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The Columbian gets it wrong on biking and safe streets

Posted by on June 11th, 2012 at 10:42 am

“As for Vancouver, we’ll happily stand in the middle and attempt to provide a friendly environment for vehicles both motorized and pedal-powered. Sometimes being No. 1 isn’t all that great.”
— Editorial in The Columbian newspaper

The Columbian newspaper devoted an “In Our View” editorial to bike issues on Sunday. The title, We like bikes but aren’t crazy: Seeing what it takes to be Bike City U.S.A., we’re fully satisfied with local efforts, is what first caught my eye.

Then I read the piece and was disappointed that the largest news outlet in Clark County would take such an inaccurate and dismissive stance on the very important issue of road safety.

The editorial attempts to draw a distinction between the transportation investment priorities at the City of Vancouver versus the City of Portland. In doing so, the paper repeats a false claim (first made by The Oregonian, then repeated during the mayoral campaign by former candidate Eileen Brady) that Portland’s transportation bureau (PBOT) isn’t doing “any major street repaving until at least 2017.” The idea is to contrast this (meant to be shocking) statement with the fact that PBOT is spending $900,000 (gasp!) to create a safe roadway environment on over 13 miles of neighborhood streets.

Unfortunately, the claim about paving projects is simply not true.

For example, PBOT is currently paving two miles of NE Sandy Blvd. The cost of that project, according to PBOT spokesman Dan Anderson, is $4.7 million. That’s $2.35 million per mile to smooth Sandy Blvd — a street that happens to include nothing in the way of dedicated space for bicycles. PBOT is also working on a 5.7 mile project to grind down and repave NE Marine Drive.

The 2012-2013 PBOT budget contains $9 million for paving projects. To be clear once again, Mayor Sam Adams’ budget eliminated “contract paving” which is a specific type of project where a road is completely torn out and rebuilt.

After getting a major fact wrong just to spin their bike argument to their favor, The Columbian then tries to paint the picture that Clark County is “plenty friendly toward a bicycle culture that continues to grow rapidly.” What’s interesting is they make that claim — not on investments in projects or city policies that improve the safety of bicycling — but instead they base it on four feel-good community efforts to promote bicycling.

Then they wrote:

“Yet with that growth comes an inevitable conflict between people riding bikes and people driving cars. Several recent stories also have chronicled tragic results, including the death in late April of 11-year-old Benjamin Fulwiler following a collision with a C-Tran bus…

Some cyclists are quick to share stories of inattentive drivers who demonstrate little awareness while endangering riders, particularly when making turns at intersections. Some drivers are equally quick to share stories of careless bicyclists who ignore the rules of the road, particularly by failing to stop at stop signs…

It is unlikely that such conflict will be abated. But people on both sides of the issue must demonstrate a little understanding while at the same time demonstrating a little consideration. There are various health benefits and numerous economic benefits to hopping on a bike and eschewing a car. On the other hand, riding is not logistically or physically reasonable for everybody.”

Bringing the death of Ben Fulwiler into this really shows a clear lack of sensitivity and understanding by The Columbian. And “unlikely… such conflict will be abated”. Seriously? Tell that to the family and friends of Ben Fulwiler who plan to gather at the intersection where he died for a vigil and rally tomorrow.

If I lived in Vancouver and cared about bicycling, I’d be appalled that my largest local newspaper acknowledges multiple road tragedies and then states, “we’ll happy stand in the middle” when it comes to improving safety.

The last line in their editorial is, “Sometimes being No. 1 isn’t all that great.”

I disagree. If being number one means respecting human life and encouraging a healthy transportation choice, than we should all be clamoring for the top.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Mike June 11, 2012 at 11:18 am

    There is no excuse for mis-stating PBOT’s plans for repaving.

    The article actually states “we’ll happily stand in the middle and attempt to provide a friendly environment for vehicles both motorized and pedal-powered.”
    NOT “”we’ll happy stand in the middle” when it comes to improving safety.”

    When Portland starts a safe routes program, is that considered a “feel-good community effort” or is it cause for celebration?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I’m not really clear on your comment.

      It’s my opinion that this editorial takes the stance that Vancouver (by way of The Columbian) is happy with the status quo… which is very unbalanced and biased toward motor vehicle access at the expense of community health and road safety.

      As for your last comment… Safe Routes to School is a serious PBOT program that spends millions in federal dollars and spends significant PBOT staff and resources to improve the safety of streets around schools and teaches kids how to bike and walk to school (sad that they have to be taught!). Safe Routes is much different than the things The Columbian referenced in their editorial.

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      • Mike June 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

        Didn’t Safe Routes begin at BTA level?

        An anonymous editorial does not necessarily speak for an entire city.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

          Hey Mike,

          No. Safe Routes to School began as a national program in 2005. The BTA is contracted to teach kids to bike to school via a contract with PBOT which gets the money from ODOT via the feds.

          And I agree. An anonymous editorial doesn’t speak for an entire city… But it’s important to correct/respond to what The Columbian says because it’s arguably the loudest/most influential media voice that city has.

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      • 007 June 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

        …and at the expense of Portlanders’ pocket books, i.e. CRC, the widening of I-5 / Rose Quarter and beyond.

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  • peejay June 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Gosh, they make the Oregonian look good.

    Did I just say that?

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    • Andrew K June 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

      No kidding… These days it’s tough to praise the Oregonian but compared to that article they actually seem somewhat balanced.

      Which is more of a sad comenatry of the state of our local newspapers than praise for the Oregonian.

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      • Marid June 11, 2012 at 11:45 am

        I don’t want balance. I want a report of the facts. ‘Balance’ is a code word for ‘half truths’ or just ‘lies’ that Roger Ailes has shoved down our throats for so long that we actually believe it.

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        • Andrew K June 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

          when it comes to editorials there should be multiple sides of an argument presented.

          Granted, every side should be held to a standard of facts when making or supporting their case, as opposed to half truths to push an agenda.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm

            I actually think that unsigned/anonymous editorials like this are one reason why newspapers are having trouble staying relevant these days. The idea that an all-knowing force behind a media outlet can represent the people or even “their readers” is very outdated.

            And I agree that more sides should be shared. It’s typical to write garbage in an editorial and then a day or few later publish other perspectives buried as letters to the editor.

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            • JRB June 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

              Jonathan, I am not sure that the publishers of the Columbian are asserting that they speak for their community when they publish editorials. The do so becasue stating an opinion stokes discussion and controversey, which is what news media need to succeed. This editorial has spawned 63 comments on bikeportland in the matter of a few hours so I think they were successful in achieving their goal.

              One of the justifications for our cherished freedoms of speech and the press is that we create a marketplace of ideas and opinions where the best eventually rise to the top through debate and discourse. So I agree with Jonathan that when media outlets publish this kind of drivel, it should not go unchallenged.

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm

                JRB… If their goal is to create a city that is less vibrant, where people are less healthy and have fewer mobility options, than they absolutely did not succeed. If their goal is to get a lot of comments and pageviews than perhaps they did.

                I cannot stand the defense of, “Oh, we were just starting a conversation.”

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              • JRB June 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm

                Jonathan, as I am sure you are no doubt aware, newspapers have no obligation to act in the public interest. In this respect, they are no different than McDonald’s, Chevron, or my wife’s handmade soap business. Please forgive me if I am reading too much into your postings, but you seem outraged that the Columbian would ever publish something that you think is so detrimental to the community. I am outraged by what they said, not that they published something I disagree with. I am a bit of purist when it comes to the First Amendment, along the lines of “I may hate what you say,but I will zealously defend your right to say it.” I think you did an excellent job in pointing out the inaccuracies, bias and and faulty conclusions in the editorial. My point was more about the nature of editorials and hence what weight, if any, they should be given.

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              • wsbob June 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

                “…I am not sure that the publishers of the Columbian are asserting that they speak for their community when they publish editorials. …” JRB

                The publishers, but probably more specifically for the piece in question, the Editorial Board, since that’s the page the piece very prominently appeared on…online version.

                I think the big guys at the paper most likely do consider themselves, through their opinion pieces, to be speaking, maybe not for their community, but for what they perceive and/or hope to be the values of their community. I wonder if the The Columbian’s Editorial Board members and the publishers have occasion to think of themselves, contrasted with the concept of pillars of the community. If so, that would be another reason they might feel compelled to speak out strongly and controversially about significant issues affecting their community.

                How many papers simply report…’the news’…and don’t venture into the opinion stuff? I don’t mind when papers do opinion pieces. Those kind of pieces are interesting and offer insight into the personalities and values behind the paper. What’s aggravating, potentially confusing, even dangerous, is when papers mix and blend reporting with opinion or editorializing, so that many of the people reading aren’t easily able to discern the differences between truth and personal opinion expressed.

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            • 007 June 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm

              I thought editorials reflected the opinion of a newspaper’s editorial board, thus no signature necessary.

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            • wsbob June 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm

              “…And I agree that more sides should be shared. It’s typical to write garbage in an editorial and then a day or few later publish other perspectives buried as letters to the editor. …” Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

              Unless I’m mistaken, Maus is implying that The Columbian Editorial Board’s opinion…repeat: ‘opinion’, not reporting, because it was posted on the paper’s editorial page…that’s the subject of this story, is: “…garbage…”. Doesn’t sound like a very nice reaction to people representing a news source in expressing their views, but bikeportland’s editor-publisher, someone that seems to work at being a fair minded person, perhaps doesn’t mind if it should turn out that TC Editorial Board regards his opinions as garbage too. What a fine bunch.

              When papers do Opinion pieces, they’re entitled to write about anything they choose, say whatever they want within various guidelines, whatever those happen to be for the respective paper. What they say doesn’t necessarily have to be factual or accurate, because they’re not reporting the news, but expressing…an opinion.

              Also, using recollections of The Oregonian’s practice as an example, not all letters in response to paper opinions are resigned to a minimum of inches in the letters section. Regularly, the O seems to run ‘guest opinion’ pieces which take up a sizeable portion of the lower section of the right page.

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  • dmc June 11, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I live in Vancouver and The Columbian is widely seen as garbage. The few people that still order it are elderly and have been customers since pre-internet. I look for it to fail completely in the next 5-10 years.

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    • peejay June 11, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      If it makes two years, I’ll be surprised.

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    • Mike Fish June 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      Yeah, rapidly declining revenue forced them out of their fancy building. Things aren’t looking good for them. Or the Oregonian, really!

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    • John Lascurettes June 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      I live in Vancouver and The Columbian is widely seen as garbage. The few people that still order it are elderly and have been customers since pre-internet. I look for it to fail completely in the next 5-10 years.

      Sounds an awful lot like the Oregonian. Actually, like most U.S. Papers.

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  • matthew vilhauer June 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

    the columbian has always been a great paper… for wrapping fish.

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    • rwallis June 11, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      Mat: My bet is that you would not insult one of your steelhead by exposing it to the Columbian.

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      • matthew vilhauer June 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm

        so true bob, so true. i’ll have to swing by sometime, we should catch up!

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  • Andrew K June 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

    “Yet with that growth comes an inevitable conflict between people riding bikes and people driving cars.”

    This is the line that angers me the most. Why is conflict inevitable?? Could it be because our political leaders and newspapers are stoking that fire?

    On a somewhat related note, has anyone seen the article in Bicycle Times about improving bike infrastructure in Bogota? There are some interesting points made and it’s worth a read.

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  • oskarbaanks June 11, 2012 at 11:45 am

    @ Mike, apples and oranges Sir.
    What an embarrassing thing to publish. I will be writing the Columbian in honor of an 11 year old who cannot speak for himself at this time. Drivel, pure unadulterated drivel.

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  • Champs June 11, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Last I read, PBOT spends about 5.5% of its capital budget on non-motor traffic. I’m just guessing, but maintenance is probably an even smaller share.

    If Vancouver wants to straddle the middle ground, I suppose their streets can be as much as 2.75% better. What WILL they do with those 20 seconds they spare on shopping runs to Portland?

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  • Chris I June 11, 2012 at 11:57 am

    “We like bikes but aren’t crazy” means: “We dust off our bikes and hit the bike paths on the weekends.”

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    • A.K. June 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      And only in the summer.

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      • 007 June 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        And only to the nearest chain restaurant, or Walmart.

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    • Paul Souders June 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      “We like bikes” always sounds like “some of my best friends are ___ [gay, black, Jewish, etc.]”

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      • Lady L June 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

        So true Paul, so true. The Columbian has no clue.

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    • wsbob June 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

      I think “We like bikes but aren’t crazy” was saying indirectly, that The Columbian’s editorial board doesn’t think it’s crazy, but that Portland across the river is crazy for spending money on all that bike stuff…in the board’s opinion, trying to be a top-dog #1 sort of thing.

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  • Rol June 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I actually want to praise the Columbian editorial. It comes right out and says several things:
    – bike use is growing
    – Vancouver’s “bike-friendliness” or what-have-you is mediocre (and Bicycling magazine agrees… Vancouver isn’t even on the list… though for the record Bicycling has a very high BS ratio in general)
    – inter-mode conflict is inevitable (in Vancouver’s mediocre network)
    – in such conflicts, cars kill people including kids

    In addition they implicitly admit two things:
    – The fact that they devoted an editorial to bikes indicates that they recognize bikes are here and aren’t going away.
    – Taking the stance of “we meant to do that” is what people do to save face when they realize they’re in the wrong. It’s as close as you can get to a confession without actually offering one.

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    • Chris I June 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Or you can interpret it as:
      – Vancouver doesn’t spend money on silly bike infrastructure, but we still have lots of cyclists!
      – That kid that died? Oh ya, conflicts are inevitable.
      – Portland’s roads are falling apart because they waste money on silly bike infrastructure.

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      • Rol June 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

        Yeah, otherwise known as the obvious interpretation.

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      • Rol June 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        I’m asking you to look a layer deeper. This thing is practically a map of somebody’s unconscious mind with all its bugaboos (like the dead 11-year-old) that their conscious mind is trying desperately to resolve. Nobody spends that much energy defending something because they think it’s RIGHT.

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  • GlowBoy June 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    “Some cyclists are quick to share stories of inattentive drivers who demonstrate little awareness while endangering riders, particularly when making turns at intersections. Some drivers are equally quick to share stories of careless bicyclists who ignore the rules of the road, particularly by failing to stop at stop signs…”

    And when careless bicyclists ignore the rules of the road, how often does that put the lives of motorists in danger?

    Balance, my ass. Edward R. Murrow was right that there aren’t two equal sides to every story. Echoing Marid’s comment above, “balance” is code for pushing an agenda while pretending you aren’t.

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    • woogie June 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      But how often does a cyclist ignoring the rules of the road put their own life in danger???

      And even though not at fault the driver involved is going to go through some level of guilt and grief through no fault of their own.

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      • Oliver June 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

        And I say to you, if 100 cyclists run 1000 stop signs it does not excuse one inattentive driver driving over the back of a cyclist while distracted, driving illegally, too fast for the conditions, or failure to yield.

        The evidence is clear, most motor vehicle crashes are the fault of the motorist. Not due to so called “offensive” behavior like failure to obey tcd’s on the part of cyclists.

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        • Rol June 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

          Holy cow, thanks for stating a subtlety I somehow managed to miss for 25 years: It doesn’t matter how many other people broke the law, it’s still the law. I can just see them over at the DA’s office: “Hey guys, some people broke the laws, that proves this ‘rule of law’ crap is useless, let’s just throw in the towel and have total anarchy! Get pissed! Destroy!”

          Next week I think I’ll just steal all my food for the week. At my court date I’ll tell the judge “Why should I not steal food, when people are doing all sorts of illegal things all the time? The prisons are full of plenty of proven felons.” Wish me luck!

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      • Skwirl June 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        “Tut, tut, dead bicyclist. How dare you violate my right to not ever feel guilty by dying after hitting the vehicle that I was coincidentally operating!”

        This cliche is so common and asinine. 100% fault in an accident is crazy rare. Following up on Rol’s comment about the subconscious, what does it say when one assumes that 1) situations that are out of your control in operating a car are common and perhaps inevitable 2) hypothetical scenarios cause oneself a lot of fretting and guilt, enough to create fantasy scenarios where guilt is totally assigned elsewhere.

        #1 shows underlying anxiety. #2 is just real guilt subsumed into a more managable idea. Totally legit emotions considering that cars are the #1 cause of accidental death. Luckily, the guilt is totally avoidable by minimizing unnecesary driving and driving to the highest standards of defensive driving and safety awareness. Support mass transit so that individuals with disabilities have freedom of movement as well.

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  • Tommy B. June 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    The revealing part to me is that, of all the efforts they tout as showing support for cycling, none are related to infrastructure improvements. You can create all the safe cyclists and drivers you want, in the end it will be a failure if the infrastructure isn’t designed and built to match it.

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  • gumby June 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    We gripe about conditions in Portland, but when you cross the river you realize how good we have it. I used to ride to work in Vancouver every day and every day, I would have some dipstick in a pickup “educating” me on the rules of the road.

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  • gl. June 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    i don’t understand why sandy won’t be getting bike lanes after the repaving. i thought it was a requirement after a reconstruction/resurfacing project. it would be really nice, since it’s one of the few straight-aways in the area.

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    • spare_wheel June 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      sandy is slated to get a 4 lane cycle track in the 2030 bike plan. painting a bike lane would be a waste of money, needlessly irritate motorists, and be unfair to grandmas and 7 year olds.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        that’s pretty funny spare_wheel… You write that as if just because it’s in the 2030 Bike Plan we can sit back and wait for it to happen. Truth is, the fact that it’s in the plan is no reason to not demand that it has bike access now. We should have put bike lanes in during this current paving project… I can’t give you a good answer yet as to why that didn’t happen but I do know it’s not something that PBOT would just do on their own accord without hearing loud and clear that it’s something the community wants.

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        • oskarbaanks June 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm

          Mr M. is correct. No time like the present. What argument is there for it not being implemented while the street is tore bare?

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          • Chris I June 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

            I’m pretty irritated with the Sandy project. Not only did they not add bike facilities, but they rebuilt countless islands and curbs without adding pedestrian safety features. Near my house, they knocked down several islands and rebuilt them in the exact same position and height. It doesn’t make any sense…

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        • Suburban June 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm

          The bike access on Sandy is as good as most places in Vancouver.

          I would trade all the bike lanes and green paint and flashing lights for a state law which protected non-motorized road and cross walk users under threat of very very very serious penalties. Put the paint between your ears!

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          • LESTER June 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

            Sandy reminds me of St. Johns Road in Vancouver, since St. Johns is also generally cutting diagonally across town.

            St. Johns Road is far nicer to bicycle on, however. Most of Vancouver seems pretty easy to ride, IMO. You just have to research what roads to ride on. Anyone can ride MLK and Sandy and say that bike riding in Portland REALLY sucks, but they’d be wrong for the most part because of the roads they rode on.

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        • dwainedibbly June 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm

          You have it backwards, Jonathan. The reason to demand it is BECAUSE it’s in the 2030 Plan.

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        • spare_wheel June 12, 2012 at 8:38 am

          i think there are answers:

          1. the pbot and some influential activists have shown outright hostility to the idea of cyclists using major arterials.
          2. “paint” is viewed as an inferior approach that depletes funds available for separated infrastructure.

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      • gl. June 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

        i’ll be really surprised if everything in there 2030 plan happens. regardless, i thought the oregon bicycle bill required bike facilities on roads repaved or resurfaced?

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  • Brooke Radding June 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    What the article said to me was, “In Vancouver, we are bike lovers, not bike riders.”

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  • Jerry June 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Jonathan, Well said. Thank you!

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  • El Biciclero June 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    In addition, there have been several news items lately about continuing efforts in Clark County to cater to and promote bicycle riding. Among them:

    • The nonprofit group Bike Clark County is helping to create responsible young bicyclists by conducting bike-safety sessions at middle schools through the schools’ physical education programs.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall during these sessions. I wonder what “safety” points are drilled into these responsible young bicyclists. I suppose there is a certain necessary age-appropriate set of instructions, but my guess is that these kids are getting educated as to the extreme danger of riding bikes, and the inferior nature and priority of bicycle riders. More of how to stay out of the way than operate safely. But that’s cynical me.

    • More than 1,000 cyclists participated in the 28th annual Ride Around Clark County last month, taking loops of 18, 34, 65, or 100 miles through the county.

    Recreational stuff is great, but it doesn’t promote bikes as anything other than exercise machines, and doesn’t do much to improve safety through town.

    • The Human Services Council is promoting a Bike to Work Project, providing training, bicycles, and accessories to low-income residents who need transportation to compete for and attend jobs.

    This sounds like a worthwhile project; introduce folks to bike transport at low/no cost, and give them greater economic opportunity as a result. But will there be safe routes to those hoped-for jobs?

    • And Lori Salierno, CEO and founder of Celebrate Life International, a mentoring program for at-risk youth, is embarking on a 3,000-mile ride through 13 states to raise money and awareness for programs.

    Sounds like fun and a good cause, but it doesn’t sound like much of this ride takes place in Clark County; how does this make Clark County more bike friendly again?

    …And don’t get me started on “cater to”…

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    • Lady L June 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      El Biciclero: I volunteer with the Bicycle Safety Program in Clark County and am a proud member of Bike Clark County. Our safety program content is from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. We encourage kids to get outside and ride bikes. Bike Clark County was started as an organization because we do not have an advocacy group that promotes cycling here.

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      • El Biciclero June 12, 2012 at 9:59 am

        Lady L–

        I’m on a roll. My apologies for suggesting that BCC’s student bike safety training was anything other than top-notch. You did answer my question as to curriculum and content–thank you. Again, sorry for any negative intimations, and thank you for volunteering to help kids learn how to ride safely.

        Bad Cynical Me!

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        • Lady L June 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm

          El Biciclero: No harm, no foul. If I didn’t have the experience with BCC, I would think exactly the same thing you did. Bike Clark County was formed because the BTA told us they focus on Oregon and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (BAW) focuses on the Puget Sound, so we were left in a hole, now we are working with the BAW on promoting cycling here. It is not easy that’s for sure; however, I’ve been helping teach bicycle safety at an elementary class this week and it’s been the highlight of my week. BTW, people of “Vantucky” (state of mind, right) criticize the BCC as an organization that “indoctrinates kids into the bicycle culture.” Funny?! They think the police should teach bicycle safety in the schools, as if they don’t have enough to do these days with tight budgets. Funny we get this message from the “small government” people. It’s all good, but I wanted you all to know that BCC is about promoting bicycling.

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          • El Biciclero June 13, 2012 at 9:54 am

            “indoctrinates kids into the bicycle culture.”

            Funny indeed. These citizens would rather that kids get indoctrinated into the “car culture” as they, themselves were?

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  • MIke June 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    $9 million for repaving doesn’t sound like alot when you consider how crappy our roads are. I would rather have smooth roads than half ass bike lanes. Or you could have crappy, pot holed roads and half ass bike lanes. I never understood the negative reaction to spending money on fixing the conditon of roads.

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    • kgb June 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

      900,000 doesn’t sound like much either.

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    • 007 June 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      You haven’t seen pot holes if you think your roads are bad. LOL.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson June 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    What’s wrong with potholes? They are God’s own speed bumps…random and free!

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    • are June 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      they can sometimes surprise you at night

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  • dennis June 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    As a resident, of the city of Vancouver, I’d like to clear a few things up:

    Vancouver’s efforts at supporting bicycling are token only. Merely a little paint here and there. By no means is there a comprehensive plan in place to make human transportation actually work.

    Yes, there is a HUGE increase in cycling in Vancouver. It’s mostly because of the extremely poor employment options, and high fuel prices. I see new people, with rusty supermarket mountain bikes riding around, when I never had seen them before. The trend is largely poverty-driven. Vancouer’s also got the worst case of “motorist entitlement” that I’ve personally ever experienced. The bike lanes mean nothing, as motorists drive in them, park in them, and wear them off fast. Because of the untenable level of sprawl, C-tran is pretty much limited to people that don’t have to get anyplace in any reasonable amount of time.

    The Columbian, is a symptom. Not the disease. The disease is the suburban dream turned nightmare.

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    • Lady L June 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      Dennis, You hit the nail on the head. The problem here is suburban sprawl. And yes, the drivers here have a terrible case of entitlement attitude. Part of that problem comes from the roads being too wide. I ride my bike to work at least 4 days a week and see all kinds of horrible behavior from drivers. Yes, poverty does drive a lot of the cycling here and we also have a growing interest in cycling as active transportation. We have a long way to go that’s for sure.

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      • Kristi Finney-Dunn June 12, 2012 at 12:45 am

        I live in Vancouver but because my son was killed in Portland most (all?) of my volunteer work and activism has been in Oregon. It sounds like you might be able to give me some info about options in Vancouver. I’d love to do something in a state where I actually have some rights…

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        • Lady L June 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm

          Kristi: Check out our website:
          We have a lot of volunteer opportunities in Vancouver. We teach bicycle and pedestrian safety classes and we also provide bike parking at events like “Six to Sunset” and the “Recycled Arts Fair.”

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    • Chris I June 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      Vancouver: Poverty-induced cycling capital of the suburban NW!

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  • Fred Lifton June 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Yep, I used to commute from NE PDX to east Vancouver. The Vancouver section was the part I feared the most. The drivers were absolutely the worst. I was constantly buzzed and honked at. There was no appreciable infrastructure of any kind (unless you count the “bike-friendly city” sign), no bike lanes, no signage, no nothing. Most of the roads I had to ride were multi-lane, high-speed arterials. A co-worker of mine was hit while commuting there and I had too many close calls to count. It is suburban hell, a living example of how a city devoid of urban planning becomes unlivable for many.

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    • LESTER June 13, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Evergreen/Fourth Plain/Mill Plain are all pretty nasty. Take McLoughlin – Mill Plain – McGillvary and it’s pretty breezy, IME.

      Farther north? 18th – Burton. 78th – Padden.

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  • dwainedibbly June 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    How can you expect anything but this from the Vantucky branch of the Oregonian? (With apologies to any Vancouverites who hate the editorial as much as I do. Vantucky is a state of mind, not a place.)

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    • wsbob June 11, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      How can you expect anything but this from the Vantucky branch of the Oregonian? (With apologies to any Vancouverites who hate the editorial as much as I do. Vantucky is a state of mind, not a place.)
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      There you go… . I knew someone would eventually crack that joke. I already did, but too many other things apparently didn’t make it across the editor’s desk. You said it well though: “Vantucky is a state of mind, not a place.”.

      I think The Columbian would have have had a lot more positive feedback if it had cut out the snarky remarks and simply said something like: ‘In Our View: Vancouver shouldn’t get involved in an arbitrary race with big cities to provide the biggest and best in bike riding.’.

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  • Dave June 12, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Not at all a surprise from the “Tea Party Times.” We let our subscription lapse some months ago. The forward thinking geniuses at the Columbian several months ago did a little magazine insert called “State of the County” or something similar. The page in it dedicated to transportation had a two-word headline without any apparent irony or embarassment; it just said “Cars Rule” in large type. In the year 2012, this takes either no intelligence nor any capacity for shame. If the editors of this birdcage liner really think that a county’s dedication to private automobile use is something to celebrate, they are not a paper that deserves any support.

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    • Lady L June 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Dave: we are on the same page. It is a horrible newspaper. They just take certain items that are hot button topics like cycling and the CRC and try to run as many negative stories as possible. I think information is very important in a free society and, unfortunately, the “Tea Party Times” provides none of that.

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  • Chris I June 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Maybe you Vancouver bike experts can help me out here?
    My wife may be taking a job located near Vancouver Mall:,+WA+98662&hl=en&ll=45.659242,-122.575943&spn=0.007574,0.014763&sll=45.661327,-122.575943&sspn=0.007573,0.014763&gl=us&hnear=9414+NE+Fourth+Plain+Rd,+Vancouver,+Washington+98662&t=m&z=16&iwloc=A

    What would be the best way to bike or Transit/bike here from the Hollywood Neighborhood. It looks like the bike network completely fails north of the I-205 bridge if you try to parallel I-205. Riding on 4th plain looks to be dangerous in that area.

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    • Dave June 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      I can’t help with transit advice, but here’s a cycling route:
      At Ellsworth Ave. (the end of the frontage road that the 205 path puts you out on) turn RIGHT–Uphill, over the SR14 freeway.
      LEFT: At SE10th St. at the top of the hill
      RIGHT: On 97th Ave.
      LEFT: Burton Road
      RIGHT: 86th Ave. 86th ends at 4th Plain Road. A right turn would take you to the location. Sorry, I don’t have a current Vancouver map on hand even though I live here–there are small-street alternatives to Burton Road. All of these streets are arterials, none are horribly busy if you’re used to cycling in Portland, and 10th and Burton both have reasonable bike lanes. I will say one thing in defense of Vancouver–we have great pavement especially compared to Portland and Seattle.
      If your wife rides a road bike, the fattest tires that will fit in the frame and fork are still a great idea.

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      • Chris I June 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        Is it really possible to bike on 4th Plain? It looks like there are 4 (i’m assuming high speed) traffic lanes, no shoulder, and an intermittent sidewalk?

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      • Paul in the 'couve June 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        I ride this route some. The stretch of 4th Plain Blvd between 86th and Thurston way is not very problematic at all. There are no facilities for cyclists and it is a 4 lane road with left turn and high speeds so it is nothing very inviting, but the traffic volume on that stretch isn’t that high even at peak hours and it is a short stretch amidst multiple traffic lights that are seldom timed to let traffic through. I just merge straight into the left turn lane to set up the left at Thurston. Thurston has bike lanes but the interchange at Hwy 500 is a place to keep your eyes wide open and watch for inattentive drivers, right hooks etc. I would then ride through the Mall loop. I would not recommend riding Fourth Plain all the way across the 205 interchange as that is higher speed with merging traffic coming from both sides on the cloverleaf style interchange.

        I ride to the Mall area without concern when I need to, but I’d take Thursto and again I watch all cars closely at the interchange with Hwy 500 and Thurston. I also assert the right lane of travel once I go under Hwy 500, the bike lane ends anyway and the right turners into the mall can’t be trusted. Once past the first mall entrance no problem.

        Someone may be able to describe another option is to go RIGHT on Burton / 18th Street from 97th Ave and then left on 102nd Ave. I see many cyclists turning there and I assume they are getting through the Golf Course and out at Oak View Dr. and Fourth Plain.

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  • Dave June 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    It’s not wonderful, but the traffic volume is not as high as, say, parts of Mill Plain. It might be possible for your wife to access her workplace through the Vancouver Mall area–in my mind even worse. Watch out for large pickup trucks with chrome “idiot fish” on the tailgates.

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  • Aneurin June 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Jonathan — thanks for highlighting this egregious op-ed piece. While there are some pretty decent reporters with The Columbian, the editorials are full of nonsense. It’s all part of the paper’s agenda to appeal to the right-wing portions of Clark County.

    While “Vantucky” has its share of poor bicycling facilities, there have been areas of improvement when the economic times were better. Not everything is sprawl as significant portions of Downtown and West Vancouver were built decades ago. East Vancouver does indeed have sprawl and poor bicycling facilities, but the quieter portions of West Vancouver neighborhoods are completely safe.

    Its good to see a thread like this which represents our commonality of interests between both sides of the river. Too many threads recently have seemed to devolve into a “Vancouver sucks” theme. If the bicycling community is divided simply due to a river boundary, than nothing will change.

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