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Updated: 14 hours 14 min ago

Fatal collision on SE Cesar Chavez and Gladstone – UPDATED

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 11:43
Streetview of SE Gladstone at SE Cesar Chavez (39th).

A man was killed today around noon when he was involved in a collision with a tow truck at SE Cesar Chavez (39th) and Gladstone.

Portland Police have not released any details, other than saying the tow truck operator is cooperating with the investigation.

Reader Tony Tapay lives a few blocks away and called us from the scene a few minutes ago.

He said the tow-truck is currently stopped in the northbound lanes of Cesar Chavez. The bike and the body are at rest in the northeast corner of the intersection in front of a Plaid Pantry store just beyond the bike box and green-colored pavement. Tapay tells us the tow-truck is operated by North Oregon Towing, which appears to be based in Estacada.

Reader Max C. also emailed us from the scene. He said patrons who were eating outside a cafe “were in shock.”

Another person on Twitter who claims they saw the collision happen says the tow-truck operator was driving east on Gladstone and made a left turn (north) onto Cesar Chavez. The bicycle rider, he says, was coming downhill on Gladstone traveling westbound prior to the collision.

Gladstone has a bike lane, a parking lane, and one standard vehicle lane at this intersection. It also has bike boxes on both sides of the intersection and green-colored pavement. Cesar Chavez has four standard lanes with no bike lane.

Ironically, just about one mile away, PBOT and the PPB are doing a crosswalk enforcement action at SE 26th and Powell where Alistair Corkett lost his leg in a collision with a truck driver earlier this month.

The police have the entire area closed off and we are waiting to find out more details.

If anyone saw what happened or has more information, please drop us a line.

This is the first fatal collision involving a bicycle rider in Portland in over a year.

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The Oregon Outback was the hardest — and best — ride I’ve ever done

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 11:34
Somewhere south of Prineville.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This coverage of the Oregon Outback is sponsored by 21st Avenue Bicycles and Mountain Shop. If you are bikepacking-curious or need to get equipped for an upcoming adventure, stop into these great Portland stores for expert advice and reliable gear.

In the past 38 years or so (since I learned to ride a bike when I was two), I have done a lot of memorable things on bicycles.

But none compare to what I just returned home from: a 365-mile unsupported odyssey through some of the most remote parts of Oregon on a ride known in bikepacking circles simply as “the Outback,” followed by a 140 ride back home to Portland.

506 miles and 42 hours of riding made for an absolutely unforgettable three days. You can view route details at

You might recall the guest article and photos we shared two years ago by one of the pioneers of this route, Gabriel Amadeus. He and Donnie Kolb of VeloDirt fame stitched out a ride through the dirt backroads of central Oregon and it’s quickly become almost a rite of passage for bikepackers. People ride it year-round and each Memorial Day weekend word spreads through social media and a larger group tackles it together on an unofficial “event” that has turned into a cycling version of Cannonball Run.

On Friday morning at 7:00 am about 200 people rolled into the start at Klamath Falls. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Unfortunately I missed the start by about 15 minutes so I scrambled out of town by myself under grey and drizzly skies. It was a very uneventful beginning.

Coming into this ride I had no idea what to expect. I had never done anything quite like it. I’ve done plenty of long, hard rides, and several self-supported tours. But the Outback is different. It’s nearly all dirt roads (just 25% is paved) and towns with services are few and far between. Yet, while there’s no official support, knowing there are so many other riders on the route with you is very reassuring. Think of it as a community-supported ride.

Speaking of those other riders, what an interesting bunch they were. Coming from the back of the pack I was able to ride by quite a few of them in those first few hours. I saw all types of riders and bikes. Many people were on mountain bikes and there are a lot of the traditional pannier/rack set-ups. People aiming to go faster opted for cyclocross or other drop-bar style bikes with frame bags. Portlander Mike Cobb was riding a fixed gear road bike with just a few small bags. I marveled at his spartan approach and his ability to turn his cranks up the dirt and rocky roads. There where also a few guys from Los Angeles who rode it on tall bikes (I never did actually see them, only heard about their exploits).

And everyone was on their own pace. Some planned on 50-60 miles per day with parties in camp each night, a handful of riders attempted to “race” it by riding all the way through with only short breaks.

That’s one thing I love about the Outback: everyone approaches it on their own terms. The common thread is that it’s all about enjoying the ride and having fun.

Early on the OC & E trail. Those clouds would produce serious rain in the next few hours.Nick Wood and his crew from 21st Avenue Bicycles.Taking refuge from one of Friday’s downpours.

The route begins with 70 miles on the OC & E Woods Line State Trail, a 100 year-old former rail line that once supported the area’s logging industry. While it’s paved for some of the way, the trail is much more demanding than its page on the Oregon State Parks website makes it out to be — especially in the unexpectedly wet conditions we faced as we rode through the marshy Sprague River Valley.

The rain was a big story at this year’s Outback. I, like most people I talked with, expected a few scattered showers (as per the forecast) but was not prepared (mentally) for hours of rain and at times a straight-up torrent. That made the OC & E section more challenging than expected as our tires sank into soft, moist dirt.

I was soaked to the bone on the first day of riding. But not once did I feel bad about it.

Very glad I packed my Mission Workshop Meridian jacket. Very impressive in the rain.

It’s one thing to get wet commuting home from work; but being out there in such a beautiful place on such a grand adventure, the rain just became another part of the experience. In some ways I feel like rain brings me closer to the environment I’m riding through. And on a ride like this, wet weather has advantages. For one, it made tire tracks easier to follow. The rain also tamped down dusty sections and firmed up loose stuff that (I heard) last year was much more difficult to ride.

Without having the route on GPS, I would question whether this was the right way! Sure doesn’t look like much of a “trail” to me.On Summer Lake in Fremont National Forest.

As Friday wore on I decided to ride at least to Silver Lake, about 120 miles into the route and a popular place for those on a three-day schedule. Silver Lake also has the first store directly on the route and at this point in our ride — with lots of rain and some real miles in our legs — it was a must stop. My impromptu riding partner David Boerner and I rolled up to the store around 5:30 pm and filled a bag with drinks and food. Doritos, coffee, trail mix, fruit, cheese — whatever we could find. As we sat on a curb trying to warm up other riders rolled in and did the same thing. One guy was shivering so much his foot-long hot dog nearly slipped out of the bun.

David Boerner refueling in Silver Lake

North of Silver Lake the road opened up. Way up. David and I rode due north, headed for Fort Rock hopefully by sunset.

That’s Fort Rock in the upper left.

David opted for dinner at The Waterin’ Hole Tavern in Fort Rock (about mile 140) but I wanted to keep riding so I headed north into the Deschutes National Forest. At about 9:30 pm I pulled over and set up camp on a bed of pine needles so soft my tent stakes barely stayed in the ground. It had been a 14-hour day. I fired up my stove, heated up some lentils, threw in some cheese and Doritos, then tucked into my sleeping bag. As I dozed off I heard the familiar sound of bike tires on gravel. It was David. “Hey J Maus!” he yelled as he rolled by, “Looks like you found a nice spot. See you up the road!”

The next day would be the hardest, but also the most memorable day on a bike I have ever experienced.

My plans for this ride were completely open. I figured I would be somewhere behind the racers and ahead of the folks who would take six days. I wanted to focus on the ride and was ready to push my limits. I also needed to get home and get back to family and work.

With no plan I figured I would just ride and see how things went. I’m not sure when on Saturday I decided to do it, but for some reason I told myself I would finish the entire route. Part of me couldn’t imagine riding 210 miles in one day (that’s 30 miles longer than I’d ever ridden at one time); but another part of me was saying, “Why not?”

So, with my music at full volume (my Buckshot Pro bluetooth speaker/lamp/power-source is one the best things I brought) I pedaled through the red roads and lava fields of the Deschutes National Forest (east of Paulina Lake and La Pine) and set out for Prineville.

The Crooked River.Aptly named Crooked River Highway is full of great views and wildflowers.

Prineville is the largest town on the route and I made the most of it. I checked out Good Bike Co., a fantastic bike shop that has everything you need to refuel (including good beer), refueled at a market, then had some tacos at a great little Mexican joint (Taqueria Mi Tiendita on Main Street if you’re taking notes). I also took some time to dry out my feet and socks because the shoes I wore (Shimano winter boots) are sealed for warmth and take forever to dry out.

I was obsessed with getting my feet dry after someone mentioned I probably had early stages of trench foot.

Prineville was at mile 225. I had ridden 75 miles since I left camp and if I wanted to finish I still had about 140 miles to go and it was already 2:30 pm or so. With so much riding left, it would have been easy to get discouraged at this point, but the riding north of Prineville was so inspiring all I wanted to do was keep pedaling to see what was around the next corner.

The farms and ranches were stunning. Some of the greenest pastures and happiest cows I’ve ever seen. And then came the Ochoco National Forest, which gave us a climb and descent that I will never forget.

Big climb up into the Ochocos.Couldn’t take my eyes off all the big ponderosa pines.

At the crest of the Ochoco climb (just over 5,000 feet elevation) I stopped to make a few adjustments when up rattled an old pickup. A man stepped out and asked if I was “One of those guys who left from Klamath Falls yesterday.” We exchanged pleasantries and he filled up one of my bottles. I was in the process of changing socks and told him about my feet. “Want a pair of dry socks?” he asked. This guy was a true trail angel (I declined the socks by the way).

Then came The Descent. 22 miles or so from the top of the Ochocos to the tiny wild west town of Ashwood. This would have been a memorable descent even if there hadn’t been torrential rains the night before. The conditions we faced were downright epic. Thick and sticky mud bogs, two-feet deep stream crossings, and rockslides. Oh what fun!

So much for keeping my feet dry.

Once the road dried out a bit, I was treated to perfect postcard views as I followed Trout Creek to Ashwood.

As I rolled past Ashwood and tackled a few grueling climbs, the sun was starting to set. I shared the company of my shadow and everything began to turn golden orange.

And then I ran into Mike Cobb and his fixed gear who I last saw at about mile 20. He was standing in the middle of the road taking photos. We were both feeling very grateful as we pedaled out the miles and had a perfect view of the sun setting over the Cascades.

As night fell, things got tougher for me. At 9:30 pm, 13 hours after I started riding and a few miles south of Antelope (mile 290 or so), I got a flat. It was a big gash in the sidewall of my tubeless tire. I hoped it would seal up; but of course it didn’t. Luckily I was prepared. I had light, a C02 cartridge, and a spare tube.

In Antelope I caught up to Mike. He showed me a water spigot he’d found so I topped off my bottles and readied for the climb that would take me up to Shaniko. I got to Shaniko around midnight and noticed a handful of tents set up. At this point I had 150 miles in my legs but I was only 60 miles from the finish line. I switched to my dry socks and decided to press on.

This was by far the hardest leg of the journey for me. I left Shaniko feeling great, pedaling fast on smooth pavement and thinking I was almost done. I was wrong. I spent the next five hours talking to myself, singing random things to the stars, thinking rocks and signposts were humans, and riding incessant rolling hills of dusty dirty loose gravel. My view never changed. I felt locked in a gravel prison. Like I was in solitary confinement and the walls were made of gravel.

I was definitely at my limit in this darkness (mentally and physically), but I knew that pedaling was the only way out. Then, at around 4:00 am or so, I noticed the stars were gone. It’s sort of funny, but I was surprised that the sky began to lighten up. “Oh, it’s the sunrise!” I remember thinking. This was new to me: On one bike ride I had watched the sun come up then set, the moon rise then set, and then the sun rise again.

The sun rose just as I started the steep climb up to Gordon Ridge, which stands 2,200 feet above the Columbia River Gorge. I was nearly done! You can almost see the anticipation in my face (mixed with delirium and exhaustion)…

Then it happened. I made it to the river. I was just a few miles from the end.

I didn’t want the ride to end. I pulled over one last time and snapped a photo of my companions, the road and the sun.

I rolled into the Deschutes River Recreation Area around 6:00 am on Sunday morning — 210 miles and nearly 24 hours after I started riding.

I found the first open tent site I could find, stuffed some food in my mouth, then grabbed my sleeping bag and took a nap. I hadn’t made any plans for how I would get home, so I thought I’d rest a bit and see how I felt. Could I ride home?

I spent about five hours bringing myself back to life and freshening up a bit. Then I hit the road again. I found a route on RideWithGPS (via Donnie Kolb) that would take me back to Portland via The Dalles, Hood River, then up and over Lolo Pass into Sandy. I left at about 11:00 am on Sunday morning.

Despite insanely strong winds that dogged me well into the route (even after I turned south from the Gorge), the ride home was fantastic. It was my first time ever on Lolo Pass Road and I got to do it at sunset, then descend into Sandy in the dark.

A turkey rueben from Big Jim’s Drive In on the eastern edge of The Dalles.Love The Dalles.Rowena CurvesMt. Hood peeks out onto Dee Highway.I turned left.

I loved the descent of Lolo Pass Road so much (the climb was neat too) I pulled over and shared a haiku on Instagram (cheesy, I know).

Like a torpedo. Shooting down Lolo Pass Rd. With only my light to see. #oregonoutback #oregonoutbackthenback #haiku

A photo posted by Jonathan Maus (@bikeportland) on May 24, 2015 at 10:33pm PDT

I rolled into my backyard at around 3:00 am on Monday morning. I felt exhausted, inspired, and thankful.

In total it had been about 67 hours since I left Klamath Falls and I had ridden 505 miles, climbed over 28,000 feet and spent 42 hours in the saddle.

As someone who likes pushing myself and going far, the ride stats are fun; but they don’t begin to capture what the Oregon Outback — and all rides like this — are truly about. What then, are they about? Everyone has their own answer to that question, but for me it’s about seeing new places, getting away from civilization, seeing what your body is capable of, and getting to know this great state of ours.

Thanks for coming along.

I would not have been able to do this trip without help from sponsors who supplied my gear — especially my Salsa Vaya with a full set of Revelate bags from 21st Avenue Bicycles. I will share more thoughts about what I used and how it worked in separate product review post.

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Portland parents launch national Vision Zero PAC to push ‘traffic violence apologists’ out of office

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 09:05
Chris Anderson and Amy Subach, with their two children.
(Photo: Megan Gray via Subach)

A Northeast Portland couple launched a political action committee this week that aims to push politicians out of office if they support the status quo on American streets.

Chris Anderson and Amy Subach say they were inspired by a local electoral win last year and empowered by, among other things, participating in this month’s die-in demonstration outside the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“I think that there absolutely needs to be the kind of advocacy organization for Vision Zero that’s not-modally-specific and nonconfrontational,” said Anderson. “Sort of like the BTA, but for drivers too.”

“I’m not interested in being that organization,” added Anderson, an entrepreneur who co-founded the software company Couchbase. “The way to get people that need to change their tone to change their tone is to be a takedown organization.”

“We ride our bikes with our daughter to and from school on the Going Street neighborhood greenway, and every single time we are out there a car runs a stop sign, or blasts down the street, because Portland politicians don’t have the will to make the streets safe for all users.”
— Amy Subach, Vision Zero PAC

With that in mind, Anderson and Subach, both 35, have begun tapping their networks to identify politicians from coast-to-coast who are, in Anderson’s phrase, “traffic violence apologists.” He says the organization will then take “gloves off” in raising and spending political money around the country to defeat them.

For example: the new organization is offering a $200 reward for a photo of New York City Council Member Rory Lancman texting while driving.

Last week, Lancman introduced a bill there that would make it harder to charge people with misdemeanors after they hit people in crosswalks with cars.

Subach and Anderson, who met while attending Reed College in 1998, have a four-year-old daughter and a nine-month-old son, and said they’re motivated by trying to move them safely around town.

“When we moved back to Portland two years ago, we were excited to ditch our cars and raise our family primarily using human powered transportation,” Subach, who also volunteers as social media coordinator for the local group Better Block PDX, wrote in an email Monday. “We discovered that Portland is selling a package of goods that it can’t deliver. People continue to get hurt and killed crossing streets. Parents who bike their kids to elementary school have to seek out support from other people driving cars and riding bikes so that they don’t get aggressively passed riding on the Clinton neighborhood greenway. We ride our bikes with our daughter to and from school on the Going Street neighborhood greenway, and every single time we are out there a car runs a stop sign, or blasts down the street, because Portland politicians don’t have the will to make the streets safe for all users.”

“The idea is not to go to the negotiating table with these people. It’s to use them as an example.”
— Chris Anderson, Vision Zero PAC

She said she and Anderson had “started talking about something like this pretty soon after we moved back here.” The effort isn’t affiliated with the recently launched Vision Zero Network or any other nonprofit.

“I think we’re both — the time is now,” Subach said. “It seems like it’s more of a national issue and it’s coming to a head, basically. People care about Vision Zero.”

Anderson said his goal for the organization is to replicate defeats like the one last November that helped keep Scott Barbur, a man who had joked on his Facebook page about killing people on bikes with his car, from winning a city council seat in the Portland suburb of Milwaukie.

“What I think I can do is focus on New York City, San Francisco and Portland, and basically just throw fuel on the fire,” Anderson said. “What happened with Scott Barbur was sort of a grassroots thing and it was overwhelming. He nuked himself. And if we can just make that something that politicians can be afraid of. … A couple of wins, I think it would send a clear message. And it would also help us set up a war chest.”

The Vision Zero PAC website, launched Monday: “In any cultural shift, there will be stragglers who defend the old order. Vision Zero PAC is here to remove those people from office.”

As for whether Barbur was a man with bad policies or just a man who acted thoughtlessly while using Facebook, Anderson said “it’s sort of not my place to care.”

“The idea is not to go to the negotiating table with these people, it’s to use them as an example,” Anderson said. He raised another example: Oregon State Rep. John Davis, who recently said he was hoping to start “a conversation” by introducing a bill requiring people to ban biking at night by people without reflective clothing.

Anderson sees such proposals (which were also considered this year in the state legislatures of California, Wyoming and South Dakota) as victim-blaming that encourages continued complacency by people about their choices while driving.

“I think there’s a degree to which the kind of conversation that he said he was starting actually just makes me and my family less safe,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I can go on a ski vacation with John Davis and make him understand that. … The way to get that cultural change in politics is to get a changing of the guard.”

Correction 1 pm: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post misattributed Subach’s words to Anderson in a pull quote.

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Industry Ticker: Burlingame Bikes expands in southwest Portland

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:26
A good sign.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In a great sign that bicycling is growing and healthy in southwest Portland (despite the area’s challenges), Burlingame Bikes has completed an expansion.

It’s just the second anniversary of the shop that was opened by father-son duo Glenn and Marc Vanselow back in May 2013.

“We appreciate our neighborhood and the Portland cycling community,” Marc shared with us in an email last week, “They have driven this expansion.”

The new space will be used for storage and is located just four doors down from the shop’s original location on the west side of Southwest Terwiliger Blvd in the Burlingame neighborhood. The shop focuses on urban, road, and road racing bikes. They are experts at working on Campagnolo components and authorized dealers for Eddy Merckx and Jamis. The shop also features a collection of vintage road bikes for sale from vaunted makers like Colnago, Gianni Motta, Ciocc, DeRosa, Waterford, and more.

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State will conduct safety audit of Barbur and formally weigh road redesign

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:01
Typical midday traffic approaching a curve in Barbur Boulevard from the south.
(Image: Google Street View.)

Four months after saying it had no plans to do so, the Oregon Department of Transportation will formally consider the possibility of new changes to a two-mile stretch of Barbur Bouelvard where six people have died in cars, on motorcycles and on foot in the last six years.

“The audit will consider a road diet as a potential safety tool in the corridor.”

ODOT’s announcement of the new analysis to be launched this summer by a team of multi-agency experts came Tuesday after years of pressure from some Southwest Portlanders and other safety advocates including the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

“Many residents of House District 38 use Barbur every day to travel to and from home, work or school,” said Rep. Ann Lininger in ODOT’s news release Tuesday. Her district includes much of Southwest Portland on both sides of Barbur, Lake Oswego and other communities southeast of Barbur. “I am very pleased to see ODOT initiate the Road Safety Audit and further its commitment to improving safety for all users on this crucial roadway.”

The stretch of road up for analysis runs 5.6 miles from Barbur’s southern intersection with Capitol Highway to its junction with Naito Parkway.

Near the northern end of that line are two miles through a wooded section of Barbur, where the lack of signals or significant intersections means that a northbound passing lane could be removed without major loss of roadway capacity.

However, ODOT engineers said in an interview Tuesday that changes to the two-mile section between the signals at Southwest Miles and Southwest Hamilton might lead people to merge into the left lane further south, which could then reduce signal capacity at Terwilliger and Miles. They said they haven’t yet done enough analysis to know how much delay that might add, though ODOT’s analysis of last summer’s construction on Barbur suggested that it might add about one minute during the morning rush hour on the busiest weekdays, Tuesday through Thursday.

“The audit will consider a road diet as a potential safety tool in the corridor,” ODOT wrote in its news release Tuesday.

ODOT regional manager says any changes might come in next three yearsThe stretch of Barbur that’s been suggested as a candidate for immediate changes runs 1.9 miles from SW Bertha Avenue to SW Hamilton Street.
(Image: Portland State University PORTAL system)

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said Tuesday that road safety audits follow a procedure spelled out by the federal government to get outside experts’ eyes on a problem.

“It is not anybody from ODOT Region 1, but it could include people from cities or counties,” Hamilton said. “The idea is that we bring in independent people, we show them what we got and they then do the study. At the end of it there is a findings meeting where they present a report to the owner. In this case, that’s us, and we will then respond to that in some way.”

Alongside ODOT’s news release came a letter from ODOT Regional Manager Rian Windsheimer to Bicycle Transportation Alliance Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky, a response to the 721 signatures delivered to ODOT by the BTA last month.

“My goal is for the RSA [road safety audit] to identify improvements that will benefit all modes and help us prioritize where to spend our limited funds,” Windsheimer wrote. “If the audit identifies opportunities we feel are a higher priority than the projects we currently have programmed in the 2015-2018 STIP [statewide transportation improvement program], we may want to consider revisions to the scope of those projects to include higher priority locations or elements.”

“I think it’s welcome news from ODOT that they’re listening to the community conversation about safety on their roadways,” Kransky said Tuesday. “I am eagerly awaiting an announcement regarding who will be participating.”

The BTA, Oregon Walks, City Club of Portland, Lewis and Clark College, the Markham Neighborhood Association, Southwest Trails and a handful of local businesses have urged a study along these lines, including the possibility of restriping Barbur to remove a northbound passing lane and add continuous protected or buffered bike lanes and/or walking lanes across two narrow bridges on Barbur where the bike lanes disappear, forcing people on bikes and cars to merge into the same 45 mph lanes.

For people biking, it’s by far the flattest connection between most of Southwest Portland and the rest of the city.

“We’re cautiously optimistic, definitely welcoming the conversation and hoping that it leads us directly to protected bike lanes over the Newberry and Vermont bridges,” Kransky said.

Neighborhood groups hopeful

Other advocates for the safety of driving, biking and walking on Barbur also voiced cautious support.

“I’m excited for a chance for the community to weigh in on Barbur, and I hope that people will get involved,” said Kiel Johnson, an organizer for the local safety group, Friends of Barbur, that gathered 502 of the signatures delivered by the BTA. “I think it’s a pretty easy case to make to reduce speeding and make it safe for all modes. … I just hope that it’s transparent and anyone who wants to weigh in gets to weigh in.”

Roger Averbeck, chair of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc.’s transportation committee and a prominent voice for safety changes to Barbur, said he was pleased that Windsheimer had invited him to participate.

“Those sorts of thing have been done before on urban corridors in Portland such as 82nd Avenue, Powell Boulevard,” Averbeck said. “They are helpful.”

Hamilton said the safety audit process, which takes place this summer, will involve multiple days of “people crawling all over this area” to observe road behavior and wed it to the state’s trove of speed, safety and capacity data. “It involves real hands-on observation,” he said.

Hamilton said the list of participants isn’t fixed yet but that the audit will include “people from outside the region.”

The news release mentioned “law enforcement, fire and rescue, neighborhood representatives, transit providers, bicyclists, pedestrians and ODOT” as stakeholders.

Hamilton said he didn’t anticipate a formal public hearing as part of the process but that “there will be something” such as a live or online open house to gather more input from the public at large.

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New member of Oregon Transportation Commission is “avid cyclist”

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:33
Sean O’Hollaren
(Photo: ODOT)

Oregon Governor Kate Brown has successfully added her first member to Oregon Transportation Commission and it appears like he’s got at least some some cycling experience.

Sean O’Hollaren, a former senior VP at Nike, fills a spot on the five-member committee that was left vacant when former Governor Kitzhaber fired Catherine Mater.

The OTC is the most powerful transportation body in the state. They approve funding, set ODOT policy, and “guide the planning development, and management” of our transportation network. There are five members, each representing a different region of the state.

The committee’s agenda items currently include the statewide transportation funding plan, a major update to the ODOT Bicycle and Pedestrian plan, federal TIGER grant funding, and more.

In an announcement released today, the Oregon Department of Transportation describes O’Hollaren as someone with extensive knowledge of government relations and legislative affairs with experience in Washington D.C., Union Pacific railroad, and the aforementioned global sneaker juggernaut.

With his resume and experience, perhaps O’Hollaren could play a role in helping Oregon cities work with railroad companies on projects like the NP Greenway. Railroad firms are not usually flexible and responsive to public/bike access issues but they hold the key to many great bicycle paths.

ODOT also added that, “In his free time, he’s an avid cyclist.” We’ll look forward to asking O’Hollaren more about that as we get to know him a bit better. For now, we’ll look for him riding around the streets of Portland.

The OTC meets once a month. Learn more about them and read meeting agendas and minutes at

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First look at Rivelo, Portland’s new independent Rivendell dealer (and record store)

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:16

Rivendell Bicycle Works now has a home in Portland. Rivelo is a new bike shop in inner southeast that’s set to fully open next month as a dealer of the famous brand’s bikes, bags, apparel and other accessories.

Long-time BikePortland friend and reader (and big Rivendell fan) Beth Hamon rolled by the shop yesterday and shared a few photos…

All photos by Beth Hamon/bikelovejones

In a blog post about her visit Beth (a former co-owner at Citybikes) said Rivelo is “small, cute, and super niche-y.”

Rivelo is run by John Bennett, a former employee at Rivendell’s World HQ in Walnut Creek, California. Bennett calls his shop “Portland’s Rivendell Test Center.” Right now they’ve got two models in stock: the Sam Hillborne and the Cheviot. Bennett says the shop is so small they currently only plan to sell bikes, not fix them.

Bennett is also a huge Bob Dylan fan. He opened the shop with regular hours on May 23rd, Dylan’s birthday, and you’ll find a nice selection of his records for sale.

The shop has a great location (401 SE Caruthers) right on the corner of SE Caruthers and Water near the foot of the new Tilikum Bridge smack dab in the busy bikeway between the end of the Esplanade and start of the Springwater.

If you’re a big Rivendell fan or just curious to learn more, mark you calendar for June 20th at 2:00 pm. Bennett will host Mr. Rivendell himself, company founder Grant Petersen, for a talk and open house event.

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Jobs of the Week – Everybody’s Bike Rentals & Tours, Bike Friday, Velotech

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 09:59

We’ve had three great job opportunities listed this week. Learn more about them via the links below…

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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The Monday Roundup: Korean carfree experiment, Florida’s sky garage and more

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 06:49
Sunday Parkways every day, at least for a while.
(Photo: The Urban Idea)

Happy Memorial Day, Portland. In honor of the holiday, this is likely to be our only post of the day.

Here are the bike-related links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Now that’s a demo: A South Korean neighborhood banned cars for a month in order to see what would happen.

Bikes vs. stress: Bike commuters are 40 percent less stressed when they arrive at their destination than car or public transit commuters, a U.K. study of heart and breathing rates found.

“Sky garage”: A $560 million luxury skyscraper north of Miami will “incorporate the single-family-home garage concept” by hoisting people’s cars into the air so they can keep it next to their unit.

Floating bus stops: Biking and transit advocates should team up to promote bike lanes that run to the right of bus stops, says

E-bike sharing: Milan’s 3,600-bike sharing system now has 1,000 e-bikes, creating the world’s first system that lets both park at the same docks. (The news comes after Birmingham, Ala., was planning to become the first U.S. city with an e-bike share system.)

Atlanta biking: After years of pressure from advocates, Atlanta is hiring its first “chief bicycle officer.”

Cargo bike parking: The low staples in this Malmo, Sweden, parking garage are still the best we’ve seen:

Cargo bike parking at the train station in Malmö

— Green Lane Project (@GreenLaneProj) May 19, 2015

Traffic myths: #3 on writer Tom Vanderbilt’s five-point list is “changing lanes will get you there faster.”

Traffic death: Nobel-winning mathematician John Nash and his wife, subjects of the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” died in a New Jersey traffic collision Saturday as their taxi lost control while changing lanes.

Female mobility: Fuel shortages in war-torn Yemen are fostering bicycle use among women, and some locals are scandalized.

Biking’s monoculture: In the white-guy-dominated industry of fancy bikes, “it’s time to acknowledge that if you’re using sex to sell your product, what you are doing is lazy and harmful,” writes bike racer Patrick Brady.

Hillsboro paths: The city is nearing approval of a plan to add 70 miles of bikeable off-street paths in the coming decades, tripling its current total.

FHWA backs protected lanes: A new federal design guide has formally endorsed protected bike lanes as desirable ways to make biking attractive to more people.

Tsk tsk: A Springfield man who hit and killed three children in a crosswalk with his pickup truck won’t get a criminal charge, but he did get a traffic citation for careless driving.

Idle wheels: The average UK city dweller’s car is driven for 4.6 hours a week, which means it’s parked for 97 percent of its life.

Seattle downgrade: The annual Bike Score ranking dropped Seattle out of its top 10 most bikeable cities. The executive director of advocacy group Seattle Neighborhood Greenways says that’s “healthy.”

Chicago infrastructure: As Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s second term starts, Chicago is building its first curb-protected bike lane and has various other advanced bike lane projects on tap.

“A new road order”: Seattle’s Department of Transportation filmed advice from NYC and Chicago transportation heroes Janette Sadik-Khan and Gabe Klein at an event about the city’s transportation future.

Rack theft: West Seattle sees a bike theft by rack removal.

And in your very short video of the week: your one-use, $330 “invisible bicycle helmet” doesn’t seem quite so cool now, does it?

AS IT HAPPENED #hovding #airbagged

A video posted by abc3d (@abc3d_) on May 19, 2015 at 5:39am PDT

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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Man on bike seriously injured in SW Barnes Road collision (updated)

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 15:21
Southwest Barnes Road at Miller Road.
(Image: Google Street View)

A man reportedly received life-threatening head injuries while biking on Southwest Barnes Road Friday afternoon, just west of the Washington/Multnomah County line on the street that is known, in Multnomah County, as Burnside.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release late Friday that David Garcia, age 43, of Cedar Mill, was pedaling westbound on Barnes, possibly in or near the right turn lane, when an SUV turned left in front of him onto Southwest Miller Road.

“The vehicle believed that he was turning,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray Ray said in an interview with KGW.

There are no bike lanes on Barnes. Eastbound cars turning left at this intersection seem to have an arrow signal, so it’s not clear from Ray’s initial description what would have led to the left-turn conflict.

KGW reported that a “multi-vehicle crash” happened “around 1:45 p.m. at the intersection of Barnes Road and Southwest Miller Road.” Here’s a tweet from the station’s news photographer:

A bicyclist & a car collide @ SW Miller & Barnes Rds. The cyclist is at the hospital. The driver on scene. @KGWNews

— Steven Redlin (@StevenRedlin) May 22, 2015

In his video interview with KGW, Ray said “he was riding what we classify as a street-type bike, so they’re pretty fast bicyclists and this is a pretty steep hill. So witnesses told us that he did have considerable speed going.”

Update 5/23: Here’s the official release from the sheriff’s office:

Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a crash where a vehicle and a bicyclist collided. The bicyclist suffered life-threatening injuries.

On May 22, 2015, at 1:45 p.m., Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to SW Miller Road at SW Barnes Road in the community of Cedar Mill concerning a traffic crash between a bicyclist and a sport utility vehicle.

Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and found David Garcia, 43, from Cedar Mill, unconscious in the roadway. He incurred life-threatening injuries. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue treated Mr. Garcia prior to transporting him to Emanuel Hospital.

Sheriff’s Deputies learned that a 1988 Ford Bronco had been driven by David Warren, 64, from Hillsboro, eastbound on SW Barnes Road. Deputies found that David Garcia was riding his bicycle westbound on SW Barnes Road. Witnesses told investigators that he was riding his bicycle at a high speed and continued straight while in the right turn lane at SW Miller Road. Mr. Warren turned his Bronco left onto SW Miller Road into the path of Mr. Garcia.

David Warren remained at the crash scene and cooperated with investigators, he was not injured.

The Washington County Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team responded to assist with diagrams and processing evidence. The intersection was closed for approximately three hours.

Investigators will complete their analysis of this crash in the coming weeks. No citations have been issued.

We’ll be continuing to follow this story as we learn more.

UPDATE 3:10 pm, 5/27: Police have cited the driver. Here’s the official statement:

Investigators determined that David Warren, the driver of the Bronco, committed violations that were contributing factors in the May 22, 2015 crash with David Garcia. Yesterday, Mr. Warren was issued citations for Dangerous Left Turn and Careless Driving. His court date is scheduled for June 17, 2015

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Comment of the week: Portland’s road-diet deadline

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 15:03
Southwest Naito Parkway, pre-redesign.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

How long is it supposed to take to drive across town?

Your answer to that question probably depends, more or less, on how long it took to do so when you moved to town.

That’s one of the ideas behind a comment BikePortland reader Carl Abbott added to Tuesday’s story about this week’s experimental redesign of Naito Parkway. Extrapolating a bit from the Naito situation, Carl speculated that as Portland’s buildings fill in and grow up, its streets might start filling up, too.

By reallocating traffic lanes on streets defined as having excess capacity, the city is essentially engaged in a citywide traffic slowing enterprise as drivers will keep seeking out alternative routes until all arterials move at the same slower speed (see the classic essay on The Law of Rush Hour Traffic Congestion by Anthony Downs). How the next 100,000 Portlanders fit with this goal is not clear, but there will certainly be tensions along the lines of the apartments without parking spaces conflict.

If those next 100,000 Portlanders make the same transportation choices that Portlanders make today, our city will choke on its own traffic. Meanwhile, it’ll get politically harder and harder for the city to do what it needs to do in order to change that fate: to reduce the space dedicated to cars in order to improve more space-efficient modes like mass transit, walking and biking.

It’s worth noting that on many Portland streets (for example, Southeast Powell and Southwest Barbur boulevards) traffic has actually been falling despite the region’s steadily rising population. But it’s not clear whether that’ll continue — and if it doesn’t, it’s all the more reason that today’s generation of Portlanders owes it to those who’ll come in the future to act to improve our city while we can. Let’s find ways to reassign our road space before it’s too late.

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Carl Abbott in thanks for this great one. Watch your email!

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Seattle’s antidote to aggressive driving on neighborhood greenways

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 13:44
It works.

I’m in Seattle today joining the second leg of a study tour for a group from Indianapolis that’s visiting Portland and Seattle to study neighborhood greenways, the relatively low-cost, low-controversy bike infrastructure Portland imported from Vancouver BC and has built into a pretty solid network on its eastside grid.

As we’ve reported, our neighbors to the north are following suit even as funding for further expansion of Portland’s system remains frozen.

Indianapolis, short on cash but ambitious about bike infrastructure, is one of several cities around the country who are also following Portland’s lead.

Portland’s active transportation planners are trying to put the pieces in place for further greenway investment in the coming years, funding (but not yet releasing) an in-house, data-rich study of how the system is working. Meanwhile, neighborhood advocates have been using many tactics to raise awareness of a problem on some of the streets: heavy car traffic, in some cases from people who are cutting through the neighborhood on their way to somewhere else and seem distressed by the idea of getting stuck behind a 10 mph bicycle.

Here in Seattle, the Indianapolis squad noticed something interesting: Seattle’s residential streets tend to be much narrower than Portland’s, especially huge expanses like those of Northeast Going, Northeast Alameda or (to a lesser extent) Southeast Clinton.

Add parking on each side and on some Seattle streets, like 58th Street in the Ballard neighborhood pictured above, you’ve got a single lane to carry traffic in both directions.

Say what you will for this setup — it definitely calms traffic. Bike traffic included.

After I took the photo above (and after she negotiated a face-to-face standoff with a car coming the opposite direction in which both driver and rider stopped and waved the other one to proceed), I jogged beside the woman biking for a moment and asked if conflicts like that were annoying, or whether it was worth it because of the slow speeds.

She seemed noncommittal.

“Part of living in a city, I guess,” she said.

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Bike Milwaukie raises money for public bike repair stand outside City Hall

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 07:59

This year, the city just south of Portland is getting a new light rail line and an excellent new bike path extension alongside McLoughlin Boulevard. The co-founders of the group Bike Milwaukie want to add another amenity: a public bike repair stand.

“Over the past four and a half years, we’ve gone on over 50 rides with hundreds of participants, and it’s been a lot of fun,” group co-leader Greg Bartz-Bowman explains in the Kickstarter video above. “The only thing what hasn’t been fun is that when we have that occasional breakdown, there’s nowhere in town to get your bike fixed.”

Though Milwaukie has great access to the Springwater Corridor and Clackamas County Trolley Trail, plus an improving on-street bike network and a bike-friendly city council, the city of 20,000 doesn’t yet have a bike shop of its own. Bartz-Bowman and his collaborator Matt Menely hope the repair stand will make it convenient for bike users in the area to get quick access to a hand pump and a series of tools on retractable cables: Phillips & standard screwdrivers, steel core tire levers, a headset/pedal wrench, an 8/10mm cone wrench, a 9/11mm cone wrench and a Torx T-25 hex key set.

They figure that buying, shipping and installing the stand will cost $2,600. They’ve raised $1,130 so far with 27 days to go. Check out their campaign and chip in if you’d like to help.

Bike repair stands are an increasingly common amenity. Portland’s first public one, installed in 2009, is near Salmon Street Fountain in Waterfront Park, provided by Kerr Bikes. They’re now standard at many large new apartment buildings in Portland; in February we reported that Washington County will be installing five of them on its own land around the west side.

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#BetterNaito demo kicks off two-week trial of multi-use path west of Waterfront Park

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 07:47
(Photos: Greg Raisman)

Backed by a slightly bleary-eyed team of Portland State University engineering students, community volunteers and city staffers, local street redesign group Better Block PDX brought its latest city-approved demo to the easternmost lanes of Naito Parkway at 6 a.m. Friday.

The temporary treatment will convert the bike lane and rightmost mixed-traffic lane alongside Waterfront Park to a multi-use path for northbound bike traffic and for people walking.

It’s intended as a response to thick pedestrian spillover during the Rose Festival that starts this weekend, but will double as a way to test whether Naito would experience any traffic problems if the space were permanently dedicated to human use.

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Better Block have described it as a way to improve safety on Naito, reduce biking-walking conflicts in the park’s existing riverside path and to build on the legacy of Gov. Tom McCall, who in the early 1970s backed the plan to build the park in place of the former Harbor Drive expressway.

The Better Block installation team.

Both Jonathan and I happen to be out of town today, which is sort of killing us, but we’re eagerly watching photos come in over social media. Here are a few from during and after installation.

Super extra big bike lane on Naito for the next two weeks. Thanks #betterNaito

— Mike Vogel (@mikev) May 22, 2015

Best ride I've ever had down Naito. Sure is a #betternaito already. Thanks volunteers at @BetterBlockPDX!

— Zach Holz (@ZachHolz) May 22, 2015

Traffic flowing well at north end of #BetterNaito

— Peter Koonce (@pkoonce) May 22, 2015

@AltheaM3 #BetterNaito safety stencils!

— Althea Mickiewicz (@AltheaM3) May 22, 2015

Single lane uncontrolled pedestrian crossing south of Salmon is safer; eliminates double threat #BetterNaito #safety

— Peter Koonce (@pkoonce) May 22, 2015

Got shots of your own? Share with the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram and we’ll get some more up.

Update 2 p.m.: Here are some more:

Oh hey guys! Check out these colorful #betterblockpdx volunteers who stopped by to give us a hand tonight for #betternaito.

A photo posted by Yelena Prusakova (@yesthatmountain) on May 20, 2015 at 9:07pm PDT

A cargo bike volunteer moves supplies along Naito Blvd. #betternaito #betterblockpdx

A photo posted by Yelena Prusakova (@yesthatmountain) on May 22, 2015 at 1:06pm PDT

Ryan Hashagen of Better Block / Portland Pedicab giving cone distribution direction to our volunteers. #betternaito #betterblockpdx

A photo posted by Yelena Prusakova (@yesthatmountain) on May 22, 2015 at 1:00pm PDT

Better Naito launched at dawn with incredible participation from the Portland public. A crowd gathered at Salmon Fountain to improve human safety in a high use road area. Thank you all for your phenomenal attitude and zest. #betternaito #betterblockpdx

A photo posted by Yelena Prusakova (@yesthatmountain) on May 22, 2015 at 12:54pm PDT

Temp traffic control via bike! #betternaito

— Kate (@cyclingharpist) May 22, 2015

Fav part of #BetterNaito? Seeing coworkers and the tubular markers…everything is better with flowers! #stressfree

— Kristen Svicarovich (@ksvicarovich) May 22, 2015

#BetterNaito engineering by @PSUEngineering students. Thx 2 partners @AARPOR @PBOTinfo @PDXRoseFestival @OregonWalks

— Timur Ender (@timurender1) May 22, 2015

Disclosure: My other day job is as a staff writer for Colorado-based advocacy group PeopleForBikes, which has become a lead sponsor of the BetterNaito project thanks to support from Clif Bar. I didn’t make any funding decisions but will be minimizing my own coverage of this on BikePortland to keep things as clean as possible. Expect more coverage once Jonathan is back in town next week!

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Weekend Event Guide: Filmed by Bike, Corkett fundraiser, fast recumbents, and more

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:34

The glamour, fun, and films make Filmed By Bike a special festival.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

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

It’s quite a weekend ahead. The Naito Pilot Project opens up at rush-hour tomorrow and Filmed By Bike takes over the Hollywood area all weekend long. And for many Portlanders (including me!), Friday morning is the start of the grueling Oregon Outback, a 360+ mile ride (75% dirt) from Klamath Falls to the Columbia River.

Whatever is in your plans, have fun and enjoy the weekend.

Friday, May 22nd

Better Naito Set-up Volunteer – 4:00 am (!) at SW Naito Pkwy and Salmon
Help Better Block PDX set up the Naito Pilot Project which will create a temporary multi-use path on Naito Parkway. Cargo bikes are especially needed to help cart traffic dividers and other tasks. More info here (FB).

Filmed by Bike New Belgium Street Party – 5 to 9:30 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd Ave)
This is the annual free, all-ages, super-fun kickoff to Filmed by Bike! The festival runs all weekend and what better way to start things off than a big party just a few blocks from the Hollywood Theater were all the magic happens. Expect live music, dancing, Sprockettes performance, and more! More info here.

Filmed By Bike – 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm at The Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Blvd)
Two big showings on opening night, both of which include the infamous prize raffle with tons of great stuff to win. More info here.

Saturday, May 23rd

Human Powered Challenge – All weekend at Portland International Raceway north of Kenton
The Oregon Human Powered Vehicle Association puts on two full days of races that feature some of the coolest — and fastest! — two wheeled machines (a.k.a. recumbents) you’ll ever see. Compete or just come out and soak in the festival atmosphere of this fun event. More info here.

Filmed By Bike – 5:00 pm at The Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Blvd)
A special showing of “Half the Road: the Passion, Pitfalls and Power of Women in Professional Cycling” followed by a panel discussion at Velo Cult about women who race bikes. More info here.

Filmed By Bike – 7:00 pm at The Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Blvd)
It’s Adventure Night, a collection of films that will stoke your wanderlust. Followed by the festival awards ceremony. More info here.

Sunday, May 24th

Slow Ride – 11:00 am at SE Clinton and 12th
Part of the Clinton Neighborhood Greenway’s 30th birthday celebration, this ride will literally stop and smell the roses. “Lollygagging and rubbernecking highly encouraged,” say the organizers. Expect a much different experience than the hectic commute! More info here.

Bike Swap Fundraiser for Alistair Corkett – 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at O2 Endurance Center (3015 SE Berkeley Pl)
Help Alistair raise money for medical expenses and a new leg prosthesis after his terrible collision on May 10th. More info here.

Filmed by Bike – 5:00 pm at The Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy Blvd)
Final and full day of this year’s fest. VIP screenings, a ride with the filmmakers, and a filmmaker Q&A are all in the lineup. Full schedule 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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Pedal-powered freight delivery firm partners with Central Eastside food hub

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 10:12
B-Line founder Franklin Jones in 2010.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s biggest trike-based urban cargo company is about to get bigger.

“You don’t want to be on the streets delivering product, you want to be in the office building your business. That’s where we come in.”
— Franklin Jones, B-Line

As part of a partnership with the nonprofit conservation group Ecotrust, B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery will move into a renovated building in Portland’s industrial inner east side that will be filled with people bringing local agricultural products to market.

In addition to serving its fellow tenants at Ecotrust’s new two-building campus, the move will let B-Line add two to four new trikes to its fleet and expand its overall delivery capacity by 25 percent.

“Our role is to kind of step in as a logistics provider for that campus,” said Franklin Jones, B-Line’s founder and CEO, in an interview Tuesday. “Also, that’ll allow us to provide more of a role as an aggregator and consolidator in the Central Eastside, thereby reducing more vehicle trips. … Once those products are dropped off, we’re kind of able to consolidate products across industries and combine them into one trike-load into the downtown core.”

Jones said the new setup will improve B-Line’s ability to bring products to the New Seasons grocery chain, which has its main kitchen in the Central Eastside and contracts with B-Line for some of its product deliveries. He said B-Line has found a niche serving small companies that have outgrown directly delivering their own products to stores but aren’t yet big enough to sign on with a large distributor.

“This new facility is going to enable us to offer a greater capacity not only to New Seasons directly but also to the vendors who may be selling into New Seasons,” Jones said. “Let’s say you’re a hot sauce guy and your product is starting to take off. You’re working out of your garage and you don’t have any storage capability. You don’t want to be on the streets delivering product, you want to be in the office building your business. That’s where we come in.”

“We’re able to extend the runway before they have to go into one of these primary distributors,” Jones went on. “If we can get that runway a little bit longer, there’s going to be more value back to the producer. It ultimately gets back to the ranchers, the fishermen, the farmers, the growers.”

The new Ecotrust building, called the Redd, is between Southeast 7th, 8th, Salmon and Taylor. Jones said B-Line’s relocation is scheduled for early September.

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Portland’s housing supply still isn’t keeping up with population, but it’s falling behind more slowly

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 08:58
*2010 housing figures reflect an upward readjustment from information gathered in the decennial Census.
(Data: Census Bureau, summarized here)

After eight years of failing to add housing units nearly as fast as new residents were arriving, Multnomah County nearly kept pace in 2014, according to Census estimates released Thursday.

The shortfall in new units since 2005 has led to the country’s worst chronic shortage of rental housing in the most desirable parts of Portland as residents have competed for the largely unchanging number of homes in the central city. That’s led to rocketing home prices and rents, forcing many to live in less bikeable areas further from the urban core.

In 2014, a wave of new apartments hit the market and the City of Portland has led the region in both single-family and multifamily housing starts. The population still grew faster than the number of housing units, the Census estimated, but by a much smaller margin.

The population of Multnomah County grew 1.4 percent, the new Census figures showed, while the housing supply grew 0.9 percent.

Even so, the shortfall in new housing construction that began in 2006 — for example, Multnomah County added an estimated 10,709 residents in 2011 but just 534 net new homes — has left a deep backlog in the housing market that would require construction far faster than today’s to erase.

“I would argue that it’s vital that we keep building — if we don’t, Portland’s affordability problem will worsen.”
— urban economist Joe Cortright, City Observatory

Still, major developments like those going up in Northwest Portland, the Burnside Bridgehead, Lloyd District and North Williams Avenue are signs that at least for the moment, Portland’s rock-bottom rental vacancy rates (once again the lowest in the country in the first quarter of 2015, the Census estimates) have lured out-of-town investors to capitalize on central Portland’s housing shortage.

“Supply is responding to increasing demand,” economist Joe Cortright of the Portland-based urban policy think tank City Observatory said in an email Wednesday. “This is essential if we are to make any progress in addressing the declining vacancy rate and slowing the increase in rents. I would argue that it’s vital that we keep building — if we don’t, Portland’s affordability problem will worsen.”

Jerry Johnson, owner of research and consulting firm Johnson Economics, said that the metro area currently has 79 major projects with 8,140 units in construction, half in Portland and half in surrounding cities. That’s less than half of the 20,000 units that would be required in Multnomah County alone to return to 2005’s ratio of population to housing.

Still, Johnson predicted that developers will eventually overbuild.

“The housing market is complicated, but it’s fairly predictable,” he said. “Clearly the supply is on the way that is going to ameliorate this issue. … Eventually the market always overbuilds itself. That’s what’s happened. The market will overbuild and they will crush the rents and everything will become affordable again.”

“Not actually affordable,” he added. “It never goes back down all the way.”

Southeast Ankeny Street.

Johnson noted that population isn’t always the same as housing demand, and also that as prices rise, fewer people in a city tend to own their own homes and more decide to make do with less space.

“If you can’t get out of your mom and dad’s basement, that’s one household that would have traditionally been two,” he said.

I asked Johnson whether he thought a political backlash against urban construction, similar to the backlash against rural construction that led in the 1970s to Portland’s urban growth boundary, could interfere with the usual business cycle. He said that such efforts would be counterproductive.

“What you want them to do is to overbuild the market, which they’re prone to do,” he said. “But I get what the neighbors are saying, too. They’re thinking super-local. Like all of us, really. … Everybody’s, I think, thinking pretty rationally in this. It’s just these are difficult things to solve.”

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

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New bill in Salem would create legislative Vision Zero task force

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 14:27
SW Barbur Boulevard, a state-run street.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Under a bill due for its first reading in Salem this afternoon, the state of Oregon would create a new task force to “examine strategies to reduce and eliminate traffic crashes … by a specific target date.”

House Bill 2736 would be “kind of the first step in the conversation” about a statewide Vision Zero policy, Bicycle Transportation Alliance Director Rob Sadowsky said in an interview Wednesday.

In addition to the Oregon Department of Transportation, the task force will include representatives of the Oregon Health Authority and State Police.

“It’s not completely bypassing, but it’s taking the step of getting the legislature actively engaged on Vision Zero, not waiting for ODOT to come up with a policy,” Sadowsky added, referring to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Sadowsky said his biking advocacy group, working in partnership with its counterparts at Oregon Walks, have been pursuing such a bill for a while.

“We didn’t know until this morning whether ODOT was going to stand aside,” Sadowsky said. “If it’s gotten this far, we believe that they’re at least standing and letting it pass.”

The task force would prepare a report to an interim committee of the state legislature by September 2016.

Other groups and interests to be represented on the committee: people with disabilities, seniors, freight carriers, passenger cars, transit providers, people walking, people biking, people of color, the Federal Highway Administration, the governor and two people “who have knowledge of Vision Zero policies.”

HB 2736 wasn’t always intended to cover Vision Zero; when it was first introduced it was intended to study speed bump height and markings. But because the deadline for introducing a bill has passed, the Vision Zero text was inserted using a method referred to as “gut-and-replace.”

Sadowsky said that ODOT’s top safety executive Troy Costales, who has in the past “been reluctant to use the words Vision Zero,” seemed to be more open to the concept.

“Instead of deaths, he’d rather talk about the number of days where they don’t have fatalities,” Sadowsky said. “In return, we’ve said ‘OK, give us Vision 365.'”

But a meeting this morning, Sadowsky said, “was the first time I ever heard [ODOT Director] Matt Garrett and Troy Costales openly talking about vision zero as inevitable.”

The BTA has more information on its website.

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Portland’s first-ever 24-hour bike count shows bike traffic on Ankeny never stops

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 08:21
The city’s hour-by-hour count sheet.
(Photo courtesy PBOT)

Portland: the city of bikeways that never sleep.

A 24-hour count of bike traffic at the corner of Southeast Ankeny and 28th Avenue observed 2,231 bike trips from noon on Thursday, May 14 to noon on Friday, May 15. In the busiest hour, 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, 325 bikes went past; in the least busy, 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Saturday, six bikes did.

“I think one of our event volunteers said it best,” Taylor Sutton, a city worker who helped organize the first 24-hour count, said in an email Tuesday. “There’s never not a bike on Ankeny.”

Portland’s 10 years of peak-hour bike count data at dozens of locations around the city would be the envy of almost any city in the world. But those counts neglect the many commuters who don’t work traditional office hours, not to mention many of the non-work trips that account for more than 80 percent of our transportation. Sutton said the 24-hour bike count was intended as a way to enrich the city’s understanding of other hours of the day.

Though the data is being used in part to assess and calibrate the city’s experiment with cheap automated bike counters, Sutton said it’s mostly intended as research for research’s sake rather than intended to answer a specific question.

“Ultimately, Every Bike Counts was a celebration for people riding their bike, regardless of destination or peak commute times; sometimes taking the opportunity to sit back and observe is a good place to start to find the questions,” Sutton said.

Our 24 Hour #EveryBikeCounts event also provides Quick Fixes" to folks' bikes.

— ActiveTransportation (@PBOTactive) May 15, 2015

The event required 30 staff hours and 48 volunteer hours, including people to work a table where the city offered giveaways donated by local businesses and collected information about the origins and destinations of passers-by.

“We chose this intersection because we knew there would be a lot of bikes there (Ankeny & 28th was in the top 20 high-volume sites in last year’s count, out of 217 counted) and it is centrally located,” Sutton said. “The intersection is also a great combination of neighborhood greenway (Ankeny) and business district (28th).”

In addition to the number of bikes, Portland turned up some potentially useful information about the proportion of people riding with lights at night:

The purpose of people’s trips (at least among those who chose to stop and chat):

And the direction of the trip (the darker purple line is Ankeny eastbound, away from downtown; the lighter purple line is Ankeny westbound; dark green is 28th northbound; and light green is 28th northbound).

The event also observed 26 skateboard trips; the peak skateboarding hour was 7 to 8 p.m. on Friday, when five were observed:

You can see the city’s full data summary here.

Sutton said the event was also, in part, a way to raise awareness of the city’s regular peak-hour bike counts, which rely heavily on volunteers. (Volunteers can choose any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from June through September to conduct counts.) A bike count training, required for first-time volunteers but optional for others, is next Tuesday.

“We could always use more volunteers!” Sutton said.

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Industry Ticker: Portland Design Works will crowdfund new fat bike pump

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 14:16
PDW’s Kickstarter video for the new pump.

There are many reasons we love Portland Design Works. They’re based right here in Portland, they give back to the community through sponsorship of events like trail work parties and Rider Appreciation Day on Williams Avenue, they make our Ride Alongs possible, and they happen to make very functional and well-designed products for cycling.

Now they are once again doing something interesting. They’ve turned to Kickstarter for “market confirmation and funding” for their new “Fat Stevens™” — a high volume pump made specifically for fat bikers. Read the press release below for more info:

Portland Design Works launches industry-first portable fat bike specific pump on Kickstarter

May 19, 2015, Portland, OR – Portland Design Works (PDW) – recognized innovators of cycling inflation tools – has launched its newest leading-edge pump, the Fat Stevens™, on Kickstarter Tuesday May 19, 2015. The handy Fat Stevens™ pump expands the riding landscapes accessible on fat bikes by offering an efficient and dependable high-volume pump in a portable size.

“Due to the overwhelming popularity of our Dave’s Mud Shovel™ fat bike fenders, we hear from fat bike riders all over the world. The one piece of gear they kept asking us to make was a fat bike specific mini pump. It took us a long time to develop, but we’re confident that the Fat Stevens™ is going to set the standard for portable fat bike pumps,” said PDW co-founder Erik Olson.

The ultimate inflation tool for fat tire riders, the Fat Stevens™ weighs less than a pound and is only 14” long, allowing it to easily fit in a backpack or frame bag. The Fat Stevens™ barrel is 39mm in diameter, larger than most floor pump barrels, and fills fat bike tires in half the strokes it takes using a standard mountain bike mini pump. The Fat Stevens™ also offers users a sturdy flip-down steel foot peg which keeps the pump stable, even when wearing bulky winter boots.

Designed with additional smart features including a composite pommel handle and oversized knurled nozzle, the Fat Stevens™ pump is comfortable to use in any conditions. Like every PDW product, the fully rebuildable Fat Stevens™ pump is covered by a lifetime warranty against any defects in workmanship or materials.

Portland Design Works is seeking market confirmation and funding of $30,000 through this Kickstarter campaign to defray the high-volume tooling costs for the Fat Stevens™ pump by half. Backers of the campaign will have access to purchase the pump at pre-production prices and exclusive Kickstarter edition carry-cases made by local Portland manufacturers BlaqPaks, among other rewards.

For additional information, please contact Jocelyn Gaudi or 503-234-7257 or visit the PDW website.

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