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Updated: 8 hours 25 min ago

San Diego Bike Coalition board member in critical condition after rear-end collision

Sat, 09/20/2014 - 14:46
Kerry Kunsman.
(Photo: San Diego Bike Coalition)

Kerry Kunsman, a 67-year old bicycle safety instructor and board member of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is in critical condition after being hit from behind by a pickup driver while riding near Tillamook yesterday.

According to the Oregon State Police, Kunsman, a resident of San Diego California, was riding westbound on Highway 131 between Tillamook and Netarts Bay (map) when he was struck from behind by 74-year old Oceanside (Oregon) resident Frank Bohannon, who was driving a Ford F350 pickup.

The collision occurred at milepost five in the apex of a right-hand curve. As you can see in the photos below, Netarts Hwy has two lanes in this location and no paved shoulder. The posted speed limit is 55 mph. The investigation into the collision is ongoing and no enforcement decision has been made. Kunsman is suffering from a brain injury and is being treated at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

This is the latest in an alarming spate of rear-end collisions involving bicycle riders on rural Oregon highways in the past month.

The collision occurred in this corner, heading westbound on Netarts Hwy. Oregon State Police photo of the scene.

In their official statement about the collision, OSP shared this warning:

OSP & ODOT urge all drivers to be watchful for vulnerable highway users such as bicyclists and pedestrians on all roads. Useful safety tips and information is available on ODOT’s Bicycle Safety website.

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Kerry Kunsman is a well-known advocate for bicycling in San Diego. He’s Chair of the Education Committee on the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors and he’s a League of American Bicyclists League Cycling Instructor (LCI). According to a bio on the SDCBC website, Kunsman was Instructor of the Year in 2006.

SDCBC has posted the following message about the collision on their Facebook page:

Please put your prayers towards Portland Oregon, Kerry Kunsman was hit by a truck yesterday on his trip from Border to Border. He is in critical condition with a severe brain injury. His wife and daughter just got up there. Kerry is a long time Bike Coalition pillar and LCI instructor- educating San Diego County bicyclists and motorists. Again… please keep him in your prayers.

This section of highway is a well-known part of the Oregon Coast Bike Route and it’s on the map of the Oregon Coast published by the Adventure Cycling Association. I rode this stretch of highway last September while participating in the Amgen People’s Coast Classic and it was part of the route again this year.

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Comment of the Week: The missed opportunity of Tilikum Crossing

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 13:21
Problems with the west-side landing of Tilikum Crossing.
(Image: Ted Buehler)

The new transit/bike/walk bridge opening across the Willamette next year has become one of Portland’s go-to examples of how we continue to do great things. And it’s certainly true that it’s a massive investment in active transportation.

But as reader Ted Buehler argued in a series of comments this week below our story about the apparent decline of biking among PSU students, Tilikum Crossing was so close to being so much better.

The Tilikum Bridge isn’t going to help all that much, because Tilikum to PSU will still be crap. Whereas MAX has a long flyover from the west end of the Tilikum Bridge to SW 4th and Lincoln.

If they had funded a mixed use path on the MAX bridge, you’d be able to go straight from OMSI to here: http://goo.gl/maps/LLiVp without playing fender tag with cars on surface streets.

As it is, the day the bridge opens, bicyclists will need to ride on a half mile of congested bikeways, streetcar track interactions, traffic signals, and cars infringing in the bike lane because drivers tend to keep their wheels off the rails.

Moody and Sheridan. A long wait at a traffic signal, followed by a double checkmate hazard — if you swing wide enough not to have your wheel eaten by the streetcar tracks, your wheel will slide out on the storm sewer grate.

Moody and SW River Pkwy. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to make a legal left turn here. I guess you just play fender tag, and hoe you don’t get rear-ended by inattentive drivers going straight.

SW River Pkwy and Harbor Drive. Where you have the pleasure of waiting at an extremely long traffic light for our favorite 1950s expressway, Harbor Drive. That overhead bridge is where MAX goes — the direct link from Tilikum to PSU. That’s where bikes would be riding if they hadn’t put bike infrastructure on a starvation budget.

SW Harrison, on the hill. Where minivans encroach on the bike lane on a steep hill (where bicyclists require the most space because they wobble more). Again, that’s our friends the First Class Citizens on MAX overhead.

SW Harrison at Naito. Where the bike lane ends.

SW Harrison and 4th. Where you need to navigate a double set of streetcar tracks at a noncompliant, dangerous shallow angle.

My point? PSU needs direct bicycle access from the east side. The Tilikum Bridge won’t connect bicyclists from SW Moody to PSU. Bicyclists will need to ride through 6 dangerous, slow, or unpleasant intersections.

If, however, a bikeway had been included in a half-mile section of the Orange Line right of way, the connection would be smooth as glass.

Update 3:30 pm: In the comments below, reader Esther says a path that has yet to open will help riders skirt some, though not all, of these problems.

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A follow-up comment from Buehler (whose academic research, before he moved to Portland, focused on the factors that caused the plateau and decline of biking in Davis, California):

I was down at the Tilikum west bridgehead tonight. 11:00 pm. 2 bicyclists went up the MAX viaduct to get to PSU. Classic.

I was going to take my riding mates on the Hellhole of a route from the Tilikum to PSU, via Moody, SW River Pkwy & SW Harrison. Instead, Rev Phil looked up the MAX/bus ramp and said “why don’t we just take this.”

So I rode the MAX viaduct myself, with 3 friends. It was sweet. So direct, so clean, sailed above Harrison and Harbor Drive, under I-5, it dumped us out onto a fabulous, brand-spankin new set of bike lanes on SW Lincoln at Naito. Infinitely better than the nonexistent westbound bike lane at SW Harrison and Naito.

I suspect that after the Tilikum opens that there will be a surge of bicyclists taking the viaduct downhill to get from PSU to SE Portland. They’ll have to put up signs with fines for any non First Class Transportation Mode folks from using the bridge. And enforce it. Because it’s a Grade A Platinum Route from PSU to SE Portland. But not open to bikes.

I doubt they’ll get the funding to add a multiuse path to the viaduct anytime in the next 40 years. So biking from SE to PSU will still suck rocks.

So close, but so far.

#bikeinfrastructurestarvation

And finally:

I was leading a ride of 4 people, and I wanted to ride the Tilikum => PSU Bike Route myself, just to demonstrate for myself that it really was a Hellhole of a route (I’ve ridden parts of it (some with BikePortland writer Michael Andersen), but not all of it. And after writing a treatise about it on BikePortland I figured I ought to go out and make sure it was every bit as bad as I said it was). Riding at 11:00 PM, because that’s when I was there, and because you can stand around and inspect the infrastructure at that hour without getting mowed down by cars.

So I was there at the west bridgehead, with Rev Phil and two lesser known riders, explaining to them that “This” waving my hand up the smooth concrete ramp with MAX tracks “is the MAX route from here to PSU.” And “That” (waving my hands up Moody) is the Hellhole of a bike route, which we’ll ride.”

And, along came a dude on a bike. Looked like a stereotypical PSU student. Coming up from South Waterfront on the Moody Cycletrack. And, what did he do? He hooked a left on the MAX viaduct and busted on up to PSU that way. Just like he’d been doing it every day of his life.

Then another bicyclist came along and asked us if that was the way to PSU, and we said “yup, that’s the way.” Up the viaduct he went.

And at that point Rev Phil made the rather astute observation that instead of just describing how nice of a ride the viaduct would be, that we could just field-check it ourselves. And we did.

And it was sweet.

Sorry to go a little off topic, but these are the issues that PSU, PBOT and bicycle advocates will need to address if they want to increase student bike mode share to campus. Can you ride a bike there easily, quickly and safely? If there’s an opportunity to do it, and it’s not done to cut a construction budget to the bone, then you’re failing in your objectives and failing to your constituents.

I recommend that ya’all get out there and try riding the MAX viaduct from Tilikum West to PSU sometime in the next couple months. Just to experience what excellent bicycle infrastructure could be. So you know what to ask for in all future public meetings.

Do it before they take down the construction fences and put up a sign that says “Max fine $1399 for trespassing on this bridge.”

Note to our friends at TriMet: Buehler’s recommendation, not ours.

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A ride downtown and biking’s social impact

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:30
Hazel Gross and her company vehicle chatting with a customer on SW 2nd Ave.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday I took a short ride downtown and it was the perfect illustration of something I’ve known for many years: cycling in a city where a (relatively) significant amount of people ride bikes can* be a very social form of transportation.

I realize this isn’t a revolutionary concept: The anonymous and isolating nature of driving (and the opposite characteristic of cycling) is something urban planners have understood for a long time. And it’s not new to me (or you, I assume) either. In fact, running into people I know, and having quick conversations while moving through the city on my bike is something that happens all the time.

On that short ride yesterday — from our office on SW 4th (between Stark and Oak) to observe and photograph some new bike lanes on SW Salmon near Naito Parkway — I ran into three different people I knew. With each person, I was able to easily pull over for a quick chat. It was nice.

I’m not an urban planner; but I understand enough about cities to know that face-to-face interactions are one of the key ingredients to making them great. When people stop on the sidewalk or in the margins of streets and talk to each other, it creates sort of a temporary public space that was previously used only as a pass-through corridor.

When we think about the benefits of bicycling, we usually think of health, the environment, economics, and so on. But we shouldn’t forget its important social impacts.

So, who’d I meet?

Hazel Gross was making a delivery on her cargo bike.

Hazel works with Portland Design Works, a nationally distributed bike part designer based in north Portland. She was out and about making deliveries to local bike shops with the company vehicle: a Portland-made Metrofiets cargo bike. In addition to bringing orders to PDW customers, Hazel was also on a special mission to Stumptown Coffee. “We’re trading [PDW products] with them for coffee,” she told me, “They’re using it as prizes for employees doing the Bike Commute Challenge.”

On the next block, David Aulwes rolled up next to me.

The first thing I noticed about David was the cool visor on his helmet. Is that a new option from Nutcase? I asked. “No, this is custom-made,” David replied proudly. On closer inspection (at a red light) I noticed the visor was made out of copper. Very nice. David, who I used to know from his work on the City’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, now works at TriMet as a Senior Transit Corridor Designer. Michael and I will probably be in touch with him for insights into future stories on topics like Metro’s SW Corridor and Powell-Division Transit Corridor plans.

After parting ways with David, on the next block I noticed Simon Kirsch in the crosswalk.

Simon is a business specialist at the downtown Apple Store (and a loyal BikePortlander, thanks Simon!). I met him a few weeks ago after he asked me to be a part of an event at the store. Yesterday I caught him on his lunch break and we chatted for a few minutes about iPhone pricing plans and how crazy the store would be when the new iPhones go on sale (hopefully, he’s survived the onslaught).

I’m thinking of making weekly rides around downtown a regular thing. I’ll bring along my camera and capture what — and who — I come across. And by the way, thanks for reading and commenting on all our stories this week. It’s been busy around here and we appreciate your time and attention.

*I say cycling can be very social, because there’s a wide range of biking styles. Some people ride hunched over, focused, and fast; while others ride more slowly and upright. I happen to ride a completely upright bike. I also ride slowly and I’m always scanning around with my eyes — not just to stay safe, but to see things (like people and other reasons to stop).

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For one weekend, Old Town will test a huge plaza, bike lanes and cafes along 3rd Avenue

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:07
Dixie Tavern owner Dan Lenzen, right, with Boris Kaganovich of Better Block PDX.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Frustrated by city officials’ estimates that it’d take several years to even consider a major redesign of 3rd Avenue through Old Town, a group of neighborhood businesses is teaming up with a team of livable streets advocates to create their own three-day demo of what a better street could look like — two weeks from today.

Inspired in part by the “pop-up” street projects that have helped reshape New York City in the last five years, organizers say Old Town’s three-block project will be one of the country’s largest such projects ever.

It’ll use wooden planters in the street to create more than a thousand square feet of new pedestrianized space between NW Davis an SW Ash, a protected bike lane, a series of new sidewalk cafes, a marked crosswalk and a huge new public plaza in front of Voodoo Doughnut adjoining Old Town’s thriving Ankeny Alley.

The Portland Business Alliance and the city’s fire, police and transportation bureaus have all signed off on the plan, which will run from 7 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 until Sunday, Oct. 5.

“We’re starting to build planters this weekend,” said Boris Kaganovich, an organizer of the project for the group Better Block PDX, the volunteer group that has partnered with the Old Town Hospitality Association and Old Town Community Association to do the project. “I’ve built the first two prototypes. Now we’ve just got to build 150 more.”

A Better Block rendering and promotional flyer. (Click for a PDF.)

It’s by far the biggest undertaking to date by Better Block, the all-volunteer nonprofit group that last year created a spectacular PARK(ing) Day on Southwest Stark and a temporary “Popcorn Plaza” this spring on Southeast Clinton Street.

Dan Lenzen, owner of the Dixie Tavern and a leader in the hospitality association, said in an interview Thursday that the demo is going to be “awesome.”

“It seems to be a pivotal opportunity for many people — businesses, residents, tourists and visitors — to look to see what it could look like with this change, how it might be able to positively affect the neighborhood on a broader scale,” Lenzen said. “It could be the catalyst for us to look at 3rd and 2nd and 4th street management changes.”

Here’s what 3rd Avenue looked like yesterday at 4:45 p.m.:

Standing at 3rd and Couch Thursday with Lenzen and Dixie Tavern manager Jeff Hebert, Kaganovich said the weekend demo would be a way to explain the benefits of changing 3rd Avenue that’d be more memorable and intuitive than Photoshop visualizations.

“We’re going to say, here are real people sitting down enjoying it,” Kaganovich said. Hebert nodded approvingly.

“I like it,” he said.

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Better Block recruited Nick Falbo of Alta Planning + Design and Adrienne Leverette and Yelena Prusakova of Fat Pencil Studio for pro bono planning support. Lenzen and Kaganovich are also recruiting businesses along 3rd to move tables and chairs into the street, where Kaganovich said businesses will be allowed to offer food service even though non-customers will also be allowed to sit there during the event.

“It’s going to be privately owned furniture, but public seating,” he said.

A detailed draft site plan by Better Block. (Click for a PDF.)

Lenzen said he’ll be on site during the demo to organize any necessary changes.

“It’s flexible, that’s the beauty of this thing,” Lenzen said. “If it’s not working one way, let’s try another way. If we don’t have enough tables out one day, let’s get some more out the next day.”

Kaganovich agreed.

“Because it’s temporary, no one has any objections.”
— Boris Kaganovich, Better Block PDX

“Because it’s temporary, no one has any objections,” he said. “We have a chance to get a bunch of stuff wrong and we can fix it in another round.”

Kaganovich, whose own day job is as a communications engineer for TriMet, credited the city for being responsive and open to the idea once he and Better Block’s other organizers figured out which city employees they needed to talk to.

“What’s amazing about Portland is that more than anywhere in the U.S. right now, I think, you can basically pick up a phone and talk to any city staffer,” he said.

That’s turned out to be great news for the Old Town business group.

“They’ve been trying to get the city to do this for a really long time,” Kaganovich said. “And we said, hey, we can do this in a month and change. And everyone’s eyes got really wide. … We couldn’t say no, given that all the stars seemed to line up.”

Better Block’s core team is meeting today to discuss plans for recruiting volunteers and soliciting enough donations for the project, whose cost they estimate at $5,000 to $6,000. If you’d like to help make this project happen, you can donate online to support the effort or email Kaganovich, kaga0008@gmail.com, for details on how to volunteer.

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Time to step up for our local velodrome

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 10:06
The apron (darker area on the right) of Alpenrose Velodrome is being replaced and we need to help fund the project.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday, while the cycling world was captivated and inspired by Jens Voigt’s spectacular hour record ride, a call for help went out for our humble local velodrome at Alpenrose Dairy.

If Voigt ever visited Portland, he might make an appearance at Alpenrose, a track that has hosted racing events since 1962 and that we are lucky to have thanks to the generosity of the Alpenrose Dairy company whose headquarters are located on the site.

While Alpenrose has served our community well for over 40 years, it requires ongoing maintenance to keep its surfaces smooth, safe, and fun.

For years, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association has organized volunteer track clean-up days out at Alpenrose. Those usually involve minor upkeep like patching cracks, sweeping up, and re-painting lane lines. But in the past two years, major repairs have been needed.

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As we reported in 2012, OBRA completed a major project to install new straightaways. Now Mike Murray, who heads up OBRA’s track racing program, is working to replace the apron, an area (also known as the infield) where riders warm up and cool down and sometimes seek refuge if they get bumped off their line during races.

Mike Murray working on the track in 2006.

To make the project pencil out financially, Murray is appealing to the community to help offset repair costs. Alpenrose Dairy is picking up a large portion of the tab, OBRA funds are also filling in, but Murray says velodrome riders and fans are also expected to step up.

“Alpenrose has been very generous in supporting OBRA operations and Oregon bike racing in general,” Murray wrote, in an appeal to OBRA’s 5,000 members, “Now is the time to pay them back. Any amount helps.”

Keep in mind that the Alpenrose Velodrome is much more than just a track venue. It also hosts the Cross Crusade and other events that have an incalculable impact on local bike culture (if you haven’t already, read Rebecca Hamilton’s experience of her first cross race at Alpenrose).

Murray has been working hard on the apron project and it’s on schedule to make a big debut at the upcoming Crusade opener on October 11th. When you ride over it, wouldn’t it feel great to know your donation helped maintain it?

Let’s show the folks at Alpenrose Dairy how much we appreciate this facility. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online via the OBRA website. You can also mail a check to: OBRA/Portland Velodrome Committee, 4318 SE 8th Ct., Gresham, OR 97080.

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Jobs of the Week

Fri, 09/19/2014 - 07:56

We’ve got some interesting opportunities for all you job-seekers. Photographer and worldwide bike tour guide positions do not come up very often. Learn more via the links below…


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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. If you’d like more information about the BikePortland Job Listings, contact us, or visit the Job Listings page.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Springwater, salmon, carfree Crater Lake, and more

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 15:14
Learn about the natural areas that border the Springwater Trail on Sunday’s Johnson Creek Days ride.
(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland)

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

Last night I rode through a patch of fallen leaves. And I’m sure you felt that wet stuff falling from the sky this morning… What’s going on? Yes, the season is changing; but your choices for having fun on bikes is as strong as ever.

From educational forays on our region’s best bicycle routes to a simple, yet powerful, way to entice you to try riding into work the first time, this weekend has a lot to offer.

Friday, September 19th

Roseway Bike Train (for adults!) – 8:00 am at Annie’s Donuts (NE 72nd and Fremont)
Bike trains are not just for schoolkids. Join a PBOT staffer for this bike train from northeast into downtown. Strength in numbers! More info here.

Friday Night Skills Clinic at The Lumberyard – 6:30 pm at the Lumberyard (2700 NE 82nd Ave)
If you’ve already gotten comfortable riding at The Lumberyard, Portland’s awesome indoor bike playland, now it’s time to step up your skills. They’re offering a clinic ($34.95 for two hours, discount on rental bike) with expert help on the basics of “pumping and jumping, cornering, and drops.” Impress your friends, build your confidence, and have a great time. More info here.

Saturday, September 20th

Carfree Day at Crater Lake National Park
This is it! Your rare chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful bike rides in the world without pesky RVs, cars, and the toxic exhaust, noise, and dangers they add to the equation. The carfree route for this event will begin at the North Junction headquarters. All regular parking and entry fees apply. Grab some friends and get down there for the experience of a lifetime. If you can’t make it this weekend, there’s another carfree day next Saturday (9/27). More info here.

Blue Mountain Century – Heppner (all weekend)
The Heppner Chamber of Commerce wants you to experience the amazing Blue Mountain Scenic Bikeway. This two-day event is limited to 50 people and includes a shuttle and some support. More info here.

Fall Salmon and Historic Highway Tour – 9:00 am in Corbett
The East Multnomah County Bicycle Tourism Initiative is hosting this 50-mile ride along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Along the way you’ll hear stories about the legendary road from ODOT’s Kristen Stallman, key staffer behind the effort to complete the highway as a bicycling route between Troutdale and The Dalles. As a bonus, you’ll also learn about salmon thanks to experts from State Parks, the Army Corps of Engineers and Metro. More info here.

Slow Poke Ride – 9:30 am at Wilshire Park (NE 36th and Skidmore)
Join the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club for this 27-mile ride that will explore northeast neighborhoods and loop up to a lunch stop on Marine Drive. Enjoy a relaxed pace of about 10-12 mph average. More info here.

Autumn Adventure Ride – 10:00 am at Peninsula Park (700 N Rosa Parks Way)
Join PBOT bike promoter Timo Forsberg for a park-filled jaunt from Peninsula Park up to St. Johns. He’ll take you through several cool parks — and who knows what other adventures — along the way. Guaranteed to be a fun time and an excellent chance to learn the good bike routes in north Portland if you’re new to the area. More info here.

Sunday, September 21st

Bike Milwaukie Mural Ride – 9:30 am at Milwaukie City Hall (10722 SE Main Street)
The City of Milwaukie recently adopted a new set of rules for public murals. To celebrate, and get some inspiration, the folks from Bike Milwaukie will lead a ride into Portland to gaze upon our excellent murals. More info here (FB).

People’s Climate Ride – 12:00 pm at Holladay Park (NE 11th and Holladay)
The PDX Bike Swarm will lead a bicycle presence at the People’s Climate March, a nation-wide event aimed at raising awareness of the need to lower carbon emissions. More info here (FB).

Johnson Creek Days Cycling Springwater Trail – 9:00 am at Linneman Station (3804 West Powell Loop in Gresham)
This 7-mile ride is part of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council’s annual Johnson Creek Days event. They’ve teamed up with the Gresham Bicycle Tourism Initiative for an informative ride along the Springwater Trail. Hear from naturalists and urban wildlife experts at stops along the route as you pedal to historic downtown Gresham. More info here.

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

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Next door to Forest Park, North Tualatin Mtns hold opportunity for off-road bike access

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 10:45
1,300 acres just north of Forest Park.

Just north of Forest Park in northwest Portland lies 1,300 undeveloped acres spread across four separate properties. The land, which was historically a logging area and can be currently accessed from either Skyline or McNamee roads, is owned by Metro and is known as the North Tualatin Mountains natural area.

Metro is embarking on a planning process to figure out what to do on the land and there’s a great opportunity to include bicycle access in the equation. Advocates have been fighting for years to improve bike access in Forest Park but have made frustratingly slow progress.

The Tualatin Mountains natural area offers a fresh start and a new political context since it’s under Metro jurisdiction and not managed by the City of Portland (the current Parks Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, has all but shelved the Forest Park debate calling for “a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation… prior to embarking on individual projects.”).

“We’re asking two questions: What’s important to people about these properties and what would you like to do here?”
— Dave Elkin, Metro senior park planner

The planning process for the North Tualatin Mountains is just getting underway. Dave Elkin, senior park planner at Metro, told us during an interview yesterday that an advisory committee set up to determine its future has met only once (in July).

“We’re just beginning our comprehensive planning process and we’re asking two questions: What’s important to people about these properties and what would you like to do here?”

Elkin said it’s obvious to him there’s potential for excellent connections to the existing Wildwood Trail in Forest Park. “There are also opportunities for mountain biking, bird watching… The intent for us is to open up the conversation and listen to the public and see what the consensus is.”

Metro images of North Tualatin Mountains natural area. <\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->

The Northwest Trail Alliance, a local non-profit that works to help maintain trails and improve off-road cycling access, has already had discussions with Metro about this project and their advocacy director, Jon Pheanis, sits on the advisory committee. (We’ve contacted the NWTA for comment and will update this story when we hear back.)

In the end, Elkin says the conversation around how this land is developed will be familiar to bike advocates. “How do we balance natural resource protection with these recreational opportunities, and where can both intersect and create a dynamic space.”

Tonight’s meeting (6:00 pm at Skyline Grange Hall – 11275 NW Skyline Blvd) is the first of four planned open houses. Metro hopes to have a comprehensive plan completed by Spring 2015.

Learn more about this project on Metro’s website. Details on tonight’s meeting can be found on Facebook.

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Oregon House candidate refers to bike lanes as “fringe things”

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 09:26
Kathy Goss
(Photo: Kathy Goss for Oregon/Facebook)

Should the Oregon Department of Transportation stop paying its staff to work on bike lanes and trails in order to save money? That’s what Kathy Goss, a candidate running for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives, thinks.

During a debate with her challenger Paul Evans (Democrat) last week, Goss, a Republican, expressed that idea during a discussion about how ODOT might trim its human resources budget. Her comments were reported by the Salem-based Statesman Journal. Here’s an excerpt from their article published September 5th:

When asked whether they would support using outsourcing and other means to reduce the number of employees at the Department of Transportation, Goss said she would go a step farther.

“I would reduce the amount of bicycle lanes and the amount of trails we are taking care of,” Goss said. “The state of Oregon is still in a recession. We don’t need the fringe things right now, and we don’t need the public employees to do them.”

Referring to infrastructure used for bicycling as “fringe” might seem like a, well, fringe idea to many of you, but in House District 20, where Goss and Evans are hoping to rally support, it might actually play well. The district covers the rural cities of Monmouth (Oregon’s last “dry” town where alchohol sales were prohibited up until 2002) and Independence west of Salem. It’s what political watchers call a “swing district” and it “definitely leans Republican” a source told us.

HD-20′s outgoing representative, Republican Vicki Berger, won 63% of the vote in 2012. In that same year, Barack Obama won just 50.6% of the vote (to Romney’s 46.2%). The Oregonian calls the Evans-Goss race a tossup.

Just a few days after this debate with Evans, Goss backed out of all future debates, telling the Statesman Journal that she felt Evans’ supporters in the audience were “loud and disrespectful” and that Evans himself was “condescending.”

We’ve contacted Goss and her campaign for comment but we haven’t heard back.

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BTA staff heads to the bridges to boost ‘Bike Commute Challenge’

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 08:38
BTA staffers Amanda Lee Harrison (yellow cap) and Sarah Newsum offering cookies and encouragement to bike commuters in the rain this morning on the Broadway Bridge.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re more than half way through the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commute Challenge and the organization is pulling out all the stops to encourage riders to sign up and log their trips.

The Challenge is a friendly competition where workplaces sign up and compete against each other to see who can log the most trips. So far this year over 9,000 riders from 1,126 teams are taking part. As of this morning they’ve logged a total 623,179 miles.

To get even more people involved, BTA Communications Assistant Sarah Newsum and Bike Commute Challenge Program Assistant Amanda Lee Harrison were out on the Broadway Bridge this morning (despite the light rain) holding signs and passing out cookies and bike bells. As dozens of riders backed up at the bike signal on the west end of the bridge at the Lovejoy ramp, Newsum and Lee Harrison offered their gifts while reminding/encouraging everyone to log into the Challenge website.

Lee Harrison trudged through bike traffic to get the point across.

The Bike Commute Challenge has become a very successful program for the BTA. It not only encourages more people to ride bikes more often, but it also introduces the organization to new potential corporate and individual supporters. To help make this the largest event ever, Newsum says they plan to continue the “Meet the BTA staff on the bridges” promotion next week.

Is your workplace taking part in this competition? We’ve noticed lots of full bike racks downtown and there’s a noticeable uptick in bike traffic around the central city.

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Census shows big leaps for biking in a few cities, but Portland inches backward

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 03:48
Source: Census American Community Survey. Chart by BikePortland.

Is America’s latest bike boom coming to an end? Or is it just moving to different cities?

2013 Census estimates released Thursday show the big cities that led the bike spike of the 2000s — Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and, most of all, Portland — all failing to make meaningful changes to their commuting patterns for three years or more.

Meanwhile, the same figures show a new set of cities rising fast — first among them Washington DC.

The nation’s capital seems to have shot past Minneapolis, Seattle and San Francisco in 2013 to achieve the second-highest bike commuting rate among major U.S. cities: 4.5 percent.

Portland’s bike commuting rate ticked down to an estimated 5.9 percent in 2013, from 6.1 percent in 2012 and 6.3 percent in 2011. Statistically speaking, it’s been mostly unchanged since 2008. Though Portland has added 10,000 net jobs since 2011, the Census surveys estimated that it’s actually lost about 600 daily bike commuters.

Instead, Portland residents’ additional commutes since 2011 seem to have shifted toward three line items in the Census: carpooling, walking and “other,” which includes motorcycles, skateboards and taxis.

Bike share credited for DC growth

As we’ve written before, bike-commuting rates from the Census aren’t a very good way to compare cities to each other, because they depend so much on where city borders happen to fall. But looked at over time, they’re pretty good at identifying which cities are improving their transportation systems and which aren’t.

“The plateau of the perennial leaders is certainly evident,” said Darren Flusche, policy director for the League of American Bicyclists, in an interview.

“Bike share flipped the script and showed that normal people in normal clothes biked in DC.”
— Darren Flusche, League of American Bicyclists

Washington’s bike commuting rate and its network of painted bike lanes grew gradually until 2010, when the city launched one of the nation’s first and most successful bike sharing systems. In the four years that followed, DC’s bike commuting rate has doubled.

“Bike share flipped the script and showed that normal people in normal clothes biked in DC,” said Flusche, who moved from New York City to Washington in 2009. “It’s bike share that changed the way people think about the bike. Because those bikes are so heavy and slow, it’s not about being an athlete. It’s just a more practical choice.”

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Some cities see big biking gains, but many stall Capital Bikeshare users mix with private bike users on DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In any report about Census commuting surveys, it’s worth emphasizing that they ignore all trips except the ones to work and back. Also, they require people to choose a single primary commute mode.

DC isn’t the only city once thought of as a second-tier bike town that saw big gains. Bike commuting also seems to have doubled in the last four years in New York City, which Bicycling magazine this month named the country’s No. 1 bike city.

NYC’s bike commuting population swelled from about 36,000 to about 46,000 in 2013, pushing its bike-commute rate from 1 percent to 1.2 percent. (That’s up from 0.6 percent in 2009.) In Pittsburgh, the estimated biking rate jumped from 1.4 percent to 2.2 percent; in Tucson, from 2.8 percent to 3.4 percent; in New Orleans, from 2.4 percent to 3.6 percent.

Other large cities, though, were as stalled as Portland in 2013: San Francisco at 3.8 percent, Philadelphia at 2.3 percent, Boston at 2 percent, Chicago and Austin at 1.4 percent.

Nationally, bike commuting is still inching up, though not as steadily as it was in the late 2000s. It’s now used for 0.62 percent of American commutes.

“Bicycling is still the fastest-growing mode choice in the country over the past decade,” Flusche said. “That’s great. [But] if you look at these numbers, they’re still pathetically small. … We still don’t have an American city that’s built a complete network, that’s done more than a symbolic job of building bike infrastructure.”

City of Portland: ‘We know we’ve got more work to do’ Riding on North Portland’s Willamette Boulevard. The city decided this summer to widen the bike lanes by one foot each.

Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera said in an interview that “we know we’ve got more work to do.”

“That’s why we’re continually seeking grant funding and the Our Streets PDX funding to make our streets safer for everyone,” Rivera said.

He added that the city believes the programs it currently uses to increase biking rates, all introduced or expanded under former Mayor Sam Adams, will pay off eventually.

“We think that continuing to grow our Safe Routes to School program and our high-crash corridor program will make the streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users,” Rivera said. “The kind of outreach we do with Sunday Parkways is crucial to introducing people to bicycling as a fun transportation option as well.”

Rivera said bike sharing is also “a really important tool” for giving people a chance to experiment with bike transportation.

“We’re still working hard and hopeful that we’ll be able to launch a bike share system,” Rivera said.

I asked Rivera if he thought rising central-city rents might be a factor in pushing potential bike commuters further from their destinations, or whether Portland’s improving economy might be encouraging people who might once have biked to start using cars. He withheld judgment on both issues.

“If anything, Portland is adding bike-oriented development,” Rivera said. “When you have mixed-use neighborhoods well-served by transit and safe biking and walking infrastructure, you tend to have more active transportation use.”

“These sometimes take decades to observe,” he added. “But over the long haul, that’s proven to be the case.”

Interested in these issues? Join us at City Hall at noon today, where I’ll be moderating an expert panel featuring Portland Bicycle Planning Coordinator Roger Geller, Alta Planning + Design principal Jessica Roberts and Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky to discuss whether Portland really deserves to be slipping in national rankings. Bring a lunch! It’ll be a fun, freewheeling discussion.

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City will install signs in Waterfront Park to discourage unsafe riding

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 15:56
The path in Waterfront Park is no place
to be riding fast.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland

With the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge in full swing and warmer than usual weather sticking around, there’s a lot of bike traffic in and around downtown Portland these days. Especially on the Waterfront Park path, which is also popular with joggers, tourists, walkers, and lots of other types of users.

Concerns about unsafe passing and crowded conditions have spurred the Portland Parks Bureau to partner with the Bureau of Transportation to install signs encouraging faster bike riders to use Naito Parkway and all others to ride slowly and use caution when the path is crowded. They’re calling the path a “Pedestrian Priority Zone.”

Here’s a first look at the new signs:

In a statement about the reason for the new signs, the Parks Bureau says:

“Shared-use environments can sometimes result in negative or unsafe interactions between cyclists, pedestrians, and other trail users. Concerns are regularly expressed to City Hall and PP&R staff about negative interactions and safety concerns, particularly regarding Waterfront Park, Eastbank Esplanade and RiverPlace trails.”

Given that issues of crowding and unsafe behaviors on this path and the Eastbank Esplanade are not new, the City is concerned that current constructions projects will make matters even worse. The combination of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail, Sellwood Bridge, and South Waterfront developments projects will create even more demand on these paths. Parks says the paths are already “at or over capacity during good weather.”

Parks plans to install 25 of the signs (“mainly at entrances, transition points, and known congested areas,” according to spokesman Mark Ross) tomorrow (9/18) and then monitor their effectiveness.

It will be interesting to see if mere signage will be enough to change behaviors. Most people ride on waterfront paths because they are the most direct, well-connected, and safest ways between point A and B. Naito Parkway’s old-school bike lane next to fast-moving auto traffic doesn’t provide an adequate level of safety and doesn’t as smoothly to key bridge crossings as the path does. On the east side of the river, the Esplanade is the only north-south option that doesn’t require riders to navigate the central eastside.

To really alleviate this problem, Parks and PBOT need to team up and improve bicycle access by installing a dedicated cycle path on or adjacent to Naito Parkway and on the Martin Luther King Blvd/Grand couplet on the east side.

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Get Legal: Being “nice” is dangerous and could make you at fault in a collision

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 13:54
Being nice isn’t so nice when it creates confusion.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Written by lawyer Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas Coon & Newton.

Some road users go out of their way (and beyond the law) to be “nice.” Being nice isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it involves giving somebody a break, or allowing a successful traffic merge; but other times — such as when a driver waves another driver through stopped traffic — there can be disastrous consequences.

When road users go out of their way to accommodate others when there is no legal authority for doing so, it creates real trouble later if someone gets hurt as a result of their “nice” gesture. In this column, I’ll go over some common scenarios where being what you think is good can actually be very bad.

Waving others through an intersection

In heavy traffic situations, most people attempt to honor the Oregon law prohibiting blocking, or “impeding traffic” (ORS 811.130) or “plugging” intersections so that cross traffic can get through (ORS 811.550 prohibits stopping “within an intersection.”) However, some drivers, in an attempt to be helpful, wave other drivers through without considering that someone on a bicycle in an adjacent lane may be lawfully occupying the area in the direct path of the left turning driver.

When a collision happens, many times the “helpful” driver is gone from the scene, leaving an injured person and a baffled driver behind wondering who initiated the collision.

When a collision happens, many times the “helpful” driver is gone from the scene, leaving an injured person and a baffled driver behind wondering who initiated the collision. Sometimes, when the “waver” stays behind it is possible to make a claim against their insurance company for failing to carefully assess other traffic before making the wave. In essence the waver is assuming responsibility for conditions being safe to make the left turn.

Before one attempts to wave someone through they should always do a shoulder check for walkers, bikers and other overtaking traffic to make sure that they’re not about to create a wreck for others road users.

Bike riders waving drivers across bicycle lanes

Sometimes a bicycle rider who’s nervous about a left or right turning car next to a bicycle lane will wave them through in an attempt to avoid a potential conflict. This maneuver endangers other overtaking bike riders or people walking in crosswalks who aren’t anticipating that the driver will suddenly start moving when they should have slowed or stopped in order to yield to the person in the bicycle lane (as Oregon law requires). This maneuver is particularly dangerous for bike riders who aren’t anticipating that a rider ahead of them has waved the driver through the bike lane.

Next time you consider doing this, think to yourself: Are you sure you want to avoid a potential conflict so much that you are willing to assume responsibility for other road users the driver might hit on their way across the road in front of you?

Passing other riders

Some riders attempt to facilitate overtaking cars’ efforts to pass a group or single rider, for example on a long climb where the riders are going substantially below normal motor vehicle speed. In these instances the lead rider will wave an overtaking car forward when it appears that the lane ahead is clear of oncoming traffic. However the helpful waver has invited what may be an unsafe passing maneuver. In these instances we recommend riding single or double file as far to the right as practical (as required by ORS 814.430). It’s best for riders to allow overtaking auto drivers to decide for themselves when it’s safe to pass — without inviting a passing maneuver which may cause a head-on or side-swipe collision.

People using crosswalks

One of the reasons Oregon Walks and other organizations changed Oregon law for walking in crosswalks was to create q legal trigger of the walkers’ right of way so that drivers know when to stop before they enter the kill zone. The Oregon crosswalk law (ORS 811.028(5)) states that drivers must stop for people walking in marked or unmarked crosswalks “when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves on to the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”

Who knows what lurks ahead?

Under the current Oregon system, people who are hanging back on the curb but have not stepped or rolled off of the curb into the crosswalk (unless they are proceeding with a walk signal at a signalized intersection) have not yet exercised their right of way to the crosswalk. Many Oregon drivers (and bikers) are ignorant of crosswalk laws and fail to realize that it is not until the person has actually moved off of the curb and put a foot or bicycle wheel onto the crosswalk in the roadway that an obligation to stop is legally triggered.

The gratuitous granting of a right-of-way that does not yet exist only serves to lure people off of the curb and into a “double-threat” hazard situation because people driving in other lanes might have no idea what’s going on.

Further, ORS 814.040 states pedestrians must yield the right of way to vehicles outside of crosswalk (ORS 814.040 requires pedestrians to “yield the right of way to a vehicle upon the roadway when… crossing… at any point other than within… a crosswalk”). So if the “nice” driver waves someone across the street mid-block and another vehicle comes along and strikes the walker, the driver’s wave, in effect, lured the person into a position where they have no legal right to be.

Why does this keep happening?

Most problems involving right-of-way hazards like those discussed above occur because drivers fail to understand the basic rules of the road. The best solution for this problem is for everyone to familiarize themselves with the bicycle lane, crosswalk, and passing laws so that they know where they stand legally in these frequent encounters with other road users (start by checking out our free legal guides).

Every time we wave someone through or across a lane when the law grants no right-of-way to the recipient of the “favor” the possibility of a collision greatly increases. While it is somewhat ironic that being nice can be dangerous and illegal, the best practice is to save those favors for when someone is trying to merge into the lane in front of you.

Ray Thomas
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is part of our monthly legal series with Portland-based lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton. (Disclaimer: STC&N is a BikePortland advertiser and this article is part of a paid promotional partnership.)

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New bike lane on SW Salmon improves bike access to Naito Parkway

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:11
New striping gives bike riders their own lane.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Getting to Naito Parkway and Waterfront Park from downtown Portland just got easier thanks to relatively small — yet significant — changes to two blocks of SW Salmon Street.

Looking west on Salmon as you approach Naito Parkway.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

With a major project at the World Trade Center that included a repaving of Salmon between SW 1st and Naito, the Bureau of Transportation jumped on the opportunity to re-stripe the road in a way that improves bicycling access. Instead of three standard lanes between 2nd and Naito, PBOT has striped the road for two standard lanes between 2nd and 1st, and added a bike-only lane between 1st and Naito. They’ve also added sharrows in the right-turn only lane on both blocks and some green caution paint to mark the beginning of the bike lane.

Here’s a rough diagram from PBOT that shows the configuration before and after:

And an aerial photo taken from a reader who works in an adjacent building:

It might not look like that big of a deal, but from a bicycling perspective this is a very welcome change. Salmon just west of Naito was always a bit stressful. The shared, center lane that used to be there (and that allowed users to turn either left or right at Naito) — confused me more than once in the past as I tried to transition onto the Naito bike lane. With the new design, I have my own bicycling space and I know exactly what drivers will do in the lanes to either side of me.

According to PBOT data, there were 26 collisions/crashes at Naito and 1st, 15 of which were attributed to the dual center turn lane. Here’s more from PBOT about the goals and benefits of this project (taken from a project scoping document):

And it seems others are pleased with the new configuration as well. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve heard on Twitter:

@BikePortland Just rode it. Very nice. Makes official and safer what everyone on a bike was doing there anyway. Desire lines.

— Anne (@DarkEmeralds) September 17, 2014

@BikePortland SW Salmon and 1st a huge improvement for all users. Now, put that central bike lane from 1st to the Max track in Goose Hollow.

— Mark Reber (@markreber) September 17, 2014

@BikePortland I sat and watched it for a bit during rush hour on Monday and it seems to work really well. Better and safer flow.

— Charley Gee (@CharleyBGee) September 17, 2014

What’s also good news about this is that it cost PBOT just $2,000 (the World Trade Center paid for the paving), which goes to show just how inexpensively we can retrofit existing streets with higher-quality bike access.

PBOT has been on a roll lately with taking advantage of paving projects to update lane markings and configurations. Other projects where we’ve seen bicycle access improvements along with repaving projects include the new buffered bike lanes on NW Everett and the wider bike lanes (and other changes) on N Willamette Blvd.

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Governor Kitzhaber, top legislators raise awareness of distracted driving

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:09
Pledging to drive without distractions, from left to right: Senate Democratic Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland), Senator Jackie Winters (R-Salem), AT&T Oregon President George Granger, House Democratic Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene), House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte), Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (D-Portland), Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli.
(Photo: AT&T)

Distracted driving is one of the largest public health crises in America today, and Oregon is not immune to its impacts. According to ODOT crash data, 93 people died on Oregon roads between 2006 and 2011 and there were over 18,000 collisions due to distracted driving. If you like to ride a bike, this issue is of immense importance given that you ride just a few feet away from people driving multi-ton steel vehicles.

Yesterday at the state capitol in Salem, legislators attended an event to raise awareness of the issue and even Governor Kitzhaber has gotten involved by declaring this coming Friday, September 19th, “Distraction-Free Driving Day” in Oregon.

House Speaker Tina Kotek.
(Photo: AT&T)

In a lobby of the capitol building, several top members of the Oregon House and Senate added their names to the over 5 million Americans who have already taken AT&T’s “It can wait” pledge. According to an AT&T spokesperson who was at yesterday’s event, the legislators included: Senate President Peter Courtney, Sen. Diane Rosenbaum, Sen. Ted Ferrioli, Sen. Jackie Winters, House Speaker Tina Kotek, Rep. Val Hoyle and Rep. Mike McLane, Rep. Shemia Fagan and Rep. Barbara Smith Warner.

The communications giant has launched the initiative to encourage people to not text and drive. Part of the campaign encourages people to text “#X” before they get into their car to let friends know they are driving and won’t respond to messages.

Last week, AT&T brought a driving and texting simulator to the Capitol and legislators tried it out for the media. According to the Salem Statesman-Journal, Senator Courtney had quite the experience trying to drive and use his phone at the same time: “It was terrible. I was hitting cars. I was running red lights,” Courtney told the paper. “You start to move off the road, and you don’t even realize it.”

In a proclamation issued a few days ago, Governor Kitzhaber issued an official state proclamation deeming September 19th Distraction-Free Driving Day.

Here’s the text of the proclamation:

WHEREAS: The State of Oregon holds the health and safety of its citizens as a paramount concern; and

WHEREAS: Distracted driving occurs when drivers engage in activities that divert their attention from the road and their primary task of driving — such as texting, talking on a cell phone, interacting with passengers, listening to loud music, and reading; and

WHEREAS: Texting, because it distracts the driver’s visual manual, and cognitive abilities, is especially dangerous for the driver and others on the roadways; and

WHEREAS: Between 2006 and 2011, 18,146 vehicle crashes occurred in Oregon as a result of distracted driving, resulting in 15,356 injuries and 93 deaths; and

WHEREAS: The Oregon Legislature has taken several steps over the past five years to prohibit and discourage the use of handheld devices while driving.

NOW, THEREFORE:
I John A. Kitzhaber, M.D., Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim September 19, 2014 to be Distraction-Free Driving Day in Oregon and encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance.

Those “actions” Kitzhaber refers to are bills passed by the legislature to punish people who use devices while driving. The latest was Senate Bill 9, which passed in 2013 and bumped the cell phone use infraction up from a Class D traffic violation (with a base fine of $110 and maximum of $250) to a Class C violation (with a base fine of $260 and a maximum of $1,000). In addition to higher fines, SB 9 allowed ODOT to spend $123,000 on highway signage reminding drivers of the consequences.

In testimony in support of that bill back in 2013, Senator Courtney said he believes distracted driving is just as serious as drunk driving. “As such, there should be a very serious consequence,” he testified, “My intention with this bill is to achieve the same attitude towards texting and driving as there currently is towards drinking and driving.”

Oregon has a long ways to to go before our driving and traffic culture sees cell phone use in the same light as drinking and driving. Beyond proclamations and photo-ops, what we need is more money for enforcement. We also need ODOT and the state to do more to protect road users — especially vulnerable ones like bicycle riders — from momentary lapses of attention. More physically protected bicycle lanes and off-highway bicycle pathways should be seen as a key part of the solution.

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Cross Crusade news: Women’s singlespeed, two-day opening event, tailgating competition

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:33
Bottleneck at Alpenrose
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s preeminent cyclocross race series, the Cross Crusade, has announced some big changes for its 21st season that kicks off on Saturday, October 11th at the Alpenrose Dairy in Portland’s southwest hills.

One of the biggest changes this year is an entirely new race category: Women’s singlespeed. The singlespeed category is typically one of the largest (and most raucous) of the Cross Crusade. Last year’s Alpenrose race had 97 starters. In the past, everyone raced together, but now the women will get their own start time. If this sounds like fun to you, prepare to get up early. The gun goes off at 8:40 am, which organizers say should give you plenty of time to race again in the multi-speed races later in the day.

Another new thing to look out for this year is the Tailgate Party Competition to be held during race #4 (October 26th) at the Washington County Fairgrounds. “Over the past few years,” wrote series director Brad Ross in an email to the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association list, “teams have been getting more and more into their tailgater parties. So we have decided to make it an official contest.”

Get your sausage recipe dialed-in if you want to impress the judges. These folks are not messing around.

Technically it’s a tent party competition, a nod to the burgeoning tent villages that pop up during race day (a phenomenon we wrote about last year). Ross says a specially chosen panel of “hungry, thirsty, and somewhat impartial judges” will walk around to each tent and sample their hospitality, food and drink. Winners will get prizes, and more importantly, bragging rights.

Another big change this year is a two-day opening event. The race at Alpenrose Dairy typically sees the largest turnout of racers and spectators of the entire year. In 2010, over 1,700 racers participated. That’s almost more racers than one day of racing can handle. With over 20 categories and a relatively short course, there is only so many people Ross and his crew can safely have on the course at one time. Spreading that crowd out to two days might help reduce crowds and make the even more pleasant for everyone.

Of course many racers will participate on both days and the Crusade will change the course to keep it interesting. There will also be a camping zone if you want to hang out with teammates and friends overnight.

While the Crusade doesn’t start until next month, Portland’s ‘cross season is already well underway. There are two weeknight series to choose from — the Rapha Trophy Cup on Tuesdays and the Blind Date at the Dairy on Wednesdays — and the Grand Prix Ryan Trebon is already onto its fourth of six races. Check the OBRA schedule for more info.

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PBOT launches “A safer place for everyone” campaign for Williams Ave

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 11:39
PBOT will hang these banners on light poles along N Williams Avenue as part of the campaign.

As we reported last month, at long last the Bureau of Transportation is going to improve bicycling conditions on N Williams Avenue.

With construction on the North Williams Safety Project set to begin this week, PBOT has now announced a new outreach campaign, “to inform people of the new street design and encourage all travelers to share the road.” Dubbed “A Safer Place for Everyone,” the campaign will include a series of 12 banners hung on light poles, A-board signs on the sidewalks, and a brochure that has been sent to area residents.

Here’s a detail of the brochure:

And the six other banners:

Another detail of banners.

The banners (above) feature portraits of people who live in the Vancouver-Williams corridor along with taglines like: “Be alert and share the road,” “Watch for me when turning,” “I drive at a family friendly speed,” “I look both ways before I cross,” “Please help me be safe,” and so on.

During construction, PBOT reminds bicycle riders that N Rodney and auto drivers to use Martin Luther King Blvd and Interstate Ave as alternate routes. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance also recommended Rodney in a blog post about the project they published today. Speed humps have been recently added to Rodney to slow drivers down and discourage cut-through traffic. Additional neighborhood greenway treatments are coming to Rodney as part of this project, but only after the work on Williams is complete.

PBOT says the new, left-side bike lane should open by mid-October and the entire project is expected to be done by the end of December.

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Surprisingly civil car/bike collision in Oregon City caught on video

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:40
Still from YouTube.

Collisions between bike riders and car drivers are not uncommon. What is uncommon however, is the level of civility displayed by reader Ben Koker after he was thrown to the ground following a slow-speed collision with a man driving a Lexus SUV earlier this month.

Thankfully, Koker was not seriously hurt. And he also happened to capture the entire incident on video thanks to his helmet-mounted camera.

The collision happened in the intersection of Main Street and 10th in downtown Oregon City. Koker was heading southbound on Main toward the four-way stop at 10th. After stopping and thinking it was safe to go, Koker was hit by the SUV driver from his right. The driver failed to stop at the stop sign.

Here’s the video:

As you can hear in the video, after hitting Koker, the driver gets out of the car and says, “Sorry about that.” To which Koker replies, “That’s all right.”

Once they move to a nearby parking lot to exchange information, the driver — a 17-year-old — tells a cop who had just pulled up, “It was my fault. I accidentally ran the stop sign.”

Not surprisingly, the young driver’s insurance took full liability and Koker was reimbursed for his damaged wheel and a doctor visit.

Our takeaway from this incident? Beyond the surprising civility and level-headedness displayed by both parties (understandable expletives whispered by Koker under his breath notwithstanding), it’s another big endorsement of helmet cams. Koker not only recommends them, but now he’s thinking of getting a rear-view cam and a dash-cam for his car. “When the kid’s insurance agent called,” he wrote in a YouTube comment, “she actually referenced the kid’s comment at the end about fault. Hard to argue with that:)”

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Five bike projects earn Travel Oregon grant awards

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 09:37
Tourism grants will help fund everything
from maps to a bike visitor center, to
new off-road cycling trails.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the latest sign that bike tourism is taking the state of Oregon by storm, a recent announcement of 11 grant awards from Travel Oregon (officially the Oregon Tourism Commission) worth a total of $120,000 included five bike projects.

From southern Oregon to the Columbia River Gorge, local governments, agencies, and non-profit groups are jumping on board the biking bandwagon and working hard to develop their natural assets into cycling destinations. This latest round of grants were aimed specifically at advancing projects that “improve local economies and communities by enhancing, expanding, and promoting Oregon’s travel and tourism industry.”

We asked Travel Oregon for details on all five bike projects. As you can see below, there are exciting things afoot for cycling all across the state!

Here are brief descriptions of the projects (taken directly from Travel Oregon grant applications):

Estacada Development Association – Estacada Station Cycling Plaza

Drawing by Fertile Grounds, LLC.

This cycling plaza will serve as the gateway to the new, 70 mile Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway. The plaza will provide necessary facilities and services to visitors that will enhance their cycling experience and encourage them to return… The plaza will provide an all-weather facility for cyclists to meet, plan, eat, repair bikes and gear up for their ride. With services such as water, bike repair, parking, security, and trail information, the city and cyclists will benefit from the plaza. Surrounding areas are beginning to offer bike-camping tours, making the plaza even more desirable.

Team Dirt – Alsea Falls Flow Trails
Team Dirt will construct a 1-mile black diamond trail at the BLM Alsea Falls Recreation Site. The trail will be located in the Advanced Trail Expansion area, east of Highballer… Over 2.5 million Pacific Northwest residents are within 115 miles of the system. This trail system is situated halfway between the growing communities of Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon. Both of these communities boast significant riding communities but lack the full complement of available riding options. Specifically, there is a regional lack of bike‐optimized and bike‐specific trails to keep the sport moving forward. This trail system has the potential to be 20+ miles of progressive trail including cross‐country, enduro, and downhill trails for beginner to expert.

International Mountain Bike Association – Mountain of the Rogue Trail System (Phase One Flow Trail)
This project will construct 1.5 miles of world-class mountain bike-specific flow trail 1.5 miles from downtown Rogue River… Building a trail system that accommodates hikers and trail runners while being focused around mountain bike specific trails will bring an enormous economic benefit to Rogue River retailers, lodging, restaurants, and other businesses.

There is a profound need for both economic improvement and access to nature-based recreation in Rogue River. Rogue River is a small town that is struggling economically. Despite the natural beauty of the area and the Rogue River itself, there is very little tourism. Restaurants, lodging, retailers, and other businesses are looking for a way to draw tourists to the community. Area residents lack trail access to the amazing beauty of the mountains that surround Rogue River. There are currently no publicly available, non-paved nature-based trails in the area. This project is needed to provide significant economic benefit by creating a destination for cycling tourists, while simultaneously providing much-needed access to nature-based recreation for area cyclists, hikers, and trail runners of all ages.

Discover Klamath Visitor & Convention Bureau – Klamath County Cycling Map
Discover Klamath will develop a large format tear-pad cycle map. The map will highlight mountain bike trails and road bike routes in Klamath County. The map will be available in digital/downloadable formats on the Discover Klamath website. The goal is to raise awareness that Southern Oregon / Klamath County is an area rich with road bike and mountain bike trails.

With cycling becoming a popular activity, Discover Klamath sees the opportunity as a strategic growth area with considerable upside. The map will begin to strengthen our position as an area for visitors to ride.

Travel Lane County – Eugene, Cascades, & Coast Bike Visitor Center
The development of a bike visitor center will be a human powered outreach program that allows our knowledgeable staff to be accessible in more places throughout the region to provide visitors with first-hand local information, tips and personalized trip planning. It will be the first bike visitor center in the country making it a unique and authentic representation of our destination which is home to three scenic bikeways, two IMBA Epic rides and countless miles of trails and roads for cyclists to explore…

Often when travelling, outdoor activities and natural sites are hard to find information about. The bike will connect people to the resources they need, eliminating barriers to engaging with activities. Combine our trained staff with access to technology and the Bike Visitor Center becomes a better trip planning tool than Google.

As per the grant instructions, these projects must be completed between September 2014 and September 2015.

— Browse our archives for more bicycle tourism news and stories.

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Reinventing taxis, part 1: A Q&A with Uber’s Northwest regional manager

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 08:19
Brooke Steiger, Uber’s Washington general manager.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland is now one of just two major U.S. cities where you can’t hail a ride with either Uber or Lyft — and that’s something the car-summoning companies would, of course, love to change.

The services essentially let anyone who passes their background checks become a paid cab driver using a personal car. But Uber has balked at expanding illegally into Portland, where you can be thrown in jail for six months for operating an unlicensed taxi.

We’ve been watching these trends closely because services like Uber are already having a huge impact on low-car life in other cities. Last week, I met a young Chicagoan who gets around by bicycle in nice weather but said she’s spent $2,000 on Uber this year for foul-weather commuting and late-night rides home; two years ago, she probably would have bought her own car by now and started using it for most trips.

Local media coverage of Uber has stuck with the basics: will they or won’t they? But we’d rather find a solution, so we sat down with two experts to explore the downsides, risks, complications and benefits of this rapidly spreading but controversial new service.

“I think the future is removing people out of their personal vehicles.”
— Brooke Steiger, Uber

Today’s Q&A is with Uber’s Seattle-based general manager for Washington state, Brooke Steiger, who talked with us last month about the ways Uber could fit into a low-car city and her answers to some of the complaints of Uber’s critics.

Tomorrow, we’ll be following up with a similar conversation with one of Uber’s loudest critics: the general manager of Portland-based Radio Cab.

Why would a company that makes it easier to travel by car be part of a low-car transportation network?

I think the future is removing people out of their personal vehicles. Providing more options to people will encourage that behavior. Options like Uber and bike share and public transportation feed into this huge option. I really see the future as options like Uber and no personal vehicles.

No personal vehicles?

Limited personal vehicle usage in the day-to-day.

I assume that eventually, Uber’s dream would be to get rid of the driver, too.

Obviously there are companies out there exploring driverless cars. There is new innovation coming out every single day.

This summer you reached a big compromise in Seattle over the amount of insurance Uber provides to its drivers if they hit somebody while they’re using the app.

We do carry $1 million when the driver is engaged in a trip. That covers anything from external property damage to, God forbid, if someone is hurt.

A different period is when you’re logged into the app. [But not driving someone.] In Seattle, we currently have $100,000 in contingent coverage during that period, and we will be raising that to $300,000. That means in the event that the driver’s insurance doesn’t cover, then our coverage will kick in.

But you say that’s a short-term deal and you’re lobbying Washington state for a different insurance requirement. What requirement are you hoping for long-term?

In Colorado, the requirement is to have $1 million while engaged in a trip and $100,000 in contingent coverage when you’re logged into the app.

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Wouldn’t Uber lead to distracted driving? The only way you can be an Uber driver is to be looking at your phone while you’re behind the wheel, right?

The very simple thing is you mount your phone on the dash. What happens when a request comes in is the phone beeps. So you don’t have to look at the phone. And you can touch any point on the screen to accept it. It’s simpler than changing your radio station.

“You don’t have to look at the phone. And you can touch any point on the screen to accept it. It’s simpler than changing your radio station.”
— Brooke Steiger, Uber

Why do we need Uber? What’s wrong with the current taxi system?

Uber brings an extreme amount of accessibility for the rider. It just provides this extra level of safety that is really unmatched. And from the driver level, it provides a level of opportunity that they love.

In any city that we enter, the city sees so many benefits that I think it’s something that Portland should look into. It’s pretty phenomenal to see the reduction of DUIs. It’s taking people off the road.

I also remember seeing a headline that Uber was trying to cut prices so low that using UberX, your peer-to-peer taxi service, is cheaper than owning a car.

It was a 25 percent price cut, in January.

Our first product was Uber Black [a towncar summoning service]. There were so many towncars that have downtime. It really helped these small businesses succeed. It was also the idea of being able to get a very, very nice ride on demand.

We had a huge interest in both a greener option and a more cost-effective option. UberX seeemed to be a perfect option for that. And we also want to encourage people to get rid of their vehicle. Providing an affordable alternative was essential.

One of the most important taxi regulations is that they have to accept every trip request. Uber drivers don’t. So what’s to stop your drivers from rejecting an East Portland grandma’s 5-minute trip to the grocery store, because it’s not going to be profitable enough?

If a request comes in, they’re not required to accept that request. However, when you get the request, you have 10 seconds to accept. You don’t know where that person is going. They won’t know how much money that trip is worth. I think that’s why the taxi regulations are in place.

We provide thousands and thousands of minimum and short trips a day. We’ve had no issues at all with people not taking those short trips.

But the driver could still deny the ride based on the location of the trip, right?

We’re always trying to meet all that demand that we see. So if we see that there is demand in an area of town that there typically aren’t cars available in, then that’s something that we communicate to drivers as well. In Seattle, we actively messaged drivers that there were rides in Bellevue that weren’t being accepted, and the supply built up.

Qs & As edited for brevity and clarity. Watch this space tomorrow for our Q&A with Steve Entler, general manager of Radio Cab, Portland’s largest taxi company.

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