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The Oregonian Editorial Board on Portland’s “risky bike share venture”

Posted by on January 7th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

“Bike sharing isn’t essential, and a bike-sharing system with unexpected complications requiring city subsidies would undermine the public’s confidence in the city’s ability to set priorities and manage money.”
— Oregonian Editorial Board, December 21st, 2013.

With a big announcement about the Portland Bike Share system likely to come this month, The Oregonian Editorial Board is making it clear where they stand. Portland’s risky bike-share venture is the title of their editorial that ran on the front page of the opinion section on December 21st.

The piece reflects the opinion of the members of the O’s editorial board: Mark Hester, Erik Lukens, Susan Nielsen, Len Reed and David Sarasohn. As our bike share system gets closer to reality, we’ll be watching closely how the local media tries to frame the narrative around the project. After all, the project has all the components of a media freakout: the concept (at least on this scale) is unprecedented in Portland, bike share is usually misunderstood by people that haven’t used it (just like cycling in general), it’s an idea first championed by former Mayor Sam Adams, and it involves bicycling.

The editorial opens by making it seem like the only reason Portland is pushing for bike share is due to “peer pressure” from other cities and to maintain our reputation as America’s top bicycling city:

Portland is feeling a little embarrassed. Other cities have bike-sharing systems and we don’t… How can Portland protect its image as one of the nation’s great bicycling cities without creating its own fleet? How can Portlanders sleep at night, really, until kiosks of government-issue bikes are airdropped all over the city’s central core?

In looking back at the history of this project in Portland (we first reported about it in February 2007), competition with other cities was never the main reason to have bike share. Adams wanted it because he saw how well it worked in France and he wanted to try it here. The competition among other cities was a fun way create excitement in the community and create political urgency among City Council colleagues.

Then The Oregonian delves into its main rationale for not supporting bike share: It’s just too risky. “The risks of developing and maintaining a bike-share system are real,” they write, “Unless the city can mitigate those risks, it should pull the plug on the initiative.”

This aversion to risk on a major transportation project is notable coming from an Editorial Board that has been a constant cheerleader for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project — a controversial and extremely expensive highway expansion and bridge project. On New Year’s Day, the same editorial board that’s afraid of bike sharing’s risk — a project that will be paid primarily from federal grants and private sponsorship — said of the CRC, “it’s time to move forward decisively.” That’s the same, $3.6 billion CRC project that the state of Oregon has spent $179 million planning and lobbying for as controversies continue to pile on and there’s still no guarantee it will ever get built.

Since bike share has already garnered a federal grant, The Oregonian proposes that the bureau of transportation redirects that money to other bike projects. Some say that’s a sign of progress.

In other cities, bike share has proven to be quite cost-effective, especially compared to other transit systems. But The Oregonian suggests otherwise:

The city’s hope is to run the system without siphoning money from city coffers, yet experience elsewhere suggests this goal is hard to reach.

Most bike-sharing systems in the United States require public subsidies, according to an exhaustive bike-share guide released this month by the New York-based Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. Subscriptions and user fees provide a “stable revenue source,” the authors found, but “rarely do they provide enough revenue to ensure that the system is financially self-sustaining.”

Bike share should be seen as simply another mode of transportation or form of public transit. We heavily subsidize auto use, buses, light rail, and streetcar, so why should we hold bike share to a different standard? It’s also worth noting that as of March 2013, Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC (which is also managed by Alta Bicycle Share) paid 100% of its operating costs through user fees from its over 20,000 members.

It’s clear that The Oregonian Editorial Board thinks bike share is nothing more than a silly vanity project from a politician whom they at one time urged to resign. But examples from other cities show that it could have a major positive impact on Portland’s transportation ecosystem. And perhaps that’s what scares The Oregonian: They’re not afraid bike share will fail, they’re afraid it will succeed.

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  • Art Fuldodger January 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I think you nailed it with last sentance, Jonathan.

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  • Tony January 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    I thought this editorial was really patronizing and I thought the attempt at the end to pretend to support bicycle infrastructure improvements was disingenuous, at best. Typical from this publication.

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  • tony tapay January 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    The Oregonian Editorial Board: providing reasons to NOT subscribe to their paper since forever.

    They supported the Mt Hood Freeway by the way.

    http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-4212-highway_to_hell.html

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    • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      troglodytes. when can we start ignoring them altogether?

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      • tony tapay January 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

        Ignoring their advice? Many already do. Ignoring them altogether as if they didn’t exist? They still have too much influence so it’d be foolish to do that.

        If I had the time, I’d compile a list of issues where they were on wrong side of history. I looked for their position on removing Harbor Drive but I couldn’t find that.

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  • Hart Noecker January 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Sometimes I wish Rahm Emanuel was our mayor. I’d love to see his response to the childish, reckless Oregonian Ed board.

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    • Pete January 7, 2014 at 10:44 pm
    • meh January 8, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Really get they guy from the city where Alta’s under investigation.
      Where the person who wrote the RFP was an intern in Chicago who worked at Alta both before and after the he wrote the proposal. And that the Transportation Commissioner was once a paid consultant for Alta.

      Please don’t hold up Chicago politics as a shining example of anything other than corruption.

      http://bicycleretailer.com/north-america/2012/05/01/report-chicago-inspector-probes-bike-deal#.Us106LR0WDk

      And Alta has had its own share of problems with deliver dates and treatment of labor, both reported hear in Bike Portland.

      At some point you have to look at things clearly. All things bike are not good. Bike Portland is as biased for bikes as the Oregonian is biased against them. An editorial from Bike Portland is no more true than an editorial from the the Oregonian. Opinions are like….

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      • davemess January 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        So care to share what you don’t like about bike share?

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  • Racer X January 7, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    What is wrong with progressive boosterism?!

    …if Portland cannot rely on its “major” daily paper for a dose of good old fashioned business boosterism then the City either needs a new mouthpiece for the its efforts or perhaps the print media is lost and dead in this town.

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    • Art Fuldodger January 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      yeah, the second thing…

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  • indy January 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Newspapers follow the money. The Oregonian profits from advertising significantly from automobiles/infrastructure continuing. When that changes, their stance on this issue will.

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    • Scott January 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      No kidding. What’s left of their business model since Cragig’s List is centered on selling car ads and real estate ads. Their parent company, Advance Communications, is in deep trouble financially, and they certainly aren’t going to say anything to upset their remaining cash cows in the few years they have left before they’re completely out of business.

      I made the mistake of pointing that out in the comments section. For my trouble, Joseph Rose deleted all my comments and had my account locked. So much for freedom of speech.

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      • Adam H. January 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

        Technically it’s a private newspaper, so freedom of speech does not apply here. The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law preventing free speech. That doesn’t stop a website from deleting your comments.

        Still sh!tty of them, though.

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        • Scott January 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm

          Absolutely.

          It’s not that I found their actions surprising, these are also the same wonderful people that have consistently come out against funding Libraries, most recently the Multnomah County Library Levy District ballot measure. I guess they wouldn’t want people reading- car ads, appliance ads, and realty ads are mostly pictures.

          It’s the hypocrisy of Joseph Rose and the Oregonian that I found galling.

          If something came up where the Oregonian was prevented from reporting something that was judged to be commercial speech, you can bet they’d be screaming to the rafters about their ‘Constitutional Rights”, The Fourth Estate, and Freedom of the Press.

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        • spare_wheel January 8, 2014 at 7:29 am

          Nothing technical about it. It’s entirely owned by a couple eccentric republican billionaires from NYC.

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  • davemess January 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I’m still utterly perplexed as to why people think bike share can’t/won’t work here!!??!?!?! It has proven successful in MANY cities across the country. Why would we think that it would be a flop in the city that is supposedly “bike city USA”?

    I love the “government-issued bikes”. just WOW

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      I’m open to the idea that bike share won’t work here in Portland as well as it’s worked in some other cities. I’d be happy to have that discussion and debate… But it’s just too bad that our paper of record clearly isn’t interested in having that respectful dialogue. They’d rather whip up anti-gov’t, anti-bike fervor and continue to divide Portland into simplistic stereotypes of those who love bikes and those who hate them.

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      • dwainedibbly January 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        Step 1: stop referring to the Oregonian as “the paper of record”. They’re a fringe organization and don’t deserve to be called that.

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      • davemess January 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        But do you see those arguments as to why it won’t work being so strong that we should try it? I can think of significantly stronger arguments against cities that currently have bike share than we have here in Portland (esp. the ones given in this editorial (if there truly were any)).

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        • davemess January 8, 2014 at 7:20 am

          sorry, “that we SHOULDN’T try it”

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    • JV January 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      The only halfway defensible arguments I can think of for why bike sharing won’t work in Portland are:
      - We are “bike city”, so everyone already has their own private bikes; other cities may have less percentage of individual bike ownership.
      - Other cities with successful bike share are tourist-oriented, with lots of landmarks that draw specific users.
      - The commuter traffic and housing of other cities is much denser than Portland, thus making bikeshare truly more convenient than many other modes.

      Having used numerous other bikeshare systems (Chicago, DC, London, Paris), I can say that while the above points are true, there will be adequate usage of bikeshare when it is implemented. Even though I have many personal bikes, there are many times that I wish I would be able to take a bikeshare rather than my own for a short one-way trip. As Jonathan mentions, the fact that the Editorial Board is not even willing to engage in a dialogue and explore these issues says a lot. They are indeed afraid that it will succeed, and in the process create thousands of new, everyday people using bikes in our city per day. That would really clash with their confrontational narrative about bikes.

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      • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm

        “That would really clash with their confrontational narrative about bikes.”

        Perhaps they already know that both their brand of yellow journalism and the automobile menace are both on their way out. Faced with this the only thing they can think of is to print harangues like this. Remember their editorial which they concluded with ‘The automobile is here to stay!’ like a spoiled child told that her dolls might be given to someone else.

        http://bikeportland.org/2012/11/26/a-response-to-the-pro-car-perspective-80517

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        • davemess January 8, 2014 at 7:22 am

          I think many (if not most) cyclists would agree that the auto isn’t imminently on the way out. Thus I wouldn’t expect the O to have that opinion either. I would like them to be more open minded and stop just printing inflammatory articles just to sell papers/web hits.
          Oh and get rid of Joe Rose.

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      • JRB January 8, 2014 at 9:03 am

        JV: I’d take issue with all your points, I’m not sure that PDX has that much greater a percentage of cyclists than other cities with bike share. Portland is also tourist destination, albeit not on the scale of New York or Paris. Lastly, for many trips in the city, bikes will be as fast or faster than other modes.

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        • JV January 8, 2014 at 3:32 pm

          Well I did state that these arguments were only halfway defensible.. :)

          But from an objective standpoint, (to defend one aspect at least) traffic in downtown Portland is not that bad and parking is cheap. Even from inner SE, the rare times that I do drive downtown it is always faster than biking. Parking in Portland is $1.60 per hour. Compare to other downtown parking rates:

          New York : $3.50 / hour
          DC : $2.00 / hour
          London : £4.00 per hour + £10 congestion charge = $6.50 + $16.50
          Paris : 3.00 Euro / hour = $4.00/hour

          These parking rates really discourage driving, or at least make cars pay their way. Of course there are also parking garages, but those are also cheap by other “big city” standards. But seriously, bikesharing is working in cities even smaller than Portland, to various degrees of success. It is a key part of an active, flexible transportation network, and I look forward to using it.

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  • Chris I January 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Spending a few million on a public vehicle sharing program that has proven successful in many other cities around the world: risky.

    Spending $179 million planning a $4 billion mega-project with bad traffic estimates, flawed tolling projections, and generally shaky economics: not risky.

    Got it.

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  • Hillsons January 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    The only thing the O is afraid of is its inevitable demise. Taking a stance against its own city is only going to accelerate the process.

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  • Jolly Dodger January 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Newspaper Carriers Wanted (Inner SE Portland)
    http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/lab/4276761484.html

    “Must have a reliable automobile, cell phone, valid driver’s license, and insurance.” – & yeah, i was informed by the station manager there that the Oregonian had ‘dis-allowed’ them from ‘hiring’ carriers who use bicycles. As an independent contractor (method my own), this goes against the very nature of the job. Not to mention many of the ‘drivers’ get hired with a valid car or driver, then jump on the route “driving dirty”, often with no insurance or sub-standard, unsafe automobiles.

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    • medium-fat tyres January 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Sucks… I loved the trailer.

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    • JV January 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Wow, things have gone downhill in the last 20 years. I remember one of the first regular, paying jobs I had was delivering the Seattle Times by bike at age 13, up and down hills in rural WA. Are there no more paperboys, and now that job is done only by adults with driver’s licences?? That paper route paid for the first new bike I ever bought, and launched a lifetime of cycling. Print is indeed dying, and home delivery even more so, but I am still nostalgic.

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    • Christopher Sanderson January 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      I’ve often thought that so much of our mail delivery could be done with a bike and a trailer. When you see the postal carrier’s minivan, there’s not a lot in there that couldn’t be loaded on a trailer. I often think that perhaps the salvation of the USPS is the bicycle. Think about how much they could save by not fueling and insuring minivans. Needless to say, if the USPS made that change, they’d have to clear that hurdle with the the United Postal Worker’s Union, which probably would freak out about doing mail by bike.

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    • Pete January 7, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      It’s ironic how much I hate newspapers now, given that delivering them is what got me into bicycling to begin with.

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  • Michael M. January 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I’m going out on a limb here and predicting that when the principle corporate sponsor for Portland’s bike share system is announced, it won’t be The Oregonian. Maybe instead they could sponsor a pebble-sized piece of asphalt for the CRC.

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    • Rebecca January 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      It would be nice to require full corporate sponsorship of the CRC in place before it can be approved, wouldn’t it?

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      • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:29 pm

        Nice – except I don’t want the CRC, even if the Koch Brothers coughed up the $4B.

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        • q`Tzal January 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm

          If they did you’d darn well be certain that it would be tolled so hard as to almost be a private bridge.

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        • spare_wheel January 8, 2014 at 7:31 am

          And there would be shiny VIP lanes for the wealthy…

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  • Bjorn January 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Don’t forget that the Oregonian Editorial Board also opposed the Eastside Esplanade as something that wasn’t worth the investment. They don’t have a great track record when it comes to picking projects that are worth investing in.

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    • q`Tzal January 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Yeah they do,
      whatever they’re against turns out good for everyone.
      That’s a perfect track record.

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  • Matt F January 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Curious please: what makes bike share a success or not in other cities? In other words, how is success defined? And who measures and then declares successful or not?

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    • davemess January 8, 2014 at 7:26 am

      for me it’s continued growth, overall use, and the fact that the systems are still in use years later. I’m not AS concerned with profitability, but I can understand those who view that as a higher priority metric.

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      • matt f January 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm

        thanks for the response, but hate to be cycnical here, but this is going to be one where the people who were for it will always declare it a success…and the people that were against it will always say it’s a waste of money…

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        • davemess January 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

          Good point. I think that sums up most of what the government does these days. Or at least it shows how entrenched in our beliefs most of us are.

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  • Adam H. January 7, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Get ready for a lot of “what works for New York or Chicago will never work in Portland!” There was a ton of pushback from media and otherwise here in Chicago when we got our bike share, but everyone got much quieter after it was in place and people *gasp!* actually used the system. Even the Tribune has admitted the system was working. There is hope for you.

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  • Dan Kaufman January 7, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    “This aversion to risk on a major transportation project is notable coming from an Editorial Board that has been a constant cheerleader for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project”

    My thoughts exactly, Jonathan! The economic risks of the CRC are in an order of magnitude greater than bike share.

    Furthermore, CRC brings with it air pollution risks, climate change risks, cut through traffic in N&NE Portland risks, current & future jobs lost (due the low bridge & removed businesses) risks, toll aversion and I205 congestion risks, induced demand risks, ruining downtown Vancouver risks, sprawl risks, ruining Jantzen beach risks, lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure risks, bankrupting the state of Oregon risks, corruption risks, over extending trimet risks, multi-year construction congestion risks, ruining Salmon habitat risks, water pollution risks, wasting perfectly good infrastructure risks, expanding I-5 through the rest of Portland risks, etc, etc, etc risks.

    That the Oregonian E-Board is willing to take big risks with CRC is no surprise, of course, even with all the blatant hypocrisy. They have now written 50 editorials in favor of the CRC!

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    • dan January 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Math is not necessarily my strong point, but I believe the economic risks of the CRC are three, count ‘em, three orders of magnitude greater than bike share! The hypocrisy and / or blindness of the Oregonian editorial board is breathtaking.

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      • dan January 8, 2014 at 9:02 am

        To be clear, I’m not even a huge booster of bike share, and have thought for a while that Alta has a distinctive aroma of Enron-style smoke and mirrors in its operations. Even taking all that into account, describing bike share as a “risk” while the CRC is a clear public good does nothing but make you look foolish.

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    • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      I submit that that excellent list of risks you enumerated aren’t risks at all: Most all of them are assured to happen. Risks, as far as I know, are defined as having a probability of occurring/not occurring. Anyone want to rank Dan’ list according to probability?

      * air pollution risks
      * climate change risks
      * cut through traffic in N&NE Portland risks
      * current & future jobs lost (due the low bridge & removed businesses) risks
      * toll aversion and I205 congestion risks
      * induced demand risks
      * ruining downtown Vancouver risks
      * sprawl risks
      * ruining Jantzen beach risks
      * lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure risks
      * bankrupting the state of Oregon risks
      * corruption risks
      * over extending trimet risks
      * multi-year construction congestion risks
      * ruining Salmon habitat risks
      * water pollution risks
      * wasting perfectly good infrastructure risks
      * expanding I-5 through the rest of Portland risks

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  • David Bosch January 7, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    The Oregonian’s editorial against Portland’s proposed bike share was bad enough to be embarrassing to read. Doesn’t anyone edit the Oregonian’s editorial staff?

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  • dwainedibbly January 7, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I think that it would be riskier to invest in or work for a newspaper.

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  • Steve Scarich January 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I am going to play Devil’s Advocate here. I admit that I am totally skeptical of any government fiscal claim, and I consider this a ‘government’ program. The writer referred to the article, in which it is asserted that D.C.’s program covers 100% of its operating costs with user fees. I assume that means salaries, maintenance, and other day-to-day expenses. But, it does not cover a major cost, capital investment. No program can be judged to be financially successful if it does not bring in enough revenue to replace worn-out equipment (i.e. bikes and other infrastructure). Government almost always ignores this painful reality; hence, we are stuck with roads & bridges that wear out and there is not enough money to replace them, or, say, the Portland Building which now needs replacing at a cost of $100+ million, and no money to do it. Unless the bike-share program starts up with sufficient revenue to cover both operating costs and long-term capital replacement outlays, it is not a realistic fiscal model.

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    • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      But that is how we do everything, or nearly everything, in the USA, Steve. No fair picking one example and saying it isn’t fiscally realistic.

      We seem to have unlearned the ‘put money away for a rainy day/for when the bridge needs to be reinforced/the road needs to be repaved’ lesson. Does ODOT do this? Does any public entity? I don’t get the sense that this is done (anymore). There are countries where this is done, where taxes are raised and money socked away for exactly these kinds of (predictable) situations.

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      • Steve Scarich January 20, 2014 at 5:38 pm

        Today, Bixi (the bike-sharing program in Montreal), filed for bankruptcy, with $48 million in arrears. I have been to Montreal, and it is a great place for bike-sharing, with lots of touristy stuff (unlike Portland). Please, someone, shoot this turkey idea before it takes flight (pun intended).

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  • wsbob January 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    “…But examples from other cities show that it could have a major positive impact on Portland’s transportation ecosystem. And perhaps that’s what scares The Oregonian: They’re not afraid bike share will fail, they’re afraid it will succeed.” maus/bikeportland

    Whether or not bike share in Portland will have a positive impact on Portland’s transportation ecosystem, isn’t certain.

    The O’s editorial points out that bike share start-up costs are expensive, and cites a think tank, “…the New York-based Institute for Transportation & Development Policy…”, as having found with regards to bike share systems, that:

    “rarely do they provide enough revenue to ensure that the system is financially self-sustaining.”

    Some people may find mention of these things by the Oregonian’s editorial board in its editorial, as signs of being scared of bike share’s potential for success. Others may look at it as a sign of healthy responsibility taken, for considering cautiously, the consequences both good and not so good, of bike share.

    Anticipating the possibility bike share were to become very popular and often used amongst a fairly wide range of people living in and visiting Portland, if it turned out nevertheless that a subsidy would still be needed to keep the system going, having some sense of how much that subsidy might be, would probably be a good idea.

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    • Alex Reed January 7, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      The issue is that the Oregonian seemed to assume that any amount of ongoing subsidy would mean that bike share was not worthwhile. As noted above, given that every other mode of transportation is government-subsidized, it only makes sense to subsidize bike share too – if that even turns out to be necessary!

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      • wsbob January 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        “The issue is that the Oregonian seemed to assume that any amount of ongoing subsidy would mean that bike share was not worthwhile. …” Alex Reed

        I think the subsidy possibly obliged, is just part of what may give people pause to be hesitant about bike share. Another key aspect, is whether bike share in Portland will somehow turn out to function to any appreciable degree, as a means of reducing traffic congestion resulting from over reliance on motor vehicles for transportation.

        In relating to its functionality, the O’s editorial mentions bike share as

        “…popular among tourists in Washington, D.C., and they are appealing to those who might like a handy bike for quick downtown errands or lunchtime rides. …”

        Personally, I’ve read over at bikeforums, a few people’s comments describing how they’ve been able to adapt NYC’s bike share system to meet their commuting needs. That type use would be an ideal model I suppose, but whether that’s how use would shape up in Portland, is difficult to say, I suppose.

        Whether the public in Portland really would come to consider bike share as transportation, per se, something more than a tourist thing, something for a quick lunch ride, is probably key to whether the public would find it worth subsidizing as transportation modes are subsidized.

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        • Alex Reed January 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

          That the Oregonian sees bike share as a frivolous thing for tourists and unnecessary lunch trips is, based on the experience of other cities, an incorrect assumption. That assumption probably leads to the other assumption, that the City shouldn’t be spending any money on it on an ongoing basis.

          Bike share in many other cities has proven to be a public transportation system, practical for many uses. It’s strange that the Oregonian doesn’t seem to know about the actual most common uses of Velib, BikeNYC, or other bike share systems.

          It is of course possible that Portland’s bike share system won’t turn out to be well used by locals – how wide the network of stations is made and the dependability of being able to find a bike and open slot near your origin and destination are probably going to be the prime determinants of that. The first phase of the bike share program seems likely to be too small to me.

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          • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:53 pm

            “That the Oregonian sees bike share as a frivolous thing for tourists and unnecessary lunch trips…”

            I am somewhat amused that I used to hold exactly this view of bikeshare. I have learned otherwise by reading bikeportland (on occasion). It still doesn’t make as much sense to me as some other investments, but given the experience of other cities, and the enthusiasm for it expressed by people who comment and write on bikeportland who I respect, I am willing to withhold judgement.

            But I think the O’s Editors’ antipathy, as some have suggested, isn’t really about that, but about (among many deplorable things) their need to bitch about anything that smells of people having fun without cars.

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            • davemess January 8, 2014 at 12:48 pm

              And I don’t think I need to go out on a limb when I would guess that none of the 5 editorialists have ever used bike share in another city? I’d be very curious to hear from someone who has used bike share before and still thinks it’s a bad idea. I know when we get in debates about it on this site it seems like those against it have never used it before.

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        • wsbob January 7, 2014 at 11:48 pm

          http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/07/the-oregonian-editorial-board-on-portlands-risky-bike-share-venture-99542#comment-4485813 Alex Reed

          I don’t think the O’s ed board editorial, mentioning only tourists and lunch time users of bike share, necessarily indicates board members think bike share is frivolous, as some of you have presumed their outlook on the system is. The boards limited mention though, does give a fairly strong suggestion that the quality of efforts to lay out and sell potential benefits of the system to Portland, hasn’t been so hot.

          What exactly this system is supposed to do for Portland, besides giving people a way to have some fun, riding bikes around town, seems to be a question that’s in order.

          It’s real easy for some people to take digs at the once big, local news source that used to be far more comprehensive and influential than it is today. In this case here, as if, the views expressed in this editorial question, represent only the views of five people on the O’s ed board. Anyone hoping for bike share to take off in Portland, better be taking a very long hard look at what’s being offered to hopefully make this system sound like a great idea for the city.

          It may be worthwhile…essential…to try make a stronger case for the idea that bike share has potential to offer…in Portland…a viable transportation system that can significantly help to counter some of the city’s motor vehicle associated congestion problems. If it’s true that bike share can do this, that may be something many people hesitant about such systems, could get behind and support.

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          • 9watts January 8, 2014 at 6:22 am

            “It’s real easy for some people to take digs at the once big, local news source that used to be far more comprehensive and influential than it is today.”

            Can you explain?
            I mean I know why I find it easy – their positions are so diametrically opposed to what is good for people, the planet, fiscal responsibility, common sense…. But I am not understanding your point. Why are you feeling sorry for them?

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            • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 10:19 am

              To this bikeportland story about the O’s editorial, check out many of the comments that don’t make efforts to accompany their criticism of the O’s views expressed with any thought of substance or constructive criticism, but consist of nothing more than an opportunity taken to register dislike and contempt.

              Like it or not, the O has some knowledgeable, well read and researched people working for it whose views expressed are far better thought out than those of most of the people expressing their own views here on bikeportland. The least people commenting to this site could try do, if they can’t resist juvenile name calling, is accompany their criticism of the paper’s thoughts expressed on bike share, by countering with some solid reasoning, the views they take exception to.

              The O raises questions about bike share that no doubt, many Portland residents are asking themselves: ‘What can bike share do for the city that will have it be more than another thing that’s expensive to build and maintain, cluttering up streets and sidewalks, and that doesn’t return much of, if any payoff?’.

              No comment to this bikeportland story has really countered those questions with anything of substance. When their money is on the line, it’s understandable that people are wondering whether bike share in Portland can do anything more than provide something fun for tourists to do, and provide a convenient opportunity for a quick lunch time bike ride.

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              • Dwayne Dibbly January 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

                The Oregonian has published their editorial. These comments should also be considered editorial and are just as valid.

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                • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 11:06 am

                  “The Oregonian has published their editorial. These comments should also be considered editorial and are just as valid.” Dwayne Dibbly

                  Maybe you do, but I don’t think petty name calling, substituted for well thought out constructive criticism, constitutes editorial writing.

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              • 9watts January 8, 2014 at 11:46 am

                “…don’t make efforts to accompany [...]with any thought of substance or constructive criticism, but consist of nothing more than an opportunity taken to register dislike and contempt.”

                “The least people commenting to this site could try do [...] is accompany their criticism of the paper’s thoughts expressed on bike share, by countering with some solid reasoning, the views they take exception to.”

                pot calling the kettle black, eh, wsbob?

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                • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm

                  “…pot calling the kettle black, eh, wsbob?” 9watts

                  Explain what you’re talking about.

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                • 9watts January 8, 2014 at 5:39 pm

                  You really want me to?

                  As others here have occasionally observed, your posts typically involve long winded, verbal explorations of the subjunctive, of minute variations on the observed, of attempts to exonerate or hypothesize about the motivations of the auto-bound, or in this case the bikeshare-antipathetic. It is frequently rather difficult to figure out what it is you’re trying to say, not because you don’t use enough words, but because you use so many.
                  Today I thought it was just a little rich for *you* to be criticizing others for not being constructive. I suppose you would consider your posts to be constructive, but when other posters have pressed you on this point you equivocate, dissemble, prevaricate. Or at least that is my interpretation.

                  You asked.

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                • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm

                  “http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/07/the-oregonian-editorial-board-on-portlands-risky-bike-share-venture-99542#comment-4486044″ 9watts

                  Nobody here is obliged to read what I write, or try understand what I’m saying if they find that beyond their interest or ability to manage.

                  This is beside the point though, which is some people reading this bikeportland story about the O’s editorial take on bike share, and then going no further in their comments here, than to write a lot of junk to insult, show contempt, whatever, without bothering to take the opportunity to counter the views the O ed board’s writers present in their editorial.

                  They criticize, but they offer no information to show that the view the O ed board’s writers present, may not fully consider the potential that bike share may have for Portland.

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                • 9watts January 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

                  “They criticize, but they offer no information to show that the view the O ed board’s writers present, may not fully consider the potential that bike share may have for Portland.”

                  wsbob,

                  have you considered that the bikeportland commenters you criticize might have a different axe to grind with the Oregonian editorial board than the one you think they should?

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                • wsbob January 12, 2014 at 12:52 am

                  http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/07/the-oregonian-editorial-board-on-portlands-risky-bike-share-venture-99542#comment-4486549 9watts

                  They can grind whatever axe they choose; they did, and most of it was petty, disparaging remarks made, having little if anything to do with the merits or downside of bike share, people that don’t know about the system, perhaps should know, if they’re going to be prepared to support it or not.

                  The O ed board’s oversight, is a possible opportunity they failed to take advantage of, allowing the O ed board’s view on bike share expressed in its editorial, to win, over views expressed by proponents of the system who’ve posted comments to this bikeportland story.

                  Moving on: I cannot seem to locate a link to it, but the Saturday 11th Oregonian has another ed board editorial: “Keep Portland Moving”, this one essentially urging that the Portland metro area’s transportation system be ‘unclogged’. This editorial could offer another opportunity for bikeportland bike advocates to pitch transportation functionality benefits of bike infrastructure, if they recognize it and attempt to do more than responding in various disparaging forms, that the paper’s political leanings don’t correlate with their own.

                  Basically, the O ed board’s editorial, “Keep Portland Moving”, expresses a lot of wishful thinking about somehow reducing traffic congestion, without offering much of a suggestion as to how that could be accomplished. Metro area highways, during rush hour, are at capacity…have been for years, actually. Could be wrong, but I think many people understand there’s no room for those roads to be sufficiently widened to accommodate anticipated and hoped for population growth. This reality emphasizes the existing critical need for communities more effectively designed to allow living and working within distances that are easily manageable by mass transit, walking or biking. Nothing in this latest O editorial indicates that this is something on the O board members minds.

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              • Bill Walters January 8, 2014 at 11:52 am

                Indeed: When their money appears to be on the line, people rightly wonder about efficacy. Why, then, do the O’s editorialists seem to “strain out the gnat [bike share] but gulp down the camel [CRC]“? (taking the liberty to quote an unabashed name-caller from ye olde New Testament)

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              • El Biciclero January 8, 2014 at 12:47 pm

                I don’t think many necessarily disagree that implementing a new system, whether it is bike share or anything else, is a risk, but the Oregonian’s framing of the risk–as something reckless proposed by “fanatics”–is a little over-the-top. Also, their highlighting of this risk as something to be super-cautious about, saying:

                “But bike sharing isn’t essential, and a bike-sharing system with unexpected complications requiring city subsidies would undermine the public’s confidence in the city’s ability to set priorities and manage money.

                While they say this about the CRC:

                “The cautious political climate now might make the Legislature gun-shy on any big projects. That could push the CRC into the ether. Yet it would be wrong to let the CRC languish and become a precedent for how Oregon shies away from big things.

                …And this about Eastside Streetcar:

                “Portland is right to press forward because what’s at stake here is much more than the future form of mass transit. The city is relying on the streetcar to jump-start long-stalled redevelopment on its inner eastside…

                It’s because Portland has so carefully knitted an integrated transportation network into its planning that the city now serves as a model of modern urban development.”

                (all emphases mine)

                is a little bit hypocritical. It seems their litmus test for whether a risk is worth it is whether they deem a project “essential”, but that, too is their opinion.

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                • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm

                  “…Oregonian’s framing of the risk–as something reckless proposed by “fanatics”–is a little over-the-top. Also, their highlighting of this risk as something to be super-cautious about, saying: …” El Biciclero

                  The O editorial said nothing about “…fanatics…”, your choice of word, or “…something to be super-cautious about…”, your choice of phrase.

                  The editorial boards’ expressed view, which you cited:

                  “…But bike sharing isn’t essential, and a bike-sharing system with unexpected complications requiring city subsidies would undermine the public’s confidence in the city’s ability to set priorities and manage money. …”

                  …is comparatively moderate.

                  Lots of differences between bike share, the CRC and streetcar, but as modes of transportation or means to it, the latter two do not limit users to their ability to ride a bike. Whether bike share in Portland, on a significant basis, can and will ever be a serious, functional alternative to use of a motor vehicle for travel, is one of the obvious questions that likely stands before many people considering whether this system is one they could lend their support to.

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                • 9watts January 8, 2014 at 6:31 pm

                  “Lots of differences between bike share, the CRC and streetcar, but as modes of transportation or means to it, the latter two do not limit users to their ability to ride a bike.

                  wsbob, what are you trying to say?

                  Are you suggesting that bike share is uniquely mono-modal among the three? That is nuts. The Streetcar is far more limiting, dependent, fixed route than bikeshare. But more to the point, why are you keen to elevate the CRC and Streetcar above the limitations you seem to think adhere to bikeshare? How about just coming out and saying what it is you think?

                  If you want to talk about limiting others’ travel options, then your favored two of this trio do that in spades. Dan Kaufman’s recent and rather exhaustive list should do it for the CRC, but Streetcar is not exactly mode neutral when it comes to sharing the road, eh?

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                • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 10:32 pm

                  http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/07/the-oregonian-editorial-board-on-portlands-risky-bike-share-venture-99542#comment-4486053

                  “…”Lots of differences between bike share, the CRC and streetcar, but as modes of transportation or means to it, the latter two do not limit users to their ability to ride a bike. …” wsbob

                  “…wsbob, what are you trying to say?…” 9watts

                  In order to use bike share, people have to be able to ride a bike. People can ride street car or travel bridges across rivers without being able to ride a bike.

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                • 9watts January 9, 2014 at 6:55 am

                  “In order to use bike share, people have to be able to ride a bike. People can ride street car or travel bridges across rivers without being able to ride a bike.”

                  You realize perhaps that someone in another country (not the US) would find your calling this out, making riding a bike sound like some exotic skill reserved for the few, sound absurd?
                  This is like saying In order to use Sidewalkshare, people have to be able to walk. But anyone can use a superhighway.”

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                • wsbob January 12, 2014 at 12:59 am

                  http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/07/the-oregonian-editorial-board-on-portlands-risky-bike-share-venture-99542#comment-4486184 9watts

                  It’s not that the ability to ride a bike is an exotic skill, but simply that, for a wide range of reasons, many, many people cannot ride a bike. For them, that inability to use bike share, or recognize how many other similarly situated people could benefit from the system, could be a substantial barrier to their feeling certain that this type system is worth public investment.

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                • 9watts January 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

                  “for a wide range of reasons, many, many people cannot ride a bike.”

                  Did you just make that up? People assert this or similar things with some frequency, but I wonder
                  (a) how much of this is cultural (no experience with biking, no peers who do, lack of infrastructure, etc.) vs physical (I would fall off; my feet would kill me, or whatever), and
                  (b) what some numbers corresponding to the unbike-compatible share of the population actually are?

                  In the absence of at least a general answer to both of those questions I think it is unhelpful and premature to postulate that ‘many, many people cannot ride a bike.’

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              • Oregon Mamacita January 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm

                The issue is whether tax money is well spent on bike share, especially after the Oregonian series about the broken promises to Outer SE PDX.
                It looks like the same-old “trickle down’ development, i.e. a street car in the Pearl helps Lents. Not.

                My prediction; sponsor isn’t willing to pony up much. Novick still has to explain his false statement on the grant application.

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                • 9watts January 9, 2014 at 9:29 am

                  “The issue is whether tax money is well spent on bike share”

                  How do you feel about tax money being spent on studying the unfeasibility of the CRC?

                  Recommended Thumb up 1

    • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      wsbob,
      Streetcar.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Scott H January 8, 2014 at 8:49 pm

        For two people who both spend all day on bikeportland.org you two sure don’t agree on much.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • 9watts January 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

          If we agreed on much we would, I’m quite sure, post much less.

          I appreciate wsbob, and we have agreed a few times.

          Recommended Thumb up 2

    • q`Tzal January 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      wsbob
      …the New York-based Institute for Transportation & Development Policy…”, as having found with regards to bike share systems, that:
      “rarely do they provide enough revenue to ensure that the system is financially self-sustaining.”

      Other things the government does in the transportation sector that aren’t directly self sustaining on an accounting ledger :
      () Public Transit: rarely if ever is ticket fees a leading revenue source for any city’s transit system.
      () ALL OF OUR ROADS: there is no “road tax”, the gasoline and diesel taxes haven’t kept up with inflation nor increased vehicle fuel efficiency and vehicle registration fees are a drop in the bucket. Material costs have risen and overall tonnage have skyrocketed leading to more frequently needed repairs, more costly repairs. User fees haven’t covered road costs in many decades so weve gotten used to property taxes for roads but even these can make up the gap.

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      • wsbob January 12, 2014 at 1:14 am

        As I’ve written elsewhere, roads and mass transit do not limit use to people having the ability to ride a bike. That being true, the public can far more easily accept supporting those systems as essential transportation infrastructure needs, despite the systems’ inability to pay their way through user fees.

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  • rob January 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    We’re sorry that you have to have Erik Lukens in Portland but we sure are glad to be rid of him in Bend

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  • Mike January 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Hmmmm…

    An interesting poll of Portlanders would be: which is the least risky transportation investment for the City?

    Choices:

    1) Contributing $2M more to increase by 1% the money already spent over the last decade on planning for a possible future Oregon-only CRC (that is still vaporware)

    2) Spending $2M more to increase by 0.1% the money already spent on highway improvements in the region over the past decade

    3) Spending $2M more to increase by 0.2% the money already spent in transit improvements in the region over the past decade

    4) Spending $2M more to increase by 100% the possible operating cost overruns in the first few years of a Portland Bike Share system (that is still vaporware)

    5) Spending $2M more to increase by 2% the money already spent on active transportation improvements (bikes, pedestrians) in the region over the past decade

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    • Mike January 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      I should never post before dinner.

      #4 above should probably read “buffer” instead of “increase by 100%”, but you get my point…

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  • Brian Mack January 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    What do we expect from the Boregonian? In my opinion, the editorial board at the Boregonian has been short-sited and overly conservative on a wide variety of topics for as long as I have lived in Portland. It is extremely rare for me to agree with any of their opinion pieces.

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    • 9watts January 7, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      “overly conservative”

      I think you are being generous. Conservative, once upon a time, would have taken a dim view of pork as nutty, unfundable, and risky as the CRC.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • spare_wheel January 8, 2014 at 7:35 am

        i think the correct term is plutocracy. and most of the “progressive” leadership in this town (*cough* streetcar *cough*) are just as guilty of this sin as the hacks at the O.

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  • Tyler January 8, 2014 at 12:17 am

    I’m still not entirely clear what the supposed ‘risks’ are?

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  • Joe January 8, 2014 at 8:19 am

    speechless with regards to anything the O’s writes. That paper must come with meds or something ;)

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  • James Sherbondy January 8, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Of course they’re afraid of bike share. They’re afraid of anything that’s not 1950′s father knows best America. They’re afraid that some one who works downtown and drives is going to give one of these a whirl one day to go a few blocks to lunch and see how fun and easy bike riding is and ditch the car commute. Anything that’s the slightest threat to their advertising overlords is poo-pooed.

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  • Mick O January 8, 2014 at 11:35 am

    wsbob
    Maybe you do, but I don’t think petty name calling, substituted for well thought out constructive criticism, constitutes editorial writing.

    Interestingly, this blog post was pointing out that “petty name calling, substituted for well thought out constructive criticism” is a big part of what the Oregonian’s editorial was. The O could have “raised questions” in such a way that doesn’t presuppose an answer — but then it wouldn’t have been an editorial. They’ve raised questions — and then answered them with dubious logic and a lack of substantive citation. The author of this blog post responded to those dubious assertions very ably, and now we’re chiming in to say we agree with the blog post.

    So, I’m not sure what, actually, you’re objecting to. The Oregonian’s position has been already been well rebutted. You want us to re-hash the original blog post in our comments?

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    • wsbob January 8, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      I just reread the O editorial, and found not one single instance in which someone or something was referred to by name calling.

      As you’ve reminded us, the O’s editorial was…an editorial; the editorial board’s expression of their personal views. They did raise questions, which nobody exactly knows the answer to, particularly as to how bike share will work out in Portland…and drew on findings from New York-based Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, as a means of arriving at some sense of how they think the system may work out.

      Their having done this is not presupposing, but reasoning based on limited, available information about a relatively new type of transportation infrastructure system. Maybe you or someone else reading here has additional information that can be submitted that would possibly offer people hesitant about supporting bike share, something different that would give them good reason to take a different stance on bike share than the editorial board currently holds.

      And this is where solid rebuttal of the O ed board’s views could come into the discussion here in this comment section of bikeportland, but so far, hasn’t, having been substituted instead with a lot of excuses about the Oregonian being this or that; nothing particularly having to do with whether bike share could be more than something fun for tourists and lunch time bike rides, and how people think this could happen.

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      • are January 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm

        okay, then hyperbolic sarcasm
        “How can Portlanders sleep at night, really, until kiosks of government-issue bikes are airdropped all over the city’s central core?”
        this demeans the proponents of bikeshare exactly as much as name calling. in fact, it is name calling, you just don’t quite hear the name.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Supercourse January 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Todays new,part time Oregonian often reads like a Texan Tea Party rag.

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  • Rob Chapman January 9, 2014 at 6:32 pm

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