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The Little Things: A bike lane on NW 14th has disappeared

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 10:17

PBOT has now added this sign to NW 14th before Glisan to warn people of the hazard.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Little Things is a new column where we share (relatively) small problems — and little miracles — in our street network. Is there a little thing that makes your ride uncomfortable, annoying, inspiring, or exhilirating? Tell us about it and we’ll consider it for a future column.

The thing

A north-south connector that straddles I-405, NW 14th Avenue is one of those streets that should be much better for bicycling than it is. It’s a useful piece of the bike network that can get you across town all the way from SW Jefferson to NW Quimby. When the Flanders Crossing Bridge opens, 14th will be even more important. Unfortunately the bikeway design is sub-par. Auto users dominate the streetscape and there are several sections that are way too stressful.

We’ll never forget when, on October 11th, 2007, young Tracey Sparling was killed by a truck driver at 14th and Burnside. Then there’s the dangerous right-hook risk at 14th and Everett a few blocks away (thankfully PBOT has installed some plastic wands to defend the bike lane), the big trucks delivering to Safeway that block the bike lane just north of Lovejoy, and so on.

And now this: A new development on 14th just before Glisan (Google Map), has extended the sidewalk directly into the bike lane. PBOT took no proactive measures to keep the bike lane safe and continuous, so bicycle riders are abruptly forced into a shared-lane situation on a high volume street.

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➤ On January 12th we heard from reader T. Clark via email: “I was nearly hit by a car while trying to get over because there are no warning or yellow paint, just a bike lane that ends in curb before picking up again past the building.”

➤ On January 21st we heard from @maccoinnich on Twitter that, “This creates a really dangerous situation… it made me pretty scared even as ‘strong and fearless’ cyclist.”

➤ On January 23rd we heard from @RchyRsh on Twitter that, “I emailed @PBOTinfo about this when it was a #workzonewtf that abruptly forced people riding bikes from a bike lane into oncoming car traffic. They acknowledged this was a problem then and still allowed this project.”

The official response

I asked PBOT Communications Director John Brady to explain how this happened. Here’s his response:

“Two things are going on here. One, on the eastside of 14th, the developer put in a sidewalk improvement that extended the sidewalk from a substandard 8 feet to 12 feet. On the westside, the construction project has installed, in line with our guidance about ensuring safe pedestrian access, a protected pedestrian walkway. These two things have narrowed the roadway, and we need to install some temporary striping to fit the new road conditions. This will happen soon and it will include an improvement to the bike lane. It will be a buffered bike lane.”

I asked Brady why PBOT wasn’t proactive in making sure there was no service gap in the bike lane. I’ll update this when I hear back.

Wrapping it up

From “Family of Choices” maps created by Alta Planning + Design for PBOT’s Central City in Motion project.

It’s great to hear that PBOT should have a fix soon — but this type of thing should never happen. Disruptions and closures to bike-only lanes should be taken just as — if not more — seriously than disruptions to other lanes. While we’re waiting for PBOT to stripe a buffered bike lane here, keep in mind that the City has even larger plans for the bikeway on 14th. Their Central City in Motion project maps released last month show 14th as a “Desired link choice” in the upcoming protected bikeway network.

We need your help to keep this column going. If you’d like to contribute, take some notes and a few photos and send them to us!

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

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Hiplock DX Red, Stylish Security

Bike Hugger - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 14:07

When a new company enters the bike business with some innovative designs, they deserve props and attention. This one, Hiplock, took how we carry locks in different directions. And, while wearing a thick chain around your hips may not be for everyone, I like the DX Red for the clipless D lock design. You can pretty much drop and secure it into any big enough pocket of a bag or your jeans. Also, see the Hiplock Lite.

Hiplock isn’t that new anymore, but their DX Red is and built for maximum security with a Sold Secure Gold-rated design, 14mm hardened steel shackle and hardened steel body, mated with dual locking, anti-twist shackle tabs. If a thief tries, it’s gonna take them a long time to open the DX Red.

Hiplock reminds me of Knog, with a similar good-grip “kitchen” gadget approach to products we use daily; meaning, look at what OXO or Chef’n did with a cheese grater, flipper, or spatula.

Order the Hiplock DX Red direct or from a shop near you. It costs $99.50 USD.

It’s in the side pocket of my Warsaw Messenger II.

The Specs
  • Security Level: High Risk
  • Security Rating: Sold Secure Gold Award
  • Product Specification: 14mm hardened steel shackle. Dual locking tabs. Hardened steel body casing, tough nylon outer shell.
  • Weight: 1250g
  • Locking Size: 15cm x 8.5cm Internal Area
    Keys: 3 keys with coded key replacement program.
  • Sizing: One size fits all.

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Ovarian Psycos documentary is coming to Portland this Sunday

Bike Portland - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 10:07

A documentary based on the East Los Angeles-based activist group known as the Ovarian Psycos will be shown in Portland this Sunday night as a benefit for the Community Cycling Center.

The “OVAS” as they’re often known — which stands for Overthrowing Vendidxs (vendidos, or sell-outs), Authority, and the State — began in 2010. They define their politics and activism as having, “feminist ideals with indigena understanding and an urban/hood mentality!” Using bicycles as a tool for power and organizing, the Ovas annual rides include the Black Mass (“Resistance on Two Wheels”), Clitoral Mass, protests against gentrification, and more. Beyond riding, they empower and inspire young womxn of color to become community leaders.

“We are connecting dots,” they write on their website, “becoming aware of community agencies, spaces and movimientos in an effort to solidify our local networks making everything and everyone more accessible for and to each other.”

The eponymously named 2016 film that highlights their movement chronicles the leader of the Ovarian Psycos as she struggles to find balance between family dynamics and her street activism. The film was created by Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle and distributed by Women Make Movies.

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From the group’s Instagram feed.

(Photo from OvarianPsycos.com)

The screening is being brought to Portland by the Community Cycling Center and proceeds from the evening will benefit their programs. CCC Executive Director Kasandra Griffin said they chose the film because, “It is the goal of the Community Cycling Center to lift people up with bicycles — to use bicycles as a vehicle for social change… and this womxn of color collective is doing just that.”

Trailer:

The screening is this Sunday, January 28th, 7:00 pm at Hollywood Theater (4122 NE Sandy). You can buy tickets online or at the door. There’s a group ride to the screening that leaves Ex Novo Brewing in north Portland at 5:30. Link to the Facebook event page and more info about the event on the BP Calendar.

Learn more about the Ovarian Psycos via their homepage or on Instagram.

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

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Saddles for Sale

Bike Hugger - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 14:06

My friend Steve is getting ready for the Seattle area bike swap next month. That’s where you trade, buy, and otherwise talk about bike parts and bikes for a couple days in a warehouse. Posting about all the saddles he has (way more than me even) he wrote…

Bicycle saddles, where to begin, definitely my most favorite individual part of the bike. I have an attachment to saddles the way some folks do shoes. Shoes and bicycle saddles provide practical aspects to the user like protection, performance, and comfort. And then there’s the undeniable style aspect- both are a means of expressing one’s own personal sense of style. They reflect one’s values. Like good shoes, a good saddle isn’t cheap. Invest in quality, take care of it and you will likely enjoy years of service. A beautifully designed well-made saddle is timeless. Just like a beautiful pair of shoes.

When I look at a bike in profile and begin to look at the detail –beyond the frame & fork- my eye immediately goes to the saddle first and the handlebar stem next before moving south to the wheels, drivetrain etc. Saddles to me speak volumes about the bike and its intended use. If it’s a new bike the saddle is a reflection on the designer and the mechanic who assembled the bike. If it’s a bike in the field it reflects rider preference. Is it the original saddle or did the rider swap it out and why? While I’m super picky about the fit of my handlebar I don’t have the same emotional attachment as I do towards saddles and stems. It’s not just the aesthetic aspect that drives the emotion; something in my brain is triggered that immediately causes me to envision riding the bike. All those hours and miles sitting on the thing I suppose.

When you design and sell bicycles for a living, saddles are the most often discussed feature, especially amongst the casual, bike-curious population. But even the pros talk about them. It’s pretty obvious why. When someone asks me about choosing a saddle for their bike I often use athletic shoes as an analogy since almost everyone can relate. Some shoes feel amazing right out of the box, others might not feel perfect initially but you know they’re going to break-in and feel better with time; and then there are those shoes that no matter how much you want it to happen, it just isn’t going to happen no matter how much you wish it would.

Once you know what shoe feels best, and the brand that made it, you tend to stick with it. Brand X runs wide and always feels great. Brand Y is too narrow for my foot. That assumes consistency in the last, or form, the maker uses to construct the shoe. Like shoemakers saddle brands also tend to adopt a design language that shapes their saddles across an entire range that is if they have the discipline to maintain it. Easier said than done. Of course, design philosophy and materials evolve over the years mostly for the better, sometimes not-so, but you get the overall gist.

Where the shoe-saddle analogy begins to break down is that most people have a level of familiarity with shoes that they simply don’t have with bicycle saddles. Folks certainly know what they don’t like (that seat hurts my butt) but have no idea of the saddle shape that is going to be most simpatico with their rear-end. The only way to figure that out is through experimentation. Work with a professional bike-fitter if necessary, and certainly take advantage of the brands & retailers who offer a try-before-you-buy saddle demo program. Trust me eventually you’ll find what you’re looking for! Among all these saddles I have some clear favorites and some that just didn’t fit my butt but I kept them for a reason. I’ll take close up photos of some of the more interesting ones for those of you who want to know more of the story.

P.S. these are just the ones in the shop, it doesn’t account for the ones I’m currently riding on a range of bikes. That’s for another day.

####

I’ve never been that attached to saddles, but have used them as wall art. Mark has more of a relationship with them, owning a buffalo hide model, and his fav is the Volta R1.

I hope to see you at the bike swap. I’ll have a few saddles with me, but not like Steve, he hasn’t even showed us the ones ON his bikes.

 

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Walk or roll on Portland streets? You need more personal injury insurance protection

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 13:42

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This post was written by Portland lawyer Cynthia Newton. She previously shared her concerns about commercial truck operators. Today’s post is about the insurance gap faced by bicycle users. It’s an issue we’ve covered previously here on BikePortland, but it’s so important we felt it was worth re-upping.

This is one of those things that’s not pleasant to think about, but important to know.

Bicycle riders and walkers who are involved in a collision with the driver of a motor vehicle often suffer serious injuries, requiring emergency medical care, surgery, hospitalization and short or long-term disability. Many Oregon drivers carry the minimal automobile insurance limits of $25,000. Serious injuries combined with this minimal amount of coverage combine to create a gap between the funds needed to pay medical expenses and to be fully compensated for lost income and non-economic damages. Put more simply: The injured’s damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.

As lawyers who work with bicycle riders, we see the consequences of this situation far too often.

The victim’s own automobile insurance Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage and Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) coverage play a key role in providing financial relief and compensation. Here’s why PIP and UIM coverage are so important to Oregon’s vulnerable road users and why buying more of each may be worth the extra pennies:

Take, for example, Joe, one of our seriously injured clients who was commuting by bicycle in a bicycle lane when a minivan driver, suddenly and without warning, turned right directly in front of him — a the classic “right hook.” In the resulting collision, Joe broke his foot and leg. An ambulance took him to the emergency room where doctors took x-rays and fitted him in a cast. Several days later his orthopedic surgeon placed pins in his foot to hold the bones in place. After five months of painful physical therapy his surgeon recommended another surgery to remove the pins which were impeding mobility. He was disabled and unable to work for 12 weeks immediately after the collision and for another month after the second surgery.

Joe’s medical bills were $85,899.33. His income loss $20,000. His non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and permanent limitations, are at least $100,000. The driver who struck Joe had Oregon minimal liability coverage limits of $25,000/$50,000 creating the obvious problem: With over $100,000 in economic losses and even greater non-economic losses, using these funds alone, Joe will not be adequately compensated by the at-fault driver’s $25,000 in liability coverage.

Here’s a crash course on how auto insurance coverage works in Oregon…

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
In Oregon, medical bills to care for a bicycle rider’s injuries caused by a collision with a motor vehicle operator are paid by insurers in this order: 1) the bicycle rider’s own automobile insurance Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage, if any; 2) the rider’s health insurance, if any; and 3) the driver’s automobile insurance under the policy’s PIP coverage.

Under-insured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
Oregon auto policies also include UIM. UIM coverage is designed to compensate the vulnerable road user for damages suffered for which the at-fault vehicle operator is responsible, yet not insured.

Minimal PIP and UIM Coverage Requirements
Insurers writing Oregon policies are required to write $15,000 of PIP medical coverage and 70% of lost income for up to one year (under certain circumstances) and $25,000/$50,000 per person/per collision of UIM coverage.

How PIP and UIM Compensate
Joe had $15,000 in PIP which was paid to the hospital for emergency and in-hospital care. His health insurance paid next — about $40,000 of the remaining $70,000. The driver’s insurance paid nearly $10,000 of its $15,000 PIP limits for Joe’s co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. After all three insurers’ payments, Joe has medical expense balances of $15,000. Joe’s PIP also paid him 70% of his lost income during the period when he was off work, paying 70% of his $20,000 lost income.

Any additional compensation, for past and future income loss or earning capacity, pain and suffering and permanent impairment, had to come from the driver’s liability coverage of $25,000 and Joe’s own UIM coverage, also $25,000. The total recovery was $50,000. (Seeking money damages from the at-fault driver was impractical in light of the driver’s financial situation and assets.)

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Considering nearly $100,000 in medical expenses, $20,000 in lost income, months of pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent impairment, Joe’s case could reasonably be valued at $250,000. Instead, he can recover only $25,000 from the mini-van driver. The at-fault driver maintained insurance to cover just 10% of the damage he inflicted.

Bicycle riders wishing to guard against this risk of being under-compensated after an injury-causing collision can increase their policy’s PIP and UIM coverage limits. Our informal research shows that increasing these limits can cost relatively little in light of the considerable benefits they provide when a rider, vulnerable to the effects of a collision with a motor vehicle operator, is injured. We asked five auto insurers what it would cost for a 25-year-old female Portlander who owns a Prius and had been insured for 10 years with good credit and no history of collisions, to increase her PIP and UIM coverage.

This table summarizes our findings:

The table shows that this bicycle user can increase her PIP from $15,000 to $25,000 for between $12.00 and $16.00 per year. She can increase her PIP to $50,000 for between $32.00 and $66.00 per year.

One advantage to having more PIP coverage available to pay medical bills is that while many health insurers control the providers its insureds can see for treatment, PIP has no such restrictions. Also, PIP has no co-pays or deductibles and the medical provider is required to accept payments set by statute and write off the balance.

That same policyholder can increase her UIM coverage from the basic $25,000 to $50,000 for between $6.00 and $20.00 per month and to $100,000 for between $12.00 and $46.00 per month. Additional UIM coverage is then available to compensate the rider more fully for unpaid medical expenses, lost income and non-economic losses. Since legislation effective January 1, 2016, UIM coverage “stacks” or sits on top of the driver’s liability coverage. (For more about HB 411 see coverage on BikePortland.)

Insurers aren’t required to tell their customers about the availability of higher PIP and UIM limits. And, at these prices they may have little incentive to do so.

Cynthia Newton

Unfortunately, in many cases, whether someone injured biking or walking will or will not be compensated fully will depend on his or her own automobile coverage. While this may be unfair, until legislation is passed requiring higher automobile user liability limits, drivers won’t have enough coverage to compensate those they seriously injured. According to one 2015 study, 12.7 percent of Oregon drivers were uninsured. Many more, we find, are under-insured.

Until the legislature takes action to help protect bicycle users from uninsured — and under-insured — drivers, Oregon’s vulnerable road users should consider whether they can pay a bit more to secure higher PIP and UIM limits to provide themselves some measure of self-protection.

— Cynthia Newton is a partner in the law firm of Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost. TCN&F is also a BikePortland sponsor.

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Oregon’s auto industry is booming: Is that a good thing?

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 12:59

Good news?

How can Oregon make progress in its fight against car abuse when cars represent one of the largest sectors of our state’s economy?

It feels good for Oregon bicycle advocates to talk about “bikenomics,” but the truth hurts: our state’s auto industry is a behemoth that casts a very long shadow. According to an article published Sunday in the Portland Tribune, there was $10.6 billion in new vehicle sales in 2016 (the latest year figures are available). That amounts to a whopping 17.9 percent of all retail sales statewide.

As the Trib story says, auto dealers are celebrating a “banner year” as they ready for their biggest moment — the annual Portland Auto Show held at the Oregon Convention Center this weekend.

Here’s more from the Trib piece:

“… the sales figures only hint on the impact that new car dealers have in the state. For starters, there were 218 of them in state in 2016, more than enough for at least one in every city of any size. Each employed an average of 60 people. The total payroll was $716 billion million, with $305 million paid in state and federal income taxes.

“Just about the only equivalent employer is the state are school districts,” says Remensperger [executive vice president of the Metro Portland New Car Dealers Association]…

But the dealerships supported even more indirect and induced jobs in their community, bringing the total number they created in 2016 to 27,045 — a sizeable percent of the state’s total workforce by any measure.

“This economic engine provides jobs and incomes that in turn create vibrant livable communities around the state. We are proud that our industry helps bring families together, creates lasting memories and serves the communities where we live,” says Chris Meier, a partner at the Herzog-Meier Auto Center, president of the Metro Portland New Car Dealers Association and vice-president of the Oregon Auto Dealers Association.”

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Mural of Oregon inside OMSI shows everything our state loves — and there are no cars in sight.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

These should be sobering statistics for people who want to see Oregon prioritize transit and bicycling over single-occupancy auto use.

Here are some of the questions I’m thinking about after seeing that article:

➤ When most lawmakers and community leaders see cars as a vital piece to our economic puzzle, how can we create a political environment where car use is seen not as a benign behavior, but for what it also is: an extremely costly (to its users, government, and the public), environmentally harmful, public safety threat that should be done sparingly and only when other options are not available?

➤ Is it possible to achieve our transportation and environmental goals and maintain a healthy and robust auto industry?

➤ Could a comparable economic boost be provided by a state that dramatically improves its public transit and bicycling networks?

Whether overt or behind-the-scenes, there’s no denying the power of the auto industry in Oregon. As our department of transportation begins a conversation about congestion pricing, I hope we can separate what’s good for long-term policy from what’s good for short-term pocketbooks.

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

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Northwest Trail Alliance: The trail ahead (Part 2)

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 10:15

A rider finds the groove on a trail in Gateway Green, a signature project for Northwest Trail Alliance. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

[This is the second part of a two-part post from Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik. Don’t miss Part 1, a recap of 2017.]

Almost 30 years ago, Theo Patterson spoke up to make sure mountain bikes weren’t banned from Forest Park. To help, Patterson founded Portland United Mountain Pedalers, or PUMP. In 2009, PUMP became Northwest Trail Alliance, and we turn 30 this year. With our Big Three-Oh looming, let’s glance back and gaze forward.

Advocacy

NWTA volunteer Andy Jansky at a meeting of the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan advisory committee.

PUMP formed to advocate for off-road cycling in Forest Park. In 2017, almost 30 years later, NWTA’s advocacy efforts took a huge step forward, a three-fold increase in time spent (more than 2,000 hours) engaging in various political arenas. Shaping Portland’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan remains a key focus for us, concluding in 2018 as we actively promote passage by Portland’s City Council.

So, what’s next for advocacy? Expanding our reach: We’re bringing forward the voice of mountain biking to statewide recreation matters via the recently-formed Oregon Outdoors Coalition and the now-forming Statewide Trails Coalition. And separately, we’re helping form a statewide mountain biking advocacy organization, an initiative launched out of last October’s Mountain Biking Summit, which was co-produced by NWTA.

But let’s shift to the fun stuff that comes once advocacy is done— digging and riding.

Gateway Green


Momentum continues. The current “beta” version (hence the Dirt Lab moniker) of features at Gateway Green laid down the basics for an urban bike park. Over the next few years, as part of ongoing maintenance, we’ll progressively evolve the cycling trails, skills area, and jump line, increasing the level of fun and challenge while simultaneously lowering the bar in areas for the youngest riders. You’ll see more about this in mid-February.

Above the evolution of existing features, a new gravity line will come about, starting at the top of the park’s south hill and descending to an exit near the entrances to the forest trails and the jump line. We’ll be participating in the build.

The site’s grand opening last year was a huge success, one we hope to eclipse on Sunday April 29 with our season kick-off: a mountain bike festival at Gateway Green. Envision a miniature Sea Otter Classic, bringing together riders and our local bike industry, mixing in demo bikes, food, and beer, and offering competitive and/or exhibition events. There will even be a Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day segment, as Gateway Green will be closed for construction during October’s traditional date for this event.

Stub Stewart

At Stub Stewart, the Williams Creek Horseshoe trail — a 1.8-mile connector to future mountain bike trail expansion lower in the park — will be re-engineered for all-season use. The project, a collaboration between NWTA and Trailkeepers of Oregon, funded by REI, includes re-routing two segments of the trail and engineering four drainage crossings. Work parties will commence in spring and run through the end of the year.

Saturday, May 19 sees LapQuest — our members-only, mass-start time trial — return to Stub Stewart. Ride your heart out for a personal best and then fill your empty tank with barbecue. What’s not to love?

Next, StubFest returns June 16–17, Saturday and Sunday, but taking on a new flavor. Produced in partnership with REI, StubFest will blend mountain biking into the classic REI Campout experience. By offering REI campers orientation on the mountain biking trail system at Stub Stewart, group rides of various lengths and skill levels and various times of day, and opportunities to enhance mountain bike skills, we’ll be growing the sport. NWTA members, bring your whole tribe this year and enjoy a family (and Father’s Day) weekend.

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Sandy Ridge moves way up the active development leaderboard in 2018. A new trail, Johnny Royale, is planned for construction in spring. Connecting Two Turntables and a Microwave to the new trailhead, it’ll provide a higher degree of challenge than (while lowering the traffic on) lower Hide and Seek. We’ll be directly participating in the build, which is partially funded through our prior years’ Sandy Ridge Shuttle events. As a side note, the BLM has completed a land swap with Clackamas County, bringing the trails TNT and Little Monkey officially into their system (and NWTA’s maintenance responsibilities). Expect work parties to give these popular trails a bit of additional love.

July and September will bring us significantly upgraded Sandy Ridge Shuttle events. These fundraisers — a partnership with the City of Sandy using Mt Hood Express buses and trailers — will also land a mountain bike festival in Sandy Ridge’s newly-expanded trailhead (planned for a ribbon-cutting in May). Dates for the upgraded Sandy Ridge Shuttle events have yet to be determined, and may include both Saturday and Sunday.

Elsewhere
Two work-party campout favorites return in 2018— Coldwater Lake and SHIFT. The Coldwater Lake Workparty Campout runs Friday thought Sunday, June 1–3, at the Coldwater Lake Picnic Site, Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Camping (which is not normally allowed) begins Friday night, while Saturday brings on a family-oriented work party. Fill your remaining time with organized group or on-your-own rides.

Coldwater’s more rugged big brother, the SHIFT Workparty Campout, runs Friday through Sunday, August 17–19, at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park on Mt St Helens. Camping begins Thursday night, with Friday and Sunday set aside for organized group and individual rides. Saturday’s wake-up call — usually a chainsaw at full chat — heralds a multitude of dispersed work parties, which are followed by a beautifully catered meal Saturday evening.

Save the Dates

Here’s NWTA’s official 2018 event lineup (with work parties to come):

• April 29, Sunday: Gateway Green MTB Festival & Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day
• May 19 (Saturday): LapQuest
• June 1–3 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday): Coldwater Lake Workparty Campout
• June 16–17 (Saturday and Sunday): StubFest
• July: Sandy Ridge Shuttle
• August 17–19 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday): SHIFT Workparty Campout
• September: Sandy Ridge Shuttle

Stay tuned to nw-trail.org, as event postings with registration details will be added in the very near future.

— Chris Rotvik, President, Northwest Trail Alliance

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Northwest Trail Alliance: The tide is turning (Part 1)

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 10:15

A father and daughter enjoy the new trails at Gateway Green’s Dirt Lab.
(Photos: J. Maus)

Standing with our partners (I’m on the left in green shirt) — including City Commissioners Amanda Fritz, Nick Fish, and Portland Parks Director Mike Abbaté — at opening day for the Dirt Lab at Gateway Green.

[We’re happy to publish a two-part article from Northwest Trail Alliance President Chris Rotvik. First, a recap of 2017. Then a look ahead to what’s in store this year.]

Throughout 2017, more than 1,700 mountain bikers — from shredders to striders — dropped in to Northwest Trail Alliance-hosted digging and riding events. And, all tolled, our volunteers carved a smidgen over 12,000 hours into our trails and the political arena that sustains the flow of riding in our region. Those hours equate to $360,000 of hard labor invested in elevating both our sport, and the tide on which our local cycling industry floats. Think of it as your membership and sponsorship currency, multiplied tenfold, and paid forward.

The urban scene captured the lion’s share of 2017’s effort. To date, we’ve brought forward more than 1,500 hours (and we’re not yet at the finish line) shaping Portland’s Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP). Simultaneously, our expertise, labor, and equipment helped bring the Dirt Lab at Gateway Green — the prototype of how ORCMP will reshape our urban riding scene — to life.

Opened in late June, the Dirt Lab has reinvigorated riding and advocacy, and there’s much good yet to come of it— in Forest Park, River View Natural Area, Washington Park, and drizzled across the smaller parks in Portland. Icing that cake is our sweet partnership with Metro, who’ll soon be bringing delectable riding in the North Tualatin Mountains beyond Forest Park, in Oregon City, and in the Gabbert Buttes to the east of Portland.

So, after 30 years, the urban tide is turning. Are you out there, Theo Patterson?

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Take a Kid Mountain Biking day at Ventura Park.

Let’s step from the urban scene to our front-country venues: First, we wrote Stub Stewart State Park the equivalent of a $60,000 check in the form of 2,500 volunteer hours, the highest across all our sites (Gateway Green and Growler’s Gulch ranked second and third at 1,800 and 1,600 hours, respectively). At Stub, we put paid to two new bridges, two new coach-ready, skill-building loops, a significant trail re-route, and two riding events. Next, the trail gnomes of Southwest Washington topped the mileage charts by adding — with their usual surgical precision — another five miles of new line to the fabled Growler’s Gulch system. (Digging is your ticket to entry, so if you’d like to ride Growler’s magic carpet, sign up for the work parties … find them on nw-trail.org.)

Elsewhere in the region, we buffed-out the trails. And buffed some more, for a total of 1,900 hours of wax on, wax off at Sandy Ridge, St. Helens, Coldwater Lake, Scappoose, Tillamook, Lacamas, Cascade Locks, Eichler, Powell Butte, Hagg Lake, and Whipple Creek. That’s the equivalent of re-shaping and brushing seven hours a day, five days a week, year-round. Mister Miyagi would be proud.

OK, then. We’ve brought almost two thousand of our new best friends to the party, opened a bike park, gained significant urban mountain biking momentum, raised Stub and Growler’s yet another notch, kept Sandy Ridge a premier destination despite the onslaught of almost one hundred thousand gravity-fueled runs, and sustained 10 other regional riding destinations. Not bad, eh?

While 2017’s achievements just might be a high water mark for the organization, we’re already over it, aside from just one thing … our gratitude. If it weren’t for you — member, sponsor, volunteer — mountain biking in the region would be dirt poor. Thank you for all you do for our shared passion.

Oh, and 2018 promises to be a gangbuster. Care to join us?

— Chris Rotvik, President, Northwest Trail Alliance

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Chris Cosentino Knife Roll by Chrome

Bike Hugger - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 17:03

Chrome recently collaborated with celebrity chef Chris Cosentino on a knife roll and during the time spent with him Chris explained why he likes riding to work and what motivates him in the kitchen.

I’m not a food blogger, but that is a good looking knife roll.

Looks like it’s made from the same military-grade tarpaulin lining and 1050d nylon the messenger bag I carry with me to shoots is, the Warsaw II. See the Warsaw in this story for DP Mag.

The roll features

  • Four utility pockets
  • Fits 11 knives up to 17”
  • Snap closure flaps for safety
  • Cinch-down clip straps
  • Pen slots
  • Quick-access business card pocket.

And, costs $125.00.

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Finding heaven on the Hell of the North Plains

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 16:04

And then there was this bright green meadow on our way up to the top of Wildcat Mountain.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sometimes all it takes to find a good adventure on two wheels is to just look a little harder.

Many of the best roads on Saturday’s Hell of the North Plains ride were in places I’ve ridden or driven near for many years. But somehow, someway, the routefinding raconteurs at Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) manage to go deeper into (relatively) local backroads than most of us will ever venture on our own.

Over the course of several years, OMTM has garnered quite a following. Led by a few talented people (mostly local music industry creatives Ron Lewis and Ryan Francesconi), OMTM is an Instagram account full of inspirational imagery, a website with loads of tips and great route reports, and an email list where dozens (hundreds?) of people share tips and info about how to get the most out of unpaved road riding.

This was the third annual Hell of the North Plains (the name is a nod to the famously tough Paris-Roubaix road race). In typical fashion, Lewis spent the weeks leading up to Saturday’s ride by building anticipation with teaser messages and photos from recon rides (all their routes are highly vetted). Even with the build-up, I don’t think anyone came away disappointed. I missed the start in downtown North Plains, but I heard around 70-100 people showed up to tackle the 56-mile, 5,400 feet route on a rainy and foggy Saturday morning.

Click for official route via Ride With GPS.

If you missed it, here’s a look at the roads, the people, and the bikes.

The roads (and trails!)

Ron, Ryan, and the OMTM crew really outdid themselves with the route. Even the paved sections at the start were spectacular. About 30 percent of the mileage was paved, the rest was varying types of dirt roads. We rode through everything: peanut-buttery, pine-needle-infested mud; embedded rock gardens; freshly laid gravel that was loose and sharp; fast and hard-packed dirt; double-track; singletrack; and even a bit of hiking at the summit of Wildcat Mountain. (Please note, this route included a short stretch on Sherman’s Mill Road (off of Bacona Road) that went across private property. Ride organizers received permission from the landowner ahead of time.)

Yes, he’s going the right way.

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One of the coolest things about unpaved riding is the wide variety of bikes and people that it attracts. I saw everything from fatbikes to a singlespeed cyclocross bike. As for riders, there was a very fast race group that went flying off the front and lots of other “crews” that did the ride at their own pace.

Mielle Blomberg (in pink), fresh off racing at cross nationals in Reno, brought along her crew for a relaxed, shortened version of the route.

Dan Schafer had a rippin’ good time on his fatbike.

Team Velo Cult showed up in force.

Ron Lewis is one of the brains behind OMTM.

Ryan Francesconi is a master route-builder, gravel riding legend, and the man behind the the “Unpaved” Ride with GPS group and email list.

My bike for the day was a bit overkill, but I needed to carry my D-SLR camera and a few “just in case” items. It’s a Salsa Vaya built by 21st Avenue Bicycles with custom bits — the same bike I rode the Oregon Outback on a few years ago.

If you’re curious, the Hell of the North Plains route is a perfect century ride from north Portland. I rode from home and back afterwards and it was 100 miles on the nose (and 9,100 feet of climbing).

Grab the GPS track with full cue sheet for this route at OMTM.cc and get inspired for upcoming rides by following OMTM on Instagram.

Got questions about the ride, the gear I used, or anything else? Ask me in the comments.

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

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Please Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel

Bike Hugger - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 15:01

I never ask, but YouTube changed their creator policy and our channel requires 1K subscribers to get whatever small payout may come.

Please subscribe.

We got the watch hours, been on their forever, just not the subs. Video hasn’t and isn’t a huge content priority for us, but we share what we have when it’s made.

Thanks!

A future pizza party depends on it.

 

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Fatbiking in the Snow 360

Bike Hugger - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 14:52

And, I thought the fatbiking in Park City was cold. We didn’t get out on a frozen lake like my friend Robb did.

Fat biking on frozen Hoth yesterday with a nice view of #Barrie too. #winter #fun #360video #views #norco #bigfoot #fatbike #LakeSimcoe

A post shared by astroboy (@astro.boy) on Jan 20, 2018 at 6:14am PST

See the full 360 here. Grab the video with your cursor to move the view around. And, maybe drink some hot cocoa afterwards.

Fatbiking in the Snow

Cycling is now a four-seasons sport, you can ride year round if you want, even in a resort town like Park City with powdery snow. See the rest of our fatbiking in the snow coverage in these posts

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WA bicycle trails get funding: List includes John Wayne Pioneer, Whitehorse, Centennial and Olympic Discovery trails

Biking Bis - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 14:49
Washington state legislators finally approved a state capital budget last week that includes millions of dollars for bicycle trail improvements. The 2017-2019 budget was drafted for passage in June 2017, but dysfunction at the Olympic junction created an impasse between Republicans and Democrats, delaying final approval until this past Thursday. The SSB 6090 budget summary …

Continue reading

The Monday Roundup: Dallas’ dock-mess, de Blasio’s hypocrisy, a velodrome in Detroit, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/22/2018 - 10:09

Welcome to a new week.

Here are the best stories we came across in the last seven days.

I’ll have what they’re having: This piece in Governing caught my eye because it highlights the decrease in traffic deaths in San Francisco and New York City last year. Do they know something we don’t know?

From our Sponsor:

Don’t miss the Tacx Indoor Trainer Demo Night at Western Bikeworks tomorrow night (Tuesday, 1/23)!

A “hot trend”: More momentum for e-bikes in the U.S., and about as mainstream as you can get. Stories like this one are why many of us got into the bike business to begin with!

The lifesaving bicycle: This wonderful essay comes from a woman who was at her personal rock bottom — only to find that the simple act of riding a bicycle helped get her life back.

Here they come: Waymo’s self-driving cars — without a driver behind the wheel — are in operation on the roads of a 100-mile geofenced area of Chandler, Arizona.

Is Oregon ready?: If a self-driving car company gets aggressive in the Oregon market, Nigel Jaquiss from the Willamette Week says state lawmakers are way behind the curve.

Tips for “biking fat”: Get the right bike, the right clothes, the right people, and the right attitude, says Seattle’s Marley Blonsky.

Free transit works: Utah’s transit agency gave free rides for a day and saw a 23 percent in ridership and took an estimated 17,560 drivers off the road.

Here’s how NYC does bikeways: While we wait for PBOT to unveil a plan for central city protected bikeways, here’s how NYC plans to make biking better in Manhattan.

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Bike Snob has had it: Eben Weiss (aka Bike Snob) calls out NYC’s mayor for his tough talk around climate change — while he continues his fight against delivery workers who use e-bikes.

It’s our choice: Curbed looks at a new study that finds U.S. kids are twice as likely to die at the hands of auto users than other wealthy nations. The worst part is solutions are readily available we simply choose not to implement them.

Discrimination in traffic: America Walks has published the audio recap of their latest “Walking Toward Justice” episode that examines how the criminal justice system interacts with Vision Zero and traffic enforcement.

Dock-mess: The mayor of Dallas, Texas is very upset by the “bike litter” created by dockless bike share systems in his town; so much so he’s suggested rounding them up in his pickup truck and impounding them himself.

Congestion pricing in Manhattan: NYC’s governor unveiled a plan that would make driving a car into the busiest part of the city cost up to $11.52.

Traffic law compliance: Outside breaks down a study from Florida’s DOT that found people break traffic laws more when they use cars than when they use bicycles.

So jealous: Detroit is getting an indoor velodrome where young people can ride for free. I would love to see one of these in Portland.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone!

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

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Comment of the Week: How Portland’s housing crisis impacts cycling

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 14:36

[Note: I know it’s been forever since we did a “Comment of the Week”. I hope to make it a more regular occurrence. You can help make that happen by flagging great comments for me, either via an email or text or smoke signal.]

Portland’s lack of housing and rising costs of what we do have is well-documented. The situation has vast impacts on many parts of our lives.

Of the 495 comments we had this week, the one that stood out to me most was related to this topic. It was actually a reply to another reader’s comment, so I guess we have two comments of the week. The comments come from the “Year in review” story we published from Joe Cortright.

It started from a regular commenter named “soren”. He wrote:

“The increase in driving in Portland is probably not only about lower fuel cost. The cost of housing and the lack of tenant protections is displacing many who walk, bike, or bus. Anecdotally, I know multiple people who previously lived a largely car-free lifestyle in the inner city who are now car-dependent because they were forced to move to the periphery or outside of Portland… As Portland increasingly becomes an exclusive playground for rentiers and the rich it will also increasingly become a car-centric city.”

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[These comments educated me about the term “rentiers,” which refers to a person living on income from property or investments.]

And a reader named “Huey Lewis” shared a reply that added a very human element to soren’s comment:

“This is us. We had to move to outer SE to buy a place, all we could afford was east of 205. What was formerly a 2 mile ride to beer, pizza and Blazers with a friend is now closer to 8. Meeting someone on Alberta was maybe 3 miles. That same meeting is now a little over 9. A ride to Kelley Point park and home was 25, now that’s just over 40 round trip. It kinda sucks. More miles riding my bike is usually great. But not dark, rainy, miles surrounded by aggro drivers, crossing busy arterials and being crowded on side streets by people trying to beat the traffic.”

The idea that people with bike-oriented tendencies are moving further outside the central city and are therefore less able to enact those tendencies, isn’t new. In fact, TriMet has already blamed that same phenomenon on the decrease in transit ridership in Portland.

What to do about this? We need more housing and a more diverse range of housing choices of course — but we also need to make safe streets a standard feature of Portland life, instead of the special privilege of the few who can still live close-in.

Thanks for reading this week. I appreciate your support and your comments. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

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

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Council hears concerns about I-5 expansion impacts on Tubman Middle School

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 13:31

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s plan to expand the width of I-5 through the Rose Quarter got a fresh dose of criticism at a Portland City Council hearing yesterday.

The project was on the agenda as part of a slew of Comprehensive Plan amendments and people concerned about the project didn’t waste the opportunity to tell Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners that they feel it’s not the right thing to do.

One piece of testimony that was particularly noteworthy came from Portland Public School Board member Paul Anthony. He raised several questions about the project’s impact on Harriet Tubman Middle School. The school will be re-opened this fall and it sits just yards away from where new lanes will be added if and when the project is built (see photo). ODOT has already come under scrutiny for how this project will impact air quality around Tubman.

In a phone interview today, agency spokesman Don Hamilton said they’re used to working with adjacent property owners.

I’ll share Anthony’s testimony and then Hamilton’s response.

Anthony:

“… To open Tubman this August we must immediately invest $12 million in health, safety and infrastructure improvements. In my view, ODOT and the city of Portland are putting PPS and it’s board in a nearly impossible situation. We do not know if the widening of I-5 will even happen. We do not know if children will be able to occupy Tubman safely during construction; if ODOT can confine construction to times when Tubman is not in use, or if the Tubman building and site will even be viable after construction.

ODOT is proposing a 30-foot retaining wall next to Tubman. It requires horizontal pilings driven 40-feet into the hillside under the building. Those pilings will have to be woven between the vertical pilings that currently hold up Tubman. We do not know if ODOT’s pilings can be driven without harming Tubman. If ODOT can limit pile-driving to times when Tubman is not occupied, or what the consequences would be for Tubman if ODOT hits one or more of Tubman’s pilings.

ODOT is proposing multiple lids over I-5; one of which will end just 60-feet south of Tubman. Lids are known to trap and concentrate pollution. We do not know if those lids will trap and funnel the accumulated pollution north into Tubman, making an already bad air situation, worse.

So the district and its board is risking the education of 1000s of Portland’s children, the hopes and dreams of my own personal community, and spending $12 million of public money all on a resource this project is putting in grave risk.

The current ask before the council is for a delay to study whether the proposed widening would actually relieve area congestion. With all the many unknowns, this seems like a very reasonable reqeust and I ask your support for it. Also, any answers that the council, the city, or ODOT could provide Portland Public Schools and its board would be greatly appreciated.”

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Google streetview of northbound I-5 with Tubman Middle School in the upper right. New lanes would go in the grassy section right below it.

In response, Mayor Wheeler said, “You’ve raised legitimate questions that deserve an answer,” and he promised to set up a meeting of interested parties.

“We would not do anything without making sure that the school and the things they need to support Tubman and make it safe and secure are taken care of.”
— Don Hamilton, ODOT

I called ODOT’s Hamilton to ask for his response to Anthony’s concerns. Hamilton said there’s nothing to worry about. “One of the important things to recognize here is the schedule. PPS will open Tubman this fall and we’re still 4-5 years away from getting started on the Rose Quarter project,” he said. “The schedules are very, very different and I think any sense of there being danger to students at this point doesn’t jibe with the schedule.”

Even if the project doesn’t start for four years, I asked Hamilton, aren’t Anthony’s concerns about wasting $12 million on school upgrades today still valid?

“That’s an important question,” Hamilton replied. “When we start to make this project happen, we will make sure that all of the needs of PPS are met. We would not do anything without making sure that the school and the things they need to support Tubman and make it safe and secure are taken care of.”

Asked if he could recall a similar situation with such a sensitive property so close to a freeway expansion project, Hamilton said, “We had to take care of a pregnant elephant once.” He was referring to a 2012 project on Highway 26 near the Oregon Zoo where construction crews staged far away from the site to reduce vibrations so as not to disturb a prized elephant’s pregnancy. “We are always looking to mitigate projects with neighbors and to make sure their needs are taken care of.”

Hamilton said there will be ample opportunities to discuss impacts to the school. ODOT will do an environmental assessment that will include an air quality analysis and they are required to give a progress report on the project to the Oregon legislature in 2020.

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

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County says NW Newberry Rd could be fixed — and reopened to drivers — by summer

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:38

It looks bad, but it’s good on a bike.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I have some bad news. Unless, that is, you drive a car on NW Newberry Road.

Slide is marked with a star. Newberry is about a half-mile south of Sauvie Island exit off Highway 30.

One of our area’s most popular climbs has been carfree since a major landslide destroyed a section of it one year ago. Newberry Road snakes up from Highway 30 about 10 miles north of downtown Portland. It’s part of many nice routes from Skyline Road and other destinations well beyond. It’s so well loved that River City Bicycles even made a short video about it recently (which has a great shot of the damaged section of road):

During major storms last year, half the pavement fell into the hillside. The damage is about a half-mile up from Highway 30 and Multnomah County was forced to close the road to auto users. People can still drive their homes from the top or the bottom, but no through driving is allowed. The result has been a blissfully quiet road you can climb without the stress of passing drivers or the toxic fumes that come out of their tailpipes. Being carfree has made a good climb, great.

Unfortunately Newberry’s carfree days are numbered. If things go according to the County’s plan they’ll have it rebuilt by this summer next winter.
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According to Chris Fick, chief of staff for Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, they’ve nailed down the $1.8 million needed for the rebuild (with funds from the Federal Highway Administration).

Fick says there are two property owners the County is currently negotation right-of-way issues with, but the design work is 90 percent complete. Once construction begins (either this summer or fall) it should take about four months to finish. At the latest, it will be re-opened to drivers by this coming fall winter 2019.

So get out there and enjoy those peaceful pedal strokes while you can.

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

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20 mph speed limits: What they said about it at Council and what you need to know

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:29

Commissioner Fish got a bit salty. And it was good.

As expected, there was no debate at Portland City Council yesterday where an ordinance to authorize a new 20 mph residential speed limit was on the agenda.

Getting a 5-0 vote in support was a foregone conclusion because the state law council endorsed was crafted by the City of Portland in the first place. Lower speed limits are also a key pillar of Portland’s Vision Zero plans.

When there’s no real drama, council meetings like yesterday’s are often most useful because they give us a window into what our electeds, city staff, and other community leaders think about the policies we obsess about around here all the time.

Before I share a selection of comments and testimony I heard yesterday, let’s take a look at the technical aspects of the 25 mph –> 20 mph rollout the Portland Bureau of Transportation will now get started on in earnest:

The official details from PBOT

PBOT project manager Dana Dickman presented the plans to council. She described the places where the new 20 mph speed limit will take effect as, “the streets most of us live on,” and “our collective front yard.” Dickman also shared that this speed reduction effort is the second of three speed-related actions outlined in PBOT’s Vision Zero Action Plan. The first one was to install speed safety cameras (which they’ve done to great success) and the next one is to redesign streets so they’re harder to speed on.

What exactly are “residential streets” according to PBOT? Dickman shared a definition that included the following three criteria:

1. Excludes federally classified collectors and arterials.

2. Has a “statutory speed limit.” [This means a limit where state law defines the speed and it doesn’t have to be signed in order to be enforced. Places where PBOT or ODOT have created a special “speed zone” with signage do not apply.]

3. Located in a “residence district.” [That term is defined in ORS 801.430 as, “territory not comprising a business district that is contiguous to a highway that: (1) Has access to property occupied primarily by multifamily dwellings; or (2) Has an average of 150 feet or less between accesses or approaches to: (a) Dwellings, churches, public parks within cities or other residential service facilities; or (b) Dwellings and buildings used for business.]

Dickman pointed out that some streets — like SE Belmont at 15th — will remain 25 mph even though they go through residence districts.

(PBOT slide)

PBOT has just updated their website with Dickman’s entire presentation and a much more detailed map of the new 20 mph streets:

PBOT map of 20 mph streets. Click for larger PDF.

And here’s a look at the streets that won’t get lower speeds:

If you’re wondering when all signs will be changed and the lower speed limit will be in effect citywide, here’s a timeline:

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Noteworthy commentary from electeds and leaders.

PBOT Director Leah Treat:

“This is a really significant step… This is primarily about safety, but benefits go beyond that. Our residential streets are not just for cars to travel on, they’re where we play basketball, people have block parties, walk to the library… This is about making our streets more livable…

In 2017 45 people were killed by traffic violence in our city; an unfortuhabate upward tick in our fatalities and we want to address that.”

Commissioner Amanda Fritz:

“I have lost three family members to traffic crashes involving speed… To people who say this won’t work: It might. And I would ask everyone who drives: Do you want to be a driver who causes a fatlity?

… There’s a reason for speed limits. I believe that most Portlanders do the right thing if they do what they’re supposed to do, and it’s defintely the right thing to do to drive 20 mph on residential streets.”

Commissioner Nick Fish:

“What we’re talking about in preventing unnecessary deaths on our streets and arterials, is preventing families from being torn apart by the tragedy of a completely preventable death… We know there’s a problem and there’s lots of ways to fix the problem. The question is: do we have the will to implement them? We can argue about whether it’s 20 or 25 or what level enforcement… but my view on Vision Zero is: Let’s take all the best ideas and implement them. Because if we save a life — if we save someone the horror of burying a loved one — we’ve done something important.

… As to the notion that we can’t change behavior. I think we do it through peer pressure and community pressure. How about setting an example? Like put your goddamn phone down while you drive!”

Mayor Ted Wheeler:

“… I believe this is an important step towards reducing the kinds of interactions we’re having on our streets that are leading to some of the negative news stories about how safe our community actually is.

I know there will be those that will say: ‘This is the government intervening and trying to change our behavior.’ I want to be clear: they are exactly right! But the truth is, the government shouldn’t have to come in to change behavior. We shouldn’t have to be taking this action. The reason we are doing it is people aren’t using the two most valuable tools they have to reduce accidents and injuries on our streets: And that is a reasonable schedule and the clock that you need to make sure you are running on time. If you leave home late for someting you have scheduled you are going to drive faster than you need to. I think the communications program is: Have a resonable schedule; know how long it takes you to get from point-a to point-b and leave on time. Don’t leave late. So many of these accidents, people say, ‘Gosh, I didn’t mean to run this person over, I was running late.’ That is epidemic in our society. We are always overscheduled. We are always running late. And the busier and later you are, the more you are not thinking about what you should be thinking about, which is driving the car and doing so in a safe manner.

So this is one tool we are using, but the most important tool is ulimately the decisions we make as drivers before — and while — we get behind the wheel of an automobile.”

A note about enforcement

There’s been much debate here about how enforcement will — or won’t — play a role.

“I can’t tell you I’m going to increase enforcement on these streets. Enforcement will stay about the same.”
— Michael Crebs, PPB Traffic Division Captain

From a policy standpoint, PBOT’s Vision Zero Task Force specifically de-emphasized enforcement due to how it might have an unfair impact on people of color and people. Here’s the language from the adopted plan: “The enforcement actions in this plan are limited in order to reduce the possibility of racial profiling and disparate economic impacts.” That doesn’t mean PBOT can’t use enforcement as a tool. The plan called for “targeted enforcement” to “address violations that cause injury and death.” They called on the city to “de-emphasize less serious infractions.” Is speeding on residential streets considered “less serious”? That probably depends on who you ask.

At council yesterday, Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Cpt. Michael Crebs said, “I support this 100 percent… this is a big deal folks.” He said he too is concerned about enforcement. While enforcement will continue on high crash corridors, Cpt. Crebs said, “I can’t tell you I’m going to increase enforcement on these streets. Enforcement will stay about the same.” Even so, he thinks the law will slow people down. Crebs also said he believes “the majority of folks” who drive on residential streets are “your friends and neighbors” and that peer pressure alone will be enough to slow them down. I’m not sure where Cpt. Crebs lives, but in Portland right now the big problem is the opposite: People are using residential streets as cut-throughs and they don’t care about anything else but getting home a few minutes faster.

Commissioner Fish also shared a concern that enforcement wasn’t part of the speed reduction plan. PBOT’s Dickman told him, “Our intent is to stay true to the strategy for enforcememt we have now.”

By April 1st, PBOT should have all the new 20 mph signs up. It will cost them about $300,000 to pay for labor and materials.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Bike Clark County, Lakeside, Efficient Velo Tools, Axiom Event Productions

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 08:17

Looking for a new place to spread you cycling wings? We’ve got four great job opportunities that just went up this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Bike Shop Mechanic – Bike Clark County

–> Sales – Lakeside Bicycles

–> Production Technician – Efficient Velo Tools LLC

–> Volunteer Manager – Axiom Event Productions

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

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The post Jobs of the Week: Bike Clark County, Lakeside, Efficient Velo Tools, Axiom Event Productions appeared first on BikePortland.org.

2017 Year-in-review: More driving, more dying

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:12

Traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This story is by Joe Cortright. It first appeared on City Observatory.

Four days before Christmas, on a Wednesday morning just after dawn, Elizabeth Meyers was crossing Sandy Boulevard in Portland, near 78th Avenue, just about a block from her neighborhood library. She was struck and killed, becoming Portland’s 50th traffic fatality of 2017.

If we’re serious about Vision Zero, we ought to be doing more to design places where people can easily live while driving less, and where people can walk without regularly confronting speeding automobiles.
— Joe Cortright, City Observatory

Vision Zero, a bold road-safety campaign with its origins in Scandinavia has been sweeping through the US for the past decades, prompting all kinds of tough-talking, goal-setting traffic safety campaigns. And admirably, Vision Zero is designed to be a results-oriented, no-nonsense, and data-driven effort. Fair enough.

But judge by the grisly traffic statistics of 2017, we’re failing. Almost everywhere you look, traffic injuries and crashes are increasing. The final national numbers aren’t in, but the trend is clearly toward higher road deaths. To focus on Portland for a moment, where Elizabeth Meyers was killed, the 50 traffic deaths recorded in 2017 were the highest number in two decades. After years of declines, traffic deaths in Portland have spiked in the past three years:

After averaging 31 traffic deaths per year between 2005 and 2014, traffic deaths have jumped 60% over the past three years.

There’s a lot of finger-pointing about distracted driving (and red herrings, like distracted pedestrians), but there’s a simpler explanation for what’s at work here. Americans are driving more, and as a result, more people are dying on the roads. As the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute’s Todd Litman noted, international comparisons make it clear that miles driven are an significant and independent risk factor that’s much higher in the US than in other developed countries. As Litman puts it:

…don’t blame high traffic death rates on inadequate traffic safety efforts, blame them on higher per capita vehicle travel, and therefore automobile-dependent transportation planning and sprawl-inducing development policies; those are the true culprits.

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The effects are big enough to show up in mortality statistics: American children are twice as likely to die in automobile crashes as are children in other advanced countries, which is a major contributor to the higher child mortality rate in the US.

After more than a decade of moderation in driving (motivated largely by high gas prices), driving in the US started increasing again when oil prices collapsed in 2014. Data from the US Department of Transportation trace a clear uptick in driving in the past three years.

The result, inevitably has been increased carnage on the highways.

There’s some good news out of the Oregon Legislature in the past year. The legislature gave the city permission to set lower speed limits on city streets, and the city has just authorized a new speed limit of 20 miles per hour that will apply to many of the city’s residential neighborhoods.

As important as this move is–excessive speed is a key contributor to fatalities–it does nothing to address the conditions that led to the death of Elizabeth Meyers. Sandy Boulevard is a multi-lane arterial street, the kind that the region’s safety analysis has determined to be the deadliest part of the roadway system. The city has been working on pedestrian improvements, and efforts to reduce speeding and red-light running. But in the area just east of where Meyers died, a section of roadway controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the state agency rejected city efforts to lower posted speeds:

In response to a community request to reduce the posted 35 MPH speed on the east end of NE Sandy Blvd, traffic speed counts were taken east of 85th Avenue in early 2014 as part of the High Crash Corridor evaluation. 85th percentile speeds were 40.3 MPH. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reviews and makes decisions on posted speed reduction requests. ODOT will not consider speed reductions that are 10 MPH or more below the 85th percentile speed. Therefore, ODOT would not approve a speed reduction on outer NE Sandy Blvd near 85th Ave.

(City of Portland, Bureau of Transportation, NE Sandy Blvd High Crash Corridor Safety Plan, 2014, page 5)

The grisly trend indicated by the traffic death data of the past three years tells us that as hard as we’re trying to achieve Vision Zero, we’re not trying hard enough. The biggest risk factor is just the sheer amount of driving we do, and with the boost to driving in recent years from lower fuel prices, it was predictable that deaths would increase. If we’re serious about Vision Zero, we ought to be doing more to design places where people can easily live while driving less, and where people can walk without regularly confronting speeding automobiles.

We clearly have a lot of work to do.

— Joe Cortright, City Observatory

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