Special gravel coverage

City Club research report strongly endorses bicycling

Posted by on May 29th, 2013 at 6:00 am

Read the report here.

After a year of research, a 12-member committee of the Portland City Club released a report today titled, No Turning Back: A City Club Report on Bicycle Transportation in Portland. The 83-page report tackled nearly every major bicycling issue that Portland faces: From quantifying just how many people are riding, to making recommendations on how to raise money to pay for bike-specific infrastructure. They also looked into many of the negative narratives around bicycling to determine if they had any merit (spoiler alert: they don’t).

And, just as I suspected when I shared an update on this project earlier this month, the report is extremely favorable to bicycling. Here’s an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

Your committee believes bicycling is an affordable and efficient means of transportation that is essential to continued growth in the local economy and overall quality of life for Portland residents.

In short, your committee finds that the right question is no longer “Should we promote bicycle use?” It is: “How should we structure our transportation system to optimize choice, efficiency and safety for all modes of transportation, including bicycling?”

To reach this conclusion the committee performed a rigorous analysis of many facets of bicycling in Portland. They also interviewed 28 people including representatives from law enforcement, elected office, neighborhood associations, private business owners, and more.

The one aspect of bicycling the report says needs improving is communication between PBOT and neighborhoods, stakeholders, and others that are impacted by bike-related projects. The report detailed the N Williams Avenue project as a prime example of PBOT’s shortcomings in the communications department. “This lack of due diligence,” reads the report, “has made some projects needlessly controversial or vulnerable to delay and cost overruns.” Other projects listed as examples were the SE Holgate buffered bike lanes and the proposed (then shelved) cycle track on SW 12th Ave.

Related to this issue, the report also found concern with the demographic makeup of bicycle use in Portland: “The current perception (justified or unjustified) of bicycling as benefiting an already privileged segment of the population cannot be ignored.” To improve demographics, one of City Club’s recommendations is to expand the membership of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee to include “Various communities of color, youth-advocate organizations, and neighborhood organizations, as well as the Portland Business Alliance, The Portland Freight Committee, Portland Public Schools, and other relevant stakeholders.”

In all of City Club’s research, they report finding no organized opposition to bicycle use in the city. However, they did identify a “latent, but pervasive, uneasiness among some residents that expanding bicycling opportunities will come at the expense of other modes of transportation.” They also noted much of anxiety that comes when people drive cars, isn’t based on an anti-bike grudge, rather it’s simply a fear of colliding with someone on a bike.

Are bikes bad for business? The report tackled that thorny issue with, “There is little evidence to substantiate this claim… Bicycling is not a detriment to local retail/business and may be positive in some areas or for some businesses.”

But don’t “bike projects” take money away from paving? The report found that the “complicated relationship” between road users is “exacerbated by local media stories depicting bicyclists and motorists perpetually at odds with one another.”

Accounts on television, online articles, and The Oregonian, focus on points of conflict (real or perceived). An Oregonian investigation on Portland’s seeming inability to fill potholes in city streets and maintain a basic level of road quality implies bicycle funding (as well as funding for transit projects, such as the Portland-Milwaukie light rail line), is to blame for this failure.

The reality of transportation funding in Portland, as well as in every other city, is significantly more complicated, but suffice it to say, this type of reporting presents a false dichotomy between automobile and bicycle transportation modes. Nevertheless, this perception has proven to be widespread.

The report even tackled the perpetual debate over who violates traffic laws most frequently. The committee was, “unable to procure any third-party data, beyond anecdotal observations, to support the perception that persons on bicycles violated traffic laws more frequently than motor vehicle operators.” When they asked a Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division officer about this during an interview, the officer said the bureau prioritizes enforcement of motor vehicle laws, “since those violations are potentially more dangerous.”

I must say, the insights from this committee are rather spot-on. Not only does the report debunk many myths, it also has an urgent tone that calls for more physically separated bikeways and improved mobility for people who use bikes. “It is time for the design and planning for bike infrastructure to move from opportunistic to strategic.”

The recommendation sure to get the most attention is the City Club’s proposal that the State should enact a 4% excise tax on new bicycle sales. The research committee would then use the revenue generated to pay for the creation of bike safety materials, bike safety programs at schools and community centers, and the purchase of more automated bicycle counters.

The excise tax idea isn’t new to many Portlanders. In fact, it has been supported in the past by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Metro, and even PBOT’s bicycle coordinator.

Two members of the committee issued a minority report. The authors of that report (which is included in the appendix of the main report) apparently disagreed with the majority over the funding issue. They feel strongly that all bicycle owners over the age of 21 should pay $30 a year for a license and that all bicycles should be registered. The majority strongly disagreed: “At this juncture, the mandatory licensing of bicyclists is unenforceable, unnecessary, and punitive, and that the costs associated with such a program would substantially outweigh the benefits.”

I highly recommend keeping this report on file. It’s got thorough analyses of many key issues, it is fully cited with studies and statistics to back up all its claims, and it has a great summary of charts and other educational resources. The committee even put together a detailed analysis of Hawthorne Bridge bike trips using weather data along with new data provided by the automated counter.

Now the question is: What impact (if any) will this report have in moving bicycling forward? I know many of you (as I am) are tired of proclamations, plans, and reports; but this one is different. City Club is a respected voice in Portland with a membership of very active, connected, and powerful people. Assuming their members vote to adopt the report (it would be quite scandalous if they don’t), this should only add to the strong momentum for bicycling in Portland right now. After years of stagnation thanks to communication mishaps, unfair media coverage, complacency and unfortunate politics, bicycling is set to come roaring back in Portland and this report is just the latest sign of its resurgence.

I would love to know what others think about the report and whether or not it will have an impact on local policy and decision making.

City Club will present the report on May 31st with a special “Bicycling in Portland” edition of their Friday Forum event. City Club members will vote on the report June 7th. If it’s supported by a majority of members, the findings will become the official position of the City Club of Portland.

No Turning Back: A City Club Report on Bicycle Transportation in Portland

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  • Andrew K May 29, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Of course the Oregonian cherry picked one aspect of this report and used it for their headline today, “Portland cyclers should pay tax on bike purchases, new City Club report recommends.”


    Overall the report is an interesting read, even if I don’t agree with all of their recommendations. For example, I would not be in favor of a 4% tax on bike sales if the money just gets funneled into research to find answers to things we already know. But whatever, I can’t expect an 83 page policy position paper to be 100% aligned with my way of thinking.

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    • Eric May 29, 2013 at 8:10 am

      Is it too much to say that the Oregonian is the Fox News of the bicycle world? Because that’s kind of how I feel about it.

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      • Andrew K May 29, 2013 at 8:24 am

        Nope, I would say that is a pretty accurate statement.

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        • gutterbunny May 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm

          Nope, it’s protecting thier advertisers and thus themselves. The Oregonian has got a vested interest in bashing bicycles, take any edition and cut out all the car ads incuding the classified (and of course the service shops, tire shops, oil change places). You’ll have a substantial amount of the paper removed.

          I mean think about, Autos gets its own section weekly. They will always bash bikes because quite frankly they have to.

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          • q`Tzal June 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

            Money, it’s a crime
            Share it fairly
            But don’t take a slice of my pie

            Money, so they say
            Is the root of all evil

            But if you ask for a rise
            It’s no surprise that they’re
            Giving none away

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      • was carless May 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        Ironically, Joseph Rose is a self-identified bicycle commuter! Ah well… thats the O’s policy, to stir up FUD and get hot-headed readers addicted to their comments (and pageviews for ad revenue).

        Even the report identified the Oregonian as a source of “local media stories depicting bicyclists and motorists perpetually at odds with one another.”

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        • Help May 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm

          “Even the report identified the Oregonian as a source of “local media stories depicting bicyclists and motorists perpetually at odds with one another.””

          This website and it’s readers don’t exactly portray a kumbaya approach between cyclists and motorists. How many anti-car, anti-parking, and anti-highway screeds and comments are here?

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          • yoyossarian May 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

            “How many anti-car, anti-parking, and anti-highway screeds and comments are here?”

            Want to clarify what you mean here? I haven’t owned a car in ten years and use a bike as my main form of transportation, but I ride in or rent cars regularly, enjoy it when I find a parking spot near where I’m driving to, and think that having an interstate highway system connecting large cities is a good piece of infrastructure to have.

            If you believe that thinking cars shouldn’t always be prioritized, that parking isn’t always the best use of the public right of way, and that highways shouldn’t be built to help people hop around town, makes someone anti-car/parking/highway….well, I’d encourage you to try to not see things in such black and white terms.

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            • yoyossarian May 29, 2013 at 4:51 pm

              Ok, so our tally is up to 1…

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          • lyle w. May 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm

            There’s a vast difference between a lot of the bike hatred out there, and ‘car hatred’, if you can call it that.

            Your typical enraged bike hater will often speak in terms that make it clear they don’t think bikes have any right to the road whatsoever, are a completely illegitimate form of transportation, and are holding us back as a society by simply existing. Adults playing on kids toys, etc. This approach very rarely differentiates between safe, responsible, legal bike riders and people who they see as ‘scofflaws’. One in the same. The entirety of the biking population falls under the category of a menace to them, and, again, eliminating us from the roads is the one and only goal. And they’re uneducated, too, to top it off– being as how my anecdotal experience from riding for twenty years is that every single time I’ve been harassed or threatened while on my bike, it has been from someone who just flat doesn’t know the correct ‘right-of-way’ law they’re screaming about, etc. Just flat out has no idea what they think they’re trying to lecture me about, and yet can’t restrain their insane righteous indignation.

            Car hatred (at least from what I’ve seen from the bicyclist perspective) comes from a position of wanting to be on an equal footing while acknowledging that there are a lot of threats out there, and they mostly come from drivers who are not respecting our legal right to the road. If you care to show us where this big block of people are who sincerely stating that we should completely eliminate cars/trucks entirely, as opposed to just wanting a fair, rightful place in the infrastructure layout, I’d be glad to re-evaluate my position. And I’m not saying you can’t find ANYBODY who thinks cars and other motorized vehicles should be wiped off the map, only that they make up a lot less of a percentage on our side than ‘bike eliminationists’ make up on their side.

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            • Help May 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

              “. . .only that they make up a lot less of a percentage on our side than ‘bike eliminationists’ make up on their side.”

              Prove it. What proof do you have of this?

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      • longgone May 29, 2013 at 7:25 pm

        “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”
        ― Mark Twain

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    • Chris I May 29, 2013 at 9:22 am

      The full article included most of the report, but of course omitted the part that criticizes local media for creating a perception of a bike/car war…

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  • Edward Hershey May 29, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Sad to say the Oregonian (or what remains of it) is becoming the Fox News of all of Portland, not just its bicycle world.

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    • JonathanR May 29, 2013 at 9:27 am

      So when is some 30-something entrepeneur going to take up the challenge of creating a competitor? Willamette Week has (I guess) decided it can’t.

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      • A.K. May 29, 2013 at 10:23 am

        Is there a market for that in a slowly dying industry? I’m not so sure.

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      • was carless May 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        Huh, I thought thats what BP was for…

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  • q`Tzal May 29, 2013 at 9:36 am

    The Oregonian: that uncle that comes to every family reunion and seems perfectly normal until the racial epithets start spilling out non stop.

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  • ME 2 May 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

    On the whole it sounds like a very balanced report, but I continued to be annoyed by these calls of bikes should pay a tax to counter their image as freeloaders. When you ride your bike you don’t:

    1. cause wear and tear on the pavement making the roads last longer;
    2. take up a whole lot of space reducing congestion;
    3. emit air pollution, making the air healthier for everyone to breath;
    4. buy gas, which sends money to out of state oil companies.

    That sounds like the opposite of a freeloader to me. Other jurisdictions get this. For example, when I moved to British Columbia 20 years ago buying a bike was exempt from the provincial sales tax because they recognized all the positive societal benefits it has. Too bad such enlightenment doesn’t exist here.

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    • Andrew K May 29, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Exactly my thought. You notice the counter voices supporting registration aren’t saying the funds should actually, you know…pay for infrastructure. They are supporting registration and licensing to just simply counter a false public perception.

      Thank goodness that is the counter argument and not actually in the report itself.

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    • GlowBoy May 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      I agree, ME 2. Seems to me the 4% tax ought to be on cars, not on bikes.

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    • Help May 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Are striping, painting, bike boxes, and cycletracks free?

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      • tonyt
        tonyt May 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm

        No they’re not, but assuming that someone will take SOME form of transportation to get there, someone on a bike actually reduces wear and tear on the road by not taking a car or even the bus. While striping, painting, etc., cost money at the outset, it saves money in the long run.

        In other words, from the city’s budget perspective, cycling is the cheapest way for people to get around. You want to encourage that, not discourage it. Taxing cycling (via the bike sales tax) would be like taxing healthy food to fund health outreach programs. You should be taxing the behavior that costs money, not what saves money.

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        • ME 2 May 29, 2013 at 3:47 pm

          Well said Tonyt and like it or not in a society we have to subsidize others. I’m paying an extra $40 on my car registration fees to support a bridge I haven’t used in years, while commuters from Clackistan use it 10 times a week, yet you don’t hear me leading a chorus demanding that Clackistanians should pay a symbolic tax.

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        • Help May 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm

          It doesn’t save money. You could have no bike boxes or striping and still bike on the road.

          Saying it’s a cheaper alternative than a car doesn’t mean it’s free. We aren’t talking about opportunity costs here. Hell we could all just walk.

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          • 9watts May 29, 2013 at 11:04 pm

            “You could have no bike boxes or striping and still bike on the road.”

            Why stop there? I don’t even need a road to bike on. Biking really is free, if you want to peel back all the layers.

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            • Help May 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

              You never use a road to bike on? Technically I don’t need a road to drive on, but that’s pretty farfetched.

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        • was carless May 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

          The damage done to roads is actually a measure of the X^4 power of the weight a vehicle exerts on its axles (this is a simplified explanation). This is known as the fourth power law. Therefore, heavy trucks do thousands of times more damage to roads than do passenger cars, and likewise passengers cars : bicycles.

          Therefore, logic dictates that the way to save the most on road wear & tear is to ban buses and heavy trucks!

          Smaller box trucks could be used for freight instead – which are, amazingly enough, much safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and can actually turn a corner in our city of small blocks…

          Buses are more difficult. They carry a lot of meat in them, although streetcars and light rail are an expensive alternative in high capacity corridors.

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      • was carless May 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

        Of course not, don’t be absurd. But obviously you are asking a leading question.

        By that line of reasoning, we shouldn’t have streets either, as they aren’t free – developers and homeowners generally pay for them. 😉

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      • are May 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm

        if motorists were capable of handling their machines safely, striping etc. would not be “necessary.”

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  • matt f May 29, 2013 at 10:58 am

    wow groundbreaking stuff here…sorry for the sarcasm

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  • Art Fuldodger May 29, 2013 at 11:14 am

    “They also noted much of anxiety that comes when people drive cars, isn’t based on an anti-bike grudge, rather it’s simply a fear of colliding with someone on a bike.”

    I hear this from people fairly often, & I just don’t get it. I do a fair amount of driving, and I can honestly say that while i do see cyclists doing things that aren’t entirely safe, they’re hardly hurling themselves under my wheels. It seems to me that if you drive cautiously, trying to have an awareness of cyclists and pedestrians as well as motor vehicles, you’ll be far more concerned about the unsafe behaviors of other drivers.

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    • dan May 29, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Hmm, obeying the speed limit and other laws around how motorists interact with other road users might help with that whole “not hitting bicyclists” thing. The real concern is more like “I can’t be bothered to safely operate my 3,000 pound death machine.”

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    • JonathanR May 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Whether I’m biking or driving, I see a surprising number of bikers running red lights with impunity (sometimes while other cyclists dutifully sit, stopped at a light).

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      • dan May 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm

        I admit that bothers me, but if there’s no cross-traffic forced to slam on the brakes, it’s not really a big deal. If there is cross-traffic, this situation should correct itself over time.

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        • JonathanR May 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm

          Well, it really is a big deal. Or at least a big a deal as a pedestrian jaywalking, or a car running a red light. I watched an idiot running every light all the way down Madison toward the Hawthorne Bridge … I caught up with him at the end of the bridge. All it takes is a light-running cyclist getting hit and killed, and another car vs. bike war gets started.

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          • spare_wheel May 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm

            Well at least I know that was not me because no one has ever caught up with me on madison.


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        • Help May 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

          Rules for thee, but not for me. Why is it not a big deal? It’s a clear violation of the law which is sacrosanct for cars around here, but apparently not for bikes.

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          • dan May 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

            Because the chances of a cyclist killing/injuring someone else while ignoring the law are tiny compared to the chances of a driver killing or injuring someone in the same circumstance. Like I said, it bothers me to see bikes running red lights etc., but I recognize that it typically doesn’t create a safety concern — and when it does, the cyclist is usually the one at risk.

            And if you really believe that “the law is sacrosanct for cars,” I suggest you sit at SE 39th and Hawthorne for awhile and see how many cars you can count turning left on a red light. Or drive around town for awhile and see how many people signal turns and lane changes, and how many people actually hang up their phones when driving. The law may be less sacrosanct than you think.

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            • Help May 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

              I meant sacrosanct around here (in the comment section). I get that drivers don’t always obey the law.

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          • Hey Hey Roseway May 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm

            Er – “sacrosanct” is a pretty strong interpretation for driving behavior I see. I definitely cringe when I see folks on bikes blowing red lights.
            I positively blanch when I see folks in cars blowing red lights (it happens), and I get pretty unhappy at the consistent interpretation of “right turn on red after stop” as “just sort of slow, or not, as I turn this corner, perhaps with a glance to the side for other traffic.”

            I’ve seen plenty of close calls for folks on bike and on foot due to right on red, and I rarely see a car come to a complete stop unless they’re downtown, in a pedestrian-congested area (i.e., folks are already in the cross-walk).

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        • wsbob May 29, 2013 at 10:52 pm

          Some people run red lights even when there is cross-traffic, if they believe the distance vehicle cross-traffic is away from them, allows room for them to make it. Close calls occur. Road users cutting it close, places the burden on other road users to avoid colliding with them.

          Some bikeportland readers may remember the incident from a year or so ago, about a cyclist crossing the path of a trimet bus proceeding along NW Broadway, obliging the bus driver to stop abruptly, resulting in injury to passengers. The cyclist had a stop sign; I don’t recall reading if it was ever determined whether or not they stopped for it, but their actions nevertheless, resulted in a close call: http://bikeportland.org/2011/12/03/bus-makes-panic-stop-to-avoid-bike-rider-63034

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      • younggods May 29, 2013 at 2:31 pm

        If there is no cross traffic, why sit there sucking down the exhaust from the cars stopped at the light?

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      • ME 2 May 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

        Then the police should ticket them when they witness the offending cyclist in the act of the violation. And don’t start by saying this is evidence that cyclists’ should have license plates. Cars have plates and if you witness a car running a light, you can call the cops and give them the plate # and the cops won’t do a thing.

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        • spare_wheel May 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm

          ME2, the portland police have stated on numerous occasions that they do not ticket cyclists for traffic violations unless they pose an immediate danger to others. This has been de facto policy in PDX for many years. Somehow I don’t think this is going to change any time soon.

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      • tonyt
        tonyt May 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

        Yes, that happens. But think about it this way: people will exploit the advantages of their form of transport. For bikes, because of a greater ability to hear and see (and other reasons) this is most often running red lights and stop signs. These are VERY obvious because we can easily observe the behavior. They’re binary. You stop or you don’t.

        With cars, the illegal behavior is typically speed. But this is not as obvious because it is a matter of degrees. It’s much harder to tell that someone is doing 45 in a 35. So what we have is MASSES of drivers that break the law constantly and few people bat an eye. But a biker rolls a stop sign and “it’s anarchy I tell ya!”

        My guess is that most people who freak out about bikers rolling stop signs would defend their right to “use their best judgement” to determine what speed is appropriate. They view speed limits as the minimum operating speed and go from there.

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    • Chris I May 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      For a lot of people, driving is a very scary experience. For whatever reason (physical impairment, lack of coordination, etc) they lack confidence, and have poor control over their vehicles. They are justifiably fearful of driving, both because they are afraid of injuring themselves, and injuring others. For these people, cyclists are scary. They imagine themselves mowing someone down, and having to deal with the aftermath.

      I would love to live in a society where this segment of the population has options other than 4000lb steel motor vehicles, but we can only do so much.

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    • Help May 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Does adding more people mostly travelling at a much slower speed than you on the same road make it easier or harder to drive? It makes it harder and it makes it more dangerous. This isn’t rocket science.

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      • was carless May 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

        Part of that is people’s incessant feeling that they need to pass any obstacle that gets in their way. My favorite example is when drivers pass left-turning cars by dipping into the bike lane, crossing the fog line, or into the parking lane.

        This frequently results in accidents and people getting killed. Also, cars stopping for pedestrians crossing the street on a 4-lane road where one of the cars doesn’t stop. People think they’re in too big of a hurry, but of course that is just nonsense to justify more mayhem.

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        • Help May 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm

          I pass a left-turning car all the time in the bike lane. You know . . sharing the road.

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          • are May 30, 2013 at 10:42 pm

            maybe you should read the statute, after getting a ticket

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      • Paul in the 'couve May 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm

        Help, we’ve engaged on this Chicken and Egg dilemma before. Just a bit less than 100 years ago cars weren’t here (in any number). People walked, biked, and rode horses up and down the streets and horse drawn trolleys went up the middle. Run away horses and slipping in the mud were the main dangers. Automobiles create the dangers. The paradigm that has become ingrained and that you reflect is the one the auto industry and advertising have drilled into our culture: “Get the pedestrians, kids, and cyclists out of the road and make way for cars.”

        Cyclists and pedestrians don’t CREATE any risk to anyone. Motorists and the 4,000 lb projectiles that are 6 to 8 feet wide and packing 10,000 times the kinetic energy and momentum of a cyclist ARE the danger. Even then, it is impatient drivers who are so filled with entitlement to get down the road unimpeded that they can’t be bothered to slow down, or pay attention to anything smaller than an SUV much less consider the safety of anyone not “important” enough to encase themselves in thousands of pounds of steel _ THESE are the source of the danger.

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      • spare_wheel May 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm

        Are you really arguing that driving at a slower speed is more dangerous and difficult? Somehow I think that you have not really thought this through.

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  • 100th Monkey May 29, 2013 at 11:31 am

    To quote from the page on “Economic Effects of Increased Bicycle Usage” Many retail businesses, both in the downtown core and elsewhere, are wary of projects that are perceived to negatively impact automobile access or parking, believing automobile access to be equivalent to customer access. While this has been true under the traditional development pattern, your committee finds that in most cases (except grocery and bulk retail) consumer spending habits are independent of travel mode choice.

    Bicycling is not a detriment to local retail/business and may be positive in some areas or for some businesses.

    Some businesses, particularly non-bulk retail or service-oriented businesses, benefit from increased bicycle use, versus automobile use. Since their profitability is not necessarily tied to the consumption of large bulk goods, the increased carrying capacity of streets with bicycle improvements, as well as the increased density of bicycle parking (versus automobile parking) leads to more customers.

    I take this as fodder to share with PBA to end the moratorium on new bicycle corrals in the Central Downtown Core area again to INCREASE business!

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  • ScottB May 29, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Another strategy for funding is to do what Austin did – a mobility fund.

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  • was carless May 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I read most of the report and found it refreshingly well-balanced in its analysis. Although I’m not a big fan of the proposed sales tax idea or licensing of cyclists, the rest of the piece made a lot of sense.

    A couple of things in particular I’d like to point out: they noted that businesses typically erroneously equate parking spaces and people arriving by cars as customers, even though there is no documented difference in spending habits and transpo mode. Secondly, they bring to light the ‘latent’ negative viewpoint many have of cycling. Thirdly, they point out equity issues. Fourth, they bring up the need for better education – and vehicular cycling/commuter cycling training.

    Lastly, they recommend funding bike-friendly infrastructure to position Portland “on a favorable footing with leading international bike-friendly cities, especially those in Northern Europe such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam.” (!!!)

    I agree!

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  • Evan May 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    OPB radio is also playing a news snippet mentioning the excise tax but nothing else. Way to go, OoPsB.

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  • pdxbikeworm May 29, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I have not had time to read the report, but I appreciate the piece on perceptions (shall I use the dreaded word “class” perceptions?). I am a regular bicycle user/commuter with friends across the economic spectrum. I can say with all honesty that my blue collar friends are almost entirely anti-bike. However, I can also say that the usage of bicycles as a mode of transportation is increasing in the blue collar neighborhoods I live and ride in.

    The cause of these sentiments are complex – everything from “hating yuppies”, to muscle car culture associations of manliness vs. the perceived effeminacy of bicyclists, to frustration with crumbling road infrastructure in poor neighborhoods and the search for simple scapegoats fueled by sensationalist media outlets.

    I don’t think it is unfair to have bicyclists pick up a piece of the tab, and the 4% tax, in my opinion, is the most practical way to do this. I don’t necessarily agree with the recommended use of the proceeds (again, I haven’t read the report, so I’m only giving a surface impression), but I do think some cost sharing would go a ways towards at least addressing the issue of bicyclists paying their fair share.

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    • 9watts May 29, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      “I don’t think it is unfair to have bicyclists pick up a piece of the tab”

      Here we go, again.

      “people who drive less than average and use non-motorized modes tend to overpay their share of costs, while those who drive more than average underpay.” http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf

      Can you explain what, exactly, you mean by ‘tab’?

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  • John Lascurettes May 29, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I’m certainly not pro-bike

    Oh, really? I couldn’t tell.

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  • longgone May 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”…. again.
    ― Mark Twain

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  • Frank Selker May 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    My question is why pay attention to the City Club at all? They are not elected, they are not representative, they are not expert, and in the past they have not even been overly concerned with being accurate. They are self-appointed random people.

    And their positions vary with who happens to be on a committee. For example a former chair of one of their committees that suggested less cycling access said “Bikes have too much clout in city hall.”

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  • Chris Anderson May 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    I was disappointed to see no endorsement of the ” Idaho stop” law. I’d be all for draconian traffic law enforcement (for bikes and cars) as long as we could make sensible bike behavior legal. Seriously I’d love to see 100% coverage of the city with photo enforcement for both speed and red-lights / stop signs. Driving cars is a privilege not a right, so even 1 mph over the limit strikes me as unappreciative.

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  • are May 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    You could have no bike boxes or striping and still bike on the road.

    exactly. you sure could. so why should cyclists pay for it?

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  • 9watts May 30, 2013 at 9:16 am

    From Section 4 of the report:

    “By itself, increased bicycling is unlikely to have a significant impact on the region’s or city’s climate emissions and air pollution. Yet taken together with other strategies to reduce driving, improve fuel efficiency, and adopt cleaner fuels, as well as land use policies that enable shorter trips, bicycling does have a role to play in meeting the region’s goals for climate change mitigation and better air quality – particularly as a substitute mode of transportation for short, neighborhood trips.”

    Why such a narrow view of the climate relevance and prospects of bicycling in the Portland region? Why dream so small? Why start off highlighting the limitations? Why end with such a narrow scope? Why suggest we need these half dozen things to align, for bicycling to have even a modest ‘role to play’? This, to me, is baffling.

    Here’s my rewrite of the above paragraph:

    By itself, increased bicycling could have a significant impact on the region’s or city’s climate emissions and air pollution. We’re not there yet, but if we take seriously the mode share goals of the 2030 Plan and note that the prospects for burning fossil fuels into the future are dim and getting dimmer by the day, bicycling is poised to have perhaps the single largest impact on our emissions of any single strategy. The majority of current car trips in the region are of a length that could be accomplished by bicycle today. Though currently only a small minority ride further than those few miles, haul cargo, or multiple children by bike, or conduct their business from a bicycle, the fact that all of these are done by bike today in Portland opens the door to bikes as the main transport-mode in the future. Trends in cities across the globe are away from cars and toward bicycling. Portland can and should do whatever it can to take advantage of and accelerate these trends.

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  • bikesalot May 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I just picked this up from a post in another forum. It sparked one of the liveliest discussions I have seen that group of folks engage in!

    “The pearl district today is a fascinating exercise in free markets at work. The last of the free parking in the pearl, next to the low-income apartments and the new park, just got turned into pay parking. Where normally there are plenty of cars from the people who live and work there, today it’s a ghost town. Where normally there is plenty of parking in the last remaining free zone a few blocks up west of 15th, today it’s jam packed and nearly impossible to find parking. The result will be more bitching and moaning about the impossibility of finding parking in northwest, leading the city to crack down and start issuing lots of tickets to those who can least afford it, or put in meters. Welcome to the City of Portland: if you’re rich, we want you. If you’re not, but want to be downtown, we’re going to hit you for fees every time you turn around until you just cant stand it and leave to the east side. And now the elites at the City Club, who probably cant remember what it’s like to have a week’s disposable income wiped out by a single $65 parking ticket, want to tax bicycles.

    My thoughts on what these people can do with themselves arent fit to print. Between this, the fencing off of the free parking next to the beach on marine drive, and proposed taxation of the last available free transportation source, it’s obvious that those in power in this city truly dont give a crap about folks in the low income category.”

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  • wsbob June 3, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Reading the report, I’ve been taking it slow, so I just finished tonight. The writing: basically easy to follow, but some of the ideas and conclusions expressed seem wishy-washy ‘passing the buck’ sorts of things. Reading material on this page:


    …is where some of that comes across to me. Top section between the first bold type statement, shows acknowledgment of dynamics of traffic and road capacity capability potential where motor vehicles and bikes travel together. Go down to the third bottom section, and the committee ventures into the idea of ‘separate priority corridors’, citing “…especially in highly congested areas such as downtown and the inner Eastside. …”. Unfortunately, the committee doesn’t offer suggestions for specific streets or routes it thinks should somehow…be made into these separate priority corridors, or how it imagines the corridors would work in practice.

    From the bottom section: “…Portland should prioritize physically separated bicycle infrastructure for streets where the posted speed limit exceeds 20 miles per hour, with well-engineered connections and crossings. …”. Easier, without necessarily reducing the flow of transportation appreciably, could possibly be to reduce more strategically related 20+mph posted streets to 20mph. High speed inner city streets/thoroughfares, are the bane of livability and safety; taking vulnerable road users off of them doesn’t counter that adversity.

    There’s more in this report to hash over. One last thing for now: The report mentions road user education, but offers very little in the way of suggestions of substance, as to what form that education should take; course content, etc., which some of us in response to past bikeportland stories have hashed over at length.

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