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Stoked Spoke 2019 kicks off Wed. with ‘Women, Trans and Femme Riders in Early Cycling History’

Seattle Bike Blog - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 12:18

Seattle’s annual bicycle adventure presentation series Stoked Spoke kicks off 2019 Wednesday with a unique look back at the early days of American cycling by Tessa Hulls.

Swift Industries (a SBB sponsor) is once again hosting the series at the Rhino Room on Capitol Hill. You can catch the first event of the season Wednesday. Doors at 6:30, show at 7. The venue is 21+.

Hulls is not just a storied bicycle adventurer herself, she has also become a historian focused on early women, trans and femme bike riders. As she told the Stranger in a recent interview, she got tired of people telling her women can’t go on long bike trips alone, so she dove into history and found women who have been doing so ever since bicycling arrived to this country.

“We’re kicking off the 2019 Stoked Spoke Season with something a little different, and especially powerful,” Swift Industries wrote in a recent blog post. “Please join us for an evening with Tessa Hulls, lifetime creator, seeker and adventurer, as she takes us on an adventure through the history of Women, Trans and Femme vanguards in cycling. Tessa shares her research through a delightfully crafted narrative and artistically dynamic timeline, it’s a real gift for our communities!”

Hulls’ talk is a special first edition of the Stoked Spoke series, which typically features several people sharing their bike adventures, sharing information and answering questions. You can catch the next two evenings in the series February 27 and March 27.

The Monday Roundup: Black Kids on Bikes, Islabikes for older people, ‘surveillance capitalism’ and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/28/2019 - 11:08

Here are the most noteworthy things we came across in the past seven days (thanks for all your submissions!)…

Partisan mobility divide: We all know the nation is more divided than ever politically; but did you realize this split might also have a parallel when it comes to how we get around?

Inequality and e-bikes: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is perpetuating a racist and xenophobic system by making some e-bikes legal and others (used by delivery workers) illegal says Dr. Do Jun Lee of IntersectionalRiding.

Profiling: This story about an LAPD unit that disproportionately stopped black drivers is what Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force was afraid of when they opted to not prioritize enforcement.

Black Kids on Bikes: Streetsblog LA has a great story and photos about a group of riders from South Central who took part in the annual MLK Day Parade.

Bikes for older people: Islabikes made a name for its high-quality bikes for kids. Now they’ve launched the “Icon” range which is made specifically for older people. Don’t miss the excellent promo video — it’s a fantastic bit of bicycle marketing.

Portland and “surveillance capitalism”: Late last year Portland City Council voted to allow PBOT to use a new transportation planning data tool that tracks where we go. It’s supposed to protect our privacy, but some experts are skeptical.

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A vision for dedicated lanes: A co-founder of Waze has an interesting idea for how to alleviate traffic jams — and several of his points actually make pretty good sense.

Dangerous by Design: Smart Growth America released their latest report on the amount of walkers killed by motor vehicle users and the findings are not good at all.

Climate change politics: U.S. House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — arguably the most influential lawmaker on Capitol Hill right now — warns that “the world will end in 12 years” if we don’t up the urgency around climate change.

E-scooter lawsuit: Something to watch in San Diego: A group of San Diego, California residents with disabilities have sued the city over the proliferation of electric scooter on city sidewalks.

Traffic sucks: As we debate ways to alleviate congestion, here’s a good roundup of research that shows how bad it is for our mental health.

“There are basically no cars”: This article about what happened after the Norwegian city of Oslo removed 700 parking spaces from its downtown core make me want to visit the place very badly.

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

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Police stopped 34 people during a ‘crosswalk enforcement mission’: Here’s what they got cited for

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/25/2019 - 13:29

East Glisan at 134th Place.

The City of Portland recently conducted one of their regularly scheduled “crosswalk enforcement missions” (a.k.a. traffic stings) on Northeast Glisan at 134th Place. Portland Police Bureau officers made about one stop every three minutes during the 90-minute mission and handed out a mix of citations and warnings for everything from careless driving to failure to wear a seatbelt.

These missions aren’t new. We’ve reported on them since 2008 (when a PBOT staffer acting as a decoy was nearly run down). As per usual, PBOT announces the location beforehand (in this case, a daunting section of Glisan that’s slated for safety updates this coming spring) and then issues a follow-up statement about how many stops where made. This time however, they shared a specific list of infractions. The list gives us a tiny window into the rampant abuse of traffic laws that happens all over our city every hour of every day.

On Wednesday, Traffic Division officers made 34 stops, issued 28 citations and gave six warnings (15 of the people stopped opted to take the driver safety education class in lieu of fines). Here’s the breakdown of violations:

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Failure to Stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian: 12 citations and 5 warnings

Failure to Carry proof of insurance: 3 citations

Passing a vehicle stopped for a crosswalk: 1citation

Driving With a Suspended License : 5 citations

Failure to wear a seatbelt: 1 warning

Driving uninsured: 2 citations

Cell phone use: 2 citations

Switched plates: 1 citation

Failure to Register Vehicle: 1 citation

Careless Driving: 1 citation

Keep in mind that the intersection of 134th Place has a marked and signed crossing that includes a median island. Imagine how many people they would have caught if this was held at a completely unmarked crosswalk.

Thankfully PBOT has changes planned for this stretch of Glisan that should improve driver behavior and make it safer to use and cross. Learn more about the upcoming project here.

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

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Bicycle rider injured in right hook collision on SE 7th at Hawthorne

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/25/2019 - 09:57

Scene from the collision.
(Photo: E.S.)

Two people were involved in a collision while using Southeast 7th Avenue around 1:30 pm yesterday. One person was riding a bicycle and the other was driving a car.

The Portland Police Bureau didn’t give us many details; but they’ve confirmed it happened and they say the bicycle rider has non life-threatening injuries. Images and updates posted to Twitter show a bicycle pinned under the right front wheel of a mid-sized Volkswagen SUV. It happened on the southeast corner of Hawthorne and 7th. The auto user was going northbound on 7th and was trying to turn right on Hawthorne. Police and an ambulance responded to the scene. The bicycle rider was conscious before being taken to a local hospital.

Current conditions of SE 7th looking north at Hawthorne with an “X” marking the spot of the collision.

The current cross-section here allows auto users to drive in five lanes (two are for parking their cars). There’s a five-foot wide, unprotected bike lane with green coloring as it approaches the intersection. There’s also a bike box here (it’s unclear whether the collision happened on a green signal or a red signal).

Central City in Motion project #3. This rendering shows 7th one block north of Hawthorne.

Right hooks have plagued Portland for many years. It’s a problem that could be significantly mitigated with more protective space and material between the bike lane and the adjacent lane. And that’s exactly what the Portland Bureau of Transportation has planned for this section of SE 7th. Project #3 of the recently adopted Central City in Motion Plan calls for protected bike lanes on 7th between the Lloyd District and SE Division (at the Orange Line MAX). The project is on the first-phase implementation list that’s scheduled to be built in 1-5 years.

We’ll update this post if/when we get more details from police.

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

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A few images from a week in Baja California Sur

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 13:09

Two-way protected bikeway on Calle Blvd Antonio Mijares in San Jose del Cabo.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I’m just back from my first-ever trip to Baja California Sur. I was not there for work; but I did manage to snap a few photos of people on bikes and various infrastructure and street scenes.

My significant other Juli (the one whose grace and patience has allowed me to work on this blog for the past 13 years) and I split our week between Todos Santos and Los Cabos. The southern tip of Baja is a fantastic place and I highly recommend visiting. I can’t believe I’ve lived half of my life and am just now discovering this part of the world!

Before I jump back into the news and our other offerings, I have a few images that I thought some of you might appreciate…

The shots above are a protected bikeway on Calle Blvd Antonio Mijares, a major thoroughfare in San Jose del Cabo (which, along with Cabo San Lucas, makes up Los Cabos, or “The Capes” in English). I didn’t see too many people using them, but I wasn’t there in the evening when most people are out and about. The on-street version has a similar method of protection — plastic posts and curbs — as the City of Portland has used. It looked similar to Better Naito, but not quite as wide. The off-street version was quite nice. Biking space was visually separated from walking space with green coloring. This bikeway is about 1.75 miles long and connects to many important destinations for tourists and locals alike.

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The scenes above are from Plaza Mijares, the main square in San Jose del Cabo. This place was a big highlight of the trip for me. I can never get enough of large, well-designed and well-used public plazas, no matter what country I’m in. At night, Plaza Mijares comes alive with artists, food vendors and locals. In one of those images you can see a father teaching his young daughter how to ride a bike. There were several couples using the plaza as a roller-skating rink, teens flying around on long skateboards, people practicing traditional dances, and so much more. Great public space is so valuable. I love seeing it used and appreciated by so many different types of people.

While walking around the neighborhoods in San Jose del Cabo I spotted this “Exclusivo” parking spot outside someone’s home. It didn’t look official; but who knows? The person even put the make, model, and license plate number of the car the space is exclusively for.

One thing I noticed throughout Los Cabos was the ample space given to people with disabilities. These spaces on Playa el Chileno (a public beach south of San Jose del Cabo) are for people using mobility devices. They are at the end of a wide and gradual boardwalk. I’ve never seen anything like this on a beach before. Major kudos to the local government for doing this.

Nicely marked spaces for parking bicycles right near the main entrance of Playa el Chileno.

This dude hanging out on Playa los Cerritos (a rustic and relatively undeveloped town near Todos Santos) had it all figured out. He rolled up with his board, chair, tent and all his other trappings strapped to his bike.

These last two are just street scenes from Todos Santos, a cool small town on the west cape that I hope to return to someday. I hear mountain biking in the nearby Sierra de la Laguna mountains is really good.

Thanks for indulging me. I have a bunch of catching up to do. Sorry for the missed emails, events, and stories these past couple days (I did manage to post a few things while away). I’m eager to get back to work!

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

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Commuters take to bikes to avoid “Seattle Squeeze”

Biking Bis - Thu, 01/24/2019 - 11:28

Automatic bicycle counters on the Spokane Street Bridge below the West Seattle Bridge are showing a spike in bike traffic since the closure of the Highway 99 Viaduct last week.

The rate of bicyclists opting for two wheels to get from West Seattle to downtown has jumped to numbers equal to typical spring and fall …

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy launches campaign to build trail from Seattle to DC – UPDATED

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 01/23/2019 - 15:04

Map from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

“The Great American Rail-Trail” could stretch from Seattle to Washington D.C., entirely off-road and with gentle grades. This is the dream the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (“RTC”) announced today, noting that about half the 4,000-mile route is already complete in some form thanks to decades of advocacy work in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Though the organization says it “will take years to complete,” they have spent a year and a half analyzing the possibilities before determining that it is “viable.”

“Analyses that were used to confirm the project’s viability included a thorough assessment of route options using RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of open trails nationwide; analyses of state and local trail plans; and discussions with hundreds of local trail partners and state agencies representing all of the trails along the potential route,” the organization wrote in a press release (posted in full below). A more developed route concept will be announced in the spring.

The Washington State segment would, of course, follow the recently-renamed Palouse-to-Cascades State Park Trail (formerly known as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail or the Iron Horse Trail). So in order for the Great American Rail-Trail to become reality, Washington State has some work to do. The PTC Trail (what are we calling this thing for short?) is fairly high quality from Rattlesnake Lake to the Columbia River, which is the most difficult stretch due to the mountain pass and all the tunnel repairs completed a few years ago. So we’ve already done the hardest part. But the Beverly Bridge across the Columbia River and the long stretch across the state to Tekoa and the Idaho border need a lot of infrastructure work and additional services (like better drinking water access, toilets, etc). You can make the trip today, but it’s pretty rugged and requires some significant detouring.

UPDATE: There is a funding proposal going through the state legislature right now to rehab and reopen the Beverly Bridge, one of the most important gaps in the cross-state trail. The Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition has a more details (PDF) and a call to action if you want to help make it and other improvements happen:

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has proposed $5,575,000 toward the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) in the 2019-2021 State Budget for rehabilitation of this significant structure. Opening the Beverly Bridge for non motorized use enjoys broad public support, including many statewide and national organizations interested
in recreation, historic preservation, and revitalization of rural communities. Rehabilitation of the Beverly Bridge represents a critical investment in Washington State tourism, continuing to enrich the lives of Washingtonians.

In order to connect to Seattle, work is needed to complete and connect the Mountains-to-Sound Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, which connects to the PTC Trail at Rattlesnake Lake. Bellevue has work to do on a couple segments (especially in Eastgate), and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail needs a connection to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail (in my experience, this is the worst gap). And, of course, Seattle still needs to connect the MTS Trail the last little stretch from Beacon Hill to Elliott Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

But all of this is doable. Sure, it’s going to take an enormous amount of organizing and collaboration across a dozen states, DC and probably the Federal government to make it happen. And as Washington Bikes learned from the effort to create USBR 10, organizing will need to happen in communities all along the trail corridor. This is an enormous lift, though this work has the added bonus of spreading the word about bike tourism and bike travel in general.

With regional trail projects like the Eastside Rail Corridor (or whatever we are going to start calling it soon) dramatically expanding the reach of the trail network locally, it’s a pretty cool idea to have a national trail run straight through it all. Maybe then we’ll all just start calling the PTC Trail and MTS Trail the “Great American Trail” instead.

From RTC:

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) today announced its vision for the Great American Rail-Trail, an unprecedented commitment to creating an iconic piece of American infrastructure that will connect nearly 4,000 miles of rail-trail and other multiuse trails from Washington, D.C., to Washington State.

RTC is committing to this project after more than 18 months of analysis and collaboration with local trail partners and state agencies whose work is critical to the success of this significant undertaking. Analyses that were used to confirm the project’s viability included a thorough assessment of route options using RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of open trails nationwide; analyses of state and local trail plans; and discussions with hundreds of local trail partners and state agencies representing all of the trails along the potential route.

“At RTC, we’ve known the potential of a coast-to-coast rail-trail for decades,” said Keith Laughlin, RTC president. “But before we committed to bringing this vision to life, we wanted to be certain it was viable. With open trails comprising more than 50 percent of the potential route, combined with strong local and state enthusiasm, we are now confident that the Great American Rail-Trail can be completed. RTC is ready to lead the effort to connect the trail across communities, counties and state lines to create a seamless off-road biking and walking journey for the country.”

Separated from vehicle traffic, Great American Rail-Trail travelers will be able to experience the diversity of America’s landscape, its people and its places as the route traverses 12 states moving west from its start in Washington, D.C. While the full route for the trail won’t be released until spring 2019, RTC today revealed the 12 gateway trails that make the Great American Rail-Trail possible.

  • Capital Crescent Trail, Washington, D.C., and Maryland: This 11-mile trail—and the Great American Rail-Trail—begins in Georgetown, near the historic landmarks of the nation’s capital.
  • Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Washington, D.C., and Maryland: The nearly 185-mile trail connects Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, featuring canal locks, lock houses, aqueducts and their canal structures.
  • Panhandle Trail, Pennsylvania and West Virginia: The 29-mile trail heads west from the Pittsburgh suburbs into northern West Virginia, serving as a literal gateway between the states.
  • Ohio to Erie Trail, Ohio: The 270-mile trail cuts diagonally across the state, connecting two major waterways, the Ohio River in Cincinnati and Lake Erie in Cleveland.
  • Cardinal Greenway, Indiana: RTC’s 2018 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee stretches northwest for 61-miles through rural Indiana, making it the longest rail-trail in the state.
  • Hennepin Canal Parkway, Illinois: The 100-mile-plus trail parallels the early-20th-century canal and runs west from the Illinois River to the Rock River.
  • Cedar Valley Nature Trail, Iowa: This 52-mile pathway, one of the first rail-trail conversions in the state, follows the Cedar River and connects Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids.
  • Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail, Nebraska: One of the longest rail-trails in the country, this 219-mile trail traverses rural Nebraska, connecting small towns and offering views of the High Plains.
  • Casper Rail Trail, Wyoming: This 6-mile trail is an important connector in one of the largest cities in Wyoming.
  • Headwaters Trail System, Montana: The nearly 12-mile trail connects to Missouri Headwaters State Park, where three rivers meet to form the Missouri River: the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin.
  • Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, Idaho: This nearly 72-mile trail runs through Idaho’s panhandle, delivering breathtaking vistas through the state’s forests.
  • Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, Washington: Another of the nation’s longest rail-trail conversions, this trail spans more than 200 miles across Washington and marks the terminus of the Great American Rail-Trail.

“The Great American Rail-Trail is a bold vision—one that will take years to complete. The investment of time and resources necessary to complete this trail will be returned many times over as it takes its place among the country’s national treasures,” said Laughlin. “As we embark on the journey to complete the Great American Rail-Trail, we embark on the single greatest trail project in the history of the U.S. One that comes with an important legacy of unity, ambition and access to the outdoors for the nation. One that represents an opportunity to do something big for America.”

The Great American Rail-Trail is a signature project of RTC and the most ambitious in its portfolio of TrailNation projects—the organization’s initiative to encourage the rapid replication of regional trail networks across the country. The trail was first envisioned in the late 1980s by RTC co-founder David Burwell, and for decades has been an underpinning of the organization’s strategy to create a nationwide network of public trails.

For more details about the Great American Rail-Trail, visit www.greatamericanrailtrail.org.

Even a skewed Seattle Times poll finds little support for more driving

Seattle Bike Blog - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 13:52

Demographics from the Elway/Seattle Times survey. These are not representative of King County or Seattle.

You may have seen a headline from the Seattle Times going around this weekend saying that people in Seattle and Kind County don’t like bike lanes. Well, it’s not really as simple as the headline might suggest.

I’ve been thinking about the poll for a couple days now, and we should get one thing out the way: It’s never great to see bike lane support in any context from any sample of the population be below 50 percent. The Elway/Seattle Times poll found 40 percent of respondents in Seattle and 36 percent in King County support more bike lanes. Those aren’t devastating numbers (did anyone think bike lanes were not divisive?), but they sure aren’t great.

So while this post will dive into some serious caveats, let’s be clear that there is still work to do to get more bike lane buy-in from more neighbors of all ages.

But it is important to note that just over half the survey sample came from landline phone calls, and reporter David Gutman notes that 75 percent of respondents were homeowners, a far higher rate than the 57 percent countywide rate. Homeownership and the presence of a landline means these results are going to be quite skewed older and wealthier. Indeed, the majority of respondents were older than 50. A quarter of respondents were 65 or older, but the 2010 Census found that only 11 percent of county residents were in that age bracket. That’s a huge difference that’s going to have a big impact on the results.

Since we already know that bike stuff is less popular among older populations, it’s not surprising to see bike lanes get lower marks in this survey. The Times didn’t release a breakdown by demographic, but I bet bike lanes got less popular with each age bracket increase. Bike advocates and organizers should be looking for ways to make sure they are reaching people of all ages, so that could be a worthy takeaway from this survey.

Nearly 40 percent of respondents made $100,000 or more annually. Renters and young people are dramatically underrepresented here. And though the Times did not publish racial demographics, black homeownership has plummeted in the Seattle region in recent decades.

Elway is a respected survey firm and Gutman is a solid reporter. But getting an accurate poll is very difficult and expensive these days, and it’s especially hard to reach renters. It just is not accurate to present the opinions of older homeowners as though they are the opinions of the general population. A person who rents is just as important as someone who owns a home, so their opinion is also just as important. I mean, one of the ideas that got even lower marks in survey than bike lanes was allowing more apartment buildings that have no car parking. People looking for cheaper rent are going to have a much different opinion about that than homeowners who already have a place to live, so that hardly seems fair.

Gutman notes some of the shortcomings of the sample in the story, but that nuance was lost on the headline writer. And since many people don’t get past the headline, now there are ton of readers who think nobody likes bike lanes. And that is not true.

The context of the survey was also about traffic, and traffic mitigation is only one reason to build bike lanes. In fact, it’s far from the most important reason, which is safety. There are many people who want streets to be safe for everyone, but who don’t necessarily believe that bike lanes are going to improve traffic.

So, once you take in all these caveats, maybe 40 percent isn’t so bad from this survey. Again, people have a lot of work to do to shift our transportation culture and get more people, especially seniors, to see bike lanes as a positive addition. But don’t let the Times headline make you believe this survey shows that bike lanes are unpopular.

To flip all this around the other way, it’s pretty incredible that even a skewed sample finds little support for trying to make it easier to drive. This was a friendly sample for driving, and yet “making it easier to travel by car” got lower marks than bike lanes. Even this sample clearly sees the solution to traffic is to make it easier to get around without a car. Only five percent of Seattle respondents (eight percent in King County) said they blame a lack of investment in roads and highways for the traffic. That feels like a pretty serious culture shift from the highway-building focus of the 20th Century.

River City Bicycles employee dies in kayaking accident

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 07:36

Kevin Neidorf, 1990-2019.
(Photo courtesy River City Bicycles)

Portland’s close-knit community of bicycle lovers is mourning the loss of Kevin Neidorf.

According to the River City Bicycles website, Neidorf’s kayak rolled over in a Class II rapid on Hood River on Saturday and attempts to revive him were not successful. He died at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

Neidorf was 28 years old and worked at River City Bicycles as marketing and creative content director. Here’s more from the shop’s General Manager Hayes Kenny:

All of us at River City Bicycles are reeling from the unexpected loss of our close friend and esteemed coworker Kevin Neidorf… As we endure this hardship together as a community and as the tightly-knit family that is RCB, we strive to focus on the energy, the passion, the bravery, and the love with which Kevin lived his life.

We all know Kevin as an artist; he worked out of our Belmont shop as River City’s creative director, putting out many imaginative and often hilarious advertisements, video projects, photo features, and much of the other media content our brand has produced over the past few years.

We know Kevin as an athlete. He was an impressive rock climber and skilled mountain biker who was always the first to hit the big jumps, one of the fastest riders both uphill and down, a rider committed to pushing the edge of how hard he could ride. He pushed us all to do one more lap, one more rep, one more challenge, because he knew we all have more in us than we sometimes think.

We know Kevin as an adventurer. From his initial cross-country move out to Portland from the East Coast, to solo bike trips across New Zealand and Europe, Kevin always wanted to see what was around the bend and what kind of trouble he could get into once he got there.

Ultimately, we cherish the times we spent with Kevin, and we can take solace in the fact that Kevin built the life he wanted to live, and lived it to the fullest. We miss him immensely, and his loss is a wound that will take a long time to heal. Thank you to everyone who makes this community of ours the amazing social space that it is, and thank you for understanding the challenges we face as we move forward.

Thanks for all the good times, Kevin. We love you.

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Kevin was a talented filmmaker. In 2017 we featured his series of short films based on the Rubber to the Road ride guide. And in 2016, we shared his film about the Hazelnut Grove homeless camp. Kevin also captured the beauty of River City’s Cyclocross Crusade series in many recaps over the years (including the one above from 2016).

One of Kevin’s collaborators, fellow filmmaker Drew Coleman, posted about him on Instagram yesterday: “He was one of the raddest dudes I knew – extremely gifted film maker and mountain biker and climber and kayaker and … you get the picture. Unbelievable athlete, an artist and a wanderer of the earth.”

Rest in Peace Kevin.

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

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Family biking profile: For the Kurtens, the right bikes helped them go carfree

Bike Portland - Tue, 01/22/2019 - 06:34

One of the Kurten kids and one of the trusty family vehicles.
(Photos: Jonathan Kurten)

This week we’ll share a profile of the Kurten family.

Portlanders Jonathan and Tracy Kurten have been able to replace tricky transit trips and car trips with joyful bike trips — thanks in part to their useful new bikes.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

I’ve been hearing lot of excited buzz in the family biking community about the relatively new Tern Bicycles GSD. They’re one of the few cargo bikes that fits riders short and tall, and they’re very compact. The GSD’s 20-inch wheels give it the same overall length of a regular bike; but it’s long enough to hold two kids in the back. Also, they fold! And they have a zippy mid-drive electric assist which makes them good car-replacements.

Learn more about how these bikes have helped the Kurten family go carfree below…

Tell us about yourself and your family.

We’re Jonathan and Tracy Kurten, our kiddos are Julian and Judah. I moved from South Africa with my family in 2000 at which time we lived in South Dakota. Tracy and I met during high school and moved around the midwest for a few years. After a short time living back in South Africa, we decided to return to the US and intended to relocate to the west coast. We immediately fell in love with the valley and we’ve been living in the area for the last 7 years.

A typical family outing.

Tell me about your bike.

We recently traded in our hybrid bikes for 2 Tern GSDs. The kids still each have a manual bike they ride from time to time, but they much prefer to cruise on the back of the GSDs. One GSD is set up with a clubhouse where both boys can ride and pannier bags for any kind of cargo. The other is equipped with sidekick bars and a seat pad for our older boy, when we’re traveling as a family and split the kids up.

Jonathan’s bike is outfitted to carry both children.

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

We’re pretty lucky in Portland to have a bike shop around every corner. Even so, it’s a true bummer to get a flat in the middle of running errands or heading to an appointment. We’ve learned to keep spare tubes and gear on hand, just in case! This is especially true if your bike has less common sized tires like our bikes do.

Julian and Judah love riding on their parents’ GSDs.

Tell us about a typical trip you take on your bike.

I typically bike to work each day, weather permitting, to my office in Old Town. My route includes crossing the Broadway Bridge. We’re fairly close to the grocery store, meaning we mostly walk there, but typically make a trip with our bikes once a week to load up with larger items. Both of our boys are involved in soccer, which can mean trips to many different parks around Portland. This was a point of headache at times, timing the bus and walk time needed to arrive at the set time. Having our GSDs has allowed us the ability to pack the necessary equipment and kids and travel on our own time schedule, allowing us ease with both timing and effort.

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Tell us about an especially memorable ride in Portland.

We have some family that live in the southern neighborhoods of Portland and have typically only been able to reach them via car or by a long transit trip. Once we had the e-bikes we were able to bike all the way down to them via the Springwater Corridor. We didn’t even know this part of the city existed! We’ve talked at length at how excited we are to discover more nooks and crannies that one can really only discover by bike. Biking in the winter doesn’t always sound appealing, but we happened across many neighborhoods and streets with holiday light displays, which felt much more magical at a bike’s pace, and bundled up.

Tracy’s bike is outfitted to carry one kid, quite comfortably.

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

More protected bike lanes! As a lone rider I typically feel pretty safe, but biking with my kids can be quite the stressful ordeal. The changes made over the last year to Rosa Parks are great. I hope the cities continue to make changes like these, giving cyclist and pedestrians priority over parked vehicles.

Seeing the city in a whole new way thanks to biking.

Have you biked in other cities and how did it compare?

While we’ve always biked in towns and cities where we’ve lived, Portland has been the first city where I’ve felt comfortable enough to go carfree. Transit and micromobility options are vibrant enough here that this is becoming and more and more reachable as a possibility for residents.

What about rain/snow/wind/extreme heat? Do you bike in less-than-ideal conditions?

Rain, yes. Snow, cautiously maybe? Wind, sure. Extreme heat, effortlessly with an e-bike.

What’s your best piece of advice to pass along to BikePortland readers?

Challenge yourself to make biking your primary mode of transportation. You just might find it easier than you thought and you’ll almost certainly find that you start to see your city in a whole new way.

Do you have a social media presence you’d like to share?

Feel free to follow me @JoKurten on Twitter.

Thank you for sharing your story Jonathan and Tracy.

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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The post Family biking profile: For the Kurtens, the right bikes helped them go carfree appeared first on BikePortland.org.

3T Exploro Speed

Bike Hugger - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 19:00

Now in its second generation, the Exploro certainly has made its mark on the gravel market. It’s a bike for racers and those wanting to reduce their stable (3 bikes in one). For those who ride in the Pacific Northwest, the Exploro is a choice for the variety of tire sizes. Mark V owns one and has run 32s to 47s on it, including mountain bike tires.

And, everyone that has a gravel bike knows they’re often used on pavement too. The Exploro is fast enough to line up at your local crit. You could even race CX if it wasn’t too muddy and you weren’t worried about carrying it on your hip instead of a shoulder.

Going Slow Faster

Shipping today, the Exploro speed, which as the name implies is more road than dirt. Distinguished by the build kit, what you need to know is all the pieces have come together for 3T and they’re expressing a point of view on the market with complete bikes.

Looking at their current line up, the Exploro Speed is the same flatmount frameset but with roadie-optimized kit.

You should get this bike for the crank. I have the Strada in on demo, with the same build. It’s remarkably advanced for those into going fast on the road.

Even if you’re happy riding 23s and rim brakes, 3T is releasing the most interesting products in road/gravel and this is an important milestone for them.

3T Exploro Speed Specs

You can build the 3T Exploro Speed several ways. I suggest the Torno Team and it costs $5500.

Frame Exploro LTD Frame sizes S-M-L-XL Frame colors Stealth Black Fork 3T FANGO LTD flatmount disk brake w/12mm thru axle Stem Arx II Team Stealth Handlebar Aeronova Team Stealth Headset 2 x 10mm & 2 x 5mm PC headset spacers Shifters SRAM Force 1 Hydraulic DoubleTap Rear Derailleur SRAM Force 1 Type 2.1 Medium Cage Crankset SRAM Quarq Prime Power Ready BB386 w/ 30mm 7050 AL spindle (optional upgrade to 3T Torno LTD) Chainring SRAM Force XSYNC, 46T (3T Torno crank ships with custom 44T chainring) Bottom Bracket Aluminum / Nylon Press fit cups for BB386EVO with 30mm i.d. sealed cartridge bearings Chain SRAM 11-speed XX1 Powerchain® II with PowerLock® connecting linkSRAM 11-speed XX1 Powerchain® II with PowerLock® connecting link Freewheel / Cassette SRAM 11-speed PowerGlide 11-36T Brake Levers SRAM Force CX1 Hydraulic DoubleTap Brakes SRAM Force Flat Mount Hydraulic Disc w/ SRAM CenterlineX 160mm Centerlock rotor Saddle Fizik Antares Versus Wheelset Discus C35 TEAM Stealth (700c) Tires Continental Grand Prix 4000 II S 700x28c

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Adventures in Activism: Time management tips from two busy Portlanders

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 11:30

Catie Gould.

This post is by our activism co-editor Catie Gould, a very busy local transportation activist who has a full-time job on the side.

——

Does the New Year have you hoping to get more done?

Certainly the times demand a lot of us. How on earth can we manage everything — working, doing the laundry, spending time with loved ones — all while finding time to reform our transportation system and combat climate change in a way that doesn’t burn us out?

Often overwhelmed myself, I sought out the advice from two of my Portland heroes. I hope their stories help you stay effective and inspired!

Alison Percifield – Bike Farm (and many other things)

Alison Percifield working at Bike Farm.
(Photos: Catie Gould)

When Alison Percifield moved to Portland from Chicago three years ago her car broke down along the way and she didn’t have money to buy a new one. That’s how she became a bike commuter and found her way to Bike Farm, a nonprofit, all-volunteer collective that teaches people about bicycles. Alison recounted, “I think the best thing I ever did for my life was move to a new city because I didn’t have any friends.” She occupied her time by getting involved with different organizations and meeting people that way. “All these positive life changes happened from me deciding to be super busy.”

“All these positive life changes happened from me deciding to be super busy.”

And she is super busy. When she stepped up as the President of Bike Farm six months ago she didn’t think she would get promoted at work. “I wanted to be a leader somewhere,” she told me. But both happened. She is also starting an internship on the Board of Directors at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) as part of course in managing non-profits and cleans a pilates studio in exchange for a free membership. “I’m doing something every weekday after work that is essentially a job.”

Alison sat down for our interview with a list she had prepared ahead of time. “I’m a huge fan of lists”. She has a notebook that she keeps just for lists and switches between them. “If I’m ever needing a break from something it’s normally with another productive task.”

Removing decision making and relying on a routine helps reduce her stress. She bikes to work every day in her workout clothes and sets her shoes out the night before. She prepares all her food for the week on Sundays while listening to her favorite CD. “Lunch is my big meal of the day so I put a lot of effort into it.” She gets a lot of recipe ideas from the vegan food blog The First Mess.

In addition to volunteering every Wednesday at Bike Farm, she spends another two to three hours a week responding to email and doing paperwork during her breaks throughout the day. On Fridays though, she clocks out. “I feel like delineating between week and weekend, creating that mental break for me is important.”

Alison has two mentors and checks in with them monthly. “It’s important for me to hear how people think I should be pushed forward and what my weaknesses are.” Things she is currently working on: slowing down enough to make sure people don’t feel like an item on her calendar. She also wants to make sure she is bringing people with her as she moves forward. Doing 90% of a task and then handing it off to someone else builds buy-in and makes sure other people can do the work in the future. “I don’t think it will always be like this. I want to live it up while I’m in this time of my life that is super productive, and in five — or one — year from now when I’m not feeling it, I’ll move on to something else.”

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--> Iain MacKenzie – Architect, urbanist, and Next Portland blogger

Iain uses the Notes app to organize his posts.

Architect Iain MacKenzie moved to Portland during the depths of the recession in 2009. When new development started coming back he wanted an easier way to keep up with the information. He got the idea for the Next Portland one afternoon at the office. Later that night, it was live. “It was super easy to create, what took a lot of time was keeping it going.”

Iain spends five to ten hours a week reading through material and writing posts for the blog. In the four years he’s worked at it he’s settled into a routine.

“I’ve definitely had people make fun of me because they have caught city council meetings on my screen.”

For the weekly “Metro Reports” post he scans the Portland Bureau of Development Services website every Monday morning for a report that includes everything from simple bathroom remodels to new buildings. “I’m quite good at scanning those now.” He also saves the weekly agenda of the Design Review Commission onto his computer to archive them. Drawings for buildings going through design review are published a week ahead of time, and if he’s pretty sure it’s going to get approved he puts together a post ahead of time.

For Iain, keeping it simple is key. “I’m not trying to argue that this building is great or its terrible or anything. I’m just going to say it’s seven stories tall and it has this many units and this many parking spaces.”

Iain mostly writes in the evenings or on the weekends, but often finishes up a post during his lunch break, hitting publish around 12:45. He gets suggestions from fans about what else he could be doing with the site, but he’s busy enough right now. His general goal is to post five times a week; but the day that we talked he had only finished two.

“Honestly, if I had realized that I was going to be doing this much work for four years at this point, I probably wouldn’t have started it,” he said with a laugh. Iain has no plans on quitting. While other people listen to music or podcasts at work, Iain prefers to listen to design review or land use hearings. “I’ve definitely had people make fun of me because they have caught city council meetings on my screen.”

For others who want to make advocacy a bigger part of their lives, Iain stressed that its about consistently putting effort in every week. “It’s got to be something you care about and find interesting.”

Thank you Alison and Iain for sharing your stories. I hope you are all having a happy, healthy, and productive New Year so far!

— Catie Gould, @Citizen_Cate on Twitter

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TRB Dispatch: Portland’s transit equity research and poster sessions

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 09:15

Just one of the “startlingly democratic” poster sessions.
(Photo: Aaron Brown/BikePortland)

Welcome to the latest dispatch from our Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting Special Correspondent Aaron Brown, who was in D.C. covering the event thanks to sponsorship from the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University (TREC at PSU). See past coverage here. (Note: Views expressed by the author are his own and do not reflect those of TREC at PSU.)

Transit equity

Aaron Golub’s presentation was one of my personal highlights of the conference. I attended a seminar in which Dr. Golub, a Professor of Urban Studies and Planning and the Director of the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, shared findings from his ongoing research about the equity implications of TriMet’s shift towards electronic fares. His presentation, “An Equity Assessment of Smart Mobility Systems in Portland, Oregon”, was featured in a session titled, “Taking Off the Rose-Colored Glasses: Equitable Access to 21st-Century Mobility Options”.

Dr. Aaron Golub.
(Photo: PSU)

I wrote a bit in my previous dispatch about the challenges and opportunities that the huge amount of new data in transportation presents to researchers and governing bodies, and Dr. Golub’s research represents yet another important set of questions on how the benefits and burdens of these changes are distributed.

Golub co-authored research with former OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon staffers Vivian Satterfield and Jai Singh that studied how these changes in ticket fares impacted transit-dependent riders. By partnering with OPAL, Golub was able to distribute surveys to low-income, transit dependent riders in east Portland. The findings shed light on the ways in which these riders are — and are not — well-served by the new fare system. The results? Lower income survey respondents were less likely to have access to drivers’ licenses, bank accounts, smart phones, and credit cards. Assumptions that access to these institutions are ubiquitous can make taking transit more difficult and less accessible to the very communities that need it most.

Similarly, many of the wayfinding apps and signs are rarely displayed in languages other than English – this creates significant barriers for many low-income and communities of color. And remember, here in Oregon, non-citizens can’t legally obtain driver’s cards — this only makes it more imperative that Portland’s transit system is easier for immigrants without papers to navigate.

Golub’s findings resonated with me. I was excited to see an institution like PSU deliberately pursue research in partnership with frontline community groups who have the most knowledge and information about their needs. These are the type of collaborations that ensure those that are most likely to fall through the cracks of TriMet’s governance are given a chance to speak up and change policy. It certainly falls within the framework of the PSU motto of, “Let Knowledge Serve the City.”

For more information about Dr. Golub’s findings, check out the slides from a similar presentation Dr. Golub’s gave during a TREC Friday Seminar Series event this past September; you can also watch the presentation online.

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While the cavernous Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosts dozens of sessions, the TRB Conference also provides a unique opportunity to meet directly with academics and students one-on-one during informal “poster sessions.”

Squirreled away in the basement of the adjacent Marriott Hotel, hundreds of researchers cycle through the presentation space every two hours during the conference to put their latest research and findings on display on a poster, and make themselves available to conversation and engagement with whoever chooses to walk by. It’s startlingly democratic (and a little intimidating) to walk down an aisle with dozens of researchers proudly beaming while gesturing to the maps and analyses that prove their findings, and be given the opportunity to ask questions about it.

This woman’s poster was titled, “Less than human? Dehumanization of cyclists predicts self-reported aggressive behavior toward them.”

The poster sessions are typically arranged so that similar research is shown at the same time and at the same location. I never knew there could be so many academics with a particularly niche field of study — asphalt design, LIDAR technology for autonomous vehicles, airline deregulation’s impacts on mid-sized Chinese cities, pedestrian safety — all in one space.

I visited on Wednesday morning to catch the “Bicycle Transportation Research” Poster session, which featured over seventy-eight different studies on bicycles and bicycling. Portland and Oregon-based academics had a strong showing (this is unsurprising in-and-of-itself, but the fact it was held the morning after TREC at PSU’s lively evening reception made it more impressive). Dr. Alex Bigazzi, a former PSU student and current professor with the University of British Columbia, was present to talk about three different posters for different research projects he authored or co-authored (“Utilization of Secure Bicycle Parking Rooms in Multi-Unit Residential Buildings”, “Industry Stakeholder Perspectives on the Adoption of Electric Bicycles in British Columbia”, and “Toward Agent-Based Microsimulation of Cyclist Following Behavior: Estimation of Reward Function Parameters Using Inverse Reinforcement Learning”).

Researchers are finding all sorts of ways to analyze quantitative data to learn more about what makes for great urban bicycle networks, how the introduction of e-bikes changes how people use bikeshare systems, and the extent to which painted and separated bike lanes make people feel safer. If you’re feeling some Monday morning duldrums and looking for an internet wormhole to fall down, check out the long list of abstracts from Wednesday’s sessions.

It’s was also heartening to see numerous scholars from Chinese Universities presenting their research – I think the normative American bike transportation geek (myself included) is wholly undereducated about the massive urbanization underway in China and the number of these cities doing remarkably radical things with bikes, bikeshare systems, and public transit. The growing field of research (and researchers) is good news for all of us who want to learn the best practices for designing cities for bikes from every corner of the world — not just Portland, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

— Aaron Brown, @ambrown on Twitter

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The Monday Roundup: E-bike fire, freeway lids, Whoopi Goldberg, and more

Bike Portland - Mon, 01/21/2019 - 08:30

Welcome to Monday.

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by the Worst Day of the Year Ride, a classic Portland event with three route choices that happens February 10th.

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

Another front of the war on speed: Streetsblog reports that the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices voted last week to require cities to include “pedestrian and bicycle activity” when setting speed limits (yes it’s sad this is considered a major breakthrough).

E-bike on fire: The battery in an Australian man’s electric-powered road bike caught fire during a ride. The fire also detonated CO2 canisters in his saddle bag.

Put a lid on it: Portland isn’t the only city looking to cap I-5. Seattle’s Lid I-5 campaign is looking for a multi-disciplinary team to figure out the best lid design for over 12 acres of the freeway.

Bikes on transit in DC: The Washington Post says a new policy to allow bicycles on Metro trains has worked out fine so far — despite concerns it would cramp quarters and make riders uncomfortable.

Stop state hate: A California lawmaker is so tired of his state DOT (Caltrans) marginalizing the needs of bicycle riders, transit users, and walkers, that he’s introduced legislation to force their hand.

Commuters are polluters: It’s good to see national political media pointing out that climate change policy must tackle the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions: cars and trucks. Now let’s hope Oregon lawmakers take heed.

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BRT in Africa: Dar es Salaam, the burgeoning capitol city of Tanzania, has tamed its crazy congestion with a simple tool that Portland has yet to fully embrace: Bus Rapid Transit.

Biking and mental health: Urbanism scholar Robin Mazumder wrote on Medium about how riding a bicycle is key to his mental well-being.

The Whoopi Goldberg thing: The actress and talk show host railed against bike lanes in a high-profile debate about transportation policy with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on The View.

Biking “Viadoom”: Seattleites have responded to the shutdown of SR 99 by bicycling a lot more and generally finding other ways to get around. Maybe they don’t need a massive freeway through their city after all?

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

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Matt Garrett has resigned from ODOT

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 15:12

Matt Garrett in 2012.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Huge news from the State of Oregon today: ODOT Director Matt Garrett has resigned.

This is potentially – depending on his replacement – a massive development that could lead to a different culture in the automobile-centric agency.

Garrett was an embattled agency head who had been the subject of severe criticisms from electeds, advocates, and transportation reform leaders.

I’m out of town at the moment and unable to fully analyze and report on this. So for now, here’s the statement from ODOT:

Oregon Transportation Director Matthew Garrett announced today that he will resign as Director of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) on or before June 30, 2019. “I’m eager to take the next few months to explore the opportunity to do something new,” Garrett remarked. “It was important to me to provide enough notice to allow time for a search to identify my replacement and provide a smooth transition to the new Director,” he added.

In his resignation letter to Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney, Garrett noted that he has been at ODOT for 22 years, the last 13 of which he has served as Director. Garrett has led the 4,700 person department under three Governors — Kate Brown, John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski. Garrett is the longest continuously serving department of transportation director in the nation.

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Governor Brown thanked Garrett for his service: “Matt Garrett has driven Oregon forward through his steadfast commitment to improve transportation for his fellow Oregonians, both today and in the future. He has led ODOT with distinction, guiding the agency through the implementation of a historic transportation package, and we will reap the benefits for decades to come. I have deeply appreciated his thoughtful counsel and collaboration and want to extend my gratitude for his service to our state.”

“Matt has been a dedicated public servant in our state for almost a quarter of a century,” said Transportation Commission Chair Tammy Baney. “He is highly respected throughout Oregon and in transportation circles around the country. The Commission appreciates Matt’s many contributions to modernizing Oregon’s transportation system. We will work closely with him in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition from Matt to his successor.”

The Oregon Transportation Commission has the statutory authority to hire a new director for the department.

In his resignation letter, Garrett praised ODOT’s workforce, noting that he has led an organization that consistently delivers “exceptional service, infrastructure and innovation” to Oregonians. He also identified three achievements he is particularly proud of:

HB 2017, the 2017 transportation investment legislation, which he described as “historic and comprehensive;”

The “Area Commissions on Transportation,” which he characterized as “critical forums for statewide transportation planning;” and

The creation of the nation’s first Road Usage Charge, which will allow Oregon to eventually transition from a per gallon gas tax to a per mile fee to pay for Oregon roads, bridges and other infrastructure investments.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, eBike Store, Velotech, River City Bicycles

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 10:31

We’ve had some great job opportunities listed in the past week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Director of Finance and Administration – Community Cycling Center

–> Experienced Bike Mechanic – The eBike Store

–> Customer Experience Specialist Full Time – Velotech

–> Bike Builder – River City Bicycles

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

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

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

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Three speeds, MLK Day, lunar eclipse, palm trees, and more

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:52

Scene from the 2007 Wintertime Palm Tree Ride, where I first learned about the strange and wonderful monkey puzzle trees!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Welcome to the weekend!

Here’s our menu of delicious rides and events happening in and around Portland in the next few days.:..

Saturday, January 19th

First Timer’s Ride – 10:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
Just getting started on two wheels? Love social city rides? Let the experienced staff of River City Bicycles show you theway on this short and sweet neighborhood jaunt. More info here.

State of Cyclocross, Final Hosted Show – 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm at Paris Theatre (SW)
It’s your last chance to see this beautiful and poignant film created by Portlander Drew Coleman. This will not be released on the web, so make plans to view it on the big screen! More info here.

Three Speed Get Together – 4:00 pm at Montavilla Brew Works (SE)
If you love the casual and cool riding that three-speeds afford, this is the get together for you. The Society of Three Speeds is hosting this event, so show up if you want to talk about bikes and plans for a great slate of three-speed rides in 2019. More info here.

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Sauvie Shootout – 9:00 am at Ovation Coffee & Tea (NW)
Ready to go fast? Or start training so you can go faster? This ride features group dynamics, hotspot sprints, and a supportive group of experienced riders. More info here.

Palm Tree Ride – 11:00 am at Fillmore Coffee (NE)
Shawn from the Urban Adventure League knows a thing or three about local Portland neighborhood history and the neat palm trees that live in them. This is one of his classic rides that you are very likely to enjoy. More info here.

NWTA Lunar Eclipse Fat Bike Snow Adventure – 6:30 pm at Government Camp (Mt. Hood)
What better way to view the lunar eclipse than from Trillium Lake on the saddle of a bicycle?! Ride happens clear or cloudly and it will be on the snow so a fat bike is required. More info here.

Community Ride to the Reclaim MLK Day March – 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Fire Station 21 (SE)
Friends on Bikes and Women Bike have joined up with Don’t Shoot PDX for a casual ride that will go from the Esplanade, up North Williams Avenue to Peninsula Park to join the Annual March for Human Rights and Dignity. 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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Opinion: Portland’s scooter success exposes stark double standard

Bike Portland - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:57

Scooter riders in the mix of traffic in downtown Portland.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

*This post is by Joe Cortright and was originally published by City Observatory.

Data shows Portland’s scooter experiment worked. Maybe it’s time to critically appraise the failed, 110-year experiment with cars.

Why doesn’t PBOT apply the same approach to private cars that it has to scooters?

Starting in July, Portland, Oregon began allowing fleets of e-scooters, as an experiment, to see how they would work. Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) just released its 36-page report on the city’s 120-day trial of allowing fleets of electric scooters on the city’s streets. It’s profusely illustrated — more like a sales brochure than a government report — and it has mostly favorable things to say about the city’s recent experience with scooters.

In four months, scooters went from nothing, to providing more an average of 5,800 trips per day. About 30 percent of city residents rode the scooters at least once during the trial period. The city estimates that roughly a third of scooter trips substituted for private car trips, helping to reduce traffic congestion. Scooters also tended to be used most during peak travel hours, with 20 percent of all trips taking place between 3pm and 6pm on weekdays. City surveys indicate that six percent of scooter users reported getting rid of a private car as a result of scooter availability. In addition, the city’s survey’s also suggest scooters effectively expanded the market for non-automobile transportation by attracting users who haven’t ridden bicycles for transportation. The survey also shows that 60 percent of Portlanders have a positive or somewhat positive view of scooters.

As transportation innovations go, this seems like a pretty wild success.

Scooters are a clean, green, fiscally-responsible alternative for making lots of short trips in dense urban areas. They’re overwhelmingly popular. Thanks to GPS, web-based applications and data sharing requirements, we have a clear picture of where and how scooters are used. If this is a data-driven process, the data clearly make a case for bringing scooters back–and widely expanding the program as well. Which is something that the Portland Bureau of Transportation indicates it will do later this year – although unfortunately, and inexplicably, only as a second trial period.

So that’s all to the good: The city regulated scooters, took a close and careful look at their impacts, and found that they work. But that got us thinking: Why are we applying this standard of scrutiny just to one tiny element of our transportation system. Why isn’t the Portland Bureau of Transportation taking this same careful, deliberate and detailed approach to analyzing all aspects of our transportation, especially the dominant mode of transportation: private automobiles?

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The Double Standard: Why aren’t we holding cars to the standard applied to scooters?

We plainly aren’t applying the same standards to cars that the city has applied to scooters. That’s abundantly clear both in the framing of the report, and in the substance of the questions asked. Consider the first paragraph of the report’s executive summary:

E-scooters emerged in 2017 as a new shared mobility service in the United States. Less than a year after their debut, e-scooters were operating in 65 U.S. cities. They did not arrive without disruption; companies Bird and Lime began operations in 43 markets without government permits or consent. Several cities responded with cease and desist orders, fines, or both. Portland chose a different, proactive path, creating the E-Scooter Pilot Program. With the pilot, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) focused on giving Portlanders access to this new transportation option while also ensuring that e-scooters would support Portland’s fundamental policy values

There’s an almost insufferable tone of condescension about the idea Portlanders have any right to use scooters on the public streets. It is as if the mandarins of PBOT have deigned, for a brief period, to suffer to allow the presence of these scooters on their streets. The report’s opening paragraph sets the tone: while scooter companies set up shop without asking permission in many cities, Portland strictly regulated their presence. And, as if to remove all doubts about the bureau’s hegemony of public streets, it terminated the operation of scooters entirely on November 20. The New York Times applauded Portland’s aggressive approach to regulating the entry of scooter companies into the city.

We’re waiting for a similarly incisive assessment of the city’s policy of allowing these vehicles to run rampant in the public realm.

One is left to wonder, at what point was it determined that small, personal two-wheeled electric vehicles required special bureaucratic dispensation (and per trip fees paid to the city), and that large gas guzzling, polluting, frequently deadly four-wheeled ones were allowed to roam free in unlimited numbers?

What if BPOT took a similar attitude, not to the paltry 2,000 scooters that operated on city streets for a few months, but instead at the hundreds of thousands of motor vehicles that have inundated the city over the past century? We’re waiting for a similarly incisive assessment of the city’s policy of allowing these vehicles to run rampant in the public realm. If we applied even a fraction of the scrutiny to cars that PBOT has applied to scooters, and applied even a tenth as stringent a standard to their performance, we’d be looking to have radical change. When will PBOT do a similarly rigorous assessment of the climate, health and safety, fiscal, equity and land use impacts of unfettered car use on the public streets?

Let’s focus just one issue: How much do scooters and cars pay to use city streets? The PBOT report indicates that the city levies a charge of 25 cents per trip for each scooter. The average length of a scooter journey, according to PBOT, is 1.1 miles. This means that scooter rider is paying 21.8 cents per mile to use city streets.

(Chart: City Observatory)

How does that compare to what people pay to drive cars?

Let’s take the gas tax, which is the major source of state and local road finance. Oregon’s gas tax is currently 30 cents per gallon, and the City of Portland has a gas tax of 10 cents per gallon. With the average vehicle getting about 20 miles per gallon, this means that the average automobile pays about 2 cents per mile (40 cents divided by 20 miles per gallon equals 2 cents per mile). And it has to be added that these are total taxes paid to city and state–the city receives only a fraction of the state imposed gas tax to pay for its streets. Bottom line: Scooter riders pay ten times as much in fees per mile traveled on city streets as car drivers pay in gas taxes.

And as we’ve pointed out before, its vastly unfair to charge scooters more than cars. Whether proportionate to vehicle value, the space vehicles take up on the roadway (in use and when parked) weight (and therefore road wear and maintenance costs), or pollution generated, cars should be paying anywhere from 10 to 1000 times more for use of the roadway. Instead, they pay ten times less.

Why doesn’t PBOT apply the same approach to private cars that it has to scooters? Why doesn’t it impose a cap on the number of cars in the city, to be sure that cars don’t overwhelm the street system? Why doesn’t it impose a fee of 20 cents per mile on car trips? Why doesn’t it require that cars operating in the city have electronic speed governors that keep vehicles from being operated at unsafe and illegal speeds? Why doesn’t it require that every trip by automobile be reported to a centralized database operated by PBOT: After all, if we can insist that the operators of 35 pound, $500 scooters share detailed telemetry on every trip taken in the city, why shouldn’t we have similar data about the two-ton, $20,000 or $50,000 vehicles.

There’s a clear double standard here: Scooters have been put to the test, and they’ve passed. Scooter operators have provided detailed data, have electronically limited vehicle speeds, reduced traffic and pollution, and paid the city generously for city streets. When will PBOT ask the same questions or impose the same standards on our car-dominated transportation system? We’re really looking forward to that report.

— Joe Cortright, @CityObs on Twitter.

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State of Oregon finalizes funding list for Safe Routes to School projects

Bike Portland - Thu, 01/17/2019 - 07:51

(Image: ODOT)

The State of Oregon has finalized its first batch of Safe Routes to School projects funded through the $5.3 billion transportation package passed by legislators in 2017.

Region 1 (which covers all of Portland) will receive $3.39 million for four projects that will make it easier and safer for kids to walk and bike to class. ODOT awarded nearly $16 million for 24 projects statewide. Demand for these funds far outstripped supply as the agency received a total of 112 project applications requesting a total of $85 million.

Projects within a one-mile radius of schools are eligible for funding and schools where children come from low-income households were prioritized. Projects also scored high if they demonstrated an acute safety need, had “shovel-ready” status, and if they would benefit elementary and middle schools.

Here’s the list of Region 1 projects (view the full list here):

Multnomah County: Crossing enhancements for Reynolds Middle School – $90,957

Clackamas County: Sidewalks, ramps, rapid flashing beacons, and pedestrian refuge islands for Whitcomb Elementary School – $148,470

City of Portland: Sidewalks for Alder Elementary School – $2,000,000

City of Milwaukie: Sidewalks, enhanced crossings, crossing beacons, and bike lanes for Linwood Elementary School – $1,152,330

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All the project sponsors will be required to raise matching funds. As written, the law requires a 40% match; but sponsors can have that reduced to 20% if their project meets certain criteria. All the Region 1 projects qualify for the 20% match reduction (the City of Milwaukie has not requested the reduction). (Note: This matching funds issue has been a sticking point for Safe Routes advocates and the current legislative session includes Senate Bill 561, which seeks to decrease the match amount for all projects.)

This is the first allocation for ODOT’s Safe Routes to School Competitive Grant Program (PDF) and it covers the 2019-2020 cycle. The funds will double to $30 million for the next two-year cycle in 2021.

The full list is expected to be approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission at their meeting in Salem today (1/17).

Portland will add this project to its own, $8 million list of Safe Routes to School projects announced back in June.

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

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We have just proven that Seattle doesn’t need a highway tunnel or massive waterfront road

Seattle Bike Blog - Wed, 01/16/2019 - 14:26

Do we really need all this?

So it turns out that when people across the Seattle region plan ahead and change their transportation habits, we can prove to ourselves that we don’t need SR 99 to go through downtown after all. After months of news stories about how terrible traffic would be once the Viaduct closed for good, traffic during the first couple commutes was not much worse than it was before.

We should be celebrating this accomplishment, because people all across the region had to work together to make this happen. It is empowering to know that we don’t need a new car tunnel or a nine-lane waterfront road, that we can change our habits to reduce our dependence on cars and burning oil. Cars are a major cause of preventable death and serious injury in our region, and transportation is our biggest source of greenhouse gasses. But it’s so easy to feel defeated because reducing driving just seems like an impossible lift.

These demonstrations are important because we have far too little faith in our collective ability to change, and that’s holding us back from addressing the massive challenges ahead of us. This pessimism led state Democrats to invest billions in a too-good-to-be-true car tunnel solution to the Alaskan Way Viaduct rather than investing in non-driving methods to move people and goods through the region. The same pessimism led Seattle voters to back that tunnel (well, the lack of a cohesive vision for an alternative didn’t help). A lot of people who care about addressing climate change still supported the tunnel because they just couldn’t imagine that our region could survive without two north-south freeways through downtown.

Worse, leaders were so pessimistic about our ability to change that they allowed the Viaduct to remain in heavy use for 18 years knowing full well that it would collapse in an earthquake. We got lucky, but that was not a gamble worth taking.

So it’s not just important that traffic wasn’t so bad Monday and Tuesday, it’s important that the people of our region take time to recognize and celebrate what this accomplishment represents.

And this is not the first time we’ve done this. In fact, Seattle has proven this point several times before during extended Viaduct closures. The problem is that as time goes on, people tend to slip back into old driving habits, especially if the method they chose to replace their car trip proved not all that great. So if the past repeats itself, you should expect traffic to creep up over the next week or so.

But it didn’t need to be this way. Imagine how different things would be if we had fully invested in transit and a connected bike network rather than digging a massive car tunnel. Today, as people look for ways to avoid driving their typical SR 99 routes, they could have had light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, more express bus routes to more neighborhoods across the region and bike lanes to and through downtown that are separated from car traffic most or all the way. Basically, people across the region could have had so many more tools to work with when piecing together a new way to get around.

Instead, we chose the car tunnel. And we’re about to make another point cities across the world have proven many times before: Traffic will still suck once the tunnel opens. Because you can’t just bury car dependency in the ground. You need to rise above it with modes that actually fit in densely-packed areas: Transit, biking and walking. You also need to build affordable housing oriented around transit access rather than highways so lower-income folks aren’t simply pushed into the places with the worst traffic to bear the burden of dysfunctional car-oriented planning.

We don’t have a time machine to go back and change the tunnel decision. But we can learn from it and from this week’s demonstration that people can change their driving habits. The next generation of leadership in our city and state need to have faith in the people they represent and should ditch the pessimism of previous leaders. There are a lot of great land use and housing bills hitting desks in Olympia right now, and they could be a very good start. Seattle’s City Council is debating big city rezone plans right now, and they have a chance to believe in the people and push for the boldest options to create the most housing that is affordable for everyone. This is no time to water things down to appease people afraid of change. We know we can change when we need to.

Last year, Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT snoozed on a lot of opportunities to make sure bus and bike lanes were all connected and in place before the SR 99 shutdown began. But they can still take action this year to catch up. People this week have shown their eagerness for biking, walking and transit options to get around. Now it is on the mayor to deliver. She can’t go back and change major past decisions to invest in the tunnel or build light rail to West Seattle and Ballard more quickly, but she can paint key sections of the Basic Bike Network to help folks get from SE Seattle to downtown or from the Elliott Bay Trail to Pier 66 or from the Westlake Bikeway to 2nd Ave, to name a couple examples. And she can paint more bus lanes to make sure transit can get around major traffic pinch points.

The need for these improvements won’t go away when the tunnel opens. The shift away from driving is a longterm need for our region and the world. The supposed downsides to building better biking, walking and transit infrastructure is all in our heads. If we don’t need the Alaskan Way Viaduct flying cars over downtown, surely we can also get by without a lane here and some parking spots there.

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