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How Portlanders handled a wet, dark, stormy bike commute

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 15:04

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Tuesday afternoon was a doozy, weather-wise.

It’s not often I’ll opt out of a bike ride, but I hopped on light rail to make it to a meeting downtown. Why? The conditions were: dark, windy, wet, and cool (just cool enough to need a jacket, just warm enough to make you sweat in it). I can handle each of those variable by themselves, or even two or three of them at once. But when all those factors get together I look for non-biking options if I’m able.

I had a feeling a lot of you battled the deluge, so I posted a photo of a rider battling rain on our Instagram feed and asked our followers to share. I don’t take comfort in other people’s misery, but I have to admit I enjoyed reading all the comments that came in! In case you missed the post, here’s what people had to say:

swanny22Yeah, that was not particularly enjoyable.

icomeoutatnight I worked in it, however it was relatively not that bad. It could’ve rained more and it wasn’t even cold enough for gloves

stahnke_kong & a flat tire on top of it all!!

nwcanyoning 7 miles home from downtown was fun

The Little Things: Stripes on stop sign poles in Seattle

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:00

A stop sign in Seattle with white and red striping on the pole.
(Photos: Mike Dowd)

This post was written by reader Mike Dowd.

When I grew up in Seattle, stop signs had wood posts with red-and-white, candy cane-like stripes. Now they have metal poles, but they’re still striped. When I moved to Portland, I really missed them! It seemed dangerous without them.

When you approach an intersection in Seattle, the stripes immediately show you whether people entering the intersection from other directions must stop. In Portland, you have to look for the octagonal sign shape — not easy to see when you’re looking at the back of a sign across the intersection (maybe with a telephone or light pole in front of it), and almost impossible when looking at the narrow edge of a sign regulating cross traffic.

It’s critical for everyone — whether driving, riding, or walking — to know who must stop at an intersection. You don’t want to enter an intersection until you’re sure nobody is entering it from your left or right. You don’t want to make a left turn until you know whether an oncoming vehicle or bike is going to stop.

If you misread the intersection, and proceed thinking that crossing traffic has stop signs when it does not, you may cause a crash. If you don’t see others’ stop signs, and slow or stop thinking they don’t need to stop, you create confusion and delays. (Portland has become infamous for the “You go,” “No you go,” “No you go,” dance.)



Easier to see from any direction.

Portland has a mish-mash of info added below stop signs: “All Way” signs at intersections with four stop signs, “Oncoming Traffic Does Not Stop”, “Traffic From Right Does Not Stop”, etc. But it’s not consistent, which itself creates danger. Those also only give information to people who do have a stop sign. If you don’t have a stop sign, there’s no sign telling you whether cross-traffic or oncoming traffic has stop signs.

The stripes also make stop signs much more visible for people approaching them, since the overall “sign” becomes effectively about eight feet tall instead of just a two-foot octagon.

Also, the stripes Seattle adds to metal stop sign posts are reflective, so all the various advantages of the stripes are magnified at night. In Portland, the backs and edges of stop signs are almost invisible at night.

I’d like to see the stripes added in Portland. I’m curious what others have seen in other places.

— Mike Dowd

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New diverters on Ankeny and Lincoln part of plan to keep drivers off side streets

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:46

New driving discouragers on SE Ankeny at 15th.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“Things have changed a lot since we did our neighborhood greenway assessment [in 2015]… There’s more traffic pressure.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT

Life is slowly but surely getting harder for people who drive in Portland. And that’s exactly what the Bureau of Transportation is aiming for. In the past week they’ve laid down median diverters that limit where we can drive. The goal is to encourage us to keep our cars off what are known as neighborhood greenways — streets where cycling is supposed to be the priority mode of travel.

But as Portland’s roads have become filled with too many drivers in recent years, PBOT has had to do more to defend greenways from an onslaught of traffic-dodgers staring into Waze and Google Map apps in an attempt to shave a few seconds off their trip. Unfortunately those apps often lead people onto (what should be quiet) side streets that have been engineered specifically to make cycling less stressful. To end this cycle of more drivers and more stressful conditions on side streets, PBOT has added new diverters at two locations: on SE Ankeny at 15th and SE 50th at Lincoln.

SE Ankeny and 15th

As it should be: Driver forced off, bicycle rider allowed to continue.

PBOT image shows what they’ll look like when finished.

As we reported in 2014, many drivers swoop onto Ankeny to avoid the traffic further west at the Burnside/Couch couplet. Thanks to activists with Bike Loud and Buckman neighborhood residents, PBOT agreed to install a temporary diverter at 15th. They made good on their promise in July 2016 by placing large concrete planters and yellow caution signs in the middle of the intersection. The treatment prevented people from driving straight through 15th, forcing westbound drivers to turn north (back to Burnside) and eastbound drivers south.

This week PBOT made those temporary diverters permanent by laying down concrete median islands. The new islands are easier on the eye and are intended to accomplish the same result. PBOT told us this morning that more signage and vertical elements are still to come. They include (but are not limited to): stop signs facing north and south, yellow warning signs that alert people to the presence of people biking through the intersection, yellow and black striped sign, and signage leading up to the intersection indicating that it’s not for through-traffic, only bicycle traffic.

SE Lincoln and 50th

PBOT’s final design (note the car parking space on northeast corner).

It’s been a year since the infamous open house where opposition to the Lincoln-Harrison neighborhood greenway project went absolutely off-the-rails. PBOT’s attempts to reduce the amount of driving on Lincoln were met with epic opposition. Ultimately PBOT won the day with a revised plan that came out in March.

One of the biggest sticking points was a diverter at 50th and Lincoln. PBOT had to do something because this intersection had the highest volume of drivers of anywhere on the greenway — 2,300 cars per day east west of 50th and 1,500 east of it. The city’s goal for greenways is under 1,000 cars per day.

They settled on a compromise design that would place diverters in the middle of 50th to prevent people from driving through the intersection and limit some turning movements.



Work began this week to install the diverter. However, some activists are crying foul because PBOT has altered the design since it was last shown to the public.

The plan before PBOT made the tweak to add a parking space. Compare it to the image above.

On Tuesday, local resident Andrea Brown with the Safer Lincoln group emailed PBOT Capitol Project Manager Sheila Parrott. Brown was concerned that the new design, “Has created an unsafe jog in the bicycle flow in order to accommodate an extraneous parking space on the northeast corner.” Brown added that her group was aware that an adjacent neighbor had contacted PBOT to request a parking spot in front of their house (which has its own driveway).

Parrott wrote to Brown that, “Following resident input, we revised the plan to remove the on-street parking on the south side and provide a disabled parking space on the north side. Although this type of parking space is generally used by the person making the request for the space, it is not a personal space. Anyone displaying the disabled placard can use the space.”

Another transportation activist and local resident named Betsy Reese emailed PBOT with several concerns about the new design. One problem she mentioned was that it, “Forces westbound cyclists to veer to the left to get past a stopped car, then veer to the right to line up at the gap in the diverter.” Reese wanted the parking spot moved further east to avoid conflicts at the intersection.

A PBOT traffic engineer replied to Reese to say the current layout is only a prototype and they plan to monitor her concerns as part of the evaluation

A brand new greenway treatment

Conspicuity is the goal.

In other neighborhood greenway news, PBOT unveiled a new idea at the Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting on Tuesday night. Citing what he sees as, “more traffic pressure” on neighborhood greenways since PBOT’s assessment report was passed by council in August 2015, PBOT bicycle program manager Roger Geller said they’re considering a new approach. Geller shared a list of projects up for possible funding in 2019-2020 that included one described as, “An innovative attempt to highlight the visibility of bicycle priority on neighborhood greenways.” The idea is to double the frequency of sharrow markings, possibly add painted stop lines on side streets, and add other signage as needed.

Geller said he’s noticed that many people ride in the door-zone on neighborhood greenways — a sign of stress likely caused by fears of drivers coming from behind. Geller wants to make Portland greenways more “readable as a bikeway.” In addition to more sharrows and signage, he’d like couple that with an education program. The goal would be to make it more difficult for people in cars to pass bicycle users, which would hopefully discourage people from driving on greenways altogether.

UPDATE: Reader 9watts (who’s concerned about the width of the biking gaps being too wide) has sent us fresher photos of the Ankeny/15th diverters:

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

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Disability rights activists to TriMet: Let us take trikes on MAX

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 10:04

Serenity Ebert (left), Christine Watts (center), and Dawn Cohoe (right) in front of the TriMet board meeting yesterday. They are part of Civil Unrest Bicycle Club, a disability rights advocacy group.
(Photo courtesy Christine Watts)

TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey and the agency’s Board of Directors heard from two cycling activists during the open public comment period of their meeting yesterday.

“I can’t use public transportation to get to cycling events that I can’t ride to or back from. What do I do? Where is the equity in that?”
— Serenity Ebert

Serenity Ebert rolled up to the microphone on her trike, which she uses as a wheelchair. It’s the same one she pedaled to the stage at the recent Alice Awards dinner where she gave a rousing speech about her experience navigating Portland streets with a physical disability. Christine Watts joined her at the testimony table to ask TriMet to allow tricycles on MAX light rail trains. Both women are members of Civil Unrest Bicycle Club, a grassroots disability advocacy group.

Current TriMet policy does not allow three-wheeled bicycles on MAX. Specifically, the policy states that only, “… two-wheeled bikes, folding bikes, and recumbents the size of a standard bike are allowed… Tandems and bikes with oversized wheels, three or more wheels, trailers or those powered by internal-combustion engines cannot be accommodated. Electric bikes with a sealed battery compartment are permitted.”



“Not allowing such forms of personal transportation on the MAX train creates a hardship, and puts the disabled more at risk of injury, or being a victim of a crime.”
— Christine Watts

Ebert has submitted an application to TriMet for a special exception to the rule, but she says it has been denied. “I’ve lived downtown for 10 years,” Ebert said in her testimony yesterday. “I depend on public transit to navigate the city.” “I use my walker or my trike as my mobility devices,” Ebert continued. “A while ago I was informed that I can’t take my trike on transit as a mobility device. You could argue that I have equal access because I can use my walker on transit. But is it fair or equitable that I can’t use my other mobility device? The one that allows me to more fully participate?”

Ebert explained to Kelsey and the TriMet Board that she needs to be able to use both devices. The walker is slow and difficult to use on its own, and when she’s only using the trike she can’t, “Simply get off and go run to get my walker.” Ebert says if TriMet won’t let her use her trike as a mobility device, she’s still prevented from using it because a bicycle with three wheels is explicitly prohibited in current policy.

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“Unlike my fellow non-disabled cyclists, I can’t use public transportation to get to cycling events that I can’t ride to or back from. What do I do?” Serenity asked. “Where is the equity in that?”

In her testimony, Watts said TriMet’s exclusion of adult tricycles and adaptive trikes is discrimination against people with disabilities. “Not allowing such forms of personal transportation on the MAX train creates a hardship, and puts the disabled more at risk of injury, or being a victim of a crime. For example when tricycles are vandalized or parts are stolen or the trike itself when parked at bike racks.”

After their testimony, no one from TriMet spoke or asked questions. You can watch this testimony on video here (starts at 5:00 mark).

In an email today, TriMet public information officer Tim Becker said that while Ms. Ebert did file a “Reasonable Modification Request,” it was denied because, “The requested modification would not be necessary to allow her to fully use or participate in TriMet services, programs, or activities.” Becker said they made that decision based on Ebert’s ability to use a walker. “While Ms. Ebert cannot bring the tricycle on board,” Becker wrote, “she is able to access the transit system using her primary mobility device, which is her walker.” TriMet also says they have no plans to classify trikes as mobility devices, but they will address Reasonable Modification requests on a case-by-case basis.

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

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Bird rallies with The Street Trust to get e-scooters back “as soon as possible”

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:00

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Bird, the fastest company to ever reach a $1 billion valuation, set up shop on the steps of Portland City Hall today in a bid to get their product back out on the streets. Joining them were leaders from active transportation advocacy group The Street Trust and Forth Mobility, a nonprofit that promotes electric vehicles.

“Our streets are for people. Our streets should also be for e-scooters.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

Portland’s four-month pilot of shared electric scooters ended at the end of November and Bird was one of the companies that took part. “We’re here today to talk about bringing scooters back as soon as possible, and to expedite the process,” a Bird spokesperson shared with me before the event got underway.

Before speakers took to the mic, Bird staffers, scooter advocates and interested onlookers milled around a table and tent emblazoned with the Bird logo that had been set up in City Hall plaza. The company offered free helmets, pizza, coffee, and custom-made cookies.

The first person to speak was Joanie Deutsch, senior manager of government partnerships at Bird. She said Portland should restore access to this transportation option “as soon as possible.” “Portland riders made clear they enjoyed having access to e-scooters as an affordable transportation option,” Deutsch added.



Jillian Detweiler from The Street Trust speaks with Bird’s Joanie Deutsch in the background.

The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler also spoke at the event. She said her organization was, “Tremendously surprised and happy” about the scooter pilot program. “It was giving a broader population of people an alternative to driving,” she said. “And giving people a convenient — and even fun — way to get where they need to go.”

“We’re here today because the pilot was a success,” Detweiler continued. She then echoed Deutsch’s comments, saying she wants scooters back on the streets as soon as possible. Detweiler acknowledged the need to consider data and feedback from the pilot and said she’s aware some scooter users rubbed walkers and people with disabilities the wrong way. “But we’re confident those [issues] can be worked out,” she said. “Our streets are for people. Our streets should also be for e-scooters.”

Detweiler also said The Street Trust is focused on making sure PBOT moves forward with their analysis. She announced today that PBOT plans to make a final e-scooter report available in mid-January and open up the topic to public comment shortly thereafter.

I chatted with Bird spokesperson Mackenzie Long before the event. She said, in addition to rallying support for e-scooters, they held the event to urge Portland to step into the forefront of the micromobility revolution. “We’re here to remind Portland that you were a leader in sustainable transportation. So keep it going!”

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

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“Cut in 2 seconds!” Is the Ottolock really that easy to snip?

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:05

Screen shot of LockPickingLawyer video. Watch it below.

The Ottolock by OTTO Design Works.

A popular YouTuber has created a bit of a public relations headache for a local company.

After a very successful Kickstarter campaign in fall of 2016 where they raised over $350,000 (their goal was just $50,000) from nearly 4,000 individuals, OTTO Design Works launched their Ottolock with the wind at their backs. The Wilsonville-based company says over 100,000 Ottolocks have been sold (at $60 to $85 depending on length) and they can be found at bike shops and outdoor gear retailers nationwide.

“There was at least $30,000 worth of high-end road bikes outside the owners’ line of sight, right outside a big city, secured by a lock I suspected could be cut in a matter of seconds.”
— LockPickingLawyer

When we reviewed the lock in July 2017 we said the company had hit a “bike security sweet spot” by making something that would keep your bike safe for quick stops without taking up much room or adding weight to your training kit.

Since then we’ve heard some concerns about the lock’s strength, but nothing overly alarming. After all, it’s not marketed as a u-lock replacement and it’s not intended as a primary lock. The idea is to, “protect against theft opportunists,” the company’s website says.

But when a YouTuber known as LockPickingLawyer uploaded a video last week showing an Ottolock being cut in two seconds, I was shocked. I wanted hear from OTTO Design Works. Since it’s a locally-made product that we’ve reported on in the past, I felt the community deserved to know more.

The video itself is relatively straightforward. It features narration by Mr. LockPickingLawyer and he easily slices through the lock with a pair of tin snips in one try, just as the title of his video advertises. He says he decided to test the lock after seeing them being used at a local coffee shop. “I was stunned,” he says in the video. “There was at least $30,000 worth of high-end road bikes outside the owners’ line of sight, right outside a big city, secured by a lock I suspected could be cut in a matter of seconds.”

As you can see in the video, it appears he was right.

“We haven’t been able to replicate that outcome or speed in any testing.”
— Jake VanderZanden, Ottolock

LockPickingLawyer has amassed 270,385 subscribers and his videos have received over 38 million views since June 2015. The videos show him defeating all types of locks from many different major brands like Kryptonite and Abus. The Ottolock video is one of his most popular and is on its way to 700,000 views.

What struck me about LockPickingLawyer’s video is that Ottolock has a video of their own on YouTube (from April 2016) that shows them trying to cut a lock with tin snips without any success at all. In marketing materials, the company says the lock is “very cut-resistant”.

I contacted OTTO Design Works President Jake VanderZanden yesterday. He contends there’s simply no way the lock could have been cut that easily without a lot of preparation. “It’s highly produced or under extremely controlled or tuned conditions,” he said, “We haven’t been able to replicate that outcome or speed in any testing — either two years ago [when product launched] or recently.” VanderZanden said when they try to cut a lock with snips, the band flexes and folds inside the jaws of the tool, making it very difficult to cut.



“Very cut-resistant.”

However, VanderZanden added they’ve never claimed the Ottolock is cut-proof. “We’ve cut them under certain conditions ourselves,” he said, before falling back on their marketing claims that the product is, “Highly engineered and more secure than a cable lock.” “It’s an excellent product for its intended use and target customer.”

Since both a YouTuber known for defeating locks and a company who sells them are hardly unbiased parties in this conversation, I found other perspectives.

Officer Sanders said he and his team warned OTTO Design Works that their lock would be vulnerable to tin snips, which according to Sanders, are carried by about half the criminals they arrest.

Portland Police Bureau Officer Dave Sanders is the lead of the PPB’s Bike Theft Task Force and has countless hours of street-level experience with bike thieves and their aftermath. When I told him about the video and asked for his opinion on the Ottolock he didn’t mince words. “That lock should not be used,” he said. “It’s maybe a smidge better than nothing at all. No more secure than a cheap cable lock.”

Officer Sanders said he and his team warned OTTO Design Works that their lock would be vulnerable to tin snips, which according to Sanders, are carried by about half the criminals they arrest.

In Ottolock’s defense, the urban commuter isn’t their target market. The Ottolock is intended for racer-types on training rides who want something that will fit in a jersey pocket and will secure their bike during a quick bathroom stop. Other target markets are using it as a secondary lock for wheels or other sporting equipment.

But beyond strength concerns, Officer Sanders said the Task Force worries that — despite the marketing — people would use Ottolocks in place of a more capable u-lock. “I want to be supportive of those who are trying to do something about the bike theft problem,” he said, “but I’m having a hard time with this one because we keep hearing about thieves targeting these locks.” And experienced thieves, he added, are probably better than the LockPickingLawyer because they cut locks every day.

Sanders’ concerns seem warranted. As this BikeIndex stolen bike listing reveals, someone had a Surly Ogre stolen from outside the Fred Meyer store in Hollywood a few weeks ago. “It was locked with just an Ottolock (foolish and careless of me) since it was a quick 20 minute shopping trip,” the victim wrote.

Asked what he thought of the video, bike theft expert and BikeIndex owner Bryan Hance said, “I think had they [OTTO Design Works] not used some slippery language and pitched it with all sorts of verbiage like ‘steel’ and ‘very cut-resistant’ they wouldn’t be getting as much blowback as they are. They’re pretty good about saying, ‘This is not as good as a u-lock’ but the reality on the ground is people are using them like ‘real’ locks.”

I also contacted LockPickingLawyer. I told him OTTO Design Works claimed there was no way he cut the lock on the first try. “I think the video speaks for itself,” the YouTuber wrote via email this morning. “The cut was made on my first attempt on a new Ottolock, right from the package. There was no testing or preparation off camera.”

Of the 100,000 Ottolocks that have been sold, VanderZanden says they’re aware of only about 25-30 bikes that have been stolen. “That said,” he added, “we’ve had an equal amount, if not more people, who’ve had their bikes saved because of Ottolock.” (You can see photos of the “saves” on the company’s website.) Even so, VanderZanden announced the company is working on a new product that is much more secure. It will be marketed as a more secure lock and should be released in 2019.

As for the video, LockPickingLawyer said he thinks it’s caused a stir because of, “The shock value of watching an expensive bike lock being defeated so quickly and quietly with an unskilled attack.”

VanderZanden says the whole episode is, “Not that big of a deal from a technical point of view. It’s just an unfortunate PR hassle.”

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

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BikeCraft vendor spotlights: Velo Gioielli, Orquidia Violeta, White Noyes Crafts

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 12:37

Welcome to the final installment of our 2018 BikeCraft vendor spotlights, brought to you by our friend Elly Blue from Microcosm Publishing. The big event is this weekend, and if you’ve been following along you know that organizers have put together something special. They’ve got a new, larger space (Taborspace!), great vendors — many of whom you won’t find anywhere else, and lots of merry surprises in store. I look forward to seeing you there! – Jonathan

Take it away Elly…

Velo Gioielli – Etsy shop

Brian Echerer is one of the masterminds behind BikeCraft’s recent reboot. Somehow in between running around securing our venue and cajoling food trucks to come feed us delicious tacos and grilled cheese, he’s been hard at work crafting more of his gorgeous art, combining spokes and chainrings with gems and stained glass into intricate masterworks. Be sure to ask him about his obelisk.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
Bike art and spoke bracelets, the things every cyclist needs. The most important thing to know is by supporting BikeCraft you are supporting amazing local people.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
I have a passion for road cycling and love watching the grand tours on TV. Nothin better in my life than having a stage on the tv while I am working on bike art at the same time. I just love bikes.

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
So I was out of work and I had been making spoke bracelets for my cycling club. I saw the BikeCraft event call for makers in 2009 and signed up. My mother and I got to work making all sorts of bikey jewelry trinkets and that was the start of Velo Gioielli. BikeCraft was the start of it all and that first one was the best memory.



Orquidia Violeta – Website

Adorable, bike-friendly and bike-themed clothes for kiddos — I totally fell in love with Orchid’s designs at last year’s event and spent half of Saturday texting with my sister to figure out my nephew’s size and style preferences. Also, I would totally wear one of these cozy ponchos in an adult size, just saying.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
I’m bringing fun kids clothes! Colorful wearable artwork sewn in Portland by me, using salvaged materials collected by bike. This year I made push-bike ponchos. They fit 2-5 year olds and are made from cozy wool and fleece. They have bright hoods and reflective bits, and an appliquéd pocket for treasure!

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
I’m a Salvadoran-American textile artist and I sew one-of-a-kind pieces that I sell around town. I operate my business entirely by bike, so kids clothes are easy to transport. I prefer selling to customers directly, like at BikeCraft. Connecting personally, I can help select the perfect gift. I love to watch my artwork go off into the world toward unknown adventure!

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
BikeCraft is a fun sale with great vendors and customers. But it’s extra awesome that everyone arrives on two wheels. At most craft sales, I am the only vendor cycling, but at BikeCraft we have that shared experience. Portlanders are working hard to make the city more bikeable for citizens of all ages and colors. I appreciate that every day, and try to reciprocate through my craft and through this sale!

White Noyes Crafts
We met Julie Noyes at last year’s BikeCraft, where she was one of the first to sign up to vend this year. She’ll be debuting her bikey handknits at the fair — they’re so new, there aren’t any photos yet!

What are you bringing to BikeCraft?
I am bringing my hand knit items; hats and fingerless gloves. Also some handmade bikey ornaments and handmade books.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
I have always been an artist, but about two years ago, my friend gave me a knitting lesson and I’ve been grinding out product ever since. I moved here from Vermont, so having a warm but lightweight hat is a necessity. I wanted to create something that bike commuters could fit under their helmets (please wear your helmet) and stay warm.

What are you most excited about at the event?
I am excited about getting my gear out there, and also contributing to a “warm” holiday season.

Learn more about BikeCraft at the official website.

— Elly Blue/Microcosm Publishing

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Family Biking: Beyond mama bear rage and toward healthier responses to bad drivers

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:51

Try “Wow, someone’s in a hurry” in place of “Slow the f— down!”
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

As the days get shorter, wetter, and colder it feels like more people are driving faster, less predictably, and more assholishly.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I used to get all heated-up about people driving unsafely around me and my kids. You know, like a protective mama bear. Grrr. I once angrily pantomimed hanging up a phone at a woman talking on her cell while running a stop sign in front of us and I’ve even thumped the trunk of a car after its driver barreled into the crosswalk against a red light, coming within an inch of my front wheel.

The thing is, reacting angrily just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, not to mention doesn’t set the best example for my kids. So I’ve drastically changed my reactions. I’m not perfect and slip from time-to-time (mama bears gonna mama bear), but keeping my cool has vastly improved my quality of life despite still sharing some roads with people misusing two-ton battering rams.

Some diverters divert better than others.

The idea to write this column came to me last week when I watched a man drive his minivan over the diverters at SE 17th and Clinton. He approached the intersection very slowly and without signaling, so I assumed he couldn’t decide which way to turn. But as I rolled up to the median (where bicycle riders can cut through, but drivers can’t) he forced his car over the cement “barriers” next to me. I couldn’t help myself — my eyes went wide and my mouth dropped open as we passed one another. It wasn’t the calm reaction I’d like to display for my kids (fortunately they weren’t with me at the time).

Now I have a few go-to responses that make me seem more like a well-grounded mom than a raging mama bear.



Smile and wave
Biking with my middle schooler four miles each morning exposes us to at least a couple people each day primed to skip their stop signs (usually crossing Clinton, which is a greenway for crying out loud!) until they notice us on the road. I smile and wave at them all as they belatedly stop and look chagrined. Initially this felt inauthentic, as if I was waving “Thanks for not killing us,” but it’s just so commonplace for people driving to ignore the right of way that I’ve accepted it as The Way Things Are. Now it’s a pleasant excuse to wave to someone who might wave back.

Speed bumps don’t really slow people determined to speed.

“Someone’s in a hurry”
When we see people speeding I’ve taken to saying, “Wow, that guy is really in a hurry.” I’ve gotten so good at it, I say it when I’m with other adults. I’ve even caught myself muttering it aloud when I’m all alone. It’s much easier on the soul than shouting, “Slow down!”

Making a game of counting red-light runners.

Tally the red-light runners
We bike out of our way to avoid using busy streets, but we can’t avoid crossing big ones. For the aforementioned four-mile middle school commute we cross three big streets with lights and two without. While waiting for our light to turn green we calmly count and comment on the people who drive through yellow and red lights. It really sucks how many people run red lights, but it serves as a good opportunity for me to remind my kids to always check the intersection, even when the light is green.

“That was scary”
I often think back to something Katie Proctor (co-founder of Kidical Mass PDX in 2010 and more recently proprietor of Books with Pictures comic book store) wrote years ago on Facebook. She presented the idea of saying, “You scared me!” as a way of sharing your feelings and acknowledging the severity of the situation without being so accusatory as to invite a defensive response. I checked in with her for an update since Facebook’s search function leaves a lot to be desired and I couldn’t remember exactly what she said back then. Here’s what she says now:

“These days, I might even lean toward ‘Wow, that was scary!’ over ‘You scared me,’ as a way to center your shared experience — whatever just happened probably scared the crap out of both of you — and that then gives you room to de-escalate: ‘Can we take a minute to catch our breaths before we talk about it?’ Which will make any following conversation more productive.”

I still love this sentiment, as well as her advice to train oneself to yell “You scared me!” — in place of what you might otherwise yell — to model good behavior in front of kids.

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Obligatory word on safety
You know I don’t make a habit of talking about safety, but I do like to use appropriate opportunities to point out that intersections are The Worst. Two of the most common types of bike crashes are left hooks: when an oncoming car driver turns left into a person on a bike who was heading straight, and right hooks: when a person turns right, not noticing that there was a person on a bike to their right heading straight.

I love getting around by bike and feel carefree while doing it, but I also don’t trust anyone driving near me to notice me or to obey the law. I might look oddly suspicious as I check one-way roads for wrong-way drivers before I cross them and act stubbornly exasperated when I get into “you-go-no-you-go” hand waving wars with people who have failed to stop for me at intersections that I refuse to trust to now stay stopped.

Tl;dr: You can’t be too safe, but it doesn’t take any of the joy out of getting around by bike.

About that photo at the top of this post: It happened a week ago, and an hour after I’d nearly been plowed into in that very intersection. I’ve never been hit by a car, and this was the closest I’d ever come. Thank goodness the kids weren’t with me because I may have forgotten my collection of suitable reactions. I was only with my dog Pixie and I had to slam on my brakes to avoid being left-hooked by a woman I had mistakenly thought noticed me. I fumed for a while as I pedaled away. By the time my son and I got back and saw the aftermath of this crash I was able to take it in calmly with him. We surmised no one had been injured and I told him about my earlier near-miss. And then the subject switched to his latest hobby, making up titles for Avengers/Harry Potter mashup movies (“Avengers: Accio Wands!”) and things were the same as they ever were.

What about you? How do you react in these sorts of situations? Please share 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

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Tell PBOT what 122nd Avenue should look and feel like

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:05

One of the projects under consideration would swap one of these existing lanes that go under I-84 for a two-way protected bikeway and sidewalk.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has opened the online open house and survey for their 122nd Avenue Plan. If you missed the November 7th open house event, this is your chance to weigh in on the project. They have funding to make changes and our voices can help them make the most informed decisions on how to spend it.

This is what we’re up against.

Imagine 122nd Ave with wide bikeways and transit-only lanes!

Specifically, PBOT wants your feedback on three things: which cross-section options should get further study; where new crossing treatments should be installed; and what to build in 2020 with the $3.3 million they currently have set-aside for the project.

Do you like being informed about projects? Please support our work today.

122nd Avenue has become a focus of PBOT for several reasons. For starters, statistically it’s one of the most dangerous streets in Portland. Between Marine Drive and SE Foster, 122nd has four of our top 30 highest crash intersections. Since 2010, there have been over 400 people injured while traveling on 122nd, including 127 people walking and biking. Nine people have died in the past 8 years alone. If you’ve ever ridden on it, the stats don’t matter because you can just feel how dangerous it is. Every time I’m out there, it’s an eye-opening experience.

Current conditions of I-84 underpass are not so good.

Back in September, I rode under the I-84 overpass and was appalled by the conditions. Overgrown vegetation and trash constrained an already dark and intimidating space. Riding in the main roadway wasn’t an option because driving speeds are high and there is no shoulder room at all. Thankfully, this underpass area is on PBOT’s radar. As you can see in their graphic below, one of the projects under consideration is to reconfigure the roadway and install a two-way protected bikeway and sidewalk on one side of the street. This is the type of thing PBOT needs to hear from you about. Do you think this should be a high priority?



122nd Ave doesn’t meet new City of Portland guidelines for crossing spacing.

The city is also looking to add more — and safer — crossings. 122nd currently doesn’t meet the new “spacing guidelines” for crossings that were developed through PBOT’s Pedestrian Master Plan. Those new guidelines call for crossings no more than 800 feet apart. The current average is 935 feet, or about four blocks.

Through surveys and the public open house, PBOT has heard so far that crossing safety, congestion and bike safety are the top three priorities.

What do you think? If you haven’t already commented on this project, now is your chance. Here’s the online open house and survey (it says 30 pages, but it’s really only five). It will be available through January 6th, 2019.

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

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Bird to host e-scooter rally and press conference Wednesday

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 13:24

From the press conference invite.

A leading electric scooter company will host a rally at City Hall on Wednesday at 12 noon. Bird says the event will feature speakers from nonprofits Forth Mobility (formerly Drive Oregon, an EV advocacy group) and The Street Trust. The event is billed as a way to, “Unify in demand for immediate end to ban on sustainable transportation alternatives.”

Bird was one of three companies that participated in the City of Portland’s e-scooter pilot program. Despite what appeared to be a successful experiment, Portland decided to take all scooters off the streets about one month ago.

Now Bird and The Street Trust want to get scooters back in the news. Here’s the text of an invite Bird is sending around:

Join us on Wednesday, December 12 at noon at City Hall for a press conference in support of bringing scooters back to Portland! We’ll have speakers from Bird, The Street Trust, and more.

Portland’s e-scooter pilot program was a huge success in giving Portlanders new convenient, sustainable alternatives to car travel and the city’s leaders have shown tremendous foresight as they plan to incorporate these new modes of transportation into the city’s streets.

Let’s show them how much we appreciate their work making Portland a leader in sustainability and that we hope we can get scooters back on the road as soon as possible so we can continue to have more convenient, environmentally-friendly, and affordable transportation options!

Word has it that representatives from Lime will also speak at the event.

I’m not aware of what (if any) major announcement will be made. But it’s not surprising to see scooter providers angling to curry favor in the Portland market. PBOT is currently working on phase two of a scooter pilot and they’ll ultimately have to choose which companies will have the privilege of operating here. Both Bird and Lime would appear to be likely candidates, especially if they were to be acquired by Uber as reports suggest.

Consolidation in the market makes it look like PBOT’s choice could come down to two behemoths: Uber or Lyft. Lyft recently completed its purchase of Motivate, the company that operates Biketown. And Uber already owns Jump, the company that built the bikes (and technology in them) that Biketown uses.

It’s interesting to note that Bird has at least two staffers who come from transportation advocacy ranks. Last October, the veteran leader of New York’s nonprofit group TransAlt, Paul Steely White became Bird’s director of policy and advocacy. And Bird has also hired Portlander Fiona Yau-Luu, a former Metro staffer who was once board president of Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Walks.

In other e-scooter news, the Willamette Week reported on Friday that the City of Portland collected more than $100,000 in fees and fines from e-scooter operators during the pilot program.

UPDATE, 4:22 pm: A bird spokesperson has contacted us to clarify that The Street Trust is not a host of the event. “Bird will host the event and has invited Portland riders to attend a news conference at City Hall this Wednesday at noon. Speakers will include representatives from Bird, The Street Trust, and Forth Mobility.” (Note that the initial Bird spokesperson who contacted us wrote, “… the press conference Bird and The Street Trust are hosting…”).

UPDATE: Good context for this event has been shared in a comment below from The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler:

The event on Wednesday is organized by Bird and The Street Trust was happy to be invited to participate and help get the word out.

The four-month pilot demonstrated people like getting around by e-scooter and e-scooter trips are replacing automobile trips. The response to e-scooters was far greater than we could imagine.

To date, I have been unable to obtain a schedule from PBOT for analysis, public input and decision-making about the future of e-scooters. While good analysis and public review are warranted, The Street Trust believes much of what needs to be done can occur even as e-scooters are returned as a transportation option.

I hope a demonstration of support for e-scooters will lead PBOT to share its plan for moving forward on a permanent e-scooter program.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Winter biking tips, Merkley’s EV dreams, deadly trucks, Rapha woes, and more

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:14

Welcome to the week! Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Winter biking: Lynda Lopez shares her experience trying to stay joyful while riding in very cold temps. Don’t miss the comments full of great winter riding tips!

Sensible subsidy: The Canadian town of Banff offers its residents a subsidy so they can buy studded bicycle tires and keep riding in winter.

Minneapolis FTW: Our friendly rival city just laid down the gauntlet: Their newly passed comp plan outlaws single-family zoning. Woah.

WashDOT head gets it: Someone needs to get WashDOT’s Roger Millar on a train to Portland ASAP to tell our leaders that making it easier to drive on freeways by expanding them is a waste of money.

I-5 bridge meeting: State lawmakers from both sides of the Columbia river will sit down for talks on how/if to replace the I-5 bridge. Is this is a serious attempt to start talks? Or, as the article reports, just a last-ditch effort to avoid paying a $140 million bill owed to the Feds in planning fees from the CRC debacle?

Merkley’s EV push: U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley isn’t just eyeing a run for president, he’s also keen on phasing out the sale of gas-powered cars.



F*** these trucks: Jalopnik sounds the alarm about the trend in truck design towards absurdly large front-end grills. Everyone who cares about traffic safety should be alarmed by this.

Meanwhile, in the EU: EU lawmakers have passed new regulations that will make cars safer — not just for people inside but for those outside as well.

Rocky road at Rapha? A UK retail industry publication reports that Rapha — a high-end cycling apparel brand with its North American headquarters in Portland — lost $25 million in sales in the first six months of 2018.

Fareless country: In a bid to reduce congestion and entice commuters out of their cars, Luxembourg wants to make transit free for everyone.

Truth hurts: A stinging satirization of bike un-friendly Los Angeles has been served up by The Onion, who says that city has created lanes where bicycle riders can roll around in agony while recovering from being hit.

A lost voice of cycling: Paul Sherwen, a well-known and respected commentator of the Tour de France and other major cycling races, has died.

Tweet of the Week: Watch to the end…

Bravo to this Judge who threw a drunk driver’s mom in jail for laughing at victim’s family in

— laney (@misslaneym) December 6, 2018

Thanks to everyone who sent us links!

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

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PPB Captain gets driver’s license suspended as part of reckless driving, DUI charges

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 13:38

(Image: KATU)

On June 28th just before 2:00 am, off-duty Portland Police Bureau Captain Steven Jones was arrested for DUI after crashing his city-issued SUV in the Lair Hill neighborhood. A witness reported that Jones was driving “at a high rate of speed” on SW 3rd Avenue near Arthur when he lost control and veered onto the median, crashing into a light pole and a tree.

Cpt. Jones, a 23-year veteran of the bureau who was in charge of the Professional Standard Division, was driving with a blood alcohol content of .10.

“As law enforcement officers, we are held to a higher standard,” PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement after the incident. “This will be thoroughly investigated.”

Today, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office said Jones has completed a diversion program for his DUI charge. He filed a plea of “no contest” to reckless driving charges on December 5th. As part of his plea agreement Jones has agreed to pay $38,239 in restitution to the City of Portland and has received one year of probation and a three-month suspension of his driving privileges. Once he completes the probation his reckless driving charges will be dismissed.



This is very troubling.

At the end of every PPB statement about a major injury or fatal crash, is this line:

The Portland Police Bureau is committed to working with our partners in government and the community to create safer streets and work towards reducing, and eventually eliminating, traffic fatalities as part of Vision Zero.

There’s something very wrong with PPB culture when one of their leaders thinks it’s acceptable to drink alcohol then get into a car and drive it recklessly through our city. We’re relieved no one was hurt or killed by Jones’ selfish and irresponsible behavior. We can only hope he’s learned an important lesson and that he’ll devote himself to raising awareness about the serious and rampant driving abuse epidemic in our city.

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

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Bankruptcy leads to closure of all three Performance Bicycle stores in Portland region

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 13:03

Signs are up at the Beaverton store.
(Photo: Andy Kutansky)

Some people hoped a bankruptcy filing last month by the parent company of the Performance Bicycle might not result in the closure of all stores across the country.

But today the list is out and the news isn’t good: Advanced Sports Enterprises says it will close all 102 of its stores in the United States. That includes locations in Portland (Mall 205, 9988 SE Washington St.), Tualatin (7690 Montgomery Rd.) and Beaverton (3850 SW Hall Blvd.). The closure leaves Portland with just one bike shop (Outer Rim Bicycles) east of I-205.

Performance is a well-known retailer in the bike industry that was founded as a mail-order catalog in 1981.

According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) magazine their parent company filed for bankruptcy on November 16th. Here’s more from BRAIN:

Patrick Cunnane, the CEO of ASE, said… the company was unable to turn around the retail business, which has seen sales declines for the last six years. “We were undercapitalized from the start.”

… “We tried to be more local and less national,” he said. Stores raised some retail prices to match the market and improve margins, and developed procedures to turn inventory better.

ASE was able to integrate the Performance and Nashbar back end systems and warehousing, but was unable to fully integrate the retail and wholesale back ends. “Sometimes you have to spend money to save money, and we didn’t have the money to invest to achieve the savings we wanted,” he said.”



When BRAIN first reported the story, leaders of ASE made it seem like some of the stores would survive the re-organization.

But an email sent today from Gordon Brothers, a company hired to liquidate Performance’s inventory, made it clear that all the store will be closed.

“The Company has made the strategic decision to close all 102 Performance Bicycle stores,” the email says. “Today marks the first day of a major sale at all Performance locations.”

Discounts will start at 40 percent. And as they say, everything must go.

Beaverton resident Andy Kutansky will miss the Beaverton store. “The employees were always friendly and hosted shop rides on the weekends,” he shared with us in an email today. “Someone in the store said it had been open 30+ years or so! Today they seemed sad and I was sad with them.”

This news comes on the same day that the bicycle industry’s (once) largest annual trade show, Interbike, has called it quits.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Lakeside Bicycles, Community Arts and Recreation Alliance

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:08

We had two new jobs listed this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Bicycle Mechanic – Lakeside Bicycles

–> Executive Director – Community Arts and Recreation Alliance (Portland Townsend, WA)



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

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Adventures in Activism: Tools of the trade

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 10:51

Portland transportation activist Ted Buehler uses his trusty measuring devices (in his bike basket) to uncover the dangers of rail tracks.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“Who’s running Portland right now? You. Pick a problem that really matters to you. Seek organizations addressing it and give them anything you’ve got: time, money, intellect, energy, even tweets. But don’t sit this out. You must engage.”

That’s what Portland activist and former city council candidate Sarah Iannarone posted Wednesday in response to a Willamette Week cover story on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s first two years in office.

How can you “engage” in transportation advocacy? You’re in the right place, since one of our missions here at BikePortland is to get you inspired and informed enough to have a valuable role in local policy and project decisions. But you need tools. Our activism editors Catie Gould and Emily Guise of BikeLoudPDX have put together a list tools they use to sharpen their activism skills.

Take it away Catie and Emily….

For every person who considers themselves a transportation advocate, there are ten more who are interested in learning more but don’t know where to start. Below you’ll find some of the best tips and resources we’ve come across or learned in our advocacy work:


Do you live on a high crash corridor? How many people have been injured at a particular intersection? The City of Portland’s Vision Zero Crash Map is the first place I look to. Clicking incidents on the map, I can find the date and location an injury or fatality occurred, which helps me find related news reports on Google. BikePortland also maintains an updated fatality tracker with links to official Portland Police Bureau statements. The news doesn’t cover all of these incidents, and many people in your neighborhood might not know the extent of the injuries and/or deaths happening in their own community. Talking about it with your neighbors can help build momentum for change. Major road changes need strong community support.

Know what’s coming

North Willamette Blvd was restriped as part of a paving project because activists spoke up.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

When streets are repaved, the lines will need to be redrawn anyway, so it could be an opportunity to implement better facilities. Sometimes just knowing what’s coming (or what’s been proposed in the past), is half the battle.

For example, one year ago, advocates and neighbors on Willamette Blvd saw the street slated for a repaving project and seized the opportunity to push for a restripe of the street that added safer and wider bike lanes. This was a cost-effective upgrade to the street, which had identified the need for better bike facilities in 2011.

As far as resources to find where the restriping opportunities are in your neighborhood, unfortunately there’s no single website where you can find all the scheduled projects. However, there are two maps that we find helpful. The City of Portland’s Get Portland Moving map shows upcoming repaving projects. And their Fixing our Streets map includes (already funded) repaving projects, crossing improvements, and road repairs.

PBOT’s Projects in the Pipeline website is another good resource. Keep in mind that it’s not an exhaustive list, and most of the projects listed there are already baked and might not have the great potential for change. To see projects previously vetted and prioritized by PBOT, we like to check the 2030 Bicycle Plan and the Transportation System Plan. The TSP is also where we find road classifications, which often dictate what type of bikeway is possible on a given type of street.


--> Manuals, standards, and guides

Transportation standards are important to know if you want to argue with a city engineer that, actually, a four-foot bike lane is not standards-compliant and it should be wider. It’s much more likely transportation officials will take your proposal seriously if it can be backed up with industry standards in the same manuals they lean on to make decisions.

The biggest (by heft and importance) guide is the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). You can download this behemoth as a PDF here. This is the main standards guide for the vast majority of the country and although it doesn’t have much to say about active transportation, and it’s often mocked by more progressive urbanists as a relic of a bygone era, it’s still a required resource.

My personal favorites are the guides published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) (pictured above). With their gorgeous graphic design and focus on active transportation and transit, these are coffee table books for transportation nerds that are also extremely informative and useful. Pro tip: sign up for the publisher’s email list to be notified of sales (I was able to get 50% off!). The Multnomah County Library also has copies available to check out.

For a guide with a less official status, the free Tactical Urbanism Guide to Materials and Design is aimed at those looking for ideas to temporarily redesign streets, like what Better Block PDX did on 3rd Ave and Better Naito. This is a very handy guide for putting in temporary designs to test infrastructure ideas and demonstrate that they’re not so scary, after all.

One last guidebook worth knowing about is PBOT’s new Protected Bicycle Lane Design Guide. Jonathan wrote about the draft version when it came out back in June. Unfortunately it appears PBOT has taken it off the web. Perhaps they’re doing some major re-writes? Right now the best version we can find is via a slide presentation about it created by Portland’s Bicycle Program Manager Roger Geller.

Know your measurements

A measurement wheel and spray chalk illustrate how a bike lane could be added to the street.
(Photo: Ted Buehler 2017)

How wide a street is can provide opportunities for reconfigurations to make travel more efficient and safe. You can generally get the cross section measurement from PBOT, especially if there is an active project going on. For example, the 122nd Ave Safety Project, which recently had an open house presenting new road configuration concepts, has an Existing Conditions Report with the dimensions for the different cross-sections along the corridor.

Using Google Maps to measure NE Sandy and 57th Ave intersection.

If you want to measure it yourself there are a couple decent methods. You can get a rough estimate of road widths in Google Maps using the measure function. Simply right-click anywhere on the map and select “Measure Distance”. Then make your next click the end of your measurement. You can even tweak the line to make it curve with the street to get a more accurate measurement.

Another handy tool is a measuring wheel. It records the distance traveled as you walk across the street and can be purchased for $30 or less.

Carry a tape measure with you! You never know when you’ll be riding around and encounter a bike lane or turn that feels too narrow or you are in love with a lane that is comfortable for group riding. “How wide is this anyways?” Occasionally stopping to measure things will help you connect your comfort level with dimensions. To me, reading a dimension in a report doesn’t mean much until I can relate it with a similar sized road that I am familiar with. Additionally, there are still many bike lanes around the city that were designed to older standards and are narrower than what we would build today.


--> Communicate your ideas

A sketch I made recently for NE Prescott and 37th using the tracing paper method.

What’s your vision for a street in your neighborhood? Here’s how even terrible artists (like me) can make compelling visuals.

Streetmix is a free to use online tool that allows you to build your own streets. Pick your lane types and slide them across the screen to change the order. This artwork will look familiar because professional planners use it too. Images can be downloaded or linked-to via a sharable URL.

For a top-down view, my favorite way to visualize an idea is to print out a image from Google maps, then cover it with tracing paper. Trace over the major lines, and then fill in a new design. You can find drawing supplies and tracing paper for about $10 a roll at craft stores. It scans well too, so you can send your sketches over email and post them online.

Flagging issues

If you want to get a specific issue or intersection on the City’s radar and into their fully-staffed TrackIt system, there are a few ways to submit a complaint. You can go through their webform, email, or use one of the handy phone numbers below. Program these into your phone right now! (Just be careful when making calls in public so you don’t end up being mocked in a viral video.)

503-823-SAFE (7233) for general transportation safety concerns
503-823-1700 for 24-hour immediate maintenance issues like malfunctioning traffic signals, overgrown vegetation on sidewalks, street sweeping, etc.
503-865-LAMP (5267) for streetlight outages
*See PBOT’s contact page for more helpful numbers and email addresses

Posting an issue to social media by tagging @PBOTinfo“>@PBOTinfo on Twitter is also a good way to connect with the City. Having a good photo is key!

PDX Reporter is another way to connect with PBOT about your issues and concerns. Once an easy-to-use app, the City has recently downgraded it to a website. It’s not as good of a resource as it once was, but it’s still an effective way to report potholes and other issues.

We hope you find these resources helpful. Have others to share? Please let us know in the comments.

— Catie Gould, @Citizen_Cate and Emily Guise @eguise

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ODOT tolling plan off to feds with support from Oregon Transportation Commission

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 16:39

On the left, the cover of ODOT’s 48-page application to the FHWA. On the right are the proposed tolling locations.

Before the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) can begin any kind of congestion pricing on existing freeways, they must first submit a proposal to the Federal Highway Administration. At their monthly meeting in Salem today, ODOT’s governing body voted 5-0 in favor of that 48-page plan, marking a major step in the future of tolling in the Portland region.

In a presentation to OTC members by ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer, the two main objectives of the plan were laid out. First, ODOT wants tolling to “create a revenue source to help fund bottleneck relief projects in the corridor.” They list two “priority projects”: widening of I-205 (Abernethy Bridge) between Highway 99 and Stafford Road; and the I-5 Rose Quarter project which will add lanes and shoulders between I-84 and I-405. The second goal is to manage traffic congestion in the I-5 and I-205 corridors.

Specifically, ODOT is asking FHWA for guidance and approval to toll I-205 “on or near the Abernethy Bridge” and I-5 “in the vicinity of N Going/ Alberta St to SW Multnomah Blvd.”



A policy advisory committee convened by ODOT laid out three additional priorities of the plan:

improved public transportation and other transportation options for equity and mobility; special provisions for environmental justice populations, including low income communities; and strategies to minimize and mitigate negative impacts of diversion.

ODOT needs FHWA approval in order to take the next step in analysis. ODOT says exact tolling boundaries as well as rates still need to be studied. If FHWA supports ODOT’s proposal, the agency would then take a few years to refine the projects, assess environmental impacts and determine costs associated with tolling infrastructure. “Future analysis,” ODOT said in a statement after today’s vote, “will also focus on concerns raised frequently during the feasibility analysis phase of the project, including understanding equity impacts, needed improvements to mass transit services and other travel options and minimizing diversion impacts to neighborhood streets.”

A timeline shared by ODOT today puts tolling in place by 2024 if all goes according to plan.

Among the things we’re tracking with this plan is what type of projects will be eligible for funding with tolling revenue, whether ODOT is going far enough to meet Oregon’s greenhouse gas emission targets, and how tolling might impact neighborhood streets.

Learn more about ODOT’s work on congestion pricing here and read download a PDF of their application to the FHWA here. (The “Reason Statement” begins on page 19).

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

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A tragic realization about a BikePortland reader and supporter

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 11:49

Not just another headline.

Two days ago I received a strange email. It was simultaneously matter-of-fact and tragic.

“Hi folks,” it read. “My dad was killed by a truck (he was walking at a crosswalk). I would like to stop his autopay subscription of $10/month.”

It only took me a few minutes to realize this man’s father was 82-year-old Charles McCarthy, who was hit and killed by a truck driver as he walked in the crosswalk of East Burnside and 55th on October 11th.

I wish it wasn’t true, but when people die while walking I don’t usually pay as much attention to the case as I would if they were cycling. That’s an intentional editorial and mental health decision. (Reacting to traffic deaths takes a toll and I have limited professional and personal capacity to do it. I also don’t want to set the expectation that I will cover walking deaths with the same attention and depth as cycling deaths).

Even though I didn’t look too deeply into this case initially, I now wanted to know more about Mr. McCarthy. So I did what I often do in situations like this: I emailed the District Attorney’s office to find out if there were any updates on the case, I looked up his subscriber information, entered his email address in the “search comments” field of BikePortland’s admin dashboard, and checked to see if he’d ever emailed me.

Turns out Charles McCarthy was a big supporter of BikePortland. He’d sent in several one-time contributions over the years and he was one of our first subscribers in 2015. He would also email us from time-to-time with link suggestions for the Monday Roundup.

He had also commented here about 30 times between 2009 and 2016. I was amazed how much those comments revealed about him.

In a comment about the Tilikum Bridge he posted in 2009, Charles shared that he spent more time as a “pedestrian” than a “cyclist” and wanted physical protection between those two modes.

He lived in Minneapolis in the 1970s and once got a stolen bike recovered because it had been registered with the police. “My point: bicycle registration can be a good thing,” he wrote.

In 2011 we learned he was an active volunteer in the community who used a combination of modes — buses, bikes, walking and driving — to reach his many destinations. When TriMet service no longer met his needs, he reluctantly started to drive more often, but still purchased a monthly bus pass because, he said, “I think it is a civic duty to support public transit.”

Charles was one of many people who invested in the Kickstarter campaign for those Conscious Commuter e-bikes that never materialized.

The last comment he made on BikePortland, in 2016, stopped me in my tracks for how it related to his own death. It was in response to a story we did about a group of neighbors in north Portland who held a vigil for an elderly man who was killed while walking across a street. “When driving and stopping for a pedestrian who is crossing, I put on my 4-way emergency flashers, and if possible stick my hand out to flag the drivers in the lane to my left,” he wrote. “It sometimes seems to help.”

As a driver, it appears Charles was exceedingly safe around walkers. It’s too bad he wasn’t afforded the same level of respect.

I’m sorry our system failed you Charles. Rest in peace. And thanks for all your support.

16 of the 32 fatal traffic crashes in Portland so far this year are to people who were walking. Since Charles was killed on October 11th, seven other vulnerable road users have died. Five of them were on foot, one was motorcycling, and one was using a bicycle. You can see an updated tally with basic details on each of them at

Note: I’ll update this post if I get any substantive updates from the DA’s office. UPDATE, 12/7: The DA’s office says the crash is still under investigation by the PPB Major Crash Team and has not yet been submitted to the DA’s office for review.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Sales, Christmas spirit, KimmyCross, a cyclocross party, and more

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:56

What this season lacks in light and warmth it more than makes up for in holiday spirit.

Time to make plans for the weekend. There’s so much to do among our wonderful community of fellow bike lovers that you shouldn’t let the cold and dark keep you from joining in the fun.

(Please note: We’re looking for a sponsor of this weekly feature and the BP Calendar. It’s a great opportunity for a company that wants to get valuable exposure, support our community, and support BikePortland! Please contact me if interested.*)

Friday, December 7th

Bike Ride to Fremont Holiday Fest – 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Salmon Street Fountain (SW)
Get into the spirit of the holiday by taking the long way home after work. This ride will go from downtown to northeast to soak up the Fremont Street Holiday Fest which will feature holiday crafts, games, carolers, Santa Claus, and more! More info here.

Saturday, December 8th

***BP PICK!!!*** Ruckus Composites Warehouse Sale – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Ruckus HQ (SE)
Beloved local carbon fiber repair shop will offer top-end frames at great prices. Check official event page for current inventory. Remember to tell them you heard about it on BikePortland! More info here.

North Plains Gravel Ride – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in North Plains (Wash Co)
A group of unpaved road lovers will meet in North Plains for a 35-mile jaunt in the hills west of Banks. More info here.

Leisure League CX Social – 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
With cyclocross season officially over, Golden Pliers and friends will host what looks to be a wonderful get together featuring tattoos, pizza, a big prize raffle (to benefit Community Cycling Center), and World Cup CX viewing. More info here.


--> Sunday, December 9th

KimmyCross18 – 11:30 am to 4:00 pm at The BeerMongers (SE)
This annual race is dedicated to Kim Matheson, one of the founding members of the BeerMongers Cycle Club who died unexpectedly of skin cancer in 2014.. Expect a “fly by the seat of your pants checkpoint race around the city.” You’ll get a list of tasks you must complete. Run whatcha’ brung! $10 suggested donation for the Melanoma Foundation. More info here.

***BP PICK!!!*** North Portland BikeWorks Winter Formal Sale – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm at North Portland BikeWorks (N)
This bike shop on Mississippi St is having a blowout sale and if you dress in “formal” attire you can get 25% off anything in the store – including bikes! Be sure to stop by and check their goods. And tell them you saw their ad on BikePortland. More info here.

Corvidae Bike Club Toy Drive – 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Peninsula Park Rose Garden (N)
Our friends from Corvidae will meet and do a short ride to Kenton Station to deliver toys for their toy drive. An easy and fun way to socialize and help others in need. More info here.

North Portland Christmas Lights Ride – 5:30 pm at 7303 North Greenwich Avenue (N)
This ride is led by the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club (soon to have a different name?). Join an experienced ride leader for a tour of north Portland’s best light displays. Dress warm! 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

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BikeCraft vendor spotlights: Becky Morton, Hippy Thread, ANTHM Collective

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 15:51

Welcome to the latest installment of our 2018 BikeCraft vendor spotlights thanks to our friend Elly Blue from Microcosm Publishing. Below are just a few of the folks and fineries you’ll get to meet at the big event. Don’t miss our other vendor spotlights here, here, and here. And save those pennies!

Becky Morton

Becky may be familiar to you as the former proprietor of Bikeasaurus, the charming and very BikeCrafty shop in Southeast Portland that brought together all manner of bike-themed novelties and city riding accessories. We’re excited she’ll be bringing her newest venture to this year’s event: Soap bedecked with bicycles!

(Photo: Paul Glahn)

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
I’m bringing handmade soap. It’s all natural, vegan, and made with no palm oil. The flavors I’m bringing this year are: Pink Grapefruit, Douglas Fir, Rosemary Spearmint, Sweetgrass with Oats, and Lavender Tea Tree.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
I’ve always loved the smell and feel of good quality bar soap. About five years ago, I started making my own and discovered that I love handmade soap even more. Since I became a soap maker, I’ve really enjoyed having soap on hand to give as gifts to friends and family: a practical, but lovely gift!

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
BikeCraft was my favorite event as a vendor, back when I had my retail store Bikeasaurus. It was always a bustling and heartwarming weekend for me. Great community, creative merchandise, and lots of fun. I’m excited to be back selling my own bikey craft this year!



Anne Williams – Etsy / Instagram

I was secretly crossing my fingers that this year’s BikeCraft would yield me a waterproof seat cover that doesn’t advertise a local grocery chain. And thankfully, first-time vendor Anne Williams has come through! These look great and I’m planning to snag one early.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
I’m making waterproof bicycle seat covers out of laminate cotton. My design comes in 8 exciting patterns for everybody’s taste and in two different sizes.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
I’m French; I was born in Normandie, France. I moved to the Pacific Northwest 2 years ago to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and I end up staying on the west coast after that. I always try to find the solution to a problem and being a commuter in the PNW is getting your butt wet and damaging your beautiful leather seat. My solution is creating a waterproof cover for the seat that is removable and washable too.

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
I discovered BikeCraft last year. I was really impressed how every vendor was so creative around the same theme in their own way .



ANTHM Collective – website

Mmmmm, wool jerseys are one of the best things about winter. Wool keeps you warm even when it’s raining, breathes well, and is comfortable after you’re done riding, rather than needing to be immediately removed as far from your skin as possible. I’m excited to see what this new, local brand has to offer. Welcome to BikeCraft, Brian and team!

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
The main focus will be on our Wool blend cycling jersey. The Saltzman Jersey (Men’s and Women’s, short sleeve and long sleeve) debuted last year as a partnership with River City Bicycles. Since then, it has become the cornerstone of ANTHM Collective as the brand continues to grow. It is sustainably sourced with a transparent supply chain using the finest materials out there. Sewn and finished right here in Portland! We’ll also bring some other product types like headwear and our 100% Organic Made in USA t-shirts.
Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?

My relationship with bikes followed a pretty standard trajectory. Fun bikes as a kid gave way to transportation bikes as an adult. I came to racing late, but bikes have been central to my life for about 15 years now. Mostly of the non-paved variety.

Professionally, I had the good fortune of working with some of the greatest alpinists and big mountain skiers of this generation. Building products to keep them alive in the most extreme conditions opened my eyes to what could be accomplished with textiles and exceptional manufacturing. When my career transitioned away from those product types, I still needed that outlet for building beautiful and technical apparel. The natural progression was to marry my personal passions of sustainability and cycling by creating apparel under my own label.

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?

First time for ANTHM, first time for me. But very excited to join the gang.

Learn more about BikeCraft at the official website.

— Elly Blue/Microcosm Publishing

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Portland ponders pilot of powerful transportation data tool

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 12:07

Screenshot of Replica showing origin of streetcar trips.

A powerful new data collection tool has local transportation agencies salivating.

Replica by Sidewalk Labs (owned by Alphabet, the company that owns Google) bills itself as a “next-generation urban planning tool.” Using location data gleaned from cell phones and other sources, Replica creates a “synthetic population” based on aggregate U.S. Census data. The promise of this tool is that it can give planners and engineers unprecedented insights into the traffic patterns and mobility behaviors of urban residents.

From regional trends to fine-grain analysis of travel to-and-from specific destinations, this data has vast potential. But it also requires trust from a wary public fearful of privacy breaches and government/corporate overreach.

At this morning’s Portland City Council meeting, the Portland Bureau of Transportation urged Mayor Ted Wheeler and his colleagues to approve an intergovernmental agreement (PDF) between PBOT, Metro and TriMet that would enable the agencies to enter into a 12-month pilot with Sidewalk Labs. Here’s more from the official city ordinance under consideration:

“The more information we have about how, when, and why our streets being used, the better we are able to plan for and accommodate those demands and make our city work better for everyone.”
— Chloe Eudaly, city commissioner

“Sidewalk Labs is seeking metropolitan regions to pilot test Replica, a data tool developed by Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, that provides a high-fidelity, synthetic representation of how people travel during a typical week… As designed, Replica is capable of providing the City of Portland with rich data pertaining to transportation supply (the configuration of the roadway network, transit service, bicycle routes, and footpaths), transportation demand (representations of all personal travel that takes place in the region), land use (estimates of how land is used, for example, estimates of spatially-specific employment and school enrollment estimates as well as spatially and temporally-specific estimates of other activities, e.g., shop, eat, recreate), and demographics (including income, race, and household size). This data is not currently available to PBOT at the volume, depth, or frequency that the Replica tool is able to provide; and, access to this data, once validated, has the potential to greatly enhance PBOT’s ability to understand how people are moving through our transportation system as well as if and how investments in this system ultimately impact mobility and motivate transportation choices.”

PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said she’s “very excited” about the project. “The more information we have about how, when, and why our streets being used, the better we are able to plan for and accommodate those demands and make our city work better for everyone.”

Eudaly addressed the privacy issue by saying all the information (before it even reaches Sidewalk Labs) would be “de-identified.” “This is not about tracking individuals,” she assured council prior to the staff presentation.



Replica promo video by Sidewalk Labs

“This tool can fundamentally change the game for us.”

The PBOT staffer who pitched the concept to City Council said the data provided by Replica would be “core to the work we do.” The idea is being sold as a way to measure whether current transportation investments are working, or whether or not future investments would result in desired outcomes. If Sidewalk Labs can meet the City’s privacy regulations, the PBOT staffer said Replica could be, “game-changing.” “Today we do it via surveys and hand-counts. It’s expensive and labor intensive,” he shared. “This tool can fundamentally change the game for us.”

The 12-month pilot would cost $457,300 (based on total population if the Portland metro area at a cost of 20 cents person), which would be split three ways by PBOT, Metro and TriMet.

It might seem like a slam-dunk decision for Council, but privacy concerns are sure to take center stage. Three members of the public testified at this morning’s hearing with strong opposition to the idea. Between now and the second reading of the ordinance where a vote could happen, Mayor Wheeler and others might look to Toronto where Sidwalks Labs is in the middle of a major debate over how their Replica tool will be used to plan an entire neighborhood.

Portland isn’t new to the big data/urban planning space. PBOT already has a contract with local firm Ride Report that offers a data dashboard showing bike counts and bike/scooter share locations. And in 2016, PBOT pitched then US DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx on their “Ubiquitous Mobility” concept that was a finalist for a major “smart city” prize (which we ultimately lost to Columbus, Ohio).

Margi Bradway, a former staffer at the Oregon Department of Transportation who brokered a deal to use GPS data from Strava, a popular cycling app, brought her love of data to PBOT when she was hired to lead their Active Transportation Division in 2014. Bradway now works at Metro where she’s deputy director of transportation planning. Metro will be the lead agency on the Replica project if and when it’s approved by Portland City Council.

Learn more about Replica here and stay tuned for its next hearing.

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

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