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Family Biking: No, you don’t need an e-bike (but you’d love having one)

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 11:50

On a rental e-bike in the summer of 2016.
(Photo: Cory Poole)

Last week’s profile of the carfree Kurten family sparked some great comments about e-bikes. In the near future, I’ll write about various types of e-assists, where to test ride, rent, buy, and have them serviced. But today I’m going to write about the opposite: not having an e-bike.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I got the impression some readers think it’s impossible to be a carfree family without an e-bike and I’d like to counter that it is possible, plus I’m not the only one doing it. However, it’s not for everyone, which is exactly why e-bikes — and e-cargo-bikes in particular — are so amazing for families who want to live car-lite or carfree.

I’m nothing special, but I have spent a decade working towards my current status of being carfree with 150 pounds of kids. Read how I’ve carried my kids by bike for the past 10 years and you’ll see I’ve been biking with my kids since they were tiny and totable. I was able to ever-so-gradually build muscle, confidence, and stubbornness; and the kids were able to grow up learning getting everywhere on bikes is an ordinary thing. Babies and toddlers are so little, light, and portable, and many conveniently grow into kids who will ride their own bikes right around the time they become too hefty to carry easily. Before e-assists were commonly available (I didn’t even know there was such a thing when I upgraded from my regular bike to a cargo bike seven years ago), I followed in the footsteps of the biking families with kids older than mine:

➤ Parent carries kid(s) for as long as possible, weight- and size-wise.
➤ Kid(s) ride their own bike(s) if the roads/distances are kid-friendly enough, or
➤ The family switches to using a tandem bike or two.

In countries where “8-80” bike infrastructure is a reality, tandem bikes aren’t part of the family biking trajectory, but in a pre-e-assist America, they sure were. One thing parents noticed as they graduated from limo driver to bike train leader is that their range drastically decreased, and that is something e-bikes have done away with.

The only time my kids have been up Rocky Butte is the time we rented an e-bike.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

In addition to the years of experience with wee cargo, I’ve always preferred to live hyperlocally and that plays well with not having an e-assist. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest and having kids, I lived in San Diego. I liked how self-contained my neighborhood of Pacific Beach was: I rode my beach cruiser to everything — grocery stores, library, doctor, dentist, beach, bars, friends’ houses — except I drove 10 freeway miles to my two jobs in Sorrento Valley. That love of biking to things close to home was always there and has only grown over time.

Carrying a sick 90-pound kid four miles home from school isn’t my favorite thing to do, but it works!
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

Like Pacific Beach, Portland is well-suited to getting around by bike. We don’t live close-in, the closest we could get was between Woodstock and Mt. Scott, but it’s flat out here! Having moved here from hilly Seattle (also good for biking, but not as good as here), it’s a dream. My children attend neighborhood schools, which last year meant I biked one flat mile there and one flat mile back twice a day to escort them both to the same elementary school, but this year the two-school commute has me biking 20 flattish miles each day. And while they’re at school I mainly work from home, though sometimes from coffee shops, and sometimes out of the house leading bike tours.

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For me, it really comes down to the fact that I don’t have an e-bike because I haven’t replaced a car. Caveat: I’m currently able-bodied and capable of getting around with pedal-power alone, carrying one or two kids on occasion, but I know that won’t always be the case and I fully expect to invest in an e-assisted cargo bike if and when any of the three of us becomes less able-bodied because I don’t ever want to own a car again. But in the meantime, I’ve been able to set myself up with a bike-based life rather than a car-based life. What exactly does this mean? Well:

The bike-based life
➤ Things are not car distance away or timed such that the distance must be traversed at car speed.
➤ Therefore, my backup plan does not need to be a car.
➤ If my bike were to break, or were myself or one of the kids unable to bike, we would not be stuck with our only alternative being a car of some sort (rental, taxi, ride from friend).
➤ Walking and busing are options for all our destinations and our bikes simply make things quicker, easier, and a lot more fun.

Obviously, I’m privileged that I can live such a life. Not everyone can live like this, and not everyone should live like this. I like to think when people see us biking around as a family, whether or not they can see my bike doesn’t have an e-assist (which is never a mystery if I’m on even the smallest incline) a seed is planted and they’ll wonder if they can’t bike or walk more, too.

What are your thoughts on e-bikes? Has your thinking changed over time? I’m relieved that fewer people (though one commenter last week) think of e-bikes as “cheating” these days. Thanks for reading!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if that sounds like fun. 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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New Columbia/Lombard Mobility Plan an opportunity to unlock massive potential

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 10:45

Typical conditions on NE Columbia Blvd are so stressful that bicycle users — if they attempt to ride there at all — often seek refuge on the sidewalk.
(Photo: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has launched the Columbia/Lombard Mobility Corridor Plan.

Plan focus area in grey.
(Graphic: PBOT)

If it succeeds, the plan could hasten development of infrastructure projects that expand biking, walking and transit access to major destinations like the Portland International Airport, Oregon Humane Society, and Cully Park, as well as tens of thousands of industrial, middle-wage jobs in the corridor. The outcome of the plan will be to create a prioritized list of projects for future funding and develop a safety strategy.

Currently, NE Columbia Blvd and NE Lombard St between I-5 and I-205 are wide, dangerous, high-speed, arterials. They are incomplete, outdated streets that serve only people using cars and trucks. With better transit service, protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and other updates, Portland could unlock massive benefits that will help us reach our safety, public health, transportation, equity, economic development and climate change goals.

According to the plan’s website, over the next 18 months PBOT and an advisory committee will, “Identify, develop, and prioritize improvements that would make multimodal transportation and freight movement safer and more efficient along the corridor.” Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan has already identified this area as a “mobility corridor,” which is supposed to “function well for all modes of transportation”. If you’ve ever tried to bike or walk in this area, you know we are nowhere close to meeting that standard.

When a group of riders tried to cross Columbia during a ride this past summer, a truck driver roared up behind and honked his horn menacingly as if they didn’t belong there.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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The good news is PBOT seems to already have a solid handle of the problems that currently exist. Here’s what they’ve listed on the plan website:

A lack of separation between modes, outdated roadway designs, and sub-standard infrastructure have led to major safety issues on both Columbia and Lombard. Both streets are on the designated Vision Zero High Crash Network because of high crash rates, especially those involving motor vehicles.

The pedestrian and bicycle networks have major gaps and deficiencies and transit service is currently very limited, which means most commuters or visitors are reliant on personal vehicles that add to traffic congestion and increase cost of living.

Residents of nearby neighborhoods in Northeast Portland have difficulty accessing jobs, parks, and services in the area due to widely spaced and difficult connections across the corridor.

Proposed TriMet bus service on Columbia Blvd would be difficult to access because the street currently lacks adequate pedestrian facilities, crossings, and connections to employers.

At-grade railroad crossings, sub-standard over-crossings, missing connections and signals, and traffic bottlenecks have led to growing concerns about freight mobility and access in the corridor.

The lack of traffic management systems means that freight operators and personal drivers alike do not have adequate information to respond to congestion issues and choose the most optimal routes.

The corridor does not currently have a clear system of mode-specific treatments that would prioritize freight and transit over single-occupancy vehicles.

While the dire need for safe active transportation infrastructure is obvious, this plan will also be pulled in the direction of improving freight movement. The Columbia Corridor Association (CCA), a 501(c)6 nonprofit business association, is a major power-broker that will be paying very close attention to the outcomes. This plan is a good chance for us to show it’s possible for freight and active transportation to co-exist — and even flourish — together.

The CCA’s boundary includes what they claim to be 2,500 businesses and 65,000 jobs. With around 40 percent of those employees living five miles or less from their jobs, there’s massive potential to reduce single-occupancy driving.

During our “Gap Week” coverage in 2016 we identified several gaps in this area and reported how, if closed, more people from the Cully area could access jobs, Marine Drive, ride to the Portland Airport, and more. We also lamented the lack of safe bicycle access around Cully Park (which is sandwiched between Lombard and Columbia) when it opened in summer of 2017.

Imagine a bicycle highway on NE Lombard between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and the I-205. Hopefully this planning process won’t be afraid to think outside the box.

For more information, check out the plan on PBOT’s website.

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

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PBOT’s $2.1 million plans to tame dangerous section of N Columbia Blvd

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 13:58

PBOT rendering of new crossing of N Columbia Blvd at Bank, just outside George Middle School.

Prior to the start of the school year in 2016, the dangerous section of North Columbia Blvd near George Middle School in St. Johns was on the city’s radar as a “high crash corridor”; but there wasn’t any momentum or urgency to make it safer. That all changed when then 15-year-old Bradley Fortner was hit and seriously injured by a driver while walking to school.

Now, three years later, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has nearly settled a suite of updates that could slow drivers down, limit their turns, and significantly improve safety.

After the collision, we learned locals have been afraid to cross the street in front of their homes for many years. The wide and fast conditions on Columbia Blvd make it a de facto highway that has all but cutoff an entire residential area from schools, restaurants and other destinations. Fortner’s collision forced PBOT and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek to take notice.

At Portland City Council this week, PBOT will accept a $1.5 million grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation. The funds will allow PBOT to make final design decisions and build several updates to nearby streets later this year. PBOT has already used $650,000 in System Development Charges to get the project to this point.

Since our last report in February 2018, PBOT has come up with designs based in part on feedback from the community. The project will be a mix of “access management” that will constrain driving movements from adjacent streets, and a new signal and crossing updates on Columbia. PBOT is also studying whether or not to remove or retain the existing overpass that has fallen into disrepair and gets little use.

Below is the official rendering of the access management elements of the project just east of George Middle School.

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And here’s what PBOT says about it:

“Due to concerns from the community, PBOT is recommending the installation of two access management islands on Columbia Blvd at Midway and Oregonian. Almost half of the traffic from Columbia turns left on the local neighborhood street, Midway St. By eliminating the left turn access from Columbia to Midway and Oregonian, we will be forcing traffic to use the existing traffic signal at Macrum. By installing these two islands we also understand that we will need to modify the timing on the existing signal at Macrum.”

The main piece of the project will be another set of medians and a full traffic signal at or near the intersection of Columbia and N Bank Street. PBOT has drawn-up two options and they’re asking for community feedback before making a final decision.

Here’s Option A:

And here’s Option B:

Winton Sandino is the PBOT project manager. If you have specific feedback about the proposals, email him at winston.sandino@portlandoregon.gov.

According to a city spokesperson, PBOT is still doing some outreach and a final decision about the design should happen in the “next month or so.” Construction is scheduled to begin in fall of this year.

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

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Stoked Spoke 2019 kicks off Wed. with ‘Women, Trans and Femme Riders in Early Cycling History’

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 12:18

Seattle’s annual bicycle adventure presentation series Stoked Spoke kicks off 2019 Wednesday with a unique look back at the early days of American cycling by Tessa Hulls.

Swift Industries (a SBB sponsor) is once again hosting the series at the Rhino Room on Capitol Hill. You can catch the first event of the season Wednesday. Doors at 6:30, show at 7. The venue is 21+.

Hulls is not just a storied bicycle adventurer herself, she has also become a historian focused on early women, trans and femme bike riders. As she told the Stranger in a recent interview, she got tired of people telling her women can’t go on long bike trips alone, so she dove into history and found women who have been doing so ever since bicycling arrived to this country.

“We’re kicking off the 2019 Stoked Spoke Season with something a little different, and especially powerful,” Swift Industries wrote in a recent blog post. “Please join us for an evening with Tessa Hulls, lifetime creator, seeker and adventurer, as she takes us on an adventure through the history of Women, Trans and Femme vanguards in cycling. Tessa shares her research through a delightfully crafted narrative and artistically dynamic timeline, it’s a real gift for our communities!”

Hulls’ talk is a special first edition of the Stoked Spoke series, which typically features several people sharing their bike adventures, sharing information and answering questions. You can catch the next two evenings in the series February 27 and March 27.

The Monday Roundup: Black Kids on Bikes, Islabikes for older people, ‘surveillance capitalism’ and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 11:08

Here are the most noteworthy things we came across in the past seven days (thanks for all your submissions!)…

Partisan mobility divide: We all know the nation is more divided than ever politically; but did you realize this split might also have a parallel when it comes to how we get around?

Inequality and e-bikes: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is perpetuating a racist and xenophobic system by making some e-bikes legal and others (used by delivery workers) illegal says Dr. Do Jun Lee of IntersectionalRiding.

Profiling: This story about an LAPD unit that disproportionately stopped black drivers is what Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force was afraid of when they opted to not prioritize enforcement.

Black Kids on Bikes: Streetsblog LA has a great story and photos about a group of riders from South Central who took part in the annual MLK Day Parade.

Bikes for older people: Islabikes made a name for its high-quality bikes for kids. Now they’ve launched the “Icon” range which is made specifically for older people. Don’t miss the excellent promo video — it’s a fantastic bit of bicycle marketing.

Portland and “surveillance capitalism”: Late last year Portland City Council voted to allow PBOT to use a new transportation planning data tool that tracks where we go. It’s supposed to protect our privacy, but some experts are skeptical.

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A vision for dedicated lanes: A co-founder of Waze has an interesting idea for how to alleviate traffic jams — and several of his points actually make pretty good sense.

Dangerous by Design: Smart Growth America released their latest report on the amount of walkers killed by motor vehicle users and the findings are not good at all.

Climate change politics: U.S. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — arguably the most influential lawmaker on Capitol Hill right now — warns that “the world will end in 12 years” if we don’t up the urgency around climate change.

E-scooter lawsuit: Something to watch in San Diego: A group of San Diego, California residents with disabilities have sued the city over the proliferation of electric scooter on city sidewalks.

Traffic sucks: As we debate ways to alleviate congestion, here’s a good roundup of research that shows how bad it is for our mental health.

“There are basically no cars”: This article about what happened after the Norwegian city of Oslo removed 700 parking spaces from its downtown core make me want to visit the place very badly.

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

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Police stopped 34 people during a ‘crosswalk enforcement mission’: Here’s what they got cited for

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/25/2019 - 13:29

East Glisan at 134th Place.

The City of Portland recently conducted one of their regularly scheduled “crosswalk enforcement missions” (a.k.a. traffic stings) on Northeast Glisan at 134th Place. Portland Police Bureau officers made about one stop every three minutes during the 90-minute mission and handed out a mix of citations and warnings for everything from careless driving to failure to wear a seatbelt.

These missions aren’t new. We’ve reported on them since 2008 (when a PBOT staffer acting as a decoy was nearly run down). As per usual, PBOT announces the location beforehand (in this case, a daunting section of Glisan that’s slated for safety updates this coming spring) and then issues a follow-up statement about how many stops where made. This time however, they shared a specific list of infractions. The list gives us a tiny window into the rampant abuse of traffic laws that happens all over our city every hour of every day.

On Wednesday, Traffic Division officers made 34 stops, issued 28 citations and gave six warnings (15 of the people stopped opted to take the driver safety education class in lieu of fines). Here’s the breakdown of violations:

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Failure to Stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian: 12 citations and 5 warnings

Failure to Carry proof of insurance: 3 citations

Passing a vehicle stopped for a crosswalk: 1citation

Driving With a Suspended License : 5 citations

Failure to wear a seatbelt: 1 warning

Driving uninsured: 2 citations

Cell phone use: 2 citations

Switched plates: 1 citation

Failure to Register Vehicle: 1 citation

Careless Driving: 1 citation

Keep in mind that the intersection of 134th Place has a marked and signed crossing that includes a median island. Imagine how many people they would have caught if this was held at a completely unmarked crosswalk.

Thankfully PBOT has changes planned for this stretch of Glisan that should improve driver behavior and make it safer to use and cross. Learn more about the upcoming project here.

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

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Bicycle rider injured in right hook collision on SE 7th at Hawthorne

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/25/2019 - 09:57

Scene from the collision.
(Photo: E.S.)

Two people were involved in a collision while using Southeast 7th Avenue around 1:30 pm yesterday. One person was riding a bicycle and the other was driving a car.

The Portland Police Bureau didn’t give us many details; but they’ve confirmed it happened and they say the bicycle rider has non life-threatening injuries. Images and updates posted to Twitter show a bicycle pinned under the right front wheel of a mid-sized Volkswagen SUV. It happened on the southeast corner of Hawthorne and 7th. The auto user was going northbound on 7th and was trying to turn right on Hawthorne. Police and an ambulance responded to the scene. The bicycle rider was conscious before being taken to a local hospital.

Current conditions of SE 7th looking north at Hawthorne with an “X” marking the spot of the collision.

The current cross-section here allows auto users to drive in five lanes (two are for parking their cars). There’s a five-foot wide, unprotected bike lane with green coloring as it approaches the intersection. There’s also a bike box here (it’s unclear whether the collision happened on a green signal or a red signal).

Central City in Motion project #3. This rendering shows 7th one block north of Hawthorne.

Right hooks have plagued Portland for many years. It’s a problem that could be significantly mitigated with more protective space and material between the bike lane and the adjacent lane. And that’s exactly what the Portland Bureau of Transportation has planned for this section of SE 7th. Project #3 of the recently adopted Central City in Motion Plan calls for protected bike lanes on 7th between the Lloyd District and SE Division (at the Orange Line MAX). The project is on the first-phase implementation list that’s scheduled to be built in 1-5 years.

We’ll update this post if/when we get more details from police.

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

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A few images from a week in Baja California Sur

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 13:09

Two-way protected bikeway on Calle Blvd Antonio Mijares in San Jose del Cabo.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I’m just back from my first-ever trip to Baja California Sur. I was not there for work; but I did manage to snap a few photos of people on bikes and various infrastructure and street scenes.

My significant other Juli (the one whose grace and patience has allowed me to work on this blog for the past 13 years) and I split our week between Todos Santos and Los Cabos. The southern tip of Baja is a fantastic place and I highly recommend visiting. I can’t believe I’ve lived half of my life and am just now discovering this part of the world!

Before I jump back into the news and our other offerings, I have a few images that I thought some of you might appreciate…

The shots above are a protected bikeway on Calle Blvd Antonio Mijares, a major thoroughfare in San Jose del Cabo (which, along with Cabo San Lucas, makes up Los Cabos, or “The Capes” in English). I didn’t see too many people using them, but I wasn’t there in the evening when most people are out and about. The on-street version has a similar method of protection — plastic posts and curbs — as the City of Portland has used. It looked similar to Better Naito, but not quite as wide. The off-street version was quite nice. Biking space was visually separated from walking space with green coloring. This bikeway is about 1.75 miles long and connects to many important destinations for tourists and locals alike.

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The scenes above are from Plaza Mijares, the main square in San Jose del Cabo. This place was a big highlight of the trip for me. I can never get enough of large, well-designed and well-used public plazas, no matter what country I’m in. At night, Plaza Mijares comes alive with artists, food vendors and locals. In one of those images you can see a father teaching his young daughter how to ride a bike. There were several couples using the plaza as a roller-skating rink, teens flying around on long skateboards, people practicing traditional dances, and so much more. Great public space is so valuable. I love seeing it used and appreciated by so many different types of people.

While walking around the neighborhoods in San Jose del Cabo I spotted this “Exclusivo” parking spot outside someone’s home. It didn’t look official; but who knows? The person even put the make, model, and license plate number of the car the space is exclusively for.

One thing I noticed throughout Los Cabos was the ample space given to people with disabilities. These spaces on Playa el Chileno (a public beach south of San Jose del Cabo) are for people using mobility devices. They are at the end of a wide and gradual boardwalk. I’ve never seen anything like this on a beach before. Major kudos to the local government for doing this.

Nicely marked spaces for parking bicycles right near the main entrance of Playa el Chileno.

This dude hanging out on Playa los Cerritos (a rustic and relatively undeveloped town near Todos Santos) had it all figured out. He rolled up with his board, chair, tent and all his other trappings strapped to his bike.

These last two are just street scenes from Todos Santos, a cool small town on the west cape that I hope to return to someday. I hear mountain biking in the nearby Sierra de la Laguna mountains is really good.

Thanks for indulging me. I have a bunch of catching up to do. Sorry for the missed emails, events, and stories these past couple days (I did manage to post a few things while away). I’m eager to get back to work!

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

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Commuters take to bikes to avoid “Seattle Squeeze”

Biking Bis - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 11:28

Automatic bicycle counters on the Spokane Street Bridge below the West Seattle Bridge are showing a spike in bike traffic since the closure of the Highway 99 Viaduct last week.

The rate of bicyclists opting for two wheels to get from West Seattle to downtown has jumped to numbers equal to typical spring and fall …

Continue reading

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy launches campaign to build trail from Seattle to DC – UPDATED

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 01/23/2019 - 15:04

Map from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

“The Great American Rail-Trail” could stretch from Seattle to Washington D.C., entirely off-road and with gentle grades. This is the dream the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (“RTC”) announced today, noting that about half the 4,000-mile route is already complete in some form thanks to decades of advocacy work in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Though the organization says it “will take years to complete,” they have spent a year and a half analyzing the possibilities before determining that it is “viable.”

“Analyses that were used to confirm the project’s viability included a thorough assessment of route options using RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of open trails nationwide; analyses of state and local trail plans; and discussions with hundreds of local trail partners and state agencies representing all of the trails along the potential route,” the organization wrote in a press release (posted in full below). A more developed route concept will be announced in the spring.

The Washington State segment would, of course, follow the recently-renamed Palouse-to-Cascades State Park Trail (formerly known as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail or the Iron Horse Trail). So in order for the Great American Rail-Trail to become reality, Washington State has some work to do. The PTC Trail (what are we calling this thing for short?) is fairly high quality from Rattlesnake Lake to the Columbia River, which is the most difficult stretch due to the mountain pass and all the tunnel repairs completed a few years ago. So we’ve already done the hardest part. But the Beverly Bridge across the Columbia River and the long stretch across the state to Tekoa and the Idaho border need a lot of infrastructure work and additional services (like better drinking water access, toilets, etc). You can make the trip today, but it’s pretty rugged and requires some significant detouring.

UPDATE: There is a funding proposal going through the state legislature right now to rehab and reopen the Beverly Bridge, one of the most important gaps in the cross-state trail. The Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition has a more details (PDF) and a call to action if you want to help make it and other improvements happen:

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has proposed $5,575,000 toward the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) in the 2019-2021 State Budget for rehabilitation of this significant structure. Opening the Beverly Bridge for non motorized use enjoys broad public support, including many statewide and national organizations interested
in recreation, historic preservation, and revitalization of rural communities. Rehabilitation of the Beverly Bridge represents a critical investment in Washington State tourism, continuing to enrich the lives of Washingtonians.

In order to connect to Seattle, work is needed to complete and connect the Mountains-to-Sound Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, which connects to the PTC Trail at Rattlesnake Lake. Bellevue has work to do on a couple segments (especially in Eastgate), and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail needs a connection to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail (in my experience, this is the worst gap). And, of course, Seattle still needs to connect the MTS Trail the last little stretch from Beacon Hill to Elliott Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

But all of this is doable. Sure, it’s going to take an enormous amount of organizing and collaboration across a dozen states, DC and probably the Federal government to make it happen. And as Washington Bikes learned from the effort to create USBR 10, organizing will need to happen in communities all along the trail corridor. This is an enormous lift, though this work has the added bonus of spreading the word about bike tourism and bike travel in general.

With regional trail projects like the Eastside Rail Corridor (or whatever we are going to start calling it soon) dramatically expanding the reach of the trail network locally, it’s a pretty cool idea to have a national trail run straight through it all. Maybe then we’ll all just start calling the PTC Trail and MTS Trail the “Great American Trail” instead.

From RTC:

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) today announced its vision for the Great American Rail-Trail, an unprecedented commitment to creating an iconic piece of American infrastructure that will connect nearly 4,000 miles of rail-trail and other multiuse trails from Washington, D.C., to Washington State.

RTC is committing to this project after more than 18 months of analysis and collaboration with local trail partners and state agencies whose work is critical to the success of this significant undertaking. Analyses that were used to confirm the project’s viability included a thorough assessment of route options using RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of open trails nationwide; analyses of state and local trail plans; and discussions with hundreds of local trail partners and state agencies representing all of the trails along the potential route.

“At RTC, we’ve known the potential of a coast-to-coast rail-trail for decades,” said Keith Laughlin, RTC president. “But before we committed to bringing this vision to life, we wanted to be certain it was viable. With open trails comprising more than 50 percent of the potential route, combined with strong local and state enthusiasm, we are now confident that the Great American Rail-Trail can be completed. RTC is ready to lead the effort to connect the trail across communities, counties and state lines to create a seamless off-road biking and walking journey for the country.”

Separated from vehicle traffic, Great American Rail-Trail travelers will be able to experience the diversity of America’s landscape, its people and its places as the route traverses 12 states moving west from its start in Washington, D.C. While the full route for the trail won’t be released until spring 2019, RTC today revealed the 12 gateway trails that make the Great American Rail-Trail possible.

  • Capital Crescent Trail, Washington, D.C., and Maryland: This 11-mile trail—and the Great American Rail-Trail—begins in Georgetown, near the historic landmarks of the nation’s capital.
  • Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Washington, D.C., and Maryland: The nearly 185-mile trail connects Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, featuring canal locks, lock houses, aqueducts and their canal structures.
  • Panhandle Trail, Pennsylvania and West Virginia: The 29-mile trail heads west from the Pittsburgh suburbs into northern West Virginia, serving as a literal gateway between the states.
  • Ohio to Erie Trail, Ohio: The 270-mile trail cuts diagonally across the state, connecting two major waterways, the Ohio River in Cincinnati and Lake Erie in Cleveland.
  • Cardinal Greenway, Indiana: RTC’s 2018 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee stretches northwest for 61-miles through rural Indiana, making it the longest rail-trail in the state.
  • Hennepin Canal Parkway, Illinois: The 100-mile-plus trail parallels the early-20th-century canal and runs west from the Illinois River to the Rock River.
  • Cedar Valley Nature Trail, Iowa: This 52-mile pathway, one of the first rail-trail conversions in the state, follows the Cedar River and connects Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids.
  • Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail, Nebraska: One of the longest rail-trails in the country, this 219-mile trail traverses rural Nebraska, connecting small towns and offering views of the High Plains.
  • Casper Rail Trail, Wyoming: This 6-mile trail is an important connector in one of the largest cities in Wyoming.
  • Headwaters Trail System, Montana: The nearly 12-mile trail connects to Missouri Headwaters State Park, where three rivers meet to form the Missouri River: the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin.
  • Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, Idaho: This nearly 72-mile trail runs through Idaho’s panhandle, delivering breathtaking vistas through the state’s forests.
  • Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, Washington: Another of the nation’s longest rail-trail conversions, this trail spans more than 200 miles across Washington and marks the terminus of the Great American Rail-Trail.

“The Great American Rail-Trail is a bold vision—one that will take years to complete. The investment of time and resources necessary to complete this trail will be returned many times over as it takes its place among the country’s national treasures,” said Laughlin. “As we embark on the journey to complete the Great American Rail-Trail, we embark on the single greatest trail project in the history of the U.S. One that comes with an important legacy of unity, ambition and access to the outdoors for the nation. One that represents an opportunity to do something big for America.”

The Great American Rail-Trail is a signature project of RTC and the most ambitious in its portfolio of TrailNation projects—the organization’s initiative to encourage the rapid replication of regional trail networks across the country. The trail was first envisioned in the late 1980s by RTC co-founder David Burwell, and for decades has been an underpinning of the organization’s strategy to create a nationwide network of public trails.

For more details about the Great American Rail-Trail, visit www.greatamericanrailtrail.org.

Even a skewed Seattle Times poll finds little support for more driving

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 13:52

Demographics from the Elway/Seattle Times survey. These are not representative of King County or Seattle.

You may have seen a headline from the Seattle Times going around this weekend saying that people in Seattle and Kind County don’t like bike lanes. Well, it’s not really as simple as the headline might suggest.

I’ve been thinking about the poll for a couple days now, and we should get one thing out the way: It’s never great to see bike lane support in any context from any sample of the population be below 50 percent. The Elway/Seattle Times poll found 40 percent of respondents in Seattle and 36 percent in King County support more bike lanes. Those aren’t devastating numbers (did anyone think bike lanes were not divisive?), but they sure aren’t great.

So while this post will dive into some serious caveats, let’s be clear that there is still work to do to get more bike lane buy-in from more neighbors of all ages.

But it is important to note that just over half the survey sample came from landline phone calls, and reporter David Gutman notes that 75 percent of respondents were homeowners, a far higher rate than the 57 percent countywide rate. Homeownership and the presence of a landline means these results are going to be quite skewed older and wealthier. Indeed, the majority of respondents were older than 50. A quarter of respondents were 65 or older, but the 2010 Census found that only 11 percent of county residents were in that age bracket. That’s a huge difference that’s going to have a big impact on the results.

Since we already know that bike stuff is less popular among older populations, it’s not surprising to see bike lanes get lower marks in this survey. The Times didn’t release a breakdown by demographic, but I bet bike lanes got less popular with each age bracket increase. Bike advocates and organizers should be looking for ways to make sure they are reaching people of all ages, so that could be a worthy takeaway from this survey.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents made $100,000 or more annually. Renters and young people are dramatically underrepresented here. And though the Times did not publish racial demographics, black homeownership has plummeted in the Seattle region in recent decades.

Elway is a respected survey firm and Gutman is a solid reporter. But getting an accurate poll is very difficult and expensive these days, and it’s especially hard to reach renters. It just is not accurate to present the opinions of older homeowners as though they are the opinions of the general population. A person who rents is just as important as someone who owns a home, so their opinion is also just as important. I mean, one of the ideas that got even lower marks in survey than bike lanes was allowing more apartment buildings that have no car parking. People looking for cheaper rent are going to have a much different opinion about that than homeowners who already have a place to live, so that hardly seems fair.

Gutman notes some of the shortcomings of the sample in the story, but that nuance was lost on the headline writer. And since many people don’t get past the headline, now there are ton of readers who think nobody likes bike lanes. And that is not true.

The context of the survey was also about traffic, and traffic mitigation is only one reason to build bike lanes. In fact, it’s far from the most important reason, which is safety. There are many people who want streets to be safe for everyone, but who don’t necessarily believe that bike lanes are going to improve traffic.

So, once you take in all these caveats, maybe 40 percent isn’t so bad from this survey. Again, people have a lot of work to do to shift our transportation culture and get more people, especially seniors, to see bike lanes as a positive addition. But don’t let the Times headline make you believe this survey shows that bike lanes are unpopular.

To flip all this around the other way, it’s pretty incredible that even a skewed sample finds little support for trying to make it easier to drive. This was a friendly sample for driving, and yet “making it easier to travel by car” got lower marks than bike lanes. Even this sample clearly sees the solution to traffic is to make it easier to get around without a car. Only five percent of Seattle respondents (eight percent in King County) said they blame a lack of investment in roads and highways for the traffic. That feels like a pretty serious culture shift from the highway-building focus of the 20th Century.

River City Bicycles employee dies in kayaking accident

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 07:36

Kevin Neidorf, 1990-2019.
(Photo courtesy River City Bicycles)

Portland’s close-knit community of bicycle lovers is mourning the loss of Kevin Neidorf.

According to the River City Bicycles website, Neidorf’s kayak rolled over in a Class II rapid on Hood River on Saturday and attempts to revive him were not successful. He died at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

Neidorf was 28 years old and worked at River City Bicycles as marketing and creative content director. Here’s more from the shop’s General Manager Hayes Kenny:

All of us at River City Bicycles are reeling from the unexpected loss of our close friend and esteemed coworker Kevin Neidorf… As we endure this hardship together as a community and as the tightly-knit family that is RCB, we strive to focus on the energy, the passion, the bravery, and the love with which Kevin lived his life.

We all know Kevin as an artist; he worked out of our Belmont shop as River City’s creative director, putting out many imaginative and often hilarious advertisements, video projects, photo features, and much of the other media content our brand has produced over the past few years.

We know Kevin as an athlete. He was an impressive rock climber and skilled mountain biker who was always the first to hit the big jumps, one of the fastest riders both uphill and down, a rider committed to pushing the edge of how hard he could ride. He pushed us all to do one more lap, one more rep, one more challenge, because he knew we all have more in us than we sometimes think.

We know Kevin as an adventurer. From his initial cross-country move out to Portland from the East Coast, to solo bike trips across New Zealand and Europe, Kevin always wanted to see what was around the bend and what kind of trouble he could get into once he got there.

Ultimately, we cherish the times we spent with Kevin, and we can take solace in the fact that Kevin built the life he wanted to live, and lived it to the fullest. We miss him immensely, and his loss is a wound that will take a long time to heal. Thank you to everyone who makes this community of ours the amazing social space that it is, and thank you for understanding the challenges we face as we move forward.

Thanks for all the good times, Kevin. We love you.

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Kevin was a talented filmmaker. In 2017 we featured his series of short films based on the Rubber to the Road ride guide. And in 2016, we shared his film about the Hazelnut Grove homeless camp. Kevin also captured the beauty of River City’s Cyclocross Crusade series in many recaps over the years (including the one above from 2016).

One of Kevin’s collaborators, fellow filmmaker Drew Coleman, posted about him on Instagram yesterday: “He was one of the raddest dudes I knew – extremely gifted film maker and mountain biker and climber and kayaker and … you get the picture. Unbelievable athlete, an artist and a wanderer of the earth.”

Rest in Peace Kevin.

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

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Family biking profile: For the Kurtens, the right bikes helped them go carfree

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 06:34

One of the Kurten kids and one of the trusty family vehicles.
(Photos: Jonathan Kurten)

This week we’ll share a profile of the Kurten family.

Portlanders Jonathan and Tracy Kurten have been able to replace tricky transit trips and car trips with joyful bike trips — thanks in part to their useful new bikes.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I’ve been hearing lot of excited buzz in the family biking community about the relatively new Tern Bicycles GSD. They’re one of the few cargo bikes that fits riders short and tall, and they’re very compact. The GSD’s 20-inch wheels give it the same overall length of a regular bike; but it’s long enough to hold two kids in the back. Also, they fold! And they have a zippy mid-drive electric assist which makes them good car-replacements.

Learn more about how these bikes have helped the Kurten family go carfree below…

Tell us about yourself and your family.

We’re Jonathan and Tracy Kurten, our kiddos are Julian and Judah. I moved from South Africa with my family in 2000 at which time we lived in South Dakota. Tracy and I met during high school and moved around the midwest for a few years. After a short time living back in South Africa, we decided to return to the US and intended to relocate to the west coast. We immediately fell in love with the valley and we’ve been living in the area for the last 7 years.

A typical family outing.

Tell me about your bike.

We recently traded in our hybrid bikes for 2 Tern GSDs. The kids still each have a manual bike they ride from time to time, but they much prefer to cruise on the back of the GSDs. One GSD is set up with a clubhouse where both boys can ride and pannier bags for any kind of cargo. The other is equipped with sidekick bars and a seat pad for our older boy, when we’re traveling as a family and split the kids up.

Jonathan’s bike is outfitted to carry both children.

Is there something you wish you had known before you took your first pedal stroke as a family biker that would have made things easier?

We’re pretty lucky in Portland to have a bike shop around every corner. Even so, it’s a true bummer to get a flat in the middle of running errands or heading to an appointment. We’ve learned to keep spare tubes and gear on hand, just in case! This is especially true if your bike has less common sized tires like our bikes do.

Julian and Judah love riding on their parents’ GSDs.

Tell us about a typical trip you take on your bike.

I typically bike to work each day, weather permitting, to my office in Old Town. My route includes crossing the Broadway Bridge. We’re fairly close to the grocery store, meaning we mostly walk there, but typically make a trip with our bikes once a week to load up with larger items. Both of our boys are involved in soccer, which can mean trips to many different parks around Portland. This was a point of headache at times, timing the bus and walk time needed to arrive at the set time. Having our GSDs has allowed us the ability to pack the necessary equipment and kids and travel on our own time schedule, allowing us ease with both timing and effort.

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Tell us about an especially memorable ride in Portland.

We have some family that live in the southern neighborhoods of Portland and have typically only been able to reach them via car or by a long transit trip. Once we had the e-bikes we were able to bike all the way down to them via the Springwater Corridor. We didn’t even know this part of the city existed! We’ve talked at length at how excited we are to discover more nooks and crannies that one can really only discover by bike. Biking in the winter doesn’t always sound appealing, but we happened across many neighborhoods and streets with holiday light displays, which felt much more magical at a bike’s pace, and bundled up.

Tracy’s bike is outfitted to carry one kid, quite comfortably.

If there was one piece of bike infrastructure (street, intersection, bike rack, etc) you use regularly that you could change to improve your life, what would it be?

More protected bike lanes! As a lone rider I typically feel pretty safe, but biking with my kids can be quite the stressful ordeal. The changes made over the last year to Rosa Parks are great. I hope the cities continue to make changes like these, giving cyclist and pedestrians priority over parked vehicles.

Seeing the city in a whole new way thanks to biking.

Have you biked in other cities and how did it compare?

While we’ve always biked in towns and cities where we’ve lived, Portland has been the first city where I’ve felt comfortable enough to go carfree. Transit and micromobility options are vibrant enough here that this is becoming and more and more reachable as a possibility for residents.

What about rain/snow/wind/extreme heat? Do you bike in less-than-ideal conditions?

Rain, yes. Snow, cautiously maybe? Wind, sure. Extreme heat, effortlessly with an e-bike.

What’s your best piece of advice to pass along to BikePortland readers?

Challenge yourself to make biking your primary mode of transportation. You just might find it easier than you thought and you’ll almost certainly find that you start to see your city in a whole new way.

Do you have a social media presence you’d like to share?

Feel free to follow me @JoKurten on Twitter.

Thank you for sharing your story Jonathan and Tracy.

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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3T Exploro Speed

Bike Hugger - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 19:00

Now in its second generation, the Exploro certainly has made its mark on the gravel market. It’s a bike for racers and those wanting to reduce their stable (3 bikes in one). For those who ride in the Pacific Northwest, the Exploro is a choice for the variety of tire sizes. Mark V owns one and has run 32s to 47s on it, including mountain bike tires.

And, everyone that has a gravel bike knows they’re often used on pavement too. The Exploro is fast enough to line up at your local crit. You could even race CX if it wasn’t too muddy and you weren’t worried about carrying it on your hip instead of a shoulder.

Going Slow Faster

Shipping today, the Exploro speed, which as the name implies is more road than dirt. Distinguished by the build kit, what you need to know is all the pieces have come together for 3T and they’re expressing a point of view on the market with complete bikes.

Looking at their current line up, the Exploro Speed is the same flatmount frameset but with roadie-optimized kit.

You should get this bike for the crank. I have the Strada in on demo, with the same build. It’s remarkably advanced for those into going fast on the road.

Even if you’re happy riding 23s and rim brakes, 3T is releasing the most interesting products in road/gravel and this is an important milestone for them.

3T Exploro Speed Specs

You can build the 3T Exploro Speed several ways. I suggest the Torno Team and it costs $5500.

Frame Exploro LTD Frame sizes S-M-L-XL Frame colors Stealth Black Fork 3T FANGO LTD flatmount disk brake w/12mm thru axle Stem Arx II Team Stealth Handlebar Aeronova Team Stealth Headset 2 x 10mm & 2 x 5mm PC headset spacers Shifters SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic DoubleTap Rear Derailleur SRAM Force 1 Type 2.1 Medium Cage Crankset SRAM Quarq Prime Power Ready BB386 w/ 30mm 7050 AL spindle (optional upgrade to 3T Torno LTD) Chainring SRAM Force XSYNC, 46T (3T Torno crank ships with custom 44T chainring) Bottom Bracket Aluminum / Nylon Press fit cups for BB386EVO with 30mm i.d. sealed cartridge bearings Chain SRAM 11-speed XX1 Powerchain® II with PowerLock® connecting linkSRAM 11-speed XX1 Powerchain® II with PowerLock® connecting link Freewheel / Cassette SRAM 11-speed PowerGlide 11-36T Brake Levers SRAM Force CX1 Hydraulic DoubleTap Brakes SRAM Force Flat Mount Hydraulic Disc w/ SRAM CenterlineX 160mm Centerlock rotor Saddle Fizik Antares Versus Wheelset Discus C35 TEAM Stealth (700c) Tires Continental Grand Prix 4000 II S 700x28c

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Adventures in Activism: Time management tips from two busy Portlanders

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 11:30

Catie Gould.

This post is by our activism co-editor Catie Gould, a very busy local transportation activist who has a full-time job on the side.

——

Does the New Year have you hoping to get more done?

Certainly the times demand a lot of us. How on earth can we manage everything — working, doing the laundry, spending time with loved ones — all while finding time to reform our transportation system and combat climate change in a way that doesn’t burn us out?

Often overwhelmed myself, I sought out the advice from two of my Portland heroes. I hope their stories help you stay effective and inspired!

Alison Percifield – Bike Farm (and many other things)

Alison Percifield working at Bike Farm.
(Photos: Catie Gould)

When Alison Percifield moved to Portland from Chicago three years ago her car broke down along the way and she didn’t have money to buy a new one. That’s how she became a bike commuter and found her way to Bike Farm, a nonprofit, all-volunteer collective that teaches people about bicycles. Alison recounted, “I think the best thing I ever did for my life was move to a new city because I didn’t have any friends.” She occupied her time by getting involved with different organizations and meeting people that way. “All these positive life changes happened from me deciding to be super busy.”

“All these positive life changes happened from me deciding to be super busy.”

And she is super busy. When she stepped up as the President of Bike Farm six months ago she didn’t think she would get promoted at work. “I wanted to be a leader somewhere,” she told me. But both happened. She is also starting an internship on the Board of Directors at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) as part of course in managing non-profits and cleans a pilates studio in exchange for a free membership. “I’m doing something every weekday after work that is essentially a job.”

Alison sat down for our interview with a list she had prepared ahead of time. “I’m a huge fan of lists”. She has a notebook that she keeps just for lists and switches between them. “If I’m ever needing a break from something it’s normally with another productive task.”

Removing decision making and relying on a routine helps reduce her stress. She bikes to work every day in her workout clothes and sets her shoes out the night before. She prepares all her food for the week on Sundays while listening to her favorite CD. “Lunch is my big meal of the day so I put a lot of effort into it.” She gets a lot of recipe ideas from the vegan food blog The First Mess.

In addition to volunteering every Wednesday at Bike Farm, she spends another two to three hours a week responding to email and doing paperwork during her breaks throughout the day. On Fridays though, she clocks out. “I feel like delineating between week and weekend, creating that mental break for me is important.”

Alison has two mentors and checks in with them monthly. “It’s important for me to hear how people think I should be pushed forward and what my weaknesses are.” Things she is currently working on: slowing down enough to make sure people don’t feel like an item on her calendar. She also wants to make sure she is bringing people with her as she moves forward. Doing 90% of a task and then handing it off to someone else builds buy-in and makes sure other people can do the work in the future. “I don’t think it will always be like this. I want to live it up while I’m in this time of my life that is super productive, and in five — or one — year from now when I’m not feeling it, I’ll move on to something else.”

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Iain uses the Notes app to organize his posts.

Architect Iain MacKenzie moved to Portland during the depths of the recession in 2009. When new development started coming back he wanted an easier way to keep up with the information. He got the idea for the Next Portland one afternoon at the office. Later that night, it was live. “It was super easy to create, what took a lot of time was keeping it going.”

Iain spends five to ten hours a week reading through material and writing posts for the blog. In the four years he’s worked at it he’s settled into a routine.

“I’ve definitely had people make fun of me because they have caught city council meetings on my screen.”

For the weekly “Metro Reports” post he scans the Portland Bureau of Development Services website every Monday morning for a report that includes everything from simple bathroom remodels to new buildings. “I’m quite good at scanning those now.” He also saves the weekly agenda of the Design Review Commission onto his computer to archive them. Drawings for buildings going through design review are published a week ahead of time, and if he’s pretty sure it’s going to get approved he puts together a post ahead of time.

For Iain, keeping it simple is key. “I’m not trying to argue that this building is great or its terrible or anything. I’m just going to say it’s seven stories tall and it has this many units and this many parking spaces.”

Iain mostly writes in the evenings or on the weekends, but often finishes up a post during his lunch break, hitting publish around 12:45. He gets suggestions from fans about what else he could be doing with the site, but he’s busy enough right now. His general goal is to post five times a week; but the day that we talked he had only finished two.

“Honestly, if I had realized that I was going to be doing this much work for four years at this point, I probably wouldn’t have started it,” he said with a laugh. Iain has no plans on quitting. While other people listen to music or podcasts at work, Iain prefers to listen to design review or land use hearings. “I’ve definitely had people make fun of me because they have caught city council meetings on my screen.”

For others who want to make advocacy a bigger part of their lives, Iain stressed that its about consistently putting effort in every week. “It’s got to be something you care about and find interesting.”

Thank you Alison and Iain for sharing your stories. I hope you are all having a happy, healthy, and productive New Year so far!

— Catie Gould, @Citizen_Cate on Twitter

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TRB Dispatch: Portland’s transit equity research and poster sessions

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 09:15

Just one of the “startlingly democratic” poster sessions.
(Photo: Aaron Brown/BikePortland)

Welcome to the latest dispatch from our Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting Special Correspondent Aaron Brown, who was in D.C. covering the event thanks to sponsorship from the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University (TREC at PSU). See past coverage here. (Note: Views expressed by the author are his own and do not reflect those of TREC at PSU.)

Transit equity

Aaron Golub’s presentation was one of my personal highlights of the conference. I attended a seminar in which Dr. Golub, a Professor of Urban Studies and Planning and the Director of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, shared findings from his ongoing research about the equity implications of TriMet’s shift towards electronic fares. His presentation, “An Equity Assessment of Smart Mobility Systems in Portland, Oregon”, was featured in a session titled, “Taking Off the Rose-Colored Glasses: Equitable Access to 21st-Century Mobility Options”.

Dr. Aaron Golub.
(Photo: PSU)

I wrote a bit in my previous dispatch about the challenges and opportunities that the huge amount of new data in transportation presents to researchers and governing bodies, and Dr. Golub’s research represents yet another important set of questions on how the benefits and burdens of these changes are distributed.

Golub co-authored research with former OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon staffers Vivian Satterfield and Jai Singh that studied how these changes in ticket fares impacted transit-dependent riders. By partnering with OPAL, Golub was able to distribute surveys to low-income, transit dependent riders in east Portland. The findings shed light on the ways in which these riders are — and are not — well-served by the new fare system. The results? Lower income survey respondents were less likely to have access to drivers’ licenses, bank accounts, smart phones, and credit cards. Assumptions that access to these institutions are ubiquitous can make taking transit more difficult and less accessible to the very communities that need it most.

Similarly, many of the wayfinding apps and signs are rarely displayed in languages other than English – this creates significant barriers for many low-income and communities of color. And remember, here in Oregon, non-citizens can’t legally obtain driver’s cards — this only makes it more imperative that Portland’s transit system is easier for immigrants without papers to navigate.

Golub’s findings resonated with me. I was excited to see an institution like PSU deliberately pursue research in partnership with frontline community groups who have the most knowledge and information about their needs. These are the type of collaborations that ensure those that are most likely to fall through the cracks of TriMet’s governance are given a chance to speak up and change policy. It certainly falls within the framework of the PSU motto of, “Let Knowledge Serve the City.”

For more information about Dr. Golub’s findings, check out the slides from a similar presentation Dr. Golub’s gave during a TREC Friday Seminar Series event this past September; you can also watch the presentation online.

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While the cavernous Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosts dozens of sessions, the TRB Conference also provides a unique opportunity to meet directly with academics and students one-on-one during informal “poster sessions.”

Squirreled away in the basement of the adjacent Marriott Hotel, hundreds of researchers cycle through the presentation space every two hours during the conference to put their latest research and findings on display on a poster, and make themselves available to conversation and engagement with whoever chooses to walk by. It’s startlingly democratic (and a little intimidating) to walk down an aisle with dozens of researchers proudly beaming while gesturing to the maps and analyses that prove their findings, and be given the opportunity to ask questions about it.

This woman’s poster was titled, “Less than human? Dehumanization of cyclists predicts self-reported aggressive behavior toward them.”

The poster sessions are typically arranged so that similar research is shown at the same time and at the same location. I never knew there could be so many academics with a particularly niche field of study — asphalt design, LIDAR technology for autonomous vehicles, airline deregulation’s impacts on mid-sized Chinese cities, pedestrian safety — all in one space.

I visited on Wednesday morning to catch the “Bicycle Transportation Research” Poster session, which featured over seventy-eight different studies on bicycles and bicycling. Portland and Oregon-based academics had a strong showing (this is unsurprising in-and-of-itself, but the fact it was held the morning after TREC at PSU’s lively evening reception made it more impressive). Dr. Alex Bigazzi, a former PSU student and current professor with the University of British Columbia, was present to talk about three different posters for different research projects he authored or co-authored (“Utilization of Secure Bicycle Parking Rooms in Multi-Unit Residential Buildings”, “Industry Stakeholder Perspectives on the Adoption of Electric Bicycles in British Columbia”, and “Toward Agent-Based Microsimulation of Cyclist Following Behavior: Estimation of Reward Function Parameters Using Inverse Reinforcement Learning”).

Researchers are finding all sorts of ways to analyze quantitative data to learn more about what makes for great urban bicycle networks, how the introduction of e-bikes changes how people use bikeshare systems, and the extent to which painted and separated bike lanes make people feel safer. If you’re feeling some Monday morning duldrums and looking for an internet wormhole to fall down, check out the long list of abstracts from Wednesday’s sessions.

It’s was also heartening to see numerous scholars from Chinese Universities presenting their research – I think the normative American bike transportation geek (myself included) is wholly undereducated about the massive urbanization underway in China and the number of these cities doing remarkably radical things with bikes, bikeshare systems, and public transit. The growing field of research (and researchers) is good news for all of us who want to learn the best practices for designing cities for bikes from every corner of the world — not just Portland, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

— Aaron Brown, @ambrown on Twitter

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The Monday Roundup: E-bike fire, freeway lids, Whoopi Goldberg, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 08:30

Welcome to Monday.

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the Worst Day of the Year Ride, a classic Portland event with three route choices that happens February 10th.

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

Another front of the war on speed: Streetsblog reports that the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices voted last week to require cities to include “pedestrian and bicycle activity” when setting speed limits (yes it’s sad this is considered a major breakthrough).

E-bike on fire: The battery in an Australian man’s electric-powered road bike caught fire during a ride. The fire also detonated CO2 canisters in his saddle bag.

Put a lid on it: Portland isn’t the only city looking to cap I-5. Seattle’s Lid I-5 campaign is looking for a multi-disciplinary team to figure out the best lid design for over 12 acres of the freeway.

Bikes on transit in DC: The Washington Post says a new policy to allow bicycles on Metro trains has worked out fine so far — despite concerns it would cramp quarters and make riders uncomfortable.

Stop state hate: A California lawmaker is so tired of his state DOT (Caltrans) marginalizing the needs of bicycle riders, transit users, and walkers, that he’s introduced legislation to force their hand.

Commuters are polluters: It’s good to see national political media pointing out that climate change policy must tackle the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions: cars and trucks. Now let’s hope Oregon lawmakers take heed.

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BRT in Africa: Dar es Salaam, the burgeoning capitol city of Tanzania, has tamed its crazy congestion with a simple tool that Portland has yet to fully embrace: Bus Rapid Transit.

Biking and mental health: Urbanism scholar Robin Mazumder wrote on Medium about how riding a bicycle is key to his mental well-being.

The Whoopi Goldberg thing: The actress and talk show host railed against bike lanes in a high-profile debate about transportation policy with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on The View.

Biking “Viadoom”: Seattleites have responded to the shutdown of SR 99 by bicycling a lot more and generally finding other ways to get around. Maybe they don’t need a massive freeway through their city after all?

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

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Matt Garrett has resigned from ODOT

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 15:12

Matt Garrett in 2012.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Huge news from the State of Oregon today: ODOT Director Matt Garrett has resigned.

This is potentially – depending on his replacement – a massive development that could lead to a different culture in the automobile-centric agency.

Garrett was an embattled agency head who had been the subject of severe criticisms from electeds, advocates, and transportation reform leaders.

I’m out of town at the moment and unable to fully analyze and report on this. So for now, here’s the statement from ODOT:

Oregon Transportation Director Matthew Garrett announced today that he will resign as Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on or before June 30, 2019. “I’m eager to take the next few months to explore the opportunity to do something new,” Garrett remarked. “It was important to me to provide enough notice to allow time for a search to identify my replacement and provide a smooth transition to the new Director,” he added.

In his resignation letter to Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney, Garrett noted that he has been at ODOT for 22 years, the last 13 of which he has served as Director. Garrett has led the 4,700 person department under three Governors — Kate Brown, John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski. Garrett is the longest continuously serving department of transportation director in the nation.

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Governor Brown thanked Garrett for his service: “Matt Garrett has driven Oregon forward through his steadfast commitment to improve transportation for his fellow Oregonians, both today and in the future. He has led ODOT with distinction, guiding the agency through the implementation of a historic transportation package, and we will reap the benefits for decades to come. I have deeply appreciated his thoughtful counsel and collaboration and want to extend my gratitude for his service to our state.”

“Matt has been a dedicated public servant in our state for almost a quarter of a century,” said Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney. “He is highly respected throughout Oregon and in transportation circles around the country. The Commission appreciates Matt’s many contributions to modernizing Oregon’s transportation system. We will work closely with him in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition from Matt to his successor.”

The Oregon Transportation Commission has the statutory authority to hire a new director for the department.

In his resignation letter, Garrett praised ODOT’s workforce, noting that he has led an organization that consistently delivers “exceptional service, infrastructure and innovation” to Oregonians. He also identified three achievements he is particularly proud of:

HB 2017, the 2017 transportation investment legislation, which he described as “historic and comprehensive;”

The “Area Commissions on Transportation,” which he characterized as “critical forums for statewide transportation planning;” and

The creation of the nation’s first Road Usage Charge, which will allow Oregon to eventually transition from a per gallon gas tax to a per mile fee to pay for Oregon roads, bridges and other infrastructure investments.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, eBike Store, Velotech, River City Bicycles

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 10:31

We’ve had some great job opportunities listed in the past week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Director of Finance and Administration – Community Cycling Center

–> Experienced Bike Mechanic – The eBike Store

–> Customer Experience Specialist Full Time – Velotech

–> Bike Builder – River City Bicycles

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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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Weekend Event Guide: Three speeds, MLK Day, lunar eclipse, palm trees, and more

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:52

Scene from the 2007 Wintertime Palm Tree Ride, where I first learned about the strange and wonderful monkey puzzle trees!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to the weekend!

Here’s our menu of delicious rides and events happening in and around Portland in the next few days.:..

Saturday, January 19th

First Timer’s Ride – 10:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
Just getting started on two wheels? Love social city rides? Let the experienced staff of River City Bicycles show you theway on this short and sweet neighborhood jaunt. More info here.

State of Cyclocross, Final Hosted Show – 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm at Paris Theatre (SW)
It’s your last chance to see this beautiful and poignant film created by Portlander Drew Coleman. This will not be released on the web, so make plans to view it on the big screen! More info here.

Three Speed Get Together – 4:00 pm at Montavilla Brew Works (SE)
If you love the casual and cool riding that three-speeds afford, this is the get together for you. The Society of Three Speeds is hosting this event, so show up if you want to talk about bikes and plans for a great slate of three-speed rides in 2019. More info here.

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Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
Ready to go fast? Or start training so you can go faster? This ride features group dynamics, hotspot sprints, and a supportive group of experienced riders. More info here.

Palm Tree Ride – 11:00 am at Fillmore Coffee (NE)
Shawn from the Urban Adventure League knows a thing or three about local Portland neighborhood history and the neat palm trees that live in them. This is one of his classic rides that you are very likely to enjoy. More info here.

NWTA Lunar Eclipse Fat Bike Snow Adventure – 6:30 pm at Government Camp (Mt. Hood)
What better way to view the lunar eclipse than from Trillium Lake on the saddle of a bicycle?! Ride happens clear or cloudly and it will be on the snow so a fat bike is required. More info here.

Community Ride to the Reclaim MLK Day March – 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Fire Station 21 (SE)
Friends on Bikes and Women Bike have joined up with Don’t Shoot PDX for a casual ride that will go from the Esplanade, up North Williams Avenue to Peninsula Park to join the Annual March for Human Rights and Dignity. 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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