Podcast: Ride east Portland with City Council candidate Timur Ender

A carfree path on NE 113th between Glisan and Oregon that Timur helped get built when he worked at PBOT. The path connects a neighborhood greenway to nearby schools via a planned signalized crossing. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I’m excited to bring you this interview-by-bike with Portland City Council District 1 candidate Timur Ender. Timur is running to represent east Portland and he invited me on a ride on Tuesday to get a closer look at his district.

I’ve known Timur since he was fresh out of Lewis & Clark Law School. He showed up to one of our Wonk Night events in February 2013. Timur was a volunteer for tactical urbanist group Better Block PDX and was one of the leading organizers of their Better Naito pilot project that ultimately became the official City of Portland project that we all love riding on today. Timur has worked as transportation policy advisor for former City Commissioner Steve Novick and served a five-year stint at PBOT as part of their capital project team.

In short, I could think of no better person to give me a tour of bike infrastructure in east Portland!

In this episode, you’ll hear Timur and me talk about various bikeway treatments and projects as we pedal a loop (view route map below) from NE Glisan and 102nd, down to SE Powell, then over to 162nd and up to Glendoveer Golf Course. (Don’t worry about getting lost, we call out cross streets at regular intervals. Also note that photos above are in order.) Hear how vital shortcuts and opportunism (like his idea to pave a path through gravel on NE 113th between Oregon and Glisan to connect to a planned new traffic signal as part of a Safe Routes to School project) are key to making cycling better in east Portland.

You’ll also learn about Timur’s ideas for making streets safer and less car-centric — like his vision to create a Barcelona-inspired superblock bounded by 102nd, Glisan, Stark and 122nd.

One thing that struck me during our ride was how much impact a single, dedicated and thoughtful PBOT employee can have on how our streets work. At one point while biking on East Burnside, Timur pointed out a buffer stripe that gives the bike lane more space between car drivers. “I’m really proud of this buffer,” Timur said, as he explained how he was in a meeting and said, “Just paint another line.” And they did.

Timur is someone with a love of east Portland that really comes through in this episode. While biking across SE 122nd near Market he wanted to stop and point out one of his favorite intersections. I figured he’d talk about infrastructure, but he proceeded to point out several small businesses: an Ethiopian restaurant he loves, his favorite bodega, a community space where he had a memorable dinner, and so on.

Interspersed with talk about bus rapid transit (which he sees as “low-hanging fruit” on streets like 122nd, Halsey, and Stark), buffered bike lanes and housing policy (Timur supports more housing in inner neighborhoods because he feels it will decrease displacement in his district); you’ll hear Timur share why he (reluctantly) decided to run for council, how he first fell in love with cycling, why he chose to live in Portland, what it’s like being carfree in east Portland, and much more.

Listen to the full episode above, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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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curly
curly
4 months ago

Timur, JM, thanks for the ride. First podcast I’ve listened to start to finish. Like a lot of east Portlanders’ the new form of government gives us a little hope. East Portland is a special place. To be able to live, work and play in the same hood is wonderful.
I also listened very closely to the audio in the interview and it is what we experience every time we get on a bike to run our errands. More miles of bike lanes than any other part of the city, all on high crash corridors, and through high crash intersections How do you encourage options when your options are slim, or downright dangerous. We still don’t have great low stress options for walking and biking. Progress is slow in east Portland and the need is great.
Re: the ROW at 113th and Glisan,, I’ve been using this route for years, but crossing at 114th. I didn’t know the ROW existed at 113th and am thrilled about this piece of the network. You’ll be able to ride from Gateway to the Springwater Trail through some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Portland with signals across the high crash network.
I could go on, but it’s folks like David Hampsten who started the cash flowing towards east Portland active transportation infrastructure and Timur who promoted and carried out the projects in EPIM and beyond.
Remember Portlanders, east Portland probably pays more in fuel taxes without getting the benefits than any other section of the city except maybe west Portland.

Great interview

Scott
Scott
4 months ago

Really enjoyed this conversation. Timur is dedicated, thoughtful, grounded, and effective. I can’t think of a better person to serve on City Council. Not sure the politics profession deserves him but maybe we’ll get better than we deserve!

SD
SD
4 months ago

So many of the people running for council would be better mayors than the current mayoral candidates. Why do we have a wealth of great council options but we don’t have any good candidates for mayor?

Vans
Vans
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

You have to sell too much of your soul to get to the Mayors office.

Many principled folk can’t stomach it by the time they get there and choose to stay in the trenches hoping to thwart the forces that compromise it.

Vans
Vans
4 months ago

I grew up right here up the block from that thruput, always been a key part of my riding.

Still is again as I live nearby and it has become even more crucial as I adjust my riding to avoid crappy, crabby routes, intersections, roads, cars and much else.

I use much of this on most all rides, great job but you’re giving my secrets away!

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  Vans

Have you ridden NE 157th between Glisan & Burnside yet, where the DC-8 crashed in the late 1970s? Or seen the pig topiary on 143rd north of Halsey?

Vans
Vans
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I have probably seen the pig I think.

I was sitting in the 4 plex a few hundred feet up the road when the plane crashed, 3 more seconds in the air or one of the power lines on Burnside didn’t grab the plane and I probably wouldn’t be here today.

Another good friend who lived on 156th was one of the first on scene and helped some of the survivors.

Ryan
Ryan
4 months ago

Great podcast and coverage for outer E Portland! It was enlightening to have Timur’s perspective as someone that lives here and has worked on projects to improve the transportation network. I had a few thoughts while listening:

1) There are bike facilities on the arterials, but the condition is rough. There’s usually lots of debris, bad pavement, damaged candlesticks or separators, and missing or worn down striping. They aren’t welcoming streets to begin with (loud, fast traffic, inattentive or dangerous drivers, lots of hardscape and bad urban form). All of those things combined with the generally poor state of the bike facilities keeps me off those roads unless absolutely necessary.

2) Because the high-volume arterial street aren’t welcoming, the parallel routes are critical. Unfortunately, some of the key parallel roads with good trough connections are under-improved (SE 117th, SE Harold, SE Main east of 162nd). It can be OK if you’re in the ‘bold and fearless’ cyclist category, but they don’t work well for relaxed or all-ages riding (something Timur alluded to at one point). Safety improvements to create separated bike and ped facilities would be a game changer for route options to avoid the arterial stroads. The improvements on SE 136th are a good example of what some of these roads could be (even though those get junked up pretty quickly as Jonathan observed during the ride).

3) The small off-street connections like NE 113th between Oregon and Glisan have outsized positive impacts for route options. Another example is a connection made on the east side of Raymond Park around 2014, where a single family lot was demolished and a ped/bike connection was added from the park to SE 115th. That opened up a connection on a very long block to numerous other streets that abut other sides of the park. It’d be nice to see these kinds of connection opportunities identified in plans.

Overall, I think the best use of limited transportation funding to improve biking in outer east Portland is improving local street connectivity and facilities on parallel routes. Safe facilities on the high-volume streets are important, but I don’t think they do much to get more people on bicycles in this part of the city.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  Ryan

improving local street connectivity and facilities on parallel routes

One of the issues of East Portland’s superblock design is the lack of connective parallel streets – some local parallel street do exist, but they are few and far between. Wayyy back in 2009 when PBOT (ever so briefly) had a surplus in funding, we advocates suggested they buy out properties to develop local throughways for pedestrians and bicyclists, which the county used to do before city annexation in the late 80s. But alas they decided to fund streetcar in inner Portland instead or some equally useless projects.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago

The EPIM was finished as a plan and approved by city council (in 2012) even before Timur moved to Portland in 2013 (from progressive Raleigh NC, quite a nice city really), so his participation was on implementing the plan only (working for PBOT or as Novick staff.)

We advocates worked hard to get these projects funded – I’m impressed how much got implemented. Even the bike lane on Mill with the car parked in it is a huge improvement.

I agree with him about the superblocks, it was a “best practice” of the 1950s-70s; parts of Beaverton have them too. East Portland schools and parks are often in the center of the superblocks, by design.

Greg Raisman created the 80s and Bush bikeways, Roger Geller the 110s, Jim Chasse identified the 130s, and Tom Lewis of Centennial the 150s. I was the idiot who got everyone to say “HOP” and “4M”, as well as the Glisan buffered lanes and Powell protected bike lanes added to the plan. In the EPIM there is a 170s greenway identified that partly passes through Gresham (Neghli, 165th, & 170th). The bike lanes on 102nd, 122nd, 148th, 162nd, Halsey, Airport, the old lanes on Division were all put in by the county before annexation in the 1970s and 80s – the city much later upgraded some of them. 136th was in the TSP for decades before it was funded. The 132nd bike bridge over I-84 still needs building (page 111 in EPIM).

SE 117th has sucked for pretty much forever. In 1993 the city asked neighbors for input about rebuilding the street – there was major opposition – and ever since PBOT engineers have assumed major opposition forevermore (after 31 years most of the neighbors they spoke to are likely dead by now.)

Great interview!

dw
dw
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

SE 117th has sucked for pretty much forever. In 1993 the city asked neighbors for input about rebuilding the street – there was major opposition – and ever since PBOT engineers have assumed major opposition forevermore (after 31 years most of the neighbors they spoke to are likely dead by now.)

117th absolutely needs to be redone! It’s lined by two elementary schools and a bunch of homes. It should feel like a quiet neighborhood street, not a collector.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

Agreed, but like SE 136th, it’s gonna be an expensive street to rebuild.

curly
curly
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

It is a neighborhood collector. There is a funded LTIC project which includes sidewalks and some stormwater management to improve 117th from Division to the 4M. https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/construction/division-midway-neighborhood-street-improvement-project. Sidewalks on the east side only.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago

Timur was a volunteer for tactical urbanist group Better Block PDX and was one of the leading organizers of their Better Naito pilot project that ultimately became the official City of Portland project that we all love riding on today.

Thanks for this work, Timur! Better Naito is indeed a fantastic project – I ride it every chance I get.

dw
dw
4 months ago

Overall, I like Timur’s ideas and positions. He seems like a fun guy who really cares about his community. Even though I’m not in his district, I’d love to see him get elected.

Surely we can recognize the irony in him NIMBYing new housing in East Portland while also saying he wants BRT on every arterial? East Portland does have a lot of diversity in culture, race, and income. At the same time, it is still mostly huge houses on huge lots. There needs to be some densification in order to support the kind of investments he wants to make.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

If you look at each of the 4 electoral districts, East Portland (District 1) is smaller (and thus more dense) than West Portland (District 4) and about the same overall density as NoPo/NEd (District 2). What’s different about East Portland is that all its high-density land use zoning is along arterial stroads, from the way the county developed the area in the 1950s-80s and the city subsequently rezoned the area after annexation, so most of those low-density large house lots tend to be away from the major stroads (with some exceptions such as along Glisan and on 162nd). The biggest challenge for increasing density is that the largest and most easily developable lands are large parks, schools, and profitable car dealerships.

IMO, a twin set of BRT lines, one on an east-west loop that includes Division and Stark, and another on 122nd and 82nd, would make perfect sense as both would then be tied into the Green and Blue MAX lines. It would also be helpful to eliminate the “numbers” at stations – give each BRT and MAX station community identity other than “122nd & Burnside”. call it “Hazelwood” instead, and so on.

El timito
El timito
4 months ago
Reply to  dw

It is a bit of a stretch to say Timur was “NIMBYing.” I heard him promoting support for affordable housing in the central city – arguably the best location to live carfree in Portland. Why should we leave that “luxury” just for those with above median income?
Not sure how much riding you do in East Portland but i see lots of multi family housing around many of the neighborhoods Timur is discussing. Parents and kids are there but the improvements are not (yet).

El timito
El timito
4 months ago

Great interview and great tour! Can’t wait to see Timur in city hall, again!
I have to offer amendment to a couple of points in the recording though:
– Awesome as it is, Outer Rim is *not* the only bike shop in East Portland. Bike Works by p:ear is an awesome shop at SE Stark and 141st, a great addition to Portland’s cadre of non profit bike shops.
– a HAWK signal is not a “suped up rapid flash beacon. ” The latter is there to alert drivers that a Pedestrian (or cyclist) is exercising their right-of- way…but does not require they stop if no one is present.
The HAWK is more like a suped up regular signal – it has more red lights! A motorist must stop and stay stopped.
Click my name for more wonky HAWK exegesis. End of rant.

Marty Ponnech
Marty Ponnech
4 months ago

As an East Portlander I hope we can vote in city council members who will work to bring about a city that can once again support retailers that we can ride our bikes and walk to in East Portland. We have lost Walmart, Kmart, RiteAids and some Targets plus a lot of small businesses. We need an environment where business feel there is safety and security—other we will still end up using the car to go to the suburbs for shopping. I now have to drive to the Wood Village Walmart to get my prescriptions. I used to ride my bike to the East Portland Walmart. Bike lanes are awesome but if there is nothing to ride to it’s not so great.