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Updated: 5 hours 29 min ago

Opinion: Better Naito has ended in the worst way

8 hours 46 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

10 hours 50 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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Weekend Event Guide: Harvest Century, Sunday Parkways, Ninkrossi, and more

11 hours 39 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!

12 hours 53 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

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

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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Rally shows support for protected bikeways and a permanent Better Naito

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

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

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?

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

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

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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Portland Police deploy canine, air support units to chase down bike thief

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 10:31

Good girl Utzi!
(Photo: PPB)

On Friday evening we learned what great lengths the Portland Police Bureau will go to retrieve a bicycle.

It happened around 6:00 pm in northeast Portland when someone reported that a child’s bike had been taken from the front lawn of a house on the 5500 hundred block of NE Simpson Street.

The suspect was seen walking away with the bike and didn’t stop after several neighborhood kids asked him to return it. Here’s how the ensuing chase unfolded, according to the PPB statement:

Arriving officers obtained the subject description and learned from the family members that the subject might have boarded a TriMet bus with the stolen bike.

Officers were able to locate the correct bus. Officers observed a child’s blue bike matching the victim description, mounted on the bus bike rack. Officers flagged down the bus driver, who confirmed that a male subject matching the suspect’s description was inside the bus.

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As officers attempted to contact the subject, he disobeyed their verbal commands and ran off the bus into the neighborhood. Officers started a foot pursuit of the subject, and then set up a perimeter as they lost a visual of the subject.

With the help of the Portland Police Canine Member “Utzi” and Air Support One, officers were able to locate the subject a few blocks away hiding in thick bushes. They placed the subject into custody without incident.

The suspect was arrested and put in jail and is now facing charges of Theft in the Second Degree and Attempt to Elude on Foot.

As for the bike? It was returned to the girl’s family.

While any dramatic stolen bike rescue is worth sharing here on BikePortland, we still can’t get over the fact that the PPB deployed their Air Support Unit! To track down a bike thief!

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

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Drone video spotlights Sellwood’s new bike traffic circle

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 10:06

Still from drone footage of traffic circle on SE Milwaukie.
(Photo/video: Ted Timmons)

Our story about the City of Portland’s new traffic circle on SE Milwaukie and Mitchell spurred a robust conversation about its strengths and weaknesses. New drone footage (below) sheds more light on how it works.

Many readers feel the circle is over-engineered and circle portion is too small and narrow.

“Cyclists can easily handle navigating around each other,” wrote Clicky Freewheel, “all this roundabout does is limit the amount of space given to cyclists and creates a very tight turn for no good reason other than ‘it looks cool’.”

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Oliver wrote: “Who’s in charge of this stuff? Stop making infrastructure to slow cyclists down, this is like the irritating 90 degree turns that are showing up everywhere.”

Others think it’s a major safety improvement.

“I live nearby to this and have ridden this section of Milwaukie to access the Springwater as part of my daily commute for over 10 years,” Otis chimed in. “While I agree the overall design has flaws, it’s a massive improvement over the previous scenario, and leads to a far safer crossing situation for most users.”

To help deepen our understanding of this new piece of infrastructure, friend of the blog Ted Timmons captured some excellent drone footage. It shows several people riding through the circle and approaching it from different angles. Hopefully the comment thread and this video give PBOT more solid feedback they can in projects going forward.

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

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The Monday Roundup: E-bike dangers, fake helmets, all-powerful Bike Lobby, and more

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 09:22

Thank you!

This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by the Harvest Century coming September 23rd. It’s the last organized ride of the season, and with four route choices, there’s something for the entire family. Get 15% off registration when you use “BIKEPORTLAND18” code at checkout.

Here are the most noteworthy items we were introduced to in the past seven days…

Bike lobby strikes again: Framed around a project that looks a lot like Better Naito, advocates for better cycling in Baltimore have struck fear into the heart of Fortune magazine editor Rush Loving Jr.

JSK in Detroit: None other than lauded former NYC DOT Commish-turned-consultant Janette Sadik-Khan was in the Motor City last week to celebrate that city’s new transportation plan. And it’s really good.

Bike share sabotage: Someone cut brake cables on a Lime bike in Seattle and it led to an injury crash.

E-bikes and safety: I’ve been concerned about e-bike safety for years now and it seems my fears are warranted based on this story in The Guardian about a woman who was hit and killed by an e-bike rider in London.

Resiliency emergency: Another hurricane season, another reminder that our over-reliance on driving cars and trucks is making our cities more dangerous.


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Universal Basic Mobility: Or UBM for short, is the transportation form of Universal Basic Income — says Alex Roy in this persuasive essay.

E-bike skeptic: Dutch cycling expert David Hembrow has attracted scorn for his take on a recent study he says proves, “Riding e-bikes does not lead to health benefits.”

Epic cover art: Check the fantastic illustration by Cecilia Granata on the cover of Microcosm’s latest book: Dragon Bike: Fantastical Stories of Bicycles, Feminism, & Dragons.

It worked for Vancouver (BC): France has announced a $410 million plan to boost cycling rates ahead of the 2024 Olympics.

Congestion not the bogeyman: Streetsblog reports on a new study from the Bay Area that shows people who live close-in where roads are more congested, still have better access to jobs than those who live in relatively traffic-free suburbs.

Fake helmets: Stoked you found such a great price on a new, brand-named lid? Better make sure it’s not a counterfeit.

Thanks to everyone who flagged stories for us this week!

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

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The post The Monday Roundup: E-bike dangers, fake helmets, all-powerful Bike Lobby, and more appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Pressure builds on City of Portland to keep Better Naito in place

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 10:02

Better Naito, shown here during its launch back in May, has been a big success. Its biggest supporters have been PBOT staff and elected officials. So, why take it down?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Two of Portland’s transportation reform advocacy groups are ratcheting up their opposition to the City of Portland’s plans to tear down the Better Naito project at the end of next week.

“Better Naito is a critical link in the active transportation network and should remain installed year-round.”
— Bike Loud PDX

Nearing the end of its fourth year as a temporary reconfiguration of Naito Parkway, the project gives walkers and rollers much more room to operate on a crucial north-south link along Waterfront Park.

Both Bike Loud PDX — the grassroots, all-volunteer group that celebrated its fourth birthday this week — and the venerable Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance), have taken action to save the project.

Bike Loud Co-chairs Emily Guise and Catie Gould laid out the group’s argument in a letter (PDF) sent to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Nick Fish, Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman yesterday:

“Better Naito is a critical link in the active transportation network and should remain installed year-round… Spending time and resources each year to remove and re-install Better Naito is a poor use of our limited transportation funds. The $350,000 approved by City Council in 2017 gets chipped away at each year at the expense of maintenance or other projects. It is counter intuitive that at the same time we are seeking major investments to improve our active transportation network in the downtown core that we are spending funding to remove part of that network each fall…

By 2035, we are planning on 80% of commute trips to or from the district being made outside of Single Occupancy Vehicles (as adopted by the Central City 2035 Plan.) We will not be able to create these shifts in how Portlanders get around if we continue to remove the most popular Central City bike route each year.

BikeLoudPDX urges the City of Portland to keep Better Naito installed year round until a permanent design can be implemented… A year round installation would provide real data on winter usage and travel impacts to all modes that can be used to inform a decision on the permanent design.”

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Over 100 people stood in the middle of Naito during a protest against its removal last year.
(Photo: Better Block PDX)

Bike Loud points to a 2017 PBOT traffic study that showed people were twice as likely to ride a bike on Better Naito than on the crowded Waterfront Park path. The city’s bike count also showed 3,000 – 4,000 bike trips per day on Naito at Ankeny and Salmon, “making it by far the most heavily used bicycle facility in the Central City,” Bike Loud notes.

And The Street Trust has announced a ride and rally this coming Tuesday (9/18) at 5:00 pm. Here’s the description:

“The Better Naito protected bikeway season will end September 22. Show your appreciation for this safe and convenient route! Meet up at 5 p.m. At 5:30 ride the length of the protected bikeway, then head over the Hawthorne Bridge to the Central City in Motion open house at OMSI where you can share your priorities for bike and pedestrian improvements with PBOT. Priorities like a permanent protected bikeway on SW Naito Parkway!”

When Better Naito was torn down last year, over 100 concerned Portlanders formed a human-protected bike lane to convey its importance.

This past May, Mayor Wheeler expressed his desire to permanently reconfigure Naito by commissioning a study on the potential design options and costs. The price tag came out to $4 million and the proposal has become project 17 of the Central City in Motion plan. Similar to the position of Bike Loud PDX this week, Better Block (the group that initiated the Better Naito concept in 2015) and other activists panned the study and said waiting for such a large project to materialize didn’t make sense when a good solution has already been tested.

At this point it’s unclear what the immediate future of Better Naito is. Current PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly is new to the job of overseeing the bureau and isn’t prepared to comment on it yet. PBOT is unlikely to make such a major policy shift without cover from City Hall — especially as long as the Portland Business Alliance remains on record as being staunchly opposed to it.

Stay tuned.

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

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My neighbors actually showed up! Maybe it was just the free ice cream

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 08:03

50 people showed up to our neighborhood park to talk with each other about the project.
(Photos: Kiel Johnson)

This is the conclusion to Kiel Johnson’s grassroots effort to talk to more of his neighbors about a transportation project. Don’t miss part one and part two.

After three days of knocking on doors inviting our neighbors to an ice cream social to discuss the proposed Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway, it was time to find out if anyone would actually show up.

“Over 50 neighbors came out… The lack of intensity in the conversations was a welcome contrast to the passion that can fill a PBOT open house.”

Our goal was to create a low-stress environment for neighbors to meet each other and talk about the City of Portland’s proposal to turn 7th Avenue into a traffic-calmed neighborhood greenway. My wife Kate and I loaded up a cargo trailer with tables, a PA system, signs and name tags, and headed over to Two Plum Park.

With only 30 minutes until the scheduled starting time, we nervously began setting up.

Two Plum Park is located on NE Shaver and 7th. Under the proposed 7th Ave plan the park would be extended across 7th. There would be a path for bicycle riders, but car drivers would not be able to cut through. This park is very important to the community. It began when a neighbor named Joe Martin bought a lawn mower at Goodwill and began mowing the lawn on some vacant lots. Other neighbors joined and the lots became a social gathering spot. These neighbors then persuaded the city to purchase the lots and turn them into a park in 2001. This history and the potential to expand the park as part of the greenway made it the ideal location for our ice cream social.

As if on cue, right at 7:00, families started appearing. Kate took to serving up the ice cream and I went around welcoming people and encouraging them to get name tags.

For Kate and I, the evening was a rush. At the beginning I made an announcement telling people about what led up to this event and what we were all here to do. Over 50 neighbors came out to meet each other and discuss the proposal. There were a lot more people then we had hoped for.

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Maybe it was just the free ice cream.

The lack of intensity in the conversations was a welcome contrast to the passion that can fill a Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) open house. I had several copies of the proposed plans that people used in their conversations and also made a list of question prompts. The most amazing thing for me was that it actually worked. People ate ice cream and talked with each other about the proposal. No one cried, no one wrote any angry messages, but there were lots of kids playing and people being friendly to one another. People stayed out until the sun went down and the mosquitos came out. That evening, a community gathered.

I talked with one mother who was very nervous because she had just started letting her daughter walk to school by herself. She introduced us to her daughter so that we could keep a eye out for her. Another couple had just moved in from Philadelphia and were loving Portland. Kate talked to one woman who was ready to build her own speed bump in front of her house. People expressed their concerns about climate change and that we were not doing enough to stop it. There were a few people that had come a little hesitant about what these changes would do but after talking they seemed okay and even excited about them.

Felix and his dad Roberto.

This next part has nothing to do with the project, but I just have to share it:

On the invite I included an invitation to teach anyone how to ride a bike and offered to let them borrow one. I got one response. Felix, who lives down the street from me, was a little nervous about riding a bike in from of his classmates at school. So I removed some cobwebs from a loaner kid’s bike I had used during my bike train days and met him and his dad at the park. We first practiced with the pedals off but he quickly mastered that, so we put them back on and had him start from an incline. On his first try he got his feet on the pedals and starting pedaling! He only stopped to raise his fist in the air in triumph.

I can only hope this greenway project ends as well.

As conversations continued, the question I repeatedly heard was, “What more can we do now?”

The answer is to continue to get to know one another and work at making the community that we all want to live in, as well as emailing and writing letters to PBOT Commissioner Eudaly.

In December our first child will be born. It is my hope that she will get to ride her bike safely on a NE 7th greenway to get to Two Plum Park. If she’s lucky maybe she’ll pass by Felix on his bike going to high school.

If you support the NE 7th Greenway you can help us by writing a letter to Commissioner Eudaly. Her address is below…

Hint hint.

— Kiel Johnson (@go_by_bike)

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Jobs of the Week: Cento, HGNR/Dumonde Tech, Alta Planning + Design

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 06:43

Here are our latest job listings.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> eCommerce Manager (plus more) – Cento Cycling

–> National Inside Sales and Customer Service – HGNR/Dumonde Tech

–> Web Developer – Alta Planning + Design

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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. Learn more at our Job Listings page.

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

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The creations of ‘Fiets of Strength’ builder Jake Ryder

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 13:28

Ryder uses his customers’ existing bikes to build his distinctive cargo creations.
(Photos: James Buckroyd)

You may have seen Jake Ryder’s creations via J_ryde on Instagram, ogled the cyclocross images he shoots as Sellwood Cycles’ official photog, or heard his name from a friend who is into Zoobomb or freak bikes. Either way, Jake is a multi-talented maker who has carved a niche based on his unique perspective on cycling.

I visited his shop in southeast Portland recently to learn a bit more about him.

We first talked with Jake when he was first settling in to the Portland bike scene. He moved to Portland nine years ago from Seattle, where he refined his skills in sculpture and furniture fabrication. He also discovered an interest in bikes. Originally from Washington state with a degree in Graphic Design and Sculpture, Jake worked for many years as a metalsmith and glass artist, and spent some time in corporate design jobs — all while soaking up the Seattle cycling scene. Several years later Jake has developed a unique, bike-centric viewpoint and business that has resonated with Portland.

As with many other local creators, Jake has many passions that he transposes into his final bicycles. He take aspects of cycling, freak bikes, sculpture, sustainability, glasswork, metalsmithing, and woodwork — then smashes them all together with a dollop of status-quo-challenger attitude.

Jake has designed and crafted bespoke pieces of furniture from steel, glass and wood for 20 years, but his passion shines when you get him to talk about his bike creations. From uber-utility to uber-freak — and combinations of both — Jake has challenged normal bike perceptions with geometric designs that look radically different, yet are joyful to ride and have amazing handling qualities.

The funky looking Ba-Donk-a-Donk challenges normality of bicycles and creates conversations and interest because of it’s different aesthetic, yet it’s fun to ride in a booty-shaking way.

Ryder’s Humuhauler, a conversion that used a Kona Humuhumu and has seating for two kiddos, is for sale for $3,950.

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A Zoobombfiets.
(Photo: Jake Ryder)

This customer wanted more room to carry her beloved pooch.
(Photo: Jake Ryder)

From his shop in southeast Portland, Jake designs and crafts bikes that often start with old bicycles from his customers’ basements; bikes which were perhaps treasured racing steeds or that hold special memories. Working with the customer to determine the exact solution, he transforms their old bikes into cargo bikes or functional works of art, depending on their needs. A fresh breath of life is brought to an often loved, or otherwise unused item.

“People’s lives change, families grow and steel bikes allow you to reuse them, add on, modify and extend the life. This expression has carried through from Zoobomb bikes to utility cargo bikes.”

Jake has found that having a variety of hands-on skills, and a mind that can think in design terms, has allowed him to offer bikes that you’d never find at a regular bike shop or be able to afford from a traditional custom bike maker. His customers enjoy the collaboration and creation of an item that is unique and offers a great story, whether an attitude-changing art piece or a new family cargo hauler.

Jake takes on all kinds of fabrication projects, from architectural railings to truck racks, many of which can be found on his Instagram or website, FietsofStrength.com.

— James Buckroyd, @jbucky1 on Twitter and Instagram, and BuckyRides.com

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