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The City of Beaverton wants a dockless bike share system

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 12:32

SW Canyon Road in Beaverton.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A major suburb just a few miles west of downtown Portland wants a dockless bike share system.

The City of Beaverton (population 100,000) has launched an official request for information (RFI) to learn more from companies that, “can provide useful and relevant information on a dockless bike share program.” Bike-share is called out in Beaverton’s 2017 Active Transportation Plan and city planners say it’s a needed weapon in their fight against congestion which is only expected to get worse as the city grows.

Here’s more from the RFI (PDF here):

“Metro anticipates that the Beaverton Regional Center will increase by 4,500 new jobs and 10,000 new residents over the next 25 years. As the City continues to grow, congestion on local roadways will continue to increase. As one way to help reduce or at least moderate congestion, the City is looking to increase multi-modal opportunities for residents to get to work, to transit, and in the case of walking and biking, as a general form of mobility and recreation.”


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From the RFI language it looks like Beaverton wants to do a one-year pilot program and “if all goes well” they’ll make it permanent.

Some Beaverton residents are already familiar with bike share because Nike’s World Headquarters building has a Biketown system of their own. Nike is not only the title sponsor of Portland’s bike share system, they also provide around 400 bikes to employees and visitors of their HQ campus and nearby offices. The bikes are often taken from the offices to nearby transit centers.

Questions of potential operators in the RFI make it clear that the City of Beaverton wants to have robust access to system data and make sure the system is accessible to low-income people, is available for people without credit cards, and for people who don’t speak English.

One key detail not covered in the RFI is the geographic service area. Given the urban form and land use of Beaverton, this will be an important thing to get right.

Our Beaverton-based, Washington County contributor Naomi Fast says being able to use the bikes on major arterials will be a must. The caveat with is those arterials are managed and owned by the county and have 45 mph speed limits which could be a recipe for concern. “I think a dockless bike system in downtown Beaverton would succeed,” Fast shared with me today. “But even better would be if people found it possible to use the bikes along unincorporated Washington County arterials that border and go through Beaverton.”

The RFI was released the morning after an election that cemented a more multimodal slant in Washington County transportation politics.

The city will accept responses to this RFI until early December and use the responses to prepare a request for proposals.

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

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In Oregon, election night was great for Democrats and progressive policies

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 07:56

Parking reform activist Tony Jordan at a campaign event for Jo Ann Hardesty (center).
(Photo: Tony Jordan)

In the first national election since Donald Trump assumed the presidency — and despite gerrymandered districts, voter suppressions efforts, and racist campaigning by some Republicans — America tilted to the left last night. Here in the Portland region, the swing toward Democrats and progressive policies was even more pronounced.

In the race to replace longtime Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Jo Ann Hardesty cruised to an easy win over Loretta Smith. Hardesty becomes the first black woman to hold a council seat. Hardesty was endorsed by The Street Trust and nearly every transportation reformer in the BikePortland orbit was a major supporter.

Kathryn Harrington is the new Washington County Chair.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Women now have a 3-2 majority on Portland City Council, something Hardesty already seems to relish. OPB reported last night that during her victory speech she remarked, “We have big problems in this city but I am proud to be joining commissioner Amanda Fritz and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. And I’m even going to be joining mayor … what’s his name? Ted Wheeler, and of course Commissioner Nick Fish.”

Portland voters also decided to pass the Measure 26-201, a.k.a. the Clean Energy Initiative. This innovative measure creates a new business licensing surcharge on large corporations to fund clean energy projects that will create jobs for nonprofits. Just as important as the policy is the coalition that came together to pass it. The steering committee included: the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, NAACP Portland Branch 1120, Native American Youth & Family Center, OPAL/Environmental Justice Oregon, Verde, 350PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club. This is the type of coalition will be a huge inspiration to transportation advocates as they organize for a major funding measure of their own in 2020.

Beyond Portland, former Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington won her bid for Washington County Chair. She handily beat Bob Terry, who delivered an anti-Portland, borderline racist, and fear-mongering mailer in the week before the election that he was forced to apologize for. Harrington should be a bulwark against the typically car-centric transportation politics in Washington County. She was endorsed by The Street Trust.

Harrington will join veteran commissioner Dick Schouten and Pam Treece who won election to the commission in May. Schouten is a well-known advocate for bicycling and Treece says she’ll look to alleviate congestion “from a multimodal perspective.” That gives pro-biking, pro-transit three out of five votes.

Here’s what Sightline says about the new political picture in Washington County:

“… in the thriving technoburbs of Washington County, Ore., pro-transit Kathryn Harrington seems to have defeated pro-highway Bob Terry for county chair—enough for her, Pam Treece and Dick Schouten to form a rough three-to-two urbanist majority on the powerful board. Harrington, a three-term councilor in the regional Metro government, promises a strong contrast with the last eight years under Andy Duyck, the board’s outgoing, pro-sprawl chair. At Metro, Harrington has been one of the most reliable votes for reducing auto-dependent development patterns and improving non-car transportation options.”

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Another big win for transportation in Washington County came in the race for Oregon House District 26 where Democrat Courtney Neron unseated incumbent Republican Richard Vial by a margin of 51 to 47 percent. Vial was considered a political moderate, but when it came to transportation policy he was dinosaur. Vial was a major proponent of building new mega-highways across farmlands in Washington County. In 2017 he pushed a failed bill that would have allowed cities and counties to form tolling districts to pay for highway projects. Vial’s bill was an attempt to fund his pet project, the “Northside Passage”. Vial was part of a worrying normalization of highway expansions and had a leadership position on several key House transportation committees (including one on carbon reduction). By contrast, Neron calls herself a “lifelong environmentalist” who thinks Oregon must, “aggressively address climate change.”

Overall, Oregon’s politics took a strong leftward swing. Governor Kate Brown easily won her race over Knute Buehler and Democrats now enjoy a supermajority in both the House and Senate. The Oregonian says this means, “Corporate tax hikes and progressive policy changes could be an easy sell in the 2019 session.” It’s also likely to have ramifications on transportation policy, even though that issue was heavily legislated in 2017. Would the $5.3 billion transportation package we passed in 2017 have been different if Democrats had a supermajority and didn’t have to give away highway projects and the silly new bike tax to get Republican votes for auto-related taxes and fee hikes? Probably. Other transportation-related topics often fall on party lines. Things like speed limits and distracted driving laws have been nearly party-line votes in the past. Safe street advocates should be very optimistic about their chances in 2019.

What were some of your takeaways from last night — transportation or otherwise?

Here’s a list of stories from some national transportation and urbanist sources we follow:

On Ballot Measures, a Progressive Sweep – CityLab
Cascadia Midterm Election Results – Sightline (co-authored by our former news editor Michael Andersen)

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

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Business group says Portland needs more protected bike lanes

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 15:23

Screen grab from Business Tribune.

Making good on a promise made when they launched in January 2016, Business for a Better Portland has weighed in on the $30 million Central City in Motion plan without complaining about auto parking.

That makes them the first major Portland business group to do so.

In September, the Central Eastside Industrial Council told their members that the most important takeaway from the CCIM plan — a mix 18 projects that aim to upgrade biking, walking and transit conditions — is that the district will lose 250 auto parking spaces.

And late last month, the Portland Business Alliance shared an anachronistic view of the plan that decried what they feel will be a “significant economic impact” if any of the projects reduce auto capacity downtown.

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Business for a Better Portland (BBPDX) was created largely as an antidote to the outdated transportation policy routinely promoted by the PBA. Given that the stated focus of BBPDX thus far has been affordable housing and transportation, the Central City in Motion plan can be seen as a test of how far they are willing to go to act as a counterweight to the PBA.

“We know how to move the dial in the other direction and reduce our reliance on single-occupancy vehicles.”
— Ashley Henry, Business for a Better Portland

Based on the opinion shared by Chief Collaboration Officer Ashley Henry in The Portland Tribune yesterday, we can see that the organization is staying true to community expectations.

That being said, Henry’s essay also plays it relatively safe. At times I felt like I was reading something written by the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Henry ticks the right boxes by outlining Portland’s growth, then saying, “We’ve got to make the streets we have work better.” To do that she says Portland needs transit priority lanes, “more pedestrian pathways to ensure our retail corridors are inviting and safe,” and she says we’ll need, “more protected lanes that make it safer and more comfortable to ride a bike or a scooter.”

Then she says, “The devil is in the details” and recounts conversations with BBPDX members who, “Have varied and strong opinions about the future of our streets.” “Balancing these priorities while accommodating the needs of the full range of people who travel around the central city is difficult,” she continues. “But worth pursuing.”

Henry’s conclusion directly addresses transportation’s impact on climate change (something the PBA and CEIC didn’t even mention):

“I continue to hear calls from community and business leaders for urgent, meaningful action to reduce the region’s impact on climate change. Accounting for about 30 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, pollution from cars and trucks is on the rise after steadily dropping for more than a decade. We know how to move the dial in the other direction and reduce our reliance on single-occupancy vehicles. Safer infrastructure with a greater range of options will help us meet our climate goals while curtailing the long-term costs that climate change is projected to inflict on businesses.”

I would have liked to see BBPDX offer more specific support for individual projects that are likely to be big political lifts — like the SW 4th and Broadway bikeway couplet — and directly counter some of the PBA’s opinions about the preeminence of single-occupancy vehicles. Instead, it feels as though BBPDX is trying to play it safe with both their own members and the PBA.

That might be a safe business and political strategy. But will it be enough to get this crucial plan through City Hall without getting too watered down? And will it be enough to truly move the needle on our streets?

Read Henry’s statement here.

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

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Transpo data start-up Ride Report raises $3.4 million in venture funding

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 13:25

Ride Report homepage.

When we first profiled Knock Software in 2015 we said their small device that counts bicycle traffic would “change planning forever.”

Nearly four years later that device is no longer part of their business, but the company itself has more than lived up to the headline.

CEO William Henderson at the Alice Awards last month.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Knock, makers of the Ride Report app and a transportation data dashboard used by cities, just completed a $2.6 million funding round and has raised $3.4 million since the start of this year. The $2.6 million comes from three Bay Area funders including: Better Ventures, a social impact fund based in Oakland; the Urban Innovation Fund; and San Francisco-based Homebrew. The other $800,000 came from individual angel investors.

For a company that never sought outside funding prior to 2018, Knock is on a very exciting new trajectory.

According to Ride Report CEO and Co-founder (and recent Alice Award recipient) William Henderson, the electric scooter revolution has also revolutionized his business.

“We’re signing up 1-2 cities per week right now. It’s an insane pace and what’s cool is that we have an awesome team.”
— William Henderson

From their first experience working with the City of Portland to measure bike traffic on SE Clinton Street in 2015, Henderson and co-founder Evan Heidtmann noticed a growing gap between cities and tech companies.

As arterial streets clogged during rush-hour, apps like Waze and Google Maps were directing drivers onto Clinton Street. This caused a lot of concern and stress for bicycle users. Henderson’s theory was that the algorithms used by Waze and Google favored Clinton because it lacked stop signs (done to encourage biking) and it had the highest average driving speeds. To solve the problem, PBOT had to do a traffic study and eventually installed a series of median diverters.

“The big lesson for me,” Henderson shared on the phone this morning, “Was that a tech company can simply tweak its algorithm and it breaks our transportation system. That’s crazy.” It was a precursor to a growing issue many cities have faced the past few years: they can’t keep up with high tech corporations. “Cities get caught off-guard,” he continued. “We see that again and and again with companies like what Uber and Lyft did with ride-hailing. They have tons of control and can tweak their algorithm… they don’t share data on things like surge pricing which can dictate how many people use their service, and the city has no say where pick-up and drop-offs can occur.”

The arrival of dockless bike share and e-scooters have turned the demand for real-time data and analysis up to 11.

Henderson now realizes that “The need for data transcends just counting traffic.” He believes when cities have better access to data, they have more power to make sure these new technologies are deployed in a way that aligns with their values. Combine data with real feedback from users via the Ride Report app and you have an even more powerful combination.

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“Cities are launching scooters and have no idea where they are, how many are on the street, and how many are in compliance with regulations.”
— William Henderson

Cities that got brow-beaten by companies like Uber and Lyft with ride-hailing are taking a much stronger stance against scooter companies. Knock had seen solid demand for its data dashboard for cities that included traffic counts, user data from the Ride app, and data from open-source mapping engines. Then they brought scooter data into the mix and were flooded with business.

“Cities are launching scooters and have no idea where they are, how many are on the street, and how many are in compliance with regulations. They just don’t have that type of data.” Knock’s Micromobility Dashboard changes that equation and gives cities real-time access to scooter and bike share data. If you’re a PBOT staffer and need to see if a company has 20 percent of their fleet in east Portland, you don’t have to rely on the company’s word. You can just pull up the dashboard and check.

“Now we have a product that appeals to a very acute need, and overnight we started seeing much much faster sales,” Henderson said.

City contracts that had taken 1-3 years to set up, suddenly happened “In a matter of days.” “When we saw that,” Henderson said, “We thought, wow, we have something.”

With fast growth and a product he believes in, Henderson sought outside investors to stay ahead of the competition and build a successful company. He believes Ride Report can play a key role in being a facilitator between transportation-focused tech companies and cities. The way he sees it, private companies might want people to cycle and scoot, but they won’t be thinking about things like equity, Vision Zero, good connections to transit, and so on. “Those are things a city can manage, but only if they have these data tools because technology companies move fast and regulation cycles don’t.”

In addition to their expertise in combining traffic data into good planning decisions, Ride Report’s niche is in being a bridge between the often very different — and increasingly divisive — worlds of local governments and technology companies.

He’s also very optimistic about what micromobility can bring to cities. “This is what we love and this is the real opportunity to grow our business and to show that the scooters can be a positive thing were cities are in control and can manage the public benefit.” It’s Henderson’s view that if scooters are managed well they could be, “The best thing that ever happened for biking in Portland,” as the companies behind them become proponents for infrastructure investments that keep vulnerable users (their customers) safe and make trips as convenient and efficient as possible.

Ride Report’s data dashboards are free for cities to use. They pay when they want more specialized analysis and customizations. Currently 20 cities use the dashboard and 13 are utilizing paid services. But that list is growing fast. “We’re signing up 1-2 cities per week right now. It’s an insane pace and what’s cool is that we have an awesome team.”

On that note… Ride Report plans to do a lot of hiring, especially urban planners and customer support staff. If you’re interested, keep your eye on our Job Listings. Learn more about the company at Ride.Report.

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

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Family Biking: Let’s (not) talk about safety

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 09:36

On Clinton, and only Clinton, we ride side by side even when cars are near.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Last week I wrote a “rah rah” post about making a plan to pedal more and beat the winter blahs. That post inspired a few comments about readers’ plans for winter biking; but there was one commenter who felt I, “Missed a huge opportunity to point out that riding at night or even in a light rain increases one’s chances dramatically of death and maiming.”

So this week I figured I should write about safety. Or rather, why I don’t write about safety.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Why do my posts not focus on safety?

First; bicycling is very safe. And second; because my one true desire is to get people out of cars and onto bikes and my greatest tool for doing that is demonstrating how fun and easy family biking can be.

In my 10 years of blogging about family biking I’ve only once written a post about safety. Back then I had a seldom-used car, so I had the authority to compare driving and bicycling: “I feel less safe in the car,” I wrote, “I’m much closer to all the distracted drivers — yakking on cell phones, texting on phones pressed against steering wheels, or busily looking for parking spots.”

The history of traffic engineers prioritizing “Level of Service” (LOS, to measure auto traffic flow) leads to unsafe roads and signs like these.

One article I’ve read that has always stuck with me is, Which really is more deadly: cycling or sitting down watching TV?.

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Here’s more from my old post that still rings true to me today:

As a family biker I have to say I feel even safer than the statistics. It’s not due to a sense of responsibility for my passengers, though that probably adds an innate level of cautiousness I’m unaware of. I contend it’s simply about size, speed, and posture. My bike is BIG and therefore easy to spot. But even more helpful is that I’m very slow — people driving (and people walking, and other people on bikes) have tons of time to notice me. In fact, in uphill door-zone bike lanes I’m slow enough to peer in the window of each parked car as I approach to see if I have to worry about an inhabitant opening a door into my path. That’s a luxury many bicyclists don’t have. While I’m not bolt upright like on a Dutch bike, my cargo bike (and my city bike before it) is fairly upright so I’m tall and can look around much more easily than on a bike with drop bars. It’s remarkable how different things feel on my road bike — I’m small and superfast and feel somewhat at the mercy of my surroundings.

Safe — and fun! — even in the rain.

If you’ve ever been on one of my group rides (such as Kidical Mass PDX), you will have heard a brief safety talk at the beginning. I go over any hazards we might face. My kids hear safety reminders incessantly. So perhaps I’m a bit disingenuous because how I ride in practice is not how I write about riding. I used to worry about misleading people, not in terms of safety but in sugarcoating the realities of biking with kids. For instance, I don’t share all the hardships of cold fingers, wet shoes, and the occasional whining and tantrums (granted, I’m the one doing most of the whining and tantrumming). Instead I choose to focus on the fun stuff.

Since we’re all in this together, I’m curious what you think. Would you like to hear more about safety as it pertains to family biking and/or biking in general in this column? Please let me know. 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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Rage and revenge, then dialogue and understanding

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 12:22

Kiel Johnson (L) and Mark Holzmann.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Last Thursday, local advocate Kiel Johnson and I met with Mark Holzmann. Yes, the same Mark Holzmann who made headlines a week prior for his role in a sordid tale about road rage and revenge.

In an opinion piece published by The Oregonian, on his Facebook page, and on local TV news, Mark said he was victimized by a man on a bike who yelled at him and pounded on his car after the two were involved in a close-call near the Moda Center on October 22nd. Then a few days later Mark said he woke up and realized all four tires of his car had been slashed and someone had left a spooky and threatening note on his windshield.

Unfortunately that’s the full extent of the story most people heard. As such, it probably only served to perpetuate existing biases people have about each other.

But it’s what happened after the initial news cycle that I think is worth remembering about this story.

When I first heard about what happened to Mark, I was sad. I figured the narrative it would promote would only entrench people further into their worldview — the exact opposite of what we need in the country right now. It turns out I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what has happened since our story was posted on October 25th.

The first sign of hope was that Holzmann began posting in our comment section. I’ll often encourage news subjects and writers to participate in the comments because it can give much-needed depth and improve the dialogue around stories. But Mark started commenting before I even mentioned it to him. And he commented well. He was open-minded, tactful, and even a bit humorous with his replies. He entered “The belly of the beast” (which is how he referred to it at our meeting last week) and came out unscathed.

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“The silver lining for me, this motorist, has been a heightened awareness of safety and regards to rules and regulations of the Portland roadways in general.”
— Mark Holzmann

The next twist in the story was that Kiel Johnson started a GoFundMe campaign to reimburse Mark for the damage to his tires. Kiel, who owns the bike valet and bike shop under the Aerial Tram, is known for his thoughtful and creative bicycle activism. From earning national attention for his work on school bike trains to organizing around SW Barbur Blvd and the human protected Better Naito event, and his most recent effort to spur dialogue around the Lloyd-to-Woodlawn greenway project

Last week Kiel asked me to put him in touch with Mark so he could buy him a beer and give him the $190 he had raised. Mark suggested I join and I jumped at the chance.

We met near the scene of the crime at Dr. Jack’s on the Moda Center campus.

We had a great time and chatted for well over an hour. Kiel and I laughed when Mark said he, on a whim, jumped on an e-scooter for the first time to retrieve his car from the tire store (he loved it!).

We spent most the time talking about our lives and experiences, without a focus on the issue that brought us together. When we did focus on that, we talked a lot about the power of perspective. I did my best to share with Mark an explanation — and my concerns — about the way people reacted to his story. Kiel and Mark discussed what to do with the money. Mark said he wanted to donate it to a group that educates drivers about how to more aware of bicycle riders.

The thing Mark said I’ll remember most is how much this experience has broadened his understanding of cycling and people who ride in Portland.

Mark has updated his Facebook page to share our meeting with his friends (some of whom shared unkind feelings about bike riders upon hearing the initial story). “The silver lining for me, this motorist, has been a heightened awareness of safety and regards to rules and regulations of the Portland roadways in general,” he wrote, “I’ve made some great new friends in Jonathan and Kiel and who knows maybe I’ll be convinced to ride my bike to work a few times this next year!”

In a perfect world, a meeting like this would be the norm, not the exception. Or better yet, it wouldn’t have to happen at all. But since our world is far from perfect, I hope we’ve learned something from this episode. It’s a good reminder that the way things begin is often beyond our control; but how they end can be entirely up to us.

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

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The Monday Roundup: GM’s e-bike, no helmet needed, make driving dangerous again, and more

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 10:06

Today’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Greenfield Health who invites you to an Open House at their Lloyd clinic (700 NE Multnomah) this Wednesday November 7th.

Here are the most notable stories we came across in the past week…

Walmart-ville: In a fascinating turn of events, U.S. mega-retailer Walmart now wants to turn its massive parking lots into “town centers” — so they can re-create the vibe that used to exist before Walmart opened in the first place.

No helmet for me: A respected cycling writer explains why he no longer wears a helmet; but only after his editor is so worried about it being controversial he feels obligated to post a disclaimer at the top of the post.

GM in e-bike business: General Motors sees the writing on the wall and is placing a small bet on an electric, foldable electric bike.

Influential pedalers: The Guardian published a list of people who belong in the Everyday Cycling Hall of Fame. I’m not a fan on lists like this in general; but it’s nice to see transportation — and not just sports — heroes get attention.

Make Driving Dangerous Again: In his latest creative take on traffic culture, Bike Snob says our streets would have far fewer absurdly-sized SUVs and will be much safer overall if we make driving more dangerous.

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Car dependency: The BBC has just now discovered the fatal flaw of sprawl and car-oriented suburbs.

Uber with a hint of Lime: Lime, one of three companies involved in Portland’s e-scooter pilot program, just became even more Uber-like by hiring the ride-hailing giant’s former business chief.

Negative ads: In 2018 it should be unacceptable for any company to promote a service with the intention of creating more car trips in an urban area.

California’s great trail: Golden State lawmakers have passed a bill to start planning a 300-mile trail along an abandoned railroad line that would connect San Francisco to Humboldt.

USA Cycling Q & A: The leader of USA Cycling is moving on and in an exit interview with VeloNews he said one of the biggest challenges the org faces is how to stem the steady decline in race participation.

More inclusive: “Upstream the dialogue,” from communities of color and make streets safer to use are just a few of the ideas from a panel discussion on expanding cycling held as part the kickoff of a bicycle exhibit at the Design Museum of Chicago.

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

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A donated bike fleet will help Portland Street Medicine expand their reach

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 15:10

Dr. Bill Toepper (L) and Duncan Zevetski of Portland Street Medicine on two of the new bikes.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)


Portland has miles of bike paths that are inaccessible to cars. We also have many people who call the land on and around those paths, home. A local nonprofit that provides them with medical care now has powerful new tools that will allow them reach more people, more often: bicycles.

Posing in front of Splendid Cycles, the shop at the Springwater entrance that donated the cargo bike.
(Click to enlarge)

Portland Street Medicine is a team of medical doctors, social workers, EMTs and volunteers who provide free care to people who live outside. Today at the northern entrance of the Springwater Corridor path in front of Splendid Cycles bike shop, Portland Street Medicine board members, staff and volunteers gathered to receive a new cargo bike. The bike was donated by Splendid Cycles owners Barb and Joel Grover — both of whom have seen many homeless people come through their shop over the years. Besides being a welcoming shop that often has its wide doors open, the Grovers installed a free, public water spigot several years ago that’s accessible 24/7. The spigot is well-known among people who live on the street.

“These bikes will give us easier and quicker access to places that are hard to get to.”
— Duncan Zevetski, Portland Street Medicine

It’s that spigot that brought Portland Street Medicine co-founder Drew Grabham into the Grovers’ shop. “We walked through their doors to introduce ourselves and get water and they said, ‘We want to help and give you a cargo bike.’”

“We had this frame and were looking for a nonprofit to donate it to,” said Barb Grover today. “These are work bikes and we want to see them working.” Barb’s husband Joel said they just want to help. “A parade of people come through our doors asking for help. So we see the need,” Joel said. “There’s sadness and happiness today. We’re doing what we can.”

In addition to a cargo bike outfitted with a lockable aluminum box, Portland Street Medicine has also received lights and other safe biking gear from River City Bicycles, four additional bikes thanks to a donation from Pedal Bike Tours and a box van from Daimler Trucks North America. The van will be outfitted with racks to the carry bikes.

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“These bikes will give us easier and quicker access to places that are hard to get to,” said Portland Street Medicine staffer Duncan Zevetski. The group already does frequent rounds in places like the Springwater Corridor and Eastbank Esplanade. But with bikes, they’ll be able to cover much more ground.

Volunteer Daniel Solchanyk pulled a large backpack out of the cargo box and explained how they carry supplies like gauze pads, ointment, sterile water, and other personal care items. He estimates they’ve cared for 400 patients since February. On a typical day they can reach about 20 people. Solchanyk said the bikes will probably allow them to reach at least 10 more people per day.

Solchanyk said they’re looking forward to using the bikes in partnership with Portland People’s Outreach Project, a needle exchange group that already uses bikes. “We’ve tagged along with them in the past, using our van,” Solchanyk said today, “And they’d beat us to every spot. It’s just faster by bike.”

For more on the great work this group is doing, check them out at PortlandStreetMedicine.org and make sure you give a wave, nod, or ring of your bell next time you pass by.

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

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Urban anthropologist Adonia Lugo leads discussion on bike advocacy and race

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 13:56

Dr. Adonia Lugo and a small part of last night’s crowd.
(Photos: Catie Gould)

“How can bicycle advocacy be more inclusive?” and “How can we make streets safer without causing gentrification?” were central questions that Portlanders asked at a standing room only event on Thursday night.

“Transportation safety [advocacy] is tied up in other ways we decide who’s important and who’s not important.”
— Dr. Adonia Lugo

Adonia Lugo, a former bicycle activist with a PhD in anthropology, spoke at a packed event last night. Her recently published book, Bicycle / Race: Transportation, Culture, and Resistance (2018, Microcosm Publishing), follows the trajectory of her cycling experience — from becoming a bike commuter in Portland, to her work establishing the CicLAvia open streets event in Los Angeles, to her struggle to integrate equity during her tenure at the League of American Bicyclists in Washington D.C.

Lugo’s book looks at the way a focus on the traditional bike advocacy focus on infrastructure doesn’t go far enough to dismantle the injustices on our streets. Lugo explained that when advocates talk about street safety as a goal it usually only focuses on vehicular interactions, but “mobility justice” looks at the broader picture of how our bodies are not just vulnerable to cars, but some bodies are also vulnerable to racial profiling, sexual harassment, or even not having the right documents.

After leaving Portland and returning to Southern California where she grew up, Lugo noticed the people who biked were people of color who didn’t seem to have access to a car. And something clicked: “People who were dealing with so many kinds of oppression and so many ways of being held back and denied access to the American dream also weren’t going to be safe as they travelled because they couldn’t afford to drive. For me, looking at transportation and transportation safety is tied up in other ways we decide who’s important and who’s not important.”

Lugo sees bicycling as a powerful decolonizing force, a way for people to feel powerful and mobile in their public spaces, and a way to reduce their tie into materialism and oil consumption. But a lot of advocates don’t see biking in the same way. “For a lot of people who get involved in bicycling or bike advocacy, their lives are maybe not that bad structurally, maybe they have access to economic security, maybe they grew up in a house their family owned, maybe they got to go to college, maybe they have a six-figure job and they love bicycling, and riding a bike is that one time of the day that they don’t feel safe or they feel like something is wrong with the system.”

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The issue with infrastructure-only advocacy done mostly by people of privilege, Lugo says, is that when we define the problem of safety so narrowly, we often come up with a narrow set of solutions.

During her presentation, Lugo walked us through how the urban planning field is fraught with inequality. This field has decided to take examples of roads in Northern Europe that we like, and change roads in U.S. cities to be similar. In doing that, a whole industry was built that perpetuates the problems of who gets to decide which urban design projects are failures, and which ones are still worth pursuing. The planning process requires access and agreement to public officials and agencies, and planning and design firms who benefit from our public tax dollars. When those people get paid for months to manage those projects before community engagement even begins it reinforces the unequal power dynamic.

What would a better public engagement process look like? There is no easy checklist to follow and Lugo wouldn’t want to create one. Often well-meaning advocates push for projects on behalf of these communities, without people from the community itself defining the problem of what needs to be solved. Engagement needs to happen much earlier — before proposals have momentum behind them — to be authentic. Funding also needs to be more flexible to accommodate types of “human infrastructure” that the community needs; such as neighborhood bike shops and programming for residents. Lugo believe we need to invest in experimental processes for a different kind of community engagement.

Several people in the audience asked about the controversy around North Williams, and the current tension around the Lloyd to Woodlawn greenway project. There were no easy answers about what the path forward should be, but Lugo recommended some books that dive deeper into the topic of bike lanes and gentrification such as Bike Lanes are White Lanes (2016, University of Nebraska Press) by Melody Hoffman and Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation: Biking for All? (2016, Routledge), which Lugo also co-authored.

For Lugo, the fight for transportation justice isn’t all about a war on cars. America’s history of segregation and racism should be the main story, not just a footnote.

— Catie Gould, @Citizen_Cate on Twitter

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Jobs of the Week: Velotech, Ride Report

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 13:01

Looking for a new place to spread you cycling wings? We’ve got two newly posted jobs for your perusal.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Shipping Specialist – Velotech

–> Software Engineer – Ride Report

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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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Portland should create Trick-or-Treat Streets for carfree candy-grabbing fun

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 08:27

The only thing they should fear on Halloween are monsters.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Halloween night gave many Portlanders a chance to understand how street design impacts our ability to enjoy our neighborhoods.

While some parts of the city were deserted, leaving would-be candy suppliers dejected — other places were teeming with kids. We’ve heard that some blocks of the posh Alameda neighborhood had toe-to-toe trick-or-treaters with residents saying they had 400-500 visits. We’ve heard from other people who, sadly, had zero or just a few visits.

My family went out with a few others in the Piedmont neighborhood where costumed traffic was pretty light. One family who joined us said they live in the Cully neighborhood east of 42nd. They drove closer-in because their neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks and they didn’t feel safe walking around at night. But even in our neighborhood with its full grid of sidewalks, we were always on lookout for drivers and on high-alert whenever a spooky porch beckoned on the other side of the street.

And if you were online at all this week you probably came across an article based on research that shows Halloween night is one of the deadliest of the year for people on foot.

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All residential streets should be closed to car traffic on Halloween so this can happen. pic.twitter.com/HiJiY33waL

— Peter Kim

Road rage incident caused by unsafe cycling conditions on SW Terwilliger

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:55

This is what the bike lane on SW Terwilliger Parkway looked like yesterday during the evening commute. Those two white lines on the left are a buffer zone, the actual bike lane is to the right, buried in leaves.
(Photo: Steven Mitchell)

On Monday morning we highlighted a Tweet from Portlander Steven Mitchell who rides regularly on SW Terwilliger Blvd.

“SW Terwilliger bike lanes are terribly dangerous right now,” he wrote, tagging @BikePortland and @PBOTInfo, “Piles of slick leaves and standing water. Be safe!”

Then yesterday he posted video (watch it below) that showed him trying to avoid the slimy accumulation of leaves, only to be the victim of an unsafe pass by a man driving a pickup truck.

I have a driver here @PBOTinfo , that would also appreciate it if you could clear the bike lane so I can safety ride in it. pic.twitter.com/jOp0EoylRO

— Steven Mitchell (@stevenrmitch) November 1, 2018

After the man seemed to have scraped Mitchell during the close pass, he then pull over in a turnout, got out of his vehicle and approached him. The truck driver threatened Mitchell with an expletive-laced rant of insults and seemed to have gotten right up into his personal space. The good news about this interaction is that — as often happens when people get out of their bubbles and engage each other face-to-face — cooler heads prevailed. The driver went from calling Mitchell a “bitch” when he first jumped out of his truck, to referring to him as “brother” right before he got back in his truck and drove away.

The bad news about this interaction is that it happened in the first place.

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Why did it happen? Because the bike lane was so full of fallen leaves and other debris that Mitchell was biking in the adjacent lane that’s shared with auto users. The truck driver didn’t think he should be there.

“Leaving the leaves too long means an inch thick layer of caked leaves that are dangerous and slippery, especially going downhill in curves at 25 mph.”
— Barbara Stedman, Hillsdale resident

It was just one week ago today we featured another serious road rage interaction that happened near the Moda Center. What got lost in the drama of that story is why it happened in the first place: high-stress roadway conditions that lead to people taking out their frustrations on each other.

The situation on SW Terwilliger is especially frustrating because it stems from a problem that happens every year when leaves, mud and branches from heavily wooded area around the road (a major north-south bikeway) spill into the bike lane. (Leaves in bike lanes are a perennial problem all over Portland.)

Barbara Stedman lives in Hillsdale. I commuted into downtown with her and her family back in 2012. She was worried about the debris in the bike lanes back then, and she remains concerned today. She responded to our Tweet by writing, “They [PBOT] just don’t sweep often enough, especially in leaf season. After a storm like this weekend they should be out first thing Monday morning. Leaving the leaves too long means an inch thick layer of caked leaves that are dangerous and slippery, especially going downhill in curves at 25 mph. Yes, you can move into the full lane, but then you have aggressive people in cars who don’t like to slow down to the speed limit.”

That appears to be exactly what happened to Mitchell yesterday.

We’re glad that this incident ended without anyone getting hurt and we’re grateful that Mitchell has such amazing conflict resolution skills (listen to the full exchange for a master class at talking to other road users).

We’re also glad to hear that PBOT has dispatched a maintenance crew to the clean up the bike lanes. If you ride SW Terwilliger, please let us know what the conditions are like so we can make sure it has been cleaned up. Remember you can reach PBOT’s Maintenance Dispatcher by calling (503) 823-1700 or via email at pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov.

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

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15th annual World Naked Bike Ride is set for June 29th

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 12:47


*Images of the 2018 World Naked Bike Ride by Sony Ericsson.

Far from a fringe bike ride, Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride has become a legitimate — dare I say, mainstream — event.

The ride turns 15 this year. And just in case you want to mark your calendar, organizers say June 29th is the date of the 2019 edition.

What started as a somewhat renegade affair with just over 100 riders in 2004, the ride now draws around 8,000 to 10,000 people, all of whom show up in varying levels of nudity (the ride’s motto is “Bare as you dare”).

Article in Ad Week about Travel Portland’s promotion campaign.

The evolution and maturity of the ride mirrors its growth curve. It’s a well-oiled machine with a large and dedicated team of organizers who can boast of long-term, working relationships with the Portland Police Bureau, the Bureau of Transportation, corporate sponsors, media partner the Portland Mercury, and even our local tourism board, Travel Portland.

Yesterday we heard from one of the lead organizers, Meghan Sinnott, who got in touch to put some key info on our radar to get the planning wheels turning for this year’s ride.

First and foremost, Meghan wanted to let everyone know that the ride happens almost completely due to individual donations from people like you. It takes about $9,000 to put it on and without the sponsorship from individuals and the two main sponsors, The Portland Mercury and Berkshire Ginsberg Law, the World Naked Bike Ride would likely cease to exist.

Volunteers are also vital. And more are needed for 2019. The volunteer sign-up sheet is now live and Meghan says they’re adding more ride marshals and “end-spot greeters” to help keep participants informed. In addition to crowd-control related volunteers, there’s also a need for higher-level duties. If you have experience in things like permitting, vendor relations, graphic design, and volunteer coordination, Meghan would love to hear from you.

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Speaking of design, you might have noticed that WNBR stepped up their swag game last year. There were patches, handprinted handkerchiefs, limited edition posters, and more. If you have a body-positive bike-lover on your holiday list, all the items are available right now in their online store.

2018 official poster.

Another thing that sets this ride apart are the talented special guests. Last year there was a live band and professional body painters at the start to help get people in the mood, the enchanted Disco Kitty set the scene at the end, and local jugglers provided even more visual stimulation.

This year Meghan says she and the crew have teamed up with Young, Gifted, and Black, a “Pro-Black, Pro-Femme, Pro-Queer” group whose mission is to, “Create spaces of joy and healing for the Black and Brown community of Portland and who believes that, “liberation will come from art, self-love and community.” The WNBR crew has already worked with this group to help spread the search for an artist to create the official event poster.

How the ride gets marketed shapes public opinion about what it stands for and who is welcome to participate in it.

Travel Portland is a big part of that. Earlier this year they hired a sculpture artist to create an interactive statue of a naked biker that they’ve been hauling around the country to promote Portland (seriously).

Whatever you think about WNBR, its organizers deserve a lot of credit for their staying power. They’ve turned a seemingly trifle bike ride into a powerful statement about the beauty of our bodies, our dependency on oil, and the vulnerability of bicycle riders. The World Naked Bike Ride has become a respected Portland institution.

Help make the 15th edition even better! Check out the volunteer page on PDXWNBR.org and see how you can help.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Weston Awards, Showers Pass sale, ‘Cross in Bend and more

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:44

Escape the madness — and find a merrier kind of madness in Bend this weekend.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This week’s guide is sponsored by the annual Showers Pass Warehouse Sale, your chance to grab great deals on rain gear! It starts Saturday at 9:00 am.

Here’s our weekly list of suggested rides and events for bike-inclined folks of all types…

Friday, November 2nd

Weston Awards – 6:00 pm at Hilton Portland Downtown (SW)
It’s time to toast the people and organizations that are working to make Portland a nicer place to walk. This is the annual fundraising gala for nonprofit Oregon Walks and lots of local advocacy stars will be shining at this event! More info here.

Silent Ride – 10:00 pm at Peninsula Park (N)
You will likely be pleasantly surprised at how your perception of cycling and the street changes when you bike with other people in total silence. Give it a try. More info here.

Saturday, November 3rd

Cyclocross Crusade #5 – Deschutes Brewery (Day 1) – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at Deschutes Brewery (Bend)
It’s the big Bend blowout ‘cross race and party weekend! Two days of teammates, heckling, a great venue, and all the trappings that make this sport so awesome. While you’re there don’t miss a special screening of Drew Coleman’s State of Cyclocross film. It’s only available on the big screen and there are still tickets left for the 8:30 pm showing. More info here.

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--> **BP PICK!!** Showers Pass Warehouse Sale – 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at Showers Pass HQ (SE)

Three hours to get the best deals on rain gear the entire year. Show up early. First 150 get free Stumptown Coffee. More info here.

Outer NE New Parks Ride – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at Miss Zumstein Bakery (NE)
Follow a knowledgable guide (and very welcoming ride leader, I must say) on a journey of the excellent new parks that have been built in northeast Portland. Expect about 15 miles at a relaxed pace meant for socializing. More info here.

Sunday, November 4th

Cyclocross Crusade # 6 – Deschutes Brewery (Day 2 – Costume Day!) – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at Deschutes Brewery (Bend)
The morning after. Still plenty of cyclocross fun to be had. And this is the day to wear your crazy costume. More info here.

Sandy Ridge Trail Maintenance Day – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at Sandy Ridge Trailhead (Brightwood)
After a long summer of riding and shredding, the trails need your help. Join NW Trail Alliance for a fun day of trail work that will allow you to give back to the sport — and the community — that gives you so much joy. More info here.

Banks and Back – 10:00 am at REI Tanasbourne (West Side)
Grab your rain gear and enjoy a day in the saddle with an experienced Portland Wheelmen Touring Club ride leader. The route will include classic and quiet country roads of Washington County. More info here.

And of course… Don’t forget to vote!

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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A man was arrested today for purposely driving his car into protestors downtown

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 15:39

Mark Dickerson.

Family and supporters of Patrick Kimmons, a 27-year-old black man shot by Portland Police last month, protested outside the Multnomah County Courthouse today. They were responding to a grand jury’s decision to not indict the officers who shot him.

The protest took place on SW 4th Avenue and, according to the Portland Police Bureau, responding officers urged people to get onto the sidewalk. As they addressed the scene, a 55-year-old man purposely drove into them. Here’s the police statement:

“The officers contacted the demonstrators and requested they move off the roadway and onto the sidewalk; however, the group remained on the roadway, blocking vehicle traffic. As officers developed a plan to divert traffic, officers continued to request the protestors move to the sidewalk. While officers continued to communicate with the crowd and direct them to the sidewalk, the driver of a dark blue Chevrolet 2500 pick-up traveled north on Southwest 4th Avenue into the crowd of people and struck a protester. The protester did not require medical treatment.

Officers located and stopped the Chevrolet truck and driver near the intersection of Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Madison Street. The driver was taken into custody without incident.”

The driver, Mark Dickerson, was put in jail and faces charges of Assault in the Fourth Degree, Reckless Endangering, and Reckless Driving.

I’m not close to the Patrick Kimmons case; but I approach this from a transportation/safe streets journalism and advocacy perspective. What happened today should not be seen as separate from the growing rhetoric around protestors and their use of the streets.

Earlier this month the story about protestors who yelled at and damaged the car of a man who tried to drive around them went viral. The story became fodder for the national narrative of divisiveness and became a provocative example of “Antifa mobs” that had “taken over Portland streets.” This type of rhetoric plays into peoples’ existing political biases and their frustrations about not being able to freely drive wherever they want, whenever they want.

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When you are in control of multi-ton steel vehicle with enough power to easily hurt or kill another person, it’s very easy for charged rhetoric to spill over into action.

Last week we reported on two local business owners who made public statements that running people over with cars was an acceptable behavior. When Portlander Mark Holzmann shared his story on his Facebook page about a bike rider who allegedly slashed his tires after a road rage incident, at least one of Holzmann’s friends replied in a comment that the bicycle rider was part of the “Antifa mob.”

This stuff is dangerous. In today’s emotional political climate where protests are common, older white men feel victimized by a rapidly changing society, and hate toward others feels like it’s at an all-time high, we can’t allow our streets to become even more dangerous because people think it’s justifiable to mow protestors down with their cars.

When I put a spotlight on the comments of those two business owners, some people said I should “relax” and “lighten up” and that it was “just a joke.”

As someone who attends street protests and uses our roads without the protection of a large steel box around me, I don’t think it’s funny at all.

I hope today’s incident doesn’t result in a crackdown on street protests and even more heavy-handed tactics from the PPB. The right for the public to assemble and air grievances should have a higher priority than the privilege of driving a large motorized vehicle through our streets.

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

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Resident on street with new protected bike lane: “Cut us some slack!”

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:48

This is amazing on many levels.
(Photo sent in by reader)

Reader M.N. sent us this photo. It shows the front window of a house on North Willamette Blvd near Wabash where the resident has a message for bike lane users:

“Citizens. Cut us some slack while we access our driveways! Bike lanes are for everyone. It’s the law.”

The sign also includes the text from Oregon Revised Statute 811.440: “When motor vehicles may operate on bicycle lane”.

This is clearly a response to the relatively new bike lanes installed on the street outside this house (which is just south of the Wabash intersection). It’s been just less than a year since the Portland Bureau of Transportation re-striped Willamette to include a curbside protected lane for low-impact travelers. This new configuration has caused residents to have to adjust their behavior. They can no longer park on the street outside their house. And now there’s less wiggle room for them to access their driveways because the lack of on-street parking means the entire street is used as a travel lane. They no longer have the breathing room afforded by the space where cars used to be parked.

Without talking to them (I plan to knock on their door next time I go by there), it’s hard to know what exactly spurred their sign. But my guess would be that bicycle riders have vocally informed them they should not block the lane.

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As PBOT makes significant changes to our roads, it’s interesting to see how people react. I’ve noticed several people along this corridor that have begun parking on their front lawns or in parking median strips between the sidewalk and the street (despite having a driveway).

And let’s not forget how people in nearby neighborhoods have responded to slower speed limits. Just a few blocks away from this sign on Willamette is where someone defaced and destroyed dozens of “20 is Plenty” signs. And then there was the person who tried to start a campaign against the “impossibly low speed limit” on NE Ainsworth Street.

The man who sent us this photo says while some people might not like losing the ability to park in front of their house, he appreciates the new lane. “As someone who rides with a child in a bike trailer, I like what has been done around here. Now we just need police to enforce the speed limits on Willamette.”

I wonder if the cops will cut them some slack.

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

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The Springwater Corridor is now open!

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 13:11

Hello Springwater Corridor! So nice to have you back!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

After a four month closure, the City of Portland removed the final barricades that were blocking access on the Springwater Corridor path near Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

A Portland Bureau of Environmental Services project to enlarge a culvert between the refuge and the Willamette River led to the path being closed since July.

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There was significant consternation prior to the closure that the alternative route — which directed bicycle users considerably out of direction onto much more dangerous surface streets — would not be adequate. The detour was certainly not as nice as having the Springwater, but I was pleasantly surprised to have not heard many complaints from the community. Of course this could be simply because many people decided not to bike. It’s hard to know what, if any, impact the peak-season closure had on cycling rates.

What’s not hard to know is that the project will have a very positive impact on the life of all types of fish, birds, and other wildlife. I look forward to checking it out next time I’m out there.

Have you ridden the new path today? Are you relieved it’s reopened?

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

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Food cart advocates eye transformation of 9th Avenue for ‘Culinary Corridor’

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 10:54

Culinary Corridor concept drawing as presented at City Council today.
(Graphics by Hennebery Eddy Architects)

Repurposing Portland streets for something other than driving or parking cars.
Bollards that go up during certain parts of the day to keep drivers out.
Entire city blocks where people have priority over auto use.

Is this the latest gambit by Better Block PDX or perhaps a demonstration by Bike Loud PDX?

Nope.

At the Portland City Council meeting this morning two prominent food culture advocates and one food cart owner testified in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler and his colleagues that what we need downtown isn’t more room for driving, but more room for eating.

“This is tactical urbanism at its best.”
— Randy Gragg, Portland Monthly Magazine contributor and architecture critic

Facing an existential crisis and intense pressure from real estate developers poised to erect towers on surface lots that currently house some of the most famous food cart pods in the world, FoodCartsPortland.com founder Brett Burmeister, Churros Locos owner Daniel Huerta, and Portland Monthly Magazine contributor and local writer and urban design/architecture critic Randy Gragg unveiled their “Culinary Corridor” vision — an idea that would place food carts in spaces currently use for auto parking.

Their testimony sounded like it was taken right out of an urbanists’ playbook.

“Food brings people together, we create community space,” Burmeister shared with council. He estimated that blocks lined with food carts get an average of 10,000 to 12,000 people walking by them each day during the peak season — compared to 5,000 people on other blocks. In Burmeister’s view, food carts are worth saving because they’re, “As integral to the culture and fabric of our city as Saturday Marking, Washington Park, the Rose Festival, or Pioneer Square.”

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Note the “timed bollards”.

Writer Randy Gragg said food carts are an “urban regenerator” and he credits them with, “Turning places like O’Bryant Square into a nice place to have lunch.” If something isn’t done soon, Gragg warned, new high-rises will displace more than one-third of Portland’s existing carts by as early as next fall. “Inevitably, carts will become an endangered species.”

“This is a very exciting concept.”
— Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland

The Culinary Corridor idea — which Gragg thinks will not just save food carts, but create more of them — focuses on the 55 carts centered around the block of SW Alder Street between 9th and 10th avenues.

Calling it “tactical urbanism at its best,” Gragg explained the idea as a, “Corridor of food carts along the midtown Park Blocks between Director Park and O’Bryant Square” that could be created by, “Simply repurposing a few parking spots.” To make it happen, Gragg and his supporters want to create a “Fast track task force” that would do a feasibility study of using 9th as the alignment. A pilot program could be run on one block anywhere along the corridor.

For an example of how food carts can create public space in the street, look no further than the SoMa Parklet Project that was endorsed by the City of Portland in 2014.

If all goes according to plan, the Culinary Corridor would be a “lively urban trail” that would connect the carts, the park blocks and major retail destinations in the West End.

The idea could also dovetail with the City of Portland’s vision for the Green Loop which also aims to connect the north and south Park Blocks with a multimodal urban greenway.

At the conclusion of this trio’s testimony, Mayor Wheeler said, “This is a very exciting concept,” and then asked Gragg for a copy of his presentation (I have too and will post it here when I get it).

Unfortunately Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly wasn’t at council this morning. If this vision is to move forward, PBOT would play a large role.

For obvious reasons, culinary and transportation advocates should join forces on this project. On November 14th, PBOT will bring their Central City in Motion plan to City Council. One of the projects (#16) would create a protected bike lane adjacent to the North Park Blocks and would connect directly to O’Bryant Square.

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

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PBOT expands ‘engagement with black community’ to hear concerns around greenway project

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 11:14

After extending the public outreach phase for their Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project last month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation says more listening is necessary to learn, “if and how the project can work for the Black community.”

Who’s weighing in on the project.

As we reported in September, the project was called out in an article in The Skanner newspaper that reported outreach was, “slow to reach households of color.”

This project aims to create a low-stress, family-friendly bikeway that connects I-84 in the Lloyd to the north Portland neighborhood of Woodlawn. PBOT has shared two basic options — either using 7th or 9th avenue as the north-south route. Since the designs were first unveiled in July, a large majority of strong and enthusiastic support has emerged for the 7th Avenue alignment.

So far, all of PBOT outreach has shown that the NE 7th Avenue alignment is the overwhelming favorite. But that’s only if you measure by quantity of respondents. And as we’ve experienced in the past, it’s not just how many people speak up, it’s who speaks up.

The project includes major changes to 7th Avenue — including the expansion of a park that would create a cul-de-sac for drivers.

PBOT’s latest stance on this project was explained in a letter from Senior Transportation Planner Nick Falbo that was published with a summary report of project feedback. This issue deserves clarity, so instead of explaining or paraphrasing PBOT’s letter, I’ve decided to share all of it below:

In July 2018, PBOT introduced two design concepts for a new neighborhood greenway street in Northeast Portland connecting the Lloyd and Woodlawn neighborhoods with route options primarily on either NE 7th Ave or NE 9th Ave. From July to September 2018, PBOT conducted outreach in the community to help make an informed and community-supported decision about where and how to build the new neighborhood greenway. After engaging with dozens of businesses and community organizations and hundreds of community members, the PBOT project team prepared the attached summary report to capture the themes, preferences and concerns raised about the project proposals to date.

The data misses what some community members – specifically the Black community – have told us about their concerns for this project.

At the August 1st Open House event, project staff heard from many Black community members who expressed strong concerns about the NE 7th Ave route option and raised larger concerns about how the benefits and burdens of the proposal for a new neighborhood greenway are distributed across Portlanders based on race, income and geography. There was high attendance of Black Portlanders that lived in the neighborhood and/or frequented neighborhood destinations (including schools, churches, social services and family homes) regularly. They engaged project staff to understand project goals and proposals and to express concerns about the NE 7th Ave route option. Many expressed that the street provided connectivity and accessibility and that prioritization of 7th for a neighborhood greenway would impact their travel patterns, but would not increase their travel options – which is also a central goal of the project. PBOT staff also heard concerns about how Black families have been burdened by transportation and other City investments for the “greater good” and that there was little confidence that their input could actually influence the future of this and other transportation projects.

The dialogue that occurred between and amongst PBOT staff and Black/ African American Portlanders was powerful, significant and has generated internal discussions about the City’s outreach strategies and planning processes. This moment has led to increased efforts to better understand the unique perspectives and priorities of Black Portlanders with connections to the Historic Albina community. Participants shared frustration about how information about the project had been previously disseminated and expressed concerns about the direction the project seemed to be going. Many community members view NE 7th Avenue as an arterial street for driving and as a crucial way to get around in a community they feel is less and less theirs; we heard concerns that making transformative changes to NE 7th Avenue will continue the decades-long trend of the City making changes for groups other than their own. Community members expressed the fear these changes could contribute to continued displacement of long-time community members from Northeast Portland.

We felt it was important to elevate this information because when the feedback from the in-person forum is combined with the responses from the Online Open House, some of the potency of messages we heard from this population can become diminished in this summarized format. While the summary report accurately describes the combined content heard in both in-person and online outreach efforts, we want to make it clear that the lessons learned at the in-person open house and the urgent need to better understand the perspectives of Black Portlanders will not be overlooked.

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In response to these comments, PBOT extended the feedback period for the project design concepts from mid-August until the end of September 2018 to invite more participation. Since then, PBOT has broadened its engagement approach for this and other projects in North and Northeast Portland; PBOT has initiated a number of conversations and focus groups with Black/African American community members and organizations in the project area around what they feel the important transportation issues are in their communities. The intent of this expanded phase of engagement is to understand if and how the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project can work for the Black community. No final decision will be made about the project route and design until after continued engagement with Black community members and organizations has occurred.

PBOT is making this decision in the context of neighborhoods that are the center of Portland’s black community (and historically even more so). Today 14 to 22 percent of the residents in the project corridor identify as black. Compare that to the percentage of respondents to PBOT’s online open house for this project. Of those 253 people, just four percent were black and 81 percent were white.

Five of the six letters PBOT included in their summary of comments publication voiced strong support for the 7th Avenue alignment. Those organizations include: Sabin Community Association, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, the Eliot Neighborhood Association, and the Lloyd Community Association. PBOT’s own Bicycle Advisory Committee stated in an August 14th letter PBAC letter that, “The 7th Avenue Greenway alignment outperforms 9th Avenue in every measure that correlates to successful greenway design: safety, simplicity, intuitiveness, and cost efficiency.”

Feedback thus far has clearly favored 7th Avenue.

The one letter that opposed 7th Avenue came from the Soul District Business Association (formerly known as the Alberta Business Association). In their letter dated August 6th, Chair John Washington wrote, “We are concerned about the sincerity of PBOT to listen to our opposition to using NE 7th Avenue as a Greenway. We feel that the impact on our community of using 7th Avenue as a Greenway would perpetuate the negative effects of institutionalized racism and social engineering that has occurred in our African American neighborhoods and business community.”

Washington said they would rather see the greenway on 9th Avenue in part because, “We are deeply concerned that dramatically changing the NE 7th Avenue street pattern will continue the “whitewash” of the neighborhood resulting in more gentrification, as exemplified with the radical changes on Interstate Blvd., North Williams, and North Vancouver Avenues,” and that 9th will have, “Less impact to the street pattern, street use and street historical context, thus less gentrification.”

These concerns about how the project might change the neighborhood were echoed in comments left by some attendees of the open house and respondents to the online survey:

“I’ve spent my whole life in Woodlawn and every time y’all come in and change something it 1. raises the prices and forces my longstanding neighbors, friends, and family out and 2. makes the area more and more welcoming to the area’s new residents at the direct cost of the longstanding community. Please leave Woodlawn alone until you learn how to work with longstanding community members to address the actual set of problems we face. As things stand now, your projects are a barrage of neocolonial ‘development’ that — regardless of rhetoric or intent — pushes us out and destroys our community.”

“Again, getting into what, through my lifetime, has been a rich and white neighborhood and that is who these projects cater to and who they make comfortable so I’m sure they’ll love this minus a few NIMBYs who would be against you doing just about anything. NOTE: Prior to this if you were thinking this was from a NIMBY pov you would be wrong — I’m all for development that is wanted by the longstanding community that addresses historical inequalities and fixes or helps with structural problems that we face. What I don’t like is a bunch of neocolonial projects that, by design, destroy my community and our comfort in our home.”

“I want PBOT to prioritize and elevate feedback from the African American community on this decision. This community has been impacted by neighborhood improvements that have caused significant gentrification and displacement. I think that should be considered as a major factor in how feedback from different communities is weighed for the final design. I understand that there are significant concerns about the 7th Ave. option negatively impacting parents, caregivers and operations of the Albina Head Start program – these should be listened to and weighted in any greenway design decision.”

Projects that improve bicycling are no stranger to conversations about racism. How these concerns impact this specific greenway proposal remain to be seen. PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera said today that, “We are fully expecting to deliver a safety improvement project in this corridor.”

Kiel Johnson, a newcomer to the neighborhood who has worked hard raise awareness of the project, shares in a comment below that, “I think this is a good choice as long as there is a clear direction for this process will go in. My advice to PBOT is to make a clearly timed plan or you will lose the support that has been growing for this project.”

If you want to understand more about this topic, Dr. Adonia Lugo — author of Bicycle / Race will be in Portland for a reading and discussion this Thursday (11/1).

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

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Family Biking: Beat winter blahs with a plan to pedal more

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 08:50

Setting goals and plans might keep you riding more this winter.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s that time of year.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We stayed in all day Monday. The kids were out of school due to a Portland Public Schools planning day. My one bike-related chore was digging dozens of pieces of glass out of my tires while fixing a flat (more on that in a future post), but that was the closest I got to riding my bike.

The planning day got me thinking about planning something — anything — for the upcoming months to help keep the winter blahs at bay.

I’m don’t own a car. I use my bike just about every day; but I tend to ride a lot less in winter as weather turns nasty and daylight disappears. I shy away from faraway errands and combine or delay necessary trips. And I scowl out the window at the sky a lot. I’m at an advantage this year as the two-school commute has me biking 18 miles every weekday versus just four last year, but considering how grumpy I felt through the winter last year, I want to make some sort of little plan to keep me pedaling and peppy.

Since I’m indecisive and can’t narrow it down to one little goal, I’m going to do all my ideas. I’ll need some inspiration, so I’d love for you to share your winter riding goals — past, present, or future — in the comments.

Here are mine:

Coffeeneuring Challenge
I love online challenges and while I haven’t felt organized enough to participate in the Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge in years, I’m going to do it again this year, starting this weekend. According to the website, you just bike at least two miles to a different local coffee shop (or no purchase necessary: make your own coffee or other drink outside in a different park/campground) once per weekend day, seven times through November 25th.

Attend a group ride
Online challenges that encourage biking are awesome, but so is connecting with real people in person! The BikePortland post Portland’s network of bike clubs for women is thriving turned me on to a bunch of groups and I recently joined the Ride Like A Girl Meetup group and have gone on a few of their rides. I’ll do at least one more ride with them this winter.

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Start using the Ride app
I just installed Ride Report’s Ride app to earn fun trophies as it automatically tracks all my rides. I think it might be just the push I need to run rainy errands I’d otherwise delay. And bonus! It’s a Portland-based company (hi William!).

Write a Ride Report on RideWithGPS.com
Another local company, Ride with GPS, has a feature called Ride Reports for creating pretty webpages with your recorded data (using the Ride with GPS app), photos, and words. I’ve only created two Ride Reports since the tool launched a year and a half ago, but committing to doing another one will inspire me to do something a bit bigger and more exciting than normal for the sake of reporting.

Supply gathering

It’s flat-fixing weather.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

This one errand gets its own heading since it’s bike related: I want to stock up on patch kits, spare tubes for each of our bikes, and even get a second pump so I can keep one on my cargo bike at all times while the other travels in my pannier or computer bag with my regular bike (you get one guess if I had my pump and a spare tube on me when I got the flat tire mentioned at the top of the page).

Route testing
No time like the near present to bike to all those places I didn’t visit when the time was right and the weather was better, like Fazio Farms, which I learned about in the comments of my bike-to-pumpkins post. This is the only item on my route testing list so far, but I will add more places to hit this winter.

Bike to holiday lights (and then to hot chocolate).

Winter family bucket list
The above items on the list aren’t kid-specific so I have a family-oriented collection of ideas, too. So far I have two items: Explore the Powell Butte Nature Park mountain bike trails, and bike to the top of Mount Tabor.

There are some great winter events coming up that I’m not putting on our bucket list because I want to keep things easy and daytime-y, but others should consider attending Winter Wonderland’s “Bike the Lights” Night on Tuesday, November 27th and Peacock Lane on a pedestrian-only night December 15th, 16th, or 17th.

Start a bike train
Personal goals are all well and good, but what about goals that include others? Our elementary school counselor has been working on starting up several walking school buses, one of which I’ll lead once a week. It’ll be even easier to turn what we’re already doing into an official bike train.

Plan a winter bike to school event
We hosted a fabulous Walk and Roll to School Day on October 10th and I’ll use our leftover prizes and snacks to celebrate active transportation at least once in the winter. If you haven’t yet requested Walk+Roll incentives (stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils) for your school, you can still do so through October 31st — hurry! — here’s an order form via The Street Trust (PBOT’s prize order form requires a log-in).

Care to set a goal? We’ll check in after January 18th when the school quarter ends and see how we all did and how we’re coping with winter. Please share any insights in the comments! Thanks for reading.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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