Talking bikes in St. Johns

View of Mt. Hood from Willamette Blvd-1
The view from
N. Willamette Blvd.
(Photos © J. Maus)

We had our first ever Get Together event in St. Johns tonight and I have to say — mission accomplished!

We had a nice turnout. Knowledge was shared. New connections were made. Beer, fries, tots, and burgers were consumed. All in all, a great way to kickoff this new series of events.

One thing I’m looking forward to with these events is riding in different neighborhoods. I haven’t ridden on N. Willamette Blvd. for a long time and, with a clear view of Mt. Hood, I picked a great night to head up there. (Unfortunately, my ride ended on a bad note when I encountered a major repaving project toward the northern end of the street. The city has torn up the middle of the roadway, leaving a very sharp curb to mount in order to stay in the shoulder/bike lane. Add the high speed of cars, buses, and lots of dust, and the idyllic N. Willamette experience on the bluff turns quickly unpleasant.)

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After looking around for some bike parking (McMenamins could really improve in that department), I made my way into the St. Johns Pub and it didn’t take long for other folks to trickle in.

I liked the size of the crowd. It was large enough to feel like we really did something, yet small enough so that I knew everyone’s name (and could introduce them all to each other).

Esther Harlow, Greg Raisman and Daniel
Fleischer brainstorm potential bike
boulevard routes.

Greg Raisman, who’s helping PBOT with their bike boulevard effort, gave us a rundown of their thinking for good bike streets in North Portland. He poured over maps with several other folks and was excited to glean more local knowledge.

One of the people who gave Greg a bunch of input was Esther Harlow. She and Greg geeked out on a map of North Portland for at least a half-hour.

Joe Adamski representin’.

Another person who shared their North Portland knowledge with us was Joe Adamski. Joe (27 days from being a retiree — congrats Joe!) is a former board member of the St. Johns neighborhood association and he stays active in local issues. At the event tonight, he gave us an update on the bike corrals. He said there are two slated for downtown St. Johns; in front of the St. Johns Cinema at Lombard and Alta, and on N. Charleston at Lombard, adjacent to Weir’s Cyclery.

Adamski said the corrals are on order with PBOT, but since they’re still not officially adopted as a standard design, it may still be a while before they’re installed.

Timo Forsberg told us about
the SmartTrips program.

Never missing an opportunity to give away free maps, Timo Forsberg with PBOT’s Transportation Options Division joined us as well. Timo gave everyone a rundown on their SmartTrips program and said this coming spring and summer they’ll send a mailer to 28,000 households in St. Johns and North Portland. The mailer will include a request form for a bunch of great free stuff (you can get various goodies including Metro’s excellent Walk There! book) and will include information on the rides and special events that will be part of the campaign.

Daniel Fleischer doesn’t live in St. Johns (he’s from Sabin in Northeast Portland), but he came because he does a lot of business in the area (he’s a real estate agent). Fleischer also likes to ride his mountain bike near the Superfund site below the University of Portland. He was disappointed to realize that, due to a recent purchase of the property by U of P, a chain link fence has gone up and he worries that public access will soon be restricted.

Joseph Lontai (L) learns about
the NPGreenway Trail from
Scott Mizee.

One of many pleasant surprises of the evening was running into Joe Lontai (the guy from Iraq, remember?). Joe is an ROTC instructor at University of Portland and he came to tell us how many U of P students would love to ride downtown, but they’re afraid to do so because the route is dangerous.

The safety (or lack of it) of the north-south connection to downtown from St. Johns was a big topic of conversation. PBOT is focused on creating new, bike-friendly routes, but the bottom line is that N. Interstate and N. Greeley, and the truck traffic from Swan Island (two people mentioned UPS trucks specifically), make the connection uncomfortable for many.

Lots of great information and connections were made tonight. I know there was a lot more I didn’t mention, so feel free to add to this report in the comments below.

Thanks to everyone for making this event work (and special thanks to our events coordinator/volunteer Brad Nelson and of course managing editor of this show Elly Blue).

I can’t wait for our next Get Together…we’ll be coming to Southwest Portland at the end of this month.

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