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Updated: 22 weeks 5 days ago

Review: Surly’s ‘Big Easy’ smooths out family biking and cargo-hauling

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 07:32

I usually dread posing for professional photos, but Jonathan insisted… and it was actually fun!
(Photos: Peter Newlands/PHN Photography)

After sharing my initial impressions two weeks ago, I’m ready to share a full review of Surly’s new Big Easy electric cargo bike (retail price $5,000).

I rode the bike for two and a half weeks and found myself enamored with it. Read on as I delve into the wonders of the e-assist, the useful accessories, what I’d add to make it perfect, and what I like to change.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

First of all, a quick word on e-bikes: I don’t expect to change any firm opinions that differ from mine, but e-bikes aren’t “cheating” and with a “class 1” e-bike like the Big Easy, you still get plenty of exercise. It’s common for new e-bikers to use the assist sparingly; but the system is design so you always have some level of assist engaged at all times. In other words; you can turn it off, but there’s no reason to.

That said, I didn’t have the key to the battery (to remove it from the bike and charge it) for the first two days. I left the e-assist turned off to stretch out what juice I had. I learned the 1×11 gearing is great and the e-assist is so strong and light that even the lowest “Eco” mode more than compensates for the weight of the motor and battery. People sometimes complain about the noise generated by e-assists, but after riding without the hum of the motor I found it to be music to my ears! Also, it’s a very soft hum to begin with so even if you’re not forced to ride it like an analog bike initially, you won’t find the hum noticeable.

Parts and accessories

E-assist, tires, cargo bags, Kid Corral — there’s a lot of awesome that comes standard from Surly and Bosch (maker of the electric motor) and that can be added to the bike.

Frame
I borrowed a medium Big Easy. I’m 5’5″ and my Surly Big Dummy (the non-electric version of this bike) is a small, but the redesigned Big Easy frame fits all riders using just three sizes (S, M, L) to the Big Dummy’s four (S, M, L, XL). If I were to buy a Big Easy, I’d get a small, but the medium worked just fine.

Longtail cargo bikes tend to feel like regular bikes, and this one especially so. On my Big Dummy, I feel a bit of flex if I max out the load weight. The Big Easy however, is solid. I felt no flex, even carrying kids and their bikes. I hear this is partially due to the fact that the mid-drive motor situated in bottom bracket takes up a lot of space so the down tube, seat tube, and boom tube (the one parallel to the ground behind the pedals) are shorter than on my Big Dummy.

Bosch Performance CX drive unit

Have you ever heard the term “It flattens out the hills?” It does, and then some! I can finally talk while riding uphill, I can even answer math questions on hills, breaking my old “No asking mommy to solve math equations on hills!” rule.

The Performance Line CX assist has five modes: Eco, Tour, eMTB, Turbo, and Walk. Since I’m used to being a slow-poke, I spent a lot of my time in Eco mode, especially at the beginning. In Eco mode I found myself traveling 10 mph without even trying. In Tour mode I easily traveled 15 mph, and when I was carrying zero or one kid it felt like the bike was pulling me along. I’m not much of a mountain biker so I didn’t test eMTB mode which sounds fascinating (it automatically switches between Tour and Turbo modes depending on the terrain). And Turbo mode is incredibly fun! Especially when carrying a kid or two up a big hill. It’s easy to go 20 mph (the max) in Turbo mode. All modes require pushing the pedals and don’t do all the work for the rider, but they certainly make it easier and more fun.

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Speaking of pushing pedals, I often forgot to downshift when approaching a red light or stop sign. That can make getting started — especially with a load — tricky. With the Big Easy, I could feel the power right away (even if I was in a hard gear). I never felt in danger of tipping over or being unable to propel the bike forward.

The walk-assistance mode is very cool! Traveling at very low speeds and walking with a loaded cargo bike can be tough. It’s the most common time for many of us family bikers to tip over or drop our bikes. E-assist in general takes care of the former and walk assistance mode takes care of the latter. Walk assistance takes a couple seconds to kick in which makes it really hard not to giggle with glee when the bike rolls forward of its own volition. Walking the bike with small loads is easy unassisted, but I like to carry heavy loads — like bookshelves and camping gear — and the walk mode makes it a breeze.

Bosch PowerPack 500 battery
The bike comes with one battery that carried plenty of charge for me to use throughout the day. My regular day is about 20-30 miles. With 10 of those miles carrying a 90-pound kid in Tour mode, I could do two days in a row on one charge.

The Bosch eBike range assistant is a wonderful tool, though it only goes up to 331 pounds for rider weight + bike weight + cargo weight. Bike weights are kept shrouded in mystery, but I’m going to guess the Big Easy with Dummy bags, Kid Corral, and my basket weights 65 pounds since it felt a bit lighter than my Big Dummy which is a beefy 75 pounds. I also don’t know how much I weigh, but I’m going to guess 150. My kids weigh 90 and 65, and our little dog is 9 pounds. That makes us 379 pounds, not too much over to the 331 pound max of the range assistant tool. The tool says I can go 37.8 miles carrying the whole family in Tour mode and 28.7 in Turbo. That’s some range!

I’d budget for a second battery because the bike comes ready to hold two batteries and it’d be lovely to never have range anxiety. I’d also buy a second charger to keep at work or keep with me as suggested by one of the commenters on my previous post.

Kid Corral

Surly Kid Corral configurations. Screen shot from Kid Corral & Deck Bar Instructions PDF, Surly.

I installed a Deck Bar, Kid Corral (with one side open and one side closed), and two deck pads on the Big Easy.

It’s incredibly sturdy, attaching to the sides of the deck, and it looks slick in matte black with rubber grips. My kids are 11 and 9 years old so the Kid Corral was a little small when they both rode on board. I needed to keep one side in the open orientation so they could both climb on, but that positioned the side bar where it bumped my rear kid’s leg. Once we added a cushion at the back of the bike he was able to slide all the way back and felt much more comfortable.

Dummy bags

The big cargo bags, called Dummy bags are versatile with two sets of buckles to keep small or big loads snug, plus extender straps to carry even bulkier loads. The rain flaps are terrific, though I had trouble anchoring the little hooks with cold fingers. I’d probably just keep the rain covers down at all times, both to not need to deal with the anchors and because my kids complained of the exposed Velcro catching on their wool socks — though it’s the loop of the hook-and-loop on the exterior of the bags so it probably doesn’t catch most clothing.

Tires
The 26″ x 2.5″ ExtraTerrestrial tires are the widest tires I’ve ever biked with. And I liked them! Wide tires are happy at low tire pressures and hold that air for a long time, which makes them very low-maintenance. And no, I don’t know what psi I was running — the bike seemed at a fine pressure on delivery and I didn’t think to check or add air during our time together.

While I didn’t test the tires on any bumpy trails, we did a lot of gravel riding on the “unimproved roadways” in our neighborhood and they were great for that.

Dropper post
The Big Easy can accommodate a dropper post — a system to lower your saddle (and then raise back to the original height) with the push of button. This is cool for two reasons: you can easily share your bike with someone a different height, and you can lower your seat at stop lights to get your feet all the way to the ground easily for less worry at keeping a heavy bike steady.

Note: this means the seat post isn’t the typical size that works well for adding a stem and handlebars to create stoker bars for a deck passenger. That’s why you’ll want the Deck Bar part of the Kid Corral.

Kickstand
For a one-legged kickstand, I found it to be very sturdy. It held the bike and non-human cargo upright just fine. However, for carrying human cargo and heavy loads, I just love having a centerstand (a.k.a. “dualie”). I had to straddle the bike while my kids climbed aboard, and for smaller kids I would have to very carefully lean the bike against a wall to insert the kids.

On this front there’s very good news from Seattle: Haulin’ Colin, current maker of the Rolling Jackass centerstand (as well as maker of my two-bike fork-mount tow hitch that generated some interest in my previous post) is working on a new RJ to fit the Big Easy. The current RJ will fit if you leave the second battery mount off. I’ve seen a lot of Big Dummies and some Big Easies with the stock kickstand, but as a person without a lot of upper body strength who likes to carry heavy things I need to load slowly and messily, a centerstand is a necessity.

Trailer hitch and trailer
This is not only a car or minivan replacement, it’s also a truck replacement! Get a Dummy Hitch and you can haul 300 more pounds with a 5 foot x 2 foot Bill Trailer or shorter Ted Trailer. I’ve always thought my Big Dummy was plenty long and dislike pulling a trailer with it, but having an e-assist makes me rethink that.

Add these things

This ain’t Amsterdam. American bikes usually don’t come stock with lights, locks, drink cages, and fenders. You should immediately add all that stuff.

Lights: You can do way better than cheapie blinkies with this bike: the Bosch unit has the capability to wire in always-on front and rear lights. Get those! I love having dynamo (pedal-powered) lights on my Big Dummy because they’re easy, theft-resistant, and bright.

Locks: The battery key can be matched to an Abus bike lock key. One key to rule them all!

Drink cages:The Big Easy has two spots for water bottle cages on the frame, but they’re not easy to reach while riding. As a comparison, my Big Dummy doesn’t need to accommodate a battery and holds four. This is your minivan, so attach water bottle cages in those two spots and also get an easy-to-reach cage — either on your handlebars or hanging down beneath the top tube, or both! There are cages that screw or bolt around handlebars as well as cages that Velcro anywhere (like hanging beneath top tubes).

Fenders: Fenders protect your clothing and your bike’s drive train. Get front and rear fenders for your bike and extend the life of your chain and rear cassette. The deck will keep you from getting dirty so your legs will only appreciate that front fender, but your bike wants you to get both.

Who’s this bike for?

This bike is really for everyone. Moms like me will like it for carrying kids of all ages up to the 400-pound total bike/rider/cargo weight limit. I mostly carried my 90-pound middle schooler around and I figure he’s the equivalent of one four-year old and one six-year old — a very common age for replacing car trips with cargo bike trips. It was incredibly easy to carry him around, even in Eco mode. Non-human cargo enthusiasts will love the bike alone or with a trailer. I like to say there are a lot of right answers in family biking and not a lot of wrong answers, and this bike will really make a lot of riders happy.

What would I change?

I’m a bit spoiled because I’ve spent 50 dog years with the accessories on my Big Dummy and I’d want to have those on a Big Easy:

– Rolling Jackass centerstand is the most important part of the bike in my book.
– Xtracycle Hooptie (I have the LT1) accommodates my big kids better than the Kid Corral. This would probably mean I’d need to build my bike with an Xtracycle deck.
– Surly Open Bars because while the stock bars make the bike feel like a fun mountain bike, I’m more of a laid-back errand runner and I like my swept-back handlebars.
– Basket for my dog and other stuff was easy to add because the fork has all those unsightly barnacles or warts (aka brazons) for attaching lots of stuff.
– Foot rails are helpful for loading kids, providing a foot resting spot while playing passenger, and for perching heavy cargo atop. The LT1 U-tubes from my older model Xtracycle Hooptie worked great on the Big Easy, but if I couldn’t find new old stock tubes, I’d look into having some fabricated.

“I bet you kept the bike!”

Thanks for the numerous messages predicting I’d keep the bike! I had a terrific two and a half weeks with the Big Easy and I know if I had one of my own, I’d love it to pieces. Except I already have a pretty similar bike I love (side note: this is a common affliction, if you love a Surly Big Dummy or Surly Big Fat Dummy and are on Facebook, there’s an unofficial group called “I love my Surly Big (&Fat) Dummy” whose name will surely change soon to accommodate our new cousin). I’d like to reiterate that I love e-bikes even though I don’t have one and I think everyone who wants an e-bike should get one. E-bikes will surely change the world. I’ve gone through no small effort to create a car-free life for myself and my kids that works very well with my slow analog bike. But if I were replacing a car, I would indeed have moved house, changed my identity, and kept the bike.

Thanks for reading!

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s statement on I-205 path conditions

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 15:56

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Last week I highlighted conditions on the I-205 path at NE Sandy Boulevard. The response to the coverage here and on Facebook was overwhelming.

My intention was to make people aware that this path and others have become dramatically impacted by our homelessness crisis. Not only was the path full of personal belongings and discarded items, many of our fellow Portlanders have become so desperate for a place to live that they built shelters directly on the path — nearly blocking it in some sections.

The comments here on BikePortland were mostly productive and I think overall we’ve all learned a lot about the various issues at play. Facebook was a different story. Too many of the 1,300 or so comments were useless and mean. So, after over 220,000 views and 2,500 shares in just four days, I took the video down and posted a note to explain why.

On Saturday, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation, left a comment on that post that I think merits more attention. I’ve pasted it below:

You probably know this but the I-205 path is ODOT property and up until very recently ODOT’s sole responsibility — the city did not have jurisdiction for clean ups. An agreement between ODOT and the City was recently made and passed by Council granting the city the ability to conduct the clean ups. Why is this a good thing? Because the city has adopted more humane policies for camp clean-ups than ODOT and because ODOT has been hard to reach and slow to act in many areas letting hazardous situations grow and fester. The situation on this path is unacceptable and unsafe for everyone involved. It’s on the list for clean up, which I’ve been told is coming soon.

Also unacceptable is to sweep people when we don’t have viable alternatives to offer them. We only have a few sanctioned villages and people can’t just show up and pitch their tents. We don’t have and can’t manage enough alternative shelter sites for everyone who’s living outside. We don’t have adequate emergency shelter (outside of severe winter weather events) both in number of beds and types of demographics served and not every homeless person is willing or able to endure a shelter setting. And most importantly we don’t have adequate affordable housing, let alone the supportive housing needed by individuals who face challenges that prevent them from being succesful in housing on their own. There is literally nowhere for them to go — this is a local, regional, state, and national crisis.

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Very few people are homeless by choice. Poverty is not a choice. Mental illness is not a choice. Addiction is not a choice. And our housing crisis has pushed thousands of people into homelessness. That was a choice — a choice made by corporate interests and policy makers to not treat housing like the basic need and human right that it is— but the people who have suffered the consequences had no choice.

Once an individual becomes homeless it is exponentially harder to get back into housing and employment. It’s a dangerous, humiliating, and traumatic experience that can exacerbate existing conditions and cause new ones.

I know many Portlanders are frustrated by our homeless crisis. I also understand the frustration of cyclists who experience frequent and often dangerous infringement on our designated bike lanes and paths. And on the I-205 path those two frustrations converge with some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in our city. I was disappointed to see some of the comments—both the misinformation and lack of compassion—but heartened by others. People experiencing homelessness are our neighbors and community members. They are suffering. And our entire society is failing them. I hope more people can keep these harsh realities in mind when they encounter scenes like the one you shared.

I hope we’ve all learned something here; or at least gained a broader perspective on how these complex issues intersect.

In hindsight, I would have handled this story differently. Even though we’ve covered homelessness from a non-cycling perspective on several occasions in the past, this time I left out important context.

I’m sorry my coverage gave a platform for hate and divisiveness. I’ll be more careful in the future.

If you’re curious about the status of the I-205 path at Sandy, the City of Portland addressed it on Thursday and posted this update to Twitter:

Crews finished cleaning the I-205/NE Sandy multi-use path yesterday. We cleaned the ODOT-owned site just 3.5 weeks ago, and we’re hoping it stays clear so everyone can enjoy it. pic.twitter.com/usGZkBhiWJ

— Portland Office of Management & Finance (@PDX_OMF) March 21, 2019

Thanks for all your feedback and comments.

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

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Pedaling through timber reserves and history in Columbia County

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 14:41

A second-growth timber reserve on Camp 9 Road in Columbia County.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where we ride. Whether I’m in on the streets of inner northeast Portland, or way out in the middle of the woods, I want to go below the surface and beyond the pretty views. I want to know about the people who lived on the land long before we pedaled through. I want to know what they did, what they cared about, and why they’re no longer there.

When it comes to unpaved roads in the hills above Scappoose — from camps and mills established in the 19th century, to the active harvesting we see today — much of that history revolves around logging. On Saturday I witnessed some of it first-hand when I joined a group of fellow unpaved road lovers at a gathering hosted by the Coastal Mountain Sport Haus in Vernonia.

Below are a few pics from my early morning ride out to the Sport Haus:

As we shared in our 2014 profile, the Sport Haus is a bike-friendly lodge on Highway 47/Nehalem Highway (about 10 miles north of Vernonia Lake) that’s owned by Glen and Sandy Crinklaw (pictured below).

Glen is a retired Columbia County Parks employee who knows quite a bit about the timber industry and its impacts on the land, people, and politics. Both he and Sandy are students of history; the Sport Haus itself sits on land granted to Sandy’s family during the Homestead Act. Riding with them adds meaning to what can otherwise seem like anonymous (yet beautiful!) dirt roads.

With peak riding season approaching, the Crinklaws and their friend Dan Morgan (a local gravel legend) wanted to show off a new loop they’ve affectionately named, “Bushwacking, Booney Riding to Camp 8 and beyond” (see the route and full description on RideWithGPS.com).

We started by hugging the Nehalem River; first on smoothly paved highway, and then on unpaved logging roads.

We then found ourselves on the Crown Zellerbach (CZ) Trail, which is also known as Columbia Forest Road in its northern section.

The road leading into what was once Camp 8.

There’s a section just a few miles from its northern end (at Pittsburg) that opens up into a vast meadow. On Saturday, Glen shared a bit of history about what used to be there.

Sketch of Camp 8 circa 1917.
(Source: Columbia County)

In the 1920s it was known as Camp 8. Back then it was a home to a bustling encampment and saw mill serviced by a railroad line. Nearby was a separate camp for Chinese people who worked on the railroad. Camp 8 was in operation until the 1970s. There are only a few remnants of heavy machinery once used at the site, so it’s very easy to just pedal by here and never realize what used to be. Now that I’ve gotten a taste of the history, I’m inspired to learn more.

And by the way, if you haven’t ridden “the CZ” yet, I highly recommend checking it out.

South of Camp 8, we veered off the CZ onto an overgrown road that didn’t look like anyone ever used it. It’s a section of Camp 9 Road between Kenusky Creek and Dog Creek that’s largely overgrown. In some sections it was hard to even walk our bikes due to recent landslides. Our reward for the slog was a section of forest reserve that has some of the tallest, second-growth trees I’ve ridden through anywhere in the region.

*Check out our 2019 Gravel Riding Guide*

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Our route eventually took us to Camp Wilkerson where we met up with Apiary Road for a fast, paved descent back to Highway 47, the Nehalem River, and the Sport Haus (where a feast awaited!).

There’s a ton to explore in this area and it’s relatively close to Portland. Due to the patchwork of timber company ownership and active logging areas, I recommend staying on vetted routes like this one (see below) and/or only riding on weekends. There’s an effort from local governments to develop and promote riding in this area; but no one is eager to step on timber company toes.

BikePortland’s 2019 gravel coverage is brought to you by the Oregon Triple Crown Series, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS. Check out our Gravel Riding Guide for more rides, routes, recaps, and resources.

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

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E-scooters to return next month with tougher regulations on riders and operators

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 11:01

PBOT wants to crack down on sidewalk riding this time around.
(Photos: BikePortland)

Portland’s second attempt at integrating electric scooters into the mobility mix could get started as early as April 26th.

And unlike the 2,000 scooters we had on the streets last year, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will start with 2,500 and estimates we could see as many as 9,000 if enough scooter companies play ball with a host of new regulations. PBOT says if all permits are granted and all operators qualify for incentives we could have 15,000 scooters in use by January 2020.

The new pilot is scheduled to last one year, after which PBOT says they’ll work with the public to develop a permanent program.

In their announcement today, PBOT released a mix of incentives and regulations that demonstrate the challenge they face to create a scooter program that leads to high ridership yet also addresses serious concerns raised by some people and organizations during the first pilot. At nearly 6,000 trips per day during the 120-day pilot last year, the scooters proved to be a valuable mobility option. However, due to a lack of safe space to ride them and a lack of consideration for others, too many people rode them on sidewalks and parked them in places that obstructed public right-of-way.

Earlier this month PBOT was sent a letter and threatened with legal action by Disability Rights Oregon over concerns about scooters being parked on sidewalks. In response, PBOT has developed a system of carrots and sticks that puts the onus on riders and scooter operators to fix that problem.

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(Source: PBOT scooter pilot application)

PBOT will mandate a 25 cent “street use fee” be added to each scooter fare. Revenue from that fee will be added to a 5 to 20 cent “right-of-way fee” (based on where the rental takes place) charged to scooter companies in order to “generate funding to build safe places for people to use e-scooters, such as protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways.”

Scooter with a seat.

The more a company does to prevent riders from riding and parking on sidewalks, the more scooters they’ll be allowed to release (and the more money they can make). PBOT is offering a 20 percent increase in the size of a company’s fleet if they, “implement innovative technology or business practices that eliminate sidewalk riding.” PBOT will also award more points to a company’s permit application if they offer scooters that can be locked to public bike racks (instead of sidewalks or ADA ramps).

When it comes to accessibility, PBOT will allow operators to introduce scooters with seats.

As for riders who flout traffic laws, PBOT will make operators responsible for issuing warnings and fines to account holders who aren’t riding legally. In today’s announcement, PBOT said they’ll employ “regulatory specialists” who will monitor sidewalks and illegal riding and then forward that information onto operators. After a warning, a rider could get a fine of $50 for sidewalk riding or $15 for illegal parking.

These sidewalk fines are likely to raise attention of transportation and social justice advocates. The Portland Police Bureau has a problem with racial bias and PBOT’s own Vision Zero Task Force recommended against increased enforcement of automobile due to racial profiling concerns. It remains to be seen how illegal sidewalk riding will be enforced without singling out people based on how they look. (And remember, many people ride on the sidewalk because they feel they will be killed or seriously hurt while sharing streets with auto users.)

Another area of concern last time around was the use of scooters in Portland Parks properties like the Eastbank Esplande and Waterfront Park. It was technically illegal (no motorized vehicles allowed in parks), but many people did it anyways. To limit access to these areas, PBOT says they will require companies to use “geofencing” technology that prevents riders from ending a trip and parking in Waterfront Park.

To encourage availability in east Portland, companies will be allowed to increase the number of scooters in their fleet by 35 percent if they meet or exceed 2-3 trips per scooter per day. A minimum of 15 percent of a company’s total scooter fleet must be deployed east of I-205 (that’s down from a 20 percent minimum last pilot).

Permit applications are due April 9th and PBOT will notify finalists April 18th.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Zwift world domination, helmet testing standards, ignoring drivers, and more

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 08:34

Welcome to the week.

We’re excited to announce a new sponsor: Lovejoy’s Tea Room at (NE 33rd and Killingsworth). Owned and operated by a BikePortland reader, you’ll get a 10 percent discount if you arrive by foot, bike or transit!

And with that, here are the most noteworthy things we came across in the past seven days…

Next level indoor riding: A must-read from Bicycling about how Zwift is making indoor cycling not just a training tool but a new discipline altogether.

Clearcutting the Corridor: Sellwood resident Edith Mirante laments the loss of trees near her home adjacent to a newly paved section of the Springwater Corridor path.

Helmet ads in hot water: The German transport ministry is facing harsh criticism for a pro-helmet ad campaign that features scantily-clad models.

Bike taxes lowered: In a bid to reduce congestion and promote cycling, the Belgium parliament voted to drastically reduce taxes on the purchase of new bicycles from 21 to 6 percent.

Street protest collision: A man who drove his truck through a crowd of protestors in October and allegedly hit one person on purpose, had the case against him dismissed when the plaintiff said he wouldn’t testify.

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E-scooter injuries: As the next wave of e-scooter use comes this summer the Centers for Disease Control are taking a closer look at how people were injured while using them. In San Diego, 48 percent of people injured had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit for intoxication and 52 percent tested for an illicit substance.

Get rid of cars in cities: Not only is Portland not on this list of eight cities taking bold action to limit car use in cities, we are actively working to expand car use (thanks PBOT and ODOT!). Sorry.

Hate crime with a car as the weapon: A jury ruled that a man with ties to a white supremacist gang is guilty of a hate crime when he purposely used this Jeep to run down and kill Larnell Bruce in Gresham in 2016.

Role reversal: Ford has a problem with their Explorer SUVS as hundreds of people say fumes inside the cars are making them sick.

“The best offense is none at all”: The Bike Snob says no matter how angry you are, it’s never worth it to confront an auto user.

Longer commutes: New data show higher housing costs in Portland are leading to longer-distance commutes and the bad news is public transit users spend way more time getting to work than drivers do.

Helmet testing: After the big debut of new “WaveCel” helmet tech last week, VeloNews reports that the folks behind MIPS say more standardized testing is needed to make accurate comparisons between safety ratings.

No more cars: A NY Times columnist says private car ownership is on the way out and she’s practicing what she preaches.

Twitter thread of the week:

Cars are the perfect late capitalist consumer product: an expensive, often de facto mandatory, solution to a problem that the product itself has largely caused.

— Michael T Sweeney (@mtsw) March 22, 2019

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

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Alpenrose lawsuit and sale dies; the velodrome and ‘cross venue lives!

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 13:56

The velodrome is home to several race events each year.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Great news to start off your weekend: The Portland Tribune reported a few hours ago that the possible sale of Alpenrose Dairy that would have ended public access to the velodrome and cyclocross venue is off.

As we shared earlier this month, fears of a sale of the dairy and surrounding property led to a lawsuit by members of the Cadonau family. They aimed to stop the sale, which they claimed was nothing more than a money-grab by other members of the ownership family.

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A few minutes ago we received a statement from the suit’s plaintiffs: Tracey Cadonau McKinnon, Carl Cadonau III and Cary Cadonau:

Petition on Change.org.

“We filed a lawsuit to prevent a sale that would have ended Alpenrose Dairy as we and the community know and love. The outpouring of support from the Alpenrose community was overwhelming. We are pleased to report that our collective efforts have resulted in the termination of the pending sale. Accordingly, there is no reason to continue the lawsuit. We are humbled by and deeply grateful for the support of the Alpenrose community.”

In addition to a beloved venue for cycling, Alpenrose was home to other community assets like a little league field, a theater, and more.

A petition to save the dairy has gathered well over 9,000 signatures.

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

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Jobs of the Week: GO Box, Velotech, Community Cycling Center

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 09:10

We had four jobs posted this week… and one of them (from Pedal Bike Tours) has already been filled!

Just goes to show that if you are job-curious, you should: sign up for the Job Listings Email so you get notified ASAP; spend the measly $75 to post your job with us because these listings work!

Learn more about this week’s listings below…

–> Operations Assistant – GO Box

–> Customer Experience Specialist Full Time – Velotech

–> Bike Mechanic – Community Cycling Center

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

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

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

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Rat Patrol, Albina history tour, gold sprints, and more

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 08:32

Shot from Marine Drive taken earlier this week.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This Weekend Event Guide is sponsored by Treo Bike Tours in Eastern Oregon. Plan your 2019 trip today!

Welcome to the weekend. Spring is finally officially here and we could not be happier about it.

With peak riding season around the corner, it’s time to make sure you’re ready to ride. That means having your mind, body and bike in usable condition. This week’s guide has several rides, events – and even a clinic – that will help you get ready.

Thanks to our friends at Treo Bike Tours for supporting BikePortland! If you haven’t explored a trip out at their eastern Oregon paradise, you owe it to yourself to consider it.

Friday, March 22nd

Rat Patrol Friday Night Ride – 8:00 pm (roll out 9:00) at Irving Park (NE)
Roll out for a fun, slow, welcoming, and social group ride with this, “inclusive bunch of misfits.” More info here.

Saturday, March 23rd

Sorella Forte Women’s Club Ride – 9:00 am at River City Bicycles
The Sorellas are one of Portland’s most well-respected clubs Their weekly ride is geared toward intermediate riders and will have an average speed of 15-17 mph and will go about 30-40 miles. More info here.

Hidden History of Albina Walking Tour – 11:00 am at Sons of Haiti Food Cart Pod (N)
Local nonprofit Know Your City will lead this educational excursion to help make your more aware of the places many of us only ride through. This area has gone through transformative change and we owe it to those who lived here before us to be aware of — and respectful of — that history. More info here.

Western Bikeworks Gold Sprints Series – 6:00 pm at Western Bikeworks (NW)
Hop on a stationary bike and spin as fast as you can. Or just watch in awe. A great excuse to hang out at your local bike shop. They’ll have drink discounts, snacks, and a fun and welcoming vibe. More info here.

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Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
With road racing season right around the corner it’s time to get those legs tuned up. There’s no better local ride to do that than this weekly hammer-fest. Not fast yet? Groups of different speeds will form and ride together. More info here.

Bike Shop Storytime and Q & A – 11:00 am at Clever Cycles (SE)
This kid-oriented event is hosted by volunteers from Kidical Mass PDX and Books With Pictures. Don’t forget to bring your bikes (if you want to ride afterward) and your family biking questions and curiosities! More info here.

Clinic: How and When to Buy a Bike (Guys Welcome) – 5:00 pm at Western Bikeworks (NW)
Ride Like a Girl Portland wants to help you make the best decision on that new bike purchase. Bonus: Western Bikeworks is offering a purchase discount for anyone who shows up. Everyone is welcome. More info here.

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

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

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Check our Gravel Riding Guide and get excited for the season

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 12:31

Scene from the Hell of the North Plains ride in January 2018.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This special coverage sponsored by Oregon Triple Crown, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS.

Gravel grinding, rambling, mixed-terrain riding, off-roading, adventure riding — no matter what you call it, exploring unpaved backroads is one of the most popular things to do on a bike these days. What’s not to like? Pedaling on logging, fire, and farm roads gives you the accessibility of road riding and the adventure of mountain biking all rolled into one.

Gravel Guide partners!

While the gravel trend is strong nationwide, our regional and statewide abundance of quiet backroads has made it a fast-growing part of our cycling scene.

And this year it’s poised to explode: Promoters are launching exciting new events, the industry is offering new gravel-specific bikes and products and local riding clubs are making it easy to find new roads and new friends.

Thanks to a partnership with the Oregon Triple Crown series, Co-Motion Cycles, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS, BikePortland will bring you more gravel coverage than ever this year. I’ll be traveling far and wide to pedal some of the best dirt roads in the state and will keep you plugged into the gravel scene. I’ll also share guest posts from other gravel riding fans, profiles of gravel bike builders, and more.

If you’re a veteran of this site, you’ll know we’ve been fans of unpaved road riding for a long time. For us (and many others), it started with Otto Miller Road back in 2012. In 2013 I rode the “Bullshit 100” ride and was hooked forever.

In hopes of getting you hooked — and/or helping you plan your season — below is a list of major gravel rides happening in Oregon this year (you can also check the Gravel category on the BikePortland calendar for the latest listings):

April
Gorge Gravel Grinder – 4/7 (Breakaway Promotions)
Yamhill Gravel Fondo – 4/20 (Zone 5 Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 1 – 4/26 (Breakaway Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 2 – 4/27 (Breakaway Promotions)
Cascade Gravel Grinder Day 3 – 4/28 (Breakaway Promotions)

May
Oregon Coast Gravel Epic – 5/4 (Mudslinger Events)
Oregon Emerald Outback – 5/4 (Benjamin Colwill)
Gravel – 5/17 (Cycle Oregon)
Sasquatch Duro – 5/18 (Mudslinger Events)

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This is Bacona Road last Saturday. Can’t wait for all the snow to melt!


June
Oregon Gran Fondo (Sherman Route) – 6/1 (Mudslinger Events)
Skull 120/60/30 – 6/15 (Harney County Chamber of Commerce)
Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder – 6/19 (Breakaway Promotions)

August
Ochoco Gravel Roubaix – 8/24

That’s a seriously exciting lineup!

If you’re like me, you daydream with maps. Check out the routes of selected events in the Ride With GPS map below:

I can’t wait to share more as the season gets underway. Stay tuned for chances to win a free pass to the Oregon Triple Crown series and for lots more coverage. If you have gravel-related questions or story ideas, let us know!

For now, check out our 2019 Gravel Riding Guide for lots of ride recaps and photos, links to local resources and riding clubs, and more.

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

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Guest Opinion: Losing the 7th Avenue greenway

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 08:51

This post from Kiel Johnson comes in response to news announced today that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has decided to route the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway on 9th Avenue.

“9th Avenue will become the greenway.”

The words put finality on years of advocacy, countless hours spent knocking on doors, talking with neighbors, making yard signs, and writing letters. This past Sunday my living room was overflowing with my fellow neighbors and their children who live on 7th. They had come hoping to hear something different. Nick Falbo, the PBOT project manager, had come to deliver to news. One family immediately walked out the door. No one knew quite what to do next.

Right now in Portland it feels like the push for a more livable city has been losing a lot.

Sometimes you get the outcome you want and sometimes you do not. The dream of a calm street outside our door where our children could safely go outside had come to represent something more than just an infrastructure project. It was a symbol of a changing neighborhood. “We aren’t against change, just not so fast” one of my African American neighbors said at a forum I attended where every African American person present resoundingly rejected a 7th ave Greenway.

There are two major African American organizations located on 7th, Albina Head Start and Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives. Both formed before I was born with the goal of helping right some of our society’s injustices. Neither of these groups saw how making 7th ave a greenway would help the people they serve.

In December my first daughter was born and I decided I was going to do everything I could to make the Greenway on 7th happen. I want her to grow up on a safe street where she would have the freedom to go outside. I wrote about some of my efforts in a series published on BikePortland this past fall.

Since hearing the news that the Greenway is not coming I have felt the entire rainbow of negative emotions. Anger, sadness, despair at a broken city process, and a looming sense that the world is inherently ruined. Losing is always hard and it is even harder to think that my daughter will miss the chance to grow up on a safer street when we had the designs and money all in place to make it happen.

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Right now in Portland it feels like the push for a more livable city has been losing a lot.

50 people showed up at an Ice Cream Social event we organized in September.

Whether it is the $500 million to widen a freeway or the well-worn 4-year-old plastic wands on the Better Naito pilot project that represent our cities lack of urgency to invest in real fixes. After watching the video Jonathan made of the I-84 path this week it is easy to wonder what is going on here. Why can we not solve these problems?

Part of it has to do with political leadership, part of it with the fraying and ineffectiveness of our advocacy institutions, and also a generational power struggle. We do not get to make our own history as we like, we have to make it in the reality inherited to us by past generations.

This past year I turned 32, over the past ten years I have started a nationwide push for getting kids to bike to school on bike trains and created a new business model that combines bike valet with bicycle repair that has helped make the aerial tram the most biked to place in North America. I have successfully advocated for better bike lanes on Willamette Blvd and have tried to be a useful part of the conversation on as many other projects in Portland as I can.

We may not get the greenway we wanted but we can still make a better community. And in the end that’s what this is all about.

For every win I can count many more disappointments. Just because you lose sometimes does not mean you give up or were wrong for trying. Losing never feels good but there are certainly worse reasons to lose besides my city prioritizing the requests of community groups that have historically not been listened to which is something we need to do.

At the end of our meeting my neighbors and I made a plan to host a series of block parties on 7th every Sunday this summer. One thing I heard from everyone is that there is a feeling of a lack of connectedness among neighbors. We also agreed to meet this Sunday to go on a neighborhood bus ride to experience the expanded 24 bus that crosses 7th and now goes over the Fremont Bridge to NW.

We may not get the greenway we wanted but we can still make a better community. And in the end that’s what this is all about.

— Kiel Johnson, @go_by_bike on Twitter

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PBOT decides on 9th Avenue for route of future Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:03

Close-up of new proposal showing where the greenway will jog over to 9th. See full map below.
(Graphic: City of Portland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has shifted course on their Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. Citing a lack of “broad community support,” for the Northeast 7th Avenue route option, they’ll announce later today that the new greenway will be on Northeast 9th Avenue. (Update: Here’s the official announcement.)

The change in plans comes despite major support and a grassroots activism effort to save the 7th Avenue route.

Background

These initial designs for 7th Avenue created much excitement in the community.

The enthusiastic support for 7th Avenue began three years ago at a meeting where volunteers with northeast Portland neighborhood associations gave an overwhelming thumbs-up to making it a low-stress, family-friendly bikeway. There was debate (and dueling petitions) from the start, but supporters of 7th far outweighed the opposition.

When the project was officially announced one year ago, PBOT said the final route could be either 7th or 9th, or a combination of the two; but initial public feedback strongly favored 7th. 7th is the flattest and most direct route between the forthcoming Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge over I-84 and the Woodlawn neighborhood, while 9th has hills and other considerable drawbacks from a planning, budget, and connectivity perspective.

9th also runs squarely into Irving Park, which does not currently have a through bikeway that meets greenway standards.

Once plans for the 7th Avenue route came into focus back in July, those who supported it were even more excited. PBOT’s plans were truly groundbreaking and represented an unprecedented level of human-scale, cycling-oriented designs. There were mini-roundabouts, a park that would stretch across the street (creating to cul-de-sacs that would create dead-ends for drivers), and more.

But there was one big problem: A key segment of the community — one that has weathered institutional discrimination and vast changes to their neighborhoods in a relatively short period of time — was not fully on board.

“This would make it more difficult for people — frankly, low-income people who are trying to use the services of Head Start.”
— Ron Herndon, Albina Head Start to The Skanner in August 2018

Many black people who’ve lived in adjacent neighborhoods for a half-century or more were not comfortable with such transformative changes to 7th Avenue. The backlash to the project reminded us of the controversy in 2011 around the North Williams Avenue project. People like Albina Head Start Executive Director Ron Herndon (shown above), were concerned about how the plans would impact driving access to his building on the corner of 7th and Northeast Fremont. And Herndon wasn’t the only one.

PBOT soon came to the realization that their traditional methods of engagement and open houses were not giving them a complete picture of public opinion. So in September of last year they paused the project and took it directly to black business owners, black residents and black community leaders.

PBOT’s realization and rationale

PBOT’s Nick Falbo (right) at a focus group with black residents in January.
(Photo: PBOT)

“There’s no doubt we underestimated the role that this street plays in the hearts and minds of Portland’s black community.”
— Nick Falbo, PBOT project manager

PBOT Project Manager Nick Falbo said in a phone interview last week that despite their attempts to include all community voices in the planning process, “There’s no doubt we underestimated the role that this street plays in the hearts and minds of Portland’s black community.”

Falbo said they worked hard to make sure their initial plan for a 7th Avenue greenway accommodated all the needs of business owners and other stakeholders along the corridor. They presented it to neighborhood associations and organizations like Head Start and the Soul District Business Association. At the same time, letters of support for 7th Avenue were pouring in.

“But it got the point,” Falbo shared, “Where that support [for 7th] was actually becoming a liability.”

As support grew with the realization that a dream-like cycling street could become a reality, so did the opposition.

“We started hearing from the Soul District Business Association and other black community partners like SEI [Self Enhancement, Inc.] and PCRI [Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives] and they started raising concerns,” Falbo said. “When Albina Head Start says this might be bad for their families, and when John Washington with Soul District Business Association says this might be bad for their main street, and when service providers in the area say this will be bad for their communities, we really owe it to them to listen.”

Falbo said PBOT realized there was a “big division” in the community. So they held two focus groups in December and January organized by SEI and PCRI. “We learned a lot,” Falbo said. When it comes to 7th Avenue, “It certainly plays a bigger role in the black community than we ever anticipated.”

According to a fact sheet on the focus groups published today, one participant said, “We know change will happen; that’s life. But the change has to be tailored to the community, not just an individual group without regard for others.” Another person said, “As soon as an idea comes up for any kind of project or changes, Black folks need to be at the table. Sometimes, we don’t even know there’s a table to be at!”

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Falbo said a major takeaway from these focus groups was a realization that PBOT’s Bicycle Plan for 2030 — passed in 2010, before the Williams project and the racial reckoning at PBOT that came with it — is woefully outdated when it comes to the issue of racial equity. “What we heard from our black community partners was that they weren’t involved in those processes [the Bike Plan and Transportation System Plan] and when we come to the community and we say, ‘Hey we’ve got these greenways for 7th and 9th,’ a lot of the response is, ‘Where did those [ideas] even come from?'”

And, similar to feelings we heard expressed around the Williams project, there’s a legacy of distrust around change in these neighborhoods — especially when it’s proposed by a government agency and isn’t seen as a benefit to long-time residents. “What they see in a project like this,” Falbo explained, “Is transformative change with the opportunity for unintended consequences and it’s something they fail to see a lot of value in. They’re just not getting things from this project that some others might be.”

Keep in mind, the changes proposed for 7th weren’t just a new bike lane. They would have forever altered the street, and therefore, the neighborhood.

As Falbo put it: “After more communication with these community partners it was pretty clear that we lacked the broad support that would be necessary for transformative change on 7th.”

The proposal

(Click images to enlarge)

Instead of a greenway on 7th, PBOT will put it on 9th. They’ll also create what they call a “Safer 7th”. They say it’s a “double-win”. Instead of changes to just one corridor, we’ll get changes on two.

Proposed route.

On 7th, the focus will no longer be to reduce the number of drivers. PBOT will instead use speed bumps and other measures to slow traffic down and improve safety. “Everything but diversion,” is how Falbo described it.

The existing traffic circle at 7th and Tillamook will be removed, and they might remove several others as well. Falbo says the circles work well on lower-volume streets, but as competition for space increases, they become points of conflict.

PBOT will create new crossings near schools, businesses, and at the bike streets of Tillamook, Morris, and Going. There will also be a new bike lane between Tillamook and Weidler to help people connect to the Lloyd District and the Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge.

The new greenway on 9th will begin at Tillamook and go north to Holman (another greenway). There will be median island diverters to aid in crossing and reduce driving volumes at the intersections with Webster and Emerson, as well as Ainsworth. PBOT will beef up crossings at Tillamook, Fremont, Prescott, Alberta and Killingsworth.

As for how to get through Irving Park, PBOT says they’re still working with Portland Parks & Recreation to figure out a design and funding. The plan will be to go ahead with construction of the greenway project without the new path through park. “We recognize the Irving Park path today is inadequate for bicycling, but we are committed to trying to solve that problem,” is how Falbo put it.

Responses to the new proposal

With the compromise on 7th and the greenway on 9th, PBOT says this new proposal has the broad support they didn’t see when the project focused solely on 7th.

New 7th Avenue resident Kiel Johnson (here with his daughter Lulu) is disappointed by the decision.
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

PBOT Capital Projects, Assets and Maintenance Communications Coordinator Hannah Schafer says the new proposal gives the community even more. “We’re making improvements on two separate streets… From our perspective this additional engagement we did with the black community helped us build a better project.”

For Falbo, the experience has been a major education. “It definitely pointed to some blindspots,” he said.

Given what happened on Williams Avenue, how did PBOT not see this coming? When I asked Falbo that question, he said they knew they were operating, “in the shadow of Williams,” and that the blindspots with this project were partly based on timing (Williams was eight years ago). “There are different stakeholders now… Many people come and go, and roles change, and we haven’t done the best job maintaining those relationships from that experience. So we had to rebuild those relationships.”

“We hope this decision will in some small way demonstrate this community values the participation of people of color in public investment decisions.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

New 7th Avenue resident Kiel Johnson is an active community volunteer who owns the Go By Bike valet and bike shop in the South Waterfront District and is a regular contributor to BikePortland. He launched a grassroots effort in support of 7th Avenue that we chronicled in a series of articles. He’s disappointed with the outcome (in a meeting this week with PBOT’s Falbo, he walked out of the room upon hearing the news). “Sometimes you get the outcome you want, and sometimes you do not,” he shared with us via email yesterday. “The dream of a calm street outside our door where our children could safely go outside had come to represent something more than just an infrastructure project.”

Johnson met many of his neighbors during his work. Those new bonds won’t go away even if his dream for 7th Avenue has. “We may not get the greenway we wanted,” he said, “but we can still make a better community and in the end that is what this is all about.”

The Street Trust used to support 7th Avenue. But upon hearing PBOT’s new plans, they’ve shifted support to 9th. In a statement, Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said, “We hope this decision will in some small way demonstrate this community values the participation of people of color in public investment decisions. A project on NE 9th can deliver the low-car experience needed to make a variety of cyclists feel comfortable without disrupting access to institutions serving people of color. The Street Trust is eager to advocate to complete the greenway through Irving Park to create a memorable route marked by a beautiful off-street segment.”

The project is scheduled for construction in 2020. Stay tuned for announcements of open houses and other opportunities to weigh in on the new proposal to iron out design details.

Learn more at PBOT’s Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project page.

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

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Our annual don’t be a jerk in River View Cemetery post

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:10

Please slow down and ride with respect for others.
(Photo: BikePortland)

One thing I’ve realized about doing daily local news in a fast-growing city is that even if we’ve covered something several times, many people who are new to town are still in the dark about some things.

At least I hope that’s the case with a recent incident in River View Cemetery.

So if you’re new to town, please listen up: That forested path through the cemetery that takes you safely between the Sellwood Bridge and SW Palatine Hill Road/SW Terwilliger Blvd is private property. We are extremely lucky that the Board of Directors of the nonprofit that runs the cemetery have given us (via the City of Portland) the right to pass through. They do this because there is no other direct and safe option. And because they are nice people. Suffice it to say, the River View path is a gem that’s used and adored by many — from commuters to racers and weekend warriors — and it’s a privilege to use it, not a right.

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones.”

Longtime readers of this site will recall that we first raised a red flag about unsafe riding behaviors in 2006. Then a few years later we covered the issue again when the cemetery’s board threatened to install speed bumps to slow people down. The most recent bout of disrespectful riding happened in 2017.

And I’m sorry to say I’ve once again fielded a concerned call from River View’s new Executive Director Rachel Essig. She said a man riding his bicycle was going downhill “extremely fast” and crashed with a woman who was riding slowly uphill. The man was then “verbally abusive” to the rider he ran into.

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I got in touch with the victim a few days ago. She said she’s 62 and claims she was riding uphill around a blind corner before it happened. “He came around the corner so fast. I thought, he’s going to hit me, what am I going to do?!” Thankfully, she was able to avoid most of the impact and wasn’t seriously hurt (except for a big gash in her leg from where it dug into her pedal).

“If this guy would have hit me, I would have been in the hospital with several broken bones,” the woman told me.

To add insult to injury, after the man flew into a ditch to avoid her, he allegedly got up and started yelling, “F*** you b****!”*

(UPDATE, 9:07 pm: The man involved in this collision has shared a different version of the collision in a comment below.)

If this is how it happened, this is seriously rude behavior — both the fast cycling through the cemetery and the verbal abuse.

Signs posted at both entries clearly say the top speed is 15 mph. Yes, that means you need to drag your brakes on the descent. If you have River View as a favorite segment in Strava, you should remove it as such. In fact, you should contact Strava (like we and others have) and demand that they delete all cemetery segments from their system.

Again. Please refrain from riding like a jerk in the cemetery. And tell your friends that we could lose access to this precious route if the board gets tired of tolerating this type of behavior.

In related news, take note that the cemetery will be completely closed to cycling on Memorial Day Weekend — May 25th through 27th — in order to recognize the solemn holiday when many people seek peace with deceased loved ones.

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

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Pressure builds on ODOT as new concerns surface around I-5 Rose Quarter project

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 16:29

Fresh off a public hearing dominated by opposition to their I-5 Rose Quarter project, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is now hearing new concerns from the Portland Public Schools Board.

In addition, the leader of the Albina Vision project, Rukaiyah Adams, made public statements about the project at an event hosted by the Portland Parks Foundation last night. And No More Freeways PDX has filed a formal request for an extension to the current comment period for the project’s Environment Assessment on grounds that ODOT withheld crucial data and gave the community only 18 days to analyze it.

Here’s a rundown on each of those fronts…

The big news was reported by The Oregonian late today. According to their story the PPS Board will ask ODOT to do a full Environmental Impact Statement — a much more rigorous undertaking than an Environmental Assessment (both of which are requirements under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process).

The O says, “The district’s concerns mirror those the community at large has expressed about the interstate project,” that ODOT hasn’t given them enough time to evaluate the EA, and that both ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation have failed to fully engage with them about the myriad issues surrounding Harriet Tubman Middle School.

The full PPS Board is due to vote on whether or not they should formally request an EIS at their meeting tonight (6:00 pm, details and agenda here).

Adams speaking at an event held at the Portland Armory last night.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

ODOT’s I-5 project was also under a microscope at an event last night hosted by the Portland Parks Foundation. There were speakers and a panel to discuss how the project might be an opportunity to create world-class parks and urban spaces. The I-5 Rose Quarter project was paired with Albina Vision (we shared how these projects overlap a few weeks ago). As Chief Investment Officer for Meyer Memorial Trust and a well-respected community leader, Rukaiyah Adams pulls a lot of weight. As leader and chief spokesperson for Albina Vision, she finds herself in an interesting position of influence on the I-5 project.

Adams made several statements last night worth noting (also worth noting is that ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s Chief of Staff Marshall Runkel, Metro President Lynn Peterson (sitting next to Windsheimer), Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, and others were in attendance):

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As Adams laid out her group’s plans for restoring the Albina neighborhood that was destroyed by I-5 and other Rose Quarter developments, she said, “We want ODOT to change its approach to huge infrastructure investments like the ones we make with I-5.”

Later in the evening, Adams asked another panelist, a megaproject manager from Washington’s Department of Transportation, about how they were able to make progress on massive infrastructure projects:

“One of the points the Albina Vision team is trying to make is that the evaluation of impact on the community shouldn’t just be the community that’s there today, but the historic community impact. It sounds like you thought of that and you ran an EIS process, which is the more comprehensive evaluation than an EA process. So I wanted to know why you went to an EIS process instead of the faster EA process.”

Then Adams was asked to respond to a question from the audience. Someone asked: “Can you imagine a future for the Albina Vision that is not dependent on widening the freeway?” “Yes. I can envision a future like that,” Adams replied (and the audience began clapping). She then turned to ODOT I-5 Rose Quarter Project Manager Megan Channell and said, “Megan, I’m sorry.”

“Let’s say this project doesn’t come to pass,” Adams continued. “We still have the [freeway] cap question, to stitch the neighborhoods back together. From our point-of-view, the question of, ‘How do you heal this gash that we’ve cut into the city.’… The context is this project, but it’s not limited to the project.”

When asked to consider the future of the Rose Quarter more broadly, given that several major properties have uncertain futures, Adams got real. “Here’s the rub: This is a town that talks about progressive values and says, ‘We want equity.’ This is our chance to walk the frickin’ walk and stop the talk…. We have thousands of people needing affordable housing and this is 94 acres in the central city… I think we should design our processes and outcomes for the people who live here. I want the city to work for the people. And we’re not backing down.”

On that note, No More Freeways PDX has made a formal request for 45 more days to comment on the EA. The coalition leading the charge against the I-5 Rose Quarter project says 632 pages of technical analysis and datasets were only made available on March 13th — nine days after it was requested. “Without these data,” their letter reads, “it is simply impossible to independently assess ODOT’s claims about how this freeway expansion will impact the local community.”

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

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At hearing on speed limit bills, lawmaker bristles at mention of ‘traffic violence’

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 10:32

The Street Trust Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal (L) and Oregon House Rep. Caddy McKeown.

Earlier this month a pair of bills that would give cities across Oregon more authority to set speed limits on local streets got their first hearing in front of lawmakers at the state capitol in Salem.

There was no vote taken on either Senate Bill 558 or House Bill 2702 at the Joint Transportation Commitee on March 6th; but the conversation between advocates, lobbyists, agency staff, and lawmakers was notable. Especially an exchange about “traffic violence”.

“When you use the word ‘violence,’ it makes me think something intentional has occurred, and I’d question the use of that word.”
— Rep. McKeown, Transportation Committee Co-Chair

First, the bills. SB 558 is the statewide expansion of a bill passed in 2017 that gave the City of Portland authority to lower residential speed limits by 5 mph. HB 2702 would give City of Portland authority to set speed limits on all the roads — including arterials — in its jurisdiction. This would be a major victory in the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s war on speeding.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) currently has authority over speed limits on all streets in the state. But as we know all too well, ODOT’s driving-centric perspective colors their decision-making and they often care more about maintaining driving speeds than keeping all road users safe. Part of that is because they rely on outdated and dangerous methodologies for speed-setting like the 85th percentile rule — which means the faster people drive, the higher the speed limit.

Thankfully it appears ODOT is aware things need to change.

“Maybe the historic practice that we’ve been using [to set speeds] doesn’t necessarily fit the context of what our current transportation system is,” said ODOT Highway Division Manager Kris Strickler at the outset of the hearing. “And maybe what the future of that transportation system is, and are there other ways to look at speed setting as we start to look at this future.”

While ODOT gets pressure from truckers and freeway drivers to keep speeds limits high, it’s a different story in cities like Portland.

PBOT Active Transportation and Safety Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo was at the hearing. She told lawmakers her mandate is Vision Zero, which requires nothing less than an end to fatalities and serious injuries. “It’s something [City] Council takes seriously and the public leans on us very hard about, so we really are trying to organize our management of the roadway system to achieve that,” Ciarlo told lawmakers.

Then Ciarlo made the case for change: “There’s pretty strong national research coming out that — especially in the urban context — the historic way of setting speeds has not had good safety outcomes.”

A major PBOT ally on HB 2702 is the City of Eugene. Their City Engineer Matt Rodrigues testified that, “If you keep using 85th percentile as an approach, the 85th percentile speed will keep going up.”

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HB 2702 wouldn’t give cities carte blanche. It would have a series of parameters in place like the requirement of certified engineers, requirements for consistency and adherence to a methodology laid out in adopted rule, a close partnership with ODOT, and so on.

House Rep. Rob Nosse is the bill’s main sponsor. Perhaps concerned that ODOT will be reluctant to give up speed-setting authority, he called the bill a “partnership approach” that would, “Allow willing [as in, cities would opt-in] local jurisdictions to implement context-informed speeds on their roads in consultation with ODOT.”

When it came time for open testimony, the first person to step up with The Street Trust’s new Advocacy Director Richa Poudyal. Her organization is strongly in favor of the bills. “We work with Families for Safe Streets… who’ve been driven to working against traffic violence after they’ve lost family and loved ones to violence on the roads.”

That reference to “violence” caught Transportation Committee Co-Chair Rep. Caddy McKeown by surprise. “When you use the word ‘violence,’ it makes me think something intentional has occurred [shaking her head], and I’d question the use of that word. Can you explain it to me?” (Co-Chair Sen. Lee Beyer interjected, “Is that like road rage?”).

Poudyal then responded: “My usage of the term ‘traffic violence’ is really to address the impact to the people who die, who suffer injury. There is violence inflicted on them. It wasn’t intended to speak toward any intention on the drivers’ part or anyone who inflicts that harm.”

Here’s video of the exchange:

I asked both McKeown and Poudyal about this exchange via email after the hearing. I didn’t hear back from Rep. McKeown.

Poudyal said,

“We want to use language that challenges the notion that deaths of pedestrians and cyclists are ‘accidents’, that there is not much to be done to prevent them, or that it is normal that they happen as frequently as they do. Referring to fatalities and serious injuries as traffic violence rather than accidents more accurately reflects the actual impacts – losing lives – and helps to challenge complacency of drivers not being cautious.”

As for Rep. McKeown’s discomfort with the term, Poudyal said she feels it reflects a common feeling that many of us who drive worry about the vast responsibility that comes with it.

“It’s important to begin to shift the way we talk about traffic violence in order to begin to really value people’s lives over efficiency and speed,” she added.

It will be interesting to see how these bills fare. Stay tuned.

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

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Family Biking: A primer on tire pumping

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 08:58

Bike maintenance with kids is fun! (And takes twice as long.)
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Shout out to all the fair-weather family bikers! Rumor has it the gorgeous weather won’t last, but it’s lovely out right now and my kids’ bikes have lots of new company at the school bike racks.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Have you ever excitedly greeted your dusty, neglected bike in the garage on the first nice day of the year only to find it has two flat tires? Fortunately your tires don’t need repairing — rubber is porous and as soon as you pump air back in, your bike will be ready to roll. Keeping the right amount of air in your tires is a relatively easy task, and it’s incredibly empowering to be able to keep your family’s fleet functional. Yeah, plenty of other things can go wrong with bikes, but flat tires are the most common woe. Plus, kids can help, and — if yours are like mine — they’re probably already familiar with your bike pump, having shot air into their mouths, noses, and down their pants.

Here are some basic tire-pumping tips…

Get a floor pump
I love having a floor pump at home. Unlike a handheld pump, it has a wide bar for grip and flat plates for my feet so it doesn’t wobble around. I also have a small pump I keep on my bike for out and about use, but the ease — both speed and not having to bend over as much — of a floor pump can’t be beat. They run about $50-$100 at shops. If that’s too steep, ask to borrow one from a neighbor.

Note: If there’s no pump of any sort to be found, it won’t harm your bike to walk it to a bike shop on flat tires. You shouldn’t ride a bike with flat tires though, because you’ll damage your rims. However, if you must carry a small kid to find your source of air, and you have wider tires, that’s probably not enough weight to do damage.

Tire pressure

This tire has a maximum of 110 psi (pounds per square inch).

Your bike will tell you how much air it wants! All bike tires have either a range or maximum air pressure printed on their sides. Some will list several units, but I just look for psi (pounds per square inch). In general, hybrid bike medium-width tires take 50-70 psi, knobby mountain bike tires 30-50 psi, skinny road bike tires 80-130 psi, and fat bike tires (over four inches wide) 15-25 psi. Since I carry a lot of weight on my bike, I always pump it up to the maximum. I’m also not great at checking my tires often so they don’t get noticeably low as quickly when I pump them up to the max. We pumped the little road bike pictured above to the 110 psi max, but a bike mechanic friend suggested to stick to 80 psi for a more cushiony ride given its light rider who doesn’t carry extra gear on the bike.

Kids help: Tire pressure numbers can be so small! Let younger eyes search the sides of your tires for the numbers.

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Presta valve left, Schrader valve right.

Valve types
There are two main valve types: Presta and Schrader.

Presta-to-Schrader valve adapters at my local shop.

Schrader valves are the wider ones that are exactly like the valves on car tires (I remember which is which because sChrAdeR has the letters c-a-r in it) and Presta valves are the narrow ones that I’m really good at breaking. My floor pump nozzle goes on either valve type, but my portable pump has a removable chuck at the end that screws to the pump in different orientations depending on the valve type. Some pumps have two different holes. I find Schrader valves harder to get my pump onto, but Presta valves require an extra step of unscrewing the little lock nut. Both valve types might have black plastic caps protecting them you must unscrew before attaching your pump. Those little caps are really easy to lose during the course of pumping up tires (especially if you’re distracted by kid helpers), but don’t worry — it’s not that big a deal if you leave them off.

If you happen to have a bike with Presta tubes and a pump only for Schrader valves, you can buy an adapter for about a buck, usually found on your local bike shop counter. These were more useful to have back in the days of free air at gas stations.

Kids help: I like to have the job take twice as long by involving the kids, so after I’ve got the pump attached to the valve, I have them pump the air until they get too tired to finish the job.

Eight easy steps:
(As seen in my book Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living)

1. Find the valve. For a floor pump, spin your wheel to place the valve at the bottom (6 o’clock). For a very small pump, unless it has a foldout foot rest, spin your wheel to get the valve to the top (12 o’clock) so you don’t have to bend over so far.

2. Remove valve cap. For Presta valves, untwist the lock nut to open the valve — don’t try to pull it all the way off, just untwist to the top of the pin — that will allow the pin to depress once the pump is in place. Tap the top of the pin; you should hear air hiss out. This tapping of the pin also ensures that it’s not stuck in place before you secure the pump.

3. Attach the pump head. For pump heads with levers: flip the lever into the down position, push the head onto the valve as deep as it easily goes, and then flip the lever into the up position to lock it in place. For pumps that screw into place: twist the piece at the end of the pump several times so the pump is well sealed to your valve.

4. Pump. When pumping, pull the pump all the way up and push all the way down. You shouldn’t hear air escaping out the side of the head. If you do hear air escaping, you probably haven’t attached the pump well enough, although it also might be a sign of a faulty pump head. Re-attach and try again.

5. Check the tire pressure. The tire pressure is the number the pump settles at once you’ve stopped pushing down on the pump, not the highest number the pin hits while you’re in the action of pumping.

6. Carefully remove the pump head. Unscrew your pump head (or close down the lever and remove) at a nice straight angle so you don’t bend the valve or pull off the Presta valve’s pin with the lock nut. Note: the hiss of air you hear when you remove the pump is coming from the pump, not the tire; your tire pressure is still right where you left it.

7. Retighten Presta lock nut.

8. Replace the valve cap. Feel around on the ground or dig around in your pocket for where you left your valve cap and screw it back on to your valve.

Squeeze your fully-inflated tires
Hey, now that you’ve got the right amount of air in your tires, give them a squeeze so you know what they should feel like. Remember, tubes and tires are porous so they’ll lose air over time. Very diligent people check their tires every single time they use their bikes. I try to check our tires every week. I actually check our tires every few weeks. Granted, wider tires with lower psi are going to hold onto their air longer so our bikes (other than the pictured little road bike) are built for less diligent squeezers.

Kids help: Kids love putting their hands all over the dirtiest parts of their bikes! Have them get a feel for squishy versus full-inflated tires.

Snake bite!
So what’s wrong with riding on low tires anyway, you’re wondering? Well, in addition to making it much harder to push your bike along, you run the risk of getting a pinch flat — when you hit a bump or pothole and your under-inflated tube is pinched against the rim. This usually makes two small holes, thus the name “snake bite.”

Slow leaks
If you’re finding your bike tire is low more than every few weeks, you’ve got a slow leak. This is usually the result of a number of minuscule holes that are impossible to find and patch and you’ll need to get a new tube. However, if you’re very stubborn you can pump that tire every time you use the bike (been there, done that).

Solid tires
Is all this pumping and pressure talk making your head spin? There are solid tires out there. I first saw foam rubber tires on Strider balance bikes, but I’ve experienced them first-hand on dockless bikeshare bikes in Seattle. It’s hard to know whether to blame the heavy bikes or the foam tires (or both!) for their clunkiness, but I wasn’t worried about flats!

Have you any tire advice to add — maybe you have experience with tubeless or Slime? 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

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Portland researchers behind major new helmet tech launched by Trek/Bontrager

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 06:52

WaveCel’s “collapsible cellular membrane” showed much better results in initial lab tests than traditional foam or MIPS.

A local company has played a major role in the development of a new helmet released today by Bontrager, a bicycle part and accessory brand owned by Trek Bicycle Corporation.

Bontrager says the WaveCel technology used in their new line of helmets, “disrupts 30 years of accepted safety standards.” The company says research proves WaveCel is up to 48X more effective than common expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam at preventing concussions caused while cycling. The “collapsible cellular material” was developed by Dr. Steve Madey, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Michael Bottlang, a biomechanical engineer. Madey and Bottlang work for Apex Biomedical, a company with a laboratory in Clackamas and an office in downtown Portland. Their research was performed at the Legacy Research Institute in north Portland. Madey and Bottlang worked with Trek and Bontrager’s research and design teams for four years developing the material.

Michael Bottlang, PhD

Steven M. Madey, MD

According to Bontrager, “WaveCel is the first advanced helmet technology ever to receive funding from the US National Institute of Health.”

Here’s more about how it works (video below the jump):

“Unlike a standard foam helmet, which is designed to protect against direct impacts, WaveCel accounts for how most cycling accidents actually happen — ungracefully, with twists, turns, and angled impacts. WaveCel absorbs energy in multiple ways. On impact, the layers of the WaveCel material move independently and flex until the cell walls crumple and then glide, actively absorbing direct and rotational energy and redirecting it away from your head. This three-step change in material structure — flex, crumple, glide — is remarkably effective at dispersing the energy from an impact. Nearly 99 times out of 100, WaveCel prevents concussions from common cycling accidents.”

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Three materials studied. EPS foam on the left, MIPS in the middle, WaveCel on the right.
(Images from Accident Analysis and Prevention)

Results of laboratory testing published in Accident Analysis and Prevention (December, 2018) showed significant decrease in the risk of traumatic brain injury in helmets with WaveCel technology when compared to foam and Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) helmets. Specifically, the WaveCel material slowed down rotational acceleration and rotational velocity — both of which are correlated with TBI.

There’s a commuter, road, MTB and all-around model.

WaveCel is exclusive to Bontrager helmets (although I won’t be surprised if it’s licensed to other brands in the future) and is currently available in four models: the XXX WaveCel Road Helmet ($299.99), the Blaze WaveCel MTB Helmet ($299.99), the Specter WaveCel Road Helmet ($149.99), and the Charge WaveCel Commuter Helmet ($149.99).

The helmets are available locally at Bike Gallery.

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

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Conditions on the I-205 path are unacceptable

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 14:44
document.createElement('video'); https://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/i-205-smaller.mp4

With so few safe and direct alternatives, the I-205 multi-use path in east Portland is a crucial backbone in our transportation network. Unfortunately it’s been rendered nearly unusable due to an abundance of trash, personal belongings, and makeshift homes that have been built upon it.

People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Everyone in Portland is aware that many people sleep and live outside. The spaces next to highways and paths like the I-205 and Springwater Corridor are especially popular camping spots because they often have grass and trees and there are no adjacent residents or business owners. To many people, these spaces are out-of-sight. But not to bicycle riders.

For years now, bicycle riders have had to deal with this situation. It’s one thing when people live near the path. However, it’s another thing entirely when people live on the path. That’s the situation on the I-205 path where it goes under NE Sandy Blvd. After sharing a comment from a women who said she’s stopped riding because she’s afraid of that section — and then seeing several other commenters say the same thing — I decided to take a look myself.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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Today I rolled over to the I-205/Sandy area. It was terrible. Several large deposits of trash and belongings littered the path. On the section that goes under Sandy, several well-established living areas are nearly blocking the entire path. At one point there’s only 2-3 feet for someone to get by. It’s very unsettling on many levels. It’s also very dangerous.

Here are just a few of the comments we’ve heard from readers today:

Tara Goddard:

I rode it once, and was thankful to be on my ebike, and never rode it again.

Beth Rice:

It’s just horrible. I avoid the 205 as much as I can

Bjorn Warloe:

This is even worse than the last time I braved it but between broken glass and threatening campers I switched to mixing it up with cars on Sandy from killings worth to Prescott years ago.

Andrew:

I am a 57 year old large man, and I will never again ride the I-205 path between Holgate and Burnside until something changes. This is not just a “woman’s fear.” I don’t mind the homeless, but I do mind the path being an obstacle course.

Maria:

I just rode there Sunday (mid-day) and it was downright scary. I’m a bold rider but it was pretty dicey. The firepit in the middle of was pretty hot.

Al:

I just rode through there on Friday evening. The path pictured was so blocked that I had to walk my bike through as I didn’t know if the sleeping bags crossing the path had people in them. The folks there were super polite and cleared the rest of the way for me but this is definitely a safety and security concern to the point where it can’t be allowed to continue.

The Oregon Department of Transportation owns and manages the I-205 path. However, as of this year, they transferred management of this specific issue to the City of Portland. Today I noticed an “Illegal Campsite” notice from the City of Portland that looked to have been posted this morning (pure coincidence we did a story today). The notice says, “This campsite will be cleared no less than 48 hours after and within ten days of 3-18-19.”

This is such a sad state of affairs. People deserve places to live and people deserve safe access to these transportation corridors. We shouldn’t have to settle for either/or.

Below is a longer version of the lead video that shows a few sections prior to the undercrossing:

UPDATE, 3/19: Here’s KGW news coverage from last night:

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

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Comment of the Week: A woman’s fear of riding on the I-205 path

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 09:46

Southbound on 205 path where it goes under Sandy Blvd.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A comment written by Roberta on March 9th touched on an issue that we’ve addressed several times in recent years: People who live on and adjacent to multi-use paths.

In response to our story about paths along the Columbia Slough, Roberta said conditions on I-205 have become so bad she’s afraid to ride on it. And several other readers echoed her concerns.

Here’s her comment:

“Right now 205 path is scary and I won’t do it again. On Sunday March 3 I joined the 205 bike path at Prescott, heading north to go shopping at Target by the airport. Near the Sandy underpass there was a large encampment with guys stripping bike frames. The scary part was the encampment under Sandy. Homesteaders had their belongings spread over nearly all the entire bikeway, leaving a path just barely wide enough for my bike tire and pedals. Bike frames hung overhead and I had to duck to avoid being hit by the “inventory”. People were inside the tents. Propane tanks and then pure garbage abounds. I chose not to bike home that way – too creepy. So I chose to bike home via Alderwood > Cornfoot > 47th by Whitaker Ponds. Crossing Columbia at 47th/42nd was fine but that hill heading south on 42nd is too steep and too narrow. I walked my bike on the sidewalk on the opposite side (facing traffic) and that sidewalk ends as well. Way too narrow for uphill biking and fast cars.

I’m a woman in my mid-50’s, and I’ve been bike commuting in Portland since the 90s. Not the timid 80 y/o used as an example, but also not strong enough to keep up with traffic when the hill is steep and the road narrow.

I sure would like to see that encampment under Sandy cleaned up. It’s been there a long time, but never taken up so much traffic space as this week. I would have taken a picture, but no way with those people working on all those bike parts. I might have gotten beaten up or my own bike taken from me.”

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Roberta’s comment reminded me of a story from another woman who’d contacted me with similar concerns about this exact location two years ago. The woman had used the City of Portland’s PDX Reporter app to report the camps and trash. She said much of the path under the Sandy Blvd “tunnel” was blocked by trash, tents, and other items.

In response to Roberta’s comment, a reader named “curly” wrote, “It is a tragedy that the city, and east Portland residents in particular, have effectively lost this premier active transportation facility because it is considered unsafe to ride. I would also add that it is the only lighted Multi Use Path so it’s usable 24/7 were it not for the described unsafe conditions.”

I chose Roberta’s comment for several reasons: It highlights an important, complicated, and sensitive topic many people are afraid to talk about out of fear of being called uncompassionate or “anti-houseless”; She’s a woman in her 50s and I’m eager to amplify non-male voices here; And she shares a personal vulnerability and experience I think many others can relate to.

Thank you Roberta.

If you see a great comment, please flag it for me by writing a reply that includes the words “comment of the week” (so I can find it via search).

For more on issues related to people camping on paths, see our homelessness archives.

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

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The post Comment of the Week: A woman’s fear of riding on the I-205 path appeared first on BikePortland.org.

The Monday Roundup: Coal rollers guilty, Car Talk, middle finger rights, and more

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 08:40

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Treo Bike Tours of Eastern Oregon. Now is the time to grab your crew and plan your trip! Treo offers multi-day all-inclusive packages and they’ll even pick you up from Portland.

Welcome to Monday. Was that a great weekend or what? I hope you were able to enjoy the warm sunny weather. Now it’s time to put our thinking caps on once again.

On that note, here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Grit girls: Much to love about this NY Times piece on the appeal of mountain bike racing to young girls and the organization that’s bringing the races to high schools nationwide.

Coal rollers guilty! A Utah judge ruled against “Diesel Bros” for EPA violations related to their sale of equipment that allows people to “roll coal”. (We wrote about this lawsuit back in 2016.)

Click and Clack: Legendary co-host of NPR’s Car Talk joined Doug, Sarah and Aaron on the latest War on Cars Podcast episode.

Too many cars: This must-read National Geographic piece (worth giving them your email for) delves into the challenges facing cities and comes to one major theme: To survive and thrive in the future we must undo our history of car-centric planning.

Mobility and climate: And a similar tone from CityLab about the urgency to address climate change and how urban transportation can and should play a major role.

Reactionary progress in SF: Mixed feelings when a city gets aggressive with bike safety fixes only after a high-profile death.

Flip ’em off: In a victory for frustrated road users everywhere, a federal court ruled that holding up your middle finger is a constitutional right.

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Helmet conversation evolves: The success of shared electric scooters in Spokane, Washington has that city seriously considering a change to helmet laws to make them optional for riders.

Think airplanes are dangerous? Excellent piece in Slate about how automakers’ rush to sell high-tech cars is making our roads significantly less safe as drivers lose ability to think for themselves and put too much trust into their cars.

Why people oppose bike lanes: This wonderful Streetfilms from the National Bike Summit features bike advocacy pros sharing the most ridiculous excuses they’ve heard for not building bike lanes.

Words matter: The Gothamist does a great job explaining how biased and apathetic police work and insensitive police statements re-traumatize victims of traffic crashes.

Tweet of the Week: (Ms. Sadik-Khan is the former NYC DOT Commish and a globally recognized urban planning consultant.)

Once king of sustainable transpo, Portland could become jester with a $500M interstate expansion. Not sure what’s more galling—the state thinking it can widen a road w/o increasing traffic, or thinking it can convince Portlanders it’s good for the planet https://t.co/8SaDWIlOPy

— Janette Sadik-Khan (@JSadikKhan) March 15, 2019

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

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The post The Monday Roundup: Coal rollers guilty, Car Talk, middle finger rights, and more appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Portland area bike companies in Sacramento for North American Handmade Bicycle Show

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 15:30

Chad Smeltzer of Smeltzer Bikes in Gresham has made a name for himself with off-road capable drop-bar bikes. He shared this photo of one of the bikes he has at NAHBS.
(Photo: Chad Smelzter)

Portland area bike businesses will have a strong presence at the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) that opened today at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Event poster.

NAHBS is bike industry institution that started in 2005. We’ve covered it here to varying degrees since Portland builders made a strong showing in 2006. Portland builders have a rich legacy at NAHBS, winning “Best of” awards at several past shows.

This year I noticed two new builders (that we haven’t even featured on the front page yet!) that will make their national debut at NAHBS: Simple Bicycle Company and Smeltzer Bikes.

Simple is owned by builder Oscar Camarena. He keeps a low-profile because he also builds on contract for several well-known brands (that’s also just how Oscar is). Now his bikes are due to make a name for themselves and we couldn’t be more excited for him. Chad Smelzter is behind Smeltzer Bikes. He’s found a niche in the red-hot gravel market by linking up with local adventure riding organizers Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM). He’ll debut two new OMTM collabs at NAHBS, including the sneak peek he shared with us which you can see in the lead photo.

Below are the rest of the Portland-based companies that will exhibit at NAHBS:

Builder Oscar Camarena of Simple Bicycle Co.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Chris King Precision Components
Civilian
Biciclista
DiNucci Cycles
Efficient Velo Tools
North St. Bags
Ti Cycles

And we’d be remiss to mention our friends from Eugene who will also be there: Rolf Prima Wheels/Astral Cycling, English Cycles, and Co-Motion Cycles.

It’s great to know that Oregon remains a hotbed of bicycle builders, and component/accessory makers. Good luck to everyone at the show!

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

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