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Portland Oregon bicycle news, events, culture, travel and opinion.
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Please step up and support BikePortland today

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 00:45

Michael (L) and Jonathan.

I need to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with a quick note about finances.

I’ll be blunt: BikePortland as we know it today cannot continue to thrive unless more readers step up more often with financial support.

2015 is a huge year for us. Not only does it mark a full decade of our existence, it’s also a make-or-break year for our future. As many of you loyal BikePortlanders who’ve been reading since the start know, this site has grown and changed a lot in the past ten years. At first it was just a side thing, then I decided to take a huge risk and pour all of my professional and personal energy into it. Did that risk pay off? Is BikePortland a success? Yes and no.

In many ways BikePortland is an unqualified success. But in one very important way, it’s not. Let me put it this way: The business side of things has not grown and matured at the same rate as the product side of things. With my focus solely on the creation of great stories and building a community media outlet we can all be proud of, I have neglected the financial side of things.

To keep this dream alive my family and I have made financial sacrifices that I can no longer continue to make. Sorry if that sounds doom-and-gloom but reality is sometimes like that.

The great news is that we have a plan. That plan includes you. We’re not ready to reveal all of it just yet, but in the coming weeks rest assured that the way you read, interact, and support BikePortland will change.

To help us see that plan through and embark on these changes we need your support now more than ever.

If you think what we do here matters; if you think Portland is a better place because of our in-depth coverage of important issues; if you think BikePortland should ride into the next 10 years with the same fresh legs and optimistic ambition we started with 10 years ago, then please consider making a financial contribution today.

You can make a contribution online with a credit card via our secure form or send us a check. All the details are on our Support Page.

Thanks for helping us do what we do… And stay tuned for the announcement of our big 10th Birthday Party!

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Jobs of the Week: Western Bikeworks, Otto Designworks

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 00:45

We’ve had two jobs 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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Weekend Event Guide: A party, e-biking, a memorial, racing ‘cross and more

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 00:45

E-bike in your future? A test ride is the first step to finding out.
(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.

The forecast calls for rain. Real rain. That’s great news for the earth and for our hot and dried out souls. But will it put a damper on your riding plans? We hope not. Not if you’re “real Portlander” that is.

We’ve got quite a mix of offerings this weekend, including: a great excuse to take a road trip to central Oregon, an excuse to get naked, and two excuses to buy more bike gear. Have fun!

Friday, August 28nd

ODOT Road Deaths Memorial – 4:00 to 6:00 pm at NE 82nd and Glisan
Join activists and other concerned Portlanders at this event organized by BikeLoudPDX. They want to bring attention to ODOT’s misplaced priorities that have led to a large increase in road deaths in 2015. More info here (FB).

Clymb Warehouse Pop-up Shop – All weekend at 1440 NW Overton
Clymb is a discount site where you can find insane deals on biking and outdoor gear. This big sale event is at their headquarters in northwest Portland and will feature $170,000 in new gear at low prices as well as free beer. More info here (FB).

Trophy Cup Kick Off Party – 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Portland Bicycle Studio (1435 NW Raleigh St)
Portland Bicycle Studio has stepped up as title sponsor of the Trophy Cup this year! The Trophy Cup is a weekday cyclocross race out at Portland International Raceway. Come to the kick-off event to pick up your number and celebrate the start of the season. There will be a prize giveaway and free beer! More info here.

Ti Cycles 25th Year Retrospective – 6:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd)
Portland based bike builder and titanium fabricator extraordinaire Dave Levy launched Ti Cycles 25 years ago. Now he wants to share a collection of his bikes and fun memorabilia that documents his amazing career in the industry. More info here (FB).

Full Moon Naked Ride – 8:00 pm at Coe Circle (3900 NE Glisan)
Your last chance this summer to be hot (or maybe cool and a bit wet?) and naked and ride bikes with a group of friends. Bare-as-you-dare is OK too. A celebration of freedom and body acceptance that doubles as a protest against dangerous streets. More info here.

Saturday, August 29th

Ochoco Gravel Roubaix – All day at Good Bike Co. in Prineville (284 NE 3rd St)
Race and enjoy the amazing dirt and gravel backroads of Central Oregon in this Gran Fondo style event. Three route options include 120 or 45-mile forest loops as well as a 10-mile ride that’s on paved roads. Make a weekend out of it! More info here.

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Cielo Dock Sale – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at Chris King/Cielo Factory (2801 NW Nela)
For the first time ever you can score a deal on a Portland-made Cielo straight from the source. Check out the awesome Cielo factory and peruse a selection of 2014 Cielo frames (in new condition) at great prices. More info here.

E-Bike Demo Day – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm at Beaverton Bike N Hike (10129 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy)
If you’re remotely curious about e-bikes or already a know-it-all and just want to test the latest and greatest, come and check out this demo day. They’ll have various models to try and there’s no obligation to buy… But they have dropped prices significantly just in case the mood strikes. Free beer if you test ride. More info here.

Biking About Architecture – 11:00 am at Cafe Eleven (435 NE Rosa Parks Way (at Grand))
If you like biking on quiet neighborhood streets while gawking at old historic homes, this is the ride for you. Ride leader Jenny F. will show you the gems of the Humboldt-King neighborhood, from a stone mansion to co-op housing, eye-popping moderns and even a temple with a minaret! More info here.

I Love My Bike Show – 3:00 pm at The Bike Commuter (8524 SE 17th Ave)
A different kind of bike show where your beloved ride is the star! Show up and show off. And of course look at other people’s prized rigs. Winner gets bike frame. Categories for commuter, fast bikes, classic, and more. Beer too. More info here.

Portland Bike Party – 3:30 pm at Hungry Tiger (207 SE 12th)
“Release your inner party animal!” say the organizers. Dress up like your favorite animal and ride through the streets pumping animal-themed tunes on a route that highlights “whacky animal artwork.” Will be followed by a casual “chill and grill” in northeast. More info here (FB).

Sunday, August 30th

Kruger’s Kermesse – All day at Kruger’s Farm Market on Sauvie Island
A perfect way to kick off cyclocross season, this “farm crit” is a local favorite. The course wraps around Kruger’s market which is also a great place to buy food and drinks and entertain the whole family. Event will also feature a relay race so grab a few friends/teammates and have at it! 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 four bikeways it’ll take to make the Lloyd District great

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 09:36

This is the third in a three-part series about the biking potential of the Lloyd District. Read the first two here.

If 1,597 new homes were about to land in the space where, seven years ago, new homes in the Portland metro area would have been most likely to land, they would be the biggest news story in the area.

In the rural outskirts of east Vancouver (yes, that counts as Portland metro), beloved farms would be shutting down. Work crews would be widening intersections and stripping away street parking to make room for more turn lanes. For miles around, residents and businesses would be bracing themselves for traffic paralysis.

But in the next few years, 1,597 homes are lined up to land somewhere else instead: right in the middle of Portland.

The footprint of 1,597 homes built in central Clark County in the mid-2000s, if they were in inner Northeast Portland.

The fact that this is happening with relatively little fanfare or controversy, at least not yet, speaks to the virtues of cities. The new apartments planned by American Assets Trust in the heart of the Lloyd District, both in the new Hassalo on Eighth project and its even bigger second phase, immediately to the south, represent 100 acres of exurban farmland that won’t be paved, miles of sewer mains that won’t be laid, thousands of police patrols that taxpayers won’t need to cover because all those households will be living on just eight city blocks.

When people move into Portland’s inner east side, about 20 percent of their trips around town are going to happen not in cars, as they would have in the outer suburbs, but on bicycles.

But the general lack of controversy over the Lloyd District’s building boom is built on something shakier, too.

It’s the assumption that when people move into Portland’s inner east side, about 20 percent of their trips around town are going to happen not in cars, as they would have in the outer suburbs, but on bicycles.

The assumption is reasonable. Portland’s history proves beyond a doubt that when the city builds bikeways, Portlanders use them. As we reported last week, Portland was so successful at building bikeways in the late 1990s that in the decade that followed, the city created 24,000 jobs for its residents without adding a single new car commute to its roads.

There’s every reason to believe that as it fills in, the Lloyd District could do something similar. But there’s a catch: the Lloyd District needs to stop being one of the hardest central east-side neighborhoods to bike in and out of, especially north and south.

Today, the local business group Go Lloyd estimates that 7.4 percent of commutes to the district happen on bicycle — not bad, but less than nearby neighborhoods and far below what’s needed.

To improve that ratio, the district needs to make its bikeways comfortable, intuitive and direct enough that thousands of the area’s workers and residents will choose to use them at least some of the time.

Local transportation experts agree that to make biking mainstream, the district needs, at the least:
1) A comfortable crossing of Interstate 84 to inner Burnside and Southeast
2) A comfortable bike connection north to Fremont, Alberta and beyond, with the gentlest slope possible
3) A direct and comfortable bike route west into downtown
4) A well-connected link to the east, where many of its workers live

Here’s the good news: the city has a detailed plan for the fourth item and is moving rapidly to plan the first three. The question for the future success of the Lloyd District is when and whether anyone will actually build them.

City eyes a major outside grantIf a 2009 grant had been successful, the Lloyd would already be a very different place to bike.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland unless noted)

In 2009, inner north and northeast Portland, including the Lloyd District, had a chance to build a complete modern biking network all at once.

Metro applied for what was then a new federal program called TIGER grants. Its proposal would have brought in $38 million to build 40 miles of neighborhood greenways, plus raised bike lanes on Vancouver and Williams and a handful of buffered bike lanes.

The city said it would be enough to bring the quadrant’s biking rate from 15 percent to 35 percent.

Metro didn’t get that grant. One of the standout applications that did win in that first TIGER round: the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, now recognized as the country’s only connected downtown network of protected bike lanes and the force behind an economic renaissance for downtown Indianapolis.

Six years later, a city official said this week, Portland seems to be getting ready for a second try. Mark Lear, a funding expert with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, said Tuesday that the city is evaluating “a number of projects in the Lloyd District that could eventually be a future grant request, including a TIGER request.”

It’d be a bundle of biking and walking improvements that follows the path blazed by the city’s East Portland in Motion and Southwest in Motion plans. Lear said other money sources, including local ones like development fees, could be better fits than the federal grants — assuming the the projects can find support from the Lloyd District and its neighbors.

“PBOT over the next few months is going to be working aggressively with the district to help prioritize the most important transportation projects,” Lear said.

This is the city’s first public mention of this effort, and it’s great news.

Let’s help write the project list.

The Lloyd’s biggest leapThe narrowest possible span of I-84: 380 feet from NE 7th Avenue to NE 8th Avenue.

The keystone of a bikeable Lloyd District would also be the project that solves inner-east Portland’s biggest biking challenge: crossing Interstate 84.

The obstacle: 380 to 515 feet of air across Sullivan’s Gulch, including a set of railroad tracks and seven lanes of freeway.

If a bridge were built without carrying cars or trucks, it would be tens of millions of dollars cheaper and the connection would instantly become the best north-south crossing of the freeway within city limits.

“It’d be a game changer,” said Carl Larson, engagement manager for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “I describe it as MLK for people walking and biking.”

“It’s not something that will build itself,” said Rick Williams, the former longtime director of Go Lloyd. “It’s going to be $15 to $20 million. But there’s high support for it.”

Possible options and considerations for a new biking-walking bridge across I-84.

Where would the money come from? A price tag that big would require outside grants for sure. But as long as the bridge didn’t include cars, 100 percent of the local match could come not from the city’s precious general revenue but from system development charges — the fees the city charges developers to cover the cost of the new trips their projects create.

Portland doesn’t require SDCs to actually be spent near the developments that pay them. But since Hassalo on Eighth has already spent half a million dollars on transportation SDCs, and with other new Lloyd projects lining up to add to that total, there’s a strong case to be made that this would be the perfect way to spend them.

For Andrew Neerman, a resident of the nearby King neighborhood who serves as vice chair of his neighborhood association, the current options for crossing 84 on a bike in the area — Grand, MLK, 12th — stopped being options the day his son was born.

“It’s easy for me to ride alone, but in terms of taking a family ride down there, there’s just no way. I would never do that,” Neerman said. “I want to be able to ride from northeast to southeast with my baby safely. It’s just as simple as that. … If we’re ever going to achieve the mode share in the bike plan, we have to do projects like this.”

A neighborhood greenway north: Could diverters make 7th pleasant?Close quarters on 7th Avenue.

If a biking-walking bridge crosses I-84 at 7th or 9th avenue, the Lloyd District would never again be the district bikes avoid. It’d be the district that every bike trip between inner Northeast and Southeast Portland would want to go straight through.

There’s just one problem: which streets would all those bike trips use to get to the bridge?

Today, the stretch of Northeast Portland between Rodney and 28th is one of the biggest expanses of the city where there aren’t even any immediate plans for a single marked north-south bikeway.

Immediately north of the Lloyd, some people take 7th, despite busy rush hours and traffic islands that squeeze cars and bikes together. Some take 11th despite an awkward jog at Fremont.

The city’s official plan is to someday convert either the passing or parking lanes on 9th Avenue to bike lanes immediately west of Lloyd Center Mall. (Removing the extra passing lanes would also make 9th much more walking-friendly.)

North of Broadway, 9th would become a new neighborhood greenway running right into the middle of Irving Park, curving beneath this row of neglected lampposts, and continuing all the way to Dekum:

It’s an appealing vision. But there are problems.

Here’s one: stoplights. They cost a quarter-million dollars each, and a 9th Avenue greenway might need them at Fremont, Prescott and Alberta.

Here’s another: 9th Avenue through the Lloyd, though underused today, will get much busier if it shoulders most of the new auto traffic in and out of the Lloyd.

“There’s over 5,000 parking stalls that can be accessed off 9th Avenue,” said Owen Ronchelli, executive director of Go Lloyd. “We’ve got six or seven loading docks that come out of there with big trucks. We’ve got two bus lines on there. Garbage trucks and all of our major freight deliveries right now occur on 9th.”

Ronchelli was one of several people who said the Lloyd District’s landowners are firmly opposed to bike lanes on 9th Avenue.

Here’s a final problem with 9th: north of the district, it can’t make up its mind whether it’s going uphill or down.

Given that set of problems, Larson and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance have proposed an interesting alternative to 9th: 7th Avenue.

Unlike 9th, 7th Avenue already has full signals at each major street, plus a small commercial node at Knott. And here’s what 7th looks like from the side:

A final advantage of 7th, Williams noted: a bridge between NE 8th and NE 7th would not only be the shortest of the available options, it would run perpendicular to the freeway, creating an iconic advertisement for Portland’s bike-friendliness just as people round the bend into downtown.

There is exactly one problem with a bikeway on 7th. North of Broadway, it’s become a rush-hour alternative to Martin Luther King Boulevard for people in cars. North of the Lloyd, 7th Avenue carries 5,500 cars per day.

The city’s new target for a comfotable neighborhood greenway is 1,000.

Larson says the solution is simple: add traffic diverters to 7th that force rush-hour car traffic to use MLK, just like the city once forced traffic onto Division when it created a diverter at Clinton and Chavez.

“Its parallels to Clinton are a lot, actually,” Larson said. “It has the same treatments too, the circles. It has about the same traffic volume that Clinton did before there were efforts to put in some diversion. And it’s got a big road right next to it.”

Lloyd District landowners feel strongly that 7th Avenue should be the focus of future bike and foot traffic.

“There’s been lots of plans over the years,” said Williams. “7th Avenue has already been established through the Lloyd District as that north-south connector.”

The problem with diverters, of course, is the 4,000 car trips they would remove from 7th. Where would those cars go? What would nearby residents say?

For the city, the path of least resistance would be to leave 9th Avenue as it is south of the district, ask people biking to jog from 7th to 9th on Tillamook, and use cheaper rapid-flash beacons instead of actual stoplights at the bikeway crossings further north.

But Neerman, the King Neighborhood Association board member, said he thinks diverters on 7th wouldn’t be a hard sell.

“Most of the neighbors will buy in in Irvington and King for the simple reason that right now there’s a ton of cut-through traffic just trying to avoid MLK,” he said. “We have a full-on rush hour on 7th these days and there are a lot of Washington plates.”

Broadway: A business district waiting for a boomA man bikes on the Broadway sidewalk, presumably to avoid riding alongside traffic.

Lined with parking lots, auto dealers and fast-food joints, inner Broadway rivals Sandy as Northeast Portland’s least Portland-y street.

But though the width that gave Broadway its name is currently devoted to three lanes of speeding traffic, it’s also home to the sort of businesses that will make life in the Lloyd District practical.

“What I think a lot of people on bikes don’t realize is that there’s so much good stuff on Broadway,” said Larson. “I live off Alberta and it doesn’t have anything useful. Broadway has real places to go to where you can buy useful stuff. There’s banks on Broadway. There’s a bookstore on Broadway. It’s really sad that it’s a business district with so few people, I think.”

Last year, Larson and BTA volunteer Chris Delaney spent months trying to gather support among Broadway businesses for changes to the street. In part, they hoped to advance a longtime dream for many Portlanders: a continuous protected bike lane from the Hollywood area to Portland State University.

A rendering of a possible new version of Northeast Broadway. (Car parking isn’t pictured, but could also be included.)
(Image by Owen Walz)

“We heard their concerns loud and clear: they are concerned about people driving too fast on Broadway and about people not being able to walk across the street,” Larson said. “They get that that’s bad for their business, and they’re interested in solutions to those problems.”

What they didn’t embrace, Larson said, was a protected bike lane. He said many Broadway businesses hope the extra street space will be used for a streetcar line instead.

A Broadway streetcar line is currently on the city’s long-term vision, but that’s about it.

“I think people need to realize that Broadway doesn’t know what they want to do yet,” said Williams, the former Go Lloyd director. “Broadway is kind of where we were 10 years ago: in the planning phase. And I think the reason things worked so well in the Lloyd District was we all had consensus on specific things.”

Williams and Larson both agreed that if protected bike lanes are going to be built on Broadway and/or Weidler, the suggestion will need to come from businesses and landowners, not the city.

NE Multnomah Street’s protected bike lane was designed as a temporary pilot project. The city and Lloyd District landowners have been negotiating plans for how to make it permanent and pay for upkeep.

Both of them also agreed on one of the best things the city could do to build consensus about a protected bike lane on Broadway: finish upgrading the nearby one on Multnomah. That’d probably mean adding permanent planters or curbs and curving the bike lanes behind bus stops rather than forcing bike and bus traffic to mix.

“I talk to people on Broadway, some of them really get it and say they really like Multnomah, but some of them are sort of confused by it and say it looks really temporary,” Larson said. “Which it does.”

The crown jewel: a Sullivan’s Gulch pathA future path would have to cut into the hillside north of the Union Pacific Railroad.
(Photo: Ted Buehler)

The granddaddy of all missing links on Portland’s east side is the Lloyd District project that’s furthest from being built.

Just about everyone involved in the Lloyd District’s current rebirth seems to dream of an off-road bike path through Sullivan’s Gulch running west to the river and east to Gateway.

Lloyd EcoDistrict director Sarah Heinicke said it’d give thousands of East Portlanders a cheap and healthy way to reach jobs in the Lloyd.

One of them: American Assets Trust executive Wade Lange, a Portland native who regularly bike-commutes to the Lloyd from his home on NE 135th and said he’s been awaiting that path for many years.

“I think it would really make a big difference in terms of the viability of serious bike commuting happening in the outer reaches of the city,” Heinicke said.

But three years after Portland approved a detailed plan for the project, it’s essentially in deep freeze. Its project manager, Paul Smith, left Portland for a job in San Jose in 2013. (I ran into Smith at a conference last fall. He said he’d enjoyed Portland but prefers working in a city that actually has money to spend.)

A 2012 rendering of a possible Sullivan’s Gulch path.

The full path would cost an estimated $40 million, not counting about 600,000 square feet of property acquisition.

That’s expensive — it’s the same as the city’s grant application that would supposedly have brought all of inner north and northeast Portland up to a 35 percent bicycling mode share.

Even so, the trail would already be being built in small pieces, except for one thing: the biggest landowner by far is Union Pacific Railroad.

UPRR seems more open to the idea of working with the city to create a bike path south of Swan Island. But that’s in part because people already bike illegally on the so-called Cement Road through UPRR property; creating a legal route would actually reduce the railroad’s liabilities.

That’s not the case in Sullivan’s Gulch, currently used only by graffiti artists and a handful of urban campers.

Bringing the railroad to the table would require either huge wads of cash or something the railroad wants more, like removing some of the curves in its snaking route through the city.

Until the city or its allies in the state and federal government find one of those things, Multnomah Street will remain the Lloyd’s main biking link to the east, and the Lloyd will keep waiting for something more spectacular.

“I find myself staring out the window of the MAX whenever I take it, thinking, Oh, the trail could go there, you’d have to cut into that hillside, that’d be a little tight but you could make it,” Larson said. “Every time.”

The future of the DistrictA rendering of the proposed Oregon Square project, south of Holladay between 7th and 9th.
(Image: GBD Architects via

Our first article in this series wrote about the Lloyd District’s potential to become the most bike-oriented high-rise neighborhood in the country. Our second wrote about its long, sad history of attempts to build itself around the automobile.

As we wrote at the end of the last piece, the plans now afoot in the Lloyd could fall apart. That might happen even if the area succeeds in making itself bikeable and walkable enough to prevent its streets from clogging with cars.

But if that happens, the list of people who’ll be surprised is getting longer every day.

Twenty years after its landowners made the baffling announcement that their plan to revitalize a struggling business district was to start charging for parking and investing in everything except the automobile, one entrepreneur after another is making bets on the future of the Lloyd.

The most recent announcement came yesterday, when the upscale fresh-food market Green Zebra Grocery announced that it’d become the long-awaited grocery tenant at Hassalo on Eighth.

Green Zebra CEO Lisa Sedlar inside her future Kenton store in 2013.

For years, Hassalo’s developers have been planning to set aside hundreds of parking spaces for a larger grocery store in their underground garage, assuming that no grocer would ever sign a lease without guaranteeing plenty of free car parking.

It didn’t work. Every traditional grocer in town passed on the space anyway.

But Green Zebra CEO Lisa Sedlar, whose business model is built on short-distance trips, said Thursday that she’s asked only for “16 or 20 spots.”

“I would have gone forward with this store without any parking allotted to us,” Sedlar said.

She expects more than half her customers to arrive by transit, bike or foot — more than that if a bridge is built across I-84, NE Multnomah Street’s protected bike lanes are improved and half the bikes in Portland are streaming past her store.

“People think Lloyd District, ugh!” Sedlar said. “And we said, ‘No way, Lloyd District is coming on strong.’ It gets a 99 Bike Score for the neighborhood and the Walk Score is really high as well. … We just think the Lloyd is going to be it.”

— This in-depth series was brought to you by the bike-loving folks at Hassalo on Eighth, the Lloyd District development that is now leasing. We agreed on the subject of the series but they had no control or right to review the content before publication. Learn more about our sponsored content here and read all the articles in the series here.

Correction 3:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled Andrew Neerman’s name.

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SW 3rd Avenue is about to get downtown’s only buffered bike lane

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 07:39
Earlier this year, bike markings unexpectedly appeared on 3rd Avenue. Now we know why.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Less than a year after a handful of businesses and volunteers hectored the city into letting them test a bike lane on SW Third Avenue in Old Town, one is about to be installed — probably next month.

“It was really interesting to have a coalition of the bar owners, the social service providers and the city working together collaboratively to refine the design.”
— Ryan Hashagen, chair of 3rd Avenue Stakeholder Advisory Group

The new right-side buffered bike lane will run from NW Davis south to the green bike lane on SW Stark, city officials and a neighborhood represntative said in a joint interview Tuesday.

It’ll be one of just three southbound bike lanes in downtown Portland, and the only bike lane in downtown to include a painted buffer.

In fact, Third Avenue’s new bike lane will have two buffers: a two-foot one on the left, between bike and car traffic, and a three-foot one on the right, to give room for car doors. Between the buffers, the bike lane itself will be mostly seven feet wide, narrowing to six feet at points where the parking lane widens to make room for a truck loading zone.

Third Avenue’s new bike lane will have two buffers: a two-foot one on the left, between bike and car traffic, and a three-foot one on the right, to give room for car doors.The city will also mark new crosswalks and add a left-turn box for people biking west from the Burnside Bridge and turning south onto Third.

As we reported in June, the plan was the unanimous recommendation of 3rd Avenue Stakeholder Advisory Group, which is part of the Old Town Chinatown Community Association.

“This started out as a discussion in the neighborhood about the entertainment district,” said Ryan Hashagen, chair of the advisory group and a volunteer for last October’s Better Block PDX demonstration on 3rd Avenue. “It became, quickly, a larger conversation about how to build livability, how to make it more enjoyable 24 hours a day. … It was really interesting to have a coalition of the bar owners, the social service providers and the city working together collaboratively to refine the design.”

In addition to the bike lanes, the city will mark new crosswalks and add a left-turn box for people biking west from the Burnside Bridge and turning south onto Third. Just north of the corner of Burnside and 3rd, the bike lane will disappear and become a mixing zone with right-turning traffic.

In addition to new crosswalks and other walking improvements, the proposal would create a wide new bike lane (marked here in orange) connecting to the existing ones on SW Stark and Oak (marked here in green).
(Image: BikePortland)

Bureau of Transportation project manager Rick Browning said that until earlier this week, the city was planning to install the new bike lane this weekend. But because rain is forecast, it’ll instead happen on the first dry weekend after Labor Day.

“Creating a more vibrant space for people of all stripes can create a more vibrant business environment,” said Hashagen, whose Portland Pedicabs business has an office in Old Town.

Hashagen’s view is shared by the community association’s chair and by many other business owners on the street, though not by the Portland Business Alliance, the regional chamber of commerce. Lisa Frisch, the PBA’s downtown retail development manager, told us in June that she believes there is zero connection between the number of traffic lanes on a street and the desire of people to spend time and money nearby.

Some compromises, but 100 percent consensusThird Avenue as it is today.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In order to get 100 percent consensus, the stakeholder committee that included Frisch agreed on two lanes of auto traffic for the full length of the project despite 3rd Avenue’s low traffic counts south of Burnside. It also agreed to preserve every parking space on the street.

In combination, those two measures meant that the bike lanes won’t be able to offer any physical separation.

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Timur Ender, a transportation policy advisor to City Commissioner Steve Novick, said the new buffered lanes might lay the groundwork for other changes.

“This is just the first phase of improvements — if the community sees a need for further improvement, that can be a conversation down the road,” said Endur, who was also a volunteer on the Better Block project before he joined Novick’s team. “We can explore that as part of the central city multimodal plan.”

The Central City Multimodal Safety Project, currently gathering speed, is a $6.6 million effort widely expected to include downtown’s first protected bike lanes.

Ender said that PBOT engineers calculate that with 3rd Avenue’s traffic counts, there will be no additional delay for people driving on the street.

A new model for public outreach?Better than an open house? Or just less accurate?
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

In some ways, the 3rd Avenue project is being done with little public outreach. There’s been no city-led open house, no page on the city’s website. The city ignored a request from BikePortland, under the state’s open-records law, to make public a rendering of the street that was already being vetted with businesses and residents.

In other ways, though, it’s one of the most public bike projects the city has ever done.

“The Better Block pilot project has been an engagement to the entire city,” Hashagen argued. “The Oregonian reported on it. We had TV stations there. … The overwhelming reaction of the pilot project was ‘When is this going to be done? How quick can this be implemented?'”

The three-day pilot project, of course, was different. It eliminated on-street auto parking and two passing lanes to create a huge public plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut. It protected the bike lane with wooden planters. And it stopped several blocks further north.

“This isn’t the be-all end-all for Old Town Chinatown. This is one step among many that we intend to take.”
— Chad Stover, office of Mayor Charlie Hales

Ender said Hashagen and a city transportation staffer went door to door this summer to every storefront on Third Avenue, and that the city mailed a description to every business with a Third Avenue address.

“Every single one of the businesses that we went to was for the most part excited to see changes to the neighborhood,” Hashagen said.

Ender said a much smaller version of the plaza outside Voodoo Doughnut will be installed early in next year’s work season. Some details about its design are yet to be worked out between the Old Town Chinatown Community Association, the Ankeny Alley Association and the city.

Chad Stover, a project manager for Mayor Charlie Hales, said Tuesday that he thinks Old Town Chinatown will eventually want to create a “business improvement district” that would let businesses pool their money in exchange for control over further changes to the area.

“This isn’t the be-all end-all for Old Town Chinatown,” Stover said. “This is one step among many that we intend to take.”

Correction 10:25 pm: An earlier version of this post said this would be the first buffered bike lane downtown. The lanes on Stark and Oak were previously buffered and are now wide colored lanes. This’ll be the only buffered lane downtown.

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County strikes reference to “recreational bicycle activities” from Sauvie Island plan

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 14:25
County Commissioner Jules Bailey

Disaster averted.

This morning the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners took action and removed language from the draft Sauvie Island transportation plan that sought to discourage “recreational bicycle activities.”

The draft plan was developed over the past 18 months by the County Planning Commission and a citizen’s advisory committee as an update to the Sauvie Island and Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and Transportation System Plan.

As the island has increased in popularity due to its aesthetic beauty and proximity to Portland, we suspected from the start that cycling might play a role in the planning process.

Andrew Holtz, a member of the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, alerted us with major concerns that a reference to “recreational bicycle activities” had remained in the draft plan in spite of his committee calling it “unacceptable” and “discriminatory” and making repeated requests to have it removed.
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The context here is that the island has relatively narrow roads with little to no shoulder. A lack of consideration and respect by some road users has resulted in ugly incidents in the past including assaults with a blow dart and pepper spray.

Fortunately, County Commissioner Jules Bailey and County Chair Deborah Kafoury opted to not give any space to that type of nonsense. They were aware of the language in the plan and agreed that it’s unfair to single out cycling in this context.

At their meeting today Bailey proposed an amendment that averted any opportunity someone might have to do something ridiculous like discourage cycling on the island or worse yet, charge a fee to people on bikes.

Policy amendments that passed today.

In policy 5.8 Bailey’s amendment added specific goals for how the island’s transportation should be managed in the next 20 years. Those goals are, “reducing vehicle miles travelled, minimizing carbon emissions, reducing conflict between travel modes, and improving the natural environment by minimizing stormwater runoff and facilitating wildlife movement.”

In policy 5.9 the amendment deleted the entire paragraph that read: “Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”

Bailey’s amendment passed without debate, although Chair Kafoury did address how the issue galvanized the community:

“We have all received lots of public comment around this particular piece of the plan and wanted to ensure that it’s definitely our desire that we have not carved out one particular mode of transportation as the one to avoid, and that we want to encourage all modes of transportation — especially those that reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.”

Thanks to everyone who emailed Commissioner Bailey and Chair Kafoury. Singling out cycling in this context, and especially attaching the “recreational” label to it while driving trips receive no such scrutiny, is a very dangerous thing. I’m glad the County Board of Commissioners was able to send a strong message today that that type of language is not acceptable around here.

— The updated Sauvie Island Transportation System Plan also contains several projects that would improve cycling access including a new path on the west side of the island, wider paved shoulders on existing roads, and more. Learn about the plan on Multnomah County’s website and download a copy of the transportation chapter here (PDF).

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Green Zebra Grocery’s second store coming to a protected bike lane in the Lloyd District

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 10:59
Rendering of new Green Zebra Grocery on NE Multnomah.

Green Zebra Grocery, the company we’ve heralded as having the best bike parking in Portland, just announced the location of their long-awaited second store: It’s coming to the Lloyd District as the anchor tenant in the new Hassalo on Eighth development.

A rendering of the new 8,203 square-foot store shows that it will face directly onto NE Multnomah Street (between 7th and 9th), which just so happens to be home of Portland’s best protected bike lane. That fact, combined with Green Zebra’s stellar level of respect for bicycling customers in general, has led the company’s founder and CEO Lisa Sedlar to estimate that half of the store’s customers will show up by bike, on foot, or via public transportation.

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Green Zebra isn’t your typical grocery store. Think of a healthier version of the ubiquitous corner convenience store or mini-mart. Sedlar told us back in September 2013 before opening her first store that, “The model itself is built on the idea of a 20-minute neighborhood, so all your goods and services are built to be available within a 20-minute walk or bike.”

The announcement of a Lloyd District location comes amid a flurry of new development in the area. The redesign of NE Multnomah from auto-dominated thoroughfare to a calmer, more balanced street with a protected area for cycling has influenced a major redesign of the Lloyd Center Mall and has also become a selling point for the Hassalo on Eighth development. That development includes three separate buildings with over 650 apartments and the largest bike parking facility in North America with 1,200 spaces.

The new store is scheduled to open in early 2016.

— Stay tuned for more coverage later today when we wrap up The District, our in-depth three-part series about the past, present and future of the Lloyd District and what it means for how we get around.

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Mayor Hales will commute by bike to experience real-world conditions

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 09:56
Hales riding on the Esplanade last year.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is most powerful elected official in a city that’s widely considered to be one of the country’s best for cycling. However, despite living just over four miles and a pleasant half-hour bike ride away from City Hall, Hales doesn’t commute by bike.

Sure, Hales is seen on a bike now and then; but those rides are organized events like Sunday Parkways. As anyone who has been in a bike parade or open streets event can tell you, that experience is much different than real-life, everyday, weekday rush-hour conditions.

With Portland in a biking funk there has been a growing chorus of whispers pressuring Hales to get on a bike and see what it’s like on Portland streets — without a police escort and cozy coterie.

I’m happy to report that Hales heard the whispers and has decided to ride his bike into work this coming Monday.

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Hales mentioned the ride at the end of yesterday’s City Council meeting after he led a 5-0 vote in support of the Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report.

To give you a sense of what’s on his mind, here’s how the Mayor led up to his mention of the ride:

“This year we’re in our worst year ever in gang violence. And yet despite that we’ve lost more Portlanders to traffic violence than we have to homicidal violence. That’s how serious this problem is for our fellow citizens who are at risk until we achieve vision zero. This is important work… so I’m going to start doing some commute rides… and try to take more of those kind of commutes with advocates who know the conditions on the ground.”

“While the mayor and Nancy [Hales] regularly ride on the weekends, it’s not the same as biking with workday traffic,”
— Sara Hottman, Mayor Hales office

We followed up with the Mayor’s office and staffer Sara Hottman confirmed the news: “While the mayor and Nancy [Hales] regularly ride on the weekends, it’s not the same as biking with workday traffic,” she said.

“The mayor liked the community members’ idea, so we shaped it into a chance to both easily talk to a variety of people about issues as well as commute to work by bike.”

Here’s the plan: On Monday, August 31st, the mayor will bike from his home in Eastmoreland to the K&F Clinton Street Coffeehouse at SE 26th and Clinton. He’ll arrive around 7:45 am and spend about an hour chatting with whoever shows up. Then he’ll ride into City Hall via Clinton.

Hottman, who’s organizing the ride, said they chose Clinton specifically because, “It’s a Neighborhood Greenway about which people frequently express concerns about the level and aggressiveness of auto traffic.”

With people aware of the pre-ride chat session, we’re a bit concerned that this ride will turn into a group thing with people smiling, riding side-by-side, taking photos, and so on. If it does it would defeat the entire purpose of the ride because people drive differently in those situations. Ideally Hales would ride by himself, not in a group and not even with an advocate by his side who might say things that could influence his perceptions.

Regardless, it’s great to see Hales engage with bicycling like this. It should be a good experience for him and hopefully turns into something he does much more regularly. This is Portland after all.

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Neighborhood greenways breeze through council with unanimous support

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 15:03
PBOT Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway and Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller presenting the report to council this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Council unanimously adopted a resolution this morning that gives the bureau of transportation more strength and clarity in how they design and manage neighborhood greenways, the residential streets formerly called bicycle boulevards where biking and walking have priority over driving.

“Greenways were a big part of helping me feel safe and comfortable as a bicyclist. I’m hoping that adoption of this report will help more of my peers be safe and comfortable on their bikes instead of just opting to drive right away when they get their license.”
— Isabelle McTighe, junior at Cleveland High School

The Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report (PDF here) is a 55-page document that outlines the current state of the network, explains its weak points, and lays out solutions to make them better. Today’s action by council didn’t come with any funding for new projects, but it gives PBOT engineers and planners important policy guidelines. More importantly, the report and its nearly two-hour long public hearing at City Hall today has given neighborhood greenways, and cycling in general, a major political boost.

The context of the report and how we got to this point is important to keep in mind. PBOT was forced to do something about neighborhood greenways because users of them have been yelling and screaming for years that they’re not living up to their “low-stress” promise. Those complaints turned into organized actions and even helped spur the formation of a new activist group, BikeLoudPDX, that made the uncomfortable cycling conditions on SE Clinton Street their raison d’être.

PBOT Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller was one of several people who mentioned the impact of activism at City Hall this morning when he said during his testimony to Mayor Hales and the rest of council, “We’re getting a lot of complaints from citizens that some of these greenways are not working well.” And PBOT Active Transportation Manager Margi Bradway also mentioned it. “We’ve heard a lot of concern about Clinton Street in particular,” she said during her presentation.

BikeLoudPDX volunteers were easy to spot in council chambers.

Several of those concerned citizens took time out of their day to testify and show their support for better neighborhood greenways. Volunteers with BikeLoudPDX wore green and held up signs throughout the proceedings. One family brought their two young children up to the microphone to testify. Isabelle McTighe, A 17-year-old Cleveland High School student, told City Council that she’s been biking in Portland since she was four years old. “Greenways were a big part of helping me feel safe and comfortable as a bicyclist,” she said. “I’m hoping that adoption of this report will help more of my peers be safe and comfortable on their bikes instead of just opting to drive right away when they get their license.”

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Of the 15 members of the public who testified, 14 spoke in support of better greenways. One 12-year-old Hawthorne Middle School student said he wants more traffic diverters to keep driving to a minimum on inner southeast sidetreets. “I don’t feel safe riding on them anymore frankly, because drivers have been aggressive toward me… like screaming at me and throwing things at me. I’d like to feel safer riding on them,” he said.

“We can’t shut down the city everyday like we do on Parkways… but we can build in the technology everyday to make those conditions possible.”
— Commissioner Nick Fish

When it came time for commissioners to ask questions, Nick Fish put on quite a show. He had pointed questions and shared genuine anger about people’s dangerous driving behaviors.

Fish wanted to make sure that the report he was voting on didn’t direct PBOT to allocate any funding to specific projects or programs. “I think we have to be clear with the public what we’re signing onto today,” he said. I think this was a smart move motivated more by a keen sense of PR rather than any personal reluctance to fund bike projects. Fish probably remembers how the passage of the 2030 Bike Plan backfired when the media (and then the public) turned it into a controversy by incorrectly assuming that the city had just agreed to spend over $600 million on bike projects (don’t we wish!).

Fish also asked about what changes PBOT would make when streets passed the 2,000 cars per day threshold set in the new report. Speaking to Geller, he asked, “What’s the state of our engineering toolkit?”.

Stop driving like an idiot, says Commissioner Fish.

And Fish is very fired up about dangerous drivers. He talked about how as congestion increases, people are turning to residential streets and driving with frustration and anger. “Everyone is in such a damn rush they’re putting everyone else’s lives at risk,” he said. “And that’s what we want to discourage.”

A resident of inner-northeast Portland, one of the most bike-friendly areas of the city, Fish spoke about the “transformative” and “exhilirating” experiences he has had during Sunday Parkways and how that event, “Reminds us what it is to be on a dedicated bike pathway that’s safe.” “That ought to be the goal,” he continued. “We can’t shut down the city everyday like we do on Parkways… but we can build in the technology everyday to make those conditions possible.”

Amanda Fritz wanted to know about ridership demographic data and funding of greenways in east and southwest Portland. “Why is there no greenway from east Portland into downtown?” she wondered. Even Commissioner Saltzman, known for being quiet and certainly not expected to chime in much on transportation issues, had something substantive to say. He said he and others are sometimes confused by bike-specific roadway markings and he urged PBOT to have more signs that make it clear to road users when they’re on a neighborhood greenway.

In closing comments before the 5-0 vote was recorded, PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick offered a good summary of what it means to have passed this resolution. “We will put up more diverters. We will put up more speed bumps. And we’ll get calls from people [who don’t like it]… And now we can say, ‘Actually, that’s a neighborhood greenway and we’ve given direction to PBOT to take steps to make sure that it’s used as a greenway.'”

Today’s council meeting was about more than the neighborhood greenways report. It was the most complete and compelling education about cycling that our five elected city leaders have gotten in as long as I can remember. And it came from not only their own staffers and well-known advocates like the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (who also shared excellent testimony today); but also from everyday people who spoke from the heart. And they took it all in very well. Their engagement with the people who testified and the volume and content of their questions showed that they respect neighborhood greenways and the role cycling in general plays in Portland.

For a city council that we’ve had public misgivings about for their lack of perspective and experience around cycling issues, what I saw and heard this morning was a breath of fresh air.

With past cycling-related controversies fading over our shoulders, the emergence of new, powerful, and unifying initiatives like Vision Zero and neighborhood greenways along with new faces to advocate for them (both in the community and in city staff), it feels like today was the start of something. Maybe we’re emerging from the dark cave of stagnation that we’ve been struggling with for years.

And to top off what I felt was an extraordinarily positive council meeting, Mayor Hales nonchalantly announced right before moving on with the agenda that he’ll commute into work next Monday (8/31). Stay tuned for more about that — and hopefully other things that herald Portland’s biking renaissance — in future posts.

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City confirms date for mystery bike share announcement

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 12:44
You never know. It could happen.

An unexpected comment by City Commissioner Nick Fish at the council meeting this morning has led to a confirmation from the bureau of transportation that they’re planning an announcement about bike share.

Fish was making his closing comments about the neighborhood greenways report and resolution (that passed unanimously by the way) when he said something that raised more than a few eyebrows in City Hall and on social media.

“This is an outstanding report,” Fish said, “I want to thank Steve (Novick, the commissioner in charge of PBOT) for all the great work.” Then he mentioned a few of the initiatives Novick has championed recently like Vision Zero and Sunday Parkways. Then he added, “And bike share, which we’ll soon be taking up and which I fully support.”

That last line was a surprise because neither PBOT nor Novick has said anything about bike share for many months (at least not publicly).

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Last we heard from the city the bike share is coming “in 2016.”

Following Fish’s comments we asked PBOT Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway if she had anything she wanted to share. “We have reserved a time for a Council session on bike share on September 16th. We will release more information as it becomes available.”

So that’s it. On September 16th we’ll hear more from the city about their latest plans for bike share. If you’re keeping track at home that’s a full three years since they chose Alta Bicycle Share (now Motivate) to implement their system and over eight years since they first started planning for one.

We have not yet learned what exactly PBOT has up their sleeve, but since it’s coming at a city council meeting — and not a public press conference — our hunch is that it won’t be a big and splashy announcement. Don’t expect a date when the 750 bikes will hit the street and don’t expect to hear about a huge corporate sponsor they’ve lined up. It’s much more likely they’ll make a procedural move.

So much has changed in the world of bike share that perhaps PBOT wants to make sure they’re still on the right track with their plans and vendor. Another line of thinking is that PBOT wants to preempt any forthcoming announcement or launch from Spinlister, a private company who says they’re nearing completion of their Portland bike share plans.

Stay tuned.

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Industry Ticker: Ti Cycles 25-year Retrospective coming to Velo Cult

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 12:04

Portland is home to a legendary bicycle fabricator named Dave Levy. Dave has been doing amazing things with titanium under the Ti Cycles moniker since 1990. He started in Seattle then moved to the hills northwest of Portland in 2002 where his shop has been ever since.

This Friday night (8/28) Dave will share a special collection of his bikes and components from the last three decades in a retrospective show hosted by Velo Cult. If you love bikes and want to learn more about one of the greatest, most creative, fearless, and approachable guys in the world of bike making, you should not miss this event.

Check out a few more photos and an official press release about the 25 Year Retrospective event below…

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Ti Cycles Fabrication 25 Year Retrospective @ Velo Cult // Friday Aug 28th 6-10pm

Please join us from 6-10pm on Friday, August 28th, for a look back at 25 Years of Ti Cycles with a special collection of bikes and components from 1990 to today, hosted by the world famous Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd Ave, Portland OR 97213). This event is free and open to the public.

In 1990, after several years as a framebuilder, fitter and fabricator at the venerable R&E Cycles in Seattle, Dave Levy set up his own shop at 824 Post Avenue under the Ti Cycles flag.

A few years later the Ti Cycles shop moved to 9243 NE Blakeley Street, along the Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle’s University District, where it became known as an “oasis” of cycling knowledge to locals and out of towners alike.

In 2002 Dave moved himself and his frame building operations down to Portland, keeping the Ti Cycles retail location open for several years before turning the storied green building on Blakeley (now red) over to the fine folks at Counterbalance Bicycles, which remains in operation today.

Over the past quarter century Dave has built virtually every iteration of the cycling apparatus for literally every type of rider. From unicycles to tandems, track bikes to full suspension fat bikes, mini velos to cargo bikes, Dave has applied an unparalleled skill set of bicycling knowledge and fabrication know-how to the wheeled world.

(At one point in 2014 Dave was working on both a Victor Victoria tandem from the 1880s and a 3D printed titanium concept bike for a design competition.)

Along with his work at Ti Cycles and Cedar Ridge Fabrication (making high performance motorsports parts) and as co-owner of REN Cycles, Dave Levy has served as the President of the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association, as a consultant to dozens of bicycle and automotive equipment manufacturers in the US and abroad, as mentor to numerous student design groups (such as the University of Oregon’s award winning Oregon Manifest team), and as a cycling coach, fit expert, and sponsor for countless local, regional, and international athletes.

In addition to earning World and US National Masters Championship stripes in disciplines as diverse as Cyclocross and Keirin Track racing, Dave’s frames, forks and other components have performed at the highest levels of competition, from Paris-Brest-Paris and bike touring the jungles of Southeast Asia, to top finishes at the Tour D’Afrique, Tour Divide, Sea Otter Classic, US Olympic Trials, and Paralympic games. His bikes have won multiple awards at the North American Handmade Bike Show, been featured in numerous books and “Dream Bike” anthologies, and given customers and racers thousands of miles and countless smiles.

At the event this Friday there will be a range of bikes and bits from the past 25 years; visitors will see everything from bikes equipped with Softride parts, Scott-Mathauser rim brakes, Hayes mount disc brakes and a 1990s attempt at belt drive, to modern lightweight steel Di2 road bikes and Bluetooth-enabled Smart E-bikes.

All are invited to attend. Owners of bikes designed and/or built by Dave (Ti Cycles, REN Cycles, Hampsten Cycles, Rodriguez Cycles, Hi5 Bikes, etc) are encouraged to ride their bikes to Velo Cult.

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State says there’s not enough proof that bike lanes boost safety, so 26th Ave lanes should go

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 10:37
The City of Portland wants to create a second, more comfortable crossing of Powell at 28th, but the state says it won’t allow one unless bike lanes and bike boxes at 26th (shown here) are removed.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Three weeks after being asked if it can cite any evidence supporting its claim that removing a bike lane can sometimes increase bike safety, the State of Oregon has come up empty.

Moreover, a state spokeswoman wrote in an email Tuesday that four studies cited by the City of Portland that document safety benefits of bike lanes are inadequate, though the state did not say in what way the studies fall short.

“More research needs to be done,” the Oregon Department of Transportation said in its statement.

Research notwithstanding, the Oregon Department of Transportation is continuing to deny the City of Portland’s request to install a new stoplight at 28th Avenue and Powell (which would let the city create a new north-south neighborhood greenway on 28th) unless the city agrees to first remove the narrow bike lanes from nearby 26th Avenue.

Those bike lanes, which cross Powell directly in front of Cleveland High School and connect to the major commercial node at 26th and Clinton, are currently used for about 600 to 800 cycling trips a day.

ODOT’s statement came one week after BikePortland asked if the state had any response to a letter about 26th Avenue, sent by Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller to the city’s bicycle advisory committee. In the letter, Geller had cited four studies showing, he said, that even a very narrow bike lane like the one on 26th Avenue tends to increase safety on the street.

“Research on this topic is not always conclusive and can even be conflicting. More research needs to be done.”
— Oregon Department of Transportation, on whether narrow bike lanes are safer than no bike lanes

According to the studies, even narrow bike lanes prompt people to bike further from the doors of parked cars and prompt people to give bike users more space when passing them in a car. According to a federally funded academic meta-analysis, bike lanes reduce crash rates on a street by 36 to 50 percent.

In an email Tuesday, ODOT said the idea that bad bike lanes are better than nothing was not a reasonable conclusion to draw from those studies, but didn’t say why Geller’s interpretation was inaccurate.

Also in that email, the state denied that the head of its engineering department had ever claimed, in an interview about the 26th Avenue bike lane, that there are “conflicting studies” about the phenomenon of “safety in numbers,” the frequently cited observation that increasing the number of bikes on a street or in a city tends to reduce the risk of biking.

Narrow bike lanes are better than nothing, city says10 a.m. southbound bike traffic at 26th and Powell.

Aside from the question of evidence, the state’s fundamental argument is fairly simple: if you remove the 3.5-foot bike lanes from 26th Avenue and create a greenway crossing at 28th, most people will probably cross at 28th, which is safer than 26th because it will have fewer turning vehicles.

But if you do that without removing the bike lane from 26th, the state says, many people will keep biking on 26th.

The city, on the other hand, argues that people should be able to choose which street to bike on, and that many people are likely to bike on 26th Avenue (or at least to cross Powell there) whether or not there is a bike lane. Removing the bike lane, the city says, will make 26th Avenue more dangerous for no good reason.

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Here are the four studies Geller cited, showing (he said) that even narrow, substandard bike lanes like the ones on 26th Avenue are safer than a street with no bike lanes:

Evaluation of Shared-Use Facilities for Bicycles and Motor Vehicles,” Transportation Research Board, Record No. 1578, Harkey, D.L, Stewart, J.R., 1997 concluded that “bicycle lanes as narrow as 0.92 m (3 ft) provide sufficient space for motorists and bicyclists to interact safely. At the same time, a 1.22m (4-ft) wide bicycle lane tended to optimize operating conditions because there were very few differences in the measures of effectiveness when 1.22-m lanes were compared with wider lanes.”

Effect of Wide Curb Lane Conversions on Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Interactions,” Report prepared for the Florida Department of Transportation, William W. Hunter, John R. Feaganes, Highway Safety Research Center, University of North Carolina, April 2004; concluded that people bicycling and people driving positioned themselves more safely on a roadway with 11’ travel lanes and 3’ bicycle lanes than with just a 14’ travel lane.

National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 766 “Recommended Bicycle Lane Widths for Various Roadway Characteristics,” Transportation Research Board, 2014 provides a literature review that states the following:
“Bike lanes have a positive impact on safety when compared with unmarked roadways. Bahar et al. (2008) found that the presence of a bike lane reduces bicycle crashes by 36%. This finding is supported by other research.”
“Reynolds et al. (2009) examined the relationship between bicycle infrastructure and cyclist safety through a review of 23 papers from 1975 through 2009. When examining the studies related to roadway segments (rather than intersections), marked bike lanes and bike routes were found to reduce crash rates and injuries by about half when compared to unmodified roadways. The safety effectiveness of specific bicycle facility designs was not described by Reynolds et al.”

How Pavement Markings Influence Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Positioning: A Case Study in Cambridge, MA” Report prepared for City of Cambridge, MA, Ron Van Houten, Mount Saint Vincent University and Cara Seiderman, City of Cambridge, concluded bicycle lanes “encouraged cyclists to ride farther away from parked cars” helping to reduce the chances of being doored when compared to streets without bicycle lanes.

In an email Tuesday, ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie offered “ODOT’s response” to Geller’s citation of these studies. Here it is, in its entirety: “We don’t feel it’s fair to boil down many research studies into one black-and-white summary statement. It’s not that simple. Research on this topic is not always conclusive and can even be conflicting. More research needs to be done.”

State says engineering manager never claimed that reducing bike traffic can improve safetySome people who bike on 26th already don’t bother with the bike lanes.

Another issue raised by BikePortland’s Aug. 5 interview with several ODOT officials, including regional traffic engineering manager Sue D’Agnese, was what D’Agnese had meant when she said that there are “conflicting studies” about whether having more bikes at a location increases bike safety.

Because she said ODOT was motivated “only by safety” in pushing the city to remove the 26th Avenue bike lane, I’d asked her whether she had any evidence that removing the 26th Avenue bike lane would in fact improve safety. Even if most people began crossing at 28th, I said, the people still biking on 26th would see increased risk — if nothing else because there would be so few of them.

In the interview, D’Agnese responded that the “safety in numbers” trend was not always true.

“There’s conflicting studies in the transportation safety realm,” she said. “There’s also studies that when bike volumes are high, crash rate goes up. … It depends on the geometry and the site-specific conditions.”

At the time, I told D’Agnese that this was contrary to everything I’d heard about the subject as a reporter, so I would like to know where that information was coming from. On Aug. 18 I sent another email making the request more explicit.

In her email Tuesday, Dinwiddie (who wasn’t herself present at the first interview) wrote that ODOT believes my notes from the interview were inaccurate:

Unfortunately that’s not an accurate summary of what Sue said. She said: “Regardless of mode, generally more traffic results in a higher frequency (total number) of crashes due to the higher exposure. Therefore, an increase in bike traffic could result in an increase in the frequency of crashes. However, an increase in the frequency of bike crashes could occur at the same time there is an overall lower crash rate due to higher total traffic volumes.”

That’s a perfectly reasonable statement — to carry it to an extreme, of course there would be zero bike crashes if no one ever rode bikes — but it doesn’t have any bearing on how the state is balancing the potentially increased risk of biking on 26th Avenue against the safety benefits of a new signal at 28th. Also, it’s definitely not anything close to what D’Agnese said.

Assuming ODOT does not change course, the city’s staffers have not yet reached a decision about whether to scrap their request for a signal on 28th Avenue or to scrap the bike lane on 26th.

“Our intent is to keep our options open,” city project manager Rich Newlands wrote Tuesday. “We believe there are still creative solutions that will allow us to have both the new signal at 28th and retain the bike lanes on 26th.”

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Council vote today would allow more diverters on neighborhood greenways

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 07:18
A traffic diverter allowing biking and walking traffic but blocking auto traffic.
(Photos: J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Traffic diverters: back by popular demand.

“If people are telling us ‘I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike on this street,’ then the greenway is not performing its intended function.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT bicycle planning coordinator

At their weekly meeting in City Hall this morning, Portland’s city council is poised to adopt a set of guidelines sweeping away an internal barrier that had led the city to avoid using diverters in many situations where they would improve a neighborhood greenway.

Neighborhood greenways are Portland’s name for the side streets that use sharrow decals, speed humps, signs and stoplights to make them comfortable for biking and other outdoor activity.

Traffic diverters are facilities like the ones at Northeast Tillamook and 16th or Southeast Clinton and Chavez that block cars from driving through certain intersections.

Wednesday’s council vote would be one of the biggest steps Portland has ever taken to enshrine neighborhood greenways as a higher priority than other side streets — and to acknowledge that the city must not only build new greenways but also tend to problems on the ones it has already built.

“More people are traveling on Portland’s streets,” the city’s transportation staff explains in a new report on neighborhood greenways. “Increased residential and commercial development is requiring new strategies for managing the neighborhood greenway system.”

The report and guidelines come in response to a year of sustained activism from pro-bike Portlanders for the city to use diverters more often. New diverters on Southeast Clinton have been the No. 1 issue for the upstart group BikeLoudPDX, and were one of the main requests in a rally that group organized at City Hall in June.

City officials say that message has been heard.

“People are saying ‘This is not comfortable, this is not safe,'” Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller said. “If people are telling us ‘I don’t feel comfortable riding a bike on this street,’ then the greenway is not performing its intended function.”

A June rally by BikeLoudPDX included many calls for more diverters.

The guidelines proposed in the new Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report would essentially direct city planners and engineers to install a diverter on any part of a neighborhood greenway that sees more than 2,000 cars per day.

That means Southeast Clinton, Southeast Lincoln, Northwest Johnson, Northwest 24th and Southeast 130th would all get diverters to reduce non-local auto traffic.

In all, the report’s recommendations would trigger an estimated $1 million in improvements to a handful of the city’s existing neighborhood greenways, said city active transportation manager Margi Bradway, who has been the driving force behind the report.

According to the city’s study of traffic speeds and volumes throughout its network, new diverters and/or speed humps are needed on these existing routes:

• NE Alameda
• SE Ankeny
• SE Clinton-Woodward
• SE Lincoln-Harrison-Ladd
• NW Greenways, which includes short sections of several streets throughout inner Northwest
• NE Tillamook-Hancock

The city’s goal with speed humps would be to slow traffic until less than 15 percent of people are driving faster than the 20 mph speed limit on greenways.

The $1 million is unfunded. Bradway hopes that Wednesday’s council vote on the new guidelines (expected around 10 a.m.) will lay the groundwork for that cash being included in the city’s 2016-2017 budget.

Mayor Charlie Hales has already called for a new experimental diverter on Clinton to be built in the current fiscal year.

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Earlier this year, we shared two advance tidbits from this report: a map showing traffic speeds on neighborhood greenways and another showing traffic volumes.

Of those two, the city feels that traffic speeds represent the bigger problem. Though the city is aiming for 20 mph speeds on its greenways, traffic moves faster than that on 84 percent of the system.

Traffic volumes are a smaller-scale problem. Only 9 percent of the system sees traffic volumes above 2,000 cars per day. But those trouble spots are concentrated in inner Northwest and Southeast Portland.

Both maps above also show major problems on the 130s neighborhood greenway in East Portland. That’s because the greenway doesn’t exist yet. It’s already scheduled to get speed humps, and the data suggests that it might need one or more diverters, too.

Here’s a useful chart in the report that shows why traffic volumes matter so much to the biking experience: on a street like Clinton that carries 3,000 cars per day, about 21 cars will pass a bike during a 10-minute trip.

In addition to the maximum of 2,000 cars per day, the report offers an “alternate guideline” that neighborhood greenways should never have more than 100 cars in a single direction over the course of an hour.

“The traffic volume during the rest of the day may be very low, but the significant increase in peak-period autos creates a high-stress environment for people biking during that time,” the report explains.

City active transportation manager Margi Bradway, left, kicked off the creation of today’s report and the new guidelines.

Understanding the significance of today’s report requires understanding a set of internal guidelines that few Portlanders have ever heard of.

It was created in the 1990s, when then-Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer pioneered a program that let residents lobby the city to install diverters on their streets. The goal was simple: force car traffic to use arterial and collector streets instead.

But according to the rules written in those days, diverters couldn’t be used simply to swap large amounts of traffic from one local street to another.

If a proposed diverter on any local street would be expected to send a substantial number of cars per day to a different local street, the diverter couldn’t be built. The city saw no upside in merely moving the traffic problem around.

Today’s guidelines scrap that system. Even if a new diverter on a neighborhood greenway would send hundreds of cars onto other local streets, that would now be OK.

The new guidelines draw the line at 1,000 cars. Diverters still aren’t allowed to direct so many new cars to any single local street that its traffic exceeds that level.

The rationale for the rule change is simple, Geller said: neighborhood greenways are more than just local streets.

“It may be a local street for automobile traffic,” he said. “But it’s an important street in the city’s classification system for bicycle transportation.”

Correction 3:20 pm: A previous version of this post misstated the maximum amount of auto traffic the new guidelines will allow on non-neighborhood-greenway local streets. They will allow post-diversion levels up to 1,000 cars per day, not up to 1,000 additional cars per day.

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Video leads to two citations in case of dangerous pass caught on camera

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 13:27
Still from video by Tony Tapay

Chalk up another win for video camera justice.

Tony Tapay caught a dangerous pass on camera last month and — even though there were no police or other witnesses around to see it — he doggedly pursued his case in hopes that the man who nearly hit him and his son would be brought to justice.

Five weeks after the incident occurred the Portland Police have now officially cited Andrew Reid for Careless Driving and Unsafe Passing of a Person Operating a Bicycle.

On July 7th, Tapay, 47, was riding on SE 34th with his 5 and-a-half year old son on the back of his Xtracycle. With his handlebar-mounted camera running, a Kia Soul driven by Reid came whizzing just inches past him and nearly ran head-on into another rider coming in the opposite direction. Tapay’s camera recorded everything, including the car’s license plate number and the driver’s face (after Tapay caught up to him at a traffic signal).

After the incident, Tapay sought help from lawyers Ray Thomas and Charley Gee at Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton and began the citizen initiated citation process, a little-known Oregon law that allows anyone to build a case and engage the police retroactively. Tapay began by calling the phone number listed on the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division’s website; but that was a dead end. “It’s not even for the Traffic Division,” Tapay said, “the person who answered had no clue what I was talking about.”

Tapay shared in an interview today that it was, “Incredibly frustrating to navigate the system.” Despite many phone conversations that led nowhere, he didn’t give up.

Tapay then emailed the officer in charge of his local Neighborhood Response Team. Here’s an excerpt from that email:

“I am writing to you as the SE Neighborhood Response Team Officer. I hope you can help me with a situation with a dangerous driver.

On Tuesday, July 7th, I was riding my bike with my five-year-old son (on the seat behind me), heading south on SE 34th Ave approaching SE Grant. Suddenly I could hear a car approaching from behind me at a very high rate of speed. Despite the fact that we were approaching a speed bump and that there was another person on a bike coming the other way, the car veered around me, completely into the other lane, barely missing the other rider and continued at high speed. It was a VERY dangerous situation on a bike route with a posted speed limit of 25mph. Please note that I was riding along at a pretty good speed. That his pass seemed so fast relative to my speed makes it all the more frightening.

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I continued to Division St. where the car was now stopped at a red light. Considering the danger of the pass, and the fact that he was now caught at the red light, I couldn’t help but roll up to the driver’s side and ask, “Was that really worth it?” To which he responded flippantly, “Yup!” He then accelerated quickly and headed to SE Clinton and took a left.

As our neighborhood officer, would you be willing to cite the driver? If you are not able to can you provide me with a contact of a Portland Police Bureau officer who would be able to?”

“Unfortunately,” that officer wrote in an email on July 17th, “sworn law enforcement officers cannot cite for violations they did not personally observe. They are required to be present at the time of the violation in order to testify to it in court.” While it wasn’t the response he hoped for, that officer encouraged Tapay to call the city’s traffic safety and livability hotline, 823-SAFE.

After leaving a message at 823-SAFE Tapay got a call back from Officer Bill Balzer, a Traffic Division veteran. “He was understandably neutral about it at first. His tone wasn’t particularly encouraging,” Tapay recalled. But then he sent Balzer the video and everything changed.

“After seeing the video he [Officer Balzer] was suddenly very motivated. He said what the guy did was totally dangerous and clearly careless driving.”

Three days later, on August 20th, Officer Balzer called Tapay with the good news. They were able to locate Reid and issued him two traffic citations. According to Tapay, Reid claimed that he had pulled out suddenly in front of his car. Luckily Tapay had a longer video of the incident (watch it here) that clearly disputes that claim. (For what it’s worth, some people on Twitter are calling for the police to cite Tapay for rolling through a stop sign prior to the dangerous pass.)

Reid is scheduled to appear in court on the citations in mid-September.

Tapay told me today that he never thought his $300 Shimano ECM 1000 camera would be used to give someone a citation. “I got it,” he said, “in the event I was ever in a collision there’d be no dispute about what actually happened.” Several years ago Tapay was hit by a woman who ran a red light and she offered a blatantly false story about what transpired.

Tapay hopes his experience makes people think twice about driving dangerously. Back in May, he rolled up on the scene of a tragedy that changed his perspective forever. He saw Mark Angeles’ body lying in the street just moments after the collision.

“It had a profound effect on me. While I hope no one is ever killed again, I think if people had that opportunity to stand there and see that person dead, in the road, they’d understand how real this is. It’s not a game. Driving is not a game.”

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County’s draft Sauvie Island transportation plan would discourage “recreational bicycle activities” – UPDATED

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 11:49
Is too much cycling on Sauvie Island a bad thing? Should the County collect a fee from riders?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”
— Policy 5.6 of the draft Sauvie Island and Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and Transportation System Plan

Multnomah County will host a public hearing for the Sauvie Island and Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and Transportation System Plan (PDF) this Thursday and a veteran advocate who sits on the County’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee says some policy language in the plan is “unacceptable.” That same advisory committee referred to the language as “discriminatory.”

Sauvie Island sits about 10 miles north of downtown Portland. Its beautiful roads, proximity to Portland, and rural character have made it a popular place for many people — in cars and on bikes — who want to escape the city and enjoy the island’s farms, markets and beaches. According to the Sauvie Island Community Association, over 1.5 million people visit every year. Last year the County counted over 1,700 bicycle riders on the island during the month of October, with some weekends seeing over 350 riders per day.

Because the roads are narrow and people don’t always use them with enough caution and consideration for others, and due to the island’s active agricultural and farming operations, traffic safety was a key component of the transportation system plan update. From the start of the planning process nearly two years ago, we expected that cycling and road safety would play a major role in the plan’s development.

What we didn’t expect was the Planning Commission’s draft policy language that would make it official county policy to discourage bicycling on Sauvie Island.

Andrew Holtz, a member of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, emailed us this morning to say he’s concerned about a specific policy that has remained in the draft plan despite the committee’s insistence that it should be deleted.

Here’s the language Holtz and the bike advisory committee are concerned with. It’s Policy 5.9 in the Manage Travel Demand section of the draft Sauvie Island/Multnomah Channel Transportation System Plan (emphasis mine):

“Implement a range of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policies encouraging existing businesses and requiring new development (beyond single family residential use and agricultural uses) to help reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), maximize use of existing facilities and alleviate congestion on US 30 and county roads caused by seasonal and special event traffic. Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”

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Additionally, project number 15 in the draft plan’s list of “Planned projects and programs” states that the county would work with Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to implement higher auto parking and permit fees and possibly limit the number of permits. That project would also “include bicycle permitting.”

At an April 15th public workshop hosted by Kittelson and Associates Inc. (the consultants on the plan update), the idea of tolling bicycle riders was suggested. Kittelson included that idea in a technical memo sent to Multnomah County back in June:

Bicycle and Pedestrian Treatments – Collect a bike fee from recreational bikers on Sauvie Island.

Another comment from someone on the plan’s Citizen Advisory Committee put it more bluntly: “Do not attract more bicycles to the area.”

At the July 8th meeting of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, members discussed who on the island is opposed to cycling. The draft minutes from that meeting (which aren’t published yet, but were sent to BikePortland by request) state that there are several groups of Sauvie Island residents who oppose “recreational cycling” — including members of the Sauvie Island Community Association.

(A study of traffic data by Multnomah County showed that there were no reported crashes involving people walking or biking on any county roads on Sauvie Island between 2007 and 2013. The majority of crashes that were tracked involved motor vehicle operators who hit a fixed object or ran off the road.)

The County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee wants the comments about discouraging “recreational cycling” to be removed entirely from the draft plan. They say the County has a responsibility to all of the island’s road users — including people who use the roads for cycling.

Instead of a policy that discourages cycling, the advisory committee “felt overwhelming” (according to its meeting minutes) that the County should actually be encouraging cycling.

Holtz says, “It’s time to make sure the County commissioners hear from people,” about this issue. He’s urging everyone with concerns about these policies to contact the County’s planning staff via email at*. Holtz also says it would be helpful to contact Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury ( and District 1 Commissioner Jules Bailey ( in advance of Thursday’s hearing. *Note that today (8/25) is the final day to submit written comments about this plan.

If you have time to make a public comment in person, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners meets Thursday (8/27) at 9:30 am and this Sauvie Island Plan update is the first thing on the agenda.

UPDATE, 2:45pm: County spokesman Dave Austin tells us that County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Jules Bailey are aware of the language in the draft plan and on Thursday they plan to propose an amendment that will strike the language from the plan. Austin added that it’s standard procedure for the Chair and Commissioners to allow the Planning Commission to go through their complete plan development process without weighing in about specific input until the public hearing.

A reader also shared an email response he received from Kafoury’s office today:

“I wanted to follow up and let you know that Chair Kafoury was surprised by the language that the Planning Commission included differentiating recreational uses from other bicycle uses. She is working on an amendment that will strike that language in concert with Commissioner Jules Bailey. The amendment will likely be discussed this Thursday and adopted next week.”

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PBOT: School relocation will mean more auto traffic on North Flint

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 08:03
Traffic on Flint at Broadway.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A popular route for bicycling will change a lot when school starts later this week.

On Thursday the currently vacant school on North Flint Avenue just south of Russell will become the temporary home for Faubion School. Faubion (which serves kindergarten through eighth grade) will move from their northeast Portland location while their school is rebuilt over the course of the next two years.

Flint is a popular connection between the bike lanes N Vancouver Ave and N Broadway. The move means that what used to be a quiet backstreet for thousands of bike riders each day will see a lot more auto traffic.

The situation warranted a press release by the bureau of transportation yesterday. PBOT is recommending that people who want to avoid the traffic — especially during the morning and afternoon pick-up and drop-off times — stay on Vancouver to Tillamook before getting back onto Flint.

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PBOT’s suggested detour.

Faubion has just over 500 students and according to the city’s most recent Safe Routes to School survey over 40 percent of them walk or bike to school. However, that survey also showed that all those walking and biking trips were made by students who live one mile or less from the school. With the temporary location on Flint being over five miles from Faubion, both Portland Public Schools and PBOT, “anticipate that the… distance between the two sites will result in more families driving to school.”

PPB and PBOT are working together with the public, students and families to help with traffic issues. PPS held a bike breakfast at the site last week to spread the word about the change and they say bus drivers have gotten special training on how to maneuver “in a highly bicycle trafficked area.” PPS will also work with the city’s Safe Routes program to encourage bike trains, walking school buses, ride sharing, and other options to driving.

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City council will weigh new neighborhood greenway guidelines Wednesday

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 15:33
Southeast Clinton Street.

Some biking advocates are planning to wear green to Wednesday’s Portland City Council meeting to welcome the arrival of a long-awaited city study of Portland’s neighborhood greenways.

The study, first reported on BikePortland in November, has since evolved to include a new set of recommended guidelines for what makes a comfortable greenway. The guidelines would, in some ways, enshrine modern neighborhood greenways into city practices for the first time.

Over the last year, many Portlanders have warned that some neighborhood greenways — the theoretically low-traffic, low-stress side streets that form the backbone of the bike network in most of inner east Portland and a major component of its city’s planned network — are uncomfortable and unwelcoming to bike on because of high car traffic and speeds.

The city data gathered for this report essentially confirmed those warnings.

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Most notably, city staff are proposing a formal target of 1,000 motor vehicles per day on neighborhood greenways, with 1,500 acceptable and city action required for levels over 2,000 cars per day.

For crossings of major streets, the city is proposing a target of at least 50 opportunities to cross per hour on bike or foot, with at least 100 crossings ideal.

Both of these guidelines would represent changes over the current benchmarks. Look for a more in-depth exploration of the proposed guidelines in the next couple days.

Advocacy group BikeLoudPDX is organizing Portlanders to testify in support of the staff recommendations, which are being submitted to the city council for formal review. The group is inviting supporters of neighborhood greenways to show up at Portland City Hall, 1220 SW 5th Ave., at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The council’s agenda calls for the report to be presented at 9:45 a.m. and last 30 minutes.

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Police investigate after road-rager is caught on camera

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 14:22

On Friday around noon a woman in the Montavilla neighborhood was the victim of road rage and now the police are investigating the incident thanks to the quick thinking of a passerby.

Jodi Cullen saw the incident unfold and had the presence of mind to pull out her phone and start recording. Cullen shared video of the alleged road rager on her Facebook page.

The incident involved a man driving a small SUV and woman riding a bicycle at the intersection of SE 76th and Yamhill. In an account of the incident shared by the woman on the bike, the man in the SUV allegedly became upset after she made a rolling stop through the intersection.

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From a message posted the Montavilla Neighborhood Association’s Facebook page, the woman who was riding the bike said the man driving the SUV was approaching the intersection after she had already passed through and, “began honking at me well before he made it to his stop sign.” Then she alleges that he got more aggressive and tried to ram her off the road while screaming at her. In the ensuing moments, the woman admits that she slap the wheel wells of the SUV several times (a fact you can hear the driver mention in the video as his rationale for becoming upset, as in, “she hit me first”).

After several attempts to run into her with his car (“he was relentless in his pursuit of me”), he allegedly tried to pin the woman against his car and a parked car. At that point she jumped onto the sidewalk. The man then continued to scream at her and called her a “slut,” she claims.

Cullen also saw the events unfold and has vouched for the woman’s story.

The woman says “This was clearly a misogynistic, violent act” and added that she has contacted the police and has already pressed charges.

Cullen says she is meeting with the police this week to share a copy of the video and give her official statement.

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County responds to Broadway Bridge path closure complaints

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 11:56
A County project on the Broadway Bridge has resulted in detours and intermittent closures.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County is in the midst of a major project to repaint the Broadway Bridge. When that work results in the closure or narrowing of the bridge’s biking and walking paths, some bicycle riders feel the County should do more predictable detours and safer conditions in the work zones.

Here’s what reader Dan C. emailed us on August 17th:

Upon crossing the Broadway Bridge at about 9:30 this morning came across a pack of people that were all confused as to what to do. Cars were allowed through 1 lane in each direction, but the west-bound sidewalk was completely shut down and no directions at all as to what to do.

I ended up going slowly between the two rails and had a small gang behind me. This is pretty harrowing though because 1′ in either direction means an instant crash and a mangled bike (along with a mangled me)… Additionally it’s unsafe to go on the Eastbound side of the sidewalk as a good section of that sidewalk is already too narrow to safely get a single bike, much less 2 bikes in opposite directions.

There also weren’t any signs on Interstate Southbound or Broadway Westbound indicating that there would be issues.

Once again, cycling as transit is a lingering afterthought during any construction project.

And two days later we got a similar email from reader Matt O:

I’m not one to complain, but the Broadway Bridge bike lane closure has made me, as a bike commuter, feel like a second class form of commuting. I say this because there is nothing, that I can find, informing bicycles that the 1) one sidewalk would be closed and 2) that the other one would be single file. It would be nice to know if biking on the Broadway Bridge car lanes should be considered, because the sidewalk is becoming a serious safety issue. I know there is work to do on the bridge, but I’d like there to be more readily available information for us bicyclists (not just on this site). And if someone in the city saw the cluster*%*$ on the one, two-way, single file sidewalk they’d immediately attempt to remedy the situation (or at least that is my hope).

For me, I’m going to start biking on the roadway because the sidewalk is becoming a hazard for those people walking and they deserve feeling safe on their commute more so than a bicyclist.

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I forwarded both of these emails to Mike Pullen in Multnomah County’s communications office. He said they were “surprised” that some people found their signs confusing.

Here’s more from Pullen’s response:

“We realize that closing one of the Broadway Bridge sidewalks is inconvenient for the many bicyclists and pedestrians that use the bridge. However, we are a little surprised that some sidewalk users are confused by our detour signs directing them where to safely cross to the open sidewalk.

Our staff working in the field report that some bicyclists are riding past barricades and “Sidewalk Closed” signs and then crossing lanes of bridge traffic when they get to the closed section of the sidewalk.

We’ve sent out news releases, tweets (@MultCoBridges) and updated our website to get the word out about the sidewalk closures.”

Pullen also told me that the County is working with the project contractor on a plan that will close just one sidewalk for several weeks; but will keep the other sidewalk completely open without any scaffolding or barriers. I’ll share more about that new plan in the next week or so.

In the meantime, keep us posted on your experiences with this project via email or Twitter (@BikePortland). You can also email your concerns directly to Mr. Pullen at

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Donuts, Gofundme, and a humorous way to humanize bike theft

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 11:22

“Buy Doug a bike and 6 jelly donuts,” might be the best crowdfunding campaign title we’ve ever seen

Doug is a Portland-based web developer who got his bike stolen on August 6th. Despite parking in the garage of his southwest Portland office, thieves took his beloved bike and his co-workers say he hasn’t been the same since. One of them, Jeanne Goshe, created a campaign on to help Doug get back on a bike. The campaign hopes to raise $1,000 for the bike and $6 for a half-dozen jelly donuts.

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Here’s an excerpt from the fundraising appeal:

“Now, I don’t know much, but I know what it’s like to suffer a great loss. I also know that the only thing that will ease that pain is money and lots of it. I sincerely believe that if we throw enough money at this bikeless shell of a man, he might know happiness again.”

The whole thing is pretty creative and funny. Check out the campaign on

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