View Full Version : what services would increase # & destinations of cyclists?

Brian Lacy
08-01-2007, 10:48 AM
Hello Portland pro-cyclist community! I’m seeking the input from riders (and riders who’d like to talk with their wanna-be cycling friends) about what they think will encourage more riders and types of riders to bike more often and to more destinations. Possible reasons might be:
1. not comfortable/confident riding (2 million cars, 20 dogs, some railroad tracks, etc.)
2. bike not working well or feels painful to ride
3. fear of a flat tire along the way
4. clothing issues
5. ??
Why am I interested in knowing? I’m planning to start a project that will fill identified unmet needs in the areas of bicycle repair, handling skills, confidence, and general camaraderie. Hearing your impressions will really help.
As for “who is this guy”, I have more than 15 years experience as a teacher of bicycle mechanics, and I ride daily in Portland . I have been a bike mechanic mostly on at times off since ’80, started the Community Cycling Center in ’94, and have taught many classes since then, mostly to kids in my daughter’s school, but also in low-income elementary and middle schools throughout the area, as a volunteer.

The best way to reach me is at bikeempowered@yahoo.com, though I can also be reached if needed at 503.975.2391. Many thanks in advance, Brian (Lacy).

08-01-2007, 02:20 PM
I'm happy to ride anywhere. However, the lack of proper bike parking does put me off from doing so. "Proper bike parking" = not stuck away in a low traffic corner, good visibility from entrance of business, something solidly attached to lock to.

The Cedar Hills New Seasons gets it. The Cedar Hills Winco does not. I take my bike in the store with me when I shop Winco. (Now you know where I shop on the commute home :-) )

08-01-2007, 03:25 PM
Cleaner bike lanes (glass, trash, reflector bits, landscape debris, etc);

Better car drivers (as in, use the turn signals, watch for other traffic, pay attention to the action of driving);

Bike paths that actually go somewhere and hook up with other bikes paths (instead of the disjointed few miles of off-street paths we currently have, i.e. the Fanno Creek Trail), and are safe to use;

More bike lanes, or bike lanes that continue instead of peter out, or at the very least, wider shoulders (or a shoulder at all);

And, my least barrier to biking more: flats or other mechanical woes. I think I can handle a flat, but more than that and I think I'd be in trouble.

What would fix that last barrier, is of course, taking class or something. And the barrier to that is, of course, time!

:) Kt in Tigard

Simple Nature
08-01-2007, 08:37 PM
My biggest peave is the lack of concern and maintenance of the existing bike lanes. It is like playing dodge-ball or the amazing maze... with glass, debris, parked maintenance vehicles (and police just turning a blind eye when they drive right by vehicles parked in bike lanes!), mismatched pavement due to rain-drains, bike-lanes in one direction but not in the opposite direction (development 1/2 street improvement policy where the city doesn't pick up the other half), poorly paved bike lane surfaces.

Then there are those lights that don't see bikes or turn way to fast to complete a crossing by bike; poor visibility when riding past parking lots when people are in too big a hurry to bother looking for things smaller than their SUV; mass transit that does not accept ALL alternate modes of transportation (recumbents or all kinds are often frowned upon on Max or trimet busses); MUP that have a crawl speed average with pedestrians (cycling planning needs to provide true roads for bikes).

...And laws need to adequately address the special needs for cycling such as appropriate yields and rights without stopping (the straight shot on t-intersections); allowing groups of bikes to go through a stop as if they were one vehicle; accept 2 abreast as a smart way to ride for visibility; extreme fines and punishment for harasing cyclist while moving (careless/wreckless driving on the first incident); more suburban police on bikes specifically to patrol and protect cycling interests; raise the bar a few notches for ANY incident between cyclists and cars... and of course NO CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING or RIDING [DUH!]!

08-02-2007, 07:21 AM
My initial thoughts when I read this yesterday were nearly identical to Simplenature's: glass, debirs, bike lanes (& lack thereof), idiot drivers, lights that detect bikes, etc.
But I got to thinking about questions I get from co-workers and friends who don't bike. Their obstacles to getting started are mostly logistical and things I hardly think about any more. Where do I shower? (I've found that there's almost always a shower in or near the building I work in and it hardly ever gets used) Before or after the ride? (after) How do I get my clothes to work? (rolled works better than folded in the panier. Wrapped in plastic garbage bag keeps them dry in the worst downpour) Do I eat before or after the ride? (after) What if there's an emergency and I have to go home? (with Portland traffic I can oft times get home sooner by bike). Do you ride in the rain? (yes. The right gear that will last years costs about 3 tanks of gas).
People like their routines. Especially first thing in the morning when they are still trying to wake up. The biggest challenge seems to convince people to adjust their routines. I'm lost anymore on days when I have to drive. I inevitably forget something because I am out of my routine of packing clothes into my panier.

08-02-2007, 01:38 PM
When I was commuting on bike occasionally (now I'm up to 4-5 days a week), sadly the weather had much to do with it. I found that raingear only goes so far. People have to be willing to put up with the cold, wet weather. I've become better at overcoming my irrational fear of being cold and wet as the years have passed.

But #1 on my list has been having a secure bike parking area (that's not in my office), and having a shower facility at my office building. The availability of those two things has made it very hard for me to find a reason NOT to bike to work. If more health clubs offered discount "shower-only" memberships for nearby companies' employees, that might boost people's willingness to bike.

And last but not least, getting a cellular phone made me feel much better about riding longer distances. If something serious happens, I know I can always call my husband to come pick me up.

08-02-2007, 02:54 PM
My biggest peave is the ... and of course NO CELL PHONES WHILE DRIVING or RIDING [DUH!]!

wow dude i sure hope you remebered to take a breath while writing that..

yeah what he said mostly.

My biggest complaint is the lack of north south bike ways on the east side. 21 is narrow, 30th is ok but only workd between division and stark, 34th only makes it to belmont realy (crappy connection on stark, at least on 30th you can jog over to 28th), 39th is a death race... etc.

oh yes and there is my employer... who basicly expects me to have a car available at all times. I biked a few times and when they needed something they were surprised that my car wasnt there.

08-07-2007, 01:01 PM
Bike lanes! More of them, and more that make sense - with good connections. My personal peeve? The Rose Quarter Transit Center if you're not coming in to it from Interstate. If you come toward downtown from Multnomah trying to get to the esplanade, you can't make a left turn on to Interstate to hook up with the bike lane. Lots of people go left anyway, or barrel through the bus only areas. The bike lanes really feel like an afterthought and not like a part of a coherent traffic design.

Good luck, amigo! And thanks for the Community Cycling Center! I heart it!

08-07-2007, 01:38 PM
1. Glass and debris in bike lanes and intersections.

2. Too narrow bike lanes at times, or no bike lanes at all.

3. Need more bike specific lanes.

4. I agree with the problem on traffic lights not noticing bikes at all. Sometimes I wait for a very long time until a car shows up behind me. But sometimes I just run the light if there is no traffic coming. I don't enjoy running red lights but damn, I can't wait forever.

5. Hostile and irritated stares and glares from MAX non-bike commuters. But what are you gonna do? They just have to deal with it.

6. People putting a mound of suitcases on the MAX where the bike hooks are.

Simple Nature
08-08-2007, 07:38 PM
Max could use some open "cargo" cars that can carry large groups of bikes, trikes, scooters, and recumbents.

08-09-2007, 04:58 PM
I think you're going to get a pretty skewed set of answers here (or perhaps anywhere) -- I'd suspect that many of the readers of these forums are regular bike commuters already. So we've already overcome the "dealbreaker" reasons, and now they just have inconveniences to deal with (being sweaty when arriving at work, having to deal with inadequate parking, etc.).

From the non-cyclists I've talked to, the consensus seems to be that they are flat out just afraid to ride in traffic! I know many people who will cycle around SE Portland, but they will not travel along or sometimes even cross Hawthorne, Belmont, Burnside, 39th, etc.. I'd suspect laziness and the unwillingness to spend more time in transit are major secondary factors, but again, they're not ones that many people are willing to admit. Observation is another good way to gain some of these insights... if 3x more people are riding around now, when we have nice weather and long evenings, than in the winter, the conclusion seems pretty intuitive.

08-10-2007, 06:43 AM
As a child of the NE I would say that the winter weather here is balmy, even tropical..

but thats just me.

08-10-2007, 07:28 AM
When I read your post, I immediately thought of my wife. The extent of her bicycle experience prior to our marriage was 5 minute rides around the neighborhood when she was 10 years old.

Now, her heart is in the right place, but she doesn't really know how to ride. Add to that the related fact that she doesn't have any confidence in her ability, and the prospect of going out for a ride over 2 miles is simply very daunting.

As I look around the Portland bike scene for events that will provide a safe, welcoming environment in which she can learn, I find that even most of the introductory rides are 10-15 miles.

I think what would help her the most would be a series of workshops followed by a series of short 3-5 mile "technique" rides that provide her exposure to situations that she will encounter on the road.

She would love to bike more, but I think she just needs to be brought along gradually.

-Todd W.

08-10-2007, 11:32 AM
I cycle commute 13 miles each way most every day. However, I can't get my wife to cycle commute about 1 mile to her job at the Clackamas Town Center.

Her Reasons

1. Afraid to ride in traffic. (biggest fear for her)
2. If there was an emergency at home, she wants to be able to get into a car and get home in a hurry.
3. Bad Weather

08-10-2007, 11:53 AM
As with others, I'm already in the choir, so take my remarks accordingly. I bike commute 20 miles RT daily, from east of Mount Tabor to east Gresham. I can count on one hand the number of times I drove to work in the last year, and all those were because of meetings before or after work that I couldn't get to by bike. It's habit now. But working in Gresham, which is pretty bike-commute unfriendly, I have plenty of conversations with colleagues about why they don't ride, so putting myself in the position of those who don't isn't too difficult.

First, to echo what others have said, is the glass and debris in the bike lanes. east Burnside can be especially horrific, especially through the apartment belt in Rockwood, where a popular weekend activity is apparently tossing empties out car windows. Winter is rough too with sand and gravel accumulations reaching sandbar status through central Gresham. i honestly doubt the shoulder gets swept more than 4x/year. I can be pretty stoic, but changing a tube in the dark and the rain is no one's idea of fun.

But I think for most people the big deterrent (at least what they SAY) is the weather. They don't want to ride in the rain. To me, it's more a mental mindset than an actual problem. I mean, after all, skin is waterproof. You get the best rainjacket you can afford (forget rainpants - yuck!), you ride just hard enough to stay warm, and you change into dry clothes at your destination (yea, a hot shower helps big time on those cold wet mornings). Personally, I love being so intimate with the weather on a daily basis and really, Portland does not have truly bad weather. I'm glad I'm not commuting in winter in Minneapolis, or summer in Phoenix for that matter. one thing I learned early in mountaineering from a mentoring guide was the difference between cold and COLD. There's nothing wrong with being uncomfortable; you've just got to know when you're in danger. I think many could-be bike commuters don't want to be uncomfortable.

08-12-2007, 12:10 PM
They could have a cargo/biker car in the middle of the two trains. Sounds sweet. It would give them another reason to raise the fare, but 10-15 bikers at one time would be cool.:cool:

John Henry
08-17-2007, 04:03 AM
I would like to make the point that a big reason why people do not commute by bike is that it is not a car. This is a car culture, its a status symbol , passing the driving test is a huge right of passage. It is so ingrained in our culture it is almost impossible to resist. It takes muscle and a lot of sweat to move a bike. Driving a car requires no effort or strain at all. It feels safer to be wrapped in steel and glass then riding on a 20 lb piece of aluminum. Driving at first glance seems to be a better value, you dont have to sweat, you get where you are going quickly(at least on weekends) you can listen to music, choose if you want to be cool or warm, a self contained sanctuary , riding a bike in a down pour with the wind blowing in your face seems out of the question. Driving is convienient for most people, even with gas prices being high people still see a car as a necessity. Eventually society will reach a tipping point ,gas prices will be even more outragous and the 1 hour commute will turn into 3 hours. Only then with the motivation of lost time and money will people start commuting by mass transit and bike in large numbers. Until then it will just be crazy people like me who do it because they enjoy it.

08-23-2007, 10:36 PM
I agree with the previous post about cargo cars. Tri-Met will tell you they don't have room on the trains, but when they order new trains, they need to make them 15 to 20 feet longer. A two-car train is now 180 feet long--and Portland's blocks are 200 feet long. So there's an extra 20 feet before the trains start sticking out into the cross street during stops. Cal-Trans trains devote half a car (out of six) to storing 24 bikes. What do we get on MAX? About six?

Though I now ride almost everywhere and in all weather conditions except snow, most people are scared of auto traffic and put off by the weather. So what we need are dedicated, segregated bike lanes that also are covered. Essentially, bike freeways. The only uninterrupted, segregated lanes now in the Portland area are almost all on the periphery--like the Springwater Corridor. It shouldn't be too hard or too expensive to squeeze bike lanes from Sullivan's Gulch out along the MAX line and/or I-84 to around Gateway. I'd bet it would cost less than a tram to OHSU or the wholesale reconstruction of the downtown transit mall.

We're never going to see bicycling account for a significant share of the transportation mix until bicycling gets significant infrastructure.

08-24-2007, 12:22 PM
Like the post before stated a bike path along I-84 between Gateway and downtown would be sweet, one long uninterrupted path all the way downtown, well down to the water front...( and stops along the way , like at Hollywood transit , Loyd center etc.)I have been dreaming of this for a while now, If people in traffic could see bikers blasting down a path, and them sitting in traffic, they might start thinking "Hey I could do that?" well maybe.:confused:

If you drive down I-84 (going west for the best view)take a look over to the side, there is plenty of room for a path all the way down and a few of the streets that cross over the freeway have unused tunnels for a better word that a path could use, but they are gated off do to bums an the like throwing garbage and camping out. You could clear all the crap out along the freeway, it would even look better (cleaner) let alone show other citys that we are a Bike CAPITOL:cool:

08-26-2007, 01:11 PM
I ride only 5 miles each way to work, about 3-5 times a week. My goal is to not only ride to work every day but also to bike to all or most of my errands and fun outtings.

My biggest barrier to that is being in shape for it. Just 40 miles a week can leave me pretty tired by Friday night, and then I'm not so keen on biking up to the pub or attaching the Burley and doing some shopping come Saturday morning. Perhaps a class on how to reasonably build endurance would be a good thing for some people. I also find that even when I try to "take it easy" I still end up pushing hard in some spots in order to feel safer (by being faster) on the road. I more bike tolerant culture would help with that. I'm sure that the stress from dealing with irate drivers also contributes to how tired I am at the end of the week.

Additionally, I think a big problem is our bike grid. It can be tricky to figure out how to get somewhere, and more than a few times I have had to memorize the map and directions for my destination because the directions were too convoluted. Bike routes don't continue on a particular road, but cut over to another road, then come back in a few blocks, then disappear, then reappear. It can be challenging. We absolutely need traffic-calmed, smooth-flowing, straightforward bike routes that don't require serious study to follow.