Podcast: In the Shed – Ep 9

Eva Frazier and I are back with another episode of “In The Shed.” This episode was recorded earlier today in the BikePortland Shed, as we just barely began to thaw from the Big Deep Freeze of the past week.

As per usual, Eva and I had a fun chat about a wide range of stuff:

  • The Deep Freeze of 2024
  • Why are people still on the roads?
  • Eva brought me an amazing beer she and a friend made (dubbed the “Overlooked”) with hops and barley grown in their backyards!
  • Jonathan has started reading the famous book on Robert Moses, The Power Broker
  • Food trucks in downtown Portland
  • Is Portland even a real big city?
  • The best view to enter Portland from
  • Why Eva loves freeway overpasses with peeling paint
  • How cities are like “free jazz” music
  • Update on Eva’s “30 days of minimalism” challenge
  • Getting the bike lane complaint tone right in light of PBOT crews
  • Jesse Cornett interview
  • John the Johnster’s wild ice ride
  • Bike Happy Hour One Year Anniversary is April 3rd!
  • YouTuber urbanist Ray “CityNerd” Delahanty coming to Portland for a big event April 9th
  • Portland Winter Light Festival is coming
  • Eva reads the excellent satirical Comment of the Week
  • What’s it’s like riding in southwest
  • Eva’s opinion of the BikePortland comment section
  • Exciting new off-road trails in Cascade Locks in the works

Thanks to Brock Dittus of Sprocket Podcast fame for our fantastic theme music. Listen in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening!

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.

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Peter
Peter
5 months ago

Regarding light festivals – lots of cities have them! And yes, they’re usually in winter – it means you can check out the displays at reasonable hours (with how early the sun sets), and it’s a good way to get people to visit the city during what is otherwise the off season.
The most spectacular winter light festival I’ve ever been to was in Sydney, Australia. They go ALL OUT. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is lit up, the Opera House is lit up, half of downtown is lit up – it’s incredible.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter

They go ALL OUT. 

Maybe not the best way to describe the lights at a light festival.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
4 months ago
Reply to  qqq

They go ALL OUT.

They ALL go OUT.

David Stein
5 months ago

Listening now and I was the BBAC member in SW who went on for a bit about the design of the response and how most bike facilities won’t be usable for weeks because everything is now in the bike lanes or on the sidewalks not being cleared. We lop off the top of the modal hierarchy every time one of these winter storms rolls through and there isn’t much consideration about this. To be fair, this is something I’ve talked about when the weather was much warmer as something that needs a better plan and yet here we are again and the only thing that may have changed is the aggressiveness of the treatments and the expansiveness of road closures.

The impact on pedestrian infrastructure also makes it really challenging to use transit – while downtown sidewalks were generally cleared the same was not the case pretty much everywhere else I looked while on the 54 bus yesterday. It makes me sad and just as bad driving isn’t going to change without people being worried about the consequences the same is the case with sidewalk clearing and it sounds as though that is solely complaint based.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
4 months ago
Reply to  David Stein

lop off the top of the modal hierarchy every time

The economy, peoples’ daily responsibilities and obligations, etc. all rely on roads being usable by cars.

Bike mode share has slipped again to what, 2%? I don’t see why we should prioritize what’s largely a fitness routine for many over, say, commerce, work, education, medical care, etc.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago

The comment you’re criticizing also mentioned sidewalks, pedestrians and transit. Do you think sidewalks and transit are also “fitness routes” devoid of people using them for “daily responsibilities and obligations…commerce, work, education, medical care, etc.”? Especially in snow when many people who typically drive are walking to the grocery store, taking the bus to work, etc.?

Steven
Steven
4 months ago

Why prioritize walking, cycling, and transit? Because car infrastructure, like the personal automobile itself, is a money pit that’s wrecking the climate.

David Stein
4 months ago

The transportation hierarchy is more than just bikes making this “argument” incomplete and flawed. If you are really concerned about the economy and people’s ability to generally be mobile then it’s actually quite harmful if every time one of these winter storms comes through all of a sudden a large number of people’s options for movement are effectively removed- it means our society isn’t particularly resilient which leads to a higher societal cost for people to get around. Maybe the standard for some modes shouldn’t be as high as for others, however our current trade is having slightly more drivable roads, for people who are competent and properly equipped and in exchange the bike network is trashed for weeks/months, pedestrians are an afterthought and accessing transit is highly variable with some stops being downright dangerous.

This isn’t even addressing that a lot of people don’t have access to cars. We can start with everyone under the age of 16 and include everyone who for physical, mental, or monetary reasons is unable to drive. Even those who do have access to a vehicle shouldn’t necessarily be driving in these kinds of conditions. I have the pleasure of being able to watch as ill-equipped and or poorly trained people attempt to drive up the street I live on every time a winter storm comes through – we have dug people out and helped them get chains on but a lot just give up and park along the road because they just can’t make it. Most people shouldn’t be on the road while there is snow or ice and providing them with an option beyond “drive everywhere” is going to be safer for them and everyone else.

The 2% number is only commute trips, meaning people going to/from a place of employment which may have a side benefit of recreation but is undeniably transportation. Also 2% of the ~650k people in Portland is still over 13,000 which is enough to get the Moda Center to 2/3 capacity. Would you rather be waiting in traffic behind even more people driving a car unnecessarily?

Aaron
4 months ago

What is the percentage threshold at which point we should stop caring about a demographic? Do we apply this to other aspects of society too, or is it only relevant to whether someone rides a bike for transportation? If only 2% of people in Portland are a certain race should we stop caring about whether they’re experiencing racism? If only 2% of people in Portland are disabled does that make it alright to stop building handicapped accessible facilities? If less than 2% of drivers in the city are driving their car on a neighborhood street does that make it ok to shut the street off to car traffic?

Just trying to figure out if you are being intellectually dishonest by acting like a 2% mode share means we should stop maintaining bike facilities or if you actually think that’s a good standard to apply for running society.

prioritarian
prioritarian
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron

What is the percentage threshold at which point we should stop caring about a demographic?

I don’t care at all about the desires or priorities of any Portland resident who makes over 60% of median family income. I also enormously prioritize the basic human rights (needs) of demographics who are experiencing extreme poverty regardless of whether they live in the USA or not.

Ray
Ray
4 months ago
Reply to  prioritarian

Most Portland (and Portland-area) residents under your threshold would save hundreds or thousands of dollars per year if we de-prioritized car-first street planning. This would give them more (and cheaper!) options to get to wherever they might need to go.

dw
dw
4 months ago

Great conversation! I love to listen to these while I do chores, always feel like I come away having learned something or gaining a new perspective. I think bringing people in to interview & participate would be great!

Some thoughts I had while listening:

I think the issue of sidewalk clearance after a storm like this one really needs to be solved from the bottom up. The city doesn’t, and probably never will, have the resources to do any sidewalk clearance in neighborhoods. I noticed a big disparity from house to house. Ideally, there would be some kind of ‘team’ or network of residents within a neighborhood that could go out and clear blocks’ worth of sidewalks and crosswalks en masse. I am thinking of trying to organize something like this in my neighborhood. People who are able-bodied and fit could volunteer for the labor of removing snow and ice; those less so could help by lending out tools, storing materials, or providing moral support and making coffee/tea/cocoa or whatever. Maybe it’s a pipe dream but community is a powerful tool in times of crisis.

My take is that it’s ok for the city to focus on only clearing main streets; clearing neighborhood streets and bike lanes is an unrealistic expectation. Clear paths for buses, emergency, utility repair, and delivery vehicles should be prioritized over all other traffic in an event like this. If we got as much snow in a season as Montreal, then maybe we’d want a snow-clearance solution for bike infrastructure. But right now we get an appreciable amount of snow & ice once, maybe twice a year. A more realistic solution might be for PBOT to plow & deice a select network of neighborhood greenways. You could still get around on a bike if you needed to, and it would open up more cleared routes for emergency and utility vehicles.

MAX shutting down for basically the whole week was a huge blow to its already tarnished reputation. I know that it was the right call to make for the sake of safety. I also know that the system wasn’t really engineered for these conditions. The thing that rubs me the wrong way about it is that the state, metro, county, and city mobilized all they had to keep the highways clear and open, while the closest thing to “highways” we have in our transit system completely crumpled. Highways closed a couple times, but only for short periods. I sincerely wish we had the social and political will to invest in continually improving MAX in big ways – Better Red project notwithstanding. BOTH highways and transit should have a plan in place for severe weather.

To TriMet’s credit, they kept as many buses running as possible. I used the bus to get around a couple times, and I sure am thankful for the drivers who were out there getting people where they needed to go in this mess.

Great point about being sensitive to the fact that the PBOT crews who maintain the bike lanes are the folks who were out there busting ass to keep streets plowed, de-iced, and clear of debris. Really appreciate those people as well.

John V
John V
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

I wouldn’t care that they only clear main streets if they also cleared the bike lane on that street. The Williams / Vancouver north/south pair was perfectly clear for most of the storm, but the bike lane wasn’t even slightly cleared. There is no excuse for that, it’s not even a protected bike lane.