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Southeast neighborhood coalition comes out against 26th Avenue bike lane removal

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 15:37

A protest rally on 26th and Powell in February.
(Photo: J. Maus)

Southeast Uplift, an official City of Portland neighborhood coalition group that represents 20 neighborhoods, has thrown their weight behind opposition to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation’s negotiated settlement to remove bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue approaching Powell Blvd.

As we’ve been reporting for nearly three years now, the nearly unprecedented removal of bike lanes on a city street is the result of a squabble between PBOT and ODOT. As final word came down from ODOT in February that they planned to cash in an agreement wrung out of PBOT over the lanes, there’s been a ratcheting up of activism to keep them.

Southeast Uplift joins a loud chorus speaking up against ODOT’s inexplicable demands for the removal of these bike lanes. Activists rallied during a snowstorm in February where the director of The Street Trust, Jillian Detweiler, said removing the lanes is “completely unnecessary.”

In their letter to PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman and PBOT Director Leah Treat, SE Uplift Co-chairs Terry Dublinski-Milton and Reuben Deumling say their board is, “Very concerned about the safety ramifications,” of removing the lanes.

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ODOT says they feel the lanes should be removed because they’re too dangerous and that a new bikeway on 28th is safer. SE Uplift says using 28th is, “Not viable for commuters heading to the employment zones of the central eastside or points downtown.”

Here’re more from the letter:

“Commuters will take the path of least resistance and SE 26th has functioned as a commuter route for over a generation. It is fast, flat and direct. Thus, the new successful new crossing of Southeast Powell at SE 28th will not provide enough benefits to change behavior of cyclists accustomed to the SE 26th route. Without an alternative in place prior to removal of the SE 26th bike lanes, commuters will continue to use SE 26th, making a dangerous situation worse.”

SE Uplift wants PBOT to pause on plans to remove the bike lanes. And if the City chooses to ultimately move forward, SE Uplift says they should do so only after making 21st Avenue safer so it can be used as a viable alternative.

Read the letter here.

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

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A “Bike Fun Library” is in the works, just in time for Pedalpalooza

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 14:17

One Hwang at the 2017 Tiki Ride.
(Photo: Eric Thornburg)

This story was written by Portland bike fun enthusiast and Shift volunteer, One Hwang.

Pedalpalooza 2018 is right around the corner and the bike fun community fire is burning hot. This year we want even more people to organize and attend Pedalpalooza rides, so we’re going to try something new: A Bike Fun Library with everything you need to lead a successful ride!

Members of the public could more easily organize their own Pedalpalooza ride if they had access to a bike ride equipment library, where they could borrow for free a flat bed trailer, sound system, disco ball, batteries, and radio transmitter. Furthermore, if they receive training on how to welcome women and other underrepresented groups, they could help create a more inclusive bike community and address factors that discourage these groups from participation.

We will soon create the Bike Fun Library. And we need your help to make it happen.

2018 Pedalpalooza poster by Rhienna Guedry/Rhienna.com)

Kiel Johnson will host it at the Go By Bike valet in South Waterfront and he’s even offered to provide logistical support. We’ll train library users to reduce gender and race-based bias and other forms of inequality through orientation workshops. A group of women leaders in the social bike community will plan a series of workshops. You can help by donating equipment or money to our GoFundMe campaign to buy the equipment. Also, join the user group email list to stay informed of our activities.

The average Pedalpalooza ride leader needs a mobile sound system and paraphernalia once a year. They can be expensive, and people do not need to own them. They just need to borrow in the same way people borrow books from libraries.

At the same time, something about our culture seems to prevent women from joining the bike community. Minorities also lack representation, as described in this BikePortland article by Taz Loomans. We know that most people are well-intentioned, and if they knew what they could do to help reverse this trend, they would help to change the culture.

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Maria Schur.
(Photo: J. Maus)

Maria Schur, who will be co-leading the orientation workshops, says,

“I’m lucky enough to have a bold personality and a willingness to ‘barge’ in on any ride. Also, just by courtesy of being an experienced rider, I find it easy to fit in on most rides with most bike groups. However, I have witnessed women generally being treated as beginners on rides, even when that’s not the case. I’ve also seen and experienced harassment of women, often based on physical appearance. Much like bikes are often marginalized by car culture, women cyclists are often marginalized by men cyclists. There are many ways to fight this, and one way is through sharing our experiences and learning together how to show the men how they can help us feel welcome and equal on rides. I hope the library orientation workshops will accomplish just that, and am honored to participate.”

The library would be accessible to and benefit all members of the public. We will ask for a small, refundable deposit before lending out equipment to ensure that it’s returned in good condition.

Scott Batchelar, who led the most number of Pedalpalooza rides last year, says, “As a long time Pedalpalooza and Bike Fun rider and leader, the idea to set up a bike equipment library is a great idea that I wholeheartedly support and look forward to using on my bike adventures in the future.”

One Hwang and Scott Batchelar at the 2017 Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride.
(Photo: Eric Thornburg)

We hope to raise $500 by the start of Pedalpalooza in June so we can purchase things like a sound system/speaker, first aid kit, cooler, “ride leader” sashes, and more. Check out the GoFundMe to learn more and to donate. Thanks for being a part of Portland’s bike fun culture!

— One Hwang

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Saltzman staffer Brendan Finn hired by Governor Brown as transportation policy advisor

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 13:43

Finn on his bike in 2008 and at Commissioner Saltzman’s side in 2010.
(Photos: J. Maus)

Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s chief of staff has been hired by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. Brendan Finn, who’s worked with Saltzman since 1999, will be Brown’s new transportation policy advisor.

(Photo: City of Portland)

According to a statement released a few minutes ago, Finn, “Will be responsible for policy regarding transportation infrastructure across Oregon, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and the implementation of the transportation funding package passed in 2017.” That’s a pretty darn big portfolio. ODOT is a massive agency with about 4,500 employees and an annual budget of nearly $4 billion. The transportation package passed last session includes funding for $5.3 billion in projects and programs.

For the legions of safe streets advocates chomping at the bit for change at ODOT, this is interesting news.

Finn bikes daily to his job at City Hall and holds a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University. Finn isn’t widely known among BikePortland readers and doesn’t grace these pages very often because Commissioner Saltzman has never played a major role in transportation policy. Saltzman is best known to bike advocates for his unexpected gambit in 2010 to raise $1 million a year from utility fees to help pay for projects in the 2030 Bike Master Plan.

When Saltzman made a surprise visit to the Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Advisory Committee to pitch the idea, he had the “avid cyclist” Finn by his side to give it more credibility.

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In 2008 Finn made his own run for a seat on City Council and we cited it as a sign that City Hall was becoming even more bike friendly.

Last year Saltzman was handed the transportation bureau by Mayor Ted Wheeler, giving Finn another opportunity to leave his stamp on the issue. So far Saltzman has been supportive of PBOT initiatives like Vision Zero and Better Naito, but we never did see Finn go out of his way (publicly, at least) to flex his urban planning, bike-loving muscles.

In January we talked to Finn about the absymal state of bike parking in front of City Hall (he doesn’t use it himself because he got a bike stolen from there in 2001). He said, “I think it’s really important for us to have good bike parking because we want people to get here by all forms of transportation — especially active ones like cycling.” (Finn also said he’d look into the issue, but so far no changes have been made.)

Given the sorry state of affairs at ODOT right now, and with Governor Brown’s complete lack of attention to anything other than freight and freeways, having Finn inside the office can only make things better. Stay tuned.

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

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Public strongly favors greenway route on NE 7th, PBOT report finds

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 12:10

PBOT concept drawing of potential design for a neighborhood greenway on NE 7th.

It now appears even more likely that the Portland Bureau of Transportation will develop a new neighborhood greenway route on NE 7th between I-84 and the Woodlawn neighborhood.

As we reported at the end of February, PBOT launched the public process phase of the project with an open house. Now they’ve released a report based on the feedback from that event and an online survey for the project.

The big question with this project is whether to create a cycling priority street on NE 9th or 7th. From a planning and cycling perspective, 7th is considered the better choice because it’s flatter, more direct, and it connects to the existing network. However, 7th also has a higher volume of drivers than 9th and there are fears among some that if people are prevented from using it in their cars, they’ll drive on adjacent neighborhood streets.

Perhaps fearful of yet another controversy surrounding diversion and cut-through traffic, PBOT is being extremely transparent with this project. They’ve published an 11-page Summary Report and a 35-page appendix with every one of the 300 or so pieces of public feedback they’ve received thus far.

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The biggest takeway?

The vast majority of participants were very supportive of building the Neighborhood Greenway on NE 7th with additional monitoring and mitigation of traffic in the area. Supporters for the NE 7th alignment mentioned that it’s a direct connection to Lloyd District, the planned Sullivans Crossing I-84 pedestrian bridge, and other destinations, and addresses traffic issues on NE 7th, i.e. reduces cut-through traffic and speeding drivers.

PBOT heard some support for making the greenway on 9th, but it was “mixed.” Because 9th is so much more quiet and has lower traffic volume, there’s a chance we could end up with something similar to the N Williams Avenue/N Rodney situation. On that project, many people preferred Rodney because it’s quieter and feels safer. In the end, PBOT ended up making Williams the main bikeway route and adding greenway elements to Rodney (like sharrows, fewer stop signs, speed bumps, and diverters).

PBOT says they still haven’t selected a project alignment. “The project team will continue to develop and share design options,” stated project manager Nick Falbo in a recent statement. “The team will bring these more detailed design options to the community for additional discussion and considerations.”

Check the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project page for more details and to stay updated.

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

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Proposal for new path on Bridge of the Gods moves forward in search of funding

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 09:33

This looks even more amazing if you’ve ever been across the bridge in its current form.
(Graphics: Port of Cascade Locks)

Existing conditions. Yikes!

A biking and walking path on the Bridge of the Gods took a big step forward last month.

In March, the Port of Cascade Locks and the Pacific Coast Trail Association (in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, Washington Department of Transportation, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and City of Stevenson, WA) turned in a proposal (PDF) to the Federal Highway Administration requesting $934,000 for a planning study that would lead to the construction of the project.

The bridge is a major part of tourism in the area and it services as a key link in the transportation network. It’s the access point for the popular Pacific Crest Trail, West End Transit bus service, two Scenic Byways, and other significant trails. Unfortunately, the bridge is narrow at just 22 feet-wide, has no shoulders or sidewalks, and is quite unnerving to use — even in a car!

Port of Cascade Locks Manager of Bridge Operations Ryan Vollans told us today via email that, “The Port feels strongly that this project greatly enhances pedestrian and bicycle safety at the Bridge and this improvement has been necessary for some time.”

Here’s an excerpt from the proposal:

The bridge is unsuitable for safe pedestrian traffic with a narrow 22-foot roadway lacking even minimal shoulders. It is a perilous situation for pedestrians to safely access then cross this narrow bridge, 1/3 mile long, with nothing to separate them from traffic, and the water visible under their feet 140 feet below the steel grate. Safety risks increase when tractor-trailers must swerve to go around pedestrians into oncoming traffic, and other motorists are sometimes paying more attention to the scenic views than to the road.

Another view of the new path from the proposal.

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Despite that, the number of people who walk across the bride has risen significantly in the past four years nearly doubling between 2014 and 2017 (from 4,700 to 7,800 respectively).

In addition to a cantilevered path, the project — estimated to cost between $15 and $25 million — would include a seismic retrofit, new paths connecting nearby trails to the bridge, and safety upgrades to cross adjacent highways (see image below).

A host of upgrades on and around the bridge are planned.

A story in today’s Oregonian reported that the project has major backing by from Oregon and Washington’s congressional delegation. A 2017 bill that would have directed the Oregon Department of Transportation to begin the project, didn’t make it out of committee.

The Port and its partners seek funding through the Federal Lands Access Program. If chosen, it would allow the Port to select a final bridge design, study environmental impacts, refine cost estimates, and get the project ready for future funding. The proposal is being evaluated now and Vollans says they expect a final decision to be made in August or September of this year.

With a big push for carfree travel in the Columbia River Gorge, this project can’t happen soon enough. Stay tuned for opportunites to weigh in with your comments.

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

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At C-Velo, the bike racing happens indoors

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 13:28

Riders spin against the numbers at C-Velo Performance Cycling Training Center in Sellwood.
(Photo: J. Maus)

Some of Portland’s toughest bike races don’t even happen on the road.

Over the past seven years, exercise physiologist Rick Cady has melded his love of cycling with the science of human performance to create an indoor training center unlike anything in Oregon.

C-Velo owner Rick Cady with customer Saachi Murthy.

At Cady’s C-Velo Performance Cycling Training Center in Sellwood, customers attach their bikes (sans rear wheel) to “smart” trainers and compete against a bevy a data that tells them how hard they’re working as they pedal.

I showed up last week to watch them “race”.

As riders filtered in it was clear camaraderie is a big part of what makes Cady’s business tick. It was like the old TV show Cheers as people reacted to old friends and settled into their places at the bar. “There’s always energy in a group environment,” Cady said to me as he set up his software program and told riders which of the 15 trainers to sit on.

“I’m trying to fill the niche of what Spin studios don’t cater to,” he continued. “Those places cater to the general person who wants a workout where they can sweat on a bike. I’m working with athletes who want to have their off-season actually mean something.”

For riders like Mielle Blomberg, whose husband Shane also did the race, one appeal of this Wednesday night class is a social one. “I show up because I want to hang with this group,” she said. “I feed off the energy.”

Kathryn Caine.

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Cady and Mielle Blomberg (right) react when a friend walks in the door.

Indoor training has gone through many tech revolutions since Cady first opened his doors in 2011. Back then he set up resistance trainers (devices that hook onto a rear wheel of a bicycle and allow you to pedal in place) that had a very basic console for vital data. “It was like a Spin class, but power-based,” he recalled. In the bike training world, a rider’s power output is a standard metric used as the basis for workouts. Once your functional threshold power (FTP, the amount of watts you can sustain for an hour) is set, a coach like Cady can customize a training plan that will make you stronger and faster.

“We suffer together. It’s a community.”
— Saachi Murthy

In the past few years, trainers have gotten “smart” — and they’ve been connected to the Internet via subscription services like Zwift. With a Bluetooth-enabled smart trainer and a Zwift account, a rider can watch themselves compete for points, prizes, and personal records on a computer screen alongside thousands of people from around the world who are using it at the same time. The trainers mimic the contours of the road, getting harder to pedal on a climb and easing up on downhills.

Cady uses similar technology for his classes. During a typical workout, the trainers automatically adjust resistance. “They don’t have to think,” Cady said of his clients. “They can just come in, set up, and follow what we tell them to do.”

The 15 people who showed to Cady’s one-hour session on Wednesday are doing an 8-week course aimed at building power. Cady uses a customized version of PerfPRO, software that connects to each rider’s trainer and calculates a dizzying amount of data. The software can derive how much power each person creates, how fast they’re pedaling, the distance they’re going, and so on. A key aspect of training with power data is that it can equalize riders with different strengths. The day’s race-training session wasn’t based on who could pedal the hardest, it was based on each riders’ individual effort. Using an algorithm that takes pedaling output and FTP, the software calculates an “Intensity Factor” (IF) to show how hard — relative to a person’s absolute limit — they’re working. If you’re at 100 percent IF, you’re right at your threshold; if you’re at 80 percent you have more to give; if you’re at 150 percent you’re really digging deep.

And unlike training and racing outdoors, no one can get dropped, there are no stop signs, no crosswinds, and no distracted drivers.

The riders started with a warm-up while Cady made sure they all had towels, water bottles, and that all the trainers were properly calibrated.

To spice things up, there were several “primes” in the race. In a regular race, primes are laps within the race where special prizes are given to the winner. In this case, primes were based on time. The rider who gave the most effort for 5, 10, 20, 30 and 60 seconds got the prime.

Matt Schwartz at max effort.

Annick Chalier.

Prime prizes.

Each rider has several numbers that track their performance. You can see each rider’s name in green.

All 15 riders faced the same direction, looking at three huge LCD screens placed at eye-level along one wall. Powerful fans pointed in all directions kept everyone cool and fresh.

Saachi Murthy is a member of the Fast Fun Nice Cycling Team. He got hooked on bike racing after trying cyclocross in 2015. He comes to C-Velo to keep himself accountable. “I can’t manage more than an hour on a trainer by msyelf,” he told me before the race began, “It’s kind of boring.” Like everyone else I spoke to, Murthy also loves riding outside, but finds the controlled indoor environment especially good for all-out efforts — a.k.a. interval training.

And the esprit de corps aspect is paramount. “We suffer together,” is how Murthy put it. “It’s a community.”

One rider I spoke to was recovering from a serious neck injury and, although he rode his heart out Wednesday night, he’s hasn’t been cleared by his doctor to ride outside yet.

As the racing begins in earnest, the lights go out, the room gets darker, and Cady becomes something of a drill sergeant. “Hit it! Come on! Come on!” he barks, as the riders react to the on-screen instructions telling them how hard to push and for how long.

The ground in the upstairs studio rumbled as pressure on the pedals increased. “Push harder!” Cady implored.

At the end of the workout, congratulations and prime prizes were passed around. A goofy group photo of sweaty, smiling athletes was taken, and people crowded around roaring fans to cool off. All the data from the session will be in the riders’ inbox by the time they get home. They’ll look over the numbers, then come back again next week to try and push them a little higher.

The post-session group shot.

C-VeloCycling.com

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

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Bluetooth speakers and a “Rolling Jackass”: These are a few of my favorite things

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 11:16

I adore my Rolling Jackass centerstand.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

There are so many terrific bike products — big and small, ready-made and DIY — that make life easier for me.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Of the many bike parts and accessories I’ve had and loved over the years, my favorite has to be my double kickstand. My cargo bike sports a Rolling Jackass centerstand that makes it possible for the kids to clamber on and off the bike with no worry of tipping, I can load heavy cargo one side at a time with the bike staying upright, and we can even stand on the deck to reach high-up things.

Do you have a favorite accessory or a beloved piece of bike gear?

A sturdy kickstand has many uses.

Here’s why I love my centerstand…

I can set the “RJ” by easing it forward with my foot like a regular kickstand, or I can deploy it with a lever on my handlebars. This means I can set the kickstand while straddling the top tube, with my weight centered over the bike, rather than having to fight to keep the bike upright from the side. This is especially useful if I’m carrying a heavy load, like both kids or a full bike of groceries. The same goes for disengaging the RJ — it has a spring to bring it safely under the bike with a bit of a shove forward, no need to sweep at it from the side with my foot.

This lever (upper left) deploys my centerstand so I can set it while straddling the bike.

The RJ is made for longtail and midtail cargo bikes so it can’t be placed on just any bike. However, there are burly kickstands for regular bikes: my old mamabike (a city bike with front and rear kid seats) had a Pletscher side-folding two-legged kickstand. I adored that centerstand. However, I snapped through two of them because they aren’t really made to handle the weight of two kids and two baskets full of kid stuff. And my tandem has an Ursus Jumbo, the widest after-market centerstand on the market as far as I know. When I was between kickstands on my old mamabike I got very proficient at loading the kids on the bike with it leaned against a fence or tree — or even against my hip if I couldn’t find a fence or tree — so I know I don’t need any kickstand, let alone the burliest kickstand available, but it certainly makes my life easier!

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I could barely muscle this 63-pound bed frame onto my bike, but my centerstand held it steady while I huffed and puffed it on board.

I’m curious to hear what products have made your lives similarly easier. After my kickstand, here’s my three-way tie for second-most favorite thing:

  • I loved having a windscreen on our front baby seat. It made such a difference in wind, drizzle, and going downhill at even slow speeds for both of my toddlers.
  • Bluetooth speakers are amazing for biking with kids. Tons of families listen to music or audiobooks while biking — soothe the savage beast (or distract the strangling sibling). I call mine my hill assist as it shaved 10 minutes off our long trip to swim lessons the summer we got it.
  • An easy-to-ring Jellibell attached to the straps of our first bike seats kept the kids happy which kept me happy.

Thanks for reading. 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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The Street Trust to ODOT: Don’t use pricing revenue to make driving easier

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 09:27

Congestion relief.
(Photo: J. Maus)

If left to their own devices, it’s very likely that any money raised by the Oregon Department of Transportation via decongestion pricing (also known as value pricing or congestion pricing) would be funneled right back into projects to make driving easier.

That would be a very bad move. Portland-based non-profit The Street Trust has launched a petition to encourage ODOT to do otherwise.

“Tell ODOT,” the petition headline reads, “Get Serious About Traffic and Invest in Transit, Biking, and Walking.”

Here’s the rest of The Street Trust’s call to action:

Building wider highways will not reduce traffic congestion. Instead, we can use congestion pricing as a method to reduce the number of cars on our streets and invest in better choices like walking, bicycling, and public transit. By following the example of cities like London, Stockholm, and Singapore, we can reduce traffic congestion and lead the nation in making it safe and easy to get around without a car. Congestion pricing must avoid negative impacts on low income people with options like rebates and increased transit.

We call on the Oregon Department of Transportation to use congestion pricing to reduce cars on our streets and fund a sustainable vision for the future of our city.

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The Street Trust (whose Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky is on the Value Pricing Committee) has reason to be worried.

As per House Bill 2017, the transportation funding and policy package that passed last year, net proceeds from decongestion pricing must go into a newly established pot named the Congestion Relief Fund. While you might think the best way to relieve congestion is through better land-use, transit service, and good bikeway networks — ODOT and state legislators don’t. When they hear congestion relief, they think of wider freeways, more lanes on freeways, bigger ramps on and off freeways, and so on.

The largest expenditures in HB 2017 (which ODOT calls the Keep Oregon Moving program) are “congestion relief” projects that will widen Interstates 5, 205, and Highway 217. The I-5 Rose Quarter project itself will get $30 million per year starting in 2022.

If advocates have any hope of allowing decongestion pricing revenue to be spent on better bus service or bikeways, they’ll have to decouple the idea that “congestion relief” is synonymous with “freeway project.” This campaign by The Street Trust is likely just the start in a much larger battle that will unfold in the weeks and months to come as the Value Pricing Committee finalizes its recommendation to the Oregon Transportation Commission. That’s expected to happen this summer.

Learn more about ODOT’s decongestion relief policy and process here.

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

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Ride Biketown for free and park anywhere you want in May

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 08:48

Spring fever has hit Biketown too.
(Photo: J. Maus)

The City of Portland has launched a novel promotion to boost Biketown ridership next month: It’s completely free.

To celebrate National Bike Month, the bureau of transportation announced today that new and existing Biketown riders can use the bright orange bikes for up to 90 minutes without being charged. Annual members who’ve already paid will get a promo code worth $12 (the monthly price). Better yet, the free promotion extends to the system’s Adaptive Biketown program, and the Biketown for All program, which offers disounted memberships to people living on low-incomes.

But wait! There’s more! During the month of May, the entire Biketown service area will become a “super hub zone.” That is, you’ll be able to park the bikes anywhere without incurring a fee. This aspect of the promotion is also a way for the City of Portland to highlight the dockless capabilities of the system — at a moment when they’re feeling pressure from private firms who want to release dockless scooters and bikes in Portland.

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To take advantage of the free rides, just sign up through the Biketown website, mobile app or at a station kiosk and select the “Single Ride” plan. Current annual members can log in to their account, choose “Memberships” and apply the “BIKEMONTH18” promo code to their existing account.

If you’re waiting for an adaptive bike, the 2018 season starts on May 1st.

This morning’s announcement comes after PBOT released a Biketown system data dashboard. We’re still crunching numbers, but so far they look positive. Since it launched in July 2016, people have taken over 520,000 trips. To put that into context, over the 632 days since launch, each bike has gotten 0.8 rides per day. That’s not a great number relative to other bike share systems. Seattle’s failed Pronto bikes maxed out at 0.6 trips per day and CitiBikes in New York City get around 3.6 trips per bike per day. The national average is about 2 trips per bike per day.

The good news about Biketown is the numbers are trending upward. Over the past 365 days, the trips per bike per day has grown by 4 percent to 0.91. And the year-to-date trip numbers are up 10 percent over last year.

It will be interesting to see how this promotion impacts Biketown usage. May is also the start of The Street Trust’s Bike Commute Challenge and the beginning of Better Naito season on the Waterfront. Bring on the bikes! Orange and all!

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

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The Monday Roundup: Fair road prices, Lance settles, sidewalk battles, and much more

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 09:29

Welcome to the week.

Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Sponsored by the Safe Zone Helmet Mirror:

Scan for hazards of all types with the Safe Zone Helmet Mirror,
made by Portland’s Efficient Velo Tools.

Cycling’s other side: It’s a frustrating narrative that bike riding is for rich white people. This piece from the L.A. Times centered around a bike shop in south Los Angeles is a wonderful window into a part of the cycling world that rarely gets talked about.

Beyond traffic deaths: Streetsblog shares a report from World Resources Institute that finds if we want to reduce traffic deaths, we should tie the issue to other issues that have broader public support.

Speaking of which: The Wall Street Journal outlines the difficulty some cities are having in building protected bike lanes because people think the impacts to their driving convenience just aren’t worth it.

Bikeways rule in BC: But look what happened in Vancouver, BC. They built quality, protected bike lanes in the right places and now the opposition has “melted away.”

Must do it to get it: It’s an age-old question: Do the electeds who make decisions about biking and transit actually use those modes themselves? Does it matter? Here’s how it shakes out in Seattle.

Battle over sidewalks: A “pedestrian activist” in Seattle writes in Crosscut that dockless bike share bikes have ruined the walking environment and he wants stronger regulation — including a sidewalk biking ban — in upcoming city plans.

More good news from Canada: An increase in density in Toronto has led to more people taking transit and fewer people driving.

Record it all: A new helmet dubbed CycleVision has cameras in the front and rear to make it easier to create videos of your rides — in case something epic happens.

Slow down, “smart cities”: CityLab takes a much-needed look at the perils to all the “smart city” excitement and says it’s time to regulate tech in our streets.

New Vision Zero resource: Public policy researchers at Rand have released a new “Road to Zero” report that outlines where the U.S. stands in road safety efforts and how to get to zero deaths by 2050.

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Groceries by bike: A UK supermarket chain has launched a delivery service using electric cargo bikes. We think New Seasons should do the same!

Truth about decongestion pricing and “equity”: Elected leaders and candidates would be very wise to read this piece on how free roads (the status quo) are much more unfair than pricing them would be.

Don’t scoff at e-scooters: This is a well-written and calm view of dockless electric scooters that touts their vast mobility potential and the huge cultural and policy challenge they face.

A dedicated voice: Portland-area safe streets advocate Kristi Finney was profiled by Streetsblog for her relentless activism spurred by the death of her son Dustin in 2011.

Lance settles: The disgraced cycling hero agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit with former sponsor the US Postal Service.

It’s a trend: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that roads inside Central Park will be carfree starting in June. It’s a victory for activists who’ve been wanting this to happen for many decades.

Dems and density: Kevin Drum at Mother Jones argues against making cities more dense because it’s 1) too expensive 2) politically risky 3) makes traffic worse 4) and is just too hard to fight for.

More share, less scare: Turns out that the more engaged and aware people have to be at an intersection, the less dangerous and chaotic — and more enjoyable — it becomes. That’s what happened when traffic engineers in Amsterdam turned off signals at a very busy intersection.

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

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A bridge instead of the Canby Ferry? Clackamas County wants your opinion

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 14:42

The Canby Ferry is a fun and scenic respite on a long ride.
(Photo: J. Maus)

If you’ve ever ventured south of Portland on your bike en route to Champoeg State Park or Salem, chances are you’ve used the Canby Ferry to cross the Willamette River. As the only (non-driving) way across the river between Oregon City and Newberg, the ferry is a part of some of Portland’s best road rides.

It used to be free until 2012 when Clackamas County commissioners adopted a $2 fee. With cities on all sides of the ferry growing, more changes could be afoot.

Clackamas County has launched a survey and feasibility study of new transportation options at the ferry location — some of which would end ferry service and replace it with a bridge. They’re considering the following six options:

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Canby Ferry – continue service
Canby Ferry – discontinue service
Bridge (no toll) – continue ferry service
Bridge (no toll) – discontinue ferry service
Toll bridge – continue ferry service
Toll bridge – discontinue ferry service

Officials worry that the ferry isn’t reliable enough and doesn’t have enough capacity to handle demand. It only operates during daylight hours, it closes when the river runs high, it can only carry six motor vehicles at once, and it currently operates at a loss.

There’s an online survey to garner feedback about what the future of the crossing should be. The study is slated to be done by the end of 2018. Learn more at the Clackamas County website.

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

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ODOT in hot seat as debate over 82nd Avenue safety upgrades continues

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 13:34

(Photo: J. Maus)

The politics around 82nd Avenue have changed. And ODOT hasn’t.

That fact has put the state transportation agency in hot water with local and regional elected officials.

Late last month Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and nine other politicians — including his council colleagues, Multnomah County commissioners and state legislators — skewered ODOT for their, “lack of stewardship and prioritization of state highways.”

At issue is 82nd Avenue, one of the state’s “orphaned highways” that gets managed like a freeway; but also happens to be a neighborhood street that people want to use on foot, by bike, and with transit safely and efficiently. Wheeler and a growing coalition of agencies, advocacy groups and electeds, are demanding that ODOT insert a major 82nd Avenue improvement project into the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). That move is considered a critical step in the process of transferring jurisdiction of 82nd from ODOT to the City of Portland. (It’s a widely accepted view that orphaned highways like 82nd should be owned and managed by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, not by ODOT, because of the former’s expertise in modern multimodal road design practices and the latter’s reluctance to implement them.)

“Because ODOT applies highway design standards to 82nd Avenue, ODOT has limited ability to bring 82nd Avenue to City of Portland and community standards.”
— State Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer and State Sen. Michael Dembrow

The RTP project list is being negotiated now for final adoption in the new few months. If 82nd Avenue is not included, it will be difficult to coalesce the political and public support needed to find the large chunk of funding it will take to transform the street from a car-centric arterial to a more human-scale, people-friendly street that truly serves the community around it.

ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer has issued his own letter (PDF) in response where he defends his agency and criticizes Metro’s RTP process.

Windsheimer first says ODOT also wants to eliminate fatal and serious injury crashes, “especially for vulnerable users” and then he details the projects ODOT has completed on 82nd in the past decade. Then it gets interesting. Windsheimer sticks up for ODOT’s approach to safety project implementation and then goes a step further, seeming to question Metro’s process.

Here’s an excerpt from his letter:

“It’s important not to confuse ODOT’s commitment to safety and our investments and safety with projects programmed in Metro’s RTP. The Oregon Transportation Committee allocates safety funding every STIP [Statewide Transportation Improvement Program] cycle, and the department conducted a very extensive all roads (city, county and state) safety analysis to program those safety projects where they have the highest probability for reducing fatal an injury crashes across all modes, including bike and pedestrian. ODOT does not rely on a list of projects in a 20-year plan to identify our safety projects; we use the latest available safety data to program real projects with real dollars to improve safety within that three to four year STIP cycle. Safety hotspots change from year-to-year and using the most up-to-date data to guide our investments is a more effective strategy.”

Windsheimer urges regional governments to support ODOT STIP projects that will bring 82nd up to an acceptable threshold. In essence, Windsheimer wants ODOT to maintain control of 82nd as long as necessary to make required improvements, but everyone else around the table has seen enough. There’s a prevailing sense that ODOT has had plenty of time and chances and they’re not doing the right projects — fast enough — to respond to demands for change.

At a meeting of Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation Thursday morning, the issue was once again in the spotlight. Oregon House Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer (District 46) and Senator Michael Dembrow (District 23) issued new testimony. Based on a letter dated April 18th (PDF), Keny-Guyer and Dembrow have ratcheted up the pressure on ODOT even further.

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In a polite way, the legislators called out ODOT for doing enough to solve the myriad problems with 82nd Ave. The letter referred to ODOT’s recently completed 82nd Avenue of the Roses Implementation Plan, which was supposed to “build toward community goals.” (John Mulvey, who served on an advisory committee for that project, told us, “ODOT was never serious about making 82nd Avenue safer for pedestrians and they were willing to waste 2-1/2 years of the community’s time in order to make it look like they were doing something without really doing something.”)

“While we appreciate the work that has gone into the ODOT report,” the letter states, “the result does not support our community vision. For example, the report offers “enhanced crossings,” which are simply refugee islands in areas of high traffic volumes without any crosswalks or pedestrian activated signals. The report acknowledges that sidewalks along 82nd Avenue need improvement, but stipulates they be built to ODOT standards of 6 feet wide. Community standards articulate a sidewalk width of 9 or more feet. Because ODOT applies highway design standards to 82nd Avenue, ODOT has limited ability to bring 82nd Avenue to City of Portland and community standards.”

Rep. Keny-Guyer and Senator Dembrow make it crystal clear they do not trust ODOT with 82nd. “We seek an expedited transfer of ownership of 82nd Avenue from the State of Oregon to the City of Portland,” they write. “It is critical that this process get underway as soon as possible, BEFORE ODOT spends funds to make improvements that are not aligned with our vision.” They want a “shared funding” plan between the State of Oregon and the City of Portland that will, “allow the City to design and transform 82nd Avenue with community input.”

They even lay down minimum expectations for the future of 82nd. They call for, “full modernization, including significant upgrades to pedestrian infrastructure and traffic calming; bicycle path on a street parallel to 82nd Avenue; accommodation for increasing density; and a commitment to affordable housing and anti-displacements strategies.”

“Something is broken if elected leaders have to petition an administrative arm of the state government to take action.”
— Gerik Kransky, The Street Trust

The Street Trust Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky is following all this closely. He too thinks 82nd Avenue should be prioritized in Metro’s RTP. Kransky notes it has taken years of advocacy, countless injuries and fatalities, adoption of Vision Zero policies, and more public awareness of traffic safety issues in general, to finally put ODOT on the spot. “Now there’s just more accountability,” he shared in a recent interview. “And something is broken if elected leaders have to petition an administrative arm of the state government to take action.”

Kransky says even if ODOT refuses to put 82nd in the RTP, he wants to know what their plan is to bring it up to modern design standards. “What’s the investment strategy to get us there?” he wonders. “Who’s going to put money toward it and when can we expect it to be completed. We need action.”

What Portland and many regional electeds and advocates want are more transformative changes to 82nd. And so far, ODOT is simply doing business-as-usual — a curb ramp here, a flashing beacon there. And until ODOT hands over management authority, few people think anything will change.

“I feel like we’re an an impasse,” Kransky says. He also thinks this moment in time is “a wide open door that transportation activists should walk through.” “It will be that community outcry that helps us focus people’s attention.” Asked if The Street Trust has immediate action plans, Kransky said not yet, but they’re working on something.

In the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers pledged $110 million to another orphaned highway, Powell Blvd. If can happen there, surely it can happen here.

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

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River City Bicycles launches “Low Pressure” mountain bike program for women

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 11:00

Unlike many bike shops, River City Bicycles in southeast Portland has long had a reputation as a place where women feel safe and welcome. In 2008 the shop was named the most “female friendly” in the nation and they have sponsored many top women racers.

Now the shop wants to use mountain biking as a vehicle to help women build confidence — both on and off the trails. Their “Low Pressure Women’s Mountain Bike Series” is described as, “A stress-free, female led mountain bike event, clinic, and ride series through which we hope to build, educate and inspire a supportive community of women in our sport.” The series will include weekly practice sessions at The Lumberyard’s indoor bike park, on-trail clinics and weekly rides. There’s a launch party at the shop tonight (4/20) from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

With help from Elaine Bothe of Wenzel Coaching and shop staff, River City is opening this LGBTQ+ friendly initiative up to all levels and all ages (sixth grade and over) of riders.

River City’s Lisa Luna told me this week that she put this together to encourage “positive self-talk” and to build women up from the inside.

“Women are different from men. Emotions for women are typically an inseparable part of our experiences, especially when we’re pushing the limits of our comfort zone.”
— Lisa Luna, River City Bicycles

“Women are different from men,” she shared. “Emotions for women are typically an inseparable part of our experiences, especially when we’re pushing the limits of our comfort zone. When women ride together, we use the emotional element to build each other up, to support and encourage each other. When we ride with a mixed group, or with our male counterparts, there is often this layer of “I have to keep up, I have to rush, I’m holding the group back.” This can give way to negative self-talk, and before you know it, the ride isn’t as rewarding and becomes a bit more stressful or anxiety-provoking.”

Luna says this program will give women a way to build skills in a comfortable, supportive environment. At tonight’s kickoff event the skill-building will start before any trails are ridden. It’s not just about riding for Luna. When women learn to tune their suspension and dial in their disc brakes, they become more self-reliant, and as a result, happier with their experience overall. The trail riding part of the program will visit “flowy” and fun trails at places like EasyCLIMB in Cascade Locks, Gateway Green, and Sandy Ridge.

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Another part of Luna’s inspiration is her own high school-aged daughter. Luna has become a certified coach in the newly formed Oregon Interscholastic MTB League and she’s actively recruiting members for a Portland-area co-ed team.

“I’m so grateful to River City for letting me take this and fly with it,” Luna says, “because I want to see how big and wonderful and inspiring and rewarding it can become for women in the beginning stages of their mountain biking, as well as women who have already been mountain biking. We always stand to gain from each other.”

Learn more on the program website, by emailing lisal [at] rivercitybicycles.com, or stop into the party tonight at River City Bicycles (706 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd). There will be some education, some wine tasting, a speed raffle with great prizes.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Velotech, Seven Corners Cycles, North Portland Bike Works

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 07:00

Three hot and fresh job opportunities posted this week. Go ahead and make that change.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Customer Experience Specialist Full Time – Velotech

–> Customer Service/Sales/Light Mechanics – Seven Corners Cycles

–> Bike shop mechanic / Customer service – North Portland Bike Works

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

Be the first to know about new job opportunities by signing up for our daily Job Listings email or by following @BikePortland on Twitter.

These are paid listings. And they work! If you’d like to post a job on the Portland region’s “Best Local Blog” two years running, you can purchase a listing online for just $75 by visiting our Job Listings page.

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

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PBOT places bet on ‘smart city’ tech to count bikes and make streets safer

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 09:48

PBOT will install 200 sensors to gather more data about how streets are being used.
(Photo: J. Maus)

Portland’s bike planning is about to get smarter.

“The city has the right ideas but they don’t have the right tools.”
— William Henderson, Ride Report

The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced two major data-driven projects last week aimed at making biking safer. PBOT purchased data from Portland startup Ride Report, and plans to install smart safety sensors on three of the city’s most dangerous streets.

Together, these projects will flood planners with new data on bike travel patterns (and a whole lot more).

“Now you see more and more data becoming available from traffic sensors, smartphones, bike share,” says William Henderson, one of Ride Report’s co-founders (whom you might recall from our 2015 profile). “We want to help cities effectively use that data.”

Image from recent PBOT announcement.

This type of collaboration is part of the “smart city” approach to urban planning that’s gaining traction across the country. Cities are scrambling to partner with tech companies, and tech companies are grabbing for public dollars. The mobility services sector— think carsharing, mobile ticketing and any project coming out of company’s like Portland-headquartered moovel — is booming.

There’s been plenty of talk about smart city projects for transit and cars, but less for bikes. Portland will be the third city, behind San Diego and Atlanta, to pilot the traffic sensors. Ride Report has made it into 13 cities.

“The city has the right ideas but they don’t have the right tools,” says Henderson. “They don’t move like a tech company. On the other hand, you have tech companies that don’t understand how cities work. It’s important to have something in the middle.”

In the old days, when PBOT wanted to see how many people were biking at a specific location, planners collected surveys and sent out legions of employees and volunteers to manually count them. That process could take up to six months.

The smart sensors automate at least part of the process. Unlike humans, they can count several things at once — such as when and where people cross the street, and how fast they’re going. The sensors’ cameras can even pick out different shapes and sort them into cars, bikes and people, kind of like how Facebook recognizes your friends in photos.

PBOT plans to install 200 sensors on light poles in three high-crash corridors. The agency was restricted to light poles owned by Portland General Electric, one of the project partners. They settled on 122nd between Burnside and Duke, SE division between 11th and 22th, and Hawthorne between 11th and 46th.

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The total price tag is just over $1 million. That includes the sensors, installation costs and the software to make sense of all the data.

The sensors will turn the tables on street design. Instead of painting a crosswalk and hoping people use it, planners can do the opposite. They can look at where people actually cross, according to the sensors, and fill in the missing crosswalks.

Capturing the quality of the bike trip

The sensors can tell how fast you’re driving, where you’re going and how you’re getting there. But they can’t tell another critical variable — how the trip makes you feel.

“What you’re not going to get from the sensors is reports on comfort level,” PBOT Communications Director John Brady shared with us in an interview this week. “Just sitting on the sidewalk doing a bike count you can’t get that qualitative data.”

That’s where Ride Report comes in. With the Ride Report app, people on bikes track themselves with their phones, and report the ride’s overall vibe: “stressful,” “chill,” or “mixed.” Users logged 1.2 million bike trips in the first year. That activity shows up on a user-generated map as a web of red, green and yellow lines.

Ride Report user-generated heat map of Portland central city.

Then planners just have to find the fattest red lines and steer public dollars in that direction.

You’re probably wondering where the chill rides are, and which routes to avoid. The answers aren’t surprising to anyone who’s spent more than a few days in the saddle in Portland. The danger zones include North Interstate, the southern end of Mississippi Ave., Milwaukie, and Woodstock.

By entering into an official partnership with Ride Report, PBOT planners get added data visualization superpowers not available to the general public. They can see the difference between peak and off-peak hours, for example. Henderson says, “we’ve seen facilities that are really good during off peak hours, and degrade during rush hour.”

PBOT is paying $25,000 for the data, and spending another $5,000 on staff to figure it out. Henderson says the price tag is probably less than what the agency spends collecting data for a single project.

“They definitely shouldn’t spend money on us before they spend money on bike lanes,” Henderson says. “But you have to spend on data.”

Who gets counted – and how — matters

“This is just one new tool for us.. We are mindful of its limits and the opportunities.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

We don’t know how this project will affect low-income and minority people who choose to bike and walk. At a recent event hosted by Forth, an electric vehicle advocacy nonprofit, OPAL’s deputy director Vivian Satterfield warned against tech-driven approaches to transportation issues. Many low-income people use smartphones, she said, but mostly for text and email. They’re probably not using Ride Report. Planners might need to find other ways to make sure they’re concerns are reflected in the data-driven designs.

And then there are the privacy concerns. At a time when people are re-assessing their relationship with Facebook over its rampant misuse of personal data, it’s likely the public will be skeptical of sensors of any kind.

And Sarah Iannarone, a PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee member and local activist on many fronts whose daily critiques of Mayor Ted Wheeler seem to be a precursor to another run at his office, offered sharp rebukes to the smart city tact on Twitter yesterday. The “corporatist push toward ‘Smart City Portland’,” she warned, “never serve people over profits.” “Long-term prosperity hinges on climate adaptation and social cohesion, not tech,” Iannarone continued. “We need a ‘Resilient City’ era with a focus on stupid networks like sidewalks.”

PBOT isn’t blind to these concerns. “This is just one new tool for us, that will supplement our existing public involvement and data research,” spokesperson Dylan Rivera says. “We are mindful of its limits and the opportunities.”

Futuristic tools and future projects

Putting a number on subjective feelings like stress, Henderson says, will prove invaluable in the Central City 2035 plan. Staff working on Central City in Motion and projects in east Portland might also make decisions based on Ride Report, a spokesperson said. The agency could spend up to $254,000 over five years.

Right now, Henderson is enjoying sitting at the front of the peloton of bike-focused data startups. Henderson says he doesn’t have much competition. Moovel’s data, for one, is more general and transit-focused.

But Henderson is gearing up for a tight race. He hired two software engineers recently. He’s looking for two or three more. “Biking is really going to heat up,” he says. “We’ve been growing to meet that demand.”

With data pouring in from all sides, the challenge moving forward is figuring out what it means. Most of the money budgeted for the sensor project is going toward analytics. As smart cities grow, so will the need for data analysts and sophisticated statistics software.

“Everyone has so much data,” PBOT’s Brady says. “No one knows how to actually integrate the data to draw any conclusions. The next challenge is developing the analytics we can use.”

Smart City PDX Team Open House and Tech Expo
Where: Community Hall, Portland Community College – Southeast Campus, 2305 SE 82nd Avenue, Portland OR, 97216
When: Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Who: Representatives from the Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler, Smart City PDX Team, AT&T, Current by GE, Intel and Portland General Electric
Representatives from the Traffic Safety Sensor Project Team will be present to explain the project and answer questions. Representatives from Current by GE, AT&T, Portland General Electric and Intel will also be at the event with displays of the sensor technology.
Please RSVP with Anne Hill, Smart City Coordinator, at anne.hill@portlandoregon.gov

— Caleb Diehl, csdiehl16 [at] gmail.com

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Weekend Event Guide: Fat Bike Fest, Lake O loop, Kidical Mass, and more

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 08:34

Get out there and enjoy the blooms.
(Photo: J. Maus)

The Weekend Event Guide is sponsored by Abus Bike Locks. Thanks Abus!

Spring is definitely in the air. And in the bike paths. We’re here to make sure everyone finds a good group of folks to enjoy it all with.

This week’s guide includes a special plug for the Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival, a chance to meet and shop with Randi Jo Fabrications, and even a Lake Oswego loop.

Whatever you end up doing, we hope you have fun doing it…


All Weekend

*BP PICK!* ~ Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival
Don’t miss the great opportunity to ride fat bikes on the beach and get to know Cannon Beach — Portland’s closest coastal destination. Just $12 for a weekend pass, the Fat Bike Festival will offer a sunset ride and brew pub party, poker ride with great prizes, and a special celebration of Earth Day where you can pick up trash on the beach by bike. They’ll even let you ride one of their fat bikes if you don’t have one. For registration and more info, check out BikeCannonBeach.com.

Friday, April 20th

Low Pressure Women’s Mountain Biking Kickoff Party – 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at River City Bicycles
River City Bicycles has put together a great series of clinics, rides, and social events aimed at getting more women and girls mountain biking. This LGBTQ+ friendly kickoff party will feature great people, wine tasting, appetizers (healthy of course!), discounted shopping and more. (Watch the BP Front Page for more about this great new initiative.) More info here.

Saturday, April 21st

POC Bike Safety Clinic & Season Warm-up Ride – 9:30 am to 11:00 am
It’s time to make sure your bike is in tip-top shape. Learn the basics of bike repair and then do a short ride at this event open to people of color of any gender expression. More info here.

Pizza Week Ride NE
It’s Pizza Week in Portland — that means $2 slices! Meet some friends on bikes and crawl through a list of great local spots in northeast. Bring cash! More info here.

Randi Jo Fabrications Trunk Show – 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Rivelo
Randi and Eric from Randi Jo Fab are bringing their goods to Rivelo. This dynamic maker duo from rural Elkton (on the Umpqua River in central Oregon) will have their handmade bike apparel and accessories for sale — and there will be coffee Elk Claws to nibble on. More info here.

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Lake Oswego Lake Loop and Then Some – 9:30 am at Westlake Park in Lake Oswego
Join Portland Wheelmen Touring Club ride leader Ashley Reynolds for this 20-mile ride that will include gorgeous views, a solid climb and a stop for coffee at Chucks on B Street. More info here.

NWTA Ladies’ Social Ride – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at Alsea Falls Trail System
Get out of town and sample the fun MTB trails at Alsea Falls (just north of Eugene in the Coast Range). Show up early and take part in trail work with local MTB advocacy groups. This is a great chance to meet other riders and discover Alsea trails. More info here.

Kidical Mass Earth Day Ride – 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm at Alberta Park
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than a bike ride with the wee ones? Expect a short, park-to-park loop on quiet neighborhood greenways. More info here.

Three Speed Adventure – 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm at Rivelo
Join the Society of Three Speeds for a 15-mile jaunt with a mix paved/unpaved sections. Open only to 3, 4, or 5-speed internally geared hub bikes. Take Shawn’s Adventure April challenge! More info here.

Don’t forget! There are many more rides and fun diversions on our calendar.

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

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Cannon Beach set to host first-ever Fat Bike Festival

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:54

This could be you!
(Photo: Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival)

*This post is part of a paid promotional partnership.*

If you’re looking for something fun to do on a bike this weekend, consider the Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival.

The Oregon Coast is a perfect place to ride a fat bike. And Cannon Beach — just 80 miles west of Portland on Highway 26 — is the closest place to do it.

I first heard about the Cannon Beach Fat Bike Festival from our friend Daniella Crowder at Oregon Rides & Events — who also happen to be the owners of Bike Newport, a shop that won the Adventure Cycling Bicycle Travel Award in 2010. Wanting to get more people on bikes on the coast, Daniella and her crew worked with the Cannon Beach Tourism & Arts Commission on a three-day event full of rides and activities.

The result is the Fat Bike Festival. For just $12, you can get a weekend pass which will get you into: a sunset beach ride and bonfire with “fat bike games and activities” on Friday night, a poker ride and afterparty at a local pub on Saturday, and a fat bike beach clean-up event to celebrate Earth Day on Sunday the 22nd. You’ll have plenty to do on the bike, with lots of time in between to explore Cannon Beach on your own. And you don’t even need a bike because they’ll have free demo bikes to use.

To register and learn more, visit BikeCannonBeach.com.

Special thanks to Oregon Rides & Events for supporting BikePortland with this promotional campaign!

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

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Change brings opportunity to unlock central eastside’s cycling potential

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 13:09

Times are a changin’ in the central eastside.
(Photo: City of Portland)

If Portland is to ever reach its transportation (and climate change and vision zero) goals, the Central Eastside Industrial District must evolve into a place where more people can safely and efficiently ride bicycles. Bordered by the Willamette River, SE Powell Blvd, 12th Avenue and I-84, this area is often avoided by bicycle riders. But now, after years of work by advocates and City of Portland staff, it appears there are some positive signs of change on the horizon.

“I believe that cyclists are a huge and growing part of the Central Eastside District… That being said, I believe that cars are still a big part of society, and we need some way to deliver goods.”
— Rina Jimmerson, CEIC Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee program manager

When it comes to cycling, this part of the city has long been hamstrung by two key issues: A heavy industrial land-use pattern where big trucks and loading docks dominate, and influential business owners skeptical of anything that might change that. As I’ve grown up around local transportation advocacy circles, I’ve heard stories about how the Central Eastside Industrial Council (CEIC), an association of businesses and landowners, was constantly at loggerheads with the City of Portland and just wanted to be left alone as an “industrial sanctuary”. The only change the CEIC wanted on their streets was more car parking.

But in the past five years, relations between the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the CEIC have begun to thaw.

In 2012 PBOT and the CEIC worked together to on a parking management plan that included a system of permits and metered spaces to better manage demand and existing supply. It also created a revenue stream for the CEIC via a surcharge on the permits. The deal cut between the City of Portland and this business association has led to the creation of the CEIC Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee (TPAC) — the only non-city affiliated group that manages parking revenue.

It’s an odd arrangement for the City to funnel parking revenue to a non-governmental entity that in turn gets to decide how the money is spent. I touched on this tension last month when I reported on an unpublicized meeting between the CEIC and PBOT staff and consultants that was held to gather feedback on the Central City in Motion project.

As parking permit surchanges have increased from $70 per year in 2016, to $210 in 2017, and to $300 this year — the CEIC TPAC’s budget has grown to over $1 million per year. That’s a significant chunk of change. The permit program has been hailed by parking activists; but having pursestrings for transportation projects in such a key part of the city controlled by the CEIC makes PBOT a bit nervous.

The CEIC had always been a “pay to play” organization, with membership fees ranging from $170 to $550 based on company size. That all changed last year when PBOT Director Leah Treat stepped in to urge the group to open up their TPAC meetings to non dues-paying members. There was also much consternation about what the TPAC decided to fund last year.

According to a copy of that budget obtained by BikePortland, the CEIC’s TPAC had $1,477,714 in total funds. After spending $198,000 on staff and expenses, they had $1,255,000 to spend on transportation projects and prgrams. The CEIC’s budget included: a $300,000-a-year program to “clean up” streets where people frequently sleep; $90,000 a year to buy mechanical car elevators and lease them to private landowners in the district to increase the number of private parking spaces; and a $30,000 program to reduce or eliminate the cost of on-street parking for residents of nearby residential neighborhoods.

The one-year budget also included:

  • $250,000 for a rush-hour shuttle service that would move people nine blocks between the Burnside Bridgehead’s new office buildings and parking lots near the Morrison Bridge
  • $127,500 to subsidize TriMet, Streetcar and Biketown passes for employees in the district
  • $125,000 to study the possible benefits of a new parking garage for the district
  • $50,000 a year toward building a new bike-walk bridge across Interstate 84 at or near Northeast 7th Avenue
  • $50,000 a year to help the Portland Streetcar save money to buy new streetcars, reducing the time between cars

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With new leadership at the CEIC, growing pressure on the fast-changing district to become more human-scale, and with PBOT chomping at the bit to deliver on the (fully-funded) Central City in Motion project, some see a golden opportunity to influence the future of this vital part of the central city.

As the CEIC has gained office space and residential units, the pressure to make its streets more welcoming for non-truck traffic has grown. We’ve seen a growth in bicycle trips and bike-related businesses based in the district, and there are signs from the CEIC itself that a warmer embrace of active transportation is in their future.

Next Thursday (4/26) they’ll host their annual CEIC Transportation and Parking Open House event. “It’s the perfect opportunity to meet your neighbors and take part in shaping our Central Eastside community,” reads the event description. Also notable is a shout-out to local bike-related businesses involved in the event like Showers Pass, B-Line Urban Delivery, Portland Pedal Power and Renovo.

Rina Jimmerson.
(Photo: CEIC)

Another positive sign is the recent hire of Rina Jimmerson as the CEIC TPAC Program Manager. Jimmerson is an urban planner and native of Montreal who worked as chief of staff for three mayors and most recently lived in New Delhi, India where she was a translator and teacher. She moved to Portland in 2016 and lives in the central eastside’s Buckman neighborhood. I first spotted her at the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last week and have since followed up via email to learn a bit more about her.

Asked via email how she sees the future of bicycle use in the CEIC, Jimmerson wrote:

“I believe that cyclists are a huge and growing part of the Central Eastside District and all of Portland in the future for so many reasons: people are more and more health conscious, environmentally conscious and the truth is, we would all like to see more people on the streets and out of their cars. That being said, I believe that cars are still a big part of society, and we need some way to deliver goods. Safe routes for all forms of transportation are crucial. After all, the reality is that not everyone can bicycle to work whether it be because of the physical capacities to do so – especially long distance, the temperature, family situations and the list goes on. You will laugh but I have been thinking about importing a Rickshaw from India for myself.”

Unfortunately Jimmerson doesn’t bike in the area herself. “I started to bike in Portland when I first arrived,” she shared, “but I found it too dangerous.” She said she’s carfree and she walks, carpools or takes rideshares. She would be bike, but she’s still used to being separated from auto traffic — a common occurrence on Montreal’s vaunted network of physically protected bikeways.

Jimmerson isn’t the only new face at the CEIC. They have a new executive director (Kate Merrill) and there’s a sense from advocates that a new guard is emerging. With so much growth coming to the district, and with a few doors of opportunity cracked open, the time is now to support fresh perspectives and set the central eastside on a new course. Their next budget is likely to be around $1.5 million. How it gets spent will be decided by whoever shows up.

If you live or work or ride or own a business in the central eastside, please step up and make your voice heard.

CEIC Transportation & Parking Open House
Thursday, April 26th from 4:30 to 7:00 pm
Portland Night Market (100 SE Alder Street)
(More info here)

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

Additional reporting for this story by Michael Andersen.

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Springwater, Esplanade among popular paths that face hurdles in Parks Bureau budget

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 07:58

The mighty Eastbank Esplanade is showing its age and needs a maintenance funding boost.
(Photo: J. Maus)

The Portland Parks & Recreation bureau is bracing for budget cuts that could have a significant impact to marquee paths citywide.

The City Budget Office has recommended a reduction of $2.1 million from the Parks budget. “This level of cuts,” the Bureau said in a blog post last month, “will significantly impact our programs.”

There are two line items in the budget advocates are focusing on: One of them would slash funding for path maintenance; the other would offer a much-needed boost for the beloved Eastbank Esplanade.

Key budget process dates
  • April 30th: Mayor releases budget
  • May 10th: Public hearing at City Hall
  • May 16th: Council action to adopt budget (after more public testimony)

–> More info here

Completed in 2001, the Esplanade is nearing its 20th birthday. The path is a crucial part of the bike network as it provides the safest — and in some cases, most direct — north-south access between the Lloyd Center and the Central Eastside. Parks has requested $500,000 in “one-time” funding from the General Fund and an additional yearly boost of $250,000. Not only do the aging structures need continued scheduled maintenance, but Parks says the impact of illegal camping sites along the path have diverted existing funds from other uses.

Here’s the salient snip from the budget (from Package (PK) 32 on page 32):

Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade Maintenance Reboot – $500,000 General Fund One-Time and $250,000 General Fund Ongoing Addition

For the past few years, there have been an increasing number of homeless camps and illegal structures, as well as more debris piling up in various locations along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Increased traffic along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade has required maintenance crews to devote more time than usual removing materials from numerous camp sites along the riverbank (Steel Bridge to Hawthorne Bridge), and as a result, neglecting basic park maintenance responsibilities such as horticulture.
One-time funding is requested to fund specific work on maintenance needed on the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. The work would include General Fund one-time support for limited-term staff, installing vandal-proof lighting, staff support to improve landscaping, irrigation, deteriorating walkways, and overall degradation of facilities. Ongoing funding is requested for two Ranger positions to patrol the area and help to reduce vandalism and homelessness activity, and staff to support increased cleanup and maintenance.
Expected Results: The Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade is one the most utilized trails in PP&R’s system. Recent trail counts indicated over 400 users per hour near the Burnside Bridge crossing. This proposal could have significant impact for improving users’ experience as well as an investment towards reducing long-term maintenance needs.

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The Columbia Slough Trail is an absolute gem that could use some maintenance love.

The other item in the budget we’re following is PK 19, the “Regional Trails Service Reduction.” This item would take $52,000 out of the annual Parks budget that’s currently used to do standard upkeep and maintenance on all of our regional paths. Here are the details from the budget:

PK 19 Regional Trails Service Reduction – ($52,000) Ongoing Reduction

This reduction package reduces park maintenance services for all the regional trails:

    • Springwater Trail
    • Columbia Slough Trail
    • Willamette Greenway Trail
    • Waud Bluff Trail
    • Peninsula Crossing Trail
  • Specific reductions and elimination of service include:

    • Closing the parking lot and trailhead restroom at SE 45th/Johnson Creek Boulevard (Springwater)
    • Reducing maintenance activities (litter pick-up), sign replacements and repairs, vegetation pruning and general inspection from four times per month to 1-2 times per month.
    • Reducing repairs of damaged pavement surfaces
    • Eliminating garbage cans along regional trails and in all natural areas
    • Reduction in reporting and cleaning homeless camps
  • Parks says the latest user counts (from Metro) taken in September 2017 show that there are over 30,000 people who walk and roll on these paths. “The regional trails system has been impacted significantly by Portland’s increasing homeless population,” they state in their budget. “This proposal would further limit our ability to maintain the regional trails system and respond to impacts from campers.”

    The good news is we still have a chance to influence the budget. Bureaus have already submitted their budgets and now Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Council members are hearing from the public at a series of hearings. Between now and April 30th, Wheeler will draft his budget. May 10th has been set as a public hearing in City Hall.

    If you rely on these paths and want to keep them safe and smooth, please speak up about these budget items. Use the City Budget Office online comment form and send an email to Mayor Wheeler via his website.

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

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    Event spurs local momentum for participatory budgeting

    Tue, 04/17/2018 - 15:46

    The event brought in experts to explain how it all works.
    (Photo: Sarah Iannarone)

    This story was written by Portlander Jim Labbe, a co-organizer of the event.

    Last Saturday over 100 people from around the region gathered at the Rosewood Initiative in East Portland for an event that could have significant implications for government budgeting in the region — including the allocation of transportation funds.

    The one day, “Community Forum: Bringing Participatory Budgeting to the Portland Region” brought together diverse community leaders, elected officials, and local government staff to learn about participatory budgeting (PB) and explore its implementation in the region.

    A critical first step is a decision by elected officials to share real power over real money with their constituents.

    Participatory budgeting started in Brazil in the late-1980s and has since spread to over 3,000 municipalities worldwide including dozens in the United States (beginning with a Chicago ward in 2009). In the last 3 years PB has launched in Seattle and Victoria with Vancouver BC and Tacoma planning PB projects for 2018. While PB varies around the world, a common feature is a binding community vote on publically-funded projects brainstormed by the community and developed by volunteer budget delegates working with local government staff.

    A critical first step is a decision by elected officials to share real power over real money with their constituents.

    Until recently, no elected official had suggested trying PB in Oregon. But in a March 2016 mayoral debate, then candidate Ted Wheeler, proposed bringing “New York City’s style” of participatory budgeting to Portland. The proposal barely got notice at the time. But in early 2017 a small group of people from Portland and Gresham began an organizing effort that led to Saturday’s event.

    During the morning session, Forum participants heard from five guest speakers.

    • Boise State University professor and researcher Brian Wampler introduced PB and provided a global and historical perspective on its spread.
    • Seattle Youth Commissioners Becky Scurlock and Jess Juanich shared stories and inspiration from a $700,000 youth-based PB process called Youth Voice, Youth Choice launched in 2015.
    • Seattle Department of Neighborhoods staff Amy Nguyen presented information on Seattle’s subsequent “Your Voice, Your Choice – Parks & Streets” PB process which, in its second year, will allow residents to directly allocate $3 million in park and street capital improvements this year.
    • Greensboro North Carolina City Councilor Jamal Fox shared the experience of Greensboro and provided the perspective of an elected official who successfully championed the first PB process in the South.

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    (Photo: Robin Teater)

    Over lunch and into the afternoon, Forum participants broke into groups to share ideas and deliberate on bringing PB to the Portland region. Afternoon conversation groups covered numerous topics including, “Equity in PB design & outreach,” “PB in Schools/for Youth,” “PB for Parks & Greenspaces,” and “PB for Transportation Funds.”

    “I’m curious how devolving some funding decisions to the community level might shift transportation resources toward smaller, more diffuse and human scale projects that improve safety and mobility for the many — rather than mega-projects heavily promoted by a few and influential parties.”
    — Jeff Mandel

    North Portland resident Jeff Mandel attended with a particular interest in how this new way of allocating resources might be applied to transportation funding. Asked about his involvement, Mandel said, “I’m curious how devolving some funding decisions to the community level might shift transportation resources toward smaller, more diffuse and human scale projects that improve safety and mobility for the many — rather than mega-projects heavily promoted by a few and influential parties.”

    And Sarah Iannarone, a former candidate for Portland mayor, was also there. “Budgets are the cornerstones of democratic policymaking, yet their processes are often confusing and exclusionary, informed as much by backroom dealing as public input,” she shared with BikePortland via email today. “I could see us piloting the process in a major transportation project/bond measure or even using it to develop a robust regional mobility equity plan including everything from decongestion pricing to town center parking policies. We have the techniques for civic engagement and the technology to support us, all we really lack is the political will.”

    The afternoon also included real-time voting on how and where to first bring participatory budgeting to the region. Participants favored starting participatory budgeting with students or youth and using available discretionary funds at the neighborhood or city-level. Most favored goals related to equity and social justice as well as making public participation more meaningful and accessible to foster new leaders.

    Groups with representatives at the event included: OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Audubon Portland, Pueblo Unido PDX , Unite Oregon, the Rosewood Initiative, Gresham Coalition of Neighborhoods, and other neighborhood and community advocacy groups. Government staff and elected officials attended from a variety of local jurisdictions and individual bureaus including Metro, City of Portland, TriMet, Prosper Portland, Metro, Multnomah County, City of Wilsonville, City of Milwaukie, and Rockwood Water PUD, among others.

    The forum was organized by volunteers, hosted by local-nonprofits Healthy Democracy and the Rosewood Initiative, and funded by the City of Portland, Oregon Community Foundation, City of Gresham, Metro and Multnomah County.

    If you’re interested in next steps and want to learn more, visit HealthyDemocracy.org.

    — Jim Labbe

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