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Planning commissioner forces City to defend I-5 widening project

By on March 2nd, 2017 at 2:53 pm

N Williams Ave Community Forum.JPG-24

Chris Smith thinks widening I-5 in Portland is a big mistake.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Noted transportation activist and Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith made a bold move Tuesday night that could have thrown a wrench in the works the State of Oregon’s top transportation priority.

Smith put forward a motion at a work session meeting of the Planning Commission that would have taken the I-5 Broadway Weidler Facility Plan out of the City of Portland’s Transportation System Plan. The TSP is Portland’s road investment guidebook and any major project that wants funding must be listed in it. As we reported yesterday, this $450 million (estimated) project is one of three freeway mega-projects lined up to receive significant funding in the transportation package currently being negotiated in Salem.

Smith was the sole PSC Commissioner to vote against the project when it was passed as part of the N/NE Quadrant Plan (a component of the Central City 2035 Plan) back in 2012. Judging from his pointed remarks about the project Tuesday night, he still hasn’t warmed up to the idea.
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Portland’s first unsanctioned, virtual stage race starts this weekend

By on March 2nd, 2017 at 11:12 am

Event flyer

This weekend a new type of cycling event will start on the streets in and around Portland. It’s called La Boucle Des Roses and it’s unlike anything we’ve heard of before.

French for “The Loop of Roses,” La Boucle is an unsanctioned race/ride with five stages that will take place between this Saturday March 4th and Saturday April 1st.

Unsanctioned rides are nothing new to Portland. We’ve seen huge turnouts for the annual De Ronde and its sister ride, La Doyenne. Last weekend there were about 70 people who showed up for the Timber Logjam. “Organizers” of those events simply pick a date and mark a route (both online and on on-the-road), and sit back and let the promotion happen through word-of-mouth. What makes La Boucle different is its presentation as a multi-stage event and its use of an online platform to tabulate times and rankings for everyone who enters — regardless of when they complete the routes.

La Boucle’s organizer Will Hahn says the event is a “stride forward for Oregon cycling.” It’s his response to a recent decline in sanctioned road racing events statewide. A recent thread on the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list titled, “State of Cycling, Its Decline, and Events” brought out dozens of voices to hash out the causes and impacts of why people are racing less and why events continue to fall off the racing calendar. Membership at OBRA is down as well and it seems like everyone has an opinion as to why. Ideas I’ve heard include: the difficulty of getting permits for road closures and a lack of affordable and quality venues; a lack of profit for promoters; people doing their own rides and “competing” via Strava; and so on.

Hahn’s La Boucle avoids some of those hurdles (administrative costs) and embraces others (use of technology). The low overhead allows Hahn to manage the race for a relatively low entry fee of $22. The five-stage Baker City Classic by comparison, costs $140. To help raise money for the prize purse, Hahn has set a GoFundMe campaign. So far he’s raised just $20 of his $2,000 goal. To protect himself from legal claims in the event of a crash or other accident, Hahn will require each official participant to fill out a waiver form.


Here’s more from Hahn’s description of the ride on the Ride With GPS event page:

The idea of this race grew out of the desire to grow Oregon bicycle racing from a grassroots level, to promote the tenets of good bike riding and to satisfy the missing holes in the Oregon race calendar. My intent is to draw riders from all walks of life, to pit them against excellent courses that would otherwise be off-limits and create a renewable system of racing that eases the costly burdens of race promotion.

I will describe this as a race, but it is more akin to a mass start Gran Fondo, open to all and free…

These courses are (for the most part) difficult and long. They are all marked with paint, but it is up to you to know the courses before hand. There are no referees or course marshals, no follow cars and no feed zones; other than those provided by yourself. Riders who break traffic laws aren’t following the tenets of good bike racing, sullying the image of cyclists and creating an unsafe atmosphere for other riders, please don’t be this person.

There will be a roll-out at 10:00 am from the bottom of NW Saltzman Road (off Highway 30) for Saturday’s opening time trial stage. You don’t have to be there to have your time counted and the course will be “open” for a one week period. To vye for prizes however, and to be considered an official participant, you must show up to at least two Saturday starts in the five-week series.

For the full details, view the official Technical Guide (PDF).

Credit to Hahn for trying something new. Do you think it will catch on?

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

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Weekend Event Guide: The future, a film, time trials, 82nd Ave walking tours and more

By on March 2nd, 2017 at 7:38 am

We’re starting off your weekend tonight. You’re welcome.

There are three events worth your attention on this fine Thursday: a panel discussion, a film screening and bike show, and a slideshow aimed to get you excited for making Portland a better place to ride.

Then on Saturday, how about stretching your legs a bit and riding up Saltzman Road, a popular route through Forest Park that was paved and open to cars until the late 1980s? You could also opt for a walking tour of 82nd Avenue with ODOT. They want to hear where and how you’d spend their money to make the street safer for vulnerable road users.

Whatever your plans are, have fun out there and be sure to report back about any good rides or events you take part in.

Thursday, March 2nd

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Guest article: The Street Trust’s goals for the 2017 transportation funding package

By on March 1st, 2017 at 3:56 pm

(Author’s note: This article is the second part in a three-part series from The Street Trust, the Portland-based nonprofit fighting to win $161 million for safe streets, transit operations, and clean air in the 2017 Oregon legislative session. See part one here)

Cover of Transportation for Oregon’s Future legislative plan outline.
(PDF)

Oregon is in the best position to pass policy improvements and transportation funding in the 2017 legislative session, since the highway-heavy Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009. This is our chance to win $161 million in funding for safe streets.

The Street Trust is part of Transportation for Oregon, a coalition of progressive partners including Oregon Environmental Council, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Transportation for America, Better Eugene-Springfield Transit, the Oregon Conservation Network, as well as many others who are focused on winning the following key priorities in this session’s forthcoming transportation package:

Goal: A new state and/or local revenue source for transit needs.

Currently, transit providers across the state are unable to keep up with increased ridership, the needs of youth, the needs of older adults, and the needs of people with disabilities. Oregon contributes proportionately much less funding to transit than most other states—only 3% of operations funding, compared with state contributions of over 24% nationally. We’re asking the legislature to provide state funding to match and leverage local, regional and federal funds; to invest in more transit service (a lifeline in rural communities and key growth strategy in cities and suburbs).

[Read more…]

How Vision Zero became Portland’s top transportation priority

By on March 1st, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Vision Zero Task Force meeting.jpg

With plan in hand, the Vision Zero Task Force is getting down to the business of implementation. And they’re not messing around. This photo is from their meeting in City Hall earlier this month.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Just three short years ago Portland’s commissioner-in-charge of transportation hadn’t even heard of Vision Zero. Now the traffic safety concept is the target of more attention from the Bureau of Transportation than any other issue. More than paving streets, more than responding to historic snowstorms, and more than patching potholes.
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Portland Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduces Vision Zero bill

By on March 1st, 2017 at 11:47 am

Chris King Gourmet Century-19

When it comes to road safety, Blumenauer (shown here riding in rural Washington County in 2013), has more skin in the game than most of his Capitol Hill colleagues.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a bill today to help cities across the country to move forward with Vision Zero policies, plans and projects.

“The real ‘American carnage’ is what’s happening on our roadways,” Blumenauer shared with us today via email. “Something has to change. We have to do better and finally treat this public health crisis. Cities around the country are embracing Vision Zero. The federal government should too.”

The “Vision Zero Act of 2017” was co-introduced with Representative Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida.

The bill is split into two sections: One to fund the creation of Vision Zero plans, and the other that would fund the implementation of those plans. $5 million would be set aside each year for the next five years (starting in 2018) for the planning grants and $25 million a year for the implementation grants, which could be split by up to five different entities (any political subdivision of a state is eligible, including; towns, cities, counties, and so on).

This bill is similar to one Blumenauer introduced in 2015. This version however, offers a more detailed list of potential plan elements and reads like a list of Vision Zero best practices. Among the suggestions in the bill are, “an examination of how development and implementation of safety-focused automotive technologies, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication can help eliminate transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries,” and “a focus on reducing speeds to the extent practicable within State law and separating modes of transportation.” The bill also specifically calls out the need for plans to, “equitably address the safety needs of low-income and minority communities and ensure that such communities are not disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.”
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The skinny on the three Portland-area freeway projects in line for state funding

By on March 1st, 2017 at 10:28 am

traffic on i-5 -1

The projects would add supply to a high-demand system.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

By now you’ve probably heard whispers and/or seen the headlines about the three freeway widening projects in the Portland region that are a top priority of lawmakers statewide. The goal of the projects is to improve driving conditions for motor vehicle users on Interstate 217 south of Beaverton, I-5 adjacent to the Rose Quarter, and I-205 south of Oregon City.

These three projects represent an estimated cost of $1,000,000,000 — that’s a billion with a “b”. Lawmakers won’t be able to fully fund them in their forthcoming transportation package, but it’s expected they’ll get a significant jumpstart.

Because freeway expansions tend to be very controversial in our region (with good reason), these projects have flown under-the-radar of most people (except those working to get them funded). Another reason there hasn’t been a robust public debate about these projects is that — even though they’ve been listed in various plans (like Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan) for many years — they’ve been unfunded and relegated to “wish lists”. But now that real money is on the table, the tone around these projects has quickly gotten a lot more serious. Everyone who cares about the future of transportation in our region should learn more about them.

Like I mentioned above, these three projects alone are estimated to cost about $1 billion. Now that I have your attention, here’s what I’ve found out about each one…
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With $8 million up for grabs, Portland kicks off series of Safe Routes to School open houses tonight

By on February 28th, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Bike to School Day in NoPo-6

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Have traffic safety concerns in your neighborhood that prevent you and your kids from biking to school? Listen up…

Thanks to the voter-approved, 10-cent increase in the local gas tax, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation expects to raise about $64 million over the next four years. The money will be spent on a wide range of projects between now and 2020. About $8 million of that total amount is set aside specifically for making it safer and easier for people to walk, bike, and roll to school. This is important because safety concerns are a major barrier to people when deciding how they’ll get their kids to school. The most recent City survey of people who live 1-2 miles away from their school found that 51 percent of respondents were concerned about traffic safety — more than any other limiting factor in their travel choice.

Now PBOT wants to hear your feedback to make sure this $8 million helps ameliorate those concerns.[Read more…]


Help TriMet make transit better

By on February 28th, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Bus and bikes

As transit goes, so goes biking.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Like flowing water that takes the path of least resistance, so too will people when deciding how to get from point-A to point-B. Unfortunately in Portland today, driving a private car is still way too cheap and easy so it’s not surprising that the majority of people still prefer to drive.

To get the transportation results we need in order to save lives, save time, save money, and save our health; we must make options to driving more attractive. In Portland that means we must get more out of our significant investment in transit.

While they’re good at chasing mega-projects (including ones that have nothing to do with transit), TriMet is not doing enough to make bus service great. The result is fewer people taking transit — and more importantly, more people opting to drive.
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Martin Greenough: City and state settle lawsuit while new path shapes up

By on February 28th, 2017 at 1:05 pm

New path around Lombard-42nd bike lane gap-7.jpg

The new bike path being built where Martin Greenough was hit and killed while riding in December 2015 is being built as I type this. While the path nears completion, so too does the lawsuit filed by his family last April.
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The Ride: A return to Timber’s snowy, logjammed backroads

By on February 27th, 2017 at 12:42 pm

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Timber Logjam ride is a symbol of modern adventure cycling culture. Without formal organization or promotion, word of the ride spread through social media. And by Saturday, as welcome sun beat down through frigid air on the Banks trailhead of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, about 70 people were on their bikes and ready to ride.
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The Monday Roundup: Hairdryers, the folly of “fixing congestion”, Sweden’s bike-friendly apartments, and more

By on February 27th, 2017 at 9:38 am

Ominous cloud: In what appears to be the most tangible impact so far of Trump’s influence on infrastructure, his administration has cancelled a project that was set to electrify a popular commuter rail line in the California bay area.

DIY anti-speeding trick: A town in Scotland has happened upon a novel method of cracking down on fast drivers: Hairdryers.

Don’t widen roads. Please: As Oregon appears set for another road-widening binge, it’s worth brushing up on your reading about why this method of “congestion relief” is a bad idea. We came across two great explainers this week: One from The Plaza Perspective and one from Driving.ca.

More housing = less congestion?: As Portland girds for freeway widening debates, it’s time to consider the link between congestion and the lack of affordable housing.

No to red light cams: As Portland expands its automated enforcement programs we’re watching how other states handle the issue. In Florida, a place with the worst road safety record in the nation, a ban on red light cameras is moving forward.
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After year of tragedies, City returns to outer Division with an apology and a plan

By on February 24th, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Outer Division Safety Meeting-12.jpg

PBOT’s yard signs were very popular last night.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman apologized to residents of the Jade District in person last night for a spate of fatal traffic crashes on outer Division Street.

Speaking as the new commissioner-in-charge of the transportation bureau, Saltzman stood in front of a mostly Chinese-speaking crowd and said, “We’re sorry and we’re bound and determined to do something about that.”

18 months ago in the exact same room as the meeting Saltzman attended last night — the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space on the corner of 82nd and Division — the City of Portland launched their Vision Zero effort. The Bureau of Transportation didn’t plan on coming back, but since that celebratory launch five people have died and three others have suffered life-altering injuries on outer Division. When two Chinese immigrants died trying to cross the street in separate collisions within just hours of each other back in December, PBOT swung into action and has been listening and formulating plans ever since.

Last night in a meeting hosted by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, PBOT kicked off a community process slated to end with a plan adopted by City Council this fall.
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City moves forward with plan to rent adaptive bikes as part of Biketown system

By on February 24th, 2017 at 9:37 am

Adaptive Bike Clinic-25.jpg

Biketown program manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth (right) at an Adaptive Bike Clinic in June 2016.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland took another step today toward fulfilling a promise they made last summer: To make the Biketown bike share program more accessible to people who are unable to ride conventional bicycles.

If all goes according to plan, adaptive bikes should be available for use by this summer.

To refresh your memory, this issue caught the Portland Bureau of Transportation off-guard last summer, just weeks before the scheduled launch of the Biketown program, when a local advocate for people with disabilities began to question the equity of a bike share system that wasn’t accessible by all of Portland’s bicycle riders. That advocate was Chloe Eudaly, who notched a victory on this issue when PBOT promised to find a solution and then went on to earn a victory at the ballot box when she became a Portland City Commissioner.

Eudaly’s prodding set PBOT on the path toward researching options and gathering information from adaptive bike users.

Today PBOT launched a survey to garner focused feedback on their plan. According to a press statement, PBOT will make adaptive bicycle rentals available through existing bike rental businesses that located near popular bike paths. Once the system is up-and-running, people who ride hand-cycles, three-wheeled trikes, and side-by-side tandems, would be able to rent one of the bikes near paths like the Eastbank Esplanade or the Springwater Corridor through a City-subsidized program.
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Reward offered for Hawthorne Bridge hit-and-run caught on bike-cam

By on February 24th, 2017 at 7:58 am

Bike-cam footage nabbed this crazy driver seconds before impact. Watch the video below.

Portland Police are looking for a tan SUV after its driver was involved with a high-speed hit-and-run crash last month.

It happened about 2:30 pm on January 27th in the eastbound lanes of the Hawthorne Bridge just east of the Willamette River near the TriMet bus stop on the viaduct. Amazingly, so far the biggest lead the police have in the case is footage from a handlebar-mounted camera taken by a person who happened to be cycling nearby.

As you can see in the video below, the driver was going very fast and was unable to control his/her vehicle. They ran into two other vehicles, causing one to roll, which, according to police, “nearly struck a person riding a bicycle.” Luckly there were no injuries. The driver didn’t stop and is still on the loose. [Read more…]

Time to weigh in on designs for new entrance and nature center for Forest Park – UPDATED

By on February 23rd, 2017 at 2:01 pm

One of three options for a new Forest Park entrance and nature center.

The City of Portland is putting the finishing touches on designs for a major new nature center and “iconic” entrance to Forest Park. Now is the time to share your comments so that the resulting project is as welcoming as possible to people who arrive by bicycle.
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Gravel update: Progress in places and broom-wielding heroes

By on February 23rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Progress!
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

How are things looking out there on the bike lanes you use the most?

Since our post last week there’s been big progress on some key bikeways we’ve been watching and I’m curious how the clean-up is going for you.

In particular, and since we helped make such a big deal out of it to begin with, I want to share the progress on Highway 30 and the St. Johns Bridge.

Sweeping has happened on the bridge sidewalk. It’s not perfectly clean; but it’s a vast improvement. I got some video the day it was swept (2/17):
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Weekend Event Guide: Adventures galore, advocacy, architecture, and more

By on February 23rd, 2017 at 9:35 am

Check out the Baja Divide slideshow and storytelling sesh from Limberlost tomorrow.

The weekend is right around the corner and we’ve got some great ride and event ideas to tempt you with. But before we get to them…

Have you noticed our events calendar yet? It gets better every day and in our biased opinion it has become the most comprehensive bicycling and transportation advocacy calendar in Oregon. We listed over 70 events this month alone (and it’s only February!). It features a wide array of events — from advocacy meetings and town halls, to weekly group rides and special events.

It’s easy to keep up with all the events: you can read this weekly event guide; check out the calendar pages in monthly, weekly, or daily views; and if you follow @bikeportland on Twitter you’ll get an update each morning with a link to7 the day’s events. If you want to help keep this resource strong, please support us via a financial contribution, subscribe or become a business partner (we offer weekly sponsorship of this Weekend Event Guide, and a whole lot more).

OK, now let’s get to the events this weekend…

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PBOT’s ‘Patch-a-thon’ promises pothole relief

By on February 22nd, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Double-whammy. A pothole on N Willamette deposits gravel into the bike lane.
(Photo: @Dcay via Twitter)

As if the snow and ice and gravel wasn’t enough — now we are dealing with the scourge of potholes.

Potholes are nothing new, but this winter’s storm has created an alarming amount of new ones. They’re everywhere! Old ones are bigger and more treacherous, while new ones creep up where and when you’re not expecting them. For people using a car, a pothole can damage your wheels and rims. But for people on a bike the risk is greater. In addition to equipment damage, potholes can lead to crashes and injuries.

Today the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced what we hope will be a salve for our wounded streets: “Patch-a-thon” is the city’s new initiative that will aim to attack potholes with more maintenance crews. Here’s more from the official statement:

“Starting tomorrow, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will launch Patch-a-thon, a new initiative to fill the numerous potholes caused by this season’s many winter storms.
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Industry Ticker: New ‘Atlas’ jacket from Showers Pass; Islabikes launches ‘cross tires for adults

By on February 22nd, 2017 at 12:07 pm

New offerings from Portland-based Islabikes and Showerspass.

We love seeing local bike companies expand their product lines. It demonstrates that our bike economy is strong and that the spirit of innovation from our local bikey brain trust is alive and well.

Today we’ve got words and pictures of two new products now available from two Portland companies: Showers Pass and Islabikes USA.
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