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Bike Loud PDX is getting louder

Posted by on February 23rd, 2016 at 12:03 pm

bikeloud-lead
Bike Loud’s meeting Sunday in southeast Portland.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Bike Loud PDX — Portland’s upstart, all-volunteer bike advocacy group — is not going anywhere. In fact, they’re growing, maturing, and likely to get much louder in the coming months and years. I attended their general meeting on Sunday to see what they’re up to and get a feel for what the future might hold.

Bike Loud launched in August 2014 with a single comment by Alex Reed. “Anybody interested in starting a louder voice for cycling in Portland email me,” he wrote under a BikePortland post about the state of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “If we get a few people, we’ll meet for drinks and a ride sometime soon!” The emails happened. So did the meeting and the ride shortly thereafer. 18 months later Bike Loud hasn’t slowed down and they’ve chalked up an impressive string of successes.

“We’ve been ad-hoc all this time, now we need capacity.”
— Terry Dublinski-Milton, Bike Loud PDX member

Their very first campaign forced the Portland Bureau of Transportation to install traffic diverters on the Clinton Street Neighborhood Greenway. It was an issue that plagued the community for years. People were frustrated at the increase in driving on what was supposed to be a low-stress bicycling route. But the political will to physically impede auto traffic was not there. Bike Loud created that political will by harnessing riders’ frustrations, taking their demands directly to City Hall, organizing the grassroots, and building support among neighborhood businesses. They also did their research. They studied the street’s traffic patterns and proved to PBOT and City Hall staffers that there was intellect behind the anger. Bike Loud’s work on Clinton helped hasten the creation and ultimate City Council adoption of the neighborhood greenway report. That report is what gave PBOT the policy cover to finally install the diverters — 17 months after Bike Loud’s first protest ride on the street.


Safe Streets Rally Part 2 at City Hall -27.jpg
Scene from Bike Loud’s safe streets rally at City Hall in June.

I’ve seen several groups come and go. They usually organize in response to a specific concern and then ultimately fizzle out over time. But Bike Loud seems to have staying power. Since Clinton they’ve thrown their weight behind traffic diversion on Northeast Rodney, held a die-in and a vigil in front of the Oregon Department of Transportation headquarters in downtown Portland, and have continued to write letters and stay engaged on many issues that pop-up on their vibrant email list.

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Direct Action Coordinator Soren Impey (left), Co-Chair
Emily Guise, and member Marsha Hancrow.

At their meeting in the KBOO radio studios on Sunday their agenda was so full meeting leader Terry Dublinski-Milton (a veritable force of nature in local transportation and neighborhood activism circles) had to cut several things just to fit it into the three-hour timeslot.

The entire first hour was devoted to organizational structure. Establishing rules and order isn’t as fun as planning the next direct action, but it’s crucial if a group wants to survive to protest another day. Bike Loud elected a direct action coordinator (Soren Impey) and three co-chairs last may (Emily Guise, Ted Buehler, and Jessica Engelman). Now they’re working to establish a board. “We’ve been ad-hoc all this time, now we need capacity,” said Dublinksi-Milton. As they debated issues like the size and voting structure of the board, things got heated. This is the moment in a group’s rise where things can fall apart, when a passion for the cause spills over into hurt feelings and personality conflicts. While this was a vigorous discussion, the group kept their eyes on the prize, respected different viewpoints, and made several significant decisions.

When the agenda moved to projects and policies, the scope and potential of this group came into focus. They discussed a number of issues including: a growing collaboration between Bike Loud and homeless advocates around the public camping issue; a rising disdain for the 20s Bikeway project, concrete suggestions to improve it, and an upcoming direct action to raise awareness of its shortcomings; an opportunity to influence an ODOT project on Highway “Dirty” 30; and the formation of a “Safer Ankeny” subcommittee to (hopefully) mimic their success on Clinton as PBOT readies diverter plans for that street.

The meeting covered a lot of ground. I was impressed with both the quantity and quality of the discussions and I left feeling much better about the future of Portland’s bike advocacy ecosystem.

Bike Loud is currently registered as a corporation with the State of Oregon while they explore options for nonprofit status. You can become a “member” by showing up to meetings, taking part in their events, and joining to their email list. Learn more at BikeLoudPDX.org.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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11 Comments
  • peejay February 23, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    You should have many tools in the box, and Bikeloud feels more like the hammer we need right now. I’m happy to cast my lot with them.

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  • EmilyG February 23, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks for the write-up, Jonathan! Our google group is really the heart of the action, but people can also find us on twitter @bikeloudpdx, like our page on Facebook (facebook.com/bikeloud), or join the BikeLoudPDX facebook community group. We’re always welcoming members, so don’t hesitate to join us!

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  • JimK February 23, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Jonathan for the coverage!

    One of the ‘important decisions’ is to increase the number of positions on the board. To that end, we are having elections at the next meeting (March 13th) and I encourage people to attend!

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    • Adam H. February 23, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      How does one run for a board member?

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      • soren February 23, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        Show up at the March meeting or, if you can’t make it, nominate yourself by contacting the meeting facilitator.

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        • Adam H. February 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm

          Thanks!

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  • Terry D-M February 23, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Thank you Jonathan for coming and the great coverage! It was a critical point in our building long term capacity. As we have seen in the 20’s, advocacy groups have to be able to follow through over long periods of time. That stakes a basic structure. I think after debate our low-key board structure is a great foundation to build from. Board elections next month!

    Which will make it easier to get so much more work done!

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  • mh February 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Another “thank you,” for being there, and being a well-informed participant as well as a reporter. (And no, it didn’t feel like an ethical breach.)

    Eight new Google group readers joined today, probably as a direct result of the article.

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  • Chadwick F February 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Bravo you guys. You’re becoming the group I had hoped the BTA would be. Here’s to keeping it together and many more future successes.

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  • K'Tesh February 24, 2016 at 1:36 am

    You folks want to come to China and see what I’m up against now? I could use the help.

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  • Angel February 24, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I’m so excited to see Bike Loud getting their nuts & bolts together!

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