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Selling the city on "Bike Beats"

Posted by on February 6th, 2007 at 11:32 am

[Taken after our meeting at Northeast Precinct yesterday.]
From L to R, Back row: Commander Jim Ferraris (North Precinct, PPB), Havilah Ferschweiler (N Portland Crime Prevention, ONI) , Commander Bret Smith (NE Precinct, PPB), John Canda (Mayor’s Office of Youth Crime Prevention); Front row: Mary Tompkins (NE Portland Crime Prevention, ONI), Stephanie Reynolds (Crime Prevention Program Manager, ONI), Celeste Carey (NE Portland Crime Prevention, ONI), Jim Hayden (Neighborhood District Attorney, Mult. County)


Yesterday in the Northeast Precinct community meeting room, I sat around a table with eight neighborhood leaders to talk about recent safety issues, and to explore how the bike community might be part of a solution.

John Canda, head of the Mayor’s Office of Youth Crime Prevention, called the meeting after he and I met two weeks ago.

Around the table were:

I was grateful for the chance to represent the bike community to such an esteemed group.

The meeting started out with a discussion of recent assaults in the area. NE Precinct Commander Bret Smith said he feels this is not a “bicyclist issue” and that he has not noticed a marked increase in reports of assaults on cyclists.

I think Commander Smith assumed I was in the room to pound my fists and demand that the Police do more to protect cyclists. I made it clear to him and everyone else that I wasn’t there to complain, but to say that I think bicycles can play a larger role in building stronger and safer neighborhoods.

Once everyone figured out where I was coming from, we had a lively and positive discussion about creating a new, neighborhood-based, city-wide, volunteer bike patrol program. The idea is to utilize the infrastructure of Portland’s existing Foot Patrol Program.

Stephanie Reynolds is in charge of that program and, after addressing a few of her concerns, she seemed very keen on moving forward.

Others had some minor concerns and questions about how a bike patrol program would work. We openly discussed these concerns and none of them proved serious enough to cause hesitation.

By the end of the meeting, everyone around the table was enthusiastic about moving forward.

It’s important to note that my immediate goal is not to “patrol”, stop crime, or go out and bust people (hence the name, “Bike Beats”).

The purpose is just to get more people on bikes out in the neighborhoods. And no, this is not about promoting bicycle use, it’s about community interaction, building relationships and making neighborhood involvement fun and appealing to a new group of volunteers.

Next steps:

On the recommendation of Commander Smith and Ms. Reynolds, I’ll write a post with more details about Neighborhood Bike Beats. Then, I’ll ask for your feedback and whether or not you’d like to take part. The City will then send that post out to neighborhood associations and other community group email lists to get as much feedback as possible.

If there’s enough community support for the program, they’ll move forward.

Because not everyone has access to the web, feedback on this site will not be the only way to offer input. Once we’re sure at least a base of support exists for the program, we’ll have a community meeting to present the program, listen to more feedback and try and garner more support.

I think this is a very positive step forward, and I’m excited to hear what you all think about it. Stay tuned for more details and an opportunity to weigh in.

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Comments
  • bArbaroo February 6, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    A very positive step indeed! Jonathan -thanks again for your approach to this and for getting involved.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis February 6, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    This should serve as an example to everyone of community-based problem solving.

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  • gabrielamadeus February 6, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I too applaud this effort, way to go!

    One small comment though, “bike beats” seems like a risky choice with the recent police media scandals. That is a little too close to “bike beat downs” or something similar. I just wouldn’t want the importantness of the patrols be weaked by a simple mockery like this.

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  • Dan Kaufman February 6, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    As a rare but long-time member of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Foot Patrol I think this is a great idea. I’ve often wanted to take my bike instead walk but the rules prevented us from doing so. Now, perhaps we will have the option.

    I can see advantages to both means of neighborhood patrols (or beats). E.g. walking might be a bit more personable while cycling allows greater coverage. Allowing cycles might spur on new members.

    Please keep us posted, Jonathan, and I’ll be sure to bring this concept up to our Brooklyn Action Corps.

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  • Dan Callaway February 6, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve been following your posts about this Jonathan. As a resident of N. Portland (off of N Killingsworth) whom is also an all-season bike commuter, I think the potential of this project sounds great, particularly the opportunity to become involved with my neighborhood AND be on a bike. I look foward to hearing more!

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  • Cowboy_X February 6, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    I’m moving from SE to NE Fremont in a couple weeks. I have no idea what to expect, but if this is part of the area in question, please add me to the list of potential volunteers.

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  • organic brian February 6, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Totally Awesome. Is there a communications medium for this effort? A very enthusiastic person named Erica started a new email list after some discussion on the Critical Mass list, here is part of her post:

    *******************************************

    I’ve created a new list for everyone interested in continuing our discussion/brainstorming and putting that into action:

    http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/bikeforgood

    Please join if you are interested in neighborhood rides, more bike+community involvement, a Portland Burrito Project, and all things positive on bicycles.

    *******************************************

    I don’t know if there is enough overlap of goals for people interested in this effort to join the list, but anyway there is a resource for collaboration.

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  • organic brian February 6, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    “Because not everyone has access to the web…”

    In this town, EVERYONE has access to the Web. There are libraries and cafes all over the place, not to mention laundromats and other types of freely accessible locations, that have Internet terminals, many of them donation-supported. Nobody is being excluded by reliance on online communication, which is the most efficient for many people.

    I know some people who don’t have any I-net at home / work, but still rarely go a day w/out checking email.

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  • Ninja February 7, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Actually, everyone who can’t afford a laptop or a daily latte has extremely limited access to the internet. Check out the line at the library for the free, 15 minutes of internet time sometime.

    ‘Tis true, not everyone has access to the web so other forms of outreach and notification are warrated.

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  • joe adamski February 7, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Along with ONI and Police, consider working with Neighborhood AND Business Associations. Not just “informational” relationships. Ask the NAs and BAs what they can add to the process and encourage/invite participation. Perhaps NAs might use their contact networks to gather more participants, not only cyclists,but peds etc.. and cultivate a network of ‘block homes’ friendly to the cause for support, aid stations, a garage to deal with a breakdown,etc.

    Business Assoc. also are important contacts. Business owners know whats happening where.. and know their involvement in critical to successful and connected communities.

    Cyclists going it alone without extended support of the surrounding communities are likely to be seen as outsiders butting in. Cyclists working with the community will create a safer community and build valuable relationships.

    and Im all for that.

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  • organic brian February 7, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    “Actually, everyone who can’t afford a laptop or a daily latte has extremely limited access to the internet.”

    Dammitt, this is not true! There is no “digital divide” in Portland, Oregon. I’ve many times gone into Red & Black Cafe, used an Internet terminal, and bought nothing from the cafe. Nobody hassled me about it. Later, when more financially prosperous, I’d drop twenty bucks into the donation jar for the I-net and buy a bunch of food, but I didn’t have to. The wait at libraries doesn’t necessarily make the I-net inaccessible, you just have to wait A FEW MINUTES.

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  • Disgusted chick February 7, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    now I’m not so disgusted and full of smooches.

    Talking Drum books might be another place to do some outreach. Maybe getting some kids from the Teen Program at Boys and Girls Club right across from the NE Precinct. They do some leadership stuff, so. . . .

    You actually get an hour at the library, NoPo has a computer lab that can sometimes shorten the wait. Every kid my kid knows in N/NE has access to email nearly every day. The library is a another place to hook up local folks for the bike patrol business, where maybe some bike ed can morph into kids buying in.

    -a markedly happier chick

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  • adam February 8, 2007 at 12:16 am

    reaching out to people in person(or on whatever terms work best) will be beneficial whether or not you think there is a digital divide in Portland(by the way, there most certainly is).

    This program(whatever it is ultimately called) will be a huge asset to our community. I would love to participate.

    One other item – based on your report, Jonathan, it sounds as if cmdr. Smith did not have many facts or any data regarding bike safety: “NE Precinct Commander Bret Smith said he feels this is not a “bicyclist issue” and that he has not noticed a marked increase in reports of assaults on cyclists”. FEELS? NOTICED?

    In the past, we have been told by the PPB that they would be more forthcoming with data but I have seen no movement on this issue.

    Is there a way that we can encourage people like cmdr Smith to be proactive about reporting crime FACTS as well as their great strategies to reduce said Crime? No one is accusing the Sizer regime of being transparent, but, as a community – should not we have access to the Facts? I certainly Feel as though we should.

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