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No paving until 2017 because of 'bike routes'? Not exactly - UPDATED

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 17th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

PBOT spent $4.7 million paving Sandy Blvd this summer
— despite what you might have read in The Oregonian
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Remember back in February when The Oregonian splashed their big, "Portland's Road to Ruin" story on the front page? The story aimed to create the perception among readers that the Bureau of Transportation was spending so much on "bike routes" they had nothing left for paving. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No paving until 2017.

Today, PBOT released a list of paving projects completed this summer that shows, contrary to The Oregonian's article, the agency has been very busy paving streets. Since February, they've poured millions of dollars into over a dozen projects to smooth out roads.

Compare the facts (more details below) with what The Oregonian's Beth Slovic wrote back in February; "... [PBOT] has shelved plans... to overhaul any other badly deteriorating road in its 5,000-mile system -- until at least 2017." "The bureau has other priorities," she continued, "such as $900,000 to build 13.5 miles of bike routes.*"

That headline was designed to get people fired up. And it worked. Hundreds of angry comments poured onto OregonLive.com, a few months later The Columbian newspaper parroted the "no paving until 2017" line in an editorial blasting Portland's priorities, mayoral candidate Charlie Hales trumpeted the article on his website as a reason Portland needs a "roads first, back to basics" focus (thankfully, he later removed reference to the article), and Sheila Hamilton, co-host of popular radio morning Dave & Sheila on KINK-FM, was irate.

The Oregonian front page on February 26th, 2012: Designed to shock.

The day the article came out, Hamilton went onto her show and spread the misleading story she just read in The Oregonian to her many listeners. Here's a transcript taken from her show on February 29th:

"The transportation bureau has now decided to shuffle $900,00 to building 13.5 new miles of bike lanes; but all of your street maintenance will be delayed until 2017. No new paving. No pothole filling until 2017! Put it this way, if you think it's bad now, it's going to get a lot worse."

Then, a few minutes later, Hamilton drove home her point:

"They [PBOT] have a 5,000 mile system and they've decided not to fill another pothole or repave anything until 2017. They're not doing anything until 2017! And you know why? Because they're building 13.5 miles of bike routes.... I will tell you, until cyclists start paying taxes to pay for the roads, people are going to be ticked off about this."

Like The Oregonian, Hamilton painted a dire picture...

"Hey I'm a cyclist too and I love being on our bike routes. It's amazing. It's so great. Except for when Portland turns into a third-world country and the only way you'll be able to get to work on your bike, we'll be in trouble."

It's easy to see how a rant like this could spring from The Oregonian's coverage. It's also easy to see how it fans the flames of the "bicyclists don't pay for the roads" meme. "They should pay their fair share," said Hamilton's co-host, to which she replied, "Especially given how much money we're shoveling over to those bike lanes. We've been doing it for 10 years while everything else falls into disrepair."

It was a seductive narrative for a news organization with a long history of dishonest and harmful anti-bike reporting directed at a public all too eager to lap it up. It was also very misleading.

According to a list released by PBOT today (at the request of BikePortland), since April of this year, the agency has completed 15 paving projects encompassing 40 lane-miles of roads throughout the city to the tune of nearly $8.2 million. UPDATE: In addition, PBOT is set to begin a major paving project on SE Division next month (from SE 11th to Cesar Chavez Blvd) that will cost them $3.3 million. Here's the updated list (PDF):

Paving projects: 15 of them, over 40 miles, and over $8 million.
(- PDF version- )

The truth about PBOT's budget (which Slovic knew and reported on in that story, but buried in order to promote the no paving narrative) is that only one category of paving projects were eliminated in the 2012-13 budget. Given their huge expense, PBOT zero'ed out "contract paving" where they hire a construction firm to completely tear up and replace a street. The rest of the budget included $9 million in paving expenses. Too bad Hamilton — and thousands of other Portland residents are not aware of those facts.

Unfortunately for us, the damage is already done. The Oregonian clearly manipulated the facts in order to drive home their anti-Sam Adams, anti-bicycling agenda. They won't have to deal with Adams much longer (he leaves office in January); but bicycling isn't going anywhere.

——

This also underscores a larger point. PBOT desperately needs to regain the narrative around their work. The fact that I had to request this list of paving projects, and couldn't easily find them on a public website, shows they need to be more proactive in touting all their projects — not just the ones that make them look bike-friendly. Every month or so there seems to be a bike-related press release or press event; but when's the last time PBOT called a press conference for a paving project? Perhaps it's time. We need all the help we can get to bust this myth.

*Another very misleading part of The Oregonian's article is that PBOT is spending $900,000 on 13.5 miles of "bike routes". That budget line-item is referring to is for work on neighborhood greenways. These are low-traffic, residential streets where the City installs speed bumps, sharrows, lowers the speed limit to 20 mph, improves crossings, and so on. To call these projects "bike routes" is quite a stretch. They are more neighborhood safety projects than simply "bike routes" — but of course that wouldn't fit the narrative as well.

UPDATE #1, 9/17 at 6:19 pm: Beth Slovic has demanded a correction of my first paragraph where I said she claimed PBOT would spend "zero" on paving until 2017. Her editor Michelle Brence also says via Twitter that this story is "wrong." I disagree with them that my story is inaccurate or wrong. It is clear to me that the way the story was written, it was meant to be misleading (as evidenced by the radio show host's comments and The Columbian editorial board's interpretation of it). I have edited that first paragraph to show that Slovic and her editors meant to create a false perception. In my opinion, they included the right facts in the story, but did so with a purpose to mislead and perpetuate a false narrative they have participated in greatly. (See update #3 below)

UPDATE 2, 9/18 at 9:01 am: In case you are wondering, this story was initially published with a sentence in the first paragraph that read, "The hook for the story was a claim that the Bureau of Transportation was spending so much on "bike routes" they had nothing left for paving. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No paving until 2017." After Slovic contacted me demanding a correction, I re-considered that line and made some edits. Here's more in my comment about this to a reader below.

UPDATE 3 9/18 at 11:35am: After further research, I now know that The Oregonian article is factually incorrect (in addition to being misleading). I am still gathering information and will post an update tomorrow.

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Comments
  • Andrew Self September 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Anyone who says that Portland prioritizes bike routes over street paving has obviously never actually ridden on many of Portland's bike routes.

    Recommended Thumb up 46

  • Gary Charles September 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I'm sure the Oregonian will do the right thing and run a story about how wrong they were above the fold on the front page any day now, right?

    Recommended Thumb up 23

    • Arem September 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      Here's my narrative: The Oregonian is harmful to Oregonians.

      Recommended Thumb up 43

  • Kasandra September 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks for great investigative journalism, Jonathan!

    Recommended Thumb up 24

  • Brian September 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I heard her rant about this on KINK, and stopped listening to the show. Lame.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Duncan Idaho-Stop September 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      The people who always rant about how bicyclists "should pay their fair share", they must be REALLY mad when they see cars with Washington plates driving around town, clogging up the roads, taking up parking. Oh, they're not?

      Recommended Thumb up 39

      • Oliver September 18, 2012 at 8:54 am

        And Washington licence plates as far as the eye can see on I-5 NB during the evening commute.

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  • Andrew K September 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    uggh!! I can't tell you how much the Oregonian frustrates me, Beth Slovic in particular. I don't want the Oregonian to be pro-bike or anti-bike, I want them to report facts without spin!

    I am 100% confident that my side will win out when the simple facts are presented.

    I'm sorry if I'm sounding like I'm going into attack mode but Beth Slovic does this so often with her stories. I remember about a year back she wrote a story about Electric Vehicles that was so utterly false in so many ways (An EV will leave you stranded if it starts to rain!!) I nearly punched my computer screen. Watching her bate our candidates for mayor on TV was just as rage inducing.

    It's not journalism, but instead trash talking disquised as reporting. She is not the only one at the Oregonian that does it, but I seem to notice her a lot more than the others, maybe because she just reports on the issues I tend to pay attention to.

    No offense to Jonathan meant here (you do a fantastic job my man!!) but it is sad when I get more information from a blog over the paid professionals working for a newspaper.

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    • albyn September 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Virtually the only real journalists these days ARE bloggers. "Paid professionals working for a newspaper" are paid to sell newspapers, not to investigate or report truthfully.

      Recommended Thumb up 27

    • michelle September 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      I hesitate to even call Beth Slovic a reporter, but she is the worst of the worst and it's clear that she follows the directive of the publisher and writes the slant he wants regardless of the accuracy.

      My partner and I were discussing how some of the best print journalism in town is being done by Street Roots. Seriously.

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    • Kim D September 18, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Hey Andrew - would you not agree that Jonathan is more informed over bike issues as this is his passion? Doubtful those at the Oregonian are as passionate over cycling advocacy. I wouldn't expect the O to be as "in the know".

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      • Kristen September 18, 2012 at 11:28 am

        I don't expect them to be as "in the know" as Jonathan is, but I do expect them to be unbiased. Which the Oregonian definitely isn't.

        To clarify: I expect the editorials to be biased, I expect the news stories to be unbiased.

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        • 9watts September 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

          "I expect the editorials to be biased"

          We've sunk that low?
          I expect the editorials in any paper or blog or magazine to be interesting, thought provoking, reflective. To me, having an opinion and expressing it well is not the same thing as being biased.

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  • SilkySlim September 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    So, what is the breakdown of PBOT's budget? I would love to see a breakdown of the types of project they fund on a yearly basis. Anyone have this?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Alan 1.0 September 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

      ...including the sources of their funds (which taxes, etc). I've asked about that for years, so far no answers.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • ScottG September 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Excellent reporting - the Oregonian needs to be held accountable for spreading misinformation.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • Art Fuldodger September 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    "According to a list released by PBOT today (at the request of BikePortland), since April of this year, the agency has completed 15 paving projects..."

    Jonathan, just an accuracy detail: you might want to change from the past tense to present progressive, since about $1.5 million of these will be done between now & next spring, according to the list you've shown.

    But your point is well taken, indeed.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Bjorn September 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    As a regular user of Sandy Blvd, I'd like to note that not only did they spend a ton of money repaving it, there are still absolutely no bicycle facilities at all on the section they are paving.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • A.K. September 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    ... and the first thing all the drivers do when they get their lanes repaved (or otherwise worked on) is bitch bitch bitch, whine whine WHINE about all the traffic delays.

    The I-5 repaving delays were a perfect example.

    So, if they don't want the delays, I'll gladly take the repaving money and spend it on bike facilities...

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Evan Manvel September 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Adams leaves office in January, not November.

    Great article, Jonathan!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • davemess September 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    jonathan, perhaps you want to stop linking the Oregonian articles and giving them the website hits. It's almost attune to giving them free publicity (even if some of us want to go on there and set the commentators straight).

    I know we shouldn't bury our heads in the sandy (like what I did there?) and pretend like they don't exist, but maybe you don't need to make it so easy for people to help boost their revenue.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 18, 2012 at 9:30 am

      I considered not linking to it davemess, but I want people to read the source because it's important to my critique. Thanks.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Bike Bend September 18, 2012 at 10:33 am

        I agree that it is important to link to stories that you or any blogger refer to. However, news consumers can refuse to buy the Oregonian and while online not click on articles written by reporters or columnists who are simply "shock-writers" employed to sell newspapers like the Oregonian's sports writer who is nicknamed "Clownzano" for very good reasons. (I haven't wasted any of my time reading Canzano's attempts to create controversy for years now.) If writers don't get sufficient clicks there is a chance they and/or their editors might get the message that their writing needs to be improved. A constant barrage of letters to the editor complaining might have an impact also. (P.S. I refuse to buy either the print or online version of the Bulletin for similar reasons.)

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Bruce September 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Could someone please link me to the sign-up for the program where bikers are exempt from paying taxes? I must have missed it.

    Recommended Thumb up 25

  • Jimmy September 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I actually cancelled my (8 year old) Oregonian subscription over this article. When I called to cancel they didn't even bother to ask why.

    The guy that did eventually call me back asking me to re-subscribe thought I was completely insane when I complained about their anti-bike agenda and bike vs. car sensationalism.

    Eventually (about a month ago) I signed back up because I missed the paper and felt petty.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • ME 2 September 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      That's hilarious because I have a similar story. My wife signed up because they offered a killer deal, but when the time was up they cancelled and kept calling to resign us up. After a few times, I finally told them to stop calling me and that I'll never pay for the O because of their poor bike reporting. The strange thing is that while they haven't called back, they just started delivering it to me a few days ago.

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  • Lenny Anderson September 17, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    When two people choose to bike instead of drive, they make room on our roadways for a semi tractor-trailer or for two drivers who really need their cars. Bike lanes serve everyone, or to put it another way..."Hey, I can be in my car in front of you, mister, or on my bike along side! Which is it!"

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • dwainedibbly September 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Isn't BikePortland affiliated with the Oregonian? If you continue to refuse to end this association, can't you at least ask for a retraction?

    Beth Slovic is a perfect example of how far journalism has fallen.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      No. I am no longer affiliated with The Oregonian.

      This blog was published on The Oregonian for about 3 months back in 2005 before I left because I didn't think they fully understood how to run blogs.

      Then I partnered with them for a year in 2010 as part of The Oregonian News Network. I decided to not discontinue the partnership after the first year of my one year commitment.

      One of the reasons I discontinued the partnership was precisely because of this type of journalism that I didn't want to be associated with in any shape, way, or form.

      Recommended Thumb up 29

  • Beth Slovic September 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Jonathan,

    I don't begrudge you your opinion. Thank you for acknowledging that this post represents your opinion.

    I'll add to this conversation what I told you in my request for a correction to your original piece, which inaccurately claimed I reported that PBOT would spend "zilch" on repaving.

    Here's one paragraph from the February story that appeared in the 2,400-word story's lead. (http://tinyurl.com/848ff3d):

    "The bureau still plans to spend nearly $13 million on roads -- filling potholes, sealing cracks and undertaking minor repaving projects. But the proposed budget, set for approval in June, continues a years-long trend of flat spending on street maintenance even as the budget rises."

    Beth Slovic
    The Oregonian

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 17, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment Beth.

      You'll note that in my post above, I wrote about the truth of PBOT's budget, "which Slovic knew and reported on in that story, but buried in order to promote the no paving narrative."

      This is a nuanced critique. I have always known that your story contained accurate information; however in my opinion it was presented in a way to purposefully mislead readers. I still believe that. If you feel my story above is "still wrong" as you and your colleagues have been tweeting, please let me know what exactly is "wrong" and I will do my best to correct it.

      Recommended Thumb up 38

      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 18, 2012 at 9:33 am

        Just as an update, I'm still getting clarifications from PBOT and it appears that they will indeed be undertaking major "contract paving" projects before 2017. Slovic might not have been able to know that at the time of her story, but it underscores the peril of making such bold claims about things as fluid as budgets just to make a misleading point.

        Recommended Thumb up 13

    • My Magic Hat September 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Well, Beth, the interesting thing about an article that asks why roads aren't being re-paved and then leads with "$900,000 to build 13.5 miles of bike routes", is that it is misleading to anybody who is prone to misdirected rage.

      You could just as easily have said, "of the $222 million proposed budget, less than half a percent will be spent on bicycle infrastructure here in 'bike friendly' Portland." I suppose that's too close to reality.

      BTW, I leave my car parked at home and ride to work so that you don't have sit behind me in traffic and so that I don't screw up the roads unnecessarily with the ton of metal I call my car.

      You're welcome.

      . . . I sometimes wonder what it would look like if every cyclist in Portland simultaneously drove their cars for a change . . . to the Oregonian's offices.

      Recommended Thumb up 34

    • A.K. September 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      I don't begrudge you your opinion. Thank you for acknowledging that this post represents your opinion.

      I wish your headline copy writers would acknowledge the same thing.

      Recommended Thumb up 20

    • 9watts September 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      "continues a years-long trend of flat spending on street maintenance even as the budget rises."

      Beth,

      you may be interested that this shortfall in street maintenance is a far larger 'problem' than just Portland or Sam Adams.

      Have a look over here: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mapupus1&f=a
      Asphalt & Road Oil supplied in the US is down 35% just since 2005(!) and on the West Coast it's down 58% from the much earlier peak in 1985, dropping pretty steadily since then.
      Blaming this on bikes (or appearing to do so with crazy font headlines) is farcical. Maybe you've heard that oil prices are high?
      "Spending on street maintenance" may be flat, but the amount of asphalt you can buy for those flat dollars has dropped precipitously in recent years.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

      • 9watts September 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

        ...and it is only going to get worse :-)

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      • A.K. September 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

        Or that since tax payers throw hissy-fits whenever they are asked to pay more, no politician has the minerals to up the pathetically-low gas tax.

        How many years has it been since it was lased raised? Even 1 cent/yr would be a good start.

        Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Terry D September 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      Articles like this one Slovic wrote are the reason why we as a household would never order or pay for the Oregonian.....it is a biased paper that trumps up sensationalism over policy and does nothing to further the actual discussion. It is not just this particular article, but an entire pattern of bias against active transportation and progressive land use. Papers that really are focused on public reporting and the public good do not spin issues this way. This pattern is so persistent that if the Oregonian endorses an idea that I agree with I always look into it further just in case I made a mistake.

      Jonathan does have a very good point though about PBOT's inability to publicize costs related to these paving projects. I looked on-line for a REALLY long time on the Sandy repaving project trying to find out how much it was costing because of this STUPID Oregonian article, and others, forcing this "bikes versus cars" mentality down the public's throat. PBOT should post the costs online for EVERY project, so everyone can see how little bike spending we actually do for the large benefit it gives us.....and where the money is coming from.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Randall S. September 18, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Beth,

      I was highly disappointed to find out that you are not some hack write who got lucky with a job hookup from a friend, but rather a graduate of a highly respected journalism school. As such, you should know better.

      Presenting news in a misleading but technically accurate manner intended to sway reader opinion is anathema to journalism. Your "reporting" simply continues the Oregonian's overall negative trend of poor, biased writing.

      You cannot seriously argue that saying Potland can't fill potholes because it's focusing on building bike lanes isn't intended to be inflammatory. Perhaps you should also start adding that your stories are just that: stories intended to present extremely one-sided and biased views.

      Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Chris I September 18, 2012 at 8:57 am

        Not only is it inflammatory, but it is also flat-out wrong. Just look at PBOT's budget.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Oliver September 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

        Not when some wingnut's angling for a high paying job at fixed news.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 18, 2012 at 11:43 am

      Beth,

      I am continuing to look at PBOT's paving records and their budget. Now it seems like you were indeed factually incorrect in your article. There are streets on the "badly deteriorating" roads spreadsheet you linked to that have been paved and will be paved before 2017. I think perhaps you were confused between "contract paving" and "major paving"? Regardless, I'll try to clean this up and present my thoughts more clearly tomorrow. If the story was inaccurate, I'll expect The Oregonian to issue a correction.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Dwainedibbly September 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan. I'm sorry if that sounded harsh but as a person who rides a bike in Portland you speak for me in a way so there is a temptation to hold you to a higher standard.

    The Oregonian editorial board, otoh, will never speak for me.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • ~n September 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this, Jonathan. It's been on my to-do list for months to write a response to that Oregonian article, but I guess I was too mad. Today I was able to spit it out, thanks to your reporting of the actual paving projects. Ah, catharsis!

    (I almost called the Oregonian the "whOregonian" in my blog post but, I decided that would be in poor taste.)

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • spare_wheel September 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      truth can be distasteful.

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  • Ed September 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you for keeping "journalists" honest.

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  • Kevin Wagoner September 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    That is incredibly shameful of the Oregonian.

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  • Pat Franz September 17, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Beth-

    The fact that you did not print or offer a clarification when everyone got so upset tells me the way you wrote the article got exactly the response you were aiming for.

    The front page placement and your technicality based defense only underlines that.

    I remember the days when The Oregonian was the proud paper of record. No more.

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  • Robert Prinz September 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I've always assumed bike infrastructure was a good bang for the buck for a number of reasons, but wow these numbers really drive the point home! $900k for 13.5 miles of bike routes vs $8.2M for 40 miles of repaving means $66.6k/mile for bikes vs $205K/mile for cars. That means you could build 3 miles of bike routes for every 1 mile of pavement! What a savings!

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Tony Hawk September 17, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Beth, This isn't journalism. Do the people of Oregon a favor and start doing your job.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • CaptainKarma September 18, 2012 at 2:22 am

    The Oregonian, like Tri-Met, is in a death spiral & will likely go to three days a week like is happening in some other cities. They choose to market to a dying generation of old fuds who don't get that internet thing and still think in an old-school 1960s perspective. When they are dead, there'll be no real local newspapers left, not that the O has been one since I came here in in '08. I never did subscribe. Now I feel like contacting advertisers and tellin 'em why not.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • John Liu September 18, 2012 at 4:31 am

    The Oregonian is fish wrap. One of the worst local papers I have ever encountered in a major city. I stopped subscribing.

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  • Mike bodd September 18, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Maybe it is time to relaunch the Oregon Journal.

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  • Granpa September 18, 2012 at 8:22 am

    There is a well regarded paper that is headquartered in NY City. I know for a fact they deliver to your door every morning.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Dan September 18, 2012 at 8:23 am
  • David September 18, 2012 at 8:30 am

    What did the first paragraph of this story originally say?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Hey David,

      Thanks for asking. My story initially said,

      "The hook for the story was a claim that the Bureau of Transportation was spending so much on "bike routes" they had nothing left for paving. Zero. Zilch. Nada. No paving until 2017. "

      I just added another update to the story so that folks have a clearer record.

      Also for the record. Here's Slovic's opening paragraph:

      "The Portland Transportation Bureau, the agency in charge of street maintenance, has shelved plans to repave Northwest 23rd north of Lovejoy Street -- or to overhaul any other badly deteriorating road in its 5,000-mile system -- until at least 2017."

      The "badly deteriorating road" part is important. By saying that and linking to a PBOT PDF of the roads, she is technically correct. The 15 projects I mention are not those roads. And she's right. PBOT decided to eliminate paving those roads from their '12-13 budget. But that nuance is extremely easy to miss for 99.99% of the public and it's my opinion that Slovic and her editors did that purposely to create the illusion that PBOT simply wouldn't pave anything until 2017. And the examples I give about how the article was interpreted is proof of that.

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  • Dan September 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

    When I was riding in to work this morning, I actually noticed that I have to spend a fair bit of time waiting for cars, certainly more than they wait for me. I never noticed it before (I'm still learning to see the world without the car-centric bias) but there it was: I was waiting for cars all the time!

    *Car turning right who has blocked the bike lane, and the light has turned green. That's cool, I'll wait for you.

    *Car in front of me in the left turn lane. I accelerate faster than you, but here I am waiting for you because you're in front of me. No problem dude. As long as you're not checking your email and I miss the chance to get through the light, because then the guy behind us is going to blame it on me.

    *Car stopped in the middle of my crosswalk, trying to turn right to get on the highway. I don't see why you need to stop with your entire car blocking the crosswalk, but whatever. I'll just wait out here until you go by since you seem to be in a hurry.

    *Car coming up behind me on Broadway to get to the right turn lane. Yes, you're crossing my lane to get to the right turn lane, but I wait for you to go by so I can try & sneak into the bike lane, if that's alright with you. You're in a hurry to get to work. And I'm just...pedalling around & whatnot. Now you're sitting there blocking the right turn lane AND the bike lane, so I wait again until you're able to turn. Sheesh.

    *Car coming up behind me and I gotta stop & wait in the bike lane because I need to cross the road to get into the driveway on the other side. Hey, it's your lane I'm trying to cross, I should be patient and let you proceed.

    I'm starting to think we should make cars drive on the sidewalks so they don't impede me so much.

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    • Bike Bend September 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Dan,
      While I am generally against bicyclist riding on sideWALKS I really, really like your suggestion that cars should be required to use sidewalks when available :-). P.S. Bend is finally attempting to enforce the no bike riding on downtown sidewalks law but I am not all that confident that it will help much as the budget for police enforcement is tiny and will run out in about a month.

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  • DerosaBill September 18, 2012 at 8:50 am

    ODOT paid to pave Sandy before they gave it to the City of Portland who will now be responsible for it's maintenance. Paving 0.6% of your lane miles puts you in great position if you think roads can actually last for 167 years.

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  • Steve September 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Loved this! Thank you for researching the facts and bringing them to the light!

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  • Mike September 18, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Are bike lanes being "built" or does the cost refer to the striping of bike lanes? I am of the opinion that I would rather ride on nice, smooth roads(not easy to find in portland) rather than half-ass bike lanes littered with bumps/potholes.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 18, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Mike. That's another extremely misleading part of The Oregonian's article. That $900,000 on 13.5 miles of "bike routes" refers to a budget line-item for work on neighborhood greenways. These are low-traffic, residential streets where the City installs speed bumps, sharrows, lowers the speed limit to 20 mph, improves crossings, and so on. To call these projects "bike routes" is quite a stretch. They are more neighborhood safety projects than simply "bike routes" — but of course that wouldn't fit the narrative as well.

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      • Spencer Boomhower September 19, 2012 at 9:37 am

        A couple years ago I got a front row seat to what I think was one of those "contract paving" projects you mention in the article, the ones that have been zero'ed out by PBOT. It was my street SE 52nd Ave, which had been all old bumpy concrete. It got ripped up down to the dirt, and repaved. I got the sense that the reason this overhaul occurred was to install bioswales and other street improvements, and that they were being installed as part of improvements for the segment of the 50's Bikeway that is routed down this street. If that was the case, it would mean the creation of a bike boulevard was the impetus for a major repaving project.

        Talk about not fitting the narrative!

        (Side note: I miss the old bumpy concrete street. It made for a teeth-rattling bike ride, but I feel like it had a traffic-calming effect in that the noise of it provided a feedback loop to people driving fast down the street. At the very least the noise let you more easily hear fast cars coming. And the bumpy ride made this quiet neighborhood street less welcoming as a shortcut. But I feel weird even saying that since apparently it's the lack of smooth pavement that is the worst of what's wrong in this city, at least from what I can tell from reading the Oregonian.)

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  • ladyfleur September 18, 2012 at 10:36 am

    The irony is that bike lanes and other bike-oriented re-striping is usually done as a part of repaving projects. That way there's virtually no extra cost--they're just painting lines in different locations.

    And you hit the nail on the head about the speed bumps and lower speed limits on greenways. That's classic traffic calming which is traditionally done to make neighborhoods more pleasant more than to make bicycling more pleasant. Not that I'm complaining, it's just a neighborhood project, not a bike project.

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    • 9watts September 18, 2012 at 10:44 am

      But let's not forget that all these projects, whether we think of them as 'bike,' or 'neighborhood,' or 'traffic calming' projects are ALL necessitated by the dominant presence of the automobile. Very nearly all of these expenditures are defensive and derivative. So when we do accounting like this it is really not that straightforward. You can't really say:
      these $$ are being spent to accommodate bikes, and
      these $$ are being spent to accommodate cars

      because in truth if we didn't have so many cars and the social expectation that those inside get to drive them everywhere so fast, we could skip much of the defensive expenditures (now classified as 'for bikes') which really are meant to protect other traffic varieties from cars.

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  • ~n September 18, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Right, and, that gets us to that lingering tax issue. Obvious to so many of us is the fact that cyclists pay road taxes by not taxing the roads. It's Preventative Road Care. In the long run, we're probably paying more tax for less road than motorists. Maybe someone who's great with numbers could take on proving this as their thesis project

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    • Alan 1.0 September 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

      Bikes not only cause less wear on roads and take up less space on roads, they also literally pay more than their share in short term as well as long term. See Table 4 of Whose Roads for the figures which support that conclusion:

      "Non-drivers pay almost the same as motorists for local roads but impose lower costs. As a result, they tend to overpay their share of roadway costs."

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  • Ethan September 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

    We'll never subscribe again. The inflammatory and inaccurate coverage of biking is just the tip of the iceberg. Fascinating how corporate owned media outlets can become so disconnected from their communities, and reality.

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  • Amy September 18, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Not the first time Sheila Hamilton has made the "not paying their fair share" statement. I won't listen to her anymore.

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  • jimbobpdx September 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

    So Bike Portland is shocked - shocked - at the Oregonian's and (regarding bike share) Willamette Week's shallow and sensational coverage of a complicated issue. In order to stoke controversy and drive up readership. Imagine!

    Which is how I've often perceived this blog. The excellent expose above helps clarify things tho. Bike Portland is an advocacy vehicle, intended, I think, to stir the faithful to action. The Oregonian used to be a rather staid but reliable paper of record for Portland. Lately it seems embarked on a wobbly journey to become Fox News in print for Portland - PERS! War on Cars! TriMet! Outrage!

    And it's a footrace between Ms. Slovic and Joseph Rose as to who can put up the most toxic mix of more insinuation/fewer facts.

    It should not be the Oregonian's role to rally the ant-bike, anti-TriMet faithful - let the bloggers do that. After 34 years of the paper landing on our doorstep every day, it's now time to bid the Oregonian farewell and good luck with future endeavors.

    Thank you for this basic bit of journalistic legwork, Bike Portland.

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  • ME 2 September 18, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I have no idea why this bikers not paying their fair share rallying cry keeps coming up. In no way shape or form is my biking riding responsible for the deterioration of these roads. If you want to dedicate money towards paving roads then impose a $25 per tire user fee on studded tires, which are largely responsible for much of the road damage here.

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  • Gil Johnson September 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Changing the name from "bike boulevards" to "greenways" was the city's attempt to market these street changes in a way that makes it appear there is a broader goal than improving bike routes (though the other main element, replacing parking places with bioswales, can't be that popular). The problem with this strategy is that novice bicyclists often don't recognize the fact that these greenways are, in much of the city, a connected network of safer streets. Also, the sharrows have been painted on some fairly busy streets as well as the bike boulevards, so they are basically meaningless.

    In an era of limited resources, I would like our bike infrastructure funds go to truly creating a bike boulevard network, where those bioswales are positioned every three blocks to completely stop through auto traffic, but not bikes. Despite the speed bumps, a lot of drivers use these streets because of the fewer stop signs.

    But as for the Oregonian, sadly, I am going to stop my subscription. I'm one of those geezers who really enjoys reading a newspaper while having my first cup of coffee in the morning, but I can no longer justify subscribing to a shallow, unprofessional paper that has a distinct right-wing bias in both its editorial and news pages.

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  • Jim Lee September 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Aside from the new 5th-6th mall, pavement of streets downtown is in horrible shape, especially for cyclists. An egregious example is Main Street just off the Hawthorne Bridge exit.

    Imagine what money squandered on the $140 million eastside streetcar boondoggle could have done for motorists, cyclists, pedestrians if applied to rebuilding downtown's streets!

    But Michael Powell and his developer buddies WILL have their way with Portland politicians.

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  • GlowBoy September 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Unlike some here, I don't think the Oregonian just recently started becoming sensationalistic and biased. I've been noticing the lack of separation between their reporting and their editorial positions since shortly after moving here in the mid 90s. Anyone who remembers their coverage of salmon issues in the late 90s or their "eco-terrorism" hysteria knows what I'm talking about.

    Their endorsement of George Bush in 2000 pushed me over the edge, it shredded any respect I had left for them. I've still subscribed for much of the time since then, since I still enjoyed having a newspaper (filled mostly with stories reprinted from the wire service) delivered to my doorstep every day, but I finally gave up on that a while ago.

    As for radio .... morning radio hosts have made sport of attacking bicyclists for decades around the country. This wouldn't be a surprise except for KINK's historically great record of community involvement, so I'm very disappointed to see them sinking this low. Guess I hadn't noticed until I read it here though, which shows how little I bother trying to listen to commercial-inundated music stations anymore.

    Looks like these dinosaurs (newspapers and radio) are getting desperate as they breathe their last gasps.

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  • RH September 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I visit bikeportland.org for informative stories about bikes, the cycling community, and to get away from the Oregonion. This current post sounds like 2 schoolkids bickering with all the updates and tweets that have been happening. Let's get back to the real stories.

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  • BicycleDave September 19, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Don't back down Jonathan! The new publisher of the Oregonian is a right wing nut job with an agenda.

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  • aaron September 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Hold the line Maus!

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  • GlowBoy September 19, 2012 at 9:33 am

    This is a real story. The anti-cyclist backlash, fueled by sensationalistic local media, is a real story and has real impacts on cyclists. Keep holding their feet to the fire, Jonathan!

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