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Seattle and Bellevue both make it on America’s Best New Bikeways of 2018

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 14:21

The 2nd Ave bike lane in Belltown, named America’s Best New Bikeway in 2018.

Seattle and Bellevue both turned heads nationally with protected bike lanes that opened this year, making People For Bikes’ list of “America’s 10 Best New Bikeways of 2018.”

Seattle’s entry, the fantastic 2nd Ave bike lane extension in Belltown, made the 2018 list on a technicality: It was a 2017 project that ran overtime and didn’t open until January 2018. But it is really great and worthy of the top spot on the list it won. It shows what the city is capable of when given a serious budget. Every new bike lane does not need to be as fully-featured as this stretch on day one, which comes with both financial and construction time premiums. But it should be the ultimate goal for our bike network to be as functional and complete as this bike lane someday, even if a lower-cost version makes more sense in the near-term.

Congratulations to the SDOT team that made this incredible addition to the downtown bike network happen. You never really got the victory lap and praise you deserved for it. So here it is, a year late. From People For Bikes:

The new bikeway includes three new signals in Belltown, which help people cross 2nd Avenue. There were also upgrades to 11 other signals, concrete planters with foot rests, and raised driveway crossings. All of this made for record ridership in the area this year, with a 34% increase from 2017, and a 380% increase from 2014.

Our top slot was awarded for having full concrete separation in addition to numerous innovative bike-specific structures. We liked that it was built off a successful demonstration project that debuted in 2014, and that lessons learned from the 2014 demonstration led to design revisions and more advanced separation techniques. The success of the demonstration also directly led to the permanent installation, doubling the length of the original project. The corridor provides network connections to three other protected bike lane projects feeding into downtown. This project is an example of progress toward a truly complete network.

Bellevue’s 108th Ave downtown bike lane demonstration earned an honorable mention on the list. Passing through the heart of downtown and connecting directly to Bellevue Transit Center, the bike lane launched in conjunction with bike share.

A lot of work is still needed to connect Bellevue neighborhoods and homes across the region to the new bike lane, but Bellevue deserves a lot of credit for going after the most difficult part first. It’s a bold and effective test that will hopefully form the backbone of a bike network in coming years.

It’s also worth noting that while Seattle’s mayor has all but failed to build new bike lanes in 2018 (that weren’t scheduled for 2017 like 2nd Ave), Bellevue is putting its westside neighbor to shame. From People For Bikes:

Fifteen miles of bike network was installed citywide in 2018, and the 108th Avenue (Downtown Demonstration Bikeway) was the marquee project. It opened in July, concurrent with the launch of the bikeshare, and closed a 0.8-mile gap through Downtown Bellevue, connecting the I-90 and SR-520 Regional Trails.

With support from the downtown association, the project repurposed travel lanes to implement quick-build bike lanes. Featuring painted buffers, planter boxes, plastic curbs and posts, green paint, and a modular bus/bike platform, the project improves access to the city center and transit center.

Preliminary results show that there’s been an increase of 65% in use of bikeway, with 87% of those surveyed feeling safer and more comfortable. They’ve also measured that auto travel time remains the same.

City relents to neighborhood concerns, will stripe unprotected bike lanes on N Denver

Bike Portland - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 13:08


*PBOT conceptual drawings from September showing the original design (on the left) and the modified one created after hearing concerns from some residents.

A project that initially proposed parking-protected bike lanes on North Denver Avenue will now get just standard bike lanes.

“The project can be delivered with standard bike lanes and curb-tight parking while leaving open the potential to switch to parking-protected bike lanes as part of a future project.
— Geren Shankar, PBOT project manager

That’s the decision made by the Portland Bureau of Transportation after tallying public feedback and responding to concerns in the neighborhood about how the bike lanes would impact their lives.

Back in March we shared the original plans for Denver between Lombard and Watts. The idea was use a planned repaving project as an opportunity to create an “all ages and abilities” bikeway that would connect the Arbor Lodge and Kenton neighborhoods. Instead of a bike lane next to moving traffic and parked cars, the proposal would have built curbside bike lanes protected from drivers by a parking lane (similar to what we have on Rosa Parks) The newly designed street would be much safer for all users and it was scheduled to be constructed this past summer.

But when the project got to the Kenton Neighborhood Association, PBOT received pushback and opted to delay the project a full year. In a meeting back in September to allay concerns, garner feedback, and consider other options, PBOT Project Manager Geren Shankar characterized the neighborhood opposition as: confusion over where to place trash cans, how the new design might impact driving, and complaints about inadequate public outreach. At that time the plan was to take a survey and get as much feedback as possible then tally the responses and make a decision.

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The choices were: A parking-protected bike lane or a standard bike lane. In a letter being sent to Kenton neighbors today, PBOT says their choice is a standard bike lane.

Here’s the text of the letter from PBOT’s Shankar:

“We initially proposed repaving N Denver Avenue this past summer with protected bike lanes, transit stops and crossing medians. We received positive support, but also heard some concerns about the proposed design and placed the project on hold to continue our outreach with the neighborhood. Outreach included a direct mailing, an online survey, a presentation at a meeting of the Kenton Neighborhood Association, and a public open house held on October 2, 2018.

While most of the Portlanders providing feedback on the project supported the original design, many residents still had concerns. In addition to reviewing the concerns about the design, we evaluated the possibility of signalized crossing improvements along the corridor but found that they were not warranted at this time. Our project team has determined that the project can be delivered with standard bike lanes and curb-tight parking while leaving open the potential to switch to parking-protected bike lanes as part of a future project. In the interest of moving forward with the needed paving maintenance in the summer of 2019, this is what we will do.”

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

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Business owner uses attorney and electeds to fight TriMet’s Gideon Overcrossing project

Bike Portland - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 12:31

Early TriMet rendering of Gideon Overcrossing.

Neighborhood transportation advocates in southeast Portland are sounding the alarm about TriMet’s Gideon Overcrossing project. They say opposition from an adjacent business owner could shelve the project.

“It’s unfair to me. What it’s doing to my business would require me to move.”
— Michael Koerner, Koerner Camera

Michael Koerner, owner of Koerner Camera Systems on SE 14th and Taggart, hired a lawyer who sent a letter (PDF) to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration on December 14th. The letter includes sharp criticisms of TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, questions the need of a bridge, and asks the FTA to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before moving forward.

As we reported last June, this project would build a new crossing of the Orange Line MAX light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks near the busy Clinton Street transit station. It would be a much-needed replacement to the crossing at SE 16th and Brooklyn Street TriMet demolished during Orange Line construction in 2013.

The new bridge would go from SE 13th on the south side of the tracks to SE 14th on the north. In March 2018, TriMet said that location was “an attractive option for commuters” due to its proximity to the existing light rail station at Clinton St (which would be about 300 feet west of the new overcrossing). The location was also chosen to, “best link to the Powell pedestrian crossing serving the Brooklyn neighborhood to Hosford-Abernethy.”

TriMet plan drawing. (Koerner’s business is where the words “North Elevator Structure” appear in the upper middle).

TriMet began the design process this past spring and the new, $14 million bridge was supposed to start construction in the next few months.

14th Avenue looking south where the new elevator and stairway would land with Koerner Camera on the left.

But Michael Koerner doesn’t want the bridge on 14th Avenue. His camera rental business that supplies high-end equipment to the film and TV industry is directly adjacent to the tracks. As designed, the bridge needs to use existing public right-of-way currently used to access Koerner’s parking lot and loading zone. Koerner said his concerns about safety and business impacts have fallen on deaf ears at TriMet so he hired a land-use attorney to fight the project.

In a phone call this morning Koerner told me he doesn’t oppose the bridge project, he just doesn’t want it on 14th Avenue. In addition to his concerns that mixing trucks and forklifts with bicycle riders and walkers would be a safety hazard, Koerner said, “It’s unfair to me. What it’s doing to my business would require me to move.” Koerner isn’t the only business owner opposed to the project. Several others share his concerns and are actively engaged against it.

Koerner’s attorney Jennifer Bragar from the law firm of Tomasi Salyer Martin, wrote a letter on December 14th to the regional head of the FTA. In the letter she requests a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and poke holes in the plan and the integrity of TriMet and the City of Portland.

“I am respectfully asking that you consider moving the bridge to a different location either up further on 16th St. or even consider 8th or 9th instead.”
— Rob Nosse, Oregon House Representative

Koerner also has support from Oregon House Representative Rob Nosse. In a letter dated December 10th and addressed to PBOT Director Chris Warner and TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey, Nosse wrote that after talking with Koerner and other business owners on 14th Street, “I am respectfully asking that you consider moving the bridge to a different location either up further on 16th St. or even consider 8th or 9th instead.”

“I don’t think your planning is so far along that you could not consider an alternative,” Rep. Nosse continued, “And I think this would be an appropriate compromise.” According to Rep. Nosse, the planned alignment would make it difficult for these businesses to operate forklifts and access loading zones with large trucks. The alignment would also, “Potentially harm these very commuters your agencies are attempting to serve,” Rep. Nosse wrote.

“TriMet and the City of Portland have determined that the project cannot be built on another street.”
— Roberta Altstadt, TriMet

In her letter, Koerner’s lawyer Jennifer Bragar says an SEIS done in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review process is required because TriMet and PBOT want to locate the new bridge at a different location than the old one. “The FEIS did not suggest that the bridge would be replaced in a location that differed from its original siting at SE 16th and Gideon,” Bragar wrote, “nor that it would accommodate bicyclists as well as pedestrians.” She adds that while biking and walking projects are typically excluded from the EIS process, one is still needed because, “The proposed bridge will significantly affect the quality of the human environment by altering the physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment.”

Bragar also claims her client hasn’t been given adequate time to comment on the proposal. Furthermore, Bragar questions the necessity of the bridge altogether. Even if one is needed, she says her client wants it to go somewhere else. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

“… both Tri-Met and PBOT have failed to provide evidence that the proposal is actually necessary for pedestrians or bicyclists. Neither agency has provided evidence of accidents or injury to either pedestrians or bicyclists at this railroad crossing nor have they provided evidence that the proposed bridge will be useful to bicyclists or pedestrians. If Tri-Met and PBOT believe a pedestrian and bicycle bridge is necessary, the Gideon Overcrossing should be placed in a location that will result in greatest utility for pedestrians and bicyclists – specifically in the location of the previous access bridge at SE 16th and Gideon which supports connectivity between neighborhoods, or other alternative locations that have yet to be examined in an EIS.”

(Graphic: TriMet)

While Rep. Nosse and Michael Koerner want the bridge moved to a different location (and Koerner said he’s also got support from Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and several other business owners in the area), TriMet Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt told us this morning that’s just not possible. “TriMet and the City of Portland have determined that the project cannot be built on another street,” she wrote in an email. “However, the city and TriMet continue to look for ways to minimized or mitigate the impact on local businesses.”

Altstadt said the bridge can’t be built at any other location because the FTA funding is tied directly to safety issues at SE 11th and 12th, where long UPRR delays cause some people to cross unsafely and even to walk across stopped train cars. According to Altstadt, FTA guidelines stipulate that a bike/walk bridge must be located close enough to the original location of the safety hazard to “provide a convenient alternative.”Placing the bridge at 16th would not address the safety issue that is the basis for the FTA funding. The bridge at 16th would simply be too far away and require too much out of direction travel – particularly for pedestrians — to be a viable alternative,” Altstadt explained.

Altstadt says TriMet and the City of Portland analyzed several other locations and for various reasons, none of them could accommodate a bridge because there was either not enough room for the structure or the project would require condemnation of entire businesses.

While TriMet sounds resolute, neighborhood advocates are worried Koerner’s opposition could put the entire project in jeopardy.

Brooklyn resident John Karabaic posted his concerns on a local email list as a “call to action” to “save the bridge”. “There is a vocal business owner on the north side of the bridge who stands to lose about 11 feet of driveway space that’s currently in the public right-of-way,” Karabaic wrote, “While that may be inconvenient for them, I believe the benefits of this location far outweigh the slight inconvenience this business owner would incur.”

Karabaic said putting the bridge further east at 16th would make it about one-quarter mile from the 11th/12th crossing. “This is a long distance for someone who has trouble walking or is in a wheelchair,” he wrote. “It could make the difference in missing a bus or train.” Karabaic feels the proposed alignment is ideal because it lines up with an existing crossing of SE Powell Blvd used by a lot of people on bikes and on foot.

Drawing from Koerner’s attorney showing layout of proposed bridge and access to his property.

As for safety concerns, Karabaic says that claim is unfounded. He cites the nearby Rhine-Lafayette overpass and streets in the Central Eastside Industrial District — both of which interface with industrial businesses while posing no major safety hazards (at least statistically and in terms of popularity) to vulnerable road users.

Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District (HAND) Chair Christopher Eykamp says he agrees with some of Koerner’s safety concerns. In an email this morning, Eykamp told us he’s drafting a letter from HAND to TriMet asking for help to mitigate potential hazards. “The truth is that no one really knows how much of a [safety] factor this will be in practice, and it is possible that if the danger is real, businesses will have to change their practices accordingly.”

Eykamp feels the well-documented safety costs of not building the bridge should be weighed against the potential costs to businesses: “And I really don’t see much of a contest.”

For his part, Koerner said he’s already invested about $30,000 fighting the project. His anger with TriMet over how the process has unfolded is palpable. He feels the agency is “ramming this down our throats.” “We’re screaming from the trees and they’re not listening,” he shared on the phone this morning. “They’ve deceived us on more than one occasion and I find this all ridiculous and self-serving. They had no intention of ever working with us.”

Eykamp acknowledges TriMet’s public process and other missteps around the Orange Line project have caused frustration among many in the neighborhood, but given the choices available, he feels the bridge should be built as planned. “I strongly support moving forward with the project, and I believe a majority of the HAND board does as well.”

UPDATE, 12/21: Don’t miss the latest post on this story with response from TriMet and PBOT.

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

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Svein Rides Gravel in Andorra

Bike Hugger - Thu, 12/20/2018 - 08:21

Sharing this because I remember racing with Svein when he was coming up. By that I mean, he dropped everyone and lapped the field at a local crit. A short time later he went on to fame and fortune as a pro and now Svein rides gravel in Andorra.

The story from Scott is lovely. I’d much rather stay in a nice Airbnb and explore the same paths on a European adventure, but hey…I get it.

For where we ride, you’d want larger volume tires than the Scott is spec’d with. That’s not saying it isn’t capable, just that the forest service roads in the Seattle area have deep gravel sections.

Not Retired Yet

I rode the Addict CX, very similar to the Gravel 10 Disc, and told a story about it a couple years ago in our magazine.

I’d always dreamt of this gravel ride of the 3 countries, wondering if it was even possible and now we’re going to have an attempt. I had just flown into Toulouse from battling it out in the crosswinds of the Dutch and Belgium roads of the Bink Bank tour, still feeling the fatigue in my legs and wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into. I waited for my friend Sam (the engine) Flanagan, loaded up the car and made our way to the Pyrenees for the 3-hour drive to Andorra.

Svein photographed his favorite 3-day adventure loop, and in the video explains how much he enjoys riding it. What I learned from the story is he found his passion for cycling during an adventure bike trip in his mid-twenties. The crit I mentioned above, he rode to it from Vancouver Canada and back again.

Putting that kind of mileage in takes me back to my youth when I rode everywhere and it’s great Svein is still pedaling. The story sort of sounds like he’s retired, but he signed on with Rally Cycling for another season.

 

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SW Multnomah/Garden Home project is an opportunity for a better bikeway

Bike Portland - Wed, 12/19/2018 - 14:33


*Two concepts under consideration by PBOT

(UPDATE, 12/20: PBOT has just released new designs and the online survey. Check it out here.)

Big changes are coming to a crash-prone intersection in Southwest Portland thanks to a $2.1 million project co-sponsored by the transportation departments of Portland and Washington County.

The two agencies will split costs to update the intersection of SW Multnomah Boulevard, Garden Home Road and 69th Avenue. The goal of the project is to reduce crashes, improve sight distance, reduce vehicle delays and improve bicycling and walking conditions.

As you can see in the images, this is a non-standard intersection with tricky curves and turning movements that can be unpredictable because there are no median islands or diverters. A high volume of drivers (about 17,000 cars and trucks enter the intersection daily), lack of a signal, and at-grade parking lots owned by adjacent property owners add to the stress and potential for collisions.

In the ten years between 2006 to 2015 PBOT has recorded 33 crashes at this intersection. One of them was fatal, five of them included a bicycle rider and nearly half involved turning motor vehicles.

“I could save us all a bunch of money and just put up some stop signs.”.
— Eric Wilhelm, local resident

After an initial study into possible fixes, PBOT has come up with two concepts: a roundabout and a complete realignment that would include a traffic signal. Now they’re entering a public outreach phase where they hope to learn more from road users before adopting a final design.

BikePortland reader and SW Portland transportation activist Eric Wilhelm has been following this project closely. He’s eager to make this intersection better because he says it provides a direct and flat connection to about one-third of the area’s bikeway network. But from what he’s learned and seen so far, Eric is unimpressed with the approach. In an email today, Eric wrote that he’s concerned too much of the planning has focused on driving ease and access. “What really troubled me from the start,” he wrote, “is that PBOT seems to be focusing the outreach on how each of the two concepts will affect drivers… The two designs are both flawed by this car-centric approach.”

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*Naomi Fast (@_the_clearing) made this video of the intersection a few days ago.

Eric says at least one person at a recent neighborhood meeting complained about how possible turning restrictions would force them to drive out of their way to get home.

Project Open House

PBOT will host an open house for this project on January 17th. See the BikePortland Calendar for details.

In terms of which of the two designs he feels would work best, Eric says having a signal would make crossing easier. He worries that the roundabout wouldn’t do enough to slow drivers down — especially those headed westbound. The roundabout also looks like it might not have any dedicated space for cycling (for what it’s worth, the signal concept has only unprotected bike lanes shown at this point).

“I could save us all a bunch of money and just put up some stop signs,” Eric shared in jest.

With an entrance to the Fanno Creek Trail just a half-mile away, if we get this intersection right it could create a much-needed link in the sparse southwest Portland bike network.

To help get more people engaged, Eric is leaded the Westside Wet Wonk Ride tomorrow (12/20) at 5:30. Meet at Bar 3 (4444 SW Multnomah) if you’d like to join.

And save the date of January 17th on your calendar. That’s when PBOT will host an official open house for this project. It will be from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at the Garden Home Rec Center (7475 SW Oleson Rd). We’ll need lots of voices to help make this project as good as possible for cycling. Stay tuned for the online survey and if you live in the area watch for PBOT coming to the neighborhood and make sure to bend their ear with your thoughts and feedback.

Check out the official project page to sign up for updates and learn more.

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

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Mayor nominates Sam Zimbabwe to be next SDOT Director

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 12/19/2018 - 11:45

Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT Director Nominee Sam Zimbabwe. Screenshot from Seattle Channel.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has nominated Washington DC’s Sam Zimbabwe to be the next Director of SDOT, emphasizing his experience in project delivery and multimodal urban planning during a Tuesday press conference.

If the City Council confirms him quickly, Zimbabwe could be on the job in the middle of January. That means he will get the keys to his office just as the city tries to adjust to the permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and its downtown freeway exits.

Zimbabwe is currently the Chief Project Delivery Officer at DDOT, the same agency where Seattle’s previous permanent SDOT Director Scott Kubly cut his teeth.

“I’m a multimodal kind of guy,” he said, noting that in DC he mostly takes the train to work but sometimes bikes or drives. He has previously worked on transit oriented development and DC’s streetcar, which had troubles of its own. And, of course, DC has been a national leader in building protected bike lanes and growing bike and scooter share.

“As more people feel like they feel safe and comfortable taking care of some of their daily needs with a bike, the less divisive the bike questions have become,” he said.

Zimbabwe is stepping into a pretty tough spot. SDOT has had a terrible year. Staff morale is low, and the department has been massively underdelivering on promised and planned projects. As we reported earlier this month, the department has nearly stopped building bike lanes, managing to complete just a tiny percentage of the bike lane miles they had planned in 2018.

Being leaderless for the past year has been hard on the Department, which has gone through two interim Directors and has seen a lot of changes at the Deputy Director level. So having a Director should hopefully help SDOT get back on its feet.

But having a good Director in place is only part of the solution. Mayor Durkan also needs to empower the Director to make bold decisions even if there might be political pushback. The SDOT Director answers to the Mayor, so they can only be as bold as the Mayor will allow. Any urban transportation project that challenges the status quo is going to get pushback. But the status quo is not working now and definitely will not work in the future are the region grows.

There are also a lot of people in Seattle eager for change and ready to support bold action. So while making the right choices to prioritize walking, biking and transit will receive pushback, the mayor and SDOT Director should know that there are also people ready to celebrate those choices. Sometimes it seems like fear of angry pushback makes leaders forget that many other people are ready to support them.

Because of all the delays in 2018, there is a huge backlog of planned and funded projects waiting to get the green light. That’s a challenge, but it’s also great opportunity for a new Director to really make an entrance and get a lot done quickly. Many of those projects are bike lane connections to and through downtown, which has enormous potential for unlocking new bike trips for a lot more people.

2019 is set up to be a big year for transportation in Seattle. It’s going to be messy. Traffic patterns are going to shift, and a lot people’s habits are going to change. This is an opportunity to invest in the city we want to be and make big steps in that direction in a short period of time.

Watch the press conference announcing the nomination:

Proposed bill would clarify definition of bike lanes in Oregon

Bike Portland - Wed, 12/19/2018 - 10:19

The legal protection doesn’t end where the striping does.

A local lawyer wants to amend an existing state law so that Oregon judges can no longer decide that a bicycle rider’s legal right-of-way disappears in an intersection.

“It is important to affirm and clarify the law so that the bad legal result does not occur again.”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer

It might seem obvious to you and I that people still have to yield to other road users in intersections even though there’s no lane striping; but on two occasions Oregon judges have disagreed. That’s two too many for Portland-based lawyer Ray Thomas.

In a case last fall, a Deschutes County Circuit Court judge in Bend said his reading of existing law gave him “no authority” to support the plaintiff’s claim that bike lanes continue through intersections. And in 2009 a Multnomah County judge made a similar ruling when he determined a bicycle rider had no legal protection in the bike lane because there was no paint in the intersection designating it as one.

Thomas, a well-known bicycle advocate and bike law expert with Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost (a BikePortland supporter), says those decisions are wrong and “out of left field.” Because the legal definition of a bicycle lane can be made by “official signs or or markings,” Thomas wrote in a 2015 article, the markings before and after the intersection are what create the legal presence of the lane.

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“While this lack of legal reasoning has no binding legal authority,” Thomas shared with BikePortland earlier this week, “it is nevertheless important to affirm and clarify the law so that the bad legal result does not occur again.”

To prevent another one of these unfortunate decisions, Thomas has proposed a bill for the 2019 Oregon legislative session that would clarify and strengthen the definition of a bicycle lane. Bicycle lanes in Oregon are defined in ORS 801.155 as, “… part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law.”

Current draft of LC 3354.

The proposed bill would add the following sentence to that definition: “Where the markings of a bicycle lane are interrupted by an intersections, the bicycle lane continues in and through the intersection.”

The bill is currently filed as LC 3354 (“LC” refers to Legislative Counsel, the office that writes bills for legislators) and Oregon House Rep. Rob Nosse has signed on as a sponsor. The bill was drafted with help and support from The Street Trust.

“We hope this law will pass through the legislature and become law before another legal judicial anomaly occurs to deny a bicycle rider their lawful right-of-way in the intersection,” Thomas says.

We hope so too.

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

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Diamond Brand Gear for Cold Beverages and Wet Days

Bike Hugger - Tue, 12/18/2018 - 15:49

I’m using Diamond Brand Gear for cold beverages and wet days. The Double Take fits inside the Swift boxy bike bag I have from Swift. It’s a bag-in-bag solution to keep my beverages cold AND my gear dry. The Swift is great, but not waterproof.

I stuffed this inside a boxy bag.

This week, to get a ride story done in the rain, I had a film camera with me protected by the inner Chilly bag. That’s an accessory for the Double Take. It’ll work just as well chilling a 6 pack as protecting a camera from the rain.

The upcycled version of the Double Take.

Outfitted for outdoor travel, the Double Take gear bag is built to carry essentials with versatility and ease. It’s a product that looks like a crossover from the fly fishing market to cyclists and that’s great. The durable construction, paired with durable fabrics means it’s a lifelong adventure bag that’ll develop a patina.

The chilling bag stuffs into the Double Take (or Swift Ozette) to keep a lunch cool and secure. The multiple attachment points allow you to throw the Double Take over your shoulder. You can hook it up to your bike rack easily. The color selections mean you’ll get a unique look.

My bag shipped made with 14 oz. Martexin Waxed Canvas. You can also choose a 1000D Nylon Cordura w/ Urethane coating and durable water repellent finish. They make an eco friendly Upcycled tent fabric versos too. There’s also a sunbrella acrylic with 50% recycled material.

Headquartered in the heart of the Carolina Mountains, Diamond Brand Gear has been manufacturing high-quality outdoor gear for outdoor and travel enthusiasts since 1881. Buy the Double Take with Chilly Bag direct for about $103.00 direct from Diamond or on Amazon.

 

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Bicycle Tour of Colorado retires after funding woes

Biking Bis - Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:20

A popular around-the-state bicycle tour in Colorado appears to be folding its tent after failing to pay nonprofits that provided services during this past summer’s ride.

The Bicycle Tour of Colorado celebrated its 24th anniversary in 2018 with a loop around the Rockies that started and ended in Leadville and had overnight stops in Carbondale, …

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Oregon’s bike tax revenue is far below expectations, while admin overhead is going up

Bike Portland - Tue, 12/18/2018 - 10:37

Customers at Universal Cycles on SE Ankeny are greeted with these signs at the checkout counter.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Through three quarters of its first year in existence, Oregon’s $15 bicycle excise tax has added $489,000 into state coffers. That’s a lot lower than state economists expected. Overhead costs are also more than expected and are likely to climb even higher as officials beef up filing enforcement efforts.

As OPB reported last week, officials from the Department of Revenue, Oregon Department of Transportation and the Legislative Revenue Office have been updating lawmakers on receipts from the slew of new taxes and fees included in the $5.3 billion transportation package passed in 2017. Among them was the infamous $15 tax that applies to every new bicycle valued at $200 or higher sold in Oregon.

The tax was pitched as a way to force bicycle riders to have some “skin in the game” when it comes to funding transportation infrastructure. It was seen by advocates (The Street Trust opposed the fee but supported the package it was integral to) as a part of the compromise needed to pass a bill with funding for Safe Routes to School and public transit, while raising fees and taxes on motor vehicle use. The tax was also seen as a way to answer some voters who — despite it being terrible and ineffective — have long dreamed of making “cyclists pay their way.”

We’ve railed against the bike tax from a policy perspective in the past. Why on earth would Oregon want to tax a form of transportation that adds such tremendous value to our roads and lives? Given cycling’s return-on-investment, it makes more sense to pay people to ride them than to tack on a clumsy tax.

Now it turns out the bike tax isn’t an efficient revenue tool either.

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(Chart: State of Oregon)

Back in September, an official from the Department of Revenue told members of the House Committee on Transportation that the bike tax had raised just $289,000 through its first six months. Of that, only $133,000 had been transferred to ODOT’s Connect Oregon grant program where it will be earmarked for path and trail projects outside of the highway right-of-way. (Yes, that’s right, the way the law was written, the money can’t be used for on-street bikeways.)

“At this point it’s pretty labor intensive.”
— Xann Culver, Oregon Department of Revenue on their efforts to collect the bike tax

Now state officials estimate the bike tax will likely bring in about $900,000 in its first two years. That’s less than half of the $2.1 million they told lawmakers it would bring in every two years. At another committee meeting last week, officials released a chart showing that future year estimates will be even lower. Instead of $2.8 million every biennium, they now expect just $1.1 million. And that’s before subtracting administrative costs. ODOT Economist Daniel Porter told lawmakers that in hindsight, their estimates for the bike tax were, “A real shot in the dark.” He blamed Oregon’s lack of sales tax data and a misunderstanding of the “seasonalities” of new bike sales.

Back in September, Department of Revenue staffer Xann Culver said they had less than 100 retailers filing the tax. Joint Committee on Transportation Co-Chair Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) commented that the number of retailers seemed low. “Was there some sort of plan to increase that number to make sure everybody is paying their fair share?” she asked. “Yes,” the DOR staffer replied. She then explained how they plan to bump up filing enforcement efforts do more research on their list of 350 bicycle retailers to see which ones are selling taxable bicycles, and follow-up on tips from retailers about others shops who aren’t filing. The state also plans to hire an additional auditor in the coming months to “do more enforcement.” “At this point,” Culver said, “It’s pretty labor intensive.”

So, while the estimated revenue from the tax goes down, it appears as though the amount it takes to collect it will be going up.

For more on how the bike tax is doing, read the OPB article. And tune into OPB’s Think Out Loud show today at noon where I’ll be sharing my views as a guest.

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

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Oregon’s proposal to lift fourplex bans would be great for biking

Bike Portland - Tue, 12/18/2018 - 08:57

Protected bike lanes aren’t the only reason so many people bike in Amsterdam.
(Photo: M. Andersen)

An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by former BikePortland news editor Michael Andersen.

The fight to strike down apartment bans has arrived in Oregon’s legislature.

Would re-legalizing fourplexes everywhere be good for bicycle transportation? It very much would be.

On Friday, Willamette Week broke some news: Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek has been working on a bill that’d require all but the smallest Oregon cities in urban areas to re-legalize up to four homes per lot—a lower-cost housing option that was quite common in the early 20th century but was gradually banned from most parts of most cities.

BikePortland has had a lot to say about proposals like this one before (including the similar local reform that keeps getting better, thanks to public pressure as it works its way through Portland’s endless local process).

But now that this issue has hit the statewide radar, let’s gather the evidence around this question: Would re-legalizing fourplexes everywhere be good for bicycle transportation?

It very much would be.

As Elly Blue put it on BikePortland 11 years ago, proximity is key to our future. More than bike classes, more than courteous driving, more even than comfortable infrastructure, the number-one way to make bike transportation work for the life of an ordinary Oregonian is to make the trips we have to take shorter.

*Source: 2017 NHTS.

Making it legal — not mandatory, just legal — to build homes closer to each other is the way to do this.

Legalizing more housing creates more proximity twice.

First and most obviously, it creates proximity because it lets more people (and also more varieties of people) choose to live closer to current destinations like jobs, parks, schools, grocery stores, shops, parks, quality transit stops and (oh, yeah) their family and friends. Two weeks ago, an economic report on Portland’s fourplex re-legalization proposal estimated that 87 percent of the new, smaller and relatively cheaper homes built would go into the lower-density neighborhoods up to roughly 3.5 miles from the city center.

Those are the exact same neighborhoods we called out in a 2014: “maybe this is why you can’t afford to rent in the central city.”

These are also, of course, the Portland neighborhoods with the best bike infrastructure. We should be improving biking everywhere, but we can also make our existing investments go further by letting more people live near them.

The second reason re-legalizing duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes creates proximity is that simply by existing, homes help create more new things near them. TriMet can’t justify upgrading a bus line to frequent service until a lot of people live fairly close to it. New Seasons can’t justify opening a new grocery store — and Fred Meyer may not be able to justify keeping an existing grocery store open — unless there are a certain number of people living near it.

Every neighborhood coffee shop and dive bar in the city relies hugely on the people who live close enough to walk or bike there and back without hardly thinking about it.

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More homes => more people => more coffee shops and dive bars within biking distance => more biking.

You don’t have to take my word for it. It’s right there in the National Household Travel Survey:

*Data: 2017 NHTS. Chart: Michael Andersen.

This is the flip side of the phenomenon my colleague Margaret Morales recently observed about backyard cottages. She calculated that adding 7 more homes to each standard city block of 21 lots would reduce average driving per household on that block by about 1,000 miles per year.

(Or for more evidence in various contexts, you could look here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

One thing to notice about the chart above is that the difference in biking between 17,500 people per square mile (Portland’s Northwest 23rd Avenue, with lots of the old mid-scale housing that has since been mostly banned) and 27,500 (the south side of Portland’s downtown, with skyscrapers) is much less than the difference between 7,500 people per square mile (a lawn-and-driveway area like Beaumont-Wilshire) and 17,500 people per square mile.

In other words, if we want lots more biking, we don’t have to put towers everywhere (though that wouldn’t hurt, either). We just have to transition into cities with many buildings that are a few stories tall and attached to each other.

Hmm, sounds somehow familiar.

*Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: M. Andersen.

*Houten, Netherlands. Photo: Nicholas Oyler, City of Memphis.

*Medellín, Colombia. Photo: M. Andersen.

*Montreal, Canada. Photo: J. Maus

None of this is to say we shouldn’t also be building awesome protected bike lanes and off-street paths and traffic-calmed side streets. Cities in northern Europe, South America and southern China prove that the magic formula for lots of biking is to combine proximity with great streets.

After years of stagnation, Portland is finally doing more to improve its streets. The logical next step is to make it possible for more Portlanders to use them a little bit less.

— Michael Andersen: (503) 333-7824, @andersem on Twitter and michael@sightline.org.

 

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Family biking profile: New(ish) rider Kaylen Boroff and her toddler take to the streets

Bike Portland - Tue, 12/18/2018 - 08:42

Kaylen and Casey are ready for the rain!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

This week we’re going to share a profile of a local family biker.

Kaylen Boroff is relatively new to Portland and has embraced bicycling for transportation with her toddler son in tow.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Tell me a little about yourself and your family.

Hi! My name is Kaylen and my son Casey and love riding our bike! Casey will be two next month and he loves the adventure and freedom of being on a bike. I’m a social worker at the VA hospital and we use our bike to commute to work and daycare. We moved to Portland from Michigan in April and began riding upon our arrival! We live in inner SE PDX.

Kaylen’s bike is lightweight and sturdy…and she can carry it upstairs to (and fit it in) her apartment.

Tell me about your bike.

We have a Specialized Sirrus we got new from River City this spring. It is an awesome blue color with blue fenders, too. We have a child seat in the back (attached by frame, the Co-Pilot). The bike has a decent weight, but I’m still able to take it up the stairs to our apartment. I love the Co-Pilot seat for the durability, removable seat pad, reflectors, and high sides. It is a safe ride for both of us. We have a basket in front for all of our supplies — diapers, wipes and clothes for school and lunch for work.

Casey has a comfortable ride.

Is there something you wish you had known before you took your first pedal stroke as a family biker that would have made things easier?

I wish I’d of known how intense it can be. As we live in southeast, we see bikers everywhere getting to Clinton Street. It can be overwhelming at times weaving through everyone. I also wish I’d of know about the dreaded freight trains blocking the way home!

Tell me about a typical ride you take in Portland.

Typically we ride four miles a day (to the lower base of the tram and then home) Monday-Friday. We cross the Tilikum, which is always a lot of fun. With the time change Casey has especially loved seeing all the lights and colors. It’s a pretty flat ride, which is a huge plus with everything that is getting hauled. We take the tram up for the rest of our daily commute. Weather pending on weekends, we might ride along the water front for some nice views!

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Tell me about an especially memorable ride in Portland.

One day coming home from work we got caught in some pretty heavy, cold rain. We were mildly prepared, but were missing true rain gear at the time. I was nervous about how Casey would react with the rain coming down and no real cover. He ended up laughing the entire way back, which made me enjoy the ride even more! Another interesting time was a morning with fog; that coupled with darkness made going over Tilikum feel like you’re floating.

Kaylen and Casey make it look fun!

If there was one piece of bike infrastructure (street, intersection, bike rack, etc) you use regularly that you could change to improve your life, what would it be?

It would be awesome if there was some sort of pedestrian overpass near division and 11/12th streets for when the trains come during the morning and evening rush. That way traffic could still be moving! It would also save in people trying to go over the tracks when it stops.

Google Maps now suggests Lime bikes in its transit directions

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 12/17/2018 - 13:53

Lime’s bikes and scooters now show up as a transit option in Google Maps in a select number of cities. The app takes into account both the time to walk to the nearest bike and the bike ride to give you time and price comparisons with real-time transit data and app taxi services.

This might seem like a simple little change, but it’s a hugely powerful addition to the most popular mapping app. Calculating all the steps to completing a bike share trip in real time and comparing it to other options also empowers people who are agnostic about how they get around to easily choose the fastest and cheapest option. And that will often be a bike.

Including bike share also puts these services in front of a lot more people who might not seek them out otherwise. And it makes the transit tab of Google Maps that much more competitive with the driving tab. That may sound a little silly, but most people are just looking for the best way to get where they’re going. So having bikes in the mix is huge.

Only Lime appears in the results, at least for now. JUMP’s parent company Uber shows up as an app taxi service, but their bikes are not listed. Google’s venture capital arm is a major investor in Lime, along with Uber. Google is also an investor in Uber, but Google is also currently suing Uber. I know, it’s confusing.

More details from Google:

You just got off your train and you have seven minutes to get to your first meeting on time—but it’ll take you 15 minutes to walk the rest of the way. You don’t have time to walk, your bus is delayed and the next ridesharing vehicle isn’t set to arrive for another 10 minutes. So close, yet so far.

Today, we’re teaming up with Lime to help you find a better way to travel these short distances. In 13 cities around the world, you’ll now be able to see nearby Lime scooters, pedal bikes and e-bikes as a transportation option right from Google Maps. Simply navigate to your destination and tap on the transit icon to see your nearby options. If a Lime vehicle is available, you’ll see how long it’ll take to walk to the vehicle, an estimate of how much your ride could cost, and your total journey time and ETA. Tapping on the Lime card will take you right to the Lime app, where you can see the exact location of the vehicle and easily unlock it. If you don’t have the Lime app installed, you’ll be taken to the App or Play store.

You can now see Lime scooters and bikes on Google Maps on Android and iOS in Auckland, Austin, Baltimore, Brisbane (AU), Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Antonio, San Jose, Scottsdale and Seattle with more cities coming soon—so you can get to that meeting right on Lime.

Two week Rhine-Lafayette Overpass closure begins today

Bike Portland - Mon, 12/17/2018 - 09:11

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re one of the many people who rely on the carfree overpass that connects the neighborhoods of Brooklyn to Creston-Kenilworth, a repair project might impact your trips.

TriMet crews are working to improve the durability of the elevators at the Rhine-Lafayette Overpass. Since the bridge opened in 2015, the elevator — which is a key feature for bicycle users — has had a spotty reliability record.

Here’s what TriMet announced this morning about the status of the project:

The two-week closure of the elevators at the Rhine-Lafayette Pedestrian Overpass in southeast Portland starts today, Monday, Dec. 17 through Friday, Jan. 4. The elevators will be closed throughout that time with the entire overpass (stairs and elevators) closed at times for safety reasons. When crews are not working—about 4 p.m. to 7 a.m.—the overpass and stairs will be open for use. This is part of an improvement project that began Nov. 26 to increase the reliability of the elevators. We appreciate the patience of those who use the overpass as we make the improvements.

For more information, check out the official project page at TriMet.org.

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

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A championship for Honsinger and a great Portland showing at Cyclocross Nationals

Bike Portland - Mon, 12/17/2018 - 08:09

Clara Honsinger (Team S & M CX) after winning the U23 race at Cyclocross Nationals.
(Photo: USA Cycling)

I’ll cut right to the big news of the weekend from the Cyclocross National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky: Portland’s Clara Honsinger nabbed a national title!

After getting a great start, Honsinger (Team S & M CX) rode — and ran and slid — the treacherously muddy course to the win on Sunday in the Women’s Under-23 race. Even sweeter for Honsinger and the Sellwood-based Team S & M CX team was Sophie Russenberger getting the bronze medal. Beth Ann Orton, another member of the three-woman team, rode to a strong 13th place in the Women’s Elite race.

Honsinger’s win capped a tremendous season that saw this “kid from Oregon” emerge as a true star on the ‘cross circuit.

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Team S & M CX is owned and operated by Sellwood Cycle Repair owner Erik Tonkin. Tonkin, now retired from competitive racing, celebrated his shop’s 25th anniversary in 2017. Team S & M has been a mainstay on the local circuit for many years; but it’s been only in the last few seasons that Tonkin committed to an elite, all-women development program. With the support of sponsors, the work of Tonkin and his team manager and head mechanic Brenna Wrye-Simpson have paid off big time. Congratulations!

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I came to #cxnats to win. @iamjakewells and I had a fantastic battle today, it was insane but I made a couple mistakes in the last lap that cost me the jersey. THANK YOU so damn much to everyone that has supported me all these years, was out there today screaming and rooting for me and thanks for all the messages and texts, I am feeling the love.

The Monday Roundup: Convercycle, anti-speeding tech, a climate warning and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 12/17/2018 - 07:30

Happy Monday everyone. Are you ready for the “atmospheric river” on tap to hit Portland tonight?

If things get crazy outside, at least you’ll have some great stories to read. Here are the most notable items we came across in the past seven days…

A walking tipping point? This NY Times opinion piece about how cities are finally coming to their senses after decades of building only for cars is positively heartwarming.

More highway cops in Oregon: Looks like state lawmakers might reach a big deal to rebuild the depleted Oregon State Police this coming session.

Anti-people planters: No one is taking credit for a mysterious row of empty concrete planters on SW 1st under the Morrison Bridge that appear to be aimed at preventing people from sleeping there.

Getting rid of highway relics: Saying private cars in cities will be the “cigarettes of the 21st century,” NY Mag has some advice for how New York should deal with the aging Brooklyn-Queens Expressway: Demolish it and move on.

Nifty rig: The new “Convercycle” is a bike that converts from standard urban commuter into long-tail cargo bike.

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Climate change warning: Outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown tells NPR that the threats from climate change are real and present and that most politicians are completely clueless about it.

Climate emergency: The mayor of London has declared an official emergency to battle climate change and is pressing other government officials for money and attention to deal with the issue.

Speed limiting tech: The EU is considering devices that would set the speed of cars to the posted limit and lobbyists for carmakers are fighting it.

Setback in Seattle: A judge has thrown up yet another roadblock on the path to closing the infamous “Missing Link” segment of the Burke-Gilman Trail, saying a recent study of the project didn’t do enough to analyze economic impacts.

Drinking and homicide: Utah wants to lower the legal BAC threshold to .05 instead of the national level of .08. The state also plans to introduce a new felony of “automobile homicide” if you drive recklessly while drunk.

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

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Assos Speed Club

Bike Hugger - Sun, 12/16/2018 - 07:55

One bright spot in a down year for road is Assos with new kit, an anniversary, and the Assos Speed Club.

The club is a global collective of riders, racers, and ambassadors. They all share a passion for cycling. A secured future and bringing people together is their goal.

Shortly following a ride in NYC, club members road in Los Angeles, Lugano, Frankfurt, and London. Assos Speed Club is currently free to join, offering members firsts looks at new products and special offers. Their goal is to connect you with other riders in your area or an event at your local Assos dealer.

Assos history runs deep in cycling —I have kit that’s 20-years old. From a start on the track and growing up in racing, their new club is committed to the sport of cycling.

While I ride purely for pleasure now, above all, I’m on board with Assos’s mission. It’s a good goal to inspire, connect and foster the next generation of cyclist. And, I hope to see you on a ride.

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How Portlanders handled a wet, dark, stormy bike commute

Bike Portland - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 15:04

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Tuesday afternoon was a doozy, weather-wise.

It’s not often I’ll opt out of a bike ride, but I hopped on light rail to make it to a meeting downtown. Why? The conditions were: dark, windy, wet, and cool (just cool enough to need a jacket, just warm enough to make you sweat in it). I can handle each of those variable by themselves, or even two or three of them at once. But when all those factors get together I look for non-biking options if I’m able.

I had a feeling a lot of you battled the deluge, so I posted a photo of a rider battling rain on our Instagram feed and asked our followers to share. I don’t take comfort in other people’s misery, but I have to admit I enjoyed reading all the comments that came in! In case you missed the post, here’s what people had to say:

swanny22Yeah, that was not particularly enjoyable.

icomeoutatnight I worked in it, however it was relatively not that bad. It could’ve rained more and it wasn’t even cold enough for gloves

stahnke_kong & a flat tire on top of it all!!

nwcanyoning 7 miles home from downtown was fun

Judge decides Missing Link megastudy did not adequately address economic concerns

Seattle Bike Blog - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 13:13

In yet another partial court defeat, the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has once again been thrown into question this week after King County Superior Court Judge Samuel Chung sided with the city on two out of three of the major challenges to its environmental megastudy of the trail route. But that isn’t enough.

We are still trying to learn what exactly this means for the project, which is currently scheduled to begin construction early next year. So stay tuned. UPDATE: The City Attorney’s Office told the Seattle Times they disagree with the decision and plan to appeal it.

Previous court decisions required the city to conduct a massive environmental impact statement (“EIS”), the kind of study typically required of megaprojects on a much larger scale than a short stretch of biking and walking trail. The 829-page study took years to complete at significant cost. It’s safe to say that this is the most-studied section of trail in state history. Maybe in the nation?

Because the city conducted the EIS, trail opponents’ only legal path was to argue that the city’s study, which the Seattle Hearing Examiner approved, was legally inadequate. This should have been a pretty tough bar to clear, but they did it. Appellant attorney Josh Brower continues to surprise with his ability to win just enough to block or delay this project. This is the second time he has won small pieces of his cases against the trail in King County Superior Court.

On questions of safety and parking, the judge found the study adequate. So that’s the good news. But on the question of economic impact, the judge found the study inadequate. Specifically, the judge “identified the potential for increased costs of insurance” as the basis for the ruling, according to a Cascade Bicycle Club statement. Cascade has been involved in the legal fight for many years, intervening on the city’s behalf.

“We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track,” the statement says.

The question of increased insurance costs has been floated for many years as a reason to block the trail. It’s always been a somewhat baffling argument because the trail is safety project designed to provide folks biking and walking with a separated and protected space to do so. It also feels strange that the whims of a private insurance company could decide whether the city can build a trail on public right of way. But here we are. It has been an argument against the trail for so long that it is discouraging that the city did not address it well enough in its massive study to satisfy the court.

The case is moving to King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff starting in January.

I have a question into the city about what it would take to satisfy the judge’s concern and what the timeline for that could be. I will update when I hear back.

In the meantime, here’s the full statement from Cascade:

While the members, leadership and staff of Cascade Bicycle Club are disappointed in the overall outcome of the ruling today in King County Superior Court, it is clear that Judge Samuel Chung agreed that the bulk of the Missing Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was sufficient. Specifically, he ruled that the EIS was sufficient in the areas of traffic analysis and safety as well as the review of any loss of parking. Conversely, Judge Chung identified the analysis of economic impacts—specifically the potential for increased costs of insurance—as the single basis for ruling the EIS deficient. We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track.

“Unfortunately the real cost of this obstruction campaign is borne by the over 300 people a year who suffer injuries on the Missing Link,” says Richard Smith, Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. “For over 20 years, a few deep-pocketed individuals have delayed while the community of Ballard has waited for their preferred route.”

Since the Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 2013, thousands of residents and businesses have weighed in on the EIS and subsequent design process saying they want to ‘Complete the Missing Link!’ During the EIS comment process alone, 77 percent of the 4,500 respondents indicated a preference to locate along the preferred alternative, which runs along NW 45th St., Shilshole Ave. NW and NW Market St.

The Little Things: Stripes on stop sign poles in Seattle

Bike Portland - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:00

A stop sign in Seattle with white and red striping on the pole.
(Photos: Mike Dowd)

This post was written by reader Mike Dowd.

When I grew up in Seattle, stop signs had wood posts with red-and-white, candy cane-like stripes. Now they have metal poles, but they’re still striped. When I moved to Portland, I really missed them! It seemed dangerous without them.

When you approach an intersection in Seattle, the stripes immediately show you whether people entering the intersection from other directions must stop. In Portland, you have to look for the octagonal sign shape — not easy to see when you’re looking at the back of a sign across the intersection (maybe with a telephone or light pole in front of it), and almost impossible when looking at the narrow edge of a sign regulating cross traffic.

It’s critical for everyone — whether driving, riding, or walking — to know who must stop at an intersection. You don’t want to enter an intersection until you’re sure nobody is entering it from your left or right. You don’t want to make a left turn until you know whether an oncoming vehicle or bike is going to stop.

If you misread the intersection, and proceed thinking that crossing traffic has stop signs when it does not, you may cause a crash. If you don’t see others’ stop signs, and slow or stop thinking they don’t need to stop, you create confusion and delays. (Portland has become infamous for the “You go,” “No you go,” “No you go,” dance.)

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Easier to see from any direction.

Portland has a mish-mash of info added below stop signs: “All Way” signs at intersections with four stop signs, “Oncoming Traffic Does Not Stop”, “Traffic From Right Does Not Stop”, etc. But it’s not consistent, which itself creates danger. Those also only give information to people who do have a stop sign. If you don’t have a stop sign, there’s no sign telling you whether cross-traffic or oncoming traffic has stop signs.

The stripes also make stop signs much more visible for people approaching them, since the overall “sign” becomes effectively about eight feet tall instead of just a two-foot octagon.

Also, the stripes Seattle adds to metal stop sign posts are reflective, so all the various advantages of the stripes are magnified at night. In Portland, the backs and edges of stop signs are almost invisible at night.

I’d like to see the stripes added in Portland. I’m curious what others have seen in other places.

— Mike Dowd

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