Welcome to the week.
Here are the most notable items our editors and readers came across in the past seven days…
No mo’ DeFazio: After over three decades in Congress, federal transportation titan Peter DeFazio announced plans to resign, leaving a hole not just in Oregon’s delegation but on the influential House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee which he chairs.
MTB at Silver Falls: Learn about the nonprofit off-road cycling group that has transformed Silver Falls State Park east of Salem into a mountain biking destination. (If Silver Falls can have more bike trails, why can’t Forest Park?)
The Musk con: A federal investigation is looking into the extent to which Tesla’s Elon Musk pushed his “autopilot” technology despite its shortcomings and safety risks.
Where’d the bikers go? The owner of Cartlandia food cart pod on the Springwater Corridor path and SE 82nd, laments the loss of business as bicycle riders — who used to make up a large portion of their business — have “disappeared”.
Beyond adaptive bikes: Portland has committed to adaptive bikes, but what about going one step further like San Diego and San Francisco have gone with Bird’s new electric wheelchairs?
Bike share works: Even though New York City’s bike share system has over 24,000 bikes, this NY Times article says it still struggles to meet user demand (by comparison, Portland’s system has about 1,000 bikes).
Don’t forget e-bikes: The Oregonian delved into the role electric vehicles can play in our transportation future and I shared my concerns that so far, the State and its major EV advocacy group are focused too much on EV cars while EV bikes offer vast potential.
What we don’t know: That saying about the value of measuring something if you want it to matter seems to be very relevant with e-bike sales statistics, and until the industry figures this out, their potential will be limited.
Transportation options: In our Video of the Week, City Nerd analyzes biking, driving and bus taking to find out which mode comes out on top on a variety of key metrics
Thanks to everyone who shared links with us this week!
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Where’s PBOT’s hand wringing over the inequity and climate impact of losing the safest bike route into the city from one of the remotest reaches of E Portland? Sad.
I stopped riding that section last year after I had someone swing a large axe at me.
Rode through last week and there was a group of three “advocates” handing out needles to residents along the path. With that kind of behavior, I wouldn’t anticipate anything improving for a long time. Of course, it is weird that as soon as you cross into Gresham, there is none of that.
Beyond that, it is even worse that the Springwater is still a walk in the park when compared to the hellscape that is the 205 path.
Providing clean needles is a public health necessity. It’s a bummer that people are living with addiction and that they live on the springwater path. But the answer is not to create a public health crisis out of fear and spite.
Using proper sanitation while using the restroom is critical to life such as washing hands among other things. Then again, as a society we don’t endorse people to relieve themselves next to bike trails by providing wash basins with soaps soap.
That is in locations other than Portland we don’t encourage relieving outdoors….
*sigh* this is why Portland was once great and now failing because we can’t make a judgement on human behavior instead we have to excuse poor behavior and lose public space because of it. Case in point.
In the early tens the Hawthorne Fred Meyer bike parking was often 50-66% full on a nice summer weekend day. These days it often has zero-2 bikes on a nice summer weekend. When a starter home costs a million dollars and a decent 1 bedroom apartment $1800+/month it’s no surprise that parking lots are stuffed with luxury SUVs and that bike racks are mostly empty.
Where have all the “bikers” gone?
Many have been economically displaced out of the Portland metro area and many have moved from the neighborhoods that were major feeders into the Springwater trail to more distant metro area neighborhoods.
It’s more than than that; I know many people who’ve lived here for decades and ride less than they used to. Many people on this forum have described riding less often themselves. There’s been a culture shift.
As people age they tend to ride less for transportation (and to be less enamored with subcultural fads) so this is hardly unexpected. Moreover, as inner city areas become increasingly expensive existing younger residents are priced out and newer residents tend to skew older/wealthier. For example, in the “zeroes” many of my new neighbors tended to be young idealistic people who often moved to the Portland area without a job lined up. In stark contrast, most of my newer neighbors now are older people who are either retired or in their prime working years (40-65).
I stopped bike commuting right before the pandemic and missed it every day. Portland has become more and more dangerous and we have the receipts to prove it.
Perhaps its less about getting older and more about becoming risk adverse? If you go to a city that actually values bikes like Eugene, you see plenty of older people riding.
Portland simply isn’t a safe place to ride a bicycle and our declining bike mode share is indicative of that.
Census ACS mode share went from ~7% to ~5% from 2014 to 2019 so the downward trend has been ongoing for years.
The SUV-centric demographic that has increasingly moved to Portland has likely played a major role in this increased perception of risk. We’ve added tens of thousands of additional intimidating-by-design SUVs resulting in more close calls, more people giving up on transportation cycling, and a synergistic decrease in the “safety in numbers” effect.
I do think a greater car-centrism among newer arrivals is part of the culture shift I perceive.
I’ve lived here since 1994, and I’m 62. Changes in our city have made me feel more vulnerable. I did groceries by bike, until I came out of Freddies and found my bike “stripped.” Cheap rear blinky light, pannier, seat (quick release adjust), gone. I came out of NSM-7 corners to find someone trying to cut my lock. I’m taking the car now. We used to go to Cartlandia by bike, but the harassment and (one time) knife threat, made us not want to ride that stretch. We take a what we perceive as a safer route to CORE now.
It’s more than displacement. I will walk to Freddy’s Hawthorne. I will not park my bike there, too many thefts even though there are staff walking around. I don’t know the answer, I just know I’m not going to risk parking my bike. It’s pretty sad.
Personally, I go to Cartlandia less because I dislike its physical setup. I would love if they kept car access on either end and not allow cars to drive through.
Bird is renting electric wheelchairs to augment the electric scooter bidness… It turns out Wall-E really WAS a documentary from the future.
About the video: I believe the CO2 emissions of riding the bus are way overstated. Most of those emissions would happen even if the rider stayed home. And I am not entirely convinced that people eat more after a light-to-moderate ride (I don’t notice my appetite changing during periods when I ride less). It may be that both bus* and bikes are even better environmentally than stated.
*While I am utterly convinced that taking the bus makes environmental sense for an individual, I am a lot less sold on the idea that a bus system itself makes sense energy-wise, especially in times/areas of low ridership.
Unless you believe bikes are energy-creating perpetual motion machines the additional glucose and glycogen used by muscle fibers comes from food calories.
This is the baseline and is completely irrelevant to this question. Watts is arguing that riding a bike burns no additional calories in aggregate. It’s also a bizarre argument to make from a bike enthusiast perspective given that cycling still produces less CO2e than driving, transit, or walking.
I hope that some day cycling enthusiasts will stop denying the first law of thermodynamics
Where did Watts say riding a bike burns no additional calories in aggregate?
That’s not the same as saying riding a bike burns no additional calories in aggregate.
“people” is plural so yes it actually does say this. moreover, this conversation was never about what one idiosyncratic person eats during some arbitrary narrow slice of time* but rather about the basic biophysics that underpins measurement of agriculture-based GHG emissions.
Thanks for underlining my point and the point of analysis/research that ascribes some quite modest CO2e emissions to transportation cycling.
Whether Watts was referring to one person or everyone is irrelevant to whether Watts’s words meant what you claimed.
No — Watts is arguing that light to moderate riding may not cause you to eat more on a practical level.
This may be particularly true given that “meals” tend to come in units, and we tend to eat (or discard) them in round numbers. I rarely eat 95% of a meal, leaving a spoonful in the pot because I didn’t ride that day. Even if I were less hungry, I’d probably eat the remaining bits anyway because they were there.
I really enjoy eating brown short grain rice. As a rice enthusiast, I could also claim that “on a practical level” eating a bowl of rice is not associated with increased CO2e emissions but this does not make this a reality-based statement when it comes to assessing population level emissions.
PS: I’ve been trying to cut reduce my consumption of rice and to switch to rice that is not grown using flooded fields.
If you cooked less rice on days you didn’t ride, your comment might be relevant. That growing rice emits higher levels of CO2 than other crops isn’t.
For me, I generally cook one scoop of rice per person because my cooker is well calibrated that way and it usually makes an appropriate amount. Or someone cooks for me without intimate knowledge of my appetite. I eat my portion unless there is enough to save, which there usually isn’t.
You may lead a more calibrated life, but for me (and my family, and most people I know in this regard) transportation riding or other light-to-moderate exercise does not impact food consumption. It’s essentially “free” along that dimension.
And in my household, we follow the First Law.
I give up.
Nothing I do has any impact on ecocide or the “environment” so please don’t project this kind of logic on my choices.
Sorry, Soren, you’ve completely and utterly missed my point in this thread. “Calibration” was in no way a reference to environmental impact.
I don’t eat meals in round units. 1 have 1 “meal” a day – a modest dinner. I have at work several foods that I portion out at home and bring in to eat over the course of the day. (I actually prepare all my work food, which is everything but dinner, all at one time on Sunday and portion it out.)
I eat distinctly less when I’m not riding (I spent 3 weeks at the beginning of the summer sidelined due to injury – and by the end of that time I was eating about 2/3rds of the food I brought to work).
I eat distinctly more when my riding goes way up (there was a period at the beginning of the pandemic when I rode every day the full 40 mile round trip for 10 straight weeks – after the first couple of weeks I began running out of my preplanned food with several hours left in the day and had to increase the amount I brought).
However, this isn’t an instant thing – I don’t get hungry because I rode 20miles this morning. I get hungry because I rode 150miles last week. Likewise my appetite takes a couple of weeks to drop when riding decreases.
Why is there less bike traffic on the Springwater? Maybe because the city of Portland has given up. Lot’s of great places have become sketchy. NE 33rd. Marine Dr. 205 path. Springwater. Sigh
In the Forums last week:
Saw this post 11-28/21. Big fire on Springwater along with explosions and possible gunfire.
Between SE 128th and SE 136th.
Stay safe. Probably best to avoid this section of the Springwater.
Yet another big fire behind my home along the spring water corridor trail. Today the homeless people living behind my home along the spring water corridor trail started another huge fire. First we heard two explosions. Then there were flames and billowing black smoke. We called 911 and the fire dept was dispatched. While waiting I heard what sounded like gun shots. I called 911 again to let them know and was informed that police would not be dispatched because it was political decision and they had to take orders from the city in regards to anything related to the homeless. I asked “even if there is gunfire from them feet from my home and toddler?” I was told yes their hands are tied and it is a political issue.
Do you ride the Springwater in this section?
I haven’t heard such a thing directly from PPB, but I also have no reason to doubt that a 911 operator told this to a caller, even if that caller subsequently described the conversation on NextDoor.
ROH main point about the safety of that section is valid, and not based on hearsay. I don’t doubt that some disgruntled 911 operator told the caller that story. Obviously it isn’t true, but the end result is the same.
I would be astounded if either of my dispatcher friends made statements at all like that in personal chit-chat, let alone on a professional call, and I have certainly never been told anything resembling such policy statements when I’ve spoken with various dispatch centers for a variety of reasons. They know they are being recorded, and they have extensive and continuing training and review on their communications.
Shoots. too bad CM DeFazio is throwing in the towel for Oregon …and just when there is traction on mobility and $.
Bird + Shared eWheelchairs = smart! This is the fastest way to get productive mobility tech into the hands of users with less local barriers (versus just bro-tech)…via the Federal ADA law. Now what would be really interesting is if a ‘ADA challenged city’ (defined as any city >30 years to complete its ADA POWA project list) were to issue ‘all’ appropriate residents and visitors with this free mobility tool while funding it by savings from avoiding most curb ramp construction and paratransit. [It would make an interesting case with the Access Board or Circuit Court.]
PS. My statement assumes the Bird eWheelchair can mount traditional curbs without ramps…if not then this trial balloon idea may have to wait for more of an all-terrain model.