Talking bikes in Tigard – Get Together event recap

Tigard Get Together-11

Washington County Commissioner
Dick Schouten addresses the
crowd in Tigard last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

If the energy and turnout at our Get Together in Tigard last night is any indication, the West Side is poised for big leaps in biking in the coming years — but it won’t come easy.

About 60 people filled the back room at the Fanno Creek Brew Pub on Main Street in downtown Tigard. The turnout was diverse — from Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen to local bike shop owners, and even a few Portland residents who work in the area.

“I’m so glad you are all here. 10 years ago, there was no attention given to these issues.”
— Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen

Before things got started, I met Mark McGregor. Mark owns a a construction site recycling business (you might remember him as the guy who got the Street of Dreams organizers to include a “Cycle the Dream” day). Mark’s on a mini-crusade to get the developers he works with in rural Washington County to keep bikeway connectivity in mind at the outset of their projects.

Tigard Get Together-9

Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen.

I also met City of Tigard transportation project engineer Mike McCarthy. Mike showed off the brand new Bike Tigard map. 10,000 copies will go to print in the next few days and its completion is an exciting step for biking in Tigard and the West Side.

As per usual, I started things off by introducing the notables in the room. What better way to start than with Craig Dirksen, the Mayor of Tigard! Mayor Dirksen — who also happens to own an electric bike and scooter business — seemed genuinely excited to see such a robust crowd and he kicked things off on an inspiring note:

“I’m so glad you are all here. 10 years ago, there was no attention given to these issues… The challenge has always been getting council and staff to think of our trails, not just as recreation, but as transportation… [Tigard’s work on trails] makes them a logical, practical, convenient alternative to using your car all the time.”

Tigard Get Together-1

Mike McCarthy with City of
Tigard hears feedback on the
new bike map.

Mike McCarthy from City of Tigard told us he was motivated to develop a new Bike Tigard map because, “There are so many better places to ride than 99W.” The new map is gorgeous and includes tons of information besides just the best routes. McCarthy also pointed out that the map is being printed on “ecostone” which is made from calcium carbonite and is super tear and waterproof. For more info on the map and to request one online, check the City website.

Tigard Get Together-10

Dick Schouten wants to make Washington
County better for bikes (and he wants your vote).

Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten was up next. After opening with a half-joking, “I highly recommend you vote for me (he’s running for Washington County Chair)”, Schouten shared several of his transportation priorities. He wants to set up an non-motorized transportation advisory board for Washington County, he wants to hire a consulting firm to come up with a “comprehensive bike plan,” and he wants to make sure Washington County has “off the shelf” plans for bike projects so they can respond quickly to federal funding opportunities.

Schouten also said, “We also need to broaden the demographic of bicycling and we’re not going to do that by telling people they have to ride on 99W.”

We also heard from vehicular homicide bill activist Mary O’Donnell, Westside Transportation Alliance director Karen Frost, the BTA’s new statewide advocate Susan Peithman, TriMet bike planner Colin Maher, and Hal Ballard from the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition.

Karen Frost was looking for volunteers to help her organization install bike racks in downtown Tigard. They’ve got a grant to install 35 racks to retail store owners. Frost hopes the racks start going in by March and the project is expected to be completed by early May of this year. The WTA needs volunteers to engage businesses about this program. To help make it happen, contact program manager Pete Collins at (503) 906-7941 or

Tigard Get Together-14

Hal Ballard of the WashCo BTC.

Hal Ballard spoke up and brought attention to an issue they share with Portland — the closure of trails that provide an important transportation connection are technically closed at night. Even worse, reported Ballard, park rangers have been overtly enforcing the closures on people riding bikes on major trails like the Fanno Creek after hours.

Along with trail closures, Ballard put an exclamation point on one of the key issues facing progress on the West Side — How can progress happen in a place where main bike routes cross through 13 cities, each with their own jurisdictions and governing agencies. Several people shared stories of trying to report issues to various agencies and they would just get the run-around.

Riding on the west side-12

Who ya gonna call? (Ghostbusters!)

Many people in the room were frustrated that a central clearinghouse of information to report things like mud or glass in a trail or bike lane does not exist, which prompted a random offering of phone numbers from all the city officials in the room!

Another issue that bubbled up last night was how to deal with trail user conflicts. I’ve always enjoyed riding on the Fanno Creek Trail, but I’ve never ridden it on a sunny day where you’ve got to dodge frisbees, dogs, and strollers.

Riding on the west side-11

Where the trail ends.

The Fanno Creek Trail (and connections it has to residential and commercial areas) is such an important non-motorized transportation artery for many cities on the West Side. It is a jewel… But it also needs a lot of help. I suggested that what’s needed is a non-profit citizens group to help the cities keep it great. How about a Friends of the Fanno Creek Trail group?

The City of Tigard has a lot going on right now: Projects to improve the Fanno Creek Trail and a major reconstruction of Burnham street are already underway; their Transportation System Plan is being updated; they’re envisioning a new downtown; they’ve got a rail-trail project in the works; and much more.

Thanks to everyone who joined us last night and a special thanks to Marvin, Amber and the crew at the Fanno Creek Brew Pub. I hope the event sparked some of the inspiration and information it will take to kick-start a new transportation future in Tigard and the west side.

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12 years ago

did ms. o’donnell have anything to say about the renewed effort on the vehicular homicide legislation?

Adams Carroll (News Intern)


Ms. O’Donnell’s remarks were brief (she didn’t expect me to even call on her), but she did say she expects the issue to be taken up in 2011.

RyNO Dan
RyNO Dan
12 years ago

Very important, how was the beer ?

(missing a word just before “an electric bike”)

12 years ago

Today, as I was commuting into work, a Tigard Public Works employee was shoveling the muck out from under the Bridge…

12 years ago

I had a great time for the short time I was able to be there (two meetings–one night– busy girl!)… JM, you actually got me sort of in a shot up there of Mayor D! 🙂

I’m very happy to hear that Tigard is really looking at trying to make itself into a better bikable city. And, I was very proud to be a part of the Bike Map team! Now THAT was an interesting project.

If you look at the Bike Map, you can tell not only where the good streets for biking are, but where the potential is for better routes. One thing I’m always on the look-out for is connectivity, and I’m excited to be a part of the group of people trying to make Tigard more for bikes.

RyNo Dan: the beer at Max’s is awesome and made right there. They have a lot of variety, and you can even try a sample of 6. And the food is really good, too! 🙂 And the bike parking is plentiful and great, but last night they ran out of bike parking room! 🙂

Adams Carroll (News Intern)

By the way, the elderly woman in the blue jacket in that last photo is waiting to cross (I think it’s Hall Blvd). The trail just dead ends at that road so she hiked up a dirt embankment and waited — with no crosswalk, light, or anything at all — for a break in traffic so she could continue her ride.

Yes, I know there are signs telling people to walk about a 1/2 mile in each direction to cross at a signal but that’s ridiculous.

This one situation is such a perfect illustration of so many things I don’t even know where to begin!

tigard resident
tigard resident
12 years ago

I found the Mayor of Tigard to be disingenuous to the cyclists at the meeting last night. He crowed about trail studies, how trails are part of the Transportation system for bikes in Tigard. He gushed about the new pedestrian/ bike bridge over Fanno Creek at Hall…Tigard’s own Bridge to Nowhere…how it would connect to Fanno trail south of the library. This trail is a twisty, moss covered, root heaved, foot path that dead ends on Fanno Creek Drive. He seemed to not have a clue that people use their bikes to get from Sherwood to PSU as quickly as possible. To use them as transportation, not on trails, but on roads.

The Mayor spoke of the bad press that the came from a comment that “someone” made about removing bike lanes from 99w, that he wanted to correct that misperception. He did not mention that it was he who made those comments about the bike lane removal.

The Mayor said, “10 years ago, there was no attention given to these issues… The challenge has always been getting council and staff to think of our trails, not just as recreation, but as transportation…”. In Tigard we have a Committee called the Committee for Citizen Involvement. The minutes for these meetings are available on the City of Tigard website. The September 17th, 2008 and the January 21st, 2009 minutes are particularly illuminating of the Mayor’s and City Council’s interest in bikes as viable transportation. From the January minutes-

Basil summarized the Committee’s efforts to create a bike/ped advisory committee. The CCI proposed and Duane prepared information in support of a new regular committee to look at bike/ped issues. City Council was mildly interested, and the idea has been tabled. People have
shown up at CCI meetings, hoping to discuss the formation of such a committee. Basil does not want to continue to try and persuade Council.

The idea was tabled. This was just one year ago, not ten. Under the Mayor’s watch.

In regards to putting bike on trails, how do the pedestrians feel about the increased congestion of bikes on trails? The trails were park paths before they became Tigard’s solution to the bike problem. Bike/ped and bike/bike collisions are increasing on Fanno Creek Trail. Cook Park is experiencing more bike/pedestrian conflict. These are parks first and foremost, the province of children at play and neighbors seeking relief from the pressures of city life.

I wish I could have asked the Mayor how the city’s effort at reducing vehicle miles traveled is going? I wish I could have asked him if he thinks cyclists pay their fair share for the roads? I wish I could have asked him if the City has ever considered car-free events downtown to promote a less car-centric Tigard? But alas, after his presentation, Happy Motoring Mayor Dirksen, filled with ennui, left before fielding ANY questions.

I got home from the meeting and dug out my Tigard Bike Map from 1991. A new map was unvailed last night. 19 years, 2 maps. Alot has come to the forefront in that time, Peak Oil, wars for oil, climate change, increased population, increased traffic congestion, road rage…A map does one no good if you do not know where you want to go. Tigard’s transportation policy has for a long time been to move as many cars as quickly as possible. Until the city starts to promote reducing VMTs, starts to promote car-free transportation and starts to be less pro-business and more pro-citizen, my 1991 map will work as well as the new one.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
12 years ago

My understanding of the signs at Hall telling you to go to the other end of Albertons (not half a mile, more like 400 yards, tops, but still a pain for pedestrians) is that they’re only a suggestion, and one that applies to nonvehicular users only (given that there’s no such sign in the SHS, and no official signage restricting through traffic).

I think that intersection needs a signal similar to what you find at Springwater and Johnson Creek. And I really think it needs to be widened, straightened, and properly signed and striped to reflect it’s high-volume status.

Another problem intersection: The new Westside Trail at Farmington. It’s right-turn-only from both sides with no legal means to go straight through the intersection (since you can’t hang a u-turn at a signal without signage saying otherwise in Oregon, and you’re too close to the intersections to hang a midblock u-turn legally); this also needs to be a signal.

12 years ago

In response to 7) Tigard resident’s comments about our mayor, yes there are omissions and he commented on the positives, but at least me have a mayor that recognizes that bikes exist and it supportive of infrastructure to support cycling. I also appreciate that the Mayor took the time to attend the gathering. I hope you made it to the library in time to comment on the 25 year plan that was on display there. That was the place to leave your comments on any oversights in Tigards transportation plan. If it wasn’t in the plan it won’t get funded. I noticed that most of the problem areas did have project numbers on both the motorized and bicycle plans, so lets hope some of them get funding and some of the gaps are closed.
I’m glad to hear that Jim saw Tigard public works demucking the trail. My understanding is that the ownership of that segment of the trail is up for debate as it connects Tigard and Beaverton and runs under a county road.
Same problem where the trail ends in Beaverton. That’s Beaverton, not Tigard and I don’t know who has ownership of Hall. My understanding is that they don’t want to put another light in that close to two other signaled intersections. That crossing would be a good location for a critical mass type of protest and should involve all users of the trail, not just cyclists.
One of the major points at the meeting in that ownership of trails and roads can be either the local jurisdiction, the county or the state and there’s nothing really connecting them. One of the things Dick mentioned we need is memorandums of understanding to resolve any conflicts.
Thanks Jonathan for organizing the meetup, it was nice to see that much interest in improving cycling conditions on the westside.

12 years ago

Bike route along Hwy 217

Not to loose sight of that discussion from the meeting, I would very much benefit from an efficient way to follow the highway route. I commuted over 150 days by bike last year from the Cedar Mill area to PCC Sylvania Campus, and am up to 12 days already this year.

As things stand, I take significantly different routes morning and afternoon. I don’t have much traffic to worry about at 5 am, so a fairly direct route is feasible. Afternoons tend to draw me to the Fanno Creek trail to avoid traffic (cars, at least). The afternoon ride tends to approach double the time required in the morning for this reason. My afternoon route frequently goes through Tigard aside from the mid-winter months. Yes, the mud pit under the overpass is one big reason for that.