About Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

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Jonathan Maus is the publisher and editor-in-chief of BikePortland.org.

You can reach him via email at jonathan [at] bikeportland [dot] org. If you have an urgent matter, please use our 24HR Tipline - (503) 706-8804.


Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) Posts

“Always plan for assholes” – A cycling parable from Dingo the Clown

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Dingo’s son Bruce growing up on a tall bike.
(Photo: Dingo the Clown)

[Read more…]

Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, Stages, Fat Tire Farm, Bike Clark County

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Looking for a new place to spread you cycling wings? We’ve got five great job opportunities that just went up this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

Retail Sales Associate – Community Cycling Center

Customer Service Manager – SIC – Stages Indoor Cycling

Mountain Bike Mechanic – Fat Tire Farm

Bicycle Mechanic – Bike Clark County
[Read more…]

Weekend Event Guide: New path opening, palm trees, tri season kickoff, and more

Friday, January 24th, 2020

How you holding up?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Read more…]

ODOT takes more heat for Rose Quarter missteps at commission meeting

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Portland area electeds and community leaders showed a united front of concern. Left to right: Cupid Alexander, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office; Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly; Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson; Metro Council President Lynn Peterson; Albina Vision Trust Board Member Michael Alexander.

“We never envisioned ODOT taking shortcuts to a decision and a design. The risk that was taken by those shortcuts is now playing out.”
— Lynn Peterson, Metro Council President

It’s been a very rough few weeks for the Oregon Department of Transportation and their I-5 Rose Quarter project. On Thursday ODOT top brass and project managers heard local electeds and community leaders deliver blistering testimony about the agency’s conduct to members of the Oregon Transportation Commission (the OTC, also known as ODOT’s boss).

“The current proposal fails to treat stakeholders as partners and in our view is not adaptive or responsive enough to move us forward,” said Michael Alexander with Albina Vision Trust, an influential group pushing for neighborhood redevelopment in the Rose Quarter.

“The gash that Interstate 5 drove through the black community is one we’re still wrestling with today. We can’t look at this area as simply a bottleneck for the people that drive through it,” said Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson.

“Strong governance and genuine partnerships are required to deliver mega-projects successfully. To date, this project has lacked these elements and has faced obstacles as a result,” said Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.

“We never envisioned ODOT taking shortcuts to a decision and a design. The risk that was taken by those shortcuts is now playing out,” said Metro President Lynn Peterson, referring to ODOT’s decision to perform only an environmental assessment (EA) as part of their federally-mandated project analysis instead of a more rigorous environmental impact statement (EIS).

Cracks in the facade

Oops. ODOT was off by about $300 million.
(Source: ODOT Cost to Complete Report)

Since these regional leaders and Mayor Ted Wheeler called for an EIS and Governor Kate Brown called for a pause back in December, things have only gotten worse for ODOT.

On December 20th, Willamette Week broke the news that ODOT’s legislatively mandated “Cost to Complete” report found the estimated cost of the project had skyrocketed to $795 million — up from $450 million estimate in 2017. ODOT blamed inflation.

On January 14th, No More Freeways laid out a new set of demands focused around more accountability and transparency.

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On January 17th, Rukaiyah Adams reached her limit. Adams, chief investment officer at Meyer Memorial Trust and leader of Albina Vision Trust has worked with ODOT in a push for buildable highway caps (ODOT wants cheap caps that won’t support the multi-story buildings that are key to Albina Vision). After reading a story in The Oregonian, Adams unleashed a scorching statement on Twitter that included, “In all seriousness, is it too much to ask that the public get something *actually* useful out of hundreds of millions of dollars of investment? C’mon. Let’s get serious @OregonDOT.”

In what appeared to be an effort to reassure local elected officials, on January 17th OTC Chair Robert Van Brocklin wrote a letter (h/t Andrew Theen from The Oregonian) to Wheeler, Eudaly, Peterson, Pederson, and two PPS board members outlining 11 actions he wants ODOT to take. This rare step showed the pressure this project has put on the OTC and these actions can be seen as their attempt to clean up ODOT’s mess and get things back on track.

In one of several recent stories from local media exposing cracks in the project, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported today that it, “Keeps taking hits”. “The Rose Quarter jewel is looking increasingly tarnished,” reads the story that also includes a quote from Metro’s Lynn Peterson that makes a direct comparison to the failed Columbia River Crossing.

Also yesterday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation released a rare public rebuke of ODOT on Twitter, writing, “The project is off track: it’s off-track with community, with local and regional partners & with cost.” Notable about the 14 tweet thread is that PBOT mentioned local transportation reporters. It was a jaw-dropping step that illustrates the intense political pressure facing PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and her need to reset the narrative around the city’s involvement with the project.

What happened in Lake Oswego

PBOT Commissioner Eudaly reminded OTC members that the project, “Represents the first major public infrastructure project in Lower Albina since the creation of the Interstate Highway System.” “Due to past racist public policy,” she explained, “lower Albina was designated as a slum and blighted area… and federally-funded projects displaced African-American residents from north and northeast Portland.” Eudaly said that is a, “Shameful part of our shared history and it’s now our shared responsibility to deliver a remedy.” To begin to right those wrongs, she said ODOT must do three things: explicitly acknowledge that history and commit to a process of restorative justice; increase transparency in project governance and cost; and come to consensus on project scope (that explicitly includes the surface street updates, highway covers, and congestion pricing). Eudaly also hinted she might be open to compromise on the EIS issue. “Without a full EIS,” she said, “We’d recommend a tool such as a community benefits agreement.”

In her testimony, Metro Council President Lynn Peterson clarified a key element of her position: “We need congestion pricing prior to any work in the Rose Quarter because without the transportation demand management that that offers, the benefits won’t be totally realized.”

Mayor Wheeler sent a representative to speak on his behalf. Cupid Alexander from his Office of Strategic Initiatives said Wheeler supports Commissioner Eudaly. He also said, “In an attempt to improve the flow of traffic and convenience for one part of our community, we divided and disconnected another part of our community. We must make the effort to reconcile this imbalance… To start down a path of environmental, social, and economic reconciliation for our community.”

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OTC members also heard powerful testimony from the public.

Albina neighborhood resident Joan Petit was moved to tears while reading hers:

“ODOT devastated an entire community when they tore a hole in Albina — a scar that pollutes the air, makes our community sick, and remains to this day. Some good things remain, like Harriet Tubman Middle School. We parents worked so hard to re-open that school just a year-and-a-half ago so the children in inner north and northeast Portland could have a middle school. Now however, ODOT wants to double down on the harm to this community with an unnecessary freeway expansion.

Joan Petit

After all these years, shouldn’t we know better? Haven’t we white folks learned that it’s not OK to destroy communities and schools to build freeways? Lately I’ve been wondering, is ODOT like that restaurant in eastern Oregon that doesn’t want to see my kids, that doesn’t want to serve my kids and kids who look like my kids [referring to a story she told about her adopted black children who were refused service in a restaurant]. Is the health and well-being of my black children irrelevant to ODOT, Governor Brown and the Commission in front of me? Are their lungs just collateral damage?

A few years ago in eastern Oregon, I left that restaurant. I walked out. I’m not leaving this time. I’m here for my kids and for all the kids in my neighborhood, including and especially the 65% of Harriet Tubman students who identify as children of color. You can’t ignore these youth anymore… Parents in my neighborhood are ready to fight you on this project that harms our children’s lungs, their educational opportunities, and the planet they will inherit. We are not walking away!”

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Chris Smith, a transportation activist, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner, and candidate for Metro Council, said:

“Frankly, I’m befuddled. As a public official, I can’t imagine that if in a hearing before my commission if we had nearly 2,000 comments – 90% of which told us to either not do the project or do a deeper analysis – that we wouldn’t take the time to learn more and do that deeper analysis…. As a climate activist, I’m very concerned that during the very decade we have to decarbonize our economy, this project will not only interrupt transit but also a main bicycle cconnection that connects to downtown. I can’t imagine a worse thing to do for our climate at the moment.”

Trying to right the ship

After the testimony, commissioners discussed the 11 actions outlined in Chair Van Brocklin’s letter. These actions are an attempt by the OTC to salvage confidence in the project because ODOT has failed to satisfy the concerns of so many project partners.

Here are the 11 actions that were approved by the OTC Thursday (and just released as a memo here):

1. Approving the Submission of a Rose Quarter Cost to Complete Report to the Legislature.
2. Directing ODOT to complete an Environmental Assessment for the Rose Quarter Project or direct ODOT to Conduct an Environmental Impact Statement.
3. Directing ODOT to establish a Rose Quarter Executive Advisory Committee.
4. Directing ODOT to establish a Project Community Advisory Committee.
5. Directing ODOT to recommend Rose Quarter Project “Principles and Values.”
6. Directing ODOT to conduct a Rose Quarter Project I-5 Highway Cover Evaluation and Alternatives Report (“Cap Report”).
7. Directing ODOT to continue to coordinate with Regional Partners.
8. Directing ODOT to establish Rose Quarter Project Equity Principles.
9. Directing ODOT to consider a Rose Quarter Project Environmental Peer Review.
10. Congestion Pricing on I-5.
11. Directing ODOT to continue to work with PPS to attempt to address PPS’s concerns about the Rose Quarter Project.

OTC Vice-Chair Alando Simpson will chair the new executive advisory committee (action #3). He sees the role of the committee, “To try and figure out a way to create something here that is a little more comprehensive and that truly serves the triple bottom line in terms of how we invest our public resources into our communities.”

Before adjourning the meeting, Chair Van Brocklin tried to address the challenges around this project that lie ahead for OTC and ODOT. “This is a challenging subject… We are trying to listen and learn… This is a very unique area in the state with a long history and we’re trying to be respectful to all of the considerations that have been raised… environmental, social, economic and otherwise. We’re probably not going to make every single person happy every single day, but we’re trying to be as smart as we can about it.”

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Where we’re at

The OTC is trying to thread a needle between political and community pressure, and the need to make progress on a high-profile project. These 11 actions are much more preferable to the OTC and ODOT than having to do the EIS. At yesterday’s meeting Rose Quarter project manager Megan Channell warned commissioners that doing an EIS would be about a three-year delay and would add about $66 million to $86 million in additional inflationary costs.

Right now ODOT should be more concerned with the project being shelved than with a multi-year delay. In fact, given that ODOT (and a federal government run by President Trump) would control the narrative and process around the EIS, it shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet that will stop this project. In large part because of ODOT’s huge miscalculation, the Cost to Complete report will raise eyebrows of legislative leaders, making an already controversial project even more of a political minefield.

People with concerns about the project would be smart to remind legislators (and OTC members for that matter) that they approved funding for a project in the Rose Quarter, not this project.

ODOT’s freeway-centric culture and hubris got them to this point. They find themselves isolated like I’ve never seen before. Key legislators, Governor Kate Brown, local elected officials, the media, community groups, and now even the OTC have exposed ODOT’s faults and taken steps to rein in their power.

Who does support this project? The Oregonian Editorial Board.

Despite all the tumult, like the parents of an unruly teenager, the OTC is still willing to help ODOT through these rough waters. It remains to be seen whether their parental controls will be enough to keep the project alive.

Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Kenton Business Association supports parking removal, bike lanes on Lombard

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

The project will result in no parking on North Lombard between Fiske and Boston.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last week I got one of those emails I dread: Proposed bike lanes could be in jeopardy because a business group is making a fuss about parking removal. Making matters worse was that the project in question was Oregon Department of Transportation’s Lombard Safety Project, which we know is giving major heartburn to the City of Portland Freight Committee.

To learn more I tracked down a letter (PDF) dated November 7th to ODOT from the Kenton Business Association. The letter confirmed my fears. “On behalf of the Kenton Business Association (KBA) and the more than 200 businesses we represent,” it read, “we urge you to reconsider elements of the Lombard Multimodal Safety Project… We believe the current design of this project presents a serious safety risk to cyclists, puts an undue burden on our vital small businesses, and will have a profoundly negative impact on our neighbors on this stretch of N Lombard.”

Oh no. Here we go again, I thought.

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“We all agree right off the top that Lombard along this stretch has been a nightmare, and changes need to happen to slow the traffic down. We just have a lot of questions about implementation, some of which have been answered since the letter was drafted.”
— Maureen Bachmann, Kenton Business Association

After detailing their objections the KBA told ODOT they wanted the bike lanes removed from the project (to be replaced with signs directing bicycle users to nearby neighborhood greenways) and they wanted to keep the parking lane on the north side of Lombard.

As I began to work on a story I connected with Maureen Bachmann, owner of Kenton Antiques and president of the KBA. Thankfully, their tone has changed.

“We didn’t submit our issues with any intention of trying to stop the project,” Bachmann assured me via email, “but simply to outline the concerns we have as residents and business owners, many of whom are also bike commuters. We all agree right off the top that Lombard along this stretch has been a nightmare, and changes need to happen to slow the traffic down. We just have a lot of questions about implementation, some of which have been answered since the letter was drafted.”

One of the concerns Bachmann voiced in the letter was that the proposed bike lanes wouldn’t connect to any other bike lanes on Lombard. ODOT explained in a reply to the letter that — while it’s true they don’t connect to other bike lanes on Lombard — they will connect to existing bikeways on streets like Delaware and Woolsey. With the KBA’s urging, ODOT will also speed up timelines to complete existing bike lane gaps on Lombard.

Bachmann says their current position on the project is to push for loading zones and short-term parking spaces on side streets adjacent to Fang Pet & Garden Supply (at N Drummond) because, “It’s one of the few businesses along that stretch that does rely on car accessibility… is a flagship business for Kenton, and it would be a huge loss to this community if they needed to relocate.”

As for those bike lanes? While Bachmann and the KBA don’t think it’ll feel safe for most people to ride next to fast drivers and freight truck operators, they are no longer calling for them to be removed from the project. In fact, Bachmann says they’re advocating for the lanes to connect a few blocks east to newly installed bike lanes on North Denver. They also plan to turn their energy toward pushing for more bus transit along the Lombard corridor. “Decreasing traffic flow without increasing all alternative forms of transportation, especially bus routes is concerning,” Bachmann shared.

This change in tone from the KBA is rare and welcome. I think it has something to do with how ODOT handled the situation. In their response to the KBA, ODOT was understanding, yet firm. They gave evidence to back up their plans and made it clear the project would go forward as planned (PBOT could learn a lot from this!). It also helps that the KBA is led by someone like Bachmann who can see the bigger picture.

“We understand the project appears likely to proceed despite our objections,” she said. “We also don’t want our objections appearing anti-bike or anti-change as we all agree that the current traffic situation on Lombard is dangerous.”

ODOT will host an open house on this project Wednesday January 29th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Portland Village School (7654 N Delaware). Learn more here.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

Job: Bicycle Mechanic – Bike Clark County

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Job Title

Bicycle Mechanic

Company / Organization

Bike Clark County

Job Description

Bike Clark County is a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for empowerment, education, and social change through bicycles and bicycle repair. As a nonprofit, we run a full-service bike shop and repair bicycles donated from the community, and redistribute them through our charitable programs and affordable bike sales. As a community-focused bike shop, we teach the community how to repair their own bicycles in our shared-use shop space. Our charitable programs seek to make bicycles, and bicycle repair/safety education available to the entire community regardless of income.

BCC’s many charitable bike safety education programs are made possible by its community oriented shop operations. BCC’s mechanics work on a variety of bikes from the early 1930’s to modern full carbon race bikes.

Job Duties and Responsibilities:
>Contribute to a fun, friendly, and welcoming environment for customers and coworkers.
>Maintain a clean work environment for customers as well as other mechanics
>Intake, assess, repair, and check over new bicycles.
>Refurbish used bikes in a timely manner so that they can then be purchased
>Educate customers on how to properly maintain their bikes
>Examine parts donated to ensure quality products will be on the floor for sale
>Organize parts room
>Help customers pick out the right bike for what they intend to use the bike for

Qualifications needed to do the job successfully:
>Excellent mechanical skills (preferable two years hands-on, professional shop experience working with a variety of bicycles)
>The ability to work with a wide variety of clientele
>Excellent people skills that will enable you to work with a wide variety of clientele including those new to bicycling.
>Ability to interact in a friendly manner with all customers regardless of their bicycle knowledge.
>Good communication skills
>The ability to think creatively and keen problem-solving skills
>Good organizational skills & Multitasking in an extremely fast-paced environment

Part time & full time positions $13.50-17/hour DOE.

How to Apply

To apply email cover letter & resume to : info@bikeclarkcounty.org

‘Brown Bike Girl’ in Portland to offer anti-bias seminar

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Courtney Williams
(From her website)

Courtney Williams wants cycling advocates to change on the inside before working to change what’s outside.

Williams, a bicycle advocacy consultant who lives in Brooklyn, New York and is also known as The Brown Bike Girl, wants more organizers and community leaders in the cycling space to think not just about bike lanes, but whether or not their own biases and privilege prevent people from influencing projects and policies that relate directly to the institutional and physical barriers they face while getting from place to place.

Williams will host, Outside Advocate: Anti-Bias, Anti-Privilege Seminar, on Saturday (1/25) at The Street Trust headquarters in northwest Portland.

While here, Williams said via email this week that she wants to, “Help the Greater Portland bike community begin to work through eliminating some of the repetitive racial faux pas and internal biases that have been a roadblock to unification of diverse communities over time.”[Read more…]

Job: Mountain Bike Mechanic – Fat Tire Farm

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Job Title

Mountain Bike Mechanic – Fat Tire Farm

Company / Organization

Fat Tire Farm

Job Description

The Fat Tire Farm is the Northwest’s premier mountain bike shop. We’re a small friendly shop with a highly-skilled, tight-knit staff, and are looking for a mechanic who’ll be able to mix well with our crew. This is a full-time, year-round position. We’re a mountain bike shop, but we ride and work on everything: DH, road, DJ, trail, XC, BMX, ‘cross, and don’t judge riders of any discipline.

QUALIFICATIONS:
Previous bike shop mechanic experience (at least 2 years).
Extensive current knowledge of a wide variety of full-suspension mountain bikes.
Ability to bleed and rebuild multiple hydraulic brake systems
Ability to perform 50 hour service on Fox and RockShox forks and shocks.

How to Apply

Please email your resume to barry@fattirefarm.com

Division Transit Project set to break ground this week

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

The same week that calls for better, faster, more frequent bus service made the front page of the Willamette Week, TriMet says they plan to make a major announcement about their Division Transit Project. [Read more…]

Let’s be like Leslie Carlson and make driving the speed limit a hot new trend

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

“What started as an exercise in modifying my own behavior has become an interesting social experiment in watching other drivers react.”
— Leslie Carlson

[Read more…]