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Comments of the Week: Two readers’ concepts for fixing SE Ankeny at 11th

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:13
Full size below the jump.
(Image by reader Paikiala)

One of the great joys of BikePortland comments is that they make very clear how rich and deep our city’s transportation expertise has become over the last decade.

After we wrote on Thursday about a small tweak the city made recently to the strange six-way intersection of SE Ankeny, 11th and Sandy, not one but two readers created full-color overhead mockups of alternative ways to design this awkward interchange.

The first, by reader sean, is a sort of linear park that would remove auto access for one block (immediately south of what is today a billboard) in order to reimagine “Ankeny as a destination”:

This intersection should be a pedestrian Mecca. Here’s what I would want there:


Then, reader paikiala followed up with the double-roundabout design above:

Nice.
I envisioned a couple of low-speed mini-roundabouts that maintained access for all but the largest of trucks. It is a truck district after all.

Sean, some readers may remember, is also the person who created this terrific rethinking of Northwest Johnson Street using successive blocks of one-way traffic and this potentially prescient look at what it would take to create a full north-south bikeway through the Park Blocks from the Broadway Bridge to Portland State University.

Regular comment readers will know that paikiala is no slouch either.

Portland won’t be building either of these until it can somehow find tens of thousands of dollars to spend on improving the spot. But the reason we believe so deeply in this city is that when it can find both money and political will to improve our streets, a huge reservoir of creativity and talent is going to be unleashed.

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be mailing $5 each to Sean and paikiala in thanks for these great ones. Watch your email!

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Q&A: NYC’s top biking advocate wants you to talk more about death

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 09:50
Paul Steely White at the 2010
National Bike Summit.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Talking about “livable streets” is out; talking about “safe streets” is in.

That’s the advice from Paul Steely White, executive director of the country’s largest local transportation advocacy group. The executive director of New York City-based Transportation Alternatives since 2004, White was a major force behind the city’s emergence as a national leader in reimagining streets as pleasant public spaces.

But as he heads to Portland for a keynote address Monday to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, White is urging his fellow believers in livable streets to readjust their message when talking to politicians and the public. We spoke by phone on Thursday about why and how his organization has put Vision Zero, the campaign to completely eliminate road deaths, at the middle of their message.

Are you on a national Vision Zero tour, or is this a one-off thing?

“It’s coming to terms with the fact that we have tens of thousands of road deaths. It’s a bummer message, but it gets people’s attention.”
— Transalt Executive Director Paul Steely White on Vision Zero

My old friend Rob Sadowsky invited me out to the summit. I tend not to travel much at all lately. I did a lot of traveling a lot of years ago and sort of got it out of my system. There’s so much happening here in New York these days.

What’s something people misunderstand about the New York streets renaissance?

I think we’re trying to get away from livable streets reinassance, livable streets, vitality, etc. All of that stuff is great, but with that frame, with that language you’re still reaching only a certain segment of the population. Safety is a much stronger common denominator.

The best way to be a successful bike advocate is to be a successful Vision Zero advocate. Lowering the speed limit, as we were successful at doing, is going to have as much an impact on New York’s bikeability as anything we’ve done.

That’s interesting. What do you think puts people off about “livable streets”?

I don’t think it puts people off necessarily, but it’s just much harder to activate and communicate with people. I think the portion of the population that is civically engaged and understands all the economics … it’s a longer conversation you have to have with people. Also, I think it hits people in a different place. It’s a hopeful message, but it’s a complicated one. When you’re talking about safety, not only is it really easy to understand what you’re talking about, but it hits people in a really emotional place.


I’m actually sort of a Vision Zero skeptic personally. I realize I’m an outlier in lots of ways, so I’m not representative, but the message of a complete lack of risk just doesn’t resonate with me emotionally. Vision Zero feels to me like it’s a worship of death instead of life. Is that something you ever hear?

That’s often a reaction we get, actually. But I’ll tell you what happens: the very people who have lost loved ones, who are staring death in the face, are the ones who become our most positive advocates. Queens Boulevard, for years people called it the Boulevard of Death. Now they’re talking about it as the Boulevard of Life.

It’s coming to terms with the fact that we have tens of thousands of road deaths. It’s a bummer message, but it gets people’s attention. And if you follow it up really quickly with a solution, as the mayor has I think really well, you can win more battles than not.

We’ve also found that it’s much easier to educate bike people about the advocacy around Vision Zero than it is to activate pedestrians around walking. The bike people are special because we are more engaged than maybe any other constituency out there. We do show up. We write our legislators. We’re proud that we’ve brought Vision Zero to the streets.

What advice do you have about setting the table for politicians to get interested in transportation issues?

For us with Vision Zero, it’s been largely about Families for Safe Streets. I’ve never seen a campaign have so much influence over elected officials in such a sort time as Families for Safe Streets. It’s very difficult for an elected official to deny a mother or father an ear, to not listen to what they have to say.

Whenever politicians talk about Vision Zero, they’re talking about their kids. They’re talking about their role not as politicians but their role as fathers. You’re just hitting a different part of their brain. You’re hitting them right in the heart.

The third step, that we’re just getting to now, is you have seen pedestrian fatalities going down pretty rapidly already. Now we have a virtuous cycle where we can go back to the politicians and say “Thank you for saving these lives.” And then they can take credit for that. Now all of a sudden instead of living in fear, people are now going to Queens Boulevard not because they have to, but because they want to.

Qs & As edited; the views in the Qs above are my own. Paul Steely White will discuss Vision Zero at 8:20 a.m. on Monday, March 30, at the Sentinel Hotel. 614 SW 11th Ave., as part of the Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

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Get ready to climb: Portland’s De Ronde/La Doyenne weekend is coming

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 09:48
In Portland we call this fun.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Rumor has it that Portland’s toughest weekend of cycling is coming up. “De Ronde” and its sister event “La Doyenne” are two unsanctioned road rides that have captured the imagination of thousands of riders (and the media) over the years because of the sheer difficulty of even finishing.

Our secret sources say the Big Weekend for both rides is April 18-19th.

We hope you’ve been training a bit because if you choose to do both you’ll need to climb nearly 15,000 feet over the course of about 100 miles.

Don’t take my word for it, check the elevation charts (yikes)…

De Ronde. La Doyenne

The Ronde PDX, also known as De Ronde Van West Portlandia, started in 2007 and its companion La Doyenne (De Ronde Van Oost Portlandia) was added in 2013.

We’ve covered De Ronde a lot in the past because it happens right here in the West Hills above downtown Portland. This year we wanted to share a bit more about La Doyenne from the guy who started it, 42-year old Andrew Springer.

Follow if you can.

Springer moved to Happy Valley (an unincorporated community southeast of Portland) from Bend in 2008. As soon as he got here, “Friends kept bringing me to the West Hills,” he shared, “to chase the Lions of De Ronde.” Springer is referring to the Lion of Flanders stencil that marks the De Ronde course (the event is inspired by the famous Flemish race Ronde Van Vlaanderen).

While Springer loved the steep West Hills climbs, he thought his local climbs were pretty darn nice too; but he was tired of riding them by himself. “Living in Happy Valley at the time, I was surprised that I rarely saw cyclists on and around Mt Scott, despite the fantastic climbs and close proximity to Portland.”

So Springer modeled La Doyenne as a tribute to De Ronde; “Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery,” he says.

The ride’s popularity has exceeded his wildest expectations. Many of the nearly 1,000 riders at Saturday’s De Ronde do the double and ride La Doyenne the following day.

And then there’s the story about how Springer met the woman of his dreams. After the 2013 La Doyenne, Springer checked the climbing segments on Strava to see how the leaderboards were shaken up. Then something caught his eye: “I kept noticing a particular girl took a lot of QOMs [Queen of the Mountains].” Springer made contact, they went on a bike date, and the rest is history. “We went for a ride together the next week. This past May we were married on top of Mary’s Peak on an 86 mile ride with 7,000 feet of climbing.”

If you plan to do the rides and want to prepare (mentally or physically), check out the routes of De Ronde and La Doyenne via Ride With GPS. On second thought, if you haven’t done the rides yet, you might not want to know what you’re getting into.

If you’ve already done La Doyenne, Springer wants everyone to know that he’s made some important changes to the route this year. The start/finish has been moved to the west side of the Springwater Corridor, making it easier to get to from Portland. He’s also added a few new climbs and improved the flow of the route. He even tells me you can expect some food about half-way through course.

Learn more about this Big Weekend of Fun and Pain at RondePDX.com.

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Q&A: Melissa Wells on everyone’s stake in transportation equity

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 08:34
Melissa Wells, program associate
for the equity think tank PolicyLink.
(Photo via Bicycle Transportation Alliance)

In 25 years, half the U.S. workforce will be of Latino, black or Asian descent — so if you ever plan on having a nurse, you’d better start caring about social equity.

That’s the way Melissa Wells, a program associate at D.C.-based equity nonprofit PolicyLink and co-leader of the national Transportation Equity Caucus, explains every American’s stake in racial justice.

Wells, who’s headed to Portland for a keynote address Monday to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, spoke with me by phone on Thursday about the dilemma of improving neighborhoods without raising rents and whether a new president is likely to roll back federal transportation policy changes.

You’ll be talking about transportation equity on Monday. Could you explain that a little?

Achieving equity is something that has to be done intentionally. A lot of communities, especially low-income communities, communities of color, people with disabilities, aren’t able to take advantage of transportation improvements. We already see the negative impacts in health disparities. Even the pedestrian death rates, they’re much higher in proportion.

What got you personally interested in these issues?

I’m a transportation person now. I come to the work from more of an economic opportunity perspective.

I grew up in Southern California, and especially with all the lovely weather we spent a lot of time outside. There was no fear of cars, you know, speeding past us at 30 mph or faster. Now in Washington DC I live in Northeast. When I leave home every day I walk to the bus stop. Oftentimes the path that I have to take, I notice there are not really sidewalks. Then I get off at Farragut North, and you have designated bike lanes.


I’m on my neighborhood association board here in Portland, and the other day we were talking about a project to create our neighborhood’s first park. We all thought this plan was great, but then one board member who is a renter like me said, “But if we make this nice thing, the rent is just going to go up.” I realize you can mitigate that some by subsidizing housing, but you’ve still got the larger issue, right? How do you pick that lock?

Frankly, city planners have to prioritize accessibility. Transportation-oriented development — a lot of states and regions have these climate change plans. Part of their plan is to preserve a percent of affordable housing within a certain distance. You have to prioritize who you give the land to and you have to designate how this land is supposed to be used.

It seems to me that it’s easy for people, public officials in particular, to smile and nod when they hear about equity and say serious things and promise to think hard about it, and then not actually change anything because they may not be personally excited about the issue. What can get members of a dominant group excited about helping members of other groups?

It’s going to affect us all. In 1980, 80 percent of the U.S. population was white, 12 percent was black, 6 percent was Latino, and Asian was 1.5 percent. By 2040, whites are expected to be 50.9, blacks 13, Latinos 25 percent. Think of it as the share of the workforce. It’s in your best interest to make sure that you have an accessible quality care workforce. Also that they can have transportation.

“You also need to make sure that you’re investing in your communities, because your community is what helps you thrive as well.”
— Melissa Wells on why transportation equity matters

You also need to make sure that you’re investing in your communities, because your community is what helps you thrive as well. We’re all self-interested; you can’t do everything on your own. You need people to stock the shelves at the grocery store.

It’s an argument, and I think it’s compelling, but it still requires people to think.

In terms of getting politicians to act, they want to see the rallying cry, like how the Tea Party was. They were vocal enough and they were able to have a bullhorn. so I think it also requires elevating the issue. It just takes continuing to talk about it, I think.

From your vantage point in Washington, where do you see the federal Department of Transportation going? It seems like Ray LaHood and Anthony Foxx have been pretty committed to changing culture at USDOT. Is that an Obama thing? Is that a Democrat thing? Or is that an institutional thing and it’ll still be there under Scott Walker or whoever?

Will it change? The answer is yes, but how it would change, I couldn’t forecast it. I think we’re in a good direction. There’s just been a lot more coordination and willingness to listen to what’s happening. I haven’t followed this debate as long as others have. But even [1991 federal transportation bill] ISTEA, it prioritized low-income and disadvantaged communities. MAP-21 was weaker, and it happened under Democrats. The best way to advocate for changes is to propose something that’s needed and to show that it’s being implemented, show some successes of where this policy recommendation is taking shape.

Qs & As edited. Melissa Wells will discuss transportation equity at 8:20 a.m. on Monday, March 30, at the Sentinel Hotel. 614 SW 11th Ave., as part of the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. Stay tuned for another Q & A to publish later today with Paul Steely White, executive director of New York City’s Transportation Alternatives.

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Jobs of the Week: Bike Works Seattle, NoPo Bike Works, CCC, eBike Store, Velotech, SoupCycle

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:47

We’ve had six great job opportunities listed this week. Learn more about them via the links below…


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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Weekend Event Guide: Gorge gravel, tandems, photo show, and more

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:35
The Dalles hosts three events this weekend.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

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

The weather looks to be great this and we just so happen to have a stellar line-up to choose from this weekend. Whether you want to roll en masse through the city or dust off your racing legs on some sweet Gorge gravel, there’s an event for you.

Check out the full listing below and have a good weekend!

Friday, March 27th

Western Bikeworks Tigard Grand Opening – 5:00 to 9:00 pm at 7295 SW Dartmouth Ave in Tigard
Help Western Bikeworks celebrate their gorgeous new location with free beer, food and live music. Custom bike builder Bob Parlee of Parlee Cycles will also be speaking. More info here (FB).

Endless Summer Sunset Ride – 7:30 pm at Salmon St Fountain
Revel in the perfect cycling weather with a good, old-fashioned group bike ride with fellow fun-loving bikers. More info here.

Saturday, March 28th

Gorge Roubaix – Saturday and Sunday in The Dalles
Ready to race? The folks behind the Gorge Roubaix have two days of racing for you. Day one is a spectacular course (I did it last year!) that will give you unparalleled views of the Columbia River Gorge, a jaunt up the famous Rowena Curves, and much more. Day two gets dirtier when you’ll go east of The Dalles and into the tough farm roads that are sure to test your mettle. More info here.

Free Bike Maintenance Class – 10:00 am at Pedal PT (2622 SE 25th Ave)
This week’s class will focus on brakes. Aaron Michalson from Left Coast Bicycles will offer a free, instructive and interactive class. Expect lots of learning, free coffee and treats (if you get there early!). RSVP to reserve a spot. More info here (FB).

Women’s MTB Skills Clinic – 10:00 am to 12:30 pm at Stub Stewart State Park (Hilltop Day Use Area)
Join professional coaches from Wenzel Coaching and learn a range of mountain bike skills. Class is geared toward beginner through advanced riders and will focus on relaxation techniques, proper body position and visual skills, braking, cornering, and more. Cost is $35 and you’ll need an OBRA license. On-site registration accepted. More info here.

Try a tandem at Tabor.
(Photo: Santana)

**Featured Listing***
Santana Tandems Demo Day – 10:30 am to 3:30 pm at Mt. Tabor Park Picnic Area A (SE 60th and Salmon)
West End Bikes is hosting Santana, one of the best tandem brands in the world, for a special test-ride event in Portland. Expect fun rides, expert tandem advice, coffee a picnic lunch, and a sneak peek at three prototype tandem models. More info here (FB).

Biking About Architecture – 12:00 to 3:00 pm at NE Alberta and 23rd (food carts)
Jenny Fosmire and her merry band of architecture buffs will pedal up the ridge to explore the dwelling delights of the Alameda and Irvington neighborhoods. More info here.

John Watson Photo Exhibition – 7:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd Ave)
Mr. Watson, the excellent bike photographer behind “The Radavist,” will share images from his recent trip to New Zealand. Also check out Velo Cult’s cool new display tables and enjoy food from Chris King head chef Chris Diminno. More info here.

Sunday, March 29th

Gorge Gravel Grinder – 10:00 am at Clock Tower Ales in The Dalles (311 Union St)
You’ve heard about the great riding in The Dalles, this is the weekend to explore it for yourself. Chose from a 48 or 75-mile course that will take you on a combination of gravel and paved roads into the gorgeous country outside The Dalles. More info here.

Neighborhood Greenways Tour – 1:00 to 3:00 pm at Ladd Circle (SE 16th and Harrison)
Want to learn more how bike-priority streets have been impacted by new development? Join experts from the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee for a tour of SE Clinton, the 50s Bikeway, SE Ankeny and more. This ride is a free “Mobile Workshop” and part of the Oregon Active Transportation Summit that starts on Monday. More info here.

Bike The Billboards – 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm at KEEN Garage (515 SW 13th Ave)
Join Boaz Frankel and Phillip Ross, the zany personalities behind the Pedal Powered Talk Show for a short, family friendly bike ride. They’ll be stopping at their awesome new billboards and “includes a few surprises along the way.” First 50 people get a free t-shirt. More info here (FB).

— Did we miss anything? Let us know via the comments and make sure to drop us a line if you have an upcoming event you’d like us to feature next week.



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Velo Cult’s new displays bring U.S.-made products to the table

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:43
(Photos courtesy Velo Cult Bike Shop and Tavern)


Portland’s beloved “bike shop and tavern” Velo Cult has given us yet another excuse to stop in and hang out. This Saturday they’ll debut a unique way of displaying lust-worthy bike parts: tables that are topped in glass and feature components from domestic brands mere inches from your pint glass.

The idea behind for the tables came from Sky Boyer, Velo Cult’s owner. “We have so much bicycle history on display at the shop, it just made sense to find way to extend it to the bar itself.”

Boyer built the tables himself and filled them with components from his favorite domestic manufacturers. “Some are a modern representation of the brand, while others shine a light on the past, highlighting parts from the birth of the mountain bike era.”

And of course the parts are worth staring at. “If it’s drool worthy to us, then it’s gonna be on display,” he added. It’s all Boyer’s way of sharing his bike love and making his shop a fun and interesting place to be. “For us the atmosphere comes first, we want the shop to be as much fun to hang out in as possible.”

Here are a few more pics…


Brands currently represented in the tables include:

  • Paul Components
  • Phil Wood Co.
  • Chris King
  • Thompson
  • Curtis Odom
  • White Industries
  • Wolf Tooth Components
  • Gevenalle

Velo Cult is having a big party on Saturday to debut the tables. Also on display will be photographs by the inimitable John Watson, author and photographer behind The Radavist. Check out the event flyer below!

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Rodney Avenue neighborhood greenway gets open house next week

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:07
NE Rodney at Ivy.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Rodney Avenue, already a decent low-stress alternative to the Vancouver-Williams couplet, is lined up for an upgrade to full neighborhood greenway status.

At an open house next Wednesday evening, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will be asking people for their thoughts on the plans.

To make the route comfortable for all riders, the city will need to find good ways to help people navigate two jogs in the street grid, at NE Alberta and NE Fremont (pictured below).


It’ll also be important to control cut-through traffic. Last fall, responding to worries about commuters driving on Rodney to avoid Williams Avenue construction, the city installed a temporary diverter. But people have repeatedly chosen to drive directly through the barrier rather than following the rules there.

The city later installed metal-pole signs to block moves like this, but some people have driven around those, too.

The event is 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1 in the Immaculate Heart Church at 2926 N Williams Ave. For more information, contact Project Manager Rich Newlands at (503) 823-7780 or Rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov.

For more background on this project browse our Rodney Neighborhood Greenway story archive.

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City removes portion of N Rosa Parks bike lane to allow right turns

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:57
It used to be a bike lane.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is trying out a new bike lane treatment on North Rosa Parks Way that they hope will lessen the risks of right-hook collisions.

A few weeks ago I noticed the bike lane on Rosa Parks (which was just installed in 2011) as it approaches Albina had been ground off about 50-feet from the intersection. In what used to be a parking lane and bicycle-only lane, PBOT has placed sharrow markings and a right-turn arrow.

The approach to this intersection used to offer dedicated, legally-binding right-of-way for bicycle users. Now it’s a shared environment where right-turning auto users and bicycle users (either going straight or turning right) mix together.

This isn’t the only place in town where PBOT has installed a “mixing zone” (NW Everett and NE Multnomah have them), but this is the first instance I’m aware of where an existing bike lane was removed and replaced with this treatment.


A few weeks ago the person in that white Volvo would have been breaking the law.

This is a major change to how PBOT treats bike lanes at intersections, so I called around to find out what spurred the new design and whether or not this is something we might be seeing more of.

Turns out this change started via a citizen complaint made to the 823-SAFE hotline. The complaint was fielded by PBOT Traffic Engineer Carl Snyder. In a phone interview, Snyder shared that he ran the complaint by one of PBOT’s bike experts, long-time employee Jeff Smith, and the two of them came up with this design solution.

“Part of me really feels that this is just codifying illegal right turns and puts people on bikes in greater danger.”
— Noah Brimhall, nearby resident

According to Snyder the problem at this intersection was with auto users who would illegally drive over the bike lane prior to the intersection and use the bike lane and/or parking lane to make their right turn. (Oregon law requires that when a bicycle lane is present, drivers must stay out of the bike lane until the intersection.)

This is a scenario that Snyder acknowledges PBOT has “struggled with” for many years (and that’s definitely true). Some people prefer the California example of encouraging auto users to pull into the bike lane prior to the intersection to make a turn, thus reducing the risk of right hooks.

“It’s not a perfect design,” Snyder told us, “but we’ve tried this in some other places and the results are mixed.”

It comes down to where to you want drivers to cross your path; somewhere prior to the intersection or at a known spot in the intersection. Another consideration is that if someone is in a standard lane waiting for a bicycle lane to clear, they are holding up other drivers who want to go straight.

Snyder described scenarios at this intersection of people simultaneously turning right from both lanes (the thru lane and the parking/bike lane). “It’s a problem not just for bikes but for cars too,” he said.

I’m surprised to see PBOT doing this type of design because in the past they have defended the Oregon style bike lane. The thinking is that drivers need to respect the bike lane at all times and by creating some locations where people can drive in them sends a mixed message.

A benefit of this new shared design, Snyder says, is that it’s more clear where the conflict point exists.

There’s no relevant history of collisions at this intersection and it has relatively low vehicle volumes.

Noah Brimhall lives nearby and is the former transportation chair of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association. He says he has, “really mixed feelings about these changes.”

Here’s more from Brimhall:

“I know that before the change folks driving cars regularly turned right from Rosa Parks on to Albina from the bike lane and I found this really annoying and dangerous. One could make the argument that this is a way to make folks driving cars aware of the presence of people on bikes and make sure they know to share this space, but part of me really feels that this is just codifying illegal right turns and puts people on bikes in greater danger. It also feels like a further dilution of the sharrow and it seems like transport agencies are just using the sharrow in every possible situation where a bike could be on a road, but they don’t feel like (or can’t) actually put in a dedicated facility for people on bikes.”

Snyder acknowledged that prior to the change, people in cars were “not doing what they were supposed to do” and it’s his hope that the new design better clarifies those movements.

He added that this is not going to become a new standard treatment but that they’ll monitor how it works. How does Snyder think the design will work? “I think the jury’s out.”

Have you ridden this new mixing zone on Rosa Parks (or elsewhere)? What do you think?

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Oregon House Rep gives up on mandatory reflective clothing bill

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 11:16
Rep. John Davis.

Oregon House Representative John Davis has changed his mind about how best to improve the safety of bicycling.

Davis made headlines around the state last month when he introduced H.B. 3255, a bill that would require all Oregonians who ride a bicycle at night to wear refelctive clothing. Davis’ clothing mandate garnered considerable media attention and resulted in an “action alert” from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who urged their members to help stop the bill.

A hearing for the bill was scheduled for March 30th in Salem.

Now he says he’s changing course and the bill will no longer include any language about reflective clothing.


Here’s a message from Davis’ legislative director that a commenter shared a earlier today (emphases mine):

Thank you for taking the time to contact Representative Davis and for sharing your views regarding HB3255 relating to bicycles. Rep. Davis appreciates hearing about issues that matter to you and you can be confident that he reads each email personally.

HB3255 bill will not be moving forward in its original form, and will have nothing to do with reflective clothing. The bill will be amended to fully delete its original language, and only require a red light to be visible from the rear of the bicycle at night. This is an amendment to the existing law for bicycle equipment requirements, ORS 815.280 (http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.280). Current law already requires a rear reflector at night.

Attached are the amendments that will be considered at Monday’s hearing. Again, the original bill and its requirements will not be moving forward and will not be considered.

Again, thank you for reaching out to our office.

When we spoke to Rep. Davis on the phone last month he said he had support for the mandatory clothing idea from “a number of cyclists and a number of my constituents.” He saw the idea as nothing more than a fair balance of responsibility of road users — whether they are on a bike or in a car. “We all use the road and we all need to be using it safely together,” he said.

Expanding the lighting requirement on bikes is a great idea. Current Oregon law only requires a front light and a rear reflector that can be seen from 600 feet away. Mandating a rear light would improve visibility and it’s already the best practice for anyone who takes cycling seriously.

We’ve reached out to Davis’ office to see the amendments for ourselves and ask why they dropped the reflective clothing idea. We’ll update this story when we hear back.

UPDATE: Here’s the amended bill (PDF) with the new language about the rear light requirement.

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Where growth went: How different cities answered America’s urban rebound

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 10:39
The orange line shows Portland-area housing patterns in 1990; the brown line shows it in 2012.
(All images: UVA Demogaphics Research Group) Want to sponsor this great column? Get in touch.

If affordable proximity is one of the keys to great bike cities, understanding Portland’s biking boom means understanding its urban development decisions 20 years ago.

To see how our metro area grew, it’s useful to see how dramatically different things have gone down in different U.S. cities. A fascinating new website from the University of Virginia gives us a new way of looking at exactly that.

The chart above shows Portland at two key moments in American urban life: the orange line for 1990, when urban crime levels were near their peak and many central cities were seen as charity cases for their suburbs; and the brown line for 2012, when the economic boom of some U.S. cities was accelerating the country out of recession.

Downtown Portland is on the very left of the chart, with most of its bike-friendly grid within the first 5 miles. Outer suburbs like Ridgefield, Forest Grove, Newburg and Troutdale, 25 miles out, are on the right.

As you can see above, Portland’s inner suburbs — Gresham, Tigard, Beaverton, east Vancouver — have absorbed a huge share of growth in housing units since then, but closer-in neighborhoods have added quite a bit too, especially right around the six-mile-out Interstate 205 loop. At about 15 miles, you can see Portland’s famous urban growth boundary batten down the growth hatch.

Compare that to Seattle:

Notice that the scales on both axes are different. Seattle sprawls far further, and due in part to Washington’s more porous urban boundaries, new growth is more evenly distributed throughout.

Now for the fun part: let’s look at different cities around the country. The patterns vary wildly.

Low-rent sprawl: The sun-belt boomtowns

All these cities have more or less prevented big housing price increases despite rapid population gains … but are, instead, sprawling vastly, pouring billions into rapidly expanding freeway systems and driving up their residents’ transportation costs. Their central cities, meanwhile, have seen next to zero growth.

Here’s Raleigh:

Phoenix:

Houston:

Austin:

And Charlotte:

Locked in amber: The pricey coastal capitals

These are the cities where rents have really soared. That’s happened most famously, maybe, in San Francisco, and the chart here is particularly revealing. There’s actually been quite a lot of housing development in the very heart of San Francisco proper. It’s SF’s outer neighborhoods and especially its suburbs that have allowed almost zero new housing despite the soaring regional economy:


Los Angeles’s housing stock has been nearly untouched by 20 years of regional population growth, especially downtown:

The inner-ring suburbs of San Jose have grown a little more, but not nearly as much as their economy and workforce have since 1990.

Boston, by contrast, has seen its only significant housing growth in outer suburbs:

And Washington D.C. is even moreso, with the central city changing little despite a booming economy but the suburbs growing quite a bit:

Finally, New York City has seen a fair bit of development at about five miles out (note the much higher scale on the left axis) but almost none anywhere else in its vast metro area:

Inner-ring growth: The healthy heartland

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver and Salt Lake City are three cities that have, like Portland and Seattle, managed big economic gains without abandoning their central cities or (compared to California, Boston or New York, at least) experiencing crippling housing price spikes.

Here are the Twin Cities, treated as a unit. More of their growth has landed in inner suburbs than Portland’s, but at least it’s had somewhere to land:

Denver’s history has been similar:

And Salt Lake City’s, though it’s seen more sprawl:

Stasis and decline: The Rust Belt

Here’s Pittsburgh, a city that I loved to visit but has had some rough decades. Its central city has actually lost occupied housing units, especially a few miles out:

The story is similar in Detroit:

Chicago, the capital of the Midwest and one of its relative success stories, hasn’t seen much decline, its outer suburbs are absorbing quite a lot of growth, and its very close-in neighborhoods are filling up:

There are other combinations here: prosperous Corn Belt cities like Indianapolis or Des Moines, struggling East Coast metros like Providence or New Haven. But the more you look at, the more Portland’s chart up at the top stands out. Our urban growth boundary (including the fuzzier but still functional one in Clark County, Washington) hasn’t stifled growth; it’s directed it, mostly to the inner suburbs.

But things have been changing. For the fourth year in a row, the Census Bureau reported Thursday, Multnomah County added more residents than any of its suburbs.

Over 20 years, the Portland area has mostly kept up with wave after wave of demand for suburban homes. Will its central city be able to do the same?

— 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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Another use for green? City adds bike refuges at SE Ankeny/Sandy/11th

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 08:23
Looking southwest down SE Sandy Boulevard from Ankeny, Sandy and 11th.

One of Portland’s weirder intersections has a new splash of color.

As part of its repaving project on inner Southeast Ankeny — which has, for the record, greatly improved the ride between SE 11th and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard — the city has added some interesting and potentially useful new features to the six-way intersection of Ankeny, Sandy and 11th.

This is not only a crossing for people headed east-west on the Ankeny/Couch/Davis greenway, it’s also the point where folks headed up SE 7th/Sandy either continue north toward the 12th Avenue bridge into the Lloyd District and Northeast Portland or else turn east/west. It’s also where people headed into Southeast turn from Ankeny onto 11th Avenue (an underrated biking street if you ask me).

Because of the difficulty of anticipating the numerous turning patterns, this is probably the single most annoying intersection I use frequently myself. I’ve often ended up taking the crosswalks, even though they’re slightly out of direction, because people in cars are more likely to yield to me.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has made an effort to guide people on bikes more directly through the intersection by marking in green a pair of refuge zones next to the median that divides Sandy at this point. The suggestion seems to be that people bike across the intersection in two distinct stages, waiting in the middle as needed.

Looking west toward inner SE Ankeny.

You can also see another new feature here, which seems to be intended specifically for people heading northeast on Sandy and turning east onto Ankeny. It’s a green-striped crossbike that marks a bike’s path across the narrow neck of 11th Avenue:

The white-striped turn section has been marked for years, but the green color treatment is new — presumably to catch the attention of people entering 11th from the north, perhaps with multiple vehicles obstructing their view of anyone riding up the Sandy hill.

This is an interesting pair of treatments in part because it includes two different ways Portland, and the United States in general, has been using green pavement coloring.

The refuges are green in the sense of “safe for bikes to stop here,” like an intersection bike box.

The crossbike, meanwhile, is green in the sense of “all users take caution – potential bike/car conflicts.” In addition to crossbikes, you can also see this at some mixing zones, like the one at SE Division and 60th.

There’s a third use of green as well: solid green bike lanes, like those on SW Stark and Oak, that emphasize that people shouldn’t drive there.

Some people don’t like that green pavement has come to mean such different things in different contexts. Others think that as long as it gets the basic point across — heads up, bikes nearby — the finer details are less important. I’m not sure where I come down, but I’ll be looking forward to seeing if these new markings improve my crossing experience.

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Yet another right hook on Broadway

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 12:53
The scene this morning at N Broadway and Ross.
(Photo: Noel Mickelberry)

Today we suffered yet another right-hook collision on Broadway, a street has been plagued by right-hooks from downtown to the east side for many years. This morning’s collision was at the intersection with N. Ross which is just one block west of Wheeler, a street that was so right-hook prone former Mayor Sam Adams closed it to right turns two years ago.

In fact, just four months after Wheeler was closed we reported on a right-hook at the exact location of this morning’s collision. It has happened again and it will probably continue to happen until changes are made on Broadway.


Around 10:00 am this morning we heard from a reader who witnessed the collision. Here’s what Noel Mickelberry (who happens to be the executive director of Oregon Walks) shared with us via email:

“Just saw the aftermath of a right hook collision on Broadway and Ross. Person on bike was taken away in an ambulance but was able to walk… This stretch of Broadway is super dangerous (Oregon Walks office is across the street), as you know with the closure of Wheeler – is Ross now the new problem intersection? Red car in the photo is the one who hit the person on a bike – in the bike lane.”

Here’s the streetview:

We’ve checked in with the Portland Police to learn more details, but have yet to hear back. (Note that right turns are illegal only for trucks at this location.)

We also got a call this morning from Betsy Reese, a dedicated community safety advocate who used to own the Paramount Apartments one block away from the collision. “This is a problem we’ve been concerned about,” she said. Thankfully, because of Reese’s dogged persistence, the Oregon Department of Transportation is slated to make some safety improvements around this area; but so far there is no fix on the table that would address the right-hook potential on Ross and other intersections.

It’s extremely frustrating that after many years of knowing that right-hooks are a serious problem in Portland, thousands of people are being left at risk every single day on streets with inadequate bikeway designs.

For a city that says it cares about bicycle safety and “Vision Zero,” the inherently dangerous design of Broadway should no longer be tolerated. We don’t lack solutions, we lack the political will and sense of urgency to implement them.

I’m sick of writing these stories. Portlanders deserve better than this.

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Reflective clothing mandate, other bike bills up for hearing in Oregon house – UPDATED

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 08:24
One bill would ban nighttime biking
without reflective clothing.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon’s biggest legislative session for bike-related issues in years will come to its first peak on Monday, but many biking advocates have a prior engagement.

Awkwardly, five separate bills that could make big differences for biking will get hearings in Salem on the same day that dozens of Oregon biking leaders and professionals are scheduled to gather in Portland for the annual Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

The bills to be tackled include HB 3255, which would ban nighttime bike use for people not wearing reflective clothing; SB 533 A, which would permit someone on a bike or motorcycle to proceed through an unresponsive red light after a full cycle; HB 2621, which would let Portland issue speeding tickets on its high-crash corridors using unmanned photo radar; HB 3035, which allows school-zone warning lights to flash all day, rather than just at the start and end, for schools whose campuses straddle 45 mph+ streets; and SJR 16, which would refer a bill to the voters in 2016 that would allow car-related taxes and fees to be spent on off-road transportation projects.

The first four bills will be considered by the state House’s Committee On Transportation and Economic Development at 3 p.m. Monday in Room HR E of the Oregon State Capitol. The fifth will be held by the Senate Committee on Business and Transportation in Room HR B at 1 p.m.


Agenda

The agendas were announced Monday morning. Today, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance plans to circulate an action alert to its members urging them to travel to Salem and/or contact legislators in opposition to HB 3255, the mandatory reflective clothing bill.

Kransky said he heard about the schedule after getting a “rare invitation” from ODOT official Mac Lynde to field the transportation committee’s questions about reflective clothing for 20 minutes.

“Mac assured me that he tried to persuade the committee that he and his staff and the people they want to testify will be at the AT [Active Transportation] Summit in Portland, to no avail,” said Kransky, who nonetheless accepted the invitation and will be skipping the summit that he spends much of his year planning. “I’m pretty sure the legislators doing this know it is bad timing.”

Until 2013, the Active Transportation Summit was actually held in Salem and combined with a legislative lobby day. Last year, the event moved to Portland.

UPDATE, 11:09 am: This committee has just added and “Informational Meeting regarding the Status Report on Bicycles” to the 3/30 hearing (that will pull even more advocates/staff away from Portland conference):

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Introducing BikePortland’s new column: Biking as subversion

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 14:40

Please join us in welcoming a new regular contributor to the site: Taz Loomans. Taz, a Portlander whose writing you may have seen on Atlantic Cities, Inhabitat or her own site BloomingRock.com, will be taking the delicious title of BikePortland’s subversiveness columnist. She’ll be approaching that from many angles, but we suggested she start things rolling with a bit about herself.
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The world didn’t want me to bike. Biking was for men, for recreation, or for poor people, but definitely not a mode of transportation for a woman.

That is the message I got from my parents when I started to ride my bike in Phoenix. My dad was born and raised in Tanzania and my mom was raised in Mozambique. We are Muslim Indians by origin. Both my parents come from places where only poor people bike, and even then, women aren’t among them.

Riding a bike became about more than just subverting the way modern life in my city was designed around cars, it also became about transcending some of the ethnic cultural taboos I grew up with.

I started riding a bike for transportation for a lot of the same reasons other people ride, for the environment and to get exercise. As an architect, I was also fascinated with the way I experienced the city in a different way than I did using a car. Plus, I thought that commuting by bike was cool and it held an air of freedom that seemed appealing. I suppose it was freedom from the norm around me in Phoenix, which was living out in the burbs and sitting in traffic for hours.

But riding a bike became about more than just subverting the way modern life in my city was designed around cars, it also became about transcending some of the ethnic cultural taboos I grew up with.

When I looked into the taboo of women riding bikes in some cultures, I found that bike riding was completely banned in Saudi Arabia for women until recently, when women were allowed to ride in restricted recreation areas — and only for entertainment,not for transportation. It is funny, because that was one of the point my parents raised: bike riding seems OK for fun, but not to get around.

So I looked into it some more and found out that the taboo of women riding bikes exists in parts of Iran and Turkey as well, where conservative religious scholars are espousing a different kind of bike technology that would make it more onerous for women to ride a bike. They are looking to build the “Islamic bicycle,” which comes with a boxy contraption designed to hide the lower part of a woman’s body.


Women are allowed to bike for transportation in Iran, but they are required to dress modestly, which entails strict dress codes that include not showing any part of your body except your face, hands and feet. This makes women nervous to ride, as it is almost impossible to ensure that some part of your body won’t become exposed due to a possible breeze.

Every time I get on my bicycle, there is an extra part of me that exults.

In Pakistan, women who straddle a bicycle or motorcycle seat are shamed as morally-loose women and are culturally discouraged from riding these vehicles, unless they are passengers in the back with both legs off to one side. And the few brave women who ride bikes in Afghanistan are routinely harassed by men passing by and are told that they are bringing shame to their families. Recently, a group of Afghani women formed the Women’s National Cycling Team of Afghanistan aiming to participate in the 2020 Olympics. They have garnered both ridicule and actual threats to their lives and intense admiration among some Afghanis and people around the world.

My family has lived in the United States for over 30 years now, which is almost all of my life. And it is true that the extreme restrictions and taboo against women riding bikes in other countries has only showed up as a minor protest from my mom and dad, who were, though disappointed in my choice, not vehemently against me riding a bike for transportation. After five years of my doing so, my parents have come to accept this part of who I am and have come to understand that there is nothing untoward for a woman to ride a bicycle for transportation.

And every time I get on my bicycle, there is an extra part of me that exults at knowing that I am eschewing traditional views about women doing something physical and “sporty” that is usually relegated to men, even though I live in a country where this is nothing remarkable.

Taz Loomans is an architect and a writer who lives in Portland. Check out her blog at BloomingRock.com and stay tuned for her next installment here on BikePortland.

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Bike theft ‘kingpin’ admits crime to local TV reporter

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 13:59

KGW, Portland’s NBC affiliate station, is the latest local media outlet to take a closer look at Portland’s bike theft problem.

KGW Reporter Nina Mehlhaf took a deep dive into the issue. Her story, Chop Shops: Suspects stockpile bikes at homeless camps aired on the news last night and is now available on their website.

The focus of the story was a man named Leroy Parsons. Mr. Parsons is well-known among local police officers for his love of bikes. The only problem is he sometimes loves bikes that don’t belong to him. He’s been referred to as “the kingpin” of bike theft in downtown Portland and his mugshot is on a hot-list that PPB officers share with local bike shops. Last night KGW reported that, “Parsons has been convicted of 15 felonies and 22 misdemeanors for methamphetamine, stolen bikes, and burglary, among other charges.”

Mehlhaf and her crew got some up-close and candid footage of Parsons, who didn’t seem to mind the cameras at all. Then, just when I thought he’d claim completele innocence when asked if he was a bike thief, he cracked. Parsons looked right into the camera and offered a pretty stunning contradiction and confession:

I’m no legal expert, but I can’t help but wonder if such a bold admission of guilt could be used against by the DA the next time the cops catch him with a stolen bike.

Check out the story at KGW.com.

Stay tuned for some big news about our Bike Theft Task Force in the next few days. Oh, and while Mr. Parsons is still free, the PPB recently arrested another one of the most prolific downtown bike thieves. We’ll have that story soon.

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‘Bike Week’ is start of something big in outer east Portland

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 12:49
There’s reason for hope.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

This week is Bike Week in east Portland’s Rosewood neighborhood and it’s also the launch of the much-needed cycling spark that east Portlanders have been waiting for.

As we learned first-hand back in June, once you cross over I-205 on a bike everything changes. There are no longer bike shops on every other corner, the streets feel a lot less welcoming, and you suddenly feel like a fish with no school to swim with.

“Coming to Portland and seeing the rich amount of bike resources in the central city, and taking advantage of those resources myself on a daily basis, I was struck by the fact that those resources were fairly lacking in east Portland.”
— Matt Martin, director of Rosewood Bikes

Rosewood Bikes, a new community bike shop and advocacy organization that will open its doors for the first time tomorrow, hopes to change that. The new shop is part of a growing movement in east Portland to create the kind of cultural infrastructure that’s essential to making a place bike-friendly.

46-year-old Matt Martin is the director of Rosewood Bikes. He moved to Portland four years ago from Omaha, Nebraska where he ran the Community Bike Project. In a phone interview this morning, Martin, who has a background interest in equity and social justice issues, said opening up a similar bike shop in east Portland was a “no-brainer.”

“Coming to Portland and seeing the rich amount of bike resources in the central city, and taking advantage of those resources myself on a daily basis,” Martin said, “I was struck by the fact that those resources were fairly lacking in east Portland.”

Bike Farm, a non-profit bike shop in northeast Portland, donated several bins of parts to help Rosewood Bikes get off the ground.
(Photo: Rosewood Bikes)

Martin did a lot of research before charting his course. He did consulting work for the Community Cycling Center, some contract projects with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and is now working part-time at Citybikes Co-op. He also learned about the work currently being done in east Portland by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (co-organizers of Rosewood’s Bike Week), PBOT, Bike Farm, the CCC, and others. “It’s not that they don’t want to do more in east Portland,” he explained, “there’s just so much work to do and everyone has limited capacity.”

Matt Martin, director of
Rosewood Bikes

What Martin hopes to provide this neighborhood that’s further away from downtown Portland than Vancouver Washington, is a sense of permanence. “There have been good, one-off efforts to do bike stuff in east Portland, but nothing had ever been of a solid, ongoing, and continuing nature out there. It just seemed to me like a fertile area for activity.”

He was drawn specifically to Rosewood because the work they’ve already done around bikes. The Rosewood Initiative won a $1,000 grant last winter to install a bike oasis at their location on SE Stark at 160th. The oasis gives locals access to basic tools, parts, and volunteers to keep their bikes running smoothly. The Rosewood Initiative has also partnered with with the Community Cycling Center and hosted several well-attended bike safety events put on by the Portland Police Bureau.

On Wednesday (3/25), Martin will open up a pop-up shop inside The Rosewood Initiative Community Center. With donated tools, workstands, and bicycles he’ll offer a free bike repair workshop from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. The event will kickoff weekly open shop fix-it nights and will provide Rosewood Bikes with a place to flap their wings.

Martin hopes to find a permanent location for his shop by mid-to-late summer where he can expand his organization and take it to the next level. Ultimately, he hopes to make Rosewood Bikes a “center of bike activities” including classes, advocacy opportunities, employment training, youth mentorship programs and more.

Look for the Rosewood Bikes table at Sunday Parkways East Portland this May and stay tuned for their fundraising campaign to launch in the coming months.

- RosewoodBikes.org, Facebook, Twitter

Bike Week is organized by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Rosewood Initiative. Check out the flyer below (PDF here):

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Bikes, a perfectly normal part of growth in Portland’s Central Eastside

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 08:52
Parking garage at the Central Eastside Lofts.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Since we’ve taken some shots at Oregonian news coverage lately, it’s worth highlighting a moment of bike-friendly perceptiveness in their coverage.

Sunday’s cover story was the second in the paper’s occasional series about Portland’s changing Central Eastside, an “industrial sanctuary” that’s gradually been adding more office workers and, at the developing Burnside Bridgehead, several big apartment buildings.

The first installment, back in January, included some interesting perspective of what it feels like to run a truck-dependent business facing the Taylor Street neighborhood greenway. This weekend’s focused specifically on the food industry, and mentioned bicycles in the most casual way possible.

Stumptown, a relative newcomer, moved in 2012 to its headquarters in a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that previously housed a lumber yard and a computer-repair shop.

Within a few blocks are other coffee roasters, five distilleries, a half-dozen wine companies and at least two breweries. That might seem a disadvantage — customers don’t have to go out of their way to visit a competitor, and workers can decide to hang their bicycle elsewhere.

But Ricci said the creation of a fluid workforce is an advantage of being in close quarters with competitors and compatriots. There’s a large experienced workforce to draw upon. And the competition, he says, makes firms experiment and innovate.

Portland economist Joe Cortright called it a prime example of a thriving business cluster, a group of related businesses that shares workforce skills, suppliers and customers — and a neighborhood.


Did you blink and miss that? That was a bicycle commute being presented, with zero fanfare, as such a matter-of-fact activity that a bike can serve as a synecdoche for a job.

Best of all, the mini-metaphor is appropriate. Bike commuting is a huge part of the Central Eastside. Even back in 2006-2010, the most recent years for which workplace data is available, the Census-estimated bike-commute rate into the area was 6.3 percent, the highest for any employment-zoned part of the region. By now, it wouldn’t be a surprise if one in 10 Central Eastside workers arrived by bicycle as their primary mode. Many more workers than that surely bike in occasionally during the warm-weather months.

As one of the Central Eastside’s leading developers told us in 2013, bike access for workers is a major reason companies want to move to the area. Every time an institution like The Oregonian acknowledges that reality with a turn of phrase, bicycling becomes a little less exotic to the people reading it, and a little more like what it actually is: one of several standard options for moving around your city.

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River View bike ban: NW Trail Alliance takes legal action against City of Portland – UPDATED

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 23:08

The Portland-based non-profit Northwest Trail Alliance has decided to take legal action in response to the City of Portland’s decision to ban bicycling in the River View Natural Area. Yesterday, the group filed a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (PDF).

In a letter to their 1,000 members explaining why they’ve taken this step, the Northwest Trail Alliance Board of Directors said they “strongly believe” the decision published in a March 2nd memo by Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish was made, “in the absence of due process and without any rational basis for exclusion.”

“… the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has led the board to believe that the next right step is to take legal action.”
- Kelsey Cardwell, Northwest Trail Alliance board president

“Citing only a vague ‘abundance of caution,’” the letter states, “the commissioners sidestepped the planning process initiated in 2013. Subsequent communications provided by the commissioners fail to address our questions and concerns.”

In a press release, NWTA Board President Kelsey Cardwell made it clear that she’d much rather work with the city and not have to file an appeal, but the way this decision has been handled by Fritz and Fish has left them no other choice. “For years we have worked with the city in good faith,” she wrote, “and we would much rather continue in that partnership to resolve this issue. However, the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has led the board to believe that the next right step is to take legal action.”

The initial paperwork to file the intent to appeal has cost $400 so far. To help them wade through the complicated land-use appeal process, the NWTA has hired lawyer Aaron Berne of Harris Berne Christensen LLP.


A protest ride in River View on March 16th drew over 300 people.
(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland)

From here, the City of Portland has 21 days to deliver “the record of local proceeding” to LUBA. This record should contain all the information the City used to inform their decision. If necessary, the NWTA would then have 14 days to question or object to the contents of the record and the City would get another 14 days to respond. Once the record has been settled and received by LUBA, the NWTA would have three weeks to submit their official petition and the City of Portland gets twice that long to file their brief. After hearing oral arguments from both sides, LUBA would then make a final decision.

The ultimate LUBA finding will take one of three forms: An approval of the city’s decision, a reversal of it, or a “remand” of the decision where they’d send it back to the city for further consideration.

It’s unlikely LUBA would issue a reversal in this case because no clear violation of law or breach of jurisdiction has taken place. A remand, or a “do-over,” makes much more sense. According to the land-use experts at 1000 Friends of Oregon, here are some situations where LUBA would remand a case:

“LUBA will also remand a decision if the local government fails to follow proper procedures to such an extent that the failure ‘prejudiced the substantial rights of the Petitioner.’

LUBA will remand a decision that is not ‘supported by substantial evidence in the whole record.’ This means that LUBA will send a decision back to the local government if (1) there was virtually no evidence to support the decision, or (2) the supporting evidence was so undermined by other evidence that it was unreasonable for the local government to decide as it did.”

In the River View case, the NWTA does seem to have had their rights violated. They were led all along to believe that bicycling would be allowed in the 146-acre parcel, only to be blindsided by the commissioners’ decision. As we’ve reported, even members of the Parks Board were unaware of the bike ban. One member, Jim Owen, was so disturbed by it that he asked Parks Director Mike Abbate if there was a way they could “re-open the conversation” about it in order to accept more feedback.

Documents we’ve obtained through a public records request show that as late as June 2014 the city planned to build bike trails at the site, only to abruptly halt the public process a few months later.

In the past few weeks, Commissioners Fritz and Fish have offered no evidence to support their decision other than vague references to conservation concerns (which have no basis in science) and what they refer to as an “active lawsuit.”

Also noteworthy as we head into this appeal process is that the NWTA’s lawyer has included the March 2nd memo from Commissioners Fritz and Fish as the official decision they plan to appeal. This is important because LUBA requires that the decision to be appealed is a “final” decision, not a temporary one. Then recall shortly after the March 2nd memo was released, when Commissioner Fritz posted a follow-up message to the River View website where she appeared to try and backpedal from the decision:

“We are not saying River View will never be used for mountain biking, rather just not now, before the citywide assessment of appropriate places for cycling is funded and completed.”

Was Fritz advised to do make that statement by city attorneys specifically in hopes of staving off a LUBA fight? This is just one of the issues that will hopefully get hashed out in the weeks to come.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 11:24 am: The NWTA has just released an open letter to members and supporters. I’ve posted it in its entirety below:

An Open Letter to Our Members and Supporters,

Yesterday, the Northwest Trail Alliance filed a Notice of Intent to Appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals regarding the recent mountain bike ban in the River View Natural Area. We did so because the Board of Directors strongly believes that the decision to ban bikes was made by City Commissioners Fritz and Fish in the absence of due process and without any rational basis for exclusion. Citing only a vague “abundance of caution,” the commissioners sidestepped the planning process initiated in 2013. Subsequent communications provided by the commissioners fail to address our questions and concerns.

We do not take this action lightly. We would much rather work in partnership with the City to resolve the issue. However, the gravity of this decision, the lack of justification, and the lack of answers has lead the board to take legal action. We simply cannot stand idle.

NWTA was first notified about the change in policy at River View in a meeting with representatives from Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) offices on March 2. Understandably, we were caught off guard by this announcement, having participated in the planning process until it was halted abruptly in August 2014.

We empathize with the community’s frustration with this decision. We have observed displays of dissatisfaction in various forms, including the recent protest ride at River View on March 16. These reactions represent frustration not only with this decision, but also the glaring lack of progress on the topic of access to natural surface trails in the City of Portland over the past decade or more. We encourage our members and supporters to continue to make their voices heard in an appropriate fashion. At the same time, we cannot condone and strongly discourage any acts which defy current regulations related to trail access. As frustrating as it has been, we are committed to working within the system.

In addition to filing this appeal, we have leveraged our collective voices to apply pressure on the City to reconsider this decision:

  • We continue to actively engage with the commissioners and their staff to maintain an open dialogue. We submitted specific questions regarding the process and justification for the ban. To date, we have not received a satisfactory explanation. (http://nw-trail.org/?q=node/7886)
  • We continue to engage with Mayor Hales’ office to encourage his direct involvement in this change in policy, and the larger issue of trail access in Portland.
  • NWTA members testified before the Parks board two days after the decision. Surprisingly, the Parks Board was not made aware of the decision beforehand and expressed concern about this abrupt change in policy.
  • NWTA also testified at a City Council meeting about what cyclists can bring to the table when allowed in our green spaces. (https://www.facebook.com/nwtrail/posts/867238923318203)
  • We are actively employing social and traditional media to build awareness and support. Encouragingly, the Oregonian and other news outlets have covered this issue, and a recent Oregonian editorial strongly criticized the City’s actions. We anticipate continued local, regional and national coverage on this issue. (http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/portland_sticks_it_to_mountain.html#incart_river)
  • We worked with our parent organization, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), and their partner organizations PeopleforBikes and the League of American Bicyclists to weigh in on this issue. On March 18, these organizations delivered a joint letter to the commissioners and Mayor Hales expressing their dissatisfaction with the recent decision. (http://bikeleague.org/content/league-supports-portland-mountain-bikers).
  • While not officially involved in the River View Protest Ride, many of our members and supporters were present. It was a strong show of support with over 300 people participating. We received positive response from the City and other entities regarding our right to protest, our message, and the way it played out in a mature and controlled manner. (http://www.katu.com/news/local/Mountain-bikers-test-new-ban-on-trail-riding-at-River-View-Natural-Area-296527051.html?tab=video&c=y)
  • We continue to monitor the work of the River View Technical Advisory committee. We attempted to attend the River View Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting, but we were refused entry on grounds it was not a public meeting.
  • We will continue to participate as a member of the Project Advisory Committee scheduled to reconvene on April 8.

Mountain Bike Master Plan and Larger Efforts

Over the past several years, NWTA has engaged with PP&R and the City in good faith in an effort to increase access to singletrack. Previous efforts, including those of the Forest Park Singletrack Advisory Committee, haven’t resulted in any progress on the ground. In fact, the amount of singletrack trail open to cyclists within the City has decreased over the past decade. The River View ban would decrease access even further, which is why the issue is of such great importance.

The timing of the River View decision is particularly troublesome, given that NWTA is actively lobbying for the City to fund an off-road cycling master plan. NWTA initiated the funding for the proposal by presenting a petition signed by close to 3,000 supporters to the Parks Budget Advisory Committee. We continue to lobby for its funding, and are hopeful that Mayor Hales will include this funding in his final budget request. Should that happen, we are confident that we will have support from a majority of City Council.

While Commissioners Fritz and Fish did order the closure of River View, they also pledged to support funding for the off-road cycling plan. This pledge should be seen as a positive offer and we should agree to support their initiative and willingness to move forward with a larger solution.

We need a master plan because we need a roadmap for the future of off-road cycling in Portland. Without a master plan, access will continue to be limited. We anticipate it will be a lengthy process, and while we are not excited about a delay in progress, we recognize it is a critical element to protect and grow access.

As unfortunate as it is, the River View decision is another important event in our continued advocacy efforts. It has galvanized our community, and brought attention to the issue at a local and national level. We will continue to leverage this visibility to further our long-term goals of delivering a “ride to ride” experience in the City of Portland.

There are reasons to be optimistic. Our collective voice continues to get stronger. Public agencies recognize a benefit in providing cyclists access to natural surface trails, and to an active, healthy recreation. The majority understand how conservation and recreation can coexist by applying current recreation and resource management tools. They also recognize the significant enthusiasm and resources the mountain biking community brings to the table, particularly valuable in an era of constrained budgets.

Rest assured that while our focus has most recently been on River View issue and access in the City of Portland, we haven’t lost sight of the organizations’ larger mission of advocating for sustainable trails throughout the region. We’ve had numerous successes in recent history, including the development of a world class bike only network at Sandy Ridge, and the continued development of a trail system at Stub Stewart State Park. We continue to work collaboratively with our partner agencies Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Port of Cascade Locks, and others to expand and improve riding opportunities within the region.

We appreciate your continued support, and encourage you to follow these issues closely and make your voices heard. Together we are stronger.

Please lend your voice to this cause by sending a letter to Mayor Hales. We’ve included below a letter that you should customize with pieces of your own personal story. We have already filled in talking points about the Mayor’s priorities: “complete neighborhoods” and “equity and opportunity.”

Ride On!

Board of Directors
Northwest Trail Alliance

“Dear Mayor Hales,

As an avid cyclist, I would like to bring two issues to your attention. First, I urge you to support the off-road cycling master plan in your budget. I believe in healthy, active, livable communities and I promote the concept of “ride to your ride.”

I also want to alert you to Commissioners Fish and Fritz’s recent decision to abandon an ongoing public process, arbitrarily and with no basis in science or data. In doing so, they undermined the professional input of a technical advisory committee and devalued community involvement.

It’s clearly time for a citywide plan that identifies great places for safe, recreational cycling. It’s important to me that all communities in Portland have easy access to exercise and outdoor fun.

Thank you for your consideration,”
Sincerely,

Read all our coverage on biking at River View.

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Getaround’s business pivot means more convenience but fewer shared cars

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 15:01
A map of Getaround’s 48 shared vehicles as of today.
(Image: Getaround.com)

Getaround, the peer-to-peer carsharing service that we’ve covered since its 2012 arrival in Portland, has narrowed its fleet in exchange for a big reliability upgrade for its users.

For three years, Portlanders have been able to bring in extra cash by sharing their personal cars, trucks and vans on Getaround. But until this spring, a car owner had to personally approve every request, forcing reservations to be planned well in advance.

Now, the service has removed that hurdle. Anyone sharing their car on Getaround must obtain a Getaround Connect dashboard device for $99 plus $20 a month, then mark online any time slots the car is available for sharing.

If a Getaround driver sees an available car using the company’s app or website, they can reserve, access and start using it immediately, no approvals or key handoffs needed.

“When we first launched on-demand rentals in San Francisco we quickly realized this was the way people wanted to rent cars,” Getaround spokeswoman Hailley Griffis said in an email. “In order for Getaround to provide a real alternative to car ownership, renters need to know they can reliably get a car, at the drop of a hat, when they need one.”


For people who want to drive Getaround cars, the main downside of the switch is that there are now many fewer cars available, because not too many people have chosen to install and pay for a Connect service. A year ago, Getaround’s website listed hundreds of people around the metro area with cars theoretically available for sharing; today there are just 48.

The lower competition may also drive up the price of a Getaround rental, which tends to be cheaper by the hour than comparable Zipcars and cars2go. (Like those companies, Getaround covers the driver’s insurance, but unlike them it doesn’t cover the driver’s gas.)

However, the new system has also weeded out the dozens of Getaround users who might have signed up years ago and forgotten about it, or who might habitually back out after someone attempted to book their car.

Moreover, the lack of competition may be a big advantage for people who continue to share their cars and trucks on Getaround. It almost certainly means more revenue per shared vehicle.

“Since shifting to instant in San Francisco, owners are earning an average of $500/month,” Griffis wrote.

If you’d like to become a Getaround member (it’s free) or to sign up to share a vehicle (there’s a one-month free trial) you can do both on their website.

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