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Parks bureau will begin paving key section of ‘Sellwood Gap’ next month

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 14:22

South of Umatilla, the Springwater turns into an unimproved gravel path. This will be smoothly paved and get significant upgrades by the end of summer.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

13 years after it was officially identified, the City of Portland plans to finally close a major gap in the Springwater Corridor.

Pink lines will be paved this summer. Orange line shows current detour. (Map courtesy Portland Parks)

Known as the Sellwood Gap, the popular paved path currently ends at SE Umatilla, forcing bicycle riders into a one-mile detour on surface streets before joining back up with the path at 19th and Ochoco (across from the Goodwill Outlet Store).

Now the Portland Parks and Recreation bureau is just weeks from breaking ground on a $1.83 million project that will close a half-mile of the gap — the section between Umatilla and 13th. Funding comes from a federal grant and Parks System Development Charges (fees paid by developers). Construction is due to start the first or second week of February and be completed by August of this year. Like other parts of the Springwater Corridor right-of-way, this section is adjacent to railroad tracks owned by Oregon Pacific Railroad. Metro, our regional elected government, acquired easements to build this section of the path in 2010.

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The project will make a direct and seamless connection from Umatilla to 13th. Once complete, the new path will end where 13th becomes SE Andover Place, just outside the entrance to a enclave of homes adjacent to Waverley Country Club. Despite the stone walls that mark the entry to this neighborhood, bicycle riders are allowed to use the streets. As some of you may already know, this neighborhood provides a quiet and low-stress way to connect to the path on SE 17th that goes to Milwaukie (but rumor has it they are not fond of “bicyclists” so I won’t be surprised if they make protest noises once this project is completed).

Looking northwest from 13th. This is where the new section will end.

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springwater-missing-gap-study-2006
(Springwater Missing Gap Report, Alta Planning + Design – 2006.)

By this August, the remaining gap in the Springwater Corridor will be only 2,000 feet (or 0.4 miles). In 2015, Metro negotiated the easement rights for the segment between 13th and 17th avenues. While there’s not timetable for that section, Parks says the planning process has started. Once it’s built we’ll be a tantalizing 450 feet or so from a full connection of the path. That final section won’t be as simple or cheap as adding pavement next to a rail line because the City of Portland will also have to build a safe crossing over 17th.

You can get a sense of design and planning recommendations for the future connection by looking through the 2006 Springwater Missing Gap Report embedded above.

Once this section is paved — except for a short stretch between OMSI and SE Ivon Street (thanks Ross Island Sand and Gravel!) — you’ll be able to bike on a relatively carfree path for about 8.5 miles between the Rose Quarter and (south of) Milwaukie using a combination of the Eastbank Esplanade, Springwater, and Trolley Trail.

Note that no closures or detours will be required during this project. However, if you this section of path (which is unpaved, but open to the public), expect it to be closed during construction.

For more info, see the project website.

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

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BikePortland is at TRB thanks to TREC at PSU

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 12:27

These stickers (modeled by Portland State University’s Michael Espinoza) are a hot commodity at the conference.
(Photo: @TRECPdx on Instagram)


Publisher’s Note: I realize that’s a lot of acronyms for a headline; but anyone who cares about the big transportation research conference happening in Washington D.C. this week is probably fluent in them.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting is the most important wonky gathering of the year. It’s such a big deal that we hired Portland organizer, writer, and activist Aaron Brown (@ambrown on Twitter, which I highly recommend following ASAP) to be our eyes and ears inside (and outside) the conference. His coverage from TRB is being made possible by the Transportation Research and Education Consortium at Portland State University (TREC at PSU, @TRECPdx on Twitter).

This week Aaron will be sharing his notes and observations with us right here on the Front Page. Take it away Aaron…

Do Uber and Lyft help mitigate urban traffic congestion or make it worse? How will the proliferation of e-bikes impact transit service? What is the optimal proportions of concrete mixtures for asphalt in different climates?

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Our correspondent, Aaron Brown.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

These disparate questions may not seem to have a lot in common, but the smartest researchers across the planet who know about these things have converged in our nation’s capital this week for the 98th annual TRB Annual Meeting (#TRBAM). Over 13,000 researchers, civil engineers, urban planners, policymakers, graduate students, and industry specialists are here, it’s a dizzying spectacle that overwhelms multiple floors of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

I’ve counted no less than six languages spoken by presenters during their poster sessions in the first three hours on Monday morning, and I’ve satisfied my inner cartography geek with more maps about cities and freeways and bike lanes than I could ever imagine possible to find in one place.

BikePortland and TREC at PSU were nice enough to send me to DC this week and report back to Portland my thoughts from the conference. Through Wednesday, I’ll be providing a daily roundup of the most interesting things I saw, some tidbits of Portlanders and Oregonians who are making waves with their presentations and research, and some perspectives on the state of national transportation research and governance at a time in which we have eleven years to solve climate change.

And yes, I’m going to provide updates on the latest research on bikes and scooters, too.

Stay tuned!

— Aaron Brown, @ambrown on Twitter

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The Monday Roundup: Baller bikes, cycling cheat sheet, car ad comedy, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/14/2019 - 10:35

*This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the City of Portland, who reminds you that the Eastbank Esplanade will close for maintenance on February 1st.
See the Better Naito detour and more details at the project page.

Welcome to the week! I’m sure many of you have sore muscles in your face from all the smiling about the sunny weekend we just had. I saw so many people on out two wheels! Let’s start the week with a look at the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Here are the ways. Where is the will?: Free bikes, filtered permeability, lower speeds, strict liability — this list from The Guardian on how to boost urban biking is like a cheat code to a happier city.

A mayor that bikes is not enough: Not satisfied with progress on cycling infrastructure, activists in New York City are calling on City Hall to appoint a Bicycle Mayor.

Baller bikes: State Bicycle Co worked with Phoenix Suns superstar Devin Booker to create custom bikes he used as Christmas gifts for his teammates.

Transgender competitor: First-ever transgender UCI World Champion Kate McKinnon has become a lightning rod of scrutiny and now she’s become an outspoken advocate for other transgender cyclists.

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Car commercials skewered: YouTuber Damien Slash set his talents on the car commercial genre in this hilariously accurate bit of audio from the BBC.

Burst of self-driving bubble: Americans so want to believe that AVs will solve all our problems, yet even an industry CEO says their capabilities have been oversold. Surprise, surprise!

Lower age, lower price: The City of Vancouver BC has lowered the legal age for using their Mobi bike share system to just 12 years old. They also unveiled a $20 per year price option.

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The trouble with the Census: Every year we need to remind you that the U.S. Census bike commuting numbers are not an accurate picture of our nation’s habits. Here’s a solid breakdown that explains why.

Big cars kill: Research from Canada proves what you’ve probably already speculated: That those ever-popular, absurdly large trucks are dangerous by design.

E-scooter laws: The city of Denver is adjusting their laws to clarify how e-scooters can be used. With Portland about to release a final report on our first pilot, we’re looking at how other cities are handling the era of micromobility.

Video of the Week: If you’re a pro cycling fan — especially of a certain age — you’ll appreciate this old footage of the legendary Morgul-Bismarck race.

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

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Man riding a bicycle dies in collision with truck operator on Highway 30 near Scappoose

Bike Portland - Sun, 01/13/2019 - 10:39


*Photo of the scene via Oregon State Police (Left). Scottie Graser at a ride in 2016.

A man riding his bicycle died yesterday after he was involved in a collision with a truck operator on Highway 30 south Scappoose.

Graser’s Instagram profile pic.

Oregon State Police say around 1:30 pm on Saturday, 40-year-old Dustan Thompson was driving a semi-truck (without a trailer attached) southbound on the highway (toward Portland) in the rightmost lane when he collided with 54-year-old Scottie Graser. Graser was riding in the same direction. The official OSP statement says Graser, “entered the eastbound right lane and a collision occurred.”

This language makes it appear as though Graser left the relatively wide shoulder and put himself into the path of the Thompson’s truck. OSP offered no evidence to support their claim about Graser’s behavior and the investigation is ongoing.

Highway 30 is a very popular bicycling route and it’s known as “Dirty 30” among many in the community due to its debris-filled shoulders.

The crash happened just a few hundred yards north of the turnoff to Rocky Pointe Road (map), a very well-known climb and descent that connects to Skyline Road.

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Thompson, the driver, is from St. Helens. Graser was from Scappoose.

According to friends who knew Graser, he was an enthusiastic and dedicated bicycle rider. He was a veteran of many of the marquee organized bike rides in Washington and Oregon. He had ridden the Seattle-to-Portland Classic, Cycle Oregon, Chilly Hilly, the Bike MS Tour de Farms, and many others.

Graser’s friend Daniel Hoyer shared with us via email that he was a, “Nice guy always with a smile and joke.” “He loved to ride long and hard and preferred open country roads to city riding,” Hoyer continued.

Hoyer is skeptical of the OSP version of what happened. “No way he or any other rider would pull into a traffic lane on 30,” he wrote to us. “This is a terrible tragedy.”

Graser worked as a negotiator for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and he married Peggy Grand in October 2018.

I reached out to Grand via Facebook today. “I have no words,” she replied. “I do know he was the most conscientious rider, he understood how little attention drivers paid to cyclists and was always sure he was extra diligent.”

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

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Get ready for a two month closure of the Esplanade that starts February 1st

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 17:11

Make plans to not use the Esplanade between February 1st and April 1st.
(Photo: Portland Parks)

Earlier today we shared the good news: That PBOT will re-open Better Naito three months early.

Here’s the bad news: They’re doing that because the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau will close the Eastbank Esplanade for two months starting February 1st.

Click for larger version.

Parks is working in partnership with PBOT, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council on a major maintenance and repair project on the popular path. The closure will last until April 1st and the affected section will be from the Hawthorne to the Steel Bridge. This is an extremely popular path that PBOT estimates carries about 2,400 daily bicycle trips and 1,200 daily walking trips.

“This long-planned project will improve safety and park amenities, replace invasive vegetation with native species, and restore our public art,” said Parks Commissioner Nick Fish in a statement released today. Among the improvements coming will be: replacement and repair of concrete, degraded surfaces, and various amenities, new and improved lights, and the cleaning of trash and graffiti.

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Two major events already planned — the Worst Day of the Year Ride (February 20th) and the Shamrock Run (March 17th) will be permitted to use the path during closure.

As we shared earlier today (the rollout of this announcement wasn’t as smooth as I’d hoped because I was out of the office on-assignment most of the day), PBOT has stepped up to provide Better Naito to help with the detour. You’ll be able to start biking in the two-way protected path on Naito starting January 28th and it will stay up through the summer festival season.

The project to restore this 1.5-mile section of the Esplanade to its original beauty is brought to you by $500,000 in the City’s 2018-19 adopted budget and $200,000 in ongoing maintenance funding.

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

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PBOT: Better Naito will return three months early this year

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 12:14

Surprise! It’s Better Naito!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has found a way to bring back Better Naito sooner than anyone expected.

The agency announced today that Naito Parkway will be upgraded with a protected lane for bicycling and walking from January 28th through the end of September. The early opening comes as the ever-opportunistic PBOT jumped on a chance to provide a safer and more comfortable detour for an upcoming closure of the Eastbank Esplanade.

In a statement today, PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said this early opening of Better Naito is, “An important first step in the implementation of projects within the Central City in Motion Plan… Community members have requested quick implementation of the projects within the plan, and we are listening. I look forward to more progress in 2019, 2020 and beyond.”

Portland Parks and Recreation will close the Esplanade between the Hawthorne and Steel bridges for two months beginning February 1st. The project will allow them to perform maintenance and repairs on the popular multi-use path.

PBOT says in working with Parks to come up with viable detour, they decided Better Naito would be the best option.

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PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer told us this morning that instead of taking the posts and signage down after the Parks closure, they’ll simply keep it up through summer. This is a nod to Better Naito’s popularity and success in several years of a pilot project first sparked by tactical urbanist group Better Block PDX in 2015.

PBOT is moving forward on a permanent Better Naito as outlined in the recently adopted Central City in Motion Plan (Project #17). Schafer said today that design work has started on the $4 million project that will include a two-way cycletrack and sidewalk along the west side of Waterfront Park. The public outreach process will start this spring (made much better by having Better Naito in place simultaneously!). PBOT still needs to find $1 million to build the CCIM project, but Schafer says they’re confident it will come through.

See our latest post for more information on the Esplanade closure.

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

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Want $1,000? Help us solve the mystery of nails in the Interstate Ave bike lane

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:20

This has gotten out of hand. Let’s catch the perpetrator(s).

Enough is enough. Someone is deliberately throwing nails in a popular Portland bike lane and we’re tired of waiting for it to stop.

So here’s the deal: BikePortland is offering a $500 $1,000 cash reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

As we’ve reported, PBOT has reached out to Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office and the Portland Police Bureau for help. So far don’t have any leads — and given everything on their plate, we need to encourage them to make this a high priority.

We need to treat this seriously. Intent to damage private property and hurt innocent people is a criminal act that we should not dismiss as a juvenile prank. If something like this targeted users of a freeway, you can bet the response from official authorities (and the media for that matter) would be much different. There’d be a manhunt underway and we’d have major engagement from all levels of law enforcement.

We need to send a clear message that this is a serious crime and that it won’t be tolerated.

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*Thanks to KOIN-TV for interviewing me for this story.

Someone in Oregon City is doing the same thing and police officers are offering a $1,000 reward for an arrest and prosecution in the case.

In Portland we have thousands of people using bike lanes every day and we have a long and proud legacy of respect for cycling. We should do at least as much about this as Oregon City. It’s time for our law enforcement agencies to step up. Crimestoppers of Oregon offers rewards for all types of crimes. We hope they’ll join us and work with the PPB to help raise the profile of these incidents until someone is caught. We’d also like to see Commissioner Eudaly and/or Mayor Wheeler make a more formal public statement to put our community on notice that bicycle riders deserve respect and that behavior like this will not be ignored.

Thanks to all of you who’ve pledged to make a financial contribution to BikePortland to help make this reward offer possible. We don’t have the funds to do this. My hope is that once someone’s caught, we can raise the necessary funds from the community. We’ll increase the reward amount if we raise more than $500.

When you find nails in bike lanes, please report it to PBOT maintenance dispatch (503-823-1700 or email pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov) and tag @BikePortland, @PBOTinfo and @ChloeEudalyPDX on Twitter. If you see someone spreading them, or have any evidence about the possible suspect, please come forward and call it in to either 911 (if it’s in progress) or the PPB’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

What else can we do to stop this from happening?

UPDATE, 4:43pm: An anonymous donor has come forward to match our reward, bringing it up to $1,000.

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

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The Weekend Guide: Gravel social, activism inspiration, OBRA awards party, and more

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/11/2019 - 09:02

Where will you ride this weekend?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to the weekend.

If you can get over the creeping unease about climate change-induced weird weather, you can relax and enjoy this mild winter we’re having. It should be dry and maybe even sunny this weekend. And as luck would have it, there are plenty of great rides and events to choose from.

Here’s our menu for the weekend, specially selected for you…

Saturday, January 12th

Endless Summer Saturdays with Club Roule – 9:00 am at Crema Coffee (NE)
A very nice group has been showing up to this weekly ride. With friendly faces and our mild weather, this is a great way to motivate yourself to keep riding through winter. More info here.

Be the Change: BikeLoud PDX 2019 Planning Meeting – 10:00 at NE Coalition of Neighbors (NE)
This small but mighty group of volunteer activists did great things in 2018. Now they want you to join them for a strategy and visioning session to make 2019 bigger and better. Bring your big ideas and a willingness to make them happen.More info here.

BikePortland relies on financial support from readers like you.
Please subscribe or donate today!

OBRA Annual Rules Meeting and Awards Party – Chris King Precision Components HQ (NW)
Our statewide cycling event sanctioning body will host an evening at the Chris King cafe for a bit of work, play, and recognition of the year’s best racing teams and athletes. More info here.

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Portland Wheelmen Touring Club Welcome Ride – 10:00 am at corner of NE 99th and Pacific (Gateway Transit Center)
Led by PWTC member Ann Morrow, this leisurely “4 Path Loop” ride aims to acquaint you with some of the main bike routes in the city. More info here.

Sunday, January 13th

Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee (NW)
Keep your legs and skills sharp and connect with a community of riders at this “spirited” weekly ride. This is an intermediate-advanced group ride with a route that includes hot-spot sprints and goes around Sauvie Island and up through the West Hills. More info here.

OMTM Winter Social – 11:00 am at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
Our Mother the Mountain, their legendary gravel rides, and their Unpaved email list, have spawned a robust and engaged community of riders. This event is a chance to come together and socialize without an epic ride getting in the way. Expect a fun, industrial alley-cat type ride to keep things interesting; but mostly this is about hanging-out at the bike shop to meet people and learn about their lives and their bikes. More info here.

Corvidae Bike Club Monthly Ride – 2:00 pm at Peninsula Park Rose Garden (N)
Corvidae (scientific name for crows and ravens) is a welcoming group of people who like riding bikes and exploring the streets of Portland together. This month’s ride ends at Fire on the Mountain to sample spicy chicken wings! More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar.

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

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Want some company biking downtown? Join these welcoming West and SE Seattle rides or start your own

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 01/10/2019 - 15:31

SE Seattle Bike Train. Exact route subject to change.

Biking on city streets can be more fun and less intimidating when you are with a group. And riding with a group can be a great way to become familiar with a route and learn some tips before trying it on your own.

So as a lot of people are looking for other ways to get around during the upcoming closure of SR 99, this is the perfect time for people to get together and ride downtown as a group.

West Seattle Bike Connections is leading the way. The group already held one ride for neighbors last weekend, helping 28 adults and 4 kids learn how to navigate the industrial streets and paths on the way downtown.

The group is hosting another SurviveRealign99 ride 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Meet at the Starbucks at 4100 SW Alaska St.

The SE Seattle Bike Train, which Seattle Bike Blog has helped get started, will host an inaugural ride 7 a.m. Monday and a weekend orientation ride January 20 for those who want to try the route outside of rush hour. The plan is to host weekly rides every Friday, at least. The route will go from Columbia City to Beacon Hill Station to Pioneer Square to Westlake Station.

So if you live in West of SE Seattle, you should get involved with these efforts. The more energy and volunteer power, the more (and longer) rides will be possible.

And if you live anywhere else, what are you doing just sitting there reading this post? Grab a couple neighbors and get organized. Kimberly Kinchen, who was previously an organizer of NYC Biketrain, is helping to organize the Seattle Bike Train effort. She has put together a handy FAQ you can use to help get started.

Rides should be for people of all experience levels, but the focus is on helping people new to city biking. It should move slow enough that everyone can comfortably stay together, and there should be at least a few experienced volunteers to bring up the rear and help folks along the way as needed. So while regular riders should be welcome, they should know that the ride will likely move a lot more slowly than they are used to.

Pick a route that won’t be too intimidating for folks to try on their own and that will work well for a group, choose a good meet-up spot in your neighborhood (a coffee shop is not a bad idea, though a covered area in a park could work well, too), then pick a time and day to give it a try. Hosting a weekend ride might also be a good idea.

If you are organizing (or want to help organize) a bike train in your neighborhood, let us know in the comments below. Seattle Bike Blog can help spread the word, but you should also spread the word locally.

Here’s a video from West Seattle’s weekend ride:

Truck driver Paul Thompson wants you to know he’s sorry for role in deadly crash

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/10/2019 - 15:07

Paul Thompson.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In the early morning hours of August 21st, 2017, Paul Thompson was on his usual route picking up recycled cardboard from businesses in Portland’s central eastside industrial district. A truck driver for over three decades, Thompson had a spotless record before that morning.

After a stop to empty the bins at All Service Moving on Southeast Morrison, he drove south on Water Avenue. Then he turned left onto Taylor and his life changed forever.

In that intersection Thompson and his truck collided with 41-year-old Tamar Monhait, who was bicycling north on Water. She died from the impact.

Thompson’s truck just moments after the collision.
(Captured from video taken by Water Avenue Coffee)

In October 2018 I got an email from Thompson. He wanted to talk and share his side of the story. I met him yesterday at the Burgerville on Southeast 122nd near Parkrose High School, just a couple miles from his home in the Wilkes neighborhood of east Portland.

As Thompson shared his story he oscillated between a warm smile (he’s a jovial guy) and a voice that quivered with regret as his face fought away tears during heart-wrenching recollections.

“There are some things I probably did wrong,” he recalled, as he stared out into the grey January rain. Throughout our conversation I could tell he fully accepted his role in what happened.

He said would have never been at that intersection at that time on August 21st if it wasn’t for the total solar eclipse. He started his route early that day with hopes of getting home in time to snap photos of it. A fan of astronomy-related conspiracy theories and an avid listener to Coast to Coast, a popular radio talk show that covers them, Thompson said he was excited to see the eclipse.

But it’s what he didn’t see in the darkness that morning that haunts him to this day.

“I’m looking down the road, just looking for lights or movement. And I’m not seeing anything. I’m not on my phone or anything, just driving,” Thompson said, recounting what happened in the moments before impact. “I think I had my four-way flashers on and I put on my signal,” he added. Then he said he wasn’t sure if the signal stayed on for the turn. The way he tells it, Thompson didn’t make a smooth left turn. He admittedly turned a bit too early, then tried to correct his trajectory — and in that twisting motion he said his blinker might have switched off. Then another thing happened during that left turn. “And this is the weirdest thing,” Thompson recalled, “I get up to the corner of Taylor and Water — and I still thought it was perfectly clear and didn’t see anything — but there was a guy walking over here [on the sidewalk to his left near Bunk Sandwiches]. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to walk across the street. So I looked over at him, and I’m turning, and then I turned back and looked out the other window and I said, ‘Holy Fuck!’ here comes the bicyclist.”

In video of the collision captured from a nearby business, it’s clear Thompson’s truck ends up in the wrong lane (over the centerline) on Taylor. He said that happened because of a last-ditch effort to lessen the impact. “When I saw her I turned my wheel as far as I could to see if I could get out of her way. I saw her right in my window and I was trying to get the truck as far away from her as I could.”

It didn’t help. Monhait’s head struck the front of his truck and she died shortly thereafter.

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Thompson remembers getting out of his truck and going to her side as she lay on the street. Then he started talking to her.

“This is gonna be in my head for the rest of my life.”

“I said, ‘Forgive me’. I was rubbing her leg, saying, ‘People are coming. Hang in there. Hang in there. I’m so sorry about this.’ I was tearing up quite a bit.”

In the video, you can see Thompson bolt out of his truck’s cab and run to Monhait — then run away. He did that twice, in what looked like frantic movements brought on by the blur of confusion that surrounds tragedy. Thompson explained to me yesterday that seeing Monhait on the ground instantly took him back to a day in 2009 when his wife died. “Tamar was the same age as my wife when she fell down our stairs and died from a head injury. It sent me visions from that day. So I ran away.”

Some time later, as he sat watching investigators go through the scene, a police officer walked up to him and informed him that Monhait had passed away. “I thought, oh my gosh… It’s just heartbreaking…heartbreaking.”

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Several times in our conversation Thompson expressed regret for not making different decisions that morning. “Why didn’t I hit my air horn?” “Somehow I should have seen her before I made that turn.” “I want to turn back time and go straight.”

Thompson, now 56, was born in Nebraska. His father moved the family to Oregon when he was four. He has two kids, an 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. He started driving garbage trucks in 1980 and used to have a route in the West Hills above Portland. He worked his way up to operations manager at one point, then realized management wasn’t for him and went back to being a driver.

After the crash, his employer (Republic Services) gave him paid time off. His company-provided attorney told him to not read comments about the crash on the Internet. “But I was at home doing nothing,” Thompson shared, “So of course I started reading them.” Thompson read comments from people who sympathized with him in The Oregonian. “On your site though,” he said. “Some people were very angry. Some said they should put me in jail.”

“I do care about people. I really cared about her. I tried to help her. I’m very sorry it happened and wish it didn’t happen. Not just cause of what’s happened to me, but what happened to her was the worst thing… she was too young.”

Thompson didn’t end up in jail. In the end he was charged with one traffic ticket for making a dangerous left turn (his lawyers got the failure to use a turn signal citation dismissed). The Multnomah County District Attorney declined to pursue a criminal case and he was never charged with Careless Driving so the Vulnerable Roadway User law — which would have given him a $12,500 fine, suspended license, and/or community service — wasn’t triggered.

A lawsuit filed by Monhait’s family was settled out of court. Republic allowed Thompson to come back to work a few months later; but not as a driver. He says they fired him unjustly in January 2018. “I think they just wanted to get rid of me,” he said. Getting fired meant he was unable to collect unemployment benefits. Thompson had trouble making ends meet before getting a job at another trash-hauling company, making substantially less per hour than he made at Republic.

Asked if he thinks justice has been served, Thompson said, “Yeah… I think so. I got a ticket. I lost my job. And no other place will hire me because of the incident. I’ve paid a price. I mean, I still feel terrible about it. This is gonna be in my head for the rest of my life. I even prayed to my wife, ‘Can you find her and say God bless her and I’m sorry?'”

Before sitting down with him, I wondered what Thompson’s true motivation was for wanting to talk. In my 14 years doing this site I’ve never had the driver in a fatal collision reach out to me like this. I asked why he contacted me: “I just wanted to say my truth to people,” he explained, “I felt like I needed to share it with somebody and you seemed like the best person to share it with.’

I also asked him what he hoped would come from our meeting. “That I’m not a bad guy that doesn’t care about people,” he said. “I do care about people. I really cared about her. I tried to help her. I’m very sorry it happened and wish it didn’t happen. Not just cause of what’s happened to me, but what happened to her was the worst thing… she was too young.”

Five days after Monhait died, her friends held a vigil at the intersection. Thompson was there. He brought his son with him and they watched from afar. “I said to him, ‘This is where it happened. This is a terrible thing. Look how I hurt all these people. Her friends and all these artists.”

___

Before parting ways Thompson and I talked about how he could help improve road safety by becoming an advocate and speaking out to more people about his experience. He said he’d be willing to do that. Trucks like his claim far too many lives in Portland and we must do more to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

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

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City moves forward with neighborhood greenway projects in north, east Portland

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/10/2019 - 12:33


*N Willamette greenway route on the left, HOP greenway route on the right.

While the Portland Bureau of Transportation looks to continue the positive trends of 2018 with projects on high crash streets, they haven’t forgotten about neighborhood greenways.

This week City Council approved $1.2 million in funding for a low-stress route between NE 128th and the Gateway Transit Center in east Portland. And late last month PBOT visited the Arbor Lodge neighborhood to pitch their proposal for a new neighborhood greenway on North Willamette Blvd between Interstate and Rosa Parks Way.

The east Portland project is known as the HOP Neighborhood Greenway because it uses Holladay, Oregon, and Pacific streets to give bicycle riders a more pleasant option than the fast and stressful arterials of Glisan and Halsey. The project will include the usual trimmings of a street where cycling and walking are prioritized over driving: sharrow markings, special signage, a 20 mph speed limit, fewer stop signs, more street trees, speed bumps, and so on.

In addition, PBOT says they plan to improve the crossing at the intersections of NE Pacific and 102nd and at NE Holladay and 122nd. There are also two sections of the HOP route that are currently “unimproved” (gravel) roads where PBOT has significant upgrades planned.

Here’s what’s coming to NE Oregon between 110th and 111th…

And on NE Holladay between 118th and 119th…

Construction on the HOP greenway is scheduled to start sometime this year.

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PBOT installed a diverter at the Willamette/Greeley intersection back in May.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Willamette Blvd in north Portland is already a de facto bikeway. Many people use it as an alternate to busy, stressful conditions on Interstate Ave and Rosa Parks. It’s also a nice shortcut if you’re riding between downtown and University Park/St. Johns. Unfortunately as the amount of drivers in this area has increased, many of them cut-through neighborhood streets in this area. You might recall this issue coming up in our stories about people who vandalized “20 is Plenty” signs on N Villard.

Cover of plan for Willamette Blvd created by PSU Masters students.

PBOT plans to thwart this disrespectful driving behavior through “traffic pattern changes that reduce the number of people cutting through.” Methods they plan to employ include speed bumps to slow drivers down and all the typical greenway features so people know to expect bicycle users on the route. Here’s more from PBOT:

“People using N Curtis, N Villard, N Atlantic, and N Willamette to avoid busier main streets has been increasing for several years. Community members have increasingly asked for solutions to the high volume of cars speeding down their typically quiet, calm streets. PBOT collected traffic data and found the speed and volume of people driving is impacting the local street network and creating unsafe conditions. The N Willamette Neighborhood Greenway project will create a new, low-stress bikeway on a key connection on the peninsula and improve residential streets by instituting traffic diversion and calming measures in key locations.”

The exact location and design of the diverters remains to be seen and is likely to be hotly debated. Given their past experiences with diverter proposals, PBOT felt the need to post a statement on the project website that might limit their options: “All changes will allow full access to homes for residents, visitors, and deliveries.”

The city can hit the ground running on this project in part because Willamette Blvd has already been the focus of plans by neighborhood advocates and a group of Portland State University urban planning students. North PDX Connected: A Community Based Active Transportation Plan for N Willamette Blvd (PDF) is the title of a project published in June 2018 that included many recommendations on how to improve the street.

Back in October we reported that the city has $68,000 already set-aside for this project.

PBOT plans to do outreach on this project in the coming weeks and months, then test potential changes in March. Final plans are due to be completed by this spring with construction in the summer of this year. See the official project page here.

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

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Tour Down Under Debuting Track Cycling

Bike Hugger - Thu, 01/10/2019 - 06:43

This year, the South Australian festival of cycling will include a night of track cycling featuring the world’s best. Tour Down Under debuting track cycling is great for the sport that could use a boost in good publicity.

Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur has finally realized his dream to bring track racing into the race. The move is a first step towards expanding the Tour Down Under to include all cycling disciplines.

Well, probably not CX.

Turtur, a former Olympic track cyclist, said the new event would give fans the chance to experience track cycling.

The Advertiser Track Down Under will challenge athletes in their best disciplines.

Exciting Racing

Tour Down Under debuting track cycling will be held at the Adelaide SuperDrome on Friday evening (January 11). It will feature eliminations, heartstarters and scratch races as well as a 1000m Madison Time Trial. Champion sprinters Matthew Glaetzer and Stephanie Morton will headline.

World Sprint Champion Matthew Glaetzer and Commonwealth Games Champion Stephanie Morton going head to head with the best competitors from around Australia.

Italy’s Elia Viviani and Denmark’s Michael Mørkøv have also signed up to race. Deceuninck-Quickstep Teammate Mørkøv won silver at Beijing 2008, and is looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 with the return of his preferred Madison event.

“Elia and I are going to participate and we both very look forward to it,” Morkov said. “We are both good track riders, we brought our own track bikes here and we are very happy that we get the opportunity to race against the Australian guys.”

The UCI sanctioned Women’s Tour Down kicked off today, with Stage 1 of the men’s event scheduled to take place on Tuesday, January 15. Watch highlights on YouTube and find the race from you cable operator or streaming online. The debut of track cycling is on the 11th.

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Waterfront bike routes will remain open during upcoming SR 99 closure

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 17:20

Work zone maps from WSDOT.

Waterfront bike routes, including the path under the Viaduct along Alaskan Way downtown, will remain open during the upcoming SR 99 closure, SDOT confirmed today.

We have received a lot of questions in the past week from folks wondering is the Viaduct closure would also close their bike route, and it was difficult to find info about bike route closures in the information released. So it’s great to hear that the current routes — including the Portside Trail (connecting E Marginal to Alaskan Way between Atlantic St and King St) and the pathway under the Viaduct — won’t be disrupted, at least not anymore than they are normally.

Unfortunately, WSDOT and SDOT will not be providing any temporary bike route improvements to help people travel through gaps in the bike lane network, however. Such improvements were not expected, but it’s still disappointing that the city is not lifting a finger to help more people get around by bike during this closure. And SDOT’s Heather Marx gave Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times an even more disappointing reason for the lack of temporary bike lanes:

January is not a comfortable month for biking or walking,” said Heather Marx, city downtown mobility director. “It hasn’t been a big part of our message, because it’s just a hard sell that time of the year.

While certainly fewer people bike during the winter than in the summer, there are still a ton of year-round bike riders in Seattle. The Fremont Bridge recorded 58,591 trips in January 2018, and that’s just one bridge. Sure, that’s a little less than half the trips in July, but it’s still a lot of people who are probably saying to themselves, “What? Am I invisible?” And a highway closure event like this could have been a great opportunity to help more people become year-round bike riders.

Bike advocate Merlin Rainwater wrote a letter to the editor in response to Marx’s statement pointing to recent bike network improvements like the Belltown extension of the 2nd Ave bike lane as an opportunity to help more people bike:

Shouldn’t the city be encouraging people to take advantage of those improvements and try biking? I’m a 72-year-old woman, and I bike year-round. It’s not that hard to sell.

At least bike share is stepping up to try to help more people make more trips by bike during the highway closure. JUMP is waiving the $1 unlocking fee through February 15 (you still pay 10¢ per minute) and bringing thousands more of their red bikes in coming weeks. Between the two companies, there could be 8,000 bikes in service during the closure, Lindblom reported.

The city also says it is working to limit closures from construction work “by temporarily revoking and reissuing permits for work in the right of way until after the closure, and increasing the number of inspectors monitoring projects on the street.” This will hopefully help cut down on the constant bike lane and sidewalk closures downtown.

Perhaps the best improvement for biking is that the Coast Guard will allow the city to restrict Ship Canal bridge openings for more hours around commute times. And since all the bike routes across the canal use draw bridges, this could prevent some bridge delays for folks. That’s not exactly a game changer, but I guess it’s at least something.

But even if the city isn’t going to take action to help more people bike, that doesn’t mean you all can’t. This is a great time to offer to help coworkers or friends get biking. West Seattle Bike Connections was ahead of the game by hosting a test ride last weekend for folks in West Seattle interested in learning how to bike downtown. Neighbors from more parts of town should follow their lead and organize efforts to help folks navigate the city by bike. And be sure to let Seattle Bike Blog know about your efforts by commenting below or emailing tom@seattlebikeblog.com.

Showdown looms for major bike parking policy update

Bike Portland - Wed, 01/09/2019 - 12:57

Hot off the presses.

Portland has adopted goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent (Climate Action Plan), make 70 percent of trips by something other than driving alone (Comprehensive Plan), and reach a 25 percent cycling usage rate (Transportation System Plan) by 2035.

To reach these goals we must have ample, accessible, and secure bicycle parking available citywide. And it was with these goals in mind that the City of Portland embarked on their Bicycle Parking Code Update project in 2016. Our existing code hasn’t had a wholesale update since 1996 when about 200,000 fewer people lived here and our official bicycle commute mode split was a measly 1.2 percent (it’s at around 7 percent today).

But the city’s proposals have run up against concerns from real estate developers and our local chamber of commerce. Companies and organizations that construct housing and office buildings worry they’ll lose money if they devote too much space to bicycle parking. Precious square footage in Portland’s hot real estate market can be put to more valuable use, they argue, as retail space or more housing units. The Portland Business Alliance echoes those concerns and says current bicycling rates are so low they don’t even merit the need for more bike parking.

“As for the cost of doing this…I’m equally interested in the cost of not doing this.”
— Chris Smith, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner

At the heart of the code update is an increase in the number of long (employee) and short-term (visitor) spaces new buildings will be required to have. The new policy brings the minimum amount of spaces for a residential building to 1.5 per unit (up from 1) and 1 space per 1,800 square feet for office buildings in the central city (there are two geographic tiers based on different cycling mode split expectations).

Several proposals didn’t make it into the final draft of changes. A requirement for electrical outlets to charge e-bikes was passed over after staff realized it fit better in the building code instead of the zoning code and there’s also a chance it could be included in an upcoming city effort to improve EV charging. You can see a one-page summary of the proposed changes here (PDF).

The most contentious aspects of the city’s proposal have to do with “in-unit” requirements and affordable housing.

The current code allows developers to put all the required bike parking inside the dwelling unit. During their outreach process, PBOT learned that some builders would simply stick a cheap hook next to bed or in a crowded corner to meet the requirement. And some residents complained about losing their damage deposits after bringing wet, greasy bikes into rooms.

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Blue is what current code requires, red is new proposal.

With support from the 2030 Bike Plan, which recommended prohibiting in-unit residential bike parking altogether, PBOT initially proposed that none of the required, long-term parking could be provided within a unit. But according to the proposed draft, PBOT staff “heard loud and clear from the development community” that this policy was untenable. If developers are forced to use square footage outside units for bike parking they say they’ll lose money that could otherwise be earned from having more retail or residential space.

PBOT and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability conducted a “Bicycle Parking Spatial and Economic Study” (in a memo you can find on page 64 of this PDF) that found the proposed bike parking requirement scenarios could result in a decrease in net operating income of between 1 and 4 percent.

So they’ve come to a compromise. The current proposal states that 20 percent of the long-term parking can be providing inside dwelling units (if certain standards for quality and access are met). “This proposal moves toward the Bicycle Plan policy goal,” states the draft proposal, “while still responding to the concerns from the development community.”

Then affordable housing advocates and companies got wind of the proposal. They worried that the mandate for 80 percent of long-term parking to be outside the unit would result in fewer housing units being built and — because of the more stringent regulations they work under — could even jeopardize entire projects.

“While there’s a recognition of the need to provide affordable transportation options for residents, there were concerns on how to balance these objectives with the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”
— Liz Hormann, PBOT

PBOT project manager Liz Hormann presented the proposal at the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission meeting yesterday. “While there’s a recognition of the need to provide affordable transportation options for residents,” she said, “there were concerns on how to balance these objectives with the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”

PBOT has reacted to that need by carving out an exemption. The latest proposal says up to 50 percent of the spaces in an affordable housing development can be in-unit. And for sites with 10 units or less, all of the required long-term spaces can be inside the unit.

This backpedal has raised eyebrows of several PSC members. Commissioner Chris Smith sees a clear line between quality bike parking and our mode share goals. “It’s not sufficient to just build bikeways, we also have to have end-of-trip facilities,” he said during yesterday’s meeting. He called the current in-unit bike parking policy a “strange artifact of our code” that we should have axed in the 1990s. Smith thinks in-unit bike parking doesn’t encourage cycling and he wants city policy to strongly discourage developers from providing it. “What we’re doing is reducing our requirements by 20 percent and saying you only have to build 80 percent of what’s needed to reach our goals,” he said.

In response to PBOT economic analysis, Smith said, “As for the cost of doing this…I’m equally interested in the cost of not doing this.”

Comment on the Proposed Draft
  • Click the “Testify” button on the Map App
  • Send snail mail to Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, Bicycle Parking Testimony, 1900 SW 4th Ave., Ste. 7100 Portland, OR 97201
  • Attend public hearing 1/22/19, 5:00 pm at 1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 2500 (2nd Floor)

Official project website.

Smith also thinks an exemption for affordable housing is the wrong way to go. “I think what we’re doing there is just providing substandard bicycle parking for the households that need access to affordable transportation most. That’s the single thing in this proposal that troubles me the most.”

And he has support among the PSC. Three other commissioners echoed his concerns. PSC Chair Katherine Schultz said the affordable housing exemption is, “Curious and unfortunate.” “I get we’re trying to balance all these competing goals, but it absolutely seems of all places that’s where we need to accommodate bikes.”

Portland Business Alliance President and CEO Andrew Hoan disagrees. In a letter sent to PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in October, he cited Portland’s recent cycling plateau. “While we agree more can be done to encourage this mode of transportation… imposing rigid requirements around rack design, placement and security are not an effective answer to the problem,” he wrote. Here’s more from Hoan’s letter:

“… ground floor bicycle parking requirements can cool nearby retail activity as they are now competing uses for limited ground floor space. Our other concern with this proposed update is with the level of detail in the code change, the square footage that it would needlessly consume in buildings, and specific requirements developers are being asked to adhere to. The current proposal would require portions of buildings be used for unused bicycle parking stalls that would be better utilized for needed housing and/or retail and associated employment. While we recognize that transportation costs are, on average, the second highest cost for households in our area, this proposal also has the potential to negatively impact affordable housing, assisted living and retail developments. Low-income communities are the most reliant on their personal vehicles; monthly mass transit passes are not affordable for many Portlanders. Housing and mixed use developers must have as much rentable or saleable space as possible in order to make their projects pencil out financially – if not, housing costs will increase and housing supply will not meet demand. At a time when our city is experiencing a housing emergency, this proposal seems to run counter to efforts to make living here more affordable.”

Schultz and the rest of the PSC is likely to hear more from developers and business interests when the Bike Parking Code Update is back in front of them for a public hearing on January 22nd.

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

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Northface Launched Futurelight

Bike Hugger - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 21:28

At CES, Northface launched Futurelight a new textile with bold claims like it’s the most advanced breathable-waterproof outerwear technology. Whether or not Futurelight will redefine the future of technical outerwear and change how we experience waterproof performance remains to be seen.

Permablity

Breathable, waterproof fabrics are very hard to do. Just now, after years of working on it, Gore is making a stretch version of the Shakedry jacket that evolved from their active shell and it works exceptionally well.

Nanospun technology.

No matter the material or nanospinning technical approach, a manufacture still has to differentiate water molecule size and water vapor molecule size. One can pass through the membrane and the other can’t. Then it’s a determination of how light, durable, and flexible the material is.

I haven’t seen much detail on the Northface Futurelight besides the PR.

Maybe it’s awesome.

Unless they’re addressing for high-aerobic categories like bike/run/nordic ski, I’m very skeptical of any meaningful difference in performance.

That’s because mountaineering just doesn’t have the same sweat transport requirement as the more aerobic actives. And, especially in a proving ground like Pacific Northwest.

It could be applicable to fat biking in the snow. That The North Face is using completely recycled materials and non-PFC DWR (durable water repellent) coating as well is interesting. Because that’s the most eco-friendly material the company has produced.

####

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — In Las Vegas today, The North Face unveiled FUTURELIGHT, a new breathable waterproof material set to revolutionize the future of technical fabrics. Developed using innovative Nanospinning technology and sustainable practices, it is the most advanced breathable-waterproof outerwear material available.

“Right now, the expectation from a waterproof product is something loud, crunchy, muggy and unpackable. With FUTURELIGHT we can theoretically use the technology to make anything breathable, waterproof and for the first time, comfortable,” Global General Manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face Scott Mellin said. “Imagine a waterproof t-shirt, sweater or even denim that you actually want to wear. Today we start with jackets, tents and gloves, but the possibilities could be endless.”
With FUTURELIGHT technology, The North Face is also setting a new standard in sustainability through new practices in the  fabric creation process. These advances have allowed the brand to responsibly create  three-layer garments through use of recycled fabrics and production that cuts chemical consumption, all while being produced in a cleaner, solar-powered factory.

Pioneering Technology

The Nanospinning process used to create FUTURELIGHT fabric, has allowed the brand’s designers to add unprecedented air permeability into the membrane of a fabric for the first time. The process creates Nano-level holes, allowing for incredible porosity while still maintaining total waterproofness, letting air move through the material and provide more venting than ever before.

Additionally, Nanospinning gives designers the ability to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, construction (knit or woven), and texture to match athletes’ and consumers’ activity or environment. Designers can customize the fabric for specific usage, for example, by increasing breathability in garments for aerobic pursuits or increasing protection for harsh, wet climates. The ability to adjust these factors in fabric construction is unprecedented in apparel, equipment and accessories.

“Disruption is one of the key elements in the DNA of The North Face brand. It is what our company was founded on and, to this day, we still believe that disruption is the key to future growth,” Mellin said. “Our teams are constantly thinking about the future of our product technology portfolio and how we can push the limits to create the next best innovation for our athletes and consumers, which is how FUTURELIGHT came to life and why it will forever change what consumers expect from their product.”

Athlete Tested

FUTURELIGHT fabric was born in the mountains, inspired by The North Face global team of athletes looking for increased performance and breathability in their waterproof gear. The material has since been tested extensively by the brand’s global athlete team and is expedition proven through use in the highest peaks and harshest environments, including the Himalayas’ Lhotse and Everest.

While testing FUTURELIGHT fabric The North Face team alpinist, Jim Morrison climbed, and skied three 8000 Meter peaks 2018, including Everest, Cho Oyu and the world’s first descent of Lhotse Couilor with his partner Hilaree Nelson.

“During the past two years, our world class team of climbers, skiers, alpinists, snowboarders and trail runners has been rigorously testing FUTURELIGHT across every discipline to prove this technology in varying weather conditions and climates all over the world,” Nelson, The North Face athlete team captain, said. “In all my years in the mountains, I’ve never experienced a product that moved and performed as well as FUTURELIGHT. It is creating a new paradigm for what I expect out of a waterproof material.”

Beyond The North Face athletes internal testing labs, the brand worked with third-party independent experts including UL (Underwriters Laboratories) a world-renowned safety certification testing organization, to push the limit of the FUTURELIGHT fabric. UL predominately tests waterproofing for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an organization that certifies first responder gear for firefighters, EMS and hazmat responders. The test methods developed were 50 percent more stringent than the current standard for the Outdoor Industry.

“The liquid integrity test for FUTURELIGHT is even more extreme compared to the NFPA testing that UL conducts, proving FUTURELIGHT is not only totally waterproof, but also fit for the harshest expeditions the outdoors has to offer,” Michael Seward of Underwriters Laboratories said.

The FUTURELIGHT Experience: Las Vegas 2019

Unveiled at the world’s largest technology show, The North Face partnered with world-renowned design agency Designworks, a BMW Group Company, to create physical and virtual reality experiences to demonstrate the array of FUTURELIGHT fabric’s technical capabilities, and potential to change how humans are protected from the elements. FUTURELIGHT fabric will first become available to consumers in The North Face’s Fall 2019 product line and will be featured across the brand’s pinnacle performance collections.

To learn more, visit thenorthface.com/FUTURELIGHT

 

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Bellevue is creating a Vision Zero ‘action plan,’ take their survey

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 16:13

Click here to take Bellevue’s Vision Zero survey.

The Bellevue City Council unanimously endorsed Vision Zero in 2015, and now they are putting together an action plan to help eliminate deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

City staff have put together an online survey to gather perceptions of traffic danger and stories of how traffic collisions have affected people’s lives. The survey walks through some of the basic tenets of Vision Zero, including questions that don’t get asked enough such as whether “it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured while traveling on Bellevue streets” and whether “human life should always take priority over moving vehicles faster.” The survey is probably as much about getting the respondents to think about traffic collisions in a different way as it is about gathering useful data.

But the sad reality is that our culture has thoroughly embraced death and injury on our roads as simply the cost of getting around, and it will take a lot of work to change that. The questions in this survey can’t be asked enough.

So if you live, work or spend time in Bellevue, take the survey and pass it around. Because Bellevue has a lot of work to do to reach this goal, and as with any city it’s going to take both infrastructure and cultural changes to get there.

City map of deaths and serious injuries on Bellevue streets 2008-2017.

Commish Eudaly’s office works with police to solve “deliberate act” of nails in Interstate Ave bike lanes

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 14:38

It’s taken years of complaints but it seems we’ve finally the attention of city officials on a recurring bike lane safety issue that might have a malicious origin.

The case of nails being strewn in the bike lane on North Interstate Avenue has gone unsolved for years. Now the police and a city commissioner are on the case.

We first reported about this in March 2017, but that wasn’t when the problem started. A quick search of Twitter posts shows that complaints go back to 2012. Someone tagged the Portland Bureau of Transportation with a complaint about it in September 2016 (who then forwarded it to the maintenance department).

In January 2018, the issue received its own Twitter account when @InterstateNails was born.

With several nail incidents at the end of last year, KATU-TV reporter (and daily bicycle rider) Reed Andrews gave the issue much-needed visibility.

After the most recent frustrating flare-up in flats, we heard from a staffer in PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office. Margaux Weeke wanted us to know the issue was on their radar and that they’d reached out to PBOT and the Portland Police Bureau to ask about how/if it was being managed. “The problem isn’t falling on deaf ears,” Weeke promised.

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After the holiday break we got an update from Weeke. She said PPB officers had been cycling on Interstate to get a closer look at the two-mile stretch between Lloyd and Greeley where the nails most commonly appear. Weeke forwarded comments from the PPB about their findings. “At first we thought it was maybe construction debris,” they wrote, “but at this point it seems to be a deliberate act.”

Notes from the PPB investigation also say days and times the nails appear are random and that they’ve noted a variety of types including roofing and framing nails.

Their investigation into this issue is still in progress and hasn’t yielded major clues at this point.

While the problem still isn’t solved, it’s good to know that at least City Hall, the PPB, and PBOT are working together on this. We’ll keep you posted if they make any breakthroughs. In the meantime, please tag us on Twitter if you find any nails.

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

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Family Biking: Join us for a new ‘Storytime’ event series

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:57

Storytime! 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month January-March.
(*Thank you to Liz Holladay from Clever Cycles for the bike-riding book illustration and to Leslie Hickey of Hoarfrost Press for the graphic lettering.)

I’m still chugging away at trying to pedal more throughout the winter in an attempt to keep my winter blahs at bay, but I’ve decided to supplement things with some indoor bike-related fun for the off-season. Enter Bike Shop Storytime.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Wearing our hats as Kidical Mass co-organizers, Sara Davidson and I will read bike-related stories (and probably some non-bike-related stories) selected for us by Katie Proctor, a veteran family biker, Kidical Mass co-founder, and owner of Books with Pictures, an inclusive comics shop.

This event is not just for existing and prospective family bikers (though of course my forever-goal is to get more families’ fannies on bike saddles) so if you know any toddlers (and kids of all ages) who like storytime, please send them over:

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Mondays January 14, January 28, February 11, February 25, March 11, March 25
In the Clever Cycles play area (900 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214)
BikePortland Calendar or Facebook event page

The storytime will be followed by a Q & A session about biking as a family. I’ll also have a small supply of the books we’ve read for sale (cash only) from Books with Pictures.

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And since I need to bring the books back to the comics shop after the event, there’s an optional bike ride, too! I’ll be taking the most family-friendly route between Clever Cycles and Books with Pictures (here’s the route) and will happily coordinate leading folks back to the bike shop after a quick visit.

Families interested in taking the bike ride, but without wheels of their own can show up a bit early to borrow a bike from Clever Cycles — there are a few bakfietsen (front-loading cargo bikes, like the one in the illustration) and longtails (rear space for kids) available to use.

I hope the event will continue past the slow season when we tend to hold few, if any, Kidical Mass bike rides, and we welcome any feedback in the comments about changing up the time or days to better accommodate more storytime fans. Thanks for reading.

* Thank you to Liz Holladay from Clever Cycles for the bike-riding book illustration and to Leslie Hickey of Hoarfrost Press for the graphic lettering.

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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The post Family Biking: Join us for a new ‘Storytime’ event series appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Scooters back in the news: Bird in Salem and Portland as final report coming soon

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:44

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

If you’ve missed electric scooters in Portland, you’ll be happy to hear they’ll start popping up again soon. Sort of.

While we don’t have any dates for another deployment, scooters will be back in the news as the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation releases its full report on the four-month pilot program next week.

That’s good timing for officials in Salem who are getting lobbied hard by Bird, a major scooter company and one of the three who participated in the Portland pilot. Salem planners will have plenty of data and analysis to pore over as they consider scooter prospects in the capital.

A story published today in the Statesman Journal reports that Bird executives have already bent the ear of Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett and city staff are likely to meet with the company soon to get their full pitch. That same story mentions the Portland pilot and confirms that PBOT plans to release a full report on it next week. Given the existing survey data and PBOT’s general tone about scooters, my hunch is the report will provide even more momentum for a second deployment.

And if scooters do get the green light in Salem, imagine the impact that could have on the minds of state legislators. A successful and high-profile deployment around the capital might help lawmakers see beyond the automobile when it comes to transportation policy.

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Also next week, Forth Mobility (formerly Drive Oregon, a 501(c)(6) public nonprofit that advocates for electric vehicles of all types) will host a networking event where officials from PBOT and Bird will be featured speakers. A webpage selling tickets to the event says they plan to discuss the findings of the e-scooter pilot report and “what the future holds for e-scooters in Portland.”

If the future is anything like the past, scooters have a bright one in Portland.

Back in October, the City of Portland released a survey of scooter riders — 85 percent of whom said they’d be “extremely” or “very likely” to recommend them to a friend.

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

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PBOT says Greeley Ave bikeway will be built this summer

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/08/2019 - 09:53

Auto users will get about 45 feet of space on Greeley. Bicycle users will get 12 feet. A concrete jersey barrier will separate them from each other.
(Graphic: PBOT)

At long last the construction of a new bikeway on North Greeley Avenue is imminent. At least we hope it is.

Project location.

At their meeting this week Portland City Council is poised to authorize a contract for the construction of the Greeley Multi-Use Path project. This change to a notoriously dangerous yet extremely vital link between the central city and north Portland was first slated to be completed in spring 2017. Then it was pushed back a year due to what the city’s transportation bureau said was a glitch in state contracting laws, only to be delayed once again last summer when PBOT says they ran out of time to get a quality bid.

Now PBOT says the $1.9 million project will go to construction this summer and will take about 4-6 months to build.

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Here’s an overhead view of the latest plans showing the lane configuration. The new two-way path is on the bottom:

95% design plans by PBOT.

As we’ve reported, the design will be a two-way physically protected path on the east side of Greeley that will connect with the existing path that connects to North Interstate Avenue on the south end. Northbound Greeley users won’t notice much change in their route (except for others coming toward them in the opposite direction); but southbound users will notice a big change. South of Going Street, the plans call for a new bike signal, signage, and pavement markings that will direct bicycle riders from the west side of Greeley, across the intersection to the east side where the new path will begin.

I’ve added a red arrow to the latest plans (which are at 95% design) to show the southbound cycling movement:


The path itself will vary between 11.5 to 12-feet wide. It will have a two-foot wide buffer filled with a concrete wall, a.k.a. jersey barrier.

It will be interesting to see how this new path works. For comparison, it will be a similar width as Better Naito, another protected, two-way facility. But unlike Naito, Greeley is a very loud and stressful street where auto and large truck drivers will be flying by at 45-50 mph. Downhill cycling speeds are also an “x” factor in how the new, two-way design will work. Even will these concerns however, it’s likely to be a significant improvement over the freeway on-ramp roulette we’ve been dealing with all these years.

Funds for its construction come from a $650,000 allocation from the city’s Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (the project was endorsed by the city’s Freight Advisory Committee), $600,000 in maintenance funds set-aside by City Council, and $600,000 from ODOT’s House Bill 2017.

In related news, a pending lawsuit accusing PBOT of negligence for cycling conditions on Greeley is moving forward. Lawyers for the plaintiff, Robert Smith, say they’re in the discovery and deposition phase of the case and they’ve received answers from their inquiries from the PBOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Brandon Swiger (the man who hit Smith with his car in December 2017).

View full 95% design plans here.

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

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