City of Portland orders removal of ‘America’s bike capital’ mural from downtown wall

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
Pedal Bike Tours owner Todd Roll and two tourists with the mural his company created in 2012. The lettering is due to be taken down Thursday due to a city code enforcement decision.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A city whose sign code is intended to prevent advertising eyesores and a local shop owner who’s developed “mixed feelings” about his project have settled on the removal, this Thursday, of one of downtown Portland’s newest icons.

That’s when workers are scheduled to remove the two-year-old, 45-foot-tall declaration that the city is “America’s bicycle capital.” Pedal Bike Tours, the local rental and tour company that painted the mural in 2012 based on one of their T-shirt designs, hired them after conceding a compromise in a long negotiation with the city’s code enforcement office.

“Photograph it while you can,” Pedal Bike Tours owner Todd Roll said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s out of here.”


‘America’s Bicycle Capital’? A visitor is unimpressed – and worried for us

Monday, May 5th, 2014
Truth or dare?
(Photo: Matt Haughey/Flickr)

It was a strong claim and a proud one — though, at the time, it hardly even seemed controversial.

But two years later, the Pedal Bike Tours mural that welcomes Portland visitors to “America’s Bicycle Capital” strikes one visitor as a sign of something else: the paralyzing complacency of a city that has ridden its bike-friendly reputation to nationwide fame, wave after wave of highly educated young people and, within a few years, surging central-city job growth.

The problem, as Vancouver BC-based writer Chris Bruntlett describes it in a piece published this afternoon, isn’t that Portland doesn’t like bikes any more. It’s that the city doesn’t seem to feel that being bike-friendly requires any “difficult decisions.”


An annotated map to the future of bicycling in downtown Portland

Friday, November 8th, 2013
Map 5d from the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability’s West Quadrant Plan “Transportation Modal Concepts” series. (Modified with numbers by BikePortland)


A preview of Portland? Vancouver BC’s new downtown bike network (photos)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
bikers crossing
Vancouver’s three-year-old downtown bike lane network.
(Photos © M. Andersen.)

Lots of people know you can go to Copenhagen or Manhattan to see grids of protected bike lanes in action. But there’s another set of them 300 miles north of Portland — and they run right through a city so similar to Portland that they could be siblings.

City Council backs $21 million for better walking and biking, citing boost to economy

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013
Commissioner Steve Novick at Green Lane Project event
Commissioner Steve Novick speaking at a
Green Lane Project event earlier this week.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The ways people talk about active transportation seems to be changing in Portland, both inside and outside of government.

At a unanimous City Council vote Wednesday in favor of $20.7 million in federally backed walking and biking improvements throughout the city, including $9.1 million to enact parts of the East Portland in Motion plan and $6.6 million for what promises to be a historic upgrade of central Portland bike facilities, people on both sides of the council dais were repeating an idea that isn’t always common: Improving biking improves the city for people who don’t.

Leading the shift: new Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, who echoed and rephrased some of the observations we shared from his speech two nights before.

“It should be obvious to everybody that the freight improvements are connected to economic development,” Novick said Wednesday, referring to $4.1 million dedicated to efficient truck movement. “But the things that make it easier to walk and bike are economic investments. … There’s a couple of ways to improve your family’s economic position. One is to make more money, and one is to reduce your expenses. Active transportation investments help people reduce their expenses.”


Open house next week shows off five grants that promise street fixes

Thursday, August 8th, 2013
cool bike rack in downtown Portland oregon
Downtown is one of several neighborhoods that
could benefit from these grants.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A fleet of major projects to improve bike and foot travel in downtown Portland, East Portland, SE Foster Road, SW Barbur Boulevard and Southwest Portland’s neighborhoods will be competing for dollars and attention with freight projects each other at an open house next week.

The five projects are among many jostling for $95 million from Metro’s regional flexible fund allocation, one of the few channels of federal support for bike and walking transportation.

“Your feedback can help decide which projects get recommended to receive funding,” Metro says on its website. The open house is 6-8 pm on Aug. 15, one week from tonight, in the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Ave (PDF).


Downtown Portland bike theft reports plummeted 60% last year

Monday, June 24th, 2013
Locking up is looking safer.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s some great news for downtown Portland: it seems to be getting safer for parked bikes. Much safer.

You might have seen recent media reports that Portland bike theft reports dipped 13 percent citywide last year, according to a new Portland Police Bureau report. But what you didn’t read was that fully half of the drop came from a single neighborhood: downtown.

In 2011, one in 10 bikes reported stolen in the city was lifted from downtown Portland. Last year, the ratio fell to one in 20.

It comes out to 150 fewer bikes swiped from the city’s densest neighborhood, down from about 280 in 2011 to 107 in 2012. Authorities say they don’t know what caused such a sharp and localized drop.

“Of course we’d love to say that it’s because of the increased awareness we have provided on securing bikes,” police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson wrote in an email. “But very hard to quantify.” (more…)

The latest on PBOT’s $6 million downtown transportation plan

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Bike traffic on NW Broadway-16
PBOT wants to make downtown streets easier and safer to use.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The details of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s plans to invest in downtown bicycle access are getting clearer. As we shared back in February, PBOT has applied for $6 million in regional flexible funding (administered by Metro) in order to improve the transportation network in the downtown core.

Much about the plan — like specific locations and facility-types — remains undecided; but PBOT’s grant application (published on Metro’s website) provides the most detail we’ve seen yet about the project.

Checking in on the SW 12th Avenue project

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
The City wants to create dedicated bike access on SW 12th, but business owners and developers aren’t so sure it’s a good idea. Yet.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)


A ride on downtown Portland’s new buffered bike lanes (updated)

Monday, September 14th, 2009
buffered bike lanes
The buffered bike lane, westbound on SW Oak.
(Photos © Elly Blue)

It was a perfect Portland morning, alternating between gray and sunny. We’ve been getting tips all weekend about the new buffered bike lanes being installed downtown, and I decided to ride the full length of the new lanes and see how they work.

The buffered bike lanes dedicate one out of four lanes on SW Stark and SW Oak to bikes alone. One additional lane on these one-way streets is dedicated to through traffic, and a the outer lanes are for parking cars or (sometimes) making right turns. (more…)

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