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City releases final plans for Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway project

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 15:37

Design for Tillamook and 21st has changed to make the bike route more direct.

The City of Portland plans to get started on $150,000 worth of changes to NE Tillamook Street this spring. If all goes according to plan, this major east-west bike route will be much less inviting for car users and much more inviting for bicycle users between Flint and 28th.

Since we last posted about this project in July of last year, PBOT has gathered feedback and worked out final kinks of the design. The final plans still 23 new speed bumps: 20 on Tillamook and three aimed at slowing drivers down near the crossings of Flint and 7th.

Other notable elements of this project will include (latest plans below):

– Marked crossings at the off-set intersection with NE 7th Avenue. PBOT also plans to install speed bumps north and south of Tillamook.

– Green colored bike boxes in both directions at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Also shown in the new plans are multiple chevron markings (partial sharrow, without the bike) to aid in crossing by bike. We’ve also noticed PBOT will reduce the amount of on-street parking removal on the southwest side of the intersection from 80-feet (as shown in July) to 50-feet.

– PBOT plans to test diversion between MLK and Williams. Depending on how traffic data comes back (PBOT has to wait until a major sewer project wraps up in order to accurately assess volumes), the plan is to create a one-way only westbound at Rodney with 50-feet of parking removal near the intersection.

– Intersection with 21st Avenue now shows a beefier median to calm traffic instead of speed bumps. The new design allows for a much more direct cycling route than what was shown in July.

– As per their newly adopted policy, PBOT will also “daylight” every intersection on the greenway by making parking illegal within 20-feet of corners.

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And as we’ve come to expect with all neighborhood greenways, PBOT will rotate stop signs to favor cycling on Tillamook, add sharrow markings on each block, and lower speed limits to 20 mph.

The first phase of construction will start this spring and include crosswalks and signage at 7th, the signed crossing at 24th, marked crosswalks at Flint and Vancouver, on-street parking removal at intersections, and the bike boxes at MLK. The remainder of the work will follow and the plan is to have the project completed before the end of this year.

For more information, check out the project website.

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

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Influential Portland Planning Commission seeks three new members

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 14:28

It only looks boring.

There’s a big opportunity afoot for three Portlanders who want to play a major role in shaping our city’s growth.

The 11-member Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission has announced three openings that need to be filled due to people being termed out. The PSC is a very influential body that advises City Council on Portland’s long-range goals, land-use policy, and more. That means they have a major say in everything from bike parking and housing to freeway widening projects.

Speaking of which, the PSC is where a vote was held two years ago on whether or not Portland should remove the I-5 Rose Quarter project from its Transportation System Plan. The idea was proposed by noted transportation advocate and PSC Vice-Chair Chris Smith who opposes the project because of how it makes driving through our Central City easier. Smith’s motion narrowly fell by a vote of 6 to 4. Had a few members voted differently, ODOT would not be marching forward with their plans as confidently as they are now.

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Here’s more about the openings from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability:

The PSC includes 11 volunteer members with expertise in a range of areas. Their major role is to advise City Council on Portland’s long range goals, policies and programs for land use, “Be the next “city shaper” – or help us find one!

Given the number of open seats (almost one third of the Commission), this is a chance to lead with equity and include more people of different ages, cultural backgrounds, incomes, residences and abilities to move our community closer to the city we aspire to be.

To complement the existing voices on the Commission, people who have backgrounds in and care about the following are sought:

Equity / social justice
Climate action / sustainability
Business / economic & community development
Zoning code / general land use / traditional long-range planning
Central Eastside / new industry

This recruitment will be open until March 15th.

If you’re interested or know someone who might be, check out the full description and call for new members here.

In related news the PSC will have a work session on the Bicycle Parking Code Update tomorrow (2/25).

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

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Transportation Trivia packs them in as Shoup-inspired team takes top prize

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 10:35

Team “You Make Me Want To Shoup” hoists the trophy: (L to R): Sarah Iannarone, Joe Cortright, Alyssa Heminger, Tony Jordan and Clint Culpepper.
(Photo: Yashar Vasef)

Transportation leaders and bright minds from around the region convened at the Lagunitas Community Room on Thursday night for the latest rendition of the Community Cycling Center and Oregon Walks’ Transportation Trivia event. It was an overflow crowd and for the first time in the event’s history, all tickets were sold out before the festivities even began.

As trivia day approached, the competitive tension was palpable, with the defending champions taking to social media to declare their intent to repeat their last performance. “We’ll bring the trophy so you can all have a look at it, but it’ll still be ours at the end of the night,” a member of 5 Wheels to the Wind posted hours before the event. This was, of course, all in jest as this is a friendly competition that benefits the work of the Community Cycling Center to broaden access to bicycles for people of all backgrounds and Oregon Walks to make conditions for walking safe and convenient.

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(Photos below by Charles Edelson)

Competition was fierce, as emcees Hanna Davis and Noel Mickelberry kept everyone on their toes from one question to the next. Over 100 participants formed teams representing local firms and organizations like Daimler Trucks North America, Lancaster Engineering, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Westside Transportation Alliance, and a myriad of other reputable outfits all vying for the chance to hoist the winner’s trophy.

Ultimately, the trivia gods determined there would be no repeat champion, as team You Make Me Want to Shoup took home the victory after three rounds of challenging, yet educational, trivia qustions. “It’s great to live in a town with so many people who are this passionate about transportation,” said winning team member and economist Joe Cortright (of City Observatory fame). “This is where the future of Portland’s transportation is decided.”

Of course, we have to take a moment to thank the sponsors who helped make this event possible. Lancaster Engineering, PBOT, and Portland Streetcar graciously supported the event as signature sponsors. Go Lloyd, Portlanders for Parking Reform, We Ride at Daimler, and WSP also generously supported the fun.

Sarah Iannarone, former Portland mayoral candidate and a member of You Make Me Want to Shoup, aptly capped the night: “There’s absolutely nothing we can’t do if we put the same level of energy into better and improved transportation policy as we do into winning transportation trivia.”

— Yashar Vasef, Community Cycling Center

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The Monday Roundup: Bicycle Day, DC defends bike lanes, e-bikes’ mental health boost, and more

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 09:29

Here are the most noteworthy things on the web we came across in the past seven days…

Bring back Bicycle Day: Before the Presidents Day holiday was used to sell cars it was a “day of leisure” that many people took as an opportunity to ride and race bicycles.

Worst Day Ride Photos: Don’t miss these great photos from The Oregonian that captured the costumes and spirit at yesterday’s Worst Day of the Year Ride.

Speed kills: A new study has shown that higher speed limits on eastern Oregon highways — passed by the Oregon legislature in 2015 — have led to more fatal crashes.

ITE on parking: The influential Institute for Transportation Engineers has issued a promising new policy stance in the latest issue of their magazine: removal of parking minimums, more use of pricing tech to manage demand, and the promotion of different modes.

Lime is over bikes: Interesting to see that a company that once operated both shared e-scooters and bikes has decided to drop the latter.

DC defends its bike lanes: The District of Columbia has decided to get tough on Uber/Lyft drivers and delivery trucks who think they can stop in bike lanes by clarifying existing bike lane law. It’s being done as part of D.C.’s Vision Zero program.

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State of safety: A good overview of why more vulnerable road users are being hit and killed in U.S. cities and what it will take to do something about it.

What do we want? More bike parking!: The SF Bike Coalition is demanding the City of San Francisco triples the number of bike racks and respond more quickly to bike parking requests.

NYPD hates cycling: The Bike Snob shares an overview of a problem we’ve noted for years: That behind all their infrastructure and other urbanism successes lies a terrible barrier to bike-friendliness — the police.

Mental health and e-bikes: Research has shown that electric-assisted bikes not only make pedaling easier for older people, they can also provide a mental health boost.

Slow buses: Portland is working to speed up buses, many of which are stuck in traffic behind car drivers. In New York City, activists on foot challenged a bus to a race across town and they only lost by five seconds.

Unspent bike/walk funds: Streetsblog reports on $1 billion in unspent federal funds lying in state coffers that could be rescinded if they don’t get used. And yes, Oregon is on the list to the tune of about $12 million. Is this a big deal? We’re inquiring with ODOT and hope to share more info soon.

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

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Advocates, residents see Highway 30 paving project as chance for safer bicycling

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:13

Highway 30 has potential to be a direct route from downtown Portland to St. Johns. Unfortunately its bike access is abysmal.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Anyone who’s ridden a bicycle on Highway 30/St. Helens Road between northwest Portland and the St. Johns Bridge understands why it has the moniker “Dirty 30”. With a major paving project in the pipeline, ODOT has a chance to change that bad reputation.

The narrow, unprotected bike lanes are almost always strewn with gravel and all manor of debris. But the “dirty” part is just the start. The road is full of car and truck drivers going 45-50 mph just a few feet (sometimes less!) away from your handlebars.

How do we make this better? Here’s our chance:

The Oregon Department of Transportation is working on a $8.5 million project that will repave 2.5 miles of Highway 30 from NW Kittridge to the St. Johns Bridge via Bridge Avenue (the road that connects to the bridge, which will also be paved). The project description says that in addition to new pavement, ODOT will upgrade ADA ramps to current standards, improve “access management” (driveways, turning movements), and “address drainage as needed.”

Advocates have gotten wind of the project and want to seize the opportunity to improve conditions.

These young riders are headed toward the popular NW Saltzman Road in Forest Park, which is just south of St. Johns Bridge in the middle of ODOT’s project area.

Bike lane conditions just north of Kittridge just after a storm.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because three years ago we saw a similar opportunity when ODOT repaved Hwy 30 from Bridge Avenue to NW McNamee Road. When that project was being designed, I personally met with ODOT staff and presented some ideas to significantly improve cycling conditions. Unfortunately they failed to embrace any of them and ended up only making a few very minor changes to the cycling environment.

We hope the outcome is different this time around. With a new main entrance to Forest Park coming to the Kittridge/Hwy 30 intersection and the potential of this road to be a pleasant, direct bike route from downtown Portland to St. Johns — this is an opportunity we should not pass up!

Thankfully, volunteers with BikeLoudPDX are already on the case. The project was on the agenda of their monthly meeting earlier this week where noted transportation advocate and lawyer Scott Kocher shared his ideas. He wants to see a reconfiguration of existing lane widths when the striping gets put back. More space could be added to the bike lanes if ODOT was will to narrow other lanes. Kocher also wants them to consider removing utility poles that currently constrain the bike lane in several spots. Drainage problems are also on his radar. There are a few spots that are notoriously flooded and present a hazard to bike riders. Another idea is to add new bike/walk signals to improve safety on Bridge Avenue.

Kocher and fellow advocate Ted Buehler will team up to host a bike ride tomorrow (Saturday, 2/23) at 9:30 am. The ride will be a hands-on exercise in activism where everyone will help observe, document, measure, and photograph existing conditions. The idea is to use this documentation to make formal requests to ODOT to address the deficiencies in the project.

Buehler and Kocher will be happy to know that they’ve got a lot of support. According to ODOT’s 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), they agency received numerous citizen comments in support of better cycling facilities on Highway 30. The comments below were all recorded by ODOT as part of the official STIP record:

Clinton Doxsee:

This project should also incorporate improved, separated bike/ped facilities to provide safer and better non-automotive alternatives. Striped bike lanes on a road where vehicles travel at 45-50 mph is dangerous and will be deadly for a cyclist when a crash will inevitably occur. Existing bike/ped facilities are treacherous and extremely unsafe or unfriendly.

Geoff Grummon-Beale:

I am a regular user of Hwy 30 along this stretch both by bicycle and motor vehicle. This project is an important opportunity to improve conditions for bicycling along a key bicycle route in Northwest Portland. Specifically, I would like to see the following:
1. Stripe continuous, buffered bicycle lanes that meet state requirements for minimum width along the entire length of the project. This is essential!
2. Address hazards in the bike lanes such as storm drains and gravel from adjacent driveways. Design bike lanes to be self-cleaning if possible.
3. Stripe bike lanes on both sides of Bridge Avenue for its entire length.
4. Address hazardous motor vehicle merging across the bike lanes at the Bridge Avenue ramps.
5. Create improved bicycle connections at key access points such as Saint Helen’s Road, Saint John’s Bridge, Saltzman Road, and Germantown Road.
6. Look for ways to address speeding such as reduced lane widths.

Caitlin Clark:

I would like to see the bike lanes on this stretch of Hwy 30 made safer or at least more visible to drivers. By adding bollards, accentuating the striping/lane, or adding additional signage this could increase ridership and reduce traffic on Hwy 30.

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Yashar Vasef:

Please consider physical separations, or bollards, for people on bikes. This area feels very dangerous due to car speeds, and some sort of physical separation would be appropriate if ODOT is serious about Vision Zero.

Carl Alviani:

It’s important to remember that US30 is also a crucial bike connector for anyone riding from St Johns and other North Portland neighborhoods into downtown… Any project to repave and upgrade this section of US 30 needs to address these issues too, by physically separating bike lanes where needed, and incorporating bike access into ramp upgrades.

Scott Cohen:

Please improve the bike lanes as well. Increase the size and add a buffer or physical protection.

Chris Jones:

It is really important to me to get better bike access over the Saint Johns Bridge and down Hwy 30. It would shave a mile off of my commute and has the potential to be a lovely ride.

Gary Becker:

… enhanced bike facilities should be included within project scope. US30 is only effective bike route between St Johns and downtown Portland, and a Forest Park entrance facility at the east end of this project would also benefit from access from St. Johns. The existing bike lanes (shoulder) are seriously deficient. Sufficient space and proper striping essential.

Sarah Taylor:

“We need state of the art bike lanes on the bridge and bridge avenue and through Linnton. We need Linnton to be a bike and walk safe community.”

Tim Briare:

Our family and many family households are on Springville Hill above bridge Ave. We have 6 children who ride the bus and also walk on Bridge Ave. There are many other children that walk this area and ride Trimet as well as the school bus in this area. This area is also traveled by large amounts of bike riders from North Portland to Sauvie Island. This area is very hazardous to pedestrians as well as bikers… Please help our neighborhood children with safety. Please help the hikers and bikers that come to this area to access forest Park and Sauvie.

Cassie Capone:

This is a critically important biking route. It feels unsafe and stressful due to high motor vehicle speeds, narrow bike lanes separated from motor vehicles only by paint, and high levels of debris in bike lanes. Please consider physical separation of the bicycling lanes.

Kenath Sponsel:

There needs to be a protected/separated bike path for this corridor. Jersey barriers or tall traffic pillars, or something more than a painted line between bikes and 50mph traffic. Also, better/more frequent sweeping is needed for the amount of debris along this route.

Tim Lundholm:

We live off of Harbor Blvd., which is a one lane road with no pedestrian walk ways that gets heavy commuter traffic between Hwy 30 and Germantown Rd. Our neighborhood is right next to Forest park yet has no safe pedestrian access to it. We have no pedestrian crossing across Bridge Ave to ridge trail, none across Germantown to Tolinda trail, and walking on Harbor is dangerous. Please incorporate safe pedestrian walkways, crossings and access from the neighborhoods of Linnton to Forest Park and St. Johns.

Caitlin Harris:

Please include improved pedestrian crosswalks with stop lights at Saltzman Rd and on Bridge Ave. at Springville Rd. I appreciate what is proposed but without improved pedestrian crossings with stop lights the improvements do little good if people using them to catch the bus/crossing the street are unable to do so safely. There are children who catch PPS school busses and Trimet busses to high schools on Hwy 30. They need to be able to cross Hwy 30 and Bridge Ave. safely!

This project is scheduled to be constructed next year. Will ODOT listen and make changes that significantly improve the cycling and walking environment? We’ll see.

From ODOT STIP.

For now, get involved with the effort to help ODOT see the light. And stay tuned.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Kenton Cycle Repair, Kerr Bikes, Cynergy E-Bikes, Rack Attack

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 09:22

Four fresh job listings for you to peruse.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Seasonal Mechanic – Kenton Cycle Repair

–> Bike Mechanic – Cynergy E-Bikes

–> Kerr Bikes Employees – Kerr Bikes (Albertina Kerr)

–> Sales and Installation Specialist (PT/FT) – Rack Attack

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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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Is ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter plan compatible with ‘Albina Vision’?

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 15:34

Current concept drawing for Albina Vision show several large buildings and roads over I-5 (lower left) — all of which would be impossible if ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter project moved forward as planned.

“Taking on ODOT for buildable caps over I-5. I used to be a nice, middle-aged lady. But, Albina has turned me into a fighter. I’m not backing down.
— Rukaiyah Adams, Albina Vision

There’s a storm brewing over the I-5 Rose Quarter project and it’s not just coming from a growing number of anti-freeway activists.

The Oregon Department of Transportation wants to widen the freeway that slices through the heart of what was a thriving community in the 1950s. The agency hopes to add several lanes and expand the freeway’s footprint in an attempt to speed up traffic and reduce congestion. But there’s another vision for the area that is more about living and less about driving.

As we shared in 2017, the Albina Vision wants to recreate the lost grandeur of dense, walkable and bikeable neighborhood that once flourished before I-5 and other developments destroyed over 700 homes and many businesses. That vision also includes a significant amount of housing — much of which would be built on top of I-5.

One of the main things standing in the way of that vision is ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter project.

ODOT concept drawing shows two smaller covers that could only support a park or plaza.

The $500 million project, which is now in a federally-mandated phase of public comment on an environmental assessment, calls for two covers (a.k.a. caps or lids) over the freeway: One over the Broadway-Weidler couplet and the other at Hancock and Dixon streets. ODOT planned these spaces to be merely caps and not a tunnel because the latter would be much more expensive and complicated (requiring them to dig down and lower the existing freeways lanes, build a sophisticated ventilation system, and so on). Because a more beefy, continuous tunnel would trigger more stringent federal engineering and environmental regulations, ODOT’s highway caps would only be able to hold a few trees and benches (for the rare individuals who relish the opportunity to relax above a loud and smelly freeway).

That’s where the disagreement lies.

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Red circle marks map element labeled as, “Infill development I-5 bridges”.

Having “buildable caps” is a central part of Albina Vision’s plan to restore the historic neighborhoods and street grid. Instead of unused spaces, Albina Vision wants to put that new real estate above I-5 to work as infill development. Their concept drawings and show several, multi-story buildings and roads directly above the freeway. A map on the Albina Vision website labels the area above I-5 as “Infill development”. ODOT’s cute little caps wouldn’t be nearly strong enough for those type of structures.

The two key leaders behind the Albina Vision, former Portland Parks & Recreation Director Zari Santner and Meyer Memorial Trust Chief Investment Officer Rukaiyah Adams have been steadfast in their demand for buildable covers.

Santner told a crowd of policymakers on the first day the vision launched, “… If the freeway is there and it’s not removed, it needs to have a lid.”

And Adams has spoken even more strongly about the lids telling Bridgeliner in an interview this week that, “We can’t move I-5, but if we put buildable caps there so that the streetscape is continuous for pedestrians and bicyclists, then that stitches the community back to the eastside neighborhoods, and that’s pretty critical.”

Adams doubled-down on that demand in a in a Tweet posted this morning: “94 acres in cntrl [Central] city on a transit hub. Could build thousands of affordable units,” she wrote. “Taking on @OregonDOT for buildable caps over I-5. I used to be a nice, middle-aged lady. But, Albina has turned me into a fighter. I’m not backing down.”

It’s generally accepted that agencies don’t like to move forward with an element of a major plan if it precludes the fulfillment of another plan. Does ODOT respect the Albina Vision enough to make a compromise here? Would Mayor Ted Wheeler and his colleagues in City Hall allow a major project to move forward if it deals Albina Vision such a serious blow? We’ll be watching this closely.

UPDATE, 2/22: Portland architecture critic and Business Tribune columnist Brian Libby’s latest piece is all about why we should make Albina Vision a reality. Right now.

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

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Route Advisory: Closures and construction coming to road atop Council Crest

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 11:49

The Portland Water Bureau is about to start a project up in Council Crest Park that will impact the road around the iconic summit lookout.

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The ride up to Council Crest is a classic (one reader loves it so much he snapped a photo from the top 500 times in four years). What you might not realize is that large water tank on the northwest corner of the summit was built in 1942 and still serves 1,300 customers. Now it’s time for maintenance repairs.

As of late this week or early next week, the Water Bureau tells us heavy equipment will begin staging on SW Council Crest Drive. Once construction starts shortly thereafter (we’ll post dates as they come in), the road will be completely closed to car and truck drivers for up to 45 days. Then, for 10-day window (Water Bureau hasn’t clarified exact dates yet), the road will be closed to all users — including bicycle riders. Throughout this project, bicycle riders and walkers will be able to enter the park, but you will not be able to ride through the full loop of the road. If you ride up to the lookout, you’ll have to walk across the grass to return down the hill.

In general, use caution around this work zone as there will be large cranes at work. And respect the full road closure when it starts.

Learn more at the project website.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Worst Day of the Year Ride (for real this time), trail work party, Woody Guthrie and more

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 10:50

‘Worst Day’ ride? Looks like the best day to these riders at the 2011 edition.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Almost time to cut loose and embrace some cycling action!

If you read this before Thursday night, peruse the calendar for a big slate of fun ideas. And of course since it’s February and it’s Portland, always be mindful of the weather forecast.

Here are our event picks for Friday night and this weekend…

Friday, February 22nd

Breakfast on the Bridges – 7:00 to 9:00 am at multiple locations
There will be a Mardi Gras theme to this month’s BonBs. Give yourself extra time on your morning ride into downtown to stop at Steel, Hawthorne and Tilikum bridges for free coffee, treats, and conversation (if you want it). And thank the volunteers from Shift who make this happen! More info here.

Transportation Seminar: Recognizing and Addressing Modal Assumptions to Shift Transportation Culture – 11:30 am at Portland State University (SW)
PSU’s Transportation Research Education Center (TREC) welcomes WashDOT Active Transportation Manager Barb Chamberlain for a discussion about how the words we use impact “modal bias” and our planning and advocacy practice in general. More info here.

Saturday, February 23rd

Endless Summer Saturdays – 9:00 am at Crema (NE)
Join Club Roule for what’s become a standard Saturday group road ride with a moderate pace. More info here.

Transport Your Activism: Highway 30 – 9:30 am at Food Front Co-Op (NW)
BikeLoudPDX is hosting another one of their hands-on activism rides where you’ll observe and measure existing conditions on Highway 30 and share ideas about how to make it better as ODOT preps for a major repaving project. More info here.

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Stub Stewart Winter Trail Work Party – 9:30 am Stub Stewart (Vernonia-ish)
NW Trail Alliance is hosting a work party to help keep the amazingly fun and excellent trails at Stub in great shape for the upcoming season. This is a perfect way to give back and bank some sweat equity into the sport you love. More info here.

Saturday Social Ride – 10:00 am at Lents Park (SE)
This leisurely paced (13-14 mph) group road ride will meander through east Portland with a warm-up stop at a bakery or coffee shop. More info here.

Woody Guthrie & Knapp Falls Ride – 12:00 pm at Creston Park (SE)
Explore the haunts of former Portlander Woodie Guthrie, get a first-look at a new LEED certified sustainable housing complex, and discover a hidden waterfall on this fun 12-mile loop led by Tom from Puddlecycle. More info here.

Sunday, February 24th

***BP PICK!!!*** Worst Day of the Year Ride – Meets at Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne
The Big Day has finally arrived. It’s time to put on a (warm) costume (or not) and join a few thousand other Portland bike lovers for an urban jaunt that will restore your faith in humanity. Remember to mention to organizers you heard about it on BikePortland! More info here.

Kevin Neidorf Celebration of Life Ride – 2:30 pm at River City Bicycles (SE)
Join Kevin’s friends and family for a bike ride to First Unitarian Church where a memorial service will begin at 4:00 pm. 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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Scooter company reps scolded by Oregon legislators over helmet law proposal

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 13:43

Matthew Kopko with Bird Rides (L), and Jonathan Hopkins from Lime.

Senators Lew Frederick (L) and Cliff Bentz.

What was expected to be just another ho-hum hearing on one of thousands of bills working their way through Oregon’s 2019 legislative session, turned out to be anything but.

“What I’m hearing seems to be a bit counter-intuitive from a safety perspective.”
— Rep. Caddy McKeown, Co-Chair Joint Committee on Transportation

As we shared earlier today, House Bill 2671 seeks to require helmets for electric scooter riders 15 years of age or younger. Currently all e-scooter riders are required to wear a helmet. Backers of this bill — which include scooter companies, The Street Trust and Forth Mobility (an Oregon-based electric vehicle advocacy group) — say they merely want to harmonize the scooter law with the existing bicycle law which makes helmet use optional for everyone 16 years and older.

They say the existence of an all-ages helmet law leads to unequal enforcement against the very people most likely to need and appreciate scooters, and it could stymie adoption of scooters and other micromobility devices in the future.

“This bill creates consistency between green transportation modes,” said Jonathan Hopkins, a director of strategic development for Lime, during testimony in front of the Joint Committee on Transportation on February 13th, “Bikes and scooters are providing the same function, on the same number of wheels, at the same speed, and at the same places. While we always recommend users wear helmets, we also think users should be treated equally under the law when using very similar mobility tools.”

PBOT data from the recent pilot found that 90 percent of riders didn’t wear a helmet even though it’s required by Oregon law.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Hopkins was joined on a panel of scooter company reps by Jordan Bice and Matthew Kopko of Bird Rides. They came armed with data and talking points largely taken from the findings of the City of Portland’s successful e-scooter pilot program that wrapped up last year.

But state lawmakers weren’t having it. None of the half-dozen or so committee members who spoke during the hearing were impressed. Some of them even lectured the panelists with an admonishing tone the likes of which I’ve never heard in a legislative hearing before. The exchanges underscored the skepticism lawmakers have toward this new mode of transportation and toward the corporate lobbyists trying to make it more accessible.

The first one came from Senator Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario). Bentz touted his experience as a bicycle rider and said he knows people who’ve had crashes. “Had they not been wearing helmets they would have been dead,” he said, before adding, “And I mean it,” for emphasis. Bentz also expressed that if a low-income person who’s on Oregon Health Plan crashes and sustains a head injury, the bill for their care will, “Be on us.”

“So I’m asking, what are you guys, as an industry, doing to help solve this problem?” Bentz asked the panel.

Kopko, Bird’s director of public policy, began to respond. “We have to be mindful of the fatality and safety risks of automobiles as opposed to these type of vehicles,” he said; but was abruptly interrupted by Bentz, who sounded a bit annoyed:

“I want you to compare the number of scooters to the number of cars. Because you didn’t. You’re equating that we have exactly the same number of scooters on the road as we do cars. We have a gazillion more cars on the road than scooters. So don’t do that. Please don’t do that again. I suffered through it earlier [they’d met in Bentz’s office prior to the hearing] and I don’t want to do it again.”

Here’s video of the exchange:

Then Committee Co-Chair Rep. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) followed up on Bentz’s comments. “There’s an old adage.. ‘Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it’s going to be bad for the pitcher,’ that’s what happens when your head hits the concrete,” she said.

Then McKeown continued:

“You say you’ve been providing helmets for people to use, which implies to me you understand the danger and the possible risk of riding these vehicles. And I applaud you for that; but I also hear you saying you’d prefer we not require it. What I’m hearing seems to be a bit counter-intuitive from a safety perspective.”

To which Kopko replied,

“We are very supportive of helmet use. What we’re talking here about is the diff between encouraging helmet use and mandating it by law. There’s a risk of disparate enforcement and how the helmet requirement would limit uptake of this new mode… We agree helmets should be used whenever possible… For us it’s about the consistency of laws across micromobility solutions.”

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Then there was a very tense exchange (in video above) between the Lime representative Jonathan Hopkins and Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland).

Hopkins:

“There are certain communities that will have less access to helmets and therefore are more severely impacted by law enforcement efforts. Those happen to be the very same communities that are close to freeways or have lower lifespans by up to 10-15 years because of CO2 emissions. So there are areas where these tools have the potential to dramatically effect on our planet, peoples’ life spans, our health, and the health of our community. If there’s inequitable enforcement, you’re going to have communities that can afford helmets riding scooters and riding bikes more, and communities that are suffering from worse air quality and everything else, riding them less. And that actually exacerbates the very same problems they’ve been suffering from for decades.”

Frederick:

“I’m going to try to be kind about this. I appreciate you being concerned about disparate enforcement. Don’t use that as your argument. Please. I get a little tired of that… The next time someone will tell me that we’re looking at kids who are ‘at-risk’ and that’s why we’re doing this. Don’t do that. That doesn’t work. The issue we’re talking about now is safety. I live next to Lloyd Center and I saw a lot of scooters and I saw very few black folks on scooters. I saw very few older folks on scooters. The folks who were on scooters were of a particular economic class and race and particular age as well…. I’d suggest you speak to the safety issues. I would ask that you speak specifically to the safety issues and try not to act as though this is an issue where you’re trying to help the other social issues that we have in the community. You’re talking about transportation. It’s going to make you money, so let’s be clear about that. It’s not just an issue of trying to be helpful.. I’m not upset about you making money; but don’t use the other things to obscure that. Please.”

And Kopko got the last word:

“We have data that shows positive views of scooters increase as you go further down the economic ladder. The data also shows that people of color had a higher positive view than white people of scooter usage. I also want to note the affordability component here: When you can get a ride across town for one-fourth or one-fifth the price of Uber or other modes, it does have an impact for people. There are a lot of affordability and equity benefits for this solution.”

With exchanges like this it became clear the bill was in trouble and the hearing wasn’t going well for its supporters.

Another issue that came up (first from an ODOT Transportation Safety Division staffer, then from Co-Chair McKeown) was concern that the way the bill is written, people might get the wrong impression that people under 16 years old are allowed to use electric scooters even though current law prohibits them from riding one whether they wear a helmet or not.

After an hour-long discussion and with committee leaders like McKeown, Frederick, and Bentz clearly not enthused about the idea of loosening helmet regulations for scooter riders, committee Co-Vice-Chair Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) wrapped things up by saying, “There’s an immense amount of work to do on this. It’s not ready for prime-time at the moment.” That sentiment was echoed by McKeown when she said, “I have great concerns about this. What I think we’re doing is going a bit backwards here.”

There are no other hearings or work sessions current scheduled for this bill. Learn more about it here.

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

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Route Advisory: Three month closure of N Vancouver Ave starts Monday

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 11:21

Starting Monday, February 25th, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services will close North Vancouver Avenue from Russell to Hancock.

The closure is part of the Eliot Sewer and Stormwater Project that’s giving a much-needed upgrade to about 10,000 feet of century-old sewer pipes in the southern section of the Boise-Eliot neighborhood.

Unfortunately their work will close the second busiest cycling route in the entire city: North Vancouver at Russell. According to Bureau of Transportation counts, 4,705 people pass by this intersection every day (second only to the N Interstate/Lloyd/Oregon (Peace Park) intersection which has 4,890).

While the majority of people riding southbound on Vancouver (it’s one-way) are headed westbound to the Broadway Bridge, BES will set up a detour that leads riders east two blocks to the neighborhood greenway on NE Rodney Avenue (car and truck drivers will use MLK Jr. Blvd). See the map at right for details.

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Keep in mind that the detour will be in place Monday through Friday from 9:15 am to 6:00 pm.

If you roll up to the closure during active work-zone hours and think you’ll just hop onto the sidewalk, here’s a message from BES:

When the street or lane is closed for construction, pedestrians and cyclists can almost always use the sidewalk, but should do so with caution. Sidewalks near construction zones can become unusually congested and awareness of your surroundings can help avoid accidents. Please take extra time to walk or bike past work zones. In addition, cyclists must avoid riding on closed roadways even if it looks like there’s enough room for a bike to navigate around construction. When construction takes place on a street with a bike lane, crews will post signs to guide cyclists.

As always, if if you ride in this area please make sure to let us know how this closure and detour is treating you.

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

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Cornelius Pass project will route thousands of cars and trucks onto popular bike routes

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:27

Source: Multnomah County

If you were bummed that NW Newberry Road is closed for repairs until April, you won’t be happy about the news I’m about to share.

A major reason Multnomah County needs to fix the landslide that’s made Newberry carfree since January 2017 is because they need to use it as the primary detour for a separate project on nearby Cornelius Pass Road. Starting July 8th, a major project on Cornelius Pass will require it to be closed for thirteen weeks between Highway 30 and Germantown Road.

The recommended detour for the estimated 10,000 daily car and truck drivers will be Newberry to Skyline to Old Cornelius Pass Road — all three of which are very popular cycling routes because of how quiet and low-stress they are.

The impact of all these additional drivers will be very significant. (Keep in mind that large big-rig trucks will be detoured to highways.) And keep in mind that not everyone will opt for Newberry. There’s very likely to be much more traffic on other popular cycling routes like NW McNamee, Logie Trail, and Rocky Point Road as well. Suffice it to say there’s already serious concerns from bike riders and drivers about the impact of this closure.

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Because of the impact to cycling routes, I’ve been in touch with the County to make sure they do everything they can to minimize negative impacts and safety hazards to bicycle users. Narrow, winding, rural mountain roads are difficult enough for some road users to share. Adding 10,000 more daily drivers — already frustrated by the detour — could be a recipe for disaster.

To mitigate impacts, members of the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee have floated the idea of speed bumps on NW Newberry during the detour. “Generally, if speed bumps are spaced out enough, the Committee felt that bicyclists would be fine with occasional speed bumps,” read minutes from the November 2018 meeting. Speed bumps on west hills roads aren’t unheard of. There are several on NW Germantown.

Also discussed at recent BPAC meetings was the possibility of the County creating/improving vehicle pullouts on NW Newberry specifically so bicycle users could use them. Some members also suggested that the County leverage relationships with large employers like Intel to educate their staff about detour safety issues and encourage them to carpool or use a shuttle during the closure.

The County says they’re still working on a detailed traffic plan for all modes. “We know we need to get out the word to drivers and cyclists to share the road this summer,” County spokesman Mike Pullen shared in an email this week.

(As an aside, the Cornelius Pass Road project won’t include major improvements to the intersection with Skyline, even though a safety audit found that it accounted for far more collisions than any other location along the corridor. There was a recommendation for a roundabout at Skyline but it won’t be a part of this current project.)

See the County’s website for information about the traffic plan and stay tuned for any updates related to cycling safety concerns.

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

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Here are the bills we’re tracking this legislative session

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 07:51

Capitol building in Salem.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

We’re about one month into Oregon’s 80th legislative session. And while no blockbuster bike-related bills have emerged yet, there are still a number of things we’re keeping our eyes on.

Here’s our list and a few notes about all the bills we’re tracking this session…

(NOTE: This list has been updated since first published. Please refresh to see latest version.)

Senate Bills

SB 7 – Lower BAC Level – Overview
Senate President Peter Courtney wants to lower the legal level of alcohol a person can have in their blood while operating a vehicle. Currently at .08 percent, this bill would make it .05 percent. I interviewed Senator Courtney about this bill back in December. Status: Referred to Judiciary Committee.

SB 10 – Housing and Transit – Overview
As reported by The Willamette Week, this bill would, “Require metro-area cities to allow 75 housing units per acre within a quarter mile of frequent transit and 45 units within a half mile. That number goes up to 140 units within a quarter mile of a light-rail station.” This could be a game-changer! Status: Hearing in Housing Committee scheduled for February 25th.

SB 421 – “Made Whole Bill” – Overview
Known by advocates as the “Made Whole Bill”, SB 421 would prevent health insurance companies from collecting damages from an at-fault driver in a collision until the victims are fully compensated for their losses (or “made whole”). The bill comes out of the tragedy that claimed the life of a 22-month old boy who was hit and killed by a driver while walking across North Lombard in 2010. The boy’s mom, Michelle DuBarry, is pushing for the new law and has several co-sponsors already signed on. “Accident victims may have crippling out-of-pocket expenses, life-altering injuries, and ongoing healthcare needs,” DuBarry writes on her website about the bill, “But they are only entitled to a settlement after their health insurer is fully compensated for their accident-related expenses. In cases where hospital stays are involved, there is almost never money left over for victims.” Status: Referred to Judiciary Committee.

SB 558 – Lower Speed Limits Statewide – Overview
In 2017 the City of Portland earned the right to lower residential speed limits by 5 mph without prior authorization from the State of Oregon. This bill would open up that same authority to any city in Oregon. (Interestingly, this is how the 2017 bill started out, but lawmakers worried that some Oregon cities wouldn’t be ready to assume this authority so it was changed to apply only to Portland.) Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

SB 561 – Safe Routes Matching Funds – Overview
When the legislature passed the big transportation package in 2017, Safe Routes to School got dedicated funding. To get the money however, non-Title I schools are required to come up with 40 percent of the project funds (known as “local match”). This bill would lower the matching requirement to 20 percent for all projects, bringing it in line with Title I schools. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

SB 608 – Tenant Protections – Overview
This bill would prevent landlords from evicting people on month-to-month rental agreements without cause. It has already passed the Senate and there’s a work session in the House scheduled for today (2/20). This legislation is being followed by transportation reformers (it’s a priority bill for The Street Trust) because of how high rents increase sprawl and limit transportation options by forcing people to live further away from jobs and other destinations.

SB 623 – EV Registrations – Overview
This interesting bill would limit the type of vehicles Oregon residents could officially register in 2025. People who live in counties with over 600,000 people (currently just Multnomah and Washington), “may not register a new vehicle in this state unless the vehicle is a new electric vehicle,” says the bill text. Of note is that the bill’s sole sponsor, Senator Fred Girod, is a Republican who represents the small, rural district of Stayton. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

SB 746 – TriMet Crash Investigations – Overview
Currently when someone is killed in a collision involving a TriMet vehicle, the agency investigates itself. Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets, an advocacy group, wants more accountability and oversight. This bill would create a TriMet Crash Advisory Committee appointed by the Oregon Transportation Commission. Read more about it in our previous coverage. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

[UPDATE, 2/21: TriMet Manager Of Media Relations & Communications Roberta Altstadt just gave us a comment about SB 746:

“TriMet takes very seriously our obligation to our riders, our employees and our community. Every serious incident—especially those involving loss of life—is devastating, including for their loved ones, TriMet operators and the staff and first responders who go to the scene. We hold ourselves to a high standard and insist that our transit system must operate safely.

TriMet has independent oversight by multiple agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Rail Administration and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Rail and Public Transit Division. TriMet reports all serious collisions to ODOT and the FTA, and both agencies can call for a joint investigation or conduct its own independent investigation of any crash.”]

SB 747 – Education of Bicycle Laws – Overview
This is an attempt to get more information about cycling laws in front of everyone who takes the driving test in Oregon. It would formally combine the (now separate) Oregon Bicyclist Manual and Oregon Driver Manual and it would require a re-test on new laws when someone seeks renewal of their license. Read more about it here. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

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HB 2001 – Middle Housing in Single Family Zoning – Overview
This closely-watched bill (sponsored by north Portland Rep. Tina Kotek) would allow “missing middle” (a.k.a. multi-family dwellings) in places currently zoned for only single-family housing. It would have a big and positive impact on cycling because it would enable more people to live in closer proximity to jobs and other destinations. A public hearing was held in the Human Services and Housing Committee on February 11th.

HB 2020 – Clean Energy Jobs Bill – Overview
This is The Big One. Environmental advocates call this “historic climate legislation.” This bill would create a Carbon Policy Office and set up a “cap and invest” fund in Oregon law. Money raised from polluters could go toward cycling infrastructure projects that reduce vehicle miles traveled. There’s already been a ton of action around this bill. See the overview page for more info.

HB 2083 – Oregon Parks/ODOT Project Admin – Overview
This bill is pretty in-the-weeds; but from what I’ve learned it would formalize something passed in HB 2017 (the 2017 transportation bill) where ODOT had the ability to request up to $4 million in Lottery funding (via Connect Oregon program) from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department. This isn’t new money, the bill would just clarify which of the two agencies would administer the funds. I hope to get a better understanding the bill’s impacts if/when it gets a public hearing. Status: Referred to Transportation with subsequent referral to Ways and Means.

HB 2314 – Lane-Splitting for Motorcycle Riders – Overview
Our fellow, two-wheeled vulnerable road users want more ability to split lanes under certain conditions. As you can learn at LaneShareOregon.com, motorcycling advocates say the bill would help them stay safer on the roads and would reduce congestion by allowing riders to move up between stopped/slow auto traffic. Status: A public hearing scheduled on February 20th in the Joint Committee on Transportation.

HB 2671 – Scooter Helmets – Overview
Introduced by newly elected State Rep. Sheri Schouten (D-Beaverton), this bill would make helmets optional for scooter riders over 16 years old.

Matthew Kopko from Bird testifying at a committee hearing on February 13th.

Currently, all scooter users must wear a helmet. Backers of this bill want to “harmonize” the scooter law with the bicycle law which requires helmets only for children. A public hearing was held on February 13th at the Joint Transportation Committee and legislators lectured and grilled reps from Bird and Lime. I’ll post separately about the hearing (it was a doozy!), but at this point I’d say this bill has very little chance of getting out of committee.

HB 2682 – Bike Lanes Through Intersections – Overview
As we shared back in December, this bill would amending existing statute to clarify that bicycle lanes continue through intersections even when the paint striping doesn’t. The only reason this is happening is because two judges have come to radical conclusion that simply because bike lane striping disappears in intersections, so does their legal status. That makes no sense at all. It would be an absolute embarrassment if this bill failed to pass. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

HB 2702 – Speed Limit Authority for Portland – Overview
Fresh off receiving authority to lower residential street speed limits by 5 mph, with this bill (sponsored by Rep. Rob Nosse) the City of Portland would be able to establish speeds on any road under their jurisdiction. Yes, even wide and fast arterials like Burnside, Division, Sandy and others. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

HB 2864 – Jurisdictional Transfers – Overview
This is the bill we’ve been waiting years for: It would hasten the jurisdictional transfer of ODOT’s “orphan highways” like 82nd Avenue that run through urban neighborhoods. The Portland Mercury covered the issue well a few weeks ago. The bill would direct all ODOT regions statewide to conduct an evaluation of highways for potential transfer from state to city ownership. It would also — and crucially, since the barrier to these transfers has always been the funding needed to bring them up to good condition — establish a “Jurisdictional Transfer Fund.” Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

HB 2880 – Free Transit for Vets – Overview
Sponsored by Rep Rob Nosse (D-Portland), this bill would make public transit free for disabled veterans. Status: Referred to Transportation Committee.

Are there other important bills we should have on our radar? Please let me know.

In related news, the Oregon Mountain Biking Coalition will host their first-ever legislative day in Salem on February 27th.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2019 session.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Cycling’s solace, dooring breakthrough, climate panic, and more

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:10

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Ride Like A Girl, now offering a special “Ready to Ride” coaching program to help you get ready for your big spring/summer rides!

Yes I know it’s Tuesday. But yesterday was a holiday, remember?!

Here are the most noteworthy things we came across in the past seven days…

Ride as an act of resistance: An immigrant from Africa shares how cycling has provided solace from the culture shock of living in 80-percent white Denver and an America as divided and vitriolic toward outsiders as its ever been.

Trump’s accidental parking tax: Portland’s very own Michael Andersen got a whopper of a scoop when he uncovered a piece of the new tax code that might (inadvertently?) punish corporations that subsidize auto parking as a commute benefit.

Stronger aluminum bikes? A new aluminum welding process is on its way to bike frames and the result could lead to very light, strong, and affordable bikes.

Bike New Deal: The League of American Bicyclists wants to amend the Green New Deal so it includes cycling mega-projects, compulsory 8th grade cycling education, and more.

Dooring breakthrough: Bloomberg Editorial Board has endorsed the “Dutch Reach” method of opening the driver’s side door.

Sorry, not sorry: As the Dutch government unveils plans for driverless trucks, a new report cautions that the country’s famous bike traffic could throw a major wrench into the system.

Utility worldwide: From knife-sharpeners, to cargo-carriers — this excellent post features the many ingenious and useful ways bicycles are used around the globe.

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Shop talk: A refreshingly candid bike shop owner in Seattle shares that he closed his e-bike shop because he just couldn’t relate to customers.

Car tech: I’m reflexively against all the shiny new tech carmakers are touting these days; but what if a car would automatically alert police when the driver dozed off, had been drinking, or are driving erratically? I might change might tune.

Clean up your (sexist) act: A commentator at VeloNews thinks racing regulators should take sexism as seriously as they take doping.

Keep building, ODOT and PBOT! How urgent is our need to change the status quo when it comes to sources of greenhouse gas emissions? “Panic might seem counterproductive, but we’re at a point where alarmism and catastrophic thinking are valuable,” says a noted scientist in a major NY Times Opinion piece.

Now you know how it feels: Traffic engineers in Virginia goofed and put a standard traffic lane right in the path of a curb extension — something that happens with bike lanes all the time.

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

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Biking through Vancouver BC’s protected intersection

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 11:07

Separated bike lanes, curb bulbs, so much green paint!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

— Madi Carlson is our Family Biking columnist.

It’s been three years since I visited Vancouver, Canada (with my cargo bike via BoltBus) and while I was very impressed with the bike infrastructure back then — it’s even better now. The most notable new thing was a protected intersection.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I biked through the one at Quebec Street and 1st Avenue and it felt a lot like biking in the Netherlands.

We first crossed the well-marked, perpendicular bike path and had room to wait — protected by curbs — in front of stopped car traffic. Then a bright, cheery bike lane led us all the way through the intersection. The only thing missing was the mayhem of bikes everywhere and the rush of cycling cross-traffic racing through the end of the light cycle.

My children weren’t with me for this trip, but I was not without kid company. I was joined by a few friends including Lisa aka @spokesmama and her five and eight-year olds on their own bikes. During my last visit I carried my kids on my cargo bike through downtown Vancouver. We’ve also biked together (minimally) in downtown Portland and downtown Seattle. But it wasn’t the same as Vancouver. More protected bike lanes and protected intersections would make all the difference in the world for making downtown bicycling comfortable for my kids and me. Apparently a lot of people share my opinion because I’ve never tweeted a tweet with this much interest (granted most of the comments are two men arguing back and forth with each other).

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PBOT says this will be installed on West Burnside and 19th by the end of this summer.

Coincidentally, three years ago is also when BikePortland contributor Michael Andersen wrote about ideas on where Portland could use protected intersections, as put forth by the concept’s creator (and Portland resident) Nick Falbo.

Sadly, we haven’t implemented even one big downtown protected intersection since then. On the bright side, PBOT plans to build a partially protected intersection on West Burnside by the end of this summer.

Bike parking covered separation while approaching the protected intersection.

The white squares are called elephant’s feet.

Elephant’s feet
In addition to the new-to-me protected intersection, I learned about elephant’s feet, the white squares on the sides of the green bike lane through the intersection. These squares let people know they are not required to dismount and walk their bikes through the intersection — which they would otherwise be required to do in a crosswalk, since biking on sidewalks is not legal in Vancouver. All bike paths that cross streets have these elephant’s feet, and all the ones I saw flanked green bike lanes, making them easy to see. These are similar to Portland’s crossbikes, but I found them to be less confusing to use.

What are your thoughts on protected intersections? Where could we use these in Portland?

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

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Guest Opinion: A year of bad headlines for freeway expansion

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 09:48

— Written by Shawn Fleek (OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon), Mary Peveto (Neighbors for Clean Air), and Anaïs Tuepker (350PDX).

In 2017, the nascent No More Freeways coalition published an editorial in The Oregonian asking elected officials for an honest reassessment of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)’s plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the Rose Quarter Freeway in North Portland.

Since then, headlines over the last eighteen months have only confirmed that this is a gravely misguided project.

I-5 with Harriet Tubman Middle School in the background.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Last March, the Portland Mercury reported ODOT’s own consultants concluded the Rose Quarter freeway expansion wouldn’t have any discernible impact on congestion. This finding may be counterintuitive, but it is a textbook example of the concept of “induced demand,” a phrase transportation planners use to describe the phenomenon in which more lanes of freeways only lead to more eager motorists electing to drive. The Mercury also reported that, despite requests from advocates and elected officials, ODOT has refused to study whether decongestion pricing initiatives could solve the corridor’s gridlock by itself, without wasting hundreds of millions on a widening project that does nothing to reduce congestion.

Secondly – as a result of induced demand, our community will suffer from worse air quality and pollution. In May, the Willamette Week detailed the alarmingly poor air quality at Harriet Tubman Middle School. Researchers suggested students should avoid outdoor recess, and yet ODOT plans to literally expand I-5 into the backyard of the newly-reopened school. The latest studies on air pollution are grim – poor air quality is linked to lung disease, poor student performance, heart disease, dementia and diabetes. ODOT speaks to the importance of healing the Albina neighborhood’s scars from urban renewal, but it is impossible to heal these scars by further polluting air near children’s classrooms. Speaking of public health, ODOT has tried to sell the freeway widening as a safety project. But last October, Willamette Week punctured these phony claims, concluding that the stretch of freeway in question hasn’t seen a traffic fatality in over a decade. Meanwhile, ODOT’s regional arterials remain shockingly dangerous and deadly.

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Finally, squandering half a billion dollars widening a mile of freeway is an egregious form of reckless climate denialism. We’ve all felt the unease that permeates our communities when our neighborhoods are cloaked with the wildfire smoke that has draped itself through the Willamette Valley three of the past four summers. October’s IPCC report warned that phasing out fossil fuels in eleven years was essential to avoiding the destruction of society as we know it. Last month’s reporting by The Oregonian suggests that even with passage of pending carbon legislation, Oregon won’t hit carbon reduction targets without fundamentally reducing emissions from private automobiles. It is frustrating to watch self-proclaimed environmentalists in City Hall and Salem champion freeway expansion when 40% of Oregon’s carbon emissions come from transportation. The hurricanes, fires and floods are only growing stronger. Expansion of this freeway represents a complicit willingness to ignore Oregon’s responsibility to future generations and the planet.

Future headlines will only make it more self-evident that spending billions on freeway expansions across the region is a wholly inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars given the daunting challenges Oregon faces. We encourage Oregonians committed to cost-effective governance, our children’s lungs and the planet our children will inherit to join us in submitting testimony to ODOT during this Public Comment period.

— Shawn Fleek is the Director of Narrative Strategy at OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Mary Peveto is the Executive Director of Neighbors for Clean Air, and Anaïs Tuepker is the Lead for Organizational Resilience at 350PDX. Learn more at www.nomorefreewayspdx.com.

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Bikers on a budget get a break at the Community Cycling Center

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:13

The Community Cycling Center’s shop on NE Alberta — now more inviting for more budgets.
(Photos: The CCC)

In Portland, the lower your income, the more likely you are to use a bicycle to get to work. That’s also true on the national level, as Harvard’s Anne Lusk so adeptly pointed out in an article posted by CityLab this week.

Most discussions around this topic center on the need for infrastructure equity and access to safe streets for all. But what about access to the gear and products that can make the act of pedaling a bike more feasible and comfortable?

Portland’s Community Cycling Center (celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!) is dedicated to making cycling accessible to everyone. I recently learned they have Low Income Commuter Discount program at their bike shop on Alberta Street and asked Executive Director Kasandra Griffin to share more about it.

Griffin said the program has been available for about 10 years. For most of that time the program offered just a 10 percent discount on a limited number of items. But in 2016, with the cost of living in the neighborhoods around their shop continue to grow, the program expanded. Now those who qualify can get 20 percent off everything in the store, including new and used bikes and even service.

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The discount is available to anyone who receives income-based government benefits like Oregon Trail/SNAP or Oregon Health Plan. And you don’t have to be from Oregon. Live in Washington and have a “Quest Card”? They’ll accept that too.

Another recent change in the program came last year. Instead of requiring people to request the discount at the register each time they made a purchase, the discount information is now on file in the shop’s computer. Once a sales staffer can confirm a customer’s identity, the price reduction happens automatically. This means even if you forget to mention your eligibility, you still get the benefit.

With these changes, Griffin says the program is taking off. Last year the CCC gave out about $35,000 in discounts. This year they’re on track for over $50,000.

If you’re wondering how the CCC pays for this generous subsidy, they don’t. That is, they have no dedicated funding source for the program. It relies on donations from shop customers. According to Griffin, some people who get the discount have even opted to give a little back to help support others who need it more.

This is just one way the CCC helps people who have less money than others. Their Sunday Salvage program lets people buy used frames and other parts for super-low prices.

If you want more information about this program or can make a donation to help keep it going, check out CommunityCyclingCenter.org/bike-shop.

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

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Man suffers serious injuries in collision with skateboarder on Springwater Corridor path

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 10:08

View from Oaks Bottom path where it meets with the Springwater. Photo is from 2015 right after wands and striping were installed. Nguyen was coming from the left on the other side of this tunnel.

We regret to inform you about another situation where someone suffered serious injuries at a location with a known history for posing hazards to bicycle riders.

On January 29th just before noon, Hien Nguyen was biking northbound on the Springwater Corridor path. As he rolled downhill toward the intersection where another path intersects with the Springwater (about 1.8 miles south of the path entrance at SE Ivon Street, below the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge trailhead parking lot), Nguyen says a woman on a skateboard “appeared out of nowhere directly toward my path.” Nguyen didn’t hit the woman, but he ran over her skateboard, flew over the handlebars and landed head first on the pavement.

“Parks & Recreation will look into any further possible safety improvements.”
— Mark Ross, PP&R public information officer

Nguyen lost consciousness, suffered a concussion, received multiple abrasions on his face and bruises over much of his body. He was rushed to a local hospital for an MRI and released after a few hours. “The doctors said without the helmet, my injuries could be life threatening,” he shared with me via email.

The woman on the skateboard was coasting prior to the collision and Nguyen claims she didn’t stop at all at the stop sign.

Back in January 2015, following a similar incident at this same location, the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau set out to improve safety where these two paths intersect. By the end of April they’d installed new pavement markings and plastic delineator wands, along with a stop sign facing Oaks Bottom path users.

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Time for a roundabout?
(Graphic: Paikiala)

Before Parks installed those path safety updates, we shared an idea from a BikePortland commenter who thought a mini-roundabout would be a much more effective solution. Others pushed for convex mirrors to aid visibility.

It’s impossible to prevent all collisions from happening, but I wonder if more could be done in this location. Parks’ Public Information Officer Mark Ross said staff are aware of Nguyen’s incident. A Parks safety manager has been in touch with Nguyen and they’ve scheduled a site visit to make sure all the new safety signage is still in place. Ross also says the agency, “Will look into any further possible safety improvements.” “However it is notable,” added Ross, “That the skateboarder ignored a stop sign at high speed. People simply must act with others in mind when utilizing multi-use paths and trails. It’s common sense, for everyone’s safety.”

For Nguyen, the collision has profoundly shaken his confidence. “I’m an experienced and cautious rider with ten of thousands of accident-free miles over the years,” he says. “And here I was, riding on one of the safest trails when it happened.” Nguyen thinks a speed bump on the Oaks Bottom path and more warning signs might help.

Do you ride this section of the path? Do you think more should be done to improve safety?

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

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Touting list of benefits, ODOT releases I-5 Rose Quarter project environmental assessment

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:54

As expected, the Oregon Department of Transportation released the Environmental Assessment for the I-5 Rose Quarter Project today. Now the clock starts ticking on the 45-day comment period.

The Assessment is very lengthy and technical. It’s easy to understand why PBOT Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, the Audubon Society of Portland, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, No More Freeways, and dozens of other groups requested more time to analyze the documents and prepare their feedback.

We’ll be taking a closer look at the Assessment, particularly its findings on the project’s impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, traffic volumes, and so on. Another valuable things this EA document provides is a clear look at the bicycling infrastructure elements of the project (something we’re overdue on sharing in detail here on the front page).

Routes are various segments of I-5 between I-84 and the Fremont Bridge.

A few things of note that I found in a quick scan is that ODOT claims that if they build the project GHG will actually go down (versus current conditions). They also promise that the new lanes will come with an increase in speeds and substantial time savings for I-5 users. “The build alternative is a safety improvement project that would not substantially improve highway capacity and would not be expected to induce growth or create other effects that would cause indirect impacts,” states the Climate Change Technical Report (on page 34).

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Also of note is the Executive Summary where ODOT addresses “anticipated adverse impacts” of the project. Where I think many transportation reform-minded readers would consider the expansion of an urban freeway and the improvements to driving access that comes with it to present obvious adverse impacts (by encouraging the use of the most inefficient and destructive form of transportation available), in their answer to this question ODOT only lists negative impacts that would occur during construction.

Here’s a summary of the main findings as provided in a statement by ODOT:

Improved safety for all transportation modes – New crossings over I-5, protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks, improved striping and upgraded signals would mean safer local streets and new connections for everyone. On I-5, new shoulders would give disabled vehicles a way to get out of travel lanes and new ramp-to-ramp connections will mean less stop and go traffic, less emergency braking and more time and space for drivers to merge, which will reduce frequent crashes and improve travel times.

Improved air quality – The assessment modeled air pollutant emissions, which found that air quality would slightly improve with the project, as compared to not building the project. The estimated reduction in emissions caused by the project would likely be due to the higher speeds and less idling on the highway and reduced congestion from the project. Building the project “is not expected to cause air quality impacts nor contribute to cumulative effects on air quality beyond temporary construction effects, which would be addressed by requiring contractors to implement a variety of mitigation measures.”

Slightly decreased carbon emissions. As with the reduction in overall air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions would slightly reduce with the project, as compared to not building the project. Emissions would be slightly better with the project due to reduced congestion and fewer starts and stops within the project area. “Because greenhouse gas emissions have been identified as a primary cause of climate change effects, any potential decrease in these emissions would be expected to support emission-reduction efforts intended to reduce future climate-related impacts,’” the assessment found.

Benefits for communities – The assessment found that the project, as proposed, would improve access to public transit; improve mobility and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders; and improve connections to areas east and west of I-5 provided by the new highway covers and the Clackamas bicycle/pedestrian overcrossing.

A proposed sound wall would reduce noise levels. A sound wall, recommended for the area between I-5 and Harriet Tubman Middle School, would reduce highway noise inside the school. “This would be a beneficial reduction in noise compared to existing noise levels at the school,” the environmental assessment found.

You can view all the documents here. ODOT has also just released an online open house that will be available through April 1st. Happy reading, and let us know if you find anything interesting. We’ll be posting more here on the Front Page in the coming weeks.

In related news, the No More Freeways coalition is hosting a volunteer orientation event this coming Wednesday, February 20th. They’re looking for people to help them hand out flyers, testify, plan events, and strategize.

ODOT will host a public open house on March 7th from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Leftbank Annex (101 N Weidler) and the big public hearing will take place on March 12th from 4:30 to 6:00 pm at the Oregon Convention Center.

Once you’re ready to comment, you can do so via email to ODOT (Attn: Megan Channell, 123 NW Flanders St., Portland Oregon 97209), by leaving a message at (503) 423-3760, or by emailing info@i5rosequarter.org.

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

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City unveils dates for 2019 Sunday Parkways events

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 17:01

Sunday Parkways is full of love.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has fittingly used the day of love to unveil the 2019 Sunday Parkways season.

As per usual, there will be five events this year and the routes will touch every quadrant except the southwest hills.

As for any new offerings this year, PBOT says they’ll have a stronger focus on walking. They’ve planned a series of walks inspired by the Parks for New Portlanders that partner with local organizations and community leaders. There will be special walking routes at four of the five events.

Here are the routes and details for this year’s events (Green Loop route not released yet):

Southeast – May 19th

Are you ready for the first event of the year?! Yes, we hear you. We are too! See you in May as we cruise along inner Southeast Portland to enjoy a delicious dose of summer time magic. This route will explore the neighborhood greenways of Ankeny, Clinton, Lincoln, Salmon, Taylor streets and more. While you’re at it, don’t forget to dance, grab a bite to eat and learn something new.

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North – June 30th

Don’t forget to bring some gold with you to this event! Just kidding, but we will be celebrating our 50th Sunday Parkways ride. This year, the June event will take place at the last Sunday of the month and will take you through a charming 9.5 mile double loop course. Every Body Rides will return and will be located at Arbor Lodge Park adjacent to the universally accessible Harper’s Playgound.

Outer Northeast – July 21st

The Outer Northeast (ONE) event has been moved to July! Yippee!! And on top of that, we have made this a shorter route, making it easier for families and friends to either bike or walk it. The third year on this route, we have even more fun for you! 2019 marks the return to Hazelwood Hydro Park and allows us to debut a new park brimming with trees – John Luby Park.

Green Loop – August 25th

We will return to the historic North Park Blocks, a green oasis downtown along with other engaging downtown and inner eastside gems for our August route. This route inspired by the Green Loop presents a bold new concept featured in the Central City 2035 Plan that envisions a linear park connecting nearly a dozen districts. This linear park will stop by countless cultural hot spots like the Portland Art Museum, North Blocks and the Rose Quarter. It’ll be a playground for all ages.

Northeast – September 22nd

All good parties must come to an end, but we intend to have fun up until the end! That’s why we will end the year with an exploration of the Northeast neighborhood greenways on this 8-mile loop. While sweeping by on your wheels or heels, make sure to enjoy the walking/biking boulevard of Ainsworth along with the neighborhood greenways of Going street, Holman street and Alberta Court. It’s the final event of the season, you won’t want to miss it!

Stay updated by following Sunday Parkways on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: A commenter pointed out that Milwaukie is doing their own “Car(e)free Sunday” event this year on August 4th. Get down there and check it out!

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

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