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Touting ‘Platinum’ status, Commisioner Novick proclaims Active Transportation Week

Posted by on May 1st, 2015 at 12:54 pm

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Bureau of Transportation staff have had their say about grumblings in the community that Portland doesn’t deserve its “Platinum” bicycle-friendly status*.

Now it’s City Hall’s turn.

In an statement to kick off National Bike Month in Portland, PBOT spokesperson Diane Dulken said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales will announce next week that May 10-16th will be Active Transportation Week in Portland. The proclamation was written by PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick and will cite, “Portland as a Platinum bicycle-friendly city, Sunday Parkways’ popularity and that bicycling has changed commute choices, reducing single-commuter trips from 64 percent to 57 percent since 2000.”

Here’s more from Novick about why he supports Bike Month. “Bicycles are serious business,” he said in the city’s statement. “Bicyclists are healthier than car commuters, saving millions in health care costs. Bicyclists are reducing carbon emissions and preserving the planet. Also, the bicycle community contributes millions to our local economy and to the resiliency of our city.”

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This is the most proactive bicycling talk we’ve heard from City Hall since Hales and Novick took office in 2013.

PBOT and City Hall will host events throughout May as part of Portland Bike Month. Here’s are some of the events planned:

A “Quick Fix Bike Breakfast” at City Hall on May 5 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Visitors can have dusty but functional bikes quickly fixed up with free air for their tires and lube for chains. Breakfast snacks and coffee will also be served for free.

PBOT will kick off its Sunday Parkways season on Mother’s Day, May 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in East Portland. Portland Sunday Parkways presented by Kaiser Permanente is a series of family-friendly events that creates a car-free loop on city streets where participants can walk, jog, bicycle, roller skate, skate board and dance. The on-street loop also connects several parks where people can enjoy food and healthy, fun activities.

For the first time ever, PBOT will hold an “Every Bike Counts” 24-hour Bike Count on SE 28th and Ankeny beginning noon on May 14. Volunteers will work round-the-clock to tally all bike rides through that crossing and hear why people ride and where they go.

There are also free clinics and guided bike rides planned through the summer. Check out PDXBikeMonth.com for all the details.

*If you’re wondering about the status of Will Vanlue and his fellow activists’ Platinum downgrade petition effort, so far 678 people have signed it. Vanlue also sent Mayor Hales a letter this morning with a list of actions he can take to “give the City a clear picture of the crashes that are occurring on our streets, take advantage of opportunities for cost-effective conflict reduction, and continue to build faith in the City’s progress towards improving safety for people getting around on bikes.” We’ll keep you posted if and how the Mayor responds.

CORRECTION, 3:04 pm: This article originally made it seem like Mayor Hales was behind Active Transportation Week. While the mayor supports the effort and will read the proclamation at Council as per usual protocol, the actual draft of the proclamation was written by Commissioner Novick. Sorry for any confusion.

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39 Comments
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    Allan May 1, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    24 hour bike count seems like it would be more easily accomplished with hoses. PR stunt?

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      Brad May 1, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Not if it’s an intersection count where you want to track all the different turning movements in each direction. That’s still typically done manually.

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        paikiala May 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        True. And usually only at the AM and PM peak hours.

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        J_R May 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm

        I think it would be great to have some 24-hour counts. That would let us judge the validity of the claim that the daily volume is five times that of the 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm two-hour period. Personally, I don’t believe it’s applicable to bikes. It would be good to see some data.

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          paikiala May 4, 2015 at 10:11 am

          8 AM and 5 PM hours.

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    RH May 1, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Hey Charlie: “For every dollar spent on bike-related infrastructure, cities can receive anywhere from $6 to $24 in cost savings in the form of reductions to pollution and traffic congestion, as well as lowered health care costs from decreased traffic fatalities and increased exercise.”

    That’s a very good return on an investment! Build it…Now!

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      9watts May 1, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      RH for mayor!

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    Adam H. May 1, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Heh, looks like that petition succeeded in getting City Hall to talk about bikes again. Hoping this results in action rather than more talk. Hales/Novick, please push (and identify dedicated funding) for a build-out of a network of protected bike lanes!

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      invisiblebikes May 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Yeah I agree and that was my whole reasoning behind signing the petition. It also makes me chuckle at the hypercritical people that said signing it would do more harm than good.
      But what they were not realizing is when “the People” threaten to take away a prized possession of “the City” the politico’s sit up and take notice pretty quick!

      Now we just need to keep the pressure and make sure the City follows through.

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        paikiala May 1, 2015 at 2:57 pm

        The ‘people’ are not LAB. LAB determines, by whatever means, who gets what shiny metal award.

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      Adam H. May 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      A great way to kick off Bike Week would be to announce funding for bike projects! Hales is sitting on a heap of surplus funds, after all…

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        J_R May 1, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        I fear that a bunch of that cash will be held for subsequent years because of the State Supreme Court ruling that invalidates the cost-cutting measures for PERS enacted by the legislature in 2013.

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      Brian May 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      That and a TON of work put in by the mountain bike community to improve off-road cycling, including getting the LAB and IMBA to write a letter directly to the Mayor.

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    CaptainKarma May 1, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    No platinum bike town should have the bike theft industry we have here.

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    Jeff TB May 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Squeaky wheel! I find this both awesome and hilarious. “I declare this “‘active transportation week’!” Seems so 2000’s, but welcome to the party, Charlie!

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    Todd Boulanger May 1, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Too bad the CoP / City Hall PR section did not talk to anyone in the PBoT section about the icon used for their “platinum” outreach. (My assumption.)

    I love Bike Sharrows, when used properly…but this tool has been misused too often and now is commonly called the “politician’s bike lane”.

    When I think of platinum I think of bike tracks/ separated bike lanes…and not sharrows slapped down like Seattle (2008) and Vancouver WA (2014) have done.

    Perhaps a missed step at City Hall…I hope the pop up tents and banners have not been ordered yet and there is time to reviews the graphic.

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      9watts May 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      The olive green chevrons evoke a military uniform to me.

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      paikiala May 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      PBOT does not follow MUTCD in regards to sharrow markings. I’ve had the same conversation with advocates from other states. The perception that a sharrow is an easy out for creating a safe bike lane.
      Only our test sharrows on 18th and 19th, typically fall into that category.

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        Beeblebrox May 1, 2015 at 3:30 pm

        I would actually prefer an approach somewhere in the middle. We should use sharrows to mark non-local streets that are part of the bike network but where we think the land use is such that taking over the curb zone for bike lanes is undesirable due to the need for parking (car and bike), loading, bus bulbs, curb extensions, etc. For example, sharrows would be great on NE 28th Ave, since parking removal is unlikely anytime soon. Alberta and Mississippi are other examples. Perhaps we could use green-backed sharrows to mark these as busier streets than neighborhood greenways.

        By the way, the Bike Plan for 2030 does have a category of improvement that would consist of sharrows on higher-volume, higher-speed streets–“Enhanced Shared Roadway”–but so far it doesn’t appear to be a tool we have actually implemented (much like advisory bike lanes).

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          paikiala May 1, 2015 at 4:01 pm

          Advisory bike lanes are not legally defined in Oregon law, so PBOT is hesitant to go there.
          You seem to be arguing in favor of the practice Todd is arguing against.
          I disagree that there is a reasonable shared lane on a higher speed roadway.
          Safe Systems design tell us that a person struck at 20 mph has a 10% risk of fatality. At 30 mph the risk is over 75%. this means to me that you cannot have both a high speed road and a shared lane. PBOT has proposed to ODOT that no roadway with an adjacent marked bike lane should be posted higher than 30 mph. Separate space would be the minimum standard for bike use on a road posted above 25 mph.
          The inevitable conclusion is that such streets without space for bike lanes will need to have parking removed.

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            Pete May 1, 2015 at 6:56 pm

            I completely agree with you, but one exception where I think sharrows would do well is in the situation where a lane is added just before an intersection. In this scenario the bike lane basically spits the bicyclist out into the middle of the new lane, and that’s often a better place for them to avoid being right-hooked at the subsequent intersection. I’ve seen this on several roads with 35 and 40 MPH speed limits. Instead what we have there is a bike lane that starts to the far right of the new block and gives drivers the impression that the bicyclist is not supposed to be in the middle of the lane. The safest behavior is for the driver to slow and turn right behind (or even to the right of) the bicyclist, but instead they are encouraged by the bicyclist’s sudden sharp movement to the right (to get in the bike lane) to go ahead and pass and then turn right in front of the biker. From what I perceive, sharrows for the duration of that block (with the bike lane resuming on the other side of the intersection) would communicate to both driver and bicyclist that it’s OK to merge safely here and that it’s not one’s job to jump out of the way of the other.

            This is one of my preferred illustrations of this scenario:
            https://goo.gl/maps/M8aqW
            (Sadly a bicyclist was killed in this intersection last week).

            There is now a confusing painted bulb-out here that’s supposed to keep drivers separated from the bike lane here. It can be seen in this video (0:20): https://youtu.be/4D4Y50th_lc?t=12s

            But yeah, sharrows are not wayfinders. 😉

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              paikiala May 4, 2015 at 10:22 am

              In Portland, sharrows are used on our neighborhood greenways to remind people driving to expect to find cyclist, more than usual, on that street. Portland also varies the chevron to guide cyclist on these low-speed and low-volume routes.
              Portland has begun using sharrows where a bike lane drops for a right turn lane. These are often on district collectors that are multi-lane and clogged with cars during peak times. The added right turn lanes help reduce congestion and rear-end collisions, and shared turn lanes probably reduce the likelihood of right hooks.
              Examples:
              https://goo.gl/maps/FDGqq
              https://goo.gl/maps/avl7W

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            soren May 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm

            Hawthorne and Alberta are signed at 25 mph. Do you have a good argument why these kinds of commerical roads that see heavy use by people who bike should not be sharrowed (at least until funding for better facilities is found 5, 10, or 50 years from now )?

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    Angel May 1, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    I’m super excited about the 24 hour bike count. What a great idea!

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    Brad May 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    This administration is great at talking about what they want to do. Not so great about actually doing anything. God forbid that action might result in even the slightest bit of political discomfort or criticism.

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    J. E. May 1, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I’m conflicted on the bike count. On the one hand, I want to ride to the intersection, be counted, and show support for bicycle infrastructure. On the other hand, I don’t want to support an inflated count that city hall can then flaunt, proclaiming our streets are overflowing with bicycles “even without those pesky diverters.” It’s the same debate as Clinton: do I ride it to show support for the greenway, or avoid it to show it’s not a bicycle-friendly street and needs fixing?

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      9watts May 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Do what you were going to do; don’t worry about what they might do with your number. Gaming this count would suggest a lot rides on it, which is almost certainly not true.

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    Aaron May 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    The platinum status is nonsense. I rode home during rush hour on Clinton last night and saw cars far out number bikes. Only 6% of Portland commutes by bike. It’s still a car dominated city.

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      paikiala May 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      It depends on where you rode. On Clinton during the 5 PM hour the % of traffic that is people on bikes varies between about 20% and 100%.

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    Terry D-M May 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    OK I agree these are all worthy things to say and do, but how about restoring all funding that was cut from the bike projects over the past few years? Fritz could also earmark Gateway Green Funding.

    http://www.pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/258868-130257-portlands-budget-flush-with-additional-49-million-to-spend

    Talk is cheap. Money counts.

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    PeeJay May 1, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Hoping for the best. I say this completely sincerely.

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    Dwaine Dibbly May 1, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I worry that if the local politicians keep saying “We’re a Platinum City” they’ll start to believe it and nothing will ever improve.

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      J_R May 1, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      They haven’t “started to believe it;” they already wholeheartedly believe it. “Mission accomplished.” Heard that before?

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    resopmok May 1, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Blah Blah Blah please re-elect me blah blah blah

    I wanna see money spent and I wanna see more facilities built. Pulling this festering garbage out of your rear end 6 months before your job is on the line doesn’t make it smell any better. You wanna take credit for growth that’s happened since 2000? How about we look at the track record for the past 3.5 years instead. Whatever happened to that $20 million that was supposed to be put into the 2030 master bike plan? Oh, must’ve forgot to push those scraps off the table. This mealy-mouthed BS is about as hard to see through as the Louvre.

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    Eric May 4, 2015 at 12:17 am

    A platinum city would write more tickets. Where is PPB’s response to the petition?

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    GirlOnTwoWheels May 4, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Where I agree with the frustration about the lack of continued bike infrastructure in Portland over the last few years, as I work my way across the country by bike, I am finding that there really is no place like home. Where back road riding in Idaho, Montana and North Dakota has been a great experience, riding in any city has me fearing for my life. I agree that we need to continue to push for progress, but when I have been riding other cities both big and small, I have realized just how lucky we are in Portland to have the infrastructure we do.

    I am riding through towns and cities that would be great for biking if people would give up their pick up for a day. But it doesn’t even occur to most people. Many of these places don’t even have sidewalks to ride on or shoulders on major streets and state highways.

    Could Portland do more? Of course. Would protected bike lanes be nice? Yes. However we are still leaps and bounds ahead of most of the country. Let’s keep that in mind as well.

    It doesn’t matter that I haven’t ridden Minnesota yet or that some major cities are making progress we aren’t. We are in the top 1% of bike cities in this county. Honestly, we are a little spoiled when you take a step back and look at the big picture. Even our streets that need repaving are better off than many of the roads I have been riding on this trip.

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      paikiala May 4, 2015 at 10:23 am

      The pace in Portland has slowed, but it has not ceased.

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    Darin Wick May 4, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I’d be more impressed with this apparent show of commitment to the bike community if the city had integrated more with the bike community when planning it. Why are these not on the SHIFT calendar? Why haven’t I seen them promoted at bike shops and through community bike organizations? And, of course, where is the funding for infrastructure improvements?

    [That said, I’m glad the city is trying. The bike count sounds awesome, and I look forward to seeing interesting analyses of that data.]

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