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Updated: 4 hours 6 min ago

What does Patrick Cashman have against the World Naked Bike Ride?

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 09:37

A man named Patrick Cashman has a bone to pick with Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride, the 9,000-rider strong annual event which will embark from Laurelhurst Park on June 29th.

Cashman has been on a personal crusade since late last year to hold ride organizers accountable to the letter of the law and to force the City of Portland to reveal the ride’s route.

“This information was developed in coordination with a small group of private citizens who are allowed to know this information while other private citizens are denied it.”
— Patrick Cashman

Back in November, Cashman penned an op-ed in The Oregonian urging others to join his demands to know the route of the popular ride. Cashman has also posted his concerns on Nextdoor. Between January and April of this year, he filed six separate public records requests with the City of Portland.

So far, he’s been denied each time.

The City has acknowledged that they’ve worked with Naked Bike Ride organizers, but they say a desire for public safety makes details of the route exempt from public records laws.

In the past five years the ride has averaged about 9,000 riders. It’s a massive undertaking that has long outgrown its spontaneous, unsanctioned beginnings (the first time BikePortland covered the ride in 2005 there were only 170 riders). For years now, ride organizers have worked in partnership with the City of Portland (including the Portland Police Bureau) to make sure the ride is as smooth and safe as possible. That collaboration has led to what Cashman feels is unfair treatment.

Cashman has a history of this type of activism. While living in Vermont in February 2018 he took issue with a public high school that flew a Black Lives Matter flag. Now in Portland, Cashman has accused our city government of playing favorites. In a letter (PDF) dated April 26th, 2019, in response to the City of Portland’s denials to his public records requests, Cashman wrote, “I contend that as this information was developed in coordination with a small group of private citizens who are allowed to know this information while other private citizens are denied it, the city is also engaged in selective disclosure.”

After a few people told me about Cashman, I contacted him to learn more about his concerns. Here’s our email exchange:

5/17/19

Hi Mr. Cashman,

I’ve heard about your inquiries to the DA’s office about the World Naked Bike Ride route.

I’ve covered the event for many years and I’m curious to know more about your feelings about it. Can you help me understand what your concern is? Are you simply curious about the route and don’t like that it’s kept a secret?

Thanks for your time.


Jonathan

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5/17/19

Mr. Maus,

Good afternoon.

I’m not a fan of the event (I think it’s rude to one’s neighbors) but that just my personal opinion and has no bearing on the rights of participants to do it. My major concern is with how the city handles it. There are three problems:

1. It’s an equal protection problem. The city must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. For this event the city is choosing to waive their administrative rules and notification requirements for a moving event permit for this particular applicant and event. I don’t know their motivation to provide this special treatment, but such low level corruption to favor preferred groups or people over others degrades trust in our democratic institutions and further encourages such corruption.

2. It’s a public records problem. The state public records laws are very clear; public documents belong to the public, the default condition is they are to be released on request unless a specific exemption is claimed and justified. The city has not claimed any exemption. Instead they have employees brazenly coordinating how to evade public records requirements because, (back to point 1), for some reason this group is getting very special treatment. That not only degrades trust and violates public records law, but it sets a precedent and is a giant warning sign that the city does not take its obligation to its citizens seriously. Additionally, one has to wonder; if they are going through this much effort over this minor event, what else are they up to to keep actual consequential documents out of the public’s hands?

3. The event, based on what I read on the WNBR page, will also be a violation of the judgment against the City in Gathright v. City of Portland*. The WNBR page states they will have event security enforcing a “no photography” rule and removing anyone who makes people feel unsafe. As ordered by the judge in Gathright the organizers had to sign a statement of understanding to affirm they understand the only rules in public parks are those imposed by lawful ordinance, event organizers don’t get to make their own rules. And park rules fully support non-commercial photography by whoever wants to do it. [*Note: Cashman pasted the relevant portion of the judgment in his email; but I’ve left it out for brevity’s sake.]

Let me know if you have any further questions. Thanks for asking

Patrick

5/17/19

Thank you for the responses Patrick.

I’m in an interesting position because I’m a participant, colleague/friend of many of the organizers over the years, and a journalist who prefers to keep a healthy distance when reporting about these events. That’s why your perspective on the event and actions around the route being made public are interesting to me.

Not sure if anyone has explained this to you yet, but the route is kept secret out of respect for the organizers who have spent years forging a productive working relationship with the Portland Police Bureau in order to keep this ride welcoming and safe for as many people as possible. The ride itself is unique: It’s free and put on by grassroots volunteers, it’s massive (and a major traffic consideration, hence the relationship with the PPB), and of course many of the people are naked.

While I understand your points about the letter of the law, many things our city and citizens do are in a grey area. That is, people come together to figure out a way to do something that might not fit perfectly inside the law, but that allows people to do what they want to do and gives the Police a feeling that public safety is assured. Take speeding in cars as an example. Police have a policy of not ticketing people until they go about 9-11 mph over the posted speed limit. That’s just one example.

Organizers of the Naked Bike Ride do not want people to target the participants in any way. They want to limit the amount of people who show up just to catcall, leer, and take photographs of nude strangers. While you may have no interest in doing any of those things, many people do. And because of that it seems reasonable to keep the location and route secret and to discourage photography at the start venue.

We can agree to disagree about this of course. I’m just trying to give you more context for why this event is treated like it is. Now keep in mind, I’m not on the inside. I have never played a role in organizing the event. If you’re interested, I could introduce you to one of the organizers.

Thanks again for your time. Have a nice weekend.

— Jonathan

5/18/19

Jonathan,

We’re going to have to agree to disagree. For me it is a matter of priority and from my perspective open, equitable, and accountable government comes before most anything else. Have a great weekend.

Patrick.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Cheap gas, expensive life lessons, ‘woonerf’ life and more

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 10:02


Welcome to the week. Yes, I realize it’s Tuesday; but that doesn’t diminish our need to share the best stories from the past week. We cull the web and social medias so you don’t have you. Thanks to all the readers who flag stories for us.

Here’s what you need to know…

This week’s Roundup brought to you by Treo Bike Tours. Check out their all-inclusive bike vacations in eastern Oregon.

Bikes in flight: This is big: As of May 21st, American Airlines no longer charges a $150 oversized baggage fee for bicycles. Check Bicycling for an updated roundup of airline bike baggage fees.

Mending a bike and a human spirit: Street Roots’ executive director shared the story of her partly-stolen bike, the person who apologized for the deed, and the people who helped get it rolling again.

Encouraging fossil fuel use: Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist has floated the idea of cutting the gas tax from 34 to 18 cents as a way to offset increased energy costs that might result from the legislature’s “Clean Energy Jobs Bill”.

Quick demos work: Oh look, a bike lane project in a downtown area is non-controversial and will now be expanded because Seattle’s DOT approached with the tried-and-true ‘Better Block’ method.

Power to cite: Fascinated by this Washington D.C. bill that would allow people to issue parking tickets for some violations.

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State of the scooters: OPB delved into concerns from disability rights advocates about how PBOT is handling complaints about scooters and their users in pilot 2.0.

Right turn on red is evil: A San Francisco city councilperson has moved forward the possibility of banning right turns on red, citing the need to do something to move the needle on their march toward Vision Zero.

Law breakers: Latest episode of The War on Cars podcast takes on the heated topic of traffic laws and the behavior of bicycle riders (and includes a shout-out to our story on Idaho Stop).

Value of life lessons: Lance Armstrong says the lessons he’s learned going “from hero to zero” are so valuable he wouldn’t change a thing about the gargantuan doping scandal that now defines him.

Pack my bags: I want to visit New York City just to check out this exhibit about bicycling’s cultural impact currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York.

Video of the Week: Dream a little dream and learn what life is like on a Dutch “woonerf” street thanks to Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson who just returned from The Netherlands

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

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In front, in back, or at your side? Where should kids ride?

Tue, 05/28/2019 - 08:46

Other than getting confused by Fortnite references, I love riding side by side.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Front, back, side by side — these are all good ways to ride with kids! Different circumstances might call for different positioning during each ride, but I’m curious which configuration is your favorite and why. Non-family bikers, you can play, too, and share your preference(s) for riding with another adult.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Kids in the front
I think my kids got a good handle on traffic rules during their years as passengers on my bike thanks to my narration of our rides…even though it was just for the purpose of keeping them distracted from fighting with one another. But no matter the reason this made them smart road users right from the get go. Even so, when they first started riding their own bikes, I had them ride in front of me so I could keep an eye on them and shout reminders to stay out of the door zone — car doors can swing open four feet — and to check for cross traffic at intersections. Despite my very frequent reminders, they loved the independence of riding in front of me. We’ve always lived close to multi-use paths and having the kids in front of me for long stretches with no intersections to worry about is marvelous — especially if one kid wants to ride a lot faster than the other.

No shenanigans when the kids are in front.

At first I saw no reason to tinker with our working system, but as they got bigger and I started reading about bike trains I realized I should put myself in the conductor position. This was a harder adjustment for me than for them because I was so used to keeping an eye on them at all times.

Kids in the back

Leading our bike train to school, choo choo.

Once the kids became practiced solo riders and I got more comfortable being out with them on their own bikes, I started leading the way. The main thing I like about having the kids behind me is that I present a much bigger shape and people driving will be more likely to notice me than a small child. I also like being the one to declare an intersection safe to enter and putting myself into it first.

“As they got bigger and I started reading about bike trains I realized I should put myself in the conductor position.”

Of course there are the expected detriments to not knowing everything going on behind oneself. I didn’t realize until riding with a friend and hearing his giggles that my younger son had been practicing riding without hands on his handlebars. I’ve even seen parents leading capering kiddos (often riding no-handed but doing other silly stuff, too), but I never thought that’d be me! I guess this is the version of flexing that independence muscle for biking kids once they don’t get to ride in front anymore.

Even after we swapped from kids-in-the-front to kids-in-the-back they still rode in front of me quite a bit. This mostly took place on multi-use paths and neighborhood greenways, and they always waited for me to catch up and lead the way through intersections. We’d start our days with me leading the way for several blocks of bike lane before they zoomed ahead on the multi-use path by our house, and then ceded the lead back to me once we left the path.

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Now that the novelty of being on their own wheels has worn off (they’re 12 and nine) they stay behind me (doing know knows what) all the time. But they’re fine to ride off ahead and even completely alone if they want to.

Riding side by side with kids

“If I’m not quick enough with my announcement one of them will say, ‘Car back, single file!'”

It’s legal to ride two abreast so long as you don’t impede traffic. This is how we ride most the time these days. This is solely because they attend different schools so I commute with them one at a time and they’re stuck chatting with me rather than doing their who-knows-what behind me. I have my variety of routes and still opt for the fastest route when I’m alone, which usually means lots of unbuffered bike lanes on busy streets, but with the kids we stick to quiet streets which are conducive to riding side by side. Note: people ride side by side in bike lanes, but even though I have fairly good bike handling skills I find this feels cramped and uncomfortable so I consider bike lanes to be single-file routes.

On weekends, or if I bring one kid along on the other’s school commute, we revert to mom-in-front formation, though they tend to ride side by side with one another behind me. However, their bikes are so small with handlebars so narrow that they don’t take up much more room than my big bike and me.

We’re all conscientious about impeding traffic and shift to single file for any people driving cars approaching from behind, as well as for any approaching from the front on narrow roads. It’s been fun to learn that despite their incessant chatter about school, dogs, memes, and video games, they know the drill because if I’m not quick enough with my announcement one of them will say, “Car back, single file!”

On SE Clinton, the most bike-friendly street we take with its many “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, I don’t worry about rushing into a single file as people in cars approach since there’s room for them to pass around us. There’s room for passing on streets without the “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, but I don’t like getting honked or yelled at and expect that to happen when riding two abreast on any other street. Today, uncharacteristically, we stayed two abreast after the Clinton greeway wiggled south one block to Woodward (still greenway, but no full lane signage) and a man griped, “Single file!” at us as he passed with plenty of room.

So what about you? Front? Back? Two abreast? Three abreast (we did quite a bit of that today on wide quiet streets)? I’d love to hear which and why. Thanks for reading!

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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TriMet wants to build protected intersections at three locations in east Portland

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 11:12

Graphic of proposed design for SE Division and 162nd shown by TriMet this week.

Staff working on TriMet’s Division Transit Project dropped a bit of a bombshell at the end of an advisory committee meeting earlier this week: They plan to build protected intersections at SE 122nd, 148th, and 162nd.

Protected intersections are a big deal. They are considered the safest way to handle bicycle traffic at what’s typically considered the weakest link in a safe facility. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 43% of urban cycling fatalities occur at intersections.

“This design can reduce the likelihood of high-speed vehicle turns, improve sight lines, and dramatically reduce the distance and time during which people on bikes are exposed to conflicts.”
— National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) on protected intersections

TriMet has spent five years planning the $175 million Division Transit Project and is now just six months away from the start of construction. The main goal is to speed up and boost capacity of buses to help more people reap the benefits of reliable, affordable, carfree transportation. TriMet says the 15 miles of “enhanced service” between downtown Portland and Gresham will speed up travel times an average of 15-20%.

We’ve recently focused on how bicycle users would interact with the new station designs; but we hadn’t heard anything about protected intersections until Tuesday night.

The plans were shared during a presentation (PDF) to the joint meeting of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees. TriMet says the designs are still in development and they’re working with PBOT to further vet them and make changes if necessary.

Protected intersections were first fleshed out by Portland planner Nick Falbo (who now works for PBOT) in 2014. Since then, over a dozen U.S. have installed them; but Portland hasn’t. We hoped to see one on the West Burnside project (currently under construction), but because of the off-set nature of the intersection and other compromises made during the design process, it’s not a perfect example.

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(Before-and-after of a protected intersection in San Jose, CA. GIF made from images taken from NACTO website).

In their just-released design guide, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) writes that protected intersections are, “Physically separated crossings that provide a high degree of comfort and safety for people of all ages and abilities. This design can reduce the likelihood of high-speed vehicle turns, improve sight lines, and dramatically reduce the distance and time during which people on bikes are exposed to conflicts.”

TriMet Project Manager Jesse Stemmler told us they intend to use the treatment on Division because the typical way to handle left turns for bicycle riders — a “two-stage turn” with green queue boxes — won’t work given the traffic volumes and other operational issues at these intersections. “We instead needed to create a protected space that would still allow for right turns and bus through movement, while allowing for refuge space for people bicycling and walking, with signal phasing protection from right turning traffic (no right turn on red) for both.”

Here’s more from TriMet on their rationale for the design:

The protected intersection design would narrow roadway crossing distances and exposure time for people walking, and provide physical protection between the bike lane and the intersection. It would provide space for left-turning bicycles to queue outside of the motor vehicle travel lanes while making a two-stage turn. This will allow the signal to be operated with concurrent left and right turn phasing for motor vehicles, which will reduce delay for buses on Division by keeping them in the travel lane and allowing for queue jumps.

This would be a huge upgrade to these intersections. Let’s hope (and do what we can to make sure) they don’t get value-engineered or compromised out of the project.

Construction of the Division Transit Project is expected to start in November with service to begin in 2022. Learn more in our archives or at TriMet.org/Division

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

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Route advisory: River View Cemetery closed to bicycle riders this weekend

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 08:04

Stay out please.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In case you forgot (we mentioned it back in March), the annual Memorial Day closure of River View Cemetery starts tomorrow (5/25) and runs through Monday (5/27).

This closure is done to maintain calm and order on the streets through the cemetery on their busiest weekend of the year.

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Please respect this closure. The cemetery is a private enterprise that graciously allows bicycle riders through its property because the optional routes are dangerous and highly stressful. Let’s not abuse this privilege and/or give the River View board of directors any reason to change their current policy.

Spread the word to friends and feel free to use the roads again starting on Tuesday (5/28). Thanks.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Otto’s Ski and MTB, Velotech, RecumbentPDX, Bike Clark County

Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:29

Looking for a new place to spread you cycling wings? We’ve had four new job opportunities posted this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Mountain Bike Mechanic – Otto’s Ski and Mountain Bike

–> E-Commerce Category Manager – Velotech

–> Full-time Mechanic Position – RecumbentPDX

–> Bike 101 Summer Camp Counselor – Bike Clark County

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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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He was worried about bike share’s impact on his business. Now he profits from it

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:42

Evan Ross, owner of Cycle Portland bike shop, tours, and rentals on SW 2nd Avenue.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Evan Ross is a serial cycling entrepreneur who understands the local bike scene and how to create a viable business around it. That intuition served him well when the idea of cheap bike rentals available in seconds from a mobile app was first pondered in Portland.

“I started my business to get more people riding bikes. Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”
— Evan Ross, Cycle Portland

Ross founded his bike shop and tour business in 2008. That’s right around the time the City of Portland’s efforts to start a bike share program were heating up. Lucky for Ross he had a bit of time before any bike share system would hit the ground. Portland infamously stalled on the program several times before finally launching Biketown in 2016.

From the get-go, Ross knew it would impact his business. “I was scared; but I saw it coming and I had time to adapt my fleet,” he said during a chat with him outside his retail showroom on SW 2nd Avenue in Old Town yesterday. I’ve known Ross for years and can recall being a bit surprised when he didn’t share my enthusiasm for bike share. A dedicated bike advocate and former member of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Ross wasn’t as excited about the idea as other advocates I knew.

“I knew my rental numbers would go down. That was always the threat with Biketown,” he shared.

And Ross was right. His revenue did go down. But he didn’t let that stop him from turning it into a positive.

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(Photo: BiketownTours.com)

Earlier this week, Ross announced an official partnership with the City of Portland to lead “Biketown Tours”. “Using public bikeshare you’ll cruise the waterfront bike path, discover Portland’s past and present, and ease into city riding with our experienced guides in America’s bike capital,” reads the copy on his new BiketownTours.com website.

For Ross, the third time was indeed the charm. The tours come after two previous attempts to work with Biketown fizzled out. He first hoped to get the maintenance contract for the fleet, then he tried to position his shop as the official helmet and map supplier for Biketown users. Neither of those came to fruition, but Ross maintained a working relationship with bike share program staff. And he remained optimistic.

I asked Ross how he went from seeing Biketown as a threat, to embracing it as a partner. “I realized bike share companies are really good at supplying bikes, but not in curating routes and building a connection to the local community,” he said. “Then I had this epiphany when I realized I spend a lot of time maintaining my fleet, and if I can outsource the maintenance of the bikes, but still provide the tour, it would be a bit advantage to me. I’d save wear-and-tear on my bikes — and not have to store, fix, or buy them in the first place.”

And there were also philosophical reasons for the partnership. “I started my business to get more people riding bikes,” Ross said. “Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”

Biketown (which is operated by Motivate, Inc., a Lyft company) loves the tours because Cycle Portland’s guide staff acts as a concierge to their system. The guides helps riders with rental checkout (including how to push the buttons on the keypad so they respond), offer tips and advice on how to stay comfortable on the bike (saddle adjustment is key), and they educate new riders about safety and rules of the road.

The $20 tours last about an hour and depart from the plaza in front of Voodoo Donuts on SW 3rd Avenue and Burnside. Riders get a $5 discount on their Biketown rental when they sign up. Learn more at BiketownTours.com.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Sandy Ridge, local architecture, burgers in Sellwood, and more

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:27

Join the Intro to Sandy Ridge ride and you’ll be flowing down the trails like this in no time.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Weekend Event Guide is made possible by support from readers like you. Please subscribe today.

I feel like things are eerily quiet on the calendar this weekend. There are things to do, but my senses tell me this is the calm before the storm of Pedalpalooza which starts next Saturday (June 1st). But as I like to say, “Tis better to take one in hand then two in the bush,” (pretty sure that’s an old hunting maxim) so you should get out there now because you never know what will happen by next weekend.

Friday, May 24th

ABC Latinx Mechanix Night – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Anando en Bicicletas y Caminando (NE)
Únase a nosotros para nuestras noches de mecánico voluntario para hispanohablantes. More info here.

Rat Patrol Ride – 8:00 pm at Irving Park (NE)
These warm nights are best spent on bikes with the wind in your hair and good people in your view. Join this “inclusive bunch of misfits” that call themselves a bike club and be ready to have fun. Note: 8pm is meetup time, ride rolls out at 9. More info here.

Saturday, May 25th

Biking About Architecture, NoPo Edition – 11:00 am at Arrow Coffeehouse (NE)
Roll around with a fun group and learn about interesting and quirky neighborhood architecture. More info here.

Sandy Ridge Intro Tour – 1:30 pm at Sandy Ridge MTB Trail System
A great opportunity to get your feet dirty on these popular “local” trails. NW Trail Alliance will lead the way toward the easiest trails and show you how to gain confidence to master them (and move onto more difficult ones!). More info here.

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Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
Join the fastest, largest local training ride Portland has to offer. Route runs out to Sauvie Island via Highway 30 and returns via NW Newberry and Skyline. Get it! More info here.

Bike and Burger on the Eastside – 10:00 am at Gresham City Park (E)
Ride about 32 miles from Gresham to Sellwood via the Eastbank Esplanade for a stop at Killer Burger. Return on the Springwater. Ride is led by Portland Bicycling Club. More info here.

Kidical Mass PDX – 1:30 pm at Gabriel Park – (SW)
Join other families and kids for a group ride from Gabriel Park to Alpenrose Velodrome. Ample time for play and treat stops along the way. 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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Editorial: The tragedy of North Greeley Avenue

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:33

The Greeley Freeway. Yesterday’s collision occurred near the rear of that white truck on the left.
(Note: Red line is where concrete jersey-barrier protected lane is slated to be built.)
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday morning around 9:00 am two people died in a collision on North Greeley Avenue. Police say one of the victims, the driver of a sedan, crossed the centerline. That person’s car was hit by another driver and both people in the sedan died as a result of the impact.

While no bicycle user was involved in this crash, I can’t stop thinking about what happened (see aftermath below).

PBOT says the project (initially promised to be completed two years ago) will also, “increase the buffer between opposing traffic lanes.”

Most of you know the conditions on Greeley and its dubious history as a dangerous road. People drive 50-plus miles per hour on it part because of its industrial location, wide and straight lanes, and direct connection to an Interstate 5 on-ramp. It has been a major concern of bicycle riders for years. Despite it’s stressful conditions, it provides a seductively direct and fast connection to downtown. The downside (and it’s a big one), is that it requires bicycle users to use relatively narrow, unprotected bike lanes that merge across a death-defying freeway ramp. There has been at least one very serious injury collision and a lawsuit that accused the City of Portland of negligence.

And, as we’ve seen with other fatal traffic crashes this year, PBOT has a project planned at this location that would make the street safer.

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Portland Police confirm at least 2 fatalities in a car crash on N Greeley Ave just south of Going St.

Greeley is closed as the investigation is ongoing #LiveOnK2 #PDXTraffic pic.twitter.com/5Dldd9LayV

— Evan Bell (@evanbellKATU) May 22, 2019

PBOT had initially planned to have this section of Greeley repaved and reconfigured by summer of 2017. The $1.9 million project will include a concrete jersey barrier to on the east side to protect vulnerable users from drivers. On their website, PBOT says the project will also, “increase the buffer between opposing traffic lanes.”

Unfortunately, this vitally important project has been delayed more than once. PBOT said a contracting glitch set it back a year and it would be completed in summer 2018. Then they said they ran out of time to get a quality bid and it was pushed back again. Their latest promise is that it will be done sometime this summer.

Too many people think Vision Zero is all about biking and walking. It isn’t. It’s just that biking and walking advocates are the only ones who show up and speak up. As a driver, I never have to plead and beg for respect and safe conditions. I never have to sit on volunteer committees to make sure my interests are spoken for. The system takes care of drivers by default. It’s just one more manifestation of driving privilege.

The hard truth is that the things many people want when they’re driving (speed and access to every road at all times without impediments) are directly opposed to their own safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road with them.

Two people died on Greeley yesterday. It’s a tragedy we all feel. An urgency to gain control of our streets — and take steps required to mitigate dangerous driving and the unsafe designs that encourage it — is something we must all feel too.

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

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Ask BikePortland: What’s the best way to carry a dog on my bike?

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 08:19

There are many ways to carry dogs. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

With summer in the air and June just a few days away, it’s officially biking-with-your-dog season in Portland.

Mac and Rainbow.

But it’s not always as easy as plopping pup in a pannier and pedaling away. Some dogs need to be coaxed, others just need the right place to sit so they feel comfortable.

I recently met Mac Bishop, founder of Wool & Prince, a southeast Portland-based company that sells merino wool apparel (which is great for biking!). Mac wants to ride; but he has to look after his three-year-old Bernese mountain dog, Rainbow (who has her own Instagram account). “I bring Rainbow to work and haven’t found a good way to bike with her, so unfortunately I drive everyday,” he said. “I would bike if I could find a way to tow her.”

Complicating matters further is the fact that Rainbow weighs 90 pounds. Given her size, a basket or rack would be too small. Some sort of trailer might be the best option. A cargo bike with a big front box might work (see photos below). There’s also the option of setting up a leash and having the dog run alongside; but I’d consider that an advanced skill that isn’t for everyone.

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Another complication is that so far Rainbow has been skittish about whole idea. “I tried an old Burley trailer, but she wouldn’t get close to it, and forcing her to do anything is a bit of a nightmare,” Mac said.

Let’s help Mac and Rainbow get rolling! What method of dog-carrying do you think would work best for them? Do you ride with a large dog? Do you have experience getting a dog to relax and feel comfortable being pulled around? What worked for you?

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

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World Naked Bike Ride coming to Laurelhurst Park June 29th

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 06:36

Riders mass on SE Water Avenue prior to the 2012 edition of the ride.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The local edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, Portland’s annual clothing-optional gathering that celebrates human-powered transport and the vulnerability of people who do it, will start from Laurelhurst Park. The 16th edition of the ride happens on June 29th at 8:00 pm.

Volunteer behind the event have been working hard to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. They’ve also booked the March Fourth Marching Band to help boost spirits and get everyone in the mood (while you listen to the band, consider a stop at the temporary tattoo station).

Here are a few other you should know about this year’s ride:

Join the team. Despite its size (both in number of riders and cultural influence), WNBR is run by just a few dedicated people. And they need your help! If you’d like to volunteer as a tip-taker, ride marshal/medic/mechanic, or a greeter at the end to help people find after parties and answer questions, sign up for shift here.

Don’t drive to the start. The Laurelhurst neighborhood cannot handle a massive influx of automobiles. And besides, the ride is a protest against oil dependency.

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Bring cash. You’ll want bills to buy official WNBR souvenirs and to donate to the wonderfully scrappy crew that puts it together. One of the lead organizers told me, “If everyone donated $1, we’d be able to pay for the next year’s ride.”

Don’t litter. The park and end location must be left spotless. Please don’t be that person who leaves a mess.

If you see something, say something. If someone makes you uncomfortable during the event, report it to a ride volunteer.

— For the latest updates and to RSVP, follow the WNBR Facebook page (more RSVPs will help boost the post on Facebook).

This event is a treasure. We are grateful for the people who work behind the scenes to make it so magical!

Have you done it? Do you plan on it? For those readers who haven’t yet, what do you think is the best thing about WNBR? (Feel free to ask questions in the comments, myself and others will be happy to answer them.)

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

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Elevated Green Loop path emerges from latest Broadway Corridor plans

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 11:18

Rendering of Green Loop path through Broadway Corridor site. Broadway Bridge in upper right.
(ZGF Architects)

The flyover lives.

New renderings and details for the Green Loop through the Broadway Corridor project site have been made available by architects working on the project. They include our most detailed view yet of how the path will navigate from the Parks Blocks, through the site, and up to the 30-foot high junction at NW Lovejoy and the Broadway Bridge.

After a general planning concept was adopted earlier this month, ZGF Architects has just submitted drawings for the site to the City Auditor’s Office in advance of a Design Commissioner meeting set for June 6th. ZGF has been working on the site plan with Portland’s development agency, Prosper Portland, since 2015.

The Green Loop — a project to create a carfree pathway around the central city — figures into this project because the alignment of the path goes right through it. The drawings released today offer us brand new details about how the Green Loop will be designed through the Broadway Corridor site — including an 83-foot long bridge that would go over NW Johnson Street.

Here’s a description from ZGF:

“The Green Loop will approach the USPS site from the south along the North Park Blocks, gradually climbing at the north end of the central open space to a bridge crossing of Johnson Street. North of Johnson, the Green Loop continues as an elevated bridge to the intersection of the Lovejoy and Broadway Bridge ramps. The ramp will be integrated with landscape and an active retail facility, providing a significant placemaking opportunity.”

The drawing below shows elevation (in pink) and dimensions (in black):

The green-and-pink striped lines are “bicycle and pedestrian access ways” which will help people access the Green Loop from surface streets:

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ZGF shared these images as examples of the design of the path and adjacent landscape:

In the “Bicycle Circulation” drawing below, note the NW Johnson neighborhood greenway and how the Green Loop connects directly to North Park Blocks:

The sketch below shows a view looking north at the future site. Note how the ramp would take you from NW 9th, through the site and onto the bridge:

Here’s what ZGF added to give context to the drawing above:

“The preferred concept brings the existing two-way Park Avenue north from Hoyt Street to Johnson Street, helping to connect the North Park Blocks to the Johnson Street Neighborhood Greenway… The street will have active ground floors of buildings at its western edge, with a pedestrian focused woonerf street serving one lane in each direction. At the east edge of the street, the Green Loop will transition from Park Avenue to the Park Block, where it will climb north and up over Johnson Street on a landscaped switchback ramp. The adjacent park block is intended to be open and flexible, to accommodate a wide range of programmed and informal community gathering and recreation.”

Prosper Portland expects the first phase of development for this site (which will be housing, with retail in phase two) to begin in 2021. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently doing a transportation impact study on the site which we hope to share once it’s ready.

To download the full ZGF presentation, click here.

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

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Injuries mount as Portland fails to fix dangerous potholes

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 09:59

I slid 145 feet. I was lucky to escape with just road rash.

(Written by Scott Kocher, a Portland-based pedestrian and bicycle lawyer at Forum Law Group LLC and safe streets advocate advocate. We recently highlighted his efforts to improve Highway 30. Note: Kocher’s law firm is also a financial contributor to BikePortland, but that had no influence on editorial decisions.)

I love to ride in the West Hills. From the central city, they’re the closest place to escape stop-and-go traffic. On weekends, people enjoying Northwest Skyline on bikes seem to outnumber people in cars. On weekdays, commuters zip between Portland and the west side. It feels like a world apart from Highway 26 gridlock.

Which brings me to March 16th. I was riding down NW Cornell from Skyline. There were bad potholes below the upper tunnel. Not just bumps, these were the kind that could easily cause a person on a bicycle to crash — which could be catastrophic at downhill speeds. Hoping to get them filled, I stopped and reported the potholes using the City of Portland’s PDX Reporter web app.

I noted in the report that the holes were a hazard for people on bikes. On March 28th, those potholes weren’t fixed, so I reported them again. On May 1st, I took a day off to go check on the route of a popular group bike ride that typically draws 100s of people. The potholes on Cornell were still there. I marked them with yellow paint, and reported them, for the third time.

Don’t worry, the swear word is protected speech under Article 1 Section 8 the Oregon Constitution.

Half an hour later, I was descending West Burnside from Skyline. It’s a long, wide road with fast traffic. Most cyclists ride with the flow of other traffic and take the lane. It’s nobody’s favorite route, but it’s the most direct route to downtown, and the asphalt is in good shape. Except about half way down, at Arboretum Circle, where, unbeknownst to me, a water main had broken and been repaired. A spot next to the asphalt repair wasn’t fully compacted. I hit the sunken spot at traffic speed. My bike stopped, and I kept going. I tumbled and slid 145 feet.

“He wanted to know if I had finally come to fix the sunken spot, because it made his house shake when trucks hit it, and he’d reported it. Three times.”

After getting checked out and my wounds cleaned at Good Sam, I reported the sunken spot that crashed me. Two days later, I was able to get up there with spray paint. As I was marking the spot so that the City crew could be sure to find it, a neighbor, Bill, saw me in my yellow vest and came out. He asked if I was from the City. He wanted to know if I had finally come to fix the sunken spot, because it made his house shake when trucks hit it, and he’d reported it. Three times.

This wasn’t the first or the second time PBOT didn’t do its job. In May and again in June 2014 I used the PDX Reporter app to report potholes and cracks in the downhill lane of NW Cornell up toward NW 53rd Ave that were “bad enough catch the wheel of a bicycle and cause a fall.” The next month, in July, my friend and riding buddy Richard Lorenz crashed on them.

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Richard Lorenz crashed on potholes that had been reported twice in the previous two months.

Even worse, in 2017, I reported a wretched pothole on NW Thompson. It was multiple layers deep, large, and very hard to see in the leafy shadows. A car driver could have crashed from it. I reported it, noting it was a hazard for bikes – something I don’t do lightly. Nobody fixed it. I heard later that a person on a bicycle crashed on it, and had to have brain surgery. After that, I went back up with a can of paint. It still wasn’t fixed.

I went back up with a can of paint. It still wasn’t fixed.

The concern isn’t limited to the West Hills. After my crash, more people have told me their experiences. One stood out. Unable to cut my own hair, I went to the barber shop. Jessica, who cut my hair much better than I do, told me she used to bike, and loved to commute — all the way from outer southeast to the Slabtown Barbershop in northwest. But she stopped biking after she crashed on a pothole in Woodstock:

“Two years ago I was bike commuting and my tire hit the wrong angle on one of the cracks in the road and I was flipped over my handle bars,” she shared with me. “I reported the incident, but it hasn’t been filled.”

In 2010 OHSU researchers released a study of nearly 1,000 Portlanders who commuted on bicycles for a year. They found, “poor roadway surface conditions” were a factor in 21% of traumatic crashes and 20% of “serious traumatic” crashes.

Here’s what we should do about this

Speed up dangerous pothole fixes. It costs roughly the same whether the crew goes the next day or the next month. Doing that would have saved my injuries, and could save a life. This isn’t just for people on bicycles. E-scooters have much smaller wheels. People on motorcycles and mopeds are also vulnerable to potholes and other asphalt defects.

Get pothole crashes onto the Vision Zero Crash Map. All four of the crashes I’ve described count as “bicycle serious injury” crashes. Yet they are not officially counted. Why? Because like crashes on streetcar tracks, most roadway defect crashes don’t involve an automobile user. Therefore, none of them generate a police report, make it into ODOT’s dataset, or get onto the Vision Zero Crash Map.

Create a user-generated reporting tool. Let’s get these on a map. Too many crashes and injuries go unnoticed. The public has demanded this for years: From BikePortland’s B-SMART tool (now defunct) and Nathan Hinkle’s NearlyKilled.me website to the streetcar track efforts of Active Right of Way (also now offline). It’s not right that individuals and activists have to spearhead these efforts. The proper way to do this would be for the City of Portland to provide a web form for people to report and upload crashes directly onto the Vision Zero map themselves.

If we don’t measure it, we won’t improve it.

We gave PBOT an opportunity to respond to questions and will update this story when we hear back. If you see a dangerous pothole, please report it to PBOT via the PDX Reporter app, 503-823-1700, or by emailing pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov.

— Scott Kocher, @scott_kocher

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TriMet has begun construction of new carfree Gideon Overcrossing

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 08:25

Latest rendering of the bridge. View is looking south from 14th. Koerner Camera Systems, whose owner opposed the project, is in upper left.

TriMet shared an update on their Gideon Overcrossing project at a joint meeting of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees last night.

The $10.5 million project officially broke ground on Monday.

A TriMet staffer shared images of the nearly-final design. She said they intentionally made it visible from nearby crossings (if people don’t see it they won’t use it) and tried to make it “iconic” as requested by neighborhood residents.

The bridge will have an elevator similar to the one on the nearby Rhine-Lafayette overpass (which gets rave reviews from bicycle users). It will also have stairs with a wheel gutter for when the elevator isn’t working. TriMet said they considered a rideable ramp but given the height/overhead clearance requirements needed for both a MAX light rail and freight railroad line, along with ADA slope requirements, the ramp would have been too long, expensive, and cumbersome to fit in the project.

Looking northeast toward Gideon Street from SE 13th.

Looking northwest from SE 17th/Powell.

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The stairs will have a wheel gutter to make walking your bike up them easier. TriMet said they studied existing gutters and sought advice from afar to come up with their design. The trick was to make the gutter easy to use while not creating a tripping hazard. Below is a slide from last night’s meeting that shows how the Gideon crossing gutter compares to the existing Rhine-Lafayette crossing:

(Rhine-Lafayette gutter on the left, Gideon on the right)

As you recall, the controversy around this project had to do with how it landed on the 14th Avenue side. Several businesses opposed the project on grounds that it would impede their truck loading access and create safety hazards. In the end, TriMet decided to extend the driveway of Koerner Camera Systems so they could maintain access to their loading dock. TriMet’s design also creates a public plaza on the 14th Avenue side.

The bridge will be built by TriMet, but owned and operated by City of Portland Bureau of Transportation. It’s expected to be completed and open for use by July of next year.

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

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A closer look at the new bus/bike lane on SW Madison

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 11:25

The new treatment — meant to speed up buses and make cycling safer — starts at 4th and lasts two blocks. (Scroll down for full gallery and video)
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

When the Portland Bureau of Transportation revealed their plans for SW Madison last week, there was at first rejoicing. Many of us are desperate for any change to our streets that makes bicycling and transit safer and more efficient. Dedicating a wide lane solely for transit and bike riders on a major downtown corridor is an exciting step in the right direction.

But almost as soon as we posted about the project, there were concerns about how this new lane would be shared by people operating such dramatically different vehicles.

PBOT crews implemented the $160,000 project over the weekend and Monday’s afternoon commute was its first real test. I rolled over to take a closer and ask staff from PBOT and TriMet a few questions.

The details

“It’s all about balancing the needs of everyone.”
— Hannah Schafer, PBOT

PBOT has restriped three blocks of SW Madison from 4th to 1st. On two of those blocks, 4th and 3rd, they’ve separated a bus/bike only lane from other lanes with plastic wands and curbs. The roadway is 36-feet wide from curb-to-curb. It used to have a standard, unprotected bike lane, two other vehicles lanes, and a lane used for on-street auto parking. Now there are two, 11-foot wide vehicle lanes, and one 15-foot wide bus/bike lane. The bus/bike lane is striped with what PBOT says is a “passing lane” for bicycle riders to the left of the curbside lane.

PBOT has also prohibited right turns for drivers at SW 3rd. This is the same corner where a truck operator’s right turn led to the death of bicycle rider Kathryn Rickson in 2012.

Driving space wasn’t reduced for this project. Buses will now get through faster with a carfree lane. Bicycle (and scooter) riders have a flexible space that is either five feet when passing a bus, or 15 feet if there’s no bus around.

Asked how they came up with this cross-section, PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer said, “It’s all about balancing the needs of everyone.”

The buses

Bus operators are generally more skilled and predictable than typical drivers. But the size of their vehicles makes them much more intimidating. The concerns about sharing this lane with buses is understandable. As you can see in the image above and video below, the space between the plastic wands/curbs and the bus is very tight and it feels stressful.

It’s worth pointing out however, that the condition shown in my video are not common. Usually the bicycle riders are either in front or behind the bus operator. TriMet Public Information Officer Tia York shared with me yesterday that 93 buses (from five different lines) use SW Madison between 1st and 4th avenues between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm each weekday. I asked if they’d received any special training about using the new lane and she said no.

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Two people turning right where they aren’t supposed to. Note the small sign with flags in the upper right.

– Some drivers still turn right at 3rd. The only thing PBOT has done so far is posted a “No Right Turn Except Bicycles” sign up on the corner. PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff said they’ll continue to monitor the behavior and make adjustments if necessary. One big step would be to color the entire bus lane red; but because red lanes aren’t officially sanctioned yet, PBOT would need to request permission from the Federal Highway Administration before doing so (something a few cities have already done). Red would become known as space only for buses, much like green has come to symbolize bicycle-only space.

– Despite technically having 15 feet to ride in, most bicycle riders filed all the way over the left whether or not a bus was present.

– PBOT plans to extend this treatment one block west to SW 5th once the construction zone adjacent to the Portland Building is gone.

– There’s no protection on the block between 2nd and 1st because PBOT said bus operators would have had a hard time maneuvering around them to continue onto the Hawthorne Bridge.

– The plastic wands and curbs have the added impact of slowing down the turns of drivers as they enter Madison from 4th and 3rd. This is a good thing. The street feels narrower with the plastic material in the middle of it, so people make sharper, more cautious turns while driving.

More photos

The block between 2nd and 1st is where bus operators cross back over the bike lane.

The protection and size of the lane is wonderful when no buses are around.

I found it interesting how people rode all the way to the left even when no buses were present.

These riders were stopped at a red signal with the bus. As they gained speed (it’s slightly downhill), they moved over to the left to let the bus operator pass.

Somehow this driver missed the huge “BUS BIKE ONLY” sign on the pavement.

When the protection ends (at SW 2nd), PBOT has added green coloring to encourage riders to use it.

I didn’t talk to a lot of riders, but a few folks yelled out at me as they went by: “It’s wonderful,” said one. “Best thing ever!” said another. “So dumb!” said one guy, shaking his head.

Have you ridden it yet? If so, how did it go? What do you think?

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

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Family Biking: We all fall down

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 09:48

Staged photo of a bike crash.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Last week I took the corner into my backyard too slowly, caught my front wheel on a flagstone, and slowly tipped sideways against the side of my house. As time slowed down and/or my brain sped up in the heat of the moment, I thought about my crashes of years past.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I’ve read that the most common type of bicycle crash is a solo crash. I find this hard to believe, but I’ve had my share of solo mishaps. All but one* of these solo crashes left me unscathed so they are not reported in whatever data set declared solo bike crashes so common.

No kids nor dog were on my bike during this most-recent little crash, and my heavy groceries (including eggs!) were all fine. I didn’t event rip my thin flannel shirt or scrape my shoulder that slid along the rough siding of my house. But the impact of the impact was enough to make me realize I should talk about family biking crashes.

Timber! I was unable to walk my bike with two Christmas trees until I loaded them sideways across the deck.

Family bikes are heavy. And then you add the weight of kids to them. And then you add the weight of kid stuff (snacks, toys, extra clothing, precious new-found sticks and rocks, more snacks, favorite book, etc…) on top of that! Once they’re rolling, bikes are easy to keep upright, but at very slow speeds heavy bikes can be tricky. Other than two slips on black ice, my crashes have been on account of speed — too little of it. I’ve dropped my bike while walking it along and while maneuvering it to park, most notably in front of a crowd of toddlers and their families at our local fire station open house. I’ve also tipped over while moving too slowly — while trying to get started from a complete stop, while coming to a stop, and while climbing too steep a hill. These aforementioned crashes all happened while my two kids were on my cargo bike, by the way, and they were fine…as well as too young to be embarrassed by my clumsiness, phew.

I have good bike handling skills — oh, which reminds me of another crash, a rare one when the kids weren’t on my bike. They were two and four and pushing their balance bikes in intersecting S curves while I followed along on my cargo bike. They were having a terrific time on a Waterfront sidewalk, as was I, playing footdown and patting myself on the back at how following their chaotic progress at such slow speeds while dodging their little bikes was doing wonder for my bike handling skills. But then my front tire slipped off the concrete sidewalk into a tree planter and down I went.

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I’m not predicting all family bikers will have crashes like this, but you’re not alone if you do. In a closed Facebook group about family biking in my former city of Seattle, we sometimes shared these stories and took comfort in knowing we weren’t alone in our mishaps.

Eyes on the prize, I don’t think my kids realized they were horizontal mere seconds ago.

I don’t want to imply my kids are so used to my dumping the bike that it doesn’t faze them, but when I loaned my kids to a friend at the 2013 Fiets of Parenthood and her bakfiets tipped over, they calmly sat horizontal, my little one motioning her to “Pass me the grocery bag from the obstacle stop already, the clock is ticking!” as she righted the bike. Oh, that reminds me of another crash at the 2010 Seattle Fiets of Parenthood when I started tipping over at the berry picking obstacle station, but a bunch of people ran over and righted us before we hit the ground. It takes a village! And kids are resilient and will be OK if you happen to drop your bike.

I deserved this fall for laughing at our neighbor’s wipe out moments prior. Snowboards, sled, and dog were unharmed.

E-bikes to the rescue?
I should point out that an e-assist can help avoid — and possibly even prevent — these common little crashes. Bikes like the Surly Big Easy I borrowed and reviewed that have a “walk assistance mode” provide a small boost at the push of a button while walking the bike. Useful for any heavy bike, and especially when walking uphill. E-bikes with a throttle or boost button (which is essentially the same thing as a throttle, but at the push of a button rather than a twisted grip) that provide assistance on demand without pedaling are incredibly helpful for getting started from complete stops and climbing steep hills.

I can appreciate that others might not want to share any mishaps in a public forum like this, but if you want a virtual hug or any advice post-crash, feel free to email me at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for reading!

*My one and only injury while bicycling was when I was a college freshman and biked too close to the edge of the road and caught my pedal on the curb which led to me sailing over my handlebars and very minorly fracturing my ulna or radius near the elbow. To add insult to injury, it was the last day of Bicycle Safety Awareness Week at UC Santa Barbara.

We’re looking for people to profile. 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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Cycle Oregon’s ‘Gravel’ goes east into wide open Wasco County

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 06:24

Once home to the Molalla Tribe before white immigrants forced them out, this area east of Dufur is now dotted by large farms and ranches — and perfectly groomed gravel roads. This view is from Roberts Market Road looking northwest toward the Columbia Hills that rise above the Columbia River in Washington.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Dufur City Park was our host.

With its second year in the books, it feels like the Gravel event has found a home with Cycle Oregon. After three decades of their signature, 7-day “Classic” event, the nonprofit has found a sweet spot around one of cycling biggest trends: riding unpaved backroads, a.k.a. gravel grinding.

The tiny eastern Oregon town of Dufur (est. 1893, pop. 604) was home base for two full days of riding. The routes traversed land where the Molalla Tribe lived for generations before being banished to a reservation by the U.S. government in 1851. Today the land around Dufur is wide open country dotted by farms that raise livestock, wheat, and other crops.

After riding the Sasquatch Duro in Oakridge on Saturday, I opted to come home via Dufur so I could check out day two of the Gravel event. I showed up Saturday night just when the excellent band Greater Kind (brought in from Portland) fired up their instruments.

The vibe was classic Cycle Oregon, only on a much smaller, more intimate scale. The week-long ride is like a small city with about 2,500 people buzzing around in every direction. You could know someone on that ride and not see them for the entire week. But at Gravel, the crowd is much smaller. You could almost see everyone with a quick glance around.

When I got there, the free beer and wine were flowing and a big crowd had formed around the “Whiskey Wagon,” a booze cart wheeled in from north Portland. This mobile bar was serving two very popular items: distilled beverages and a live feed of the Portland Trail Blazers playoff game.

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While tempted to party all night, tired legs from day one (everyone talked about how tough it was) encouraged most campers to their tents at a sensible hour. There was another big day of riding just a few hours away.

The land between Highway 197 and the Deschutes River was made for cycling on. The roads, paved or unpaved, follow the organic undulations of the round hills and valleys. And the views go for miles. When it comes to the gravel rating, this area falls squarely into the luxury category. But on Sunday, a smattering of rain showers downgraded that rating — or upgraded it if you like getting dirty.

About half way through the 63-mile long course, Roberts Market Road turned into a mix of wet sand and slick peanut-butter mud. It lasted for only a mile or two, just long enough to completely cover the bottom half of bodies and bikes (unless you had fenders of course). But no one was looking down because the sun eventually punched through the clouds and the views were magnificent. Crop colors popped as the wide and empty roads unfolded in front of us.


This rider said he came to Gravel because he was just curious what it would be like. He had this old Surly he’d bought for commuting and figured it’d work out. He was having a great time!

It was a great day in the saddle. With their gentle grades, rewarding vistas, and nearly carfree solitude, the roads around Dufur offer quintessential Oregon conditions, whether you’re a gravel connoisseur or just trying it for the first time. And many Gravel participants were doing just that. Several people I talked to were yet to buy a “gravel bike”, they simply grabbed something with tough tires and decided to see what all the fuss was about. I’m pretty sure they’re hooked.

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

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Weird but true: His bike commute inspired a series of album cover parodies

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 13:03

Hillsboro resident Aaron Harrison (he goes by Rambo) has a commuting style all his own. Rambo has worked in Portland bike shops for decades and he’s also a decorated track racer.

I’ve known about him for years now (I can recall he and his Orange bike flying past me with whooosh during Cycle Oregon years ago); but I had no idea about his love for music and artistic flair on Instagram. Let me explain…

I follow many of Instagram accounts. It’s one way I keep track of what’s going on in our community and I like to offer support and encouragement from the @BikePortland account when people do good things. At some point I started to follow Harrison’s @RamboBikeMan account. It’s pretty fun: Goofy selfies of him flying down suburban arterials; Gloves full of things he finds on the road (he has an uncanny ability to find coins); nothing earth-shattering. Then about six weeks ago, things got weird.

Rambo started posting parodies of him bike commuting in the style of music album covers.

The first one was Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required. Rambo changed it to Rain Jacket Required.

He’s posted over 60 more of them since then. They always make me smile. Here are my favorites:

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Rambo told me he does this simply to keep himself amused. He commutes from the Reedville/Hillsboro area into downtown Portland (West End Bikes) on a heavy commuter bike. “It’s a long time in the saddle, so I look for ways to make it fun,” he shared with me in a recent email.

“It’s a long time in the saddle, so I look for ways to make it fun.”

The first ones he made were basic and used only the Instagram editing tools. Now he uses a basic editing app. After his friends liked them, he was hooked and now does them whenever the whim strikes. He even takes requests!

“I’ve been having a ton of fun making these album cover parodies, and will likely continue making them as long as I can find album covers I can duplicate (getting more suggestions from friends has helped),” he said.

Follow him at @RamboBikeMan for more album cover parodies, photos of a spoon he planted in the landscaping of a new development, portraits of his rain-bike mascot named “Koffee Kat”, and more.

Happy Bike Month everyone!

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

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Photo gallery and recap: Oakridge and Westfir host ‘Sasquatch Duro’ gravel event

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 10:19

Click for captions. (Photos: Harry Apelbaum/Apelbaum Studios)

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After kicking off two weekends ago at the coast, the Oregon Triple Crown series moved about 85 miles inland to the “Mountain Biking Capital of the Northwest” (that’s the official motto). There were only a few riders at the Sasquatch Duro on mountain bikes Saturday, but that didn’t stop them from riding off-road into the mountains.

A few hundred people — a mix of racers looking for fast times and ramblers looking for good times — lined up on East 1st Street in uptown Oakridge to tackle the “Big Squatch” or “Little Squatch”. The courses (43 and 30 miles respectively) offered paved roads through high prairies and a river, and dirt roads through forested timber lands that were once the lifeblood of surrounding communities.

With about equal parts pavement and dirt, nearly everyone was on a drop-bar road bike with tires ranging from about 35-45 mm in size (for reference, most Tour de France racers ride 25 mm tires).

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The weather was moody in the days leading up to the event with showers and dark skies. (I arrived early and stayed in Westfir, a few miles outside Oakridge. Stay tuned for a story about that tiny town and its up-and-coming lodge). The sky gods smiled on the Sasquatch Duro and it turned out to be sunny and dry all day.

I did the Big Squatch course and enjoyed almost every minute. I say “almost” because I didn’t feel great on the big climb at the start and once I recovered it was too late to catch back onto the lead groups. Thankfully the rest of the day was darn near perfect. Once we got off-road (at mile 7) I started to find my legs and had a solid riding partner to the peak of the first climb which topped out at about 2,800 feet (we started at 1,200). As you can see on the route map above, the course took us over a series of creeks with the most boring names ever: We pedaled over First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth creeks.

Click for captions. (Photos: Harry Apelbaum/Apelbaum Studios)

After the peak, the day’s real fun began. We careened down National Forest Road 1928 and hung a sharp left on the legendary Aufderheide Scenic Byway. Ripping along the pavement with the majestic Willamette over my shoulder was a treat. I couldn’t savor it fully though, because I knew what was coming. I’d done some reconnaissance Thursday night on the route’s big climb, NF 1912.

Once we left Aufderheide, we crossed the river and headed (what felt like) straight up for six grueling miles. We punched out over 2,600 feet of climbing to get to Windy Pass, before an eight mile descent took us back down to the river. I felt like I flew down that descent (there’s some photo evidence here)! The corners seemed to melt away as I held onto my bars and carved the damp dirt with full trust that my brain, body, and bike would do the right things.

The last two miles were paved and flat on the Aufderheide Byway. It was a remote finish in Westfir, meaning the after-party and free food were about four miles away in Oakridge. As luck would have it however, I was staying in Westfir, so my day was done. And the patio-dwellers at Westfir Lodge welcomed me back with smiles and congratulatory toasts of great Oregon beer.

Racers contemplate a drink stop on Westfir Lodge patio before riding back to Oakridge.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

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

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The Monday Roundup: Behind the lines, say “pannier”, climate crisis framing, and more

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 08:03

Welcome to the week. Lots to get to. But first: We must know our history.

This week’s edition is sponsored by Rack Attack, where you go to figure out what bike rack is right for your car.

Behind the lines: Don’t miss the latest War on Cars episode where co-host Aaron Naparstek infiltrates the New York Auto Show to bring you all the absurdities and ironies of peak car culture.

Dirty tricks: The Oregonian reported that the University of Oregon and Oregon Health & Science University help bankroll a group that is trying to kill Governor Kate Brown’s climate change bill.

Language matters: Excellent decision from The Guardian to start using more direct and accurate language on vital environmental topics.

Dooring prevention: Uber is trying decrease the amount of dooring incidents their drivers and passengers cause with in-app notifications and driver training.

Ride of Silence: There was no such ride in Portland this year, but that didn’t stop Vancouverites from hosting the memorial ride that aims to raise awareness of riders who have been killed.

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Tesla mess: Not sure what’s more galling to me about these NTSB findings: the fact that Tesla uses humans as guinea pigs; there’s seems to be no federal safety oversight of this shit; or that the “autopilot” mode allowed the car to go over the posted speed limit.

Self police: Leader of a free-market think tank — and 50-year bicycle commuter — penned an editorial in The New York Daily News saying that bicycle riders should welcome more enforcement of cycling traffic laws.

MTBs and trail damage: This piece from Adventure Journal explains how bicycles have less impact on properly built singletrack trails than you might think (required reading for many Portlanders who don’t understand this simple concept).

Cross-country low-stress: What if you could ride cross-country on carfree rail-trails? That’s the vision behind the Great America Rail Trail, a 3,700 vision launched by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy last week.

Slow cars, fast food: Burger King says they will roll out delivery to hungry people stuck in traffic jams.

Video of the Week: Check out Path Less Pedaled’s latest video about the roots and correct pronunciation of the word “pannier”:

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

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