Tigard, Beaverton councilors face cycling conditions on policy ride

Ride Westside Policy Ride group photo at Beaverton Central MAX station. May 18th (Photos: Tina Ricks/BikePortland)

“Culturally, there’s a shift going on in Beaverton. A lot of people around metro Portland might think of Beaverton as the place where you go to Walmart or Target. But that old Beaverton is dead. We’re trying to build a new Beaverton where people can walk and bike. We’re building infrastructure for decades-long change.” 

That was Beaverton City Councilor John Dugger on May 18th at Ride Westside’s Beaverton Policy Ride on May 18th. Dugger and Beaverton City Councilor Kevin Teater led a ten-mile loop around the city and its neighborhoods, looking at the good, the bad, the ugly, and the improving not-so-ugly bike infrastructure in the city. Also on the ride were Tigard City Councilor Yi-Kang Hu and members of Ride Westside.

I was there (as one of the founding members of Ride Westside) and as we rode along I pondered a question that I hope was also on the councilors’ minds: What would it take to make Beaverton into a place where kids, families, and riders who don’t want to jockey with traffic could feel safe on bikes?

My neighbors in Beaverton want to bike. A few ride regularly, but most keep their bikes in the garage — behind the lawnmower, covered in dust. Sometimes they strap their bikes onto cars and drive to the Banks-Vernonia Trail or the Providence Bridge Pedal where they feel safe riding. When they come home, the bikes go back in the garage.

Let’s call them the Dusty Bike Constituency. And there are a lot of them. They like the idea of biking, but they don’t want to die on a 45 mph road with a stripe of paint for a bike lane.

So let’s go on a ride and see if we can find any keys to unlock cycling for these reluctant riders and everyone else who wants to go by bike in Washington County.

We started at the Beaverton Central MAX station outside City Hall.

Evelyn Schiffler Park (Photo: Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation Division)

First Stop: Evelyn Schiffler Park near Central Beaverton

We rode through downtown Beaverton, past Beaverton High School, to our first stop in Evelyn Schiffler Park. Like a lot of Beaverton parks, it’s criss-crossed with bike paths built and maintained by Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD).

Dugger sees the THPRD’s 70-mile path network as transportation. “The paths are critically important for the ten, twelve, and fifteen-year-olds who want to bike. We want to create a culture of cycling so it’s safe to go everywhere.”

It’s not just about ten-year-olds, it’s also about their parents. “We have to build trust with their parents through safety,” Dugger said. “I can go anywhere I want, mix in with cars, it doesn’t bother me. But for a lot of people, that’s terrifying. Creating safety for younger riders expands the pool of people of all ages who are willing to ride.”

Would the Dusty Bike Constituency ride this first stretch, from Beaverton Central MAX to Evelyn Schiffler Park? Probably. It’s mostly quiet streets, some off-street paths, and decent bike lanes.

Unimproved section of SW Stillwell Lane

Second Stop: The Missing 125th Street at SW Stillwell Lane

We continued on through suburban streets, and took a paved path at SW Stillwell Lane across a long narrow strip of wild land, right in the middle of Beaverton. It’s full of trees and shrubs, and an unexpected home for wildlife. “You can ride a bike through this, but only if you have a mountain bike or a gravel bike,” said Councilor Teater.

As we pedaled past, Dugger called out, “This space belongs to the city, and was never developed into a road. We don’t have any plans to do it, and the neighbors would flip their lids if we did.” (A neighbor called from his porch: “I hope they never do!”)

Dugger would love to see trails or park infrastructure in this undeveloped area, but it would take coordinating with THPRD. “Having these pockets of land will help a lot for our bike and pedestrian transportation vision,” he said.

Would the Dusty Bike Constituency ride from Evelyn Schiffler Park to SW Stillwell Lane? More than likely. Most of our way was on quiet streets with little traffic. If the 125th Street wild land became a bike corridor with paved paths, absolutely.

Beaverton rider Thom Drane and family.

Third Stop: Fanno Creek Trail at Greenway Park

We carried on through neighborhood streets to catch the Fanno Creek Trail at Greenway Park. This trail is a major connector (some of it is on the former Red Electric rail line) but it’s also known for flooding. Parts of the trail are seasonal, but the uptime when the trail is passable is in the high 90% these days. Teater said that’s been a priority for THRPD: “They’ve done a lot of work lately to make this happen.” 

Along the way, I chatted with one of the riders, Thom Drane. Thom has a Bullitt cargo bike that he modified himself, and lives in Central Beaverton, which he and his wife chose for its central location and bikeability. He regularly bikes one of his kids to preschool, about three miles each way.

Drane chose his route to preschool that doubles his time from ten minutes to twenty because it’s safer and has less traffic. “Beaverton and THPRD does a decent job of taking care of debris on roads and paths. If the community puts in this infrastructure, I want to make sure it gets used,” he shared.

How would the Dusty Bike Constituency feel about the Fanno Creek Trail? Great, when the trail isn’t under water. When the trail is flooded, the Dusty Bike Constituency would drive.

Pep talk before crossing Hwy 217 at Denney Road. (Photo: Ian Grant)

Fourth Stop: Fanno Creek Trail Crossing Hwy 217 at Denney Road

After our next stop, we rode through some seriously hairy road construction on the Denney Road bridge over 217. We only had a narrow twisty space to cross, but in the future it will be a wide multi-use path. 

Before we crossed 217, Teater mentioned that the engineering is complete to add a 12-foot shared bike and pedestrian path on the north side of Denney Road to Scholls Ferry Road where there currently are no bike lanes (or they are spotty). That will be a key connection and will close a gap in the Fanno Creek Trail.

Would the Dusty Bike Constituency ride across the Highway 217 crossing? When the bridge and sidewalk construction is finished, maybe, if these new lanes connect to where they want to go in a safe and protected way. Would they ride the protected Fanno Creek Trail? Absolutely.

Fifth Stop: Beaverton’s Industrial Area at SW Western and SW Fifth

Southwest Fifth Avenue is Beaverton’s industrial area, as well as a protected, slow, low-traffic street that is a major bike thoroughfare cyclists use to avoid Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. According to Dugger, the city worked with the businesses on Fifth to give them wider turn lanes for trucks and a slow-speed road that doesn’t attract more cars. 

Would the Dusty Bike Constituency ride on Fifth Avenue? Maybe, if they knew about it. The street felt wide and slow. Although the bike lanes are only paint, there’s just not that much traffic. 

On SW Watson at Canyon Rd (Hwy 8). (Photo: Ian Grant)

Sixth Stop: SW Millikan Way

The last part of our ride took us into the heart of Central Beaverton, where we crossed train tracks and two ODOT highways (Hwy 8/Canyon Road/Tualatin-Valley Highway, and Hwy 10/Farmington Road). These roads are, as Dugger calls them, “gashes across the heart of Beaverton.” They feel perilous and are wide, noisy, and full of cars. 

We stopped behind the Royal Manor apartments near SW Lombard where there’s a cycling connector from SW Lombard Avenue and the Beaverton Transit Center onto Millikan Way. The city is currently designing the SW Millikan Way Extension Project. The eventual plan for Millikan Way is to be a route into Central Beaverton, from the Tualatin Hills Nature Park all the way through Central Beaverton to Highway 217.

Dugger said the Millikan Way project will allow people to walk to the MAX station and make good on billions of regional light rail investments.

Would the Dusty Bike Constituency ride across two highways and train tracks to get to the Beaverton Transit Center? No. It was stressful even with a large group. But the future Beaverton Downtown Loop Project will help with this.

Last Stop: Beaverton Central MAX Station

We continued down the existing Millikan Way back to our start at Beaverton Central MAX station. In its current state, it’s narrow and twisty, with only sharrows for bikes. But it’s also an extremely low-traffic street, so it works.

Would the Dusty Bike Constituency ride on the new redesigned Millikan Way? If it’s anything like the designs in the plans, absolutely. But only if Millikan connects to where they want to go, and doesn’t become another stop-and-start series of disconnected bikeways.

Dugger and Teater have high hopes for the future of Beaverton, based in part on the ride itself. “The fact that we had two Beaverton City Councilors and a Tigard City Councilor doing a policy ride on bikes is a small earthquake,” Dugger said, as he shared that even more local elected officials wanted to come but couldn’t make it.

Teater wants to shift local transportation dialogues away from talking about car parking and toward accessibility. “How are people accessing the places they want to go? These conversations are not just about riding bikes. How is our community connecting with itself?,” is how he put it.

I hope Dugger and Teater are right. I want to live in that Beaverton that they’re building. And maybe some of those bikes in my neighbors’ garages will get dusted off more often.

Tina Ricks (Contributor)

Tina Ricks (Contributor)

Tina is a founding member of Ride Westside and BikePortland's Washington County correspondent.

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Fred
Fred
1 month ago

Let’s call them the Dusty Bike Constituency. And there are a lot of them. They like the idea of biking, but they don’t want to die on a 45 mph road with a stripe of paint for a bike lane.

This thesis has “face” validity but I just don’t think it’s true. Most people drive b/c it’s just easier, and people always gravitate to what is easiest.

Then again, I grew up 100 years ago, in a world that had NO, ZERO, NADA bike infra of any kind. We were happy to have a shoulder to ride on – the shoulders that later became bike lanes in many places.

I think that if you want to ride a bike in your neighborhood, you’ll find a way, unless you were conditioned to think that you must be 100% safe in all situations.

Rachel P
Rachel P
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

I can definitely ride my bike in my neighborhood. The rub comes in when I want to go shopping, take my kids to get ice cream or go anywhere that’s not in a residential area. Once I want to go somewhere new, I’m bogged down in trying to find a new route, weighing pros and cons, and wondering “am I being irresponsible for trying to make this 1 mile trip by bike?”

I’m not in the dusty bike club, I ride almost every weekday to get my kids to school. But there are plenty of places I won’t go on a bike with them because it’s not worth the risk, which is personally disappointing and globally a disaster when you add up all the car trips that becomes.

Tina Ricks (Contributor)
Tina Ricks
1 month ago
Reply to  Rachel P

Agreed! I bike in a lot of places, and I locate convoluted not-direct routes to get from place to place, because the route I’d normally drive is just too terrifying on a bike. So we end up with driving as the default, even for short trips, because biking just isn’t safe.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tina Ricks

I hope you don’t mind my replies. I’d like to try a traffic calming device.
Experimentally at first but if it works it could remain in place and hopefully tried elsewhere with many successful re-ordering of (5) stoplight intersections along a 1-mile busy traffic corridor street. TACTIC:
Switch stoplights to 4-way Flashing Red with adequate signage to direct motorists more carefully to a stop & proceed. Hope you like my idear heer.

Tina Ricks (Contributor)
Tina Ricks
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Cars are generally 100% safe in most situations. Making biking an easier option would entice more people who are currently not comfortable riding in a lot of places in and around Beaverton. Because we didn’t have good bike infrastructure in the past doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it in the future.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tina Ricks

My fleet of folding bikes 3 with 20″ rims, 2 with 16″ & 18″ rims in Oct 2011 pre-ordered a 30-day 12-boardings. Portland west to Portland east and back. Unpack my folder and ride away wherever a rail station pleasant place to seek lodging with dinner entre.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tina Ricks

to finish my previous study of folding bikes, technically considered “sidewalk bikes” so slowly they pass bi-peds and 4-legged: Don’t you ever ask them why… but just look at them and sigh… and know they love you.
We gotta stop driving our damn cars everywhere all the time.

 
 
1 month ago

A lot of people around metro Portland might think of Beaverton as the place where you go to Walmart or Target

Anyone who still has the perception that Beaverton is a cookie-cutter suburb has clearly never been to the downtown area of Beaverton for over a decade. Despite its densification and growth it still somehow has remained the metro area’s best-kept secret, and I’m ok with that.

Tina Ricks (Contributor)
Tina Ricks
1 month ago
Reply to   

Downtown Beaverton is turning into a gem, right on the MAX line. I love it.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tina Ricks

MAX should extend alongside where WES and P&W freight line benefits significant reduced traffic hazards. MAX on Hwy 99W was WRONG.

John D
John D
1 month ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

Why not both? In an ideal world (see, any other developed country) there would be high quality transit options going from the city center out radially (like from Portland to Tigard), and orbital lines connecting different parts of the suburbs (like Beaverton to Tigard). Both are important for making useful connections, and are needed for people to be able to reduce auto dependency.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  John D

John D, I can see and admit your concern, addressed with rail design. *** Moderator: deleted last couple of sentences of elected-official bashing. ***

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  John D

The difference then is urban/environmental impact Hwy 99W verses WES corridor from Beaverton to Tigard Tualatin proper Wilsonville rail to Salem Albany Corvallis.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to   

Is it a best kept secret? The traffic is downright oppressive in the afternoons, basically every day now. The downtown suffers from being a bit disjointed with the best transit service being on the north end, the historic downtown getting trapped between 2 very congested, unsafe stroads, and the quieter “inner suburb” type downtown sitting to the south.

If you look at a satellite view of “downtown” Beaverton, it is still 80% pavement, and it feels like it as a pedestrian.

Erik
Erik
1 month ago

Dusty bike constituency. Can you be more condescending. Yes, As a 20+ year Beaverton cyclist and cycle commuter, I understand that I must submit to BPs vastly superior knowledge of everything bike related. Thank the lord above that you are here finally to show me and all of Beaverton the light. Please next tell me how I’m dressed wrong or not riding the cool bikes that the ascended ones of BP wear and ride.
Bunch of self-important wankers.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Erik

Hi Erik?

I don’t understand where your comment is coming from. How exactly is the framing of people who don’t bike much and what it will take to get out on the streets so offensive you as an experienced rider? I’d really like to know where your feelings are coming from and how this is condescending to you. Thanks.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

Actually, I can pretty easily see where Erik is coming from.

Do you remember Roger Geller’s 4 classes of cyclists?

1) Strong and Fearless: People willing to bicycle with limited or no bicycle-specific infrastructure

2) Enthused and Confident: People willing to bicycle if some bicycle-specific infrastructure is in place

3) Interested but Concerned: People willing to bicycle if high-quality bicycle infrastructure is in place

4) No Way, No How: People unwilling to bicycle even if high-quality bicycle infrastructure is in place

As far as I can tell, BP pretty much caters specifically to group #2, people who bike a lot, who want better infrastructure and who complain an awful lot, with very few willing to do something about it other than periodically participate in community rides. Most members of group #1 don’t participate in BP discussions, and anyway there aren’t as many of them in the first place. This article refers a “Dusty Bike Constituency” which is clearly part of group #3, some of whom consider themselves avid cyclists for many decades, likely around 25% of the US population, just not as fearless nor as bicycling-active as the first two groups, but certainly in the forefront of advocacy (most advocates and city officials who bike that I know come from group #3). From the perspective of the 70% who don’t own a bicycle, all the people in the first 3 groups are “bike nuts”, people who are crazy enough to get on a bike, but I agree with Erik, when I talk with many from groups 1 & 2, they often have a very condescending way of talking about advocates and city officials who don’t ride as much as them (and often only a few rides a year), let alone the community biking population at large. If you want to see actual change and a 25% mode share split, you pretty much have to cater to the “Dusty Bike Constituency” and speak of them in respectful tones rather than calling them insulting names.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

My, what a lengthy non read response.
Oh what a diatribe so be rehearsed.

Jim Calhoon
Jim Calhoon
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Insulting name (Dusty Bike Constituency), I guess what they say “The truth hurts). Who are we kidding nobody in that group is reading these articles or comments. Because of medical issues over the last year my bikes were getting very dusty. So I guess I could be part of the group and I am not offended. I am just getting out to ride now.

Looking at the 4 classes of riders even at 64 I still consider myself in the #1 group (Fearless at least). I owe this to the fact that my first bike commutes were in Phoenix in 1980. Then Silicon Valley 1983 – 1987. Scappoose to St Helens in the 1990s and some in the 2000s. Then my job changed where riding a bike to work is not an option. Non of my commutes had any kind of bike infrastructure and my routs were on busy streets with cars at high speeds. Now I hold nothing against the other 3 groups. While I do not have the same fears as they do, I do understand the want for safer riding.

Tina Ricks (Contributor)
Tina Ricks
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik

Hi there–I’m also a 25+ year Beaverton/Aloha/Bethany resident. I’m decidedly not cool and riding a strikingly ordinary bike. And the Dusty Bike Constituency was me until 5 years ago, and it’s a lot of my neighbors and family members. Bike commuters and regular riders (like you, and like I’ve become) are generally fairly thin on the ground because it takes a lot of courage and guts to jockey with traffic around Washington County. We don’t make it easy. If we want more people who currently don’t bike much, to bike because it’s easy and feels safe, we have a long way to go.

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tina Ricks

Idea for a SELF-DRIVING scooter: Scooter recognizes cement sidewalk where they are programmed to slow down to a walking speed.

Bicycle ways cannot reach full potential until car traffic is minimized.
The EV with the most potential to rein in traffic is Plug-in Hybrid.
PHEV is especially applicable to long haul freight truck fleets.
Divest Daimler Truck Division

Art Lewellan
Art Lewellan
1 month ago
Reply to  Art Lewellan

Force Daimler, Tesla, Volvo Truck Divisions to
(retool for PHEV+H Plug-in Hybrid) especially long haul
and utility class trucking. PHEV+H combustible hydrogen
ICEngine doubling effective MPG possible with fuel cell EV.
=DIVEST DAIMLER= for good reason.

John D
John D
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik

Did we read the same article?

It was pretty clear that it was not condescending or telling someone how they should ride. It was lementing the fact that the built infrastructure in much of Beaverton (and Washington County) does not provide many places where many people feel comfortable riding, meaning that they ride less then they would like to.

Tina, I’m so happy to have more coverage of the Westside. Keep it up!

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik

Sir, this is a Wendy’s.

MarkM
1 month ago

Thanks, Tina. The timing of your article is perfect! I just forwarded it to one of my daughters-in-law, who lives in Beaverton. I know that she and my son are eager to explore Beaverton on bike (on my wife’s vintage Bianchi that she is passing on to her).

Tina Ricks (Contributor)
Tina Ricks
1 month ago
Reply to  MarkM

Ask her to check out ridewestside.org for some community rides, or Westside Wednesday (on Shift2bikes.org) for a faster group.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

I wish my city council was so interested in learning about the difficulties experienced by bicyclists and pedestrians. But almost all are conservative and ideologically committed to auto dependent transportation. Some may talk a decent game but their actions reveal their beliefs.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike

How are political philosophy and preferred mode of transportation related?

Al
Al
1 month ago

Good to see this. Almost all of these paths and intersections have been on my daily commutes. I used to cross hwy 8 and 10 (I will not cross 10 at Lombard with its magical dissappearing bike lane, but I do cross 8 there) daily and now traverse the mess at Denny and 217 almost daily, and it’s worse, often in unnecesary ways related to placement of construction barriers.
I am happy to hear them talk about the 125th corridor and hope the also talk about its northern end at barberry and green lane as well as a Hall crossing at Green lane.

Free-agent
Free-agent
1 month ago

This article is spot-on with what I have observed and noted from others during conversations, including my high school students. I recently moved to South Beaverton after having lived in inner SE Portland for almost 25 years. I see many people riding trails like the Fanno Creek Trail (we live two blocks away), but far less on actual streets. I see people often park their cars and pull their bikes off to ride them, rather than ride to them. I am hopeful for the future based on what I have observed over the past two years.
One positive I have noticed is that drivers are much more respectful here. I rarely encounter angry drivers,
One critique I have is the serious lack of off-road riding opportunities; it’s far worse than Portland and that’s saying something. The city is really missing out on having off-road opportunities sprinkled throughout the community that riders of all ages can access by paved trails and bike routes. There are plenty of areas around the city for things like skills parks, and other spaces that would make for linear off-road opportunities for riders of all ability levels (adjacent to the Westside Trail comes to mind). There is basically one place to ride off-road, Eichler Park, and it is in major need of an upgrade. I skimmed the most recent Tualatin Parks Trail Plan and it seems like mountain biking hadn’t yet to be invented when writing it.

rick
rick
1 month ago

Beaverton’s $10 million dollar Millikan project is a waste of tax dollars. There already is a concrete path on Millikan that connects directly to Lombard.

Al
Al
1 month ago
Reply to  rick

It’s a nice path. I suspect they will keep it. It’s what happens west of Hall that is at issue, I suspect. There are some decent North south streets though central Beaverton (with fairly crummy crossings of 8 and 10), but a usable east west street that doesnt END is tougher.
As much as I enjoy bicycle crazy-quilt hopscotch (implied eyeroll), more connectivity makes the whole system more usable. I cannot tell you how much easier my commute became when bicycle singnalling at one critical intesrsection was fixed. It doesn’t always take enormous projects, but routes that actually work help everyone.
I was teaching my tween to bike on regular streets last year and it was an experience. I wiĺl not rake her on all my routes, not yet, and some of my routes are only reasonable at 6 AM. That can’t be the norm if we want to make bicycles feel accessible as transportation.

dw
dw
1 month ago

Great article! I think getting more folks in the suburbs biking regularly will really help to serve the urban core by reinforcing that cycling is a practical and enjoyable way to get around. Whenever I go out to Beaverton I’m always struck by how quickly I can get places on a bike from MAX. More safe routes to MAX stops! Especially post red line extension.