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Portland Oregon bicycle news, events, culture, travel and opinion.
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Smith Optics to move 35 employees to new Portland office

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 15:36

A significant chunk of global eyewear brand Smith Optics will move to Portland early next year.

After a tipster shared cryptic Facebook messages about the move from Smith employees, we were able to confirm the news via a story posted this afternoon in the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper.

Here’s more from the IME:

Safilo [Smith's parent company] CEO Luisa Delgado came to Ketchum from Italy this week to discuss the results of the location study with Smith employees, local government officials and media, among others. Delgado announced the relocation plans today, Oct. 20.

As part of Smith’s integration within its parent company, it will be controlled out of the global Safilo Group headquarters in Italy.

Delgado said every effort would be made to either relocate or provide a severance package for Smith’s 85 Ketchum-based employees.

Portland, Ore., was selected out of several Western U.S. locations as the new design center for Smith Optics. Some 35 employees will see their Ketchum position transferred to Portland during the first half of 2015.

Smith Optics is well-known is cycling circles for their downhill goggles and cycling-specific eyewear. Earlier this year, Smith expanded deeper into cycling with their Forefront helmet.

The company was founded in 1965 and has been based in Idaho ever since.

Stay tuned for more details as plans for the Portland-based office firm up.

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Why Portland needs stronger design standards for construction zones

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:16
A construction project is currently blocking that entire right lane where all the bicycle riders are, forcing people into a mixed-zone environment with only humans as traffic calming measures.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

What a difference a few days can make.

On October 8th I tweeted with glee at how a Portland Water Bureau crew maintained a dedicated bicycle lane on NW Broadway and Hoyt during a major sidewalk construction project.

Now THAT is how u do a construction zone.. Thank u @portlandwater ! pic.twitter.com/xvzNXpZz72

— Jonathan Maus (@BikePortland) October 8, 2014

Unfortunately, today that temporary bikeway is completely gone. Instead, there are two standard lanes with nothing more than “Bicycles in Roadway” and “Bike lane closed” signage a half-block prior to the intersection. Here’s the very unfortunate situation that exists now:

Heading south into downtown on Broadway through NW Hoyt intersection this morning. <\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
Not befitting of a great cycling city.

What happened?

As we pointed out last year, this section of Broadway sees some of the highest volumes of bicycle traffic anywhere in the city. In fact, there was so much bicycle congestion here that the Bureau of Transportation redesigned the bikeway to make it wider.

So, to have a city crew come in and create a situation where there’s zero dedicated space for bicycles is a bit troubling — especially after initially getting it right.

It seems clear that this is just another example of how the city needs more stringent standards for how construction crews sign their project zones. It should be spelled out clearly on all project permits that if a dedicated bicycle route exists, the project must maintain an equal or greater level of access, or a fully-signed and reasonable detour should be implemented. Failure to do this should result in fines and/or a revocation of the permit until bicycle access is restored. That seems like a reasonable approach from a city transportation department whose leader is committed to Vision Zero.

At last check, the BTA was looking into this issue. With all the construction going on in this town, hopefully it’s still on their radar, and hopefully PBOT and other agencies that work on our streets are paying attention.

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Cross Crusade #3 recap: Photos, drone footage and mishaps

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:33
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Race #3 of the River City Bicycles Cross Crusade is in the books. After a double-header opening weekend at Alpenrose Dairy, the series continued in fine style with a turnout of 1,277 racers at Portland International Raceway yesterday.

The “Heron Lakes” course was flat and fast, not to mention unseasonably dry. And, unlike most Crusade courses, there was very little dismounting. In a fun twist from previous years, the Crusaders made the barriers on the famous run-up only half-tall in order to entice riders to bunny-hop them. It was a tricky maneuver to do well, especially in the heat of racing, and the vast majority of racers opted to run up.

I went out on Saturday to pre-ride the course and caught this unlucky fella giving it a try (sorry for the low quality, it’s from my phone)…

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Our friend Matt Haughey was out there too, and got this video of another rider showing how it’s done…

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I couldn’t do it nearly as smooth as the guy above, so I opted to run each time. I saved my barrier problems for the other infamous place on this course — the big cement block tabletop.

Drone master and Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director Kenji Sugahara shared some excellent aerial video of the race (below). At about the 1:19 mark you can see my front wheel hit the leading edge of the cement block and everything goes goofy. Luckily, I recovered.

Here’s the still from Kenji’s video showing moment of impact…

And the fun video…

2014 Cross Crusade Heron Lakes from Dronescape Media Consulting on Vimeo.

I didn’t shoot too many photos, but here are a few more of what I got just to give you a sense of what it was like out there.

I think everyone was surprised at how warm and sunny it was. First lap scrum at the uphill barriers. ‘Cross always delivers the best faces. This guy is truly doing battle with the course. One of several tricky off-camber sections. Like I said, tricky. The Crusade brings it all together.

We are very lucky here in Portland to have such a quality race series to participate in. Thank you OBRA and the entire Cross Crusade crew! Stay tuned for a preview of this weekend’s big Tailgator competition at race #4 out in Hillsboro.

— BikePortland’s 2014 cyclocross coverage is sponsored by Sellwood Cycle Repair.

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Bomb squad disarms tripwire device found on trail near Forest Park – UDPATED

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:15
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Police called in the bomb squad Saturday night to disarm an explosive device connected to a tripwire strung across a trail that leads into Forest Park.

According to a statement released this morning by the PPB, the tripwire was strung across Firelane 3, a wooded and overgrown old fire access road located east of NW Thompson Rd and accessible via Skyline Road from Thunder Crest Drive. Firelane 3 is open to bicycling and walking.

Here’s more from the PPB:

The device was an improvised firearm with a pipe loaded with a shotgun shell. The device was connected to a tripwire across the trail. The tripwire was slack and it appeared that it had been tripped and the device was inoperable.

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The PPB have taken in the device as evidence and are conducting interviews with local residents. The police say there have been no other reports of similar devices and “it is unclear why someone would place this device on what is believed to be a well-used trail by hikers, bikers and equestrians.”

The PPB is urging anyone with information about this incident or device is asked to contact the bureau’s Gun Task Force at (503) 823-4106 or guntaskforce@portlandoregon.gov.

UPDATE, 2:30 pm:

We learned via The Oregonian that the tripwire was found by Mike Colbach, a Portland attorney whose law office happens to be a large supporter of bike racing via the BicycleAttorney.com Cycling Team. I just talked to Mike on the phone to learn a bit more about the situation.

Colbach said he and his wife discovered the paracord across the trail on Thursday afternoon around 3:30 pm.

“This has nothing to do with bikes as far as I know,” he said. “This whole thing is just some weird stuff.”

Colbach said, judging by the way the cord was set up, a bicycle could have actually rolled downhill over it and nothing would have happened. The trail where it was found is not a popular access point to Forest Park. It’s not even marked from the main road (Skyline) and it’s at the back of a semi-private subdivision. Colbach knew something was amiss when, during a recent hike with his wife, he says two men he described as being “sketchy, slimy, and sleazy” were hanging out near the trail talking on a cell phone. “They weren’t hikers, they didn’t fit in. They looked to be up to no good.”

Colbach said his wife got a better look at them and she’s now working with detectives to come up with a sketch of the suspects. It has been an unsettling experience for him and he hopes Portland Police and Parks take it seriously. He’d like to see a sweep of the entire park to make sure there are more similar booby traps scattered around.

“Forest Park is sacred,” he said, “And we want to keep it that way.”

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The Monday Roundup: Bingo, a cargo bike park, sex with cars, and more

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 08:09
Shared space in downtown Minneapolis, 1920.
(Photo via Peter Norton)

Here are the great bike links that caught our eyes this week:

“A hundred years ago it was called Safety First”: Streetsblog’s two-part interview about Vision Zero with traffic historian Peter Norton is a must-read. The campaign for safe streets can learn a lot from the century-old campaign to make them unsafe.

“Customer code of conduct”: A bike shop in southern California is making all customers who wear their team uniform commit to obeying traffic laws.

Onshoring bikes: The Wall Street Journal takes a close look at the new factory in South Carolina that, with wages of $12 an hour, expects to produce $120 Walmart bikes more cheaply than China can by 2017. (Click the first link on the search page.)

Prescience requirement: Washington DC is considering getting rid of its unusual law that shields drivers from liability in situations where a person on a bike failed to anticipate the driver’s illegal actions.

Passing distance research: Painted bike lanes don’t actually have much effect on car-bike passing distance compared to factors like other cars and, maybe, the driver’s attitude.

Misperceiving risk: Seattle’s Sightline Institute made a useful chart of the relative danger of two frightening epidemics:

Sex with cars: “Masturbation is, I guess the word” for what this Tacoma-area man has done with 700 cars since 1965. He identifies as a mechanaphile.

Anti-bike trolls: You probably have to leave BikePortland to play bike news commenter Bingo.

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Money walks: It’s hard to see a strong pattern in the places people die while walking, but if you also map injuries an overwhelming trend emerges: places poor people live.

Vive la différence: It’d be nuts for the law to treat bikes and cars identically, an Alexandria Times contributor argues.

Debunking congestion: New website City Observatory has a great takedown of a new report that parrots the “cost of congestion” myth that wider roads would help the economy.

Safety conference: Four years after the “Vision Zero” concept started circulating in the bike world, the country’s brains are gathering in New York City next month for a national symposium on the subject.

Parking shortage: According to the BBC, bike parking space is so scarce in Copenhagen that most people just leave their bikes in huge piles — what are the odds their bike will be the one stolen?

Suburban bike sharing: Capital Bikeshare is expanding rapidly in Arlington, Virginia, though rising ridership hasn’t made it operationally profitable.

Rolling park: A Brussels art collective has created a modular cargo bike that is also a “temporary park,” transforming into a mobile cinema or a waffle cart.

Bike manufacturing: Michigan has quantified its growing bike industry: $668 million a year, with the largest single hub of it in Grand Rapids.

In your video of the week, our friends at The Path Less Pedaled check out one of Oregon’s most unique cycling experiences: rocketing in custom 4-wheelers down an otherwise abandoned rail line in La Grande.

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: The decline of ageism in biking

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 13:25
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It was once true that people who bike and like bikes were mostly young. News flash: this is no longer true.

That was the message of reader Anne Hawley, responding this week to our coverage of a Northwest Examiner newspaper article about a white-haired auto repair shop owner named Frank Warrens who sees a bike lane on Northwest Everett as part of a campaign to ban cars from downtown Portland.

Hawley’s short, sweet reply:

There’s a lot to be annoyed with here, but as a bike-rider with gray hair, approaching 60, can I just head off any tempting ageist remarks (based on that unbelievably stereotypical photograph) with a quick #NotAllOldFolks?

Thanks.

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I’ve been using every opportunity over the last few months to talk up a fact I noticed in June: biking is still growing a bit among people ages 18-24. But almost all the growth in the last decade actually comes from older people. American biking rates are now almost identical among people aged 25 to 54, and (this really knocks my socks off) almost identical among people aged 55 to 84.

It’s some combination of healthier bodies, changing lifestyles, safer streets and (maybe most important) the aging of Baby Boomers who grew up free of the notion that adult-sized bikes are shameful marks of poverty. But however it happened, it might be the most important demographic force behind the modern biking movement. Thanks for the reminder, Anne.

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Raising the profile of Portland’s bike theft problem

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:35
Putting bike theft on their radar.
(Photo: City of Portland)

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Portland has a serious theft problem when it comes to bicycles and bike parts. For all of you that feel hopeless about it, I wanted to chime in and say I think there are some signs that the tide is finally starting to turn against the thieves.

We’ve been focused on this issue for over nine years — ever since we first launched our Stolen Bike Listings in September 2005. Since then we’ve helped recover so many bikes I stopped counting a long time ago (I’d guess it’s well into the 100s by now). Back in the early days I actually used to list bikes manually while taking information from aggrieved victims over the phone!

Almost 6,000 stolen bikes later, our listings have become a key part of the local fight against thieves.

Unfortunately our listings have been down since July. That’s because Portland resident and stolen bike superhero Bryan Hance of BikeIndex.org (formerly StolenBicycleRegistry.com), has been working on a complete revamp that will sync all our data with BikeIndex and add new, powerful features that will make it easier than ever to recover stolen bikes. We hope to re-launch our listings in the next few weeks.

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But recovery sucks, because that means the thieves already won half the battle (by nabbing your bike in the first place). Our goal should be to prevent theft from happening in the first place. We’ve done some work on that front in the past by partnering up with the Portland Police and Transportation bureaus to create educational materials and online resources aimed at spreading theft prevention tips.

Now, with the bike theft problem at what feels like an all-time high, we are once again working to raise the profile of bike theft by working with our city partners.

Earlier this month, I was honored to be invited to a meeting at City Hall to sit down with Mayor Charlie Hales and incoming Police Chief Larry O’Dea. I had no idea what to expect. I showed up as a community advocate, not as a journalist. When I got there I was in awe of the people who joined us around the big wooden table in the august Rose Room: leaders of major social justice, equity, and racial equality advocacy groups. It wasn’t the crowd I was used to sitting with at City Hall. I felt a bit out of place, but figured if the Mayor’s office wanted me to be there, they had a good reason.

I spent most of the meeting just listening and learning. When I did get a chance to speak, I urged (current) Assistant Chief O’Dea to prioritize three things: Get more officers on the bicycle patrol unit (which would be a huge boost to community policing efforts many people around the table were clamoring for); take a closer look at the proliferation of people living in camps along multi-use paths like the Springwater Corridor; and take the problem of bike theft much more seriously.

I’m confident Asst. Chief O’Dea heard my concerns and I’m looking forward to following up with him on all fronts once he settles into office in January.

In the meantime, Bryan is working hard to re-launch our new-and-improved Stolen Bike Listings, and I’ve got another meeting with the Portland Police Bureau next week. I’m getting together with Central Precinct to hear what they’ve been working on and what additional steps we might take to turn the tables on the thieves.

Stay tuned.

— Read all our bike theft coverage here.

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LEED apartment building lacks cargo bike parking, so family rents an auto space

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 10:07
The apartment building where the DeLaneys live was designed with lots of parking for small bikes but none for the sort that lets families with children live car-free.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When their name came up this year on the waiting list for a rare below-market two-bedroom apartment in one of Williams Avenue’s new apartment buildings, the DeLaney family was thrilled.

It had enough room for their growing family — Bijou, their second daughter, is four months old — and was a short walk to the 35 bus that carries Chris DeLaney to his job at the Bike Gallery in Lake Oswego.

But it lacked something else: a place to park the cargo bike that lets them avoid car ownership and thus afford to live where they do. So, after some negotiation, the DeLaneys are paying $40 a month to park their cargo bike in one of the building’s auto parking spaces.

The standard price for a covered parking unit is $80 per space. But the space they use, right next to the garage exit, was already the building’s least popular for cars, and the DeLaneys think that two or more cargo bikes could fit in the space if a pair of low staples were installed.

As Portland discusses a reform of its bike parking code and the city grapples with the question of whether it can make car-free life a mainstream choice for young families as well as singles and seniors, the DeLaneys’ experience (not to mention the revenue being sacrificed by the underuse of the building’s garage space) is a lesson in the details of modern Portland architecture.

The DeLaneys don’t feel wronged by the situation, and say their apartment management company has been helpful and understanding. Instead, they hope that talking about their situation might help green architects start thinking about the relatively minor changes that’d be required to design buildings for family biking.

“In older buildings there’s nothing,” Chris DeLaney said of bike parking in Portland’s multifamily units. “It’s such a first-world problem, you know. But if you’re choosing to be bike friendly, how are you going to get families on their bikes?”

Erin DeLaney said the cargo bike is the main way she can take her and their daughters Bijou and Octave, 2, to parks, friends’ houses and grocery stores.

“I feel like that’s our happy place where nobody’s screaming,” Erin DeLaney said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘If we can just get to the bike, everything’s going to be OK.’”

But the building’s bike parking, designed to conform to the LEED Gold green building standard, doesn’t have any room for a cargo bike. All the horizontal bike parking is on an eight-inch curb, which is larger than the 100-pound cargo bike can easily be hauled onto by a smaller person. Even if the family did claim the one space at the end of the wave rack, their bakfiets would be blocking every other bike user in the parking area.

As it is, because their bike parking space lacks staples, their bike is secured in the private garage only by being locked to itself.

Parking is only one issue; it’s also hard to get the bike out of the building. Because the cargo bike isn’t large enough to activate the pressure pad that opens the garage exit, they have to either haul their cargo bike up this curb, load it with the children, and then somehow get it through the large swinging door…

…or use their garage door opener to go out through the in door, hoping not to run into conflicts with cars that are entering.

Another car-free family recently moved into the DeLaneys’ hallway and started building a long-tail cargo bike to move their child around. Chris DeLaney said Friday that he hopes that’ll persuade the apartment managers to install staples in the car parking space to permanently convert it to paid cargo bike parking.

Erin DeLaney, who with her husband moved the family from Wyoming to Portland last year in part because they wanted to live car-free in one of the country’s best cities for biking, said all the hassles of the problem have made her appreciate the simplicities of buying a car and living on the edge of the city instead.

“You totally see why that suburban dream has so much appeal,” she said. “And it’s not for me! I don’t want that. But maybe half those people don’t want to do that either.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here. This sponsorship has opened up and we’re looking for our next partner. If interested, please call Jonathan at (503) 706-8804.

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Readers share concerns as Williams Ave traffic spills onto Rodney greenway

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 09:48
The lane redesign isn’t done yet, but the
change is already impacting traffic.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday I got two separate reader emails about the same issue just a few hours apart. Whenever that happens it gets my attention.

In this case, the issue is the increased amount of auto traffic diversion onto NE Rodney as a result of construction and lane configuration changes on Williams Avenue.

Most of you are well-aware by now that the Bureau of Transportation has finally begun construction on the North Williams Safety Project. With the redesign on Williams there is less space for driving and the backups of cars in the past week or so has been a lot worse that usual (and that’s saying something on a long-chaotic stretch of road).

In a press release on October 3rd, PBOT encouraged drivers to use Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd as an alternate route — in part because Rodney is being set-aside as a neighborhood greenway where biking and walking are prioritzed. However, PBOT is well aware that some drivers might still use Rodney to avoid backups on Williams (after all, it’s just two blocks to the east). That’s one reason they installed an auto traffic diverter at N Ivy last month.

But that measure (they’ve also installed speed humps) clearly isn’t enough, at least based on the two emails we received yesterday…

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Here’s the first one:

Hi there,

…. I live off Rodney (close to Russell) and was blown away with the amount of traffic flying through the neighborhood from cars trying to escape the backed up traffic on Williams today around 6pm… the city has done a horrible job with this. I am not sure how Rodney is supposed to be a safe alternative for bikes when not much has been done to make Rodney less attractive to cars. Yes, they put a few speed bumps in and, yes, they put the diverter thing just before Fremont. But, this is not stopping traffic from cutting over between Tillamook and Fremont.

This stretch of Rodney is narrow and not intended for the amount of traffic I saw tonight. Riding it with my 9 year old and impatient, speeding drivers trying to pass is not safe and definitely not inviting to any new riders. Also, try crossing Fremont with a kiddo during traffic – it’s like playing leapfrog. Again, less than fun. I am seriously disappointed/upset in what is happening over here.

Also, what’s with closing a sidewalk just before the crosswalk at NE Stanton?! Walking and biking safely during this project are not a priority for the city it seems.

I could go on and on with the issues I am seeing – no crosswalk enforcement, etc.., but you get the point.

Have a lovely day.

And the second one:

Jonathan. Hey. Would you happen to know very specifically who I can direct a complaint to regarding what seems to me and my gf to be a huge jump in auto traffic on Rodney. She lives on Graham and Rodney. Usually very quiet. But lately it’s insane! I’m pissed!

Anything you might have would be appreciated.

Because these two readers asked — and because I’m sure more people have had similar experiences on Rodney lately — the best person at PBOT to contact about this issue is Project Manager Rich Newlands. He can be reached via email at rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at (503) 823-7780.

PBOT is dealing with similar situations on SE Clinton and Ankeny where the presence of auto traffic is having a negative impact on bicycle access quality.

This is a complicated issue for the city. The rules of diversion have changed now that PBOT has developed more parallel streets into neighborhood greenways with the explicit purpose of moving bicycles through corridors that are simultaneously experiencing a boom in housing and commercial density — all factors that increase street use demands.

Stay tuned for more coverage as we continue to track these issues and share PBOT’s responses and plans to deal with it. In the meantime, please keep us posted with what you experience out there.

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Jobs of the Week

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 08:43

Looking for a job or considering a new endeavor? We’ve got a few great local bike industry opportunities you should consider. 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: Freak bikes, urban singlespeeding, levees, and more

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 08:16
Freak Bike Fall is back and there’s a ride, race, and other fun stuff all 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.

Finally fall has really set in. After a summer that just didn’t want to go away, we’ve seen our first real rain and wind of the season. I’m actually happy for the change. With all the climate change weirdness these days, it’s reassuring when relatively normal weather patterns return.

Assuming you don’t mind getting wet and/or you’re prepped to deal with it, there’s still plenty of fun to be had on two wheels this weekend. Check out our listings below…

Friday, October 17th

Freak Bike Fall Dropout Bike Club Ride – 9:00 pm at Colonel Summers Park (SE 20th and Belmont)
Freak Bike Fall is here again and the Dropouts are ready to party. Pack up your rig with munchies and drinks for a night of freaky fun. All bikes and riders are welcome. Expect to roll out at 10:00. More info here (FB).

Saturday, October 18th

Cross-Word CX Challenge – All day in Canby (6255 S. Arndt Rd, about 30 minutes south of Portland)
Head south to beautiful Canby and race this popular course that comes complete with river crossings, a natural forest trail and more surprises. There’s also a big after-party. More info here.

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Slow Poke Ride – 10:00 am at Lents Park (SE 92nd and Holgate)
Join the Portland Wheelmen (and women!) Touring Club for this social-paced ride on the Springwater path. The route will be about 27 miles from Lents to Boring and back. More info here.

N.O.I.S.E. 2014 – 12:00 pm at Fresh Pot (N Mississippi and Shaver)
This is an unsantioned, urban single-speed mountain bike ride. Expect a wide variety of terrain including trails, jumps, streets and more. Oh, and there will be a lot of shenanigans. More info here.

Sunday, October 19th

Cross Crusade #3 – All day at Portland International Raceway
Don’t miss this full day of cyclocross racing and spectating that’s very close to Portland. Kid’s Cross, a big expo area, lots of food and drinks, a great course, perfect ‘cross weather… What more could you ask for?! More info here.

Bike Milwaukie Monthly Ride – 9:30 am at Milwaukie City Hall (10722 SE Main St)
This month’s route is what organizers call the “neighborhood ride.” This 8-10 mile loop is a great way to explore Milwaukie. Families are encouraged and the ride will end at the bustling local farmer’s market. More info here (FB).

Bike the Levees – 10:00 am at Multnomah County Drainage District (1880 NE Elrod Drive)
This is a new event hosted by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council and the Multnomah County Drainage District. They’ll offer a guided, 16-mile easy route that will explore the Columbia Slough Trail. Riders will learn how Portland’s levee system protects our city from flooding and provides great riding opportunities. Free, but registration is required. More info here.

Freak Bike Fall – Escape From Felony Flats Race – 2:00 pm at PAZ Workspace (1625 SE Woodward)
Grab your craziest bike (also open to regular bikes if you must) and put it to the test at this “truly epic freak bike race.” Expect a challenging course and some of the coolest bikes you’ve ever seen. More info here (FB).

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

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Romping in the Comp Plan: A Wonk Night recap

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:39
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s proclivity for planning and process can make activism on certain topics daunting. The city’s Comprehensive Plan is one such topic: it’s as large and complicated as it is important. So, when our friends at Lancaster Engineering and Bike Walk Vote wanted to make it the theme of a Wonk Night, we jumped at the chance to get involved.

Last night about 50 people showed up to the 4th floor of the Title & Trust building in downtown Portland (where both Lancaster and BikePortland call home) to learn more about the Comp Plan, meet other Comp Plan-curious folks, and most importantly, submit official comments to help make it better.

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Michelle Kunec-North (purple) is a program coordinator at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

As per usual at our Wonk Nights, the room was full of really smart people from a mix of advocacy and professional backgrounds. The faces in the room included activists and members of a host of organizations like Better Block PDX (fresh from testifying at City Council about their successful 3rd Avenue project), Bike Loud PDX, the City Club’s Bicycle Transportation Advocacy Committee, Oregon Walks, the City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, the Bureau of Transportation, and many other experts and insiders.

While it’s great to have people “in the know” at these events, what really makes Wonk Night tick are the regular, everyday concerned residents who show up. And I was happy to see several BikePortland readers and other new faces in the crowd.

To get things rolling we laid out big maps (thank you Bureau of Planning and Sustainability!) and copies of various chapters of the Comp Plan and Transportation System Plan. We also had a lot of ice cold refreshments thanks to our sponsor Omission Beer.

After some mixing and chatting, Bike Walk Vote Co-Chair Lisa-Marie White introduced everyone to the Comp Plan and why it’s so important that the city hears from us about it.

Lisa Marie White from Bike Walk Vote.

We’ll be covering the Comp Plan more in the coming weeks and months, but in a nutshell, it’s the big grandaddy of all the city’s plans. Or, as Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith put it last night, “It’s the one ring to rule them all.” The current plan is about 20 years old and what makes it even more relevant right now is that one of its four main components — the Transportation System Plan — is also being updated.

Portland Planning Commissioner Chris Smith.

We asked Smith to tell us how to make sure our comments get heard:

  • General comments on the Comp Plan can be made via email to psc@portlandoregon.gov with “Comp Plan testimony” in the subject line (include your name and address). (Use tsp@portlandoregon.gov for the Transportation System Plan.)
  • Online comments on specific projects can be made via the MapApp.
  • And to “guarantee that we’ll listen” Smith said “Come to a hearing and talk to us in person.” The final two hearings are on October 28th and November 4th (more info here).

Our goal last night was to inform everyone about the plan update process and inspire conversations and comments. On all those fronts, I think the night was a big success. We almost had a major SNAFU but PBOT came through and saved the day. Let me explain…

As we were setting up, we realized that the Transportation layer of the online MapApp was not working. This was sort of a big problem since the whole point of the event was to use that map to leave comments. Turns out PBOT had that section down for maintenance while they updated the project list. While the rest of us scrambled for Plan B, Lancaster Engineering employee Rebecca Hamilton tweeted and PBOT responded very quickly. They not only got the map back up and running, they even sent one of their two main planning staffers over to the event! Now that is an example of a “City that works.”

After we got our bearings on the plan, we broke up into smaller discussion groups. To make sure the groups were productive, a Comp Plan expert was assigned to participate in each of them. A few minutes later, the entire floor was buzzing with conversations as people poured over printed maps, zoomed and clicked through the MapApp, and had their burning questions answered.

Lidwein Rahman is on the TSP’s Transportation Experts Group. Notice the Omission tablecloth. Joshua Force in deep thought.

Here are a few notes and ideas I heard around the tables last night:

  • While the Transportation chapter of the Comp Plan (chapter 9) is what gets most of our attention, we should pay just as much attention to chapter 3 on Urban Form. That’s the chapter where we can influence the land-use, zoning, and housing policies that will have a huge impact on our mode split goals.
  • Did you know some elements of the Columbia River Crossing project are on the TSP list?
  • City needs the authority to to set their own speed limits.
  • One attendee stressed the importance of making your comments personal.
  • Another comment tip: Keep it simple. If you support a certain policy, just call it out, say you support it, and be done. The comment will then be counted as a vote (so-to-speak).
  • The transportation hierarchy is a key policy many of us are watching. This hierarchy puts the various modes in order with walking and biking at the top, and motor vehicles at the bottom. There are forces at work to dilute this hierarchy, which could impact how the city makes project and investment decisions in the future.
  • One attendee stressed that he wants to see see more carfree zones throughout the central city.
  • Our active transportation network needs the same redundancy as our auto network.
  • Someone supported an idea to put a cap over I-405 where it bisects downtown.
  • Safety is popular phrase in the plan, but shouldn’t we have a way to measure it? (Asked by an engineer or course).
  • Should Portland continue to encourage bikeway development on “parallel streets” at the expense of commercial corridors and arterials?

Toward the end of the event, we returned to the office’s main lobby area to debrief and share more insights and feedback. Then it was time to get out the laptops and tablets and leave comments. We encouraged every person in the room to leave at least one. I sat down and left several of my own on a project that would fill gaps on the Marine Drive bike path. It was actually kind of addicting and fun!

The conversations and friendly debates lasted long into the night. It was a great event and thanks again to Lancaster Engineering, Bike Walk Vote, Omission Beer, PBOT, BPS, and everyone who joined us. Learn more about the Comp Plan on the BPS website and stay tuned for more coverage.

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Foster Road businesses celebrate 50s Bikeway completion

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 13:10

Here’s something that counters a popular narrative in this town that businesses don’t support cycling: the Foster Area Business Association (FABA) is hosting a mixer tonight to celebrate the completion of the City of Portland’s 50s Bikeway project.

As we reported yesterday, after delays and a long public process, the 50s Bikeway project is finally on the ground. With a mix of new bikeway infrastructure, crossing treatments, and signage, the $1.5 million, 4.3 mile project is making travel on the 50s corridor much more pleasant.

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The other day (I can’t remember where exactly), I was handed the flyer above. It reads: “Discover a new route to Foster! Come celebrate the 50s Bikeway completion and network with other Foster Area businesses.”

The event is tonight (10/16) from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at Midpoint Food & Drink (3524 SE 52nd Ave). It’s open to both members and non-members.

It’s great to see this type of enthusiasm from business owners for a bike project! If any readers attend, we’d love to hear how it goes.

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Bike shop spreads the cyclocross gospel with ‘CX Curious’ workshops

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 12:37
The CX Curious crowd at Saturday’s Cross
Crusade opener at Alpenrose Dairy included
Noel Mickelberry, Kyla Yeoman, Lindsay Walker,
Katie Popoff, Kathy Lombardi, Claudia Martinez, Melia
Tichenor, Nate Semm, Julia Himmelstein and Allan Rudwick.
(Photos courtesy Gladys Bikes)

Gladys Bikes, the woman-centric bike shop on Northeast Alberta Street, keeps coming up with interesting new projects that prove how important great retailers are to a city’s bike infrastructure.

The latest we’ve caught wind of: A series of low-cost courses for people who identify as “‘cross curious.” As in cyclocross, of course.

“It was an idea that came from our advisory board – GAB, the Gladys Advisory Board,” Gladys Bikes owner Leah Benson said in an interview Thursday. “The more conversations we had, the more we realized a lot of people were interested but had never tried it.”

So Benson — who had known about the freestyle, skill-oriented racing style for years but never seen it as something for her — put the word around and recruited friends who were into ‘cross to loan their bikes to the newcomers or visit the five-class series to teach the basics of the sport.

She said 20 to 25 people signed up.

“We met every other week in parks and did some clinics,” said Benson, who laid out a trial ‘cross course in Irving Park for the class to practice on. “But more than that just got to know each other because we felt we had a solid community to do it with.”

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Benson said it wasn’t hard to find people to help with the series of workshops, which cost $50 for all sessions.

“It’s that people just want more people to be part of a sport, that they love it so much themselves that they want to share it,” Benson said. “Especially women want other women to race against.”

CX Curious graduate Julia, described on the Gladys
Bikes Facebook page as “the smiliest racer
of all time,” tackles a hill in training.

Benson said the squad included “people of all ages and genders,” but was mostly female.

The series culminated on Saturday with the annual Cross Crusade opener at Alpenrose Dairy.

“Doing it with a group of people who had never done it before, I think we all brought our own cheering sections,” Benson said. “Every corner that we turned, there was, like, huge masses cheering us on.”

Though the series wasn’t a major moneymaker given Benson’s time investment, she hopes to offer the classes again as part of her shop’s regular business and community development efforts. And she’s looking forward to her own next cross race with her new community of racers.

“We have a pretty active Facebook message board of how people are going to get to their next race,” Benson said. “And what color socks they’re going to wear. All the stuff that you want ‘cross to be.”

— Special thanks to Sellwood Cycle Repair, the official sponsor of BikePortland’s 2014 cyclocross coverage.

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How Travel Oregon has responded to spate of bicycle collisions

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 08:43

“Travel Oregon is deeply saddened by the recent bicycle tragedies on Oregon roads, and they have served to elevate our attention and concern.”

While Oregon’s highways are under the official jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, they’ve also become a key asset in our state’s burgeoning bicycle-based tourism economy — and that means the Oregon Tourism Commission/Travel Oregon also has in interest in how they’re managed.

For years now, exploring Oregon’s rural roads by bike has been a cornerstone of Travel Oregon’s marketing strategy. They’ve invested in advertisements, created an online guide to the best routes, and they’ve partnered with the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department to help promote and develop a network of official State Scenic Bikeways program.

So when people starting being hit from behind while bicycling on Oregon highways back in August, it raised eyebrows and concerns among Travel Oregon staff. In the past two months there have been seven high-profile bicycle collisions and four deaths — all of them a result of unsafe driving.

Is it time for Oregon to revamp its highway laws
to protect people on bikes?
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland

We’re happy to report that Travel Oregon has not shirked away from this issue. In the past few weeks they’ve addressed it head-on. Last month we heard from Travel Oregon’s Manager of Global Communications Linea Gagliano and she shared this statement:

Travel Oregon is deeply saddened by the recent bicycle tragedies on Oregon roads, and they have served to elevate our attention and concern. While we work to promote responsible bicycle tourism throughout the state, we are acutely aware that there is an element of risk involved whenever someone takes to the road.

To increase bicycle and car safety awareness, Travel Oregon is adding safety tips for each of the bicycle routes on RideOregonRide.com. Additionally, we will increase our work with other state agencies and partners to address the issue of bicycle and automobile safety throughout the state. In the coming weeks, key Travel Oregon staff members will meet with ODOT to discuss its statewide Bicycle & Pedestrian Master plan and long-range policy. On Oct. 31, Travel Oregon will host the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership meeting in Bend, with bicycle and car safety as a prominent item on the agenda. We will use the time to help surface ideas to build a vision/plan that can address bicycle and car safety concerns in the state.

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Since that statement was issued late last month, Travel Oregon has made good on their promises. As you might have noticed yesterday while browsing the new gravel riding section on RideOregonRide.com, every ride listed on that site now includes the following message:

Stay Safe

In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only.

We also heard from Travel Oregon staff who work directly on bicycle tourism development. With an upcoming meeting of the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Partnership (OBTP), Destination Development Specialist Nastassja Pace reacted to the news of rear-end collisions by shuffling the agenda. On October 31st, when members of the OBTP meet in Bend, there will be a robust discussion of bike safety laws and policies. I’ll be there to share my ideas on rural road advocacy and the potential for legal and/or policy changes at the state level, and lawyer Ray Thomas will share his expertise on existing Oregon traffic laws.

With safety and traffic law policies largely absent from the bicycle tourism discussion, we’re glad to see Travel Oregon face the issues. Stay tuned for more coverage, and if you have specific ideas about how Oregon statutes and ODOT policies could make rural road riding safer and more pleasant, please let us know.

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NW Examiner: Everett bike lanes part of ‘campaign against auto-orientation’

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 14:26
Frank Warrens is not happy
about the new bike lanes.

A cover story in this month’s NW Examiner is stoking an old but unfortunately familiar meme: the “war on cars.”

In Driving out Cars, Allan Classen, the publisher and editor of the free neighborhood newspaper, focuses on how new buffered bike lanes have impacted people who use NW Everett Street. As we reported back in August, the Bureau of Transportation re-designed Everett between 24th and I-405 in order to improve bicycle access.

For the main face of the story, Classen chose an auto repair shop owner named Frank Warrens, who refers to the project as an example of PBOT’s ongoing “war on cars”:

The recent conversion of one vehicle lane into a bike lane along Northwest Everett Street between 19th and 23rd avenues blew his gasket.

“The brain-dead idiots who came up with the idea of making a bike lane on Everett are really out of line,” Warrens told the Examiner. “It’s clearly an attempt to get rid of all vehicular traffic in the downtown Portland area.

“A war on cars is a very appropriate term for what they’re doing,” he said.

Warrens, not a bicyclist, thinks bike lanes should be kept on side streets.

Although the city promised that the Everett Street modifications would reduce travel times only slightly, he has experienced quite the opposite, reporting that what used to be a two or three minute trip from 23rd to his shop can now take 10 minutes.

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Classen includes some comments from PBOT Transportation Policy, Planning and Projects Group Manager Art Pearce, but he frames them in a way that serves the larger “war on cars” narrative the he wants to get across. Later in the article Classen himself writes that, “The Everett Street reconfiguration is a minor maneuver in the campaign against “auto orientation.” He then goes on to list what he feels are the other parts of this nefarious campaign: bike corrals, street seats, apartment buildings with no auto parking, bike lanes, and metered auto parking.

This is not the first time Classen has shared his opinions about bicycling and the people who do it. In 2010 he penned an editorial about “bicycle zealots” that included this passage:

“If you’ve ever been flipped off, sworn at or physically attacked by a bicyclist who didn’t like the way you drive or walk on the sidewalk, keep in mind that these are not ordinary people. They live on another plane. They believe that danger, disdain and ridicule may follow them all their days on the earth, but one day they will sit in glory at the right handlebar of God.”

Then in 2013 he published a misleading article on his front page about what he considered to be “illegal cycling” in Forest Park. (As an aside, one of Classen’s contributors at the NW Examiner is Michael Zusman, the Multnomah County Judge who once ruled that a woman right-hooked in an intersection while bicycling was not protected by Oregon’s bike lane law because the lane striping paint didn’t continue through the intersection. That “disappearing bike lane” was criticized by legal experts and eventually settled out of court.)

It will be interesting to monitor local media reactions to what are sure to be more projects like NW Everett in the future. I don’t agree with this article’s framing, but Classen’s is tapping into concerns and fears shared by many Portlanders. Re-configuring lanes and changing what types of vehicle are allowed to use them is a big deal and it has real consequences. These projects are also happening in a larger context of neighborhoods experiencing rapid changes in housing and a population trends that will only add to street demands.

If we want our transition away from an “auto-orientation” to be as smooth as possible, we need to let people like Classen and Warrens air out their feelings. We also need to be aware of them and understand how they might influence other people, our elected leaders, and policymakers.

This isn’t the last time we’ll read a story like this. I won’t be surprised at all to read similar articles and hear similar perspectives shared when the striping on N Williams Avenue is completed.

— Read the article and check out the comments at NWExaminer.com.
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After 3-day demo, city council moves to ‘next phase’ of rethinking 3rd Avenue

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 13:55
Sped-up version of a video of Northwest 3rd Avenue just after midnight on Sunday, Oct. 5.
(Original video: Better Block PDX)

The widely praised experiment that created a temporary protected bike lane and big new pedestrian areas on 3rd Avenue in Old Town this month seems to be reshaping the way the city sees the street.

“For the last 20 years, I’ve noticed the extraordinary width at that point on 3rd and I should have noticed an obvious use for all that space was ping pong tables,” Commissioner Steve Novick, who had enjoyed a game of table tennis during the demonstration, joked at a city council hearing on the subject Wednesday.

Mayor Charlie Hales (left) plays ping-pong with another visitor to the Oct. 3-5 experiment creating a pedestrian plaza in front of Voodoo Doughnut on 3rd Avenue.
(Photo: Greg Raisman)

Local business owners said that except for traffic backing up in the two blocks north of Burnside — something they thought could be solved by adding a one-block turn lane — it worked like a charm during both day and night.

“Cars slowed down,” said Dixie Tavern owner Dan Lenzen, who spent every night watching the demo on 3rd Avenue. “Police officers were able to interact with drivers. At the end of the night, people dispersed quicker. People were able to cross the street comfortably. It allowed for wider sidewalk access. It did everything that it was designed to do.”

(Photo: Adron Hall)

“I think this has gone from management of a liability to an opportunity to take the visions this neighborhood has had for a long time from concept to reality.”
— Charlie Hales, mayor of Portland

(Photo: Adron Hall)

After the experiment, Chris Lenahan of the nightclub Dirty, also at the corner of Couch and 3rd, pulled the trigger on something he’d been considering: remodeling his storefront to start food and drink service at 4 p.m.

“I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” Lenahan said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I took my drawings down to the city yesterday. … It’s still going to be a nightclub at nighttime but more of a pub spot during the day.”

Lenahan said he plans to pursue a “street seats” permit from the city that’d let him put tables and cafe seating in what’s currently the parking lane, in exchange for compensating the city for lost parking revenue. In the longer term, he hopes the city will permanently convert auto parking or travel lanes to pedestrianized or cafe space.

At Wednesday’s council hearing, Commissioner Nick Fish praised the experimental design, which was created by volunteer group Better Block PDX in collaboration with the Old Town Hospitality Group, Portland Bureau of Transportation and Portland Police Bureau.

“It reminded me of Times Square,” Fish said. “They turned it into a plaza right at the intersection where you had more traffic than any other place in the city … and it created a calming effect and a different experience. … I’m guessing when that was proposed there was a lot of opposition, but in the end it’s working.”

Same location during the Better Block demonstration and back to its current state a few days later.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Lenzen said he and most other businesses had hoped the council would approve immediate changes and end the weekend evening street blockades that have reduced police calls in the area but reduced sales at some businesses by preventing all car and bike traffic on a few streets after 10 p.m. Instead, Mayor Charlie Hales advanced a plan on Wednesday that shrinks the blockaded area and introduces a provision that will allow for further real-time testing.

“We’re going to move into the experimental stages,” said Howard Weiner, chair of the Old Town Community Association of businesses and residents in the neighborhood. “We’re going to try different ways of closing the streets.”

Commander Bob Day of the Portland Police Bureau Central Precinct praised the existing street barricades Wednesday for having reduced police calls by blocking auto traffic completely, but said he invited further changes.

“I’m not married to this,” Day said of the existing barricade plan. “I’m always open to new ideas, and I know this plan allows that.”

Commissioner Amanda Fritz said Wednesday that “activating the street could make it a safer street … but as we know from Last Thursday it can create some other challenges that need to be addressed and paid for.”

Hales said the “next phase of this” is likely to involve the Portland Bureau of Transportation and “also brings up conversation about future capital projects.”

Lenzen said his plan is to push for part of $6.1 million that the city has lined up for protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements downtown. That money will come available in 2015 or 2016.

(Photo: Greg Raisman)

Hales was particularly enthusiastic during Wednesday’s hearing about the possibilities for 3rd Avenue.

“I think this has gone from management of a liability to an opportunity to take the visions this neighborhood has had for a long time from concept to reality,” the mayor said. “I’m very excited about this, looking forward to next stage of the work and learning new things … I hope that you have my enthusiatic cooperation to continue experimentation and collaboration. … Great work. More to come.”

Update 10:30 pm: If you didn’t get to stop by the demo, check out this video by Adron Hall that features interviews with spectators and retail business owners nearby. It was played for the City Council Monday.

Editor Jonathan Maus contributed reporting.

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Economist Joe Cortright launches ‘virtual think tank’

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:00
Home page

Joe Cortright, a Portland-based economist who specializes in making the case for urban innovation and active transportation and was a powerful critic of the failed Columbia River Crossing project, has launched City Observatory, a “virtual think tank” that will be “devoted to data-driven analysis of cities and the policies that shape them.”

Topics on the site will be arranged in a system of “cards,” copying a successful feature of popular news site Vox.com.

The goal of this new venture will be to spark conversations about what policies and practices will create great cities. Cortright received funding for the project from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“How we build and inhabit our cities plays a critical role in tackling national problems ranging from climate change to inequality,” said Cortright in a statement. “At City Observatory, we’re excited to participate in and contribute to the discussion of how cities can realize their potential.”

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Cortright at an anti-CRC rally in 2009.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s worth noting that Cortright is strong supporter of bicycling and understands its extremely beneficial impact on many aspects of urban development. Similar to how we’ve branched out into covering real estate and land use issues, City Observatory will track data and trends in key topics that impact cycling: from housing to gentrification and industry.

The new think tank’s first report, The Young and Restless and the Nation’s Cities, is due out on October 20th.

We’re looking forward to learning from — and highlighting — City Observatory’s work. The site is already full of great content. We also plan to follow them on Twitter at @successfulcity.


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First Look: 50s Bikeway adds diverters, crossings at Burnside and Division

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:58
The new green-striped bike lane in front of the new bike box at 52nd and Division creates a more visible crossing.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

After more than a year of delay and months of construction, the 50s Bikeway is looking great, and two of the most important components are in place: comfortable crossings and traffic semi-diverters at two major streets. On Tuesday, I swung past to get some photos.

Here’s one of the most expensive but important components of the project: a new HAWK signal at Burnside and 53rd that lets people walking or biking push a button to stop traffic on Burnside, which carries 15,000 cars a day at this corner:

You can also see, in the photo above, the way that signs (two of them in each direction!) bumpouts and pavement markings have been used to allow traffic to turn off 53rd in both directions, but to make it clear that cars shouldn’t turn onto 53rd from Burnside. Here’s a closer look at the narrowed crossing:

I wondered what the nearby Tabor Tavern, which sits on this corner and is one of the few sit-down restaurants in this area, thought of this change. So I went inside to talk to Elizabeth Powell, who was tending the bar. I asked whether blocking through traffic here had made it harder for customers to reach the business.

“Actually, it makes it a lot better,” Powell said. “We have a lot of regulars that live nearby and walk here. I bike here. It’s a lot safer.”

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A mile or so south, the neighborhood greenway jogs over to 52nd and then crosses Division Street. This was the site of a major disagreement during the 50s Bikeway process; people who took part in a Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association vote came out 53 to 52 against a plan to block northbound motorized traffic here other than one motor vehicle: TriMet’s #71 bus.

However, the city’s plan to reduce cut-through traffic onto 52nd, which had the support of a large majority of people who showed up to the project open house as well as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other advocates for better biking and walking, won out. Here’s the result:

It’s a little hard to capture in photographs, but the space that creates the bus/bike-only lane on 52nd is noticeably narrower than the space where auto and bike traffic are allowed. Here’s an overhead-view diagram of the redesigned intersection, from the project’s engineering documents (in this image, north is to the right):

I’m sure a few people are willing to ignore the signs and simply turn in, but this wasn’t something I observed while I was there. I also watched someone in a truck wait patiently behind the green bike box that serves southbound traffic and restricts right turns on red.

Though we’ve reported on some initial parking issues south of Division, where the project added bike lanes, it’s clear that this north-south route (which also includes various smaller crossing improvements as well as sharrows, speed bumps and wayfinding signs) is a major boon to riding through the neighborhoods it connects, running at just the route where you can avoid climbing into the foothills of Mount Tabor. It’s great to hear that it’s improved access to the Tabor Tavern, too.

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Travel Oregon adds gravel routes to bicycling portal website

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:23
Now you have one less excuse to not explore Oregon’s excellent unpaved roads.

RideOregonRide.com, the awesome resource developed by Oregon’s tourism commission Travel Oregon, now includes a handful of the best gravel rides our state has to offer.

(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Nastassja Pace, a destination development specialist with Travel Oregon, shared the great news with us this morning. She explained that they’ve partnered with two locally-grown resources, OregonBikePacking.com and Ride With GPS, to vet the routes and display them on the site.

OregonBikePacking.com was founded by Donnie Kolb, the man who has stoked much of Oregon’s current fervor for unsanctioned, logging and gravel road riding (we profiled him back in July). Kolb worked with Travel Oregon to feature six of his favorite routes, all of which he has personally ridden, studied, and photographed.

The rides are:

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The routes vary in distance and toughness. The Old Dalles route — a 47-mile jaunt that begins in Hood River — is rated “moderate,” while the 241-mile Hart-Sheldon Hot Springs route is rated “extreme.” On the website, each route listing contains detailed information including: best times of years to ride it; recommended tire sizes; a detailed elevation chart; nearby lodging and services listings; a convenient link to GPS data via Ride With GPS, and more.

Travel Oregon launched RideOregonRide.com in 2009 in response to advocates’ requests to have an online tool to promote Oregon’s best road and mountain bike routes. The addition of gravel routes is a result of the agency’s new focus on this increasingly popular type of riding, which is a hybrid between mountain biking and traditional road biking on pavement. In November 2013, Travel Oregon convened a gravel road working group to create a database of the best routes and explore various policy and advocacy issues around them.

Check out the new gravel riding section at RideOregonRide and start planning your adventures!

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