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Lessons for Portland transportation from the Beijing subway

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 23rd, 2014 at 3:05 pm

How easy is Portland's transportation system to use, really?

It's hard to imagine it getting a good review from anybody who's tried to ride a bicycle to or from its biggest suburb, for example.

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PBOT adds physical separation to Williams Ave bikeway plans

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 23rd, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Plastic bollards on Hawthorne Bridge-3
Separation similar to this is coming to
Williams Ave north of Broadway.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) gets closer to breaking ground on their North Williams Avenue Traffic Safety and Operations Project, they've released a set of new plans that include some key modifications. Among them is a protected bike lane in one of the busiest and and most important sections of the entire bikeway: just north of Broadway where bicycle riders will merge from right to left as a high volume of traffic enters the I-5 freeway.

And strangely enough, the idea came at the request of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

In an email to members of the project's Stakeholder Advisory Committee late last week, PBOT project manager Rich Newlands shared the 60% plans and highlighted several changes from the 30% plans released back in January. Back then, we noticed that the plans didn't call for any physical separation. Instead, PBOT's plans were to rely on buffer zones on each side of the six-foot bike lane in order to create separation from auto traffic.

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Maybe this is why you can't afford to rent in the central city

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 23rd, 2014 at 9:24 am

Yellow areas are zoned for single-family homes, blue for mixed-use and multifamily, gray for industry and office, green for park and open space.

Real Estate Beat is sponsored by Portlandia Home

Seven miles is an important distance in the world of bike transportation.

It's about the distance a casual city rider can pedal in an hour, which studies show is the upper limit of the time most humans prefer to commute. It's the distance where, even in the Netherlands, public transit trips become more popular than bike trips (and car trips are eight times more common than either).

So as Portland's apartment rents have jumped an average 11 percent in the last year, with the tightest markets in North and inner Northeast Portland, the city's biking population has felt it — in either their wallets or their thighs.

Here's one factor at play in one of the country's most persistent urban rental shortages: in two-thirds of Portland's central seven miles, it's illegal to build a multi-family building.

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Recap of PBOT Director Leah Treat's first major speech

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 22nd, 2014 at 4:11 pm

PBOT Director Treat
PBOT Director Leah Treat at the Sentinel Hotel today.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat hit mostly familiar notes today during her first major speech since taking over the agency last summer. Treat was hosted by the City Club of Portland and the event was included in the agenda of the annual Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

While she didn't make any major policy commitments or launch new initiatives that might have sent the crowd of local transportation advocates and insiders abuzz, Treat gave us a glimpse of her perspective and offered clues about where she might take us during her tenure. She laid out her justification for investing in better biking and walking access and touched on big issues like Vision Zero, bike share, Safe Routes to School, getting tougher on speed enforcement, equity and investment in east Portland, the City's efforts to pass a transportation fee, and more.

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The Ride: A north Portland loop that's perfect for the whole family

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 22nd, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Ultimate North Portland Family Loop-15
With half the mileage on paths completely separated from auto traffic, this nine mile north Portland/Columbia Slough loop could be the ultimate family ride.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you've been looking for a great loop ride in north Portland that's perfect for novice riders and families, I've got an exciting route to share.

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As a low-car generation rises, youth organizers step up transportation activism

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 22nd, 2014 at 9:42 am

Kelly Hansen of the Community Cycling Center, Nicole Johnson of OPAL, Camille Bales of Grant High School and Adriana Rangel of De La Salle High School at a panel on youth transportation advocacy Monday.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Few Portlanders rely more on low-car transportation than teens. And as many factors have made car use by young people dramatically less common, some are getting more sophisticated in advocating for better public transit, biking and walking.

A panel on the subject at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit Monday was enough to make city staffer Janis McDonald call herself "embarrassed" on the city's behalf that it isn't doing more to tap youth advocates' opinions and expertise.

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Get Legal: Doored? The law is on your side (but that might not be enough)

Posted by Ray Thomas (Contributor) on April 22nd, 2014 at 9:20 am

door zone warning stencil-10
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you ever have the unfortunate luck of coming into conflict with another road user, it's always a pleasure to find out the law is in your favor.

Usually, conflicts on the road relate to the question of who has the right to the same space at the same time. Having someone open their car door into you — a.k.a. getting "doored" — falls into this category. Usually a motor vehicle operator fails to see a bicycle rider and opens a door so close to their path that a collision or near-miss occurs. While defensive riding can go a long way toward avoiding this sometimes painful encounter, sometimes there is just nothing a rider can do — everything happens too fast.

Fortunately, this is one of those areas where the law is on the side of the bicycle rider. Here's the relevant section of Oregon's Vehicle Code (remember bicycles are "vehicles" too) that prohibits opening the door of any vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so:

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Are parking permits a solution to neighborhood parking wars?

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 21st, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Auto parking on Southeast Division Street.
(Photo by M.Andersen)

As the city's transportation director says Portland should stop giving away so much of its on-street parking space for free, a local parking expert is floating one way to do it.

From the embattled 20s Bikeway to Foster's broken bike lanes to the chronic shortage of rental housing in low-car-friendly parts of town, residents' annoyance over the lack of on-street auto parking in central Portland is making it harder for the city to become bike-friendlier. At the Oregon Active Transportation Summit Monday, parking consultant Rick Williams said a paid parking permit program could be the solution — but there are a couple catches.

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County says Hawthorne Bridge bike lane speed bumps will be removed in 2015

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 21st, 2014 at 2:24 pm

New rumble strips Hawthorne Bridge-11
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Multnomah County has confirmed that they plan to remove a set of bicycle speed bumps on SE Madison Avenue. The bumps were installed in November of last year with the goal of slowing people down as they transitioned from the bike lane onto a sidewalk near a TriMet bus stop (see larger photo below). However, despite these good intentions, the bumps were instantly panned as being ineffective and potentially dangerous in their own right.

The County's own Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizen Advisory Committee (BPCAC) voted unanimously to remove the thermoplastic strips at their meeting on November 13th. In the minutes of that meeting, the committee said that, "BPCAC members felt that while the raised bumps are not terrible, the bumps do not serve the intended desire of slowing down the speeding cyclists either." The BPCAC also pointed out that County engineering staff did no public process before installing the strips.

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Teens arrested for throwing bricks at three men riding on NE Tillamook

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 21st, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Adrian Richardson was struck in the face with a brick.
(Photo by Henry Scholz)

The Portland Police Bureau arrested two teenagers for allegedly throwing bricks at three people who were bicycling in inner northeast Portland last night.

One of the victims, 26-year-old Adrian Richardson, was hit in the face and was taken to the hospital. Richardson is a serious local bike racer who works at Showers Pass.

Here's the official statement from the PPB:

On Sunday April 20, 2014, at 1:21 a.m., North Precinct officers responded to the area of Northeast 7th Avenue and Tillamook Street on the report that two males threw a brick at a bicyclist, striking him in the face.

The victim provided descriptions of the suspects for police and waited for medical personnel to respond to the scene.

Several officers arrived in the area and contacted the victim. Officers also located the suspects at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Knott Street and took them into custody. Two additional victims were located by police.

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The Monday Roundup: Stolen bike statistics, glowing road paint & more

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 21st, 2014 at 8:30 am

sad sight
A permanent parting?
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

This week's Monday Roundup is sponsored by Urban Office Renewal, now offering newly renovated bike-friendly office space at SW 9th and Oak.

Here are the bike links from around the world that caught our eyes this week:

Theft facts: Seven percent of bike theft victims never replace their bikes. That's one of eight depressing (and unusually interesting) factoids about bike theft.

Theft investigation: Seattle police dedicated months to investigating used-bike shop Bicycle Pull-Apart, concluding among other things that "more than half of the bikes bought by the shop between February 2013 and January 2014 were bought from convicted felons." Owner Eric Patchen said he "always followed the letter of the law."

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Activist and radio show host trashes Tilikum Crossing, calls it 'Auto-ban' bridge

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 18th, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Concept drawing of path on Tilikum bridge.
(Graphic: TriMet).

Rob Kremer, a talk-radio host and the Portlander behind a Republican-donor-funded movement to oppose "Portland creep" in Clackamas County, raised eyebrows on Friday afternoon when he said on Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud radio program that TriMet's new Tilikum Crossing bridge is a "symbol of dysfunctional transportation priorities."

About 12 minutes into the program, Kremer shared his strong objections to the bridge because it won't allow access for private automobiles:

"I'm not quite sure about this name Tilikum. They say it means people, tribes and relatives — I think it means streetcars, buses and bicycles in Portland. They can call it Tilikum all they want but the real name of this bridge, by the people, will always be the 'Autoban' ... And it will always be a symbol of TriMet's, Metro's and Portland's dysfunctional transportation priorities.

To think we're building a bridge across the Willamette ... the first bridge in who knows how long, and not allowing cars to cross it is not only insane, but it's a symbol of dysfunction."

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Novick wants $1 million from general fund for beacons at 15 crosswalks

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 18th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

An active warning beacon in North Portland.
(Photo: City of Portland)

The City of Portland's general fund has a few million dollars to spare, and Commissioner Steve Novick is mounting an unusual campaign to spend some of it on safer street crossings.

In a city where you're twice as likely to die from traffic as from homicide, Novick and other backers say making roads safer is the most cost-effective way to improve public safety.

In an interview Friday, Novick called out a few police operations in particular as having lower returns on investment.

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Businesses and bikeways: City reveals more details about street fee plans

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 18th, 2014 at 11:30 am

PBOT Street Fee Town Hall - NoPo-6
PBOT's Mark Lear laid out priorities for spending
revenue raised by a new street fee.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland is slowly leaking out more details of their plans to create a new fee to boost transportation investment. At a town hall meeting in North Portland last night, Mayor Charlie Hales, PBOT Director Leah Treat, and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick sat at a table in front of a small crowd to present, promote, and defend the idea.

We covered one of these same town halls back in February, but since then PBOT has sharpened their pitch and their plans into a much finer point. As we reported a few weeks ago, the fee on the table will be either $8 or $12 per household per month. But what about businesses? Up until this latest round of town halls, PBOT has kept details about how much business owners would pay under wraps. Also revealed last night was a clearer picture about where exactly the new revenue would be spent.

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50s Bikeway: still alive, just moving slowly

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 18th, 2014 at 9:11 am

A Sunday ride-9
One holdup after another, but still moving.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Maybe it's a mark of the eastward spread of low-car life that someone seems to ask us every few days when the 50s Bikeway is going to finally start construction.

The latest word from the city: early May. Hopefully.

"The contract prep has taken longer than expected," project manager Rich Newlands wrote in an email last week. "But we do now have the pre-con[struction] scheduled for 4/29. In theory, the notice to proceed will be issued that day and within a week the contractor will start. But, still contingent on the contractor being timely in submitting all the final pre-construction submittals."

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'Can't you read?!': When one rider calls out another for rolling through a stop

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 18th, 2014 at 8:48 am

bike stop markings at broadway flint-1.jpg
Bike stop markings at North Broadway and Flint.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Is it out of line for one person on a bike to aggressively criticize another for pedaling through a stop sign in a safe situation?

That's the opinion of local writer and rider Diane Yee, who writes about biking and other subjects at her Tumblog Citymaus. Here's an excerpt of her story, posted Thursday:

there’s this one awkwardly, possibly misplaced stop sign in the middle of the hilly stretch of SE Salmon*. since I’m coming from uphill, i have a better view of the cross street, and there was no traffic as usual (small residential street, and four-way stop), so i just keep riding through the stop sign as usual…

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Jobs of the Week

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 18th, 2014 at 8:39 am

The spring hiring boom continues here in America's bike industry mecca. Last week had had a record nine job listings and this week we've got eight. Whether you're a wonk or a wrench, we've got some great opportunities for you. Check out the latest jobs posted to our Job Listings via the links below...

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Weekend Event Guide: Films, a 'Super Swap', bunnies, and more

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 17th, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Filmed by Bike 2009-7
Filmed By Bike returns to the Clinton Street Theater this weekend with the big New Belgium Street Party Saturday night.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

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Blumenauer will ride to celebrate new path along Marine Drive

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 17th, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Section of new path in Blue Lake Park adjacent to Marine Drive.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

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Auto traffic diversion still "on the table" for NE Rodney project

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 17th, 2014 at 12:42 pm

NE Rodney near Fremont.

Whenever we report on a new neighborhood greenway project, the discussion always turns to diversion. That is, how will the project promote or prevent a higher volume of driving on a street specifically set aside by the Bureau of Transportation to have "low traffic volume and speed where bicycles, pedestrians and neighbors are given priority."

Last week we shared PBOT's first swing at plans to turn NE Rodney into just that sort of street. And sure enough, many readers asked about diversion.

Reza wrote;

"Can we get some diversion please? Rodney near Russell gets a lot of car traffic from motorists going to Wonder or other nearby establishments continually circling the block for on-street parking."

Craig Harlow wrote;

"PBOT, please start installing diverters along ALL of the n'hood greenways."

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