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Portland slips to 5th in Bicycling Magazine ‘Best Bike City’ rankings

Bike Portland - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 08:19

(From Bicycling.com)

It’s a frequent topic of conversation in local advocacy circles that Portland has lost some of its swagger when it comes to being a leader for cycling in America.

Today, Bicycling Magazine released its biennial rankings of America’s best cities for cycling and Portland came out in 5th place — our worst position ever.

“Portland has only built 5.2 miles of protected lanes. Seattle and San Francisco built 15 and 18 miles respectively in in that same period.”

Seattle grabbed the top spot on the list this year, followed by San Francisco, Fort Collins, and Minneapolis in the top five. Eugene nabbed sixth with Chicago, Madison, New York City, and Cambridge rounding out the top ten.

For context, here’s how Portland has fared in these rankings in the past decade:

1st in 2008
2nd in 2010
1st in 2012
4th in 2014
3rd in 2016
5th in 2018

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Here’s the methodology they used:

The Bicycling editorial team reviewed U.S. Census and Department of Transportation data on more than 100 cities, consulted with experts and examined data from organizations including People for Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists. The editors looked at the overall percentage of bike commuters in each city and the rate by which that number is growing. They cataloged the amount and quality of cycling infrastructure in each city—including miles of protected bike lanes, buffered bike lanes, and off-street pathways —and how recently it has been implemented. They accounted for transportation budgets, civic and political commitments, and implementation of data-driven policies that make cities safer for cyclists, like lowering speed limits, narrowing lanes, and revamping problematic intersections. The editors also took historical performance and future projections into account and asked each city to explain its plan for ensuring people of all income levels have equal access to safe streets. Finally, the editors hit the streets and talked to local advocates, officials, and everyday riders in each city on the final list, as well as in those cities that did not make the cut.

The blurb about Portland on Bicycling’s website (and that will appear on newsstands in their November/December issue) cited our lack of high-quality, protected bike lanes as the main reason for our slip to 5th. “Since we last put out this guide two years ago,” it reads, “Portland has only built 5.2 miles of protected lanes. Seattle and San Francisco built 15 and 18 miles respectively in in that same period.” The blurb also features a promise from PBOT that between now and 2020 Portland will build 24.4 miles of protected bike lanes citywide.

If we make good on that promise, I’d fully expect Portland to grab the top spot next time around.

(Note: Please keep in mind these rankings are more art than science. While they’re easy to dismiss, Bicycling remains one of one most wide-reaching cycling media outlets in America and a lot of people will read this. They’ve also been doing these rankings since 1990, so they deserve credit for longevity. For a look at a more technically rigorous ranking, check out how Portland did in a recent comparison of 480 US cities by the nonprofit People for Bikes.)

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

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Sir Richard Branson Rides a Bike

Bike Hugger - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 19:02

On a Twitter still angry about American politics, it was nice to see Richard Branson mention the bike. I shared his tweet, Jason Gay replied, and so did he. Branson crashed hard in 2016.

Will do, thanks Jason

— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 9, 2018

And, got right back up to ride. The story Sir Richard shared was his top-ten tips. Those include

  • If you live in the hills or you ride in the wet I’d recommend disc brakes. Andy also put me on to Sram Etap automatic gears, which I absolutely love using.
  • You may not look as cool with a helmet on but don’t be a helmet and wear one! It saved me when I went over handle bars and has saved a number of friends when they’ve had accidents.
  • Carry a decent small pump, inner tubes and tyre levers at all times and make sure you know how to change an inner tube. Best to ride wide tyres for comfort.
  • For big trips use electrolytes in 50 per cent of your drinks, not just in water. Take food but not a picnic and eat small amounts often. I think real foods are the best.

I agree the most with eating real food on a ride. Once I stopped racing, and riding for pleasure, that was the first thing I did (besides not carrying a cycling computer) and eat a sandwich with a coke and feel way better on the bike.

The article is promoting Virgin’s Strive Challenge, that’s a Fondo. While they haven’t announced the 2019 edition yet, 2018 raised over a million pounds for Bike Change, a charity setup by Branson’s children.

We’ve all come together to strive for Big Change, the social impact accelerator co-founded by my children, which helps young people thrive in life and not just exams.

It’s focusing on thriving at life. If you follow Sir Richard on Twitter, that’s what he’s all about.

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Council date set for $30 million Central City in Motion plan

Bike Portland - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 13:24

PBOT concept drawing of protected bikeway on SE Hawthorne at 6th.

October 31st*. That’s when the Portland Bureau of Transportation plans to present their Central City in Motion project to Mayor Ted Wheeler and the rest of city council.

93 percent of respondents said the CCIM projects would make the central city safer, and 85 percent said the projects would make them more likely to take transit, walk, or bike

PBOT made the announcement on Twitter yesterday while explaining that the goal of the project is to, “improve and optimize our transportation system for all users, ensure that people driving, walking, biking and taking the bus know where they are supposed to be on the road and how they’re supposed to use the network.”

Regardless of the diplomatic way they describe it, this could be the most important investment in major bikeways in Portland for decades. With protected lanes as a default and an estimated budget of $30 million, we could finally see a few crucial pieces of the puzzle laid out in relatively short order (the first batch of projects would begin construction next year).

The plan comes into focus as a dire new report on climate change once again raises the stakes of our decisions on issues like transportation. Yesterday on Twitter, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the report is, “powerful, precisely because it makes clear that we are not yet too late.” “Now is the moment to continue our commitment to transforming our economy,” Wheeler posted, “by embracing low carbon technologies that will create millions of good, local green jobs while providing cheap abundant energy for all and cleaning the air that we all breathe together.”

Wheeler will get his chance to show he’s not scared to lead and make good on those words on Halloween when PBOT staff present the Central City in Motion plan.

The projects

Late last month we reported that PBOT has whittled down the initial batch of projects to 11. Upon closer inspection we know see that the list is 12 projects totaling $33 million. The projects range from a new couplet on SW Broadway and 4th with an estimated cost of $5.8 million to a project that would add safer crossings of West Burnside for around $866,000.

Here’s the list:

Learn more about all these projects here.

Keep in mind PBOT is focused on “1-5 year implementation projects” and just because something isn’t on this list doesn’t mean it won’t get built. There are 18 projects that passed PBOT’s screening process and I could see any one of them moving up the list if necessary (due to controversy, political heat, and so on). What PBOT wants to do is bring a list of “highly implementable” projects to council and use the political endorsement (if it passes) as momentum to push through to the design, engineering and construction phases.

At their most recent (and final) Sounding Board meeting, PBOT revealed results of two recent open houses and an online survey. 93 percent of respondents said the CCIM projects would make the central city safer, and 85 percent said the projects would make them more likely to take transit, walk, or bike. This are positive results, especially given that over 70 percent of respondents said they currently drive into the central city nearly every day or “sometimes.”

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Those open houses also told PBOT that the four most popular projects are: the Broadway/4th couplet that aims to, “create a signature north-south bike facility”; a host of updates to West Burnside including safer crossings and bus priority and protected bike lanes; a permanent “Better Naito; and a project that would create transit lanes on MLK/Grand and safer crossings and protected bike lanes on SE 6th and 7th (note that the MLK/Grand elements of the project have been dropped).

There’s been some confusion around cost estimates shared by PBOT so far. In a presentation to the project’s Sounding Board committee last month, PBOT shared three slides of a potential project on SE Hawthorne Blvd that illustrated a low, medium, and high-cost build options (note: PBOT says current estimates are based on medium-build level):

Girding for pushback

Slide from PBOT staff presentation to Sounding Board committee on September 27th.

PBOT knows this plan is likely to raise more concerns from people and organizations who fear a change to the status quo. Thankfully, the agency has done some homework in anticipation of these sky-is-falling proclamations that are sure to come.

They’ve done the traffic modeling math to show that, in tandem with other policy shifts expected by 2035, the addition of CCIM projects will lower average motor vehicle speeds in the central city by just 1 mph on average. For people who say we don’t have room on our roads, PBOT has calculated that the total right-of-way in the central city dedicated to transit and bikes will increase only 1 percent: from 3 to 4 percent for bicycles and from 1 to 2 percent for transit vehicles. Put another way, PBOT says if they built all 18 of the projects that survived their initial screening process, the additional 2 percent of space on those affected streets would have 61 percent more capacity.

What about car parking? It’s true that the CCIM projects will lead to hundreds of fewer places to park cars. As we’ve reported previously, PBOT is hard at work on a “parking mitigation strategy” document that will outline, “A multi-pronged approach to help ease the transition [to less parking] during and after project implementation.” This strategy will have three priorities: find more spaces where/if they can, use “operational improvements” to make existing spaces more efficient, and reduce demand.

A marketing push

Since we can’t add more streets to the Central City as we grow, we will need to invest and upgrade the existing transportation system to make it more predictable, reliable and safe for residents and businesses to use other travel modes. #centralcityinmotion pic.twitter.com/mvGVstiey6

— Portland Bureau of Transportation (@PBOTinfo) October 9, 2018

Now that we’re in the final few weeks before the council date, PBOT’s communications team has taken to the web to raise awareness of the plan. With the #centralcityinmotion hashtag on Twitter, PBOT is explaining why these street updates are necessary. Their primary argument is that the central city is primed for major growth in the coming years and — since our streets can’t grow along with the population — we must fit more people onto them. “If we don’t take action now,” reads one of their Tweets posted today, “it’s going to become more difficult to travel around the central city – whether you’re on foot, a bike, riding a bus, or in a car or truck.”

This statement echoes Mayor Wheeler’s contention that “We are not yet too late,” to make bold decisions in the face of imminent climate catastrophe. Giving the CCIM plan a strong vote of support would be a good start.

*UPDATE, 5:10 pm: PBOT just announced that the council date has been pushed back to November 14th.

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

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Family Biking: What’s your favorite rain gear? (I asked my kids too)

Bike Portland - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 08:09

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What is your favorite rain gear?
What prevents a wet and shiny nose?
Is it something on your bike like fenders?
Or is it waterproof cycling clothes?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We don’t need special gear to bike for transportation, but for a lot of us a couple key things make things a lot more pleasant, especially if we want to bike in all conditions.

I type this with my damp basket-dog burritoed in a towel on my lap as I listen to the soft hum of my glove-and-boot dryer readying my 11-year old’s gear for tomorrow’s ride to school, and I’m trying to decide on my number one favorite piece of rain gear.

My rain skirt keeps my legs dry without overheating.
(Photo: Kathleen Youell)

Today I’m going to vote for my rain skirt. Unfortunately, it’s not commercially available — my friend, Alyssa, made it for me. Before I had the rain skirt and before years of wear had compromised their waterproofness, my rain chaps were my favorite thing. One can get Rain Legs rain chaps here in Portland at Clever Cycles, available in silver and black.

I also checked with a couple kids and friends on Monday, while pedaling alongside them in drizzle to keep things real…

Rijder is stubborn (I have no idea where he gets it!) and forgoes rain gear.

Rijder, my nine-year-old son, laughed and shouted, “Nothing!” Getting wet is a perfectly feasible way to deal with rain. We tend to forget we’re waterproof and skin’s quick to dry so Rijder’s minimal coverage (it was 54 degrees when we left for school this morning) worked well for a one-mile commute in drizzle. Many people who opt to just get wet also opt to change into dry clothing upon arrival, though.

Fenders are fabulous!

Brandt, my 11-year-old son, says his favorite rain gear is “fenders” so I don’t chide him for riding through each and every puddle. Fenders are good for both protecting your bike’s drivetrain from muddy, gritty water and for keeping your clothing clean.

Clever Cycles has many fenders, including ones that fit 20- and 24-inch kid bikes.

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Drape passengers in blankets if they don’t have rain gear.

Pixie, my nine-year-old chiweenie, indicated her blanket keeps her cozy in the rain. As a non-pedaling passenger, she’s prone to getting a little colder than the rest of us so she needs to have an extra layer when it’s cold. Her blanket isn’t waterproof, but it did a fine job of blocking the drizzle for 15 miles to the pumpkin farm on Sunday.

Kathleen Youell’s rain cape provide full coverage.

Kathleen Youell said her rain cape is her pick. It covers arms and legs and doesn’t get as hot as rain jacket plus rain pants.

Armando Luna wears wool and quick-dry fabrics.

Armando Luna (of bike commuting during tram closure and Pedalpalooza fun seeking fame) says, “Wear stuff that dries quickly and wool.” His shorts are quick-dry technical fabric and his shirt is wool.

So what’s your favorite piece of rain gear and why? If you bike with kids, ask them (or decide what you think they should say and share that). Let me know in the comments! 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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After a long week, these Portlanders de-stressed by playing in mud on their bikes

Bike Portland - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 12:09

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

For many Portlanders who care about our country, last week’s new cycle was very stressful.

The Junior T’s (children of Team Lazy Tarantulas) showed up in force!

What better way to escape for a few hours than attempt to ride a bicycle on mud as slick as ice? That’s what many people did yesterday at the second race in the Cyclocross Crusade series held at Alpenrose Velodrome in the hills of southwest Portland.

It’s been a while since I focused on capturing images of a cyclocross race, and I picked an epic one. After a dry opening day on Saturday, rain returned on Sunday and soaked the top layer of dirt on the technical, hilly course. As late morning rain fell, it became difficult to even walk on some in some areas (I slammed on my butt several times just getting these images).

I could barely imagine what it was like for the intrepid souls who braved the conditions.

The most insanely slick section was the northwest corner of the course that featured a muddy, off-camber scramble punctuated by a straight downhill. Challenging does not begin to describe this section. The way people approached it provided hours of entertainment to spectators: Some tried to tip-toe; some just mounted their bikes at the top and bombed bravely down, some slipped and fell spectacularly, others just instantly gave up and slid down on their backsides. Through it all, faces full of smiles far outnumbered those full of frustration.

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There was one particularly cruel (or sublime, depending on your skill level and idea of fun) section around a tree that gave even the top riders fits. No method proved reliable for navigating around this tree. Some people tried holding on and swinging around it, others tried the tip-toe method. Only a select few tried to ride it…

But it wasn’t all muddy mayhem. Cyclocross is a beautiful sport that combines so many athletic elements — speed, strength, balance, grit, grace, skill. There was a lot of all those things on display Sunday…

To everyone who completed yesterday: We salute you!

View the full gallery over on our Facebook page.

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

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The Monday Roundup: Sexism, scooter lane, space helmet, SW Corridor and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 09:56

Here are the most noteworthy stories we’ve come across in the past seven days…

Do our part: A major new climate report paints a dire picture and reminds us that everyone in the transportation universe needs to stop placating auto abusers and start aggressively transforming our system into one that is cleaner and more efficient.

The Dutch example: Saying that, “using a phone is just as dangerous on a bike as it is in a car,” the infrastructure minister for The Netherlands is pushing for a cell phone ban for bicycle riders.

Sexism at the races: A veteran race announcer was fired after women voiced concern over sexist remarks made over the loudspeaker at a major cyclocross race.

How to pass other riders: I hate that I have to share this; but unsafe and rude passing on bikeways continues to be a big problem. This how-to from Bicycle Times has some good tips.

Political reality: As planners and politicians gathered inside and LA’s Mayor made a big speech at the NACTO conference, concerned road users staged a protest outside as a reminder that there’s much more work to be done.

Sign of things to come: A transportation reform group in Kansas City, Missouri has installed a temporary bike and scooter lane on a two-block stretch of their downtown.

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Best e-cargo bikes: In case you’re curious, Wired has a nice breakdown of four excellent electric-assist cargo bike options — ranging from $1,800 to $7,000.

End of an era: The leader of NYC’s venerable nonprofit Transportation Alternatives, Paul Steely White, will leave his post after 14 years to take a job with micromobility startup Bird. White follows other advocacy leaders who’ve taken jobs with similar companies.

Too bad it’s necessary: Reliance Foundry shared an overview of the “human bollard” movement as urgency ratchets up for protected lanes nationwide.

Spacey helmet: A nifty new helmet designed for those reluctant to wear them looks like a baseball cap and was created using aerospace technology.

SW Corridor failings: Michael Andersen puts it simply in his latest piece for Sightline: “Apartments are banned from half the land around stations on Portland’s next rail line. If that won’t change, the line shouldn’t be built.”

Take back the streets: Madrid is the latest city to take significant steps to improve options to driving in its urban core with their Sustainable Mobility Ordinance — a host of law changes that aims to make streets safer and biking and walking more convenient.

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

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New shuttle service will take you from Portland to Sandy Ridge

Bike Portland - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 16:27

Now you can get some of this without having to drive.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Love riding the trails at the Sandy Ridge Trail System; but don’t love the hour or so drive it takes to get there?

Or maybe you’ve wanted to ride there but don’t have a car and/or are philosophically opposed to driving to ride?

You’re in luck, because the great Fat Tire Farm bike shop in northwest Portland has launched a new shuttle service. And to make it even better, they’ve got a fleet of awesome rental bikes you can use on the trails.

Here are the details:

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– Shuttle runs every Friday and Saturday (starting now!) through the fall season
– Shuttles leave at 11:00 am from the shop at 2714 NW Thurman and return 5:00 pm the same day.
– Rates are $40 per person or $20 with a rental from the FTF fleet.

This is a great new way to hit the trails at Sandy Ridge! Not to mention a cool way to maybe meet new riding buddies on the shuttle ride to and from.

For more info, check out the shop’s website or give them a call at (971) 300-1216.

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

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Opinion: Let’s focus on the system, not on “them”

Bike Portland - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 13:54

Blatant attempt to inject something beautiful into the news cycle.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

After what transpired in Washington DC this week I’m feeling a horrible mix of emotions: Sadness, disgust, frustration, paralysis, hatred, and anger.

My inclination watching Susan Collins’ speech today was to shout and curse at her image on my screen. I wanted to go online and say bad things about her and people I vehemently disagree with.

The state of our body politic has made it hard for me to focus on local bike news. But since this website has been my main outlet of communication with so many of you for the past 14 years, my inclination is to come here to write something instead of on my social media accounts.

I don’t wade into politics here because my goal is to create an inclusive and productive space here and I’m loathe to introduce such a divisive topic. I also don’t like to take up space on important issues that aren’t on my beat. At the same time, I feel dishonest if I don’t share something here that I’m feeling so sharply and I assume is being felt just as strongly by many of you.

Beyond creating a space to air our feelings and acknowledge the moment we’re all in together, there’s just one thing I want to do with this post: I want to say something about how we treat each other.

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Those of you who follow my work know that I care deeply about treating people — even people I disagree with — with respect. That’s why I still read your comments (all 436,038 of them as of 1:30 pm today!) and take time to respond and moderate them as needed. That’s why I’m very careful to choose nonjudgmental words when I describe people and their actions.

(This isn’t to say I’m always an angel. I’ll criticize someone if I feel it’s warranted; but only if I respect them enough to spend the energy to do it. Without that respect, I’ll usually just ignore them.)

My inclination watching Susan Collins’ speech today was to shout and curse at her image on my screen. I wanted to go online and say bad things about her and people I vehemently disagree with. But what then? Would it fix anything? Or would it make things worse? I believe part of the reason we’re at this point as a society is because there’s so much of that hate flying around — especially online. I don’t want to be a part of that.

The systems we’re fighting against have been made stronger because so many of us use our time and energy to fight with each other, instead of against the system that made us angry in the first place. And those who benefit from the current system want to keep it that way.

For my small part in this swirling mess of polarization and tribalism, I plan to resist the temptation to tear other people down. Like I’ve said for years in our comment policy here on BikePortland: Let’s vigorously disagree, but do it with tact and respect for the person on the other side of the screen — or the aisle, or the windshield.

Instead, let’s use that energy to make the system work better.

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

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Brexit uncertainty, US regulations among reasons for Islabikes’ retreat

Bike Portland - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 09:50

Islabikes are a common sight at local schoolyard bike racks.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been a tough year for Portland’s bike industry.

In May, local cargo bike maker Metrofiets called it quits. Then in July, bike shop and community gathering spot Velo Cult announced it would no longer have a retail location. And on Tuesday of this week we reported that UK-based Islabikes decided to close the local office and warehouse that housed their North American headquarters. And yesterday we shared the messy road that led to the end of Renovo Hardwood Bicycles.

I don’t enjoy reporting these type of stories, but I do think the community deserves to know a reasonable amount of detail about them. Given Islabikes’ popularity and large role in our community (as a sponsor and partner of many local events), I felt like their official statement wasn’t enough. Earlier this week, I reached out to Islabikes General Manager Tim Goodall and asked him to share more about why they’ve decided to leave.

Goodall cited Brexit (the UK’s decision to leave the European Union) and a pesky US federal government regulation as two of the main reasons.

“We refused to send bikes that were non-compliant and we also refused to compromise our geometry to meet the requirements,”
— Islabikes GM Tim Goodall on a CPSC regulation that requires children’s bikes to have a coaster brake

As we’ve reported, Islabikes said they want to focus on the UK and EU markets. Behind that intent is what Goodall now says is a concern about the impacts of Brexit. The decision to leave the EU came via a very narrow voter referendum in 2016 and and the official exit is scheduled to occur in March 2019. However, the UK and EU must sign an agreement before it can happen and the debate over that agreement is far from over.

“The uncertainly of Brexit gives any company operating between the UK and EU pause at the moment,” Goodall shared with me via email yesterday. “Islabikes needs to dedicate time and energy to ensure that we’re growing those markets during whatever transition comes.”

I also asked Goodall if their decision had anything to do with a soft US market for high-quality children’s bikes that are much more expensive than big-box and “toy” store options. “The first few years were very strong and encouraging and we definitely think there is room for high-quality kids bikes in the US,” he said. Since Islabikes launched in 2013 several other high-quality children’s bike brands have launched. Was that competition the last straw? “The fact that so many brands with similar missions have sprung up definitely made the piece of the pie we have a bit smaller!” Goodall explained, “But the fact that those brands have come about is also encouraging. Islabikes mission from the start has been to provide children with a better experience riding bikes – there are more and more quality options out there for young riders.”

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Islabikes GM Tim Goodall setting up a customer in 2013.

Then he mentioned a surprise reason: A Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requirement that children’s bicycles (defined as “sidewalk bicycles” by the CPSC) must be equipped with a footbrake (a.k.a. coaster brake, which activates by pedaling backwards). This regulation means all of Islabikes’ popular 14 and 16-inch models must be shipped with a coaster brake.

“We refused to send bikes that were non-compliant and we also refused to compromise our geometry to meet the requirements,” Goodall explained. “Over the past two years we’ve spent vast sums as well as countless hours in an attempt to enact a rule change.” Goodall says the coaster brake requirement is “woefully outdated” and even without a US presence Islabikes hopes it changes someday.

Leaving the US wasn’t part of the plan for Islabikes, but the political uncertainty of Brexit forced them to re-visit their decision.

“The fact that we are letting down our customers weighs heavily on our minds and in no way was the decision taken lightly,” Goodall shared.

We are bummed to see them go. Not only does Islabikes have a great product, the company is full of integrity and Goodall himself is a testament to that. “We relish the connections we have made in our five years in Portland,” Goodall shared with us. “From Sunday Parkways to Kids’ Cross – we have loved seeing our customers out doing what they do best – riding bikes with a smile on their face.”

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

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Out of cash and employees, Renovo calls it quits

Bike Portland - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 16:11

Renovo founder Ken Wheeler in his booth at the 2012 North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The ride for Renovo Hardwood Bicycles is over.

The website is gone. No one responds to emails. The building at SE 8th and Ash that has housed its factory since 2008 is for lease. And there’s a lien notice posted to the front door.

According to the notice, Kenneth Wheeler of Renovo Designs LLC owes $34,864.53 in rent that hasn’t been paid since May.

This is a sad ending to a company that was once one of the bike industry’s shining stars.

Wheeler launched Renovo at the 2008 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Portland. With experience and success making hardwood lighting fixtures and airplanes, Wheeler figured out how to make bicycle frames with a CNC machine. When I first visited his shop in February 2008 he proudly watched his CNC machine at work and said it would be done with the frame in five minutes. Not only were the frames beautiful and relatively easy to produce (or so it seemed), Wheeler said they tested stronger than high-grade aluminum.

He was clearly on to something.

After NAHBS, Renovo’s brand grew quickly. Three years later Wheeler had inked a partnership with German carmaker Audi; opened a showroom in the tony city of Sausalito, California; and graced headlines all over the world.

Not surprisingly, orders rolled in.

“When I got there we had about 85-90 bikes in the queue and zero cash. We had a lot of unhappy customers, then restricted cash flow. That stuff tends to snowball.”
— Tyler Robertson, former employee

Sales peaked in 2012. Unfortunately that’s also when things began to go awry due to a combination of production issues and the challenge of meeting customer demands.

Tyler Robertson, a former employee in charge of marketing who worked for the company in the summer of 2014, recalled in an interview today that they faced, “massive delays in production.” While the CNC construction method sounds quick and easy (Wheeler told me back in 2008 that his CNC process, “Lends itself to high volume production”), the truth was much more complicated. “It was a really hands-on, meticulous process,” Robertson said. Adding to the problem were customers frustrated by longer than expected delays. Robertson says they were promised a bike in six-to-eight weeks; but some people on the list had been waiting as much as two years. As word spread of the delay (there are several very negative Yelp reviews during this period), many customers cancelled their orders.

Renovo was counting on those orders to meet payroll and other expenses. As orders dried up, so did their main source of revenue.

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“When I got there we had about 85-90 bikes in the queue and zero cash,” remembers Robertson. “We had a lot of unhappy customers, then restricted cash flow. That stuff tends to snowball.”

“It’s a complicated mess.”
— Ken Wheeler, company founder

The backlog wasn’t just because of demand. Production problems started to bubble up as early as 2012, according to former employee I spoke with today who asked to remain anonymous. The allure of Renovo’s production model was that you could just put the wood in the CNC machine, hit a few buttons, and a bike frame would pop out. But wood is a “tricky material,” the former employee shared with me today. “The problem with CNC’ing wood is that, especially with the multi-laminate, it’s tremendously difficult to machine wood in a consistent fashion with the tolerances needed for a bicycle.”

Each frame was made-to-order both in terms of size and wood selection. Add the fact that they were built as two separate halves that had to be accurately joined together and you have a very complicated process.

None of the production difficulties were insurmountable, but each step meant more hands-on work to ensure quality, which in turn led to more delays.

Reached on the phone today, Wheeler said offering custom bikes was, “A stupid idea.” He said it was complicated to keep track of 20-40 custom bikes on the production floor at any one time. Managing customers’ needs was also difficult. “Our record was 128 emails from one single customer about his bike.” He told another story of a customer’s wife who threatened to sue Renovo for fraud after they took so long to deliver a bike.

Wheeler in his shop in 2008.

Hoping to stem the tide and scale-up production, Wheeler decided to stop selling custom frames in 2014. In a company press release, Wheeler joked about the backlog: “Struggling to control this unruly beast has kept Advil profitable.”

Unfortunately that shift didn’t fix the Renovo’s production problems.

As each new “ready to ride” model was released, the company would publicize six different sizes on its website. “Of those six,” the employee told me today, “Only 2-3 of the sizes were fully programmed into the CNC machine. There would be errors in terms of programming.” If the CNC work wasn’t perfect, the two halves of the frames would not line up perfectly, increasing the chance for misalignment and adding even more production time to get it right.

“Things came to a head when production staff felt like their safety concerns weren’t being heard.”
— a former employee

By 2015 the company had reached a breaking point. Wheeler shared with me today that he was under so much stress he had a heart attack. He feels he did everything he could to increase production and boost sales. They hired an outside PR firm, added staff, and continued to get rave reviews for the bikes in major magazines. Despite those efforts however, Wheeler said sales never returned to their 2012 level.

“If you don’t have the sales,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”

In 2016, Wheeler met Al Spinks, a Renovo customer who also happened to be a wealthy, fifth-generation farmer from Texas who loved to ride bikes. Spinks offered to invest in Renovo to help them get over the hump. Wheeler eagerly accepted. He used the money to increase production, do more marketing, research and development, launch new models, and hire an engineer who previously worked at Shimano. (Bicycle Retailer & Industry News magazine wrote about Spinks’ investment in March 2018.)

But according to a former employee, the large infusion of cash led to a new problem: Pressure to meet production quotas that led to a difficult working environment.

After his heart attack in 2016, Wheeler took his first real vacation over Christmas in 2017 and realized he didn’t want to return to the stress Renovo caused him. His partner Al Spinks was interested in taking over the company, but some of his other investments hadn’t been going well. Ultimately, “Money stopped coming from him,” Wheeler said.

By this past spring, a former employee told me, “Things came to a head when production staff felt like their safety concerns [both in terms of their personal safety and their ability to ensure a safe product] weren’t being heard.” In March of this year seven members of the production staff walked out. “After that,” the employee shared, “the place was on life support.”

Tensions between remaining employees and ownership continued into April when all three of the engineering staff left the company. From a staff that once numbered 12 employees, just three were left to make one final sales push at the big Sea Otter Classic event in April. “We went to Sea Otter and nothing came of it,” Wheeler said on the phone today. “And that was the end.” By May all remaining employees were gone. Wheeler continued to negotiate an exit with Spinks. Then on July 2nd, Spinks, just 53 years old, had a surprise heart attack and died.

Renovo’s headquarters on SE 8th and Ash.
(Photo: Paul Souders)

Thinking back on the last 11 years, Wheeler said today that he feels he did everything he possibly could to make Renovo a success. What I’ve shared in this story is only part of the drama and difficulty this company faced. There was the broken CNC machine and the parts needed to fix it that seemed to never arrive, the difficulty in hiring machinists, the disagreements between Wheeler and his employees, a stubborn sales decline, and so on. “It’s a complicated mess,” is how Wheeler described it today.

“My only consolation is that I — we — did the very best we could do to make it work. I didn’t want to let our customers down; but I couldn’t solve it. It just didn’t work… That’s not totally unusual in the world of business.” Especially in today’s bike business. Just one year ago, Renovo was a subject in an Oregon Business story that chronicled the tough climate for bike builders in Oregon.

What about bikes themselves? Everyone I talked to for this story had nothing but great things to say about them. Wheeler seemed to take solace in the fact that — through all the ups-and-downs — everyone loved the bikes. Even the guy whose wife threatened a lawsuit. “We ultimately shipped him the bike and he posted pictures of it on our Facebook page!” Wheeler beamed.

UPDATE, 11:03 am on 10/5: Several former employees have shared scathing allegations of misconduct from Ken Wheeler on company review site Glassdoor.

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

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Interbike 2018 and Bosch’s Innovation

Bike Hugger - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 09:22

Due to a schedule conflict, I didn’t attend Interbike, but tuning in from afar, what I noticed is that it seems like anyone drawing a salary from a bike brand is lockstep with motorization. That includes magazines and outlets that run ads from those brands.

I can proudly tell you we’ve never ran any brand ads, since we started more than a decade ago.

I expect within 2 seasons the marketers will glorify a return to the basics of non motorized bikes and maybe some further innovations around adventure and gravel will go to market.

For now though, the news is about motors and batteries.

Batteries and motors.

Here’s Zap awarding Bosch an Innovation Award for their PowerTube 500. That’s an power pack shaped to integrate with a bike tube instead of being bolted onto the frame like this Yamaha.

From Boch’s PR

The PowerTube 500 can be built into different types of frames, and is therefore suitable for a wide range of cycles – from city bikes and roadsters to eMountain bikes. The battery can be removed from the top, bottom or side. A two-stage mechanism ensures complete safety and easy handling when the battery is being inserted or removed: when unlocked, the battery clicks out of the frame by less than an inch and can easily be handled. A safety device prevents the battery from falling out. The battery is also optimally protected by the frame. Alternatively, the PowerTube 500 can be charged directly on the bike. The recesses on the upper side can be used for a bottle holder or for design trims.  The surface of the PowerTube 500 stands out with a high-grade anodized aluminum in black.

If you’re into ebikes, the PowerTube stores 500 watt hours and weights only 6.2 lbs (about 3x what my gravel frames weighs). And, it’s already spec’d on bikes from Bulls, Cannondale, Cube, Fuji, Gazelle, Haibike, Mondraker, Raleigh Electric, Riese & Mueller, and Trek.

Where I find ebikes most useful is for cargo and transporting kids around town. The updated GSD features a 500 watt battery too, but not in the tube form.

 

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Weekend Event Guide: Crusade kickoff, Simworks pop-up, pumpkin ride, and more

Bike Portland - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 08:44

Things could get a bit crazy at Alpenrose this weekend.

The weekend is near. We hope you’ll have the time and ability to indulge your love of cycling. The fall colors are peeking out and we’ve got some season-appropriate suggestions in this week’s guide.

Here are our selections…

Friday, October 5th

Cyclocross Crusade Kickoff Party – 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Hopworks Urban Brewery (SE)
Get your Crusade off to a fun start with a get together at HUB where you can hook up with racing buddies, get registered, grab your number, and enjoy fine food and drinks. More info here.

Saturday, October 6th

Cyclocross Crusade #1 – Alpenrose (Day 1) – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at Alpenrose Dairy (SW)
What better place to kick off the 25th Crusade season than at Alpenrose — where ‘cross racers first toed the line in 1997! This is going to be yuuuge! From the team pits, to the great spectating and racing — get out there and be a part of the magic. More info here.

Endless Summer Saturdays – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in Parkdale, OR
Join the kickoff ride of The Club Roule’s Endless Summer series with a spirited 50-mile, 6,000-foot elevation jaunt from Parkdale up and around Lost Lake. More info here.

Simworks Fender Pop-up at Golden Pliers – 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
Japan-based distributor of very fine cycling components and accessories, Simworks, will set up shop in north Portland’s Golden Pliers Bike Shop to do fender installs while a local sushi place creates their edible wonders. More info here.

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Cyclocross Crusade #2 – Alpenrose (Day 2) – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at Alpenrose Dairy (SW)
Weren’t able to make it out to Saturday’s event? You’re in luck because it happens again on Sunday. No excuses! More info here.

Bike the Levees – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at Blue Lake Park (E)
Do you know your levees? The Multnomah County Drainage Districts and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council will lead this 15-mile ride where you’ll learn about our local levee system (a.k.a. those things the Marine Drive Bike Path is on). Registration required. More info here.

Pumpkin Patch Ride – 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
Tis the season! Enjoy spiced cider and donuts at the shop before rolling out to Sauvie Island to find the pumpkin of your dreams. Some cargo space will be provided, but everyone is encouraged to bring their own bags, baskets, racks, cargo bikes, trailers, and so on. 25 miles round-trip. No-drop, group ride. 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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Promised over a decade ago, Portland embarks on NW Flanders Bikeway project

Bike Portland - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 13:26

PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen at the kickoff planning meeting September 20th.
(Photos: Reza Farhoodi)

Making good on a promise made over a decade ago, the City of Portland has finally started planning a new bikeway on NW Flanders between Waterfront Park and 24th. And at a meeting late last month, Portlanders got their first chance to see it.

The origin of the project goes back to the 2005 Burnside/Couch Transportation and Urban Design Plan. As the legend goes, bike advocates cut a deal with the Bureau of Transportation: Couch was originally designated as the major east-west bikeway through this part of town; but PBOT wanted it to be the couplet with Burnside, so the agreement was to switch the bikeway a few blocks north to Flanders.

The plan was adopted. The couplet was never completed and the Flanders bikeway was all but forgotten.

Here’s a graphic of the bikeway from the Bicycle Improvements chapter of the Burnside/Couch Transportation and Urban Design Plan:

(City of Portland)

Now, with the construction of the Flanders Crossing bridge over I-405 imminent, the city is finally making good on their promise. According to PBOT, they have $2.4 million to spend thanks to System Development Charges. The goal is to create a “low-stress bikeway” that will encourage more people to ride bikes and to, “Provide people of all ages and abilities a safe, comfortable place to bike in the Central City.”

PBOT has already built around 80 miles of neighborhood greenways, but those are in residential areas. The Flanders bikeway would be a different animal since it would have a more dense and urban context.

Pearl District Neighborhood Association member and safe streets advocate Reza Farhoodi was at the project’s kickoff meeting last month. He said he was “impressed” with the initial proposals — especially in Old Town and the Pearl. Farhoodi shared an image of PBOT’s project map that lists existing auto traffic volumes and traffic diverters proposed along the route. The map (below) shows that PBOT wants to implement significant measures to reduce the number of people who drive on Flanders.

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The map shown at the meeting.

PBOT’s greenway design mandate (as adopted by City Council with the 2015 Neighborhood Greenways Assessment Report) is to get the number of people driving cars to about 1,000 per day. As you can see on the map, the average daily traffic (ADT) on Flanders today is way above that. To discourage driving on Flanders they’ve proposed alternating one-way sections and two full driving closures: one at the North Park Blocks and one just east of 17th.

“The full closure at Park Blocks would be a wonderful placemaking opportunity at the intersection of the Green Loop.”
— Reza Farhoodi, Pearl District Neighborhood Association

“The full closure at Park Blocks would be a wonderful placemaking opportunity at the intersection of the Green Loop,” Farhoodi shared with us via email. “And I think the alternating one-ways is a potential solution for designing future neighborhood greenways in Central City and Northwest where there is a lot of pedestrian activity and high-density development.”

One sticking point that remains is the crossing of Naito just south of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the Steel Bridge. PBOT has spent years negotiating with UPRR to make a crossing at this location and now they have a design and the funding to make it happen. But PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen made it clear at the meeting last month that UPRR is still not satisfied and there are interim plans to jog the route to NW Davis to get across Naito until a final plan for a crossing at Flanders can be ironed out.

If the Flanders Bikeway is built (construction estimated for fall/winter 2019), Farhoodi says having to use Davis to cross Naito, “Would certainly be sub-optimal.” “I consider the crossing to be the key component into making this a regional bike facility, and it would be absurd to spend millions elsewhere upgrading Flanders without completing this critical connection.”

We’ll be watching that part of the project closely. Expect more public outreach in the coming weeks and months. PBOT expects to have a final design completed by next spring.

Correction, 10/9: This post originally said that the West Burnside/Couch couplet was built. That was a mistake. The couplet was never built (it was on the east side, however).

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

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We talked to over 100 people about making Better Naito permanent

Bike Portland - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 09:53

It was hard not to feel a wave of optimism about biking in Portland after talking with so many people who wanted to support this project.
(Photos: Armando Luna)

This is the latest installment of our Adventures in Activism column, written by Catie Gould and Emily Guise.

“Make Better Naito permanent! Sign a postcard!”

“People told us about how Naito got them biking more, and how they change their route after it closes.”

For a full week last month, you might have heard this appeal from volunteers from BikeLoudPDX at the Salmon Springs fountain. They were there during commute hours to talk to people about a permanent Better Naito. We just concluded the second year of the city’s seasonal installation — which makes less sense every year as we talk more about needing a connected, low stress bike network.

The night before the week of tabling kicked off I had a hard time sleeping. I had not done much of this type of thing and I was unsure how it would go. Are people sick of hearing about Naito? Are we wasting our time trying to get it installed year-round while a permanent design is in process?

My worries turned out to be unfounded.

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On the first day as I was setting up our table someone stopped by asking where they could sign. That trend continued every morning as someone came over within minutes of our arrival. For as long as we were there each day, a steady stream of people stopped to sign. Not everyone had heard of “Better” Naito or that it was only seasonal. People told us about how Naito got them biking more, and how they change their route after it closes. What connected all these users is that they love this lane, and they want to use it year-round.

I don’t usually find myself downtown during the day so it was nice to just be present in the space. We were lucky that every day there was beautiful weather, and lots of people were still using Naito. Traffic seemed pretty usual for anywhere, and not any visibly worse northbound.

As late as Wednesday there were no signs indicating when Naito was going to be removed. One woman told me last year how she had rode right out into traffic like normal, totally unaware the Better Naito had disappeared. She called the city to ask why there had been no signage, worried that someone else could be hurt if they just followed their routine. We couldn’t have anticipated that Better Naito wouldn’t be around the whole week, and must have told hundreds of commuters ourselves that it was going to be removed over the weekend.

Of the 130 people we talked to, we collected just one opposing view of Naito. One man on his bike stopped by to fill out a postcard and told me that Better Naito was awful, and it didn’t work at all. “How so?” I mused, thinking he might be referring to the lack of a zone to make turns in-and-out or people walking across the entire width of the lane. No. That wasn’t it. He said the traffic had gotten terrible. He drives down Naito all the time. Yet today he was biking on a beautiful morning, demonstrating the elusive modal shift of our dreams.

Very few people we spoke to knew about the Central City in Motion project or that a permanent version of Naito was one of the potential projects. With the last online open house already closed, it was difficult to tell people how to get involved in the design process. There is little publicly available information to point them to.

Many people thanked us for just being there to organize some support for year-round Better Naito. In its few years of existence, it has solidly implanted itself with Portlanders who prefer it to the waterfront path or southbound bike lane. It was hard not to feel a wave of optimism about biking in Portland after talking with so many people who wanted to support this project.

I hope our city council feels the same way.

In related news, don’t miss this story in The Oregonian about what the Naito family thinks about the project — even after the grandson of the streets namesake was hit while biking on it.

— Catie Gould (@Citizen_Cate) and Emily Guise (@Eguise): Read more from their Adventures in Activism column.

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Meet the Team: The Club Roule gets rolling

Bike Portland - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 08:41

Nice turnout at the weekly Roule Wednesday rides that ended in August.
(Photos: @RouleCycling on Instagram)


“Starting in October, we’re launching ‘Endless Summer Saturdays’ – because it’s always summer somewhere.”br>— Paul Wroblewski, team founder

It’s time for another profile of a local cycling squad!

Say hello to The Club Roule. Currently in their first full season, team founder Paul Wroblewski clearly has a talent for putting together all the pieces that me for a fun and inclusive group that looks like it will be around for many years to come.

Looking for new friends to ride and/or race with? Scroll down to learn more about The Club Roule…

How’d The Club Roule get started?

I had the idea for a new team in August of 2017. I raced solo and occasionally rode with various teams and groups, but couldn’t find one that really spoke to me. I realized that I was looking for something that felt like a community, but still attracted those with a competitive spirit without being rude or exclusionary. As I started talking to more and more people, I began to realize that a lot of other riders felt the same way. Cycling was a major part of life for each of us, but we hadn’t found our people yet. I decided that rather than wait for somebody else to make a team I’d want to be a part of, I would create a team that others wanted to be a part of.

What’s your squad all about?

Community first. #RouleTogether! Our squad has both racers and non-racers, novices and more experienced riders. The belief being that by riding together we can all find common ground by learning from and teaching each other new skills. The Club Roule encourages every member of the club to ride how they want to ride. Beginners who are racing against themselves and their own fitness goals, and elite competitive racers seeking podiums and glory; those who prefer the social aspect of the group ride, and those who savor the solitude of riding alone; weeknight warriors that ride to melt work day stress, and those who live with depression and anxiety and choose to ride for their mental health. As cyclists, we are all pushing ourselves – and in The Club Roule we are building a community that pushes with us.

I’m also particularly proud of the connections that we have made with people and businesses who didn’t have any prior engagement with the cycling/racing community. They have embraced our vision and worked with us to create a broader network that can help all of us continue to build Portland’s bike-friendly community. I’m also going to give a blatant shout-out to our wonderful partners who were willing to take a chance and join us for our inaugural season: Crema Coffee + Bakery, O2 Endurance, Olympus Wheels, PickyBars, Roule Cycling, and Tritech Bikes.

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Pre-ride hanging at Crema on SE 28th.

What type of riding do you do?

We’re primarily focused on road cycling since our club rides are tarmac focused. However, we have track, cyclocross, criterium, and time-trial racers on board, too. Our typical rides range from 20-50 miles with a fair amount of climbing. We’re also down for a good long-mileage gravel adventure from time to time and *gasp* a few of our folks are known to shred Sandy Ridge occasionally.

What type of riders and people are currently on the team, and who do you want to join?

I might be biased, but I think we have a pretty rad group! While each of us has different reasons for riding, we all like to have a community to ride with and be supported by. We come from various walks of life, but as in life, that diversity is our strength. We don’t care whether you’re a commuter who is interested in learning more about road cycling, a seasoned cyclist who is interested in learning how to race, or a veteran racer who wants to contribute to the growth of others, all are welcome. As we continue to grow, we’d also like to have a bigger W/T/F presence at rides and races going forward. Our hope is that folks will come ride with us, dig our vibe, and want to grow with us.

Flyer for an upcoming ride.

Please share your regularly scheduled rides that are open to the public:

Starting in October, we’re launching “Endless Summer Saturdays” – because it’s always summer somewhere. It will be a 30-mile, 2000′-elevation ride around Lake Oswego. We roll from the new Crema location at the Fair-Haired Dumbbell (11 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) every Saturday at 9am. There is very intentionally no end date for this ride.

From May through August, we host a weekly novice-friendly group ride every Wednesday evening called “Roule Wednesday”. We’re planning to bring that back in May 2019 so stay tuned!

We’re constantly looking for new routes that we can all ride together, so give us a follow and come join us!

How can we stay connected to your adventures?

Website: roulecycling.com
Instagram: @RouleCycling
Twitter: @RouleCycling
Strava: strava.com/clubs/TheClubRoule
Email: info@roulecycling.com
Carrier Pigeon: Coming Soon!

Want to see your team here? Just send us a message with answers to these questions and a few good photos and we’ll do the rest.

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

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Man and young child hit while crossing SE 122nd at Midland Library

Bike Portland - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 21:13

The crossing where tonight’s collision happened. The Midland Library is on the right.

We are not moving fast enough to make 122nd Avenue safer.

“Didn’t know that living in outer SE would mean saying a prayer every time you cross the street. What’s going on in this city?”
— Ana del Rocío, nearby resident

Portland Police say a man and a young child have sustained “critical, life-threatening injuries” and are being treated at a hospital following a collision that happened outside Midland Library just after 5:30 pm tonight.

According to photos we’ve seen via Twitter user @splindlypete (see below), the victims were crossing at the marked crosswalk and rapid flashing beacon just outside of the library south of Morrison Street. A large white van can be seen in the lane adjacent to the median, fully blocking the painted crosswalk striping. It’s too early to know for sure, but it appears like this could have been a classic “double-threat” situation where one driver stops, but another driver doesn’t.

The Twitter user who was on the scene said the young person looked to be about nine years old and was responsive prior to being loaded into the ambulance. The dad was unresponsive.

damn dude what's going on at the library pic.twitter.com/cTySvhWAlw

— pretty scarecrow (@spindlypete) October 3, 2018

it's somebody's work van, it's like a big white van with a hard hat on the dash pic.twitter.com/CyRQTQsCDF

— pretty scarecrow (@spindlypete) October 3, 2018

“Lot of of folks wondering how this could have happened,” wrote @splindlypete on Twitter tonight. “Those crosswalks are really unsafe. it’s not too hard for a driver in one lane to not see pedestrians that are in front of and slightly to the side of another car, and sometimes the lights go off when people are still crossing.”

This is heartbreaking — not only because these two innocent people are clinging to life; but because we know how dangerous 122nd is and we’ve endured these tragedies far too many times. According to crash statistics (which don’t begin to tell the tale) 122nd has four of the top ten most dangerous intersections and it’s one of only 13 streets citywide that’s earned a “high crash” designation for bikers, walkers, and drivers.

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SE 122nd and Stark, just north of the Midland Library crossing.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Crosswalks with yellow signs and flashing lights — like this one on 122nd near NE Stanton — are common responses to safety concerns. But are they enough?

For years now, advocates and city planners have been aware of the dangers posed by this neighborhood highway. In 2014, following his participation in a Pedalpalooza ride that took a closer look at its pitfalls, reporter Michael Andersen wrote an article titled, “What would it take to make 122nd Avenue great?

It’s not that PBOT doesn’t have plans to make 122nd better, it’s that the threat is growing faster than our efforts to mitigate it.

Just a few weeks ago I reported on a press conference a few miles north of tonight’s collision. Electeds and agency staff from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and TriMet made speeches and cut a ribbon on an early phase of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s 122nd Avenue Plan.

At that event, I could only shake my head with concern as I watched all sorts of dangerous driving behaviors unfold around a newly installed crosswalk with a beacon. After the event I spoke with a PBOT staff person and shared my thoughts that, while these incremental improvements are nice, it will take much more than a few flashing lights to tame drivers on 122nd. To make a real impact, we must encourage people to drive less by making transit and cycling more competitive and we need to directly constrain auto use by lowering speed limits and making dramatic changes to the profile and design of the road itself.

PBOT has millions set aside for 122nd and their goal to make it a more human, multimodal street is admirable. But I’m afraid it won’t be enough, soon enough.

For people who live, work, and play on and around the 122nd Avenue corridor, every day that passes is another day of hoping something terrible doesn’t happen to them. No one should have to live like that — especially when the solutions to the problem are so obvious.

“Didn’t know that living in outer SE would mean saying a prayer every time you cross the street,” wrote local resident Ana del Rocío on Twitter tonight in response to hearing the news. “What’s going on in this city?”

If you want to help PBOT make 122nd Avenue safer, they’re hosting an open house at Midland Library (805 SE 122nd Ave) on November 7th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. More info at their 122nd Avenue Plan website.

UPDATE, 12:06pm: According to Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Christopher Burley, the man who was driving the van has been cited for Careless Driving with Injury to Vulnerable Roadway User. The two victims’ injuries are now described as being, “serious but non-life-threatening.”

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

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Blood Road wins Emmy

Bike Hugger - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 19:41

I need to catch up with Rebecca Rusch about the Blood Road Emmy… like we’ve hung out and stuff, ridden together, got chased by wolves, but I didn’t see that coming.

It’s awesome.

Rebecca and Huyen Nguyen pedal 1,200 miles along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to reach the crash site and final resting place of Rebecca’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot who was shot down over Laos some 40 years earlier.

Last night, Rusch took home the prize (in Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction) for the 2017 documentary. It was produced by Red Bull Media.

VIDEO: The Emmy for Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction goes to @RedBullTV "Blood Road." #NewsEmmys pic.twitter.com/UMNbFCSqVp

— News & Doc Emmys (@newsemmys) October 2, 2018

Here she is celebrating.

Blood Road screenings are happening now and you can rent or buy the film from iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo, and Amazon.

The post Blood Road wins Emmy appeared first on Bike Hugger.

Islabikes to close US headquarters office and warehouse in Portland

Bike Portland - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 17:28

The busy warehouse as seen in June 2017.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland will no longer be the U.S. headquarters of Islabikes. In an announcement made this afternoon, the children’s bike company said they will close their southeast Portland office, showroom and warehouse.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s the official statement:

Islabikes has decided to close the US office in Portland, Oregon to focus energy on the UK and EU markets. During this voluntary liquidation we will sell all remaining stock of bikes, accessories and parts in the US. It’s bittersweet, but there are great discounts to be had before closing this fall. At this time we have not set a closing date.

If you are considering ordering for the Holidays, order now, as once they’re gone, they’re gone!

We really appreciate the support from our customers over the past 5 years. Thank you for all the photos and videos of your kids enjoying their Islabikes and the emails and phone calls describing family vacations and adventures; we have so enjoyed getting to be included in those experiences.

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To the kiddos: thank you for being brave, confident, sometimes scared, hilarious, charismatic, and eager to ride your bike! Thank you for asking so many questions about your bikes. Thank you for coming out to race at Kids Cross and to try out bikes in our showroom. Your excitement for riding bikes is contagious.

If you have questions, please contact us at info@islabikes.com or on 503 954 2410 between 9am – 5pm PT, Monday through Friday.

Happy riding,

Arielle, Ben, Carrie, Dan, Mollie and Tim.

This is a big surprise to us. Islabikes opened here in 2013 and appeared to be doing well. They have been huge supporters of the local racing scene by sponsoring kiddie cross and a number of other events. The company helped establish the market for high-quality children’s bikes.

Their absence will definitely be felt. Stay tuned for further developments. We’ll update this post if/when we hear more about what led to this news.

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

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Friday: SNG hosts evening presentation about Dutch cycling culture

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 15:57

“… but Seattle isn’t Amsterdam.”

You’ve probably heard this argument at some point as an excuse for why your town shouldn’t even try to build quality bike infrastructure. But half a century ago, death in traffic was rampant in the Netherlands just like the United States. Now they are among the safest in the world. How did they do it?

Well, there is a lot to unpack in that question, which is why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is hosting Vancouver’s Melissa and Chris Bruntlett Friday evening for a presentation and discussion called “Building the Cycling City: Dutch Lessons for Seattle” (Seattle Bike Blog is a sponsor). Tickets are sliding scale and benefit Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Buy them online.

If you can’t make the Friday event, you can catch Melissa and Chris Saturday morning during Bainbridge Island’s Open Streets Festival (stay tuned for more on that).

More details from SNG:

Building the Cycling City: Dutch Lessons for Seattle
An evening with Melissa & Chris Bruntlett

Please join us for a very special keynote presentation and community panel:

Friday, October 5, 2018, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Impact Hub Seattle
220 2nd Ave S, Main Event Space (1st floor, ADA accessible, bike storage available)

TICKETS

Tickets are sliding scale, $5 – $100, and on sale now:
https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/pbGj2T7q_l85eTWmKz23lg

Proceeds benefit nonprofit Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Please consider a solidarity ticket of $10 or more to support Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ critically needed work in support of safe and healthy streets citywide.

No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

ABOUT THE EVENT

Around the world, countries marvel at Dutch cycling culture and infrastructure while an unfortunate “that would never work here” attitude prevents real change from happening in most U.S. cities, including our own. But the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges as other car-clogged cities like Seattle, and their story is an important model for moving us toward a more human-scale, bike-friendly future.

Join Melissa and Chris Bruntlett for a fun, visual, and interactive discussion. They’ll share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, show how some of the ideas are already being adopted in global cities, and draw out concrete lessons for Seattle to follow their lead.

Following the Bruntletts’ inspiring, photo-rich presentation of what other cities are doing, a lively, solution-focused panel will bring the ideas home to Seattle and ask, “What will it really take to get there?”

The event is scheduled for Friday, October 5th, 5:00-7:00pm at the main event space in Impact Hub Seattle. Thanks to our amazing food and beverage sponsors, we’ll have fantastic beer from Peddler Brewing, fine wine from Eleven Winery, substantive appetizers, delicious coffee & desserts from Convoy Coffee, and time for socializing!

Event webpage: http://seattlegreenways.org/cyclingcity

Tualatin-Valley Hwy claimed two more lives yesterday

Bike Portland - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 13:52

Photo from crash scene where a man was hit by an SUV operator as he tried to walk across TV Highway yesterday.
(Beaverton PD)

One of our region’s most dangerous urban highways claimed two more victims in separate crashes yesterday.

At 3:28 am, the Beaverton Police Department says 28-year-old Uriel Santiago-Sarabia tried to walk southbound across Tualatin-Valley Highway west of 160th when he was involved in a collision with someone driving a Cadillac Escalade. After the initial collision, Mr. Santiago-Sarabia was then hit by two other drivers. The initial person who made contact with him stayed at the scene to help and police are still looking for drivers of the other two vehicles, thought to be a large truck and a sedan.

Photo of crash scene where Jim McGauvran was hit and killed.

Then at 9:15 pm, 28-year-old Jim McGauvran was hit while biking on TV Highway just east of SW 331st Avenue. According to a Washington County Sheriff statement, McGauvran was, “riding a BMX bicycle in the middle of the roadway” prior to being struck by a 55-year-old man who was driving a Jeep. The Sheriff’s office also states that McGauvran wasn’t wearing a helmet and that his bicycle was not equipped with lights (note: Oregon law does not require adults to wear helmets). McGauvran was transported to the hospital in critical condition and he died several hours later.

No citations were issued in either of these collisions.

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Wide and straight: the classic profile of a deadly highway.

TV Highway (Oregon Route 8) is owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation and serves as a critical link to everyday destinations for people who live and work in the 16-mile stretch between Beaverton and Forest Grove. Unfortunately it’s also a well-known to safety advocates and planners as a danger zone. According to ODOT crash data (reported in Metro’s 2018 Regional Transportation Safety Strategy) there were 55 serious crashes on the eight-mile section between Cedar Hills Blvd and Canyon Road between 2010 and 2014, making it one of the top “High Injury Corridors” in the region.

In 2014 The Street Trust (then the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) made a safer TV Highway one of their five top priorities. They hired a Washington County-based staffer, Lisa Frank, who organized residents along the corridor to speak up for a project that would bring combination of protected bike lanes or off-street trail segments.

The Street Trust’s campaign for TV Highway seems to have ended in June 2016 when Frank left the organization (the link goes to a 404 error page). According to a blog post, Frank said their campaign resulted in, “multiple pedestrian crossings throughout the corridor, better bikeways, and sidewalk improvements.” Progress has also been made on a future rails-to-trails project that parallels the highway between Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, and Banks.

Reached today for comment, The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said, “These are terrible tragedies. We strongly believe these deaths were not inevitable and TV Highway must be redesigned to protect vulnerable road users.” Detweiler also directed me to Washington County’s latest effort dubbed, Moving Forward TV Highway, which she says has several goals that The Street Trust helped elevate. It’s also no coincidence that The Street Trust’s new 501(c)4 “action fund” chose to endorse a candidate for Washington County Chair — a move Detweiler said came as a direct result of their experience with advocacy in the area.

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

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