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Bikes, a perfectly normal part of growth in Portland’s Central Eastside

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
bike parking at Central Eastside Lofts-13
Parking garage at the Central Eastside Lofts.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Since we’ve taken some shots at Oregonian news coverage lately, it’s worth highlighting a moment of bike-friendly perceptiveness in their coverage.

Sunday’s cover story was the second in the paper’s occasional series about Portland’s changing Central Eastside, an “industrial sanctuary” that’s gradually been adding more office workers and, at the developing Burnside Bridgehead, several big apartment buildings.

The first installment, back in January, included some interesting perspective of what it feels like to run a truck-dependent business facing the Taylor Street neighborhood greenway. This weekend’s focused specifically on the food industry, and mentioned bicycles in the most casual way possible.

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Bill in legislature would legalize safe crossings against unresponsive red lights

Friday, March 13th, 2015
stuck on red
Many Portland bike users don’t realize how to use
detector loops like the one at NE Tillamook and
MLK Boulevard.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Though a bill as seemingly uncontroversial as state Senate Bill 533 isn’t the sort of thing we’d usually bother covering, some coverage today that originated in The Oregonian certainly has people talking.

As the O correctly explains in the seventh paragraph of the web version of its front-page story, SB 533 would make it legal to “proceed with caution” through a red light that is trying, but failing, to detect one’s bicycle or motorcycle. This would only be allowed after someone has waited through a full cycle.

Here’s how Oregonian reporter and columnist Joseph Rose and his editors chose to explain this bill:

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Oregonian story makes light of running over bicycle riders – UPDATED

Thursday, November 20th, 2014
oregonian

A story posted on The Oregonian’s website earlier today seems to make a joke about very serious and potentially dangerous driving behavior.
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Opinion: The PBA and The Oregonian are wrong about street tax impetus

Friday, November 14th, 2014
DSC_5589
They’ve never said “Our Streets” is only for paving.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Senator 1976-2000

It’s one thing to be opposed to something on principle or policy grounds, but when the facts are twisted to suit an agenda, that’s something else entirely.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what The Oregonian Editorial Board and the Portland Business Alliance have done. Both of these groups are staunchly opposed to the latest transportation revenue proposal unveiled by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick earlier this week. I’m not entirely in love with the proposal (I think a paltry 7% of total spending toward biking-specific infrastructure isn’t enough); but that’s a different conversation. For now, there’s one aspect of the argument from the PBA and The Oregonian that really needs to be called out.
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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.

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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.”
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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.

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