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Bikes figure into local politics this Saturday – UPDATED

Posted by on September 13th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Mayoral candidate Charlie Hales
is organizing a bike convergence
ride to his campaign kickoff
event Saturday.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Two events this Saturday speak to how bikes are a part of politics here in Portland.

Two Oregon state representatives — House rep Michael Dembrow and Senator Jackie Dingfelder — will lead a bike tour of their Northeast Portland districts in their third annual “Bike Town Hall” event. Also on Saturday, candidate for Portland mayor Charlie Hales is organizing a massive “convergence” bike ride to his “Party in the Park” campaign kick-off party.

For Rep. Dembrow, his bike town hall is a “chance to encourage folks to utilize the great bike infrastructure that we have in Portland.” The tour will include stops at the newly completed Cully Blvd. green street project and its state-of-the-art cycle track, various Safe Routes to Schools projects, and “an example of the latest pedestrian and bicycle-friendly intersections.”

State Sen. Jackie Dingfelder

State Rep. Michael Dembrow

The bike town hall meets at 10:00 am at Wilshire Park (NE 33rd and Skidmore). No RSVP is necessary.

Screen grab of Hales’ site.

Charlie Hales is a former Portland politician who’s looking to move back in to City Hall. So far, none of Hales’ competition in the Mayor’s race has come out as the bike-friendly candidate (although it’s somewhat clear that Eileen Brady, Max Brumm and Jefferson Smith are all supportive of bicycling in general).

Hales was out in force on his bike at the recent Sunday Parkways in Southeast Portland and a picture of him from that event is in prominent rotation on his campaign website.

On Saturday, Hales is organizing a kickoff party and there’s a Bike Convergence with five meeting points throughout the city to get there. They’ve even published a handy map.*

[*UPDATE: Please note that Hales has just announced that this event is cancelled due to a death in his wife’s family and a new date is TBD.]

I’m planning on sitting down with each mayoral candidate in the coming days and weeks. Because as we all know, it takes much more than just photo ops and fun rides to determine whether or not someone really “gets it” when it comes to moving bicycling forward.

Get out and chat with your elected officials, and get to know potential future ones, this Saturday and stay tuned for more coverage of local politics.

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  • Andrew Seger September 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Pity Mr Vantucky Streetcar isn’t leading a ride down MLK so we can see where his pet projects made it harder to go N-S in while precluding a cycletrack being built.

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    • David Parsons September 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      I go N-S across that part of East Portland quite a lot, and I find I really have to go out of my way to route myself on MLK and Grand. I suppose if I was coming from North Portland and wanted to shop at a business on Grand, then the easiest (and most annoying) way to get there is to drop down MLK, but if I was going into SE Portland I’d have to drop down to the Esplanade or up to 11th/12th anyway (I suppose you _can_ ride 99e into SE Portland, but if you’ve got the nerve to do _that_ I’d be shocked if the streetcar trackage was any more of an annoyance than the curbs,) and there aren’t any streetcar lines in either of those places.

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      • Andrew Seger September 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm

        I go to the central eastside pretty often and riding on 99 to SE really doesn’t bother me, it’s downhill and if it’s not rush hour there’s plenty of clear lanes for people to pass you. The thing about the streetcar tracks is it doesn’t matter how much experience you have, unless you’re crossing them at exactly 90 degrees there’s a chance you can wipe out. 12th is both uphill and way out of the way for me. Especially to cross sandy and head down seventh. The last streetcar crash I had was making a Copenhagen left from grand onto burnside to head up a few blocks.

        For me the worst part is now it’s impossible to put cycletracks in: those tracks are there for the foreseeable future. I’m also irritated that there are rubber flanges they use in europe that we could use too, only the Charlie Hales of the world cut costs by not bothering with them. (they apparently only last 2-3 years…which, so what? Is our safety worth that little?)

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        • Lance P. September 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm

          I also bike MLK and Grand because I work in the Lloyd and shop/eat/drink on east burn. But…. I actually think it has gotten much better and easier since the tracks have gone in and new lights have been added. I always take the far opposite lane (Left side both ways). And truthfully, having the cycle track on the left side would be great. I have talked to the city about this and it seemed to be taken positively. We will see. Experience and clear guidance is the key. If you don’t know what will hurt you, you can easily get hurt on/in the tracks.

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          • Andrew Seger September 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm

            Thanks for the advice that works much better. I’d love to have a left side cycletrack. Somehow I don’t think Charlie Hales is the one that’s gonna build it, unfortunately.

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    • Jon September 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      oh please, MLK and Grand have always been miserable auto infested traffic-sewers terrible for bikes

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      • NF September 14, 2011 at 7:42 am

        Totally. The disappointing thing is not as much that the streetcar made it worse, but rather, it didn’t make it better. While they’re in there tearing up the road, it’s probably not too hard to extend the curb and build a cycle track.

        All is not lost however, a left-side cycle track might be able to work along MLK/Grand.

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        • k. September 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

          That extra work would have cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions to design and construct. There are many other better alternatives for cycling than MLK and Grand anyway. Not every street has to be a multi-modal paradise. We’ve generally got a pretty good cycing infrastructure in this city and it’s getting better all the time. It’s best to concentrate limited resources where they’ll do the most good.

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  • 9watts September 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm


    perhaps when you interview them you can grill the mayoral candidates on their views on the CRC? Not sure how much they may be able to thwart this megalith, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Perhaps one of them will distinguish him/herself.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm


      and one already has. Jefferson Smith is an outspoken critic of the CRC and has been very public with his opposition.

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    • Chris I September 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm

      The mayor of Portland won’t have much of a say in the CRC. ODOT and Metro have already decided to push forward with the current plan.

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  • Dude September 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    This is typical bike-washing. The candidate appears “bike-friendly” in the campaign, but when they’re put in office partly by their campaign promises and it’s time for leadership on sustainable/active transportation issues, their support on specific issues mysteriously disappears and they cave to the angry, ill-informed, anti-bike mob.

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  • Paul Cone September 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Charlie Hales gave some views on the CRC in a Willamette Week interview in June…


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  • Art Fuldodger September 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Just to avoid confusion, it’s worth noting that the SmartTrips Autumn Adventure Ride also meets at 10:00 on Saturday at Wilshire Park. It’s an apolitical ride.

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  • John Mulvey September 13, 2011 at 4:22 pm


    Aside from being a bike supporter in general terms, I’d like our next Mayor (and councilmembers) to be committed to bringing the whole city along on bike issues.

    The current Mayor is obviously a big believer in liveability (which is great), but I think he’s done a miserable job at selling the liveability agenda to people outside of City Hall. Although it may seem obvious to us, the connection between non-polluting transportation, denser growth patterns and healthier lifestyles is something many people still don’t get.

    It’s very shortsighted for bike advocates (in and outside of the Mayor’s office) to simply roll over neighborhood concerns. There are plenty of normal people who would support bike infrastructure if anyone had ever made an effort to bring them on board with it.

    Take for instance, the PR debacle surrounding the supposed use of sewer funds for bike lanes. That whole mess was handled so badly that it ended up being a black eye for bicycling, even though it really had nothing to do with us.

    This Mayor has a longstanding and well-known habit of rewarding insiders and cutting everyone else out of the pie. While he may be tight with the BTA, his relations with *all* of the people in this City stink. The new Mayor should embrace the same substantive transportation positions but also must be willing to take on being the #1 educator of the community about why these investments are important.

    Sam Adams didn’t invent biking in Portland, but like it or not he’s become the poster child for it. We desperately need someone better to take over that role.


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  • BURR September 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Charlie Hales was the Transportation Commissioner who killed bike lanes on SE Hawthorne Blvd. when he was last on the City Council, and he’s a huge streetcar booster.

    He’s not the pro-bike candidate he wants people to believe he is.

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    • 9watts September 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      say a bit more about that.

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      • BURR September 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

        Hawthorne was designated as a bike route in the 90’s bicycle plan. the BTA developed a proposal for a three lane cross section – one in each direction plus a center turn lane (similar to Hawthorne above SE 39th) – with bike lanes in both directions, that preserved curbside parking.

        After two rounds of a long and somewhat contentious Advisory Committee process, Commissioner Hales was instrumental in PBOT’s decision to side with the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association and leave the current four lane cross section in place on Hawthorne, and not provide bike lanes, even after an alternative proposal was put forth that only called for a bike lane in one direction – the uphill eastbound direction – on a limited stretch of the Boulevard from SE 12th to SE 30th.

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  • Jim Lee September 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    It is easy walking distance for me.

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  • NF September 15, 2011 at 8:21 am

    UPDATE: The Charlie Hales party has been canceled. Hopefully they will reschedule.

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  • old&slow September 16, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    You might ask Charlie Hales, how his home is in Washington State, where he claimed residency for years to avoid Oregon taxes.

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