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Unity Through Bicycles

Bike Hugger - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 17:47

A group of fierce, brave girls in Kenya who are breaking down gender and cultural barriers and boldly pursuing their dreams on bicycles. Here’s a video from World Bicycle Relief about young girls conquering their fears, pushing past cultural constraints, and moving boldly towards their dreams – on two wheels.

For many students in rural Kenya, distance is a barrier that prevents them from going to school. With access to a bicycle, all of that changes.

But, Muslim girls in this area traditionally are not allowed to ride. In 2016, 122 students received bicycles at Umoja Secondary School. A group of Muslim girls chose to challenge cultural expectations that confined them. This is what they had to say about their newfound freedom of riding a bike-

“Owning a bicycle has changed my life a lot. I have come to face the world. It has helped me be confident. We can be ourselves, not what people want us to be,” said Ayan,16 years old.

“It was so surprising to see the Muslim girls riding the bike. It changed my opinion because I now knew Muslim girls, they are just like us,” said Kelly 14 years old.

There’s a bright light that shines now from Umoja Secondary School in Eldoret, Kenya, where children of Christian, Muslim, and traditional African faiths study together and embody their motto- “Together We Rise.”

Even brighter on those girls that ride.

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Starting CycloCross: Kym Nonstop

Bike Hugger - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 17:38

I was just wondering, “When is Kym Nonstop gonna make an awesome video about CX?”

Well, here ya go.

And, note the scene is just as big on the West Coast. I’m not competing anymore, but totally think you should. Sure there are pros and cons and also lots of fun.

I’m not competing anymore, but totally think you should, and click through to hundreds of posts about the most community-oriented niche of the sport.

 

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Meet the BikeCrafters: Makeshifter Canvas Works, Velo Gioielli, and Filmed by Bike

Bike Portland - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 12:39

In case you haven’t heard, Portland’s bike-centric holiday gift fair is back! BikeCraft 2017 is December 15-17 at the Bike Farm (1810 NE 1st Ave.)

This year our friends (and BikeCraft veterans) at Microcosm Publishing have taken over the reins and it’s sure to be one of the best ever.

If you’re new to all this, BikeCraft was a simple idea I had back in 2005 to bring people together and celebrate Portlanders who make bicycle-inspired arts and crafts. Seeing so many beautiful, fun and talented people come together on a cold winter night that first year remains one of my fondest memories.

12 years later I couldn’t be happier that one of my most trusted friends and former colleagues, Elly Blue, is co-organizing the event along with veteran BikeCrafter Brian Echerer (see below) and Microcosm Publishing founder Joe Biel. You probably know Elly from The Portland Society, her writing and publishing, or her two dozen successful Kickstarter projects. Elly is currently co-owner and marketing director at Microcosm.

With just over a month until the big event, we want to introduce you to this year’s vendors. Elly has written up short interviews and we’ll be posting 3-4 at a time. Here’s the first roundup featuring: Becky Newman of Makeshifter Canvas Works, Brian Echerer of Velo Gioielli, and Ayleen Crotty of Filmed by Bike.

Makeshifter Canvas Works (website)

Becky Newman is a first-time BikeCraft vendor based in Portland. She makes colorful canvas bicycle bags and panniers that are beautifully designed and built to take a beating on a long distance tour.

How did you get started?
I taught myself to sew in high school, and for years I up-cycled clothing and outdoor gear I found at thrift stores. When I started bike touring a few years ago, I didn’t find any bike bags that matched the style and function I was looking for, so I experimented with making my own bags, and toured with them down the Oregon coast and on the Oregon Outback. I started making bags for friends, and friends of friends, and business took off from there.

Why is making bicycle bags important to you?
Making bike gear is my way of making a a small but meaningful dent in the bike industry–a dent that combats the racer-centric, male-dominated elitist culture that is pervasive in most of the industry. Ultimately I think riding bikes is good for communities, the environment, and personal wellness, and in offering everyday bike gear I hope to encourage people to ride more and to feel more welcome in the bike world. The materials and the design of my bags are meant to say hey, riding a bike is fun, you can carry whatever you want with you and look stylish doing it–you don’t need the fastest/lightest/newest whatever to ride a bike. It’s okay to ride slow and have a pretty, colorful bag.

What do you love about this work, and what are your goals with it?
I love working with my hands, and challenging myself to learn new things, and also riding bikes and using my gear, which is essential to my job. My favorite thing about my work is that it’s so multi-faceted, so I can throw myself into a task like sewing, and then switch to bookkeeping, or sketching and designing, or market research. I never get bored. Currently I’m writing a business plan and chasing down resources so that I can move Makeshifter out of my home, and expand to a workspace where I can also offer workshops and community bike events. My long-term goal is to grow Makeshifter to impart its greatest positive impact on the bike world while maintaining its identity as a small and thoughtful company.

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--> --> --> Velo Gioielli – Brian Echerer (website)

Brian Echerer is one of our co-organizers for BikeCraft this year. He stepped up to help because his success at the 2009 event is what launched the business that he now runs full time—a genuine BikeCraft success story!

What’s your bike craft?
Cycling themed art and jewelry.

How did you get started?
I starting making spoke bracelets to help pay for the MeetUp group Butts On Bikes I was running. Soon after I saw a posting for BikeCraft and asked my mom if she wanted to have some fun and make cycling themed jewelry with me as she was making jewelry already. After that first BikeCraft 8 years ago was somewhat of a success, I applied for Portland Saturday Market where I spent the next 5 years honing my skills and wares. This progressed to making upcycled art using bike parts and stained glass.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love seeing bike parts as a medium for art. The more art it becomes the more I can sneak some “bike” into someone’s home as art. I also love to travel and show my work as it’s something I never would have guessed I would ever do. It’s now grown again having a space at Alberta Street Gallery where I can show my work 7 days a week.

What’s your biggest challenge with it?
The art business, and having any small business, is a challenge all in of itself. The business deals with all the same challenges as any small business, not enough time, money doesn’t come fast enough and goes out faster than you want. There are positive tradeoffs for these challenges and I always work to stay positive and optimistic.

What does bicycling mean to you?
This is a great question! I have asked myself this for a very long time and I never could quite put my finger on why cycling spoke to me. That is until I read Tim Krabbe’s “The Rider”. There was the answer for me, “Oh, to have been a rider then. Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering.” There is more to the passage, but this is what spoke to me and why I do it. It is about getting outside of yourself, the challenge, the nature and the reward in a quality of life that a self propelled machine can provide.

Filmed by Bike – Ayleen Crotty (website)

Filmed by Bike has been involved in BikeCraft for many years, touting multi-media cultural collaborations.

What’s your bike craft?
Curating the world’s best bike movies and working with filmmakers from all over the world is our jam. Filmed by Bike is touring globally right now and our signature Portland festival isn’t until May. So to tide over all you bike and film lovers, we thought we’d come hang out at Bike Craft with our super-soft t-shirts, film advice, exciting news about what’s to come for 2018 and how to get involved.

How did you get started?
I absolutely love that Filmed by Bike is on tour worldwide. We’re able to give our filmmakers a much broader audience and these touring shows are being used as fundraisers for super cool projects, like keeping youth bike programs operating. But Portland is how we got started. The spirit of Portland, our creative bike culture, our city’s try-anything attitude. YES YES! I can’t imagine this festival coming of age in any other city. Thank you, Portland, for 15 awesome years!

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love building community through creative projects. It’s pretty incredible to chat with filmmakers who live all the way across the globe and find that, even while we may speak different languages we share a common language around our passion for bikes. I’m often humored by our email exchanges; filmmakers sometimes apologize for not speaking (typing) English well, and I’m so humbled because I can barely speak another language. And really, they’re speaking just fine.

What’s your biggest challenge with it?
We want to bring Filmed by Bike to even more cities in 2018! We films toured to about 30 locations in 2017 and we want to double that number in 2018. We know that when bikers tell other bikers about Filmed by Bike the momentum spreads quickly.

What does bicycling mean to you?
I am drawn to biking because of the community around it, and that’s a community focused on freedom, health, thriftiness and a respect for the environment. I dig all of that.

I’d also like to ad that I think Bike Craft is such an incredible event that also builds community. I love seeing all the makers come out, admiring their handiwork and chatting with fellow bike people. It’s so rad and the perfect way to spend the winter season!

———

We agree Ayleen! And can’t wait to see you there.

Thank you Elly for these great Q&As. For more details and a full list of vendors, check the official BikeCraft website and stay tuned.

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

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Bike Industry Marketing

Bike Hugger - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 18:15

The video is an old meme, but funny again with captions like

One day we mistakenly received a container from China, full of tractor tires…..we put them on some bikes and we called them Fat.

The script also reminds me of the Mitch Hedberg joke. “I think Pringles’ original intention was to make tennis balls. But, on the day the rubber was supposed to arrive, a truckload of potatoes showed up. And Pringles is a laid-back company, they said, “F**k it, cut ’em up!”

Cut ’em up indeed.

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A look at opposition to street updates on Lincoln and Willamette

Bike Portland - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 15:37

Tabor Rising’s graphic on the left. The thing they oppose on the right.

If your understanding of Portland is only through Portlandia episodes or the glowing, brochure-like visions shared in magazines and conference presentations, you might think we ride everywhere on perfect paths while passersby wave at us benevolently.

As real as it may seem, that happens only my dreams (thanks Debbie Gibson).

The reality is often much different: Some Portlanders — even those who ostensibly “support biking” — will fight against safer streets. Usually the backlash is motivated by a loss (real or perceived) of driving convenience. Often it’s just about distrust in the City of Portland, a general fear of change, the feeling that “they” are gaining while “we” are losing, or all of the above.

We’ve got our eyes on two projects where opposition hasn’t yet boiled over, but is definitely starting to simmer.

Lincoln-Harrison Neighborhood Greenway (PBOT website)

Flyer opposing diverter planned for SE Lincoln at 50th.

As part of their renewed approach to “legacy greenways” (a.k.a. older bike boulevards that need to be updated to current standards) PBOT is spending arond $170,000 to tame auto traffic and improve the cycling environment on Lincoln-Harrison between Clay and 64th.

One way that’s proven to be effective at keeping cut-through traffic to a minimum is to install raised medians (diverters) at strategic locations. There are several diverters planned for this project, and it appears there’s growing unease about them among some people in the neighborhood.

Someone posted to the BikeLoud PDX email list last week that, “As with many bikeway improvements in the city that involve diversion of cars, there is always opposition from neighbors worried about their street and access to their houses. It’s clear that the improvements to the Lincoln/Harrison Greenway is also bringing out this opposition.” The man said a special meeting hosted by the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association on November 2nd was, “dominated by these neighbors.”

If a flyer being distributed in the neighborhod is any indication, it appears that much of the opposition is to the proposed diverter on Lincoln at SE 50th. An unknown source has framed the issue as PBOT purposely diverting more traffic onto adjacent streets and completely ignoring the safety benefits of reduced motor vehicle access (emphasis theirs):

“The City is ready to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to change our neighborhood forever. Why? Not for safer neighborhoods, not for better streets, not to reduce the impact of unmanaged growth — no, the City of Portland says it hopes to, ‘create a low-stress environment for people walking and biking.’

Join your neighbors in telling the City “Enough is enough!”

Tax dollars must be spent to solve real problems, not on unproven experiments with unintended consequences that erode our neighborhoods.”

Both sides of this issue are mobilizing behind the scenes and encouraging supporters to fill out PBOT’s online survey about the project and attend the first open house tomorrow (11/8) at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church (2408 SE 16th Ave).

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--> --> --> Willamette Blvd Re-striping (PBOT website)

Screengrabs from Nextdoor Arbor Lodge neighborhood.

As we’ve been reporting, this project is pretty straightforward. PBOT seized an opportunity to improve a bikeway that’s been unsafe for many years.

But if you think PBOT can repurpose space currently used (albeit very sparingly) for on-street parking — and do it in relative lightning speed compared to standard operating procedure — in order to expand bicycle access and not hear from some number of disgruntled people, you must be new to this.

I’ve downplayed opposition to this project because there’s really no defensible argument against it (if there is I haven’t heard it). However, after I received an anonymous phone call from a very irate woman over the weekend, I don’t think any celebrations should happen until the paint has dried. About that call: I picked up the phone even though it was an unknown number (being accessible is part of my job) and a woman began screaming at me. She said all the classic things: “You people don’t even pay taxes! I’ve lived in my house for 62 years!” and so on. I listened and told her I pay taxes too and reminded her she owns a home and a yard, not the street. She eventually just hung-up, mid tirade.

I’ve also got people monitoring Nextdoor for discussion about the project and they tell me there’s been quite a few people upset about the plan (see image). Someone has also posted a petition titled: “Portland Residents against the removal of parking on Willamette Blvd between Rosa Parks Way and Woolsey Avenue”. People being upset on Nextdoor isn’t necessarily anything to worry about, but I’m not taking any chances.

Neither is Kiel Johnson. He’s the guy whose quick action in forming Friends of Willamette Blvd added fuel to a fire started by a group of neighborhood activists. He emailed supporters of the project on Sunday, urging them to contact PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman. That was after Johnson and a crew of concerned citizens went door-to-door on Willamette to discuss the project with residents and invite them to a celebratory potluck on November 18th.

Unless PBOT backpedals, the new striping should be in place by then. Whether it’s a celebration, will depend on who you ask.

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

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PBOT changing Outer Division plans amid parking and freight access concerns

Bike Portland - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 13:01

PBOT slide showing five years of crashes on SE Division between 122nd and 126th.

“Outer SE Division is really a mess.”

“Across the board we have overall support. But we’re also hearing, ‘Wow, losing on-street parking will be a big deal for our business,’ and, ‘How’s freight going to work?'”
— Liz Mahon, PBOT

That’s how Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Manager Liz Mahon introduced this project at a joint meeting of the City’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees last month. And she’s right. That slide above showing data from five years of crashes between SE 122nd and 126th is just one piece of evidence in the case against Division.

That’s why the City of Portland’s Outer Division Multimodal Safety Project is such a big deal. In addition to this being arguably the most dangerous road in Portland, the project is something of a test for the Bureau of Transportation. Can they match vision zero rhetoric with real, on-the-ground, infrastructure? Can they prove to east Portlanders that their pleas for safety are being heard? Can they do it on a faster-than-usual timeline? And most importantly, can they respond to concerns from businesses without overly compromising the outcomes of the project?

So far things have gone well. Following a high-profile kickoff meeting back in February, PBOT took the unprecedented step of declaring an official city emergency to reduce the speed limit on Division. Now they’re working through a plan that will include dozens of “enhanced crossings,” speed cameras, new and improved sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and a raised center median.

Space for that center median and protected bikeway has to come from somewhere. And that’s where things are getting sticky.

PBOT slide showing median examples.

PBOT design in Jade District. Note the center median (yellow outline) and u-turn radius.

“National surveys show that medians reduce accidents but also may hurt auto-reliant businesses. Division is lined with auto-reliant businesses.”
— Division Midway Alliance

PBOT’s initial plan was to use the space currently used to park cars on the street. While this project has broad support from many in the adjacent community who’ve been clamoring for safety improvements for years, business owners have voiced concerns about the loss of on-street parking and impacts to freight delivery.

“Across the board we have overall support,” Mahon said at the advisory committee meeting last month, “But we’re also hearing, ‘Wow, losing on-street parking will be a big deal for our business,’ and, ‘How’s freight going to work?'”

Now Mahon and PBOT are revising the plans to see where they can, “Create opportunities for on-street parking to come back” while making freight truck access work better.

PBOT has heard directly from the Division Midway Alliance, a nonprofit that represents business owners between 117th to 148th avenues. The DMA feels that the median and parking removal will hurt local businesses. “National surveys show that medians reduce accidents but also may hurt auto-reliant businesses. Division is lined with auto-reliant businesses,” says a notice posted on the DMA website today. Here’s more from that posting:

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At a meeting late last month, business owners, some who said they felt left out, “steamrolled” in the words of one, of the planning process, told PBOT and other officials their concerns and views, including:

– Medians will cut their business because potential customers, diverted by the medians, will not bother to turn in;
– Delivery trucks will have difficulty making turns or finding alternate routes;
– Drivers will seek other routes, too, pushing traffic on to already overtaxed surface and neighborhood streets;
– Wouldn’t more police enforcement – ALONE – of speed limits and jaywalking reduce accidents?
– And why not fix the roadway, add streetlights and fill in the sidewalks first and NOW?

It’s worth noting that PBOT has been up front from Day One about how this project would impact the street. The official project website has this list of “tradeoffs” that are required to make Division safe:

– Safety improvements may require removing parking on both sides of the street. Instead of parking cars on Division Street, people may need to park cars on side streets or private property.
– People may need to use a different driveway when driving to or from a location directly on Division Street.
– People driving may need to turn off or onto Division at different locations, because a center median will help people turn at the safest spots.
– PBOT will work through these tradeoffs with the community through 2017.

Reached for comment today, PBOT confirmed that business owners in the Jade District are also worried about parking loss. “We believe we can accommodate some on-street parking with separated bike lanes,” PBOT’s Dylan Rivera said via email today. “And we are working with business owners on design options.”

PBOT slide shown at October meeting of PBOT Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Rivera said the larger challenge is the freight access issue. Namely, how truck operators can still service businesses without a center turn lane to stop in, and with a curbside lane that will be reserved for bicycling and separated from other lanes with vertical plastic wands (side streets aren’t big enough for large trucks, and residents don’t want them there even if they did).

To make this work, Rivera says PBOT is, “Exploring tools that will provide a protected bike lane while not precluding freight.” The solution could mean a raised — yet mountable — barrier to protect the bike lane which they say would keep cars out but still allow trucks to use the bike lane. Since they’d be in the path of bicycle riders, PBOT might restrict loading and unloading to “certain low-traffic hours of the day.” That idea was quickly questioned by committee member Doug Klotz. “I think it’d be better if trucks stopped in the right hand auto lane,” he said. “That seems to be what vision zero would call for.”

Another issue that came up at the October Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting is how u-turning drivers might encroach on biking space at corners. PBOT says they’re aware of that issue and will plan on using special markings to warn users of the hazard. Some committee members recommended that PBOT prohibit u-turns by large trucks and instead require them to circle the block. Others questioned why PBOT would design a project with danger spots built in: “I don’t want you to introduce untested facilities with obvious conflict points as part of a safety improvement,” said Elliot Akwai-Scott.

To learn more about this project and see PBOT’s latest plans, attend the open house this Thursday (11/9) from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at Portland Community College Hall Annex (2305 SE 82nd Ave).

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

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Lo and behold: An American city just focused their “be seen” message on drivers

Bike Portland - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 15:53

The lack of people dressed like traffic cones is a nice touch.

I’m sure your inbox and timelines are full of well-meaning organizations urging you to “be safe and be seen” this time of year.

These are important messages, but it’s annoying how they usually focus on vulnerable road users. It makes sense intuitively, but that paternalistic approach fails to address the elephant in the room — or should I say the huge, powerful steel vehicles in our streets.

“Dress up like a traffic cone if you want to survive winter!” these campaigns too often say.

That’s why I was very pleased to see the latest statement from the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “‘Be Seen. Be Safe.’ Traffic safety during the darker days of the year,” the headline reads.

The full text is below. Notice how the focus — first and foremost — is on people who drive cars and trucks (after a solid first sentence that’s generalized to all road users):

Daylight savings time ended on Sunday, so it’s time to step up your visibility and make sure you’re doing your part to travel with care.

People driving can increase visibility by using their headlights, leaving a safe distance between vehicles to increase your cone of vision, and continuously scanning the environment looking for people walking and bicycling. Always be alert and practice extra caution during winter’s rain and low light.

Drivers need to:

– Remember to practice patience and slow down
– Stay in your lane and beware of drivers who dart from lane to lane
– Even though the route may be familiar, don’t go on autopilot; stay alert and ALWAYS watch for vulnerable road users such as people walking, biking and rolling
– Don’t touch your phone, eat, drink or do other things that are distracting. Remember, as of October 1, 2017 it is illegal to drive while holding or using an electronic device (i.e. a cell phone or tablet).
– Slow down at crosswalks and take care when making turns – even at a signal.

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Did you know that as we age we have greater difficulty seeing at night? Night vision is the ability to see well in low-light conditions. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old.

Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark for all drivers, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can significantly impact a driver’s vision. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited creating less time to react to something in the road, especially when driving at higher speeds.

People walking and biking can increase their visibility during low-light hours by wearing reflective gear and using safety lights. When walking, keeping a small flashlight or using the feature on your phone is another helpful way to make sure you can see at night.

Did you know that you’re first visible to people driving from 500 feet away when you’re wearing reflective clothing? Compare this to just 55 feet away when wearing dark colors with no reflective gear or lights.

Nearly the entire statement is directed at motor vehicle users. That’s noteworthy. The words and messages agencies prioritized are windows into their values — and building blocks of the type of culture they hope to create.

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

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Inspiring speeches from Oregon Walks award winners

Bike Portland - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 13:54

View from the stage.
(Photo: Steph Routh)

As I alluded to last week, volunteer activism is at the foundation of Portland’s livable streets movement. At Oregon Walks‘ annual Weston Awards fundraising party on Friday night, two of the award winners epitomized that fact: citizen activist Steve Bozzone and the Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood represented by Meesa Long, Lesley McKinley and Chelsea Powers.

With an impressive crowd of advocates, electeds, city staffers, and fellow citizen activists looking on, Bozzone and McKinley shared memorable acceptance speeches that are worth sharing.

Long, McKinley and Powers were up first. This amazing trio led an effort that garnered over $5 million in grants to improve streets in their southeast Portland neighborhood. That’s a big number for a grassroots campaign! And in the process they set records for highest public participation Metro had ever seen by rallying their fellow residents to send in hundreds of postcards, fill in online comment forms, and sign petitions (over 1,000 signatures total).

From left to right: Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry, Lesley McKinley, Chelsea Powers, Meesa Long.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

With a chance to address many of the people who hold city and regional pursestrings, McKinley’s comments were brief; but fierce.

When she said, “We just got two streets of sidewalks [funded],” everyone broke into cheers, but she quickly stopped them and added, “That’s it. I mean, no, don’t clap for that because it’s not enough!”

She continued:

“We were annexed into Portland 30 years ago and we have just not gotten our due. And so we’re coming for you. And I think we’ve proven how absolutely skilled we are in this work. So be afraid…

This was driven by women. This was driven by underserved people, blue-collar people, of which I am one.

We’re very, very grateful, but we’re coming for your money. Do not forget these faces. We’re going to be at every meeting, we’re going to be at every budget, and we should no longer have to send 400 postcards from underserved children begging for their rights. Don’t make us do this again.”

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Steve Bozzone received the Legacy Award from Oregon Walks Friday night. A member of the organization’s board of directors, Bozzone is a fixture in local activism circles and is a strong voice for social justice across many issues, including transportation. Bozzone used his opportunity to remind the room full of mostly white, mostly powerful and mostly privileged people to work harder to lift up all voices.

Legacy Award winner Steve Bozzone with Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

After going through a list of thank-yous, he recounted his involvement with the City’s North Williams project — that began as a bicycle access update, but morphed into a much-needed discussion about racism and gentrification.

Here’s an excerpt from his speech:

One of my most memborable experiences involved representing Oregon Walks on the Williams Avenue Safety project. In the beginning of those meetings I was pleased to see a good amount of folks from the pedestrian and bike advocacy world in the room. I thought we had a slam dunk and would get to design the best active transportation corridor in Portland. I was seriously pumped.

What I am now ashamed to admit is I didn’t notice who was not in the room. In the historically black community of Albina, you could count the number of Portlanders of color on the committee on one hand. As much as I claimed to care about fair public process, I was not personally bothered by the lack of representation of residents of color.

It took the work of dedicated community leaders to help the city, the committee, and myself realize this was not OK; and it happened to be the way things have always been. My white privilege was protecting me from seeing the injustice in front of me.

Over the course of many months of listening, I learned about the history of the city neglecting the black community, displacing neighbors through the construction of I-5, Memorial Coliseum and Legacy Emanuel [hospital]. I learned about racial profiling and police shootings. I learned that these communities had their own set of priorities, if only the city would listen and act upon them. I learned that our work in transportation is inextricably linked with racial and economic justice.

I’m sharing this story with you all now, admittedly a mostly white audience, because I do not think we have fully embraced the importance of racial and regional equity in our work. It is easy to support the concept of equity while actively resisting it in our day-to-day lives. It is critical that we identify and manage equity concerns early and proactively.

There are so many opportunities to integrate this work into the public works of this city and I think everyone in this room has a role to play. What does this mean for our city and transportation advocacy?

It means looking around the room you’re in, any room, and wondering why certain folks are not there, and not being satisfied until they are. It means when frontline community of color organizations oppose cetnral city projects and demand equal investments in outer neighborhoods, we take a deep breath, listen, and come together to figure out a path forward. It means organizing real coalitions built on meaningful, trusting relationships. It means showing up for each other, even if it means our ideas get put on the back-burner. It means sometimes stepping back and creating space for others to lead. It means learning about our white privilege, and figuring out ways to use it to challenge white supremacy in our institituions, our social groups, and within ourselves.

This award is for all of the folks that have never shown up to a public meeting because they are working multiple jobs and there’s no childcare provided. It’s for those folks who cannot afford to live in Portland any longer, displaced by no-cause evictions and skyrocketing housing costs. It’s for those folks who spend half their day waiting for the bus to come. It’s for the thousands of Portlanders who are forced to sleep outside each night, who have no place to go. It’s for you and me to remember there is so much work to be done, that we must work together, and our work goes well beyond bike lanes and crosswalks.

As the author Virgina Burden puts it:

Cooperations is the thorough conviction,
that nobody can get there,
unless everybody gets there.

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

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Middle-finger salute to Trump costs bicyclist her job

Biking Bis - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:55

A woman who demonstrated her displeasure with President Trump’s policies by flipping the bird at his motorcade last week was sacked by her employer, a government contractor.

Juli Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two, told the Huffington Post that she was fired by Akima LLC after her boss told her that she had violated company …

Continue reading »

The Monday Roundup: NYC aftermath, vision zero fire truck, Uber’s strange ad, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 10:00

Support our Sponsor

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Left Coast Bicycles, offering mobile bike repair at your home or workplace throughout the Portland Metro area.

Here are the best stories that came across our desks last week:

Auto industry funds anti-walking propaganda: Treehugger breaks down how America’s “culture of fear” — filtered through an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons PR campaign supported by auto manufactuers — is shifting blame for unsafe streets away from drivers and onto walkers.

Beer bikes banned: Amsterdam has outlawed those huge, pedal-powered “beer bikes” after many complaints of rowdy tourists made them a “nuisance”.

Residential bike parking: Portland’s ubiquitous blue bike staple racks rarely reach into residential areas. We need more places to park near homes. What to do? The Dutch use “bicycle hangars” and other neighborhood facilities.

Vision Zero fire truck: San Francisco officials purchased new fire engines with many features that aim to make them safer for use in dense urban areas where lots of people walk and bike.

Bicycle traffic school: The southern California city of El Monte has long allowed auto users to get traffic ticket fines waived by attending a safe driving class. Now bicycle users can do the same thing.

Dockless bike share in Minneapolis-St. Paul: In a place where the existing, kiosk-based bike share system shuts down in winter, dockless bikes could fill an important gap in mobility needs.

Normalization of speeding: An entire article about driving over the speed limit and “gunning it” (an interesting phrase given all the talk about cars as weapons) that completely ignores the fact that driving too fast for conditions is dangerous.

Not speeding is the problem? Really?: An article that relies on a police officer as its single source of expertise tries to make the case that we’d all be safer and happier if everyone drove faster. (Fact check: That’s not the case at all. Higher speeds mean more people will be killed and injured.)

It’s our fault: Finally, despite the willfull ignorance of Donald Trump and his friends, the U.S. government has told the truth about climate change: It is caused by humans.

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DUI-E: I like the way Washington has reframed distracted driving violations as “driving under the influence of electronics.”

AVs are not so smart: A driverless shuttle van being used as a demo at the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Montreal malfunctioned. Conference goers got out and walked.

New York City Terror Attack Aftermath

Make trucks harder to get: Lloyd Alter at Treehugger (and others) think we need to make dangerous vehicles like SUVs and trucks much harder to come by.

Car-centric infra the problem: We need to ban cars from dense downtown areas; or at least get rid of the majority of them. Think that’s crazy? Many great cities are well on their way.

Safe street activists FTW: Many articles focused on the fact that — given the new era of weaponized motor vehicles — perhaps its time for public and politicians to embrace the ideas of transportation reform activists. Writing in the NY Times, Yonah Freemark puts is clearly: “By redesigning streets, we can protect pedestrians and cyclists from both careless drivers and malicious ones.”

Terrorism = everyday traffic violence: For New Yorker Teka Lark, it doesn’t matter what motivates a person behind the wheel, we need to stop bowing to the motor vehicle menace: “The authorities would rather pedestrians and cyclists die than force motorists to slow down and go the long way around.”

Push for bollards: After the attack, NYC City Council rep Ydanis Rodriquez renewed his call for more bollards to protect bike paths and other public spaces.

But not like this: The City of New York placed jersey barriers on the Hudson Greenway Path (and soon at 56 other locations); but the installation is completely wrong and an insult to people who walk and bike.

Uber’s ad: And finally today, check out the new ad from Uber — and remember this is a company that encourages people to use cars in cities. Am I missing something?

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

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Portland’s new era of transportation activism

Bike Portland - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:35

Bike Loud PDX organized a rally on SE Division Street in 2016.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

People who use a busy section of Willamette Boulevard in North Portland will be safer by the end of this month (if all goes according to plan). It’s an improvement we waited seven years for and it happened in just a few days, all thanks to smart and quick action by handful of volunteers who care deeply about the safety of our streets.

The astounding speed of the progress we just witnessed on Willamette is just the latest in a string of successes that can be tied directly to the actions of Portland’s considerable army of unpaid transportation reform activists.

The lineage of this DIY activism is a proud tradition in Portland and goes back far beyond my time on this beat; but it seems to be gaining steam of late due to a variety of factors — all of which were present on the Willamette Blvd effort.

Friends of Willamette Blvd effectively leveraged insider knowledge of both transportation and local politics, then mixed it with savvy use of the internet and social media to create a wave of support for their idea. Then they made sure that wave splashed directly on City Commissioner Dan Saltzman (he’s in charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation). With the right tone and timing, this Friends group got exactly what they asked for.

Off the top of my head I can think of several other similar groups that have sprung up in the relatively recent past: We Are All Traffic, Active Right of Way, PDX Transformation, Bike Loud PDX, Better Block PDX, Portland Bus Lane Project, and I know there are others I’m leaving out. Add to all these a myriad of neighborhood associations and slightly more formal, but still volunteer groups — and the nascent traffic safety group forming in north Portland as I type this (yes!) — and you begin to see a formidable flank in the battle for safe streets. They’re like the Army’s Active Guard Reserve, ready to spring into action on a moment’s notice.

These reserve troops are more capable and more important in Portland today than they’ve ever been for three main reasons.

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The first one is the most obvious: The organizing and publishing power of social media has fundamentally changed the game for citizen activists in the past five years or so. It’s hard to imagine now, but when BikePortland started in 2005 Facebook was only a college thing (their News Feed didn’t even launch until 2006). Back then there was no central and highly-visibile place where Portlanders could publish thoughts about everyday bicycling issues. As individual and group social networks have strengthened exponentially in recent years, so too has people’s skill in using them. Mature social networks used by sophisticated users = impact. This new, new era of publishing (people used to think this blog was high-tech!) gives people an amazingly powerful outlet for activism. Combine these individual and group networks with the amplifying force of a well-established blog, and you can reach and influence a lot of people in a short amount of time.

The second reason citizen activism is thriving in Portland is related to the first one: the democratization of information. City and political staffers often lament that “everyone thinks they’re an expert.” Well, hate to break it to you, but these days, everyone sort of is an expert. Or at least, people are a lot smarter than many bureacrats, politicians, and media people give them credit for. Portland’s transportation reformers have a trove of data, reporting, studies, and other information right at their fingertips. And they’re not afraid to use it — and then share it with friends.

One of the founding principles of BikePortland is that smart citizens cannot be messed with by those in power. Armed with knowledge about the policies, people, and projects that shape this city, citizen activists can hit the ground running and make an impact quickly.

The last reason we’re seeing more of — and more impact from — these citizen groups, is because Portlanders are increasingly aware that no one else will do this work for them.

Portland has already gone from bad to good, transportation-wise. We were one of the first in the U.S. to do that and we’ve been patting ourselves on the back about it for decades. But the new era demands we go from good to great. And that has proven much more difficult. PBOT’s planning and project timelines are agonizingly long and people want to speed things up a bit — whether that means working within the system or going outside of it. The other factor is that the professional advocacy groups, like The Street Trust, have shown little interest in working on many of the smaller, local issues and projects that need attention. The lack of local engagement from The Street Trust is what inspired Bike Loud PDX, the group whose impressive work led to a major shift in how PBOT implements neighborhood greenways (among other things). The Street Trust has opted instead to focus on regional and statewide funding, lobbying and legislation, and their programmatic work like Safe Routes to School. That’s important stuff for sure, but they’ve left a ton of work on the table.

We’re all lucky there are so many smart and engaged Portlanders willing to pick that work up and move it forward.

So, what’s the next project we should do? What streets need our attention? Who wants to work together? Let’s go.

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

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One 1985 GORE-TEX® SHAKEDRY Jacket Review

Bike Hugger - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 12:15
Gore Bike Wear® Keeps Getting Better

The backside of the Grand Ridge approached from Exit 18 off of Interstate 90, and taking the fitness trail is my favorite mountain bike ride. That’s because you get all the climbing done in about 20 minutes or less and the grunt of a climb starts right from the parking lot. It’s also the perfect environment to test a jacket that’s promising next-level, outdoor fitness performance. The One 1985 Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY® is their best and most realized technology to date.

On the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail en route to the Grand Ridge

Starting from the One release, they’ve iterated the “membrane” only design into a full line and I didn’t get steamy or sweaty on the climb. Once into the flat sections, and before the Water Tower Loop, I zipped up and was comfortable at a balmy 45 degrees. And, most importantly, wasn’t cold on the descent.

Cross one of the bridges, in the trees.

The practical offroad use case for ShakeDry is an emergency poncho if you get caught out in a squall. There isn’t a face fabric protecting the membrane, so do not use it with a hydration backpack because the straps will wear the laminate. I’m super into fanny packs now, so it’s fine for my offroad rides, but to be clear, Gore designed this for road cyclist and runners, not backpackers.

You can get the ShakeDry tech in two cuts to find one that fits and with reflective accents. I also noticed improved inner seam welds and an adjustable collar for comfort around the neck and zipper backer. If you’re wearing only a thin liner, you’ll feel the zipper on the coldest days without that backer.

As the name suggests water permanently beads on the ShakeDry and will shake off before stowage in the zipped back pocket or your bag. Compared to the first iteration that was literally just the breathable membrane. This version is much more wearable; as I said, when it launched, the tech totally works, and I appreciate how Gore has responded to the needs of us in the Pacific Northwest, where it never gets that cold, but wet.

Really wet. 

Considering it’s the rainy season now in Seattle if I’m not wearing the ShakeDry, I’m carrying it with me.

That tree wasn’t there the last time we rode here. Retro Styling

Even as a journalist in the outdoor market with a highly-qualified team of PR professionals explaining this product to me, Gore Bike Wear’s naming is a bit confusing. This jacket is called the One 1985 Gore-Tex ShakeDry because it’s a nod to the original and first ever (also steamy and too hot for our climate) cycling jacket that debuted when Like a Virgin and Wham topped the pop charts.

While that seems like forever ago, what made that Giro Jacket so special, was the combination of windproof, waterproof, and breathable fabrics. The Giro was also the first to introduce a cycling-specific, drop-tail design. It wasn’t perfect, but better than stuffing newsprint under a jersey, or sweating it out under a plastic rain cape. Remember those? Like slap-bass, track jackets, and acid-washed jeans, now nostalgic.

The Giro Jacket was very well received, eventually being used by the Superconfex professional road team—a Rabobank precursor—and Gore Bike Wear gives the past a nod with orange Rabobank-like accents.

Rabobank styling. The Specs

Back to the future, what you need to know is, the latest jacket from Gore eliminates the face fabric, further increasing breathability and decreasing laminate thickness by 50% with corresponding gains in breathability. The MSRP is $300 and available directly from Gore Bike Wear, Amazon, or a retailer near you.

What’s most important about 1985 One and the legendary jacket it evokes, is how it feels on the ride. I’m at my most comfortable with it and a liner. The inside comfort is related to the micro-grid backer, that slides easily over the liner, and doesn’t have that plastic bag, squishy sound.

Considering the retroness, I have an old iPod with a bunch of 80s. I’ll pack that with me on the next ride.

Stop for an adjustment and with the Camelbak Repack.
  • GORE-TEX® Active with SHAKEDRY Product Technology
  • Adjustable collar with velcro for optimum fit and protection
  • Back zipped stow pocket
  • Elastic sleeve cuff
  • Partially elastic hem
  • Zip tags for easy opening
  • Reflective print on back
  • Reinforced hem for easier closure of the zipper
  • Reflective logo on sleeve
  • Reflective logo on front
  • Advanced matt black look
  • Shake dry surface: Water beads on the surface so a few quick shakes renders the garment dry
  • The lightest and most breathable GORE-TEX® Active Product available
  • Comfort fit
  • Weight 116 gram (Size L)
  • 2-way front zip for chimney effect
  • Permanent beading surface
  • Reflective transfers for higher visibility and safety
  • Ergonomic shape and comfort cut
  • Durably waterproof and windproof
  • Minimal pack volume and stow away solution
  • Extremely breathable
  • Super lightweight

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Friends and family launch fundraiser, will celebrate Boyd Littell’s life Sunday

Bike Portland - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:34

Boyd Littell in January 2016.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

An outpouring of heartfelt remembrances and grief have followed the untimely death of Boyd Littell (he was known as “Gee” by his family). Now his family and friends have come together to raise money for a funeral and burial in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma.

Littell is the 40-year-old musician and professional courier who died early Tuesday morning. Police found him in Colonel Summers Park lying next to his bike with a wound on his head. The cause of his crash remains unknown.

According to a story in the Norman Transcript, Boyd moved to Portland in 2014. His passion was music and the hip-hop band he played drums in, ADDverse Affects, was on a skyward trajectory. After “taking Norman by storm,” Boyd and band co-founder Josh Azzam came to Portland to seek new musical horizons.

In the past few days I’ve heard from Josh and other people who were close to Boyd.

Celebration of Life for Boyd

7:00 pm at The Nest (2715 SE Belmont)

Josh was one of the last people to be with Boyd. They parted ways after hanging out together at Doug Fir Lounge after midnight on Monday. I asked Josh what he wanted the community to know about his friend. “It’s crucially important that people know how happy Boyd was in his last days. He almost seemed zen-like,” Josh said. Then he shared something he posted earlier to friends on Facebook.

“I also want everyone to know that Boyd was and has been incredibly happy out here. Yes it’s been tough but we didn’t move here because it was easy. We were seeking a new challenge to conquer and honestly we were fucking crushing it. Our last show on Saturday was a biggest yet in Portland. Never got a number but a few thousand people had rsvpd if that tells you anything. Benja and I were with him at the Doug Fir Monday night and all weekend for that matter, we drank beers, smoked cigarettes, laughed, and hugged. He was in top form. He was living his dream and he was truly happy. Just thought everyone should know that.”

A member of Boyd’s family emailed us a touching tribute. Here’s an excerpt:

“Let me leave you with this: Bob Littell, Gee’s dad, always had his eye out for a beautiful cloud formation in the sky, and on a good day, nothing could get better than the beauty he found in the clouds, and he passed that appreciation of beauty to Boyd, and every time Boyd stopped to talk, to update me on his life, his music, his challenges and his successes, when there was a beautiful cloud in the sky, you could feel that special connection Boyd had to his dad, and the beauty he found in his life. That he passed, probably looking skyward, possibly searching for his closest connections above, is only fitting, and comforting, in this horribly saddening moment of our loss. Remember Boyd when you look to the sky, and know his kind thoughts are with us, as we grieve his passing… we will miss you, we cherish you, we promise to embrace your ‘joie de vivre,’ exemplar that you could be. Thanks, kind, caring friend. We love you. Thanks for touching our lives.”

We also heard from a woman named Anna, who shared what it was like to spend time with Boyd:

“Boyd and i rode bikes and adventured around norman, OK, then portland, for about a year together, give or take ADDverse effects’ whirlwind move/tour from Norman to PDX. we biked to forest park, refueled with donuts and accidentally rode through oaks bottom on our super skinny-tired road bikes. i remember trying to pack his lunches so they had enough calories to fuel his crazy mileage. one night after a show, we stopped at clinton park and laid down our bikes, napped and stargazed for an hour, then finished the ride home. love to everyone who was lucky enough to know him. i wish so much that his ride hadn’t ended. rest in peace.”

Josh, Anna, and the scores of other fans and friends Boyd made here in Portland will gather at a memorial in Colonel Summers Park at SE 20th and Belmont this Sunday (11/5) at 6:30 pm. They’ll share words meant for Boyd and to console each other, then they’ll walk to one of his favorite haunts, The Nest on Belmont, to celebrate and remember the life he lived.

Boyd’s family has put up a fundraising site to raise money for a funeral back in Norman.

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

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Willamette Blvd celebration planned as media and some neighors react predictably

Bike Portland - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 09:04

Should be striped in the next few weeks.

In case you missed it (it came as an update to a previous story), the Portland Bureau of Transportation announced a plan Tuesday to update lane striping on Willamette Boulevard in order to create more space for bicycling.

The additional space required for re-striping the street will require removing automobile parking on N Willamette from N Rosa Parks Way to N Woolsey Ave
— PBOT

After a paving project kicked off last month, a neighborhood group called Friends of Willamette Blvd seized the opportunity to re-stripe the street. They launched an online petition and encouraged people to email City Hall demanding better bike access between Rosa Parks and Woolsey (the boundaries of the paving project). The response was overwhelming (415 people in less than 24 hours) and it persuaded City Commissioner Dan Saltzman to direct the Portland Bureau of Transportation to re-stripe the street.

PBOT released their new plans for Willamette just four hours after we reported Commissioner Saltzman’s promise. Friends of Willamettee Blvd volunteer Kiel Johnson announced shortly after that they’re hosting a potluck on Saturday November 18th to celebrate.

The new design includes an 8-foot wide bike lane on the residential (north) side of the street and a 12-foot wide bike lane and shoulder (for walking and transit stops) on the bluff side. The new design has 15 feet of dedicated cycling space (including 3.5-feet in buffers) — that’s about 4.5-feet more than we have now. The total width of the street is 40-feet. PBOT is able to create larger bikeways and a shoulder without widening the street because they are repurposing 7.5-feet currently used for parking cars. The two standard lanes will also be 10-feet wide, slightly narrower than they are today.

(Many of you have wondered why there’s no physical separation in these plans. Good question. Part of it is because this is just a late add-on to the existing paving project and there was no formal process or budget to do a more high-quality bikeway. It’s possible PBOT will retrofit these new buffer zones (and many miles of them on other streets) with a new protected bike lane design they’re currently working on.)

While many are celebrating this much-needed improvement, as you might have expected, some people are not so thrilled.

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Help is on the way my friend.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Remember this: the people on the bluff are living in houses worth well over half a million dollars. They, and people like them, are the ones providing the lion’s share of taxes for bike lanes in the city. Maybe you should take their opinion into consideration.”
— Samuel Partridge, via a BikePortland comment

Samuel Partridge lives on Willamette. He left two comments on BikePortland this week expressing his concerns. He thinks the driving lanes are what need to be expanded. “Bike travel isn’t the problem on Willamette; it’s driving down that road that’s hell. I’ve done both, and currently I’d rather bike down that road than drive it.” He also suggested that when people buy a house they also have a right to on-street parking. “If you buy a house in an area with on-street parking,” he wrote, “you wouldn’t object to the city deciding you’re no longer allowed to park in front of your own house?”

Then Partridge shared that the houses owned by people on Willamette are “worth well over half a million dollars.” “They, and people like them,” he continued, “Are the ones providing the lion’s share of taxes for bike lanes in the city. Maybe you should take their opinion into consideration.”

And last night our local FOX affiliate station KPTV was the first to report on the project. Their story was so predictable it could have written itself. “Neighbors upset over losing parking,” reads their headline; but you can’t lose something you never owned.

A KPTV reporter talked to a resident who said they received letters about the project just this week and were informed it would be completed by mid-November. Here’s more from the story:

Ryan said she is upset because the project will eliminate street parking on the north side of Willamette Blvd, right in front of her home.

“The people who are for the bike lanes argue that we only use the bike lanes less than 20 percent of the time, however, that’s because we go to work, we go to school, we run errands, we don’t have cars to leave in front of our houses,” she said.

… neighbors like Ryan said they wish they knew sooner so they could have fought the plan.

It should be obvious, but it appears some people forget that they own their house and their lot, not the street in front of it. Streets are owned the public. We all pay taxes and we all have an equal say in how they are used.

And it’s worth remembering the history of this project.

In 2010 PBOT was prepared to make major changes to Willamette in order to improve bicycle safety. Before that project was ever made public, PBOT made a jaw-dropping move: They asked people who live on Willamette if they’d be willing to give up “their” parking spaces to make a safer bikeway. What do you think they said? When neighbors objected, PBOT backed down. Despite some minor improvements to the bikeway in 2014, bicycle users continued to risk their safety for another seven years because PBOT was afraid to upset a few dozen people who felt entitled to use the street to store their private property.

That’s why I don’t feel much sympathy for neighbors who claim they weren’t notified this time around.

Current conditions on Willamette north of Rosa Parks. Note the free storage of private cars in the lane on the right.

As we move forward with this project, remember that between Rosa Parks and Woolsey there are only about two dozen single-family homes that face Willamette. Every one of them has a driveway and/or is on a corner with access to a sidestreet. As someone who rides and drives that section of street several times a week at all hours of the day, I can say there’s very rarely more than two or three cars parked there.

But let’s not get into the habit of thinking we can use road space for mobility — instead of parking — only when parking is rare. We shouldn’t need justification. As our city grows and our streets don’t, space will always be at a premium. Parking private vehicles (especially for free) should be a very low priority. Use of our streets to park cars is not an identified goal in any major plan adopted by City Council.

As for the future of Willamette Blvd, this section is just one of many that needs attention. St. Johns and nearby neighborhoods are growing fast and Willamette Blvd is becoming a crucial link between downtown and the peninsula. We need a safer bikeway (and safer crossings) near University of Portland and we must fill in the bikeway gap that currently exists on Willamette between N. Alma and the St. Johns Bridge in the Cathedral Park neighborhood.

Hopefully we’ll see more outcomes like this project very soon. Stay tuned.

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

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Draft Off-road Cycling Master Plan now available for comment

Bike Portland - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 12:00

Image from draft plan showing possible singletrack loop at the “Dog Bowl” in north Portland.

The Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability has released a draft of the long-awaited Off-road Cycling Master Plan and they’re taking comments on it until December 17th.

Hot off the press.
PDF

The 125-page “discussion draft” (PDF) was given the green light in April 2015 by former Mayor Charlie Hales with the hope of finally moving the contentious off-road bicycle access debate forward. BPS says its purpose is to create a, “roadmap for developing a connected, citywide system of trails and bicycle parks” and guide the City’s investment in off-road cycling facilities for the next 15-20 years.

While the plan is likely to touch off heated debates, BPS says right in the opening “Purpose” section that it’s only “conceptual”. “It does not change or create any City regulations or ‘greenlight’ any recommended projects. Future projects will require site-specific planning and community engagement, more detailed site analysis and design, environmental reviews, and funding for planning, construction and long-term operations and maintenance.”

We have a feeling that statement won’t stop people from being concerned that it is too friendly to biking — or not friendly enough.

The plan’s six main sections are worth reading over carefully as this plan is likely going to be the foundation of local advocacy on this issue for the foreseeable future.

In the section that puts the issue into a local context, BPS acknowledges the current shortcomings with off-road cycling in Portland. Citing a “limited range of experiences,” the plan says an uneven geographic distribution of riding areas “require many Portlanders to drive to them.” This statement encapsulates a top priority for the Northwest Trail Alliance bike organization: Being able to “ride to where you ride.”

The plan also lays out the lack of singletrack in Portland — which is arguably the main gripe that led to the creation of this plan in the first place:

Less than one-quarter of existing total trail mileage is on narrow or mid-width trails (under 6 feet), while nearly 70% is access roads wider than 10 feet. While these wider trails provide options for beginner riders, intermediate and advanced riders may feel that wider trails lack the physical challenge and visual interest that narrower trails provide. Additionally, the City’s inventory of narrower trails includes a number of poorly maintained fire lanes in Forest Park, which tend to be more technically challenging and do not provide a safe and sustainable riding experience.

Singletrack aside, Portland simply lacks off-road riding opportunities in general. Check out this chart in the plan that compares us to other cities:

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Another chart of off-road facility level of service (or LOS, to borrow a traffic engineering term) gives us an idea of what BPS is shooting for:

And here’s a cluster graphic showing how BPS envisions Portland as a central hub in relation to other riding areas around the region:

Keep in mind that this plan is not just about your typical bike trails. It also includes information about BMX parks, jump parks, freeride and downhill areas, pump tracks, and so on. The idea is build out a network of off-road cycling experiences in Portland that appeal to riders of all ages and abilities. It also includes detailed design guidelines for how the trails, paths, and other features can be built so they last long and have minimal impact to the environment.

But make no mistake about it, everyone will focus on the part of the plan where new trails are recommended. The draft plan says Portland should improve all of its existing off-road facilities and develop “19 additional trail and bike park locations and three urban off-road cycling trail corridors.”

The plan splits up the recommendations into three categories: natural surface trails, urban trail corridors, and bicycle parks.

New bike parks — defined as places like pump tracks or skills trails where people can practice and learn — are recommended in 14-16 existing city parks (in addition to improving the ones that currently exist in Ventura Park, Gateway Green and New Columbia). Urban trail corridors — which “combine paved and unpaved trails to create longer and more varied riding experiences” — are recommended along the Springwater, the future NP Greenway path, and the I-205 path. And finally, new off-road cycling trails are recommended at the “Dog Bowl” at North Willamette and Jessup, Lesser Park in southwest, the Loll-Wildwood Natural Area, River View Natural Area, and Washington Park (in addition to improvements to existing trails at Gateway Green, Mt. Tabor Park, Powell Butte and Forest Park).

BPS labels this map: “Multi-hub concept with potential mountain bike trail.”

Among the most noteworthy recommendations are new riding facilities in Forest Park, River View, and Washington Park.

The plan devotes 12 pages to Forest Park (a historically contentious site we highlighted last year) and the five “conceptual trail improvements”. They’re all noteworthy given how Forest Park is ground zero for off-road biking potential in Portland. The recommendations include:

– Improve Firelane 1 and build a new trail parallel to Highway 30 (High Priority)
– Improve Firelane 4 and open it to off-road cycling (High Priority)
– Open Firelane 7, Firelane 7A and Oil Line Road to off-road cycling (Medium Priority)
– Improve cycling access to the park from the St. John’s Bridge (Medium Priority)
– Build a new trail south of NW 53rd Drive (Conditional)

And how about some dirt trails to ride in Washington Park? Here’s the recommendation on page 78:

Design and build a natural surface off-road cycling trail loop in the area east of Kingston Drive, as envisioned in the Draft Washington Park Master Plan. Trails could include a descending flow trail and an uphill skill trail. Building a trail here will require additional planning and community input.

If you care about riding in dirt without driving first, it’s well worth your time to peruse this draft plan. It’s the result of considerable work by BPS and a top-notch stakeholder committee. By the time the comment period closes and the plan is ultimately adopted by Council, the City will have spent well over two years creating it. Now is the time to help refine the plan by leaving comments between now and December 17th. The best way to share feedback is with this nifty online map where you can click on potential development sites, see what’s being considered, and then add your two cents.

Here’s the main project page with links to download the draft plan.

Stay tuned for more analysis and opportunities to get involved as this plan continues to evolve and firm up.

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

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Gal by Bike: A day with the people who make Biketown tick

Bike Portland - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 10:31

Motivate employee Nissy Cobb tests the tech during a service call.
(Photos: Kate Johnson)

Our “Gal By Bike” columnist Kate Johnson recently spent a day embedded with Biketown mechanics and rebalancers. She last wrote about guerrilla artwork on neighborhood greenways.

Selfie in full safety regalia.

One fine evening in July of 2016 I just so happened to find myself on a corner outside a warehouse in inner southeast Portland.

Biketown was just days away from launching and the anticipation throughout the city was palpable. Thanks to a truck outside the building, I was able to peer into the windows and see a full fleet of 1,000 loud orange bikes lined up like readied soldiers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I still well up a bit just thinking about that sight. That room wasn’t just filled with bikes, it was filled with hope — hope that the title of “best bike city” wasn’t just a fluke and hope that we were on the precipice of a great transportation revolution.

Since that day, I have imagined Biketown headquarters to be absolute mania. I envisioned bikes swarming to and fro, bike stands littering the entire warehouse floor — each manned by a mechanic tirelessly torquing their wrenches as sweat beads on their forehead. Much like the New York Stock Exchange — but with bright orange bikes. This is not at all what I found when I visited the headquarters last week. As it turns out, keeping a giant operation of 1,000 bikes and 100 stations going doesn’t have to come down to chaos and hustle and bustle. The folks at Biketown are working smart, efficiently, and having “the most fun you’ll find in any office in Portland” as one employee put it. After spending a day watching how Biketown functions, to say I was impressed would be an understatement.

James Keating, a CCC alum, is head mechanic of the 1,000 bike fleet.

While there’s a great deal of technology that goes into powering Biketown, a lot of the work boils down to decisions made by the individual employees. Most of my day was spent shadowing the mechanical and balancing portion of Biketown’s operation and I was surprised to see that there was no specific algorithm dictating the day’s work. The mechanics and rebalancers appear to govern their own business — enjoying a great deal of autonomy with everyone else throughout the office, from directors to operations associates. There’s a definite sense of independence and respect across the board.

James Keating, lead mechanic, was my first point of contact when I walked in the door at Biketown headquarters. After ten years of working with Portland’s Community Cycling Center, Keating now oversees four mechanics. As a team, they are making sure that each and every bike you step onto is safe and fully functional. Keating informed me that many mechanical issues are reported directly from bike share users. He chuckled a little while recounting some of the long and detailed reports he’s received from users. Keating and the other mechanics make monthly safety checks a priority along with annual overhauls of each bike. With a one thousand bike fleet, that is no small feat. Keating points to the uniformity and utility of the bikes as a strength — allowing new mechanics to be more easily trained to deal with the common and reoccurring fixes that the fleet requires. I was under the impression that my time would be spent sitting alongside the mechanics, watching them do their thing in the warehouse. The longtail bike filled with tools and blindingly bright safety vest waiting for me suggested otherwise.

Custom service bikes from Xtracycle.

A great deal of the mechanical work is done out in the field and, with most of Biketown’s docking stations and open parking areas located in high traffic and pedestrian areas, it should come as no surprise that this work is most efficiently done by bike. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overly excited to ride around town on an official Biketown longtail bike. Mechanic, Nissy Cobb, was kind enough to slow down for me and show me how her job’s done. You see, when Cobb isn’t riding an average of 10+ miles per day throughout Portland’s Biketown service area, she’s out absolutely crushing it as an American Track Cyclist specializing in sprinting — a fact that she very modestly glossed over when she shared with me that “she likes to ride track”. When I was introduced to Cobb she was busy planning her route for the day on a simple laminated service area map labeled with dry erase marker. Her goal each day is to complete as many repairs out in the field as possible while being efficient with her time spent commuting from one site to another.

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Nissy Cobb

Cobb grew up in Portland and, as she proudly stated, did not get her driver’s license until she turned 23 years old. She’s gotten around by bike for as long as she can remember, and her ability to get from one site to another without staring at a map was pretty impressive to me. When I asked her what her favorite piece of bike infrastructure was in the city, she spoke very fondly of the now removed Better Naito project. “Why would they get rid of that!?” she asked as we headed toward our first repair. She went on to explain how much easier it made her job. Cobb mirrored the same confidence and calm shared with everyone else I would go on to meet. Rolling with the punches and handling each mechanical issue with clear knowledge and expertise being her specialty.

Rescuing a bike under I-5 near the Esplanade.

The first repair was located under the highway near the Vera Katz statue on the East Bank Esplanade. The scene we found was all too common for Cobb, but quite shocking for me. Imagine a Biketown bike slumped haphazardly against a bike rack with all of it’s technological insides ripped out and strewn around carelessly. Cobb laughed as she informed me that this bike was labeled in the system as having “connection issues” — a definite understatement. You never know if you’re going to come across a simply resolved computer issue or a complete massacre. After cleaning up the area and filling out a series of forms, the bike was left to be picked up later using the hauling trike. Replacing and reformatting Biketown bike computer systems remain the most expensive and prevalent repair for the company. “There are a lot of people out there that simply don’t like Biketown”, Cobb explained.

More connection errors, some battery replacements due to dwindling sunlight and usage with the changing season, and a brake adjustment that Cobb made look effortless followed before we returned to headquarters and Cobb turned me over to Brian Soutavong — fleet balancing extraordinaire. Like Cobb, Soutavong appeared to call the shots that dictate his day. His goal is to maintain an optimal number of available bikes at each of Portland’s 100 docking stations. It’s likely that you’ve seen the Biketown rebalancing vans out and about throughout Portland. On this day, you may have seen me, comically struggling to mimic Soutavong by attempting to get two 60 pound bikes up the van ramp at a time. Soutavong literally appeared to be floating up the ramp while I literally grunted my way halfway before he so mercifully removed one of the bikes from my grasp. This position is no joke, folks. These bikes are heavy and, as with any job where you’re out and about in a busy city, there are sometimes unforeseen dangers or threats that may come your way.

Brian Soutavong.

Using the online map to help target rebalancing efforts.

While helping with some bike loading at a docking station outside the Pine Street Market in southwest, I was waiting for Soutavong to come down from the van ramp before handing one of two bikes on to him when an individual with mental health needs began to walk toward me. In an attempt to appear as unthreatening as possible as he came toward me yelling, I turned away, allowing him to proceed past me. Upon passing, he became frustrated, yelled “get out of my way!”, and proceeded to sucker punch me in my right upper arm. Shocked and dazed, I allowed him to proceed, not knowing what the protocol is in this situation. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence in our city, and it’s a potential hazard for the employees working directly with the bikes – finding themselves strung across Portland on the daily.

When I asked Soutavong if anything like that had ever happened to him, he recounted a time when he was verbally attacked by a woman who screamed at him to justify to her how he could work for a company like Nike. Soutavong responded that he does not work for Nike, he works for a company called Motivate that gets some sponsorship from Nike. The truth is that the employees of Motivate that make sure Biketown is running smoothly are working to make the city we live, a city that millions of tourists visit each year, a more livable and vibrant city. They’re doing it with thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, and passion. Employees are treated and compensated fairly for the work that they do. They also enjoy full benefits, a 401 K, and several other incentives that would be tough to argue were anything but respectable.

There is a lot to improve about the streets of Portland and the inequality that exists on them. These issues may be easier to avoid when you are alone in your car. Bike share asks us to be bigger than ourselves and impresses the need to work together to solve these looming problems. Biketown is a very human and real part of the solution.

If you’re one of the individuals who have helped Biketown clock over 574,693 miles, rest assured that you’re supporting a human-run operation that cares about you and your safety as you move about our city. Take a minute to thank the next mechanic or rebalancer that you see out and about. They’re job isn’t easy, though they may make it look as though it is.

I would like to personally thank Biketown and the folks at Motivate for letting me spend the day with them and for allowing me to spontaneously and happily bike about this city I call home.

— Kate Johnson. Read more from her Gal By Bike column.

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Weekend Event Guide: Art, Evan Deutsch, cyclocross, future of transportation, and more

Bike Portland - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 09:16


The Weekend Event Guide is sponsored by Abus Bike Locks. Thanks Abus!

I hope you have some extra time this weekend because we’ve got a solid slate of things to do.

And take a look at what’s up tomorrow: An all-woman panel at City Club, a women’s support group campout, and a ride that partners with The Street Trust’s Women Bike program. See anything in common?

Scroll down for our selections. And have a great weekend no matter what you end up doing…

Friday, November 3rd

Future of Transportation in Portland at City Club – 12:15 at Sentinal Hotel (614 SW 11th)
City Club’s Friday Forum will feature a discussion about the recently passed transportation package with panelists that include: Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson; State Representative Barbara Smith Warner; and Sarah Iannarone, Associate Director of First Stop Portland. More info here.

Portland Society Boot Camp – All weekend at Stub Stewart State Park in Vernonia
Join our friends at Portland Society, a support group for women entrepreneurs, at their annual networking boot camp. This year’s theme is “Persist” and will focus on taking care of yourself in these difficult times. More info here.

Art Ride on the Eastside – 5:30 pm at Night Light Lounge (2100 SE Clinton St)
This ride will explore six art spaces in inner southeast. It’s a collab between First Friday PDX/Eastside Artwalk and The Street Trust’s Women Bike program. Open to everyone. More info here.

Saturday, November 4th

Tree planting by bike: Montavilla, Mt Tabor, South Tabor – 12:00 to 4:00 pm at 8815 NE Glisan St
Friends of Trees will host this tree planting extravaganza and they have special “bike crews” to help make it all happen. More info here.

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Bikepacking and Endurance Riding Presentation – 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Cyclepath PDX (2436 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd)
Cyclepath-sponsored racer Evan Deutsch is ready to share his stories and insights gleaned from his 2017 Trans Am Bike Race victory. Deutsch has also done tons of bikepacking and self-supported touring (including the Tour Divide) and has a wealth of knowledge. If you want tips and/or inspiration, don’t miss this! More info here.

Sunday, November 5th

Cyclocross Crusade #7 – All day at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn
It’s the penultimate race in the series and it’s a new venue to boot. Or, I should say, to shoe! Teams will compete not just on the course but also in the weekly contest. This week’s theme is handicrafts! Bring your best creation for a chance to win. More info here.

Chehalem Ridge Ramble – 8:00 at Hatfield Government MAX Station (end of the blue line) in Hillsboro
Shawn from the illustrious Urban Adventure League will lead this relaxed pace adventure to one of his favorite spots: the little-known Chehalem Ridge. Expect 40 miles and some really nice people to pedal with. Show up at 8:00 to get breakfast, ride rolls out at 9:00. More info here.

Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee (941 NW Overton)
Weekly training ride out to Sauvie and back via the West Hills. Very fast riders up front, but also different speed groups form behind. More info here.

Theater Ride – 12:15 pm at the Aerial Tram (South Waterfront)
This week’s Puddlecycle Ride will take in a theater performance at Lewis & Clark’s Fir Acres Theater. Ride is just 5.5 (mostly carfree) miles from the Tram to the theater with steady climbing (which means the way back is downhill!). Get in touch with the ride leader for discounted tickets ($8, otherwise they’re $10/$15). More info here.

Check out the full list of events on the BP Calendar.

Sign up here to get this Weekend Guide delivered to your inbox.

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

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Fuji Newest Converted *FOR SALE*

Velospace - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 06:53
Frame / Size / Year:
Newest (alloy) / 58cm / 2009

Police say Portlander Boyd Littell fell from his bike, then died in Colonel Summers Park

Bike Portland - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 13:00

Boyd Littell in 2016.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A man who was well-known among many in Portland for his cycling and musical prowess has died.

40-year-old Boyd Littell was found early Tuesday morning in Colonel Summers Park. The police confirmed his identity a few minutes ago and said he likely died after falling from his bicycle.

We’ve also heard something similar from a source close to Boyd: That he crashed while riding his bike, hit his head, walked over to the park, lay down, and never woke up.

I met Boyd for the first time in January 2016. I was on a break from work at the Stumptown on SW 3rd Avenue downtown when his bike caught my eye. Boyd worked as a messenger (when he wasn’t playing drums in his popular band ADDverse Effects) and rode a highly customized, white Klein road bike with flat bars, carbon tri-spike wheels, lots of personal flair and an obviously courier-influenced aesthetic. I ended up chatting with him for a while and shared a little profile of him here on BikePortland. He seemed like a very creative and interesting guy. And today, reading through all the tributes to him from friends on his Facebook page, he was even more creative and interesting than I ever knew.

Dee Branham, co-owner of a local courier company and friend of Boyd’s, tells us Boyd made his final radio dispatch at 8:30 pm on Monday from Yur’s Bar & Grill. Dee and others are looking for people who might have seen or talked to Boyd between then and when he was found on Tuesday morning. If you know anything, get in touch and we’ll connect you with Dee.

Our thoughts are with Boyd’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.

UPDATE: Here’s a memoriam sent to us via email by a member of Boyd’s family:

Boyd Littell, found in SE Portland park, 40 years old, died of a bike accident

He was Susan [None Binkley] Greer’s dearly loved brother. Keever’s uncle. He was Bob Littell’s son. His mother’s [Jaquine Hudson Bly] baby, and older sister Morgan’s [Rogers] little brother. He so revered his late brother. He was the time keeper for so many dance classes over the years, at OU and Modern Dance Arts, and others. He was the band mate of the most talented musicians in this town. He was a romantic, with the prettiest, most talented girlfriends, and he was so many’s good, great, best friend. If you knew Boyd, there were too many friends to count, mutual friends, that you had in common, that you respected for their choices, their talent, their inspiration. Now Boyd’s gone, but I want you to know, how he was special. Any of us could tell lots of stories about our friend, his friends, our mutual friends, and the good times that we had. But let me leave you with this: Bob Littell, Gee’s dad, always had his eye out for a beautiful cloud formation in the sky, and on a good day, nothing could get better than the beauty he found in the clouds, and he passed that appreciation of beauty to Boyd, and every time Boyd stopped to talk, to update me on his life, his music, his challenges and his successes, when there was a beautiful cloud in the sky, you could feel that special connection Boyd had to his dad, and the beauty he found in his life. That he passed, probably looking skyward, possibly searching for his closest connections above, is only fitting, and comforting, in this horribly saddening moment of our loss. Remember Boyd when you look to the sky, and know his kind thoughts are with us, as we grieve his passing.

You were cared about, you were loved, your friendship and attention was appreciated and cherished, by oh so many. We are all so sad, as we gather various places to celebrate your too short life.

From his ADDverse Effects friends
From his Mama Sweet friends
From his Dance School friends
From his The Ils friends
From some of the prettiest girls in town

we will miss you, we cherish you, we promise to embrace your “joie de vivre,” exemplar that you could be. Thanks, kind, caring friend. We love you. Thanks for touching our lives.

Such sad news, [the evening before my 67th birthday,] from Colonel Summers Park, near Southeast Belmont Street and Southeast 20th Avenue before 7:43 a.m., October 31, 2017.

For more on Boyd, read this post from the Portland Mercury.

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

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Magazine: 48 Hours with the Tern GSD

Bike Hugger - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 12:09

This is the first story originated from our new home for Bike Hugger Magazine on Medium and provided free—no paywall—by our friends at Tern Bicycles.

Of course, I want to earn subscription money for the story, but also know paywalls aren’t an easy sell. So each month we’re offering up one free article sponsored by our partners like Tern and hopefully that’ll encourage you to sign up at Medium and unlock a membership.

Membership costs $5/month and gets you our content ad-free and access to other leading media outlets with news analysis, original reporting, and opinion features.

Our authors get paid by the views, so you can reward us (or not) for what we do here, like review the Tern GSD.

The GSD is a utility bike with more range than most electric cars. And, we’ve been getting lots done with it. The 150-mile range means it can replace a car, an SUV, and whatever else you want to do. The capacity is two kids, a week’s worth of groceries, and all my camera gear, but it’s only 180 cm long—shorter than a standard e-bike. It packs down small enough to fit in a large SUV or an urban apartment, and it adjusts to fit riders from 150 – 195 cm.

48 Hours with the Tern GSD

That’s more range than most electric cars.

My usage for the GSD is errands, dropping off packages at the shipping center near my house, and the occasional commute. I’ve also zipped around to shoots like the one yesterday about morning commuters and another today about taking photos with an iPhone.

There’s much buzz about the GSD and, as you can read, it’s well deserved and mostly because of how the bike handles. As I wrote in the article

The GSD works so well, because it was designed around a Bosch mid mount electric motor, and considers the ride above all.

 

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