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Guest post: What you can do to improve bicycling in Portland right now

Posted by on April 21st, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Utrecht study tour-9

Gerik Kransky, in brown.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Editor’s note: This post is from Gerik Kransky, advocacy director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Last week was a big week for conversations among people who ride bikes, advocates, activists, media, and the general public. Everyone is talking about the petition to rescind Portland’s Platinum bicycle-friendly status by the League of American Bicyclists.

So what’s next? How do we push today to improve conditions for bicycling tomorrow? Here are five ideas for immediate action.

Speak up for a fantastic Transportation System Plan in Portland. 

CRC at City Council-5.jpg

2008 testimony at City Hall on the Columbia River Crossing plan. The freeway wasn’t built. But what will we build instead?

The City of Portland’s upcoming Comprehensive Plan and Transportation System Plan represent the next 20 years of transportation in our city. It is a complicated effort. With multiple bureaus, dozens of staff, several elected leaders, and hundreds upon hundreds of pages of draft documents, no wonder it’s hard to see how to effectively speak up for bicycling in the process.

We’ve taken a stab at the right answers in our five page comment letter to the city, available here. After Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission finishes their work on the plan it goes to Portland City Council. Now is the time to meet, call, and email Portland City Commissioners and ask them to prioritize the projects, programs, and policies that will make bicycling better. Feel free to take any and all of the points from our letter and follow our easy advice for how to work with elected leaders.

Help win protected bike lanes downtown.

Four possible routes for north-south protected bike lanes through downtown.
(Graphic: BikePortland)

If you haven’t heard, the City of Portland is sitting on over $6 million in federal funding for their “Downtown Multimodal Safety Project.” The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is running a campaign to ensure that this project includes protected bike lanes running north and south through our central city, details here.

Now is the time to take action by asking City Hall and the Portland Bureau of Transportation to commit to building new, protected bike lanes with the money they have, and dedicate as much city revenue as is needed to ensure that they have enough to build world class bicycle facilities. Engage directly with our City’s leaders and tell them what you want. Join our efforts on this campaign and sign our petition here.

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Push for bike share in Portland.

Portland’s draft plan for locations of the first 75 bikeshare stations, shared online by KATU.com. Possible phase-two expansion locations are purple, and eventual expansion areas in blue. (Click to enlarge)

Through some cruel twist of fate Portland does not have a public bike share system. We won funding, awarded contracts, suffered media controversy, and lost precious years in pursuit of a new, healthy public transit option. To make matters worse, some leaders in City Hall continue to insist that no city revenue should be spent on bike share. We have been working on this issue for a long time and it is past time to act.

If you want to see publicly accessible bikes on our city streets, step up and tell City Hall why you think they are important. Express that you want to see the 2016 launch as soon as possible, with a robust system of bikes, and plenty of funding to make sure it is successful.

Demand safety on SW Barbur.

A possible permanent redesign of SW Barbur’s wooded section.
(Rendering: Owen Walz for the BTA.)

Someone is going to die riding their bicycle on SW Barbur and we have to get loud to make it safe. Sign our petition to the leadership of the Oregon Department of Transportation in this region and demand bike lanes over the Newberry and Vermont Bridges before it is too late.

Advocate for more funding for bicycling statewide.

I-205 Path Ride - Pedalpalooza-45

The Interstate 205 bike path, an Oregon Department of Transportation production.

Last but not least, we need more money to build all the improvements we want to see. Join the BTA as we push to ensure that bicycle and pedestrian projects remain eligible for new non-roadway funding in the ConnectOregon program. Every time we can make bike-specific money available it becomes easier for cities like Portland to win funding for new projects.

This is just a short list of some of the specific things you can do right now, today, to make bicycling better in Portland and change the political dynamics in our favor. Take 15 minutes, choose your favorite campaign, and speak up. If we all take the time to make our voices heard, it will make a difference.

We always welcome guest post submissions. Thanks to Gerik for putting this one together. Got ideas of your own? Email jonathan@bikeportland.org.

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

105 Comments
  • Adam H. April 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Sorry, but all these “actions” require city council to actually listen and respond to our requests; which they refuse to do.

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    • Adam H. April 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Also, it should be noted that we’ve all been asking for these things for a long time and have been shut down at every turn by people in positions of decision-making.

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      • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 10:08 am

        “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

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    • Mick O April 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      That is not a reason to stop. That is a reason to try harder.

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    • Rebecca April 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      “We need to get loud” sounds like a better strategy to me than “We’re helpless, why bother?”

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      • Adam H. April 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        Agreed, but at some point the endless requests seem futile when the city doesn’t seem interested in listening.

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    • Rick April 22, 2015 at 7:22 am

      ODOT controls Barbur.

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  • George H. April 21, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    “Vote out Amanda Fritz” is missing, though I understand a non-profit like BTA can’t say this.

    Replacing Amanda Fritz with someone who is pro-cycling will do a lot for bicycling Portland.

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    • Adam H. April 21, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Agreed 100%.

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    • Justin Morton April 21, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Find a bike-friendly individual to run for City Council, and then raise money for that person to make it a reality.

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      • Terry D-M April 22, 2015 at 8:04 am

        Nick Caleb 2016, already declared.

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        • George H. April 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

          I cannot support someone who supports things like rent control, regardless of their stance on bikes. He also wants Portland to have an income tax. Barf

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          • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

            And that’s the rub. Candidates are rarely running on a single issue. It’s about compromises.

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          • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

            That’s platinum.

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        • Evan April 23, 2015 at 5:52 pm

          sadly, he decided to run against Novic though instead of Fritz.

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          • davemess April 24, 2015 at 9:18 am

            Caleb was running against Saltzman or Fish though.

            Novick wasn’t up for reelection last year.

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  • gutterbunnybikes April 21, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Further pushing the separation of the city core and the “entire state” like the 205 bike path? And you wonder why the east siders feel a little neglected when it comes to the city and BTA?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 21, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      I think Gerik’s use of “statewide” here refers to “money allocated at the state level.” I chose the 205 path illustration to accompany this point because it’s the highest-quality ODOT facility that I knew we had a photo of.

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      • gutterbunnybikes April 21, 2015 at 3:48 pm

        Fair enough, didn’t realize you’d did the pictures. As they say about spelling assume.

        Though the whole article is still very focused on the city center, even Barber (though I agree it needs attention badly) is a city center route.

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        • maccoinnich April 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

          I think pushing for better cycling facilities in the city center is a very worthy goal, given how terrible the existing conditions are.

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          • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:13 am

            And yet compare that to the rest of the city………
            “Terrible” might be a bit of hyperbole.

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            • maccoinnich April 22, 2015 at 11:50 am

              I really don’t think terrible is hyperbole at all. The cycle network east of the river is a dream compared to downtown.

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              • davemess April 22, 2015 at 2:09 pm

                Many people consider the central east side as part of the “city center”.

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              • maccoinnich April 22, 2015 at 2:15 pm

                …and?

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              • davemess April 23, 2015 at 1:18 pm

                Many people who live outside the city center wouldn’t consider the central east side “terrible”, esp. considering they’ve gotten the lions share of bike infrastructure funding over the last couple of decades.

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              • maccoinnich April 23, 2015 at 3:05 pm

                The Central Eastside normally refers to the area between the river and SE/NE 12th. The cycling conditions there are better than in downtown (at least it has bike lanes on major streets), but I doubt it’s received the majority of the funding in recent decades.

                Anyway, the BTA campaign is about Downtown proper, which has terrible, terrible cycling infrastructure. There is no northbound cycle route through Downtown. There is no eastbound cycle route from Goose Hollow to the river. The one southbound route is narrow and in the door zone for most of its length.

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  • Indy April 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Anybody that rides Barbur understands that the choke points for cars are where there are lights. Hamilton. Terwilliger. Bertha. And on and on. Adding a bike lane to the bridges would do very little to slow down this traffic, because most of it just sits at these lights which are far away from the impact of lane merges on these bridges.

    I just don’t get it. Car driving on these roads is driving 45 miles per hour only to sit at a stoplight for a minute. Most bikes catch up to cars on Barbur heading Northbound during rush hour. That says something.

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    • wsbob April 21, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      I’d sign a petition to install electronic reader boards for rush hour speed reduction down to 25 or 30 mph. Hwy 26 between Sylvan and Downtown, has such a reader board. Works great, though I don’t know that it’s been used for specific hour speed reduction. And speed radar cameras and or vans to issue citations.

      Riding a bike in a bike lane alongside heavy 45 mph motor vehicle traffic is not good biking conditions, however flat the route is.

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      • Chris I April 22, 2015 at 9:15 am

        Narrowing the road to a single lane will reduce motor vehicle speeds. Adding speed signs do nothing (they already them on I-405 and no one pays attention). Speed cameras are currently illegal, so neither of these options are viable. Narrow the road.

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        • wsbob April 24, 2015 at 12:19 pm

          “…Narrowing the road to a single lane will reduce motor vehicle speeds. …” Chris I

          And why do you think so?

          If the posted speed limit remains the same, there’s no reason people driving would have to, or be inclined to reduce their speed from what they’re currently accustomed to driving at.

          Entering into the two lanes to one merge, there may be some slow down as people space their vehicles in order to transition to into the single lane, but once there, they’re naturally likely to increase their speed to the max allowed, and more, as is common.

          The future is electronic regulation of motor vehicle speeds. Electronic information boards allowing for variance in posted speed limits at different periods, may be part of that future, as may be radar speed cameras.

          It’s doubtful that ODOT will configure Barbur for a road diet, taking away one of the main northbound lanes to create continuous bike lanes across the two bridges. In the first place, because of the volume of motor vehicles in use on Barbur, the resulting environment is a bad one to be biking in. Bad air.

          Secondly, fast moving motor vehicles on big sweeping curves is especially hazardous to biking, whether bike lanes are present or not. In the area, are roads with lower speed limit posted roads, with fewer motor vehicles in use on them, making for better biking conditions. Better air, less hazard.

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  • peejay April 21, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    I am in complete agreement with this list. The petitioners are not in conflict with the BTA; we are just using a tactic that is not available to a large organization like the BTA. We are outsiders, and are running a single-issue campaign. But now we have 650+ people who are dissatisfied with the status quo enough that they will do the things that can be done “right now, today.” Let’s work together to make a better Portland to bike in, and to live in.

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    • peejay April 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      But, I will say, we have to do more than just this, because it isn’t moving the needle fast enough. So we have to raise our voices more than we have, and when we are done calling and writing to every public official we can think of, we want to know what is the next step.

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    • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 10:12 am

      650 of 600,000 in the city.

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  • Jim Labbe April 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I wonder if the frustration that get’s focused on the City Council really should not be focused at the Legislature. It is state-level pre-emptions on progressive funding mechanisms and on local transportation policies that are a significant barrier to building and funding a more balanced and active transportation system (not to mention achieving a lot of other needed local policies and investments such those to address the affordable housing crisis in Portland).

    The BTA has worked diligently in the Legislature for years. I think their efforts to develop stronger constituencies outside Portland, in the suburbs and across Oregon is a smart strategy toward trying to build a support statewide for bike-friendly policies in the Legislature. It has probably meant they have had less resources to spend in Portland but I am not sure that is a bad decision on where to apply their limited resources.

    Jim Labbe

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    • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:15 am

      So PBOT’s hands are just tied and they don’t have much power in setting their own budget?

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      • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 10:15 am

        Budgets are back and forth things between the bureau and the commissioner and between bureaus. Who should pay for street sweeping, PBOT or BES? BES is cutting back, even though they can generate revenue. PBOT has the street sweepers (Bureau of Maintenance).
        The mayor wants roads repaired before new infra.

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  • Pete April 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Huh. Gerik rides a bike? Some commenters on here led me to believe he drives an Audi or a Land Rover…

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    • Gerik April 22, 2015 at 9:33 am

      That’s funny, Pete. I ride one of my bikes most of the time and drive a Subaru on the weekends.

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  • Scott H April 21, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    It’s encouraging to see Gerik commenting and posting articles here. The is bright if he succeeds. But I will echo the need to overthrow city hall. City hall has made it abundantly clear it stands in the way of what everyone else wants.

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    • Mike April 22, 2015 at 7:50 am

      Let’s not go so far as to say “everyone”. Maybe everyone who reads BP, but even then, I am not so sure… There are certainly commenters on BP who are against mountain biking.

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  • Patty April 21, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Let’s advocate for more FEDERAL funding for bike facilities. That’s where the real money comes from for this stuff. The state’s ability is very limited.
    Aside from Amanda Fritz, I think the challenges we face with bike facilities in Portland are funding-related. The city budget is healthy again and once the worst holes are backfilled this needs to be a priority.

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    • wsbob April 21, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Fritz is doing just fine as a city councilor. Recently city council made decisions on easing code requirements for bridgehead development. She opposed the decision, feeling that it unfairly favored big developers at the expense of little developers.

      Some bikeportland readers like to give her guff because she won’t say it’s fine for the city to authorize use of Riverview for mountain biking, despite there apparently…according to the latest bikeportland story about that situation…being a huge mass of complicated legal entanglements to sort out before the city can do so.

      Nobody commenting here so far, critical of Fritz’s work, has offered fair ideas as to how the commissioner could have made the process of sorting out those legal entanglements, go faster.

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      • Terry D-M April 22, 2015 at 8:01 am

        Her opposition to density goes much further than just a few hand outs to some developers. She had a point there, but she has also come out against density in other situations because “we have always done it this way”…or “It would effect the quality of life for the single family neighborhoods.”

        Why would she be opposed to high rises on Front in Downtown facing the waterfront? That is like saying putting limits next to Central Park….but hey, we have “always had a step down approach…” so why change it, just because the city is growing by leaps and bounds….

        In general I have been a supporter of hers due to her understanding of equity, but she does not seem to get active transportation or land use needs of this city. A politician has to grow with the times…..

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        • wsbob April 22, 2015 at 8:54 am

          “…Why would she be opposed to high rises on Front in Downtown facing the waterfront? …” Terry D-M

          The article I read, wasn’t extensive, but I don’t think it was saying that Fritz opposed high rises, per se.

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          • maccoinnich April 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

            The heights currently allowed in downtown max out at 460′ along the transit mall, and then steps to as little as 75′ along Naito. It’s a well intentioned policy, but I think it has led to some undesirable results like the World Trade Center buildings at Naito / Salmon. As part of the Central City 2035 plan it is proposed to increase this to 250′ at the Hawthorne and Morrison Bridgeheads. This was supported by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Stakeholders Advisory Committee and everybody who testified to the City Council on that issue. Fritz was nothing short of apoplectic at the idea, and when none of her colleagues supported her amendment to keep the existing zoning in place she accused them of corruption and spot zoning. It had nothing to do with big developers vs small developers, and was entirely about her discomfort with tall buildings facing the river.

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            • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm

              maybe further blocking views from the west hills?

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            • wsbob April 23, 2015 at 12:00 am

              “…and was entirely about her discomfort with tall buildings facing the river.” maccoinnich

              If you have any quotes of hers saying this, I’d be happy to read them. As I wrote earlier, my info was the Oregonian story, in which the writer summarized rather than quoting Fritz that her opposition to the change was that it favored big developers over small ones. No report that the other commissioners or the mayor refuted her contention.

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              • maccoinnich April 23, 2015 at 10:58 am

                I would be happy to provide a quote, but it takes months for the City to provide transcripts of its meetings (they don’t have any up for 2015 yet). However, I listened to the entirety of the West Quadrant hearing, and I can assure you that Fritz was extremely upset about the idea of tall buildings along the waterfront. At one point she pointed out an image of 250′ building and asked her colleagues if they could imagine that going up on Naito. They could, and it didn’t bother them. Saltzman explicitly said that he doesn’t think having a skyline is anything to be ashamed of.

                Fritz said nothing about small developers. When she didn’t get her way on her amendments she did however accuse her colleagues of corruption, because the zoning changes might benefit developers like Melvin Mark. [Which is a weird point: why make zoning changes if you don’t expect someone to take advantage of them?] Absent any actual evidence to support her charge of corruption, she should have said nothing. It came across as really petulant.

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              • wsbob April 24, 2015 at 12:40 pm

                Could be, I suppose, that the Oregonian story writer, got an incorrect impression that Fritz was concerned about the zoning changes unfairly favoring big developers over little developers.

                The Park Ave building being constructed directly west of Nordstom’s, if the city would have had the sense of aesthetics and good judgement to do it, could have been built on the site of the above ground parking structure directly one block west. That’s a full block, rather than the half block the new building is being built on.

                On that block, it would have had twice the floor space at the height of the new building, or the same floor space at half the height of the new building. A continuation of parking underground, as is provided under Directors Square and the Moyer Tower, could have replaced the parking currently offered by the city parking structure.

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              • maccoinnich April 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm

                Well, first of all the City didn’t choose to build Park Avenue West; TMT Development did. TMT managed to acquire all the buildings on that block. They don’t have any ownership in the 10th & Yamhill garage.

                Furthermore, had they owned that site couldn’t have achieved the same floor area on a block twice the size. A 200′ deep floorplate would be unleasable for either office or residential use (the retail would probably work though). Most towers are are about 100′ deep, regardless of the size of the block they’re on. Have a look around downtown and the Pearl – there are very few 200′ x 200′ buildings. Where they do exist (such as the Nines hotel, formerly Meier & Frank) they tend to have a large central atrium.

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        • wsbob April 23, 2015 at 12:23 am

          “…Why would she be opposed to high rises on Front in Downtown facing the waterfront? That is like saying putting limits next to Central Park …” Terry D-M

          Interesting question. I think it was just a couple months ago, that in the NYtimes, there was a very interesting story about ever taller buildings being built at points around Central Park’s perimeter. Luxury condo towers blocking the sun and casting long shadows into the park. Some NYC residents are very concerned about this type of development decision. The expression ‘That’s Progress’ comes in handy for people favoring development despite sometimes less than wonderful consequences.

          Portland could do better on protecting its aesthetic and architectural values, and accompanying quality of life, as it makes decisions about development. Is Downtown really being improved with the addition of a skyscraper directly to the north of Director Square? Who needs to see the sky anyway. Just tilt your head a little further back if you don’t like looking at the shiny new building. At least the ‘scraper isn’t on the square’s south side. There, it really would cast a tall shadow onto the square.

          I really have no idea to what extent Fritz objects to skyscrapers on the basis that they foul the city’s aesthetics, but if that’s a concern of hers, I’d say her being so, is a benefit to the city.

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          • maccoinnich April 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

            ” Is Downtown really being improved with the addition of a skyscraper directly to the north of Director Square?” Yes. Park Avenue West provides three things that Downtown has a shortage of: retail space; apartments; and office space.

            I’ve often heard it said that there are national retailers that would like to be located in Downtown but can’t find large modern floorplates. If a chain not currently here wanted to locate in Portland I would rather they do it in Downtown, where people can access it by foot, bike, light rail or bus, than at somewhere like Bridgeport Village.

            Above the retail is 211 rental apartments. To put that number in context, the apartments at 37th & Division that the neighbors fought all the way the Land Use Board of Appeals has only 78 units. The Oregonian reported yesterday that Portland has a 3.1% apartment vacancy rate, so we’re going to see the current apartment boom continue for some time. I think Downtown is an excellent location to absorb some of this demand.

            At the top of the tower is 13 floors of office space. The anchor tenant will be a law firm, and when they move into Park Avenue West they will free up a lot of space in Standard Plaza. Portland also has a low office vacancy rate, and I would again rather see demand soaked up in downtown than somewhere like Kruse Way. For a long time Portland had a hard time attracting companies into Downtown. That seems to have changed in the last 5/10 years, and the last thing we would want to do is stifle that.

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            • wsbob April 23, 2015 at 2:04 pm

              I’m not sure the compromise is worth it, but ever taller skycrapers tend to be one of the compromises that many big cities routinely make to accommodate growth. Good and bad, Park Avenue West, is there now, and barring any great disaster befalling it, likely will be for the next hundred years or so.

              Fritz championing the need for quality aesthetics in decisions made about development in the city is an important effort to be making. Somebody on city council should be doing that chore, and it appears that Fritz is at least making the effort to take it on.

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      • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:18 am

        People here (many people here) have commented that they should make those “legal entanglements” known to the public (and if it truly is a “legal entanglement” they’ve had over 3 years to either fix it or at least tell people about it. Not just string them along for years and the dump the public process). Hiding behind poorly worded press releases about questionable ecology is not the way to run a government or a Parks dept.

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        • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:20 am

          And it should be pointed out that we really only know anything about these “legal entanglements” because Maus has bothered to petition to get the information. City Council and Parks are doing nothing on their own to publicize their murky reasoning.

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        • wsbob April 22, 2015 at 9:16 am

          “People here (many people here) have commented that they should make those “legal entanglements” known to the public …” davemess

          I think they would have if they could have. As it was, the commissioners have released information as they received answers from other parties involved, that they could release to the public. I’ve written in past that the hangup in allowing continued use of Riverview for mountain biking, likely was due to condition of sale issues, and as more information from the city has been presented, that seems to be the case. It could be a long haul yet before everything gets completely sorted out and the city can proceed again with the public to plan for using Riverview for mountain biking.

          This weblog and its owner-editor Maus, and his employee Andersen, are keeping on this story, which is fine. Stories here about Riverview have had useful information. On the other hand, I think Maus’s manner of presuming and speculating about reasons the commissioners have made the decision about use of this park for mountain biking, has been excessively harsh and unfair to, not just the commissioners, but everyone.

          One result of that seems to have been that communication with bikeportland from their office, is not forthcoming when bikeportland asks questions of them.

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    • Terry D-M April 22, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Federal money for bikes? Good luck with that right now. Once the millennials country wide register and vote, maybe after 2020 we can un-gerrymander the house of reps and we might have a shot…but until then we are on our own.

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      • Paul in the 'Couve April 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

        Rather than trying to get Federal Money for bikes we should be working to reduce the role of Federal Gov’t in local transportation issues and shrinking the Federal budget for free way expansions.

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      • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 2:35 pm

        Shifting funding decisions from the Feds to the States, without strings attached (the hard part), would permit each state to fund proportionally to what it deems a ‘need’.

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  • Michael April 21, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I get the frustration with Amanda Fritz, I do. I want to say, though, there is value in having a diverse city council. Right now we have a white male mayor, and the four remaining council members are white men. Is that an accurate picture of our Portland?

    None of five white men strike me as being pro-biking. On other issues (that I’ve seen directly) she has shown a willingness to learn, and a willingness to change positions based on that learning. I have more faith in her potential to come around (note, I am not saying I think she’s been great on biking so far; clearly she hasn’t) than some of the others.

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    • Mike April 22, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Since we are referring to council members by color, how many black, brown, red, yellow or green members of either sex are in a position to be on the council? Or should Hales hire someone based on their color or sex rather than their experience?

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      • michael April 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

        Mike – You’re missing a major point (members of council are elected) and making a pretty big and erroneous assumption (people of color and women regardless of color don’t have experience).

        Having a council that is representative of a more diverse Portland does not necessarily mean that it lacks in experience. Besides, if the “experienced” white men aren’t representing the interests of constituents, then that’s grounds for them to get elected out.

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    • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

      5 men? Do you mean 4 and Fritz?
      It should also be pointed out that Fritz’s main competition for her council seat was another woman (Nolan).

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      • michael April 23, 2015 at 11:42 am

        4 men on council plus Hales = 5 men.

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        • maccoinnich April 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

          I think there’s something wrong with your math there.

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        • davemess April 23, 2015 at 1:21 pm

          Uh, you know that Amanda Fritz sits on the council, right?

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          • Michael April 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm

            so – I can only refer you back to my initial post where I mention Fritz (as a member of council) and then say the other four members of council are white men.

            so of the six people in leadership (mayor plus five members of council), five are white men (i.e. everyone except Fritz). there’s my math. sorry if that wasn’t clear from my initial post.

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            • maccoinnich April 23, 2015 at 7:52 pm

              Portland City Council only has five Commissioners, including the Mayor.

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              • davemess April 24, 2015 at 9:23 am

                Or, more succinctly for you there are four commissioners (Fritz, Novick, Saltzman, and Fish) and Hales.
                That makes 4 “white men” and one woman.

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              • davemess April 24, 2015 at 9:23 am

                Sorry, not “you”, but for Michael.

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              • Michael April 24, 2015 at 11:22 am

                ok – i stand corrected. my math error. my point stands though. the other four (Hales, Novick, Saltzman and Fish) deserve to be targets of advocacy efforts. its not just Fritz.

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    • Blake April 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      I also have been frustrated with her, but not any more than I am with the other council members and I think there is more potential to get her to modify her views than there would be to either elect a new candidate and get them the right Bureau assignment or enough pull to affect the direction of city council as a whole.

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  • Randy April 21, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Continue to point out the poor air quality for walkers and cyclists in downtown Portland. Re: Diesel fumes from daily non-stop Trimet buses.

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    • Chris I April 22, 2015 at 9:17 am

      The new busses are always getting cleaner. And what are you wanting exactly? Get rid of the busses? Replace them with cars?

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  • Eric April 21, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Increase traffic fines until police pensions are completely covered?

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  • Matt April 21, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    I once sat next to Mia Burke at a meeting where she said that in order to create a city that is friendly for cycling you need the following things:
    1. Political leadership
    2. Advocates (an organized group)
    3. City Staff/Planners who ‘get it’ and at least some who actually ride bikes
    4. A good bike plan
    5. A dedicated source of local money (which can be leveraged toward larder grants)
    Getting elected officials who understand the issues and take the lead is the only way that forward movement is going to happen in Portland. The other four items on that list either already exist, or will come after the political leadership shows up.

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    • Gerik April 22, 2015 at 10:16 am

      Mia is right. And thank you, Matt, for pointing this out.

      In my opinion we lack #1 and #5, as I alluded to here: https://btaoregon.org/2015/04/personal-reflections-on-portland-and-platinum/

      This is why my post is focused on using grassroots power to influence elected leaders and advocate for increased funding. The work is simple, in concept. However, just as people are expressing concern about how these recommendations won’t produce results “right now” it is clear that these campaigns are long-term, political efforts.

      At the BTA we measure success in terms of how many millions of dollars we can dedicate to bike projects and how many dozens of projects we can get built over months and years of sustained effort. Our list of regional priorities remains a bold set of goals that keeps us very busy: https://btaoregon.org/blueprint/ Please work with us, we will get more done if we work together.

      Onward!

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
        Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 22, 2015 at 7:16 pm

        I love that list of Mia’s.

        Gerik, I may as well ask you a question here that’s been nagging me. A couple months ago I started volunteering in my spare time for the nonprofit advocacy group Oregon Climate. (For the record, I started doing so after writing an article about them; I was so impressed by the organization that I decided helping them out on my own time was more important than ever covering them again as a journalist.)

        Every Tuesday night, a bunch of us volunteers meet up to make telephone calls to a growing list of voters around the state who are engaged on climate issues. During the legislative session, we’re usually targeting people in districts whose legislators are on particular committees that control important bills. We’ve also mobilized people to attend hearings or other events.

        I assume the BTA has a list of 10,000 current and former members. Does it ever use that list for anything like this? If not, why not?

        The only things I can ever remember being asked to do as a BTA member are to attend BTA events, usually fundraisers of some sort, and once in a while to send emails or sign petitions. Those things are important and I’m glad you ask people to do them! But it seems like a pretty sparse toolkit.

        I know you came up through Bus-Project-style organizing, so I know you understand these methods. And I realize they can take a lot of staff time, and there are always a thousand things for staff to do. But it seems to me that if bike advocates have ANYTHING in Portland, it’s a highly engaged and informed set of unpaid advocates. Why does the BTA so rarely seem to ask them to throw their shoulders to anything larger than an email?

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        • Gerik April 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm

          Michael,

          Fantastic observations and questions, thank you for taking the time to draw the link between Oregon Climate’s grassroots organizing tactics and BTA’s advocacy work.

          The model we employ most of the time is to work a given issue with elected leaders and relevant staff to ensure the best possible outcome for bikes within the confines those actors face, something you can call “the art of the possible.” At the point at which staff and lawmakers start saying no, we work with our grassroots base of supporters to push leaders for a better outcome. We don’t settle for the status quo, we push hard from the inside, and we push hard from the outside, and we frequently win our campaigns. We work to keep BTA members and supporters as engaged as possible along the way.

          It bears mentioning that this happens more than once in a while, we engage with our members and supporters year in and year out, continuously, and during all phases of our work. During the development of our campaigns: http://bikeportland.org/2012/10/19/bta-asks-for-projects-to-add-to-blueprint-effort-79059 during our project focused and community based advocacy: https://btaoregon.org/2012/02/bta-launches-project-advisory-council/ during nearly all of our statewide: https://btaoregon.org/2015/03/action-alert-oppose-mandatory-reflective-clothing/ & https://btaoregon.org/2015/04/testify-in-support-of-critical-funding-for-bicycle-and-pedestrian-projects/ regional: https://btaoregon.org/2015/04/action-alert-email-metro-councilors-now-for-safe-routes-to-school/ & https://btaoregon.org/2013/11/action-alert-save-funding-for-washington-county-bike-ped-projects/ and local efforts: https://btaoregon.org/category/weigh-in/

          The amount of work required to sustain these campaigns is significant and we are doing our best to bring people in, empower them to take action, and move our collective agenda. To better achieve these goals we recently promoted long-time BTA advocate, Carl Larson, to a new position of Engagement Manager. Carl is building our internal systems, recruiting, and cultivating relationships to help our team engage with even more people, more effectively. Send him an email at carl@btaoregon.org and ask him how to get involved in one of our campaigns: https://btaoregon.org/blueprint/

          If I had to guess why you are having such a different experience with Oregon Climate on Tuesday nights it is because they are working on one public policy issue, a cap and dividend bill in the 2015 Oregon Legislature, they are working outside the system without the support of mainstream environmental groups, polling data, or legislators in leadership, and they are relying almost entirely on volunteer capacity to run their campaign. This is great and important work and I am personally very inspired by the effort. Thank you for kicking ass and trying to save the planet. I hope you win.

          I’m open to this conversation and I’m open to the criticism that BTA can and should be doing more. Believe me when I say that we are growing our staff, constantly evaluating our approach, and setting incredibly high goals for our campaigns. We are working to balance advocacy and organizing in the right mix to maximize our impact with limited resources. We are doing all this as fast as we can and as well as we can while getting better every day.

          One of the final points I’ll make is that much of the conversation of the last few days has been focused on one city, Portland. We are working in more than a handful of cities in the metropolitan region and campaigning for policy and funding victories at the regional and state level with Metro, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and Oregon Legislature. When I think about all the public policy venues where BTA has a significant presence and I think about all the expectations on us to be the bicycle advocate in those venues, I am keenly aware that our commitments to achieving dozens of tangible policy, project and funding victories takes precious time away from cultivating an even larger base of engaged grassroots advocates. That is part of the reason we have dedicated one of our best staff members away from direct advocacy and towards helping us create better grassroots engagement.

          Thanks again, Michael, for thinking so critically about these issues and pushing the public conversation.

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        • SteveG April 23, 2015 at 7:59 pm

          Michael-

          Volunteering for Oregon Climate is a better (ie way more leveraged) use of your time anyway. If Oregon becomes the first state to implement a Cap and Dividend policy we’ll reclaim the mantle of being the most environmentally-progressive state in the U.S. And that might just allow us to cut fossil fuel use fast enough to stabilize the climate.

          Cap and Dividend as proposed by Oregon Climate would also raise the price of gas (and lower the relative cost of living for non-drivers) so you’ll still be doing a great service for the walking and biking cause.

          And lastly, because the revenue raised via Cap and Dividend would go back — as an annual dividend of somewhere around $1,000 — to all Oregonians, this “Robin Hood” policy would become as politically unassailable as the Alaska Permanent Fund.

          Yes, more people on bikes is an important environmental goal, but working for Cap and Dividend with Oregon Climate and putting price on carbon is WAY MORE important and effective.

          Please get involved!: http://www.oregonclimare.org

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          • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
            Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 23, 2015 at 10:02 pm

            Ha! Don’t worry, Steve, I’m not going to stop volunteering for Oregon Climate even if the BTA asks … all my available bike-related volunteer time is built into my job already. 🙂

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 22, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      RE: Mia’s list. Let’s take a quick stab at how we’re doing on each.

      1. Political leadership

      No. None. See my opinion piece from last week.

      2. Advocates (an organized group)

      Yes. Sort of. We have the BTA, a large organized group and lots of small and scrappy activist groups. But we still have an advocacy gap in Portland. I think we’re missing something in between no-budget grassroots groups and the big and conservative/mainstream BTA.

      3. City Staff/Planners who ‘get it’ and at least some who actually ride bikes

      Yes. Some of the best staff a city could dream of. But not perfect. Many PBOT planners have been around a long time. I would love to see some new faces and some folks who have that sense of urgency around biking that isn’t willing to always do things “the portland way”.

      4. A good bike plan

      Yes. Sort of. We have a good plan but 5 years later and we still haven’t attached any $$$ to it and we still have not adopted it into the Transportation System Plan (which means it’s essentially toothless).

      5. A dedicated source of local money (which can be leveraged toward larder grants)

      No. We do have some dedicated local money… but it’s such a small amount that it’s laughable.

      Maybe I should turn this into a post.

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      • Adam H. April 25, 2015 at 12:34 pm

        IMO, #1 is the most important. If you have political leadership (on any issue, really), they will almost always seem to find the funds. Except when they don’t — see: Street Fee.

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  • jeremy cohen April 21, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    I think these ideas are all nice, however, the article is titled oddly. It should read “What you can do right now to improve bicycling in Portland in some distant future” By putting the “right now” at the end of the sentence there is false hope given that the suggestions are actions that will improve the biking now. As long as the suggestions all involve writing, calling, supporting and telling elected officials our desires right now does not apply.

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  • Randy April 22, 2015 at 6:07 am

    Reward citizens who use low/no pollution modes of travel.

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  • Mary C April 22, 2015 at 7:32 am

    I am frustrated with the city for spending all this money on overhead traffic boards telling us it will take 5 minutes to get from A to B on the freeway. Instead, they should have used all that money to improve bike lanes and safety for cyclists downtown and out towards the suburbs.

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    • davemess April 22, 2015 at 8:24 am

      Completely agree with you (esp. on routes where you only alternative route is to go through neighborhoods on lower trafficked streets), but I’m pretty sure that was federal money used for those boards.

      Even still, I have no idea why they have to be in color?

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    • wsbob April 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

      “I am frustrated with the city for spending all this money on overhead traffic boards telling us it will take 5 minutes to get from A to B on the freeway. …” Mary C

      What’s the problem you see with providing road users with that information? I don’t know for a fact, all the reasons transportation departments use electronic reader boards to provide that information, but I believe traffic congestion relief and avoidance are among them.

      Traffic engineers can program the boards to provide a range of different info, which is a very useful thing to be able to do. Often, the Hwy 26 reader board will inform about collisions on other main routes through or beyond the city, which gives road users advance notice so they can plan an alternative route and avoid having to be stuck in traffic until the collision is cleared up.

      As I wrote in an earlier comment here:

      http://bikeportland.org/2015/04/21/guest-post-can-improve-bicycling-portland-right-now-139732#comment-6351264

      …I wonder if it’s possible to use the electronic boards on Barbur to alter posted speed limits on the road during certain hours of the day. That may be a viable alternative idea to a road diet, for improvement in safety in use of the road by people biking.

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    • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Where did the City put such things?

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      • Paul Cone April 27, 2015 at 9:53 am

        The City didn’t — ODOT put those boards up, on state highways.

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  • Jon April 22, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Amanda Fritz is 100% anti bike. She talks just like every other strident anti-bicycle person. She may hide her bias most of the time but I think quotes like that below show her true sentiments. I suspect that if she could she would not add another foot of bike lane in the city. I used to support her but now all she seems to care about is mental health issues which are really handled by the county not the city.

    From OPB and BikePortland: http://www.opb.org/news/blog/newsblog/portland-police-target-bicyclists-skateboarders-roller-bladers-on-city-sidewalks/

    Wheels down on the sidewalk has long been a problem in America’s Bike Capital. BikePortland reports that in 2011, Commissioner Amanda Fritz confronted the issue at at two press conferences, and during the second, she threatened to vote against a bike share system if people didn’t follow city laws.

    “I may support a bike sharing program downtown when I see bike riders using downtown streets and sidewalks in a safe manner,” she said during a city council meeting.

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  • Aixe Djelal April 22, 2015 at 10:01 am

    These ideas are fine, and I signed the linked petitions. I hope something comes of the petitions. I know that the BTA works hard to advocate for and educate about cycling, but I am not so sure that our local government actually listens.

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  • Oregon Mamacita April 22, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Well my frenemies:
    Here is the reason that Portland is not going to get that bike share station outside of Nordstrom’s:
    http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/04/the-latest-sign-of-bike-shares-social-equity-problem/391095/
    Select quotes: “In Washington, D.C. Half of the roughly 3,500 survey respondents (members of capital bike share) reported having six-figure incomes.”
    “If bike-share operators don’t place stations in low-income areas, then it gets harder to make the case for these systems as true components of the transit network. They still might hold great value as an amenity, but their claim on public street space meant for everyone gets harder to stake.”
    Sorry, but the BTA’s agenda ignores the area where the bulk of Portland lives.

    No mention of Gateway Green? But downtown gets even more funding?
    Sorry, but the BTA will get zero support from me.

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    • gutterbunnybikes April 22, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Honestly, I’m torn on bike share. The revenue stream is based on tourist dollars and most the systems in the US aren’t about public transportation or giving access to the poorer communities like they claim they do.

      However, they do give us some very eye opening statistics on how much bicycle selection and riding style effect incidents. Millions of rides with few to no incidents most with minimal safety equipment, most riders not wearing helmets. It shows how Copenhagen style (big, upright bicycles, more casual pace) bicycle riding is a valid option- that it works in the US. and in many ways is completely different than US bicycle selection (fast competitive bicycles) and ridership styles.

      And as much as I hate to admit it, it might end up being one of the big factors that really changes the perceptions of bicycles in this country.

      I still think Trimet should take over bikeshare, they got stations spread out in various social and economic geographical locations), and transport options already, wouldn’t be difficult to add bicycles to the mix. I know that I’d be more likely to not take my car to say Beaverton, if I could take the max, rent a bicycle for the mile or two between the station and my destination, than I am willing to now -even with my folding bicycle.

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  • Bald One April 22, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Hey it’s Earth Day today, how about some focus on how the city wants to continue it’s out-dated focus in PBOT on moving commercial freight through the city using ancient, polluting diesel rigs. Farmers in the valley ought to be encouraged to find new ways to get their cattle feed to Japan, Korea, China without driving it down Portland neighborhood streets to the rail and port depots. PBOT has an emphasis on maintaining status quo by cow-towing to freight interests at the expense of livability in this rapidly changing city. State DEQ needs to follow California and restrict old truck engines and promote healthy air quality in Portland. These are my issues: reduce emphasis on freight priority first at PBOT, reduce air pollution at state level by restricting old heavy-haul trucks. These will both help promote safety and health for cycling in Portland.

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    • Oregon Mamacita April 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

      It is inexcusable that ODOT allows Oregon to be the dumping ground for old diesel trucks. Very important point by the Bald dude. When such obvious low-hanging fruit is there (ban dirty trucks) the failure of Leah treat, ODOT, Novick et al becomes glaringly apparent.

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      • Bald One April 22, 2015 at 2:11 pm

        At the state level, it’s actually DEQ’s responsibility for engine pollution, although I think the road agencies (ODOT, PBOT) could help out and get involved on some other levels. I was thinking PBOT could take some steps to exclude the really big trucks out of my neighborhood without re-classifying some of the roads (city roads, not ODOT roads; for example SE 26th Ave; SE Gladstone St) as commercial freight paths by restricting the number of axles or gross GVW weights allowed on these smaller streets. In this way, they could allow commercial deliveries to continue without allowing the 53′ metal box intermodal containers that the railroad likes to run through our neighborhoods all day and night on out of state licensed trailers and old, polluting tractor rigs. Enforcement of driver logs, rig safety and compliance, and weight-mile tax auditing (these guys don’t pay gas taxes at the pump and instead keep “journals” for their weight-mile fuel taxes) of these operators would also be something that ODOT and Portland could do.

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        • paikiala April 22, 2015 at 2:38 pm

          State law exempts local deliveries from the ‘no trucks’ postings.

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    • CaptainKarma April 22, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Go By Train.

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    • Tait April 23, 2015 at 12:38 am

      Without any major shippers using the port anymore due to labor conflicts, that problem might solve itself. Farmers will find themselves having to ship through Tacoma and Seattle since the ships won’t be in Portland anymore. (Of course they’ll have to get their goods to those northern ports by truck, but that’s I-5, not within-city.)

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  • Harry Dalgaard April 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Hey Jonathan/Michael/ Gerik,

    What about providing a quick a guide or primer about how to participate in city hall meetings?

    What should be expected?
    What are best practices?
    When and where do meetings occur?
    How does one get on the agenda?
    What common messages should be front and center?

    When advocating as part of the Oregon Delegation at the National Bike Summit, educational primers like this are essential to get everyone up to speed and speaking a common language. Might be helpful in getting people to show up at city hall meetings.

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  • Ted April 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    “What you can do to improve bicycling in Portland right now.”

    Improve cycling how? and for Whom? From what I can tell, the best way for many Portlanders to improve their cycling is to pump up their tires, get a bike that fits them, and/or lube their chains.

    Look at any of the millions of comments made on this blog and you will see the WIDE breadth and variety of perspectives on anything to do with biking. To suggest that cyclists can be/should be a united voice is not accepting of the reality. Cyclists are the overwhelming minority in this, and any city. And within that minority are any number of user groups with sometimes different/sometime over-lapping interests, wants, and desires…so that small voice is fractured further.

    This blog post offers one list of potential things that could help “improve cycling.” The comments have many, many more additions to that list. Would it be worth it to try and prioritize all the things that COULD be done and focus on them one by one? Somehow I doubt it.

    Therefore we are left making noise about our own pet-peeves and the City turns a deaf ear because our issues are all over the map…despite that, our city has very good bike infrastructure so there is cause for hope. But if you think posting comments to this blog about what “the City” should do to make your personal world a better place is going to affect change, you are likely to be disappointed.

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  • randy April 22, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Imagine ~ One More Bike

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  • doug B April 23, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    What can you do to improve bicycling in Portland right now? How about getting on your bicycles as often as you can, smile, slow down once in awhile, enjoy the surroundings. Maybe be more courteous to other people using the streets and trails, be friendly.
    The are hundreds of reasons that people ride bicycles in Portland: environmental, financial, for simplicity, out of necessity, for convenience, exercise, mental health, etc, etc, etc. What we need to remember is that 90% of the time riding a bicycle is fun. Sure lobbying local, state, and federal gov’ts might help. But in my opinion, we would all improve our own perceptions of bicycling in the city and attract more people to ride if we took a little time to enjoy the ride, and maybe see those positives and share them with others.

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