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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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Man says he was ‘hunted’ and harassed by a driver while riding alone on rural road

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 11:24

This is the intersection of NW Skyline and Moreland, where Joe Harris called 911 to report what he calls a “bike stalker”. The suspect was waiting for him in the turnout in the upper left when he summited the climb (from the right).
(Photo: Joe Harris)

Northwest Portland resident Joe Harris says he experienced a nightmare.

“He was slow and methodical, he stared me down, he drove alongside… at other times he drove ahead and waited for me, then simply drifted around incessantly tailing me at about 50 meters.”
— Joe Harris

The way Harris tells it, on Sunday, May 5th, he was riding alone up NW Moreland Road in rural Multnomah County (about 12 miles northwest of the St. Johns Bridge) when he noticed a man in a white, late model Subaru Outback had rolled up behind him. Harris says the driver “hunted” him for a half hour.

“At several points, he drove alongside and attempted to engage in conversation and asked if I needed to stop for water; at other times he drove ahead and waited for me, then simply drifted around incessantly tailing me at about 50 meters,” Harris wrote on his personal Facebook page.

Realizing he was alone and in a place without cell coverage, Harris rode up the hill as fast as he could. When he finally made it to the intersection with Skyline Road, he called 911. As he made the call, he looked up, only to realize that the man in the Subaru had pulled into the turnout to wait for him. Then the man began to drive toward Harris. “He started cutting across the road and straight towards me,” Harris explained. Thankfully he was saved when a woman riding a horse from a nearby ranch emerged onto the road and the man drove away.

It was, Harris recalled later, “Hands down, the scariest lazy Sunday spin I’ve had for decades.”

Map of the alleged incident drawn by Joe Harris.

Two officers from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded quickly. Harris said one drove off to look for the suspect and the other escorted him to the (relative) safety of Highway 30. As they made their way to the main highway, Harris said they came up on another rider who said he was also harassed by the same driver.

This man in the Subaru allegedly harassed Harris and used his car as to menace him. To make it even creepier, Harris recalled something like the words, “I fear only Satan” or “Satan is afraid of me” written in red marker on the car’s tailgate.

Reached via phone last week, Harris said the incident has shaken him on many levels. “This guy was on my tail for 30 minutes. He did not give up. He waited for me. And when he passed, he was slow and methodical, he stared me down,” Harris said. The man tried to start conversations with Harris several different times. When he took a swig from his water bottle, the man sped up, drove slowly right beside him, held up a two-liter jug of water and said, “Do you want to stop for some water.”

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Harris, an IT consultant and co-editor of The Outer Line on Velo News, is convinced the man had these interactions planned out beforehand in an effort to expose his vulnerabilities. Harris also thinks the man had a police radio scanner on inside the car so he would know if authorities were onto him. NW Moreland is one of the roads in that area without cell coverage and it has very little traffic — both facts Harris thinks were well-known to the suspect.

The driver is a white male in his 20s to early 30s with closely buzzed hair with a sharp chin and nose and sunken eyes. He’s driving a late-model white Subaru Outback with a smashed right front fender and tailgate.

Portlander Justin Gericke saw Harris’ post on Facebook and it seemed very familiar to him. Gericke was biking on SW Terwilliger last summer when a man with creepy behavior, driving a car with the same description, came up next to him and tried to engage him in conversation. “He appeared to be under the influence of something,” Gericke recalled when I asked him for details. “And he became offensive after I declined to engage him.” Gericke immediately called 911 as the man in the car yelled at him and he only sped away after a long line of other drivers had stacked up behind him.

“I cannot be certain it was the same guy, but the encounter was similar enough to me to think it was,” Gericke shared.

Harris thinks if it was the same man, he’s purposely moved further away from the city to more remote locations. “He’s going further out for isolation for whatever he’s hunting,” is how Harris put it.

I’m still trying to confirm the case with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. I spoke with a deputy today who couldn’t immediately find Harris’ case. The deputy who Harris met out on Skyline isn’t back on duty until Thursday.

Portland-based lawyer and author of Bicycling and the Law, Bob Mionske, has spoken to Harris about the incident. Mionske says bringing a legal case against this driver would be difficult unless there were corroborating witnesses and a positive identification of the driver could be made. “In the meantime,” Mionske shared with me today, “It’s best we all share information about this guy and take precautions until we determine his motivation.”

Please be careful and keep your eyes peeled for the suspect: Harris says the driver is a white male in his 20s to early 30s with closely buzzed hair, a sharp chin and nose and sunken eyes. He’s driving a late-model white Subaru Outback with a smashed right front fender and tailgate. Harris also noticed his front license plate was bent and damaged.

Given the details of this case, we’re concerned that this guy is still out there and poses an imminent threat. Remember, it’s always safer to ride in a group. “Be aware of the roads you’re using when riding alone,” Harris shared, “and try to use routes with more frequent traffic and generally stronger cellular reception for emergencies.”

If you have interacted with this person and/or see him, please call 911 or the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office at 503-988-4300.

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

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Feeling the strength of moms on Mother’s Day

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 09:36

We were all smiles for Mother’s Day.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

After re-reading my last year’s post On the exhaustion of motherhood and why I want to bike with other families on Mother’s Day I realize this is a tiring time of year for me. Despite the too little sleep and too much stress, thanks to my bike I still feel now as I did back when my kids were little: capable, strong, and free.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

This year, like the last seven years, I celebrated Mother’s Day by organizing a bike ride for CycloFemme, a global collective bike ride born in 2012. Ours was a wonderful three-mile bike ride with a terrific group of attendees: repeat Kidical Mass family bikers, members of the Outdoor Afro Portland Meetup group, a family who came from out of town specifically for this ride, a family with three generations of women, families who heard about the event via their coop preschool, and a dad on an e-scooter (he’d been planning to use bike share, but the scooter was waiting right at the park).

2019 Kidical Mass PDX Mother’s Day CycloFemme ride.

It was the highlight of my day! Granted the rest of my day was spent doing typical mom stuff: propping myself upright with a cold, fever, and pulled back muscle, forgetting to eat breakfast while making the kids waffles, tending to a jammed thumb (therefore that passenger in my lead photo), and forgetting to eat dinner while distracting the kids from a little family crisis. But regardless, it would have been the highlight of any day!

I’m quite feeling this manifesto from CycloFemme after our ride:

“WE BELIEVE: That strong communities are built around strong women. That being on a bike brings us closer to our community, to nature, and to ourself. That from action comes change. That our hope, courage, and strength is amplified when we unite.”

Did you do anything bikey for Mother’s Day? Or do you have a different day (Father’s Day, birthday, Memorial Day, etc…) you like to use as an excuse to get out on two wheels? Let me know in the comments! 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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Washington County Sheriffs seek reckless driver who hit and injured bicycle rider

Tue, 05/14/2019 - 08:24

(Video of suspect taken by a witness and released by Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office needs help finding reckless driver who hit an innocent person, gave them the finger, then fled the scene. The victim was on a bicycle and had stopped on the side of the road to check his map.

The crash happened Saturday (5/11) around 2:00 pm on NW Hillside Road in unincorporated Washington County, southwest of Banks.

Here’s more from the official statement:

“According to witness reports, an unidentified man was driving a newer Mercedes convertible around 2:00 p.m. on NW Hillside Road when he hit a bicyclist stopped on the shoulder. The victim was checking his map when the unidentified driver hit him somewhere near the intersection with NW Clapshaw Hill Road. The victim was knocked to the ground, his clothing torn and was bleeding from the leg. The suspect drove off, making no attempt to stop and check on him, and gave the bicyclist ‘the finger’ as he drove off.”

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The Sheriff’s Office says the suspect was seen by other witnesses driving recklessly, swerving into oncoming lanes of traffic. “A motorcyclist told deputies he was almost run off the road and nearly hit by the same driver on NW Old Clapshaw Hill Road,” the statement reads.

The video above of the suspect vehicle was taken by one of the witnesses.

Please be on the lookout for a white man in his 60 wearing a baseball cap with a thick “Tom Selleck mustache” driving a newer, champagne-colored Mercedes convertible.

Anyone with information about this vehicle or driver is asked to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office by calling non-emergency dispatch at 503-629-0111.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Trump’s tariffs, SMILE lanes, language matters, and more

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 08:33

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

But first, a word from our sponsor: **This week’s roundup is sponsored by our friends at Treo Bike Tours in eastern Oregon, who encourage you to book your all-inclusive, dream cycling vacation today.**

Thanks, Trump: The trade war with China has begun and that means a 25% increase on imports from China that will include many bicycles and bike parts, a price increase that could “devastate” the industry.

The Economist knows: One of the world’s most respected publications offers a sober look at the massive subsidies propping up Uber/Lyft and private car use, and reveals the reckoning ahead as those subsidies begin to vanish. And what if Uber/Lyft put their weight behind congestion pricing as a way to keep their services price-competitive?

Freeway folly: Years after wasting $1 Billion to widen a freeway in Los Angeles, traffic has gotten… wait for it… worse.

Language matters: Outside magazine takes a dive into a topic near-and-dear to our hearts: How law enforcement and the media influence the public’s perception and understanding of crashes.

Oakland’s freeway fight: Seems like we’ve reached a point where it’s becoming more acceptable for politicians to question the primacy of urban freeways. This is a very good thing.

Cars instead of trees: Instead of removing car storage space, New York City will remove dozens of trees to make room for a new bikeway next to Prospect Park.

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Activism works: A councilmember in D.C. has introduced The Vision Zero Omnibus Act that would make protected bike lanes mandatory, prohibit right-turn-on-red, empower people to enforce bike lane laws, and more.

Revolution is coming: New York City transportation activists are some of the smartest, most dedicated in the country. They’ve done the research and have decided to wholeheartedly embrace e-scooters and the “micromobility revolution” as a key strategy to take back the streets from car drivers.

Scootless (no more) in Seattle: E-scooters are coming to Seattle and city officials recently hosted staff from the Portland Bureau of Transportation to seek advice.

SMILE Lanes: A University of Oregon planning professor asked his students to come up with a new name for “bike lanes” that reflects the need to welcome scooters and other devices into the space. They came up with Shared Micromobility Integration Lane with Emergency access, or SMILE lanes. (LIT Lanes is another one we like.)

Who breaks laws more: A new study from the Danish Cycling Embassy says bicycle riders break traffic laws at a far lower rate than car drivers.

Video of the Week: Author Peter Walker posits that while it’s annoying that some bicycle riders break traffic laws, it’s really more a distraction from much larger road safety problems:

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

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We love bikes and Blazers! Show your support on Rip City Ride day this Sunday

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 13:02

(We love our bikes and we love our Blazers. Photos by J Maus/BikePortland)

A man died last week while cycling alone on a mountain road in West Linn

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 08:52

David Schermer remembered on Lawyer Ride Facebook page.

Cycling was a huge part of 69-year old David Schermer’s life. All the way up until the end.

Schermer died while riding his Giant TCR road bike down Pete’s Mountain Road in West Linn last Friday. According to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office there was no other vehicle or person involved in the crash. Evidence suggests Schermer lost control on the steep downhill portion of the road where it ends at the junction of SW Riverwood Drive and SW Hoffman Road (see photos below). The turn to Hoffman is nearly a right-angle and the turn to Riverwood is quite sharp as well. The last section of Pete’s Mountain Road drops over 100 feet at an average grade of about 7% in just three-tenths of a mile.

Sergeant Dan Krause from the Sheriff’s Office told me yesterday that a crash reconstruction and forensics team responded to the scene last Friday around 1:30 pm. Sgt. Krause said they found no skid marks and no other physical evidence of another bicycle or automobile. “It appeared to be an unfortunate incident,” he said. “We found nothing at the scene that would have caused this crash.” Schermer was found in a ditch about 20-30 feet from the intersection. He died on the scene from head and neck-related injuries.

(Left: Aerial view of the intersection with arrow showing Schermer’s direction of travel. Right: Street view looking downhill (southbound) just before intersection of Pete’s Mountain Road and SW Riverwood/Hoffman.)

Schermer was a lawyer and had an office in downtown West Linn about seven miles northeast of where he crashed. He was likely on one of his usual lunch rides on roads he knew very well.

I first heard about this when acquaintances of his contacted BikePortland looking for details about what happened. There were no news reports and law enforcement didn’t make any public statements about the crash. Then I saw a tribute to him on the Facebook page of the local Lawyer Ride. That tribute was written by Schermer’s friend and riding buddy Dan Rohlf.

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Rohlf remembered David as an energetic adventurer who loved to challenge himself on the bike. “David died as he lived — going for it in the outdoors, whether on a bike, climbing a mountain, on cross-country skis, or hiking for miles,” Rohlf shared on Facebook. “He climbed the Tourmalet like Pantani a few years ago, and ripped passes in the Dolomites. But his idea of a perfect ride was a climb to Council Crest, a few laps on Fairmount and Humphrey/Hewett, then Terwilliger to the Multnomah Lucky Lab for pizza.”

“David was just a wonderful guy; he had a smile for everyone, was a fantastic husband, father, and grandfather, and was loved by his family and friends alike… our community has suffered a profound loss,” Rohlf added.

Schermer was an avid mountain climber and member of Portland Mountain Rescue. In a statement on their Facebook page today, PMR wrote, “Willing to hump a big load and quietly competent, David was the rescuer you always wanted on your team. Over his tenure with PMR, he logged almost 1000 hours of training and missions. More important, he was generous with kindness and a cheerful word. David, we always knew you had our backs, we just wish we could have been there to cover yours.”

He had also ridden the Ronde PDX ride several times. This legendary and unsanctioned ride tackles all the big West Hills climbs. This ride is “officially cancelled” but the word on the street is many people are likely to show up tomorrow (Saturday 5/11) to do it anyways (10:00 am from NW 31st and NW Industrial). If you ride it, keep Schermer in your thoughts. Rest in peace David.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Stages Cycling, West End Bikes, Bike Gallery, Go By Bike

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 07:33

There has been a flurry of job opportunities lately. If you want to break into the local cycling industry, or need an occupational upgrade, you’ve come to the right place.

See the freshest listing below…

–> Customer Service Rep – Stages Cycling

–> Weekend Sales Associate – West End Bikes

–> Bike Mechanic wanted – Bike Gallery

–> Go By Bike Manager & Advocate – Go By Bike

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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: Kids, track racing, Sandy Ridge tour, dogs on bikes and more

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 07:18

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Ready? Set. Go!

Check out our picks for the weekend…

Friday, May 10th

***BP Pick!!*** Community Cycling Center 25th Anniversary Gala – 5:30 pm at NW Natural (NW)
We can’t wait to help the CCC celebrate a quarter-century of “broadening access to bicycling”. Join us to toast this beloved nonprofit. More info here.

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Our Calendar and Event Guide are looking for a new sponsor. Contact our sales manager for details – jonathan@bikeportland.org.

Saturday, May 11th

Cascade Chainbreaker MTB Race – All day in Bend
Bring the family and friends for this spectator-friendly race with a course that includes lava outcrops, open views of the Cascades and flowing singletrack. More info here.

Black Cat Omnium – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Alpenrose Velodrome (SW)
Battle Kat Racing invites you to the track for a full slate of sprint and endurance events. More info here.

Bicycling With Kids Workshop – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at Clever Cycles (SE)
Get ready for the Gorge Pedal ride in July, learn about riding in the Gorge, and hear from family-riding experts at this free event. More info here.

Sandy Ridge Intro Tour – 1:30 to 4:00 pm at Sandy Ridge
Been wanting to discover Sandy Ridge? Let NW Trail Alliance show you the way with this perfect intro ride that will get you familiar with the trails. Everyone is welcome! More info here.

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Women’s Community Ride – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at Sellwood Cycle Repair (SE)
This newly-announced women’s ride series hosted by Swift Racing will kick off with a 16-20 mile ride at a conversational pace. Newbies welcome and no one will get dropped. More info here.

Kidical Mass CycloFemme Ride – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at Sewallcrest Park (SE)
A perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day and join the global CycloFemme movement! This will be an easy, “park-to-park” ride of 2.5 miles, so it’s even doable for tiny pedalers and push-bikers. More info here.

Corvidae Bike Club Pupperpalooza Ride – 2:00 pm at Peninsula Park
Friendly and inclusive local bike club Corvidae wants you to bring your favorite pet along for this ride. They’ll stop at parks to play along the way. More info here.

Willamette River Welcome Ride – 9:30 am at Sellwood Park (SE)
A Portland Bicycling Club ride leader will take you on a 27-mile jaunt of classic Portland paths and neighborhoods. Expect to meet nice people and at least one stop for snacks and drinks. More info here.

Have fun out there! And make sure share your adventures by tagging @bikeportland on social media.

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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Photo gallery and recap of the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 17:06

Riders concentrate one one of several roaring descents at the Coast Gravel Epic last Saturday.
(Photos: Harry Apelbaum/Apelbaum Studios)

Before we jump off into another weekend of great riding, how about some inspiration from the last one?

Last weekend I had the great fortune to do the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic. This event was the kickoff of the Oregon Triple Crown, a series organized by Mudslinger Events (a family-run business with decades of experience) of three races/rides throughout our state that challenge riders who want fully-supported, challenging routes and aren’t afraid of bumpy, gravel-strewn backroads.

The Epic, along with its sibling events the Sasquatch Duro in Oakridge May 18th and the Oregon Gran Fondo in Cottage Grove June 1st, tap into the skyrocketing popularity of mass-start rides with big courses where at least some of the miles are on unpaved roads. In case of the Coast Epic and the Duro, half the miles are dirt. One of the things that drew me to this series were the locations themselves. I love an excuse to spend time in these classic, small Oregon adventure towns defined by their jaw-droppingly beautiful natural features.

(Photos: Harry Apelbaum/Apelbaum Studios)

At the convivial start in the parking lot of the Waldport Community Center, I got a chance to check out some of the bikes people chose for the day’s course: either 37 or 60 miles with ample amounts of climbing. As you can see below, there was a wide range of bikes and riders. That’s what I love about the gravel scene: It draws everything from serious roadies to Sunday ramblers.

(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I opted for the big “Abomination” route which ended up being about 56 miles with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. What a route! Even though none of the roads were closed, I think I only saw 2-3 drivers all day. It felt like we had the entire Siuslaw National Forest to ourselves. I was happy to not have any distractions because the terrain was tough. Beyond what felt like climbs that never ended, there was a section of timber had been freshly harvested. It left behind soft dirt and fresh, sharp gravel. It was hard to stay upright.

What I’ll remember most were the descents and bucolic scenes riding along the Alsea River.

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(Photos: Harry Apelbaum/Apelbaum Studios)

Unlike last year when I did this ride with my brother and took a more chill approach, this time around I wanted to see how fast I could go. I was on a brand new bike (more on that later), so I was still “moving in” so-to-speak and didn’t feel 100% right. I also had a tubeless tire blowout (total mystery why it happened, maybe too much air pressure?). Thankfully I had a spare tube and threw it in without much hassle. In the end, I did fine; but I know I could do much better. Can’t wait to try again next year!

The Klatch and I will be spending a lot of time together this summer.
(Photo: Ayleen Crotty)

One of the perks of doing Triple Crown events is they are shot by a top-notch photographer. Harry Apelbaum of Apelbaum Studios does excellent work. I’ve shared just a selection of his images from the Epic in this post. See them all here.

If you’re curious about my new bike, you’ll be hearing more about it in the weeks and months to come. It’s a special, Oregon Triple Crown edition Co-Motion Klatch. Made in Eugene and outfitted with Rolf Prima Hyalite wheels (also made in Eugene!), this bike was designed with gravel racing in mind. We tried to make it a perfect blend of efficiency on the road and durability/fun off-road. We’re still in the early stages of our courtship; but so far, I feel like the relationship has serious potential.

Stay tuned for more coverage of gravel riding in Oregon. And thanks to Co-Motion, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS for helping me get out there.

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

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New piece of 40-Mile Loop path is paved and protected on NE Marine Drive

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 12:48

Sure beats a gravel-strewn bike lane next to fast big-rigs!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County and Metro recently worked together to construct a nice new piece of the 40-Mile Loop on NE Marine Drive in Troutdale. And it’s not the only sign of progress for riding in this area — which happens to be a popular gateway to the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Short but sweet.

The new path is about a half-mile long. It starts at NW Eastwind Drive and ends at NW Dunbar. The path connects to an existing section of the off-street path that begins in Blue Lake Park about two miles to the west.

I noticed the new path while on a ride last weekend. Before it was put in, this section of Marine Drive bothered me. It’s in a corner where people drive very fast and there are a lot of big trucks around (see before photo below). The bike lane was always strewn with gravel due to a big turnout space adjacent to the road shoulder. Now it’s clean and smooth and separated from drivers via a planted median.

Before the path was put in.

Multnomah County says the project was triggered by a nearby industrial construction project that required the developer to help fund the path.

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Port of Portland graphic showing two new path segments to be built next year.

If you ride in this area, we’ve also got an update on another project that will add several miles of new paths that will allow for a much lower-stress connection between Blue Lake Park and the Sandy River/Historic Highway.

Remember in 2015 when I shared a few unpaved connections between Marine Drive and the Sandy River Delta area that connected directly to the new bike path over the Sandy River? A Port of Portland project to formalize these connections (that I first reported on in August 2016) has moved forward and is scheduled for construction next year.

(Harlow Road Segment as it exists today on the left, and the currently unpaved levee between Blue Lake Park and Sundial Road on the right. Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Harlow Road segment.

According to a presentation at the recent Metro Quarterly Trails Forum, the Port of Portland is currently in design phase for the “Fairview Gap” project. They plan to construct a 1.7 mile path that will connect to Marine Drive at Blue Lake Park. They will install a flashing beacon west of NE 223rd Avenue and the new path will follow a currently unpaved levee crossing to Sundial Road. A separate segment will pave 1/3 of a mile north-south along the Sandy River to fill a gap between the existing Reynolds Trail and NE Harlow Road.

Construction on these two segments will start next year.

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

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Columbia County to develop 40 miles of unpaved roads and trails near St. Helens

Thu, 05/09/2019 - 09:56

Approximate location of future roads/trails. St. Helens and Columbia River are in lower right.

Columbia County will get another bicycling boost thanks to Travel Oregon and the City of St. Helens.

“We are considered to be part of the Portland region, but we don’t get as much attention as things around Portland. So this is really refreshing and a very good thing for us.”
— Karen Kane, Columbia County

In the hills just west of St. Helens about 37 miles north of downtown Portland, the county plans to develop about 30-40 miles of new unpaved roads for recreational use.

According to a statement from the County, the trails would be built on a 2,400 acre parcel (about half the size of Forest Park) of city-owned timber property known as the St. Helens Tree Farm. The parcels are located around Salmonberry Lake, a city-owned reservoir about seven miles west of Highway 30 on Pittsburgh Road. The vision for the land is to use half the property for motorized vehicles and the remainder for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. The city also wants to develop a campground.

The cycling trails would be built by Christopher Bernhardt of Portland-based C2 Recreation Consulting, the same firm that has worked on many other sites in the region including Gateway Green and Sandy Ridge.

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(Map: Columbia County)

Columbia County has long sought the attention of Oregon’s statewide tourism board, but local leaders say they’ve often been overlooked. Now that’s beginning to change. Columbia County Director of Communications Karen Kane says, “Travel Oregon has really been focusing on this county. It’s been tough because we are considered to be part of the Portland region, but we don’t get as much attention as things around Portland. So this is really refreshing and a very good thing for us.”

BikePortland readers know that cycling in Columbia County is some of the best in the region. We’ve shared great rides in the past from the Crown-Zellerbach Trail, Bacona Road, Vernonia and well beyond.

So far there’s $20,000 available (thanks to Travel Oregon grants) for planning and development. The Columbia County Economic Team, a group looking to boost the County’s tourism appeal, plans to apply for larger grants through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to further flesh out the project.

A Stakeholders Forum will be held Tuesday, May 14th at the Columbia County Courthouse in St. Helens. This will be the first step in the creation of a comprehensive plan for the site.

Comments from groups and individuals are encouraged. Send them to Columbia County Parks Director Casey Garrett at casey.garrett@columbiacountyor.gov.

If you love riding in Columbia County as much as I do, and want to discover new roads and meet cool people, consider signing up for the Columbia Century Challenge. It starts and ends in Clatskanie on June 15th.

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

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On SW Corridor light rail line, $100 million could go to garages – or to better options

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 12:43

Huge park-and-rides, like this one at the end of the Orange Line south of Milwaukie, convince a few hundred cars to pull off the freeway sooner. But homes and bikeways near rail would make car ownership optional. (Photo: TriMet)

Editor’s note: This piece by former BikePortland news editor Michael Andersen is cross-posted from Sightline Institute. If you’d like to get involved in shifting tens of millions of dollars from parking garages to other ideas like protected bike lanes, affordable housing or bus improvements, there’s an important 15-minute public comment period coming up Monday, 9:10 a.m. at Tigard City Hall.

The people planning the Portland area’s next light-rail line seem to be steering away from a scenario where taxpayers pour $100 million of precious public-transit funding into a series of giant parking garages.

But unless the public speaks up in the next month, it’s possible that a handful of elected officials will push to build the garages along the “Southwest Corridor” through Southwest Portland, Tigard and Tualatin anyway—despite a mountain of evidence that spending the money on bus service, infrastructure for walking and biking, and transit-oriented affordable housing would do far more to improve mobility, reduce auto dependence and cut pollution.

“If we want to maximize transit ridership, park-and-rides are far less effective than other options… The answer is to make transit an efficient and attractive option without requiring auto use in the first place.”
— Madeline Kovacs from Sightline Institute, during a presentation to the project committee last week.

TriMet staffers seem to be looking to “update their approach” to park-and-rides based on a closer look at the factors that actually drive transit ridership, said Ramtin Rahmani, a volunteer on the community advisory committee for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project.

Rahmani (speaking only for himself) said last week that instead of pushing multi-level garages at several stations along the new rail line through Portland, Tigard, and Tualatin, TriMet’s staff members are making the case for surface lots, except at the end of the line near Bridgeport Mall. Their theory is that transit funding is better spent elsewhere and the surface lots would preserve the option of adding housing later.

This proposal isn’t perfect. TriMet has indeed redeveloped a few park-and-ride lots over the years, but it’s rarely removed parking spaces when doing so. That said, as I argued in November, surface lots are less bad than free parking garages. Here’s a slightly updated version of what my Sightline colleague Madeline Kovacs told the rail line’s community advisory committee when it met last week:

At $52,000 per stall, free park-and-ride garages are among the least effective ways taxpayers can spend money on public transit.

TriMet records show that 38 percent of MAX park-and-ride stalls sit empty on a typical weekday. But even if we generously assume a vacancy rate of just 20 percent for Southwest Corridor garages and a 45-year lifespan, then taxpayers are spending about $7 for every weekday a space will be used. The region’s taxpayers would be essentially buying more than the equivalent of a free transit pass for anyone who shows up at a garage, on one condition: that they show up in a car.

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If we want to maximize transit ridership, park-and-rides are far less effective than other options. A 2016 King County Metro analysis found that capital investments to improve bus speed and reliability created more than three times as many riders per dollar as free park-and-rides. TriMet’s own analysis projected that even if several new garages are built for the Southwest Corridor, 85 percent of future trips will come from foot, bike or transfer traffic, not park-and-rides.

If we want to minimize congestion and pollution, the meaningful answer is not to convince 200, 300 or 500 cars—out of the 300,000 that drive to jobs in Portland each day—to pull off I-5 a few miles farther south. The answer is to make transit an efficient and attractive option without requiring auto use in the first place.

This can mean improvements to bus, walk and bike connections to rail. $100 million would be enough to install networks of low-stress protected bike lanes for miles in every direction around all 13 Southwest Corridor stops. It can also mean creating mixed-use, mixed-income developments within walking distance of rail stops—something that becomes much harder if you already dedicated the prime land near your rail stop to parking lots and garages. $100 million would be enough to create or preserve 600 more affordable homes along the corridor.

If we want to improve mobility for lower-income people, the solution is not to offer free parking to several hundred car-owning downtown workers in the hope that some of them might be poor. The solution is to spend the money on things we know disproportionately benefit low-income residents: better bus transit and affordable housing near transit. Both of these also boost overall transit use, creating a self-reinforcing cycle that helps improve the system for everyone.

The huge cost of new rail lines can sometimes make park-and-ride garages seem cheap by comparison. They are not. The cost of building something great, like a new public rail line used by tens of thousands of Oregonians, shouldn’t be allowed to conceal the boondoggle of free garages. Our region desperately needs to spend this money on things that will matter more.

Happily, TriMet staffers made some of the same points themselves to the advisory committee Thursday night. Take a look at this section of their slideshow. (Slide 41, for example: “Parking is expensive.” TrIMet puts it at $52,000 per garage space and $18,000 per surface lot space, plus $1 per space per day to operate.)

TriMet’s staffers also shared this image comparing greenhouse gas pollution for driving alone, for driving alone to a park-and-ride, and for taking bus or bike to a rail station:

Shifting a trip from car to bus-plus-rail is 67 percent better at cutting carbon pollution than shifting it from car to park-and-ride. (Image: Los Angeles Metro. Data from Chester et al, Infrastructure and automobile shifts: positioning transit to reduce life-cycle environmental impacts for urban sustainability goals.

But it’s not TriMet staffers who have de facto power over what ends up in the light-rail plan. The Southwest Corridor Steering Committee, which consists mostly of elected officials from suburban jurisdictions, will effectively decide how many transit dollars and how much transit-adjacent real estate to dedicate to park-and-rides, even within the City of Portland.

The agency could scrap its garage plans and solicit proposals from outside the agency for mixed-income housing developments. If a new building (probably with some shared parking on-site) can generate more transit riders than a parking lot alone, it could be allowed on the site instead.

Another option: The regional 2020 ballot issue that’s expected to fund this rail line could give cities money to install networks of protected bike lanes around each stop. That, along with relatively dense suburban station areas, can be the “secret weapon” of suburban transit ridership.

TriMet’s steering committee will briefly take up this issue at a meeting next week, and will go into depth at its next meeting on June 10.

Free park-and-rides might seem great for transit use. But look closely. They’re not: They soak up money that would be better used making transit better and easier to access. Yes, garages are visible. But that visibility is just a monument to our failure to make transit more attractive than driving in any way but one: free parking.

— Michael Andersen: (503) 333-7824, @andersem on Twitter and michael@sightline.org.

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