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Editorial: Portland’s irrational fear of off-road cycling

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 14:57

How could more of this be a bad thing for our local parks?
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan (ORCMP) rolls ever closer to its big date at City Council, interest groups throughout the city are taking notice.

The usual opposition to better bike access on dirt trails in Portland is very well-known. But I’ve noticed something new in the past few weeks: Advocates for local parks who oppose parts of it based on fears that anything that attracts more off-road bikers will negatively impact the park and its current users.

I find this reflexive opposition very unfortunate.

“There are real potential conflicts with off road cycling mingling with other users of the Park… I do not have faith that off road cyclists will remain in a designated area.”
— Kelly Pergande, Friends of Pier Park

Take the Dog Bowl (along Willamette Blvd above Swan Island) and Pier Park (in St. Johns) for instance. Both locations are included in the plan as possible sites for upgraded and/or new trails in the future.

On the four acres of Dog Bowl, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability thinks it might be possible to build a “sustainable loop trail” along the edge of the property.

At the much larger, 87-acre Pier Park, the plan says there’s room for a “medium-sized bicycle park” (about one acre) near the existing skate park, a “natural surface loop trail for family-friendly cycling, walking, running and enjoyment of nature” and some “skill features” like rocks, logs or bridges interspersed along the edges.

These are extremely minimal proposals that are nothing more than placeholders at this stage. The plan makes it clear: both sites would have to go through master plans and a community input process before anything would change.

Nevertheless, advocates for the parks have expressed opposition.

Overlook Neighborhood Association Chair Chris Trejbal wrote a letter to the Portland Parks Board on March 23rd. “The ‘potential loop trail’ shown in the Draft ORCMP,” he wrote, “would preclude the lower-impact activities that take place there now.” Here’s more from his letter:

“Contrary to the draft’s vision, the usable area of the 4-acre site could not be divided in a way that would accommodate those uses as well as off-road biking. A large portion of the Dog Bowl is steep, landslide-prone hillside and a special habitat oak woodland. The remainder is not sufficient to accommodate off-road biking and other uses without immediately generating conflicts.

The Draft ORCMP was developed without community input from the Overlook neighborhood and the dozens of people who use the Dog Bowl daily. We recognize the need for infrastructure to support the city’s off-road biking enthusiasts, but the Dog Bowl is not a suitable site.”

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Dog Bowl as seen in the Draft Off-road Cycling Master Plan.

I emailed Trejbal to ask why he assumed off-road biking at Dog Bowl would lead to conflicts and why he thought it would preclude people from doing what they do there now.

Trejbal said he feels an improved trail would leave, “Very little space for the historic uses of the property.” He feels that, “Dogs running around and trail biking are a combination that is certain to lead to negative interactions when a dog chases a biker or a biker hits a dog. Likewise, walkers, runners, kids or people eating lunch are not a good fit crossing and immediately next to off-road cycling.”

“The question, then,” he continued, “is whether the Dog Bowl should continue to fill its role as a small neighborhood open space with diverse uses or should it be handed over to a single activity that would be incompatible with dogs and kids running around. As a neighborhood, we favor the former.”

Trejbal would rather put the activity somewhere else: “I have nothing against setting aside space in Forest Park for off-road cycling.” (Of course people who oppose off-road cycling in Forest Park are a big reason the City is looking at places like Dog Bowl.)

Again. There’s nothing in the plan that should lead someone to believe that Dog Bowl will be “handed over” to cycling.

A similar reaction comes from advocates of Pier Park.

At that location, BPS has also proposed very minimal, early-stage concepts where nothing would happen without a full master planning process.

Yet Friends of Pier Park’s Vice Chair Kelly Pergande and Chair Matt Kuntz oppose it.

In a response to the City of Portland posted on their website, Pergande writes,

“There are real potential conflicts with off road cycling mingling with other users of the Park… I do not have faith that off road cyclists will remain in a designated area. It is inevitable that there will be off road cycling throughout the park… Preserving the ability to utilize the pathways for pedestrians and current cyclists without adding off road to the mix, will be even more important as the population increases in our city.”

And Chair Matt Kuntz writes:

“We do not feel that PP&R Recommendation #3 (‘natural surface loop family friendly trail…inside park’) could be feasibly designed without drastically reducing safety and usability for other park users. The current family friendly path (paved & mixed-gravel) that exists today is heavily used by walkers, joggers, strollers, kids, dogs, bird-watchers, and slow moving bicycles. Any sanctioned off-road bike course or track would add speed and unrestrained bike riding styles into the equation that would be unfit to mix into a family friendly path. Course features mentioned such as “rocks, logs or bridges” would have these higher speed bikes moving back off-and-on to the trail which would be unpredictable for regular traffic flow. Our regular path users would not want to use such a trail.”

Kutnz also thinks any new trails in the park, “Would lead to biodiversity and habitat loss in the Park, which we firmly oppose.”

Similar to Trejbal, Kuntz and Pergande assume a worst-case scenario if anything is done to improve off-road bicycling in these parks. They assume people who ride these bikes will be inconsiderate and rude and won’t follow the rules. They assume danger and conflict and a loss of access. They assume if the experience of the park for one type of user is improved, the experience for others will automatically get worse.

That’s not how I see it. We can all gain something as we grow and change. But we’ll never find out what that is if we aren’t willing to let it happen.

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

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Great news: The Portland Business Alliance has picked a new president and CEO

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 12:26

Andrew Hoan.
(Photo: Portland Business Alliance)

The Portland Business Alliance (PBA) will have a new leader by this summer. Andrew Hoan has been hired to take over the reins from current PBA President Sandra McDonough, who has held the position for 14 years.

Hoan is currently head of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in New York City. He’s set to take over for McDonough in Portland effective June 18th

The departure of McDonough and the hiring of someone with a clean slate is big news for transportation reformers and safe streets advocates. The PBA under McDonough has long been a thorn in the side of progress for active transportation. Much of their influence takes place behind closed doors and never becomes public, but when they have taken stands, they have not been supportive of significant cycling-related projects.

In 2010 McDonough could only offer limited support for the Bicycle Master Plan. In a letter of feedback to PBOT, she shared concerns that the city’s Green Transportation Hierarchy prioritzed biking and walking infrastructure over cars and trucks. She also called out, “bicyclists who do not know — or choose not to obey — traffic rules,” and strongly advocated for taxing bicycle users in order to, “share some of the burden of paying for the infrastructure they use.”

Two years later, the PBA effectively killed a major bikeway upgrade on SW 12th Avenue by rallying business owners to protest the PBOT project before it ever really got off the ground.

And who can forget McDonough’s strong opposition to the Better Naito project? She was behind an attempt to organize opposition to the wildly successful reconfiguration of Naito Parkway. She penned a letter to PBOT Commissioner Saltzman saying, “We do not support its implementation generally and this summer in particular,” and that it was an example of, “projects that seem designed to inhibit mobility for the vast majority of system users.” Unfortunately for McDonough her anti-Better Naito campaign backfired miserably. It ended up spurring even more support for the project.

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McDonough’s opposition to Better Naito was even at odds with the Board Chair of her own organization. We pointed that out in May 2017 and posited that the competing stances were symbolic of changes not only at the PBA but of Portland in general.

There’s good reason to believe that will change under Hoan, a Wisconsin native who will move here with his wife Karina Hoan and their young son.

“I look forward to working closely with the talented staff at the Alliance, our members and our external stakeholders,” Hoan said in an official statement. “To ensure that the quality of life that is so highly valued across this diverse area is supported and preserved as Portland and Oregon continue to prosper.”

And he’s got a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU to back that up.

I reached out to sources in Brooklyn who’ve worked with Hoan and they say he “gets it.” One person who’s known him for several years told us he, “Understands getting people to bike and walk and the role they play in development… He understands intuitively the connection between transportation and land-use.” The source said Hoan and his Chamber of Commerce didn’t take a leading role in safe streets or transit advocacy because he had to toe a centrist line while balancing many interests. “I thought he missed some opportunities,” the acquaintance shared with me. “But he’s the type of guy that — in a place like Portland — might be willing to move a little bit more if he’s pushed.” And he added (take note local activists): “I don’t think any of the advocates here ever called him out on anything; but he’s one of those guys that, if he has political cover, he’ll move. But he won’t go out on a ledge… The best way to describe it is he understands the connections, but he needs to be pushed a bit.”

And for what it’s worth, Hoan lives in downtown Brooklyn. “He lives in a transit-oriented development… a real urbanist lifestyle… And I’m not even sure he owns a car,” our source shared. “He’s got the city in his heart.”

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

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Why is LimeBike hiring a full-time operations manager in Portland?

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 10:07

Is Portland is about to get a dockless bike share system?

According to this job listing, LimeBike is hiring a full-time operations manager for Portland. The listing says the manager will oversee a team of employees “ranging from 4 to 20.”

There’s been no public announcement, and I don’t have a response from the City of Portland yet, but hiring a full-time manager sure seems like a precursor to doing business.

Either way, if LimeBike is coming to Portland it would not be a huge surprise.

As we shared back in January, Portland Bureau of Transportation staffers took a field trip up to Seattle to test dockless bikes — with LimeBike being one of them. There’s also a personal connection between Portland and LimeBike: the company’s Chief Program Officer is Scott Kubly. Kubly and PBOT Director Leah Treat are former colleagues who worked together in Chicago as deputies under Chicago DOT Director Gabe Klein. Kubly resigned from Seattle’s top transportation job in December and was hired by LimeBike earlier this month to handle business development and government relations.

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At the “Urbanism Next” conference held in Portland earlier this month, Oregon Business reported that LimeBike’s director of strategic development was singing his system’s praises. And Portland’s bike share program manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth was in the room. “Portland planners seem open to a dockless system, but not any time soon,” reported Oregon Business reporter Caleb Diehl. “Scheer told us PBOT politely declined his inquires about expanding into Portland, although Hoyt-Mcbeth said ‘there’s probably opportunity for both.'”

Portland could definitely use a truly dockless system. Biketown has been a great fit for us, but 1,000 bikes aren’t nearly enough. We need bicycles accessible to all Portlanders — from SE 164th to Goose Hollow and from St. Johns to John’s Landing.

Seattle has nearly 10,000 “free-floating” bikes in service — including several thousand LimeBikes.

Unlike Portland’s Biketown system, which has a limited service area and charges an extra fee if you don’t return the bike to a specific parking spot or “free hub zone,” LimeBikes can be ridden and parked anywhere. You could grab one downtown and ride all the way to the Cully neighborhood and just leave the bike out in front of your house.

LimeBike has bike fleets in dozens of cities and they’ve been able to secure hundreds of millions in start-up funding. In September of last year Forbes said they were valued at $200 million. Self-described as a “smart-mobility provider” they also offer a electric-assist bikes and battery-powered scooters in some markets. The company was founded in January 2017 and is based in San Mateo, California.

I’ll update this post when I hear back from PBOT or LimeBike.

UPDATE, 12:20 pm: A LimeBike spokesperson denies the company is about to launch here: “We’ve had collaborative discussions with local and community leaders, and hope to bring LimeBike to Portland in the future.”

UPDATE, 4:00 pm: PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera has responded: “We have heard from several dockless bikeshare providers about their interest in offering service in the City of Portland. We are developing a timeframe and process for the permits needed to provide private bike share service.”

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

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The Monday Roundup: A car vending machine, pro bike x-rays, a very strong woman, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 09:07

Here are the most noteworthy stories we came across last week…

Uber’s epic fail: There was a ton of great reporting and hot takes on Uber’s Tempe tragedy last week. The most interesting piece we came across was this in-depth analysis from an AV expert who said, “This will set Uber’s efforts back considerably, and that may very well be the best thing.”

Car vending machine: Ford is behind a cat-themed machine in China that allows people to walk up and buy a car.

Bike summit recap: We didn’t make it to the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. this year, so we were happy to find this short-but-sweet recap from Bicycle Times Magazine.

A strong woman: Endurance athlete Lael Wilcox was featured in a Wired video where she details how she trains and stays motivated to ride 20,000 miles a year.

Better buses everywhere: It’s interesting how cities around North America experience the same challenges at the same time. As Portland delves into “enhanced transit,” officials in Toronto are singing the same tune.

Vroom room: As if they didn’t have enough challenges detecting doping inside human bodies, the governing body of international cycle racing has a new x-ray trailer that can spot engines built inside bicycles.

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LA’s housing debate: Lisa Schweitzer is an urban planning professor at USC actively shared her thoughts about California’s controversial housing bill (SB827) via Twitter and her blog — until she received so many personal attacks she decided to take a step back.

B2V: Before Uber’s deadly crash in Tempe, the bicycle industry didn’t make much noise about the threat AVs posed to bicycle users. Now at lead one industry leader says bicycles should come standard with equipment to communicate with these new robot cars.

Bike share vandalism: Seattle’s DOT issued a warning to users of its dockless bikes: Someone has been purposely cutting the brake cables.

Dockless pile-ups: Photos showing huge piles and parking lots full of dockless bikes in China are still going around. What’s funny to me is that lots like this full of cars can be found all over the world — even right here in Portland (been out to Kelley Point Park lately, or did you see that huge fire at a car junkyard in northeast recently?) — but it’s so normal no one notices.

Motorized bikes more dangerous?: This news tidbit from Korea confirms one of my fears about e-bikes: That the speeds they can reach pose a danger to people who haven’t learned how to control it.

Another reason to ride: The obesity trend in America is still headed the wrong direction.

Plastic wands don’t work: Looks like drivers in New York City, just like here in Portland, can’t stop running into those plastic delineators that “protect” many of our bikeways.

Video of the Week: Hundreds of people turned out for the Women’s Ride on Queens Boulevard in New York City:

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

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The post The Monday Roundup: A car vending machine, pro bike x-rays, a very strong woman, and more appeared first on BikePortland.org.

All New Ibis Ripmo

Bike Hugger - Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:59

It’s like the love child of a Ripley and an HD4, the all new Ibis Ripmo is a 29r that’s always down for another lap. With 145mm of efficient dw-link travel (160mm front), a sub 6 lb frame weight, modern geometry, and clearance for a water bottle (with piggy back shock), this is the most versatile Ibis has ever built—they’ve built a lot.

It’s also a terribly-kept secret…The Ripmo was spotted this past weekend at EWS where Ibis racers Robin Wallner and Bex Berona had their best finishes to date.

What’s New

The Ripmo’s reach is nearly an inch longer than the EWS Team winning HD4, with clearance for a 175mm dropper, and a pedal-friendly 76° seat tube angle.

The rest of the features include an all-new, stiffer, lighter lower link with internal cable tunnels, clearance for 2.6″ rubber, and a threaded BB.

Facts
  • 29” Wheels
  • 145mm dw-link rear travel
  • 160mm front travel
  • 2.6” tire clearance
  • Carbon fiber front and rear triangle
  • Available in sizes S-XL, fits riders between 5” and 6’6”
  • Frame weight from 5.08 lbs / 2.3 kg (w/ out shock), 6.06 lbs / 2.7 kg w/
  • Fox DPX2 Available with either Fox DPX2 or X2 shock
  • Complete builds from 28.1 lbs / 12.7 kg
Details
  • Threaded BB
  • ISCG 05 compatible with removable adapter
  • Shorter 44mm fork offset
  • Steep 76o seat tube angle
  • In-frame molded cable tunnels
  • Bottle cage mounts inside front triangle
  • Works simultaneously with piggyback shocks and larger water bottles
  • Size M-XL compatible with 170mm droppers, 125-150mm for smalls
  • Polycarbonate downtube protector and molded rubber swing arm protectors
  • IGUS bushings in lower link, bearings in upper link
  • 210mm eye to eye, 55mm stroke shock
  • Post mount rear brake
  • 203mm max rotor size
  • 1x specific design
  • Boost spacing

Complete Ibis Ripmo builds start at $4,099, framesets with DPX2 shock start at $2,999.

 

The post All New Ibis Ripmo appeared first on Bike Hugger.

Audubon Society and OPAL file FOIA request on I-5 Rose Quarter project

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 15:12

I-5 through the Rose Quarter as seen from the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
(Photo: Emily Guise)

The Audubon Society of Portland and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon want to make sure the Oregon Department of Transportation doesn’t short-change the environment as they plan to add and expand lanes on Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter.

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was formally made today by the Crag Law Center on behalf of both organizations.

According to the letter, Audubon Society and OPAL want to see, “all documents relating to the question of whether FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] and ODOT intend to prepare initially an environmental assessment (“EA”) as opposed to a more thorough environmental impact statement (“EIS”) for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. Documents subject to this request include, without limitation, electronic mail, text messages, web-based content, all writings, letters, memoranda, notes wherever they are found, summaries, working papers, schedules, draft documents, correspondence, documentation of meetings, minutes from meetings, data, graphs, charts, photos, and/or maps.”

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires EAs and EISs as part of their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. “The EA determines whether or not a federal action has the potential to cause significant environmental effects,” states the EPA’s website. An EIS is needed when a project is, “Determined to significantly affect the quality of the human environment.” At issue here the fact that an EA requires much less work than a full-blown EIS. In the words of the EPA: “The regulatory requirements for an EIS are more detailed and rigorous than the requirements for an EA.”

According to Chris Winter, the Crag Law Center lawyer who filed the request, his clients are, “Seeking to better understand the environmental analysis regarding the I-5 project and to explain the scope and nature of the environmental review to be conducted.” “Both organizations have been leading voices for protection of air and water quality in the Portland metro region,” Winter writes in the letter, “and provide education to their members and the public about threats to the natural resources that could be impacted by this project.”

OPAL and Audubon have both signed onto a list of Portland-area organizations hosted by No More Freeways PDX, “expressing concern for the proposed expansion of the Rose Quarter Freeway.” The project has garnered intense opposition due to the agency’s claims that it will relieve traffic congestion and improve safety — even though no highway expansion has ever reduced congestion and the safety concerns have proven to be way overblown.

The FHWA is expected to respond to this request within 20 working days.

Stay tuned this coming Monday (3/26) when both organizations are set to make a public statement about the request.

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

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Freight, bikes, and the Central Eastside: An interview with Peter Stark

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 14:20

Peter Stark at a Central City in Motion project design charrette on March 16th.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the City of Portland looks to create a usable, low-stress cycling network in the central city, one of the toughest places to make it a reality will be the Central Eastside Industrial District. An area hemmed in by massive freeway infrastructure with a legacy of heavy industry and freight-dependent businesses, the CEID is in many ways the lynchpin of the Central City in Motion project.

One of the people standing in the middle of discussions about how to plan for the future of this district is Peter Stark.

Stark is a licensed architect who owns his own design and planning firm. He’s also one of Portland’s most well-known activists. Stark’s many civic endeavors include a position on the board of Portland Streetcar Inc., and he’s the founder and board chair of the Cornell Road Sustainability Coalition. In the Central Eastside, Stark has been a key player for over 17 years. He’s a past president of the Central Eastside Industrial Council and currently on the board as well as being the executive director of the CEIC’s Transportation Policy Advisory Committee.

I caught up with Stark after a meeting of the Central City in Motion in project last week to ask him about how he sees the future of bikes and freight in the Central Eastside.

Typical scene in the Central Eastside, where the streets often feel like bikers and walkers aren’t welcome.

How are you feeling at this point about the City’s plans for improving bikeways in the CEIC?

“We’ve said from the very beginning we are strong supporters of improved bicycle and pedestrian movement in the city because we realize we have limited capacity for freight. We need to open up the roads for better freight movement. So providing an opportunity for people to get out of their cars and use these other systems, is a big benefit for us. Anbd we have many employees that love to get to their jobs through those facilities. The problem we’ve had is that, and the city doesn’t understand this, it when it comes to freight what we’re really worried about is hurting people. So I keep pushing the idea that we ought to have dedicated alignments for those uses [freight and bicycles] so we don’t have a conflict. The minute you put them on the same road it’s always a question of, what happens when somebody gets killed?”

What about the contention that the district is changing. The CEIC says freight is so important today, but what about five years from now?

“As we continue to densify and increase employment, you’re going to have more freight, not less. They’ll be smaller, but you’ll have more delivery, more needs to move goods and services in and out.”

You’re talking about freight delivery. But what about the industrial land-use? Isn’t that changing?

“Yes and no. Talk to New Seasons, they just made a substantial investment here in the district. And they are freight-centric. This is a distribution center for them. You’ve got a lot of companies that have really invested in this district. Now, you can kick them out and maybe eventually they’ll find they can’t move [their goods] in or out. But I’ve always believed you want to evolve the district, rather than just cut it off. I try to move the district towards little changes. A little bit at a time.”

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Map shared at last week’s meeting.

You say it’s a freight and industrial district for the next 10-20 yrs, and the City says it also has to be a place to move vulnerable people safely through the streets. Is there a way to make these things coexist?

“Yes, but it doesn’t mean you put those people on the same road as the roads that have been desginated as freight. SE 7th is a good example. I’ve been working with Ryan [Hashagen, of Icicle Tricycles] and Franklin [Jones, of B-Line Urban Delivery] for quite a few years and they’re a bicycle business that moves goods and services. They can be on those freight streets because they understand the importance of mixing safely. But when you see that slide [referring to a PBOT slide in the meeting] with that little kid with her mom and her groceries on the back — and you put that on a street where you have freight — that’s asking for disaster. And I’m worried about it.”

So you want separate streets for bike and freight. Then the question becomes, which mode gets which streets?

“Well, 7th hasn’t always been a bike alignment. The city seems to always put bike alignments on some of the major arterials. You look at a street where there’s a sharrow and you’ve got a bike in a neighobhrood… A lot of your little kids are going to use that street over a bike lane that’s been painted on the ground next to a big truck that’s coming by. Again, and I’m just worried that we haven’t talked about it enough, but MLK/Grand Avenue is our corridor. I would love to see us slow the traffic down there, make that our commercial corridor; put the Green Loop right on our commercial corridor [the Green Loop is currently planned to be on 6th and 7th].”

Do you feel the same way about parking? That the City’s plans for biking can coexist with existing parking capacity?

“When you talk about transitions and increased density. Think of it in terms of increased employment density and not just residential. That’s the model in the Central Eastside. It’s not a mixed-use district as much as it’s focused on increasing employement. The reason we’ve been pushing this industrial model – and by the way we all know it’s really a new urban-industrial-hybrid-creative-services kind of a thing, not smokestacks — the truth is, parking is going to continue to be going away. There’s no way of avoiding it. We’ve got to provide solutions that provide for the employment increase transitionally. So we’re going to continue to fight to save parking if we can, and realize that over time it will go away. It’s inevitable. It will probably become freight loading and unloading.”

Or maybe it’ll become space for protected bike lanes?

“Or both! I think we have more in common with the bike community than less. We have more interests that are the same than not. Finding a solution is what we’re hoping to be able to do.”

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

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Anti-bike lane group tweets that single moms don’t bike. It backfires spectacularly

Seattle Bike Blog - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 14:16

A twitter handle representing the “Save 35th Ave NE” group fighting against city plans for safer crosswalks and bike lanes posted a sexist tweet the other day saying that “single mothers don’t commute to work on bikes.” It backfired spectacularly when the many biking moms in Seattle pointed out that they do, in fact, exist. Many of them are 35th Ave NE neighbors.

The tweet goes on to bafflingly suggest that only “privileged ” bike, which is perhaps a wonderful insight into the minds of at least some of the people fighting these bike lanes. This poster has no idea who bikes, so they created some “other” group of people that they feel they don’t need to care about and bunched all people who bike together into that group. It’s just #techbros! Who cares if they die?

What’s depressing — beyond the blatant retrograde sexism, of course —is that this poster has lost sight of the fact that it’s their own neighbors who are trying to get around by bike. If your neighborhood organization relies on pretending that many of your neighbors don’t exist, then something has gone terribly wrong with your organization. The problem is right there in the name: “Save” 35th. Save it from what? Being a safe and comfortable place for people to bike? Just because you or your friends don’t bike doesn’t mean your neighbors who do bike are not worth caring about. That’s practically the definition of being selfish.

Bike lanes on 35th Ave NE would make make it safer and easier for more people of all ages, gender identities and income levels to get around without a car. More people biking is good for traffic, good for business, good for the environment and good for people’s health. In other words, it’s good for neighborhoods.

As of press time, that tweet has been up for 48 hours without any sort of clarification or retraction from the Save 35th group.

Below is just a taste of the responses people have posted so far. I hope that 35th Ave neighbors fighting the bike lanes take a step back and question some of their assumptions about who bikes and why these bike lanes might actually be good for their neighborhood. Read the tweet at the top of this post again and ask yourself whether that really represents the values you have for your neighborhood.

I would like to send a special shout out to all the biking mamas out there. You are awesome and powerful. And what I know after more than seven years writing this blog is that you are the strongest force behind advocacy for a safer and more bike-friendly Seattle.

Don’t forget to take ODOT’s Oregon Coast Bike Route survey

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 10:11

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As we reported back in January, the Oregon Department of Transportation is currently working on a much-needed update to the Coast Bike Route plan.

“With the changes in bicycle infrastructure standards, and the growth of bike tourism destinations and travel options both nationally and along U.S. 101,” an ODOT spokesperson told us in January, “the time was right to closely examine and identify opportunities to increase safety, accessibility and enjoyment for both local community members and travelers on the Oregon Coast Bike Route.”

As part of that work they have released a survey. If you’ve ridden the route — or if you’ve wanted to but are just too afraid (something I hear from a lot of people) — please take a few minutes and do the survey.

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Here’s the intro from the survey splash page:

As the project team begins work on the Oregon Coast Bike Route Study, we are looking for input from people who have ridden the Oregon Coast Bike Route (OCBR) or who are interested in similar cycling experiences but have chosen not to ride the OCBR. If you fall into either of those groups, please complete the survey below. We appreciate your feedback and input.

You’ll notice the survey doesn’t focus much on infrastructure. It asks for details about your ride experience, quality of campsites, how much you spent on the trip, and so on. Don’t despair, planners assure us they are also looking at infrastructure as part of this project too.

Learn more about the work they’re doing on ODOT’s website. And stay tuned for updates.

And here’s that survey link one more time.

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

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Crunch time for off-road cycling plan with all eyes on Portland Parks Board meeting

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 08:53

An advisory committee meeting for the plan in March 2017.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In case you haven’t read or heard yet, it’s crunch time for the City of Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan.

After years of meetings and planning, advocates are making their final arguments, a draft version is being reviewed by the influential Portland Parks Board, and a date at City Council for final adoption is likely this summer.

Everyone agrees this is a plan our city needs; but it’s less clear if this is the plan our city wants.

I was at the March 12th Parks Board meeting and shared a snapshot of how Mayor Ted Wheeler and a few advocates are feeling about the plan. Earlier this week I shared a guest post from Daniel Greenstadt, an advocate who has followed the plan’s development very closely and has participated in several of the planning meetings.

Those two stories, along with a search of our archives on terms like “forest park singletrack” and “off-road cycling master plan” should give you plenty of background information to understand this issue and make an informed opinion about it. (We’ve covered every twist-and-turn of this issue for over a decade, so there’s a clear historical thread that can be easily woven by anyone with the energy and interest. If you have a question about the plan, the process, or the politics, feel free to ask in the comments!)

Screen grab from NWTA website.

Now all eyes are on a Parks Board meeting set for April 3rd. That meeting will be a public hearing on the draft plan. Daniel mentioned this meeting in his post on Monday, but it’s worth re-upping to the Front Page so everyone has the latest information.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) put out an email today that gives us an idea of what to expect at the meeting.

First, due to a high level of interest, they’ve changed the location to the 1900 Bldg (BPS HQ) which is located at 1900 SW 4th Ave. The hearing will be held on the 7th Floor in Conference Room 7A from 3:00 to 5:00 pm (here’s a BikePortland Calendar listing).

Also because of public demand BPS says they’ve extended the time alotted for public comment. You have until 1:00 pm today (3/23) to submit written testimony to the Parks Board. To do that, send an email to Hailee.Vandiver@portlandoregon.gov.

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The “vision” from the plan.

If you can attend the meeting, here’s what to expect: There will be four panels. The first 10-minute panel will be for people, “concerned about additional off-road cycling in Forest Park.” The second panel will be for people, “in favor of additional off-road cycling in Forest Park.” The third panel will be about off-road cycling in Riverview with two people in favor, and two with concerns about it. And the fourth panel will consist of six people chosen via a random drawing who can speak on any other aspect of the plan.

The Parks Board will consider making their own comments on the draft plan and all of their recommendations and comments will be forwarded to their Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

As for those final arguments from advocates…

The NW Trail Alliance has issued an action alert urging their members to email the Parks Board and Portland City Council. Their pitch is all about the positive impacts that “increased community access to natural environments” can have on our city. They see better bike access to places like Forest Park as an important way to offer safe physical activity for all ages within the city limits and that if a new generation of park users don’t have appealing options we’ll lose valuable stewards that can ensure the health of our parks and natural areas for years to come.

NWTA supports the plan itself but they feel it doesn’t go far enough. They say it’s “too heavy on restriction/closure recommendations” and that it only offers, “disappointing options for Forest Park.” Specifically, they say, the Forest Park options in the current plan proposes trails that, “do not meet community needs, as they would be too steep for most youth and beginners, and do not provide connectors to create a longer ride.” The plan also fails to create access to existing trails in Forest Park and in other areas that could provide bike-friendly routes and neighborhood connections.

John Miller.
(Photo: John Miller)

Independent advocate John Miller has published a detailed argument for why he opposes improved bike access in places like Forest Park and River View Natural Area. “Who will speak for nature?” he askes on his website. “The [plan] fails to acknowledge some basic environmental ethics and important legal conditions that preclude mountain bikes from being allowed in Forest Park, River View Natural Area, and smaller natural areas in our region.”

Miller, who supports the non-controversial aspects of the plan like pump tracks, says the arguments for singletrack trails from the “mountain biking lobby” are “a bunch of malarkey!”. “Beware of the Mountain Biking Industrial Complex,” he warns. “The season to act is Now. Monied interests will not let up, unless legal frameworks are put in place.”

Visit the official project page to view the draft plan and learn more.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Stages, Kerr Bikes, Bike Clark County, WashCo BTC, Go By Bike

Bike Portland - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 07:22

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

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Customer Service Representative – Stages Indoor Cycling

–> Professional Bike Mechanic for Kerr Bikes – Albertina Kerr

–> Bicycle Mechanic / Sale Associate – Part-time – Bike Clark County

–> Bike Camp Instructor – Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition (dba WashCo BTC)

–> Morning Mechanic – Go By Bike Shop

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

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

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

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

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The post Jobs of the Week: Stages, Kerr Bikes, Bike Clark County, WashCo BTC, Go By Bike appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Bike Happy: Get stoked + Eastside cuts bikeshare loose

Seattle Bike Blog - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 16:16

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.

TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO
  1. Attend the third and final presentations of the Stoked Spoke Adventure Series this year on Wednesday, 6:30-9pm, at the Rhino Room. You’ll learn about amazing bikepacking and other bike adventures here in the Pacific Northwest. RSVP >
  2. Kathleen Emry, owner of Free Range Cycles, is retiring.
  3. Seattle City Council is set to move forward on major improvements to bike parking requirements for new buildings, although the update isn’t perfect.
  4. There’s sooo much bikeshare news this week, from vandals cutting brake wires to Eastside expansion.
  5. Cascade, SNG, and others are pushing SDOT to push forward on a planned two-way protected bike lane on 4th Avenue in Downtown. Take action >

SOCIAL, LIFESTYLE, & ADVENTURE UPCOMING ACTIVITIES​ ARTICLES & POSTS
  • Enjoy the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival by bike, Seattle Times.
  • Ride the Alaskan Way Viaduct before you never can: Cascade’s Emerald City Bike Ride is on April 8 (CurbedDJC).
  • The Red Line Rides, led by Merlin Rainwater, highlighted the racist history of Seattle’s land use and housing policies (KUOWNext CityMedium).
  • “Ghost bike for Marvin Miller, after 12 years,” (WSB).
  • Kathleen Emry, the owner of Free Range Cycles, is retiring and selling her Fremont shop (FB).
  • Path Less Pedaled video interview of Jan Heine, the Ballard-based proprietor of Compass Bicycles and Bicycle Quarterly (YouTube).
  • “Myth #7: Tubeless Tires Roll Faster,” (Jan Heine’s Blog).
  • “Sedro-Woolley teacher preps for cross-country ride,” (Skagit Valley Herald).
POLICY & INFRASTRUCTURE ACTION UPCOMING EVENTS​ NEWS
  • Bikeshare
    • A vandal is cutting the brake cables of bikeshare bikes (Seattle TimesCurbedQ13KIRO7KOMOKING5GeekWireStrangerSeattle PI).
    • JUMP is ready to jump into Seattle with its e-bikes (MyNW).
    • Bikeshare may soon expand to Bellevue, where they will require an e-bike-only fleet, capped at 400 for the initial pilot (GeekWireKIRO7MyNW).
    • Redmond plans to authorize bikeshare by May, following Seattle’s framework more closely than Bellevue’s e-bike-only pilot (Redmond Reporter).
    • In Ballard, SDOT is testing painted areas on sidewalks for bikeshare bikes (SDOTGeekWireCurbedMyBallardMyNWKING5SBB).
    • ofo recently received $866 million in investment funding from Alibaba (PSBJ).
    • Former SDOT Director Scott Kubly is now Chief Program Officer at LimeBike (Curbed).
  • Bicycle Parking
    • Seattle City Council’s PLUZ Committee approved new parking legislation, which includes significant improvements to long- and short-term bicycle parking within new development. However, the legislation continued to limit the requirements for bike parking in multi-family developments; after the first 50 long-term bike parking spaces, the the required amount is calculated at 75%.  You can still weigh-in by emailing the city council at council@seattle.gov.  The full council is expected to take its final vote on April 2. (UrbanistSCC Insight)
  • Downtown
    • Mayor Durkan & SDOT may be push the implementation of the 4th Ave Protected Bike Lane this year, and Cascade, SNG & SBB are pushing back (SBB).
  • North Seattle
    • SDOT will pave and improve the safety of several arterial streets in the Green Lake area in 2019, and is currently working on the roadway design plans now (Urbanist).
  • Central Seattle
    • The Washington Arboretum Loop Trail will have a grand opening celebration on April 8 (Madison Park Times).
  • South & West Seattle
    • SDOT and Metro have a survey for the Rainier Ave RapidRide. Despite question descriptions that indicate otherwise, none of the corridor design options provide protected bike lanes from the International District to Mt Baker or Columbia City, and the shown neighborhood greenways are essentially already planned as part of a separate project — so taking the survey is tricky if your goal is protected bike lanes on Rainier Avenue S (STBSDOT Survey).
    • “What ever happened to Phase 2 of SDOT’s 35th SW Safety Project?” (WSB).
  • Snohomish
    • A new 2.6-mile section of the White Horse Trail, which would’ve connected the Centennial Trail in Arlington to Trafton is no longer opening later this year due to likely landslides; another portion of the White Horse Trail was wiped out in the 2014 Oso landslide (Marysville GlobeEverett Herald).
SPORT UPCOMING EVENTS ARTICLES
  • “Olympia Orthopaedics Sponsors Local Athlete All the Way to the National Stage,” (South Sound Talk).
SAVE THE DATES BIKE INDUSTRY JOBS

Bike Retail
Sales Clerk, Aaron’s Bicycle Repair
Professional Bicycle Mechanic, Aaron’s Bicycle Repair
Bicycle Mechanic-in-Training, Aaron’s Bicycle Repair
Seasonal Bike Shop Mechanic, Bike Works
Seasonal Bike Shop Sales & Retail Assistant, Bike Works
Seasonal Recycle & Reuse Assistant, Bike Works
Mechanics & Retail Staff, Gregg’s Cycles
Nonprofit
Program Coordinator, Bike Works
Volunteer Program Assistant (Seasonal), Cascade
Major Taylor Ride Leader/Instructor, Cascade
Business Relations, Policy & Operations Manager, Commute Seattle
Government
Principal Planner / Strategic Advisor, SDOT (3/27)
Public Space Management Inspector, SDOT
Traffic Records & Data Supervisor, SDOT
Supervising Project Manager, SDOT
 Walk N Roll Teacher Assistant, Intercity Transit

STOLEN BIKES

In the past week, ten bikes were reported as stolen to SPD, not counting stolen bikes part of burglaries and assaults. Help fight back by (1) registering your bike on Bike Index, and (2) always locking up your bike with a U lock, even inside a bike room. Bicycle Security Advisors provides additional information on how to keep your bike safe.

TIP Subscribe

Subscribe here to get the Bike Happy newsletter delivered to your inbox every Thursday.

City wants to build a parking protected bike lane on Denver north of Lombard

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 15:13

(Graphic: PBOT)

North Denver Avenue could be the latest street in Portland to get a parking-protected bike lane.

The Kenton Neighborhood Association says the Portland Bureau of Transportation is shopping around that idea as part of a repaving project this summer. “Last Friday, PBOT went door-to-door between N Lombard and N Watts on N Denver,” stated a KNA blog post published March 13th, “and spoke with roughly 35 people at 20 addresses, finding most neighbors enthusiastic about the project.”

We’ve since confirmed that PBOT has set aside $938,000 from their local gas tax-funded Fixing Our Streets program to pave and make ADA upgrades on Denver Avenue from Lombard to Watts. As of late February the project was at 60 percent design. According to a document available on PBOT’s website, a “final decision related to parking removal remains and relates to public involvement.”

It’s likely that PBOT has found low utilization of the existing curbside lane used for on-street parking on these five blocks and they want to use the space more efficiently. They did a similar analysis on Willamette prior to installing a buffered bike lane on that street late last year. And in a project announced just last month the agency also cited low-parking utilization as rationale for restriping North Rosa Parks Way with a parking protected bikeway.

Parking protected bikeways already exist on NE Multnomah and SW Broadway near Portland State University, where the bike-only lane is curbside and auto parking spaces float in the street. The design would result in less space available for parking due to turning movements at intersections.

The parking-protected bike lane on SW Broadway adjacent PSU.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

On a flyer for the project the agency writes, “PBOT is taking the opportunity to improve safety conditions by adding protected bike lanes, safer pedestrian crossings, and a better waiting area for bus riders… We hope this project will increase access to and through the Kenton neighborhood for people of all ages and abilities.”

This section of Denver Avenue sits between Kenton’s commercial main street that was significantly upgraded via the Portland Development Commission’s Denver Streetscape Plan in 2010. That project widened the sidewalks and bike lanes.

North Denver south of Watts.

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Denver south of Lombard.

Kenton loves bikes! They’ve got these cool pole banners and a great bike shop right off Denver.

At the southern end of this project is the intersection with Lombard that ranks third highest for crashes involving walkers on PBOT’s High Crash Intersection list.

Denver is also a key connector between neighborhood greenways as evidenced by its inclusion in a family-friendly route to Smith and Bybee Lakes and Kelley Point Park we shared in 2017.

North of Kenton’s downtown, Denver already has a protected path and buffered bike lanes that connect to the regional trail network thanks to a 2015 project by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

As for this current project, the KNA says PBOT is still finalizing their plans. PBOT’s schedule says plans should be completed by this month and construction is set to start in June.

This project will be on the agenda of a meeting tonight (3/22) of the North Portland Land Use Group (a coalition of neighborhood reps) at 7:00 pm at the Historic Kenton Firehouse. It will also be discussed at the April 11th KNA meeting which is also held at 7:00 pm at the Firehouse. Stay tuned for an open house once the design is finalized. If you have feedback or questions, contact PBOT staffers Michael Serritella Mike.Serritella [at] ortlandoregon.gov or Mychal Tetteh Mychal.Tetteh [at] portlandoregon.gov.

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

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Another person killed while walking in east Portland

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 13:30

Where four people were killed while walking in Portland so far this year.

Another person has been killed while walking on a Portland road.

Details from the Portland Police Bureau are sparse. They say a man was trying to cross NE Sandy Boulevard near 122nd at around 9:12 pm last night when he was hit by someone driving a Subaru wagon that was going westbound.

According to our tally that’s the fourth person killed while walking in Portland this year and the seventh fatal collision overall. One person hit while walking across SE Powell (at 124th) with a friend on March 18th remains at the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Of the six non-freeway fatalities, five of them happened east of I-205.

Here are the names of victims and locations of the crashes so far:

02/01/18 – Yelena V. Loukas, 53 – SE 148th & Stark (walking)
02/06/18 – Jeremy J. Sowa, 43 – SE Powell & 141st (motorcycling)
02/11/18 – Perwin S. Moni, 34 – SE 122nd & Stark (driving)
03/09/18 – Wes Hatton, 65 – SE 30th & Belmont (walking)
03/11/18 – Fuk K Chan, 74 – SE Division & 115th (walking)
03/21/18 – Unknown – NE 122nd & Sandy (walking)

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Another pedestrian death in East Portland, rate so rapid I can hardly keep up. Kudos on lowering speed limits on side streets @PBOTinfo, but we REALLY need your help on arterials, where Portlanders are DYING #20isPlentyforEveryone https://t.co/mteliAvtUT

— sarah iannarone (@sarahforpdx) March 22, 2018

This steady trickle of tragedy — much of it from the high-speed arterials of outer east Portland where people bear an unfair burden of unfsafe infrastructure — leaves many people feeling a mix of horror, frustration, and outrage that more isn’t being done to combat it.

As we reported last month, Portland is already grappling with a spike in traffic deaths in 2017. City officials say they’ve built a strong “foundation” for safer outcomes in the future but it doesn’t seem like nearly enough.

As long as the threat we face grows at a faster rate than our efforts to mitigate it, I’m afraid we can expect these tragedies to continue.

Our leaders must step up and do more.

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

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Protect bicyclists and pedestrians by prohibiting blind self-driving vehicles from the streets

Biking Bis - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 13:02
Now that bicyclists and pedestrians in Tempe, Arizona, have learned they’re part of a failed lab experiment, perhaps it is time to restrict testing of self-driving cars on city streets. Tempe Police Vehicular Crimes Unit is actively investigating the details of this incident that occurred on March 18th. We will provide updated information regarding the …

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Freitag F155 Clapton: Individual By Day, Reflective By Night

Bike Hugger - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 11:13

I’ve acquired so many bags writing about bikes and cameras, that I could decide which to use just by venue. There’s a fancy one for going out dressed up and to meetings, the Chrome for hauling, and one to just toss stuff in and go work in a coffee shop. Also, a Thule to travel with and another Chrome to take with me on a shoot.

Now, Freitag, a fav brand ever since we visited Berlin has a high-vis bag, the F155 Clapton. According to the launch PR

Learning from a truck means learning how to commute: Our latest F155 CLAPTON backpack, then, is a rugged individualist designed for commuters traveling by bike or public transport by day. But when night comes, its reflective cat’s eyes ensure that wearers are safe and sound.

The truck reference cites Freitag’s use of old truck tarps as their material. Regards convenience and functionality, it’s packed full with all the experience Freitag has amassed making professional bike messenger bags over the past couple of decades:

  • A water-repellent backpack made of robust, individual and used truck tarps
  • Variable volume with special fold’n’rolltop mechanism for closing
  • Reduced sweating and massively increased comfort in wear thanks to 3D mesh padding on back and shoulder straps
  • All-round immediate visibility thanks to five smartly positioned reflectors
  • Interior featuring upholstered laptop compartment, outside with various docking sites for cycle helmet, u-lock and key fob together with a well-concealed, rapid-access external compartment below the extended belt center line

What I like most about Freitag is the individualism, because they’re cut from recycled truck tarps, no two are the same. Not only will the F155  stand out clearly from the gray mass of commuters.

When it gets dark, its reflecting contour markings let other other road users know you’re there.

Buy the F155 for $290 direct from Freitag. Also, read more about them in this book from Amazon.

The post Freitag F155 Clapton: Individual By Day, Reflective By Night appeared first on Bike Hugger.

Guest post: Candidly, TriMet (part two)

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 10:13

Aaron Brown.

This is the second of a two-part article by Aaron Brown, founder of No More Freeways PDX and former board president of Oregon Walks. The first part is here.

So, candidly, if freeway expansion is so obviously detrimental to the TriMet’s goals and ability to provide service to the region, why has TriMet supported it? Urban scholar Jacob Arbinder wrote in Democracy Journal last month about the bumbling, abysmal state of transportation governance in cities like New York and Boston. The piece is worth reading at length; he identifies the problem as a “broken political economy,” which is a fancy, academic way of stating that transit agencies suffer from a dearth of adequate democratic mechanisms for community input and budgetary accountability.

Put another way, if agencies, politicians and bureaucrats aren’t afraid of professional consequences for substandard service delivery, they have less incentive to stick their necks out to address the logistical and political circumstances preventing their buses and trains from running on time. To quote Arbinder:

Screengrab of Jacob Arbinder article.

“This is the crux of the urban mobility crisis: not broken infrastructure, but a broken political economy—one that includes transit but extends to issues far beyond it. Many thousands of voters do care about having fast, reliable trains and buses, and good advocacy organizations work to support their cause. But the number of politicians who believe the quality of the transit their constituents use will affect their chance of re-election seems to dwindle by the year….the implications of this problem suggest that progressives in urban America must not content themselves to effect change within the institutions of local government as they currently exist. Rather, they must articulate a vision for the future of their cities that begins with a wholesale reexamination of the structure of urban government itself.”

Arbinder doesn’t mention TriMet, but his criticisms match up neatly with what advocacy all-stars OPAL – Environmental Justice Oregon and their partners have been saying for years. Only one of seven TriMet Board of Directors tasked with oversight of the agency is a frequent transit rider; the board is appointed by Oregon’s Governor, and thereby significantly inoculated from the pressures to oversee successful governance faced by locally elected officials closer to the ground (and, therefore, constituents).

Old GM, new GM.
(Left: Neil McFarlane, photo by J. Maus/BikePortland – Right: Doug Kelsey, photo by TriMet)

The national search for Niel McFarlane’s replacement concluded with one finalist candidate for General Manager, who appears to be McFarlane’s hand-chosen successor. Whether it’s on issues of budgeting for policing, fare enforcement, paperless passes, or choices about which transportation megaprojects the agency chooses to support, it’s difficult to agree with McFarlane’s assertion (to The Oregonian) that TriMet as an agency currently functions as “a very responsive system” when community members have no meaningful mechanism to hold the agency accountable.

It’s difficult to agree with McFarlane’s assertion that TriMet as an agency currently functions as “a very responsive system” when community members have no meaningful mechanism to hold the agency accountable.

The most charitable take on TriMet’s willingness to consider the three-freeway-expansions-for-a light rail line bargain proposed last year stems from an agency with an outdated understanding of the region’s needs and electorate. TriMet would rather partner with ODOT to scheme for joint projects than disprove the notion the region would fund transit without also doling out freeway expansions to sprawl-hungry Washington and Clackamas counties.

This strategic conservatism is unwarranted; I’d argue it’s wholly counterproductive. Atlanta, Sacramento and San Diego have all recently lost regional transportation funding initiatives that focused on that elusive “balance” to placate suburban voters with freeway money. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Seattle won $120 billion and $54 billion for massive, transformative packages that were exclusively transit-oriented. Seattle’s example is especially notable; their robust victory in 2016 that will transform the Puget Sound is preceded by ballot box failure ten years earlier, with a package that included significant funding for roads. The inclusion of freeway funding in the 2006 package didn’t mollify suburban voters’ tax skepticism, and proved unpalatable to Seattle’s progressive voter base. It’s not difficult to imagine a parallel where Clackamas County’s tax skepticism, Washington County’s changing demographics and Multnomah County’s distaste for milquetoast climate policy leads to similar electoral defeat.

Besides, it’s worth reiterating: even a successful “political compromise” that wins at the ballot with massive new freeway expansion but loses at the hard facts of science is still a loss. The region’s still stuck in gridlock, we waste a billions in taxpayer money, and we continue to fry the planet. No one planning on being alive in the next few decades should consider this an acceptable outcome.

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In this light, freeways look increasing like pipelines, prisons, coal plants and landfills: massive public works that unnecessarily subsidize society’s most destructive, unsustainable and unhealthy practices and behaviors, funded by a well-connected, bipartisan lobby for government contracts that allocate burdens on depressingly familiar lines of race, class and geography. As an opinion piece in The Guardian put it, “Progress in the 21st century should be measured less by the new infrastructure you build than by the damaging infrastructure you retire.”

Too many advocacy groups, elected officials, and agencies are approaching our region’s woes from the unimaginative position of “what broken institutions do we have to work with” as opposed to instead asking “Where should our region be in the next twenty years, and what political coalition realignments and structural reforms must we make now to get there?”

Selling public transportation to Portlanders should be like selling hockey to Minnesotans. Aside from our oft-cited history as land-use innovators, the share of the Portland region who falls into the category of the Rising American Electorate continues to grow. Better transit service and access to walkable communities is a policy that the various factions of the Rising American Electorate enthusiastically support, given its overlapping connections to justice, housing, and climate. Turning these constituents out to vote for, say, college student bus passes is only a difficult lift if TriMet isn’t actively in cahoots with organizations who turn out community college students to vote.

Similarly, scholarship suggests America is seeing a wholly under-discussed resurgence of community organizing in the suburbs. The soccer moms (and after working on school bonds, I use the term “soccer mom” with revered endearment and appreciation) that hold their communities together with substantial unpaid volunteer work with PTAs, book clubs, and soccer teams are quite naturally talented at organizing community action; they do so every week just keeping their family’s errands on schedule and economic well-being afloat. They’ve successfully turned out the vote for numerous enormous school bonds across the region in the past few years, and have been instrumental in many of The Street Trust’s recent wins for Safe Routes to School funding.

Groups like Business for a Better Portland are beginning to challenge the notion that Portland’s business leaders are monolithically committed to last century’s broken infrastructure and austerity politics. Metro, the regional government lining up major regional campaigns for massive investments in housing, parks and transportation, would greatly benefit with TriMet as a partner in pushing for healthier, forward thinking solutions and retiring outdated ideas.

Until political careers are made or broken by one’s ability to integrate the voices of these political factions into TriMet’s decision-making and visioning process, the entity will remain wholly incapable of directing resources towards investments and policies, and campaigns for public support that serve these needs. A TriMet governed with these interests in mind would understand the need for greater skepticism for freeway boondoggles. This is the sort of accountability that OPAL is demanding from TriMet; the simple, radical notion that, to quote Saint Jane (Jacobs), “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

Our region’s transportation system is the connective tissue to communities across four counties and two states. It’s difficult to overstate how firmly the efficacy of our streets, buses and sidewalks fundamentally shapes our economy, our communities, our health and well-being, our lives. Too many advocacy groups, elected officials, and agencies are approaching our region’s woes from the unimaginative position of “what broken institutions do we have to work with” as opposed to instead asking “where should our region be in the next twenty years, and what political coalition realignments and structural reforms must we make now to get there?” As our planet veers into climate calamity and our region experiences continued growth and inequality, anything short of an honest reassessment of which infrastructure and programs our local government should support — and which to retire — is simply institutionalized and intergenerational theft and violence.

And candidly, if Mr. McFarlane and other top regional leaders have spent so many years navigating these agencies and they still fail to see how crucial bold leadership will be in the decades ahead as Portland navigates these overlapping challenges; well, it appears to be an appropriate time to wish them all well on their future endeavors. Let’s hope that TriMet’s next GM and future Board appointments choose to address these structural shortcomings and align themselves as accomplices in the creation of fulfilling communities and faster commutes — instead of freeway congestion.

If you’d like to get involved with OPAL’s campaign to address TriMet’s lagging engagement with the community, check out their website (and be sure to chip in a couple bucks to OPAL while you’re at it). They’re holding a rally at the next TriMet Board hearing at 9:00am, March 28 in downtown Portland.

If you’d like to help us stop this dumb freeway, check out the No More Freeways website, and throw us a couple bucks if you’d like us to mail you a button.

— Aaron Brown has held leadership roles in campaigns to raise over $950 million in local funding for public schools, sidewalks and regional parks, including the 2016 Gas Tax and the 2017 Portland Public School Bond. He served as board president of Oregon Walks for nearly four year. He lives in North Portland and gets around town with his Surly Crosscheck and the Number 4 Bus. And yes, on occasion, he drives. He’s online at @ambrown on Twitter and his personal website.

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Weekend Event Guide: De Ronde, La Doyenne, ’20 is Plenty’ sign pick-ups, and more

Bike Portland - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 08:30

Are you ready?
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This is the weekend Portland pays homage to the grand Spring Classics with its own suffer-fests: De Ronde and La Doyenne.

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

We hear both rides will not be formally organized this year like they’ve been in the past; but they’re on the calendar just the same. If you want to take part in this tradition and notch your participation in one of Portland’s cycling rites of passage, come on out with your climbing (or walking!) legs and give it a shot.

Whatever you do, don’t wait for “good” weather… Embrace the weather we have! And enjoy yourself no matter what you choose to do.

Saturday, March 24th

Mudslinger XC MTB Race – Blodgett, Oregon (outside of Corvallis)
This is a classic Oregon off-road race that’s been held for over 30 years (!) and it’s sure to put a smile — and probably some mud — on your face. Come out, compete, and make a weekend out of it! More info here.

De Ronde PDX – 10:00 am in NW Industrial
The hardest ride of the year and a veritable Portland Spring Classic, unfortunately the De Ronde is officially cancelled for 2018. We’re posting it anyways in keeping with tradition because the route is there and just waiting for you to conquer. More info here.

20 is Plenty Yard Sign Pick-Up – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Lane Middle School (7200 SE 60th Ave3)
Jump on the safe neighborhood streets bandwagon and grab some of these bright orange signs. Coordinate with your neighbors to create a phalanx against selfish and rude people who speed through residential streets. More info here.

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La Doyenne – 9:00 am from Ovation Coffee in The Pearl or 10:00 am from route start at SE Flavel and Knapp
Modeled after De Ronde (and arguably as difficult with 50 miles and 7,200 feet of climbing), this is Day 2 of the Portland Spring Classics Series. It’s also not officially happening this year, but we’ve put it up out of respect for tradition and for those who want to do it on their own. Follow the lions! More info here.

The Dark Doyenne – 10:00 am at SE Flavel and Knapp
A different, dirtier, and darker interpretation of the La Doyenne ride created by those amazing wayfinders at Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM). Explore the buttes of east Gresham on a 40 mile, 4,500 feet elevation-gain loop. Big and knobby tires recommended! More info here.

Rough Stuff Ramble – 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at Woodlawn Park
Join the Shawn from the Urban Adventure League for an adventurous “romp” around greater northeast. He’ll share his best backways and secret routes on a relatively moderate 15-mile route. More info here.

20 is Plenty Yard Sign Pick-Up – 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Bridlemile Elementary School (4300 SW 47th Drive)
You know the drill. Show up. Grab some signs. Erect the signs in strategic places. Watch how much calmer your street gets. 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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Guest post: Candidly, TriMet (part one)

Bike Portland - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 13:31

This two-part article is by Aaron Brown, founder of No More Freeways PDX and former board president of Oregon Walks.

TriMet has appointed Doug Kelsey as their new General Manager. Neil McFarlane stepped down last month, after serving in the top role for the Portland region’s transit agency for nearly a decade. A few weeks ago, The Oregonian conducted an exit interview with McFarlane. His comments are instructive and they help illuminate the disconnect between our region’s bold aspirations for twenty-first century infrastructure and the governing agencies that appear too hamstrung by ineffective transparency and accountability measures to provide the services our region wants.

His comments about a certain freeway project caught my eye:

Q: Last year, you spoke in support of several highway expansion projects as part of a proposed TriMet ballot measure. Do you think those projects are a good idea in the absence of a transit project, or a political necessity to get the transit project through?

A: I talked about them as a basket, but I do think those are good projects. TriMet has always advanced sort of a multimodal agenda and recognized that we’re part of the solution, not the only solution.

Candidly, I sometimes still don’t get some of the objection to a project like Rose Quarter. [A $450 million proposal would add auxiliary lanes and shoulders to Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter.] We’re essentially widening a pinch point to be reasonable in terms of the ons and offs, and movements from one freeway to another.

We expect that the top brass at TriMet at least possess passing familiarity with our coalition’s opposition to this mega-project. We’ve rehashed our talking points to anyone who will listen, and will likely do so for years to come until the region’s leaders come to their senses.

Instead, we’ll speak, you know, candidly, about the absurdity of TriMet’s willingness to be an accomplice to this boondoggle, and what it says about the agency’s current priorities and understanding of our region’s forthcoming mobility challenges.

Candidly, the reallocation of billions of taxpayer subsidies into transportation investments that serve our communities better than freeways is nothing short of imperative for the success of our region’s myriad public health, climate, housing, congestion relief and anti-poverty initiatives. Any transportation investment that doesn’t start with the explicit intention to chip away at automobile use as the primary method to access jobs, education, and shopping has significant consequences for a planet with literal melting ice caps, a region with worsening congestion, and a city ostensibly committed to equity. Perpetuating the continued necessity of automobile ownership is especially unhelpful to the growing number of people in our region who are unable to own or operate a car due to age, (dis)ability, citizenship, or cost. With our changing (and aging) demographics, the number of Oregonians in these categories will only increase (to say nothing about waning consumer preference or the rise of autonomous vehicles).

Why does this matter? Well, candidly, TriMet’s general “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” stance about ODOT’s continued push for this outdated infrastructure is all the more baffling because it’s TriMet’s employees, customers, and the agency itself who stand to benefit the most from any removal of this antiquated, vestigial subsidy.

Every dollar our region wrestles away from ODOT’s freeway expansion plans is a dollar we can spend on infrastructure that addresses these anti-poverty, climate and public health initiatives. Whether spent on mammoth undertakings like a downtown light rail tunnel or on humble, smaller investments like bus-priority intersections or curb cuts, this paradigm shift makes TriMet that much more alluring as an option for Oregonians’ daily errands. $450 million represents a cost of over 7 times Portland’s 2016 municipal gas tax, nearly twice the affordable housing bond, nearly 1,000,000 curb cuts and 100,000 pedestrian signals or approximately $430 for every Oregon family of four. TriMet expects to make $120 million off of farebox revenue in 2017; the funds for this freeway expansion could fund free passes for TriMet’s current riders for almost four years. An agency that championed its ridership and stated role as a literal and metaphorical regional connector should advocate for more thorough skepticism of ODOT’s needlessly counterproductive freeway expansion boondoggles that both explicitly and implicitly hinder TriMet’s capacity to serve their customers.

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(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

For one example, TriMet should be loudly championing not only the institution of congestion pricing on freeways, but specific language in policy dictating that revenue raised from pricing is redirected into funding complementary to C-TRAN and TriMet service. Forget the logistical, justice-based and environmental reasons for funneling this revenue into increased people-moving capacity; it’s in TriMet’s own interest to clamor for a bigger slice of the pie, as an agency supposedly aiming to deliver service to more of its constituents as a competitive, enjoyable, reliable transportation option.

And to preempt a familiar retort, the “colors of money” argument that implies TriMet’s hands are tied by fiscal stipulations on congestion pricing revenue is a bit disingenuous. As ATU’s [TriMet’s union] Andrew Riley pointed out last year, TriMet is remarkably capable at maneuvering fiscal limitations for the agency’s priorities in what Riley asserts is the “elaborate shell game” of their budget.

Nothing but a lack of political leadership is preventing TriMet as an agency from being a more outspoken civic leader for reform of institutions like the Oregon Highway Trust fund. These reforms would help unlock more money for buses for East Portland instead of freeway lanes for Clark County’s exurban sprawl.

Given this perspective, TriMet’s riders should wonder just whose interests are served by this expansion. The senior citizen in Gresham, the single parent in Aloha, the new family in Kenton, the wheelchair-using teenager in the Jade District, the PCC student cursing under her breath waiting for a connection to the Sylvania campus – they’re all already mobility-limited and cash-strapped, and it’s difficult to imagine a transportation project more irrelevant to their needs than a half-billion dollar freeway expansion that won’t make their commutes any faster, more reliable, or safer.

These are Oregonians who would benefit tremendously from TriMet flexing some muscle and more deliberately interrogating the agency’s historic alignment with the twentieth-century freeway builders over the twenty-first century affordable housing, climate, youth, senior citizens, YIMBY, disability, immigrant, biking, walking, traffic safety advocates working in concert for a bolder, greener, more prosperous vision for our transportation in communities.

Transit use is stagnant in Portland right now.
(Graphic: PBOT Enhanced Transit Corridor plan)

Candidly, the fact that TriMet is supporting freeway expansion instead of aligning itself with its constituents offers a window into the political and governing calculus that might explain why the agency is witnessing flatlining ridership despite a burgeoning economy, worsening congestion, and a population eager to take more transit. That McFarlane characterizes support of freeway expansion as part of a regional “balanced solution” is like me stating my diet of hamburgers, ice cream and the occasional salad is a balanced diet. I shouldn’t get much credit just for kale if I’m serious about eating healthier, and Oregon’s governing agencies shouldn’t get credit for a package of investments that collectively fail to prepare us for demographic, climate, and economic upheavals coming our way. In this extended metaphor, I’m frustrated TriMet don’t see the moral, economic and governing imperative to speak up a little louder about the importance and wisdom of this region eating more greens.

What can be done about TriMet’s support of the budget? Stay tuned; part two of this series will look at the political and structural opportunities advocates see in the next few weeks, months, and years to encourage TriMet to better serve the Portland region. –> UPDATE: Here’s part two.

— Aaron Brown, @ambrown on Twitter

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A community blooms around fixed-gear freestyle riding

Bike Portland - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 12:34

Ramon Antonio found a nice jump line amidst the cherry blossoms in Waterfront Park yesterday.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Ramon Antonio (left), Matt Reyes, and Devin Tolman.

A reunion of old friends has sparked a resurgence in Portland’s fixed-gear freestyle scene.

Matt Reyes, Ramon Antonio, and Devin Tolman first met through the San Francisco Bay Area cycling scene. Lovers of fixed-gear freestyle, a discipline that combines flatland BMX tricks with the speed and grace of fixed-gear road bikes, the trio is happily established in Portland. Now they want to connect with other riders and create a community around fixed-gear riding similar to the vibrant scene they left behind in their previous home.

I caught up with them under sunny blue skies and cherry blossoms in Waterfront Park yesterday.

Matt Reyes.

I knew Matt before he rolled up because I’ve watched a few of his jaw-dropping videos online. I’ve also become quite attached to his little white Maltipoo named Ernie who rides in Matt’s backpack, and who I’m not ashamed to admit I know follow on Instagram. Known to his thousands of fans on social media as Slumworm, Matt’s style on two wheels is a fluid, powerful, and exciting mix of derring-do and creativity. Reyes moved to Portland about eight months ago to follow his job as content creator and graphic designer at Chrome (the bag and apparel company that moved their headquarters from SF to Portland in January 2017).

Like many people who love bicycles and come to Portland, it’s riding with friends that helps them land on their feet.

“Moving up here,” Matt said, pointing to Devin and Ramon, “These were my friends who lived in Portland.” “I figured, at least I know I have Devin and I have Ramon — two guys who both ride fixed-gear freestyle who I know will want to go out and ride and do things, and be on filming missions and go exploring and getting kicked out and yelled at all the time.”

Ramon Antonio.

I met Ramon for the first time eight years ago when I happened upon him and some friends doing tricks under the Burnside Bridge (one of their regular spots). That was right about the time he started Still Pour, a loosely organized, “non-profit community of shred” that organizes meet-ups and sells a bit of merchandise to earn pizza and beer money.

The name Still Pour was inspired by, you guessed it, Portland’s seemingly incessant rainfall. “We started under the Steel Bridge,” Devin recalled. “We were hiding from the rain. It was still pouring, always pouring!”

Devin Tolman.

Energized by having his old friend back in town, Ramon now uses the Still Pour Instagram account to announce rides in hopes growing the scene. “In the last couple of months we’ve been posting group rides and getting people under the bridge to hang out. That network of two [Devin and Matt] has grown to like 30 or 40 people all in just a month or two.”

Matt is trying to build a community like the one he had in SF. “If you’re a new kid that comes to town, speaking for myself, where’s the point of entry? Where the outlet? Where’s the place you can meet up and find like-minded people who are doing this thing? There wasn’t anything, so we’re giving people that entry point.” Matt says the idea is to be pick out a well-known location, hang out, have fun, and do tricks. “It’s been awesome to see kids who just started becoming really close friends with guys who’ve been doing this a really long time.”

Group shot from a video premiere party and ride back last month.
(Photo: Matt Reyes/>a href=”http://www.wheeltalkfixed.com”>WheelTalk Fixed)

“We want to meet more people, grow the community,” Devin added. “Everyone feels like they’re riding by themselves, then all of the sudden we come together and it’s like, ‘Oh my god!’ now the network is huge. Everyone’s so stoked to realize it’s as big as it is.”

Ramon, Matt and Devin are planning a big fixed gear freestyle jam this summer and I have a feeling we’ll see them a lot during Pedalpalooza.

If you want to get into this type of riding, or find more people to ride with, follow Still Pour on Instagram. To see Matt Reyes’ content from the streets of Portland, check out WheelTalkFixed.com

UPDATE: The location where these images were taken is the Japanese American Historical Plaza, which was created to, “raise greater public awareness about the diversity of cultural experiences in America.” Some readers have expressed that jumping bicycles and doing tricks in this plaza is disrespectful. I appreciate that criticism and will no longer publish stories that encourage this type of riding in this plaza.

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

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