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The Monday Roundup: Oprah’s e-bike, California’s driving problem, e-scooter fatality, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 09:48

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the Ruckus Warehouse Sale, this Saturday December 8th.

Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past week…

You get an e-bike! And you get an e-bike! One of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” this year is an electric bike that she loves because it allows her to pedal up to 20 mph.

William Shatner likes them too: The entertainer credits his “magic” e-bike for helping him stay fit and creative well into his 80s.

Guerrilla bus stop benches: An anonymous artist and transit activist in Los Angeles is giving people a place to sit by installing unsanctioned wooden benches at bus stops.

Seattle bike share: Deeming dockless bike share a big success, the City of Seattle is expanding their program and expects to have up to 20,000 bikes on the street by this coming spring.

Too much driving: California’s climate change regulator released a new report saying the state isn’t meeting its goals because of the, “state’s inability to curb the amount of driving.”

Bike to fly: The venerable NY Times reported on how biking to the airport is a thing people actually do. The article featured a tidbit about Portland via a quote from yours truly.

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The men/women ‘cross chasm: The cyclocross world is aflutter because the men’s races are losing viewers (because the same guy wins every time) while the women’s races have never been more popular or exciting.

U-Dub goes cargo: The University of Washington uses a fleet of five electric cargo bikes to deliver all inter-campus mail and packages. The move has made the campus safer, cleaner, quieter, and more efficient.

Be an e-scooter tycoon: Think you can manage an electric scooter fleet better than a public agency? Bird will now sell any small business operator a fleet of scooters and all they pay is a 20 percent licensing fee.

Death by scooter rider: An elderly woman in Spain was hit and killed by a man riding a scooter.

Tweet of the Week: Our friend Steven Mitchell (who got harassed by a truck driver a few weeks ago), shared this great footage of a very common occurrence in Portland…

Those bikes, hogging the road. Probably one of those stupid bikes causing all this traffic. pic.twitter.com/SDm7Uc8oTR

— Steven Mitchell (@stevenrmitch) November 27, 2018

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

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BikeCraft vendor spotlights: Drew Devereux, CNOC Outdoors, Sprockettes

Bike Portland - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 14:09

Time for round three of our 2018 BikeCraft vendor mini-profiles thanks to our friend Elly Blue from Microcosm Publishing.

Here are three more of the talented folks and interesting products you’ll find at this year’s event…

Drew Devereux – website

Last year’s BikeCraft featured a serious gap in the vendor lineup: We had no cycling cap maker! And for a while it looked like we wouldn’t have anyone this year either. But now, to my relief and delight, you’ll have two cap-makers to choose from, and they’ve coordinated with each other to provide the best selection possible for y’all. One of them is first-time vendor and self-taught cap-maker Drew Devereux.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
Cycling caps! About half of them with cotton from Mill End in Milwaukee,; with the rest with Pendleton wool from their scrap bin. One size fits most (55 to 60cm), although the fit varies a bit since they are all handmade. They are all based on a Columbus 3 panel cycling cap I have had for 25 years. Besides being a place for advertisement or decoration, cycling caps work great for keeping the hair in place, blocking oncoming headlamps or the sun’s glare, and—when pulled down towards the nose—taking a nap. They fit under helmets, and can help keep rain off of glasses.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
I started making caps out of necessity because it was hard to find a cycling cap that fit me. I reverse engineered my old Columbus cap and set about to make a new one based on its pattern. Making them was a lot harder than I thought it would be! I tried different materials and sewing strategies over the years. Some were given to friends, and with their feedback (and my impressions since I wear one almost all the time), and over a decade of intermittent experimenting, it evolved into how I make them today. While the caps I made have been mostly for personal use, I think they are good enough now to put out there at BikeCraft, so I am making a big batch of them.

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
I have been to 3 of of them and it always felt like going to a party as much as a place to buy cool bikey things.

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CNOC Outdoors – website

When we put out the call for vendors, my college classmate Lauren Hudgins asked if the company she works for would be a good fit. We like to have at least one gadget to show off at the event that isn’t strictly handmade, and she got this year’s slot. Cnoc’s portable water bags that fit many filters seem like a lightweight boon for bikepackers and tourers—come check one out.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
We’re bringing Vectos [ https://cnocoutdoors.com/products/vecto-2l-container-28-mm-orange ]: foldable water containers designed in Portland that connect to Sawyer filters, or a HydroBlu Versa Flow, or a LifeStraw Flex. We’ll also have gravity filtering systems that come with a HydroBlu Versa Flow. When you’re bike packing or bike touring being able to produce safe water from whatever sources are available can be critical.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
Gilad Nachmani began Cnoc Outdoors a couple years ago as a way to produce the hiking gear he needed but couldn’t find on the market. I’m coming in as a cyclist who has done a lot of bike camping and sees the benefit of the Vecto for bike packing or bike touring.

The Sprockettes – website

Portland’s original all-women mini-bike dance troupe hardly needs an introduction in these pages. We asked the Sprockettes to be a part of BikeCraft this year not as performers but in their community engagement role: They’ll be running a helmet decorating station for kids (of all ages!), as well as slinging their own merch.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
We are bringing handmade Sprockettes merchandise including jewelry, patches, magnets, and all kinds of crafty materials for a bike helmet decoration station.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
The Sprockettes are a DIY Mini Bike Dance Team, it only seemed natural to make our own bikey merch. As performers, we incorporate BMX bikes in choreography by exploring their uses as dance partner and prop. Since founding The Sprockettes in 2004, we have seen more than 40 member Agents grace the performance stage and add to the bike dance creativity. For nearly 10 of those years we have been hosting a Girls’ Summer Camp, where we train little Spockettes in acro-balancing, bike tricks, and dance, culminating in a performance at the end of a 2 day camp. It is so amazing to see our little Sprockettes gain confidence with their bikes! As part of performance preparation we spend time decorating our bikes, and for BikeCraft, we will host helmet decoration!

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
We are super excited to see the bike helmet creations of participants! We also want to help teach best bike helmet wearing practices to all sizes of bikers.

Learn more about BikeCraft at the official website.

— Elly Blue/Microcosm Publishing

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Riverfront stadium proposal raises questions about transportation access

Bike Portland - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 12:20

Portland Diamond Project used this as their lead image and titled it on their website as “Bike Tailgating.”

In Portland you can’t even propose a Major League Baseball stadium without putting bikes front and center.

Yesterday a consortium of financiers, celebrities, and fans made a big splash with an announcement about a potential location and a series of renderings of what the 32,000 seat stadium might look like.

“We absolutely do take transportation seriously. We expect a lot to be invested in infrastructure.”
— John McIsaac, Portland Diamond Project

The Portland Diamond Project says they’ve inked an agreement with the Port of Portland to develop a stadium on Terminal 2, a 50-acre parcel of industrial land along the Willamette River in northwest Portland about one mile north of the Fremont Bridge.

Along with announcement the group released several renderings of the stadium. The main image, titled “Bike Tailgating,” features over a dozen bicycles prominently parked in the foreground.

This has us wondering: If this project moves forward (a big if, given the billions it would cost to build the stadium and buy an MLB franchise), how would people get to the games?

T2 on Google Maps. That’s the Fremont Bridge in lower right.

As it sits right now, the T2 site is basically a transportation desert. Unless you’re in a car. It’s served by just one infrequent TriMet bus line (16) and it’s over a mile away from a Portland Streetcar stop. Even with their planned northwest expansion a stop would still be about a half-mile away. Light rail is much too far away at about 1.5 miles and a MAX expansion in this area isn’t even on the table.

And who knows, maybe the nascent Frog Ferry would add a stop at the stadium.

As for bikes, some of the parcel is actually inside the current Biketown bike share service area. But the wide roads around T2 would be frightening for the average bicycle user to ride on. In April 2016 during our NW Portland Week, I shared two posts that offer an in-depth look at cycling in the area. To recap: There’s tons of cycling potential on NW Front Avenue. We could use the 80-90 foot wide cross-sections to build physically protected bike lanes and make a direct connection to downtown.

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Terminal 2.
(Photo: Port of Portland)

NW Front Avenue outside T2 near 26th Avenue.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Diamond Project rendering of riverfront plans.

There are already positive signs for Front Avenue. In May we reported that a developer paid out-of-pocket for a Biketown station for an office property on NW 17th (the T2 site is further north at around 26th). That same developer also chipped in over $1 million to help the Bureau of Transportation build street upgrades that include protected bike lanes.

If this stadium is ever built, there’s also a question of how it would impact the Willamette Greenway Trail. Developers would be on the hook to create public riverfront access; but how and if cycling is integrated into it would be a big question mark.

Given the growth trajectory of the NW Front Avenue corridor, it’s safe to say street updates and bikeways will be built by the time any new stadium becomes a reality. Years down the road, it’s also reasonable to assume TriMet will have better bus service here as well.

But would taxpayers be on the hook for getting baseball fans to a privately-owned stadium? Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he won’t support public subsidy for this project; but he might not be in office by the time this issue boils over.

For their part, Portland Diamond Project spokesperson John McIsaac told me this morning, “We absolutely must take transportation seriously, and we absolutely do.”

However, at this stage in the game, it’s clear they’ve focused all their efforts in politics and fundraising. Asked if they’d talked to PBOT yet, McIsaac said they planned to do so today. The Oregonian reported yesterday that they haven’t yet talked to TriMet about the T2 site.

Asked if they were prepared to spend on transportation, McIsaac shared with me via email that, “We expect a lot to be invested in infrastructure.”

UPDATE: Don’t miss this article in The Oregonian that proposes five different locations that would make much more sense from a transportation perspective.

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

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Jobs of the Week: City of Portland BPS, RecumbentPDX

Bike Portland - Fri, 11/30/2018 - 10:12

We had two job listings posted this week. Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Director of Bureau Planning and Sustainability – City of Portland

–> Mechanic Part or Full Time Seasonal – RecumbentPDX

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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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PBOT has a new strategy to tame east Portland’s deadly arterials

Bike Portland - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 16:30

PBOT shared this concept of 122nd Avenue at a recent open house.

A new program from the Portland Bureau of Transportation has quietly emerged as the agency’s latest attempt to make progress on our deadliest streets.

I stumbled across the East Portland Arterial Streets Strategy (EPASS) while on PBOT’s website a few weeks ago and have now learned a bit more about what we can expect from it.

Streets in this map are part of the program. (Map: PBOT)

Here’s the background: PBOT has significant plans and funding ($255 million allocated to the East Portland in Motion plan) devoted to taming east Portland arterials. But progress is painfully slow. 15 of the 32 people who’ve died in traffic crashes so far this year were using streets east of 82nd Avenue.

In an effort to consolidate and hasten the 15 projects currently in progress or in the pipeline — and do a better job communicating changes to residents and business owners — PBOT says they plan to develop a concept design for every city street with four or more lanes east of 82nd Avenue. The designs will answer questions about how many driving lanes a street should have, what type of bike lanes, transit lanes, and medians are appropriate, how best to manage curb cuts, turning movements, and so on. The designs will be based on community input, safety analysis and traffic modeling.

According to PBOT, they created EPASS to answer concerns they’ve heard from east Portland residents about how planned projects will impact surrounding streets. Fears that road diets will lead to more cut-through traffic in neighborhoods is a very common concern. Asked about the impetus for EPASS, a PBOT spokesperson told us, “If we’re reducing lanes on multiple streets in the same area, can we do that without delay and diversion onto other streets that would impact the community?”

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Graphic from PBOT’s EPASS website.

One of PBOT’s challenges in their work east of 82nd is that they’re re-allocating road space on arterials and simultaneously trying to develop “low-stress, family-friendly” neighborhood greenways that meet their standards for auto traffic volumes.

This is also a public relations move that will aid PBOT’s communications strategy. The agency says they want to take a, “more holistic look at the package of projects coming to east Portland and provide the community with a more comprehensive picture of the improvements and impacts coming their way.”

PBOT plans to identify a few new projects that could be eligible for future funding. Road segments they plan to address for the first time through EPASS include: SE Foster from 101st to 122nd; NE Glisan between 82nd and 102nd; and NE Sandy from 82nd to I-205.

EPASS is not to be confused with PBOT’s existing High Crash Network program, which doesn’t get into detailed cross-section designs. PBOT says we should think of EPASS as being similar to a technical design guide focused specifically on streets with four or more lanes.

The effort will be carried out by Portland-based consulting firm HDR Inc. (working with city staff) via $265,000 in PBOT general operating funds.

If you’d like to learn more, check out the official website. You can also meet EPASS Project Manager Steve Szigethy at the December 12th meeting of the East Portland Land Use and Transportation Committee.

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

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Tern is Making Bikes for Business

Bike Hugger - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 15:33

Tern just announced Bikes For Business. The program aims to help organizations integrate bicycles into their business operations.

Encouraging independent bicycle dealers, the program provides the materials needed to pitch the benefits of cargo bikes.

It sounds great.

Tern launched the program with a promo video. Similarly,  when I had a GSD demo in, I used it to zip around taking photos on assignment for Digital Photo Pro.

GSD for Business Details

Firstly, the program centers around the Tern GSD, a compact utility ebike that helps small businesses carry more and do more. Second, the GSD will carry bout 378 lbs. and stores small enough that a small fleet can fit into a van or food truck.

The flexible GSD adjusts to fit a wide range of riders and doesn’t require any insurance or license to operate. Avoiding traffic, the GSD will deliver faster and lower keeping costs.

Most noteworthy, the #BikesForBusiness program includes:

  • Pitch decks
  • Sample service/warranty contracts
  • Fleet management software and locking hardware.
  • GSD Customization options
  • Commercial accessory options

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With goal of less driving, Portland unveils 20 ‘Northwest in Motion’ projects

Bike Portland - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 14:23

Old, exposed rails on NW 15th Avenue are just one of many barriers to biking in northwest PBOT wants to remove.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has released a list of 20 projects they’d like to build in northwest Portland and now it’s your turn to visit the online open house and give them feedback.

The list emerged from PBOT’s Northwest in Motion (NWIM) planning process that we first profiled back in May. The 20 projects include 10 neighborhood greenways, seven “corridor safety” projects, and three transit line improvements (view interactive project map below the jump). Similar to their approach with Central City in Motion (which passed City Council earlier this month) and Southwest in Motion (which has an open house tonight), PBOT says the aim of this process is to identify and develop projects they can fund and build in the next five years.

Below are two PBOT maps. The first one shows existing and funded bikeways in the NWIM project area. The second one shows all the proposed NWIM projects (“CS” is corridor safety, “TI” is transit improvement, and “NG” is neighborhood greenway):

Once the project list is finalized, it will be easier for PBOT to funnel parking revenue and other funding sources to them.

In addition to the project list, PBOT is also using this opportunity to change the roadway classification of some streets. Classifications are important planning designations that often dictate what types of treatments PBOT can use. PBOT has three main cycling designations that make up what they call a “functional hierarchy of bikeway routes”: Local Service Bikeways (for circulation within a neighborhood), City Bikeways (principal routes), and Major City Bikeways (the “backbone” of our bike network).

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*Interactive map of NWIM projects.

In NWIM, PBOT is proposing to downgrade Overton, Thurman and Raleigh from City Bikeways to Local Service Bikeways. This change would come with a promise to upgrade Savier and Pettygrove into modern neighborhood greenways. On NW Savier for instance, the proposal is to add speed bumps and sharrows, turn stop signs, and install bikeway signage between 14th to 29th. Other updates include addition of auto traffic diverters, removal of old railroad rails in the pavement on NW 15th, and other changes. Once implemented, PBOT would remove sharrows on Raleigh which is one block south. A similar swap of upgrades and subsequent removal of sharrows would happen on Pettygrove and Overton.

Another key project would be an update to NW Johnson, a crucial east-west connection through this part of the city. PBOT wants to add all the greenway trimmings to Johnson between 9th and 24th and repave the bumpy spots.

A completely new neighborhood greenway is proposed for NW 22nd. It would create a bike street between NW Savier and SW Salmon that would include a safe crossing of Burnside via SW King Ave.

As we discovered during our NW Portland Week, given its density and street grid NW Portland has vast potential for biking. Currently just eight percent of residents ride to work and 44 percent drive alone — despite the fact that PBOT estimates show 37 percent of all auto trips in northwest are less than three miles.

If you live, work, or play in this area, please visit the online open house and help PBOT prioritize investments and make these projects better. The open house will be available through December 13th.

The project list is expected to be finalized by early 2019 and an investment strategy should be passed by city council by this coming spring.

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

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2018’s one millionth Fremont Bridge bike trip is about to cross, smashing the record

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 13:36

Whoever bikes across the Fremont Bridge as number 1,582 today will tip the 2018 bike counter into seven digits, clobbering all previous records by a wide margin.

Bike trips across the iconic bridge, which forms a pinch point for many north and northwest Seattle regional bike routes, have been smashing monthly bike records ever since bike share companies launched in summer 2017. But the counts really started taking off in 2018, when the number of bikes in service ramped up to nearly 10,000 across Lime, Spin and ofo. And the biggest increases were in winter and spring, with the first five months of the year each increasing by an astounding 17 to 32 percent (though winter 2017 was extremely rainy).

Good work, everyone! Somebody should probably throw a party, because it feels like it has been too long since we had a good bike celebration in this town. One million bike trips across a single bridge is an awesome accomplishment, and we still have all of December to run up the score. You all contributed to this one bike ride at a time.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to do. The city needs to get back on track because 2018 successes came from 2017 work. And due in large part to a leadership vacuum that Mayor Jenny Durkan has created at SDOT, Seattle has done very little in 2018 to ensure an equally exciting 2019. 

Spin and ofo left town in July as the 2017 bike share pilot ended, and Seattle then delayed its rollout of the new bike share permit. Perhaps partly due to this permit delay (though also due to wildfire smoke), August and September were the only months that did not see significant growth over 2017.

Bike share works. And especially as downtown Seattle heads into a tough couple years where we really need a lot more people to find alternatives to driving, the city should be doing everything it can to encourage and grow these systems.

It’s very disappointing to see that Seattle leaders already squandered half the summer by delaying the new permit rollout until November. Though Mayor Jenny Durkan has been talking a lot about the coming traffic crunch recently, she has not prioritized bike share expansion or experimentation with non-bike options like scooters. We can see bike share working in these bike counts, so why is the mayor not working to get all the non-car trips we can out of these services? It’s not about money because these companies pay their own way.

It feels like the mayor is on the verge of clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. Bike share and downtown bike lanes were all set to grow together, allowing more people to make more trips comfortably by bike. This combo is the magic sauce for increasing bike trips. But Mayor Durkan stepped in and delayed both of these just when we need them most.

But now the bike share permit is out, and JUMP has joined Lime with Lyft Bikes also set to join at some point. And the City Council has all but directed SDOT to build a serious number of downtown bike lanes by the end of next year in an effort to catch up with the backlog created by inaction and indecision on the mayor’s part this year (SDOT still does not have a permanent Director one year after Scott Kubly left). With strong leadership, 2019 could be an amazing year for biking in Seattle, and the bike trip counts will continue upward.

New sculpture in downtown Portland will celebrate Oregon’s ‘Bike Bill’

Bike Portland - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 11:20

The silhouette comes into focus as you shift views.
(Drawings by PSU School of Architecture)

50 years after a Portland State University professor helped spark a statewide cycling movement, a new sculpture will be erected to celebrate his work.

“This artwork will create a place for the people and the policies that allow Oregonians to go by bike across our beautiful state.”
— Oregon Environmental Council

In 1971 the Oregon State Legislature passed a bill mandating a minimum of 1 percent of state highway project funds be used for cycling and walking infrastructure. The “Bike Bill” (ORS 366.541) as it became known, was signed on the capitol steps from the seat of a bicycle by then Governor Tom McCall.

In 1995, the Bike Bill was used by The Street Trust (then the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) in their successful lawsuit against the the City of Portland, and it remains an important tool that helps us hold the Oregon Department of Transportation accountable for building a system that serves more than just automobile users.

A PSU professor named Sam Oakland was the bike advocate who persuaded lawmakers to pass it. He was an outspoken critic of the automobile onslaught, founder of Portland’s Bike Lobby group and the first chair of the City of Portland’s Bicycle Path Task Force — the committee that developed our first bicycle plan in 1973. (Oakland passed away at the age of 80 back in 2014.)

Now Oakland’s work will be remembered with a piece of public art to be dedicated later this winter.

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Sam Oakland in 2001 when he received a lifetime achievement award from The Street Trust.
(Photo: The Street Trust)

The Oregon Environmental Council is behind the project. It’s one of three such “Art of Loving Oregon” projects they’ve undertaken to commemorate their 50th anniversary. The other two are the “Bottle Bill” that spurred recycling and the Oregon law that laid the foundation for our state’s anti-sprawl and farmland preservation regulations.

Dubbed, “Anthropocene” (a term for our current geological age that’s defined by human impacts) the six-and-a-half foot tall sculpture created by PSU School of Architecture students (overseen by Aaron Whelton) will be erected on the southwest corner of SW 10th and Harrison, just across the street from the Millar Library on the PSU campus.

According to sketches provided to BikePortland, the somewhat abstract sculpture will be just over nine feet long and two feet wide. A series of two-inch diameter pipes separated by half-inch thick steel plates will create an outline of a bicycle and its rider in motion.

Here’s how OEC’s Kevin Kasowski describes it:

“The idea is a bit hard to capture in one image… it is designed so that from most perspectives, it looks like a random collection of pipes but when you stand at a side view the silhouette of the biker and bike emerges.”

A statement from the OEC says the installation will, “create a place for the people and the policies that allow Oregonians to go by bike across our beautiful state.”

Stay tuned for details on the dedication ceremony event and photos after it’s installed.

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

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Biking Across Kansas announces 2019 tour route

Biking Bis - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 10:58

Breaking with tradition, the folks who run Biking Across Kansas — aka BAK — have announced the dates and route of the 2019 across-state bike tour before Christmas this year.

The 2019 west-to-east route runs from Goodland to Atchison from June 8-15. The ride offers the ability to extend the route a few miles to …

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After mediation fails, 35th Ave NE bike lanes head to Mayor Durkan’s desk

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 14:28

Comparison of the options for 35th Ave NE, from Safe 35th Ave NE.

Remember the $10,000 of bicycle safety funds Councilmember Rob Johnson and Mayor Jenny Durkan spent on a confidential mediation effort to see if there was any way for bike lane opponents and supporters to agree on a plan for the street? That didn’t really work.

The result of those meetings is a new street design option that would remove the bike lanes from the street. But it would also remove the on-street car parking that bike lane opponents have been saying they want to protect. Instead, there would be a new center turn lane. The decision is in Mayor Durkan’s hands now.

“The Mayor’s Office will make a final decision on 35th Avenue NE’s new street configuration by the end of the year – choosing between the current “contracted design” and a new “alternative” that closely resembles a suggestion made by Save35th leadership last fall,” the pro-bike lane group Safe 35th Ave NE wrote in an update to their online petition. “We hold firm that the contracted design already represents a compromise, and that the alternative would  be less safe, and would not serve the needs of the community.”

Let’s get one thing perfectly straight: Removing an already designed and contracted plan for bike lanes that were designed in accordance with Seattle’s unanimously-approved Bicycle Master Plan is not a compromise just because they are also removing parking. Without bike lanes, people biking on 35th will be less safe, and the city will be less able to meet its biking goals.

Mayor Durkan should reject this new design option and stick with the contracted design that meets our city’s established and Council-approved transportation policies.

The talks did come up with some points of agreement. Crosswalks should be improved, for example. Everyone agrees about that. And there may be a couple intersections where left turn signals should be separate from through traffic.

But the central disagreement remains quite simple: Some people don’t want there to be bike lanes, and some people do. And the people who want the bike lanes have the backing of years of Council-approved city transportation policy and an already-signed construction contract on their side.

“All users of 35th, including the people who ride bikes – or want to – should be able to safely get to businesses and residences,” the Safe 35th group wrote. “Bike lanes also provide an additional level of safety and comfort for pedestrians that would not be delivered by the ‘alternative.'”

Mayor Durkan should back up her city’s policies here, citing the goals of Bicycle Master Plan as her justification: Ridership, safety, connectivity, equity and livability.

Page 8 of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan (PDF).

No More Freeways coalition requests more time for feedback on environmental impacts of I-5 expansion

Bike Portland - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 12:43

The proposed elements of the I-5 Rose Quarter project. Yellow lines are new freeway lanes.

A coalition with concerns over the State of Oregon’s planned $450 million expansion of Interstate 5 through Portland’s Rose Quarter have requested more time to consider the project’s environmental impacts.

“We believe that the proposed thirty day public comment period is inadequate for us to meaningfully review the disclosed materials.”
– No More Freeways coalition

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) expects to release the findings of their federally-mandated Environmental Assessment (EA) of the I-5 Rose Quarter project in January. That document typically comes with a 30-day public comment period. The No More Freeways coalition — a grassroots group fighting the project — sent a letter (below) to ODOT this morning requesting an additional 60 days.

The letter, signed by 31 representatives from social justice, public health, environmental, and transportation advocacy groups, said 30 days is, “inadequate for us to meaningfully review the disclosed materials, assess the findings about air quality and congestion, and provide thoughtful feedback about this project’s impacts.” The letter also says given that the comment period will likely overlap with two federal holidays, the comment period could end up resulting in as few as 18 business days to provide feedback.

This isn’t the first time ODOT has heard concerns about this issue.

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112818-60-Day-Extension-Request-Letter

Back in March, ODOT’s decision to conduct only an EA instead of the more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement resulted in a Freedom of Information Act request by a local environmental law firm on behalf of the Audubon Society and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon. ODOT defends their move by saying the EA is the middle of the three National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) reports required for projects like this and that it’s the appropriate tool to use when likely negative impacts can be mitigated. An EIS is only necessary, ODOT contends, when negative impacts can’t be reduced or avoided. (Interestingly, this section of I-5 has never had a full EIS because it was constructed before the NEPA process was created.)

ODOT graphic from project brochure.

Then in July, Metro Councilor Bob Stacey put ODOT on notice when he said their approach to the NEPA process wouldn’t adequately vet community concerns around the project.

Earlier this month, members of the Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Advisory Committee again questioned an ODOT project manager on this issue. BAC Member Sarah Iannorone asked ODOT’s Megan Channell (on hand to share an update on bicycling and walking plans in the project) if she thought 30 days was long enough. “30 days is the standard for a federal project,” Channell replied. When Iannarone followed-up to say Portland should to exceed federal standards, Channel said ODOT would entertain the idea of a longer comment period if a formal request was made.

In addition to a longer comment period, No More Freeways has requested a public open house to be held in the neighborhoods adjacent to the planned project. “We are requesting a 60­-day extension, and an opportunity for community members to deliver oral testimony in a public hearing,” states their letter, “Anything less would represent a failure of civic commitment to democratic principles to allow the community to appropriately understand ODOT’s project in their neighborhood.”

Air quality around Tubman Middle School, which is just yards away from where one of the new freeway lanes will be added, will be one aspect of the EA that will get a lot of attention.

After the comment period on the EA concludes, ODOT plans to begin design of this project in spring 2019.

UPDATE, 11/29: ODOT just sent out an email with more details on the forthcoming EA report.

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

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Activism insight: You don’t need to change the world to make a difference

Bike Portland - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 09:37

There are over 20 yard signs like these on 7th Avenue.
(Photos: Kiel Johnson)

BikePortland supporter and contributor Kiel Johnson (owner of the Go By Bike valet) has been working to create more support for a neighborhood greenway on 7th Avenue as part of PBOT’s Lloyd-to-Woodlawn project. This is his latest post in a series.

You don’t need to change the world to make a difference.

That’s what I’ve learned from these past few months of hunkering down on my advocacy for a NE 7th Avenue neighborhood greenway. If built as proposed, the project would transform 7th — from I-84 to Woodlawn — into a street where safety of all users is the priority.

I feel a little more at home on my street and it is a little better already — even without a greenway.

When we last left off, my wife and I had just finished hosting an ice cream social to talk with our neighbors about the project. We knocked on every door from Thompson to Alberta, talking to anyone who opened the door and trying our hardest to make everyone feel welcome to attend, regardless of their position on the project. Over 50 people showed up.

But I was disappointed. My neighbors who’ve expressed serious concerns about this project to PBOT, didn’t attend. So I went out to have a conversation with them.

I got in touch with Ronnie Herndon, the leader of Albina Head Start who was quoted in a Skanner News article, saying he is, “watching the project like a hawk.” From our meeting I learned that Mr. Herndon is a pretty great guy. His life has been one of fighting for racial and economic justice for our community. Ronnie has a picture of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X shaking hands hanging over his desk.

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We chatted in his office at the Albina Head Start on NE 7th and Fremont for a hour. (My dad had worked in Head Start in Seattle in the 1990s and Ronnie told me they’d probably met at some point.) We found we agreed about everything except this project. At the very end we both explained our position on the greenway. He is concerned that it will be another impediment for people accessing his services. I acknowledge that it will make it harder for people to drive, but in my opinion the tradeoff in safety is worth it. We listened to each other and I left feeling like I had met someone who I would like to aspire to.

Ronnie Herndon
(Photo: Multnomah County)

One thing Ronnie told me was that, when you advocate for something, make the process of advocating help accomplish your goal. With this in mind I began thinking about what to do next.

I want the street I live on to be a place that has identity and is interesting to be on. How could my advocacy help create that?

Seven years ago I made a friend from Couchsurfing who lives in (and is from) Mexico. We see each other a couple times a year and have travelled together in Seattle, San Fransisco, Copenhagen, and Sweden. She is a tactical urbanist in her city of La Paz in Southern Baja. She suggested that I make custom yard signs and decorate them. I went to SCRAP, spent $10 on used yard signs, made some stencils, and spray painted a few signs. I then put a free yard sign pile outside our house and encouraged people to take one. I also encouraged people to customize their sign as well.

All the signs are unique in some way with different characters and colors, which makes for something interesting to look at. In my opinion they help make the street stand out more and help give it some identity. It has also helped to unite the many people who are concerned about the current state of safety on 7th. There are over 20 signs out there today. If you get a chance in the next week come walk up and down NE 7th and experience what it is like and see if you can find all the signs.

I signed up to testify to City Council this morning about the project and deliver the petition that was started by some of my neighbors. If you’d like to help me get it over the 1,000 mark it would be much appreciated!

No matter what Mayor Wheeler and our commissioners say at City Hall today I feel a little more at home on my street and it is a little better already — even without a greenway. And for me, that makes this all worth it. Stay tuned for what comes next.

— Kiel Johnson @go_by_bike on Twitter

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Marine Drive gets buffered bike lanes and new path into Kelley Point Park

Bike Portland - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 07:14

New path funded by a tax on heavy trucks.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The 40-Mile Loop is now slightly larger thanks to a new path near the entrance to Kelley Point Park.

Green line is buffered bike lane, purple is new path. Red line is where there are two curb ramps but (so far) no crossing treatment.

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has striped a buffered bike lane on the north side of N Marine Drive for one-third of a mile between Leadbetter Road and the entrance to the park. They’ve also installed a new ADA curb ramps on both sides of the street to better connect the new path to the existing section of the 40-Mile Loop.

The updates come as part of a paving project funded through PBOT’s Heavy Vehicle Use Tax that was passed in 2016 as part of what’s more commonly known as the Fixing Our Streets program. This is one of three projects on heavy freight corridors funded through that tax this year. Others include paving on Lombard and Going (Interstate to I-5).

The Heavy Vehicle Use Tax was passed by City Council with a promise that it would raise $10 million per year for four years thanks to a 2.8% weight-mile tax. However, The Oregonian reported yesterday that after facing pressure from freight industry representatives, City Council is poised to repeal “pare down” the tax with a new ordinance at their meeting today.

Here’s more from The O:

“Truckers generally view the city tax as cumbersome and unfair, said Jana Jarvis, president of the Oregon Trucking Associations. She said it’s right for Portland to axe the revenue goal because the city will get additional money for transportation from the state owing to an infrastructure bill passed last year.

“Our perspective has been, ‘Let this thing die its death and move on,’” Jarvis said of the city tax.”

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Looking southeast at Marine Drive from the new path.

View north from the end of the 40-Mile Loop path.

Looking northeast at the new curb ramps.

Looking northwest toward the main Kelley Point Park entry from the new buffered bike lane.

Looking west toward the park from the new buffered bike lanes.

PBOT says the tax isn’t bringing in nearly as much as they expected. In order to meet the $10 million revenue target they’d have to raise the tax rate by 60 percent for the final two years. Instead of doing that (and face the ire of freight interests), they want to maintain the existing tax rate and adjust the project list to meet the resulting lower revenue. You can read the ordinance up for debate at today’s Council hearing here.

As for the updates on Marine Drive, we’re very happy to see anything that adds to the 40-Mile Loop; but this is a very small step. Despite the new path, it remains stressful to cross Marine Drive at this location. Truck drivers commonly go around 50 mph (speed limit is 45 mph) here and this crossing is in a curve where visibility is limited. If you choose to ride in the street, the unprotected bike lane (even with the new buffer) doesn’t yield much confidence. We’ve asked PBOT if there are any additional crossing treatments still to come — like a beacon and/or crosswalk striping — but have yet to hear back. (There’s another way to access this park via the path that goes under Marine Drive, but it requires off-road trail riding through an undeveloped (and not secure) part of the park.)

Another thing that concerns me about this new path and crossing is that it’s just a few hundred feet away from the main entrance to the park. This means we must trust car and truck drivers to slow down and scan for other road users at two locations in succession instead of just one.

Large trucks have an immense impact on our road system, both in terms of wear-and-tear and safety. We need to make sure trucking companies are paying their fair share so we can create safer, longer-lasting streets that are welcoming to all users.

UPDATE, 10:11 am: The ordinance to remove the $10 million target language from the existing Heavy Vehicle Use Tax ordinance just passed council 3-1. Eudaly, Saltzman and Wheeler voted in favor. Fritz voted against it on grounds that it would break a promise made to voters who passed it. Saltzman and Wheeler said it was a good compromise. We’ll debate this again in 2020 when the Fixing Our Streets program comes up for renewal and it’s likely this truck use tax will be a big part of the conversation.

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

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Washington state’s 2019 week-long and multi-day bicycle rides

Biking Bis - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 14:56

Washington state’s reputation as a rainy destination is proved false every summer and fall as blue skies greet bicyclists coming to the Evergreen State.

You’ll notice that the week-long and across-state rides below are scheduled during that sunny period.

The Cascade Bicycle Club and Adventure Cycling Association,  both nonprofits, schedule the bulk of the longer …

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The Eastside Rail Corridor needs a new name

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 14:11

It may be the most exciting opportunity for biking and walking (and some transit) in the whole region, but the name “Eastside Rail Corridor” sure sounds boring. It describes what the corridor used to be rather than what it could become.

For years, Seattle Bike Blog has been referring to the whole trail element of the entire corridor by the unofficial name “Eastside Trail.” We have used this name to encompass both county-owned and locally-owned segments and to shorthand the laborious “Eastside Rail Corridor Trail.”

But there may be a better name for this incredible Eastside-spanning trail, utility and transit corridor. And the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Committee wants your ideas. Complete this online survey to throw in your two cents. And, of course, discuss your ideas in the comments below.

If you are really into what this thing is called, the advisory committee is holding a meeting 1 p.m. Thursday at Kirkland City Hall (more details in this PDF).

The Eastside Trail (or whatever it will be called) could be largely open, at least in bikeable hardpack gravel form, by the end of 2021 if all the funding and construction details come together as planned. That’s pretty much light speed for a trail project of this length. But, of course, there are a lot of “ifs.”

In addition to the transportation and recreation opportunities, the project will also rehab and reuse historic and stunning bits of rail infrastructure, such as the Wilburton Trestle in Bellevue.

The Eastside Trail will also connect many Eastside neighborhoods and city centers to light rail, the I-90 Trail, the 520 Trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Cedar River Trail and more. It has the potential to be the more impactful and important regional trail since the Burke-Gilman opened in the 70s.

Front suspension fork recall

Biking Bis - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 14:04

A Swedish front air suspension fork importer is recalling 5,400 forks used on some Specialized-branded Enduro, Stumpjumper, Fuse, and Levo mountain bicycles.

The company, Öhlins Racing AB, reports four injuries, including a broken rib, after the air cartridge abruptly sprung out of the stanchion tube. Mountain bikers who have the forks mounted on their bikes can …

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A fatal crash on North Willamette was fueled by reckless and drunk driving

Bike Portland - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 12:59

Just a few yards beyond this sign is where Calum Breitenberg lost control of his car and killed someone.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Just after 11:00 pm on November 15th, 23-year-old Calum Breitenberg got into his Volvo sedan and drove northwest on Willamette Boulevard toward St. Johns. He had been drinking. A lot.

Red “X” marks where Breitenberg and his car left the roadway and came to a stop.

As he approached North Burr Avenue, witnesses say Breitenberg was in the wrong lane going an estimated 80 mph in the 30 mph zone. As the road curved just after Burr Ave., Breitenberg lost control, swerved into a parked car, then careened up onto the sidewalk before finally coming to a stop near a utility pole at the intersection of Willamette and Buchanan — nearly 300 feet from where he left the roadway.

According to court documents filed by Multnomah County, Breitenberg was going so fast that his car cut down a tree and completely dislodged a 300-pound landscaping boulder.

Jason Barns, 32, was standing somewhere near the sidewalk on that same block. Police say he was looking through for bottles and cans in recycling containers when Breitenberg struck him. Barns died from his injuries at a nearby hospital shortly thereafter.

Breitenberg told a responding officer he’d been drinking with friends and “got smashed.” “I’m too drunk to be driving,” he admitted at the scene.

Breitenberg now faces three charges: Manslaughter in the Second Degree (a Class B felony), Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, and Reckless Driving (both Class A misdemeanors).

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I rode by the scene last week. You could easily see the marks on the sidewalk from Breitenberg’s tires — right behind one of those popular reds signs that read, “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here”.
A stuffed teddy bear wearing a hi-viz safety vest is now draped over the sign. There are flowers too. The bear is holding another sign that’s been written on by Barns’ family and friends.

*Marks in the grass and on the sidewalk show the path of Breitenberg’s tires.

*Two memorials have been erected.

One of them named Justin wrote: “There are no words as can express the sadness and pain in my heart since I learned you were gone. I will always remember you as a fucking awesome person and a loyal friend and you’ll always be alive in my memory.”

Further north at the corner of Buchanan a sign posted on the utility pole reads, “Jason Barns Memorial” and there are candles, flowers, and a painted rock with the date inscribed on it.

Willamette Blvd in this section is a neighborhood collector street that has gotten much busier over the years as more people moved to the St. Johns area for more affordable housing (but still drive to their jobs in other parts of town) and as infill development has taken root. Because there are so few through streets in this part of Portland (the busy state arterial of North Lombard being the other) Willamette Blvd has become a much more important street.

On weekends it seems like there are more people using Willamette outside of a car than inside one.

I’m on Willamette all the time. My daughter goes to school at Roosevelt High, so I drive on it several times a month. And since it’s the gateway to most of my training rides (Forest Park, Kelley Point, West Hills, and beyond), I ride on it several times a week.

The street has changed a lot over the years. It’s much busier with everything: runners, walkers, bikers, and drivers. Updates are desperately needed to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Would a different street design have impacted Breitenberg’s behavior? Would a physically protected curbside lane with concrete curbs or bollards have muted the impact of his recklessness? Given his state of mind, it’s not likely.

Breitenberg entered a not guilty plea this morning and his next court date is January 7th.

Jason Barns was the 32nd person to die in a Portland traffic crash this year and the fifth person in the past month to die while on foot. His family will host a memorial service on December 29th at 1 pm at the Unity of Beaverton Church in Beaverton. Everyone is welcome.

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

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BikeCraft vendor spotlights: BlaqPaks, Bicycle Kitty, Filmed by Bike

Bike Portland - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 11:28

Time for another batch of BikeCraft vendor spotlights. We want to share the excitement of the upcoming event by giving you a taste of what to expect. Thanks to Elly Blue for writing these up and sharing all the images…

Maria Schur — Bicycle Kitty

Maria Schur — a maker, leader, and adventurer — is a true bicycling renaissance woman.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A portable pillow designed for riders by a rider.

Maria Schur of Bicycle Kitty brings together the best of several bicycling worlds. She leads her own on road rides, randonneuring treks, and long gravel tours, throws down with semi-organized bike fun, and can organize a mean alleycat race (and then beat you in it fair and square). And she makes useful, good-looking DIY gear that you know has been well road-tested.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
The Bicycle Kitty booth will be selling handmade Bumease Messenger butt pillows. These pillows come in several sizes and are vinyl on one side and fabric on the other. They are ideal to take along on rides so you have a warm, dry place to sit instead of sitting right on the ground. Perfect for Pedalpalooza, bike tours, bikepacking, day rides, TNR and urban rides. New this year, some pillows will have reflective strips and some will have straps so they can be mounted to a bike or rack. $25 each.

Tell us about yourself—what events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
When I was a bike messenger, I often found myself in odd parts of town on standby. I could get a call from my dispatcher in 5 minutes or in 50 and had to just wait around. It wasn’t feasible (or affordable) to go into a cafe every time, and the main hang out in San Francisco was a place called “the wall”, featuring a big cold stone wall to sit on. So, I invented the Bumease bike messenger pillow. At first, I took flack for it: “real messengers don’t need pillows,” but soon folks started requesting them and finally they were standard equipment for all messengers!

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
Dancing the “runway” at last year’s opening party!

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BlaqPakswebsite

Assorted BlaqPak goodies.
Photo: Gustavo Rodriguez


Photo: Cody Keto

It’s awesome to have BlaqPaks back at BikeCraft this year. An established local bag and bike accessory maker, they have a smart range of products, from artful bags made in collaboration with local artists to aftermarket rain canopies for cargo bikes.

What are you bringing to BikeCraft? What’s the most important thing people should know about it?
We have a bunch of new stuff this year that you haven’t seen in the past from us, including: duffles, wallets, t-shirts, and fabric trays. We are concentrating on lower-priced items so that everyone can afford something. We are also excited to bring some collaborative merchandise with local artists including McMonster, Wokeface, RxSkulls and Voxx Romana.

Tell us about yourself: What events in your life led you to be doing this bikey craft?
BlaqPaks turned 11 this year and we remain committed to serving the cycling community. The primary driving force that led to the creation of our business was to not have to work for anyone and to have an outlet for our creativity. There is almost no greater challenge than building a company from the ground up and making products that you are proud to show off.

What’s your favorite BikeCraft memory?
When we did our first BikeCraft we had just moved to Portland months earlier and were having trouble making ends meet. We had a great weekend and it allowed us to continue doing what we love. Making orders during the holiday season can be stressful at our shop, so it’s always nice to get out and have some in-person time with our fans at events like BikeCraft.

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Filmed by Bike — website

Still from “King of the Mountain,” a film by Orlando von Einsiedel London).

Still from, “The Road Between Us,” a film by Joanne Feinberg and Kathy Roselli Ashland, OR).

The Filmed by Bike fest has become an iconic part of Portland’s bicycle culture landscape. They’ve participated in BikeCraft for many years. This year they stepped up to provide a soundtrack for the weekend and will be curating music for shoppers and vendors to enjoy. Plus they’ll have a popcorn machine and will be selling freshly popped PedalPop popcorn, and showing excerpts from their greatest hits of the last decade.

Founder and head FBB-ist Ayleen Crotty tells us:

“Filmed by Bike is excited to be at BikeCraft once again this year. The winter holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without this awesome opportunity for the bike community to come together and buy from regional makers.

I started Filmed by Bike as a way to merge my loves of bikes, community building and artistic experiences. I love meeting filmmakers from all over the world and getting glimpses at their bike cultures. In addition to our signature film festival in Portland every May, our movie collections travel all over the world to support non-profit organizations and bring people together to celebrate their shared love of bikes.

In our earliest years, nearly all of the films we showed were from regional filmmakers. As we have expanded internationally, we have more global influence. At BikeCraft, we will have a panel of experts available to talk through filmmaking ideas with anyone who has a story to pitch. We would love to see more local film submissions this year. The deadline for entries is 1/20/2019.”

Learn more about BikeCraft at the official website.

— Elly Blue/Microcosm Publishing

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Saddle height hints, ballast before babes, and other tips for settling into family biking

Bike Portland - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 09:05

Me and my boys shortly before I removed the front kid seat and raised my saddle two inches.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

‘Tis the season for giving and receiving new bikes. With that in mind, I want to share a few tips on how to comfortably settle into a new rig.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Some new bikes — especially family bikes, be they regular bikes with attached kid seats or cargo bikes — look big and intimidating compared to your old beloved beater bike you’ve become one with over the decades.

I’ve always felt that when it comes to changing to an entirely new type of bike it takes two weeks to get comfortable and two months to feel like a pro. There are a couple things you can do early on to make things less scary: lower the saddle and practice with ballast.

On most bikes (but not this one), lowering the saddle a little is a good way to adjust.

Lower the saddle
I appreciate that there are people who refuse to compromise on seat height. Not having had a serious cycling background before getting into it with the kids, I’ve always been more concerned about feeling safe than about knee comfort when getting used to new bikes. My cargo bike was a lot heavier with very different weight distribution than my previous bike so I figured until my aging knees started protesting, I’d leave my saddle low.

As it turned out, my knees never complained and I left my saddle two inches lower than it needed to be for two and a half years. I didn’t put it so low that I could put my feet flat on the ground while on the saddle, but low enough that I could easily put the balls of my feet down and not have to slide forward off my saddle each time I stopped. I’m not recommending you leave it low that long, but you’ll be just fine if you do!

My knees probably felt OK because I tended to slide my foot forward on the pedal and push with the middle of my foot. The most efficient way to pedal is to push with the ball of the foot, but sliding one’s foot forward compensates for the lower seat height. In my case on my old green bike it also helped avoid heel strike with my rear passenger’s feet.

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Proper saddle height

The white line shows my safety saddle height. Note the bolt on the seat collar — loosen it to move seat post and saddle up and down.

You can imagine how much I like having my saddle at the proper height these days after five years of a too-low seat. So when you’re ready, here’s how to find the right height on your own. My saddles all have a 5 millimeter bolt holding the seat collar at the base of the seat post, but some use quick release levers or a different size bolt. I start my height estimating by standing next to my bike and putting the saddle at hip height. If you have someone to hold your bike upright while you sit on it, pedal backwards while stationary to see if it feels right. Otherwise, pedal back and forth on the street or in your hallway. You may have to make several adjustments to get to the proper height. You may also realize belatedly you want your saddle higher or lower so keep a multi-tool handy while you’re getting used to the new height.

When your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke your knee should be slightly bent. If your knee locks and/or you need to slide a bit off the side of your saddle, it’s too high. If your knee is very bent, it’s too low. A second way to test your saddle height is to slide your foot forward so your heel is on your pedal and check that in this position your knee locks straight at the bottom of your pedal stroke.

Note: you may want to gradually get to the proper saddle height over the course of a few days. You don’t have to gain the entire two or so inches all at once.

You can test your saddle height with your heel. This saddle can go up a bit.

Ballast before kids

Mounting and dismounting a laden bike will be different than an empty test ride.

While I was still a newbie at biking with babies, I helped other parents get comfortable carrying them. I had moms and dads practice with leggy stuffed animals and bags of rice. Turns out bikes are pretty much the same (and it’s no surprise a lot of people I met in baby-wearing groups also became family bikers). Getting a feel for kid weight on a bike is very useful before putting the actual kids on board. Mounting and dismounting a laden bike will be different than an empty test ride, as will turning and stopping quickly. Fun fact: some bikes handle better with cargo on board — especially some long-johns (aka bakfietsen) that carry cargo and/or kids at the front of the bike

Remove pedals
What’s good for the gosling is good for the goose. I’ve written about removing pedals for kids as a way to get used to the weight of a new pedal bike while using it as a balance bike. There’s no reason that can’t work for acclimating an adult, too. Borrow or buy a $10 pedal wrench and you can take pedals off and put them back on yourself.

Everything in the whole wide world is “righty tighty, lefty loosey” except for your left bike pedal. I remember this by “the right pedal is right (correct) while the left pedal wrong.” Some people memorize that both pedals loosen towards the back of the bike. Pedals that have been on a bike for a very long time might be extremely hard to wrench off. Add a bit of grease when you put them back on so they come off easily in the future.

Have you made any temporary adjustments to get used to a new bike? Are you expecting a new bike to come into your life soon?

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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