twitter thread here.

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

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Luscher Farm trail plan would create off-road riding opportunities in Lake Oswego

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 12:10

The 26-acre Brock property in Lake Oswego’s Luscher Farm Area, a picture perfect site for close-to-home trail riding.
(Photo: Chris Rotvik)

Story by former Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik.

It’s 2020. Tucked away in a semi-wooded corner of the 148-acre Luscher Area in Lake Oswego is Farr Bike Park (just 10 miles south of Portland), with trails designed by local builder Chris Bernhardt. Riders, many of whom pedaled in on BMX bikes and dirt jumpers, drop in to one of four lines — beginner to black diamond — and punctuate each run with the fist-bumps and bonding that flow like trails in this segment of off-road cycling.

Luscher Farm Trail Plan Community Forum

March 21st, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at City of Lake Oswego Maintenance Center (17601 Pilkington Rd)

  • Trail plan website
  • Take the trail plan survey
  • Each line makes use of the seven acre site’s natural slope, so pedaling becomes secondary to extracting the maximum fun (and skill progression) from the in-built technical features. These features run the gamut from widely-spaced, gentle rollers and berms with optional bridge and log rides on the green line, to the black line’s five-foot jumps, wall rides, aggressive drops, and rock pitches among frequent, large rollers, tables, and berms.

    Soft-surface trails built with cycling in mind connect the bike park into Luscher’s larger multi-user network. At about two linear miles initially, that network is a rough match in distance to Gateway Green in east Portland, but rambles about on more than three times Gateway Green’s acreage. Riders of all ages — including many training for Oregon’s National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)-affiliated race series for middle and high school students — hot lap their trail bikes on a circuit within the site’s easternmost Brock property, the most engaging in terms of terrain and user separation. Closer in to the amenities, families bike-stroll the trails alongside runners, walkers, and dogs.

    It’s all part of an inspired vision. Rewinding back to now, Ivan Anderholm, Lake Oswego’s director of parks and recreation, sees the Luscher Area trails as the first of a set of bike-friendly segments throughout the city, all easily connected via short jaunts on pavement into a sizable circuit, drawing out residents and drawing in employers.

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    Preliminary Farr Bike Park and Luscher Trails Concept, City of Lake Oswego.

    Everyone gains from this investment, particularly our kids. Captivated by — and often captives of — their digital devices, kids are becoming less and less interested in the outdoors. According to one study by Seattle Children’s Research Institute (and there are many more stating similar results), youth aged 10 to 16 spend just 13 minutes a day in outdoor activities. This lack of contact with the outdoors hurts their physical and mental health, sense of well-being, academic performance, and respect for the environment.

    We need to give them more urban recreation opportunities. Despite the rarity of suitable trails close to home, mountain biking and BMX have grown significantly in terms of participation nationwide — about 25 percent since 2007. Over the same period, traditional ball sports have declined as much as 38 percent. Now, mountain biking and BMX, taken together, matches soccer in popularity, ranks above softball and football, and lags only slightly behind basketball and baseball.

    Unfortunately, reminiscent of Portland’s tempestuous relationship with off-road cycling, there’s a “not in my farmyard” reaction taking place among a few folks who use the historic core of the parcel — a mid-century dairy occupying 15 percent of Luscher’s total acreage — for community farming. This historic core is untouched by the bike park and trail plans, and those plans are consistent with the Luscher Area Master Plan.

    Places like Luscher Farm are indeed precious, and are made even more so as they become more attractive to our children. Let’s share the harvest, instead of spoiling it.

    Come join me for the final plan reveal and add your voice (non-residents are welcome) on March 21st at 6:00. Details are on the City of Lake Oswego website; if nothing else, please take the online survey.

    — Chris Rotvik

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Family Biking: First impressions of the Surly Big Easy electric cargo bike

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:40

Pretty sure this is the first time I’ve smiled at the thought of carrying two kids and an extra bike up a hill.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

I’m borrowing a Surly Big Easy, the brand new e-assist version of my beloved Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike. It’s been with me for a week now and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. I’ll keep it another week or two before giving it back to Surly and writing a full review.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Before my full review, I’d like to offer some quick first impressions. Even more importantly, do you have any Portland-specific tests I should make a point of running? I’m thinking of things like:

➤ Biking up to the Zoo carrying a kid?
➤ Time 100 laps around Ladd Circle in Turbo mode?
➤ Carry 200 doughnuts from VooDoo to VooDoo 2 and see if they’re still warm upon arrival?

What are your ideas?

E-assist
The Big Easy intro page and video are full of information on the bike so you can see it’s much more than just an off-white (or “tan cargo shorts”) version of my pink bike with a motor added. However, that motor — a Bosch Performance CX — with a PowerPack 500 battery is certainly one of the biggest differences. It’s amazingly powerful and I love that it kicks in immediately, not at half-a-mile-per-hour as do some older e-assists. I’ve been easing into using it and kept it on “Eco” mode (the lowest) the first couple days, which made the big, heavy bike feel like a regular bike. I thought this was sufficient for pedaling alongside my kids, but they pointed out I’ve always been the slowest of our trio (I had no idea!) and even Eco mode doesn’t make me fast enough. So now I’m in “Tour” mode, which feels like it’s pulling me along! Note: this is all pedal-assist, so I’m still pedaling and working. Beyond Tour mode is a fascinating mode called “eMTB” which I will play with at Powell Butte soon. And finally “Turbo” mode which allows me to propel the bike with two kids and a dog up big hills without stopping and while maintaining a calm conversation.

Kid accessories
As fun as the e-assist is, it’s not the most exciting part of this bike. The new Kid Corral (not in stores yet, but will be soon) consists of two comfy Deck Pads, a front Deck Bar for the front passenger, and sturdy back and side rails that can be attached in different positions. At 11 and nine years old it’s a little hard to accommodate both my kids in the Kid Corral, so this is something we’ll give extra attention to in the week ahead. I want to treat this bike like a real car-replacement for our family and go places far and hilly that we’d otherwise use the bus for, but I’m going to have to find a way to make my nine-year old feel more comfortable in the Kid Corral. And if you’re curious, the Kid Corral will fit all the Surly cargo bike decks: Big Easy, Big Dummy, and Big Fat Dummy.

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My add-ons
The bike came with stock accessories. The tires, 26” x 2.5” ExtraTerrestrials, are the widest I’ve ever had and I really like them! They feel grippy yet fast, even if I forget to put the assist on. I quickly added my Big Dummy’s Brooks B68s saddle, a basket so Pixie can ride along, two drink cages, two bells, and my after-market two-bike tow hitch. Surly makes a Big Dummy/Big Easy hitch for Surly trailers and while I don’t like pulling a trailer of stuff with my Big Dummy as I feel it’s long and heavy enough as it is, I can picture turning a Big Easy into a truck replacement by hauling around a Surly Bill Trailer.

Just for fun I hauled my Big Dummy around with the Big Easy:

And of course then I hauled the Big Easy around with the Big Dummy…which wasn’t as easy. I have a lot of stuff added to my Big Dummy (dynamo hub, fenders, basket, centerstand, etc etc) so it weighs more than the Big Easy, but the Big Easy carries its weight so differently that it’s taking some getting used to for me to lift it up curbs and tow it by bike.

Stay tuned for my full review and a photo gallery (from Jonathan!) of this bike.

Have you got a fun e-cargo bike test for me to run? Or do you have an e-bike and have any tips for me?

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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Breadwinner Cycles has purchased Sugar Wheel Works

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 09:45

Ira Ryan (left), Jude Gerace, and Tony Pereira (note their shirts).
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

On the 10th anniversary of her Sugar Wheel Works company, Portlander Jude Gerace has decided to move on. But the good news for Portland’s bike industry is that Sugar has been bought by Breadwinner Cycles.

Later today, Breadwinner owners Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan will announce their plans to welcome Sugar’s existing employees, tools, and inventory into their space on 2323 North Williams Avenue. Jude will stay on as an advisor for three months to help with the transition.

“We were both very surprised. But as soon as we walked away, we were like, ‘yeah, we gotta’ do this!'”
— Tony Pereira, Breadwinner Cycles

In a recent interview with Tony, Ira, and Jude at Breadwinner’s shop, Jude said she’s been thinking of leaving the bike industry for several years in order to focus on her passion of helping small businesses grow. It’s something she knows a lot about. Sugar (which was Epic Wheel Works before industry giant Specialized threatened to sue over the name), began in a tiny space in southeast Portland. In the past decade, Jude has built the company into a nationally-recognized business that employs three people.

Judes sees selling her business to Breadwinner as a natural fit.

“I wanted my exit to have a triple-win. I really wanted my staff and customers to be taken care of, and I also wanted my business to feather into a business that had the same values and that could benefit from Sugar’s presence. The first people I thought of was Tony and Ira,” she shared. “I feel like when you start a business like Sugar you have a responsibility to your customers and community and staff and I take that very seriously.”

Tony and Ira launched Breadwinner in 2013, but each of them began working with Jude prior to that under their previous labels of Pereira Cycles and Ira Ryan Cycles.

When Jude asked them out to dinner late last year, they had no idea she would pop this question. “We were both very surprised,” Tony recalled. “But as soon as we walked away from Jude, we were like, ‘yeah, we gotta’ do this!'”.

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Breadwinner already points a lot of their customers to Sugar for wheelsets, and vice versa. Now all the wheelbuilding expertise and offerings will be in-house at Breadwinner. They plan to remodel their shop and Breadwinner Cafe space to include a retail storefront. The addition will allow Breadwinner to offer more services and it will reduce Sugar’s overhead expenses.

Breadwinner’s shop and cafe on N Williams Ave.

One of the factors that made this deal possible is that Sugar is in a strong financial position. “We’re taking on another successful business,” Tony explained. “It’ll be an instant revenue stream for us.” As for Breadwinner, the company sells about 100, high-end, complete bikes per year and has found a strong niche.

The move will also allow Breadwinner to flesh out its vision of being a hub of cycling industry activity. Next door to Breadwinner is Endurance PDX a bike-centric physical therapy and fitting specialist. They also sublet to Cascadia Suspension Works. And just across North Page Street is the shop of Ahearne Cycles, Igleheart Custom Frames and Forks, and Metroplis Cycles.

“Bringing in Sugar will be another opportunity to create more of a hive here,” Tony said.

This move illustrates not just how much these entrepreneurs have grown over the years, but how much Portland has changed along with them.

“We’re leading with our hearts. And I think that for us, standing here, working together and being stronger together… that’s pretty cool.”
— Jude Gerace, Sugar Wheel Works

“Our luck was being in Portland and starting our businesses when we did,” said Tony. “Portland has this vibrant bike thing going on, and I know we are all very proud of our place in that; but right now, you couldn’t start that over again. Think back 10 years ago when there was this bike-making boom. There were about 40 framebuilders in town and now there are just a handful of us.” Tony attributes some of that to a shift in the market, but the change is largely due to the steep rise in the cost of housing and shop space. When Jude started her business she paid just $185 per month for her space.

“Our businesses growing up is a good sign. We’ve survived, and we continue to grow, along with the city,” Tony said.

For Jude, she’s moving on the same way she moved in. By putting values in front of profits.

“We’re leading with our hearts. And I think that for us, standing here, working together and being stronger together… that’s pretty cool. And I think that’s the Portland thing. We’re willing to look outside of ourselves and our own individual success, and to see how we can make something happen.”

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

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