One of the most well-known bicycling and urban planning consultants in the world had harsh words for Portland after a visit over the holidays.
In an Instagram post yesterday, Mikael Colville-Andersen wrote that, “Portland is completely overrated as a bike city” and that “It is a car city that squeezed some bike facilities in. Almost reluctantly, it seems.”
Colville-Andersen was in Portland to visit family; but he couldn’t resist sharing what he saw while walking our streets. The lack of people on bikes in general is what seemed to stick with him most. “In the course of 6 days I counted 26 people on bikes and I was all over town. TWENTY-SIX. Even in half-ass bike cities like Oslo (cold, hilly) and the like you would see more,” he wrote.
Colville-Andersen is known for his Copenhagenize blog, which rose to prominence about 10 years ago for its documentation of the people and infrastructure of one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities. Colville-Andersen has since built his blog into an urban design and planning firm that has completed projects around the world. He has also recently launched a TV series called “Life-Sized City”.
In 2009, Colville-Andersen visited Portland as an emissary of the Danish Embassy. He spoke at an event where he shared the stage with then Mayor Sam Adams. At that event nine years ago, Colville-Andersen said it would only take Portland 5-10 years to achieve what it took Copenhagen 30 years to achieve in part because all the (planning and engineering) mistakes have been made and the case for bicycling is stronger now than it has ever been. He also pointed out that to do that it would take, “visionary political decision-making.”
In 2011, the Copenhagenize Index of the world’s best cycling cities ranked Portland 11th — and we were the only U.S. city to make the list.
Here’s the full text of his Instagram post:
I know I’m not the first to say it but Portland is so completely overrated as a bike city. Strikes me each time I visit. The city in general is nice and I love hanging out there. But time and again I realise that Bike Hype has clouded the reality. If a city is bike friendly, bicycles are a fifth limb for the citizens. You see them everywhere and at all hours. Bikes are spotted in racks.
The first time I visited for work it was late October and I wondered where the bikes were. A gent from the City, Roger Geller, admitted that the modal share was counted in June, during bike month. Not fair data for year round. Sure, in the American context the city is a bit ahead of the curve. Bike corrals here and there. Cool bike parking facilities now and again. But then bike lanes in the door zone. What a facepalm. And painted green – but not through the intersections where it’s needed. “Bicycle Boulevards” that are a product of lazy planning to keep bikes off the main car-centric streets and the natural Desire Lines for all citizens. Fragments that suggest the city has thought about bikes but when you don’t see cyclists, it doesn’t mean much. It is a car city that squeezed some bike facilities in. Almost reluctantly, it seems.
Go to Portland for the transit. It’s a brilliant work in progress. But biketown? Don’t buy the hype. Development has plateaued. Go to Minneapolis. Montreal. San Francisco. Places that are at least trying.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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He…clearly did not spend a lot of time on Trimet.
Trimet could be better, but it is amazing for a city our size.
Trimet could be better, but it is amazing for AN AMERICAN city our size.
I’d say Trimet could also be described as completely overrated. Not enough North/South connections, not enough dedicated lanes, not enough rail. It’s too complicated to get to relatively far away destinations and too damn slow to get to the relatively close ones.
What city would you say has a better system?
For a city of a relatively similar size and age of transportation, Denver. They have a new, central rail hub and more lines extend much further into the suburbs (although, admittedly, their sprawl is more significant). Few of their lines rely upon surface streets, allowing them to move much more quickly.
I dunno, the proof of usefulness for me is in people actually using it. For mode share to employment (admittedly an imperfect measure, but the only one with comparable data that I’m aware of), Denver metro area, ~6%. Portland metro area, ~8%. Both pretty steady for the past decade. Perhaps Denver’s will improve with more time for people to change their habits, move based on transit preferences and destinations, and transit-oriented development given the large rail expansion in the past decade. However, I’m not all that optimistic. With rail networks as spindly as Portland and Denver’s, the number of people with origins and destinations within reach of rail is always going to be low. My guess is that both cities would need a fast, frequent, not-stuck-in-traffic, ubiquitous bus network in order to really grow their transit mode shares.
I carefully said “America” not “North America.” But “amazing” is still too strong. “In the top 20% for transit quality compared to U.S. metro areas of similar size” is I’m pretty sure true.
Also no overnight service. Busses ran on Sunday schedules on New Year’s Eve for crying out loud.
Just wait, TriMet is going to see a huge growth spurt. They are getting hundreds of millions of new dollars a year as a result of the transportation funding package. It is mostly going to expand bus service. New lines. Tighter headways, longer service hours and better equipment are all on the way.
TriMet would do well to have some form of orbital route instead of depending on the hub-and-spoke system.
Interesting that you mention it. TriMet’s current system was considered very innovative when rolled out in the 80s. It is loosely defined as a Grid system where transfers are common and less painful due to high frequency of service. You can see what a true hub system looked like here in Portland if you look at TriMet maps from the 70s. A total mess.
Then they got rid of the frequent service, so now you can’t really transfer unless it’s at a hub. So it’s like, the worst of both worlds now.
Even then, Portland should really be evaluated based on the whole metro area, not just the city itself. Add in Beaverton, Vancouver, etc. and the transportation system looks pathetic.
And for anyone thinking maybe that’s unfair to judge the city based on the metro area, remember that the City (government) has been responsible for creating some of the reasons why people move to Vancouver and elsewhere ringing Portland–land use policies, tax policies, shortcomings with public safety and schools…
The first three days he was here the entire city, then the side streets and bike lanes, were coated by ice and it was also the biggest stay-cozy-at-home holiday of the year and apparently staying downtown in the business district (while everyone was off work/school).
And according to his instagram the 2nd set of 6 days were spent on the Oregon coast in Yachats so….not exactly a fair representation of our biking rates in the biggest metropolitan city in Oregon.
Well, sure, but quite a lot of people live downtown. Not having almost any bike infrastructure there is a huge missed opportunity, and the City has showed very little urgency on fixing it. There are tons of quibbles to make with Mikael’s assessment, but overall it’s correct (and in fact too rosy – as you point out, our transit outside of downtown is dismal and has actually gotten worse in many places over the last decade due to bus frequency cuts.)
So I’m sure the roads were also clear of cars during his visit since everyone was staying home. Oh wait…
Fact that they remained coated by ice is no excuse, if anything it’s a proof. I lived several years in Amsterdam which has much harsher winters, but by the time peope hop on bikes paths are cleared.
Mikael obviously doesn’t have the full picture of what’s going on in Portland; but if I were in his shoes I could see myself writing the same thing. We’ve clearly lost our way when it comes to bicycling. The cycling swagger we once had in this town is all but gone. The spirit around cycling that helped launch this site — and lots of other cool things — is just not quite the same as it once was. I’ve been thinking about this a lot for many months (years!) now and it really bothers me that BikePortland hasn’t been able to pull the right levers at the right times to turn things around. I have a lot of thoughts about this but I’ll stop here for now. I’d love to hear what others think.
Sure, there are plenty of complaints to be made about the infra, that people who actually live and work and raise children here are already making. 🙂 Sorry, I’m biased against his opinions because I find his arrogance noxious.
He may be arrogant, even smarmy at times, but that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong.
Where some see arrogance others see honesty. Little Portland does not like criticism especially from smarmy Euros, California transplants, east coast columnists, or pretty much anyone else. If you don’t want to be criticized then don’t claim to be good at something you’re not. I don’t know what happened to this town. Ten years ago it really felt like it was trying to do something different, whether it was bicycling, transit, green building, climate change, you name it. Now it’s becoming just another average American city with average American governance and zero vision. Brand Portland has expired.
Look at our last three mayors. All of them subpar.
Look at the commissioners…For a city the size of Portland to not have a strong mayor form of government is hilarious.
Strong mayors are great as long as you like what they do. If we have a “strong mayor” who wants to increase auto capacity, we’re stuck.
Exactly. There are a lot of times I’ve been glad mayors haven’t been able to accomplish things they’ve wanted to do.
Colville-Andersen has a readership. I don’t generally read what he writes, except occasionally when he’s mentioned here on bikeportland, which is where I first heard of him several years ago or so when this weblog did a story about something he said, which someone claimed out him as being a sexist pig, or some such thing. I suppose that illustrates that he may be getting his readership from people that like a certain level of obnoxiousness, or as you said, arrogance.
That little instagram blurb he wrote, certainly for me, doesn’t summarize well, much about infrastructure for biking in Portland, Beaverton where I live, or some of the other cities in the valley I’ve ridden and driven in. He comes here basically as a sort of semi-tourist, looking for material for his blog writing, which is alright. Different people like to read different things.
For him to come here, then go back and write dismissively about our areas’ long decade spanning efforts to improve conditions for biking and walking, without much apparent awareness of or sensitivity to the culture, values and needs of people in the U.S. and here in the Willamette and Tualitan Valleys, doesn’t impress me much in a positive way. He sounds too much like just other hot-button blog writers that aren’t really equipped with much that can really help to bring about constructive change in the way of better conditions for biking where better conditions don’t already exist.
I think he’s got a point. The whole metro area called it good when MSTIPS 3 and the Blue Line were completed. Maybe a MSTIPS 4 (to upgrade the existing routes and put in more crosstown routes) and adding an orbital light rail would be a good continuance of that progress. Maybe find ways to make it cheaper to live in the city, since it sucks to live in Portland, but it doesn’t have to be expensive and suck…
BikePortland is just one man. We need a strong, citywide BikeLoudPDX with enough volunteer capacity to fight battles on multiple fronts between elections and a healthily funded and feared Bike Walk Vote PAC to influence who runs and who wins elections.
I think any bike shop owners who are still giving their money to the Street Trust should seriously consider moving that to Bike Walk Vote as a business decision. It’s not healthy right now, but it at least has City of Portland fights in its mission statement. The Street Trust does good work, but it’s just too far removed from the streets of Portland to give bike shop owners a good return on investment.
We had one… it was called the BTA. Which then faded itself into irrelevance.
Is that what happened? Bummer. I still had a BTA sticker on my rear fender of my old bike when I gave it to the Tulsa Hub.
I’ve said this before but, IMO, a major barrier to effective bike advocacy in Portland is a pervasive reluctance of many to agitate for change. An overreaction to bikelash has created a somewhat cliquish community where “bike culture” is seen as an alternative to direct action (it’s not). The revolving door between local government, non-profits, and planning outfits is one example of this insularity but I have also heard from many who have felt excluded at bike events (Also see: https://bikeportland.org/2015/04/27/column-fellow-bike-lovers-need-talk-car-shaming-139892). Speaking of insularity, I could not help notice the density of congratulation from “insiders” on the Catherine Ciarlo thread. When the only person making a substantive comment (albeit abrasively) about the new head of PBOT’s Active Transportation Division is from Eugene it says something about the level of engagement between active transportation professionals and the general population.
Jonathan, you’ve done great work and hope you don’t feel too discouraged by lack of growth in cycling/commuter culture. Keep doing what you’re doing!
Despite some momentum in MTB scene and best efforts by NWTA, off-road cycling in Portland is woefully lacking, too. I’m not sure what to think of it – Nimbyism, bad local government system, out of control growth, or people just “too busy” to be involved in more positive activism (I think the Resist movement and general political divides deludes positive activism). I’m looking in the mirror and know that there is more than I can do to further the causes I care deepest about.
Show up for 2018 Critical Mass Trail Rides TBA. The future is rosy if us MTB’rs take to the trails.
What/when is that? I’ve never heard of that but am highly interested in moving the needle forward on local mtb bike trail access.
Perhaps he spent most of his time downtown.
If you are not familiar with Portland, you’d probably expect our densest, most walkable parts of town to also have the best bike infrastructure with the most people riding it. Of course, the opposite is true.
This would also explain his impression of Trimet: great service downtown, not so great elsewhere.
The fact that you promoted this guy’s grossly misinformed message is pretty discouraging. I guess it netted you some pageviews, though, right? Was it worth it?
It doesn’t seem particularly misinformed when so many people here think he has valid points.
perhaps max can elaborate on what made his message so grossly misinformed? What max would have said instead?
I think Mikael is spot-on. He makes a very simple point: If Portland were a great bike city, you should see people riding bikes, lots of them. And yes, in the winter, with icy conditions, during the break. In some ways, this is the best time to evaluate whether a city is truly a bike city. The people who visit Portland during the summer, see lots of sun and bike events, and then conclude that Portland is a bike city, they are grossly misinformed — and that, I think contributes to its reputation. But in a city where people use bikes for everyday use, there are people who use bikes (plenty of them) and they are there everyday, rain/snow or shine.
I’ve always been bothered by the LAB awards that don’t actually take into account whether or not a place has actually gotten butts into saddles. Their criteria are almost all about things like having a bike master plan, filling administrative positions that have bikey names and having a few bikey demonstration projects (a segregated lane or two, a bike-specific traffic signal and what-not).
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if it sits on the table uneaten, it must not be very tasty.
Good point, Jonathan, about Portland not moving quickly enough on bike infrastructure. We should all wonder why it’s taking so long, but look at SW Capitol Highway as an example. Residents in SW have been crying for over 20 years about getting basic infrastructure on this major thoroughfare, and only THIS YEAR are we finally seeing a project to add sidewalk on one side of the highway, a separated bike lane on that same side, and a shared path on the other side. And that’s just a mile or so. AND it almost got vetoed by a DEMOCRATIC governor! Otherwise the road is basically the same one built in 1927 between Portland and Salem. Pathetic.
I along with a group of up to 6 cyclist have been going out at all hours biking. Each x on my daily rides (for the last 2 weeks), I have seen more than 26 cyclist each ride. I went to Oslo last March-April and could find very few cyclist and NO bike rentals until the END of my x in Oslo.
I think you are wrong. I have been cycling to Beaverton from North Portland consistently since 2014. I have seen a noticeable increase. Mikael’s take was passive aggressive and smarmy. I find it disappointing as I have always admired his work. It just isn’t necessary to take shots. I also travel a ton. I hear about Minneapolis, Seattle, nyc, and DC. They haven’t caught up to Portland. This is ludicrous. It may be true that they are out-Investing pdx which is a bummer, but our infrastructure is really good. Trust me, I have cycled Copenhagen and it is amazing. It is also flat as a pancake. They would be huffing and puffing on Portland’s Hills like nobody’s business.
What route do you take? I live and work in the same area. The construction at Washington Park made me stop.
The construction hasn’t made it that bad, though when it is nice out I descend the road above the zoo instead (is it Fairmont?). That way I miss the tourists backing out of their parking spots at the Japanese and Rose Garden. In the morning the climb over has remain basically unchanged. Hit it!
Having started my time as an adult cyclist in Seattle, I always laugh inside when people mention Portland’s “hills.” The exception here is Washington Park and other routes over the west hills, but this city is pretty tame.
I’ve been a reader of your blog since it’s inception, but have generally lost interest as you have tried to stretch its content to embrace “woke” issues outside of bike culture. I recall this starting with the north Williams bike lane developments being held up by African American community activists. As a consequence your perspective seemed to noticeable shift away from bike advocacy and towards other social justice issues.
I think that was a mistake, one which facilitated the division of the cycling community just at the time when astronomical population growth in this city threatened to overwhelm the gains we had made in cycling infrastructure.
Homelessness is another such example. This was a good bike blog until the social justice warriors demanded all its users be as woke as they.
Get back to bikes johnathon. Let WW do the virtue signaling.
That is an interestingly blinkered alternative model you are proposing there.
I’m glad this blog doesn’t seem to be following your advice.
Why would you suggest siloing these issues? Pretending there is no overlap, that accomplishing a narrow victory could be (almost certainly will be) stymied by the realization that we forgot constituencies, intersectionality, politics…?
I am sure that to the progressive social justice activists, this blog is the highlight of their morning. To the rest of us it has become an embarrassment; the perfect example of how demands for moral purity can ruin a movement.
Not everyone who rides a bike is a far-left activist. If J. Maus wants to write a blog that speaks only to a subset of the total biking population, that is his right. But it’s also the responsibility of those of us concerned for the lagging interest and enthusiasm for cycling to speak up and opinion why this may have happened. I offer my perspective, which is shared by many others that I have spoken with personally.
Post of the year!
Have you considered that your intense disdain for the left is also a political position?
My politics: normal and good politics
Your politics: virtue signaling social justice warrior politics
Your leftie fragility is showing. I saw nothing in Matthew’s post that could be characterized as “disdain”, never mind “intense disdain”.
But, regardless, he’s not asking for his politics, whatever they are, to be promoted; he’s asking that all politics take a backseat to cycling issues.
Politics and bicycle commuting are not mutually exclusive.
nothing except the alt-right’s favorite denunciation of left politics: “social justice warriors”
Can you suggest a more neutral term?
In the span of several hours I’ve been characterized as “alt-right” (with intimations I suppose that this means I’m a white supremacist of some sort), and been misquoted in an attempt to dismiss.. this is the sort of behavior that inhibits the more reasoned and moderate voices from participating in this forum. This is obviously not just a problem with bikeportland. And the behavior is certainly not limited just to the left.
Jesus folks I dont even identify as a conservative.
Still though, this behavior reeks of the stifling of speech via demands for moral purity.
Such is the way of the internet comments section I suppose.
I didn’t read that comment as characterizing you as “alt-right”, I just read it as saying that you used a term that the alt-right uses.
I think I understand your general point. I also think cycling can be discussed separately from politics, but only to some degree–talking about gear, races or routes, maybe. I don’t think the cycling subjects often discussed here can be discussed successfully without politics entering the discussion, and inevitably that will turn some people off.
Government is in charge of bicycle infrastructure, how could it not become political. Money, demographics, power — inevitably enter the equation.
There is no doubt that the political can not be avoided. However we too often go beyond into the realm of activism of completely non-bike related topics (race, gender, sexuality, etc), and we do so with a progressive lens that is very dismissive of reasonable counter-notions.
Hey I get it; as urban cyclists it is sometimes hard not falling into the sanctimony trap. We deal with inattentive and sometimes outright hostile commuting environments, and we ride machines that are clean, quiet rather than loud dirty and dangerous. We get frustrated by being treated as second class citizens by the power structures separation update in. It’s hard to not be sanctimonious. But it’s this same sanctimony that enables our viewpoints to be so easily dismissed. I suppose if I were omnipotent I’d time this all down a few notches and work to strengthen what could and should be natural alliances instead. Conservatives ride bikes. Centrists ride bikes. Cycling should not be so divisive, and our community is feeding into this tendency. It’s a shame, and I think it’s also counterproductive.
I’m not sure about the sanctimony business.
There is so much else, such a spectrum of stances, attitudes, perspectives besides sanctimony.
I think we should welcome that diversity.
I am all for diversity of opinion. But slinging around slurs like “racist” is simply an attempt to shut down other people opinions. In this day and age, and especially in this city; calling someone a racist is about the worst thing you can do to them with speech- it can literally destroy reputations, ruin careers, etc. It should be reserved for special occasions. The word has a very specific meaning, and it’s use should be reserved for description of those who fit that meaning, not just someone who’s views you disagree with on a difficult subject. Talking about race, gender, sexuality, etc. are difficult topics. We should be able to have a conversation about the ins and outs of something like community policing without fear of being slurred for thinking outside the very radical Portland progressive box. Else our “progressivism” tends towards tyranny.
On another note; I’m commenting here after a long absence. How come I can only “reply” to certain comments?
The “north Williams bike lane developments being held up by African American community activists” is exactly why politics being discussed is IMPORTANT for cycling. That example is a case where a political issue got brought into the bike infrastructure discussion by an outside group. People wanting that infrastructure then have a choice to look at the issue (and discuss politics, because it’s an issue involving politics) or they can ignore or not discuss the political issue. But if they don’t discuss it or acknowledge it, that isn’t productive for getting that infrastructure built, or getting more built in the future.
Politics are already part of major biking issues involving funding, infrastructure, etc. even if people interested in bike issues aren’t the ones bringing politics into the discussion.
I find it fascinating how a community so passionate about reevaluating urban infrastructure to value the individual and community over the dictates of automobile can get so bogged down by issues such as race, gender, homelessness, etc. Is it that these issues are so fraught with emotion that they are near impossible to deal with rationally? It sometimes seems that these issues have become effective tools for those opposed to public cycling infrastructure. They can be wielded at whim to derail the goals we all seek.
I just don’t think we can accomplish much if the movement is not focused on a particular goal and is rather trying to remake aspects of the world only tangentially related to our cause.
“…the goals we all seek.”
I’m afraid it is not nearly so straightforward.
One the one hand I agree; we have a large diversity of opinions and that is for the best, but on the other…surely there are SOME issues we all agree on!
Your thoughtful responses have very much made me want to dive into this fray wholeheartedly again though. I still have much to learn, and there are some very informed voices here.
I don’t think you need to be a world class bike person to come to the same realizations. Our infrastructure is not growing in the way that it feels like it should be.
I understand the complexities of building transportation alternatives into an already existing grid. It’s not easy at all, but it doesn’t change the fact that this place isn’t as enjoyable to ride around as it did 10 years ago…
Yes, the cycling swagger is definitely gone. Seems to have started the decline when Sam Adams left office. Our ‘Platinum’ status needs to be downgraded.
That might be the best thing that could happen for our bike program. It could clarify thinking.
No. We still have the swagger. In fact, swagger has been our best bicycling feature/action. We’ve wrenched our arm out of joint patting ourselves on the back.
I agree. Portland’s swagger is its biggest handicap. Portland reminds me of Lance Armstrong – bold, boasting, aggressive, and once and for a long time widely viewed as a winner. Now in a state of denial. When will Portland be interviewed on Oprah? When will the revelations come out?
close. in my view, the swagger began to wane after Adams’ scandal where he was accused of having a relationship with an intern at City Hall. That scandal knee-capped him politically and in the process one of his most visible “pet issues” — cycling — also suffered as a result.
If the LAB’s ratings were any real measure, I don’t think Portland deserves a rating at all. And a big part of this is the local attitude. Portland drivers are nearly unmitigated jerks. Tulsa lacks the infrastructure Portland does, and what routes do exist tend to go over hills. I think the LAB giving Tulsa a bronze rating is a huge stretch.
But Tulsa’s a better city to ride in and it has everything to do with the level of respect people give each other.
I could see it being gold at this point, putting it on par with Tulsa, given that while Portland’s got the last mile covered for infrastructure, crosstown is awful. No bicycle superhighways, most of the paths are too narrow to actually have centerlines because putting one down would require them to be widened to accomodate two full bike lanes, NONE have sidewalks. Worse, a lot of the on-street infrastructure is low quality and encourages motorist abuse, with a population of motorists willing to deal it out.
It’s like Portland is the Mirror Universe version of Tulsa at this point. Same lane miles of bicycle infrastructure as Portland, but it’s almost entirely high quality cycleway or grade separated cycle superhighway, with all the major routes having sidewalks (joggers, families with kids, and cyclists of all ages and reasons all really enjoy this separation as well). There is exactly one major bike route that suddenly drops to a Portland style, narrow and unstriped, roughly paved “Springwater Corridor” type experience, and it’s literally the last few kilometers of the Riverparks East Trail south of the River Spirit Casino, and it’s only moderately busy north of the 96th Street bike bridge to Jenks (which, yes, also has sidewalks, and unlike the Tilikum Crossing, has bicycle facilities wide enough to safely pass). Sure, you have to take the primary position in the lane almost universally on the surface streets, but drivers are happy to let you if you’re predictable and signal. And we’re definitely moving forward (albeit slowly though picking up some momentum) on getting the last mile situation better handled.
It’s actually shocking to me that an oil city in a red state is on the cusp of just whipping Portland on bicycle accessibility. But hey, hows those TriMet headways and service hours these days?
It is interesting, isn’t it!
Even those nasty racist red-staters can do something constructive for cycling and cyclists, and they are kicking the crap outta our supposed progressive cycling paradise.
We’ve lost our eye on the ball folks. Perhaps its time to be more inclusive of some conflicting opinions.
Except when you go to Corvallis, which has the highest percentage in the country of people bike riding to work (in a city with a population of > 50,000).
I’ve lived here for 21 years. It used to be a great place to ride a bike, now I dread my commute every day. The city has put in all these bike boulevards at a huge cost but they don’t work if they’re dominated by speed traffic looking for a nice cut though street with no stop signs. And lowering speed limits all over doesn’t work if car drivers don’t care and there’s no enforcement or infrastructure in place to actually get people to drive 20 mph. I’m disappointed and ready to find somewhere new to live.
Which one street would you love a re-do? Does it involve land use zoning? SW Scholls Ferry Road by SW Patton Road ? Interstate Ave ?
Interstate! Willamette, Bike Lanes on Skidmore extended from Michigan to NE 7th, Greenway on SE 6th between Davis and Division, Peninsula Crossing trail connection to Columbia Slough trail, North Portland Greenway, Salmon Greenway between 12th and the Esplanade, Ankeny Crossing at Sandy, so many gaps!
Close off Division to cars, except to get to local driveways. Express transit lines and bikways from Water Street to 176th, and on-street outdoor cafes and pocket parks from 80th to 176th. Ditto on 82nd, Clatsop to Airport Way.
My feelings exactly. That’s a major reason for my moving east in 2015, that and being priced out.
Well said, Hazel. I all but stopped riding for two reasons: 1) A tremendous number of drivers–too too many–are so filled with a sense of impunity and up their own hinds now, and they make riding very dangerous, and 2) I can’t put my bike in my pocket, unfortunately, and I am unwilling to park it–even with three heavy duty, expensive locks–ANYWHERE in Portland, at this point. I don’t even want to park my car anywhere in Portland now, what with the huge problem with car theft, now, too.
Before moving out of the city a few months ago (best decision of our lives), I avoided even letting my bike be seen in our home. I avoided leaving anything of value out on our property, after several thefts (someone even dug up a plant and stole it, ffs!). I got a heavy duty mailbox and pounced on the mail as soon as I could. I immediately cleaned up/painted over tagging on our property–I gave up on the surrounding area when it just became too much. I called the non-emergency line when tweakers and huffers hung out at the empty rental next door, completely out of their minds. I talked to the neighbor about him and his friends making our block their insanely noisy modified car workshop/testing ground. I picked up garbage spilled all over the place each week after we put our cans out (incl. the dog shit regularly deposited by passersby). I reported abandoned (stolen) vehicles left with the windows open after being used to party. We lived, by the way, in the heart of one of the most highly hyped and praised (newly) expensive neighborhoods in Portland, right smack next to New Disney Division.
I really didn’t mean to go on like that when I started this post but this city really has become the opposite of livable at this point, and I just don’t understand why it’s not talked about more…so that we can actually DO something about it before it gets even worse. The idealization of Portland drives me bats. I guess most of us are such frogs in the proverbial pot of boiling water, we don’t see how awful it’s gotten. Plus, so many folks who move here are so starry-eyed and have so much personally invested in Portland, they are almost pathologically defensive when anyone dares to criticize their chosen Saviour.
Starting to take simple, comprehensive enforcement of existing laws seriously and drastically expanding/improving transit (incl. biting the bullet and creating dedicated bus lanes, stat) would be good steps in the right direction.
Hear, hear, rachel b! And Hazel! Portland is starting to reach Mad Max levels of neglect and laissez-faire. I moved out too, and am only worried I may not have moved far enough away to avoid Portland creep. Portland’s reputation as a great bike city rested on its relative lack of crowding and auto traffic. Almost all of the investment in bike infrastructure in the past 20 years has been dependent on sane, attentive, even deferential motorists, and not too many of them. Now that that’s out the window, Portland is no longer such a great place to bike.
There’s a huge amount of work to be done, of course. Grading Portland against Europe, including places like Oslo, I imagine Portland’s effort on bicycling can look pretty half-hearted. The critique rings true in parts — yes, Portland is a car city with bikeways squeezed in.
(Though the bicycle corral critique is wayyyy off – has he ever been another American city with more?)
Overall, he gets a small sample of the city during the worst biking weather of the year, and casts large judgments based on it. That’s simply arrogance. He’s a blindfolded man touching an elephant and saying it’s all trunk. Of course, he could have spent his time on 82nd Avenue and said even worse things.
His statement about bicycle boulevards shows his arrogance. People say they want to ride away from speeding traffic, in survey after survey.
Maybe they’d prefer to bike on main streets with bikeways like those in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but to criticize low-stress bike networks in the U.S. shows he’s out of touch with riding with kids or the many, many other people who like low-traffic routes.
Glad he’s trying to hold our feet to the fire, but think he misfired.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Colville-Andersen happens to be right based on some extremely biased evidence here. Portland City government has been moving at a snail’s pace on biking for the past decade, and the increase in auto traffic and the change of our driving culture to be more impatient and rude is working against the agonizingly slow infrastructure installations.
The bike boulevards you mention… I have two things to say about them.
1) Portland’s bike boulevards are generally not low-traffic enough to be comfortable to bike with kids on their own bikes at rush hour. Nor are the crossings of major streets high-quality enough, or the wayfinding good enough. And, the standards for new and improved infrastructure are still SO low. The City seems to be happy to install unprotected bike lanes on medium-traffic streets in East Portland and call them portions of new “bike boulevards” rather than do something better. The City has a “Bicycle Advisory Committee” that told them NOT to do diversion on Ladd despite motor vehicle traffic levels above the City’s already-too-loose standards. Bike boulevards are a fine concept, but the execution here is extraordinarily lackluster. A new bike boulevard in Yakima has 5 diverters in 1.7 miles. We had to fight like hell to even get two put in in 3 miles on Clinton St.
2) 99% of Americans have never seen a quality protected bike lane, and don’t even know such a thing exists in the world. Trying to explain the concept and what it would feel like in a sentence or two in a survey seems like asking too much.
I totally agree! The Going Greenway is a great example: It is pretty safe between 7th and 33rd. However, connecting to the greenway from north Portland is a disaster of maze-like routing, unsignalized crossing (including the 4-lane MLK!). PBOT painted some buffered bike lanes along Skidmmore between Interstate and Michigan, but then they just stop! If the City simply extended these to NE 7th, people on bike could safely connect across busy arterials between greenways like Concord, Michigan, and Going and bike lanes on Interstate, Williams and Vancouver.
My point is that the City has added a bunch of miles of greenways to miles of bike lanes it had previously built, but it has neglected to make the tough connections. Those direct and safe connections are the most important part of creating a functional network!
MLK / Going is a great example of the city’s approach to creating bike infrastructure. Fit it in if possible, but do not inconvenience car drivers. However, the weakest link in a bike network determines its value, and while I do love Going from 7th onwards, that lack to safe connection at MLK just makes me sad. And I am sure readers here can enumerate plenty of other spots.
What I found interesting about Mikael’s post is that he does not look at the number of miles of bike infrastructure. He looks at the number of people biking. After all, that’s really what counts. If increasing bike infrastructure by a bunch of miles does not translate into higher bike ridership, then these improvements are not effective.
Yes!! Many diverters. Diverters should be an automatic feature of greenways, if that’s going to be our default bike street design. Speedbumps? Irrelevant. And put a “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” sign on the crossing street stop signs.
I think he has a strong point regarding the prioritization of installing neighborhood greenways instead of protected bike Lanes on arterials. Arterials have the destinations people want to bike to, are often the flattest & most direct routes, have the most car volumes, and also have the highest safety concerns. Any city that wants to dramatically change to be a bike-first rather than car-first city needs to reprioritize the right-of-way of arterial streets. Portland was extremely fortunate to have lots of linear parallel neighborhood streets over flat terrain and with small block sizes to make Greenways a decent biking alternative to arterials. But for truly transformative change, American cities must get more aggressive with arterials, like what Washington DC and Downtown Vancouver BC have done.
Yeah, our corrals are lacking. From the fact that they’re not designed for summer bike traffic, and that I have yet to see one with any motor vehicle protection (don’t say mountable curb) they don’t instill confidence or do much to encourage cycling here.
Also consider the following examples:
Tacoma, WA- Wow, look, using steel beams to protect people.
Los Angeles, CA- just like above with an artful twist.
Sacramento, CA- bollard all the things
North Cambridge, Mass- this parking is near a train station. Outside of the Portland Aerial Tram (which only has one destination), we don’t have anything approaching this.
San Francisco, CA- they took the time to make this one bright and noticeable.
Even Dunwoody, GA seems to be well ahead of Portland on this front:
I’d say we have a long way to go on the bike parking front alone.
I disagree. I think the mindset that it is only fair if we compare Portland with other American cities is exactly the kind of attitude that has stopped us from thinking bolder and bigger. Aside from a few large American cities (NYC, SF, DC, etc) bicycling as a mode of transportation is virtually unrealistic everywhere in the U.S. Also, I think looking at bicycling in the winter gives you much more of a realistic assessment about a city’s commitment to making it a safe and convenient mode of transportation. If it’s cold and rainy outside and you still find a lot of people riding their bikes instead of driving,that really says something about the greatness of bicycling in your city. And that cannot be achieved with the kind of infrastructure and the kind of political leadership we have right now.
And if PBOT were on the ball, they’d issue a press release or hold a press conference in which they did two things:
(a) respond to these criticisms and point out any errors,
(b) identify what, when, where the things that are obviously inadequate will be addressed.
… and if they were feeling really generous/transparent, explain how we got here.
They should have a press conference because somebody said mean things on Instagram? What is this, the federal government?
First off, Mikael isn’t just somebody, and neither is Jonathan.
Secondly, they have a division for Communication & Public Involvement, just one level down from Leah Treat. If they can’t be relied on to defend their record or admit shortcomings then what is the point of that office?
Truth. Like it or not- like him or not- Mikael is an opinion-maker.
Thanks for the gut busting laugh. His pathetic opinion means ABSOLUTELY ZERO to me. Maybe his “inspirational message” will turn people away from here too. It’s not better.
It may not mean anything to you, but there are plenty of people to whom his opinions matter quite a bit.
Unfortunately, none of them have the title “City Commissioner.”
This comment made me laugh out loud. Thank you.
Laugh all you want, it’s still true. Or maybe you can tell us why his opinion doesn’t matter on your TV show. Oh wait, he has one and you don’t? How about that.
I agree, and to expand on that, note that PBOT isn’t the only public body that influences bike transportation. Many of the paths are Parks’ responsibility. Planning has a huge influence through zoning and design review. And of course the Police with enforcement…
In fairness to PBOT (the typical target of my ire), they lack the political spine to upset people and be great because they are the manifestation of a political machine that seems to believe in the radical notion of beige. I think Ted Wheeler’s going to do a TED talk on that or something.
He’s not wrong.
Portland’s bike friendliness is grossly overstated by city leadership. Our infrastructure is mostly non-existent and what does exist is confusing, inconsistent, and somehow always experimental (with us being the perennial lab rats, of course). The vast majority of what the city calls bikeways relies solely on painted arrows which do next to nothing for safety or comfort. Portland is 99% hype with a few crumbs thrown our way every so often.
And it’s not surprising seeing all the defensiveness here — Portlanders have a fear of outside opinions that contradict their own inflated sense of self-importance. Contradict anyone who claims Portland is great and prepare for a barrage of hatred thrown your way.
Yes, Portland (I’m thinking mainly government) spends too much time congratulating itself and doing PR about what a great job it’s doing. And then it starts believing its own PR, blinding it to its own mediocrity and then, as you say, getting defensive against criticism instead of listening to it.
“Mainly government” or possibly local government that reflects the local population?
But, yes we can be our own best/worst yes-men.
Yes, mainly government, but yes, good point–the local government does reflect the views of at least a sizeable segment of the population, and it’s also that population that elected the officials doing the self-congratulating.
Tell me about it. I hadn’t ridden in Portland until about a decade ago. I hoped to find something similar to the hype, but found just another car town with a few “look at me” type of features that really didn’t add much to the experience. I was roundly hated on for pointing this out, with the best reactions being from those who claimed that PDX was just beginning its journey and that it would reach 30% modal share in no time.
Unfortunately, I could see even then that the focus on only building what infra could be squeezed in without disrupting motorized travel and a complete aversion to traffic law enforcement meant that it wasn’t going to get any better.
Like Colville-Andersen, I hailed from a location that actually did have a significant percentage of its citizens doing most of their trips by bike. I spent many four-day weekends and some full weeks just visiting and would often see similar bike counts to what he experienced. Sometimes, I would walk ten miles and see but one or two bikes, and even those surprised me because the conditions are so horrid.
Portland has an image problem: it’s image of itself is not in alignment with reality. I don’t see that getting any better because motorists think seeing any bikes means there’s too many, and most Portlanders are motorists.
An alternative theory: Many people hate riding here October through April because it’s usually cold, dark, and raining.
An alternative theory easily disproven by checking out the winter cycling statistics for Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Trondheim, etc. They have winter weather and darkness ranging from considerably worse to far worse, and winter bike mode shares ranging from considerably better to far better.
Yep. I rode in Berlin all winter when I lived there…. because of protected bike lanes.
Yeah, but #WeAreNotAmsterdam! Everyone knows that the things that increase mode share over there are impossible given our longitude! It Simply Can’t Be Done ™!
but they don’t have attitudes that Americans seem to have.
Sure, if you discount the cities that are catching up or overtaking. Inola, Oklahoma just passed and is shovel ready on going to complete streets. They’re thinking ahead, and I’ll go ahead and let y’all fill in whatever stereotype you want about small town Oklahoma. Tulsa’s almost caught up on centerline miles of bicycle infrastructure, and starting to branch out into first/last mile to connect up what amount to bicycle superhighways already existing around the city.
What’s Portland done? Add a stupid bicycle roundabout to an otherwise T-intersection and reintroduced on-street dual-direction bike lanes. Break out the leisure suits and the disco records while you’re at it, guys!
But right there, all of your examples are European cities. It’s a different mindset. In my own office, I can easily see that the thinking is true – once the daylight shortens and the weather worsens, half of our regular bike riders head back to Trimet.
OK, I was too lazy to look up all the Asian examples. Tokyo and Osaka have reasonably similar winters to Portland and way more people on bikes. http://www.cityclock.org/urban-cycling-mode-share/#.Wk1ZWVQ-dE4
If you want somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, wait a few years… Vancouver, BC has been quickly increasing its bike mode share for the past decade. It’s neck and neck with us now but I would guess it’ll be to ~10% by the early 2020s.
I think the “mindset” you mention is mostly a product of government policy, not mostly an inherent cultural difference. Right now, we have three main groups of people who bike to work: die-hards like me and probably you who either like biking enough or hate the alternatives enough to do it year-round, fair-weather bikers who are willing to deal with biking taking more time/effort than the alternatives because it’s nice being outside in the summer, and poor folks who bike because it’s hands-down the cheapest way to get the distance they want to go in the time they have. When you lose the “willing to take the extra time to bike because it’s a nice experience” bikers in the winter, it’s a big hit to mode share.
In cities with comfortable, convenient bike infrastructure, a dense built environment, and a lack of implicit subsidies and a presence of additional taxes for driving, you get a lot of additional people who bike because it’s just the fastest, cheapest, most convenient option for their trip. If it’s raining, they’d have to spend more time and money to go a different way. So they don’t, they still bike. In general.
I’d add that those places also have rudimentary traffic law enforcement, something sorely lacking in PDX (and America in general these days). If you’ve ever lived with strict traffic law enforcement, you’d never underestimate how much it adds to the cycling experience in terms of expectations of safety and enjoyment.
I moved to Vancouver, BC from Portland (where I lived since 2003) and I have been consistently impressed with the significant, ongoing changes I’ve seen in bike infrastructure over the last 2.5 years. While there are certainly flaws (big investments in already very good bike paths while other parts of the city go without), I have become so used to protected bike lanes that biking in Portland now feels absurdly dangerous. I’m still confused about why the sort of protected bike lanes we have up here are not in place in Portland–many of them are concrete barricades that are movable, but not permanent (google maps image here: https://goo.gl/maps/5pPKrBFwnQu) and seem like the sort of thing that would have been perfect for Willamette. Who needs two stripes of paint when you have a concrete barricade?!
There is also a robust network of neighbourhood bike paths here, much like Portland’s bike boulevards, but it seems that there has been more effort on what they call “traffic calming” and, in some instances, building separate protected bike lanes on neighbourhood streets (this mostly seems to be in place on the west side of the city).
For what it’s worth, I biked year round in Portland because it was easy and cheap and because TriMet did not meet my needs; in Vancouver I am much more of a fair weather cyclist because the bus/SkyTrain network is good. (And yeah, 50% of all trips in the city are made by non-motor vehicles, so something must be working.)
One thing that Vancouver has learned is that doing good design creates more supporters than doing a lousy design. Any change in a street will be controversial and will use up some political capitol but doing a good design will create more support and political capitol to more than make up for it. Doing a bad design will use up both political capitol that happens anyway as well as not creating much support.
This is what I think might be happening in Portland for example with the bicycle boulevards that aren’t effective enough at diversion. Drivers are opposed that they no longer dominate and now have to pay some attention but then with the diversion being so low or noneffective they’re not even good to cycle on. This means that they don’t have all the people who would be loving it and writing to city councillors to thank them. With a bicycle boulevard that’s up to AAA standards there would be the same numbers of people opposed but they would be countered by all those supporting it.
This is a very good point. Every time this happens, it becomes another example of how “we tried, but nobody liked it, so what’s the point?” The accumulation of such examples makes further efforts more and more difficult.
Right. What Vancouver did was first try a AAA route downtown. It was hugely controversial and hugely popular because what happened was it made so many people discover how great cycling really could be and that the answer lies in infrastructure. So while there rabid crazies ready to kill there were also thousands of new supporters. People from the “interested but concerned” segment of the population mostly. People who had wanted to cycle but hadn’t now started cycling. It was very tough but it set the city in a better direction and gave it confidence in that direction.
Now eight years after the first one, Vancouver has nine AAA bike routes. Some protected cycle lanes and some neighbouhood greenways with good diversion. Opposition to it has lessened a lot but it’s still around. After all that the political party that was in power when the first one went in has been re-elected twice.
So, there’s really no benefit to being timid about these things. Make some priorities, make some standards, make some plans, then build.
That is super fun, Clark, and thank you for reporting on this. One question. Why do you refer to them/are they called AAA? That evokes (at least for me) the American Automobile Association, no friend to cycling you can be sure. I’m sure that is not what you meant to invoke which is why I’m asking.
In cycling infrastructure AAA stands for All Ages and Abilities. (I don’t know where or when the term started.) There are some principals to follow when designing cycling infrastructure.
BTW, the equivalent of the AAA here will actually come and help you with a flat tire on your bike. https://www.bcaa.com/blog/2017/membership-is-rewarding/fear-no-flat
“…the AAA here…”
Oh, you’re in THAT Vancouver. Ha.
We have one much closer, and so I assumed.
Well never mind.
Yeah… I totally missed that too. Who knew he was all the way up in Washington? I also thought he lived on N Vancouver.
Actually Vancouver’s bike mode share (trips to work) is higher than Portland’s. ~10% vs 6%.
Sorry Alex, but if greater numbers of people in Portland than do already, wanted to ride despite the rain and cold and darkness, and motor vehicle traffic, they would. It’s not as though anything approaching a majority, or even a large minority of Portland residents are saying ‘If the city would just build some better bike lanes, I’d be happy to ride my bike in the cold, dark rain instead of driving my nice warm Toyota.’.
I think there are many factors that enter in to why in some European cities, more people than here, are willing to ride bikes and walk rather than drive or travel in motor vehicles. An ocean and an entire country away, it’s apparently very easy for some people to over-simplify the reasons for this out of desperation for an explanation. In many ways, the U.S. isn’t anything like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, and it doesn’t seem that many people here in the U.S. really wish for the kind of daily life people have in those cities.
“…if greater numbers of people … they would.”
“It’s not as though anything approaching a majority… are saying”
“I think …
“…it’s apparently very easy”
“…it doesn’t seem that many people here in the U.S. really wish for the kind of daily life people have in those cities.”
A whole lot of speculation right there. How do you know any of this?
People can’t wish for much less express that wish in a manner we can hear if they have no idea what life in those countries is like/what life could be like here. You are telling us what people are not wishing for, but without a shred of evidence. I have lived in Europe and been to many cities I’ve not lived in, and as a resident of this country I will say that most people I know here are in one way or another resigned to the fact that we in the US simply don’t have the will or the leadership or the priorities to actually pursue much less accomplish what those other countries have. It is disheartening and defeatist but I would never conclude as you have that there is no interest, no demand for something better. Or that the something better would not be embraced.
You make a similar point often: not enough people want it, so we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do it. I think it was Steve Jobs who had the general philosophy that “people don’t know what they want until we give it to them”. Similarly, people go around believing they have some kind of freedom of choice, but really, we can only choose from among the choices presented—how can one choose something that isn’t on the menu? It is in the best interest of automakers, et al. To limit transportation choices to something like 1. Drive an awesome car on smooth, wide roads like a cool, normal person—and park for free when you get there, 2. Spend hours on second-rate, unreliable, dirty transit like a poor loser, or 3. Use some other “alternative”, like a weird hippie—and don’t be surprised when your preferred routes are impassible, your life is threatened regularly, and nobody does anything about it.
What if the choices were re-framed (marketed) as 1. Use convenient, clean, and affordable transit like an intelligent, community-minded person, 2. Walk or ride a bike along direct, quiet, safe routes like a fit, self-reliant, yet in-touch citizen or 3. Waste time and money sitting isolated in traffic on dirty, potholed “free”ways in your vastly over-priced SUV, so you can get to your job, pay exorbitant parking fees, and work for a couple hours each day just to make the payments on your depreciating “asset” like a fiscally irresponsible resource hog—not to mention taking the chance you’ll do something dumb in your distracted stupor and get a guaranteed hefty fine or have your depreciating asset confiscated.
What would people want then?
People know they get one body in this life, yet many treat theirs very poorly. Humans are funny creatures like that.
I imagine many would still choose option three, unfortunately…
MSP and Montréal would like to sing you the song of their people.
Pour it on the city and county leaders !
Blame it on the metal-studded car tire damage. Band-aids.
I blame Amanda Fritz.
Maybe it’s the movies, maybe it’s the books
Maybe it’s the bullets, maybe it’s the real crooks
Maybe it’s the drugs, maybe it’s the parents
Maybe it’s the colors everybody’s wearin
Maybe it’s the President, maybe it’s the last one
Maybe it’s the one before that, what he done
Maybe it’s the high schools, maybe it’s the teachers
Maybe it’s the tattooed children in the bleachers
Maybe it’s the Bible, maybe it’s the lack
Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the crack
Maybe it’s the hairdos, maybe it’s the TV
Maybe it’s the cigarettes, maybe it’s the family
Maybe it’s the fast food, maybe it’s the news
Maybe it’s divorce, maybe it’s abuse
Maybe it’s the lawyers, maybe it’s the prisons
Maybe it’s the Senators, maybe it’s the system
Maybe it’s the fathers, maybe it’s the sons
Maybe it’s the sisters, maybe it’s the moms
Maybe it’s the radio, maybe it’s road rage
Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
Maybe it’s the army, maybe it’s the liquor
Maybe it’s the papers, maybe the militia
Maybe it’s the athletes, maybe it’s the ads
Maybe it’s the sports fans, maybe it’s a fad
Maybe it’s the magazines, maybe it’s the internet
Maybe it’s the lottery, maybe it’s the immigrants
Maybe it’s taxes, big business
Maybe it’s the KKK and the skinheads
Maybe it’s the communists, maybe it’s the Catholics
Maybe it’s the hippies, maybe it’s the addicts
Maybe it’s the art, maybe it’s the sex
Maybe it’s the homeless, maybe it’s the banks
Maybe it’s the clearcut, maybe it’s the ozone
Maybe it’s the chemicals, maybe it’s the car phones
Maybe it’s the fertilizer, maybe it’s the nose rings
Maybe it’s the end, but I know one thing.
If it were up to me, I’d take away the guns.
Do you think she, the PBA, and Marcie Houle have a monthly brunch meeting at that weird Mercedes showroom in downtown Portland to plot how to further stymie biking in Portland?
I don’t know how or why, but I keep reading it here, so I know it’s true.
Honestly, I would be fine with Fritz’s proposed change re: bikes and transit. (Did it go anywhere? Is the Comp Plan adopted yet? Anyone know?) What bothers me to no end is that the Commissioners continue to allocate funding and political will in complete disregard of the pyramid, while thinking they are doing a great job on biking, walking, and transit.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Fritz is deeply anti-biking, just as she is deeply anti-density and deeply pro-free-parking and easy-car-travel. I just think that the bike/transit mode flip proposal is the least worrisome example of these tendencies.
I hear they give out an annual award that is far more coveted among the cognoscenti than the Alice B. Toeclips award. Past winners have included Police Capt. Uehara, the owner of SkiBowl, BARK!’s executive director, and Nick Christensen.
I blame Portland’s culture of self-congratulation, an insistence on doing things “the Portland way” (read: free from “outside influence”), and defensiveness in the face of constructive criticism. You see this not just in bikes but in all forms of city government: reactionary policies intended to help people yet that ignore conventional wisdom and as a result actually hurt the people intending to help. Housing is a huge sufferer from this culture too: the disastrous renter relocation fee that actually resulted in higher rents, and the Mayor’s insistence on (and Eudaly’s approval of) paying for $350K “affordable” units. The complete lack of foresight in any city policies is mind-boggling.
I’d be homeless right now if it wasn’t for the renters assistance and I’m not alone.
Hi Jeff, The relocation assistance fee ordinance is up for renewal in February and we need the testimony of people who have been helped by this law. At pdxtu.org you can find info on how to help us get this law extended and strengthened.
“the disastrous renter relocation fee that actually resulted in higher rents”
Funny how you always ask for citations yet you never seem to cite your own personal opinions. How about Eulasy’s own landlord admitting they raised her rent 9.7% because of the relo assistance? Funny how when a commissioner antagonistically introduces uncertainly into a rental market, that landlords react by raising rents while they can before who knows what happens.
it’s spelled eudaly, not eulasy. just curious, clicky, are you male?
and i note that the only evidence you can provide is that the ordinance **LIMITED** commissioner eudaly’s rent increase?
the title of your link:
not too long ago double digit (50%, 60%, 70%) rent increases were common and now they are rare. imo, the relo assistance ordinance should have a lower rent increase cap and cover all tenants (currently about a fifth are not covered).
The article quoted Eudaly as saying:
“However, the real issue is with landlords who haven’t historically been raising rents by nearly 10 percent, but are doing it now. It’s reactionary, and it’s exacerbating our rent crisis.”
That suggests that she, at least, thinks some landlords are increasing rents faster than they otherwise would have in response to the law.
I generally support the law, but would change my mind if the evidence suggests it is not meeting its goals.
In the piece Eudaly also states that the 9.7% increase was lower than her previous increases. The lack of data* is also, IMO, a consequence of long-term and continuing opposition to tenant rights at city hall.
*in general, the city of portland does not track who rents, where they rent, how many renters live in a unit, and whether those units are habitable or up to code.
What’s clear is that the situation is not clear. Some tenants won, and some lost. Whether the overall effect was positive or negative probably depends on who won and lost, and by how much. If Eudaly saved on rent at the expense of people not earning 6 figures, that is not an obvious win.
We simply don’t have the data to know at this point, and maybe never will.
Sad but true, This is about more than just bikes. As a civilization we are like an alcoholic on his last bender. The liquor cabinet is empty, our liver is about shot, and we just lost our job, but we are gonna have that last drinking binge before we hit bottom and get some help. We can’t seem to put down the massive stream of fossil fuel energy that is fueling our auto madness. As we near the end of this 100 year binge with out liver about shot ( the environment/climate), and the liquor cabinet empty ( economicaly obtainable oil) we can’t help ourselves but have one last binge. We know it will end badly but we can only hope it ends soon, and we come back to our senses and move on to sane ways to travel the earth.
It feels like there are fewer people cycling to me. Bridge counts would provide some confirmation of this but the Hawthorne counter has been malfunctioning for many months. However, the mostly working Tilkum counter suggests a drop off in 2017 versus 2016 (switch to weekly and 1/01/2016-12/31/2017):
My perception of declining numbers is the same.
Here is a scary thought. Maybe that is all the good people that there are. See the few cyclists, thats it ,everyone else doesn’t give a hoot about the Children, the Future of the Planet or anything else. They will drive until someone prys the steering wheel from their cold fingers, or until the gas runs out, no matter what.
My personal guess is that we’re still just stagnating. The 2016/2017 Tilikum data could be easily attributed to reduced “New bridge-curious” travelers (the bridge only opened in October 2015, remember). Eventually, though, the impact of gentrification in inner Portland will outweigh the influx of disproportionately bike-friendly domestic in-migrants.
I do think the 7% number from the last ACS or the one two years ago was a fluke, though.
Your thesis is that there are a shrinking number of cyclists in inner Portland?
No, my thesis is that currently, an influx of disproportionately bikey wealthy in-migrants is counteracting an outflow of disproportionately bikey lower-middle-class, progressive/artsy/whatever longtime Portlanders. But eventually, there won’t be enough working-class longtime Portlanders so it’ll be less-bikey middle-class, upper-middle-class, and upper-class longtime Portlanders that are displaced, and the bikiness of in-migrants will decrease somewhat as you go ever further up the income scale.
I agree with most of that, except for the bit about “bikey”.
My thesis, fresh from the oven, is that the stressed-out mood prevailing on the streets is stomping any marginal improvement in conditions due to infrastructure investments. Result: bike commute share goes sideways, at best.
Median income is up roughly 20% since 2010, this number is way too big to be explained by high earning transplants, so some of the newly better off are surely home grown as well. Overall the region has become a lot richer and has a much tighter labor market so people value their time more. In a tighter labor market people are going to have a lot more incentive to travel further for work since higher wage options are more available, and generally more worth commuting to. I wonder if this is part of the change as well. If all the jobs pay $12 an hour there’s no reason to drive to across town when the closer job will do. When someone is offering you a big raise, driving seems worth it.
I think you’re correct about the Tilikum. Lots of commuters wanted it to work for them, but it puts you so far south of downtown that it’s pretty useless for anyone who doesn’t work at OHSU.
Yeah, plus the connection to points north is much slower, less scenic, and more stresstful than the path by OMSI, so even using the Tilikum as an occasional entertaining detour is not worth it. And the connection to PSU is low-quality, slow, and indirect (no bike facilities on the transit flyover of Naito), so the Tilikum’s potential for increasing PSU’s bike commute rate was squandered. So many missed opportunities.
Tilikum is also such a perfect and ironic example of Portland’s tendency to congratulate itself. And I’m not talking just about it’s being overrated.
It had a huge opening ceremony featuring a huge fireworks display. The display happened in the middle of an air-quality crisis here, when people were being advised to avoid even going outdoors. Fire crews were stretched thin on standby to respond to fires due to dangerously dry conditions. The City’s response was…fireworks?!?
When people questioned the wisdom of electively blowing up fireworks in the midst of a fire danger/air quality crisis, the City’s response was that people with those concerns may want to avoid attending the show.
This doesn’t even get into the irony of celebrating a “green” bridge–whose symbiosis with the river and its salmon and wildlife was constantly paraded about by the City–by exploding poisonous materials that land in the water.
In my opinion, the west side approach to the Tilikum bridge is the best facility in the city. The east side could use some work though, but it does connect nicely to the Clinton bikeway. I’d use the Tilikum more if it wasn’t so damn steep compared to the Hawthorne.
The grade change on the Tilikum is why I continue to use the Hawthorne (since either would work fine for my route).
Every time I’ve used the west side approach coming from downtown, it’s been horribly awkward – the 90 degree swivel you have to do, if waiting for the light, is awful. There isn’t room for more than one bike to wait facing the bridge, and if you stop in the bike lane, people fly by you on both sides. I much prefer the east side, since there’s actually room to wait
Yeah I agree that turn onto the bridge could use some more room. However, I find the path under the MAX viaduct, the crossing of SW Sheridan, and the cycle track along SW Moody to be very safe and comfortable. Why this city spies the build more facilities like that is beyond me.
spies the build => doesn’t build
The Hawthorne counter has been broken for almost a year. I think it was fixed for maybe a week, then broke again. I’ve reported this using the PDX reporter app, however since I still have open items from 2015 (!) I don’t have much hope in getting a response. The perpetually broken Hawthorne counter is a perfect symbol of cycling’s decline in Portland.
Don’t forget gentrification. Rich people own more cars, want more luxury, less [temporary] inconvenience or looking “sweaty”, etc…
Though anecdotal, your stereotype completely contradicts my experience with people in my inner SE neighborhood (and elsewhere).
Yeah, inner Portland may increase its biking mode share as it gets richer due to only those rich people who like the amenities of inner Portland bothering to pay the prices of inner Portland. I am still sad, though, that some poor folks who used to live in inner Portland and use a bike as a way to live larger within a small income are being pushed to places where it’s much less practical and pleasant to bike a lot and live without a car.
Funny how as the city “get’s richer” as you say, none of the infrastructure seems to improve or get fixed. What is the city doing with all those extra tax revenues, and why as our tax base continues to swell every year is the city constantly making budget cuts?
The City’s not getting very much extra tax revenue. The main revenue source for the general fund is property tax, and due to Measure 50, property tax generally doesn’t increase with property value. The City is getting some extra revenue from Systems Development Charges for new development, but restrictive State rules on what those funds can be used for plus, in my guess, some bureaucratic bungling, has led to those funds piling up for years.
There’s been lots of new development, assessed at its full value. That has to be generating something meaningful.
As I pressed “Post” I did think about that point. That is true. But my guess is that most people think at first glance that City revenue would go up in proportion to the total income of all the people in the city, and I’m certain that Portland’s revenue has gone up by much less than that in the past decade.
Sure, but it has certainly gone up, while our infrastructure has (admittedly anecdotally) been declining. Plus, didn’t the city rule that SDC’s can be used for cycling infrastructure? All I ever seen them used for is to “upgrade” traffic signals from hanging wire to steel masts. I’m willing to give PBOT maybe another year to figure out how to use the increase in revenue from HB2017, although my fear is that due to the fungibility of tax revenue, the “dedicated” bike funding becomes the sole source and all the previous funding sources get directed elsewhere, leading to a actual decline in cycling funding. Although word on the street is that Better Naito will be permanent this year and extended south to Lincoln. We shall see if that materializes. After 2018 if PBOT fails to deliver, they will officially be out of excuses.
PBOT doesn’t get much property tax revenue anyway, ever. Most of its revenue is from gas taxes and parking fees. Drive less and PBOT’s revenue falls. On top of everything else, inflation eats into the value of what you get, so revenue has to keep rising faster than inflation. PBOT is a lot like Uber – both are dependent upon non-sustainable business models.
PERS is one big portion of the answer. The police and firefighter retirement funds as well. The amount of unfunded liability faced in this state is horrifying – and there’s no good fix available. Sooner or later someone is going to need to actually attempt to deal with that crisis – unfortunately no one in state government seems to have the spine to do so.
Hey, it’s fun to stereotype people who have money, huh?
Some of us got tired of waiting for Portland to even acknowledge it has problems, and moved away to cities that are willing to dust off what they have from the trash, fix it up, and make it better. So if my bike rolls across the counters again, it’ll probably be with a Tulsa city flag sticker on the fender and a City of Manhattan, Kansas license plate on the plate hanger.
This article’s timing is brilliant, just as I was checking on the status of a land use review for a project I testified about. It was a 77-unit residential project with a total of 17 long-term bike spaces, located in a small room next accessed by a path less than 4′ wide that runs past the garbage room. The project had gone all the way to the point of this final land use review with nobody among the owner, architect, or planning staff realizing and/or seeming to care that this is abysmal (let alone not code-compliant) especially for a project that also has no vehicle parking, is in an area with poor services (no grocery store) and has dwellings so small (micro-units of about 300 sf without even room for full kitchens) that there’s little room for bikes within units.
I’m sure everyone has similar examples of their own of similar bike-related shortcomings here.
Crazy. Hasn’t he seen our pyramid???
“It is a car city that squeezed some bike facilities in. Almost reluctantly, it seems.”
This resonates so much! A very apt and unfortunate description of PBOT. There are so many great individual stretches of bike infrastructure (lanes, greenways, etc) that are not becoming a transportation network because they have dangerous gaps or lack direct, simple and safe connections
That really describes most American cities, but the difference in Portland is that we set the bar even lower than that – who needs to squeeze bike infrastructure onto car-centric streets when you can just paint arrows on side streets?
All one needs to do is look at the local “environmentalists” fighting against mountain biking to understand the problem.
I think the two have nothing in common but please explain your thinking.
Having to drive 60 miles to a mountain biking facility rather than riding to one in town seems to go against the values of environmentalism.
No one HAS to drive to any recreational opportunity. It is a choice.
Not really. People are going to want to participate in recreational activities, especially in a city like Portland that prides itself on access to nature and what not. If giving people options in town rather than far outside it will result in less driving, then pragmatically it makes sense to do so. The buses are unreliable and don’t go to the places people would mountain bike. Your proposal that people just not go mountain biking is a non-solution and is not practical. If people are driving outside of town to ride bikes, then figure out why and come up with a solution that cuts down on that driving. Solutions need to take into account people’s current behaviors rather than trying to dictate what they do.
“Your proposal that people just not go mountain biking is a non-solution and is not practical.”
That was not my proposal. I was simply pushing back against the unimaginative and entitled and I might add rather familiar attitude that posits a right-to-certain-forms-of-recreation, to which I’ve reacted here before.
I absolutely do have a right to my preferred recreation! My efforts to increase coal rolling opportunities in the city have been continuously thwarted by a visionless and spineless city council.
No one has a right to mountain biking but that doesn’t mean people won’t do it. Isn’t it better to react to what people are actually doing instead of arguing that their expectations are unrealistic? Especially when the solutions are relatively easy and there’s already a team of volunteers ready to do the work?
I personally would like to see our society become less car-centric, so I believe that if people are driving somewhere then we should be looking into why they feel the need to drive and implement solutions that give them alternatives to driving.
“I personally would like to see our society become less car-centric, so I believe that if people are driving somewhere then we should be looking into why they feel the need to drive and implement solutions that give them alternatives to driving.”
Yes. I agree.
“No one has a right to mountain biking but that doesn’t mean people won’t do it.”
Above we weren’t I don’t think arguing about whether people will mountain bike, but whether using the argument they’ll do it anyway, and by car if necessary to strong arm city fathers into giving us our recreation locally was a valid argument. That to me is the definition of entitlement and when we are talking recreation (as opposed to transportation) I reject it categorically.
“Isn’t it better to react to what people are actually doing instead of arguing that their expectations are unrealistic?”
I guess we disagree about that.
“Especially when the solutions are relatively easy and there’s already a team of volunteers ready to do the work?”
I think having mountain biking options close in would be great and should be pursued; the obstructionists pilloried and the work should commence. But that to me is different than what I reacted to above: If you don’t then we’ll be forced to drive
Portland doesn’t have to be a bike city either. But if it wants to be one, it needs to have local off-road biking.
Do you think people will actually ride their mountain bikes to access points if Forest Park becomes accessible? Thurman? — maybe? Highway 30 — probably not. I do a 20 mile loop on my cross bike from NE Portland to Saltzman via Willamette then east on Lief. I do it on my mtb sometimes. If I was planning on riding a trail network similar to Phil’s Trail system in Bend, I’d probably drive. The recreational mtber has a limit on how far they’ll ride to the trail head and I believe the proposed access points will be out of that range. We’ll have to have metered parking at the TH’s because there’ll be so many cars…
This is exactly true. The drive will be shorter, but the vision of everyone riding to the trails is pure fancy. If I am wrong, let’s not have parking at the trailheads.
But, by takin away parking — doesn’t that negate equitable access for the hypothetical family of four traveling from Gresham?
It’s not unreasonable to ask the city to build cycling facilities leading to Forest Park if MTB trails get built. Also, MAX isn’t too far and all TriMet buses can fit bikes. It’s a lot easier to convince someone to take their mountain bike on the bus/train for a few miles rather than all the way to Mt Hood or whatever other location outside the city. Even if they drive, it’s still less miles and therefore less impact. Same goes for if some people ride or bus and some drive. I really don’t see any downside to adding mountain bike facilities to Forest Park.
I would! I can’t speak for others, but I suppose it all depends on where you live. Hopefully there would be more access on the east side so people could just ride there. Also, I have ridden to phil’s from bend. It will not be a silver bullet, but it will cut down on car traffic.
But it’s not just forest park. The city should be providing solid off road riding opportunities in all quadrants of the city. Powell Butte, Gateway Green, Forest Park, and Riverview are no brainers to make this happen. Most of the city will be within a 4-5 mile ride of one of those parks.
Did my post say that everyone would start riding to the trailheads if they were 5 miles away instead of 50? Who are you responding to?
I thought you were insinuating that local mtb access would decrease the need to drive to trailheads.
Sure it would. More people would ride to where they ride, but obviously not everybody. And it would reduce the length of the trip (surely driving 10 miles is better than driving 100). And it would encourage more riding from kids. I rarely take my boys mountain biking, because it’s 2 hours in the car for a 1-hour ride on the trail, and it’s not worth it to them.
OK, this discussion has gotten way too all-or-nothing. Of course plenty of people would ride to MTB trailheads if there were MTBing in town. No, a majority might still drive. But (let’s say) 60% is not 100%. Rather than eliminating parking (which, again, would be a result of binary thinking) to keep people from driving there, charge a couple dollars for parking.
And by the way, here in Minneapolis lots of people ride to MTB trailheads. Because we have lots of mountain biking in town. No, not everyone. Plenty of people still drive. But many don’t.
Question answered, and the answer is not binary.
Fascinating discussion – about driving to bike.
Here, it seems, it is ok to make fun of people driving to the gym, but not of people driving to the trails with their bike on a rack.
If there was mountain biking in FP, I would not ride on Cornell, Skyline, or Thompson with my 9-year-old to get there. Go ahead and make fun of me.
I’m not going to make fun of you, you’re sensible Dan A. I think the majority of people who would choose to drive are also sensible people. There’s tens of thousands of people who mountain bike in Portland, but I imagine only a small fraction will actually ride to ride. These people are the individuals employed in the cycling industry: mechanics, sales rep, wheel builders, Chris King, etc. Sure, this is a generalized statement but the reason I hammer on the idea that people won’t ride to ride is the argument is often sold as this saving grace. That if we have local access, all of a sudden everyone will abandon their cars and no longer drive outside the city to recreate. Alas, we’ll be even a greener bike city!
I think local access will do nothing but increase our collective ecological footprint.
It wouldn’t. We are already using it as recreational space. Thinking it would have much of an impact either way is kind of ignorance, tbh.
So is riding a bike on a city street if we are honest with ourselves. Nobody in this town has to ride a bike when you can walk, take transit, or (gasp) drive. Off-road riding, like any recreational opportunity, is just one more facet that makes a place attractive to live and visit. Denver, Salt Lake, Vancouver BC, Richmond, Chattanooga all have trail systems easily accessible without a car and those are just the towns that jump to mind. Why they get it and we don’t is just one more reason why it is a stretch to call Portland “bike friendly”.
Denver and Salt Lake have also built industries around attracting elite athletes to train at altitude. Their local outdoor athletic scene is very different than Portland’s.
Maybe if we build access to FP, they will come.
Queens NY has more singletrack than Portland.
Yea – Portland hasn’t done that at all. I will be sure to let Adidas and Nike know.
Name one ultra marathoner or pro mountain biker sponsored by Adidas or Nike?
Actually, powerful as Nike and Adidas are, neither has been able to bring any distance runners to Portland to train at altitude, either. It’s hard to build a high-altitude training industry in a sea-level city.
You are naming specific sports – and while none may mountain bikers as their dominant sport or running for that matter – that doesn’t mean they don’t mountain bike. Any athlete of any caliber I know does multiple sports.
Great, answered a question by googling the answers. Still, they don’t live or train in Portland. Maybe they would if training was more accessible locally. These are the folks I’d expect to ride 10 miles on their mtb to the trailhead, then ride an additional 30-40 on the trail network. One of the sponsored athletes lives in Flagstaff which is at altitude and probably runs 50 miles from his doorstep. Although, to make a point— you can do that here on Wildwood in Forest Park. Maybe that’s the key, switch from biking to running to get your trail fix…
Well, I have done ultra-endurance mountain bike events and have trained in Forest Park for them. The rate of elevation gain on the fire lanes is significant – it’s just not a real alternative to mountain biking. Also, I don’t need to be a pro-level ultra-endurance athlete to benefit from mountain biking or trail running in FP.
Also, thanks for telling me how I should exercise so I can get around the bs politics in this city. It’s condescending at best and being an outright jerk at worst. Wish there could be more of you.
Ask a silly question…
Oops, I accidentally “liked” your post before realizing you were being condescending. Maybe if we built access to FP we would see more kids enjoying the health benefits of bicycling instead of playing video games because their parents are justifiably too scared to let them play on the road. But that’s ok, they will never be world class athletes so why bother.
Matt, it has nothing to do with attracting “elite athletes”. Portland (like many cities in the west) bills and prides itself on being an “outdoors-y” city.
Ha – yea – they will never be world class athletes, so why bother? Because exercising and being healthy is only for world class athletes. Also, since I have started spending more time in the woods mountain biking, my tendency to approach things with conservation in mind has increased by magnitudes.
All I was saying is that places like Denver and Salt Lake have vibrant outdoor scenes, partly because of the topography. Portland does too, but you have to drive to it. Granting access to Forest Park for mountain bikers would be awesome, but it doesn’t compare to the other cities mentioned in previous threads. Forest Park is amazing for hikers and runners, and would be fine for mtbers considering the other options just an hour or two away… Albeit, FP would be perfect for some who didn’t want to drive super far or wanted to knock out an after work ride to keep in shape.
Also, I’m thinking about our city council and wondering if they use our trail systems in any manner. I know Mayor Wheeler is an active guy, but I don’t know about the rest of the commissioners.
Then I wonder about places like Denver, Salt Lake, Durango, Moab — they may have several members in government that are active on the trails. I imagine they are advocates who push for the community to have diverse local access to the trailheads (hiking, running, mtbing, climbing, etc.).
I wasn’t trying to be condescending earlier in my posts. I was trying to connect how vibrant outdoor scenes have vibrant local trail access. Then I proposed, does Portland have either?
“but you have to drive to it.”
Do we really have to parrot these silly misconceptions, these fossil fuel drenched entitlements?
It is perfectly OK to spend one’s time in other pursuits if the distance or difficulty of getting there without a car makes it out of reach. Let’s remember we’re not talking about someone who’s been priced out of a transit connected apartment near her job, and now has to commute to her job 20 miles across the metro area from and to a place that isn’t served by transit, we’re talking about recreation!
They’re not entitlements if you have to pay for it. It can be quite expensive to spend a weekend in Bend or Oakridge. However, carpooling cuts down on the costs.
“They’re not entitlements”
The way I was using the term – entitlement – was to suggest that people feel they deserve/are owed/are entitled to certain kinds of access, certain flavors of entertainment; and when those are not provided in the manner these people feel they are entitled to be then threats are made, threats such as ‘well then I’ll be forced to drive.’
Does that make sense? Isn’t that a proper use of the term?
I never said anything about forcing some to drive to recreate. I don’t know about you, but no one forces me to leave the city to go mountain biking. I feel lucky that the outdoors are so accessible from Portland.
“but you have to drive to it.” = your words.
Did I misunderstand something?
When I read that I think someone is complaining that things are not lining up as they should, something is amiss, and so to make everything right again they are forced to drive. The implication being that someone else is to blame for this driving.
I don’t think I came off as complaining. Actually, I have no problem with they way things are currently setup and feel very privileged to live in Oregon, specifically Portland.
I don’t know if you, specifically, were complaining or intended to come across that way, and I am happy to take your word for it that you were not. My point was not specific to you at all, but since you used that phrase I’m hung up on I thought it worth pointing out that it can reasonably be interpreted the way I have.
This back and forth is a great example of why Portland is completely overrated as a bike city. Thanks for proving my point!
Ride in town, its great, fun, exciting, and you get to see nature. Ride to where you ride!
Sure – I believe that cycling doesn’t do environmental damage (at the very least, in the context of the city) and that the conservationists/birders/hikers are willing to sacrifice the environment for their desire to have their own private city to hike in. This has a second impact of decreasing the rate of adoption of cycling as both a recreational activity and as transportation activity.
“the conservationists/birders/hikers are willing to sacrifice the environment ”
so many labels.
I was using what the groups self-identify as.
I think this group of users would voluntarily shutoff their own access to keep mtbers out of FP. Meaning, they’d rather see no one use it than share.
I agree – they are extremely aggressive and illogical.
I also think it is highly representative of our NIMBY culture, which can also be seen the rest of the bike access and consistently putting them at the bottom of the food chain – below both walking and cars.
I agree that Portland is overrated as a bike friendly place. Portland’s self view and reputation appear to be based on limited comparisons to to far away places like Beaverton, Gresham and Vancouver (the one in Washington). It is not just the infrastructure, it is the attitude of the cyclists and drivers. In European cities, all kinds of people travel by bike in all kinds of weather and often without any cycling specific infrastructure. I think this is the comparison that Colville-Anderson is making.
He’s right. Both the local governments and bike riders are to blame.
First, the local BOTs and parks departments keep trying to placate the bike interests, business concerns, and transportation industries by throwing a few bones to each in hopes of keeping them quiet for a little while. Claim “VICTORY!!!”, then rinse and repeat. I chuckle every time two blocks of paint or a half mile of MUP in a suburban park gets approved and BTA/Street Trust goes nuts heralding this “major shift in thinking for alternative transportation that we fought for!”. Meanwhile, several commuters get clipped, right hooked, or worse on a daily basis because nothing really changed.
Riders are to blame also. We are too easily satisfied with these infrastructure crumbs, slightly lowered neighborhood speed limits, or candidates that promise bikey things while posing on a bike only to cave to trucking companies and developers once in office. This is where BikePortland and advocacy groups really need to be tougher, IMHO. Hold electeds and bureaucrats accountable rather than celebrating their impotent “cred”. Critically examine infrastructure proposals and projects with an eye towards the true effectiveness of it. Does it create a better environment for thousands of daily commuters and create more commuters? Or is it simply millions spent for a handful of families to lazily pedal cruisers for a mile or so on a warm summer day…in Wilsonville? Does Sunday Parkways really get folks on bikes or is it merely a feel good event involving bikes?
I am of the opinion that the city/counties/Metro have failed to build a true network of bike “freeways” and safe routes that make cycling a viable and attractive alternative to auto use in all weather. They have also failed to protect what assets have been built like the Springwater Corridor to keep it user friendly. Based on personal experience, it is easier to ride around NYC or DC (including the ‘burbs) than the Portland area these days. Portland has lost its mojo but, we riders also have to stop living in the past while conditions stagnate and others pass us by. Demand better!
Fair assessment. Bus Rapid Transit, with dedicated lanes, needs to be a significant part of our transportation future.
Only if people want to ride it.
We used to have this, too! Remember the 91X Forest Grove Express, which ran with packed articulated buses running every 15 minutes from Forest Grove to Downtown Portland, making only six stops west of Sylvan? How about the 57 Forest Grove, running the same packed articulated buses once every 7 minutes all day and half that during rush hour peak direction, on a route people live and work on? They should have kept that when they opened the Blue Line. How about the 12 Tualatin/PDX line? It ran articulated buses from nearly Newberg to Portland International Airport on a similar frequency to the 57 line. I’m sure the eastside had better service even then, but the closure of the heavy hitting crosstown articulated bus lines did more to wreck a barebones but actually livable transit system on the westside than opening a Blue Line through nothing ever made up for.
The peak of bike popularity was a decade ago. Most of those original riders have bought cars and moved. Any attempt to spin that into a criticism of gentrification, the economy, city policy or whatever else is only part of the story.
In my mind, the downfall of Portland cycling was/is the idea that cyclists need facilities. The result is:
– fearful riders
– angry motorists
– spending and planning rife with redundancy
** – I might also propose that the facilities we built could have made cycling more dangerous. Obviously we can’t know what the statistics would have been without the facilities, but the fact that most every cyclist dies in a bike lane should at least be raising concerns.
All riders develop preferred routes over time, but the more unwilling you are to venture off of a bike route, the more complicated every trip gets. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to consult a computer for directions to visit a new location. For example, say it’s 4200 SE Division… somewhere most anyone could find on their own.
I suspect some would use this as a call for more facilities. How much easier would the trip be for most though if we could simply ride with traffic on Division or Chavez?
That’s the whole point. Bike boulevards hardly count as bike facilities in the first place, and are confusing zigzagging routes that rely mostly on paint and good driver behavior. If Portland was serious about cycling, then there would be quality facilities on the same roads that cars and buses get to use – they’re busy streets for a reason as they’re the most direct and have most of the businesses people want to visit. Not creating space for cycling on these streets relegates cyclists to a lower class, as we’re effectively banned from the “main” streets.
But Clicky, JeffS thinks that if Portlanders would just man up, huge numbers of people (well, men, in this testosterone-laden view), would find it perfectly comfortable and pleasant to mix with traffic on high-speed arterials with no bike infrastructure with their toddlers and groceries. How could you possibly disagree?
“The peak of bike popularity was a decade ago.”
I thought the peak was in the 70’s… but as a constantly repopulating planet the peak is all the time…
the demand for bicycles will only grow more in cities as we become too dense to allow large inefficient vehicles…
history easily provides a glimpse of this future… we’re a new country, built on free will with unlimited resources… we can resist only so long before the inevitable catches up and we’re forcing more restrictions on transportation in order to maintain a working society… those stuck with the “good old days” thinking are hindering the progress of those thinking ahead…
bikes have not yet peaked here in the US…
The bike boulevards are designed away from the car-centric streets for a good reason: safety. True, the system needs improvements. But calling them face palm-worthy is not exactly accurate. He does have a point about bike lanes across intersections, though. One of our problems are the NIMBYs who claim that we can’t have MAX or streetcar lines, insisting that freeways must be considered to be the only viable option on the argument that car-centric cities must always be so. Some say that driverless cars will make MAX/streetcar service obsolete in a few years. If the NIMBYs were to take off their goggles and look at what we have and what’s really possible, we actually might get things done. City government’s go slow at all times policy instead of a let’s do it aggressiveness doesn’t help.
I’ don’t think “NIMBYs” are the reason there’s not more MAX or streetcar service. The number of people living along those lines is a tiny percentage of the population–not enough to kill projects that had more general support.
The overwhelming number of people who oppose them are not “NIMBYs”, and they do not oppose them for “NIMBY” reasons, but rather for reasons such as believing that other options (and not just freeways) are more cost effective and flexible.
And if someone really did say, live next to where a light rail line was proposed, I’d have some sympathy for their concerns about noise, privacy, livability, etc. Calling them NIMBYs isn’t productive.
And many people who oppose MAX and/or streetcar expansions absolutely do NOT believe that “freeways must be considered to be the only viable option…”. The region could do just about everything on anyone’s wish list for cycling infrastructure (maybe even adding huge improvements to bus service for that matter) for a fraction of the cost of a new MAX line.
Mike, the bike boulevards are facepalm-worthy because they lack safe, direct connections to destinations and other pieces of bike infrastructure. Many of our greenways are disconnected and isolated and devolve into a contorted maze when a simple connection is needed.
Didn’t you hear? All trails in Portland are now open to bikes. Go ride! Be polite. Smile.
Keep riding, we are harder to ignore if we actually use the trails that are in town.
I’ve been saying this for years. One only needs to look as far as our laws to see it. Safe passing law only applies at above 35mph. Wtf? Almost defeats the purpose. If that doesn’t convince a person we’re overrated take a peek at the west hills. For as much complaining as I’m always hearing about Eastside honestly it’s pretty good and mellow to ride in. When your life dictates that most of your riding is in the west hills, well, let’s just say neither good nor mellow are words that come to mind. And that’s despite literally decades of us flat out begging for even the smallest improvements.
Mikael’s critique is a broad summary of what my spouse and I often say about biking here, especially his disdain for our bread and butter – the bicycle boulevards/neighborhood greenways. I know he was just visiting and may not have seen the big picture but we have lived w/o owning a car in Portland for more than a decade, clocking thousands of miles every year commuting, doing pre-k runs, running
errands and generally using a bike as transport for all the daily needs you would expect of a family with two working parents and I can’t think of a more honest or accurate assement of the city’s biking environment. The proof is out there in the form
of all of our friends, neighbors, family and colleagues that seldom if ever hop on a bike for a grocery trip, doctor visit or school run. And why would they? Most of the comfortable infrastructure does not directly serve these destinations. Its easier and faster in most cases to drive. Some people are faulting him for saying that a few cold/icy days during the holiday season are not a good representation but I disagree, even in the middle of summer if it is outside of the am/pm commute times many of the bikeways are basically ghost towns and you can spend practically an hour on popular commercial streets and see only a handful of people on bikes.
I’m inclined to agree with almost everything you said above, but
“The proof is out there in the form of all of our friends, neighbors, family and colleagues that seldom if ever hop on a bike for a grocery trip, doctor visit or school run.”
I’m not sure all of that can be laid at the feet of PBOT. As Roger Geller once famously put it: “It is still too easy to drive in this town.” This is the US, where gas has been kept artificially cheap for more than a century. I’m not convinced that prioritizing bike infrastructure like some of us would like would accomplish what you see lacking.
Yeah I used to think my dad was crazy for saying gas should be $10 a gallon, but seeing as the externalities are probably at least double the sticker price for oil/gas, we ought to be paying in the range of $7-8 per gallon so he was closer to the mark than the market.
And when we start switching to electric vehicles and the price per mile drops even more what will be the excuse be? The majority just don’t want to bike.
Would you feel differently if his comments were a result of a series of visits and not just one single visit? (Because they are a result of more than one visit)
For what it’s worth, I have two running theories about what’s happened:
1. The Commissioners and Mayor feel like they are spending all their political and actual capital on housing and density issues. They feel like they can’t rock the boat even more by sticking out their necks on big biking infrastructure changes. And they feel like they don’t have the extra money to fund it anyway.
2. Partly because of #1 but also due to a general lack of big-picture thinking and foresight, recent biking “improvements” have been rather lackluster and fail to illicit anything more than a temporary jump in biking. I think of the lost opportunities in the Tilikum bridge connections, the giant mess of competing transportation modes at the Clinton and 11th intersection that was never properly addressed, and the glacial pace of adding diverters to protect the greenways.
I disagree; I don’t think that a single one of our current commissioners cares deeply about improving non-car modes of transportation, deeply enough to really consider making driving less convenient as a necessary cost in order to improve other modes of transportation. I think Eudaly really gets it, but all of her deep caring is currently, perfectly justifiably, wrapped up in the housing crisis. Everybody else ranges from actively opposed (Fritz) to “meh” (Fish, Saltzman) to “I’ll say whatever you want to hear as long as it involves no political or financial cost” (Wheeler).
What makes you think Eudaly “gets it”? Her issue is housing; transportation was something others projected onto her.
Her heartfelt, thoughtful
writing here: https ://bikeportland.org/2016/05/20/comment-of-the-week-candidate-eudaly-on-her-transportation-background-183976
I hope you’re right; the evidence is lacking so far.
Agreed… but assume she DOES get it. What’s the point of her doing anything to push non-car transportation when the rest of Council is Wheeler, Saltzman, Fish, and Fritz?
With a modest proposal and a compelling vision, there’s no reason to think a champion couldn’t prevail.