Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Making something right: Your feedback on what’s next for Portland

Posted by on May 15th, 2014 at 1:04 am

Our sign of the times.

A post we published Tuesday about whether Portland has lost a sense it had of its ability to be extraordinary, and the consequences of that loss, touched a lot of nerves.

Many liked it. Many disagreed. Some questioned the premise. Best of all, lots of people have been sharing their own thoughts in comments, emails and personal conversations. Even Lindsey, the woman who inadvertently helped me start to understand Portland and urban bicycling, saw the story from Indiana and wrote to say that her life didn’t feel nearly so romantic at the time.

Rather than trying to summarize the rich, useful discussion we’ve seen so far — and our comments section continues to be, for my money, one of the most thoughtful on the Internet — I’m going to write briefly about what we’ll be doing next, here at BikePortland.

First: we want to keep hearing from you, and we want to share your thoughts with others. If Portland’s latest golden age of bicycle-related progress is over, we want to help the city build the road to its next one.

What is happening in and around Portland that inspires you? What are you, personally, working on that might inspire others? What ideas, facts, attitudes should be circulating in the city but are not?

Breakfast on Bridge Hawthorne

Email me: michael@bikeportland.org. Call me: 503-333-7824. Nail things to my door: 924 NE 65th. (Do not actually do this.) We will publish the best as guest posts, as interviews, or whatever seems right. If you’ve never dipped your toe into the civic conversation, this might be the time to start. If you’ve been waiting for a moment to spool your thoughts into an idea, now is your chance.

This’ll be our guiding principle in this series: let’s not talk about the things Portland didn’t do. Let’s talk about the things it is doing, and the things it could be.

Meanwhile, though Jonathan and I will continue to cover the news, good and bad, two to five times every weekday, we’re eager to spend much of our work, this summer, focusing on things that will bring Portland into its next age of being extraordinary.

This does not mean we’ll be ignoring problems and failures. But most of our enterprise reporting this summer — that is, the stories that start as ideas in our heads — will be devoted to things that are working, and the ways bicycles are helping them work. We’ll be venturing further afield, starting (though not finishing) with an upcoming week reporting from East Portland. We’ll be talking to people we haven’t and checking in again with people we have.

So stay with us, and add your voice. Icons, politics and trend lines aside, the fact remains that Portland is the best big city in the country to ride a bicycle in, and it’s going to keep getting better.

America’s last bike capital is also going to be its next one, and we’ll be writing that story together.

bike move

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. Thank you.

  • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

    What ideas, facts, attitudes should be circulating in the city but are not?

    The biggest one I can think of that is languishing is climate change. Hard (for me) to see how this doesn’t have the potential to change everything (about transportation). We here in the US have dragged our feet on this one but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored indefinitely. Many here seem to think this is or will be terrible–that we can’t have nice things anymore–but I see it as an opportunity to reimagine our infrastructure, our way of doing things, and we’ll discover that there is no way bikes won’t come out on top. Germany has with their Kopf an: Motor aus. Für null CO2 auf Kurzstrecken. campaign.
    Turn on your head; turn off your engine. For zero CO2 over short distances

    We have the Climate Action Plan, which is being updated by BPS, a long-forgotten (2007) Peak Oil report to City Council, and I think plenty of local interest, and in 2008 Sunday Parkways was born as an explicit response to global warming, but not so much talk since.

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    • Todd Hudson May 15, 2014 at 8:07 am

      And this is why I don’t get involved with bike advocacy/activism….so much preachy, political crap that is pushed by people who take themselves way too seriously. I want to have bikey fun, stay in shape, and let others know it’s a great way to have a good time.

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      • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 8:14 am

        Fine, then don’t. This is not the selective service, after all.

        “I want to have bikey fun, stay in shape, and let others know it’s a great way to have a good time.”
        I agree with all of those points, and my suggestion above doesn’t undermine or invalidate that approach in the least.

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      • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 10:25 am

        I want to have bikey fun, stay in shape, and let others know it’s a great way to have a good time.

        Zoomba is fun and a good way to stay in shape but it’s not a major advocacy draw. IMO, cycling advocacy is rooted in the politics of livability and sustainability.

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        • Todd Hudson May 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

          There’s that preachy crap* I was talking about!

          *Hey Todd,

          Please don’t call other people’s words and ideas “crap”. “preachy” is borderline mean but “crap” is not an acceptable thing to say to other comments. Thanks. — Jonathan

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          • q`Tzal May 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

            JM: Thank you for explicitly explaining where you are rejecting comments at. Anything is better than the comment system going “error” then nothing else.

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    • Oregon Mamacita May 16, 2014 at 8:44 am

      The approach to climate change has to be way more comprehensive. We hyper focus on cars and density, when farming practices, meat consumption, new construction (lots of air pollution to build that LEED building). We need to be planting trees and encouraging water conversation. Right now, people are approaching climate change through their own lifestyle lens. A selfish approach won’t work. We need science and no sacred cows.

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      • 9watts May 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

        “We hyper focus on cars and density, when farming practices, meat consumption, new construction…”

        This blog isn’t about farming practices, vegetarianism, or buildings.

        “We need science and no sacred cows.”

        Can you explain what you mean?
        The last time this came up you suggested eating our pets to avert climate change. Is that what you are getting at?

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  • Dave May 15, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Think long term–these days, there are more cyclists visible on the road than there were in Seattle five years ago. More on the road in Vantucky now than in Portland ten years ago and drivers are nicer to us! I’ll quote an Oregon songwriter named Cris Williamson, “Don’t lose heart, it’s the beginning not the end.”

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    • Mike May 15, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Think long term indeed!

      We are in the achingly slow beginning stages of likely a century-long shift in how we live.

      The fossil-fuel-burning automobile is a dead man walking. But his time on death row is being drawn out by appeals.

      His pardon may come in the form of Google-created self-driving electric cars… who knows.

      But I’m heartened by an article I read recently that chronicles the existential transportation crisis we faced at the turn of the last century: we were literally drowning in horse manure (among other equine-related maladies):


      The solution to this environmental disaster? The automobile. But it took 20 years for the shift from the horse-centric to the auto-centric model.

      Hang tight, y’all, and keep riding to stay fit while you wait!

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      • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 8:55 am

        In that vein, here’s an article: What the Steamship and the Landline Can Tell Us About the Decline of the Private Car

        “Cohen figures that we’re unlikely to maintain the deteriorating Interstate Highway System for the next century, or to perpetuate for generations to come the public policies and subsidies that have supported the car up until now. Sitting in the present, automobiles are so embedded in society that it’s hard to envision any future without them. But no technology – no matter how essential it seems in its own era – is ever permanent.”


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        • Anne Hawley May 15, 2014 at 9:21 am

          Interesting article! Thanks.

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    • Hmmmm.... May 16, 2014 at 7:59 am

      BTW, nothing’s better for helping to convince people that cycling is for self-entitled, arrogant, snobs who live in inner Portland by referring to Clark County as “Vantucky”.

      Have any rude names for Lents?

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      • Anne Hawley May 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

        Thanks for saying. The “Vantucky” comment bothered me, too.

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  • TOM May 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

    I think the most discouraging thing about riding in Portland is the feeling that the PPD & courts don’t care about cycling accidents.
    How many times we read about hit & run or cyclists getting injured (or dying) from car/bike incidents for little consequence for the auto driver.
    The feeling that somebody (PPD/Courts/Politicians ?) has “got your back” or even cared would be a huge help.

    Painted ads on walls are of zero consequence.

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    • KD May 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Speaking from experience (I was SUPER lucky when I was hit and sustained nothing incredibly serious as compared to others…)… it seems Oregon’s vulnerable user law, if any, is not enforced. People get hit by cars, the PPB says “no harm, no foul” and does not pursue a citation against the aggressor. Time and again this happens, and that has to change.

      I’ve heard the argument that we need separated bike lanes to prevent car / bike interactions – but without establishing STIFF penalties for hitting someone, regardless of hit and run or not, nothing will change. There are ZERO consequences for hitting a person on a bike or a pedestrian in this town and that’s the first thing that has to change.

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  • Rita May 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

    How are we increasing the ROI on what we’ve currently got? What experiments have worked & not, and why? The Strava recreational-biking heatmap is cool data, I wish though that we had commuter useage data on many of the non-downtown bikeways the year they were created, then every 2-5 years after, to show a trend on how long it takes to change the traffic pattern/culture.

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  • AndyC of Linnton May 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Are the forums on this site still going? I think I once(maybe years ago?) wanted to join and/or post something. One has to be approved to post a comment or be involved in the discussion, correct?
    I might not have followed up on it, honestly.
    I’ll look in to it again later this evening. Thanks.

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  • Christopher Sanderson May 15, 2014 at 9:02 am

    A friend of mine read a FB post, where I barked up and down about almost getting plowed over by a distracted (or drunk) driver, and he told me stay off the streets, and ride in the park. Ha! He didn’t quite understand what I was really doing in life. He’s from the east coast, and his worldview says that bikes are for recreational purposes only.

    I just got the Portland Smarttrips mailing, and while I laud the information in there, the few pictures and events seem centered on bicycling for recreation. Certainly, bicycling is for recreation, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy my work so much.

    Needless to say, bicycles are much more than that. They are a legitimate means for commuting, taking the kids to school, getting groceries, and in my case hauling tools and material. Bicycles have a lot of day-to-day function!

    I’d like to see a greater push towards raising the collective awareness that bicycles belong on our roads. I get the feeling that there are a lot of automobile operators, who have the notion that bicycles are for kids who recreate in parks, or that the bicycle rider going down SE 28th from Burnside to SE Stark is misplaced or in my way. Without a doubt, I sense frustration from drivers when they pass me, and either tell me that I am hogging the road, or they floor the gas pedal to get around me, only to abruptly stop at a light or stop sign just ahead.

    Education is key to all of this. I have many clients, who drive their cars everywhere. If the opportunity arises, I talk to my clients about how necessary it is for me to take some of the “non-bicycle” routes, or why I take the lane. Often times people get it, and it becomes a good point of education. I think I do this in a non-polarizing way.

    I think all of us need to be good evangelists for bikes as a mode of transportation. Let’s be positive, and upbeat about it. Furthermore, we can continue to go to PBOT meetings, and engage the citizenry in a way that is respectful, builds bridges, and raise the collective consciousness that bicycles indeed belong on the roads.

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    • Timo Optionista May 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

      “I just got the Portland Smarttrips mailing, and while I laud the information in there, the few pictures and events seem centered on bicycling for recreation. ”
      Glad to hear you received our mailing. I do want to correct a misperception – our work at PBOT to encourage cycling is very much centered on using bikes for transportation.
      Since we’re aiming for an audience that either doesn’t bike much already, or who only bike for recreation currently, we use a “draw people in for fun” strategy (see the colloquy between 9watts and Todd Husdon, above).
      Our guided rides attempt to draw casual riders with (hopefully) interesting themes like Downtown Fountains and Art or East Portland Parks Present and Future. Once we’ve snared folks into our web we show them low-stress bikeways, talk about traffic law and riding safely, and encourage riders to see themselves as road users – fully entitled to the right-of-way.
      Our classes on Cycling Essentials, Shopping by Bike, Bike Maintenance and Finding Your Way with Maps and Apps are all about practical information for using a bike for basic transport.
      It sounds like you’re quite confident traveling by bike, but perhaps you have a friend who’s just getting started. I hope you’ll encourage them to check out our programs. (Any you’re always welcome to join us yourself!)

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      • Christopher Sanderson May 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Will do! Thanks for the feedback, and indeed, I understand the entry-level nature of the newsletter, and I can appreciate your approach. That said, let’s get a morning picture of a commuter crossing the Hawthorne Bridge somewhere.

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  • Brad May 15, 2014 at 9:10 am

    We need to refocus on bikes. Our advocacy has gone too far astray and tries to tie itself in with climate change, pedestrian issues, equality, health, etc. While these are all important, it makes for a much harder sell to elected officials and the general public that seemingly can only handle smaller, more digestable ideas.

    Keep our messaging simple. Keep it focused directly on bike infrastructure and policy. Ask and advocate for very clear and specific things ( 3 Foot Rule, Idaho Stop, specific cyclotrack projects – not omnibus road diet/climate change/public health/bioswale/neighborhood enhancement/voonworf/sustainability packages).

    Most importantly – keep it POSITIVE and PRO BIKE. Extoll the benefits that better bike conditions will have for other road users along with business and property owners. IMHO, we are losing the war because too much bike advocacy and commentrary comes off as anti-car/business/NIMBY/parking and such. You don’t win converts and soften opposition by constantly telling people how wrong, selfish, evil, stupid, greedy, and clueless they are simply for favoring the status quo rather than something new that they don’t quite understand. Right or not, many visible and vocal members in our ranks are perceived as petulant rather than thoughtful.

    Finally, let’s get rid of our labels and buzz phrases. We should no longer be cyclists, bike riders, or active transportation enthusiasts. Distill all of our messaging down to PEOPLE. We are people using bikes to get to the office, get home, go to dinner, get fit, or to have some fun. Some people use cars. Some people walk. When we can turn the subject of the conversation to people rather than machines and modes, then we will more easily find common ground and get somewhere together.

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    • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Lots of good points, but –

      “Ask and advocate for very clear and specific things ( 3 Foot Rule, Idaho Stop, specific cyclotrack projects…)”

      You may not be persuaded that, for instance, climate change is a big deal, that crumbs are all we can ask for, but what if your strategy, your assessment of what our elected officials can hear/will respond to is off, out of phase with the march of history? What if all of that pales in comparison to, say, the implausibility of continuing to count on cheap gas? I say let’s keep the big picture in focus.

      “we are losing the war because too much bike advocacy and commentrary comes off as anti-car/business/NIMBY/parking and such.”

      If we conceptualize this as a war, then I think you would agree that an anti-car perspective would be the logical point of departure. I’m not sure it is a war, or is usefully thought of that way, but if cars, our over-reliance on them, our continued subsidy of everything to do with cars, are the problem–and I have come to think they are–then the sooner we own up to that, face the music, call a spade a spade, the better for everyone.

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    • gutterbunny May 15, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Some of this doesn’t make sense. Focus the on people or bikes? How can you focus on bikes without using the term bikes in one way or another? If you want to be called people, how do you separate people using different modes of transportation?

      Though I do agree that some of the issues that get pushed are not helping much. They do kind of set up a political agenda that can be polarizing like climate change.

      Though some of those side issues are natural fits as well. Like pedestrians and the financials. Road safety in general effects everyone. Likewise the potential monetary benefits of a car free lifestyle can be very effective, or possible benefits of bicycling in commercial districts and as a tourism attraction. Everyone wants more money, everyone wants to be safe.

      And though issues like climate change matter and are important, they remain too abstract and too big for most people to deal with, even if they want to. But by pushing this particular issue, it does force bikes into the left wing side of the political divide. Which isn’t helpful.

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      • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 10:01 am

        “They do kind of set up a political agenda that can be polarizing like climate change.”

        Only if we let it. In Germany every institution I can think of has realized that they can’t ignore climate change: churches, municipalities, NGOs, consumer organizations, the federal gov’t…

        “And though issues like climate change matter and are important, they remain too abstract and too big for most people to deal with, even if they want to.”

        I would submit that this doesn’t make sense. The way to avoid important issues remaining abstract is to show how they are related to the issue(s) at hand, why we can/need/want to do something about them.

        “But by pushing this particular issue, it does force bikes into the left wing side of the political divide. Which isn’t helpful.”

        See above.
        Why is climate change a left wing issue? Is clean air a left wing issue? Is the future of agriculture a left wing issue? You better believe the Micronesians don’t think climate change is a left wing issue as their country disappears beneath the ocean. Or the Bangladeshis.

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        • gutterbunny May 15, 2014 at 10:16 am

          I’m not saying that it isn’t an important issue. Really honestly,I personally believe it’s “THE ONLY ISSUE”.

          I’m simply pointing out that most people just shut down because the deep down everyone knows what is needed to do something about it. But it’s huge, it’s a bigger lifestyle change than most people are willing to jump into, and it’s a much bigger issue than just riding a bike. It’s food choices, it’s purchasing choices, housing choices for most Americans it’s a complete lifestyle and philosophical change regardless of which side of the political line you stand.

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          • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

            Oh, O.K. That part didn’t come through before.

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  • gutterbunny May 15, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I think the biggest problem is that there is too much focus solely on bikes. We share most the same issues as pedestrians do, and there needs to be a coming together of the two advocacy groups.

    Not too long ago it looked like this site was heading that way, when the blog merger happened. But instead of getting articles on pedestrian issues, we get real estate features. Walkers are pretty much out of the picture.

    I know many (myself included) look to the great bicycle cities of Europe for inspiration. But what most don’t realize that those bike cities grew originally not from pushing bicycle use, but from controlling auto traffic to make the streets safer for pedestrians. As the streets got safer for walkers, driving became slower and less on convenient and people naturally flocked to bicycles because at a certain point it became the equal to automobiles on the existing roads. It was at this point that the cities started to push bicycle facilities, because there was an honest demand for it.

    By pushing pedestrian issues you also push bicycle issues. Everyone is a pedestrian at one time or another, it’s hard to argue that pedestrian improvements don’t benefit everyone. And like the European cities, by bolstering pedestrian use, auto traffic slows and becomes calmer, and the bikes start coming out.

    In many ways the city to look out for now is NYC. It’s apparent if one follows the news out there that this is the direction that they are heading. They’re lowering speed limits. Their is a growing public outrage over the fatalities caused by automobiles. There is not just infrastructure improvements but they are also going the legislative route as well. Mark my words in five years NYC will be leading the way, and likely wont be caught once they break free. And the reason is that they are looking at improving street safety for everyone, not just a small percentage of bike riders.

    The problem with the bike movement in America on a whole, is that they (we) are trying to put the cart before the horse. The whole plan shouldn’t be pushing a specific transportation mode, but calming the hazard to all (motor vehicles). Once that happens everything else starts to fall into place, and then you can focus efforts on improvements based on the transportation needs and desires of each community, be it bikes, buses/trains, walking, or roller skates.

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    • MaxD May 15, 2014 at 10:34 am

      VERY well said! Lets control the car (esp parking) and focus on safety! I think supporting transit is a good idea, too.

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    • GlowBoy May 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      I agree, somehow we need to generate public outrage over the mayhem on our streets, and point out that it’s everybody’s problem, not just for an easily marginalized group like cyclists.

      I think it’s a little difficult in Portland, where to this day formal training is still not required of new drivers, and where enforcement has traditionally been really lax. Real enforcement is going to require a shift in a lot of people’s thinking, a raised awareness of the responsibilities of drivers. Focusing on how driving now kills twice as many Portlanders as gunfire (a fact most people still aren’t aware of) is maybe as a good place to start as any.

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    • q`Tzal May 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Can we have safer slower European style streets without giving public sidewalks, free of charge, to retail users?

      As a fast bicycle rider I want to go fast. In the road. Be it a bike lane or whatever. How can we have acceptable bicycle facilities when cheap & lazy cafe owners completely block sidewalks forcing walking in to the high speed bike and automobile traffic?
      Oh, and how about the ADA issues of these selfish restaurant owners monopolizing public sidewalks? Every time we make it more scary or dangerous for the elderly and injured to get around by just wheeling around sidewalks we defacto mandate an extra car trip while decreasing the quality of life of everyone that can’t just hop the curb.

      We very much need to focus on pedestrian safety as the starting point but lets not forget what roads and sidewalks are: public spaces for travel. It can be social or not, slow or fast (as long as it’s safe) but not monopolized by a single user (cars, trucks, cafes, retail, private property storage) creating the inequality we fight every day.

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  • RH May 15, 2014 at 9:29 am

    We need verifiable, proven data to show businesses and ODOT that investing in safe bike infrastructure is a win-win. Think of it as a business proposal you are giving to Shark Tank. If the numbers make sense, there will be more enthusiasm around a new project. Some people do have a hard time seeing the long term benefits of a project versus the short term benefits.

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    • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

      I agree, but how to do this when the BTA, Novick, and pretty much everyone else except Todd Litman, have failed to communicate effectively (or even grasp) that we who don’t own cars are subsidizing those who do right now? That seems a logical point of departure for any discussion of costs & savings.

      Secondly, bike infrastructure too often is still viewed as something ‘for bikers,’ something we should pony up for; when it is easily recognized to be a derivative expenditure that would have no meaning in the absence of the dominance of the automobile. Asserting that pedestrians (as a group) should pay for sidewalks would be equally absurd, since before cars we all perambulated, rode, skipped, biked down & across the street with no need for separated infrastructure.

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      • q`Tzal May 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm

        On pitching bike specific infrastructure: only advocate data that shows how it benefits non-bicycling road users.
        For example:
        () “After bike project ‘X’ automobile counts dropped Y% on that road and nearby roads. Travel tines decreased and automotive collisions involving bicycles declined ##%.” This is reasonable because a good bicycle facility is going to make everyone’s travels safer and thus quicker and less stressful.
        () “So and so bikeway was established +15 years ago and has not needed repaving or maintenance. In this time it has carried X many trips. Conservatively, if we had to accommodate those all of trips by automobile in the light compact car size the road would have cost Y times as much. It also would have required repaving or resurfacing twice in the intervening 15 years (noting the usual 5 year lifespan of such surfaces) resulting in further costs as noted in the documentation. ”

        Don’t include wishful or speculative “data” that is not backed up by independent 3rd party scientific studies.
        () “Bicycle commuting makes everyone more healthy and reduces violent crime.” The health point is almost certainly true and will most likely socially accepted as “common sense” soon but pushing unverified views in to public policy stands on the same shaky ground as attempting to base laws on religion.

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  • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Our advocacy has gone too far astray and tries to tie itself in with …Recommended 2

    “by constantly telling people how wrong, selfish, evil, stupid, greedy, and clueless”

    when you don’t agree with an advocacy position claim that it is self-evident (without any support) that the other side is accusing the “public” of being selfish, evil, stupid, greedy, and clueless.


    Cycling advocacy does not need to be a single message argument. It’s possible to advocate for incremental changes and big changes.

    And since I believe that climate change is the dominant argument for active transport I’m not going to shut up about it because you would prefer to compromise with the status quo (whatever that is)

    favoring the status quo rather than something new that they don’t quite understand.

    Assuming the public is ignorant and apathetic is never a good tactic when it comes to advocacy.

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    • Psyfalcon May 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Safety and livable places is the dominant argument. Climate is just a subset of that.

      A multipronged approach. 1. I’d rather not be run over. 2. I’d rather not have food shortages, nor flood low lying countries.

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  • Joe May 15, 2014 at 10:11 am

    what gets me the most woked up is riders that try and label each other.
    guy was saying portlandia comment… come on pls!

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  • MaxD May 15, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I believe that a short-term, attainable goal that would have real and long-lasting improvements for cycling would be to push hard for a safer streets agenda that includes:
    1. lower speed limits and increased enforcement. Target areas used or crossed by bikes/peds, esp. the bridges and bridgeheads. Speed/red light cameras too.
    2. launch a drunk/distracted driving campaign and increase patrols.
    3. Increase fines for traffic violations and work on getting judges to stop reducing fines.
    4. more diverters, crosswalks and cross-street stop signs, especially along greenways (used by walkers, joggers, etc).
    5. start a regular (monthly or bi-monthly ) city-wide street sweeping program. tow and fine mis-parked cars. Clean streets are good for bikes, joggers, street play and they are critical for clean rivers.
    6. Start a city-wide re-striping policy of striping motorist lanes, not bike lanes. There are many streets (like Interstate) Where this would create buffers along much of the street and help calm traffic..
    7. Add Sharrow markings at “gap” locations where bike lanes end to reinforce the message that bikes are expected to be on roadways.
    8. get rid of the right on red in Portland and get cars to stop behind the crosswalk.
    9. add a pedestrian phase for all traffic signal, get rid of ped signals that only turn on if a “beg-button” is pressed.

    All of this would really help cycling, most of this is not infrastructure, and most of it is not bike-specific. Critically, I think this is what Hales/Novick/Treat are willing and able to do. I think bike advocacy groups would be wise to support these efforts while they continue to push (or plan to push) for some larger infrastructural changes, maybe after and administrative change.

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    • Robert Burchett May 16, 2014 at 9:14 am

      MaxD wrote:
      9. add a pedestrian phase for all traffic signal, get rid of ped signals that only turn on if a “beg-button” is pressed.
      Right on. Any intersection where a pedestrian has been killed in a crosswalk should have an all-vehicles-stop pedestrian signal, with explanatory signs. OK, you can walk the bike too. It’s lame that we wait until somebody dies to fix something, but when somebody dies, that should be a pretty clear call, right?

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  • Mick O May 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

    For me, it’s just going to be inviting more of my friends to do fun things on bikes. Invite them on fun rides. The monthly Biking About Architecture ride for example. I’ve never found an intellectual argument that works as well as actually getting people on bikes. Ok, that’s it. I’m starting a regular Biking Photography ride this summer. Some way some how.

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  • wsbob May 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

    The city needs some cycle tracks between neighborhoods and from them to downtown, inviting to ride, many people that wont ride, not feeling they’re up to being the road warrior current infrastructure requires.

    Building that sort of thing in an already built up city, is a tough call, but if the vision and commitment is there, so can be the payoff. That’s the way it was with former Front Ave on the waterfront, now Waterfront Park and the Westside Greenway route with its Eastside Esplanade counterpart. At the time, there were people that thought removing putting that land into a park was overly expensive, but look at it now. It’s both functional and beautiful. Young or old, weak or strong, its design enables everyone to use it.

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  • Mike Owens May 15, 2014 at 11:02 am

    We were driving (yes, we like many still do both) downtown last night on Market. Great looking city bike with a stud commuter in a skirt was taking a second to throw a leg over the top bar at a stoplight. She had taken the lane. Car behind her lays on the horn; then turns right fast behind her.

    There just isn’t any chance that 80% of the PDX public is going to EVER ride like that. You can beg for critical mass suggesting then and only then the cars will finally respect us. But it hasn’t moved the needle since 2008 to just ask people to do so. Yes, some successful Euro cities are now removing protected cycle tracks BECAUSE they finally reached critical mass and can do so. Yes, many side streets and applications can totally handle shared use.

    But the SINGLE impediment to advancing increased ride utilization is the split message coming from advocates about the pro/cons to the issue of separated tracks specifically in the locations that we would truly benefit the most.

    We can do all of the above 9 things and the 80% of the 8-80 year olds will STILL not bike.

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    • MaxD May 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

      I agree with you, Mike Owens. The strategy I propose for safer streets is something that I believe could happen in 2 years IF there is some advocacy for it. And I think it would mainly help 15-65 year olds. I hope this not the only thing we are working toward or dreaming about, but I think it is a smart, effective and attainable improvement that the current administration could accomplish within 2 years. Start with safe streets, elect some visionary in 2 years, then fix out infrastructure.

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    • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 11:55 am

      “specifically in the locations that we would truly benefit the most.”

      like sandy, foster, division, or barbur?

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      • Mike Owens May 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm


        We need a 2 ringed loop downtown, then the spokes out of it to get there. Separated.

        Adjunt to this are all of the many other low-traffic bikeway routes we are so cheaply creating today.

        Intersections will be important to both.

        Increasing bike density will be important to both becoming safer.

        But without that loop and spoke, we will never get the density of riders desired. Taking the lane is not the majority solution. (from someone who has no issues taking a lane, but would not do so with his 3 kids)

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        • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 7:25 pm

          downtown has a number of streets with lower traffic counts that could use an enhanced bike lane. even in europe actual physical separation is almost never used when cars are limited to such low speeds (~16 mph — one of the best things PBOT has ever done).

          sandy and barbur, on the other hand, need physical separation or a truly.

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    • wsbob May 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      For them to be receptive to riding, some people need a very inviting, low stress riding environment. In the best of conditions, riding out the street amongst motor vehicles, carries with it a level of stress, and danger, that some people just will not subject themselves to on a bicycle.

      Construct a number of interconnecting cycle tracks, or double spoke and loop system as you suggest, and many people may find the routes they provide, something viable to use for practical travel by bike. The system should be extraordinary in design and scope with a range of characteristics and features to draw appeal, avoiding the humdrum, uninspired utilitarian character that typifies much modern road infrastructure. Make it simple, beautiful, functional and fun, and people won’t be able to resist riding it.

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  • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Several frequent commenters here think that climate change is a major problem and that bikes are the solution, and we should focus on this message. A similar message would peak oil, or dependence on oil imports.

    I don’t think we should focus too much on these problems. While replacing car trips with bike trips can reduce oil use, many people will feel satisfied with buying a hybrid or electric car, or increasing transit use. And for climate change, the use of amount of carbon dioxide released to heat and cool buildings is a much bigger problem than the whole transportation sector. Better building insulation, efficiency, wind power and solar could provide most of the solution, unless people have other reasons to consider bikes too.

    If we want to encourage the use of bikes, we need to provide a more positive message than gloom about of climate change and oil dependence, especially since in the last 5 years the USA has greatly reduced oil imports, and global temperatures have not risen significantly. I am aware that there is a real problem, but the average voter is feeling less urgency.

    People in the Netherlands are not riding bikes in huge numbers because of climate change or political concerns about oil imports. They ride because it is fun, fast, easy, safe, and cheap.

    In politics, in marketing and in life, positive messages work. If you want to safe the world from climate change or peak oil, then talk about all the fun and positive things about bikes.

    Consider: Would you stop riding bikes if someone invented a fusion power plant that could provide very cheap electricity and self-driving electric taxis were everywhere?

    I would still ride bikes for fun, for exercise, for freedom to explore the city and countryside, freedom from traffic and parking, and to save money. These are positive things that are important no matter what someone thinks about CO2 and oil.

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    • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      no one is saying that they are “the solution”. concerns about the environment have had a huge impact on transportation policy in europe and people in portland care about climate change. i think it’s time that we stopped avoiding this effective message because we are afraid of antagonizing an already hostile minority. safety and sustainability are winning messages for cycling advocacy and it’s time we started using them to promote cycling specifically.

      at transportation town halls held recently in portland people who oppose cycling infrastructure made loud arguments that stayed “on message” . i heard the term “sewer fees” and “water bill” dozens of times. on the other hand, cycling advocates almost always made soft generic pleas for safety spending. hiding behind a generic “safety” argument because we are cowed by an effective and politicized bike backlash is not going to get us more bike facilities. hoping that novick/treat/hales will come to our rescue through some indirect non-voter approved “fee” is a feeble hope. if cyclists really want more infrastructure they need to start demanding it.

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      • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm

        And since some will doubt that Portland residents support action on climate change let me provide evidence:

        88 percent of them believe climate change requires us to change our way of life by driving less or living more simply.


        Climate change is a *winning* message in this town and cycling is cheap, effective, and tractable way to reduce our reliance on driving.

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    • David May 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Plus, getting run over by an electric car doesn’t feel any better for somebody on a bike…

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    • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      “And for climate change, the use of amount of carbon dioxide released to heat and cool buildings is a much bigger problem than the whole transportation sector.”

      Transport = 33%; Buildings (total, not just heating and cooling) = 39%.

      If getting rid of your gas furnace is easier for you than jettisoning the car, I wouldn’t want to stand in your way, but this blog is about bicycling and transportation so I’m not seeing see the problem with bringing this up.

      “If we want to encourage the use of bikes, we need to provide a more positive message than gloom about of climate change and oil dependence[…] I am aware that there is a real problem, but the average voter is feeling less urgency.”

      Can you explain?
      – there is a real problem
      – but voters feel little urgency
      – let’s talk about something else

      “People in the Netherlands are not riding bikes in huge numbers because of climate change or political concerns about oil imports. They ride because it is fun, fast, easy, safe, and cheap. In politics, in marketing and in life, positive messages work.”

      Well, sure. Today.

      But how did it become fun, fast, easy, safe, and cheap? I recall that the message in the Netherlands in the seventies was ‘Stop de kindermoord’ (stop the child murder).

      “‘Stop de Kindermoord’ was a powerful message, and it gathered widespread support among mainstream commentators and young urban political activists. In Amsterdam in the early 1970s, there were already organisations with the aims of demotorising cities, improving public transport, preventing the bulldozing of heritage sites and controlling pollution. These campaigners opposed the statist interventions of the Left and the laissez-faire economics of the Right, both of which they felt threatened the quality of urban life.”

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  • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Another big positive, for our family, is that kids and families can have transportation freedom with bikes. My 3 year old can ride her balance bike faster than I can power-walk. My 6 year old can ride his bike 1 mile to school in under 10 minutes; 3 times faster than he would walk that distance. When he is a couple years older, I want him to be able to explore the whole neighborhood with his friends, and ride to school independently, just like I did when I was 10 years old.

    When we go on family trips, a cargo bike or bike trailer lets the kids see the world and get fresh air, instead of being stuck on a bus or in a car. We can stop anytime if they need to get out and walk; we can bring their bikes so they can ride until they are tired.

    Even people who have never considered using bikes for transportation themselves will encourage kids to learn to ride a bike, and they might think is a great for teenagers and college students to ride to class or around town.

    In the Netherlands, a big reason that things changed in favor of bikes was due to an advocacy campaign around safety for kids. People wanted their kids to be able to walk and bike to school safely, and they wanted safe neighborhood streets for their children.

    In Oregon, there is a huge political majority in favor of street safety around schools and in neighborhoods, and there is a growing awareness that kids lives have become too isolated and controlled. People want to be able to give their kids freedom, but they afraid of traffic.

    Let’s give families a positive vision of streets safe for kids: safe for walking and riding bikes to school, safe for kids to get to the grocery store or local shops, and free from speeding traffic. People will vote for this, with their feet, their wallets and their ballots.

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  • caryebye May 15, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Bike are fun, bikes are a form of activism whether you like it or not.

    I’ve been 13 years car-free in this city — For the first 3 years I bused a lot, then biked a little, then from about 2004-2007 I was super heavily involved with SHIFT, and moved into full commuter mode, only because I got to know people doing the same and picked up bits and pieces and I had confidence and support to change…. around 2008 or 09 I decided to never drive a car again. I learned to move my entire art show set up by bike trailer, moved by bike twice, take my cat to the vet in a trailer, do all my shopping and run my business by bike.

    In recent years I’ve watched people who have lived by the way of the bicycle move over to owning cars — for many reasons — new job too far, wanting to go on vacations out of the area and biking takes too long, new family needs. Individually I guess I understand but as a whole, the bike life style is becoming less and less I’ve noticed among many peers. Kinda sad.

    But not all, I have a friend who is kicking ass at being a BIKE SUPERSTAR — refusing to believe the hype that you need a car at all. He’s moving incredible amounts of things to his new home via good trailer and does it without any sense of I’m better than you, but that it’s a way that goes along with values.

    All I know that I can do is be an example — I wanted to do more advocacy and get more people on bikes, talked a lot about starting a Bike Buddy program but ultimately I don’t have the energy for all the meetings and bureacracy — I do appreciate those who do those things.

    But I am worried that Portland is becoming more car-centric, the new folks moving here many not be as motivated to bike — the economy has improved people have more money and can afford the car lifestyle. The outercity people who would benefit from a bike lifestyle deal with less infrastructure and jobs that are far away and take three buses, so they drive.

    For me, I will ride my bike, I will ride it every day, night, to shows to events, to work, to camp. Once in a while I choose a non bike ride but it’s once in a while… and I’m so happy about that.

    Bike are fun, bikes are a form of activism whether you like it or not.
    By choosing to bike you are choosing for all your own reasons and that’s great and Thank you!

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  • Clark in Vancouver May 15, 2014 at 11:44 am


    We are people using bikes to get to the office, get home, go to dinner, get fit, or to have some fun. Some people use cars. Some people walk.

    I agree and would take it to another level and phrase it: “People sometimes bike, sometimes use cars and sometimes walk.” This includes more. Even the biggest gear heads who have their car as part of their identity, have walked and cycled. It’s not types of people.
    I think framing these things as choices that we all can take and benefit from is a good approach. Then it’s not “those people” getting something that “I’m not”, it’s “I and them are getting” one more thing than before.

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  • Glenn May 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    “Nail things to my door: 924 NE 65th. (Do not actually do this.)”

    But I’ve got these 95 theses…

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  • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Positive, popular infrastructure changes:

    1) 20 mph speed limits and engineering design for all residential streets in the city.
    2) Design all residential streets to reduce cut-thru traffic. If traffic counts show more than a certain # of cars per hour, that street gets diverters.
    3) Stripe crosswalks on all major streets, at every intersection. Some traffic engineers don’t like them, but people love crosswalks. They increase subjective safety, slow down driving, and encourage crossing.
    4) Allow residential bike corrals.
    5) Add bike and pedestrian signals to cross busy streets.
    6) Add more residential parking permit programs, make it effortless for neighborhoods to add new zones, automatically add new zone (unless neighborhood votes against) when parking gets full or many new buildings added. Use residential parking money to improve local streets in the zone.
    7) Change zoning to allow people to use their front yards and planting strips creatively, and add ADUs and “tiny houses” with much cheaper permits
    8) No-parking zones and no-drive zones on the streets immediately adjacent to schools at pick-up and drop-off times. The neighbors will be very happy, and more kids will bike or walk (at least for the last 1 or 2 blocks!)

    Commercial areas:
    Business want slow traffic so people can see their businesses while driving and pedestrians feel comfortable.
    1) Expand the street seats program, make it easy to apply
    2) Get bike corrals and staple racks put in as soon as they are requested.
    3) 20 mph speed limits in all local commercial districts (NE 23rd, NE/SE 28th, NE Alberta, SE Woodstock, etc)
    4) Road diets that add more parking, and bike lanes (similar to what was done on NE Multnomah, SE Division)
    5) Get ride of peak-hour parking restrictions (eg. NE Halsey), convert 3 lanes with center turn and bike lanes, or at least parking both sides with one lane each way.
    6) Convert 1-ways to 2-way streets
    7) In the long term, work with local commercial areas to support more pedestrian and bike access and reduced driving
    8) Slowly introduce market-based pricing for parking, with a local benefit district so the money is used to help the affected businesses.
    9) Reduce regulations and free up zoning to allow creative reuse of spaces. Portland is already doing a pretty good job of this. But business should be free to repurpose their parking lot for food carts or seating

    Major streets (More expensive and possibly more controversial, but I think city voters would still support these changes right now)
    1) Paint all legal crosswalks
    2) More signals (ped/bike only)
    3) Simultaneous green phases at major streets with bike lanes. For all intersections with 2 wide, multi-lane streets where left turns are difficult (Eg: NE Broadway, SE Powell, Cesar Chavez, SW Barbur, W Burnside, Everywhere in East Portland,)
    4) Reduce speed limits (20, 25 mph) in residential and commercial areas, max 30 mph anywhere in the city. It will be important to get the local shop owners and residents to show support for these changes, because out-of-neighborhoods commuters will complain at first. But is signal timing is changed, it really won’t affect commute times at peak hours.

    Off-street routes:
    1) Paths along the rivers and creeks are very popular. Portland, even the whole 3-county Metro area, as been willing to vote for natural areas and paths in the past.
    2) Metro and the city of Portland should both dedicate funding for bike paths and trails. Bonds can be put on the ballot if needed; they will pass.
    3) Complete and upgrade trails along both sides of the Willamette and along the Columbia / Hwy 30 all the way to St Helens, along the edge of the urban area, and along the major highways (84, 26).
    4) Use some of the funding to make a low-stress, recreation friendly path thru the city: http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/17/citys-green-loop-could-be-like-sunday-parkways-everyday-100088
    5) Fix connections between different paths, to enable seamless travel without going on streets; Eg Sellwood gap, 205 path to I-84 path, Gresham Fairview trail gaps, etc.

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    • Kari Schlosshauer May 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      Joseph E, you are a brilliant man. Keep on riding and bringing up good ideas.

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    • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      nice list. but i don’t see why we should advocate for road diets that increase parking. instead we should communicate evidence that road diets and bike facilities are often/typically associated with increases in business revenue.

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      • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 4:12 pm

        I agree that bike lanes would be better. This is my list of politically easy ideas which the majority of people in Portland would support right now. Everyone wants more parking, and I would rather accept more parking than to have a 4-lane speedway like NE Halsey at rush hour, or NE Glisan (east of 60th) before the recent road diet. Right now these kind of streets have parking on both sides for 20 hours a day, so it would not be a big change to the amount of parking available, but it would reduce speeding and make crossing the street much easier for people walking and riding bikes.

        2 general lanes and 2 bike lanes would be better. In the long term this should be the standard for all of the 40 foot wide roads. I hope we can build up the political will, over time.

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  • ed May 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I would like to see the focus changed to roads that are due for undergoing major redesigns rather than a focus on retrofitting. This is the best and most cost effective opportunity to install high quality segregated bike infrastructure. It is frustrating to see roads dug up and repaved without this in mind (e.g., SE Division, SE 17th, etc.). Lost opportunities…

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  • Mark Allyn May 15, 2014 at 12:12 pm


    I am a regular bicycle commuter (SE 42nd and Division to Intel Jones Farm near Hillsboro Airport).

    I have also been a non-car-owner since May 1, 1978.

    I have been generally satisfied with my experiences relying on my bicycle for about 80 percent of my transportation needs here.

    The times that I do go far for vacations or long erronds, I use either Zipcar or rent a car.

    I do hybrid (bike to max to bike) and have had very little issues. If I do that, my daily bike ride is still a minimum of 12 miles.

    I have been content with the infrastructures during my commute from SE Portland to Hillsboro. Sure, improvements can be made, but I have been content enough to use it for my long commute for the past six or so years.

    I recently went to suburban Boston to visit family for my 61st birthday and that trip taught me a lesson that Portland is quite nice for bicycling compared to many other areas.

    Sure, I had the occasional driver give me the four letter/middle finger salute, but I let those wash over me.

    The worst insult that I had was when i was walking my lighted bicycle (and wearing my lighted clear raincoat) on Peacock lane one Christmas and a man told his son to ‘stay away from that creep’, referring to me.


    Mark Allyn

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  • RH May 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Just a thought…maybe bikeshare will help. Not so much as by increasing bike commuting %’s…but I see these uniformly colored bikes as little bees that are buzzing around the city showcasing that anyone can rent one of these things (lowering the barrier of entry) by just doing quick trips, exploring, etc…

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    • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      I agree. Unfortunately, the city has not been willing to put up any local money for starting the system. I believe it is worth spending 2% of the city transportation budget for 1 year, to get this on the ground. It will not be a huge change, but it will be very helpful for some people, especially tourists and people who ride transit to downtown, and it will make a great alternative to transit for many trips in the central city.

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  • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Positive programs:

    Schools: 1) Expand advertising and make it super easy for parents to request a free or discounted bike for their kindergartener. For example, some Elementary school give out free back-packs and supplies to any family that needs it.
    2) Kids could request a free helmet and lights, and free or cheap bikes. This would be much cheaper than the city paying for Trimet passes and much much cheaper than yellow school buses.
    3) Build more secure, covered bike parking at every school. Involve David Douglas and other districts.
    4) Bike education for all ages: at least K, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 9th grades. Community groups could be paid to do the classes
    5) Information on bike and walking routes for all new and entering students; all K, 1st, 6th and 9th grade students, and all transfers, would get info on routes from home to school, and offers of bike train times, and advocates to call who would help with route planning and preparation
    6) Incentives and fun prizes for kids who bike the most days of the year, who bike the most during winter, the most miles, etc; like the reading challenge
    7) Get positive books, art and ideas about bikes into the curriculum and classrooms.
    8) Encourage teachers and staff to ride bikes to school and for recreation, and talk about it. Financial incentives for not driving or not using a school (or neighborhood street) parking space, and in favor of buying and repairing bikes. Secure staff bike parking

    City and County governments:
    1) Make clear steps for reaching bike commute goals for employees and staff
    2) Give bike commuters financial benefits (Transit passes and parking are currently subsidized by the county and city)
    3) Provide bikes, including cargo and e-bikes, for staff to share at all locations
    4) Educate police and code enforcement staff
    5) Funding for bikes (and lights etc) in low-income areas and for people on support programs.
    6) Get elected officials and administrators to commit to bike to work on a regular basis
    7) Fund bike share

    1) Fund long-distance bike routes as part of the state transportation program:
    Finish the Columbia River Gorge route, bike path parallel to Hwy 30 to Astoria, the Salmonberry Corridor, and a direct bike path along a north-south rail line thru the Willamette Valley
    2) Plan for 4 foot wide shoulders in all widening projects. Re-stripe existing roads to add 3 or 4 foot wide shoulders where possible (by narrowing travel lanes)
    3) Lower speed limits thru business districts and residential zones on state highways.
    4) Add more signals and provide for local access and cross-traffic in towns and cities

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    • Psyfalcon May 15, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      3) Lower speed limits thru business districts and residential zones on state highways.

      You have to be careful with this one, and work with the locals. Driving on state highways around the country, I hate when the road goes from 55 to 25 and not a thing about the road changes. Narrow the street, put in side walks, plant trees. Make it feel like 25 isn’t sitting still.

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      • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm

        Definitely. The goal should be to design the street to match the speed limit (or actually to encourage driving UNDER the speed limit). Traffic engineers can do this, if they are asked to do it.

        In the same way, when neighborhood streets and business district speed limits are lowered to 20 mph and eventually 15 mph, the streets should be redesigned to help drivers slow down. There are lots of ways to do this, and cheap methods with paint and planters will work for the short-term.

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        • stacia May 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm

          Traffic engineers can do it, sure. More immediately, property owners and groups of neighbors can do it, too. Most citations for stuff like property in the roadway are complaint-based, right? Stick some planters in your street to narrow the roadway and see how long they last. A little extralegal action…

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  • Joseph E May 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    What can we do as individuals?

    1) Ride your bike, for fun, for transportation, all the time
    2) Encourage friends, co-workers, and neighbors to try bikes.
    – Offer to help buy a used or new bike, and show what routes to take for transportation or recreation
    3) If you know how, help people fix up their bikes and maintain them
    4) Start a fun bike group. Have monthly or weekly rides to do whatever activities you like
    5) Do a fun bike ride for Pedalpalooza this June
    6) Make a fun, or educational, or geekly, or competitive bike ride this summer, post it to shift2bikes.com and other places
    7) Encourage friends to meet up for food or drinks, and ride bikes to get there
    8) Start a recreational or sport club, if you can’t find one to join that works for you
    9) Volunteer for a community bike group
    10) Make phone calls, write letters, go door-to-door for the BTA or another advocacy group
    11) Go to your neighborhood association meetings. Go to politician town halls and city meetings
    12) Vote

    If you get too busy or burned out, then just keep riding your bike.

    Be nice, be patient, be positive, make friends, not enemies, have fun.

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  • Adam May 15, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I think there has been too-much reliance on top-down policy support. Which is great in fair-weather times (think former Mayor Sam Adams), but bad

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  • Adam May 15, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    …in less fair weather times (think currentayor Charlie Hales). I think the next wave will be more private sector driven – businesses like New Relic with their bike friendly employee structures etc…

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  • Hazel May 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve been riding in Portland for 18 years and there have been some great improvements to cycling infrastructure. The wayfinding signs are awesome and didn’t exist when I moved here. The new bikes lanes and greenways with reduced speeds are also great. At the same time,lack of enforcement of any traffic laws/speed limits makes a huge barrier to cycling for a lot of people. What’s the use of having greenways if car drivers have learned that it’s an easy place to drive 30+ mph and not get stopped by pesky traffic lights? I also see more and more drivers treat stop signs as optional. On a daily basis it has become my responsibility to not get hit by drivers who are not looking/doing something illegal and it has really started to bum me out. I’ll continue to ride but it would be nice if I could enjoy the ride more.

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  • Kari Schlosshauer May 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    We need to make it easier to choose to bike — which is not the same as making the choice to drive harder, though that’s certainly part of it. Right now in portland I think we’ve talked about capturing the “interested but concerned” set, but haven’t done enough to address those concerns.

    Slower car traffic speeds, especially on our neighborhood streets. 20 is plenty.

    Our neighborhood greenways, which should be the spaces where we feel most comfortable walking and riding with our families, have turned into neighborhood cut-throughs. We ought to implement more of those creative and interesting diverted that help make our neighborhoods places for people.

    There should not be driving allowed above 5mph (if even necessary) in the area within two blocks of a school. Should there be some reason to need to drive one’s child to school, you/they can walk the last few hundred yards.

    Whenever construction displaces a sidewalk, bike lane, or crosswalk –even for an hour — it should be mitigated so that people can still walk, bike, and cross.

    Finally, we may be the ones who are complacent. If we don’t see the leadership we want, we need to speak up, demand it, create it ourselves through “temporary” ideas that show what’s possible, write letters, vote, run for office.

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    • gutterbunny May 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Well, not to split hairs, but the greenways being used by cars as short cuts are just as much the fault of the cyclists using the greenways as it is of those cars using them.

      I ride the most the SE ones quite a bit. And despite the fact that the arrows (or chevrons if you prefer) over the painted bike on the street in the street are directing the bikes to take the lanes on these streets, most riders still ride to the far right of the lane they are traveling in.

      If the bike riders took the lane as they are suppose to, traffic would be calmed and most drivers wouldn’t use them as a cut through.

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      • Mike May 15, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        Taking the lane for safety sake is great but when it becomes a middle finger to the 3,4,5, 8 cars behind you just trying to get from point a to b it is a little ridiculous. The rally cry of “take the lane” is tired and over used. The whole bike vs car debate on this blog is very, very tired. It is not unlike the republicans vs the democrats. There has to be a middle ground.

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        • spare_wheel May 16, 2014 at 7:49 am

          motorvehicles dominate our roads and often intimidate (or worse) vulnerable road users. calling for middle ground in this context is false equivalence.

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          • jeff May 16, 2014 at 5:16 pm

            so that whole “share the road” thing is lost on you, huh?

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          • Mike May 16, 2014 at 9:51 pm

            So what’s the answer then? Who is the majority(cars) going to listen to more, a cyclist riding on their soap box, or a cyclist that can relate to both sides. You always boast about how you make your own rules so go ahead dude and ride on!!

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  • grumpcyclist May 15, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    BikePortland has been a serious driver of the negative feeling wrt bicycling in this city. SOOOOO many of the articles over the last year or two have been about bike/car collisions, you’d think it was unsafe to bike in this town. In the same way that people think crime/murder rates are increasing because they see so many stories on the nightly news, people who read this blog probably believe that they’re bound to get smeared by a car if they ride a bike in this town, despite the fact that 6% of people commute by bike daily yet we have a MINUSCULE number of fatalities here in Portland.

    You want more people riding in this city? Stop chasing ambulances and start reporting more positive stories.

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    • Mike May 15, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Blame the authors of this site!!! You can’t deny the sensationalism that they bring to this argument. Stir the pot and watch the anti car posts flourish.

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  • stacia May 15, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve only skimmed the comments so forgive me if this has been covered already. Bikes are awesome and I think the bike scene and culture are a big part of Portland’s magic. But there are other things, too. One of the big things for me is the awesome painted intersections around town, like the one at SE Yamhill and 33rd or SE 9th and Sherrett in Sellwood. I lived in Portland for years before I figured out that they were all the work of one organization working with neighborhood communities and the city to make them happen — City Repair. Those intersections naturally slow traffic and add character to neighborhoods, and creating and maintaining them can bring together community members and all kinds of good stuff. Another example is the little wooden lending library boxes I’ve seen around town. There are all sorts of ways that people can engage with the city and their community and contribute to the awesomeness of this place rather than just soaking it in. Cycling is one way. Hosting a block party with your neighbors could be another, or, hey, participating in City Repair’s Village Building Convergence starting next week, during which all those awesome street murals will be repainted, among other things. I’d love to see more people involved in creating their environment, whatever part of it they have control over. That stuff catches on. Kind of like cycling.

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  • Mickey May 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Naked streets instead of naked rides.

    Abolish “bikey fun.”


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    • 9watts May 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      also worth cross-posting to the Ryan Egge discussion.

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  • SD May 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    What if the there were a bike advocacy group that was as dedicated to moving cycling infrastructure forward as the Portland Business Alliance is to moving the “business” agenda forward?
    The primary stumbling block/ bottleneck for cycling in Portland comes down to infrastructure. The current cycling advocacy groups appear to be absent in these discussions and absent in organizing a clear voice for advancing infrastructure. Nobody wants to burn political capital on infrastructure issues, but better infrastructure is core.
    There is a ton of grass roots support for better cycling infrastructure that needs to be mobilized into a coherent force. It is clear that elected officials in the county, city or BTA are unreliable on their own without popular pressure to justify their actions.
    I am psyched about everything thats happening with cycling in pdx except for the continued failures to create key infrastructure. Which is a big deal.

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    • gutterbunny May 15, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      Infrastructure isn’t necessarily the problem or solution. Look up all the studies you want to, but they don’t agree. Some show infrastructure (doesn’t matter the type) marginally helps, others show it makes things worse. Same with helmets, and just about every other thing that has been studied that might make bicycles “safer”.

      There are only two things that have a proven track record for improving safety in all the studies. Lower travel speeds and more non motor users on and around the roads. That’s it.

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      • SD May 16, 2014 at 10:30 am

        I am behind infrastructure primarily for access. I think the bike lanes etc. in Portland have been one of the major factors in getting people on their bikes and to choose bike commuting rather than their car. If there is a study that refutes this idea, which I think is fairly common, I would love to see it.

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    • Robert Burchett May 16, 2014 at 9:33 am

      As someone who hasn’t been a BTA member for years–perhaps it would be better to join the BTA and make it what you want than to criticize it? Or start that radical bike advocacy group you pine for? I pretty much advocate for bikes by riding one, but you have to give the BTA credit for being there on day 1, or maybe day 1.01 (there’s Portland bike history from before some of us were re-born as Portlanders).

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      • SD May 16, 2014 at 10:24 am

        I think the BTA is great for what it does and the priorities that it has chosen. And, I am happy to be a member and suport the BTA. I also don’t think fighting to change the BTA agenda would be a good use of time. Likewise, I can complement Portland city govt. for what has been accomplished. But, I think that the assumption that current leadership will follow through on the bike plans that have been established without explicit pressure/ encouragement from people is proving to be wrong.
        And I concede that I may be missing something, but I just haven’t seen the strong advocacy that reflects what many people want in cycling infrastructure.
        This is not to take away from the individuals who have spent a tremendous amount of time advocating for improved bike access. I would love to start a bike advocacy group to put more support behind all the indiviuals that show up for the meetings and push for better bike access, but I don’t have the time. If there was a group that took this on, I would support it as best I could. I also don’t think improved bike access is radical.

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  • Champs May 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Confession: I never read “Something Is Wrong”, nor do I intend to do so. Good is happening all around you, it’s simply not the change you expected to see.

    Portland is not the Utopia of New Urbanism because it isn’t a very urban place. It is a confederation of the Old City at its center, streetcar suburbs, and farm towns like Lents and St. Johns. Surely this is noticeable on 65th, much less the “frontier” of 82nd, which itself is only the central meridian of the Eastside. We are Mayberry, not Manhattan.

    But there’s good news.

    Portland still has smiling people on bicycles and shiny trains passing by an eclectic mix of gritty industrial legacy and gleaming new mixed-use high-rise live-work buzzword-compliant development for the creative class *anyway*. Give it more time to jell.

    Portland still believes in bikes. Portland’s busiest bikeways, e.g. Williams, Ankeny, and Clinton are living proof of that.

    Our nation-leading active transportation has slowed in growth, but it’s still improving. Small projects like neighborhood greenways keep going up, there’s more space on the Hawthorne bridge, and the list goes on.

    Bigger capital projects with higher profiles aren’t filling everyone’s wish list lately, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bright spots. Looking back from 2012, the CRC zombie has breathed its last gasp, the Morrison Bridge is separated from auto traffic, and TWO MORE such crossings are yet to come.

    We can do more, the question is how to proceed. I don’t think it’s in big ideas or more taxes, it’s by making sure the system is a complete solution. A few blocks of cycle track would make a statement, but probably not a very good one. We have neighborhoods to reach and gaps to close.

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    • spare_wheel May 15, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      We have neighborhoods to reach and gaps to close.


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    • GlowBoy May 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Nicely put, Champs.

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  • dwainedibbly May 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    One thing that I think we’re doing really well is that we easily forget how far above the rest of the country we are, even on a bad day. I love how we forget that and we demand more. I’m serious. It’s the only way we’re ever going to get better. The hand-wringing over the mural, 28th, N Williams, and every other “failure” serves to push us to strive for more infrastructure, more safety, more idealism. Keep it up, Portland!

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  • charlie May 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Is it possible that the bike community in Portland is too nice? By which I mean, going so far out of our way to avoid inconviencing drivers that we inconvenience ourselves?

    What I normally see is bikes trying *really hard* to avoid slowing down traffic. For my own part, I find myself avoiding faster streets just for that reason, and the worst us peddling uphill like a madman while feeling like a jerk for slowing down traffic. Or the other day, I saw some riding on the extreme outer inch of a one lane road so that cars would (just barely) have room to pass him. I wonder if the cars realized how hard that guy was working avoid slightly slowing them down?

    But really, we have no obligation to keep traffic moving quickly. In fact, a lot of the suggestions here involve lowering speed limits. So why not do it ourselves?

    To be clear, im *not* talking about a critical mass style protest of deliberately blocking traffic. Im talking about simply riding in a way that maximizes convenience and comfort for cyclists. This way, one cinfident cyclist can sing handedly create a strewt thats sliw enough for any beginner cyclist to enjoy. And it wont require any funding or laws changes at all.

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    • dwainedibbly May 16, 2014 at 4:25 am

      I’ll admit that I dislike slowing people down, but I came from a “polite” city. Portland is the same in that respet. It’s one of the nice things about living here, but it does have some of the effects you suggest. I keep telling myself (and others) to “Take the Lane!” but I’m not very good at actually doing it. Plus, even “fast” for me now would have been “slow” years ago. “Slow” now is “glacial”.

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    • Miss Forpe Stubb May 16, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Don’t anger the beast…

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    • spare_wheel May 16, 2014 at 8:13 am

      the erroneous belief that accommodation will decrease anti-bike rancor has led to internalization of anti-bike criticism. some advocates even argue that bikes don’t belong on the road (or at least some roads). as someone who almost always takes the lane i’ve had far more aggressive criticism from cyclists than motorists. motorists in this town are very accepting of lane taking — true “sharing” of the road.

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      • Dan May 16, 2014 at 10:21 am

        Except for the cars that rev their engine & ride on your ass when you’re in the lane, sure.

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        • charlie May 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

          Yeah I know that can be intimidating. But its all in your hear, they cant actually *do* anything. I trust Portland drivers enought to believe that they wont actually run you down deliberately

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      • gutterbunny May 16, 2014 at 10:49 am

        I’d have to agree with this. Having been a rider for roughly 35 years, I’ve seen pretty much all it over time. Air horns blasted in my ears as car drive pass, objects thrown at me, names, fingers. But in the last decade I get a lot less grief from cars than I do from other bike riders.

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      • GlowBoy May 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm

        For me it depends a LOT on how fast I’m going. If I’m really blasting along at 15+ and taking the lane, drivers tend to be pretty patient about being behind me.

        If I’m pootling at 8-10mph (feeling tired, going uphill, pushing a big headwind, pulling a trailer, riding the cargo bike, lots of reasons), not quite as much.

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        • spare_wheel May 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm

          cargo/utility bikes definitely get more grief. hopefully this will change over time.

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        • charlie May 16, 2014 at 2:29 pm

          Yeah, thats been my experience too. Wich of course is fi e if youre a strong and experienced who can maintain 15+ mph, but is pretty intimidating to less dedicated riders.

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          • GlowBoy May 17, 2014 at 9:17 am

            I think that’s an important barrier to entry for slower, less-confident cyclists, which we more-experienced riders aren’t always that aware of. The slower you go, the MORE you will get hassled by motorists, and the difference is night vs day.

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      • jeff May 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm

        that’s because when you “take the lane” you’re probably breaking the law as it is currently written. no where in the law does it state you can ride down the middle of the lane.

        “(1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not
        ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

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        • charlie May 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm

          That law is incredibly ambiguous. Whats ‘practical’? Some might say it means right smack on the edge, since thats technically possible. I interpret practicality as including safe, which means I want at LEAST 3 feet of space from parked cars. Until the courts weigh in, theres no way to know who’s right.

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        • spare_wheel May 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

          most of the time when i take the full lane i am doing so legally. the statute enables cyclists to control the full vehicle lane when they are travelling at the normal speed of traffic (typically less than 20 mph downtown and during peak hours).

          regardless, i strongly encourage everyone to jaywalk and jaybike whenever it’s safe to do so. unenforced statutes that are irrelevant to public safety should be violated whenever it’s convenient.

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          • 9watts May 17, 2014 at 10:52 am

            I like the way you think.
            This is how irrelevant or misguided or racist laws get changed.

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        • spare_wheel May 17, 2014 at 10:52 am

          most of the time when i take the full lane i am doing so legally. the statute you quoted allows cyclists to control the full vehicle lane when they are travelling at the normal speed of traffic (typically less than 20 mph downtown and during peak hours).

          regardless, i strongly encourage everyone to jaywalk and jaybike whenever it’s safe to do so. imo, unenforced statutes that are essentially irrelevant to the common good should be violated whenever it’s convenient to do so.

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  • Beth May 16, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Make biking and walking easy and CHEAP.
    Make driving inconvenient and EXPENSIVE.
    This is America. People only change their habits and thinking when conditions FORCE them to do so.
    For conditions to change, there has to be enough political will on the part of our elected officials (many of whom are the most resistant to change, oddly enough); or there has to be an upswell from the electorate (many of whom have their heads in the sand about the prevailing conditions).
    Sooner or later, we will not have the time or means to keep selling bicycling as “fun”, because conditions will have become too dire for that. We can either create the conditions, or be re-created by them.

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    • Dan May 16, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Doesn’t have to be artificial either. Just charge the true cost of gasoline, parking, studded tires, safe facilities for the vulnerable road users they endanger, road upkeep, expanded safety instruction, etc. Auto use is HEAVILY subsidized.

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  • Robert Burchett May 16, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Here’s a positive change I’d like to see: All Central Precinct Portland Police patrols by bicycle, period. No worst day of the year cop-outs. They can keep a paddy wagon standing by in case they think somebody needs lunch and a shower on the county tab. Also a SWAT team in case somebody needs to be shot several times. Response time in a two mile radius from the station: Faster– I have professional knowledge of this. Traffic patrols? No problem. If you can’t catch them at the next light (rare), take the footage off the handlebar camera and mail them a ticket.

    This would radically change the relationship between PPD and people riding bikes in a matter of weeks.

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    • GlowBoy May 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      If PPB were only allowed to get in their cars to do traffic patrols, that might also give them a strong incentive to actually enforce traffic laws.

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  • Brian May 16, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I’ll take a slightly different approach, riding dirt. Many of us do not begin as commuters, we begin as BMX’ers and MTB’ers. Then we realize that we really like riding *all* bikes, and we begin riding on the road too. We become cyclists, no longer just mountain bikers. The MTB culture in Portland is sorely lacking, mainly because our “infrastructure” needs have not been met locally either. There isn’t a single, legal, public dirt jump for kids (of all ages) anywhere in Portland. Not one. That is sad. There isn’t a single decent trail in Portland that I can ride with my son who is a beginner rider (we drive to Cascade Locks to ride trails), and there is only one very short trail in Riverview that I enjoy as an advanced rider. If the mountain bike community can get more support from the cycling community, we all benefit. Just as cyclists would like to point out to drivers how better cycling opportunities benefit everyone, mountain bikers would like to point out the same to our non-dirt-riding cyclist friends.

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    • Dabby May 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      In relation to Brian’s comment, some of the best inner city dirt riding is happening by our all ages of citizens at the NWTA and Portland Parks Ventura Park Pump Track, 113th and SE Stark..
      Talk about a positive Eastside Cycling Experience…
      These are our future commuters, racers, mtb’ers.
      Learning handling skills in the park that will help them immensely when they hit the streets.

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  • TOM May 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

    How about keeping the citizens safe without resorting to a blackmail scheme … “If you don’t accept a monthly street fee, then no safety improvements for you”….I call BS.

    and I hope somebody competent runs against Hales , tho I voted for him ..a mistake, in retrospect.

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  • TOM May 16, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I don’t have the source anymore, but what really fried me was the city “is required to spend 2% of it’s budget (general ?) on public art” …. quoted is as I remember it.

    They have paid for some real junk. The “Money Tree” sculpture at 205 & Powell MUP ..the “Flappy Wings” at 205 MUP by Johnson Creek , the “Sunrise” at the MAX stop at 189th & Burnside and various things along the Esplanade …

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  • Kathy May 17, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I live in Syracuse, NY and visit this website regularly for inspiration and moral support. Your (mostly) positive and constructive thoughts and ideas give me hope for a brighter future here. As a teenager and young adult in the 1970s, I lived and bicycled in Portland. (I also walked a lot and rode the bus. I didn’t learn to drive until several years later when I lived in Chicago.) Portland in the ’70s was more liveable and bicycle-friendly than Syracuse is today. Our big bicycle issue in Syracuse right now is a half-mile stretch of street that leads into (and out of) Syracuse University. Far and away, that is the most bicycled stretch in Syracuse. And there are lots of people who would ride their bikes there if they considered it to be safe, which nobody–bicyclists, pedestrians, nor drivers–does. And yet, it is entirely possible that nothing will change because of the precious parking. So, thank you, Portlanders, for the progress you have made and for forging onward. I recognize your struggles, but I appreciate your progress and your light!

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  • El Biciclero May 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    If driving is the new smoking, then parked cars are like cigarette butts and parking lots are ashtrays.

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