‘Betties360’ program teaches girls more than riding a BMX bike






*Students from St. Andrews Nativity School at The Lumberyard. Photos by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland

Eighth grade is not an easy time for many young girls. As a father of one of them, I can vouch for that. Getting them to challenge themselves, try something new, and make themselves vulnerable is often like harder than pulling teeth.

“After you do it you’ll feel excited.”

On Wednesday I hung out with a dozen eighth-graders who challenged not only themselves, but my assumptions about them.

The girls were part of an afterschool enrichment program run by Betties360, a Portland nonprofit founded in 2005 by April Snyder and Kristen Wright. This is the fourth year they’ve partnered with The Lumberyard, an indoor bike park on NE 82nd Avenue.

Lumberyard Guest Instructor Elaine Bothe has worked with the girls this year, helping them gain confidence on the ramps and other features of the park. Things were calm and quiet when I arrived, but Elaine said once the girls show up, the energy in the room would spike. She was right.

Getting the helmet situation sorted is the first order of business.

As soon as they came in, there was much giggling and jumping around — just what you’d expect when eighth-grade friends are together. The girls were from St. Andrews Nativity, a small, tuition-free Catholic middle school located at NE 9th and Alberta in the heart of Portland’s Soul District.

The first order of business was to get hair and helmets in order. Then they chose their bikes from a fleet of rentals. The Lumberyard’s features lend themselves well to “BMX” bikes with 18 or 20-inch wheels, upright bars, and relatively small frames which make them easy to handle.

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Along with Bothe, the girls were helped by volunteer Sarah Umberhandt and Betties360 staffers Na’ama Schweitzer and Kelsey Ellis. There wasn’t much instruction. Once atop their bikes the girls just wanted to ride.

They had different riding backgrounds and some looked much more comfortable than others. I loved how supportive they were of each other. I watched them tackle the pump track and the “railroad tracks” lines — and even the girls who were still learning how to ride smoothly seemed to love it. Some would bump into walls, others would get their bars all twisted, there were a few crashes. But they persisted.

“This can be an intimidating environment for anybody,” said Bothe, the instructor.

I asked one of them what she’d tell another girl who’s afraid to try it. “I’d tell her don’t worry,” the girl said. “After you do it you’ll feel excited because, like, you grow up and progress and do something you’ve never done before.”

Was that you before you did this class? I asked.

“Yep,” she replied.

As they waited for their turn on the track, one of them told me her favorite thing was, “Coming down the ramp with the feeling of wind on your face.”

If these girls — caught on that tricky precipice of becoming young women — had forgotten how fun bicycling was, I’m pretty sure this class has been a firm reminder that it’s still fun, and it always will be.

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

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Momentum builds for carfree river ferry service between Portland and Vancouver

Susan Bladholm, president of Frog Ferry, at the Oregon Transportation Commission this morning.

The ‘Frog Ferry’ has taken a major leap forward this week. The passenger ferry concept is making its first major public debut with media coverage and a spot on the agenda at today’s meeting of the Oregon Transportation Commission (the governor-appointed body that sets transportation policy for the State of Oregon).

Spearheading the effort is Susan Bladholm, a former director of Cycle Oregon and corporate marketing professional who spent 10 years each with Business Oregon and the Portland of Portland. Bladholm has spent two years researching and building support for her plan to establish a ferry service on the Willamette River that would shuttle customers between Lake Oswego and Vancouver.

Flanked by Portland Spirit Owner Dan Yates and Metro Project Manager Chris Ford (fresh of his win as project manager for the SW Corridor, which was approved by Metro Council last night), Bladholm said, “It’s time for a new mode of transportation to be introduced.”

From a presentation by Frog Ferry.

Potential stops.

“The heavy lift is bringing in the infrastructure and changing the culture,” she continued. “Just like cycling. Now we have cyclists all over the place; but way back when our shoulders weren’t all that wide or very clean, and we didn’t have cyclists. Infrastructure was needed.”

Far from just a pie-in-the-sky idea, Bladholm (whose bio says, “she has staffed five governors”) can boast of having 450 supporters lined up behind her. She’s met with dozens of agency staff and was personally introduced to ODOT management by Director Matt Garrett. The Frog Ferry has support from major power brokers in Portland politics and river interests including the Port of Portland, Port of Vancouver, Zidell Companies, Working Waterfront Coalition, Vigor Industrial, Travel Oregon, City of Portland (Mayor Ted Wheeler), Portland Business Alliance, Central Eastside Industrial Council, and Daimler Trucks North America.

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The name and logo artwork comes from Chinook myth.

Metro likes the idea too. Ford told commissioners today that, “We’re encouraged to see the private sector exploring climate-friendly transportation options that recognize a sense of place.” (The
“Frog” part of the name is based on Chinook mythology.) Ford said the 2018 Metro Regional Transportation Plan includes the ferry concept, which gives it, “A hall pass for further study.”

The idea of a water ferry was also the subject of a 2006 City of Portland study as part of the River Renaissance initiative. One key barrier cited back then was the lack of terminals and dock facilities and the high cost to built them. That’s why strong private sector interest makes the Frog Ferry concept different.

According to Frog Ferry documents, the concept would include seven stops between Vancouver and Lake Oswego, with future plans that could add more stops and extend the service to Camas, Troutdale, and St. Helens. The service would target commuters, errand-runners, tourists, and people in emergencies. “When and if the big earthquake happens we’ll have more vessels to move people around when all the bridges come crumbling down,” Yates said today.

Estimates of use and trip times are still approximate, but a presentation shows the trip between Rose Quarter and Vancouver taking 25 minutes. Lake Oswego to Vancouver would be 41 minutes. To drive the 20 miles between Lake Oswego or the Rose Quarter to Vancouver would take around an hour or 30 minutes respectively during typical commute traffic.

The ferries themselves would fit about 149 people and would have room for bikes. Bladholm told the OTC today that that equates to taking 500 cars off the roads, based on Columbia River Crossing project research that found 67% of I-5 auto traffic that crosses the Columbia River is single-occupancy.

To further understand the costs and benefits of the project, Frog Ferry backers are asking the State of Oregon to help fund a $650,000 feasibility study.

From Frog Ferry presentation.

“Rather than saying it’s too hard or too expensive,” Bladholm said today, “let’s be informed. let’s be curious, rather than say we simply can’t do it.” And Portland Spirit owner Dan Yates put it bluntly after expressing his dislike of government delays and regulations. “I’m willing to buy the first boat, but you guys have to do the study.”

Yates added that he envisions a system of 16 electric ferries that would ideally be have to be tightly integrated into the TriMet and Streetcar systems.

When commissioners had a chance to respond, OTC Chair Tammy Baney said, “I am floored by the passion behind it.”

Commissioner Alando Simpson also expressed support of the project, saying, “I think it’s a very realistic and practical concept.” Simpson also said he was concerned he didn’t see any representation from environmental justice advocates in Frog Ferry documents. “You’re going to have to figure out how you tap into those constituent bases,” he advised.

Frog Ferry’s timeline says they want to launch in 2020. That doesn’t seem likely, but I wouldn’t doubt Bladholm. She has the experience, skills, and connections to make this work. “We’re doing our part,” she told the OTC this morning, “Now we’re asking agencies to step up and help us.”

Learn more at FrogFerry.com.

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

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Central City in Motion plan adopted by Portland city council with 3-0 vote

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It’s time for Portland to build more efficient streets downtown where walkers and bicycle riders can get around without fearing for their life. And to make it happen, we need to move forward with the Central City in Motion plan and more people need to stop driving cars.

That was the message newly-appointed Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly shared at Thursday’s city council hearing. Commissioner Eudaly made activist hearts flutter when she opened the meeting with a speech that set a strong tone that helped pass the plan with flying colors in a vote of 3-0 (two commissioners were absent). Eudaly’s tone throughout was “Blumenauer-like” one source told me after the meeting, referring to U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who served as PBOT commissioner in the 1990s when our city put itself on the map as a leader in bicycling, walking, and transit.

Recounting her experience being stuck in Hawthorne Bridge traffic next to a TriMet bus, in her opening speech Eudaly said Portland needs to encourage incentives and disincentives so people, “Change their deeply engrained behaviors and their cherished traditions — namely to not drive their single occupancy vehicles [into downtown].” She also promised that no public funds would be spent on auto parking garages and that the city is current “over-investing” in east Portland, pushing back against any claims that central city investment is not equitable (an issue that has plagued bikeway investments in the past).

Even without Mayor Ted Wheeler in attendance (he’s had a very rough 24 hours) Eudaly urged the council to vote on the plan instead of delaying it, as often happens at first readings of new ordinances. She said it’s already taken six years to get to this point where 18 projects are vetted and ready-to-go. “We need to adopt this plan today,” she said, “to move forward with any of them.”

After a presentation by PBOT staff, other commissioners had the chance to ask questions.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz, known for being a walking advocate, wanted assurances from PBOT that protected bikeways wouldn’t create stressful conditions for people on foot. Fritz also asked why PBOT chose SW Broadway and 4th for the marquee cycling couplet instead of 5th and 6th (a.k.a. the transit mall). It’s likely Fritz asked about this because taking drivers off the transit mall is something the Portland Business Alliance has advocated for (instead of Broadway and 4th).

PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff was ready for the question.

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PBOT slide makes a very simple argument.

He described engineering challenges like access to major hotels that open onto 5th and 6th and landlocked buildings that use the transit mall for garbage service and other deliveries. “And there are political challenges,” Graff added, “The property owners that paid into the LID [local improvement district] that constructed the [transit] mall were promised continuous vehicular access.” Then Commissioner Fritz interjected, “And we don’t want to break promises.”

“Today we can begin a new era of Portland leadership in green and efficient transportation.”
— Catie Gould, Bike Loud PDX vice-chair

There were several panels of people invited to testify — and most of them echoed Eudaly’s call for action. A TriMet rep said they want the transit priority projects built, “As quick as we can.” Many people pushed for all 18 projects to be completed in the first 1-5 years, if not sooner.

Emily Barrett, a board member for The Street Trust, told stories about how friends won’t bike downtown because it’s unsafe. “I don’t want this to be a brave choice,” she said.

Clint Culpepper, transportation options manager for Portland State University, said a permanent protected bikeway on SW Broadway “is overdue”. He added that they’ve seen student driving rates increase, “Because of the lower level of comfort and safety bicycle riders feel in the central city.”

Bike Loud PDX Vice-chair Catie Gould (who, in a mark of respect for the grassroots group, was invited by PBOT to testify) told council it’s time for Portland to stop resting on its laurels. “Pent up demand for safe and efficient transportation alternatives mean that bold actions can lead to meaningful results,” she said. “Today we can begin a new era of Portland leadership in green and efficient transportation.”

“I like protected bikeways… They’re important to get people like me to ride. I won’t ride because I’m too afraid, and there are a lot of people like that.”
— Commissioner Dan Saltzman

Gary Cobb, community outreach coordinator with Central City Concern, a homeless services organization, said the W Burnside project was especially needed for their clients. “We urge you to move forward with this plan.. With 6,000 low-income patients and 600 residents at our building, that part of Burnside is important for us for safety and mobility.”


When it was time for public testimony, there was strong support for the plan — as well as major concerns from business owners and their advocates. And a rep from PBOT’s own Freight Advisory Committee requested more analysis of trucking impacts.

There was a nearly united front from freight and central eastside business interests that the proposed protected bikeways on NE/SE 7th Avenue should be moved to 6th. PBOT prefers 7th because it’s direct, wide enough to support a quality bikeway, and it connects much better to the rest of the network (including the forthcoming carfree bridge over Sullivan’s Gulch). But reps from the Central Eastside Industrial Council and the PBOT Freight Committee want bikes off 7th and on 6th Avenue instead. With 6th marked as part of the future Green Loop they see think it’s “redundant” to have bikes on both.

There was a clear tension between those who see the central eastside as a current and future “industrial sanctuary” and those who feel the area is changing and needs to be planned for as a residential and retail destination. It seems Commissioner Eudaly and PBOT think it will become more like the Pearl District (Eudaly even referred to it as a “former industrial sanctuary”) and some business reps and Commissioner Fritz believe we need to dig in and preserve it as a heavy industry and manufacturing hub. In the end Fritz proposed an amendment to the ordinance that would “ensure freight and loading zone access for central eastside businesses.” Both Eudaly and PBOT supported it and agreed to continue to work on issues raised.

Yes we just adopted a plan that allows PBOT to create bike and transit lanes with space currently occupied by 1,000 parking spots.
(Graphic: PBOT)

Business representatives from northeast Broadway also expressed concerns over how new protected bike lanes and other changes would impact loading zones and customer access. The owners of Elephant’s Deli and Cotton Cloud futons said they would suffer if the projects were built. The owner of the futon shop on NE 7th and Broadway said, “If these things go through it will impact my business very strongly… we’d probably go out of business.” Elephant’s Deli owner said, “Losing the parking lanes and loading zones would be devastating.”

An employee of Modern Times Beer, located on SE Belmont between 6th and 7th also expressed concerns with the plan. He said their brewery has access doors on both streets and worries they’d be closed off if the project is built. He said he supports the goals of the plan, but that, “We need to ensure our ability to survive won’t be impacted.”

After they spoke and returned to their seats, PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff walked over and got their contact information — a very smart move that was surely seen by the commissioners.

Rina Jimmerson with the Central Eastside Industrial Council said the loss of 100 on-street parking spots along 7th Avenue would, “Disrupt our parking system.” Jimmerson added that PBOT hasn’t done enough outreach to businesses and that the projects would hurt workers who drive into the central eastside. “We’re not against bikes,” she said, “but this plan needs to remember the low-wage workers.”

After the ebullient start of the hearing, at this point it felt like the tide might be turning against the plan.

Then Jessica Engelman stepped up to the mic. Engelman is a dedicated transportation advocate who volunteers with Bike Loud PDX and lives in the central eastside. She said she signed up to testify late, specifically to respond to concerns that might have popped up. Anyone saying there hasn’t been enough outreach on this plan, “Has been living under a rock,” she said confidently, as she pointed out a list of previously adopted plans that the Central City in Motion plan would fulfill (and which she printed out and gave to the commissioners). When it comes to putting a bikeway on 6th instead of 7th, Engelman warned that would be a big mistake and would lead to the same problem we have now of bicycle riders trying to ride through the Waterfront Park path.

As for concerns from businesses on inner NE Broadway? “I don’t shop there because it’s a terrifying street,” Engelman said, “Maybe if we made it a little less terrifying you’d get more business and you wouldn’t have to close.”

The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler took a much different stance with her testimony than other advocates in the room. She appealed directly to commissioners and told them how her organization’s encouragement programs — like Women Bike, the Bike More Challenge, and others — would get people on bikes. “We want to be your partner to ensure that if these projects are built, they will be successful.” (The one-two punch between Bike Loud PDX leaders and volunteers and The Street Trust was really effective.)

With Mayor Wheeler absent and Commissioner Nick Fish having left for some reason during the hearing, and with concerns raises about business and parking impacts, it wasn’t clear that council would vote on the plan last night. But as persuasive testimony in favor of the plan piled up, and PBOT project staff confidently answered every question raised, the remaining three commissioners (which is enough for a quorum) decided the time to pass it was now.

PBOT infographic.

Prior to votes being called, Commissioner Eudaly offered a closing statement that caused several transportation advocates in the room to touch their hands to their hearts. She thanked biking activists for their work (calling several out by name) in making Portland a safer and easier place to ride and said, “For too long we’ve taken care of… car drivers. If it seems like we’re devoting a lot of time and money to walking and biking; we are. And it’s very necessary.” Saying that it’s “imperative” due to climate change, public healthy, safety, equity, and quality of life, Eudaly brushed aside driving concerns. “We can’t please everyone all the time.”

Then she went further, telling a story that cars with engines are relatively new to our streets and that, “For millennia before, streets served multiple purposes.” Citing the Critical Mass motto, Eudaly continued: “We are traffic. I have a motto for people who are single-occupant vehicle drivers frustrated while sitting in traffic. You are the congestion!”

After she voted “Aye,” Fritz and Saltzman gave their closing statements.

Fritz said the plan is “very important” and called herself a, “Huge pedestrian and transit advocate.” Then she added, while she herself doesn’t like to bike, because her son and his wife ride, “I’m also an avid cycling advocate.” She voted “Aye.”

And Saltzman, with just a few months left in his long tenure as a city commissioner, said, “I like protected bikeways a lot. They’re important to get people like me to ride. I won’t ride because I’m too afraid, and there are a lot of people like that… If we’re going to be successful to get our bicycling rates up, we need to overcome that.” He voted, “Aye.”

And the resolution passed. And there was much rejoicing — not just from the advocates in the room; but from the commissioners themselves, who, even after a long day seemed to appreciate a civil and productive meeting where something of great importance to our city moved forward with widespread support.

Great job everyone! This is a massive step forward for Portland.

Here’s a photo from Kiel Johnson after the meeting that shows just a small part of the dedicated advocates who worked to make this happen:

Heart emoji.
(Photo courtesy Kiel Johnson)

Helpful links for more info:
– Don’t miss our live-tweeting coverage thread which you can read here.
– Central City in Motion official city website.
Central City in Motion Implementation Plan (PDF, 27 MB)
Interactive map of all 18 projects.
– About funding: Of the $35 million needed to build the first phase projects, PBOT has: $8.3 million secured (federal grant and local gas tax); $16.7 million highly likely from TriMet ($5.5M) and System Development Charges ($11M). There’s still a $10 million or so gap to fill; but when you’ve got this much momentum and legwork done on a set of shovel-ready projects, money has a way of magically appearing. That said, we’ll need to fight hard to get more money to build this stuff.

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

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Guest post: ‘Pushing On’ along the Oregon Timber Trail

Karey Miles and Deann Garcia enjoying the fruits of their labor atop Winter Rim above Summer Lake.
(Photos courtesy Rebecca Hamilton/West Coast Women’s Cycling)

The Oregon Timber Trail – a new, 669-mile backcountry singletrack route that a rider can follow from the California border to the Columbia River – is a gem of an idea poised to become the definitive off-road cycling experience in Oregon.

Don’t miss the event this Saturday (11/17)!

And as a new trail that’s only two seasons old (it launched in 2017), it’s a gem that’s still a little rough around the edges.

“The Oregon Timber Trail is a new, unrefined route.” notes the OTT website helpfully, “and this guide is likely to be incorrect or lacking in some sections.”

Heartened by these encouraging words, four women from the West Coast Women’s Cycling team (Deann Garcia, Aliza Richman, Karey Miles, and Heather Van Valkenburg, along with Bill Garcia) set out to ride the trail from its southernmost terminus in Lakeview up to Oakridge, a 305-mile stretch that covered all of the Fremont section and about half of the Willamette section (the trail is conveniently separated into four “tiers” to make trip-planning easier).

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The gang at the California-Oregon border east of Lakeview. Left to right: Heather VanValkenburg, Aliza Richman, Deann Garcia, Karey Miles.

Feeling small in the expanse between Moss Pass and Paisley.
(Photo: Aliza Richman)

Day 1 was really “fun”. (Left to right) Bill Garcia, Deann Garcia, Karey Miles, and Aliza Richman take a breather at the highest elevation point on the trail — 8300-feet in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

“What’s a few miles of bushwhacking through overgrown manzanita bushes and some heatstroke in exchange for a chance to explore the wild and remote regions of our state?”

The website did not disappoint. In addition to the classic joys (stunning desert vistas, the occasional hot spring) and tribulations (punishing heat, sand, cows) of an Eastern Oregon bikepacking trip, the fledgling OTT had a few surprises.

But at the end of the day, what’s a few miles of bushwhacking through overgrown manzanita bushes and some light heatstroke in exchange for a chance to explore the wild and remote regions of our state? The OTT is a gateway to the seldom-seen corners of Oregon and worth getting out of your comfort zone for. The best part, said rider Deann Garcia, was “figuring out that it was possible for our bodies to handle it. Just powering through, feeling like your body was getting better and that you could ride forever… and knowing that you have friends who want to do this with you.”

Deann Garcia and her fully-loaded rig. Come to the event to learn how to get your bike packed and ready.

This Saturday, Nov. 17th, these intrepid women are hosting an event to share their stories and encourage others interested in embarking on an OTT trip of their own. They’ll show a 25-minute video of footage from the trail and then take your questions. They’ll also have their fully-loaded bikes with gear and packing lists to help riders set up their own rig.

And to make sure this trail keeps getting better and better for all of us, all proceeds of raffle sales will support the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance – the team of badass trail stewards who built the trail and do the hard work of maintaining it.

The Oregon Timber Trail: Pushing On
Saturday, Nov. 17th at 5 pm
Evolution Fitness (905 SE Ankeny)
Free – Beers are $2 (bring your own pint glass), Raffle tix are $1 each – all sales will be donated to the Oregon Timber Trail Alliance.

The event is open to all and should be especially useful for women/woman-identifying people who are interested in bikepacking and looking to meet like-minded peers. Hope to see you there!

— Rebecca Hamilton

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Family Biking: Get ready for puddle season

Start ’em young…also, balance bikes have no drivetrain to douse with puddle water.
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

Puddle season is right around the corner, are you ready?

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Officially, I believe one should always avoid puddles because you never know what’s hidden under the water. Unofficially, they’re really fun to ride through!

But seriously, puddles can contain sharp rocks that puncture tires or hide deep potholes that throw you over your handlebars when you enter them. Or if you lose momentum on your way through a big puddle and have to put your foot down: soaking wet foot.

Shallow puddles are fun!

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Sometimes puddles feel unavoidable, filling a depression across the whole bike lane or road. We cautiously ride through these sorts of puddles, lifting our feet to keep them dry, but it’s never a bad idea to backtrack and choose a drier street or take to the sidewalk to avoid unplumbed depths.

Sometimes the fun is in avoiding the puddles.

We encounter a lot of puddles on rainy days and without constant encouragement to avoid them, one of my kids aims at each and every one. Luckily my kids will usually listen to reason and skirt around those enticing day ruiners. Another trick I’ve used in the past is to stop and throw rocks or sail boats in puddles to scratch the itch. That said, we’ve had a few miserable day with cold, wet feet and “notes to self” to pack spare shoes and socks in the future.

Well. This felt unavoidable at the time, but I could have elected to use the sidewalk.

What are your thoughts on puddles? Have any horror stories to tips to share? Thanks for reading.

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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What three advocacy groups think of the Central City in Motion plan

Cover of PBOT’s newly published Central City in Motion Implementation Plan .

City Council will get its first chance to debate the Central City in Motion plan this Thursday.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) hopes commissioners will approve their list of 18 projects they say will vastly increase capacity of streets from the Pearl to the Lloyd, and from southwest to the central eastside. PBOT’s argument is that growth of our central city makes squeezing more efficiency out of our existing roads imperative — and we can only do that by making cycling and transit easier and faster.

But if this plan is to get through council it will need support from local transportation advocacy groups. Three in particular have watched this plan closely as it has taken shape over the past several years: Bike Loud PDX, The Street Trust, and Portlanders for Parking Reform.

Below is a taste of the tone you can expect from each group on Thursday…

Bike Loud PDX

In some ways the CCIM plan will be a coming-of-age for Bike Loud. The group has given PBOT extensive feedback on the project, culminating in a 20-page letter sent to the agency in September and an update on the plan from PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff at the group’s monthly meeting last week.

Here’s the testimony Bike Loud will share Thursday:

For too many years, Portlanders have seen the cities around them implement bold plans for biking and transit, while we rest on our accomplishments from another decade. Paris converted a waterfront highway to a public plaza, Seattle is one of three cities in the country with increased transit use. Our bicycle mode share is stuck at 6%, the same as it was in 2011, and transit ridership continues to fall. Our policies and plans are still visionary, but we have not matched our words with action.

The Central City in Motion Plan alone will not solve these issues. PBOT’s own estimates, show that with this plan we estimate the number of people walking, biking, or taking transit in the Central City will increase from 40% today, to 60% by 2035, still short of our 85% goal. We acknowledge these additional routes for non-motorized travel are not dense enough to pass our metric as a complete bike network. We should test these 18 projects ASAP, so we can determine what else needs to be done to achieve our 85% goal, and quickly program those additional strategies for rapid deployment once they are identified.

But this is an excellent start. We urge PBOT staff to implement these street designs as quickly as possible with temporary measures so residents and businesses alike can experience the benefits of these spaces. This plan groups the projects into those to be built within 5 years, and those to be built within 10 years. We instead urge Council to group the projects into those to be deployed within 12 months, and those to be deployed within 24 months; all 18 projects should be use-able by the end of 2020. This is possible using temporary strategies. Permanent solutions are OK to build out over the coming decade, but we need to implement this network now, not wait for all of the delays associated with full public works / capital project permitting, bidding and construction processes.

The world is changing quickly – the latest data from the e-scooter pilot showed over 600,000 trips so far. Making better roadways for these devices, and the ones coming in the future is of the utmost urgency. We look forward to working with staff at PBOT on the details on each of these projects.

You have the opportunity today to show your unanimous support for Portland values. Voting for Central City in Motion is a vote for climate action, for safer streets, for less pollution. Today we can begin a new era of Portland leadership on climate and green transportation.

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The Street Trust

The Street Trust is also a huge fan of the projects outlined in the plan. In part, they say, because, “people will love them.” The Street Trust detailed other reasons in a letter by Executive Director Jillian Detweiler to Mayor Ted Wheeler and commissioners yesterday. Here are the highlights:

“The resolution adopting the plan outlines an amazing body of policy adopted by the City Council… None of these policies are worth anything if they are not supported by investments in walking, biking, and transit. It is time to move from great policy to great projects. It is not physically possible to support the growth proposed for the central city without shifting transportation choices to walking, biking, and transit. By allocating approximately 1 percent of city streets to non-autos, Central City in Motion projects will significantly increase the capacity of the transportation network… The Central City in Motion projects will chip away at the barriers to choosing alternatives to driving.

The Street Trust encounters all sorts of people in its work. Some are willing to travel out of direction, weather the discomfort of riding in traffic and test their patience to get to where they need to go by walking, biking or transit. Some have no choice but to do so. These are the people who are keeping the city moving by reducing cars on the road. They should be appreciated, but not taken for granted. Many more people say they would choose to walk if accessibility were guaranteed; choose to bike if they felt safe; choose to take transit if it did not take so darn long.

… as we are able to acquire most of the stuff we need and conduct more and more business online, the economic underpinning of a city — proximity — is eroding. An exceptional experience for people will maintain the value of our city. Investments in walking, biking, and transit will get cars off the road and make our city a memorable, hospital place designed for people.

People who have experienced the degradation of walking, biking and riding transit by traffic in recent years and those who have moved here expecting that alternatives to driving would be superior are frustrated and disappointed. Central City in Motion projects will help align our streets with our policies and rhetoric… We think motorists will also come to appreciate the separation of modes these projects will promote because no one likes being confused about how a street is intended to work.”

The Street Trust also says they want more data and clear project timelines to help hold PBOT accountable, and that transparency is needed to “ensure that investments in Central City in Motion to not consume a disproportionate share of transportation resources.” Detweiler was also a member of the plan’s Sounding Board committee and has spoken about the plan with commissioners’ staff and Mayor Wheeler.

Portlanders for Parking Reform

Parking looms large in this plan because a significant amount of street space currently to park cars (and as loading zones) will be re-allocated to lanes for biking and transit. When all 18 projects are built, PBOT estimates there will be 1,000 fewer curbside spaces for parking and loading (from 20,328 to 19,328).

That is no small thing in a city where battles have been fought over the loss of just a few parking spaces. To thwart potential pushback, PBOT has created a detailed, 29-page parking loss mitigation strategy that is on Thursday’s meeting agenda as a separate ordinance. Portlanders for Parking Reform has worked with PBOT on many issues over the years, but they were shocked when the agency released this strategy less than a week before the council hearing and without any broad public input. Now they’re crying foul.

In an article just posted this morning, the group says the plan has acquired a “parking parasite,” and characterized the parking strategy as a “backdoor plan to spend public money on parking garages… cynically tied to a long-awaited project to reduce car trips.”

Portlanders for Parking Reform (PPR) says the parking strategy was created with input “mostly from business interests”. “It does not appear that any community groups, transportation advocacy organizations, or neighborhood groups were brought into the process.” The group also says any move toward funding more auto parking in the central city is a bad investment will only lead to more congestion. PPR wants people to testify against parking subsidies and instead urge council members to focus on “transportation demand management” strategies like encouraging use of transit and bike share.

———

The level of input from each of these groups illustrates the importance of this plan.

Stay tuned for coverage of how the relatively small proposed tweaks to our streets can yield major results.

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

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Police arrest three men after ‘boobytrap’ injures bicycle rider on I-205 path

Victim says she saw the three men run up this hill just south of Division St MAX station.

Portland Police say three men stretched woven string across the I-205 path last night in an intentional act that caused an injury to a bicycle rider.

Here’s more from the statement just released by the PPB:

On Friday, November 9, 2018, at 10:53 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to the report a bicyclist was injured as a result of a boobytrap that was erected across the Interstate 205 Multi-Use Path near Southeast Division Street.

Officers and emergency medical personnel arrived and located an injured adult female. Emergency medical responders provided the victim on scene medical treatment. Officers learned the victim was traveling north while riding her bicycle on the Interstate 205 Multi-Use Path when she became entangled and injured by material strung across the path.

As an officer canvased the area, he located woven string that spanned the path just south of Southeast Division Street. During the investigation, officers also located three suspects believed to have positioned the woven string across the path. The three suspects were taken into custody without incident.

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L to R: Justin Jones, Antonio R Tolman-Duran, Dakota Murphy

Police arrested 23-year-old Justin J. Jones, 27-year-old Justin R. Tolman-Duran, and 21-year-old Dakota E. Murphy. All three were booked into jail (and have since been released) on charges of Assault in the Fourth Degree and three counts of Reckless Endangering.

This is not the first time bicycle riders have faced human-caused hazards on the 205 path. In July 2017 a man was the victim of verbal and vehicular assault when a another man drove his car onto the path about 1.3 miles south of Division.

And we’ve seen similar trip-wire incidents in several other locations. In September 2017 we reported on wires placed across a trail in Gateway Green and a cross an intersection in northeast Portland. In 2014 the Portland Police Bomb Squad responded to a wire strung across a public trail near private homes in Forest Park. In 2010 someone strung a trip-wire across a street next to Ladd Circle, a location where neighbors had complained about bicycle users not obeying a stop sign.

If you come across something on a path or in a park that appears to be a booby trap, call Portland Park Rangers at (503) 823-1637 or the PPB’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333. Call 911 if there’s an immediate safety hazard or if you see a crime in progress.

(P.S. If you’re paying attention, behavior like this should not be a surprise. When we allow hate toward bicycle users to become normalized (as it is in comment sections in every local media outlet), this is one way it manifests. It might be fun/funny for some people to wish injury (even death) upon other people for no other reason than riding a bicycle; but it’s not funny at all when those feelings are acted upon.)


UPDATE, 12:05pm: The victim is Montavilla resident Carlene Ostedegaard. According to her partner, she was riding home from work (on Foster) when it happened. The location was just south of the Division MAX stop. “It was a couple passes of twine or thin rope at about the face/neck level,” Ostedegaard’s friend told me.

She was riding north and saw the three men run up a hill.

Here are photos of her injuries:

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

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Things people asked BikePortland this week

“I found a stolen bike the other day at the Rose City Golf Course. Any suggestions on what to do with it?

BikePortland is really neat.

One of many things about my role in the community that I don’t think most people appreciate or realize is how much of a concierge BikePortland has become.

From the mundane to the ridiculous and everything in between, BikePortland is the place people come with all sorts of requests and questions. I love that this happens. It’s a sign that people are aware of BikePortland and it reinforces how much this site means to our community. And as a reporter, this is how I find many of my best sources and stories.

On that note, I thought it’d be fun to share just a tiny sampling of the emails I get. Keep in mind that these are just some of the inquiries I received in the past seven days or so…


It’s great that the Springwater Corridor is back open, but not so great that the homeless continue to be menacing farther east. I rode it from Sellwood to Gresham and back yesterday and there were trashy camps and people blocking the path just west of 82nd and around the intersection with the I205 bike path. What can I do as a cyclist? Report what I see? To whom?


In the past few days I have encountered bike lanes that are so chock full of leaves that it is impossible to ride through them, forcing me out in the street.  Is there someone to contact about this?


I was hoping that you may be able to give me some advice. I had the most unfortunate experience this morning of being nearly run over not once, but twice. The first time was by a garbage truck, the second was by a trimet maintenance truck. The garbage truck ran a stop sign and cut the corner, the trimet truck blatantly ran a red light… This is all part of the larger issue of the inherent danger of motor vehicles and perhaps I’m just peeved because this literally just happened. But I would like to lodge some sort of complaint to the city about this behavior and I’m totally unsure of where to send it!


We’re a group of graduate students working on a research project about the [redacted] project… After reading your articles on the project, we hoped that you could direct us to someone who could give us some perspective on the dynamics that went on behind the project.


I found a stolen bike the other day at the Rose City Golf Course. I brought it home and then posted it on ‘Next Door’. No one has come forward for the bike. It’s a kids 20″ BMX bike. Any suggestions on what to do with it?


Do you, or do you know of any business they will accept bicycle helmets as a donation? I work at a preschool /after school care facility and I have about 20 bike helmets. Thank you!

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I’m looking to talk to Steven Mitchell regarding the video he posted on SW Terwilliger. We would like to talk to him about the incident with the truck driver and issues on that road as it relates to all the leaves. If you could pass along my info to him or send me his email, I would greatly appreciate it!


I just got a new Metrofiets [cargo bike] but no rain canopy. Do you know where I can get one or who built them or if another one fits? Thanks for an answer in advance, from Germany.


We at The University of [redacted] are conducting a study of bikeshare policy in cities such as Portland, and my team and I are seeking to interview those individuals with influence or input over the process of regulating/managing bikeshare programs… Would you be interested in taking part in a phone interview to discuss the subject?


Whew.

And yes, I do answer as many of these as I can. I’m honored that people trust me with these questions and I feel it’s an important service BikePortland can provide to the community. I wish I could keep up with all of it, but it’s just not always possible. I feel bad for the people who I’ve left hanging! Seriously. It’s me, not you. Please feel free to re-up your email. Your messages never bother me.

I’ve shared these to show the crazy variety of what people ask about. I also wanted to remind you that BikePortland is just me and that it takes a lot of work to do this job. Most people assume BikePortland is an organization with staff. But it’s just me. I would love to have someone on staff to take over concierge duties (and a million other things!); but I haven’t been able to make that happen yet. It’s a real struggle to keep this operation afloat financially right now, but I love what we’ve created here and I’ll fight for it until the very end.

If you think BikePortland matters and that it has value in our community, please support it. Now’s a great time to do some advertising of your brand or business. You can make a one-time contribution or become a monthly subscriber here.

Thanks.

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

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New council date, final projects set for Central City in Motion plan

Cover of PBOT’s newly published Central City in Motion Implementation Plan .

After many changes in the past few months, the ink is finally drying on the Central City in Motion plan.

This week the Portland Bureau of Transportation published a bunch of new documents (including the official Implementation Plan) and changed the council hearing date to this coming Thursday November 15th at 2:00 pm.

This is not a drill.

With two years of public outreach and planning all tied up in a bow, all that’s left is to make closing arguments, get this thing passed at City Council, and start building.

Here’s what made the final cut…

The Projects

Phasing map. Projects in red will come first (1-5 years).

The 18 projects (a.k.a. “super project bundles”) have been finalized and separated into two construction phases: 1-5 and 6-10 years (map above shows all of them). Since we last reported on this plan, three projects have been added back onto the list at the request of various organizations and agencies: the Grand Avenue transit/freight lane (at the request of the Central Eastside Industrial Council, Portland Streetcar, and TriMet); NW 14th protected bike lanes and safer crossings (at the request of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association); and NE Multnomah upgrades (at the request of Go Lloyd).

Below are the final recommendations for 1-5 year implementation. As you read the list, note the following: The number corresponds to official project number and is not a ranking of priority; “BAT” lane is short for Business Access and Transit; some projects listed are just small chunks of larger projects.

1 – Burnside (from W 10th to E 12th) – $5.5 million

The proposal includes a Bus and Turn lane, a series of crossing improvements, and protected bikeways. These investments will provide faster, more reliable TriMet service, improve safety and accessibility on West Burnside approaching the bridge, and facilitate more cycling trips across the river

2 – Broadway (from SW Grant to Broadway Bridge) 4th Avenue (from SW Caruthers to NW Flanders), and SW College – $6.6 million

This project would create a signature north-south bike facility on the 4th Avenue and Broadway couplet, while upgrading unsignalized pedestrian crossings in South Downtown. The couplet would increase access for people biking to major destinations and employers, including PSU and the downtown retail core, and increase crossing safety along both streets

3 – NE/SE 7th Avenue (from Sullivan’s Span to Division) and SE Grand Ave – $5.4 million

Coordinating to serve freight, auto, transit and bike needs, these projects would improve how people move through the heart of the Central Eastside. MLK and Grand would include Bus/Streetcar and Turn (BAT) lanes that could also accommodate freight. New pedestrian crossings of MLK and Grand would improve safety and access. Protected bike lanes on 7th Avenue would connect the Sullivan’s Crossing to the Tilikum Bridge. 6th Avenue, the likely location of the future Green Loop, would include new pedestrian crossings.

5 – SW Madison (from SW 5th to SW 1st) – $170,000

Moving the bike lane on Madison will eliminate weaving with the buses. Portions of the bikeway connections from the Hawthorne Bridge will be protected. Separating people biking on Madison from other vehicles will improve safety for all roadway users. To accommodate the BAT lane from 1st to 5th Avenues on SW Madison, all parking would be removed.

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6 – NW 14th (from Burnside to Front) – $530,000

NW 14th would create a protected bike lane from Burnside to Hoyt, and a wide bike lane from Hoyt to Savier. To accommodate the protected bike lane on SW 14th Avenue from Burnside to Hoyt, parking on both sides of the street
would be removed from Couch to Everett and one travel lane would be removed from Everett to Glisan.

7 – NW Everett (from Broadway to Steel Bridge) – $1 million

This project would make bus trips faster and more reliable by adding a Bus and Turn (BAT) lane on Everett approaching the bridge. It would address the ramps on the west side of the bridge that create merging conflicts, further improving transit commutes out of downtown. To accommodate a BAT lane on NW Everett from Broadway to 2nd Avenue, a travel lane would be removed.

8 – SW Salmon/SW Taylor/SW 1st – $3.9 million

… creating a protected bike lane on Salmon/Taylor. They would link to the Hawthorne Bridge via a new protected bike lane on SW 1st. Pedestrian crossing improvements on both streets and bus stop improvements on SW Salmon are also proposed. To accommodate protected bike lanes, parking would be removed along one side of Salmon and Taylor.

9 – SE Salmon – $490,000

SE Salmon community greenway would provide a family-friendly bike connection to the Eastbank Esplanade and the Willamette River. This project would include improved crossings at the intersections at Water, MLK, Grand, 7th, 11th, and 12th.

12 – SE Hawthorne (from viaduct to 12th) – $1.2 million

… transit priority at intersections on Hawthorne and Madison, protected bike lanes on Hawthorne. New transit islands on Hawthorne would increase transit speed and reliability while reducing conflicts with people driving and biking. To accommodate a parking protected bike lane, the northernmost lane on Hawthorne would become a pro-time parking lane; no parking would be provided on the north side of Hawthorne during the peak hour.

13 – NE Multnomah – $3.8 million

This project would improve the existing parking protected bike lane on NE Multnomah and address bus/bike conflicts (by building transit islands). A Neighborhood Greenway on NE 16th would provide a connection between this route and NE Portland neighborhoods. On NE Multnomah Street, the current buffered bike lane would become a parking-protected bike lane.

15 – NE Lloyd (from MLK to 12th) – $740,000

This two-way bikeway along Lloyd would provide a cycling connection from the Steel Bridge to 16th. It would connect to the forthcoming Sullivan’s Crossing – a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge to be constructed over I-84 at 7th Avenue. To accommodate the protected bikeway from Grand to NE 9th, one travel lane in each direction would be removed. To accommodate buffered bike lanes from NE 9th to NE 12th, the center turn lane would be removed.

16 – Pedestrian crossings of Burnside – $870,000

17 – Naito Parkway – $4 million*

This project would implement a year-round version of “Better Naito,” providing a two-way cycletrack and sidewalk along the west side of Waterfront Park. Modern signal equipment would be installed along the corridor to better coordinate signal timing. Smart signals will smooth auto access to I-5 by detecting vehicle queues waiting to turn onto the Morrison Bridge. To accommodate the two-way cycletrack, one north bound travel lane will be removed. PBOT studied moving the bikeway into Waterfront Park, but determined the tree impacts were too great

*Notice PBOT has decided against a version of the project floated by Mayor Wheeler (and championed by the Portland Business Alliance) that would have maintained existing auto capacity between Salmon and the Morrison Bridge. PBOT has also (very smartly) laid to rest the idea of making a bike pathway through Waterfront Park (another idea pushed by the PBA).

18 – NE Broadway/Weidler (phase I) – $1.5 million

This project would reconfigure travel lanes where feasible to create protected or buffered bike lanes for improved safety and circulation. The project would extend from the Broadway Bridge to NE 7th Ave to connect with existing bike lanes in the Lloyd neighborhood.

Is it starting to sink in yet? This is stuff PBOT will start building next spring. Here’s how they’ll pay for it…

The Funding

This first tranche of projects is estimated to cost about $36 million (total cost of all projects in the plan is twice that). Lest you think this is a repeat of the 2030 Bicycle Master Plan which had no dedicated funding, PBOT says they have about $25 million in their pocket, ready to spend. It comes from a combination of a federal grant, assistance from TriMet, and fees paid to PBOT by developers.

The city is still $9 million short for this first phase and would still need another $36 million for the 6-10 year projects.

Keep in mind, that all this stuff is fluid and PBOT is likely to find more money and even switch projects around from the two phases. PBOT is a pragmatic and opportunistic agency and while they need a certain amount of specificity to pass the plan at City Council, by no means is all this stuff set is stone.

In these final days before the hearing, PBOT and their advocacy partners are prepping presentations and testimony. Check out the plan on PBOT’s website and stay tuned for more updates and coverage early next week.

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

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Tired of leaves in bike lanes, this Portlander made a pedal-powered sweeper



*Many major bikeways in Portland are covered in leaves this time of year. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Bill Stites of Portland-based Stites Design likes to create human-powered vehicles that can do amazing things.

Bill Stites

His most successful product so far is the “Truck Trike” which has been used to re-balance bike share fleets and by delivery giant UPS to deliver packages.

And like many of you, Bill is tired of having to ride through the slippery leaves that often block or narrow many Portland bike lanes this time of year. As we saw last week on SW Terwilliger, the presence of leaves in bike lanes isn’t just a minor inconvenience, it can put people at risk and it contributes to already-frayed nerves. At a time when we must do everything possible to promote cycling, this is just one more hazard people face.

We’ve heard from readers who’ve slipped and fallen this year, and several who fear they might. The issue comes up every year, and while PBOT eventually cleans most of it up (they’ve already swept Terwilliger, Willamette, and many other bikeways in the past week), there’s got to be a better way to deal with it. And it’s not just the leaves. Soon it will be snow, then ice, then gravel. People who ride bikes deserve better.

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PBOT’s smallest sweeper (seen here on Williams Ave last week) is still too big for some of our new protected bike lanes.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortlanD)

In 2013 the City of Portland added a mini-sweeper to its maintenance fleet with the expressed intent of using it to clear bikeways. But that’s just one sweeper. And at 7 1/2-feet wide, it won’t be able to squeeze into some the newly protected bikeways PBOT has built in the past few years.

Enter Bill Stites’ latest creation: A trailer outfitted with swiveling brushes pulled behind his electric trike. It’s simple and effective.

(Photos: Bill Stites)

Here’s a video of it in action on SE Morrison…

Bill tells us it’s still just a prototype. His ultimate goal is to create a “human scale, appropriate energy consumption,” solution at a reasonable cost.

About a year ago, before he started to work on this sweeper trailer, Bill met with PBOT maintenance staff to talk about the problem. “Our discussion revealed a sticking point,” he recalled via email today. “They insisted that the detritus needed to be picked up for liability reasons. Pushing to the side without picking up was not acceptable (the only exception being snow).”

Bill says designing a system to capture the leaves would up the cost, complexity, and energy consumption. He wants to keep things simple so he plans to keep refining his trailer design. “Personally, I think the design is pretty close,” he says.

Bill’s sweeper creates a clear path about 36-inches wide by pushing debris to the curb. He estimates he could make them available for about $1,500 a piece (the heavy-duty brush-heads alone are $200 each). With a modified hitch that could attach to more types of bikes, perhaps neighborhood associations, local tool libraries, and other organizations could purchase one of these and loan it out to volunteer sweepers.

In the spirit of bike-powered trash-hauler Danny Dunn, we salute Bill Stites and hope to see a fleet of his sweepers on Portland streets in the very near future.

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

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