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The Oregonian Editorial Board on Portland’s “risky bike share venture”

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

“Bike sharing isn’t essential, and a bike-sharing system with unexpected complications requiring city subsidies would undermine the public’s confidence in the city’s ability to set priorities and manage money.”
— Oregonian Editorial Board, December 21st, 2013.

With a big announcement about the Portland Bike Share system likely to come this month, The Oregonian Editorial Board is making it clear where they stand. Portland’s risky bike-share venture is the title of their editorial that ran on the front page of the opinion section on December 21st.

The piece reflects the opinion of the members of the O’s editorial board: Mark Hester, Erik Lukens, Susan Nielsen, Len Reed and David Sarasohn. As our bike share system gets closer to reality, we’ll be watching closely how the local media tries to frame the narrative around the project. After all, the project has all the components of a media freakout: the concept (at least on this scale) is unprecedented in Portland, bike share is usually misunderstood by people that haven’t used it (just like cycling in general), it’s an idea first championed by former Mayor Sam Adams, and it involves bicycling. (more…)

From The Oregonian, Jan. 1, 1895: ‘Reign of the wheel’

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
An 1899 newspaper ad for a Portland bike shop, from a
presentation by local bike historian Eric Lundgren.

The first issue of The Morning Oregonian in 1895 included an article that holds up wonderfully well.

It was published one year before the first organized bicycle recreation association formed in Portland; two years before 800 local donors crowd-funded the city’s first dedicated bike path on North Williams and Vancouver Avenues; four years before Oregon governor-elect T.T. Geer bought a bicycle of his own and led the charge for road improvements through the state.

And 119 years later, this short case for the merits of biking still feels like the perfect way to kick off a year of progress.

(more…)

The Oregonian’s unfortunate letters about Hawthorne bike counter – UPDATED

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Public opinion not based on facts.

The Oregonian published two letters in today’s paper that allow a falsehood to go unchecked and that further perpetuate the incorrect notion harbored by many readers of that publication that bike-related spending by the City of Portland is both bad policy and out of control (neither of which are true of course).

The letters came in response to a story about the Hawthorne Bike bike counter that ran online on Sunday (3/17) and also ran in Monday’s print edition (page A6).

The online version of the story, Portland bike counter: Nudging 1 million trips over the Hawthorne Bridge, mentioned “the city’s $20,000 bike counter,” in the opening lines. Much lower down, in a “quick facts” section of the story, the reporter noted (correctly) that the counter was “donated to the city by Cycle Oregon.” (more…)

The Oregonian exposes ‘culture of exhaustion’ among TriMet operators

Monday, January 7th, 2013
Sunday’s front page.

On Sunday, The Oregonian published a major front page story on the issue of driver fatigue at TriMet. The report was the result of an eight month investigation into driving records and the findings are quite disconcerting to say the least. As someone who regularly shares the road just inches from buses and MAX trains, the thought that a driver might be drowsy or asleep at the wheel is very scary.

The Oregonian story recounts several anecdotes and backs them up with TriMet’s own reports and other documentation. In one example, reporter Joseph Rose wrote that, “In a 2010 case a veteran Line 75 driver decided to retire rather than fight a report that he fell asleep at the wheel ‘almost every day.’” When a rider complained that one driver had completely fallen asleep at a stop, the driver was never disciplined.

TriMet Director of Operations Shelly Lomax told the paper, “We do not have a policy against closing one’s eyes.”
(more…)

A response to the pro-car perspective

Monday, November 26th, 2012

“Cars — in whatever their future form may be — are here to stay. But so are bikes, transit and walking.”
— Op-ed in The Oregonian

A strange thing happened after Metro released a major new household travel survey last month. Despite the survey showing big increases in the rate of bicycle and transit use for central city residents since the last time the survey was done in 1994, The Oregonian seemed to frame it as proof that cars are still king in our region. The O’s Commuting reporter Joseph Rose also accused Metro of trying to spin the story to further their, “smart-growth battle against the unhealthy, polluting, life-sucking automobile.”

And then, right on cue, The Oregonian Editorial Board weighed in with this headline, People like their cars, a fact that Portland planners must take into account.

To counter that framing of the issue, local transportation expert Chris Smith and real estate developer Randy Miller penned an op-ed of their own. It’s now several weeks later, but it was finally published in the opinion section of Sunday’s paper. (more…)

On paving vs “bike routes”, The Oregonian got it wrong

Friday, September 21st, 2012

On Monday, I tried to share the truth behind The Oregonian’s extremely misleading “Portland’s Road to Ruin” article. That story, written by Beth Slovic and edited by Michelle Brence, has led many of its readers to believe that the Portland Bureau of Transportation was so focused on building “bike routes” they wouldn’t do any street paving until 2017.

Today I want to clear up some confusion around that article and clarify that not only do I believe it was purposefully edited to misinform the public; but that upon further examination, it contains factual errors that should be corrected.

To The Oregonian’s credit, the article did mention (albeit in the eighth paragraph) that some paving would be done, but that it would be only “minor repaving projects.” When I first published my critique on Monday, Slovic felt my opening paragraph was inaccurate because I stated that she claimed PBOT was, “spending so much on “bike routes” they had nothing left for paving.” Slovic was correct. I should have chosen those words more carefully. I edited that sentence to make it clear I felt her story created an inaccurate narrative but that it did indeed include all the facts.

But that was before I knew all the facts. Now I think it’s important for the community to know that the article was both misleading and inaccurate.

(more…)

Mayor Adams, BTA, Portland Mercury pile on rebuttals to The Oregonian

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Adams in a guest op-ed today.

Lest you think my repeated criticisms of the way The Oregonian frames transportation issues was just my personal axe to grind, it’s worth noting that the front page story in their Sunday edition is being called out from many corners.

In addition to the numerous intelligent citizens we’ve heard from in the comments, now Mayor Sam Adams, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), and even The Portland Mercury have issued detailed rebuttals to the now infamous, “Portland’s Roads to Ruin” story by The Oregonian’s Beth Slovic. (more…)

The Oregonian: Bikes to blame for potholes, PBOT budget mess

Monday, February 27th, 2012
Give me a break.

Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. The Oregonian’s strange, anti-bike editorial last week, seems to have laid the groundwork for Sunday’s front page story that unfairly and inaccurately blames bikes for PBOT’s budget problems.

As you can see from the front page image, under massive font that reads, “Portland’s Roads to Ruin” is the sub-headline, “What’s a priority? Bike routes, conferences, and staff. What’s not? Repaving and cleaning your crumbling roads.” (more…)

The Oregonian’s stance on bicycling (My opinion on their opinion)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The Oregonian Editorial Board weighed in on the state of bicycling in Portland today. The editorial appeared on the same week that PBOT released its annual bike counts showing a 6.4% increase between 2010 and 2011.

Whenever our state’s newspaper of record devotes major opinion space to bicycling, it’s worth noting. Regardless of what you think about The Oregonian, the fact remains they own an influential voice that helps frame the conversation. In Biking the path to urban health, The O’s Editorial Board seems to give a big thumbs up to bicycling in general, but when you look more closely, their opinion isn’t quite as clear.
(more…)

The Oregonian strikes again: And it’s not just about the numbers

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Last night, The Oregonian’s commuting reporter and columnist Joseph Rose published an article about Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ budget decisions. The article, Portland Mayor Sam Adams boosts funding for bike projects, but now there’s less for paving streets, attempts to make the point that Adams’ decision to allocate a larger percentage of discretionary revenue to “bike projects” comes at the expense of “motor vehicle projects.”

Not surprisingly, the article has spurred hundreds of comments, many of them by angry Portlanders who don’t like the idea of any spending that benefits bicycling and who feel Adams’ priorities are not in the right place.

Seem like a déjà vu? Unfortunately, it’s not out of character for him or for The Oregonian to frame a bike news story in a way that makes readers take sides. Whether it’s referring to a “cold war” on our streets and warning of an impending “backlash” against people who ride bikes, dropping an inaccurate and biased story on the Idaho Stop proposal the day before it was heard by legislators, or sensationalizing road rage to sell papers (which they later admitted to) — we’ve seen this happen time and time again. (more…)

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