Editorial Section Archives

Editorial: Activism for safer streets underscores larger transportation debate

Posted on February 8th, 2013 at 10:20 am.

“Demands for new biking, walking, transit, and other system improvements are common, but do you ever see activists clamoring for paving and street maintenance?”

Twice this week citizens of Portland have taken action to raise awareness about unsafe streets.

Benjamin Kerensa emailed us a video (watch it below) he put together of the crosswalk at NE 79th and Glisan. Kerensa witnessed a fatal collision last week involving a woman who was walking across that intersection in the sidewalk when she was hit by someone driving a car. The video, which shows numerous people failing to yield to people crossing the street, was featured on The Oregonian’s Hard Drive blog on Wednesday.

In his description of the video on YouTube, Kerensa pressured City Hall to improve the crosswalk:


Dispatch from SE Foster Road

Posted on January 24th, 2013 at 4:43 pm.

SE Foster Road-10
Seeing SE Foster for myself — from the safety of the sidewalk.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Over the long weekend I was summoned by the sun (and the need to break in a new bike) to do an exploratory ride. I hadn’t rambled down the Springwater beyond Sellwood for ages so I thought I’d go do “the loop” (north Portland to Springwater via the Esplanade then back north via I-205 path). As I rolled north on the path, one of the overcrossings (thanks TriMet!) allowed me to gaze down on SE Foster Road. Foster has been on my mind lately as a redesign that could include bikeways has recently floated up during the ongoing streetscape planning process. Without any set route in my mind, I decided to ride up Foster and get a first-hand feel for the street.

Eek. After being out there myself, I have a much better sense of what we’re up against. It wasn’t the first time I’d been on Foster; but it’s the first time I spent time to soak in the atmosphere and think about what could be.


Editorial: Portland’s golden opportunity to invest in downtown bike access

Posted on January 15th, 2013 at 2:37 pm.

Ride-along SW Broadway-9-6
This is what bicycling is like
in much of downtown Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is prepping a $10.2 million list of active transportation projects they hope to get funded through a federal grant. According to sources at PBOT, conversations have already begun to focus all that money on a package of projects that would focus specifically on downtown bike access in the form of protected bike lanes and cycle tracks.

This is a golden opportunity we should not pass up.

The money is available through a pot of federal money doled out by Metro Council known as regional flexible funds. The amount of funding that will come to the City of Portland (for the 2016-18 cycle) is $14 million. As per a resolution passed by the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation in 2010, $10.2 million (or 75%) of that total must be spent on active transportation projects (the remaining $3.7 million will go to freight projects).


How bikes are becoming more like cars

Posted on December 5th, 2012 at 4:31 pm.

BikeBOT Radio Ride-37
A sound system, plenty of storage space,
high-powered lights… Who needs a truck?!
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It occurred to me today that, when it comes to accessories and their presence on the road, bikes are slowly but surely becoming more and more like cars. Consider this: Not only are more and more cities dedicated increased roadway space to bicycles; but the proliferation of sound systems, iPhone mounts on handlebars, super-bright hub-powered light systems, and other product trends point to a significant leveling of the vehicle playing field.


Talk in Portland, action in Chicago

Posted on December 4th, 2012 at 1:58 pm.

New bike lanes on Dearborn;
just in time for holiday shopping.
(Photo: Green Lane Project)

Like New York before them, Chicago has just taken a major step forward in becoming a city where biking is given equal respect to driving.

Advocates are buzzing today as the Chicago Department of Transportation has striped a new, two-way bikeway on N. Dearborn St between Polk and Kinzie. That’s a segment of over one mile on a high-profile downtown street in one of America’s largest cities.

“That’s huge and symbolic,” tweeted Portland Mercury News Editor Denis Theriault upon hearing the news, “[Would] Be like putting one here on Washington or Everett.”

Yeah. If only.


Week end ramblings (A new column for my thoughts of the week)

Posted on November 16th, 2012 at 4:32 pm.

Portland fall 2012
Fall colors on Madison between 3rd and 4th.

Hey everyone, I’ve been wanting to get a bit more informal here on the Front Page. There are many things that cross my mind (and my desk) each week that I don’t post about; but that I want to share. And since Twitter is only 140 characters and it’s, well, Twitter, I want to try and start doing this every Friday. Think of it like the publisher’s letter. Expect a smattering of brief mentions, opinions, and whatnot. Thanks for reading, and thanks again for another amazing week of stories and comments. Oh, and I’m not sure what to call this new column. Any ideas? — Jonathan

If you’re in need of outfitting yourself with new gear for winter, you’re in luck. Showers Pass is blowing out their famed rain gear at “stupid low prices” at a warehouse sale that starts tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. This event was huge last year, so I’d suggest getting there early (it goes until 12 noon). 2101 SE 6th Ave (cross street is SE Lincoln). But wait! There’s more… I’ve lived in Icebreaker merino wool stuff for the past few years. Seriously. It’s awesome. And the big Friends and Family sale started today. It goes until 7:00 pm. It’s also on tomorrow from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm at 525 NW 10th Ave.


Why Mayor-elect Charlie Hales should publicly refute KATU’s story

Posted on November 14th, 2012 at 12:01 pm.

Hales told BikePortland he wants, “More bike projects,
more sidewalks, more connections for things that
aren’t automobiles.”
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Mayor-elect Charlie Hales needs to publicly refute a story by KATU-TV that grossly misrepresents his views on transportation policy. Hales has been aware of the misrepresentation for at least two days now, and yet he has not made any public statements to clarify and correct the record.

On Monday night, KATU broadcast (and then later published on their website) a story saying, “Hales plans to shift focus of city transportation budget.” The story went on to report that Hales would not make bikes a priority and that he, “wants 60 miles of streets paved and others repaired before there are any more bike projects.”

However, Hales’ own comments — made to me on two separate occasions and to KATU for their story — said nothing like that at all.

After detailing my opinion on the KATU story yesterday, I have since spoken again with Mayor-elect Hales.


As Portland inches along, new research shows separated bike infrastructure is safer

Posted on October 22nd, 2012 at 12:08 pm.

Ride-along SW Broadway-9-6
Riding on SW Broadway in downtown Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that physcially separated, bicycle-specific infrastructure can lead to much lower risk of injury for people riding bicycles.

Here’s more on the study from Atlantic Cities:

As it turns out, infrastructure really matters. Your chance of injury drops by about 50 percent, relative to that major city street, when riding on a similar road with a bike lane and no parked cars. The same improvement occurs on bike paths and local streets with designated bike routes. And protected bike lanes – with actual barriers separating cyclists from traffic – really make a difference. The risk of injury drops for riders there by 90 percent.


Police enforcement at Ladd Circle, N Flint ruffles feathers once again

Posted on August 30th, 2012 at 10:48 am.

The scene at Flint/Broadway last week.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Once again, two of the city’s most infamous stop sign locations are being targeted by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). This morning, and two other days this week, multiple motorcycle cops have stationed themselves at the intersections of N. Flint and Broadway and SE Ladd Ave at the circle. These locations have gotten bicycle-focused police attention for many years, but the behaviors that bring them there — a high rate of non-compliance by people riding bicycles — continue to be problematic.

At Flint and Broadway, I have confirmed with the PPB that they are working the intersection due to a request by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). The request comes as part of the move by PBOT last week to partially close N. Wheeler Ave (which is just a few yards west of the Flint/Broadway intersection). One vocal business owner who was opposed to the closure felt that the collisions at Wheeler were the direct result of people running the stop sign at Flint. Even though PBOT analysis shows a myriad of dangerous factors that contributed to the Wheeler right-hooks, media coverage of the closure then adopted this business owner’s perspective, thus cementing the idea with their audiences.


Opinion: Licensing debate should focus on reform, not revenge

Posted on August 24th, 2012 at 2:59 pm.

Bike traffic on N. Interstate

Once again we find ourselves in the midst of the big debate: Should bike riders be required to have a license?

This time it comes up following a decision by the City of Portland to partially close N. Wheeler Ave. The closure prevents all vehicles (not just cars and trucks) from turning right from Broadway and it was done to stop a scary history of right-hook collisions. Bob Huckaby, who owns a business that uses Wheeler for access, was opposed to the closure from the get-go. He saw the move as an unfair penalty on people who drive. In his mind, the right-hook problem exists only because people do not come to a complete stop when bicycling down N. Flint Ave., which is just a few yards upstream from Wheeler.

I agree with Bob. It’s unfair when the actions of one road user negatively impact another. But while I share his concerns about the issue, I disagree that pointing fingers at bicycle operators and calling for mandatory licenses will achieve the goal. Let’s put our energy towards reform, not revenge.