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County’s draft Sauvie Island transportation plan would discourage “recreational bicycle activities” – UPDATED

Posted by on August 25th, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Sauvie Island Strawberry Ride

Is too much cycling on Sauvie Island a bad thing? Should the County collect a fee from riders?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”
— Policy 5.6 of the draft Sauvie Island and Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and Transportation System Plan

Multnomah County will host a public hearing for the Sauvie Island and Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and Transportation System Plan (PDF) this Thursday and a veteran advocate who sits on the County’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee says some policy language in the plan is “unacceptable.” That same advisory committee referred to the language as “discriminatory.”

Sauvie Island sits about 10 miles north of downtown Portland. Its beautiful roads, proximity to Portland, and rural character have made it a popular place for many people — in cars and on bikes — who want to escape the city and enjoy the island’s farms, markets and beaches. According to the Sauvie Island Community Association, over 1.5 million people visit every year. Last year the County counted over 1,700 bicycle riders on the island during the month of October, with some weekends seeing over 350 riders per day.

Because the roads are narrow and people don’t always use them with enough caution and consideration for others, and due to the island’s active agricultural and farming operations, traffic safety was a key component of the transportation system plan update. From the start of the planning process nearly two years ago, we expected that cycling and road safety would play a major role in the plan’s development.

What we didn’t expect was the Planning Commission’s draft policy language that would make it official county policy to discourage bicycling on Sauvie Island.

Andrew Holtz, a member of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, emailed us this morning to say he’s concerned about a specific policy that has remained in the draft plan despite the committee’s insistence that it should be deleted.

Here’s the language Holtz and the bike advisory committee are concerned with. It’s Policy 5.9 in the Manage Travel Demand section of the draft Sauvie Island/Multnomah Channel Transportation System Plan (emphasis mine):

“Implement a range of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policies encouraging existing businesses and requiring new development (beyond single family residential use and agricultural uses) to help reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), maximize use of existing facilities and alleviate congestion on US 30 and county roads caused by seasonal and special event traffic. Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”

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Additionally, project number 15 in the draft plan’s list of “Planned projects and programs” states that the county would work with Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to implement higher auto parking and permit fees and possibly limit the number of permits. That project would also “include bicycle permitting.”

At an April 15th public workshop hosted by Kittelson and Associates Inc. (the consultants on the plan update), the idea of tolling bicycle riders was suggested. Kittelson included that idea in a technical memo sent to Multnomah County back in June:

Bicycle and Pedestrian Treatments – Collect a bike fee from recreational bikers on Sauvie Island.

Another comment from someone on the plan’s Citizen Advisory Committee put it more bluntly: “Do not attract more bicycles to the area.”

At the July 8th meeting of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, members discussed who on the island is opposed to cycling. The draft minutes from that meeting (which aren’t published yet, but were sent to BikePortland by request) state that there are several groups of Sauvie Island residents who oppose “recreational cycling” — including members of the Sauvie Island Community Association.

(A study of traffic data by Multnomah County showed that there were no reported crashes involving people walking or biking on any county roads on Sauvie Island between 2007 and 2013. The majority of crashes that were tracked involved motor vehicle operators who hit a fixed object or ran off the road.)

The County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee wants the comments about discouraging “recreational cycling” to be removed entirely from the draft plan. They say the County has a responsibility to all of the island’s road users — including people who use the roads for cycling.

Instead of a policy that discourages cycling, the advisory committee “felt overwhelming” (according to its meeting minutes) that the County should actually be encouraging cycling.

Holtz says, “It’s time to make sure the County commissioners hear from people,” about this issue. He’s urging everyone with concerns about these policies to contact the County’s planning staff via email at simcplanning@multco.us*. Holtz also says it would be helpful to contact Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury (mult.chair@multco.us) and District 1 Commissioner Jules Bailey (district1@multco.us) in advance of Thursday’s hearing. *Note that today (8/25) is the final day to submit written comments about this plan.

If you have time to make a public comment in person, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners meets Thursday (8/27) at 9:30 am and this Sauvie Island Plan update is the first thing on the agenda.

UPDATE, 2:45pm: County spokesman Dave Austin tells us that County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Jules Bailey are aware of the language in the draft plan and on Thursday they plan to propose an amendment that will strike the language from the plan. Austin added that it’s standard procedure for the Chair and Commissioners to allow the Planning Commission to go through their complete plan development process without weighing in about specific input until the public hearing.

A reader also shared an email response he received from Kafoury’s office today:

“I wanted to follow up and let you know that Chair Kafoury was surprised by the language that the Planning Commission included differentiating recreational uses from other bicycle uses. She is working on an amendment that will strike that language in concert with Commissioner Jules Bailey. The amendment will likely be discussed this Thursday and adopted next week.”

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90 Comments
  • tedder August 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Permit and/or toll bicycle riders? WAT.

    It isn’t April 1, Mr. Maus.

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    • John Lascurettes August 25, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Fine, let’s toll all recreational users of Sauvie Island! If you don’t live on Sauvie Island, then pay a toll. Let’s see how well that will sit with pick-your-own farms on the island.

      Because who’s to say that if I don’t live on the island and bike there that I’m not there to spend money? How do you decide if someone is a recreational cyclist or a transportation cyclist? This is absurd. It would only make sense if they tolled everybody and chased all visitors away from visiting the island.

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      • Psyfalcon August 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm

        I’m more likely to stop and buy a drink and some berries if I’m pedaling than driving the farm roads.

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      • Tim August 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm

        Maybe they should toll the vehicles for the new very expensive bridge to Sauvie Island. Bikes were just fine with the load limit on the old bridge, so they shouldn’t need to pay.

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      • Rob Chapman August 25, 2015 at 4:19 pm

        Pedaling out to Kruger’s for shave ice is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s been too long for me.

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    • Joseph E August 25, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      According to Multnomah County, the average daily traffic is about 4000 motor vehicles a day. A $3 one-way toll would pay off the $43 million dollar bridge replacement in 30 years, if traffic was not reduced by the toll. More likely the toll would need to be $4 or $5 to pay for maintenance and depreciation.

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  • Chris Anderson August 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Anyone want to join in an 8 mph recreational car2go parade around the island?

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    • KristenT August 25, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Not even just Car2Go–I’ve got a large group of friends who like to drive recreationally, and I can write a nice road rally route that tours the island at or a few mph below the speed limit.

      This thing makes me have this thought : If they ban recreational bike riding, what’s the say they aren’t going to eventually ban recreational driving (“to see the scenery”, etc)? What’s the stop them?

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  • Scott H August 25, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    It should be as simple as this: it has been common knowledge for sometime now that bike tourism supports local economies, more so than automobile tourism. Whoever helped draft that plan has no idea what they’re talking about and should be reassigned to have nothing to do with transportation.

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  • Dan August 25, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Maybe they should discourage recreational driving too. See how well the farms do with no visitors.

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    • Gary August 25, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Remember, they’re only worried about “purely” recreational cycling, so visiting farms wouldn’t count. Let’s talk about my last recreational (but not purely) visit to Kruger, when amongst the peaceful berry-picking I listened to high-powered motorcycles screaming up and down the road going clearly excessive speeds with seemingly “purely recreational” intent. But hey, they should definitely worry about those dangerous, loud, obtrusive bicycles.

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      • Dan August 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm

        They could turn my purely recreational cycling into partly recreational cycling if there were more places to stop and spend money. There’s one store with fishing stuff and heat-lamp chicken strips, and that’s about it. Maybe add a brewpub?

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  • RH August 25, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve always wanted to bike Sauvie, but never felt comfortable due to the width of the road 🙁

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    • Dan August 25, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      I’ve always been passed courteously there, in ~15 rides around the loop. Driving speeds are pretty low too. No idea what the issue is here…

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    • Joseph E August 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      It’s fine. If you can stand biking on Hwy 30 to get there!

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  • pat lowell August 25, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    So no Kruger’s Crossing this year, then?

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  • mran1984 August 25, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Some local must have a strong hold on “someone’s” ear. Reminds me of access issues in FP.

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    • Alex August 26, 2015 at 8:02 am

      That is exactly what I was thinking…In fact, I think the main opponent to riding bikes in FP lives on Sauvie Island.

      NIMBY much?

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      • Alex August 26, 2015 at 11:19 am

        Also, it looks like her husband is the president (and temporarily holds 2 other seats) of the Sauvie Island Community Association. Looking forward to seeing those minutes.

        Funny how that works…Such environmentalists.

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  • WAR August 25, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Just put in some shoulders already.

    Anyways. Why haven’t FREDS taken to pedal power helicopters yet?

    The rolling coal wont reach you up there.

    Why be a peasant?

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    • Tim August 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      It is not a case of “just put in some shoulders”. The roads are on levees, so widening the roads requires USACE permitting for levees that are probably substandard to begin with. Then the shoulders add impervious surface requiring stormwater management and permitting and then there is wetland mitigation for all the wetlands to be covered by fill. Pretty significant environmental impacts because some people don’t want to share.

      Wouldn’t it be easier to share the existing roads.

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  • rick August 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    A pedestrian / bike bridge needs to be built to connect Sauvie Island to North Portland. Build it from Kelly Point Park to NW Gillihan Road or at least Belle Vue Point.

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    • Dan August 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      That’s a really large span, double the length of the current bridge. I can’t see that happening without significant economic reasons (ie. trucks/cars).

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    • Scott H August 25, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      We don’t need fancy new facilities, the current roads just need to be brought into the 21st century.

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      • rick August 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

        What’s wrong with making bridges over the numerous creeks and rivers in the metro area?

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    • Adam August 25, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      How about ferry service instead?

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  • MNBikeLuv August 25, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    *** Another comment from someone on the plan’s Citizen Advisory Committee put it more bluntly: “Do not attract more bicycles to the area.” ***
    Why not name said person if possible?

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  • Adam H. August 25, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Ban “recreational” driving on the island and only allow farm/business workers to drive. Create a new TriMet bus route to connect to the #16 and circulate around the island to various farms and businesses. Make people driving to the island park at the lot near the Sauvie Island Bridge and transfer to the new bus route. Then create parallel bike paths to the main roads so that people riding don’t have to share space with people driving trucks and farm equipment.

    Sauvie Island has the potential to be a great recreational and fun destination for people to ride around mostly flat, bucolic farmlands while supporting local agriculture. Banning cycling is the complete wrong approach here.

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  • Andy August 25, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    “Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”
    Anyone else find this a rather bizarre comment? How would you encourage bicycle riding for transportation while at the same time discouraging it for recreation?

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    • Adam H. August 25, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      Lycra tax?

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      • Dan August 25, 2015 at 3:03 pm

        People don’t bike for transportation in lycra? Weird, I wonder how I got to work.

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        • Adam H. August 25, 2015 at 3:17 pm

          That was a joke. I was mocking the absurdity of banning cycling only for one specific purpose.

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    • 9watts August 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      “’Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.’
      Anyone else find this a rather bizarre comment? ”

      I noticed that too. Very awkwardly worded.

      “How would you encourage bicycle riding for transportation while at the same time discouraging it for recreation?”

      While that is a good question on a small island when, presumably, we’re talking about people who do not already live on Sauvie’s Island, I don’t think we should reflexively dismiss someone’s inclination to differentiate between transportational and recreational activities. As long as there is modal parity. The two are sometimes worth distinguishing. But discouraging recreational bicycling without mentioning recreational driving and motorcycling is transparently punitive.

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    • middle of the road guy August 27, 2015 at 8:56 am

      in other words they want to limit the people who bike there and ride there to train. E.g., not stopping to buy.

      Like me.

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  • Bjorn August 25, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I like riding the island, but the access to the island is not great. Any investment in changes should focus on better cycling facilities along the highway leading to sauvies so that people don’t feel like they need to drive out there and then bike around.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      stay tuned Bjorn,

      ODOT is repaving Hwy 30 between St. Johns Bridge and NW McNamee next summer. It’s a HUGE opportunity for them to improve bicycling conditions.

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      • Adam H. August 25, 2015 at 2:40 pm

        …which will almost certainly turn into a huge missed opportunity for them to improve bicycling conditions. Does ODOT seem open to installing cycle tracks or will we end up with the same painted, maybe slightly wider, bike lanes next to roaring 50 MPH traffic?

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      • Dan August 25, 2015 at 7:47 pm

        That stretch of Hwy 30 would be massively improved if they just SWEPT it once a while.

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        • Psyfalcon August 26, 2015 at 10:26 am

          I bet they don’t want to put the sweeper in danger on the shoulder…

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          • AndyC of Linnton August 26, 2015 at 11:01 am

            Psyfalcon, Dan, Adam & Jonathan Maus:Yes, ODOT is going to repave this section of Highway 30 in 2016. At the Linnton town meeting they attended this spring, ODOT made it clear they have “no budget” to do anything other than resurface the existing road, even though there has been a huge want from residents to narrow the roadway and widen the bike lanes to slow speeds through the main drag here.
            We’ll see. I’m hopeful they will pay attention to our desires, but when ODOT shows up to these meetings, they come off as more of a bully rather than a partner.

            I emailed PBOT a lot this week, and encouraged others who bike this to email and call them about sweeping, as I have been late to work recently a number of times due to the high number of flat tires. From what I gather PBOT is sympathetic to sweeping issues, but since Dirty 30 has such high speeds, they need to have 3 people deployed rather than just one in the street sweeper, I assume. Again, this eats up their budget a lot more with people hours, and they told me to get in touch with Steve Novick & Mayor Hales. I did, and I encourage you to email PBOT, the mayor and Novick about sweeping issues and budget for sweeping on this facility.

            And yeah, What Rebecca says below, email them!

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            • peejay August 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm

              ODOT isn’t going to do a damn thing until there’s a class-action lawsuit to force them to do their job.

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          • Tom Hardy August 26, 2015 at 3:39 pm

            From what I have experiences going through Linnton to St. Helens and back is, the sweeper needs to go through on Saturday and Sunday morning to sweep up all the broken glass that is in the bike paths, (or beyond the fog lines) since many of the “Bike paths” are narrower than the legal state definition and the traffic lanes are wider than the specifications show.

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  • Eric Leifsdad August 25, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    The focus on “recreational” is interesting. Lycra+helme(n)t tax? Maybe a 20mph speed limit and removing the yellow lines would sufficiently discourage freds?

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    • Zach H August 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Pro reference to bikesnob. 😉

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  • Electric Mayhem August 25, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    So people who drive to Sauvie Island will have to pay for a parking permit. People who park and then ride their bike will have to pay for two permits?

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  • nuovorecord August 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    What are the reasons the locals want to discourage recreational cycling? Is there a documented list somewhere?

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  • Daniel Costantino August 25, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Who wrote this? The first issue I have with this policy is not so much the content, as the horrendous English that makes it so hard to decode.

    First of all:” Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use”

    Talk about getting lost in your own jargon. How about: “Encourage the use of bicycles rather than automobiles for transportation”

    Onto the next linguistic crime: “without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities”

    What in the world is a “purely” recreational bicycle activity and how is it distinguished from an impurely recreational bicycle activity? This should just be stricken from the record unless its intent can be stated in more direct terms. Furthermore, if the direct intent is discriminatory (“don’t bike on our public roads if you’re not here to buy our privately-sold goods”), then it can’t be justified.

    And finally: “that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways”

    So the issue is not the activity (recreational cycling) so much as the perceived conflict of use. Wouldn’t the simplest and most elegant strategy to the whole thing be to re-write the whole thing in decent English, say to something like:

    “Encourage the use of bicycles rather than automobiles for transportation, while reducing opportunities for traffic conflicts between the two modes”

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    • 9watts August 25, 2015 at 3:21 pm

      Hear, hear!

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    • Josh Berezin August 25, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      I don’t know, these impure recreational activities sound enticing to me…

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    • Randall S. August 26, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Well, recreation is a hobby, or something done for enjoyment. For example,riding your bike out to Sauvie to purchase goods from a business: recreation. Driving your car out to Sauvie to kennel your dog: recreation. Really, if you don’t work or live on Sauvie, anything you do out there is purely recreational.

      Sorry, business owners of Sauvie: looks like someone wants to shut you down.

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      • Gary August 26, 2015 at 10:53 am

        I think what they meant by “purely” recreational is people pleasure riding, as opposed to visiting/conducting business. The thing is poorly worded, and terribly misguided, but I didn’t find the intent unclear.

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  • PNP August 25, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I’ve ridden on Sauvie Island many times, and I’ve only had one instance where someone passed too close, and that was one of those massive “take your house with you” RV things. Everyone else I’ve met up with out there has been great, including drivers who wait behind me on the curves when they can’t see to pass. I think the folks who are trying to reduce recreational cycling out there are completely in the wrong. I spend money every time I’m there, at the convenience store and elsewhere. It’s just too nice to be able to ride somewhere quiet that’s away from the city.

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  • Adam August 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Was my comment about fishing licenses really that inappropriate?

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  • LC August 25, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I wouldn’t ride there, and I wouldn’t spend money there.

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  • Dan August 25, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Can we discourage ‘purely recreational’ driving on Skyline? It would make it a lot safer on the weekends.

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  • Dave August 25, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    If they can intentionally discourage one class of legal vehicles from one place, then perhaps another class of legal vehicles could be discouraged from another–large pickup trucks and SUV’s from streets below a certain width, for instance.

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  • daisy August 25, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    I totally get this irritation. If you live out there, you’re probably used to the hassle of folks crowding the island in cars for beaches and farm stands and corn mazes, and you can, with some planning, avoid it for the most part.

    But, let’s say you have carefully planned your trip to avoid heavy traffic — and then when you are out running errands in your car, you have to slow down for a minute because of a few folks on bikes. You’re irritated in a way you’re aren’t by vehicle traffic, which you think is normal. Instead you want to rage at the bikes.

    Don’t we see this all the time, everywhere? People in cars don’t notice the other cars speeding and running lights — but one cyclist rolls a stop, and they rage about scofflaws.

    Imagine instead a Sauvie Island with a protected walking and cycling facility separate from the cars. It could be a world-class walking and cycling destination. Families might drive across the bridge, park, and then putter around by bike. More cyclists would show up and buy stuff from the stores and farm stands. And they’d reduce the amount of traffic on the roads overall.

    Even a simple, plain paved bike way next to the road would make such a difference out there. This is such a missed opportunity.

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    • Tim August 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Maybe the people on Sauvie Island who want a road that they don’t need to share should put up the money for the public bridge to the Island. 3 or 4 hundred thousand dollars each should just about do it.

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    • wsbob August 25, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      “…Imagine instead a Sauvie Island with a protected walking and cycling facility separate from the cars. It could be a world-class walking and cycling destination. …” daisy

      Yes, that would be a smart direction to go. The land adjoining the roads are virtually undeveloped with utility and physical structures, so aside from acquiring right of way, engineering and money…it should be clear sailing to build what you suggest.

      Still a good idea, because officially recognized by the county or not, Sauvies Island, besides being a place where people live and work, has been for years, a key recreational destination for many people from Portland and other surrounding cities.

      The whole issue sounds like a tempest in a teapot:

      “…it’s standard procedure for the Chair and Commissioners to allow the Planning Commission to go through their complete plan development process without weighing in about specific input until the public hearing. …”

      Sounds as though to offer a response to some people from the island that have had difficulty with recreational bike use of the island, the commission decided to throw a wild card into their draft plan. Knowing most likely, that the language objected to, wouldn’t stand much of a chance of being included in the final plan.

      The language in the draft about not encouraging recreational bike use on the island, has served to get some attention drawn to an important issue though.

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    • middle of the road guy August 27, 2015 at 9:04 am

      World class??

      It’s still just a flat island. Get serious.

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  • oliver August 25, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I just sent an angry letter to everyone on the list incl ODFW.

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    • dan August 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Want to share the text for those of us who are too lazy to write our own from scratch? 🙂

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      • Rebecca August 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm

        If any of this is useful to you, rip away! – rh

        To Whom it May Concern,
        I am writing to express my deep disappointment and concern over the language regarding recreational cycling in the draft Sauvie Island transportation plan. Specifically:

        “Implement a range of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policies encouraging existing businesses and requiring new development (beyond single family residential use and agricultural uses) to help reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), maximize use of existing facilities and alleviate congestion on US 30 and county roads caused by seasonal and special event traffic. Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”

        This position is discriminatory and short-sighted. Cyclists are road users who are fully within their legal rights to use these publicly funded roads for recreation, for pure transportation, or for transportation that they happen to find enjoyable, just like car drivers or motorcyclists. By codifying and promoting this negative attitude towards one type of road user you will encourage negative behavior towards those users – behavior that could be threatening, menacing, or physically dangerous for all cyclists, not just the recreational cyclists you intend to exclude.

        If you are trying to limit cycling on and around the island in order to reduce VMT, maximize use of existing facilities, and alleviate congestion on US 30 as well as reducing vehicle conflict on the roadways, the public deserves to see a traffic study performed and stamped by a professional engineer that supports your implied claim that recreational cycling is a significant contributor to any of these conditions. Given the relative volume of car drivers to cyclists, it is highly unlikely that this is the case. Also, crash records for the island are not indicative of a safety concern caused by car/bicycle “vehicle conflicts”. Your justification for this discriminatory position is backed by indefensible claims.

        I strongly urge you to remove this divisive, discriminatory, and unnecessary language from the plan.

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        • dan August 25, 2015 at 4:08 pm

          Thanks Rebecca! Here’s my take, using yours as a base.

          To Whom it May Concern,

          I am writing to express my deep disappointment and concern over the language regarding recreational cycling in the draft Sauvie Island transportation plan. Specifically:

          “Implement a range of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) policies encouraging existing businesses and requiring new development (beyond single family residential use and agricultural uses) to help reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), maximize use of existing facilities and alleviate congestion on US 30 and county roads caused by seasonal and special event traffic. Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use without encouraging purely recreational bicycle activities that may increase this level of vehicle conflict on roadways.”

          This position is short-sighted and rooted purely in antipathy for cyclists, not in any objective reason. Cyclists are road users who are fully within their legal rights to use these publicly funded roads for recreation, for pure transportation, or for transportation that they happen to find enjoyable, just like car drivers or motorcyclists. By codifying and promoting this negative attitude towards one type of road user you will encourage negative behavior towards those users – behavior that could be threatening, menacing, or physically dangerous for all cyclists, not just the recreational cyclists you intend to exclude. Moreover, the number of bicycles on Sauvie Island roads at any given time is a fraction of the number of cars — targeting the smaller, less hazardous group of road users that causes the least amount of wear and tear on the roads doesn’t make sense and is simply not good policy.

          I strongly urge you to remove this divisive and poorly-considered language from the plan. Please let me know your thoughts on the plan and this language at your convenience.

          Best regards,

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  • Lukas August 25, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    The email address for written comments is simcplanning@multco.us
    Please get your comments in today.

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  • Rebecca August 25, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Just guessing here, but I suspect that bikes contribute very little to the “congestion on US 30 and county roads caused by seasonal and special event traffic” that they reference. When was the the last time you got stuck in a bike lane traffic jam on Hwy 30?

    I think what they mean to say is, they would like to “Improve multimodal access to the island so that fewer recreational cyclists will drive to the island to ride their bike there.” That would reduce VMT, maximize the capacity of their existing facilities, and reduce congestion – all of their goals!

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  • Tim Davis August 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks for providing the text of your wonderful message, Rebecca! I’m going to email everyone possible about this; our voices MUST be heard–today! This is a quality of life, safety, health, economic and equitable issue for ALL people, whether they live in or visit Sauvie Island.

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  • Bjorn August 25, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I got a response back from Kafoury saying they were surprised by the language and are working to remove it.

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    • Tim Davis August 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      That’s wonderful to hear, Bjorn; thanks for the update! But *keep writing them*, everyone!

      I just finished a LONG, very professional letter to simcplanning@multco.us, mult.chair@multco.us and district1@multco.us. I pointed out, among other things, how we continue to regress on people-friendly infrastructure, the incredible progress other cities are making, and how much *all* road users would benefit if we vastly increased the percentage of people who get from A to B by ways *other* than driving (not to mention the economic, health and other benefits of dramatically increasing the percentage of people getting from A to B by bicycle). One of the biggest (and most surprising) reasons that Amsterdam is so heavenly to bike (and drive cars) in is that very FEW people are driving cars!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 25, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Just heard good news update from County spokesman. Here’s what I just posted:

    UPDATE, 2:45pm: County spokesman Dave Austin tells us that County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Jules Bailey are aware of the language in the draft plan and on Thursday they plan to propose an amendment that will strike the language from the plan. Austin added that it’s standard procedure for the Chair and Commissioners to allow the Planning Commission to go through their complete plan development process without weighing in about specific input until the public hearing.

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  • Steve Morris August 25, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    So here is some context for you all. I was on the Citizen Advisory Committee for this plan, for the first year. I agreed to be on it for a year, and when that year was up the county basically asked us to redo the whole thing. The whole process was cumbersome and frustrating. The biggest problem I saw was that 90% of the people in the group lived on the island, and there was a pervasive attitude of of “this is our island”. (It’s better in the voice from Lost). One guy literally suggested putting a tool booth on the bridge. The odd thing is that the group seemed OK with cyclists, in fact most seemed to favor better bike lanes where possible. When the commitment was extended I just didn’t have the time and backed out.

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    • Daniel Costantino August 25, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Well, the toll booth at the entrance to the idea wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible idea, if it provides a ready source of funds to maintain the current road network and build improvements to reduce bike/car conflicts… I mean, with the number of people who go over there on a regular basis, it probably wouldn’t require much of a toll to raise some pretty significant revenue relative to the miles of road they have. And anyone I can think of who can afford to bike or drive there could afford a couple bucks to get on the island : how much are you spending on gas? how much were you going to spend on berry picking or pumpkins? even if you’re biking straight to the nude beach with no intent of purchasing anything, how much did you spend on your towels and your beer?

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      • bjorn August 25, 2015 at 10:56 pm

        I am surprised that people who live there would want a toll booth, as it would hit them a lot harder than occasional users.

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  • J_R August 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    If they want to ban all “recreational” transportation on Sauvie Island, it should apply to all recreational transportation. For example, residents of Sauvie Island will not be able to drive to baseball games, to movie theaters, to bowling alleys. They will not be permitted to drive to card games and bingo. People will not be able to drive to Sauvie Island to buy pumpkins, unless they are for making food; none can be used to celebrate Halloween since that is clearly a recreational holiday.

    Once you determine that “recreational” use of facilities is not permissible, the only driving permitted on Sauvie Island should be for the purposes of shopping for necessities, for work purposes, and for medical purposes.

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    • 9watts August 25, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      I wouldn’t go that far. I think there is a difference, whether you live on a quiet residential street in NE Portland or in Halfway, OR, between use of the (admittedly public) street by you and your neighbors and the use by folks who we might roughly group as tourists or at least from somewhere else. There is some middle ground you’re skipping over between discriminating in a clumsy and punitive fashion and making no distinctions whatsoever.

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      • J_R August 25, 2015 at 5:48 pm

        The original owner of my home was required to build a sidewalk when he constructed the house. I am required to maintain the sidewalk (and have spent thousands of dollars over the last 22 years to do so) regardless of whether or not I use it. I am required to keep it clear of snow and debris and I do so. The transportation facility in front of my house is open for all legal uses with no restrictions imposed by me or my neighbors.

        Why should Sauvie Islanders be allowed to build and maintain inadequate transportation facilities (and seek to adopt policy to keep them that way) and instead seek to prevent lawful users from using the existing facilities?

        Do I get to regulate or discourage people from driving on or parking on the street in front of my house if they are simply going to the neighborhood garage sale or going to the nearby city park or another venue where concerts, fireworks, and other attractions are conducted multiple times per year?

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  • Tim Davis August 25, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I just got a great and very encouraging, supportive response from a key Multnomah County Commission staff member. Our well-written, respectful letters really do help! 🙂 And thanks for all the other updates, Jonathan and everyone!

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  • Chad August 25, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    We need to really think outside the box on this one. Make the island road one way going counterclockwise. Give the cars the inside (left) lane and bikes get the right lane. We could even make the right lane two-way traffic for bikes. Need to reach the store on the island? Well that will be an extra 10 miles around. It’s ok since you’re in a car. 🙂

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    • Dan August 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      Here’s another ‘creative solution’: remove the bridge. Nobody gets to go on or off the island 🙂

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  • John Liu
    John Liu August 25, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Sauvie Island could be getting more, economically, from cyclists. After riding out on 30, then doing 15 fast miles on the island, your average lycra-wrapped roadie would be very happy to plunk down $10 or $15 for a burger, latte, smoothie, use of a pump, etc.

    There is nowhere to get that. There is a small general store that is quite unfriendly to cyclists. That’s it.

    I think there is an opportunity being missed. Heck, pull a couple of food carts over there and set up a tent and tables. That would do it.

    On the topic of tolls, registration, and other measures to actively discourage “recreational cyclists”: I suspect these would be illegal.

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    • dan August 26, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      Yeah, but then you had a big burger and need to ride back to Portland on 30…a tough sell for me. A bike-up window to buy energy drinks (sugary lemonade would be great) and snacks would be awesome though.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu August 27, 2015 at 12:08 am

        No problem, I can digest and ride at the same time!

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  • Randy August 25, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Sounds like a step backward. Discouraging low impact/low polluting transportation near farms?

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  • Lester Luallin August 26, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Dan
    They could turn my purely recreational cycling into partly recreational cycling if there were more places to stop and spend money. There’s one store with fishing stuff and heat-lamp chicken strips, and that’s about it. Maybe add a brewpub?Recommended 3

    Captured by Porches at Kruger’s Farm. June thru November

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  • Skid August 26, 2015 at 1:49 am

    I don’t own a car, so a bike is the only way I am getting to the beach.

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  • tedder August 26, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I’ve stewed about this a little. I’m not posting this contrary opinion as a thought exercise or to play “devils advocate”.

    I think it’s good, in some cases, to distinguish between “recreational cycling” and “utility cycling”. Yes, this is different than what is done with cars, but that’s okay. Geller’s “four types of cyclists” touches on the differences, and McNeil’s followup, “testing a typology”, confirms this.

    Here are some examples.
    – Among “interested but concerned” cyclists, those who are utility cyclists are much more likely to agree with “I feel a personal obligation to bicycle instead of driving for everyday travel.” Recreational cyclists don’t agree with that any more than noncyclists.
    – Recreational cyclists aren’t comfortable riding in the rain.
    – Only utility cyclists agree with “People I live with ride a bike to get to places, such as errands, shopping, and work.”

    These are important things! We shouldn’t pretend all cyclists are the exact same. Acknowledging differences doesn’t mean we are putting a value judgement on one being better or worse.

    Ultimately we have a fixed pool of attention and money to deal with. The size of the pool will change over time, but that doesn’t mean we can do everything we want to do. It’s pretty clear that Sauvie Island is used by recreational cyclists (nearly) exclusively- there’s no errands to run out there, aside from buying a flat of strawberries or a resident who rides to work in the city. It’s also clear there’s a minority of residents on Sauvie Island that dislike cyclists- as has been documented on BikePortland since at least 2006. Let’s call a spade what it is, and go from there.

    So, in this case, instead of saying “splitting and stereotyping cyclists is the problem”, let’s focus on the actual problem, as many have touched on in the comments: banning or disproportionately excluding cyclists in this form is dubious, both legally and ethically. Recreational cyclists like to leave the city to ride on roads with less traffic. Sauvie Island certainly has less traffic. Farm vehicles and cyclists are much more compatible than cars and farm vehicles, and Sauvie is already a destination for recreational activities of all kinds.

    How is it that other rural communities welcome recreational cyclists and Sauvie has had so much trouble with it? Why are the cities along the Historic Columbia River Highway route (like Mosier) excited to welcome cyclists to their town, and Sauvie is going the opposite direction?

    To me, these are the questions that should be answered, not “why are you singling out recreational cyclists?” It’s clear the HCRH crowd are recreational cyclists too. And that’s okay.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu August 27, 2015 at 12:04 am

      I will guess that the towns along the HCRH are set up to get some economic benefit from cyclists, while Sauvie Island is not – it could be, but isn’t.

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      • wsbob August 27, 2015 at 7:08 pm

        Not having been adequately equipped to handle or benefit from recreational biking and other recreational pursuits by off-islanders, likely led to the frustration some of Sauvies Island residents are feeling.

        I don’t know whether or to what extent the island has been officially designated as a recreational destination…but over time, that is what it has become. The county and the city should recognize that more and more people are coming to the island for the day…maybe longer if there were some campgrounds and B and B’s…and work together to give the island’s loop road, some first rate bike lanes.

        Encouraging more people to actually bike to and from the island from Portland…it’s not that long or strenuous a ride…rather than drive, could have a great outcome. Sauvies Island is the logical place to go for city residents wanting to get away from town, but that are not interested in a long drive out of town.

        What really could gradually spoil the island’s good mojo, would be excessive motor vehicle use by non-island residents. And as area population seems to steadily increase, that spoiling could happen if people don’t put their heads together and try to focus on types of recreational use of the island that minimizes use of motor vehicles, to, from, and on the island. The island is a great example of a situation where ‘fewer motor vehicles is good.’.

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    • Alex August 27, 2015 at 8:09 am

      As a “recreational cyclist” first and foremost, I bike in the rain, commute everyday by bike, run errands on my bike and people I live with ride their bike to get to places as well on a daily basis – year round. Honestly, the people who I know who ride bikes “recreationally” (however you define that), spend more time on their bikes in all sorts of weather than the “utility” cyclists – but perhaps they use their cars slightly more.

      To me, singling out a type of cycling is completely stupid. Getting people to ride their bikes more and to encourage their use gets car drivers more aware of them on the road, decreases health insurance costs and the more time someone spends on their bike recreationally makes me thing they will probably spend more time on it commuting. I just wish I could commute through Forest Park on a mountain bike on single track, but one of Sauvie Island’s finest has seen fit to not allow that to happen either. Not on my roads, not on my trails…

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