Job: Mechanic, Full or Part Time – Gladys Bikes

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Job Title

Mechanic, Full or Part Time

Company / Organization

Gladys Bikes

Job Description

At Gladys we focus on making folks feel welcome as soon as they walk through our door. We don’t make assumptions and we listen. We put a lot of focus on fit, comfort, and efficiency in all styles of riding. We provide high quality repairs at affordable rates and sell bicycles that we feel will last a lifetime, if not more. We are a small team that relies on great communication and attainable goals throughout the work day. We are looking for somebody who is one of 3 employees responsible for scheduling service, completing scheduled service, assisting customers with retail questions, and assisting Saddle Library Members during our open hours.

Job Overview & Responsibilities:
-24-40hrs per week
-$19-25 per hour depending on experience & responsibilities
-Willing to perform opening and closing duties
-Maintain realistic and accurate expectations with service customers when scheduling
-Perform scheduled service to a high quality standard and charging appropriately according to our service rates
-Check in with walk-in customers, assist with test rides, retail purchases, saddle library needs, service estimates, and same day repairs
-Answer the phone during our scheduled hours
-Maintain service area, retail space, and storage cleanliness and organization
Qualification:
-At least 2 years of shop experience as a mechanic and willing to do a skill assessment. If you have less than two years experience that’s ok we will just discuss more during the interview and skill assessment.
-Ability to communicate effectively to customers and coworkers
-Ability to not make assumptions on others skill level, preferences, or identity
-Must work at least 1 weekend shifts per week
-Reliability when it comes to arriving on time and communicating appropriately
-Inventory management experience is a plus

Benefits:
-Be apart of a supportive and communicative team in a fun and hardworking environment
-Generous Paid Time Off and Leave Policies
-Employee Purchase rates for bikes, components, and various outdoor gear brands
-Ability to mold your position if you see helpful changes or additions
-Medical Benefits negotiable with full time employment and job retention

How to Apply

Send resume and cover letter to cassie@gladysbikes.com
(allow 2-4 days to receive a response)

Lovers of bikes and beans will gather for international ‘Coffee Outside’ day

A recent Coffee Outside meetup at Laurelhurst Park. (Photo: PDXCoffeeOutside on IG)

To a devoted set of Portland coffee and bike lovers, Saturday mornings are set aside for riding to a local park to brew (and drink) coffee outside. This weekly event, aptly titled PDX Coffee Outside, has been a weekly local tradition for several years and it’s still going strong. And this Saturday October 1st is extra-special because it’s International Coffee Outside day with over 20 cities taking part around the globe.

Though organizers recognize the event may be associated with a certain type of Portlander – folks really into coffee and bike gear – they say all are welcome. The joy of Coffee Outside comes from community and meeting new people, not from winning at bike or espresso trivia.

“It’s bike nerds hanging out and drinking coffee outside,” Michael Mann, a hallmark Coffee Outside attendee, said. “But it’s a really diverse crowd as far as types of riding and what people are into.”

Coffee Outside organizer Brett Callahan agreed.

“We want all kinds of bikes and all types of people,” he said.

Corey Johns, another Coffee Outside regular, told me they love Coffee Outside because it’s “able to bring people together through the shared appreciation of a simple pleasure like enjoying a beverage outdoors.”

“I’m so glad to share the morning with many faces both familiar and new each Saturday,” Johns said. “Community and friendship can spring from surprising places!”

Though Coffee Outside get-togethers are very much bike-centric, they usually don’t involve a planned ride. But this week will be different. Mann worked with Portland-based bike navigation app maker Ride With GPS to develop a route for a group ride. They’ll start at Laurelhurst Park at 8 am and end at east Portland’s Luuwit View Park an hour later – the designated spot to break out their coffee equipment and get down to the important business of drinking coffee.

Mann said he chose Luuwit View, which is located in northeast Portland’s Argay neighborhood, because he wanted to encourage people to branch out from the typical Coffee Outside park rotation. A lot of the usual participants live closer to the city center and might be missing out on a wealth of park experiences to be had further out.

Ride With GPS will be giving away coffee-related prizes at the end spot, so you won’t want to miss it. (You can also skip the ride and just meet at Luuwit View at 9.) If you don’t have a portable coffee machine, don’t worry. Just bring a cup and some treats to share – someone will get you covered on the coffee. Find out more on the BikePortland Calendar and via PDX Coffee Outside on Instagram.

Portion of Fanno Creek path in Beaverton raised in response to flooding

It’s higher now — but note that 7-foot clearance! (Photo: Clean Water Services)

You won’t have to worry about getting wet while riding a section of the Fanno Creek Trail in Beaverton any longer. But you might have to worry about hitting your head.

Persistent flooding of the path where it goes under SW Scholls Ferry Road had become such a problem that Clean Water Services, a utility, recently completed a project that raised the path about 10 inches.

The causes of the flooding are threefold: the path is adjacent to natural wetlands where seasonal floods are normal; record rainfall has made the problem worse lately; and successful conservation efforts have led to a booming nearby beaver population.

As we reported in 2020, there are five beaver dams in a one-mile stretch of the trail between SW Hall and Scholls Ferry Rd. In a statement about the project released this week, CWS said they, “attempted to help reduce impacts in the short term by lowering the beaver dam downstream from Scholls Ferry Road twice in July, but the beavers quickly rebuilt the dam.”

The resulting floods on the path (which can also include thick mud) are more than a minor inconvenience because the alternate route is inconvenient and requires crossing of a very busy road

The newly raised path means the trail will remain rideable through the winter (for now at least). Unfortunately, because Clean Water Services (who collaborated with City of Tigard and Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation Department on the project) didn’t raise the level of the road, the new overhead clearance is a scant 7 feet! This is well below the 10-feet vertical clearance recommended by the national nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidebook. AASHTO says if an area is “constrained,” the minimum can go down to 8 feet.

We hope the top of the underpass is well-marked with something reflective and lit so that no one is hurt riding under it.

PBOT maintenance staff ask council for support while union organizer says strike isn’t off the table

“We get a lot of thank yous from downtown, but those thank yous dry up when we ask for more money, and we’re suffering.”

-Andrew Sterling, PBOT and Laborers Local 483

The people who work in the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Maintenance Operations department do the nitty-gritty work of keeping this city moving — and their work is especially valued by those who rely on clean bike lanes and bright crosswalk stripes for their safety.

Their work is inherently laborious, but maintenance staff used to feel like it was worth it. The city benefits were good, yes – but employees also found a sense of satisfaction and pride in their work. But now, as staff shortages force employees to work excessive hours of overtime without reaping the same benefits or competitive hourly wages public employees used to receive, they’re calling on the city to repair their relationship or face a serious crisis.

As PBOT leaders often remind us, the agency has been dealing with a multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog for decades, which they hoped to finally get a handle on with a 10-cent local gas tax in 2016. Portlanders voted in favor of the gas tax again in 2020, but the extra funding hasn’t been the maintenance game-changer it was meant to be. And the lack of upkeep is showing.

A tangible result of PBOT’s maintenance problems. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

As we’ve pointed out, this situation is frustrating for people who bike and walk in this city. Nobody likes riding on greenways full of bumps and potholes or bike lanes littered with glass, trash or leaves. (A recent Bike Loud PDX policy ride with PBOT Maintenance Operations manager Jody Yates provided an insightful look into the importance of street and bikeway maintenance.)

Maintenance staffers are aware of community gripes, but claim they don’t have the resources to fix them.

Deteriorating working conditions reveal cracks in the pavement

Andrew Sterling is a PBOT traffic crew leader and the Vice President of Laborers Local 483, the union that represents PBOT maintenance staff. Yesterday, he took employee concerns to the public stage when he addressed City Council to ask for their help to negotiate improved working conditions.

While Sterling’s main job description concerns doing things like striping bike lanes and maintaining crosswalks, staff shortages and recent emergency weather events (like the April snow storm) have interfered with day-to-day operations. In order to get it all done, crew members have to put in a lot of overtime.

“We worked entirely through Covid, in person, on-site every day,” Sterling said. “Many of my coworkers and myself work 70 to 80 hours a week during weather emergencies. Then we have to pick up where we left off for maintenance operations.”

Sterling said these conditions have made it difficult for the maintenance division to retain and recruit employees. He said people working in this department in the city are making less money than they would if they worked in the private sector, and they aren’t seeing the kinds of benefits city employment used to bring. 

“Our retirement has been defunded. Our benefits have been in decline in the last 15 years,” Sterling said. “What I’m asking of you today is to support us and our day-to-day operations. We get a lot of thank yous from downtown, but those thank yous dry up when we ask for more money, and we’re suffering.” 

“The city is responsive to crisis, and our folks are willing to make themselves a crisis.”

-James O’Laughlen, Laborers Local 483

In response, PBOT commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty issued words of thanks, but didn’t make any promises about changing the situation for these employees.

“Folks who work for maintenance have been in the lead on many of the crises this community has experienced over the last few years,” Hardesty said. “I just want you to know that your commissioner in charge absolutely appreciates the work that you do every single day with the limited resources we have. I also know it’s not your fault we have a $4 million [sic – it’s actually “billion”] maintenance backlog.”

James O’Laughlen, Field Representative & Organizer for Local 483, told BikePortland that the city’s transportation system is suffering as a result of these problems. If something doesn’t change soon, this backlog will only get worse.

“Having so much emergency work without the necessary workers crowds out the infrastructure improvements we’re all focused on, from achieving Vision Zero to meaningful ADA compliance on our sidewalks,” O’Laughlen said on a phone call this morning. “This work only happens because people go above and beyond. They show up for voluntary overtime because they know if they don’t, the backlog is going to grow and grow.”

Employees are keeping their options on the table

Union members have been involved in contract discussions with the city since March, and although their old contract expired at the end of June, they haven’t yet come to an agreement on the terms of the new one.

O’Laughlen told BikePortland the two main things they’re looking for in the new contract are wages and safety. They want to bring back the working standard public employees used to be able to count on that made arduous public sector jobs competitive.

“What we need for our members is to create an environment where people aren’t aggressively overworked, where they are protected from conditions that have been deteriorating and getting compensation for it,” O’Laughlen said on a phone call today. “It’s hard to recruit and it’s hard to retain in a low-morale environment. It’s hard to perform the work.”

If Local 483 and the city can’t come to an agreement soon, the next step will be to bring in a mediator. If they don’t work out a deal after that, there’s potential for a strike after a cooling-off period.

“There’s a reticence to do it, but our members have communicated strongly that they’re willing to go that far. It’s based on wanting to perform this public service work.” O’Laughlen said. “They know that that the city is responsive to crisis, and our folks are willing to make themselves a crisis.”

Weekend Event Guide: Endless Summer, Take a Kid MTB, and more

This kid is happy his parents took him to Stub Stewart State Park! (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Who’s ready for the weekend? Here’s our hand-picked selection of the best rides and events coming your way. For more suggestions, see the BikePortland Calendar.

Saturday, October 1st

Sorella Forte Women’s Group Road Ride – 9:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
The Sorellas are one of Portland’s largest cycling clubs and they welcome all female-identifying riders on this long-running weekly ride. More info here.

Endless Summer Saturdays – 9:00 am at Deadstock Coffee (NW)
Club Roule is kicking off a new monthly ride series! Show up to Deadstock for some hangs, then choose from one of three route options while you get to know the folks behind this cool local cycling club. More info here.

Take a Kid MTB Day – 9:00 am at Gateway Green (NE)
It’s a national holiday (seriously, it was established by Congress in 2004)! What more reason do you need to participate in this excellent excuse to ride with your kiddos out at the always-fun Gateway Green MTB park? More info here.

Parkrose Pedal – 11:00 am at Parkrose Middle School (NE)
We were at the inaugural event (then called Prescott Pedal) in 2020 and are thrilled that it’s coming back. Join this wonderful community for a school-based ride where kids and families take over the streets to demonstrate the power and pleasure of cycling. More info here.

Know Your Greenways / Lincoln and Ankeny – 12:00 pm at Ladd Circle Park (SE)
Ride leader Tom Howe is back for what is sure to be another informative exploration of greenways. This time he’ll focus on the very useful east-west thoroughfares of SE Lincoln and Ankeny. More info here.

Sunday, October 2nd

Bike Swap Meet – 12:00 pm at Rose City Food Park (NE)
Clear out your used gear pile and/or pick up some well-priced items at what is shaping up to be a very solid swap. Vendor tables are $10 and come with one drink ticket! More info here.


Promoting an event? Know about something we should boost? Please let us know and we’ll get it on the calendar.

Tempers flare around Tillamook Street tree removal as neighbors press for changes

Photo of traffic circle (sans tree) on NE 7th at Tillamook taken Tuesday, September 27th. (Photo: Allan Rudwick)

Nearly one month has passed since the City of Portland announced plans to remove the traffic circle on NE 7th and Tillamook. And while the large tree that once stood in the middle of the circle is now gone, the frustrations from many neighbors about how this project has transpired are not.

In the past few weeks, a small army of nearby residents have coalesced as Safe on 7th, an ad hoc advocacy group fighting to make sure the Portland Bureau of Transportation doesn’t end up making traffic dangers outside their homes even worse.  On September 14th, they met directly with PBOT staff in charge of the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project to share their concerns that removing the traffic circle would only exacerbate dangerous conditions. At that meeting PBOT heard that not only did many residents want the traffic circle to remain, they wanted much more drastic diversion in order  to reduce the number of drivers who speed through the streets.

PBOT responded to some of their concerns and added additional traffic calming elements to the project, but so far the city’s action have only caused more frustration and anger among some residents.

Safe on 7th Block Party. (Photo: Safe on 7th)

On September 19th, PBOT announced construction of the project would move forward. On September 25th, the same group of neighbors who called the meeting with PBOT and who have placed signs on the intersection that read, “Our Neighborhood Does Not Support this PBOT Project!,” held a block party.

One of those residents, Randy Haj, told us the vibe at the block party was upbeat and positive. “Neighbors got chance to meet each other, often for the first time in person, and finally had some common space to gather without vehicle traffic ruining the atmosphere,” he shared in an email to BikePortland on Tuesday.  Haj was referring to another revelation PBOT will have to grapple with eventually: This neighborhood loves their new carfree street that’s been barricaded off for the construction project for several weeks now. They don’t want drivers to return to this corner of their neighborhood. Ever.

Here’s more from Randy about what it felt like at the block party:

“Kids that were usually confined to their houses were out in droves — most of us had no idea there were this many kids in the neighborhood — and parents who usually need to have their heads on a swivel could sit back and relax into a conversation with their neighbors.  In a working class neighborhood that was used to having their community cut in two by a noisy and dangerous street, there was a feeling that our families could enjoy the peace of mind that so many others enjoy in Portland every day.  The steady stream of bikers crisscrossing the intersection and stopping to sign the neighbors’ petition and shouting words of support boosted the mood.  The handful of drivers going around the party or through gaps in the temporary barricades was the only reminder of what the street used to be like, but they were so infrequent that everyone just laughed them off .”

“The community response team of PBOT showed up in the guise of a Portland Police sergeant all dressed in black with a bullet proof vest and a 9 mm pistol on his belt.”

– Mark Bennett, Safe on 7th

Randy added he and many others were disappointed that Commissioner Jo An Hardesty’s community justice coordinator Andre Miller didn’t show up — despite saying he would.

The day after the party, two things happened: PBOT contractors arrived on the scene to cut the tree down, and Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) Co-chair Allan Rudwick fired off another letter (PDF) to PBOT detailing his concerns about conditions on lower NE 7th and why he feels more diversion is critical.

According to a story just posted on the ENA website, there was a tense confrontation with neighborhood activists who planted themselves on the circle and demanded that contractors and a PBOT staffer show them a permit for the tree’s removal. When the resident refused to leave, the PBOT staffer called a Portland Police officer to the scene:

And then… the community response team of PBOT showed up in the guise of a Portland Police sergeant all dressed in black with a bullet proof vest and a 9 mm pistol on his belt.

The sergeant said, “You have the right to protest, but not on this circle.  If you do not move from the circle, I will arrest you for misdemeanor trespass.  It may not be a serious charge, but I will take you in for booking and it may not look good to your employers or any future employment you might seek.”

Map using GIS data to show local streets with traffic volumes above desired level. (Source: Eliot Neighborhood Assoc.)

While that tussle was going on, Rudwick’s letter was bouncing around email inboxes at PBOT and Commissioner Hardesty’s office. The ENA wants to convince PBOT to install much stronger traffic diversion measures in order to dramatically reduce the number of daily drivers on lower NE 7th Ave from the 6,000 or so today, to a more livable amount of less than 1,000. Rudwick shared a GIS map created by the ENA (using publicly available traffic data) that showed all the local streets in Portland that have way more average daily car traffic volume than they should. They found 10 streets that shared this trait with NE 7th. “Four of the streets on the list have a parallel, non-local street where traffic should be routed according to the city’s policy documents,” the letter states. “Of those, two — SE 52nd at SE Division and SE Clinton at SE 31st Ave — have had vehicle diversion installed. The other two — Lower 7th Avenue and N Columbia Way/N Smith St — are in historically marginalized and politically disconnected communities.”

“We are proposing to keep Lower 7th closed to vehicles until at least one diverter is installed on Lower 7th,” the letter states.

PBOT hasn’t responded to the letter, but work at the intersection is moving along at full speed. City contractors are busy this week removing the circle and prepping to restripe the street with dedicated bike lanes, new crossings, new speed bumps, and other features aimed at allowing NE 7th and Tillamook to live up to its stature as the intersection of two major neighborhood greenways.

What happens once the project is done and the “Road Closed” barricades come down is what we’re anxious to see.

A biking birthday party (with fun and free ideas for more)

The kiddos at Gateway Green. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

This month my firstborn turned nine. As I hold his image in my memory, the picture that comes immediately to mind is him, clad in his bright red helmet, patiently smiling for a biking photo. My sweet son has been my most enthusiastic and stalwart biking companion as I began this family biking journey, and memories of our bike adventures together are some of my favorites. But I haven’t been dragging him along. He’s been thrilled to ditch the stroller and have me riding at bike pace with him. And I’ve been thrilled to be able to share an enjoyable activity that suits his sense of adventure and fun, while also bringing along his younger siblings. 

However, sometimes the older kids need extra room to spread their wings, and this birthday presented such an occasion. My son requested a mountain biking birthday party, after a friend regaled him with stories about Gateway Green mountain biking park. I was delighted by this request, as it was confirmation that biking was taking hold in our family, and that bike riding is genuinely enjoyed by my oldest kiddo, so much so that a bike-related experience topped his list of birthday requests. 

I was also happy because I have a terrible tendency to dramatically overspend on birthdays. Birthdays can feel like terrifying tests of love: do you love your child? Are you glad he was born? Prove it! Celebrate the grand occasion with presents and lavish festivities…party rentals, piles of pizza delivery, cake and decorations, invitations and goody bags for every child on the class list, plus enough presents to make him feel special. Does anyone else blow hundreds of dollars on a birthday?

Take A Kid MTB Day
– Saturday 10/1
– 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
– Gateway Green Park
Details here

So, I admit I also welcomed the Gateway Green idea with a bit of economic pragmatism. It’s a public park. It’s free. We can invite a handful of close friends (who already own bikes), and invite them to meet us there for some mountain bike riding in celebration of our son’s birthday. We could pack treats or make it a potluck picnic or even head out to a cheap eatery afterwards and treat friends to lunch or ice cream (since we aren’t spending money on any of those party rental packages). My husband was on board for a fun and (mostly) free biking birthday, and one that required very little work (no planning of party games, no decoration, no clean-up). He even volunteered to chaperone two other friends and take them all to the park via the MAX, while I stayed home with the wee ones.

So this year for his birthday, my son celebrated with a small group of friends by having his first ride at Gateway Green. They all had a blast. He and his friends rode and played for about two hours, then my husband rode them over to the nearby shopping complex for a cheap, but well-earned, lunch. It was great fun, the “best birthday so far!” Yet it was so simple and nearly free. (Thank you Gateway Green!) Our only expenses were a few MAX tickets and a treat of lunch out (which could have easily have been a sack lunch – no would have minded, and a picnic is another kind of fun).  

In our consumerist America, we often try to buy everything, and we think we have too. My son’s birthday biking request was a sweet reminder that often the best things in life can be free, and that all a birthday needs is for kids to pull out their bikes and go for a ride together. Now I’m plotting other kinds of biking birthdays… maybe a themed group ride around the neighborhood? A Pedalpalooza style birthday ride to the local ice cream shop? A costume contest bike ride: dress as your favorite fill-in-the-blank! Maybe even a surprise birthday bike ride. And a car-free bike path could provide a great birthday setting for younger kids. Kids typically love birthday attention, so a group ride with the birthday kid at the front, bike streamers flying, bike horn honking, could be the perfect way to celebrate. 

Have you celebrated any of your kids with a biking birthday party? If so, I’d love to hear about them.


This Saturday (10/1) is national Take A Kid MTB Day and our local nonprofit NW Trail Alliance is hosting an event for families at Gateway Green from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Learn more on our calendar.

Endorsements, money and strategy: A look at the charter reform horse race

Portland City Hall, October 8th, 2009. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Aaaaaannnnnnnd…they’re off! Endorsements takes the lead out of the gate, one length, two lengths. Here’s come Money! Money breaks out of the pack. It’s Endorsements, Money, Endorsements, Money, neck-and-neck heading into the final curve. What’s this? It’s Strategy! Strategy is closing the distance …

There’s nothing like a good horse race, and Measure 26-228 (the charter reform measure on November’s ballot) is the one to watch. Sometimes a race is so interesting it cuts through campaign talking points and sound bites to reveal the true underlying power struggle. This is one of those times.

At stake is how Portland governs itself and elects its local officials. In previous articles, BikePortland covered the broad issues and history which have brought Portland to this juncture, and we have explained the nitty-gritty of how ranked choice voting in multi-member districts works.

This post limits itself to describing how things stand with the campaigns—endorsements, money, strategy.

Endorsements

Nowhere is the difference between proponents and opponents of the charter reform measure more obvious than in the (lack of) competition for endorsements.

Portland United for Change (PUC), the lead proponent of reform, has rounded up the endorsements of 50 civic, community and union organizations—the Portland branches of League of Women’s Voters, the Urban League, the ACLU, the NAACP, Common Cause…The City Club, Apano, the Street Trust, Verde, OPAL… the Portland Association of Teachers, Service Employees Union Local 49, LiUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America) Local 737.

And the other side? Partnership for Common Sense Government (PCSG)? Their web site does not list any endorsements by civic groups. It’s a shutout. Their supporters are all individuals—retired politicians and city staff—and also influential and wealthy Portlanders.

PCSG was founded early this summer by defeated City Council candidate Vadim Mozyrsky, and former Mayor Bud Clark aides Chuck Duffy and Steven Moskowitz. I wanted to contact them to ask about endorsements and fundraising, but wasn’t able to find any contact information on their web page. That in itself answered most of my questions.

Communications Strategist Damon Motz-Storey of Portland United for Change, explained that the reform opponents are “used to being on the inside of halls of power, with access and connections, but they don’t have much of a base,” which might partly explain the endorsement asymmetry.

But it also seems that PCSG might be getting out-hustled by the younger group of politicos at PUC.

Money

As of September 27th, Portland United for Change outperformed Partnership for Common Sense Government in the money race.

PUC has reported $205,000 cash and in-kind contributions and, according to an email from the group earlier this month, another $200,000 in pledges for a total of roughly $400,000 in cash, in-kind support, and pledged donations.

Their top contributors are Oregon Ranked Choice Voting, FairVote, Building Power for Communities of Color, Northwest Health Foundation, and North Star Action Center. The top donor, Oregon Ranked Choice Voting, contributed $50,000.

PCSG has raised less than a fifth of what PUC has, or about $38,000. PCSG lists few expenditures, which might be why their web page is rudimentary and there isn’t anyone home to answer the phone.

What is going on here?

There is a third political action committee (PAC), the Ulysses PAC, formed last year by City Commissioner Mingus Mapps. The Mapps and Mozyrsky PACs originally looked like a good cop/bad cop team. Mozyrsky’s Partnership for Sensible Government would directly oppose the measure, while the Ulysses PAC would host public forums featuring specialists to educate Portlanders. This would allow Mapps to position himself above the fray, as a moderate just trying to help the public.

The Ulysses PAC reported raising roughly $150,000 in contributions. Their top donor is Schnitzer Properties LLC, which gave $25,000. And they have numerous expenditures, mainly to strategists and consultants.

Vote Splitting Strategy

The Ulysses PAC educational forums do not seem to have happened. The main opposition strategy now appears to be to split the pro-reform vote with an alternative proposal which the Ulysses PAC will release next week. The goal is to tempt voters to reject the current ballot measure in favor of the alternative, which Mapps promises to put on the Spring 2023 ballot.

With the Ulysses PAC releasing their alternative plan just a couple of weeks before the November ballots are mailed, little time remains for debate, analysis or discussion. Obstruction of a two-year public process looks like the point of this 11th-hour timing.

It is noteworthy that the Charter Reform Commission performed extensive community outreach and listening sessions, including 81 public meetings, 34 policy discussions with community organizations and 111 briefings and presentations.

The Ulysses PAC developed their proposed alternative draft in-house with the help of the opinion research firm DHM Research. DHM conducted two focus groups of ten people each, and also some polling.

In other words, the current ballot proposal is the product of an open process. The proposal waiting in the wings is the work of a select group of people and their consultants.

Where’s the critique?

What has not been forthcoming from the opponents of Measure 26-228 is a substantive critique of the Charter Review Commission’s work.

The commission’s decision to propose a Ranked Choice Voting method with multi-member districts was informed by an analysis of Portland voting and demographics by a nationally-acclaimed research group, the MGGG Redistricting Lab.

The MGGG research is at the core of the voting proposal, yet opposition never mentions it. If there were substantive criticism, it would be addressing this research head-on. Particularly since the research evaluated the scheme that the Ulysses PAC has proposed—7 to 9 districts with a single-winner seat—and shows that it will not do the job of increasing representation.

Instead, the opponents rely on spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD)—it’s too complicated!, voting shouldn’t be rocket science!, 25%!!!, extremism!

The takeaway

That is a snapshot of where the campaigns are today. On Monday, the Oregonian reported results from a new Portland Business Alliance poll showing that 63% of Portland voters planned to support the charter reform ballot measure. But the whole race could escalate in the next few weeks, with an influx of money resulting in television ads and mailers a couple weeks before ballots are due.

Going into the final stretch, however, the proponents of Measure 26-228 look to be several lengths ahead of their opponents.

Disclosure: Lisa Caballero was an early donor to the Ulysses PAC and also donated to the Mingus Mapps city council race.

Judge rules against Oregon Department of Transportation in I-5 Rose Quarter public records case

“It’s not a public involvement campaign. It’s a PR campaign. [This project] is deeply unpopular, and ODOT has to work really hard just to spin it as anything but.”

– Alan Kessler, lawyer

The Oregon Department of Transportation has wanted to get its I-5 Rose Quarter expansion done for well over a decade, but a host of challenges have gotten in the way of construction for the $1 billion project. Among the thorns in ODOT’s side are local transportation and climate advocates, who have sounded the alarm on things they say ODOT has been misleading the public about while the agency vehemently defends the project’s popularity.

These advocates have recently received good news in the form of a ruling issued by a Marion County judge earlier this week that detailed major ODOT missteps in how they handled a public records request .

This ruling concludes a lengthy saga that began when Portland lawyer Alan Kessler attempted to find out some details about what went on behind the scenes of a 2019 ODOT report outlining public comment they received about the Rose Quarter project. When he finally received the documents he’d requested, however, Kessler knew they weren’t up to snuff.

Related: ODOT’s marketing of I-5 Rose Quarter project sows distrust

“A lot of stuff was cut out,” Kessler told BikePortland on a phone call earlier this week. “They deleted most of the most of the substantial stuff from this Word document, edited some words to make it look like it was a real document, and then made a PDF of it and sent it to me.”

ODOT officials admitted they created a new document in response to Kessler’s public records request, which is not normal for a public agency to do. They may redact certain pieces of information, but that should be disclosed to the recipient by the presence of black boxes in the document and notes about the redactions. In contrast, ODOT didn’t tell Kessler about the edits they made to the document he received – they presented it as if it was fully intact in its original form.

Kessler received summaries of what members of the public told ODOT their concerns were about this freeway expansion back in 2019. What the agency removed mainly concerns ODOT’s own responses to these concerns that they used to justify moving forward with their project anyway. After some back and forth, Kessler finally received this document (the highlighted parts are what was originally omitted).

Portland attorney Charley Gee, who represented Kessler in his lawsuit against ODOT, says this practice is unheard of.

“They deleted the information and created a whole new document,” Gee told BikePortland. “I’ve never seen this. I don’t know if anybody’s ever done it before.”

“We made a mistake and are committed to improving. We are reviewing our Public Records Requests processes and trainings to ensure we follow the law and provide timely and accurate records to the public.”

-ODOT Communications Director Kevin Glenn

Why did ODOT do it?

When Kessler originally called on ODOT to explain their omissions, they said they were only required to provide records pertaining to his original request, which pertained only to the public’s concerns about the project. But why would ODOT take the time to craft an entirely new document with this information missing?

The information ODOT erased from the document they originally sent Kessler includes defenses against the theory of induced demand and explanations for why adding an additional freeway lane wouldn’t increase air pollution. These responses have been picked apart by people like ODOT watchdog and data analyst Joe Cortright, but the agency hasn’t shied away from expressing these views in the past.

To the critics who are vehemently opposed to the I-5 Rose Quarter expansion, ODOT is doing everything it can to hide the facts from the public so they can manufacture consent for the project. While they don’t know exactly why the agency removed what they did, they believe that if people knew everything about what ODOT planned to do at the Rose Quarter, they would be receiving a lot more backlash for it than they currently are.

Aaron Brown, a co-leader of highway fighting group No More Freeways, said this is the “most damning indictment yet that ODOT is not a good faith operator” and that their stated efforts to engage with the public and reflect community desires in their work haven’t been legitimate.

“They are willing to fudge numbers, withhold vital information, whatever it takes to build the damn freeway,” Brown said to BikePortland on a phone call yesterday. Brown said ODOT has a history of trying to hide the unpopular parts of this project, like how the expanded highway would impact the Eastside Esplanade and Harriet Tubman Middle School.

Kessler agreed, calling ODOT’s bluff on their public outreach efforts.

“They’re trying to control the message. They don’t want us to see the various versions of what they’re saying, because they’re trying to figure out what their message is. It’s not a public involvement campaign. It’s a PR campaign,” Kessler said. “[This project] is deeply unpopular, and ODOT has to work really hard just to spin it as anything but.”

The potential impact

The full effects of this court decision aren’t clear yet. But at the very least, ODOT will be required to handle their public records requests differently going forward. Now that they’re aware of the legal scrutiny they’re under, agency watchdogs have reason to believe they’ll be able to fulfill future requests for information in a more timely manner and that the information they do receive will have a level of transparency not guaranteed in the past.

The transcript and recording of the court ruling haven’t been released (they should be within the next few days), but Kessler said the judge issued a sharp indictment of ODOT for their actions here, criticizing the agency for hiding records and eroding people’s trust in the government.

“The judge was not pleased, and said that this has to do with accountability to the people of Oregon,” Kessler said.

In an emailed statement to BikePortland, ODOT’s Communications Director Kevin Glenn said the department “made a mistake and [is] committed to improving.”

“We are reviewing our Public Records Requests processes and trainings to ensure we follow the law and provide timely and accurate records to the public,” he said.

Gee said another positive byproduct of this verdict is that it will put pressure on other unrelated public agencies to be more transparent with their records dealings.

“The ripple effect will be other public agencies, if they’re engaging in this practice, they’re going to hopefully pay attention and say, ‘well, let’s not do that anymore,'” Gee said.

For people opposed to the freeway expansion, this is another strike against ODOT that they hope local stakeholders will take notice of and become more skeptical of the project. Kessler said he hopes agency partners like Metro and the City of Portland will, be rattled by the verdict and rethink their involvement.

“If the City of Portland or Metro says no, don’t build this, it won’t get built. If any of the local governments decide to take a stand, they can stop it,” he said. “But there’s lots and lots of money and political donations behind the freeway.”

Even with all of the money involved, Kessler hopes an indictment from a judge will have a bigger impact than other critiques members of the community have leveled at ODOT.

“Every time that somebody sees what ODOT is doing, they come to the same conclusion that we’re not being dealt with fairly. So now we have a judge who also agrees that ODOT has not been treating the public fairly,” he said. “I hope at some point the overwhelming evidence that ODOT is not being honest with us, and they’re not good stewards of our public money, will win.”

Oregon’s rogue freight advisory committee might have finally overstepped

A few people on an obscure ODOT committee decide how much room you have in situations like this. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

How do you maintain a stranglehold on what type of streets an entire state can design? Find wealthy business owners with direct access to decision-makers, create an opaque bureaucratic framework you can exploit to make sure you have oversight of every major project, then make your own rules, overstep your authority and scare agency staffers into going along with you.

That’s a recipe we have some experience with in Portland and the same situation has played out on the statewide level for nearly two decades.

Following years of concerns from inside and outside the agency, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s top brass has finally responded to a formal complaint about how one advisory committee dominated by freight industry representatives has wielded undue influence over projects throughout the state — often at the expense of pedestrian and bicycle safety.

All about the MAC

ODOT’s Mobility Advisory Committee (MAC) was formed in 2003 as a forum for stakeholders to share feedback with ODOT staff about how state highway projects impact drivers (freight and auto), and to sign off on major work zone and detour plans. The group was also meant to offer input on Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 366.215, which states that the Transportation Commission, “may not permanently reduce the vehicle-carrying capacity of an identified freight route when altering, relocating, changing or realigning a state highway unless safety or access considerations require the reduction.”

But over the years, the committee’s influence grew way beyond what lawmakers intended. With the encouragement of ODOT leadership, who issued a directive requiring the freight industry be included in agency discussions of roundabouts and other projects in 2012, the MAC became dominated by freight industry business owners and advocates. What started as a forum for ODOT staff to learn how projects might impact truckers had become a de facto decision-making body with veto power over the design of projects.

In 2012 freight interests within the MAC tried to amend ORS 366.215 so that it would apply to all ODOT projects, not just those on “identified freight routes.” Thankfully, due in part to pushback from The Street Trust, that effort failed.

In response to that attempted power-grab, Oregon passed an Administrative Rule in 2013 to create a legally-binding “Stakeholder Forum” where discussions about ORS 366.215 could take place with a broader set of representatives.  But without proper oversight or transparent processes in place, the MAC remained a powerful committee that has had a chilling effect on ODOT staff and project design that remains to this day.

The most important statute you’ve probably never heard of

Decisions about “reduction in vehicle carrying capacity” as outlined in ORS 366.215 are very consequential. The law was meant to ensure that changes to street designs and lane striping don’t have an excessively negative impact on freight traffic. The statute requires state planners and engineers to take into account any reduction in vertical or horizontal width of a roadway cross-section — a.k.a. the “hole-in-the-air.”  Here’s how ODOT describes the concept in their latest implementation guide:

Although not in rule, the term “hole-in-the-air” describes the area needed to accommodate legal and permitted over-dimension loads. The hole-in-the-air refers to the entire roadway, not just the load on the road at any particular moment. We need to think of a reduction in vehicle-carrying capacity the same way the freight stakeholders do – if they can get through the highway segment today, they want to get through there tomorrow.

That means every time ODOT wants to narrow a general travel lane to add bike lanes or curb extensions, or other features on a major state highway and freight route, they have to share their plans with the MAC. In a healthy agency culture, ODOT staff could listen to MAC input and weight it among other factors like the need to improve safety for other road users.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works at ODOT because a large majority of MAC members, and the agency staff and leadership that have enabled them for years, believe roadway space is a zero-sum game where freight truck needs should always come out on top.

Why the MAC is wack

It wasn’t until the Oregon Secretary of State audited ODOT in 2020 that these problems with the MAC became public. 

The audit found that the MAC’s power had grown considerably in the decade between its creation in 2003 and the establishment of the Stakeholder Forum in 2013.  The Stakeholder Forum was supposed to mitigate the MAC’s influence (it was launched, the audit said, “in response to concerns voiced by bicycle advocates that the agency was relying heavily on non-technical feedback from freight stakeholders to make decisions about highway capacity”), but instead, the MAC subsumed it.

“While the MAC started as a series of informal meetings,” the Secretary of State wrote in the audit, “… internal ODOT documents indicate that the MAC is now considered the base stakeholder group for the Stakeholder Forum. MAC members are also the only identified members of the Stakeholder Forum.”

This was especially problematic because the audit also found that the MAC was made up mostly of people from the freight industry and that, “other key stakeholder groups had not been actively encouraged.” At the time of the audit, there was no bicycle or pedestrian representative on the committee, despite the existing Administrative Rule that requires it.

And auditors learned that it wasn’t just the safety of bicycle riders and walkers these freight reps were putting in jeopardy. The MAC would also request changes to projects and work zone traffic control plans that, “may be inherently riskier for workers than what was initially proposed.”

What makes the role of the MAC even more galling is that there is no ODOT agency policy, statute, or rule, that gives them this broad authority. But, as the audit found, “internal ODOT policy” requires staff to get their sign-off on project designs. “This essentially grants the MAC ‘go or no go’ decision-making authority over state transportation projects, despite lacking legal and formal standing,” the audit found:

This has reportedly led to long delays and to decisions being made on some projects that emphasize mobility over safety. Staff also said that committee decisions are rarely, if ever, overruled by ODOT leadership.

In the end, the Oregon Secretary of State decided more work was needed to make sure feedback from the MAC is, “appropriately balanced with the professional expertise of ODOT designers, engineers, and consultants, and does not negatively impact worker or transportation user safety.”

Despite nearly two years since the audit was published, the MAC and its members continue to have an unfair, outsized influence on transportation projects.

“When I started this job, I wondered, ‘Why do they have all this power?’ and it was like, ‘Oh, they’ve got legislators in their back pocket.”

– ODOT staffer

How the process works (or doesn’t)

BikePortland has been contacted by several ODOT staffers in the past 12 months. They all wanted to raise a red flag about the conduct of the MAC and its deleterious impacts on safety projects — especially those within urban areas.

One person said they disagreed with the MAC’s opposition to their project, but worried about job security if they didn’t go along with what the committee wanted. “There’s always this fear that MAC members will run to their legislators,” the person said, who requested anonymity due to fear of backlash. “When I started this job, I wondered, ‘Why do they have all this power?’ and it was like, ‘Oh, they’ve got legislators in their back pocket.”

You don’t have to go far into MAC meeting minutes to find an example of the source behind these concerns. I randomly clicked on the March 2022 minutes and found a presentation about an intersection project in Banks, just yards from the popular Banks-Vernonia State Park Trailhead.

The project is to change the intersection of Highway 47 and Banks Road to make it safer and better equipped to handle growth in the area. The ODOT staffer who presented it to the MAC and sought their approval explained the intention to narrow both of the main travel lanes from 13-feet to 11-feet wide.

The ODOT staffer said the 11-foot lanes would make room for a median divider and four-foot shoulders (there are no bike lanes here, but there’s a high volume of riders due to proximity of the state trail route), but he immediately ran into objections from MAC Member Steve Bates, president of Seattle-based trucking company V Van Dyke, Inc. Bates said he wanted 12-foot lanes and ODOT should narrow the shoulder to just three feet.

MAC Member Nick Meltzer, who represents bicycle riders, said he’d prefer to maintain the four-foot shoulder, “and if a truck needed the extra width, it could just hang over the paint line,” he said (according to meeting minutes).

The Oregon Trucking Association rep also wanted 12-foot lanes and proposed trimming six inches from the buffer and another six from the median to get the extra foot.

Bates then added that if the narrow shoulder isn’t a bike lane, bike riders should take the lane and share with other highway users. That’s a preposterous suggestion, given the speed and size of trucks (many of them notoriously dangerous logging trucks) that regularly drive on Highway 47 and the Banks-Vernonia is a magnet for riders of all ages and abilities. At this point, ODOT Region 2 Active Transportation Liaison Jenna Berman spoke up in support of 11-foot lanes, saying it’s a downtown area and ODOT’s design guidance says they should be 11-feet. “We know there are cyclists out there, and whether they are in the lane or on the side… if those cyclists get hit at a slower speed, they will be less severely injured,” Berman said. “This is why we are looking to narrow the travel lanes, because they help to control speeds… even if there is room for 12-foot travel lanes.”

A vote was taken at the end of the meeting (even though it’s non-binding since the MAC has no voting authority), and the project was opposed 4-1. That means staff had to go back to the drawing board and the intended safety changes will be delayed. The project isn’t on the MAC agenda again until November — eight months later.

This process has happened numerous times. ODOT sources we talked to for this story say even if the MAC is amenable, sometimes ODOT upper leadership won’t have their back and will side with the MAC for wider lanes or other freight-centric designs.

The Oregon Administrative Rules state that if a proposal cannot be agreed to by the MAC and ODOT, it should come to the Oregon Transportation Commission for a final decision. One ODOT source we interviewed for this story said they’ve heard MAC members boast about how no projects have ever had to go to the OTC. “From my point of view internally,” our source shared. “The reason why they never go to the OTC is because we roll over because the group has always had so much power!” The staffer said the MAC has such an influence that some engineers and planners have been “brainwashed” and are known to change elements of a project proactively to make sure it gets past the committee.

It’s all about lane widths

From ODOT’s 2020 Blueprint for Urban Design.

Most of the tension between the MAC and ODOT staff revolves around lane widths (and to a lesser extent, roundabouts, which are often contentious). Freight interests push for lanes to be at least 12-feet wide, if not more (ODOT leadership once claimed they needed 19-foot wide lanes on the St. Johns Bridge), while ODOT staff often push for narrower lanes in order to reduce speeding and improve safety. ODOT staff also say their own Blueprint for Urban Design (PDF), adopted in 2020, clearly states that 11-foot lanes are preferred to 12-foot lanes in business districts.

Staff are trying to implement what their own rules recommend, and they still get rejected by the MAC. And the width of bike lanes are often a sticking point, despite the OAR that governs 366.215 clearly stating, “Street markings such as bike lane striping or on street parking are not considered a reduction of vehicle-carrying capacity.”

To help break the logjam over lane widths, ODOT has held two work group sessions with their Safety and Mobility Policy Advisory Committee (a committee with no bike or pedestrian representation and one I didn’t even know existed until I worked on this story). The work session involved 10 freight industry reps and three ODOT engineering staffers, including State Traffic Engineer Mike Kimlinger.

Kimlinger asked the group for their thoughts on 11-foot travel lanes.

Steve Bates said ODOT should not even consider 11-foot lanes in any new construction project. Trucking company COO Erik Zander said ODOT’s guidelines should remove bicycle lanes entirely from “main highways” so that 12-foot lanes can be maintained. Oregon Trucking Association President Jana Jarvis also spoke against 11-foot lanes. “When you provide bicyclists with 6 feet of width and freight with 11-feet of width, there is no equality in the conversation,” Jarvis said, according to ODOT meeting minutes. “She said she hopes that ODOT would value freight to the point where we would have very few of these discussions about reducing travel lane widths.” To add heft to her comments, Jarvis also suggested that freight industry demands should be weighed heavily in these conversations because they “pay for the system.”

Disagreements remain, but change might be afoot.

On July 26th, 2022 the Interim Chair of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC), Emma Newman, wrote a letter to ODOT Director Kris Strickler and other top ODOT brass. It included scathing critiques of the MAC:

“The MAC is holding up important complete streets projects that have strong community support. This includes projects that will save lives and reduce serious injuries when they are built and are designed using approved ODOT standards… The delay of these projects is counter to the safety, health, and economic values of the State. Some of these delays are lasting 3-6 months in the planning and design phases, which can then trigger even further overall project delivery delays. The MAC is interfering with ODOT’s duty to serve Oregonians… This is harmful to ODOT’s mission and the public interest, especially while pedestrian fatalities continue to increase in Oregon.”

Newman blasted the committee for its lack of transparency and its chilling effect on staff and project designs. She requested that OBPAC be notified of project changes that would negatively impact bicycling or walking and she asked for a high-level meeting between OBPAC and MAC members, and ODOT staff.

Nearly two months later, on September 21st, Newman got a reply. Strickler said he’d set up an executive meeting in early October with top ODOT staff and a separate meeting with committee members.

Newman spoke about the letter at the OBPAC meeting yesterday. “I think we’re getting traction in ways that we haven’t up until now,” she said.

Newman seemed skeptical that anything would change. So do we. Until someone outside of ODOT cares about this enough to do something about it, we’ll be stuck on the side of the road.

Help Metro plan the next 25 years of regional transportation projects

The 2023 RTP may include plans for more high capacity transit along the lines of the new Division St frequent express buses. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Is there a transportation project you want to see built in the Portland region in the next 25 years? If so, it better be on the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) – the strategy shaping Metro’s approach to transportation policy. Every five years, Metro develops a new plan, listing projects to prioritize for funding over the following 10 and 25 years and how they’ll pay for them. The last time they refreshed the RTP was in 2018, so the time has come for an update – and right now, there’s an opportunity for you to share your thoughts with the agency about what the new plan should look like.

“The greater Portland region is facing urgent challenges. The impacts of climate change, generations of systemic racism, economic inequities and the pandemic have made clear the need for action,” Metro explains in a fact sheet for the 2023 RTP. “Safety, housing affordability, homelessness, and public health and economic disparities have been intensified by the global pandemic. Technology is changing quickly and our roads and bridges are aging.”

Metro says the RTP consists of:

  • A long-term vision for the region’s transportation system
  • Goals and performance targets that describe the outcomes the region wants to achieve and indicators to measure progress
  • Policies that guide decisions and actions in pursuit of the vision and goals
  • A financial plan that identifies how the region will pay for investments
  • An investment strategy that includes major local, regional and state transportation investment priorities.
Metro’s timeline for the 2023 RTP. (Source: Metro)

Metro and their partners, including groups like the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) will work on this plan over the next year and a half. (They’ll need to have the finalized plan all set for Metro Council to adopt by December 6, 2023, when the current plan expires.)

Over this period of time, they’ll utilize multiple public comment periods to shape the RTP. In this initial survey, participants are asked to share their current travel habits and what kinds of projects they think the agency should implement with the RTP budget. Options for these project categories range from improving existing transit service and places for walking, biking and rolling to expanding freeways so “more cars to travel around and through the region.”

But if Metro sticks to their commitment to prioritize climate policy in this next iteration of the plan, they will not spend their resources to expand car-centric infrastructure. The extreme weather events we’ve seen in the Pacific Northwest since the last time the RTP was updated have made it clear policymakers need to take bold action to combat the climate crisis, and changing our transportation system is one of the most effective ways to do this.

“Protecting the environment has always been a priority for the people of greater Portland. Given that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, any conversation about the future of transportation in the region must include a strong focus on its impacts on climate change,” Metro states.

If you want to hold them to that, this survey provides an opportunity to do so. Metro will use this public input to put together a list of investment priorities, which they expect to have ready in January to send out for more community feedback. In the meantime, this survey will be open through October 17, and you can find it here.

One of Portland’s hottest restaurants is powered by an electric cargo bike

Minnick in front of the restaurant with her haul.
One of Minnick’s pizzas. (Photo: Sarah Minnick)

It’s been a beloved Mississippi Avenue centerpiece for years, but thanks to a recent feature on Netflix’s “Chef’s Table: Pizza,” Portland pizza and ice cream joint Lovely’s Fifty Fifty is even buzzier — and much busier — than usual right now.

The Netflix episode focuses on restaurant owner and chef Sarah Minnick and the creative, local approach she has to pizza-making. Minnick’s story embodies Portland’s foodie culture not just because of what she makes, but how she gets around.

Minnick’s restaurant owns two Larry vs. Harry Bullitt electric cargo bikes. She loaned me one Saturday so I could tag along with her on a supply run to the Portland Farmer’s Market.

One reason Minnick’s pizzas are so unique and sought after is because the toppings change according to Oregon’s growing season. Every Saturday morning, she heads to the Farmer’s Market at Portland State University to see what’s on offer so she can incorporate it into that week’s menu. Minnick isn’t alone amongst Portland chefs in embracing the farm-to-table concept – but what does stand out is how she transports those farm-fresh ingredients to prepare them for the oven.

Minnick belongs to the growing group of Portlanders who have embraced the electric cargo bike as the most sensible means of transportation and way to tote heavy items around town. The Chef’s Table episode features a few shots of her riding her cargo bike to and from the market, but I thought it deserved more attention; so I asked her if I could tag along on a trip to the market to see how she does it.

It took us less than 20 minutes to travel the four-ish miles from Lovely’s on Mississippi to the farmer’s market – a well-worn route for Minnick that she’s clearly perfected (based on her speed and smooth navigation). Once we arrived, we parked the bikes right up next to the entrance – no driving in circles around the area looking for a parking spot several blocks away.

“I just like the system of biking [to the farmer’s market],” Minnick told me. “Bikes are better than cars. You don’t have to wait for all the things that happen when you’re driving in a car, it’s a lot less frustrating.” 

Once we arrived, there was no dilly-dallying – Minnick scanned the area and picked out what she wanted (the notable ingredient of the day was cantelope, which she’d use for ice cream). After she got what she needed, we packed up the bikes and headed back.

What stood out to me about Minnick is how biking seems to inform how grounded she is in this city, which is essential to her success as a chef. The Netflix show posits that Minnick’s pizza is “Portland pizza” (food critic Karen Brooks says the ingredients she uses would be a “war crime” in a Jersey slice shop). And part of the reason she’s able to do “Portland pizza” so successfully is because she sees the city from the seat of a bike. (Minnick grew up in northeast Portland and has lived in the city for most of her life, save for a stint on the east coast when she studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design.)

 “Once I realized I could get as much stuff as I would just normally pick up in a car, I just decided it was worth it,” she said. “I don’t even think about it now, honestly. Choosing between bike or car doesn’t even cross my mind.”

– Sarah Minnick

“I get a different view [by bike], it expands how I see the city,” Minnick told me. “Riding over the Broadway Bridge in the morning is so beautiful – I love going over that bridge. If I was to drive, I’d just feel more disconnected.”

As someone who cares about sourcing ingredients locally and ethically in a way that honors the environment, Minnick said she thinks embracing the e-bike revolution is the least she can do to mitigate the climate impacts of running a restaurant. She wishes more people would try it out.

“It’s definitely not contagious. I haven’t seen other chefs do it,” Minnick told me, laughing. “It’d be cool if they did.”

But like most people who choose to bike for transportation more than they drive, she mainly thinks of it as a practical act. It might seem novel to some, but Minnick doesn’t think of it that way.

 “Once I realized I could get as much stuff as I would just normally pick up in a car, I just decided it was worth it,” she said. “I don’t even think about it now, honestly. Choosing between bike or car doesn’t even cross my mind.”