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Changes Afoot at BikePortland

Posted by on May 3rd, 2013 at 12:05 pm

For over eight years now, I’ve run BikePortland in pretty much the same way. Give or take a few years when I had the good fortune of working with Elly Blue (as managing editor) and Jonathan Reed (as my ad sales and business guy), this has been a solo operation. Over 15,000 posts, 211,000 comments, 32,000 photos and countless meetings and events. That’s a whole lot of work, stress, ups-and-downs, and screen-time for one person. That’s why today I am very happy to announce that I’m about to get some much-needed help.

BikePortland and Portland Afoot are joining forces.

Since the day he first shared his idea for a magazine about low-car life in Portland, I’ve watched Portland Afoot Founder Michael Andersen develop something special. He has approached his beat and his business with skill and grace and he created a solid following. While we have approached our work from different perspectives and with different business models, we have always believed that more and better coverage of biking, walking, transit, and low-car life is important.

In these past few years, Michael has realized the challenge of creating a financially stable citizen journalism enterprise. In the past few years, I have realized the challenge of not having the help I need to realize BikePortland’s potential. I’ve also known for a while now that if the opportunity to bring Michael into the mix here at BikePortland in a significant way ever presented itself, I would jump at the chance.

This is that chance and I’m taking it.

Michael Andersen-2
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

So far, Michael and I have committed to working together. We’re not exactly sure what form it will take, or what the future holds; but we’ve decided there are too many exciting possibilities to let this opportunity pass. Here’s how Michael explains it:

“Jonathan and I are going to start collaborating more closely. We’re not quite sure yet where we’re going, which channels we’ll use or what sort of news operation will result – but we’re sure that working closely together is the best way to make both organizations better… This collaboration means that we’re going to end some things that haven’t worked, which will let us continue to do things that have worked while creating new things that we think will work.

We are not being vague to annoy you. We just want to do this right and we are taking small steps in feeling our way to a partnership that works. We also want your feedback. As Michael says over on his blog, the only way we are able to do this work is because of your support (that means readers and advertisers) and all the amazing things you do that give us so much to write about.

If you have input on how this partnership could work, we’re all ears. As Michael transitions away from Portland Afoot in its current form, and we begin to put our heads together, we’ll keep you informed — and hopefully inspired — about our future.

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Comments
  • Scott Mizée May 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Congratulations! This makes great sense! I wish you both the best!

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  • Will May 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    This is great news for the Portland region! Congratulations and three cheers!

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  • CaptainKarma May 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    cool.

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  • Nick Falbo May 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Congratulations Jonathan and Michael! This is an exciting step and I look forward to seeing where it heads.

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  • Andrew K May 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Very cool. I am a fan of Michael’s work and of course yours Jonathan so I think this could be a great partnership. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

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  • bh May 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    very cool!

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  • ValorieB May 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    This sounds great, I really enjoy Bike Portland and look forward to learning and reading from Portland Afoot too

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  • Anne Hawley May 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    It really feels like the right time for this consolidation, and I wish you both well! I wasn’t familiar with Portland Afoot until this minute. It will be great to get to know it. I’m looking forward to hearing more.

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  • Alexis May 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Sweet! You both are terrific, and together you’ll be terrificker.

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  • EngineerScotty May 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Excellent news!

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  • KYouell May 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I still feel like a newbie here, but I’ve been a subscriber to Portland Afoot from the first issue. I’m looking forward to what the 2 of you will do!

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  • Jim Lee May 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    F-A-N-T-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

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  • Tim Blumenthal May 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    15,000 posts: amazing! Thanks for your relentless, hard work. Best wishes for even greater success.

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  • Steve B May 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    The future is looking a little brighter. Looking forward to the collabo!

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  • Joe Adamski May 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    There is a 90% overlap between cyclist and pdestrian issues, but not 100%.
    Merging the two communities on the same blog would foster greater awareness..( and hopefully lead to better understanding and respect) but might also delineate issues of contention. Not that this is good or bad, but it certainly could lead to a lively discussion. But the synergy of being able to collaborate and cover more issues with greater depth certainly will stand to inform and hopefully unite bikers and walkers toward working for better facilities and policy for both. BP has been stalwart in informing and helping connect the many voices in the community toward better policy and investment in facilities.
    All the best with this new possibility.

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  • q`Tzal May 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    I’m looking forward to mature, intelligent, fact based debate when your viewpoints don’t align perfectly.
    It can’t always be rainbows and unicorns.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Joe Adamski May 6, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Isn’t that why we have Oregon Live? (snicker snicker)

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  • James F May 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Excellent! now go for the trifecta: tie in Portland Transport somehow!
    http://portlandtransport.com/

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  • Mark May 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    It’s hard to say whether this collaboration will be better or worse for you or your readers. If it’s a loose partnership, where you share resources and lighten the load for one another in strategic areas, I can see some benefits. If it is a true merger, there are potential pitfalls. BikePortland is an inherently more commercial enterprise since it delivers a well-defined readership to a well-defined set of advertisers with products and services to sell. Portland Afoot is a non-profit. A close merger of content could water down the laser-sharp focus and unique voice of each publication. Also, partners require care and feeding, too, even really nice and talented ones. Whatever happens, I am hoping for the best. Your blog is a real treasure.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      Hey Mark,

      It’s hard to say much at this point because we are just at the beginning of figuring out how best to work together. I can say one thing, “merger” is not the right word to describe it. Michael is coming over to BikePortland and will initially helping me make my existing content focus (bicycling) even better and broader. I think we’ll figure out how to do the non-bike specific coverage after we’ve worked together for a while and things are going smooth. Thanks for the feedback… keep it coming!

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  • Zaphod May 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Excellent. This makes perfect sense. A more broad coalition for livability as it relates to transportation and streets.

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  • Mark Allyn May 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Great! Good idea!

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  • Granpa May 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Best of luck with the expanded venture reporting on human powered mobility.

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  • Michael, Portland Afoot May 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks so much for the kind words, Jonathan (and all). Keep the input coming.

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  • dwainedibbly May 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Exciting news indeed! (Mrs Dibbly is a charter subscriber to Portland Afoot, signing up before we moved here from FL and we both love it.) Together, BikePortlandAfoot will be something that “they” can’t ignore. (Will there be some kind of name change or is this going to be a looser confederacy?)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Mr. Dibbly,

      No name change in the plans. We haven’t yet decided how/if to integrate in the non-biking side of things Michael did so well at Portland Afoot. I know what works for BikePortland and its an approach that has served well over these years so I’m not going to change editorial focus without a very careful approach.

      What I do know, is that without someone like Michael on-board, my options for growing in the future are very limited.

      Thanks for all the support!

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      • Michael, Portland Afoot May 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm

        And for what it’s worth, I see things the same way. BikePortland’s current focus and brand are too awesome to dilute. I think it’s safe to say our goal is to make BikePortland’s bike content even better while looking for other ways to keep serving the broader low-car scene.

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        • Cory Poole May 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm

          I can’t wait to see the new bike portland / afoot!

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  • Poky Pedaling Stevens Point May 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    From my outpost in a tiny Wisconsin town, I hope your collaboration with Portland Afoot, whatever form that may take, magnifies the successes of each of you.

    My efforts here to share bikey news with area residents are largely inspired by what BikePortland has achieved over the years. One major thing I learned from following BP – for 3 years as a SE Portland resident and for 3 years as a Cheesehead – is the power of providing a voice for the otherwise invisible minority of people whose transportation needs are rarely, if ever, served by a personal motor vehicle.

    The scope of what I cover on my one-year-old blog pales in comparison to the thorough coverage appearing daily on BP, and I always wonder how you find time and energy for it all. But it is important work you do and I always appreciate it.

    In cities large and small all over the US, bloggers like me are trying to “inform and inspire” local folks, with a goal of getting more ordinary people to ride ordinary bikes in ordinary clothes to ordinary places. A goal which is actually a means towards addressing important global issues.

    Jonathan, you have been one of the early pioneers, showing the rest of us what changes are possible merely by blogging news about bikes. I know you aren’t one to call attention to yourself, but your influence on the national conversation regarding bicycles as transportation is immense.

    I can’t tell from your comments whether your new collaboration with Portland Afoot will be a gradual evolution or a new chapter. Maybe you aren’t clear on this either. But this just feels like a moment to thank you for enabling me to learn so much about the simple task of using a bicycle to get from A to B.

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  • John Lascurettes May 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Congratulations, Jonathan. I’m excited to see what improvements may come. Also, endless thank yous for the tireless work you’ve done to date. Your contribution to the livelihood of the community is invaluable.

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  • Ted Buehler May 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Cool, good luck to ya both, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of it. Ted Buehler

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  • AndyC of Linnton May 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    This is some really cool news! Two of my favorite transportation resources coming together.
    Will there still be a paper magazine mailed to us?

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  • Mark McClure May 3, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    BikeAfoot doesn’t really seem to have a nice ring to it, so I understand why the BikePortland masthead won’t change. At least for now…

    If you dedicate some space in your site to “and other active transportation modes” and grow an audience there, that you can measure, maybe a sister publication/channel will become self-evident?

    For my part, because I’ve really come to appreciate information sources that are not MSM jibberish, I’m just delighted that you decided to collaborate and not compete. After all, I think we’re all on the same side.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes next.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Michael M. May 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Hopefully this will result in a broader, less siloed perspective to coverage of issues that affect active transportation, the urban streetscape and use of public spaces. Sounds very promising!

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  • Brett May 4, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Two of my must-reads, and two of Portland’s most vital resources, with complementary missions. Makes eminent sense. My suggestion: use this opportunity to more clearly delineate the journalistic and advocacy dimensions of BP and PA. I have some ideas about that, but best discussed in person. Congrats to both worthy publications on taking an important step forward!

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  • Michael396 May 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Good move, in this case 1+1=3

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Alex Williams May 6, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Just keep the blog going. Don’t change it…please. :)

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  • Craig Harlow May 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Jonathan, any observations on how Bikeportland got shut out of the TRIMET/ATU talks?

    http://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2013/04/29/no-bloggers-need-apply-only-mainstream-outlets-allowed-to-cover-trimet-contract-talks

    Portland Afoot is allowed, and BPO isn’t? With BPO having been found to be the #1 most-read online news source for civic issues (above all the print papers’ online presences)?

    Maybe both Jonathan and Michael can show up together with their Portland Afoot press badges:^)

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Craig,

      I haven’t even been following that. Thanks for sharing the Mercury story. My hunch is that BikePortland isn’t on the list because TriMet knows I have no interest in that issue from a BikePortland standpoint.

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      • Craig Harlow May 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

        Aha :)

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  • KYouell May 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    q`Tzal
    I’m looking forward to mature, intelligent, fact based debate when your viewpoints don’t align perfectly.
    It can’t always be rainbows and unicorns.

    Of course not. There have to be kittens and puppies sometimes. ;-)

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • q`Tzal May 7, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      You haven’t been downwind of a cute puppy with acute “silent-but-deadly” flatulence have you?
      Kittens and adult cats at least have the decency to look guilty, the puppy just thinks he’s loving you.
      :-P

      Recommended Thumb up 1

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