New signals on Couch at Broadway and first-ever ‘pedestrian scramble’ are up and running

Posted by on November 24th, 2015 at 3:03 pm

New signals on NW Couch-5.jpg
One of the first people to wait at the new signal at Broadway and Couch.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation just flipped the switch on new traffic signals at Northwest Couch and Broadway, 10th and 11th Avenues. The signals on Broadway are on a major bike route where they were first flagged as necessary four years ago. At the intersection of Couch and 11th, PBOT has installed Portland’s first ever “pedestrian scramble signal.”


Get Metro's newly updated Bike There! map

Very few poor people drive to work downtown

Posted by on November 24th, 2015 at 1:49 pm

The Portland area has invested $4.8 billion in a regional public rail network, and currently spends $313 million a year to hold down ticket prices on the system.

Another several million dollars each year go toward expansions of the region’s biking network.

Despite that investment, at least one Portland city council member has been arguing in the lead-up to a hearing next month that the public should also be subsidizing downtown car trips.

His reasoning: some of the people who drive downtown are poor.


A congressman, ice-cream, fruitcake, and 1,000 bikes for kids

Posted by on November 24th, 2015 at 11:57 am

Fruitcake challenge at Community Cycling Center-2.jpg
Rep. Blumenauer at the Community Cycling Center this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Looking to make his famous holiday fruitcake last even longer, Portland’s representative in the United States Congress, Earl Blumenauer, has issued a citywide challenge: He wants Portlanders to help provide 1,000 bikes for kids in the month of December.


This blog will put you inside a TriMet bus operator’s head

Posted by on November 23rd, 2015 at 3:29 pm


Perspective is everything.

If I’ve learned anything in 10 years of blogging about bikes it’s that empathy for other people’s views is the key to quality discourse, policymaking, and reporting. Heck, I’d even say that walking, riding, and driving in someone else’s shoes might be the most powerful way for us to improve road culture in general.

That’s one reason I’m happy to have come across a new (to me) blog written by a TriMet bus operator.

For two and-a-half years now the From the driver’s side blog has offered what its author, The Deacon in Blue, calls, “Musings from a contemplative bus operator’s point of view.”

From what I’ve read so far, the blog offers important insights into what it’s like to operate a TriMet bus on Portland’s busy streets.

I first heard about it thanks to a reader who emailed us an excerpt from a post published yesterday titled, Blame sharing for tragic incidents. In that post The Deacon (I don’t know his/her real name) offers thoughts after a woman lost her leg following a collision with a MAX train on November 16th.


Here’s what those orange bikes around Northeast Portland are all about

Posted by on November 23rd, 2015 at 3:12 pm

orange bike
A bike placed on NE Broadway to market
a new gym in the area.
(Photo via Tim Dowell)

A new gym that opened recently in Portland’s Lloyd District is following its national marketing playbook and distributing a handful of orange-painted bikes on nearby streets.

It’s the same phenomenon we covered in January when the same chain, Orangetheory Fitness, had recently opened locations in Beaverton and Tigard.

In an interview Monday, Orangethoery Oregon Regional Director Amanda Goolsby said her team plans to keep shifting them around nearby streets indefinitely.

“They don’t just stay out,” she said. “We take them down daily. We move them around.”


Bicycle ‘boneyard’ under I-5 freeway is a haven for thieves

Posted by on November 23rd, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Bike parts litter the ground at “the boneyard” under I-5 along the Eastbank Esplanade.
(Photo: Portland Police Bureau)

Portland police officers call it “the boneyard” and frustration is growing about how to clean it up once and for all.


The Monday Roundup: Stop-sign messages, a cryptocurrency for walking and more

Posted by on November 23rd, 2015 at 9:22 am

stop signs
Stop sign instruction database.
(Image: Portlandness: a Cultural Atlas of Portland)

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

“Stop” signs: A new book of creative Portland maps includes a comprehensive directory of everything Southeast Portland’s traffic-sign graffiti artists don’t want you to do.

City liable: A California city will pay $5.8 million because a judge said “narrow bike lanes and lack of streetlights” contributed to an alleged drunk driver’s fatal rear-ending of a man on a bike.


Comment of the Week: South Dakota’s official road fatality markers

Posted by on November 20th, 2015 at 3:38 pm

think sign
An idea from another state.
(Photo: GasFoodNoLodging.com)

I’ve rarely seen BikePortland readers as frustrated as many seemed to be beneath Wednesday’s post about the state of Oregon’s decision to remove temporary memorials to people killed on state roads because they (the memorials, not the people who were killed) might cause people to slow down or stop while driving.

A huge wave of upvotes backed many of the black-humor responses that followed.

But amid the well-written venting was an interestingly constructive suggestion: if Oregon feels that handmade memorials are distracting, maybe it should create its own official memorials instead — just like South Dakota does.

That was the comment from BikePortland reader GlowBoy, who (if I’ve been following his comments correctly) recently relocated from Portland to Minneapolis:

I think we should have a monument to remember every single person who’s been killed by (or on) a road facility.

Oregon ought to enact the same law requiring signs like those in South Dakota, marking EVERY SINGLE SPOT where a person has died on their roads. SD may not be considered a very progressive state, but I think it’s a brilliant idea and should be copied everywhere.


How Sunday Parkways helps bridge Portland’s racial divides (video)

Posted by on November 20th, 2015 at 2:28 pm

When I started getting seriously interested in bicycles a few years ago, I already knew they were pollution-free, cheap, healthy, quiet, nonlethal and space-efficient.

What threw me for a loop, when I was talking to other Portlanders who were already interested in bicycles, was that they kept talking about community. Biking (and walking, and public transit) connected them with their neighbors and surroundings in a way that driving can’t.

The idea, it turned out, is backed up by science.


Future of bike trails uncertain with release of River View management plan

Posted by on November 20th, 2015 at 1:11 pm

The River View parcel (foreground) is very close to downtown Portland and its trails are in demand.
(Photo from River View Natural Area Management Plan)

The Portland parks bureau has released its final management plan for the River View Natural Area and they’ve left the door cracked open — ever so slightly — for the possibility of off-road cycling access in the future. However, because the city’s process prevented a robust discussion of all potential trail uses, the plan is full of uncertainty. If it’s adopted by City Council as scheduled in mid-December it could have the unintended consequence of making it harder to allow cycling even if the city’s own planning process deems it appropriate at a later date.


Opinion: Welcome to blame the victim season

Posted by on November 20th, 2015 at 11:26 am

“The bicyclist was wearing dark clothing and had no rear lighting on the bicycle.”
— Oregon State Police statement

For the past week I’ve been standing by, reading headline after headline about “distracted pedestrians.” And then I get this in my inbox (emphases mine):

The Oregon State Police is continuing it’s investigation into Thursday evening’s fatal crash involving a bicyclist.

At approximately 9:05PM a Lane County Deputy in a patrol vehicle was traveling northbound on SR99W near MP118 (just south of Beltline Highway in Eugene) when he struck a female bicyclist in the northbound slow lane. The female was pronounced deceased on scene.

The highway was blocked for approximately 1 hour. The highway was then partially open, reduced to one lane in each direction. The scene was cleared at 1:00AM.

Preliminary information indicates the bicyclist was traveling northbound in the travel lane at the time of the incident. The bicyclist was wearing dark clothing and had no rear lighting on the bicycle. It was full darkness with very little ambient lighting when the crash occurred.


Commissioner Fritz questions city plan to legalize tiny homes near property lines, a perk currently given to auto storage

Posted by on November 20th, 2015 at 10:55 am

Sally Spear, right, lives in a backyard home in Northeast Portland with her daughter’s family.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Until this week, Portland seemed poised to eliminate one of the many ways it prioritizes housing for cars over housing for people.

For decades, there’s been exactly one way to build a 15-foot-tall structure up to the edge of most Portland property lines: put a car in it.

Want an accessory dwelling unit the same size as a garage? Sorry, that’ll have to be set back five feet from the property line, even if it has no windows or doors facing the property edge.

Bike sheds currently face the same restriction: unlike garages that were designed for cars, bike sheds must be at least five feet away from the property line in all single-family residential zones.


Weekend Event Guide: Cranksgiving, a kermesse, yoga, and more

Posted by on November 19th, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Last year’s haul from Cranksgiving.
(Photo: Mick Orlosky)

This menu of delicious rides and events is brought to you by our friends at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Their support makes BikePortland possible.

We know what you’re thinking: Ride? In this weather? That’s what most people think, but you’re different. You embrace the beauty of this time of year and you relish the empty bikeways that were chock full of people just a few weeks ago.

And besides, it’s a time to be thankful for our freedom to ride. Or should I say crankful? Saturday is Cranksgiving where you and 100 of your fellow Portlanders will come together to talk, ride bikes, and help people in need.

What are your plans? Check out our suggestions below…

But first, here’s the forecast:


City finalizes plans for SE Clinton, promises two diverters by January

Posted by on November 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Detail of diverter that should be on the ground
at SE 32nd by January.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving forward on their plans to tame auto traffic on Southeast Clinton.

In a statement released today, the city clarified their intentions to install diverters and take other actions to improve cycling conditions and discourage people from driving on Clinton — a street set-aside as a low-stresss bicycling route that has seen traffic skyrocket as nearby Division Street has added housing and businesses.

As part of their Clinton Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement Project, here’s what PBOT has announced:


Republican legislators call for ODOT director to quit over emissions claims

Posted by on November 19th, 2015 at 11:55 am

ODOT Director Matt Garrett
Matt Garrett has led ODOT since 2005.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A few weeks after left-leaning former Metro president David Bragdon all but called for the firing of Oregon’s top transportation official, legislative Republicans are calling for it explicitly.

Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett is facing criticism from both sides over the incident, earlier this year, when his office and Gov. Kate Brown’s temporarily claimed that tens of millions of dollars in freeway investments would be part of reducing long-run carbon emissions in Oregon by more than 2 million metric tons.


State’s ORcycle app is now a one-stop shop for reporting road safety issues

Posted by on November 19th, 2015 at 8:35 am

orcycle screenshot
A screenshot from the
ORcycle app.

If you run into a bike safety problem in Oregon and own a smartphone, you no longer need to know who to complain to.

The ORcycle mobile app, a partnership between the Oregon Department of Transportation and Portland State University, has just been hooked up directly to the state’s “Ask ODOT” hotline, which has pledged to forward all reports it receives about bike safety issues to the appropriate local agency — or to its own team, if the road is owned by ODOT.

It’s a huge leap for the project, which has existed in demo form for a year but has been little-used because any reports were stashed for weeks or months under PSU’s supervision rather than piped directly to ODOT, let alone forwarded to other agencies.

Now, however, the free app has been integrated directly into the state agency’s operations.


BikeCraft is gift making and buying the Portland way

Posted by on November 18th, 2015 at 2:40 pm


Since 2005 Portlanders have come in from out of the cold and huddled together for a holiday shopping tradition unlike any other: BikeCraft, a holidy gift bazaar for bike lovers.

This year’s event is on the weekend of December 12th and 13th.


Most of those new traffic victim memorials will be gone soon: Here’s why

Posted by on November 18th, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Most of them will be gone by next week.
(Photo: Oregon Walks)

On Sunday in the pouring rain, dozens of activists and family members of people who have been killed in traffic crashes erected memorials at 135 locations throughout Portland. The effort was part of the national World Day of Remembrance to End Traffic Deaths. The ghostly white silhouettes were ziptied to sign poles adjacent to some of the most dangerous major streets in the region — most of them owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

No more than 24 hours later ODOT maintenance crews started taking some of them down.

One of the event organizers said at first she was angered, but after contacting ODOT she now plans to remove most of them this weekend.

Kristi Finney with Families for Safe Streets, whose son Dustin was killed by a drunk driver while he biked on SE Division in 2011, didn’t ask for ODOT’s permission prior to the event. “We suspected they would take them down if we affixed them to their property,” she told us via email yesterday.

Even so, Finney added, “I feel dismay that out of all the priorities ODOT should have, removing these memorials of people killed on their unsafe roads was made a top one. Really, they couldn’t even leave them through the outbound rush hour?”


Let the city know (again) if you support diverters on SE Clinton

Posted by on November 18th, 2015 at 12:39 pm

clinton speed
The issue on Clinton.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In a digital companion to its Nov. 5 open house, Portland is circulating another online survey taking the political temperature of Clinton Street residents, businesses and users about traffic diverters on a busy stretch of Clinton Street.

It takes about 30 seconds to complete.

This is the second online survey asking how people feel about the city installing an experimental diverter in the 30th and Clinton area to see what happens to traffic patterns. The current proposal is to install one test diverter at 32nd, in addition to one planned for 17th.


Brazen bike thief appears in court facing prison sentence and $250,000 bail

Posted by on November 18th, 2015 at 11:48 am

Parsons appeared via video at the Justice Center in downtown Portland this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office is sick and tired of Leroy Parsons gaming the system.

Parsons, arguably Portland’s most brazen and prolific perpetrator of bike theft, appeared in court today. He was arrested last week for bike theft and the DA has upgraded his charges to include 16 total counts, including nine felony charges (several of which are for bike theft) and an increased bail amount aimed in keeping him locked up until sentencing.

If convicted on all counts Parsons could face a lengthy prison term. But that’s a big if.