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Scherer is stepping down after 12 years as Director of Familybike Seattle, organization seeks more Board members

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:20

Morgan Scherer hauls herself, six bikes and a passenger on her electric-assisted trike in 2012.

It is hard to think of any other person who has done more for family biking in Seattle than Morgan Scherer. She has been out on our streets leading by example and sharing her experience since at least 2007, when she founded Familybike Seattle.

Hauling a fleet of different kid-hauling cargo bikes all over town, Scherer has been providing people with life-changing opportunities to experience family life on a bike. Taking a spin on a cargo bike is not just fun, it’s a chance to imagine your life without (or with much less) driving.

When Scherer started, cargo bikes in America were largely a DIY or small-scale fabrication activity because very few companies were producing purposeful kid-hauling cargo bikes for sale in the U.S. market. So people converted old road bikes into Xtracycles or attached after-market electric motors to make climbing big hills with ever-growing kids on board a more easily-achievable daily way to get around. Just a decade later, you can get fully-designed family bikes off the sales floor of several shops. It’s an unbelievable shift, and Scherer has done an enormous amount of work to help grow the number of people looking to make biking a central part of their families’ lives.

But it’s not just about equipment. It’s also about parenting. Familybike Seattle and events like Kidical Mass provide a space for parents to share tips about, well, basically everything you might encounter raising a kid on a bike. More and more kids are growing up with biking as their primary way to get around, and this movement will continue to change the way Seattle thinks about transportation. Family biking is the heart of mainstream bike advocacy in Seattle now.

Scherer is stepping down to “focus more energy on balancing family life, disability justice, and (of course) bicycle advocacy,” according to a press release from Familybike Seattle. The organization is also seeking more members to “fill our working board with dynamic directors.”

This is a big moment for any organization. Trying to find footing without the original founder is tough, but it’s the only way to become an institution. We wish them the best. If you are inspired to help, see their press release for details for getting involved either as a Board member or volunteer:

Familybike is changing and it is important you, our supportive community, know about it.

Please join us in wishing a heartfelt farewell to our Executive Director and Founder, Morgan Scherer. The Board does not take this transition lightly and we understand the gravity involved in filling the space Morgan will leave behind. Her service to Familybike and the community is invaluable.

Morgan founded Familybike in 2007 with her first family biking expo in her South Seattle yard. Since then, she has shared her knowledge and passion with the community through countless expos, Kidical Mass rides, workshops, mentoring, and the sliding-scale rental fleet. Morgan displayed her love for biking by pouring immeasurable time, labor, and research into creating a one-of-a-kind organization to support the greater Seattle-area. Her dedication to community-building and intersectional environmental justice has inspired an incredible number of biking families and is the foundation of what we all admire most about Familybike.

Although we are sad to see her part from the organization, Morgan will not be far away! In the coming months, she plans to once again provide her personal cargobike fleet to the community, via demo events and sliding scale rentals. Morgan’s bikes are a specialized and impressive collection of mobility machines bent on changing the world through people-power. Stay tuned for more information on Morgan’s rental and demo fleet as she establishes rental structures in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing her at events and around town, hauling impressive cargo, and will continue to consult with her in regards to Familybike programming and impact goals. As Morgan moves on to focus more energy on balancing family life, disability justice, and (of course) bicycle advocacy, the organization wishes her all the support and success she needs in her endeavors. We will be inviting the community to celebrate this transition and show gratitude for all Morgan has done for the family biking community with a party at a date and location TBD. Please stay tuned!

The Familybike Board would also like to take this opportunity to invite interested parties to reach out as we seek to fill our working board with dynamic directors. We are especially interested in hearing from diverse voices with background skills in finance, volunteer engagement, grant writing, equity, and social justice. If you or someone you know is looking for a way to be of service in work towards getting more families on bikes, we encourage you to reach out with a little bit about yourself to Jen Grant, our Community Engagement Liaison. (jen.g@familybike.org)

Company responds to YouTuber who (once again) cuts through bicycle lock

Bike Portland - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 12:09

(Photo: Ottolock)

Back in December a YouTuber named LockPickingLawyer who specializes in defeating security products caused a stir when he posted a video that showed an Ottolock being easily cut with snips in just two seconds.

Ottolock is a Portland company that has found a strong niche with its relatively small and lightweight lock. The company has always acknowledged that it’s not meant as a primary theft deterrent and that it should only be used either in combination with a strong U-lock or for very short durations in low-crime areas.

Two months after that video (which got 1.2 million views) came out, Ottolock launched a new model with thicker construction. The Hexband was designed with “increased cut resistance” versus the original model, according to the company’s marketing materials. “Featuring added resistance to shearing tools such as snips and cable cutters,” they continued. “Getting through Ottolock Hexband requires serious effort or powered devices, making it a stronger quick-stop lock for bicyclists and other users with higher security requirements.”

Last Friday Lock Picking Lawyer released a video that tested the Hexband (watch it below). In the video — which has already received over one million views — it takes him a bit more strength and two hands, but he’s able to cut through it with relative ease.

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Ottolock responded to the video yesterday. Here’s what they posted via Instagram:

Ottolock use guidelines.

We wish to thank the many supporters of OTTOLOCK. As you may be aware, there are critics who may not understand the product’s intended use. We’ve been consistent in message, transparent in our learning, and we stand by our product design intent and use guidelines.

We take our responsibility to customers and product quality very seriously. We make premium compact locks for quick stops and we do not claim they are invincible. We’ve always recommended redundant locking with a quality U-lock for higher crime areas or long duration lock-ups.

We have spent a tremendous amount of our resources developing and testing this product to ensure that we meet the design intent and optimize trade-offs. OTTOLOCK HEXBAND is highly resistant to many modes of cutting or shimming, but can be vulnerable to specific forms of attack. We also strive to stand behind our product with exceptional customer service as many customers will confirm.

We’ve created a great product to fill the unmet need of a lightweight, portable solution for bicycle quick stops and other outdoor uses (registering for events, going to the restroom, grabbing a coffee or snack, bundling two or three bikes together on a group ride, and more). There is not a better compact and portable lock for these applications.

We appreciate the many thousands of customers and retailers who share this belief in our product and brand.

Thank you,
OTTO DesignWorks

So far (at least on Instagram), many of Ottolock’s fans say they’ll continue to support product. Fans of LockPickingLawyer are not being so kind.

Bicycle product expert and designer James Buckroyd (a contributor to BikePortland) tried to cut through the new Hexband lock and posted his review on May 11th. The verdict? “With a manual tool you need at 30mins and a lot of energy to get this one off… There is no doubt that adding one of these to you bike either wrapped around your saddle bag or using the holder will benefit you.”

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

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What does Patrick Cashman have against the World Naked Bike Ride?

Bike Portland - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 09:37

A man named Patrick Cashman has a bone to pick with Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride, the 9,000-rider strong annual event which will embark from Laurelhurst Park on June 29th.

Cashman has been on a personal crusade since late last year to hold ride organizers accountable to the letter of the law and to force the City of Portland to reveal the ride’s route.

“This information was developed in coordination with a small group of private citizens who are allowed to know this information while other private citizens are denied it.”
— Patrick Cashman

Back in November, Cashman penned an op-ed in The Oregonian urging others to join his demands to know the route of the popular ride. Cashman has also posted his concerns on Nextdoor. Between January and April of this year, he filed six separate public records requests with the City of Portland.

So far, he’s been denied each time.

The City has acknowledged that they’ve worked with Naked Bike Ride organizers, but they say a desire for public safety makes details of the route exempt from public records laws.

In the past five years the ride has averaged about 9,000 riders. It’s a massive undertaking that has long outgrown its spontaneous, unsanctioned beginnings (the first time BikePortland covered the ride in 2005 there were only 170 riders). For years now, ride organizers have worked in partnership with the City of Portland (including the Portland Police Bureau) to make sure the ride is as smooth and safe as possible. That collaboration has led to what Cashman feels is unfair treatment.

Cashman has a history of this type of activism. While living in Vermont in February 2018 he took issue with a public high school that flew a Black Lives Matter flag. Now in Portland, Cashman has accused our city government of playing favorites. In a letter (PDF) dated April 26th, 2019, in response to the City of Portland’s denials to his public records requests, Cashman wrote, “I contend that as this information was developed in coordination with a small group of private citizens who are allowed to know this information while other private citizens are denied it, the city is also engaged in selective disclosure.”

After a few people told me about Cashman, I contacted him to learn more about his concerns. Here’s our email exchange:

5/17/19

Hi Mr. Cashman,

I’ve heard about your inquiries to the DA’s office about the World Naked Bike Ride route.

I’ve covered the event for many years and I’m curious to know more about your feelings about it. Can you help me understand what your concern is? Are you simply curious about the route and don’t like that it’s kept a secret?

Thanks for your time.


Jonathan

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5/17/19

Mr. Maus,

Good afternoon.

I’m not a fan of the event (I think it’s rude to one’s neighbors) but that just my personal opinion and has no bearing on the rights of participants to do it. My major concern is with how the city handles it. There are three problems:

1. It’s an equal protection problem. The city must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. For this event the city is choosing to waive their administrative rules and notification requirements for a moving event permit for this particular applicant and event. I don’t know their motivation to provide this special treatment, but such low level corruption to favor preferred groups or people over others degrades trust in our democratic institutions and further encourages such corruption.

2. It’s a public records problem. The state public records laws are very clear; public documents belong to the public, the default condition is they are to be released on request unless a specific exemption is claimed and justified. The city has not claimed any exemption. Instead they have employees brazenly coordinating how to evade public records requirements because, (back to point 1), for some reason this group is getting very special treatment. That not only degrades trust and violates public records law, but it sets a precedent and is a giant warning sign that the city does not take its obligation to its citizens seriously. Additionally, one has to wonder; if they are going through this much effort over this minor event, what else are they up to to keep actual consequential documents out of the public’s hands?

3. The event, based on what I read on the WNBR page, will also be a violation of the judgment against the City in Gathright v. City of Portland*. The WNBR page states they will have event security enforcing a “no photography” rule and removing anyone who makes people feel unsafe. As ordered by the judge in Gathright the organizers had to sign a statement of understanding to affirm they understand the only rules in public parks are those imposed by lawful ordinance, event organizers don’t get to make their own rules. And park rules fully support non-commercial photography by whoever wants to do it. [*Note: Cashman pasted the relevant portion of the judgment in his email; but I’ve left it out for brevity’s sake.]

Let me know if you have any further questions. Thanks for asking

Patrick

5/17/19

Thank you for the responses Patrick.

I’m in an interesting position because I’m a participant, colleague/friend of many of the organizers over the years, and a journalist who prefers to keep a healthy distance when reporting about these events. That’s why your perspective on the event and actions around the route being made public are interesting to me.

Not sure if anyone has explained this to you yet, but the route is kept secret out of respect for the organizers who have spent years forging a productive working relationship with the Portland Police Bureau in order to keep this ride welcoming and safe for as many people as possible. The ride itself is unique: It’s free and put on by grassroots volunteers, it’s massive (and a major traffic consideration, hence the relationship with the PPB), and of course many of the people are naked.

While I understand your points about the letter of the law, many things our city and citizens do are in a grey area. That is, people come together to figure out a way to do something that might not fit perfectly inside the law, but that allows people to do what they want to do and gives the Police a feeling that public safety is assured. Take speeding in cars as an example. Police have a policy of not ticketing people until they go about 9-11 mph over the posted speed limit. That’s just one example.

Organizers of the Naked Bike Ride do not want people to target the participants in any way. They want to limit the amount of people who show up just to catcall, leer, and take photographs of nude strangers. While you may have no interest in doing any of those things, many people do. And because of that it seems reasonable to keep the location and route secret and to discourage photography at the start venue.

We can agree to disagree about this of course. I’m just trying to give you more context for why this event is treated like it is. Now keep in mind, I’m not on the inside. I have never played a role in organizing the event. If you’re interested, I could introduce you to one of the organizers.

Thanks again for your time. Have a nice weekend.

— Jonathan

5/18/19

Jonathan,

We’re going to have to agree to disagree. For me it is a matter of priority and from my perspective open, equitable, and accountable government comes before most anything else. Have a great weekend.

Patrick.

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

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Senior looking for bicycle advice

Biking Bis - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 08:37

Occasionally people reach out to this blog for advice about bicycle routes, bicycles, or bike accessories. I’ve researched these topics for myself in the past, but with so many new products coming on the market, my personal knowledge isn’t that extensive or up-to-date.

That’s why I’m putting out this question about the best bicycle for …

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Electric Mountain Bike Trips in Sierra Nevada

Bike Hugger - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 17:06

Reading these descriptions about Electric mountain bike trips. I don’t even care what the bike is: motor or not. Just that the tours looks like an incredible experience. Maybe they offer a range of motors, just a bit for fatigue or that your power all day? Regardless, there are currently two e-MTB tours available to North Americans (meaning, English speaking), with more coming soon.

What I expect couples would do during these tours is one of them rides the electric bike and the other pedal power only. They both have fun and the non-cyclist keeps up.

Electric Mountain Bike Trips

This is also a growing niche for touring. In Spain, “trekking” bikes are ridden from winery to winery with signage along the way and lanes or paths. If an operator take tourists up into the moments to enjoy more local food that’s even better.

Scale the Dolomites of Brenta

On this 7-day Italian getaway, riders will climb high into the Brenta Dolomites with the help of their e-MTB, opening up more trails with fresher legs. Speed along dirt roads, forest tracks, singletracks, and open trails through the nearly 25 mile-long mountain region, passing alpine lakes, exploring ancient orchards and vineyards, and taking in the spectacular mountain vistas, including one from famed Rifugio Peller in Adamello-Brenta National Park. Along the way, enjoy village feasts of stew and polenta and lakeside gelato treats while drinking in the crisp mountain air. Departs Aug. 17; priced from $2,160 per person.

Electric Mountain Bike Trips: Breeze through the Sensational Sierra Nevada

Explore remote paths through Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains on this 7-day singletrack adventure on a route known as the mountain biker’s “Shangri-La.” Designed for experienced mountain bikers, this journey uses pedal assisted e-MTBs so travelers can do more, see more, and give more while climbing to the summit of Spain’s third highest peak. With miles of switchbacks and technical trails to explore, riders also explore olive and almond groves, sample the country’s tastiest Jamon in the village of Trevelez, and spend a celebratory night at the Refugio Poquiera after tackling a vertical climb of nearly 2,300 feet. Departs Sept. 29; priced from $1,755 per person.

The post Electric Mountain Bike Trips in Sierra Nevada appeared first on Bike Hugger.

Friday: Peddler Brewing hosts annual End of Bike Month Party

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 10:52

From the event listing.

You biked. You will keep biking. So let’s party.

The always-wonderful Peddler Brewing in Ballard is hosting their annual End of Bike Month Party 4 – 10 p.m. Friday.

$1 per pint will go to Washington Bikes.

More details from the event listing:

Calling all bikey-people! Join us as we throw our annual bike party at the end of Bike Month. Check out local vendors, win great raffle items, enjoy live music, and raise a glass as $1/pint goes to Washington Bikes!

Friday 5/31 at Peddler Brewing Company
4 – 8pm: Check out local bike-related makers and nonprofits (listed below)
7:30pm: Raffle drawing! 1 ticket per pint purchased, must be present to win
7:30-10pm: Live music by Left Turn on Blue
Food Truck: Cycle Dogs

With plenty of bike parking for all, we encourage riders of all ages, abilities and styles to come out to this celebration of biking in Seattle. Everyone’s welcome, Peddler is all ages.

The Monday Roundup: Cheap gas, expensive life lessons, ‘woonerf’ life and more

Bike Portland - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 10:02


Welcome to the week. Yes, I realize it’s Tuesday; but that doesn’t diminish our need to share the best stories from the past week. We cull the web and social medias so you don’t have you. Thanks to all the readers who flag stories for us.

Here’s what you need to know…

This week’s Roundup brought to you by Treo Bike Tours. Check out their all-inclusive bike vacations in eastern Oregon.

Bikes in flight: This is big: As of May 21st, American Airlines no longer charges a $150 oversized baggage fee for bicycles. Check Bicycling for an updated roundup of airline bike baggage fees.

Mending a bike and a human spirit: Street Roots’ executive director shared the story of her partly-stolen bike, the person who apologized for the deed, and the people who helped get it rolling again.

Encouraging fossil fuel use: Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist has floated the idea of cutting the gas tax from 34 to 18 cents as a way to offset increased energy costs that might result from the legislature’s “Clean Energy Jobs Bill”.

Quick demos work: Oh look, a bike lane project in a downtown area is non-controversial and will now be expanded because Seattle’s DOT approached with the tried-and-true ‘Better Block’ method.

Power to cite: Fascinated by this Washington D.C. bill that would allow people to issue parking tickets for some violations.

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State of the scooters: OPB delved into concerns from disability rights advocates about how PBOT is handling complaints about scooters and their users in pilot 2.0.

Right turn on red is evil: A San Francisco city councilperson has moved forward the possibility of banning right turns on red, citing the need to do something to move the needle on their march toward Vision Zero.

Law breakers: Latest episode of The War on Cars podcast takes on the heated topic of traffic laws and the behavior of bicycle riders (and includes a shout-out to our story on Idaho Stop).

Value of life lessons: Lance Armstrong says the lessons he’s learned going “from hero to zero” are so valuable he wouldn’t change a thing about the gargantuan doping scandal that now defines him.

Pack my bags: I want to visit New York City just to check out this exhibit about bicycling’s cultural impact currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York.

Video of the Week: Dream a little dream and learn what life is like on a Dutch “woonerf” street thanks to Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson who just returned from The Netherlands

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

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In front, in back, or at your side? Where should kids ride?

Bike Portland - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 08:46

Other than getting confused by Fortnite references, I love riding side by side.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Front, back, side by side — these are all good ways to ride with kids! Different circumstances might call for different positioning during each ride, but I’m curious which configuration is your favorite and why. Non-family bikers, you can play, too, and share your preference(s) for riding with another adult.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Kids in the front
I think my kids got a good handle on traffic rules during their years as passengers on my bike thanks to my narration of our rides…even though it was just for the purpose of keeping them distracted from fighting with one another. But no matter the reason this made them smart road users right from the get go. Even so, when they first started riding their own bikes, I had them ride in front of me so I could keep an eye on them and shout reminders to stay out of the door zone — car doors can swing open four feet — and to check for cross traffic at intersections. Despite my very frequent reminders, they loved the independence of riding in front of me. We’ve always lived close to multi-use paths and having the kids in front of me for long stretches with no intersections to worry about is marvelous — especially if one kid wants to ride a lot faster than the other.

No shenanigans when the kids are in front.

At first I saw no reason to tinker with our working system, but as they got bigger and I started reading about bike trains I realized I should put myself in the conductor position. This was a harder adjustment for me than for them because I was so used to keeping an eye on them at all times.

Kids in the back

Leading our bike train to school, choo choo.

Once the kids became practiced solo riders and I got more comfortable being out with them on their own bikes, I started leading the way. The main thing I like about having the kids behind me is that I present a much bigger shape and people driving will be more likely to notice me than a small child. I also like being the one to declare an intersection safe to enter and putting myself into it first.

“As they got bigger and I started reading about bike trains I realized I should put myself in the conductor position.”

Of course there are the expected detriments to not knowing everything going on behind oneself. I didn’t realize until riding with a friend and hearing his giggles that my younger son had been practicing riding without hands on his handlebars. I’ve even seen parents leading capering kiddos (often riding no-handed but doing other silly stuff, too), but I never thought that’d be me! I guess this is the version of flexing that independence muscle for biking kids once they don’t get to ride in front anymore.

Even after we swapped from kids-in-the-front to kids-in-the-back they still rode in front of me quite a bit. This mostly took place on multi-use paths and neighborhood greenways, and they always waited for me to catch up and lead the way through intersections. We’d start our days with me leading the way for several blocks of bike lane before they zoomed ahead on the multi-use path by our house, and then ceded the lead back to me once we left the path.

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Now that the novelty of being on their own wheels has worn off (they’re 12 and nine) they stay behind me (doing know knows what) all the time. But they’re fine to ride off ahead and even completely alone if they want to.

Riding side by side with kids

“If I’m not quick enough with my announcement one of them will say, ‘Car back, single file!'”

It’s legal to ride two abreast so long as you don’t impede traffic. This is how we ride most the time these days. This is solely because they attend different schools so I commute with them one at a time and they’re stuck chatting with me rather than doing their who-knows-what behind me. I have my variety of routes and still opt for the fastest route when I’m alone, which usually means lots of unbuffered bike lanes on busy streets, but with the kids we stick to quiet streets which are conducive to riding side by side. Note: people ride side by side in bike lanes, but even though I have fairly good bike handling skills I find this feels cramped and uncomfortable so I consider bike lanes to be single-file routes.

On weekends, or if I bring one kid along on the other’s school commute, we revert to mom-in-front formation, though they tend to ride side by side with one another behind me. However, their bikes are so small with handlebars so narrow that they don’t take up much more room than my big bike and me.

We’re all conscientious about impeding traffic and shift to single file for any people driving cars approaching from behind, as well as for any approaching from the front on narrow roads. It’s been fun to learn that despite their incessant chatter about school, dogs, memes, and video games, they know the drill because if I’m not quick enough with my announcement one of them will say, “Car back, single file!”

On SE Clinton, the most bike-friendly street we take with its many “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, I don’t worry about rushing into a single file as people in cars approach since there’s room for them to pass around us. There’s room for passing on streets without the “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, but I don’t like getting honked or yelled at and expect that to happen when riding two abreast on any other street. Today, uncharacteristically, we stayed two abreast after the Clinton greeway wiggled south one block to Woodward (still greenway, but no full lane signage) and a man griped, “Single file!” at us as he passed with plenty of room.

So what about you? Front? Back? Two abreast? Three abreast (we did quite a bit of that today on wide quiet streets)? I’d love to hear which and why. Thanks for reading!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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TriMet wants to build protected intersections at three locations in east Portland

Bike Portland - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 11:12

Graphic of proposed design for SE Division and 162nd shown by TriMet this week.

Staff working on TriMet’s Division Transit Project dropped a bit of a bombshell at the end of an advisory committee meeting earlier this week: They plan to build protected intersections at SE 122nd, 148th, and 162nd.

Protected intersections are a big deal. They are considered the safest way to handle bicycle traffic at what’s typically considered the weakest link in a safe facility. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 43% of urban cycling fatalities occur at intersections.

“This design can reduce the likelihood of high-speed vehicle turns, improve sight lines, and dramatically reduce the distance and time during which people on bikes are exposed to conflicts.”
— National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) on protected intersections

TriMet has spent five years planning the $175 million Division Transit Project and is now just six months away from the start of construction. The main goal is to speed up and boost capacity of buses to help more people reap the benefits of reliable, affordable, carfree transportation. TriMet says the 15 miles of “enhanced service” between downtown Portland and Gresham will speed up travel times an average of 15-20%.

We’ve recently focused on how bicycle users would interact with the new station designs; but we hadn’t heard anything about protected intersections until Tuesday night.

The plans were shared during a presentation (PDF) to the joint meeting of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees. TriMet says the designs are still in development and they’re working with PBOT to further vet them and make changes if necessary.

Protected intersections were first fleshed out by Portland planner Nick Falbo (who now works for PBOT) in 2014. Since then, over a dozen U.S. have installed them; but Portland hasn’t. We hoped to see one on the West Burnside project (currently under construction), but because of the off-set nature of the intersection and other compromises made during the design process, it’s not a perfect example.

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(Before-and-after of a protected intersection in San Jose, CA. GIF made from images taken from NACTO website).

In their just-released design guide, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) writes that protected intersections are, “Physically separated crossings that provide a high degree of comfort and safety for people of all ages and abilities. This design can reduce the likelihood of high-speed vehicle turns, improve sight lines, and dramatically reduce the distance and time during which people on bikes are exposed to conflicts.”

TriMet Project Manager Jesse Stemmler told us they intend to use the treatment on Division because the typical way to handle left turns for bicycle riders — a “two-stage turn” with green queue boxes — won’t work given the traffic volumes and other operational issues at these intersections. “We instead needed to create a protected space that would still allow for right turns and bus through movement, while allowing for refuge space for people bicycling and walking, with signal phasing protection from right turning traffic (no right turn on red) for both.”

Here’s more from TriMet on their rationale for the design:

The protected intersection design would narrow roadway crossing distances and exposure time for people walking, and provide physical protection between the bike lane and the intersection. It would provide space for left-turning bicycles to queue outside of the motor vehicle travel lanes while making a two-stage turn. This will allow the signal to be operated with concurrent left and right turn phasing for motor vehicles, which will reduce delay for buses on Division by keeping them in the travel lane and allowing for queue jumps.

This would be a huge upgrade to these intersections. Let’s hope (and do what we can to make sure) they don’t get value-engineered or compromised out of the project.

Construction of the Division Transit Project is expected to start in November with service to begin in 2022. Learn more in our archives or at TriMet.org/Division

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

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Route advisory: River View Cemetery closed to bicycle riders this weekend

Bike Portland - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 08:04

Stay out please.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In case you forgot (we mentioned it back in March), the annual Memorial Day closure of River View Cemetery starts tomorrow (5/25) and runs through Monday (5/27).

This closure is done to maintain calm and order on the streets through the cemetery on their busiest weekend of the year.

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Please respect this closure. The cemetery is a private enterprise that graciously allows bicycle riders through its property because the optional routes are dangerous and highly stressful. Let’s not abuse this privilege and/or give the River View board of directors any reason to change their current policy.

Spread the word to friends and feel free to use the roads again starting on Tuesday (5/28). Thanks.

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

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Topeak CubiCubi Light Series is Modular

Bike Hugger - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:30

The Topeak CubiCubi Light Series is a modular light system comprised of ultra-bright, high capacity USB rechargeable lights, offering multiple options in a single bike mount. I chose 1200 lumens of light output, while they offer 950 and 500 versions.

Each light also offers five lighting settings, has a low battery indicator plus a reserve setting–just in case. You can also choose between different cartridge batteries allowing you to fine-tune your needs even further. The cube design is why it’s called CubiCubi. Topeak isn’t offering a rear light and for that I’d suggest the BioLight PowerLight Mini.

Topeak CubiCubi Light Series

The light’s lamp housing is forged aluminum / injection molded polymer making it light-weight, yet sturdy when mounted. The CubiCubi has a dual zone refractor lens design allowing clear near and far visibility while focusing the main beam downward to prevent blinding oncoming traffic or pedestrians. The other cyclists on the path will appreciate this.

It’s too early to think about short days and long nights, but I’m riding now with lights on all the time.

Topeak CubiCubi Light Series

The included and optional handlebar mounts provide placement flexibility for mounting to cycle computers, phone mounts, cameras, and more. The CubiCubi 1200 is IPX6 water resistant, which is very relevant to the wet Pacific Northwest.

Optional accessories include a helmet mount, USB Dual-Charging Dock, a 6000 mAh PowerPack (rechargeable via micro-USB), and a Dual Box mount (allowing you to mount two lights at once or one light and an extra battery for the long rides)

The CubiCubi Series is available for purchase online at Topeak.com.

Topeak CubiCubi Light Series MSRP
  • CubiCubi 500 / 850 / 1200 $99 / $119.95 / $139.95
  • 6000 mAh power pack: $49.95
  • Helmet Mount: $24.95
  • Dual Box: $12.95

The post Topeak CubiCubi Light Series is Modular appeared first on Bike Hugger.

Jobs of the Week: Otto’s Ski and MTB, Velotech, RecumbentPDX, Bike Clark County

Bike Portland - Fri, 05/24/2019 - 06:29

Looking for a new place to spread you cycling wings? We’ve had four new job opportunities posted this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Mountain Bike Mechanic – Otto’s Ski and Mountain Bike

–> E-Commerce Category Manager – Velotech

–> Full-time Mechanic Position – RecumbentPDX

–> Bike 101 Summer Camp Counselor – Bike Clark County

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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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He was worried about bike share’s impact on his business. Now he profits from it

Bike Portland - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:42

Evan Ross, owner of Cycle Portland bike shop, tours, and rentals on SW 2nd Avenue.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Evan Ross is a serial cycling entrepreneur who understands the local bike scene and how to create a viable business around it. That intuition served him well when the idea of cheap bike rentals available in seconds from a mobile app was first pondered in Portland.

“I started my business to get more people riding bikes. Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”
— Evan Ross, Cycle Portland

Ross founded his bike shop and tour business in 2008. That’s right around the time the City of Portland’s efforts to start a bike share program were heating up. Lucky for Ross he had a bit of time before any bike share system would hit the ground. Portland infamously stalled on the program several times before finally launching Biketown in 2016.

From the get-go, Ross knew it would impact his business. “I was scared; but I saw it coming and I had time to adapt my fleet,” he said during a chat with him outside his retail showroom on SW 2nd Avenue in Old Town yesterday. I’ve known Ross for years and can recall being a bit surprised when he didn’t share my enthusiasm for bike share. A dedicated bike advocate and former member of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Ross wasn’t as excited about the idea as other advocates I knew.

“I knew my rental numbers would go down. That was always the threat with Biketown,” he shared.

And Ross was right. His revenue did go down. But he didn’t let that stop him from turning it into a positive.

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(Photo: BiketownTours.com)

Earlier this week, Ross announced an official partnership with the City of Portland to lead “Biketown Tours”. “Using public bikeshare you’ll cruise the waterfront bike path, discover Portland’s past and present, and ease into city riding with our experienced guides in America’s bike capital,” reads the copy on his new BiketownTours.com website.

For Ross, the third time was indeed the charm. The tours come after two previous attempts to work with Biketown fizzled out. He first hoped to get the maintenance contract for the fleet, then he tried to position his shop as the official helmet and map supplier for Biketown users. Neither of those came to fruition, but Ross maintained a working relationship with bike share program staff. And he remained optimistic.

I asked Ross how he went from seeing Biketown as a threat, to embracing it as a partner. “I realized bike share companies are really good at supplying bikes, but not in curating routes and building a connection to the local community,” he said. “Then I had this epiphany when I realized I spend a lot of time maintaining my fleet, and if I can outsource the maintenance of the bikes, but still provide the tour, it would be a bit advantage to me. I’d save wear-and-tear on my bikes — and not have to store, fix, or buy them in the first place.”

And there were also philosophical reasons for the partnership. “I started my business to get more people riding bikes,” Ross said. “Biketown works toward that same goal, so it’s hard for me to be a hater.”

Biketown (which is operated by Motivate, Inc., a Lyft company) loves the tours because Cycle Portland’s guide staff acts as a concierge to their system. The guides helps riders with rental checkout (including how to push the buttons on the keypad so they respond), offer tips and advice on how to stay comfortable on the bike (saddle adjustment is key), and they educate new riders about safety and rules of the road.

The $20 tours last about an hour and depart from the plaza in front of Voodoo Donuts on SW 3rd Avenue and Burnside. Riders get a $5 discount on their Biketown rental when they sign up. Learn more at BiketownTours.com.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Sandy Ridge, local architecture, burgers in Sellwood, and more

Bike Portland - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:27

Join the Intro to Sandy Ridge ride and you’ll be flowing down the trails like this in no time.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Weekend Event Guide is made possible by support from readers like you. Please subscribe today.

I feel like things are eerily quiet on the calendar this weekend. There are things to do, but my senses tell me this is the calm before the storm of Pedalpalooza which starts next Saturday (June 1st). But as I like to say, “Tis better to take one in hand then two in the bush,” (pretty sure that’s an old hunting maxim) so you should get out there now because you never know what will happen by next weekend.

Friday, May 24th

ABC Latinx Mechanix Night – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Anando en Bicicletas y Caminando (NE)
Únase a nosotros para nuestras noches de mecánico voluntario para hispanohablantes. More info here.

Rat Patrol Ride – 8:00 pm at Irving Park (NE)
These warm nights are best spent on bikes with the wind in your hair and good people in your view. Join this “inclusive bunch of misfits” that call themselves a bike club and be ready to have fun. Note: 8pm is meetup time, ride rolls out at 9. More info here.

Saturday, May 25th

Biking About Architecture, NoPo Edition – 11:00 am at Arrow Coffeehouse (NE)
Roll around with a fun group and learn about interesting and quirky neighborhood architecture. More info here.

Sandy Ridge Intro Tour – 1:30 pm at Sandy Ridge MTB Trail System
A great opportunity to get your feet dirty on these popular “local” trails. NW Trail Alliance will lead the way toward the easiest trails and show you how to gain confidence to master them (and move onto more difficult ones!). More info here.

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Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
Join the fastest, largest local training ride Portland has to offer. Route runs out to Sauvie Island via Highway 30 and returns via NW Newberry and Skyline. Get it! More info here.

Bike and Burger on the Eastside – 10:00 am at Gresham City Park (E)
Ride about 32 miles from Gresham to Sellwood via the Eastbank Esplanade for a stop at Killer Burger. Return on the Springwater. Ride is led by Portland Bicycling Club. More info here.

Kidical Mass PDX – 1:30 pm at Gabriel Park – (SW)
Join other families and kids for a group ride from Gabriel Park to Alpenrose Velodrome. Ample time for play and treat stops along the way. More info here.

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

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

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Editorial: The tragedy of North Greeley Avenue

Bike Portland - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:33

The Greeley Freeway. Yesterday’s collision occurred near the rear of that white truck on the left.
(Note: Red line is where concrete jersey-barrier protected lane is slated to be built.)
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday morning around 9:00 am two people died in a collision on North Greeley Avenue. Police say one of the victims, the driver of a sedan, crossed the centerline. That person’s car was hit by another driver and both people in the sedan died as a result of the impact.

While no bicycle user was involved in this crash, I can’t stop thinking about what happened (see aftermath below).

PBOT says the project (initially promised to be completed two years ago) will also, “increase the buffer between opposing traffic lanes.”

Most of you know the conditions on Greeley and its dubious history as a dangerous road. People drive 50-plus miles per hour on it part because of its industrial location, wide and straight lanes, and direct connection to an Interstate 5 on-ramp. It has been a major concern of bicycle riders for years. Despite it’s stressful conditions, it provides a seductively direct and fast connection to downtown. The downside (and it’s a big one), is that it requires bicycle users to use relatively narrow, unprotected bike lanes that merge across a death-defying freeway ramp. There has been at least one very serious injury collision and a lawsuit that accused the City of Portland of negligence.

And, as we’ve seen with other fatal traffic crashes this year, PBOT has a project planned at this location that would make the street safer.

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Portland Police confirm at least 2 fatalities in a car crash on N Greeley Ave just south of Going St.

Greeley is closed as the investigation is ongoing #LiveOnK2 #PDXTraffic pic.twitter.com/5Dldd9LayV

— Evan Bell (@evanbellKATU) May 22, 2019

PBOT had initially planned to have this section of Greeley repaved and reconfigured by summer of 2017. The $1.9 million project will include a concrete jersey barrier to on the east side to protect vulnerable users from drivers. On their website, PBOT says the project will also, “increase the buffer between opposing traffic lanes.”

Unfortunately, this vitally important project has been delayed more than once. PBOT said a contracting glitch set it back a year and it would be completed in summer 2018. Then they said they ran out of time to get a quality bid and it was pushed back again. Their latest promise is that it will be done sometime this summer.

Too many people think Vision Zero is all about biking and walking. It isn’t. It’s just that biking and walking advocates are the only ones who show up and speak up. As a driver, I never have to plead and beg for respect and safe conditions. I never have to sit on volunteer committees to make sure my interests are spoken for. The system takes care of drivers by default. It’s just one more manifestation of driving privilege.

The hard truth is that the things many people want when they’re driving (speed and access to every road at all times without impediments) are directly opposed to their own safety, and the safety of everyone else on the road with them.

Two people died on Greeley yesterday. It’s a tragedy we all feel. An urgency to gain control of our streets — and take steps required to mitigate dangerous driving and the unsafe designs that encourage it — is something we must all feel too.

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

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Ask BikePortland: What’s the best way to carry a dog on my bike?

Bike Portland - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 08:19

There are many ways to carry dogs. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

With summer in the air and June just a few days away, it’s officially biking-with-your-dog season in Portland.

Mac and Rainbow.

But it’s not always as easy as plopping pup in a pannier and pedaling away. Some dogs need to be coaxed, others just need the right place to sit so they feel comfortable.

I recently met Mac Bishop, founder of Wool & Prince, a southeast Portland-based company that sells merino wool apparel (which is great for biking!). Mac wants to ride; but he has to look after his three-year-old Bernese mountain dog, Rainbow (who has her own Instagram account). “I bring Rainbow to work and haven’t found a good way to bike with her, so unfortunately I drive everyday,” he said. “I would bike if I could find a way to tow her.”

Complicating matters further is the fact that Rainbow weighs 90 pounds. Given her size, a basket or rack would be too small. Some sort of trailer might be the best option. A cargo bike with a big front box might work (see photos below). There’s also the option of setting up a leash and having the dog run alongside; but I’d consider that an advanced skill that isn’t for everyone.

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Another complication is that so far Rainbow has been skittish about whole idea. “I tried an old Burley trailer, but she wouldn’t get close to it, and forcing her to do anything is a bit of a nightmare,” Mac said.

Let’s help Mac and Rainbow get rolling! What method of dog-carrying do you think would work best for them? Do you ride with a large dog? Do you have experience getting a dog to relax and feel comfortable being pulled around? What worked for you?

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

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World Naked Bike Ride coming to Laurelhurst Park June 29th

Bike Portland - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 06:36

Riders mass on SE Water Avenue prior to the 2012 edition of the ride.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The local edition of the World Naked Bike Ride, Portland’s annual clothing-optional gathering that celebrates human-powered transport and the vulnerability of people who do it, will start from Laurelhurst Park. The 16th edition of the ride happens on June 29th at 8:00 pm.

Volunteer behind the event have been working hard to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. They’ve also booked the March Fourth Marching Band to help boost spirits and get everyone in the mood (while you listen to the band, consider a stop at the temporary tattoo station).

Here are a few other you should know about this year’s ride:

Join the team. Despite its size (both in number of riders and cultural influence), WNBR is run by just a few dedicated people. And they need your help! If you’d like to volunteer as a tip-taker, ride marshal/medic/mechanic, or a greeter at the end to help people find after parties and answer questions, sign up for shift here.

Don’t drive to the start. The Laurelhurst neighborhood cannot handle a massive influx of automobiles. And besides, the ride is a protest against oil dependency.

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Bring cash. You’ll want bills to buy official WNBR souvenirs and to donate to the wonderfully scrappy crew that puts it together. One of the lead organizers told me, “If everyone donated $1, we’d be able to pay for the next year’s ride.”

Don’t litter. The park and end location must be left spotless. Please don’t be that person who leaves a mess.

If you see something, say something. If someone makes you uncomfortable during the event, report it to a ride volunteer.

— For the latest updates and to RSVP, follow the WNBR Facebook page (more RSVPs will help boost the post on Facebook).

This event is a treasure. We are grateful for the people who work behind the scenes to make it so magical!

Have you done it? Do you plan on it? For those readers who haven’t yet, what do you think is the best thing about WNBR? (Feel free to ask questions in the comments, myself and others will be happy to answer them.)

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

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Biking increased 32% thanks to downtown Bellevue bike lane + City will keep it, debates expanding network

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 15:20

From the 108th Ave NE Demo Bikeway Assessment (PDF)

The City of Bellevue may have just conducted the most thorough study of a bike lane pilot project ever. The 31-page report (PDF) about the 108th Ave NE bike lane in the Eastside city’s downtown core found that bicycling increased 32%, sidewalk biking rate was reduced by more than 60% and zero collisions involving people biking have been reported.

And these results come from a bike lane design that is not even fully protected. Some sections only have paint, and one pinch point section even requires mixing with general traffic. So these results still have room to improve.

The Bellevue City Council voted last week to keep the pilot bike lane. But the city is also learning from what they observed and from survey results to make it better. And the city is also looking at how to best create an east-west protected bike lane connection, likely on Main Street. Cascade Bicycle Club has a handy online form so you can let Bellevue know you support their bike lane work and would like to see it grow to Main.

Protected bike lanes work best, say people … driving?

The extensive studying also turned up some possibly surprising results. For example, their survey found that people feel most comfortable when bike lanes are separated and protected whether they are biking or driving:

Level of Traffic Stress

The study also included a Level of Traffic Stress analysis, which is based on comparing measured vehicle speeds and volumes to the level of bike protection provided. Segments are rated from 1 to 4, with one being “all ages and abilities” and 4 being “fearless adults.” So, for example, a slow residential street with very low traffic volumes might get LTS 1 even without bike lanes. But a busy street (like a downtown street) would need a significant level of protection to get the same rating.

Using this analysis, Bellevue’s transportation staff determined that only a few segments of the pilot bike lane get the top rating, and no intersection rises above LTS 3. So they are being very transparent about where they have room for improvement, which is great:

I wonder how Seattle’s 35th Ave NE street designs would have compared under this analysis system, for example. Perhaps SDOT should consider this as a tool for explaining bike elements of their projects.

Maybe this analysis of the 108th Ave NE pilot project is way overkill. But then again, now we have answers and hard data for essentially every question someone could ask. Did it increase travel times for people driving? No. Did it slow buses? No (it actually improved bus times). Did it increase collisions? No. Did the extra protection really help the bike lane work better? Yes. Did the lane attract bike share trips? Yes. Did it decrease sidewalk biking? Yes.

Hopefully the city can also extrapolate the results of this study to inform their other needed bike lanes, since they can’t (or shouldn’t) spend this much time, energy and funding on every single bike lane. Bellevue has a lot of work to do before they have a connected network of bike routes that hit LTS 1 or 2, but this is a great study to stand on when designing and building them.

Elevated Green Loop path emerges from latest Broadway Corridor plans

Bike Portland - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 11:18

Rendering of Green Loop path through Broadway Corridor site. Broadway Bridge in upper right.
(ZGF Architects)

The flyover lives.

New renderings and details for the Green Loop through the Broadway Corridor project site have been made available by architects working on the project. They include our most detailed view yet of how the path will navigate from the Parks Blocks, through the site, and up to the 30-foot high junction at NW Lovejoy and the Broadway Bridge.

After a general planning concept was adopted earlier this month, ZGF Architects has just submitted drawings for the site to the City Auditor’s Office in advance of a Design Commissioner meeting set for June 6th. ZGF has been working on the site plan with Portland’s development agency, Prosper Portland, since 2015.

The Green Loop — a project to create a carfree pathway around the central city — figures into this project because the alignment of the path goes right through it. The drawings released today offer us brand new details about how the Green Loop will be designed through the Broadway Corridor site — including an 83-foot long bridge that would go over NW Johnson Street.

Here’s a description from ZGF:

“The Green Loop will approach the USPS site from the south along the North Park Blocks, gradually climbing at the north end of the central open space to a bridge crossing of Johnson Street. North of Johnson, the Green Loop continues as an elevated bridge to the intersection of the Lovejoy and Broadway Bridge ramps. The ramp will be integrated with landscape and an active retail facility, providing a significant placemaking opportunity.”

The drawing below shows elevation (in pink) and dimensions (in black):

The green-and-pink striped lines are “bicycle and pedestrian access ways” which will help people access the Green Loop from surface streets:

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ZGF shared these images as examples of the design of the path and adjacent landscape:

In the “Bicycle Circulation” drawing below, note the NW Johnson neighborhood greenway and how the Green Loop connects directly to North Park Blocks:

The sketch below shows a view looking north at the future site. Note how the ramp would take you from NW 9th, through the site and onto the bridge:

Here’s what ZGF added to give context to the drawing above:

“The preferred concept brings the existing two-way Park Avenue north from Hoyt Street to Johnson Street, helping to connect the North Park Blocks to the Johnson Street Neighborhood Greenway… The street will have active ground floors of buildings at its western edge, with a pedestrian focused woonerf street serving one lane in each direction. At the east edge of the street, the Green Loop will transition from Park Avenue to the Park Block, where it will climb north and up over Johnson Street on a landscaped switchback ramp. The adjacent park block is intended to be open and flexible, to accommodate a wide range of programmed and informal community gathering and recreation.”

Prosper Portland expects the first phase of development for this site (which will be housing, with retail in phase two) to begin in 2021. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently doing a transportation impact study on the site which we hope to share once it’s ready.

To download the full ZGF presentation, click here.

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

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Injuries mount as Portland fails to fix dangerous potholes

Bike Portland - Wed, 05/22/2019 - 09:59

I slid 145 feet. I was lucky to escape with just road rash.

(Written by Scott Kocher, a Portland-based pedestrian and bicycle lawyer at Forum Law Group LLC and safe streets advocate advocate. We recently highlighted his efforts to improve Highway 30. Note: Kocher’s law firm is also a financial contributor to BikePortland, but that had no influence on editorial decisions.)

I love to ride in the West Hills. From the central city, they’re the closest place to escape stop-and-go traffic. On weekends, people enjoying Northwest Skyline on bikes seem to outnumber people in cars. On weekdays, commuters zip between Portland and the west side. It feels like a world apart from Highway 26 gridlock.

Which brings me to March 16th. I was riding down NW Cornell from Skyline. There were bad potholes below the upper tunnel. Not just bumps, these were the kind that could easily cause a person on a bicycle to crash — which could be catastrophic at downhill speeds. Hoping to get them filled, I stopped and reported the potholes using the City of Portland’s PDX Reporter web app.

I noted in the report that the holes were a hazard for people on bikes. On March 28th, those potholes weren’t fixed, so I reported them again. On May 1st, I took a day off to go check on the route of a popular group bike ride that typically draws 100s of people. The potholes on Cornell were still there. I marked them with yellow paint, and reported them, for the third time.

Don’t worry, the swear word is protected speech under Article 1 Section 8 the Oregon Constitution.

Half an hour later, I was descending West Burnside from Skyline. It’s a long, wide road with fast traffic. Most cyclists ride with the flow of other traffic and take the lane. It’s nobody’s favorite route, but it’s the most direct route to downtown, and the asphalt is in good shape. Except about half way down, at Arboretum Circle, where, unbeknownst to me, a water main had broken and been repaired. A spot next to the asphalt repair wasn’t fully compacted. I hit the sunken spot at traffic speed. My bike stopped, and I kept going. I tumbled and slid 145 feet.

“He wanted to know if I had finally come to fix the sunken spot, because it made his house shake when trucks hit it, and he’d reported it. Three times.”

After getting checked out and my wounds cleaned at Good Sam, I reported the sunken spot that crashed me. Two days later, I was able to get up there with spray paint. As I was marking the spot so that the City crew could be sure to find it, a neighbor, Bill, saw me in my yellow vest and came out. He asked if I was from the City. He wanted to know if I had finally come to fix the sunken spot, because it made his house shake when trucks hit it, and he’d reported it. Three times.

This wasn’t the first or the second time PBOT didn’t do its job. In May and again in June 2014 I used the PDX Reporter app to report potholes and cracks in the downhill lane of NW Cornell up toward NW 53rd Ave that were “bad enough catch the wheel of a bicycle and cause a fall.” The next month, in July, my friend and riding buddy Richard Lorenz crashed on them.

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Richard Lorenz crashed on potholes that had been reported twice in the previous two months.

Even worse, in 2017, I reported a wretched pothole on NW Thompson. It was multiple layers deep, large, and very hard to see in the leafy shadows. A car driver could have crashed from it. I reported it, noting it was a hazard for bikes – something I don’t do lightly. Nobody fixed it. I heard later that a person on a bicycle crashed on it, and had to have brain surgery. After that, I went back up with a can of paint. It still wasn’t fixed.

I went back up with a can of paint. It still wasn’t fixed.

The concern isn’t limited to the West Hills. After my crash, more people have told me their experiences. One stood out. Unable to cut my own hair, I went to the barber shop. Jessica, who cut my hair much better than I do, told me she used to bike, and loved to commute — all the way from outer southeast to the Slabtown Barbershop in northwest. But she stopped biking after she crashed on a pothole in Woodstock:

“Two years ago I was bike commuting and my tire hit the wrong angle on one of the cracks in the road and I was flipped over my handle bars,” she shared with me. “I reported the incident, but it hasn’t been filled.”

In 2010 OHSU researchers released a study of nearly 1,000 Portlanders who commuted on bicycles for a year. They found, “poor roadway surface conditions” were a factor in 21% of traumatic crashes and 20% of “serious traumatic” crashes.

Here’s what we should do about this

Speed up dangerous pothole fixes. It costs roughly the same whether the crew goes the next day or the next month. Doing that would have saved my injuries, and could save a life. This isn’t just for people on bicycles. E-scooters have much smaller wheels. People on motorcycles and mopeds are also vulnerable to potholes and other asphalt defects.

Get pothole crashes onto the Vision Zero Crash Map. All four of the crashes I’ve described count as “bicycle serious injury” crashes. Yet they are not officially counted. Why? Because like crashes on streetcar tracks, most roadway defect crashes don’t involve an automobile user. Therefore, none of them generate a police report, make it into ODOT’s dataset, or get onto the Vision Zero Crash Map.

Create a user-generated reporting tool. Let’s get these on a map. Too many crashes and injuries go unnoticed. The public has demanded this for years: From BikePortland’s B-SMART tool (now defunct) and Nathan Hinkle’s NearlyKilled.me website to the streetcar track efforts of Active Right of Way (also now offline). It’s not right that individuals and activists have to spearhead these efforts. The proper way to do this would be for the City of Portland to provide a web form for people to report and upload crashes directly onto the Vision Zero map themselves.

If we don’t measure it, we won’t improve it.

We gave PBOT an opportunity to respond to questions and will update this story when we hear back. If you see a dangerous pothole, please report it to PBOT via the PDX Reporter app, 503-823-1700, or by emailing pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov.

— Scott Kocher, @scott_kocher

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