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Students at Tubman Middle School wore masks to protest toxic air from I-5 drivers

Bike Portland - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 10:22

Students from Harriet Tubman Middle School on the N Flint Ave bridge yesterday. Their classrooms are just 50 feet from freeway lanes.
(Photos: Aaron Brown/No More Freeways PDX)

The kids know.

On Earth Day yesterday, Portland-based nonprofit Neighbors for Clean Air organized a protest on the Flint Avenue Bridge. Dozens of students from nearby Harriet Tubman Middle School joined them. They wore masks, donned “No Dirty Diesel” t-shirts, and chanted, “Diesel is dirty! Diesel is dumb!”.


From their perch on the bridge, the students could see thousands of people driving fossil fuel-burning cars and trucks below. They could also see their classrooms. Tubman is just 50 feet away from I-5 and has a well-known history of bad air quality because of it.

The kids were there to support House Bill 2007, a proposal that would create stronger regulations for diesel emissions. But they were also a visible symbol of what’s at stake with the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway project.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland want to to expand the freeway so it — and the toxic driving it encourages — will be even closer to the lungs of these students. Despite their claims to the contrary, ODOT’s freeway expansion will lead to more drivers, more exhaust, and dirtier air. The plan is so harmful that the Portland Public School Board is vehemently opposed to it.

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“The potential impacts of the proposed project to Harriet Tubman Middle School are particularly troubling,” the School Board wrote in a letter outlining their demands for a more thorough environmental analysis.

The widening of the freeway would also require that ODOT demolish and remove the bridge the students stood on — a move even the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s own Bicycle Advisory Committee said is a bad idea. “The removal of the Flint Ave crossing… would have a negative impact on bicycle travel that cannot be replaced by any of the facilities proposed in the Build alternative,” the BAC wrote in their letter opposing the project. Currently about 3,000 people ride bicycles over the Flint Ave Bridge every day.

These Tubman students deserve better. We’re grateful for their courage in speaking out and we hope our local elected leaders take heed.

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

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Padelford: Let’s build a better bike movement

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 09:43

EDITOR’S NOTE: With Mayor Jenny Durkan delaying or cancelling so many bike route plans, Gordon Padelford and I had a conversation wondering how the movement for safe streets and better bike routes should evolve from here. Padelford, Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, then reached out with this open letter to people who bike in the Seattle area community. 

Feeling this: "We come today to mourn the loss of the Bicycle Master Plan, Vision Zero, the Seattle Climate Action Plan, & the Complete Streets Ordinance—& we look to you @SeattleCouncil for guidance, and advising @MayorJenny, the Mayor's office, & @seattledot to bring them back! pic.twitter.com/Ou2JHdsxeG

— Seattle Greenways (@SNGreenways) April 8, 2019

Video: Apu Mishra and Tamara Schmautz shredding Seattle’s Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy, and Vision Zero Plan, symbolizing the disregard the mayor places on these plans and goals.

Dear Seattle bike movement,

Apu and Tamara’s symbolic shredding of the city’s climate and transportation plans represents what a lot of us have been feeling: What good are plans if the mayor turns around and ignores them when the going gets tough? We have all learned the hard way from the cancellation of long-planned bike lanes on 35th Ave NE and N 40th St that political pressure matters most in this mayor’s decision making — more than our city’s shared values and goals for health, safety, climate, fiscal responsibility, and accessibility.

So, what should the bike movement do in an era when raw politics matters most? By “the bike movement,” I mean the people and organizations who care about making our city a great place for everyone of all ages, abilities, walks of life, and backgrounds to cycle for their everyday needs.

Let’s build a bigger and better bike movement that is politically powerful enough to hold our elected leaders to Seattle’s values and goals, especially when there are loud voices trying to drag them back towards a 1950s vision for our streets. Let’s deepen and broaden our relationships and the base of people involved, and recognize that the “bike movement” is only one piece of a much larger effort — advocacy for housing, affordability, transit, disability rights, climate, community-building, walking, safety, police reform, public health, and more — to make a better city for everybody. And let’s redouble our efforts to out-organize and out-mobilize those who would oppose basic safety changes to our streets.

Where We’ve Been

We should start by recognizing that the bike movement has already come a long way — even just since 2011 when Seattle Neighborhood Greenways got started. Back in 2007, a family biker who wanted protected bike lanes for her kids felt so unwelcome by the bike movement that she quit the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board, but now, in a sign of the times, this board is led by two dynamite women who focus on equity and an inclusive movement. (EDITOR: This paragraph edited and a link added for clarity.)

Meanwhile, the leadership of Cascade Bicycle Club, at the time, laughed at people wanting to host slow rides for people new to cycling rather than athletic training rides, but now Cascade and others offer a variety of classes and rides for people who are just beginning to bike for everyday needs. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) was building a bike network of sharrows, mainly serving people who were comfortable riding in fast traffic; today, we have a Bicycle Master Plan that focuses on reaching the 60% of people who would like to bike more but don’t feel that it is comfortable, safe, and convenient yet.

Tonya Ricks Sterr with her family bike and child.

The movement toward all-ages-and-abilities cycling was helped along by the formation of Totcycle, FamilyBike Seattle, and Kidical Mass, people-powered efforts that helped make Seattle a more welcoming space for parents and their kids to cycle.

As for our part, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways was founded to help the bicycle movement evolve, and did so by focusing on people and their everyday needs. We brought three critical ingredients to the movement: grassroots neighborhood organizing, pushing safety to the forefront of the conversation, and recognizing the importance of walking as well as biking in building a city that works better for everyone.

Deepening and broadening the movement

We are being held back by the perception that the only people who bike, and want to bike, present like me — young, white, male, cisgender, and wealthy. Ironically, the truth is that people of color are more likely to bike than white people, and people who have low incomes are much more likely to bike than rich people (see references at the end of this piece). And yet, the people showing up to advocate for safe streets don’t always reflect this. We can and should do more to lift up and amplify the voices of the young, old, families, women, people of color, queer, disabled, and low-income individuals. Toward this goal, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has recently completed a Racial Equity Action Plan and Strategic Plan, with significant commitments about how we operate both internally and with collaborators. What underlies these and other commitments is what Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ work has been about from the very beginning — caring deeply about people.

Here are our top recommendations (and SNG-wide commitments) for building a bigger tent:

  1. Strong Relationships: Let’s show solidarity, build relationships, and work collectively with parallel and interconnected movements, particularly those movements that work toward inclusion of under-represented communities in transportation advocacy. In particular, we should build authentic and trust-based relationships with organizations and informal groups that create welcoming spaces in the movement like Black Girls Do Bike, Brake the Cycle, Outdoors For All, Rooted in Rights, Kidical Mass, Friends with Bikes, WTF Bike Explorers, Senior Ladies on Wheels, and Seattle Family Biking. Through these relationships, the movement must become more responsive to the complexity of people’s lived experience and recognize that solutions that work for some communities might be less effective or even counterproductive for others (like police enforcement in communities of color).
  2. New Leaders: Let’s build a better talent pipeline for people of color and other under-represented groups in leadership roles in our movement.
  3. Multi-issue Alliances: Let’s build more strong multi-issue alliances and campaigns like the Move All Seattle Sustainably Coalition and the Community Package Coalition in recognition that people don’t live single-issue lives, and that we are strongest when pushing for a unified vision of the city we all want to live in. One part of this is doing a better job talking about cycling in the broader context of why it matters to the values and needs of people who don’t bike, so that everyone can share a piece of the vision.

Building a big tent is not just the right thing to do, it also builds our people power.

Three hopeful stories

I want to tell you three stories of how Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ neighborhood chapters are focusing on people power to win real improvements for their communities.

1) Bikes Mean Businesses:

While we know that empirically (see further reading) bikes are good for businesses in terms of sales and talent recruitment and retention, when working with Seattle’s small business districts what matters most is listening and building relationships, as SNG’s local chapter Central Seattle Greenways (“CSG”) has shown. CSG teamed up with the Capitol Hill Community Council, Capitol Hill Housing’s EcoDistrict and Renters Initiative, and other community groups to do door-to-door outreach along the Pike/Pine corridor. Volunteers fanned out across the hill and talked with business owners and employees to listen and learn what their issues and ideas around traffic safety were. This was followed up by a community design workshop where 150 people talked with their fellow neighbors about what they needed out of a redesigned Pike/Pine. Thanks to their efforts, the temporary Pike/Pine protected bike lanes installed later this year will better meet the needs of neighboring businesses while providing safety for people biking..

The community-led Pike/Pine workshop.

2) Biking For Basic Necessities:

When working in communities of color, Seattle Neighborhood Greenway strives to partner with community members and organizations, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in Seattle’s main Latinx neighborhood of South Park. In conjunction with the Seattle Parks Foundation and SNG chapter Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, we are contracting with Rocio Arriaga, a leader of the South Park Retail Merchants Association, who also runs a business focused on transforming lives of people through hands-on education. As she says, “South Park is a neighborhood with a lot of ill people because of pollution. It is a small neighborhood with a lot of needs but working together we can make our environment and spaces safe to live. With this project of A Safe & Healthy Route to Connect Communities & Commerce in Duwamish Valley, more people can cover their needs of transportation, exercise and work between neighborhoods feeling safe to do it.”

Through this partnership, she hired Spanish-speaking youth to talk to their neighbors about their transportation needs and to get input on the Georgetown to South Park Trail idea. This outreach and the trail itself are laser-focused on the basic necessities of people in the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods, because each neighborhood has basic services that the other lacks (a grocery story, library, community center, bank, playfield, health clinics, etc.).

The youth outreach team showing off some of the surveys they conducted.

3) Building a Bike Network Neighbor by Neighbor:

The most glaring omission from the Mayor’s bike plan is lack of a single useful north-south bike route for Southeast Seattle. Beacon Hill Safe Streets, another SNG chapter, is canvassing the neighborhood to listen to what residents believe would make the spine of Beacon Hill (12th-15th-Beacon Ave) safer, more comfortable, and convenient for people walking, biking, strolling, jogging, etc. These neighbor-to-neighbor conversations help make sure any plan developed will best reflect the needs of the community, build momentum for the route, and identify supporters who are willing to advocate to complete this critical route.

The author with Mike (an interested neighbor) and volunteers Margaret and Sean

For those of you who may wonder if this kind of slow, person-to-person community-organizing is really effective for growing political power, the answer is yes — definitely. It’s critical not only to building community support for key projects, but it also helps build a base of people who can show up to testify, write letters, tell compelling stories, and put pressure on on our elected officials to do the right thing. It demonstrates that there are a large number of people who are so passionate about this issue that they are willing to spend their time talking person-to-person about why this is important —  a clear signal to politicians who are always hungry for volunteers to help knock on doors.

Get involved: This is your movement A Final Thought

Change in Seattle often feels painfully slow and incremental — especially when the challenges our city face around climate, affordability, and safety are so big and urgent. Other cities like, London, New York, Calgary, Paris, D.C., Chicago, and Vancouver are showing that it’s possible to quickly make transformational changes. We can, and should, demand bold leadership that makes our city into the sustainable, thriving, and equitable place we all want it to be. And I hope you will stay engaged and energized for the long haul, because we all need each other if we are going to build up enough muscle to make that big leap.

Thank you,

-Gordon Padelford

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

Further reading:
  1. http://peopleforbikes.org/blog/assumption-busters-surprising-facts-about-ethnicity-race-income-bicycles/
  2. https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NACTO_Designing-for-All-Ages-Abilities.pdf
  3. http://betterbikeshare.org/2017/03/10/silent-barriers-bicycling-part-iv-infrastructure-black-latino-neighborhoods/
  4. https://peopleforbikes.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/EquityReport2015.pdf
  5. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/publications/Good-for-business.pdf
  6. https://www.citylab.com/solutions/2015/03/the-complete-business-case-for-converting-street-parking-into-bike-lanes/387595/
  7. https://www.fastcompany.com/3024974/bikes-lanes-arent-just-safer-for-cyclists-theyre-good-for-business-too

300 people turned out for the annual Kidical Mass Easter Ride!

Bike Portland - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 08:41

Kidical Mass PDX Co-director Sara Cowling Davidson prepares to lead the ride.
Photos: Madi Carlson

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

With the Easter bunny hopping onto the scene so has arrived biking season! Like myself, you may feel that biking season never closed to begin with, but I still like celebrating the first big Kidical Mass PDX kids-of-all-ages family bike ride of the year on Easter. Also, with Pedalpalooza rides appearing hourly and Sunday Parkways details filtering in, bikey things really are picking up all of a sudden.

Our “season opener” was the biggest one yet with about 300 participants. We enjoyed cool but dry weather and had a wonderful egg hunt at the end. We even made the local TV news! Scroll down for some fun photos and the video coverage from KOIN…

Kidical Mass taking the lane by Dog Bowl for our three-mile ride.

Bike helmets make terrific Easter egg baskets.

No need for an Easter bunny when you’ve got an Easter pug. Hi Rando!

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BikePortland subscriber and Gorge Pedal organizer A J Zelada shared these wonderful photos with me:

If you’d like to join the next Kidical Mass PDX ride, it will be Sunday, May 12th (Mother’s Day) at 10am starting at Sewallcrest Park to celebrate CycloFemme, a global event to “Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, Empower the Future of Women in Cycling.”

That’s for reading!

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

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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Trail Alert: Chief Sealth Trail detour at S Graham St

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 04/23/2019 - 08:00

The Chief Sealth Trail will be detoured for about two blocks along S Graham St and 31st Ave S starting today (April 22) and lasting up to one month.

The closure is for a project to make crossing improvements where the trail route crosses Graham, so that’s the good news. The bad news is that we confirmed with the project team there will be no temporary bike lane or trail for users on S Graham Street during this work.

More details from SDOT:

To complete the work safely and efficiently, we will close 30th Ave S on the south side of S Graham St as soon as Tuesday, April 23 for up to 1 month. To maintain access to the Chief Sealth Trail, we will place a detour for people walking and biking along 31st Ave NE for up to 1 month. This is shown on the attached detour map.

Those biking and walking northbound along the Chief Sealth Trail will join 31st Ave NE and proceed north to S Graham St, where they will cross to the north side. They will then continue westbound to 30th Ave S, where they will head north to connect to Chief Sealth Trail. Similarly, those biking and walking southbound will head south on 30th Ave S to S Graham St, where they will head east to 31st Ave S and then cross S Graham St heading south. They will continue along 31st Ave S to the connection to Chief Sealth Trail at just before S Morgan St.

Spring Break and Wrap Up: Sea Otter Classic

Bike Hugger - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 20:29

In such a rush to get out of town for Spring Break I forgot to set an out of office for the site or schedule any posts…once back next week I’ll have plenty to share. For now, please watch this video Wrap Up: Sea Otter Classic from Troy Lee.

2019 recap of Sea Otter Classic featuring Steve Peat, Cam Zink, Luca Shaw, Mitch Ropelato, Kialani Hines, Leigh Donovan, Kyle Strait, Rachel Strait, Caroline Washam, Lucas Cruz, the TLD groms and of course Troy Lee!

Sea Otter is great event and this video demonstrates that. Be back soon.

The post Spring Break and Wrap Up: Sea Otter Classic appeared first on Bike Hugger.

‘No More Deaths’ rally planned following recent fatality

Bike Portland - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 12:29

A woman was killed on Friday afternoon while walking across NE Broadway. Local advocates have now planned a memorial event to highlight the inherent dangers at this section of Broadway and encourage the City of Portland to do more to mitigate them.

“I hope that this memorial will seriously open the eyes of the people who need to fix this.”
— Victim’s daughter (via Facebook)

“We are devastated to hear about this tragedy and frustrated that this street is so dangerous for people that walk and cycle. We are coming together on Wednesday April 24 at 5:30PM to honor her memory,” reads a statement about the event from BikeLoudPDX, a grassroots, all-volunteer group that responded to collisions on SE Division Street in 2016 by installing hay bales to tame fast drivers.

The plan is to meet at the intersection on NE Broadway and Grand at 5:30 pm this Wednesday evening. There will be a moment of silence at 6:00 pm and then a group bike ride to City Hall.

Here’s more from BikeLoudPDX:

“As a city we uphold values that no one should die on our streets. In 2016 city council approved a Vision Zero resolution to eliminate traffic deaths by 2025, but we are already falling short of this goal. This is the 17th death on our streets this year.

NE Broadway ranks as the most dangerous corridor for biking and fifth for walking. 4 other people have been injured crossing this intersection since 2007.

Redoing this section of Broadway is part of planned safety updates in Central City in Motion, which was passed unanimously by City Council in November 2018. This project is on the 1-5 year implementation plan but there is no date scheduled for when any changes might come to this corridor.”

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BikeLoudPDX says there are several things that could be done quickly to make this street safer. They want a protected left turn sign from Grand to Broadway, a temporary narrowing of the street with construction materials, a protected bike lane, and a “leading pedestrian interval” (LPI, where walkers get green while drivers see red).

The Street Trust and Oregon Walks are also supportive of this event and are helping out.

The victim’s daughter is aware of the event and fully supportive. “Seeing someone bring a memorial together like this touches me so deeply,” she shared on the event’s Facebook page. “I hope that this memorial will seriously open the eyes of the people who need to fix this.”

As we reported over the weekend, an eyewitness to Friday’s fatal collision said the woman had the right-of-way prior to being run over by a “huge delivery truck” that was turning left, “and they didn’t even slow down.”

According to our fatality tracker, this was the 16th fatal traffic collision of 2019. There was yet another one yesterday, bringing the total to 17. That puts us five fatalities over our year-to-date total from 2018.

Get more details on Wednesday’s event on the BikePortland Calendar or Facebook.

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

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West Seattle community group responds to bike plan cuts + Cascade, SNG outline their priorities

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 10:59

Bike plan map modified by West Seattle Bike Connections.

Neighborhoods all over Seattle have been hit hard by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed bike plan cuts. And as is depressingly typical, West Seattle got hit especially hard. They already had lackluster improvements in the previous version of the bike plan, but the latest version cuts the remaining big improvements, like vital Fauntleroy Way and Roxbury St bike lanes.

West Seattle Bike Connections, the same community group that did amazing work to help their neighbors get around by bike during the Viaduct shutdown earlier this year, is sounding the alarm about the cuts to improvements their neighborhood needs to keep people safe and encourage more people to get around by bike.

From WSBC:

We need safe bike routes on East Marginal, Avalon, Fauntleroy, Delridge, Sylvan/Orchard/Dumar and Roxbury.

Let’s tell SDOT to stop backpedaling. We voted for, we are paying for, and we all need safe streets now. Essential for safety, connectivity, equity, and for Seattle to meet it’s Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero goals.

Unable to attend a meeting? Send comments to CCBike@Seattle.gov by April 30, 2019.

The Mayor didn’t like what she heard from the Bicycle Advisory Board (“find funds and build it”) or what she heard from the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee (“find funds and build it”), so now she and SDOT are side-stepping the process mandated by City Council, hoping to get the answer they want from the rest of us. Please let them know how you feel.

You can attend an upcoming SDOT open house to push back against the proposed cuts:

6:00PM Doors open
6:15PM Short presentation
6:30PM Conversations

  • Tuesday, April 23
    Washington Hall
    153 14th Ave
  • Wednesday, April 24
    Youngstown Cultural Arts Center
    4408 Delridge Way SW
  • Monday, April 29
    Van Asselt Community Center
    2820 S Myrtle St
  • Tuesday, April 30
    Phinney Neighborhood Assoc.
    Community Hall
    6532 Phinney Ave N

Cascade Bicycle Club is also trying to turn out people at these open houses, and they have a list of priorities they want to see protected or restored:

From Cascade’s Vicky Clarke:

The plan is a decision point between incrementalism and acting with urgency.

Do we invest in a few key, and – let’s be real – challenging projects between now and 2024, to create meaningful connectivity around new light rail stations and along key corridors where people already bike in high numbers, despite dangerous conditions? We say yes. Add your voice at an upcoming open house.

Another decision: should half the city remain disconnected by bike from nearby neighborhoods, downtown and the rest of the city, and without meaningful places to safely and comfortably travel by bike. We say no. We need to fund – as one of the highest priorities – a South East Seattle connection on Beacon Ave S. Stand with us this month.

Don’t get us wrong; it’s not all bad. This draft plan gets some of the bike network right – like completing the Burke Gilman Missing Link, advancing almost all of the Basic Bike Network on an accelerated timeline (read that again!!), keeping on track a handful of important projects across the city – from Eastlake, to East Marginal Way, to Delridge. But we need to go further. And if the city is willing to seek grant funding – a promise to voters that underpinned the goals of the Move Seattle Levy – we absolutely can go farther towards a city where biking is a viable option for all – not just the bravest of souls. Adding a handful of projects will connect Seattle by bike.

UPDATE: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways posted their priorities, as well:

  • A convenient, safe connection for SE Seattle. The viable options are, in order of preference, Rainier Ave S, Martin Luther King Jr Way S, and/or Beacon Ave S. A spine along Beacon Hill connecting from Yesler to Way to Kenyon St on 12th Ave S, 15th Ave S, and Beacon Ave S may be the most viable option.
  • Safe Routes to SODO Jobs. Connect the SODO Trail to Georgetown and jobs along the way, and close the Duwamish Trail gap to connect to the Duwamish Longhouse.
  • Safe Routes to Transit. For Sound Transit stations opening in 2021 and 2024, this plan will make or break their accessibility and usability. Connect Central District to link via MLK, Admiral to the C-Line via 42nd Ave SW & Fauntleroy, and the Little Brook and north Bitter Lake neighborhoods to the new light rail stations.

Here’s why I think we should change stop sign laws for bicycle users

Bike Portland - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 09:32

KATU’s Steve Dunn and I in an interview that aired over the weekend. Watch video below.

Bicycles and cars are vastly different types of vehicles and our laws should do more to reflect that.

That’s just one of many reasons I strongly support Senate Bill 998 currently working its way through the Oregon Legislature. The bill would allow bicycle users to treat stop signs and flashing red signals as yield signs (also known as “Idaho Stop” for a similar law on the books in Idaho for over 30 years). In other words, you’d only have to come to a complete when it was necessary due to oncoming traffic or some other safety-related condition. The law does not allow dangerous behavior and specifically requires bicycle users to slow to a “safe speed.”

As per usual, this reasonable concept causes many people to freak out. I went on local TV to try and calm some nerves and explain why I support the bill.

This is the third time the idea has come up in Oregon and it feels like there is less freaking out this time around. But with Americans’ deeply embedded sense of driving privilege and related bias against bicycle riders — and a media culture that loves stoking us/them divisions — you can never be sure.

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Last week I was invited to the studio of our local ABC-TV affiliate (KATU) to talk about this on their Your Voice, Your Vote public interest show with longtime news anchor Steve Dunn. Just like I did in 2012 when someone wanted to make licenses for cycling mandatory and after Oregon passed a $15 bike tax, I happily accepted the invitation.

In my experience we have much healthier conversations about these sensitive topics the more we get beyond the sensationalism, soundbites, and shouting matches. It would have been nice to debate someone with an opposing viewpoint; but KATU wasn’t able to find anyone who was against the bill and willing to show up. Thankfully, Steve Dunn did a great job asking questions and I think it was a helpful conversation.

Watch the video below and tell me what you think:

As for SB 998, it passed its Senate committee 6-1 and now awaits a committee assignment and vote on the House side. If you support the bill, please contact your representative — especially if your rep is on the House Judiciary committee.

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

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The Monday Roundup: A thief’s remorse, sorrow in DC, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 08:44

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic, coming to beautiful Waldport on May 4th.

I hope all your weekend dreams came true! Judging by the photos I’ve seen it looks like the spring weather was loved by all.

Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

He fought against what killed him: Our friends who fight for bike safety in Washington DC are reeling after fellow advocate Dave Salovesh was hit and killed by a reckless driver on an unsafe street.

Biking, the wonder drug: A Specialized-funded brain research study is showing how cycling helps kids focus and improves their brain muscle.

A more inclusive cycling scene: Ayesha McGowan (@AyeSuppose on Twitter) is a racer, but she is quickly gaining attention for her work in giving voice to people of color by calling out the bike industry’s blindspots.

“Unsafe Uber? Lethal Lyft?”: City Observatory wants researchers to dig a bit deeper in efforts to show a correlation between increased crash rates and more people using ride-hailing services.

A bike thief’s remorse: Crazy story from California where a repeat bike thief tried to return a high-end road bike to the shop he stole it from.

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Camera enforcement: The State of Washington has one-upped Oregon with a law proposal that would allow Seattle to use cameras to issue citations to people who block crosswalks and bus lanes with their cars.

Find rides: National nonprofit People for Bikes has launched a new app called “Ride Spot” that aims to help you find great routes.

Greenlight for Idaho Stop: Legal expert Rick Bernardi explains why it’s time to mainstream the Idaho Stop.

Climate emergency: The City of Vancouver BC wants to take action against climate change with a series of big policy proposals — several of which are directly related to getting people out of cars and onto bikes and transit.

Scooting drunk: If we figure out how to detect drunk scooter riders before drunk car drivers I am going to be pissed.

Cars kill: Forbes has a breakdown of how to deal with the global pandemic of road traffic deaths, which are now the top killer of people aged 5 to 29.

How low can they go?: Bike Snob has thoughts to share about why some Americans are so anti-bike they don’t even make sense.

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

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Seattle’s bike share stands out as companies shift to scooters elsewhere

Seattle Bike Blog - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:16

Map from the NACTO report “Shared Micromobility in the U.S.: 2018” (PDF)

Just 21 months ago, Seattle turned American bike share on its head by permitting companies to launch free-floating bikes all over town, an effort that dramatically increased the number of bike trips all over town, turned heads in city halls across the country and helped demonstrate the popularity of so-called “micromobilty” companies, some of which are now valued in the billions of dollars.

Since Spin and Lime (née LimeBike) launched in summer 2017 the industry has pivoted and changed many times over:

  • It started with pedal bikes from U.S.-based companies.
  • Then Beijing-based ofo arrived, charging only $1 per hour.
  • Then electric scooters arrived in other cities, with per-minute fees.
  • Then electric bikes arrived alongside pedal bikes, also with per-minute fees.
  • Then Uber bought JUMP and Lyft bought Motivate.
  • Then Lime added car share to its bike and scooter fleets.
  • Then ofo imploded.
  • Then pedal bikes were completely replaced by electric bikes and scooters.
  • Now, in most cities, bikes are disappearing altogether because scooters get so many more uses per day than bikes.

But Seattle is a notable exception to this final trend, due mostly to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s continued resistance to allowing scooters. An early free-floating bike success story, Lime and JUMP are still working to compete here for the bike share market. Lyft is supposed to join the fray at some point, too, though there has been little news about their efforts.

And according to a recent report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (“NACTO”), of which Seattle is a member, Seattle now stands out as an oddball in the country, and report authors essentially had to create a separate category just for Seattle. While other cities have sort of stratified into scooter cities and cities with dock-based bike share, Seattle is the only city noted as having only dockless bikes. At this point, Seattle is home to a huge percentage of all trips taken on dockless bikes in the country.

The report notes that 84 million trips have been taken on “shared micromobility” services in the nation, with the bulk split between the small handful of large docked systems and new scooter services:

The report also confirms something Seattle’s Pronto Cycle Share learned the hard way: The worst-performing systems are dock-based bike share systems that do not have enough bikes and stations. But large dock-based systems, especially New York’s Citibike, continue to grow. And in cities that don’t have large, established docked bike share systems (so, most cities), scooters boomed in 2018.

Pronto had 500 bikes, and struggled to get to 1 ride per bike per day, matching experiences in other cities.

Though this blog has been critical of the mayor’s stance on scooters in the past, I wonder if this will turn out to be a good thing (though not because scooters are too dangerous as she has suggested). We still have great bike share service today while other cities are losing bikes to scooters, a mobility tool that is popular but still unproven as a longterm success.

I was initially excited to hear about the popularity of scooters, and I liked the idea of them existing alongside bikes as part of an array of options people can choose from to get around without a car. But I must admit that the shift away from bikes at Lime, Spin and several other companies strikes me as possibly short-sighted. I get that these are for-profit companies, so focusing on more profitable scooters makes immediate business sense. But bikes have been around longer than cars, and they are a tried and true vehicle for getting around cities. The shared scooters might remain more popular than bikes, or they might be a fad. We just don’t know yet. Bikes don’t have the added appeal of being novel, but they definitely are not a fad.

Personally, I feel much more secure on a bike share bike than a scooter, but that is most likely just my personal preference as someone who is used to biking everywhere. Use in other cities suggests more people prefer the scooters.

While I would love to see Seattle add scooters as an option, I am happy that Seattle still has bike share. After Pronto’s demise, there is likely very little political will to invest public funding in a Citibike-scale docked bike system. So if the choice is bikes or scooters (rather than both), then I’d rather Seattle have bikes and remain the exception to the national trends. If nothing else, it seems potentially valuable to these companies to have Seattle’s bikes as a hedge on their bigger scooter bet. Continue experimenting here, trying to see how to grow bike share use. I’m certain the 2018 hard pivot to scooters is not the last pivot we’ll see from this industry.

Police investigate fatal collision at NE Broadway and Grand

Bike Portland - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 14:08

NE Grand northbound at Broadway.

NOTE: Please see updates at end of this story. It was originally reported as a bicycle fatality; but we have since confirmed that the woman killed was walking prior to being hit.

Portland Police say someone has been hit and killed in the area of NE Grand Avenue and Broadway.

We don’t have any details at this time other than the victim is a woman.

From a photo of the scene provided by reader Tom Cooney, the woman’s body came to rest on Broadway between Grand and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. This is a very unsafe place for vulnerable road users. The road design and land-use pattern at this location strongly prioritizes driving above everything else. Broadway is one-way (westbound) and has five lanes for drivers (four through lanes, one parking lane). There’s a narrow, unprotected bike lane on the right curb. On the block prior to Grand the bike lane moves away from the curb to allow for drivers to turn right (north).

This past November, City Council passed the Central City in Motion Plan. Project #18 — which is among the high priority projects slated for construction within 1-5 years — would create a protected bike lane on this section of NE Broadway.

PBOT rendering of Central City in Motion plan that would improve biking facility at same location where this woman was killed.

By our tally, this is the 16th fatal traffic collision so far this year and the ninth involving a person on foot.

If you have any information about this collision, please get in touch. We’ll update this post as we know more.

UPDATE, 4/19 at 10:45pm: I’ve heard from a woman who was at the scene. Here’s what she saw:

“She was crossing Broadway holding her groceries, I know she had the right of way because I was also about to cross the road. A huge delivery truck was turning left, northbound from Grand onto Broadway and they didn’t even slow down. They hit her, she fell to the ground and they ran over her body with the front and back tires. I was 10 feet from her and I cannot get it out of my head.

The passenger of the truck yelled out something to her along the lines of “What the hell lady?!” before he realized what had happened and a man who was walking behind me (and ended up running to help her) yelled back to tell him.”

Based on this eyewitness account, below is a diagram showing the movements of the truck driver (red arrow) and the walker (green arrow).

(Note: This is an estimation and is not intended to show exact location of vehicle.)

KGW TV’s Mike Benner snapped this photo of the large delivery truck that was driven into the woman:

Portland Police have not issued any further information. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12:58 pm, 4/20: PPB have issued an update:

The investigation is continuing into yesterday’s fatal traffic crash. It appears a commercial delivery truck was on Northeast Grand Avenue turning westbound onto Northeast Broadway Street when the truck collided with a pedestrian. That pedestrian, a female in her fifties, died as a result of her injuries.

The driver of the truck remained at the scene and was cooperative. Speed and alcohol do not appear to have been a factor in this collision.

The Forensic Evidence Division and the Multnomah County Medical Examiner also responded to the scene. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office was consulted during this investigation as well.

If anyone has information relating to this crash, they are asked to contact Investigator Dave Enz at 503-823-2208.

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

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PBOT wants diverters on N Michigan to reduce crashes and cut-through drivers

Bike Portland - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 12:13

PBOT sketch of diverters proposed for North Michigan at Skidmore.

The rising number of people using cars on our neighborhood streets has many negative impacts. Among them are more crashes caused by people who make dangerous moves out of frustration, selfishness, impatience, or all of the above. One way to combat this is to constrain the driving environment so people have fewer choices and are forced to make safer movements.

And that’s exactly what the Portland Bureau of Transportation wants to do on North Michigan Avenue at Skidmore.

Like many neighborhood greenways throughout Portland during peak hours, Michigan is no longer “low-stress and family friendly” during.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Residential development has skyrocketed in recent years in the Boise and Humboldt neighborhoods around the lower North Mississippi and Interstate avenue corridors. North Michigan runs north-south and despite its designation as a “low-stress, family-friendly” neighborhood greenway, many people use it as a cut-through to avoid backups on Interstate 5 (one block over). When these north-south cut-through drivers mix with east-west drivers backed up at the N Skidmore/Mississippi intersection (one block east), bad things happen. It creates dangerous conditions for people on foot, and for those using cars and bikes.

After hearing about this project from the Boise Neighborhood Newsletter earlier this week, I asked PBOT for some background.

PBOT staff confirmed with me in a phone interview today that someone noticed this problem and took the time to call it into PBOT’s traffic safety hotline (a.k.a. 823-SAFE). PBOT investigated to determine if any follow-up was needed. In this case, PBOT Project Manager Scott Cohen says city traffic engineers took a closer look at the intersection and found 11 crashes in the past four years, including six in 2016 (the latest year data is available). “It’s a growing problem,” Cohen said.

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Existing conditions.

The collisions happen when people are backed up on Skidmore and there’s limited visibility for north and southbound road users on North Michigan. People inch out into Skidmore, and then dart across, resulting in what PBOT calls, “angle crashes”. “To address that situation, our engineers want to get people to not continue across Skidmore,” Cohen said.

“We acknowledge there’s more traffic on Michigan than we think is ideal for a neighborhood greenway.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

As you can see in the lead graphic, PBOT’s solution is to install diverters (with plastic poles and paint) that will prohibit auto users from crossing Michigan and force them to turn right onto Skidmore.

While the impetus for this project was to reduce crashes, it will also reduce the amount of drivers on Michigan.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said today, “We acknowledge there’s more traffic on Michigan than we think is ideal for a neighborhood greenway.”

Rivera and Cohen said PBOT wants to take a more comprehensive look at the entire Michigan corridor to find ways to limit auto use and create a low-stress cycling environment.

If you want to learn more about this project, or share your feedback with Scott Cohen, he’ll be at the Boise Neighborhood Association Land Use & Transportation meeting on Monday (4/22) at Q Center (4115 N Mississippi Ave) from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

(In related news, Cohen said the construction of concrete curbs for the unprotected bike lanes on North Rosa Parks Way should be completed this summer.)

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

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Project will reduce driving space, add safer bikeways and crossings to SE 162nd Avenue

Bike Portland - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:12

There’s no good reason a road through a residential neighborhood should be this wide.

Here’s something new: the Portland Bureau of Transportation is set to invest $1.6 million on an arterial in east Portland before it gets on their list of high crash streets.

The 162nd Avenue Safe Access to Transit project aims to tame a 1.6 mile section of the road between SE Powell Blvd and SE Alder St. The project will reconfigure lanes, reduce driving space from five lanes to three, shorten crossing distances with concrete medians, paint new crosswalks, improve transit stops, build new sidewalks, enhance street lighting, and add cycling-only lanes.

Proposed changes to SE Tibbets intersection.
(Click to enlarge)

Specifically, safer crossings with median islands and marked crosswalks are coming to the intersections of 162nd and Mill, Lincoln, and Tibbets (see graphic). New sidewalks are coming to the east side of 162nd just north of Taylor Street and on the north side of Main Street (just west of 162nd).

Currently, the average distance between marked crossings on this stretch of 162nd is 2,900 feet — that’s about 3.5 times more than 800-foot minimum spacing guideline recently adopted in PBOT’s Citywide Pedestrian Plan

As the name suggests, this project was triggered by a new bus line added by TriMet last year. Line 74 opened in March 2018 with service every half-hour between Powell and Airport Way, opening up a vital north-south mobility option. Nearly half the funding ($700,000) for changes needed to make it safer for people to get to the bus are coming from TriMet. (The remaining $900,000 came from the State of Oregon through the Keep Oregon Moving program.)

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“Right now it isn’t a high crash corridor. The purpose of this project is to make sure it doesn’t become one.”
— Kem Marks, Rosewood Initiative

Kem Marks is the Director of Transportation Equity at Rosewood Initiative, a, “place-based nonprofit that supports community-driven solutions for a healthier neighborhood.” He shared with us via email this morning why this project is so important. Beyond the planned safety upgrades, Marks said, “I see it as PBOT being proactive. Right now it isn’t a high crash corridor. The purpose of this project is to make sure it doesn’t become one.”

While it isn’t on PBOT’s naughty list yet, things are far from hunky-dory. Between 2007 and 2016, 11 people were injured while walking, 5 people were injured while biking, 8 people were seriously injured while in a motor vehicle, and 1 person died in a motor vehicle on this stretch of 162nd.

Marks sees more population growth in the area’s future and he fears without this project there will be more injuries and deaths.

How has the neighborhood reacted to plans to reduce driving lanes? Marks says he expects some pushback as the public outreach phase of the project kicks into high gear. “People who have lived here for decades and don’t like change are generally not going to be happy at first.” But Marks is confident the plans will be carried out as proposed because he and other community organizers have been hard at work for years laying a foundation of support to give PBOT confidence to carry them through.

Adding to the benefit of this project is how it will eventually connect to PBOT’s East Glisan Street Update project, which will include a similar road diet and bike/walk upgrades between I-205 and 162nd. (Stay tuned for an update on that and more east Portland news in the days to come.)

If you want to help ensure this project becomes a reality, and/or help make it even better, attend the open house on Monday, April 29th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at The Rosewood Initiative (16126 SE Stark Street). Child care and Spanish translation services will be provided.

PBOT expects to build this project in summer or fall of next year. Learn more at the project website.

For added context, see the before-and-after animation below I put together using PBOT graphics…

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

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Route Advisory: Bridge repairs will close Springwater in two locations

Bike Portland - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 07:57

Closures start in mid-May.
(Photo: Portland Parks & Recreation)

Portland Parks & Recreation is teeing up two projects that will lead to closures of separate sections of the Springwater Corridor path starting in the middle of May.

The closures will be between SE 45th and 55th and between Circle Avenue and 174th.

Below is the information on each project and the official detour map.

SE 45th Avenue – Bridge Replacement

Bridge #48 located near the Johnson Creek Boulevard trailhead at SE 45th Avenue and Johnson Creek Boulevard will be replaced. It is the original wooden trestle bridge from the Springwater Division Line rail developed in the early 1900s with footings in Johnson Creek. The new bridge will be constructed with steel and concrete, and its footings will allow for clearer passage of Johnson Creek, which will improve fish habitat and reduce debris accumulation. Construction is expected to start in mid-May 2019, with completion in November 2019.

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Circle Avenue – Bridge Decking Replacement

Bridge #140 spans 114 feet and crosses Johnson Creek near Circle Avenue. The western half of the bridge’s structure was replaced with steel in 2006 due to deterioration, and the timber decking was salvaged and reused. The decking has now reached the end of its service life and is presenting a hazardous condition to trail users. It is slippery, uneven, and has large gaps. The decking will be removed and replaced with asphalt. The handrail will be salvaged and reinstalled by the contractor. Construction is expected to start in mid-May 2019, with completion in six to eight weeks.

In other route news… Multnomah County has officially re-opened NW Newberry Road to all users following the repair of a 2017 landslide. The County has also re-opened NW Rocky Point Road after it was closed by landslides in recent storms. Track all our advisories here.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Yamhill Fondo, Forest Park romp, Kidical Mass, and more

Bike Portland - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 06:58

OMTM will head to Bacona Road Sunday.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

No more fakeouts: Spring has arrived. Yes we will have more showers here and there; but temps are set for high 60s/low 70s for at least the next week, so it’s time to ride bikes!

We’ve got a great line-up of suggestions this week. It’s our first gravel double-header of the year with amazing rides Saturday and Sunday. There’s a Spanish-only bike repair clinic, a BMX movie premiere, and more.

Have fun out there…

Friday, April 19th

BikeLoudPDX April Meeting – 6:00 pm at Rogue Ales and Spirits (SE)
NW In Motion, diverters, and more. There’s a full agenda to discuss! Come and get plugged-into the local bike and transportation reform scene. More info here.

ABC Latinx Mechanix – 7:00 pm en la Community Cycling Center (NE)
El grupo de defensa basado en Cully Anando en Bicicletas y Caminando organizará esta clínica gratuita de reparación de bicicletas para hispanohablantes. More info here.

Saturday, April 20th

Oregon XC-MTB Championships – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at Left Coast Cellars (Rickreall)
Coveted champion jerseys are up for grabs in what should be a perfect day for MTB racing. This year’s course is on a winery and the race proceeds will benefit the Oak Restoration Project. More info here.

Forest Park Ride – 10:00 am at Golden Pliers Bike Shop (N)
Expect a 24-mile adventure with an intermediate pace through Forest Park on mixed terrain (pavement and dirt roads). Note that organizers say this ride is reserved for women of color, trans and gender non-conforming people of color. More info here.

Yamhill Gravel Fondo – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in Yamhill
Everyone’s excited for this inaugural gravel event! Three routes to choose from (18-60 miles long) and some of the most beautiful unpaved roads in the region. More info here.

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Go Fast, Pull Up: The Jimmy Levan Story Film Premiere – 7:00 pm at Clinton St Theater (SE)
Portland BMX riders and fans will line up for the premiere of this ode to legendary rider, personality, and industry figure Jimmy Levan. More info here.

Sunday, April 21st

Dark Larch V3 – 9:00 am at Gresham Park & Ride (SE)
The time has come for OMTM’s excursion into the other-worldly, oft-hidden side of Larch Mountian in east Multnomah County. This unsupported group ride will test your skills, adventurous spirit, and your legs. More info here. Ride cancelled due to new logging activity on course. New plan is to do the OMTM Bacona Crossing route. Meet at Skyline Tavern parking lot at 9:00 am.

Kidical Mass Easter Ride – 11:00 am at Overlook Park (N)
If you’ve been on the fence about a family group ride, this is your big chance! Let Kidical Mass help you enjoy a safe and supportive ride from Overlook to Arbor Lodge Park for an egg hunt (helmets make great baskets) and free smiles. More info here.

Salvage Sunday at the CCC – 12:00 pm at Community Cycling Center
We just added this weekly event to our calendar. It’s a great way to get cheap parts and frames — whether you need them for a bike build, an art project, or? Take whatever you want for just 50-cents a pound! More info here.

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

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

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Biketown will be free on Earth Day (Monday, 4/22)

Bike Portland - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 06:12

Sun, smiles, and free Biketown? Heck yeah!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

What better way to mark Earth Day than to make bike share free?

This morning the City of Portland and their Biketown partners Lyft and Nike announced that this coming Monday April 22nd, they’ll give everyone a $10.00 credit to use the system.

“We’re making it easy for Portlanders to use bikeshare by giving riders their first hour free,” said Biketown GM Dorothy Mitchell in a statement. “While this Earth Day deal is good for $10 in credit, the impact we can collectively have on our planet is priceless.”

So far this year Biketown riders have completed nearly 65,000 trips, a good number of which very likely replaced driving trips and the awful, smelly, earth-killing fossil fuels that power them.

To get your $10.00 credit and one free hour of ride time, you’ll need to get the Biketown app and enter promo code EARTHDAY19.

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

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Here’s how we make southwest Portland better for biking and walking

Bike Portland - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 10:16

Marching orders.

If you care about making streets in southwest Portland better for biking and walking, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has just done you a huge favor.

Yesterday the bureau released the draft version of the Southwest in Motion (SWIM) plan. It’s an impressive, detailed, and easy-to-use blueprint for activism that should lead to projects on the ground in very short order (and help tee up larger projects in the future).

Modeled after similar planning documents for east and northwest Portland, the SWIM plan offers a prioritized list of projects, possible design treatments, and even identifies potential funding sources to actually get things built.

Below is a before-after of what we’ve got in southwest for biking and walking now and what PBOT has called for in this plan:

It doesn’t get as much attention as east Portland for how much it lags behind the central city in active transportation infrastructure, but if you’ve spent any time in southwest (like we did during our SW Portland Week coverage in 2015), its challenges and deficiencies for biking and walking are abundantly clear. A lack of continuous streets, hilly topography, and narrow roadways make mobility very daunting for anyone who’s not using a car.

According to U.S. Census data, 65% of southwest Portland residents drive alone to work. That’s 7 points higher than the citywide average. Another big difference from east Portland? Census tracts within the project area are also richer (median household income is $89,578 versus $61,118 citywide) and whiter (percent person of color is 15% versus 26.9% citywide).

With that bit of context, here’s why I’m excited about this plan…

Is it any good? And the “Falbo Factor”

“SWIM is a big step in the right direction.”
— Eric Wilhelm, Hillsdale resident

The PBOT project lead is one of their brightest new planners, Nick Falbo. Prior to being hired by PBOT, Falbo gained notoriety for creating protected intersections for bicycle users. While employed by Alta Planning + Design, Falbo created a nifty web tool that allowed us to experiment with Portland’s cycling mode share goal in an interesting new way.

While he’s still learning to balance the politics and public pressures that accompany groundbreaking new designs, this plan is a showcase of Falbo’s talents. I’ve seen a lot of PBOT plans over the years — and I often think they should do more building and less planning in general — but this SWIM draft is really great.

If you’re an independent activist, a neighborhood advocate, or a non-profit staffer, you now have an invaluable tool to push for changes. PBOT themselves makes this clear in the plan when they say, “Continued community advocacy for projects will be instrumental to the success of this plan… The project descriptions are designed to provide the critical information necessary for neighborhood advocacy of local priority projects. Effective advocacy with the bureau and with local elected officials will provide continued urgency to address the real infrastructure deficiencies of Southwest Portland.”

Eric Wilhelm is an active cycling activist, Hillsdale resident, and member of the Stakeholder Working Group. He wanted PBOT to go even further with road diets and transit priority lanes; but acknowledged in an email this morning that, Wilhelm feels that in addition to a focus on short-term implementation, the best part of the plan is how it tackles current gaps in the network. “We have so many places where the bike lane just ends on a street with fast and heavy traffic or there is no sidewalk to get to a transit stop,” he added.

What’s in it?

Coming soon to SW 45th.

The meat of the plan is a list of high-priority, short-term walking and biking projects. PBOT has separated them into “Top Tier” and “Second Tier”. The former are add-ons to existing routes and closing gaps, the latter are larger-scale projects that would expand the network and/or build connections to other major investments (like future SW Corridor light rail or Red Electric Trail).

PBOT has also highlighted key projects and innovative new design treatments (see below). These new designs are key because they remove excuses for PBOT to do nothing in the face of narrow streets or other challenging existing conditions.

The plan also outlines other city programs (like block parties, community plazas, and urban trails) that we can use as leverage to make changes happen.

My favorite part of the plan is when it looks into the future. PBOT points out that since 2010, almost all of the new work trips have been absorbed by modes other than driving. “Driving in Southwest has plateaued,” they write, “and the other travel options have picked up the slack.” There’s also a nifty chart that envisions that trend continuing into the future (below). The chart includes predictions that will impact transportation. In 2021, PBOT says, “Major innovations in electric micro-mobility technologies allows for wide-spread adoption. These new e-bikes allow a greater share of Southwest Portlanders to overcome barriers to cycling such as hilly terrain and longer distances.”

PBOT’s crystal ball

Design treatments

Advisory shoulders/bike lanes are common in Europe. PBOT wants to try them here.

PBOT has put some cool new treatments on the table in this plan.

Advisory shoulders (a.k.a. advisory bike lanes) have been talked about for years, but the city has yet to pull the trigger on them. These are used on slower, low-volume roads that are are “too narrow” for bike lanes. The idea is to create suggested shoulders that car drivers are allowed to venture into if necessary; but otherwise provide some safety and space for walkers and bikers. PBOT wants to find a good pilot street to test them prior to rolling them out citywide. A potential location for these is SW Fairmount or SW Hewett.

“Safer Shoulder” (below) is another new treatment in the plan. PBOT says they’d, “provide a separated place to walk on a roadway, out of the path of moving traffic.”

Notable projects

This plan calls out a bike lane gap on SW Terwilliger we profiled three years ago.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This plan doesn’t just have aspirational project lists. There are several things that could be built quickly.

PBOT says they have funding allocated for protected bike lanes on SW 35th and SW 45th avenues. On 35th, they will remove a parking lane and center turn lane to make room for protected bike lanes that connect Jackson Middle School to SW Huber Street. On SW 45th, PBOT wants to remove a parking lane and stripe bike lanes from SW Pendleton to Nevada to connect the Hayhurst neighborhood to Gabriel Park.

Another project identified in this plan is a long-awaited fix for SW 6th Avenue as it crosses I-405 and enters the central city (below). PBOT says it’d cost just $15,000 re-stripe the existing lane as it approaches SW College Street to provide a more continuous bikeway and eventually tie it into a Central City in Motion project slated for SW Jackson.

This would be a much nicer welcome to downtown via SW 6th.

How about a neighborhood greenway on SW Montgomery from downtown to Fairmount? That’s project RP-26. It would add greenway treatments on Montgomery from SW Vista to Talbot to help make a safer connection between downtown and the popular Fairmount/Council Crest Park look.

During our “Gap Week” coverage in 2016 we singled out the dropped bike lane on SW Terwilliger near 7th. I was pleasantly surprised to see this address as project BP-20. Surely we can find $150,000 to do this!

While actionable projects are great, we also need big visions. At one of their open house events, PBOT shared a poster titled, “Major Projects for Future Study”. Among the exciting projects on the list was the “Southwest Cycle Superhighway” which would be a low-stress bikeway to be built as part of the SW Corridor light rail project (below).

Future cycle superhighway in purple.

How we gonna’ pay for all this?!

PBOT says the prospects for future funding are “promising, but uncertain.” But unlike others plans, PBOT doesn’t leave southwest hanging with no dedicated funding. They list $935,000 in a mix of one-time ($185,00 for bicycle lanes, $550,000 for crossing enhancements via Fixing Our Streets program) and annual ($200,000 through their existing “quick build network completion” program) funding. Other potential sources of funds PBOT calls out in the plan include: Federal “flexible funds”, Metro’s 2020 transportation investment bond measure, Transportation System Development Charges and a new Local Transportation Improvement Charge program.

Portlanders are tired of plans. We want to build things. Hopefully this plan helps us do that faster.

Let’s take PBOT’s hint and use it to our advantage. Here’s what you need to help:

Official SWIM project page.
Draft SWIM plan. (PDF)
Draft project list. (PDF)
Public feedback survey open until May 24th
– Stay tuned for City Council adoption date.

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

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E Union Street is a chance for SDOT and the mayor to prove they care about connecting bike routes

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 12:23

All you have to do is disappear from existence for two blocks while biking and you’ll be fine.

Seattle is once again set to choose the convenience of car driving over the safety of people walking and biking and our city’s Vision Zero, Climate Action Plan and Bicycle Master Plan goals. This time, it’s on E Union Street in the Central District, where early designs for a planned protected bike lane on the street will fail to fully connect across the two busiest and most important intersections in the project area: 23rd Ave and MLK Way. The reason? Cars, of course.

The single clearest example of the city bailing on its goals is their plan to completely drop the bike lanes for the two blocks surrounding 23rd Avenue. And worse, SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson told the Urbanist’s Ryan Packer that people could just bike on the sidewalk:

“People biking would have the option to get through the intersection by crossing in the marked shared lane or using the sidewalk. We understand that bikes using the sidewalk is not always optimal, however, developments on both sides of 23rd Ave are expanding the sidewalks providing some relief.”

SDOT just used their official megaphone to lean out their car window and yell at people biking to “get on the damn sidewalk!”

Biking on the sidewalk in a busy business district is not a solution, and SDOT damn well knows it. But just to illustrate the point, David Seater recently took SDOT’s advice. Here’s how that went:

I took SDOT's advice and rode on the "expanded" sidewalks on Union from 22nd to 24th. They're right, it's "not optimal." If this is the vision for All Ages & Abilities / #ALEGRA / #VisionZero streets then we should just shut the whole department down. pic.twitter.com/RHkYmH7N13

— David Seater (@dseater) April 16, 2019

And this video wasn’t even at a time with heavy foot traffic.

To make matters worse, here’s one of the project’s proposed “benefits” from the official fact sheet (PDF):

SDOT’s traffic professionals know that you can’t just have the bike lane disappear for two blocks and expect it to function as a high quality, all ages and abilities bike route. They also know that bike lanes improve safety for all road users, since they practically wrote the book on that in the US. They know that intersections with shorter crosswalks (thanks to the presence of bike lanes) are much safer for people walking. They know our city needs to transition away from driving toward biking, walking and transit if we are going to keep people and goods moving as the city grows. They know all this because they also helped write our Council-approved plans and policies aimed at achieving that goal. That’s why this plan is so troubling.

The safety of our city’s residents is not some bullet point on a list to be weighed against the driving and parking convenience of people in cars. SDOT is constantly claiming that safety is its number one priority, but then they say stuff like this to the Urbanist:

“To fit a PBL through this section, we’d need to remove a vehicle travel lane in each direction. Condensing vehicles into a single lane would not only create slow downs for vehicles, it would also create a safety concern for pedestrians. Our traffic data shows a heavy amount of right turns at the 23rd Ave and Union St intersection, which means that removing a vehicle lane would increase the vehicle and pedestrian conflict.”

AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

OK, I just needed to let that out. Deeeeeeep breaths…. deeeeeeeeeeeep breaths….

Slowing cars is a safety benefit, not a problem. SDOT knows this. And bike lanes improve safety for people on foot, and, again, SDOT knows this. They know it. I don’t get why they are saying otherwise right now because they know bike lanes, when designed well, don’t “create a safety concern for pedestrians.” They are trying to pit people walking and biking against each other so they can preserve the status quo where every inch of road space prioritizes cars. It’s despicable and, considering people’s safety is at risk, unethical. They know this is wrong.

I keep saying “they know this” because, given Mayor Jenny Durkan’s recent decisions to delay or cut bike lanes, it’s safe to say that the direction to avoid all impacts on driving is coming from her office either directly or by assumption. Through decisions like 35th Ave NE, the mayor is directing SDOT’s transportation professionals to knowingly make decisions that put people’s safety at risk for the mayor’s personal political reasons. Spokespeople like Bergerson are trying to find justifications for these decisions, but there are none.

Following the blowback from her 35th Ave NE decision and SDOT’s major cuts to the short term bike plan earlier this month, SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe and Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan were sent on something of an apology tour, trying to stress that the mayor remains committed to safe streets, the Climate Action Plan and building the Bicycle Master Plan. Both Zimbabwe and Ranganathan stressed that the mayor wanted to focus on connecting places, not just building bike lane mileage.

Well, here’s a great opportunity for the mayor to step in and prove it. Because this plan is not connected and does not meet our city’s transportation and climate goals. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The design is only at ten percent with plenty of time to improve it if the mayor directs the project team to do so.

A stronger Union Street

First off, there is a good part to this design. Between 14th and 22nd Avenues, the city will add or upgrade bike lanes to be parking-protected. Getting the design right at each intersection and driveway will be very important, but this is a great starting point.

But once the project gets to 22nd, it abandons these bike lanes entirely. E Union Street today is has two lanes (one in each direction) plus two parking and painted bike lanes at 22nd Ave, but then widens out to five lanes (two each direction and a left turn lane) plus a parking lane before reaching 23rd. There is no space constraint here. Traffic doesn’t suddenly double in that one block. I’m no traffic engineer, but I’ll go ahead and take a stab at what 23rd/Union that actually prioritizes walking, biking and transit might look like:

These images are mid-block between 23rd and 22nd, looking west. I made them using Streetmix (existing, remix), the same website SDOT staff used (measurements are my estimates). SDOT staff don’t need me to make these for them, because they know all this already. I’m sure they also have their own better ideas. But it’s important for non-professionals to imagine the ways our streets could be different if only SDOT were empowered to challenge the car-centric status quo.

Other stretches of the street could also easily include continuous and connected protected bike lanes, but only if the city prioritizes them over private car storage and excess general purpose lanes. Connecting to MLK is very important, especially since MLK is supposed to get its own protected bike lanes someday, according to the Bicycle Master Plan. And connecting to the Broadway Bikeway is just three blocks from the project’s western end point, which is tantalizingly close. From there, Broadway is due soon to connect to new Pike/Pine bike lanes into downtown.

If you look at the Bicycle Master Plan map, you can see how Union is a vital artery in the city’s connected network of protected bike lanes:

Project area circled in red. Map from the Bicycle Master Plan.

The Central District has long had one of the highest bike commute rates in the whole city, and Union is the only viable route option for many homes and destinations. Today, it can be a stressful street because bikes lanes come and go. Seattle now has a chance to make a major improvement, but only if the mayor directs SDOT to do the right thing. So far, the city seems prepared to blow this opportunity, but it doesn’t need to be this way.

Capitol Galleria event will mark 10th birthday of Oregon Scenic Bikeways program

Bike Portland - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 08:48

The idea was simple: Codify a network of Oregon’s best cycling routes into state law so that people could access a Cycle Oregon-like experience for free, any time.

It took about five years for the idea to materialize, with the first official public hearings in early 2008. The first one — the 135-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway — was designated in summer 2009 and today there are 17 of them scattered throughout the state.

The 1,253 miles of routes are vetted by a committee, signed, and promoted by the State of Oregon. In 2014, an independent study (commissioned by OPRD) found that people who ride Scenic Bikeways spent about $12.4 million at food, lodging and retail businesses along the routes.

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The Bikeways program is a partnership between the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department, the Oregon Department of Transportation, Travel Oregon, and Cycle Oregon (the nonprofit whose leaders spawned the idea in 2004). It’s the first and only program of its kind in the United States.

OPRD will commemorate its 10th birthday on May 3rd with a special event at the Capitol Galleria in Salem from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The free event is open to the public and will feature cake, gifts, guest speakers and the unveiling of the brand-new scenic bikeways map.

Get inspired to ride and learn more about all 17 routes via Ride With GPS, on the official Oregon Scenic Bikeways page, or from Travel Oregon.

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

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TriMet launches new zero emission, wind-powered electric buses

Bike Portland - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 14:22

Getting a charge at today’s launch event.
(Photos: TriMet)

TriMet and their partners launched five new all-electric buses at the Sunset Transit Center this morning. They claim to be the first transit agency in the nation to put fully wind-powered buses into regular service.

TriMet expects to have 10 electric buses on the road by summer of next year. The new rigs are part of the agency’s push to have a completely non-diesel fleet by 2040. And, with an assist from Portland General Electric, 100% of their power will be created from wind turbines.

At a press conference event today Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Transportation Policy Advisor Brendan Finn said, “One of the most daunting challenges we have in our society today is our changing climate and how we’re adapting to it. 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change are from the transportation sector; and that needs to change! Governor Brown’s administration has been laser-focused on reducing carbon emissions. Investing and expanding in transit is one of the cornerstones in the governor’s strategy, as is transportation electrification.”

Funding for four of the new buses came from a $3.4 million federal grant. PGE will own and maintain the charging equipment, a move that saved TriMet enough money to buy a fifth bus. TriMet says they’ll spend another $53 million to purchase another 80 electric buses over the next five-to-six years with funding from the State of Oregon’s Keep Oregon Moving Act.

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The first all-electric bus will start service tomorrow on Line 62 in Beaverton.

In addition to not spewing out an estimated 1.17 million tons of toxic CO2 emissions into our air, each new bus will save TriMet about $400,000 in annual fuel costs. They have a range of 80 miles per charge and can be re-charged in 30 minutes (with a fast charger) or four hours (on a standard charger).

Asked if they’d considered safety issues related to how quiet the new buses are, TriMet Media Relations and Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt told me, “We haven’t heard a concern about that and have done numerous road tests over the last several months.” Altstadt said the new buses are about 39 decibels while idling and are “much louder than a Prius”.

These new buses will only add to the momentum to dramatically improve bus service in Portland — a key part of our efforts to encourage less driving.

For more information, check out the official announcement from TriMet. And happy breathing!

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

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