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A remembrance of Cathy Hastie, through the stories she shared with us

Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:31
Cathy Hastie, 1969-2014: lifelong Portlander, self-powered
commuter, daughter, wife, mom and (for one constantly
interesting year) BikePortland’s lifestyle columnist.
(Photo: M.Andersen)

Publisher’s note: Cathy Hastie, a regular columnist here on BikePortland for the last year, passed away yesterday after a fight with cancer.

——

The email arrived with a chime at 9:16 in the morning.

“I have been wanting to be more involved in something I believe in and couldn’t quite decide what, until I saw your publication mentioned in Street Roots. Do you need articles? editing? How can I be useful (without dedicating my entire life to your cause?)”

That was two and a half years ago. I was trying to heave my odd little magazine about low-car life from a one-person project into a team production, and generally saying yes to every offer available. So I and the woman, whose name was Cathy Hastie, scheduled a Sunday brainstorm at the Starbucks in Hollywood.

I told her we couldn’t pay; she said that was fine. She was a mom in her early 40s with a consulting-firm job and a mortgage. Experience was more important than cash. We agreed that sometime in the next month she’d send over a sample column about “low-car culture.”

Here’s a secret: this is the sort of offer small publishers get regularly. In most cases you never hear from the person again. But at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, another email came in.

“Well it is now officially the end of March,” she wrote. “I have completed 3 articles.” They were attached.

That was the Cathy I came to know over the next two years: unpredictable, unflappable, and just frazzled enough to remind you there was a strong pulse of life beneath what I slowly came to realize was a powerful sense of direction.

Cathy with her ride.
(Photos courtesy Cathy Hastie.)

Some of the columns she submitted were not fantastic. They overdosed on detail or buried their gems in three too many jokes. But the best parts were magnificent, like the time she described car2go as “picking up available vehicles like drunk frat boys in a singles bar” or her column capturing the urban magic of hashing, the alleycat-on-foot tradition she joined each month:

The hash leads us up and down the voluptuous hills of Portland, entangles us in her twisting undergrowth and allows us to sneak a peek at her foundations.

Sometimes she wears a girdle or some ratty briefs. But more often than not, it’s a lavender negligee.

One month, she sat on the Hawthorne Bridge for an hour and made a full tally of every bike commuter’s fashion choices by gender. For another column, she spent more than four hours gathering and analyzing what might be the most comprehensive statistics on car and bike stop sign behavior ever collected in Portland.

I loved her biker’s ode to the butt:

When I’m on a bicycle, it’s just part of the scenery. Fit or flabby, grand or petite, it is simply the motor to our human-powered motion. Very useful indeed.

So don’t get bent out of shape. If you are a biker, I have seen your butt. And you have probably seen mine. Just pat yourself on the back (or further down if you feel so moved) and know that with every downstroke, you are improving the view, creating a tauter, shapelier Portland panorama.

Cathy had plenty of detractors. After she joined me in the jump to BikePortland, her first column struck some as arrogant and self-congratulatory. And then there was this column, which we agreed to publish, after some back and forth with her, because the whole point of having her on board was to bring a different perspective to the site:

The king of arrogance is the biker without a helmet. He is announcing to the world that he is too skilled to allow himself to be hit by a car.

After the first 100 furious ripostes to that one, we talked Cathy (“I have my opinions and other people have their opinions,” she wrote in an email. “Why do I care what they think of mine?”) into posting an explanation of sorts.

I don’t know if it was the good spirit she showed with that comment, or a growing cohort of hate-readers, or the fact that she was an opinionated bike-loving woman willing to piss Portlanders off, but it was a turning point for Cathy and her audience. From then on, almost all her columns were traffic hits, and almost all the comments beneath them were friendly. The Portland Society invited her to be a guest speaker. So did the Sprocket Podcast.

Cathy with Sprocket co-hosts Brock Dittus and Aaron Flores.
(Photos: Sprocket Podcast)

It seemed like an ass-backwards way to find a voice and an audience, but Cathy had. And over the next year — her last year — she found her subject, too.

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In one of the most remarkable editing experiences I’ve ever had, Cathy began submitting unsettlingly perceptive columns about a theme that neither of us recognized at first: the relationship between her personal transportation choices and her body’s physical decline and death.

Here’s the first, from a column about the fact that she could no longer brag about running or biking to work every day:

Today, no one can tell that I am “sick.” I look the same, even better than before the illness. My medical condition doesn’t preclude me from running to work like I had been doing for the last 13 years. In fact, I still run, just not to work. I bike. And occasionally, when I’m feeling particularly uninspired, I ride the bus. …

Living under the weight of something as serious as not living made me realize that bragging rights are solely for braggarts. Doing something for the sake of saying that you did it was not enough for me anymore.

When it comes to my commute, I am doing what feels good for me. And the truth is that most people do what feels good to them. We low-car eco-warriors have to be OK with that. Sometimes sitting in a dry, warm car feels pretty good. If we want commuting habits to change, we have to offer choices that feel better.

She followed with a plot twist: she’d accepted a position based in Vancouver and started car commuting for the first time in 15 years.

Today’s business model assumes that employees will do whatever it takes to earn more money, build more prestige and climb higher on the professional ladder. They assume we live the accompanying middle-class, suburban, auto-centric lifestyle. But I don’t like to drive, let alone cut throats and climb ladders. …

I value my time and how I spend it, maybe even more than my money. … My dilemma was eating me up. Ideally, careers improve with time, and my Vancouver opportunity was a stepping stone in the right direction. But how much was I willing to give up now for the promise of a rosier future? If I sacrifice this pillar in my moral structure, who’s to say the roof won’t cave in as I sink deeper and deeper into a materialistic pit, swimming in money while gasping for air?

Perhaps this pebble is just the first in what could turn into a landslide of sacrifices, eroding the hard-fought lifestyle gains of flexibility, stress-reduction and being true to convictions. Would I start traveling too much, seeing less of my family, working 60+ hours a week? In other words, killing myself slowly? …

Notwithstanding the decision to go to Vancouver, I still believe that lifestyle counts as much as salary. I vow to find a creative work arrangement that honors my core values. The burden of dragging a car around, the cost of gas, the time spent sitting still – somehow I will counterbalance these factors. I’ll let you know what I come up with!

Cathy with her daughter.

The next column that popped into my inbox, right on schedule, was the best and most haunting thing I ever saw her write. She called it “What a car is good for.” It opened like a piece of bike-blog trolling to top her earlier one:

The car serves a multitude of purposes that have become essential in the modern world.

Then she slowly threaded cracks across the facade:

The average workplace doesn’t provide a private place to eat lunch, make personal calls or take a nap, let alone have a cigarette, watch an episode of “Archer,” or ogle the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition (not necessarily in that order). What better place to perform these important lunch-hour tasks than inside your parked car, anonymous amongst thousands of others, ordered and sorted in the acre-wide company parking lot? The car gives us the isolation that our gadget-driven culture demands and our efficiency-oriented employers force upon us.

“The car is a great place to store garbage,” she observed. “Delivery errands can be put off for months when the items are all crammed into the trunk, invisible and forgotten.”

By the end of the post, she had perfectly captured everything I’d come to hate about myself in the years when I got around by car, but had never found the language for at the time.

The car makes us independent — so independent that we can drive 45 minutes to work in a neighboring city every day for a month without knowing a single thing about the place, its people, or what happens there. We use the unexplored city without connecting to it. The car distances us physically from the place we call home, so we ignore the community where we spend 8 hours a day. As a car commuter, we just don’t care.

During that editing process I emailed Cathy that I was honored our site was publishing the post. Also that I should have known she was an “Archer” fan.

“Ha!!!!” she replied.

The last column Cathy wrote for us published last month. It was remarkable in a different way: not as a reflection on the universal tragedy of car dependence but as a very specific account of how she believed her car commute had begun to literally kill her.

At 5’11″ and 160 lbs, my body was capable of just about anything I asked it to do, from hoisting boxes to dancing the two-step to running a few miles through the neighborhood. …

No one could tell I was battling my own body’s errant cell-production assembly line. I sat for chemo once every three weeks, followed by more chemo in the form of pills taken every day. I went to work like everyone else. I volunteered. I directed a children’s play after school. Luckily, side effects didn’t stop me from living a full life. The cancer treatment had become my new “normal,” and I barely noticed it myself most days. …

Biking brought fresh air into my lungs, pumped blood to my extremities, and brought a sense of calm and appreciation as I moved through the city’s daily machinations. Details, blurry when passed at the speed of a car, revealed themselves as I took in lilting lilies, swaying birches, jumping dogs, toddling toddlers. … Bicycle commuting not only kept my body working, it stabilized my mental health.

Then, five months and three weeks ago, everything changed. My employer assigned me to a position 17 miles from home. I had to give up my bike commute. …

Tired from sitting erect and still for hours at a time, I didn’t have the time or energy at the end of the day to add on a bike ride or a swim. So I did nothing.

My back started to hurt.

Cathy’s account of the physical disintegration that followed is harrowing. You can read it if you’d like.

On August 24, no doubt with an eye on her usual end-of-the-month deadline, Cathy sent me an email:

I don’t know how much longer I will live — don’t say that out loud. And so I don’t know if I need to focus on creative writing or being with my kids. I don’t think writing about bikes when I cant even walk is very compelling. I don’t know what to do. I am sinking into the harsh realities of my predicament. Don’t expect much from me.

I told her that of course time with her kids would be well-spent, that we and the BikePortland audience were rooting for her and that her volunteer gig would be waiting for her once she recovered.

Cathy didn’t recover. She died this week, one month shy of her 45th birthday. Our hearts go out to her friends and family.

I was reluctant to sell Cathy’s final column too hard. Human health and medicine are mysterious, and I didn’t want us to make it look as if BikePortland was blaming car commuting for the symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy.

What I know is that of the many stories Cathy left us with, the one she told in those last four columns will stick with me all my life. As I follow her (I hope) into the pressures of parenthood, through the curves of a modern career and eventually the decline and failure of my own body, I’ll be thinking of hers — of the joy she took in using and writing about it, and the awful realization she went through as she watched it fall, semi-publicly, apart.

If using bicycles can teach us anything, it should be that our bodies are too precious to put to waste. Cathy, thanks for working so joyfully to help more of us see that.

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As engineering starts on 20s Bikeway, a few pieces are still shifting

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 14:45
City traffic engineer Jamie Jeffrey discusses options for the 20s Bikeway design in May.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The final plans are coming together for the first on-street bike connection between Portland’s northern and southern borders.

Under the latest plans, the much-discussed commercial section between SE Stark and NE Oregon would get a mini-process of its own this winter and spring; a separated “jughandle” at NE 28th and Buxton would ease left turns out of the commercial area; the corner of NE 26th and Fremont would get intersection markings instead of a physical median; a new signal would change traffic options at SE 30th and Stark; and SE 28th and Powell would be signalized.

In an email to stakeholders Friday afternoon, 20s Bikeway project manager Rich Newlands detailed each of these developments. (Here’s a PDF version of the full plan as of June, for comparison’s sake.)

A ‘breakout’ process for 28th near Burnside A so-called ‘commercial greenway’ concept for 28th created by Kirk Paulsen, Brian Davis and Nick Falbo.

In the commercial heart of the 20s Bikeway, a coalition of business owners and a major landlord successfully opposed the city’s proposal to remove parking from the west side of 28th.

But as a pair of volunteer traffic analysts proposed this spring, another option might be to use unusual street design elements to create a “commercial greenway” and sense of place that could improve the district for biking, walking and shopping alike.

The main challenge is that the street carries 7,000 motor vehicles per day, more than four times the maximum recommended for a residential bike boulevard, including quite a few large trucks.

“I am planning on breaking this piece off and engaging the business community and neighborhood (and anyone one else who is interested) in developing a design in the winter/spring time frame,” Newlands wrote.

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A ‘jughandle’ turn at 28th and Buxton

Where the angle of Sandy Boulevard jostles the eastside street grid at 28th and Buxton, there’s a little-used triangular area. The city’s latest plan would rebuild some of it to help southbound bikes complete a left turn across two lanes of traffic in order to reach a new 14-block neighborhood greenway on 30th Avenue. (This greenway stretch was championed by some residents and business owners as an alternative to creating a comfortable bikeway on 28th itself.)

“This allows us to avoid turn conflicts due to the close proximity to vehicle queues at Sandy, and take advantage of the under-utilized space at the 28th/Buxton intersection to better stage the turns and improve the pedestrian connection along the west side,” Newlands wrote Friday.

North of Buxton, here’s the city’s latest design for crossing Sandy and Interstate 84.

Note that it seems to send the bike lane directly along either curb of 28th north of Sandy. That’d be contrary to an earlier city proposal to narrow a sidewalk and create a door-zone bike lane here in order to preserve on-street auto parking next to an unused private parking lot. Newlands, who’s out of town until Thursday, didn’t address this issue in Friday’s email.

A novel intersection design at Fremont

In response to what Newlands described as “a very well attended meeting” at which Fremont Methodist Church and the Alameda Neighborhood Association expressed “strong opposition to the parking removal adjacent to the church,” the city is planning not to build a traffic-calming median that would have eliminated several on-street parking spaces.

Instead, the plan will use green stripes of paint to mark bike crossings and add signs on the center line “which recent studies have shown to improve yielding behavior,” Newlands wrote.

“This seems to be a promising approach for relatively narrow (36 ft) arterial crossings, and is under consideration at other locations such as Alberta and Killingsworth,” Newlands added.

A 2-way buffered bike lane on 30th south of Stark

The major budgetary cost of the 30th Avenue greenway concept is a new traffic signal to be added at Stark. The city’s latest plan would use that new signal to block both northbound and southbound traffic through what is today a somewhat awkwardly offset intersection.

It’d also create a dedicated right-turn lane for southbound cars and a rare two-way buffered bike lane to guide greenway users around the corner to 29th Avenue, which is also due to be converted into a neighborhood greenway.

A new signal and median for 28th and Powell

In what Newlands called “great news,” the Oregon Department of Transportation has “tentatively approved” the city’s proposal to add a traffic signal and median here, helping the new neighborhood greenway on 28th cross the state-owned Powell Boulevard. As with the northern stretch, this segment was designed as a low-stress route that could bypass a commercial district from which the city decided not to remove on-street parking.

A few other items are still in motion, including strong opposition to the bikeway plans from the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association that has yet to be resolved.

On the current timeline, Newlands estimated that the city’s engineering will be complete in May 2015, which would mean construction in fall 2015 or (more likely, given the amount of striping work) spring 2016.

In an email to the Active Right of Way listserv, neighborhood greenway advocate Terry Dublinski-Milton wrote that given that parking removal from commercial areas had been “a nonstarter,” the latest plans for NE 26th and SE 30th seemed OK to him.

“A parallel route is what it has to be for now,” Dublinski-Milton wrote. “[Neighborhood associations] have been asking for a new crossing at 26th and Broadway for years. That is exactly what this ‘Bikeway’ is … a series of needed pedestrian crossings strung together by sharrows. If BIKES were prioritized, then different decisions would have been made.”

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Portland-based ‘Cylo’ aims for first production run

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 14:45
Eric Duvauchelle on his Cylo One prototype. The base model, which will be built in Portland, will retail for $1,900.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A new Portland-based bike brand is trying to presell its first model in order to take a crucial next step in its evolution. Eric Duvauchelle, co-founder of Cylo, has self-funded his company since it launched this past April. Now he needs to find 50 people that want his Cylo One city bike — and with those orders he plans to make the first production batch.

Duvauchelle, 35, grew up in a small town south of Paris and went to design school in London. At at a meeting at north Portland coffee shop last week, he shared his story from those early days in London to his current focus on Cylo. After graduation, he moved to New York City where he worked in the music industry packaging hip-hop albums. A job as design director for the Nike Soccer brand moved him to the Pacific Northwest and inner southeast Portland. As he moved to follow his graphic design career, he rode bicycles whenever he could, but it wasn’t until Nike assigned him to a project in Amsterdam that he “re-awakened to cycling.”

“In Amsterdam, I realized how bikes can be woven into society,” he recalled, “what bikes can do to you, to cities, to people. It’s really unbelievable.”

It was that realization, Duvauchelle says, that led to him eventually leave Nike, settle down in Portland and launch Cylo. “I was happy at Nike, but this was about doing something I could be passionate about.”

With his brother Antoine as a business partner, Duvauchelle looked to other designers he’d met at Nike to help him realize his vision of the ultimate city bike. Working with product designers who had “no bike experience at all” opened the Cylo up to criticism from online commenters after the bike got its first round of media coverage earlier this summer.

“It was criticized as a designer wank-off,” Duvauchelle recalled, “And yes, it’s true, our design agency had no bike experience. But then again I didn’t want to bring another diamond frame to the market. It would have been easy to import frames from China, slap stickers on them, and say ‘voila’ – a new bike brand.” (This is something Duvauchelle has experience with. Prior to Cylo, he co-founded Cycles Papillon, a company that imported titanium bikes from China. They sold about 60 bikes in all before shutting the company down. Duvauchelle told me it was a great learning experience and it allowed he and his partner to “get our feet wet.”)

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Instead, Duvauchelle and his team are convinced they’ve come up with a bike that has the right mix of form and function. The Cylo One boasts integrated, dynamo-powered front and rear lights, disc brakes, fenders, lightweight aluminum tubing, and an 11-speed Gates carbon belt drive (three models will be offered, with a 3-speed version starting at $1,900 and the top-of-the-line going for $2,500). Not surprisingly, given its design-centric upbringing, the most striking feature of the Cylo One is its frame shape.

Glancing over at the bike as it leaned against a rack near our table, Duvauchelle said, “When people see this bike, they stop and turn and look. That’s important to us because there’s a need for something different in this saturated market.”

Cylo is featured in the current issue of Wired Magazine.

He’s right. The city bike market is much more crowded than it was just a few years ago. With the biggest brands in the industry offering many of the same features the Cylo One has, it will take a lot to get noticed. Duvauchelle’s tactic for attention might be working: the Cylo appears prominently in the new, design issue of Wired Magazine.

With a working prototype, Duvauchelle now hopes to move into production. The company has set a goal of 50 orders before pulling the trigger on the first batch (they’re up to 20 so far). Once that number is reached, Portland-based Zen Bicycle Fabrication will build the bikes.

“The presale,” Duvauchelle explained, “is our way of securing demand and to make sure we’re not throwing money out the window.”

Once the Cylo One is produced, Duvauchelle might expand into other products. His company’s motto is to “Design innovative and inspiration products for people on the move,” and that could mean fashion, bike accessories, or other types of products.

“We’re trying to build a brand, not a one-off product.”

Cylo.cc
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The Monday Roundup: Reclaiming street play, bad parking shaming and more

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 07:57
A Northeast Portland neighborhood greenway.
(Photo: M.Andersen)

Here are the bike links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Reclaiming street play: After part of Edinburgh set a 20 mph speed limit on residential and major shopping streets, the percentage of kids allowed to play on the sidewalk or street jumped from 31 percent to 66 percent (PDF).

Bad parking shaming: Some Toronto residents have been keeping rolls of stickers in their pockets that say “I parked in a bike lane.”

Hit-run workaround: NYC’s city council voted unanimously to levy city fines of up to $10,000 on drivers who hit and run. The civil penalties will have lower standards of evidence than criminal process, which typically fails to muster enough evidence to convict suspects.

4G bike sharing: An internal Intel news site has a detailed, readable report on the company’s experimental dockless, text-activated corporate bike sharing system.

Walking on air: Pop star Katy Perry biked to work in Silicon Valley last Tuesday. In other news, Jonathan is now weighing more use of emoji in his tweets:

Rode my

Comment of the Week: The Four Types of Bikeways

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 13:56
Which type?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Most BikePortlanders probably know the Four Types of Bicyclists, a concept sketched out by Portland’s bicycle planning coordinator, outed on this site eight years ago, and road-tested by a Portland State University professor in 2012.

But what if we turned this concept on its head and divided the bikeways of the world into four types, too?

That’s the intriguing idea from reader “Alan 1.0,” who speculated in a comment this morning that 60 percent of Portland bike routes work for “strong and fearless” bikers while about 1 percent of Portland bike routes work for just about everybody.

Here’s his comment:

This has me wondering about a scale for bike routes along the lines of Geller’s “Four Types of Cyclists.” It might go something like this for current Portland build-out (flipping the percentage of his last two categories):

1% – If they won’t ride this, they won’t ride anything.
7% – OK for most people with more than a few months under their wheels.
33% – Works for most “Enthused & Confident.”
60% – Works for the “Strong & Fearless.”

The route in this article seems to me to fall somewhere in the 33%, maybe nearing the 7% category. To dig into Geller’s 60% “Interested but Concerned” people category, Portland needs to massively increase the fraction of those upper two infrastructure brackets.

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That’s a clever new way to think about the issue.

Side note: Though we always prefer to end the week on a positive note, we’d be remiss not to give an honorable mention to two amazing comments in the conversation that followed our story on a panel about Portland’s recent biking plateau: this compelling personal take from Lisa Marie, who wrote that “denial is apparently a river in Portland” and this six-point theory and action plan from Mindful Cyclist.

— This post will most likely wrap things up for Jonathan and I this week. Thanks again to all of you for sharing our stories and being part of our comment threads. We’re already looking forward to Monday!

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Careless Driving citation issued in collision that killed Kerry Kunsman

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:31
Kerry Kunsman (1947-2014).
(Photo from his blog)

The Oregon State Police announced today that the man who drove his truck into Kerry Kunsman on September 19th as he rode his bike on Highway 131, has been issued two citations.

Frank Bohannon, 74, has been cited for Careless Driving (ORS 811.135(3)) and Driving While Suspended. Prior to this decision, the OSP says they conferred with the Tillamook County District Attorney’s Office and decided there will be no additional criminal charges. Additional penalties will be triggered because Bohannon’s actions resulted in the death of a “vulnerable roadway user.”

Oregon was the first state to pass a Vulnerable Roadway Users law in 2007. It adds additional consequences above and beyond the standard traffic violation penalties. Bohannon will now have to choose between doing 100-200 hours of community service (which “must include activities related to driver improvement and providing public education on traffic safety”) and completing a traffic safety course or paying a $12,500 fine and having his license suspended for one year. Bohannon will also be required to appear in court and face up to his actions. Prior to the existence of this law, the offender could simply mail in a check and be done with it.

Kunsman took this photo while biking down
the Oregon Coast just one day
before he was hit.

Kunsman died in a Portland hospital two days after the collision. He was a League Certified Cycling Instructor and a Board Member of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition who was well-known in his community. Kunsman was on a “Border-to-Border” bicycle tour from Canada to Mexico and kept a blog about his journey up until the morning of his tragic death.

Kunsman was riding westbound from Tillamook to Netarts on a state highway around a sharp right-hand curve with no paved shoulder when the collision occurred. Judging from photos taken at the scene and the time of day, it’s likely the sun was setting on the horizon as well. As you can see in the photo at right, Kunsman’s bike was equipped with a rear taillight (which was on during the day) and a large, hi-vis reflective patch.

This collision was the seventh high-profile rear-end collision on Oregon highways in the past six weeks. Four of the collision have resulted in a fatality. In six of the seven cases, OSP has determined that unsafe driving behaviors were to blame (one of them is still pending an investigation).

This spate of collisions have led some people to conclude that the solution is to ban bicycling altogether on some highways because “it’s too dangerous” — but this decision by OSP will (hopefully) reinforce the idea that bicycle riders have a right to all Oregon roads (except some freeways) and that roads are much safer when everyone operates their vehicle with caution and care for others.

UPDATE: Here are some comments about the collision from the DA who looked at the case, as reported by The Oregonian:

“It’s an extraordinarily tragic accident,” Porter said. “But it is in fact just that — an accident.”

The investigation showed no signs of excessive speed, intoxication or reckless driving by Bohannon, he said.

But Bohannon was cited for careless driving because he is familiar with the highway, knows that there are often cyclists on the highway and should have taken more care on the curves, Porter said.

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Local bike shops as important as infrastructure?

Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:47
Bike shops are a key piece of biking’s future. But are we selling them short?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Should advocates for bicycling consider retail bike shops as something more than just a place to hang out and buy stuff? What if we thought of them as being so imperative to the cycling revolution that we fought for them and promoted them with as much urgency and fervor as a major piece of new bike infrastructure?

That idea was pitched by Fred Clements on BicycleRetailer.com earlier this month. As the executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, Clements is far from an unbiased source. Even so, I thought his idea deserved more attention. And not just because I personally love local bike shops (like, really, love them) but because Portland’s bike shop ecosystem is in a constant state of flux and Clements’ perspective might be worth keeping in mind as we watch it evolve.

Here’s the gist of Clements’ argument (emphasis mine):

“When those in the bike world think of cycling infrastructure, they usually think of places to ride. Bike paths, bike friendly roads and off-road trails are all part of the necessary network for riding a bicycle.

But there is more to infrastructure than asphalt, concrete and off-road trails. Many bicycle dealers are becoming increasingly vocal that they are infrastructure too, and that a robust future for cycling in America revolves around bike shops.

The dictionary describes infrastructure as the “underlying base or foundation for an organization or system.” By that definition, bike shops can definitely be considered as infrastructure. It’s a rare cyclist who hasn’t taken advantage of a bike shop sometime in their life for bikes, accessories, test rides, repair, service and advice.

Bike shops as infrastructure is more than mere semantics. If bike shops are infrastructure, the fight for the future of the independent dealer becomes more than a marketplace issue. If bike shops are infrastructure, the continued decline in the number of bike shops across the country is every bicycle advocate’s problem.

The local bike shop is fighting for its collective life versus Internet competition and the various other manifestations of the digital age. This fight is somewhat under-the-radar of many involved in bicycle advocacy because it is in the realm of free enterprise. Advocates are used to allowing the marketplace to determine winners and losers. It may now be time to choose sides.”

I recommend reading the entire piece.

One thing that strikes me about this argument is that for many years bike advocacy groups have been clamoring for bike shop owners to do more to support their work — now we have shops arguing in the other direction.

“The health and vitality of the independent bike shop is a key for future growth. The dealer’s fight is every bicycle advocate’s fight.”
— Fred Clements, NBDA

Here in Portland we’ve got what many people think is an over-saturated market when it comes to bike shops. At last count, there were about 80 bike shops in the Portland metro region — and no decline in sight. “There are so many shops!” is something I hear a lot, especially from shop owners who tell me the recent proliferation of small, “subsistence shops” is cannibalizing customers and profits from larger, more established ones.

There’s some evidence that supports this: Back in July, two of our largest bike shops: Bike ‘N Hike and Performance, closed their Portland locations. Another bike shop just over the West Hills from downtown Portland, Sunset Cycles, will call it quits at the end of October.

While these established shops have closed, many smaller shops have expanded in recent months. The Bike Commuter in Sellwood, Portland Bicycle Studio in northwest, The eBike Store near Peninsula Park, Gladys Bikes on Alberta, and Upcycles in Woodlawn have all recently moved into larger spaces. And we’ve seen no slowdown in openings of new shops like Cat Six and Hi-5 Bikes.

Portland bike shops are extremely diverse and the impact of the Internet on their bottom line can be hard to quantify. We have very well-established online retailers with large brick-and-mortar locations (like Western Bikeworks and Universal Cycles) and we have a more traditional bike shop, Bike Gallery, that offers an “online catalog.” And then there are dozens of other permutations: from a tavern and community event space (Velo Cult), to a tiny, service-focused business located in an old school bus (Black Bird Bicycle Repair).

All our shops offer something distinctive and they all play an important in making bicycling better in Portland. While I don’t feel our shop scene mimics national trends, I’ll keep Clements’ argument in mind as our local landscape continues to change.

What do you think? I’d especially love to hear from professional advocates and shop employees.

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New TriMet path carves better route to South Waterfront, but PSU link still awkward

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 14:55
The wide sidewalk along SW Naito Parkway between Lincoln and Harrison.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Thanks to TriMet’s nearly completed Orange Line, the main bike route to the South Waterfront got smoother this week.

But as we discussed in a post last week, there are still significant complications with the bike connections to Portland State University that could have been solved if it had been possible to run a bike/walk/skate path on the new MAX viaduct.

I spent a while in the area last night, comparing the various route options created by the new northwest/southeast path that now links Moody Avenue and Sheridan to Harbor Drive and River Parkway. Let’s start with the good news.

Almost everybody who bikes into the South Waterfront should probably be using this path now. The purple line is now the best bike route to the South Waterfront from most of the city. The red line is the most comfortable current route between the South Waterfront and PSU. The green route is the approximate path (overhead) of the MAX viaduct, to which TriMet says it was infeasible to add a sufficiently wide bike/walk path.
(Image and commentary by Ted Buehler)

It cuts the corner between Moody and the Hawthorne Bridge landings and lets you skip two traffic signals, including an awkwardly signaled intersection and a bunch of streetcar tracks.

Most people biking to the South Waterfront from downtown or the east side head south through Waterfront Park until they reach this intersection (Harbor Way and Montgomery), then turn left. But as of this week, it really makes more sense to obey the wayfinding sign and go straight ahead:

Harbor Way dead-ends into a mixed-use path…

…which proceeds on the east side of Harbor Drive…

…and reaches the path built by TriMet for this purpose and opened this week.

Heading down this way, you’ll get a quick signal and straight shot across Sheridan into the Moody cycle track rather than dealing with the long signal and diagonal crossing across streetcar tracks that have been in use for the last few years.

Nice!

OK, now, the bad news…

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It’s still slow and complicated to bike from Tilikum Crossing to PSU.

Last week, reader Ted Buehler argued that by far the best way to get to Portland State University from TriMet’s new bridge (and therefore from much of Southeast Portland) would be to bike or walk up the viaduct alongside the rails and busway … if only there were a path on that viaduct.

“It’s a Grade A Platinum Route from PSU to SE Portland,” Buehler had written in a comment thread about the apparent decline in biking rates among PSU students. “But not open to bikes.”

It’s not clear how hard it would have been to actually open that path to bikes. But Buehler is right.

Let’s take the best existing route one step at a time, starting this time at the bottom of the hill, near the South Waterfront and the west landing of Tilikum Crossing. Here’s the view across Sheridan from the end of Moody’s awesome raised, separated cycle track:

There are new signs here urging people to turn left. They should!

From there you can proceed up the path, just west of a power station and a vacant lot that seems sure to be a future Midnight Mystery Ride destination…

…and up to Harbor Drive, the stub of 1950s expressway that remained after Governor Tom McCall successfully led an effort to replace most of it with Waterfront Park.

From there, someone biking uphill has to make a two-stage cross using the pedestrian signals, one of which requires a push button, into the bike lanes on Harrison Street alongside the combined streetcar/traffic lane. Those curve around to reach Naito Parkway, at which point you can continue straight onto Harrison and into the PSU area…

…unless sharing an uphill traffic lane with cars on a divided four-lane boulevard next to the streetcar tracks isn’t your thing. In that case, your best bet for reaching the much more comfortable Lincoln Street bike lane would be to turn left and wait through a long signal cycle to head over this crosswalk and onto the sidewalk here:

At the top of this incline, you’ll reach the new bike/walk crossing onto Lincoln. What’s that on your left?

It’s the top of the new MAX viaduct that curves straight up from the bridge landing.

I timed myself biking up and down the legal route. It took 5:38 uphill, much of it waiting for the left turn crossing signal onto Naito from Harrison, and 3:01 downhill.

As for biking the viaduct, I would estimate (purely hypothetically) that it might take a similar rider about 2:28 uphill and 1:54 downhill, assuming that rider were proceeding carefully to avoid any track conflicts.

None of this is to overstate the importance of a minute or three in the big picture of someone’s bike trip. Like so much of Portland’s bike infrastructure, it’s good enough to serve those who are already riding, and it was certainly affordable. In a rail project that wound up furiously cutting $62 million at the last minute to make ends meet, that may have been necessary.

In an email Thursday, TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch wrote that physical space was a problem, too.

“Designing a structure wide enough to include acceptably wide multi-use paths was not feasible due to the need for the structure to pass between freeway columns — the space between the columns limits the maximum width of the structure,” she wrote. “Even if possible within the physical space, a structure that wide would have added an estimated $5 million to the structure’s cost and necessitated access ramps to the structure in its southern section.”

Regardless, the bigger problem with the route TriMet settled on instead, compared to an MUP similar to the MAX viaduct, is that it’s the sort of thing that takes eight photographs to explain. Compare all these twists and turns through the shadows of highway and rail viaducts to the simplicity of “head up this path and it takes you straight there.”

That’s the sort of amenity that only money can buy.

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A how-to guide for the ultimate carfree Crater Lake rim ride

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 14:42
Let’s hear it for Oregon’s National Parks Service staff and Travel Oregon. They’ve made carfree Crater Lake a reality. And it is good.
(Photos by Rebecca Hamilton)

As we mentioned in the Weekend Event Guide, Saturday is the last day this year to experience a carfree ride around Crater Lake. Contributor Rebecca Hamilton experienced it last week and has some tips to share.

Crater Lake National Park will host its last carfree day of 2014 this Saturday, September 27th. Although the West Rim Drive will remain open to motorized vehicles, the East Rim Drive’s 24 miles (of the 33-mile loop) around the caldera rim are yours to enjoy on foot or two wheels without a single stop sign or RV along the way.

I joined a group of Portlanders who traveled south and tried this out last weekend. We picked up a few tips worth knowing if you decide to go:

Timing

It took two fairly strong cyclists on road bikes about four hours to complete the loop, which included generous time spent stopping at overlooks and reading informational signage about Park ecosystems. Experienced cyclists who don’t care about scenic beauty or the lifecycle of the Clarke Nuthatch could ride it much faster; but why rush? Stop for the vistas and save the wind sprints for the less breathtaking stretches of road in your life.


Check the weather

At 7,000 feet, the weather can make or break your day. While our group last weekend enjoyed blue skies and 85-degree weather, it’s telling that no one who went on last year’s September carfree days would even consider the invitation to go again due to traumatic memories of something they referred to as the “thunder snows.”


Leave the cars behind! It’s not the Springwater Corridor

You’ll be doing + 3,000 feet of climbing and the elevation adds an extra challenge for those accustomed to breathing the oxygen-dense air of Portland. The loop won’t faze a determined commuter but this is definitely not a beginner’s ride. 


Ride counterclockwise

For 90% of the ride, one direction is as good as the other. If you go clockwise, however, you’ll be ending your peaceful, pleasantly exhausting ride with 3 miles of climbing up a 4% grade in steady traffic. It’s do-able but feels like ending a yoga class with a fire alarm. Bonus: if the day is hot, the counterclockwise trip will put you at the Cleetwood Cove jumping/swimming spot at about mile 22 of your ride. 


Road bikes are recommended

This is a ride of both long, sustained climbs and glorious 5-mile descents, so an average rider may be most comfortable on a bike with a wide gear range and thinner tires. All our mountain-bike riding friends made it, however, and we did see a few SuperParents riding with kids on tag-alongs. Anything is possible if you’re willing to put the work in. The people on tandems looked like they were having most fun, at least on the downhills.


Check your brakes

Most of the descents are less steep than what you’d find coming off of the West Hills, but they’re long and you pick up a lot of momentum after several miles of downhill. There are also a number of places where the road has been damaged by freeze-thaw cycles or rockfalls that require quick responses when you’re travelling at speed. Replace borderline brake pads and tighten loose cables before you go.


It’s a real volcano

There aren’t any snack vending machines or drinking fountains along the way so bring what you need. There is a primitive restroom located halfway around at the Whitebark Pine Picnic Area.


Go

It’s no understatement to say that this is one of the Great Experiences of Oregon. The chance to bike around the rim of a car-free Cascadian volcano caldera filled with a lake that created its own shade of blue is either why you moved here from Iowa or why you’re native Oregonian and will never leave. 
Just be sure to check the weather report for those pesky thunder snows.

Friends make it even better!

Here are a few more resources:
Official Crater Lake National Park Bike Map (PDF)
GPS of the counter-clockwise route with elevation profile
— Official National Parks site: Vehicle Free Days on East Rim Drive

Have fun! And make sure to comment or Tweet @BikePortland to share your photos and reviews of the ride.

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Weekend Event Guide: Bike & Beer Fest, Parkways, carfree Crater Lake, and more

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:30
Your last chance (until next summer) to ride carfree around Crater Lake.
(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland)

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

How will you mark the change in season? How about a trip south to Crater Lake for 24-miles of carfree paradise? Or maybe it’s time to get serious about cyclocross and tackle “Ninkrossi”?

Whatever you have planned, make sure you check out this week’s guide. A big festival, Sunday Parkways, racing and riding — there’s something for everyone.

Have fun!

Friday, September 26th

Cyclocross Season Kickoff Party – 7:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd Ave)
Team Trusty Switchblade is hosting a blowout party at Velo Cult to mark the (ever earlier) arrival of Portland’s ‘cross season. There will be a pinata, doughnuts, door prizes, and lots of shenanigans I won’t mention because this is a family website. More info here.

Saturday, September 27th

Handmade Bike & Beer Festival – All weekend long at Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell)
Beer, bikes, bands, fun activities, food, what more could you want in a festival?! Check our write-up from a few days ago and then clear some time this weekend to get out there. This is going to be awesome. More info here.

Crater Lake Carfree Day! – All day at Crater Lake National Park
If you missed it last week or this past June, the National Parks Service invites you to enjoy the legendary East Rim Drive without the presence of cars, trucks, and RVs! 24 miles of pure bliss awaits you. Carpool, take the train, ride… Just get down there. You will not regret it. More info here.

Grand Prix Ryan Trebon #5 – Ninkrossi – All day at Washougal MX Park (in WA)
The fifth of the six-race GPRT series is just over the Columbia River in Washougal. This is an excellent course that should be extra-fun thanks to the bit of rain we’ve had lately. More info here.

Bridges to Breakers Century – 7:00 am McMenamins Theater and Pub in St Johns (8203 N Ivanhoe)
Ride to the coast on a beautiful route (St. Johns to Gearheart) while helping raise funds and awareness for bike safety. This ride was inspired by a collision that injured former NFL and Oregon Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington. 50-mile route option available. $75 entry fee includes a t-shirt and BBQ party at the beach. More info here.

The Joy Ride – 9:00 am at Sauvie Island park and ride
The Portland Wheelmen Touring Club will lead a 50-mile ride that begins at Sauvie Island. I’m not sure where it goes, but these folks know all the great routes and it is called the “Joy” ride, so I bet it’ll be good. More info here.

Biking About Architecture (Beaumont/Roseway) – 11:00 am at Grand Central Bakery (4440 NE Fremont)
Get a guided tour of cool home designs in the Beaumont and Roseway neighborhoods. Highlights include cool co-housing in Cully, an angled black-box modern, and an Art Haus deluxe. Relaxed and social pace. More info here.

Sunday, September 28th

Harvest Century – 7:00 am at Hillsboro Civic Center (150 E Main Street)
Billed as the “last organized ride of the year” (sniff, sniff), this ride is a great way to acquaint yourself with the excellent riding in Washington County. See the season change right before your eyes on 100, 75, or 45-mile routes. All money raised on this ride supports Community Vision, a non-profit that aids adults with developmental disabilities. More info here.

Battle at Barlow – 7:30 am at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham (5105 SE 302nd)
This popular cyclocross event has an added bonus: Racers can earn coveted “call-up” points that will give them priority starting position at the upcoming (and usually very crowded) Cross Crusade series. That’s just one of many reasons to head out to Gresham for this event. It’s a great course that organizers describe as “euro-style: fast, with ample room to pass.” More info here (PDF).

NW Trail Alliance Sunday Group Ride (MTB) – 8:00 am at Universal Cycles (2202 E Burnside)
How does 20 miles of singletrack sound? That’s what awaits you at Falls Creek Trail and this ride is a perfect chance to check it out. The NWTA will lead carpools from southeast Portland and then drive to the trailhead (about 2 hours away). This is an intermediate/advanced ride. More info here.

Sunday Parkways Southwest – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
This is your last chance of the year to enjoy an activity-filled, carfree loop around one of the most picturesque parts of town. Explore parks in the West Hills, the locally-owned businesses in Hillsdale, and much more. More info here.

Pizzeria Grand Opening and Red Bull Rampage Screening – 12:00 noon at The Lumberyard
Another reason to roll over to the Lumberyard: their new pizzeria! Join them for a slice or two and wash it down with a pint while you get stoked watching the latest Red Bull Rampage film. More info here (FB).

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

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ODOT ‘listening session’ aids quest to modernize bike/walk plan

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 10:07
ODOT heard from experts about how they should tackle biking and walking policy.(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) hosted a “listening session” at their Portland regional headquarters yesterday. It was the fifth of five such meetings they’re using to gather insights and learn key issues they should address in a major update to their Bicycle and Pedestrian Mode Plan.

ODOT’s existing plan for setting statewide policy around bicycling and walking was adopted way back in 1995.

At Wednesday’s meeting, ODOT heard from about 75 experts, agency staffers, advocates, and volunteer activists. Faces in the crowd included: Blaine Meier, owner of First City Cycles in Oregon City; Lake McTighe, Metro active transportation planner; Roger Geller, PBOT bicycle coordinator; Jeff Owen, Trimet active transportation planner; Margi Bradway, PBOT Active Transportation Division manager; Cory Poole, NW Skate Coalition; Jim Parsons, Beaverton resident and bike activist; Sheila Lyons, ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Program coordinator; Nick Falbo, senior planner at Alta Planning; Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance; and many others.

After hearing about the background of the project, attendees broke into small groups at tables of 6-8 people where they discussed specific topics and then wrote down and prioritized key policy ideas they’d like see addressed in the final plan.

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A Policy Advisory Committee has been working on the plan update since December 2013. In July of this year, they released an “Issues and Opportunities Report” (PDF) along with a “Vision and Goals” and “Existing Conditions” report.

Here’s the working draft of their “Plan Vision”:

In Oregon, people of all ages, incomes, and abilities can get where they want to go on safe, well‐connected biking and walking routes. People can access destinations in urban and rural areas and enjoy Oregon’s scenic beauty by walking and biking on a transportation system that respects the needs of its users and their sense of safety. Bicycle and pedestrian networks are recognized as integral elements of the transportation system that contribute to our diverse and vibrant communities and the health and quality of life enjoyed by Oregonians.

And here are the nine goals/topic areas they are focusing on:

  • Safety
  • Mobility and Efficiency
  • Accessibility and Connectivity
  • Community and Economic Vitality
  • Equity
  • Health
  • Sustainability
  • Strategic Investment
  • Cooperation and Collaboration

As ODOT consultant Peter Lagerwey presented each of these nine topic areas, he explained that ODOT has already heard wide support for all of them and the agency themselves is supportive of them in theory. “The good news is everybody’s for them… These things are valued,” he explained, “We just haven’t figured out what to do next. There’s a lack of policy support.”

This plan update, Lagerwey said, is a golden opportunity to move these ideas forward by fleshing them out and creating binding policy around them.

We weren’t able to stay until the end of the meeting, so we asked the BTA’s Rob Sadowsky to share a recap of the main ideas and themes that were generated. He told us he was surprised at how similar each tables’ main themes were. He also provided this list:

1. The need for physically separation on arterials.
2. Gaps in the network must be a clear focus before building more roads.
3. Don’t forget to incorporate Encouragement and Education into the plan, it’s not all about Infrastructure.
4. Data is a problem for a lot of people. We need better and more comprehensive data about modes and crashes, not just fatalists and near-fatals.
5. The plan needs to address how the plan will interact with other modal plans.
6. While the terms weren’t used by every group, Vision Zero kept coming up as a central guiding policy theme.

Finally, the plan needs to inspire but realistic.

ODOT says they plan to complete this process in August of 2015. We’ll be tracking it closely — especially in light of a recent spate of rear-end collisions on ODOT-controlled highways. Stay tuned for more coverage and learn more about the plan here.

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Sunday vigil set to honor and remember Steve Fritz

Thu, 09/25/2014 - 08:41
Commissioner Amanda Fritz at an
anti-Columbia River Crossing
rally in 2009.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

All of Portland is hurting for Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s family this week.

Carpooling to his job in Salem, Steve Fritz was killed in a traffic collision Wednesday after a northbound pickup crossed the freeway barrier and collided with Fritz’s Nissan. The husband of the city council member died at the scene.

A vigil for Steve Fritz is planned this Sunday, Sept. 28, at 5 p.m. in Terry Schrunk Plaza, across the street from City Hall at 1221 SW 4th Avenue.

“We will have an open mic and will be collecting letters to be given to the family at a better time,” wrote Cameron Whitten, a local human rghts activist who got to know Fritz during Occupy Portland’s 2011 encampment and his subsequent hunger strike outside City Hall for housing justice, in an email. Whitten, who later supported Fritz’s reelection campaign, is among the organizers of Sunday’s event.

For her part, Commissioner Fritz wrote on Wednesday that her family would be suggesting charitable donations in lieu of flowers or cards:

Thanks to all helping with my loss of the great Steve Fritz. No flowers or cards, please – his kids and I will announce charity choices soon

— Amanda Fritz (@AmandaFritzRN) September 24, 2014

Oregonian reporter Joseph Rose has a good report about the cable barriers, absent from this stretch of Interstate 5 but gradually being installed around the state, that might have prevented this collision. We wrote last month about the success of those cable barriers in Minnesota, installed as part of that state’s “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign to prevent traffic fatalities.

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The Fritzes met 37 years ago — Steve was 17, Amanda 19 — while they were working at a Salvation Army children’s camp in New Jersey. As I first read on the Portland Mercury Wednesday, Amanda described her husband on her campaign’s site as “my soul-mate and the love-of-my-life.”

The Mercury was also among the outlets that shared the words of Steve and Amanda’s son Maxwell, who wrote this about his father on his successful college admission essay to Princeton University:

My father drives a car painted in zebra stripes. The inside is crammed full of stuffed animals, seat covers, and air fresheners devoted to his favorite animal. He even has the zebra edition of Zoobooks magazine prominently displayed in the back window. On weekends, he frequents a counterculture group that plays croquet using bowling balls hit with sledgehammers, has “nuclear family picnics” on the lawns of power plants, and launches pumpkins out of cannons. He also wakes up early every weekday, straightens his tie, and happily drives in that twelve year old Nissan Sentra to his work as a psychiatrist at the Oregon State Hospital.

He has a simplicity in the logic behind his decisions that makes many of the worries in my life seem silly. He painted his car because he was bored with it. He set up a stand along a marathon route offering runners free doughnuts and beer because he thought it would be entertaining. He constantly teaches me that even in the real world, being content is not contingent on adhering to the expectations of others.

I often wonder what my life will be like decades from now, but if it is anything like my father’s, I will know I did well. I expect many of the details will be different. I do not plan to become a doctor, turn vegetables into projectiles, or remodel my automobile into a work of art. However, if I follow his lead, I will be able to open my eyes on a Monday morning and smile about both the weekend in the past and the week ahead in the future.

Our hearts are with the Fritz family here at BikePortland, as in so many other Portland homes and workplaces.

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Eliot neighborhood gets temporary diverter on Rodney as part of Williams work

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 15:23
The new temporary traffic diverter at N. Rodney and Ivy.
(Photo: Zef Wagner)

People using the future neighborhood greenway route on North Rodney Avenue got a surprise last week: a temporary diagonal traffic diverter at Ivy Street, designed to reduce cut-through auto traffic.

Project manager Rich Newlands said in an interview Wednesday that the city installed the diverter as part of its Williams Avenue traffic safety project after months of pressure from the local neighborhood association.

“Our initial stance was, ‘Well, we would like to build Williams and monitor the situation and approach the issue of whether diversion was needed based on that,’” Newlands explained. “We just continued to hear strong opposition to that approach. … The Eliot Neighborhood Association in particular, that was their strong position on the issue. They convinced us to put it in in advance.”

The diagonal diverter, whose cost Newlands put at a very rough estimate of maybe $5,000, isn’t far from the diagonal one at NE Tillamook and 16th. It’s paid for out of the $1.5 million state grant that is making the Williams-Rodney project possible.

The Rodney decision is notable in part because the city has resisted requests to install diverters as part of similar projects like the northern stretch of the 20s Bikeway or the Division Street road diet.

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In the case of the temporary Rodney diverter, Newlands said the city “did not, I think, have a full conversation with the affected property owners.”

“I’ve received quite a few phone calls in the past week,” he said. “Those who live near the diverter are very concerned about local access impacts. … Otherwise, I’ve heard folks who live further down on Rodney that it has reduced volumes on Rodney.”

Here are a couple other shots of the diverter in context, from reader Steve B (you have to look closely in the first photo to see the paved bumps beneath the construction A-frames, which were temporarily used to call attention to the diverter):

Newlands said people who live immediately around the diverter are being “patient” in large part because they’ve been assured it’s only a test.

Speed bumps have been installed on the future greenway on Rodney, but it has yet to see signage changes such as crossing improvements, flipped stop signs or wayfinding signs. Newlands said those might be installed by late spring 2015.

There’s no timeline for removing the diverter, and no specific criteria for the success or failure of the diverter. Newlands said the next formal conversation about it will probably come in January.

“It’ll just be shaped by the data we collect and the reactions we get from future public involvement,” Newlands said.

On that note, anyone can register their own position about the diverter by getting in touch with Newlands: rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-7780.

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PBOT’s first ‘advisory bike lanes’ coming to SE Caruthers

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:50
Trucks frequently (and sometimes illegally) encroach on the SE Caruthers bike lane. A new street design will help bike riders navigate SE Caruthers more smoothly.
(Photo: Besty Reese)

Anyone who has ridden on SE Caruthers in the pathway gap between the southern end of the Eastbank Esplanade and the start of the Springwater Corridor trail (map) has likely experienced the problem of trucks encroaching on the bike lane. It’s common because two truck-heavy businesses — Apple Foods and McCoy Millworks — have loading docks adjacent to the street and a smooth, mountable curb is all that separates the parking zone from the bike lane.

Apple Foods vehicles blocking the bike lane.
(Photo by Betsy Reese)

Now the problem might finally get fixed thanks to an innovative design change coming from the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). According to PBOT project manager Theresa Boyle, the city is prepping a project that will create “advisory bike lanes” on Caruthers between SE Water and SE 7th.

Advisory bike lanes are different from traditional bike lanes because people are allowed to drive in them — but only when there are no bike riders present. Sound strange? Read on…

Currently, SE Caruthers in this location is a pretty typical cross-section. It has four lanes: one standard lane and one bike-only lane in each direction. The new design will reconfigure the lanes and leave just one lane in the middle and green-colored, advisory bike lanes on each side. Here’s how it looks on Google Streetview:

Streetview of SE Caruthers near McCoy Millworks.

And here’s how Boyle explained the new design in an email to a volunteer activist who had contacted the city about the bike lane encroachment problems on Caruthers:

“… this is a striping protocol that can be applied to streets with low volumes of vehicles, and high volumes of cyclists.

It allocates more of the paved street area to bike lanes and less overall to cars than is typical. It essentially creates a queuing street for vehicles which is why it is only suitable for low volumes.”

Boyle says the new bike lanes will be eight-feet wide (compared the existing five-foot wide lanes) and there will be one, 16-foot wide “through auto lane” in the middle. Along the southern curb (where the encroachment problems now occur), PBOT will mark an additional four-foot wide buffer zone.

We took a closer look at advisory bike lanes back in 2009 after they were included as a potential facility type in the PBOT Bike Plan for 2030.

Here’s an early draft of a PBOT graphic showing how they work/look:

Keep in mind that the middle lane would serve auto drivers in both directions.

Adivsory bike lanes are not a PBOT invention. They are widely used in Europe (especially The Netherlands) and the City of Minneapolis also uses them. A presentation put together by PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller (PDF here) explains that advisory bike lanes are typically used when standard bike lanes don’t fit. They’re also a good solution, he says, when there is a higher volume of auto traffic than a neighborhood street.

Advisory bike lanes in action in The Netherlands.
(Photo by Roger Geller/PBOT)

PBOT is making these changes as part of their Clinton to the River Multi-Use Path project. That project is building a 2.8 mile bike path adjacent to the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line.

To help people understand the new design, PBOT will do a marketing campaign with signs and graphics similar to how they rolled-out bike boxes. If all goes according to plan (it must be dry for the striping to happen), PBOT should have the new lanes striped by the end of next month. If not, it might be next spring before we see the changes on the ground.

Stay tuned.

— For more on advisory bike lanes, see this page from the City of Minneapolis website.

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Guest article: Take a kid mountain biking and help grow the ‘Dirt Roots Movement’

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 09:57
Andy Jansky practicing what he preaches on a ride at Mt. Saint Helens with his two teenage daughters.
(Photo courtesy Andy Jansky)

This article was written by Andy Jansky, a volunteer trail steward with the Northwest Trail Alliance.

It’s time to start a new cycling movement. I call it the “Dirt Roots Movement” and it’s all about getting more kids on mountain bikes.

“With each kid we get on a mountain bike, demand for closer-in, off-road riding opportunities will grow. Harnessing that demand is what the Dirt Roots Movement is all about.”

Why do we need this?

The answer should be obvious: Kids are the future of mountain biking; future advocates, future trail builders and stewards, future racers, and — this one might surprise some of you — future bike commuters and everyday riders.

And with Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day set for Saturday, October 4th, now is a great time to plan that first ride.

Mountain biking appeals to the kid in everyone. When we share our love for the sport, it’s a great gift; but only if handled properly. I assure you that if you take kids who are new to mountain biking on a ride at serious trail networks like Sandy Ridge, Coyote Wall, or Falls Creek they’ll end up frustrated and might even give up on the activity altogether.

The goal is to get kids to actually like mountain biking.

Yes, you may have to lower your expectations for the ride, maybe turn back before the loop is done or spend more time prepping bikes than riding them, but this isn’t about you. This is the time to put away your Strava machine and do right by the next generation.

Play your cards right with this first dirt riding experience, and your future might include a family vacation built around mountain biking rather than Mickey.

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Not long ago, there were very few family-friendly locations for mountain biking in the Portland region. (Touring the fire lanes in Forest Park isn’t all that exciting and it might leave newbies wondering: “Seriously? Is this mountain biking?”)

The huge void in Portland’s off-road biking opportunities was the impetus behind the construction of the easyCLIMB trails in Cascade Locks. Just 40 miles east of Portland in the Columbia River Gorge, easyCLIMB is a great place for kids, marginally-interested significant others, and mountain biking newbies of all stripes. The trail system — wonderfully free of asphalt and autos — was built by volunteers from the Northwest Trail Alliance (NWTA) and designed to provide a mix of windy single-track, smooth berms, scenic views, and natural beauty over three miles — all with less than 200 feet of climbing.

On October 4th, NWTA is hosting Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day as part of the nationwide push by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to get more kids on bikes. Last year our easyCLIMB event was one of the largest in the country, with more than 150 kids in attendance.

One kid spent the entire time attempting to ride a two-by-four in the parking lot. When he finally mastered it, there was a big round of applause. A group of Portland kids even rode out Cascade Locks to participate. They’re taking NWTA’s “Ride to your Ride” mantra seriously!

easyCLIMB is a gem and we’re lucky to have it. But 40 miles is not close enough. With each kid we get on a mountain bike, demand for closer-in, off-road riding opportunities will grow. Harnessing that demand is what the Dirt Roots Movement is all about. We encourage all of you to do your part.

— Learn more about Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day at NW-Trail.org.

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Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 14:22
Street Books founder Laura Maulton talks last week with patrons Jonathan and Bam.

After four summers loaded with all the paperbacks you can fit on a cargo trike, Portland’s most public library is rolling merrily forward.

Street Books, created in 2011 by Laura Moulton as a one-time art project, wasn’t conceived as a continuing service. But its immediate popularity among Portlanders who live outside made Moulton realize it was an idea with wheels.

“This year everybody has been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I think because he just died,” said Diana Rempe, one of Moulton’s two part-time co-librarians, in an interview last week. “I just cannot keep him in there.”

A short documentary about Street Books. Filmmaker Rachel Bracker is aiming to create a longer film.

Last week Street Books celebrated its fourth summer of operation at a fundraiser and party, where it released the video above.

“I’ve been coming here for over three years,” said a young man who gave his name only as Jonathan, after chatting with Rempe and Moulton about the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick near Skidmore Fountain last Tuesday.

“His self-proclaimed masterpiece is A Scanner Darkly,” Jonathan told Rempe. “It’s a lot more nuanced than the film version.”

Thanks to its mobility, the Street Books trike visits a rotating series of sites three days a week during the summer: Old Town’s Right to Dream Too settlement, Skidmore Fountain and waterfront on Tuesdays; the central eastside’s Martin Luther King worker center and St. Francis Parish on Wednesdays; and Sisters of the Road, Bud Clark Commons and the North Park Blocks in the south Pearl on Thursdays.

It wouldn’t work in a motor vehicle, Rempe said.

“I couldn’t go to the places where people are,” she said. “I can’t ride that bike a block without people waving, saying hello, yelling ‘Library lady!’”

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Street Books has its own set of library cards and a simple check-out card tucked into the front cover of each book, like most libraries before the digital age:

 

The books are mostly donated, though the team sometimes visits Goodwill or other used-book sites to look for material, especially if it’s written in Spanish.

“We really need Spanish-langauge books,” Rempe said.

Moulton said the idea came out of a conversation about books with a man she knew as “Quiet Joe.”

“We had an author in common that we liked,” she said. “I hadn’t thought about the fact that he might be more well-read than I am.”

That truth — that many people who live outside cherish books and reading but are rarely able to keep libraries of their own — is the heart of the Street Books mission, said Rempe.

“It’s a way to bring together communities that would generally be disparate,” she said. “We’ll be out on the waterfront and people will be jogging by and stop and talk about Street Books and then somebody who’s been living on the street will come by and grab a book, and then those people will have an opportunity to talk about the book that he or she grabbed.”

Rempe recalled a recent conversation with one of her patrons, Heather.

“She was reading The Grapes of Wrath and she was literally crying about the ending,” she said. “This other guy overheard us and he said, ‘Ah, I’ve never read that book.’ So he checked out The Grapes of Wrath, so he and Heather could talk about The Grapes of Wrath.”

Street Books is on the lookout for a Spanish-speaking volunteer to help or fill in for Rempe, who said her Spanish isn’t strong enough to have the discussions her patrons sometimes hope for.

Thanks to small grants and donations, Rempe, Moulton, their colleague Redd Moon and inventory specialist Ben Hodgson are paid by the hour for their shifts. Rempe said she’s proud to be part of the team.

“I think for a lot of people there’s an assumption that when your primary physical needs are not being met, then you have no interest in filling your other needs like intellectual stimulation, social connection — that’s simply false,” she said. “Intellectual stimulation, connection to others, engagement with the world — those are all just as primary as food and shelter and a place to go to the bathroom.”

If you’d like, you can support Street Books with a donation or by getting in touch to volunteer: librarian@streetbooks.org.

Correction 9/24: An earlier version of this post misspelled Moulton’s name.

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Panel ponders Portland’s slide from cycling superstardom

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 12:34
Moderator Michael Andersen (on the left) and panelists Rob Sadowsky, Roger Geller, and Jessica Roberts.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

What happened to Portland? Did we really deserve to lose our spot atop the podium of America’s best bike cities? Is this whole stagnation thing for real?

“… the city is not stagnating in our efforts, the numbers are stagnating.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT

Those were the questions on everyone’s mind as the Portland Bureau of Transportation hosted a panel discussion titled, Are we really #4 last week as part of their monthly Lunch and Learn series. The panel featured three of the city’s smartest bike thinkers: PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller, BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky, and Alta Planning Principal and Programs Manager Jessica Roberts. Moderator duties were put in the able hands of BikePortland News Editor Michael Andersen.

The event came on the heels of a one-two punch to the gut of PBOT: the #4 ranking from Bicycling Magazine and new U.S. Census numbers (revealed the morning of the panel) that showed a continued flatlining of Portland’s bike-to-work rate.

Timo Forsberg with PBOT’s Active Transportation Division opened the event by acknowledging that, “The Census numbers were not as good as we’d like.”

Forsberg was addressing a packed City Hall conference room. There were so many people the panelists had to give up their seats and stand. A quick scan of faces showed the room was full of influencers, from a Travel Portland staff member to neighborhood bike activists, to what looked like the entire staff of PBOT’s Active Transportation Division.

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Before the real discussion started, Andersen had the panelists and the audience do a quick hand-raising exercise in response to several questions. “Will Portland reach its 25 percent mode split goal by 2030?” he asked, to which only two (non-panelist) hands went up — and one of them was Forsberg.

As for the #4 ranking, it was generally agreed that it doesn’t amount to much, technically speaking. But it does matter. Even PBOT’s Geller, who’s worked on bike planning at the City since the early 1990s, said it hurts our civic brand. “I can assure you that Travel Portland cares,” he said, “Losing that ranking will probably have an economic impact on the city.”

Sadowsky and Geller listen while
Roberts makes a point.

Roberts said the ranking is all about clicks, controversy and subscriptions for Bicycling Magazine. But she admitted that being #4 will hurt Portland’s ability to lead the national movement for better bicycling. Roberts also credited the magazine for “picking up on the collective awareness that other cities are gunning for our title.”

Given the lack of bold steps to improve bicycling in Portland in the past few years, it’s not hard to understand why we fell to #4. When Andersen asked the panel why Portland is no longer considered the cycling superpower it once was, the responses varied.

Sadowsky from the BTA pointed out that of the five top-ranked cities, Portland is the only one without a bike share system (bike share, he said, will cause a 3-4 percent jump in bike use within its first year of operation). Sadowsky also said our lack of a connected pathway system and a lack of protected bike lanes on major streets are other ways we lag behind New York City, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

For Geller, our slide is simply because we’re “Not showing the level of commitment and investment other cities are showing.” He echoed Sadowsky’s sentiments about the lack of high-quality protected bikeways through the central city by sharing the story of how pleasant it was to pedal all the way through Manhattan and Chicago’s downtown loop while conversing with a colleague.

“What we took 15 years to build, we saw that compressed to just a few years in New York and Chicago… They’re doing things faster, better, and with more fearlessness.”
— Jessica Roberts, Alta Planning and Design

“If we had developed some of the things we hoped to develop with our central city project,” Geller said, “we’d still be #1.” (Geller was referring to a $6.6 million Metro grant for downtown bikeways that is sitting on a shelf at PBOT.)

That being said, Geller pointed out that it’s much easier for New York City and Chicago to create protected bikeways because they have very wide streets. “We have harder decisions to make,” he said, referring to our narrow streets, “But we also have experienced the benefits of bicycling for a longer time, so we know better.”

Roberts said Portland is just too slow and cautious. “What we took 15 years to build, we saw that compressed to just a few years in New York and Chicago,” she said. Thanks in large part to strong-willed mayors (and a form of city government — unlike ours — that allows for it), Roberts said those cities are doing things “Faster, better, and with more fearlessness.”

Moving past the #4 ranking, the discussion then turned to Portland’s stubborn cycling statistics. “Why are we stagnating?” Andersen asked.

Both Roberts and Geller said it has a lot to do with infrastructure. We’ve attracted most of the riders, their thinking goes, who are fearless enough to use our current bikeways. “The next group of people that will get on bikes need more than we are offering them today,” is how Geller put it.

Then Geller laid out a new message from PBOT to counter the stagnation narrative. “I want to draw a distinction,” he said, “the city is not stagnating in our efforts, the numbers are stagnating.”

Maybe people need more than this
if we expect biking rates to go up?

One of Sadowsky’s ideas about Portland’s ridership plateau supports Geller’s position. “Follow the jobs and the follow the housing,” he said. “Our economy changed rapidly in ’07 and ’08 and we’re still coming to terms with that.” (Learn more about how rental rates and housing have impacted cycling rates in our latest Real Estate Beat story.)

One culprit all three panelists pointed the finger at was the allure of single-occupancy vehicles, a.k.a. cars. Geller said the City hasn’t made good on promises in its Bike Plan for 2030 that passed four years ago. “Our policy says that we need to make bicycling more attractive than driving for trips three miles or less. We haven’t really done that yet,” he acknowledged. “It’s really easy to drive a car in this city.”

And Sadowsky concurred: “It’s not only easy to drive, it’s cheap. Parking rates are minimal here compared to other cities.”

“Our policy says that we need to make bicycling more attractive than driving… We haven’t really done that yet.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT

Surprisingly, there was no real discussion of how Portland’s current political dynamic at City Hall figures into our stagnation equation (it does). Nor was there any talk of a related issue: the gap that exists in the local advocacy/activism ecosystem (a topic that we’ve discussed at length here on the Front Page).

In the end, I don’t think anyone walked away from this event feeling like everything had been figured out. The event did however mark an important moment: I think it’s safe to say that Portlanders (its city staff, its advocates, and so on) have admitted we have a problem. That’s the first step toward recovery.

And Roberts, a former advocate with the BTA before finding success at Alta, said what really matters now are the next steps we choose to take. “Everyone hates the incumbent and everyone is sick of hearing about Portland,” she said, “This inspires us to push harder and get our edge back. If we turn it around with humility and energy, that will be a way bigger story than going from #1 to #4.”

— Read more about Portland’s cycling stagnation in our archives.

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2,000 missing homes: Prices soar in bikeable areas as Portland’s rental shortage deepens

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:45
Source: Census. Chart by BikePortland.

As Portlanders puzzle over why local bike, bus and rail transportation has stopped rising, last week’s Census figures show another trend continuing to reshape the city’s population.

New construction in the central city hasn’t come close to relieving one of the country’s harshest rental housing shortages.

For structures built before 1940 — the bungalows and walk-ups built before the age of automotive planning that cover most of the land between the Willamette River, 82nd Avenue, Powell and Lombard, including many of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in North America — median rents rose 19 percent in the two years from 2011 to 2013, Census estimates show.

Since 2005, when the City of Portland’s population growth began to dramatically outpace its supply of new units, rent in these central-city buildings has risen 47 percent.

“In Irvington, I can pretty much stick a sign in the yard and have it rented within a couple days,” said Shea McGrath, a broker with Carefree Property Management, in an interview Tuesday.

Citywide, median rents rose 9 percent from 2011 to 2013 and 37 percent since 2005. Nationwide, median rents are up 4 percent since 2011 and 24 percent since 2005.

“In terms of the Portland rental market, I don’t really see anywhere the rents are not increasing,” said Nicholas Cook, owner of Sleep Sound Property Management.

There’s little sign that Portland’s rental housing shortage is easing. The metro area’s rental vacancy rate was just 3.1 percent in 2013, its lowest in at least a decade and the second-lowest in the country after San Jose’s.

In fact, the Portland area’s rental vacancy rate in 2013 was the fourth-lowest recorded for any of the country’s top 75 metro areas in any year since 2005, when the Census began tracking the figure.

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Though people who spend time in central Portland sometimes speak as if the city is in the midst of total transformation, Census figures show the smattering of new four-story apartments on Division, Williams and elsewhere are basically a drop in the housing bucket.

The city’s supply of housing units grew by just 1.6 percent in 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined, according to the Census American Community Survey. The estimated number of households in the city, meanwhile, grew twice as fast.

To the extent that these estimates are accurate, that means that if about 4,000 net new households joined Portland in those years, about 2,000 either shacked up with another household or were priced out entirely by rising home costs. Tens of thousands of other households, of course, simply swallowed the big rent hikes; others moved to neighborhoods they might have avoided a few years before.

“They were already starting at kind of a high deficit in housing — a lot of it is kind of backfilling the deficit,” said Cook of the current construction. “I still think that supply is probably going to be less than the amount of people that are moving in.”

After neighbors protested early plans for Overlook Park Apartments, the developer added on-site auto and bike parking spaces and redesigned the building to target higher-income tenants.
(Image: TVA Architects)

Demolitions of old houses aren’t to blame for the rent increase among those that remain: the Census’ estimate for the number of occupied units in pre-1940 structures actually rose slightly from 2011 to 2013, meaning the number of demolitions was statistically negligible. There’s also little chance it’s just a data fluke. The two-year rent increase among old buildings is far beyond the Census’ margin of error.

“It makes the utmost sense to invest in housing along those corridors … I think if we walk away from that vision, that a better city will not result.”
— Jason Miner, 1000 Friends of Oregon

Instead, tenants and housing experts said vacancies are low and rents soaring for all units in neighborhoods close to the region’s two main job centers: downtown Portland and central Washington County.

“People want to live in those kinds of neighborhoods,” said Jason Miner, executive director of the anti-sprawl nonprofit 1000 Friends of Oregon.

In 2005, Portland’s rental vacancy rate was about 9.7 percent, exactly the same as the national rate and in the middle of the pack for U.S. cities. But over the next few years (years that also, for whatever reason, saw a huge surge in local bicycling) people began pouring into the Portland’s area’s rental housing, driving the metro area’s vacancy rate to the lowest in the country in 2009 and 2010. It’s hovered in the top ranks since, as development has failed to keep up with people’s rising desire to live in Portland.

In response, landlords have apparently seen little reason not to continue raising their prices at about twice the national rate, even faster in walkable, bikeable, transit-rich areas that were originally built without cars in mind.

As rental prices in inner Portland neighborhoods have risen, people who can’t afford it are forced further and further away from their jobs. Once that distance goes beyond the 2-4 mile sweet spot for bicycling, other modes — like driving and transit — start to become more competitive.

The City of Portland, meanwhile, is in the midst of a public comment period for its 20-year comprehensive plan, with many Portlanders urging the city to prevent new development during this process and the zoning and parking reforms that are scheduled to follow.

“It makes the utmost sense to invest in housing along those corridors where we’re going to put more frequent transportation,” Miner said. “I think we’re at a real historic turning point where we’re thinking about balking at that vision. And I think if we walk away from that vision, that a better city will not result.”

The first of four public hearings on the comprehensive plan is tonight. You can also comment by emailing psc@portlandoregon.gov with “PSC Comprehensive Plan Testimony” in the subject line.

— 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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Locally made bikes, beer and music on tap for weekend festival

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 09:51
At this weekend’s Bike & Beer Fest, you can drink local beer while
getting to know local bike makers like Eric Estlund of Winter Bicycles.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

What happens when you mash together two of Portland’s best fall bike events into one, big, blowout weekend party? The Handmade Bike & Beer Festival.

Event poster by Karl Edwards Studio.

Yes, the rumors are true: the Hopworks Urban Brewery Biketobeerfest and the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association Handmade Bicycle Show have come together to form something far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s this weekend and it’s going to be an event you won’t want to miss.

First. There will be bikes. Handmade ones. Crafted by Portland’s excellent crop of bike makers, some of them you’ve probably heard of (like Ahearne Cycles and Breadwinner Cycles) and others who are in the exciting start-up phase (like Machine Cycles and Circa Cycles). In addition to drool-worthy bikes and the people who make them, there will be other bike-related vendors on hand (30 of them to be exact) to stoke your enthusiasm and dress up your existing rig.

And there will be beer. Lots of it. And not just from Hopworks — which we all love, especially here at BikePortland since they’re a long-time advertising partner (thank you!). Like Portland’s bike industry, Portland’s craft beer world is a tight-knit bunch that loves cross-promotion. At this event you’ll find beer from Ex-Novo, Deschutes, Gigantic, Grain Station, Logsdon, Pfriem, Widmer Bothers, and more. And they’ll even have two local cider varieties; Cider Riot! and Reverend Nat’s. Oh my!

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Titanium master Dave Levy of Ti Cycles gave live demonstrations at the 2009 event.

We all know beer goes better with food, so the HUB kitchen will be cooking up sausages, Taco Pedaler will be one hand, and Ruby Jewel Ice Cream will be there for your ice cream and treat cravings.

If beer and cider and yummy food doesn’t thrill you, how about kicking back and enjoying some great live music? There will be four bands spread over the weekend: The Israelites, There Is No Mountain, Bear Water Band, and Shake Up Bluegrass (previously Left Coast Country).

But wait! There’s more!

The Huffy Huck bike-throwing competition will thrill and amaze you, as will the insane moves of the Birth Break Dancers. Add in the Flatlanders BMX stunt crew and a tricycle obstacle course and you’ve got a sure-fire fun time.

After some rain this week, the forecast says it’ll be sunny and warmer on the weekend. There really is no excuse for not making the Bike & Beer Fest a part of your weekend plans.

Tickets are $10 for a basic entry pass, and there are other packages that include drink tickets and official event merch. You can buy tickets, consider volunteering, and learn more about the event on the official website.

See you there!

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Basketball fans, get ready for Blazers Bike Night!

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 14:25
Our fun crowd of biking Blazer fans at the 2010 event.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since the first Bike to Blazers we organized back in 2006, our goal has been to showcase cycling for the Trail Blazers organization, the team, and their many fans. We’ve made solid strides toward that goal, but we’re still hoping to make the biking/Blazers connection much stronger.

I’m happy to say that this year, the Blazers reached out to us early wanting to re-energize the Bike Night event and make it bigger and better than ever. As many of you know, I happen to think biking and the Blazers go great together, so I eagerly accepted.

Let it be known that Sunday, November 2nd is Blazers Bike Night at the Moda Center!

The team is taking on the Golden State Warriors, one of the best teams in the Western Conference. But watching the game is just the icing on the cake. We’ll get a huge group of riders together before the game, then ride as a big group over to the Moda Center campus where we’ll have fun and spread the Blazers Bike Night spirit before the game starts.
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One year, we got to shoot free
throws on the court after the game.

We’re working with the Blazers to make special bike parking available during the game. We’ll also have some bike-related vendors and other pre-game activities for everyone who shows up. We’ll have a sign-making station and face-painting for all the hardcore fans out there.

Inside the arena, BikePortland will have a table set up where we’ll be talking with fans about their bike experiences, answering their questions, passing out maps and other resources, and so on. A reflective sticker is being made just for our event and everyone who buys a ticket through the special Bike Night website (don’t forget to use promo code “BIKE”) will have a chance to win an autographed item from one of the players.

Heather Reeder, our friend in the Blazers front office, has set aside a bunch of tickets for BikePortland readers so we can all sit together and cheer on the team. Blazers Bike Night tickets are $22, plus a $5 online ordering fee (you can, of course buy tickets however you’d like)

Save the date of November 2nd, grab a few tickets for family and friends, and stay tuned for more updates.

*Note: Online ticket sales page won’t work with Internet Explorer. Please use another browser.
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