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Updated: 2 hours 44 min ago

Momentum builds for carfree river ferry service between Portland and Vancouver

5 hours 10 min ago

Susan Bladholm, president of Frog Ferry, at the Oregon Transportation Commission this morning.

The ‘Frog Ferry’ has taken a major leap forward this week. The passenger ferry concept is making its first major public debut with media coverage and a spot on the agenda at today’s meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission (the governor-appointed body that sets transportation policy for the State of Oregon).

Spearheading the effort is Susan Bladholm, a former director of Cycle Oregon and corporate marketing professional who spent 10 years each with Business Oregon and the Portland of Portland. Bladholm has spent two years researching and building support for her plan to establish a ferry service on the Willamette River that would shuttle customers between Lake Oswego and Vancouver.

Flanked by Portland Spirit Owner Dan Yates and Metro Project Manager Chris Ford (fresh of his win as project manager for the SW Corridor, which was approved by Metro Council last night), Bladholm said, “It’s time for a new mode of transportation to be introduced.”

From a presentation by Frog Ferry.

Potential stops.

“The heavy lift is bringing in the infrastructure and changing the culture,” she continued. “Just like cycling. Now we have cyclists all over the place; but way back when our shoulders weren’t all that wide or very clean, and we didn’t have cyclists. Infrastructure was needed.”

Far from just a pie-in-the-sky idea, Bladholm (whose bio says, “she has staffed five governors”) can boast of having 450 supporters lined up behind her. She’s met with dozens of agency staff and was personally introduced to ODOT management by Director Matt Garrett. The Frog Ferry has support from major power brokers in Portland politics and river interests including the Port of Portland, Port of Vancouver, Zidell Companies, Working Waterfront Coalition, Vigor Industrial, Travel Oregon, City of Portland (Mayor Ted Wheeler), Portland Business Alliance, Central Eastside Industrial Council, and Daimler Trucks North America.

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The name and logo artwork comes from Chinook myth.

Metro likes the idea too. Ford told commissioners today that, “We’re encouraged to see the private sector exploring climate-friendly transportation options that recognize a sense of place.” (The
“Frog” part of the name is based on Chinook mythology.) Ford said the 2018 Metro Regional Transportation Plan includes the ferry concept, which gives it, “A hall pass for further study.”

The idea of a water ferry was also the subject of a 2006 City of Portland study as part of the River Renaissance initiative. One key barrier cited back then was the lack of terminals and dock facilities and the high cost to built them. That’s why strong private sector interest makes the Frog Ferry concept different.

According to Frog Ferry documents, the concept would include seven stops between Vancouver and Lake Oswego, with future plans that could add more stops and extend the service to Camas, Troutdale, and St. Helens. The service would target commuters, errand-runners, tourists, and people in emergencies. “When and if the big earthquake happens we’ll have more vessels to move people around when all the bridges come crumbling down,” Yates said today.

Estimates of use and trip times are still approximate, but a presentation shows the trip between Rose Quarter and Vancouver taking 25 minutes. Lake Oswego to Vancouver would be 41 minutes. To drive the 20 miles between Lake Oswego or the Rose Quarter to Vancouver would take around an hour or 30 minutes respectively during typical commute traffic.

The ferries themselves would fit about 149 people and would have room for bikes. Bladholm told the OTC today that that equates to taking 500 cars off the roads, based on Columbia River Crossing project research that found 67% of I-5 auto traffic that crosses the Columbia River is single-occupancy.

To further understand the costs and benefits of the project, Frog Ferry backers are asking the State of Oregon to help fund a $650,000 feasibility study.

From Frog Ferry presentation.

“Rather than saying it’s too hard or too expensive,” Bladholm said today, “let’s be informed. let’s be curious, rather than say we simply can’t do it.” And Portland Spirit owner Dan Yates put it bluntly after expressing his dislike of government delays and regulations. “I’m willing to buy the first boat, but you guys have to do the study.”

Yates added that he envisions a system of 16 electric ferries that would ideally be have to be tightly integrated into the TriMet and Streetcar systems.

When commissioners had a chance to respond, OTC Chair Tammy Baney said, “I am floored by the passion behind it.”

Commissioner Alando Simpson also expressed support of the project, saying, “I think it’s a very realistic and practical concept.” Simpson also said he was concerned he didn’t see any representation from environmental justice advocates in Frog Ferry documents. “You’re going to have to figure out how you tap into those constituent bases,” he advised.

Frog Ferry’s timeline says they want to launch in 2020. That doesn’t seem likely, but I wouldn’t doubt Bladholm. She has the experience, skills, and connections to make this work. “We’re doing our part,” she told the OTC this morning, “Now we’re asking agencies to step up and help us.”

Learn more at FrogFerry.com.

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

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Central City in Motion plan adopted by Portland city council with 3-0 vote

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 17:28

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s time for Portland to build more efficient streets downtown where walkers and bicycle riders can get around without fearing for their life. And to make it happen, we need to move forward with the Central City in Motion plan and more people need to stop driving cars.

That was the message newly-appointed Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly shared at Thursday’s city council hearing. Commissioner Eudaly made activist hearts flutter when she opened the meeting with a speech that set a strong tone that helped pass the plan with flying colors in a vote of 3-0 (two commissioners were absent). Eudaly’s tone throughout was “Blumenauer-like” one source told me after the meeting, referring to U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served as PBOT commissioner in the 1990s when our city put itself on the map as a leader in bicycling, walking, and transit.

Recounting her experience being stuck in Hawthorne Bridge traffic next to a TriMet bus, in her opening speech Eudaly said Portland needs to encourage incentives and disincentives so people, “Change their deeply engrained behaviors and their cherished traditions — namely to not drive their single occupancy vehicles [into downtown].” She also promised that no public funds would be spent on auto parking garages and that the city is current “over-investing” in east Portland, pushing back against any claims that central city investment is not equitable (an issue that has plagued bikeway investments in the past).

Even without Mayor Ted Wheeler in attendance (he’s had a very rough 24 hours) Eudaly urged the council to vote on the plan instead of delaying it, as often happens at first readings of new ordinances. She said it’s already taken six years to get to this point where 18 projects are vetted and ready-to-go. “We need to adopt this plan today,” she said, “to move forward with any of them.”

After a presentation by PBOT staff, other commissioners had the chance to ask questions.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz, known for being a walking advocate, wanted assurances from PBOT that protected bikeways wouldn’t create stressful conditions for people on foot. Fritz also asked why PBOT chose SW Broadway and 4th for the marquee cycling couplet instead of 5th and 6th (a.k.a. the transit mall). It’s likely Fritz asked about this because taking drivers off the transit mall is something the Portland Business Alliance has advocated for (instead of Broadway and 4th).

PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff was ready for the question.

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PBOT slide makes a very simple argument.

He described engineering challenges like access to major hotels that open onto 5th and 6th and landlocked buildings that use the transit mall for garbage service and other deliveries. “And there are political challenges,” Graff added, “The property owners that paid into the LID [local improvement district] that constructed the [transit] mall were promised continuous vehicular access.” Then Commissioner Fritz interjected, “And we don’t want to break promises.”

“Today we can begin a new era of Portland leadership in green and efficient transportation.”
— Catie Gould, Bike Loud PDX vice-chair

There were several panels of people invited to testify — and most of them echoed Eudaly’s call for action. A TriMet rep said they want the transit priority projects built, “As quick as we can.” Many people pushed for all 18 projects to be completed in the first 1-5 years, if not sooner.

Emily Barrett, a board member for The Street Trust, told stories about how friends won’t bike downtown because it’s unsafe. “I don’t want this to be a brave choice,” she said.

Clint Culpepper, transportation options manager for Portland State University, said a permanent protected bikeway on SW Broadway “is overdue”. He added that they’ve seen student driving rates increase, “Because of the lower level of comfort and safety bicycle riders feel in the central city.”

Bike Loud PDX Vice-chair Catie Gould (who, in a mark of respect for the grassroots group, was invited by PBOT to testify) told council it’s time for Portland to stop resting on its laurels. “Pent up demand for safe and efficient transportation alternatives mean that bold actions can lead to meaningful results,” she said. “Today we can begin a new era of Portland leadership in green and efficient transportation.”

“I like protected bikeways… They’re important to get people like me to ride. I won’t ride because I’m too afraid, and there are a lot of people like that.”
— Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Gary Cobb, community outreach coordinator with Central City Concern, a homeless services organization, said the W Burnside project was especially needed for their clients. “We urge you to move forward with this plan.. With 6,000 low-income patients and 600 residents at our building, that part of Burnside is important for us for safety and mobility.”


When it was time for public testimony, there was strong support for the plan — as well as major concerns from business owners and their advocates. And a rep from PBOT’s own Freight Advisory Committee requested more analysis of trucking impacts.

There was a nearly united front from freight and central eastside business interests that the proposed protected bikeways on NE/SE 7th Avenue should be moved to 6th. PBOT prefers 7th because it’s direct, wide enough to support a quality bikeway, and it connects much better to the rest of the network (including the forthcoming carfree bridge over Sullivan’s Gulch). But reps from the Central Eastside Industrial Council and the PBOT Freight Committee want bikes off 7th and on 6th Avenue instead. With 6th marked as part of the future Green Loop they see think it’s “redundant” to have bikes on both.

There was a clear tension between those who see the central eastside as a current and future “industrial sanctuary” and those who feel the area is changing and needs to be planned for as a residential and retail destination. It seems Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT think it will become more like the Pearl District (Eudaly even referred to it as a “former industrial sanctuary”) and some business reps and Commissioner Fritz believe we need to dig in and preserve it as a heavy industry and manufacturing hub. In the end Fritz proposed an amendment to the ordinance that would “ensure freight and loading zone access for central eastside businesses.” Both Eudaly and PBOT supported it and agreed to continue to work on issues raised.

Yes we just adopted a plan that allows PBOT to create bike and transit lanes with space currently occupied by 1,000 parking spots.
(Graphic: PBOT)

Business representatives from northeast Broadway also expressed concerns over how new protected bike lanes and other changes would impact loading zones and customer access. The owners of Elephant’s Deli and Cotton Cloud futons said they would suffer if the projects were built. The owner of the futon shop on NE 7th and Broadway said, “If these things go through it will impact my business very strongly… we’d probably go out of business.” Elephant’s Deli owner said, “Losing the parking lanes and loading zones would be devastating.”

An employee of Modern Times Beer, located on SE Belmont between 6th and 7th also expressed concerns with the plan. He said their brewery has access doors on both streets and worries they’d be closed off if the project is built. He said he supports the goals of the plan, but that, “We need to ensure our ability to survive won’t be impacted.”

After they spoke and returned to their seats, PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff walked over and got their contact information — a very smart move that was surely seen by the commissioners.

Rina Jimmerson with the Central Eastside Industrial Council said the loss of 100 on-street parking spots along 7th Avenue would, “Disrupt our parking system.” Jimmerson added that PBOT hasn’t done enough outreach to businesses and that the projects would hurt workers who drive into the central eastside. “We’re not against bikes,” she said, “but this plan needs to remember the low-wage workers.”

After the ebullient start of the hearing, at this point it felt like the tide might be turning against the plan.

Then Jessica Engelman stepped up to the mic. Engelman is a dedicated transportation advocate who volunteers with Bike Loud PDX and lives in the central eastside. She said she signed up to testify late, specifically to respond to concerns that might have popped up. Anyone saying there hasn’t been enough outreach on this plan, “Has been living under a rock,” she said confidently, as she pointed out a list of previously adopted plans that the Central City in Motion plan would fulfill (and which she printed out and gave to the commissioners). When it comes to putting a bikeway on 6th instead of 7th, Engelman warned that would be a big mistake and would lead to the same problem we have now of bicycle riders trying to ride through the Waterfront Park path.

As for concerns from businesses on inner NE Broadway? “I don’t shop there because it’s a terrifying street,” Engelman said, “Maybe if we made it a little less terrifying you’d get more business and you wouldn’t have to close.”

The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler took a much different stance with her testimony than other advocates in the room. She appealed directly to commissioners and told them how her organization’s encouragement programs — like Women Bike, the Bike More Challenge, and others — would get people on bikes. “We want to be your partner to ensure that if these projects are built, they will be successful.” (The one-two punch between Bike Loud PDX leaders and volunteers and The Street Trust was really effective.)

With Mayor Wheeler absent and Commissioner Nick Fish having left for some reason during the hearing, and with concerns raises about business and parking impacts, it wasn’t clear that council would vote on the plan last night. But as persuasive testimony in favor of the plan piled up, and PBOT project staff confidently answered every question raised, the remaining three commissioners (which is enough for a quorum) decided the time to pass it was now.

PBOT infographic.

Prior to votes being called, Commissioner Eudaly offered a closing statement that caused several transportation advocates in the room to touch their hands to their hearts. She thanked biking activists for their work (calling several out by name) in making Portland a safer and easier place to ride and said, “For too long we’ve taken care of… car drivers. If it seems like we’re devoting a lot of time and money to walking and biking; we are. And it’s very necessary.” Saying that it’s “imperative” due to climate change, public healthy, safety, equity, and quality of life, Eudaly brushed aside driving concerns. “We can’t please everyone all the time.”

Then she went further, telling a story that cars with engines are relatively new to our streets and that, “For millennia before, streets served multiple purposes.” Citing the Critical Mass motto, Eudaly continued: “We are traffic. I have a motto for people who are single-occupant vehicle drivers frustrated while sitting in traffic. You are the congestion!”

After she voted “Aye,” Fritz and Saltzman gave their closing statements.

Fritz said the plan is “very important” and called herself a, “Huge pedestrian and transit advocate.” Then she added, while she herself doesn’t like to bike, because her son and his wife ride, “I’m also an avid cycling advocate.” She voted “Aye.”

And Saltzman, with just a few months left in his long tenure as a city commissioner, said, “I like protected bikeways a lot. They’re important to get people like me to ride. I won’t ride because I’m too afraid, and there are a lot of people like that… If we’re going to be successful to get our bicycling rates up, we need to overcome that.” He voted, “Aye.”

And the resolution passed. And there was much rejoicing — not just from the advocates in the room; but from the commissioners themselves, who, even after a long day seemed to appreciate a civil and productive meeting where something of great importance to our city moved forward with widespread support.

Great job everyone! This is a massive step forward for Portland.

Here’s a photo from Kiel Johnson after the meeting that shows just a small part of the dedicated advocates who worked to make this happen:

Heart emoji.
(Photo courtesy Kiel Johnson)

Helpful links for more info:
– Don’t miss our live-tweeting coverage thread which you can read here.
– Central City in Motion official city website.
Central City in Motion Implementation Plan (PDF, 27 MB)
Interactive map of all 18 projects.
– About funding: Of the $35 million needed to build the first phase projects, PBOT has: $8.3 million secured (federal grant and local gas tax); $16.7 million highly likely from TriMet ($5.5M) and System Development Charges ($11M). There’s still a $10 million or so gap to fill; but when you’ve got this much momentum and legwork done on a set of shovel-ready projects, money has a way of magically appearing. That said, we’ll need to fight hard to get more money to build this stuff.

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

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Guest post: ‘Pushing On’ along the Oregon Timber Trail

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 10:32

Karey Miles and Deann Garcia enjoying the fruits of their labor atop Winter Rim above Summer Lake.
(Photos courtesy Rebecca Hamilton/West Coast Women’s Cycling)

The Oregon Timber Trail – a new, 669-mile backcountry singletrack route that a rider can follow from the California border to the Columbia River – is a gem of an idea poised to become the definitive off-road cycling experience in Oregon.

Don’t miss the event this Saturday (11/17)!

And as a new trail that’s only two seasons old (it launched in 2017), it’s a gem that’s still a little rough around the edges.

“The Oregon Timber Trail is a new, unrefined route.” notes the OTT website helpfully, “and this guide is likely to be incorrect or lacking in some sections.”

Heartened by these encouraging words, four women from the West Coast Women’s Cycling team (Deann Garcia, Aliza Richman, Karey Miles, and Heather Van Valkenburg, along with Bill Garcia) set out to ride the trail from its southernmost terminus in Lakeview up to Oakridge, a 305-mile stretch that covered all of the Fremont section and about half of the Willamette section (the trail is conveniently separated into four “tiers” to make trip-planning easier).

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The gang at the California-Oregon border east of Lakeview. Left to right: Heather VanValkenburg, Aliza Richman, Deann Garcia, Karey Miles.

Feeling small in the expanse between Moss Pass and Paisley.
(Photo: Aliza Richman)

Day 1 was really “fun”. (Left to right) Bill Garcia, Deann Garcia, Karey Miles, and Aliza Richman take a breather at the highest elevation point on the trail — 8300-feet in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

“What’s a few miles of bushwhacking through overgrown manzanita bushes and some heatstroke in exchange for a chance to explore the wild and remote regions of our state?”

The website did not disappoint. In addition to the classic joys (stunning desert vistas, the occasional hot spring) and tribulations (punishing heat, sand, cows) of an Eastern Oregon bikepacking trip, the fledgling OTT had a few surprises.

But at the end of the day, what’s a few miles of bushwhacking through overgrown manzanita bushes and some light heatstroke in exchange for a chance to explore the wild and remote regions of our state? The OTT is a gateway to the seldom-seen corners of Oregon and worth getting out of your comfort zone for. The best part, said rider Deann Garcia, was “figuring out that it was possible for our bodies to handle it. Just powering through, feeling like your body was getting better and that you could ride forever… and knowing that you have friends who want to do this with you.”

Deann Garcia and her fully-loaded rig. Come to the event to learn how to get your bike packed and ready.

This Saturday, Nov. 17th, these intrepid women are hosting an event to share their stories and encourage others interested in embarking on an OTT trip of their own. They’ll show a 25-minute video of footage from the trail and then take your questions. They’ll also have their fully-loaded bikes with gear and packing lists to help riders set up their own rig.

And to make sure this trail keeps getting better and better for all of us, all proceeds of raffle sales will support the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance – the team of badass trail stewards who built the trail and do the hard work of maintaining it.

The Oregon Timber Trail: Pushing On
Saturday, Nov. 17th at 5 pm
Evolution Fitness (905 SE Ankeny)
Free – Beers are $2 (bring your own pint glass), Raffle tix are $1 each – all sales will be donated to the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance.

The event is open to all and should be especially useful for women/woman-identifying people who are interested in bikepacking and looking to meet like-minded peers. Hope to see you there!

— Rebecca Hamilton

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A little big shift: Portland can restripe 2% of roads for 60% more capacity

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 09:24

There could be a lot more buses and bikes in our future.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This is crossposted from the Sightline Institute. Michael Andersen is a former BikePortland news editor.

Central City in Motion hearing

2:00 pm today at City Hall

The proposal going before Portland City Council at 2 pm today would be the city’s most important biking infrastructure investment in 20 years, and its most important bus infrastructure investment in 40.

Just as importantly, it’d also make our streets work better, permanently.

The Central City in Motion plan avoids the false promise of bigger roads: 39 percent of the central city is already dedicated to street space, it notes. So, as Jonathan reported last month, it’s planning to dedicate an additional 1 percent of those central streets to bike lanes and another 1 percent to bus lanes.

That little shift in urban space, which would take the form of 18 street projects over the next 10 years, would boost the people-moving capacity of the affected streets by an average of 60 percent.

Image: City of Portland, based on figures by NACTO.

That’s based on calculations from the National Association of City Transportation Officials.  Need more proof? Ask TriMet, who just revealed that relatively tiny lane tweaks led to a significant decrease in delays on several lines.

Price tag: $72 million, or about the cost of a single mile of urban freeway.

“Just like a road network or a computer network, low-stress bikeways have little value to anyone until they’re connected to other low-stress bikeways.”

It’s worth noting that boosting the potential capacity of a street isn’t the same as getting people to use that potential by riding a bike or getting on a bus. And one potential risk of Portland’s current plan is that a big part of it—a connected lattice of low-stress bike lanes on Burnside, SW Broadway, SW 4th, NE/SE 7th, SW Madison, NW 14th, NW Everett, SW Salmon, SW Taylor, SE Hawthorne, NE Multnomah, NE Lloyd, Naito Parkway, NE Broadway, and NE Weidler —might not pay off much until the entire network is finished.

Just like a road network or a computer network, low-stress bikeways have little value to anyone until they’re connected to other low-stress bikeways.

Some cities—Vancouver, BC; Calgary, Alberta; Sevilla, Spain—have recently shown the power of installing a simple protected bike lane network all at once, with relatively cheap and adjustable materials, so transportation habits can shift quickly and everyone—voters, nearby businesses, politicians themselves—can see the payoff. It’s not clear whether or not Portland is planning to learn from that example as it builds its own network.

That said, the only way a city can truly fight traffic is to better use the street space that already exists. If Portland moves this plan forward, it’ll become the latest city to show the rest of the world how to fight congestion right, and allow more people to enjoy the blessings of the city.

— Michael Andersen, Sightline Institute

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I-205 path ‘booby trap’ suspects in court today face felony assault charges – UPDATED

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 13:43

Screen shot of coverage of the incident by The Oregonian.

Two of the three men arrested last week for stretching string across the I-205 bike path are set to make their first appearance in court today.

On Friday, November 9th, Portlander Carlene Ostedegaard was riding home from work on the path just south of the Division Street MAX station when she pedaled into what Portland Police described as a “booby trap.” She suffered laceration injuries on her face.

Police responded and were able to apprehend three men suspected of committing the crime: 23-year-old Justin J. Jones, 27-year-old Justin R. Tolman-Duran, and 21-year-old Dakota E. Murphy. On Tuesday (11/13) the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case.

DA’s Office Communications Director Brent Weisberg says following the investigation one of the men, Dakota Murphy, was issued a “no complaint”. The other two, Jones and Tolman-Duran, have been re-booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center and are now charged with one count each of felony assault in the third degree. Their initial booking was for misdemeanor assault.

The DA will issue a “no complaint” when they choose to not file charges upon initial screening. Weisberg said that doesn’t mean Murphy won’t be charged later after more investigations are completed.

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When we reported the story last week, many commenters jumped to the conclusion that the suspects were homeless and lived in a camp adjacent to the path. We published a guest opinion this morning from a reader who was “disturbed” by what he feels is “anti-houseless bigotry on BikePortland.” I asked Weisberg about the housing status of the men and he confirmed that both Tolman-Duran and Jones have reported residences in Vancouver, Washington and Portland respectively. (Murphy reported living “in a van”.)

Last night The Oregonian reported on court documents that reveal the men set up three sets of “snares using several lines of cord… in an attempt to ‘harass’ people living on the path.”

At court today, Tolman-Duran and Jones will be informed of the charges against them and their attorney will introduce themselves to the court. If they haven’t hired an attorney, one will be appointed for them. Also at today’s court hearing the DA will file the probable cause affidavit detailing the incident and their justification for bringing the felony assault charges. We’ll update this post once we receive that document.

UPDATE, 6:16 pm: The probable cause affidavit has been posted and the DA’s office has issued the following update:

State of Oregon vs Antonio Tolman-Duran was filed under Case No. 18CR75660.
State of Oregon vs Justin James Jones was filed under Case No. 18CR75663.

Both appeared in court this afternoon. A not guilty plea was entered on their behalf. Both had criminal defense attorneys appointed to them.

Both are charged with one count of assault in the third degree and three (3) counts of recklessly endangering another person.

The next court date for both individuals is Nov. 28, 2018 at 2:10 PM in the Justice Center, Courtroom 3. Both remain out of custody.

Here’s the key part of the affidavit detailing the incident and the charges:

Here’s a salient passage:

“When asked why they had put the string across the pathway… said they wanted to harass the transients in the area. Officer Miller spoke to suspects who said they wanted to ‘fuck with the homeless’ because ‘we don’t want them around here’.”

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

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Family Biking: Get ready for puddle season

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 10:46

Start ’em young…also, balance bikes have no drivetrain to douse with puddle water.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Puddle season is right around the corner, are you ready?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Officially, I believe one should always avoid puddles because you never know what’s hidden under the water. Unofficially, they’re really fun to ride through!

But seriously, puddles can contain sharp rocks that puncture tires or hide deep potholes that throw you over your handlebars when you enter them. Or if you lose momentum on your way through a big puddle and have to put your foot down: soaking wet foot.

Shallow puddles are fun!

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Sometimes puddles feel unavoidable, filling a depression across the whole bike lane or road. We cautiously ride through these sorts of puddles, lifting our feet to keep them dry, but it’s never a bad idea to backtrack and choose a drier street or take to the sidewalk to avoid unplumbed depths.

Sometimes the fun is in avoiding the puddles.

We encounter a lot of puddles on rainy days and without constant encouragement to avoid them, one of my kids aims at each and every one. Luckily my kids will usually listen to reason and skirt around those enticing day ruiners. Another trick I’ve used in the past is to stop and throw rocks or sail boats in puddles to scratch the itch. That said, we’ve had a few miserable day with cold, wet feet and “notes to self” to pack spare shoes and socks in the future.

Well. This felt unavoidable at the time, but I could have elected to use the sidewalk.

What are your thoughts on puddles? Have any horror stories to tips to share? Thanks for reading.

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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Guest opinion: I’m disturbed by anti-houseless bigotry on BikePortland

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 09:39

“Commenters on BikePortland used this incident as an excuse to take potshots at our unhoused neighbors.”
— Andrew Riley

This was written by Andrew Riley, an east Portland resident and longtime community organizer. He wrote this to me via email and gave me permission to post it as an opinion. — Jonathan

I’ve been reading the site since 2007. I’m writing as an East Portland resident, as a cyclist, and as someone who lives near several tent camps along I-205.

When the story on the I-205 “booby trap” was published, I was disturbed – but not surprised, to be honest – to see BikePortland commenters immediately blame houseless campers for this assault.

Literally the first comment on the post linked the two:

One commenter called for mass arrests of the unhoused so that they may be used as slave labor (per Oregon Measure 17) to clean up camps:

Another spread a rumor that the three assailants were unhoused, parroting what I presume is the Montavilla Initiative, a group of individuals in that neighborhood (where I used to reside) who blame every one of Montavilla’s problems on the unhoused:

Another commenter lightly echoes Trumpian rhetoric, arguing that we should “mak[e our] bike path useable again”:

Unfortunately, I could go on at length. Almost uniformly, commenters on BikePortland used this incident as an excuse to take potshots at our unhoused neighbors, which is common in just about any story mentioning 205, camps, or our houseless neighbors. The rhetoric borders on violent. And if you’d only read BikePortland, you’d come away with the clear conclusion that this was a case of unhoused individuals attacking a cyclist at random.

And then I read the Oregonian’s update about the assault this morning. What jumped out at me was the following:

The three assailants in this case were apparently attempting to harass unhoused campers. That suggests that Carlene Ostedgaard’s assault was a direct result of the same animus toward the unhoused that of your commenters share. It’s doubly disturbing, then, that BikePortland commenters chose to slander unhoused campers when they were the intended victims of this crime, and that there was precious little pushback to that narrative. You yourself have written many times about the ways in which violent rhetoric toward vulnerable road users can manifest in violent and unsafe behavior toward us, and I ask that you apply that same analysis to what your commenters are saying about the houseless.

I ask that you publish an update to that story, and perhaps use that update to reflect on why BikePortland is such a hotbed for aggressive rhetoric toward our unhoused neighbors; you could talk to folks like Street Roots, Right 2 Dream Too, or Dignity Village to get their impressions. If you’re unwilling or unable to do so, I ask that you print this email in full as an op-ed to BikePortland, as a counterpoint toward your commenters’ violent attitudes toward some of the most marginalized Portlanders.

Cheers and solidarity,

Andrew

——

UPDATE, 5:34 pm: I have blurred out the names of the commenters. Also, I want everyone to know that my intent in posting this was to show the community how the comments on the previous post were being heard by some people. I realize that some readers don’t appreciate that I’ve elevated Mr. Riley’s comments to the Front Page in this manner. < Please understand this is an extremely difficult topic to moderate (especially in 2018). I'm trying to move the conversation forward and I regret if this post set things back. I believe we need to be able to hear different perspectives and that more conversation is always better. Thank you. -- Jonathan

UPDATE: Don’t miss our latest story on the incident where I’ve reported an update from the DA’s office:

“When asked why they had put the string across the pathway… said they wanted to harass the transients in the area. Officer Miller spoke to suspects who said they wanted to “fuck with the homeless“ because “we don’t want them around here.”

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Former Portland bike builder Mitch Pryor loses home and shop in Camp Fire

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:32

Screen shot from GoFundMe page.

The Camp Fire that ravaged through the small town of Paradise, California burned through the shop of a former Portland bicycle builder.

Mitch Pryor and his MAP Bicycles burst onto the Oregon building scene in 2008. Less than a year later he took home Best City Bike honors at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

Mitch left Portland for Chico, California in 2012 to be closer to family. He had recently opened a shop nestled in the woods in Paradise. I haven’t heard directly from Mitch yet, but friends say his new home and shop were completely destroyed in the fire. He lost everything — parts, supplies, machines, tools — and escaped with only the clothes on his back.


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Mitch and one of his beautiful bicycles at the 2010 Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“Mitch told me he didn’t see his house go up,” wrote friend Chris Smitherman on a GoFundMe page set up to help him out, “but when he left his property embers were landing on his roof and trees were starting to catch fire.”

Another friend of his told us Mitch was in the process of returning to Portland. “The people that sweat to bring us beautiful bicycles typically barely squeak by and Mitch is no exception. And now this.” the friend wrote in an email.

If you’ve appreciated Mitch’s work and want to help him keep building bikes, consider dropping a few dollars into his fund.

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

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Advocates weigh in on Central City in Motion plan

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 11:41

Cover of PBOT’s newly published Central City in Motion Implementation Plan .

City Council will get its first chance to debate the Central City in Motion plan this Thursday.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) hopes commissioners will approve their list of 18 projects they say will vastly increase capacity of streets from the Pearl to the Lloyd, and from southwest to the central eastside. PBOT’s argument is that growth of our central city makes squeezing more efficiency out of our existing roads imperative — and we can only do that by making cycling and transit easier and faster.

But if this plan is to get through council it will need support from local transportation advocacy groups. Three in particular have watched this plan closely as it has taken shape over the past several years: Bike Loud PDX, The Street Trust, and Portlanders for Parking Reform.

Below is a taste of the tone you can expect from each group on Thursday…

Bike Loud PDX

In some ways the CCIM plan will be a coming-of-age for Bike Loud. The group has given PBOT extensive feedback on the project, culminating in a 20-page letter sent to the agency in September and an update on the plan from PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff at the group’s monthly meeting last week.

Here’s the testimony Bike Loud will share Thursday:

We strongly support the Central City in Motion (CCIM) Plan and urge Council to adopt it. For too many years, Portlanders have seen the cities around them initiate bold plans for improving walking, biking and public transit systems, while we rest on our accomplishments from previous decades. Our bicycle mode share is stuck at 6%, the same as it was in 2011, and our transit ridership continues to fall. Our policies and plans are still visionary, but we have not matched our words with action. Now, we have a chance to change that.

The CCIM plan alone will not solve these issues, but it is a strong step forward towards the city we want to live in: one that acts decisively in the face of climate change, that has clean air and safe streets in all neighborhoods, and moves people efficiently to, from, and around the central city. PBOT’s estimates show that with this plan the number of people walking, biking, or taking transit in the Central City will increase from 40% today to 60% by 2035, which would make substantial progress towards 85% goal set in the 2035 Transportation System Plan.

The world of transportation is changing quickly. The PBOT e-scooter pilot project has led to over 640,000 trips in just four months. When BIKETOWN and PBOT made our bikeshare system dockless and free in May 2018, riders traveled 162,252 miles – more than doubling usage from May 2017. These recent examples prove that the pent-up demand for safe and efficient transportation alternatives means bold actions by the City can lead to meaningful and immediate positive results. Making better roadways for these small light individual transport (LIT) devices, and the ones coming in the future is of the utmost urgency. We support the recommendation by the Bicycle Advisory Committee that all 18 projects be completed within the five year timeline.

During the implementation phase, we feel the best approach is to put these designs on our streets as quickly as possible with temporary measures so residents and businesses alike can experience the benefits of these spaces. We recommend a one year timeline for this action. By using temporary strategies, not only will the network be usable very soon by Portlanders, but PBOT will be able to make adjustments and trial these new designs in real time before committing them to permanent concrete. We look forward to working with staff at PBOT on the details for each of these projects.

You have the opportunity today to show your unanimous support for Portland values. Voting for Central City in Motion is a vote for climate action, for safer streets, for less pollution. Today we can begin a new era of Portland leadership on efficient, green transportation.

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The Street Trust is also a huge fan of the projects outlined in the plan. In part, they say, because, “people will love them.” The Street Trust detailed other reasons in a letter by Executive Director Jillian Detweiler to Mayor Ted Wheeler and commissioners yesterday. Here are the highlights:

“The resolution adopting the plan outlines an amazing body of policy adopted by the City Council… None of these policies are worth anything if they are not supported by investments in walking, biking, and transit. It is time to move from great policy to great projects. It is not physically possible to support the growth proposed for the central city without shifting transportation choices to walking, biking, and transit. By allocating approximately 1 percent of city streets to non-autos, Central City in Motion projects will significantly increase the capacity of the transportation network… The Central City in Motion projects will chip away at the barriers to choosing alternatives to driving.

The Street Trust encounters all sorts of people in its work. Some are willing to travel out of direction, weather the discomfort of riding in traffic and test their patience to get to where they need to go by walking, biking or transit. Some have no choice but to do so. These are the people who are keeping the city moving by reducing cars on the road. They should be appreciated, but not taken for granted. Many more people say they would choose to walk if accessibility were guaranteed; choose to bike if they felt safe; choose to take transit if it did not take so darn long.

… as we are able to acquire most of the stuff we need and conduct more and more business online, the economic underpinning of a city — proximity — is eroding. An exceptional experience for people will maintain the value of our city. Investments in walking, biking, and transit will get cars off the road and make our city a memorable, hospital place designed for people.

People who have experienced the degradation of walking, biking and riding transit by traffic in recent years and those who have moved here expecting that alternatives to driving would be superior are frustrated and disappointed. Central City in Motion projects will help align our streets with our policies and rhetoric… We think motorists will also come to appreciate the separation of modes these projects will promote because no one likes being confused about how a street is intended to work.”

The Street Trust also says they want more data and clear project timelines to help hold PBOT accountable, and that transparency is needed to “ensure that investments in Central City in Motion to not consume a disproportionate share of transportation resources.” Detweiler was also a member of the plan’s Sounding Board committee and has spoken about the plan with commissioners’ staff and Mayor Wheeler.

Portlanders for Parking Reform

Parking looms large in this plan because a significant amount of street space currently to park cars (and as loading zones) will be re-allocated to lanes for biking and transit. When all 18 projects are built, PBOT estimates there will be 1,000 fewer curbside spaces for parking and loading (from 20,328 to 19,328).

That is no small thing in a city where battles have been fought over the loss of just a few parking spaces. To thwart potential pushback, PBOT has created a detailed, 29-page parking loss mitigation strategy that is on Thursday’s meeting agenda as a separate ordinance. Portlanders for Parking Reform has worked with PBOT on many issues over the years, but they were shocked when the agency released this strategy less than a week before the council hearing and without any broad public input. Now they’re crying foul.

In an article just posted this morning, the group says the plan has acquired a “parking parasite,” and characterized the parking strategy as a “backdoor plan to spend public money on parking garages… cynically tied to a long-awaited project to reduce car trips.”

Portlanders for Parking Reform (PPR) says the parking strategy was created with input “mostly from business interests”. “It does not appear that any community groups, transportation advocacy organizations, or neighborhood groups were brought into the process.” The group also says any move toward funding more auto parking in the central city is a bad investment will only lead to more congestion. PPR wants people to testify against parking subsidies and instead urge council members to focus on “transportation demand management” strategies like encouraging use of transit and bike share.

———

The level of input from each of these groups illustrates the importance of this plan.

Stay tuned for coverage of how the relatively small proposed tweaks to our streets can yield major results.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Rep rips ODOT, slow scooters in DC, war on teen drivers and more

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 07:51

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

How men can help: “Try to be mindful of how you take up space, physically, verbally, and mentally,” was just on response reporter John Greenfield heard when he asked women how men could be better urban transportation allies.

Let’s make bikes: A college in Minnesota offers a bicycle fabrication degree. We need this in Portland!

1 million bike trips per day: That’s how many trips Uber says people in New York City would take if the company was allowed to deploy a 100,000 to 200,000 bike fleet.

Gravel racing boom: WorldTour racer Lachlan Morton is eyeing a 2019 season that will include gravel races — another sign that traditional road cycling events now have more competition than ever.

Bikes win in cities: Transport journalist Carlton Reid writes in Forbes that data from a courier company, proves that bicycle delivery staff deliver fresh food fastest.

Hi ODOT: U.S. Congressman Peter DeFazio laid into the Oregon Department of Transportation in a letter published by the Register-Guard last week. He’s not happy with how one of their contractors is managing a work site in Eugene. Other tidbits in his letter is that the project ODOT is doing down there costs $18 million for one mile of highway (that’s almost twice the amount we spend statewide on Safe Routes to School each year), and Rep. DeFazio is against congestion pricing.

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War on teen drivers: National Motorists Association says high insurance costs are just another front in the urban planning world’s agenda to prevent people from owning cars.

Scooting and disability concerns: As Portland ponders a permanent e-scooter fleet (current pilot ends November 20), we can look to Tacoma for how the vehicles impact people with disabilities.

Scooting slowly: Washington D.C. plans to limit the speed of e-scooters to just 10 mph. If only we could be so bold with vehicles that actually kill and injure people on a daily basis.

Scooting for cash: Wired has a solid rundown of how cities are “milking” scooter companies for money to pay for better infrastructure and how it might pave the way for AVs.

Ford gets into micromobility: Spin, a company that at one time flirted with the idea of launching dockless bike share in Portland, has been bought by Ford Motor Co.

Fewer garbage trucks: Dangerous waste hauling trucks will be reined in under a new plan by NYC DOT.

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

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Police arrest three men after ‘boobytrap’ injures bicycle rider on I-205 path

Sat, 11/10/2018 - 10:47

Victim says she saw the three men run up this hill just south of Division St MAX station.

Portland Police say three men stretched woven string across the I-205 path last night in an intentional act that caused an injury to a bicycle rider.

Here’s more from the statement just released by the PPB:

On Friday, November 9, 2018, at 10:53 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to the report a bicyclist was injured as a result of a boobytrap that was erected across the Interstate 205 Multi-Use Path near Southeast Division Street.

Officers and emergency medical personnel arrived and located an injured adult female. Emergency medical responders provided the victim on scene medical treatment. Officers learned the victim was traveling north while riding her bicycle on the Interstate 205 Multi-Use Path when she became entangled and injured by material strung across the path.

As an officer canvased the area, he located woven string that spanned the path just south of Southeast Division Street. During the investigation, officers also located three suspects believed to have positioned the woven string across the path. The three suspects were taken into custody without incident.

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L to R: Justin Jones, Antonio R Tolman-Duran, Dakota Murphy

Police arrested 23-year-old Justin J. Jones, 27-year-old Justin R. Tolman-Duran, and 21-year-old Dakota E. Murphy. All three were booked into jail (and have since been released) on charges of Assault in the Fourth Degree and three counts of Reckless Endangering.

This is not the first time bicycle riders have faced human-caused hazards on the 205 path. In July 2017 a man was the victim of verbal and vehicular assault when a another man drove his car onto the path about 1.3 miles south of Division.

And we’ve seen similar trip-wire incidents in several other locations. In September 2017 we reported on wires placed across a trail in Gateway Green and a cross an intersection in northeast Portland. In 2014 the Portland Police Bomb Squad responded to a wire strung across a public trail near private homes in Forest Park. In 2010 someone strung a trip-wire across a street next to Ladd Circle, a location where neighbors had complained about bicycle users not obeying a stop sign.

If you come across something on a path or in a park that appears to be a booby trap, call Portland Park Rangers at (503) 823-1637 or the PPB’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333. Call 911 if there’s an immediate safety hazard or if you see a crime in progress.

(P.S. If you’re paying attention, behavior like this should not be a surprise. When we allow hate toward bicycle users to become normalized (as it is in comment sections in every local media outlet), this is one way it manifests. It might be fun/funny for some people to wish injury (even death) upon other people for no other reason than riding a bicycle; but it’s not funny at all when those feelings are acted upon.)

UPDATE, 12:05pm: The victim is Montavilla resident Carlene Ostedegaard. According to her partner, she was riding home from work (on Foster) when it happened. The location was just south of the Division MAX stop. “It was a couple passes of twine or thin rope at about the face/neck level,” Ostedegaard’s friend told me.

She was riding north and saw the three men run up a hill.

Here are photos of her injuries:

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

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Things people asked BikePortland this week

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 17:09

“I found a stolen bike the other day at the Rose City Golf Course. Any suggestions on what to do with it?

BikePortland is really neat.

One of many things about my role in the community that I don’t think most people appreciate or realize is how much of a concierge BikePortland has become.

From the mundane to the ridiculous and everything in between, BikePortland is the place people come with all sorts of requests and questions. I love that this happens. It’s a sign that people are aware of BikePortland and it reinforces how much this site means to our community. And as a reporter, this is how I find many of my best sources and stories.

On that note, I thought it’d be fun to share just a tiny sampling of the emails I get. Keep in mind that these are just some of the inquiries I received in the past seven days or so…

It’s great that the Springwater Corridor is back open, but not so great that the homeless continue to be menacing farther east. I rode it from Sellwood to Gresham and back yesterday and there were trashy camps and people blocking the path just west of 82nd and around the intersection with the I205 bike path. What can I do as a cyclist? Report what I see? To whom?

In the past few days I have encountered bike lanes that are so chock full of leaves that it is impossible to ride through them, forcing me out in the street.  Is there someone to contact about this?

I was hoping that you may be able to give me some advice. I had the most unfortunate experience this morning of being nearly run over not once, but twice. The first time was by a garbage truck, the second was by a trimet maintenance truck. The garbage truck ran a stop sign and cut the corner, the trimet truck blatantly ran a red light… This is all part of the larger issue of the inherent danger of motor vehicles and perhaps I’m just peeved because this literally just happened. But I would like to lodge some sort of complaint to the city about this behavior and I’m totally unsure of where to send it!

We’re a group of graduate students working on a research project about the [redacted] project… After reading your articles on the project, we hoped that you could direct us to someone who could give us some perspective on the dynamics that went on behind the project.

I found a stolen bike the other day at the Rose City Golf Course. I brought it home and then posted it on ‘Next Door’. No one has come forward for the bike. It’s a kids 20″ BMX bike. Any suggestions on what to do with it?

Do you, or do you know of any business they will accept bicycle helmets as a donation? I work at a preschool /after school care facility and I have about 20 bike helmets. Thank you!

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I’m looking to talk to Steven Mitchell regarding the video he posted on SW Terwilliger. We would like to talk to him about the incident with the truck driver and issues on that road as it relates to all the leaves. If you could pass along my info to him or send me his email, I would greatly appreciate it!

I just got a new Metrofiets [cargo bike] but no rain canopy. Do you know where I can get one or who built them or if another one fits? Thanks for an answer in advance, from Germany.

We at The University of [redacted] are conducting a study of bikeshare policy in cities such as Portland, and my team and I are seeking to interview those individuals with influence or input over the process of regulating/managing bikeshare programs… Would you be interested in taking part in a phone interview to discuss the subject?

Whew.

And yes, I do answer as many of these as I can. I’m honored that people trust me with these questions and I feel it’s an important service BikePortland can provide to the community. I wish I could keep up with all of it, but it’s just not always possible. I feel bad for the people who I’ve left hanging! Seriously. It’s me, not you. Please feel free to re-up your email. Your messages never bother me.

I’ve shared these to show the crazy variety of what people ask about. I also wanted to remind you that BikePortland is just me and that it takes a lot of work to do this job. Most people assume BikePortland is an organization with staff. But it’s just me. I would love to have someone on staff to take over concierge duties (and a million other things!); but I haven’t been able to make that happen yet. It’s a real struggle to keep this operation afloat financially right now, but I love what we’ve created here and I’ll fight for it until the very end.

If you think BikePortland matters and that it has value in our community, please support it. Now’s a great time to do some advertising of your brand or business. You can make a one-time contribution or become a monthly subscriber here.

Thanks.

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

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New council date, final projects set for Central City in Motion plan

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 11:09

Cover of PBOT’s newly published Central City in Motion Implementation Plan .

After many changes in the past few months, the ink is finally drying on the Central City in Motion plan.

This week the Portland Bureau of Transportation published a bunch of new documents (including the official Implementation Plan) and changed the council hearing date to this coming Thursday November 15th at 2:00 pm.

This is not a drill.

With two years of public outreach and planning all tied up in a bow, all that’s left is to make closing arguments, get this thing passed at City Council, and start building.

Here’s what made the final cut…

The Projects

Phasing map. Projects in red will come first (1-5 years).

The 18 projects (a.k.a. “super project bundles”) have been finalized and separated into two construction phases: 1-5 and 6-10 years (map above shows all of them). Since we last reported on this plan, three projects have been added back onto the list at the request of various organizations and agencies: the Grand Avenue transit/freight lane (at the request of the Central Eastside Industrial Council, Portland Streetcar, and TriMet); NW 14th protected bike lanes and safer crossings (at the request of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association); and NE Multnomah upgrades (at the request of Go Lloyd).

Below are the final recommendations for 1-5 year implementation. As you read the list, note the following: The number corresponds to official project number and is not a ranking of priority; “BAT” lane is short for Business Access and Transit; some projects listed are just small chunks of larger projects.

1 – Burnside (from W 10th to E 12th) – $5.5 million

The proposal includes a Bus and Turn lane, a series of crossing improvements, and protected bikeways. These investments will provide faster, more reliable TriMet service, improve safety and accessibility on West Burnside approaching the bridge, and facilitate more cycling trips across the river

2 – Broadway (from SW Grant to Broadway Bridge) 4th Avenue (from SW Caruthers to NW Flanders), and SW College – $6.6 million

This project would create a signature north-south bike facility on the 4th Avenue and Broadway couplet, while upgrading unsignalized pedestrian crossings in South Downtown. The couplet would increase access for people biking to major destinations and employers, including PSU and the downtown retail core, and increase crossing safety along both streets

3 – NE/SE 7th Avenue (from Sullivan’s Span to Division) and SE Grand Ave – $5.4 million

Coordinating to serve freight, auto, transit and bike needs, these projects would improve how people move through the heart of the Central Eastside. MLK and Grand would include Bus/Streetcar and Turn (BAT) lanes that could also accommodate freight. New pedestrian crossings of MLK and Grand would improve safety and access. Protected bike lanes on 7th Avenue would connect the Sullivan’s Crossing to the Tilikum Bridge. 6th Avenue, the likely location of the future Green Loop, would include new pedestrian crossings.

5 – SW Madison (from SW 5th to SW 1st) – $170,000

Moving the bike lane on Madison will eliminate weaving with the buses. Portions of the bikeway connections from the Hawthorne Bridge will be protected. Separating people biking on Madison from other vehicles will improve safety for all roadway users. To accommodate the BAT lane from 1st to 5th Avenues on SW Madison, all parking would be removed.

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6 – NW 14th (from Burnside to Front) – $530,000

NW 14th would create a protected bike lane from Burnside to Hoyt, and a wide bike lane from Hoyt to Savier. To accommodate the protected bike lane on SW 14th Avenue from Burnside to Hoyt, parking on both sides of the street
would be removed from Couch to Everett and one travel lane would be removed from Everett to Glisan.

7 – NW Everett (from Broadway to Steel Bridge) – $1 million

This project would make bus trips faster and more reliable by adding a Bus and Turn (BAT) lane on Everett approaching the bridge. It would address the ramps on the west side of the bridge that create merging conflicts, further improving transit commutes out of downtown. To accommodate a BAT lane on NW Everett from Broadway to 2nd Avenue, a travel lane would be removed.

8 – SW Salmon/SW Taylor/SW 1st – $3.9 million

… creating a protected bike lane on Salmon/Taylor. They would link to the Hawthorne Bridge via a new protected bike lane on SW 1st. Pedestrian crossing improvements on both streets and bus stop improvements on SW Salmon are also proposed. To accommodate protected bike lanes, parking would be removed along one side of Salmon and Taylor.

9 – SE Salmon – $490,000

SE Salmon community greenway would provide a family-friendly bike connection to the Eastbank Esplanade and the Willamette River. This project would include improved crossings at the intersections at Water, MLK, Grand, 7th, 11th, and 12th.

12 – SE Hawthorne (from viaduct to 12th) – $1.2 million

… transit priority at intersections on Hawthorne and Madison, protected bike lanes on Hawthorne. New transit islands on Hawthorne would increase transit speed and reliability while reducing conflicts with people driving and biking. To accommodate a parking protected bike lane, the northernmost lane on Hawthorne would become a pro-time parking lane; no parking would be provided on the north side of Hawthorne during the peak hour.

13 – NE Multnomah – $3.8 million

This project would improve the existing parking protected bike lane on NE Multnomah and address bus/bike conflicts (by building transit islands). A Neighborhood Greenway on NE 16th would provide a connection between this route and NE Portland neighborhoods. On NE Multnomah Street, the current buffered bike lane would become a parking-protected bike lane.

15 – NE Lloyd (from MLK to 12th) – $740,000

This two-way bikeway along Lloyd would provide a cycling connection from the Steel Bridge to 16th. It would connect to the forthcoming Sullivan’s Crossing – a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge to be constructed over I-84 at 7th Avenue. To accommodate the protected bikeway from Grand to NE 9th, one travel lane in each direction would be removed. To accommodate buffered bike lanes from NE 9th to NE 12th, the center turn lane would be removed.

16 – Pedestrian crossings of Burnside – $870,000

17 – Naito Parkway – $4 million*

This project would implement a year-round version of “Better Naito,” providing a two-way cycletrack and sidewalk along the west side of Waterfront Park. Modern signal equipment would be installed along the corridor to better coordinate signal timing. Smart signals will smooth auto access to I-5 by detecting vehicle queues waiting to turn onto the Morrison Bridge. To accommodate the two-way cycletrack, one north bound travel lane will be removed. PBOT studied moving the bikeway into Waterfront Park, but determined the tree impacts were too great

*Notice PBOT has decided against a version of the project floated by Mayor Wheeler (and championed by the Portland Business Alliance) that would have maintained existing auto capacity between Salmon and the Morrison Bridge. PBOT has also (very smartly) laid to rest the idea of making a bike pathway through Waterfront Park (another idea pushed by the PBA).

18 – NE Broadway/Weidler (phase I) – $1.5 million

This project would reconfigure travel lanes where feasible to create protected or buffered bike lanes for improved safety and circulation. The project would extend from the Broadway Bridge to NE 7th Ave to connect with existing bike lanes in the Lloyd neighborhood.

Is it starting to sink in yet? This is stuff PBOT will start building next spring. Here’s how they’ll pay for it…

The Funding

This first tranche of projects is estimated to cost about $36 million (total cost of all projects in the plan is twice that). Lest you think this is a repeat of the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan which had no dedicated funding, PBOT says they have about $25 million in their pocket, ready to spend. It comes from a combination of a federal grant, assistance from TriMet, and fees paid to PBOT by developers.

The city is still $9 million short for this first phase and would still need another $36 million for the 6-10 year projects.

Keep in mind, that all this stuff is fluid and PBOT is likely to find more money and even switch projects around from the two phases. PBOT is a pragmatic and opportunistic agency and while they need a certain amount of specificity to pass the plan at City Council, by no means is all this stuff set is stone.

In these final days before the hearing, PBOT and their advocacy partners are prepping presentations and testimony. Check out the plan on PBOT’s website and stay tuned for more updates and coverage early next week.

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

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Tired of leaves in bike lanes, this Portlander made a pedal-powered sweeper

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 15:30


*Many major bikeways in Portland are covered in leaves this time of year. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Bill Stites of Portland-based Stites Design likes to create human-powered vehicles that can do amazing things.

Bill Stites

His most successful product so far is the “Truck Trike” which has been used to re-balance bike share fleets and by delivery giant UPS to deliver packages.

And like many of you, Bill is tired of having to ride through the slippery leaves that often block or narrow many Portland bike lanes this time of year. As we saw last week on SW Terwilliger, the presence of leaves in bike lanes isn’t just a minor inconvenience, it can put people at risk and it contributes to already-frayed nerves. At a time when we must do everything possible to promote cycling, this is just one more hazard people face.

We’ve heard from readers who’ve slipped and fallen this year, and several who fear they might. The issue comes up every year, and while PBOT eventually cleans most of it up (they’ve already swept Terwilliger, Willamette, and many other bikeways in the past week), there’s got to be a better way to deal with it. And it’s not just the leaves. Soon it will be snow, then ice, then gravel. People who ride bikes deserve better.

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PBOT’s smallest sweeper (seen here on Williams Ave last week) is still too big for some of our new protected bike lanes.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortlanD)

In 2013 the City of Portland added a mini-sweeper to its maintenance fleet with the expressed intent of using it to clear bikeways. But that’s just one sweeper. And at 7 1/2-feet wide, it won’t be able to squeeze into some the newly protected bikeways PBOT has built in the past few years.

Enter Bill Stites’ latest creation: A trailer outfitted with swiveling brushes pulled behind his electric trike. It’s simple and effective.

(Photos: Bill Stites)

Here’s a video of it in action on SE Morrison…

Bill tells us it’s still just a prototype. His ultimate goal is to create a “human scale, appropriate energy consumption,” solution at a reasonable cost.

About a year ago, before he started to work on this sweeper trailer, Bill met with PBOT maintenance staff to talk about the problem. “Our discussion revealed a sticking point,” he recalled via email today. “They insisted that the detritus needed to be picked up for liability reasons. Pushing to the side without picking up was not acceptable (the only exception being snow).”

Bill says designing a system to capture the leaves would up the cost, complexity, and energy consumption. He wants to keep things simple so he plans to keep refining his trailer design. “Personally, I think the design is pretty close,” he says.

Bill’s sweeper creates a clear path about 36-inches wide by pushing debris to the curb. He estimates he could make them available for about $1,500 a piece (the heavy-duty brush-heads alone are $200 each). With a modified hitch that could attach to more types of bikes, perhaps neighborhood associations, local tool libraries, and other organizations could purchase one of these and loan it out to volunteer sweepers.

In the spirit of bike-powered trash-hauler Danny Dunn, we salute Bill Stites and hope to see a fleet of his sweepers on Portland streets in the very near future.

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

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Jury’s out on PBOT’s experimental bike-friendly speed bumps

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 11:59

Experimental bike-friendly speed bump on SE Clinton west of 26th.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I have a complicated relationship with speed bumps.

“These are terrible, speed bumps have never been an issue for bikes.”

I love them because they slow me down when I’m driving. This means streets are safer and I’m less likely to be in a crash. I like that (and my neighbors do too).

But I don’t like how speed bumps reduce comfort when I’m on my bike. When I’m riding in the city I prefer smooth streets. Even though the angle of the Bureau of Transportation’s speed bumps are relatively chill, I still feel a thump and bump when I go over them (even on my big bike with 2-inch wide tires). If I can, I’ll usually try to veer around the bumps near the curb.

Last week I found myself biking up SE Clinton near 26th when — lo and behold – there was a nice little cutout in the bump that was perfect for my tires to roll through. The nearby sharrow also happened to point right to it as if me and that little groove were destined for each other. I smiled as I rolled through without any bumping or thumping.

Then I posted a picture and glowing review on Instagram. I didn’t think it would be such a hotly debated issue; but it turns out people have many mixed feelings about these. Some say their pedals strike the bump when they go through and the channels are dangerous. Others love them as much as I do. There was also some confusion: Many people (myself included) assumed the cutouts were for emergency response vehicles.

Here’s a sampling of the 70 or so comments our post has gotten so far (a lot for our IG posts):

topramenofficial: You mean the death crevasses? Speed bumps I’m down for but those cut outs are dumber than the 2nd ave bike lane.

icomeoutatnight: Yep, those grooves are great when you pedal hits the speed bump.

liefrunsfar: Those are cool. Can we get them in @fortcollinsgov @bikefc

logangoeswest: Have to disagree with you on those cut outs as well. Not a fan! I usually go around them. If you don’t see one at night and hit it on the edge it really catches you off guard and knocks you to the side a bit. Add rain, cars, pedestrians or any other distraction/obstacle/condition to the mix and I could see a potential hazard. They are just one more you have to watch out for while trying to let your eyes on everything else.

flybytyre: Those things are for sure death traps.

toddbschmidt88: I have bottomed out a crank a few times trying to go through those cuts on NE 28th, so I just go over them now.

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gabrielamadeus: These are terrible, speed bumps have never been an issue for bikes, but now these off camber curious are totally a hazard. Not to mention vehicles driving/swerving erratically trying to align their tires.

portlandgypsycab: Definitely opposed to these cut outs. Cars aim for them, bikes can’t really. It’s just easier to go over a smooth bump on the bike.

feministvagenda: When u aren’t expecting those groves they can be quite a shock! I can see how if you know they’re coming u can make them work to your advantage, but they can be dangerous for those who aren’t in the know.

hobotech_: The cargobike bottoms out on them and if you hit them wrong in the dark you’d better hold on. I haven’t had a crank hit yet but I bet that sucks. They’re the new MAX tracks.

jbogli: if I’m driving I swerve to get the smooooth spot – no lie.

geraldfitt: Also not a fan of the cut outs. They are more a hazard than they are a benefit. Glad to see most people agree on this issue. Let’s ban em.

Speed bump on NW Cornell that’s routinely used by auto users — even though a sign says to not cross the centerline.

sarah_iannarone: I find them dangerous and annoying. They’re definitely not designed w bikes in mind. Must be for firetrucks or something.

bike2brews: I came across them for the first time in the dark and almost ate it. Not a fan.

aggieotis: I love them. They allow me to shoot the line and have a smooth ride the whole way down. When carrying my kid on the bike going to school we don’t get tossed up like on a regular speed bump. And I have 200mm cranks on my regular bike (so my pedals are about an inch lower than most peoples) and I’ve checked these bumps and there’s no risk of pedal strike at all. Thanks PBOT for trying something new. I love it!

Turns out I wrote about these bumps before they went in back in January 2017. At that time I reported that PBOT would experiment with a design that would be both bike and fire-truck friendly. The city has installed fire-friendly speed bumps at several locations, including NW Cornell, and has had mixed results: They reduced speeds and emergency vehicles can get through them, but everyday drivers also swerve into the channels, creating a hazard for other road users (see photo).

After the Instagram post spurred such a difference of opinion, I decided to follow up with PBOT.

Communications Director John Brady confirmed this morning that these bumps were not designed with emergency vehicles in mind. “They are ‘bike-friendly’ speed bumps that we are testing out,” Brady shared via email. “They’re specifically designed for people on bikes.”

So… What were the test results?

“We’ve done some field observations and found that the vast majority of bikers used the channel that’s provided and that most cars were not.”

That’s good to hear; but their observations don’t mesh with the feedback we got on Instagram.

I’ve asked Brady for more details on their assessment and whether or not PBOT plans to make these standard issue on all neighborhood greenways in the future. I’ll update this post when I hear back.

Have you ridden over these? Do you like them? Or would you rather change the channels? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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

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Portland’s new commissioner-elect sees a carfree future with fareless and fast transit

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 14:37

One of the biggest local consequences of last night’s election is that Jo Ann Hardesty will be sworn-in as a Portland city commissioner in January.

Her presence on the five-member council could have far-reaching implications as we debate and consider major transportation-related issues in the coming years. Hardesty and her new colleagues on Portland City Council will have a say on key issues ranging from mega-projects to micromobility. Since we haven’t sat down with her for an extended conversation yet, I thought I’d share what she’s said on the record thus far.

Earlier this spring when the campaign for the primary was heating up, Hardesty didn’t even mention transportation as an issue on her website. Now she does. Here’s her platform as described on the “Climate Justice: One People, One Planet” page of her campaign website:

I live on Portland’s East side and use our bus system. My experiences as a Trimet rider have helped shape my belief that our community needs access to free and widely available public transportation. I believe in a Portland where you can get where you need to go without using a car and that you shouldn’t be punished for taking the bus by having it take twice as long to get there. This Portland is possible if we prioritize expanding our current system, making it free and securing and expanding our Youth Pass for students. We must make these changes because transportation is the second biggest expense for households after housing. As Portland grows we also need to support options like the SW Corridor Project that Metro is working on, and I look forward to working in coalition with Metro leaders to make these projects a reality.

All of this work needs to be done before we consider congestion pricing. People of color in our community have been pushed to the edges of town, and I don’t believe that it is just to then charge those community members for the privilege to come back for work or play. Additionally, when drivers look for alternatives to taxed roads, we know they will turn to other options. Those roads won’t be prepared for additional traffic and will jeopardize our commitment to Vision Zero. I am committed to building a Portland where no one should die trying to get where they need to go. I also believe that consideration of congestion pricing requires deep community conversations where everyone can participate. Under some models, the money raised through congestion pricing can only be used to build more roads such as freeways. That is not compatible with our city’s climate solution goals and we need to be thinking about how to invest in other modes of transportation. I look forward to working with community advocates and the team at PBOT to supporting the work they have been doing on these issues and to break through the political gridlock that has been holding us back.

A transportation-focused candidate forum in April hosted by the local chapter of Young Professionals in Transportation provided more detailed insights from Hardesty. Here are some excerpts from our coverage of that event:

On Vision Zero:

NAACP Porltand President Jo Ann Hardesty said Vision Zero uses too much of a “punitive approach” and she’d rather see more education. “$247 bucks is excessive for first ticket,” she said. “We need to be creating communities that are walkable and have amenities so that people are able to walk.” Hardesty said it’s “inexcusable” that a “city with so much riches” invests so much in downtown when other parts of the city have been “forgotten.”

On transportation and environmental justice:

A world-class transportation system in Portland would give everyone access to public transit and “the ability to have bicycles,” said Jo Ann Hardesty. She also pointed out that, “We had a ‘housing emergency’ not because 10,000 African-Americans were displaced from inner northeast between 2000 and 2010. The housing emergency came about when white middle-class people found it difficult to live in the city.” Hardesty said Portland needs elected leaders with guts to tell “the real story.” “We need to stop painting this as a progressive utopia where everything is wonderful and where all you have to do is get on your bike and life will be great,” she continued. “That is not for everybody. It hasn’t been that way for people of color.”

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On taming dangerous arterials:

A skeptical Jo Ann Hardesty threw a bit of cold water on the excitement over a PBOT-controlled 82nd Ave: “I wish I believed that the City of Portland taking on 82nd Avenue would make it better. I wish I believed that.” Hardesty added that because parts of east Portland still don’t have sidewalks, “We cannot talk about bike paths without talking about safety for community members who have paid their fair share in taxes and just are not getting the infrastructure.”

On how to stem the rise of fatal crashes involving people walking in east Portland:

Hardesty’s answer to this sounded like victim-blaming to one person I talked to after the event. After saying how some people drive too fast, Hardesty said, “I can tell you there are pedestrians that walk out in front of cars because they think they have bumpers and no one will hit them.” Hardesty added that our streets would be safer if we fostered more “community connectedness” and moved beyond division. “We need to come together and decide what kind of community we want to live in.”

On funding:

To raise money for transportation, Hardesty said she’d put a $2.50 tax on Uber and Lyft rides (which got a loud applause). She also mentioned (perhaps responding to Fish’s tough talk) that while she likes lower speed limits, she’s “absolutely terrified of more enforcement” and that she doesn’t feel safe, “When I hear public leaders talk about enhancing police presence… When we know African-Americans and Latinos are targeted for more enforcement than anyone else.”

On congestion pricing:

Hardesty said, “Before we have a conversation about congestion pricing, we have to make sure the people we pushed out to the edges of our city are not harmed by this policy.” She doesn’t want people who live furthest away from the central city to be penalized and she doesn’t want it to be based on income.

Commissioner-elect Hardesty will also be the only member of Portland City Council to clearly oppose the I-5/Rose Quarter freeway expansion project. Here’s how she responded to a questionnaire from No More Freeways PDX:

“I am also strongly opposed to expanding I-5. There is a disconnect between our vision for 2050 climate justice resolution and freeway expansion, and expanding I-5 should be an absolute last resort to addressing crashes and congestions. I think the funds allocated to I-5 expansion would be better spent towards expanding transit and improving infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Another place to learn about Hardesty’s views is in BikePortland reader Tony Jordan’s editorial endorsement we published back in April.

Do you have experiences with or insights about Hardesty you can share?

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

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Review: The Silca Ypsilon “Y” wrench

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 13:15

Quality tools encourage you to do learn about your bike and work on it yourself more often.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

As with many of Silca’s products, their latest tool called Ypsilon Wrench caught my eye and I could not resist. This is a quality tool that looks the part.


For those who have never used a Y-wrench or as I call them “3 – ways”, it’s a fast tool when working on multiple aspects of the bike. Flip the tool around quickly for another size tool to adjust a different fastener. Mechanics have seen the advantages of Y wrenches for years.

Here’s what comes with the Home Edition ($108, with a birch box and Travel Edition ($74, without the box):

– 18 Tools total
– High strength CrV steel spine leading to 4mm and 5mm hex
– Lightweight composite body with ergonomic grips
– ¼” bit collet with magnetic attachment
– S2 steel Hex bits: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, and 6mm
– S2 steel Torx® bits: T8, T10, T15, T20, T25 and T30
– S2 steel Screw bits: PH1, PH2, SL4 and SL5
– Birch case with magnetic closure (Home Essentials kit only)

Engineering

A key engineering benefit of Ypsilon is the tight tolerances of the keys and bits. Tighter tolerances mean a better tool-to-part fit which drastically decreases the likelihood of rounding out fastener heads or damaging screw slots. We have all done it in our past and ultimately having to deal with removing a stripped bolt from your high end gear – not pleasant. These tight tolerances, combined with the CrV steel spine of the tool make Ypsilon incredibly durable.

The Ypsilon Home Kit comes in a custom Birchwood box with a range of hex, Torx and driver bits that sit in a foam holder. The Ypsilon Travel Kit comes with everything that the Home Kit comes with minus the box, and they offer the y-wrench entirely on its own.

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Hand tools have an self-evident way of highlighting poor ergonomics and with Y-wrenches you might already know they are not all ergonomically equal. Some are too heavy, some too slippy and others just too large for your palm. Silca’s shape and size has been optimized and the over-molded TPE grips provides a soft spot for the pressure points on your hand. The lightweight composite body with ergonomic grips provide good comfort and control. For those who have never used a Y-wrench or as I call them “3 -ways,” it’s a fast tool when working on multiple aspects of the bike. Flip the tool around quickly for another size tool to adjust a different fastener.

In Use

The Ypsilon feels great in the hand, the addition of the lighter grey softer plastic areas are a welcome design that provide grip and comfort that is not present on many tools of this type. As for durability, the construction of these softer areas is a deep molding and is not a thin plastic over-mold.

This design feels very precise to use, a positive engagement with fasters that makes you feel in control to a much finer degree than a less well engineered tools. The grip is well designed, the shape and weight are just right, a presence in the hand, while not being too heavy or slippy.

The tool bits are interchangeable and easy to use, they quickly snap in and out (the magnet sits at the bottom of the red collar). The collar doesn’t turn, it feels like it should but it’s a fixed design to accommodate various bits and the knurling is more of a decorative feature.

The tool bits have a higher polish than inexpensive counterparts, and are wrapped with a nice plastic identification band which makes them quicker to identify. Normal identification is stamped into bits, and can be harder/less obvious to read.

Overall

Quality, well designed tools definitely have a place and offer different levels of value to each. The Silca Ypsilon doesn’t come cheap, but why should it? It looks, feels and performs five times better than less precise tools with lower-quality bits – and this comes at a manufacturing cost.

Can you put a price on the confidence this tool inspires? Or the reduction in likelihood that you will damage an expensive fastener on your expensive bike? Or that the tool looks cool and is presented really well? Yes and no. The choice is yours, but this is a quality tool worth your attention if it fits your budget.

More at www.silca.com.

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

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The City of Beaverton wants a dockless bike share system

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 12:32

SW Canyon Road in Beaverton.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A major suburb just a few miles west of downtown Portland wants a dockless bike share system.

The City of Beaverton (population 100,000) has launched an official request for information (RFI) to learn more from companies that, “can provide useful and relevant information on a dockless bike share program.” Bike-share is called out in Beaverton’s 2017 Active Transportation Plan and city planners say it’s a needed weapon in their fight against congestion which is only expected to get worse as the city grows.

Here’s more from the RFI (PDF here):

“Metro anticipates that the Beaverton Regional Center will increase by 4,500 new jobs and 10,000 new residents over the next 25 years. As the City continues to grow, congestion on local roadways will continue to increase. As one way to help reduce or at least moderate congestion, the City is looking to increase multi-modal opportunities for residents to get to work, to transit, and in the case of walking and biking, as a general form of mobility and recreation.”


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From the RFI language it looks like Beaverton wants to do a one-year pilot program and “if all goes well” they’ll make it permanent.

Some Beaverton residents are already familiar with bike share because Nike’s World Headquarters building has a Biketown system of their own. Nike is not only the title sponsor of Portland’s bike share system, they also provide around 400 bikes to employees and visitors of their HQ campus and nearby offices. The bikes are often taken from the offices to nearby transit centers.

Questions of potential operators in the RFI make it clear that the City of Beaverton wants to have robust access to system data and make sure the system is accessible to low-income people, is available for people without credit cards, and for people who don’t speak English.

One key detail not covered in the RFI is the geographic service area. Given the urban form and land use of Beaverton, this will be an important thing to get right.

Our Beaverton-based, Washington County contributor Naomi Fast says being able to use the bikes on major arterials will be a must. The caveat with is those arterials are managed and owned by the county and have 45 mph speed limits which could be a recipe for concern. “I think a dockless bike system in downtown Beaverton would succeed,” Fast shared with me today. “But even better would be if people found it possible to use the bikes along unincorporated Washington County arterials that border and go through Beaverton.”

The RFI was released the morning after an election that cemented a more multimodal slant in Washington County transportation politics.

The city will accept responses to this RFI until early December and use the responses to prepare a request for proposals.

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

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In Oregon, election night was great for Democrats and progressive policies

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 07:56

Parking reform activist Tony Jordan at a campaign event for Jo Ann Hardesty (center).
(Photo: Tony Jordan)

In the first national election since Donald Trump assumed the presidency — and despite gerrymandered districts, voter suppressions efforts, and racist campaigning by some Republicans — America tilted to the left last night. Here in the Portland region, the swing toward Democrats and progressive policies was even more pronounced.

In the race to replace longtime Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Jo Ann Hardesty cruised to an easy win over Loretta Smith. Hardesty becomes the first black woman to hold a council seat. Hardesty was endorsed by The Street Trust and nearly every transportation reformer in the BikePortland orbit was a major supporter.

Kathryn Harrington is the new Washington County Chair.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Women now have a 3-2 majority on Portland City Council, something Hardesty already seems to relish. OPB reported last night that during her victory speech she remarked, “We have big problems in this city but I am proud to be joining commissioner Amanda Fritz and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. And I’m even going to be joining mayor … what’s his name? Ted Wheeler, and of course Commissioner Nick Fish.”

Portland voters also decided to pass the Measure 26-201, a.k.a. the Clean Energy Initiative. This innovative measure creates a new business licensing surcharge on large corporations to fund clean energy projects that will create jobs for nonprofits. Just as important as the policy is the coalition that came together to pass it. The steering committee included: the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Coalition of Communities of Color, NAACP Portland Branch 1120, Native American Youth & Family Center, OPAL/Environmental Justice Oregon, Verde, 350PDX, Audubon Society of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club. This is the type of coalition will be a huge inspiration to transportation advocates as they organize for a major funding measure of their own in 2020.

Beyond Portland, former Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington won her bid for Washington County Chair. She handily beat Bob Terry, who delivered an anti-Portland, borderline racist, and fear-mongering mailer in the week before the election that he was forced to apologize for. Harrington should be a bulwark against the typically car-centric transportation politics in Washington County. She was endorsed by The Street Trust.

Harrington will join veteran commissioner Dick Schouten and Pam Treece who won election to the commission in May. Schouten is a well-known advocate for bicycling and Treece says she’ll look to alleviate congestion “from a multimodal perspective.” That gives pro-biking, pro-transit three out of five votes.

Here’s what Sightline says about the new political picture in Washington County:

“… in the thriving technoburbs of Washington County, Ore., pro-transit Kathryn Harrington seems to have defeated pro-highway Bob Terry for county chair—enough for her, Pam Treece and Dick Schouten to form a rough three-to-two urbanist majority on the powerful board. Harrington, a three-term councilor in the regional Metro government, promises a strong contrast with the last eight years under Andy Duyck, the board’s outgoing, pro-sprawl chair. At Metro, Harrington has been one of the most reliable votes for reducing auto-dependent development patterns and improving non-car transportation options.”

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Another big win for transportation in Washington County came in the race for Oregon House District 26 where Democrat Courtney Neron unseated incumbent Republican Richard Vial by a margin of 51 to 47 percent. Vial was considered a political moderate, but when it came to transportation policy he was dinosaur. Vial was a major proponent of building new mega-highways across farmlands in Washington County. In 2017 he pushed a failed bill that would have allowed cities and counties to form tolling districts to pay for highway projects. Vial’s bill was an attempt to fund his pet project, the “Northside Passage”. Vial was part of a worrying normalization of highway expansions and had a leadership position on several key House transportation committees (including one on carbon reduction). By contrast, Neron calls herself a “lifelong environmentalist” who thinks Oregon must, “aggressively address climate change.”

Overall, Oregon’s politics took a strong leftward swing. Governor Kate Brown easily won her race over Knute Buehler and Democrats now enjoy a supermajority in both the House and Senate. The Oregonian says this means, “Corporate tax hikes and progressive policy changes could be an easy sell in the 2019 session.” It’s also likely to have ramifications on transportation policy, even though that issue was heavily legislated in 2017. Would the $5.3 billion transportation package we passed in 2017 have been different if Democrats had a supermajority and didn’t have to give away highway projects and the silly new bike tax to get Republican votes for auto-related taxes and fee hikes? Probably. Other transportation-related topics often fall on party lines. Things like speed limits and distracted driving laws have been nearly party-line votes in the past. Safe street advocates should be very optimistic about their chances in 2019.

What were some of your takeaways from last night — transportation or otherwise?

Here’s a list of stories from some national transportation and urbanist sources we follow:

On Ballot Measures, a Progressive Sweep – CityLab
Cascadia Midterm Election Results – Sightline (co-authored by our former news editor Michael Andersen)

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

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Business group says Portland needs more protected bike lanes

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 15:23

Screen grab from Business Tribune.

Making good on a promise made when they launched in January 2016, Business for a Better Portland has weighed in on the $30 million Central City in Motion plan without complaining about auto parking.

That makes them the first major Portland business group to do so.

In September, the Central Eastside Industrial Council told their members that the most important takeaway from the CCIM plan — a mix 18 projects that aim to upgrade biking, walking and transit conditions — is that the district will lose 250 auto parking spaces.

And late last month, the Portland Business Alliance shared an anachronistic view of the plan that decried what they feel will be a “significant economic impact” if any of the projects reduce auto capacity downtown.

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Business for a Better Portland (BBPDX) was created largely as an antidote to the outdated transportation policy routinely promoted by the PBA. Given that the stated focus of BBPDX thus far has been affordable housing and transportation, the Central City in Motion plan can be seen as a test of how far they are willing to go to act as a counterweight to the PBA.

“We know how to move the dial in the other direction and reduce our reliance on single-occupancy vehicles.”
— Ashley Henry, Business for a Better Portland

Based on the opinion shared by Chief Collaboration Officer Ashley Henry in The Portland Tribune yesterday, we can see that the organization is staying true to community expectations.

That being said, Henry’s essay also plays it relatively safe. At times I felt like I was reading something written by the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Henry ticks the right boxes by outlining Portland’s growth, then saying, “We’ve got to make the streets we have work better.” To do that she says Portland needs transit priority lanes, “more pedestrian pathways to ensure our retail corridors are inviting and safe,” and she says we’ll need, “more protected lanes that make it safer and more comfortable to ride a bike or a scooter.”

Then she says, “The devil is in the details” and recounts conversations with BBPDX members who, “Have varied and strong opinions about the future of our streets.” “Balancing these priorities while accommodating the needs of the full range of people who travel around the central city is difficult,” she continues. “But worth pursuing.”

Henry’s conclusion directly addresses transportation’s impact on climate change (something the PBA and CEIC didn’t even mention):

“I continue to hear calls from community and business leaders for urgent, meaningful action to reduce the region’s impact on climate change. Accounting for about 30 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, pollution from cars and trucks is on the rise after steadily dropping for more than a decade. We know how to move the dial in the other direction and reduce our reliance on single-occupancy vehicles. Safer infrastructure with a greater range of options will help us meet our climate goals while curtailing the long-term costs that climate change is projected to inflict on businesses.”

I would have liked to see BBPDX offer more specific support for individual projects that are likely to be big political lifts — like the SW 4th and Broadway bikeway couplet — and directly counter some of the PBA’s opinions about the preeminence of single-occupancy vehicles. Instead, it feels as though BBPDX is trying to play it safe with both their own members and the PBA.

That might be a safe business and political strategy. But will it be enough to get this crucial plan through City Hall without getting too watered down? And will it be enough to truly move the needle on our streets?

Read Henry’s statement here.

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

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