Jonathan Maus is BikePortland's editor, publisher and founder. Contact him at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Contractors working on a City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services project in the central eastside want to spread the word about near collisions between bicycle riders and heavy equipment.
BES recently broke ground on their SE Stark Trunk Sewer Project, which will install a stormwater diversion structure to redirect combined sewer from a pipeline on Stark to the Willamette River during heavy rain events. Big pieces of material and heavy equipment are staged on SE 3rd near Stark. This is a relatively popular bike route that connects to SE Water Avenue.
We heard from a BES rep today that the contractor has reported some near misses with equipment operators and they’re worried about keeping the area safe.
One block of SE Stark between 2nd and 3rd, and one block of 3rd between Washington and Stark are closed during construction (which is expected to continue for five more months).
The detour is to use the sidewalks on Water Ave to get around the construction zone. Since sidewalks can be crowded, please consider walking your bike if you are unable to pass other people with safety and respect. “Cyclists must avoid riding on closed roadways even if it looks like there’s enough room for a bike to navigate around construction,” reads a BES construction bulletin sent out today.
The BES source we spoke to also said if the near misses continue, they might have to hire police officers to direct traffic.
Finally! It appears we have warmer, sunnier weather on the horizon. And it’s a good thing because Bike Summer is still going strong into its third (of 12!) weeks.
To help guide you through the fun options, every Monday (sorry, I couldn’t get to this yesterday) we choose one ride from each day that looks interesting and worthy of your attention. As always, check out our Weekend Event Guide and Calendar for more of our ride selections (remember you can filter our calendar to only show the Pedalpalooza category).
This week you’ll have a chance to make some noise with some fun music-themed rides…
Tuesday, June 21st
Sync It! – 7:00 pm at Woodstock Park (SE) Booming music makes group rides better. But a cacophony of competing crooners can be sound more like chaos than coolness. Leaders of this ride will sync up their devices and roll with a shared Spotify playlist that everyone can contribute to. More info here.
Wednesday, June 22nd
Bleeps and Bloops Ride – 6:00 pm at Holladay Park (NE) A different take on a musical ride, organizers promise a musical parade and encourage participants to, “Strap on your synthesizers, your noisemaking devices, your ring modulators and Gameboys…and your mini-xylophones, too,” as they pedal from park to park. More info here.
Thursday, June 23rd
Drum n Bass Ride – 8:00 pm at Powell Park (SE) If you’re looking for a dance ride, this could be right up your alley. Ride leaders say, “There will be plenty of jungle, breakbeats, bangers, new and old.” More info here.
Friday, June 24th
Better Naito Forever Celebration Ride – 5:00 pm at Salmon Street Fountain (SW) The new protected bike lanes on Naito Parkway that opened last month are a huge deal. Just as important as the lanes themselves is how the project came about. This ride will be led by activists from Better Block PDX who were there at the beginning. They will regale you with tales of pushing the limits of PBOT and will share what it took to get this project over the finish line. More info here.
As always, check the official calendar for details on every single ride. And be sure to check official event pages for latest updates and cancellations before you roll out. Have fun out there!
Happy Juneteenth, the (now national) holiday that marks the day in 1865 when word of the Emancipation Proclamation made its way to Texas and the last remaining Black slaves in America were finally set free. Learn more about it here.
Here are the most notable stories and other items our writers and readers came across in the past seven days.
Cycling history: If you haven’t heard about Jody Rosen’s excellent new book on the history of the bicycle, Two Wheels Good, I can highly recommend it! Check out this review from The Economist for a taste of its scope.
Southeast Portlanders are mourning the loss of Seven Corners Cycles after owner Corey Cartwright announced he will close the shop by the middle of August. The shop, on SE 21st just north of Powell Blvd, has been in business 22 years. (The name of the shop comes from its first location in the Seven Corners neighborhood around SE 21st and Division.)
Cartwright says he’s curious what else life might have to offer him and that, “I think I’ve begun to feel the effects of 22 years in my brain and in my back!”
In a Facebook post this week Cartwright said he’s sad to be moving on but also excited about what the future holds. He plans to have a progressive liquidation sale to get rid of existing inventory through next month.
Seven Corners was one of those dependable neighborhood shops that people came to love and rely on. Much of that had to do with Cartwright’s fun-loving and familial vibe and the shop dog “Hammy”.
If no one takes over Seven Corners, it will leave a gap in our community in more ways than one. It’s currently the only bike shop in a nearly 1.5-mile stretch between SE 12th and 36th. If you live in the Ladd’s Addition, Richmond, Brooklyn, Woodstock, or Creston-Kenilworth neighborhoods, check out TomCat Bikes (3117 SE Milwaukie), Beezle Bikes (2505 SE 11th), Retrogression (2315 SE 11th), Missing Link (4635 SE Woodstock Blvd), or Cynergy E-Bikes (3608 SE Powell) as alternatives.
And if you’re mad or sad about this news, you can blame it partly on Taylor Swift.
“I’m not sure how it happened, but a handful of years ago I discovered that I was an actual fan of Taylor Swift,” Cartwright wrote on Facebook. “In her monster hit ‘22’, Swift states ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.’ Maybe it’s the fact that our store is approaching twenty two years of business?”
Racing bikes and riding them for fun over rough terrain and long distances can be a very expensive endeavor. In most cities, including Portland, the racing and serious riding scene is also dominated by white people. Those two factors erect significant barriers for Black and other people of color who love bikes and want to get more into the sport, but often feel unwelcome to join the club or simply don’t have the best gear to succeed.
HiFi Sound Cycling Components, an east Portland-based company founded in 2013, recognized these barriers and has stepped up to do something about it.
BikePOC PNW formed in early 2021 as a response to the national reckoning around racial justice that followed the police killing George Floyd. The group provides a safe space for Black, Indigenous and people of color to ride together, explore their cycling potential, and create community.
BikePOC PNW’s relationship with HiFi started last year when the company set them up with bikes, and heavy discounts on their popular wheelsets and other components.
According to BikePOC PNW leader Will Cortez, this $15,000 in funding will allow them to upgrade the bike library, host a series of off-road cycling clinics, cover race registration fees, purchase club jerseys, and more.
For Cortez, the support from HiFi isn’t about the money. “Take away the gear and racing and events, and this is about people.” In a conversation with Cortez today, he said the funding will also be used to pay for trauma healing courses for people in the club who need it.
Cortez said he believes HiFi is an outlier in the local bike racing community when it comes to walking the talk around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“We’re not being tokenized. HiFi isn’t tooting their own horn and using us for their own purposes. They’ve been a silent partner. They let us craft what this partnership looks like,” he said.
Too often when a company makes a diversity pledge, they either do nothing or they expect Black and Brown people to do all the work. That’s a red flag for Cortez. With HiFi, he said “It’s not an extractive relationship.”
HiFi has also used its industry connections to advocate on behalf of BIPOC racers, using the confidence and awareness they’ve gained through their relationship with BikePOC PNW.
While Cortez applauded HiFi’s approach, he said they’re outliers in a community where Black and Brown riders face challenges.
“I was emotionally exhausted,” Cortez said about his experience on the OBRA DEI committee. “It was very labor intensive. There was an expectation that the Black and Brown co-chair would lead the work, but the work was never defined and it seemed like an afterthought,” he said. Cortez appreciates that HiFi is being proactive instead of just sitting back and waiting for things to change.
HiFi Cyclocross Team Manager Erin Lolich said she’s enjoyed working with BikePOC PNW. “It’s an amazing group of brilliant, talented, fun-loving people on bikes. What could be better?” She called the funding and other support, “A small, very important step toward deconstructing white supremacy in the Portland cycling community.”
Of the many creations inspired by Pedalpalooza over the years, perhaps none is more special than Bike Play.
The event/ride is an original play written for Pedalpalooza that includes professional acting, multiple scenes, and original song and dance numbers. The stages are parks, parking lots, and other public spaces and the audience rides alongside the actors to each one. There are no tickets and everyone is welcome.
This is the 13th year of Bike Play, and Thursday night a huge crowd enjoyed every minute of it.
Created by The Working Theater Collective under the direction of Ashley Hollingshead, this year’s play was titled Beyond Velodrome: PDX Drift. The entire cast helped write the play and rehearsed four days a week since March. After seeing last night’s show, their hard work has clearly paid off.
The setting was a post-apocalyptic Portland in the “Pacific Northwasteland” that had suffered a mass inflation event.
The first of five scenes was staged at Capitalism Fountain outside the ruins of Lloyd Center Mall on Northeast Multnomah and 9th. The sculpture was an apt backdrop for the drama that would unfold.
Announcer Scott Weidlich (who also played Tom Cruiser) set the scene by describing that the Portland as we know it had died because people became too enamored with stuff. “The more they had, the more they worshiped at the beacon of commerce,” Weidlich pronounced to the huge crowd.
“Into the silence came bicycle gangs,” he continued. “They were ruthless, and they survived.”
The Broken Spokes were the toughest gang in town. When a Stranger (played by Hans Ellis) showed up searching for community and a long lost Brooks saddle that was owned by his dead father, he finds more than he bargained for.
Alongside his bike named “Hermes,” the Stranger saves eventual love interest Schwinnona Rider (played by Lindsay Liden) from a rival gang and decides he wants to become a Broken Spoke himself. But he must first survive the “Rite of Rituals” and navigate a series of trials as well as relationships with friends and enemies.
One of the trials is a bike race that takes place in a parking lot off Northeast Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The way they depicted the action was brilliant. The actors stood in place (without bikes, see photo below) as if they were astride their bikes in a peloton. The announcer gave a play-by-play as the drama ensued. At points of high tension between the Stranger and his arch rival, Racer X (played by Brett Hamann), the announcer and actors went into slow-motion mode and hilarity ensued.
During a scene played at Harriet Tubman Middle School, there was a delightfully choreographed dance to The Weeknd’s hit song Blinding Lights. One of my favorite moments was a campy yet very sweet duet sung by the Stranger and Schwinnona Rider.
And if you love puns, you are in for a treat. The script was full of Portland and bike-related jokes. Cycle Angelo (Hayley Hessler) described one of the characters as being, “Like a voracious racoon rummaging through a Laughing Planet dumpster.” And when The Stranger showed up at the gang’s secret hideout and said, “I come in peace,” a suspicious Dwayne “U-Lock” Johnson (Yohhei Sato) replied, “Bikely story.”
For the final scene we returned to Lloyd Center. As the sun set over the West Hills, the crowd settled on the roof of a parking lot to watch the resolution.
Did the Broken Spokes survive an internal rift with Skid Vicious (played by Kris Mahoney-Watson)? What secret was Racer X hiding? Was the gang being sabotaged from within by Cycle Angelo (Hayley Hessler), the mechanic Fixie Mattel (Emilie Landmann) or Dwayne “U-Lock” Johnson (Yohhei Sato)?
You’ll have to see it yourself to find out.
I cannot recommend this enough! The script is brilliant and the performances were heartfelt and on-point. Bike Play 13 runs for three more nights, June 17th, 18th and 19th. Get the details on our calendar. For updates, follow Bike Play on Instagram.
If you appreciate the amazing work of these artists, consider supporting them via Venmo @bike-play.
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A man who friends described as a “shining beacon of hugs and puns” will be remembered with a public group bicycle ride on Sunday, June 26th.
Aaron Proton Tarfman died by suicide on April 29th, but the circumstances surrounding his death were not made public until May 26th.
Aaron was a friend to many people in our community and had been deeply involved in cycling and transportation-related activism for many years. We shared more about Aaron along with photos and remembrances from people who knew him, in a post last month.
This morning his close friend Jay Monk announced that a procession ride for Aaron will take place in southeast Portland later this month.
Here are the details:
Fun-eral Ride Procession for Aaron Proton Tarfman Sunday, June 26th, 5 pm
Springwater Trail at Johnson Creek Blvd
Ride will gather on the Springwater trail west of Johnson Creek Blvd. 5 pm. Dress as you would to attend a funeral. Please refrain from buying anything to attend this ride. Bringing food to share is welcome. Out of respect for our deceased friend, please only bring vegan friendly foods.
If bike riding is prohibitive, folks may meet us at Sellwood Riverfront park.
The ride will end at Sellwood Park. Slow pace over 2.6 miles of mostly flat terrain. Themes for this ride include funeral puns, resilience responses, suicide awareness, personal and collective grief support. Space given to share stories.
Los Angeles City Council voted 11-3 Tuesday in favor of a new law that would target people who sell and repair used bikes in public without a permit. The ordinance targets bicycle thieves who live outside and critics say it unfairly targets homeless people.
Bicycle “chop shops” are relatively common in Portland. We’ve reported on Portland Police Bureau investigations in the past where known criminals were stripping down stolen bikes into stacks of separate parts in order to profit off the sale of the bikes and/or to anonymize the bikes and prevent them from being recovered by theft victims or police.
But there’s a wide spectrum of bicycle activity in homeless camps. Many people who live on the street rely on bikes to get around. And just like people with houses and garages, they have a right to own more than one bike, to fix them, and to sell them to other people. There’s also the right to remain innocent until proven guilty, which is one reason I didn’t refer to a camp on SE Alder Street as a ‘chop shop’ in a story last month.
Except as otherwise stated in this section, no person shall assemble, disassemble, sell, offered to sell distribute, offered to distribute or store the following items on public property within the city: • Five or more bicycle parts • A bicycle frame with the gear cables or brake cables cut • Two or more bicycles with missing bicycle parts; or three or more bicycles.
The prohibitions shall not apply to:
• A person operating under a valid city business license or permit authorizing such activities. • A person in possession of a single bicycle, which is being repaired as a result of malfunction or damage that occurred while a person rode the bicycle on public property. The sole purpose of the repair shall be to restore the bicycle to its operational form and enable the person to resume riding the bicycle.
It also remains to be seen if Portland City Council would ever attempt something like this. Given the politics around homelessness and cycling here, I doubt we’d ever see an attempt at a similar law. But these days it’s not a good idea to predict anything when it comes to complicated issues.
Who can blame folks for wanting to meet up with friends, show off their cool cars, create content for social media, and blow off some steam?
Street racing, drifting and “takeovers” are revving up for summer. Last Sunday night hundreds of people and cars took over sections of streets throughout the city to show off their drifting and street racing skills.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, groups took over seven different locations between 8:00 pm Sunday night and 1:00 am Monday morning. They must have known it was coming because they conducted an enforcement mission that resulted in seven arrests, seven towed vehicles and the recovery of a gun.
The largest takeover was on NE 13th and Multnomah where PPB says over 200 people took part.
While police play whack-a-mole and barely make a dent in the problem (while creating even more excitement and drama for the street racers, something that likely makes it more attractive to some of them), the takeovers persist. If Sunday night’s action is any indication, their popularity might even be on the rise.
And who can blame these folks for wanting to meet up with friends, show off their cars, create content for social media accounts, and blow off some steam? In many ways they’re similar to the big group bike rides that happen daily as part of Pedalpalooza. It’s all part of a similar human desire for cultural expression, adrenalin, social bonding, and so on.
But these street takeovers are very different in important ways. They’ve led to fatal crashes many times, they pump toxic emissions into our air and waterways, and they put innocent people at risk. We need to do more to prevent them. Even if we think these events are confined to willing participants, we must consider spillover effects. People don’t turn off this type of reckless driving when they leave a large gathering. I’ve seen burnouts and reckless speeding happen many times and we all know dangerous driving behavior is rampant in Portland today.
Maybe one answer is to deploy simple traffic calming tools.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has already installed many of those little, rubber, yellow-and-black striped curbs all over the city. It’s part of a “left-turn calming” effort to improve safety and prevent injuries and deaths to other road users. One carefully placed, mountable curb could effectively prevent someone from doing burnouts and drifting around an intersection. I’m sure engineers and planners could find other clever ways to do this if a curb isn’t feasible.
Preventing activities through infrastructure design is old hat for government agencies. Along with private property owners, they’ve become creative and efficient at installing hostile infrastructure on sidewalks in order to prevent people from erecting tents and sleeping in the public right-of-way. They’ve also decided there are places where skateboarding is not allowed and they’ve installed tiny bumps on curbs and benches to prevent “grinding” and other tricks.
We should apply a similar approach to intersections.
Smartly placed bits of hard infrastructure could safely and effectively prevent a lot of these dangerous activities while simultaneously improving traffic safety overall. It could also be an opportunity for PBOT and the Portland Police Bureau to collaborate on a project that doesn’t focus on enforcement, yet allows both agencies to address a problem together.
After a four-year honeymoon, the City of Portland is ready to settle down with shared electric scooters.
Earlier this month the Bureau of Transportation released a request for proposals that aims to find a company to run a shared e-scooter system that would remove the current “pilot program” status and run through 2025.
The decision to double-down on scooters comes after PBOT has spent the past four years test-riding them and and analyzing impacts on car trip reduction, safety, and accessibility for people typically underserved by the transportation system. The first pilot launched in July 2018. The program had detractors, but riders voted with their feet and logged over 700,000 rides in just four months. PBOT launched a second pilot in April 2019 and the system has worked well enough for them to keep it running through today.
Since 2018 PBOT has worked with six different scooter companies and has permitted 2,990 scooters for a system that has logged more than 3.2 million trips.
In PBOT’s eyes, e-scooters have passed all the tests and it’s time to end the courtship and tie the knot.
“We believe shared e-scooters have a long-term future in Portland and this request for proposals is a major, tangible step in that direction,” said PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera yesterday when we asked him about the significance of the RFP. “E-scooters have shown themselves to be a convenient, useful and environmentally sustainable part of our transportation system.”
PBOT says they’ll award the contract to one or two vendors and the new fleet will grow to 3,500 scooters (up from 3,100 today). The winner of the contract(s) must demonstrate how they’ll achieve the city’s three goals of: reducing vehicle miles traveled and combating climate change, promoting safety and responsible riding, and reducing impacts of racial disparities that exist in our transportation system.
One of the biggest complaints about scooters is how they clutter sidewalks and block right-of-way. The RFP reveals that PBOT wants to take a big step to tackle that problem by requiring vendors to provide a “lock-to mechanism” for every e-scooter in the fleet and require riders to use it. Lyft, the company that runs Portland’s Biketown bike share system, recently launched their first docked scooter stations in Chicago.
PBOT says they won’t require specialized docks for the scooters. Bike racks and other types of “approved infrastructure” can be considered a “lock-to mechanism.”
Following a successful expansion of the current service area well beyond the central city and into east and northeast Portland, the new system will expand its geographic footprint. PBOT says they’ll require operators to maintain a minimum service level in neighborhoods citywide.
Ease of access is also something PBOT hopes to improve with the new contract.
With four scooter companies operating in Portland today, users have to have a different app to rent from each one. When the new operators are chosen this fall, users will need only one or two.
Speaking of apps, PBOT is working on a new one that will include scooter rentals and take its successful Transportation Wallet program to the next level. They’re working with software company RideShark to develop, “an integrated platform to distribute multi-modal transportation incentives to qualified Portlanders in 2023.”
E-scooters are currently one of the most expensive forms of transportation in Portland with an average trip costing about $5.55. That’s more than twice the cost of a transit trip, more than three times the cost of a typical Biketown trip, and even more expensive than driving a car! In their RFP, PBOT says they want scooter rentals to cost no more than $1 to unlock and no more than $0.35 per minute. Would-be scooter vendors will also need to provide cash payment options and participate in discount programs for lower-income riders.
Accessibility might also improve due to a stipulation in the RFP that requires companies to create a customer service portal and complaint process that is integrated with the City’s 311 system, “that are continually accessible to riders and community members with various types of disabilities.”
Rivera says moving into a more serious relationship with e-scooters will improve the system for everyone. Fewer companies will lead to more market share and financial stability for the operators, and removing the “pilot” status will give PBOT a stronger regulatory stance to create a system more closely aligned with their vision.
The next chapter of e-scooters in Portland will, “change the city’s relationship from a regulator to a partner,” Rivera said. “It will be more like the Biketown relationship and less like the city’s relationship with taxis and transportation network companies (Uber and Lyft, etc).”
For example, the new contract will require companies to use salaried employees that receive benefits, instead of contractors.
If all goes according to plan, Portland’s new scooter service would start later this year or early 2023 and run through fall 2025. Current scooter vendors will be allowed to operate until the future system is launched so there will be no gap in service.
The longer I document bike culture, the more I realize just how much a bike and a motivated rider can do together. Just when I feel like I’ve seen it all, I am once again inspired and amazed.
This phenomenon came into play once again at the 10th annual Disaster Relief Trials, which were held Saturday at Cully Park in Northeast Portland.
The idea that bicycles can play a big role after a big disaster strikes has gone from the fringe to the mainstream in the past decade or so and this event is a big reason why. Organizers set up a mock re-supply run set four days after a disaster. There were a series of checkpoints and challenges each of the 30 or so competitors had to deal with. Among the tasks needed to finish were navigational skills, loading awkward objects, and lifting their bicycle (and trailer) over a park bench.