What would 40 Portland political candidates do to boost bicycling?

If it’s possible to reach our bicycling goal, how exactly should we do it? (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

NOTE: The answers shared in this post have been highly edited for brevity. Please read the full responses at Bike Loud’s website.

Local bike advocacy nonprofit BikeLoud PDX asked all City of Portland candidates* to answer eight questions gleaned from their members. The first question, “How would you work to increase the bike mode share?” was answered by 40 candidates, including four mayoral hopefuls.

Here’s the full question:

The City’s stated goal is that 25% of trips be made by bicycle by 2030, but we are currently far short of that goal. How would you work to increase the bike mode-share?

I’ve gone through the submissions and pulled out 1-2 particularly salient sentences from each candidate. The very abbreviated (in most cases) answers below are based on what I personally found to be the most interesting/notable/newsworthy parts of their responses. (For the full answers, visit BikeLoud’s website). I’ve also shared photos of each candidate in the order their responses were shared. The photos were taken from the Rose City Reform candidate tracker.

City Council District 1

Timur Ender

I would continue to champion popular programs… this includes a mix of aggressive support for PBOT’s transportation wallet, neighborhood greenways, protected bike lane infrastructure investments, street lighting, Sunday Parkways, and expanding Biketown to cover the entirety of East Portland… I would work to address housing affordability and production which I believe is key to increasing mode share.

Sonja Mckenzie

I would recommend more bike parking infrastructure for bikes in addition to better traffic signaling for bikes/pedestrians.

Steph Routh

Right now, people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving. That’s the work before us. To build true choice into our transportation system.

David Linn

Much of the outer city was designed for cars and we have not done a good enough job of extending the bike and bus routes that the inner parts of the city have. Continued efforts to slow down cars will help.

City Council District 2

Elana Pirtle-Guiney

When biking feels easier than driving we will get more people out of their cars.

Christopher Olson

I would look to a city like Paris that has seen an increase in biking since investing in bike infrastructure.

Nat West

I don’t think we will hit 25% by 2030. That is too aggressive and may create burnout among policymakers since it appears impossible. I would advocate for adjusting that number to rolling goals based on a combination of aspiration/vision and reality.

Michelle DePass

…the real meat is in bringing people along, and making cycling more accessible, rather than more elitist. The gap between those who cycle, and those who don’t could be explained in terms of race and income; we have the data to prove it.

Debbie Kitchin

We need more connectivity in bike routes because having 2/3 of the trip feel safe but harrowing sections in between safe areas absolutely discourages more biking.

Mariah Hudson

Let’s prioritize early engagement by ensuring every child has access to bikes and learns safe riding practices. Safe riding is just as important as swim lessons.

Jonathan Tasini

Along with physical investments… the city must invest by partnering with community members and organizations to expand effective and culturally relevant bicycle programming and services. The only way to meet the goal of 25% of trips is to make bike ridership reflect Portland.

Mike Marshall

Use PCEF funds to provide subsidies for bike purchases.

Laura Streib

Accessibility programs for free/reduced cost bikes and e-bikes.

Will Mespelt

If people feel safe riding their bikes and simple quick routes exist, they will see the benefits to riding a bike.

City Council District 3

Tiffany Koyama Lane

I would bring attention to and personally participate in powerful organizing tools like Bike Buses, bike events and Bike Happy Hours to draw attention to groups who are fighting for safer streets.

Rex Burkholder

Create parking fee districts to reduce traffic in business districts… expect our elected leaders to lead by example and ride their bikes, walk or take transit!

Theo Hathaway Saner

Ensure that bike lanes and paths connect key areas of the city, such as residential neighborhoods, business districts, schools, and public transit hubs.

Daniel Gilk

The city is happy to implement easy wins for bike transit but hesitant to make tough decisions that might impact car travel. We need to start thinking bigger, which likely means repurposing existing space dedicated to cars for the use of cyclists and pedestrians.

Angelita Morillo

Work towards a bike lane going down Sandy Boulevard. As an obligate transit user, I know how critical these investments can be in our communities towards making our communities more livable, more person-oriented, and more safe.

Jonathan Walker

We need to increase our investment in true protected bike lanes. We need to make it so people feel they can safely travel nearly anywhere in Portland on a bike without fear of cars.

Matthew Thomas Anderson

Improve the road surface.

Daniel DeMelo

To hit the 25% goal by 2030, we need to target an even higher mode-share during the summer months, possibly around 50%, to balance out the winter drop-off. We’ll make winter cycling more appealing by improving bike lane maintenance and implementing weather-resistant infrastructure, ensuring that cycling remains a viable option year-round.

Philippe Knab

To increase the bike mode-share in Portland, I would advocate for the expansion of protected bike lanes and safe bike infrastructure to ensure cyclists feel secure on the roads.

Sandeep Bali

I’d like to champion bike riding in our city but find a healthy balance between biking and car transport. Sometimes one just needs a car, others one needs a nice bike ride.

Jesse Cornett

Specific actions to be considered include enhancing bikeways, lowering speed limits, creating more buffered bike lanes, public awareness campaigns that highlight the benefits of cycling both on the rider and the community, adding more bike-friendly traffic signals, and incentivizing builders to invest in more secure bike parking and business to have amenities such as showers will all work to increase the bike mode share in Portland.

Chris Flanary

I would push the thoughtful, researched and community approved solutions proposed in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. I’d love to pilot a free bike share program.

Council – District 4

Mike DiNapoli

Reboot Trimet’s Fareless Rail downtown.

Olivia Clark

More traffic calming efforts and dedicated bike lanes.

Ben Hufford

What Portland lacks is follow-through and commitment to getting things done. A five-foot bike lane on a major traffic collector, with blackberries and trash and gravel is NOT a bike centered infrastructure, it is checking a box.

Chad Lykins

Affordability: The market is driving down the price of entry-level bikes and ebikes. Low-cost and no-cost bike-share programs can also be expanded to cover more neighborhoods. We should also have well-lit, secure storage next to bus and train stops to encourage multi-modal transit.

Sarah Strawberry Silkie

…. increasing access to e-bikes for people with physical limitations.

Michael Trimble

I want to double down on fining cars parked in bike lanes and reinstate the street cleaners to keep the bike lanes clean and free of tire puncturing debris. In addition to lowering the costs of bike ownership, I will work with TriMet on fare free transit for all cyclists bringing their bikes on board.

Eli Arnold

I believe improving road safety, improving the public perception of safety on Trimet, and looking for new routes which separate bikes from vehicular traffic is key.

Andra Vltavín

First, we need to streamline zoning and permitting to make it more possible to have a walkable/bikeable city.

Eric Zimmerman

Riding a bike regularly shouldn’t require advanced knowledge of the various types of bike lanes, signage, and bike friendly streets vs non-friendly. I think making the choice to ride a bike in Portland has got to be easy to understand and common across neighborhoods if we are going to see more people make a choice to ride instead of drive.

Lisa Freeman

I would seek funding for the projects identified in the SW and NW In Motion plans for short term solutions to safety and stress reduction for bikers and walkers.

Bob Weinstein

Increase bicycle parking and end-of-trip facilities. Improve integration with public transit.

Mayor

Liv Osthus

As Mayor, I will encourage council to advocate for their neighborhoods (particularly in east Portland) for safer bike avenues.

Durrell Javon Kinsey Bey

One thing for sure is I would like to assist with providing all Youth from at least 3rd grade to 12th with an e-bike or regular bike of their choice.

Keith Wilson

I want to prioritize accommodating e-bikes in all forms of public transit and double TriMet ridership by 2030. Bicyclists will prioritize other transportation options when facing routes blocked with tents, unregistered cars, and derelict RVs. We must end unsheltered homelessness in Portland, which I will do within the first twelve months of taking office.

Carmen Rubio

Prioritize the identify routes in high-need areas that have capacity to serve the most potential new riders and set public timelines for development – for transparency and consistency for the public. We also need the state to look at creating a [e-bike purchase subsidy] program and to sufficiently resource it. I would want the City’s legislative agenda to include lobbying the governor and legislature for such a program.


BikeLoud will post more responses in the weeks to come. If this summary was useful to you, let me know and I’ll consider posting the same thing for the rest of the questions.

*BikeLoud sent the questionnaire to all candidates that had filed a letter of intent as of May 27th.

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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Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago

Routh: Most people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving.

Such a bad take. The overwhelming majority of people in rich and incredibly well-resourced inner Portland can, in fact, choose something other than driving, they just don’t want to*. This kind of car-centrism is not surprising from a liberterian “free”-market candidate.

* jerks

Wooster
Wooster
1 month ago

Steph Routh is running in the East Portland district, not the “rich and incredibly well-resourced inner Portland.” So I think she’s speaking from that perspective. And it’s actually true, especially in East Portland and SW Portland but also even in inner areas, Portland is so spread out that it’s very rare to have everything you want or need in walking or biking distance, and our public transit system is not very frequent or convenient. So I think she’s on to something. The question is, what to do about it?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

I just don’t buy this take. I live in SW and I bike everywhere, so it is possible to bike. And as people who read my comments are probably tired of hearing, it’s soooo much easier to bike, even in SW, than it was for all of my growing up and then most of my adult life on the East Coast. In other words, hard as it is to bike in SW currently, it’s still 100X easier than many other places.

The starting point for many cycling advocates is that cycling needs to be made 1000% “safe” before most people will ever attempt it, and I think that’s the premise that needs robust discussion and questioning.

eawriste
eawriste
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

And that “robust discussion and questioning” is called research. There is no dearth of research out there on the basic barriers to cycling. I hear you, residential streets are a lot easier for some compared to cities on the East Coast. But if you want to move the “interested but concerned” needle (and increase mode share), infrastructure needs to be separated and connected through a functional network. If you want to read research on this I can copy. But the evidence is overwhelming. It’s odd to hear this perspective in Portland and go to NYC and most cities in Europe where the majority of council members simply accept this now. Really this isn’t anywhere near debatable in a lot of places, but in the US it’s still seems to be question.

It’s important to question the popular cycling mindset that since “I” feel ok/confident on a bike, everyone else should too, right? Figuring out that empthy is a huge leap in understanding why people do not bike. Reinforcing it with evidence is the second step.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

If one were a cynic (and I tend to be), one could say that feeling “ok/confident on a bike” is beside the point for most people. They are comfortable driving a car – and in fact they *LOVE* driving a car – so why would they ever change?

I do agree that of course our bike infra should be as good as, or better than, our car/truck infra. But even then we wouldn’t get to 30% mode share b/c people don’t wanna. I’m more of the mindset that we should position cycling as something that is hard to do and then reward people for taking on something hard.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

It’s not just about bicycling. Any question having to do with “mode-share” as defined by the US census American Community Survey is about how we as individuals get to work, not recreational bike rides, not errands, not special bike events and Ladds Circle loops and Bridge Pedals. A “25% bike mode share” doesn’t include those who are unemployed or not able to be employed (elderly, children, some disabled), nor the increasing percentage who work from home now, nor regular transit users, nor people who usually walk to work, nor car drivers; but given all those other mode shares, a 25% bike mode share = 75% not-bike minus 15% public trans minus 20% work from home minus 5% walk minus 10% rideshare = 25% SOV use. That’s a huge change.

To achieve a maximum 25% SOV mode share, huge changes to land use and transportation must take place – massive on-street parking bans and pricing, congestion and transportation demand management, diverters pretty much all over the place but particularly between neighborhoods, much more frequent transit, and so on. But the biggest changes will be in land use – a total ban on SFR and even medium density uses, much more housing near job centers, prioritizing protected bike lanes to employment and business centers (and not just downtown), and so on.

So the candidates who gave long answers about jobs and housing clearly put more thought into the question than the others, in my opinion.

eawriste
eawriste
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Thanks David. As you probably know there was a somewhat recent ban on requiring SFR in Oregon, which is a step in the right direction. The zoning codes in Portland are a major driver for limiting tax income, supply of housing, etc. You’re right. Portland needs a massive re-simplification of its codes to allow for mixed use, and to limit dead areas like parking lots, just to name a couple. The current density zoning in Portland is vastly over-represented by R5, which is a huge problem. This venn diagram sums up this problem pretty succinctly.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
29 days ago
Reply to  eawriste

My current community has low density and stable services, and so our taxes are a bit high, including high property taxes and sales taxes; we even have a special (highly progressive) property tax levee to pay for transit service and a (highly regressive) 2% sales tax on food to pay for freeways. Obviously not Oregon.

robert wallis
robert wallis
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

You totally nailed it regarding the safety-starting point. Most people like you who bike a lot, or walk a lot, have a different perspective on safety that those who do not. To get better bike/ped infrastructure, more “newbies” need to start biking. Safety is what is holding them back (infrastructure deficiencies plus policing deficiencies). .

Starting point – safety. Then – more voters. Then – the right elected officials. Then – long overdue fixing the antiquated 100-year old car-centric transportation system.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

Steph Routh is running in the East Portland district…

She doesn’t really need to worry about SW, inner Portland, the city at large, or downtown to get elected, just her district, which really is car-centric, with a terrible disjointed bike, pedestrian, and transit network. As long as the other parts of the city get a 50% bike mode share by 2030, sparsely-populated SW and dense East Portland need no more than a 10% mode share.

X
X
29 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

This is a good point. Steph Routh’s active transportation bona fides are beyond category and it doesn’t really serve her to talk about that because as you say, she has to get elected in her district before we can count on her very solid vote for stuff Portland needed 20 years ago.

I don’t need to see a picture of Steph on a bike, that’s a waste of bandwidth.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Wooster

For the record, I have repeatedly and ad nauseam critiqued cycling enthusiasts for their disparagement of people who live in areas that do not have good transportation options (often because they have been economically displaced from bougie inner Portland). I have also repeatedly and emphatically criticized the crypto-fascist-utopianism of YIMBYism that focuses on density in bougie city cores as if this were some magical solution for our racist/classist built environment.

I simply don’t think it’s possible to solve our racist and classist built environment without first providing people who are not fortunate enough to live in the “elite” inner city decent transportation options on a TRANSITIONAL basis (e.g. deeply subsidized EV ride share for lower-income households, and deeply subsidized EVs for low-income households. For this very reason mt original comment specifically referred to “people in rich and incredibly well-resourced inner Portland”, and not to people living in the economicall-neglected and resource-poor periphery (e.g. outer E. Portland).

And finally, Ms Routh in no way referred to East Portland in her incredibly general and “cerebral” response, which you, apparently, did not bother to read before responding to my comment:

Individuals and families make life decisions based on the choices available to them. Right now, most people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving. That’s the work before us. To build true choice into our transportation system.

Last year, I served on the Transportation Decarbonization Roundtable. In that role, I advocated for a number of programs that I believe will shift our mode-share: e-bike rebate program (including cargo e-bikes), car-sharing investments, and expansion of the Transportation Wallet, a program that offers incentives for multi-modal transportation and is administered by the City, as a few examples. I would work to support implementation of those programs.

cct
cct
1 month ago

I simply don’t think it’s possible to solve our racist and classist built environment without first providing people who are not fortunate enough to live in the “elite” inner city decent transportation options on a TRANSITIONAL basis

We agree on that, and it was part of why PBOT didn’t put the bike route on Hawthorne: it slowed the buses bringing those outer-east workers to service jobs downtown and inner east. Something like 30 seconds or 1 minute, so i do not know that it was materially necessary to avoid that small delay or just virtue-signalling. Workers in California and other states often face 2 – 3 hour commutes, so i do not know that giving them EVs helps because they are still in traffic; a reliable bus or rail service that actually shaves real time off the commute is needed.

If you build 15-minute-towns out there, you may just gentrify the area and force people out further again. I guess the upside would be they are having a shorter commute to those new clusters?

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
29 days ago
Reply to  cct

you may just gentrify the area and force people out further again.

I don’t think this cycle of despair can be fixed in the context of capitalism (or zoning reform).

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago

As just a sort of fact check–with regard to Multnomah maybe this dyanmic is in play but I’d encourage you to look at craigslist apartments for rent which displays an average listing price by county–Clackamas and Washington county are 200 higher than Multnomah.

It can be easy to silo ones impressions of society but many people simply don’t want to live in inner portland, and are not priced out. For one thing, if you swing more centrist its tiring to have all your neighbors be far left.

Jobs in Portland metro are increasingly in the suburbs, more appealing, less politicized schools for those with children are in the suburbs, people who live with kids to play with your kids are in the suburbs.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
29 days ago
Reply to  donel courtney

but I’d encourage you to look at craigslist apartments for rent which displays an average listing price by county–Clackamas and Washington county are 200 higher than Multnomah.

People who are being displaced from bougie Portland are moving to “communities of concern”, not to fancy condos in Beaverton. Their landlords are almost always amoral slumlords who refuse to address basic habitability and safety issues and have no websites with glossy video walkthroughs of condos* with granite counters, stainless steel appliances, and expansive open pergo floorplans. They are also often renting small/modest homes or rooms where they live as multi-generational households because this is the only way they as a family can afford to live in this capitalist hell hole.

* a pejorative to describe luxury apartments AND condos that rich renters live in

PS
PS
28 days ago

And these people displaced to communities of concern to live in multi-generational households with amoral slumlords are going to park five subsidized Teslas in front subsidized by the people living in the condos* downtown?

*a word to describe the housing situation of people doing subsidizing until they realize that their quality of life improves immediately by moving 10-15 miles in any direction.

eawriste
eawriste
1 month ago

In East Portland it’s simply a fact, so it’s hard to know much from this statement. I think the next question I hope someone would ask her is: “To that end, i.e., allowing people another transportation option other than driving, do you support building protected bike lanes on roads such as 122nd and the
Stark/Weidler couplet?” Her answers to those type of questions would be more helpful.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

It’s probably important to come at the problem from multiple angles. Better infrastructure is important and I’m sure there is research showing it is important.

But that doesn’t counter the argument that it is simply untrue that “Most people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving.” They can realistically choose cycling (well, depending on commute distances which I’m not sure about). So in addition to making it appear safer to bike, how do we actually prompt people to do it? They absolutely could be doing it today. It would be easy, but people are in their routines and guided by doing what everyone else does (drive). How does that change? I don’t think making it appear safer is going to be enough. Part of the solution probably involves not having candidates who say “Most people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving.”

eawriste
eawriste
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

They can realistically choose horse riding (well, depending on commute distances which I’m not sure about). So in addition to making it appear safer to ride a horse, how do we actually prompt people to do it?

The above might be a helpful exercise in empathizing somewhat about the enormous barriers involved in getting people to ride bikes to work, particularly in East Portland. People could ride horses to work, but what barriers exist to make that a feasible or probable choice?

I grew up on E 122nd. No one I knew rode a bike on it. I see the occasional bike on the sidewalk. Luckily the Springwater and Powell Butte were somewhat close. If there were protected bike lanes on E 122nd, I would have been more likely to travel by bike to the Safeway, school etc. How would that have changed my perspective (and others in East Portland) on bikes when I grew up?

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

They can realistically choose horse riding

No they can’t. I know it was meant to be hyperbole, but no they can’t. Bikes are accessible. Horses are not. Horses are extremely expensive, inconvenient to store, extremely maintenance heavy, require a ton of space. Bikes have none of these problems.

This isn’t a useful exercise in anything.

Don’t ride on 122nd. This is like saying “I lived by interstate 84. Nobody rode a bike on it.” Yeah don’t ride your bike there, but the city is made up of more than one road.

We need to fix those. 122nd should have concrete bike lane protection of some sort. That should be a high priority fix. But not everyone lives out there. My main point is that highlighting the places where we legitimately need some improvement isn’t sufficient to explain the extremely low cycling rates in the places where we do have good infrastructure, nor does it give any validity to the blanket statement “Most people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving.” Most people can, even if “most” is only 51% of people.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

My main point is that highlighting the places where we legitimately need some improvement isn’t sufficient to explain the extremely low cycling rates in the places where we do have good infrastructure

Amen to that, brother.

Also, there is a difference between “realistically can” and “is a good option”. I absolutely can take TriMet to Hollywood, but it will always be my last choice.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Amen to that, brother.

Oh no, I must have made some mistake.

I kid.

I should clarify though, I’m using those interchangeably. I think for people with a relatively short commute (and there are a lot of them here!) in a lot of Portland, cycling is both realistic and a good option. And I wonder what we can do to get those numbers up.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Where we differ is on who gets to define “realistic” and “good”. Those are subjective evaluations that each of us gets to make for ourselves, not specific criteria that you get to define for everyone.

I wonder what we can do to get those numbers up.

What did we do to increase cycling rates when they were climbing so rapidly? Not much.

Some things cannot be forced.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Everyone decides what is good for themselves, but if you think something is good, you want other people to think it is good too. Otherwise, what do words even mean?

Things (like cycling numbers or global temperatures) will fluctuate randomly on their own without any outside influence. That doesn’t mean outside influence can’t also cause changes. Almost anything can be influenced, we live in a universe of cause and effects, human minds are not outside of the universe.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

That doesn’t mean outside influence can’t also cause changes.

It probably can. But Portland’s history with cycling shows that we haven’t yet figured out how to do it.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Oh, Watts – you always revert to the status quo. When John V says, “I wonder what we can do to get those numbers up,” that’s what we should be talking about.

I’m a cynic so I’ve come to think that nothing short of a major catastrophe like the disappearance of oil supplies would bring about a major shift. Or a national shaming campaign (okay – maybe not that, though I think we could do much more to examine how culture influences transpo habits).

I was out on my daily ride yesterday, when I do all of my best thinking, and I decided I’d like to hear a candidate promise to work toward two goals:

  1. Close the gaps in cycling infra; and
  2. Make sure every bit of cycling infra is well-maintained and clean as a whistle at all times.

Just think how huge #2 would be, but #1 would be especially amazing: no more do bike lanes just disappear! It would be transformative and I can think of few things CoP gov’t could do to increase cyclists’ confidence.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

What can we do to increase bike riding? We ran the experiment, and learned that building infrastructure is neither necessary nor sufficient. Enforce traffic laws? Maybe, but people stopped riding while we were still enforcing. Paying people to ride might work, but is politically infeasible.

The fact of the matter is Americans don’t really like bike riding as a form of transportation. We have no idea why it became anomalously popular in Portland for a decade, nor why the trend suddenly reversed itself. We don’t understand why the popularity of a lot of things waxes and wanes.

I’m all in favor of closing gaps and keeping lanes swept. 100% in favor. But I don’t think either (or both) of those things will significantly move the needle on cycling rates.

In other words, I am 100% in favor of changing the status quo, and pretty sure that the same handful of ideas people like to talk about won’t do it.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

PBOT loves experiments.
Take a street, Division, Burnside, Sandy, something . . . make a completely protected (with concrete, not plastic, not paint) bike lane from let’s say 122nd to downtown.
Do bike counts, and we know PBOT loves to count things, and see if the use of it increases, stays same, or decreases over time of say a year.
If that doesn’t show an increase from citizens then this town has no hope of getting people onto bikes at all, ever.

X
X
29 days ago
Reply to  Watts

“…building infrastructure is neither necessary nor sufficient.”

Infrastructure is not necessary? What’s a flush toilet with no pipes?

How do we know that good infrastructure is not sufficient in a place where infrastructure is aspirational at best? On one ride that I regularly make there are multiple locations with a 36″ striped bike lane next to parked cars. For example, NE 47th S bound from Sandy to the I-84 overpass. That’s a stroll in a Clackamas County gravel pit at 1 PM on a Saturday. It’s your toilet with a 2″ OD soil pipe. It’s not a facility of a caliber that supports your point about sufficient infrastructure.

Watts
Watts
28 days ago
Reply to  X

Infrastructure is not necessary?

In the past, we had more riders with less infrastructure, and riding really took off when there was effectively none.

While I agree it is logical to assume adding more infrastructure will entice more people to ride, it hasn’t borne out. Something else is happening that is far more dominant.

John V
John V
28 days ago
Reply to  Watts

We ran the experiment, and learned that building infrastructure is neither necessary nor sufficient.

This is incorrect. We didn’t “run the experiment”. This isn’t how science or data work. What we have is an anecdote. We built some things (how much? Was it good enough? Did it meet the threshold of being useful?) in a messy world that depends on more than one variable, and things happened.

Some people will choose to bike with or without infrastructure, and numbers will fluctuate on their own with no intentional effort. Our goal should be to find out what will get more people to feel comfortable trying that. Building disconnected, low quality infrastructure and waiting a couple years cannot lead one to the conclusion that infrastructure won’t get people to bike.

(also, I think it’s very likely that given we pretend like personal choice should drive everything and nobody should feel ashamed of their disgraceful choices, people will continue to make disgraceful choices. We’re doing the civilizational equivalent of putting candy and vegetables in front of a toddler and saying “you decide”).

Watts
Watts
28 days ago
Reply to  John V

in a messy world that depends on more than one variable, and things happened

This is exactly my point — the things that happened turned out to be more important than the things we did (infrastructure et. al.). So what are the things that happened? Can we make them unhappen?

Figuring out the big, dominant factors seems much more important than looking even harder for our keys under the streetlight.

Regarding the candy vs. the vegetables analogy, the toddlers can choose new parents if they don’t like the grub, and thinking of people as toddlers is probably not helpful. The best way to ensure Trump will win in November is for Biden to dramatically increase the cost of driving (perhaps via a gas tax). People are going to choose regardless; the key is to make those choices less damaging (and we’re doing just that).

John V
John V
28 days ago
Reply to  Fred

2 would be awesome. Paint-only bike infrastructure may feel unsafe, but what’s worse is paint-only bike infrastructure where the inner half is blocked by blackberries or vines and dirt and you end up having to basically ride on the painted line anyway. That’s as bad as a gap in infrastructure.

eawriste
eawriste
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

My main point is that highlighting the places where we legitimately need some improvement isn’t sufficient to explain the extremely low cycling rates in the places where we do have good infrastructure.”

You’re going to get a lot of support with this statement because it is a convenient one for the people in charge that does not address the actual problem. It’s also really popular for people like Watts and others who love the idea that infrastructure somehow magically comes AFTER more people bike, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Try to re-imagine your idea of what “good” infrastructure is for EVERYONE (e.g., kids, grandpas, people with disabilities), not just people who’ll get on a bike anytime. Look at the separated network in Portland. That includes SW Broadway, the esplanade, the Springwater, and a couple other short routes. That is the primary reason why people don’t bike in Portland. It’s that simple.

Fortunately, a lot of people in BikeLoud and PBOT get this. Safety, not just the “appearance of safety”, and a separated, direct route between destinations is how the “interested but concerned” choose to ride. That’s how it has worked in dozens of other cities across the globe. Portland will always have the potential to build this network. It just takes a lot of advocacy, empathy from cyclists and political will. Right now we only have one.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

Two things can be true. We need to improve cycling infrastructure. There are serious gaps and it takes more work than it should to navigate our networks now.
Also, cycling is very safe even now and a lot more people could be safely and conveniently cycling and they are not. I’m not talking kids and grandpas. I’m talking the tens of thousands of everyone else who is currently driving short distances to work.

Both are true (in my opinion, some of it with evidence) and both need to be considered to explain the current state of cycling.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

people like Watts and others who love the idea that infrastructure somehow magically comes AFTER more people bike

Not exactly. Watts rejects magical thinking (and thinks there is an awful lot of it around here), and believes that 1) more infrastructure is great; and 2) whatever impact it has on cycling rates is swamped by extrinsic factors.

Damien
Damien
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts rejects magical thinking…

You don’t, though. You’re optimistic about the status quo. That’s absolutely magical thinking.

You just reject magical thinking that at least puts energy toward a better outcome.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Damien

“You’re optimistic about the status quo.”

How so? Do you mean because I believe that even without big new bike projects, Portland is a good place to ride?

John V
John V
28 days ago
Reply to  Watts

I think it’s that you think a wizard (AI) and lithium batteries will fix it.

Watts
Watts
28 days ago
Reply to  John V

EVs and automation will change the status quo far more than more buses ever could. Neither are like fusion, which might work but is so far unproven; both are here, and are advancing rapidly. As I was writing this, I saw an EV drive by on my street.

Damien
Damien
27 days ago
Reply to  Watts

EVs and automation will change the status quo far more than more buses ever could.

Swapping out the driver and power source for what otherwise remains an unsustainable and antisocial method of transportation isn’t changing the status quo much at all.

Watts
Watts
27 days ago
Reply to  Damien

It seems you have a very particular idea of what constitutes the status quo.

Given the potential to improve safety and accessibility and reduce the need for parking and vehicle ownership, allowing us to potentially transform the physical form of cities, automation seems to offer the more potential for radical change than anything else out there. If or how we choose to harness that potential is still undecided.

Buses and bikes are very much a status-quo technology, with little potential to address the most intractable transportation issues we face. More of them won’t really change much. Automation could change everything.

Damien
Damien
27 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Given the potential to improve safety and accessibility and reduce the need for parking and vehicle ownership, allowing us to potentially transform the physical form of cities, automation seems to offer the more potential for radical change than anything else out there. If or how we choose to harness that potential is still undecided.

Please don’t ever claim to reject magical thinking again.

Watts
Watts
27 days ago
Reply to  Damien

Sorry, that’s called “extrapolation”.

I can lay out a plausible series of steps that gets us from here to every one of the attributes I stated. Magical thinking is when you can’t.

Damien
Damien
27 days ago
Reply to  Watts

I can lay out a plausible series of steps that gets us from here to every one of the attributes I stated.

Alas, our root-cause problems are not technological, but behavioral. That’s the status quo you steadfastly defend at every opportunity, employing magical thinking to get to a “empowering positivity” conclusion. And before you deny that again, take this lesson from quantum physics: Observation is manipulation. In other words, “just telling it like it is” (over and over and over again) is supporting it “like it is”.

If you want to see where non-magical extrapolation leads, read some of jakeco969’s posts. They understand where the status quo is leading us.

And with that, I am done and out. Apologies to the mods, I know you hate these tête-à-têtes, and I regret participating in it. Should’ve left it at the first reply.

Watts
Watts
27 days ago
Reply to  Damien

Alas, our root-cause problems are not technological, but behavioral.

They’re both, but the behavioral aspect is certainly important. I don’t “defend” current behavior, but it is a fact that you and others (such as 9watts) tend to disregard, assuming behavior will somehow magically change.

As I said elsewhere, I’ll support any plausible solution to climate change (including changing “like it is”), but plausibility requires a basic compatibility with reality.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

Horsies!

People could ride horses to work, but what barriers exist to make that a feasible or probable choice?

Well, the city still has horse rings on certain city curbs, sometimes even on newer replacement curbs. There’s still plenty of public fountains to water yer horse. People dump all kinds of s**t on the street, so a pile of organic horse s**t will probably not even be noticed, and mix in quite well on the green bike boxes and bioswales. Lots of older garages in inner Portland built before 1920 were actually designed for horses. While hay and treacle are a bit rare these days at service stations, oats are still easy to buy at most supermarkets, even at organic markets and Trader Joe’s. Veterinary services are available citywide, mostly for your service pooch and service feline. I dare say most employers would be required to let you bring your service equine-American to work. I’m sure the police horse rustling task force and posse has been cut from the budget already, but you never know.

eawriste
eawriste
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Yes! Yes! Thank you David. Infrastructure, parking etc. I think you’re catching on lolz.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

The BikeLoudPDX question, “The City’s stated goal is that 25% of trips be made by bicycle by 2030, but we are currently far short of that goal. How would you work to increase the bike mode-share?” should have probably been reworded as “The City’s stated goal is that 25% of trips be made by bicycle citywide by 2030, but we are currently far short of that goal. How would you work to increase the bike mode-share in the part of the city you are running for?”

Steph Routh was one of only 4 people out of 12 officially running for office in District 1, aside from 4/7 mayoral and zero/one Auditor candidates who are running at-large, who chose to answer the survey. Since Steph is getting so much more scrutiny than the others on the answers, including the 8 others who completely failed to reply, here is Steph’s full reply, which presumably was specific to residents in East Portland, the district Steph is running for:

Individuals and families make life decisions based on the choices available to them. Right now, most people can’t realistically choose anything other than driving. That’s the work before us. To build true choice into our transportation system.

Last year, I served on the Transportation Decarbonization Roundtable. In that role, I advocated for a number of programs that I believe will shift our mode-share: e-bike rebate program (including cargo e-bikes), car-sharing investments, and expansion of the Transportation Wallet, a program that offers incentives for multi-modal transportation and is administered by the City, as a few examples. I would work to support implementation of those programs.

(For the record, I can no longer vote in Portland and I’m not necessarily endorsing Steph, though I did know Steph from my work in Portland and Steph is a really great person…)

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

US politics encourages outside dark money influencing elections, because money is speech baby! One dollar one vote!

The full statement is indeed better than the snippet. I guess that’s the angle she wants to take, that people can’t and we should make it so they can (have other options). I don’t like the framing because I think it reinforces the idea that you regular person just can’t bike to work so don’t even worry about it. Which just isn’t true.

But I like what she says about cargo bikes. They’re just too damned expensive given people already have the built in sunk cost of owning a vehicle that costs twice as much or more. But if we can get a low income family an e-cargo bike, it becomes a great way to take the kid(s) to school and head to work.

I guess for me it goes without saying, the 8 who didn’t respond are not getting ranked.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  eawriste

Sigh.

Does this direct quote from my short original comment in any way refer to people living in outer E Portland:

…people in rich and incredibly well-resourced inner Portland

Also please read and think about my response to “Wooster” above.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

You can tell which candidates have ridden a bike in Portland, and which ones haven’t (I’d say most haven’t).

But it’s one thing to say what you’d like to see happen and another thing to have the policy chops to be able to make it happen. It would be good if someone could identify the specific skills these political leaders will need to increase mode share, though I agree that having increased mode share as a goal is a start (surprising BL didn’t start with that question: Do you support the goal of increasing mode share to 25% by 2030? They assumed everyone does but clearly some don’t).

Andrew S
Andrew S
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Super duper agree with you on both points. Maybe beyond the scope of this article, but I think a great follow-up question for one-on-one interviews. Maybe something like “what barriers do you foresee in getting these done, and how do you plan on overcoming them?” or “what about your background best prepares you for the politics of accomplishing these goals?”

I think Lisa Caballero has mentioned in the past that political competency is crucial getting bike-oriented projects accomplished (outreach, publicity, identifying/getting funding approved, process knowledge, etc).

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Andrew S

Thanks for the shout out, Andrew. Case in point, the front runner donation-wise, by far, in District four is Olivia Clark. She didn’t write a whole lot in response to question one on the survey. On the other hand, she got funding for the Tilikum Bridge and a couple of MAX lines. So you can say she’s done a bit for transportation.

(She’s got the connections and know-how to go after the funds for all those great ideas out there.) Full disclosure: I support Olivia Clark, and have also donated to four other candidates.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew S

Yes, I can vote for anyone who promises me what I want in vague terms, but I’d rather vote for someone who says they have concrete ideas, and has some plan besides money appears somehow as well as the skills needed to go after the goal. Naive positive affirmation statements do not achievements make.

Watts constantly asks us why we think the new governmental structure will work any better than what we have. It won’t; I fully expect MANY bureaus to continue on as if nothing has happened because That’s The Way It’s Always Been Done. What IS different is hopefully electing people who see a windmill and tilt their lance, and know where to put it. It will take someone who doesn’t take ‘no’ very well, and is willing and able to try outmaneuver hidebinders, guilds, and gatekeepers. If Don Baack was 20 years younger I’d pester him to run. Any innkeepers not afraid of some dumbass with a badge wanting to run for office these days?

Not that experience is always enough; witness Hardesty. A superb community organizer, once elected she sat on her hands in many ways and pretty much totalled her reputation as an effective leader. She failed to continue to make communities on a citywide level. I totally understood her takes on how some things didn’t matter as much the emergencies in her communities… great focus for an activist. But a politician needs to build political capital and resources to get those things fixed, not pretend other people’s concerns were irrelevant.

To be blunt, I want to vote for someone who knows what they’re in for and looks forward to a scrum. Some of these folks are gonna get eaten alive.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

Comment of the week – certainly the most insightful political commentary I’ve read in quite a while.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Seconded.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

You are correct, anyone who gets elected to any office still has to deal with a city bureaucracy that is resistant to any kind of change, not to mention agencies they have no control over like the 9 school districts that serve Portland, ODOT, and Trimet.

John V
John V
1 month ago

Not directly related, but on the question of bike mode share – because one of the candidates said “most people can’t realistically choose to bike to work”, I’m curious about the validity of that statement. It doesn’t sound true to me. But I wonder how far the median commute distance is, in total distance. Because to me, that is the main factor in deciding if you can “realistically” bike commute. It’s a lot to ask people to do a 20 mile commute by bike. It’d be great for your health, but it’s just going to take a long time. But 10 miles seems completely realistic. I mean, for baby’s first bike commute, I don’t think a lot of people are going to want to try that in winter. But otherwise it’s not asking a lot.

So I wonder how many people currently have a commute within 10 miles of home. If it’s small, it’s no wonder we have bad bike mode share. I know we have a lot of upper middle class people commuting to Nike and Intel, which is a pretty adventurous distance to go from ~central Portland. But if we have a good number of people within 10 miles of their work, I wonder what is keeping those people from biking.

Sure there are other factors. Safety (perceived and real) for one. But I know from where I am (North Portland) there is nowhere within 20 miles that I can’t reasonably reach and feel pretty safe doing so. I know I’m an outlier, but especially when talking about a commute (which doesn’t change daily for most people), you can find a decent route anywhere.

(What I dream of is a Max or bus route focused on speed and frequency over abundance of stops that you can realistically take your bike to for covering that distance for the long commutes.)

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

But if we have a good number of people within 10 miles of their work, I wonder what is keeping those people from biking.

I’m 9.2 miles from my work and I will NEVER ride a bike as long as bikes and cars mix on the roads. Until there are physical barriers (no, paint and plastic wands aren’t good enough) between myself on my bike and vehicles.
It’s great that you feel safe, but I sure don’t. After close calls with harassment from people in a vehicle to too many near misses to count I’d rather ride the bus (NEVER the Max) to work even though I hate it. It has many issues too, but at least I’m not likely to get run over.
So I realize you are dismissive of people who feel that way I do, because afterall everyone should feel like you, but life is way too short to risk it on the streets of Portland.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

I’m not dismissing your concerns, I’m wondering why you have them. Because they aren’t rational. It’s factually not unsafe. I know people aren’t rational, and part of life is accepting some of that and educating some of it away.

You say you’ve had so many close calls. What does that mean? Every time a car drives by you, you could call that a “close call” because they were within 10 feet of you. Every time one of the millions of people driving every day casually moves 45mph down a road with people going 45mph the opposite direction, they are having constant, repeated close calls. What is a close call? You clearly lived through all of them, as does everyone else at about the same rate as driving. It’s very safe. About as safe as driving. But people for some reason put it in a different category of safety from driving.

I agree that ideally we would have everything be protected. I’d let my 4yo kid ride his bike with me and feel relaxed doing it if we had concrete protection. But I’m not talking about that. I’m wondering why a grown ass adult – who presumably walks on a sidwalk that offers hardly any more real protection from out of control vehicles than paint – refuses to ride a bike on a mostly empty greenway with cars driving 20mph (or 30 if they’re speeding). The whole city is accessible with these. They’re not as convenient as a direct, protected bike lane. But if you’re on this site you probably ride for fun, so a little indirection is ok (not good).

I guess if you’re honestly that afraid of it, and you’ve actually tried it out so you’re not just theorizing, you’re probably unreachable. People like you will never bike commute in our lifetimes. I find that baffling. Everywhere we think of with great bike infrastructure still has places where cars and bikes mix. And the places with the best infrastructure and highest ridership also had a transitional period where someone had to ride with imperfect infrastructure.

I don’t know. I’ve got not conclusion, just bewilderment.

Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
27 days ago
Reply to  John V

You are absolutely dismissing the other person’s concerns by calling them not rational. Concerns of getting hit by a car are absolutely rational.

I’m still reading to see how they define a close call, but I have had a number of what I call close calls on the streets of portland, and I would describe that as a right-of-way violation from a driver, or close pass, or some other maneuver which led me to believe I might have gotten hit by that car if I had not taken evasive action to avoid it, or if the drivers mistake have been slightly more exaggerated.

For context, I ride my bike to work 4 days a week.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

This has got to be one of the saddest comments I’ve read on BP.

I wish you felt safe riding 9.2 miles in Portland. I love riding my bike so much that I think I would seek counseling if I ever reached the point where I felt unsafe. Riding a bike in Portland is demonstratively, empirically NOT unsafe (yes – not that same as saying it’s safe, since there’s risk inherent in anything we do). But I realize the empirical evidence may not move the needle on how you feel.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

you can find a decent route anywhere.

Probably mostly true for many people, but certainly not true for some.

My old commute route was under 2 miles door to door. I could get to work well under 10 minutes almost without pedaling–faster than driving, even before accounting for time parking. On the way home, it was a 500’+ climb. Not everyone could do that. And there were limited options for longer routes to spread out the climb.

Also, some people aren’t physically capable of doing what for others would be an easy ride.

Fortunately e-bikes may help make your statement more true for more people.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Yeah, agreed, and I’m trying to be clear, I’m not saying it works for everyone. I’m trying to understand why the numbers are so low. Because although biking wouldn’t work for some, I believe it *would* work quite well for many people, probably even nearly half of Portlanders without changing anything. Maybe not all the time? Lets say fair weather commuters. Why don’t we have even 20% fair weather bike commuters?

That is true about the difficulty. This is one of the reasons I hate all the e-bike gatekeeping. It’s dumb and counterproductive.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Here we go:
https://www.oregonmetro.gov/news/you-are-here-snapshot-how-portland-region-gets-around

In the graph labeled “Commutes in the Portland Region are shorter and faster than many metro regions.”, it says the average commute is 7.1 miles. So if that’s 50% of people have a commute less than 7.1 miles, I feel like that is absolutely a reasonable distance. Even when including far East Portland (and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where the *longest* commutes are coming from), you can find (what I would consider) a safe route to anywhere in the city.

It is false to say “most people can’t realistically choose to bike to work”.

Now, the question is why don’t they? Safety is a contributor, but that much? I believe the stats that it is relevant, but I’m incredulous that this is the main factor. Is it just laziness? Netherlanders do it, I don’t think Americans are inherently more lazy than them. Objectively it is safe to bike, so maybe in addition to improving infrastructure, educating people that it is already safe is also part of it. That’s where I’m unclear what to do. I believe if more people biked, more people would realize it’s viable and try it (I guess that’s the meaning of “critical mass”). Maybe improving infrastructure / safety is the only thread we have to pull on, even though it’s frustrating because there is no good reason more people don’t bike now.

Or if we all (in a very hands-off, free market Libertarian way) throw up our hands and say it’s a market choice and you can’t get people to do what they don’t already want to do since birth, we can just go ahead and give up now. It’s like we treat this like an inconsequential choice, drive a heavy dangerous polluting car, a heavy dangerous polluting electric car, or one of the alternatives that have so many benefits and it’s just up to you. Eh. I can quickly get into black pilled territory. Sigh.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  John V

In the graph labeled “Commutes in the Portland Region are shorter and faster than many metro regions.”, it says the average commute is 7.1 miles. So if that’s 50% of people have a commute less than 7.1 miles,

Quick math correction John V. What you are labeling “average” is “median.” “Average” of 7.1 miles does not mean that half of the people have a commute shorter than 7.1 miles. (Definition of normal curve is that the average and median are the same.)

I don’t know if you get an email every time I edit, sorry if you do. The more I think about it, though, it’s an interesting question. With work-from-home, a lot of people have a 0-mile commute, at least some days of the week. So all those 0’s are a tail which skews the average.

John V
John V
1 month ago

It says average multiple times, doesn’t say median anywhere that I can see. I looked but didn’t find it (but caveated anyway). But it’s ambiguous, sometimes people mean either.
I don’t know how else it could be calculated where it doesn’t mean half the people have shorter than 7.1 mile commutes. Adding up all the commute miles and divide by number of people? I guess if that’s what they did, it could be thrown off by a few people with thousand mile commutes (not really, just helps me see which way the bias would be). But that would mean even more people have short commutes. And if the bias was the other way (a bunch of people with 200 foot commutes), it would make me wonder why they’re driving.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
28 days ago
Reply to  John V

What a sloppy infographic! I think Lisa is correct that the data in the graph titled ‘Average commute distance and time by metro area, including all modes’ are median distances. I think they are drawn from the the report hyperlinked below and incorrectly attributed to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s actually from a Brookings Institution report, and the table is attribute to an earlier Brookings report with a 2011 date. (I did not have the stamina to look that up.) In the source document the data are described as ‘the median within-metro-area commute distance.’

The average (mean — sum of data divide by the number of data) and median (data point with same number greater and less than) will coincide for any symmetric distribution, not just the normal distribution. One source of asymmetry for a distribution of distances is that distances are necessarily nonnegative, but can be arbitrarily large. I doubt the avg/median distinction is nearly as important in this context as definitions of the data: what counts as a commute, metro area, etc. or the methods by which they are collected.

In any event, a Portland commute is typically short enough to bike.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

educating people that it is already safe is also part of it. That’s where I’m unclear what to do.

One easy, practical answer to this is stop talking up how dangerous and unpleasant bike riding is, as most folks here do. If the “experts” think riding is horrible, what conclusions are potential riders supposed to draw?

As you know, I’m pretty close to the libertarian view (because after a decade of trying to convince people to ride one-on-one I’ve had zero success, I’ve concluded people are going to do what they’re going to do regardless of what I think about it), and I think the challenge is to reduce the negative impacts of driving so we can stop worrying so much about it. And, as you know, I see lots of real, honest-to-goodness potential on that front, with very little progress (mostly backsliding, actually) on any of the “traditional fronts”.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

One easy, practical answer to this is stop talking up how dangerous and unpleasant bike riding is, as most folks here do.

Well, Watts/John handshake meme on this.

Yes there are problems, yes there are times where you *feel* unsafe. And we should talk about shoring these things up, continuously I think. But lets not pretend it is extremely dangerous. I’d like for cycling to be even safer than driving, but people have the misconception that it is much more dangerous than driving and it isn’t.

For what it’s worth, it’s my understanding that people are rarely if ever convinced of something in one-on-one discussions or debates. I think people get convinced if they see the discussion or hear the arguments and have the privacy to change their opinions while saving face. People get defensive in one on ones, they have to pretend like they changed their mind on their own. But they do change their minds. Why else would you bother saying people shouldn’t talk up how dangerous cycling is?

I disagree on the potential for any meaningful benefits from electric or self driving cars, but that is trodden territory.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

I’ve never tried the “face-to-face” debatey route, more the day-after-day demonstration of feasibility with occasional friendly comments about the nice ride I had that morning.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’m just saying it has never worked for me, and so I don’t see it as a viable way to increase cycling rates.

Which is why, at the risk of once again being called pro-status-quo, I don’t see much potential for widespread changes in transportation habits. And that is pretty much what I’m hearing you say from your supposedly anti-status-quo perch.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

and I think the challenge is to reduce the negative impacts of driving so we can stop worrying so much about it.

Amen, Brother 🙂

I think many of the ped/bike activists in SW would be more accepting of PBOT’s difficulty in making ideal conditions for us if they would SLOW THE FUCKING CARS DOWN for the conditions they propose to give us.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Just a long rant to myself, sorry, but I forgot to say, it looks like Glisan is a nice east/west connection from East Portland, but it’s only paint and plastic wands. But the places where they have plastic wands seem like they should be an easy target for hardening. No space has to be created, just preferably plop some of those short concrete barriers (the mini jersey barrier things we’ve seen used in other stories) with gaps to avoid hindering access. Or hardened bollards. Anything to make that look more appealing. This should be low hanging fruit.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

I saw an academic study at least 10 years ago based on travel data in Asia and Europe that found that the bicycle was the most efficient mode for trips 2 to five miles in distance, walking for under 2 miles, and frequent transit for over 5 miles. The study is frequently cited so it shouldn’t be that hard to find.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

I commuted 12 miles each way, 5 days a week, for almost 10 years.
It took about the same time as driving since the car commute was Highway 26.
I couldn’t take the drive down to the tunnels every afternoon…
That being said, my boss also let me bring my bike into the building and keep in my office.
There were 5 of us bike commuting out of 20 people in the office.
Being allowed to keep our bikes indoors was the biggest reason most did it.
Most businesses where people work don’t have anyplace for bike keeping.
Being able to store a bike safely during the day is huge, If a person can’t do that, they won’t commute by bicycle.
All the safe infrastructure getting to work does not matter. I commuted on Barbur blvd. to get to work.
It’s apparent since not ONE candidate brought this up, None of them are bike commuters.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

Being allowed to keep our bikes indoors was the biggest reason most did it.

Somehow I doubt that’s the reason most people have for not doing a 24 mile a day bike commute. But having good storage is important, and I wish more people would. Bikes are easy to store, maybe it should just be mandated (I know, bug gov’t) that workplaces let you store your bike inside (if applicable). You can stash a bike almost anywhere.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Where do your store your bike?
I doubt you commute if you think bikes are easy to stash.
Daily commuters need nice bicycles, not clunkers.
You don’t just stash an expensive bike or lock it outdoors for the day.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

When I worked downtown, I took my bike into my office.

Daily commuters need nice bicycles, not clunkers.

Nah. Unless you mean $500 is a nice bicycle. Then yah. A cheap REI bike is what I commuted on for 10 years too. It was so good, so fast. I don’t go any faster or more comfortably today on my Surly (which is nice by some standards). Bikes are sooooo cheap! That’s part of what I love about them.

Although, I forgot to include cargo bikes, which are not easy to store. And for sure e-bikes are not cheap. For those we need better storage options for sure, I’m not disagreeing completely. Only, lets say, a lot of people drive a single occupancy vehicle 5-10 miles to work and I want to talk about how to change that.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

The only business in the city that has massive bike commuting is OHSU because they have safe storage. This can be replicated all over.
That’s why I think none of these candidates have a clue about cycling since no one mentions it.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  BB

It’s more than the safe storage (although that helps). They also have restricted parking, and monetary incentive to not take a car.

BB
BB
1 month ago

I realize they have additional reasons but you could have similar bike corrals thru out the city, A good use of Tax money.
Cheap….You could squeeze a few downtown, one at the airport, A lot of places.
Few would drive if every time they did and parked, they think their car might get stolen.
Most cyclists feel that way.
Maybe we could get rid of driving downtown if we had a lot more car theft… not that I am advocating that…

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

“not that I am advocating that…”

1000000940
Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
27 days ago
Reply to  John V

I would not dream of spending 2 hours a week on a cheap bike. Commuting hours add up. If someone wouldn’t drive a $500 car, I would not expect them to ride a $500 bike 8-10 times a week.

John V
John V
27 days ago

Well, some people love collecting things. I like to, and I would like to feel safe storing my bike too, even if it was cheap. But for utility purposes, a cheap bike will get you to work as comfortably and quickly as an expensive bike. I did it on an inexpensive Novara bike for almost 10 years. That bike was legitimately good, and the only reason I changed was it just didn’t have clearance for fatter tires.
Put a decent saddle on something like a Linus bike and you’ll have something that you can comfortably ride to work for years. Go over to community cycling center and get a very inexpensive used bike that is just as good as a new one.
Bikes are amazing. Part of what is amazing is how they’re a completely solved problem so the old ones can be just as good as a new one.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

You’ve brought up a real barrier, BB. No one should dismiss it.

In my entire long life of cycling to work (40+ years!), I’ve had SO MANY struggles with employers about bringing my bike indoors. Here are a few things that really happened:

  • I once left my bike in a storeroom. One day I found a note taped to my handlebars from security saying “Bikes are not allowed in buildings.”
  • After I moved my bike to a different storeroom, a co-worker didn’t like seeing it there so he removed most of the air from my tires, which I discovered in a parking lot and fortunately not when I was flying down a hill at 30 mph.
  • A different co-worker told me later that my bike wasn’t allowed in a different spot, so I moved it again.
  • Yet another co-worker reported to my boss that my bike was damaging the walls. I had a counseling session with my boss and I eventually had to get wall protectors to lean my bike against.

And that was just with one employer! People who drive to work have none of these problems. Employers think nothing of paying millions of dollars to plow up the earth and plop down asphalt and concrete and install lighting and drainage etc. But bring your bike into a building? – HELL NO! That’s un-American! (or something – it’s certainly unacceptable in most places).

The comparison with wheelchairs is apropos. Bikes have exactly the same impact on buildings as wheelchairs. But who would dare to ban them from buildings? NO ONE. People ban bikes simply b/c they can.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

If I can’t park my bike at my desk then I’m never going to bike to work. Our building has a “bike room” but it is not secure by any stretch of the imagination. They can’t even keep non-tenants off the floors and away from stealing purses, laptops, etc. so why would I think they’d be able to keep an eye on a tucked out of the way room?
Of course the parking in the building has a dedicated person keeping an eye on the vehicles all day long.

PTB
PTB
28 days ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

But just up above you said you’ll NEVER bike to work because there isn’t hardened cycling infrastructure from door to door. So I guess it doesn’t matter that you can’t keep your bike at your desk, eh?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
29 days ago
Reply to  Fred

I’ve come across numerous landlords who don’t allow tenants to bring their bikes into their own apartments (I personally keep 5 bikes inside my apartment, in a portion of my living room I euphemistically call my “garage” – needless to say I make sure it’s okay with my landlord before I even think of signing a lease.) There was a hotel in DC that required me to store my bike in the parking garage – you can bet I’ll never stay there again – I’ve had no trouble from any other hotel ever.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
28 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I’ve come across numerous landlords who don’t allow tenants to bring their bikes into their own apartments…

Home Forward and just about every non-profit housing provider.

qqq
qqq
29 days ago
Reply to  Fred

The comparison with wheelchairs is apropos. Bikes have exactly the same impact on buildings as wheelchairs. But who would dare to ban them from buildings? NO ONE. People ban bikes simply b/c they can.

That’s an interesting point. People DID in effect ban wheelchairs pre-ADA, by simply not providing accessible routes into buildings. Now most people are aware they can be fined or sued if they don’t allow wheelchairs in.

Bikes are different in that you can’t block them from getting in, since people can carry them up stairs or through narrow doorways. But if a building owner or business wants to ban them, there’s no threat to use against them at all comparable to the ADA.

Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
27 days ago
Reply to  John V

I commute six miles, and having bike parking inside the place I work is a huge factor. If I had to park my bike outside all day I would not ride to work, even if it was only one mile.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  BB

Eli Arnold is on a bike all day long as part of his job, Michael Trimble is someone who spends much of his time on a bike. Jonathan has interviewed several candidates (off the top of my head: Chad Lykins, Marnie, Timur Ender, Steph Routh, Angelito Morillo, Michael Trimble) and a score of others who have spoken at Bike Happy Hour.

I don’t know, the “none of them are bike commuters” seems to me to be unfounded. If none of them are exactly fitting the bill for you, why didn’t you run, it’s a pretty low barrier.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
1 month ago

Good job, Jonathan. The photos are nice, and arranging the candidates by district is helpful. Some of the questions are even more telling; please do this with all of them!

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Will BikeLoud be publishing the answers to questions two through eight?

Eva
Eva
1 month ago

Yep! We’ll be releasing one a week as the summer goes on.

Sam
Sam
1 month ago

This is such a helpful tool in thinking about candidates, especially with so many on the ballot this year and ranked choice voting! I’m not necessarily expecting the candidates to have all the answers, especially with so many political novices running (which is not a bad thing). But it is nice to see how people are actually thinking about the issue and where they think the challenges lie. Some candidates seem to be elaborating on the problem rather than offering ideas or solutions, which I find concerning. That could be a function of the short excerpt Jonathan chose to highlight, but I think a candidate being able to move beyond describing a problem to identify potential salves is something critical for change makers. (It’s also necessary to actually answer the question they were asked.) I’ll have to go see the full responses at BikeLoud’s website.

At least everyone here bothered to submit a response though. I think equally telling are the people who didn’t respond (*cough* Mapps *cough* Gonzalez). But it might be helpful to have a list of candidates by district who also chose not to respond given their smaller public profiles. I’d love to see more posts like this in the future!

Mark Linehan
Mark Linehan
1 month ago
Reply to  Sam

According to the official Register of City Candidates, neither Mapps nor Gonzalez have yet filed for mayor.

Bob Weinstein
Bob Weinstein
1 month ago

While I very much appreciate the effort to provide summaries of what candidates said, I’d like to provide my complete answer.

The City’s stated goal is that 25% of trips be made by bicycle by 2030, but we are currently far short of that goal. How would you work to increase the bike mode-share?

As a candidate for Portland City Council, I recognize the importance of increasing our bicycle mode-share to meet our 2030 goal of 25% of trips made by bicycle. To achieve this, I propose a multi-faceted approach:

Expand and improve bicycle infrastructure:
Accelerate the development of protected bike lanes throughout the city
Complete and enhance our network of neighborhood greenways
Prioritize bicycle safety improvements at high-risk intersections

Increase bicycle parking and end-of-trip facilities:

Enhance bicycle education and encouragement programs:

Expand Safe Routes to School programs
Offer free or low-cost bike safety classes for adults
Launch a city-wide “Bike to Work” campaign

Improve integration with public transit:

Thanks.

Bob Weinstein
City Council Candidate, District 4

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Bob Weinstein

Thank you for commenting, Bob.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Weinstein

Those are the same platitudes everybody for office uses but thanks.
To even mention 25% as a goal anymore is not exactly telling it like it is.
25% would require enormous amounts of money.
You mentioned end of trip facilities in passing, as I mentioned in my post below, having safe bike storage is essential.
It has to almost to come before anything else. No one here is mentioning this so I assume there are very few real commuters on this site, let alone the general public.

Bob Weinstein
Bob Weinstein
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

Thanks for your comments. Regarding 25%, you are correct. I was responding to question regarding that goal, but could and should been clear about increasing bike share from status quo while recognizing 25% by 3040 seems unlikely.

And thanks recognizing that I did include end of trip facilities. I happen to not be a bicyclist but know how to make good public policy decisions, including by involving the bicycling community on their priorities for improving safety and other infrastructure improvements.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Weinstein

25% by 3040 might be doable!

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Weinstein

Heck yeah. I think Safe Routes to School and things like bike bus could go a long way. Because that is a commute! Those kids will grow up knowing they can commute places by bike, they did it. And they’re a good example for everyone else.

cct
cct
1 month ago

I noticed it – see my nearly-simultaneous post. Lisa noticed it nearly a year ago and schooled me. We have been telling everyone we know that we need to vote for someone who has an understanding of the issues and solutions as a prime plank in campaighn, NOT ped/bike as an afterthought.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

“Nothing happens until we make the politics work – and make politicians work with us and for us.”

I agree with this. The problem is they work for everyone else too, and building bicycle infrastructure is not a high priority when money is tight.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Money is always tight. What I want are councilmembers willing to go to the mat over getting SOMEthing done, enforcing codes we already have to do it, and convincing others that bike/ped is a necessary part of a larger, healthier whole. Less global warming; fewer, dare I say, zero deaths… maybe someone could make a study about it and give it a catchy name.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

“What I want are councilmembers willing to go to the mat over getting SOMEthing done”

Stuff is getting done, even if it feels like it’s moving at a plodding pace. That’s the indelible nature of government.

If you want PBOT to do more, we need to give them more money, which means raising taxes (something that’s hard for the city to do) or not doing other things. Are bike projects more important than public safety, parks, street maintenance, or helping the homeless?

I actually don’t know how what you’re asking for is different from what’s already happening.

cct
cct
29 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Are bike projects more important than public safety, parks, street maintenance, or helping the homeless?

Bike/ped projects are part and parcel of those items, not separate.

Watts
Watts
29 days ago
Reply to  cct

That doesn’t really help me understand specifically what you want PBOT to do differently, nor where the money would come from.

cct
cct
28 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Well, treat bike and ped as part and parcel of projects, like they are SUPPOSED to, by code… rather than having them be little voucshafes to the community now and then. Resurfacing or restriping a road? It should ALWAYS be redone with active transportation in mind, instead of just cars. So include the money to do so as bottom-line, not as ‘wish we could. Someday!’ They have a stack of studies on these projects so high it violates the zoning code for downtown, yet they are Wishbooks instead of mandates half the time. If managers were as serious at ped/bike safety as they are about motorists, they would figure it out.

Far too often the excuse is made ‘well it won’t connect to anything; let’s wait and do the WHOLE road!’ That’s the sound of a can being kicked. All these little ‘dedicate 12′ to ROW for future ped/bike project’ means another generation of nothing. Ask Cedar Mill.

Change funding structure to stop rewarding growth and penalize maintenance (all bureaus on that one!). Be more aggressive at federal level. When budgeting a project, STOP making ped/bike be the first component that gets ditched. Do a smaller stretch, or cut back the car portion. Shit, reseed a lane with grass to save costs on concrete.

I’m not running. I don’t have to provide answers to you. Ask the candidates.

Watts
Watts
28 days ago
Reply to  cct

While I don’t understand everything on your list, I agree with most of what I did.

Fortunately, I think PBOT already does a lot of this stuff, which is why our infrastructure continues to grow. The one big example of where they didn’t was Hawthorne, and the excuses they used were total BS. There may be other more recent examples, but racially tinged political explosions like NE 33rd aside, none come to mind.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

I mentioned it, JM, in my post about needing reps with strong political skills.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Yeah, I got a lot of grief, controversy!, for suggesting last week that voters might want to consider the experience and skills of the candidates they support.

As was reported in the press last week, or the week before, the teacher’s union was asking candidates who interviewed for their endorsement what their opinions on Gaza were. The interviews were reportedly short on questions about education, and long on questions of social justice orthodoxy.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

“short on questions about education, and long on questions of social justice orthodoxy.”

And they’re right. How can the city better support education if we elect folks who see the complexity in the Middle East?

Chasing Backon
Chasing Backon
1 month ago

I find it interesting not a single candidate mentioned any kind of enforcement to help reduce speeding, red light running and other unsafe driver behavior. I cargo bike with the kids in lower SE and see so much dangerous behavior, it has altered my riding and routes even though i am very experienced on 2 wheels. I don’t really feel safe in the bike lane on busy streets like i used to and regularly spend more time in separated paths and side streets. In addition to all the physical and social adjustments to increase cycling mentioned by candidates and commenters, i’d like to see some drivers actually pulled over, vehicles towed and licenses revoked. A guy can dream.

robert wallis
robert wallis
1 month ago
Reply to  Chasing Backon

amen

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Chasing Backon

Great point, Backon. I think a lot about the negative behaviors of drivers toward cyclists, like close passing, revving, yelling, honking, throwing things, etc. Let’s call it “bike hatred.” How many times does a cyclist experience bike hatred before s/he decides to give up cycling?

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago

Michelle DePass

…the real meat is in bringing people along, and making cycling more accessible, rather than more elitist.

oh ffs, not this shit again. Cycling is not elitist; it’s the cheapest form of transportation around. It doesn’t doesn’t require any licenses, any fees, any registration, it’s transportation for everyone. You can spend $200 on a used bike and be on your way, it’s the most non-elisit thing possible. Will not be getting my vote.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Thanks for highlighting that point, Jay. I read it, sighed, and moved on.

I would be interested in finding out more about where this point of view comes from – that cycling is a tool of the elites which doesn’t reach people of color.

It seems to me that very often, when proposals arise about tolling, congestion pricing, and other progressive transpo ideas, communities of color are often the first to push back – and to push back the hardest against them, by making arguments about how these policies impact them disproportionately.

One flavor is something like: “It’s all very well for you to say we need to reduce VMT, but b/c of systemic racism I’ve been pushed out to ClackCo and therefore I need to drive and you shouldn’t penalize me for this circumstance which has been *forced* upon me.”

That argument seems to have real resonance with decision-makers everywhere, and impedes important goals. Does anyone know of effective ways to address it? – short of caving and saying okay – you can just drive everywhere.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
29 days ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

When some of the bike activists or even folks in forums act like bikes are a deity’s gift to transportation and the only solution to save everyone is that people only use human powered bikes, never ever an assisted e-bike.

People make jokes about the spandex bike short crowd, but all too often that’s the crowd that gets the press and can be a turn off for non-traditional bikers.

Those are the types of “elitism” that is so ugly, but very familiar in bike circles.

Free-agent
Free-agent
29 days ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Yep. Haven’t cycling numbers decreased as Portland got wealthier? To get cycling mode share numbers back up maybe they need to figure out how to make it more appealing to the social elites. Forget safety, forget enforcement, forget infrastructure- Make Cycling Fire Again.

Jose V
Jose V
29 days ago

I love biking but this election I am going to vote for public safety, cleanliness and pragmatic actions on homelessness. Until we have an adequately staffed police force, adequate ambulance service, prompt 911 answer times, clean streets and a feeling of safety in Portland I don’t think there is much chance for protected bike lanes.

SD
SD
28 days ago
Reply to  Jose V

You can’t have that without bikes. Doubling the budget for rational transportation and getting people out of cars would have more of an impact on the things you care about than doubling the police budget.

SD
SD
28 days ago

It’s fascinating to see the coded language from candidates that would absolutely start ripping out bike lanes if it was politically helpful to them.

Alexandar Hull-Richter
Alexandar Hull-Richter
27 days ago

Routh’s answer is completely unacceptable. Not only is it badly misinformed (cycling most places is viable now and many do it already), but it is also the sort of answer you get from someone who is interested in seeing fewer people ride.

Linn simply seems not to be informed about cycling in town at all.

I think the most startling piece of information I came across was from PBOT. They charted out bicycle use and car crashes from 2012 forward, and the reduction in bicycle use followed a very similar curve to the increase in car crashes. It seemed to me from that that traffic safety in general is the driving factor, even among people who don’t ride, they feel less safe starting to ride because they feel less safe while they are still in their car.

I definitely feel like identify with that a little bit, even as someone who rides a lot. I frequently feel less safe on the road in my car than I do when I’m on my bike, because I interact with more cars while I’m driving.

Even with the best bike infrastructure, bike infrastructure is not something that most drivers interact with directly in a way that they recognize, so people who are used to driving are still going to feel less safe riding their bikes as long as they feel less safe driving, particularly because they’re not going to be as aware of cycling routes that are safer than where they drive.