Family Biking: Share your new bike stories!

New bikes don’t care about the weather!
(Photos: Madi Carlson)

I don’t observe Christmas myself, but I’m happy to celebrate it with other people. One of my favorite parts of this season seeing kids and adults on new (or new-to-them) bikes.

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

Our first few years in the Pacific Northwest were spent in a Seattle neighborhood called Green Lake. The neighborhood’s most prominent feature is a lake surrounded by a three-mile multi-use path. I loved walking or biking to the lake on Christmas Day to watch all the kids trying out their new bikes. Seeing kids on their first bike — and remembering what it felt like myself — never gets old.

Nowadays our bikes are more for transportation and not just for fun (though also for fun, of course!). And as such, in our family we tend to get new bike stuff as soon as we need it (without waiting for the holidays). This means I don’t personally have any new bikes to share photos of. But I’d love to hear your stories of exciting new holiday bikes and bike accessories.



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Hand-me-down bikes sometimes come with strings (or brothers) attached.

Have you seen any kids testing out new wheels over this holiday week? Did you gift your little one(s) the magic of a new bike? I hope to see many new pedalers in the coming weeks.

Happy holidays everyone!

UPDATE: Reader Tad Reeves just shared this great video and story via Twitter:

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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The Oregonian: Saudi government helped Fallon Smart’s killer flee the US

The Oregonian reported on Monday that the Saudi Arabian government was actively involved in helping Abdulrahman Noorah flee the United States and circumvent justice for his role in the death of 15-year old Fallon Smart.

Noorah is the man who drove recklessly down Southeast Hawthorne Blvd in August 2016 and struck Smart as she tried to cross at 43rd Avenue.

Almost immediately after we first reported on this horrific tragedy, many in the community predicted Noorah would evade authorities. He was in Portland on a student visa living off a monthly stipend paid for by the Saudi government. On June 12th, 2017 just before his scheduled trial, Noorah removed his GPS monitoring device and went missing. That wasn’t surprising to prosecutors or Smart’s family — both of whom considered Noorah a major flight risk. He would likely have still been in custody if the Saudi government hadn’t paid off $100,000 of his $1 million bail.

Here’s how Noorah’s escape went down, according to The Oregonian:

He [Noorah] received permission from his release supervisor, Deputy Kari Kolberg, to study at the community college’s Southeast 82nd Avenue campus on Saturday, June 10.

That afternoon, according to investigators, a GMC Yukon XL arrived outside Noorah’s home on Southeast Yamhill Street and picked him up.

GPS data from Noorah’s monitor bracelet shows he traveled east along Southeast Division Street until the SUV arrived at Portland Sand & Gravel on 106th Avenue, prosecutors said.

This past July, more than 13 months after Noorah first disappeared, the Saudi government contacted Homeland Security, the Marshals Service said. It informed the agency that he arrived back in the kingdom on June 17, 2017. That leaves seven days after Noorah cut off his monitor to the date of his return to his country that remain unaccounted for, Wahlstrom said. The Saudi government hasn’t answered U.S. questions about how Noorah made it back to the kingdom or provided additional details about him.



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Federal investigators at this time believe the Saudis issued Noorah a new passport, probably under a different name, to make the long journey home, according to the marshals. He would not have been able to clear customs or cross international borders without one, Wahlstrom said.

Based on their unsuccessful canvass of airports and commercial flights, federal law enforcement officials also believe Noorah most likely traveled on a private carrier, which have less rigorous oversight, according to Wahlstrom.

On June 13th 2017, just three days after The Oregonian has now confirmed Noorah was whisked back home on a private plane, Multnomah County District Attorney Shawn Overstreet downplayed the Saudi government’s ties to the case. Overstreet told BikePortland that the Saudi government wouldn’t help such a low-level character like Noorah. “They wouldn’t do that for this guy,” he said. Overstreet went so far as to say that if Noorah did return he’d get a very cold reception from his native country — and that he might even face jail time.

Of course back then the U.S. and Saudi Arabia were not involved in a major diplomatic row over the gruesome killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In response to Smart’s death, the City of Portland updated the crossing at Hawthorne and 43rd with a concrete median and a striped crosswalk.

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

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In push to save lives, Oregon Senator wants to lower DUI limit to .05

In 1983, Utah was the first state to lower the level of blood alcohol content that would qualify for a DUI arrest when they went from .10 to .08. Then Oregon followed suit.

Now we’re poised to follow Utah again as the second state to reduce the DUI limit even further to .05.

That’s the intention of a bill (PDF) that’s been introduced by Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, which is still in draft form until the legislative session formally begins next month. 继续阅读“In push to save lives, Oregon Senator wants to lower DUI limit to .05”

TriMet, PBOT say no further federal study needed on Gideon Overcrossing project

“We disagree that a Supplemental EIS is needed.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

TriMet and the City of Portland are refuting one of the central arguments being made by a business owner who wants to derail the Gideon Overcrossing project.

As we reported yesterday, several businesses on SE 14th are very concerned that the proposed bridge and elevators over light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks near Clinton Street Station will have a major negative impact on their ability to unload trucks and access loading zones and parking lots.

As designed, the structure that would land on SE 14th would use only existing public right-of-way, but it would constrain space currently used by truck operators to access businesses. There are also fears that what some consider a heavily industrial street will be too dangerous for the added volume of walkers and bikers that will use the new bridge.

One of those business owners, Michael Koerner of Koerner Camera Systems, is so upset with TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation over how they’ve rolled out the project, he hired a land-use attorney to fight it. Koerner has several beefs with the project and the agencies behind it; but the central argument — as laid out in a letter from his lawyer to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration — is that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) must be completed for the project. This federally regulated review would be a massive undertaking for TriMet and would delay a project that is close to breaking ground.

Koerner says he supports an overcrossing, but not at 14th right outside his business. He and his attorney Jennifer Bragar of Tomasi Salyer Martin say it should be built several blocks east at SE 16th Avenue — at the same location of the old crossing that was torn down in 2013. They say they’ve been blindsided by the location at 14th and that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) completed in 2010 for TriMet’s Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project never mentioned the new location.

In her letter to the FTA, Brager wrote: “The FEIS did not suggest that the bridge would be replaced in a location that differed from its original siting at SE 16th and Gideon.”

But that’s not accurate, say TriMet and PBOT officials.

TriMet Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt contacted us yesterday to say, “Claims were made that 14th Avenue was not considered in the FEIS. It was.” Altstadt supplied an excerpt from the PMLR Project FEIS (PDF). On page 2-12, it states:

“In addition, a pedestrian overcrossing of the UPRR tracks currently located west of SE 16th Avenue and SE Brooklyn Street would be removed. A new pedestrian overcrossing that would include ramps meeting ADA requirements would be constructed from SE 14th Avenue over the UPRR to the Clinton Station… the construction of this overpass would be deferred, but the project will still be designed to meet ADA requirements and includes the other station area access improvements described above.”



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View from Koerner Camera Systems looking out on SE 14th where the Gideon Overcrossing would be built. The big rig is right where the elevator and stairs would come down.
(Photo: Lisa Cicala)

Altstadt also reiterated that the initial scope of the project would have required the removal of the building currently occupied by K & F Coffee Roasters and that the current proposal has a lesser impact.

PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera also contacted us with a statement about the project. “We disagree that a Supplemental EIS is needed,” he wrote in an email yesterday.

Rivera said PBOT and TriMet are working together to reduce the project’s impact on loading and unloading activities. As for concerns from business owners that the project will introduce a major safety hazard to bicycle users and walkers, Rivera says, “This is a low-traffic street with low-speed vehicle traffic. We think bicycles, pedestrians and freight can be safely accommodated here, as they are in many other locations in Portland.”

Rivera added that they’re considering creating a new loading zone for Sustainable Northwest Wood, another business on 14th that requires large truck access. Currently, those trucks park in the middle of the street and unload with a forklift. Rivera says the trucks create a major safety hazard and that a new loading zone would improve sight lines for all users. The catch is, it would require removal of several on-street auto parking spaces.

To cement his case that 14th in this location is a very low-traffic street, Rivera supplied us with recent traffic counts. On December 12th, PBOT counted 320 total vehicles, including three large tractor trailers and 33 small and medium-sized trucks. The count was similar to previous counts PBOT has performed at this location in 2015 and 2016. For reference, PBOT’s standard for Neighborhood Greenways is fewer than 1,000 cars/trucks per day and their new “Shared Streets” standard is less than 500 cars/trucks per day.

In an email after our story was published, Koerner emphasized his concerns about safety. “The safety issue is paramount, the congestion which will be created with the structure in front of my office will cause additional safety concerns. Everyone on the street wants safety studies completed before the bridge is built.”

He also supplied us with several letters from people opposed to the project. One of them is Lisa Cicala, executive director of the Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA), a non-profit based in Koerner’s building. Cicala shared the image above and wrote, “Considering the industrial traffic on this road, it’s so important to take these safety concerns into serious consideration. If an injury can be prevented or a life saved because due diligence was done, it will be worth it.”

“Safety studies” are much different than a federally regulated SEIS done according to the National Environmental Protection Act review process. Perhaps Koerner and others would be satisfied with a compromise where TriMet and PBOT complete a safety plan/report and promise certain mitigations if/when safety hazards crop up? We’ll see.

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

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Construction begins next month on NW Newberry Rd

Beautiful, isn’t it?
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Next month will be two years since a landslide wiped away a big chunk of NW Newberry Road. Multnomah County closed the winding, mountain road to through traffic in January 2017 and it has since become even more popular than usual for cycling. Newberry is one of a handful of climbs that take riders from Highway 30 up and over the west hills. It’s a welcome respite from the loud and fast traffic on “Dirty 30.”

With the closure, Newberry has become a de facto carfree climb. That is, for those people who’ve ignored the closure signs and were willing to ride around the jersey barriers.



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Now things are about to change. The County announced this week that construction is set to begin soon and the road will be fixed and reopened by spring 2019.

According to the County, construction crews will start staging on the site in mid-January and will work Monday through Thursday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Construction should be done by the end of March and final paving is planned for May.

During the construction period, it would not be wise to attempt to ride Newberry. While many people have been riding through the closure up until now, with big trucks and workers on the site, we should now treat this like a hard closure. If you want to get up or down from the West Hills, I’d recommend NW McNamee Rd to the north and Germantown (which I never ride, and if I did it would only be on the weekends when there’s low traffic), Springville (very steep and unpaved!), or Saltzman (unpaved) to the north.

For more details, check the check the project website.

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

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PBOT unveils new designs, online survey for SW Multnomah/Garden Home project

Latest design from PBOT. Note the prohibition on driving via 69th on the right.

Unfortunately we posted our story on the City of Portland’s SW Multnomah/Garden Home intersection project one day too soon.

This morning PBOT sent over the latest concept designs, which show significant changes from the designs many of you are discussing over on yesterday’s post. They’ve also just released an online survey to formally capture feedback.

The two basic concepts we shared yesterday are still the ones under consideration; either a roundabout or a signalized configuration. But check out these new drawings before making up your mind. PBOT has supplied aerial and on-the-street views of each one.

And make sure to note that both designs show PBOT’s proposal would close off the southern section of SW 69th while maintaining access only for people on bikes and foot.

Roundabout:

Signalized:

Now, after you’ve read through the comments on yesterday’s post and thought about this for a bit, head on over to the online survey and tell PBOT what you think.



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

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City relents to neighborhood concerns, will stripe unprotected bike lanes on N Denver




*PBOT conceptual drawings from September showing the original design (on the left) and the modified one created after hearing concerns from some residents.

A project that initially proposed parking-protected bike lanes on North Denver Avenue will now get just standard bike lanes.

“The project can be delivered with standard bike lanes and curb-tight parking while leaving open the potential to switch to parking-protected bike lanes as part of a future project.
— Geren Shankar, PBOT project manager

That’s the decision made by the Portland Bureau of Transportation after tallying public feedback and responding to concerns in the neighborhood about how the bike lanes would impact their lives.

Back in March we shared the original plans for Denver between Lombard and Watts. The idea was use a planned repaving project as an opportunity to create an “all ages and abilities” bikeway that would connect the Arbor Lodge and Kenton neighborhoods. Instead of a bike lane next to moving traffic and parked cars, the proposal would have built curbside bike lanes protected from drivers by a parking lane (similar to what we have on Rosa Parks) The newly designed street would be much safer for all users and it was scheduled to be constructed this past summer.

But when the project got to the Kenton Neighborhood Association, PBOT received pushback and opted to delay the project a full year. In a meeting back in September to allay concerns, garner feedback, and consider other options, PBOT Project Manager Geren Shankar characterized the neighborhood opposition as: confusion over where to place trash cans, how the new design might impact driving, and complaints about inadequate public outreach. At that time the plan was to take a survey and get as much feedback as possible then tally the responses and make a decision.



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The choices were: A parking-protected bike lane or a standard bike lane. In a letter being sent to Kenton neighbors today, PBOT says their choice is a standard bike lane.

Here’s the text of the letter from PBOT’s Shankar:

“We initially proposed repaving N Denver Avenue this past summer with protected bike lanes, transit stops and crossing medians. We received positive support, but also heard some concerns about the proposed design and placed the project on hold to continue our outreach with the neighborhood. Outreach included a direct mailing, an online survey, a presentation at a meeting of the Kenton Neighborhood Association, and a public open house held on October 2, 2018.

While most of the Portlanders providing feedback on the project supported the original design, many residents still had concerns. In addition to reviewing the concerns about the design, we evaluated the possibility of signalized crossing improvements along the corridor but found that they were not warranted at this time. Our project team has determined that the project can be delivered with standard bike lanes and curb-tight parking while leaving open the potential to switch to parking-protected bike lanes as part of a future project. In the interest of moving forward with the needed paving maintenance in the summer of 2019, this is what we will do.”

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

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Business owner uses attorney and electeds to fight TriMet’s Gideon Overcrossing project

Early TriMet rendering of Gideon Overcrossing.

Neighborhood transportation advocates in southeast Portland are sounding the alarm about TriMet’s Gideon Overcrossing project. They say opposition from an adjacent business owner could shelve the project.

“It’s unfair to me. What it’s doing to my business would require me to move.”
— Michael Koerner, Koerner Camera

Michael Koerner, owner of Koerner Camera Systems on SE 14th and Taggart, hired a lawyer who sent a letter (PDF) to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration on December 14th. The letter includes sharp criticisms of TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, questions the need of a bridge, and asks the FTA to require a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before moving forward.

As we reported last June, this project would build a new crossing of the Orange Line MAX light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks near the busy Clinton Street transit station. It would be a much-needed replacement to the crossing at SE 16th and Brooklyn Street TriMet demolished during Orange Line construction in 2013.

The new bridge would go from SE 13th on the south side of the tracks to SE 14th on the north. In March 2018, TriMet said that location was “an attractive option for commuters” due to its proximity to the existing light rail station at Clinton St (which would be about 300 feet west of the new overcrossing). The location was also chosen to, “best link to the Powell pedestrian crossing serving the Brooklyn neighborhood to Hosford-Abernethy.”

TriMet plan drawing. (Koerner’s business is where the words “North Elevator Structure” appear in the upper middle).

TriMet began the design process this past spring and the new, $14 million bridge was supposed to start construction in the next few months.

14th Avenue looking south where the new elevator and stairway would land with Koerner Camera on the left.

But Michael Koerner doesn’t want the bridge on 14th Avenue. His camera rental business that supplies high-end equipment to the film and TV industry is directly adjacent to the tracks. As designed, the bridge needs to use existing public right-of-way currently used to access Koerner’s parking lot and loading zone. Koerner said his concerns about safety and business impacts have fallen on deaf ears at TriMet so he hired a land-use attorney to fight the project.

In a phone call this morning Koerner told me he doesn’t oppose the bridge project, he just doesn’t want it on 14th Avenue. In addition to his concerns that mixing trucks and forklifts with bicycle riders and walkers would be a safety hazard, Koerner said, “It’s unfair to me. What it’s doing to my business would require me to move.” Koerner isn’t the only business owner opposed to the project. Several others share his concerns and are actively engaged against it.

Koerner’s attorney Jennifer Bragar from the law firm of Tomasi Salyer Martin, wrote a letter on December 14th to the regional head of the FTA. In the letter she requests a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and poke holes in the plan and the integrity of TriMet and the City of Portland.

“I am respectfully asking that you consider moving the bridge to a different location either up further on 16th St. or even consider 8th or 9th instead.”
— Rob Nosse, Oregon House Representative

Koerner also has support from Oregon House Representative Rob Nosse. In a letter dated December 10th and addressed to PBOT Director Chris Warner and TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey, Nosse wrote that after talking with Koerner and other business owners on 14th Street, “I am respectfully asking that you consider moving the bridge to a different location either up further on 16th St. or even consider 8th or 9th instead.”

“I don’t think your planning is so far along that you could not consider an alternative,” Rep. Nosse continued, “And I think this would be an appropriate compromise.” According to Rep. Nosse, the planned alignment would make it difficult for these businesses to operate forklifts and access loading zones with large trucks. The alignment would also, “Potentially harm these very commuters your agencies are attempting to serve,” Rep. Nosse wrote.

“TriMet and the City of Portland have determined that the project cannot be built on another street.”
— Roberta Altstadt, TriMet

In her letter, Koerner’s lawyer Jennifer Bragar says an SEIS done in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) review process is required because TriMet and PBOT want to locate the new bridge at a different location than the old one. “The FEIS did not suggest that the bridge would be replaced in a location that differed from its original siting at SE 16th and Gideon,” Bragar wrote, “nor that it would accommodate bicyclists as well as pedestrians.” She adds that while biking and walking projects are typically excluded from the EIS process, one is still needed because, “The proposed bridge will significantly affect the quality of the human environment by altering the physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment.”

Bragar also claims her client hasn’t been given adequate time to comment on the proposal. Furthermore, Bragar questions the necessity of the bridge altogether. Even if one is needed, she says her client wants it to go somewhere else. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

“… both Tri-Met and PBOT have failed to provide evidence that the proposal is actually necessary for pedestrians or bicyclists. Neither agency has provided evidence of accidents or injury to either pedestrians or bicyclists at this railroad crossing nor have they provided evidence that the proposed bridge will be useful to bicyclists or pedestrians. If Tri-Met and PBOT believe a pedestrian and bicycle bridge is necessary, the Gideon Overcrossing should be placed in a location that will result in greatest utility for pedestrians and bicyclists – specifically in the location of the previous access bridge at SE 16th and Gideon which supports connectivity between neighborhoods, or other alternative locations that have yet to be examined in an EIS.”

(Graphic: TriMet)

While Rep. Nosse and Michael Koerner want the bridge moved to a different location (and Koerner said he’s also got support from Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and several other business owners in the area), TriMet Communications Manager Roberta Altstadt told us this morning that’s just not possible. “TriMet and the City of Portland have determined that the project cannot be built on another street,” she wrote in an email. “However, the city and TriMet continue to look for ways to minimized or mitigate the impact on local businesses.”

Altstadt said the bridge can’t be built at any other location because the FTA funding is tied directly to safety issues at SE 11th and 12th, where long UPRR delays cause some people to cross unsafely and even to walk across stopped train cars. According to Altstadt, FTA guidelines stipulate that a bike/walk bridge must be located close enough to the original location of the safety hazard to “provide a convenient alternative.”Placing the bridge at 16th would not address the safety issue that is the basis for the FTA funding. The bridge at 16th would simply be too far away and require too much out of direction travel – particularly for pedestrians — to be a viable alternative,” Altstadt explained.

Altstadt says TriMet and the City of Portland analyzed several other locations and for various reasons, none of them could accommodate a bridge because there was either not enough room for the structure or the project would require condemnation of entire businesses.

While TriMet sounds resolute, neighborhood advocates are worried Koerner’s opposition could put the entire project in jeopardy.

Brooklyn resident John Karabaic posted his concerns on a local email list as a “call to action” to “save the bridge”. “There is a vocal business owner on the north side of the bridge who stands to lose about 11 feet of driveway space that’s currently in the public right-of-way,” Karabaic wrote, “While that may be inconvenient for them, I believe the benefits of this location far outweigh the slight inconvenience this business owner would incur.”

Karabaic said putting the bridge further east at 16th would make it about one-quarter mile from the 11th/12th crossing. “This is a long distance for someone who has trouble walking or is in a wheelchair,” he wrote. “It could make the difference in missing a bus or train.” Karabaic feels the proposed alignment is ideal because it lines up with an existing crossing of SE Powell Blvd used by a lot of people on bikes and on foot.

Drawing from Koerner’s attorney showing layout of proposed bridge and access to his property.

As for safety concerns, Karabaic says that claim is unfounded. He cites the nearby Rhine-Lafayette overpass and streets in the Central Eastside Industrial District — both of which interface with industrial businesses while posing no major safety hazards (at least statistically and in terms of popularity) to vulnerable road users.

Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood District (HAND) Chair Christopher Eykamp says he agrees with some of Koerner’s safety concerns. In an email this morning, Eykamp told us he’s drafting a letter from HAND to TriMet asking for help to mitigate potential hazards. “The truth is that no one really knows how much of a [safety] factor this will be in practice, and it is possible that if the danger is real, businesses will have to change their practices accordingly.”

Eykamp feels the well-documented safety costs of not building the bridge should be weighed against the potential costs to businesses: “And I really don’t see much of a contest.”

For his part, Koerner said he’s already invested about $30,000 fighting the project. His anger with TriMet over how the process has unfolded is palpable. He feels the agency is “ramming this down our throats.” “We’re screaming from the trees and they’re not listening,” he shared on the phone this morning. “They’ve deceived us on more than one occasion and I find this all ridiculous and self-serving. They had no intention of ever working with us.”

Eykamp acknowledges TriMet’s public process and other missteps around the Orange Line project have caused frustration among many in the neighborhood, but given the choices available, he feels the bridge should be built as planned. “I strongly support moving forward with the project, and I believe a majority of the HAND board does as well.”

UPDATE, 12/21: Don’t miss the latest post on this story with response from TriMet and PBOT.

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

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SW Multnomah/Garden Home project is an opportunity for a better bikeway




*Two concepts under consideration by PBOT

Big changes are coming to a crash-prone intersection in Southwest Portland thanks to a $2.1 million project co-sponsored by the transportation departments of Portland and Washington County.

The two agencies will split costs to update the intersection of SW Multnomah Boulevard, Garden Home Road and 69th Avenue. The goal of the project is to reduce crashes, improve sight distance, reduce vehicle delays and improve bicycling and walking conditions.


As you can see in the images, this is a non-standard intersection with tricky curves and turning movements that can be unpredictable because there are no median islands or diverters. A high volume of drivers (about 17,000 cars and trucks enter the intersection daily), lack of a signal, and at-grade parking lots owned by adjacent property owners add to the stress and potential for collisions.

In the ten years between 2006 to 2015 PBOT has recorded 33 crashes at this intersection. One of them was fatal, five of them included a bicycle rider and nearly half involved turning motor vehicles.

“I could save us all a bunch of money and just put up some stop signs.”.
— Eric Wilhelm, local resident

After an initial study into possible fixes, PBOT has come up with two concepts: a roundabout and a complete realignment that would include a traffic signal. Now they’re entering a public outreach phase where they hope to learn more from road users before adopting a final design.

BikePortland reader and SW Portland transportation activist Eric Wilhelm has been following this project closely. He’s eager to make this intersection better because he says it provides a direct and flat connection to about one-third of the area’s bikeway network. But from what he’s learned and seen so far, Eric is unimpressed with the approach. In an email today, Eric wrote that he’s concerned too much of the planning has focused on driving ease and access. “What really troubled me from the start,” he wrote, “is that PBOT seems to be focusing the outreach on how each of the two concepts will affect drivers… The two designs are both flawed by this car-centric approach.”



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*Naomi Fast (@_the_clearing) made this video of the intersection a few days ago.

Eric says at least one person at a recent neighborhood meeting complained about how possible turning restrictions would force them to drive out of their way to get home.

Project Open House

PBOT will host an open house for this project on January 17th. See the BikePortland Calendar for details.

In terms of which of the two designs he feels would work best, Eric says having a signal would make crossing easier. He worries that the roundabout wouldn’t do enough to slow drivers down — especially those headed westbound. The roundabout also looks like it might not have any dedicated space for cycling (for what it’s worth, the signal concept has only unprotected bike lanes shown at this point).

“I could save us all a bunch of money and just put up some stop signs,” Eric shared in jest.

With an entrance to the Fanno Creek Trail just a half-mile away, if we get this intersection right it could create a much-needed link in the sparse southwest Portland bike network.

To help get more people engaged, Eric is leaded the Westside Wet Wonk Ride tomorrow (12/20) at 5:30. Meet at Bar 3 (4444 SW Multnomah) if you’d like to join.

And save the date of January 17th on your calendar. That’s when PBOT will host an official open house for this project. It will be from 6:00 to 8:30 pm at the Garden Home Rec Center (7475 SW Oleson Rd). We’ll need lots of voices to help make this project as good as possible for cycling. Stay tuned for the online survey and if you live in the area watch for PBOT coming to the neighborhood and make sure to bend their ear with your thoughts and feedback.

Check out the official project page to sign up for updates and learn more.

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

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Proposed bill would clarify definition of bike lanes in Oregon

The legal protection doesn’t end where the striping does.

A local lawyer wants to amend an existing state law so that Oregon judges can no longer decide that a bicycle rider’s legal right-of-way disappears in an intersection.

“It is important to affirm and clarify the law so that the bad legal result does not occur again.”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer

It might seem obvious to you and I that people still have to yield to other road users in intersections even though there’s no lane striping; but on two occasions Oregon judges have disagreed. That’s two too many for Portland-based lawyer Ray Thomas.

In a case last fall, a Deschutes County Circuit Court judge in Bend said his reading of existing law gave him “no authority” to support the plaintiff’s claim that bike lanes continue through intersections. And in 2009 a Multnomah County judge made a similar ruling when he determined a bicycle rider had no legal protection in the bike lane because there was no paint in the intersection designating it as one.

Thomas, a well-known bicycle advocate and bike law expert with Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost (a BikePortland supporter), says those decisions are wrong and “out of left field.” Because the legal definition of a bicycle lane can be made by “official signs or or markings,” Thomas wrote in a 2015 article, the markings before and after the intersection are what create the legal presence of the lane.



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“While this lack of legal reasoning has no binding legal authority,” Thomas shared with BikePortland earlier this week, “it is nevertheless important to affirm and clarify the law so that the bad legal result does not occur again.”

To prevent another one of these unfortunate decisions, Thomas has proposed a bill for the 2019 Oregon legislative session that would clarify and strengthen the definition of a bicycle lane. Bicycle lanes in Oregon are defined in ORS 801.155 as, “… part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law.”

Current draft of LC 3354.

The proposed bill would add the following sentence to that definition: “Where the markings of a bicycle lane are interrupted by an intersections, the bicycle lane continues in and through the intersection.”

The bill is currently filed as LC 3354 (“LC” refers to Legislative Counsel, the office that writes bills for legislators) and Oregon House Rep. Rob Nosse has signed on as a sponsor. The bill was drafted with help and support from The Street Trust.

“We hope this law will pass through the legislature and become law before another legal judicial anomaly occurs to deny a bicycle rider their lawful right-of-way in the intersection,” Thomas says.

We hope so too.

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

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The post Proposed bill would clarify definition of bike lanes in Oregon appeared first on BikePortland.org.