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Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Amid spate of collisions, Portland Police Chief calls for more enforcement

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 15:55

6 fatal crashes in 5 days! 27 people have died on our streets this year. I am directing officers to increase enforcement, but this is everyone's responsibility. Drivers slow down, don't drive impaired/distracted. Bikes and peds use caution—don’t assume drivers see you.

— Chief Danielle Outlaw (@ChiefDOutlaw) April 11, 2019

With 14 fatal traffic crashes so far this year and six in the past four days, Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw couldn’t stay quiet any longer.

PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw.

Since she was hired in October 2017, Chief Outlaw has had many intense issues to focus on: from a crisis-level officer shortage to violent protests. She hasn’t engaged on transportation safety issues. Until now.

In a tweet posted today, Chief Outlaw wrote:

“6 fatal crashes in 5 days! 27 people have died on our streets this year. I am directing officers to increase enforcement, but this is everyone’s responsibility. Drivers slow down, don’t drive impaired/distracted. Bikes and peds use caution—don’t assume drivers see you.”

(Note: It’s unclear where she got the 27 deaths figure. To be clear, there have been 14 traffic-related fatalities so far this year and the PPB’s Major Crash Team has been called out 23 times.)

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Asked for specifics about the increased enforcement, Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Brad Yakots wrote in an email to BikePortland, “Our Traffic Division and precincts are providing extra patrols in high trafficked areas. Our focus is education and outreach.”

“I want to make sure your support of Vision Zero is Vision Zero as it is now, which is not enhanced law enforcement.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland City Commissioner

Chief Outlaw’s call for enforcement puts her in the middle of an ongoing debate about how best to use police officers in Portland’s quest for safer streets. More enforcement is a common request when traffic crashes are in the news; but fears of racial profiling put it on shaky political ground in Portland.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero Action Plan passed in 2016 with a host of recommendations from PBOT’s Vision Zero Task Force. Among them was a specific intention to limit enforcement, “In order to reduce the possibility of racial profiling and disparate economic impacts.”

This recommendation was not without its detractors on the Task Force. Newly elected City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has also expressed concerns about increased enforcement.

In a debate prior to her election last year, Hardesty said she’s “absolutely terrified of more enforcement.” “When I hear public leaders talk about enhancing police presence…we know African-Americans and Latinos are targeted for more enforcement than anyone else.”

And Hardesty repeated this concern at a City Council Budget Work Session on March 12th. During a presentation about PBOT’s budget, Hardesty said, “I want to make sure your support of Vision Zero is Vision Zero as it is now, which is not enhanced law enforcement, but more about notifying speeders to slow down.”

Hardesty’s colleague, PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, had a much different tone at the same work session. In her introduction to the PBOT presentation, Eudaly lamented the lack of more enforcement funding in the budget. “I’m really disappointed to see there’s no request for an increase in traffic enforcement,” she said. “In 2018 we had 27 murders in Portland. We had 34 people die in traffic deaths. We are seeing rampant disregard for the law and human life on our streets and the Traffic Division is seriously understaffed. Our city has adopted Vision Zero and we’re diligently working on that. We can’t accomplish our goal without support of Police Bureau.”

With Chief Outlaw now engaged on the issue, Commissioner Eudaly has momentum to push for more enforcement; but it’s unlikely to happen without a debate.

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

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Another person hit and killed while crossing North Fessenden

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 10:28

Crisis.

Another person has been killed by a driver while trying to walk across North Fessenden Street.

Commissioner Eudaly expedited installation of new speed limit signs last month.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

According to the Portland Police Bureau a woman was hit while crossing near North Polk Street at around 10:30 pm last night. The driver of a red sedan sped away and is still on the loose.

This brings the toll to two deaths and two serious injuries in the past 15 months.

Just over one month ago we reported that Fessenden was in crisis. Five days later, on March 1st, Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly stepped in. “This latest tragedy has shaken the community,” she wrote on Facebook, “and I understand why.”

Eudaly took action by expediting a change to the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph. She had city crews install the signs immediately. Speed reader boards have also popped up on the street.

But it’s clearly not enough.

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PBOT knows this. They’ve been harangued by local residents and activists like Donna Cohen, leader of the Citizens for a Safe and Attractive Fessenden/St Louis/Lombard Facebook page.

Cohen and others have clamored for long-promised safety upgrades like median islands, flashing beacons, curbs extensions, a new lane configuration, and more. PBOT’s St. Johns Truck Strategy Phase 2 project will deliver these upgrades; but it has taken what feels like an eternity to materialize. The plan itself was adopted by council in 2001. The grant to build Phase 2 was accepted in 2010 2013 and engineering and design recommendations were completed in 2013.

PBOT finally received FHWA approval to proceed with the $5 million project in October of last year and construction is finally underway.

From, St. Johns Transportation Concept Development Project, 2013 prepared by T-Y-Lin International for PBOT. North Polk is on the left.

For Cohen and other residents, it didn’t come soon enough. On her group’s Facebook page today, Cohen pointed out that PBOT’s plans call for a new median island and crossing on N Tioga Street — just one block from where the woman was killed last night (see graphic above). “If PBOT had not dragged their feet on this project this is what would be at Tioga now – a 16′-wide median island. You cannot go nearly as fast around a 16′ median island as on a narrow island or a straight-away.”

This is the third traffic fatality in Portland in less than 24 hours and the sixth in the past four days. So far this year 14 people have died on our roads, eight of them were walking.

UPDATE, 5:01 pm:

Family identifies 82yo Sandy Bosch as woman killed in hit & run Wednesday night. It happened at North Fessenden & Polk. Sandy was a mother & grandmother. The suspect vehicle is a red sedan & it should have damage. pic.twitter.com/pTyTaPPz3q

— Mike Benner (@MikeBennerKGW) April 11, 2019

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Ladds 500, Sandy Ridge, Alpenrose Clean-up and more

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 09:30

Everyone — and everything! — is welcome at the Ladds 500 on Saturday.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

We’ve been teased with dry and sunny weather and the roads are filling up with new faces. Let’s keep the momentum going (despite the forecast) by getting out there on two wheels!

Check out our event recommendations for the next three days below…

Friday, April 12th

Midnight Mystery Ride – 11:45 am at location TBA
Portland’s monthly night ride is on. Watch the official website tomorrow for location announcement. More info here.

Saturday, April 13th

Sandy Ridge Adventures – 9:30 am at Sandy Ridge Trailhead
West Coast Women’s Cycling Team and NW Trail Sisters are co-hosting this ride at the popular Sandy River Trail system. Please note this ride is for women/trans/femme and gender non-conforming people only. More info here.

Free Adult Riding Lessons – 10:00 am at Portland Community College Southeast (SE)
Come one! Come all! This event is geared to anyone who wants to learn to ride and feel more confident on two wheels. More info here.

First Timer’s Ride – 10:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
Let the friendly and knowledgable staff from River City guide you on a neighborhood cruise that will build your confidence for urban riding. More info here.

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The Ladds 500 – 10:00 am at Ladd Circle Park (SE)
This epic and fun, team-oriented event is back! Party in the park while you and your crew ride in circles for hours. It’s the perfect way to welcome the spring riding season. Curious? Check our 2018 coverage. More info here.

Sunday, April 14th

Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
Roll out with Portland’s premier road training ride. Explore Sauvie Island and the West Hills while getting great experience riding in a group. More info here.

Alpenrose Velodrome Clean-up Day – 10:00 am at Alpenrose Velodrome (SW)
The recent threat of closure revealed how much our community supports this facility. What better way to demonstrate that by coming out to the annual clean-up as race organizers get ready for the best track season ever. Wear work clothes! 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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Unpaved road fans raise red flag over Clackamas County forest project

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 06:13

Roads and trees like these could be forever altered.
(Photo: Ron Lewis/Our Mother the Mountain)

The US Forest Service is eyeing 4,000 acres of land near the Clackamas River for a major project and local unpaved road enthusiasts are concerned about how it will impact riding conditions and the environment.

Location of project in red.
(Map: Bark)

Ron Lewis, one of the leaders of the popular Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) riding group, sent a message to the 700 members of the Unpaved email list yesterday encouraging them to comment on the North Clack Integrated Resource Project.

The USFS says the project would, “Improve forest conditions, provide wood products, manage recreation, enhance aquatic/riparian habitat, manage wildlife habitats, reduce fire hazards, and make changes to the transportation system within the project area.” But Lewis with OMTM isn’t buying it.

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“[The project] would effectively destroy the entire lower section of our Tumala Tank Trap route, which navigates some of the deeper, least-traveled zones in the Mount Hood National Forest, including the rugged and beautiful Abbott Road climb,” Lewis wrote. He’s also worried about the USFS plans to construct 20 new miles of roads and introduce logging on 200 acres of forest.

Lewis says this section of the Mt. Hood National Forest is already under pressure from OHV users, illegal motorcycle trails and unsanctioned target shooting. “Clearcutting and commercial logging will not only decimate this beautiful remote area, but as almost always happens, expand the proliferation of shooting pits, trash dumping and illegal moto activity in the area.”

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OMTM is piggybacking on advocacy from local conservation nonprofit Bark, who’s following this project closely. In addition to sensitive streams and animal nesting areas, Bark claims that around 1,200 acres of the proposed logging is in mature forest that has trees over 80 years old.

“Logging has been shown by OSU and the Oregon Global Warming Commission to be a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, so it’s important that the Forest Service hear from the public that they want their forests to be a carbon sink, not source,” Bark writes on their website. “We believe the Forest Service should be working to restore the forest in this area by decommissioning old logging roads, rehabilitating illegally-created motorized trails, and improving habitat for species like salmon and beaver.”

For a trail conservation perspective that disagree with Bark, check out TrailAdvocate.org.

The USFS is taking public comment through April 15th. You can comment and learn more about the project on the USFS website.

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

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Parks budget cuts loom over Gateway Green bike park

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 16:22

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

As you might have already heard, Portland Parks & Recreation is facing a budget gap of $6.3 million. To right the ship, the bureau has proposed eliminating over 50 full-time employees, reducing admin costs, closing community centers, and more.

One element of the Parks budget we’re watching closely is how operations and maintenance dollars will be allocated. Or whether they’ll be allocated at all.

Big crowds at inaugural Gateway Green MTB Festival in June 2018.

Parks has requested $891,694 in discretionary, General Fund revenue to pay for operations and maintenance of 38 assets that are either planned or under construction. The largest item on that list is $173,656 for the continued development of Gateway Green.

Gateway Green opened two years ago after its first phase — a bike park that includes trails, a pump track, and jumps — was completed.

Longtime east Portland parks advocate Linda Robinson spent over a decade to make that possible and now she’s concerned that vital funding for Gateway Green’s continued development will be cut. She testified in front Mayor Ted Wheeler and Parks Commissioner Nick Fish at the budget hearing held at David Douglas High School last night.

In her testimony, Robinson pointed out that in her three decades of parks advocacy, ongoing maintenance funding for newly opened parks facilities has always been somewhat assured. “While there may be some negotiation as to how much operations and maintenance is needed for each asset, the need for it has always been a given,” she said.

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Slide from Parks Bureau budget presentation showing current budget deficit and operations/maintenance needs.

While the Parks Bureau has requested money to maintain Gateway Green and 37 other assets, Robinson has flagged a recommendation by the City Budget Office to decline the request. In their response to the City’s budget, the CBO has recommended that Council allocates zero dollars to the operations and maintenance of new and partially built assets.

“I’ve spent the last decade or more advocating and raising money for this park,” Robinson added, “and I’m crushed by the prospect there might not be any money once it’s built.”

“Denying ongoing operations and maintenance requests for these new park assets is like building a Wapato Jail and never allocating any money to operate it.”
— Linda Robinson

While Gateway Green has been open for two years, it only has rudimentary facilities. There are no bathrooms, paved surfaces, or drinking fountains. As we reported back in September, City Council just approved another $1 million to further develop the site.

The CBO’s rationale for declining the City’s $891,694 funding request is that by automatically tacking on operations and maintenance costs to new assets, PP&R places undue pressure on City Council to absorb the costs when a budget deficit impacts other needy assets in the system.

Robinson strongly disagrees with the CBO’s decision. She wants more analysis and discussion before such a significant shift in policy is adopted. “If the policy [of not funding maintenance for new parks] is changed, it should be phased in, not suddenly changed for projects already completed or in the construction process.”

To put a finer point on her position, Robinson said, “Denying ongoing operations and maintenance requests for these new park assets is like building a Wapato Jail and never allocating any money to operate it. This results in great expense and virtually no benefit to taxpayers.” (Wapato is the infamous facility built in 2003 at great expense to taxpayers that has yet to be used for any purpose.)

“It would be unconscionable to make this sudden change just as the city is finally addressing park inequities in east Portland,” she added.

City Council is under no obligation to heed the CBO’s recommendation. Mayor Wheeler will release his budget in May and Council will adopt the 2019-202 budget in June.

You can submit a comment about the budget on the CBO’s website. If you’d like to learn more and support Gateway Green consider attending the Friends of Gateway Green 10th Anniversary fundraiser at Hopworks Urban Brewery (2944 SE Powell) next Tuesday April 16th.

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

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Senate committee passes ‘Idaho Stop’ bill allowing bicycle riders to yield at stop signs

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 10:07

Some intersections in Oregon already allow bicycle riders to “slow-and-go”.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

10 years after it was last debated in the Oregon Legislature, a concept known as “Idaho Stop” has once again found its way into a bill. And it passed its first committee vote yesterday, just hours before a key legislative deadline.

Senate Bill 998 wasn’t on anyone’s radar before last week. Up until then it was just a vague placeholder bill without any detailed language and with no amendments. That changed when Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) drafted an amendment and brought it to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a public hearing for the bill on Monday.

The bill would allow a bicycle user to treat intersections with stop signs or red flashing signals as yields. In other words, as a bicycle user, you’d be able to roll through these intersections without stopping — but only when/if it was safe to do so.

Excerpt from -1 amendment to SB 998.

At Monday’s hearing, Committee Vice-Chair Sen. Prozanski said it’s merely a “re-do” of a bill he sponsored and passed as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives in 2003.

“This bill would follow a law out of Idaho that has been in place for over 35 years,” Prozanski said at the hearing.

“This is one of those situations where I believe, that’s what a lot of people do already with their bikes.”
— Senator Kim Thatcher, Judiciary Committee vice-chair

Only one person testified. A man who said he’s a work zone flagger told lawmakers he’s opposed because, “A lot of bicyclists go right on through” his work zones and he believes it’s a “safety risk”. “It’s bad enough we got boxes in Portland for bicyclists before the cars and they disrespect us,” the man said.

When the bill was brought back to committee for a vote yesterday, Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) added an amendment clarifying that bicycle users must stop for flaggers.

Committee Vice-Chair Thatcher is in favor of the law. “Just like a few years ago when we told ODOT we wanted to raise speed limits in some areas,” she explained, before logging her “yes” vote, “People were already going those speeds. This is one of those situations where I believe, that’s what a lot of people do already with their bikes.” Sen. Thatcher pointed out that — unlike a car — human-powered vehicles are “really difficult to stop completely and then get going again.”

(Video below by Portlander Spencer Boomhower explains how Idaho Stop works)

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Senator Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) also voted in favor of the bill. Sen. Fagan shared that she understands the benefits of the bill because she used to commute to law school by bike. “Things that are in motion tend to stay in motion, things that are at rest tend to stay at rest,” she said. “Anything we can do to encourage people to get out of their cars and ride a bike is a good thing.”

Senator Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) was the sole “no” vote. After admitting he’s rolled through stop signs on his own bike, Bentz said he opposes the law because of concerns expressed by sheriffs in his district.

The bill passed committee 6-1. It will now move to the Senate floor for a vote.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski in 2011.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Reached on the phone this morning, Sen. Prozanski said he introduced the bill after a constituent contacted him late last month (Idaho Stop was also one of the bills I mentioned in an op-ed on March 15th). Since he had a placeholder bill to study violations, he was able to draft the language and move it to a vote very quickly. “At this point, I think it has a very good chance of passing the full Senate,” Prozanski said. Once it goes to the House Judiciary Committee, he plans to meet with members and find a sponsor.

Asked why he is such a fan of Idaho Stop, Prozanski recalled his 2003 discussions with the captain of the Boise Police Department. “He said it’s just much more seamless and it makes traffic flow more easily… It’s not as much of a hazard as coming to a complete stop and trying to start when you have other vehicles moving around you and you’re trying to get started and through an intersection with enough time,” he added.

Sen. Prozanski added that, “It seems to me we have enough safeguards in place to allow continual motion when right-of-way is clear.”

As for why the bill failed in 2003, Prozanski said it would have passed were it not for one senator (former Senator John Minnis) who simply didn’t like the bill and wouldn’t give it a vote.

When it was proposed again in 2009 by former House Rep. Jules Bailey — with the full backing of The Street Trust (then Bicycle Transportation Alliance) — the bill failed for several reasons: Irresponsible and biased coverage from The Oregonian and other outlets made it controversial; a high-profile firing of The Street Trust lobbyist in charge of the bill scared off some lawmakers; and some advocates blamed legislators who sought revenge against bicycle bills after being strongly criticized for their support of a mandatory bicycle registration bill.

The Street Trust isn’t working SB 998, but as OPB reported yesterday, they are supportive of it.

Idaho was the first state to adopt a statute like this. Arkansas just passed a version of the law last week.

For more background, peruse the 25 stories in our Idaho Stop Law archives.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Goldsprints, Tweed Ride, Outer Powell Groundbreaking, and more

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 15:45

Smiles guaranteed at the Tweed Ride on Saturday.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s time to think about plans for the weekend.

Hopefully you’re able to enjoy something bike-related. The flowering trees and warmth make pedaling around town a pure joy. If you need tips on things to do, we’ve got some recommendations below…

Friday, April 5th Sponsored by: Treo Bike Tours

Let Treo pick you up from Portland and whisk you and your friends to their ranch in Eastern Oregon where you can ride quiet farm roads to your heart’s content. Plan your trip today!

Goldsprints – 6:00 pm at Western Bike Works (NW)
Sit down, strap in, and pedal as hard as you can. Goldsprints are the ultimate challenge for riders and ultimate indoor event for spectators. Western Bike Works will host this benefit for Battlekat Racing and their efforts to get more trans/femme/women into racing. More info here.

Pizza Party Fundraiser for W/T/F Bikexplorers – 6:00 pm at Golden Pliers (N)
The Bikexplorers help make bikecamping more inclusive and Golden Pliers is hosting a party and auction to help them do more of it. More info here.

Saturday, April 6th

Gorge Gravel Grinder – All day in The Dalles
Head east for drier skies and quieter roads and partake in this classic gravel event. Give yourself extra time to soak up the charm of downtown The Dalles. More info here.

Tweed Ride – 10:00 am at Overlook Park (N)
Can you believe it’s been 10 years since the first Tweed Ride? This is a great excuse to slow down and savor thew social side of cycling. Find some vintage garb and get ready for a civilized cycling stroll through the sublime Overlook neighborhood. More info here.

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Outer Powell Project Groundbreaking Ceremony – 10:00 on SE 122nd Ave (SE)
Come out and learn more about this ODOT project that will make major changes to SE Powell Blvd from 122nd to 136th. You might even get a chance to talk to ODOT leaders and staff to share your feedback about this and other projects in the pipeline. More info here.

Sunday, April 7th

Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
Road racing season is here! Spirits and sensations are guaranteed to be high on this weekly ride that caters to fast folks; but is also a great place for intermediate riders looking for valuable experience (and new riding buddies). More info here.

Bike and a Burger – 10:00 am at Sauvie Island Park & Ride lot (NW)
The legendary John Joy will lead a ride from Sauvie onto Highway 30 and up the awesome inclines on NW McNamee Road to a nice meal that awaits at Helvetia Tavern in Washington County. Between breaths, let John regale you with his tales of riding more miles on Highway 30 than anyone else in town. 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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Ask BikePortland: What should I do if a driver harassed me and police don’t take it seriously?

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 13:49

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The latest installment of our Ask BikePortland column comes from a woman named Sabrina S. I’ve changed her name at her request.

Here’s what she asked via email earlier this week:

“Hi – I was hoping someone at BikePortland could give advice on getting help from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) when confronted by dangerous drivers.

I was riding on Southeast Division Street with a friend. We were looking for a restaurant (which we couldn’t find) before heading over to the Clinton greenway. As we were on Division, a car came up behind us then went around us (plenty of room, not a problem). But then the driver started screamed profanities at us to get off the road. We continued on (legally riding on the street, well to the side) when the driver stopped, screamed, “You wanna fight, punk?” and then more profanities as we ignored him to continue on to our destination.

I would like to point out two things: 1) We are both women, in our 50’s. Flattered he thought I was a young punk, but definitely not one. 2) He was a Lyft driver, had the insignia on display in his windshield.

Then he started to circle us, driving around the blocks and continuing to threaten us/scream profanities/say he was going to fight us. By this time we had dropped over to Clinton and were parked on the sidewalk, trying to locate our destination. He then came by again, this time screamed at us to get off the sidewalk. Not sure where he thought we were supposed to exist, if not on the road or the sidewalk? At this point we called 911. The dispatcher didn’t accuse us of anything illegal, but seemed unconcerned and didn’t want to send out an officer even though we had a description of the vehicle and license plate # (which was an Oregon Military Vet license plate). He even questioned the plate number until I told him repeatedly it was a special Vet’s plate with only four letters (rather than the usual alphanumeric ones). He finally recommended I contact Lyft. So, once we got to our destination I finally did – Lyft was much more proactive and interested in investigating the incident. Lyft was great, PPB was not. Any advice, please?”

I responded to Sabrina and shared three possible options:

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1) File a complaint with the Independent Police Review. The IPR is a branch of the City of Portland Auditor’s office and acts as an independent, “civilian oversight agency” that investigates allegations of misconduct by PPB officers. It’s not clear to me if the dispatcher Sabrina spoke with on the phone is a sworn officer or not, so IPR might not be the proper venue.

2) Pursue a retroactive citation. As we’ve covered at length in the past, there’s an existing Oregon law that allows you to work with police to file non-criminal charges against another person (I used to refer to this as “citizen-initiated citation” but I’m trying to not use the word “citizen” anymore). We’ve seen this law used successfully on several occasions in the past. Because Sabrina has the person’s license plate number, she has enough evidence to start the process.

3) Testify in front of Portland City Council. Council has an open public comment period prior to each weekly meeting where you can speak about whatever issue is on your mind. Show up 30 minutes ahead of the meeting to get your name on the list. This would put Sabrina’s experience in the official record and it might solicit a question or prompt some help from Mayor Wheeler (police commissioner) or other city councilor.

Sabrina said she’s too afraid of retaliation to speak at council publicly; but will look into the IPR and other options.

Do you have any advice for Sabrina?

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

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Oregon’s gravel riding season starts this weekend

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 12:18

The Dalles will host the inaugural event of the 2019 season with the Gorge Gravel Grinder on Sunday.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

2019 is going to be a big year for gravel. And it starts in The Dalles this weekend.

Sponsored by:

These companies make our gravel coverage possible.

With promoters stepping up to meet demands of riders who increasingly want to leave cars and pavement behind, our calendar has filled up quite nicely with events that focus on unpaved roads.

Here’s a quick rundown of some local weekday rides and a few of the larger events happening in Portland and around the state…

Small Weeknight Rides

Wild West Gravel Ride Series – Hosted by our friends at Western Bike Works, this weeknight series happens every Wednesday at 6:00 pm. Meet at the shop on NW 17th and Lovejoy (1015 NW 17th) and roll up into Forest Park to get your local gravel fix.

OMTM’s East Buttes – Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) just wrapped up their winter Snax Trax series today. After a week off they’ll fire up the spring season with the weekly East Buttes ride. Led by the experienced unpaved legend Ryan Francesconi, these rides tackle a different route around, over, and through the hills of southeast Portland and Gresham. Ride happens Thursdays at 6:00pm and meets at Gates Park (SE 136th and Holgate). For more on OMTM, check out their website.

Big Rides and Races

Gorge Gravel Grinder (4/7) – This much-anticipated ride is technically sold out; but you might be able to score an open registration slot by checking the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list.

Yamhill Gravel Fondo (4/20) – I’m looking forward to this one, as it’s a new entry on the calendar and the route goes through some beautiful Oregon Country that’s relatively close to home.

Dark Larch V3 (4/21) – This is an unsanctioned, self-supported OMTM ride that will explore the lush, secret netherworlds around Larch Mountain in east Multnonmah County. And yes, this is Easter Sunday.

Cascade Gravel Grinder (4/26) – Billed as a three-day omnium, this unique format blends recreation and competition in a choose-your-own adventure format. You can race or ride and choose any or all of the routes over three days.

Oregon Coast Gravel Epic (5/4) – The opening salvo of the Oregon Triple Crown, a three ride/race series that also includes the Sasquatch Duro (5/18) and the Oregon Gran Fondo (6/1). I’m doing all three of the events this year because I love visiting the small towns that host them: Waldport, Oakridge, and Cottage Grove respectively. It’s also a goal to ride well at all three since they present such varied and challenging routes. OTC, along with series sponsors Co-Motion Cycles and Rolf Prima Wheels is also a BikePortland sponsor so I’ll be riding Co-Motion’s newly redesign Klatch gravel bike!

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A scene from last year’s Oregon Coast Gravel Epic.

Oregon Emerald Outback (5/4) – Another unsanctioned adventure that is not for the faint of heart. Check the official website for details on the 600-mile route.

Gravel (5/17) – Cycle Oregon’s contribution to the gravel revolution is based in Dufur this year. It’ll be three days and two nights of riding, eating, and camping.

Skull 120/60/30 (6/15) – After I did this last year it became an instant Father’s Day tradition. I’m going back to Burns this year and can only hope it’s as good as it was the first time.

Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (6/19 – 6/23) – This is a new format: Five days and 400 miles of great riding in a loop west of Bend. You’ll ride and camp at pre-determined spots. Looks awesome!

Ochoco Gravel Roubaix (8/24) – Hosted by the excellent Good Bike Co. in Prineville, you should seriously consider putting this one on your list. In just a few years it has become a classic and attracts riders (and sponsors) from across the country.

Check out the gravel category on the BikePortland calendar for all the listings.

I hope this gets you excited about all the great gravel rides in the region. Next up I’ll share some of the best (relatively) local areas to find your unpaved paradise. Stay tuned.

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

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Guest Opinion: Job description for new PBOT leader isn’t bold enough

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 10:14

Jillian Detweiler is the executive director of The Street Trust.

“The successful candidate should value all modes of transportation.”

So reads the disappointing job description for the next leader of the Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The Street Trust hoped the recruitment would elevate the exciting and pressing challenge that awaits the new PBOT Director: leading and accelerating significant improvements in alternatives to driving alone. That certainly was the consensus of transportation activists invited to meet with a City Human Resources representative who gathered stakeholder input prior to producing the job description.

In that stakeholder meeting I heard “bold” repeatedly. “Bold” did not make the job description. Neither did “bicycle” or “bus.” A “b” word that made it, though, is “balance” as in “balance the competing uses” of our transportation system. Balance? That’s the code word that prevents real changes to high crash corridors that could save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. Balance is the excuse that leaves thousands of bus riders stuck in traffic. We hope potential applicants, and those who will vet those applicants, recognize that our transportation system is wildly out of balance in favor of cars.

Sure, there are hints that leading PBOT could be an interesting and rewarding job. The position description calls for understanding the racial and socio-economic impacts of access to transportation. It says the candidate should have experience and knowledge addressing population growth and climate change. Yet, there’s nothing that suggests the urgency of these matters and that our City Council has adopted a body of policy that needs action now.

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The Street Trust is concerned this uninspired job description won’t attract the creative, accomplished, bold leader who will help Portland stop spinning her wheels on plans and platitudes and instead make the decisions that will dramatically expand use of alternatives to driving. There are exciting initiatives underway in Portland and this region that could attract the cream of the crop. There’s a plan to improve access in the Central City and we are beginning to expand the greenway network in East Portland. TriMet has significant new money to expand transit service. Metro has declared its intent to bring a transportation package to the voters in 2020.

If this recruitment is not attracting leaders in transportation, we urge Commissioner Eudaly and the City’s Bureau of Human Resources to reframe this opportunity to communicate the challenge and rewards that it offers. And it’s not too late to implement the recommendation from transportation activists to engage experts like Jeff Tumlin, Janette Sadik-Khan or Gabe Klein in the recruitment and vetting process.

The Street Trust will participate in interviews with finalists for the job. We welcome your thoughts on the experience and abilities we should be looking for.

— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

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PBOT testing modular speed bumps to slow down left-turning drivers

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 11:12

PBOT is testing two different designs.
(Photos: PBOT)

The bumps force sharper (and slower) turns.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation wants to make intersections safer by slowing down drivers making left turns. To accomplish this, PBOT is testing the use of modular speed bumps. The bumps act as curbs that encourage people to take more angular turns instead of cutting them at high speeds.

The bumps are made out of a composite material and are screwed into the pavement. Yesterday PBOT staff installed two different version of them in the Albina Yard maintenance facility and rode over them with a bicycle, a truck, and a motorcycle. They also sprayed them down with water to see if they got slippery.

A PBOT staffer gives them a go.

According to posts on social media, PBOT says they, “Wanted to see what these bumps felt like for bike riders of both variety, particularly if the had enough traction when hit at an angle, when wet.”

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Before and after of an intersection in New York. Photos from QZ.com.

New York City already uses them extensively as a method of “left turn calming”.

And as you can see in the example above from New York City (which PBOT linked to), the bumps could be placed directly in the path of a bicycle rider. In a post yesterday, PBOT wrote, “These bumps are placed so bikes won’t have to ride over them much, but we know there may be times a cyclist has to go over one, so we want to make sure the design we choose is safe.”

These speed bumps appeal to PBOT not only as a speed and dangerous turn deterrent, but because they could be installed relatively quickly.

Of the two designs under consideration; one is wider with more aggressive treads, and the other is narrower with fewer tread lines. Once a style is chosen, they plan to use them at high crash intersections with a history of collisions involving bicycle riders and walkers.

Stay tuned for more on these if PBOT hosts a test that’s open to the public. Once they are in the wild we’ll give them a closer look.

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

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PSU will make block of SW Montgomery a carfree plaza in May

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 09:13

This block of SW Montgomery is one of only three between the river and I-405 that isn’t already carfree.
(Photo: Tim Davis)

Portland State University will create a carfree plaza on the block of Southwest Montgomery Street between Broadway and 6th avenues. The plaza will be installed for the month of May and if all goes well, school officials hope it becomes permanent.

Yellow square is location of plaza.

If this sounds familiar it’s because back in September 2017 — before the street reopened following development of the Karl Miller Center — we reported about how Montgomery is a natural place to create a plaza. Local civic booster and transportation reform advocate Tim Davis launched a mini-campaign to encourage PSU to prohibit driving access and open the block to other uses.

It’s not clear if PSU staff was directly influenced by Davis, but they’ve clearly embraced the idea. According to a statement released by the school yesterday, the Montgomery Pop-Up Plaza project will prohibit driving and parking on Montgomery for the entire month of May and, “transform this space into an outdoor campus public space for everyone to enjoy.” “This is a great opportunity for members of the PSU community to engage with the public realm and make this underutilized street at the heart of our campus into a more welcoming and inclusive place,” reads a PSU website devoted to the project.

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Ellen Shoshkes, PhD, is on the faculty of PSU’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. She’s spearheading the project and is working with students to turn the block into a “living lab” by planning a myriad of activities throughout the month. Architecture students will build “street seats” where people currently park cars. May is Bike Month and Pride Month at PSU. Clint Culpepper with PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services says pride will be a big theme.

“The first thing people mention when they hear we’re blocking off the street is, ‘We should do that permanently.'”
— Clint Culpepper, PSU Transportation & Parking Services

Culpepper said in a phone interview this morning that he and other staffers hope the block will someday become a permanent carfree plaza. For now, the plan will be to block auto access with large planters (bicycle users will still be allowed to pass through) and create a large-scale, pride-themed painting on the street that will cover the entire block. “The street will appear quite different from Broadway and 6th. It will be a clear demarcation that this is not just a street for folks driving through; but that you’re meant to walk on it.”

In addition to the painting, street seats, and even opera performances, there will be a lighting project to activate the space after dark. Five street trees will be illuminated and cycle through different colors.

Feedback from student and staff surveys has been overwhelmingly positive, Culpepper says. “The first thing people mention when they hear we’re blocking off the street in May is, ‘We should do that permanently.'”

This section of Montgomery is surrounded on all sides by PSU campus buildings, but the right-of-way itself is owned by the City of Portland. Culpepper says they’re working closely with the Portland Bureau of Transportation to pull off the month-long project. With thousands of people walking and biking on the campus every day, Culpepper wants to make sure there’s no negative impacts to them or to drivers who need to pass through the campus.

“Hopefully this is a launching pad for an annual event,” Culpepper said. “If we can do that, then we can drum up support and financing to make it a permanent plaza.”

Stay tuned for more details as May approaches.

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

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Commissioner Eudaly pushes tolls instead of new lanes on I-5 through Rose Quarter

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 07:03

PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In yet another piece of very good news for people who are concerned about the Oregon Department of Transportation’s plans to expand Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter, Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly released a pointed statement via Facebook about the project on Tuesday evening.

Eudaly said she’s joining the Portland Public Schools Board, Albina Vision, and other groups in calling for a more thorough analysis of the project’s impacts to the community. “I believe it’s more than called for,” she wrote, referring to her belief that ODOT should complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) instead of just an Environmental Assessment (EA, learn more about the differences between the two here).

“The added auxiliary lanes on I-5 will not deliver meaningful safety, environmental, or equity benefits to Portland.”
— Chloe Eudaly, Portland City Commissioner

Going further, Eudaly expressed serious doubts about the project. She dismissed its planned freeway expansion and surface street improvements as merely “nice” and said, “As it stands the added auxiliary lanes on I-5 will not deliver meaningful safety, environmental, or equity benefits to Portland.”

Despite her misgivings, Eudaly says since funds for the project were passed by the legislature (via HB 2017, which included $30 million to pay for project bonds starting in 2022), there’s nothing she and her City Council colleagues can do about it. “These funds, which come from the State Highway Fund, are restricted and not under my control, neither is the highway, or any ODOT owned properties in our city,” she wrote. Eudaly also revealed that she’s been told if the I-5 Rose Quarter project dies, the funds would simply be reallocated to another freeway expansion project in the region. (Note: Eudaly refers to “all $500 million for the highway and surface streets,” but that’s not what the legislature has approved for the project.)

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Eudaly also echoed the opinion expressed by Metro Council President Lynn Peterson on Monday, that ODOT needs to do much more to embrace the Albina Vision plan. She even used the term “remediation” when calling for ODOT to do more to mitigate the harms of past Rose Quarter developments on black people who lived in the now-razed Albina neighborhood. Remediation is the same word used by Albina Vision spokesperson Rukaiyah Adams in her own stinging assessment of ODOT’s conduct around the project thus far.

“I urge all who support this approach to contact the OTC and let them know that you support Portland’s Central City Plan and expect congestion pricing to be part of any work on the I-5 corridor.”

And despite ODOT’s attempts to decouple congestion pricing from this project, Commissioner Eudaly said she thinks making people pay to drive on this section of the freeway is “the best solution for reducing traffic.” She feels so strongly about congestion pricing she plans to send a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, the governor-appointed body that oversees ODOT), “reminding them” that the Portland’s Central City Plan was amended last year specifically to ensure that congestion pricing is in place prior to the completion of the I-5 Rose Quarter project.

“I urge all who support this approach to contact the OTC,” Eudaly wrote, “and let them know that you support Portland’s Central City Plan and expect congestion pricing to be part of any work on the I-5 corridor.”

As per HB 2017, all revenue collected from congestion pricing would go into a “Congestion Relief Fund.” ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton told me via email in February 2018 that, “Specific decisions about how to allocate those funds will be determined later.”

Eudaly’s statement puts the City of Portland in a strange position: For many months now, ODOT staff has touted the close partnership and support they have from PBOT on this project. Now PBOT staff are in the awkward position of having to work on a project their own Commissioner isn’t too thrilled about.

In related news, the Congress for New Urbanism put I-5 on its list of Freeways Without a Future report released today.

CORRECTION, 4/4: An earlier version of this story said revenue from Congestion Relief Fund would be managed via the State Highway Fund. That was incorrect. New tolling revenue would not be part of the highway fund. I regret the error.

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

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Man nets big haul of nails and screws on a walk across the St. Johns Bridge

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 16:07

Part of the haul. See more below.
(Photo: Imgur via Reddit)

A reader shared a Reddit post with us that underscores the poor conditions bicycle riders face on the St. Johns Bridge.

From leaves in fall and gravel in winter, to nails and illegally parked cars and delivery trucks — it sometimes feels like we face a constant barrage of hazards while biking around Portland.

That being said, it’s nice to know people care enough to take matters into their own hands and clean things up.

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This Redditor bought a magnet, walked the length of the St. Johns Bridge and says he picked up about 100-200 nails, screws and other objects. Just imagine how many flat tires he prevented!

We are grateful for his service. It reminds me of Portland’s bike lane trash hauler Danny Dunn and Bill Stites’ pedal-powered bike lane sweeper we profiled back in November.

Read more about this civic hero over on the Reddit thread, where many people have thanked him for preventing flat tires.

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

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Route Advisory: Sewer work will close Better Naito for one week

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 14:45

The Bureau of Environmental Services needs to do a sewer repair project that will close Better Naito for a week starting next Monday (4/9).

Below is the official notice from BES:

The closure will be in effect 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday. The project is slated to be complete on Friday, April 13. Work crews will not know the extent of damage until they excavate the area under the street and there is a possibility the time frame will be extended.

Environmental Services has determined that a sewer pipe under the road surface is severely deteriorated and at risk of failure. The repair will protect public health and the environment by reducing the possibility of a sewage release to the park and street.

The work zone is centered around a manhole on the west side of Salmon Springs in Waterfront Park. Crews will use the manhole to reach and repair the sewer pipe which extends from the manhole west along SW Salmon Street. The section needing repair is directly under Better Naito.

People traveling along the Better Naito bicycle and pedestrian lane will be detoured to Waterfront Park:

— Northbound travelers will be routed to Waterfront Park at SW Main Street, then along the Waterfront Park trail, and back to Better Naito on SW Yamhill Street.
— Southbound travelers will be routed to Waterfront Park on SW Yamhill Street, then along Waterfront Park, and back to Better Naito at SW Main Street.

People traveling by bicycle on SW Salmon Street will have the option of merging with northbound auto traffic for about a block before returning to Better Naito.

Environmental Services asks all travelers to be patient and use caution, and for people on bicycles to travel slowly and watch out for pedestrians on the Waterfront Park trail.

In related news a two-month closure of a popular section of the Eastbank Esplanade between Hawthorne and Steel Bridges is over! The path is open and the new pavement is nice and smooooth.

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

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PBOT moves forward with I-205 path undercrossing project

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 13:47

Proposed alignment in red. (Graphic: PBOT)

“The sooner this happens, the better. This crossing is currently a major obstacle to even the most dedicated bike commuter.”
— Carl Alviani

At their meeting tomorrow, Portland City Council will formally accept a $1.68 million grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation for the I-205 Undercrossing project.

This project is a key link to several projects in east Portland and will help create access to the bike park at Gateway Green as well existing and future neighborhood greenways, paths, and bikeways. The proposed project will create the first section of the long-awaited Sullivan’s Gulch path. It will build a new path connecting the I-205 path at Gateway Green on the east side of 205 to NE Hancock Drive on the west side of the freeway. The plan is to go under the I-84 westbound on-ramp and use a mix of railroad and vacant ODOT highway right-of-way.

Once complete, this new, 0.4-mile long path will also connect the Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway on the west side of I-205 with the forthcoming Tillamook-Holladay-Oregon-Pacific (T-HOP) Neighborhood Greenway which is scheduled to begin construction this summer. A safer crossing of I-205 will also help connect to PBOT’s Gateway to Opportunity project on the Halsey/Weidler corridor.

The new undercrossing will also provide much-needed access to Gateway Green bike park. Currently, people coming from the west are forced onto the sidewalk of the NE Halsey overpass and then faced with crossing the arterial and riding through large parking lots to get to the I-205 path.

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Current eastbound bike route puts you up on a sidewalk opposing traffic on NE Halsey overpass.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“The sooner this happens, the better,” wrote Carl Alviani in a comment submitted to ODOT in support of the project, “this crossing is currently a major obstacle to even the most dedicated bike commuter, and fixing it a crucial pre-condition for a working Sullivan’s Gulch multi-use path. You want people to get out of their cars and off I-84 for their morning commute? Give them a straight shot into the city on their bikes, without having to worry about getting run over while crossing the street.”

Cassie Capone commented that she is, “Thrilled about this project!” and that it’s a necessary component to safe access to and from Gateway. “Crossing the Halsey Bridge over 205 on a bike is unsafe and stressful and the alternatives are significantly out of the way.”

In 2015 we reported that this was one of the top five priorities of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee. We also shared an close-up view of where it will go on a June 2016 bike tour with East Portland Action Plan’s Bike Committee.

With this grant funding in hand, PBOT will begin the public involvement and design/engineering phase of the project. Construction is slated to begin in 2021.

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

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