PBOT gets council support for Vision Zero, except from Commissioner Hardesty

Cover of PBOT’s Vision Zero 2-Year Update.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is making steady progress on their march toward safer streets. They’ve queued up an impressive slate of capital projects, worked the legislature to gain authority for speed limits and enforcement cameras, and have passed important plans with the policy backbone that enables them to do things like remove auto parking from corners (a.k.a. “intersection daylighting”), install crossing treatments in more places, and so on.

Last week PBOT brought their annual Vision Zero 2-Year Update (PDF) to city council. They don’t have to get council’s official blessing for reports like this, but PBOT often takes this step to burnish council relationships, lay political groundwork for funding requests, and get explicit support for what might be controversial Vision Zero-related moves down the road.

Things like this usually get unanimous support because PBOT doesn’t bring half-baked ideas to council and they brief each commissioner beforehand to make sure they are up-to-speed with the issues and information. So it was a big surprise when Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty voted no.

“…When every other street has a different speed limit, you’re not changing behavior, you’re making people lose their minds because they don’t know how to legally operate on the street.”
— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

Here’s what happened…

City council passed a commitment to Vision Zero in 2015. By the end of 2017 they’d passed an “Action Plan” aimed at achieving it, and by spring of that year Vision Zero had become the bureau’s chief organizing principle.

Last Thursday’s presentation to council was expected to be non-controversial. PBOT Director Chris Warner and his Active Transportation and Safety Division Manager Catherine Ciarlo updated commissioners on planned capital projects (they have eight projects on major streets planned to be completed by 2020), new policy approaches, and near-term actions they’re taking to improve road safety (including the left-turn calming initiative we reported on earlier today).

“I’m very disappointed to hear your concerns with this report. If those are your takeaways — which are virtually unfounded — I don’t think my bureau has done a good enough job briefing you on this program.”
— Commissioner Chloe Eudaly

In one of his first major council appearances since being named PBOT director less than a month ago, Chris Warner spent some of his time explaining why the bureau now erects electronic signs for two weeks at the location where someone was killed in traffic. It’s part of a “culture of shared responsibility,” which is one of PBOT’s Vision Zero priorities. “Sometimes there will be a fatality and a few hours later everything will be cleaned up and people won’t really know what happened,” Warner explained. “So we really want to raise the focus and awareness for Portlanders to know that was a dangerous spot, that someone died there, and for them to really reflect on how they’re driving.”

When cautioned by Commissioner Nick Fish about promising the public such a lofty goal as zero deaths, Warner was unfazed. “Unless we have that goal I don’t think our job is ever complete. And I don’t think we can stop doing what we can to make sure there are no deaths or injuries on our streets,” he said.

Sitting alongside Warner, Ciarlo spoke about PBOT’s commitment to the “Safe Systems” approach. “If Vision Zero is the performance measure, then Safe Systems is the approach that will get us there,” she explained. Ciarlo shared a slide (below) outlining the basic tenets of the approach, which call for (among other things) city staff to be proactive, instead of reactive to problems. It also says road designers and policymakers — not just users of the system — share responsibility for safety outcomes.

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PBOT slide outlines basic tenets of Safe Systems approach.

When it came time to vote and comment on the report, Commissioner Amanda Fritz had effusive praise for Commissioner Eudaly and the Vision Zero program in general. She urged PBOT to move even more quickly in their effort to remove parking at corners and offered tips on how to fund the work. Commissioner Nick Fish also strongly supported it, saying “This is a fine piece of work and I’m proud to support it.” (Mayor Ted Wheeler was absent.)

Commissioner Hardesty at the 6/13 meeting.

Then there was Commissioner Hardesty. As we reported yesterday, she had expressed concerns early in the presentation about the “big issue” of people who walk while using their phones. Turns out that wasn’t her only concern.

Hardesty said in her comments before her vote, “I think it’s a good vision. I just think it could be a better vision.” “It looks like the responsibility we’re putting is primarily on the drivers of automobiles as compared to us taking responsibility for the roads we haven’t built, the sidewalks we haven’t built, the lighting we haven’t put in,” she added. “There are reasons why there are a lot more crashes in east Portland. The primary reason is there’s been a lack of investment in east Portland.”

Hardesty’s comments touched on several issues she’s uncomfortable about.

Hardesty called out PBOT’s speed limit reduction efforts – not because she wants people to drive faster, but because she feels they’ve created a patchwork of different speed limits that make it too hard to follow the law. “You could be going a couple of blocks, and it’s [the speed limit is] up another 10 miles, then you turn to the left and it’s down 20 more miles [an hour], then you turn to the right and it’s up another 10 miles [an hour]. It’s very confusing if your goal is to change behavior, when every other street has a different speed limit,” Hardesty said. “You can imagine how frustrating it is for people who live in the community who are trying to do the right thing and yet there’s no commonality or consistency from one major arterial to the next. I just don’t think that’s a good way to change behavior. You’re not changing behavior, you’re making people lose their minds because they don’t know how to legally operate on the street.”

PBOT’s Ciarlo explained that since the City of Portland doesn’t have control over the speed limit on all streets (ODOT does), they’ve had to go “section by section”.

Then Hardesty said she believes PBOT is focused too much on individual behaviors when the system itself isn’t a level playing field. “I continue to have the concern that we are over-criminalizing one segment of our community and using them as the reason why people are dying rather than the poor conditions of our roads. The lack of lighting, the lack of sidewalks in many places. I think it all works together.”

PBOT slide on enforcement cameras.

Earlier in the meeting there was a discussion about speed reader boards (signs that show speed limit compared to actual driving speed) and automated enforcement cameras. Hardesty expressed discomfort with cameras due to privacy and racial concerns. Despite stats presented by PBOT that show a clear reduction in speeding in locations where cameras have been installed, Hardesty seems to prefer reader boards which don’t have a built-in enforcement and citation mechanism (“90% of people look down and check their speeds when they pass those reader boards,” she said). Hardesty pressed PBOT to share demographic data from the speed and red light camera citations. That data isn’t currently collected and PBOT said it would be challenging to determine people’s race based on the photos taken by the system — not to mention the potential pitfalls of having a staff person make racial determinations based on appearance.

Eudaly said she likes the reader boards too and would welcome more demographic data, but she defended the enforcement cameras as an important tool. “I’m not so interested in being punitive as I am in changing behavior. However, because there’s such inadequate enforcement on the street… If there’s no ultimate consequence I think we lose that effect over time.”

In the end, Hardesty remained skeptical and the presentation didn’t allay her concerns. “I guess until I know whether or not we’re penalizing folks, and whether we’re still using speed readers or whether we’re actually going to start giving people tickets, and what that process will be, I will vote no.”

“I’m very disappointed to hear your concerns with this report,” Eudaly replied. “If those are your takeaways — which are virtually unfounded — I don’t think my bureau has done a good enough job briefing you on this program.” (Note that this tension between Hardesty and Eudaly around enforcement is not new.)

Yesterday I asked Eudaly’s Chief of Staff Marshall Runkell if the two commissioners had spoken since that exchange. He said they’re trying to set up a meeting but haven’t had a chance to debrief in person. “Commissioner Eudaly is sympathetic with Commissioner Hardesty’s concerns about over-policing low-income neighborhoods and the surveillance state, but she did a good job of explaining why PBOT’s approach allayed her concerns from the dais during the hearing.” (I reached out to Hardesty’s office as well but the commissioner and her chief of staff are out until next week.)

While PBOT’s Vision Zero Report and 2-Year Strategy was ultimately adopted 3-1 last week, a renewal of the photographic traffic enforcement contract will return to council on Wednesday, June 26th.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Pedalpalooza picks, climate emergency rally, CCC ride, and more

Get out there. (Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The weekend is almost here and it’s time to map out your plan of attack. Check out my suggestions below. And as always when it’s June, consult the Official Pedalpalooza Calendar for more rides.

Friday, June 21st

Climate Emergency Rally – 12:00 pm at Schrunk Plaza (SW)
A group called Extinction Rebellion will host a rally to organize the fight against an, “unprecedented global emergency.” Show up to get plugged-in and join forces. More info here.

Critical Mass 2.0: New Mobility Edition – 4:30 pm at Salmon Springs Fountain (SW)
Community leader Sarah Iannarone wants to boost the profile and respect of low-impact transportation vehicles like e-scooters, e-bikes, one-wheels, etc… Show up early for the Lime-sponsored e-scooter demo then roll in the group ride to take over the streets. More info here.

Dropout Prom – 9:00 pm at Colonel Summers Park (SE)
The Droupouts are a friendly, local bike club that hosts amazing parties. The Prom is one of the biggest and this year’s theme — Cosmic Space Invaders — should bring out the best among them and their many fans. More info here.

Saturday, June 22nd

Community Cycling Center Quarter Century Celebration Ride – 10:00 am at the CCC Bike Shop (NE)
This beloved nonprofit has been at it for 25 years. Show up and share your respect and appreciation for their work in broadening access to bicycling. More info here.

Portland Maker Ride – 12:00 pm at Toast, Inc (SE)
Go behind-the-scenes at four Portland-based companies that are making cool stuff right here in our backyard. Tour ends at North St. Bags where the crew will be sewing ride souvenir pouches available for $20. More info here.

Street Sprint Drag Races – 7:30 pm at BlaqPacks New HQ (SW)
Local fixed-gear crew Still Pour will host bicycle drag races. $5 to enter the bracket competition with cash and prizes for the winners. More info here.

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Sunday, June 23rd

Northeast Playground Ride – 10:00 am at Fernhill Park (NE)
Grab the kiddos and join a merry crew of moms and dads and other caregivers as they explore a few of the fun playgrounds in northeast. Just a few miles to ride so it shouldn’t interfere with naptime. More info here.

Swim Across Portland – 11:30 am at Water Ave Coffee (SE)
Bicycle Kitty (a.k.a. Maria Schur) will lead this jaunt to several outdoor pools, beaches, and other swimming spots. Load up on nachos from the concession stands and get ready to ride about 20 miles for what is sure to be a fun adventure. More info here.

Grilled by Bike – 12:00 pm at Ladds Circle (SE)
The sixth annual ode to cooking stuff on bikes. These folks do it right, with grilling set-ups and positive vibes that will warm your heart and your meats (or tofus or vegetables or whatever). More info here.

St. Johns Dirty Ride – 4:15 at Block Bikes (N)
Block Bikes owner Ben Helgren will share his secret singletracks, greatest gravels and other dirt delights. All bikes and bikers welcome! More info here.

Heavy Bike Hillclimb Challenge – 7:00 pm at Dawson Park (N)
Local legend Patrick Loftus once again blesses us with this fun ride where only 40+ lb bikes need apply. After a weigh-in, you’ll bike your beast way up to Pittock Mansion in the West Hills to soak in the view. Various shenanigans likely to follow (not to mention a helluva bomb down the hill!). More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar.

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

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Bill that could make rural roads safer on its way to Governor’s desk

Two people died on Sunday and a 4-year old was injured in this crash on McKay Road in the Willamette Valley.

A bill that has received unanimous support from the Oregon House and Senate will give counties throughout Oregon a new tool to improve safety on rural roads.

House Bill 3213 creates a pilot program that will allow five counties to designate a dangerous stretch of road as a “safety corridor”. The legislation is meant to stem the tide of serious and fatal crashes that plague rural roads throughout the state. During committee hearings for the bill, lawmakers heard that many of Oregon’s once quiet farming roads now see increased levels of driving due to population growth and people who want to avoid congested interstates.

Some of these rural, county-owned roads also happen to be popular for bicycle riding.

“While Oregon backroads are some of the most beautiful drives in Oregon, they can be some of the most dangerous.”
— Shelly Boshart Davis, state rep who sponsored the bill

The first I heard of this bill came in a story published yesterday by KATU about McKay Road, south of Champoeg State Park in the Willamette Valley. The headline, “A dozen fatalities plagued Marion County’s McKay Road in past year,” caught my eye. I’ve ridden on McKay Road and it crosses the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway route.

Dennis and Sylvia Melcher are farmers who’ve lived in St. Paul near McKay Road for 60 years. “We have witnessed this road being transformed from a country road to a major highway thoroughfare,” they wrote in committee testimony, “Drivers are traveling on this road at 70 MPH or faster!”

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The bill’s chief sponsor was State Representative Shelly Boshart Davis, a Republican who represents the rural farming district around Albany south of Salem. In a letter of support for her bill, Boshart Davis wrote, “While Oregon backroads are some of the most beautiful drives in Oregon, they can be some of the most dangerous… Law enforcement and county governments around the state are looking for ways to make these roads safer… By allowing county governments the power to bring awareness of the dangers of backroad driving, we give them another tool in their toolbox to save lives.”

The county version will be modeled after the existing program already in place at the Oregon Department of Transportation. Once a safety corridor is identified (must be 2 to 10 miles long and have a documented history of serious and fatal crashes), the transportation department can install caution signage and fines for traffic violations are doubled.

The bill also calls for the establishment of an advisory committee made of up county representatives. While this new program would be modeled after ODOT’s existing program, it’s likely to give county governments more flexibility to address safety concerns.

I asked a Multnomah County if they were aware of the bill and/or if they had any plans to take part in the program. Spokesman Mike Pullen said they haven’t identified any safety corridors as of yet, but they recognize it could be another tool to address safety.

This is an interesting development. I’ve personally been dreaming of a “bicycle safety corridor” designation for a few years now that would be modeled on the same program. Along with increased fines and caution signage, I’d like the designation to come with things like a “move over” passing law when a bicycle rider is present, implementation of bicycle turnouts, a speed limit reduction, and so on. Perhaps next session!

Learn more about HB 3213 here.

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

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Family Biking: Join Kidical Mass for a weekend camping trip to Oxbow Park

Kidical Mass PDX rides to camp, 2014.
(Photo: Andy Schmidt)

Who doesn’t love a last-minute weekend adventure? We’ve got a few spots left for our annual Kidical Mass PDX family group camping trip this weekend and we’d love to have you come along. There are even still some scholarships available (email kmasspdx[at]gmail[dot]com for scholarship information). Keep reading for all the details!

Kidical Mass PDX lunch stop at Gresham Main City Park, 2013.
(Photo: Andy Schmidt)

It’s happening this weekend. Here’s the gist from Kidical Mass PDX:

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

We’ll leave from Woodstock Park (at the play structure by SE 47th Ave and SE Harold St) in Southeast Portland at 10am Saturday morning and ride approximately 20 miles (picnic lunch stop halfway in Gresham’s Main City Park) to beautiful Oxbow Regional Park, where we’ll camp, swim, and sit around by the fire. The ride will be at a leisurely pace suited to family biking, and will mostly be on off road trails and quiet country roads.

We’ll ride back together the next day. There’s a big hill coming out of Oxbow, and we will have a truck and trailer to pull bikes and gear up the hill. There will also be several carseats installed in the truck, so we can haul families as well.

Each site is $20, and please bring cash to give to the ride leader day of. Please bring extra for firewood while we camp.

Oxbow Park play structure.
(Photo: Madi Carlson)

The campground

I took a day trip out to Oxbow in March and found it to be spectacular! It’s enormous and has everything one could want when camping with kids: play structure, visitor center, lots of paths, restrooms, a refreshing river, a paper kids’ activity guide, and trees galore. But note: no pets or alcohol allowed.

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The route

Why do campgrounds always involve a big hill?! I used my road bike for my test run and needed to stop and rest early in the climb back up the hill. Some families will probably bike the hill in the morning, but for those who don’t want to we’ll have vehicle support. I think I’ll personally send my reasonable kid and all the gear up in the truck and pedal up with my more adventurous kid.

Other than the pesky hill, our only other tricky spot is an uncontrolled crossing of Highway 26 at mile 14.5 (I’ve got it marked with a caution icon on our route map) which might take a long time while waiting for a break in traffic. Much of the trip is along the Springwater Corridor Trail and the country roads are quiet ones.

Food
Most of us will bring all our food from home, stopping for a picnic lunch in Gresham’s Main City Park halfway along. However, there’s a bagel place close to Main City Park and for bagel needs even before reaching Gresham, we’ll pass by Cartlandia three miles into our trip. And at the other end of the ride, Weece’s Market is three miles before Oxbow Park. It’s small, but it’ll do the trick!

Camping tips
Next year we’ll be organized enough to finally do that family bike camping workshop/meetup we wanted to organize last year, but this year will be the usual: make new friends on the day of the trip, remember how to use our camping gear since it’s our only trip of the year, and share snacks, hot water, books, and toys with our new friends. Check out my packing list and family bike camping tips on my Family Ride blog.

If you’re able to join us this weekend, check out the details below:

KMPDX Camping Trip 2019
Saturday, June 22 10:00 a.m. – Sunday, June 23
Meet at Woodstock Park Playground
Camp at Oxbow Regional Park in Gresham, OR
Facebook event page
Eventbrite registration page **Registration required
Route on Ride with GPS

Thanks for reading. Have you been bike camping? With kids? At Oxbow Park? Please share your advice!

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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In bid for more accessibility, Portland OKs 725 electric scooters with seats

One of the 500 new Razor scooters to hit Portland streets.
(Photo: Bryn Dearborn)

The City of Portland has granted a permit for a new type of electric vehicle: a scooter with a seat.

According to a Bureau of Transportation statement, two companies — Razor and Shared — have been granted permits as part of the City’s e-scooter pilot program. Between them 725 of these scooters have the right to be deployed on Portland streets as of today.

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“We prioritized accessibility in this second Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program, and I am pleased to say that both Razor and Shared delivered with these seated e-scooters,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “There is still a significant amount of work to be done to achieve equity in transportation, but the addition of seated e-scooters to our local fleet opens up this mode of transport to many more Portlanders.”

PBOT says this move comes in response to feedback from the community that many people didn’t feel comfortable or weren’t able to use the more traditional, stand-up scooters. These new scooters not only have a place to sit, they also have larger and wider tires — which means they’ll also appeal to people who are concerned about hitting potholes/bumps or just tipping over on the existing scooters.

Combined with what’s already on the streets, these new offerings from Razor and Shared bring the total number of permitted scooters to 1,975.

According to Razor’s website, their sit-down scooters have a thumb throttle, rear disc brake, and front and rear lights.

Like the stand-up scooters, these new sit-down versions will be allowed in what we typically refer to as bicycle lanes.

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

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Weekend Event Guide: Bookstore crawl, fountain splashing, Multnomah County Bike Fair, and more

Put on your bathing suits and get ready to splash around!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s the middle of June, the middle of Pedalpalooza, and the middle of a warm weather trend. This weekend is likely to be truly epic.

To help you make plans, we’ve got a selection of rides and events below. Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 14th

Diablo’s Wild Ride – 8:00 pm at Devil’s Point (SE)
The 10th annual party ride led by the inimitable Diablo is sure to press all your fun buttons. More info here.

Midnight Mystery Ride – 11:30 pm at Hopworks Pub & Beergarden (N)
It’s June, so it’ll be the biggest MMR of the year. More info here.

Saturday, June 15th

Skull 120/60/30 – All day in Burns
I’m headed east to Burns for the annual Skull 120, what organizers say is the toughest gravel race in the country. I can’t wait! More info here.

Group Ride! – 10:00 am at Tough Luck (N)
Meet and train with fellow Cycle Oregon fans at this monthly series of rides sponsored by Bike Gallery and Nossa Famlia Coffee. More info here.

Read and Roll Bookstore Crawl – 12:00 pm at Sewallcrest Park (SE)
Join Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie for a leisurely, 8-mile loop that will stop at six independent bookstore to browse and learn about the history of each one. More info here.

Splish! Splash! Wet Portland Ride – 2:00 pm at Jamison Square (NW)
A proud local tradition, this ride will visit several of our best fountains to sample the water. Wear your bathing suit! More info here.

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Sunday, June 16th

Milwaukie to Oregon City on the Trolley Trail – 10:00 am at Milwaukie Bay Park
If you’ve been wanting to ride south of the city and discover this gem of a path, here’s your opportunity. 20-mile loop and no one will be left behind. Includes a ride on the municipal elevator in Oregon City! More info here.

Live Freeways Ride – 11:00 am at Goose Hollow MAX Station (SW)
Join a knowledgable ride leader John Russell and ride on 25 miles of local freeways from Portland to Oregon City. More info here.

Storytime Ride – 11:00 am at Woodlawn Elementary School (N)
Local artist (and Pedalpalooza poster creator!) Cat Odell will lead this family-friendly event in the park. She’ll share her new children’s book and then the kiddos can ride the fun paths in the park. More info here.

Multnomah County Bike Fair – 12:00 pm at Colonel Summers Park (SE)
A day of silly and fun bike events and camaraderie with fellow bike funnists. Come say goodbye to the Sprockettes and delight in the antics of Olive & Dingo. More info here.

Photo Ride – 6:00 pm at Salmon Street Springs (SW)
Photographer Eric Thornburg will lead this gathering of camera and cycling enthusiasts. Come geek out on lenses and accessories or just show up and be a willing subject for all the photogs. Ride will visit prime photo locations and have a prize for best image taken. More info here.

Full Moon Naked Ride – 8:30 pm at Coe Circle (NE)
Because not everyone can wait for the World Naked Bike Ride. And for what it’s worth, I can vouch for the leaders. They’re good and fun-loving folks! More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Bike Friday, Ride Report

Two new jobs posted this week.

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Bicycle Technical & Customer Support Team Member – Bike Friday (Eugene)

–> Office Administrator – Ride Report

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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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This Pedalpalooza ride paid homage to the color teal, and nearly 100 people showed up

The teal is strong with this one.
(Photos by Eric Thornburg/No.Lens.Cap)

Some of the best Pedalpalooza rides are often the ones with the simplest theme. Case in point: Last night’s Teal Ride.

“Teal for Real! Who doesn’t love the color teal… it’s a little green… it’s a little blue. It’s perfect,” read the ride description. “Bring your teal bikes, helmets or dress in teal for this fun and short ride.”

Why a teal ride? Here’s what ride leader Andrea Chin said when we asked her that question:

”It started on the 2017 Pedalpalooza kickoff ride with a few of us pointing out teal bikes, and chatting with those who had teal bikes. We all connected over the love of teal, and by the end of the night, we had teal catchphrases, and had made up a teal squad vest, slightly a parody of bike clubs. Last year, someone proposed getting a teal ride on the Pedalpalooza calendar (because why not?) and it was a success! With all of the previous year’s hype we decided it should be an annual installment. It shows that even a seemingly simple thing as a color can bring people together.”

Our Pedalpalooza embed Eric Thornburg was there to capture it. He said there were at least 80 people by the time the ride left Laurelhurst Park. Ride leaders made it clear that everyone was welcome — teal or no teal — “As long as they had teal spirit.” And judging from his photos, there was plenty of it.

Eric said riders rang bells at every teal-colored object; be it construction pipes on the side of the road, a teal vehicle, or teal paint on a house. The group photo was in front of a teal-colored building at SE 10th and Taylor. Scroll down for the gallery…



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Check the Pedalpalooza Calendar for more great events and browse more of Eric’s photos here.

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

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Commissioner Eudaly’s big move for bus-only lanes

There’s more of this to come.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The cat is officially out of the bag.

In a story posted this morning, the Willamette Week reported that PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly wants to go big for bus only lanes.

In 18 months, Portland streets could see the most dramatic change in public transit since the arrival of the streetcar. All it will take is gallons of red paint.

Deep in the bowels of city bureaucracy, Portland transportation officials under the direction of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly are preparing to debut what they’re calling the “Red Lane Project”: removing miles of roadside parking and traffic lanes from Portland streets to make room for uninterrupted routes for buses.

While this is the first major report of the plan, Eudaly’s office has been working on it behind the scenes since last year. Eudaly’s Director of Policy Jamey Duhamel shared details of it with me back in December. At that stage she wanted help connecting to various community leaders and groups that might be impacted and/or might want to get involved in organizing support for the plan.

The plan also builds on a foundation already built by PBOT that includes the Enhanced Transit Corridors and Central City in Motion plans.

As Portland’s population has exploded, so has the amount of traffic and congestion. Eudaly has decided that faster bus service is the best tool to make streets more efficient. The plan is just the latest manifestation of TriMet and the City of Portland’s growing effort to speed up bus service. Back in November, PBOT’s Central City in Motion Plan was adopted by City Council with several transit-centric projects on its high priority implementation list. Back in May, PBOT worked with TriMet to give bus operators more space at an intersection on NE Fremont and created a bus/bike only lane on SW Madison.

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For Eudaly — who’s built a reputation for her work on tenant protection — bus users are the transportation equivalent of low-income renters. And to take that analogy a bit further, drivers would be landlords. Eudaly sees bus users as needing help in a system that is stacked against them. Here’s more from the Willamette Week’s story:

“Transportation intersects very dramatically with all the things we really care about,” says Eudaly’s policy director, Jamey Duhamel, adding that the commissioner and her aides asked themselves: “What can we do within transportation to really affect people’s lives, the most vulnerable in our community? What we heard over and over was: ‘How are you going to get buses out of traffic?’”

In that story, Eudaly said another reason she’s decided to act is that the “clock is ticking on climate catastrophe.”

As for voices that might oppose the plan, it’s worth noting Eudaly’s office has already lined up support for the plan — both on City Council and among myriad community groups (who will no doubt be asked to turn out their members/supporters once the plan is officially launched). Our transportation commissioner has also shown signs that she’s not afraid to start a debate about transportation policy.

Details on the plan are still to come, but Eudaly’s office is likely to choose a list of a dozen or so routes that will be sped up and then implement the changes on a pilot project basis.

Read more in the Willamette Week and stayed tuned for more details, opportunities to give feedback, and how bicycling will be impacted.

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

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Pedalpalooza Mural Ride photo gallery recap

Bikes just might be the perfect mural-viewing vehicle. (Photos by Eric Thornburg/No.Lens.Cap)

Sunday’s Mural Ride had a great turnout with about 100 people showing up to see a few of Portland’s many intriguing public paintings.

The ride was led by veteran Portland bike fun instigator Meghan Sinnott and local artist and photographer Mel Christy.

Our Pedalpalooza photographer Eric Thornburg tagged along and captured the vibe. Here’s what it looked like through his lens…

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

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