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The future of BikePortland

Posted by on May 10th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

This week’s Portland Business Journal.

I just want to clear up a few things about the future of BikePortland. Some of you have read in this week’s edition of the Portland Business Journal that I am at a “crossroads” with the site. A teaser article posted yesterday by PBJ Managing Editor Erik Siemers with the headline, Why BikePortland.org’s future is far from certain went as far as saying, “soon it could all come to an end.”

While I think writer Maureen McGrain and the PBJ did a great job with the piece (which came out this morning), I want to assure you that I’m not walking away anytime soon. In any small business, especially for an independent blog publisher like myself, the future is always a bit uncertain. And, as some of you already know, I am indeed a bit battle-weary after an eight-year tour-of-duty as a one-man media operation.

As I tend to do, I speak candidly with reporters and I always share honest answers to their questions. I told Ms. McGrain exactly what I was feeling when she visited my office a few weeks ago: That at times I get worn out, that my family needs a more full-time dad, and that I need help to keep this operation at its current level (and to reach the untapped potential it has). Also, as the article points out, I see the upcoming 10-year BikePortland anniversary as an opportunity for reflection about where I’m at with my family, my community and my business.

Here’s an excerpt from the article (it’s subscriber only, or available around town for $2 a copy):

“The pressure to offer balanced and accurate reporting every single day for 8-plus years has made him tired, so he is actively trying to build the right team around him. Where he began the blog as a cheerleader, documenting all of Portland’s progressive cycling policies and culture, he has become jaded by the politics and the lack of progress in recent years.”

That is true. A lot has changed since I started BikePortland. Some of it good, some of it not so good. But what hasn’t changed is my commitment to — and belief in the importance of — independent coverage of bicycle (and transportation) news.

To keep BikePortland strong for another 10 years, I have to make some changes. Namely, I need help from other people who are as dedicated to this work as I’ve been. To that end, I’m extremely excited about what I announced last week (after I’d talked to the PBJ reporter) — that Portland Afoot founder Michael Andersen and I will soon be working together.

If all goes according to plan, Michael will add a vital dimension to BikePortland. While I know I need to build support and a team, I also know I can’t do it alone. I’ll need Michael’s help, and yours. Like the PBJ article says, I consider everyone who comments here as my “advisory board” — and that’s something that will never change.

Thanks for reading and thanks for believing that our best work is yet to come.

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Comments
  • pixelgate May 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I’d get burnt out too. I’ve seen you take so much unnecessary criticism over the years, you have way more patience than I do. Perhaps bikeportland was where your heart was at 10 years but passions can always run dry. Nobody can blame you for not wanting to move on to new chapters in life.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      hi pixelgate,

      thanks for the comment… I hope its clear from my post that I’m not looking to “move on” from BikePortland. Yes, I am looking to build a team so that I am not solely in charge of everything when the 10th anniversary happens in 2015… But I am definitely not on the verge of walking away from this (although of course there have been times when I’ve felt like doing that). Besides the toll on myself/family, in many ways BikePortland works right now… and that’s great. That’s why it’s scary to change anything. But that toll isn’t something I want to bear for much longer, so that’s why I told the PBJ that I either make some fundamental changes to the team/business, or maybe, in 2015, I throw a big party and then find something else to do. My strong preference of course is the former. ;-)

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      • Granpa May 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm

        We should still have the big party :)

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        • A.K. May 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm

          I bet Velocult would host it!

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

          I agree we should still have the party! That’s one of the reasons I’m looking to get some help because planning events is a big job and I can’t do it myself. I’ve been lucky in the past to have people like Elly Blue and Jonathan Reed help make Get Togethers, BikeCraft, and other events happen.

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          • was carless May 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm

            There absolutely should be some sort of bikeportland party. I’d go. :)

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          • mark kenseth May 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm

            A bike ride and then a party.

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  • Sean G May 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    My industry, social gaming, has recently come under fire here in Oregon and I’ve suddenly found myself embroiled in politics and media. It’s a huge pain, and I’m just a manager. I can’t imagine being the sole focus over years and years. It has to be exhausting. So I for one applaud the work you’ve done and I say there’s no shame in getting some help to get the message out. Imagine if St. Cupcake were still a one-man operation? Where would I get my delicious snacks?

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  • Chris M May 10, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I am a big fan of bike portland. I only started reading your blog last year, and became a regular reader when you covered cycling in NYC during your trip here, coincident with Hurricane Sandy. I love you photography as well as your writing. I consider you a treasure to the bike community and I hope we continue to benefit from your talents.

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  • Mark May 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I have mentioned this before but you might consider accepting more user-generated content: articles written by members of the cycling community on a volunteer basis and edited by you or your team to take some of the pressure off you. Articles by you are consistently better-written and better-photographed but I have enjoyed the occasional outside perspective in the pages of BikePortland. Not everyone can donate money but I’ll bet there are a good number willing to donate their talents. As a small business owner myself, I completely feel your pain.

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    • John Lascurettes May 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Mark, Jonathan has posted numerous guest articles.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks Mark. I completely agree and I have always tried to feature reader articles in the past. One of the main things I plan to do with more help from Michael Andersen is free myself up to cultivate more consistent reader articles and share other voices from the community. Speaking of Michael, we just met and if all goes according to plan, he’ll be officially starting a week from Monday! Very exciting. Stay tuned.

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      • Mark May 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm

        The best things about BikePortland are the parts you hand-craft on a daily basis, so the question you pose — finding personal balance — is a tough one. I think we’ll all keep brainstorming on your behalf.

        You’ve got to admit, though, you have a pretty cool job compared to most. It’s healthy, it’s creative, and the work you do is appreciated by an engaged, grateful, and far-flung readership. Still, it must take a lot of determination to wake up every day and create something new and interesting the way you have been doing all these years.

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  • andy May 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Jonathan, I think you do a great thing here with the blog. It appears you were able to fold to passions in life into one and get paid to do it. Thats rare. Heck I am a Portland native trapped down in Socal for a few more months and look forward to trying out some of the new shops, roads, and outreach programs you have mentioned.

    Cheers.

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  • Paul Tay May 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I vote for the ’15 party during Pedalpooloza.

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  • Joseph E May 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Jonathan, I love what you’ve done with BikePortland. I think it will be great if you can bring in more contributors, to prevent burn-out on your part, as well as to cover additional views.

    I would love to see Portland Afoot grow into something like GreaterGreaterWashington or Streetsblog. I love bikes, but I’m also interested in hearing about transit and pedestrian issues and urban development.

    Thank you for the devotion to this, for 10 years.

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  • dwainedibbly May 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Two quotes come to mind:

    “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”
    And
    “Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

    Personally, I can’t wait for the 10th anniversary party, and look forward to the 15th, 20th, and 25th.

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  • Peter W May 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Jonathan, you’ve done a fantastic job with BikePortland over the many years and your work has been an essential part of what makes Portland what it is today. Best wishes on the site, and I look forward to seeing how the site (and your work) advances.

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  • Jonathan May 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I love this website and read it often and like Joseph mentioned with his idea. I think bike portland and portland afoot would be a nice combo if you could both come together to cover pedestrian, transit and bike issues. I have seen blogs that use that approach and I love it where you can go to a website and go too different tabs that cover different issues. Plus it would allow for a larger team to surround everyone with and to add on to the success that I have already seen this site reach.

    Just a suggestion but regardless Ill always be tuning in to read the articles you write keep up the good work.

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  • jim May 13, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I appreciate Bike Portland. I like that it has breaking news stories, top notch photo’s. It’s never dull, there is always something interesting. Some help on J’s side will let him keep perspective for the direction the business is going.
    I expect him to make a book sometime. He has the ability and experience to pull that off. Euro vacation should yield many new photos and new connections, perhaps some interesting interviews as well.

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  • Kristen May 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

    This site is part of my morning trifecta: national/worldwide news site, local news site, bikeportland.org. You’ve done a lot of good work, especially in terms of educating the public about bicycling and active transportation. Well, especially on educating me (and by extension, my friends/family/co-workers)!

    I’m excited to see where your partnership with Portland Afoot, and hope to see you branching out to the full Metro area and not just Portland. Although you currently do a good job at covering not just Portland right now. :)

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  • Glenn May 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Jonathan,

    After reading the foregoing comments, all I can say is ditto, ditto, and ditto again. I am happy to hear that you are not “walking away,” or even pedaling away, from BikePortlnad anytime soon.

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  • Alex Phillips May 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    This seems like a good time to just say I do really appreciate your reporting and your reporting/writing style. Easy to read, informative yet with a personality. Your photos always show people at their best too.

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  • Travis May 14, 2013 at 6:24 am

    At least for most us, Abby’s “final paragraph of advice” of desert solitaire sums up our approach to cycling and activism. Wish Jonathan could find that balance and keep the intensity, quality, and purpose of bikeportland.org. I wish this for everyone, whatever their job or passion.

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  • Mike Healey May 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    First logged on to your site via C.I.C.L.E about 5?6?7? years ago and have visited it every week since. It’s an astonishing achievement in its own right, let alone as a one-man operation.
    I’ve been consistently fascinated by the similarities and subtle differences between UK and US experiences and attitudes, tho’ your anti-bike nutters are even more barking (and monumentally ignorant) than ours. You have been an extraordinarily useful entry into other stories which I wouldn’t have otherwise seen – especially the Monday Roundup.
    I really hope that you can find enough contributors to continue and develop Bike Portland so that this particular decrepit and curious old beggar will still be able to get his weekly fix.
    Good luck, mate.

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