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Portland Oregon bicycle news, events, culture, travel and opinion.
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Weekend Event Guide: Thriller, a brewery tour, podcast party, and more!

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 14:39
It’s ‘Thrill the World’ weekend and Kidical Mass will be there to join in the creepy fun.
(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to your menu of weekend rides and events, lovingly brought to you by our friends at Hopworks Urban Brewery.

I know what you’re thinking… Who the heck wants to ride in all this rain!? Well, the truth is, riding in the rain isn’t so bad, especially with friends. And besides, there’s bound to be a break in the clouds here and there, so why not be prepared with a list of all the fun bike stuff to do?

Grab your jackets, get your fenders on, and have a great (wet) weekend..

Friday, October 24th

EcoSpeed Kickstarter Crush Party – 7:30 pm at 2330 SE Clatsop
The crew at EcoSpeed wants to celebrate their hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. Join them for a big party that will feature a DJ, free beer and food, a prize giveaway, and lots of lofty prognostications for what will surely be an exciting future. More info here.

Saturday, October 25th

Bike Shop Tour – 9:45 am at New Seasons (SE Hawthorne and 41st)
The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Active Transportation Division will lead this tour of local bike shops. See what makes them tick and why our local shops are so fantastic. More info here.

Western Bikeworks Shop Ride – 10:00 am at the shop (1015 NW 17th Ave)
Your basic shop ride led by the awesome and fun Maria Schur. Route depends on weather. If it’s really bad, she says they’ll just do a short urban loop. More info here.

Biking About Architecture – Montavilla – 11:00 am at Milepost 5 (900 NE 81st)
Residential architecture lover Jenny Fosmire leads another one of her fun adventures. This one will have a Halloween theme with ride-bys of the Munster Mashup, Terry Gilliam funhouse, a bunker home, the grotto, and lots of fun art gardens. Expect an easy, 8 mile route.
More info here (FB).

Tour De Brew – 12 noon at Oregon Public House (700 NE Dekum Street)
Not your average pub crawl, this tour of north Portland’s best breweries is a fundraiser that aims to help the water crisis in the Central African Republic. The route will start in Woodlawn and hit the Hopworks BikeBar, Ecliptic Brewery, and end at Ex Novo on N Flint. Limited to first 100 riders and there’s a minimum donation of $50 (entry comes with some nice freebies). More info here.

Kidical Mass Thrilleride – 1:45 pm at Dawson Park (145 N Stanton)
Get your zombie makeup on and join the fun folks from Kidical Mass for a ride to the annual “Thrill the World” dance performance (yes, it’s a thing). Don’t forget to throw some candy in your bag to keep the kiddos smiling bright throughout the night. More info here.

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The Athletic – Shop Opening Party – 5:00 pm at 925 NW 19th Ave
Founded by bike industry creative giant Jeremy Dunn (behind the Embrocation Cycling Journal among other things), The Athletic went big with their Portland Airport Carpet socks. Now they’ve got a large and quite beautiful line of socks that are sure to make you look better on or off the bike. Join them to celebrate the opening of their first retail store and you’ll also get a sneak peek at the Chris King/Cielo Cyclcross team and their drool-worthy steeds. More info here.

Transport-astic Studio Opener – 6:30 pm at the Independent Publishing Resource Center (SE 10th and Division)
Join the voices and personalities behind the Sprocket, BikePortland, and (new!) Transportini podcasts in this fun event at the home of Open Roads Broadcasting. We’ll be doing live radio, doing “urban growth boundary Twister” (I have no idea what that will entail), and sharing good drinks. Join us! More info here (FB).

Sunday, October 26th

Cross Crusade #4 – All day at Washington County Fairgrounds (Hillsboro)
It’s going to be funny and muddy out there. Add in the big Tailgator Competition and who knows how this weekend will turn out. Regardless, you know you’ll feel left out when everyone’s talking about how epic it was. More info here.

Pumpkin Carving at Velo Cult – 4:30 to 6:30 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd Ave)
Bring a pumpkin to Velo Cult and carve amongst friends (and beer and fine bicycles). More info here

— If we missed anything, feel free to let us know and/or give it a shout-out in the comments.

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First look: New bike facilities open along MAX Orange Line

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:48
New multi-use path goes east-west just south of MAX line/UPRR tracks between SE 7th and 17th.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s less than one year to go until TriMet takes the wraps off the Orange Line, a 7.3 mile extension of the MAX light rail system that will connect downtown Portland to Milwaukie in northern Clackamas County. While the marquee component of the $1.5 billion project, the Tillikum Crossing Bridge, won’t open until next fall, many parts of the new project are already open for business.

Among the $40 million the project will spend on infrastructure for bicycling and walking, is a series of new multi-use paths and bike lanes that will connect the eastern end of the Tilikum Bridge to SE McLoughlin Blvd via new connections on SE Caruthers and SE 17th. While some final details remain, enough of this section is open that I figured it warranted a closer look.

Our (north to south) tour starts at SE 7th and Division Place where the beginning of the new multi-use path isn’t open yet, but you can see it behind some barriers. You can also see the nice new sidewalk being build on SE Caruthers as it goes under the MLK/Grand viaduct.

Looking west toward downtown at SE Caruthers. Start of multi-use path.

The new multi-use path is open right now starting at SE 8th and Division Pl. There’s a wide curb ramp that is a combo path/sidewalk at first that then splits into path-only and follows the new rail line to the multi-pronged intersection of SE Clinton, Milwaukie, 11th and 12th. At 11th and 12th, bicycle riders will wait for a signal and cross in the crosswalk…

Headed east at SE 8th/Division Place. At SE 11th and Clinton. Crossing onto path island between 11th and 12th.

Then, at the new MAX station at SE 12th and Clinton, the bike route goes onto SE Gideon where they’ve installed sharrows for two long blocks until the dedicated path starts up again. This path connects right to the new bridge over SE Powell. (Note the temporary bike route directional signage. I assume this will be made permanent eventually.)

View of sidewalk looking east from SE 12th/Clinton MAX station. Gideon (bike route) is to the right. <\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
I want a t-shirt that reads: “I spent $1.5 billion on a new transportation corridor and all I got was this sharrow.” Kidding! Transition from shared-lane environment on Gideon back onto path.

Going up and over the path on the new SE Powell flyover bridge (which has been open since last year) shifts your direction to the south. If you want to continue south, there’s a new bike/walk crossing facility just before SE Pershing Street. The crossing is push-button activated and comes with ample signage, flashing lights, and a voice that blares “Cross street with caution, vehicles may not stop!”. You’ll note that this crossing is meant specifically for bicycles because of the color treatment — yellow for walkers, green for bikers…

These folks are headed north up onto the flyover of SE Powell. New crosswalk/bike looking south. New crosswalk/bike looking north toward Powell. Bikers on the left, walkers on the right.

Continuing south you are now on SE 17th, which has been striped with new buffered bike lanes from SE Powell all the way down to Holgate. The bike lane feels like a standard 5-6 foot width plus a 1-2 foot buffer…

Buffer goes away when things get too narrow. Out in the great, wide open.

Coming back north from Holgate, it’s pretty much the same. It’s a buffered bike lane from Holgate to Pershing, then the bike lane lead directly up onto the sidewalk/path that will get you back to the Powell Blvd bridge…

Route goes by TriMet Central yard, which means 17th has lots of bus traffic. Use caution around these driveways. Moving cars on one side, door-zone on the other. Bike lane transitions back to path/sidewalk just south of Powell.

Now that you have a sense of what’s out there, here are a few thoughts I scribbled in my notebook:

— In the northern section there are pretty good crossings over the tracks to access SE 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th. However, once you cross the tracks, you’re left with pretty much nothing in terms of dedicated bike infrastructure — so brace yourself!

Good luck!

— It’s great to see all the bike parking at the new Clinton/12th MAX station, but it seems — especially if we have $1.5 billion to spend — we should at least add some sort of roof over it.

A little roof to stay out of the rain would be nice.

— The public art poems, scrawled anonymously in the sidewalks and paths, are a fun diversion. Two of them in particular stood out: “Some have evolved to commute upright smiling,” and “Pass carefully by Ladd’s spiderweb of streets.”

— This sign placement on the ramp up to the new Powell bridge is unfortunate. One insignificant sign causes a jog in an otherwise direct path. I hope they add some reflectors to it before someone rides into it in the dark… UPDATE, 9:50 pm – According to our friend @Howrad on Twitter, PBOT has already added safety signage on the pole to prevent folks from running into it.

— The buffered bike lanes on SE 17th are better than nothing; but I can’t help but think it was a huge missed opportunity to not get a protected bike lane here. There’s a nice planter strip in some sections that should have been the outside edge of a protected bike lane. I just don’t understand how we spend $1.5 billion on a transportation project that started with a clean slate and we build what amounts to 1990s bike infrastructure. When I ride 17th with my kids, I’ll probably use the sidewalk.

Every mode here is protected — except cycling. Technically a sidewalk, but safer than the bike lane.

Reader Carrie Leonard said the changes have “had a significantly positive impact” on her family. The Leonards live on SE 19th in Westmoreland (north of Bybee). Carrie’s daughter goes to Cleveland High School and uses the new bike lanes on 17th and the new paths along Powell. “She has done this the past two mornings at 6:30 am,” Carrie shared with us via email, “and it’s So Much Better with the buffered bike lane and one lane on 17th (and the dedicated bridge over Powell) than crossing at 26th.”

My few quibbles aside, this project will have a huge and positive impact on biking in this area. The presence of SW Powell and other large and fast streets, as well as the impenetrable Union Pacific Railroad tracks made bikeway connectivity in this area abysmal before these changes came. (The Springwater is great, but it’s not convenient for running errands, meeting friends, or getting things done on Division or other points north of Powell.)

“The link between Westmoreland, SE 17th, and then SE Clinton just makes it easy and safe to get North,” Carrie said, “We are dedicated bike people, but even for us there were barriers to getting north of Powell from our location. This bridge and the improvements on 17th have removed that barrier.”

— Get full details on both of these sections of the project via PDFs available here (Caruthers to Gideon) and here (SE 17th). Have you used this new infrastructure yet? We’d love to hear from you.

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Two years after Portland’s auto parking wars, apartment garages aren’t filling up

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:39
The Linden apartments at SE 12th and Burnside are 98 percent leased, but 39 of their 110 on-site parking spaces, including the entire lower-level garage, have never been rented. These spaces rent for $110 a month, but street parking is free. (Note the occupied bike rack at the back of the garage.)
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When Steven Van Zile moved from Los Angeles to the Pearl District last year for a job managing Guardian Management’s portfolio of Portland-area apartment buildings, the low number of parking spaces at some of the newer properties made him nervous.

Linden, the company’s new building on Burnside and 12th, had only 110 parking spaces for 132 units. In an interview at the time, Van Zile expressed gratitude to the building’s developer that the on-site parting lot was larger than at some other buildings. But what would happen if garage space ran short?

It turns out that Van Zile needn’t have worried.

A year after it opened, Linden is 98 percent full. Its one-bedrooms start at $1,295 a month for 576 square feet; a 922 square foot two-bedroom is $2,085. Parking in the on-site lots adds another $139 for the upper level, $110 for the lower.

The lower garage, however, is completely empty.

Of cars, that is.

Bike parking at Linden, meanwhile, has been swamped.

When I stopped by the building’s garage in late August, I saw every rack full:

I saw a bike locked to a pole inside the garage:

I saw bikes locked to the bars of the windows:

I saw a bike locked to a bike:

There are also bikes being stored on maybe half the balconies outside the building:

Brandy Guthery, Linden’s on-site manager, said the building has been working hard to keep up with the demand for bike parking.

“We’ve already installed more, and now we’re installing even more,” she told me in August. As for all the empty auto parking spaces, Guthery predicted that once winter came, Linden residents who have been parking their cars in the street for free would begin moving indoors.

If that’s true, it hasn’t happened yet. Guthery said in a follow-up interview Wednesday that garage occupancy is exactly what it was in August: three spaces open in the upper garage, every space open in the lower one.

- Real Estate Beat sponsorship available – Call Jonathan at 503-706-8804 for info –

Linden’s bike parking situation is unusual, because the building was first approved as a senior housing development. During the city’s review process, Linden’s developers asked for and received a waiver from the city’s requirement that the building include at least 1.1 bike parking spaces for every unit. However, late in the process, Linden’s developers changed course and decided to market the building as a higher-end building for singles and small families — an approach that has apparently worked well when it comes to filling bedrooms.

It’s not clear how many Linden residents have ended up parking off site and how many don’t own cars at all.

“I live a couple of blocks from the Linden, and I haven’t heard any complaints about parking spillover,” said Greg Moulliet, co-chair of the Buckman Community Association.

Outside Linden at Southeast 12th and Burnside.

But Susan Lindsay, the association’s other co-chair, said parking spillover “has been an ongoing situation with many of the new apartment buildings recently built, even if there is some included parking.”

In any case, Linden’s auto parking situation captures a larger phenomenon in central Portland housing right now: a year after the city, responding to a wave of neighborhood complaints, began requiring new buildings of 30 units or more to include on-site auto parking even if they’re on a frequent bus line, many of the new parking spaces aren’t keeping cars off the streets.

“The reality is we can’t force people to pay for it,” developer Aaron Jones told the Portland Tribune this month after trying and failing to rent parking spaces for $85 a month near his apartment project at 48th and Division.

Developers charge for on-site auto parking because each auto parking space within the footprint of a building costs $20,000 to $55,000 to develop by taking up space that might otherwise be used for revenue-generating housing. Surface parking is cheaper to build, but still costly because a parking lot could otherwise be an entire apartment building.

Another option for developers would be to bundle parking into the cost of a unit, raising the rent for every tenant whether they use parking or not.

“These people do indeed bike. And they walk and they bus. But they still have cars.”
— William Gregg, Buckman Community Association

As it is, some residents who rarely use their cars seem to be finding that parking a few blocks from their home isn’t a big burden — at least when the price is $0.

“These people do indeed bike,” said William Gregg, a Buckman Community Association board member who lives near a new apartment building at Southeast 12th and Taylor and who sits on the stakeholder committee for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s new study of auto parking. “And they walk and they bus. But they still have cars.”

“They’re not just parking, they’re using the street for storage,” he added. “I’ve got cars parked back here that hasn’t moved for two weeks.”

Meanwhile, though the new building near his house is now half occupied, Gregg said its garage is empty. He said the developer is asking $120 to $150 for spaces in its parking area.

“I don’t see anybody parked there at midnight,” he said. “Not a single car.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here. This sponsorship has opened up and we’re looking for our next partner. If interested, please call Jonathan at (503) 706-8804.

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A region can dream: The metro area’s vision for its future path network

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:30
(Click the image to enlarge, or see this zoomable PDF or web version.)

When you stitch together the long-term bike plans of every city in the area, connect a few dots and put it all on one map, you get something pretty spectacular.

“We want to move away from ‘bike lane ends’ or ‘trail ends.’ People don’t know when they’re passing from one owner of a road or into a jurisdiction. So we want that completeness across the region.”
— Lake Strongheart McTighe, Metro

That’s what regional government Metro did this summer, when its council unanimously approved the region’s new active transportation plan.

Assuming Oregonians don’t make any radical decisions such as earmarking, say, an additional 5 percent of our annual gas tax revenue for off-road urban paths, the network pictured above will take many decades to build. But even at today’s rates, the state, region and cities are chipping away at this plan; look at the Tualatin River Greenway gap, which outscored 99 out of 103 other transportation projects from around the state last spring to get $1.4 million from Oregon Lottery revenues.

You can see that 0.8-mile project in the cluster of yellow lines southwest of Lake Oswego. If you zoom way in.

Metro’s “Active Transportation Plan Regional Trails Network Vision,” as it’s known, is as big as its name. But that’s the point, says its architect, Lake Strongheart McTighe.

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“The regional plan is really a way to coordinate all of the various efforts that are happening around the region so that the sum of the parts is really great,” said McTighe, a senior transportation planner at Metro, said in an interview Tuesday. “We want to move away from ‘bike lane ends’ or ‘trail ends.’ People don’t know when they’re passing from one owner of a road or into a jurisdiction. So we want that completeness across the region.”

An example: the new Active Transportation Plan, for the first time, identifies a “Beaverton to Milwaukie Trail” that would run alongside Highway 26 through the West Hills, joining downtown Portland’s hub of trails with the developing network in Washington County.

Here’s another big map in Metro’s new plan: one that includes not just off-street paths but also on-street routes.

(Click the image to enlarge, or see this zoomable PDF or web version.)

This map has a similar motivation, McTighe said: helping every jurisdiction make sure their blue lines line up.

“We want to always be emphasizing that if Portland is putting in a buffered bike lane on, like, Division, then we want that bicycling and pedestrian improvements to extend all the way through to Gresham, or have some sort of meaningful connection as it weaves through,” McTighe said.

The new Regional Active Transportation Plan is a landmark document, and this vision is just a piece of it. You can learn more about it, and download all the analysis of these maps, here.

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Reader mailbag: Confusion reigns on Williams Ave while City urges patience

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:48
Reader Ted Buehler sent in this photo
yesterday with the subject line: “Lifeboat facility.”

Thanks to PBOT’s N Williams project, our mailbag has been pretty full lately.

Last week we shared some feedback we’ve received about how traffic back-ups on Williams are impacting users of NE Rodney — a street the city has tried to set aside as a lower-stress alternative.

And yesterday we received several more emails from people who are still trying to ride on Williams. Most of the emails have to do with concerns over how the project is being phased-in and the general confusion about where and how to navigate the newly striped bike lane — which is now on the left side of the road instead of the right.

For the city’s part, PBOT says they understand the concerns. Reached by phone this morning, agency spokeswoman Diane Dulken asked for patience. “It’s still an active construction site. We’re in an awkward phase of switching from right to left and we’re dodging the weather.”

Active construction zone or not, the street is still open and people are riding it.* On that note, I’ve pasted five emails below (all received in the last 24 hours) in hopes some of you (including any PBOT staff that happen to be reading) can help these readers with support and tips on how to make it through…

From E.W.:

I am not sure if this is your daily route, but it seems a bit of a cluster at the moment and only 1/2 way thru the project. Sometimes it’s unclear which side to ride on or where there are mixing zones. Also, the transtion/mixing zone at Killingsworth appears to be worse than before as the left lane (to turn left) is always busier than the right. Any suggestions?

From D.D.:

So far I have had a negative reaction to what is going on on Williams and I have talked to coworkers who commute to NE and they have had similar experiences. A friend of mine said “I’m trying not to hate it just because it’s new, but man, I really hate it” and I think that sums things up pretty well.

Yesterday I was almost hit by somebody on Williams at Broadway because they realized that they were about to exit on to I-5 and they didn’t want to. A little while later (near New Seasons) I saw a girl get hit by a car and go down. A few bikers (myself included) stopped and made sure she was OK. Taking a right on to Going St. is also a royal pain now during rush hour. My coworkers have also noted that bus exhaust comes out the left side of the some buses and city buses are much louder when they are on your right.

I have tried Rodney as an alternative and didn’t like it (it’s slow due to stop signs, now there are a ton of cars, some are driving over the barrier, etc.). I think I might try Broadway to 15th tonight and see how that goes. I’ll try to keep an open mind but so far moving the bike lane to the left side has done nothing but make my ride home miserable.

Hoping things will get better soon.

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From C.H.:

I think the concept for N Williams is great, I do. However, last night I rode home on my usual route and found that the old right side bike lane had been ground down before the left side bike lane was complete. Riders didn’t know if they should be passing on the right or left, or if the narrow extra lane on the far right was for passing. Honestly the whole set up is very confusing.

Its especially hard when the cones are half way into the bike lane and the lanes don’t line up across intersections.

I am not a new commuter, this is just a mess at the moment. How are we supposed to ride on Williams?

From M.D.:

N Williams is taking shape. The large bike lane is now at the west side of the ave. typically, I believe, cyclists are used to bike lanes being on the right side of the street, so slower bikers will ride to the right, while faster cyclists will pass on the left. The bike lane being on the right creates a tendency for slower cyclists to ride near the far left side of the bike lane. Are the passing cyclists supposed to pass on the right or should passing still occur on the left, even though this is hindered by the typical, slower bike traffic on the left?

From M.G.:

I rode home on N. Williams Ave. yesterday evening and was really confused by the re-routing. I did understand that changes were coming, but at several points along the route it was unclear what we were supposed to do, which maybe could have been helped by more signs. Also, if you want to make a right turn from the left hand bike lane, what is the best way to do that? If you want to pass a slower rider, should you still pass on the left or is it now better to pass on the right? Do you think you could get PBOT to provide an explanation of how the new route is supposed to work? That would be super helpful. Thanks so much for your great reporting, as always.

Dulken said project contractors have completed all the striping for the project, but there are still details that need to be finished up — many of them being weather-dependent. In the meantime, Dulken urges caution and reminds everyone to follow all the traffic controls.

“We understand people’s concerns and ask them to bear with us as we go thru this active construction phase.”

Please use the comments to share the latest conditions on Williams.

UPDATE, 5:35 pm: I just rode up Williams. The main re-striping is complete. The old right lane has been completely removed and the left lane is open for business. During rush hour, people in cars backed up all the way to Broadway and north to about New Seasons. The left side bike lane is open and easy to follow. Can’t wait so see how it all works out once it’s 100% complete.

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There’s a cyclocross race at Gateway Green next month!

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 09:37
Gateway Green: Portland’s future premier cyclocross racing venue.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

We are excited to announce that six and-a-half years after we first told you about Gateway Green, supporters of the project have planned their first official bike event. Yesterday on their Facebook page, the Friends of Gateway Green unveiled plans for “Community CX,” a cyclocross exhibition race that will take place on November 15th.

The event announcement comes less than two months after the City of Portland officially took over ownership of the 30-acre parcel that sits adjacent to the Airport MAX and the intersection of I-84 and 205. Portland bought the parcel from the Oregon Department of Transportation for $19,300 and plans to develop the area as an off-road cycling destination.

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Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz said back in August that Gateway Green will, “boost Portland’s visibility as a world-class bike-friendly city,” and that it’s, “a tremendous use of the underutilized land.”

Riding down the highest point at the
park’s southern end (near Halsey overpass).

Gateway Green’s topography and mix of open meadows and forested areas make it a natural place for cyclocross. Jocelyn Gaudi, a Friends board member, says she and other volunteers have designed “a dynamic course with plenty of great observation areas to entertain the whole crowd.” The Community CX event will feature a full slate of racing for all categories and there will also be activities for kids.

Gaudi adds the the event will be more of a community gathering and the race is meant to be “fun and casual.” It will also be historic, given that this will be the first-ever organized bike event at Gateway Green and, according to Gaudi, it’s the first cyclocross race to be held on a Portland Parks-owned property since 2002 (if you don’t count Portland International Raceway).

The race also marks the start of a major fundraising campaign. Race entries will be $20, all of which will go toward the $1.6 million that the Friends of Gateway Green must raise in order to cash in on the $1 million Metro grant they won back in July. When all this funding comes together, they’ll have $3 million to spend on the first phase of the park’s development.

— Check out the event schedule and stay tuned for updates by checking out the Facebook event page. If you have questions or would like to get involved with the event, contact Gaudi at jocelyn(AT)gatewaygreenpdx(DOT)org.

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TriMet scores grant to study the world’s best bike + transit ideas

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:16
One possibility: a system for tracking
bike rack capacity on buses.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

TriMet is a few months away from what its lead bike planner called a “pretty major” year-long review of the ways its transit system interacts with bikes.

“This effort will really help us in future years to make sure that we’re prioritizing the right projects at the right locations,” Active Transportation Planner Jeff Owen said in an interview Tuesday.

A $108,000 state grant awarded in August and $19,000 from TriMet will let the regional transit agency hire a consultant to gather best practices from around the world and make recommendations to TriMet about bike parking, how best to carry bikes on trains and buses, how to build transit lines with bike access in mind and other issues.

“We can’t think of everything ourselves, and outside ideas are really beneficial and powerful,” Owen said. “A lot of it might be things that we’re aware of, of course, but they could really bring some new ideas and creative thinking into it.”

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For example, Owen said some transit systems are experimenting with ways to let people waiting for a bus know if its front rack has room for bikes. Or the study might suggest ways for TriMet to reduce the space bikes take up on its system. The consultant will also use a stakeholder advisory group, open houses and possibly an online effort to gather feedback from bike users about their own issues with TriMet.

The process starts in July 2015 and will wrap up in June 2016. The grant comes from the state’s transportation and growth management program, a partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conservation and Development.

Owen said he’s working with ODOT to write the consultants’ assignment and is open to ideas about what it could consider.

“We’re still finalizing the scope,” he said.

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Five surprises in a comparison of Portland and Dutch travel choices

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 13:35
Portlanders and Rotterdammers have more in common than you might think.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Most city-to-city transportation comparisons are very simple: 64 percent of trips by car, 11 percent by bike, and so on.

But those broad numbers are really just blankets that have been thrown over the intricate topography of transportation choices that’s actually at work in our daily lives. To really understand how cities work, you also have to look at a second factor: How far are people going?

A motherlode of newly released data has revealed those patterns for Portlanders for the first time.

By comparing their answers with the ones given by people in Rotterdam — the Netherlands’ second-largest city, it has almost exactly the population of Portland — we can get a useful look inside the differences and similarities between our country’s bike-friendliest major city and our planet’s bike-friendliest country.

These results draw on an analysis completed last month by Metro staff, based on a local slice of the huge 2011 Oregon Household Activity Survey that asked people to report, trip by trip, the ways they move about their lives. Thanks to some comparative work by Nathan Wilkes, a planner with the City of Austin who’s been comparing Portlanders’ behavior and Dutch behavior to estimate the potential for biking in his city, we can see how we measure up against our friends in Northwestern Europe.

If we chart the distances people travel and the modes they use, here’s what it looks like in Portland:

Portland data: Oregon Household Activity Survey via Metro.

and in Rotterdam (important caveat: this data includes only work and school commutes):

Dutch data: Infrastructure Management Agency via City of Austin.

There’s a lot to see here. Let’s look at these charts piece by piece.

1) Even in the Netherlands, most trips of more than three miles happen in a car.

When you get down to the numbers, the difference in Dutch and Portlander driving habits is big but it really isn’t dramatic. Once trips get to three miles or so, most Rotterdammers start reaching for the car keys, too.

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2) The vast majority of Dutch biking comes from short trips.

Rotterdam biking rates peak at about two miles and drop off rapidly over three miles. It’s a pretty clear sign that for all the joys of pedaling, no amount of amazing bike infrastructure can make most people want to take daily bike trips of more than 20 minutes or so. But that’s where the second great gift of dense Dutch cities comes in: almost everything you need is reachable within a 20-minute bike trip. Dutch cities make density affordable by devoting less real estate to front lawns, parking lots, spare bedrooms and one-story buildings.

Another revelation here: though Portlanders’ biking rates also peak around the 2-mile mark (11 percent of those are by bike) they stay fairly steady until they get longer than six miles, at which point Rotterdammers’ biking is seriously tapering off. Maybe that’s because Portlanders who bike a lot are disproportionately athletic. Or maybe we’re just stubborn.

3) Dutch and Portland walking habits are very similar.

Americans are so accustomed to being gloomy about our transportation system that it’s easy to forget: in the parts of our cities that were built before the age of auto-dependent planning, walking is actually pretty good and pretty popular. For trips of less than half a mile, humans generally prefer to walk. They always have and they always will.

4) In the Netherlands, transit is for the long haul.

This chart gives the lie to my least favorite transportation myth: that biking and public transit are competitors. They’re complements. The density that makes Rotterdam great for biking also makes it great for transit, and the whole system works because the abundance of options lets people use the right vehicle for the right job. If you’ve got enough money to spend, it’s possible to create a car-lite city with mass transit alone — see New York or London — but it’s far easier to accomplish if bikes are helping, too.

Another difference sticks out here: commuter trains are a big part of Dutch life. Portlanders start abandoning TriMet when trips get longer than eight miles or so. (That’s about the length of the Yellow Line.) But Rotterdam transit is popular for 30 miles and beyond. It’s no coincidence that commuter rail, with its high speeds and small number of stations, is a particularly good complement to biking.

5) Portland is to most of the United States as the Netherlands is to Portland.

In almost all of the United States, you either drive or you walk.

As a result, nearly half of all U.S. trips of one mile or less happen in a privately operated vehicle. For trips of 2 miles, 90 percent are in cars. Biking and mass transit are negligibly tiny factors in America’s transportation system.

Not every U.S. city is like this, fortunately; six or seven have better public transit than Portland and a few have comparable bike networks. But all these travel figures show that for all the progress we have yet to make in Portland, our choices so far have brought us a long way.

With thanks to Nathan Wilkes at the City of Austin, Lake McTighe at Metro and Roger Geller at the City of Portland.

Correction 6 pm: An earlier version of this post didn’t note that the Rotterdam data comes only from work and school commutes. It’s also worth noting that because these figures already control for distance, that’s a less important factor here than it sometimes is.

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Manicures? Gourmet cooking? It’s all possible at Cross Crusade ‘Tailgator’ competition

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:02
Which Cross Crusade team has the
best tailgate party?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

When you mix one of the largest cyclocross scenes in the world with promoters who focus on the fun as much as the competition, you end up with events where there’s almost as much action in the team pit area as on the race course. This Sunday, the Cross Crusade pits will be even livelier as series organizers host the first-ever Tailgator Competition.

As we shared last year, the rows of team tents that line Cross Crusade courses become a small cyclocross city on race day. People bring in full-size BBQs, fire pits, pop-up changing rooms, tables, chairs, custom-made bike racks, deep-fryers, and more. Each year it seems the set-ups get more involved and elaborate.

Cross Crusade Race Director Brad Ross says the tents add to the festive feeling of the day. Ross told us this morning that he got the Tailgator competition idea from Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort. “During spring skiing in April,” he said in an email, “the passholder parking lot always turn into a big tailgate party by about 10:30 in the morning. So the ski resort turned it into an actual judged competition on the last day the mountain is open. It’s pretty fun.”
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The competition is open to all OBRA sanctioned teams that show up for this Sunday’s event at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro.

Chef Higgins, of the eponymously
named restaurant, will help judge.

The competition will be based on which team does the best job impressing a panel of judges. So far the judges are Ross, chef/owner of downtown Portland’s Higgins restaurant Greg Higgins, and Ross’ wife Melodie. Ross and Higgins will judge the food and drink offerings while Ms. Ross will critique the overall ambiance of the team’s tent and other, non-food offerings.

Teams are already busy strategizing about how to make the best impression. Ross has heard one team is planning a manicure/pedicure station, another is bringing in a masseuse, there are rumors of a wood-fired pizza oven being brought in, an on-site tattoo parlor, and there’s even a team that has hired local celebrity chef Chris DiMinno to cook up some succulent specialties just for the occasion.

Sue Hanna, a member of Oregon Bike Shop Racing Team said their tent will be, “Hell’s Kitchen meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” So there’s that.

If your team wants to compete, check in at the Cross Crusade merchandise tent in the morning where you’re receive a number to pin on your tent. Judging will take place between 11:30 and 1:00 pm.

Stay tuned on Monday when we’ll share photos and highlights from some of the entrants.

— BikePortland’s 2014 cyclocross coverage is sponsored by Sellwood Cycle Repair.

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BikeLoudPDX postcard campaign amplifies the grassroots

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 08:53
Bike Loud volunteers Zed Bailey, Ted Buehler and Marsha Hanchrow show off signed and stamped postcards in favor of permanent traffic diverters gathered from people using Clinton Street.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland’s newest bike advocacy organization is bringing back the postcard.

In the last few weeks, three Portland city officials have received an estimated “three or four hundred” individually stamped postcards from Portlanders sharing their opinions about local transportation projects on Southeast Clinton Street, Southwest Third Avenue and Northeast Rodney Avenue.

The documents, designed in Microsoft Word, are the brainchild of longtime bike advocate Ted Buehler, a volunteer for the new “gathering point for grassroots activists” that calls itself BikeLoudPDX. In an interview Friday, Buehler said he’s stamped and mailed about 150 each of the first two postcards and also some from the Rodney campaign, which had begun the week before.

Here’s what they look like:

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Buehler and other volunteers gather people’s opinions by setting up a table on the street in question and asking passers-by if they’d like to share their thoughts. He estimated that 90 to 95 percent of the people who’ve done so are people “out of the blue,” not members of Portland’s core bike advocacy network.

“We always engage people in conversation first, so there’s nobody who’s really doing it casually,” Buehler said. “Certainly the vast majority are interested in the topic and they’re not just going to sign their name to anything. … They’re on site, viscerally frustrated or viscerally pleased with the transportation system that they’re using.”

Greg Raisman, a PBOT staffer who works with city traffic engineer Rob Burchfield, said Monday that Burchfield had received the postcards about 3rd and shared them with colleagues.

“It’s always great to get feedback,” Raisman wrote in an email. “They will be a part of the discussion as we examine the important issues related to 3rd Avenue in Old Town.”

The campaign’s costs in paper, ink and stamps are mostly self-financing, Buehler said.

“We put a tin can on the table, and money lands in it,” he said. “We have about a $100 deficit right now, but I’m pretty sure that we’ll make that up.”

To help passers-by understand the issues involved, Buehler creates maps and has them on hand to help explain the significance of each project in the local system.

Buehler thinks the postcards are worth spending time on because they make the process of contacting a public official more concrete.

“In a digital media age, there’s something nice about having something tactile that you can write on with your own pen, sign it with your own name, put a smiley face on it if you want and drop it the mail,” Buehler said. “I think it engages people’s brains in a slightly different way and it probably affects the recipients slightly differently too. Instead of one more line in their email box, it’s a small, medium or large stack of postcards in their mailbox.”

Another aspect of the campaign: All the postcards are either thanking the city for something it’s done or asking to make a temporary measure permanent.

“I like mixing the positive and the negative, but I always find that the world’s kind of short on the positive side,” Buehler said. “Plus, we’re a new organization. Let’s get some warm fuzzies out there.”

Buehler has a more subtle agenda, too. He’s not just trying to shape the way city officials understand city residents. He’s trying to get more city residents to think about city officials.

“Personally, I’ve observed that Portland bicyclists really lack a grassroots – they don’t have confidence in their ability to be heard,” Buehler said. “They’re more fatalistic than idealistic, let’s say. And in the advocacy world, there’s known ways to change that.”

One of the ways, Buehler said, is to get them thinking about the fact that there are real people in city government who they can contact about their problems.

“They figure out that he’s their city commissioner and he’s in charge of transportation, and he’s our traffic engineer,” Buehler said. “And it starts getting people’s brains thinking in that direction.”

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Smith Optics to move 35 employees to new Portland office

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 15:36

A significant chunk of global eyewear brand Smith Optics will move to Portland early next year.

The news was confirmed today via a story posted this afternoon in the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper.

Here’s more from the IME:

Safilo [Smith's parent company] CEO Luisa Delgado came to Ketchum from Italy this week to discuss the results of the location study with Smith employees, local government officials and media, among others. Delgado announced the relocation plans today, Oct. 20.

As part of Smith’s integration within its parent company, it will be controlled out of the global Safilo Group headquarters in Italy.

Delgado said every effort would be made to either relocate or provide a severance package for Smith’s 85 Ketchum-based employees.

Portland, Ore., was selected out of several Western U.S. locations as the new design center for Smith Optics. Some 35 employees will see their Ketchum position transferred to Portland during the first half of 2015.

Smith Optics is well-known is cycling circles for their downhill goggles and full line of cycling-specific eyewear. Earlier this year, Smith expanded deeper into cycling with their Forefront helmet.

The company was founded in 1965 and has been based in Idaho ever since. Safilo, the part company is a huge Italian-based conglomerate that owns several eyewear and fashion brands including Fossil, Banana Republic, Hugo Boss, and others.

Stay tuned for more details as plans for the Portland-based office firm up.

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Why Portland needs stronger design standards for construction zones

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:16
A construction project is currently blocking that entire right lane where all the bicycle riders are, forcing people into a mixed-zone environment with only humans as traffic calming measures.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

What a difference a few days can make.

On October 8th I tweeted with glee at how a Portland Water Bureau crew maintained a dedicated bicycle lane on NW Broadway and Hoyt during a major sidewalk construction project.

Now THAT is how u do a construction zone.. Thank u @portlandwater ! pic.twitter.com/xvzNXpZz72

— Jonathan Maus (@BikePortland) October 8, 2014

Unfortunately, today that temporary bikeway is completely gone. Instead, there are two standard lanes with nothing more than “Bicycles in Roadway” and “Bike lane closed” signage a half-block prior to the intersection. Here’s the very unfortunate situation that exists now:

Heading south into downtown on Broadway through NW Hoyt intersection this morning. <\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
Not befitting of a great cycling city.

What happened?

As we pointed out last year, this section of Broadway sees some of the highest volumes of bicycle traffic anywhere in the city. In fact, there was so much bicycle congestion here that the Bureau of Transportation redesigned the bikeway to make it wider.

So, to have a city crew come in and create a situation where there’s zero dedicated space for bicycles is a bit troubling — especially after initially getting it right.

It seems clear that this is just another example of how the city needs more stringent standards for how construction crews sign their project zones. It should be spelled out clearly on all project permits that if a dedicated bicycle route exists, the project must maintain an equal or greater level of access, or a fully-signed and reasonable detour should be implemented. Failure to do this should result in fines and/or a revocation of the permit until bicycle access is restored. That seems like a reasonable approach from a city transportation department whose leader is committed to Vision Zero.

At last check, the BTA was looking into this issue. With all the construction going on in this town, hopefully it’s still on their radar, and hopefully PBOT and other agencies that work on our streets are paying attention.

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Cross Crusade #3 recap: Photos, drone footage and mishaps

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:33
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Race #3 of the River City Bicycles Cross Crusade is in the books. After a double-header opening weekend at Alpenrose Dairy, the series continued in fine style with a turnout of 1,277 racers at Portland International Raceway yesterday.

The “Heron Lakes” course was flat and fast, not to mention unseasonably dry. And, unlike most Crusade courses, there was very little dismounting. In a fun twist from previous years, the Crusaders made the barriers on the famous run-up only half-tall in order to entice riders to bunny-hop them. It was a tricky maneuver to do well, especially in the heat of racing, and the vast majority of racers opted to run up.

I went out on Saturday to pre-ride the course and caught this unlucky fella giving it a try (sorry for the low quality, it’s from my phone)…

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Our friend Matt Haughey was out there too, and got this video of another rider showing how it’s done…

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I couldn’t do it nearly as smooth as the guy above, so I opted to run each time. I saved my barrier problems for the other infamous place on this course — the big cement block tabletop.

Drone master and Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Kenji Sugahara shared some excellent aerial video of the race (below). At about the 1:19 mark you can see my front wheel hit the leading edge of the cement block and everything goes goofy. Luckily, I recovered.

Here’s the still from Kenji’s video showing moment of impact…

And the fun video…

2014 Cross Crusade Heron Lakes from Dronescape Media Consulting on Vimeo.

I didn’t shoot too many photos, but here are a few more of what I got just to give you a sense of what it was like out there.

I think everyone was surprised at how warm and sunny it was. First lap scrum at the uphill barriers. ‘Cross always delivers the best faces. This guy is truly doing battle with the course. One of several tricky off-camber sections. Like I said, tricky. The Crusade brings it all together.

We are very lucky here in Portland to have such a quality race series to participate in. Thank you OBRA and the entire Cross Crusade crew! Stay tuned for a preview of this weekend’s big Tailgator competition at race #4 out in Hillsboro.

— BikePortland’s 2014 cyclocross coverage is sponsored by Sellwood Cycle Repair.

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Bomb squad disarms tripwire device found on trail near Forest Park – UDPATED

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:15
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Police called in the bomb squad Saturday night to disarm an explosive device connected to a tripwire strung across a trail that leads into Forest Park.

According to a statement released this morning by the PPB, the tripwire was strung across Firelane 3, a wooded and overgrown old fire access road located east of NW Thompson Rd and accessible via Skyline Road from Thunder Crest Drive. Firelane 3 is open to bicycling and walking.

Here’s more from the PPB:

The device was an improvised firearm with a pipe loaded with a shotgun shell. The device was connected to a tripwire across the trail. The tripwire was slack and it appeared that it had been tripped and the device was inoperable.

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The PPB have taken in the device as evidence and are conducting interviews with local residents. The police say there have been no other reports of similar devices and “it is unclear why someone would place this device on what is believed to be a well-used trail by hikers, bikers and equestrians.”

The PPB is urging anyone with information about this incident or device is asked to contact the bureau’s Gun Task Force at (503) 823-4106 or guntaskforce@portlandoregon.gov.

UPDATE, 2:30 pm:

We learned via The Oregonian that the tripwire was found by Mike Colbach, a Portland attorney whose law office happens to be a large supporter of bike racing via the BicycleAttorney.com Cycling Team. I just talked to Mike on the phone to learn a bit more about the situation.

Colbach said he and his wife discovered the paracord across the trail on Thursday afternoon around 3:30 pm.

“This has nothing to do with bikes as far as I know,” he said. “This whole thing is just some weird stuff.”

Colbach said, judging by the way the cord was set up, a bicycle could have actually rolled downhill over it and nothing would have happened. The trail where it was found is not a popular access point to Forest Park. It’s not even marked from the main road (Skyline) and it’s at the back of a semi-private subdivision. Colbach knew something was amiss when, during a recent hike with his wife, he says two men he described as being “sketchy, slimy, and sleazy” were hanging out near the trail talking on a cell phone. “They weren’t hikers, they didn’t fit in. They looked to be up to no good.”

Colbach said his wife got a better look at them and she’s now working with detectives to come up with a sketch of the suspects. It has been an unsettling experience for him and he hopes Portland Police and Parks take it seriously. He’d like to see a sweep of the entire park to make sure there are more similar booby traps scattered around.

“Forest Park is sacred,” he said, “And we want to keep it that way.”

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The Monday Roundup: Bingo, a cargo bike park, sex with cars, and more

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 08:09
Shared space in downtown Minneapolis, 1920.
(Photo via Peter Norton)

Here are the great bike links that caught our eyes this week:

“A hundred years ago it was called Safety First”: Streetsblog’s two-part interview about Vision Zero with traffic historian Peter Norton is a must-read. The campaign for safe streets can learn a lot from the century-old campaign to make them unsafe.

“Customer code of conduct”: A bike shop in southern California is making all customers who wear their team uniform commit to obeying traffic laws.

Onshoring bikes: The Wall Street Journal takes a close look at the new factory in South Carolina that, with wages of $12 an hour, expects to produce $120 Walmart bikes more cheaply than China can by 2017. (Click the first link on the search page.)

Prescience requirement: Washington DC is considering getting rid of its unusual law that shields drivers from liability in situations where a person on a bike failed to anticipate the driver’s illegal actions.

Passing distance research: Painted bike lanes don’t actually have much effect on car-bike passing distance compared to factors like other cars and, maybe, the driver’s attitude.

Misperceiving risk: Seattle’s Sightline Institute made a useful chart of the relative danger of two frightening epidemics:

Sex with cars: “Masturbation is, I guess the word” for what this Tacoma-area man has done with 700 cars since 1965. He identifies as a mechanaphile.

Anti-bike trolls: You probably have to leave BikePortland to play bike news commenter Bingo.

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Money walks: It’s hard to see a strong pattern in the places people die while walking, but if you also map injuries an overwhelming trend emerges: places poor people live.

Vive la différence: It’d be nuts for the law to treat bikes and cars identically, an Alexandria Times contributor argues.

Debunking congestion: New website City Observatory has a great takedown of a new report that parrots the “cost of congestion” myth that wider roads would help the economy.

Safety conference: Four years after the “Vision Zero” concept started circulating in the bike world, the country’s brains are gathering in New York City next month for a national symposium on the subject.

Parking shortage: According to the BBC, bike parking space is so scarce in Copenhagen that most people just leave their bikes in huge piles — what are the odds their bike will be the one stolen?

Suburban bike sharing: Capital Bikeshare is expanding rapidly in Arlington, Virginia, though rising ridership hasn’t made it operationally profitable.

Rolling park: A Brussels art collective has created a modular cargo bike that is also a “temporary park,” transforming into a mobile cinema or a waffle cart.

Bike manufacturing: Michigan has quantified its growing bike industry: $668 million a year, with the largest single hub of it in Grand Rapids.

In your video of the week, our friends at The Path Less Pedaled check out one of Oregon’s most unique cycling experiences: rocketing in custom 4-wheelers down an otherwise abandoned rail line in Joseph.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.

Correction 10/21: An earlier version of this post misstated the site of the rail pedaling service.

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Comment of the Week: The decline of ageism in biking

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 13:25
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It was once true that people who bike and like bikes were mostly young. News flash: this is no longer true.

That was the message of reader Anne Hawley, responding this week to our coverage of a Northwest Examiner newspaper article about a white-haired auto repair shop owner named Frank Warrens who sees a bike lane on Northwest Everett as part of a campaign to ban cars from downtown Portland.

Hawley’s short, sweet reply:

There’s a lot to be annoyed with here, but as a bike-rider with gray hair, approaching 60, can I just head off any tempting ageist remarks (based on that unbelievably stereotypical photograph) with a quick #NotAllOldFolks?

Thanks.

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I’ve been using every opportunity over the last few months to talk up a fact I noticed in June: biking is still growing a bit among people ages 18-24. But almost all the growth in the last decade actually comes from older people. American biking rates are now almost identical among people aged 25 to 54, and (this really knocks my socks off) almost identical among people aged 55 to 84.

It’s some combination of healthier bodies, changing lifestyles, safer streets and (maybe most important) the aging of Baby Boomers who grew up free of the notion that adult-sized bikes are shameful marks of poverty. But however it happened, it might be the most important demographic force behind the modern biking movement. Thanks for the reminder, Anne.

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Raising the profile of Portland’s bike theft problem

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:35
Putting bike theft on their radar.
(Photo: City of Portland)

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Portland has a serious theft problem when it comes to bicycles and bike parts. For all of you that feel hopeless about it, I wanted to chime in and say I think there are some signs that the tide is finally starting to turn against the thieves.

We’ve been focused on this issue for over nine years — ever since we first launched our Stolen Bike Listings in September 2005. Since then we’ve helped recover so many bikes I stopped counting a long time ago (I’d guess it’s well into the 100s by now). Back in the early days I actually used to list bikes manually while taking information from aggrieved victims over the phone!

Almost 6,000 stolen bikes later, our listings have become a key part of the local fight against thieves.

Unfortunately our listings have been down since July. That’s because Portland resident and stolen bike superhero Bryan Hance of BikeIndex.org (formerly StolenBicycleRegistry.com), has been working on a complete revamp that will sync all our data with BikeIndex and add new, powerful features that will make it easier than ever to recover stolen bikes. We hope to re-launch our listings in the next few weeks.

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But recovery sucks, because that means the thieves already won half the battle (by nabbing your bike in the first place). Our goal should be to prevent theft from happening in the first place. We’ve done some work on that front in the past by partnering up with the Portland Police and Transportation bureaus to create educational materials and online resources aimed at spreading theft prevention tips.

Now, with the bike theft problem at what feels like an all-time high, we are once again working to raise the profile of bike theft by working with our city partners.

Earlier this month, I was honored to be invited to a meeting at City Hall to sit down with Mayor Charlie Hales and incoming Police Chief Larry O’Dea. I had no idea what to expect. I showed up as a community advocate, not as a journalist. When I got there I was in awe of the people who joined us around the big wooden table in the august Rose Room: leaders of major social justice, equity, and racial equality advocacy groups. It wasn’t the crowd I was used to sitting with at City Hall. I felt a bit out of place, but figured if the Mayor’s office wanted me to be there, they had a good reason.

I spent most of the meeting just listening and learning. When I did get a chance to speak, I urged (current) Assistant Chief O’Dea to prioritize three things: Get more officers on the bicycle patrol unit (which would be a huge boost to community policing efforts many people around the table were clamoring for); take a closer look at the proliferation of people living in camps along multi-use paths like the Springwater Corridor; and take the problem of bike theft much more seriously.

I’m confident Asst. Chief O’Dea heard my concerns and I’m looking forward to following up with him on all fronts once he settles into office in January.

In the meantime, Bryan is working hard to re-launch our new-and-improved Stolen Bike Listings, and I’ve got another meeting with the Portland Police Bureau next week. I’m getting together with Central Precinct to hear what they’ve been working on and what additional steps we might take to turn the tables on the thieves.

Stay tuned.

— Read all our bike theft coverage here.

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LEED apartment building lacks cargo bike parking, so family rents an auto space

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 10:07
The apartment building where the DeLaneys live was designed with lots of parking for small bikes but none for the sort that lets families with children live car-free.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When their name came up this year on the waiting list for a rare below-market two-bedroom apartment in one of Williams Avenue’s new apartment buildings, the DeLaney family was thrilled.

It had enough room for their growing family — Bijou, their second daughter, is four months old — and was a short walk to the 35 bus that carries Chris DeLaney to his job at the Bike Gallery in Lake Oswego.

But it lacked something else: a place to park the cargo bike that lets them avoid car ownership and thus afford to live where they do. So, after some negotiation, the DeLaneys are paying $40 a month to park their cargo bike in one of the building’s auto parking spaces.

The standard price for a covered parking unit is $80 per space. But the space they use, right next to the garage exit, was already the building’s least popular for cars, and the DeLaneys think that two or more cargo bikes could fit in the space if a pair of low staples were installed.

As Portland discusses a reform of its bike parking code and the city grapples with the question of whether it can make car-free life a mainstream choice for young families as well as singles and seniors, the DeLaneys’ experience (not to mention the revenue being sacrificed by the underuse of the building’s garage space) is a lesson in the details of modern Portland architecture.

The DeLaneys don’t feel wronged by the situation, and say their apartment management company has been helpful and understanding. Instead, they hope that talking about their situation might help green architects start thinking about the relatively minor changes that’d be required to design buildings for family biking.

“In older buildings there’s nothing,” Chris DeLaney said of bike parking in Portland’s multifamily units. “It’s such a first-world problem, you know. But if you’re choosing to be bike friendly, how are you going to get families on their bikes?”

Erin DeLaney said the cargo bike is the main way she can take her and their daughters Bijou and Octave, 2, to parks, friends’ houses and grocery stores.

“I feel like that’s our happy place where nobody’s screaming,” Erin DeLaney said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘If we can just get to the bike, everything’s going to be OK.’”

But the building’s bike parking, designed to conform to the LEED Gold green building standard, doesn’t have any room for a cargo bike. All the horizontal bike parking is on an eight-inch curb, which is larger than the 100-pound cargo bike can easily be hauled onto by a smaller person. Even if the family did claim the one space at the end of the wave rack, their bakfiets would be blocking every other bike user in the parking area.

As it is, because their bike parking space lacks staples, their bike is secured in the private garage only by being locked to itself.

Parking is only one issue; it’s also hard to get the bike out of the building. Because the cargo bike isn’t large enough to activate the pressure pad that opens the garage exit, they have to either haul their cargo bike up this curb, load it with the children, and then somehow get it through the large swinging door…

…or use their garage door opener to go out through the in door, hoping not to run into conflicts with cars that are entering.

Another car-free family recently moved into the DeLaneys’ hallway and started building a long-tail cargo bike to move their child around. Chris DeLaney said Friday that he hopes that’ll persuade the apartment managers to install staples in the car parking space to permanently convert it to paid cargo bike parking.

Erin DeLaney, who with her husband moved the family from Wyoming to Portland last year in part because they wanted to live car-free in one of the country’s best cities for biking, said all the hassles of the problem have made her appreciate the simplicities of buying a car and living on the edge of the city instead.

“You totally see why that suburban dream has so much appeal,” she said. “And it’s not for me! I don’t want that. But maybe half those people don’t want to do that either.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here. This sponsorship has opened up and we’re looking for our next partner. If interested, please call Jonathan at (503) 706-8804.

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The post LEED apartment building lacks cargo bike parking, so family rents an auto space appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Readers share concerns as Williams Ave traffic spills onto Rodney greenway

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 09:48
The lane redesign isn’t done yet, but the
change is already impacting traffic.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday I got two separate reader emails about the same issue just a few hours apart. Whenever that happens it gets my attention.

In this case, the issue is the increased amount of auto traffic diversion onto NE Rodney as a result of construction and lane configuration changes on Williams Avenue.

Most of you are well-aware by now that the Bureau of Transportation has finally begun construction on the North Williams Safety Project. With the redesign on Williams there is less space for driving and the backups of cars in the past week or so has been a lot worse that usual (and that’s saying something on a long-chaotic stretch of road).

In a press release on October 3rd, PBOT encouraged drivers to use Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd as an alternate route — in part because Rodney is being set-aside as a neighborhood greenway where biking and walking are prioritzed. However, PBOT is well aware that some drivers might still use Rodney to avoid backups on Williams (after all, it’s just two blocks to the east). That’s one reason they installed an auto traffic diverter at N Ivy last month.

But that measure (they’ve also installed speed humps) clearly isn’t enough, at least based on the two emails we received yesterday…

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Here’s the first one:

Hi there,

…. I live off Rodney (close to Russell) and was blown away with the amount of traffic flying through the neighborhood from cars trying to escape the backed up traffic on Williams today around 6pm… the city has done a horrible job with this. I am not sure how Rodney is supposed to be a safe alternative for bikes when not much has been done to make Rodney less attractive to cars. Yes, they put a few speed bumps in and, yes, they put the diverter thing just before Fremont. But, this is not stopping traffic from cutting over between Tillamook and Fremont.

This stretch of Rodney is narrow and not intended for the amount of traffic I saw tonight. Riding it with my 9 year old and impatient, speeding drivers trying to pass is not safe and definitely not inviting to any new riders. Also, try crossing Fremont with a kiddo during traffic – it’s like playing leapfrog. Again, less than fun. I am seriously disappointed/upset in what is happening over here.

Also, what’s with closing a sidewalk just before the crosswalk at NE Stanton?! Walking and biking safely during this project are not a priority for the city it seems.

I could go on and on with the issues I am seeing – no crosswalk enforcement, etc.., but you get the point.

Have a lovely day.

And the second one:

Jonathan. Hey. Would you happen to know very specifically who I can direct a complaint to regarding what seems to me and my gf to be a huge jump in auto traffic on Rodney. She lives on Graham and Rodney. Usually very quiet. But lately it’s insane! I’m pissed!

Anything you might have would be appreciated.

Because these two readers asked — and because I’m sure more people have had similar experiences on Rodney lately — the best person at PBOT to contact about this issue is Project Manager Rich Newlands. He can be reached via email at rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at (503) 823-7780.

PBOT is dealing with similar situations on SE Clinton and Ankeny where the presence of auto traffic is having a negative impact on bicycle access quality.

This is a complicated issue for the city. The rules of diversion have changed now that PBOT has developed more parallel streets into neighborhood greenways with the explicit purpose of moving bicycles through corridors that are simultaneously experiencing a boom in housing and commercial density — all factors that increase street use demands.

Stay tuned for more coverage as we continue to track these issues and share PBOT’s responses and plans to deal with it. In the meantime, please keep us posted with what you experience out there.

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Jobs of the Week

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 08:43

Looking for a job or considering a new endeavor? We’ve got a few great local bike industry opportunities you should consider. Learn more via the links below…


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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. If you’d like more information about the BikePortland Job Listings, contact us, or visit the Job Listings page.

You can sign up for all the latest job listings via RSS, email, or by following us on Twitter.

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