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The Monday Roundup: Bikeway fights, a human chain, rail crossing research, and more

Posted by on July 17th, 2017 at 10:56 am

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Welcome to Monday.

Here are the best stories we came across last week…

Carfree spaces FTW: New York City did a smart thing and made Brooklyn’s Prospect Park carfree for the entire summer.

The bike tax embarrassment: Seems like the further you get from Oregon the more absurd the new bike tax looks. Citylab says “it’s a strange way for the state to prioritize active transit.”

Homeless fight for bike lanes: People who live in LA’s Skid Row district want safe places to ride too. “What do we want? Bike lanes! When do we want them? Now!” they yelled at an inaugural bike ride aimed at addressing disparities in the bike network where they live.

Quality control: In The Netherlands cities use a high-tech bicycle to analyze the smoothness, width, and overall quality of bike paths to help prioritize investments.

Antidote to automotive marketing: American transportation culture is the result of billions of dollars in advertising to convince people to buy cars. What would our cities look like if transit providers had a media-buying war chest of their own?

Driving to ride: A rare article that pokes into the ironic environmental footprint of driving cars to ride mountain bikes — and encourages people to remember their local trails (hint: Gateway Green is now open!).

Advertise with BikePortland.

“Human chains are the new plunger”: With phrases like that from BikeSnob NYC it’s no surprise he’s inked a deal as a weekly columnist with Outside Magazine.

More on the human chain: When a bike lane needs protection, would you put your flesh on the line like these people in Dublin?

Baltimore’s bike lane battle: It’s always good to keep tabs on the latest hotspots where new protected bikeways are under scrutiny from residents who oppose them.

Parking is too cheap: When the USA Today has a story about the extremely high cost — 17 hours a year and estimated $345 per driver — of simply finding a parking spot, you know (you hope?!) we’ve hit the breaking point and will start getting smarter about policy.

‘Rogue’ bike share on the radar: We’ve mentioned these new bike share systems several times now. The latest is reports that Mobike is coming to Washington D.C. — a place that already has one of the best and biggest traditional bike share systems in the U.S.

Rail crossing research: A scientific study of bicycle crashes at rail crossings showed that it’s all about the angle of approach. It also included this cringe-inducing video showing dozens of crashes:

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

107 Comments
  • John Lascurettes July 17, 2017 at 11:14 am

    “The bike tax embarrassment” story has a busted link.

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  • Go By Bike
    Go By Bike July 17, 2017 at 11:15 am

    How about a tax 100% tax on car advertisements and all the money goes back to awesome crowd sourced transit ads?

    It would be a boom to local journalism as well. Any lose to a newspaper’s car ad revenue would be more then made up with doubling it with transit ads. Plus the ads would be free because they are crowd sourced. I bet there would be some pretty funny ones. It would also make people who ride transit feel more connected to it. Transit ads work best when they show real people using it, what better way to do that then using real people? I wonder how newspapers would cover car vs transit issues if they got so much money from transit?

    Also, throw in another $15 bike tax to pay for more awesome bike ads!

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    • Carl July 18, 2017 at 9:45 am

      I do not fully understand the reaction against the tax. If I buy a fishing rod I pay an excise tax that funds things like habitat restoration. Hop growers pay into a fund that pays for research and marketing. If I have to pay $15 every 5 or 10 years it will not affect my bike buying decisions and I hope it will make riding experience better. At this point I would like to see the cycling community focus not on a rather conservative sounding attack on a tax and focus on seeing that the money raised is well spent on making cycling better and safer in Oregon.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 18, 2017 at 10:31 am

        Hi Carl,

        For me, the difference between this tax and those other taxes on things used for recreation or the hop industry… Is that those are clearly “extras” in our society. Do most people think having safe roads to drive on are “extras” — or do they feel the gov’t has a duty to provide them at some basic level? I think people feel safe roads for driving is a basic service. I feel that same way about bicycling. Safe bicycle access should never be seen as some sort of recreational/optional “nice thing to have” but as a basic government service.

        We see motor vehicles as both recreation and transportation. For motor vehicle transportation the gov’t provides massive subsidies and has large and expensive systems of administrative and physical infrastructure to accommodate it. For motor vehicle recreation, we don’t have a separate tax (unless people are using a state/national park or paying a bridge toll). That’s just unfair.

        For me this isn’t about whether or not I can pay $15. This is about politics and what this bike tax says about how cycling is perceived by Oregon policymakers.

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        • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 11:28 am

          “Safe bicycle access should never be seen as some sort of recreational/optional ‘nice thing to have’ but as a basic government service.”

          And with that we’re back to a conversation I’ve tried to initiate here for some time. A difficult discussion perhaps but no less important to have.

          “For me this isn’t about whether or not I can pay $15. This is about politics and what this bike tax says about how cycling is perceived by Oregon policymakers.”

          Precisely.

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      • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 1:12 pm

        Along those lines, we should expect parents whose kids walk to school cough up some extra dough to pay for crossing guards.

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      • Alan 1.0 July 18, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        “If I buy a fishing rod I pay an excise tax that funds things like habitat restoration. Hop growers pay into a fund that pays for research and marketing.” — Carl

        Can you provide evidence of either of those taxes in Oregon? I don’t think they exist.

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      • JeffS July 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm

        I propose that the onus is on the person proposing the tax to demonstrate its worth and necessity. And no, just saying “more money for the government” does not do that.

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  • Eric U. July 17, 2017 at 11:18 am

    when I’m out riding on gravel roads, some of the worst passes come from people driving cars with high-end mountain bikes on a rack.

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    • Zimmerman July 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Pure classism.

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      • Dave July 17, 2017 at 12:58 pm

        Doesn’t mean its wrong necessarily.

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      • Dan A July 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm

        Yes, it’s classism to endanger somebody else’s life just because they are on a bike instead of in a car.

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        • Zimmerman July 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm

          Right, that’s exactly what I meant…

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    • Middle of the Road Guy July 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      I have never really encountered that. Most of the worst I have seen are people driving rally-type cars.

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  • John Lascurettes July 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Oh that video at the end is painful.

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    • colton July 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Ouch. Lots of noggin bouncing too!

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      • John Lascurettes July 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Yeah, the one right around :51 where the one cyclist that catches the rail, bumps into the other and sends HIM in front of the car whose driver has to take evasive maneuver. And there was at least one rider that appears to have gone unconscious — ironically when they show the fix that “most” riders use (2:02)

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    • BradWagon July 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      I kept waiting for someone to get run over by a car as they fell into the lane… I *know* they wouldn’t show it but I legitimately was preparing myself to see someone die.

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      • Chris I July 17, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        So hard to watch. Does anyone know if there have been fatalities at this crossing?

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    • K'Tesh July 17, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Seems to me to reduce the number of crashes that occur after the jug handle was installed it would be a good idea to put up signs and have paint advising people of the dangerous crossing ahead.

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    • q July 18, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Yes, painful to watch. And how do these things get built without anyone involved in the design noticing the dangerous thing they’re creating? It’s so amateurish, yet involves safety.

      You see it everywhere around here, too. We still seem to be at the point that if there’s any effort at all towards accommodating people walking or on bikes, that’s good enough to be worthy of praise. How many cars would have to crash or spin out at a rail crossing before a fix was deemed necessary? Two?

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  • Champs July 17, 2017 at 11:29 am

    That video didn’t bother to quantify “far fewer crashes” on the rails, so I’ll just go on knowing that it’s all about the angle of approach—at least until it’s not. No angles, tires, skills, or weather conditions are a substitute for extreme caution.

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    • Pete July 17, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Sign that says “Walk Your Bike Across Tracks”?

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      • John Lascurettes July 18, 2017 at 8:13 am

        Right next to the one that says “Push your car across tracks”.

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        • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 1:14 pm

          “One can argue that if you cannot lift your bike, you should not be riding it.”

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          • BB July 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm

            Sure they could, but they’d be wrong.

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            • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 7:58 pm

              Yeah, it just made me chuckle.

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          • GlowBoy July 20, 2017 at 10:17 am

            So I shouldn’t be allowed to ride my cargo bike?

            Well, actually, I can just barely lift it.

            But my wife can’t. Should I be allowed to ride it, and she shouldn’t? She does indeed take it over rail crossings at times.

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            • Dan A July 20, 2017 at 10:51 am

              I didn’t make, nor do I agree with, that statement. It came up in the River View post. I just think it was funny. Nobody is asking people to lift their cars….cause that would be ridiculous.

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  • Matthew in Portsmouth July 17, 2017 at 11:31 am

    I think that if we eliminated all free parking on public streets, motorists would make different decisions about driving to destinations. It seems to me that the majority of people who work in downtown Portland use transit, or accept the realization that it costs over $200 per month to park a car. In most business districts around the city, there is free on street parking, I have to ask why are we spending money to provide this valuable amenity to one group, we could use those parking spaces for street car lines. There is no reason why, in a capitalist society, businesses can’t provide the parking needed for their customers and staff. Of course they have, they just persuaded the city/county/state government to provide to them for free (not free to the taxpayer though).

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    • Chris I July 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      Street parking is fine in some areas, but it should always be charged based on demand, at all hours of the day, to achieve 90% occupancy. This is what San Francisco does, and it works to reduce spot hunting.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy July 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      if we eliminate all free parking on public streets, that would also include eliminating bike parking.

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      • Chris I July 17, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        It’s a good thing that bikes are small enough to fit on sidewalks, closets, walls, lofts, etc.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy July 18, 2017 at 2:40 pm

          You are still storing your private property on property that is not yours.

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          • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 5:45 pm

            And you are still trying to argue that bikes are just like cars. The bike locker at the Sunset Transit Center has room for 74 bikes in the same space previously occupied by 8 car spots.

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      • Dan A July 17, 2017 at 2:47 pm

        Fine, I’m happy to pay for bike lockers.

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      • Adam
        Adam July 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm

        That’s a fun little one-liner, but the OP clearly meant eliminating free car parking.

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      • Pete July 17, 2017 at 4:18 pm

        One would need to actually have bike parking in order to eliminate it. Maybe that’s the case up there in Portland, but we’re still fighting for it in many new commercial developments – even though city ordinance here says it’s mandatory (often an ‘oversight’). The history of Levi’s stadium is a prime example.

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      • 9watts July 17, 2017 at 10:46 pm

        “if we eliminate all free parking on public streets, that would also include eliminating bike parking.”

        You’ve tried this one here before. I’d love for you to expound on this a bit. Your thinking. I am tempted to think this is intended as a gut punch to the sanctimonious-appearing cyclists you love to trash here, but perhaps you have a more nuanced view you’d care to share?

        Because the parity you’re suggesting seems to me kind of far fetched and, frankly, confused. The problems we have as a society with too many cars, clogging up everything don’t really translate to bikes. If we provided free bike parking on all streets (as cars have for the most part enjoyed for the past oh, hundred years) and stopped offering this for cars, what would be the WORST thing that would happen, as you imagine it?

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        • Middle of the Road Guy July 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

          9, I have made the point before and perhaps I should make it clearer from more of an economist’s viewpoint versus a pragmatic one. One could also suggest that there are not too many cars, but simply not enough space for those cars. You have to admit, there are those who would be anti-car even if they produced no emissions and had unlimited parking spots, because they simply believe cars are bad and are “weapons”. Ironically, they have an idealism but also try to make pragmatic arguments.

          Now, people have made the argument that storing a car (private property) in publicly provided space is a subsidy of sorts because of the overall impacts of driving (obviously the overall impact is depended upon the overall economic benefit of the actions of the person driving as well). From an economic perspective, so is storing a bike. You are using something that is not yours to store something that is yours and there is a cost associated with that. There is no way around that basic economic fact. Admittedly, the cost of parking may be much smaller from a cycling perspective compared to the auto, but it is still a cost. We can discuss overall relative impacts and benefits, but from a pure fairness/economic standpoint we should all pay for what we use.

          If something free is bad for someone else, the argument that you should get the same thing for free is what? Sanctimonious? Entitled? To me, this sounds about as reasonable as the argument from conservatives that tax cuts for the rich are going to trickle down to the rest of us through increased investment and job growth.

          You seem to think I’m against cyclists. Far from it and my basement would indicate otherwise. I prefer objectivity and fairness given to both sides of an argument. In car-centric such as OLive and Fox forums I am decided pro-cyclist and shred the “you don’t pay for it folks”. I want a good debate with both sides being heard rather than dogmatic, subjective responses from ideologues. I have no problem taking either side in a debate to foster a good discussion. Hence my Middle of the Road moniker.

          You might get some amusement out of this: I wrote my masters thesis on Transportation Demand Management practices & planning back in the 90’s and spent a year at the EPA on a fellowship working on reducing mobile source emissions by reducing VMT and encouraging alternative transportation modes.

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          • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 5:47 pm

            “bikes = cars” is not an objective viewpoint.

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          • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 10:50 pm

            Road Guy,
            I’m always glad when I manage to coax a longer response out of you, because your terse one-liners often seem < constructive (at least to me).

            "Now, people have made the argument that storing a car (private property) in publicly provided space is a subsidy of sorts because of the overall *negative* FIFY impacts of driving”

            “(obviously the overall impact is depended upon the overall economic benefit of the actions of the person driving as well).”

            You lost me there.
            Automobility is taking us over the climate cliff.
            Automobility has decreased accessibility such that more people must now overcome greater distances which, realisticallym can only be surmounted in a car – what has society gained?
            And for that matter, what does the (individual) driver’s economic situation have to do with the (collective) disbenefit of his being in a car?

            “From an economic perspective, so is storing a bike. You are using something that is not yours to store something that is yours and there is a cost associated with that.”

            Oh, boy.
            First off, the public right of way IS mine. Just because I can’t exclude someone else from using it doesn’t mean it isn’t (also) mine.
            Secondly, what cost do you have in mind? the land value? the opportunity cost of not getting to build a (car) parking lot or a high rise in that space?

            “There is no way around that basic economic fact.”

            I don’t see this as an economic fact any more than I see coat racks at the library or shoe racks at a mosque as economic facts. Coats and shoes and bikes are harmless, externality free accessories. Why are you equating them with automobiles?

            “Admittedly, the cost of parking may be much smaller from a cycling perspective compared to the auto, but it is still a cost.”

            OK, the racks do cost something, but these are necessitated by thieves and the fact that in the US bikes don’t come with frame-integrated locks. Is this really enough to hang your equivalency on?

            “We can discuss overall relative impacts and benefits, but from a pure fairness/economic standpoint we should all pay for what we use.”

            False equivalence, my friend. The reason free car parking is a subsidy and a societal problem on a grand scale is that automobiles are externality machines par excellence. Their use displaces (very nearly all) other uses, spreads asthma, death, and misery the world over. By subsidizing them we get what we already have, which is too much of them. On the other hand, children who sit in a classroom, coats that hang on coat racks, shoes that are stored on shelves, and bikes that are parked on the street or sidewalk are not externality machines but features of our society that we can absorb without misgivings because their presence not only helps us accomplish what we set out to do but does so without impinging on others’ ability to do likewise. Bikes scale just fine. Visit any European train station to see how many thousands of bikes can be jammed together, without externalitiesm or, as far as I know, any hand-wringing about fairness or who will pay.

            “If something free is bad for someone else, the argument that you should get the same thing for free is what?”

            This isn’t about me vs you but about the basic difference between a car (collectively detrimental in 1,000 ways, negative returns to scale) and a bike (not detrimental as far as I can tell, positive returns to scale), and I note that you didn’t answer my question upthread about what the worst thing you could imagine if all bikes got to park for free and cars did not.

            “Sanctimonious? Entitled?”

            Those are great words. But I am not sure they are apt in this case. As we know from various studies, a mile biked *saves* a city money, while a mile driven *costs* the same city money. This inversion is at the heart of our disagreement. I invite you again to articulate how providing free bike parking is a problem, what the negative externalities of doing this would be? Pick your scale.

            “You seem to think I’m against cyclists.”

            All I know is what you write here, and most of your terse remarks strike me as fairly provocative, not to say snarky, though when you allow yourself to explain I see that there is plenty of behind the scenes thinking which although I appear not to agree with it still makes it easier to engage.

            “I prefer objectivity and fairness given to both sides of an argument.”

            Sometimes there are more than two sides. And/or we may not even agree on what the argument is. But I hope we keep this one going.

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            • Mossby Pomegranate July 19, 2017 at 6:56 pm

              And here is why we need better moderation on BP.

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      • GlowBoy July 20, 2017 at 10:18 am

        Yet another false equivalence.

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  • Ken S July 17, 2017 at 11:52 am

    That rail crossing video reminds me of nw Naito. Anything less than a 70 degree angle to the tracks just feels wildly unsafe.

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  • BradWagon July 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

    I would be curious about the overlap of serious recreational cyclists and environmentally concerned cyclists. I know it’s a long standing point of contention around here to label riders as a “racer type” vs “commuter type” but if we can admit a reasonable amount of generalization I would imagine the relationship between someone being a cyclist and someone being auto use conscious is only slightly stronger than the general public. Many folks I know that ride bikes recreationally tell me they could never spend the time or risk commuting as I do.

    For many that engage in cycling as purely recreation (most MTB’s and even many competitive road riders) riding is something to only being enjoyed and is treated more like a toy than a tool. Just visit the next Race at alpenrose or PIR as many folks unload their pristine race machines from their cars (not all of course…). If someone enjoys cycling as a hobby with no environmental related reasons what is to stop them from also enjoying motor sports or vehicles in the same way. Not to mention outdoor recreation often seems just as much about the vehicle (camper vans, etc..) as it does the sport itself.

    I think this cultural mindset will be a much larger hurdle to overcome than the availability of nearby trails. Especially in Portland where we just are never going to have the facilities like Bend, Hood River, Sandy… (where I would imagine many people still drive the just 15 min to the trailhead anyway). Hopefully the interest in gravel and firelane riding will move some MTBers away from the purely drive to ride destinations but ultimately Portland just isn’t a great spot for someone who MTB’s seriously every weekend.

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    • Kyle Banerjee July 17, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      BradWagon
      For many that engage in cycling as purely recreation (most MTB’s and even many competitive road riders) riding is something to only being enjoyed and is treated more like a toy than a tool. Just visit the next Race at alpenrose or PIR as many folks unload their pristine race machines from their cars (not all of course…). If someone enjoys cycling as a hobby with no environmental related reasons what is to stop them from also enjoying motor sports or vehicles in the same way…

      Nothing, of course.

      Some bike races seem to have as many motorized vehicles (support cars, motorcycles, etc) on the course as bicycles. And there are plenty of cycling activities where practically everyone drives to get there.

      But if the idea is to promote cycling, the focus needs to stay on cycling. If one is “required” to subscribe to certain views to be a cyclist, this has the effect of reducing the number of cyclists — including a number that would discover and adopt those views on their own.

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      • BradWagon July 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm

        Didn’t say a thing about views cyclists need to have. Article which seems to pose the question “how do we stop people from driving their bikes to go ride so much?” My response was that for many recreational cyclists they don’t see an issue with doing so which means it is going to be very hard to change that outside from building a mountain next to Portland.

        Not sure what you mean exactly by “promote cycling” as you used it… I would argue that focusing on the types of cycling that require people to drive their bikes places does not affect the interest in cycling as a transportation mode hardly at all. The context within which people ride and think about their bikes matter. When it comes to making cycling for transportation more popular I have very little interest in promoting out of town mountain biking… I suppose it would help the bike industry in a general sense and I’m all for people enjoying bikes in whatever form but I don’t see Portland infrastructure directly benefiting from a thriving mountain bike scene in the Gorge.

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        • Kyle Banerjee July 17, 2017 at 3:44 pm

          Many recreational cyclists don’t see any connection between their hobby and utility cycling. When there is, the connection is often weak. For example, they may commute by bike as part of maintaining their fitness base so they can participate in recreational cycling activities.

          Changing culture is by definition very slow. Even if someone’s motivations for cycling had nothing to do with using bikes to get around, that change can still happen. At the very least, they start developing the skills, fitness, and knowledge to make the transition earlier.

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    • Pete July 17, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Most of my neighbors in Hood River load up their SUVs to drive two miles to Post Canyon.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy July 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        Sounds like there is relatively little impact from such a short drive, then.

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        • Pete July 19, 2017 at 11:01 pm

          Not if you’ve ever tried to park on Post Canyon Road (or live there).

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    • wsbob July 17, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      For many people that ride, except for road riders, riding bikes on the street is the part of biking they probably least like. Not many people are going to enjoy riding their track bike up to Alpenrose, or ride their road bike through the mess of traffic to get to PIR. Riding mountain bikes with knobby tires, on pavement, sucks. Of course…people drive to get away from all of that.

      I wish more people were enthusiastic about road riding. With the multi-purpose road infrastructure today, road riding is the most logical, most convenient, ecologically responsible type of riding there is.

      Given that hiking is a long time established forms of active recreation, and more recently, off-road biking also, it seems a bit ironic to me that trail for those types of recreation basically doesn’t exist in neighborhoods, except for neighborhoods that actually butt up to nature parks, to which the neighbors can walk to. It’s not like someone couldn’t actually have an idea for something like this when a new development is proposed, and make an effort to persuade city and developers to include hiking trail as part of the development’s design. Or mountain biking trail.

      Ideas like that are off the script, go counter to the formula, seem against the interest of business and neighborhood privacy and security. Like the way some people regarded ‘rails to trails’, before that idea successfully happened.

      From time to time, I’ve wonder why there aren’t continuous off-road hiking trails between Beaverton and Portland. Some residents of Portland have it at their door steps with the Wildwood Trail and the partly continuous 40 mile loop. Many more though, don’t have such trail access, and given the prevalent nature of city design, probably won’t ever. They kind of have to drive to get to where they can do the kind of walking and biking they really enjoy.

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  • CaptainKarma July 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    I’m gonna hurry and buy new shoes, because there will soon be a pox, er, I mean tax, on them. I use shoes all the time when I use the public streets. Sometimes, I even walk directly ON the street, when I wish to gamble with death, like at the hands of crazed or glazed drivers by asserting my rights at a crosswalk. My shoes probably put as much wear and tear on the roads as my bike tires do, but neither ever made a pothole ror dripped oil into the Willamette. This is a discriminatory tax. All proceeds must go to educating the drivers of motor vehicles about their responsibilities as citizens, and/or should pay for the investigations of hit and runs on vulnerable roadway users, and for the actual enforcing of speeding, failure to stop, distracted driving running rampant in Oregon.

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  • Adam
    Adam July 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Funny how it’s only Oregon legislators that think the bike tax was a good idea. Even the Street Trust conveniently wouldn’t flat-out condemn the tax until after it was passed. Literally everyone else who actually knows what they’re talking about can see through the thinly-veiled excuse that this tax is needed to get cyclists a “seat at the table”.

    I seriously hope this erode’s Portland’s reputation as being a bike haven. Perhaps it will get our city leadership to get their arses in line to actually do something useful for bikes, rather than fluff projects designed to maintain our marketing machine.

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    • wsbob July 21, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      “Funny how it’s only Oregon legislators that think the bike tax was a good idea. …” adam

      It would be funny, if what you said were true. You can’t seriously think that, on their own, legislators came up with the bike tax proposal.

      They’re representatives of the people of the state, their constituents, some of whom have undoubtedly have been whining and complaining for years about people biking, not making a sufficient contribution to the creation and maintenance of the road and street infrastructure they use. So finally…because people that support biking, allowed the whiners and complainers to gain an edge in the argument on how valuable biking is to solving traffic congestion issues in the state, a tax on bikes got passed.

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  • bikeninja July 17, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    As a city like Portland becomes denser it is only natural to look at the amount of room taken up by automobiles. In many ways this is the only availible land left if we are to fit in more people and productive economic activities. It becomes even more obvious when we reach the point where people are living in Studio Apartments nearly the same size as an auto parking spot. One day people will wake up and realize that their automotive overlords are being allocated more space than they are ,and put an end to it.

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  • rachel b July 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Wow. Watching that video is a stressful experience. !

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  • Mike July 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Pretty sure that Belgian bike “meetfiet”? measureing road smoothness would explode if it ever tried to assess the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge.

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  • Steve Scarich July 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Bend is the absolute poster-child for bikes not being ridden, but being ‘driven’. We have minimal bike commuter participation (lack of bike lanes, roundabouts, lots of traffic, etc etc), but they had to massively enlarge the parking lot at Phil’s Trailhead (perhaps the nation’s most popular bike trailhead), which is less than 10 minutes (by bike) from downtown.

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    • Dave July 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Maybe part of this is the weird evolution of mountain bikes, from cruisers carried up the hill in cars to a phase when they were genuine all-road bikes, and gradually being “refined” into off-road-only bikes that can be downright unpleasant to ride on pavement.

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      • Chris I July 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

        The crazy part is that, in Bend, you can ride a dirt trail all the way to that trailhead. I guess people would just rather drive, because they don’t want to ride further, or ride near houses?

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  • X July 17, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Fifteen years ago NW Naito had many more tracks, often crossing the street at an acute angle with poor vertical alignment (and sometimes standing water covering everything). We don’t know how many people cleared the track in the video. Since many of them tried to cross the track at a wider angle and still crashed I think it was a poorly built crossing, with the rails well above the pavement.

    Would a crossing that caused some large number of cars to crash get built, or be allowed to remain?

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  • Jon July 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    There is not a single track trail worth riding within 45 minutes drive from Portland. 1 mile sections of single track hidden away here and there are not worth it if you enjoy riding on trails in the woods. The Riverview area was the only place really worth riding a mountain bike to within the city and it was made off limits years ago. I personally commute to work by bike as much as possible and I know of many other people in Portland that enjoy riding mountain bikes on single track that commute by bike to work. All those people are also forced to drive to single track trails to do enjoy their hobby. Most of those people are also what I would classify as “environmentalists”. They commute and take bicycles on trips around town far more than the average person and nearly as much as the hardcore bicycle commuters I know. The best policy to discourage people from driving to do a bike ride include many of the same things that we should be doing to discourage people from driving in general – forcing drivers to pay the true costs of driving by charging them more via gas taxes and tolls. It would not hurt to have some decent trails within the city limits. There would be no problem finding volunteers to build 10-20 miles of bicycle only trails in Forest Park if only the city would allow it. I would love to ride 25 minutes to do an hour of single track and it would keep me in town a lot more often.

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    • wsbob July 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      Stubb Stewart is about 34 miles west of Portland, Sandy Ridge about 24 miles. People seem to like riding in those parks, and drive time is likely no more than 45 minutes, if that.

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    • Kate July 18, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Same. I’m a daily bike commuter to work and around town, I drive to mountain bike. I’ve tried riding the fire lanes and .3 miles of single track in forest park but that .3 miles really isn’t worth it for me. I have and will bike to Gateway Green and would to Forest Park if the trail existed. Stubb and Sandy are both great, but 50 minutes for me if there is no traffic on 26/ I-84, etc. which is definitely not the norm these days.

      I could see recreational riders riding to trails in town if they existed, particularly if there was constrained parking at trailheads (like gateway green, or the bottom of leif). Perhaps if those recreational riders were riding to trailheads in town they would also be moved to start riding to work or other destinations. I don’t think investing time and advocacy in building single track is going to hurt the cycling movement, particularly because I think it’s one of the best way to get kids comfortable on and passionate about bikes.

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      • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

        “I don’t think investing time and advocacy in building single track is going to hurt the cycling movement, particularly because I think it’s one of the best way to get kids comfortable on and passionate about bikes.

        I’ll ask again, do people have any evidence/data to support this assertion? I know it sounds great, but do we know if this is true?

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        • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 1:17 pm

          What got you into biking?

          For me, it was dirt trails as a kid. My own kids ride WAY less than I did, even though I’m constantly encouraging them. I’d guess riding circles around the neighborhood isn’t quite as fun for them as riding around on dirt was for me.

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          • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 1:24 pm

            “What got you into biking?”

            The sheer freedom of being able to get to school without the need to rely on others’ schedules, including the bus or train. Biking to me is like walking: fully autonomous, free, but much better because for most of my trips it is much quicker than basically all the alternatives.

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            • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm

              Maybe you’ve forgotten, but as a kid, riding about isn’t always about trips.

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              • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 5:05 pm

                You asked. Maybe I’m weird, but the practicalities were paramount for me.

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              • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm

                If you’ve never ridden a bike just for fun, then yes, you are definitely weird. That’s okay, we still love you.

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              • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 9:09 pm

                tough crowd here –
                https://bikeportland.org/2017/04/13/weekend-event-guide-races-off-road-plan-ladds-500-kidical-mass-and-more-224912#comment-6795106

                I have fun riding wherever I go, but you asked what got me into biking.

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              • Dan A July 19, 2017 at 6:48 am

                Okay, so for a year and a half as an adult you rode your bike purely for fun. But not as a kid.

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              • 9watts July 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm

                Is this an interrogation?

                Why is it important to you to differentiate
                (a) biking for me is inherently fun, &
                (b) rarely have I biked purely for fun; I’m just not that kind of a guy

                But since you’re being so persistent.
                Pure fun – pulling my daughter and her friend on their trapeze on a Pedalpalooza kickoff ride; the first Disaster Relief Trials, biking to Glacier Nat’l Park from here.

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              • Dan A July 20, 2017 at 7:13 am

                That doesn’t have anything to do with the original point: people have said that it’s important to have places for kids to ride for fun on their bikes, particularly off-road, to encourage them to ride their bikes more, and perhaps develop healthy habits and turn them into bike commuters later on in life. I agree with that assessment — it certainly was true for me. You are saying that you never rode your bike purely for fun as a kid. IF that’s true, I think that’s incredibly unique.

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              • 9watts July 20, 2017 at 7:46 am

                I suspect we have no idea about the distribution of the instances of ‘purely for fun’ among kids biking, or even how they might classify experiences along that spectrum. The difficulty I’m having with your line of questioning is that the category just doesn’t map well onto my experience. Maybe I’m on the utilitarian end of the distribution, but ‘purely for fun’ just doesn’t figure that prominently for me.

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            • Middle of the Road Guy July 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm

              I find I can be a lot more productive when I trip chain. Takes way too long to bike to Costco, the liquor store, hit the gym, etc.

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            • Kate July 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm

              My primary experience as a kid biking was on MUPs because my parents never were exposed to biking on dirt. But it was never very interesting which is probably why I didn’t bike between about 8 and 23 until I started needing to out of sheer utility.

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              • Dan A July 19, 2017 at 4:25 pm

                We have new neighbors, and their 13-year-old daughter is always out in front of our house riding in circles around our cul de sac. I think sometimes she does 50 loops or more. Her parents won’t let her leave the cul de sac to ride around the neighborhood unless an adult goes with her, and her parents never go outside (not quite true – I’ve seen them outside 1 time in the past two months). I wonder how long riding around in a 150-foot circle will hold her attention….

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      • GlowBoy July 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

        This has, for me, been one of the most wonderful things about leaving Portland, where maybe the problem is people take the first word in “mountain biking” too literally – and relegate it to mountains 45 minutes or further from town. “Mountain biking” is an unfortunate and misleading marketing label – it’s about riding your bike in the woods, not necessarily riding up and down mountains.

        I bike to the trails all the time, and the ability to do this without getting in a car has been one of the most wonderful things about the move. I have 13 trail systems, totaling 90+ miles of singletrack, in my metro area. I have biked to 8 of them. Sure it’s slower than riding a street bike there, but with enough air in the tires it’s at most 2mph slower. After 2 1/2 years in Minneapolis, I’ve only driven from my house to go mountain biking twice.

        In the northwest, dirt trails for bikes only get developed in places like national and state forests, BLM land, etc., away from population centers. That happens in the midwest too, but most of our trail systems are in city, county or regional parks. As far as I know, ALL the systems in the Twin Cities are in such parks. Even the places I might drive 45-60 minutes to ride – Memorial Park in Red Wing, Whitetail Ridge in River Falls – are in established small-town CITY parks (and the locals can – and do – ride to the trails). I believe almost all of the 100+ miles of singletrack in Duluth (one of six IMBA Gold-level Ride Centers in the world) are in city parks too.

        So why have bike clubs been successful in the midwest in working with local parks departments to get trails built, but not in the northwest? Hmm, what could it be? It’s not like they haven’t tried. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. The contrast in results is striking.

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        • q July 20, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          Good points. Thinking very generally, it seems like Portland is sometimes TOO protective of natural areas. I’ve seen the same thing with river access, which the City will say is wonderful, but is really pretty pathetic compared to many other cities.

          Some of it seems related to planning/zoning. City officials will see a “natural area” designation on a map, they’ll consider it off-limits for most human use, even if rationally, the use wouldn’t do any harm, and would create public support for more natural area preservation. If people can actually see the river, or actually bike through the woods, they’ll be more willing to pay for pro-environmental efforts. If they’re locked out, they’ll be less aware of natural areas and less willing to pay or support.

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          • Dan A July 20, 2017 at 6:14 pm

            With FP, it’s not even a matter of ‘protecting’ it. The trails are practically designed to encourage erosion. There are cut switchbacks all over the place. It’s crawling with people, dogs, & invasive species, and even has multiple roads running through it. The only thing they are ‘protecting’ is the vocal minority.

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      • wsbob July 21, 2017 at 8:31 pm

        “…Stubb and Sandy are both great, but 50 minutes for me if there is no traffic on 26/ I-84, etc. which is definitely not the norm these days. …” kate

        I think you must understand that use of those roads has become difficult due to the wonderful economic growth in the Oregon economy. When planning to drive to either of those parks, ideally, plan to head out early, say 6am, and leave late, like after 6pm. You can catch a nap at the park before and after riding.

        Some people have an idea that if Forest Park were to be used for off-road biking on what they like to call ‘single track’, there somehow would be for everyone, the ability to avoid driving to the trail head. As if, because that singularly large in acreage park, compared to others in the city, is within city limits, nobody that would like to ride there, is going to have to, or will want to, drive to it. Do you believe this? Probably not.

        The ‘city’, meaning not just elected officials, but the people of Portland, the residents, probably could with help and encouragement, actively seek out and develop more land, not already assigned to other functions, within the city for off-road and mountain biking, if they were to be shown that the cause was good. So far, only Gateway Green exists to offer an example. Of the people choosing to ride in that park, how many will ride on their off-road bikes from their wherever their home is in the Portland area, to that park? How many will take the light rail? How many will get there by motor vehicle?

        If off-road biking in Portland, or in any city in Tualitan Valley that believes its population has a big interest in off-road and mountain biking, is to be able to offer opportunities for that recreation without obligating travel by motor vehicle, the areas for it likely will have to be reasonable ‘off-road biking on pavement’ distances to the neighborhoods where people live.

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    • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      “There is not a single track trail worth riding within 45 minutes drive from Portland. […] All those people are also forced to drive to single track trails …”

      Forced to drive?

      This is so hard to listen to. If someone lives in the country but decides that he really liked to skateboard, is he forced to drive to the urban skate park? Of course not. He and you need to take responsibility for the fact that your preferred recreation is not (apparently) locally available, and either adjust your demands to what is available or work to improve availability locally, but the language of being forced to drive just reeks of entitlement.

      Someone who can’t afford to live near enough to his or her job to bike or use transit may, in our lopsided society/per Catherine Lutz, lay claim to being forced to drive, but when it comes to recreation I reject this language.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu July 18, 2017 at 4:36 pm

        So people should be castigated for driving cars for any purpose other than work?

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        • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 4:54 pm

          read what I wrote.

          I said nothing about castigating people who drive; I was objecting to the claim that some individuals were forced to drive in order to recreate in their preferred flavor that was not (apparently) available within biking distance. People need to take responsibility for their choices, not blame others for failing to provide all the possible flavors of recreation within easy reach.

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  • hotrodder July 17, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    The YouTube GCN show even mentioned the Oregon bike tax, (with requisite raised eyebrows and typical British understatement and reserve.)

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  • Matt July 17, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I will confess that I drove my bike to Gateway Green (well, as close as I could drive). It just feels silly riding a full suspension bike any significant distance on the MUP’s, after having ridden them with a road bike countless times.

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    • 9watts July 17, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      I got so much heat hear some years ago when I asked a fellow who drove down from Seattle to participate in our Sunday Parkways about it. Glad to hear someone else has noticed the irony of driving to a bike event. Of course in the case of Sunday Parkways it wasn’t a mountain bike thing but a CARFREE event.

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      • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 7:42 am

        Do you have another recommendation for a family of four living on the other side of the west hills who wants to participate in Sunday Parkways? In 2015 we did the Sellwood one and parked at Westmoreland.

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        • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 7:50 am

          I am not looking to have a fight with you, Dan A, but the premise of Sunday Parkways was for everyone to become acquainted with leaving the car behind, of moving beyond fossil fuels, and combating what was then still called global warming. My interpretation of what that meant/means is to not rely on cars to participate. If the Sunday Parkways is too far away to join without reliance on a car then better to skip it.

          I am under no illusions that this perspective is a minority one here on bikeportland, not to mention that PBOT seems to have also allowed the event to drift completely into BIKE FUN territory without any political content, but to me this is the only interpretation of the spirit of the original Sunday Parkways.

          As for the specifics of your West Hills question, I don’t know where you were coming from, but would MAX have offered a solution?

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        • Adam
          Adam July 18, 2017 at 8:08 am

          MAX?

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          • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 8:12 am

            Yeah, you know, our light rail system that crosses the river…
            There are public transit systems, however imperfect, that we could avail ourselves of. In fact if more of us took the trouble to find out more about the way the system works and used it, perhaps it would improve?

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            • Adam
              Adam July 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

              Also, if parking downtown was $20/hour. People would research the MAX real quick after that happened.

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          • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 9:29 am

            I’m familiar with MAX. However, I question the practicality of traveling on MAX with 4 bikes that I would need to personally manage. My kids are too young to try & hang their bikes from a hook 5 feet up, assuming we could even find space for our bikes.

            Trimet’s trip planner can’t seem to figure out a train-only route for me, which is weird because I think it should suggest a transfer from the red/blue line to the orange line. And the bike route to my nearest MAX stop is impractical for family travel, to say the least. The route they DO suggest is ‘only’ 73 minutes, with a bus/train/bus route, but of course you can’t load 4 bikes on a bus. Maybe if we travel in shifts?

            I WISH we had the option of a parkways over here, but the similar rides we have are a joke. I’ll keep your suggestion to skip it in mind. Lucky for you I already skip pretty much all bikey events….my family just wanted to try one of these out.

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            • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 11:25 am

              Got it.

              “I’ll keep your suggestion to skip it in mind. Lucky for you I already skip pretty much all bikey events…”
              I agree with much of your post, Dan A, except for the part above. This isn’t about me, about what I want, my luck at your taking my suggestion. Personalizing a planetary crisis and our responses to it seems like a way to trivialize the whole subject, which I don’t think you intended.

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              • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

                Okay, scratch “Lucky for you”. It wasn’t needed.

                I love my neighborhood, but I am really irritated that my family is pretty much trapped inside of it by a bunch of ridiculously oversized roads. We aren’t going to go for a cruise on Bethany, Cornell, Barnes or West Union anytime soon, and outside of that the best we can manage is ride to a nearby duck pond on a bike path, and even that gets my spidey senses tingling. From the complaints I regularly read here, it doesn’t sound like it’s better anywhere in the metro area. I can’t wait to retire and move to a small town where my mobility won’t be as restricted. I don’t know if you have kids or not, but it seems to me that for most families it’s quite difficult to get around safely if you aren’t inside of a cage.

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              • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 1:29 pm

                “I don’t know if you have kids or not, but it seems to me that for most families it’s quite difficult to get around safely if you aren’t inside of a cage.”

                Yes, a daughter. We don’t have a car so bike everywhere. She’s been biking since she was 3, though not quite that long on streets on her own bike 😉

                She hasn’t gotten the hang of arterials (yet) but does fine on every other street here in SE. But of course here it is flat and pretty decent when it comes to biking. Although I lived a few blocks off Capitol Highway in the seventies I didn’t bike much then, though I did take Trimet home from preschool by myself at 5yrs old. Hard to believe/remember back to those days.

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  • SE July 18, 2017 at 10:10 am

    OK, I ride Springwater MUP to the river a lot. But live near 142nd & Stark. Regularly the touring bike gets tossed into the pickup and transported 4 miles over to SW. Yes, I feel guilty.

    BUT that action keeps me off of SE 122nd (or 136th) where I don’t feel safe. My rides are long enough and knocking 8 miles off the total helps too. I’m 68 .

    Safety sometimes trumps.

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    • Dan A July 18, 2017 at 11:30 am

      I’m totally okay with that. I see cars parked at the start of the Hwy 26 MUP — I’m surprised there aren’t more people that do this, but it’s hard to get people to think multi-modal.

      We tried to encourage parents at our school to use ‘alternative drop spots’ for their kids, rather than driving them to the front door, and we gave a presentation on this idea at a parents’ meeting. I made a map with ~10 good locations for dropping them off, where they could easily join in with other groups walking to school. We even put some drop spots a block or two away, which would be WAY faster to use than sitting in line in the school parking lot. But we were unable to get the idea to catch on. Really, as soon as you start passing kids as they are walking to school, shouldn’t you start thinking: hey, THOSE kids are walking from here….why can’t my kids do that?

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    9watts
    “I don’t know if you have kids or not, but it seems to me that for most families it’s quite difficult to get around safely if you aren’t inside of a cage.”
    Yes, a daughter. We don’t have a car so bike everywhere. She’s been biking since she was 3, though not quite that long on streets on her own bike
    She hasn’t gotten the hang of arterials (yet) but does fine on every other street here in SE. But of course here it is flat and pretty decent when it comes to biking. Although I lived a few blocks off Capitol Highway in the seventies I didn’t bike much then, though I did take Trimet home from preschool by myself at 5yrs old. Hard to believe/remember back to those days.
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    You live in a bike bubble on the flats of SE Portland. That is why you can live bike-free. Very few people have that luxury.

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    • 9watts July 18, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      “Very few people have that luxury”

      I find this kind of argument quite problematic. I didn’t grow up in the SE Portland of the 2010s, and although this place and time does make biking and living carfree fairly easy, to dismiss the choice of living carfree as a luxury seems supremely unhelpful and a way to escape the responsibility to look into what it might take to live carfree either right here or under less ideal circumstances.
      Never mind that 82% of my neighbors here in SE still own cars and drive everywhere.

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    • Chris I July 19, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Everything is a choice. He is paying more for less private property space (house, yard, etc) than he would be in the suburbs. Other people clearly put more value on those amenities, and less on active transportation.

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      • Pete July 21, 2017 at 6:30 pm

        Just to be clear, choosing to live in the suburbs and prioritizing active transportation are not mutually exclusive. You don’t have to live in a dense city neighborhood to get around by bicycle, and suburban sprawl does not force you to drive a car.

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