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Portland Oregon bicycle news, events, culture, travel and opinion.
Updated: 20 hours 31 min ago

Tilikum Crossing takes pressure off crowded Hawthorne Bridge

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 08:34
Tilikum Crossing during Sunday Parkways last weekend.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s a riddle to ask grandchildren: How did Portland make its most popular biking bridge better to use while simultaneously getting fewer people to use it?

The answer, of course, is “it built a totally different bridge a little way upriver.”

The Sept. 12 opening of Tilikum Crossing has cut Hawthorne Bridge bike traffic 33 percent, according to the bike counters on the two bridges.

Basically all of that reduced traffic seems to have shifted to the new Tilikum.

There’s no sign yet that the two-bridge combo is already drawing more bike traffic than the Hawthorne alone. Though the bridges’ combined bike count for September is 9 percent above the Hawthorne’s previous September high (captured in 2012) celebratory events like Sellwood Sunday Parkways seem to fully account for that jump.

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When asked about daily bike traffic numbers on the Tilikum, Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller thinks it’s still too early for a full analysis. “There’s still a lot of curiousity about the bridge,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s still kind of a destination. A novelty. It takes at least three months for people to figure out whether the bridge makes sense for them to use or not.”

Geller added that Metro is leading an effort in partnership with PBOT, TriMet, and researchers at Portland State University to collect baseline traffic and origin/destination data for bike trips across the bridge.

During its first two weeks open, Tilikum actually carried 15,000 more bikes than the Hawthorne. This week, though Tilikum traffic has fallen back to about half of Hawthorne traffic, which seems likely to be closer to its long-term state.

But the shift is already great news for people walking and biking on the Hawthorne, which has suffered from summertime bike congestion for years.

For those of use not navigating those bridges in rush hour, what matters will be how the increased comfort of the Hawthorne, the existence of the attractive new Tilikum, and the opening of the vastly improved Sellwood Bridge in a few months shape Portlanders’ habits over the course of the next few years.

Have you noticed a difference on the Hawthorne? Has Tilikum proved to be a better crossing for some of your trips? Will the new Sellwood?

Jonathan Maus contributed reporting to this story.

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Weekend Event Guide: Beers, bikes, fruit, kids in the dirt, and more

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 08:07
That one time, at the Bike & Beer Fest, when they had a Huffy toss competition.
(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.

This weekend two of Oregon’s most beloved passions — bikes and beer — seamlessly merge into one spectacular event. The Handmae Bike & Beer Fest is the place to be this weekend. You should also do yourself a favor and get out to Cascade Locks in the Gorge to partake in what is shaping up to be the best Take a Kid MTB’ing Day ever. NW Trail Alliance has really done fantastic work putting the event together.

The forecast for the next few days looks to be excellent (in the short term that is, it sure would be nice to get back to normal weather patterns, but I digress): warm and sunny.

What do you have planned? Whatever it is, we hope it involves a bicycle. Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, October 2nd

BikePortland’s 10th Birthday Party – 6:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd)
It’s time we celebrated a bit, don’t you think? Come over to Velo Cult tonight and help us commemorate a decade of bike blogging — and wish us well as we embark on a whole new chapter. More info here (FB).

Saturday, October 3rd

Heiser Farms Cyclocross Race/GPRM #5 – All day in Dayton, Oregon
The final race in the Grand Priz Rhonda Mazza series happens at Heiser Farms. Expect a mud bog, twisty turns through the corn maze, and all the farm fixins. Bring friends and family for a hay ride and bring home the perfect pumpkin from their patch after enjoying a pint from the beer garden as you look out at the gorgeous vistas of the Willamette Valley. More info here.

Women-Only MTB Ride – 9:00 am at Family Man Parking Area in Hood River
As part of their annual Trail Fest, the NW Trail Alliance is hosting a womens-only no-drop MTB ride out at Post Canyon in Hood River. All abilities are welcome. After the ride, grab lunch and check out the fun and festivities as the Take a Kid MTB’ing Day in Cascade Locks or head back to Portland. More info here.

Harvest Fruit Trees By Bke – 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (3883 SE Brooklyn St)
Join the Portland Fruit Tree Project in the Richmond area of southeast Portland for this harvesting event. They’ll provide tools and if you have a cargo bike or large bike trailer, consider bringing it to help haul all the fruit! More info here.

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Slow Poke Ride – 9:30 am at Wilshire Park (NE 36th and Skidmore)
The Portland Wheelmen (and women!) will lead this 27-mile jaunt through N/NE Portland. Expect a relaxed, conversational pace of about 10-12 mph. More info here.

Handmade Bike & Beer Fest – 12:00 to 9:00 pm at Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd)
This is it folks! In what looks to be the best-ever event they’ve put together, Hopworks and the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association have brought together over 30 vendors for this show. See all the best custom, handbuilt bikes from Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Also come for the excellent beer from 12 different brewers along with live entertainment, music, and more. More info here.

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day – 4:00 pm at EasyCLIMB Trails in Cascade Locks
This annual event organized by the NW Trail Alliance is perfect for mountain-bike curious families with kids of any age. There’s tons to do including a Kiddy Kat Rally trail ride, professional skills instruction, food, games, prize raffle and entertainment for adults and little ones. Register on-site starting at 3:30 pm. More info here.

Sunday, October 4th

Cross on the Mountain – All day at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort on Mt. Hood
Come out to race and be a part of a brand new ‘cross venue! The fall colors will be blooming at Cooper Spur, where racers will enjoy lots of singletrack, a bit of grass, gravel, and other surprises. The course is at 3,500 on the north slopes of Mt. Hood. More info here (PDF).

Handmade Bike & Beer Fest – 12:00 to 5:00 pm at Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell Blvd)
This is it folks! In what looks to be the best-ever event they’ve put together, Hopworks and the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association have brought together over 30 vendors for this show. See all the best custom, handbuilt bikes from Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Also come for the excellent beer from 12 different brewers along with live entertainment, music, and more. 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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Fund drive launched for bike repair station on “Dirty 30”

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 14:14

If all goes according to plan there will be at least one oasis for bicycle riders on what is now a pretty miserable stretch of Highway 30 known among many who ride it as “Dirty 30.”

The bike lanes on Highway 30 north of downtown Portland are infamous. They are strewn with shards of every type of material imaginable, they are often taken over by large trucks accessing the many large driveways, and they are adjacent to fast-moving traffic. Flats are a common occurence and there aren’t many destinations where you’d feel like stopping to take a break.

That’s why we’re happy to report that the owner of the Union Market and Deli at 5515 NW St. Helens Road (between Kittridge and Saltzman – map) wants to install a public bike repair station. Martha Cole has lauched a campaign on to raise $1,550.

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Here’s more from the project description:

“Traveling on Hwy 30 through the NW Industrial Area and Linnton can be terrible on your bike and so many Portlanders make this commute 5 days a week. In addition to the recreational riding is very popular in this area as well.

As a member of this community and a Portlander, I believe a bicycle repair station would be a wonderful gift to present our bicycling enthusiasts. The Union Market and Deli has agreed to allow a self-service repair stand to be placed on their property, which will provide cyclists a safe secure location off the road to complete repairs.

Everything is in place to make this happen, but we lack the funding to go forward. The price of a deluxe (meaning with a pump, tools and tire rack) is $1495.00. This is where you come in…we need your help in raising the money to purchase and install the repair station. Anything will help. Even if you cannot donate to our fund, please at least spread the word. It may not seem like much, but even the smallest contribution to something can help make the world a better place.”

Getting this repair stand funded and installed would be a nice little victory in a part of town we don’t often have nice things to report on. Check out the funding campaign, share it with your friends, and let’s see if we can make this happen.

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Community helps recover stolen cargo bike used in homeless youth outreach program

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 10:51
These images of a discarded bike sparked some sleuthing and action that led to a successful recovery.
(Photos by Mary C.)

It started with an email from a concerned Portlander and it ended with a bike being reunited with its owner — who in this case happened to be a non-profit organization that works with young people experiencing homelessness. There were no police involved, only people in our community who care about each other and who have an eye for bikes.

On Tuesday we got an email from southwest Portland resident Mary C. She saw what looked to be a cargo bike hidden under a pile of cardboard boxes on the side of her apartment on SW Montgomery. It looked out of place to her because, “This is obviously way too nice of a bike to be sitting, unlocked and hidden this way.” Being a helpful person, she called police and tried to search our stolen bike database but had no luck.

When she asked us, “How can this get spread to the bike community!?” I knew the perfect person to contact: Bryan Hance of Bryan is Portland’s stolen bike recovery superhero. In addition to being a software guy who created (which has since morphed into Bike Index) and created a custom plug-in for us, he’s also on our Bike Theft Task Force and spends most of his free time tracking down stolen bikes.

When Mary shared a photo of the bike, Bryan recalled that it looked very similar to this red bike I photographed at the Disaster Relief Trials event back in July 2014. While Bryan stayed in touch with Mary and urged her to lock up the bike immediately so it didn’t disappear again, I tried to contact Tom Labonty. Tom is the local builder/owner of Toms Cargo Bikes and the stolen bike — which was custom-built as a smoothie-making machine — was one of his creations.

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Tom Labonty with the bike in July 2014.
(Photo © J Maus/BikePortland)

When I got ahold of Tom he told me he no longer owned the bike. In fact, he had built three of them for a homeless youth outreach program run by Outside In, a non-profit based in downtown Portland. “This is really sad news,” Tom said, after finding out it had been stolen. Then he gave me the name of David Stone, the guy he worked with at Outside In. A quick email to David and he confirmed the bike had been stolen just one week ago.

Meanwhile, Bryan got Mary to lock up the bike and we looped everyone together via email. Mary gave David the combination to the lock and he was able to go over and recover the bike. Now it sits — all locked up and secure — in front of Outside In on SW 13th Avenue.

This recovery was a great team effort. It shows that it doesn’t always take the involvement of the police to recover a stolen bike. Very often bikes are recovered because someone has a watchful eye and cares enough to take a few minutes to send a few emails.

With all the terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad bike theft news we’ve been hearing about lately*, we really needed this!

Like stolen bike recovery stories? Read more of them in our archives.

*Stay tuned for more on that, and what we’ve been doing about it.

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How much should parking permits cost? Four ways the city could find out

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 09:07
Space is valuable. But who wants to vote on what it’s worth?
(Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)

Last year, Portland hired a top-dollar consulting firm for advice on the best way to manage the auto parking that’s become increasingly scarce in a few neighborhoods.

Twelve months later, the city is taking steps toward some of its recommendations: for example, proposing an opt-in parking permit system that would let residential neighborhoods block their street parking spaces from being used by people living or shopping on commercial corridors.

But at the moment, Portland is on course to ignore a different suggestion made very clearly by the firm, Nelson\Nygaard: that elected officials should “never, ever” be the ones to set the price of parking.

“It’s so important to save the elected officials from themselves — their job is to adopt policy, their job is not to micromanage the city,” said Jeff Tumlin, the top parking expert at San Francisco-based consultancy. Setting the price of on-street parking, he said, is “not a city council’s job. It’s really bad. These conversations quickly get so emotional and irrational that they should never be argued at city council.”

Instead, Tumlin said city councils should agree on the outcome they’d like to see: one available parking space on every block, for example, or one guaranteed parking spot for every home in a residential neighborhood. Then they should direct their staff to come up with meters, permits, quotas or other systems to get to that outcome.

Tumlin spoke in an interview with BikePortland Wednesday that reiterated the advice he gave a roomful of 130 Portlanders back in June.

Jeffrey Tumlin.

“If I were an elected official, the last thing I would ever want is to have parking prices on the agenda.”
— consultant Jeffrey Tumlin

“If I were an elected official, the last thing I would ever want is to have parking prices on the agenda,” Tumlin said. “Even if you satisfy your constituents on the parking issue, you often have not satisfied them, because the real issue is something else.”

But as Portland considers letting neighborhoods vote to create overnight residential parking-permit districts, the city staffer managing the project said the current plan is for city council to make all the permit pricing decisions.

“City Council adopts the transportation fee schedule annually by ordinance,” city project manager Grant Morehead said Wednesday. “The fee structure of the residential parking permits will be adopted through this annual process.”

One week from today, the city’s year-long parking reform process will get a Portland City Council work session for the first time. In preparation for that, we talked to a few experts around town to find four ways that Portland could follow its consultant’s advice.

Here they are.

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1) City staff could take an informed guess about the right permit price and see what happens

The most obvious way for Portland to follow Tumlin’s advice would be to simply have the city’s appointed staff, instead of their elected bosses, take a stab at the right price.

This wouldn’t be an impossible task. Staffers could base the price on what it is in other cities, or on the going rate for off-street parking in the neighborhood, or simply make sure it covers the cost of administration and enforcement.

Morehead, one of the staffers who’d likely be involved with that effort, said Wednesday that this wouldn’t work well, because parking permits last for a full year. If the city guesses wrong, it might have to keep fiddling with the permit price for several years to get it right.

“The time frame is so long,” Morehead said.

Advantages: Straightforward. Responsive to political pressure.

Disadvantages: Could take years to get right. If the price is too low, there could be years-long waiting lists for a parking permit. If it’s too high, no neighborhood will ever vote to create a permit district and the whole policy will be pointless.

2) The city could let neighborhood groups add to their district’s permit price and use the money for things they want

If a city parking permit goes for, say, $11 a month — that’s what they cost in Toronto and San Francisco — the city could give neighborhood groups the option of tacking on a few more bucks that would raise money for neighborhood infrastructure (a crosswalk beacon, a bus shelter, a public trash can) or programs that reduce driving to the area (subsidized transit passes for employees of local shops). That’s what the Central Eastside Industrial District already does with its daytime parking permits.

Advantages: Would let neighborhoods set rates appropriate to their area (Hollywood’s parking permits are probably more valuable than the ones in St. Johns). Would give neighborhoods a reason to create permit districts: it could become a steady source of cash for some neighborhood associations.

Disadvantages: There’s no reason to think neighborhood association leaders would be any better than elected officials or city staff at figuring the right price. If they get it wrong, see “disadvantages” beneath the previous item.

3) The city could let people resell permits they don’t need

This simple measure would have surprisingly far-reaching results.

When someone signs up for a parking permit, one of the things it could include would be the right to give it to someone else.

This simple measure would have surprisingly far-reaching results.

This is a suggestion from Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith, who said he sympathizes with longtime residents of neighborhoods that have been getting denser.

“We’ve flooded their streets with cars,” he said. Smith said it makes sense for “folks who’ve had their lives changed” to get something for that trouble, if they vote to create a parking district: a spot at the front of the line for a parking permit, if they want one. Or, if they don’t want one, the ability to get a permit and then resell it to anyone else who might want it: a resident of a nearby apartment, the manager of a nearby restaurant.

If every permit in a district were sold — except maybe for an allowance the city would reserve for poor residents or people with disabilities — someone who wanted a permit would track down someone who didn’t need theirs and buy it. When people left the neighborhood, they could sell their permit to whoever might be moving in, or just let it return to the city’s pool of unused permits.

Advantages: Residents would set the price of their permits for themselves by deciding what they’re willing to pay for one. People would have a reason to vote for permit districts because they would be creating a valuable commodity for themselves.

Disadvantages: Doesn’t earmark money for neighborhood projects or services. Creates a stronger sense that residents own public space when they don’t.

4) The city could sell permits with a Vickrey auction.

Each year, everybody interested in a permit for a given district could record what they’re willing to pay for it. Say the district had X available parking spaces. The city would put all the bids in descending order, count down X slots and give permits to everyone in that group … but they would only have to pay the price bid by person X, the cheapest of all the winning bids.

This is a concept from Tony Jordan, president of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association and one of the city’s most active volunteer parking wonks. It uses the same system that Google used when it started issuing public stock.

“Say you have 5 things for sale, you have bids for $1000, $900, $800, $700, $600, $500, and $400,” Jordan explains. “Everyone who bid $500+ gets the item at $500.”

Advantages: Residents would set the price of their permit for themselves by deciding what they’re willing to pay for one. Would raise a lot of money for either the city or neighborhood improvements.

Disadvantages: Complicated. People might not vote to create a system they don’t understand.

After puzzling through these options, I had one more question: is this question — how to remove parking permit prices from the direct oversight of the city council, as Tumlin recommended — even part of the parking permit committee’s job?

Absolutely it is, said Lidwien Rahman of the Oregon Department of Transportation. She ought to know; she awarded the grant that is paying for the city’s reform effort.

In fact, Rahman seemed to hope that the committee will help the city answer this question: not exactly how much the permits would cost, but how to find the right price.

“The advisory committee can definitely recommend whatever they want,” Rahman said.

— The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here.

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City plans protected bike lanes for NW Lovejoy and Broadway at post office site

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 15:34
The city aims for only 15 percent of trips to the new site to arrive by personal vehicle.
(Images: PDC)

Portland’s proposals for redeveloping its downtown post office include what would be a huge biking upgrade for the north side of downtown.

The “preferred alternative” plan (PDF) currently being circulated by the Portland Development Commission includes not only some sort of new descent from the Broadway Bridge directly to the North Park Blocks, but also protected bike lanes extending south on Broadway and west on Lovejoy Street.

On Johnson and Flanders streets, meanwhile, the city transportation bureau has been angling for diverters, speed bumps or other measures that would make them comfortable as neighborhood greenways: traffic volumes below 1,500 cars per day and speeds of 20 mph or below.

“We want to make sure that traffic accessing the site is not using Johnson to get to and from I-405 in particular,” city transportation planner Zef Wagner wrote in an email. “We have also asked that parking garage access be from the edges of the site or short accessways, but not from Johnson or Park.”

These changes are all theoretical until a big and very specific event takes place: the actual sale of the post office site, which would let the U.S. Postal Service move its trucking-intense operation to a less traffic-congested area. As we wrote back in April, a sale is looking as likely as it ever has, but the USPS has backed out of similar plans before.

In April, the PDC (which is the city’s main economic development agency) put up $500,000 for exclusive negotiations to buy the site. Its goal is to sell the property to real estate developers who’ll build a combination of employment, residential and office space around a new public plaza surrounding Union Station.

If the city’s plan is going to work, it’s going to require extremely good bike access. That’s because the goal is for the new development to create 4 million new square feet of real estate in downtown but only 5,000 new daily auto trips — half the ratio for the rest of the central city. Only that’d mean only 15 percent of trips to the site would come from people driving alone. Elsewhere in the central city, about 30 percent of trips come in that way.

If the site misses that target, auto parking on the site is likely to be either hopelessly inadequate or deal-killingly expensive to build.

In that context, Wagner said, the PDC has been “very receptive to our suggestions regarding bicycle access through the site and bicycle improvements surrounding the site.”

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So, what exactly will the bikeways look like? Frustratingly, the numerous renderings of the preferred alternative don’t show the connection to the Park Blocks that PDC and PBOT officials say the plan will include. The closest the sketches come is this, with the pink arrows seemingly indicating possible routes for people biking and walking down to the Park Blocks:

There’s also this, which suggests that the new route down from the Broadway Bridge would land — presumably after some amount of weaving — on the west side of the Park Blocks, just east of Park Avenue.

The nature of the protected bike lanes on Lovejoy and Broadway is still an open question. But Wagner highlighted the two images below. They show how the ramps down from the Broadway Bridge could be connected to create an elevated “street level” entrance to the new buildings.

It’d be possible, Wagner said, to move the bike lanes entirely off the Broadway and Lovejoy road beds and put bidirectional protected lanes on in the wide “setback” area shown here.

“We’re still discussing with PDC what these could look like,” Wagner said.

Though it’s theoretical, all of this will be influenced by, and will influence, the big downtown project the city is starting work on: its Central City Multimodal Safety Project, which is likely to give serious thought to an improved bike facility on Broadway further south in downtown. It’s also a big deal for rapidly growing Northwest Portland, which would get a lot out of a better bike connection to the Lovejoy viaduct and has been waiting for almost a decade for a comfortable bike route into downtown. The Flanders neighborhood greenway pictured here makes sense mostly if it connects to a long-discussed biking-walking bridge over Interstate 405.

All of this street work will also cost money. Presumably that’s where the developers who’d buy the site from the city are supposed to come in.

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BikePortland 10th Birthday Party is Friday! Here’s an update

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 15:11

We’re just two days away from our 10th Birthday Party!

This Friday night at Velo Cult a few hundred BikePortlanders will gather for a night of toasts to a great decade and hopefully many more to come. It will be a time to celebrate and it will be a time to step up and become an official supporter so we can have another big party in 2025. (Full details on our new BikePortlander subscription program will be announced on the site Friday before the party.)

Just so you know what you’re in for, here’s a quick update:

— BikeRacker has stepped up to provide parking for your bikes. Combined with existing racks we should have spaces for 200+ bikes at least. BikeRacker will be set up in the parking lot behind Velo Cult.

— We will have substantial finger foods and various salads and fixings thanks to Spin Events and Catering, a huge supporter of our local bike scene.

— For dessert, Whole Foods Market Laurelhurst has donated two massive chocolate cakes (thank you Helen!). There’s enough to feed around 200 people so don’t trample anyone trying to get a slice.

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— We’ll have excellent prizes to give away thanks to Orp, Walnut, Showers Pass, Bike Gallery, Fat Pencil Studio, Portland Design Works, books from Elly Blue Publishing, Outdoor Tech, and North St. Bags. To be eligible for prizes you’ll need to leave your email address on a free raffle ticket. We might also do some trivia questions so do your homework via the archives!

— Doors will officially open at 6:00 pm (but it’s Velo Cult so it’s always open of course) and we’ll start some live music at 8:00. Music will be an acoustic jam session by a few local pros led by the amazingly talented Mr. Robert Ping.

— Between 6:00 and 8:00 we’ll mingle, do a few little speeches, tell you why you should be a BikePortland supporter, and we’ll open up the mic for anyone that has something to share. I want to hear your best and worst BikePortland memories and would love to hear your thoughts on how we can grow and be even better in the future.

And I almost forgot, be sure to check out the fun story about us in this week’s issue of The Willamette Week.

OK that’s enough for now. Check out the Facebook invite if you want to RSVP.

We can’t wait to see you all on Friday night!

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DA declines criminal prosecution in case of man whose leg was severed in collision – UPDATED

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 13:22
Alistair Corkett at a bike safety meeting
in City Hall three weeks after losing his leg in
a traffic collision.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office announced today that they will not pursue criminal charges in the case of Alistair Corkett, the man whose leg was severed in a traffic collision at SE 26th and Powell back in May.

In a seven-page memo, Senior Deputy District Attorney Glen Banfield explains that the man driving the 1988 Dodge Pickup that collided with Corkett might have been careless or even negligent, but his actions do not rise to the legal threshold necessary for a finding of criminal negligence.

According to the DA’s office and the Portland Police Bureau’s investigation, here are some facts in the case:

— On May 10th at around 9:52 am Corkett and his riding partner Anthony Disano were riding southbound on 26th. At the same time, Barry Allen was driving northbound. As they approached the intersection with Powell, Allen was in the left turn lane preparing to go westbound and Corkett and Disano were going to continue south on 26th.

“Although Mr. Allen may have been negligent or even careless in failing to yield the right of way to Mr. Corkett, his conduct under the present circumstances is not the type of conduct that rises to the level of criminal conduct. This tragic event is not chargeable as a felony assault. Accordingly this case is declined for criminal prosecution.”
— Glen Banfield, Senior Deputy District Attorney for Multnomah County

— Disano and Corkett told investigators they were riding at a speed of about 18-23 mph. The posted speed at the intersection is 25 mph. Speed was not considered a factor in this collision.

— As he approached the intersection with Powell, Disano said Corkett was just a bit behind him. With the light at Powell a steady green he saw a car turn left (westbound) onto Powell in front of him and proceeded into the intersection thinking it was safe. Then Disano saw Allen’s truck. “He said he saw into the cab as the driver hesitated, ‘like he was waiting for us,'” reads the DA’s memo. “Mr. Disano thought to himself ‘ok, we’re good’.” At that point Corkett was following right behind Disano.

— Seconds later Allen’s truck began to turn right in front of Disano, who then slammed on the brakes of his bicycle and veered to the left. Disano just missed hitting the rear passenger side of the Allen’s truck.

— Corkett told investigators he too believed Allen was going to wait for them to go through the intersection. There seems to have been a bit of miscommunication. The DA’s memo says that Allen began to turn left, right in front of Corkett, but then appeared (to Corkett’s perception) to have hesitated just a bit so he thought he could make it through the intersection.

— Corkett was unable to avoid Allen’s truck and collided with the rear passenger side bumper. He thought he had successfully avoided the truck, “But soon realized,” states the memo, “that he had lost his leg.” “… he looked up and saw his leg on the sidewalk,” states the memo.

— When PPB Traffic Division officer interviewed Allen he said he waited for a car in front of him to turn left and then waited for another car headed southbound to go by him. He says he did not see Disano or Corkett until he was already making his turn. They were “going faster than he realized”, he stated, and he tried to turn out of their path.

— The DA agrees with Allen and concluded that he was not aware of Corkett’s presence until he began his turn into the intersection.

— Allen was not under the influence of any intoxicants. He was remorseful at the scene, responded with aid for Corkett after the collision and cooperated with the investigation.

The investigation proves that Corkett was riding legally and had a green light. Therefore under Oregon law, Allen was required to yield the right-of-way. He didn’t do that, so there’s a possibility he’ll be given a traffic citation by the PPB.

When it comes to whether or not he deserves criminal prosecution, the DA would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Allen’s failure to yield the right-of-way was reckless or done intentionally to cause physically injury to Corkett.

Here are the legal definitions the DA works with in this case:

​Under Oregon law a person acts intentionally or with intent when that person acts with a conscious objective to cause a particular result or to engage in specific conduct. A person acts knowingly or with knowledge, when a person acts with an awareness that the conduct of the person is of a particular nature or that a particular circumstance exists.

A person acts recklessly if that person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

Given the facts of the case, the DA feels they can’t prove Allen acted recklessly or intentionally. “When Mr. Allen began his turn into the intersection he believed he could safely proceed through the intersection,” DA Banfield wrote in conclusion. “As Mr. Allen proceeded through the intersection he saw Mr. Corkett and was unable to clear the intersection in time to avoid the collision.”

Whether or not Allen should have seen Corkett prior to the collision is the key point this all hinged on. If he could have been aware of Corkett, yet he still continued with the left turn, the DA might have had a case for reckless behavior. However, the DA relied on evidence gathered by a PPB officer who retraced Allen’s travel route a few weeks after the collision.

The PPB officer who retraced Allen’s route found that as he approached the intersection to make a left turn, “the north side of the intersection [where Corkett was coming from] appeared extremely busy and congested with activity… he observed pedestrians on the corners of the intersections waiting to cross as bicyclists, and vehicles entered and exited the intersection. The bicyclists he observed were ‘only visible for a short amount of time prior to entering the intersection southbound on SE. 26th Ave.'”

With that experience as part of their investigation, the DA was inclined to believe Allen’s claim that he wasn’t able to notice Corkett until it was too late.

Since the collision Corkett has raised over $90,000 to help with medical bills and physical therapy. In response to a community rally at the intersection The Oregon Department of Transportation installed a new left-turn signal.

​— Download the DA’s memo here (PDF).

UPDATE, 10:00 am on 10/1: Mayor Charlie Hales confirmed this morning on Twitter that the man driving truck will be issued three citations: careless driving, dangerous left turn, and driving uninsured. The careless citation will trigger the Vulnerable Roadway Users law (because it led to serious injury) and therefore Mr. Allen will face a steeper fine (up to $12,500), community service, and so on.

And we just saw that the PPB has issued a statement confirming this news. The PPB says the citations were dismissed initially due to an “administrative error.”

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Cyclocross racers will ‘Bike Against Cancer’ tonight at Alpenrose

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 09:45

People who participate in the weekly Blind Date at the Dairy cyclocross race series tonight will have a little extra motivation to pedal through the pain: They’ll be battling cancer with each spin of the legs.

Series organizers have teamed up with OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute for Bike Against Cancer, a one-lap fundraiser race. The race will start at 5:45 pm at Alpenrose Dairy in southwest Portland.

Blind Date organizer Joe Field says he’d doing the event to raise awareness and money for cancer research.

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In a fun and exciting twist, racers will raise money based on how many people they finish ahead of at the end of a 1.2 mile lap. By signing a pledge sheet, sponsors will pay a pre-determined amount for each person their racer beats (for example if you finish 15th and have a $1 pledge, that sponsor will owe OHSU $15). The lap will be handicapped with beginners and first-timers getting a big head start and expert riders starting in the back. Because the donation amount is based on the number of people you finish ahead of, the bigger the field the better! That also means there’s a reverse-incentive to finish last in order to help others raise money.

Here’s how Field describes it:

“The Bike Against Cancer is not just a race against each other, but it’s also a race against cancer. This is the one race in OBRA where the more racers that beat you, the more good you do, by helping the racers ahead of you raise more money from their pledge sponsors! I will be racing for last place!”

Entry to the race is just $5 and it’s open to OBRA members 12 and over. If you’re not an OBRA member you can get a one-day license for just $5 and juniors aged 12-18 race free. Registration is available on-site.

— Learn more at

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Weekend Recap: Scavenger hunt, cyclocross racing, and bikes for kids

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 09:10
One of the Bike Scout Scavenger Hunt troops before their big adventure.
(Photo by Ayleen Crotty)

Publisher’s note: I don’t work on weekends as much as I used to. That’s a bummer not only because I miss a lot of great events, but it also means you don’t see as many photos and recaps of them here on the Front Page. My goal is to hire a new writer soon that will be a weekend editor (among other things). For now we’ll be trying to post a weekend recap every Monday (I know, this one is late). If you’re an event organizer or attendee please send in your words and photos to Thanks! — Jonathan

Last weekend’s event guide was packed with fun and important happenings. Today we’ve got recaps and photos of four of them that give you a little taste of the diverse array of rides and events that Portlanders who love bikes get to take part in: a scavenger hunt, a kids bike donation event, and two cyclocross races.

Ayleen Crotty (of Filmed by Bike fame, among many other things) organized the Bike Scout Scavenger Hunt. Teams in costumes rolled through the city looking for clues and completing challenges. Ayleen said it was a huge success. Check out some of her fantastic photos…

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(Photos by Ayleen Crotty)

Non-profit Bikes For Humanity partnered with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance on an event at Sitton Elementary School in North Portland. Bikes For Humanity board member Andrew Shaw-Kitch sent us a recap an photos…

“The event went really smoothly… 5th graders who just finished Safe Routes to School and were chosen to receive a bike came with their parents and siblings and chose their new ride from the fleet, get a new helmet, lights, u-lock and quick tutorial on the tether ball pole in the playground. Their brothers and sisters got their bikes worked on and back on the road. Members of the community saw our signs and brought in their bikes to finally get access to the full range of gears. And volunteers from both B4H and the BTA came out to make the event a success.

We brought 30 bikes, 16 of which were picked up and fitted, and 14 of which will stay at Sitton to granted and fitted in the coming weeks. We look forward to repeating the event a third time in December at another Title 1
school east of the river.”

Here’s what it looked like:

And finally, we’ve got some hot and fresh photos from some of the cyclocross action that’s flourishing across the region.

First a few shots from the legendary, challenging Battle at Barlow. These photos come from Oregon Bicycle Racing Association staffer Joel Fletcher…

And Sellwood Cycle’s Jake Ryder took these great shots of the action at the Ninkrossi race across the river in Washington…

And that’s just a tiny sliver of all the great things that happened on bikes in and around Portland this past weekend. Hope you enjoyed this recap. If you organize or photograph and event and want to see it here on the Front Page, please send us photos, links, and a summary to

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Salmonberry Trail to the coast hits milestone, begins fundraising effort

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 08:09
The Salmonberry Trail would connect Banks
to Tillamook on the Oregon Coast.
(Map by Oregon State Parks & Rec)

The proposed Salmonberry Trail, a path that would connect Washington County to the Pacific coast through the forest along a defunct rail line, has an official name and is about to get a full-time executive director.

Previously referred to as the “Salmonberry Corridor,” the trail also has an 11-member decision-making body with formal power to start raising the unknown millions that’d be required for the 86-mile proposal.

The Salmonberry Coalition will celebrate those milestones at its annual meeting next month. The public event is 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Oct. 9, at Stub Stewart State Park.

“We’ve been having steering committee meetings about once a month,” state trails coordinator Rocky Houston said in an interview Tuesday about the coalition’s progress.

The biggest upcoming milestone for the path is likely to be the hiring of its first full-time staffer. Houston said the hiring process is underway for a two-year job to lay the groundwork for a major and ongoing search for grants, donations and other deals that could make the project possible.

Rail-with-trail (above) and rail-to-trail (below) renderings from the Salmonberry Corridor Draft Concept plan released last year. It’s not certain that all segments would be paved, especially at first.

The Salmonberry Trail would run through Washington and Tillamook counties along the route of a mostly unused rail line that has repeatedly been washed out by floods. It’d connect with the existing Banks-Vernonia Trail and the planned Council Creek Regional Trail between Hillsboro and Banks to create a continuous trail network from the Portland metro area to the Oregon coast.

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Houston said the executive director will be a state parks employee and that the position will come with a budget of about “$200,000 over two years for salaries and benefits and all those things.” It’ll continue through at least the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.

The money comes from the state Department of Forestry, from the Washington County Visitors Association, from Tillamook County, from the state Parks Department and from the nonprofit Cycle Oregon, which has been an instigating advocate for the project along with state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.

The forestry and parks departments, along with Tillamook County and the Port of Tillamook Bay, are the four voting members on the Salmonberry Trail Authority.

That group’s official creation last week was reported Monday by the Tillamook County Pioneer.

The Authority also has seven nonvoting members: representatives for Washington County, the Washington County Visitors Association, the Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust, Cycle Oregon, the regional solutions representative from the state governor’s office, the office of the state representative for District 32 (currently Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach) and the office of the state senator for District 16 (currently Johnson).

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Advocate: County survey needs input from rural road users, not just residents

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 15:25
Riding on the County-maintained Skyline Blvd.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to one of the first in our series of occasional “Advocate” posts. These are quick, simple opportunities to get involved in making the Portland area better for biking.

Multnomah County is updating its wide-reaching long-range plans in ways that matter deeply to residents of the relatively few urban streets owned by the county government.

The result is that people who live on those streets — notably for bike users, Northwest Skyline Boulevard and Corbett in the western Colombia Gorge — have weighed in about the importance of bike transportation to the county, but most residents of the county haven’t.

“It appears that the only active outreach has occurred at two open houses held along Skyline and in Corbett,” Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizen Advisory Committee member Andrew Holtz wrote in an email to BikePortland. “Not surprisingly, the attendees at these meetings put bicycling, walking and other active transportation projects at the bottom of their priority lists.”

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“The survey is open only until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, so there are just a few days to make your priorities known,” Holtz wrote. “Unfortunately, the key transportation questions are buried deep into the survey, so people have answer several pages of land use, agritourism and other questions before getting to the bike and ped stuff.”

If you’d like to weigh in, go for it.

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Let’s find these tricycles stolen from a 65-year old wheelchair user

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:54
(Photos: Portland Police Bureau)

I’ve been seeing a deluge of bike theft headlines in my media streams these past few weeks and I’m really getting tired of it.

Now I just got this alert from the PPB:

On Friday September 25, 2015, a 65-year-old woman called police to report that her two custom tricycles were stolen from the back porch of her Centennial Neighborhood home in Southeast Portland.

The victim told police that her tricycles were on the back porch of her home in the 2200 block of Southeast 145th Avenue and out of sight from the street. The suspect or suspects entered her locked backyard and stole both tricycles sometime during the night between Thursday September 24 and Friday September 25.

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Both tricycles were custom made and allow the victim to transition from her wheelchair to the trike.

That is not cool. Please keep an eye out for these trikes. If you see them or have any information about the theft, please contact Detective Pandra Parks at 503-823-0414 or and reference Portland Police Bureau Case #15-332712.

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With Hales hogging headlines, Wheeler challenges him to 12 “in-depth” debates

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 11:37

(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

You’ve seen it. We’ve seen it. Portland mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler has seen it.

“If my presence in the race lights a fire under the mayor, how can that be anything but a good thing?”
— Ted Wheeler, candidate for mayor

Since Wheeler entered the mayoral race earlier this month Mayor Charlie Hales has been on a tear. From climate change to homelessness to bicycling, Hales has become more animated and action-oriented.

In a letter to Hales today, Wheeler all but accused the incumbent of copying his stance on issues and then challenged him to 12 “in-depth” debates.

“When I announced my candidacy for mayor,” Wheeler states in the letter, “I noted that our city had a homelessness crisis; last week, you declared it an emergency. Two weeks ago, I voiced my support for a gas tax; last Friday, you decided to agree.”

Wheeler has a point. And he could add bicycling to that list. Just a day after he announced his candidacy, Wheeler had an invite-only, sit-down meeting with a handful of bike advocates and experts to learn more about cycling in Portland. Meanwhile, Hales has upped his cycling and active transportation game significantly in the past month or so. Since he and Wheeler had that secret meeting on August 20th, Hales has shepherded major plans through city council and yesterday completed his fourth consecutive Monday morning commute by bike.

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I met up with Wheeler before Sunday Parkways and asked him what he thought about all of Hales’ headline-grabbing actions since he jumped into the race. “I think democracy is a good thing and a healthy thing,” he said carefully, “and I think competition is good and healthy thing. If my presence in the race lights a fire under the mayor, how can that be anything but a good thing?”

With this letter (that the local media has quickly gobbled up), Wheeler wants to re-focus the city’s attention back on him. In his letter he says, “This campaign shouldn’t become a game of political tit for tat.” Instead, he wants to give voters, “an honest comparison” of he Hales’ ideas about 12 major issues with a separate debate for each. Here’s the list of issues:

  • Jobs and the Economy
  • Homelessness
  • Affordable Housing
  • Roads and Infrastructure
  • Education
  • Government Ethics and Transparency
  • Growth and Development
  • Sustainability
  • Police and Criminal Justice Policy
  • Budget and Taxes
  • Transportation and Transit
  • Eastside Services

When I see that list the first thing I think is how they are almost all connected. Seems like it’d be impossible to talk in-depth about one of them without four or five others coming up. For instance, how can you have a debate about “roads and infrastructure” and then a separate debate about “transportation and transit”? And isn’t transit just a form of transportation?

So far we haven’t heard a response from the Hales camp.

Stay tuned. This race is going to be very fun to watch.

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Portland company’s “Pot Tour” by bike includes free joint

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 10:46

Recreational marijuana will be available for retail purchase in Oregon starting this Thursday (October 1st) and Portland-based Pedal Bike Tours is looking to take advantage of the legal marijuana craze with a new weekly offering: A “Pot Tour” by bike.

Like all their tours, your price of admission ($69 in this case) includes a bike, a helmet, an expert guide and a snack. But unlike any tour they’ve done, this one comes with a “joint of local marijuana to take home.” And in case you’re wondering, they will not smoke it on the tour.

The tour’s creator, Pedal Bike Tours guide Sarah Gilbert said she’s excited for the inaugural ride on October 1st. “Even though I’m not a habitual pot smoker myself, I’ve had a great time learning about the history of pot and hemp in the state and worldwide. It’s been fascinating to connect with lots of leaders in the pot community and I’ve become pretty passionate about legalization.”

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Check out the full description of the tour from

Tour Portland like a true Portlandian: through the history, culture and brand-new retail industry of pot. Did you know one of the Willamette Valley’s first commercial crops was hemp? Our city’s fortunes have been tied to the cannabis plant since Oregon Country included all of present-day Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia. Oregon was the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession, and now you can explore some of the finest pot available — by bike.

Our relaxed eleven-mile journey will introduce you to the art of cannabis in Portland, whether you are a pot newbie or a connoisseur of the herb. We’ll start with describing the history of hemp and pot in this country and state, and detail exactly what, where and how purchasing and consuming cannabis products is legal. We’ll take you to some of our favorite dispensaries and head shops; true legends in the cannabis society both locally and nationwide; and let you browse and shop for the finest locally-grown and organic strains, hand-blown art glass and carved wooden pipes. We’ll also make some suggested “pairings”; when Portlandians get the munchies, we look for the best sweet and salty food available. Think sustainable ingredients, locally-grown produce, hand-harvested salt, and yes: vegan options are available.

The tour will be offered once daily at 3:00pm. The inaugural ride will be this Thursday, the first day recreational marijuana will be legally for sale in Oregon.

Pedal Bike Tours has been in business in Portland since 2008. Company founder Todd Roll has since expanded his company to Hawaii, written the excellent guidebook, Pedal Portland, and gained a bit of notoriety for painting “America’s Bicycle Capital” in huge letters on the side of his downtown location (only to see it painted over a few years later).

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TriMet adjusts Orange Line crossing plans after community opposition – UPDATED

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 09:45
How concerned is TriMet about safety of inner southeast rail crossings? At Sunday Parkways they had a police officer standing guard.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite opposition from the city’s official biking and walking advisory committees, TriMet plans to install manual “swing” gates at crossings of the Orange Line in inner southeast Portland.

TriMet is particularly concerned with
“double threats,” the type of collision
that caused serious injuries to a
Beaverton man last month

Back in July, TriMet proposed plans back to install manual gates at two major inner southeast light rail and railroad crossings. The decision stemmed from the agency’s serious safety concerns where new paths cross Orange Line light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That initial proposal called for two sets of swing gates on the north and south sides of SE 8th and 11th.

That plan was strongly opposed by the Bureau of Transportation’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In a letter to TriMet, BAC Chair Ian Stude wrote that his committee didn’t support the gates because of, “the operating difficulties they will impose on members of the traveling public – principally those who are bicycling or walking.”

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Now TriMet is back with a new plan. Here are the details (from a 9/24 letter from TriMet Community Affairs Manager Jennifer Koozer to BAC Chair Ian Stude):

1. By the end of October, install features to help slow people entering the crossings from the adjacent multiuse path:

  • SE 8th Ave: install “bedsteads”/switchbacks on south side of light rail tracks (total of two locations)
  • SE 11th Ave: install manual swing gates on the south side of light rail tracks (total of two locations)
  • West side of SE 12th Ave: install triangular “curb” on south side of light rail tracks that helps position people crossing at a right angle.

2. After installation, continue to monitor crossing behaviors and evaluate performance of crossing treatments.

3. Continue efforts to adjust heavy rail signal timing, in order to maximize unnecessary signal activation. This requires collaboration and approval by UPRR, a process which will take several months.

TriMet also supplied images showing examples of each type of crossing treatment they plan to install:

As you can see, TriMet has decided to not install a swing gate at 8th but they are keeping one at SE 11th.

We’ve reached out to BAC Chair Ian Stude and several members of the Pedestrian Advisory Committee for comment but have yet to hear back. TriMet will hear directly from them when they bring this new plan to the committee meetings in October. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12:30 pm: We heard back from the City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee Co-Chair Rebecca Hamilton. Here’s what she thinks about TriMet’s new plan (emphases mine):

“We appreciate that TriMet considered feedback from the advisory committees and substituted a different treatment for two of the four proposed swing gates. That means we’re halfway to a good solution! But the two remaining swing gates still create an unnecessarily difficult barrier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. No one deserves that disadvantage when there are better ideas on the table.

As life expectancies increase and the Baby Boomer generation ages we’ll be seeing a lot more people using mobility devices to continue leading independent lives. These little decisions matter right now and they’ll matter even more in the future. TriMet has an opportunity to make a smarter choice here to ensure that anyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use their facilities without struggle and the PAC would like to see them make that smarter choice.”

UPDATE, 1:43 pm: And here’s what BAC Chair Ian Stude had to say:

“Our concerns remain the same regarding the swing gates. Those gates, even at that one location, are still problematic. The problem is that they are a barrier that’s constantly present whether there’s a train there or not. Let’s have active gates… Having an active system is more of a vision zero system than a passive gate that’s always there because a passive system looses its efficacy after a while.”

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Portland Timbers clarify: No season tickets required for bike parking

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 14:34
Yes, anyone coming to the game
can use the Timbers bike parking.
(Photo: Providence Park)

A Portland Timbers spokesman straightened out misconceptions about the soccer team’s rules for bike parking in an interview Friday.

Last week, a Timbers fan wrote us to report that he and his wife had biked to a game but been told by Providence Park staff that the big temporary bike racks were for Timbers season ticket holders only. He’d then asked several other attendees, who said they had the same impression.

That’s not the case, Timbers Vice President for Communications Chris Metz said Friday.

“It’s actually open to all fans,” Metz said. “I’m not sure what happened there. There’s about 300 spaces there.”

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That’s good news, especially for Timbers fans in a month when season ticket holders have been hit by a club decision to end its policy of mailing free TriMet daypasses for use on game day.

Timbers President of Business Operations Mike Golub said Friday that the free daypasses had been part of a deal where the Timbers sent some cash to TriMet and also gave the agency a relatively small sponsorship in exchange for the daypasses. Starting with the 2016 season next spring, the Timbers will give season ticket holders the option to buy TriMet daypasses at half price. Golub said that for next season, the Timbers will be offering TriMet a much larger sponsorship worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, but no cash, in exchange for an allowance of daypasses that it will sell at half price to season ticket holders.

Golub said that half-off transit daypasses are still a good and unusual deal — unique in Major League Soccer and rare in other U.S. sports.

“In all our research, no other pro sports team anywhere was providing subsidized public transit passes to their fans,” Golub said.

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Here’s the latest on Broadway Bridge path closures and obstructions

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 14:24
With a flagger present, one person stops to wait for eastbound traffic on the north sidewalk on September 25th.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been about 15 weeks since Multnomah County embarked on a major project to repaint and repair large sections of the the Broadway Bridge. And according to what we’re hearing from some of you, despite adjustments and additional measures being taken by the County, the construction zone is still causing significant safety issues.

Here’s what reader Jeremy Pair tweeted just a few minutes ago:

@BikePortland Do you know the appropriate channel to make the city aware the Broadway Bridge bike route is completely unsafe and absurd?

— Jeremy Pair (@jeremypair) September 28, 2015

Another reader emailed us last week to say he feels the way the bridge paths are being managed is, “Extremely dangerous currently and I am concerned for the safety of myself and others.”
Here are a few more recent photos that document the conditions:

Mayor Hales now knows about the issue after riding across the bridge Monday morning.The scaffolding takes about half of the ten-foot pathway.Bike riders dismount to slow up for someone walking in the same direction.Waiting for “all clear” from flagger.

We’ve been forwarding those and other complaints directly to Multnomah County. To their credit they have responded. However, despite their efforts to improve the situation, the narrowness of the paths and the intermittent closures are still causing anxiety and headaches for many people.

After our reporting last month, the County stepped up even further. In the past few weeks we’ve noticed that when one of the two paths is closed flaggers have been positions at the eastern and western entries to the bridge. The flaggers stop traffic to allow people to travel without people biking and walking in the opposition direction. When the northern path is closed during the morning rush (when it’s needed most by people coming from the north into downtown), I’ve also noticed construction crew members standing on the corner of N Larrabee and Broadway directing people who come buy and hitting the “beg button” to make sure a green walk sign comes on.

Some of you have asked why they have to have so much scaffolding and why they can’t provide more notice before closing the paths. We recently asked County spokesman Mike Pullen for an update and here’s what he said via email in response:

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“The contractor erects metal scaffolding and a containment structure around the areas to be painted to protect the workers, bridge users and the environment. Inside the containment, the contractor blasts off the old lead-based paint and adds three layers of paint, removing rust and replacing steel rivets that have deteriorated.

The scaffolding takes up some room on the two bridge sidewalks because the truss structure adjacent to the sidewalk is being repainted. The railings on the outside of the sidewalk will also be painted, at the end of the project.

We’ve managed to keep at least one sidewalk open at all times. We understand that having two-way bicycle and pedestrian traffic use a single sidewalk (that has pinch points where scaffolding has been installed) is a burden for sidewalk users. So we’ve taken steps to ensure sidewalk users are safe and provide the most access at peak times.”

In addition to the flaggers and increased worker presence, Pullen confirmed that they’ve installed more signs on the main bike routes that approach the bridge that warn people of the conditions and encourage them to use the Steel Bridge as an alternate.

Pullen has also reiterated to the contractor that the sidewalks must remain open in the peak commute direction. That is, the north sidewalk should always be open in the morning and the south sidewalk should be open in the evening (“unless there’s an emergency”).

Pullen says they realize the uncertainties around the closures are frustrating but “The nature of the work makes it hard to predict when and how long a sidewalk will be closed.”

We expect to be dealing with this for several more months. The project isn’t scheduled for completion until March 2016. Learn more at the County’s website.

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Portland wins bid to host 2016 National Open Streets Summit

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 12:42
Hot off the presses!
(Photo by Linda Ginenthal)

Next August the open streets movement will come to Portland.

Over the weekend we heard the news that Portland has been granted the right to host the 2016 National Open Streets Summit. Bureau of Transportation staffer Linda Ginenthal attended the 2015 event in Atlanta, Georgia over the weekend and shared the news with us yesterday after she flew back to oversee Sunday Parkways.

2016 will be third annual Open Streets Summit. The event is organized by the non-profit Open Streets Project in partnership with DC-based advocacy group the Alliance for Biking and Walking. The goal of the event is to bring together national and international leaders working to implement events like Portland’s Sunday Parkways, where streets are “opened” to people and closed to auto use. The Atlanta event over the weekend drew 125 leaders in the movement. The first summit was held in Los Angeles in 2014.

In the past 5-10 years, the number of open streets events in North America has skyrocketed. Portland got on the bandwagon in 2008 and today there are over 90 similar events across the continent.

Ginenthal said the 2016 Summit in Portland will take place in early August. Attendees will get the chance to attend both Bridge Pedal and the August Sunday Parkways event, as well as a host of professional development workshops and plenary speeches by notables in the field.

The last time Portland played host to an event like this was in 2008 when we were chosen to host the Towards Carfree Cities conference.

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Sunday Parkways in June 2011.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

In some ways that event helped pave the way for Sunday Parkways in Portland. It was most memorable for the rousing speech given by Gil Peñalosa, former commissioner of Parks, Sport, and Recreation for the city of Bogotá, Colombia and current executive director of 8-80 Cities. Peńalosa gave Portland a reality check on its complacency and told us, “The reality is that Portland is far from being great, you have to realize that.”

Ginenthal was at that event and it’s no mystery that Bogotá’s famous Ciclovía events inspired her and her PBOT colleagues to start Sunday Parkways.

It was Gil’s brother, former Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa who told a Portland crowd nearly nine years ago that it all comes down to “cars versus people.”

“The essence of the conflict today, really, is cars versus people,” he said during an event at the Bagdad Theater on SE Hawthorne. “We can have a city that is very friendly to cars, or a city that is very friendly to people. We cannot have both.”

Is Portland ready to follow the lead of other great cities like Oslo and Paris who are starting to wrestle their downtowns away from automobiles and back to people? Will 2016 finally be the year that Portland decides to take Sunday Parkways to the next level and route the event on major streets and thoroughfares?

With Portland once again looking to regain our momentum around biking and walking after years of silence from City Hall and the period of stagnation that followed, this summit next year could be coming at a perfect time. We’ll also be in the heat of a mayoral race where it appears (so far at least) as if both candidates are trying to outdo each other when it comes to progressive transportation policies.

— Stay tuned for more details on the 2016 National Open Streets Summit.

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Mayor Hales biked to work this morning, for the fourth Monday in a row

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 10:32
Mayor Hales on the Broadway Bridge this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is getting the hang of this biking thing. And I think he likes it.

For the fourth time in as many weeks, the mayor met constituents for coffee and conversation before setting of on his Trek hybrid for City Hall. This time the starting location was Posies Cafe in the north Portland neighborhood of Kenton.

Pre-ride conversations.

By now the routine has become familiar. He arrives a half-hour early, orders a cup of coffee, takes out his notebook and chats with whoever shows up. It’s a wonderfully simple idea that the mayor seems to genuinely enjoy.

When I showed up this morning at around 7:50 he was seated in the center of a few tables with about 7-8 people around him (a few of the mayor’s staff and Commissioner Steve Novick’s transportation policy guy Timur Ender were also there). The conversation was far from chit-chatty; it was actually quite serious given that it was before 8:00 am on a Monday. I think people are starting to realize what a wonderful opportunity it is to sit across a table from the most powerful person in Portland and ask him anything you want.

And it’s worth noting that these conversations are not all about bikes. In fact, bikes never even came up at the cafe this morning. The people around the table — all of whom were engaged activists and very on-point with their facts and issues — wanted to talk about homelessness (“We want no sweeps and more space”), housing affordability (“Rents are out of control, my friends are being pushed out”), the role of developers (“Everything that Eli Spevak [of Orange Splot Development] has asked for we should do right away”), police conduct around the arrest last month of Don’t Shoot PDX leader Teressa Raiford (“There were plenty of white people blocking traffic, her charges should be dropped”), and so on.

Hales listened, took notes, and responded to people’s questions and concerns with confidence and candor. When it was time to roll (it was 8:15 am and he had a 9:00 am meeting downtown to get to you), we walked out to the bike parking corral out front. I was hoping we’d go south on Greeley and Interstate to connect to the Broadway Bridge. Both of those streets have major safety issues that need to be addressed and having the mayor experience them first-hand would be extremely helpful.

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Unfortunately however, one of Hales’ staffers felt Greeley would be too unsafe. “That’s the whole point!” I tried to object. And Hales too, to his credit, lightly supported the notion of riding on Greeley (“I want to see what’s broken,” I believe is what he said); but he kindly deferred to his staffer.

The route we ended up doing took us south on Denver, then east on Rosa Parks to Vancouver. We rode south on Vancouver and connected to the Broadway Bridge via Flint and Broadway. Once downtown, we took the lane prior to Burnside to get onto SW 5th (transit mall) which goes directly to City Hall.

Here’s how it looked from the mayor’s perspective…

Heading west on N Rosa Parks Way crossing Interstate Avenue.Rosa Parks Way bike lane going over I-5.Turning right from Rosa Parks Way onto Vancouver.As people driving on Vancouver waited in bumper-to-bumper traffic for many blocks, I reminded the mayor that when you’re on a bike, you are never stuck in traffic.He made sure to put a foot down (which isn’t required by law) at the infamous Flint Avenue stop sign (site of many past police enforcement actions a.k.a. “stings”).Heading toward the bridge on Broadway.Entering chaos zone.Narrow passage due to project scaffolding.Protected by City Hall staffers on all sides while taking the lane on West Burnside.

As the only non-staff person on most of the ride, I took the opportunity to chat with the mayor about a number of things. Any themes emerging from these past few weeks seeing the streets from a bike seat? I asked. “The little gaps and gripes people have,” he said. (Keep in mind everyone, that he’s trying to bike safely while I’m asking him questions so he’s understandably pre-occupied.)

I also asked if he noticed anything different about the people he sees on Sunday Parkways compared to the ones he’s been seeing on these bike commutes. “More families and kids,” he responded. “Why?” I followed-up. “They don’t feel safe,” he said. “They wanted protected places to ride.”

Mayor Hales then shared a common excuse we often hear from politicians and city staffers about why we can’t easily build protected bikeways downtown: They say our old city has streets are too narrow and blocks that are too short. My response was that perhaps it’s time to consider reducing the redundant access to roads we have when we’re driving. I put in my plug for making Director Park into a world-class plaza by prohibiting auto access on two sides (9th and Park). I couldn’t tell if he supported that idea or not, but he did mention an upcoming renovation of the Guild Theater, so perhaps that’s an opportunity to re-think auto access at that location.

The mayor then mentioned how pleased he’s been with the approach taken by Better Block PDX to demonstrate how we could design more protected spaces for riding and walking. If he liked those events, I asked, and they’re considered a success, why haven’t we gone back and implemented them for real? He said the new bike lane coming to SW 3rd is an example of making something permanent (that project is supposed to be striped sometime this week). I asked why we can’t implement the “Better Naito” project and was happy to hear him say, “That’s the next thing on our list.”

While I was disappointed he didn’t experience the hair-raising speeds people drive next to the bike lane on Greeley, the dicey merge onto the I-5 on-ramp, or the Larrabee squeeze on North Interstate, the mayor did subject himself to the construction zone conditions currently plaguing the Broadway Bridge. Scaffolding for a major re-painting project has narrowed the bridge path to only four feet or so and we’ve gotten a lot of complaints from riders who think it’s less safe than it should be. Hales managed it without incident and thanked the work crew flaggers as we went by.

As we rolled down Broadway into Portland I tried to impressed upon the mayor that Broadway could — and should! — be our city’s marquee bikeway. It bisects the central city and already handles some of the highest volumes of bicycle ridership anywhere. I mentioned how when former Mayor Sam Adams built our first protected bikeway up near Portland State University way back in 2008, the hope and intention was that it would be extended to Burnside, then to the Broadway Bridge, and ultimately into northeast neighborhoods (a project outlined in the BTA’s Blueprint plan).

I can’t resist peppering the mayor with my own ideas and hopes for the future; and I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to do it while we’re both biking through the city on our way to work.

I feel like this is a different Charlie Hales than we had those first two years. Actually, it’s the same Charlie, just in a different political context. Regardless, he’s no longer afraid to put bicycling front and center when it makes sense to do so. And that’s a huge deal — not just for cycling — but for the future of our city.

I sincerely hope he keeps this up.

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