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After 90 years, American cities are again redefining independence

Fri, 07/03/2015 - 12:33
Sunday Parkways: Just a slice of alternative history.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Sometime in the 1920s, the American auto industry worked very hard and very consciously to achieve a great victory: they successfully associated their product with freedom.

A machine that had been developed to power farm implements and long-distance travel became a way for the wealthy, and gradually the less wealthy, to zoom and roar right through the middle of cities.

As documented by history professor Peter Norton’s 2008 book Fighting Traffic (and many links over the years in BikePortland’s Monday Roundup), many Americans — maybe most of them — didn’t see this as a blow in favor of freedom; just the opposite. They saw it as a takeover of city streets. Even in a world where many more people died of disease and violence than they do today, the public was shocked by the notion that a person’s freedom to zoom down a street could be more important than a child’s freedom to play in it.

The front page of the New York Times, Nov. 23, 1924.

“Children must play,” St. Louis resident C.C. White warned in a letter to the St. Louis Star in 1918. Five years later, a cartoon in that newspaper depicted a car as “The Modern Moloch,” a reference to an Ammonite god who supposedly required the sacrifice of children.

Here in Portland, the mayor, The Oregonian and the police department eventually teamed up to lead a nationally recognized campaign called “Let’s Quit Killing” that treated lethal driving as a private choice but a public problem. Similar movements had already been active in cities across the country.

A 1923 ad in the Cincinnati Post taken out by a coalition of auto dealers.

In Cincinnati in 1923, the American movement against the automotive takeover of cities reached its high-water mark: 10 percent of the city’s population signed a ballot initiative that would have required “speed governors” in every car, devices that mechanically limited traffic speeds to a nonlethal 25 mph within city limits.

The auto industry, rightly realizing that without their big speed advantage cars would never be able to compete with streetcars and bicycles as popular ways to get around a city, poured money into lobbying the public for a “no” vote, referring over and over again to the idea that the law would build a “Chinese wall” around Cincinnati. By the time the campaign was over, fewer people voted for the law than had signed the petition.

It’s enough to make somebody wonder about the country that might have been.

Can you imagine what US cities would be like today if safety advocates of 1920s had successfully capped urban auto speeds to 25 mph?

— Michael Andersen (@andersem) June 16, 2015

In the years that followed, advocates of “motordom,” as they referred to themselves, pulled off their most famous trick: they used a derogatory American term for a country bumpkin, a “jay,” to coin a new word, “jaywalking.”

People using the street casually weren’t exercising freedom, the word implied. They were betraying ignorance and unsophistication. They didn’t belong in U.S. cities; cars did.

All of which hopefully explains why I was so intrigued, a few weeks ago, to notice this tweet:

Crossing the street is putting your life at risk at rush hour. Slow down, jaydrivers!

— Mark (@markecarter) June 17, 2015

And then this one:

#Jaydriver didn't "see" a TriMet bus? No ticket…Why not you ask? Nothing illegal about #jaydriving apparently.

— Mitchell Austin (@msaplanner) June 11, 2015

And also this:

Just witnessed two people #jaydriving on Clinton almost kill a person biking and walking. Help, @NovickOR ! We need a #SaferClinton!

— Bike Loud PDX (@bikeloudpdx) February 11, 2015

Have you had the prickling sense, lately, that the United States is in a new moment? That the Vision Zero movement and those like it are reviving some of the sense of outrage about the lost freedom of urban movement that almost no one still alive remembers?

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Here’s when I felt the prickle: When I noticed that local activist Dan Kaufman had used an image from the Dutch Stop de Kindermoord movement on his Facebook event for May’s traffic safety demonstration on Southeast Powell Street outside Cleveland High School.

The need for the demonstration made me feel sad. But the response to Kaufman’s quick organizing — and the hugely successful two months that Portland livable streets advocates have had since — have made me feel something else: patriotic.

I started to think that even though (unlike in the 1970s Netherlands) almost no one still alive remembers the streets of the 1920s, something big could be happening here in U.S. cities. And that this might be what it looks like.

So when I saw those “jaydriving” tweets, I scrolled through Twitter until I could figure out the people who seemed to be responsible for spreading the term. Then I emailed them to ask why they use the word. Here’s one of them: Mitchell Austin, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Punta Gorda, Florida:

My first encounter with it was April of 2014 when @PedestrianError … used it in a Tweet. … I just started using it from then on as the situation seemed to cry out for it.
Unfortunately the need to use the term seems to occur all too frequently. The social disconnect that autocentric life causes combined with the distraction of all these little screens seems to have enhanced our propensity to do dumb things behind the wheel. The narcissism of blocking a crosswalk…because 5 feet further in my BMW is more important than your life…or the stress-anger stew car commuters sit in for hours a day…to earn a buck to pay for the car?!?!? It all just seems to be going off the rails for so many people.
I say all this not as some militant anti-car guy. I drive, heck I own two cars in a single driver household. However, there is no reason someone should have to buy, fuel, insure, and maintain a 4,000 lbs hunk of steel, rubber & glass in order to get around & earn a living.

And here’s the pseudonymous woman behind the the account @PedestrianError:

I can’t even remember all the folks who’ve used it. … I don’t think I’d use it on someone who was operating a motor vehicle in a city without breaking any laws or at least standard safety practices (like talking on a hand-held phone in a state that hasn’t yet outlawed it) and it’s certainly possible to jaydrive even in an area where a car might be the most efficient way to get around thanks to limited transit, dispersed land uses and/or lousy biking conditions. I see it more as reckless and/or incompetent driving, which is amplified in an area where no driving is really reasonable. I think use of the term has been waxing and waning for a while, probably slowly but unevenly gaining more traction. … I don’t think I picked it up from someone else but I definitely wouldn’t claim to be the first. It just makes sense.

The birth or rebirth of this little word on a social media platform is a small thing. Even the big idea behind the word — that thoughtless driving, not thoughtless walking, is out of place on city streets — isn’t enough to restore the independence Americans lost when we gradually handed city streets over to traffic and began to build our cities around our machines, not fully realizing the costs until it was too late.

But from a gradually spreading grassroots hashtag to a Portland dad worried about his children’s safety to residents mobilizing for a voice on their neighborhood association to one of America’s great cities announcing that despite our country’s choices in the 1920s, we no longer find traffic deaths to be an acceptable price to pay for speeed, the national movement for better streets that’s being built right now is showing signs of a very American attitude. It’s actually the same attitude that advocates of “motordom” had when they gradually wrested control of city streets, supposedly in the name of freedom, 90 years ago.

Independence isn’t something you receive.

Independence is something you declare.

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Dates set for 4th annual Disaster Relief Trials

Fri, 07/03/2015 - 08:26
Participants negotiate a water-carrying checkpoint at last year’s event.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s Disaster Relief Trials are back for the fourth year and there are some exciting changes in store.

Before we get into the details, here’s the mock scenario:

“Imagine this: It’s two days after the big earthquake… roads are broken, fuel is unavailable, but your family and neighbors need supplies. Think you are out of options? Think again! Use your cargo bike!

Portland cyclists are called to test their navigation, problem solving and load hauling mettle on October 17th, 2015 in a disaster drill designed to showcase the relevance of cargo bikes in disaster relief.”

As we’ve been covering since 2011, the tandem rise in popularity of cargo bikes and disaster preparedness have added a lot of momentum and relevance to this event.

Organizers announced earlier this week that the 2015 DRT will be held on October 17th at the campus of the University of Portland. Also new this year is a “hub and spoke” checkpoint arrangement (with U of P as the hub), which will make the event much more spectator friendly.

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If you’ve never seen or participated in this event, we highly recommend checking it out. Competitors show up in all types of bikes and have to go through nearly a dozen grueling checkpoints that require them to do everything from lift their bike (and up to 100 lbs of cargo) over obstacles and carry odd-shaped items. The idea is to demonstrate how resilient bicycles (and the people who ride them) can be after a natural disaster strikes.

In addition to the competition, there will also be an expo where you can learn more about disaster preparedness from the event’s sponsors and partners which include: the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, the Cascade Regional Earthquake Workgroup, and others.

Pre-registration is open and you can sign-up online.

To learn more, read our recap and browse photos from last year’s event, check out and follow @PortlandDRT on Twitter.

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Jobs of the Week: Velotech, Craft Beer Fest, Cascade Bicycle Club

Fri, 07/03/2015 - 07:49

We’ve had three great jobs and one volunteer opportunity listed this week. Learn more about them via the links below…

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. These are paid listings. If you’d like to post a job, you can purchase a listing online by visiting our Job Listings page.

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

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With new authority, TriMet moves to clear unused bikes from its racks

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 16:17
Should keep things a bit clearer.
(Photo: TriMet)

The Portland area’s public transit agency has given itself the power to seize and discard bicycles abandoned at its stations for more than a few days.

As part of a general code overhaul approved last February and effective Wednesday with the start of TriMet’s fiscal year, the TriMet board of directors approved a new code provision allowing for “a bicycle left on any property of the District Transit System for more than 72 hours may be impounded.”

That’s three days.

TriMet’s code change also says that a bicycle can be immediately impounded if it’s parked illegally and “obstructs, interferes with or impedes use of the District Transit System by the public,” or if it’s an “immediate safety threat” in some other way.

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The code requires the district to keep the impounded bike for at least 30 days and to make a “reasonable attempt to notify the owner of the impoundment and a description of how and by what date the bicycle must be claimed.”

The agency can also charge a “reasonable administrative fee” to cover its impoundment expenses.

After the 30-day waiting period, TriMet can then follow its usual procedure for disposal of abandoned or lost personal property.

Of course, many bikes that are abandoned in Portland have recently been stolen. So let’s hope TriMet’s staffers know about Bike Index and Project 529.

Correction 6:20: A previous version of this post listed the wrong number of days in an abandoned bike’s grace period.

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Weekend Event Guide: Freedom, fireworks, camping and more

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 14:49
Go ahead, fly your flag!
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This menu of delicious rides and events is brought to you by our friends at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Their support makes BikePortland possible.

With the heat we’ve been having it’s probably just as well that our calendar of rides isn’t nearly as full as it has been. And the weekend after Pedalpalooza always feels a bit quiet — as if the community takes a collective rest and needs time to recover after three weeks of riding and partying.

That being said, it’s still summer and there’s never a bad day for a ride (and don’t forget to check out our stay-cool tips when you head out).

One note of caution, if you plan to head out to the Gorge through Corbett via the Historic Highway on Saturday (the 4th), remember that the road is closed for a parade from 9:30 am to about noon.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Friday, July 3rd

Northwest Tandem Rally – All weekend in Bellingham, WA
Head north to the sweet city of Bellingham for a full weekend of rides and events for tandem lovers. More info here.

Friday Night Ride – 7:30 pm at Washington High School (SE Stark & 14th)
Looking for a fun ride where you can roll city streets in a group and discover new friends and places? This week’s ride will connect several parks. Expect a chill vibe. More info here.

Saturday, July 4th

Bike Camping at Horning’s Hideout – All weekend
Just a short ride and MAX trip from Portland and you’ll be at a sweet little destination. This ride is being led by non-profit Cycle Wild and they’ve reserved a group site. Just $6 per person. Sign up and learn more here.

PDX Independence Invitational – 6:30 am at Joe’s Celler (NW 21st & Pettygrove)
Feel like tackling a monster of a route (85 miles, 13,000 feet of climbing) on Independence Day? Sign up for the Invitational and you’ll discover some great roads and discover what you’re made of. Registration is $15 or $39 for a team of three. More info here.

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Barbur Without Barbur Fireworks Ride – 9:00 pm at Go By Bike (under the Tram in South Waterfront)
Looking for a cool way to view a professional fireworks show? This ride will take you to a secret viewing spot that’s perfect for watching the fireworks at Oaks Amusement Park. Total mileage from South Waterfront is only five miles round-trip. More info here.

Sunday, July 5th

East County Series – Orient Drive to Troutdale – 10:00 am at Safeway (NE 181st and Halsey)
Join the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club for this exploration of eastern Multnomah County. Expect a moderate pace (14-16 mph) and a route that includes the Sandy River and Troutdale. More info here.

Zoobomb! – 8:30 pm at The People’s Bike Library of Portland (SW 13th and Burnside)
It’s perfect weather to hang out up in Washington Park and enjoy the cool breeze on your ride down the hills. And the MAX trains have great A/C! More info here.

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

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The ‘Bike Peace Music Festival’ is coming to Cascade Locks

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 13:24

What could be better than a weekend “celebrating peace and good health” while riding bikes, camping, and listening to live music in a festival atmosphere in the Columbia River Gorge? And to top it all off, the organizers are encouraging everyone to get their by bike.

The first annual Bike Peace Music Festival is set for July 17th and 18th in Cascade Locks. 200 campsites have been reserved on Thunder Island exclusively for people who bike to the event with their own camping gear.

“This encourages festival attendees to abandon the car and ride to the festival,” says the event’s organizer Marcus Nobel, “Imagine that getting to the festival is part of the festival.”

Nobel is the son of Claes Nobel and a descendent of Alfred Nobel of Nobel Peace Prize fame. He’s president of United Earth, a non-profit partner of the United Nations Environmental Program that “recognizes and promotes environmental leadership and humanitarian excellence worldwide.” United Earth’s main program (and the beneficiary of proceeds from the Bike Peace Music Fest) is the Nobel Peace Curriculum, a set of teachings Nobel and his colleagues are looking to see taught in middle schools, high schools, and colleges.

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In addition to promoting the values of his non-profit, Nobel is riding the Gorge’s bicycle tourism boom. “There’s a $21 million dollar pipeline of bicycle recreation that runs through the Gorge. This will double in a few years when the last remaining 10 miles [of the Historic Columbia River Highway] into Hood River are completed.”

Marcus Nobel

As the Bike Peace Music Fest blossoms (plans for next year are already in the works), Nobel sees it as a way to export the Portland region’s bike culture to a larger audience — and do something even more profound: Show people that it’s possible to promote peace through bicycle culture and human-powered transportation.

“These days peace has a lot of Baggage. Ideology, religion, and politics can be polarizing even on an issue as unifying as peace,” says Nobel. “Science and technology will not solve the problem of war. Politics by its nature is divisive. But the bike has no ideology. And peace is a very big tent. Everyone is welcome!”

Weekend passes for this event are $75 per person and include two nights of camping and tickets to all the concerts (slated to perform so far are Casey Neill and the Norway Rats, Sassparilla, Franco Paletta & The Stingers, Johanna Warren and others). Day passes are also available. Check out for more info.

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Q&A: The League’s outgoing president on state of biking in Portland and beyond

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 09:02
Andy Clarke at the Congressional Reception of the 2013 National Bike Summit in Washington D.C.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

If Andy Clarke has had a single mission in more than a decade at the League of American Bicyclists, it’s this: turning the U.S. bicycling movement from what he calls “a narrow special-interest group that by and large people don’t like” into “a public-interest group.”

“We’ve made such huge strides on the busy streets in cities. But the suburbs are the next great big frontier.”

In a telephone interview the day after announcing his resignation, Clarke said he thinks this is happening — but that even as it gets its ship in order, the movement is facing down a tidal wave.

On Wednesday we spoke with Clarke, 53, about the changes he’s seen during his 11 years at the helm of the national bike advocacy group; about the biggest threat facing the bike movement; and about the unique challenge of further improving biking in Portland.

Clarke seemed to approve of this buffered bike lane in downtown Portland.

How has the League itself changed while you’ve been there?

I moved here to work for the League when it was the League of American Wheelmen in 1988. I’d been working in the same kind of work for an environmental group in England for three or four years out of college. It was 1988 to 1990. Then I left and for about 10 or 12 years, I’d been hearing from other people that I didn’t really feel that the League was playing its role, supporting state and local advocacy. During the 90s you saw the Alliance for Biking and Walking start, the Rails and Trails Conservancy. When I got back, that was changing; the League was kind of getting its act together again and starting to play that national role, first with the National Bike Summit and then with the Bike-Friendly Communities program.

One of the things that makes me happiest about the BFC program was that we looked at more than 800 applications, and in all but a handful of instances, people want to know what the feedback is and they want to get to the next level. They just want to know what to do next, how they can do better and what we think they should do. And then they just go out and do it.

At the federal level and the congressional level, certainly we’ve had our ups and downs. I feel like we’re providing that voice for cyclists and are a good representative for the cause in Congress. It’s a big world out there and the League is a small part of all the activity, but I’d like to think that we’re a part of all that momentum that everyone sees at the state and local level.

Clarke and former Vancouver (WA) Mayor Royce Pollard in 2006.

But overall, the total number of people bicycling at least a few times a year isn’t growing (according to latest study by the National Bicycle Dealers Association) which means it’s shrinking as a share of the population. What do you see as the biggest challenges the biking movement faces?

“There’s kind of a divide, a growing divide, between those cities that get it and are capitalizing on it and those that are not.”

I was pleased that this year at the National Bike Summit we had a big session on suburbia and suburban development. We’ve made such huge strides on the busy streets in cities. But the suburbs are the next great big frontier, and if we think downtown city streets are hard to change, then the expanse of suburbia that has yet to become bicycle friendly can be a little daunting without seeing the evidence that we saw this summer that this is changing, that people are retrofitting the suburbs…

It seems to me that there are places that clearly are getting it, the Portlands and the Boulders and the Davises, and the Minneapolises and the Memphises and the Louisvilles and the New York Cities and the New Orleanses. There, things are flourishing beyond our wildest dreams. My fear is that that success and that progress is not being seen in the suburbs. There’s kind of a divide, a growing divide, between those cities that get it and are capitalizing on it and those that are not.

I’ve been riding to work basically the same way for 25 years, the same trail, from Fairfax county through Arlington County into the District. There are 10 times the number of people riding in the morning compared to 25 years ago.

The challenge is: is that happening throughout Fairfax County? Is that happening in every community in Virginia? Probably not. It would be impossible to say that cycling isn’t thriving and growing in DC and Arlington. What I worry about is once you get off that trail in Fairfax County, the roads are still pretty challenging and intimidating. The schools aren’t very accessible. My kids aren’t riding as much as I would like them to.

I think there’s a generation of kids that we continue to lose to cycling and that we’re not getting invested in cycling. That would be on my list of big-picture worries. There’s not a widespread effort to make sure that every kid that leaves elementary school knows how to ride a bike and has an affinity to that activity.

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It’s sometimes hard for me to imagine how we get from a world where bicycling is perceived as something for them and into a world where it’s perceived as something for everybody. The great strength of the bike movement is that we’ve got so many foot-soldiers who are willing to go out and throw themselves against the bayonets, and the great problem is that people keep throwing themselves against the bayonets.

“The door’s open. We’re at the table. Now’s the time to sit down and start talking to people like normal, rational human beings.”

I was in Nantes, France, for the Velo-City conference. From the mayor of Nantes up to the regional government, the national government who was there, the person from the OECD who was there — to a person, they said basically what we heard from the research up on Capitol Hill. People get that bicycling is part of the solution. That’s not really at question any more. The door’s open. We’re at the table. Now’s the time to sit down and start talking to people like normal, rational human beings… elected officials and heads of chambers of commerce don’t need to be beat around the head with the idea that bicycling is a good thing.

When we do the BFC program, there are too many places where we’ve seen the elected officials and the city staff saying, “Man, we need the advocates to catch up and give us the space to get stuff done.” The local cycling community isn’t helping them enough or showing up to the public meetings or playing the role that they need to to do the protected bike lanes and the more extensive treatments. That’s kind of the wake-up call for us. I look at what my next role might be, and I think, “Hmm, maybe that’s something we need to fix.”

You talk about Portland as a place where things have succeeded, and that’s true. But it also seems like you have the New Orleanses coming up while we’re at a plateau here or in DC, and biking is still far from mainstream. Why is that?

There’s a bunch of stuff you can do that’s relatively easy. I think places like Portland are at the place where the projects get tougher and the decisions get more complicated, and you start to have to make choices between parking and transit and cycling access and taxis. We won’t reach the next level in U.S. cities unless we start to deal with parking and with pricing and with stuff that ostensibly has nothing to do with cycling and actually has everything to do with whether people are riding or not. To make it harder to drive — not to be punitive, but to make a rational choice that actually it makes sense, as we get more people in cities, to make it possible to ride a bike and walk and not have to drive everywhere.

Here in Portland I think one of the things we’re missing with biking is the “Why.” If you could pick one “why” that advocates, city leaders, ordinary people would say more of, what would it be?

The one that seems to raise the most eyebrows for me is that the reliability of the bike is just unimaginable. I know exactly how long it takes me to get to work in the morning and how long it takes to get home in the evening. The bike is so reliable and flexible and adaptable. There is no one who goes by transit or drives that can say it with a straight face; it could take them 20 minutes, and it could take them two hours.

You’re right, I’ve never heard that one before. So what are you looking to do next?

I’m looking to spend a little time riding my bike and enjoying the summer and to try to figure out from me, with a little bit of distance from things, where I can continue to make a difference to the movement. It’s an extraordinary group of people and institutions to work with, and I want to figure out how I can continue to play a valuable role.

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Democrats in state Senate join Republicans to kill neighborhood income diversity bill

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 07:24
Though the bill would have affected only condos and other owner-occupied homes, some rallied around it as a seemingly achievable way to preserve income diversity in bike-friendly areas like Southeast Division Street.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A bill that would have let Oregon cities require some condominiums in some new housing projects to be sold for below-market prices reportedly died in the state Senate on Wednesday.

One leading advocate for inclusionary zoning, as such policies are known, said late Wednesday that Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Southeast Portland) had “opted against a final caucus on the bill, claiming that the votes aren’t there.”

“We believe otherwise,” added the advocate, Jonathan Ostar of Portland-based OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, in an email to supporters of House Bill 2564. “It’s beyond frustrating that the caucus won’t get to discuss this last amendment.”

The bill’s backers include the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Upstream Public Health, Transportation for America and other groups looking for ways to keep Portland’s decade-long housing shortage from making it impossible for most people to afford homes in Portland’s bikeable, walkable neighborhoods.

Even advocates of inclusionary zoning regularly describe it as an incomplete, though useful, response to the massive problem of affordable housing. Because of the wording of a different Oregon law that bans rent control, HB 2564 as written probably couldn’t have be used to regulate prices in new apartment buildings. But advocates have pushed it as a way to preserve income diversity in resident-owned buildings and neighborhoods.

Opponents of inclusionary zoning, most notably the Oregon Home Builders Association, have argued that Oregon should continue forbidding its cities to enact laws that they see as violating private property rights.

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It’s a surprising turnaround for a bill that up until a month ago seemed likely to pass thanks to large Democratic majorities in both state houses.

As the bill neared death, its most powerful advocate seemed to be House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-North Portland. Here’s Ostar on her role:

Speaker Kotek went above and beyond, drafting a second amendment that reflected Builders’ ongoing concerns while staying firm on the integrity of the policy tool and flexibility for local jurisdictions statewide. She personally shopped the amendment to key Senators, and we believed we had a pathway to move the bill over these final few days. …

Speaker Kotek is calling for a hearing on her final amendment, which we support. It appears the legislature will be working through the weekend, which means there is time for something to shift, however unlikely. I will let folks know if there is any movement on her call for a hearing, which might provide us an opportunity to mobilize a final time this session to show Senate leadership the breadth of support for this bill. Practically speaking, we may not get much notice on this, but we’ll do what we can.

In the meantime, it would be great if folks could email/call/write thank you notes to the Speaker for her leadership. Eventually we’ll circle back with Reps. Williamson and Keny-Guyer and others who were instrumental in getting us this far, but for the moment, let’s make sure Speaker Kotek knows how much we appreciate her work. She definitely extended herself. This one lays squarely at the feet of current Senate leadership.

“Oregonians are feeling real impacts of a statewide housing crisis every day, so the Speaker believed it was important to continue working until the end of the session to give local governments this tool,” Lindsey O’Brien, Kotek’s spokeswoman, said in an email to The Oregonian Wednesday.

— 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.

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Take the no-sweat challenge (and other tips to survive the heat)

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 15:34
If you see water, ride through it.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s hot out there and it doesn’t look like we’ve got much relief in sight.

To cope with the high temps, I’ve started doing something new this year. I call it the no-sweat challenge. I figured now was a great time to share more about that and all the other tricks we know in hopes of keeping more of you — comfortably — on the bike. (Because there’s no reason to stop riding in the heat. And besides, MAX is unreliable over 90-degrees and auto traffic has been hellish in Portland lately.)

OK. Back to the no-sweat challenge: The challenge is to not break a sweat while riding or when you get to your destination. How? Simple! Just don’t pedal hard. Shift into a very easy gear and just spin easily as if you are dawdling through the park on a Sunday afternoon. Not only will you stay cooler, but you’ll find that by going slower you’ll have a much more enjoyable and safer experience overall (as will the people you share the road with). It’s a win-win of stay cool and creating a more courteous biking culture.

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Dan has the right idea.

Here are some other quick tips culled from my own experiences and reader comments over the years:

Ride through fountains and other water sources whenever possible: Portland has water in parks, in plazas, in rivers, and so on. Adjust your route to ride through water and get soaked!

Carry your bags on your bike, not your body: Wearing a backpack in the heat is the worst. If you can, plop your bags on a pannier rack or in a basket.

Adjust your schedule: If at all possible, try to ride early in the morning or later in the evening to miss peak scorching.

Freeze your bottles: Oldest trick in the book.

Soak your shirt or other items before heading out: Lots of folks swear by wrapping a wet bandanna around their neck or under their helmet. Other variations on this tip include wearing a wet t-shirt and/or wrapping a sock full of ice around your neck.

Chill out when you’re done: As you ride, the wind keeps you cool and evaporates your sweat. But don’t let your guard down when you get to your destination. Make sure you take several minutes to cool off and gather yourself or you could get dizzy and queasy from heat exposure.

Drink a lot of water: ‘Nuff said.

What are you best tips for riding in this heat?

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Major regional timber company now requires permit on popular logging roads

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 14:00
New sign spotted near
Green Mountain in Vernonia area.
(Photo by Tyler Robertson/Two Wheel Travel)

I have some bad news, some good news, and some very good news.

First, the bad news…

As of today (July 1st), timber company Weyerhaeuser Columbia Timberlands has started a new program that requires all users of their tree farms and other land in Columbia and Washington counties to have an official permit. This new “recreational access program” is something Weyerhauser has done on their land in other parts of the United States but it’s a first here in our region. The company owns about 126,000 acres in dozens of parcels between Portland, Longview and the Oregon Coast.

As you can from the lead photo, new signs have already been posted.

This is a big deal because many of these roads have become popular routes in recent years as gravel riding has taken off. Making matters worse is that Weyerhaeuser only issued 100 non-motorized use permits (and that was only after they were urged by bicycling advocates to sell more) and the $50 permits are already sold out.

This means some of our favorite routes, like the Bacona-Pisgah road between Scappoose and the Banks-Vernonia Trail are now off-limits unless more permits are made available (or a friend will let you borrow theirs).

In Weyerhaeuser’s map image below, the purple parcels now require a permit:

In an email about the new program, a Weyerhaeuser rep shared with us that, “This recreational access program allows us to have more control over who is on our land.” So far there’s no indication that the new program was put into place in response to an increase in use by bicycle users. Sources tell us the main use-management issue Weyerhaeuser faces on these lands is hunters and motorized vehicle users.

And now the good news:

This new permit program is only in effect through December 31st of this year. Hopefully at that time Weyerhaeuser with either release more non-motorized permits, or simply revert back to how things were before. The company says it’s likely the permits are here to stay and will transition into a year-round program. Here’s how the Weyerhaeuser rep put it in a recent email:

“Since the program is new we are taking it slow and allowing ourselves time to make improvements in our program prior to the next implementation season.”

And now the very good news:

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For years, people have enjoyed riding the mountain bike trails south of Scappoose. They’ve long been owned by timber companies that have allowed bicycling as long as the rules were followed. However, with the adoption of this new program, Weyerhauser put a popular 190-acre parcel up for grabs to the highest bidder. When word spread of this last week there was panic in biking circles because whoever won would own an exclusive recreational lease on the property.

Dabby Campbell riding the Ventura Park
pump track in 2012.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Northwest Trail Alliance was offered a one-year lease, but due to liability insurance issues they were unable to secure it.

Today we confirmed the good news that a local bike advocate and experienced trail builder won the lease. His name is John “Dabby” Campbell and he is already putting together a new advocacy group — “Friends of Scappoose” — to help him manage the parcel in a responsible way.

Campbell is a former Portland bike messenger who now works as a custom trail builder. He’s a dedicated volunteer with the NW Trail Alliance and has worked with parks agencies around the region to develop and maintain pump-tracks, a service he also provides for private clients. (Want fun bike trails in your backyard? Dabby is the man to call.)

Reached today for comment, Campbell said he’ll work with members of existing local clubs and advocacy organizations to decide who can use the property. “This allows to offer it to as many users as possible, while still staying within the confines of the lease.” Campbell added that he has already been in contact with Weyerhaeuser and people who live adjacent to the property and will develop a simple management plan that, “reflects directly upon the many years of already amazing stewardship shown by various user groups.”

As for how much he paid for the lease, Campbell didn’t say exactly. “I will just say, that for less than the price of a daily 12 oz Latte, I have secured for 1 year the the Northside Scapoose Trails for qualified responsible users.”

To help offset costs, Campbell has launched a crowdfunding effort at He hopes to raise $3,000 to offset the cost of the lease, insurance, legal fees, and maintenance.

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Ride Along with Kimberlee Chambers: Gresham to inner southeast Portland

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 12:32
Kimberlee Chambers crossing SE 122nd and Halsey.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

— This post was made possible by Portland Design Works, a local company that designs beautiful and functional parts and accessories for everyday cycling. Kimberlee is one of three winners of our Ride Along Contest held last March.

From neighborhood highways to neighborhood greenways, from bike paths that double as both wildlife corridors and homes to families with nowhere else to go, Kimberlee Chambers’ 12-mile work commute offers a stunning diversity of riding experiences.

Chambers, 44, moved to Portland in 2007 after earning a PhD in Geography from the University of California at Davis. She lives near SE 26th and Division and works at Organically Grown, a food distributor in Gresham (located at 201st and Sandy). In a first for our Ride Along series (at Chambers’ suggestion) I joined her on the evening commute in order to see the route in its full glory.

After getting a tour of her office and the Organically Grown factory where they ripen tens of thousands of bananas a day in high-tech, climate-controlled silos, Chambers grabbed her bike from the employee bike parking area and we set off.

A paved path lines the eastern edge of the industrial block where Chambers works. What’s this path for? I asked. “It’s the Gresham-Fairview trail!” she replied. Turns out the City of Gresham required its construction when the factory went in. The path is nice, but when we came to the end of the block and I saw this sign:

Then, in order to continue south, we either had to brave an underpass with no bike lane or shoulder, or cross to get onto the I-84 multi-use path. Chambers opted for the latter.

The path ends abruptly and forces you to cross at this awkward angle.Entering the I-84 path.

The I-84 path is similar to the I-205 path (built by ODOT alongside a major freeway), but it’s not nearly as well-known or popular. I realized why almost immediately: it’s very close to the freeway. You can feel the concrete slabs shake and rumble as noisy traffic flies past. And then there’s the wind. This is the Gorge after all. Chambers told me stories about ice sheets and the “wicked winters” she faces. “It’s a different weather system out here,” she said.

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Looking south on 181st and trying to re-connect with the I-84 path on the other side of the freeway.She opts for the sidewalk because it feels safer.The path entrance is just feet from a freeway off-ramp.Nice view of Mt. Hood.

Despite these challenging conditions, Chambers also sees the positives. “I’ve been paced by an Owl and a pair of coyotes once crossed in front of me,” she said. And then there are the views: St. Helens to the north and Mt. Hood to the east.

Chambers also has more somber views, like when a homeless camp sprung up along the path last winter. “I wasn’t worried about my safety,” she shared, “I was worried I would hit one of the kids that were running around.” Turns out there were two families with small children in the encampment (which has since been cleared out by a railroad company).

At 181st we rolled off the path and onto a series of sidewalks and crosswalks to cross south under I-84 and get back on the path to continue westbound. At this point, we were riding directly into oncoming freeway traffic. It was sort of thrilling at first. Then stressful. Then I just wanted it to be over. But Chambers was tough. She didn’t seem to mind it at all. “I think of it [I-84] as a river,” she said, “it’s always moving and changing.”

The traffic noise is deafening.This truck came pretty close while we were waiting for a light at the exit of the I-84 path at 122nd.

At 122nd we got off the path and headed south. 122nd is a major north-south corridor in East Portland and it’s recently been the subject of considerable attention (and funding) from the Bureau of Transportation. Unfortunately conversations about 122nd’s future haven’t included the addition of a protected bike lane.

122nd in all its glory.It doesn’t work.

When I told Chambers about the possibility of a protected bike lane on 122nd she said, “Oh, that would be awesome… 122nd is definitely where most of my close calls happen.” As we rode on high alert, she told me when driving gets clogged up, people swoop across the bike lane and drive right through the parking lane for blocks at a time.

122nd is one of PBOT’s High Crash Corridors and a few years back they installed overhead banners to encourage safer behaviors. As we rode under one that read, “Hang up and drive,” Chambers yelled, “That’s had zero impact!” No sooner were those words out of her mouth did we see a man driving a truck with a phone jammed into his ear.

But like she did on the I-84 path, Chambers embraced the conditions (and her college degrees) and focused on her good fortune of being able to experience such a diverse range of people and places on what she thinks of as her “transition time from work to home.”

As we squeezed through rush-hour traffic, Chambers said, “You sure don’t get guys driving by with their windows down playing heavy metal music in my neighborhood.”

From 122nd, we turned right onto Burnside and headed west toward I-205. Burnside is relatively comfortable here (especially compared to 122nd) because of its narrow lane and bike-only lane. While people drive close, they are usually traveling at much lower speeds than other streets in east Portland.

I-205 at Burnside.I-205 path.Quiet residential street approaching Mt. Tabor Park.

After we crossed I-205 we hopped on the path and went south for a few miles before heading west and winding our way toward Mt. Tabor Park via Yamhill, 76th and Harrison. Being in the calm, tree-lined streets of southeast Portland was a stark shift from where we had just came from.

Sharrows on Harrison leading into Mt. Tabor Park.Speed bumps on SE Lincoln.

Once through Mt. Tabor we rolled onto SE Lincoln and enjoyed the relaxing neighborhood greenway environment all the way to 26th.

In took us about an hour to get from Gresham to inner southeast Portland. The route would stress most people out, but Chambers revels in what she calls her “daily adventure.”

Thanks for letting us tag along Kimberlee!

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this adventure with us. Our next Ride Along will take me from Vancouver to Lake Oswego when I join fireman William Sanders for what should be an interesting 20-mile commute. Stay tune! And thanks again to Portland Design Works for sponsoring this series.

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Metro launches #BikeThere2015 Instagram contest

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 08:58

Metro is running a contest all this month to promote the new edition of the Bike There! map.

You can enter the contest and win cool prizes; but you have to have an Instagram account (like Metro does). To enter, “post your photos of life on two wheels” and use the hashtag #bikethere2015. Metro says they want to see shots of, “stunning sunsets, remote destinations, your favorite trail or the everyday things in your neighborhood that you can only see when traveling by bike.”

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Each week’s winner will receive prizes ranging from bike shop gift certificates, bike accessories and a free map. One grand prize winner will get a big gift pack and the photo will be published in Our Big Backyard, Metro’s quarterly magazine.

We’re big fans of this map because it’s the highest quality, most complete representation of the entire region’s bicycling routes you can buy (and I don’t say that just because they’re currently advertising with us). As an added bonus, they’ve dropped the price this year to just $6.

You can find out if you’ve won by checking Metro’s Instagram account where they will announce the winners each week.

Good luck!

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Did you know ODOT revises the driver’s manual every two years?

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 08:17
Detail of Oregon Driver’s Manual.

We didn’t either.

Neither did Ray Thomas, the man who literally wrote the book on Oregon bike law (and has personally written and/or lobbied for many of them). Neither did Rob Sadowsky, the executive director of the largest bicycle advocacy organization in the state, or Noel Mickelberry, the leader of Oregon Walks.

“It caught us totally off guard,” Sadowsky shared with me this morning, “And it points to a lack of collaboration.”

This is a big deal because the 84-page Oregon Driver’s Manual impacts how people learn to behave on the road. It’s probably the one source of traffic law nearly every driver has consulted at least once and it’s used in court to justify behaviors both right and wrong. Making sure the driver’s manual presents information accurately and from a variety of perspectives — especially the most vulnerable road users — is a key component of the gradual march toward Vision Zero.

Suffice it to say I was surprised to get an email from Thomas about this last Friday (June 26th). After hearing about the revision in passing from a friend on a bike ride, he reached out local advocates wondering if anyone had been given the opportunity to weigh in on the process. Thomas was exasperated in his email because Friday the 26th was also the last day ODOT was accepting feedback.

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“I only found out about the revision almost by accident and I am glad I did,” Thomas wrote, “because under Oregon law many judges allow the text of the Oregon Driver Manual into evidence against an injured vulnerable user.”

“I only found out about the revision almost by accident and I am glad I did… These Driver Manuals are used against my injured clients in court all the time.”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer

The manual is not intended to have any legal authority (it says so right on the opening page), but that doesn’t stop judges and even police officers from using it as such. “These Driver Manuals are used against my injured clients in court all the time,” Thomas cautioned.

Thankfully, Thomas got his comments in on time (no word yet whether his suggestions will be incorporated). Below is just a sampling of his feedback:

-p. 20 says “bike lane” is a “solid white line” – however in many intersections the bike lane is a broken white line which is intended to indicate a “mixing zone”.

-p. 24 under “passing” fails to indicate that a driver may drive on the left side in a no passing zone when an “obstruction or condition exists making it necessary” “provided that a driver doing so shall yield the right of way to all vehicles travelling in the proper direction….” ORS 811.420(3)(b).

-p. 26. “Passing on the Right”. This section should include reference to ORS 811.415 (2)(c) which states that “overtaking and passing on the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.”

– p. 29 and 30 “Turns” should state “You may turn across a bicycle lane after yielding the right of way. Do not move into a bicycle lane in preparation for a turn. Always check your mirrors and over your shoulder before turning, and if you don’t know, don’t go. You must also stop for pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists on sidewalks.”

– p. 38 the manual includes this sentence: “Inexperienced bicyclists can be unpredictable.” It should be changed to, “You may not be able to predict a bicyclist’s intentions.”

I followed up with ODOT to find out more about their process for revising the manual. DMV spokesman David House said they treat it like any other publication update and don’t have a formal public comment period. “But we consider suggestions from the public, lawmakers, etc.,” he said.

When I asked him specifically who had reviewed the manual this time around he said it was a mix of staff from the DMV, ODOT’s Safety Division, law enforcement officials, and staff from other divisions within ODOT.

House added that they’ll accept feedback from the public at any time and will consider it “in the next review.” The best way to share your comments and suggestions, House advised, is to “use the contact information links on”

I can appreciate that ODOT updates a lot of publications and that a formal public process for each of them could be cumbersome. But I think they need to slow down a bit and consider getting more feedback and perspectives on the Driver’s Manual — especially at a time when the public is clamoring for Vision Zero, traffic fatalities are up over 43% so far this year and we know that many people have complete disregard for safety and the law when they get behind the wheel.

The new version of the manual — which will hopefully include Ray Thomas’s suggestions — should start appearing at your local DMV by January 2016.

To see the current draft ODOT staff is currently revising, download this PDF.

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Industry Ticker: Timbuk2 set to open retail store in Portland

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 14:36
Front of new store on SW Stark.
(Photo: Timbuk2)

San Francisco-based Timbuk2, a bag brand with deep ties into the bicycle industry, will open a retail store in Portland next month. This is the company’s eighth flagship store in North America (they also have stores in Toronto, Venice Beach, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago).

The new store is on SW Stark between 11th and 12th, across the street from West End Bikes (and just around the corner from Chrome, another national brand in the same product niche). Bike-centric highlights of the new Timbuk2 store include a repair station with loaner tools and an air pump and a free bikeshare program for customers who need some wheels.

A launch party happens on July 11th and will feature food, music, and a raffle to benefit the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Learn more in the press release below:

Timbuk2 Opens Up Shop and “Factory 2” Custom Bag Building Workshop in Portland on July 6

The San Francisco original celebrates opening with an interactive customization station, bikeshare program and public Launch Party on July 11

SAN FRANCISCO (June 25, 2015) – Timbuk2, a San Francisco original, today announces the opening of its Portland store on Monday, July 6.

Timbuk2’s newest North American retail space is located at 1142 SW Stark Street in the exciting, progressive West End District, just blocks from famed Powell’s Books and across the street from West End Bikes, a haven for Portland cyclists. Situated in the street level spaces of the Mark Spencer Hotel, Timbuk2 partnered with award winning retail design firm, Gensler, to bring the historic location to life as a truly unique, community-minded shop, while staying true to it’s natural character. The original fire-damaged ceiling and exposed vintage hardwood columns are left in tact, making Timbuk2 Portland truly one-of-a-kind.

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Store highlights include:

· An indoor parklet designed for hosting events and community meetings
· Complimentary bike repair station with permanent bike pump and tools for public use
· “Factory 2”, a custom bag building workshop designed to inspire and encourage guests to design their own, made in SF | CA bag
· “Rob’s Wall”, in “Factory 2”, inspired by Timbuk2 founder Rob Honeycutt’s original SF workspace, showcasing the storied evolution of Timbuk2
· Lifetime warranty on all products and a full stock of replacement parts for easy in-store repairs
· Custom made, handcrafted tables and fixtures made from locally-sourced wood to display Timbuk2 products
· A complimentary bikeshare program featuring PUBLIC bikes, Lazer helmets, Timbuk2 messenger bags and Kryptonite bike locks

Timbuk2 worked with Gensler to create “Factory 2,” the in-store custom bag building workshop inspired by 25 years of manufacturing in San Francisco. “Factory 2” features a vintage sewing machine, cassette and headphone music station where customers can listen to tunes, and a not-so-secret peep-hole that reveals streaming footage and audio from Timbuk2’s San Francisco factory. In “Factory 2”, guests dive into the iconic bag building experience, where they can design a one-of-a-kind backpack, messenger bag or tote with over 60 fabric and finish combinations. Custom bags are then made-to-order in San Francisco and ship within 5-7 business days.

Timbuk2 Portland will showcase the company’s product line of more than 100 styles of bags and accessories, including a series of limited edition Oregon State patch bags, Classic Messenger and Prospect Packs, all available while supplies last.

“Opening a store in Portland was a natural choice for us,” says CEO Patti Cazzato. “This is a town with a strong sense of community and a thriving bike culture – core values that drive us at Timbuk2. We are excited to officially be part of the Portland scene.”

To celebrate the store’s arrival in Portland, a public Launch Party will take place on Saturday, July 11 from 12pm – 7pm. Highlights include:

· Bites from Portland’s own Voodoo Doughnut and Hop Dog with libations from a Portland-based brewery
· Relax and be entertained by live funk artist Elliot Ross of Moongriffin and a DJ spinning real vinyl
· Pedal your way to winning a free custom bag in the Timbuk2 Bike Sprints competition
· Complimentary bike valet
· Enter the raffle to win a new Payette bicycle from Miir and products from Timbuk2, with 100% of the funds benefitting Portland-based Bicycle Transit Alliance (BTA)
· The first 60 customers will receive a complimentary tote made from upcycled ballistic nylon
· All customers during the event will receive a gift with purchase

More details on the party and to RSVP:

— Want more bike industry news? Check out the Ticker archives.

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Friends remember Austin Crenshaw; memorial service tomorrow

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:15

“Austin Crenshaw, adventurer, animal lover, cyclist, and all around amazing gentleman died during a bike ride in the Columbia River Gorge at the age of 37. He was doing an activity he loved and surrounded by people who loved him.”

Austin Crenshaw wasn’t a Portland native, but his presence and way of living inspired a lot of deep friendships — many of them forged on long bike rides and on the race course.

Austin was on one of those rides this past Saturday morning. With friends at his side, the very skilled rider leaned into a corner and reportedly lost control of his bike. As he overshot the curve, someone was driving a car in the opposite direction and a collision ensued. Despite attempts to save his life, he passed away minutes later.

Austin’s friend Erin Playman was on that ride. Now she’s encouraging anyone who knew Austin and who was touched by his good nature, sportsmanship, and love of life, to attend a funeral service tomorrow in southeast Portland.

In the past few days I’ve gotten to know Austin by reading heartfelt remembrances from his friends and piecing together his life through various postings. I know that he and his partner Reagan Ellis were in love and in a great life together (with their dog, a Weimaraner named Abel). I know he leaves behind a family and many friends across the country who also loved him. And I know he and I shared a common love of bicycling in all its wonderful forms: his social media postings are full of photos of racing, riding with friends, the thrill of participating in a big Pedalpalooza ride, a poignant reflection after seeing a ghost bike, indignation during a mountain bike protest ride, and so on.

To help you understand what kind of person we’ve lost — and to encourage more appreciation of his life — I’ll share a few thoughts from people who’ve emailed me about him in the last 24 hours.

Jessica Barton:

“Austin and my husband Mat shared a love for cycling and spent many days riding and racing together. They were on the same racing team at the time of Mat’s accident at PIR 3 years ago, when Mat sustained a T-4/5 spinal cord injury. Throughout Mat’s hospitalization and adjustment into life with Paraplegia, Austin and Reagan have been among our core support network of friends who have jumped at every chance to help me and Mat out with anything we have needed.

Austin held my hand and cried with me when Mat was in the hospital, he rode solo in the “6 hours of Mt. Hood” event in Mat’s honor as a fundraiser for Mat, he and Reagan helped with numerous other fundraisers on Mat’s behalf and they even painted our apartment at the time and then later helped us with remodel work once we bought a home… He became like family… We miss him so much already and seek to be there for Reagan in whatever way we can.”

Aaron Chamberlain:

“I’ve known Austin since 2006 when I met him here in Atlanta, Georgia. He was an integral part of the cycling community here just as he was in Portland after moving there…

He was truly a special person: generous, kind, smart, funny, talented. He had amazing skills on the bike. One of those guys that didn’t do any structured training, but would show up and spank everyone’s asses, and didn’t need the latest and greatest bike to do it on either…

Some of my best and worst (but most memorable) rides were with Austin. I spent a few months in Portland in 2009 and we rode together several times a week. Usually up in the hills of West Portland or out in the Gorge towards Mt. Hood. I’ve never seen him go down on his road bike or ride recklessly. What happened to him was an utter tragedy…

Cycling wasn’t his only passion either, he just loved the outdoors. Hiking, camping, snowboarding. His knowledge of music approached scholarly levels and he himself was a drummer.

There are many here in Atlanta that are absolutely crushed and devastated by Austin’s passing. Several of us are flying out to Portland for his service later this week. There will also be a memorial ride here for those that can’t make the trip out to Oregon.”

He rode with TeamJVA, who posted these thoughts and wonderful photo of Austin on Instagram:

I'm having an impossible time processing how sad I am about losing my friend and riding companion Austin this weekend. He was without question one of the nicest people I've ever known. Always eager. Always up for any ride. He was my most trusted wheel, and I have thousands of pictures of him from the back all over Oregon to prove it. I'm devastated that none of us will get to spend hours each week in the saddle with him, but feel so lucky to have explored so much of the state in his company. We're all better off having known him. This picture is how I'll remember him. Looking back while politely dropping everyone. Smiling.

A photo posted by Jason / Joino / Goggles (@teamjva) on Jun 29, 2015 at 4:22pm PDT

A funeral for Austin will be held at Holman’s (2610 SE Hawthorne) from 1:00 to 3:00 pm (there will be a viewing at 1:00 pm and a ceremony at 3:00). Visit this page for an obituary and more details about the service.

Rest in peace Austin.

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Photo radar bill passes out of committee, moves toward floor votes – UPDATED

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 09:07
Map of Portland’s 10 High Crash Corridors.

It’s looking likelier that Oregon’s legislature will give Portland the right to gradually install 20 well-marked but unmanned anti-speeding cameras on its 10 deadliest streets.

House Bill 2621 was approved by the Joint Ways and Means committee in a nearly party-line vote Monday afternoon, sending the bill to the House and Senate floors.

Fourteen Democrats plus Salem Republican Jackie Winters voted for the bill to move ahead with a “do pass” recommendation. Nine Republicans voted against it.

Portland leaders including Mayor Charlie Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick have urged traffic safety activists to help them push for the bill. At the recent BikeLoudPDX safe streets rally, Hales told the crowd to “Put pressure on the legislature” to pass HB 2621, and said it would, “Let us use technology to make our streets safer.”

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If passed by both houses and signed by Governor Kate Brown, it’ll be a significant legislative victory for the City of Portland, which says unmanned cameras are proven ways to reduce dangerous speeds, and therefore needless deaths.

The city is currently allowed to use manned photo radar cameras for traffic enforcement, but the need for an officer to be present drives up the expense of operating them, reducing their hours of effectiveness.

The city has estimated that the 20-camera program would reduce excessive speeding in their locations by 61 percent, preventing about 1,800 injuries and saving about 16 lives over the next six years. At that rate, the associated economic benefits from prevented collisions would be in the neighborhood of $70 million.

Fines for people photographed driving 11 to 20 mph over the speed limit typically start at $160.

Concerns about the bill have included its privacy implications and questions of whether a surge of automated speeding citations would be difficult for the state’s court systems to process.

You can read more about HB 2621 and Oregon’s 2015 legislative session in our archives.

UPDATE: HB 2621 passed the House today by a vote of 31-24. It is now in the Senate.

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Weekend Event Guide: Parties galore, nakedness, MTB racing, and more

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 20:45

Something awesome will happen Saturday night.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This menu of delicious rides and events is brought to you by our friends at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Their support makes BikePortland possible.

We’re having a heat wave, Pedalpalooza is coming to a close, the Supreme Court just voted to support gay marriage across the land and the largest free bike ride of the year is just one day away.

Suffice it to say this is going to be a memorable weekend.

Whether you partake in the costuming, dancing, nakedness or not, there are tons of options to get you inspired to ride. If you do get out there, pack some cold water or a few bucks to stop and get a cold drink (cough, HUB, cough) or frozen treat along the way. It’s gonna’ be hot!

Friday, June 26th

Chrome Hub Portland 3-year Anniversary Party – 4:00 to 9:00 pm at 425 SW 10th Ave
Portland’s Chrome store is three years old and they’re throwing a party. This event is a chance to toast this great local shop, hang out with Portland bike messengers, and it’s also a fundraiser for Aaron Edge, an employee of Western Bike Works recovering from a major mountain biking injury. More info here.

PEDALPALOOZA: Prince vs. Bowie – 8:00 pm at Sewallcrest City Park (SE 31st and Market)
This much-anticipated annual ride will give Bowie and Prince fans a chance to fly their flags. It’s a mobile dance party that always brings out memorable 80s-themed garb. Fans of the respective pop icons will start in different locations and then merge for the big dance-off. More info here (FB).

Saturday, June 27th

Ride for Schools – 7:00 am at Aloha High School (18550 SW Kinnaman Rd in Aloha)
Choose from 25 or 40-mile routes and full support while knowing that 100% of all proceeds benefit area schools. More info here.

Petal Pedal – All day in Silverton, Oregon
Gourmet food, wonderful rural Oregon backroads, and lots of fun people to ride with await you at this annual ride. There are multiple ride options and it all starts in the beautiful Oregon Garden. More info here.

Opening Party for South Waterfront Greenway – 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at SW Curry & Gaines
Join the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau to celebrate the opening of this fantastic new path along the South Waterfront. Enjoy educational stations and a discussion by Buster Simpson, the artist whose work appears along the path. More info here.

Biker Juice Bar at Pioneer Courthouse Square – 12:00 to 3:00 pm Pioneer Courthouse Square
The organizers of this family-friendly event, Dynacraft, call it an “experiment in fun.” Roll over to the Square to take advantage of their free, pop-up, “biker-themed” juice bar featuring games, music, activities and more. More info here.

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PEDALPALOOZA: Multnomah County Bike Fair – 2:00 to 7:00pm at SE 17th and Woodward
The perfect prelude to the World Naked Bike Ride, this event will feature traditional feats of biking skill like jousting, a slow race, bike limbo, and much more. More info here

World Naked Bike Ride – 9:00 pm at Colonel Summers Park (SE 20th and Belmont)
This is it. The Big One. Record crowds are expected in what has become an unprecedented showing of body positivity, happiness through bicycling, and so much more. More info here.

Sunday, June 28th

‘Roads Were Not Built for Cars’ Author Talk – 7:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd)
Bike journalist and author Carlton Reid will host a chat about his fantastic new book, Roads Were Not Built for Cars. Carlton is visiting all the way from the U.K., so let’s not let him down! Seriously, he’s a very smart and affable guy who spent years researching this book which provides undeniable facts about the history of road advocacy in America. More info here.

Six Hours of Mt. Hood – 10:00 am at Mt Hood Ski Bowl
Head up to Hood for this cross-country mountain biking relay race. Do it as a team or solo. Either way you’re guaranteed to have fun on the six-mile course designed by the same folks who bring us the Mountain Bike Short Track series at PIR. More info here.

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

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Large crowd at City-sponsored symposium learns evils of free parking

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 15:35
The crowded auditorium at the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s parking symposium Monday.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

“Our cities have minimum bedroom requirements for cars but not minimum housing requirements for people.”
— Jeffrey Tumlin

If anyone needed evidence that parking policy matters to Portlanders, it arrived at the Portland Building Monday in the form of 130 people, many armed with pen and paper, to attend a five-hour “symposium” on the subject.

The event organized by the Portland Bureau of Transportation drew a who’s-who of neighborhood association and city transportation officials. One was Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, who said that parking was the transportation issue he hears about more than any other.

The keynote speaker, Nelson\Nygaard parking consultant Jeffrey Tumlin, presented a 16-point parking strategy that revolved around a single concept: parking is too expensive and too valuable for us to conceal its costs inside the price of everything else we buy.

The key, Tumlin said, is to recognize that the cost of building and maintaining every parking space at the mall is already a burden on the public: it’s built into the price of every shirt that’s on sale inside.

“It’s not that the parking is actually free, it’s that instead of having the motorist pay for it, we’re having everybody pay for it,” he said. “You may only have 15 percent of the population without a car, but those 15 percent are subsidizing the parking for everyone else.”

The same is true in the housing market, Tumlin said. In his hometown of San Francisco, he said, each on-site residential parking space in a new apartment building drives up the cost of the room by 15 to 30 percent and decreases the space for actual human housing by 15 to 25 percent.

“Our cities have minimum bedroom requirements for cars but not minimum housing requirements for people,” he marveled.

Tumlin said that because wealthier people are so much likelier to own cars, San Francisco has found that zero-parking apartments are less susceptible to rent spikes.

“Yuppies will invade every neighborhood as long as there is a place to park their SUVs,” he said.

Another problem of free parking: traffic congestion. Tumlin said 15 percent or more of traffic on commercial streets is “not traffic that’s going anywhere, it’s just people circling around looking for a place to park.”

This is especially costly, Tumlin said, because parking requires so many turns, which clog roads especially fast. This graphic shows a hypothetical person’s trips around a neighborhood that manages its parking by providing enough space for everyone to park for free. The P markings are parking spots and the T markings are turns:

Tumlin contrasted this with “park-once” neighborhoods, which he said make it possible to park but keep everything close enough that people walk in between their destinations:

These problems with parking have some interesting implications, Tumlin said.

“Too much parking can be even worse than too little,” Tumlin told the crowd. “Instead of talking about how many new parking spaces we need, we should talk about how we can manage those new spaces and, even more importantly, how to manage the resources we already have.”

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The road to good management, he suggested, starts with charging for parking in high-demand neighborhoods.

“The correct price of parking is the lowest price where there is almost always one or two parking spaces available in a given parking lot or block,” he said. “This is also the correct way to set the price of every other product. This is how Southwest Airlines sells plane tickets.”

Cities often feel pressure to build more off-street parking lots, he said. But he warned that this is futile without also either pricing or regulating on-street parking.

“Creating more unused off-street parking spaces will not free up on-street spaces,” he said. “Only managing your on-street parking will do that.”

Jeffrey Tumlin.

Also, he said, because parking garages cost about $30,000 per space to build, “it will always be cheaper to use technology to help motorists locate the spaces that are currently available.”

Another interesting note in Tumlin’s argument: residential programs that offer free or low-cost parking passes only to residents of the neighborhood may be unfair, but he said they’re a tradeoff worth making in order to institute paid parking in fast-changing commercial areas nearby.

“Warning: residential parking permits are anti-market and anti-democratic,” he said.

What does this all mean for people who care about biking? Though bike lane believers are accustomed to battles over removing parking, Tumlin’s prescription for good parking policy really isn’t about making it easier to take parking spaces off the street. Instead, it’s mostly about changing something even more fundamental to a city than its streets: its buildings.

A city where parking is plentiful, Tumlin said, is familiar, because most neighborhoods built after 1950 (when U.S. cities started requiring off-street parking) look so similar:

This isn’t, needless to say, the sort of neighborhood where many people will choose to ride a bicycle or (even worse) walk or use public transit. The point of parking reform isn’t to improve biking tomorrow; it’s to prevent a city from gradually transforming into the picture above.

“Your regulations are about the city you want 40 years from now,” Tumlin said.

— Learn more about PBOT’s work at their Central City Parking Strategy webpage.

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How was the Naked Ride for you? (I’m hoping you can fill me in)

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 13:55

Cycling = flying. Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride.

— Carlton Reid (@carltonreid) June 28, 2015

I missed the World Naked Bike Ride this year so I’m hoping you can fill me in.

There are not many things that would keep me away from this ride. It’s not only one of the most fun and inspiring nights of the year for me personally, but the recap and photos I usually post are by far the most popular of the entire year (by a mile).

(Don’t feel sorry for me not being there, I was at another event where love, celebration and optimism filled the warm night sky — the wedding of your favorite bike journalist Michael Andersen to his wonderful partner Maureen Young!)

So… How’d it go?

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I’ve heard different takes on it from various people and have read some of the coverage in the local media (who seemed to be doing blanket coverage of it this year); but I’d love to know more about how it went from you, my trusted friends and readers.

Here’s what I’ve heard so far:

  • It was huge (no official estimate yet).
  • There was a big bottleneck at the start that required quite a bit of walking.
  • There were a lot of people on the ride who didn’t seem to have ever biked before, or hadn’t biked in many years.
  • There were quite a few people who lacked respect for others. David Boerner wrote about a few of them, as did Elly Blue (FB).
  • The route was lined with enthusiastic crowds.
  • The party at the end was amazing and epic and full of the very best kind of debauchery.

OK, what else?

I’d love to keep my perfect record of World Naked Bike Ride recaps (since 2005!) alive here on the site. But this year I need your help to do it. Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences and takeaways…

And if you had fun, please consider donating to the organizers for next year!

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With 40% rise in roadway deaths, activists plan to target ODOT

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 13:05
A man died in this collision on Saturday
on Highway 6 near Tillamook.
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

As long as roadway fatalities and injuries keep piling up, local activists plan to keep protesting.

Fresh of last week’s rally and demonstrations at City Hall, volunteers with BikeLoudPDX will continue their actions with a Death Toll Memorial event tomorrow at the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Transportation in downtown Portland.

“Several of us feel the need to publicly acknowledge that 30 people lost their lives in June on Oregon roads in preventable wrecks,” wrote event organizer Dan Kaufman. Kaufman, the same man who organized the protest on SE Powell Blvd back in May, is fed up with the loss of life and injury on our roads.

Fueling Kaufman’s outrage is an alarming uptick in Oregon traffic deaths. According to ODOT, from January 1st through June 23rd there have been 194 fatalities on Oregon roads. That’s an increase of 39.6 percent over the same time-frame last year. (And since the 23rd there have been at least six more fatalities (according to our research) bringing the total up to 199.)

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While the state agency is working on various safety measures, some activists feel ODOT should do more as well as re-think their priorities. “They, and many in the state legislature, want to expand freeways while ignoring the carnage,” Kaufman says.

Last week ODOT and the legislature tried (unsuccessfully) to push through a transportation bill that included over $70 million in earmarks for highway widening projects. In a notice about an upcoming project in Washington County, ODOT claimed that widening Highway 26 with a new lane in each direction would, “improve traffic safety and relieve congestion.”

In contrast, the description for tomorrow’s event reads: “The current transportation priority is expanding our dysfunctional road system… We will not support any roadway expansion until Vision Zero is adopted and implemented statewide.”

Unlike the City of Portland, who officially adopted Vision Zero earlier this month, ODOT has yet to embrace the concept. Speaking at an event back in April, ODOT’s Traffic Safety Division manager Troy Costales said their goal is to “increase the number of zero fatality days.”

BikeLoudPDX plans to make this a monthly event that will draw attention to the ongoing death toll. They’re hoping to tell stories from the perspective of the deceased and have family members of the victims show up and speak.

The event is at 4:30 to 5:30 pm tomorrow (6/30) at ODOT Region 1 headquarters (123 NW Flanders). Learn more via Facebook.

Stay tuned for more coverage of ODOT’s traffic safety efforts. We are working on an interview with Costales to find out more about this year’s uptick in fatalities and what he’s doing to address the issue.

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