The Monday Roundup: Cheap gas, expensive life lessons, ‘woonerf’ life and more

Posted by on May 28th, 2019 at 11:02 am


Welcome to the week. Yes, I realize it’s Tuesday; but that doesn’t diminish our need to share the best stories from the past week. We cull the web and social medias so you don’t have you. Thanks to all the readers who flag stories for us.

Here’s what you need to know…

This week’s Roundup brought to you by Treo Bike Tours. Check out their all-inclusive bike vacations in eastern Oregon.

Bikes in flight: This is big: As of May 21st, American Airlines no longer charges a $150 oversized baggage fee for bicycles. Check Bicycling for an updated roundup of airline bike baggage fees.

Mending a bike and a human spirit: Street Roots’ executive director shared the story of her partly-stolen bike, the person who apologized for the deed, and the people who helped get it rolling again.

Encouraging fossil fuel use: Oregon State Senator Brian Boquist has floated the idea of cutting the gas tax from 34 to 18 cents as a way to offset increased energy costs that might result from the legislature’s “Clean Energy Jobs Bill”.

Quick demos work: Oh look, a bike lane project in a downtown area is non-controversial and will now be expanded because Seattle’s DOT approached with the tried-and-true ‘Better Block’ method.

Power to cite: Fascinated by this Washington D.C. bill that would allow people to issue parking tickets for some violations.

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State of the scooters: OPB delved into concerns from disability rights advocates about how PBOT is handling complaints about scooters and their users in pilot 2.0.

Right turn on red is evil: A San Francisco city councilperson has moved forward the possibility of banning right turns on red, citing the need to do something to move the needle on their march toward Vision Zero.

Law breakers: Latest episode of The War on Cars podcast takes on the heated topic of traffic laws and the behavior of bicycle riders (and includes a shout-out to our story on Idaho Stop).

Value of life lessons: Lance Armstrong says the lessons he’s learned going “from hero to zero” are so valuable he wouldn’t change a thing about the gargantuan doping scandal that now defines him.

Pack my bags: I want to visit New York City just to check out this exhibit about bicycling’s cultural impact currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York.

Video of the Week: Dream a little dream and learn what life is like on a Dutch “woonerf” street thanks to Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson who just returned from The Netherlands

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

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

58 Comments
  • Avatar
    GlowBoy May 28, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Re: Airline bike fees. I agree with the Bicycling story that Alaska is the best carrier for cyclists. Although I’ve been keeping a bike in Portland the last couple years, I have flown with bikes a couple of times on Alaska, and it was wonderful not to pay any extra fees. As opposed to Delta, with whom I took a bike once. Somehow, with a second checked bag, I ended up paid over $200 in baggage fees – one way.

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      9watts May 29, 2019 at 7:11 am

      I am well aware that this is an unpopular thing to point out here in these pages, but we need to phase out flying, get used to the post fossil fuel era, not exalt ways to cheaply take our bike with us on airlines.
      #leaveitintheground

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        Eli May 29, 2019 at 8:32 am

        It’s actually discouraging to see, as a Seattle resident.

        SDOT (and their staff) craves validation and recognition – but without actually doing the work to deserve it. Organizations like PeopleforBikes only further this, by giving meaningless awards for infrastructure that’s dangerous for all road users and doesn’t comply with NACTO or other standards, but looks good in glamour photos (e.g. the westlake trail built in an alternative universe where a 10 mph design speed is reality-based).

        Giving SDOT praise for things they haven’t actually accomplished is inappropriate, even as a typo.

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        Middle of The Road Guy May 29, 2019 at 10:36 am

        I’m gonna travel as much as I can, while I can.

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          9watts May 29, 2019 at 11:04 am

          Après moi, le déluge, eh?

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        Jon May 29, 2019 at 11:23 am

        Since having one child is the equivalent of something like 10 transatlantic airplane flights per year when it comes to global warming emissions and my wife and I decided not to have children I think I’ll continue to fly with a clear conscience.

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          9watts May 29, 2019 at 11:25 am

          This is exactly the kind of clear-eyed thinking we need. Thank you!

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          9watts May 29, 2019 at 11:26 am

          Oops. I didn’t read your last sentence.

          Never mind.

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    GlowBoy May 28, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Glad to see Bellevue (WA) catching up on bike lanes. NE 108th will be another good bike corridor, completing a solid connection to Seattle. If these lanes had existed (not to mention the fact that there is actually a bike path on the 520 bridge now) when I lived in Seattle and worked in Bellevue, I certainly would have used them. Decades too late for me, but glad to see it happening.

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      GlowBoy May 28, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      By the way, the above blurb about Bellevue bike lanes is incorrect in attributing the change to Seattle DOT. Bellevue is not in Seattle. As people in both Bellevue and Seattle will emphatically tell you.

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        John Lascurettes May 28, 2019 at 12:58 pm

        Jonathan probably mean “in Seattle” in the way that most people say Nike is in Portland. 😀

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          Chris I May 28, 2019 at 1:38 pm

          Nike isn’t even in Beaverton, technically.

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          GlowBoy June 1, 2019 at 12:47 pm

          But he didn’t say “in Seattle,” he said “Seattle’s DOT”.

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        Q May 29, 2019 at 8:15 am

        Completely different DOT and neither seattle nor bellevue have anything in their process called “better block”. Are the writers for this blog just making things up or has fact checking gone that far out the window?

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          paikiala May 29, 2019 at 10:04 am

          It’s one main writer, with guest writers. Oh look, something Portland does (testing ideas) and gets criticized for not being aggressive enough…

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            Q May 29, 2019 at 10:09 am

            It’s a group of people claiming to be journalists failing to get basic facts correct. What are you arguing, or are just arguing for internet’s sake?

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      Andrew Kreps May 28, 2019 at 5:59 pm

      “Average daily bike ridership increased by 35%.”

      Now we’re talking.

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        David Hampsten May 29, 2019 at 1:21 am

        Apparently scooters don’t exist in Bellevue. None were counted nor observed. Only bicycles:

        Page 23 of the Assessment Report:
        BACKGROUND
        Bellevue launched a dockless bike share pilot on July 31, 2018—the same day as the opening of the demonstration bikeway on 108th Ave NE. The electric-assisted bicycles are available for use citywide, with the greatest density of bikes available in Downtown. Between 100 and 400 bicycles were available citywide during the first six months of the pilot, growing steadily from launch through November and then declining during the winter months less favorable to bicycling. Of the 27,905 trips taken during the first six months, more than 55 percent began in Downtown Bellevue (15,607), just over 50 percent ended in Downtown (14,162), and almost 40 percent both started and ended within Downtown (10,990).

        If you subtract the impact of the bikeshare increase, there was no significant net increase in bicycle commute trips from the new facility.

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    bikeninja May 28, 2019 at 11:49 am

    The only thing good about this reduced gas tax idea is that this “strategic” thinker from Dallas doesn’t seem to realize that the bulk of the proceeds from this tax go to building and fixing up the roads his “cheap gas” buddies drive on. So gas might be a bit cheaper but the roads will fall apart quicker hastening the end of happy motoring. It seems that most of the ideas that the “viva auto” crowd has had the last few years to squeeze a few more years out of the private motoring lifestyle are counterproductive. From endless wars in the middle east to the financial and environmental disaster of shale oil they keep trying to keep the plates spinning a little longer.

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    GlowBoy May 28, 2019 at 11:54 am

    re: San Francisco banning right turns on red at many intersections … this will do no good unless it is consistently enforced.

    Here in Minneapolis we have a large number of intersections with RTOR bans. Basically any intersection with a significant collision history involving right-turning vehicles has a No Turn on Red sign. Although some drivers observe the prohibition, which of course also stops the cars queued behind them from breaking the law, it is still ignored by a lot of drivers.

    In my experience a lot of the conflicts between pedestrians and cars turning right on red occur because the driver pulls into the intersection expecting to make a normal turn, not even treating the intersection as having a stop sign, let alone a red light. This is illegal in every jurisdiction I know of: vehicles turning right on red are required to stop first, before the normal stop line, prior to making their turn. If police enforced this one simple aspect of existing law, a lot of these pedestrian injuries and fatalities would go away.

    And before you even say it, yes I realize police can’t be there to enforce the law all the time. But in my experience, they don’t need to. All it takes is for police to enforce the law consistently when they are present, and drivers get the message, and herd mentality gets most of the rest of them to comply. I’ve witnessed a sea change in St. Paul drivers’ behavior in a short time. When I moved here 4 years ago, drivers in St. Paul were like everywhere else in this metro area when it came to pedestrians and crosswalks: they didn’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks at all. But then police started enforcing the law, mostly at marked crosswalks but also at enough implied crosswalks that drivers got that message too. And now, if you enter a crosswalk in St. Paul you have at least as much of a chance of drivers stopping as you do in Portland, which is a huge improvement. And in our dual-core metro area we have the perfect control group: Minneapolis, where there has been no such enforcement emphasis, and where drivers will still blithely power through a crosswalk while you stand on the curb with your arms in the air. Even if you have kids with you.

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      John Lascurettes May 28, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      It’s a sign that is almost universally ignored if even ever seen by most drivers.

      I’ve pointed out the No Turn On Red sign at northbound NE 16th at Multnomah to drivers that start turning on it a lot. I’ve been thanked by a couple that haven’t even noticed it. And then there was a guy two weeks ago that said, “F¨ck you, I live in this neighborhood” as if that gave him permission. I told him I live in the neighborhood too. I also see it multiple times per week ignored at westbound Morrison and Grand, despite the green lane, the bike box, and the No Turn On Red sign.

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      Al May 28, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      No right turn on red is very enforceable when right turns on red are simply not allowed. Period. Not at this or that intersection or under this or that circumstance. Just not allowed everywhere. Right turn on red as a rule does not belong in urban driving. Europe treats it this way. Right turn on red is not allowed there unless a specific intersection has signage or lights allowing it which is rare actually.

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        AB May 28, 2019 at 4:58 pm

        I believe the right turn on red allowance was put into place during the oil crisis, to reduce the amount of idling vehicles, and has only been selectively repealed. NYC is one notable example. It has become so ingrained into the average driver’s habits that people take it for granted. Just like any other stop sign, most people roll right past the line and only come to a complete stop if there is cross traffic present. Briefly slowing to 6 mph before gunning it doesn’t really count as a stop but I guess laws are for squares anyway.

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          Q May 29, 2019 at 8:37 am

          And to bring up or just make up when someone on a bike is present..

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    Sheilagh Griffin May 28, 2019 at 11:58 am

    On the E-Scooters, it seems it would be fairly simple to create an app for identifying a scooter when it passes and you cannot see the scooter ID#. They all have tracking devices, right?

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      Johnny Bye Carter May 28, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      All you need is a time and place. A direction can also help. The scooter companies know who it was.

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    Tim May 28, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    The Dutch street video shows what happens when we follow human rules where a driver in a $40,000 car follows the same rules as the kid on a scooter. Notice how the cyclists follow similar unwritten rules. Most of the riders move at the same pace and passing is rare. The one thing I don’t understand is the European affinity for cobblestone bike lanes.

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      USbike May 30, 2019 at 4:54 am

      The bike lanes and cycle paths are almost never in cobblestone. But many streets in towns and cities usually are. The reason is partly for aesthetics of the street, which in my opinion almost always looks much better than asphalt. Brick paving is also very common here in the Netherlands, and there are all kinds of designs and varying degrees of smoothness. The newer ones tend to be as smooth as asphalt. An advantage of the brick especially, is that when road works need to be done, it’s much easier to open up the street and then also to put it back together. This is done so well here that after a few weeks, when the new sand has been blown or washed away, you can’t even tell that they had just down some digging there. But even with the meticulous nature of Dutch infrastructure construction, with asphalt there’s no way to hide this unless the entire pavement is redone.

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    Middle of the Road Guy May 28, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    But if a motorist is going to pay roughly half of what they were in state gas taxes, it kind of takes away the “I pay muh fair share” argument.

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      Al May 28, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      Are you trying to reason with Boquist? Because if you are, then you will need to write him checks bigger than Oregon loggers and truckers!

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      Dan A May 28, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      The “I pay muh fair share” argument doesn’t hold water anyway, and where has that gotten us besides a new bike tax?

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        Middle of the Road Guy May 28, 2019 at 3:47 pm

        The reality is that we all pay differing amounts towards infrastructure depending upon our fuel usage and incomes.

        Whenever I hear the “I pay my fair share” statement I ask them “how much is that exactly?”

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          Middle of the Road Guy May 28, 2019 at 3:57 pm

          And property taxes.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty May 28, 2019 at 4:00 pm

          The truth is some of pay less than our “fair share”, and some pay more, just as with any other governmental service. I have no idea how to sort out who is who, especially if you vary the definition of “fair”.

          Some who claim to pay their “fair share” are very likely correct.

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            Middle of the Road Guy May 28, 2019 at 8:39 pm

            But they can’t prove how much it is because a “fair share” is really more of a moral concept – which I think is one reason why people have such an emotional reaction to cyclists who are perceived as somehow cheating the system.

            Ironically, someone who drives a lot, makes a lot of money and owns several properties may indeed be paying more into the system than the cyclist use. There are always outliers.

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              9watts May 29, 2019 at 7:41 am

              “But they can’t prove how much it is because a “fair share” is really more of a moral concept – which I think is one reason why people have such an emotional reaction to cyclists who are perceived as somehow cheating the system.”

              Not necessarily. It is not hard to tally up the lifecycle costs (as well as we understand them) of various approaches to mobility. Dividing this by miles covered and you get a $/mi figure. For someone in a car this will be several, or many, $/mi.; for a bike it is vanishingly small or even negative if, as some would, you’d posit driving as the default choice.

              “Ironically, someone who drives a lot, makes a lot of money and owns several properties may indeed be paying more into the system than the cyclist use. There are always outliers.”

              You should show your math. This is a fun idea to throw out, and you have suggested this before, but I’d like to see your numbers. My hunch is that driving is socially, environmentally, economically, militarily so costly that no amount of fee structure under consideration or ownership profile in today’s US will cover those costs.
              Which means that the arguments in this thread to which you are responding are mostly spot on: those who drive underpay for the services they get, the costs their driving represents to all of us.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 29, 2019 at 10:06 am

                “Fair share” could also reasonably be defined as total expenditure / number of beneficiaries. With that definition, unless we are all paying the same, someone is obviously paying more.

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                9watts May 29, 2019 at 10:46 am

                Given the quite evident collective shortfall/underpayment this is not a useful line of reasoning. Just as an example, the German gov’t takes in three times the amount they need to build and maintain a world class transportation system through taxes and fees on fuel and private motor cars. We here in the US, by contrast, have an infrastructure that regularly gets grades like C-, D, and even Fs on occasion. And this is just the system itself, the infrastructure, never mind the costs of police, hospitals, courts, morgues, the deterioration of soils, waterways, the atmosphere, cost of military misadventures to secure access to our oil which somehow ended up under their sand, etc.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 29, 2019 at 11:03 am

                Whether we are under or over investing in our transportation system is an independent question. I also don’t think most people would agree that hospitals and the morgue are part of transportation.

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                9watts May 29, 2019 at 11:09 am

                Independent?

                Let us say that we, bikeportland readers, collectively own a business, a badly failing business. We all invested various amounts, but collectively the investment falls far short of what is needed to keep the business going. You are now telling us that if all of us paid the same amount, equalized our inadequate contributions, that this would represent our fair share?! Fair to whom? Over what time horizon? And if that is fair what would you call contributing the (larger, necessary) amount that actually delivered the goods?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 29, 2019 at 11:38 am

                I’m not following you down a rabbit hole of analogies. When someone says they’re paying more than their share, they mean they’re paying more than other people. And some who make that claim probably are. You can define your terms differently than everyone else, and get a different answer, but it is unlikely to persuade.

                This is my last post on this topic.

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            9watts May 29, 2019 at 7:44 am

            “Some who claim to pay their “fair share” are very likely correct”

            Especially if they are not behind the wheel.
            If you are suggesting that someone behind the wheel is accurately claiming to pay his or her fair share I invite you to show the math.

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              Q May 29, 2019 at 8:17 am

              He just can’t take it that some of us are actually subsidizing his automobile use. Sad.

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                Middle of The Road Guy May 29, 2019 at 10:40 am

                I assume you are referring to me. You really have no idea how much I drive, do you? Just like you have no idea how much I might be paying into the system through income and property taxes and subsidizing you.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 29, 2019 at 10:01 am

              I am claiming that some people who also drive pay more than their share of building and maintaining the roads, and some pay less. To demonstrate that mathematically would depend on having a generally accepted mathematical definition of “fair share”. If I had that, I’d also have a Nobel.

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                Middle of The Road Guy May 29, 2019 at 10:42 am

                And that’s kind of my point. It’s a moral concept and most people believe they are morally superior. Just look at the comments from the cyclists here – they act like they are special.

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                9watts May 29, 2019 at 10:49 am

                No Nobel required.

                fair share implies that if everyone contributed at that level, things would be in good nick. No one pays that share in this country. We are running multiple, overlapping, and unsustainable deficits.

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                9watts May 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

                “It’s a moral concept and most people believe they are morally superior.”

                I don’t see any need to blow moral smoke into this discussion. It is not at all hard in principle to calculate what it would cost to mitigate the damage done by and through our transportation system. Let us say $1 trillion/yr (obviously a placeholder #). Divide by the number of people, and develop mode-specific coefficients (foot, bike, e-scooter, train, bus, car) and do some division. Voila!

                In my back of the envelope calculation no one who drives is paying the share corresponding to the *total* known costs their driving exacts on the planet and society. If you know otherwise please show your math.
                Biking and walking on the other hand exact virtually no costs on society. Measurable yes (shoes, chain lube, brake pads) but tiddlywinks all things considered.

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    Johnny Bye Carter May 28, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Power to cite: I’ve been wanting to change our “citizen citation” law (ORS 153.058) so that the named defendant is assumed to be the owner when a driver is not present. This would allow us to cite for parking violations. I think it’d turn into my full time job.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty May 28, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Be careful — one mistake, and you could become known as Crosswalk Carter.

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      bikeninja May 28, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      If I could get a small commission for writing citizen citations for motorists who park the wrong direction on the side of the street I could quit my day job forever, and retire early.

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        Middle of the Road Guy May 28, 2019 at 3:48 pm

        we are in rare agreement! But I’d write them just because it offends my sense of order.

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    mark smith May 28, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    re: woonorf – Portland could have tons of these. But…you know…Amanda Fritz.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty May 28, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      Seriously???

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      Chris Anderson May 29, 2019 at 6:10 am

      We have a few Woonerf like streets, and a policy to allow neighborhoods to choose them. But not much outreach educating people that they can do something like this: https://bikeportland.org/2017/04/21/how-i-worked-with-pbot-to-build-a-play-street-in-my-neighborhood-225869

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      paikiala May 29, 2019 at 10:16 am

      There are clear pathways to establishing a woonerf anywhere in Oregon.
      A narrow residential roadway – 2-way travel width <=18 feet – can be posted for 15 mph (statute).
      State law permits roadways designated for bike use to be posted 5 mph below the statutory speed limit.
      Path:
      1. residence district
      2. 2-way street
      3. travel way (area vehicles move on) <= 18 feet
      4. street designated for bike use
      5. intestinal fortitude

      It's not really a parks issue, but may be an elected official matter of willingness issue.

      Narrowing existing uncurbed streets to 16-18 feet, perhaps with a valley gutter, would be sufficient. Defining the 'travel way' on a curbed street, a stripe on the road, change in pavement in the non-travel space, curb extensions, might be needed.

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        q May 30, 2019 at 9:58 pm

        SW Miles Place near Willamette Park, which is also part of the Willamette River Greenway, has been “woonerf-like” for years–there are no sidewalks, the street is narrow, and people biking and walking far outnumber cars. When the street was rebuilt during the Sellwood Bridge project, it almost lost that character. It kept it because the neighborhood’s residents, plus others interested in walking and cycling, fought hard against the two groups that were dead set against keeping it that way–PBOT and the County. Both of those agencies pushed hard for separation of modes. They claimed no scheme could be approved that didn’t include building sidewalks. “Working” with PBOT on that was like working with a 1950s Robert Moses.

        The “highlight” of the process was when neighbors and a cycling advocate from The Netherlands were both pushing PBOT to forego the idea of sidewalks. PBOT’s staffperson said, “You’ve got to realize we can’t please both of you–we can’t give each side what they want.” Almost the whole room answered, “But we all want the same thing!”

        Fortunately, PBOT and the County came around, and things ended up pretty well, although not as well as they could have, and only after a lot of clashing and money wasting that could have been avoided.

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