Taking stock of BikePortland

BikePortland Crew clockwise from the top: My cat Tito, Co-owner Mike Perham, Reporter Taylor Griggs, me, Family Biking Columnist Shannon Johnson, Asst Editor Lisa Caballero.

In this last week of 2022, I’m taking time to reflect and figure out where things stand with BikePortland (and to finally clear my inbox, so if you get a months-old message from me, that’s why). I’ll start with reflections and an update on the business, and then share a more newsy, year-in-review-type post separately.

Here goes…

It’s hard for me to comprehend that we are about to embark on our 18th year in business. I was 30 years old when I started doing this work and now I’m close to 50. My oldest daughter was just two when BikePortland launched, and now she’s in her second year of college! I think about these timeframes a lot. They fill me with ambivalence and a sense of urgency.

Like every year, 2022 was a roller coaster as we pedaled the ups-and-downs that come with running a local news business that’s closely hitched to the community it covers. Taylor Griggs, Lisa Caballero, and I learned invaluable lessons about how best to host a productive daily conversation among friends and strangers in an ideologically divided community while covering sensitive topics. It takes a tremendous amount of care to balance our roles as objective reporters, community moderators, passionate activists, and personal acquaintances/friends to many of the sources we regularly call on — and that work seems to get more fraught with each passing year.

Personally, I feel like I’ve slowed down in some areas, and sped up in others. After a chronic knee issue flared up just over two years ago, I’ve all but abandoned the extremely time-consuming riding and racing habit I had for many years. That tectonic lifestyle shift gave me more time to focus on other things (it’s freeing to not care about being in top shape and riding every day). And while I don’t cover the community with the same amount of energy I had in our first decade, I bring a different type of energy to the job these days. When it comes to creating stories and content, I feel like I’m using a scalpel now, instead of a machete — if that makes any sense. My bullshit filter is finely honed and my hunches and nose for news have more years of experience behind them. While that gives me confidence, my challenge is to stay creative, keep a fresh perspective, and stay connected to our evolving and always-younger community so BikePortland can produce information people want and need.

While I like to say, “We focus on what’s vital, not viral,” we also can’t be boring or no one will pay attention.

Speaking of paying attention, BikePortland is as strong as ever reach and impact-wise. We had roughly 1.7 million visitors to our site in the past year and we reached an estimated 14.4 million on social media. We currently have around 60,000 followers across five social media platforms including TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Not bad for a little “bike blog” (laughing emoji).

Here’s how our production ended up (keep in mind I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity — especially when it comes to content):

  • 937 Front Page posts
  • 30,500 site comments (estimated, doesn’t include social media comments)
  • 15 podcast episodes
  • 83 social media videos
  • 47 YouTube videos

I’m still in the process of testing out different platforms and types of content and I suspect that will continue into the coming year. While I believe we must meet people where they are, we have a limited capacity to create content that meets my expectations, so we might pull back from some platforms and invest more in others. (I’m also increasingly wary of supporting platforms run by governments or people who don’t share basic democratic values.)

And as our recent server attack illustrated, we are still working to update our backend code and processes to handle this beastly site. WordPress-powered sites are known to be hogs on server resources, and one with 26,000 posts and 520,000 comments even more so. In 2023 you’ll see more big changes to our home page design, but the changes you won’t see (like database and server upgrades) will likely make the largest impact to your reading.

All this is to say that 2023 will be the most important year in BikePortland’s history. We will need to adapt and change more than ever before in order to meet our revenue and creative goals. It won’t be easy and we will need your financial support to do it. But it will be so worth it! With your help, we’ve created something very special: Our very own bike-centric news source that often gets the same respect as other, larger and less niche-oriented, local news outlets.

BikePortland is of, by, and for the community. It’s “citizen journalism” in its purest form. We are accountable only to you, we are here to amplify your voices, and you are the ones who can decide what our future holds.

Thanks to every one of our 417 paid subscribers, our dedicated advertisers, and generous financial supporters for another year. We can’t wait to get started on the next one.

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Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
1 month ago

Great post, and I am excited to see what updates you have in mind for 2023. I’m glad to be a subscriber. This is the news website I read over breakfast every morning, because the cycling community (both online and in-person) is my favorite lens to view where I live. I’ve been reading Jonathan’s coverage of the Portland bike community since he was Just Riding Along, and what he has built with Bike Portland is admirable and unique. 

A question and suggestion. What’s the plan for the forum? In the last year, it has been taken over by tfcandiit and their echo chamber of cowardly negativity. I say cowardly, because they hide behind anonymous usernames and empty nihilistic talking points. Hiding behind avatars (and, likely, having more than one account to boost their own contributions) seems like it fosters the opposite of what the forum could be – a tool for community building.

Can we either shut down the forum or, if the goal is to build community, require people to use their real names? 

Requiring real names would further distinguish the forum from the comments section of the front page. Not only would it make calls for transparency and fair leadership of Bike Portland more sincere (it’s hard to take you seriously when I don’t know whether you actually have any skin in the game), such a change would also encourage the forum to build community. You’d be able to go from an online discussion to a Pedalpalooza ride and know who you’re meeting up with.

I wonder how much of the petty drama would continue if all users were required to use their real names. Bike Portland (including the forum) is a different sort of social media. While the online disinhibition effect still applies to social media where people must use their real names, it’s worse when users think that they can hide behind anonymity.

Further, I imagine that that cloak of anonymity is at least part of the reason for the suspicion that has sometimes been cast on users of the forum. As long as our politics (national and local) is in a protracted panic phase, I am in favor of shining more sunlight in forums where anonymous users stir up trouble. If you can’t say what you think and stand behind your name, then there’s always Twitter. 

Thanks again Jonathan and Team Bike Portland. You’re doing an amazing job. 

rainbike
rainbike
1 month ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

Jane Doe agrees. As does Bonhomme Richard and Mother Teresa.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

As one of the few people who always use their real full name, I should agree that comments should only come from users who use their real full name, but in fact I don’t. I firmly think we should be discussing or attacking ideas and opinions, not the people making them. Even when I entirely disagree with them, I thoroughly enjoy reading the ideas and discussions of soren, watts, and others – including “pbarron”.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I agree with everyone saying pseudonyms allow people to speak more freely, and that that’s a benefit. But I REALLY agree with you about the value of their putting the focus on the opinion vs. the person. In fact, it could be interesting to see what happens (maybe as an experiment for one article) if even the pseudonyms were dropped, so you just saw the opinion. I’m sure there’d be a lot of “How do I know if I like this opinion if I don’t know who wrote it?” and “What if I like it but qqq wrote it?” going on.

One thing I especially dislike in discussions (here or anywhere) are the “what are your qualifications?” and “leave it to the experts, which I am and you’re not” attitudes, and pseudonyms help reduce that.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

I have no problem with pseudonyms, which allow some people to be able to say what they otherwise could not say – like the opera singer from CAKE, who “sing[s] what can’t be said.”

But I do have a problem with “swoop and poop” commenters who create a username and dump on everyone and then disappear. I’d like to hear more about what Jonathan and BP are doing about that type of commenter. Seems to me as though every user profile should need to build up some level of trust within the community before being allowed to comment without moderation, though I hear that *every* comment is now moderated, which creates other headaches (time for Disqus??).

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Fred

Hi Fred, I hear you about “swoop and poop” commenters, I think of them as pigeon shit comments–sorry, but it’s like you are sitting on a park bench, minding your own business, and BOOM, there you are . . . but we receive fewer and fewer of that type of comment, moderation seems to have discouraged them.

Every comment is moderated. And I have sometimes trashed comments from frequent commenters–everyone writes a clunker once in a while, so I think moderation is good for everyone.

Most comments can be quickly approved. What wastes my time is one- or two-line comments that don’t appear to be insulting or offensive on the face, but which require me to go into the thread and view them in context. That takes time, and it gets annoying if someone repeatedly does it.

I encourage people to pull their thoughts together–yes expose yourself a little–and write four or five sentences. Otherwise, negative short takes on what everyone else is writing can be a way of harassing people who have made some effort.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Phillip Barron

Thank you for the heads up about the Forum. Phillip.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

What does it really do to you if others have an opinion that differs from yours? Nobody forces you to participate. Many do not feel safe giving personal information especially on this forum.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Dave

Dave, Phillip is talking about The Forum section of the website, which is different from the comments on the posts.

People have many good reasons to remain anonymous as commenters, and yes, giving out personal information on internet can come back to bite you.

But using your real name can improve the quality of what you write, I’ve noticed, or at least clean it up a bit. I’ll engage in a level of, let’s call it flamboyance, when anonymous that I won’t do under my own name.

My two rules of thumb with internet are: 1) if you would be uncomfortable seeing it on the front page if the NYT don’t put it on a network, including email and text, and 2) don’t reveal anything that some future worst enemy could assemble into a dossier on you. In the intimacy of a buried conversation in a thread, people reveal small things about themselves—those can add up to a lot of information.

 
 
1 month ago

Do I agree with everything BikePortland has published over the past year? Absolutely not, and I think it’s clear that Jonathan et al have their blindspots like every human does.

Do I see BikePortland as an effective and useful source for transportation-related news and opinion that may not be published by other news outlets? Absolutely yes, and I commend Jonathan et al for the work they’ve put into making BP an important news source for issues that aren’t well-covered by other news sources in the Portland metro area.

These two viewpoints are not mutually exclusive. It is patently impossible for a single source to be completely unbiased; we should all be getting our news from a wide variety of sources, of which BikePortland is one of many.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

I have really enjoyed your podcasts and would appreciate hearing more of them. If you could figure out a way to get closer to a weekly podcast, you’d benefit from the rhythm and regularity that podcasts afford. Thanks.

PNWPhotoWalks
PNWPhotoWalks
1 month ago

Congratulations on 18 years, Jonathan! After a one-year lapse, I’m glad that I returned to BikePortland as a subscriber. Although I hung up my cleats a decade ago, I’m here because I don’t think anyone in the Portland metro region does a better job covering regional active and public transportation matters than you do.

I’ll make an early New Year’s Day wish that you and your team are successful for many more years to come.

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
1 month ago

What’s your general take on the comments section? Many media outlets have turned off comments section; including The Oregonian and KPVT news.

Revenue?
Revenue?
1 month ago

Thanks for the post, your decades of hard work, and the great website. You should be proud.

But in the spirit of the community and transparency that you daily demonstrate you value, please provide a little more information. Is revenue up or down this year? Are you financially sustainable? Why did you choose the business route instead of a non-profit? I think the answers could help you and your readers. Thanks again.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that for an enterprise to be sustainable, it must be profitable. This even holds true for non-profits.

hamiramani
hamiramani
1 month ago

For me, Portland wouldn’t be the same without BikePortland! Big thanks to you all for keeping the populace informed and holding the powers that be accountable. Here’s to another 18+ years!

Tom G Standley
Tom G Standley
1 month ago

I think the biggest shift BikePortland has undergone recently is from a pro-bicycling blog to an advocacy platform for extreme social justice politics.

You’ve advocated for destruction of personal property, harassment of other road users and the near total surrender of public property to abusers.

I don’t know how else to put this but: you’ve lost your way and the feedback should make that obvious. You say your “bullshit filter” is “finely honed”– no, it’s more blunt than ever.

Just my two cents.

BikeRound
BikeRound
1 month ago

There are two problems with this approach. One, a public policy advocacy organization can only be effective if it is narrowly focused on one specific issue. The reason for that is that in order to be successful an interest group has to present one unified front, and that can only be achieved if the membership is wholly united around one central public policy goal.  

Two, while working to make the world a more fair and just place is to be applauded, the greatest philosophers and political thinkers in history are not going to necessarily agree how we can go about doing that. Just to bring up one example, ancient Greek thinkers were already debating the morality of abortion. There is nothing wrong with having one’s own opinion about controversial issues, but none of us is omniscient, and we have to contemplate our own shortcomings.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

This is a really bad (and counterproductive) thing to want from a news blog. BikePortland is of course a biking advocacy site, but how on earth would you propose they cover issues of road safety when hundreds of our fellow cyclists are being killed each year by reckless drivers? Or how should they talk about the housing crisis when homeless camps spring up on our MUP network? It would be weird and impossible to focus so narrowly on “just cycling” – most of the things discussed on this site are cycling related but involve much more

And you just are not correct in saying that people who wish to promote a specific policy need a laser focused front. Nothing works that way, not in the real world today, not historically – not ever. Politics are messy, mass movements even messier, and what is the “united front” that a cycling advocate should present? Who decides that – and when?

bjorn
bjorn
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

bike portland is a news organization not a public policy advocacy organization.

Andrew N
Andrew N
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom G Standley

“Extreme social justice”. Hard not to chuckle. Keep up the good work, Jonathan, it sounds like you’re getting under the skin of just the right people.

Matt K
Matt K
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew N

“just the right people”…who is that?! Those who pay taxes? Those who follow rules? Those who want safe, clean communities? Those awful people? Maus seems to support just the opposite that’s for sure.

Middle of the road guy
Middle of the road guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew N

Extremism seldom ends well.

Amit Zinman
1 month ago

The people who call out social justice advocates are typically the privileged ones. They put everything that makes them uncomfortable in the “extreme” bracket.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom G Standley

I frequently disagree with Maus, but the idea that this website has advocated for ‘extreme’ anything is cutely absurd.

Not everything you disagree with is a ‘extreme’ viewpoint. BikePortland is, if anything, to engaged with the status quo of PBOT/ODOT committees and a lack of direct action.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

BP is definitely engaged with the status quo in transportation but has also functioned as a booster for the soul-crushingly unequal housing status quo and has been far, far too respectful of Portland’s crypto-fascistic police.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

We have to be able to hold opposing ideas in our heads, at the same time:

The police force can have – does have – bad actors. But it also has good actors – caring, selfless officers who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.

And while Officer Weber is giving out tickets to downtown riders who don’t use the right-hand bike lane to make a left-hand turn, there is a motorcycle cop stopping speeding drivers and unlicensed vehicles on SW Multnomah Blvd (yes, really – saw him again just the other day).

We cyclists should support a revitalized PPB traffic unit b/c they help to keep motorists from running amok. The “ACAB” rhetoric isn’t helping anyone – the world is more nuanced than that.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

The police force can have – does have – bad actors.

IMO, the fundamental role of the police in the USA is to protect and shelter rich people (and their corporations) from the “have nots”. If one believes that functioning as a thug for the rich is “bad”, than all cops are bad.

the world is more nuanced than that.

Only an economically secure person would have this kind of blasé attitude. For poor people and POC the police are often not “nuanced” at all.

We cyclists should support a revitalized PPB traffic unit b/c they help to keep motorists from running amok.

This is wishful thinking. To prevent motorists from running amok, we need a culture change that no longer accepts aggressive driving and CAR-nage* as normal. The car-headed USAnian police are a barrier to this cultural change, ATMO.

In fact, a recent comprehensive study found that police traffic stops do not reduce serious crashes but are correlated with racist targeting of black people by the police.

comment image

comment image

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2021/07/14/study-police-stops-dont-stop-car-crashes/

*SUV-nage these days.

BikeRound
BikeRound
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

If in your view the fundamental role of police is to protect and shelter rich people, then by your own admission you are advocating for a Marxist revolution. No amount of police reform is going to satisfy your goals That’s your prerogative, but I would like to think that somehow we Americans can have a viable advocacy organization in favor of better biking policy without having to become communists. Do you think we can be successful as an interest group if we advocate neo-communism? This is why we should be somewhat narrowly focused. You can join the communist party if you wish, but here on BikePortland we should be all about biking.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

If in your view the fundamental role of police is to protect and shelter rich people, then by your own admission you are advocating for a Marxist revolution.

A belief that the police protect rich people but not so much poor people.??????Advocating for Marxist revolution.
What’s step 2, BikeRound?

It’s also darkly comical that you believe Marxists are anti-police when virtually all Marxist states, including the one my family fled from, were repressive police states.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

That’s a bit of a leap isn’t it? Talking about how police exist largely to protect wealthy land-owning property rights interest is hardly advocating for a Marxist revolution. Sure, it’s got a strong anti-capitalist lean to it, but saying “oh we can’t do that, it’s communist” isn’t really refuting the point. You’re just invoking a boogeyman.

And issues involving traffic and road safety directly effect biking. How would you advocate for safer cycling conditions without a discussion about road safety for all users?

BikeRound
BikeRound
1 month ago
Reply to  blumdrew

No, there is no leap here. Believing that the police exist to protect rich people and their corporations from the have-nots (soren’s exact words) is classic Marxist ideology. This is a direct attack on our economic and social system, and not merely something that could be addressed by fine-tuning the policies of a police department. This is saying that fundamentally the system is flawed. This is saying that there are two classes of people and the police exist to serve the interests of the upper class, the people that are exploiting the proletariat. This is Marxist thinking down to the exact phraseology.

I am all for discussions about the safety of all road users, which is why I have written extensively on this topic. But road safety would be about things like the design of intersections, huge increases in the use of speed bumps and speed tables, stricter enforcement of traffic laws, and similar things, and not about a communist revolution.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

This is saying that fundamentally the system is flawed.

You have me pegged, BikeRound.
You can report me here:
https://www.dhs.gov/see-something-say-something/how-to-report-suspicious-activity

This is saying that there are two classes of people and the police exist to serve the interests of the upper class, the people that are exploiting the proletariat.

The only person who has mentioned the “proleteriat” here is BikeRound. Perhaps a diet of conservative media has caused you to see “Marxists” everywhere…

I accept sociological research indicating that the USA is a multi-class society. One example from the University of Michigan NORC General Social Survey:

comment image

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

It just plainly is a leap from “laws are enforced inequitably by police at a systematic level” to “communist revolution”. People can take some aspects of socialist ideologies without becoming Vladimir Lenin. Things aren’t wrong just because Karl Marx wrote about them. You still are just invoking a communism boogeyman without refuting any of the actual points being made.

And how do you propose to enact the policies you have written so extensively about? I mean I’d agree that roadway design is very important, and that traffic enforcement (preferably automated) is needed. But ultimately, these are just addressing symptoms of a larger road safety issue that is more philosophical than engineering. The bigger issue is ending the cycle of car dependency and re-thinking roads to be public spaces and this is something that can’t be engineered into existence, it’s a social movement. A revolution, if you will.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  BikeRound

But every single road safety strategy that you support involves government action and government spending. None involve personal responsibility or private action. That is classic Socialist ideology. That is a direct attack on our economic and social system. It is saying that fundamentally our system is flawed.

If in your view the fundamental solution to road safety is government action, then by your own admission you are advocating for a Socialist revolution. No amount of private action or spending is going to satisfy your goals.

Of course I don’t believe any of that, but it makes no less sense than your equating Soren’s views being Marxist.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

We cyclists should support a revitalized PPB traffic unit b/c they help to keep motorists from running amok. The “ACAB” rhetoric isn’t helping anyone – the world is more nuanced than that.

The same PPB that opposed making speed cameras easier to implement because they want to traffic enforcement to a money making activity for their members?

Cops are some of the most car-brained people in the country. I’d wager $1000 that half of PPB officers and at least 75% of the male cops drive brodozer trucks.

Cops don’t care about our safety on the street and looking to them as the primary way to create safe streets is massive waste of time and money.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

“Cops don’t care about our safety on the street”

*Citation needed

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

No problem

https://www.wweek.com/news/2021/03/14/police-unions-will-oppose-changing-law-to-allow-civilians-to-review-fixed-speed-camera-tickets/

You can’t claim to care about safety while actively lobbying against the most effective tool we have to achieve it, solely because you want to get paid to do it less efficiently.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I don’t know if you have ever been in a union, but I have, and I found my union didn’t represent me very well nor did it address the full spectrum of beliefs that I as a person held. It would be a bit like claiming that the views of Donald Trump when he was president represented you because you were American.

You’ll have to do a lot more work if you want to convince me that union efforts to protect police benefits have anything at all to do with how police feel about the safety of the public.

You and Soren can hash out whether automated enforcement is more effective than building safer streets for reducing injuries and deaths.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I don’t know if you have ever been in a union, but I have, and I found my union didn’t represent me very well nor did it address the full spectrum of beliefs that I as a person held.

They aren’t required to be in the union.

You’ll have to do a lot more work if you want to convince me that union efforts to protect police benefits have anything at all to do with how police feel about the safety of the public.

Nothing could convince you of that because you need to believe that police are good despite the mountains of evidence that they aren’t. Ive given you evidence that the police are opposed to common sense safety measures. Why don’t you provide some evidence (literally evidence) of a single PPB officer caring about road safety. I didn’t see any articles from PPB officers advocating for speed cameras, have you?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I know a PPB officer who is very concerned with road safety. What sort of evidence do you want? A signed affidavit? Have you ever actually talked to a cop in a non-professional setting?

you need to believe that police are good despite the mountains of evidence that they aren’t.

I don’t believe cops are more “good” or “bad” than any other group of people. They are just that — people — and your claim to have some special understanding about their individual views on road safety based on a position taken by their union is simply not credible.

I also can’t imagine that the union’s position on who should review speed camera data is something most union members have ever even considered.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I know a PPB officer who is very concerned with road safety. What sort of evidence do you want? A signed affidavit?

Like PBOT is ‘concerned’ with road safety?

Have you ever actually talked to a cop in a non-professional setting?

In the past I’ve had friends who were cops actually. The good people quit and the friends who stayed cops became overtly racist and hateful and I had to part ways with them. It really is a toxic culture that pretty much destroys the people who engage in it.

I don’t believe cops are more “good” or “bad” than any other group of people. They are just that — people —

Cops are not a random cross section of society. They are people who looked at the system of mass incarceration and racism and said “I want in on that”. They are extremely conservative and frequently part of hate groups outside of their day job.

Hundreds of them received a presentation with white supremacist memes about beating citizens, not a one said a thing. *** Portion of comment deleted by moderator.***

I also can’t imagine that the union’s position on who should review speed camera data is something most union members have ever even considered.

Thats a problem then itself.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Since you are clearly not open to the idea that police officers are actual human beings rather than a collection of hateful stereotypes, this link is for others who are interested in how some of them think about the issues of the day:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/01/03/opinion/law-enforcement-focus-group.html

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Since you are clearly not open to the idea that police officers are actual human beings rather than a collection of hateful stereotypes, this link is for others who are interested in how some of them think about the issues of the day:

I’ll believe it when I see it. I regularly see cops speeding for no reason, driving and playing on their phones and computers while driving, driving without their lights on in dark/rain conditions, failing to yield to pedestrians.

Wont these good cops please stand up? Where are they advocating for better road infrastructure. These fabled ‘good cops’ always live in peoples ancetdotes while the police as an organization are one of the biggest barriers to road safety.

I actually know a guy whose cop brother in law got his little brother out of a roll-over DUI by showing up and talking to his fellow cops . Is that road safety?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

That some police exhibit this sort of low level corruption doesn’t undermine the humanity of everyone engaged in the profession. Like the cop in the NYT piece said, given 8 officers, two will be excellent, two will be bad, and 4 will be average.

Policing is a human institution filled with the normal spectrum of humans. I don’t know why you would expect anything different. You won’t make things better by furthering the dehumanizing us-vs-them narrative that feeds many of the issues you mention.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

*too

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I don’t know what constitutes “extreme”, but three things that have stuck with me over the (recent) years have been the consistent advocacy against traffic enforcement (even in the face of an alarming number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths), support for folks driving on MUPs (so long as the do so in a “chill” manner), and the scolding of “armchair planners” who had the audacity to challenge PBOT’s removal of traffic calming on NE 7th.

While I find each of these positions “extreme” (for a cycling advocate), I also need to weigh them against a much larger corpus of reasonable positions. I also don’t think it is my place to judge others (except bike theives who I will judge harshly).

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

consistent advocacy against traffic enforcement (even in the face of an alarming number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths)

You write as if the link between enforcement and traffic violence is causal when the most comprehensive study in the USA indicates that there is no discernible association between enforcement and reductions in serious injury crashes. At the same time there is enormous evidence that the systemic infrastructure changes at the heart of Vision Zero effectively reduce serious injury crashes.

Too often, people defend current police traffic practices based on supposed ‘evidence’ of effectiveness, but these are often small-scale analyses that do not show lasting effect of improved traffic safety,” said Leah Shahum, founder and director of the Vision Zero Network. “This new study exposes those shortcomings and looks at national-scale data to determine that state traffic-patrol stops are not effective in improving traffic safety.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2021/07/14/study-police-stops-dont-stop-car-crashes/

And the authors of this study recommend policy changes that mirror those of vision zero (a policy that has been proven to greatly reduce serious injury crashes).

“Given the magnitude of public-health crisis related to injuries and deaths sustained by [motor vehicle crashes], directing scarce resources to effective strategies such as rural and urban infrastructural changes, motor-vehicle modifications with advanced lifesaving technology, community-based safety initiatives, improved access to health care, or prioritizing trauma system and improved trauma care is imperative…”

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

I support infrastructure changes to improve safety. I support automated enforcement (with the proper privacy protective legal framework). I support in person traffic enforcement.

Don’t think we have the luxury of choosing only one approach. The situation is so dire we need all hands on deck.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I support automated enforcement as long as it does not disproportionately target marginalized communities. This would be very easy to avoid but given this city’s track record I expect any additional automated enforcement to be clustered in marginalized communities.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  soren

Happy new year Soren!

Here’s a dilemma. I haven’t looked at the maps for a while, but what I remember is that high crash corridors associate closely with low income areas. So much so that I have often wondered if real estate/rent prices could be used as a very granular proxy for road safety.

I’m not saying that driving behavior associates with wealth, I’m saying that given the choice that money allows, people choose not to live on or near dangerous roads.

Currently the speed cameras are placed on high crash corridors.

soren
soren
1 month ago

I hope you have a Happy New year too, Lisa.

Currently the speed cameras are placed on high crash corridors.

Speed cameras are not expensive*. This city could easily afford to install speed cameras in a geographically equitable manner. The laughably slow roll out of speed cameras is just another example of PBOT’s dysfunction and lack of accountability.

*Especially so if cameras are rotated through a larger number of boxes.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  soren

Geographically equitable would be amazing, or even a hybrid between geography and safety. But that is not how the prioritization formulas work right now.

Soren, you might find it interesting to look at some of the formulas the city, and maybe the state too, use to prioritize road segments for improvements. I’ve only had one semester of linear algebra and even I can spot the problems. Much mathiness.

soren
soren
1 month ago

But that is not how the prioritization formulas work right now.

The fact that we only install 1 of these every few years is what requires “prioritization”. There is absolutely no reason that we could not 1) fund a department that would monitor and maintain cameras and 2) install many dozens of cameras each year. The inequity is a choice.

$7,300
https://www.lightcast-store.com/Radar-Speed-Photo-Enforcement-Camera-DVR-02-p/lradar-cam-02.htm

~$2500
Rugged laptop with a 4g/5g card that allows upload of data to central server.

~$3500
Boxes, pole hardware, and wiring

~$2000
Labor costs for installation

Total:

~$15,000

Installation of 500 cameras in ~300 locations: ~$7.5 million.

Cost of Blumenauer bridge: ~20 million

Cost of improving NE 12th bridge bikepath/lane: ~2 million

Soren, you might find it interesting to look at some of the formulas the city, and maybe the state too, use to prioritize road segments for improvements.

I remember rolling my eyes at these formulas when Novick and Hales were focusing on paving streets/filling potholes.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  soren

Hi again Soren, city reports have filled too much of my gray matter. But I think I remember Chloe Eudaly complaining about problems with the acquisitions department with regard to the cameras. And I think I also remember reading in the interviews the charter reform committee did with people in the various bureaus – wait it was during public comments to the Charter Committee – hearing a desperate woman, I forget the department, it might’ve been procurement, begging for funding, and begging to get away from the commission form of government, under which funding her department was never a priority. Her story was grim.

soren
soren
1 month ago

But I think I remember Chloe Eudaly complaining about problems with the acquisitions department with regard to the cameras.

I hope she runs again in 2024.

(Still skeptical that a byzantine STV voting system will do much to make libertarian Portland a more humane and empathetic city.)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  soren

She looks to me like she is exploring or preparing another run, she is putting a lot of effort into her StreetWonk newsletter

I think STV with large districts will get areas of town out of each other’s hair, and perhaps will cut down on some posturing. Eudaly has done a good job of speaking up for many people.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

begging for funding

After charter reform, bureaus will be funded by the council as a whole, not by individual council members. Just like they were before charter reform.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

Sure, but individual council members will not be seeing some bureaus as “theirs” and lobbying for more funds.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I suspect many folks will still see bureaus as “theirs” if they have some affinity to it. For example, if a transportation advocate gets elected, they’ll likely lobby for PBOT more than for, say, the Water Bureau.

I don’t expect anything to change in this regard. In the end, all the general fund bureaus are still going to feel broke.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Geographically equitable 

This probably means something different to you (and Soren) than to me. Here in SE, Cleveland community members are cheering promises to put two speed cameras near the school. To us, cameras are a benefit, not a burden. They protect our kids.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

I think I share your view, speed camera = good.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Most people here and elsewhere take the pro-violence point of view on this issue and see cameras as something negative for the community. I encourage folks to take the traffic safety view and see cameras as an amenity.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I guess you missed my fantasy speed camera post above:

“Installation of 500 cameras in ~300 locations: ~$7.5 million.”

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

you missed my fantasy speed camera post above

I didn’t miss it.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

Lisa, about the relationship between low income and high-crash corridors: In general it is a very weak or non-existent relationship. Poorer East Portland was developed mostly during the automobile age, and much like the rest of the country, its straods are designed to move cars, not people; Richer inner Portland, like many older cities, was designed for people, horse transport and later for trolley/streetcar – and 50 years ago, inner Portland was relatively poor and East County was rich. There are plenty of other cities where the high-crash corridors go through wealthy low-density neighborhoods (even East Portland has some rich people) and plenty of poor ghettos with really quite safe streets (often with hardly any traffic on them.) To put it another way, Portland is not a particularly typical American city.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  David Hampsten

Happy New Year David!

You’re speaking historically (which is interesting, but a different conversation). I’m talking about how things are today. It appears to me that street safety correlates pretty well with wealth.

Here is the PBOT equity matrix:
https://www.portland.gov/officeofequity/pbot-equity-matrix

comment image

Followed by a map of crash responses:
comment image

But I appreciate your historical knowledge of the city, especially

50 years ago, inner Portland was relatively poor and East County was rich

That’s my understanding too. Great big beautiful roads were considered progress in the 1960s and 70s. Sought after. That’s why I get irritated by wobbly words and imprecise language. “Historically under-served,” what does that mean? The region? the people who live there now? The people who lived there then? How far back in history? I wish people would more precisely say what they mean.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I’m not saying that driving behavior associates with wealth

Driving behavior might well correlate with wealth. Younger people tend to be both more dangerous drivers and less wealthy than the larger population.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

The traffic division had a fairly consistent track record of traffic enforcement not targeting any racial group.

To the extent that members of “marginalized communities” are driving more dangerously than others, I would expect them to get more tickets; after all, no one thinks it odd that young males rack up more traffic infractions than other groups.

I would expect that speed cameras would be focused on the areas where people are getting hurt and killed, and this seems completely appropriate in a world of constrained resources. After all, it is the people living in those communities who most need the protection from dangerous drivers.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

To the extent that members of “marginalized communities” are driving more dangerously than others, I would expect them to get more tickets; 

If there is a baseline level of speeding, then clustering automated enforcement in outer E PDX is likely to disproportionately target communities who live in outer E PDX. Why is this so hard to understand?

I encourage folks to take the traffic safety view and see cameras as an amenity.

It seems to me that you would support rapid installation of hundreds of speed cameras in a less geographically biased manner. It’s almost as if we agree…

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Why do you so readily adopt the speeder’s frame of “targeting” rather than the pedestrian’s frame of “protecting”?

I do want cameras near where I ride (and will soon be getting two on a stretch of Powell I frequently cross), but prioritizing areas where they are less needed is the essence of “geographical bias”, and will result in more people dying.

(And a quick reminder that E Portland is overwhelmingly white.)

bjorn
bjorn
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

This is inaccurate, bike portland editorials have advocated for vastly increasing automated traffic enforcement.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  bjorn

Sorry, maybe I should have been more specific… I was referring to the kind of enforcement that catches drunk drivers, people without license plates, driving stolen cars, and those doing crazy things not at known fixed locations of speed cameras.

As a cyclist, I worry far more about those things than I do about traffic speeds on outer Stark (which are important, just not as relevant to cyclists).

Erin
Erin
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom G Standley

Times change Tom. Society, it’s needs and the conversations surrounding said needs also change. Evolution is good thing.

Jakob Bernardson
Jakob Bernardson
1 month ago

Great pic, J M!

Next time could you get the cat turned around?

One ought to be careful with the term “Marxist.” Karl Marx was a Jewish atheist whose “communism” was largely based on social teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam.

It is possible to be a good social democrat and a theist too. My personal choice for a Jewish communist would be BernieSanders, not Comrade Marx.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

My favorite Marxist was Groucho Marx. Karl was a “university brat” born and raised in the college town of Trier, currently the oldest historical town in modern Germany, but at the time of his birth it was in a completely different country – it’s a very nice bikeable community in the Mosel canyon, not far from Luxembourg. I highly recommend a visit, nice vineyards, lots of intact imperial Roman stuff, plus Karl’s boring boyhood home. I came across some nice local bike shops the last time I was there, about 10 years ago.

Jakob Bernardson
Jakob Bernardson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Right on, David, for excellence of Groucho!

Last week “American Masters” on PBS recounted his many appearances on the old “Dick Cavett Show.” Groucho liked to sing, and the episode closed with a piquant performance of “Lydia, the Tatooed Lady.”

Also for excellence of the Moselle Valley! Many decades ago I was there, quaffing a splendid white in the town Remich sur Moselle on a fine autumn afternoon, with my mathematician friend Jean-Paul, overlooking the river and attempting to converse in German with his grandfather.

No one outside Luxembourg speaks Luxembourgish, so primary school is taught in German, secondary school in French. We had attended mass that morning: the service was in German, singing was in French, homily in Luxembourgish. One needs three languages to attend church in that country!

Alas, I had no bicycle, only a dark blue SAAB 99!

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

No one outside Luxembourg speaks Luxembourgish

Not entirely true; the German dialect spoken in Bitburg is essentially Luxembourgish.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

There’s also a large region in Belgium next to Luxembourg called rather confusingly “Luxembourg”. At various times Luxembourg was a lot bigger than it is today, particularly in the 1200s. I wonder if there are any similar linguistic remnants in nearby parts of France?
Fun Fact: General Patton is buried in Luxembourg.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

France did a pretty good job of repressing/stamping out regional dialects/languages. I’m certain there were speakers of various Germanic dialects within the current borders of France. As you say, the borders have moved around quite a bit over time.

soren
soren
1 month ago

Bernie Sanders viewed communism as one-party-state authoritarianism (as do many, if not, most socialists):

Yes, it is true that a result of the tremendous political ignorance in this country created by the schools and the media, there are many people who do not know the difference between “socialism” and “communism.” Yes, on more than one occasion, I have been told to “go back to Russia.” But, if we maintain a strong position on civil liberties, express our continued opposition to authoritarianism and the concept of the one-party state, I am confident that the vast majority of the people will understand that there is nothing incompatible between socialism and democracy.

https://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/14-things-bernie-sanders-has-said-about-socialism-120265

And I say this as someone who has been continuously disappointed with Sanders for decades.

squareman
squareman
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

Even in America’s post-WWII imperialist nation-building, we pushed those nations to be more social democracies than capital democracies as compared to the U.S.’s flavor of democratic republic (e.g., Japan and W. Germany), because our advisors knew that would keep those populations more satisfied and result in more stable peace. Also, we had our most socialist period still in pretty strong effect from the New Deal following WWII. It wasn’t by chance that re-unified Germany post-Cold War was one of if not the strongest economy in the EU.

And yeah, none of that addresses when the U.S. (particularly the CIA) has helped overthrow legitimately established democracies that didn’t kowtow to foreign trade policies that would most benefit corporate lobbyists in the Beltway. U.S. foreign policy for most of the last 100 years has been all about supporting democracy unless it cuts against the grain of U.S. corporate interests. Look no further than our long history of foreign policy that results in destabilization (including preferring some autocrats over democratically elected leaders) in the Middle East or Central America for the last century to see how we don’t always walk the talk of democratic sovereignty.

It is 100% correct to say that the vast majority of Americans are fully ignorant of the difference between socialism and communism – they’re not even in the same category (one is an economic system, and the other is a political system). They also conflate Marx’s political critique of Capitalism’s limitations (none of which he has been off the mark about) with political Marxists who can be all over the board politically (from anarchistic, through democratic, to totalitarian). It was the Marxist-Leninists that formed the USSR that have Americans thinking every Marxist is a Communist.

soren
soren
1 month ago
Reply to  squareman

one is an economic system

What could be more political than opposition to capitalism?

 every Marxist is a Communist.

More like every Marxist wants to bring about communism. And if they are true to Marx, then they are not fans of “democratic” forms of socioeconomic transformation.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  soren

One of the problems with this conversation is that terminology has become so jumbled over time. For example, many people seem to think countries like Sweden are socialist, when they are in fact unapologetically capitalist. Even Bernie Sanders mislabels himself. He is more Social Democrat than Democratic Socialist.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago

> but the changes you won’t see (like database and server upgrades) will likely make the largest impact to your reading.

As a nerd I would be interested in reading about these

squareman
squareman
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

Same!

Jakob Bernardson
Jakob Bernardson
1 month ago

What a strange site/thread this is!

Backward cats, Groucho, disquisitions on Luxembourgish and its historical bounds, practices of liturgy therein–the church I alluded to also housed Portuguese Catholics, workers in the steel mills of Esch-sur-Alzette, home of my good friend, Jean-Paul Pier, whom I met when he was Fulbright Fellow at the University of Oregon.

And yes, David, I know that there are two towns “Esch” in Luxembourg.

Jean-Paul’s lovely daughter, Anne-Marie, is fluent in five languages, always careful to speak her native language to her four children at home, as is her husband, a native speaker of Arabic, with his.

Back to bicycles!

LUX is home to three winners of the TDF, most notably, Charly Gaul–the short guy, not the tall guy. Among the best climbers and the greatest dopers in the history of the sport.

Sorry for all the ramifications to the thread, JM. 

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

I’ve been to Luxembourg city 6 times over the years, each time discovering something new. The city seems to be built on a series of tall mesas with very deep canyons – there’s even a public elevator you can bike on to connect to one of the canyons. I’ve seen the bronze plaque to Charly-Gual among other top bike racers, in a park not far from the pirate ship playground. The cathedral has huge columns each grooved differently from the others. Last time I was there, a protected bike lane was put on one on the main highway bridges with Jersey barriers, but I’m sure it’s been long since replaced with something more tasteful.

I’ve been to Trier 4 times – it couldn’t be more different from Luxembourg, other than both cities have ancient Roman origins. Yet they are so close to each other, equally interesting. The ruins of baths, amphitheater, the Black Gate, the intact audience hall, a cathedral that’s clearly been rebuilt several times, the curry-flavored mayo at the local Subway sandwich shop, the supermarket and pharmacy in the train station, the throngs of Chinese Marxist tourists mixing with American military personnel from Ramstein AFB…