Down but not out: Bike activists plan city hall rally Friday

(Background photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland. Flyer: BikeLoud PDX)

Local bike activists want everyone to know that the rumors of Portland’s bike decline have been greatly exaggerated.

BikeLoud PDX plans to host a rally this Friday (April 28th) to hammer that point home. Dubbed the “Bikes are Still the Future!” rally, BikeLoud says they will meet at Salmon Street Springs at 5:00 pm and then roll as a group over to the plaza in front of Portland City Hall. It’s an effort to counter whispers in city hall that perhaps, as the city faces steep budget cuts, investing in bikes is no longer good politics.

“When the 2022 Bike Counts were released in March 2023, BikeLoud PDX members weren’t dismayed or shocked by the falling numbers,” reads a statement from BikeLoud. “We were shocked by the City’s statement that they are no longer committed to people who bike by honoring a promise to‘build it and they will come’.” That’s a reference to comments made by Portland Bureau of Transportation Bike Coordinator Roger Geller, who said at a meeting back in June that perhaps the oft-repeated mantra that if bike infrastructure was built, people would ride in it, “just wasn’t working anymore.” 

That worries BikeLoud because they’ve staked their entire organizational mission on the goal adopted in the Bike Plan for 2030 that calls for 25% of all trips to be made by bike by 2030. “BikeLoud PDX believes making safe space for biking is the only way we can get more Portlanders to choose to bike on our increasingly dangerous streets,” they maintain.

Here’s another excerpt from their statement:

We are here to say: we are Portlanders who ride bikes and we are still here. BikeLoud PDX wants to support the Portland Bureau of Transportation and our elected leaders to prioritize biking in the future. This is for our children’s future, this is for our climate future, this is for being proud of Portland: America’s Biking City. Rally with your friends and family on April 28 to Keep Portland Biking!  We will celebrate, not as a disappointed group of people who bike, but as a group of folks who still love biking, every day, every year, before and after the pandemic, because we believe: Bikes are still the future!

At the rally, BikeLoud will host an open mic where anyone can step up and share what biking means to them and “what it means to the future of Portland.” Gather at Salmon Street Springs at 5:00 or city hall at 5:30. More information here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

22 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
maxD
maxD
1 year ago

Roger Geller, who said at a meeting back in June that perhaps the oft-repeated mantra that if bike infrastructure was built, people would ride in it, “just wasn’t working anymore.” 

That is very frustrating to hear from Geller. He is smart guy, but if he believes PBOT has been “building it” than he is deluding himself or is not as smart as people think he is. PBOT has built a lot of random, disjointed, unconnected and isolated places to be on a bike. PBOT has NOT built bike infrastructure. Bike Infrastructure is well connected- it is supposed to be transportation system that connects people safely and directly to more routes and destinations. There are so many examples of this form the last 10 years, but the most egregious is the Blumenauer Bridge. A brand new bridge that cost millions, connects to a few blocks of bike lanes to the north. And the connect is terrible! Riding north over the bridge, you can see 7th, you are totally aligned with 7th, but the bike route involves a series or 90-degree turns and weaves along a sidewalk. This is not a huge conflict now because there is no safe and direct north/south bike route on 7th (for some dumb reason) and the Lloyd district is struggling to redevelop, If PBOT ever can manage to create a north-south bike route on 7th and the Lloyd district reboots successfully, this design will not be functional.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

Well said, maxD. Another great example of non-infrastructure is the Red Electric Bridge in SW (Hillsdale). It cost million$ and connects one neighborhood to SW Capitol Hwy. Such a waste! But this is the type of *performative* cycling infrastructure the city is building: it doesn’t go anywhere but – most important! – it doesn’t upset any motor-vehicle infrastructure. God forbid that any motorist have to spend 30 seconds to accommodate bike infrastructure.

So that’s what the city is doing: building crappy cycling infrastructure in “open” places that don’t upset existing car infrastructure. And we wonder why people aren’t ditching their cars and jumping on their bikes.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

PBOT has NOT built bike infrastructure. Bike Infrastructure is well connected- it is supposed to be transportation system that connects people safely and directly to more routes and destinations.

Where do you expect to find the broad-based political support to adequately funding active transportation infrastructure — something that Portland has never seriously attempted.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

PBOT has a mountain of missed opportunities to make simple connection over the past decade. Most of these would not cost any money or only cost very small amounts. It would not have cost PBOT any additional money to provide a strait, direct connection northbound for cyclists (but they have had to removed the left turn lane for cars). PBOT is actually spending money to close crosswalks for pedestrians. This is alack of will and caring by PBOT, not money.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

— something that Portland has never seriously attempted.


Exactly. You can’t do what you don’t try.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

I don’t know about others but for me personally the decline of public safety in Portland has impacted my willingness and enthusiasm about cycling in Portland. It’s just there seems to be a lot more crazies on our streets and I know police here are understaffed and slow to respond. I still ride but not as much.

Adam Pieniazek
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

PBOT hasn’t built a bike network. The network is all that matters and we don’t even have an attempt at a network. People should be able to easily and safely travel by bike from the border with Beaverton to the border with Vancouver ( and all the other borders ). Instead what you can do is travel a few blocks. If we built car roads this way no one would drive because you couldn’t actually get anywhere.

The sad part is we could build that network quickly and cheaply but instead we’re building bridges to nowhere.

David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

Judging from the success of the children’s bike buses in Portland, I’d say there’s nothing particularly wrong with Portland’s bicycle infrastructure, but clearly there’s a lot of fear among the adults riding on Portland’s city streets. If we assume that fear is justified, then might perhaps the city and the bicycle advocacy community be better off investing in citywide (or even metrowide) “adult” bike buses? Maybe a line from downtown Gresham leaving at 7 am every weekday (or even daily) stopping at Gresham Station & Muni building area, Rockwood, David Douglas HS, Adventist H, Mt Tabor, Lincoln/Harrison, Ladds, Eastbank, and downtown Portland? With other cross-town routes? With or without a police escort, like a WW2 convoy?

Charlotte NC has been spending millions to put in wonderful two-way curb barrier-protected bike lanes in a well-connected network and expand light rail, which sounds great, and it is if you happen to live in an area you can take advantage of this new network – but most people in Charlotte live nowhere near these routes, particularly the very large black population, immigrants, Latinx, and poor whites – and the previous system of painted bike lanes and greenways (bike boulevards) is far worse than Portland’s.

Please tell us, what major US city has a “complete bike network” like y’all describe? I’ve seen a few small college towns try it (rich Boulder for example) and a few Canadian and other foreign cities try it, but nowhere else. Chicago, LA, NYC, DC all have disjointed systems with numerous dangerous gaps. It’s good to aspire for better, true, but I find it better to aspire for the doable.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Pieniazek

We have a great bike network, at least in the city core. It’s that grid of low traffic, low speed leafy streets we all ride on. It works great, and it’s there for you today.

PBOT has been building dedicated infrastructure through areas where that network breaks down, which is exactly what they should be doing. Things are so much better connected than they used to be, and, for the most part, our network is good and comprehensive. At least until you get out far enough.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

We do not have a great bike network. We have lots of great partial bike networks.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

What parts of the network do you feel are so disconnected that you would characterize them as “different networks”?

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

You’re kidding me, right?

Al
Al
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

If they built better naito quality infrastructure throughout the city then people definitely would come

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 year ago

I’m really hoping they don’t lose their minds and try corking on their short ride to City Hall tomorrow.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago

When the 2022 Bike Counts were released in March 2023, BikeLoud PDX members weren’t dismayed or shocked by the falling numbers…

If BikeLoudPDX were an organization focused on transportation cycling then they would be deeply dismayed. From my perspective, one explanation for the lack of dismay is that this organization has become more fixated on market urbanism and its magical belief that luxury condos will spontaneously generate cycling mode share.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I don’t know where anyone got the idea that BikeLoudPDX was not deeply dismayed. However, that dismay is tempered by skepticism of the numbers. How accurate are they?
There’s really no way to know for sure who is doing the counting, or how it is being conducted. What about bike commuters who don’t work regular hours, or people who only go into the office a few days a week? What about riders that don’t commute? Are they not being counted because they’re not riding at the right time, or in the right place? I can assure you that no one believes that luxury condos will spontaneously generate cycling mode share.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  Serenity

A trip to the grocery store, medical appointment, or school is also transportation cycling and PBOT’s non-commute hour counts strongly suggest that non-commute trips have also declined.

I can assure you that no one believes that luxury condos will spontaneously generate cycling mode share.

With all due respect, BikeLoudPDX has been a reliable partner of “developers need to make more profits” urbanists* and has championed “placemaking” that functions as a massive government subsidy towards the FIRE (finance-insurance-real-estate) industry. From my perspective, BikeLoudPDX has become an establishment-oriented org.

*apparently developers are profit-driven but will also somehow keep on building “abundant housing” even after their profits evaporate due to marginally small increases in supply

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

With all due respect, I know what the meaning of transportation cycling is. As a transportation cyclist, I have made me trips to the grocery store, and ridden to many doctors appointments. I have a roof suggested that those numbers has not fallen. Being that people were mostly concentrating on bicycle commuters, that’s what comment was focused on.

It doesn’t sound like you are very familiar with BikeLoud, either.

Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
1 year ago

Who in City Hall is still going to be at work after 5pm on Friday to witness this show of organizational strength?

David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

Especially when so many city workers already work 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday.

PTB
PTB
1 year ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Especially when so many former downtown workers are logging into work while at home in sweatpants

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

You must not be from around here. We can’t get city employees to even come to work 20 hours/week.

https://www.wweek.com/news/city/2023/03/25/300-city-employees-wont-have-to-return-to-the-office-next-month/