2,000 missing homes: Prices soar in bikeable areas as Portland’s rental shortage deepens

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
vacancy rate chart

Source: Census. Chart by BikePortland.

As Portlanders puzzle over why local bike, bus and rail transportation has stopped rising, last week’s Census figures show another trend continuing to reshape the city’s population.

New construction in the central city hasn’t come close to relieving one of the country’s harshest rental housing shortages.

For structures built before 1940 — the bungalows and walk-ups built before the age of automotive planning that cover most of the land between the Willamette River, 82nd Avenue, Powell and Lombard, including many of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in North America — median rents rose 19 percent in the two years from 2011 to 2013, Census estimates show.

Since 2005, when the City of Portland’s population growth began to dramatically outpace its supply of new units, rent in these central-city buildings has risen 47 percent.

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Census shows big leaps for biking in a few cities, but Portland inches backward

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
four city mode trend

Source: Census American Community Survey. Chart by BikePortland.

Is America’s latest bike boom coming to an end? Or is it just moving to different cities?

2013 Census estimates released Thursday show the big cities that led the bike spike of the 2000s — Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and, most of all, Portland — all failing to make meaningful changes to their commuting patterns for three years or more.

Meanwhile, the same figures show a new set of cities rising fast — first among them Washington DC.

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With biking sidelined at Portland City Hall, BTA strategy shifts to long term

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two-finger test 540

Elizabeth Quiroz, one of the BTA’s 16-person staff and four-person advocacy team, fits a helmet at a Southeast Portland bike skills class.
(Photo: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)

For a moment this spring in the community room of the apartment building at SE 122nd and Halsey, the most important thing the Bicycle Transportation Alliance was doing was asking nine children a question.

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Special report: How Portland stopped building neighborhood greenways

A family ride from NoPo to Sellwood-18

Portland’s construction of low-traffic, low-stress neighborhood streets for biking, walking and recreation has slowed to a crawl. What happened?
(Photos by J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

If Portland has contributed any innovations of its own to the craft of designing great streets, it’s this two-word idea: neighborhood greenways.

A remix of ideas from Utrecht and Vancouver BC, these low-cost retrofits of low-traffic side streets — adding speed humps, sharrow markings, traffic diverters and signalized crossings of big arterials — have taken the national bike world by storm since Portland’s Greg Raisman and Mark Lear developed the concept in 2008 or so. In 2010, a citywide network of greenways became the first priority to emerge from Portland’s landmark 25-year bike plan.

The concept went viral.

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PBOT looks to get back on track with PR moves and new ‘vision’

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Dylan Rivera (on the left) is now PBOT’s Communications
Manager and a member of the Director’s Team.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two recent moves by the Portland Bureau of Transportation show that the agency wants to fix its past PR woes, tighten up its communications strategy and set a clear(er) course for the future.

On Tuesday, PBOT announced that existing media spokesperson Dylan Rivera (a former reporter at The Oregonian) would be the new Communications Manager for the bureau, overseeing a team of three staffers. They’ve also hired former Politifact reporter for The Oregonian Ryan Kost. And yesterday, the City published a request for proposals (RFP) seeking a consultant to help them create a two-year strategic plan that, “defines PBOT’s vision statement, mission statement and guiding principles.”

This is a big deal.

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Guess who didn’t make list of America’s top 10 protected bikeways?

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

In the latest sign that Portland’s lead as America’s best cycling city is dwindling, we were completely left out of a list of the year’s top 10 protected bikeways published by People for Bikes yesterday.

People for Bikes (formerly known as Bikes Belong) is an industry-funded advocacy group that also runs the Green Lane Project, an effort to hasten the development of protected bikeways across the country. Portland was one of five cities selected to be part of that program when it launched in May 2012; but despite our long-held reputation as a bikeway innovator, we lag behind other cities when it comes to protected bikeways (loosely defined as bike lanes with some sort of protection from other lanes of traffic). According to a Green Lane Project inventory, Portland has managed to build just 3 miles of protected bikeways in the last four years.

Portland’s absence from the top 10 isn’t because our protected bikeway designs are bad, it’s because we didn’t even build any new ones in 2013. The one Portland project listed in the Green Lane Project’s inventory for 2013, SW Multnomah Blvd, has been delayed and is yet to be built.

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Portland transportation isn’t ‘stagnating’ after all, city director says

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Riding on SW Broadway in downtown Portland.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Four months after taking charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Leah Treat is walking back an idea she shared in her job interview: the notion that the city’s bike infrastructure is “stagnating.”

“If I had to go through the interview process again, I would change that to say it’s more of a marketing issue,” Treat said, according to the edited Q&A on OregonLive.com. “We’re still way ahead of the country in the transportation arena, it’s just getting lost in the messaging somewhere. So we need to be talking more about the really exciting things that we’re doing.”

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City Auditor’s Community Survey shows Portland’s continued cycling stagnation

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Not impressive.

The Office of the City Auditor released its 23rd annual Community Survey today and the results reveal yet another sign that the amount of people riding bicycles in Portland has reached a stubborn plateau.

The survey asked Portland residents to gauge a number of different city functions, from the quality of tap water to the smoothness of streets in their neighborhood. 9,800 surveys were sent and the results were taken from the 3,352 valid surveys (or 36 percent) that the Auditor’s Office received back. According to the City Auditor, “The purpose of our community survey is to provide the public and policy makers with information regarding resident satisfaction with City services. We encourage Council and bureau managers to study differences in community perceptions included in the survey and to consider where improvements in services are needed.”

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Census: Portland biking stalls for fifth year while other cities climb

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Source: Census American Community Survey. Image by BikePortland.

Portland’s hard-won status as “America’s bike capital” hasn’t looked less secure since it claimed the title in 2005.

The number of Portlanders who get to work primarily by bike was statistically unchanged in 2012, ticking from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent of the city’s working population. Across the whole Portland metro area, bike use held at 2.3 percent.

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