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Bike News Roundup: National bikelash highlights

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:52

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! I’m in St. Louis visiting family this week, so that’s why news here is a bit slow. But here’s a long list of interesting stuff to read. And if I missed anything, this is an open thread.

First up, I know you all have heard some baffling reasons why a bike lane can’t be installed. Well, you’re in good company. StreetFilms put together a video highlighting some baffling anti-bike lane excuses people have heard from all around the country:

Pacific Northwest News

National & Global News

Guest Opinion: Losing the 7th Avenue greenway

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 08:51

This post from Kiel Johnson comes in response to news announced today that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has decided to route the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway on 9th Avenue.

“9th Avenue will become the greenway.”

The words put finality on years of advocacy, countless hours spent knocking on doors, talking with neighbors, making yard signs, and writing letters. This past Sunday my living room was overflowing with my fellow neighbors and their children who live on 7th. They had come hoping to hear something different. Nick Falbo, the PBOT project manager, had come to deliver to news. One family immediately walked out the door. No one knew quite what to do next.

Right now in Portland it feels like the push for a more livable city has been losing a lot.

Sometimes you get the outcome you want and sometimes you do not. The dream of a calm street outside our door where our children could safely go outside had come to represent something more than just an infrastructure project. It was a symbol of a changing neighborhood. “We aren’t against change, just not so fast” one of my African American neighbors said at a forum I attended where every African American person present resoundingly rejected a 7th ave Greenway.

There are two major African American organizations located on 7th, Albina Head Start and Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives. Both formed before I was born with the goal of helping right some of our society’s injustices. Neither of these groups saw how making 7th ave a greenway would help the people they serve.

In December my first daughter was born and I decided I was going to do everything I could to make the Greenway on 7th happen. I want her to grow up on a safe street where she would have the freedom to go outside. I wrote about some of my efforts in a series published on BikePortland this past fall.

Since hearing the news that the Greenway is not coming I have felt the entire rainbow of negative emotions. Anger, sadness, despair at a broken city process, and a looming sense that the world is inherently ruined. Losing is always hard and it is even harder to think that my daughter will miss the chance to grow up on a safer street when we had the designs and money all in place to make it happen.

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Right now in Portland it feels like the push for a more livable city has been losing a lot.

50 people showed up at an Ice Cream Social event we organized in September.

Whether it is the $500 million to widen a freeway or the well-worn 4-year-old plastic wands on the Better Naito pilot project that represent our cities lack of urgency to invest in real fixes. After watching the video Jonathan made of the I-84 path this week it is easy to wonder what is going on here. Why can we not solve these problems?

Part of it has to do with political leadership, part of it with the fraying and ineffectiveness of our advocacy institutions, and also a generational power struggle. We do not get to make our own history as we like, we have to make it in the reality inherited to us by past generations.

This past year I turned 32, over the past ten years I have started a nationwide push for getting kids to bike to school on bike trains and created a new business model that combines bike valet with bicycle repair that has helped make the aerial tram the most biked to place in North America. I have successfully advocated for better bike lanes on Willamette Blvd and have tried to be a useful part of the conversation on as many other projects in Portland as I can.

We may not get the greenway we wanted but we can still make a better community. And in the end that’s what this is all about.

For every win I can count many more disappointments. Just because you lose sometimes does not mean you give up or were wrong for trying. Losing never feels good but there are certainly worse reasons to lose besides my city prioritizing the requests of community groups that have historically not been listened to which is something we need to do.

At the end of our meeting my neighbors and I made a plan to host a series of block parties on 7th every Sunday this summer. One thing I heard from everyone is that there is a feeling of a lack of connectedness among neighbors. We also agreed to meet this Sunday to go on a neighborhood bus ride to experience the expanded 24 bus that crosses 7th and now goes over the Fremont Bridge to NW.

We may not get the greenway we wanted but we can still make a better community. And in the end that’s what this is all about.

— Kiel Johnson, @go_by_bike on Twitter

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The post Guest Opinion: Losing the 7th Avenue greenway appeared first on BikePortland.org.

PBOT decides on 9th Avenue for route of future Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:03

Close-up of new proposal showing where the greenway will jog over to 9th. See full map below.
(Graphic: City of Portland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has shifted course on their Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. Citing a lack of “broad community support,” for the Northeast 7th Avenue route option, they’ll announce later today that the new greenway will be on Northeast 9th Avenue. (Update: Here’s the official announcement.)

The change in plans comes despite major support and a grassroots activism effort to save the 7th Avenue route.

Background

These initial designs for 7th Avenue created much excitement in the community.

The enthusiastic support for 7th Avenue began three years ago at a meeting where volunteers with northeast Portland neighborhood associations gave an overwhelming thumbs-up to making it a low-stress, family-friendly bikeway. There was debate (and dueling petitions) from the start, but supporters of 7th far outweighed the opposition.

When the project was officially announced one year ago, PBOT said the final route could be either 7th or 9th, or a combination of the two; but initial public feedback strongly favored 7th. 7th is the flattest and most direct route between the forthcoming Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge over I-84 and the Woodlawn neighborhood, while 9th has hills and other considerable drawbacks from a planning, budget, and connectivity perspective.

9th also runs squarely into Irving Park, which does not currently have a through bikeway that meets greenway standards.

Once plans for the 7th Avenue route came into focus back in July, those who supported it were even more excited. PBOT’s plans were truly groundbreaking and represented an unprecedented level of human-scale, cycling-oriented designs. There were mini-roundabouts, a park that would stretch across the street (creating to cul-de-sacs that would create dead-ends for drivers), and more.

But there was one big problem: A key segment of the community — one that has weathered institutional discrimination and vast changes to their neighborhoods in a relatively short period of time — was not fully on board.

“This would make it more difficult for people — frankly, low-income people who are trying to use the services of Head Start.”
— Ron Herndon, Albina Head Start to The Skanner in August 2018

Many black people who’ve lived in adjacent neighborhoods for a half-century or more were not comfortable with such transformative changes to 7th Avenue. The backlash to the project reminded us of the controversy in 2011 around the North Williams Avenue project. People like Albina Head Start Executive Director Ron Herndon (shown above), were concerned about how the plans would impact driving access to his building on the corner of 7th and Northeast Fremont. And Herndon wasn’t the only one.

PBOT soon came to the realization that their traditional methods of engagement and open houses were not giving them a complete picture of public opinion. So in September of last year they paused the project and took it directly to black business owners, black residents and black community leaders.

PBOT’s realization and rationale

PBOT’s Nick Falbo (right) at a focus group with black residents in January.
(Photo: PBOT)

“There’s no doubt we underestimated the role that this street plays in the hearts and minds of Portland’s black community.”
— Nick Falbo, PBOT project manager

PBOT Project Manager Nick Falbo said in a phone interview last week that despite their attempts to include all community voices in the planning process, “There’s no doubt we underestimated the role that this street plays in the hearts and minds of Portland’s black community.”

Falbo said they worked hard to make sure their initial plan for a 7th Avenue greenway accommodated all the needs of business owners and other stakeholders along the corridor. They presented it to neighborhood associations and organizations like Head Start and the Soul District Business Association. At the same time, letters of support for 7th Avenue were pouring in.

“But it got the point,” Falbo shared, “Where that support [for 7th] was actually becoming a liability.”

As support grew with the realization that a dream-like cycling street could become a reality, so did the opposition.

“We started hearing from the Soul District Business Association and other black community partners like SEI [Self Enhancement, Inc.] and PCRI [Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives] and they started raising concerns,” Falbo said. “When Albina Head Start says this might be bad for their families, and when John Washington with Soul District Business Association says this might be bad for their main street, and when service providers in the area say this will be bad for their communities, we really owe it to them to listen.”

Falbo said PBOT realized there was a “big division” in the community. So they held two focus groups in December and January organized by SEI and PCRI. “We learned a lot,” Falbo said. When it comes to 7th Avenue, “It certainly plays a bigger role in the black community than we ever anticipated.”

According to a fact sheet on the focus groups published today, one participant said, “We know change will happen; that’s life. But the change has to be tailored to the community, not just an individual group without regard for others.” Another person said, “As soon as an idea comes up for any kind of project or changes, Black folks need to be at the table. Sometimes, we don’t even know there’s a table to be at!”

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Falbo said a major takeaway from these focus groups was a realization that PBOT’s Bicycle Plan for 2030 — passed in 2010, before the Williams project and the racial reckoning at PBOT that came with it — is woefully outdated when it comes to the issue of racial equity. “What we heard from our black community partners was that they weren’t involved in those processes [the Bike Plan and Transportation System Plan] and when we come to the community and we say, ‘Hey we’ve got these greenways for 7th and 9th,’ a lot of the response is, ‘Where did those [ideas] even come from?'”

And, similar to feelings we heard expressed around the Williams project, there’s a legacy of distrust around change in these neighborhoods — especially when it’s proposed by a government agency and isn’t seen as a benefit to long-time residents. “What they see in a project like this,” Falbo explained, “Is transformative change with the opportunity for unintended consequences and it’s something they fail to see a lot of value in. They’re just not getting things from this project that some others might be.”

Keep in mind, the changes proposed for 7th weren’t just a new bike lane. They would have forever altered the street, and therefore, the neighborhood.

As Falbo put it: “After more communication with these community partners it was pretty clear that we lacked the broad support that would be necessary for transformative change on 7th.”

The proposal

(Click images to enlarge)

Instead of a greenway on 7th, PBOT will put it on 9th. They’ll also create what they call a “Safer 7th”. They say it’s a “double-win”. Instead of changes to just one corridor, we’ll get changes on two.

Proposed route.

On 7th, the focus will no longer be to reduce the number of drivers. PBOT will instead use speed bumps and other measures to slow traffic down and improve safety. “Everything but diversion,” is how Falbo described it.

The existing traffic circle at 7th and Tillamook will be removed, and they might remove several others as well. Falbo says the circles work well on lower-volume streets, but as competition for space increases, they become points of conflict.

PBOT will create new crossings near schools, businesses, and at the bike streets of Tillamook, Morris, and Going. There will also be a new bike lane between Tillamook and Weidler to help people connect to the Lloyd District and the Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.

The new greenway on 9th will begin at Tillamook and go north to Holman (another greenway). There will be median island diverters to aid in crossing and reduce driving volumes at the intersections with Webster and Emerson, as well as Ainsworth. PBOT will beef up crossings at Tillamook, Fremont, Prescott, Alberta and Killingsworth.

As for how to get through Irving Park, PBOT says they’re still working with Portland Parks & Recreation to figure out a design and funding. The plan will be to go ahead with construction of the greenway project without the new path through park. “We recognize the Irving Park path today is inadequate for bicycling, but we are committed to trying to solve that problem,” is how Falbo put it.

Responses to the new proposal

With the compromise on 7th and the greenway on 9th, PBOT says this new proposal has the broad support they didn’t see when the project focused solely on 7th.

New 7th Avenue resident Kiel Johnson (here with his daughter Lulu) is disappointed by the decision.
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

PBOT Capital Projects, Assets and Maintenance Communications Coordinator Hannah Schafer says the new proposal gives the community even more. “We’re making improvements on two separate streets… From our perspective this additional engagement we did with the black community helped us build a better project.”

For Falbo, the experience has been a major education. “It definitely pointed to some blindspots,” he said.

Given what happened on Williams Avenue, how did PBOT not see this coming? When I asked Falbo that question, he said they knew they were operating, “in the shadow of Williams,” and that the blindspots with this project were partly based on timing (Williams was eight years ago). “There are different stakeholders now… Many people come and go, and roles change, and we haven’t done the best job maintaining those relationships from that experience. So we had to rebuild those relationships.”

“We hope this decision will in some small way demonstrate this community values the participation of people of color in public investment decisions.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

New 7th Avenue resident Kiel Johnson is an active community volunteer who owns the Go By Bike valet and bike shop in the South Waterfront District and is a regular contributor to BikePortland. He launched a grassroots effort in support of 7th Avenue that we chronicled in a series of articles. He’s disappointed with the outcome (in a meeting this week with PBOT’s Falbo, he walked out of the room upon hearing the news). “Sometimes you get the outcome you want, and sometimes you do not,” he shared with us via email yesterday. “The dream of a calm street outside our door where our children could safely go outside had come to represent something more than just an infrastructure project.”

Johnson met many of his neighbors during his work. Those new bonds won’t go away even if his dream for 7th Avenue has. “We may not get the greenway we wanted,” he said, “but we can still make a better community and in the end that is what this is all about.”

The Street Trust used to support 7th Avenue. But upon hearing PBOT’s new plans, they’ve shifted support to 9th. In a statement, Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said, “We hope this decision will in some small way demonstrate this community values the participation of people of color in public investment decisions. A project on NE 9th can deliver the low-car experience needed to make a variety of cyclists feel comfortable without disrupting access to institutions serving people of color. The Street Trust is eager to advocate to complete the greenway through Irving Park to create a memorable route marked by a beautiful off-street segment.”

The project is scheduled for construction in 2020. Stay tuned for announcements of open houses and other opportunities to weigh in on the new proposal to iron out design details.

Learn more at PBOT’s Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project page.

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

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Our annual don’t be a jerk in River View Cemetery post

Bike Portland - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:10

Please slow down and ride with respect for others.
(Photo: BikePortland)

One thing I’ve realized about doing daily local news in a fast-growing city is that even if we’ve covered something several times, many people who are new to town are still in the dark about some things.

At least I hope that’s the case with a recent incident in River View Cemetery.

So if you’re new to town, please listen up: That forested path through the cemetery that takes you safely between the Sellwood Bridge and SW Palatine Hill Road/SW Terwilliger Blvd is private property. We are extremely lucky that the Board of Directors of the nonprofit that runs the cemetery have given us (via the City of Portland) the right to pass through. They do this because there is no other direct and safe option. And because they are nice people. Suffice it to say, the River View path is a gem that’s used and adored by many — from commuters to racers and weekend warriors — and it’s a privilege to use it, not a right.

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones.”

Longtime readers of this site will recall that we first raised a red flag about unsafe riding behaviors in 2006. Then a few years later we covered the issue again when the cemetery’s board threatened to install speed bumps to slow people down. The most recent bout of disrespectful riding happened in 2017.

And I’m sorry to say I’ve once again fielded a concerned call from River View’s new Executive Director Rachel Essig. She said a man riding his bicycle was going downhill “extremely fast” and crashed with a woman who was riding slowly uphill. The man was then “verbally abusive” to the rider he ran into.

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I got in touch with the victim a few days ago. She said she’s 62 and claims she was riding uphill around a blind corner before it happened. “He came around the corner so fast. I thought, he’s going to hit me, what am I going to do?!” Thankfully, she was able to avoid most of the impact and wasn’t seriously hurt (except for a big gash in her leg from where it dug into her pedal).

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones,” the woman told me.

To add insult to injury, after the man flew into a ditch to avoid her, he allegedly got up and started yelling, “F*** you b****!”*

(UPDATE, 9:07 pm: The man involved in this collision has shared a different version of the collision in a comment below.)

If this is how it happened, this is seriously rude behavior — both the fast cycling through the cemetery and the verbal abuse.

Signs posted at both entries clearly say the top speed is 15 mph. Yes, that means you need to drag your brakes on the descent. If you have River View as a favorite segment in Strava, you should remove it as such. In fact, you should contact Strava (like we and others have) and demand that they delete all cemetery segments from their system.

Again. Please refrain from riding like a jerk in the cemetery. And tell your friends that we could lose access to this precious route if the board gets tired of tolerating this type of behavior.

In related news, take note that the cemetery will be completely closed to cycling on Memorial Day Weekend — May 25th through 27th — in order to recognize the solemn holiday when many people seek peace with deceased loved ones.

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

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Bontrager WaveCel Helmets

Bike Hugger - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 20:06

Today Trek introduced  Bontrager WaveCel Helmets with a safety technology similar to Koroyd and what Smith launched 5 years ago.

WaveCel, Koroyd, and MIPS deploy retention systems inside a helmet that prevent it from sliding around or popping off your head on impact. Kali Protective has a similar, but lesser known technology called Composite Fusion.

The reason Trek hyped WaveCel as the most innovative product they’ve developed in the past 30 years is they’re marketing it with science, studies, statistics, a university, a white paper, and this statement

We are cycling enthusiasts on a mission to help more people enjoy the benefits of biking and to do that with the most advanced protection possible.

Safety First, is a First

Of course, bringing more safety products to market is good for cycling. And,  Trek seems to be the only bike company with a safety culture that started with daytime running lights. Perhaps that’s why WaveCel is so important to them and was teased for the past two weeks.

Because the road market is down without anything new since aero and motors, the media and cyclists alike were expecting something quite different.

If your current helmet doesn’t include a system to keep it on your head in a crash like any of the 4 I’ve talked about in the post, it’s a good time to replace it. The study cited by Trek, indicates all the systems work significantly better than helmets without a retention system.

Find one that’s comfortable and fits your head. Pay attention to how well the helmet moves air. The first iteration of Smith’s helmet negated the Venturi effect and was too steamy for me. Later, Smith reduced the amount of Koroyd in the helmets. MIPS can fatigue your scalp during a ride because there are padding and straps touching your head. The MIPS inside a Lazer helmet, for example, I just can’t wear. The POC won’t even go on my head.

Any of those may fit you perfectly. I haven’t worn a WaveCel, but of the other three styles, Kali is the most comfortable.

How WaveCel Works

WaveCel absorbs energy on impact. The layers of the gel-like material move independently and flex until the cell walls crumple and then glide, actively absorbing direct and rotational energy and redirecting it away from your head.

This three-step change in material structure—flex, crumple, glide—is remarkably effective at dispersing the energy from an impact. Nearly 99 times out of 100, WaveCel can help prevent concussions from common cycling accidents, according to Trek.

Bontrager WaveCel Helmet Pricing

Bontrager WaveCel helmets are initially being offered in four models:

  • XXX WaveCel Road Helmet ($299.99)
  • Blaze WaveCel MTB Helmet ($299.99)
  • Specter WaveCel Road Helmet ($149.99)
  • Charge WaveCel Commuter Helmet ($149.99)

Find them online and at your local Trek store.

The post Bontrager WaveCel Helmets appeared first on Bike Hugger.

Pressure builds on ODOT as new concerns surface around I-5 Rose Quarter project

Bike Portland - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 16:29

Fresh off a public hearing dominated by opposition to their I-5 Rose Quarter project, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is now hearing new concerns from the Portland Public Schools Board.

In addition, the leader of the Albina Vision project, Rukaiyah Adams, made public statements about the project at an event hosted by the Portland Parks Foundation last night. And No More Freeways PDX has filed a formal request for an extension to the current comment period for the project’s Environment Assessment on grounds that ODOT withheld crucial data and gave the community only 18 days to analyze it.

Here’s a rundown on each of those fronts…

The big news was reported by The Oregonian late today. According to their story the PPS Board will ask ODOT to do a full Environmental Impact Statement — a much more rigorous undertaking than an Environmental Assessment (both of which are requirements under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process).

The O says, “The district’s concerns mirror those the community at large has expressed about the interstate project,” that ODOT hasn’t given them enough time to evaluate the EA, and that both ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation have failed to fully engage with them about the myriad issues surrounding Harriet Tubman Middle School.

The full PPS Board is due to vote on whether or not they should formally request an EIS at their meeting tonight (6:00 pm, details and agenda here).

Adams speaking at an event held at the Portland Armory last night.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

ODOT’s I-5 project was also under a microscope at an event last night hosted by the Portland Parks Foundation. There were speakers and a panel to discuss how the project might be an opportunity to create world-class parks and urban spaces. The I-5 Rose Quarter project was paired with Albina Vision (we shared how these projects overlap a few weeks ago). As Chief Investment Officer for Meyer Memorial Trust and a well-respected community leader, Rukaiyah Adams pulls a lot of weight. As leader and chief spokesperson for Albina Vision, she finds herself in an interesting position of influence on the I-5 project.

Adams made several statements last night worth noting (also worth noting is that ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s Chief of Staff Marshall Runkel, Metro President Lynn Peterson (sitting next to Windsheimer), Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and others were in attendance):

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As Adams laid out her group’s plans for restoring the Albina neighborhood that was destroyed by I-5 and other Rose Quarter developments, she said, “We want ODOT to change its approach to huge infrastructure investments like the ones we make with I-5.”

Later in the evening, Adams asked another panelist, a megaproject manager from Washington’s Department of Transportation, about how they were able to make progress on massive infrastructure projects:

“One of the points the Albina Vision team is trying to make is that the evaluation of impact on the community shouldn’t just be the community that’s there today, but the historic community impact. It sounds like you thought of that and you ran an EIS process, which is the more comprehensive evaluation than an EA process. So I wanted to know why you went to an EIS process instead of the faster EA process.”

Then Adams was asked to respond to a question from the audience. Someone asked: “Can you imagine a future for the Albina Vision that is not dependent on widening the freeway?” “Yes. I can envision a future like that,” Adams replied (and the audience began clapping). She then turned to ODOT I-5 Rose Quarter Project Manager Megan Channell and said, “Megan, I’m sorry.”

“Let’s say this project doesn’t come to pass,” Adams continued. “We still have the [freeway] cap question, to stitch the neighborhoods back together. From our point-of-view, the question of, ‘How do you heal this gash that we’ve cut into the city.’… The context is this project, but it’s not limited to the project.”

When asked to consider the future of the Rose Quarter more broadly, given that several major properties have uncertain futures, Adams got real. “Here’s the rub: This is a town that talks about progressive values and says, ‘We want equity.’ This is our chance to walk the frickin’ walk and stop the talk…. We have thousands of people needing affordable housing and this is 94 acres in the central city… I think we should design our processes and outcomes for the people who live here. I want the city to work for the people. And we’re not backing down.”

On that note, No More Freeways PDX has made a formal request for 45 more days to comment on the EA. The coalition leading the charge against the I-5 Rose Quarter project says 632 pages of technical analysis and datasets were only made available on March 13th — nine days after it was requested. “Without these data,” their letter reads, “it is simply impossible to independently assess ODOT’s claims about how this freeway expansion will impact the local community.”

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

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At hearing on speed limit bills, lawmaker bristles at mention of ‘traffic violence’

Bike Portland - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 10:32

The Street Trust Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal (L) and Oregon House Rep. Caddy McKeown.

Earlier this month a pair of bills that would give cities across Oregon more authority to set speed limits on local streets got their first hearing in front of lawmakers at the state capitol in Salem.

There was no vote taken on either Senate Bill 558 or House Bill 2702 at the Joint Transportation Commitee on March 6th; but the conversation between advocates, lobbyists, agency staff, and lawmakers was notable. Especially an exchange about “traffic violence”.

“When you use the word ‘violence,’ it makes me think something intentional has occurred, and I’d question the use of that word.”
— Rep. McKeown, Transportation Committee Co-Chair

First, the bills. SB 558 is the statewide expansion of a bill passed in 2017 that gave the City of Portland authority to lower residential speed limits by 5 mph. HB 2702 would give City of Portland authority to set speed limits on all the roads — including arterials — in its jurisdiction. This would be a major victory in the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s war on speeding.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) currently has authority over speed limits on all streets in the state. But as we know all too well, ODOT’s driving-centric perspective colors their decision-making and they often care more about maintaining driving speeds than keeping all road users safe. Part of that is because they rely on outdated and dangerous methodologies for speed-setting like the 85th percentile rule — which means the faster people drive, the higher the speed limit.

Thankfully it appears ODOT is aware things need to change.

“Maybe the historic practice that we’ve been using [to set speeds] doesn’t necessarily fit the context of what our current transportation system is,” said ODOT Highway Division Manager Kris Strickler at the outset of the hearing. “And maybe what the future of that transportation system is, and are there other ways to look at speed setting as we start to look at this future.”

While ODOT gets pressure from truckers and freeway drivers to keep speeds limits high, it’s a different story in cities like Portland.

PBOT Active Transportation and Safety Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo was at the hearing. She told lawmakers her mandate is Vision Zero, which requires nothing less than an end to fatalities and serious injuries. “It’s something [City] Council takes seriously and the public leans on us very hard about, so we really are trying to organize our management of the roadway system to achieve that,” Ciarlo told lawmakers.

Then Ciarlo made the case for change: “There’s pretty strong national research coming out that — especially in the urban context — the historic way of setting speeds has not had good safety outcomes.”

A major PBOT ally on HB 2702 is the City of Eugene. Their City Engineer Matt Rodrigues testified that, “If you keep using 85th percentile as an approach, the 85th percentile speed will keep going up.”

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HB 2702 wouldn’t give cities carte blanche. It would have a series of parameters in place like the requirement of certified engineers, requirements for consistency and adherence to a methodology laid out in adopted rule, a close partnership with ODOT, and so on.

House Rep. Rob Nosse is the bill’s main sponsor. Perhaps concerned that ODOT will be reluctant to give up speed-setting authority, he called the bill a “partnership approach” that would, “Allow willing [as in, cities would opt-in] local jurisdictions to implement context-informed speeds on their roads in consultation with ODOT.”

When it came time for open testimony, the first person to step up with The Street Trust’s new Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal. Her organization is strongly in favor of the bills. “We work with Families for Safe Streets… who’ve been driven to working against traffic violence after they’ve lost family and loved ones to violence on the roads.”

That reference to “violence” caught Transportation Committee Co-Chair Rep. Caddy McKeown by surprise. “When you use the word ‘violence,’ it makes me think something intentional has occurred [shaking her head], and I’d question the use of that word. Can you explain it to me?” (Co-Chair Sen. Lee Beyer interjected, “Is that like road rage?”).

Poudyal then responded: “My usage of the term ‘traffic violence’ is really to address the impact to the people who die, who suffer injury. There is violence inflicted on them. It wasn’t intended to speak toward any intention on the drivers’ part or anyone who inflicts that harm.”

Here’s video of the exchange:

I asked both McKeown and Poudyal about this exchange via email after the hearing. I didn’t hear back from Rep. McKeown.

Poudyal said,

“We want to use language that challenges the notion that deaths of pedestrians and cyclists are ‘accidents’, that there is not much to be done to prevent them, or that it is normal that they happen as frequently as they do. Referring to fatalities and serious injuries as traffic violence rather than accidents more accurately reflects the actual impacts – losing lives – and helps to challenge complacency of drivers not being cautious.”

As for Rep. McKeown’s discomfort with the term, Poudyal said she feels it reflects a common feeling that many of us who drive worry about the vast responsibility that comes with it.

“It’s important to begin to shift the way we talk about traffic violence in order to begin to really value people’s lives over efficiency and speed,” she added.

It will be interesting to see how these bills fare. Stay tuned.

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

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Family Biking: A primer on tire pumping

Bike Portland - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 08:58

Bike maintenance with kids is fun! (And takes twice as long.)
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Shout out to all the fair-weather family bikers! Rumor has it the gorgeous weather won’t last, but it’s lovely out right now and my kids’ bikes have lots of new company at the school bike racks.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Have you ever excitedly greeted your dusty, neglected bike in the garage on the first nice day of the year only to find it has two flat tires? Fortunately your tires don’t need repairing — rubber is porous and as soon as you pump air back in, your bike will be ready to roll. Keeping the right amount of air in your tires is a relatively easy task, and it’s incredibly empowering to be able to keep your family’s fleet functional. Yeah, plenty of other things can go wrong with bikes, but flat tires are the most common woe. Plus, kids can help, and — if yours are like mine — they’re probably already familiar with your bike pump, having shot air into their mouths, noses, and down their pants.

Here are some basic tire-pumping tips…

Get a floor pump
I love having a floor pump at home. Unlike a handheld pump, it has a wide bar for grip and flat plates for my feet so it doesn’t wobble around. I also have a small pump I keep on my bike for out and about use, but the ease — both speed and not having to bend over as much — of a floor pump can’t be beat. They run about $50-$100 at shops. If that’s too steep, ask to borrow one from a neighbor.

Note: If there’s no pump of any sort to be found, it won’t harm your bike to walk it to a bike shop on flat tires. You shouldn’t ride a bike with flat tires though, because you’ll damage your rims. However, if you must carry a small kid to find your source of air, and you have wider tires, that’s probably not enough weight to do damage.

Tire pressure

This tire has a maximum of 110 psi (pounds per square inch).

Your bike will tell you how much air it wants! All bike tires have either a range or maximum air pressure printed on their sides. Some will list several units, but I just look for psi (pounds per square inch). In general, hybrid bike medium-width tires take 50-70 psi, knobby mountain bike tires 30-50 psi, skinny road bike tires 80-130 psi, and fat bike tires (over four inches wide) 15-25 psi. Since I carry a lot of weight on my bike, I always pump it up to the maximum. I’m also not great at checking my tires often so they don’t get noticeably low as quickly when I pump them up to the max. We pumped the little road bike pictured above to the 110 psi max, but a bike mechanic friend suggested to stick to 80 psi for a more cushiony ride given its light rider who doesn’t carry extra gear on the bike.

Kids help: Tire pressure numbers can be so small! Let younger eyes search the sides of your tires for the numbers.

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Presta valve left, Schrader valve right.

Valve types
There are two main valve types: Presta and Schrader.

Presta-to-Schrader valve adapters at my local shop.

Schrader valves are the wider ones that are exactly like the valves on car tires (I remember which is which because sChrAdeR has the letters c-a-r in it) and Presta valves are the narrow ones that I’m really good at breaking. My floor pump nozzle goes on either valve type, but my portable pump has a removable chuck at the end that screws to the pump in different orientations depending on the valve type. Some pumps have two different holes. I find Schrader valves harder to get my pump onto, but Presta valves require an extra step of unscrewing the little lock nut. Both valve types might have black plastic caps protecting them you must unscrew before attaching your pump. Those little caps are really easy to lose during the course of pumping up tires (especially if you’re distracted by kid helpers), but don’t worry — it’s not that big a deal if you leave them off.

If you happen to have a bike with Presta tubes and a pump only for Schrader valves, you can buy an adapter for about a buck, usually found on your local bike shop counter. These were more useful to have back in the days of free air at gas stations.

Kids help: I like to have the job take twice as long by involving the kids, so after I’ve got the pump attached to the valve, I have them pump the air until they get too tired to finish the job.

Eight easy steps:
(As seen in my book Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living)

1. Find the valve. For a floor pump, spin your wheel to place the valve at the bottom (6 o’clock). For a very small pump, unless it has a foldout foot rest, spin your wheel to get the valve to the top (12 o’clock) so you don’t have to bend over so far.

2. Remove valve cap. For Presta valves, untwist the lock nut to open the valve — don’t try to pull it all the way off, just untwist to the top of the pin — that will allow the pin to depress once the pump is in place. Tap the top of the pin; you should hear air hiss out. This tapping of the pin also ensures that it’s not stuck in place before you secure the pump.

3. Attach the pump head. For pump heads with levers: flip the lever into the down position, push the head onto the valve as deep as it easily goes, and then flip the lever into the up position to lock it in place. For pumps that screw into place: twist the piece at the end of the pump several times so the pump is well sealed to your valve.

4. Pump. When pumping, pull the pump all the way up and push all the way down. You shouldn’t hear air escaping out the side of the head. If you do hear air escaping, you probably haven’t attached the pump well enough, although it also might be a sign of a faulty pump head. Re-attach and try again.

5. Check the tire pressure. The tire pressure is the number the pump settles at once you’ve stopped pushing down on the pump, not the highest number the pin hits while you’re in the action of pumping.

6. Carefully remove the pump head. Unscrew your pump head (or close down the lever and remove) at a nice straight angle so you don’t bend the valve or pull off the Presta valve’s pin with the lock nut. Note: the hiss of air you hear when you remove the pump is coming from the pump, not the tire; your tire pressure is still right where you left it.

7. Retighten Presta lock nut.

8. Replace the valve cap. Feel around on the ground or dig around in your pocket for where you left your valve cap and screw it back on to your valve.

Squeeze your fully-inflated tires
Hey, now that you’ve got the right amount of air in your tires, give them a squeeze so you know what they should feel like. Remember, tubes and tires are porous so they’ll lose air over time. Very diligent people check their tires every single time they use their bikes. I try to check our tires every week. I actually check our tires every few weeks. Granted, wider tires with lower psi are going to hold onto their air longer so our bikes (other than the pictured little road bike) are built for less diligent squeezers.

Kids help: Kids love putting their hands all over the dirtiest parts of their bikes! Have them get a feel for squishy versus full-inflated tires.

Snake bite!
So what’s wrong with riding on low tires anyway, you’re wondering? Well, in addition to making it much harder to push your bike along, you run the risk of getting a pinch flat — when you hit a bump or pothole and your under-inflated tube is pinched against the rim. This usually makes two small holes, thus the name “snake bite.”

Slow leaks
If you’re finding your bike tire is low more than every few weeks, you’ve got a slow leak. This is usually the result of a number of minuscule holes that are impossible to find and patch and you’ll need to get a new tube. However, if you’re very stubborn you can pump that tire every time you use the bike (been there, done that).

Solid tires
Is all this pumping and pressure talk making your head spin? There are solid tires out there. I first saw foam rubber tires on Strider balance bikes, but I’ve experienced them first-hand on dockless bikeshare bikes in Seattle. It’s hard to know whether to blame the heavy bikes or the foam tires (or both!) for their clunkiness, but I wasn’t worried about flats!

Have you any tire advice to add — maybe you have experience with tubeless or Slime? 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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Will Mayor Durkan meet the City Council’s downtown bike lane 2019 deadline? – UPDATED

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 08:49

From a March 19 presentation to the City Council Transportation Committee (PDF).

SDOT will update the City Council Transportation and Sustainability Committee today on the progress (or lackthereof) on the downtown Basic Bike Network.

The City Council passed a resolution last summer calling on SDOT and Mayor Jenny Durkan to complete key sections of the downtown bike network by the end of 2019, including Pike/Pine, 8th and 9th Avenues, King Street, a south downtown connection and a segment of 12th Ave (see the resolution’s bike lanes in orange in the map above). The presentation notes that Pike/Pine and a south end connection are on target for December (so, as late as possible to meet the resolution), but does not include an update on the rest of the projects.

UPDATE: SDOT’s Jim Curtin told the committee Tuesday that the city had reached a “breakthrough” on 8th and 9th Avenues that will allow construction to start in the third quarter of this year. The biggest hangup for building the south downtown connection is Metro bus layover space, he said. And he noted that the stretch of 12th Ave between Yesler and King “will be very difficult.” You can watch the update via Seattle Channel (starts around the 34:20 mark).

The mayor and SDOT have nearly stopped building bike lanes, especially downtown. The only downtown bike lane to open under Mayor Durkan’s watch was already under construction before she took office. The City Council’s resolution last summer was essentially an attempt to remind her that the bike network is a Council and voter-approved priority. After years of bike network delays, SDOT would need to dramatically increase bike lane construction to catch up to the progress promised to voters who approved the Move Seattle levy.

The Mayor has already blown her chance to have a downtown bike network in operation before the city’s major transit and highway changes began earlier this year. The plans, funding, Council and voter support were all ready, but she chose to stop it. Even without a bike network, biking helped absorb a lot of trips during the initial Viaduct closure. This happened because neighbors got organized and people took it on themselves to bike despite her administration’s clear disinterest in helping people do so. And now that buses are due to be kicked out of the transit tunnel, another transportation crunch is about to begin. And once again, the mayor will have done essentially nothing to help more people shift to biking.

Has the number of people biking during these downtown transportation crunches inspired the Mayor’s Office to rethink their anti-biking stance? Will they rise to the challenge the City Council unanimously set last summer by building a connected skeleton of a downtown bike network by the end of 2019?

Portland researchers behind major new helmet tech launched by Trek/Bontrager

Bike Portland - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 06:52

WaveCel’s “collapsible cellular membrane” showed much better results in initial lab tests than traditional foam or MIPS.

A local company has played a major role in the development of a new helmet released today by Bontrager, a bicycle part and accessory brand owned by Trek Bicycle Corporation.

Bontrager says the WaveCel technology used in their new line of helmets, “disrupts 30 years of accepted safety standards.” The company says research proves WaveCel is up to 48X more effective than common expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam at preventing concussions caused while cycling. The “collapsible cellular material” was developed by Dr. Steve Madey, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Michael Bottlang, a biomechanical engineer. Madey and Bottlang work for Apex Biomedical, a company with a laboratory in Clackamas and an office in downtown Portland. Their research was performed at the Legacy Research Institute in north Portland. Madey and Bottlang worked with Trek and Bontrager’s research and design teams for four years developing the material.

Michael Bottlang, PhD

Steven M. Madey, MD

According to Bontrager, “WaveCel is the first advanced helmet technology ever to receive funding from the US National Institute of Health.”

Here’s more about how it works (video below the jump):

“Unlike a standard foam helmet, which is designed to protect against direct impacts, WaveCel accounts for how most cycling accidents actually happen — ungracefully, with twists, turns, and angled impacts. WaveCel absorbs energy in multiple ways. On impact, the layers of the WaveCel material move independently and flex until the cell walls crumple and then glide, actively absorbing direct and rotational energy and redirecting it away from your head. This three-step change in material structure — flex, crumple, glide — is remarkably effective at dispersing the energy from an impact. Nearly 99 times out of 100, WaveCel prevents concussions from common cycling accidents.”

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Three materials studied. EPS foam on the left, MIPS in the middle, WaveCel on the right.
(Images from Accident Analysis and Prevention)

Results of laboratory testing published in Accident Analysis and Prevention (December, 2018) showed significant decrease in the risk of traumatic brain injury in helmets with WaveCel technology when compared to foam and Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) helmets. Specifically, the WaveCel material slowed down rotational acceleration and rotational velocity — both of which are correlated with TBI.

There’s a commuter, road, MTB and all-around model.

WaveCel is exclusive to Bontrager helmets (although I won’t be surprised if it’s licensed to other brands in the future) and is currently available in four models: the XXX WaveCel Road Helmet ($299.99), the Blaze WaveCel MTB Helmet ($299.99), the Specter WaveCel Road Helmet ($149.99), and the Charge WaveCel Commuter Helmet ($149.99).

The helmets are available locally at Bike Gallery.

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

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Conditions on the I-205 path are unacceptable

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 14:44
document.createElement('video'); https://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/i-205-smaller.mp4

With so few safe and direct alternatives, the I-205 multi-use path in east Portland is a crucial backbone in our transportation network. Unfortunately it’s been rendered nearly unusable due to an abundance of trash, personal belongings, and makeshift homes that have been built upon it.

People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Everyone in Portland is aware that many people sleep and live outside. The spaces next to highways and paths like the I-205 and Springwater Corridor are especially popular camping spots because they often have grass and trees and there are no adjacent residents or business owners. To many people, these spaces are out-of-sight. But not to bicycle riders.

For years now, bicycle riders have had to deal with this situation. It’s one thing when people live near the path. However, it’s another thing entirely when people live on the path. That’s the situation on the I-205 path where it goes under NE Sandy Blvd. After sharing a comment from a women who said she’s stopped riding because she’s afraid of that section — and then seeing several other commenters say the same thing — I decided to take a look myself.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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Today I rolled over to the I-205/Sandy area. It was terrible. Several large deposits of trash and belongings littered the path. On the section that goes under Sandy, several well-established living areas are nearly blocking the entire path. At one point there’s only 2-3 feet for someone to get by. It’s very unsettling on many levels. It’s also very dangerous.

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve heard from readers today:

Tara Goddard:

I rode it once, and was thankful to be on my ebike, and never rode it again.

Beth Rice:

It’s just horrible. I avoid the 205 as much as I can

Bjorn Warloe:

This is even worse than the last time I braved it but between broken glass and threatening campers I switched to mixing it up with cars on Sandy from killings worth to Prescott years ago.

Andrew:

I am a 57 year old large man, and I will never again ride the I-205 path between Holgate and Burnside until something changes. This is not just a “woman’s fear.” I don’t mind the homeless, but I do mind the path being an obstacle course.

Maria:

I just rode there Sunday (mid-day) and it was downright scary. I’m a bold rider but it was pretty dicey. The firepit in the middle of was pretty hot.

Al:

I just rode through there on Friday evening. The path pictured was so blocked that I had to walk my bike through as I didn’t know if the sleeping bags crossing the path had people in them. The folks there were super polite and cleared the rest of the way for me but this is definitely a safety and security concern to the point where it can’t be allowed to continue.

The Oregon Department of Transportation owns and manages the I-205 path. However, as of this year, they transferred management of this specific issue to the City of Portland. Today I noticed an “Illegal Campsite” notice from the City of Portland that looked to have been posted this morning (pure coincidence we did a story today). The notice says, “This campsite will be cleared no less than 48 hours after and within ten days of 3-18-19.”

This is such a sad state of affairs. People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Below is a longer version of the lead video that shows a few sections prior to the undercrossing:

UPDATE, 3/19: Here’s KGW news coverage from last night:

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

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Comment of the Week: A woman’s fear of riding on the I-205 path

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:46

Southbound on 205 path where it goes under Sandy Blvd.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A comment written by Roberta on March 9th touched on an issue that we’ve addressed several times in recent years: People who live on and adjacent to multi-use paths.

In response to our story about paths along the Columbia Slough, Roberta said conditions on I-205 have become so bad she’s afraid to ride on it. And several other readers echoed her concerns.

Here’s her comment:

“Right now 205 path is scary and I won’t do it again. On Sunday March 3 I joined the 205 bike path at Prescott, heading north to go shopping at Target by the airport. Near the Sandy underpass there was a large encampment with guys stripping bike frames. The scary part was the encampment under Sandy. Homesteaders had their belongings spread over nearly all the entire bikeway, leaving a path just barely wide enough for my bike tire and pedals. Bike frames hung overhead and I had to duck to avoid being hit by the “inventory”. People were inside the tents. Propane tanks and then pure garbage abounds. I chose not to bike home that way – too creepy. So I chose to bike home via Alderwood > Cornfoot > 47th by Whitaker Ponds. Crossing Columbia at 47th/42nd was fine but that hill heading south on 42nd is too steep and too narrow. I walked my bike on the sidewalk on the opposite side (facing traffic) and that sidewalk ends as well. Way too narrow for uphill biking and fast cars.

I’m a woman in my mid-50’s, and I’ve been bike commuting in Portland since the 90s. Not the timid 80 y/o used as an example, but also not strong enough to keep up with traffic when the hill is steep and the road narrow.

I sure would like to see that encampment under Sandy cleaned up. It’s been there a long time, but never taken up so much traffic space as this week. I would have taken a picture, but no way with those people working on all those bike parts. I might have gotten beaten up or my own bike taken from me.”

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Roberta’s comment reminded me of a story from another woman who’d contacted me with similar concerns about this exact location two years ago. The woman had used the City of Portland’s PDX Reporter app to report the camps and trash. She said much of the path under the Sandy Blvd “tunnel” was blocked by trash, tents, and other items.

In response to Roberta’s comment, a reader named “curly” wrote, “It is a tragedy that the city, and east Portland residents in particular, have effectively lost this premier active transportation facility because it is considered unsafe to ride. I would also add that it is the only lighted Multi Use Path so it’s usable 24/7 were it not for the described unsafe conditions.”

I chose Roberta’s comment for several reasons: It highlights an important, complicated, and sensitive topic many people are afraid to talk about out of fear of being called uncompassionate or “anti-houseless”; She’s a woman in her 50s and I’m eager to amplify non-male voices here; And she shares a personal vulnerability and experience I think many others can relate to.

Thank you Roberta.

If you see a great comment, please flag it for me by writing a reply that includes the words “comment of the week” (so I can find it via search).

For more on issues related to people camping on paths, see our homelessness archives.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Coal rollers guilty, Car Talk, middle finger rights, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 08:40

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Treo Bike Tours of Eastern Oregon. Now is the time to grab your crew and plan your trip! Treo offers multi-day all-inclusive packages and they’ll even pick you up from Portland.

Welcome to Monday. Was that a great weekend or what? I hope you were able to enjoy the warm sunny weather. Now it’s time to put our thinking caps on once again.

On that note, here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Grit girls: Much to love about this NY Times piece on the appeal of mountain bike racing to young girls and the organization that’s bringing the races to high schools nationwide.

Coal rollers guilty! A Utah judge ruled against “Diesel Bros” for EPA violations related to their sale of equipment that allows people to “roll coal”. (We wrote about this lawsuit back in 2016.)

Click and Clack: Legendary co-host of NPR’s Car Talk joined Doug, Sarah and Aaron on the latest War on Cars Podcast episode.

Too many cars: This must-read National Geographic piece (worth giving them your email for) delves into the challenges facing cities and comes to one major theme: To survive and thrive in the future we must undo our history of car-centric planning.

Mobility and climate: And a similar tone from CityLab about the urgency to address climate change and how urban transportation can and should play a major role.

Reactionary progress in SF: Mixed feelings when a city gets aggressive with bike safety fixes only after a high-profile death.

Flip ’em off: In a victory for frustrated road users everywhere, a federal court ruled that holding up your middle finger is a constitutional right.

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Helmet conversation evolves: The success of shared electric scooters in Spokane, Washington has that city seriously considering a change to helmet laws to make them optional for riders.

Think airplanes are dangerous? Excellent piece in Slate about how automakers’ rush to sell high-tech cars is making our roads significantly less safe as drivers lose ability to think for themselves and put too much trust into their cars.

Why people oppose bike lanes: This wonderful Streetfilms from the National Bike Summit features bike advocacy pros sharing the most ridiculous excuses they’ve heard for not building bike lanes.

Words matter: The Gothamist does a great job explaining how biased and apathetic police work and insensitive police statements re-traumatize victims of traffic crashes.

Tweet of the Week: (Ms. Sadik-Khan is the former NYC DOT Commish and a globally recognized urban planning consultant.)

Once king of sustainable transpo, Portland could become jester with a $500M interstate expansion. Not sure what’s more galling—the state thinking it can widen a road w/o increasing traffic, or thinking it can convince Portlanders it’s good for the planet https://t.co/8SaDWIlOPy

— Janette Sadik-Khan (@JSadikKhan) March 15, 2019

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

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Portland area bike companies in Sacramento for North American Handmade Bicycle Show

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 15:30

Chad Smeltzer of Smeltzer Bikes in Gresham has made a name for himself with off-road capable drop-bar bikes. He shared this photo of one of the bikes he has at NAHBS.
(Photo: Chad Smelzter)

Portland area bike businesses will have a strong presence at the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) that opened today at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Event poster.

NAHBS is bike industry institution that started in 2005. We’ve covered it here to varying degrees since Portland builders made a strong showing in 2006. Portland builders have a rich legacy at NAHBS, winning “Best of” awards at several past shows.

This year I noticed two new builders (that we haven’t even featured on the front page yet!) that will make their national debut at NAHBS: Simple Bicycle Company and Smeltzer Bikes.

Simple is owned by builder Oscar Camarena. He keeps a low-profile because he also builds on contract for several well-known brands (that’s also just how Oscar is). Now his bikes are due to make a name for themselves and we couldn’t be more excited for him. Chad Smelzter is behind Smeltzer Bikes. He’s found a niche in the red-hot gravel market by linking up with local adventure riding organizers Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM). He’ll debut two new OMTM collabs at NAHBS, including the sneak peek he shared with us which you can see in the lead photo.

Below are the rest of the Portland-based companies that will exhibit at NAHBS:

Builder Oscar Camarena of Simple Bicycle Co.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Chris King Precision Components
Civilian
Biciclista
DiNucci Cycles
Efficient Velo Tools
North St. Bags
Ti Cycles

And we’d be remiss to mention our friends from Eugene who will also be there: Rolf Prima Wheels/Astral Cycling, English Cycles, and Co-Motion Cycles.

It’s great to know that Oregon remains a hotbed of bicycle builders, and component/accessory makers. Good luck to everyone at the show!

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

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Thank you #ClimateStrike marchers!

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 11:35

scene from Portland as kids protesting climate change march through the streets pic.twitter.com/hn90eQW8dL

— Mike Bivins (@itsmikebivins) March 15, 2019

Students from schools throughout Portland have massed downtown today for the #ClimateStrike event. Reports are that it’s a big success with crowds much larger than folks anticipated.

We just want to say thank you for standing up and creating more awareness for the climate crisis! As one of the old people in the room, I’ll do what I can to create a different future.

Also want to remind you that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon (39% of the total). We can reform transportation and significantly lower our GHG emissions (not to mention make our neighborhoods much nicer to live in), if we do everything we can to encourage the use of transit and bicycles, and discourage the use of cars and trucks.

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And in case you haven’t heard, the State of Oregon (with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s blessing) wants to widen Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter. This would encourage people to drive through Portland, spewing even more toxic emissions into our lungs and air. You can help stop this project by checking out No More Freeways PDX, an all-volunteer group of people who are just as concerned about climate change as you are.

Thanks again. See you on the streets!

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

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ALLITE Concept Bike

Bike Hugger - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:56

Magnesium alloys, like Super Magnesium have been around for a long time. This ALLIT concept bike features “Super Magnesium” by its US manufacturer ALLITE.

Elemental magnesium is a very low density metal. Therefore, when alloyed with other elements the resulting metal tubes have really impressive physical characteristics.

However, alloys with great strength traits that are formed into tubes suitable are notoriously difficult to weld. For instance, that’s why you see magnesium alloys cast or machined into components.

The ALLITE concept bike at NAHBS is really about marketing the material to framebuilders.

Above all, success for ALLITE in the bike industry, requires convincing framebuilders that their “Super Magnesium” material has been tweaked to overcome weldability issues.

In addition, there will need to be a source of fittings. Those include

  • Dropouts
  • Bottom bracket shells
  • Integrated headtubes

The fittings must be in the same alloy. In other words, the current vendors who cater to framebuilders don’t have those items in magnesium. Ultimately, this is important in the age of thru-axle dropouts with flatmount disc calipers.

In a flat market, it’s great to see innovators. Especially, with a challenging material like magnesium. I won’t be at NABHS this year.

It starts this weekend in Sacramento. Magnesium as a frame material is a post Cold War affect. It came from demilitarized Russian sources. I saw a frame or two come through the shop back then. The material is lighter and stronger than aluminum and cheaper than carbon. ALLITE launched last year at Interbike.

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As bell tolls for victims, Portlanders at ‘die-in’ call on ODOT to end ‘traffic violence’

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:30

A woman and her baby made a strong statement in front of ODOT headquarters on Wednesday.
(Photos: Alex Milan Tracy)

In a silent and powerful protest on Wednesday, parents, children, and activists came together to draw attention to unsafe streets. There was fake blood and chalk-outlined bodies. Adding to the symbolism was that it took place in the courtyard outside the front doors of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Region 1 headquarters in northwest Portland.

“We’re lying here today to make it less likely that you’ll be lying in the road in the future.”
— Ted Buehler, participant

They laid down on the cold, hard pavement while someone struck a bell 467 times — once for each person who died on Oregon roads last year.

ODOT was the clear focus of this event. Organizers chalked “#DeathByODOT” on the sidewalk and used the hashtag in social media posts. In a statement about the event, Bike Loud wrote, “ODOT can no longer ignore the violence that occurs on their streets. We will not allow them to hide any further. We call on ODOT to stop the violence.”

“We’re lying here today to make it less likely that you’ll be lying in the road in the future,” said Bike Loud PDX volunteer Ted Buehler.

Edward LeClaire was one of the volunteers with Bike Loud PDX who participated. He showed up a bit early and found himself in ODOT’s lobby. I wasn’t at the event, so I asked LeClaire to share his thoughts on how it went. Here’s what he shared via email:

“I was astounded at how willfully out-of-touch ODOT staff were with the bike community. Before the event I happened to be in the lobby and I overheard staff saying things like, ‘What do they think is going to happen anyway?’ During the event while I was on the ground, looking up at the ODOT building, I could see several staff peering out and staring at us. Meanwhile, the bell was being rung to mark every death and it was somber as hell. The sun was going down the temperature was dropping and I was starting to shiver from the cold of the ground, but I didn’t want to get up out of respect for the dead while the bell kept ringing and ringing and ringing.

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A couple of ODOT staff took the time to be outside during the event but they chose to stand apart and refused to participate. Bicyclists are obviously the ‘other’ not deserving of their respect. Given that staff were aware of the event and discussing it inside, I had sort of hoped that possibly a few ODOT staff who commute by bike might come out and at least say, ‘Hey we ride bikes too.’ But they did not. We had an open microphone to allow anybody to talk and I honestly expected ODOT’s public information officer (who was there) to take the opportunity to say bland words about how, ‘ODOT cares deeply about the safety of all road users, and we work hard every day to keep people safe, we lament the death of every person killed on our roads, etc. etc.’ But that they could not even say kind bland words when given the direct opportunity in front of the evening news crews — it really struck home just how ODOT staff view bicyclists and pedestrians not as humans but as the freakish weirdos who strangely keep choosing to die on their roads.”

See more coverage of the event from KATU News.

Images by Alex Milan Tracy

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

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Friday Opinion: The bills I wish we were working on this session

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 08:52

Bicycle riders should be included in Oregon’s “Move Over Law.”
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

There are plenty of important bills down in Salem this session, but as you might have noticed in the list of bills we’re tracking — and despite a supermajority for Democrats — bicycling doesn’t seem like much a priority. (Not that bicycling is a partisan issue, but in general Democrats tend to be more receptive to it than Republicans.)

When arguably the biggest bike bill in the mix is one that merely clarifies an existing law that bike lanes don’t disappear in intersections, you know it’s another down year for cycling in Salem.

I can think of several reasons why the issue has lost urgency with lawmakers; but instead of lamenting the state of cycling in our politics, I want to share a few legal ideas I wish we were working on.

Bike tax repeal: The $15 tax on new bicycles that passed in the 2017 session is an embarrassment for our state. It was created as a tool to help make increases in automobile fees and taxes more politically palatable. It was also the product of lawmakers seeking to quiet constituents who constantly berate them with the tired “bicyclists don’t pay!” mantra. It makes no sense, it doesn’t raise a significant amount of revenue ($610,000 for the entire year, about half what was expected, while costing taxpayers $115,000 to administer), it discourages a behavior that should be promoted, and — newsflash! — it won’t shut up the haters. I heard there was some organizing from an independent lobbyist to work on a repeal, but I don’t think that effort got off the ground.

Idaho Stop: Allowing bicycle users to treat stop signs as yields is a sensible way to improve cycling. As we reported in January, the circus of enforcement at stop signs has been a perennial problem in Portland. We very nearly passed Idaho Stop in 2009 and it deserves another chance.

Move over for bike riders: Oregon should trash its existing bicycle passing law (which is ineffective, unknown, and therefore relatively pointless) and amend our much stronger Move Over Law to include bicycle riders, similar to a bill currently being discussed in Washington. The legislature recently expanded the Move Over Law to include drivers on the side of the road. Bicycle riders deserve the same respect.

Studded tire tax: This should be a no-brainer. Studded tires cause millions in damage to our roads each year and they’re not necessary for the vast majority of people who choose to use them. Washington’s legislature has taken up a $100 fee and eventual ban. Oregon should do the same.

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E-bike incentives: Oregon has rebate programs for electric cars and motorcycles. Those programs should include electric bikes.

Rise to new heights.

Photo Credit: Adam P. #RamHeavyDuty pic.twitter.com/zrHmGSajr3

— RamTrucks (@RamTrucks) March 14, 2019

Big truck tax: There’s growing awareness that the alarming rise in fatal collisions involving walkers can be partly attributed to the increased popularity of large personal trucks (like the obscene one above). These huge trucks with massive front ends are largely a product of automakers’ greed and selfish consumerism — not a need for cargo and utility. If a person doesn’t have a commercial/business license, we should tax the purchase of large trucks and SUVs and put the revenue in a Vision Zero Safety project fund.

Bicycle Safety Corridors: ODOT already has a “Safety Corridor” program. We should expand it and create “Bicycle Safety Corridors.” In more rural areas with popular bike routes, these stretches of road could come with increased fines for violations, more “Bikes on Roadway” signage, bicycle pullouts, more frequent sweeping/maintenance intervals, wider shoulders, and so on.

I love dreaming up new legislation. That’s the easy part! I know it takes a lot of work to turn them into laws.

Hopefully by the 2021 session cycling will be ready to emerge from the shadows and flex its muscles again as an issue worth fighting for at the State Capitol.

What do you think of my wish list? Any of these worth pursuing? What new cycling-related laws do you dream about?

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

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Jobs of the Week: Western Bikeworks

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 07:36

Two fresh job listings this week. Both from our partners at Western Bikeworks.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Seasonal Part-Time Sales Associate – Western Bikeworks

–> Part-Time Service Writer – Western Bikeworks

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

Be the first to know about new job opportunities by signing up for our daily Job Listings email or by following @BikePortland on Twitter.

These are paid listings. And they work! If you’d like to post a job on the Portland region’s “Best Local Blog” two years running, you can purchase a listing online for just $75. Learn more at our Job Listings page.

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

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

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Here’s why Portland Parks will install stop signs on the Springwater

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 13:01

Westbound SE Harney Street. ODOT says stop signs are needed on the path because they’re worried vehicle users on streets like this will wait on railroad tracks for path users to cross.

When we learned the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau planned to install 10 new stop signs on a newly paved, half-mile section of the Springwater Corridor, several readers contacted us to express their frustration.

Illustration by ODOT Rail Division to explain their plans for the Springwater.

Stop signs for carfree path users (especially at very low-volume cross-streets) make for inefficient riding and decrease the utility of the trail. Not only that, but psychology and best practices tell us it’s actually less safe to install stop signs that will be ignored by users because people become desensitized to them. It would be much wiser to install caution or yield signs for path users and only require a full stop from the occasional cross-street user.

But that’s not how the Oregon Department of Transportation sees it. They required Portland Parks to install the stop signs as part of their Sellwood Gap project currently under construction.

In a project update from the Parks Bureau on March 7th, Parks’ Community Engagement Coordinator Ken Rumbaugh confirmed that the intersections of SE Umatilla, Harney, Marion, 9th, Linn, 11th, and 13th will become four-way stops (cross-streets currently have yields). Then he added, “In these instances, the cyclist(s) and/or pedestrian(s) will have the right of way.”

After a few days of emailing various staffers of ODOT’s Rail Division (who’s in charge of this area due to the extant railroad line adjacent to the path), I finally got an explanation of their rationale for requiring the stop signs.

ODOT Public Affairs Manager Shelley Snow they deferred to the Federal Highway Administration’s Rails With Trails – Lessons Learned report (PDF). I had emailed her examples of the Alta Planning Rural Design Guide and the AASHTO Bikeway Design Guide — both of which warn against using stop signs for path users. “The guides you mention are great when it comes to those more common types of intersections,” Snow replied. “But apparently trails/paths running right alongside rails are not that common.”

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This queue of vehicles can spill back across the tracks, putting drivers that obey the law and stop for trail users, in danger.
— ODOT

Snow said there are not design standards ODOT could refer to for this project, only the “lessons learned” from the FHWA. Based on ODOT’s analysis of that FHWA guidance, Snow says their primary concern is that people using cars (and other vehicles) on the cross-streets might end up waiting on the railroad tracks. Here’s how Snow put it:

“The key factor here is that without the stop signs where they are now, the traffic coming from the other direction could get stuck on the tracks waiting for the free flow of path users to go by. Thus, the stop signs were placed to stop the path users, decreasing the chance that road users are stopped on the tracks.”

And here it is put another way by ODOT Rail Crossing Safety Manager Rick Shankle,

“There are three different modes of transportation, on three different alignments, intersecting in one place. The train has the right-of way over the other users, and the motor vehicles must yield to pedestrian use on the trail. The STOP sign on the trail intersection with each of these streets, and the STOP signs on the streets essentially make each of these intersections a 4-way stop, and reduce the potential for motor vehicles to stop on the tracks while waiting for a pathway user to cross the street.”

Snow also provided me with a document titled Springwater Study that states,

“According to Oregon law, once a pedestrian sets foot in the crosswalk or multi use path, vehicles approaching from both directions must stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian exits the driver’s lane, plus half of an adjacent lane. In locations near railroad tracks this queue of vehicles can spill back across the tracks, putting drivers that obey the law and stop for trail users, in danger of collisions with trains using the railroad tracks. Not only is this a safety concern, but Oregon has long had a law in the vehicle code prohibiting a vehicle from stopping, standing, or parking on a grade crossing or otherwise interfering with rail operations.”

Snow said the City of Portland, Parks bureau, ODOT Active Transportation staff and railroad representatives all agreed on the design.

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

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