In shadow of Oakridge, Westfir deserves a spotlight

Passing riders contemplate a stop for refreshments on the patio of Westfir Lodge.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today Westfir is as quiet as it was 100 years ago. The loudest thing is the roar of water over rocks in the nearby river. But it wasn’t always such a sleepy place.

The 60-miles of bliss known as Aufderheide Scenic Byway begins in Westfir.

Around 300 people call Westfir home today — far less than half the number employed by the Hines Lumber Company at its peak in the 1950s.

I recently spent a few days in Westfir and learned about its history and future through the eyes of a young business owner who wants to make it a destination for cycling and other outdoor pursuits. Often lost in the shadow cast by the legendary mountain biking reputation of its larger sister-city Oakridge, Westfir has a charm all its own. And now, thanks in large part to new owners of the Westfir Lodge and Mountain Market, the former sawmill town offers an excellent base camp to explore the quintessential Oregon landscape right outside its doors.

The place known today as Westfir has sustained human life for hundreds of years. Rich with clean water, healthy soil and vibrant forest life, its valleys and riverbanks were home to native tribes long before white people settled in the early 20th century.

In her wonderful book of poetry and narrative non-fiction, Window to Westfir (2006, Many Names Press), former resident Margarite Tuchardt writes: “There were deer and the soft rustle of bird wing in maple leaves. The valley gave shelter to Indians as they sat chiseling black arrow heads… Steelhead and salmon made their way up the swift currents and over rapids. The forest was carpeted with shite trilliums and sour grass… The is what greeted the first settlers of this magical valley.”





(Click for captions to learn more.)

The town of Westfir didn’t exist until the 1920s when it was built as a home for sawmill employees. It took about twenty years for the lumber economy to finally get rolling. In 1945 Edward Hines bought the mill for $2,000,000 and Westfir hit its stride. Ms. Tuchardt was seven at that time. She lived in a small house along the North Fork of Middle Fork of the Willamette River. In her book, she recalls a “boom time” for the idyllic town with a butcher shop, dance hall, high school, post office, market, and doctor’s office where a benevolent man known as Dr. Varney would do everything from remove tonsils to deliver babies. 750 people lived in Westfir at its peak.



(Old photos of sawmill hanging on the wall of Westfir City Hall.)

Westfir was a classic Oregon timber town: Built with trees, with money made from trees, for people who worked with trees. But when the tree-conomy went away, most of the town did too. During my visit I walked on the old mill site (below). After learning about how immense and busy it once was, it was surreal to see nothing but a few paved roads and footprints of buildings where hundreds of men and women worked and massive industrial machinery once whirred and clanked all hours of the day.

Where the mill once stood.

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(Fantastic roads — paved and unpaved — await.)

I was surprised to find a city hall in Westfir, and pleased to see it adorned with a bicycle.



(Sharon Elrod runs the desk at Westfir City Hall, which is also the town’s museum, library, and video rental store.)

While the sawmill is gone, trees are still the center of Westfir’s economy. Today people don’t cut and process logs; they ride around and over them and they stare at them as they drive, drift, and pedal by.

The Westfir Lodge where I stayed for a few nights last month while I took part in the Sasquatch Duro gravel race, is the same building that housed the office and headquarters of Hines Lumber Company. Westfir is no stranger to cycling enthusiasts. It sits at the base of one of Oregon’s best singletrack runs: the Alpine Trail.

Tracey Sunflower runs the Westfir Lodge and Mountain Market.

Trails are what brought Noah and Tracey Sunflower to Westfir. The Pennsylvania natives and former residents of Anchorage, Alaska bought the lodge last summer and have worked all winter on renovations. They plan to turn it into a destination for outdoor adventure. Just last week Tracey became an official guide with permits to lead hiking, snowshoeing and mountain biking trips in the Willamette National Forest. She’s the first and only guide in the area to have such privileges.

A 29-year-old Pennsylvanian running a lodge in rural Oregon might seem like a stretch; but the more I learned about Tracey and the longer I stayed at her lodge, it all seemed completely natural. Tracey and Noah have been river kayaking guides for many years. Before living in Alaska they spent summers leading river trips in Chile. Years later they settled down and got 9-5 jobs. Noah, 34, worked for a non-profit and Tracey worked at a major hotel where she learned the ropes of the hospitality business.





(Breakfast of organic eggs from nearby hens and sourdough baked in the lodge’s kitchen. Scenes from inside the lodge.)

When they were ready to venture out, Tracey and Noah scoured real estate listings throughout the pacific northwest. Tracey said they’d never even heard of the Oakridge area before a visit last May. “We looked at many other spots; but we kept coming back to this one. It has everything… And all these resources are much closer than they were in Alaska.”

Salt Creek Falls, east of Westfir off Highway 58.

Tracey wants to make Westfir a destination for all types of adventurers. “There are many more things to do here than just mountain biking. People can bring their families. There’s tons of hiking; people don’t realize we have 50 different named trails nearby. We have a yoga studio in town. There are waterfall hikes and overlooks, and in winter there’s skiing and snow-shoeing.” Salt Creek Falls, second largest in Oregon after Multnomah Falls, is just a 30-minute drive away.

Tracey and Noah have been busy renovating the lodge. They’ve also created a cozy market that serves small bites, draft beer, good wine, travel essentials and souvenirs. From the front door of the market you can walk across the street and be on legendary Aufderheide Drive Scenic Byway — a 60-mile, paved riverside road shrouded by a lush tree canopy.

For now, the lodge is the only business in Westfir. I’m not sure how long it will stay that way; but Tracey is. “There’s never going to be even a streetlight here. There’s never going to be a McDonald’s here. The city just wouldn’t let it happen, and there’s no land for it either.”

I highly recommend checking it out while the river and the wind are the loudest sounds in town. When you get to the lodge, tell Tracey and Noah I said hi. WestfirLodge.com.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Abraham Fixes Bikes, King Cycle Group, Inc., Seven Corners Cycles

Three great opportunities in the local bike industry have been listed recently.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Part-time Mechanic/Service Writer – Abraham Fixes Bikes

–> Customer Service Representative – King Cycle Group, Inc

–> Full Time Experienced Bicycle Mechanic – Seven Corners Cycles

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

Be the first to know about new job opportunities by signing up for our daily Job Listings email or by following @BikePortland on Twitter.

These are paid listings. And they work! If you’d like to post a job on the Portland region’s “Best Local Blog” two years running, you can purchase a listing online for just $75. Learn more at our Job Listings page.

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

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Comment of the Week: ‘Distracted walking’ is the ‘all lives matter’ of transportation

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s be too long since we put the spotlight on one of your great comments. Let’s try to do this more often shall we? If you see a great comment, just hit “reply” and write “comment of the week”. If you do that, I can find the best comments in a quick search.

OK, onto the comment…

Last week (or so) we highlighted a noteworthy exchange at Portland city council during a discussion about the bureau of transportation’s vision zero program. As city staff outlined their approach of “shared responsibility” and made it clear that people using cars have to do a better job not running into people outside of cars, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty expressed discomfort. She said some of PBOT’s vision zero work is making roads “confusing” and is “making people lose their minds”. Hardesty also instructed PBOT to spend more time on people who walk around with their heads buried in their phones, saying people who are distracted by electronic devices are a “huge issue.”

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Reader Glenn II wasn’t having it. Here’s his response to Hardesty’s comments:

“Look, I feel disgust and pity for people glued to their phones as much as anybody, but ‘distracted walking’ is not a thing as far as I’m concerned. ‘Distracted walking’ is the ‘all lives matter’ of transportation — true in principle, but too often twisted around and used by members of an entrenched and powerful majority, who are responsible for most of the problems — to minimize and shut down the concerns of the minority.

Distracted walking collision: “Oh excuse me,” and get on with your day.

Distracted driving collision: “She is survived by her husband Chad and sons Chad Jr. and Jeremy. Services will be at Johnson’s Funeral Home.”

So no, f— me very much, I’m not falling for that one.”

We have yet to hear a clarification or follow-up from Commissioner Hardesty.

Thank you Glenn and everyone else who chimed in here and on Facebook. As Portland struggles to stem a spate of serious and fatal crashes, how we talk about this problem matters. Whether you agree or disagree with Commissioner Hardesty, her comment spurred an important dialogue that should make our policies and actions more effective.

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

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Friends and family join road safety activists to remember Lou Battams

They re-traced the final steps of Lou Battams on Southeast Foster Road.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Louanna “Lou” Battams life touched many people in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood of southeast Portland. The 82-year-old was remembered at a memorial last night as a creative, smart, and selfless person who devoted her later years to helping vulnerable people.

“This event has had a profound impact on our community. It’s a tremendous loss.”
— Matchu Williams, Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Assoc.

Battams herself was described by neighbors as a strong and capable woman who did projects around her home and garden that inspired people half her age. After decades as a friend to many and a pillar of strength in the community, it was her own vulnerability as a person trying to cross Southeast Foster Road on foot that led to her death. There are no marked crosswalks or signals at the intersection with 71st Avenue where she was struck on June 13th and it’s unclear what happened prior to the collision.

About two dozen people gathered at that intersection last night to remember Battams. Among the crowd were her son, next-door neighbors, people who knew her from her work with the local neighborhood association, and one little girl who told me Lou was her friend.




One of Battams’ next-door neighbors told me she would bring cookies to kids on her street. Another said she walked on and around Foster often to pick up a newspaper or to get to church where she volunteered preparing meals for the homeless. A skilled painter later in life, I learned that Battams had a geology degree and used to fly in helicopters over Mt. St. Helens to study its volcanic activity.

Matchu Williams is co-chair of the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association and would see Battams at neighborhood events. He’s also a leader with BikeLoudPDX, the group that helped organize the event. “Our city has done a lot to make Foster Road safer,” he said into a microphone barely audible over the roar of passing car engines. “But they can do more to protect our community members so we never have to experience loss like this ever again.”

“This event has had a profound impact on our community,” Williams continued. “It’s a tremendous loss.”

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The group took a moment to reflect on how safe it was to cross in a big group, and how it should feel that way for everyone.

BikeLoudPDX volunteer and Co-Chair of Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association Matchu Williams addresses the crowd and assembled media.

By a cruel irony, Battams was killed just one block away and just 10 hours after the Portland Bureau of Transportation cut the ribbon on Foster’s recent safety updates. But in keeping with their promise to respond quickly to fatal crashes, PBOT has already made several changes to the intersection.

Sarah Iannarone said Battams cared deeply about vulnerable people.

The speed limit on Foster (at least this section) has been reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. PBOT has installed plastic wands at the corners to prevent drivers from using the bike lane to get around stopped traffic. They’ve also closed the easternmost crosswalk to discourage people from using it (neither crossing at 71st is marked). I’ve reached out to PBOT confirm these changes and find out if anything else is in the works.*

Battams is one of 27 people who have died on Portland roads this year. That number is alarmingly higher than previous years at this same date. In 2018 we had 34 deaths total and 17 by the end of June.

I can only imagine how Battams would have reacted upon learning an innocent person had been killed simply trying to cross the street so close to her home. Given what I learned yesterday, she would have offered to help any way she could. We owe it to her — and everyone else impacted by these tragic, unnecessary deaths — to do the same.

*UPDATE, 4:13pm: PBOT Communications Director John Brady shared a clarification:

“The ‘No Crossing’ signs were not put in because of the fatality. Rather their installation was a condition that had been placed on nearby development. They just happened to be installed right after the fatality. Secondly, the speed limit was reduced to 25 for the construction; we are keeping it at 25 mph while we apply to ODOT for a permanent reduction to 25 mph.”

UPDATE, 6/28 at 8:03 am: PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has left a comment below that you should not miss:

“Hey Ted [a commenter she’s replying to] and Bikeportland, I am painfully aware of every death on our streets and was heartbroken to learn of Ms. Battam’s death just hours after we celebrated the improvements to Foster. With my support and direction PBOT is doing more than ever to respond to and prevent fatalities. I don’t need emails to raise my awareness or accelerate this work. I need support from my colleagues and their bureaus on our Vision Zero work, I need the legislature to give us the ability to reduce speeds on more of our roads, I need ODOT to improve their roads, or better yet adopt Vision Zero statewide, and I hate to say it but we need more enforcement. PBOT cannot engineer or educate fatalities away entirely (and it’s going to take a long time to correct every shortcoming on our roads). Sadly, there are too many people who will continue to break the law and endanger people’s lives regardless of what we do. We will be installing more speed and red light cameras around the city which dramatically reduce specific behavior but don’t help with distracted or impaired drivers or other rampant and asinine behavior we see on the roads. We have half the number of officers in the Traffic Enforcement Division that we had 10 years ago despite significant population growth and increase in traffic. More than four times the number of people died in traffic fatalities than were murdered in the City of Portland last year. We are not putting our police resources where they are most needed.”

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

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PBOT confirms Biketown will see big expansion and e-bikes in 2020

Oh the places they could go with an electric motor.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In news that won’t surprise anyone that’s been following along closely, the Portland Bureau of Transportation announced at a city council meeting yesterday that their planned bike share expansion will include electric bikes and cover more parts of the city.

“We’re really excited about the electric bicycle piece of this… We think it will really make a difference.”
— Steve Hoyt-McBeth, Biketown program manager

The first official confirmation of the upgrade came from Biketown Program Manager Steve Hoyt-McBeth. He was at council to ask commissioners for an extension of the city’s current contract with Motivate, Inc., the company that operates the Biketown bike share system.

During his short presentation, Hoyt-McBeth said the city plans to release a request for proposals this summer that would, “Expand Biketown into new neighborhoods, and hopefully include the entire city and that will include electric bicycles.” The new system isn’t expected to be up and running until spring of next year (2020).

Electric motors on bike share bikes available in every corner of the city would be a game-changer. Housing prices have forced many Portlanders to live further than ever from jobs and other destinations and access to a relatively cheap, reliable, fun, efficient (no traffic!), bicycle could vastly increase the viability and the appeal of bicycling. A survey taken last year revealed that more than a third of Biketown members said they’d use the service more often if the e-bikes were available.

The ultimate size and geographic scope of the upcoming bike share expansion will depend in part on what vendors offer in response to the RFP. But Hoyt-McBeth made it clear in his language yesterday that expanding the system to places like east and southwest Portland with e-bikes is a foregone conclusion. “We’re really excited about the electric bicycle piece of this,” Hoyt-McBeth said, “We think it will really make a difference — not only for people in general in making biking and bike share more attractive to more people — but also from an equity perspective as we move this system out into east Portland and other areas… hopefully into southwest as well. And with the hills, having an electric bike will really make biking more viable for people.”

If you haven’t noticed, e-bikes are beginning to proliferate on Portland’s bikeways. And if you’ve ridden one, you know first-hand how life-changing they can be. Having power-assist means people can ride further, faster, and carry more stuff without getting as tired. It opens up the idea of cycling to a much broader swath of the population and it allows existing riders to ride even more.

Portlanders got a taste of electric bike share last summer when Jump and Lime offered motorized bikes during a closure of the Portland Aerial Tram.

Last fall, Portland hosted a bike share conference where Ryan Rzepecki, the founder and CEO of Jump, a leading electric bike share company, confirmed to me he was already in talks with PBOT. In his keynote speech, Rzepecki sang the praises of “light electric mobility” and said, “Regular pedal bikes never showed the type of growth and traction as you’re seeing with electric vehicles. The amount of people interested in riding e-bikes or e-scooters is much higher than folks riding a pedal bike because this is mostly about transportation and not recreation or exercise. It’s about getting where you’re going quickly, conveniently, without breaking a sweat. And electric mobility offers that in a way that pedal bikes don’t.”

Biketown’s current system has 1,002 (relatively heavy and slow) non-electric bikes strewn across 147 stations. The city’s contract with Motivate is set to expire on August 1st, 2019. Yesterday PBOT asked council to support an ordinance (PDF) that would extend the existing contract and allow them to increase the value of it by $3.4 million so they could continue to pay Motivate through April 30th, 2020. As per city council demands when the bike share program was established in 2013, Biketown doesn’t use any public funds (beyond Hoyt-McBeth’s staff time, which is paid via general transportation revenue that comes from gas taxes, parking revenue, and so on). PBOT pays Motivate for operation of the system solely through user fees and sponsorship revenue from Nike and Kaiser Permanente.

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All commissioners present yesterday were strongly in favor of the ordinance and it passed 4-0 (Mayor Ted Wheeler was absent).

Commissioner Fritz at council yesterday.

The only minor quibble with Biketown came from Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Just as she did when the bike share plan was first passed in 2015, Commissioner Fritz expressed concerns that Biketown users don’t have easy access to city-provided helmets. “Have we made progress on the helmet issue?” she asked Hoyt-McBeth. “We have not made progress on having something available in real-time,” he replied. Hoyt-McBeth explained that a company PBOT was in discussions with to provide helmets at their kiosks went bankrupt and they have yet to see anyone else enter the market. “When we come back with the new RFP,” he added, “That will be an opportunity to see if there are other solutions out there.”

Commissioner Fritz also used the occasion of yesterday’s meeting to remind people that riding bikes and scooters on sidewalks downtown is not allowed. “People say this is the reason we can’t have nice things. If people continue to break the rules then there will be a problem and they will no longer be able to have the nice things of the bikes and the scooters; because it’s all about shared space and safety.”

Lest you think Commissioner Fritz is anything but a fan of Biketown, she offered Hoyt-McBeth congratulations prior to her “yes” vote. She noted there was zero controversy with Biketown and that the program has been a huge success. “I think it’s definitely a good thing that it has become less controversial and has become more of a way of life.”

And by next summer bike share will be an even larger part of our lives.

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

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Memorial planned for Louanna Battams on SE Foster Road tonight

BikeLoudPDX and the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood will co-host a memorial for Louanna Battams this afternoon (6/26) at 4:30 pm.

Ms. Battams (she was known as “Lou”) was the 82-year-old woman struck and killed by someone driving a car as she attempted to cross SE Foster Road at 71st on June 13th. The tragic death happened just hours after the City of Portland cut the ribbon on the long-awaited streetscape project that’s intended to improve the safety of the street.

According to people who knew Battams, she lived just a few blocks from where she was hit and, “Was a pillar in the Lents community, loved pottery, and is survived by her son.” Battams was formerly active in the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association

Coverage from The Oregonian the day after Battam’s death.

At the event tonight friends will share stories of Lou, there will be a moment of silence, and then attendees will walk across Foster as a group across SE 71st.

Here’s more from a statement released by event organizers where they say Foster Road updates are already outdated and recommend more changes to make the street safer:

“The Mt. Scott-Arleta Community is hosting a memorial to highlight the ongoing crisis of traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Portland streets, with the support of BikeLoudPDX. Everyone is encouraged to bring flowers and stories of Lou to share.

PBOT redesigned and invested $9 million to improve the safety on Foster starting back in 2007. This has included wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, protected turn lanes at intersections, and rapid-flashing walk signals. We applaud PBOT for working diligently over the last decade to see these improvements through; however, the standards we use to design safer streets for people of all modes has changed since the original design.

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The 2019 Vision Zero toolkit includes a “rapid-response” measure to determine immediate safety improvements that can be made following fatal crashes. Examples include the bump-outs and
Leading-Pedestrian Interval (LPI) at NE Broadway and Grand after the death of Lori Woodard, and lowering speed limits along Marine Drive after a fatal crash by Mayoral emergency ordinance.

We recommend that Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, Mayor Ted Wheeler, and PBOT Director Chris Warner perform the following as part of the “rapid-response” safety improvements:

– Install “protected corners” made of temporary materials at unmarked crossings along Foster and at the marked intersection of 72nd Ave

– Add marked crossings every 200-300 feet, as outlined in the 1998 Portland Pedestrian Guidelines for Pedestrian Districts

– Add speed-reader boards to alert drivers of them going faster than the new 25 mile-per-hour speed limit along Foster.

– Install bike lane stencils in the bike lane at each intersection to help prevent people driving from using the bike lane as a turn lane, thereby putting pedestrians at risk.

The memorial event begins at 4:30 pm this afternoon (6/26). More details on the BikePortland Calendar.

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

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Car passenger attempts knife attack on man biking in rural Washington County

Photo from bike-mounted camera shows car passenger’s attempted assault.
(Photos: Hank Bosak via Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost)

We need your help to find suspects of an attempted assault and dangerous pass in Washington County that happened this past Saturday (6/22).

Incident happened just west of Hillsboro.

Hillsboro resident Hank Bosak was riding on NW Hornecker Road at around 2:00 pm on Saturday when the driver of a black or dark blue sedan passed him very closely. When Bosak returned home and watched video taken via his on-board cameras, he was shocked to see that there was a knife in the outstretched arm of the car’s passenger.

Bosak initially intended to file a citizen citation (using the procedure outlined in Oregon law), but when he saw the knife he immediately got a lawyer and contacted the sheriff’s office.

According to Ray Thomas with the Portland-based law firm Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost*, this is the second time Bosak has had a dangerous run-in with a driver in rural Washington County. In 2004 (in a case that Thomas also worked on) he was the victim of a hit-and-run on nearby NW Susbauer Road that left him with multiple fractures and internal injuries. Bosak recently mounted front and rear GoPro video cameras on his bike so he’d have more evidence if/when he ever found himself in a similar situation. Unfortunately that time came on Saturday.

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A clear shot of the license plate (560 BLS), but the car is unregistered.

Thomas said Bosak was riding on Hornecker Road when he checked his handlebar mirror and saw a driver move his car toward him as he rode on the fog line. “The car passed Bosak at what seemed as close as a foot to him at about 45 mph,” Thomas shared with us via email today. “Hank yelled but the car occupants kept going and disappeared in the distance.”

Bosak’s bike.

Thomas says the video Bosak downloaded when he got home clearly shows a man lean out of the car’s window with a large knife in his hand in a position to stab him. After he called Thomas for legal advice, he also filed a formal criminal complaint with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. The case has been assigned to Deputy Kenneth Coon (no relation to TCN&F law firm) with case number 50-191740742. Thomas says Deputy Coon ran the plate number from the video and learned that the car had been sold and the new owner had not yet registered it with DMV (which is against the law).

Since the car can’t be traced to a current owner or address, at this point all we have are the images and video from Bosak’s GoPro, the license plate number, and the make/model of the vehicle. “It is important that the images be circulated and an identification of the young men involved before they succeed in hurting someone,” Thomas says.

If you’ve seen this car and/or have any information about the driver or passenger — whether related to Bosak’s case or not — please call Deputy Coon at (503) 846-2700 and refer to case number 50-191740742.

*DISCLAIMER: Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost is a financial supporter of BikePortland.

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

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The Monday Roundup: E-bike rebates, Major Taylor in the spotlight, a very long walk, and more

This week’s Monday Roundup is brought to you by Wheelhouse Lofts. Just steps away from the Springwater Corridor, you can live in a place that welcomes you and your bike with open arms.

Here are the most notable items we came across in the past week…

LPIs FTW: Seattle’s DOT has announced that leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs), which give crosswalk users get a head-start into an intersection, are now the preferred treatment whenever a signal is upgraded, maintained, or installed.

E-bike rebates: The province of British Columbia in Canada has a policy that Oregon should have passed this session: People can get an $850 rebate toward the purchase of a new electric bicycle when they scrap their toxic, gas-powered cars.

Ped-E-cabs: People who operate pedicabs hope the recently passed e-bike legislation in New York City gives them a chance to lift the existing ban on motors on their large, people-carrying vehicles.

Our road safety crisis: Streetsblog crunched the 2018 traffic fatality numbers and they paint a devastating picture of inequity: Biking and walking deaths are up; but fewer people inside cars were killed.

I-5 project is a boondoggle: OSPIRG, an environmental group, released their annual report on highway boondoggles and of course the I-5 Rose Quarter freeway expansion project made it on the list.

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Major Taylor gets his due: NPR’s venerable Fresh Air interview show featured author Michael Kranish who has written a new book on the race barrier-breaking-sports-superstar-cyclist Major Taylor.

Grand Tour on an e-bike: As electrified bicycles creep ever closer into mainstream acceptance, organizers offered an e-bike race on the same course as the legendary Giro d’Italia.

E-bike study: Recent research on people who switched to e-bikes from driving/transit or standard bikes revealed (among other things) that because they take longer trips on average, e-bikes users get the same net physical benefits as non-e-bike riders.

Manhattanites on bikes: An observational study of people riding bikes in Manhattan found that cell phone use while cycling has shot up in recent years.

City-killers: The reliable George Monbiot had me with his lede: “What is the best way of wrecking a city? Pour cars into it.”

Take a (looong) walk: The mind-boggling Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Race requires participants to walk around one block in Queens, New York 5,649 times. It’s like the Ladds 500 on steroids, times a thousand.

Dream a little dream: Check out these inspiring and lovely photos of the best bike infrastructure in the world that are part of the Bicycle Architecture Biennale competition being held in Amsterdam

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

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Bicycle rider dies in collision on SE Flavel

Looking eastbound on Flavel near 78th.

A man riding a bicycle was killed last night. Police say the man was involved in a collision with someone driving a sedan on SE Flavel near 78th.

Not many details are known at this point. Below is the police statement:

On Sunday, June 23, 2019, at 3:32 a.m., East Precinct officers responded to the area of Southeast Flavel Street and Southeast 79th Avenue on a report of a person injured in a crash involving a sedan. Portland Fire medics arrived and determined the injured adult male was deceased at the scene.

Preliminary information indicates the male was riding a bicycle and was struck by the sedan. The driver of the sedan remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team is responding to assume the investigation.

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Southeast Flavel Street is closed from 77-80th Avenues and is expected to remain so for several hours while the investigators conduct the investigation.

If anyone has information about this incident, please call the non-emergency dispatch at (503) 823-3333.

After the deceased is identified and next of kin are notified, his identity will be released.

This is the second fatality of a bicycle rider in 2019.

I’ll post updates as I find out more.

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

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Climate rally shuts down SW 4th Avenue, includes call to end I-5 freeway expansion project




(Photos provided by Sunrise PDX)

Hundreds of concerned Portlanders shut down SW 4th Avenue outside City Hall today to raise awareness of climate change.

Led by Extinction Rebellion and Sunrise PDX (the Portland chapter of the national Sunrise Movement), activists called on Mayor Ted Wheeler to declare a citywide climate emergency.

In addition to a creative and colorful rally that took over the street, activists staged a sit-in in Wheeler’s office.

As we reported when Sunrise volunteers showed up at a Metro transportation funding hearing last month, the inclusion of the I-5 expansion project at today’s rally is just the latest evolution in the ever-closer integration between transportation reform activism and the rising climate change movement.

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Here’s the statement released by Sunrise PDX a few minutes ago:

It is far past time for words without meaningful action. We are tired of hearing about “environmental protection” in the abstract, while new projects are being built to facilitate the continued expansion of fossil fuel usage. The time is now to act boldly; to break cleanly from the status quo; to take the political risks necessary to secure the future of our planet and its inhabitants. To Mayor Wheeler and the City of Portland, we ask:

What is your plan?

We stand in opposition to the local expansion of fossil-fuel infrastructure and call on our city officials to do the same.
Today, we sat in Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office in Portland, Oregon to demand that his administration:

1. Declare a climate emergency in the City of Portland.

2. Stop the current expansion of the Zenith Energy crude oil export terminal and develop a plan to shut it down entirely.

3. Prevent the proposed expansion of the I-5 freeway and any future freeway expansion projects within the City of Portland.

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

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