Special gravel coverage

County strikes reference to “recreational bicycle activities” from Sauvie Island plan

Posted by on August 27th, 2015 at 3:25 pm

County Commissioner Jules Bailey

Disaster averted.

This morning the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners took action and removed language from the draft Sauvie Island transportation plan that sought to discourage “recreational bicycle activities.”

The draft plan was developed over the past 18 months by the County Planning Commission and a citizen’s advisory committee as an update to the Sauvie Island and Multnomah Channel Rural Area Plan and Transportation System Plan.

As the island has increased in popularity due to its aesthetic beauty and proximity to Portland, we suspected from the start that cycling might play a role in the planning process.

Andrew Holtz, a member of the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, alerted us with major concerns that a reference to “recreational bicycle activities” had remained in the draft plan in spite of his committee calling it “unacceptable” and “discriminatory” and making repeated requests to have it removed.

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The context here is that the island has relatively narrow roads with little to no shoulder. A lack of consideration and respect by some road users has resulted in ugly incidents in the past including assaults with a blow dart and pepper spray.

Fortunately, County Commissioner Jules Bailey and County Chair Deborah Kafoury opted to not give any space to that type of nonsense. They were aware of the language in the plan and agreed that it’s unfair to single out cycling in this context.

At their meeting today Bailey proposed an amendment that averted any opportunity someone might have to do something ridiculous like discourage cycling on the island or worse yet, charge a fee to people on bikes.

Policy amendments that passed today.

In policy 5.8 Bailey’s amendment added specific goals for how the island’s transportation should be managed in the next 20 years. Those goals are, “reducing vehicle miles travelled, minimizing carbon emissions, reducing conflict between travel modes, and improving the natural environment by minimizing stormwater runoff and facilitating wildlife movement.”

In policy 5.9 the amendment deleted the entire paragraph that read: “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.”

Bailey’s amendment passed without debate, although Chair Kafoury did address how the issue galvanized the community:

“We have all received lots of public comment around this particular piece of the plan and wanted to ensure that it’s definitely our desire that we have not carved out one particular mode of transportation as the one to avoid, and that we want to encourage all modes of transportation — especially those that reduce our carbon footprint on the environment.”

Thanks to everyone who emailed Commissioner Bailey and Chair Kafoury. Singling out cycling in this context, and especially attaching the “recreational” label to it while driving trips receive no such scrutiny, is a very dangerous thing. I’m glad the County Board of Commissioners was able to send a strong message today that that type of language is not acceptable around here.

— The updated Sauvie Island Transportation System Plan also contains several projects that would improve cycling access including a new path on the west side of the island, wider paved shoulders on existing roads, and more. Learn about the plan on Multnomah County’s website and download a copy of the transportation chapter here (PDF).

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  • Adam H. August 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    This is great. Now, how about working on a network of bike paths across the island? Is there any potential for this to be pursued as part of this plan?

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    • John Liu
      John Liu August 27, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      I wonder if the nature of the property on the island would permit this. As I understand it, other than the few roads, substantially all of the island is private property, mostly farmland. Would many of the farmers be willing to turn over long strips of their property for a public bike path? I don’t see why even a few of them would be.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty August 27, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    It strikes me that they deleted too much…

    “in a manner that reduces conflict and minimizes impacts to the natural environment”

    should have been left in, as should have

    “Support the use of bicycle transportation alternative to automotive use”.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 27, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Hello, Kitty,

      I think if you read the amendment a bit more closely you’ll see that that stuff is still expressed in the policy in a different way/place.

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  • Heywood August 27, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Sauvie Island is about the same footprint as the island of Manhattan, yet has less publicly accessible land. Add a short loop with a narrow-to-nonexistent shoulder, aggressive weekend drivers in warmer months, and a dearth of off-road riding, and one comes up with an area that I will gladly avoid, thankyewverymuch. Y’all can have what little’s there. I don’t think Captured By Porches is even at Kruger”s anymore.

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    • Middle of the Road guy August 29, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      True, but there is also plenty of other cycling available in our area. It’s not like Sauvie is the only thing going.

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  • TheRealisticOne August 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    It seems like another example of the “real” attitude towards cycling issues coming out. Are we really in an environment where we need to even consider limiting any cycling access or issues around cycling safety? Did that planning commission actually think limiting cycling access would actually benefit the area?

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  • caesar August 27, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    We don’t grow our pumpkins in your greenways;
    please don’t ride your bikes on our island.

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    • Angel August 27, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Just for the record, I am in favor of the public growing pumpkins in Portland greenways.

      There’s room for it and I bet it would increase safe active transportation on those greenways.

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    • q`Tzal August 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Where’s that from?

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    • J_R August 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      If it’s YOUR island, I want MY money back that was used to pay for the bridge. You owe about $30 million to the other residents of MULTNOMAH COUNTY. Interest is accruing. Pay up.

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      • caesar August 28, 2015 at 8:20 am

        We were here first.

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        • LC August 28, 2015 at 9:23 am

          No you weren’t.

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        • KristenT August 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

          But the rest of Multnomah County paid for your bridge– if you were here first, and it’s your island, why did the rest of the county residents have to pay for it? Why didn’t the residents of the island pay for it 100%?

          For that matter, if you don’t want people to come to “your” island, you’d better do two things:

          1– get rid of the farms that sell produce to the public and have public events, and
          2– rebuild the bridge into a drawbridge with portcullis and man it 24/7 to keep the enemy out– I mean, the non-resident public from getting on “your” island.

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          • wsbob August 29, 2015 at 9:51 am

            “…For that matter, if you don’t want people to come to “your” island, …” kristen

            What an opportunity for a sarcasm fest, this story has been. Sarcasm and contempt for Sauvies Island residents having difficulty with off-island visitor traffic, doesn’t help address the problem that off-island visitor traffic produces…and off-island visitor traffic, rather than island resident traffic, is the problem.

            The island is an important, apparently very appealing recreational destination for many big city residents and residents living in neighboring counties. With that in mind, it’s right that they should be ready to participate and contribute to the development of whatever the island needs in the way of infrastructure to better handle the load placed on island roads, by the resulting traffic from off-island.

            Difficult for people not closely involved in the process, to know exactly how the now removed, objected to original language in the planning commission draft plan, came to be part of that plan. The least that may possibly be safely assumed, is that the viewpoint expressed, to not encourage biking on the island, may not have been the viewpoint of a majority of island residents. Very likely, a small number of upset people with a beef, though very definitely one with some legitimacy.

            I don’t know for certain what the future is for Sauvies Island, but it does look as though the island is going to get increasingly more, rather than less visitor traffic. That represents a potentially major impact upon the idyllic, quietude inherent to the island. People visiting from off the island should hope that they can do something to help sustain those much needed inherent qualities.

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            • caesar August 29, 2015 at 12:18 pm

              Thank you, Bob, for your ongoing understanding and support. Please know that you and your recumbent will continue to be welcome on our island’s lanes and parkways. Just sign in at the bridge control booth and don’t forget your hi-viz flag.

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              • wsbob August 29, 2015 at 9:54 pm

                A ‘bent? Must be thinking of someone else. I ride a road bike. Don’t live there and, I don’t much like riding the island. Many people from the city seem to though. Isn’t it reasonable to have their help in addressing traffic problems brought about by their use of island roads?

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            • KristenT August 31, 2015 at 10:15 am

              I’m actually not being sarcastic at all.

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              • wsbob August 31, 2015 at 11:17 pm

                Kind of sounds as though you were. My apologies if your weren’t being sarcastic, and were just trying to put things into perspective.

                Many other people’s responses here to the planning commission proposal, sounded very definitely sarcastic and poorly thought out. Sauvies Island has a role that’s evolving, it would seem, directly due to popularity of the island as a close-in recreational destination for people not living on the island.

                So rather than taking pot shots at language in the proposal it would seem likely arose from islander frustration with visitor traffic, it probably would be much more helpful to offer ideas to help deal with the problem, and improve the general situation for everyone.

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          • Middle of the Road guy August 29, 2015 at 11:40 pm

            And the rest of Multnomah County is paying for your bike lanes.

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        • dan August 28, 2015 at 11:09 am

          LOL, I thought you were serious after your first comment.

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        • J_R August 28, 2015 at 11:43 am

          If you intend to turn Sauvie Island into your own private community, the residents of Multnomah County should also be reimbursed for the County roads. They are probably worth another $20 million. There are also public parks and other publicly owned lands that you’ll need to buy. You probably need to be looking at $100 million to buy the public facilities that you are trying to control.

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        • Matt August 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm

          Wrong, Native American’s were there first.

          Visit this link:


          Search “Sauvie” and you’ll learn about Native American’s and how they harvested acorns on the island.

          pg. 136 discusses potential populations.

          You may live there, but there were people there before you…

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          • caesar August 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm


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          • Middle of the Road guy August 29, 2015 at 11:41 pm

            They lost.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 28, 2015 at 11:19 am

      In exchange for your promise not to grow pumpkins in our greenways, I hereby promise not to ride my bike in your pumpkin patch.

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      • caesar August 28, 2015 at 2:06 pm

        No, actually, we want you to! During the Halloween season we are opening up a few single tracks through the patches for all y’all to come and enjoy while you’re out here selecting your jack-o-lanterns and buying our artisanal sweet corn and zucchini jams. Craft brews will be on hand too. Offer valid only Oct. 29-31, though.

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  • Andrew N August 27, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Jules Bailey. Columbia River Crossing. Never forget.

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    • 9watts August 28, 2015 at 12:16 am

      Yeah, that was really dumb. But I reserve my ‘never forget’ ire for the creeps at ODOT and David Evans & Associates who were pushing it all those years, and probably paying each other under the table.

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  • q`Tzal August 27, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Where’s that from?

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  • Lizzy August 28, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Motorized transport is often used for recreational purposes, why not bicycles? Bicycles leave a smaller footprint.

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    • Pete August 28, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      “Motorized transport is often used for recreational purposes”

      Very astute observation; funny how policy often misses that.

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  • caesar August 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    But the rest of Multnomah County paid for your bridge– if you were here first, and it’s your island, why did the rest of the county residents have to pay for it? Why didn’t the residents of the island pay for it 100%?

    Because we are savvy (Sauvie?) business people and understand the political landscape and the ways that it can be used for our benefit.

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    • LC August 28, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Funny cuz it looks like just another case of urban commercial centers subsidizing rural welfare queens from where the rest of us are sitting.

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    • J_R August 28, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Great. Same argument as the Koch Brothers. “We’re savvy business people; the river is there to carry away our toxic waste at no cost to us; we’re glad to let the public pay the costs of clean up.”

      I’ve supported improvements to the Multnomah County bridges, including Sauvie Island and Sellwood, because it was the right thing to do from a county-wide perspective rather than because of any personal benefit.

      It’s nice to know that your focus on the Sauvie Island Bridge was for YOU and how it would benefit YOU. If I’m only welcome on Sauvie Island when you are seeking to sell me something, I’ll rather doubt I’ll be buying anything.

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  • peejay October 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    It is possible to hold a position and also try to understand the position of the person you disagree with. It’s the best way to change their mind, if you really believe your position would promote policies better for everybody.

    My position is that all residents and visitors would benefit from reducing car traffic and increasing bike and foot traffic on Sauvie Island. The vast amount of space available could easily lead to providing stress-free separated routes for all modes, but would require some cooperation from property owners to enact. thus, my position requires that group of people most likely to not agree with me to try to find common ground. Hard to do when arrows are being slung back and forth.

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