Editorial Section Archives

Editorial: In need of leadership, The Street Trust faces daunting road

Posted on April 25th, 2017 at 3:07 pm.

The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) is going through a major transition. With 15 paid staff and an annual budget of $1.3 million, the organization is currently looking for a new executive director and a communications director, forming a new 501(c)(4) political organizing committee, and launching a new strategic plan to guide their work for the next five years.

These major initiatives come on the heels of a name-change and expansion of their mission last summer.

No matter how you slice it, this is a lot of change for an organization that continues to search for that magic mix of leadership, vision, political power and community support that will allow them to lead the ever-growing transportation reform movement in Portland and beyond.
[Read more…]

Thoughts on car culture, truck side guards, and the “cyclist community”

Posted on April 6th, 2017 at 5:12 pm.

Just over two months ago 53-year-old Alan Marsan was killed while bicycling on North Interstate Avenue. He was going north and a large commercial truck turned right across his path.

Based on observations from the scene it was a classic right hook. The truck was stopped a few dozen feet from the intersection and Marsan and his bike were lodged just in front of the rear wheels.

That collision was just the latest in a long line of right hooks that have left bicycle riders dead in Portland over the years. As I stood at the scene of Marsan’s death, the names of other people who’ve died in fatal right hook collisions with trucks flashed through my head: Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, Kathryn Rickson, Kirke Johnson, Lydia Johnson (no relation).

Bicycles, large trucks and right hooks is one of Portland’s most vexing traffic safety problems. It’s maddening that we haven’t made more progress on it in the past decade.
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It can happen here: The normalization of highway expansions

Posted on April 3rd, 2017 at 2:51 pm.

Car traffic seen from Burnside Bridge-1

View of Portland via the Burnside Bridge in 2009. This problem needs better management, not more freedom to grow.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We are living in a time of extremes: climate, politics and public opinion have all ceded the moderate middle in favor of the faraway edges. When it comes to policy debates, ideas that once seemed too extreme to be taken seriously have managed to crawl their way back into the mainstream.
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Don’t blame the weather for this mess (or snow plows, or bad drivers, or…)

Posted on December 15th, 2016 at 9:58 am.

Portland made national news last night — and this image told quite a story.

Portland made national news last night — and this image told quite a story.

Welcome to the morning after.

After a few inches of snow fell on Wednesday afternoon, our region’s transportation system ground to a halt. Major freeways, arterials, and even many neighborhood streets were either completely gridlocked or impassable due to abandoned cars left in scrap heaps of twisted metal and broken dreams. Thousands of people were stranded for hours and backups continued on Highway 26 until midnight (midnight!). Thanks to an Associated Press story, the insanity of it all has brought us national attention.

Now we’ve entered the autopsy stage where everyone is trying to figure out how it happened.

The Oregonian broke it down to five reasons: We don’t use salt on our roads; people don’t carry chains; people don’t know how to drive in the snow; Portland doesn’t have enough snow plows, and transit is, “not equipped for hilly Portland.”

Sigh. Of course they forgot to mention something.

Here’s the inconvenient truth: Our over-reliance on single-occupancy motor vehicle use has real consequences. It leads to lots of injuries and deaths, it poisons our lungs, and it makes our transportation system extremely fragile and inefficient.
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Two more people were killed while walking across Southeast Division Street last night

Posted on December 8th, 2016 at 11:00 am.

division-maps2
(Note: This post is a mix of news and opinion.)

Two people were killed while walking on Division Street last night in separate collisions. The first one happened just before 7:00 pm at 156th Avenue. The second one happened around 9:00 pm near 87th. These are the 13th and 14th people to be killed while walking (about three over our average since 1996) and the 39th and 40th traffic fatalities so far this year. That’s the most fatalities we’ve had since 2003.

Division is already known as one of the most dangerous streets in Portland for vulnerable road users. This year alone five people have died in traffic crashes while using Division (four people walking and one person driving). In addition to those fatalities there have been at least three serious injury crashes on Division in 2016, including one with life-threatening injuries and another with traumatic injuries. Seven of these collisions happened on a two-mile stretch between 124th and 156th.
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Opinion: Using our strength in an uncertain time

Posted on November 18th, 2016 at 3:19 pm.

Sunset on Broadway Bridge-1

10 days after the election, as Trump and his cast of characters take the reins of power in Washington, I’m still having a hard time focusing on cycling news and policy. As I’m sure some of you are too.

I oscillate between thinking I should work even harder here on BikePortland and thinking I should add my voice and energy to other groups who need help resisting what look like ominous times ahead. Then there’s the stress, frustration and disappointment that make it hard to focus on anything at all.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for sympathy. In fact, I’ve come to the realization that I’m lucky.
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Oregon State Police blames vulnerable victims while driving deaths spin out of control

Posted on November 4th, 2016 at 4:44 pm.

Don't pay attention to this, but please make sure you wear hi-viz clothing next time you take the dog for walk.(Photos: Oregon State Police)

Just some of the Oregon driving carnage of the past two weeks.
(Photos: Oregon State Police)

This is an editorial.

The Oregon State Police issued a relatively rare safety message to the media today. In light of three collisions in the past nine days that resulted in the death of someone trying to walk or roll across a state highway, they included the following message in a press statement (emphasis theirs):

***This is the third fatal crash involving pedestrians that OSP has investigated in the past week***
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Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

Posted on October 13th, 2016 at 10:15 am.

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.(Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.
(Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

A person was killed this morning while bicycling on a rural road just east of Stayton, a small town about sixty miles south of Portland.

We don’t always cover fatal bicycle collisions so far away from the Portland metro area; but the statement about this one just released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office deserves a closer look. The language used in the statement shows how far Oregon law enforcement agencies have to go to create a culture around traffic deaths that is in line with Vision Zero principles.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s office, the collision occurred when someone driving a motor vehicle hit a bicycle rider from behind. Read their official statement (released just two and-a-half hours after the collision) and think about how the language paints the relative culpability of each party:
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Hey Portland, it’s not just “bicyclists” who want safer streets

Posted on October 5th, 2016 at 11:44 am.

notbicyclists1-kidssign

The kids who showed up for a safe streets vigil in the Arbor Lodge neighborhood last week are not “bicyclists”.
(Photo: Katy Asher)

Everybody wants safer streets — but you wouldn’t know that by reading local headlines or watching local news. That’s because the media often frames street safety issues as being something that only “the bicyclists” want.

That framing leads to more clicks and comments, but it’s not true. And it creates a road block to Portland’s progress.
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Traffic civility in Portland’s new era of congestion

Posted on August 24th, 2016 at 10:18 am.

Portland bike traffic-1.jpg

It’s not just Portland’s freeways that are crowded these days.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Please welcome back Sarah Gilbert. She’s written for us in the past about a cargo biking adventure and the psychology of anger.

Crystal was egged one day coming back from a bike tour, her guests trailing behind her on their bicycles. We don’t know why; just, bam, splat. The assailants only got her.

We’re both tour guides for the same company and I heard the story when I got back to the shop that afternoon. It’s busy work, with the tourist industry on the same upswing as everywhere-to-Portland immigration.
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