The Pioneer Century is June 3rd!

42 month sentence for man who killed Mitch York on the St. Johns Bridge

By on May 18th, 2017 at 11:05 am

Images from the sentencing hearing for Joel Schrantz. Top: Jenni York and her daughter Carly York hug after the hearing; Judge Eric Bloch. Bottom: defendant Joel Schrantz.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Joel Schrantz was sentenced to 42 months in jail yesterday for his role in the death of Mitch York.

Schrantz, 43, is the man who failed to control his Toyota 4-Runner and hit York while driving onto the St. Johns Bridge on October 29th, 2016. York was waiting for a green light in the left-turn lane prior to the collision. The 55-year old resident of northeast Portland, who was on his way to one of his regular rides in the west hills, died at the scene.
[Read more…]

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The impact of fear on ‘bike safety’ in car-centric Beaverton — UPDATED

By on May 17th, 2017 at 10:19 am

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-3

What would make streets like this “safer” for bicycling? Fear-mongering? Or perhaps a bit more encouragement and reassurance?
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Ms. Fast is BikePortland’s Washington County correspondent.

Sometimes I wonder if a well-intentioned “bike safety” presentation can do more harm than good.

At May’s meeting of the Beaverton Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC), Ben Howard, committee rep and a member of the Beaverton Police Bicycle Patrol unit, gave the committee a flawlessly organized but somewhat chilling presentation on bicycle safety. He introduced it as the same presentation he and police partners regularly give at community events and at companies like Nike, providing audiences with:

— Top five bike safety tips (my paraphrase, in no particular order, is: helmet, defensive riding, defensive riding, helmet, helmet)
— Summary of commonly asked bike law questions
— A warning about being “dead right”

Not included as program bullet points were safety concerns like:
— What is being done by the city to halt traffic violations by drivers?
— To whom—exactly—riders should report unsafe bike lane obstructions?
[Read more…]

The Ride: Exploring the ‘dark’ side of Larch Mountain

By on May 16th, 2017 at 12:59 pm

The Dark Larch-1.jpg

Few things make me happier than a narrow dirt trail that meanders beyond a “road closed” gate. (Oh, and there was a roaring creek just to the right.)
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Ride is brought to you by River City Bicycles.

Larch Mountain stands 4,061 feet above the Columbia River in east Multnomah County. The 14-mile climb up the paved road that leads to the summit of this extinct volcano is a thing of magic and/or misery for local bicycle riders.

But there’s another side of this majestic mountain. A side that was revealed to many people for the first time via The Dark Larch ride on Saturday.
[Read more…]

Everything you need to know about this year’s World Naked Bike Ride

By on May 16th, 2017 at 9:58 am

Water Avenue was a sea of flesh at the start of the 2012 WNBR.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In about five weeks 10,000 people will fill Portland streets on bikes wearing nothing (or next to nothing) at all. The 14th annual Portland World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) will happen June 24th. And while most of you haven’t even thought about it much yet, the organizers have been working for months to make sure the ride goes smoothly.
[Read more…]

Bike industry leaders oppose bike tax proposal amid push for alternatives

By on May 15th, 2017 at 2:03 pm

North Portland Bikeworks new location-2-1

(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Right now in Salem, lawmakers are drafting a statewide transportation funding package that aims to raise over $8 billion. As we reported last week, one small piece of that new revenue — an estimated $2 million a year — would come from a 5 percent tax on the purchase of new bicycles.

The tax would add $35 to the average price of a new bike purchased at a bike shop. It would be an unprecented step for Oregon and the only tax of its kind in America.

Not surprisingly, bike shop owners throughout Oregon are very concerned.[Read more…]

The Monday Roundup: Forgotten bike highways, near-doom for Froome, evil automakers, and more

By on May 15th, 2017 at 10:12 am

This week’s Monday Roundup is sponsored by Biketown, who reminds you that: “Even if you own a bike, you can’t beat the convenience of BIKETOWN – it’s perfect for one-way trips or spontaneous rides. Join today and Save $20!

Welcome to the week. Here are the best stories we came across in the past seven days…

Carfree cold feet: Some business interests and other residents are raising concerns about a plan to make a major corridor in central Berlin carfree by 2019.

Bringing bikeways back: British bicycling journalist and author Carlton Reid is up another wonderful project: the resurrection of a network of bike highways built in the UK in the 1930s. And don’t forget to check his Kickstarter.

A day in the life: Urban researchers found that about 1/3 of riders in a study had a close-call and many were the target of dangerous driving and verbal assault.

Getting justice: Road rage is more common than people think. If it happens to you, here’s a tale of why it’s so important to get a license plate number and pursue a case against the perpetrator.

I’ll opt for the bike: New, peer-reviewed research out of New York City shows that amount of bus trips fell 2.42 percent with every thousand bike-share docks.
[Read more…]

Tandem captains needed ASAP for blind rider program

By on May 12th, 2017 at 1:24 pm

(Photo: Washington State School for the Blind)

Here’s an excellent way to recognize National Bike Month and help a local organization get more involved with cycling.

We’ve heard through the grapevine that the Washington State School for the Blind is in desperate need of tandem captains for an event this Monday afternoon (5/15).

As part of a new cycling program aimed at helping blind and low vision people experience the thrills and skills of cycling, the school is hosting a series of training rides at Portland International Raceway. These rides will lead to a race series (sanctioned by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association) that will be part of the full training program that will launch next summer.

18 students who have signed up for the May 15th ride still need a captain!
[Read more…]

The latest on Oregon’s bike tax proposal from Street Trust policy director Gerik Kransky

By on May 12th, 2017 at 11:33 am

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

What’s an advocacy group to do when they strongly oppose a policy idea, but are cognizant of the broader political context that surrounds it? It’s a complicated question that often has no easy answer.
[Read more…]

Tested: Castelli gear to help you beat the rain

By on May 12th, 2017 at 9:57 am

Castelli has you covered for wet spring riding gear.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This year has been absolutely brutal weather-wise. So much water has fallen from the sky that it seems as though I can count on one hand how many times I’ve left home for a ride and not gotten wet at least once. The recent few days of sun have been a welcome change, but there are still a lot of rainy days ahead before the reliably dry late-summer-fall season.
[Read more…]

Jobs of the Week: Two new listings from Velotech

By on May 12th, 2017 at 8:07 am

Looking for a new job? Local bike industry stalwart Velotech (the same folks behind the Western Bikeworks retail and online stores) has listed two fresh positions.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Customer Experience Specialist – Velotech

–> Shipping Specialist – Velotech

[Read more…]

Is it time for more bus-only lanes in Portland?

By on May 11th, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Hawthorne Bridge traffic observations-3.jpg

TriMet buses idle in congestion on the Hawthorne Bridge heading into downtown Portland.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“It is time for @trimet and @MultCoBridges to open the outer lane on Hawthorne for transit only. This is utterly absurd.”
— Alan Kessler on Twitter

Transit riders all too often forgotten victim of Portland’s congestion crunch. While we frequently hear tales of woe from people who drive in the daily gridlock that plagues much of our city, for some reason the news media and politicians don’t have the same empathic ear for people who use buses.

Since buses (and to a lesser extent streetcar and MAX trains) share the same lanes as cars and trucks, these (potentially) efficient and egalitarian workhorses of our transportation system are made to wait behind single-occupancy cars. This is infuriating to many transportation reform advocates, urban planners, and people with a grasp of basic mathematics.

Traffic in Portland is especially bad this year not only because driving is still way too attractive (it’s free, perceived as very safe, and often the fastest option), but also because of numerous construction projects. Case in point is Multnomah County’s project on the Morrison Bridge which prompted The Portland Mercury to report that it would “ruin your summer” if you drive. “Your options,” they wrote back in March, “Begin riding your bike, or figure out at whom you should direct your outrage.”

A graphic on the Portland Bus Lane Project website.

Unfortunately, if traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge directly south of the Morrison is any indication, it looks like way too many chose the latter option.

The result has surely caused outrage — but it’s not just people in cars that are mad. The daily backups on the Hawthorne leading into downtown frustrate transit fans too. One of them is Alan Kessler. Kessler is a lawyer by day and transportation reform activist on the side. He’s an active volunteer with Bike Loud PDX and other groups. On May 4th he was biking westbound on SE Madison approaching the Hawthorne Bridge and posted a video to Twitter with the message: “It is time for @trimet and @MultCoBridges to open the outer lane on Hawthorne for transit only. This is utterly absurd.”

https://twitter.com/alankesslr/status/860193953127071744

Kessler’s tweet sparked a robust discussion. So much that he’s decided to start a grassroots campaign to see if the idea has legs.

Since his tweet, Kessler has launched the Portland Bus Lane Project. So far it consists of a website and an email list. A meet-up of interested activists is being planned2. He’s also invited Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson to meet him outside her office just a few blocks away from the bridge to take a closer look at the issue.

“Watching buses idle with a few dozen cramped people inside while another dozen individuals in cars block their path is just absurd,” he shared with me a few days ago. “The idea that this is a system that someone designed, that so many people subject themselves to daily, and that is killing our planet. It’s absolutely absurd.”

Hawthorne Bridge traffic observations-6.jpg

untitled-60.jpg

This hierarchy was adopted by city council as part of Portland’s Transportation System Plan.

Kessler points to Portland’s adopted planning documents that are supposed to prioritize transit above single-occupancy cars. “But this is a painful example of that not happening,” he points out. And he’s not just thinking about the Hawthorne Bridge. Bus-only lanes have been pushed for by Kessler and others on Outer Division for many months now. Metro and TriMet tried to create “bus rapid transit” on the Powell-Division Corridor last year, but were too afraid to constrain single-occupancy vehicle capacity to do it and the plan fell apart.

“If transit really is at the top of the inverted pyramid [a reference to Portland’s “transportation hierarchy” adopted in the Comprehensive Plan], and cars are at the bottom, then it should be easy to find the room to make this happen.”

What might happen to all traffic on the Hawthorne if we made this switch? It’s hard to say because don’t have precise figures about the current split of cars and buses. Two years ago, in a story about how biking and walking traffic was bursting at the seams of the Hawthorne Bridge’s sidepath, we reported that about 10 percent of all the traffic on the bridge is bicycle users, another 10 percent are on foot, and about 30 percent are in transit vehicles (leaving about half inside cars). A former member of the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee told us, “We would like to see the council consider the possibility of lane reallocation.”

“I am certainly not against bus priority on the bridge, but I have always felt that Southwest Madison and Main are the more severe problem.”
— Jarrett Walker, transit consultant

Jarrett Walker of Human Transit, a highly regarded bus and transit consultant, told us this morning that attention should be paid to the streets that lead up to the bridge. “Bus only provisions are needed especially for bottlenecks. The urgent problem is often on the bridge approaches rather than the bridge itself,” he said. As an example, he added that MAX light rail on the Steel Bridge is “reasonably reliable” even when it mixes with other traffic. That’s because the bridge itself isn’t where congestion happens and the MAX has a dedicated path on the approaches.

“I am certainly not against bus priority on the bridge, but I have always felt that Southwest Madison and Main are the more severe problem,” added Walker.

If you’d like to get involved with Kessler’s project. You can sign up for his email list at Portlandb.us.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

Suffering and tulip selfies at inaugural ‘Wooden Shoe Kermesse’

By on May 11th, 2017 at 11:16 am

Racers mixed with tourists taking tulip selfies at Sunday’s Wooden Shoe Kermesse in Woodburn.
(Photos by Jake Tong/The Wolfsmouth Cycling)

It was a quintessential Oregon scene last weekend when about 160 bicycle racers descended on a tulip farm in Woodburn (about 32 miles south of Portland).
[Read more…]

Weekend Event Guide: CycloFemme, Dark Larch, Midnight Mystery, Swale Canyon and more

By on May 11th, 2017 at 9:08 am

Our Weekend Event Guide is sponsored by Abus bike locks.

Well, the forecast has taken a turn from the sunny and dry week; but that’s no reason to stay home. Especially not when there are so many awesome events and rides to do.

Here’s our weekly menu of tasty biking morsels… have fun out there!

Friday, May 12th

Midnight Mystery Ride – 12:00 am, location unknown
I could tell you more; but the meet-up spot, route, and other details are kept in a hermetically sealed chamber until Friday. Check the ride blog day of the event for the details. More info here.
[Read more…]

Who’s riding on ‘Better Naito’? A look at how the project is going so far

By on May 10th, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Better Naito observations -1.jpg

Traffic on “Better” Naito.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been almost two weeks since the ‘Better Naito’ project opened. I spent some time riding in it and watching traffic yesterday afternoon and I’ve got some observations and photos to share.

Here are some of my takeaways, in no particular order:
[Read more…]

25% of Portland metro residents say congestion could make them switch to biking

By on May 10th, 2017 at 9:31 am

Traffic leading onto the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown Portland yesterday afternoon.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In 2009, the City of Portland set a goal that many people considered fanciful: one in four trips by bike citywide by 2030.

Eight years later, that’s exactly the ratio of car-owners in the Portland metro area who claim they’d swap their car trips for bike trips “if traffic congestion gets bad enough.”

That ratio held across racial and ideological lines, and was only slightly lower in Clark County, Wash., than on the Oregon side of the metro area. But it wasn’t consistent by gender, age, income or education: women, older people, higher-income people and more educated people were less likely to say they’d switch to biking.

[Read more…]

Auto parking or affordable housing? Portland Mayor says debate is “over”

By on May 9th, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Mayor Wheeler speaking at the Rose City Park Neighborhood Association meeting last week.
(Photo from video. Watch it below)

This article was written by Tony Jordan, founder of Portlanders for Parking Reform. It originally appeared on his website on May 4th and has been re-published here with his permission.

————

Convenient parking is a problem in parts of Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded last week. But it’s a smaller problem than housing — and Wheeler says that when the two come in conflict, housing must be the priority.

The mayor’s words came at a Rose City Park Neighborhood meeting April 25th. Wheeler was asked by RCPNA board member Deborah Field what his plan was to “require developers to put in ample parking spaces” with new housing projects.

The mayor’s response was definitive:

“But I want to put a marker down. The debate: Parking vs. Housing? It’s really over. That piece of the conversation is over. When younger families or younger people say they want to locate here, the first thing they’re saying isn’t ‘Boy I wish I had another parking space, or had access to a parking space.” What they’re saying is, “I can’t afford to live in this city.” And, so, the city, meaning the debate that happened over the last three years actually made a choice, and the choice was affordability and housing over access to parking. I just want you to be aware that that is a real dynamic and is a real choice and it was made with full community involvement.”

The mayor told the crowd that, “parking adds significantly to the cost of affordable housing.”[Read more…]

Oregon transportation funding proposal includes 5% tax on new bicycles

By on May 9th, 2017 at 11:21 am

State Senator Brian Boquist knows we can’t build or tax our way out of congestion; but he wants to try it one more time.

Last night in Salem the Joint Committee On Transportation Preservation and Modernization unveiled the outline of what will become a statewide transportation funding bill.

As expected, the proposal (PDF) includes earmarks for several major highway widening projects in the Portland region and a tax on the sale of new bicycles. Overall, the package would raise about $8.1 billion that would be phased in over 10 years. That money would come from a mix of new and existing taxes and fees. As we reported back in March, the ideas presented to the committee yesterday by Senators Brian Boquist and Lee Beyer (committee co-chairs) came from four main “work groups” that met in open-door meetings in the capitol over the past three months. The proposals were also greatly influenced by an 11-city statewide tour taken by committee members last summer as well as a report by the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel that came out one year ago.

Here’s what they put on the table last night. As you read them, consider Sen. Beyer’s comments last night: “This proposal can change; but if we want to solve the transportation problems the people told us they want to solve, this gets us there. This is the minimum we should do.” [Read more…]

Rock slide on Rowena Curves closes Historic Highway for up to 3 weeks

By on May 9th, 2017 at 9:26 am

Yikes! ODOT says it could be up to three weeks before the road opens.
(Photo: ODOT)

A major rock slide has closed a popular bicycling route just east of the Rowena Curves overlook on the Historic Columbia River Highway (US 30). It happened Sunday evening and there were no injuries.

The Rowena Curves are between Hood River and The Dalles.

Here’s the latest from ODOT:
[Read more…]

Business group behind Gresham’s first open streets event

By on May 8th, 2017 at 4:28 pm

(Map: City of Gresham/Gresham Chamber)

Here’s a sign that support for carfree urban spaces is growing: The main organizer of Gresham’s first-ever open streets event is its chamber of commerce.

Gresham is Portland’s eastern neighbor. On Sunday June 18th, from 10am to 2pm, the city will host what they hope becomes an annual Father’s Day tradition: an event they call Sunday Parkway. Inspired by Portland’s similarly named events that began nine years ago, the Gresham version will offer a relatively carfree, 8-mile loop with three “pit stops” where people can enjoy food, live entertainment, activities and more.

Here’s how they describe it:

Feel comfortable, safe and enjoy walking, strolling, bicycling and rolling along the city’s beautiful trail system and historic downtown… Slow down, play on our trails, connect with your neighbors, meet new friends and have fun on the trail…

Gresham Chamber of Commerce CEO Lynn Snodgrass told us she thinks it’s completely natural for her group to spearhead this event. She sees it simply as a way to have fun and promote the beauty of her city.
[Read more…]

The Monday Roundup: A cycling revolution, bike fashion sense, order versus safety, and more

By on May 8th, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Welcome to Monday.

Here are the best stories we came across last week…
[Read more…]