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Updated: 19 weeks 4 days ago

With velodrome saved, track fans prep for big season

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 13:19

Time to hit the banked walls of Alpenrose!
(Photo: Leonard Johnson/HotFoot Photo)

It wasn’t until our community was faced with losing the Alpenrose Velodrome for good that many people realized just how much love exists for this facility.

We recently heard from Jim Graves of the Portland Velodrome Committee and Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Membership Director/Alpenrose Velodrome Director Jen Featheringill about what’s in store for 2019.

How to speak track
  • Keirin – A 6 lap race with riders starting from a standing start.
  • Point-a-Lap – First racer across the line every lap receives one point.
  • Snowball – Mass start race run over a set distance.
  • Points Race – A predetermined number of sprints occur at set intervals.
  • Scratch Race – All riders race for a set number of laps.

With that major scare now behind us, and with spring’s drier skies in front of us, the focus now is on using it. Local track racing organizers are eager to turn this renewed sense of gratitude for the velodrome into race participation and support in the coming season.

Graves said one big change this year is they’ve moved the popular Track Development Class for Beginners to Tuesday evenings. This was done so up-and-coming junior racers (many of whom would opt to race the Tuesday PIR series at Portland International Raceway) could compete in the weekly Alpenrose Cup Series which now takes place on Wednesdays.

If you’re track-curious and want to try Alpenrose for the first time, Tuesday nights are for you. The Track Development Class is a prerequisite to get you certified to compete. Because track bikes have fixed gears and Alpenrose has tricky banked walls, this isn’t a sport you just hop on and do (like cyclocross for instance). Tuesday track class ($20 for adults, $10 for juniors) will get you sorted with experienced instructors. The first class is April 30th and the series runs weekly through August 28th. You can’t ride your regular bike on the track, so they’ll provide a free bike if you need one. Show up at 5:30 to get signed in and set for the 6:00 pm start.

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OBRA’s Featheringill said they had a 30% increase in the number of racers/day last season and, “All of that starts with getting folks out to the beginner classes on Tuesdays so we can get new people hooked on the sport.”

Watching is fun too!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re a woman/trans/femme/non-binary racer and interested in racing, local team BattleKat PDX recently raised enough funds to cover 150 race entries. (Contact them for more information.) On a related note, there’s a track clinic for W/T/F/NB racers this Sunday (4/28).

Another thing worth noting this year is the upgrade to the Thursday Night Track (TNT) series. Every Thursday night from May 5th through August 29th, there’s serious racing and every last Thursday of the month is a special Spectator Night with a BBQ and podium/prize ceremony.

With the Fast Twitch Friday series, there are events happening at Alpenrose four nights a week.

And I haven’t even mentioned the big weekend races like the Alpenrose 4-Day, the Black Cat Omnium, Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge, and more. For more information, see the full OBRA track schedule and check out the official Alpenrose Velodrome website.

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

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PBOT unveils design concepts for 12 projects that could transform northwest Portland

Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:32

Currently a one-lane road sandwiched between two lots under construction, PBOT wants make a section of NW Savier into a signed and colored two-way bikeway.

After kicking off about a year ago, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has released a major piece of their Northwest in Motion Plan (NWIM).

As we reported back in November, the goal of this plan is to create a detailed and prioritized list of shovel-ready projects that can be built in the short-term (1-5 years). PBOT’s work in northwest mirrors the East Portland in Motion and Southwest in Motion plans (we’ll likely see similar efforts in southeast and north/northeast soon).

The Draft Tier 1 Projects Overview (PDF) includes 12 projects broken down into three categories: neighborhood greenways; transit improvements, and corridor safety.

Similar to recent work we’ve seen from PBOT on NE 7th and in southwest, the designs in this plan push the envelope for active transportation. Staying true to our myriad lofty planning goals, the Northwest in Motion proposals put walking, biking, and transit firmly atop the modal hierarchy. With a variety of traffic calming measure, right-of-way adjustments, and lane reconfigurations, PBOT is showing us the potential of our streets when we don’t make driving the top priority.

Below is a look at a few of the nuggets in the draft project list:

Beefing up NW Johnson with major changes near REI

The most stressful segment of Johnson would become one-way only for drivers and get dedicated space for cycling.

The plan calls for updated the existing greenway on Johnson between 9th and 25th. This is a crucial east-west biking corridor that connects the Broadway Bridge to the west hills and provides access to many high-value destinations.

PBOT wants to make it better for biking by removing old train rails at 15th, installing significant traffic diverters to lower driving volumes, adding speed bumps, turning stop signs to improve cycling efficiency, adding crossing upgrades, and smoothing out broken pavement.

The section between 14th and 16th (REI) is the most stressful today. PBOT wants to make it better by turning NW Johnson into a one-way for drivers and adding a separated, two-way bikeway through the entire section. To get the space, they’d remove an existing lane used for on-street parking. New diverters would prevent cut-through drivers.

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Separated bike lane on Overton at Fields Park

Overton provides a nice connection to NW Naito Parkway, Fields Park, and more. Currently it has no dedicated cycling space and people parked their cars on both sides of the street. PBOT’s plan would provide a buffered bike lane eastbound (using space currently used as auto parking) while maintaining a shared lane westbound. To reduce the amount of drivers on the street, PBOT would install a full diverter at NW 9th

Serious diversion on Marshall

The proposal should significantly reduce the amount of drivers on NW Marshall. A full diverter at 15th (under I-405) would prevent through auto traffic and a neckdown between 20th and 21st would limit cut-through drivers.

Diagonal diverter at 20th and Pettygrove
A thing of beauty isn’t it? PBOT wants to do this to reduce driving traffic at the confluence of two neighborhood greenways and create new green/public space.

24th getting its due

As the westernmost through street at the base of the west hills, 24th is a key connector to the Lovejoy-Cornell corridor, commercial district on NW Thurman, Highway 30, and much more. I’m most excited about the treatments proposed at NW Vaughn, an industrial collector that is very stressful to cross and ride on. PBOT wants to restrict turning movements from Vaughn onto 24th with a full median and make the crossing safer.

The existing bike lanes on Vaughn would also be improved. PBOT wants to beef up striping through intersections and install “protected left signal phases” at 25th and 27th. These would separate the biking/walking movements from the driving movements so that dangerous left-turns would no longer be a source of collisions.

No more leapfrogging buses

New transit islands could be coming on Marshall and Flanders at 18th and 19th. PBOT’s design have the bikeway go behind the bus stop. Bus operators would save time and have less conflict with bicycle users by stopping in the travel lane instead of right next to the curb. I’ve been pushing for this design for years and would love to see it used citywide.

While these designs look promising, northwest neighborhood resident and NWIM Community Advisory Group member Reza Farhoodi said advocacy will be needed to make them a reality. “I think the draft plan overall does a great job of shifting the Overton window on bicycling and safe streets in northwest, but it’s not a done deal,” he shared with us via email today. “Effective outreach is critical for engaging people who want to see real improvements to bicycle facilities in northwest and help advocate for this plan at City Council.”

What do you think about these designs? Stay tuned for announcement of dates for open houses next month.

And keep in mind, this isn’t everything PBOT is planning for northwest. The Flanders Crossing bridge and Flanders Bikeway are both slated for construction next year. Portland Streetcar is also planning a major northwest expansion that will come with additions and changes to the bike network. Stay tuned for more on that project.

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

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Two more reasons we need more dedicated cycling space in the central city

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 11:40

Streets like NW 10th are very intimidating to ride on — especially when you have a streetcar operator harassing you.

In the past week I’ve heard about two incidents that illustrate an often overlooked reason why we need more dedicated, protected bikeways in the central city.

“Then [the streetcar] got very close to me and was continuously honking and I realized it was directed at me.”
— Nate M.

For years, Portland bicycle riders have been forced to share the same roads with car, truck and transit operators. PBOT has timed the signals for around 12 mph, which keeps most people in check. But the shared environment only attracts a tiny percentage of people. To move the needle for ridership, we must give people a more comfortable place to ride. We recently passed a detailed blueprint, the Central City in Motion Plan, that should hasten development the protected network we desperately need. Now we need to implement it.

So far this year two people have been killed on central city streets where safety projects are already planned but have yet to be built.

In the past few days, readers have contacted me about two incidents where a transit operator behaved in an unsafe and rude manner toward a bicycle operator. In both cases, the bicycle user was left scared and confused. And in both cases, if the bicycle users had dedicated space to ride — or if there was a better route option nearby — they could have avoided the situation.

Below are the first-person accounts of what happened…

From reader Nate M.:

“Yesterday I left work on my bike getting in the lane of NW 10th Avenue (north of Burnside) in the middle of the tracks in front of no traffic as I have to turn right eventually on Hoyt. I cycle here as I do not want to cross the tracks multiple times in the 6 blocks I commute on 10th… The streetcar was picking up people at the Couch stop. The lane was clear so I got back on my bike clear of no traffic. The Streetcar was approaching behind me and was directly behind at the red traffic signal at NW 10th and Davis. I then proceeded to go at the green light and then the Street Car honked its horn. I was not sure what it was at. Then it got very close to me and was continuously honking and I realized it was directed at me, this was when I decided to go over the tracks left into the lane.

Nate might have opted for these planned protected bike lanes in the nearby Park Blocks.

I had no idea why I was being honked at and directed to move left by the streetcar? This is dangerous for me as a cyclist crossing the tracks in the first place. I was forced to move left, the streetcar drove by me… So after going left, I had to wait for traffic to go by to go right over the the tracks again for me to turn right on Hoyt. I was just confused and the streetcar added danger to my ride.

Nate figured he was doing something illegal by riding in the streetcar track lane. He wasn’t. Bicycle users are allowed to ride in streetcar lanes. He reported the incident to Portland Streetcar and they are following up with the driver.

There’s no project on NW 10th in the CCIM plan, but there is a project (#16) a few streets over that would create a protected bike lane couplet on NW Park and 8th. That might become Nate’s preferred route… if it ever gets built.

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I’ve ridden 12th a lot. It can be very stressful.

The next case came in today from Jessica S. She witnessed a scary situation involving a bike rider and bus operator on SE 12th between Stark and Ash:

Plans for 12th will give bicycle riders their own lane.

“A bike was traveling north in the right lane (there is no bike lane or extra space, so the cyclist was in the middle of the lane). The bus passed unsafely. Instead of occupying the whole left lane that was available to the bus, the bus only moved half way into the left lane, keeping the other half of the bus in the right lane. This means the bus was dangerously close to the cyclist as it passed. The bus then moved back into the right lane after barely passing the cyclist, keeping an unsafely close proximity to the cyclist.

The bus driver honked during this unnecessary and dangerous move, both startling the cyclist, leaving this cyclist to wonder if the driving thinks they are right in with this dangerous behavior.”

Jessica is worried about this bus operator’s behavior and has filed a report with TriMet.

On 12th Avenue, just like on 10th, there is no dedicated space for cycling. Thankfully, CCIM project #4 will change that. PBOT wants to reconfigure the existing roadway on 12th and create a wide, dedicated lane for bicycle users. If that design were in place today, this dangerous interaction would not have happened. Unfortunately, the is on the 6-10 year implementation list.

In the meantime, we can’t just hope that all transit operators will drive safely and with respect for others 100% of the time.

Incidents like these happen with much more frequency than most people realize. They are one reason why many people will never dare to try bicycling in Portland. If we want to reach our climate/planning/bicycling/vision zero goals, we must give people their own place to ride. And plans on shelves is not enough. We need to move more quickly and re-design our streets in a way that prevents these kind of interactions from happening in the first place.

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

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Students at Tubman Middle School wore masks to protest toxic air from I-5 drivers

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 10:22

Students from Harriet Tubman Middle School on the N Flint Ave bridge yesterday. Their classrooms are just 50 feet from freeway lanes.
(Photos: Aaron Brown/No More Freeways PDX)

The kids know.

On Earth Day yesterday, Portland-based nonprofit Neighbors for Clean Air organized a protest on the Flint Avenue Bridge. Dozens of students from nearby Harriet Tubman Middle School joined them. They wore masks, donned “No Dirty Diesel” t-shirts, and chanted, “Diesel is dirty! Diesel is dumb!”.


From their perch on the bridge, the students could see thousands of people driving fossil fuel-burning cars and trucks below. They could also see their classrooms. Tubman is just 50 feet away from I-5 and has a well-known history of bad air quality because of it.

The kids were there to support House Bill 2007, a proposal that would create stronger regulations for diesel emissions. But they were also a visible symbol of what’s at stake with the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway project.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland want to to expand the freeway so it — and the toxic driving it encourages — will be even closer to the lungs of these students. Despite their claims to the contrary, ODOT’s freeway expansion will lead to more drivers, more exhaust, and dirtier air. The plan is so harmful that the Portland Public School Board is vehemently opposed to it.

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“The potential impacts of the proposed project to Harriet Tubman Middle School are particularly troubling,” the School Board wrote in a letter outlining their demands for a more thorough environmental analysis.

The widening of the freeway would also require that ODOT demolish and remove the bridge the students stood on — a move even the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s own Bicycle Advisory Committee said is a bad idea. “The removal of the Flint Ave crossing… would have a negative impact on bicycle travel that cannot be replaced by any of the facilities proposed in the Build alternative,” the BAC wrote in their letter opposing the project. Currently about 3,000 people ride bicycles over the Flint Ave Bridge every day.

These Tubman students deserve better. We’re grateful for their courage in speaking out and we hope our local elected leaders take heed.

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

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300 people turned out for the annual Kidical Mass Easter Ride!

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 08:41

Kidical Mass PDX Co-director Sara Cowling Davidson prepares to lead the ride.
Photos: Madi Carlson

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

With the Easter bunny hopping onto the scene so has arrived biking season! Like myself, you may feel that biking season never closed to begin with, but I still like celebrating the first big Kidical Mass PDX kids-of-all-ages family bike ride of the year on Easter. Also, with Pedalpalooza rides appearing hourly and Sunday Parkways details filtering in, bikey things really are picking up all of a sudden.

Our “season opener” was the biggest one yet with about 300 participants. We enjoyed cool but dry weather and had a wonderful egg hunt at the end. We even made the local TV news! Scroll down for some fun photos and the video coverage from KOIN…

Kidical Mass taking the lane by Dog Bowl for our three-mile ride.

Bike helmets make terrific Easter egg baskets.

No need for an Easter bunny when you’ve got an Easter pug. Hi Rando!

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BikePortland subscriber and Gorge Pedal organizer A J Zelada shared these wonderful photos with me:

If you’d like to join the next Kidical Mass PDX ride, it will be Sunday, May 12th (Mother’s Day) at 10am starting at Sewallcrest Park to celebrate CycloFemme, a global event to “Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, Empower the Future of Women in Cycling.”

That’s for reading!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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‘No More Deaths’ rally planned following recent fatality

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:29

A woman was killed on Friday afternoon while walking across NE Broadway. Local advocates have now planned a memorial event to highlight the inherent dangers at this section of Broadway and encourage the City of Portland to do more to mitigate them.

“I hope that this memorial will seriously open the eyes of the people who need to fix this.”
— Victim’s daughter (via Facebook)

“We are devastated to hear about this tragedy and frustrated that this street is so dangerous for people that walk and cycle. We are coming together on Wednesday April 24 at 5:30PM to honor her memory,” reads a statement about the event from BikeLoudPDX, a grassroots, all-volunteer group that responded to collisions on SE Division Street in 2016 by installing hay bales to tame fast drivers.

The plan is to meet at the intersection on NE Broadway and Grand at 5:30 pm this Wednesday evening. There will be a moment of silence at 6:00 pm and then a group bike ride to City Hall.

Here’s more from BikeLoudPDX:

“As a city we uphold values that no one should die on our streets. In 2016 city council approved a Vision Zero resolution to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025, but we are already falling short of this goal. This is the 17th death on our streets this year.

NE Broadway ranks as the most dangerous corridor for biking and fifth for walking. 4 other people have been injured crossing this intersection since 2007.

Redoing this section of Broadway is part of planned safety updates in Central City in Motion, which was passed unanimously by City Council in November 2018. This project is on the 1-5 year implementation plan but there is no date scheduled for when any changes might come to this corridor.”

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BikeLoudPDX says there are several things that could be done quickly to make this street safer. They want a protected left turn sign from Grand to Broadway, a temporary narrowing of the street with construction materials, a protected bike lane, and a “leading pedestrian interval” (LPI, where walkers get green while drivers see red).

The Street Trust and Oregon Walks are also supportive of this event and are helping out.

The victim’s daughter is aware of the event and fully supportive. “Seeing someone bring a memorial together like this touches me so deeply,” she shared on the event’s Facebook page. “I hope that this memorial will seriously open the eyes of the people who need to fix this.”

As we reported over the weekend, an eyewitness to Friday’s fatal collision said the woman had the right-of-way prior to being run over by a “huge delivery truck” that was turning left, “and they didn’t even slow down.”

According to our fatality tracker, this was the 16th fatal traffic collision of 2019. There was yet another one yesterday, bringing the total to 17. That puts us five fatalities over our year-to-date total from 2018.

Get more details on Wednesday’s event on the BikePortland Calendar or Facebook.

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

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Here’s why I think we should change stop sign laws for bicycle users

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 09:32

KATU’s Steve Dunn and I in an interview that aired over the weekend. Watch video below.

Bicycles and cars are vastly different types of vehicles and our laws should do more to reflect that.

That’s just one of many reasons I strongly support Senate Bill 998 currently working its way through the Oregon Legislature. The bill would allow bicycle users to treat stop signs and flashing red signals as yield signs (also known as “Idaho Stop” for a similar law on the books in Idaho for over 30 years). In other words, you’d only have to come to a complete when it was necessary due to oncoming traffic or some other safety-related condition. The law does not allow dangerous behavior and specifically requires bicycle users to slow to a “safe speed.”

As per usual, this reasonable concept causes many people to freak out. I went on local TV to try and calm some nerves and explain why I support the bill.

This is the third time the idea has come up in Oregon and it feels like there is less freaking out this time around. But with Americans’ deeply embedded sense of driving privilege and related bias against bicycle riders — and a media culture that loves stoking us/them divisions — you can never be sure.

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Last week I was invited to the studio of our local ABC-TV affiliate (KATU) to talk about this on their Your Voice, Your Vote public interest show with longtime news anchor Steve Dunn. Just like I did in 2012 when someone wanted to make licenses for cycling mandatory and after Oregon passed a $15 bike tax, I happily accepted the invitation.

In my experience we have much healthier conversations about these sensitive topics the more we get beyond the sensationalism, soundbites, and shouting matches. It would have been nice to debate someone with an opposing viewpoint; but KATU wasn’t able to find anyone who was against the bill and willing to show up. Thankfully, Steve Dunn did a great job asking questions and I think it was a helpful conversation.

Watch the video below and tell me what you think:

As for SB 998, it passed its Senate committee 6-1 and now awaits a committee assignment and vote on the House side. If you support the bill, please contact your representative — especially if your rep is on the House Judiciary committee.

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

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The Monday Roundup: A thief’s remorse, sorrow in DC, and more

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 08:44

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic, coming to beautiful Waldport on May 4th.

I hope all your weekend dreams came true! Judging by the photos I’ve seen it looks like the spring weather was loved by all.

Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

He fought against what killed him: Our friends who fight for bike safety in Washington DC are reeling after fellow advocate Dave Salovesh was hit and killed by a reckless driver on an unsafe street.

Biking, the wonder drug: A Specialized-funded brain research study is showing how cycling helps kids focus and improves their brain muscle.

A more inclusive cycling scene: Ayesha McGowan (@AyeSuppose on Twitter) is a racer, but she is quickly gaining attention for her work in giving voice to people of color by calling out the bike industry’s blindspots.

“Unsafe Uber? Lethal Lyft?”: City Observatory wants researchers to dig a bit deeper in efforts to show a correlation between increased crash rates and more people using ride-hailing services.

A bike thief’s remorse: Crazy story from California where a repeat bike thief tried to return a high-end road bike to the shop he stole it from.

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Camera enforcement: The State of Washington has one-upped Oregon with a law proposal that would allow Seattle to use cameras to issue citations to people who block crosswalks and bus lanes with their cars.

Find rides: National nonprofit People for Bikes has launched a new app called “Ride Spot” that aims to help you find great routes.

Greenlight for Idaho Stop: Legal expert Rick Bernardi explains why it’s time to mainstream the Idaho Stop.

Climate emergency: The City of Vancouver BC wants to take action against climate change with a series of big policy proposals — several of which are directly related to getting people out of cars and onto bikes and transit.

Scooting drunk: If we figure out how to detect drunk scooter riders before drunk car drivers I am going to be pissed.

Cars kill: Forbes has a breakdown of how to deal with the global pandemic of road traffic deaths, which are now the top killer of people aged 5 to 29.

How low can they go?: Bike Snob has thoughts to share about why some Americans are so anti-bike they don’t even make sense.

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

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Police investigate fatal collision at NE Broadway and Grand

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:08

NE Grand northbound at Broadway.

NOTE: Please see updates at end of this story. It was originally reported as a bicycle fatality; but we have since confirmed that the woman killed was walking prior to being hit.

Portland Police say someone has been hit and killed in the area of NE Grand Avenue and Broadway.

We don’t have any details at this time other than the victim is a woman.

From a photo of the scene provided by reader Tom Cooney, the woman’s body came to rest on Broadway between Grand and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. This is a very unsafe place for vulnerable road users. The road design and land-use pattern at this location strongly prioritizes driving above everything else. Broadway is one-way (westbound) and has five lanes for drivers (four through lanes, one parking lane). There’s a narrow, unprotected bike lane on the right curb. On the block prior to Grand the bike lane moves away from the curb to allow for drivers to turn right (north).

This past November, City Council passed the Central City in Motion Plan. Project #18 — which is among the high priority projects slated for construction within 1-5 years — would create a protected bike lane on this section of NE Broadway.

PBOT rendering of Central City in Motion plan that would improve biking facility at same location where this woman was killed.

By our tally, this is the 16th fatal traffic collision so far this year and the ninth involving a person on foot.

If you have any information about this collision, please get in touch. We’ll update this post as we know more.

UPDATE, 4/19 at 10:45pm: I’ve heard from a woman who was at the scene. Here’s what she saw:

“She was crossing Broadway holding her groceries, I know she had the right of way because I was also about to cross the road. A huge delivery truck was turning left, northbound from Grand onto Broadway and they didn’t even slow down. They hit her, she fell to the ground and they ran over her body with the front and back tires. I was 10 feet from her and I cannot get it out of my head.

The passenger of the truck yelled out something to her along the lines of “What the hell lady?!” before he realized what had happened and a man who was walking behind me (and ended up running to help her) yelled back to tell him.”

Based on this eyewitness account, below is a diagram showing the movements of the truck driver (red arrow) and the walker (green arrow).

(Note: This is an estimation and is not intended to show exact location of vehicle.)

KGW TV’s Mike Benner snapped this photo of the large delivery truck that was driven into the woman:

Portland Police have not issued any further information. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12:58 pm, 4/20: PPB have issued an update:

The investigation is continuing into yesterday’s fatal traffic crash. It appears a commercial delivery truck was on Northeast Grand Avenue turning westbound onto Northeast Broadway Street when the truck collided with a pedestrian. That pedestrian, a female in her fifties, died as a result of her injuries.

The driver of the truck remained at the scene and was cooperative. Speed and alcohol do not appear to have been a factor in this collision.

The Forensic Evidence Division and the Multnomah County Medical Examiner also responded to the scene. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office was consulted during this investigation as well.

If anyone has information relating to this crash, they are asked to contact Investigator Dave Enz at 503-823-2208.

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

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PBOT wants diverters on N Michigan to reduce crashes and cut-through drivers

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 12:13

PBOT sketch of diverters proposed for North Michigan at Skidmore.

The rising number of people using cars on our neighborhood streets has many negative impacts. Among them are more crashes caused by people who make dangerous moves out of frustration, selfishness, impatience, or all of the above. One way to combat this is to constrain the driving environment so people have fewer choices and are forced to make safer movements.

And that’s exactly what the Portland Bureau of Transportation wants to do on North Michigan Avenue at Skidmore.

Like many neighborhood greenways throughout Portland during peak hours, Michigan is no longer “low-stress and family friendly” during.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Residential development has skyrocketed in recent years in the Boise and Humboldt neighborhoods around the lower North Mississippi and Interstate avenue corridors. North Michigan runs north-south and despite its designation as a “low-stress, family-friendly” neighborhood greenway, many people use it as a cut-through to avoid backups on Interstate 5 (one block over). When these north-south cut-through drivers mix with east-west drivers backed up at the N Skidmore/Mississippi intersection (one block east), bad things happen. It creates dangerous conditions for people on foot, and for those using cars and bikes.

After hearing about this project from the Boise Neighborhood Newsletter earlier this week, I asked PBOT for some background.

PBOT staff confirmed with me in a phone interview today that someone noticed this problem and took the time to call it into PBOT’s traffic safety hotline (a.k.a. 823-SAFE). PBOT investigated to determine if any follow-up was needed. In this case, PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen says city traffic engineers took a closer look at the intersection and found 11 crashes in the past four years, including six in 2016 (the latest year data is available). “It’s a growing problem,” Cohen said.

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Existing conditions.

The collisions happen when people are backed up on Skidmore and there’s limited visibility for north and southbound road users on North Michigan. People inch out into Skidmore, and then dart across, resulting in what PBOT calls, “angle crashes”. “To address that situation, our engineers want to get people to not continue across Skidmore,” Cohen said.

“We acknowledge there’s more traffic on Michigan than we think is ideal for a neighborhood greenway.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

As you can see in the lead graphic, PBOT’s solution is to install diverters (with plastic poles and paint) that will prohibit auto users from crossing Michigan and force them to turn right onto Skidmore.

While the impetus for this project was to reduce crashes, it will also reduce the amount of drivers on Michigan.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said today, “We acknowledge there’s more traffic on Michigan than we think is ideal for a neighborhood greenway.”

Rivera and Cohen said PBOT wants to take a more comprehensive look at the entire Michigan corridor to find ways to limit auto use and create a low-stress cycling environment.

If you want to learn more about this project, or share your feedback with Scott Cohen, he’ll be at the Boise Neighborhood Association Land Use & Transportation meeting on Monday (4/22) at Q Center (4115 N Mississippi Ave) from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

(In related news, Cohen said the construction of concrete curbs for the unprotected bike lanes on North Rosa Parks Way should be completed this summer.)

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

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Project will reduce driving space, add safer bikeways and crossings to SE 162nd Avenue

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:12

There’s no good reason a road through a residential neighborhood should be this wide.

Here’s something new: the Portland Bureau of Transportation is set to invest $1.6 million on an arterial in east Portland before it gets on their list of high crash streets.

The 162nd Avenue Safe Access to Transit project aims to tame a 1.6 mile section of the road between SE Powell Blvd and SE Alder St. The project will reconfigure lanes, reduce driving space from five lanes to three, shorten crossing distances with concrete medians, paint new crosswalks, improve transit stops, build new sidewalks, enhance street lighting, and add cycling-only lanes.

Proposed changes to SE Tibbets intersection.
(Click to enlarge)

Specifically, safer crossings with median islands and marked crosswalks are coming to the intersections of 162nd and Mill, Lincoln, and Tibbets (see graphic). New sidewalks are coming to the east side of 162nd just north of Taylor Street and on the north side of Main Street (just west of 162nd).

Currently, the average distance between marked crossings on this stretch of 162nd is 2,900 feet — that’s about 3.5 times more than 800-foot minimum spacing guideline recently adopted in PBOT’s Citywide Pedestrian Plan

As the name suggests, this project was triggered by a new bus line added by TriMet last year. Line 74 opened in March 2018 with service every half-hour between Powell and Airport Way, opening up a vital north-south mobility option. Nearly half the funding ($700,000) for changes needed to make it safer for people to get to the bus are coming from TriMet. (The remaining $900,000 came from the State of Oregon through the Keep Oregon Moving program.)

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“Right now it isn’t a high crash corridor. The purpose of this project is to make sure it doesn’t become one.”
— Kem Marks, Rosewood Initiative

Kem Marks is the Director of Transportation Equity at Rosewood Initiative, a, “place-based nonprofit that supports community-driven solutions for a healthier neighborhood.” He shared with us via email this morning why this project is so important. Beyond the planned safety upgrades, Marks said, “I see it as PBOT being proactive. Right now it isn’t a high crash corridor. The purpose of this project is to make sure it doesn’t become one.”

While it isn’t on PBOT’s naughty list yet, things are far from hunky-dory. Between 2007 and 2016, 11 people were injured while walking, 5 people were injured while biking, 8 people were seriously injured while in a motor vehicle, and 1 person died in a motor vehicle on this stretch of 162nd.

Marks sees more population growth in the area’s future and he fears without this project there will be more injuries and deaths.

How has the neighborhood reacted to plans to reduce driving lanes? Marks says he expects some pushback as the public outreach phase of the project kicks into high gear. “People who have lived here for decades and don’t like change are generally not going to be happy at first.” But Marks is confident the plans will be carried out as proposed because he and other community organizers have been hard at work for years laying a foundation of support to give PBOT confidence to carry them through.

Adding to the benefit of this project is how it will eventually connect to PBOT’s East Glisan Street Update project, which will include a similar road diet and bike/walk upgrades between I-205 and 162nd. (Stay tuned for an update on that and more east Portland news in the days to come.)

If you want to help ensure this project becomes a reality, and/or help make it even better, attend the open house on Monday, April 29th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at The Rosewood Initiative (16126 SE Stark Street). Child care and Spanish translation services will be provided.

PBOT expects to build this project in summer or fall of next year. Learn more at the project website.

For added context, see the before-and-after animation below I put together using PBOT graphics…

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

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Route Advisory: Bridge repairs will close Springwater in two locations

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 07:57

Closures start in mid-May.
(Photo: Portland Parks & Recreation)

Portland Parks & Recreation is teeing up two projects that will lead to closures of separate sections of the Springwater Corridor path starting in the middle of May.

The closures will be between SE 45th and 55th and between Circle Avenue and 174th.

Below is the information on each project and the official detour map.

SE 45th Avenue – Bridge Replacement

Bridge #48 located near the Johnson Creek Boulevard trailhead at SE 45th Avenue and Johnson Creek Boulevard will be replaced. It is the original wooden trestle bridge from the Springwater Division Line rail developed in the early 1900s with footings in Johnson Creek. The new bridge will be constructed with steel and concrete, and its footings will allow for clearer passage of Johnson Creek, which will improve fish habitat and reduce debris accumulation. Construction is expected to start in mid-May 2019, with completion in November 2019.

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Circle Avenue – Bridge Decking Replacement

Bridge #140 spans 114 feet and crosses Johnson Creek near Circle Avenue. The western half of the bridge’s structure was replaced with steel in 2006 due to deterioration, and the timber decking was salvaged and reused. The decking has now reached the end of its service life and is presenting a hazardous condition to trail users. It is slippery, uneven, and has large gaps. The decking will be removed and replaced with asphalt. The handrail will be salvaged and reinstalled by the contractor. Construction is expected to start in mid-May 2019, with completion in six to eight weeks.

In other route news… Multnomah County has officially re-opened NW Newberry Road to all users following the repair of a 2017 landslide. The County has also re-opened NW Rocky Point Road after it was closed by landslides in recent storms. Track all our advisories here.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Yamhill Fondo, Forest Park romp, Kidical Mass, and more

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 06:58

OMTM will head to Bacona Road Sunday.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

No more fakeouts: Spring has arrived. Yes we will have more showers here and there; but temps are set for high 60s/low 70s for at least the next week, so it’s time to ride bikes!

We’ve got a great line-up of suggestions this week. It’s our first gravel double-header of the year with amazing rides Saturday and Sunday. There’s a Spanish-only bike repair clinic, a BMX movie premiere, and more.

Have fun out there…

Friday, April 19th

BikeLoudPDX April Meeting – 6:00 pm at Rogue Ales and Spirits (SE)
NW In Motion, diverters, and more. There’s a full agenda to discuss! Come and get plugged-into the local bike and transportation reform scene. More info here.

ABC Latinx Mechanix – 7:00 pm en la Community Cycling Center (NE)
El grupo de defensa basado en Cully Anando en Bicicletas y Caminando organizará esta clínica gratuita de reparación de bicicletas para hispanohablantes. More info here.

Saturday, April 20th

Oregon XC-MTB Championships – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at Left Coast Cellars (Rickreall)
Coveted champion jerseys are up for grabs in what should be a perfect day for MTB racing. This year’s course is on a winery and the race proceeds will benefit the Oak Restoration Project. More info here.

Forest Park Ride – 10:00 am at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
Expect a 24-mile adventure with an intermediate pace through Forest Park on mixed terrain (pavement and dirt roads). Note that organizers say this ride is reserved for women of color, trans and gender non-conforming people of color. More info here.

Yamhill Gravel Fondo – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in Yamhill
Everyone’s excited for this inaugural gravel event! Three routes to choose from (18-60 miles long) and some of the most beautiful unpaved roads in the region. More info here.

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Go Fast, Pull Up: The Jimmy Levan Story Film Premiere – 7:00 pm at Clinton St Theater (SE)
Portland BMX riders and fans will line up for the premiere of this ode to legendary rider, personality, and industry figure Jimmy Levan. More info here.

Sunday, April 21st

Dark Larch V3 – 9:00 am at Gresham Park & Ride (SE)
The time has come for OMTM’s excursion into the other-worldly, oft-hidden side of Larch Mountian in east Multnomah County. This unsupported group ride will test your skills, adventurous spirit, and your legs. More info here. Ride cancelled due to new logging activity on course. New plan is to do the OMTM Bacona Crossing route. Meet at Skyline Tavern parking lot at 9:00 am.

Kidical Mass Easter Ride – 11:00 am at Overlook Park (N)
If you’ve been on the fence about a family group ride, this is your big chance! Let Kidical Mass help you enjoy a safe and supportive ride from Overlook to Arbor Lodge Park for an egg hunt (helmets make great baskets) and free smiles. More info here.

Salvage Sunday at the CCC – 12:00 pm at Community Cycling Center
We just added this weekly event to our calendar. It’s a great way to get cheap parts and frames — whether you need them for a bike build, an art project, or? Take whatever you want for just 50-cents a pound! 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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Biketown will be free on Earth Day (Monday, 4/22)

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 06:12

Sun, smiles, and free Biketown? Heck yeah!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What better way to mark Earth Day than to make bike share free?

This morning the City of Portland and their Biketown partners Lyft and Nike announced that this coming Monday April 22nd, they’ll give everyone a $10.00 credit to use the system.

“We’re making it easy for Portlanders to use bikeshare by giving riders their first hour free,” said Biketown GM Dorothy Mitchell in a statement. “While this Earth Day deal is good for $10 in credit, the impact we can collectively have on our planet is priceless.”

So far this year Biketown riders have completed nearly 65,000 trips, a good number of which very likely replaced driving trips and the awful, smelly, earth-killing fossil fuels that power them.

To get your $10.00 credit and one free hour of ride time, you’ll need to get the Biketown app and enter promo code EARTHDAY19.

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

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Here’s how we make southwest Portland better for biking and walking

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 10:16

Marching orders.

If you care about making streets in southwest Portland better for biking and walking, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has just done you a huge favor.

Yesterday the bureau released the draft version of the Southwest in Motion (SWIM) plan. It’s an impressive, detailed, and easy-to-use blueprint for activism that should lead to projects on the ground in very short order (and help tee up larger projects in the future).

Modeled after similar planning documents for east and northwest Portland, the SWIM plan offers a prioritized list of projects, possible design treatments, and even identifies potential funding sources to actually get things built.

Below is a before-after of what we’ve got in southwest for biking and walking now and what PBOT has called for in this plan:

It doesn’t get as much attention as east Portland for how much it lags behind the central city in active transportation infrastructure, but if you’ve spent any time in southwest (like we did during our SW Portland Week coverage in 2015), its challenges and deficiencies for biking and walking are abundantly clear. A lack of continuous streets, hilly topography, and narrow roadways make mobility very daunting for anyone who’s not using a car.

According to U.S. Census data, 65% of southwest Portland residents drive alone to work. That’s 7 points higher than the citywide average. Another big difference from east Portland? Census tracts within the project area are also richer (median household income is $89,578 versus $61,118 citywide) and whiter (percent person of color is 15% versus 26.9% citywide).

With that bit of context, here’s why I’m excited about this plan…

Is it any good? And the “Falbo Factor”

“SWIM is a big step in the right direction.”
— Eric Wilhelm, Hillsdale resident

The PBOT project lead is one of their brightest new planners, Nick Falbo. Prior to being hired by PBOT, Falbo gained notoriety for creating protected intersections for bicycle users. While employed by Alta Planning + Design, Falbo created a nifty web tool that allowed us to experiment with Portland’s cycling mode share goal in an interesting new way.

While he’s still learning to balance the politics and public pressures that accompany groundbreaking new designs, this plan is a showcase of Falbo’s talents. I’ve seen a lot of PBOT plans over the years — and I often think they should do more building and less planning in general — but this SWIM draft is really great.

If you’re an independent activist, a neighborhood advocate, or a non-profit staffer, you now have an invaluable tool to push for changes. PBOT themselves makes this clear in the plan when they say, “Continued community advocacy for projects will be instrumental to the success of this plan… The project descriptions are designed to provide the critical information necessary for neighborhood advocacy of local priority projects. Effective advocacy with the bureau and with local elected officials will provide continued urgency to address the real infrastructure deficiencies of Southwest Portland.”

Eric Wilhelm is an active cycling activist, Hillsdale resident, and member of the Stakeholder Working Group. He wanted PBOT to go even further with road diets and transit priority lanes; but acknowledged in an email this morning that, Wilhelm feels that in addition to a focus on short-term implementation, the best part of the plan is how it tackles current gaps in the network. “We have so many places where the bike lane just ends on a street with fast and heavy traffic or there is no sidewalk to get to a transit stop,” he added.

What’s in it?

Coming soon to SW 45th.

The meat of the plan is a list of high-priority, short-term walking and biking projects. PBOT has separated them into “Top Tier” and “Second Tier”. The former are add-ons to existing routes and closing gaps, the latter are larger-scale projects that would expand the network and/or build connections to other major investments (like future SW Corridor light rail or Red Electric Trail).

PBOT has also highlighted key projects and innovative new design treatments (see below). These new designs are key because they remove excuses for PBOT to do nothing in the face of narrow streets or other challenging existing conditions.

The plan also outlines other city programs (like block parties, community plazas, and urban trails) that we can use as leverage to make changes happen.

My favorite part of the plan is when it looks into the future. PBOT points out that since 2010, almost all of the new work trips have been absorbed by modes other than driving. “Driving in Southwest has plateaued,” they write, “and the other travel options have picked up the slack.” There’s also a nifty chart that envisions that trend continuing into the future (below). The chart includes predictions that will impact transportation. In 2021, PBOT says, “Major innovations in electric micro-mobility technologies allows for wide-spread adoption. These new e-bikes allow a greater share of Southwest Portlanders to overcome barriers to cycling such as hilly terrain and longer distances.”

PBOT’s crystal ball

Design treatments

Advisory shoulders/bike lanes are common in Europe. PBOT wants to try them here.

PBOT has put some cool new treatments on the table in this plan.

Advisory shoulders (a.k.a. advisory bike lanes) have been talked about for years, but the city has yet to pull the trigger on them. These are used on slower, low-volume roads that are are “too narrow” for bike lanes. The idea is to create suggested shoulders that car drivers are allowed to venture into if necessary; but otherwise provide some safety and space for walkers and bikers. PBOT wants to find a good pilot street to test them prior to rolling them out citywide. A potential location for these is SW Fairmount or SW Hewett.

“Safer Shoulder” (below) is another new treatment in the plan. PBOT says they’d, “provide a separated place to walk on a roadway, out of the path of moving traffic.”

Notable projects

This plan calls out a bike lane gap on SW Terwilliger we profiled three years ago.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This plan doesn’t just have aspirational project lists. There are several things that could be built quickly.

PBOT says they have funding allocated for protected bike lanes on SW 35th and SW 45th avenues. On 35th, they will remove a parking lane and center turn lane to make room for protected bike lanes that connect Jackson Middle School to SW Huber Street. On SW 45th, PBOT wants to remove a parking lane and stripe bike lanes from SW Pendleton to Nevada to connect the Hayhurst neighborhood to Gabriel Park.

Another project identified in this plan is a long-awaited fix for SW 6th Avenue as it crosses I-405 and enters the central city (below). PBOT says it’d cost just $15,000 re-stripe the existing lane as it approaches SW College Street to provide a more continuous bikeway and eventually tie it into a Central City in Motion project slated for SW Jackson.

This would be a much nicer welcome to downtown via SW 6th.

How about a neighborhood greenway on SW Montgomery from downtown to Fairmount? That’s project RP-26. It would add greenway treatments on Montgomery from SW Vista to Talbot to help make a safer connection between downtown and the popular Fairmount/Council Crest Park look.

During our “Gap Week” coverage in 2016 we singled out the dropped bike lane on SW Terwilliger near 7th. I was pleasantly surprised to see this address as project BP-20. Surely we can find $150,000 to do this!

While actionable projects are great, we also need big visions. At one of their open house events, PBOT shared a poster titled, “Major Projects for Future Study”. Among the exciting projects on the list was the “Southwest Cycle Superhighway” which would be a low-stress bikeway to be built as part of the SW Corridor light rail project (below).

Future cycle superhighway in purple.

How we gonna’ pay for all this?!

PBOT says the prospects for future funding are “promising, but uncertain.” But unlike others plans, PBOT doesn’t leave southwest hanging with no dedicated funding. They list $935,000 in a mix of one-time ($185,00 for bicycle lanes, $550,000 for crossing enhancements via Fixing Our Streets program) and annual ($200,000 through their existing “quick build network completion” program) funding. Other potential sources of funds PBOT calls out in the plan include: Federal “flexible funds”, Metro’s 2020 transportation investment bond measure, Transportation System Development Charges and a new Local Transportation Improvement Charge program.

Portlanders are tired of plans. We want to build things. Hopefully this plan helps us do that faster.

Let’s take PBOT’s hint and use it to our advantage. Here’s what you need to help:

Official SWIM project page.
Draft SWIM plan. (PDF)
Draft project list. (PDF)
Public feedback survey open until May 24th
– Stay tuned for City Council adoption date.

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

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Capitol Galleria event will mark 10th birthday of Oregon Scenic Bikeways program

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 08:48

The idea was simple: Codify a network of Oregon’s best cycling routes into state law so that people could access a Cycle Oregon-like experience for free, any time.

It took about five years for the idea to materialize, with the first official public hearings in early 2008. The first one — the 135-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway — was designated in summer 2009 and today there are 17 of them scattered throughout the state.

The 1,253 miles of routes are vetted by a committee, signed, and promoted by the State of Oregon. In 2014, an independent study (commissioned by OPRD) found that people who ride Scenic Bikeways spent about $12.4 million at food, lodging and retail businesses along the routes.

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Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway
Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway
Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway
McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway
Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway
Blue Mtn Century Scenic Bikeway
Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway
Grande Tour Scenic Bikeway Old West Scenic Bikeway
Cascade-Siskiyou Scenic Bikeway
Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway
Painted Hills Scenic Bikeway
Oregon Outback Scenic Bikeway
Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway
Sherar’s Falls Scenic Bikeway
Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway

The Bikeways program is a partnership between the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Travel Oregon, and Cycle Oregon (the nonprofit whose leaders spawned the idea in 2004). It’s the first and only program of its kind in the United States.

OPRD will commemorate its 10th birthday on May 3rd with a special event at the Capitol Galleria in Salem from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The free event is open to the public and will feature cake, gifts, guest speakers and the unveiling of the brand-new scenic bikeways map.

Get inspired to ride and learn more about all 17 routes via Ride With GPS, on the official Oregon Scenic Bikeways page, or from Travel Oregon.

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

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TriMet launches new zero emission, wind-powered electric buses

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 14:22

Getting a charge at today’s launch event.
(Photos: TriMet)

TriMet and their partners launched five new all-electric buses at the Sunset Transit Center this morning. They claim to be the first transit agency in the nation to put fully wind-powered buses into regular service.

TriMet expects to have 10 electric buses on the road by summer of next year. The new rigs are part of the agency’s push to have a completely non-diesel fleet by 2040. And, with an assist from Portland General Electric, 100% of their power will be created from wind turbines.

At a press conference event today Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Transportation Policy Advisor Brendan Finn said, “One of the most daunting challenges we have in our society today is our changing climate and how we’re adapting to it. 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change are from the transportation sector; and that needs to change! Governor Brown’s administration has been laser-focused on reducing carbon emissions. Investing and expanding in transit is one of the cornerstones in the governor’s strategy, as is transportation electrification.”

Funding for four of the new buses came from a $3.4 million federal grant. PGE will own and maintain the charging equipment, a move that saved TriMet enough money to buy a fifth bus. TriMet says they’ll spend another $53 million to purchase another 80 electric buses over the next five-to-six years with funding from the State of Oregon’s Keep Oregon Moving Act.

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The first all-electric bus will start service tomorrow on Line 62 in Beaverton.

In addition to not spewing out an estimated 1.17 million tons of toxic CO2 emissions into our air, each new bus will save TriMet about $400,000 in annual fuel costs. They have a range of 80 miles per charge and can be re-charged in 30 minutes (with a fast charger) or four hours (on a standard charger).

Asked if they’d considered safety issues related to how quiet the new buses are, TriMet Media Relations and Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt told me, “We haven’t heard a concern about that and have done numerous road tests over the last several months.” Altstadt said the new buses are about 39 decibels while idling and are “much louder than a Prius”.

These new buses will only add to the momentum to dramatically improve bus service in Portland — a key part of our efforts to encourage less driving.

For more information, check out the official announcement from TriMet. And happy breathing!

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

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Meet Portland’s adventure riding ‘route master’ Ryan Francesconi

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 12:41

Ryan Francesconi at the 2018 Hell of the North Plains ride.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What makes a great cycling city?

We often think of bike-friendly policies and politicians, or bikeway miles and ridership statistics. But if you ask me, the most important part of what makes a place great for cycling is the people who live in it. Here in Portland, we’re lucky so many smart, dedicated, selfless, and inspiring bicycle lovers call this place home. Why? Because most of them share their passions with the rest of us.

Ryan Francesconi is one of the people I’m grateful for. He’s one of the leaders behind the local gravel riding revolution. He’s the chief moderator of the “Unpaved” Google Group and he (along with his friend Ron Lewis) is one of the main leaders and organizers behind the legendary Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) rides. Beyond that, he’s always quick to share his vast knowledge of routes and riding tips with everyone who asks (we shared his winter riding tips in 2017).

Sponsored by:

These companies make our gravel coverage possible.

And when I say routes, I don’t just mean he knows how to get from point-A to point-B. Ryan knows about roads and tiny trails in areas very few people ever go. He’s ridden unpaved roads up, over, and around seemingly every range of mountains in the region. I often marvel at his collection of routes and the amount of riding he does to keep them updated.

Thankfully, another one of Portland’s amazing, bike-inspired residents Dustin Klein, has captured Ryan’s route insights in a way that more people can appreciate (Dustin is a talented artist, filmmaker, rider, and creator that you need to follow).

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The latest edition of Dustin’s excellent YouTube channel goes behind the scenes to explain how Ryan builds such fun and interesting routes (watch it above). When he’s not cycling or dreaming about his next adventure, Ryan is a multi-talented musician.

Ryan’s creativity comes through in his routes. Here’s one of my favorite parts of Dustin’s interview:

“The way I think about route making is essentially creating a piece of art that anyone who creates any sort of time-based art — film, music — would relate to. You’re creating a scene for somebody to journey through. There’s a certain amount of tension, reveal, flow and ebb, reward, suffering. You are in control of those factors. I like to think of the route as the composition… Bikes are the instruments we’re using. They’re something you play.”

Ryan shares much more about how he creates routes in the video.

If you’re looking for unpaved inspiration, check out his Instagram feed @wherethepavementends and peruse his amazing collection of routes via his Ride With GPS Ambassador page.

Ryan (and friend Ron Lewis on the left) emerge from fog onto Bacona Road in Washington County.

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

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Bill that clarifies existence of bike lanes through intersections passes committee

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 10:20

The paint ends, the lanes don’t.

Despite confusion from some lawmakers that led to an unexpectedly lengthy discussion prior to the vote, House Bill 2682 passed the Joint Committee on Transportation yesterday by a tally of 7-3.

I’ve described this bill as a no-brainer; but because it involves bicycling, you just never know what some Oregon legislators will get hung up on. I was amazed at how much consternation and discussion this simple housekeeping bill received in committee yesterday.

“The attempt of this bill is to clarify longstanding practice and expectation.”
— Lindsay Baker, ODOT government relations

Let’s be clear: Since bike lanes have existed in Oregon, it has been understood — both by road users and the legal system — that they exist inside intersections even though they are not painted. Same for every other lane. Road authorities do not paint lane lines in intersections because with all the turning movements it would be a maintenance nightmare, dangerously confusing, and useless.

Out of hundreds, if not thousands, of court cases over the years, for some reason two Oregon traffic court judges — one in 2009, one in 2018 — took it upon themselves to decide that a bicycle user did not have the legal right-of-way in a collision because the lane wasn’t painted. Out of concern that these two outlier cases might start a trend, advocates proposed HB 2682. The text of the bill is short and simple.

If passed, HB 2682 would amend Oregon Revised Statute 801.155 (definition of “bicycle lane”) to read: “A bicycle lane exists in an intersection if the bicycle lane is marked on opposite sides of the intersection in the same direction of travel.”

Despite this simple clarification, three lawmakers voted against the bill yesterday: Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), Representative Lynn Findley (R-Vale), and Representative Rick Lewis (R-Silverton).

Left to right: Representatives Lynn Findley, Brad Witt, and Rick Lewis.

Rep. Witt based his opposition on what appears to be a misunderstanding of what the bill actually proposes. “I think we create an exceedingly dangerous situation,” he said, in a discussion prior to the roll being called, “by creating bicycle lanes that go through intersections” (that’s what existing law says). Rep. Witt continued, “It would be reasonable for someone to assume if they are in a marked lane they have a right-of-way. And lanes that are marked on the same side that a car may be turning, I think is a prescription for disaster… I think this bill sets us up for disastrous accidents if it allows for passing on the same side that the lane is in, and I think that bicyclists are going to assume that they have a lane and that it’s safe to be passing vehicles on the side the vehicle is turning on.”

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Rep. Lewis said he agrees with Witt, but his main concern is that the bill doesn’t include, “Some sort of traffic signal adjacent to an intersection that indicates a bike lane goes through.” Lewis is concerned that automobile users aren’t able to see all the way to the other side of an intersection and therefore won’t assume the bike lane exists. “A motorist could potentially be found liable if he turns right and hits a bicyclist and didn’t know there was a continuous bike lane on the other side because of the distance,” Lewis said.

“A motorist could potentially be found liable if he turns right and hits a bicyclist and didn’t know there was a continuous bike lane on the other side.”
— Rep. Rick Lewis

Senator Cliff Bentz (D-Ontario) also voiced confusion about existing law and what the proposed bill would do. “The question is, who has the right-of-way as you’re zipping through? If we’re merely painting a line to illustrate the existence of something already legally there, that’s one thing. If by painting the line we are creating a new set of rights, that’s another.”

This bill doesn’t “paint” anything so it’s unclear what Sen. Bentz was referring to.

At this point, Committee Vice-Chair Caddy McKeown felt the need for expert insights and called up Lindsay Baker from the Oregon Department of Transportation government relations office. Baker explained why ODOT never paints lanes through intersections and that the bill is simply to, “Clarify longstanding practice and expectations.”

Unfortunately ODOT’s Baker got one key fact very wrong in her testimony to lawmakers. She said the two decisions where judges ruled unstriped bike lanes have no legal standing were made in the Oregon Court of Appeals and as such, they set a legal precedent. That is incorrect. The two cases were decided in traffic court and no opinion was written.

Thankfully, Portland lawyer and bike law expert Ray Thomas made the trip to Salem and was in the room yesterday just in case this hearing went off the rails. Vice-Chair McKeown called him up and asked him to clarify the bill. Thomas has practiced law with a focus on cycling and traffic issues since 1979. He deftly laid out the rationale behind the bill, countered some of the concerns expressed in previous statements, and explained why this basic clarification is necessary.

After Thomas spoke, the vote was held. The bill passed 7-3. Reps. Lewis and Witt were not swayed by Thomas’ expert insights and Rep. Findley, after saying he agreed with Rep. Witt’s concerns, added a revealing reference to an unrelated bill: “Also, there’s a lot of discussion of adopting the Idaho standard for bicycling; which is, do not stop at intersections, just roll through and keep going. I think coupled with that, it compounds the situation.”

Rep. Findley was referring to Senate Bill 998 which passed committee last week. That bill would allow bicycle users to treat stop signs and flashing red signals as yields. The only connection it has to HB 2682 exists in Rep. Findley’s mind.

From here the bill goes to the full House for a vote and then it will be voted on by the Senate. Be sure to contact your state legislator and let them know how you feel about it. Stay tuned for updates.

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

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Family Biking: Join us for the annual Kidical Mass Easter Ride

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 08:40

We had such a great time last year! Let’s do it again.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Flowers are blooming, the rain feels a bit warmer, and bike shops are off their winter schedules. That means Kidical Mass PDX is back, too! Our “season” typically starts on Easter Sunday with our annual Kidical Mass PDX Easter Ride and Egg Hunt:

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Sunday, April 21, 2019
11:00 a.m.
Start: Overlook Park (1599 N Fremont St, Portland, OR 97227)
End: Arbor Lodge Park (N Delaware Ave & N Bryant St, Portland, OR 97217)
The three-mile route
Facebook event page

Like all Kidical Mass PDX rides, this one is for kids of all ages and their families. Three miles is probably best tackled with 16-inch wheels and larger, but fast balance bikers, kids on 12-inch-wheeled bikes, and kids (well one particular awesome kid) on unicycles have been known to keep pace and enjoy themselves.

This year feels very different than last year’s April Fools’ Day/Easter ride, both coming on the heels of the Youth Climate Strike and falling the day before Earth Day. Kidical Mass is lots of things, from a parade on bikes simply for the sake of having fun to a first step towards non-polluting transportation and ditching one’s car for good. Earth Day is a wonderful reason to showcase the environmentally friendly aspects of bicycling for transportation and encourage our peers to bike more and drive less.

Earth Day is a wonderful reason to showcase the environmentally friendly aspects of bicycling for transportation and encourage our peers to bike more and drive less.

Our Easter ride is always a big one, with lots of families driving their bikes over — a perfect audience to talk to about shifting travel modes. Overlook Park is right on the MAX Light Rail Yellow Line so even if it’s too far or tricky to reach by bike, one can get there multimodally (check out my tips for taking taking kids and bikes on MAX light rail).

On Sunday, we’ll take the Green Line MAX to the Yellow Line, rather than bike 10 miles. This will take about an hour, as would biking the whole way.

Beyond transportation, changes we’ve made to this year’s Easter ride include making a bigger effort to collect our plastic eggs at the end of the event. We’ll do this by announcing at the beginning of the ride and the beginning of the egg hunt that we’ll collect and reuse the plastic eggs, and I’ll have my kids help me make a fancy egg collection receptacle. My kids are used to using their bike helmets as egg collecting baskets so they’ll do that and I’ll encourage other kids to do the same.

I’d love to hear any sustainable Easter and general Earth Day tips you’ve got in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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