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Weekly News Roundup: Local Focus, Oslo’s big zero, and more

Posted by on January 8th, 2020 at 5:29 am

(Note: This is your Monday Roundup for the week. It’s a few days late because, well, I’m still in Mexico on vacation at the moment so I haven’t been on a regular work schedule. Back in the office Thursday!)

This week’s roundup is brought to you by Endurance Physical Therapy + Bike Fit Studio (2323 N Williams Ave) who reminds us that it’s the perfect time of year to work out those kinks in your form.

Here are the most noteworthy items the BikePortland community has come across in the past week or so…

Local Focus

ODOT hires: As expected, Oregon DOT has made major hires for three new offices. One of them, the Office of Urban Mobility and Mega Project Delivery, will be tasked with completing the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project, the I-205 and Abernethy Bridge Project, and “active development of a tolling and congestion pricing program to meet the region’s immediate needs.” Its Director is Brendan Finn, a former chief of staff for Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, one-time City Council candidate, and current transportation policy advisor to Governor Kate Brown. Finn starts March 1st.

What’s wrong on Hogan Ave? Two young people have been killed in just two weeks within a block of each other on SE Hogan Road in Gresham. On December 24th 17-year-old Jayden Auberry died in a collision while biking at SE 4th and Hogan. Then on Monday, 11-year Luis Medina was killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light at SE 5th and Hogan.

I-5 Rose Quarter update: After reporting that the I-5 expansion at the Rose Quarter could cost up to $795 million, Willamette Week asked ODOT officials to explain how their initial estimate of $450 million was so off-base. Oh, and OTC Chair Robert Van Brocklin knew about — yet never disclosed — the higher cost estimate weeks before a major meeting on the project.


3 feet law in WA: Our neighbors to the north and perennially-ranked #1 bike-friendly state of Washington, now have a much more effective passing law in the books. It’s better than Oregon’s because it applies to all vulnerable road users and includes a stipulation that drivers must move one lane over when there are two or more lanes in the same direction.

Another city ponders carfree future: The old city of York in the U.K. says public opinion about climate change is one reason they’ve proposed to eliminate “non-essential” car use in their central city.

Bike more this year: If you need inspiration to put more miles on your bike in 2020, don’t miss Barb Chamberlain’s great list of ways to challenge yourself.

E-bikes FTW: I don’t think we talk enough about the fact that electric bikes have the potential to have a greater impact on our city’s mobility challenges than just about anything else — if only we’d give riders the space they need.

More lanes = more traffic: New York spent $4 billion on the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the new lanes have — surprise surprise! — attracted even more traffic!

Distracted lawmaking: Remember that highly publicized “distracted walking” law in Honolulu that went into effect two years ago? 232 people have been cited so far but it hasn’t made an impact on fatalities.

Language matters: Because you know we love this topic, here’s the latest “crash not accident” story.

Vision Zero in NYC: The NY Times takes a closer look at why the Big Apple is still failing to rein in traffic deaths.

Vision Zero in Oslo: The capital of Norway with a similar population to Portland had zero traffic deaths involving vulnerable road users in 2019. Zero. Key to their approach has been a major restriction of parking and auto use in their city center.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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El BicicleroHello, Kitty9wattsResopmokMiddle of the Road Guy Recent comment authors
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There are several things wrong with that section of Hogan and I now feel guilty for not formally bringing this up with the city of Gresham.

One is that the light on 5th sees a high rate of red light crossings by drivers. Another is that while the speed limit doesn’t change south of Powell, for some reason drivers act like it does. The speed limit doesn’t actually change from 35 to 45 for at least another mile further south! The speed limit on Hogan between Division and Palmquist should actually be 30 due to the complex nature of Hogan on that stretch! Another is that there is a lot of pedestrian traffic here and for lack of sidewalks, people walk in the bike lanes. Another is that drivers swerve into the bike lanes to go around left turning traffic. I have personally witnessed very close near misses like this there both biking and driving that section.

Some of these have very simple solutions, like lowering the speed limit and enforcing it as well as adding red light cameras on 5th and Palmquist. Others, like building out the sidewalk infrastructure and perhaps putting in a center turn lane are more complicated.


In the More Lanes = More Traffic link for the added lanes on the Tappen Zee Bridge the article mentions the cost difference between taking the TZB vs the George Washington Bridge of $32 vs ~$100. There are other tolls involved when cutting through New York city and most people know to avoid the city if at all possible. So when one heads to upstate New York or New England the Tappen Zee is the way to go if you don’t want to pay more bridge and road tolls. So while adding more lanes did add more traffic, the traffic was there to begin with.

A few more comments:

The bridge toll for a car is currently $15 for any of the bridges/tunnels that cut through New York City. One doesn’t drive through the city unless there is a good reason to.
I recently visited the New York City area for a week. Transportation costs to make a round trip into the city are almost $30 per person irregardless of the method. If anything driving to use the Staten Island ferry works out to be the cheapest as the cost is then split between the occupants of the vehicle as the ferry ride is free. Sort of like going into Portland, Its cheaper for a family to drive in and use a smart park garage then to use public transit.

Avoiding tolls is a well known past time in the north east. You pay a toll when it saves you time, but if you’re going to sit in traffic anyway why pay a toll.


Hogan/242nd/238th is the connector between i-84 and 26 for those going to Mt Hood or Bend. It would be better if there were a dedicated expressway connecting those two highways, but I know this idea will get no support here.

I would like the majority of surface streets to be optimized for pedestrians, cyclists and buses, as I don’t think the car should be the preferred mode for local transport. That said, this position is fully consistent with advocating a small number of expressways, highways and arterials optimized for cars travelling a longer distance.


“3 feet law in WA: Our neighbors to the north and perennially-ranked #1 bike-friendly state of Washington, now have a much more effective passing law in the books. It’s better than Oregon’s because it applies to all vulnerable road users and includes a stipulation that drivers must move one lane over when there are two or more lanes in the same direction.”

Oregon has a super majority in the house and senate and governor. We could pass any legislation that we want. We could have all of the protections that WA has. We could have the budget that we need to build out the 2030 bicycle mast plan and more. We could stop highway expansion and induced demand. We could do what Oslo and others are doing to work towards Vision Zero.

But the Dems don’t want that. We could have ranked choice voting (like Maine) or other more just voting rules. Dems don’t want that either.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty

RE Tappan Zee attracting new traffic:

Hardly a surprise. As the article notes “the new bridge has attracted more traffic, especially among trucks who see the bridge as a less-expensive option than other Hudson crossings”. It’s a better, cheaper crossing, so of course people are going to use it over less better, less cheaper options, which, consequently, now have less traffic on them, which is probably a good thing for them.

The interesting question is whether it “induced” additional traffic that wasn’t already in the system. That is, do people now drive (or use trucks) that didn’t before, and does the value of these new trips (or commerce) outweigh their cost?


Ebikes are amazing. I was very down on them for the longest time. I’ve changed my mind on them though. Imagine, as a commuter who works downtown and wants to get to a gym at SE 60th and Lincoln for a 5:30 class. On an analogue bike, I would have to leave the office at 4:45 at the latest. I’d arrive around 5:05 and that gives me enough time to lock up, change and catch my breath. All while being a few minutes early to the actual class. On an ebike, I could leave at 5:00 and arrive to lock up at 5:10. Really, if you have time constraints that make you ditch a bike some days, think about what an ebike would make possible. I’ve been asked, “isn’t that cheating?” To which I say, “I can go farther, faster for the same effort.” And never mind that a purist could say most of modern bike engineering is cheating. From multiple gears to super light materials, cheating really is relative. Unless you get a class 2 ebike, that’s defiantly cheating.


“Feb. 7, 2020: Winter Bike to Work Day. Always the first Friday in February.”

Not to be cancelled for any reason.

Thanks Barb!


Toby Keith
I’m all for them (e-bikes). I just hate getting passed so damn fast and close without so much as a “on your left” and this is even on sidewalks like Going coming off Swan Island.

I really, really try not to attribute my interactions with others out there as ‘cycling while female’, but in the past 4 months of riding my e-bike I seem to have more ‘can’t win’ interactions with other cyclists in this regard. If I ring my bell, it seems like I frequently get some snide comment about either going to fast and/or some weird push back noise (this morning I rang at a person on a bike who ran the red light at Clinton/12th — I was on 12th — just so they knew I was coming at them because they didn’t look & they made a snide comment at me). If I don’t ring my bell (and I try to only do this in situations where there is LOTS of passing room), people either lecture me about calling out my passes (last time was on a road where I was in the middle of the lane and the person lecturing me was well off to the right) or else they also lecture me again about going to fast. And I’m not out there riding 30 mph — I am generally in the < 20mph category regularly, even with e-assist.

So, from the other side of the fence, maybe lets cut each other some slack out there, ok? But I do hear what you're saying and WILL remember how much quieter I am on the e-bike and act accordingly re: bell ringing. Pushback aside.

David Hampsten

York is a smaller city in the UK with a population of around 200,000 – more like Eugene in size, similar to Cambridge or Oxford in size. It’s both very touristy and full of students, with loads of history. (It was founded in 70 AD as a major Roman legion military base, the glorious 9th, and 3 emperors were subsequently “made” there, unlike dowdy old London). It’s also incredibly bike and pedestrian friendly – one of my all-time favorite places to visit in Europe. In the inner part of the city, you can walk in most city streets without having to worry about cars passing – the car drivers themselves are only allowed to go at about 10 mph, so they avoid the area.

When I last visited York in 2012, they had already banned bicyclists from the pedestrian shopping zone in the very center of that most ancient city, south of the Minster (the cathedral in the picture), as the area was too congested with pedestrians. At the time, York was second only to Cambridge in terms of bicycle use towards total VMT (over 25% at that time.) Already by then cars were not exactly banned from the medieval core (the larger area within the still intact walkable city walls), but there were so many traffic diverters and speed controls that any car foolish enough to venture there was going to be moving awfully slow to get anywhere. Plus the streets are super narrow, not really wide enough for opposing cars to pass each other except in short spots. No onstreet parking of course. (It has to be noted that the sidewalks are not ADA, not even close.)

The entire “public transport” system is privately owned and operated both there and in most of the UK, which is hard for most Americans to wrap their heads around. Buses (coaches) that both serve the city, those that serve rural areas, and the intercity services are all operated by competing commercial companies, usually subsidized. Same with the numerous trains connecting to the city (York has always been a major railroad junction – it even has an incredible railroad museum.) It’s about 2 hours by fast train to London on the express.

However, what I found most interesting and relevant to Portland about York was that the city required freight shippers making deliveries to the inner city to transfer their loads to smaller trucks, effectively restricting big semis (or lorries as they are called there) to the outer suburbs.


“cycling purists”


this is so triggering, I cannot

El Biciclero
El Biciclero

Is “analog” really the opposite of “electric”?