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Updated: 15 weeks 13 hours ago

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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PBOT will install a bus/bike only lane on SW Madison this weekend

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:51

Coming soon to SW Madison!

The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced the construction of its first Central City in Motion (CCIM) project today: SW Madison – one of the busiest bikeways in Portland — will get a dedicated bus operation and bicycling lane that will be separated from other traffic. The project aims to speed up bus trips, make it safer to ride a bike, and lower the the stress of drivers by giving them clear separation from other road users.

Portland City Council passed the CCIM plan back in November and this will be the first project from the plan to be implemented.

PBOT says the project should be completed over the weekend at a cost of just $160,000.

In addition to the new lane configuration, PBOT says the project includes, “a passing zone to help people on bikes bypass buses at stops and prohibits right turns onto SW 3rd Avenue to remove the risk of right hooks for people walking and biking.”

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(TriMet video)

That last part is a very big deal. Almost seven years ago today, 28-year-old Kathryn Rickson was bicycling down Madison when a truck operator turned right at SW 3rd. The two collided and Rickson was killed.

Looking east on SW Madison at 3rd. Note the right turn (which will no longer be allowed) and the cars parked in upper center (which will no longer be allowed).
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Another significant aspect of this project is that space for the new bus/bike only lane was made available because PBOT was able to use space currently used as on-street parking for Portland Police Bureau and other City of Portland vehicles.

Madison is not only a major bikeway, it handles more than 23,000 bus trips each day. Enhanced bus lanes are part of nine out of the 18 total CCIM projects.

When CCIM passed, there was broad skepticism about how long it would take to actually implement the projects. “We were serious when we promised a quick implementation of Central City in Motion,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in an official statement released by PBOT.

In their announcement today, PBOT included a quote from Business for a Better Portland Executive Director Ashley Henry. “While employment in the Central City continues to grow, our streets aren’t getting any wider. This project is an excellent example of a rapid, thoughtful infrastructure improvement that can produce real benefits for area businesses by providing safer and more reliable trips through downtown for employees and customers.”

It’s notable that PBOT included a statement from BBPDX and not from the Portland Business Alliance.

This is great news! We are very excited to see progress and to see PBOT, Commissioner Eudaly, Portland Bus Lane project (a grassroots advocacy group that has worked on this project for years) and Business for a Better Portland come together and make this happen.

Onward!

Bonus: PBOT has also released details on the next two CCIM projects that will be built within 2019-2020: The Burnside Bus/Bike Lane Project and the NW Everett Bus Lane Project (which will be built this fall).

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

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New shop in southeast caters to fixed gear fans

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 11:04

Retrogression’s home page.

Portland has a new bike shop whose owners hope to be a part of the local fixed-gear and track riding scene.

Retrogression (2315 SE 11th Ave, just north of Division) is owned and operated by Dave Gattinella and Angie Beaulieu. Fixed-gear riders themselves, Gattinella and Beaulieu couldn’t find track-related parts and gear at local bike shops, so they started sourcing their own.

Retrogression started as an online-only shop in 2009 and opened a brick-and-mortar location in Massachusetts shortly thereafter (they are both from New England). They moved the business to San Diego a few years later; but quickly outgrew their space and went on the hunt to find a new location that would offer them a combination of warehouse (for the online business) and retail shop.

They found it in Portland.

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Need a frame to start a new build project?

“We love Portland, have a big online customer base here and found the perfect space for the shop,” Beaulieu shared in an email last week. “It just made sense.”

“We love Portland, have a big online customer base here and found the perfect space for the shop. It just made sense.”
— Angie Beaulieu, co-owner

As we shared in a story last year, Portland has a vibrant fixed-gear scene: From urban freestylers and messengers to track and criterium racers — and people who simply like the affordability and simplicity of the bikes.

Asked to describe her typical customer, Beaulieu said, “Our customer range is awesome: everyone from casual street riders and bike messengers, to seasoned track racers and nerdy NJS collectors [Nihon Jitensha Shinkōkai, the Japanese Bicycle Association]. They are all looking for something slightly different, but it all falls into the realm of fixed gear.”

Retrogression sells complete bikes from All-City, Aventon, Cinelli, and State Bicycle Co., framesets for many makers, offers custom wheel-building, and has a wide range of hard-to-find caps and apparel.

The retail store isn’t quite ready for customers yet. They’re still building out the space and plan to have a grand opening party and alley cat (of course!) event in early June. Learn more about the shop via their About Us page.

Welcome to Portland Retrogression!

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

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Jobs of the Week: eBike Store, Forum Law Group, Showers Pass, Castelli, Joe Bike, Universal Cycles

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 09:53

Portland’s spring hiring boom continued this past week with several great new listings.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Full Time Mechanic – The eBike Store, Inc

–> Legal Assistant – Forum Law Group LLC

–> Customer Care Specialist – Showers Pass

–> Warehouse Worker – Castelli US

–> Seasonal Mechanic – Joe Bike

–> Mechanic/Wheel Builder/Bike Builder – Universal Cycles

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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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Weekend Event Guide: Gravel, East County forum, Sunday Parkways, bike security workshop, and more

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 08:53

Time to plan an escape from the city. This scene is from Westfir, a few miles north of the Office Covered Bridge on the North Fork of the Willamette River (I’m here for the Sasquatch Duro Saturday, then headed to Dufur for Cycle Oregon Gravel on Sunday!).
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to our weekly selection of the best things to do on a bike, with a bike, or with bike people.

Oh, and happy National Bike to Work Day!

All Weekend

Filmed by Bike
Portland’s very-own bicycle-inspired film fest returns for its 17th year. Word on the street is that this year’s films break new ground and offer a great diversity of perspectives. From the parties to the screenings, don’t miss any of the action! More info here.

Cycle Oregon Gravel
Destination Dufur. Cycle Oregon brings their amazing hospitality to eastern Oregon for a weekend of unpaved fun for their second annual Gravel event. More info here

Friday, May 17th

Enhanced Transit Corridors Seminar – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at PSU (SW)
Portland is making big moves to prioritize transit. Come learn the latest and greatest from the agency staffers who are leading the charge. More info here.

Saturday, May 18th

Sasquatch Duro – All day in Oakridge/Westfir
Stop number two in the Oregon Triple Crown series takes place in the Willamette National Forest. With two routes starting from downtown Oakridge, this event will take you into the woods along the legendary Aufderheide Scenic Byway next to the North Fork of the Willamette River. More info here.

East County Transportation Forum – 11:00 am to 1:30 pm at Rosewood Initiative (SE)
East County Rising will host this panel and Q & A that will feature U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey, Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales. More info here.

Bike Registration and Security Workshop – 1:00 to 4:00 pm at Clever Cycles (SE)
Worried about bike theft? Want to know how to protect yourself? Come out and learn how to use Bike Index and meet members of the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force. Special discounts on Abus locks for everyone who registers their bike at the event. More info here.

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Sandy Ridge Intro Tour – 1:30 to 4:00 pm at Sandy Ridge Trail System
This group ride hosted by NW Trail Alliance is the perfect way to get familiar with Sandy Ridge. Meet nice people, learn the trails, what’s not to love? More info here.

Sunday, May 19th

Meet Portland Bicycling Club – 9:30 am from Parkrose Park & Ride (SE)
Leisurely group ride that will introduce you to Portland’s oldest cycling club and help you build your riding skills. Route is mostly flat and easy and includes a stop at a cafe in Vancouver. More info here.

Therapeutic Associates Omnium – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Alpenrose Velodrome (SW)
Come out to the track for some racing action. Event hosted by Battlekat PDX. More info here.

Sunday Parkways Southeast – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm (SE)
So much good stuff in store for the first Sunday Parkways of the year. Come out and explore parks, neighborhoods, and partake in the many activities 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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Climate concerns dominate Metro ‘T2020’ task force meeting

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 10:30

“We will be watching,” was the warning from Sunrise PDX activists.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Concerns about climate change were made loud and clear to Metro’s Transportation Funding Task Force at their meeting last night. Metro is leading an effort to raise what some say could be as much as $20 billion for transportation infrastructure around the regional via a bond measure that could go to voters in November.

As lines are drawn on maps, lines are being drawn in the sand by electeds and advocates looking to stake out positions for debates to come.

“If we don’t make it clear to the public that our top priority is averting climate catastrophe, I don’t see it passing in Portland. And we need Portland to carry this measure.”
— Chloe Eudaly, Portland City Commissioner

This was the sixth meeting of the 35-member Task Force, which is made up of elected officials and advocates from around the region. With their input, Metro has whittled a list of 75 corridors down to 26. Now the job is to place these in three tiers. Metro wants the Task Force to recommend a prioritized list of “investment corridors” in time for a Metro Council work session on June 4th.

At last night’s meeting, dozens of Portlanders — and several notable Task Force members — elevated concerns about the process and whether or not Metro is doing enough to set the stage for an investment package that would lead to a dramatic reduction in vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. There was widespread concern that some of the corridors at the top of the list are merely placeholders for future freeway expansion projects that could increase driving capacity.

The “corridors of interest.”

Kasandra Griffin with the Community Cycling Center and the Getting There Together Coalition opened the public comment period by saying, “According to Metro’s adopted policies, the priorities for this process are simple: Only pick projects that will reduce climate change and increase equity.” Griffin then suggested that four corridors Metro staff has recommended as a top priority should be removed from Tier 1 consideration: Highway 212 (Sunrise Corridor), I-5 through downtown Portland, Highway 217 and I-205.

Those corridors “represent old thinking,” Griffin said*.

Suzanna Kassouf.

Volunteers with the Portland chapter of the national Sunrise Movement showed up in force last night. Wearing matching t-shirts, a few of them testified and about a dozen others were in attendance. 29-year-old Sunrise PDX Organizer Suzanna Kassouf said transportation justice is “at the very heart” of her group’s effort to “radically transform our societies and economies before our climate fate is sealed (in 11 years).”

“We are extremely concerned by the lack of priority placed on public transit as well as pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in a city which considers itself a climate leader,” Kassouf said. “Many residents who depend on this infrastructure are members of our frontline communities. Specifically, low-income people of color, like myself.”

Kassouf said Metro’s bond measure is an opportunity to fund a Green New Deal for Oregon. “The young people in this room will live through the next sixty years, through the entire life-cycle of the decisions you are making, and through the worst, most destructive effects of the climate crisis if we do not act… The entirety of this package must be dedicated to the transition away from fossil fuels. The time is now to be brave. The time is now to be bold. Please, do the right thing. We will be watching.”

17-year-old Reynolds High School student Victoria Clark echoed Kassouf’s urgency by pleading with the Task Force: “I should be focusing on the fact that I’m graduating in less than a month,” she said, “but instead I’m… begging you to make the right choice and invest in our planet’s future.”

After public comment, Task Force members heard a presentation (PDF) about the readiness of specific corridors from consultants with Kittelson Associates Inc. They focused on the top three scoring corridors: Tualatin-Valley Highway, 82nd Avenue, and McLoughlin Blvd.

Metro’s proposed Tier 1 corridors.

Then Metro’s Director of Government Affairs Andy Shaw unveiled the agency’s first attempt to place corridors in specific tiers. Their proposal for Tier 1 corridors includes: 82nd Ave, Tualatin Valley Hwy, 181st Ave, McLoughlin Blvd, Hwy 212, Burnside, Downtown Portland, I-5 Downtown, SW Corridor, and SW 185th. In a potential Tier 2 list, he included: Powell Blvd, 122nd Ave, MLK/Grand, Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Foster Rd., Division St., Columbia Blvd, 162nd Ave, 99W/Pacific Hwy, Hwy 217, Tualatin-Sherwood Rd, Hwy 43/Macadam, and Sandy Blvd.

Then it was time for Task Force members to speak up. A facilitator said she wanted to get a “gut reaction” and asked members to hold up green, yellow, or red cards to express how they were feeling about the corridor discussion so far.

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(L to R: Mark Gamba, Vivian Satterfield, Chloe Eudaly, Jim Bernard.)

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba was one of several people to thrust up a red card. “Virtually every single piece of public testimony we’ve had has spoken clearly and emotionally that the number one thing we have to think about is, ‘What are the climate impacts of this investment we are going to make?’… This is the only opportunity we will have to put this level of investment into our transportation sytstem in time to stop climate change. Climate change absolutely, positively, has to be the number one issue — and yet — of the categories being scored, climate isn’t even one of the categories,” he said.

“This process we have used for the decades — of piddling around, doing all these things before we actually get down to doing the thing that needs doing — has got to end.”
— Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie

Gamba expressed concern that Metro’s scoring only considers safety, equity, transit potential and readiness. He wants an evaluation of how much carbon reduction would result from investment in each corridor under consideration.

“Readiness should be the very last thing we’re considering. When the U.S. was bombed in Pearl Harbor, how ready were we for war? And yet how quickly, and how decisively did we then win that war. This process we have used for the decades of piddling around, doing all these things before we actually get down to doing the thing that needs doing has got to end. We have 11 years. Climate must be the number one consideration on this list.”

The room then erupted in several seconds of applause.

Task Force member Vivian Satterfield, an environmental justice advocate with Verde NW, expressed worries that some of the top tier corridors wouldn’t deliver high-capacity transit service. “I cannot in good conscience go forward and put my name and my organization behind anything that continues to expand and add road capacity to our region,” she said.

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly echoed Gamba’s remarks. “I’m surprised that climate is not clearly one of the determining criteria,” she said. “I’m not interested in decreasing congestion by making it easier for more cars to move through our streets.” Then Eudaly tied climate change concerns directly to politics: “This initiative is a statement of our values. If we don’t make it clear to the public that our top priority is averting climate catastrophe, I don’t see it passing in Portland. And we need Portland to carry this measure.”

Some of the tension in the room was the result of a common, chicken-and-egg problem that happens with processes like this: Agencies need general feedback on where to invest, but stakeholders need detailed information in order to give it. And given that the legacy of transportation funding has gone primarily to highway expansions, there’s an understandable lack of trust among progressive politicians and activists.

Task Force Co-Chair and Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson.

Task Force Co-Chair Jessica Vega Pederson tried to walk a line down the middle. She said staff told Task Force members that some metrics — like climate change — wouldn’t be possible to measure until after projects got more developed. Then Vega Pederson explained why she feels I-5 through Portland should be a priority. “I don’t have any desire to help ODOT fund a highway expansion project,” she said, “But I’m very interested in using investments in that area to connect neighborhoods in Portland that haven’t been connected before.”

Task Force member and Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard said he too agrees with Gamba’s climate sentiments, but feels Hwy 212 (aka Sunrise Corridor) needs to be expanded. “It’s one of the fastest growing communities in the state of Oregon, and transit is poor,” he said. “The Sunrise Corridor opens up a lot of land for opportunity… For me, it’s about the jobs-housing balance.”

The lines are being drawn and it will be a very interesting debate from here on out.

“Ultimately we need to put together a package that resonates with our values and with voters,” Vega Pederson said in closing remarks. “I’m confident we can get there.”

As Task Force members filed out of Metro HQ, they were serenaded with songs about hope and love from Sunrise PDX:

*The Getting Together Coalition has released their tiered corridor recommendations. Read the PDF here.

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

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Portland set to adopt Tryon Creek Cove Trail Master Plan

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 06:56

The plan includes a new bridge over Tryon Creek where it empties into the Willamette.
(Image: Tryon Creek Cove Trail Master Plan, Metro)

An ordinance in front of Portland City Council this week will hasten implementation of a plan that will improve the biking and walking connection between Tryon Creek State Park and Foothills Park in Lake Oswego and build a new bridge over Tryon Creek adjacent to the Willamette River.

Tryon Creek State Park is in the upper left. (Graphic: Metro)

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services is set to formally adopt the Tryon Creek Cove Trail Master Plan which was completed in March and formally adopted by Lake Oswego City Council last month.

The plan (PDF) considered two options for how to get people across Highway 43 near the intersection with Terwilliger Blvd: a full traffic signal or a tunnel. A third option, which would keep path users on the highway and direct them a half-mile south to cross using an existing traffic signal at Foothills Road, was kept on the table, as a “possible interim solution if other options were found to be infeasible or were long delayed.”

The project advisory committee chose the third option.

Looking west at Highway 43 with Foothills Park in lower left, Tryon Creek State Park in upper right.

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(These two options would have provided a more direct connection, but were not recommended by project advisory committee due to cost and complexity concerns.)

Proposed dimensions of $1.1 million bridge over Tryon Creek.

In their recommendation later dated March 26th, 2019 (PDF), the committee wrote, “At this time, the recommendation is to not cross Hwy. 43 with the trail due to approval by Oregon Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad, potential right-of-way acquisition needs, complexity of permits, the need to widen the highway on the north side of Terwilliger Blvd., and high costs ($8-$13 million).”

Instead of a new signal or tunnel that would make a direct connection between the two existing parks and paths, the committee recommended a phased approach (see below). The cost estimate of this recommended approach is about $1.5 million which includes a prefabricated steel bridge over the creek and a 3-4 foot wide soft surface trail (“nature pathway”) in the cove. The narrow trail is considered an interim step. If/when the tunnel or signal option is implemented, a 10-12 foot multi-use path would be installed in its place.

Here’s the recommended alternative showing the on-highway route:

Recommended by the project advisory committee.

This project takes on added significance given the Oak Grove-Lake Oswego Bridge project. This planned bridge (which we covered in February 2018) would create a carfree connection between the two cities and would likely connect directly to new paths in Tryon Cove Park. Clackamas County is currently leading a a Metro-funded, $306,000 planning study to further develop the project. The study is expected to be completed by November of this year.

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

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Checking in on ‘T2020,’ Metro’s transportation funding measure

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 10:11

Metro’s map of highest scoring investment corridors.

We’re now three months since the official launch of Metro’s effort to raise funds for transportation infrastructure via a bond measure that could go to voters in 2020.

This is likely to be the most consequential transportation funding decision in our region’s history. With activism heating up and outlines of the measure being drawn, it’s time to put T2020 on your radar.

The Basics

Task Force co-chairs are county commissioners Jessica Vega Pederson (L) and Pam Treece (R).

As the elected government that oversees federal transportation spending for the entire region, Metro is a natural leader of this effort. The agency likes their chances to pass a transportation bond given that voters approved a $653 million bond for affordable housing back in November. According to The Oregonian, the total ask could be as much as $20 billion when all is said and done.

Complete list of Task Force members.

Back in February, Metro kicked off the planning process to decide where and how to spend that money when the 35-member Transportation Funding Task Force met for the first time. They’ve met five times since then. Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and Washington County Commissioner Pam Treece are co-chairs.

Advocacy

f
Will this thing be full of freeway expansions and leave crumbs left for everything else (like the State of Oregon’s 2017 transportation package)? Or will it be bold enough to smash the driving-centric status quo that’s destroying the earth and our lives more each passing day?

With so much at stake, transportation advocates from all backgrounds hope to influence the process. As expected, a key tension in this bond debate is how much of the measure’s revenue will go toward projects that increase access to driving, versus projects that encourage walking, biking, and transit.

Take the Survey

They won’t know if you don’t tell them.

The Getting There Together Coalition formed in 2017 and includes 25 organizations who want to make sure the bond makes the region more “livable for all”. Members include The Street Trust, WashCo Bikes, Oregon Walks, AARP Oregon, Disability Rights Oregon, APANO, and so on. Specifically, their priorities include: safety, public transit, a transparent process, prevention of displacement, and increasing access to transportation.

During public comment sessions at previous Task Force meetings, people have spoken most loudly about how the bond measure must aggressively tackle the issue of climate change. No More Freeways, a group that has come to prominence by organizing strong opposition to ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter Project, is also engaged around T2020. The group live-tweeted the April Task Force meeting and they have organized climate and Green New Deal advocates to show up to the May meeting which takes place this evening (5/15).

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It’s still early days, but the Task Force has already begun to sketch out “corridors” where funds would be targeted. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Metro is a regional entity and wants to invest in infrastructure that crosses jurisdictional lines. And the “corridor” lens is already familiar to the agency. Metro’s 2014 Regional Active Transportation Plan identified 24 “mobility corridors” region-wide.

Based on input from the Task Force, Metro staff identified 75 potential investment corridors. After a scoring exercise, 26 corridors were placed in three different tiers: equity, potential for high transit ridership, and “high safety need.” (You can read a description of each corridor here.)

Here’s the breakdown of each category:

Equity
• NE/SE MLK/Grand Ave
• Tualatin-Valley Highway
• I-5, downtown Portland
• SW 185th Ave
• Downtown Portland
• SE Foster Blvd
• SE Powell Blvd
• NE/SE 122nd Ave
• NE/SE 162nd Ave
• N/NE Columbia Blvd Transit ridership potential
• 82nd Ave
• Tualatin Valley Highway
• SE McLoughlin Blvd
• SE Powell Blvd
• Burnside Street
• Downtown Portland
• NE/SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd./Grand Ave
• NE/SE 122nd
• Sandy Blvd
• SW 185th Ave High safety need
• SE Division St
• 82nd Ave
• 122nd Ave
• Powell Blvd
• NE/SE MLK/Grand
• SW 185th Ave
• NE/SE 181st/C2C (Clackamas to Columbia)
• Sandy Blvd
• Burnside Ave What’s next?

The Task Force is expected to discuss the corridors gain at their meeting this evening and make a recommendation to Metro Council at their next meeting May 29th. Council plans to vote in spring 2020 on whether or not to refer the measure to voters.

As the Task Force continues to meet and activists begin to circle their wagons, Metro has just released the Getting Around Greater Portland survey.

With so much at stake, how many political compromises will leaders make? How far will advocates be able to shift the Overton window around what’s acceptable in terms of investment priorities? Suffice it to say, many questions remain.

Stay tuned to @BikePortland on Twitter for live updates from tonight’s Task Force meeting. Also check out Metro’s website for more information.

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

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Portland State’s cycling team has the second-coolest kit in the nation

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 13:34

(Designed by Portland-based graphic artist and photographer Gavin Rear. Photos by Gavin Rear.)

A kit designed in Portland (by Gavin Rear) and made by a Portland-based company (Castelli US) for a Portland-based team has been singled out for recognition by America’s sanctioning body for bicycle racing.

USA Cycling announced last week that the Portland State University Cycling Team earned runner-up honors for Best Kit of 2019. The inaugural contest was held via USA Cycling’s Instagram where followers chose their favorite team kits from 64 teams around the country. (The winner was Colorado School of Mines, also made by Castelli.)

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(Photos by Joe Flannery)

Here’s what the team had to say about their great looking kit:

“When we were working on the new kit design our goal was to create something that could be raced in after the collegiate season was over. A piece that wouldn’t feel out of place at the local races, whether it was cyclocross or road. One of our teammates took the photos at one of our favorite roads for team rides. The new kit came alive amongst the greenery during the photo shoot. We also have a favorite sock combo for this kit, which are the matcha digi camo socks made by The Athletic. The Athletic is a local sock company that has been supporting PSU Cycling for many years, so we try our best to show off their socks as much as we can.”

The PSU Cycling Team competes in the NW Collegiate Cycling Conference where they were crowned Division Champs in 2014 and 2014. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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

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