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Opinion: Better Naito has ended in the worst way

Bike Portland - 8 hours 34 min ago

Dear Portland, due to an internal miscommunication, #BetterNaito was removed a day earlier than scheduled. At this time, we are stationing flaggers on both ends of the installation to inform riders of the unexpected closure.

— Portland Bureau of Transportation (@PBOTinfo) September 21, 2018

It’s gone. Ripped out last night — a full day before it was scheduled to be removed.

What’s one more day when we already got cheated out of a full week due to a conflict with a nearby bridge construction project?

It’s a lot.

Because there was zero prior warning, it looks like several people rode onto Naito this morning, assuming the lanes were still protected, only to realize they were fully exposed to other traffic.

Thousands will miss it.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“I had an extremely sketchy moment this morning when I hopped on Better Naito southbound, saw a car coming at me, and realized Better Naito was gone,” tweeted Dirk VanderHart this morning.

This morning at 10:03 am, the Portland Bureau of Transportation apologized for the early removal and acknowledged the mistake, saying it was, “due to an internal miscommunication.” They then sent flaggers to both ends to let people know about the “unexpected” closure.

This error could have led to someone being hurt or even killed. It adds salt into the wound PBOT has created by ripping this rug out from under us at the end of every summer.

It’s a wound that was already smarting even with the installation fully in tact.

Ever since it first went in on May 1st, the anemic, low-budget design made it too easy for people in cars to drive in it. In the past two weeks we’ve heard of three incidents where people drove inside the Better Naito lanes at night — twice narrowly missing a rider, and once crashing into one.

On the night of September 9th, Richard Birdmead had his bike-mounted video camera rolling when he captured someone driving a black car without headlights on coming right for him. Then it happened again 10 days later.

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Still image from a video by Walker Devine, moments before he was hit while riding in Better Naito September 17th.

Devine’s bike.

Then on Monday night, 20-year-old southeast Portland resident Walker Devine was hit by someone driving in Better Naito. Luckily he escaped major injury, but his bike was snapped in half…

In an email this morning, Devine said it happened around 8:00 pm at SW Oak. Here’s his account:

“As I approached the intersection I noticed a car make a wide swing into the bike protected lane a block up from SW Harvey Milk/Stark onto the left northbound lane of Naito Parkway. I stopped at the intersection of Naito and Oak because I’ve encountered plenty of drivers doing this move before. There’s enough of a gap for drivers to swing back out onto the traffic lane of Naito. I signaled to them but by the time they were about 4 feet from the intersection I could tell they were not stopping. Then, if felt like they accelerated and hit me. I honestly thought it was an intentional hit and run.”

Devine said both people in the car were upset about what happened and helped him over to the curb. Witnesses called 911 and a police report was filled out. He went to the ER in an ambulance to get checked out and luckily only had some bruises and cuts. “My bike took the brunt of the attack, thank goodness,” he wrote. “I can’t believe that the bike wasn’t my leg every time I look at it.”

In a city that claims to have made Vision Zero it’s top transportation priority, we should never expose a group of road users to this much risk — especially when it comes from a city project intended to reduce it.

People risk their lives just to get the requisite political attention for projects like this to happen. Then they risk their lives because the project is so low-budget and value-engineered that it promotes unsafe behaviors. Then the project is abruptly removed without any warning or signage whatsoever, putting even more lives at risk.

This is madness. Better Naito should be a huge win for City Hall and PBOT. Instead, far too many riders dislike it (and who can blame them?) and many drivers see the few extra seconds delay it causes as an unspeakable infringement. In the end, the city has made it hard for even advocates of the project to hold their heads high.

We are in desperate need of transportation leadership in Portland. I’m optimistic that newly-named PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is up to the task. But right now, I’m disgusted by how Better Naito has been handled. We deserve better.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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How not to do bike parking

Bike Portland - 10 hours 37 min ago

Looks OK from far away.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Like some sort of riddle.

The other day I pulled up to an event at a Kaiser Permanente location in north Portland and was pleased to see a covered bike parking area. Then as I got closer all I could do was scratch my head.

As I pulled my bike in, I couldn’t figure how I was supposed to use it. The fact that a bike was locked awkwardly — as if someone had given up on it — was a red flag. There two different metal loops and a big ramp thing and none of it really seemed to fit together.

Another person was there with me (who happens to be one of the most senior leaders of the Portland Bureau of Transportation) said something like, “I think I’ve figured it out.” I looked over and he had rolled his front wheel up the ramp, which placed his bike fully under the canopy. That’s nice, I thought. But my bike has a very heavy and wide front end and there was no way I could do that.

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The intended use — which only works for 1) people who can figure it out and 2) people with a very narrowly-defined type of bicycle.

After a bunch of maneuvering, I was able to fit by backing in and clasping my lock around a bar.

I tweeted a few pictures of the rack and our friend Liz Shuster replied:

“I work in that building, we were all so surprised when that went in. Had to google the company to figure out how it was meant to be used. The staples were added later so people would actually park there.”

Oh! So the staples (which I ended up using) were added after-the-fact! Oh boy.

I appreciate the effort. But there’s no reason to recreate the wheel. Bike parking is not complicated. All you need are staple racks (preferably smaller ones with tube diameter narrow enough for a lock to go around a bike frame and wheel) with ample spacing and some sort of covering. If you need help, PBOT has a handbook of approved racks and more information on their website. Two excellent examples are Green Zebra Grocery on Lombard and Roosevelt High School in St. Johns.

As for Kaiser. I received a phone call from a customer support person who saw the tweet. They said they’d pass along the feedback to management.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Dr. Adonia Lugo returns to Seattle Saturday to discuss her book Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance

Seattle Bike Blog - 11 hours 16 min ago

Dr. Adonia Lugo is returning to Seattle Saturday to talk about her book Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance.

Lugo lived in Seattle for a spell a few years back while working on her anthropology dissertation on bicycle culture. Before that, she was a founder of Los Angeles’ massive open streets event CicLAvia. While in Seattle, she created the Seattle Bike Justice Project and helped Seattle Bike Blog organize the 2011 Safe Streets Social. Since leaving Seattle, Lugo has worked for the League of American Bicyclists, has contributed to and edited the academic collection Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation, and has been an organizer of The Untokening.

Basically, Adonia is awesome (and, full disclosure, a friend), and you should go to G&O Family Cyclery in Greenwood at 6 p.m. Saturday evening to hear her speak.

As an anthropologist, much of her work is very academic. But Bicycle/Race, published this year by Microcosm Publishing, is written for everyone, reading more like a memoir of her adventures studying and leading US bike culture.

Details from the event listing:

Join G & O Family Cyclery for a reading and discussion with Dr. Adonia Lugo on her new book Bicycle / Race: Transportation, Culture and Resistance. Come on in to the shop and pick up a copy of her book now!

Bicycle / Race paints an unforgettable picture of Los Angeles—and the United States—from the perspective of two wheels. This is a book of borderlands and intersections, a cautionary tale about the dangers of putting infrastructure before culture, and a coming-of-age story about power and identity. The colonial history of southern California is interwoven through Adonia Lugo’s story of growing up Chicana in Orange County, becoming a bicycle anthropologist, and co-founding Los Angeles’s hallmark open streets cycling event, CicLAvia, along the way. When she takes on racism in the world of national bicycle advocacy in Washington, DC, she finds her voice and heads back to LA to organize the movement for environmental justice in active transportation.

In the tradition of City of Quartz, this book will forever change the way you see Los Angeles, race and class in the United States, and the streets and people around you wherever you live.

Cultural anthropologist Adonia E. Lugo, PhD, joined the Urban Sustainability team at AULA in the spring of 2015. Dr. Lugo began investigating sustainable infrastructure during her graduate studies at UC Irvine, when she co-created the bicycle event CicLAvia in Los Angeles. After receiving her doctorate in 2013, she worked at the League of American Bicyclists in Washington, D.C. as a national leader in building better “human infrastructure” (diverse social networks and cultural norms) to promote bicycling. Today, Dr. Lugo looks for ways to bring her racial justice expertise from the field of bicycle advocacy into equitable and sustainable mobility at large. She is currently collaborating with partners around the country to define “mobility justice,” a concept that highlights the complex difficulties that people of color and other marginalized groups face both when traveling through public spaces and in urban planning and development processes.

In addition to her role as an educator at AULA, Dr. Lugo is involved in a number of projects designed to expand support for mobility justice. She is an advisory board co-chair with People for Mobility Justice, a core organizer of The Untokening, and the manager of the Bike Equity Network email list. Her book, Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance, was published in 2018.

Veldrijder Rebecca Fahringer

Bike Hugger - 11 hours 17 min ago

Rebecca grew up in rural Ohio, riding horses and dirt bikes with her family. Focusing her energy on the study of geology while competing in sport, she found cyclocross. An instant bond to this style of racing rooted in her love of the surrounding land. This video tells the story of what’s in it for her, what she gets out of it.

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Cirque Du Soleil Volta

Bike Hugger - 11 hours 21 min ago

The artist, by the end of this Cirque du Soleil tale expresses himself fully by doing BMX tricks. They include flatland, vertical, and acrobatics.

I was amazed. And, recommend you see it too. Currently playing at Marymoor Park get tickets here.

BMX rider Takahiro Ikeda is worth the price of admission alone.

The hair hanging too. Read the review from the Seattle Times.

There’s some skilled “shape diving” through a tower of different-sized hoops. And the finale spree features a crew of acro-bicyclists doing wheelies and other BMX (bicycle motocross) tricks, as they soar off jump boxes and onto steeply curved ramps.

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Weekend Event Guide: Harvest Century, Sunday Parkways, Ninkrossi, and more

Bike Portland - 11 hours 27 min ago

Get out and enjoy it.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Quick housekeeping note: BikePortland relies on advertisers to survive. We have an opening to sponsor this Weekend Event Guide. It’s a golden opportunity! Please get in touch if interested.

Hasn’t this weather been amazing? The onset of crisp and colorful fall-like conditions have us dreaming about long days in the saddle. While we might see a spot of ran here and there on Saturday, there should be plenty of sun for the Harvest Century and Sunday Parkways.

Here’s our selection of things to do on a bike this weekend…

Friday, September 21st

Park(ing) Day – 7:00 am to 7:00 pm at 18 locations citywide
A chance to ponder better uses of our curb space while lounging, playing, and talking in the street with friends old and new. More info here.

Saturday, September 22nd

Grand Prix Carl Decker #4 Ninkrossi – Washougal MX Park (WA)
Get ready for another awesome day of racing just across the Columbia river. This venue is known for the infamous “N” feature that winds through a big open meadow. More info here.

Casual Group Ride – 10:00 am at Western Bikeworks Lovejoy (NW)
This road ride caters to riders who appreciate a chill, no-stress pace with ample opportunity to enjoy the scenery and company. More info here.

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***BP PICK!! Harvest Century
The onset of fall-like conditions will make this ride truly magical. The route will take you through wineries and offers views of Mt. Hood and the Coast Range from rural backroads you’ll kick yourself for not discovering sooner. More info here.

Sunday Parkways Northeast – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm (NE)
The 2018 Parkways swan song promises carfree riding and lots of fun for the whole family on a route through inner northeast Portland. This is your last chance all year to enjoy the carfree magic. More info here.

Willamette River Welcome Ride – 9:30 am at corner of SE Sellwood and 7th (SE)
Led by the Portland Wheelmen Touring Club, this ride will explore classic Portland vistas. Expect about 25-30 miles with a few small(ish) hills. More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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It’s Park(ing) Day in Portland!

Bike Portland - 12 hours 40 min ago

Ping-pong is just one of many more interesting things we could do with our valuable curb space than park people’s cars.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Official PBOT logo.

Despite what you’ve seen in the brochures or read about in the NY Times, the city of Portland is still overrun with cars. The socially awkward, poisonous, and dangerous personal transport vehicles take up the vast majority of our roadway space.

Park(ing) Day — which takes place today citywide — is a chance to ponder that tragedy and consider more sensible things to do with our public right-of-way.

The event is organized by Portland Bureau of Transportation. And while they can’t just directly throw shade at our unhealthy relationship with driving, it’s clear the event is intended to highlight our car abuse problem. According to official verbiage, the event, “Gives people the opportunity to re-envision how we use our public spaces… PBOT wants to encourage you to rethink how streets can be used.”

18 businesses and organizations have received permits to use the curb lane to install all sorts of cool stuff like small parks, art installations, lounge areas, and more. Find out if there’s one near your travels today. Here’s the map followed by a list of locations and descriptions:

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North Portland

Art Parking (on N Denver St between N Schofield St & N Kilpatrick St): Art for All. Come create art and display your work on the display racks provided.

Northeast Portland

Don’t Park, PUTT!! (on NE Multnomah St between NE 7th Ave and 9th Ave) : It’s National Putt Putt day, come and try out our mini putt-putt course, enjoy snacks and get some swag! For pedestrians and cyclists. By Go Lloyd.

Northwest Portland

Burst Your Bubble (on NW 17th Ave between NW Lovejoy St and NW Kearney St): Come and enjoy a public bubble park for kids of all ages! By Opsis Architecture.

CRES-tober-Fest (on NW Marshall St between NW 14th Ave and NW 15th Ave): CRES-tober-Fest will be a fall celebration theme park complete with apple cider, corn-hole, giant Jenga, and pretzels. By Cambridge Real Estate Services.

Future Prairie Mobile Podcasting Studio (on NW 11th Ave between NW Couch St and NW Davis St): Join this mobile podcasting studio and enjoy some complimentary tea. By Future Prairie (artist collective).

Public Art Park (on NW 17th Ave between NW Northrup St and NW Overton St): Public Art Installation with all surfaces vibrantly painted with colors and patterns. By Swift.

Street Carnival (on NW 11th Ave between NW Marshall St and NW Lovejoy St): Come check out a StreetCar Cutout and get your picture taken. There will be a spinning wheel and lots of StreetCar swag to go around! By Portland StreetCar, Inc.

Urban Transformation (on NW Everett St between NW 10th Ave and NW 9th Ave): This parklet is a mini urban transect, more constructed on one end and more natural on the other. Sit or move through the space and leave thoughts and ideas on a wishing tree. By Sera Architects.

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Southeast Portland

Bikes & Coffee (on SE 52nd Ave between SE Tibbetts St and SE Franklin St): Coffee for cyclists (and anyone who like a good cuppa), as well as various bike tools and part on hand. By a Portland resident.

Connections: Reclaiming Streets and Revisiting Public Art (on SE Hawthorne Blvd between SE Grand Ave and SE 6th Ave): On the Multnomah County Building there are two bronze bas reliefs entitled Connections. Come and get a good look at these beautiful pieces of art! By Multnomah County.

Getting to Know You: Hey Neighbor! (on SE Hawthorne Blvd between SE 35th Ave and SE 35th Pl): Seating and games outside of Metro Boutique. Come and engage in an activity to learn more about your neighbors and neighborhood. By SE Uplift.

Making Connections for Fun (on SE 18th Ave between SE Ash St and SE Ankeny St): Bring your indoor plant out for a day in the sun and connect with your neighbors for a game of connect four or puzzle solving! By PlusQA.

Teddy Bear Picnic (on SE Alder St between SE 16th Ave and SE 15th Ave): Come and take a tea break with panda bears while surrounded by bamboo plants. By a Portland resident.

The Write On Letter Writing Lounge (on SE Division St between SE 32nd Ave and SE 33rd Ave): Pull up a chair, grab a pen and take time for some slow communication. This installation transforms a parking space into a letter writing salon! By Egg Press.

Neighborhood to the River (on SE Hawthorne Blvd between SE 40th Ave and SE 41st Ave): BES, Friends of Trees and New Seasons Market bring you the stream. Enjoy salmon, streams and trees and learn more about watershed health and stormwater management. By the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

Southwest Portland

Future of Transportation (on SW 2nd Ave between SW Taylor St and SW Yamhill St): An installation designed to provoke conversation about the future of transportation in Portland, including electric bikes, scooters and cars, rideshare and more. Enjoy trivia and prizes, a voting board and snacks while checking out an e-bike or scooter. By Forth Empowering Mobility.

What Will You Miss? (on SW Park Ave between SW Taylor St and SW Yamhill St): Sharing Mercy Corp’s vision that resilience is possible with climate change. What will you miss when we are further impacted by climate change? By Mercy Corps.

Skylab Installation (on SW 13th Ave between SW Burnside St and SW Washington St): Our PARK(ing) Installation seeks to give people a reason to take a break and pay more attention to their surroundings. Our unique ground surface will hopefully cause people to engage with the site and participate in thought provoking activities. By Skylab Architecture.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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New keypads (finally!) coming to Biketown bikes

Bike Portland - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 12:04

Snow, rain, spray paint: They’ve been through a lot.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregonian reported Tuesday that about 450 new keypads are on their way to Biketown bikes in the coming months.

This will be music to the ears of many of you as we’ve heard numerous complaints about unresponsive keypads for months now. Unlike older kiosk-based systems, the “smart” Biketown bikes the keypads are built into the rear rack. Users must enter a PIN and/or a six-digit rental code to unlock a bike. With over two years of wear-and-tear, many of the keypads simply don’t work anymore. You press the button and either nothing happens or there’s a frustratingly long delay.

Just over a month ago, I ran into this problem when I tried to rent a bike to get home from downtown after a meeting. There weren’t many bikes available and I tried the keypads on two before I gave up. I eventually tracked down an e-scooter and got home.

The next morning I contacted Biketown’s operator Motivate Inc. and asked General Manager Dorothy Mitchell about the problem. Biketown Marketing Manager Tom Rousculp blamed the problem on their vendor, Jump Bikes (formerly Social Bicycles). He said they’d been, “experiencing connectivity issues, including a system-wide outage over the past week that resulted in a number of unresponsive bikes.”

Here’s more from The Oregonian:

“Biketown officials believe they have a solution to the keypad issue, and they say the city won’t have to foot the bill for the new parts. But the changes could take several months to implement and would initially improve only about half of the 1,000-bike fleet.

Maintenance staff now has access to about 450 sets of new keypads, and Biketown hopes to replace the entire fleet of keypads over the next several months. Crews already replaced 53 keypads on individual bikes and recently swapped out 60 others’ controllers, which function as the brains of the bike and include the keypad.

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Dylan Rivera, Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman, said the city, bike operator Motivate, and bike maker Social Bicycles, have all been trying to find a solution as quickly as possible.

According to the city, the keypads’ cost is covered under the bike maker’s warranty. The first wave of replacements could take several months. Biketown could order more if they are needed, but Rivera said the city wasn’t sure how many keypads need to replaced.

Biketown’s contract with Motivate is up in July 2019, and Mitchell said its future bike rental contracts would likely have a different unlocking system.”

What happens next summer once the current contract is up is anyone’s guess at this point. But it’s very likely that we won’t see a big re-investment in the current system. Since Biketown launched in 2016, the industry has moved completely toward electric vehicles — both bikes and scooters.

The hottest bike share bikes at the moment are offered by Jump Bikes (now owned by Uber, which happens to be the corporate rival of Lyft, the company that recently bought Biketown operator Motivate). Jump’s system is 100% dockless e-bikes that are unlocked with an app, not a keypad.

Jump Founder/CEO Ryan Rzepecki delivered a keynote at the bike share conference in Portland on September 5th.

I tracked down Jump’s CEO and Founder Ryan Rzepecki at the North American Bike Share Association Conference held in Portland earlier this month. Rzepecki was mostly tight-lipped about whether or not Portland was next on Jump’s list. “I can’t say a whole lot right now. We’re still talking to PBOT,” he said. “At this stage, we’d like to bring this technology to Portland, but we’re still talking to PBOT to figure out what it would look like.”

“It’s complicated,” Rzepecki added, likely referring to the maze of corporate interests and contractual obligations Portland will have to make it through before signing a new contract next summer.

Whatever happens to Biketown, the future does not look bright for non-electrified options. “Light electric mobility” is the new wave, at least according to Rzepecki. “Regular pedal bikes never showed the type of growth and traction as you’re seeing with electric vehicles,” he said when I asked him about the new kid on the sharing block.

“The amount of people interested in riding e-bikes or e-scooters is much higher than folks riding a pedal bike because this is mostly about transportation and not recreation or exercise. It’s about getting where you’re going quickly, conveniently, without breaking a sweat. And electric mobility offers that in a way that pedal bikes don’t.”

That might be the case, but in the meantime, we need our old-fashioned pedal bikes to have functioning equipment. Stay tuned for more reporting on the rollout of the new Biketown keypads.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Park(ing) Day 2018 is Friday! Here’s a map of the 62 pop-up mini parks on a street near you

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 09:49

A walk through three WA State ecosystems in as many parking spaces, from Park(ing) Day 2014.

Park(ing) Day is one of my favorite holidays. For one day, people imagine better ways we could use just a tiny percentage of all the precious city space typically reserved for storing cars.

The idea started in 2005 in San Francisco and has since spread across the world. Originally, and still in many places, participants operated subversively and without official permission. But Seattle has taken a more proactive approach by not only encouraging the day of creativity, but also organizing an easy and free permit process for participants.

At a time when SDOT seems unable to escape bad headlines and goes from interim Director to interim Director without clear leadership, a day of pure fun and creativity may be just what the department needs. It’s a chance to celebrate the fun side of managing public spaces.

New this year, participants can vote for their favorites online. And there will be an after-party 7–9 p.m. at the Center for Architecture and Design.

Here’s the city’s interactive map of the pop-up parks:

More details from SDOT:

Wondering where you can find a pop-up park on September 21? Check out our interactive map to find a pop-up park near you.

Along with the parks hosted all over the city, we’ve created neighborhood clusters of pop-up parks in seven neighborhoods in Seattle. Clusters allow you to visit multiple parks at a time and enjoy everything the neighborhood has to offer. This year, clusters are located in:

• Beacon Hill
• Capitol Hill
• Delridge
• University District
• Lake City
• Rainier Beach
• Pioneer Square

Parks will be popping up all over the city from 9 AM – 7 PM; refer to the interactive map for hours, and then RSVP to the event on Facebook and share with your friends!

Pop-ups with the most votes…

When you check out pop-up parks on PARK(ing) Day, be sure to note which ones you like best and why… because on event day, you’ll be able to vote (online survey) for your favorites in each of three categories:

  1. Most creative use of space,
  2. Most connected to community, and
  3. Most interactive programming.

If you want to help celebrate the PARK(ing) Day award winners, swing by the celebratory after-party, hosted at the Center for Architecture and Design from 7 – 9 PM. We can’t wait to see who wins and honor ingenuity!

After 20 years, Portland’s bike parking code set for major refresh

Bike Portland - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 09:08

TV lounges — like this one inside the Lloyd Cycle Station — are not part of the proposed changes. Not yet at least.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

1996 was a long time ago. I imagine some of you reading this weren’t even born yet. Did you know the City of Portland is using a bike parking code that was adopted way back then?

It’s true. Even though our bicycling rates have septupled since then and we have about 100,000 more residents, we’re still using a playbook that’s 20 years old. If we want to meet our goal of 25% bicycle mode split by 2030, we’ve got to bring our parking policies into the modern era. Thankfully, a major update is in the works.

Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) have spent the last two years putting the pieces of the new code together. (You might recall how it was a BikePortland Wonk Night in 2013 that helped kick off this process!).

So, what exactly is this all about?

Cover of the discussion draft. Read it here.

It’s a batch of amendments to section 33.266 of the City of Portland Zoning Code that’s titled, Parking, Loading, And Transportation And Parking Demand Management.

That chapter is what dictates the quality and quantity of bike parking in Portland — whether you’re pulling up to your favorite store, pulling into work, or parking in your apartment building (keep in mind that zoning code only applies to new developments or major renovations to existing buildings). It matters for a lot of reasons: Lack of secure, accessible, and convenient parking is a real barrier to people who want to ride bikes (or ride more).

In their groundbreaking work in 2015 that explored the barriers to bicycling for people of color and people who live in low-income areas, the Community Cycling Center discovered that fear of theft was a major impediment to bike use. You might recall how residents of Cully’s Hacienda CDC housing development were ecstatic to finally get bike lockers after years of advocacy.

If we get this code update right, great bike parking would have been be baked-in.

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The recipe book so far is a 91-page discussion draft created by PBOT and BPS (with help from public input and a stakeholder advisory committee). Among the changes are:

  • Better weather protection: The code would require 100% of long-term spaces to have a roof so your bike doesn’t get wet (that’s up from the current 50% requirement).
  • Space for bigger bikes: In 1996, no one had long and wide cargo bikes. The draft code proposes that at least 5% of long-term spaces have room for a large bike (current code has no size footprint language).
  • Outlets for e-bikes: If a building has more than 20 long-term spaces, at least 5% of them must have a usable power outlet nearby.

Those are just some of the possibilities.

As you know, there are a lot of issues that rise to the surface when you consider changes to zoning codes. Will developers support it? How would the new requirements impact housing prices? How can we make sure the benefits of great bike parking spread to affordable housing residents and service industry workers?

There’s a lot to talk about. And we want to hear from you. That’s why we’ve teamed up with PBOT for a Wonk Night! It’s been way too long since we did one of these and we can’t wait.

Do ribbon racks make your blood boil? Tired of having to bring your wet and dirty bike into your apartment? Do you think a single hook high up on a wall is an ableist abomination?

If you have bike parking experience that you want to share — or if you have ideas that could help make our new code great, please join us this Monday (9/24) at 6:00pm. We’ve got a great venue lined up thanks to our friends at Fat Pencil Studio (541 NE 20th Ave #115). We’ll have PBOT staff on-hand for questions and there will be snacks and drinks. Special thanks to sponsors Hopworks Urban Brewery and Cascadia Ciderworks United for supplying the adult beverages!

Here’s the event listing and the Facebook link for more details.

Delve further into this topic by checking out the discussion draft. At a minimum, please take a few minutes to share your insights via the city’s online bike parking survey.

Disclaimer: The City of Portland has hired BikePortland to help build awareness for this project and host the Wonk Night event.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Yamaha Gravel Bike

Bike Hugger - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 15:11

While I was hanging out with Sony in San Francisco, Interbike kicked off and what I missed was Yamaha launching a motorized gravel bike. Understanding what this niche is about, the sound of a kitchen mixer really doesn’t take me away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Pedaling under my own power does. But with that much investment in motors, we’re not going to hear much else for at least another 2 or 3 product cycles.

Below is the press release.

Yamaha Introduces All-New Prototype Adventure Gravel e-Bike Biggest Brand in e-Bikes Unveils the Wabash Power Assist Bicycle at Interbike

CYPRESS, Calif. – September 18, 2018 – Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, is unveiling an all-new Power Assist Bicycle prototype called the Wabash today at the Interbike Expo. This all-new model is designed and developed for adventure rides, and specifically for the U.S. market targeting the hottest category in cycling – gravel bikes – within the industry’s biggest growth segment – electric bicycles (e-Bikes).

Yamaha is showing a prototype of the Wabash at its Interbike Expo.

The Wabash is the best new gravel e-Bike designed and developed for cycling adventures over whatever terrain you come across – hard surfaces, dirt, and gravel,” said Drew Engelmann, Yamaha’s Power Assist Bicycle group sales and marketing manager. “You’ll be able to take this Wabash adventure gravel bike just about anywhere, and we expect riders will really appreciate the versatility and performance that make this a popular and rapidly expanding segment.

Yamaha’s existing lineup of road bikes currently available at independent bicycle retailers and specialty e-Bike shops across the U.S. includes the UrbanRush (MSRP $3,299), a drop-bar do everything road bike, the CrossConnect( MSRP $2,999), a completely accessorized commuter/utility bike, and the CrossCore (MSRP $2,399), a high style efficient fitness bike. Yamaha’s performance hardtail e-mountain bike, the YDX-TORC (MSRP $3,499), is also now available.

Yamaha launched the world’s first electrically power assisted bicycle 25 years ago, and has been a global leader in e-Bikes ever since,” said Rob Trester, who leads Yamaha’s New Business Development Division and e-Bike unit. “This is an exciting time for Yamaha Bicycles with our first-ever all-new production models hitting retail this summer, and now with the new Wabash on deck. We’re getting great feedback from Yamaha e-Bike owners who appreciate having the confidence that Yamaha reliability, durability and performance are built into everything we make.

By visiting Yamaha’s dealer locator, customers can find their nearest Power Assist Bicycle dealer by their postal code. Yamaha is developing an extensive network of bicycle dealers, with select retailers offering online orders and delivery, ensuring full dealer support across the nation.

Yamaha is the only manufacturer with 25-years of experience designing complete e-Bikes from frame to motor. Yamaha Motor Company, Ltd. (YMC) launched the world’s first electrically power assisted bicycle in 1993 and has since produced more than 4 million drive units and sold more than 2 million Yamaha power assist bicycles. YMC supplies class-leading e-Bike Systems to select OEM partners worldwide.

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Rally shows support for protected bikeways and a permanent Better Naito

Bike Portland - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 11:48

Bike Loud PDX Co-chair Catie Gould addressed the crowd.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Amid bustling, after-work traffic on Naito Parkway last night, dozens of Portlanders came together to send a message: The protected lanes known as Better Naito should stay.

The lanes are slated to be removed this weekend and aren’t scheduled to return until the start of festival season next spring.

That means people like Chris Mommsen and his young daughter Ginny won’t have a safe route to go north-south through this part of downtown. Mommsen works on SW 2nd and uses Better Naito to get between Ginny’s daycare and errands in the Pearl District. What will he do when it comes out? “There aren’t a lot of good options,” he told me. “I think they should leave it in. We need more space oriented to bikes.”

Serenity Ebert rides a trike that she uses as a mobility device. For her, having a safe and direct route through downtown is crucial. “I’d love to see Better Naito stay all year round because I don’t feel safe riding on Naito without the lane,” she shared with me. Asked what she’d do when it’s taken out, she had trouble describing a good option.

“For us it’s not just about Better Naito, it’s about all the access improvements being proposed as part of Central City in Motion.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

Even though a last-minute change in policy is a long-shot (more on that later), advocates for the lanes were upbeat and optimistic. The event was organized by The Street Trust. Their Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said she didn’t want the Better Naito season to end without a public action. Speaking into a megaphone from atop a park bench at Salmon Springs Fountain, Detweiler told the crowd that, “We want to tell the City of Portland that we need safe and convenient bike facilities downtown and in the central city all year long. For us it’s not just about Better Naito, it’s about all the access improvements being proposed as part of Central City in Motion.”

Central City in Motion is the Bureau of Transportation’s effort to prioritize a list of projects that will redesign streets so they work better for biking, walking, and transit. Better Naito is on the current list of potential projects and will likely be a frontrunner for early implementation.

While planning last night’s event, Detweiler reached out to the leaders of Bike Loud PDX to make sure it was a collaborative action. Bike Loud was formed just a few years ago to be a more grassroots and aggressive (louder) voice for cycling access in Portland (a role The Street Trust used to occupy), so it’s noteworthy to see the groups working together. (Detweiler shared via email this morning that, “We have not discussed a relationship going forward, but I think this was a good model.”)

Catie Gould (L) and Jillian Detweiler (R) led the ride. Is it a sign of increased collaboration between The Street Trust and Bike Loud in the future?

Bike Loud Co-chair Catie Gould also spoke at the event. She was part of 100 people who formed a human-protected bike lane to protest Better Naito’s removal last year and she expressed some frustration that it was being removed once again. “A few things are different from last year that should give you optimism,” she said. “We have a new transportation commissioner in Chloe Eudaly and we’re hoping PBOT will get strong political leadership.”

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Attendees filled out postcards addressed to City Hall.

Gould also mentioned the Central City in Motion projects (which weren’t on the table last year). “At a time we’re poised to invest tens of millions of dollars into making protected, separated bike infrastructure downtown,” she said, “it makes it even harder to justify why we’re spending money to take out such an obvious and simple solution.” Gould also made the point that we don’t lack the technical skills to create protected lanes on Naito, what we lack is the political will.

The good news is there are signs that Portland’s political will around these type of projects is growing. The bad news is, there doesn’t appear to be enough of it to save Better Naito this year.

Marshall Runkel is chief of staff for PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.

That was the sentiment shared by Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s Chief of Staff Marshall Runkel, who stopped by the rally on his bike ride home. New to the PBOT commissioner role, Runkel is still learning about the issues and he spent much of his time at last night’s event talking with Bike Loud Co-chair Emily Guise. During my conversation with him, Runkel seemed very supportive of the project, but he was candid about its chances of staying in through the winter.

“We just don’t have the resources or time to do a last-minute save this year,” Runkel said. He was referring to political capital, not funding resources. Right now Eudaly is in a pitched battle over tenants rights and Runkel said the time and effort it would take to handle another potential controversial issue like reversing course on Better Naito, just isn’t feasible right now.

But Runkel said it’s definitely possible in 2019. “We’ll plan to dig-in… It’s possible [it could stay in for good] next year.”

For advocates like Gould, the marching orders are clear: build political support over the winter. “We have a transformational change coming to our transportation system. This is great time to have a conversation about what we want,” she told the crowd, “But it doesn’t happen without strong advocates.”

After the rally, we rode up and down Naito as a group and made our way to the second (of two) Central City in Motion open houses held at OMSI. At this point, PBOT is looking for final bits of feedback about which of the 18 proposed projects have the most potential to be “transformative”. In an exercise where open house attendees used dots to show votes, the Naito project (#17) ranked highest.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Confidential mediation is no way to govern public decisions like 35th Ave NE bike lanes – UPDATED

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 12:44

The plan for 35th Ave NE. Or is it? We can’t tell you because secret, ongoing meetings are confidential.

SDOT and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office (UPDATE 9/20: and Councilmember Rob Johnson’s Office) has convened a confidential mediation session between a handful of people who support and oppose bike lanes at part of the city’s under-construction 35th Ave NE repaving project.

Seattle Bike Blog has been working for a while to learn details about these mediation sessions — which are paid for by public funds and could influence public investments on a public street — but has been unable to receive times and locations for the meetings so I can report about them for you.

UPDATE 9/19: Since publication, Twitter user @bruteforceblog noted that the city’s chosen moderator John A Howell of Cedar River Group donated not only to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s campaign ($200) (UPDATE 9/20: and $100 to Councilmember Johnson’s 2015 campaign) but also to the failed 2009 City Council campaign of Jordan Royer, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. Royer is an organizer of the bike lane opposition, a committee officer of the group’s new political action committee and a party to the mediation. Royer, seen here embracing Mayor Durkan during a campaign event, also donated $500 to Durkan’s campaign. In 2009, Howell donated to Royer’s campaign on two occasions totaling $250. Another Cedar River Group employee, Tom Byers, donated another $400 to Royer bringing the firm’s reported total to $650.

Howell previously worked for Jordan’s father Charles Royer when he was Mayor of Seattle in the 1980s. So his history with the Royer family goes way back.

I have an email out to both the Mayor’s Office and Howell asking how he was chosen for this role, whether this connection to a member of the opposition was disclosed and whether they see this as a conflict of interest. I will update this when/if I hear back. UPDATE: Howell emailed to say he did disclose his ties to Royer and does not think it is a conflict of interest:

I worked for Jordan Royer’s father in the 1970’s and 80’s.  As a result, I have known Jordan for 40 years.  I disclosed this to city officials.  I have friends and colleagues on both sides of the debate about 35th Ave.  I personally have not sided with either perspective, and will not do so.  To answer your question about a 9 year old contribution to a city council race, I do not see that as a conflict.

UDPATE 9/20: Councilmember Johnson called to defend the talks, saying he reached out to Howell because he thought his relationship with Royer would be helpful.

“[Howell] is one of if not the most accomplished mediator and facilitator I’ve ever worked with,” Johnson said. “Between the unlit fireworks and gas cans, the death threats, the threat of real protest in front of people’s houses, and the real impact it is having on neighborly relations in the neighborhood, I had hoped that hiring John would allow people to come together and really take the temperature down.

“This isn’t a conspiracy by the Mayor’s Office.”

Erica Barnett at the C Is For Crank reported Tuesday that the mediation is costing taxpayers $14,000, and Seattle Bike Blog has learned that this money is coming from SDOT (UPDATE: An SDOT spokesperson confirmed that the funds are coming from the Bicycle Program). Barnett also reports that the completion of the project, which is already under construction, may be delayed because “SDOT is having an ongoing dialogue with the communities impacted by these projects,” according to a presentation to the City Council Transportation Committee (PDF).

There is no doubt that the opposition to 35th Ave NE bike lanes has been very organized. Several people behind the Save 35th Ave NE group have even formed a political action committee called Neighborhoods For Smart Streets PAC. Because saying people are not smart if they don’t agree car parking is more important than safety, that’s a great way to engage with your neighbors.

But regardless of the outcome, confidential mediation is an inappropriate way to make decisions about public investments, especially when we already have official policies and plans to guide such decisions. How are the participants for the mediation chosen? How do we know every Seattle resident is appropriately represented in these talks? Several of the anti-bike lane organizers happen to be lawyers. Do all parties have equal access to lawyers?

35th Ave NE passes though a very wealthy and white neighborhood compared to the rest of the city, but the investment to spend millions to repave that street is being made by all of us no matter where we live. Every street is of citywide importance. That’s why we make plans like the Bicycle Master Plan or policies like the Complete Streets Ordinance and the elected City Council passes them in the full light of day.

Maybe there is a place for confidential mediation in conducting city business, though my preference for open government makes me skeptical. But a project like 35th Ave NE that follows officially and publicly approved plans is not one of them. Just because a group gets organized or has the money to start a PAC doesn’t mean they should be able to get a separate mediation process from the city. What precedent does this set? Does every neighborhood group now get to demand confidential mediation for every city project they don’t like? Or just the wealthy ones?

If the goal of the mediation is to significantly change the design of a public investment project that has already gone through public meetings and a public contracting process, that is worrying. But if the goal is to see if bike lane supporters and opponents can come together and sing Kumbaya, that’s maybe less worrying but still a questionable use of SDOT funding. But I would definitely be there to cover their first concert together as newfound besties.

Part of the mediation rules requires both parties to refrain from making statements to their respective members or to the press. This is troubling to me as a believer in open meetings and public access, though Seattle Bike Blog doesn’t have a legal team or budget to look into the legality of such a restriction. But even if it is perfectly legal to do this, it feels wrong.

The official, public page for the project makes no mention of the mediation. Below is all the information I was able to get from SDOT and the Mayor’s Office. When I asked follow-up questions, the response was, “I’m sorry, but the department can’t comment on the mediation process beyond what was shared yesterday.”

In partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Councilmember Johnson, and SDOT, John Howell (from the consulting firm Cedar River Group) is mediating conversations regarding the 35th Ave NE Project with neighborhood and community members, including bike advocates, attempting to find common ground and project improvements to address the needs of the community.

While this effort is underway, contractor crews continue to repair street panels, replace curb ramps, repair sidewalks, and pave the road in the project corridor. The temporary striping that is on the road now will remain in place. We’ll provide an update on final striping to the community when we have more details on timing. You can sign up to receive our weekly email updates via our web page if you are interested.

City says e-bike use on park paths is a violation, but it’s not enforced

Bike Portland - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 11:19

Portland City Code prohibits e-bike use on paths like the Springwater.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Last summer we stumbled upon an inconvenient truth about electric bike use in Oregon State Parks. It turned out that despite their popularity, it was illegal to operate e-bikes on State Park paths and trails.

Thankfully, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) acknowledged the outdated rules and the State Parks Commission recently approved new ones that explicitly permit e-bike use on their facilities.

Now it appears the City of Portland might have the same problem.

“If the City is serious about accomplishing its goals, it needs to act soon to allow at least some level of e-bike and e-scooter access to these areas by non-disabled Portlanders.”
— Chris Thomas, lawyer

The city code that governs the use of vehicles on paths and trails managed by Portland Parks & Recreation, 20.12.170, prohibits the use of e-bikes. That means it’s technically illegal to ride one on the Springwater, Eastbank Esplanade, the Peninsula Crossing Trail, in Waterfront Park, Gateway Green, and so on. The only exception to the rule is the use of “electric mobility devices” that are used by, “persons who need assistance to be mobile.” In other words, people with disabilities.

That was news to me. And given how many people I see using e-bikes on those paths, this seems like a problem.

This issue was put on our radar screen thanks to an article written by Portland lawyer Chris Thomas earlier this month. Thomas is the son of well-known bike advocate and lawyer Ray Thomas and works at the law firm of Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost — the same firm that recently published a free legal guide for e-bike riders. (Disclaimer: They are also a BikePortland supporter.)

Thomas’ article asserts that current city code makes it illegal to use an e-bike in Portland parks and he urges the City of Portland to remedy the situation by updating the code. Here’s the salient excerpt (emphasis mine):

“…the provision that really caught my eye from the above code provision relates to e-bikes. 20.12.170(D) subsection (1) exempts e-bikes from the general prohibition on ‘motorized vehicle or motorized wheeled vehicle or motorized wheeled device’, but only when ‘used by persons who need assistance to be mobile.’

Therefore, non-disabled e-bike riders are granted no exception to the e-bike prohibition, and are prohibited on all Park paths throughout the City. According to the Portland Parks directory, Parks include not only the Springwater, Esplanade, and Waterfront Park, but also the Peninsula Crossing Trail, Gateway Green, Forest Park and Powell Butte. Indeed, Portland law excludes non-disabled e-bike riding on some of the City’s most convenient, safe, and scenic bicycle corridors.”

Before printing the article here, I wanted to give PP&R a chance to confirm or clarify Thomas’ reading of the law. I know bicycle law in general can be very murky because of its hybrid legal status — sometimes bikes are treated as human-powered vehicles with laws different from cars, and in some statutes they’re treated the same. Add an electric motor and you need a law degree to speak with any certainty.

And that’s just what PP&R did. They asked the Portland City Attorney for help before responding to my request.

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The relevant section of code.

It turns out Thomas is right. Here’s the final word from PP&R Public Information Officer Mark Ross:

“Yes, City Code (PCC 20.12.170.D) does prohibit e-bikes from operating on park property, unless being used as an electric mobility device. That includes trails like the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater and other properties managed by PP&R. This has been the case for years.

Having said that, our priority is always public safety. Our Park Rangers focus on educating people about safe operation of all equipment in shared use trails, and we not yet had any significant issues with e-bikes.”

What Ross is saying here is that, while the code prohibits the vast majority of e-bike use in Portland Parks, they aren’t actively enforcing it. This is because no one has complained about it yet and because they don’t have many staff rangers devoted to it.

“The Scooter Pilot and your question have had us looking closely at the code and the way people use (and would like to use) our public parks, while maintaining our focus on safety.”
— Mark Ross, Portland Parks & Recreation

I asked Ross if they’ll take a page out of OPRD’s book and update city code to explicitly make e-bike use by non-disabled people legal.

“The Scooter Pilot and your question have had us looking closely at the code and the way people use (and would like to use) our public parks, while maintaining our focus on safety,” Ross shared with us in his reply. “We are having internal discussions about e-bikes on PP&R-managed property. We cannot say with certainty that PP&R would be looking to allow further e-bike use in city parks (beyond the current criteria of only if used as a needed mobility device). The Bureau may have such discussions (or similar ones around amending city code in other ways in response to the presence of scooters/e-bikes) internally or with other bureaus such as PBOT, and even then, I don’t know the priority this would have over other Parks projects. With no firm plans nor timeframe for doing so, we do not wish to set expectations which could or would not be realized.”

In other words, for now you’re technically in violation of city code by riding your e-bike on Parks-managed paths and trails.

Thomas thinks that’s unacceptable — from both a legal and transportation policy standpoint.

Even if it’s not enforced, Thomas says if there’s a collision, the e-bike (or e-scooter) user could face an argument in court that they were a trespasser and shouldn’t have been in the park in the first place.

And anything that discourages the use of e-bikes on such important transportation corridors just isn’t in line with Portland’s ethos, Thomas argues.

“The prohibition of non-disabled e-bike use, as well as all e-scooter use, from many of our City’s prized bicycle and pedestrian facilities seems inconsistent with the City’s stated goals of fighting climate change, promoting non-car transportation, and improving safety for vulnerable road users,” he wrote in his article. “If the City is serious about accomplishing its goals, it needs to act soon to allow at least some level of e-bike and e-scooter access to these areas by non-disabled Portlanders.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Better Naito is Portland’s future. It’s time to embrace it

Bike Portland - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 09:21

*Video montage of Better Naito in action this summer courtesy of Streetfilms.

Today is an opportunity to demand better biking in Portland.

The Street Trust and Bike Loud PDX have teamed up to host a ride and rally for Better Naito. The event will start at Salmon Street Fountain at 5:00 pm today (Tuesday, 9/18). People will meet, mingle and make signs showing their support for this vital project and then they’ll ride as a group up and down Naito Parkway. The ride will end at the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan open house which runs from 4:00 to 7:00 pm at OMSI.

Despite four years of successful implementation, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to take down the protected lanes on Naito this weekend. Many concerned Portlanders want the lanes to stay. So far, the city hasn’t presented a reason for removal other than a promise that Better Naito would only be a “seasonal” facility.

Safety isn’t seasonal.

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(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Even though one of the main justifications for Better Naito is to protect the crowds who attend summer festivals in Waterfront Park, its benefits extend far beyond. It’s a key north-south corridor that connects to some of the busiest destinations in our bike network (the Steel and Hawthorne Bridges, the Stark and Oak couplet, and so on). Better Naito also relieves pressure from the multi-use path in Waterfront Park — a path that the Portland Parks Bureau has urged bike commuters to stay off of due to safety concerns.

The park path is too crowded and not intended for purposeful, A-to-B travel. And despite its shortcomings (a reflection of poor engineering and meager budget, not of its necessity) Better Naito is a big improvement. Take it away and Naito becomes a high-speed arterial were the least efficient, most dangerous, and most toxic vehicles on our roads dominate our waterfront.

That is madness.

Better Naito should stay in place until a new, improved, and permanent reconfiguration can be installed.

The project is a tangible incarnation of the future of Portland. We need to embrace it once and for all.

Lest you think this is just the naive vision of a bike activist; let’s recall that there’s $9 million sitting on PBOT’s desk that they’re eager to spend on protected lane projects like Better Naito throughout the central city.

On the same day Portlanders will rally in support of protected lanes, PBOT will host an open house for the Central City in Motion plan. That plan (which PBOT thinks they can drum up $30 million for once adopted by City Council next month) will prioritize a list of road redesigns that will significantly increase space for cycling, scooting, walking, and using transit. Once this network is complete, getting around Portland will be easier, safer, more efficient, and more equitable.

If you can spare the time, please consider showing up to Salmon Springs Fountain today around 5:00 pm to demonstrate your support for Better Naito and the future of biking in Portland.

See you there!

If you want to share feedback about Better Naito, email NaitoParkway@portlandoregon.gov. Also make sure you’ve weighed in on the 18 Central City in Motion projects under consideration at CentralCityinMotion.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Family Biking: Can’t ride? What’s your backup plan?

Bike Portland - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 08:05

Used the school bus for the first time yesterday!
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

What’s your backup plan when you can’t bike somewhere with your kids?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I jinxed myself by deciding on this topic last week and woke up sick Monday morning. I biked with my 4th grader one mile to Woodstock Elementary School for his 8:15 a.m. bell, but didn’t feel up to biking four miles to escort my 6th grader to his middle school’s (Hosford) 9:15 a.m. start time.

Enter, the school bus!

The middle school bus is very convenient — it picks up two blocks away from our house and we didn’t even need to sign up for it, just show up when you want to take it. This first time I walked with him and got the lay of the land from two of his last-year classmates who ride regularly (pro tip: try to sit by the front because the 8th graders sit in the back and play bad music and scream about boys when the bus goes by the high school, and the trip home is much worse than the trip in).

I got my work shift covered and slept all day, energetic enough to fetch my 4th grader at 2:30 p.m. and learn that he wants to start biking home alone this week — yay! Less to worry about for future sick days. Then I towed my 6th grader’s bike to middle school (cargo bikes are very handy, even when kids are mostly pedaling on their own) to meet him at 3:45 p.m.

He said the bus wasn’t too bad, but he doesn’t want to take it again…maybe to avoid hail, but not to avoid rain. I figure if there’s ever snow on the ground that feels too difficult to bike through, school will be canceled. So it’s not an all-encompassing backup plan, but it worked for Monday and should work in the future.

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So what’s your backup plan?

Driving is one pretty obvious answer, and I’d love to hear how you cars work for your family. What any other systems you’ve got in place? E-scooters? Biketown? Last year my neighbor offered to drive the kids to school if it ever rained (he didn’t know us very well back then), so carpooling is another option. Or public transportation. If I didn’t have a cargo bike, I could have pedaled my middle schooler’s bike to him and then rented myself an e-scooter to zoom home beside him.

Please share your backup plans in the comments! I’ll share some in a future post if there’s enough interest.

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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After further study, SDOT finds that Eastlake Ave still needs bike lanes

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 15:08

I thought we had already established this a few years ago during public outreach for Roosevelt RapidRide, but SDOT has tried again to find an alternative to building bike lanes on Eastlake Ave. And, just like before, the results are clear that Eastlake is the only good option.

The project team presented the latest study to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board earlier this month, and they found that the previously planned protected bike lanes on Eastlake are the best option for the project by essentially every measure other than car parking. They conducted a serious study of nine options, then narrowed that down to four, then found what anyone who bikes in the area could have told them: Eastlake is the only continuous option without very steep climbs that serves Eastlake businesses and connects the U Bridge to downtown.

And let’s not forget that the final phase of SR 520 work should include a bike connection from Eastlake to the 520 Trail, making Eastlake Ave even more important.

The study explored a new concept for the route that is, frankly, quite baffling. The city would build a protected bike lane northbound on Eastlake Ave, but would route people headed southbound down a steep 11 percent grade hill on E Roanoke Street to Yale Ave E, which curves to meet back up with Eastlake south of the neighborhood’s main business district (the city’s study did not seem to factor downhill grade in its analysis even though a steep downhill can also be a barrier to biking, especially if you have to make a turn mid-hill like this plan would require). One version would turn Yale into a one-way neighborhood greenway, which is not really a thing. Another version would include a protected bike lane on Yale, which would remove even more car parking than the Eastlake bike lanes.

The idea of splitting the bike route in this way is inherently flawed and would result in people biking southbound on Eastlake Ave without a bike lane. Not only is it confusing to essentially detour one direction of the bike route, but people headed southbound would have no safe way to access the neighborhood’s business district.

And since Eastlake Ave is where 39 of 40 reported bike-involved collisions occurred between 2012 and 2017, addressing bike safety on Eastlake Ave should be paramount.

You can see the options explored below to decide for yourself (excerpts are from this presentation PDF):

Floyd Landis to open three ‘cycling-themed’ cannabis stores in Portland

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 13:52

Floyd Landis in Portland for the launch of his hemp oil pills in July 2017.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Remember Floyd Landis? He’s the former professional road cyclist and Tour de France competitor who’s made a return to the public spotlight as the founder of a line of cannabis products.

Landis and his partner (and former teammate) David Zabriskie launched their Floyd’s of Leadville hemp oil pills in Portland last summer. Now they’re back in town with plans to open three retail stores that promise to be, “Portland’s first cycling-themed retail cannabis location.”

As the Willamette Week reported in June, Landis is re-branding three existing cannabis stores and transitioning them into the new “active-lifestyle” stores to be named Floyd’s Fine Cannabis.

Here’s more from a press statement:

“Floyd Landis is a former Tour de France winner and professional cyclist well-known for his work with the US Postal Service Cycling Team in the early 2000s. He was later sidelined by a number of difficulties including hip surgery at age 31. His subsequent discovery of cannabis for pain management led to him founding his non-psychoactive CBD products company Floyd’s of Leadville. He now is branching out into cannabis retail with Floyd’s Fine Cannabis… Floyd’s Fine Cannabis is about the integration of cannabis products into active lifestyles.”

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(Photo: Floyd’s of Leadville)

Also to come is a co-branded sock collaboration with Portland-based cycling and running lifestyle and apparel store The Athletic. We profiled The Athletic back in 2015 on the occasion of their first anniversary. In addition to selling the socks and other “active outdoor products that compliment [sic] cannabis,” the new Floyd’s Fine Cannabis stores will host regular bike rides and other events.

Grown Rogue Cycling Team.
(Photo: Grown Rogue Cycling Team/FB)

Lest you think this is Portland’s first direct commercial connection between cannabis and cycling, keep in mind that the Grown Rogue Cycling Team (links to Facebook) boasts 25 full time racers and has been competing in Oregon Bicycle Racing Association events all year. Grown Rogue is a “seed to sale” cannabis company based in Medford Oregon whose CEO and President Obie Strickler said in a 2017 press statement, “We believe our ethos and mantra at Grown Rogue fit well with the sport of cycling. Freedom, beauty, independence, healthy competition–the bicycle represents all these things.”

The grand opening party for Floyd’s Fine Cannabis will be held on September 30th at the NE Broadway location (801 NE Broadway).

For more on this topic, read Anne-Marije Rook’s article on CyclingTips.com, “Does cannabis belong in bike racing?”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Comment of the Week: Transit operator reminds us that scooter riders are not the problem

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:41

A man rides a scooter on NE 122nd near I-84.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Brendon Constans read our story about the free helmet giveaway and safety education event held in downtown Portland last week and felt his perspective as a transit vehicle operator would help the discussion.

Here’s what Brendon had to say (via Facebook):

“I have been a public transit operator for 7 years (TriMet bus operator, MAX operator, now Streetcar operator) and see the behavior of all road users on a regular basis throughout my shifts.

Here’s what I know from my experience:

Portland rarely, if ever, enforces the rules against car drivers either.

I see gross negligence by motorists all day, everyday.

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Yesterday, I had at least five cars make illegal right turns in front of the streetcar from the left lane. I saw a box truck run a solidly red light, without even slowing down, and almost mow down a pedestrian in a crosswalk that had their walk signal. I saw 8 cars over four separate instances waiting at red left turn arrows decide they didn’t want to wait anymore, and just went through their red lights; If someone had been in the crosswalk where they were turning, they could have hit and potentially killed them. I saw countless cars driving well above the 20 MPH Central City speed limit. At almost every single signalized intersection, I saw cars gunning it to make it through the yellow light or going through after it had already turned red. I saw DOZENS of cars turn right on red lights that were clearly marked ‘NO TURN ON RED’. I saw countless cars turning and changing lanes and cutting me off without using their turning signals. I saw almost every car that came to a stop sign roll right through it or barely stop, often ignoring another car who’s turn it was to go or a pedestrian that had already entered the crosswalk.

And that’s just a small sampling from ONE Portland Streetcar operator over ONE 10 hour shift.

Then there was the Uber that ran a red light night before last forcing a MAX train to slam on it’s breaks and crash into them, which could have killed the Uber passengers heading to the airport (luckily they survived). And the commercial truck that made a sudden left turn from the middle lane without signalling directly in the path of a Streetcar, causing it to derail and significantly damaging it.

So until police and/or more cameras start actually enforcing the laws on the multi-ton machines that regularly break the laws and kill 40,000 people a year, people need to calm the frack down about the occasional annoying scooter rider. They are not the problem. Our car culture and lack of safe/protected space to walk/ride/scoot is the problem.”

Thanks for sharing that with us Brendon.

If you see a great comment on our stories (whether it’s on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or elsewhere) please let us know about it.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Planning Commission finds ‘missing middle,’ votes for more housing citywide

Bike Portland - Mon, 09/17/2018 - 12:04

A 1905 duplex on SE 33rd Avenue in Portland. Like many other cities, Portland made these illegal on most lots in the mid 20th century. Photo by Portland for Everyone.

“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of? It’s buildings, people or cars.”
— Chris Smith, Planning Commissioner

An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by BikePortland’s former news editor, Michael Andersen, who started covering the need for “missing middle” housing — especially in Portland’s most bikeable neighborhoods — for us in 2015. We last covered this issue in May, just before the crucial public hearings described here.

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The most provocative housing policy event of this week in the Pacific Northwest started happening four months ago.

That’s because, in May, Portlanders did something almost unheard of in the world of housing policy. They showed up to say that in order to better-integrate neighborhoods and prevent future housing shortages, the city should allow more housing.

The place: Two public hearings of the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission to discuss the residential infill project, a proposal to re-legalize duplexes and triplexes in much of Oregon’s largest city, reversing a 1959 ban.

The hearings were packed with people on both sides of the issue. But in the end (and here’s what was truly unusual) the people calling for the city to re-legalize more homes in more varieties slightly outnumbered the ones who showed up to defend the status quo—55 percent to 45 percent.

And last week, after months of deliberation, Portland’s planning commission gave other cities of the Northwest and beyond a peek at what can happen when housing advocates outnumber housing opponents: It recommended more housing.

This debate is the same one happening right now in small areas of Seattle and citywide in Vancouver, B.C. And in Portland, Team Housing just notched a clear win—cuing up the concept for a possible victory at the city council in the spring.

In that sense, the Portlanders who showed up for housing in May are part of something much bigger than an advisory vote in their city about re-legalizing triplexes. They’re part of a much larger movement, led in large part by Cascadia, to revive a more traditional pattern of housing than the one cities began experimenting with after World War II.

The vision is simple: gradually creating neighborhoods where more expensive detached homes and more affordable small plexes are all mixed together.

‘The biggest carbon impact of new construction is how big it is’

A modern triplex in Portland’s Vernon neighborhood, developed as affordable housing in 2016 by the nonprofit PCRI. Each home here is 1,465 square feet, 10 percent bigger than the maximum allowed for a below-market home under the planning commission’s proposal and 26 percent bigger than the maximum market-rate triplex. (Photo courtesy PCRI)

To prevent “looming” buildings, heights would be capped at 30 feet above the lowest point on a property, down from the highest point on the property under today’s rules.

“Seventy, 80 percent of the carbon impact of a house is heating and cooling the space.”
— Eli Spevak, Planning Commissioner

As housing advocates (including the city’s own housing bureau) suggested, the planning commission also said duplexes and triplexes should be legal (and subject to the new size caps) almost anywhere in the city.

“Density is an important goal, and I think that’s a direction the city needs to move in,” Andrés Oswill, the planning commission’s youngest member, said Tuesday. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

Oswill said his decision to support the cap on building size had been informed, in part, by his own home search over the last few months.

Image: Michael Andersen. Sources: Census Bureau, BLS, HUD via 24/7 Wall Street.

“I really struggled and tried to understand 2,500 square feet … being too small,” he said. “It wasn’t something I was able to come to terms with.”

Eli Spevak, another commissioner, agreed.

“For all the talk about We can’t fit into this 2,500 square foot house, I kind of think, well, we did for most of human history, in houses half that size,” Spevak said. “I also think about the carbon issues. Oregon has studied this more than any state. The biggest carbon impact of new construction, over the lifespan of a house, is how big it is. Seventy, 80 percent of the carbon impact of a house is heating and cooling the space. … Attached housing is great for that also, and this code supports both those things: attached housing and small homes.”

Spevak is right: North American home sizes have risen sharply since the 1950s.

In fact, that’s almost economically inevitable. As long as the only profitable way to redevelop a one-home property is to replace it with another detached home, then each successive home on a lot will be bigger than the last.

Unresolved issues: Fourplexes and displacement-risk areas

Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission. (Photo: M. Andersen).

The planning commission’s straw vote Tuesday follows three years of formal debate so far over the proposed zoning reform and precedes a formal (but nonbinding) recommendation to Portland’s city council. The city council’s binding vote is scheduled for the spring.

“Even if this were just a little bit better than the status quo, that wouldn’t mean that we should wait more years rather than make these changes now and then continue to improve upon them.”
— Madeline Kovacs, Portland for Everyone

Some issues still need resolution. The planning commissioners who were present Tuesday split evenly over the question of whether to allow up to four homes on a lot.

“As we’re asking the single-family neighborhoods to transition, it’s a big change,” said one commissioner, Michelle Rudd.

Another, Chris Smith, disagreed.

“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of?” he said. “It’s buildings, people or cars. … If it’s buildings, we’ve done a lot to limit the size of buildings. … We did not allow any FAR bonus for the fourth unit. so if a building becomes a fourplex, it will not be much larger than a threeplex. … If it’s about cars, I will point out that we’ve done very little in this package to limit parking. In general, we’re still allowing people to build parking.”

So any concern about fourplexes must actually be about the number or type of people living in currently exclusive areas, Smith concluded. And “I’m for letting as many people live in these neighborhoods as we can,” he said.

Another area of debate: what effect the size or unit-count incentive might have on the rate of redeveloping lots that are currently home to low-income people, and if so how to mitigate that. Oswill said he regretted the “missed opportunity of having funding streams be created out of this that could lead to equitable units or programming.”

The city’s initial plan had proposed extending the duplex-triplex ban in areas with the highest risk of displacement. But affordable-housing advocates unanimously told the planning commission that they disagreed with that approach, because it would fail to create new housing while leaving those areas just as vulnerable to one-for-one redevelopment.

“The anti-displacement folks told us the right way to limit displacement is not to limit development opportunity but to deliver anti-displacement programs where they’re needed,” Smith said. “The question I still worry about is, well, what happens if council doesn’t fund any of those programmatic solutions?”

Madeline Kovacs, coodinator of the pro-housing Portland for Everyone coalition, said Thursday that she had the same concern, but that extending the duplex-triplex ban would only lead to more one-for-one displacement while the city waits for political consensus around more funding.

“We know what’s happening in Portland’s neighborhoods right now,” Kovacs said. “Even if this were just a little bit better than the status quo, that wouldn’t mean that we should wait more years rather than make these changes now and then continue to improve upon them.”

In the end, that’s the only way any major rethink of Cascadian housing policy will happen: bit by bit. But if anything is going to change at all, it’s going to depend on people choosing to show up and tell one another what they want—one public meeting at a time.

— Michael Andersen is a senior fellow at Sightline Institute

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