Subscriber Post by Naomi Fast (Washington County Correspondent) on January 16th, 2017 at 1:37 pm
[Note: This post was submitted by BikePortland Subscriber Ms. Fast through our Subscriber Post system. We think it deserves a wider reach so we’ve posted it here on the Front Page. Remember, if you are a subscriber you are also a contributor! We would love to amplify your voice and share your experiences with a wider audience. Sign up here. – Jonathan]
After a decade of living and biking in Portland, I moved to Beaverton in 2013. As I get to know my new city, I’m more and more glad to be here.
Just in the last couple of years, Beaverton:
– Adopted a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan” (2015)
– Was recognized as the safest city in Oregon, followed by Hillsboro (2015)
– Joined the National Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative, becoming the first city in Oregon to nationally declare itself a Welcoming City (2015)
– Tied with Cupertino, CA for a first-place City Cultural Diversity Award by The National League of Cities (2015)
– Unanimously passed a “Resolution to Declare Support for the Muslim Community & Reaffirm Beaverton as a Welcoming City” (2016)
– and in the first days of 2017, Beaverton became a Sanctuary City and opened its first severe weather shelter
Yes, we’ve got solid leadership in Beaverton! But what about the biking?
I admit biking here took some getting used to, coming from Portland. In some ways, and in some areas, it’s better to bike here than in Portland. In other ways—as in East PDX—the city is struggling to make up ground as it works to create a new Active Transportation Plan in 2017 and considers how and whether to adopt Vision Zero policy.
Beaverton has had a Bronze ranking from the League of American Bicyclists since 2008. In 2015, it was upgraded to Silver. Is the upgrade deserved? I’d say yes. There are leaders here who care deeply about biking, and they understand how the mode benefits cities and neighborhoods. The city is receptive to suggestions and seems eager to do more. It loves its annual Bike Beaverton event. Green bike boxes have started to appear at major intersections in the county, like 185th and Walker. Trails have been connected and improved. And more.
But I continue to unearth problems that could be addressed with new city policy, along with county and state cooperation.
I don’t own a car, by the way. Zipcar is parked a couple miles away and does the trick when needed. I’ve also done a lot of run-commuting (drawing on my high school track and cross country days). Recently, though, I changed jobs, and I for sure need to bike commute. However, bike parking is nonexistent at the new office, located in an older development off of ODOT’s Canyon Road. I emailed the City of Beaverton asking for help. My impression was that staff really aren’t used to answering questions like mine. Just to make myself feel better, I decided to give my interaction with them a little makeover. First the Before. Here’s my paraphrase of the response I received:
The City of Beaverton requires property owners developing new construction to install bicycle parking, but we don’t require property owners of existing developments to do so. We don’t have the name of the property owner. Check with your new employer that leases from them. Good luck!
—City of Beaverton
The response was courteous enough, but to me, it doesn’t shine Silver. The lack of action is what I’d expect from a city that still thinks people who commute by bicycle are—at best—quaint-but-a-bit-of-a-hassle, or simply an unknown entity. Indeed, there are far more car drivers to attend to in Beaverton, and per DMV records, some 65 motor vehicle dealers.
It’s not a Silver or Gold response because it means if I want to park my bike at work, then in addition to working my new full-time job, and trying to figure out a route safest from speeding cars, I must:
1. Know somehow there’s a thing called a “Tax Lot” & “Tax Lot Number” for every development
2. Know I can research that tax lot number in a site like www.ormap.net
3. Research the property owner’s name & contact info (which is considered public record)
4. Know that if the information is unlisted for some reason, the county has it and I can get it from them
5. Contact the administrative office of the property owner & beg them to put in bike racks
6. Wait weeks for property owner to ignore my request, as was my experience with a separate issue
I don’t think it’s really the city’s intention to make people who bike do all that work, or make them feel further ostracized. A Silver-going-on-Gold ranked bicycling city like Beaverton might offer more help or information. So here’s the After—the city response I wish I would have received, along with some made-up policies:
Dear Beaverton Citizen,
We apologize for the lack of bike parking! Rest assured we agree our residents should not have to face a lack of bike parking at their place of employment—especially if in the same location there are typically 100+ unused car parking spaces at any given time (a waste of profitable real estate).
The property owner’s name is: ____ . We’ve already contacted them for you, asking them to voluntarily install bicycle parking. While the city does not yet have a mandate for older developments to do this, we realize there are many such developments lacking bike racks & understand that people who bike won’t patronize businesses there. That’s why we as a city are providing incentives to property owners to encourage multi-modal thinking & development of ALL Beaverton properties, including, of course, outside the downtown core. We’re also looking into whether a development is truly exempt if a unit in it has been up for lease in the last year. While structures & asphalt may be existing, if new tenants are coming in and non-car transportation methods are being used by customers & employees, then maybe we can—and should—require bicycle parking there.
We’re going the extra mile because we want you to be able to enjoy biking to work and shopping without undue stress. We value people choosing to bicycle, and we’re striving to correct outdated transportation infrastructure to reflect that value. Here in Beaverton we believe biking & walking is key to the livability, health and equitable accessibility of our city.
Thank you for biking!
City of Beaverton
Thanks, imaginary Beaverton response, I feel better already!
What do you know, after writing that up, my employer called and said they needed to switch me to a different location that happens to be on a bus route and has a big old pole to lock my bike to, right in front of my office door. So now my big problem is gravel in bike lanes of 40-45 MPH arterials, but that’s a story for another day.
— by Ms. Fast. Follower her activism and adventures in Beaverton via @_The_Clearing on Twitter