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Watch out bike-friendly cities, Steve Clark is coming for you

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 14:51
Steve Clark in Portland last week.
(Photo by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

If your city proudly proclaims its Bicycle Friendly Community designation, you might want to re-read your application and make sure you didn’t exaggerate. That’s because Steve Clark, the new staffer in charge of the program for the League of American Bicyclists, is on a three-year, 300 city tour to find out if they live up to the hype.

“People will sometimes embellish things… These visits are a way to ground-truth what the applications are saying.”
— Steve Clark

Portland was Clark’s 49th stop on the current tour. From here he headed north to Seattle. He’ll visit 100 cities over the next three years thanks to a funding partnership with Trek Bicycle Corporation. He stopped into our office last week.

“People will sometimes embellish things,” Clark shared, “These visits are a way to ground-truth what the applications are saying.”

The League’s Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program — the one that designates cities as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum — started in 2003. Clark estimates they’ve gotten about 741 applications since then and have awarded just over 300 cities. The process to become a BFC is pretty straightforward: City staff submit an application detailing everything they do for bikes and the League uses a combination of a numbered scoring system, a panel of local reviewers, and an internal advisory board to make the decisions.

Having the manager of the program leave League headquarters in D.C. and visit the cities to get first-hand intel on bikeways and local bike culture is new, and Clark seems like the right person for the job. He founded the Minnesota Coalition of Bicyclists (now the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota) in the early 1980s, then was the bike coordinator for the City of Boulder, Colorado. Then, after a consulting stint, he was program manager for Transit for Livable Communities, the Minneapolis-based non-profit that implemented the region’s participation in the federal Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Project.

Clark started his current tour in January and has so far visited Arizona, Texas, and California.

During his visit last week we discussed complacency, the League’s new Diamond rating, how Portland is faring, the importance of political champions, and more…

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What stands out from all your visits so far?

A big issue is land-use. We’ve created so many communities since World War II around the needs of the automobile. We’ve got so many wide lanes and roads and things are so spread out.

What’s the deal with your new Diamond designation?

“And you can’t be afraid of opposition because without opposition you’re probably not doing anything. That’s your best barometer that you’re making a difference.”

To obtain Diamond we’re looking at models from northern Europe. I think it’s going to be a fairly high bar… The Diamond city will be closer to 20% mode share and if you look to Europe you see they’re much less afraid of making it more difficult to drive and making it easier to bike. They do as many short cuts [for bikes] as they can, they make auto parking expensive. In some cities you simply can’t get to the central city by car. We’re probably a long ways from having those kind of strategies in place.

When awards are obtained, it can lead to complacency. Is the League aware of this?

Yes. I think there’s always that potential. We’ve heard from advocates who have felt like, ‘Well, this is great but now we’re hearing from our public works director, ‘Why are you guys complaining? We’re already gold or platinum.’ ‘ So we certainly don’t want to be the cause for complacency.

Have you ever downgraded a city?

Yes. But I’d have to look that up and get back to you. (Turns out they have: Denver, Colorado and Rockville Maryland were downgraded, but were re-instated after a subsequent application process.)

What about mountain-bike access? The League said in the past that access to singletrack trails is an important criterion for obtaining Platinum.

Mountain bike trail access is considered in the evaluation but it hasn’t been a strong emphasis to me because my focus has been more on bicycles as transportation.

Could Portland lose Platinum over its lack of urban mountain bike trails?

It could. But there are 100 questions on the evaluation and it ultimately means they might lose like 8 points out of a total of 600 — there are so many other things we’re looking at.

We’re also trying say that, with Platinum cities, we want them to be truly models. There shouldn’t be anything glaringly missing from a Platinum community… Like, if someone looked at Portland and said, ‘Well, they don’t have any mountain bike access.’ But we also don’t have anything in writing that says, ‘If you don’t have these specific components you’re not going to be Platinum.’

And how has Portland looked to you so far?

Mostly very positive. The fact that I could put my bike on the Amtrak bus without it being in a box. That was nice. Then I get here and I see that Google tells me to take Broadway, a busy arterial street, yet it has a nice bike lane. It worked perfectly. I went all the way [from Union Station] to the other side of the interstate. Then, coming into town again, pretty much all the major streets I wanted to use had bike facilities. Then, coming here on SW Stark on the big, green, wide, lane [which had, in an amazing coincidence, been re-painted that same day!]. So far, for a major city, Portland is the best I’ve seen. And I know people who live in Portland don’t want to hear that… But the reality is we have a long way to go in this country.

What about the importance for political champions? Portland is at a moment where we lack the political urgency we once had when former commissioner and mayor Sam Adams successfully campaigned for Platinum.

Every place has their own ebbs and flows with the politics. It really does depend on who’s at the top. You need the vision thing happening at the top. Take Salt Lake City Utah Mayor Ralph Becker. He’s a champion for bicycling that truly believes this is the way they’re going to become a world-class city. So he brings in a public works director and a bike coordinator that’s going to get the job done.

But who knows, two years from now, the mayor and those staffers might not be there. And that’s where a strong advocacy group comes in.

It’s really a three-legged stool. You have to have a strong advocacy group that empowers elected officials to have political capital the need to get things done. And you can’t be afraid of opposition because without opposition you’re probably not doing anything. That’s your best barometer that you’re making a difference. And then you need a dedicated city staff. Without any of those three ingredients things don’t move forward as well as they should.

Portland last applied to maintain its Platinum status in 2013. That means we have four years before we are up for re-evaluation again in 2017. But with Clark at the helm, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels because the bar is being raised all over the country and the longer Portland simply maintains the status quo, the further we’ll fall behind and risk losing our Platinum standing.


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Weekend Event Guide: Parkways, a picnic, the ‘ultimate urban bike’, & more

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:44
Don’t miss out on Sunday Parkways this weekend.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

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

Now that we’ve gotten this storm out of our system, the forecast for the weekend couldn’t be better. 70s and 80s and lots of sun. And it’s a good thing too because we’ve got tons of great stuff in the guide this week. From parties to rides and even a garage sale, no matter what you like to do on a bike you’re sure to find something good…

Friday, July 25th

Chrome Mobile Factory Tour/Show Launch Event – All day Friday and Saturday at 425 SW 10th Ave
Chrome is making very big claims about their latest “forged rubber” shoe. They say it’s the “best city sneaker in the world.” If you want to check it out, they’re giving 50% off to the first 100 people that come in the doors starting at 10:00 am Friday. Another reason to stop by is to see the shoes being made right before your eyes on their 70-year-old machine. More info here (FB).

Critical Mass – 5:30 pm at North Park Blocks
It’s baaaack. More info here.

Vanilla Workshop Garage Sale – 3:00 to 7:00 pm at 1711 SE Powell Blvd (and Saturday from 10 – 2)
Vanilla, one of Portland’s most sought-after bicycle builders, will open the doors of their shop to offer big discounts on new and used parts and accessories. Expect to find all types of treasures, including clothing from Vanilla’s Speedvagen racing team (men’s and women’s). More info here.

Oregon Manifest Reveal Party – 6:00 pm at Pacific NW College of Art
The collaborations are complete and now it’s time to show off the “ultimate urban utility bike.” The Oregon Manifest competition finally goes public with the big Reveal Party Friday night when you’ll get to finally see what local bike builder TiCycles and design company Industry have spent months designing and building. At the event you’ll get to meet the team, drink bike-inspired beer from Deschutes, and make a custom screenprint. This event coincides with reveal parties in four other cities — Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and New York City. Public voting to choose the winning bike will start at the event. More info here.

Rocky Butte Dance Party Sunset Picnic – 7:00 pm at Irving Park (NE 11th and Klickitat)
Bring friends and join other friends for a sunset ride from Irving Park up to Rocky Butte. Bring food and drinks and follow the thumping mobile sound systems. It’s like an encore of Pedalpalooza! More info here.

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Saturday, July 26th

Oregon City Discovery Ride and Scavenger Hunt – 9:00 am at End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (1726 Washington St)
Participants will have four hours to ride a 30-mile loop through Oregon City, Canby, and West Linn collecting raffle tickets from businesses and historic sites along the way. Bring all the tickets to the end location (which happens to be Portland City Company) and win a bunch of prizes! Registration and more info here.

Fugly Paint Ride – 10:30 am at Stumptown Coffee (4525 SE Division)
Neighborhood architecture buff Jenny Fosmire will lead the third edition of this ride. Join some nice folks on a leisurely ride of homes in the Woodstock neighborhood that have “eye-wateringly brilliant and extremely dubious exterior color.” Riders encouraged to mimic the crazy bright-colored houses by wearing loud outfits and sunglasses. More info here.

Bike Town Hall with State Sen. Michael Dembrow – 10:00 am at The Lumberyard (2700 NE 82nd)
Smart politicians know that community outreach by bike is the hottest thing right now. Meet and ride with Sen. Dembrow and House reps Barbara Smith Warner and Alissa Keny-Guyer. This is a great opportunity to discuss traffic issues and bend the ear of policymakers. More info here (FB).

Moberi Smoothies in West End Bikes Grand Opening – Noon to 4:00 pm at SW Stark and 11th
Local bike-powered smoothie company, Moberi, is now operating from the cafe inside West End Bikes. Stop by Saturday to help them celebrate with free t-shirts to the first 10 customers. More info here (FB).

Back in the Saddle Workshop – 2:00 to 5:00 pm at Bike Gallery Beaverton (12345 SW Canyon Rd, Beaverton)
Join Metro and the Drive Less, Save More folks for a clinic that will help you gain confidence in everyday riding. Expert instruction from Women on Wheels will help you find the best routes, fix a flat, understand basic bike laws and make good choices for family biking set-ups. More info here.

Sunday, July 27th

NW Trail Alliance Ape Canyon MTB Ride – 8:00 am from Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd)
A great ride on tap from our friends at NWTA. Meet at Velo Cult and carpool to Mt. St Helens area to experience Ape Canyon trail, one of the best and most beautiful rides in the entire region. More info here.

Ibis/Santa Cruz MTB Demo – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Sandy Ridge trailhead
The crew from River City Bicycles will have the latest and greatest bikes from two legendary brands — Ibis and Santa Cruz — on hand for all your test-riding pleasures. Meet at Sandy Ridge, choose your bike, and let the dream begin. More info here.

Most Beautiful Jersey Ride – 10:00 am from Sellwood Park (SE 7th and Malden)
Wear your most beautiful jersey on this Portland Wheelmen Touring Club ride. The route will be 25 miles and sticks mainly to bike paths. Expect a prize for best jersey and a coffee stop along the way. More info here.

Sunday Parkways Northeast – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Don’t miss this awesome opportunity to ride through northeast neighborhoods the way nature intended: without the presence of gas-burning vehicles. This Sunday’s loop will take you from Woodlawn to Cully via the Going neighborhood greenway with tons of activities and sights to see in parks along the way. 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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PBOT’s new guide takes the guesswork out of family biking

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 14:17

Even in Portland, riding with infants and small children on your bike often elicits stares, questions, and comments.

At what age can we start biking with our baby? Which bike set-ups work best for toddlers? Is it better to use a tag-along or encourage kids to ride their own bike? These are just some of the myriad questions anyone who bikes with kids is used to getting. Now there’s a helpful guide from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) that aims to answer those questions.

Portland’s Family Biking Guide (PDF) is a new, 16-page booklet created by PBOT’s Active Transportation Division. The new guide will be distributed through the city’s “SmartTrips Welcome” marketing program that targets new residents and encourages them to bike, walk, and take transit.

According to PBOT’s Active Transportation Division Manager Linda Ginenthal, the new guide fills a gap in the city’s available suite of bicycling information. “We have a tremendous amount of bike information on our website and in printed materials,” she shared with us today, “but we had nothing for families.”

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The guide covers all stages of biking with kids; from riding while pregnant and taking babies along, to biking to school. It even offers advice on how to navigate the decisions around when to let children ride alone. Ginenthal said the tone of the guide is open and friendly. “It’s instructive, but not pointed,” she said.

When it comes to biking with babies — a topic that can set off heated discussions — the youngest age the guide mentions is nine months. That’s when infants usually have the adequate neck strength required to hold their head up in an upright seat. Before that age, the guide urges people to ask friends or look up options and advice online.

In addition to an explanation of the myriad gear options available at different ages, the guide also offers insights like this one on getting your kid to wear a helmet:

There’s also a nice endorsement of balance bikes (and from local company Islabikes no less) as the perfect first set of wheels (there’s even a smart suggestion to make your own balance bike by simply removing the pedals and lowering the seat of a standard bike):

Abra McNair, the PBOT staffer who created and wrote most of the guide, says she modeled Portland’s guide after a similar guide created by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. McNair said as the city’s Safe Routes to School program has expanded into new areas, she hears from many people how aren’t even aware of child trailers and other options. “There are a lot of people that can use either an affirmation that it’s a safe thing to do or that there are options,” she said, “And that it doesn’t have to be an expensive option like a bakfiets. You can do it by buying a trailer off Craigslist.”

For Ginenthal, the new guide is simply the city’s response to a growing demand. “A lot of people really want to do biking, walking, and transit and if they have the tools and information, and feel confident, they’re going to make that choice… Nobody wants to drive everywhere they go… It’s a huge constituency that we, as a city government, have to serve.”

— PBOT says this is just the first draft and they’re open to feedback on potential changes to the next print run. Download a PDF of the guide here.


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BikePortland Podcast: The Great Blinking Light Debate (and more)

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 11:54
Just lights to some people, but an
annoyance — and even a health hazard — for others.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Why would someone spray paint an angry, profanity-laced message about “epileptic lights” on a bikeway? Well, as the story we posted earlier this month illustrates, there’s a lot more to the topic of bike lights than you might think.

With that in mind Michael Andersen, Lillian Karabaic (our wonderful producer) and I tackled the topic of lights in the most recent episode of the BikePortland Podcast.

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We were joined in studio by Halley Weaver, author of the Bikeleptic blog. Halley is not only an everyday bike rider, she also has photo-sensitive epilepsy, a condition that impacts her riding experience. For instance, she’s been a volunteer for the Portland World Naked Bike Ride for the past six years, but she can’t actually participate in the ride because of all the blinking bike lights used by the thousands of participants.

In this episode, Halley shares the straight dope on how your light choices can have serious health impacts on her and other road users with epilepsy — and how to make bike lighting choices that can minimize those impacts.

We also discuss the science behind nighttime visibility, the lack of lights as standard equipment on bikes sold in the U.S., and much more.

Have a listen for yourself…

And if you’re wondering about the fun song played during the intro, check out the video here.

You can subscribe to our monthly podcast with Stitcher or iTunes, subscribe by RSS, sign up to get an email notification each time we upload a new episode, or just listen to it above using Libsyn. Listen to past episodes here.


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Want to breathe as little pollution as possible? Pedal at exactly 11 mph

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 08:40
A woman being exposed to more pollutants than she’d like.
(Photos J.Maus/BikePortland)

With a homebuilt $300 pollution monitor strapped to his bicycle and seven years of Portland State University education in his brain, Alex Bigazzi has been leading a deep exploration into your lungs.

Bigazzi’s findings might be an argument for electric bikes, which let people move quickly through an area without exerting themselves heavily.

Since we wrote last year about the PSU Ph.D candidate’s research into the amount of pollution people ingest while biking, Bigazzi has been taking what the Portland Tribune called his “breakthrough findings” on a successful tour, authoring two upcoming journal articles on the subject and, last week, presenting them (slides, audio) at the city’s “Lunch and Learn” series about bike transportation issues.

By designing his own low-cost equipment, gathering data from his own commute and others’ and thinking critically about previous research, Bigazzi has taken the science of pollution ingestion to what you might call an obsessively practical new level.

Here’s some of what he’s found so far.

1) The Springwater Corridor is a surprisingly polluted route.

Slides from Alex Bigazzi’s city presentation last week.

Bigazzi discovered that the air along the city’s best off-street path is actually some of the dirtiest, at least where traffic-related gases and grime are concerned.

“Even though we’re talking about traffic-related air pollutants, it’s not all coming from traffic,” Bigazzi explained last week. The many industrial developments near the Springwater (a former freight railroad), including Precision Castparts‘ three operation facilities for steel and titanium, send industrial solvents and other potentially harmful substances into the air.

But here’s one of the big insights in Bigazzi’s work: when it comes to biking, exposure to pollutants isn’t everything.

“That, it turns out, is where most people stop,” Bigazzi said. “We shouldn’t stop there because it’s only part of the health effects of traffic-related pollutants.”

2) Harder pedaling means more pollution per second — but fewer seconds of exposure.

The biggest contributor to pollution intake, Bigazzi found, isn’t actually how dirty the air around you is. It’s how much of it you breathe.

“Ventilation completely dominates the exposure differences,” Bigazzi said. “The exposure differences are not that big.”

That creates an interesting mathematical puzzle: the harder your body works, the more pollution you breathe in. But the faster you move, the less time you’ll spend in the dirty air.

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So assuming you’re headed to a place where the air is cleaner than it is along a roadway (Precision Castparts commuters, take note), here’s a curve Bigazzi constructed that shows the optimum speed to ride for various bikeway slopes. It’s expressed in kilometers per hour; the 17.5 kph “minimum ventilation speed” for a flat 0 percent grade is 11 mph.

For a steep 10 percent grade, the optimal speed would be just 3 mph; for a 4.5 percent grade like the one on Southeast Belmont near 11th Avenue, the optimal would be about 6.2 mph.

At Thursday’s presentation, one of the attendees made an interesting point: Bigazzi’s findings might be an argument for electric bikes, which let people move quickly through an area without exerting themselves heavily.

3) Biking on a big busy street is a lot dirtier than biking on a local street.

Based on these calculations and Bigazzi’s hard data, he found that biking along a major arterial like Powell Boulevard means ingesting three to five times more traffic-related pollutants than biking on a local street.

There’s been some study of pollution levels in protected bike lanes, Bigazzi said, and pollution exposure there seems to be “measurably lower than where a bike lane would be on the same facilities for traffic-related air pollution.” He said he didn’t have exact numbers on this phenomenon.

4) The good news: Pollution problems are outweighted by the huge health benefits of biking.

Bigazzi, who obviously rides a bicycle himself, is sensitive to the charge that because he’s found that people on bikes (or foot) are exposed to more traffic-related pollution than people in cars, he’s implying that biking isn’t healthy.

The opposite is true, Bigazzi said. The act that puts bikers and walkers in contact with pollution — exerting their lungs — is so inherently healthy that it more than offsets the pollutant’s damage, other scholars’ studies estimate.

“All of them found an order of magnitude or two difference in exercise benefits outweighing pollution risks,” Bigazzi said. “So the net benefit is likely to be much much higher. But air pollution is still a risk.”

The same is true, he said, of whether people should avoid biking on major streets. Not if that’d mean taking a car, he said.

“Bicycling is better than no bicycling,” he said. “But it’s even safer from a pollution point of view if you’re not on an arterial.”


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If only every stolen bike story ended this well

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 15:20
Joel Brown, happy with his bright green Kona.
(Photos courtesy of Joel Brown)

We’ve shared dozens of stolen bike recovery stories here on BikePortland over the years. From an editorial standpoint, I usually don’t like to repeat similar stories; but in these cases I make exceptions. Why? Because I know the despair people feel when their bike gets stolen, and I want to give victims hope. I also feel that given what a huge problem bike theft is in Portland (much larger than you might think), I jump at any excuse to cover the topic.

On that note, here’s the story of reader Joel Brown, who emailed his recovery story to us this morning:

I just wanted to share my story of how I got my bike stolen and then got it back just about a day and half later.

I often drive my bike to work and leave it in my car, which is parked in a downtown parking garage, for after work rides or if I am taking it to the shop.

On Thursday 7/17/2014 I brought my bike to work in order to bring it into the shop, which opened at 10am. I got into work around 7:15 and then went back out around 10am to drive to the shop. When I got to my car I noticed the back window of my Honda CRV was broken and my 2014 Kona Jake the Snake Cyclocross bike was gone.

I immediately filed a police report and called my insurance company.

I took the next day off from work to meet the glass repair company at home to repair my broken rear window.

From the picture, you can see that this model Kona is very a noticeable bike. It is bright green and can be spotted blocks away.

The window was all fixed up by 10am, then around 11:30am I get a text from a coworker with a picture of bike asking if it was mine. He was only 10 blocks from where it had been stolen.

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I look at the pic and zoom in on it and see my gatorskin tires and my green bottle cages. There is no doubt in my mind that this is my bike! I started jumping up and down and yelling “That’s by f#$% bike!”

I immediately rushed to meet my coworker (who stayed by my bike) to get it back!

I called the cops, they showed up, filed a report and left. He gave me his card with a case# and my bike’s SN# in order to prove it was mine for a locksmith.

I called a locksmith and waited for a few hours by my bike. Sitting in my car watching it in the rear view mirror.

As I am sitting there, someone comes up and starts to unlock it!

I waited a few seconds, got out of my car and confronted him.

I said “I would like my bike back please”

He didn’t put up much of a fight, he said “oh is that your bike?” I told him it was and showed him a pic of me with the bike. Even told him I had a receipt (which I do) with the SN# of the bike on it.

He unlocked it for me and I put the bike in my car. I asked him where he got it and he said that a homeless person gave it to him as payment for some money he owed him.

I asked if he wanted to wait around for the cops so we could catch the person who stole my bike, but he declined and took off.

Not sure if his story is true or if he was the one who stole it. I wish the person who stole it could have gotten arrested, but I was just glad to get my bike back!

I know not all stolen bike stories end like this, but it is good to know that some do.

Thanks for sharing your story Joel.

And so, as you can see, sometimes there are happy endings to bike theft stories. Sometimes the police do show up and help. Sometimes you get your bike back without much fuss at all. There is hope. Keep the faith and keep looking. Your bike just might turn up.

(And please do yourself a favor and make sure you have proof of ownership in case yours get nabbed next.)

— Learn more about Portland’s sprawling bike theft culture in our archives.

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Local bike shop news roundup: Major closures, big moves, and smoothies!

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 14:07

There’s only one constant in Portland’s bike shop ecosystem: change.

With about 70 or so bike retail shops in the city boundary, hundreds of employees constantly switching between them, and an ever-changing market of bicycle riders, we need a full-time business editor on staff here at BikePortland just to keep up.

In the meantime, I’ve cobbled together several weeks of notes and emails to bring you the latest local bike shop news…

Bike ‘N Hike closes Portland store

One of Portland’s largest shops, Bike ‘N Hike, is closing. The 7,500 square foot store at SE Grand and Oak is having a big inventory closeout sale through the end of this month, then Portland will be without a Bike ‘N Hike location for the first time in over a decade. Owner Kevin Chudy will still operate his five other locations throughout the state (in Albany, Corvallis, Beaverton, Milwaukie, and Hillsboro).

Chudy said he was forced to close the Portland store because his lease was up for renewal and declining sales would simply not support the location. He plans to “sit out” the upcoming Fall/Winter season (which is typically very slow for bike shops) and “look for other opportunities.” Chudy says he’s actively looking for a better location and would like to re-open in March 2015.

Rolling Wrench mobile shop goes brick-and-mortar with Holy Spokes!

After two years of growing his mobile bike shop business, Rolling Wrench owner Tim Ennis is expanding with his first brick-and-mortar location. The new shop will be called Holy Spokes! and will be located at 3050 SE Division, in the “D Street Village” building.

We profiled Ennis and Rolling Wrench when he first opened in July 2012. Since then he’s towed his bike repair trailer to all sorts of events and has worked on bike repair contracts for Nike, Keen Footwear, and other companies throughout the area. Ennis says he plans to maintain the mobile repair business. “I think there are a lot of ways that the brick and mortar will complement Rolling Wrench, allowing us to offer some unique services,” he shared with us via email this morning. “Our main focus will be on commuters – extended hours, fast turnaround and a few other things convenient to daily riders and carfree families.”

Ennis says his grand opening is planned for August 24th, which is the same date as the Southeast Portland Sunday Parkways.

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Upcycles moving to larger space

Woodlawn residents will be happy to know that Upcycles is moving to a larger space. The tiny shop that used to be just west of Woodlawn Park on NE Dekum is moving two doors down, says co-owner Kai Druzdezel. The new location will be on the corner of Dekum and Oneonta Street, kitty-corner from popular eatery Breakside Brewing.

Here’s more from Druzdezel: “It’s a much bigger and more visible space, and I plan on expanding all of my offerings, including new and used bikes, parts, accessories, and services.”

The new Upcycles space will open this Sunday, July 27th during the Northeast Sunday Parkways event. Stop in and say hi when you roll by!

Performance closes store near Providence Park

Another major store that has closed its doors is Performance Bicycle. The national chain with over 100 stores in 20 states has given up on their location at 1736 SW Alder (near 18th and Burnside).

We noticed the “For Lease” up over the weekend and a phone call to that location was picked up by an employee in the company’s Mall 205 store. The employee told us Performance is hoping to open a new location closer to downtown Portland, ideally on the east side of I-405. He blamed poor sales at the Burnside location to a lack of parking, high crime, and the “cavernous” feeling of the building. The employee said talks of a new Portland location are just rumors at this point, but he’s hopeful one will be found in order to maintain jobs that were put in jeopardy with the closure.

Mountain Shop now offers a ‘bikepacking studio’

The popularity of bikepacking in this region is leading to more signs of its strength as a serious market segment. Its gotten so big that Mountain Shop, a local outdoor store, now has an “Adventure Bike Studio.” It makes sense, given that bikepacking is really just backpacking with a bike..

Mountain Shop employee Lisa Luna got in touch with us recently to share the news. She said the shop now rents out full adventure biking kits with bikes from Salsa, bags from Revelate, and an assortment of ultralight camping gear. Luna says they’ve event set up group rides with a courtesy shuttle van.

Check out their Adventure Bike Studio page for more info and stop in to see their selection.

The Bike Commuter moves to larger space

The Bike Commuter in Sellwood is making a big move to a space that’s four times the size of the current shop. Owner Eric Deady says the new location at the corner of SE 17th and Clatsop will allow him to expand into more of a “loungey and comfortable” vibe. With a liquor license on the way, beer will be a new addition to the mix as well. This is the third move for The Bike Commuter since they opened in January 2010 on the corner of SE 13th and Umatilla.

Reached by phone today, Deady said moving into a larger space is all part of his grand plan to create more of a gathering space where he can hold clinics and have room for customers to hang out on couches, tables, and chairs. “We’re still a bike shop first and foremost,” he said, “we’re just adding that other component… a more loungey atmosphere, a comfortable place to absorb the culture of what it means to be a bike shop.”

Deady and his crew are doing a major renovation of the new space and he doesn’t expect it to open until September 1st. He’s posting photos of the demolition and construction on the shop’s Facebook page. The Bike Commuter will remain open in its current location until the new space opens.

Moberi Smoothies is coming to West End Bikes

Moberi Smoothies is a local, bike-blended smoothie business that’s on the rise. The company’s latest move is to open its first brick-and-mortar location inside West End Bikes at SW 11th and Stark. West End previously leased out the café space on the eastern side of its shop (that opens onto 11th) to two coffee businesses.

Moberi owner Ryan Carpenter, who already operates smoothie carts on N Mississippi Ave and NW 23rd, says he’s planning a big opening celebration this Saturday (7/26). At the event he’ll have extra bikes for blending smoothies, Polaroid photo ops, and free t-shirts to the first 10 customers who blend their own drinks.

Former Velo Cult employees open Cat Six Bicycles & Repair

Cat Six is a new shop on NE 42nd (at Alberta Ct) that was just opened a few weeks ago by two former employees of Velo Cult.

Jonathan Scarboro and Kirk Bernhardt met while working as mechanics in the uber-popular Hollywood store and they became roommates last August. The way Scarboro tells the story, he and Bernhardt passed by a vacant storefront with a “For Lease” sign on their way into work every day. “We kept talking about what a great place it would be for a bike shop,” he shared via email with us this week. “Right off the Going St/Alberta Ct bicycle byway. In an under-served area with a ton of cyclists. Not too small, not too large -1,500 square feet.”

Six months later Scarboro and Bernhardt’s chatter got more serious and with the space still available they finally picked up a phone and realized the landlord was hoping a bike shop would move in. Not only that, Scarboro says, but when he spoke about it with the 42nd Ave Business Association they said the neighborhood’s second highest priority for that location was a bike shop. “We just kept getting green lights and doors swinging wide open.”

Seeing an opportunity, the two business partners jumped in head first and haven’t looked back since. Right now, they’re focused on repairs and the commuter/family riding market. They plan to expand their offerings next year with gravel/cyclocross bikes and touring gear.

Major online retailer evo set to open eastside retail store

evo, a big name in online retailing in the outdoor industry, is currently refurbishing the old Salvation Army headquarters on SE MLK and Ash into a retail store.

Employee Jordan Sunshine says the new store will include a selection of bike products including complete bikes from Traitor and accessories from Bern, Chrome, Portland Design Works, and others. Sunshine says the bike products are new to their offerings. “We just started diving into bike this month online, in our Seattle store, and it will be in our Portland store,” he said via email. “It is a new category for us and one we have been thinking about for a long time now. Although we are starting off pretty narrow in it, we plan to expand each season into different aspects of bike.”

Follow the construction progress of the new store on the evo blog.

We think bike shops — and their owners and employees — are an essential part of a bike-friendly city, that’s why we’ve covered the local shop beat for many years. For more coverage browse our archives. And if you have any bike shop related news tips, please drop us a line.


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New path link will open in time to greet Sellwood Bridge, County says

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:07
An edited overhead map of the new path (highlighted in orange) along the west side of the Willamette River, with east up and Macadam Avenue along the bottom.
(Map: November 2011 Multnomah County open house, edited by BikePortland)

Noting that the current detour along a narrow Macadam Avenue sidewalk “has some challenges,” Multnomah County says it’ll open its much-improved path along the Willamette River by the time the new Sellwood Bridge is ready next year.

“The conditions there are not great, but it is not our road. Better facilities are coming soon… “
— Mike Pullen, Multnomah County

“We definitely do not want to rely on [the detour] after the new bridge opens, because the new bridge will attract a lot more bicyclists and pedestrians,” county spokesman Mike Pullen wrote in an email Friday.

Pullen noted that once the path is open, it’ll create a vastly improved alternative to biking on the current sidewalk along Macadam, which (as a state highway) is beyond the county’s control. We wrote last week about the many problems with that sidewalk, which for the last year has added quite a bit of bike traffic between the driveway to the Macadam Bay Club floating home community and SW Nevada Street as people are diverted during construction.

Bike users are halfway through a two-year detour from the riverside trail to this sidewalk.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

“The conditions there are not great, but it is not our road,” Pullen wrote. “Better facilities are coming soon in an area that has long needed them.”

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The new Sellwood Bridge, which will have two 12-foot-wide shared-use sidewalks and also use green pavement to mark two 6.5-foot on-street bike lanes, is expected to open “probably in late 2015,” Pullen said.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the county’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee have been urging the county to open the new off-road path in time for the new bridge rather than in late 2016, as the county estimated this spring when it decided to save an estimated $70,000 by not building a temporary bridge for biking and walking.

Early this month, the county said there was a chance to open the path along the haul road by the time the new bridge opens rather than continuing to divert people toward the sidewalk. Pullen’s email confirmed this change of plans.

Part of the current haul road for construction
vehicles will become the new shared riverside path.

“We appreciate the patience of everyone who has been using the detour,” Pullen wrote. “We’ve made safety improvements along the detour and we have some more changes coming this summer (mostly signage and striping).”

As for the new path, Pullen wrote, “the trail will be adjacent to a construction haul road, so we will need to have a good traffic plan in place to keep everyone safe.”


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City’s most underrated bike jump? A driveway near Peninsula Park, Mercury says

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 08:42

We’re maybe a little late to the Portland Mercury’s “Most Underrated” issue, out last week, but it’s a nice twist on the “best of” genre and it has a few interesting details about bikes.

The most intriguing claim, from Merc reporter Dirk VanderHart: Portland’s “most underrated bike jump” is a not-explicitly-identified private driveway on North Ainsworth Street near Peninsula Park. Here’s what he says:

It’s not much to look at, but if you’re pedaling west on N Ainsworth near Peninsula Park, there’ll be a driveway off to your right that’s so choice for the casual jump enthusiast. This driveway gives way to the curb not in the straight, matter-of-fact manner of most. Instead, it swoops up gracefully, exultantly, a miniature launch ramp to add some sweet altitude to your stolid commute. Hit it right, and you can pop over a bed of succulents and correct in time to avoid the tall wooden fence. Hit it wrong, and you’re killing succulents and/or injuring yourself. Bike jumps are awesome; not easy. (Also: This is someone’s home. Don’t mess it up.)

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VanderHart definitely has my number: I have no idea which house he’s talking about but now I want to know. And though I’m not clear on my personal ethics of (not to mention skills for) jumping over other people’s cacti, the item made me wonder what other fun, semi-public bike jumps are just off the treaded path.

Other bike-related items in the Mercury’s “most underrated” list include the Burnside Bridge (totally agree!) and Metropolis Cycle Repair at 2249 N Williams Ave. (sure!).


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City drops 84 bike parking spaces into East Portland parking lots

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 14:54
The city created a process for East Portland businesses to request free bike staples in exchange for dedicating space in their parking lots and maintaining the racks.
(Photos by David Hampsten)

Portland may have just cracked a very important puzzle: How can the public provide convenient bike parking in neighborhoods where the front door of a business is half a football field away from the sidewalk?

The city just wrapped up a project that bought metal bike racks in bulk and donated them to interested businesses, who in turn agreed to maintain the racks along with the rest of their private parking lots.

The city council had to pass a special exception in its bike code to do it, but the result will be a major convenience upgrade for patrons of the 12 businesses that are getting these new corrals. In our week reporting from East Portland last month, Jonathan and I noticed the huge shortage of bike parking east of Interstate 205, which surely reduces biking rates and increases bike theft. Here’s the city’s Google Map of the destinations that have just received new bike staples or corrals:

“East Portlanders had long flagged the lack of bicycle parking as one of the barriers to meeting daily needs by bike,” the city wrote in its article about the project, published Monday.

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After the city council changed its code to allow the public to donate bike racks to private businesses, “East Portland community activists then helped identify potential locations and PBOT staff worked to secure business and property owner agreements.”

Most of the money for the racks and negotiations were paid for by the East Portland Action Plan after being called for by East Portland in Motion, a work plan identified by neighborhood leaders and the city to make biking and walking easier in these neighborhoods that were developed with only cars in mind.

Here’s the catch: the process of getting all the necessary parties to sign off on these corrals — business managers, business owners, property managers, property owners and everyone’s lawyers — was so complicated that the city is unlikely to install any more racks unless businesses or residents do much of that legwork themselves in the future.

“We’re seeing this as a completed project for now,” Portland Bureau of Transportation bike parking specialist Scott Cohen said. “I had to work pretty hard to find the 12 locations. it wasn’t like people were knocking down my door asking me to do this. … If there’s a ton of business interest and we get a ton of the business community coming back to us asking for these, we’ll look at it again.”

Portland’s on-street bike parking program, surely one of the nation’s best, grew out of a single corral installed on North Mississippi Avenue. Nearby businesses saw the benefits, asked for their own and the common-sense idea spread. Whether the same process can repeat in a different environment will, at least for now, be up to East Portland retailers and biking advocates.


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Woman arrested after hit-and-run injures two riders on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 14:39
Intersection of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and 50th.

The Portland Police Bureau have arrested a woman who drove her car into two people that were bicycling on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway Saturday night.

30-year-old Jasmine Zamora and 25-year-old Cameron Duff were riding home from a track race at at Alpenrose Dairy when the collision occurred. Zamora is active in the local track racing scene. She had won the Women’s Pursuit race at the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge on Friday.

Zamora and Duff were traveling west east on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway between 50th and 45th (we have conflicting reports on the exact intersection) when 32-year-old Lisa Lynn Vesely drove her car into them then drove away without stopping.

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Zamora was riding behind Duff and suffered the worst injuries. She was taken to OHSU and treated for “non-life-threatening” injuries while Duff was treated at treated at the scene for cuts and scrapes. A friend of Zamora’s, who contacted us via email, reported that luckily she suffered no broken bones but “she’s still very rattled.”

According the riders’ friend, Zamora and Duff were operating their bicycles legally prior to the collision. “They were well inside an established bike lane, and had every right to be there.” The friend rolled up on the scene 10 minutes after it happened.

According to a PPB statement released a few minutes ago, Duff and a witness told police that Vesely drove back by the crash scene, then sped away again before police got there. Luckily, someone followed her home.

Here’s more from the statement:

“A witness later flagged down police and told officers that they followed the suspect vehicle to a residence in the 5700 block of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.

Officers responded to that location, seized the vehicle and, after additional investigation, arrested Vesely for the hit and run crash.”

Vesely was arrested shortly after 10:00 pm and booked in jail on charges of Assault in the Third Degree, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver, and two counts of Reckless Endangerment.

Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy has buffered bike lanes in this location. They were installed in December 2013 as part of PBOT’s High Crash Corridor program.

This case has been forwarded to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office where remains under investigation.


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Cargo bikes, community win the day at Disaster Relief Trials

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:28
Competitors Ryan Hashagen (R) and Michael Jones work together to lift a loaded cargo bike over one of the many obstacles on the course.
(Photos by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“I help you, you help me!”

Those aren’t the words you expect to hear during a competitive cycling event. But when the event — the third annual Disaster Relief Trials — is based around a mock disaster and the competitors are piloting 150 pounds or more of bike and cargo on a challenging, 35-mile course, teamwork takes priority over individual gain.

Riders had to get
signed-off at each checkpoint.

Around 40 riders took part in the DRT on Saturday. There were three classes of riders: The “replenish” class was billed as family friendly and participants were required to carry one other person (most opted for a young child). The “open” and “e-bike” classes were more competitive and had to tackle a longer, more challenging course.

The premise was that riders were responding to a major disaster, such as an earthquake, where trains, buses, and cars will have been rendered useless. Roads and bridges will have crumbled. Gasoline might be gone or in very short supply. Bicycles — especially ones with carrying capacity — will be the last vehicles standing.

Prior to the start, each competitor was given a map and manifest. Their mission was to leave from home base (an emergency response command center set up in the parking lot of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) and successfully navigate a variety of checkpoints. Open and e-bike class riders went as far south as Sellwood Riverfront Park, east to Sewellcrest Park (SE 32nd and Lincoln) and north to University of Portland and the Oregon Food Bank (NE 33rd and Columbia).

The checkpoints were more than a test of cycling skills. They tested each riders’ agility, sense of direction, creativity, patience, and will.

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After filling five-gallon buckets with water (weighing about 45 pounds) from the Willamette River near the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge, the riders rolled south to Sellwood Park. Then it was north to Sewellcrest Park where things got interesting. For the remainder of the ride, the competitors would have to deal with a full-size pallet attached to their bikes. This awkward item was a test of packing skills. Some placed it flat on the front of their bikes, others tilted it vertically and strapped it to the side.

Eventual winner Willy Hatfield in Sewellcrest Park. Open class riders at a water stop. Chris Manuel opts to lighten his bike by removing the water buckets prior to lifting it over the railing. Todd Hudson straps down his pallet. Lucas Strain (R) and Alexander Hongo make quick work of a barrier. Lucas Strain, Ryan Hashagen, and Alexander Hongo at checkpoint 3.

Once the pallet was strapped on, they had to lift it — and their bikes — over a three-foot railing. This created a bottleneck of riders at checkpoint 3 who barked instructions to each other in order to time their lifts. Once the bikes were over the obstacle, the riders hammered on their pedals to the next checkpoint — an industrial facility at N Cook and Mississippi.

Mark Ginsberg guts out a lift. Al Hongo and Ryan Hashagen (R). Five riders working together. Tyler Arana’s delivery trike was difficult to lift.

This is where navigation proved invaluable. Several riders lost major time due to wrong turns and other navigation mistakes. Alexander Hongo and Lucas Strain came up from Eugene hoping to deliver an upset to the locals. But while riding north on Williams they missed the left turn on Fremont. By the time I saw them back at the finish line, Lucas said the mistake cost them several extra miles.

Here are some photos of the speedy riding between checkpoints 3 and 4…

Taking the lanes on Hawthorne. Coming up Williams Ave. Tyler Arana (from Eugene) delivers newspapers for the Daily Emerald on the University of Oregon campus. Despite the difficulties of the course he was having a great time.

A few scenes from checkpoint 4…

Jodi Schoenen (L) and Kathleen Youell doing their best to stave off the heat. Zak Schwank Jodi Schoenen Kathleen, Jodi, and Zak Schwank rode together in the replenish class. E-bike rider Abraham Sutfin straps on the plank as FEMA volunteers look on. And he’s off! Bill Stites and his Truck Trike.

By the time the riders reached the “Dirt” checkpoint on N Willamette Blvd, they had about 18 miles in their legs, a pallet, an eight-foot long 2 X 6 plank, and two full buckets of water on their bikes. And then it was time to tackle what many of them said was the hardest part of the entire course: a slippery singletrack trail and dirt hillclimb. The off-road section was hot and unforgiving on both riders and their bikes.

John Howe walks his bike carefully down the trail. Lucas Strain riding the brakes before the tricky corner. Bike Friday founder Alan Scholz had to repack after crashing on the downhill. Chris Manuel grits his teeth as he looses track on the climb. Tyler Arana pushes through the hot brush. Robert Cyders struggled on the downhill trail, but eventually regained his footing. He was later disqualified for completing the checkpoints out of order. Tim Peters re-checks his load after the descent. As hard as it looks. Eventual e-bike class winner Sterling McCord hummed up the climb.

From there it was on to the last three checkpoints where the riders had to pull a victim in a sled behind their bikes, pick up a box of perishable food, and then take on four eggs — without breaking them — all the way back to the finish at OMSI.

While we waited at base camp for the riders to finish, the Cascadia Cargo Bike Fair was in full swing…

Master cargo bike builder Tom Labonty was there with his latest creation: A cargo bike with blender, storage bins, and a hot water heater/sink attached. Tom created a two-way drive system. Pedal forward to ride the bike, pedal backward to operate the blender. Lemonade stand from Phil at Metrofiets. This family rig was designed by Seth Burke (and welded by Tom Labonty). Splendid Cycles co-owner Joel Grover was a sponsor of the event. Portland’s “Builder by Bike” Chris Sanderson. Fred King and his daughter Maya. Filmmaker, publisher Joe Biel from Microcosm Publishing. Paul Johnson from Blaq design loaded up with his booth and a spare bike! Test ride of the awesome Urban Arrow from Clever Cycles.

The first person to cross the line was Willy Hatfield with a time of three hours and eleven minutes. Hatfield is an engineer with Bike Friday and was riding a custom bike he designed specifically for the DRT (based loosely on the company’s “Haul-a-Day” model). Despite his unconventional bike and the fact that he admitted, “Nothing went to plan,” Hatfield got off to an early lead, chose good routes, and took home the victory.

Willy could barely pedal due to how the wood was strapped to his bike.

In the e-bike class, Bend resident Sterling McCord finished first with a time of two hours and 25 minutes. The owner of Bend Electric Bikes, McCord rode a Bullitt “long John”-style cargo bike that he outfitted with an electric motor he assembled from secret parts.

Sterling McCord. The winning e-bike.

Other finishers might not have been as fast, but this event isn’t about speed.

Tessa Walker rolled across several hours after the winners on her homemade, three-speed bike. “Amazing, ridiculous, awesome,” was how she described the experience to me. “The hardest part was when I realized it was just me, a pallet, and 40 pounds of water on some random street in Portland.”

Tessa Walker Ryan Hashagen competed on an old road bike and nearly won, despite spilling his load at the finish. Abe Sutfin competed on the TiCycles “Cargo-away” show bike. He was a close second, but had time added on after breaking several of his eggs. Michael Jones getting his eggs checked by course marshall Carrie Folz. Kath Youell gets a supportive hug from friend Katie Proctor. Bike Friday founder Alan Scholz. Joyanna Eisenberg happy to be finished.

And then there was Cory Poole on a skateboard pulling a cargo trailer he built himself. It took him five hours and 11 minutes; but he got through every checkpoint and finished with the largest smile and the loudest ovation of the day.

Cory Poole, skateboarder.

Having proved the utilitarian prowess of cargo bikes, the organizers and riders attended a well-deserved afterparty at Islabikes in southeast Portland. The event featured an indoor bike track and entertainment from Dingo the Clown and Olive Rootbeer for the kids, and cold beverages for the adults.

One of DRT’s founders and (one of many) organizers Ethan Jewett. Cargo bike celebrity Emily Finch at the afterparty. Olive and Dingo. Well done Ethan, William Ruehle, Emily Finch, Kellie Jewett, Travis Wittwer, Sarah Gilbert (Fiets of Parenthood), Anita Dilles, and all the other organizers and volunteers who made this event so awesome.

We’ve got lots more photos from the event over on Flickr. For more on the DRT, check out their website and follow them on Facebook.


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The Monday Roundup: Unshared Citi Bike, opera bike tour and more

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 08:06
Clever, but not smart.
(Photo: John Marsh via Gothamist)

The bike links from around the world that caught our eyes were particularly rich and interesting this week.

Bike share minus sharing: You will get in trouble if you do this to your favorite Citi Bike.

Opera on bikes: Start this CBC radio report at 24:44 to hear the story of The Bicycle Opera Project, a cast of opera singers in Ontario who travel 50 miles a day by bike, with their set, props and instruments in two bike trailers, and then perform to sold-out audiences. “There’s no room for divas. … You have to be okay with changing a flat tire.”

A (Republican) mayor that bikes: Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, “embraces cycling as part of community outreach.” And it’s such a big deal that it was covered by the New York Times.

Bike outrage bingo: People of Earth: please consult this cycling-in-the-news bingo card before your next web comment and/or opinion column related to bicycling.

Bikes and poverty: “Cycling just isn’t popular among the urban poor (yet),” write the leaders of a survey of 260 residents of two mostly African-American wards in DC. “In 2012, respondents ranked cycling seventh out of nine transport modes, ahead of only taxis and bike sharing.”

Elevation mapping: Cross-sections have been added to bike route finding in the new Google Maps, at least for Android.

Unscientific regulation: “Over the decade in which 19 people were killed in crashes for which a sticky Toyota pedal was identified as one factor, 419,483 people died on the roads of the United States,” writes an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health, arguing that our legal system has led to a misguided fixation on vehicle malfunctions.

Heat-vision stoplights: Thermal detectors could replace in-street induction loops as the go-to way to detect (and count) people waiting at red lights on bikes.

Bike share shortage: Alta Bicycle Share’s affiliates around the world haven’t received a new shipment of new bikes since the bankruptcy of their supplier last year. It’s blocking not only Portland’s bike share plans but expansion of Chicago’s.

Urban cargo tipping point? A Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn has switched from vans to electric-assist cargo bikes for some deliveries.

Automated cars and sprawl: “U.S. history shows that any time you make driving easier, there seems to be this inexhaustible desire to live further from things,” says Toyota’s top scientist on self-driving cars.

Automated cops: As cameras take over red-light and speeding enforcement duties in D.C., some worry that other violations — distracted driving, reckless biking — are going unpunished. Portland, with its dedicated traffic-enforcement team, is cited as a model.

Counting violations: In Milwaukee, bike-count volunteers are now tracking traffic violations by people on bikes, too, and finding that violation rates are no worse than for people in cars.

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Pro-bike product labeling: What if there were “This product was delivered by a bicycle” labels? asks Seattle Bike Blog.

Bike microclimates: “Rather than the Dutch bakfiets or the Danish cargo trike, the bike that’s taking hold among New York City parents seems to be the longtail.”

Gas tax drumbeat: The House just approved a “sad excuse for a highway funding bill” that “pays for building projects through a series of budget gimmicks” and will only last 10 months, says an NYT editorial calling for a gas tax hike.

Waterfront bike lanes: After a successful trial last year (TV reporter: “So far, it seems to be working, and that has critics concerned”), San Francisco is proposing protected bike lanes along 1 mile of the Embarcadero.

Anti-pricing billionaire: Napster/Facebook billionaire Sean Parker is a major donor to a San Francisco ballot initiative that would “restore transportation balance” by freezing parking meter hours and prices.

Bike lanes vs. “safety”: A Los Angeles councilman says he’s blocking installation of bike lanes on a major street in his district because he doesn’t want the street to become less safe.

Brooklyn’s pump track: Looks pretty sweet.

A few Portland intersections pop up in your video of the week, a look at the nation’s rising street mural movement:

Audio Slide Show: Local Color from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.

If you come across a noteworthy bicycle story, send it in via email, Tweet @bikeportland, or whatever else and we’ll consider adding it to next Monday’s roundup.


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Comment of the week: A close look at street fee alternatives

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 15:20

Today’s BikePortland comments, tomorrow’s news.

Reader MaxD’s Tuesday afternoon comment looking closely at the stated goals and options for the city’s per-household and per-business street fee plan didn’t hit on the same alternatives Commissioner Steve Novick’s office turned out to be looking at, but his detailed analysis anticipated them.

Here’s what MaxD wrote:

If the purpose of the Street Fee is to maintain roads and increase safety, then the causes of damage and threats to safety must be identified, and strategies for mitigating these must be considered. In my opinion, there are many synergistic ways to approach this problem that reduce damage and minimize threats while raising money.
Causes of road damage
1. Heavy vehicles
2. Studded tires
3. Slow-moving turns
4. Rain

Threats to safety
1. Speeding
2. Distracted drivers
3. Drunk drivers
4. Road rage
5. Unsafe intersections or lack of traffic control/lighting
6. Unsafe lane allocations/traffic control; not enough space or instruction for all users

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Potential sources of funding for maintenance
1. Local Gas Tax tied to inflation; simple to administer.
2. Parking: increase meter fees, expand collection times, expand metered areas, raise fees for permits, and expand permit areas.
3. Tax surface parking lots to raise fees or encourage redevelopment.
4. Add fees to vehicle registration based on vehicle weight; more weight = higher fee.
5. Massive surcharge to use studded tires.
6. Work with legislators to get speed/red light cameras, and spread throughout City.
7. Work with judges to stop reducing fines for traffic violations, and increase fines (double or triple)

Ways to increase safety that does not cost or raise money
1. Get rid of “beg buttons” throughout the City; allow pedestrians to cross at every signal and every phase.
2. Eliminate traffic movements on red signals to encourage drivers to wait before the stop bars and protect pedestrians
3. Eliminate slip lanes and on- and off-ramps at all local bridges forcing traffic to use the street grid to navigate.
4. Remove lanes from the bridges and convert to bike lanes. Bridges are used as speedways now, and bikes and pedestrians are forced to share sidewalks. Slow traffic on bridges and create safe, comfortable ways to cross the rivers.
5. Resist highway expansion within City limits that will lead to increased air pollution in urban neighborhoods.
6. Provide crosswalks at the foot of each bridge
7. Remove on-street parking to close the many gaps in the City’s bikeways.
8. Start a City-wide, monthly street-sweeping program. Tow and fine all cars in the way to help offset any costs. This would remove disabled vehicles, create streets better suited to pedestrians and bikes, and protect our rivers from harmful pollutants.

Reasons not to employ the Street Fee
1. Regressive tax: adds a disproportionate burden on poorer citizens and low-car households.
2. Potential net loss for PBOT’s budget: With a funding stream for PBOT, the City’s general fund could allocate less to PBOT, The Street Fee becomes a larger percentage of the budget, other projects get prioritized, safety needs remain unmet, and we are back to square one.
3. The Street Fee encourages sprawl by not actually being a user fee (suburban subsidy!)
4. Unhelpfully double-taxes schools, parks, TriMET, other bureaus; this is counter-productive and a waste of administrative resources and public money.
5. Does not charge daily commuters from suburbs or freight-haulers. These are necessary for Portland, put they place a huge burden on our infrastructure and they should pay instead of getting subsidized.

Motorized vehicles cause the damage and pose the threats to safety. The City has everything it needs to improve safety today by slowing traffic and increasing enforcement. New revenue streams for transportation must target street users and reward alternative transportation, fewer trips and smaller vehicles. With population forecasts of hundreds of thousands of new Citizens in the next 20 years, it is incumbent on the City now to create policy that supports alternative transportation and discourages Single-Occupant Vehicle trips within Portland. The Street Fee is a step back in Portland’s trajectory of good Urban Planning because it supports and subsidizes personal automobile use. The consideration to decrease the spending on safety is moving this conversation even farther in the wrong direction.

It’d certainly be possible to rebut many of MaxD’s points here — asking a school to pay the costs of its operation isn’t the same as “double-taxing”; several of these would require state action rather than local — but his basic point that there are more ways that one to skin a cat, is pretty powerful.

As Novick considers a local income tax, or at least threatens business executives with one, let’s hope he’s also hearing critiques as thorough as MaxD’s.


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Day 4 with Treo Bike Tours: A taste of gravel (and more)

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 11:53
It was finally time to hit the gravel. This is Courtney Martin and Jenn Dederich cresting a climb on Hale Ridge Road with the Blue Mountains in the background.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is our final post in a series on riding in eastern Oregon with the support of Treo Bike Tours. See the other posts here.

The group’s final day of riding in eastern Oregon was filled with mixed emotions. It was the first taste of gravel road riding for some people, it included a fast, curvy descent, and it’s conclusion meant a return to work, routines, and the end of a magical four days.

Treo’s ranch in Heppner, Oregon is situated among a veritable goldmine of gravel roads. Not only are their a seemingly infinite number of unpaved loops and route options, the gravel roads are in great shape compared to other places in Oregon that see active logging and other uses. It’s first-class gravel. In fact, many of the miles are actually mostly dirt with a few small bits of gravel thrown in to keep you honest.

But for roadies new to off-pavement riding, the mere thought of riding gravel is a enough to make the palms sweat. In the case of the group I was with last weekend, several of them brought a separate, beefier bike to use for the last day (which was no problem thanks to getting picked up by the Treo bus and trailer which can fit plenty of spare bikes).

I was looking forward to this day because it was the only day of the trip where we didn’t drive to a starting point. There’s something special about riding from the ranch. I love climbing out of the valley and watching the Carlsons’ ranch fade away while savoring the adventures we’ve had and the final one that lies ahead.

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Our plan for the day was to ride from the Treo ranch to Condon — about a 40 mile journey that included 15 miles of gravel on Hale Ridge Road, a stop at a vacant homestead, one spectacular downhill, a serious climb (out of Rock Creek), and then a final few miles on Wasco-Heppner Highway through Condon’s iconic wheat fields just as they reached their pre-harvest peak.

Check out more photos and notes from the road…

The gravel roads around Treo are the smoothest, kindest, and fastest I’ve ever ridden. Flat? No problem with the rolling support vehicle close behind! This was Mike Bernard’s first ride on gravel. Now he’s hooked. We spent a while exploring a deserted home and barn structures. When we reached the paved highway, a few folks were sad to be done with the gravel. Oh baby!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. It’s just a taste of the riding adventures that eastern Oregon offers. In particular, I’m really excited about what Phil and Cathy Carlson have created at Treo Bike Tours. In just two short years, they’ve developed something very special. In a very remote area with few services for bike riders, Treo now offers a level of support and hospitality that is unmatched in Oregon. The addition of the shuttle bus and his corporate packages is a game-changer in my opinion that raises the bar for other bicycle tourism businesses throughout the state. Don’t think of it as simply a “sag wagon,” the Treo bus allows folks to hop-on-hop-off whenever they’d like. That means, if you someone in your group isn’t as strong or daring, or simply wants to take a break, they can hop in the bus for a few minutes or a few miles and then get back out and ride when they feel better.

The other big addition to Treo’s arsenal is the development of educational experiences that complement the day’s riding. On this trip, Phil introduced us to the wonders of ancient geology, the hardships on the Oregon Trail, and the story of how agriculture and industry has shaped this region. Riding a bike immerses you into places in a way that driving simply can’t. Get a deeper understanding of what you’re riding through and it amplifies the experience.

Phil Carlson (who also runs a successful bird hunting business), has taken a huge gamble on bicycle tourism and I’m confident it’s going to pay off for him, for his customers, and for Oregon. Thanks Phil! Can’t wait to get back out there soon.

Phil Carlson

— See more at our “Treo Bike Tours” story tag. For more on Treo’s corporate packages see their website.

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Pioneer Square parking lot and thoughts on a parking reform renaissance

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:28

Pre-1984 view of Pioneer Square! (photo via @pdxdevelopment) #pdx

— Supportland (@supportland) July 18, 2014

Prior to 1984, the public plaza known as “Portland’s living room,” was full of cars. Believe it or not, Pioneer Courthouse Square used to be a parking lot (and before that it was a regal hotel).

That fact isn’t new to many of you who study urban planning and transportation in Portland. I’ve heard about it for years. But until an aerial photo of it turned up on Twitter last night, that history never really sank in. The photo above was dug up by the Portland Development Commission and then tweeted out by Supportland.

30 years after that transformation, auto parking issues are still front-and-center in many of our conversations. In fact, Portland might be on the verge of a parking reform renaissance thanks to support for progressive ideas on the issue from the two most powerful in local transportation planning: PBOT Director Leah Treat and PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick.

Novick has already taken steps in the right direction. As an Oregonian story published this week points out, Novick’s alteration of the city’s disabled parking placard program has been a huge success.

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PBOT’s Leah Treat is also a big fan of getting smarter about downtown auto parking. In an interview with BikePortland back in April she said she wants overhaul parking citywide. “Where demand exceeds supply,” said Treat, “we should have policy in place to allow us to properly value that right-of-way — residential parking permits, valet parking zones, congestion pricing, commercial loading zone permits, and so on.”

“I’m still constantly surprised by the lack of priced parking and how much free parking storage we give away.”
— Leah Treat, Director of PBOT

Why is Treat such a fan of parking policy change? Because she understands how valuable the city’s real estate is: “I’ve been here 9 months and I’m still constantly surprised by the lack of priced parking and how much free parking storage we give away.”

According a recent tweet, Treat says the city is actively working on parking reform, but that any significant changes will come only as part of a larger planning process.

Thinking back to Pioneer Square, while its current design is vastly improved over its initial use, it could still be better.

We like the ideas of local architect and transportation visionary Rick Potestio. Here’s what he shared in a 2006 interview on the Portland Architecture blog (emphasis ours):

“… place both north and south bound trains on Sixth Avenue, and send the trains below grade for three blocks from Alder Street to Taylor Street. Place a transit station under Pioneer Square. Close Sixth Avenue to all bus and auto traffic between Alder and Taylor, creating widened sidewalks along glass pavilions that shelter the descending and ascending tracks and trains. This would enable one to connect Pioneer Square directly to the Pioneer Courthouse, creating a unified, two block long public space. This act would justify a renovation to Pioneer Square that would re-orient the square on an un-obstructed view of the Pioneer Courthouse.”

That’s some fun food for thought for the weekend.


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Portland’s worst bike detour will be around for at least one more year

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 09:19
Of all the problems with the sidewalk along SW Macadam that’s served as a detour for part of the Willamette Greenway for the last year, this might be the silliest.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A 0.7-mile bike detour between Willamette Park and the west landing of the Sellwood Bridge that steers people from a riverside trail to an unbuffered sidewalk along a four-lane state highway will probably stick around until late 2015, county communications show.

But at least the route, which includes several long street-facing curb cuts, a narrow dip into a ditch and various lightposts in the middle of the sidewalk, may not stay in use as long as project managers had until recently planned, thanks to pressure from biking and walking advocates.

Looking south, with SW Macadam Avenue on the right and the old Sellwood Bridge in the background.

Here’s the route, which takes people up from the riverside path onto the east sidewalk of Macadam.

County detour map. – Download PDF -

As costs piled up on its $308 million Sellwood Bridge project, Multnomah County decided this spring to save $70,000 by scrapping plans for a temporary walking and biking bridge across Stephens Creek, just north of the bridge landing on the west bank of the Willamette River. As the county noted in its explanation for the decision, the 70-foot-long bridge would have required environmental permits for in-water work and been in use for only three to six months.

The catch, however, is that the new path between Waterfront Park and the bridge (which will, it’s worth noting, be awesome) won’t be built until 2016. The beautiful, bike-friendly new Sellwood Bridge will open in late 2015.

As Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocate Carl Larson put it, “Picture the grand opening of the new Sellwood Bridge: throngs of people walking and biking, excited to cross the new bridge, only to be dumped onto this.”

Embarrassing photo ops aside, the detour is a daily route for many bicycle riders (as you might recall from our ride-along with a Sellwood family back in May), and will continue to be for at least another year, maybe two. Note that each of the photos below comes from a different point along the route, with bike traffic headed in both directions. They’re from between 6:10 and 6:40 p.m. on Thursday.

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Larson and members of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee have been pushing for, if not a temporary bridge, some other solution that will end the detour sooner.

According to a letter from Sellwood Bridge Project spokesman Mike Pullen, forwarded by Larson, committee members floated these ideas (emphasis mine):

  • Converting a northbound lane of Hwy. 43 to a bike lane
  • Narrowing the two northbound lanes of Hwy. 43 to create a bike lane
  • Widening the sidewalk
  • Add zebra crosswalk striping in driveway
  • Shift detour route to haul road
The vehicle traffic counts and merge zones on Hwy. 43 [editor's note: Macadam] eliminated the first three suggestions.  PBOT recommended re-striping the stop line in the driveway instead of the zebra stripes. The committee’s suggestion to shift the detour route onto the haul road/new regional trail as soon as possible does have support from PBOT and the project team.  We are working on a plan to shift the detour onto the new regional trail as soon as the new bridge opens in late 2015.  The bridge that will carry the trail under the west end of the new bridge will not be completed in 2015, but we do think it is possible to open the trail to the north of the bridge at that time.

Here’s the “haul road” that will presumably become the future regional trail, currently in gravel and fenced off at both ends. The metal culvert visible at left carries Stephens Creek into the Willamette.

Until this connection opens, be it in 2015 or 2016, don’t expect the comparatively tiny number of Portlanders who use bikes to get between Southwest Portland and the rest of the city to change. Here’s the best news for people on bikes, though: after it does, they probably won’t have to roll on this sidewalk again. People in wheelchairs won’t be so lucky.


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Jobs of the Week

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 08:37

Four great job opportunities have been posted to our listings this week.

Check out all them 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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Day 3 with Treo Bike Tours: Hardman to the Columbia River

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 21:47
Mike Bernard rides in the mirage just a few miles south of the Columbia River on Highway 74.

This is the third in a series of four posts on riding in eastern Oregon with the support of Treo Bike Tours. See the other posts here.

Perspective is everything in life. Bicycling through the canyons of Morrow County in eastern Oregon in summer heat can feel difficult at times; but when you consider the experience of pioneers on the Oregon Trail it seems downright easy.

On day three of our trip with Treo Bike Tours we continued our educational tour with a focus on that famous east-west route once traversed by families on wagons with wooden wheels.

The group rolled north of Hardman via Rhea Creek Road, made a stop in the small town of Ione (where Treo owner Phil Carlson went to high school), then continued north on Heppner Highway along Willow Creek to the Columbia River Gorge. Along the way we made a stop in Cecil, known to Oregon Trail users as Willow Creek Campground.

Nestled in the foothills of Willow Creek Canyon, the Cecil Store — a re-supply stop on the Oregon Trail — still stands.

According to local history, as told to us by Carlson, in 1862 William and Mary Cecil’s wagon broke down at a nearby spring and they camped at Willow Creek. William ended up staying and becoming a wagon mechanic. He later built a store that still stands today. With keys from current owner Maureen Krebs (a descendent of homesteaders who have farmed this valley since the 1800s) we got to go inside the store, which has much of its interior still intact.

A mile or so north of Cecil we crossed the Oregon Trail itself. No sign of the wagon wheel tracks remain near the highway (apparently you have to go about 15 miles into the valley on a dirt road to see those), but we still stopped and paused at a roadside memorial that marked the old campground.

Our own adventure continued north to the Columbia River Gorge, where — after a grit-your-teeth climb — we were met by the Treo bus which was waiting for us with cold drinks and wet towels at the junction of I-84. From there, Carlson drove us east to Boardman where we visited the new SAGE Center, a very cool agricultural museum that highlights Morrow County’s food processing and farming industries.

Check out more photos and notes below…

All smiles as the group rolled out of Hardman. <\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
Rolling down toward Ruggs en route to Rhea Creek Road. Rhea Creek Road north of Ruggs. Ione is hard to miss with its several large installations of grain elevators. Now defunct, these old grain elevators sit on the west end of Ione as a reminder of earlier, busier times. The city park in Ione is a well-kept gem that makes for a great rest stop. Leaving Ione on Heppner Hwy. Cecil was a popular stop for pioneers on the Oregon Trail and the Krebs family still lives and farms the ranch. The group sits outside the old Cecil Store, built in 1909 (after the original burned down in 1899). We are here. We knew the Columbia River was close when we saw the windmills. Jered grimaces through the big climb of the day out of the valley and into the Gorge… And it was all worth it! (Those hills in the background are in Washington.) After the ride it was time to test shooting skills at the Treo range. Courtney nailed the target and blew up this propane tank, sending it a hundred feet into the air. Well-deserved high-fives.

Thanks for following along on our trip with Treo Bike Tours. Tomorrow we’ll wrap things up with the group’s first gravel road experience and one of Oregon’s most spectacular downhills.


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Weekend Event Guide: Disaster relief, bike fair, potluck, mountain biking, and more

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 14:23
The Mazamas are hosting a “Bike & Hike” potluck on Saturday that will include a walk through Smith & Bybee lakes.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

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

The weather is finally cooling off, which means it should be perfect temps for biking this weekend. And wouldn’t you know it, you’ve got some great riding options to choose from.

Friday June 18th

Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge – All weekend at Alpenrose Velodrome (6149 SW Shattuck Rd)
This is the biggest local track event of the year. Records may fall and the racing will be top notch. Athletes will show up from all over the world with racing scheduled Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There’s a $7,500 cash purse and cash awards for record-breaking times. Great spectating too! More info here.

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Saturday June 19th

Bridge of the Gods Ride (PWTC) – 7:30 am at TriMet Park & Ride (9525 NE Sandy Blvd)
The Portland Wheelmen Touring Club is leading an epic ride into Washington via the Bridge the Gods and the Historic Columbia River Highway. Head out and explore this area with some veteran riders who know the route and roads. Distance will be 98-110 miles depending on various options. More info here.

Get Acupuncture and Support the BTA – 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at Shift Wellness (8040 NE Sandy)
The folks at Shift Welness, a bike-friendly (and bike-focused) acupuncture and health clinic have teamed up with the BTA for a fundraiser. They’re offering acupuncture treatments on a sliding scale (starting at $15) with all proceeds from the day going to the BTA. More info here.

Potluck Bike & Hike – 11:30 am at Delta Park MAX Station
Join a younger, offshot group of local hiking club, The Mazamas for a summer potluck. They’ll meet at the MAX station, then ride bikes to Kelley Point Park. Then on the way back to the MAX they’ll stop at Smith & Bybee Lakes for a hike. Easy pace and a free event that’s open to everyone. More info here.

Disaster Relief Trials and Cascadia Cargo Bike Fair – 12:00 to 5:00 pm at OMSI
When the big one hits, bikes will take over. Head out to the 3rd annual DRT to see how bikes will play a role in disaster response duties. Also joining the event this year is the Fiets of Parenthood, a family ride, and a big expo area full of the latest and greatest in cargo bikes. More info here.

MS Bites – 5:00 to 9:00 pm at the Blue Room Bar (Cartlandia on the Springwater, 8145 SE 82nd Ave)
Join Team Amulet and the Oregon Chapter of the National MS Society for a fundraising event to help battle multiple sclerosis. There will be live music, food, a big raffle, and more. More info here.

Sunday June 20th

Rapha Women’s 100k (Portland edition) – 8:00 am at Ristretto (3808 N Wiliams)
Join other local ladies for a ride with over 6,000 others from around the globe as part of the Rapha Women’s 100. Everyone is welcome and the ride will be at a relaxed pace with some sight-seeing thrown in for good measure. Organizers say to bring your swimsuit! More info here (FB)

NW Trail Alliance Sunday Group Ride – 9:00 am at Universal Cycles parking lot (2202 E Burnside)
This week’s ride will head up to the Mollala Trail. The NWTA will offer a ride guide, carpool options, and great company on the trail. The idea behind these rides is to showcase the best riding our region has to offer (within a 1.5 hour drive). More info here.

New Seasons Market Bike Fair – 12:00 to 4:00 pm at the Williams Ave Store
Stop by our favorite local market for fun events and activities while sampling some good food and drinks from invited vendors. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) will also be on hand. Show up to chat about bikes, get your rig fixed, and more. 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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