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City parking reform proposal would limit apartment dwellers’ access to parking permits

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 12:52
Under the concept, residents of the mixed commercial zone along Southeast Ankeny Street wouldn’t be allowed to buy permits to park cars on nearby residential streets unless there were spaces left unused by nearby residents.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

After months of research and discussion with a massive stakeholders’ group, the Portland Bureau of Transportation on Thursday circulated its first concept for how to deal with shortages of free on-street car parking in some neighborhoods.

The proposal, which the city described Friday as “preliminary,” combines two main ideas:

1) Neighborhoods would get the option to vote to start charging themselves a yet-to-be-determined amount for overnight street parking, and

2) people who live in most of the buildings along commercial corridors wouldn’t get to park in permit-parking areas overnight unless people who live in nearby residences don’t want the space.

The second aspect, which is arguably the defining concept of the proposal, would be accomplished through the city’s zoning code. In any new parking district, residents of buildings in “residential” zones would get the first chance to purchase parking permits. But mixed-use, industrial and employment zones — zones that line almost every crowded commercial corridor in Portland where street parking is scarce — wouldn’t be included in the parking district. This would mean residents there would only be able to purchase parking permits if the “supply” of local parking spaces on nearby residential blocks (as determined by the city) exceeds the “demand” from residential zones.

“Any blockface within the permit area that fronts a residentially‐zoned property could be signed for use by permit holders,” the city’s proposal explains.

For example, here’s a map of the zoning on North Mississippi Avenue. Mixed-use and industrial zones, whose residents would be last in line for parking permits, are marked in red and purple. Residential areas, further from the Mississippi corridor, are marked in other colors.

The permit plan doesn’t offer solutions for what to do about parking on the commercial streets themselves. Options could include meters, shorter-term parking areas, shared off-street parking and other tools.

“Meters are a separate issue,” city project manager Grant Morehead wrote in an email Friday, by way of a city spokesman. He said the neighborhood stakeholder group will tackle that subject in September.

Two other key issues that hasn’t yet been tackled: how much the permits would cost and where the money would go.

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Portland’s proposed parking reform could have major long-term impacts on the way the city grows and develops. For example, as our series on the Lloyd District has shown, the transition to paid parking in 1997 was arguably the most important change that set that area on the path to its imminent redevelopment into a dense, potentially bike-oriented urban area.

“If this was the permit program we had in place five years ago, the Division Street battle over parking might have turned out a lot differently.”
— Tony Jordan, centers and corridors stakeholder advisory committee

Advocates for dense, bikeable development hope that paid parking permits will be a way for central Portland neighborhoods to keep adding new housing without also setting aside more and more space for free or cheap car parking.

“If this was the permit program we had in place five years ago, the Division Street battle over parking might have turned out a lot differently,” said Tony Jordan, a member of the city’s stakeholder groups who has advocated for the city to start phasing out its subsidy of auto parking by charging people to store cars on the street. “Armed with the opportunity to permit up as construction set in, neighbors in affected areas might have incentivized developers to add parking or truly work to attract car-free tenants. In areas where the proverbial animals have already left the barn, a system like this will hopefully put pressure on the current landlords to do the latter.”

The detailed proposal from Morehead starts on page 8 of this PDF. Morehead circulated the concept in an email Thursday to members of the “centers and corridors” stakeholder advisory group that has been advising the city on parking reform.

Here’s a crucial passage in the proposal, in which Morehead describes the way that residents of buildings along a corridor might be able to buy parking permits after residents of homes off the corridor have had their chance:

The total number of permits issued within an area would be capped, based on a standard formula that is related to the total supply of on‐street parking. The concept does not include a cap on the number of permits issued to any one address; rather, it proposes a progressive pricing scheme (the second permit would cost more than the first, the third would cost more than the second, etc.). Properties with available off‐street parking would automatically start at the rate for a second permit. Daily guest permits would be available; these are typically sold in packets of 10.  

If demand for permits exceeds supply, a waiting list would be maintained. If supply of permits exceeds demand, a neighborhood could decide to sell surplus permits to people outside the area. That would be a detail to be worked out in each implementation plan.

How often would demand for parking permits exceed supply in a given district? That’s hard to say, because if people had to pay for curbside parking permits, they might be more likely to park in garages and driveways, or less likely to have cars at all. However, here’s a map (prepared for the stakeholder advisory committee) that shows the intense demand for the curbside auto parking the city currently provides for free in the Mississippi Avenue area:

“A lot of details remain to be worked out,” Morehead added in the Friday email. “The SAC will surely have a lot to say about this idea.”

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Car2go’s firestorm over shrunken service area reawakens concerns about bikeshare coverage

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 10:57
Car2go’s new service area.
(Image: car2go)

Soon after introducing bike racks to half its fleet, the floating-fleet car-sharing service car2go has made a much less popular change: it’s slicing its Portland service area by about a third.

The company said that areas east of 60th Avenue and northwest of Portsmouth, including Montavilla, Cully, Lents and St. Johns, had accounted for only 8 percent of trips and that 90 percent of car2go users surveyed said they were unsatisfied with vehicle availability. The company says that eliminating the least-used parts of the service area will lead to more car density in the remaining areas.

But that didn’t prevent digital howls Friday from disappointed users of the service — some of whom compared the problem to the one that’ll be faced by any future bikesharing system in Portland, too.

@car2go @car2goPortland Epic fail on cutting services in the Portland area. You take our fees and then take away the service, Stay Classy!

— Joshua Hackney (@joshuaxhunter) July 31, 2015

Shame on @car2go . This is basically a map defining equity issues in Portland.

— Cora Potter (@bungalowranch) July 31, 2015

.@car2goPortland Cutting the mid-eastside? Really really disappointed. Your service is basically useless to me now.

— Nick Christensen (@NickCPDX) July 31, 2015

It's too bad @car2goPortland is doing this. scaling back availability and jacking up costs isn't going to fix the biz model.

— Andrea Damewood (@adamewood) July 31, 2015

If C2G wants to cut service for profits, i get it. but then maybe the city doesn't need to give such a sweetheart deal on downtown parking.

— Aaron Brown (@ambrown) July 31, 2015

@briandavispdx That’s exactly the point: these systems are under public purview. If they exacerbate inequality, then no deal. #car2gone

— Justin Carinci (@JustinCarinci) July 31, 2015

Scumbag @car2goPortland: Has amazing service, cuts off service to blue-collar family neighborhoods that need it most.

— Brandon Rhodes (@BrandonDRhodes) July 31, 2015

@car2goPortland Understandable. And understandably frustrating when a beloved company chooses to deepen inequality in an deeply divided city

— Brandon Rhodes (@BrandonDRhodes) July 31, 2015

also, this doesn't just hurt epdx *residents.* many of my car2go trips are to epdx to support businesses/nonprofits out that way

— Aaron Brown (@ambrown) July 31, 2015

@evanlandman a better idea would have been to recruit in east pdx and st johns rather than cut those areas. then increase cars.

— dillonm.exe (@dillonm) July 31, 2015

A handful of people defended the decision, or at least argued that the public couldn’t control it:

The problem with car sharing (and bike sharing if we get it) is that optimizing these systems will by definition be inequitable.

— Brian Davis (@briandavispdx) July 31, 2015

…and saying "equity" doesn't make it less true. Service isn't provided in many wealthy areas either (West Hills, Eastmoreland).

— Iain (@maccoinnich) July 31, 2015

But the bikeshare analogy is also a sign of conflicts to come:

I want bikeshare here, but I hope this is thought through carefully w/r/t what the public/private partnership that runs it looks like.

— Brian Davis (@briandavispdx) July 31, 2015

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Car2go created this graphic to explain their argument for shrinking their service area.

It’s worth noting that the car2go area has changed many times since the service’s 2012 launch. When it began, its north boundary was Killingsworth Street and its east boundary was 82nd Avenue, so much of North, Northeast and East Portland were excluded from the start. But the ongoing expansion of car2go’s service area had instilled confidence in many Portlanders that the service’s boundaries were getting larger, not smaller — an evolution that maybe seemed to make up for the fact that its prices had risen from 35 to 41 cents per minute.

The change comes two months after the service began adding a flat $1 fee on every trip, significantly driving up the cost of short trips but lowering the service’s insurance deductible, and a few weeks after it ended its service in Eugene.

Last December, we reported that Portland was the car2go capital of North America when it came to vehicles per square mile. Car2go didn’t respond to a question on Twitter about the size of its Portland fleet going forward.

It’s not clear how the arrival of ridesourcing services Uber and Lyft in Portland this summer has or will effect demand for car2go. Like car2go, Uber has said it is likely to add bike racks to many of its vehicles in an effort to facilitate multimodal trips.

As the City of Portland keeps trying to move toward the launch of a privately operated public bikeshare system — and as the startup Spinlister prepares to launch the country’s first fully private bike-sharing system in Portland — the talk about how much control the public can expect or demand over its shared transportation services is only going to continue.

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Across Oregon, traffic fatalities abruptly return almost to pre-recession levels

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 08:47

For Oregon’s roads, the first seven months of 2015 have been the deadliest since 2008.

That was the year nominal gas prices hit their all-time peak, which sent suburban housing markets and the financial sector that had financed them into a tailspin that eventually sent the world economy into recession.

Gas prices dipped for a year but returned to the high $3 range by 2011. Expensive gas and the weak economy combined with long-brewing changes in how people live and get around to create years of decline in the number of miles driven both in Oregon and around the country.

But after last November’s gas price plunge, the number of miles driven is on the rise again. And so, apparently, is the number of people dying on the road.

Troy Costales, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s safety division, said Oregon saw 238 road deaths through July 23, up from 165 in the same period last year.

“There are reports that traffic fatalities are up across the nation,” he added. “I wish neither was true.”

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The chart above comes from fatality data tracked by Costales’s team. (Unlike 2014 and 2015, the previous years include fatalities from the final week of July.)

In Portland, the long-term traffic fatality trend has been different: it fell rapidly in the late 1990s and, aside from a 2003 spike, has hovered in the 20s and 30s per year since. Numbers for Portland proper weren’t immediately available Friday.

“If the numbers are flat or going up, then that’s a stubborn problem and it’s time for some broader range of solutions.”
— Gerik Kransky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance

For the last two years, the Oregon Department of Transportation has faced calls from some safety advocates to rethink its traffic safety practices around a set of ideas developed in Sweden and known as Vision Zero.

“If the numbers are flat or going up, then that’s a stubborn problem and it’s time for some broader range of solutions,” said Gerik Kransky, advocacy director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “Until we’re able to do something significant to address those high-speed, high-traffic roads, I’d imagine this is what’s going to happen.”

Kransky said he was disappointed that the state didn’t pass House Bill 2736, which would have created an external process to explore Vision Zero at the state level.

“We’ve heard a little bit of talk from our partners at ODOT that there’s talk of setting a target date for zero injuries and fatalities in their upcoming traffic safety action plan, and that’s great,” Kransky said. “My fear is that right now, we haven’t seen ODOT step forward with a willingness to pursue the solutions that are shown to work in other countries. … We’re not going to change the fatality rate in Oregon simply by setting a traffic date.”

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Jobs of the Week: Velotech, Oregon Walks, Chris King, The Bike Commuter

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 07:18

We’ve had four great jobs listed this week. Learn more about them via the links below…

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. These are paid listings. If you’d like to post a job, you can purchase a listing online by visiting our Job Listings page.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Raging Waters fountain ride, intersection painting & more

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 06:55
The Salmon Street Fountain will be the last stop at tonight’s water-themed Portland Bike Party. Bring a swimsuit.
(Photo © J.Maus/BikePortland)

This menu of delicious rides and events is brought to you by our friends at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Their support makes BikePortland possible.

The peak of summer isn’t letting us go yet. This week’s heat wave will continue through this first weekend of August before slackening off. It’s a perfect reminder to savor what we’ve got, at least in between gulps of water. There’s plenty of outdoor fun to choose from.

Friday, July 31

Fly to Pie Kid Ride – 2 p.m. at Oregon Park (NE Hoyt and 29th)
Bike-based clowns Olive and Dingo lead a ride celebrating fairies, bugs, birds, bats, squirrels and of course flying monkeys. Put on your wings and ride to the Pie Spot for food and story time. Suggested $5 donation includes balloon animals and clown show. More info here.

Memorial for Marlene Popps – 4:30 pm at SE Foster and Holgate (at 63rd)
A commemoration for the victim of a July 4 hit and run and for all the 30 people who’ve died on Oregon roads in July. BikePortland coverage here; more info here.

Portland Bike Party Raging Waters Ride – 7-9 p.m. at Holladay Park fountain (NE Multnomah between 11th and 13th, south of the Lloyd Center Mall)
Dress to get wet and beat the heat with the help of several of Portland’s landmark fountains. Finishes downtown, followed by pizza. More info here.

Saturday, Aug. 1

Greenway intersection painting party – 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at NE 53rd and Everett
The North Tabor Neighborhood Association (for which I’m a board member! this is my neighborhood) hosts a two-day painting party and potluck at the intersection of two neighborhood greenways. Bring a chair and get ready to make a street pretty. More info here.

Franz Bakery Criterium – 3 p.m. at NE 10th and Flanders
The final installment of OBRA’s Oregon Cup series, this is an 8-corner urban dash through Portland’s Central Eastside. Registration $25 online, $30 day-of with OBRA membership required. More info here.

Cascade Creampuff – 5:45 a.m. in Oakridge, OR
For 20 years now, this has been one of the country’s toughest mountain bike courses, on 100 miles (including 75 of singletrack) and 18,000 feet of climbing through the Alpine Trail System in Lane County. $209 registration required before mandatory rider’s meeting 5 p.m. Friday. More info here.

Portland Century – 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the University of Portland (5000 N Willamette Blvd)
Choose the 50-mile, 80-mile or 100-mile courses through the City of Portland and south along both sides of the Willamette. $89 registration includes support and great local food for breakfast, lunch and a dinner with beer and wine. More info here.

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Sunday, Aug. 2

Greenway intersection painting party – 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at NE 53rd and Everett
See above.

Blackberry bRamble – 6:30 a.m. at Hilyard Community Center (2580 Hilyard Street Eugene)
A ride around Eugene of 100, 62, 40, 20 or 10 miles. Late registration $49 includes support on the longer routes plus a beer ticket and pie with ice cream at the end. More info here.

Redline Flight School Clinic with Jason Carnes – 6-9 p.m. at the Lumberyard (2700 NE 82nd Ave)
A travelling instructional clinic led by a professional BMXer. $25. More info here.

— Did we miss anything? Let us know via the comments and make sure to drop us a line if you have an upcoming event you’d like us to feature next week.

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With new ‘Livable Streets’ subgroup, BikeLoud will commemorate road deaths by all modes

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 14:15
The Facebook page for the new “subgroup”
Livable Streets Action.

A new group called Livable Streets Action is taking the tactics that have won a string of victories for local biking this spring and summer and applying them to other modes, too.

Organizer Dan Kaufman, a videographer and longtime local social justice advocate who has helped organize demonstrations for transportation activism group BikeLoudPDX and the bike-based but non-transportation-focused group Bike Swarm, referred to Livable Streets Action as a “subgroup” of those other groups.

Livable Streets Action’s first event is tomorrow, a Friday afternoon commemoration for Marlene Popps, a woman who was hit by a car and left for dead on the evening of July 4 at the corner of SE 60th and Holgate. She died of her injuries July 21.

The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the corner of SE Holgate and Foster, about three blocks from the site of Popps’s collision. It’s seen 22 reported traffic injuries between 2004 and 2014. Foster Road, which is due for a safety redesign next year, is one of Portland’s 10 high-crash corridors. Here’s the event listing on the Shift calendar.

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“We will also take this last day of the month to remember the approximately 30 deaths on Oregon roads in July,” Kaufman wrote in his Facebook event description. “So far for the year we are 44% increase in road fatalities over 2014. Motorists account for the most deaths followed closely by pedestrians.”

Portland’s Vision Zero policy, adopted by the city council this year, aims to eliminate traffic deaths of people no matter how they are moving about the city. But in part because bicycling advocates have been particularly loud and well-organized, the issue of traffic safety has come to be closely associated with bicycling, with media reports regularly characterizing general traffic safety protests as being in support of bicycle safety. That’s prompted some discussion among BikeLoud organizers of how to better broaden their message and appeal in some situations.

In an email to the BikeLoudPDX listserv, Kaufman wrote that he hopes Livable Streets Action “can develop into a coalition of groups interested direct action in the support of liveable streets.”

Kaufman noted that Popps’ son Mike Neldon is working to raise $5000 for her memorial, and asked that people attending Friday’s action “bring a hat or bucket to help collect funds and a sign that indicates why you are there. We will be marching, collecting donations, and raising awareness at the crash site and around the intersection of SE Holgate and Foster.”

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Another outsider’s take: A British bike journalist on Portland

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 07:29
Carlton Reid in Grant Park in June.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Many BikePortland readers are familiar with the work of Carlton Reid, a leading writer for the U.K. news outlet BikeBiz. As of last month, Reid is familiar with Portland, too.

Reid stopped through town for a few days on a tour promoting his new popular history of early bicycling, Roads Were Not Built for Cars. As a side project, he also put together one of the most concisely accurate summaries I’ve seen of Portland and biking at this moment in our history.

Here’s a passage from the piece published today on BikeBiz:

Bike commuters may dominate in some bohemian enclaves but across the city they make up just six percent of the total. This is stellar by U.S. standards – ten times the norm, in fact – but in comparison with, say, Copenhagen, it’s not even in the same galaxy.

Stats can be misleading though. When riding around Portland it’s clear this is a city where, in certain areas, cycling is perfectly normal, not just for getting to work but for running errands or riding to a night out. Bars and shops have bike-corrals (rows of cycle parking hoops instead of car parking spaces) and the light rail system is geared up to take bikes. Portland’s six percent modal share has to be seen in context – in 1990 it was just 1 percent. Between 2000 and 2008 the civic authority’s proactive bicycle programme helped add the other five percent, and the city has held it at that level ever since. Ten percent of kids cycle to school, nine percentage points higher than the U.S. national average.

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Portland’s rich and diverse cycling cultures will easily maintain the existing modal share. The civic goal is to increase it to 25 percent within the next decade, and that’s a tough ask, even for a city that spawned Pedalpalooza, an annual 250-event from-the-street bike festival.

To increase cycling’s modal share it’s obvious that Portland’s car-use would have to be restricted, and hard infrastructure for cyclists would have to be built. Cycle use would then explode in Portland, profiting the city’s numerous bicycle businesses, making the city even more liveable, and not just for cyclists in gluten-free kilts.

It’s a nicely balanced piece that also describes our annoyingly but usefully fractured street grid as “staccato,” which I love. Check it out — and check out that book of Carlton’s, too, which has a tablet version with photos and video that pushes the boundaries of what a modern history book can and should be like.

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Wonk Night recap: Calls for a coalition and more cooperation

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 20:45

(Photo: Armando Luna)

Special thanks to Lancaster Engineering for hosting and to Omission Beer for donating drinks.

You know that point in a relationship when something starts feeling a bit off and you’re like, “Baby, we need to talk.” That’s how I’ve been feeling about the bike advocacy scene here in Portland. And that’s why I figured it was time to get some people together to hash a few things out.

We didn’t solve everything at Wonk Night last night and I’m sure people left with more questions than answers; but it was a great conversation and I think we’re all better off because of it.

The 45 or so people who showed up represented a mix of local advocacy groups and organizations. We had reps from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, BikeLoudPDX, Oregon Walks, the Northwest Trail Alliance, East Portland Action Plan, many neighborhood activists, Better Block PDX, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the City’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and others.

Paul Jeffrey, Emily Guise, and Jessica Engelman.

I didn’t have a set agenda for the meeting. I just tried to set the table with a few ideas and then let the conversations go wherever people wanted to take them. From the outset one major issue kept coming up: For bicycling to grow in Portland, we need to build a much broader coalition.

We also talked about the direct-action activism BikeLoudPDX has been doing (one of their volunteers referred to them as “the Greenpeace of bicycle groups in Portland”), and how that compares to the more conservative, behind-the-scenes style of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Instead of focusing on specific projects or issues, I encouraged everyone to step back and look at the advocacy ecosystem as it’s functioning today and think of ways it might work better. We mostly all want the same things: a great city where everyone can enjoy safe streets without all the stress and fear.

So, if we all want the same thing and we have so many great advocates working on it, why is bicycling stagnating in Portland?

Brian Davis from Lancaster Engineering (he also wrote an editorial on Vision Zero in the Tribune a few weeks ago) said it’s because Portland lacks a champion of the bicycling cause. “Portland lacks a vocal leader for these issues that’s able to harness the energy in this room,” he said. Then he urged someone to “File your papers and run for city council!”

Here’s another theory (that I excitedly shared last night right as it popped into my head): For years now, transportation and livable streets activism in Portland has been dominated by bikes. (You’ll note that much of the recent Vision Zero media coverage frames the concept as coming from “the bike community” when it’s really not a mode-specific concept at all.) So when bikes fell out of political favor in 2009, it took the livable streets agenda down with it.

The phenomenon described above could be another good reason to diversify the voices around transportation activism — so that the agenda is more resilient to the vicissitudes of local politics and public perceptions.

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We also have a lot of cooks in the advocacy kitchen here in Portland. I tried to spur some conversation about the tension I and others have between the different styles of advocacy displayed by the BTA and by BikeLoudPDX and other independent activists.

Jessica Engelman with BikeLoudPDX said her group worked very hard to turn people out for their recent Day of Protests at City Hall, only to have about 100 people show up. “It’s hard enough to get the advocates to come out, how do we get those silent supporters to show up too?” she wondered.

Gerik Kransky with the BTA said he’s felt the attacks online that his organization isn’t doing what some people want them to do. But, “Instead of throwing rocks at the 800-pound gorilla,” he said, “Work with us. Call me. I want to find a way to work together.”

We all agreed that both types of advocacy are crucial to a healthy ecosystem; but there are still ways these different ends of the spectrum can be more productive. It’s a work in progress.

Another problem facing bike and traffic safety advocacy in Portland right now is that there are many voices we aren’t hearing from — or that we’re simply not listening to.

Kristi Finney.
(Can someone tell me the other person’s name?)

Kristi Finney, the woman whose son Dustin Finney died while biking on SE Division four years ago, said she wants to get more “everyday people” involved. “I want to make streets safer for people who don’t even realize that the streets are unsafe.”

As a social worker, Finney sees the impact of traffic violence on a regular basis. “You wouldn’t believe how many people I meet who say they were in a crash and their lives have fallen apart,” she said. After her son was killed, Finney said something changed in her brain for good and she wants to work with other people who’ve had that tragic enlightenment. She’s working with Oregon Walks and the BTA to create an advocacy group made up of survivors that will be called “Families for Safe Streets.”

And judging from the faces in the room last night, we also need to get more women and people of color involved with these conversations. (I’ve already started thinking about how to make that happen for our next event. Stay tuned!)

And that brings us back to the importance of building a coalition.

Several people brought up the New York City model, where they have Transportation Alternatives, a powerful advocacy group whose mission is to, “reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile and to promote bicycling, walking, public transit.”

Gerik Kransky, and Alex Reed.

Unless the BTA decides to undergo a major transformation (which they don’t seem interested in), Portland doesn’t have a group like that. And, given how busy everyone is already, there doesn’t seem to be an appetite to start one.

Rather, the idea that proved popular was to form a lean, umbrella coalition. In some ways, the BTA has already been doing this on an informal basis. Here’s what their Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky said about the topic last night:

“Our most successful strategy has been to engage with lots of other organizations. When you bring that approach to campaigns it dissolves political rancor. If you show up talking bikes only, you’re not meeting the needs of city hall. City hall isn’t getting a victory by meeting only bike needs.”

Ryan Hashagen with Better Block PDX wholeheartedly agreed with Kransky. He said the only way his group got PBOT to sign off on the Better Naito project — which has created a lane for biking and walking only on Naito Parkway — was because they talked about it as something that would “improve the public space for people to walk and enjoy Waterfront Park.” There’s a reason you don’t see the word “cycle track” or “bikeway” in that sentence.

But we should also not fear the b-word. Brian Davis shared his opinion that, while coalition-building is important, “It’s also important to realize that bikes aren’t a topic to be avoided. The bike is a silver bullet solution,” he said, “It solves so many things and does so essentially for free that we should milk bikes for all they’re worth.”

An idea suggested by Tony Jordan last night was to use the model of Jobs with Justice or Basic Rights Oregon. The groups aligned under those umbrella organizations cross-support each other. They have an email network and, as long as an action, rally, or issue, aligns with their stated objectives, all the groups will turn out to support each other. “If you go to one group’s rally,” Jordan said, “they’ll come to yours.”

Or, put another way by Kransky, “If we can help other people, they will help us.”

And Steph Routh, former Executive Director of Oregon Walks, told us if a coalition is what we want, we’ll need to look farther upstream and “be willing to have uncomfortable conversations.”

If, for instance we want to push for safer streets in an area that happens to have a high population of people experiencing homelessness, she said, “we need to realize we’re talking about funding for affordable housing, direct services, and care for returning veterans, and so on.”

So, it seems to me this coalition would have a stated goal to promote great streets and it should be an umbrella group that can be nimble and flexible in order to absorb many partners, while having an impact without too much overhead. Sounds pretty simple right? Nope.

It won’t be quick or easy to build a strong and lasting coalition; but it might be the only way to push through The Great Stagnation.

Please share your thoughts. If you attended the event or not, I’d love to hear from you.

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Police response to Greenpeace action closes south sidewalk of St Johns Bridge (updated)

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 16:07
Activists hang from the St. Johns Bridge
to block an oil ship’s passage.
(Photo: Greenpeace USA)

Update 5:45 p.m.: Police now say that only the southeast sidewalk (upstream, closer to downtown Portland) is closed and that officers were mistaken when they previously blocked people from crossing the bridge on bike or foot.

“It was just that someone didn’t get told,” Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Greg Stewart said Wednesday evening. “We’re just having people use the other side of the street.”

An updated version of the original post follows.

Some Portland police officers ordered the sidewalks of the St. Johns bridge closed to foot and bike traffic in response to a direct action on the bridge Wednesday.

Late Wednesday, police changed their operation and closed only the southeast (upstream) sidewalk to people on foot or bike.

The action, organized by environmental group Greenpeace, aims to block a Shell Oil ship from heading to the Arctic. The Oregonian and other outlets reported Wednesday that activists are prepared to remain dangling from the bridge by rope for days. A police spokesman said the sidewalks would remain closed until the rope-sitters are gone.

The bridge is the only bike-foot crossing of the Willamette River between Longview, 50 miles to the northwest, and the Broadway Bridge in downtown Portland. The lanes of the bridge, which have relatively high speeds and low-visibility but are marked with sharrows, remain open to people on bikes and in motor vehicles.

Hamilton described the Greenpeace action as “to stop an icebreaker from leaving for the polar ice cap, or at least what’s left of it.”

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Sharrows were added to the St. Johns Bridge in 2012.

Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Greg Stewart said Wednesday that his understanding is that police officers will be stationed at the sidewalks on the bridge landings, turning sidewalk traffic back. Stewart said there are “several” reasons to close the sidewalks, but that the “primary” one is the safety of the demonstrators.

“The ropes are accessible, and there could be conflict between the parties up there and other people crossing,” Stewart said. “We want to be extra certain given that they’re hanging, it looks like a couple hundred feet in the air, that they’re safe.”

“There’s a whole host of things that can happen when people are 300 feet over a railing and things are really tense,” Stewart said. “Until that’s resolved, there won’t be any pedestrian traffic.”

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Don Hamilton said Wednesday that his agency, which oversees the bridge, is complying with a police request early this morning to close the sidewalk.

Hamilton said the demonstrations began around 1 a.m. Wednesday. The Portland Mercury has a summary of the action itself.

“We have no estimated time right now for reopening,” Hamilton said.

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More biking = better driving. So why isn’t this said more often?

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 13:01
Supercommuter Kyle Carlson preparing to head home.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

An article published today by the Portland-based magazine Oregon Business takes a look at a handful of local bike-commuting superstars who regularly pedal 20 to 40 miles each way to work and back.

Biking fans won’t find many surprises in the piece, though that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of interviewees like Kyle Carlson, a recent Friday Profile subject here at BikePortland who bikes 39 miles from Hillsboro to North Portland and back several times a week.

But one passage in the post is a little unfamiliar in Portland’s transportation conversation these days. It’s the simple but (for some reason) rarely discussed fact that if Portland doesn’t decrease the percentage of trips that happen by car, everybody who actually needs to get around by car or truck is going to be screwed.

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From the piece’s interview with Jason Gast, a 48-mile-a-day Portland-to-Hillsboro bike commuter:

“Washington County is doing a lot to make lanes safer. But for a lot of folks they would be scared,” says Gast. He has done this commute for the past five years and noticed more cars on the road as well as more cyclists. Gast chooses to commute to work partly because he finds road traffic so frustrating. “The traffic situation in our area is not getting any better,” he says. “I can never see myself being a car commuter.”

Portland’s population is expected to grow by 280,000 in the next decade, creating a transportation headache for city planners. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is heading an initiative to create a network of biking and pedestrian trails in Portland city center and the central eastside to encourage people to commute by bike and public transit instead of driving.

Again, people already attuned to Portland transportation policy are not going to be gobsmacked by this revelation. Which is exactly why it’s so odd that “when biking is easy, it makes driving easier too” is so absent from our civic conversation.

I got home a few hours ago from a two-week vacation in Colombia (more on that in the next couple days) and it was as intense a reminder as I’ve had of the cost drivers face in cities that are rapidly adding residents but not investing in space-efficient transportation infrastructure like bike facilities and mass transit. Though many people in and around Portland seem open to the concept that if you hate congestion you should love bicycles, it’s not an idea we often hear from most local leaders. In fact, our region’s organized business advocates and some suburban politicians often seem fixated on the fantasy of perpetual automobile capacity. Hopefully some of those folks — or at least the generation that’s slowly moving in to succeed them — are reading Oregon Business.

Thanks for the tip to reader Todd B.

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Security video helps police nab prolific bike thief (yet again)

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 11:52
Johnathan Dubouis in March 2015 in Waterfront Park
under the Burnside Bridge. He asked to pose with
these bolt-cutters, which PPB officers photographed
as evidence prior to arresting him.
(Photo: Portland Police Bureau)

The Portland Police have nabbed one of our city’s most prolific bike thieves: 29-year old Johnathan Marcel Dubouis. Dubouis was arrested on Sunday night, just about 24 hours after he appeared in security camera footage stealing a woman’s bike in southwest Portland.

Screengrab from KGW story.

On Saturday evening, KGW-TV ran a story about a bike theft that happened in front of the Multnomah Athletic Club in Goose Hollow. The segment aired footage from the club’s security camera that showed a man committing the theft. His long red hair was unmistakable for those of us that know Dubouis from his previous activities.

Back in November 2014 I recovered my own bike from underneath the I-5 overpass adjacent to the Eastbank Esplanade. With my bike firmly in hand I rode past some people who live under the freeway near the Hawthorne Bridge. As I did, Dubouis poked his head up. I knew his face from a “hot sheet” of known bike thieves the PPB had sent around to local bike shops.

Dubouis noticed me as I rode slowly past because I was ghost-riding a bike with one hand. Still upset at having my bike stolen, I asked him what he and others were doing with so many bikes and bike parts. He said they were just fixing up bikes that people people donate to them. When I told him mine had been stolen and I was suspicious that perhaps he knew something about it, he became upset and told me to leave. So I did; but not before hearing him rattle off a bunch of things about my bike. He was listing its features and components as if to impress me with his bike knowledge (instead, it just confirmed for me that he’s probably the guy who stole my bike).

Dubouis in November 2014.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A few days later I returned to the Esplanade (underneath the Burnside Bridge) to check on a tip about a pile of bikes underneath a tarp. As I poked around the tarp, someone appeared from under the bridge. It was Dubouis. On that occasion we chatted for several minutes. I told him I wanted to learn more about bike theft in Portland. He said he knew people that were involved in it; but that he personally was just liked fixing them up and collecting vintage parts. He admitted to me he’d been arrested for bike theft but that he was always let go due to lack of evidence or proof of his guilt.

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Since that meeting, Dubouis has been arrested twice for bike theft.

On the night March 13th, he was taken into custody after PPB Officers Dave Bryant and Dave Sanders (the two Central Precinct officers we work with on the Bike Theft Task Force) questioned him about some suspicious bicycles he was working on under the west end of the Burnside Bridge. These officers know Dubouis well and have arrested him for bike theft “multiple times” before.

In the arrest report filed after that March 13th arrest, Ofcr. Sanders shared this interesting back-and-forth (emphases mine):

“While we were talking with Dubois [sic]… he would periodically fiddle with his bike. Welsh [another man they’ve arrested for bike theft in the past] and Dubois both asked us questions about the media attention regarding bike theft and we discussed this issue with them at length. At one point, I asked Dubois what his solution was to addressing bike theft in the city and he said, “I’d tell ’em to stop stealing the shitty bikes, and just go after the nice ones”. He said that anyone who locks up a $3000 bike with a cable lock ‘won’t make that mistake twice’. He told me on his own to the effect of ‘I’m not saying I’ve never stolen a bike before’. To this, I asked him how many bikes he’s stolen. He said “about seven”. Additionally, he told me he has stolen bike components before as well, and then proceeded to make fun of people who left bike lights, etc. on their bikes. Dubois told me he does not steal bikes anymore, though.”

The officers also found a pair of large bolt-cutters in Dubouis’ possession. Sanders wanted to photograph them as evidence and Dubouis requested to pose in the photo.

Dubouis’ latest arrest for bike theft was on Sunday night. Sanders said the video allowed them to identify Dubouis and go pick him up. Now Sanders is working with the Deputy District Attorney to see what type of charges might apply. In Oregon, property theft becomes a felony if the stolen items are worth over $1,000.

Even if Dubouis gets the felony charge, his jail sentence won’t amount to much and he’ll soon be back on the street. Even Leroy Parsons, a man the PPB call the “kingpin” of bike theft who admitted stealing expensive bikes on a KGW-TV segment, served just 90 days. (And by the way, Sanders told me at Sunday Parkways that Parsons is back on the streets already.)

These cases illustrate that enforcement isn’t the only tool we need to address bike theft. Bike theft is just the tip of a very large iceberg of failed social policies and a lack of funding for people in need. Both Parsons and Dubouis (and many other people arrested for bike theft) are methamphetamine addicts who need help to treat their abuse and get their lives turned around.

If you’re frustrated, you might like to hear what Ofcr. Sanders had to share about the change he’s noticed in the bureau since the bike theft issue has been given a higher profile:

“I was encouraged that we were able to identify/arrest Dubois based on the video. Also encouraging was the fact that I instantly received emails from officers who recognized Dubois after the video was aired on KGW. That shows an increased awareness of bike theft by officers on the streets and an awareness of those stealing them. Every day around the office, I am hearing officers talking about bike theft cases and sharing information about them — something that was largely absent even several years ago. I hope this trend continues as we promote the problem more to our officers in Portland.”

Educating officers about bike theft is one of the main areas that Ofcr. Sanders and his partner Dave Bryant have focused on as part of their work on the Bike Theft Task Force. That effort is now four months old and continues to grow and get stronger. Stay tuned for more updates.

In the meantime, please contact Mayor Charlie Hales and let him know that want him to make these issues a higher priority.

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Open house will feature ODOT plans for notorious section of Powell Blvd

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 09:47
A protestor at the May 11th rally held at SE Powell and 26th.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation is ready to share their plans for making SE Powell Blvd safer. Their “Powell Boulevard Safety Project” will spend $3.8 million on the segment of the roadway between 20th and 34th.

The project includes the intersection of SE 26th where Alistair Corkett was involved in a collision back in May that resulted in his leg being torn off. Then a few weeks later another man was seriously injured from a collision in the same intersection.

While their Powell project isn’t slated for construction until 2017, ODOT fast-tracked a left-turn signal at Powell and 26th immediately following those two collisions.

According to ODOT, this stretch of Powell, “has a history of problems, including a high rate of rear-end and turning crashes involving bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians.” As contributing factors for these crashes, ODOT lists, “poor visibility, limited sight distances, frequent left turns and side streets too close to one another for optimal safety.”
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ODOT doesn’t list high speeds as one of the problems.

While safety activists and local residents dream of a kinder and gentler Powell, it’s important to note that it’s a state highway (26) and it carries a very high volume of motor vehicles. ODOT considers it to be, “the main road between Portland and Bend.”

That being said, here’s what ODOT will do with the $3.8 million:

  • New left turn signals at Southeast 21st, 26th (already installed) and 33rd
  • Three new rapid flash beacons and pedestrian median safety islands at Southeast 24th, 31st and 34th
  • Improved signs and lighting and new high visibility striping.
  • Improved sidewalks and ramps, including a wider sidewalk at the southeast corner of Southeast Powell and 26th Avenue, across the street from Cleveland High School.
  • Improved sight lines through the corridor to make sure bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians can see each other better.
  • This section of the highway is part of U.S. 26, the main road between Portland and Bend, and is heavily used by commuters, bicyclists, pedestrians, mass transit and heavy trucks. Average daily traffic in the corridor ranges from 34,600 to 38,500.

Without speed on ODOT’s radar, we worry that “improving sight lines through the corridor” will encourage people driving on SE Powell to go even faster.

If you have thoughts to share with ODOT about this project, consider showing up to the open house Thursday night (7/30) from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at First Floor Cafe at Catholic Charities (2740 SE Powell Blvd). You can also send questions and feedback to ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator Dee Hidalgo via email at

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Heroic bike shop employee wrestles back stolen track bike

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 15:39
Alleged thief on stolen bike.
(Photo: Nate Gibson)

Thanks to the quick thinking and brave action of a bike shop employee in southwest Portland, one of three track racing bikes stolen from Alpenrose Velodrome last week has been recovered.

Nate Gibson, an undergrad at Portland State University and employee at Southwest Bicycle, contacted us today with the good news.

Here’s Gibson’s version of events:

“So here goes, I’m finally calm enough to sit down and type.

So, I’m walking back to my shop from the coffee shop when I see a guy (young male with his shirt unbuttoned) on a track bike. I instantly knew something was wrong and followed him around the corner. My brain said “that’s the bike stolen from alpenrose!” So, I grabbed him and asked “where the fuck did you get that bike?” He claimed he “bought it in north Portland for $300″ I said “bullshit you did” and grabbed the saddle and refused to let go, while asking a guy walking buy to call 911.

He tried to take off but I wouldn’t let go and managed to try and snap pictures at he same time so at least I’d have his photo in case he did break free.

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Safe and sound.
(Photo @ElroyArt on Twitter)

Me and the bystander had to hold him for about 15 minutes before the cops did show up. He kept screaming obscenities at me and tried to wrestle away many times. I let the air out of the rear tire so in case he did get away he wouldn’t be able to ride it. But being a track bike with no brakes, track pedals and tall gearing, it would have been extremely difficult to actually ride anyway.

The officers that showed up knew exactly which bike it was, as they just personally filed the report. They were very helpful and the one officer was taking about how stoked he was that we recovered it and that “bike thieves make him sick”.

Very nicely done Nick! I think Stephen McLaughry owes you a debt of gratitude for getting his bike back to him safe and sound.

This reminds me of many other recoveries we’ve had over the years thanks to bike shop employees. There’s something about a trained eye that can spot odd bike/biker situations. Now, hopefully the other two bikes turn up.

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City advisory committees oppose TriMet’s plans for swing gates on Orange Line

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 14:52
Swing gates.
(Photo: TriMet)

Official Bureau of Transportation committees that represent two of the groups TriMet is trying to keep safe from MAX trains on the new Orange Line — people who walk and bike — oppose the agency’s plan to use swing gates at the entry and exit of tracks at two intersections in inner southeast Portland.

After hearing about plans for the path at SE 8th and 11th, the City of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and Pedestrian Advisory Committee have both issued formal letters of opposition to TriMet.

The bicycle committee outlined several reasons for their disapproval. The main reason is, “the operating difficulties they will impose on members of the traveling public – principally those who are bicycling or walking.”

Here’s more from their letter:

“As you heard at the BAC [Bicycle Advisory Committee] meeting, these swing gates pose difficulties for those using non-standard (but not uncommon) bicycles. These include cargo bikes, especially front loading cargo bikes used to transport children. They also include tricycles, and recumbent bicycles. The population using these bikes, especially the latter two types, often include seniors and others who may be experiencing physical challenges that make it difficult for them to operate a standard bicycle. The swing gates will make it awkward, if not impossible to proceed through the area while sitting on the bicycle itself. The difficulties of people bicycling and dismounting and then pushing their bikes through the gates is unknown at this point as that has not been tested. We are concerned about this particularly at 8th Avenue which is part of the routing for one of the city’s planned Major City Bikeways along an alignment that generally follows 9th Avenue.”

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Both the BAC and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee also expressed serious concerns about mobility issues the gates would present to people with severe disabilities. When a BAC member asked TriMet what would happen if a quadriplegic tried to use the gates, committee Chair Ian Stude says that input was, “simply dismissed by [TriMet] staff.”

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee (PAC) said they oppose swing gates because they, “would be very difficult if not impossible for people with disabilities to use.”

For their part, TriMet does appear to have modified their proposal after the BAC meeting on July 14th. When they brought the plans to the PAC on the 21st, they had made some revisions. According to someone who was at that meeting, TriMet is now considering using “switchback” type crossings at SE 8th. These crossings are common on current MAX lines on N Interstate Avenue and E Burnside. They require people to make a sharp zig-zag turn prior to entering and exiting the tracks.

In a statement last week, TriMet said they’re “continuing to work on alternatives that respond to the feedback we’ve received from the community, our partners and from our safety and security team.” The agency expects to announce next steps by the end of this month.

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The Monday Roundup: ‘Unreal’ riding, driving bans, bike theft success, & more

Mon, 07/27/2015 - 09:43

Here are the best stories we came across last week…

Uber horror story: This lawyer paints an unsettling picture of what happens when a person on a bicycle gets involved in a collision with an Uber driver.

Language drives culture: The “crash not accident” meme got some solid media coverage following the big Vision Zero vigil in New York City two weeks ago. got into the history of automotive industry propaganda and does a great job explaining the power behind word choice.

Slate crashes: On the other hand, Slate isn’t so sure about it. No word yet whether they’ve reconsidered their policy after their article was eviscerated by BikeSnobNYC.

Who rides where matters: The Safe Routes to School National Partnership published a new report on the “intersection of active transportation and equity.”

True cost of “free”ways: First the State of Iowa admitted they need fewer roads, now an official from the state of Minnesota has apologized for how the construction of a major Interstate freeway demolished an entire neighborhood.

Artisan freeways: Given the links above, I think this Politico story that fawns over the “art of the interchange” and “seductive tangle” of mega-highways must have been secretly funded by highway builders.

Milwaukee’s highway addiction: Presidential candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants to burnish his conservative bona fides — but his addiction to spending money on mega-highways tells a much different story.

Asphalt is over: Speaking of roads, will future ones be made of recycled plastic? A company from The Netherlands hopes so. They’ve got an idea to make plastic roads as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut costs.

Adventure ride recap: Portlander Maria Schur shared her account of the Oregon Outback in her usually funny, positive, and inspiring way.

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Scofflaw study: Research from University of Colorado finds that, guess what, whether we’re in cars or on bikes we are all human! As such, we exhibit strikingly similar rates of non-compliance when it comes to traffic laws. But what’s more important is why we break them.

Bikes as “slow vehicles”: A fascinating bit of legislative wrangling in California about how bicycle riders are treated on rural roads.

Super-grandpa: Great to see the story of Gustaf Håkansson spread. A children’s book about this legendary man has been a staple in our house for many years.

Seattle’s family biking activist: You should get to know more about Davey Oil, the Seattle bike shop owner, family biking evangelist and activist. Profiled on The Bicycle Story, Mr. Oil shares important insights about the lack of radical activism in Seattle, racism in the bike movement, and more.

Bike theft down in Denmark: Rare and interesting look at bike theft problem in one of the most bike-friendly nations on earth. Advocates in Copenhagen say a 50 percent decline in stolen bikes could be a result of people buying better locks.

Hi-viz law spreads: It appears that, unfortunately, Oregon isn’t the only place where lawmakers think mandatory high-visibility clothing will improve safety for bicycle riders.

Bodies biking: A must-read from Selene Yeager on about recent national coverage of elite athlete’s bodies. The moral of her story: Ride hard and be proud of of how your body looks.

Call it the money trail: One of the very few pieces of U.S. road infrastructure I am truly jealous of is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Now, with a study that found it is an unqualified economic development success story, I love it even more.

This story stinks: The headline says it all: “Pooping Cyclist Blamed for 73-Acre Idaho Wildfire

Progressives killed SF? Citylab looks into how San Francisco got into such a housing mess. What they found is similar to Portland’s story — people who once fought for change, now fight to prevent it.

Driving bans are so hot right now (because so is our planet): Hundreds of cities will ban driving for one day during European Mobility Week this coming September. Oh how I wish Portland would be on this list.

Beautiful bike riding: This video of Brandon Semenuk would be cool any way it was shot — but the fact that it was filmed with one continuous take is simply amazing…

— If you come across a noteworthy 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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Fatbiking Ross Island without a boat (video)

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 15:06

*Please see the note below this article: Since posting this video I’ve been informed that, while public access is technically allowed below the high-water mark, there are serious concerns by some people who feel that any encouragement of biking and/or unregulated public access is not advisable on Ross Island due to its status as a natural area.

I figured this video of Dan Kaufman and Nathan Jones floating their fatbikes across the Willamette to Ross Island was the perfect way to head into the weekend.

As you’ve noticed, our News Editor Michael Andersen has been gone for two weeks on his honeymoon, so I’ve been trying to keep things afloat on my own. I did this for many years; but it’s harder now (for various reasons I won’t get into right now) and by the end of the week my brain is really fried.

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When Dan sent me this video a few hours ago, I felt more relaxed immediately. And I had no idea that fat bikes floated! It’s so fun to watch, I bet it’d be even more fun to do. Speaking of which, Dan shared a few tips if you want to try it.

  • No helmet needed but wear a life vest
  • Go at low tide
  • Bring your river shoes
  • Bring a safety flag if you plan to cross the large channels
  • Know if there are any harmful algal blooms and avoid them (the current one has gone way beyond the Ross Island Sand and Gravel lagoon)
  • Camping is allowed up to the annual high water mark. Why not spend the night?
  • Follow the posted instructions for the wildlife area and gravel operation

And if you need a fatbike, Nathan rents them at his shop.

Have a great weekend, wherever your bike takes you.

NOTE: We have been contacted by Mike Houck, director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute. Houck is concerned by our portrayal of biking on Ross Island. This is his statement:

“While you are technically correct that people can access the island below ordinary high water I’m sure you can appreciate people do not, in fact, respect where they are above or below. Ross Island has no public access, either on the privately owned portions or Portland Parks’ 45 acres. As for biking on Ross and East Island, it goes without saying, I would hope, that it is not consistent with the fact that it’s a wildlife refuge”

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Megan Holcomb has recovered her stolen bike!

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 13:59
Reunited and it feels so good.

Great news Portland: Megan Holcomb, the woman who was visiting our fair city and got her beloved touring bike stolen a few nights ago, has found her bike and the two have been united.

Here’s what she just posted on her Facebook page:

UPDATE. MAJOR UPDATE: The good in Portland prevails.

Another beautiful story to add to this tour in an entire chapter of its own. . .
My 2-wheeled companion and I have been reunited. We are both slightly changed – for the better. My bike angel, and Portland’s new hero, Andrea Gellatly, recovered the bike. Although I still can’t believe it, this is real. The community who came together over this, who shared my post, who told their friends, who wished me luck… it worked. We did it. My heart is so full of love for this city, and for everyone far and wide who somehow heard my story and took a moment to care and empathize. Not because it brought the bike back, but because it brought us all together. This city is definitely weird but dang do you all have heart!!! Incredible. Its really beyond words. Thank you! Every single one of you.

Her story was shared on Facebook over 46,000 times in just a few days and this theft is definitely the largest community effort to recover a stolen bike I have ever witnessed. Amazing.

I’ll update this story as I receive more info.

UPDATE: Megan said she got a text about her bike at 1:30 pm today and she’s leaving town at 5:00. “An hour or more later and would have missed this opportunity!” “I was very very prepared to never see a single part of this bike again. So lucky I honestly almost feel guilty. This happens everyday to people.”

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Woman sues for over $670,000 after collision caused serious injuries

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 11:50

via The Oregonian

Cindy Lewellen, a 45-year old Portland resident who’s well-known in the local riding scene, filed a lawsuit this week against two people that she believes are liable for a collision that caused her serious injuries back in November.

It happened on NW St. Helens Road near that notorious intersection of Kittridge and Yeon (where the new Forest Park entrance is slated to go).

According to the lawsuit Lewellen was riding south in the bike lane. As she approached a driveway that led to United Rentals, a person driving in the adjacent lane had stopped for someone who wanted to turn left into the driveway. Here’s what happened next (according to the lawsuit, emphasis mine):

As defendant Juan Carlos Garcia was in the middle turn lane, defendant Jeffrey Lovelady [the person traveling in the same direction as Lewellen] indicated with his hands that defendant Juan Carols Garcia could make his turn in front of the motor vehicle defendant Jeffrey Lovelady was driving. Defendant Juan Carlos Garcia made the left turn directly in front of plaintiffs path of travel in the bicycle lane, causing a collision.

Lewellen is suing Garcia for making the turn and she’s suing Lovelady for encouraging him to do so.

This is a situation were a dreaded courtesy ended in with serious consequences. Lewellen was going 26 mph and was very badly injured in the collision. The lawsuit says she sustained a, “pelvic fracture, scapular fracture, rib fractures, sacral fracture, coccyx fracture, lung contusions, cardiac and pulmonary arrest, abrasions, contusions, and soft tissue injuries.”
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This case caught my attention for a several reasons.

First, the way The Oregonian treated it was very telling and unfortunate. Check out their headline:

I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but by referring to the person in the car as “well-intentioned” The Oregonian (or OregonLive, their website managers) pretty much guarantees an avalanche of mean comments (there are over 1,200 at this point) toward the person who filed the lawsuit. Especially when it’s a “cyclist.”

This is also the exact scenario that we published an article about last September. That article, written by lawyer Ray Thomas (who also happens to be Lewellen’s lawyer and a BikePortland advertiser) shared how being nice could make you liable in a collision.

Here’s what Thomas wrote:

“…when a driver waves another driver through stopped traffic — there can be disastrous consequences.

…the waver is assuming responsibility for conditions being safe to make the left turn.

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

Every time we wave someone through or across a lane when the law grants no right-of-way to the recipient of the ‘favor’ the possibility of a collision greatly increases.”

There’s also some legal precedent for finding the waver liable in a traffic collision (as reported by The Oregonian).

The other thing that stands out about this case for me is the speed Lewellen was traveling prior to the collision. 26 mph is much faster than usual for a person to travel on a bicycle in those conditions. People who don’t ride a bicycle themselves, or who aren’t familiar with bicycle traffic in general, would have a difficult time judging the trajectory of Lewellen’s path.

It’s a very interesting case and I’ll be curious how it turns out.

Read the lawsuit here (PDF)

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City and state working to help bicycle users get the green

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:25
PBOT’s new pavement marking.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The transportation agencies at the City of Portland and the State of Oregon want users of bicycles to have more success in triggering green lights at intersections.

At ODOT there’s concern that the passage of SB 533 might create dangerous situations. That bill, signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on May 21st, allows people riding bicycles and motorcycles to proceed through a red light if they’re undetected after one cycle. At PBOT, they also want to increase the number of people who know how to trigger green lights after a 2013 study showed half of Portland’s bike riders don’t know how to use the existing sensors.

To help with their education campaign, ODOT has created a new brochure (and posted it on their Bicyclist Safety webpage). ODOT Active Modes Traffic Engineer Gary Obery shared it with us yesterday.

Detail of ODOT brochure. (PDF)

ODOT’s worried that the new law creates unpredictable situations and that some riders will make poor decisions about when it’s safe to proceed through a red.

“With the passage of SB 533,” Obery said via email, “people on bicycles may be tempted to wait one cycle of the traffic signal and then, if they haven’t received a green, cross the intersection against a red light.” (That behavior is exactly what the law allows.) What Obery would rather have people do is get the existing signal sensor to detect their presence.

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Obery’s concerns echo testimony given by ODOT Traffic Safety Division rep Amy Joyce to a Senate Committee during consideration of SB 533 back in April. Joyce voiced serious concerns that the law would create unpredictable and dangerous situations. Instead of going through a red, she said a better option would be to do a two-stage turn (a.k.a. a “Copenhagen Left”) or push the walk sign button.

The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Safety opposed SB 533 on similar grounds. Instead of “seeking permission to run red lights,” their rep said at that April committee hearing they preferred a complaint-driven system where people on bikes and motorcycles would call a hotline and ask ODOT to adjust sensors. “We fear inexperience and peer pressure could be fatal for bicycles and motorcycles,” the rep said.

The law passed despite these concerns and objections, so now ODOT is in education mode in advance of it becoming effective on January 1, 2016.

Their new brochure offers three main tips to “get the green”:

  • Loop Detection: Many traffic signals are triggered by electrically charged wire loops buried under the pavement that sense the metal in arriving vehicles. Look for circle or square outlines cut
    in the pavement and filled with tar near intersections. These loops can generally detect your bike if the wheels are located over the loops as shown in the diagram to the right.
  • Video Detection: Some traffic signals are triggered by video detection cameras which are generally located near the traffic signal heads. You can improve your chance of being detected by waiting on the correct side of the white stop bar, sitting up straight on your bike, and wearing lighter-colored clothing.
  • Other Detection Hints: The signal does not “remember” that it detected you, so stay in the detection zone until you get a green light. If you have waited for more than two minutes, consider moving over to allow acar to move into a detection zone or go to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian push button.

As for PBOT, you might have noticed their latest education efforts out on the street. At NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (in photo above) they’ve unveiled a new symbol meant to communicate where your bike should go in order to trigger the sensor. This symbol is an updated version of others you’ve probably seen around town and it’s just their latest effort to make their signals more responsive to people riding bicycles and encourage more compliance with the law.

— Read our 2010 story, Bike Science: Making sense out of signal sensors to learn more about getting the green.

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Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, Go By Bike

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 07:58

We’ve had two great jobs and one volunteer opportunity listed this week. Learn more about them via the links below…

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. These are paid listings. If you’d like to post a job, you can purchase a listing online by visiting our Job Listings page.

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