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Updated: 1 hour 18 min ago

Comment of the Week: The challenge of speaking up as a woman who bikes

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:58
Biking community leader Lisa Marie White, right,
leading an advocacy discussion at a BikePortland
Wonk Night in October.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Of all the conversations we’ve had on the site this week — there have been 1,100 comments on 27 posts — the biggest was about the line between journalism and community.

Many people who we respect disagreed with Jonathan’s decision to delete archived references in past stories to a man who, he’d decided, seemed to be using his perceived status to hurt other people.

The One of the most upvoted comments in the thread came from another reader and fellow community member who we respect a lot: Lisa Marie White, a prominent local biking advocate (most recently at Bike Walk Vote) and active community member. Here’s her take on Hart Noecker and, more importantly, on what Portland’s biking communities should learn from this conversation:

First: to those taking issue with Jonathan deleting information from the site, I believe he did the right thing. As someone who knows the situation and the accused (though we are no longer friends), not allowing him to promote himself via this site is important. Additionally, those posts have a tendency to falsely imply he was a leader (which he likely encouraged), though from what I know he was not.

Second: I’d like to echo Esther in thanking you for addressing this publicly. It is not simply an “incident” – at its root is a generally discounted female and minority voice in our bike community. To those who repeatedly tell me “but we’re the most progressive city and most progressive bike culture”, I’d agree… and what does that say about the state of female and minority voices in bicycling? If we have difficulty being heard here, where CAN we be?

The realities of being ignored and discounted (and having to have male board members forward e-mails to me, since despite being a chair, people assumed they must really be running our group) has made me, on more than one occasion, want out of the active transportation advocacy world.

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Dismissing varied voices sets the stage for accusations like Byrd’s going ignored and doubted and shut down until the tally of accusers is high enough to force acknowledgment. It also allows Hart and others to dominate conversations at the expense of others. Aggressive speech from him was rarely a problem – aggressive responses from women have been met with discomfort and shunning.

I wasn’t going to comment, but silence and silencing has been our biggest problem and it has allowed egregious behavior to go unchecked.

Speaking up, however, is equally unappealing as a woman. Throughout this ordeal, when other women have spoken up, I’ve heard the real-time responses of “she’s too sensitive” or “she’s a bit intense/needs to calm down” or “why is she taking this personally”. Outside of this particular issue, I’ve also seen women promote great ideas and seen them swiftly discounted for their lack of “experience” or “knowledge”… only to see a guy say the same thing and have his ideas lauded. We’ll hold prominent women up as tokens of our inclusiveness, yet fail to integrate them into conversation and decision making in meaningful ways.

This is a systemic problem of which we have only scratched the surface, and I believe it is one of the reasons bicycling has stagnated in this city – many still feel no place exists for them in this world. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has spoken up and to the men in the community who have shown themselves to be caring, compassionate, and open to examining their own faults. You give me a whole lot of hope :)

“Once you know better, you do better.”

I truly hope we do.

We don’t choose White’s comment because she happened to agree with our course of action on this, but because in this comment she puts her brain, her experience and her heart on the line to explain how things look from her perspective and point the direction we should go from here. If you ask us, that’ll always be the formula for great bike advocacy. Thanks for being one of the many who’ve spoken up, Lisa Marie.

Yes, we pay for good comments. As always we’ll be mailing a $5 bill to Lisa Marie in thanks for this great one.

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As Portland’s job growth continues, business leaders tout bikes and transit

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:09
Leonard Barrett of Beam Development atop an eastside office building remodeled in 2013 that now houses 350 workers. In 2005, Beam had planned to demolish it for a parking lot, but high biking and transit use changed the owner’s mind.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

While the organization that says it speaks for local business interests continues to oppose major investments in biking, walking and mass transit, actual local businesses are continuing their embrace of the amenities we’ve built so far.

Hillsboro-based Lattice Semiconductor said this week that it’s sold its Hillsboro headquarters and is moving 100 executive and administrative workers to U.S. Bancorp Tower in downtown Portland. The Oregonian described it as part of a “tectonic shift in Oregon technology” that is channeling tech jobs to the central city rather than Washington County.

Meanwhile, just across the river, Beam Development owner Brad Malsin told the Portland Tribune this week how unexpectedly high bike and transit use convinced him to scrap his plan to demolish the 90-year-old Convention Plaza and make room for a parking lot.

Instead, as we reported in 2013, Malsin’s company has remodeled the building at 123 NE 3rd Ave., now known as the Eastside Exchange, to house 350 jobs. The on-site parking lot has only 126 spaces for cars.

“Originally, I wanted to tear the Convention Plaza down to create parking I thought the (Burnside Bridgehead) project needed,” Malsin told the Tribune. “But over the years, I learned the people who want to work in the district support bikes and transit. That made saving the building viable, and it was the key to the new project.”

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Then there’s this, from the Tribune article:

Much has changed over the past 10 or so years. Back then, the city council thought a big-box store was necessary to revitalize the neighborhood by attracting suburban shoppers. Now the inner east side already is one of the fastest growing parts of the city.

Times certainly have changed. But The Oregonian’s piece about the Lattice relocation from Hillsboro includes a reminder that central-city job growth and low-car commuting aren’t actually new trends. They’re returns to the way things were before the mid-20th century.

Washington County has been the state’s main tech hub since the 1950s, when Tektronix moved from Southeast Portland to new offices near Beaverton.

Tek spun off generations of other companies, among them Planar Systems, Floating Point Systems, Cascade Microtech and Merix Corp. – most of which also found offices west of Portland. Intel picked Washington County for its Oregon outpost and a successsion of other manufacturing outposts did, too.

Today’s tech leaders, though, tend to favor downtown amenities – food carts, bike parking and mass transit. Lattice chief executive Darin Billerbeck lives in Portland’s Pearl District, sometimes commuting to its Hillsboro office along the MAX light-rail line.

Now if only the building they’re moving into could get that bike parking right, we’d be all set.

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

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Ask BikePortland: Is it legal to ride with my dog?

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 12:13
Not a crime, in case you were wondering.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to the latest installment of Ask BikePortland. Browse past questions here.

Portland is a perennial front-runner in national rankings of top bike cities, and the same goes for dogs. We love them both. But what happens when you demonstrate affection for pedaling and pooches at the same time?

Reader Nastassja P. had an experience recently that left her wondering if riding with a dog on a leash is legal. She emailed us her experience and asked the question:

“We were on Lincoln St on about SE 36th/37th heading west at about 7:30am. We were well within the lines established by the white biker image painted on the ground [a sharrow, Lincoln is a bike boulevard]. I was just riding along, my dog Oso to the right of me (very close to the parked cars), on his walky-doggy, and weren’t going super slow – he was definitely running.

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Lady in a sedan with 3 kids in it, drove by (going the same direction as me) and slowed down and rolled down her window, leaned over the front seat so her head was nearly out the side of the passenger window and yelled “You cannot be on the road with your dog!” and pointed/waived her finger at me, and then zoomed off. I had no time to say anything back.

Oso and I have been biking together from the beginning. He’s quite behaved and stops at stop lights and knows his right and left, and is quite good at drinking out of the water bottle as well. I like to take him to work with me at least one day a week. For the most part, I get smiles, but today was the first time that someone just seemed outright pissed to witness such a site.

I’m wondering, is there a law prohibiting biking with dogs? Or how do others feel about this?”

We asked Charley Gee of Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton for an answer. He said the closest thing in the Oregon Revised Statutes that would even remotely apply would be 814.450: “Unlawful load on bicycle.” But that law only deals with carrying the load, not on something attached and running alongside you. (And for reference, it doesn’t prohibit you from carrying a dog in a bag or basket, unless it, “prevents the person from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebar and having full control at all times.”

That means this is legal:


(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

So is this:


(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

This too:


(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

To keep both hands on your bars and have your dog run with you while doing so, get one of these doggie-walker thingeys like Nastassja has:

Oso and his bike leash.
(Photo by Rick Olson)

Going back to Nastassja’s question, no, it’s not illegal to bike with your dog running alongside. However, Gee also pointed out that Careless Driving could be applied if the presence of the dog distracted you or caused you to do something that led to a collision with another road user.

You might recall back in 2011 when a woman became distracted with her dog in the back seat of her car while driving and swerved and struck a man who was biking on SW Multnomah. In that case the driver was issued a citation for Careless Driving with injury to a vulnerable road user (ORS 811.135).

So go ahead, ride with your dog all you’d like. Just make sure those big, cute puppy eyes don’t distract you from safely navigating the road ahead.

Like Ask BikePortland? So do we. And we’d love to find a sponsor. Contact jonathan@bikeportland.org if interested.

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Video from Philly shows thief removing sign pole to steal a bike

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 11:13
Out comes the pole, off goes the bike.
(Photo from WPVI-TV)

Bike theft is a national problem. I know we’ve focused on it quite a bit here in Portland, but I think it’s important to know that every major city is struggling with the issue.

As part of my daily grind I skim news headlines for bicycle-related items. One story that I think is worth sharing comes from WPVI-TV (ABC) in Philadelphia. I was struck by how it described such a similar situation to what we’re experiencing here in Portland.

What really amazed me was the video the news station shared. In it, a thief wearing a hoodie and gloves unscrews a sign pole, lifts it out of the ground, throws it on the sidewalk and cooly pedals away. All in just 30 seconds.

Check it out below…

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Nabbing bikes that were locked to traffic sign poles has happened in Portland, but to see someone do this on video is jaw-dropping.

Makes me wonder how the City of Portland affixes its traffic signs to the sidewalk.

This underscores the need for cities to provide as much secure bicycle parking as possible. Often people lock up to sign poles because there’s no other parking around and/or existing parking is full.

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Portland parking reformers puzzle over how to value bike lanes

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 10:28
What’s it worth?
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

How much is a bike lane worth?

As the City of Portland begins moving toward an overhaul of its auto parking policy, the people on two massive parking-reform stakeholder committees (one for the central city and one for neighborhood commercial districts) are beginning to confront an interesting problem.

If modern acolytes of market-priced street parking are correct, it’s actually not hard to discover the economic value of an on-street auto parking space: use meters or permits to raise the price of parking until 15 percent of spaces in a given area — about one per block — are always empty and available. It’s the curbside equivalent of a store that’s acquiring new inventory at the same rate that it sells its current stock.

But no such simple formula exists for calculating the value of something else that the City of Portland says it hopes one day to have on most of its major streets: protected bike lanes. And in the absence of such a measurement, some committee members worry that the city may be tumbling toward a system that would merely enshrine the city’s curbsides as places to park cars, though somewhat more expensively than before.

“All sorts of things could go where parking goes, and the city doesn’t really have a coherent policy as to when we choose to put parking there.”
— Grant Morehead, PBOT

“All sorts of things could go where parking goes,” Grant Morehead, the city’s lead staffer on the Centers and Corridors parking stakeholder committee, which is focusing on mixed-use neighborhoods like Hollywood and North Mississippi Avenue. “And the city doesn’t really have a coherent policy as to when we choose to put parking there.”

Mauricio Leclerc, Morehead’s counterpart on the new Central City parking stakeholder committee, said Thursday that the city needs to create an “objective measure” that could capture how important a given parking space is.

But he wasn’t sure how to create a similar measure to weigh that one against when it came to mobility such as a dedicated bike lane, bus lane, or turn lane.

Letting the market put a price on that parking space’s value would be one way to take such a measurement. But (at least until all vehicles, including bicycles, are charged a fraction of a cent for each roll of their wheels) no such pricing system is available for people biking on a street.

“How do we make that tradeoff?” Morehead asked stakeholders Thursday. “How do we determine when one mode is more important than another?”

Portland Bureau of Transportation planner Grant Morehead discusses parking policies with the city’s Centers and Corridors parking stakeholder committee.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Those present talked intelligently about that and other issues, in large and small groups, for two hours. But no clear answer seemed to be emerging.

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Ian Stude, chair of the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee and a member of the Centers and Corridors committee, said a subgroup of bike-friendly committee members had met before Thursday’s meeting to compare notes and discuss what to ask for. He said they, too, had reached no clear conclusions.

“We mostly ended up talking about process,” Stude said.

Chris Smith, a city planning and sustainability commissioner also on the Centers and Corridors committee, asked Morehead if he thought Portland’s “green transportation hierarchy,” a pyramid that supposedly informs all decisions in the city’s transportation system plan, ought to apply.

“Shouldn’t that inform this prioritization as well?” Smith asked.

Morehead didn’t disagree.

As the meeting wrapped up, committee member Sean Green of the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association told Morehead and Leclerc that he fears that unless the city moves to create some sort of system for evaluating the importance of any given bike lane, the economic value of on-street parking to local businesses and residents will always trump the citywide economic value that would be created by a complete network of direct all-ages bikeways.

Outside the building, Green said he was taking part in the year-long parking stakeholder process largely out of his frustration with the city’s decision last year to prioritize auto parking over any dedicated space for bikes on 28th Avenue.

“We were told that this process would be an answer to those problems,” he said.

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Left-hook on N Williams leaves one man injured

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 09:00
Photo from the scene. The man in the red jersey (seated) is the one who was injured. The tow-truck driver is wearing suspenders bib overalls.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last night on N Williams Avenue, a man was injured when he was involved in a left-hook collision with another road user. The incident happened around 5:30 at the intersection with Tillamook. I happened to be riding by and was able to stop and talk to one of the riders who saw the collision.

According to the witness, who was nearly involved in the collision himself, the injured man was riding his bicycle northbound on Williams (a one-way street with a left-side bike lane). The witness was riding alongside the man and one other rider. The witness told me they were riding “at a high speed but with front and rear blinking lights.” As they came up to the Tillamook intersection he saw a large tow-truck (owned by Sergeants Towing, which is located just a few blocks away on Vancouver) stopped with its blinker on, waiting to turn left. He and the other riders continued through the intersection and the tow-truck turned left, striking the man who was riding at the front.

According to the witness, another man in an adjacent building saw the collision and said it was clearly the bike riders’ fault. Here’s a tweet from Kevin Veaudry Casaus, who was right behind the collision:

@nacnudnosilla @BikePortland guy on foot said cyclist solely at fault for not stopping and never tried to brake or avoid. All Untrue

— Kevin Veaudry Casaus (@kevinrvc) January 30, 2015

The man who came in contact with the tow-truck appeared to suffer just minor injuries (although adrenaline has a way of masking more severe injuries). He was talking with the tow truck driver and the police about what happened. At one point, the tow-truck driver said, “I’m sorry man, I’m glad you’re not seriously hurt.”

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The potential for left-hook collisions on Williams have been a major concern ever since a project completed last fall moved the bike lane to the left side.

This is the second collision we’ve heard about since the changes were implemented. Back in December a woman on a bike was involved in a collision with a driver as she attempted to cross over Williams (at New Seasons Market) and go right onto Fremont.

(For what it’s worth, I was nearly the victim of a left-hook myself a month or so ago. It happened further up Williams around Skidmore. A woman driving a large truck turned left right next to me and I had to yell and scream to let her know I was there. Luckily I was riding slowly and very alertly so I avoided a collision. She was very angry with me and said she never saw me.)

We’ve requested more information from the Portland Police Bureau but have yet to hear back.

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Jobs of the Week: SoupCycle, Castelli, Bike Gallery & Islabikes

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 08:00

We’ve had four great job opportunities listed this week. Check them out via the links below…


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

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

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Bike Farm launches pay-what-you-can wrench night for Spanish speakers

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 16:49
Wrench time at Bike Farm.
(Photo courtesy Bike Farm)

Portland’s volunteer-driven do-it-yourself bike repair shop kicked off 2015 with a cool initiative: a night for people who speak Spanish or are learning to.

Bike Farm’s second monthly Noche Bilingüe is Tuesday, Feb. 10, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Assuming interest keeps growing, it’ll continue on the second Tuesday of each month.

Bike Farm, located just north of NE Broadway at 1810 NE 1st Ave is a place where anyone can rent a repair stand for $5 an hour and use tools and free advice from volunteers and other users. You can also skip the hourly fees by purchasing a membership.

“We are looking for patrons as well as volunteers for greeting and wrenching, especially native Spanish speakers,” Bike Farm board member Diana Holland said in an email Wednesday about Noche Bilingüe. “Stand time will be by donation during the initial roll-out and as always, no one will be turned away for lack of funds.”

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Y en español, ella continuó: “Esta noche bilingüe se dedica a personas que hablen español o que quieran aprender a hablar español. Queremos crear una comunidad dedicada a la diversidad de idiomas, culturas e identidades. Bike Farm está comprometido en ofrecer un espacio seguro y acogedor para aprender a arreglar bicicletas. Cada segundo martes, 4:30-7:30 p.m.”

Another shot of Bike Farm in action.

This joins three other monthly events at Bike Farm:

  • Women and Trans Wrench Night: every 1st and 3rd Tuesday from 4:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Open Shop Night: Free stand time every 1st Thursday from 6-9pm
  • Volunteer Orientation: 3rd Wednesday from 6:30pm to 7pm

Learn more at BikeFarm.org.

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Amanda Fritz touts street funding plan and hopes for third term

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 15:42
Commissioner Amanda Fritz in 2011.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The 2016 election cycle is revving up all over the country, Portland City Hall included.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz surprised many local political pundits yesterday when she announced her plans to seek a third term. The announcement came the same day that the once-marginalized city council member won a 4-1 vote to dedicate 50 percent of surplus money over the next four years to “infrastructure maintenance and replacement” for roads, parks and emergency services.

The Oregonian reports that Fritz’s proposal will apply to “one-time funding identified during the annual budget process or excess money carried from one budget to the next.” It’s apparently intended as a sort of make-up call for the city’s infamous failure to follow through on a 1988 plan to dedicate 28 percent of utility license fees for transportation.

Opposing Fritz’s measure was her colleague Dan Saltzman, who said the council was “setting ourselves up to be criticized” by attempting to tie the hands of future councils.

For yesterday’s article, Fritz told The Oregonian’s Brad Schmidt that she plans to finance her 2016 campaign largely out of a life insurance payment from her late husband Steve Fritz, who died in a freeway crash in September when a person headed the opposite direction hit a tanker trailer and then veered across the grassy median into him. He’d been commuting to his job as a psychiatrist for Oregon State Hospital in Salem.

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Amanda Fritz is the only non-incumbent ever elected to Portland’s city council with public financing. Two years after her 2008 victory, Portland voters killed publicly funded elections, which were loudly opposed by the Portland Business Alliance, the regional chamber of commerce. In 2012, Fritz won a second term by donating $300,000 of her own money into the campaign.

“Fritz said her husband had picked up extra shifts, working the equivalent of two full-time jobs, in the years since to help rebuild their savings,” Schmidt reported Wednesday.

Fritz has been an uneasy ally for low-car transportation advocates over the years, sometimes passionately supporting sidewalks or opposing the Columbia River Crossing and other times saying she couldn’t support a bike sharing system until people stopped riding bikes illegally downtown.

In her reelection announcement, Fritz listed “Identify funding to maintain basic infrastructure” as one of her priorities for the next two years.

More recently, she joined the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Oregon Walks in support of a “street fund” based on a progressive income tax, but not until opposition from the PBA and others had apparently driven her colleagues away from that plan.

Schmidt’s piece called Fritz “the city’s most unconventional and unlikely politician,” and that may be true.

Two other council members will also be up for reelection in 2016: the pair that at least for the moment are most tightly in charge of the city’s transportation policy.

Mayor Charlie Hales said this month that he’s started fundraising for a reelection campaign. Schmidt reported Wednesday that Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick “said he’ll run again in 2016.”

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Weekend Event Guide: Women’s only, 3-speeds, a bike party, and more

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 14:18
Grab your three-speed and head to Velo Cult on Saturday.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

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

Seriously. Is this weather amazing or what? You better get while the gettin’s good when it comes to biking in winter because it doesn’t get any better than this.

And I hope you don’t have plans for Saturday yet because we’ve got a very full slate of rides and events for you to choose from.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 30th

The Clymb Warehouse Sale/Pop-up Shop – Thursday – Sunday (hours vary) at The Clymb HQ (1440 NW Overton)
Online outdoor gear discounter The Clymb is hosting their first-ever warehouse sale. There will be major deals on nice kit. Check their site for hours and more info.

Portland Bike Party – 7:00 pm at Jamison Square (810 NW 11th)
There’s a new bike ride in town… I mean, a new party in town… I mean, it’s both! It’s the Portland Bike Party, a new event that looks to become a monthly mash-up between Slow Roll and Pedalpalooza — with a big focus on fun. Organizers say wearing an outlandish outfit is encouraged (but not required), and they’ve even got a collaborative Spotify playlist to keep the mobile music fresh. Will this become a thing in Portland, re-energizing our streets and bike fun culture? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely curious. More info here.

Saturday, January 31st

Plant Trees By Bike – 8:45 am at Holy Redeemer School (127 N Rosa Parks Way)
Join the non-profit Friends of Trees to haul and then plant trees by bike. This is a great way to put your bike to work while hanging out with great folks and doing something positive for your neighborhood. Learn more here.

Let’s Race Bikes Kickoff Ride – 9:00 am at Portland Bicycle Studio (1435 NW Raleigh)

This group has one goal: To get more women excited and inspired to ride bicycles fast. This ride will kickoff their 2015 road racing season. Show up at 9 for coffee and conversation, then roll out on a 2-3 hour “no-drop” ride that will focus on learning group riding skills. New riders are encouraged and all ladies/female-identified bodies are welcome. More info here.

River City Bicycles/Sorrella Forte Women’s Group Ride – 9:00 am at River City Bicycles (706 SE MLK)
If you’re an intermediate rider looking for camaraderie and a solid riding group, this is where you belong. Speed will average about 15-17 mph and route will be about 30-40 miles. More info here.

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Free Bike Maintenance Class at Pedal PT – 10:00 am at PedalPT (2622 SE 25th Ave)
The first in a series of three free classes taught by a professional mechanic (in this case it’s Aaron Michalson, owner/operator of Left Coast Bicycles Mobile Bicycle Service). This free class will focus on general maintenance and how to fix a flat. Perfect for those new to cycling. RSVP is strongly encouraged. More info here.

Biking About Architecture – 12:30 pm at NE 23rd and Alberta (food carts)
Join biking and residential architecture lover Jenny Fosmire as she delights you with hidden gems of the Alberta and Concordia neighborhoods. She’ll point out some eco-superstar homes including a tiny house, a “hand-made modern”, and more. Expect a laid-back, 8-mile ride (with some alley riding!). More info here.

Society of Three Speeds Meet-up – 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd)
Billed by Society of Three Speeds founder Shawn Granton as, “A casual gathering of three speed enthusiasts,” this event promises some enlightening conversation about the civility and superiority of three speed bikes. Expect a few prizes, more info on future rides, and more. More info here.

Sunday, February 1st

NW Trail Alliance Group Ride (MTB) – 8:00 am, carpools being organized
This week’s group mountain bike ride will tackle the legendary trails at Sandy Ridge. Built for mountain biking for mountain biking, this the place everyone is talking about! Flowing, fast, and fun. There will be ride/loop options for different skill levels. More info here.

Panera Bakery Ride – 10:30 am at Wilshire Park (NE Skidmore and 36th)
Join the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club for a 27-mile ride from northeast Portland to the Marine Drive bike path and over to a bakery on Airport Way. Pace will be 14-16 mph. More info here.

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New flashing beacon on Springwater path at SE 136th

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 12:00
New push-button beacon on Springwater path at 136th.
(Photo: Gretchin Lair)

Whenever biking/walking paths cross larger streets there can be a potential for conflict. Path users might get lulled into a false sense of security while users of the street — especially if they’re moving fast in a car — might not expect cross traffic.

We’re happy to report that one such crossing is now a bit safer thanks to the installation of a flashing crossing beacon. Reader Gretchin Lair sent us several photos of the new beacon that has been installed on the Springwater Corridor path where it crosses SE 136th (map).

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We’ve yet to confirm why this particular beacon was installed, or whether it’s part of a larger safety project.* Back in 2013, a five-year-old girl was killed by a passing auto driver when she tried to cross 136th about 1.5 miles north of this location. That tragedy led to $4.8 million in funding (state and city) to add sidewalks and crossing improvements all along the street.

*Oregon State Representative Shemia Fagan confirmed with us today that this flashing beacon was indeed part of the state funding package. This is one of two “rectangular rapid flash beacons” to be installed through that project.

If you’ve used this crossing, share a comment and tell us what you think about it.

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County now using magnetic sweeper to pick up tacks off Hawthorne Bridge path

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 10:11
They’re coming for you tacks!
(Photo: Multnomah County)

Three weeks after we heard our first reports of thumbtacks scattered somewhere around the ramps of the Hawthorne Bridge, fresh reports keep coming in.

Image sent by a reader of a
tack picked up at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“(Tuesday) they found about 12 tacks, Monday they found about 20 and Friday they found in the 20 to 40 range,” Multnomah County spokesman Mike Pullen told KOIN-TV yesterday. Also yesterday we heard from KOIN reporter Elishah Oesch that her cameraman picked up 14 tacks from the east end of the path near the TriMet bus stop.

The county, which maintains the Hawthorne, Morrison, Burnside and Sellwood bridges, said Wednesday that it’s made a new plan to protect the safety and property of bridge users: it’s going to sweep the bridge daily with a large magnet.

County spokesman Mike Pullen told us yesterday that, “We are now having staff walk down the sidewalks and bike lanes with a large magnet to find the tacks. Very strange situation.”

Pullen added that the County can help the Portland Police Bureau document the incidents. For their part, the PPB has yet to make any public statement about the incidents. According to KOIN-TV’s report Sgt. Pete Simpson, a PPB spokesman, said Wednesday that no formal reports have been made. (Note that this doesn’t mean no one has called the police, just that no reports have been officially filed.)

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There’s no justification for this sort of vandalism, of course, and no telling what might be in the mind of the person or people doing it. It’s possible that someone is upset about people who pass too fast or too close while biking across the bridge; it’s just as possible that this is a completely random series of attacks.

Screenshot from KOIN.com.

But whatever is going on here, the number of separate incidents suggests it’s more than a coincidence or an idle prank. Back in 2011, similar tack attacks on North Williams and Vancouver Avenues continued for several weeks but eventually abated.

When the first incident happened early this month, we brushed it aside as an isolated incident; but now that it has continued and shows no sign of letting up, we think a more serious response from PPB is warranted. An enforcement solution is probably not feasible at this time, but we’d like to see the PPB and/or Multnomah County issue some sort of joint statement about the problem.

A strongly worded statement could have three key benefits: It would show the community that the PPB takes this crime seriously; the statement, and resulting media coverage, might scare the perpetrator(s) into stopping; and it would raise the awareness of the incidents and possibly lead to new tips or information that could lead to an arrest.

On several past occasions, when vandals slashed automobile tires in southeast Portland, the PPB issued a press release (using their “Crime Stoppers” program) and encouraged the public to call in tips. These tack incidents are just as serious as the slashing of auto tires and should met with a similar response.

The Hawthorne is Portland’s most-biked bridge and one of the highest bike traffic spots in North America. This time of year, it carries about 4,000 to 6,000 bike trips on a typical weekday.

If you happen to witness anyone who seems to be responsible for similar vandalism, you can call 911 to report them. If you become the victim of one of these incidents, call the police non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 or use the police bureau’s online reporting tool. That may at least add pressure on police to dedicate some resources to the issue.

Jonathan Maus contributed to this story.

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Meetup Thursday kicks off new push for land bridge over I-405

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 15:12
(Image via ProspectPDX)

A downtown consulting firm is hosting a conversation tomorrow morning about one of Portland’s most persistent ideas: a cap over the Interstate 405 freeway.

The concept is intended to restitch the urban fabric that was destroyed by the freeway’s construction in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The host of Thursday’s 8-9 a.m. event is ProspectPDX, a local business consulting firm that presents a series of “future focused” ideas about civic life in Portland. Local writers Brian Libby and Dan Friedman, who have written about the concept twice on Libby’s Portland Architecture blog, are scheduled to speak.

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City planning officials are expected to be on hand too to talk about how the concept fits into Portland’s West Quadrant Plan. As we reported in 2013 (see item 6), freeway caps are a formal part of this long-term vision for the future of downtown.

The goal here might be to create something like this street in Columbus, Ohio, which believe it or not is on top of an urban freeway:

(Image via Portland Architecture)

And the larger goal, of course, is to come as close as possible to recreating the continuous grid that downtown Portland had in 1955:

(City of Portland archive photo via Vintage Portland)

And let us not forget former Mayor Sam Adams’ plan to connect NW Flanders with a biking/walking bridge. Maybe these projects could become one and the same.

Does the idea appeal to you? Tomorrow’s event, at 434 NW 6th Ave Suite 302, is free.

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Spinlister sees Portland as key city for its peer-to-peer bike rental service

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 13:29
Spinlister CEO Marcelo Loureiro (L) and CMO Andrew Batey in Portland earlier this month.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland is the market Spinlister could no longer ignore.

Even though the peer-to-peer bike rental service (think Airbnb for bikes) hasn’t officially launched here, the leaders of the company say they’re “baffled” by how popular it already is. Spinlister CEO Marcelo Loureiro and CMO Andrew Batey have been laying groundwork here for months now with an eye toward 2015 being the year Portland becomes one of their focus cities alongside New York City, Austin, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“It baffles me that we have so many bikes here in Portland — with no push from us whatsoever. We didn’t really embrace Portland, Portland embraced us. They demanded we come here.”
— Andrew Batey, Spinlister CMO

The strategy marks important growth for a company that just a few years almost didn’t exist. After launching in 2012 to much fanfare, the company failed to attract investors and ended up having to “pivot” (in tech parlance) to a new strategy. The original founders changed the name to Liquid to reflect their plans to become the “liquid marketplace” for all types of shareable items, but the venture capital crowd wasn’t impressed and the entire platform was shut down in January 2013.

But Loureiro, a 47-year old Brazilian-born entrepreneur believed in the bike-rental model. He was one of the original investors, and when things got dicey in 2013 he stepped up and grabbed the reins of the company, re-branded it, and began to rebuild. During a meeting at a coffee shop in northwest Portland earlier this month, he seemed to relish the headlines from those days that proclaimed, “Spinlister is back from the dead!”

With 2013 written off as a “learning year,” Marcelo and his team spent 2014 focused on the New York City market and built an impressive amount of inventory (bikes listed) and demand (people to rent them) — the two key components of their business model. Last summer Spinlister built an inventory of 2,000 bikes in Brooklyn alone.

Now they’ve set their sights on Portland.

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Lots more red dots coming soon.

In 2012, there were only two bikes in Portland available for rent on Spinlister. Today there about 200. The company has high expectations for Portland and expects that number to reach “a few thousand” by the end of the summer.

Batey, who leads the company’s marketing efforts, said, “It baffles me that we have so many bikes here in Portland — with no push from us whatsoever. We didn’t really embrace Portland, Portland embraced us. They demanded we come here.”

The attraction is obvious. Spinlister helps connect people with bikes to loan with people who need a bike to ride. Listers can make extra cash and renters can find a perfect bike, whether they need something to haul groceries or haul up the steep West Hills for the view atop Council Crest.

Earlier this month Spinlister hosted a meet-up event in Portland for listers to learn more about the service. “We usually have about five or six people at those events,” Batey said. “We had 30 people! And they came early, left late, had engaging discussions and asked really in-depth questions we just don’t hear in other places.”

Sample of local listings.

Loureiro noticed something different in Portland too. “We have a lower amount listings in Portland, but the number of requests that are fulfilled is amazing. It’s the highest in our entire system. The amount of community engagement here is off the charts.”

Spinlister says their business is about much more than just renting a bike. They talk about how their listers are like civic ambassadors who not only hand over a bike to renters, but often dole out restaurant advice, tips on where to ride, and in Portland, sometimes even care packages. Loureiro and Batey, who are based in Santa Monica, California, rent bikes themselves whenever they’re in a new city. In Portland, Loureiro struck up a conversation with a woman he rented from: “She ended up telling me she was a sales rep for a kombucha company… So she gave me a case of kombucha!”

Loureiro says renting a bike through Spinlister gives you a “local connection” (90 percent of their users are visiting from another city). And the system vets each party before any transaction takes place. Both the lister and the renter usually exchange several emails or texts (the app has its own chat function) before the handover happens.

With just a few hundred listings in Portland so far, the company has their work cut out. Similar to bike-share, Spinlister’s model needs a minimum level of inventory density and demand before it can really take off. Since they’ve been in Portland, Batey and Loureiro have struck deals with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the City of Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau, and Bike Index.

Expect to see Spinlister working the crowds at over 80 city events this summer. And in a deal announced today, if you list a stolen bike on BikeIndex.org you’ll get a $30 credit toward a rental on Spinlister.

To manage partnerships and customer service issues, Spinlister hires a full-time City Manager in each place they operate. They also partner with bike shops (they’ll probably have one in each Portland quadrant) to offer users a place to get bikes fixed and to facilitate rental drop-offs and pick-ups. Some shops even use Spinlister as their de-facto rental department, leaning on the reach of their app and website and even piggybacking on their insurance policy.

Basically, Spinlister will go to just about any lengths to get more bikes listed. Batey said that currently about 46 percent of requests for bikes that come into Spinlister go unfilled. And beyond what’s already in his system, Batey says there are about 272 million bikes sitting in American garages right now, not being used.

“It’s all about getting that density so you find your ideal bike option anywhere in the city,” Batey says.

Unlike bike share, which focuses on last-mile and more utilitarian “A to B” trips (and comes with the sluggish, uninspiring bikes to match), Batey likes to think Spinlister is more of a “lifestyle brand.” “Our renters usually purchase multiple days and they’ll hit up the 40-mile loop, take the kids out, go to a park. It’s like having their own bike for three days, so they want a bike that expresses who they are… they want to go freely about the city and feel like they’re at home.”

And just like other sharing-economy companies, there is a financial attraction to getting involved. It’s free to list a bike and the average daily rental is $20 (of which 17.5 percent goes to Spinlister). An active user with a few bikes listed can earn $200-$300 per month. “That’s enough to pay off a high-end bike,” says Loureiro.

Spinlister.com

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Entering 10th year, PBOT ‘crosswalk enforcement actions’ still going strong

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 11:01
The warnings don’t seem to stop folks from breaking the law.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

While everyone likes to argue about which type of roads users break more laws — and we are currently being forced to have the tired debate all over again thanks to a well-intentioned but misguided legislative concept — the Portland Bureau of Transportation is doing their part to address the issue.

PBOT’s Crosswalk Enforcement Action program has been going strong since 2005. We checked in on one back in September and have reported on them many times over the years. The idea is simple: Place a human decoy (sometimes a notable politician but more often PBOT safety staffer Sharon White) in a crosswalk and wait for people to break the law while a phalanx of Portland Police motorcycle officers wait in the wings, armed with radar guns and quick twists of the throttle to chase people down.

The efforts are usually quite fruitful and they offer us a small window into the rampant disregard many road users have for the law.

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According to PBOT records, in 11 separate crosswalk enforcement actions in 2014, the police pulled over 319 people (most of the actions last 1-2 hours). Of those traffic stops, 251 people were given citations and 68 others received warnings. The vast majority of the citations were written for violation of Oregon’s crosswalk law (ORS 811.028 a.k.a. “failure to stop and stay stopped for a pedestrian”). The other most common violations are use of a cell phone, speeding, not using a seatbelt, and so on.

PBOT doesn’t keep track of what type of vehicle people were operating, but given the volume of biking and driving on these streets and what I’ve seen at these events first-hand, the vast majority of the citations go to drivers.

Detail from PBOT records on crosswalk enforcement action results.
-Download last 10 years of records here-

At their most recent enforcement action, which took place on December 16th at E Burnside and 24th, the Portland Police handed out 42 violations in just 1.5 hours. Here’s the breakdown (via PBOT): 22 Fail to Stop and Remain Stopped for Pedestrian, 2 Passing a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, 5 Lighting violation, 3 Cellphone, 2 License violation, 2 Failure to obey traffic control device, 2 Expired tags, 1 Fail to drive in lane, 1 Proof of insurance, 1 Seatbelt, 1 U-turn.

Think that one’s bad? On June 27th, 2014, an action at SE Powell and 31st resulted in 55 citations. Here’s the breakdown of their haul that day: 45 failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian, 2 failure to carry proof insurance, 2 speeding, 1 DWS, 2 failure to use seatbelt, 9 cell phone violation.

Yikes! This is a huge problem! If we just required everyone to get a license, get tested on the rules of the road, and have their vehicles registered with the State of Oregon this would whole problem would go away! (That was a joke.)

And what makes this more amazing is that PBOT actually broadcasts the locations ahead of time both via media statements and on the road with signage alerting people that a special enforcement zone lies ahead.

Today PBOT and their partners at PPB are headed out to SW Capitol Highway and Miles for this year’s first enforcement action. They’ll be there from 1:00 to 2:30. According to PBOT, This location was chosen “at the request of the community, which has been active in educating and encouraging drivers to be alert, aware and slow down.”

— See a recap of every enforcement action since 2005 via this PBOT document.

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Safety advocate to Novick: Where’s the Barbur study you requested?

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 09:18
Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick in 2014.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

When is a traffic study not a traffic study?

“Let’s work together to make Barbur safer,” Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick wrote in October 2013, promising that “the Portland Bureau of Transportation will commit the time and resources to work with ODOT and engage the surrounding communities to see the impacts of a possible road diet and find the right solution.”

Now, some of the advocates who helped persuade Novick to make that commitment are saying it’s still unfulfilled.

“An average of 1-2 people die every year on this section of Barbur and many more, like my friend Henry Schmidt, have their lives changed forever. If the Southwest Corridor plan is 12 years from completion that is 12-24 more of our neighbors’ lives lost.”
— Kiel Johnson, Friends of Barbur

In an open letter to Novick circulated last week, Kiel Johnson of the Friends of Barbur advocacy group wrote that because the Oregon Department of Transportation has been steadfastly saying that its study of traffic diversion during last summer’s construction doesn’t count as a study of an actual redesign, the city should keep demanding that it conduct a real study.

At issue are two miles of Southwest Barbur Boulevard, roughly between between Miles and Hamilton just south of downtown Portland. Because the wooded stretch of road has almost no intersections, it feels a lot like a freeway — and has seen six deaths, five of them speeding-related, over the last five years.

The lack of intersections also means that removing a northbound travel lane wouldn’t have the major effects on traffic capacity that it might on a more urban stretch of road — it’d merely reduce traffic weaving and extreme speeding. So advocates including Johnson have argued for replacing a northbound passing lane with a dedicated bike lane and walking path on each side of the street.

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Here’s Johnson’s letter:

Dear Commissioner Novick,

I am writing you regarding my concern for traffic safety on Barbur Blvd, particularly the wooded section, and the letter you wrote to the “Barbur Road Dieters” over a year ago. I am the founder of the Friends of Barbur group and helped get over 500 community members and groups to sign the petition asking for the study of a road diet on Barbur. We are still waiting.

Yesterday, I attended the SWNI transportation committee meeting where ODOT presented their traffic analysis during the recent construction on Barbur. At the beginning of the presentation Susan Hanson, from ODOT, announced that this was not a study of the road diet and no conclusions about a road diet should be made from this. Further she said that any additional conversation about a road diet should happen under the SW Corridor high capacity transit plan. This plan is focusing on the long term transit needs of the entire corridor. What we need is to look at the short term safety needs this very dangerous section in Portland. In your letter you agreed:

“The Southwest Corridor resolution is about affirming our agreement with our regional transit partners on the Southwest Corridor Plan, which is focused on the future of high capacity transit in the corridor. I would rather not link the Barbur road diet study to the Southwest Corridor resolution… The idea of a Barbur road diet is something I think should be studied regardless of whether there was such a thing as a Southwest Corridor Plan focused on high capacity transit. The Southwest Corridor plan will take shape over a dozen years; I would like to do a Barbur road diet study in a dozen months.”

My question to you is, what happened? We have been waiting over a year for a study that never happened. I am a big believer in the power of government to make people’s lives better. I created a Facebook group called “support the street fee” to counter the negative one and as a small business owner with 5 employees I picketed in front of the town halls in favor of the fee. I did this because I believed that reasonable people can come together to agree on commonsense plans to make our community safer.

A road diet makes sense on Barbur, especially after the minimal impacts ODOT discovered in their study. So far ODOT has refused to look at any of the safety benefits of a road diet on Barbur or even what a road diet might look like. In 2013, three people died in the same intersection on Barbur traveling at high speeds. Speeding on Barbur has to be brought under control. An average of 1-2 people die every year on this section of Barbur and many more, like my friend Henry Schmidt, have their lives changed forever. If the Southwest Corridor plan is 12 years from completion that is 12-24 more of our neighbors’ lives lost. As we sacrifice these people I think we need to at least know why ODOT has decided to lump a Barbur safety project in with such a long term project.

You told us, “We do want to study the idea of a road diet and plan to do so” and I believed you. Making Barbur safer will require a leader. I hope that you are that person and you have a community of people ready to support you.

Sincerely,
Kiel Johnson
www.friendsofbarbur.com

(For the record, the business Johnson mentions is the Go By Bike shop and valet at the base of the Aerial Tram in the South Waterfront. His views here are his own.)

In a separate interview Tuesday, Carl Larson of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance said he sympathizes with the fact that Novick made a promise that’s difficult to keep: convincing another agency to do a study.

But Larson said he agrees with Johnson that this was indeed what Novick wrote.

“He does make what seems to be a pretty solid commitment to do more than what is done so far,” Larson said. “I don’t think that’s due to blockages coming from the city of Portland. But I don’t think ODOT has necessarily made any commitments that they’ve defaulted on, other than putting safety first.”

So far, Johnson says he’s received no response from Commissioner Novick. We’ll let you know if/when he does.

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Company places 14 orange bikes in Beaverton as part of marketing ploy

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 16:26
Orange bikes seem a strange
way to promote a gym.
(Photo: Orangetheory Fitness/FB)

A marketing campaign that has generated backlash in several other cities for its similarity to ghost bikes has been launched in Beaverton and Tigard.

In the past two days we’ve received several reader tips about mysterious, spray-painted orange bikes locked up around Beaverton. One person thought they were a public art project.

Today we asked our friends on Twitter if they’d heard anything and we heard back from Tom at Seattle Bike Blog. He said the bikes were the work of a marketing campaign by a company called Orangetheory Fitness and pointed us to an article about the bikes published by The Stranger back in April 2014.

A few clicks later and we confirmed that Orangetheory has indeed placed the same orange bikes throughout the Beaverton area to promote their new Tigard location.

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They posted this on their Facebook page yesterday and a company spokesperson confirmed they have put 14 bikes out in the wild so far:

Interestingly, the company has gotten a backlash about the campaign in several cities because of how the bikes are similar to a well-known memorial tribute to people who have died while bicycling. The spray-painted bikes remind many people of ghost bikes, a phenomenon that has deep meaning among bicycle advocates and others impacted by tragic traffic collisions.

Orangetheory has gotten backlash in Seattle, in Madison, Wisconsin; Orlando, Florida; and elsewhere. In several places, Orangetheory managers agreed to remove the bikes after people expressed concerns.

Here’s what advocates from Naples Velo, a Florida-based bike advocacy group posted to Facebook after they saw the bikes earlier this month:

Despite those concerns, it appears as though this company feels the “buzz” and attention the bikes get outweighs people’s sensitivities around ghost bikes.

So far we haven’t heard of anyone being offended by the Orange bikes in Beaverton. People just seem curious.

Have you seen them? What do you think?

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Lawsuit stemming from crash during mountain bike race is withdrawn

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 13:56

“With this decision, the future of mountain bike racing in state of Oregon has a somewhat brighter outlook.”
— Park Chambers, owner of Fat Tire Farm

A lawsuit many feared would have an ominous ripple-effect on mountain bike race promotion in the state of Oregon has been withdrawn.

As we shared earlier this month, Lisa Belair-Sullivan filed a lawsuit against a race promoter and sponsor after she crashed and injured herself on a log that had fallen across a trail. Belair-Sullivan was warming up for the Dog River Super D mountain bike race in May. Her lawsuit contended that event promoter Petr Kakes of Hurricane Racing and Park Chambers of Fat Tire Farm (a shop who was the title sponsor of the event) created a safety hazard that she was unable to avoid.

On January 9th, we confirmed with Belair-Sullivan that she withdrew the case. While she has yet to make an official public statement, Park Chambers issued one on January 23rd. We’ve pasted the statement below in its entirety:

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Petr (Hurricane Racing) and I (Park-Fat Tire Farm) would like to thank the cycling community as a whole for coming together on this issue.

Fat Tire Farm (FTF) and Hurricane Racing (HR) have learned that the lawsuit filed against them at the Multnomah County Court has been withdrawn by the plaintiff. With this decision, the future of mountain bike racing in state of Oregon has a somewhat brighter outlook. FTF and HR are looking forward to the upcoming season and will soon announce future plans to continue to support competitive riding.

No one likes to see accidents happening during events. Mountain bikers, race organizers and promoters work together diligently to avoid such situations. However, all of us who ride bikes competitively have fallen before and we know crashes are part of the activity that we love and chose as participants. Unfortunately, gravity supported riding involves falls as part of the sport.

Let’s recognize, for the future of competitive mountain biking events, that there are inherent risks involved. Our hope is that each participant makes the right personal choice and takes appropriate responsibility in exercising judgment during events or while mountain biking. Personal responsibility while riding is paramount to the sport, trail access and the continued well being of competitive mountain biking for the racing community as a whole.

Park Chambers

Fat Tire Farm
21st Ave Bicycles
Hood River Bicycles
2714 NW Thurman St
Portland, Or 97210

CORRECTION: The original version of this story said the lawsuit was “dismissed.” It was actually withdrawn. Sorry for the mistake.

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Get ready for Southwest Portland Week!

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:34
Rolling through Hillsdale.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The second week of February (9-13) will be Southwest Portland Week here on BikePortland.

That entire week, News Editor Michael Andersen and I will be stationed in a secret bunker (probably a pub or coffee shop in Multnomah Village) where we’ll focus our editorial output on the issues, projects, businesses, and people of southwest Portland.

If you recall our East Portland Week last summer, you’ll have some idea of what to expect. The basic idea with these focused coverage events is to open our eyes to places that we don’t cover — or physically inhabit — as often as we’d like to. Sure, we have sources all over the region and we can cover places we never visit; but it’s just the not the same as being there.

Being in a new part of the city opens us up to new perspectives and it makes our reporting better. We learned a lot about East Portland that not only influenced the 10 stories we published that week, but that still permeates our work today. We hope to do the same in southwest Portland.

And it’s a good time to be headed out that way.

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From an infrastructure perspective, the issue of whether or not the state will tame SW Barbur Blvd recently took an interesting turn. Meanwhile, a few streets over, the City of Portland recently installed a new protected bike lane.

Some of our coverage will surely focus on the many amazing volunteer advocates this part of the city has produced. Names like Don Baack, Roger Averbeck, Marianne Fitzgerald, Keith Liden, and many others all hail from southwest Portland and have their fingerprints all over its active transportation ecosystem. Another person we hope to talk with during Southwest Portland Week is City Commissioner Steve Novick. He not only lives in the area, he’s also in charge of the Bureau of Transportation. And of course we’ll be seeking out regular, everyday bike riders too. Any southwest readers out there feel like being the subject of a Ride Along?

And what about bike businesses in southwest? Did you know that Western Bikeworks is opening a huge new store in Tigard? We’ll get the full scoop next month.

If you have ideas on stories we should cover, places we should visit, or people we should talk to while we’re in southwest Portland, please drop us a line.

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Thoughts on Hart Noecker and our community

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 10:52

In case you have not heard by now, Hart Noecker, a man who was well-known in local bike activism circles and who we used several times as a source for stories over the years, has been the subject of serious allegations regarding his actions and behaviors in numerous personal and group relationships.

I care deeply about our community and the people impacted by Noecker’s actions and I take this situation very seriously. Also, since I’m the one who decided to feature him on this website on several occasions, I want to share my thoughts and offer some clarifications.

In the past several weeks since these accusations have been made public, I have talked about it with many people and have addressed it publicly on several forums including Facebook, the comment section of the Willamette Week, Twitter, and so on. (Note: I attended a community meeting where people told their stories about Noecker but left after organizers said it was over-capacity and only those directly impacted by him should remain.)

Because Noecker appeared on this site, some people in the community feel like I enabled him by giving him a platform to build social capital and gain power. I agree with that to some extent. However, I think more explanation is needed.

Noecker wrote one guest article for us (he was not paid for it) and he was mentioned in 19 other stories going back about three years (most mentions were in our stories about the Columbia River Crossing project). Given how active he was in the events, stories, projects, and policies we covered, it was natural for us to use him as a source. We also published some of the photographs he took at bike-related events.

At the time I used Noecker as a source and published his guest article, I had no idea about these allegations and I failed to see any red flags about his personal life. I did not know him personally and never spent time with him outside of talking to him for a story we were working on. I knew he made people uncomfortable, but I always thought people simply didn’t like — or approve of — his often provocative, brash, and aggressive style of activism. Despite this discomfort, I used him as a source because I’ve always tried to represent all views and perspectives — even uncomfortable ones — on this site.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have never used Noecker as a source nor would I have published his work.

In hindsight, I should have seen more red flags. But I did not. I’ve also learned in these past few weeks that it’s an example of a blindspot of my privileged position that I didn’t see how Noecker’s presence made some readers feel so unsafe that they tuned out anything he was associated with.

Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks by talking to Byrd Jasper (his most public accuser), Noecker himself, his friends, and reading and staying engaged with all the Facebook posts, comments, meetings and so on.

Two weeks ago, I decided to delete every reference to Hart Noecker on BikePortland (an action initially requested of me by Jasper). That’s an unprecedented thing for me to do, but given how many people Noecker has negatively impacted in our community I did it to create a safer place and to make sure he can never use BikePortland as a platform again.

Going forward, Michael and I plan to re-double our efforts to make sure everything we do is as comfortable and inclusive as possible for the entire community. That includes a focus on elevating a broader range of voices, especially those of women and others who are currently underrepresented in our stories and discussions. I have also tightened my comment moderation standards and I’m considering publication of a code of conduct we expect everyone to abide by.

I am happy to answer any questions about this situation in the comments or via email.

— For more background, read the Willamette Week cover story, then read this “Statement from the survivors” and another response to the Willamette Week story (and how to create healthy activism communities) from Earth First Journal.

— Note: I have been in contact with Noecker and he is not making any public comments at this time.

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