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33 questions that’ll shape Portland bike news in 2015

Posted by on January 2nd, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Burn Road Loop in Vernonia-17

Will race promoters suffer from the
allure of the open (gravel) road?
(Photos: J. Maus unless otherwise noted)

As we wrote this time last year, predictions are for suckers.

It’s way cooler (and much safer, if anybody happens to look back with hindsight) to list the things you don’t know yet. So, once again, we’ve done our best to anticipate the questions that’ll shape Portland’s next year of biking news.

Are we asking the right ones? Which have we forgotten? Add your own in the comments. Or, if you’re a daredevil, try laying down some answers in advance.

City politics and funding

PBOT Transportation Needs Tour-1

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick is
in for a huge win or a devastating loss.

Will any of the holdouts on Portland’s city council — Dan Saltzman, Nick Fish or Amanda Fritz — join Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick to approve a relatively flat transportation income tax in the early weeks of 2015? If so, how well-funded will the opponents be — and will they get the 20,897 signatures required to send the issue to voters?

Will the City of Portland’s neighborhood parking stakeholder committee settle on a plan this spring to redesign the city’s paid parking permit system? Will it recommend that the proceeds go to PBOT’s general fund, or be set aside for neighborhood-specific improvements?

Will Mayor Charlie Hales have a credible challenger for the 2016 election by the end of this year? If so, what issues will he or she choose to run against? What about Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick?

Fun on bikes

Green Way

Tilikum Crossing will open in August, with Providence
Bridge Pedal participants getting the first ride.
(Photo: Will Vanlue)

Will 2015 be the year that Portland finally gets some local single track for mountain biking? Two major possibilities are the Forest Park area and Riverview property — both of which are stalled due to politics and other complications.

Will someone figure out how to create a BB-8 costume for this June’s Star Wars vs. Star Trek ride?

Will the new Tilikum Crossing Bridge live up to the hype after its big debut in the Bridge Pedal ride in August?

Will unsanctioned gravel and adventure riding continue its huge growth and lure riders away from competitive racing events?

Will the Grand Prix of Portland find the sponsors it needs to bring a high-profile professional bike race to our streets in August?

Street projects

Could a new type of American street rise from
the ashes of the 20s Bikeway?
(Rendering: Kirk Paulsen, Nick Falbo, Brian Davis)

Will Union Pacific Railroad and the City of Portland finally strike a firm deal on a legal railyard bike route between Swan Island and the Rose Quarter area, in time for Daimler Trucks North America to expand its workforce in 2016?

Will Old Town create a local business district that could pay for a permanent redesign of 3rd Avenue? Will the result include a protected bike lane, or just a pedestrian plaza?

Will property and business owners on 28th Avenue find common ground with bike advocates over a proposed “commercial greenway” on 28th Avenue?

Will the city keep making changes to the troubled redesign of North Williams? Will it also avoid an organized backlash from bike lane opponents?

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Now that ODOT’s own study has shown big advantages of adding continuous bike lanes to Barbur Boulevard, will the agency prioritize improvements? Will state legislators or other officials apply pressure from Salem?

Will Washington County agree to build its first modern protected bike lane on Merlo Road near Nike? Will it be contagious?

Will a firm plan for a top-notch bikeway on Southwest, Northwest, North and Northeast Broadway finally get the city’s first world-class on-street bike route (not a project, but a complete A-to-B route) underway?

State politics and funding

east 82nd

82nd Avenue could finally get in line for upgrades.
(Photo: Elly Blue)

Will a grand alliance of transportation interests (including gas stations) convince Oregon’s legislature to hike its gas tax?

If so, will the projections for future gas consumption be revised downward, the way that Washington state’s newly cautious projections were?

Will the package include a surcharge that would pay for state-owned city streets like 82nd Avenue or North Lombard to finally be transferred to local control?

Public strategies and priorities

People walking - SE Powell at 93rd-1

Is there room for bikes on SE Powell?

What will Portland’s survey of neighborhood greenway data reveal about their usage? Will the results be seen as a sign that it’s more important to rapidly expand the network, or to improve the existing routes?

Will the Portland Police Bureau finally get serious about bike theft by developing an internal program to address the issue?

How much staff time will the City of Portland allocate in fiscal year 2016 to its half-funded but seemingly back-burnered bike share project?

What will the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s two-year work plan — the one that’s supposed to have a road map to a Vision Zero policy — look like?

Will early plans for TriMet’s Powell-Division bus rapid transit project preserve any space for bike lanes? How much?

Private services and economics

North Portland Bikeworks new location-11-10

An essential part of urban
bike infrastructure.

Lents finally got a new bike shop in 2014. Will any follow its lead where local shops are needed even more: east of Interstate 205?

What regulations will Portland manage to put on Uber-style companies before the ride-hailing service launches permanently in April?

Will Uber’s Portland fleet include the bike racks being piloted in Seattle?

With a new corporate team in charge of Alta Bicycle Share, will the mystery sponsor that got cold feet last spring and killed Portland’s impending bike share launch return to the table in order to get its name on the system?

Will gas prices keep falling? If they do, will the number of miles driven by the average Oregonian climb for the first time since 1999?

Land use and development

The Lloyd District could become a heart of
Portland biking culture if a few things go right.
(Rendering: GBD Architects)

When the 657-apartment Hassalo on Eighth project in the Lloyd District opens for leases, will it fill up as quickly as the rest of the city’s low-car apartment projects have? Will it land the grocery store that would truly transform the Lloyd?

Once the new bridge links the South Waterfront and inner Division, will SoWa’s Zidell family find a development project that looks lucrative enough to sell off their barge business? Will Fred Meyer pull the trigger on a long-planned small grocery store in the South Waterfront?

Will anti-demolition advocates find a way to reduce demolish-and-rebuild projects in central Portland without also blocking density increases?

Will the City of Portland’s building boom keep outpacing Washington County’s, or will the suburbs catch up?

And finally:

Is somebody going to call in a code violation on the “Keep Portland Weird” mural, or what?

Please support BikePortland.

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

43 Comments
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    9watts January 2, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Yeah, I think we’re ready for Vision Zero!

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    SeattleGuy January 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Gotta say, reading this makes me really grateful to have folks as smart and rigorous as you and Jonathan doing bike journalism. Happy new year.

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    Oregon Mamacita January 2, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Is this the year we consider whether a “macho” attitude towards how we get around is productive? Is this the year we think about how to protest without bullying the general public? Is this the year we face reality re: 30% mode share? Is this the year that we ask ourselves if this blog is an echo chamber? Is this the year we reflect on whether we followed a false prophet and to ask ourselves why?

    Nah. But prove me wrong.

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      davemess January 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      You lost me on the “false prophet”. Is it Steve Novick?????

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        Oregon Mamacita January 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm

        Hart Noecker.

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          davemess January 4, 2015 at 9:10 am

          ha

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            davemess January 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

            apologies for this comment. Apparently I didn’t know any of this background. I was simply responding to the fact that I (as I’m sure others) don’t view Hart as a very integral or influential person in the large spectra of Portland and “cycling community here”.

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        Oregon Mamacita January 3, 2015 at 11:55 am

        My response keeps disappearing.

        Novick is no prophet, false or otherwise. He is who he is.

        Davemess, there is a storm brewing about a particular bike activist, and I can only hint. That was my reference. Google bike swarm upcoming meetings.

        Hopefully this message makes it past the censors.

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          Adam H. January 6, 2015 at 3:45 pm

          Oh yes, Hart Noecker is a bucket of fun…

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      Chris I January 2, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Happy new year to you, too!

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    random January 2, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    “Will it land the grocery store that would truly transform the Lloyd?”

    You do know that there is a Safeway within walking distance of the Hassalo on Eighth project, right?

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      Huey Lewis January 2, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      That Safeway should be ignored. It’s a terrible shopping experience. At all hours of the day it’s understaffed. The produce is meh. The Safeway organics brand is lame. Etc.

      All Safeways should probably be ignored. They all suck.

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        random January 2, 2015 at 6:01 pm

        “That Safeway should be ignored.”

        It’s the unique Portlandia definition of a “food desert” – an area not served by a high-end grocery store. Regular supermarkets don’t count.

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          Sigma January 3, 2015 at 10:13 am

          But their organic brand is lame! It’s like Mogadishu out there!

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          Psyfalcon January 3, 2015 at 5:58 pm

          Well, if you look at it from a low income point of view, the long lines waste a ton of time that many people don’t have. 2 lanes open with 10 people in line?

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        Adam H. January 5, 2015 at 10:59 am

        The Safeway on Powell and Cesar Chavez is particularly bad. It’s at the corner of two very busy, not bike-friendlly streets and is fronted by a massive parking lot.

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      Bella Bici January 2, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      … plus, have you observed how dismal their bike parking is?! A single darn wave rack installed too close to the wall with the pest control rat poison station right in the way. As compared to that huge two level parking garage, yep, bikes are left with facilities reflecting only cursory afterthought.

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        davemess January 3, 2015 at 8:29 am

        Is that rack full though?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 4, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      The only variety of grocery store snob that I’ll plead guilty to being is the kind who prefers not to cross a street like Weidler while walking to his grocery store. But you’re right, and I’m sure this is why they’ve struggled to land the New Seasons/Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s that they obviously want.

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    gutterbunnybikes January 2, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I though Foster was starting in the next year, (and no mention of it here) am I wrong?

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      davemess January 3, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Supposed to be happening this year (hopefully fall?). After the crazy delays on 52nd though I”m not holding my breath.

      (Plus it’s too far out and would hurt the narrative that Portland isn’t doing anything for bikes 🙂

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 4, 2015 at 9:59 pm

        Ha! Okay, I’ll semi-cop to that.

        The Foster restriping, when it happens, is going to be a big improvement for biking, no question, and I expect it to be a major flashpoint — one of the most controversial in years and potentially a central issue in the 2016 political campaigns. But that’ll only come together after it’s built. The city’s site says “design and construction is scheduled for 2015-2016,” which is why it didn’t make the cut for this list.

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          davemess January 5, 2015 at 9:20 am

          Ah they kept telling us 2015 at the SAC meetings, but I know these things can be delayed. Just hope it happens before I move away.

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          Adam H. January 5, 2015 at 11:01 am

          Huge improvement for biking? Hardly. There are only conventional, door-zone bike lanes being installed. Foster should be getting raised or protected cycle tracks. This could have easily been done if the center turn lane was left out.

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          • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
            Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 5, 2015 at 12:12 pm

            Don’t get me wrong, it could have been much, much better! But a road diet of this scale on a diagonal-cutting street would be big even if there weren’t striped bike lanes being added for most of its length, which there are.

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              Adam H. January 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm

              I’m glad that the city is taking steps to improve access and walkability to a notoriously dangerous stretch of road. This will almost certainly result in more people-friendlyness and commercial development of the area.

              What I am disappointed in is that the city had the chance to build world-class bike infrastructure and opted to put in sub-par paint-on-the-road bike lanes in order to maintain auto access (the center turning lane).

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                davemess January 5, 2015 at 1:53 pm

                “What I am disappointed in is that the city had the chance to build world-class bike infrastructure and opted to put in sub-par paint-on-the-road bike lanes in order to maintain auto access (the center turning lane).”

                Sorry Adam but this is just short-sighted. There are a number of different stakeholders around Foster, not just people riding bikes. (and it remains to be seen that separated cycle tracks on a diagonal road (with more/longer intersections) would even be that effective). You can call it “maintain auto access” all you want, but removing the center turn lane would lead to even more traffic overflow into the surrounding neighborhoods. i won’t even get into the fact that the budget for the project did not include money to fund cycle tracks.
                Unless the traffic volumes were grossly underutilizing the road it doesn’t make sense to cut the road from 4 lanes (5 in some places) to 2 overnight. That clearly isn’t the case on Foster.

                Consider this a gradual improvement. (i.e. in 10-20 years if traffic continues to go down on Foster maybe they think about taking the turn lane out).

                This will be a huge improvement for people walking/biking and living around Foster.

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    Mossby Pomegrante January 2, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    #1 question: Will Maus stop allowing his favorite posters to run the forum?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      #1 answer: I don’t even know what you are referring to Mossby. You seem to have a fascination with that conspiracy. No one “runs” this comment section except me. My big question for you in 2015 is… Will you start to actually join in a productive conversation about the issues and spend more time telling us what you think about the issues than focusing so much on me and how I moderate the comments?

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    wsbob January 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    “…Will Washington County agree to build its first modern protected bike lane on Merlo Road near Nike? Will it be contagious? …” andersen/bikeportland

    Are you saying this will not be a main lane separated cycle track, but simply one of those improved bike lanes ‘protected’ only by a two inch elevation above road grade? What’s the holdup? Nike ought to pull the stops to get a a cycle track built on Walker, ASAP.

    I’ve heard confirmed from a family member Nike employee, the word shared by some people commenting to bikeportland stories, that many employee’s bikes are parked in lobbies of Nike buildings. Many bikes in lobby buildings may mean those riding them would really appreciate some relief from the intense motor vehicle traffic on Walker.

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      rick January 2, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      parts of the eastern parts of walker rd are in West Slope (unincorporated Washington county; ot Beaverton)

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      wsbob January 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Answered my own question by checking the earlier bikeportland story: “…We reported in January that Washington County was considering a 1.8-mile curb-protected bike lane along Walker Road, which runs along the north edge of Nike’s current campus and its planned expansion, as part of a road widening and sidewalk improvement. …” andersen/bikeportland

      Curb protected bike lanes aren’t much of an improvement over main lane adjacent bike lanes. In fact, the curb can make conditions worse for people wishing to ride at more than a modest ten or twelve mph. If the bike lane were to have a ten or twelve foot width that would support biking and walking together, that would be something.

      Rick, thanks for the reminder that Walker extends further east through Washington County, far past the Nike campus. The proposed bike lane being directly adjacent to the Nike campus is the plum on top of the pudding, so to speak. It’s presence there, sufficiently well imagined and built, would help further showcase Nike as one of the county’s top of the class, visionary companies.

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    Tom January 3, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Can you get from the Beaverton Creek Max station to the Hollister Trail right next to it? Map shows it does not connect.

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      wsbob January 3, 2015 at 11:51 am

      In mentioning Hollister Trail, you’re likely referring to Nike’s for use by employees only running trail on the company’s privately owned tract of woodland just south from the campus across Jenkins.

      No access to the woods on their south side, directly across from the station, is something people have complained about in comments to past bikeportland stories. Besides the woodland being privately owned and exclusive to use of employees, I suppose friends and guests as well, a couple other reasons the company wouldn’t want access on that side of the woodlands, occur to me.

      Driving and riding by on 153rd, I think I’ve noticed what is an access to the trail on the woodland’s west side, not a far walk from the station. Security rides around the trail on little motor scooters, so you don’t want to be just wandering through there unless you’re an employee, or at least look like one.

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      jered January 3, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      not directly from the Max Station, you need to hit the road on either side of the station and then you can duck into the trail.

      I’m betting the trail sees a good amount of Non Nike use, I see folks in non sport attire walking there all the time and folks in Non Nike shoes running there all the time as well.

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    Peter W January 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Will Novick and city of Portland put any pressure on ODOT to address the lack of safe and standard facilities for people biking and walking the Barbur viaducts?

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    Scott B January 4, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Huey Lewis
    That Safeway should be ignored. It’s a terrible shopping experience. At all hours of the day it’s understaffed. The produce is meh. The Safeway organics brand is lame. Etc.
    All Safeways should probably be ignored. They all suck.
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    As a 1 year resident of the Lloyd District I have darkened the doorway of that Safeway 3 times – its an AWFUL STORE!

    I regularly ride over to the Pearl Safeway rather than go there

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    Scott B January 4, 2015 at 11:59 am

    random
    “Will it land the grocery store that would truly transform the Lloyd?”
    You do know that there is a Safeway within walking distance of the Hassalo on Eighth project, right?
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    As I mentioned above, the Lloyd District Safeway is pretty much worthless, I’ve lived in the Lloyd District now for a year and I’ve used that store maybe 5 times.

    As a Farmers Market and Food cart eater 80% of the time all I need is basic supplies and that Safeway Store can’t even supply that.

    I regularly use the Pearl District Safeway when I need basic groceries and every once in a while I go to Fred Meyer or Whole Foods/Natures to supplement the Farmers Market.

    Mossby, I second Jonathan’s Question – When will you finally shut up about the conspiracy and actually participate?

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    Dwaine Dibbly January 4, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Whenever I think about the future of this City, I get depressed and feel like we’re headed not to “Vision Zero” but rather “Zero Vision”.

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    Jonathan Gordon January 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I would love to see an article where you review last year’s questions! There’s a bunch of assumptions built in (e.g., that bike share was a done deal) that prove that sometimes even asking questions doesn’t make you safe from making predictions.

    http://bikeportland.org/2014/01/03/27-questions-about-local-biking-in-2014-and-only-one-is-fake-99412

    Thanks for all the great work that you do!

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Yeah, that was my original plan, but after two other 2014 recaps I decided we’d had enough. We’re overdue for a post that would turn the page on the bike share story, which I agree was the biggest chunk of egg on my face last year, prediction-wise.

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        davemess January 5, 2015 at 1:43 pm

        No shame in being optimistic!

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    Kelly Francois January 6, 2015 at 10:51 am

    I keep my fingers crossed for a firm plan for Broadway. My family and I moved to Sullivan’s Gulch in May – and this area has so much potential. In addition to being bikable and walkable, the area gives us carfree access to the NE, the SE and downtown Portland with multiple modes of transportation – plus, some of the most affordable rents in the inner East side. In my little slice of Sullivan’s Gulch heaven, we have gorgeous Irvington style houses mixed in with multi-family beauties from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and even some newer construction from the 80’s and 90’s. However, Weidler and Broadway in the current form, are destroying the neighborhood. They are both high speed highways smashing through a historic part of the city. NE Broadway, with all of it’s charming storefronts, isn’t nearly as walkable or bikeable as it should be, because of the design of the street. Some street calming measures, along with a protected bike lane, could transform this hidden gem of an area. Along with the transformations of the Lloyd District, we’ve got to start focusing on the people that live here instead of the cars that speed through.

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