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Updated: 3 hours 6 min ago

New Steel Bridge Skatepark would create plaza destination in Old Town

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 14:14

View of proposed plaza looking north from Everett Street.
(Images: DAO Architecture)

There’s a renewed effort to build an urban plaza and skatepark at the west end of the Steel Bridge. The location — a vacant lot bordered by NW Naito Parkway, 1st Avenue, and Everett — is at the intersection of several key existing and future bike routes including the upcoming Flanders Neighborhood Greenway.

Overhead view of the site (in color).

Architects and advocates from Skaters for Portland Skateparks say improved access to and through the site is a top priority.

The proposed site has been eyed by advocates since 2001 when Portland’s first skatepark was built at Pier Park in St. Johns. In the Skatepark System Plan completed by Portland Parks & Recreation in 2008, the Steel Bridge site was considered the system’s crown jewel and one of 19 locations recommended for further study (six of which have been built). In 2011, Portland-based DAO Architecture developed a plan for the site (available here) under the guidance of the City of Portland and an advisory committee.

That 2011 plan won several awards and the project was lauded as a “21st century urban plaza that is skatable” (bikable too!). According to people close the project, the idea has always been to create not just a space for skateboarding, scootering, and BMX riding, but a public space that would be a major riverfront destination in a location that sorely needs more attention. Unfortunately two previous attempts to break ground on the plaza fell through: the first time due to politics, the second time due to the recession in 2010.

Now with renewed interest in Old Town development and momentum around infrastructure projects adjacent to the site, advocates feel like the time is right for another push. Joining DAO Architects and Skaters for Portland Skateparks is NW Skate Coalition and members of the Old Town Community Association (OTCA). Howard Weiner, owner of Cal Skate and former chair of the OTCA, attended a meeting to discuss the project yesterday. There’s also a new “Build the Portland Steel Bridge Skatepark” Facebook page.

Working in favor of the skatepark is broad community support and two Portland Bureau of Transportation projects: the Flanders Neighborhood Greenway and Central City in Motion Project #7.

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“There was always a push to build the jewel of our system… we have an opportunity, and I think we should pursue it.”
— Howard Weiner, Cal Skate

The Flanders bikeway is meant to connect NW 24th and Waterfront Park. Currently, Flanders comes to a dead-end at the proposed site of the skatepark. How will it cross the lot and Naito to get to the park? PBOT has tried for many years to get a new crossing between the Waterfront Park paths near the Steel Bridge and 1st Avenue, but Union Pacific Railroad and ODOT’s Rail Division have made progress very difficult. A plan we shared in 2015 showed that PBOT wants the crossing to go at the north end of the skatepark site. Money and the final design for that crossing hasn’t materialized, but with the Flanders Greenway officially starting last October, PBOT has renewed urgency to make it happen. However it remains unclear in current plans where the crossing would go. A request to PBOT for comment has not been returned.

The Central City in Motion plan adopted by council in November also has implications for the skatepark site. Project #7 will reconfigure NW Everett to include an enhanced bus lane and — most importantly — would decommission the existing on-ramp that goes through the skatepark site. Removal of that ramp was listed as the top action for progress in the 2011 DAO plan.

While momentum has ramped up, challenges remain. The price tag, at one time thought to be around $8 million, means advocates will have to seek private funding — especially given the current budget deficit at the Parks Bureau. And while the location is ideal in some ways — Tom Miller, founder of Skaters for Portland Skateparks said, “From a transportation perspective it’s perfect” — it also suffers from a complicated web of jurisdictional boundaries. PBOT manages the city streets, Parks is in charge of the riverfront paths, and ODOT owns the ramps on and off of the Steel Bridge (and their Region 1 headquarters overlooks the site).

“I’m really rooting for this! I think we are ready for a community focused public project that invests in our future and creates something beautiful for future generations.”— Catherine Odell, Saturdary Market vendor and NW Skate Coalition board member

For Old Town Community Association member Ryan Hashagen, those challenges can be overcome. “The time is right to get it done,” he shared today. Hashagen says the ad hoc group working on the project thinks a good chunk of funding could come from Prosper Portland, the city’s development commission. As detailed in The Oregonian last fall, a major Old Town/Chinatown redevelopment plan passed under former Mayor Charlies Hales still has $50 million in allocated funds that have yet to be spent. Citing its ability to activate public space and add connectivity to the neighborhood, Hashagen said, “The skatepark ticks several boxes that make it compete well for funding through the Old Town Action Plan.”

Howard Weiner, owner of Cal Skate skateboard shop in Old Town/Chinatown, said he’s excited the project is getting a new look. Nearly a decade after the recession killed the project, Weiner said Portland has grown and is in a much different place. “There was always a push to build the jewel of our system,” he shared on the phone with me today. “And with skateboarding coming to the Olympics in 2020 and the future of the Burnside Skatepark uncertain [due to a major seismic retrofit project], we have an opportunity, and I think we should pursue it.”

Catherine Odell owns a business that has a vending space at the nearby Saturday Market. She’s also a board member of the NW Skate Coaltion. “I’m really rooting for this,” she shared with me via email today. “Not only does it activate an unused space, it creates a natural flow between classic Portland attractions like the Saturday Market and the Chinese Garden, as well as creating the perfect link to crossing to the East Side and landing in the heart of Rip City!”

Odell thinks the new plaza and skatepark would make Portland proud of itself again. Why now? “Portland has undergone a lot of change, and a lot of that growth has placed more barriers between us. I think we are ready for a community focused public project like this one, that invests in our future and creates something beautiful for future generations.”

For more on the project, peruse the 2011 study (funded by the City of Portland) and follow SkatePortland.org. In related skatepark news, don’t miss the Disposable Youth photo show at See See Motorcycles (1642 NE Sandy) featuring the work of Dean Dickinson on March 2nd where half of photo sales will benefit the Powell Park Skatepark.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Mini Bike Winter, live storytelling, slough ramble, and more

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 09:35


You never know what — or who — will show up to the Mini Bike Winter Chariot Wars. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s almost time for the weekend and we’ve got some event picks for you.

Looks like it’ll be wet and who knows what else, so make sure you double-check any rides/events you plan to attend to make sure they’re still happening.

Have fun out there!

Friday, February 15th

Flat Fix Clinic – 12:00 pm at PSU Bike Hub (SW)
Been meaning to learn how to fix your own flat and gain basic bike repair skills? The friendly folks at Portland State University’s awesome bike shop can help with that. More info here.

We have an opening for a sponsor of the Weekend Event Guide and the BP Calendar.
It’s a great opportunity! Contact us for info.

Mini Bike Winter – 2:00 pm at The Watershed (SE)
Zoobomb’s annual MBW kicks off with a craft-making session followed by the Torch Ride later tonight (9:00 pm) led by Dropout Bike Club. More info here.

Love in Motion Live Storytelling – 7:00 pm at Alberta Abbey (N)
9th annual event to benefit The Street Trust will feature four Portlanders who will tell their best bike stories on-stage. More info here.

Saturday, February 16th

First Timer’s Ride – 10:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
Join the friendly crew at RCB for a 5-8 mile neighborhood jaunt that will be perfect if you’re just starting out or want to meet others who love live on two wheels. More info here.

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Slough Country Ramble – 11:00 am at Cafe Eleven (NE)
Join the inimitable Shawn Grant of Urban Adventure League for a socially-paced excursion that will uncover the oft-hidden wonders of the paths and bikeways along the Columbia Slough. More info here.

Mini Bike Winter Chariot Wars – 2:00 pm at The Watershed (SE)
The most dramatic and iconic event of MBW where two-person teams ride wheeled chariots of death and only the strong survive. More info here.

Sunday, February 17th

Larson’s Bakery Ride – 10:00 am at NE 96th and Sandy
Portland Wheelmen (and Women) Touring Club ride leader Bud Rice will lead the group on a 28-mile paved road route at a moderate pace. 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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Video claims protestors are to blame in collision with truck driver

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 13:36

Still from dashcam video of a collision on SW 4th Avenue on October 31st, 2018. Watch the video below.

Back in October we shared the story of Mark Dickerson, the man arrested for allegedly driving his truck through a crowd of protestors on SW 4th Avenue. Now his wife Janelle Dickerson is distributing a video that shows the protestors violating several laws. She says one man purposely walked in front of the truck and is now trying to “scam” their family via insurance fraud.

Prior to the collision, family and supporters of Patrick Kimmons, who was fatally shot by a Portland Police Officer, were standing in the street outside the Multnomah County Courthouse. Mark Dickerson, 55, was on his way to an appointment at the Courthouse. As he drove his truck northbound on 4th a group of people were standing in the street holding signs at the intersection of 4th and Main.

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When the light turned green Dickerson drove through the intersection (his wife says he was going about 7 mph which, a speed that, “gave him permission to drive safely through the crowd”) and didn’t stop for people that were still standing in the street in front of him. He drove his large truck forward and the crowd parted. As he passed, one of the protestors pounded on the hood of his truck. Another protestor (in the lead photo), seems to have purposely walked into the path of Dickerson’s truck and was struck. The man who was on foot was not seriously injured. Dickerson eventually found a parking spot and was later found by police and arrested on charges of Assault in the Fourth Degree, Reckless Endangering, and Reckless Driving.

Yesterday we were contacted by Janelle Dickerson. She shared the video above and said, “Here’s what happened via his dashcam.” As you can see when you watch the video, Dickerson claims the protestors “attacked” the truck and violated several laws while doing so.

Now Mrs. Dickerson wants to the people in the video to be “exposed” for what she says is attempted insurance fraud. According to Dickerson, her husband has received death threats, faces a year in jail, is the subject of a civil lawsuit, has been slandered by the media and has racked up $5,000 in legal fees, “All because he was trying to park.”

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

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Get to know your community through ‘Love in Motion’ live storytelling event

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 12:16

This Friday February 15th, The Street Trust will host “Love in Motion,” their ninth annual live storytelling event.

The event was created in 2010 by Sugar Wheel Works owner Jude Gerace when she wanted to have a big one-year anniversary party for her business (known as Epic Wheel Works before Specialized Bicycle Company forced her to change the name) and decided to invite friends to tell stories on-stage with all the ticket proceeds to benefit The Street Trust’s safe routes to school programs. The event was a smash hit and it’s been growing ever since.

On Friday, Gerace and fellow business owner Leah Benson of Gladys Bikes will be emcees for the festivities that will include great food, drinks, and a big prize raffle.

Along with The Street Trust, Gerace and Benson have selected four Portlanders to share, “funny, poignant, and heartfelt stories that stoke our transportation revolution.” They bill the evening as, “Our valentine to people who walk, bike and ride transit.”

Here are the four storytellers and a brief bio (supplied by The Street Trust):

Adnan Kadir

Adnan has been riding bikes since the age of 4 and hasn’t stopped since. He spent a year cutting his teeth racing in Europe. He won a few, lost a few, and eventually became a USAC Level 1 Cycling Coach. He is one of the founders of VeloPro – the world’s first dynamic and adaptive cycling training software system. Adnan also runs an annual cycling experience for enthusiasts in Marin County, California every May. Cycling has been his longest relationship and he is inspired by the people that he encounters who still love riding as much at age 83 as they did when they were 23.

Adnan’s cycling ambitions continue to change as he evolves, and his latest passion is to ride bikes for fun in as many different places as he can around the world with his wife. Happily, his work allows him the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. His most recent travels have been to Thailand, Tuscany and Puglia, Provence, and Girona, Spain.

Eva Frazier

Born and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, Eva came west for college. She fell in love and never looked back. After graduating from Whitman College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art, she had many unmarketable skills which led to jobs as wide-ranging as women’s lacrosse coach, greenhouse gardener, and project assistant to a mildly famous artist. Fast forward to today, where she is now a 13-year veteran of the retail bike industry, holding various positions from sales to mechanic to purchasing. A love of people, numbers, and problem-solving solidified her role at Clever Cycles and in 2014 she became co-owner and chief cat herder.

Knowing and riding every bicycle in the shop is part of the job. Like that cup of coffee first thing in the morning, riding has become a most delicious and addictive habit. Staying fit by riding to work and the grocery store is icing on the cake. Her ideal future has more density, more equality, and a lot fewer cars. When she’s not on a bike or traveling, she’s probably fixing something around the house, tending the garden, or binge-watching English period dramas with her wife and Isabel the cat.

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Alberto Moreno

Alberto is the Director of the Office of Equity and Multicultural Services for the Department of Human Services. He is also the founding Executive Director for the Oregon Latino Health Coalition, an Oregon nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate the health disparities facing Latinos in Oregon. Alberto led a ten-year campaign to make prenatal care a human right for all women in Oregon. As a result, all women in Oregon now have access to prenatal care, regardless of documentation.

Alberto also founded the Oregon Community Health Workers Association and has informed state policy, which supports this vital workforce including establishment of the Oregon Commission for Traditional Health Workers in Oregon.

When not at work, Alberto is a culturally reflective poet with a passion for photography. He sees beauty in all of its forms, from the picturesque St. John’s Bridge to the wonders of Death Valley. Originally from Mexico, Alberto is a recovering boxer from Chicago, who rock climbs and loves to ride motorcycles and his 60-year-old vintage bike in his spare time.

Steph Routh

Steph Routh is the director of the Portland Underground Grad School, and principal of the consulting firm Steph Routh & Team, LLC. As the first Executive Director of Oregon Walks, Steph cultivated legislative and program agendas that centered disability rights, aging with dignity, access to transit, and racial equity. She did this with a smile on her face and, in 2010, earned the Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award from the National Alliance for Biking and Walking. Steph is also a past recipient of The Street Trust’s “Alice” Award.

Steph is the co-founder of the Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About This? podcast—an exploration of the relationship between justice and the built environment—and a recent graduate of the Emerge Oregon program, which recruits and trains progressive women to achieve public office

Tickets are $15 pre-sale and $20 at the door. Purchase them online and learn more about the event here.

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

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Route advisory: Road construction in South Waterfront will lead to Tilikum Crossing path closures

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 11:49

Workers on future SW Bond with Tilikum Bridge in the background.
(Photo: PBOT)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has just announced a ten-day closure of the paths on the Tilikum Crossing Bridge between mid-April and the first week of May.

The closures are needed as part of their SW Bond Avenue Extension project, which will build a new road below the Marquam and Tilikum Bridges.

Here are the details about the upcoming Tilikum Crossing Bridge path closures:

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While utility installation proceeds through the end of winter, the contractor will begin pouring curb, gutter and sidewalk. Notably, from April 15 through May 8, the contractor will connect Bond Avenue to Porter Street (the west end of Tilikum Crossing). This will require temporary closures of the multi-use paths on Tilikum Crossing – one at a time. The current schedule calls for the north side path to be closed for ten days, from April 15 through 28; the south side path for seven days, from April 29 through May 8. This will mean two-way pedestrian and bicycle travel on one side of the bridge for the duration. In addition, some night work will be necessary to avoid or reduce transit disruptions. PBOT and Goodfellow Brothers, Inc. are working closely with TriMet on these closures and will provide additional details as the dates approach. Substantial completion of the Bond Avenue Extension is anticipated in July.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, contact PBOT Project Manager Steve Szigethy at steve.szigethy@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-5117.

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

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Welcome to gravel-in-the-bike-lanes season

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 11:17

Hello again gravel.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Fresh off leaves-in-the-bike-lanes season, it’s time to gird yourself for gravel-in-the-bike-lanes season.

With the big winter storm last week, Portland Bureau of Transportation crews were out in force laying down gravel to prevent roads from becoming too slick from ice. That’s all fine and good when you need the traction for driving; but the gravel that’s left behind is an annoyance and hazard for bicycle riders. Gravel can cause riders to slip out, it can damage bike frames and other components, and it hastens the erosion of colored pavement and striping many bicycle riders rely on for “protection”.

It seems like we grapple with this issue every year. 2017 was especially bad.

This year we have reasons to be a bit more optimistic about how PBOT will deal with it. For the first time I can remember, they actually publicly addressed it before us or someone else in the community complained about it. In a tweet yesterday, PBOT announced that they’d already swept bike lanes in key bicycle arterials including: Greeley, Interstate, Rosa Parks (lead photo shows that they didn’t quite get all of it however), the Denver overpass, Schmeer Rd (Columbia Slough), Moda Transit Center, and the Broadway/Williams corridor.

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“We prioritize bike lanes on major arterials,” PBOT announced, but then added, “Cleanup is slow. Our sweepers travel at 3 mph to pick up gravel, a fraction of the speed from when we lay it down. Please be patient as we work.”

Yes. Hopefully everyone’s patient — including people in cars when bicycle riders need to move away from the shoulder or out of the bike lane because of gravel, flooding or other hazards.

Speaking of flooding… Things are pretty brutal out there right now. So much water! I posted a photo of a flooded bike lane on Instagram and asked how folks were coping. The responses are cracking me up:

Hang in there. And please let us know what the conditions are like where you are. If you need to report a hazard or other road issue to PBOT, use 503-823-1700 or email PDXroads@portlandoregon.gov.

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

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Event will celebrate Kevin Neidorf’s ‘extraordinary life’

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 10:00

Friends and family of Kevin Neidorf will host a celebration of his life on Sunday, February 24th.

Kevin died while kayaking Hood River last month. He was 28 years old.

Kevin had a wide circle of friends in the Portland area, owing to his many adventures, his work as a filmmaker, and as a beloved friend and employee of River City Bicycles.

The celebration of his life will take place at 4:00 pm in Eliot Chapel at the First Unitarian Church in downtown Portland (1011 SW 12th Ave). Everyone is welcome.

Here’s the message included in the invite:

Please join us to share stories about Kevin’s extraordinary life and the many ways he touched the lives of all who knew him. Kevin’s passion for new adventures and commitment to continually challenging himself was matched by his generous spirit toward others. He pushed people to love life and see their limitless potential. That is how Kevin lived.

The Street Trust is one of several local nonprofits who are accepting donations as a way to remember Kevin’s work in our community.

More details about the memorial event can be found here. If you have questions, contact River City Bicycles employee Vince Rodarte at vincer@rivercitybicycles.com.

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

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How to throw a winter bike-to-school party

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 09:07

Pretty great turnout for a near-freezing morning in February!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

It may not feel like it right now, but spring is right around the corner, and not long after that comes Bike to School Day (May 8th). Why not throw an “off-season” bike-to-school party to celebrate the winter bikers, walkers, and rollers, and build excitement for those better days on the horizon?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

At Woodstock Elementary, we just threw a party, very much like our October Walk to School Day Party. My co-conspirator Carolyn and I chose our date to fall close to the Worst Day of the Year Ride, which seemed like a terrific idea on a balmy Wednesday two months ago, though I admit I went into the morning a little anxious about making people hang out in the 29-degree cold for 20 minutes before the schoolday started. (Spoiler alert: it was fine!)

We met at the tree-sheltered picnic tables in Woodstock Park (adjacent to our school) and then had two parades. First, the walkers (about 20 people and two dogs) led by a student leader from the school’s new Sustainability Committee, and then the 37 or so bikers. With no street to cross and the school building 0.23 miles away and within sight of the party, it still feels like a parade, but it’s as easy as can be. Even meeting in a school playground and then parading the long way around the building to the front door would make for a terrific party/parade.

Short and sweet parade routes.

Full disclosure: our school was awarded a grant from Metro’s Regional Travel Options program (thanks, Metro!) and before that we had snack money from the PTA for Walk to School Day. We’re saving most of our grant funds for big things coming up so this was quite the affordable party and worth replicating.

Prizes
I still had a lot of free PBOT Walk + Roll Day prizes left over — partially because in October I had prizes laid out for kids to choose from and the stickers, temporary tattoos, and unsharpened pencils (I think I’ll sharpen them before our next party) weren’t as enticing as the emoji keychains, bike lights, and sunglasses. So this time I made prize packs by stuffing a bag with a sticker, temporary tattoo, pencil, and bookmark. Any — not just bike-specific — stickers, temporary tattoos, and pencils make great, cheap prizes.

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Snacks
Can’t have a party without snacks! Again, I had leftover items from our October party: goldfish crackers and fruit chews. But I wanted to supplement that with some more breakfasty items: doughnut holes in powdered and old fashioned (those went fast!), bananas cut into thirds (no one ate those so I left them for the school staff, lesson learned), apple cinnamon fig bars (a vegan option), and hot chocolate (actually, hot chocolate almond milk, also vegan). I strayed a bit out of the neighborhood, but still well within biking distance, to get our snacks at Grocery Outlet.
Note: I happen to have an Oregon food handlers card and this event wasn’t at school so I didn’t worry about breaking any PPS food rules. However, packaged non-perishable snacks last from event to event and never require a food handlers card, so I’d recommend you balance those with any fruit other than bananas.

Activity
Back in October I learned that hanging out for 20 minutes doesn’t make for a party so I added a couple activities this time:

A poster to add reasons kids like walking/biking/rolling.

Stamp station to make bookmarks, including bike stamp that will get use for years to come. (The stamps were from biking-distance-away JOANN Fabric and Craft Store in Eastport Plaza.)

Sidewalk chalk…but the other stuff was so fun no one decorated the ground this time.

Music
I have a little bike speaker and spend much too much time stressing about the perfect music for these kid parties. This party’s decision was made for me when a commuter breezed past us a week ago blasting reggae from his bike. What a great winter pick-me-up! I settled on the a playlist called “Reggae BBQ” and I’d like to think October’s “Good Morning, Tweens” playlist was a winner, too, and I’ll use it again in the future.

Extras
There’s nothing so sad as a kid who feels left out! Kids approach me at school to let me know they missed out on their Bike Month or Walk to School Day Prizes so now I’ve got a small supply of the sticker/tattoo/pencil/bookmark bags in the office kids can ask for.

Advertise
Let’s back up and talk how to promote your event; because who wants to hang out 20 minutes in the cold all alone before a lonely parade of one?

Newsletters. Our school has two weekly newsletters, one from the principal and one from the PTA. I put events in each of these for a few weeks leading up. Some schools also have newsletters for each classroom sent by a volunteer parent room rep.

Friday Morning Meeting. All students crowd into the gym each Friday at the start of the school day and parents are welcome to stay for the 15-minute meeting. I have yet to recruit helpers to perform a Bike to School skit (but I will!) so for now I just announce our events a couple weeks leading up. If your school doesn’t have this sort of meeting, ask if you can come make an announcement to the students during their lunch periods.

Sidewalk chalk announcements. The weather wasn’t conducive this time, but I love writing event details at every entrance to the school, sure to draw eyes. Recruit a student group to help with this (our Student Leaders make great chalk signs!).

Posters. I can use the black-and-white staff copier so I created and printed a simple flyer at home and printed 10 copies to hang around school. And to make up for the rain-soaked chalk surfaces, I also made a big poster to hang by the bike rack, with eye-catching balloons.

Word of mouth. I ask parents at the bike rack if they’ve heard about the event a week in advance and most haven’t so word of mouth is a great way to reach folks, especially if they’re folks already walking and biking and/or arriving to school early.

Internet. Many schools have Facebook pages, but some of these events should be open to the community at large (our future events will) so we’ll post to neighborhood Facebook groups, NextDoor, and add to online community calendars.

Translation services. Can you reach more families if you share your event in multiple languages? Our school has a Mandarin Immersion program and a Spanish-speaking population.

Will you throw a party at your school? Do you have ideas for prizes, snacks, party activities, or music to share? I’d love more ideas. Thanks for reading!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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13-year old struck by driver and seriously injured while walking across North Fessenden

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 13:40

Intersection of Richmond and Fessenden where the collision occurred.

Last Thursday evening a young north Portland resident was hit and seriously injured while walking across Fessenden Street in St. Johns. A source tells us she suffered multiple broken bones and major lacerations to her face. The collision has added fuel to the fire of many local residents who’ve been pushing for safety updates in the area for many years.

Neighborhood advocates plan to attend a meeting of the St. Johns Neighborhood Association tonight where a staffer from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is scheduled to give an update on a project that would make upgrades to this stretch of Fessenden — such as median islands, curb extensions, narrower lanes, speed cushions, and painted crosswalks — all of which could have prevented Thursday’s collision. Advocates are also upset because a man was killed while walking across Fessenden just 11 blocks from this location in November 2017.

Last week’s collision happened to a 13-year-old girl who’s a student at George Middle School. If that rings a bell it’s because that school is adjacent to the nearby section of Columbia Blvd where a 15-year-old boy was hit by a driver and nearly killed as he walked to school in 2016. That collision led to a $2.1 million safety project that PBOT says will being construction in fall of this year.

Plans from 2013 plan showing proposed updates to Fessenden. Richmond St is on lower left.

PBOT has had plans to slow down drivers and create safer walking conditions on Fessenden since at least 2013 when they published the St. Johns Transportation Plan Development Project. That plan was ultimately folded into the St. Johns Truck Strategy Phase II. Here’s what PBOT’s current plan includes for the St. Louis/Fessenden corridor (worth nothing that the intersections one block from Richmond in both directions are slated for significant changes):

– Restriping the roadway to reduce lane widths and create buffered bike lanes.
– New median refuge islands with street trees and striped crosswalks at six locations: Kellogg Street, Smith Street, Seneca Street, Oswego Avenue [just one block east of Richmond], Allegheny Avenue and Tioga Avenue.
– New curb extensions with street trees and striped crosswalks at Burr and Midway avenues.
– Speed reader boards on both sides of the St Louis Avenue and Fessenden Street curve.
– New rapid flashing beacons at the intersections of Seneca Street and New York Avenue and at Seneca Street and Midway Avenue.
– A new HAWK signal at Charleston Avenue [one block west of Richmond].
– A reconfiguration of the New York Avenue leg of the New York Avenue and St Louis Avenue intersection to create a perpendicular alignment.

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As we reported back in October, some members of the advisory committee from that plan formed a new group to pressure PBOT to build the project. Citizens for a Safe and Attractive Fessenden, St. Louis, and Lombard, a Facebook group with 468 members, has been on high alert recently due to what they claim are several delays. Construction was first promised to begin in 2017 but ground has yet to be broken. Meanwhile, the toll of people being hit continues to pile up.

Donna Cohen is the leader of the Citizens group. “They should have already begun construction!,” she wrote on the Facebook page last week. “And now, here we are, two years after construction was to begin, with two injury accidents and one death which might have been prevented had PBOT done what it was supposed to!!”

Local resident and member of the group, Gregory Proteau, saw the aftermath of Thursday night’s collision and shared, “I got extremely angry since this keeps happening.”

Another source tells me he’s written to PBOT “on numerous occasions” about the dangerous conditions on Fessenden. “It feels like our poverty-stricken community is not as important as others in Portland,” he shared after hearing about this latest collision. “Let this be another example, and hopefully a motivator, to hear us when we ask for help.”

In a letter sent to local residents on February 4th of this year, PBOT Project Manager Rich Newlands wrote that construction will finally begin on February 18th. Newlands will present an update at the neighborhood meeting tonight (2/11, 7:00 pm at the St. Johns Community Center, 8427 N Central).

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

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The Monday Roundup: Representation matters, road diet deniers, Green New Deal, and more

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:25

Welcome to the week.

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

Bicycle riders are dangerous in Japan: This Japan News article says bicycle riders need more insurance because there are 2,500 collisions between bicycle riders and walkers each year and in 2017 there were 299 bicycle collisions where walkers were killed or severely wounded.

Tandems and true love: Just in time for Valentine’s Day CBS News has a story about a couple that says their happy marriage of 45 years is due in large part to the 197,000 miles they’ve logged on a tandem.

Representation matters: A cycling journalist noticed something rare during a major SRAM product launch: A black woman as the lead image. Turns out SRAM is doing much-needed work to make the cycling industry less white and less male.

Micromobility conference recap: A measured and informed account of what happened at the first-ever micromobility conference where the focus was on the 90 percent of U.S. auto trips that have the potential to be made by much smaller vehicles — a move that could, “reshape American cities around vehicles that are far more suited to them.”

War on cars, sport-radio style: The latest episode of the excellent War on Cars pod imagines what streets activism would sound like on sports talk radio.

Salem’s “third bridge” debate: A big meeting in Salem today will decide the fate of a major bridge project. Officials have spent 10 years and $9 million talking and planning for the project with the debate falling on familiar lines: Supporters say it’s needed for growth and traffic relief while detractors worry about environmental harm and other impacts. The Salem Breakfast on Bikes blog has done amazing reporting on the issue.

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Green New Deal: Oregon’s House Rep. Earl Blumenauer is one of the early and ardent supporters of this high-profile initiative. So far he hasn’t said he’ll use it as a vehicle to push for bicycling infrastructure (perhaps he’s saving that announcement for the National Bike Summit in March?) and overall, transportation planning wonks say it “fails” to address land-use and sprawl (see next item).

Land use is everything: Reuters reports on the vast challenge of reducing tailpipe emissions in California (and Texas) because the impacts of car-centric, sprawling urban design far outweigh current mitigation efforts. They should look to Seattle and Minneapolis for inspiration.

Road diet deniers: A group of L.A.-based road diet haters has launched a national movement dubbed “Keep the U.S. Moving,” a name that’s very close to ODOT’s Keep Oregon Moving (the name for the current transportation funding package). Hmmmm.

Planning for who?: Noted bicycle researcher Anne Lusk makes the case that cities rely too much on feedback from wealthy white people when making decisions about where to put high quality cycling facilities.

Thanks to everyone who shared submissions this week!

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

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Winter storm open thread

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 11:08

A Biketown rider opted for the sidewalk on N Killingsworth near Jefferson High School Saturday morning after snow fell across the city last night.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Don’t fear the frozen sunshine; embrace it! (Inspiration and tips for snowmageddon)

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 14:04

This man embraced the snow on a ride up North Williams Avenue during a storm in February 2014.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Snow is already falling in Seattle and it’s headed our way. The National Weather Service says we could get up to four inches by Saturday. And there’s more snow, ice and cold temps in the forecast all next week.

As we brace for the challenges and opportunities a winter storm brings, I thought it’d be helpful to share tips and open up a comment thread so we can share road conditions.

If you’ve read BikePortland for a while, you know we’ve been through this before. In fact our coverage of riding in the snow goes all the way back to the storm of 2005 when our headline proudly proclaimed, “Snow doesn’t deter local cyclists.” It seems like each year the local media and various agencies forget about cycling when the snow starts to fall. And each year we have remind them that — not only is cycling in the snow a legitimate transportation option, it’s often safer than driving, and it can be a ton of fun!

As we brace for yet another go-round with frozen sunshine, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Ice is not nice — unless you’ve got studded tires

These should do the trick.

As we mentioned earlier this week, ice is not your friend. If you see anything shiny or black, avoid it. That is, unless you are lucky enough to have studded tires. If you’re curious, our friends at Western Bikeworks have a great selection (I’ve ordered a set of these). And unlike studded tires on cars (which aren’t usually even needed, cause millions in damage each year, and are still not taxed or prohibited) you and your bike don’t weigh nearly enough to damage the roads. On that note, the Canadian city of Banff has subsidizes the purchase of studded bicycle tires!

Keep the PBOT Winter Weather Center Map open in your browser

If you want to keep track of which routes will be de-iced and plowed, look no further than PBOT’s slick, interactive winter weather road map. While the agency still hasn’t committed to plowing key bike routes and neighborhood greenways, knowing which roads will be cleared at least gives you something to work with. For more official links and info, see PBOT’s latest statement about the approaching storm.

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Biketown bikes are excellent snow-shredders.

Tips for a fun and safe ride

We’ve shared tips for winter riding in the past (remember to read the comments!), but here’s a refresher: Lower your tire pressure for better traction; lower your saddle so you can use your legs as outriggers for balance and stability; use as wide of tires as possible; take the lane if you can, because riding in the shoulder will encourage people to pass you unsafely and put you in the path of snowdrifts and other debris.

Grab a Biketown!

It just so happens that Biketown bikes are great in the snow. I tested one out during the 2017 Snowmageddon and it passed with flying colors.

Don’t assume you can’t ride

Every year when the snow hits the ground our inbox and timelines fill up with excited posts from readers who enjoy winter riding. So many people leave their cars at home when it snows that cycling can be even safer during storms. And if you have the right set-up, sloshing through the neighborhood on your bike can be one of the highlights of the year.

For more inspiration, check out the photos below and peruse our past coverage in the archives. Have fun out there and make sure to chime in to share road conditions and neighborhood intel as the storm rolls in.

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

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Eager to end Matt Garrett era, advocates set expectations for new ODOT leader

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:50

Advocacy groups aim to put their stamp on the selection of the next person to run ODOT.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

After 14 years at the helm, Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett resigned last month. For many reform-minded transportation advocates and professionals, he won’t be missed.

“Someone with some brains and integrity would be a healthy contrast to the outgoing director.”
— David Bragdon, former president of Metro

Reached shortly after the news broke on January 18th, The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler told us, “He leaves an agency that does not seem prepared for the challenges and opportunities to meet Oregon’s transportation needs in a way that lives up to our values.” Detweiler went on to say that his departure is, “An opportunity for the Governor and Oregon Transportation Commission [the governor-appointed body that oversees ODOT] to hire someone who can lead ODOT to adopt multi-modal strategies for transportation that will address climate change, confront the negative impacts of highways on people of color and low income communities, and save lives.”

Garrett in 2009.

Former Metro President David Bragdon (no stranger to sharp ODOT criticisms) was even more direct in his response about Garrett’s resignation. “It’s good news for Oregon, and long overdue,” he shared with me via email. “Finally, the end of a reign of error – hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on cost overruns, false testimony to the legislature and public, rampant cronyism, an insatiable addiction to debt, and near-total ignorance of modern trends in transportation, cloaked in meaningless platitudes and p.r. spin, the one thing he was semi-good at.”

Bragdon said for the agency to get back on strong footing the Governor should, “Recruit a disciplined manager from outside, with a track record of financial honesty, knowledge of modern engineering principles, with the skill to deliver projects on time and on budget. Someone with some brains and integrity would be a healthy contrast to the outgoing director.”

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Now the effort to influence the next leader of ODOT has begun in earnest. Yesterday a broad coalition of environmental, social justice, and transportation advocacy groups sent a list of recommendations to Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) to make sure the next person in this crucial role reflects their values.

“As you understand,” the letter (embedded below) reads, “our state’s transportation system — like a road — should not be an end in itself but a means to multiple ends. Oregonians expect transportation investments to not merely help move people, goods and services, but to also advance economic, social, health and environmental goals.”

Here are the 14 advocacy leaders who signed the letter:

The letter goes on to outline the importance of making transportation safe and affordable, and using transportation to achieve Oregon’s climate change and public health goals. There’s also a strong demand for going beyond the usual suspects when it comes to not only choosing the new director — but in who’s asked for input in making the selection.

The coalition even gives the OTC and Governor Brown a template for how to write the job description. They outline seven requirements for the job (each of which includes a detailed description):

1. A strong transportation knowledge base.

2. A track record of responsible management of the transportation system, with a focus on maintaining our transportation assets and prioritizing safe and efficient use of transportation infrastructure.

3. A track record of solving access and mobility needs with holistic, equitable, multimodal investments.

4. Demonstrated ability to align transportation investments with environmental, environmental justice, and public health objectives, e.g., meeting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

5. Demonstrated ability to create robust, two-way relationships with external partners and stakeholders.

6. A commitment to addressing the issues raised in the most recent audit of ODOT, to taking a fresh look at ODOT’s functions, and to making decisions independently from stakeholders with a financial interest in such decisions.

7. Experience leading a diverse staff and encouraging innovation, collaboration, and inclusivity to achieve equity in outcomes as core business objectives.

Check out the full letter below:

ODOT Director hire recommendations 2019 (1)

What qualities would your ideal ODOT Director have? Do these recommendations mesh with your vision?

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

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Friday Profile: Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba leads with cycling and climate change

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 08:54

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba headed to a meeting.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Surprisingly, the loudest political voice for bicycling in our region doesn’t come from Portland City Hall. It comes from a city hall six miles south of Portland in Milwaukie, in the office of Mayor Mark Gamba.

One reason Gamba has emerged as a leader on transportation reform is that he probably logs more miles on a bicycle than all other regional elected officials combined (and yes, it matters). In the past few years I’ve noticed Gamba and his sleek, matte black, Specialized Vado e-bike at meetings and events that are often more than a dozen miles from his office. The other reason cycling is front and center for Mayor Gamba is because it ticks all the boxes when it comes to his highest policy priority: climate change. A former National Geographic photographer, Gamba told me during an interview last month that observing wildlife through his camera lens has given him the urgency to save it.

Gamba is the rare Oregon politician who isn’t afraid of the word “bike”. In fact, he embraces it.

During my time with Gamba we talked about his focus on climate change, his work to make Milwaukie a nicer place to walk and bike, his push for transportation reform across the region — and the politics it takes to make it happen. And of course, we got out on our bikes for a ride around town.

My conversation with Mayor Gamba is below. It’s been edited for brevity and readability…

What’s your relationship to cycling?

“Every time there’s a transportation conversation, I’m saying, ‘Look, it’s far cheaper to build another Springwater Corridor than it is to add a lane to I-205.'”

“I grew up biking. I biked to school ever since I was a 7th grader in Western Colorado. I rode a [standard, non-electric] bike when I was a city councilor; but then I stopped when I got too busy as mayor. About five years ago my girlfriend started bicycling from Milwaukie, up through Riverview Cemetery to Lake Oswego. It took her one-and-a-half hours. She said, ‘I can’t do this. It’s too much.’ A friend of hers had an e-bike, so she borrowed it and cut her commute down to 45 minutes — rain, shine, no matter what. That’s faster than a car in some conditions! So I was like, ‘Yep! I’m going to get one.’ Now that I have one, I’m back to riding to about 90 percent of my meetings.”

What do you like about the e-bike?

“It’s astonishing how much faster it is. [In November of last year, Gamba challenged conservative talk radio host Lars Larson to a race between Portland and Milwaukie city halls. Larson never responded.] Plus, I used to show up to meetings sweaty, especially in the summer. Now, as mayor I’ve got a bit higher expectations, so with the e-bike I can just throw my sport coat in a pack and put on a rain jacket and some rain paints. I can walk into a meeting, pull off my rain pants and jacket, put on my sport coat, and I’m ready to go. Then I can sit back and hear everyone else bitch about their terrible drive to the meeting.”

So you want everyone in the room to know you biked there?

“What I’m trying to do is illustrate that you can bike and still show up looking professional. That’s my thing. So I make sure I always walk in with the soaking wet rain jacket on and a helmet. Then I take it off and lay it on a chair, then I put on my sport coat and then I’m in the meeting. Half of the mayors in the region joke with me about it.”

Does the fact that you arrive by bike change the conversation?

“It’s becoming enough of a thing that they won’t sit in the same meeting as me and say things like it’s infeasible to put in bikeways. I don’t know how much affect I’m having personally, but Clackamas County went from downgrading the proposed bike/ped bridge across the Willamette between Oak Grove and Lake Oswego — they downgraded it to a level where it wouldn’t receive funding even though it got the most supportive comments from the public by orders of magnitude — but just recently they not only upgraded it but they supported a grant to study the project and the one Republican on the [Clackamas County] commission has become one of its new champions. That’s a major shift in just three years.

So yes, I think it’s shifting. I took a whole bunch of people from JPACT and MPAC [Metro transportation advisory committees] on a ride when the e-bike show was in town a few years ago. 25 of them showed up. And one Metro councilor went out and bought an e-bike after that. It was Kathryn Harrington, who was just elected Chair of Washington County. Mayor Jeff Dalin of Cornelius was on the ride too. He rides a motorcycle typically, and he had a blast! He smiled and laughed the whole time. It was a real eye-opener for a lot them.”

What have you done to make changes on the ground in your own backyard here in Milwaukie?

SAFE Phase 1 project map.
(City of Milwaukie)

SAFESafe Access for Everyone, is a planning process I started as city councilor after I heard parents from Linwood School testify before the planning commission. They said, ‘Our kids live five blocks from the school and they can’t walk there safely.’ They were really passionate about it. So I met with them to learn more. Then I went to a budget committee meeting and said we need to start building sidewalks in the neighborhoods. At the time, we only had a handful outside of downtown. They said, ‘We should study that.’ Well, it turned out the city had already done a study 10 years ago and found it would cost $30 million. And the councilors at the time were like, ‘Oh, we could never do that.’ So the plan just sat on the shelf. That next fall elections were coming up, so I went out and recruited two women to run against two of the councilors who were up for election. One of the women was Karin Power [currently an Oregon House Representative], the other was Lisa Batey. They both won. Beat them badly. I was done with those guys. They weren’t doing the things we should have been doing for our city.

The next step was to overhaul PSAC, our Public Safety Advisory Committee. Theoretically, is was in charge of public safety, which includes transportation; but they were really just a cheerleading squad for the police. So I slowly started replacing the members with young parents who were advocates for active transportation. Once we reached a critical mass on that, the Council had made the decision to do something about the issue, so I said, let’s assign PSAC to do a planning process. And that caused the rest of the older PSAC members to quit, and I was able to fill those seats with more young parents.

By the time the SAFE plan came back to City Council for approval in 2014, the whole city was behind it. Everyone was excited about it. Then we had to figure out how to pay for it. We don’t have a lot of growth in Milwaukie. We’re not getting fresh tax dollars. So this city gets poorer every year. It’s about $51 million to do all the SAFE projects. We knew we couldn’t raise $51 million, so we did some math: $4.85 per month on everybody’s water bill (with an exception for low-income people and a different rate for businesses) and we went out and bonded against the first phase of projects. Council passed it. And when that first water bill came out we only got about five or six angry phone calls.”

When will these projects get built?

“Some of them already have concrete being laid. The first phase started this last spring.”

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Has Milwaukie adopted Vision Zero?

“I proposed that years ago, and I have one councilor — Lisa Batey — who has this thing about setting goals that can’t be attained. It’s like an embarrassment thing. She believes in all these initiatives though, just not in the proclamations. It was the same with climate. She pushed back on that. I pushed for Milwaukie to be a “Net Zero City” by 2040 and she said, “That’s impossible! We can’t do it!” But it’s an official city goal now because we did a visioning process around it and citizens pushed for it .

And as for Vision Zero, we’re doing all this stuff anyways. And the places that are the worst for Milwaukie as far as deaths and serious injuries are concerned, are where we cross Highway 99 and 224 — which are ODOT roads we have virtually no control over.

When you look at regional maps for deaths and serious injuries, 99E is one of the routes, top to bottom, that’s bad — with the exception of one spot in the middle. Guess where that is? That’s Milwaukie. It’s because we have a lower speed limit through downtown. It makes a huge difference.”

Do you see Milwaukie as a bridge between the reform-minded transportation mindset in Portland and the sometimes anti-Portland, “No Portland creep” mindset in Clackamas County?

“Yes. I do see us as a bridge. I see us as setting an example at Clackamas County. I’m not shy at C4 (Clackamas County Coordinating Committee) meetings. Every time there’s a transportation conversation, I’m saying, ‘Look, it’s far cheaper to build another Springwater Corridor than it is to add a lane to I-205. You guys want to start solving congestion? Make it safer for people to ride their bikes everywhere in this region.’ And I say that over and over and over again. I push really hard.”

How is cycling related to the other issues you’re working on?

“When you’re sitting in that little coffin, driving down the street, you are completely oblivious to the rest of the world.”

“For me, this is all about climate. That’s what drives me. I was a National Geographic photographer. I was seeing climate change happening and I understand what that looks like when it plays out. It’s very clear in my head what this world looks like if we don’t turn this thing around. And what it looks like is a place that’s untenable for human beings — certainly untenable for the society we’ve created. So that’s why I got into politics in the first place. And I understand that single-occupancy, gas-powered vehicles are one of the biggest problems in that realm. The more we can pull people out of those cars it’s better for health, and our community because you run into people and you talk. When you’re sitting in that little coffin, driving down the street, you are completely oblivious to the rest of the world. You don’t know what it smells like, you can’t hear the sounds, there’s no interaction. You are literally moving from your home, into another indoor space, into your office (another indoor space). And I feel like active transportation is better for people in all ways. And bicycling is the most efficient form of transportation humankind has yet developed.”

Have you found a way to say all that without scaring other policymakers away?

“I don’t know. I haven’t discovered a secret for being able to translate to a climate denier why this makes sense. Although I have had conversations with some of those people who are not total whack-jobs, ones who are just to the side of that, and said, ‘Look, if we pull 10,000 people out of their cars and onto bikes, that’s 10,000 more spaces on the freeway for you.’ And they can hear that. They have a hard time imagining that there’s 10,000 people that want to ride their bikes. So I think that’s part of the thing we need to continue as a movement: Make it really clear that there are a lot of people that want to ride, that there are a lot of people that would love to ride their bikes if they felt like it was safe, if they felt like they could get there without getting soaked or being sweaty or smelly or taking too long, or all those things. It’s a learning process.”

You’ve been a leader here for nearly four years now. What’s the status of cycling in Milwaukie?

“It’s picking up. We had a developer having a meeting standing outside city hall a few months ago and he asked one of our staff, ‘How bike friendly is Milwaukie?’ And coincidentally I was riding up into city hall to park my bike. And she goes, ‘That’s the mayor.’

I see more and more cycling in Milwaukie and we haven’t even done the things we have planned yet. None of these greenways [on the SAFE map] are built. I see cyclists all the time now. When I first moved here 16 years ago, I was it… well me, and Matt Menely [local bike advocate] and a handful of other crazies.”

Related: Milwaukie carves a new path: widespread support for better biking

What have you built for cycling here in the last 3-4 years?

“The new path on 17th Avenue is the only thing that’s been built. Monroe has sharrows [and is slated for much bigger things as the city’s primary greenway]. We’re putting in a diverter at Linwood to bring the traffic level down so it’s a reasonable greenway.”

Speaking of that 17th Avenue path. What happened with those terrible stop signs? [When the path was built there were many stop signs directing bicycle riders to stop at private residential driveways.]

Gamba said an ODOT engineer was responsible for the absurdly placed stop signs at private, residential driveways that used to plague the 17th Avenue path between Portland and Milwaukie. They’ve since been removed.

“We were a week away from me going out there and pulling them down myself! The ODOT engineer is in control of that aspect of any new bike infrastructure they are in charge of. So whenever you have that type of grant money – unless you’re Portland or Clackamas County or Eugene, places that have a federally qualified engineer — you have to work with ODOT. And the ODOT guy who’s in charge of the signage, his attitude is every place you cross anything where a car can drive, you need a stop sign. I told my engineer: ‘Here’s what’s going to happen: We’re going to have an opening day ride and I’m going to lead that ride, and I’m going to stop at every single one of those stop signs. Then I’m going to explain to everyone, ‘Yep, that’s ODOT.” And a couple weeks later, the stop signs came down. It still frustrates me, even when the path crosses streets [two stop signs remain] because, if you think about it, if it was a bike lane, those cars would be required to stop for 17th Avenue traffic, which includes bicycles. So my personal attitude is, the bicyclists should have free-flow, just like the cars on 17th do.

Idaho has that rolling stop thing. I think Oregon needs to get on the stick. Now that we have a supermajority [in the Oregon Legislature], it might be the time to go after some of this bullshit that bicyclists have to deal with.”

In 2017 the legislature passed a $5.3 billion transportation package that included a bunch of highway expansions that felt like giveaways to Republicans so Democrats could get relatively small investments for other things likes transit and safe routes to school. The 2020 Metro transportation bond is going to happen and I’m worried we’re following that same path. How do you feel about that? When this bond comes up, will you still be at the table talking strongly about bicycling investments?

“Absolutely. Where I struggle — and I do struggle — is when they talk about widening I-205, I’m like, ‘Great, and we build that new lane and guess what, demand responds. It fills back up!’ So instead of having a traffic jam for six miles, you have a traffic jam from the Oregon border down past Wilsonville. It’s induced demand. So I struggle with that because I understand people. They see all the traffic as the problem and it’s really hard to convince them that, so did Denver and so did Los Angeles and so did Dallas and so did Atlanta — and they kept building more and more and more lanes and they all filled up. That’s not the answer. I’m finally getting other mayors to hear that. [Wilsonville Mayor] Tim Knapp has been arguing that we’ve got to be building mass transit if we’re building a lane on I-205, it’s got to be set up to have buses on shoulders, those kinds of things. So it’s starting to shift. People are starting to hear it.”

If you had a vote, would you have voted for the I-205 widening project?

“It’s really hard to point fingers and say, ‘They failed’. But they did.”

“Well [large exhale]… I think… I mean… I’m not down there, so it’s really hard to point fingers and say, ‘They failed’. But they did. And the politics is about the fear of backlash. Here’s what all of those people [electeds in Salem] fear: They go, ‘OK, If we do all the things that you’re saying we should do, and we piss off 70 percent of the populace, guess what you’re going to have? You’re going to have a Republican legislature again.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, what we’re getting on on the ground is not much different than what we’d be getting if we had a Republican legislature.’ Then they kind of cringe, and they hear what I’m saying. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this supermajority. With people like [Senator] Shemia [Fagan] and [Representative] Rachel [Prusak]. They’re real go-getters.”

We still have these three freeway widening projects on the books. What do you think people should do about them? Should we fight? Should we just move on? Will you be part of the opposition?

“I would definitely weigh in… [long silence]… You always have to step in and look at the big picture. When you recognize that there are a 1,000 people a week moving into the region. When you really wrap your head around that and imagine how much worse the congestion is going to get. To some degree, we have to do everything. But my argument is this: We can get a whole lot more people out of cars and onto bikes with “X” amount of money than you can change the dynamic of a freeway with that same amount of money. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, you’re going to do much better spending on bike infrastructure. And that’s the drum I’m going to continue to beat.

I’m not necessarily going to lay myself across Highway 217 and try and stop that project. But I will continue to say we have to be spending equally, at least, on bike/ped. Because that’s how you’re truly going to get a shift in congestion. You are not going to get a shift in congestion by building lanes on highways. Building more lanes doesn’t work.”

Do you think Portland is headed in the right direction?

“I see cities that aren’t green bubbles like Portland doing really huge things. Like Indianapolis [they completed their downtown Cultural Trail in 2013]. I actually think Portland is a little behind the times. We haven’t invested to the level that some of the other cities have invested in our bike infrastructure. And we could. And I’m really hoping — because she’s such a climate hawk — that our new Metro President Lynn Peterson will drive that.”

———

Gamba won a second term as mayor in November (he ran unopposed) and told me he plans to seek higher office someday. When ODOT Director Matt Garrett resigned last month, Gamba posted on Twitter that he hopes Garrett’s replacement is a “climate hawk”. I semi-jokingly asked Gamba if he’d be interested in the ODOT job. “Wow,” he replied. “I hadn’t really considered that, I’m kind of on a different path. Hmmmm.”

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

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City announces new director of Portland Parks and Recreation

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 13:41

Adena Long.
(Photo: Commissioner Nick Fish’s office)

Portland Parks Commissioner Nick Fish has just announced Adena Long as new director of Portland Parks & Recreation.

Long replaces Mike Abbaté who resigned the position back in May.

According to Fish’s office, Long has over 20 years of experience with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and, “brings deep operational experience and a record of collaborative and innovative leadership.” Here’s more about Long:

A native New Yorker, Adena began her NYC Parks career as a seasonal Urban Park Ranger in 1997. She steadily moved up the ranks, and in 2010 became the first woman, and youngest-ever, to serve as Parks Borough Commissioner for Staten Island.

In 2018, she was recognized as manager of the year for New York City Parks. Adena has served as Deputy Commissioner for Urban Park Service and Public Programs since 2016.

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According to the NYC Parks website, Long is a native New Yorker who received her Bachelors degree from the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut and earned a Master of Science in Non-Profit Management from the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy at The New School.

The Director of Parks is an important position for advocates and all Portlanders who enjoy cycling. Parks manages places like Riverview Natural Area and Forest Park where off-road cycling access has been a hot-button issue. Also consider places like Gateway Green where Parks has put cycling front and center. Other areas where cycling intersects with the Parks bureau is on paths inside and adjacent to Parks-owned facilities like the Eastbank Esplanade, Waterfront Park, SW Terwiliger Blvd, the Springwater Corridor, and many others.

Long’s first day on the job will be February 19th. We look forward to getting to know more about Long and working with her to improve cycling in and around Portland parks. Welcome to the west coast Mrs. Long!

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

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In love with cycling, Carolyn Jen now wants to bring more women along for the ride

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 13:02

Carolyn Jen (middle) with her husband, Michael, (left) and friend, Janet, (right) at the finish line of her first
Cycle Oregon in 2011 .
(Photo: Courtesy Carolyn Jen)

This story is by Ashley Baker, a graduate student in Journalism at University of Oregon. This is her first contribution to BikePortland.

On a January morning in 2011, Carolyn Jen woke up terrified.

“I’m riding with these husbands and boyfriends and I’m wondering, where are their wives and girlfriends?”
— Carolyn Jen, Ride Like a Girl

For weeks, her husband had been trying to persuade her to participate in the Cycle Oregon Classic, a seven-day, 450-mile cycling tour through the state. Her initial thought? “You go right ahead,” she said, “I’m not going to suffer for a week.” Yet when the night of the registration party rolled around, she signed up. The next day she was afraid she wouldn’t be prepared when the event rolled around.

But with the promise of SAG (support and gear) wagons – vans that drive the course to assist riders – Carolyn found the support she needed to overcome her fear and get in the saddle. “Something changed,” Carolyn said, “where I fell in love – we both fell in love – with riding.” Not only did she cross the finish line, but Carolyn has completed four more Cycle Oregon Classics and now rides thousands of miles each year.

The more Carolyn rode, the more she noticed something troubling while on group rides. “I’m riding mostly on weekends,” she recalls, “and I’m riding with these husbands and boyfriends and I’m wondering, where are their wives and girlfriends?” She learned that many of the women who were missing on the weekend rides actually had bikes sitting in their garages. So why weren’t they on the road?

Nationwide, there’s a significant gender gap in cycling. Portland isn’t immune, despite its reputation as a haven for cyclists. Granted, Portland’s gender gap in cycling is smaller than in most of the country. According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, about 35% of bicycle trips in Portland are taken by women compared to only 25% in the rest of the United States. Still, that leaves two men riding for every one woman.

“When I started hearing what the barriers were for women,” Carolyn told me, “I really saw it through the lens of an educator.” Her career at Intel as a training manager gave her the knowledge and perspective to act. “I felt compelled that everything I was hearing I could help women overcome with a supportive training process.” So when she retired in 2013 – after months of daydreaming – that’s just what she did. In April of that year, she began planning the first meeting for what would become her women’s cycling club, Ride Like a Girl.

Scene from a recent group ride in Washington County.

“Part of my motivation,” she says, “was this screaming inside me that ‘you are missing out!'” So, she experimented with how to attract members. Carolyn organized a Summer outreach event called “Just Coffee.” Her event post on Meetup.com emphasized, “We are
not riding our bikes today! Consider this a coffee date with girlfriends where you can simply gather information.” At her very first “Just Coffee,” nearly forty women showed up. To Carolyn, this proved her hunch that there was a niche of wary-but-interested women cyclists out there. Getting them in the saddle would be another challenge.

Only half of the women who showed up for “Just Coffee” event went on to participate in the club’s beginner cycling rides. Performance anxiety (getting left behind), the fear of getting hurt (traffic), fear of mechanical failures (flat tires), and a lack of resources (time and money) are common anxieties that hold women back from riding. “It really revolves around safety, security and support,” said Carolyn, “and the fears of not having those things, combined with trying to learn something new in an insecure situation — that does not add up to fun.” She struggled to find a way to help other women see, as she had with Cycle Oregon SAG wagons, that they could be supported on rides and experience other benefits – better health, stronger relationships, confidence – all at the same time.

After two years of running Ride Like a Girl, Carolyn still felt she wasn’t reaching enough women. Even running a recreational club, Carolyn found it difficult to garner enough resources. “I hosted a beginner training series for the first two years on my own time, and then I registered as a business,” she explained. “I wanted to monetize it just because I’m giving so much time. But that seems to have thrown in yet another hurdle for women.”

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For 2018, to celebrate the club’s fifth anniversary, Carolyn suspended the membership fee. “I think if I did it for nothing I’d have an even greater response,” she says, “But I have insurance now, and I have bookkeeping expenses.”

These hurdles faced by women cyclists, especially time constraints, start at an early age and don’t let up. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that girls are 40% less likely to walk or bike to school than boys. And, according to a 2005 report from the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Science, American women take an average of 110 more trips per year than men (PDF) – a number tied to their disproportionate domestic activities such as grocery shopping and picking up children from school.

I didn’t go looking for these pictures, it’s just hard to avoid images of cycling that only depict white men in spandex

On a chilly November morning, five members of Ride Like a Girl set out for a 35-mile ride from Longbottom Coffee and Tea in Hillsboro. Women who’d grown close through cycling caught up on their kids’ college meltdowns, foods that are and aren’t allowed in their current diets, and how they’d find time to cycle over the holidays.

“I just went on a ride, and the guys were like ‘Oh look at those gears, they’re so cool.’ I couldn’t care at all.”
— Debra Rhea, Ladies Let’s Ride

The only rule was no, “gear talk,” which many women say they dread on co-ed rides. “With the guys it’s kind of heads down and let’s go,” Debra Rhea, founder of another women’s cycling club called Ladies Let’s Ride, told me, “I just went on a ride, and the guys were like ‘Oh look at those gears, they’re so cool.’ I couldn’t care at all.” Riders shared chocolate-covered espresso beans, and chatted while riding side-by-side along country roads.

Riding in the Tualatin valley – below the purple haze of the Coast range through fruit-heavy orchards – has that mystical Oregon quality. When I asked Brenna Wrye-Simpson, a Portland-based cyclocross racer, what riding a bike means to her, she said simply, “Thrill. Freedom. Community.” Those are the rewards of riding more women should be able to earn.

Only five miles before the end of the circuit, a tiny silver screw flew from Carolyn’s front wheel. All six riders pulled over and huddled in a half-moon cul-de-sac on the side of the road, their breath drifting through the cold air. Carolyn’s fender was falling off. Did anyone have a spare screw? A zip tie? Everyone sifted through their packs. Nope, nothing. Maybe, someone suggested, we should call a friend to pick us up. But then, one of the riders produced a pink hairband. Two women worked together, foreheads crinkled, to secure the loose fender to the frame and finished the ride.

Carolyn’s effort to create a supportive riding club for women has resulted in many wins, not the least of which is that Ride Like a Girl boasts 450 members and counting. Yet, her search for innovative ways to sustain and grow the group isn’t over. She still grapples, for instance, with how to leverage her limited resources to better diversify her membership — which is predominately white, retired or part-time-working women.

2019 is shaping up to be a big year for Ride Like a Girl as Carolyn makes a big marketing push and organizes another full slate of events and rides — including a special, 12-week coaching package to help women prepare for the annual Reach the Beach Ride.

To learn more and get involved, check out Ride Like a Girl on Meetup.com or Facebook.

— Ashley Baker

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Don’t laugh: ‘Worst Day of the Year Ride’ postponed due to weather

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 09:32

These riders in the 2011 Worst Day Ride might want to get those penguin costumes out again.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Organizers of the Worst Day of the Year Ride once again find themselves in an ironic situation. Due to a winter weather forecast that includes snow and ice, they’ve decided to postpone their event to a later date.

The 18th annual version of this classic Portland group ride was supposed to happen this Sunday the 10th. It will now take place on two Sundays later on February 24th. That is, of course, if the weather holds.

In an official statement, the owners of the ride wrote, “Events by Axiom’s primary goal is to ensure that your event experience meets the highest of safety and production standards. We can do cold and wet, but we cannot do ice.”

Some of you might recall a similar situation during the big winter storm of 2014. Back then, facing a much more severe storm that dropped eight inches of snow and a sheet of ice on the ground, organizers first ditched one of the three routes due to safety concerns and ultimately cancelled the ride altogether.

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Not surprisingly, the announcement that a ride based on pedaling through the “worst” weather will be postponed because of the worst weather, has been met with varying amounts of ridicule online. “Last time this was cancelled, Minneapolis held theirs in deep snow and laughed,” wrote @shpeeds2 in response to our Twitter post about this yesterday.

Events by Axiom has posted a FAQ related to the postponement. Riders who’ve paid the registration fee already can have it transferred to the new date, another ride on the company’s 2019 calendar, or the 2020 Worst Day Ride.

As for all that ridicule. “We get it,” say the organizers. “It isn’t that the weather is bad, it’s that bikes and ice go together about as well as putting your left shoe on your right foot.”

With an estimated 3,000 people expected to show up to the event, it’s quite understandable they’d err on the side of caution.

(DISCLAIMER: Events by Axiom has purchased advertising on BikePortland.)

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

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Weather conditions update: Icy patches abound, freezes temps continue, more snow on the way

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 13:21

Westbound bikeway on North Rosa Parks Way just before I-5.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

How’s the weather treating you? Are you still riding?

The snowmaggedon news coverage, business and school closures, and myriad warnings from local agencies have kept some people from driving. That’s created lower than usual auto traffic — a good thing for people on bikes. But, the conditions pose challenges for bike riders too. With several inches of new snow in the forecast, I thought it was a good time to check in about the weather.

We didn’t get too much snow yesterday, but the below-freezing temps have created a bunch of icy patches throughout the bike network. Most of the former puddles and wet spots I’ve seen around my neighborhood and now sheets of slippery ice.

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An innocent looking gutter strip is actually a major slip hazard.

If you see anything shiny and/or black while riding, avoid it if you can. If you want inspiration and tips to keep biking through the cold, snow, and ice, look no further than the BikePortland Riding in the Snow archives that include a trove of insights via reader comments.

Biking can be one of the best ways to stay mobile in winter, but it takes some practice and patience to be able to do it comfortably and safely. Share your concerns with us in the comments and you’ll likely find you’re not the only one having them.

Good luck out there and let us know how we can help.

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

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Families for Safe Streets lobbying for TriMet crash oversight, driver education bills

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 11:12

David Sale’s daughter was killed by a TriMet bus operator in 2010. Now he’s pushing for independent oversight of the agency.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A group of road safety activists led by family members of traffic crash victims and backed by The Street Trust has thrown their weight behind two bills this legislative session.

According to Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets, Senate Bill 746 would, “Encourage greater mutual expectations between all road users by combining the official state manuals for driving and bicycling and require drivers to retake a written test every eight years when they renew their licenses.” Senate Bill 747 would, “Close a gap in Oregon law that allows TriMet to lead investigations of crashes involving its own vehicles… a process that creates a conflict of interest and undermines efforts to improve system safety.”

SB 746 – Strengthen road user education and driver’s license testing requirements

In Oregon, you can drive or ride your entire life and never be re-tested on current traffic laws.

Cover of ODOT’s Bicyclist Manual.

This bill’s main sponsor is Republican Senator Chuck Thomsen (Hood River). In a statement, Sen. Thomsen said, “Pedestrian and bicyclist safety continues to be a pressing. There are a lot of new rules of the road, and there are a lot of motorists like myself who have remained unaware of some of them. SB 746 will save lives and is the right thing to do.”

Families for Safe Streets member Susan Kubota, whose 19-year-old niece Tracey Sparling was killed while bicycling across West Burnside in 2007, said all road users need better education and understanding of laws — especially those that protect the most vulnerable. “Tracey was very new to commuting by bike in Portland,” Kubota recalled in a statement. “I honestly don’t know if she knew much more than what she learned in driver’s ed. I think most people assume that a bike lane is the legal — therefore safe and proper — place to ride your bike. So she followed the ‘rules’ and stopped at the red light in the bike lane and went forward when the light turned green.”

The aim of the bill is to get more information about bicycling into the Oregon driver’s license test. Section 2 (2) of the proposed bill reads, “Instead of publishing two separate manuals, the department shall combine the Oregon driver manual with the Oregon bicyclist manual.” In addition, the bill would require people to pass a test of traffic laws when they renew their license. Surprisingly, even though traffic laws change significantly year-by-year, Oregon drivers never have to demonstrate knowledge of them after taking their initial test.

In addition to Sen. Thomsen, the bill is co-sponsored by House Rep. Carla Piluso (D-Gresham) and nine other legislators from both parties and chambers. It has been referred to the Transportation Committee but no hearing has been scheduled yet. Full details on SB 746 here.

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Sen. Thomsen and 11 other lawmakers from both parties have thrown their support behind this bill. The goal is to create more accountability and transparency in crashes that involve TriMet.

Darla Sturdy, shown here with her daughter Savanna Zelinka, and son, Aaron Sturdy-Wagner, has spent over a decade pushing for TriMet safety reforms.
(Photo: Families for Safe Streets)

Currently, the Portland region’s public transit agency leads its own investigations into serious injury and fatal crashes that involve its light rail trains and buses. SB 747 would establish an independent TriMet Crash Advisory Committee appointed by the Oregon Transportation Commission that would assess and analyze the circumstances of each crash, and make recommendations to prevent similar crashes. The bill also requires TriMet to provide meeting space and staff support.

Inspiration for the bill comes from Families for Safe Streets Member Darla Sturdy whose 16-year-old son Aaron Sturdy-Wagner was crushed to death under a MAX train in 2003. Aaron was biking across the tracks at the Gresham City Hall station when he was struck. In 2007 (before Families for Safe Streets existed), Sturdy successfully lobbied for a bill that led to independent safety inspections of crossings throughout the light-rail network and resulted in upgrades to 80 crosswalks near MAX stations. She also pushed for independent crash investigations back then, but that bill didn’t pass.

According to a statement from Families for Safe Streets, Sturdy’s lobbying campaign led TriMet analyzing 505 crash reports. They passed 20 of them along to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for further review. The NTSB found that one in four came to an incorrect conclusion, a statistic that underscores the need for an independent committee.

This time around Sturdy has other safety advocates in her corner, including David Sale, the father of a 22-year old woman who was one of two people who died in the highly publicized collision with a TriMet bus operator while walking in a crosswalk in 2010. “Public transportation needs to be held to the highest standard,” Sale said in a statement. “They need to be transparent in every way when it comes to safety. This is only a small step forward but it’s a great beginning.”

Full details on SB 747 here.

The Street Trust has partnered with Families for Safe Streets and is supporting both of these bills.

In related news, The Street Trust has hired a new advocacy director to replace Gerik Kransky, who held the post for seven years before moving on last summer. Richa Poudyal is a former resident of Boulder, Colorado who previously worked as legislative director for Oregon House Rep. Karin Power and is a current Climate, Health, and Housing Fellow at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO).

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

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Guest post: ‘Bicitaxis’ and the streets of Cuba

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 14:05


*Photos by Ryan Hashagen

The author pedaling one of Havana’s Bicitaxis.

This post is by Portlander Ryan Hashagen. Ryan is a transportation advocate (volunteers with Better Block PDX, Central Eastside Industrial Council, Old Town/Chinatown Business Association) and owner of Icicle Tricycles, a local business that builds, and sells cargo bikes used by businesses worldwide. A keen observer and lover of street life, Ryan’s latest trip to Cuba gave him an opportunity to learn more about that country’s vibrant cargo bike culture.

The streets of Cuba are bustling with people in every town, big and small. Pedicabs or “Bicitaxis” are ubiquitous. From Historic Havana to tiny rural towns, Bicitaxis are a key part of the transportation network. Operating a Bicitaxi is one of the categories of private market self-employment that the Cuban Government currently allows.

Almost every pedicab and tricycle in Cuba is unique. There is no national state run tricycle factory, so each trike has been welded up locally, with different styles dominating different regions. Raked out recumbents in the rural towns and upright cruiser style trikes in Havana and Trinidad. Tractor or motorcycle wheels and tires on the trikes. These trikes are heavy and strong.



According to Bicitaxi drivers I spoke with, people started making pedicabs in the late 1990s as the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba suffered economically. The first Bicictaxis were designed to meet local needs and served as local taxis for runs to the market, taking kids to and from school, and for helping with small deliveries. These are still the main role for the Bicitaxis today — plus tourism in destination locales. The economic reforms of the last 15 years or so have seen Bicitaxis become integrated into the economy as an approved sector of entrepreneurship, albeit with several different permitting and insurance requirements to maintain a Bicitaxi license with the government.

Cargo trikes were also prevalent in Cuba, often being pedaled for deliveries on construction sites, to deliver produce to the local markets, or being parked streetside for vending.

I made fast friends with the Cuban Bicitaxistas. They were just as curious about pedicabs in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere as I was about their machines. I’m very grateful for their hospitality and friendliness!

— Ryan Hashagen

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