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PPB Traffic Division Sgt. on Ladd Circle: ‘We don’t want to do more enforcement’

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 13:28

GIF made from Sgt. Engstrom’s video.

I want to clear a few things up about the recent kerfluffle around Ladd Circle.

Turns out the Portland Police Bureau is anything but eager to do more enforcement. That’s what Traffic Division Sgt. Ty Engstrom shared with me in a phone conversation today.

First, let’s recap: On Tuesday, the PPB issued a statement and shared a video about the lack of stop sign compliance by people who ride and drive through Ladd Circle. The statement included a video of people blowing dangerously through the stop signs (as you can see above, one person rides through just as another person steps into the crosswalk). The behaviors were taking place at intersections where we’ve covered the exact same problem several times since 2007. The statement also said, in response to multiple complaints from nearby residents, that the PPB plans to do enforcement missions. A mention of last year’s fatality statistics and the city’s Vision Zero efforts further tied Ladd Circle to the PPB’s ongoing safety concerns.

Unfortunately, the statement didn’t fully capture the agency’s thoughts and intentions on this sensitive issue.

Not surprisingly, many people responded with anger and frustration. And with good reason. Ladd Circle is a relatively safe place. It’s not on any of the city’s Vision Zero or High Crash Network lists. And the design of this circle is terrible. The stop signs should be yield signs. In 2007 we shared a letter from City of Portland traffic engineer Scott Batson stating as much, where he explained the agency’s only reason for not doing it was the lack of recorded crashes and funding. “At this time, resources to devote to improvements where no clear safety benefit will result do not compete well with other capital improvement projects,” stated Batson.

The circle.

That brings me to my conversation with PPB Traffic Division Sgt. Ty Engstrom earlier today. Sgt. Engstrom is on the Vision Zero Task Force, is a self-described “avid cyclist” who’s on a racing team, and he works with traffic safety advocates all the time.

PPB Traffic Division Sgt. Ty Engstrom.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Sgt. Engstrom didn’t write the PPB statement that our story was based on, but it did come from his notes and concerns. He told me on the phone he appreciated the BikePortland post and he was happy the issue was being talked about.

On the phone today, he shared more background and explained his perspective more clearly. Keep in mind that Sgt. Engstrom used to commute by bike himself through Ladd Circle everyday. Here’s what he said:

“Anytime someone fills out a TRACK-it or 823-SAFE request [the City’s system for filing public traffic safety concerns], I go through all of those. I triage them based on what our goals are — whether it’s Vision Zero, High Crash Network streets, fatal crashes — because we’re short-staffed and I can’t send my officers everywhere. I’m trying to do as much as I can, with the resources I have, and I’m trying to think outside the box. To be creative.

I don’t want to go down there [Ladd Circle] with a bunch of cops and make a bunch of stops. I’ve done that before. I’ve been through all that… And it’s really more of a headache than anything. We just end up with a bunch of complaints!

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Recently I’ve gone down there on my own about three or four times. I just set my motorcycle out there with the emergency lights on and wait. A lot of people will run the stop sign and I just shout out to them, ‘Hey that’s a stop sign!’.

I know that Ladd Circle and that whole neighborhood is not where we’re having the big crashes or fatalities. However, it is a neighborhood with a lot of people that want to walk their kids to school, and to enjoy walking in their neighborhood.

The original complaint this time came from someone who lives near the corner where there’s a marked crosswalk and a bus stop and people walking kids to Abernethy School [a few blocks away]. Bicyclists and cars come up to that intersection, they look left to see if anyone’s coming, then they make the turn. That’s the kind of thing that can be dangerous.

We’ve had two recent fatalities that were at very slow speeds [he was referring to one on Burnside and 55th in December and the one at SW Salmon and Park]. Both involved pedestrians who died as a result of the secondary impact of the fall and hitting their head on the ground. If someone gets hit here, even at slow speeds, maybe they’re older and a bit more fragile, and suddenly we have a fatal crash.

What’s more telling to me is that this is an area where a lot of bicycles commute through. I used to commute through there on my bicycle. There are a lot of bikes, and the behavior they’re exercising here is indicative of the type of behavior throughout the rest of the city — in areas that may involve High Crash Corridor streets or more dangerous conditions.

My goal with putting out a statement was to get the word out to as many people as possible. I’ve been talking to The Street Trust to PBOT, to all of them, to hopefully correct some behavior. I don’t want to do another mission out there. I really don’t. But we need to make sure people change their behaviors. We had too many fatals last year.

I’m on a bike racing team. I’m out riding a lot. I know it’s aggravating to stop at all the stop signs… But I go to too many of these fatal crashes that involve all modes of transportation. If we can in anyway project messages to people to be more careful. That’s all I want to do. I’ve had to get creative with low staffing levels and I’m totally all about doing whatever we can — before enforcement.

I hope this helps clarify the intentions of the PPB around this issue. I also hope we can make some progress on this issue.

Regardless of whether there are “Stop” or “Yield” signs — we all have the responsibility to use utmost caution and good judgment as we go through these intersections. Please always ride and drive with respect for others. And pass it on!

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

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Adventures in Activism: How one Portlander made the route to his daughter’s school safer

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 11:02

Car stopped at no parking sign in front of Bridlemile Elementary School in southwest Portland.
(Photos: David Stein)

Publisher’s note: This post is by southwest Portland resident David Stein. He shares the story behind a local project he worked on as part of the much-heralded PSU Traffic & Transportation Class. It’s a great example of how to identify and tackle a nagging street safety problem and we hope it’s an inspiration to some of you. Stein is also a member of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee.

As a student project in the Portland State University Traffic and Transportation course, I decided to try improving a safe route to Bridlemile Elementary in southwest. In the class we’re told, “You have a PhD in your neighborhood,” and the leaders encourage us to make Portland a better place through a class project.

My PhD is in the Bridlemile neighborhood. I’ve lived there for over six years and have been active in the Bridlemile Neighborhood Association (including over three years on the Board of Directors and two as chair). For my project, I chose to improve SW 47th Drive, because my daughter goes to Bridlemile Elementary School. With only one road for entering and exiting the school, and Hamilton Park next door, traffic on SW 47th Drive can be challenging for everyone. Combining school busses, parents dropping off kids, and kids riding their bikes or walking to school with normal neighborhood and park traffic leads to a daily exercise in controlled chaos. Safety hazards include dangerous U-turns, reduced visibility due to parked cars and an underutilized traffic circle.

Here’s a map I created for my project presentation that lays out all the issues:

Seeing the chaos first-hand while walking my daughter to school last February as these issues were also being raised in BNA meetings, was eye-opening. There had recently been advocacy work around other projects for Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) due to funding from the Fixing Our Streets program that was being allocated at the time. Improving SW 47th Drive didn’t make the cut for that funding. However, there was enough community interest to put together a meeting for a variety of stakeholders later that month. So that’s what we did.

A group of residents, the school principal, representatives from the neighborhood association, and Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Safe Routes staff met on a rainy morning to walk through the issues that were engineered into the roadway. Following this encouraging meeting everything was quiet – updates were sparse.

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New crosswalk at SW 44th!

With the start of the 2018-19 school year it was time to check back into the project and try to see what could be done to get some changes implemented. As luck would have it, the principal was already in contact with several nearby residents on this project and the Traffic and Transportation course would be an ideal conduit to see what could be done.

PBOT didn’t grant our request to make this an official sign.

After that, I went through the course’s iterative process of identifying the project, coming up with solutions (in line with what had officially been requested following the aforementioned walkthrough), and then contacting city officials. The last step was critical as PBOT was working behind the scenes on improvements to the road and had made a request to enable the installation of a marked crosswalk. During this process I was also in touch with the school and neighbors to keep them informed. After notifying the principal of the hang-up with the marked crosswalk, things moved quickly. There was a flurry of activity as details of the changes were announced. After some community input, several ‘No Parking or Stopping’ signs were installed along with a brand new crosswalk. In addition, there were lengthy explanations of some requested changes that weren’t implemented so everyone could understand the degree of consideration that went into this process.

And if you’re curious, I should mention that “No U turn” signs in low-volume residential areas are considered by PBOT to be ineffective, no matter how many times people request them (we requested them several times).

As a result of this project kids are safer going to and from Bridlemile Elementary School and Hamilton Park, on SW 47th Drive. The new crosswalk and marked car free areas improve visibility and make it clear that people on foot are in the area.

After going through this process, here are some key takeaways:

➤ Consistent communication is important for any project, and regular check-ins can help keep the project moving.

➤ Contact information is publicly available online and phone calls can be surprisingly productive. There were no secret handshakes or unlisted phone numbers required to make this project happen.

➤ Having an organized coalition within the neighborhood actually helped PBOT, since they don’t have the staffing or determination to push through a small project like this if there is resistance.

➤ There’s a need for long-term education and outreach for the traffic changes implemented by this project. It will take some time for parents to get used to dropping their kids off a bit further away from the school. Messages have been sent from the school about the changes though compliance is still lagging.

➤ One reason this project was implemented so quickly was the promise of having crossing guards, which are now in place before and after school which also serve to calm traffic.

➤ Finally framing this as a Safe Routes to Schools project definitely helped to get this prioritized within PBOT. BNA has improved communication with PBOT as knowledge of their programs, funding models, and internal priorities has become better known.

It’s been a few months now since these updates were completed. The new crossing is now staffed with a parent or staff member (including the principal at times) to assist kids and parents crossing the street. Compliance with the signage and road markings has improved as people became more aware of the changes (staffing of the crosswalk has helped with drop-off in the morning). It’s still not perfect, though there is a significant improvement in the traffic flow and feeling of safety for kids getting to and from school.

Finally, this project was the result of many people who put in a lot of time before, during, and after the actual project implementation. Without the help of Ryan Bass, Kurt Haapala, Carlos Hernandez, Brad Pearson, Lale Santelices, and many other dedicated people, this project would not have been possible.

[We hope you found David’s experience helpful and inspiring. Below is a PDF of his class presentation.]

PTTC - A Safe Route to School

— David Stein

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Weekend Event Guide: Caddyshack, Clara Honsinger at Worlds, Belmont Goats, and more

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/31/2019 - 08:58

Portland resident Clara Honsinger’s (Team S&M CX) dream season continues at the World Championships in Denmark and a local cafe is hosting a viewing party so you can cheer her on.
(Photo: Drew Coleman)

Time to put together your weekend plans.

Whether you like cyclocross or not, you’ve got to be excited and inspired by the season of Team S&M CX cyclocross rider Clara Honsinger. She just keeps getting better and better. Last weekend at a very challenging UCI World Cup race she went from a start of around 40th place to finish 19th. 19th! That’s against the very best racers in the world. And she was the 2nd place Under-23 rider. On Saturday Sunday, Honsinger will look to close out her big season with a strong showing in the U23 race at the World Championships in Denmark. If you’re not lucky enough to be there in person, roll over to Breadwinner Cafe on Williams Avenue where they’ll open early to see the live feed.

And that’s just one of the great ideas we’ve got for you. Check out all of our upcoming event picks below…

Friday, February 1st

Portland E-Scooter Experience Seminar – 11:30 am at PSU Karl Miller Center (SW)
The Transportation Research & Education Center at Portland State University invites you to a special brown-bag seminar to learn and discuss more about our city’s experience with e-scooters. Delve into data with PBOT staff and share questions and insights with some of the smartest people in town. More info here.

Movie Night at Breadwinner Cafe – 5:30 pm (N)
Warm up with friends and watch the classic Breaking Away in the cozy cafe adjacent to Breadwinner Cycles on Williams Ave. More info here.

Kidical Mass 2019 Planning Meeting – 6:30 pm at Books With Pictures (SE)
What collaborations, initiatives, routes, and other fun things do you want to help Kidical Mass with this year? Bring your notebook of ideas and help local organizers plan the biggest and best year ever. More info here.

Saturday, February 2nd

Plant Trees by Bike – 8:30 am at St. Johns Christian Church (N)
Friends of Trees needs your help planting trees in several north Portland neighborhoods. This is a great way to do something nice for the planet, meet great people and help build our community. More info here.

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Endless Summer Saturdays Club Roule Ride – 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at Crema (NE)
I’ve been watching this weekly ride from afar and the turnout and vibe looks really strong. It’s a nice intermediate pace that appeals to a lot of riders. Expect 25-30 miles with a good dose of climbing. More info here.

Caddyshack Ride – 12:00 pm at I-205 bike path just south of Marine Drive (NE)
This annual classic promises lots of smiles, socializing and discovery of backroad routes next to local golf courses in honor of Bill Murray. The lunch stop at the gold club is reason alone to give this a try. Led by none other than Maria “Bike Kitty” Schur! More info here.

Sunday, February 3rd

Cyclocross World Championship Viewing Party – 6:00 am (Saturday and Sunday) at Breadwinner Cafe (N)
Come and root for Portland’s Clara Honsinger as she battles on the world stage at the Championships in Bogense, Denmark. Clara placed an amazing 19th place overall and 2nd in the U23 category last weekend! Cafe will be open early for viewing both days. More info here.

Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee (NW)
Portland’s premiere weekend training ride will take you out to the legendary island, up the west hills, and back into town. Expect the group to split and to find new riding buddies. More info here.

Belmont Goats Ride – 10:00 am at NE 96th and Sandy
A Portland Wheelmen Touring Club ride leader will take you on a relaxed jaunt to see the new home of the infamous Belmont Goats. There will be a bakery/coffee stop at the Panera on Hayden Island. 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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Crater Lake, Dufur, and Independence star in 31st annual Cycle Oregon rides

Bike Portland - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 20:01

The mythical Crater Lake is back in the Cycle Oregon line-up for 2019.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The annual reveal party for the 31st annual Cycle Oregon routes was held at the Portland Art Museum tonight. Hundreds of fans of the rides gathered to hear which rural communities they’ll be sleeping in and riding through if they’re lucky enough to participate in the weeklong “Classic”, the two-day “Gravel”, or the one-day “Joyride”.

Cycle Oregon will run three events this year after. (The Weekender has been put on hold.)

Beyond great rides, Cycle Oregon’s nonprofit mission is to “transform individuals and communities through bicycling.” Since their founding in 1988 the Cycle Oregon Fund (where ride proceeds are deposited) has awarded more than 300 grants worth $2.2 million to small towns throughout our state. And the support of rural towns doesn’t end there. Each year Cycle Oregon provides about $175,000 to host towns in exchange for fields to sleep in, volunteers to help set up tents, and so on. The organization also hires local event organizers and service providers, and buys food from local farmers. And the riders themselves spend, on average, $250 in local communities during the weeklong Classic ride.

And there’s something about doing this ride that you can’t put a price on: getting to know what rural life — and the people who live it — are like. A lot is said about the urban/rural divide in Oregon and this bike ride is a relatively small, yet powerful way to help build bridges.

I wasn’t at the kickoff event this year, but I’ve got all the details for the three big events.

Here’s what’s in store…

Classic (September 7-14)

For 2019, Cycle Oregon’s flagship, seven-day ride lives up to its ‘Classic’ name with its return to Central Oregon, where cyclists will be immersed in some of the state’s most iconic and stunning natural landscapes. The loop, which is 430 miles, plus an additional 60-mile option, includes the majestic Cascade Mountains, three of the country’s most scenic rivers and Crater Lake — the sapphire jewel of Oregon’s only national park.

Total distance: 490 miles (without Crater Lake option: 430.3 miles) Total elevation gain: 30,656 feet (without Crater Lake option: 24,186 feet

CycleOregon.com/ride/classic

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Now in its second year, Cycle Oregon’s GRAVEL ride lets cyclists experience the challenges and scenic beauty of gravel road riding while being fully supported, Cycle Oregonstyle. This year’s ride, which is limited to just 500 riders, is based out of the historic farming town of Dufur, Oregon, in the sunny eastern Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The route features a combination of gravel and paved roads to explore the stunning expanses of high prairie and the forested foothills of Mount Hood. Riders will get views of wildflowers, wheat fields, and Mount Hood and Mount Adams around nearly every corner.

Total distance day 1: Long: 65.3 miles (47% gravel, 53% pavement), 5,061 feet of elevation gain – Short: 31.8 miles (67% gravel, 33% pavement), 2,140 feet of elevation gain

Total distance day 2: Long: 63 miles (53% gravel, 47% pavement), 5,216 feet of elevation gain – Short: 33.2 miles (61% gravel, 39% pavement), 3,118 feet of elevation gain

CycleOregon.com/ride/gravel

Joyride (June 22)

Cycle Oregon’s one-day celebration of women and bikes is heading to Independence, Oregon, in the heart of the scenic Willamette Valley. Women cyclists of all ages and all ranges of experience can choose among three different fully supported rides (18, 40 and 64 miles) amongst rolling hills, orchards, vineyards and wide-open farmlands—and return to delicious, locally sourced food and libations, plus live bands. New for 2019 is the option to add a gravel road section to the medium and long rides.

Ride stats:
Short: 17.8 miles (188 feet of elevation gain)
Medium: 39.9 miles (1,080 feet of elevation gain)
Medium with gravel option: 36.3 miles (1,013 feet of elevation gain), 6 miles of gravel road
Long: 63.6 miles (2,113 feet of elevation gain)
Long with gravel option: 63.0 miles (2,213 feet of elevation gain), 6.9 miles of gravel road

CycleOregon.com/ride/joyride

This looks like a great line-up. Fingers crossed that the government is open in September. If not, the riding around Crater Lake could really stink (it’s a National Park and it was closed earlier this year due in part to surplus human waste).

Is Cycle Oregon in your plans this year?

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

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Bike News Roundup: Batman parks in a bike lane

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 13:49

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the stuff floating around the web that caught my eye recently.

First up! Seattle Police tweeted this the other day:

SPD PRO TIP: Bike lanes are for bikes. #SeattleSqueeze #Realign99 pic.twitter.com/mAcvk6wWLS

— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) January 30, 2019

Pacific Northwest News

Halftime Show! Bellevue and King County Metro have partnered to trial a quick and easy method to create a bus island with a protected bike lane. Check it out (starts at 4:50):

National & Global News

This is an open thread.

First look at TriMet’s new Bike & Ride parking at Goose Hollow

Bike Portland - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 13:00

The new facility is tucked behind the existing waiting area.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Goose Hollow MAX light rail station in southwest Portland has more cycling activity than any other one in TriMet’s system. That’s not surprising given that it’s at the bottom of a hill and along a major commuter corridor that connects downtown to the west side and Washington County.

Once it’s open, just tap your Hop card to get in.

To get a better handle on those bikes and to encourage people to not take them on crowded trains, TriMet has installed a new, state-of-the-art “Bike & Ride” station at Goose Hollow that is almost ready for use. As a TriMet bike planner shared with us in 2017, the new bike parking structure was funded with a grant from the State of Oregon.

“This station provides a critical connection for east-west trips,” a TriMet spokesperson shared with us this morning. “We’re looking forward to opening the secure areas of our new bike and rides to help broaden mobility options throughout our region. In the meantime, riders are welcome to use parking that is available outside the cages at Beaverton Creek and Goose Hollow, which is within the coverage of our security cameras.”

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Squeezed into a tight space behind the existing waiting area for eastbound MAX trains, the new Bike & Ride at Goose Hollow has space for 30 bikes: 16 on racks inside a structure and 14 on staple racks outside. To keep bikes safe from thieves, there’s a security camera in place. What makes this parking special (along with two similar structures currently being built at Beaverton Creek and Gateway transit centers) is that users can simply tap their Hop Fastpass card on the door to gain entry.

TriMet encourages riders to keep bikes off trains during peak commute hours. As bike parking facilities get better and more secure, TriMet hopes people will start to keep a “station bike” at the Bike & Ride. “With secure parking at a Bike & Ride or in an electronic bike locker, you can park your bike overnight, then take a bus or train to the transit center and finish your commute by bike,” reads a tip on the TriMet website. “You get the fun and exercise of biking to work or school, without the hassle of hauling it back and forth on MAX every day.”

For more on using bikes on the TriMet system, check out TriMet.org/bikes.

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

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Here are the latest proposals for the NW Flanders Bikeway and carfree bridge

Bike Portland - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 11:17

Proposal for NW Flanders approaching Broadway, looking west.

One of the projects we’re most excited to follow this year is a complete remake of NW Flanders Street into a low-stress bikeway between Naito Parkway and NW 24th. And yes, it will come with a new carfree bridge over I-405. We can hardly wait! Since there’s been significant progress on them recently, I figured it was time for a check-in.

A continuous, (hopefully) high-quality, east-west bikeway that connects such a large number of housing units, jobs, and destinations has vast implications for our city. If we get it right, it could become a marquee project and serve as a blueprint for how Portland can move the needle on transportation and a whole host of other issues (public health, climate change, equity, community-building, air quality, affordability, economic development, and so on) that great cycling infrastructure intersects with.

The Flanders Bikeway

Flanders at Broadway, looking west.

The NW Flanders Bikeway project launched last fall and PBOT has made considerable progress. It’ll probably be summer before the design and outreach process is complete, and construction isn’t slated until 2020; but proposals are out and things are beginning to take shape.

Proposed traffic diversion elements east of I-405.

NW Marshall at 10th.

Between I-405 and Waterfront Park PBOT has proposed six sections where car drivers will be allowed to go only one-way. This “converging one-way” design is an attempt to divert auto users off of Flanders and/or discourage them from using it at all. Where drivers will only have one direction of travel, the bikeway will be either shared (in same direction of auto travel) or via a protected “contra-flow” bike lane.

This isn’t an entirely new design for PBOT. They’ve already installed one block of it on NW Marshall between 10th and 11th (right).

These one-ways are in addition to the proposal to extend the North Park Blocks across the street between NW Park and 8th, which will create a dead-end for drivers.

Here’s how the converging one-way proposal looks so far (click to enlarge, and note the proposed curb extension on 14th and elsewhere):

PBOT’s “converging one-way” design.

West of I-405, PBOT has proposed a full closure for drivers across NW 17th in order to provide a safer entrance to the Flanders Crossing Bridge. There would be a new traffic signal at 16th to get people onto the bridge (and a new signal at 14th) Here’s the image and copy they’ve used in outreach documents to explain the idea:

There would be another semi-diverter at 21st.

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--> The Flanders Crossing Bridge

This $6.4 million bridge will be the centerpiece of the bikeway. With construction slated for late 2019, it will hopefully be done around the same time as the bikeway. We’ve covered the bridge a lot in the past so see the archives for all the background. Today we want to share the most recent drawing and proposals. As you can see in the drawing above, bicycle users will be in the middle two lanes and walkers will use sidewalks on the edges. When we last wrote about the design the space was going to be split equally with four, six-foot wide lanes. The sidewalk will be separated by a mountable curb or some other material.

Here’s a look at how the bridge integrates with the bikeway (the green lines on the left are the NW 17th element we mentioned above):

Because the bridge and its connections to the bikeway are located in such a dense street grid with freeway ramps and lanes nearby, PBOT has had to do quite a bit of wrangling with ODOT to come up with an acceptable plan. There are still operational issues to hammer out, but here are the other elements of the projects that PBOT is proposing to help make it it all fit together (an expanded view of the graphic above).

This is all very exciting. Of course the plans could change depending on how the outreach process goes. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in.

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

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With video of lawbreakers, PPB will increase focus on infamous Ladd Circle stop sign

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 15:42

Stop sign entering Ladd Circle.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

UPDATE, 1/31: Please read this update where I give Traffic Division Sgt. Ty Engstrom the opportunity to clarify and expand on his concerns about this issue.

Here we go again.

The Portland Police Bureau just released a statement saying they’ll step up education and enforcement efforts around Ladd Circle because road users are not coming to a stop and watching for others before rolling through.

Here’s the statement:

After receiving multiple community complaints about motorists and cyclists failing to heed stop signs and endangering pedestrians in the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division responded to assess the situation. Sergeant Ty Engstrom of the Traffic Division observed the area and also the practice of most motorists and cyclists failing to come to a complete stop as required by law at the intersections.

The Ladd’s Addition intersections are roundabouts with one-way traffic and many of the motorists and cyclists, in addition to failing to stop, are also not looking to their right to check for pedestrians who have the right of way. This puts vulnerable pedestrians at risk. This residential neighborhood has a high amount of pedestrian traffic as adults, children, and pets travel on foot.

Sergeant Ty Engstrom determined this was an opportunity to educate the public about the dangers of this behavior. The Traffic Division plans to follow the public education with enforcement missions to highlight the dangers of failing to heed the rules of the road.

In 2018, there were 34 fatalities on Portland roadways and of those 18 were pedestrians. So far in 2019, there have been 3 fatalities and 2 have been pedestrians. The Portland Police Bureau asks for the community’s help in reducing traffic fatalities by following the rules of the road and being aware of pedestrians.

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The City of Portland has adopted a program called Vision Zero with the goal of reducing the number of serious-injury and fatal crashes to zero by 2025. Sergeant Engstrom reminds us, “Not all fatal and serious-injury crashes are at high speeds. In fact, some are at very low speeds. Please slow down and obey the law, no matter what mode of transportation you use.” The Portland Police Bureau will be following up to educate, then enforce traffic codes in the Ladd’s Addition area in the coming weeks.

The PPB also released this short video which clearly shows several bicycle riders failing to comply with the stop sign.

It’s unfortunate that people aren’t being more considerate and careful when entering the circle. It’s equally unfortunate that after well over a decade we seem to have made no progress on this issue.

Yes it was in 2007 that we first covered enforcement of the Ladd Circle stop signs. Back then it was the exact same issue: Residents complained about it and police responded. And then advocates became outraged that, given all the much more serious traffic safety concerns plaguing our city, our precious police resources where being wasted on such a relatively safe intersection.

Also in 2007 we shared a statement from the Portland Bureau of Transportation saying that the solution to this issue is a redesign of the circle so we can remove the stops signs altogether.

In the meantime, I encourage everyone who enters Ladd Circle to be respectful, slow down and look for oncoming traffic and people on the sidewalk before rolling through.

Here is additional coverage of this issue from our archives:
Police report on Ladds Circle enforcement (4/12/07)
Police target Ladds for educational mission (7/22/08)
Ladds stop sign ‘trip-wire’ incident garners headlines (7/22/10)
Ladd Circle stop sign issue heating up again (6/27/11)
Video shows extremely low compliance at Ladd Circle stop signs (6/28/11)
Solution for Ladd Circle stop sign issue? Cookies (7/1/11)
Neighbors distribute survey to help fix Ladd Circle traffic problems (10/18/11)
Police enforcement at Ladd Circle, N Flint ruffles feathers once again (8/30/12)
Stop! Police will target Ladd Circle stop sign violators today (9/18/13)
Southeast Portland elementary warns parents about unsafe cycling near school (3/1/16)

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

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Better Block’s annual request for proposals is your chance to be an urbanism superhero

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 13:05

It’s that time of year when Portland’s tactical urbanist group Better Block PDX considers your requests on how best to re-invent streets and public spaces.

What is Better Block? Inspired by a national nonprofit, it’s a group founded in 2013 by volunteer planners, engineers, students and activists. Among their accomplishments is lighting the fires under the Portland Bureau of Transportation that led the agency to construct the SW 3rd Ave/Ankeny Street plaza and Better Naito just to name a few. Their approach is simple, yet profound: To create temporary “pop-up projects” that re-imagine streets and public spaces to be human-centered, inviting and fun. When done correctly, these exciting pop-ups might even become permanent (as was the case with the two aforementioned examples).

The official opening date for the 2019 BBPDX RFP begins this Friday February 1st and runs through March 1st. According to BBPDX, “The projects selected will go through Portland State University’s Project Pathway program where urban planning, civil engineering, and communication students produce public engagement, traffic analysis, and design plans for the projects.” In other words, they can take your idea and vision and turn it into reality.

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View the RFP below:

RFP-Draft-1-25.2

When you’re ready to submit your idea, you’ll need to write up an outline, demonstrate community support, have an idea of success metrics, and sketch up a rough site plan.

Projects suitable for the RFP include: community events, block parties, street seats and parklets, pedestrian plazas, bicycle facilities, open streets, pop-up crosswalks, and signane. Good pop-up projects will have a community engagement component, need limited resources for implementation, and attract attention, curiosity, and conversations.

The submission form is available online.

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

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Family Biking: No, you don’t need an e-bike (but you’d love having one)

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 11:50

On a rental e-bike in the summer of 2016.
(Photo: Cory Poole)

Last week’s profile of the carfree Kurten family sparked some great comments about e-bikes. In the near future, I’ll write about various types of e-assists, where to test ride, rent, buy, and have them serviced. But today I’m going to write about the opposite: not having an e-bike.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I got the impression some readers think it’s impossible to be a carfree family without an e-bike and I’d like to counter that it is possible, plus I’m not the only one doing it. However, it’s not for everyone, which is exactly why e-bikes — and e-cargo-bikes in particular — are so amazing for families who want to live car-lite or carfree.

I’m nothing special, but I have spent a decade working towards my current status of being carfree with 150 pounds of kids. Read how I’ve carried my kids by bike for the past 10 years and you’ll see I’ve been biking with my kids since they were tiny and totable. I was able to ever-so-gradually build muscle, confidence, and stubbornness; and the kids were able to grow up learning getting everywhere on bikes is an ordinary thing. Babies and toddlers are so little, light, and portable, and many conveniently grow into kids who will ride their own bikes right around the time they become too hefty to carry easily. Before e-assists were commonly available (I didn’t even know there was such a thing when I upgraded from my regular bike to a cargo bike seven years ago), I followed in the footsteps of the biking families with kids older than mine:

➤ Parent carries kid(s) for as long as possible, weight- and size-wise.
➤ Kid(s) ride their own bike(s) if the roads/distances are kid-friendly enough, or
➤ The family switches to using a tandem bike or two.

In countries where “8-80” bike infrastructure is a reality, tandem bikes aren’t part of the family biking trajectory, but in a pre-e-assist America, they sure were. One thing parents noticed as they graduated from limo driver to bike train leader is that their range drastically decreased, and that is something e-bikes have done away with.

The only time my kids have been up Rocky Butte is the time we rented an e-bike.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

In addition to the years of experience with wee cargo, I’ve always preferred to live hyperlocally and that plays well with not having an e-assist. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest and having kids, I lived in San Diego. I liked how self-contained my neighborhood of Pacific Beach was: I rode my beach cruiser to everything — grocery stores, library, doctor, dentist, beach, bars, friends’ houses — except I drove 10 freeway miles to my two jobs in Sorrento Valley. That love of biking to things close to home was always there and has only grown over time.

Carrying a sick 90-pound kid four miles home from school isn’t my favorite thing to do, but it works!
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

Like Pacific Beach, Portland is well-suited to getting around by bike. We don’t live close-in, the closest we could get was between Woodstock and Mt. Scott, but it’s flat out here! Having moved here from hilly Seattle (also good for biking, but not as good as here), it’s a dream. My children attend neighborhood schools, which last year meant I biked one flat mile there and one flat mile back twice a day to escort them both to the same elementary school, but this year the two-school commute has me biking 20 flattish miles each day. And while they’re at school I mainly work from home, though sometimes from coffee shops, and sometimes out of the house leading bike tours.

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For me, it really comes down to the fact that I don’t have an e-bike because I haven’t replaced a car. Caveat: I’m currently able-bodied and capable of getting around with pedal-power alone, carrying one or two kids on occasion, but I know that won’t always be the case and I fully expect to invest in an e-assisted cargo bike if and when any of the three of us becomes less able-bodied because I don’t ever want to own a car again. But in the meantime, I’ve been able to set myself up with a bike-based life rather than a car-based life. What exactly does this mean? Well:

The bike-based life
➤ Things are not car distance away or timed such that the distance must be traversed at car speed.
➤ Therefore, my backup plan does not need to be a car.
➤ If my bike were to break, or were myself or one of the kids unable to bike, we would not be stuck with our only alternative being a car of some sort (rental, taxi, ride from friend).
➤ Walking and busing are options for all our destinations and our bikes simply make things quicker, easier, and a lot more fun.

Obviously, I’m privileged that I can live such a life. Not everyone can live like this, and not everyone should live like this. I like to think when people see us biking around as a family, whether or not they can see my bike doesn’t have an e-assist (which is never a mystery if I’m on even the smallest incline) a seed is planted and they’ll wonder if they can’t bike or walk more, too.

What are your thoughts on e-bikes? Has your thinking changed over time? I’m relieved that fewer people (though one commenter last week) think of e-bikes as “cheating” these days. Thanks for reading!

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if that sounds like fun. 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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New Columbia/Lombard Mobility Plan an opportunity to unlock massive potential

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/29/2019 - 10:45

Typical conditions on NE Columbia Blvd are so stressful that bicycle users — if they attempt to ride there at all — often seek refuge on the sidewalk.
(Photo: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has launched the Columbia/Lombard Mobility Corridor Plan.

Plan focus area in grey.
(Graphic: PBOT)

If it succeeds, the plan could hasten development of infrastructure projects that expand biking, walking and transit access to major destinations like the Portland International Airport, Oregon Humane Society, and Cully Park, as well as tens of thousands of industrial, middle-wage jobs in the corridor. The outcome of the plan will be to create a prioritized list of projects for future funding and develop a safety strategy.

Currently, NE Columbia Blvd and NE Lombard St between I-5 and I-205 are wide, dangerous, high-speed, arterials. They are incomplete, outdated streets that serve only people using cars and trucks. With better transit service, protected bike lanes, safer crossings, and other updates, Portland could unlock massive benefits that will help us reach our safety, public health, transportation, equity, economic development and climate change goals.

According to the plan’s website, over the next 18 months PBOT and an advisory committee will, “Identify, develop, and prioritize improvements that would make multimodal transportation and freight movement safer and more efficient along the corridor.” Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan has already identified this area as a “mobility corridor,” which is supposed to “function well for all modes of transportation”. If you’ve ever tried to bike or walk in this area, you know we are nowhere close to meeting that standard.

When a group of riders tried to cross Columbia during a ride this past summer, a truck driver roared up behind and honked his horn menacingly as if they didn’t belong there.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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The good news is PBOT seems to already have a solid handle of the problems that currently exist. Here’s what they’ve listed on the plan website:

A lack of separation between modes, outdated roadway designs, and sub-standard infrastructure have led to major safety issues on both Columbia and Lombard. Both streets are on the designated Vision Zero High Crash Network because of high crash rates, especially those involving motor vehicles.

The pedestrian and bicycle networks have major gaps and deficiencies and transit service is currently very limited, which means most commuters or visitors are reliant on personal vehicles that add to traffic congestion and increase cost of living.

Residents of nearby neighborhoods in Northeast Portland have difficulty accessing jobs, parks, and services in the area due to widely spaced and difficult connections across the corridor.

Proposed TriMet bus service on Columbia Blvd would be difficult to access because the street currently lacks adequate pedestrian facilities, crossings, and connections to employers.

At-grade railroad crossings, sub-standard over-crossings, missing connections and signals, and traffic bottlenecks have led to growing concerns about freight mobility and access in the corridor.

The lack of traffic management systems means that freight operators and personal drivers alike do not have adequate information to respond to congestion issues and choose the most optimal routes.

The corridor does not currently have a clear system of mode-specific treatments that would prioritize freight and transit over single-occupancy vehicles.

While the dire need for safe active transportation infrastructure is obvious, this plan will also be pulled in the direction of improving freight movement. The Columbia Corridor Association (CCA), a 501(c)6 nonprofit business association, is a major power-broker that will be paying very close attention to the outcomes. This plan is a good chance for us to show it’s possible for freight and active transportation to co-exist — and even flourish — together.

The CCA’s boundary includes what they claim to be 2,500 businesses and 65,000 jobs. With around 40 percent of those employees living five miles or less from their jobs, there’s massive potential to reduce single-occupancy driving.

During our “Gap Week” coverage in 2016 we identified several gaps in this area and reported how, if closed, more people from the Cully area could access jobs, Marine Drive, ride to the Portland Airport, and more. We also lamented the lack of safe bicycle access around Cully Park (which is sandwiched between Lombard and Columbia) when it opened in summer of 2017.

Imagine a bicycle highway on NE Lombard between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and the I-205. Hopefully this planning process won’t be afraid to think outside the box.

For more information, check out the plan on PBOT’s website.

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

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Stoked Spoke 2019 kicks off Wed. with ‘Women, Trans and Femme Riders in Early Cycling History’

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 12:18

Seattle’s annual bicycle adventure presentation series Stoked Spoke kicks off 2019 Wednesday with a unique look back at the early days of American cycling by Tessa Hulls.

Swift Industries (a SBB sponsor) is once again hosting the series at the Rhino Room on Capitol Hill. You can catch the first event of the season Wednesday. Doors at 6:30, show at 7. The venue is 21+.

Hulls is not just a storied bicycle adventurer herself, she has also become a historian focused on early women, trans and femme bike riders. As she told the Stranger in a recent interview, she got tired of people telling her women can’t go on long bike trips alone, so she dove into history and found women who have been doing so ever since bicycling arrived to this country.

“We’re kicking off the 2019 Stoked Spoke Season with something a little different, and especially powerful,” Swift Industries wrote in a recent blog post. “Please join us for an evening with Tessa Hulls, lifetime creator, seeker and adventurer, as she takes us on an adventure through the history of Women, Trans and Femme vanguards in cycling. Tessa shares her research through a delightfully crafted narrative and artistically dynamic timeline, it’s a real gift for our communities!”

Hulls’ talk is a special first edition of the Stoked Spoke series, which typically features several people sharing their bike adventures, sharing information and answering questions. You can catch the next two evenings in the series February 27 and March 27.

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