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East Portland reporter’s notebook: Pump track, a shop on the ‘Outer Rim’, Halsey sidewalk, & more

Posted by on June 16th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Michael and I had a great time riding and reporting all over east Portland last week. While we’ve posted over 150 images in our photo gallery and nine front page stories, our notebooks still have plenty of items worth sharing with you…

A visit to The Outer Rim, Portland’s easternmost bike shop

The Outer Rim Bike Shop-1
Brandon Fite, manager of the The Outer Rim.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Unlike in neighborhoods that ring Portland’s central city, where it sometimes feels like there’s a bike shop around every corner, there are very few bike shops east of I-205. In fact, there are only two.

The Outer Rim Bicycle Shop at NE 106th and Halsey is the easternmost bicycle retail and repair shop in Portland (just over seven miles from downtown as the crow flies). Now in its sixth year of business, this family shop is a welcome oasis for bike riders in this part of town. Founded by Nadine Jones in 2009, the shop has grown every year and is beloved for its treatment of customers and the free, lifetime maintenance it offers with new bike purchases.

The Outer Rim Bike Shop-3

These days, 26-year-old Brandon Fite holds down the fort. Fite, Jones’ son, learned the ropes of the bicycle business from his mom. Sadly, she passed away from cancer in January 2013. “She was the heart of this shop,” Fite shared when I met him on Tuesday. “She treated every customer like family.”

With a good foundation, The Outer Rim seems to be doing very well. The showroom floor was jam-packed with a big selection of all types of bikes — from Breezer city bikes to the latest BMX models. Drawing from such a large area, Fite said the shop serves a very diverse customer base. “We have everybody in here. We get the poorest of the poor to the very well off, and all types of different languages.”

The Outer Rim Bike Shop-4

Is Fite happy there’s not much competition from other bike shops? “Shops aren’t our competition,” he said, “Our competition is 24 Hour Fitness, cable TV, and video games.”

Surrounded by a large parking lot and located smack-dab in the middle of Gateway, this shop is poised for even more growth. Fite said they’ve expanded their inventory by 30% from last year alone and once they catch up with all the business he’s looking to hold more events. “Our dream is to eventually host big events… We want to be a foothold in this community.”

Next time you’re in the neighborhood, swing into 10625 NE Halsey and say hi to Brandon and his crew.

The Ventura Park pump track’s helping hands

It might not look like much from afar, but the newly expanded pump track at Ventura Park is now even better.
(Photos Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

Ventura Park, at SE Stark and 117th, is now home to the only public pump track in the City of Portland, including the city’s only legal dirt jump.

The 4,000-square-foot cloverleaf of packed dirt, symmetrically designed so it can be ridden simultaneously by two riders, is a labor of love for John “Dabby” Campbell, a former bike messenger who taught himself to build pump tracks while house-sitting outside Salem in 2003. He’s now become something of a freelance pump track builder who hires out his services.

John “Dabby” Campbell, pump track builder.

The Ventura Park project, however, is Campbell’s volunteer project for the Northwest Trail Alliance, which partnered with the city to create this gem. This pump track opened in July 2012 and Dabby has just put the finishing touches on a significant expansion.

“Sandy Ridge is great, but we have kids here who are learning to mountain bike,” Campbell said when I met up with on Thursday. He’s looking for volunteers interested in helping him build and maintain more pump tracks. Based on what he’s heard from the city parks office, he thinks there’s great potential for these to be added to larger parks around the city.

Campbell says that thanks to ongoing design tweaks, it’ll take him about two hours a month to maintain the Ventura pump track.

Interested in joining Campbell’s crew for his next project? Want to get information about the race he plans to hold there this summer or fall? Email him at dabby@nw-trail.org.

— by Michael Andersen


Starbucks-branded bike parking

Starbucks bike parking 122nd & Halsey
What the?! (Turns out they’re bike racks.)

While waiting for a red light at NE 122nd and Halsey, I caught some very interesting bike parking out of the corner of my eye. And, lo and behold, it was for a Starbucks drive-through! The racks were four, two-sided steel pillars with a hooks at the top for a bicycle’s front wheel. A steel arm then swiveled out to stabilize the frame and offer something to look up to. It wasn’t a very good design at all; but I was impressed at the prominent placement of the racks themselves and the fact that Starbucks cared enough to emblazon their logo directly onto them. (Note: The racks were built by Urban Racks.)

Starbucks bike parking 122nd & Halsey
And yes, I realize that’s not exactly where the swivel-bar should be placed, but it didn’t balance my bike well the other way so I did this for the photo.

Observations of the NE Halsey Street overpass

NE Halsey 92nd crossing-1
This photo shows how PBOT (via the bike symbol) wants you to ride up onto the sidewalk (against traffic) from the intersection of NE 92nd and Halsey. You’ll notice that more confident riders eschew this advice and ride in the lane.

As most highway overpasses tend to become, the Halsey Street bridge over I-205 is an important link in the bike network. Given its proximity to the Gateway shopping area and other key streets in the bike network (Halsey, 102nd, 92nd, Tillamook, and so on) this overpass sees a relatively high volume of use by bicycle riders.

Unfortunately, those riders are directed up onto the sidewalk on the north side that is forced to handle two directions of bicycle traffic. The bridge itself has a pretty significant incline and this segment of Halsey has two standard lanes in both directions and no bike lane or shoulder room to speak of.

205 84 Halsey
The riding environment on top of Halsey over I-205 is intimidating. It’s noisy and there are fast-moving vehicles in all directions.

I’d never noticed it until Monday (my first day of commuting to East Portland each morning), but if you’re heading eastbound from NE 92nd, instead of heading left in the lane on Halsey, PBOT directs you into the crosswalk and up onto the sidewalk to ride against downhill bicycle traffic on one side and auto traffic on the other. It’s not very pleasant at all.

2-way sidewalk on Halsey
Headed eastbound, up the sidewalk on the north side of Halsey.

Then of course, since you’re on the wrong side of the street once you get to the east side of I-205, you’ve got to re-orient yourself on Halsey by making either a left turn at the busy intersection of the shopping area, or make a two-stage left that crosses the Fred Meyer driveway. Neither of those are ideal options.

Does Halsey really need four full-sized lanes? Could we narrow them to create a buffered bike lane on the north side? Are their other solutions to make this crossing more pleasant for bicycling?

— Read more of our East Portland Week coverage here.


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  • Kirk June 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you for covering the Halsey Street overpass! That roadway desperately needs to be reconfigured/modernized to include buffered bike lanes. It doesn’t have any direct connections to the interstate, therefore it doesn’t attract 4 lanes worth of auto traffic. It could easily be re-striped without causing much delay at all for motor vehicle operators. It’s such a stressful crossing the way it is today.

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  • BIKELEPTIC June 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I freaking hate the Halsey overpass sidewalk! To get to Freddies I have to go over it and most of the time I end of walking it because it’s narrow and if other people are coming it’s a juggle. Plus fully loaded panniers make it wobbly to navigate. Then if it’s windy, another scary. Then if I’m just not feeling like worrying about dying, I’ll go up 82nd to the MAX. That’s right. I’ll take the MAX a whopping half a mile to get Gateway just to avoid Halsey overpass. Or I will go to the Freddies on 60th (doubling the milage on my grocery trip) or the Safeway on Sandy on 72nd. Again doubling the milage.

    This also brings up an important note about accessibility issues in East Portland. Because while this is just 1.5 miles for me to get to the gateway freddies and a minor inconvenience. What if I was disabled or elderly. To get to any grocery store from my home (that’s not walmart) I pretty much have to take 2 buses unless I want to take the 72 all the way to Clackamas Co. That just doesn’t seem right. Why is it if I lived in the Kerns/Hollywood neighborhood I could have 6 grocery stores within a mile of each other but I can’t get a single grocery store within 1 mile in east county? It’s a food desert out here.

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    • Reza June 16, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Grocery store market analytics is not at all altruistic when trying to decide where to locate a store. Frankly, corporations do not care one bit that you are in a food desert. They are much more concerned with crime rate and the number of highly-educated people located in a certain area when determining if a location will pencil out. It’s pretty ruthless, which is why Hawthorne can have 3 and Hollywood can have 5-6, but Williams for the longest time had 0 and wide swaths of East Portland are still underserved.

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    • Mossby Pomegranate June 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      It’s because theft is so high out here. Stores are robbed blind. Good luck encouraging new stores to come out this way. That’s just part of the territory with our lower income demographic.

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  • groovin101 June 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I agree that a Eastbound bike lane would be absolutely wonderful and would make the Halsey St Overpass so much more useable. While the Westbound direction does carry a fair amount of auto traffic (connects to 84W), the Eastbound direction only changes to 2 lanes right before the overpass anyways. I would love to see that second lane delayed until post-overpass, giving bikes and peds a way across without having to go against head on traffic.

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    • paikiala June 17, 2014 at 11:59 am

      Westbound AM peak is over 1200 cars per hour, while the eastbound PM peak is just over 800 per hour. Using the rough standard of 1000 vehicles per lane per hour, westbound probably should have two lanes, but eastbound really only needs one, while right now it has two going over the freeway. Uphill buffered bike lane anyone?

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  • TOM June 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I was just at The Outer Rim this last week (broke a spoke nipple) , very helpful they were. Also had past interactions with Nadine and she was very pleasant and helpful too. We miss her.

    You mentioned 2 shops, but didn’t name the second one .. I’m ASSUMING it is Performance Bikes in Mall 205.

    That Starbucks rack seems more about style than utility.

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  • Ted Buehler June 16, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    The Halsey Viaduct also has very poor pavement quality. Very slick in the rain. All the concrete surface has been chipped off by cars’ studded tires, so the riding surface is the slick river pebbles used as fill in the concrete. It was never intended to be a material that tires were expected to grip to.

    Normally this would be just another ho hum day on a busy street in Portland, but since the Halsey Viaduct is steep both up and down and has gradual curves, and fast car traffic, it is especially dangerous. You could easily wipe out on that roadway if you swerve to dodge road debris in the lane, and get flattened by a car behind you, who might be able to stop or swerve in normal conditions or on normal pavement, but not on the low-traction surface of the viaduct.

    Anyone that rides this thing regularly should be sainted.

    And anyone who rides it regularly would do well to send complaints to safe@portlandoregon.gov and ask for improvements.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Suburban June 16, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      The Halsey Viaduct has all modern pavement. Ride it or don’t. Consider carefully the eventuality and circumstances that may accompany the “improved and widened for (freight) bikes and peds on Halsey”. Do you want to live in that Portland? You don’t need to take a lane that is already yours to use.

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      • paikiala June 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

        PBOT has a new pavement grinder that could do a lane width and only take off the top 1/4 inch. This would roughen the surface before the outside lane was converted to an uphill buffered bike lane.

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    • BIKELEPTIC June 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Then the problem is when you get to the bottom of it on what is that? 92nd? Making the right hand turn off of the viaduct to get onto 92nd, nothing is paved there, or it’s inadequately paved. All I know is that when I take it to go home I hit gravel – so when I’m carrying a full load or on my skinny road tires you lose traction. So your choice is to swerve out into the middle of the road or perhaps biff it in the gravel in front of Luke Dorf.

      But they’ve done the most insane stupid things back there in that South Madison area right back there anyway. Re-tarred perfectly fine roads that butt up against graveled roads with multiple potholes that are 6″+ deep. But that’s a different conversation. And we all know that road improvements goes to central Portland unless a kid dies out here in the hinterlands.

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      • Mossby Pomegranate June 17, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        That T-intersection of Halsey and 92nd is a hellhole. And if you are heading eastbound up the sidewalk you really got make sure nobody is flying down headed westbound. Almost had some very nasty collisions there.

        It’s tough biking out here for sure.

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  • Barbara June 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I’ve used that regularly since the late 80′s. Last summer I had to contact city more than one to get the metal expansion joint flattened. It came up & was very dangerous during the overpass repaving & they did nothing about it then.
    I was the one that made comments suggesting they add the sign telling people where to go @ 92nd & Tillamook when they 1st developed the ” bike path”. For out of towners it wasn’t clear. Still no sign directing people how to get to the 205 bike path from the stoplight @ the Shopping center entrance.

    A while back when I approached the max area & stopped at the entrance to the sidewalk to ask the Tri-met security guard where the bike path access was since wasn’t signed. He refused very rudely & belligerent to tell me until I completely got off my bicycle even thought I wasn’t riding & wasn’t on the sidewalk. I avoid that area but certainly not an acceptable way to treat someone asking for information. I used bikes routes when I’ve travelled to other cities that I’ve been unfamiliar with find the signs very useful.

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  • Buckles June 17, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I wandered into The Outer Rim with time to kill a few weeks ago. As a longtime wrench jockey, I enjoy a chance to see what other shops are up to. I had an opportunity to chat with the fellow behind the counter and to check out their offerings. I was impressed with both. They seem to understand the needs of their widely varied customer base, and the place is clean, stocked and well lit without feeling corporate or pretentious. Just like a good honest, small-town bike shop. Kudos.

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  • Champs June 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Halsey over I205 is the worst, especially eastbound (up the grade). My girlfriend is not keen to take the lane going down, and the psychotic woman who laid on the horn at her and threatened to run us down did nothing to boost her confidence there.

    We hitched onto a nice convoy all the way through Gresham on the way back from Edgefield, but Halsey over the freeway was out of the question.

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  • Anne Hawley June 17, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    That Halsey viaduct lies between me and a frequently-visited family member. It’s terrifying. I’ll ride a couple of miles out of my way to avoid it, and frankly that’s a decision-maker for me: about half the time, I decide not to pay that visit. If I had to ride make that trip every day, I’d be screwed.

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