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How activists and students collaborate with PBOT to get real projects on the ground

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 13:42

The crosswalk, bike lanes and plaza that exist today on SW 3rd Avenue at Burnside started as astroturf and tape laid down by Better Block PDX.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Most close watchers of the Portland transportation world have heard of Better Block PDX. They’re the scrappy group of tactical urbanism activists who burst onto the scene by creating a public plaza in auto parking spaces along a block of SW Harvey Milk Street in 2013. They went on to lead successful projects on SW 3rd Avenue and Naito Parkway that led to permanent changes in our streetscape.

What you might not realize is the reason they’ve been quiet for the past few years isn’t because they’ve gone away. It’s because, instead of classic tactical urbanism that often involves rogue actions like human-protected bike lanes and the unsanctioned deployment of traffic cones to slow drivers down, they’ve been working behind-the-scenes.

“The Pathway program is an amazing opportunity in applied learning for PSU students… they get to bring ambitious ideas to life.”
— Jihane Nami PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions

The success of Better Naito unlocked a key realization for Better Block. During that project they strengthened partnerships with graduate students in Portland State University’s Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program. The aspiring engineers and planners developed detailed traffic plans and crunched data before, during, and after the project. When the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation realized the value of this work, and began to trust it, something powerful happened: Everyone involved realized the power of collaboration.

When former PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick literally jumped up-and-down with praise for Better Block’s work on Naito at its launch in 2016, it was a tangible validation of the group’s trajectory.

Former PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick was an ardent supporter of Better Block.

Better Block has spent the past three years working with PSU students to develop plans for a host of other transportation projects submitted to them by the community via their annual request for proposals. The relationship has matured into the PSU Project Pathway, a program that integrates tactical urbanism into the academic curriculum.

For the past two years, this collaboration has been supported by PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS). In addition to managing the Pathway program, ISS has funded a Better Block intern. Private engineering firms such as Nelson Nygaard and David Evans and Associates, Inc. have also played a major role.

ISS Project Manager Jihane Nami says the program is, “An amazing opportunity in applied learning for PSU students: not only do they wrestle with real-life planning, communication and engineering issues; they also get the opportunity to work alongside professionals across the city to bring ambitious ideas to life.”

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A total of nine projects have gone through the Pathway since 2014, including four of the projects that will be built in the first phase of the City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan.

Due to start construction this summer with a $25 million budget, the CCIM plan bears an indelible imprint of Better Block’s Pathway program.

Jason Nolin, a Master of Urban and Regional Planning student who worked on one of the projects, sang Better Block’s praises in a statement shared by the group. “Our team studied how to improve the pedestrian environment along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and SE Grand Ave — a challenging knot to untangle with the freight traffic, the businesses, the streetcar, the car-centric urban form, and the sheer volume of cars pushing through,” Nolin said. “Better Block’s awareness of the city and understanding of technical restraints — and opportunities! — encouraged us to come up with really clever ideas.”

Better Block volunteer Ryan Hashagen recently contacted us to share a rundown of each project and explain how the students were involved:

Project #1 – Better Burnside Bridge
During the 2016 academic year Master of Urban and Regional Planning students created a transportation plan with alternative designs for a protected bike plan and dedicated bus lane on the Burnside bridge.

Project #3 – Grand/MLK Pedestrian Project
As part of the 2018-19 Project Pathway, Planning students created a community engagement, design alternative, and an evaluation criteria plan for pedestrian, bicycle, and transit improvements along the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Grand Street couplet.

Project #5 – Better Madison Bus Lane Project
During the 2017-2018 academic year Planning and Civil Engineering students created a traffic control plan and designed street alternatives to decrease congestion on SW Madison Street between SW 5th Ave and SW 1st Ave.

Project #17 – Better Naito
During the 2015 academic year Civil Engineering students created an alternative analysis and facility design plan for a more bicycle, pedestrian, and community friendly Naito Parkway. This project was seasonally implemented during the summer of 2016 through 2018 and is being considered as a permanent project in Central City in Motion plan.

This is Portland at its finest. Where activists collaborate with academics and city staff to make real and lasting changes to our city.

And there’s a role for you to play too: If you have an idea for how to re-imagine the public right-of-way, make sure your submit a proposal to Better Block. Their current RFP closes March 8th. Who knows, maybe your project will be the next one to get built.

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

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County shares plans to address cycling safety during major road closure

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 10:52

County will install signs advising drivers to use caution around bicycle riders on roads like NW Skyline Blvd.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Last week we reported on a project that will close NW Cornelius Pass Road between Highway 30 and NW Germantown Road to through traffic for 13 weeks starting July 8th. Cornelius Pass is a major highway that connects Washington County (near Highway 26) with Scappoose and other destinations along Highway 30.

This is a big deal for bicycle riders because the project will detour thousands of people driving cars and trucks onto what are usually quiet, rural roads that happen to be on very popular cycling routes.

Concerned about safety impacts, we asked Multnomah County if they’d considered bicycle riders in their detour and outreach plans. So far the traffic plans shown on the County’s website and other materials makes no specific mention of cycling routes or cycling-related safety issues. Thankfully it now appears the County will integrate cycling-specific safety messages into their plans.

The average daily traffic volume (ADT) of the section of Cornelius Pass that will be detoured is around 13,000 driving trips. According to the County, about 13 percent of those — around 1,500 vehicles — are big-rig trucks and buses that will take an all-highway detour that won’t have a big impact on cycling. However, that still leaves about 11,500 additional car and (non-commercial) truck trips that will be using roads like NW Newberry, NW Skyline, NW Old Cornelius Pass, NW Phillips and others during the closure.

Yesterday I heard back from County spokesperson Mike Pullen about what they plan to do to address cycling conditions and make drivers aware of the presence of bicycle riders on the roads. Here’s the plan:

Signs: We will install signs on popular cycling roads near Cornelius Pass Road to alert drivers that cyclists are likely to be on the road. These roads will include Skyline, Newberry, Old Cornelius Pass Road, and probably Germantown and McNamee.

Outreach/Communication: We will be sending a mailer to a large zone in the three impacted counties, issuing news releases, project updates, social media posts and maintaining the project webpage. A key message for the public will be for all road users to share the road and be alert for increased traffic on sideroads and the presence of bicyclists. A message for recreational cyclists will be to alert them to the increased traffic we expect on specific sideroads so they can avoid the area if they choose.

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No Trucks: A big part of our safety plan is to restrict large trucks and buses from narrow sideroads where they are not permitted. We will be installing more signs to on sideroads where through trucks are banned (such as Newberry and Logie Trail Roads) and working with the Sheriff’s Office to enforce the restriction and cite truck drivers who violate the bans.

Some members of the County’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee thought speed bumps on NW Newberry (the main detour route and favorite climb of many riders) would be a good idea. Pullen said they reviewed that idea; but because driving speeds are expected to already be slow due to the increase in traffic volume. “Installing speed humps on a steep, curving rural road is not warranted, according to our engineer,” Pullen said. He also shared that a temporary traffic signal will be installed on Highway 30 at NW Newberry.

Another idea floated by people concerned about cycling safety was to create special pullouts in shoulders. “In practice, it’s hard to do this,” Pullen shared in an email yesterday. “Bicyclists will tend to find a wide spot in the road or a driveway if they need to get out of traffic in an area where roads are narrow.”

So as of now, beyond the signal at Newberry and Highway 30, there’s no hard infrastructure planned to help mitigate safety concerns related to this project detour. The focus from the County is signs, outreach and enforcement.

Once the detour starts in July we’ll monitor the situation closely. I ride these roads a lot myself, but please get in touch if you have feedback or experiences to share.

More info: Cornelius Pass Road Safety Improvements project page and traffic plan.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Bikepacking clinics, Filmed by Bike launch, and more

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 09:27

If photos like this make your heart beat a bit faster, you should check out one of the upcoming adventure riding events. (This photo is the Coquille River in Parkersburg just east of Bandon.)
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

One of the best things about our community is how people share what they know.

Over the next three days there are three events on our calendar that will get you inspired and educated about adventure riding – from regional touring to epic bikepacking trips. It starts with a Bikepacking 101 clinic tonight (Thursday, 2/28) at the Beaverton Bike Gallery.

Yes it’s cold and a challenging time to ride for some people, but our bike scene never stops! Check out our weekly event picks below…

Friday, March 1st

Rad! Movie Night – 5:30 pm at Breadwinner Cafe (N)
Free popcorn, cheap beer and the classic 1986 BMX flick shown at a place where bicycles are made and bicycle dreams come true. More info here.

Filmed by Bike Launch Party – 6:00 pm at NW Documentary (NW)
Time to get amped up for the 17th annual film fest that puts cycling front-and-center. We hear the movies this year break new ground and are not to be missed. Get the inside line on tickets, screenings, and be the first to see the always-fun promo trailer! More info here.

Saturday, March 2nd

First Timer’s Ride – 10:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
New to riding or just looking for a sociable spin through the city? This is the ride for you. More info here.

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Bicycle Touring Workshop – 10:30 am at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
The inimitable Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League will share his vast understanding of loaded bicycle trips for a very reasonable price of $15. Only a few spots remain so make sure to sign up before you show up! More info here.

Civil Unrest Bicycle Club Monthly Ride – 1:00 pm at Salmon Street Fountain (SW)
Join this merry band of cycling and disability rights activists on their monthly ride. More info here.

Bikepacking & Beers – The Oregon Timber Trail and Baja Divide – 6:00 pm at Cyclepath PDX (NE)
If you seek inspiration for your spring and summer adventures, come hang out with West Coast Women’s Cycling club for a night full of tips and recollections from great rides. Also a great chance to see one of the city’s best bike shops! More info here.

Sunday, March 3rd

Slow Poke Ride – 10:00 am at Lents Park (SE)
Portland Wheelmen Touring Club-led ride that will venture to the Springwater path and roll to Boring with a stop at a bagel place. Expect about 25 miles. 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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Family Biking Column: My recap of the Worst Day of the Year Ride

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:55

Cargo trailers make for easy decorating, and easy carrying of three kids and three bikes (one had a flat tire, two were tired).
(Photo: Jen Regan)

After having such a great time last year celebrating a friend’s 8th birthday on the Worst Day of the Year Ride, we had to do it again! In fact, it was so fun that our friend rescheduled his birthday by two weeks to work around the rescheduling of the event — that’s dedication!

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I highly recommend this ride for families with even the littlest kids. Kids 12 and under are free and early registration for those over 12 is $12.50. The Family Route ride is four miles and took us an hour and 14 minutes including a fun rest stop (41 minutes moving time). The covered tent at the start/finish has plenty of space and several heat lamps. And the food is plentiful and good for picky kids.

The date change (postponed two weeks due to unsafe icy roads) wasn’t convenient for everyone, and the ride seemed to draw fewer people than last year, but I’m so glad the event wasn’t canceled outright. Also, since we do the Family Route which starts two hours after the Challenge Route, we don’t get to see the start crowd in all its glory.

Plenty of room to gather in the closed streets.

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The bountiful breakfast spread.

Lots of coffee, before and after the ride.

Souvenirs.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Breakfast
In the interest of keeping the kids from getting too cold, we don’t arrive too early, but we did give ourselves time to hit the breakfast spread. We enjoyed muffins (blueberry, poppyseed, and chocolate), bagels, bananas, cereal, coffee, and hot chocolate. This was all in the same tent as check-in and day-of registration making it easy to take care of business before hitting the course.

Worst Day event staff is the best, thanks Greg!

Things only seemed mildly discombobulated given the date change, but everything still worked out just fine. We saw a small group of Family Route participants gathered in the street when we arrived, but it was well before 10:45 a.m. so we didn’t join them out in the cold. Unfortunately, the Family Route ride marshal (just one this year, whereas there were several to stick with various clumps of riders last year) escorted them onto the course early so we didn’t get an escort this year. Granted, before last year’s Worst Day of the Year Ride, I’ve never been on a ride with a volunteer leading the way so it’s not something I expect, but it was really nice! The discombobulation got a little worse after that when event staffer Greg wasn’t sure if the Family Route was signed of not (it was!) but he gave us great instructions and helped me find the Ride with GPS route so we didn’t have to worry about falling off the course.

The course was very well marked with yellow arrows.

Halfway through our small ride, we joined routes with the 15-mile Urban Route so that made for a more exciting course, suddenly seeing more bikes on the road. We Family Route riders pulled off for a kid-friendly rest stop while the Urban Route riders were motivated to push on at the TWO MILES TO GO sign.

Rest stop helmet and handlebar decoration station.

Rest stop snow station was very popular.

Rest stop cookies smothered in whipped cream, cherries, and chocolate station.

Rest stop
The rest stop was staffed by lovely Benson Polytechnic High School Dance Team students and parents who helped the kids decorate helmets and handlebars, play with artificial snow, and make cookie sundaes. A four-mile route probably doesn’t need a rest stop and we didn’t know to expect one last year, but it’s such a great touch!

Lunch!

Lunch
Vegan chili, tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, chips, and cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter) were provided in a tent in the street next to the breakfast/registration tent which was now set up for eating and merchandise shopping. The heat lamps were still on and much appreciated.

The photo booth was very fun.

Photo booth
A very professional photo booth set up against the back of Lucky Lab Brew Pub was one of the kids’ favorite things. They were invited to pose for and print as many photos as they wanted, but we moms capped it at two.

The most amazing costume I saw!

Costume contest all-stars.

Costume contest
We didn’t enter the costume contest this year, but I love admiring all the costumes! We were “biking birthday party” again, and this year I brought my new cargo trailer rather than my cargo bike and it proved a great base for balloons, streams, and piñata.

The birthday boy won the race to the finish.

Pixie was in a party dress under her blankie.

Not everyone wears a costume, but we saw some great ones like Han Solo and Chewbacca on a tandem bike, Smokey and the Bandit, and dandelions (achoo!).

Were you there? Will go you next year? What would you suggest as a group costume assuming we branch out next time? 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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Rock Creek Cyclery is a new hub for bike lovers in Hillsboro

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:00

Martín Acosta inside the new space.
(Photos: Naomi Fast)

Naomi Fast is our Washington County correspondent.

Not everyone believes in the oft-quoted movie mantra, “If you build it, they will come.” But out in Hillsboro, the adage holds true — and not just for Hillsboro Hops baseball.

Less than two years after I wrote about a new separated bikeway that parallels Cornelius Pass Road between Cornell and Highway 26, a new bike shop has moved in less than a mile away: Rock Creek Cyclery.

Co-owners Martín Acosta and Dorothy Schweitzer.
(Photo: Rock Creek Cyclery on Facebook)

The shop is owned and managed by Martín Acosta and Dorothy Schweitzer, who formerly ran Bethany Bike Repair in the northeastern corner of unincorporated Washington County. They moved to Hillsboro after outgrowing their small space in Bethany Village and are now settled in to a space four times the size at 21420 NE Nicholas Court (about 1,000 feet from the Rock Creek Trail). The new location is a warehouse with 1,400 square feet of space where they offer a growing set of services, from bicycle tune-ups and maintenance clinics, to indoor bike training.

Dorothy said they’ve heard from many of their Bethany customers that they miss having a shop so close. “Luckily, we were able to communicate our move to most of our customers, and we’ve had many of them visit us in our new location,” she said. “We’re happy to be in Hillsboro because this area has a lot of young professionals and cyclists like ourselves. We also feel welcomed in the community already thanks to the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. We let Hillsboro know we were coming, and they welcomed us with open arms.”

The shop’s grand opening celebration was last November 17th. Their new neighbors, Vertigo Brewery, pitched in for the party with dollar-off pints.

I went to check out the new shop location on a recent rainy Wednesday. I arrived at the Rock Creek Industrial Center by way of Cornelius Pass. After biking down a couple wrong driveways, I pulled out my phone to see if I was lost, but then spotted the shop’s handwritten sign. Martín, who was outside the shop at that moment, saw me on my bike and waved. It turned out to be Martín & Dorothy’s day off, but they happened to be there and welcomed me in to take a look. What a great space! I was immediately drawn to the feel of the shop. There’s floor space to work on bikes, a bona fide artist’s loft, a comfy couch, and a pair of adorable “shop dogs,” Sadie and Tanner (below), who have their own electric blanket to stay warm on cold February days.

A comfy place to chill (for humans and dogs).
(Photo: Rock Creek Cyclery on Facebook)

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“I’m interested in educating our customers about the difference in quality between bikes as well as engaging more new or renewed cyclists like myself.”
— Dorothy Schweitzer, co-owner

Dorothy, whose background is in business administration and management, does much of the shop’s marketing, including through their website and social media accounts. “I’ve always loved working for small businesses and connecting with customers. I also love to make art with used bike parts,” she said. Dorothy considers herself more of a casual cyclist. “I had a department store bike in my early 20s that made me think cycling wasn’t for me. After Martín got me a real bike, I fell back in love with it. Because of this, I’m interested in educating our customers about the difference in quality between bikes as well as engaging more new or renewed cyclists like myself.”

Martín, the shop’s master mechanic, is a racer who comes from a cycling family. “I was fixing bikes by the age of 10,” he said. “I worked in bike shops starting in high school, and cycling helped me to lead a healthier lifestyle. I started getting into racing and realized that it was my passion. I moved into a different part of the cycling industry working for TRP brakes, helping to develop disc brakes in the early stages for road bikes. I then became a personal trainer before opening up our shop in Bethany. I love health and fitness and cycling, and helping others to ride more.”

The aptly named Rock Creek Cyclery is right on the Rock Creek Trail, which Dorothy said they’ve used to lead several beginner group rides. “The Rock Creek Trail is a beautiful trail to ride from the shop to north of 26,” she said.

With that in mind, Rock Creek Cyclery offers beginner group rides on Saturday mornings during the warmer months. The rides are open to anyone and their purpose is to encourage people to ride and discover new routes and trails.

“We had these beginner rides at our old shop, and they helped people to get more comfortable with riding on the road, in the trails and through the neighborhood. We also have a Sunday morning ride even in cold weather (but not every single week) for the racing community. This ride is focused on training for racing, whether it’s sprints, climbs, or endurance training. We train for the season ahead, doing more road rides in the spring and train for cyclocross in the late summer,” they told me.

Bike shops are an essential part of a city’s bicycle infrastructure. We’re lucky to have Rock Creek Cyclery on the west side. Drop in and say “hi” next time you’re in the area.

You can follow the shop on Facebook, Instagram, or on their website.

— Naomi Fast, Ms. Fast on Twitter

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Want safer cycling on Skyline and Sauvie? Let the County know

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 11:22

Roads like NW Skyline Blvd and Cornell are on the list for wider paved shoulders and other measures aimed at making cycling safer.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It just so happens that many of the roads managed by Multnomah County are vital links in the cycling network: Sauvie Island Road, Larch Mountain Road, Skyline Road, Cornell, Marine Drive, Historic Columbia River Highway, and so on.

We don’t talk about them as much as urban infrastructure and commuting routes, but that makes them no less important. And now, as part of an update to their 20-Year Road Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), the County needs to hear from you how to prioritize future projects and funding. An online open house is now available and comments can be made through March 4th.


(From a summary of feedback about the Roads CIP prepared by Multnomah County )

The good news is, the County has already heard loud and clear that safety in general — and especially conditions for people on foot and on bikes — should be the top priority. In a recent survey, over half of all comments received mentioned bicycling and walking. When asked roads with “problem spots,” 56 different roads were mentioned. Skyline Boulevard was at the top with 38 mentions. The County summarized concerns on Skyline as it being, “Too narrow for motor and non-motor users to safely mix. Speeds too high. Poor sight lines at intersections.” All of those concerns are directly related to cycling safety. Cornell Road, another popular biking route that heads into the hills directly from downtown Portland, was also mentioned as being too narrow for bicycle and car users to safely mix.

When given a list of 15 priorities and asked which ones the County should focus on, “preventing collisions” received the most support. It was followed very closely by “Make it safer to walk and bike.” At the bottom of the list? “Increase capacity” (see above).

And what’s even more interesting about the feedback the County has heard thus far is that out of over 200 respondents at open houses is that 123 of them said their primary mode of transportation is a car.

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To make bicycling safer on their roads, current projects on the CIP list would take a variety of steps including: widen and pave shoulders where possible, build uphill climbing lanes, create more pullouts to improve passing safety, and even full-length bike lanes where none currently exist.

Here are just a few examples of projects listed on the CIP that have significant cycling elements:

Larch Mountain Road (Project 135R)
Provide separation for bicycles where warranted and/or feasible. Improvements could include narrow shoulders to full width shoulders (6 feet) in one or both directions or could include minimal improvements such as uphill bicycle climbing lanes. Project may also include safety improvements such as additional guardrail.

Forest Park/SW Hills (Project 513U)
Construct bicycle lanes on streets within the Forest Park/SW Hills unincorporated urban pocket. Road segments include: Hewitt Blvd: Humphrey Blvd–5200 W of Patton Rd; Humphrey Blvd: Patton Rd–Hewitt Blvd; Patton Rd: Scholls Ferry Rd–Hewitt Ave, Shattuck Rd: Patton Rd–Windsor Ct; and NW Miller Ave.

Hurlburt Road: Historic Columbia River Highway – Littlepaige Road (Project 131R)
Provide separation for bicycles where warranted and/or feasible on SE Hurlburt Road between Historic Columbia River Highway and SE Littlepaige Road. Improvements could include narrow shoulders (3-4 feet) to full width shoulders (6 feet) in one or both directions or could include minimal improvements such as uphill bicycle climbing lanes or intermittent bicycle pull outs. Solutions can be used for pedestrian use (i.e., shoulders).

Skyline Blvd (Project 166R)
Provide safety improvements along NW Skyline Boulevard between the City of Portland boundary and NW Cornelius Pass Road, such as augmenting shoulders in a context‐sensitive manner and providing enhanced shoulder bikeways. Project also includes installing traffic calming devices to reduce speeds to be consistent with recommendations of future speed zone study.

Springville Road (Project 170R)
Provide safety improvements on NW Springville Road between the City of Portland limits and the Washington County line such as augmenting shoulders in a context-sensitive manner and providing shoulder bikeways. Project must also be consistent with on-street bike/ped option in the Westside Trail Master Plan.

Cornell Rd (Project 113R)
For NW Cornell Road, provide separation for bicycles where warranted and/or feasible. Improvements could include narrow shoulders (3-4 feet) to full width shoulders (6 feet) in one or both directions or could include minimal improvements such as uphill bicycle climbing lanes or intermittent bicycle pull outs. Solutions can be used for pedestrian use (i.e., shoulders).

Sauvie Island Loop Roads (Project 163R)
Provide 3-4 foot paved shoulders on NW Reeder Road, NW Sauvie Island Road, and NW Gillihan Road.

I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to go through the online open house to help the County understand why these projects are important to you. Deadline for input is March 4th!

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

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PBOT will form 18-member ‘working group’ for Central City in Motion plan

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 16:07

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is forming an official advisory body to oversee implementation of the Central City in Motion plan. That plan includes 18 “transformative” projects aimed at improving the efficiency and safety of key central city corridors. Among the changes will be transit lanes, protected bike lanes, updated crossings, and more. Taken together, the projects represent the most ambitious re-thinking of roadway space in decades.

Suffice it to say, there’s a lot riding on this effort. Perhaps that’s why PBOT has taken this step of convening a formal Working Group. According to the announcement released today by the Office of Community & Civic Life, the group will be an official city advisory body and will, “offer strategic advice to help the project team successfully implement projects.

Specifically, members of the group will:

Provide input on priorities for project design and construction
Connect the project team with key stakeholders and community representatives and identify opportunities for public engagement on project design
Identify opportunities for the private sector to leverage public investments
Monitor project delivery
Evaluate project performance


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PBOT will be especially interested in your application if:

You have an interest in Portland’s transportation system in the Central City
You have an expertise or interest with the design of transportation projects, particularly transit-priority, bikeway, and pedestrian safety improvements
You believe in the value of public participation in government process
You are an advocate for racial equity
You are available to attend all meetings and participate in the discussions
You are a problem-solver and big-picture thinker, willing to help PBOT evaluate project designs, weigh trade-offs, resolve conflicts, and move forward with implementing projects in a timely manner
You bring unique perspectives and can offer input on specific issues while considering the good of the Central City as a whole

The group will meet quarterly for two years. Applications are due March 21st. You can view the official application and all eligibility requirements here.

Phase One projects (1-5 years) in red. Phase Two projects (6-10 years) in blue. So far, PBOT only has about $25 million of the $35 million they need to build the first phase of projects.

This working group is an interesting development. I don’t recall us having a similar working group for other implementation plans. This plan already had a lengthy public outreach process that included a “Sounding Board” advisory committee to vet the projects. The implementation plan passed council with a 3-0 vote. Typically we’d move forward with construction and each project would go through its standard design/outreach phase prior to construction.

Speaking of construction, PBOT Capital Projects, Assets and Maintenance Communications Coordinator Hannah Schafer shared with me today that three projects will begin construction this summer. Details are still being worked out but Schafer says the projects will be a partnership with TriMet and Multnomah County and will focus on improving capacity on the Hawthorne, Burnside and Steel bridges. Stay tuned for more information in April.

It’s not clear to what extent this new Working Group will influence the final projects.

What is clear is that is there will be strong representation from groups like the Central Eastside Industrial Council and the Portland Business Alliance on this Working Group — both of whom will be eager to join and do whatever they can to weaken the projects and make sure PBOT does not constrain automobile parking or driving convenience. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the CEIC and PBA who encouraged PBOT to create this committee in the first place.)

That should be all the encouragement you need to apply. Here’s that link to the application one more time\.

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

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Carfree travel with kids: Taking the family around L.A. by transit

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 15:16

Taking light rail to the beach was a blast.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

It’s easy to survive winter in the Pacific Northwest. Just escape to somewhere warm and sunny for one week in November and one week in February — or so I was instructed by a wise friend upon moving here.

It sounds like a lovely method, but until this winter I was never able to put it off.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

My father and brother both live in Los Angeles. I’ve long wanted to visit them in the the City of Autos (not an official nickname) without renting a car ever since I read this New York Times piece seven years ago. Prior to reading that I didn’t think a carfree visit to Los Angeles was within the realm of possibility. I love getting all around Portland without a car, and realize this is one of the best American cities in which to do so. Yet I find it easy to fall into the trap of thinking cars are essential in other cities — especially if we’re there for just a short visit sans bikes and sans family biking friends to lead us around.

But, as you can read all about below, it turns out it was much easier than I’d expected to get around L.A. without a car!

Let me first acknowledge it took us a while to get here: Three visits ago we rented a car, but stayed walking distance from one of our main planned destinations (La Brea Tar Pits). Two visits ago we rented a car and stayed in walkable Venice Beach, but still drove our rental car every day for various outside-of-Venice activities and family visits. And last winter we had a true transit-based carfree Los Angeles visit and it was magical!

This year the kids’ legs are that much longer and I was that much more prepared to get around by transit. While I hardly feel like an expert, I hope our experience will help inspire others to try travel to LA and other cities with transit systems sans car, too. And note: I’ve visited Los Angeles several times, but I’ve never lived there so I don’t have a huge advantage over any other visitor. Here are my tips and takeaways…

Stay close to transit
Staying in the same neighborhood as relatives is convenient, but staying in a walkable neighborhood along the same transit line can be even better. I chose Old Pasadena because it’s along the LA Metro light rail Gold Line, four stops away from my brother in Highland Park. I prefer rail to bus since trains tend to run more frequently, always stop at all the clearly-marked stops, and are immune to car traffic. But finding walkable neighborhoods a simple bus ride away from a frequent destination is also a winner for a transit-based vacation.

The TAP machines give change in coins (fun!), but paying online is very easy.

Easy transit payments
Being able to easily pay for train and bus trips makes things a lot smoother than needing to pay for tickets each trip, like I did last visit. I still had our Transit Access Pass (TAP) cards from last year (though I could have ordered fresh with 10-15 business days to wait) and used the website to add stored values to our three cards. Nearly all transit agencies in Los Angeles County — plus Metro Bike Share — use TAP so it was just as easy as using transit at home (we take the bus or MAX about once a month in Portland and I purchase tickets ahead of time on my smartphone with the TriMet Tickets app).

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Apps for riding
I use Google maps transit directions for trip planning, even when I’m using my phone while out and about as it’s what I’m most comfortable with, but for this trip it didn’t warn me of rail closures and bus stops closed for construction. I downloaded the Go Metro app halfway through the trip, but didn’t use it enough to get used to it and find it easier than my familiar, if fallible, Google maps system. I also have the Transit app on my smart phone per the suggestion of car-free-traveler-extraordinaire Jessica Roberts, but again, practice makes perfect and I never use it so I didn’t find it helpful for advance notice of transit changes. I’d love to hear any of your transit app tips and recommendations in the comments below.

Looking at a screen and looking at the view: two ways to pass the time on the train.

Our five-day trip was punctuated by missteps each day, but it was still awesome. Here’s a day-by-day recap:

Day 1: The day our flight was canceled (Friday, December 14)
Leaving Portland our bus-to-Green-Line-to-Red-Line voyage to PDX was smooth, but upon check-in we learned our flight had just canceled. The next LAX flight with available seats wasn’t for seven hours, but as luck would have it there was a flight to Burbank at our original flight time with room for three more passengers. It was just a lucky break that I asked at the ticket counter about Burbank — my brother texted me earlier in the day curious if we were flying to LAX or Burbank which tipped me off that Burbank must also be close to Highland Park/Old Pasadena. It turns out it’s even closer, but flights cost more than to LAX so we’ve never flown there. However, this meant I needed to figure out transit from Burbank on the fly. I’m used to having lots of times to poke around online at home and I like to make detailed lists before going anywhere. However, I was extremely glad not to add seven hours to our travel day so I embraced the adventure. Since we had arrived to the airport two hours early, I had time to find and read the Hollywood Burbank Airport Buses & Trains page and learn about the free shuttle to a Metrolink station. Using the shuttle and the Metrolink regional train to Union Station was quicker, cheaper, and more comfortable than our original plan of taking the FlyAway Bus from LAX to Union Station. From there we grabbed the Gold Line to my brother’s house for dinner, sticking to our original plan and timing.

Day 2: Gold Line track closure (Saturday, December 15)
Taking light rail trains everywhere is great…until there are disruptions. The Gold Line tracks were closed for three stops’ worth and the incredibly long courtesy bus bypass helped me appreciate just how effective rail is. There wasn’t much car traffic and taking surface streets provided a pleasant change of scenery, but it took forever to get downtown.

Angel’s Flight for when transit is the destination, not only the mode of transportation.

We met my family (dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew who all also took transit over) to explore very walkable Little Tokyo. After we tired out the young relatives we walked a short distance to meet up with car-free friends from San Francisco conveniently visiting LA at the same time. They were staying downtown and were able to get most places with short bus rides. Naturally, we had to ride a cable car together for a dose of SF in LA — the Angel’s Flight Railway funicular can be paid for (and is half the price) with TAP cards.

That, the Last Bookstore, and ice cream in black cones (rock on!) kept us out late enough that the Gold Line tracks were back open by the time we TAPped our way back to Old Pasadena, thank goodness.

I saw several people with their own e-scooters.

Day 3: The last-mile problem (Sunday, December 16)
Walking a few blocks to the light rail station, playgrounds, and lunch spots is a breeze, but when the destination is a mile away things get tricky. My kids can walk a mile, but we’re not big walkers since we usually have our bikes for going that distance. My niece’s Nutcracker performance was held in Pasadena, a bit more than a mile from our hotel, so we took a Pasadena Transit bus (which takes TAP, of course) to attend. For those 16 and older bike- and e-scooter share are perfect solutions for these sorts of trips, but Pasadena booted bike share after one year and e-scooter share isn’t there, either. I saw a lot of people biking around Pasadena, mostly on the sidewalk. I also saw several people all around LA with their own electric scooters.

Lots of Angelenos get around by transit plus bikes.

Day 3: Getting around with a pulled back muscle (Monday, December 17)
Carrying all our daytime stuff (snacks, water bottles, emergency Madlibs) in my messenger bag and sleeping on a hotel sofa bed left my back aching by the morning of day three. I recruited the kids to do all the carrying between their two backpacks so I fared well for our day of travel. Going forward I’ll stop being the only packhorse in the family as a preventative measure. Also, the kids (9 and 11) are able to carry more, walk more, and go longer between eating than I had given them credit for.

7th Street/Metro Center.

This day’s main excursion was a big one, to La Brea Tar Pits to meet our San Francisco friends. We took the Gold Line to the Purple Line to a bus while they took a bus. Our Purple Line train was stinky and their bus was stinky so we were both happy to be out in the [slightly-asphalt-scented] fresh air.

A few construction spots on Wilshire Blvd had made it difficult to find our bus stop upon exiting the Purple Line on the way over as well as getting back on the bus upon leaving. Another reason for me to familiarize myself with a real-time transit app before our next trip, though missing a bus while orienting ourselves wasn’t the end of the world.

Three different bike shares in Santa Monica!

Lovely walking paths at Union Station.

Day 4: Unable to TAP for bikes (Tuesday, December 18)
Beach day! The Expo Line is pretty new, very fast, and a great way to get to Santa Monica. We took the Gold Line to the Red Line to the Expo Line for a day of beach, boardwalk, and aquarium. To break up the travel a bit, we had lunch at Union Station. It’s a gorgeous station (or stations, plural, as you’ve probably seen it play a number of different train stations on the big and small screen) so it’s nice to break up travel by stopping at the Crepe Cafe in the Grand Waiting Room at the west end, watching the fish in the aquarium in the east lobby, or exploring the paths outside.

Protected bike lanes to the beach.

I’ve been to Santa Monica several times, though it’s been a while — our most recent visit included joining a Kidical Mass ride with Santa Monica Spoke five years ago (to which we traveled by rental car and borrowed a bike). Things have changed! We stepped off the train to see three (three!) different kinds of bike share bikes, several brands of e-scooter shares, and a protected bike lane connecting the train station to the beach. I was so excited I tried my TAP card on a Metro Bike, but it didn’t take (turns out I should have registered for bike share online ahead of time). I had entertained the idea of putting us all on bikes, then downgraded to an idea of two bikes and one e-scooter, then one bike/one e-scooter/one jogger, but in the end we walked the three short blocks to the Santa Monica Pier.

Sweltering at the bus stop.

Day 6: Stuck in traffic (Wednesday, December 19)
On our last day in LA as we met up with my dad and took the Gold Line to Highland Park and then the DASH bus to a park near my brother’s house that was a bit too far (and too up and over a hill) to walk. My father warned me the DASH bus doesn’t stick to much of a schedule and we had quite the wait stuck out in the relentless sun. There’s another thing I prefer about light rail over bus — there’s usually shade at the station. Heading back the other direction provided us some shade (but also a longer-than-expected wait) so that was a bit better.

Waiting for the FlyAway Bus with a gazillion other travelers.

I thought I had learned from our last visit to give extra time (a lot more than the suggestion to arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time) for the FlyAway Bus, but we arrived only 20 minutes early for the 5:00 p.m. bus which would get us to LAX just 10 minutes shy of two hours before our flight. The previous (4:30 p.m.) bus was stuck in traffic and hadn’t even arrived yet, but it was sold out. In the end our bus left 25 minutes late and took 75 minutes (estimated travel time is 35 minutes) to get to the airport. We still had plenty of time, but next time I’ll really know better. Or maybe next time I’ll consider my dad’s helpful back-up-plan suggestion to take the Red Line to the Blue Line to the Green Line to a free shuttle to LAX. He cautioned the Blue Line is extremely slow to begin with, plus you have to travel a third of the way to Long Beach to do this. It’s nice to have access to a local with insider (and opinionated) knowledge of transit. He also coached me about sitting at the fronts or backs of various trains for easy transfers and station exits.

Tired on transit is better than frustrated in a car in my book.

It was a bit of a shame that our trip had no bicycling whatsoever, but walking and transit-taking are the next best thing.

What about you? Have you traveled solo or with kids and taken transit? Are you currently planning winter or spring break travel and will you be able to skip using a car for some or all of it?

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

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

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From Portland to the summit of Mt. Hood and back, by bike (and boot and ski)

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 10:21

JT Lehman in good spirits en route to Timberline Lodge.
(Photos: Andy Edick)

Have you ever been on a bike ride in Portland on a clear day, then looked east to see the magnificent snowy peak of Mt. Hood? Now imagine riding to the mountain, hiking to the summit, skiing back down, then riding home — all under 24 hours.

That was the audacious plan hatched by friends Andy Edick and JT Lehman on a spring day in May of last year. Now in their 30s, the pair ran cross-country together at University of Portland and they’re no strangers to cycling, skiing and mountaineering. Those skills would all come in handy on their 24-hour Mt. Hood-by-bike-and-ski adventure.

“We’d always kind of joked about doing it,” Edick shared on the phone with me this morning. “And when the window opened up, we finally decided if we’re ever going to do it, this is it.”

The “it” is a biking, hiking, and skiing adventure that would take them from the Willamette River to the summit of Mt. Hood — and back — before the earth made one rotation.

Getting the gear sorted.

Edick’s trusty Salsa Warbird was up for the task.

Edick and Lehman grabbed some climbing gear and their skis, strapped it all to their bicycles, and headed out around 4:30 pm on a Tuesday. They kept their ride simple and direct by taking the Springwater Corridor as far as possible, then connecting to Highway 26 to get up to Timberline Lodge. “It was a long slog getting up to Timberline,” Edick recalled. After a stop for snacks at a store in Rhododendron, they rode the rest of the way up to the lodge in darkness. Edick said he was initially worried about the safety of riding the highway, but with the wide and relatively gravel-free shoulder, he said it felt much safer than expected.

They reached Timberline Lodge around midnight, after grinding up the final grade in their easiest gears. Once their bikes were parked, they hung out, ate some food, and took a nap on their sleeping pads for a few hours.

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They started for the summit around 6:30 am and made it to the top around 11:00. Once clicked into their skis (Edick was using a splitboard), they carved back to the parking lot in a mere 30 minutes or so (not before Edick had a scary slide across an ice field, a sign of how tired his legs were). Eager to keep descending, they re-packed their bikes and began the downhill roll at about 1:00 pm.

During lunch in Rhododendron, Edick said they doubted they could make the 24-hour time limit they’d challenged themselves with. But after a beer and food, they felt recharged. “We realized it’s possible to get back in 24 hours, so we powered the rest of the way.” 40 miles of pedaling was all that remained.

Drafting behind each other for maximum speed and efficiency — and with encouraging cheers from passersby who realized what they were doing — Edick and Lehman reached Portland and the Willamette River in 23 hours and 50 minutes. After a quick swim off the Eastbank Esplanade, they posed for a photo to mark their accomplishment.

23 hours, 50 minutes!

Would you do it again? I asked Edick. “I would love to… Get a couple more people and get a small crew up there. It was such a fun experience.”

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

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North Fessenden and 82nd claimed more victims last night

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:20

Another person was seriously injured on N Fessenden last night.

At first I thought the Portland Police Bureau sent out a duplicate statement by mistake. Then upon closer inspection of the emails, I realized there really were two traffic collisions that caused serious injury to someone walking within just a few hours on Sunday night.

Both the collisions happened in places that are absolutely unsurprising to everyone who follows safe streets advocacy in this town: Northeast 82nd and North Fessenden.

North Fessenden is in crisis. Since November 2017 there have been two serious injuries and one death within a short, 0.58 mile stretch. It’s a location local residents and advocates have been clamoring for help with for many years. Thankfully, the City of Portland has finally started construction on their St. Johns Truck Strategy Phase 2 project which will bring much-needed safety upgrades to Fessenden.

The latest glaring example of why this project is long overdue happened Sunday evening around 9:51 pm. According to the Portland Police Bureau, a man was “struck by a car” in the 7500 block of Fessenden and is currently in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. We hope to hear more about the man’s current condition soon.

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Southbound 82nd at Jonesmore.

The other collision happened around 6:00 pm when officers responded to NE 82nd and Jonesmore. This is a section of 82nd made infamous by “The Wall” ODOT erected in 2010 to prevent people from running across the street to a transit center. It’s unclear what caused Sunday’s crash. So far the PPB have only said the victim is a female who was walking in the southbound lanes prior to being struck. UPDATE: KATU reports that the 16-year old is clinging to life.

Jonesmore and 82nd was the site of a fatal crash in October 2017 when 58-year-old Charles Bergeron was struck and killed by a drunk, distracted driver as he tried to cross the street.

Police are looking for leads on both these crashes. If you saw or know anything, please let them know via the non-emergency line, (503) 823-3333.

And keep your fingers crossed that both of these victims pull through.

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

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City releases final plans for Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway project

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 15:37

Design for Tillamook and 21st has changed to make the bike route more direct.

The City of Portland plans to get started on $150,000 worth of changes to NE Tillamook Street this spring. If all goes according to plan, this major east-west bike route will be much less inviting for car users and much more inviting for bicycle users between Flint and 28th.

Since we last posted about this project in July of last year, PBOT has gathered feedback and worked out final kinks of the design. The final plans still 23 new speed bumps: 20 on Tillamook and three aimed at slowing drivers down near the crossings of Flint and 7th.

Other notable elements of this project will include (latest plans below):

– Marked crossings at the off-set intersection with NE 7th Avenue. PBOT also plans to install speed bumps north and south of Tillamook.

– Green colored bike boxes in both directions at Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Also shown in the new plans are multiple chevron markings (partial sharrow, without the bike) to aid in crossing by bike. We’ve also noticed PBOT will reduce the amount of on-street parking removal on the southwest side of the intersection from 80-feet (as shown in July) to 50-feet.

– PBOT plans to test diversion between MLK and Williams. Depending on how traffic data comes back (PBOT has to wait until a major sewer project wraps up in order to accurately assess volumes), the plan is to create a one-way only westbound at Rodney with 50-feet of parking removal near the intersection.

– Intersection with 21st Avenue now shows a beefier median to calm traffic instead of speed bumps. The new design allows for a much more direct cycling route than what was shown in July.

– As per their newly adopted policy, PBOT will also “daylight” every intersection on the greenway by making parking illegal within 20-feet of corners.

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And as we’ve come to expect with all neighborhood greenways, PBOT will rotate stop signs to favor cycling on Tillamook, add sharrow markings on each block, and lower speed limits to 20 mph.

The first phase of construction will start this spring and include crosswalks and signage at 7th, the signed crossing at 24th, marked crosswalks at Flint and Vancouver, on-street parking removal at intersections, and the bike boxes at MLK. The remainder of the work will follow and the plan is to have the project completed before the end of this year.

For more information, check out the project website.

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

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Influential Portland Planning Commission seeks three new members

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 14:28

It only looks boring.

There’s a big opportunity afoot for three Portlanders who want to play a major role in shaping our city’s growth.

The 11-member Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission has announced three openings that need to be filled due to people being termed out. The PSC is a very influential body that advises City Council on Portland’s long-range goals, land-use policy, and more. That means they have a major say in everything from bike parking and housing to freeway widening projects.

Speaking of which, the PSC is where a vote was held two years ago on whether or not Portland should remove the I-5 Rose Quarter project from its Transportation System Plan. The idea was proposed by noted transportation advocate and PSC Vice-Chair Chris Smith who opposes the project because of how it makes driving through our Central City easier. Smith’s motion narrowly fell by a vote of 6 to 4. Had a few members voted differently, ODOT would not be marching forward with their plans as confidently as they are now.

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Here’s more about the openings from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability:

The PSC includes 11 volunteer members with expertise in a range of areas. Their major role is to advise City Council on Portland’s long range goals, policies and programs for land use, “Be the next “city shaper” – or help us find one!

Given the number of open seats (almost one third of the Commission), this is a chance to lead with equity and include more people of different ages, cultural backgrounds, incomes, residences and abilities to move our community closer to the city we aspire to be.

To complement the existing voices on the Commission, people who have backgrounds in and care about the following are sought:

Equity / social justice
Climate action / sustainability
Business / economic & community development
Zoning code / general land use / traditional long-range planning
Central Eastside / new industry

This recruitment will be open until March 15th.

If you’re interested or know someone who might be, check out the full description and call for new members here.

In related news the PSC will have a work session on the Bicycle Parking Code Update tomorrow (2/25).

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

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Transportation Trivia packs them in as Shoup-inspired team takes top prize

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 10:35

Team “You Make Me Want To Shoup” hoists the trophy: (L to R): Sarah Iannarone, Joe Cortright, Alyssa Heminger, Tony Jordan and Clint Culpepper.
(Photo: Yashar Vasef)

Transportation leaders and bright minds from around the region convened at the Lagunitas Community Room on Thursday night for the latest rendition of the Community Cycling Center and Oregon Walks’ Transportation Trivia event. It was an overflow crowd and for the first time in the event’s history, all tickets were sold out before the festivities even began.

As trivia day approached, the competitive tension was palpable, with the defending champions taking to social media to declare their intent to repeat their last performance. “We’ll bring the trophy so you can all have a look at it, but it’ll still be ours at the end of the night,” a member of 5 Wheels to the Wind posted hours before the event. This was, of course, all in jest as this is a friendly competition that benefits the work of the Community Cycling Center to broaden access to bicycles for people of all backgrounds and Oregon Walks to make conditions for walking safe and convenient.

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(Photos below by Charles Edelson)

Competition was fierce, as emcees Hanna Davis and Noel Mickelberry kept everyone on their toes from one question to the next. Over 100 participants formed teams representing local firms and organizations like Daimler Trucks North America, Lancaster Engineering, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Westside Transportation Alliance, and a myriad of other reputable outfits all vying for the chance to hoist the winner’s trophy.

Ultimately, the trivia gods determined there would be no repeat champion, as team You Make Me Want to Shoup took home the victory after three rounds of challenging, yet educational, trivia qustions. “It’s great to live in a town with so many people who are this passionate about transportation,” said winning team member and economist Joe Cortright (of City Observatory fame). “This is where the future of Portland’s transportation is decided.”

Of course, we have to take a moment to thank the sponsors who helped make this event possible. Lancaster Engineering, PBOT, and Portland Streetcar graciously supported the event as signature sponsors. Go Lloyd, Portlanders for Parking Reform, We Ride at Daimler, and WSP also generously supported the fun.

Sarah Iannarone, former Portland mayoral candidate and a member of You Make Me Want to Shoup, aptly capped the night: “There’s absolutely nothing we can’t do if we put the same level of energy into better and improved transportation policy as we do into winning transportation trivia.”

— Yashar Vasef, Community Cycling Center

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The Monday Roundup: Bicycle Day, DC defends bike lanes, e-bikes’ mental health boost, and more

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 09:29

Here are the most noteworthy things on the web we came across in the past seven days…

Bring back Bicycle Day: Before the Presidents Day holiday was used to sell cars it was a “day of leisure” that many people took as an opportunity to ride and race bicycles.

Worst Day Ride Photos: Don’t miss these great photos from The Oregonian that captured the costumes and spirit at yesterday’s Worst Day of the Year Ride.

Speed kills: A new study has shown that higher speed limits on eastern Oregon highways — passed by the Oregon legislature in 2015 — have led to more fatal crashes.

ITE on parking: The influential Institute for Transportation Engineers has issued a promising new policy stance in the latest issue of their magazine: removal of parking minimums, more use of pricing tech to manage demand, and the promotion of different modes.

Lime is over bikes: Interesting to see that a company that once operated both shared e-scooters and bikes has decided to drop the latter.

DC defends its bike lanes: The District of Columbia has decided to get tough on Uber/Lyft drivers and delivery trucks who think they can stop in bike lanes by clarifying existing bike lane law. It’s being done as part of D.C.’s Vision Zero program.

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State of safety: A good overview of why more vulnerable road users are being hit and killed in U.S. cities and what it will take to do something about it.

What do we want? More bike parking!: The SF Bike Coalition is demanding the City of San Francisco triples the number of bike racks and respond more quickly to bike parking requests.

NYPD hates cycling: The Bike Snob shares an overview of a problem we’ve noted for years: That behind all their infrastructure and other urbanism successes lies a terrible barrier to bike-friendliness — the police.

Mental health and e-bikes: Research has shown that electric-assisted bikes not only make pedaling easier for older people, they can also provide a mental health boost.

Slow buses: Portland is working to speed up buses, many of which are stuck in traffic behind car drivers. In New York City, activists on foot challenged a bus to a race across town and they only lost by five seconds.

Unspent bike/walk funds: Streetsblog reports on $1 billion in unspent federal funds lying in state coffers that could be rescinded if they don’t get used. And yes, Oregon is on the list to the tune of about $12 million. Is this a big deal? We’re inquiring with ODOT and hope to share more info soon.

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

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Advocates, residents see Highway 30 paving project as chance for safer bicycling

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:13

Highway 30 has potential to be a direct route from downtown Portland to St. Johns. Unfortunately its bike access is abysmal.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Anyone who’s ridden a bicycle on Highway 30/St. Helens Road between northwest Portland and the St. Johns Bridge understands why it has the moniker “Dirty 30”. With a major paving project in the pipeline, ODOT has a chance to change that bad reputation.

The narrow, unprotected bike lanes are almost always strewn with gravel and all manor of debris. But the “dirty” part is just the start. The road is full of car and truck drivers going 45-50 mph just a few feet (sometimes less!) away from your handlebars.

How do we make this better? Here’s our chance:

The Oregon Department of Transportation is working on a $8.5 million project that will repave 2.5 miles of Highway 30 from NW Kittridge to the St. Johns Bridge via Bridge Avenue (the road that connects to the bridge, which will also be paved). The project description says that in addition to new pavement, ODOT will upgrade ADA ramps to current standards, improve “access management” (driveways, turning movements), and “address drainage as needed.”

Advocates have gotten wind of the project and want to seize the opportunity to improve conditions.

These young riders are headed toward the popular NW Saltzman Road in Forest Park, which is just south of St. Johns Bridge in the middle of ODOT’s project area.

Bike lane conditions just north of Kittridge just after a storm.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because three years ago we saw a similar opportunity when ODOT repaved Hwy 30 from Bridge Avenue to NW McNamee Road. When that project was being designed, I personally met with ODOT staff and presented some ideas to significantly improve cycling conditions. Unfortunately they failed to embrace any of them and ended up only making a few very minor changes to the cycling environment.

We hope the outcome is different this time around. With a new main entrance to Forest Park coming to the Kittridge/Hwy 30 intersection and the potential of this road to be a pleasant, direct bike route from downtown Portland to St. Johns — this is an opportunity we should not pass up!

Thankfully, volunteers with BikeLoudPDX are already on the case. The project was on the agenda of their monthly meeting earlier this week where noted transportation advocate and lawyer Scott Kocher shared his ideas. He wants to see a reconfiguration of existing lane widths when the striping gets put back. More space could be added to the bike lanes if ODOT was will to narrow other lanes. Kocher also wants them to consider removing utility poles that currently constrain the bike lane in several spots. Drainage problems are also on his radar. There are a few spots that are notoriously flooded and present a hazard to bike riders. Another idea is to add new bike/walk signals to improve safety on Bridge Avenue.

Kocher and fellow advocate Ted Buehler will team up to host a bike ride tomorrow (Saturday, 2/23) at 9:30 am. The ride will be a hands-on exercise in activism where everyone will help observe, document, measure, and photograph existing conditions. The idea is to use this documentation to make formal requests to ODOT to address the deficiencies in the project.

Buehler and Kocher will be happy to know that they’ve got a lot of support. According to ODOT’s 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), they agency received numerous citizen comments in support of better cycling facilities on Highway 30. The comments below were all recorded by ODOT as part of the official STIP record:

Clinton Doxsee:

This project should also incorporate improved, separated bike/ped facilities to provide safer and better non-automotive alternatives. Striped bike lanes on a road where vehicles travel at 45-50 mph is dangerous and will be deadly for a cyclist when a crash will inevitably occur. Existing bike/ped facilities are treacherous and extremely unsafe or unfriendly.

Geoff Grummon-Beale:

I am a regular user of Hwy 30 along this stretch both by bicycle and motor vehicle. This project is an important opportunity to improve conditions for bicycling along a key bicycle route in Northwest Portland. Specifically, I would like to see the following:
1. Stripe continuous, buffered bicycle lanes that meet state requirements for minimum width along the entire length of the project. This is essential!
2. Address hazards in the bike lanes such as storm drains and gravel from adjacent driveways. Design bike lanes to be self-cleaning if possible.
3. Stripe bike lanes on both sides of Bridge Avenue for its entire length.
4. Address hazardous motor vehicle merging across the bike lanes at the Bridge Avenue ramps.
5. Create improved bicycle connections at key access points such as Saint Helen’s Road, Saint John’s Bridge, Saltzman Road, and Germantown Road.
6. Look for ways to address speeding such as reduced lane widths.

Caitlin Clark:

I would like to see the bike lanes on this stretch of Hwy 30 made safer or at least more visible to drivers. By adding bollards, accentuating the striping/lane, or adding additional signage this could increase ridership and reduce traffic on Hwy 30.

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Yashar Vasef:

Please consider physical separations, or bollards, for people on bikes. This area feels very dangerous due to car speeds, and some sort of physical separation would be appropriate if ODOT is serious about Vision Zero.

Carl Alviani:

It’s important to remember that US30 is also a crucial bike connector for anyone riding from St Johns and other North Portland neighborhoods into downtown… Any project to repave and upgrade this section of US 30 needs to address these issues too, by physically separating bike lanes where needed, and incorporating bike access into ramp upgrades.

Scott Cohen:

Please improve the bike lanes as well. Increase the size and add a buffer or physical protection.

Chris Jones:

It is really important to me to get better bike access over the Saint Johns Bridge and down Hwy 30. It would shave a mile off of my commute and has the potential to be a lovely ride.

Gary Becker:

… enhanced bike facilities should be included within project scope. US30 is only effective bike route between St Johns and downtown Portland, and a Forest Park entrance facility at the east end of this project would also benefit from access from St. Johns. The existing bike lanes (shoulder) are seriously deficient. Sufficient space and proper striping essential.

Sarah Taylor:

“We need state of the art bike lanes on the bridge and bridge avenue and through Linnton. We need Linnton to be a bike and walk safe community.”

Tim Briare:

Our family and many family households are on Springville Hill above bridge Ave. We have 6 children who ride the bus and also walk on Bridge Ave. There are many other children that walk this area and ride Trimet as well as the school bus in this area. This area is also traveled by large amounts of bike riders from North Portland to Sauvie Island. This area is very hazardous to pedestrians as well as bikers… Please help our neighborhood children with safety. Please help the hikers and bikers that come to this area to access forest Park and Sauvie.

Cassie Capone:

This is a critically important biking route. It feels unsafe and stressful due to high motor vehicle speeds, narrow bike lanes separated from motor vehicles only by paint, and high levels of debris in bike lanes. Please consider physical separation of the bicycling lanes.

Kenath Sponsel:

There needs to be a protected/separated bike path for this corridor. Jersey barriers or tall traffic pillars, or something more than a painted line between bikes and 50mph traffic. Also, better/more frequent sweeping is needed for the amount of debris along this route.

Tim Lundholm:

We live off of Harbor Blvd., which is a one lane road with no pedestrian walk ways that gets heavy commuter traffic between Hwy 30 and Germantown Rd. Our neighborhood is right next to Forest park yet has no safe pedestrian access to it. We have no pedestrian crossing across Bridge Ave to ridge trail, none across Germantown to Tolinda trail, and walking on Harbor is dangerous. Please incorporate safe pedestrian walkways, crossings and access from the neighborhoods of Linnton to Forest Park and St. Johns.

Caitlin Harris:

Please include improved pedestrian crosswalks with stop lights at Saltzman Rd and on Bridge Ave. at Springville Rd. I appreciate what is proposed but without improved pedestrian crossings with stop lights the improvements do little good if people using them to catch the bus/crossing the street are unable to do so safely. There are children who catch PPS school busses and Trimet busses to high schools on Hwy 30. They need to be able to cross Hwy 30 and Bridge Ave. safely!

This project is scheduled to be constructed next year. Will ODOT listen and make changes that significantly improve the cycling and walking environment? We’ll see.

From ODOT STIP.

For now, get involved with the effort to help ODOT see the light. And stay tuned.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Kenton Cycle Repair, Kerr Bikes, Cynergy E-Bikes, Rack Attack

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 09:22

Four fresh job listings for you to peruse.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Seasonal Mechanic – Kenton Cycle Repair

–> Bike Mechanic – Cynergy E-Bikes

–> Kerr Bikes Employees – Kerr Bikes (Albertina Kerr)

–> Sales and Installation Specialist (PT/FT) – Rack Attack

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

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

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Is ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter plan compatible with ‘Albina Vision’?

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 15:34

Current concept drawing for Albina Vision show several large buildings and roads over I-5 (lower left) — all of which would be impossible if ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter project moved forward as planned.

“Taking on ODOT for buildable caps over I-5. I used to be a nice, middle-aged lady. But, Albina has turned me into a fighter. I’m not backing down.
— Rukaiyah Adams, Albina Vision

There’s a storm brewing over the I-5 Rose Quarter project and it’s not just coming from a growing number of anti-freeway activists.

The Oregon Department of Transportation wants to widen the freeway that slices through the heart of what was a thriving community in the 1950s. The agency hopes to add several lanes and expand the freeway’s footprint in an attempt to speed up traffic and reduce congestion. But there’s another vision for the area that is more about living and less about driving.

As we shared in 2017, the Albina Vision wants to recreate the lost grandeur of dense, walkable and bikeable neighborhood that once flourished before I-5 and other developments destroyed over 700 homes and many businesses. That vision also includes a significant amount of housing — much of which would be built on top of I-5.

One of the main things standing in the way of that vision is ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter project.

ODOT concept drawing shows two smaller covers that could only support a park or plaza.

The $500 million project, which is now in a federally-mandated phase of public comment on an environmental assessment, calls for two covers (a.k.a. caps or lids) over the freeway: One over the Broadway-Weidler couplet and the other at Hancock and Dixon streets. ODOT planned these spaces to be merely caps and not a tunnel because the latter would be much more expensive and complicated (requiring them to dig down and lower the existing freeways lanes, build a sophisticated ventilation system, and so on). Because a more beefy, continuous tunnel would trigger more stringent federal engineering and environmental regulations, ODOT’s highway caps would only be able to hold a few trees and benches (for the rare individuals who relish the opportunity to relax above a loud and smelly freeway).

That’s where the disagreement lies.

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Red circle marks map element labeled as, “Infill development I-5 bridges”.

Having “buildable caps” is a central part of Albina Vision’s plan to restore the historic neighborhoods and street grid. Instead of unused spaces, Albina Vision wants to put that new real estate above I-5 to work as infill development. Their concept drawings and show several, multi-story buildings and roads directly above the freeway. A map on the Albina Vision website labels the area above I-5 as “Infill development”. ODOT’s cute little caps wouldn’t be nearly strong enough for those type of structures.

The two key leaders behind the Albina Vision, former Portland Parks & Recreation Director Zari Santner and Meyer Memorial Trust Chief Investment Officer Rukaiyah Adams have been steadfast in their demand for buildable covers.

Santner told a crowd of policymakers on the first day the vision launched, “… If the freeway is there and it’s not removed, it needs to have a lid.”

And Adams has spoken even more strongly about the lids telling Bridgeliner in an interview this week that, “We can’t move I-5, but if we put buildable caps there so that the streetscape is continuous for pedestrians and bicyclists, then that stitches the community back to the eastside neighborhoods, and that’s pretty critical.”

Adams doubled-down on that demand in a in a Tweet posted this morning: “94 acres in cntrl [Central] city on a transit hub. Could build thousands of affordable units,” she wrote. “Taking on @OregonDOT for buildable caps over I-5. I used to be a nice, middle-aged lady. But, Albina has turned me into a fighter. I’m not backing down.”

It’s generally accepted that agencies don’t like to move forward with an element of a major plan if it precludes the fulfillment of another plan. Does ODOT respect the Albina Vision enough to make a compromise here? Would Mayor Ted Wheeler and his colleagues in City Hall allow a major project to move forward if it deals Albina Vision such a serious blow? We’ll be watching this closely.

UPDATE, 2/22: Portland architecture critic and Business Tribune columnist Brian Libby’s latest piece is all about why we should make Albina Vision a reality. Right now.

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

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Route Advisory: Closures and construction coming to road atop Council Crest

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 11:49

The Portland Water Bureau is about to start a project up in Council Crest Park that will impact the road around the iconic summit lookout.

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The ride up to Council Crest is a classic (one reader loves it so much he snapped a photo from the top 500 times in four years). What you might not realize is that large water tank on the northwest corner of the summit was built in 1942 and still serves 1,300 customers. Now it’s time for maintenance repairs.

As of late this week or early next week, the Water Bureau tells us heavy equipment will begin staging on SW Council Crest Drive. Once construction starts shortly thereafter (we’ll post dates as they come in), the road will be completely closed to car and truck drivers for up to 45 days. Then, for 10-day window (Water Bureau hasn’t clarified exact dates yet), the road will be closed to all users — including bicycle riders. Throughout this project, bicycle riders and walkers will be able to enter the park, but you will not be able to ride through the full loop of the road. If you ride up to the lookout, you’ll have to walk across the grass to return down the hill.

In general, use caution around this work zone as there will be large cranes at work. And respect the full road closure when it starts.

Learn more at the project website.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Worst Day of the Year Ride (for real this time), trail work party, Woody Guthrie and more

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 10:50

‘Worst Day’ ride? Looks like the best day to these riders at the 2011 edition.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Almost time to cut loose and embrace some cycling action!

If you read this before Thursday night, peruse the calendar for a big slate of fun ideas. And of course since it’s February and it’s Portland, always be mindful of the weather forecast.

Here are our event picks for Friday night and this weekend…

Friday, February 22nd

Breakfast on the Bridges – 7:00 to 9:00 am at multiple locations
There will be a Mardi Gras theme to this month’s BonBs. Give yourself extra time on your morning ride into downtown to stop at Steel, Hawthorne and Tilikum bridges for free coffee, treats, and conversation (if you want it). And thank the volunteers from Shift who make this happen! More info here.

Transportation Seminar: Recognizing and Addressing Modal Assumptions to Shift Transportation Culture – 11:30 am at Portland State University (SW)
PSU’s Transportation Research Education Center (TREC) welcomes WashDOT Active Transportation Manager Barb Chamberlain for a discussion about how the words we use impact “modal bias” and our planning and advocacy practice in general. More info here.

Saturday, February 23rd

Endless Summer Saturdays – 9:00 am at Crema (NE)
Join Club Roule for what’s become a standard Saturday group road ride with a moderate pace. More info here.

Transport Your Activism: Highway 30 – 9:30 am at Food Front Co-Op (NW)
BikeLoudPDX is hosting another one of their hands-on activism rides where you’ll observe and measure existing conditions on Highway 30 and share ideas about how to make it better as ODOT preps for a major repaving project. More info here.

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Stub Stewart Winter Trail Work Party – 9:30 am Stub Stewart (Vernonia-ish)
NW Trail Alliance is hosting a work party to help keep the amazingly fun and excellent trails at Stub in great shape for the upcoming season. This is a perfect way to give back and bank some sweat equity into the sport you love. More info here.

Saturday Social Ride – 10:00 am at Lents Park (SE)
This leisurely paced (13-14 mph) group road ride will meander through east Portland with a warm-up stop at a bakery or coffee shop. More info here.

Woody Guthrie & Knapp Falls Ride – 12:00 pm at Creston Park (SE)
Explore the haunts of former Portlander Woodie Guthrie, get a first-look at a new LEED certified sustainable housing complex, and discover a hidden waterfall on this fun 12-mile loop led by Tom from Puddlecycle. More info here.

Sunday, February 24th

***BP PICK!!!*** Worst Day of the Year Ride – Meets at Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne
The Big Day has finally arrived. It’s time to put on a (warm) costume (or not) and join a few thousand other Portland bike lovers for an urban jaunt that will restore your faith in humanity. Remember to mention to organizers you heard about it on BikePortland! More info here.

Kevin Neidorf Celebration of Life Ride – 2:30 pm at River City Bicycles (SE)
Join Kevin’s friends and family for a bike ride to First Unitarian Church where a memorial service will begin at 4:00 pm. 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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Scooter company reps scolded by Oregon legislators over helmet law proposal

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 13:43

Matthew Kopko with Bird Rides (L), and Jonathan Hopkins from Lime.

Senators Lew Frederick (L) and Cliff Bentz.

What was expected to be just another ho-hum hearing on one of thousands of bills working their way through Oregon’s 2019 legislative session, turned out to be anything but.

“What I’m hearing seems to be a bit counter-intuitive from a safety perspective.”
— Rep. Caddy McKeown, Co-Chair Joint Committee on Transportation

As we shared earlier today, House Bill 2671 seeks to require helmets for electric scooter riders 15 years of age or younger. Currently all e-scooter riders are required to wear a helmet. Backers of this bill — which include scooter companies, The Street Trust and Forth Mobility (an Oregon-based electric vehicle advocacy group) — say they merely want to harmonize the scooter law with the existing bicycle law which makes helmet use optional for everyone 16 years and older.

They say the existence of an all-ages helmet law leads to unequal enforcement against the very people most likely to need and appreciate scooters, and it could stymie adoption of scooters and other micromobility devices in the future.

“This bill creates consistency between green transportation modes,” said Jonathan Hopkins, a director of strategic development for Lime, during testimony in front of the Joint Committee on Transportation on February 13th, “Bikes and scooters are providing the same function, on the same number of wheels, at the same speed, and at the same places. While we always recommend users wear helmets, we also think users should be treated equally under the law when using very similar mobility tools.”

PBOT data from the recent pilot found that 90 percent of riders didn’t wear a helmet even though it’s required by Oregon law.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Hopkins was joined on a panel of scooter company reps by Jordan Bice and Matthew Kopko of Bird Rides. They came armed with data and talking points largely taken from the findings of the City of Portland’s successful e-scooter pilot program that wrapped up last year.

But state lawmakers weren’t having it. None of the half-dozen or so committee members who spoke during the hearing were impressed. Some of them even lectured the panelists with an admonishing tone the likes of which I’ve never heard in a legislative hearing before. The exchanges underscored the skepticism lawmakers have toward this new mode of transportation and toward the corporate lobbyists trying to make it more accessible.

The first one came from Senator Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario). Bentz touted his experience as a bicycle rider and said he knows people who’ve had crashes. “Had they not been wearing helmets they would have been dead,” he said, before adding, “And I mean it,” for emphasis. Bentz also expressed that if a low-income person who’s on Oregon Health Plan crashes and sustains a head injury, the bill for their care will, “Be on us.”

“So I’m asking, what are you guys, as an industry, doing to help solve this problem?” Bentz asked the panel.

Kopko, Bird’s director of public policy, began to respond. “We have to be mindful of the fatality and safety risks of automobiles as opposed to these type of vehicles,” he said; but was abruptly interrupted by Bentz, who sounded a bit annoyed:

“I want you to compare the number of scooters to the number of cars. Because you didn’t. You’re equating that we have exactly the same number of scooters on the road as we do cars. We have a gazillion more cars on the road than scooters. So don’t do that. Please don’t do that again. I suffered through it earlier [they’d met in Bentz’s office prior to the hearing] and I don’t want to do it again.”

Here’s video of the exchange:

Then Committee Co-Chair Rep. Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) followed up on Bentz’s comments. “There’s an old adage.. ‘Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it’s going to be bad for the pitcher,’ that’s what happens when your head hits the concrete,” she said.

Then McKeown continued:

“You say you’ve been providing helmets for people to use, which implies to me you understand the danger and the possible risk of riding these vehicles. And I applaud you for that; but I also hear you saying you’d prefer we not require it. What I’m hearing seems to be a bit counter-intuitive from a safety perspective.”

To which Kopko replied,

“We are very supportive of helmet use. What we’re talking here about is the diff between encouraging helmet use and mandating it by law. There’s a risk of disparate enforcement and how the helmet requirement would limit uptake of this new mode… We agree helmets should be used whenever possible… For us it’s about the consistency of laws across micromobility solutions.”

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Then there was a very tense exchange (in video above) between the Lime representative Jonathan Hopkins and Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland).

Hopkins:

“There are certain communities that will have less access to helmets and therefore are more severely impacted by law enforcement efforts. Those happen to be the very same communities that are close to freeways or have lower lifespans by up to 10-15 years because of CO2 emissions. So there are areas where these tools have the potential to dramatically effect on our planet, peoples’ life spans, our health, and the health of our community. If there’s inequitable enforcement, you’re going to have communities that can afford helmets riding scooters and riding bikes more, and communities that are suffering from worse air quality and everything else, riding them less. And that actually exacerbates the very same problems they’ve been suffering from for decades.”

Frederick:

“I’m going to try to be kind about this. I appreciate you being concerned about disparate enforcement. Don’t use that as your argument. Please. I get a little tired of that… The next time someone will tell me that we’re looking at kids who are ‘at-risk’ and that’s why we’re doing this. Don’t do that. That doesn’t work. The issue we’re talking about now is safety. I live next to Lloyd Center and I saw a lot of scooters and I saw very few black folks on scooters. I saw very few older folks on scooters. The folks who were on scooters were of a particular economic class and race and particular age as well…. I’d suggest you speak to the safety issues. I would ask that you speak specifically to the safety issues and try not to act as though this is an issue where you’re trying to help the other social issues that we have in the community. You’re talking about transportation. It’s going to make you money, so let’s be clear about that. It’s not just an issue of trying to be helpful.. I’m not upset about you making money; but don’t use the other things to obscure that. Please.”

And Kopko got the last word:

“We have data that shows positive views of scooters increase as you go further down the economic ladder. The data also shows that people of color had a higher positive view than white people of scooter usage. I also want to note the affordability component here: When you can get a ride across town for one-fourth or one-fifth the price of Uber or other modes, it does have an impact for people. There are a lot of affordability and equity benefits for this solution.”

With exchanges like this it became clear the bill was in trouble and the hearing wasn’t going well for its supporters.

Another issue that came up (first from an ODOT Transportation Safety Division staffer, then from Co-Chair McKeown) was concern that the way the bill is written, people might get the wrong impression that people under 16 years old are allowed to use electric scooters even though current law prohibits them from riding one whether they wear a helmet or not.

After an hour-long discussion and with committee leaders like McKeown, Frederick, and Bentz clearly not enthused about the idea of loosening helmet regulations for scooter riders, committee Co-Vice-Chair Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) wrapped things up by saying, “There’s an immense amount of work to do on this. It’s not ready for prime-time at the moment.” That sentiment was echoed by McKeown when she said, “I have great concerns about this. What I think we’re doing is going a bit backwards here.”

There are no other hearings or work sessions current scheduled for this bill. Learn more about it here.

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

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