Business leaders hear how Portland has fallen behind and needs their support to reach transportation goals

Posted on January 31st, 2018 at 12:14 pm.

The event was held at the vintage decor shop Urbanite on SE Grand Ave.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Business for a Better Portland hosted its first policy event of the year last night. The up-and-coming association is looking to be a counterbalance the impact of the Portland Business Alliance, a more conservative group that has had a vast — and some would say deleterious — influence on city transportation policy over the years.

“When I got here the PBA [Portland Business Alliance] was the only voice that was listened to. In four short years that has changed dramatically and this business group has tremendous influence.”
— Leah Treat, PBOT

Billed as “Portland’s Transportation Future: Business Stepping Up To The Challenge” — the goal of the event was primarily one of education and networking. If Portland is going to fulfill a progressive transportation agenda that breaks through the driving-dominant status quo that’s shackling us to the past, the business leaders of our region must rally behind a new vision and lobby electeds and bureaucrats to make it a reality. Business for a Better Portland seems poised to lead that movement, having grown from zero to 210 dues-paying members in the past year alone.

One of the panelists, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat, spoke to this dynamic during last night’s discussion. “This organization has had a growing voice in the city, especially with City Hall,” she shared. “When I got here the PBA [Portland Business Alliance] was the only voice that was listened to. In four short years that has changed dramatically and this business group has tremendous influence.”

The event featured Treat and three other transportation leaders: Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson; former Washington Secretary of Transportation (and candidate for Metro President) Lynn Peterson; and Nolan Lienhart, the director of planning and urban design at ZGF Architects. The moderator was Oregon Humanities Director Adam Davis.

Top: Nolan Lienhart, ZGF Architects and former Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson. Bottom: County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson (L) and PBOT Director Leah Treat.

Blumenauer via video.

It seems like no discussion of Portland’s transportation future can happen without a look back at the projects and people who were present during our glory days. Last night it was U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer who set the table with a pre-recorded video message (he was busy at a State of the Union-related event). From a big screen above the panelists and crowd, Blumenauer said the Portland region needs to figure out its priorities and move forward on them. “This is an outgrowth of deep expressions of concern I’ve heard from our community over the last few years,” he said, “That our region is falling behind on transportation and infrastructure.”

“This is an outgrowth of deep expressions of concern I’ve heard from our community over the last few years that our region is falling behind on transportation and infrastructure.”
— Earl Blumenauer, congressman

We’ve been pounding this stagnation problem for many years now and believe me when I say this: It is no small thing for one of the most prominent figures in Portland’s lauded transportation legacy to publicly acknowledge that Portland has fallen behind. (Leaders rely on the success narrative to cement their legacy and positions, so admitting things have gotten bad takes courage and integrity.)

“Our past successes,” Blumenauer continued (after mentioning light rail, defeating the Mt. Hood Freeway, and the Tilikum Crossing), “are not the end of our story.”

The problem as Blumenauer sees it — and what became a recurring theme of the evening — is that leaders in our region can’t agree on a vision to move forward with. “Our region is struggling to fully agree on what we should do next and exactly what we need… We appear frozen in place.”

The moderator Adam Davis then asked the panelists several questions. There wasn’t any huge news made here and since the event wasn’t intended to be wonky, no one got into the weeds on anything. But there were some notable statements and exchanges.

When asked by the moderator to name existing obstacles that prevent us from moving forward, PBOT Director Treat made a passionate plea for more citizen advocacy:

“At the City of Portland, we have so many amazing projects lined up. So many things that we can deliver. We have tons of stuff we want to do. What we need is support from the business community, from Portlanders everywhere, to help our council make some really hard decisions. Every time that we do a big transportation project, the sense at city council is that there are binary choices being made; that there are winners and losers being presented. And rather than having a conversation about who’s winning and losing, we need people to come together and voice their support for outcomes and policy decisions that the council needs to stick with. Every Wednesday morning at 9:00 the council agenda is open for anyone to come talk about anything. And they listen. If you showed up in front of council your voice will be 100 times more important than mine over the course of the year. So show up!”


Solid turnout.

Jessica Vega Pederson said the problem is that a clear vision has not been articulated. Lynn Peterson said we focus too much on individual projects and we need to, “Go toward a corridor mentality.” Nolan Lienhart said, “We’ve done a lot of the big visionary things people were thinking about us needing to do in the 70s and early 80s — so now it’s time to recharge that.”

“Our vision needs to be a description of a system rather than a disparate strategy. Yes it’s not the same solution everywhere, but it’s also not six different solutions that don’t relate to each other.”
— Nolan Lienhart, ZGF

When the discussion turned to the geographic equity — and inequity — of transportation investments, Lienhart said our planning approach should be more unified. “Our vision needs to be a description of a system rather than a disparate strategy. Yes it’s not the same solution everywhere, but it’s also not six different solutions that don’t relate to each other.”

Then there was an interesting exchange between Peterson and Treat. Peterson argued for having a, “Base level of service we are providing for everyone in the region.” To which Treat replied, “I agree… But people in east Portland have been under-invested and under-serviced, and they still have the worst transportation network in the city. So while we do want to have an overall system that works for everyone, I think it’s disingenuous to not point out that we have much greater need and obligation to invest in east Portland.”

The highlight of the night was an audience question.

The panelists were seated in front of north-facing windows that looked onto rush-hour on the SE Grand-Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd couplet. A man in the back of the room (I regret not getting his name) said, “The backdrop behind you is an unending stream of cars coming off the Morrison Bridge. It’s deliciously ironic. This [pointing to the room] is the choir, that [pointing outside] is the congregation. What do you preach to them when they think that whatever you say is going to cost them more and leave them with less?”

Treat, who was very sharp all night, jumped on it. Here’s her answer:

“We are experiencing tremendous population growth, and they’re going to continue to come. Our system is reaching capacity and the way we have to manage it is not going to be through building new roads, so we have to start working the system to help prioritize throughput for cars, to help prioritize throughput for freight, and add travel options for other people. And I don’t know if we’ll be able to say, ‘It won’t cost you more.’ We’re looking at congestion/value pricing for a reason. The studies we have from the Rose Quarter show that 26 percent of the trips that are made at the PM peak through the Rose Quarter are discretionary. If we can get 26 percent of discretionary trips off the Rose Quarter in the PM peak, it would be the same effect as building the auxiliary lanes as proposed [In the I-5 Rose Quarter project]. So we can’t please everybody and we’re all competing for very valuable space.”

Treat’s comment is important. Note that her argument includes telling people who mostly drive that their trip times might actually improve if we redesigned roads and started to charge people to use them. And the best line of the night was how she directly questioned the need for the new lanes as proposed by the Oregon Department of Transportation in the I-5 Rose Quarter project. PBOT has been a staunch ally and partner of ODOT’s on that controversial freeway widening project. Are Treat’s comments a sign that the City of Portland might support pricing and transportation demand management before the project breaks ground?. CORRECTION, 2/1: Portland City Council passed an amendment to the Comp Plan in October stating that ODOT and PBOT should work together to use pricing and TDM, “as soon as feasible and prior to the opening of this project.”

Overall, the night felt like a sucess for Business for Better Portland. From a policy standpoint, there was a lot of talk about a vision but there was still no clear description of what it should be. Another thing I’ll takeaway is that it is now completely mainstream to acknowledge — even at the highest levels of leadership — that Portland has fallen behind and is in dire need of a bold wake-up call that can summon the courage we had 40 years ago.

From here, Business for a Better Portland says they’ll convene a working-group to come up with a transportation-related “call to action” they’ll broadcast in March. Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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At route reveal party, Cycle Oregon will look to roll past tumult of 2017

Posted on January 30th, 2018 at 3:02 pm.

Cycle Oregon Executive Director Steve Schulz is eager to move past 2017.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Tomorrow night Cycle Oregon will celebrate the 30th running of their week-long “Classic” ride. At least they hope it will run this year.

It’s Cycle Oregon’s 31st year in existence, but last year’s ride was cancelled at the last minute due to wildfires that ravaged several sections of the planned route. This year the nonprofit is back with lessons learned and hopes that their fans are willing to give them another shot.

They’ll get a chance to make their pitch for the 2018 ride at the annual Kickoff Party at the Portland Art Museum Wednesday night.
[Read more…]

‘MAMIL’ (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) documentary coming to Portland

Posted on January 30th, 2018 at 9:36 am.

Official poster.

I can’t believe someone made a documentary out of this. But I’m happy they did.

MAMIL’s are the oft-ridiculed cycling world sub-culture characterized by men in bright-and-tight lycra who speed around in packs chasing Strava segments and trying to recapture their glory days. Now their story has been told in a feature documentary, MAMIL, that will screen one night only in Portland. The screening is organized by Demand Film, a “cinema on demand” service that is showing MAMIL on 300 theaters across the country on the same night: February 21st. You can see it in the Portland area at: Regal Fox Tower Stadium 6, Regal Lloyd Center 10, and Regal Hilltop 9 Cinema (Oregon City).

The film is narrated by legendary Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett. Here’s the official blurb:

“MAMIL captures on film the spirit and the members of a movement that is growing throughout the world — middle-aged men taking to their cycles and biking through mountains, city streets, you name it, all in the name of CYCLING. Some do it for health, some for love, others just to clear their heads and face the world. And despite all the crashes, mega-pricey carbon fiber cycles, and wives worrying that they’ve been replaced by two wheels and a $1,200 bicycle seat, these guys wouldn’t have it any other way.

Filmed in the U.S., Australia and the U.K., MAMIL is a celebration of the love that can finally be shared – that of man for bike. You might be in an LGBT cycling club in New York or Christian in the Midwest; you might be a lawyer or a cancer survivor, you might be hauling your middle-aged belly over the next hill, or speeding along the open road, but you still thrill to the meditation of the bike.”

Here’s the official trailer:

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Ovarian Psycos documentary is coming to Portland this Sunday

Posted on January 24th, 2018 at 10:07 am.

A documentary based on the East Los Angeles-based activist group known as the Ovarian Psycos will be shown in Portland this Sunday night as a benefit for the Community Cycling Center.

The “OVAS” as they’re often known — which stands for Overthrowing Vendidxs (vendidos, or sell-outs), Authority, and the State — began in 2010. They define their politics and activism as having, “feminist ideals with indigena understanding and an urban/hood mentality!” Using bicycles as a tool for power and organizing, the Ovas annual rides include the Black Mass (“Resistance on Two Wheels”), Clitoral Mass, protests against gentrification, and more. Beyond riding, they empower and inspire young womxn of color to become community leaders.

“We are connecting dots,” they write on their website, “becoming aware of community agencies, spaces and movimientos in an effort to solidify our local networks making everything and everyone more accessible for and to each other.”
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Finding heaven on the Hell of the North Plains

Posted on January 22nd, 2018 at 4:04 pm.

And then there was this bright green meadow on our way up to the top of Wildcat Mountain.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sometimes all it takes to find a good adventure on two wheels is to just look a little harder.

Many of the best roads on Saturday’s Hell of the North Plains ride were in places I’ve ridden or driven near for many years. But somehow, someway, the routefinding raconteurs at Our Mother the Mountain (OMTM) manage to go deeper into (relatively) local backroads than most of us will ever venture on our own.
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Weekend Event Guide: Tree-planting by bike, competitive bar games, indoor MTB clinic, and more

Posted on January 12th, 2018 at 9:44 am.

Sunday Parkways NW 2011-13-12

Like riding by trees? Why not plant a few for future generations to enjoy. You can do that on Saturday’s Friends of Trees ride.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Before we get into this weekend’s event selections, I want to give a big shout-out to all the Portlanders in Reno, Nevada for the USA Cyclocross National Championships. We’ve got some stellar people representing us and I hope they achieve their goals.

With that, here are some ideas to help motivate you during these wet and dark times.

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Sixth annual Oregon Triple Crown series promises adventures and challenges

Posted on January 9th, 2018 at 11:48 am.

From solitary climbs deep in the forest to picturesque pavement with a peloton, the Triple Crown has a lot to offer.
(Photos: Mike Ripley/Mudslinger Events)

The Oregon Triple Crown is unlike any other bike event series in the state: It’s sort of like a race, but it’s also just as much about participation; much of the terrain is in the mountains, but it’s not a mountain bike event; it’s organized and sanctioned, but it’s still got plenty of adventure and self-reliance is a necessary trait.

The Triple Crown is now in its sixth year and organizer Mike Ripley (Mudslinger Events) just announced this year’s dates and details. The series will consist of: the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic on May 5th, the Sasquatch Duro on May 19th, and the Oregon Gran Fondo on June 2nd. These three events offer a mix of terrain and challenges that should raise the eyebrows of any adventure-seeker.

Here’s a bit more on each event:
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It’s BikeCraft weekend: Here are a few fabulous finds from opening night

Posted on December 16th, 2017 at 9:10 am.

Makeshifter bags, Sketchy Trails art, 1 by Liz clocks, panniers from Market Mule. Oh my!
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

BikeCraft is back and we couldn’t be happier. This event — which is open all weekend — celebrates local, bike-inspired arts and crafts. It started in 2005 and has come roaring back this year thanks to an organizational boost from our friends Elly Blue and Joe Biel from Microcosm Publishing and Brian Echerer from Velo Gioielli.

Last night was a special preview party and benefit for event host The Bike Farm (1810 NE 1st, two blocks from Broadway/Williams). I swung through to chat with vendors and see the wonderful things they make and sell.

Below is just a sample…
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Meet the BikeCrafters: Liz Carlis, Tomas Quinones, and Chris Chapman

Posted on December 12th, 2017 at 11:38 am.

Just three days until the big Friday preview party and BikeCraft weekend!

In case you haven’t heard, Portland’s bike-centric holiday gift fair is back. BikeCraft 2017 is December 15-17 at the Bike Farm (1810 NE 1st Ave.) and it’s powered by Microcosm Publishing.

To get you ready, our friend Elly Blue (Microcosm’s co-owner and marketing director) has been profiling the fantastic people behind the crafts (see the all of them here). Below are three more BikeCrafters you’ll get to meet at the big event. (Note: This is the final post in this series. See you at the event!)
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New ownership for Worst Day of the Year and other popular Portland rides

Posted on December 8th, 2017 at 1:02 pm.

Worst Day of the Year Ride 2011-1

Start of 2011 Worst Day of the Year Ride.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Portland-based Axiom Event Productions has purchased four major local bike rides.

The company, which launched in 2013 when it earned the exclusive contract to manage the City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways events, is now in charge of putting on the Worst Day of the Year Ride, Petal Pedal, Tour de Lab, and the Portland Century. They’ll be operated by Events by Axiom, LLC.

Axiom purchased the events from their previous owner, Good Sport Promotion. Also in included in the sale is, a website that promotes cycling and events statewide. Good Sport’s owner Porter Childs has started a new business selling custom bike jerseys.
[Read more…]