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Comment of the Week: Slow Skyline Boulevard down, don’t widen it

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 10:30

If drivers simply slowed down, riding on Skyline could always be this pleasant.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

We’re long overdue to put the spotlight on a great comment.

Our Comment of the Week goes to noted local activist and lawyer (and BikePortland supporter) Scott Kocher.

On Wednesday he shared insights about a road he knows very well: NW Skyline Blvd. His comment came on our story about Multnomah County’s online open house that seeks feedback on their 20 Year Road Plan. One project on that list would consider “augmenting shoulders” and possibly providing, “enhanced shoulder bikeways.”

Here’s Scott’s comment:

“I agree: slow Skyline down, don’t widen it. I met a surgeon once who lives on Skyline (and doesn’t bike) who commented to me that he figures Skyline must be “littered with dead bicyclists.” His phrase not mine, and I think it reflects a common misunderstanding. To my knowledge which goes back roughly 20 years, nobody has ever been killed cycling on Skyline. The VZ Crash Map (data from Portland to Newberry/McNamee) is consistent with that: No deaths and 4 injuries in 10 years. Nobody is texting except on the few straightaways because you’d drive off the road. Likewise if you’re driving drunk you won’t make it very far. There aren’t many intersections. The curves keep speeds much lower than on other thru routes in the area. The people who ride up there tend to be almost as fast as the vehicles (most of them, in most places), which means a relatively small speed differential. There’s poor separation but it’s a gradual approach, with more time to avoid a crash, and lesser injury if a driver did god forbid rear-end somebody. My only near miss up there in 18 years was a (near) left hook: driver coming the other way turning left into her driveway apparently didn’t see 4 riders wearing hi-viz with 500-lumen flashing daytime headlights. I’ve seen some very bad passes. I’ve seen the aftermath of roadway departure crashes. If left hooks, bad passes and roadway departures are the problem, wider shoulders won’t help. Wider shoulders might well encourage more speed, more cut-thru traffic, and more crashes.

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If PBOT complied with the 20MPH Ordinance (Skyline is a non-arterial in a residence district) then people who want to drive fast would have to slow down, modestly increasing drive times and reducing cut-thru traffic off Hwy 30 and Hwy 26. People who live there would have a place to walk and jog and walk dogs without fear instead of being shut in. Everyone, including people who want to bike or e-bike, would receive the level of safety guaranteed to them by the the 20 MPH law and Ordinance. Which went into effect 14 months ago. How about it?”

What I like about Scott’s comment is that he uses a mix of data, direct personal experience, and calm reasoning to bolster his points. He also shares how current policy could impact the issue and paints a picture of what Skyline could be like if he got his wishes. Then Scott ends with a subtle call-to-action.

Thanks for the comment Scott.

But wait! There’s more! Here are a few other great comments that have come in recently:

— Don’t miss El Biciclero’s eloquent and though-provoking explanation of why we really don’t have any true “bikeways” in Portland.

— maxD shared several very strong points of concern about ODOT’s plans for lids over I-5 as part of their Rose Quarter project.

– Esther reminded us about the power of inclusive language.

Thank you for bucking the trend of not reading comments.

While it takes vigilance and dedication to the conversation, I believe our comment sections helps the community learn and grow together. It takes all of us working together to make them a helpful resource. Please do your part by: writing productive comments, flagging inappropriate ones (contact me directly), and nominating great ones by typing “comment of the week” as a reply.

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

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Look what just came out of The Vanilla Workshop

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 08:57

The Speedvagen Ready Made Disc OG. Built in Portland.
(Photos: The Vanilla Workshop)

Portland’s framebuilder scene has changed a lot since its heyday more than a decade ago. At one point it felt like a new builder would arrive on the scene every month. Builders were the toast of the town and were invited to display their creations everywhere from City Hall to City Club and even the Portland Airport.

The boom has passed and the number of local framebuilders has shrunk back to just a handful. The builders that remain are mostly the ones that seemed to have always been here. Sacha White is one of them.

White’s Vanilla Bicycles were some of the most coveted bicycles on the planet. “What Tiffany is to pearls, Sacha White is to bicycle frames,” was how he was introduced to a group of business leaders at an event in 2007. Now known as The Vanilla Workshop, a collaborative approach to business White launched in 2015, he and his team of bicycle artisans continue to set standards in the industry.

The Vanilla Workshop’s Richard Pool recently got in touch to share their latest “Ready Made” offering from the Speedvagen family. White stopped making only one-off, custom bikes long ago. Like other builders, he realized it’s impossible to scale-up and get more of your bikes on the road when you make everything by yourself with your own two hands. White found a niche doing small-batch builds. Vanilla’s Ready Made bikes are semi-custom. They start with a stock geometry and design and build a run of sizes. Customers can then choose a parts kit, paint and which braze-ons (attachment points for racks, pump, bottles, fenders) they’d like.

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Their latest Speedvagen Ready Made model is the Disc OG. Here’s more from the company:

“The Speedvagen Disc OG is presented without preciousness. There are no frills, the Disc OG is a dedicated hand crafted tool for road riding and racing. It’s a workhorse. Following our Speedvagen method of stripping away all that isn’t necessary we landed on a bike that is ready to rip and easy to work on, or upgrade later. The frame design uses our own Speedvagen tubing, signature seat mast, hour glass seat stays, head tube and race ready stock geometry, perfect for long days in the saddle or sprints to the line.”

The bike comes with a standard build kit that can be upgraded and customized to your wishes. The base price for a complete bike is $5995 and it takes $500 to reserve one. Wait time is just 2-3 months, a relative blink of the eye compared to the 3-4 year wait back in Vanilla’s custom days.

More details on their website.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, Breadwinner, Bike Clark County, Rapha

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/01/2019 - 07:23

Spring must be approaching because we’ve had five new job listings come in this week. If you’re looking for a new position or want to get your foot in the door of our local bike industry, we’ve got some excellent opportunities for you.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Bike Camp Supervisor (seasonal, May – Sept.) – Community Cycling Center

–> Bike Camp Instructor (seasonal, summer) – Community Cycling Center

–> Customer Service Advisor – Rapha Racing

–> Customer Service and Sales Manager – Breadwinner Cycles

–> Bike Mechanic – Bike Clark County

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

Be the first to know about new job opportunities by signing up for our daily Job Listings email or by following @BikePortland on Twitter.

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

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

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Wonk Night Wednesday (3/6): Let’s talk about the I-5 Rose Quarter project

Bike Portland - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 15:46

What’s the purpose of this proposed overcrossing at NE Clackamas street? Is it only to dress up the plan drawings and hide the widening of the freeway beneath it? (Graphics: ODOT)

While the fact that the Oregon Department of Transportation wants to widen I-5 through our central city gets most of the attention (reasonably so), an estimated half of the project’s $500 million price tag will be spent on surface streets and non-freeway infrastructure.

If the I-5 Rose Quarter project ever gets built, what does ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation have in mind for people who use this area on foot, on bikes, and other low-impact mobility devices? What can we do as a community to make sure that if we make a big investment in the Rose Quarter, we get the most possible bang for our buck? What can you do to influence this project?

If you have questions, are maybe feeling a bit overwhelmed by ODOT’s environmental assessment (EA) documents, and want to learn more about where things stand on this mega-project, we’d like to invite you to a special Wonk Night next week.

Join us this Wednesday (3/6) at 6:00pm in the offices of Lancaster Engineering (321 SW 4th Avenue, 4th Floor). We’ll have Q & As with smart people, break into groups and delve more deeply into the EA, learn from each others perspectives, and ultimately — set ourselves up to have a strong influence on the project.

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On Wednesday night we’ll be joined by leaders from the community including volunteers from Bike Loud PDX, engineers and planners from Lancaster Engineering (our host), reps from No More Freeways PDX, Planning & Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith, City Observatory economist and writer Joe Cortright, Iain MacKenzie from Next Portland, and others.

Everyone is welcome (agency staff too!). The goal of the event is to connect with each other, raise awareness about the project, and help us all make well-informed comments about the EA. And you’ll note that our event is the night before ODOT’s big public open house on the project (that was no accident).

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with comments about the project made by PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly earlier this month:

“We are prioritizing public engagement because this project is one of the most significant transportation efforts in recent years. It will have an enormous impact on how people from across the region and even across the state travel to, through, and around Portland. I want to ensure that this project reflects our values, particularly our commitment to equity, sustainability, and safety.

ODOT and other state transportation leaders need to hear that the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project must do more than make it easier to merge on highways in the Rose Quarter. Consistent with Central City 2035 (adopted by City Council in May 2018), a project that focuses exclusively on the comfort of highway drivers is unacceptable. This is why the City partnered with ODOT to ensure that this venture prioritizes the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. It should make it dramatically easier and safer for people walking, biking, taking transit, and driving in the Rose Quarter.”

Bring your questions, some snacks and some drinks to share (we’re trying to roust some donations but not sure if anything will come through in time), and please consider joining us.

Wonk Night: I-5 Rose Quarter project

Wednesday, March 6th, 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Lancaster Engineering – 321 SW 4th Avenue, 4th Floor)

(If you’ve never been to a Wonk Night, read the recaps below to get a sense of how they go.)

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

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CHS: City wants to install electric car charger in future path of Broadway bikeway

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 14:21

Base image: SDOT’s Broadway bikeway and streetcar extension plans. As noted, the proposed car charger would be directly in the path of the bikeway.

Seattle is about to invest to build a public car charger directly in the path of the on-hold Broadway Bikeway extension north or Denny Way.

Once complete, people biking northbound in the Broadway protected bike lane would need to merge into mixed traffic at Denny Way to go around a parked electric car using the city’s charging station. And neither Seattle City Light nor SDOT seem concerned about this conflict, as Capitol Hill Seattle reports:

“In the absence of a bike lane currently, we believe this is a great location for an electric vehicle charging station,” Scott Thomsen, spokesperson for City Light tells CHS. “Should there come a time, we will be able to move our infrastructure.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation describes the situation a little differently.

“We do not believe installation of a charging station would preclude future bike lanes,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “Assuming a charging station is installed on Broadway, we would work with our partners at SCL to determine how to design a (protected bike lane) around it or shift the charging station to accommodate when the time came.”

The Broadway Bikeway extension is at the 90 percent design phase, which is essentially shovel-ready. It was initially scheduled for 2016, but has been put on hold due to a lack of funding for the associated streetcar extension. The design does not have on-street parking next to the charger location, but it does have parking space across the street as shown in the image above.

You can learn more and provide feedback at an open house 6 p.m. March 6 at Seattle Central College’s Broadway Edison Building in Room 1110. If you can’t make the open house, you can also contact the project team:

Thanks for asking! Folks that can't make it are encouraged to email comments to SCL_ElectricVehicles@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-3800.

— Seattle City Light (@SEACityLight) February 27, 2019

As we have argued, the bikeway should go ahead with or without the streetcar because its current abrupt end at Denny Way does not work. The Denny Way terminus was supposed to be temporary, but installing a charging station in the planned bikeway path suggests that the city considers it permanent. And that’s frustrating not just for bike access and safety along the north end of Broadway, but it severely limits the usability of the existing stretch of the bikeway that reaches south to Yesler Way.

Context as part of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan.

On the other hand, completing the Broadway Bikeway as designated in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan sets up a connection that could reach all the way to the University and 520 Bridges. It would also create a consistent street design for all of Broadway and improve safety for everyone, especially people walking.

Even if the city truly is willing to spend more money moving the charger later when the bikeway is installed, that feels like an unnecessary expense. More likely, the cost of moving the station will be yet another barrier to completing the bikeway.

But the bigger issue here is that the city is apparently not considering its modal plans when choosing car charging locations. Either that or they see charging cars as more important than biking. If the argument for public funding of car chargers is to fight climate change (a questionable strategy), then blocking a bike lane is counterproductive. It would be much better to install the chargers in parking spaces with no plans to change.

I’m not necessarily against experiments in public funding for electric car chargers, though there are equity questions about charging stations that need to be addressed. After all, you need to be able to own an electric car to use these public stations. But such efforts definitely cannot impede known solutions like transit, walking and biking. And I mean that literally in this case but also financially as the city budgets its resources.

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

Bike Portland - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 13:42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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County shares plans to address cycling safety during major road closure

Bike Portland - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 10:52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bike Portland - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 09:27

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 1st

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

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

Saturday, March 2nd

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 3rd

Slow Poke Ride – 10:00 am at Lents Park (SE)
Portland Wheelmen Touring Club-led ride that will venture to the Springwater path and roll to Boring with a stop at a bagel place. Expect about 25 miles. More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar.

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

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Learn about the future of Mercer Island’s Mountains to Sound Trail at Thursday open house

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 17:22

The Mercer Island Parks Department is creating a master plan for Aubrey Davis Park, including the Mountains to Sound Trail, and they are looking for public feedback.

Their open house got snowed out, so the rescheduled event is 6–8 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center (map) in Luther Burbank Park. You can also comment via their online open house through March 8. But be prepared, it’s pretty long.

The online open house shows a handful of potential trail design options depending on the location, and all of them would be 12 to 14 feet in width plus some gravel buffer:

Today, the trail is mostly lovely except for the stretch along the town center, where it crosses in front of driveways with poor visibility and crosses streets in crosswalks that could use improvement. Signals that separate trail and turn phases could be a good addition, as would better walk signal timing and bike detection. Elements of protected intersections could also work well here to make biking and walking more comfortable. The stretch of trail that passes through the transit center bus stops is also a bit awkward and could use more separation from the walking and waiting spaces.

More details on the open houses, from Mercer Island Parks:

The City’s Parks and Recreation Department is leading a master planning process in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to establish a shared community vision for the future of Aubrey Davis Park.

The in-person Open House is scheduled for Thursday, February 28, from 6:00-8:00pm at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center.

An online Open House will be taking place from Thursday, February 7 to March 8. Join us from the comfort of your home to take an interactive survey, learn more about opportunities for this park and give us your feedback.

We look forward to seeing you in-person on February 28!

Questions? Call 206-275-7609

Family Biking Column: My recap of the Worst Day of the Year Ride

Bike Portland - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:55

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

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

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

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

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

Plenty of room to gather in the closed streets.

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The bountiful breakfast spread.

Lots of coffee, before and after the ride.

Souvenirs.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

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

Worst Day event staff is the best, thanks Greg!

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

The course was very well marked with yellow arrows.

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

Rest stop helmet and handlebar decoration station.

Rest stop snow station was very popular.

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

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

Lunch!

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

The photo booth was very fun.

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

The most amazing costume I saw!

Costume contest all-stars.

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

The birthday boy won the race to the finish.

Pixie was in a party dress under her blankie.

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

Were you there? Will go you next year? What would you suggest as a group costume assuming we branch out next time? Thanks for reading!

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

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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Rock Creek Cyclery is a new hub for bike lovers in Hillsboro

Bike Portland - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:00

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

Naomi Fast is our Washington County correspondent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Naomi Fast, Ms. Fast on Twitter

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

Bike Portland - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 11:22

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Selle Royal Supports Cyclists

Bike Hugger - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 21:15

For our European readers, Selle Royal’s latest project ‘Support Cyclists On The Road’ offers free maintenance checks and cups of coffee to cyclists in ten cities across Europe.

Likewise, I hope they bring the project here.

Setting off this Friday (March 1st) from the Selle Royal base in Pozzoleone, the Van will make stopes in Padua, Milan, Innsbruck, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Düsseldorf, Turin and Mantova.

At each location, a dedicated team will set up the Selle Royal van along various cycling hotspots. In addition, the team will invite cyclists to stop for a free bike check and an authentic Italian Bristot coffee while they wait; the ideal solution to those who don’t have time for – or sometimes overlook – the basics of bike maintenance.

Selle Royal is very proud of the new project and excited to what crowds the yellow Van attracts. Selle Royal’s philosophy believes in community and their extensive range of saddles are derived from decades of research and development in the industry. Commenting on the project, Lara Cunico, Marketing Manager at Selle Royal, said

This year, to further improve riding experiences, we have the chance to offer cyclists something more than just our comfort – we are meeting them on the road to offer our expertise, useful bike tips and a little refreshment. We will bring some fun and entertainment, and look forward to an exchange of experiences with the communities; a great way to encourage and promote a sustainable cycling lifestyle!

Hello Selle! The road market here in the states could use the support too.

Support Dates and Cities

Padua, Italy
1-2 March 2019 – Piazza Portello

Milan, Italy
7 March 2019 – Upcycle Bike Cafè, via Ampère (pm)
8-9 March 2019 – Largo la Foppa

Innsbruck, Austria
12-13 March 2019 – Marktplatz

Berlin, Germany
15-16 March 2019 – Wingwheels, Kastanienallee
27-28 April 2019 – VELOBerlin, Tempelhof Airport

Rotterdam, The Netherlands
18 March 2019 – Eendrachtsplein

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
20-21 March 2019 – Wibautstraat

Düsseldorf, Germany
23-24 March 2019 – Cyclingworld, Hansaallee

Munich, Germany
27 March 2019 – Wiener Platz
28 March 2019 – Geschwister-Scholl-Platz

Turin, Italy
30-31 March 2019 – Corso Castelfidardo

Mantova, Italy
17-19 May 2019 – Bam, Lungolago Gonzaga

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

Bike Portland - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 16:07

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

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

Specifically, members of the group will:

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


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PBOT will be especially interested in your application if:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bike Portland - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 15:16

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

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

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

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I saw several people with their own e-scooters.

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

Lots of Angelenos get around by transit plus bikes.

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

7th Street/Metro Center.

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

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

Three different bike shares in Santa Monica!

Lovely walking paths at Union Station.

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

Protected bike lanes to the beach.

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

Sweltering at the bus stop.

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

Waiting for the FlyAway Bus with a gazillion other travelers.

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

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

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

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

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

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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

Bike Portland - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 10:21

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

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

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

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

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

Getting the gear sorted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 hours, 50 minutes!

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

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

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Man killed biking across Rainier Ave, suspect in white sedan fled the scene

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 18:50

The 9200 block of Rainier includes this curve just south of the Safeway and Rainier Beach Branch Library. Image from Google Maps.

A man biking across Rainier Ave was killed Monday evening when someone driving a white sedan struck him and fled the scene, according to Seattle Police. The suspect is still on the loose.

The man’s identity and age have not been released. Our condolences to his friends and family.

Police said in a blotter post that the victim was riding his bike across Rainier Ave S in the 9200 block, which includes a wide curve in the busy and notoriously dangerous street just south of the Safeway and Rainier Beach Branch Library.

Police did not release any more specifics about the circumstances of the collision. Other media reports suggest it happened near Sturtevant Ave S near the south end of the curve. The suspect’s white sedan should have “extensive damage to the front end and windshield.” Anyone with information should call the SPD non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

This is the same block where someone struck and killed Kao Saeteurn while he was trying to cross the street on foot just over a year ago. That suspect also fled the scene.

The south segment of the Rainier Ave safety project was originally scheduled for 2016. Now the city says maybe 2020. Original graphic from SDOT, edits by Seattle Bike Blog.

This stretch of Rainier Ave was supposed to receive a safety redesign in 2016, but city leaders have delayed that project for three years now despite consistent neighborhood outcry. Neighbors renewed their calls for the city to complete the Rainier Ave Road Safety Corridor Project last summer after someone driving struck and injured two kids at Rainier and Henderson, just a couple blocks north of Monday’s fatal collision.

Mayor Durkan did rush out a few small changes to that intersection after neighbors held a rally to demand safety changes to the street, but she and SDOT have continued to delay the full safety project.

Serious and fatal collisions were nearly eliminated after a wildly successful safety project on Rainier Ave between Columbia City and Hillman City, which makes it that much more infuriating that the city still has not completed the safety project. We can see that it works, yet the city still does not even plan to fix it for another year. And that’s assuming it doesn’t get pushed back again.

It’s way to early to know whether the city’s safety project could have prevented Monday’s collision. There just aren’t enough details. But we know that this stretch of Rainier is deadly, especially this block. And we know that we can redesign the street to reduce speeding, serious injuries and deaths. It is simply unethical for the city to ignore this safety problem the way they have. At this point, it’s a dereliction of the city’s basic duty to protect the well-being of its residents.

More details on Monday’s collision, from Seattle Police:

Detectives are investigating after a man was struck and killed in a hit and run while riding his bike in the Rainier Beach neighborhood Monday evening.

Officers were dispatched to the 9200 block of Rainier Avenue South at 4:50 p.m. Monday for a report of a white sedan that had struck a bicyclist and then fled the scene.

Seattle Fire Department Medics attempted life-saving measures but the man died at the scene.

Witnesses said the bicyclist was attempting to cross Rainier Avenue South when he was hit by the sedan which was traveling in the southbound lanes.

Traffic Collision Detectives are now investigating and are searching for a white sedan with extensive damage to the front end and windshield.  If you have any information please call the non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

This remains an active scene and details may change as the investigation continues.

North Fessenden and 82nd claimed more victims last night

Bike Portland - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:20

Another person was seriously injured on N Fessenden last night.

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

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

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

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

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Southbound 82nd at Jonesmore.

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

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

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

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

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

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City releases final plans for Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway project

Bike Portland - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 15:37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, check out the project website.

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

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Influential Portland Planning Commission seeks three new members

Bike Portland - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 14:28

It only looks boring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This recruitment will be open until March 15th.

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

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

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

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