Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Portland’s Platinum downgrade petition finds support, nears 500 signatures

Posted by on April 15th, 2015 at 11:05 am

Looks like the grassroots effort to get a national organization to officially downgrade Portland from its lofty Platinum bicycle-friendly status has some legs. Nearly 500 people have signed on in under two days.
Not only have petition authors Will Vanlue and Paul Jeffery struck a chord with Portlanders, they’ve also succeeded in getting major local and national attention for the idea. Today at noon Vanlue will join League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show. Bicycling, a large national magazine has picked up the story. And, closer to home, The Oregonian has covered it too.

In The Oregonian, Rob Sadowsky, the leader of the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance, downplayed the general importance of the ranking but also said he wouldn’t mind if we were downgraded because, “We know there’s room for growth.”


The BTA’s Advocacy Director weighed in on the petition this morning via a blog post titled, Personal Reflections on Portland and Platinum. Kransky said the major “challenges” Portland faces right now has to do with lack of funding and a lack of political support at City Hall:

“If we had a fully funded transportation bureau I have no doubt that Leah Treat would be leading us to more safe routes to school projects, new protected bike lanes, improvements in neighborhood greenways, and better conditions on the street for people who ride bikes… If we had more champions for street safety in City Hall they would have passed a new street fund months ago.”

Then Kransky put out a call-to-action:

“So I ask you this, if you are upset by a perceived lack of progress on bicycling issues in the City of Portland,what are you going to do about it? Are you going to complain to a Washington DC based group that has no decision making authority over the issues we face? Or are you going to step up and lead a movement to help our city fully fund its street safety goals and expand public support for bicycling in City Hall?”

Regardless of what happens next, Vanlue and Jeffery have certainly started a conversation. Whether all the words will lead to action — either on the part of Portland leaders and policymakers or from the League itself — remains to be seen.

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  • Justin Morton April 15, 2015 at 11:08 am

    This feels like a really passive aggressive attempt to get Portland to invest more in bike transportation. There’s gotta be a better way.

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    • Brad April 15, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      If it’s worth doing in Portland, it’s worth doing passive aggressively.

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    • q`Tzal April 15, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Nothing else seems to work; maybe passive/aggressive and Onion or Daily Show style satire and snark deserve a try.

      Why don’t we have a Portland Bike Onion? Is it something about NYC that creates John Stewart and BikeSnob?

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    • Tony T
      Tony T April 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      “Passive aggressive: being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)”

      This isn’t passive aggressive at all. Unorthodox perhaps, but there is nothing here that meets the definition of passive aggressive. It’s intent to get the city to quit resting on its laurels and allocate more funding is pretty upfront and direct.

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      • shotdown April 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm

        2nd. Tony! Thanks for your pointing this out. Not passive in the least. Its raising attention and holding those we elect to pay attention.

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      • Mindful Cyclist April 16, 2015 at 10:09 am

        Thank you, Tony! I truly wish people would learn what the term passive aggressive means before they start using it.

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      • GlowBoy April 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

        Thank you! The term “passive aggressive” is ridiculously overused these days.

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    • Frank April 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      Better ideas welcome. Haven’t worked yet.

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    • Dave April 16, 2015 at 7:20 am

      As a bike racing fan of many years, it is my observation that great things can be achieved by passive aggression–it’s called stage racing strategy.
      The most famous passive-aggressive cases on two wheels? Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, Greg LeMond.

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  • Gerik April 15, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I’m just going to leave this here, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

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    • Justin Morton April 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      I sincerely hope this approach works. For now, it seems counterproductive. But I hope I’m wrong.

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      • canuck April 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm

        Why counter productive. The platinum rating has been used to promote a system that has not kept up with the intent of the award.

        Compare this to a restaurant health inspection, just because they got an A rating last year doesn’t mean they’ve earned an A rating this year.

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        • was carless April 16, 2015 at 8:19 am

          Its always been a laughable idea that Portland has reached the pinnacle of bicycling nirvana.

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  • Gregg April 15, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Fund and build the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan now.

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    • oliver April 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

      is that when Parks wants to discuss MTB access at RVNA?

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      • Psyfalcon April 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

        No the 2030 bicycle master plan is for on road cycling.

        Its been done and signed off but not funded for 5 years.

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        • paikiala April 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm

          So, the 20’s is not part of the 2030 plan, and neither is SE 19th, nor the Sacramento greenway connection from the 50’s to 77th/Alberta, or the 50’s for that matter?
          Not funded for 5 years?

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          • Terry D-M April 15, 2015 at 6:59 pm

            Is Sacramento and the connection from 47th to 53rd to 77th actually funded? I was told yes it would get built….last fall……then it never appeared.

            A better question from above is what forward thinking bike projects has THIS administration started the process for? So far, everything mentioned is a legacy of the Adam’s administration.

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            • paikiala April 16, 2015 at 10:07 am

              Work orders for 53rd, Sacramento to Halsey bumps; Sacramento, Sandy to 77th bumps; bumps on 67th, 72nd, Sandy to Sacramento, and 77th, Alberta to Sacramento; sharrows and the refuge islands on 57th at Sacramento have all been approved. Bumps are only built April to September. West of 53rd was not funded as part of the Sacramento project.

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    • was carless April 16, 2015 at 8:19 am

      >Fund and build the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan now.

      Unfortunately, there is no legal imperative for the city to do so.

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  • Brad April 15, 2015 at 11:36 am

    It seems that this petition and the surrounding hoopla, in a perverse way, actually strengthens Portland’s status as a great bike city.

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    • Bill Walters April 15, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Or at least a great city for politicizing biking.

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      • q`Tzal April 15, 2015 at 1:25 pm

        Gotta show we can be politically damaging before they have any reason to pay attention to us.

        Because, you know, DYING isn’t good enough.

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        • Bill Walters April 15, 2015 at 3:21 pm

          Aw, I’m with ya. Just wanted to amp up the distinction from being great for the actual biking of biking.

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  • Brian April 15, 2015 at 11:50 am

    As an advocate for off-road cycling in Portland (that this petition somewhat addresses), I see this as an additional lever. It will not replace the small group of dedicated, intelligent people who volunteer time out of their lives to improve our cycling scene. I would love to see all cyclists supporting one another, and working against the forces who seem to oppose us. Maybe we need a Bicycling Alliance?

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  • Alan 1.0 April 15, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Then Kransky put out a call-to-action:

    So I ask you this, if you are upset by a perceived lack of progress on bicycling issues in the City of Portland,what are you going to do about it? Are you going to complain to a Washington DC based group that has no decision making authority over the issues we face? Or are you going to step up and lead a movement to help our city fully fund its street safety goals and expand public support for bicycling in City Hall?”


    That reads to me like an exclusive “or.” I hope Kransky means it as in inclusive “or.” Politics in a democracy (even a republic) are always swirling with a multitude of interests. Many of those interests share at least some common direction, and while the specific direction of one may vary slightly from another, the overall result is a force for movement in a direction generally desired by the majority. To me, anyway, demanding that I march in lock-step with one faction or another is a sure way to get me to renounce interest in any faction at all.

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    • Psyfalcon April 15, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Putting pressure on LAB puts pressure on the tourism industry. They are a significant part of the pressure put on city hall.

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      • Alan 1.0 April 15, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        Yeah, for sure. It’s not an either/or proposition, either. Support that and BTA and NWTA and CCC and B4HPDX and BikeLoud and Shift and OBRA and BAC and others, or any combo that spins your crank. For his Margaret Mead quote, I’ll give Kransky the benefit of the doubt that he means IN-OR.

        BTW, I see Vanlue’s petition is over 500 and heading for 1k. Way to go, Will, and great job on OPB today.

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    • Craig Harlow April 16, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Agreed. Kransky’s “either/or” is a false dichotomy…

      In this instance, complaining “…to a Washington DC based group that has no decision making authority over the issues we face…” has had a pretty significant attention-getting affect, so I’d say that was a rather effective choice on the part of Will and Paul (smart move, fellas).

      And it evidently hasn’t hampered their being extremely active for a long time in a variety of movements to improve cycling in Portland.

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  • Joe April 15, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    gosh I really would love some trails without so much conflict.

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  • davemess April 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Kransky clearly has A LOT of faith in Treat and PBOT.
    Can’t say I share his trust.

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    • Terry D-M April 15, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Having worked fairly closely with the bureaucrats, I tend to trust them at this point. They need to put their money where their mouth is however: Leah Treat said she was going to focus on road re-striping this year due to its cost effective safety benefits. I want to see a list for this summer and see it done.

      More generally, it is leadership from city council that is lacking. The Mayor, PBOT and Park’s all have marginalized bikes from the beginning of this administration. But hey, they will approve the climate action plan so all is good….

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      • davemess April 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

        “put their money where their mouth is”

        Isn’t this required for you to trust them first? Otherwise they’re just spouting words with no meaning. Portland government and PBOT have said A LOT of things over the years.

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  • Adam H. April 15, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Our main problems are the spineless elected officials in City Hall that refuse to acknowledge bikes and purposely neglect to fund safety projects.

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    • Rick April 15, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      SE 136th got an slight overhaul last year.

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      • Jim Chasse April 15, 2015 at 4:07 pm

        Sidewalks on 136th were funded after a fatality!

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      • paikiala April 15, 2015 at 4:07 pm

        Then there are all the beacons the local rep got funded.

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    • Brad April 15, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      Those spineless elected officials lean a great deal on Portland’s reputation as a bike-friendly city. I think national outlets picking up on this story might just scare some action out of them. A guy can dream!

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  • Dan April 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Sometimes waiting for the ketchup to come out of the bottle isn’t enough. Gotta shake the bottle.

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    • Kirk April 15, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      …and sometimes it helps to stick a knife in the bottle.

      Just kidding! For this particular issue I’d only go as far as shaking things up. I would never advocate for using a knife, unless it was truly for obtaining ketchup.

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  • Psyfalcon April 15, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    The BTA still does not get it.

    From their main webpage: “In Oregon, we know the joy of riding a bike to work, to school, and around the neighborhood. Wherever you go, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance works to make your ride safe, convenient, and fun.”

    They are insistent on making bike riding BORING. Ride to work, ride to school. They are building a wedge between what we have now and what we want. If Portland looked like Amsterdam tomorrow, everyone would hop on a bike and go. Its not, and it wont look like Amsterdam for a long time. In the meantime we need people who want to bike for biking’s sake in addition to those people for whom it makes the most sense.

    We need places for people to develop their riding skills. Kids mostly, but also adults are more comfortable on a bike after riding off road. When learning the abundant obstacles and lack of traction are a good thing.

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    • kiel johnson
      kiel johnson April 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Isn’t “developing riding skills” what the BTA’s bike safety program is about? Don’t know of any other program in USA that teaches more people riding skills.

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      • Psyfalcon April 15, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        Not enough. 10 hours. Parking lot training. One graduation ride. Its a good start for a beginner, but there is so much more possible outside this curriculum.

        A BTA instructor will teach the 10-lesson Safe Routes for Kids curriculum to one class of students. May be taught in one-hour lessons over the course of 10 consecutive school days or two-hour lessons over the course of 5 consecutive days. Program includes in-class and on-the-bike instruction, a fleet of bikes and helmets, parent release forms, pre- and post-tests to evaluate progress, and a graduation ride.

        School requirements:
        -Must have room to store 33 bikes for the duration of the program, at least 12’ x 12’.
        -Must be in close proximity to a paved area for drills.

        I’m taking the motorcycle course soon, which takes place in a parking lot where you learn how to start, stop, turn, and shift. Beyond traffic hazards, it can not teach you about slippery surfaces, steep hills or a number of other things. I wish I was turned out on a farm with a dirt bike when I was 10. 😉

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        • Carl April 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm

          Wrong. The BTA curriculum gets kids — some of whom have never biked before — out on real streets as soon as possible. I’ll be impressed if you can find another program that spends 10 hours IN-SCHOOL (not after school, not optional) and manages to get kids out in real traffic. As for those graduation rides? When I was leading them, we rode in traffic but we also hit every muddy alley and little trail we could find.

          Don’t speak of what you don’t know.

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      • Pete April 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        LAB’s Ride Smart is the biggest one that I know of, but there’s another competing national certification whose name escapes me. A few of the LCIs that I’ve known have switched over to the other primarily because it costs less to remain certified.

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    • soren April 16, 2015 at 7:38 am

      It does not take advance bicycle skills to ride on a bike boulevard or in a bike lane. Fixing gaps in central Portland and expanding the network of greenways and bike lanes to the SW and East Portland does not require Amsterdam-style billions.

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  • Justin Morton April 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Except, an online petition to a magazine most people in Portland have never heard of is not “shaking the bottle”. It’s telling the bottle of ketchup you’re disappointed in it’s performance and you wish it would was actually mustard.

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    • canuck April 15, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      But it is a magazine known by those in cycling. Which gives the petition more credence since those calling for the downgrade actually care about the situation. When your own supporters turn against you, then something isn’t right.

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    • Brad April 15, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Except that a petition to a magazine most people have never heard of has now gotten the attention of national news outlets people HAVE heard of. The ketchup bottle has indeed been shaken.

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  • Scott H April 15, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Looks like a blog post that just reinforces how out of touch the BTA is these days.

    It’s not really about funding, the petition hardly mentions funding. I’d say there’s already enough funding, there’s not a lot I can do to ‘step up and help the city fund its goals.’ If city hall cared to, it could direct the funding. The city already demonstrated last month that it in fact, does not care to.

    I’m pretty sure this all started when city hall told everyone who likes to mountain bike to get lost, with no explanation and no public process.

    LAB may not be headquartered in Portland, but swift action on their part would force the Mayor’s attention.

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    • Mike April 15, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      And it is not like the local Alliance has had much success affecting change…

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    • Brad April 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      And those of us who don’t mountain bike are still pissed off about the 20’s bikeway fiasco, lack of bike infrastructure downtown, and excess cars on Ankeny and Clinton.

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      • Brad April 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm

        Like Scott said, these things aren’t all about funding, but rather about city hall being willing to throw its weight behind making meaningful changes.

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        • Scott H April 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm

          Just like Andy Clarke mentioned, in 2008 city hall was willing. It was taking chances, trying new things and showing real leadership.

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          • Kyle April 15, 2015 at 3:52 pm

            Exactly. Right now the politicians in City Hall are just that – politicians. They’re more concerned with their political careers than being leaders.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    As a related note, 2035 is now becoming the goal year for the “2030” bike commute modal objective set back in the late 2000s (2008?)…the 2014 draft Comp Plan did not raise the bike commute mode percent for this later period. This programatic plateau [or a lowering of the mode %] is a prudent internal administrative move given the level of current City leadership and funding effects on ridership trends.

    The slippery slope away from keeping platinum has begun. The City may want to reapply early (call a snap re-election now) for their status before it may be a struggle to gain Gold. [I have not done the points tally but this issue was discussed during the OPB radio interview today with LAB.]

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  • Kyle April 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    The BTA is practically irrelevant in Portland these days. Meanwhile, City Hall has proved they don’t listen to direct pleas from their constituents, so what other option do we have left?

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    • paikiala April 16, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Organize and vote out commissioners that don’t pledge to do more.

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  • Eric April 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    You can’t blame the lack of street fee for Portland’s bike unfriendliness. Other way around. More money won’t rearrange priorities.

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    • paikiala April 15, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      Everything costs money, paint, labor, signs. You can blame a lack of progress on a lack of funding. Most people don’t bike, even if we want them to. Most people would rather have more sidewalks and less potholes, and just have some streets.

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      • Paul in the 'Couve April 15, 2015 at 11:32 pm

        Blah wah blah wah blah – form the mouthpiece. Sick of it.

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        • Paul in the 'Couve April 15, 2015 at 11:38 pm

          The point is that there are literally 100s of improvements that could be maid with little to no cost and also better facilities that could be incorporated with already funded projects at no, or very little additional cost. Removing parking on the 20s bike way would have cost nothing extra. Building something that worked WELL on North Vancouver wouldn’t have cost more, it just would have taken political will and leadership. Putting up temporary barricades on Clinton or increasing police enforcement or how about this – simply doing TV interviews, and social media communications supporting bicycling issues, educating the public or admonishing drivers to slow down.

          It isn’t just that the city of PDX isn’t doing expensive projects or that money is tight. It is that Cycling is decidedly not a priority at all for the city administration.

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      • soren April 16, 2015 at 7:56 am

        Do you have any evidence for your either/or proposition? I seem to remember a survey suggesting that most Portlanders view bike infrastructure improvements as a high priority.

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  • bjorn April 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    We don’t need funding to improve the mountain biking situation in Portland, we just need Fritz to stop banning cycling from currently available trails and actively blocking volunteer efforts while claiming that nothing can happen without hundreds of thousands of dollars in planning.

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  • Brad April 15, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    BTA has become a rather ineffective group of cheerleaders for cycling. They seemingly spend most of their time attending summits, conferences, issuing innocuous press releases, boring some folks at City Hall and Salem with wonk, and then hosting an awards dinner to fete their personal friends. This is too bad. I had hoped that Rob Sadowsky would have more influence than his predecessor and Gerik Kransky tends to end each season of legislative lobbying with a weak, “I tried. Real hard. Honest!” explanation of why he didn’t succeed in getting more votes for funding, safety, Idaho Stop, etc.

    I don’t see any real passion or fight. Just some bike positive careerists collecting paychecks.

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    • Gerik April 15, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Hey Brad, not nice. And last I checked we won a majority of votes in the Oregon House and Senate on our top legislative priority, delivering over $8.8 million in funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects across the state. So, um, yeah…

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      • Robert Hurst April 15, 2015 at 6:25 pm

        How much of that 8.8 million will be taken by private planners and consultants as pure profit?

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      • Robert Hurst April 15, 2015 at 6:36 pm

        How much of that 8.8 million will be used for glossy self-promotion and furious back-patting by private planners and consultants?

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        • Brad April 15, 2015 at 7:29 pm

          Exactly! Most of that “victory” is recreational use trails and bike parking. The developers will benefit more than the average bike rider. Still no improved safety measures, safe passing laws, vulnerable roadway user protections, education of drivers, etc. So congratulations to Gerik and the BTA for doing a great job of enriching consultants and contractors. Hopefully, they will slow down their sparkling new Audis and Range Rovers when passing cyclists on their way to the bank.

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          • zuckerdog April 16, 2015 at 10:09 am

            Your comments reveal that you:
            A) Are ***deleted by moderator – no personal insults please***, at best, or
            B) Don’t have a ***deleted by moderator – no personal insults please***, at worst,
            when it comes to understanding how projects get implemented.
            I admit that the process does not always use dollars most efficiency, but it what we have to work with.

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  • Kevin (no, the other one) April 15, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    People are going to view this action through their own lens and decide whether or not to support it using their own judgement. For me, I think that it is a way of sending a message to the political powers (elected officials, bureaucrats, business alliances, etc.) that they can’t use Portland’s “bike culture” to promote their own interests and simultaneously snub those who have created it. The City and its businesses sell Portland’s bike-friendliness to promote tourism and as a way of attracting progressive professionals, yet they have refused to invest the time, energy or capital necessary to improve or even sustain the elements that create it. They use Chris King Components and the UBI as backdrops when convenient. They publish photos of swarms of cyclists crossing the Hawthorne Bridge or riding along the waterfront in their glossy promotional materials. Then they do something like refuse to remove a handful of parking spaces on 28th or ban cycling in River View.

    Simply put, I think a lot of folks are tired of being props.

    Those with power use the Platinum Level designation when it’s convenient. This petition is a statement to take that tool away from them if they refuse to see cycling and cyclists as nothing more than symbols that can be trotted out when desired and then shoved back in a sealed box until the next photo op. Many cities are actively striving to improve cycling for a multitude of reasons. Portland is coasting and benefiting from a reputation once relevant but now stagnant.

    I’m not saying that Portland is a bad place to ride a bike. Far from it! I feel happier and safer riding around town for commuting and recreation purposes than I have in any other place I’ve lived. But the desire to improve is not shared by those who control investment.

    This effort is symbolic, but many folks have advocated within the system in a number of ways for the last several years to no effect. Advisory committees, advocacy organizations, town-hall meetings, letter writing campaigns and the like have not been productive. There aren’t a lot of other avenues available. This is one. Let’s give it a shot.

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    • soren April 16, 2015 at 7:51 am

      We may be treated as props when it comes to glossy brochures but I can’t remember the last time Hales or Novick mentioned cycling infrastructure in a public venue. Our city leadership have become subservient to the bikes-vs-cars garbage spewed by our conservative billionaire-owned media.

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  • Joe April 15, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Sometimes we forget, but I think its the ppl that make a city bike friendly
    can’t always hope for great INFRA. * so keep riding and smile * 🙂

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    • Brad April 16, 2015 at 9:18 am

      I don’t need great infrastructure. I’d settle for a large trough, painted yellow and filled with dirt, blocking through cars on Ankeny and Clinton.

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  • Robert Hurst April 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    All this talk of politicians, bureaucrats, and City Hall…

    That’s exactly how the private planners and consultants who really control projects in Portland like it.

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  • A Grant April 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Long time reader, first time writer.

    I live in a Canadian city with some of the best cycling infrastructure in the country. In fact, we’ve recently been awarded the “gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award”, the highest available and the only city in the province to be so awarded.

    I read this blog because I am envious. As it stands now, we have two designated on-street separate bike lanes. Just over four years ago, we had our own version of Rob Ford. Our high ranking is the result of recreational multi-use pathways that offer great scenery, but no direct access to infrastructure. That, and painted bike lanes and sharrows.

    I recognize there is still much work to be done in your city. I realize there are things you need to fight for. But if what I’ve described above is what passes as the “gold standard” in this country, perhaps you doth protest too much (and I say this in awe of everything your city has managed to accomplish so far).

    Fight for more, but be proud of your hard won achievements.

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  • SD April 15, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    People who cycle for transportation and enjoyment in the US are a marginal group with limited resources. The advancement of cycling infrastructure completely relies on advocacy and political will. It is an appeal for the values of individual and environmental health and quality of life. On the other hand, the current transportation/ development status quo is relatively well funded, has the status of normalcy and strongly favors car travel.

    Unfortunately, like many other marginal groups seeking to overcome the status quo there is a dynamic of self destruction and internal conflict that undermines the progress that cyclists desire. Much of that unnecessary conflict, i.e. fighting for scraps, has been documented on this blog. Some is superficial: fat tires vs skinny tires vs hipsters vs helmets vs reflective vs Cat 6 vs slow riders etc. Some is more substantial and it is unlikely that this conflict is productive. As soon as someone mentions a South to North downtown bikeway, someone else argues that East Portland is neglected.

    It is pointless to blame the BTA or Leah Treat/ PBOT or similar individuals and agencies for the lack of desired progress in Portland. The BTA has become an organization that works inside Salem, which requires working with clueless legislators. PBOT also has real restraints that limit what they can do for cycling infrastructure. Too a large extent, these groups are being blamed because these are the names that we know. These are also the groups that would be strengthened if the current cycling angst were directed at city hall or the state legislature.

    Is the mayor or city council like the BTA? … quietly working on the inside to make slow steady progress toward cycling infrastructure improvement? When we elected Charlie Hales, Portland chose an administrator over an advocate despite Jefferson Smith being endorsed by transportation advocacy groups. At the time, the Portland consensus appeared to be that Portland’s progressive movement was certain and that a cool headed administrator was better than a passionate activist.

    Well, its 2015, and progress has slowed considerably. There have been multiple opportunities for city hall to back cycling infrastructure and they have remained silent. The record during Hales’ term for progress is bleak and most of the positives that have played out are based on the momentum that was in place prior to Hales taking office. It is not hard to remember Hales’ guarded language around cycling when he was elected, and we are seeing it play out now.

    While the petition is great as a visceral expression of discontent, the problem is that it is too broad. To the unfamiliar eye, it is an indictment of the entire broad cycling community of Portland and could undermine the efforts of advocates who try and hold Portland to the reputation that it has acquired, deserved or not. Investment in cycling infrastructure is a risk, and it requires people to believe that it will be used to capacity.

    What does cycling advocacy in Portland need now in post critical mass, post Portlandia Portland? Maybe it needs a bad cop; an effort to channel the righteous discontent of cyclists away from each other and their allies and direct it at Charlie Hales and city hall. An organized effort to identify the players that are blocking safe streets and focus on them.

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    • davemess April 17, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Personally I saw it as Hales getting elected because of lack of serious competition (and while I voted for Smith that guy shot himself in the foot so many times).

      And as “anti-establishment” as this city claims to be, it’s like a lot of establishment in it’s leaders.

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  • MS April 16, 2015 at 7:50 am

    I like Kransky’s call to action. Portland is a city of activists (supposedly). Go activate!

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  • Peejay April 16, 2015 at 7:59 am

    What a great discussion! Thanks, Jonathan, for hosting this debate.
    I collaborated with Will on this petition because I saw the leadership of this city stop trying to get better. Everyone has their own examples of streets that are dangerous, connectors that are missing, or projects that are delayed or cancelled—I have mine—but it’s bigger than that. We have lofty goals—the Master Plan—but those goals have no incremental progress checks. Whatever the target bike mode share is for 2030, there should be mode share goals for each year from now until then or we have no idea if we’re on the right track. And based on the latest data, we’re not. We’re barely treading water.

    As others have said, it’s not about the money. It’s about priorities. It’s about smart spending of the money we have, and understanding what resources we already own but are giving away, like the untold millions in free parking that we squander because of entitled car owners. It’s about saying we need to fix things that are broken, like Clinton St, or we will have thrown money away. It’s about working together, like we should be with Trimet and the freight industry in a way that gets how we can benefit each other, not as a standoff of carefully begrudged concessions.

    Yes, the tactic is not without risks, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I hope it lights a fire in City Hall, and I hope everyone who really cares keeps up the pressure.

    I plan to keep doing everything I can to move Portland toward becoming the city we need it to be, and if that means we finally earn Platinum status for real, great!

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  • Dan April 16, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Story regarding this & other related news in the Portland Tribune today. Hope you find it fair and balanced:

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  • Joe April 16, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I really like to thank Jonathan for having this awesome portal site brings ppl together that ride.

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  • MNBikeLuv April 16, 2015 at 9:23 am

    This is just the outsider talking here, but I hope this adds something to the discussion.

    It feels like bike culture in Portland is a contrast of extremes. Either it seems to be an attitude of “lets play nice and just shrug if things don’t go our way” or a late-60s counter-culture “down with the man; lets burn this ****er down”. Niether seems to be getting much done.

    You can work with a city AND be mad at them at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive. Maybe what biking in Portland needs is little bit more williness to burn the parts of the city government that aren’t working (thats the stick) and a willingness to be at the table to build new things (thats the carrot). Honestly, look at the RVNA PAT meeting. That “we are mad,we will be heard in this process but we be helpful when we can” attitude of the NWTA representatives did more to show how wacky the process had become. (Humble pie moment: I previously suggested leaving the process was the way to go. I was wrong.)

    Also, (again as an outsider) Portland seems to suffer from an acute case of the “not invented here syndrome”, AKA the “we are a unique and beautiful snowflake” agument. That (seeming) unwillingness to integrate outside suggestions doesn’t seem to help either.

    Lets take the issue of MTBing in Portland (though this could apply to all forms of biking).

    There are those of us that have suggested nothing would help the process in Portland more than getting an outsider to come in, meet with the city privately, then give a public presentation and say, “Look at all these places that have urban mountain biking”. Use those places to show solutions to “problems” these city officals believe exist. In other words, use the rest of country to both teach city officals and to embarrass them. Maybe we are right. Maybe we are wrong. But at this point, it couldn’t hurt anything could it?

    If that approach doesn’t set well with everyone, what about an approach like Access4Bikes in Marin, CA? They are beginning to get traction with the government there and (finally) ending Marin’s insane anti-MTB stance. Image a Portland version of that group, doing a video like this about how Portland’s singletrack access is craptastic: You can’t tell me that wouldn’t shake up people at city government.

    I only wished I worked for the Metro Economic Development Council. I would have a full page ad in every Oreganian for a week with a color picture from trail like Lebanon Hills or Carver or Theordore-Wirth with a headline underneath that read “Feeling like Portland does value you? Come to the Twin Cities Metro region, home of most urban singletrack mileage in the country. Good economics, good outdoor recreation and a public process that values you.”

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    • Oregon Mamacita April 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Your outside perspective is refreshing. Thank you for your thoughtful post.
      I blog here as a mom with a garden and a libertarian streak and four bikes that I ride a lot. Reading BP, there are a lot of what I consider to be divisive and undemocratic approaches to transportation. It sounds like MN has a more grounded bike culture. Sometimes I feel that Portland sucks the fun out of biking because it becomes so politicized. Maybe your town could teach us a thing or two.

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    • davemess April 17, 2015 at 9:26 am

      “Also, (again as an outsider) Portland seems to suffer from an acute case of the “not invented here syndrome”, AKA the “we are a unique and beautiful snowflake” agument. That (seeming) unwillingness to integrate outside suggestions doesn’t seem to help either.”

      Amen to that on so many levels.

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  • Mindful Cyclist April 16, 2015 at 10:18 am

    The problem with Portland that I see is this: We are NOT the city that works. We have become the city that throws out a big idea, talks to those involved and would affect, take their concerns into consideration, and then ultimately do nothing.

    You do not need to look any further than NE/SE 28th. PBOT present removing parking on one side to add a bike lane and “supersharrows”. Talks to business owners and neighborhood members. Only hears that they do not want a parking lane removed but is completely open to any other safety ideas. PBOT in turn does nothing. Okay, well maybe, what like two zebra crosswalks installed? What about sharrows and more crosswalks? What about a drop to 20 mph speed limit? Again, none of that.

    When it comes to the street fee, I do not support it on the principle that I do not like regressive taxes, but I also see no benefit with what I may see in bike improvements if it can’t throw a few scraps at 28th.

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  • Adron @ Transit Sleuth April 17, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I’ll admit, I signed the petition. Because I recently traveled to Scandinavia and think we should compare ourselves to those nations versus the rest of the US. The rest of the US, honestly is a complete shambles except for a few hold outs. The mindset is sickening, oblivious on many levels, and downright dangerous to “human” pursuits (like cycling, living healthy, etc). I know, I’ve lived in many of those “flyover” areas for well over a decade of my life.

    …but I digress.

    Portland is absolutely still one of the best places to bike in the United States by a large margin. Even with the influx of horrible, dangerous and disrespectful drivers we still have MORE drivers that are respectful. We’re still inching forward toward better and better paths, trails, routes, roads, and bicycle infrastructure. We have an organization in the city, PBOT, that DOES actually make effort to do right by cyclists under the American context. Mind you, America has a sick perverse notion of cycling, but considering the fight forward that PBOT makes it’s not doing so bad. Yes, they could do with better support from some of the city council and respective politicians that do more politicking these days then building a better Portland but they’re still doing a pretty damn good job by US standards.

    Saying that, I might have jumped the gun in regards to asking for our Platinum status to be removed. I WANT more cyclists and prospective cyclists to move to Portland. It only increases the chance the city can become even MORE livable and humane vs. this horrible car-oriented infrastructure that is pushed from so many angles still. We need allies, we need people to drop the insanity of auto-focused infrastructure.

    On that note, I feel like we as a community, if looked at as a whole has become negative and made it MORE DIFFICULT for PBOT or other entities to actually move forward on our behalf. Yes, I’m sick too of the half hearted nonsense of “bike lanes” and would love to see more real infrastructre like honest to goodness cycle tracks and dedicated bike routes that are removed from the deathly guise of the automobile cages – but are we seriously likely to get that without gaining significantly more support?

    No, we’re not. So we should push forward with what we can and we should do it combined, not disconnected and ranting about some superficial status. How can we help? How can we force the mayor and the city council to stop screwing around? How can we push forward real infrastructure changes?

    Can we actually get a 1000 cyclists on queue to show up in protest? Forget the wNBR, let’s actually get a solid 1000 cyclists to protest and I bet we can force their hand to TRULY push forward on some real cycling infrastructure.

    Currently, I don’t see this, but fighting whimsical battles over pedantic awards is likely to net us a big fat zero infrastructure.

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    • Brian April 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      There is chance if all groups of cyclists were encouraged to show up (Riverview protest was around 300 alone), and the goal was to improve conditions in and around the city for all types of cyclists and that was clear in the communications. It could be a catalyst to bigger things. Solidarity in numbers.

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  • Ted April 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

    So signatures seem to have stalled out around 650. Anyone want to venture a thought on what that means? It really does not seem like a lot in a city of 600,000+.

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    • Pete April 21, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      And I’m just curious of the 650 how many are registered voters in Portland.

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      • Seth Alford April 24, 2015 at 3:10 pm

        I’m not a registered voter in Portland. I am a registered voter in Washington County.

        I’d be interested in how many are members of the LAB, and have they communicated their disagreement with the Platinum Rating to the League.

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    • Seth Alford April 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      A way to get some more signatures on that petition is to set up a table just past a crummy example of bicycle infrastructure, with a tablet with a connection to the Internet. Ask people to sign the petition while the experience of dealing with something non-platinum is fresh in their minds.

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