The Monday Roundup: The costs of car culture, enforcement skeptics, tired pros, and more

Welcome to the week. Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days…

Must-read: From oil wars and road deaths, climate change and racism; the New Yorker presents a compelling case for questioning our relationship with cars.

The price we pay: On a similar note as above, the Washington Post reports that since the year 2000 we’ve lost more people to fatal car crashes than we lost in both World Wars.

Get to work: Portland ranked 8th in a new report on how good the bike network connects people to their jobs.

Skin in the game: For years bicycle riders have been scolded for “not paying their fair share” of road taxes, now that same question is being asked of electric car users.

Climate action: Crosscut says if Seattle wants tackle the ravages of climate change city leaders must start with the number one polluter: the transportation sector.

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Where bikes are public transit: The Netherlands’ nationwide bike share system OV-Fiets doesn’t grab as many headlines as their legendary cycling mode share; but its success is arguably just as impressive.

The case against enforcement: Portland isn’t the only city in America that’s ambivalent about the role of law enforcement in Vision Zero efforts: Here’s why advocates in Minneapolis are against it.

How do they do that?: The Tour de France is one of the most grueling endeavors on the planet. VeloNews took a closer look at how the pros deal with crushing exhaustion and fatigue.

Bill “Vision Zero” De Blasio: Facing a mounting death toll and pressure from activists, New York City’s mayor and presidential candidate Bill De Blasio said it’s time for Vision Zero to go national. De Blasio also promised $58 million in road projects as part of a bike safety plan.

Tweet of the Week: This is the future of some Portland streets (and on others, replace the bus with bike riders):

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

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NW Trail Alliance signs lease to manage 3,000-acre parcel north of Portland

Lease boundary map. Multnomah Channel and Sauvie Island are on the right.
(Click to enlarge)

Portland-based nonprofit Northwest Trail Alliance has signed a lease agreement with Weyerhaeuser that allows them to manage nearly 3,000 acres of forested land between Highway 30 and Skyline Road just 15 miles north of Portland City Hall.

To put the size of the parcel into perspective, it’s roughly equivalent to a section of Forest Park between the Thurman gate in northwest Portland and the St. Johns Bridge.

This is literally and figuratively a very big deal.

Known as the Rocky Point parcel because it straddles Rocky Point Road, the land offers a trove of opportunities for both gravel and singletrack trail riding. The northern part of the property (about 20% of total land on the lease) is already a well-known spot for mountain biking with access via turnouts on Rocky Point Road; but the trails are informal, undeveloped — and due to forestry operations — access is often closed without warning.

Riding in the Scappose mountain biking area.
(Photo: jordan_n22/Flickr)

This historic agreement offers great new riding relatively close to Portland — something in very high demand given the lack of access in Forest Park and River View Natural Area. The lease also strengthens the relationship between the largest timberland owner and largest off-road bicycling organization in the region — a major coup for the NW Trail Alliance that illustrates the group’s maturation and growth over the past five years.

As part of the agreement, NWTA will complete an inventory of existing trails and will have the ability to build new ones. They will also assume responsibility for maintenance of the trails and maintain a list of people authorized to use them.

“We appreciate NWTA’s cooperative approach to Rocky Point and look forward to cultivating a long-term relationship.”
— Michelle Metcalf, Weyerhaeuser

NWTA will supply Weyerhaeuser with a list of members who have access privileges to the property effective August 1st of this year. That means if you want to ride the Rocky Point area you must be an NWTA member (memberships are $39 a year for individuals, $50 for families). Members who want to ride at Rocky Point will need to sign a liability waiver and agree to certain conditions before being granted a “Rocky Point Access Permit”.

To oversee the project, NWTA will assemble a Rocky Point Stewardship Team made up of staff and volunteers. They’ve also agreed to develop a trail management plan that will be coordinated with Weyerhaeuser to avoid conflict with Weyerhaeuser’s forestry operations.

There are other limitations in the agreement such as no biking access during fire risk closures and periodic closures during active forestry operations. NWTA will maintain an up to date web page detailing the most current conditions, and the general limitations of the lease.

Michelle Metcalf, Weyerhaeuser’s manager of recreation programs, said the company looks forward to working with NWTA to create a fun, safe and well-managed area for non-motorized recreation. “Weyerhaeuser values all types of recreational activity and welcomes opportunities to balance recreational access and land management activities,” Metcalf shared. “We appreciate NWTA’s cooperative approach to Rocky Point and look forward to cultivating a long-term relationship.”


NW Trail Alliance organized a volunteer clean-up day at Rocky Point in 2011, laying the groundwork for this historic partnership.
(Photos: Andy Jansky)

“We’ve been working on this relationship for many years.”
— Andy Jansky, advocacy director NW Trail Alliance

In 2015 we reported that Weyerhaeuser began a permit program for their local parcels. At that time, they offered a lease on a portion of this Rocky Point area to the public. NWTA considered signing on, but ultimately declined due to insurance liability and organizational capacity limitations. Thankfully, an individual advocate stepped up. John “Dabby” Campbell purchased the lease in 2015 and has managed it ever since. Campbell, a NWTA volunteer and veteran Portland bicycling advocate, has willingly stepped down from his lease so that NWTA could enter into a larger scale agreement.

The partnership benefits Weyerhaeuser by bringing a highly motivated group of land stewards onto their property and by strengthening their connection to the community. It’s just the latest example of how the NWTA has earned the trust of a land manager.

In 2016 the NWTA successfully advocated for mountain biking trails in Metro’s North Tualatin Mountains (just south of the Rocky Point parcel) and the group has been instrumental in the success of ridings areas like Stub Stewart State Park, Gateway Green, and the Sandy Ridge Trails where they’ve established productive working relationships with Oregon State Parks, Portland Parks & Recreation, and the Bureau of Land Management respectively.

NWTA Advocacy Director Andy Jansky helped organize a work party at Rocky Point in 2011 to clean up trash and other debris that had been illegally dumped in the forest (photos above). “We’ve been working on this relationship for many years,” he wrote in an email to BikePortland. “And the volunteer effort of our members and past and current boards have helped build a solid foundation with our partners.”

Stay tuned for details from NWTA for exciting stewardship and riding opportunities at Rocky Point.

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

 

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Portland bikepacker finds and saves man stranded in remote Oregon Outback

An ambulance kicks up dust en route to help a man who was stranded in the remote Oregon Outback. A Portlander who happened to be biking by erected his tent to give him shade.
(Photo: Tomas Quinones)

Portlander Tomas Quinones loves to find adventure on his bike. While out on a bikepacking trip in a remote section of southern Oregon last week, he found a lot more than he ever bargained for.

Quinones was on a seven-day bikepacking trip.

Quinones was on a week-long bikepacking trip when he came across an elderly man who had been stranded after his Jeep got stuck in a canyon. According to the Oregon State Police, the man was nearly unconscious after he attempted to walk to safety. “The subject collapsed with one of his dogs faithfully by his side,” OSP shared on their Facebook page. “A bicyclist [Quinones], who luckily happened to be in the area, came across the man and called for help. The gentleman was taken to an area hospital for treatment.”

Randolph’s stuck Jeep and his faithful dog.
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

You might recall Quinones as the creator of whimsical, bike-themed illustrations we profiled back in 2011.

After hearing about this ordeal, I asked him a few questions via email.

Turns out Quinones was riding the Oregon’s Big Country route and was six miles off Highway 140 between Sheldon Refuge and Hart Mountain, just north of the California border. He’d been pedaling for six days and was without cell reception for two of them. It had been nearly 20 hours since he’d seen another vehicle or human.

The red arrow in the map below is where Quinones found the stranded man.

Red arrow is where Quinones found Randolph.

“When I found him, he was already collapsed on the ground, red with sun all over any exposed skin, and not responding verbally to questions but making grunts and trying to move around.”

“At first, I thought it was another dead cow as I had seen a lot of cattle over the last six days,” Quinones shared. “When I found him, he was already collapsed on the ground, red with sun all over any exposed skin, and not responding verbally to questions but making grunts and trying to move around.”

“When I realized he needed help,” Quinones continued, “I started looking around for any sort of vehicle that might be nearby. I had seen some dust being kicked up north of my location, so I gave him a bottle of water and bolted toward the dust hoping to find someone in a vehicle or his vehicle with some clue as to why he was out there.”

According to The Oregonian, the man was 72-year-old Greg Randolph and he’d walked 14 miles in four days looking for help.

It was just moments later that Quinones realized he needed to send out an S.O.S. signal on his Spot tracker device, something he’d carried (and paid a subscription for) for years without ever needing. After he pushed the button to send the signal, he raced back to the man lying on the road. “I did whatever I could to keep him alive until help arrived.”

By this time, Quinones shared, Randolph was still not responding to questions and was shaking uncontrollably as if he was cold, even though the sun was raging overhead and temperatures were in the high 80s. Quinones set up his tent to create shade. Then he got a scare: “At this point, one of his dogs popped out from the bushes and really startled me as I though it was a bobcat or something.” Thankfully the dog was friendly and just wanted a drink.

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Quinones in 2011.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Quinones figures he spent nearly two hours by the Randolph’s side waiting for help to arrive. When an ambulance finally arrived, EMTs assessed the scene and acted with even more urgency when they realized Randolph was diabetic. Minutes later Randolph was headed to the hospital and Quinones found himself all alone in the canyon with the man’s few belongings and his dog.

“I was running low on water myself, so the EMTs left me with two small, half-drunk bottles of Gatorade,” he remembered.

10 minutes later a Sheriff from Lakeview rolled up. The sheriff wanted to know more about what happened and promised to contact Quinones’ partner to tell her he was O.K.

Quinones wanted to push on with his journey. He said he followed Randolph’s footprints for about four miles before they disappeared on a dusty road. It took Quinones about six hours of riding until he got cell reception again and was able to contact his partner.

According to The Oregonian Randolph has been treated and released from the hospital and is recovering at home. He’s been reunited with his dog.

Quinones and his SOS Spot tracker.
(Photo: Tomas Quinones)

Quinones’ quick thinking and wilderness first aid training likely saved Randolph’s life. And of course his Spot tracker device came through big time. Without it, Randolph would have suffered for another eight hours or so before help would have arrived. Quinones implores everyone who goes bikepacking off-the-grid to get one. “Even if it doesn’t save your life, you may end up saving someone else’s,” he said.

Someone like Greg Randolph, an extremely lucky man who will never forget the helping hand he received from a stranger in the middle of nowhere.

“It blows my mind that this all took place in a few hours and that he lived. I’m still processing the magnitude of the situation.”

Read more about Quinones’s seven-day bikepacking trip on his blog You can also follow him on Instagram at adventuring.bike.

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

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Bill’s passage will lead to more oversight of TriMet crashes

Familes for Safe Streets advocate Darla Sturdy (right) stands with Governor Kate Brown and House Rep. Barbara Smith Warner following the vote on SB 1053.
(Photo courtesy Darla Sturdy).

The dogged determination of one advocate has forced TriMet to create a new committee to review all injury and fatal crashes involving their vehicles.

Darla Sturdy, a volunteer with Families for Safe Streets, turned anguish over her son’s death in 2003 into activism that has now led to passage of two bills through the Oregon Legislature. In 2007 she passed a bill requiring TriMet to study and create recommendations for how to make dozens of light-rail crossings safer. That bill became law four years after her 16-year-old son Aaron Sturdy-Wagner was killed while biking through one of them.

And on June 30th of this year, Sturdy’s bill passed just one hour before the end of the session. Senate Bill 1053 establishes a seven-member TriMet Crash Advisory Committee. Originally intended to be completely independent of TriMet with members appointed by the Oregon Transportation Commission, the final bill allows the agency’s general manager to appoint the members. The bill also mandates that committee members must come from a wide variety of experiences and professional expertise including: a disability rights advocate, a biking and walking advocate, a government agency staffer, a vision zero expert from Portland, and a TriMet board member.

“They didn’t want to do it… Then I said, politics or lives?”
— Darla Sturdy

Sturdy fought for this committee because she doesn’t trust TriMet. “TriMet judges their own accidents,” she repeated to me several times on the phone today. It’s true. Until now, the agency has always investigated themselves when one of their light rail or bus operators hurts or kills someone.

Reached today on the phone, Sturdy said it took six months of work to pass the bill. It died twice and went through three bill numbers before it was signed by Governor Kate Brown last week. At each step, Sturdy didn’t take no for an answer. “I probably met personally with all but four legislators in that building,” she told me today from a conference she’s attending in Dallas. At one point Sturdy asked her House representative to do a “bill pull” — legislative jargon for pulling a bill directly out of committee for a vote on the floor — something that’s not done very often. “They didn’t want to do it because other lawmakers might frown on it,” she shared. “Then I said, politics or lives?”

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Bill text.

A MAX light rail crossing in southeast Portland
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Eventually Sturdy’s relationships paid off and she was able to get her bill on the floor. It passed unanimously an hour before the gavel came down for good.

“I knew God would take me to the end, but I didn’t realize he’d take me all the way to the last hour,” she said with a laugh.

Sturdy knows her work isn’t done. This unrelenting advocate was at TriMet’s Board Meeting last night. “I looked at the GM (Doug Kelsey) and said, ‘You’re going to be picking this committee’. And I told the board, ‘You better make sure they come from the outside’.”

For their part, TriMet was officially neutral on the bill. In a letter to lawmakers dated June 19th, the agency’s director of government affairs, Bernie Bottomly wrote, “We would like to express our reservations regarding the potential ramifications and unintended consequences of the proposed legislation… TriMet concerns relate to how this legislation may conflict with other requirements placed on the agency by both state and federal law regarding safety Management and reporting, civil liability mitigation, privacy rights of employees, attorney-client privilege and public records.”

In the end, Sturdy hasn’t lost sight of why she devotes so much of her life to this fight. “My son would be proud of me. He had a saying, ‘Dream big, don’t let the little things get in your way.’ To me that meant I can’t save him, but I can save others,” she said, holding back tears. “That’s what it is. To make that change, make it better. I believe we all have a purpose and I found mine in safety advocacy.”

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

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Weekend Event Guide: E.T., OUCH, RACC, AVC and more

The Gorge looked fine as ever last weekend.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Grab these summer days and squeeze real hard because you never know how long they’ll last. And another thing… it’s going to be hot this weekend so plan accordingly (as in remember the water and sunscreen!).

Check out this week’s menu of ride and event suggestions below…

All Weekend

Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge – Friday through Sunday at the track (SW)
This is the to experience local track racing action. AVC attracts the fastest riders from around the region and nation who will compete for records, bragging rights, and a big pile of cash. There’s a big swap meet planned for Saturday if you’re looking to buy or sell stuff. More info here.

Saturday, July 27th

Ride Around Clark County – All day from Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver
With five excellent routes to choose from, this ride also features a post-pedaling BBQ, beer garden and celebration at the Air Museum. Come out and support the Vancouver Bicycle Club! More info here.

Rivelo Film Ride – 11:30 am at Rivelo (SE)
Join the Rivelo crew and two of the fine photographers who bring Rivendell products to life for a ramble up to St. Johns where they’ll stop at the famous Blue Moon Camera store. Stops along the way for picture-making and then discover great food and drinks in St. Johns. More info here.

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Retrogression Grand Opening Party and Alley Cat – 6:30 pm at Retrogression (SE)
Let’s give this new bike shop a big Portland welcome! Come for the alley cat and/or stay for the bike shop vibes and prize raffle. More info here.

Sunday, July 28th

Oregon Uphill Climb of Hood – 9:00 am at Government Camp
Got climbing legs? If so, test them against the clock on the famous OUCH route that will challenge you with 2,000 feet of climbing over 5.5 miles on a winding road up to Timberline Lodge. More info here.

Slow Poke Ride – 9:30 am at TriMet Park & Ride NE Sandy & 96th
Portland Bicycling Club will lead this ride that will venture to the Troutdale General Store. Pace will be slow (10-12 mph) and conversational and there will be stops along the way.

Bike to E.T. Movie Night – 6:45 pm at Montavilla Park (SE)
Join a group ride to Movie-in-the-Park night at Wellington Park to see one of the best cycling movies of all time — E.T. — on the big screen.
More info here.

Stay plugged into all the bike and transportation-related events around the region via our comprehensive event calendar. You’ll also find more great rides on calendars hosted by Shift and Portland Bicycling Club.

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

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Robert Van Brocklin named head of Oregon Transportation Commission

Robert Van Brocklin.

The Governor-appointed body that oversees the Oregon Department of Transportation has a new leader.

ODOT announced today that Robert Van Brocklin will be chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission. Brocklin will fill the spot of current Chair Tammy Baney whose term ends August 31st.

Van Brocklin is a Portland resident who formerly worked as a managing partner for Stoel Rives LLP, Oregon’s largest law firm. He has also worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and was the Director of Government Affairs for the City of Portland. Van Brocklin joined the OTC in November 2017.

One of the many organizations Van Brocklin has been involved with is the Portland Business Alliance where he currently serves as a member of their Board of Directors.

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In his current role as OTC Vice-Chair, Van Brocklin is leading the process to find a new director of ODOT. A selection is scheduled to be made by the end of August.

In a statement released today Van Brocklin said:

“I am grateful for the opportunity to chair the Commission. Working with the Governor, the Legislature, and our federal, state, regional, and local partners, I believe Oregon has the opportunity to develop the best transportation system in the country. Oregonians deserve an integrated system that allows for the efficient, safe and affordable movement of people, goods and services around our communities and throughout our state. I look forward to pursuing that goal.”

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

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This is the future of Northwest Naito Parkway

“It’s a celebration!” beamed a helpful person at the check-in desk as I walked into the big open house for the Central City in Motion plan last night at UO’s White Stag Building. “We have cookies and temporary tattoos!” It was indeed an upbeat vibe as PBOT presented projects to the public for the first time since the plan passed City Council in November.

PBOT going all-in on the Better Naito Forever branding with stickers and temporary tattoos.

Beyond the cookies and tattoos, I was glad to see PBOT not only shared info about current and upcoming projects, but also used the event to promote Biketown, TriMet Hop passes, and electric scooters (Bolt was giving away free helmets). If we want to move the needle, it’s not enough to just build infrastructure, we have to use every tool we have to pry peoples’ hands off their steering wheels.

Inside the room where the posterboards hang, there were important details and conversations shared about upcoming projects on NW Everett, Flanders and Burnside (I’ll get to those later), but Naito Parkway stole the show. Or should I say, Better Naito Forever stole the show.

Believe it or not, Better Naito Forever the official project name for PBOT’s plans to finally create protected space for bicycle users on Naito. The name alludes to the history of this project that began as a two-week trial organized by Better Block PDX in 2015. Temporary tattoos for a permanent project. Get it?

Cheekiness aside, the most exciting part of the open house (to me at least) was the 4 minute, 27 second visualization of Better Naito Forever. Created by project consultants David Evans and Associates, Inc., the video offers a realistic flyover of the City’s plans to reconfigure the eastern (northbound) side of Naito Parkway. According to the David Evans & Associates rep, the images show the 30% design stage, which means what we see is by no means final; but it’s also far beyond a conceptual rendering.

Here are some stills from the video:


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Starting at SW Main, we first zoom northbound and see the bi-directional bikeway alongside the other lane. A six-inch concrete curb separates bicycle and car users. Unlike the current design, PBOT plans at this stage show no vertical delineation beyond this curb for most of the bikeway. Thankfully, metal bollards are shown at intersections.

At crossings of streets like Taylor and Yamhill we see large sections of green-colored pavement. There will also be small concrete islands for people to wait to cross Naito after they’ve crossed over the bike lanes. The islands also serve as foundations for bike-only signals and push-buttons to trigger “Walk” signs. These crossings will be a vast safety improvement not only because they’ll shorten the crossing distance and clarify movements, they’ll also encourage drivers to slow down as the road narrows.

We can also see the sidewalk planned for the western edge of Waterfront Park. A project consultant said a few trees will need to be removed in order to make room for the sidewalk. Construction on Better Naito Forever is scheduled to begin toward the end of 2020 and PBOT confirmed last night that the existing version of (temporary) Better Naito will stay in place until then.

Keep in mind that Better Naito Forever is running about 18 months or so behind a related project that aims to create a major new bikeway on the southern portion of Naito. I was told last night that the SW Naito Project is set to break ground this October. Once it’s complete, PBOT plans to create a temporary connection between SW Jefferson that goes under the Hawthorne Bridge viaduct and connects at Better Naito at the Salmon Street fountain.

Gwen Shaw, a Better Block PDX volunteer who served as project manager for Better Naito before PBOT took over the reins and is now an engineer at Toole Design, shared with me after the open house that, “Jefferson and Naito will be a game-changer and is something that would have been nearly impossible to tackle with interim solutions.” Shaw, who prefers the name “Perma-Naito”, said she likes what she sees from PBOT so far, but she’d like to see a bit more vertical separation and more done to make sure drivers don’t use the facility. “There’s still quite a bit going on [at intersections] that will need to be well designed to avoid confusion,” she said.

If all goes according to plan we’ll have a high-quality protected bikeway for 1.5 miles of Naito Parkway from SW Lincoln Street to the Steel Bridge (and beyond!) by summer 2021.

Stay tuned for more coverage of other projects shown at last night’s open house.

CORRECTIONS: The original version of this article said Bird was the scooter company at the open house. That was incorrect. It was Bolt Mobility. Also, I referenced David Evans & Associates Inc as “DKS”. That was a mistake. I regret the errors.

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

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Guest opinion: City’s east Portland street survey misses the mark

PBOT is working to tame east Portland arterials.

This opinion comes in the form of a letter to the Portland Bureau of Transportation from Kem Marks, Director of Transportation Equity for Rosewood Initiative. We’ve also published a response from PBOT Project Manager Steve Szigethy.

Kem Marks, Rosewood Initiative.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

To whom it may concern,

We are writing to express our concerns with the survey PBOT is disseminating as part of its community outreach for the East Portland Arterial Streets Strategies project (EPASS). Although we are writing regarding the EPASS survey, we feel it is emblematic of most of the surveys conducted by PBOT. This letter is being written with the intent to change how this survey and future surveys by PBOT are written.

The survey in question has many problems. The language used to frame many of the questions creates false narratives, e.g. either/or situations that then create false choices in the answers. The potential answers create black and white alternatives, and do not allow for a more nuanced response. An example of this is:

This shouldn’t be an either/or response. First of all, this framing is based in a mentality of austerity. With the Fixing Our Streets program, HB 2017 revenue, and a potential transportation measure next year, we have more funding than ever. Given the City’s history of neglecting East Portland, the city should stop making East Portland bear the burden of inferior infrastructure so it can “spread the wealth”, especially to parts of Portland that have not been neglected. In fact, the city should go beyond parity with the rest of Portland to make up for the past intentional neglect.

PBOT must address its lingering autocentric biases that are replete in this survey.

Question #1, which is ostensibly about pedestrian crossings, has the following option, “PBOT should focus on pedestrian behavior such as crossing at crosswalks or carrying lights”. The question appears to be about placement of crossings, and thus this answer seems incongruent to the question. It creates an option that puts safety solely on the pedestrian, and smacks of victim blaming. PBOT has policies on crossing spacing as well as intersections; thus we have to ask, what would PBOT do with the results if this were the highest scoring answer? Along this line, would PBOT seriously not have mid-block crossings if that option were the top scoring or second scoring answer? Other than measuring anti-pedestrian sentiment, neither option seems legitimate.

We also wonder why respondents can only choose one answer instead of “all that apply” or using a ranking system. Question #3, Street Lighting, is a perfect example of where multiple answers are highly likely. A respondent could easily be concerned with safety from being assaulted, and be concerned about seeing the sidewalk and obstacles. They may also want more lighting on the street surface to see people or objects in the travel lane.

Given the fact that these surveys are an integral part of PBOT’s decision-making for project development, we strongly encourage PBOT to take this survey down and redo it so that respondents have true options that reflect people’s needs. We also encourage PBOT to develop better surveys, and to get input from community organizations, or alternatively hire consultants to train staff on how to write proper surveys.

In conclusion, PBOT must address its lingering autocentric biases that are replete in this survey. In addition, PBOT must use surveys that will elicit meaningful community feedback, which means using multiple languages, and other forms besides online. PBOT must also start treating East Portland with respect, by providing us with the same level of infrastructure as the rest of the city and follow its own standards.

Thank you for your time.

– Kem Marks

(PBOT response is below the jump.)

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Response below is from PBOT Project Manager Steve Szigethy:

The survey uses a “forced choice” model. This method sometimes puts the respondent in a challenging position by forcing them to choose one option, when really they may like multiple options presented, or they may like none of them. This is intentional. It forces the respondent to make a choice that involves a trade-off, rather than being able to support doing everything, or expressing neutrality. In reality, most of these choices are not a zero sum game. For example, we are going to continue to add new enhanced pedestrian crossings while also seeking to improve the safety of existing signalized intersections. We are not going to pick one approach and abandon the other. However, seeing responses in the aggregate (with hundreds of people answering the survey) can help us see general preferences, trends, and public support (or lack thereof) for PBOT initiatives.

Regarding the purpose and intended use of the survey, it is advisory. It will be one source of many that helps us with decision making as well as how we communicate and roll out decisions. Our adopted policies and data-driven approach to safety interventions and investments remain critically important, and in almost all cases these policies and data will be the lead factors in making decisions. For example, we are not going to cancel all road reorganization projects if they are wholly unpopular in the survey. However, we also must recognize that public perception of city actions can play a big role in the success or failure of projects and initiatives, now and in the future.

Regarding the desire for more nuance, that is a challenge with most public surveys. When we were creating the survey, we began with a much longer survey that had about four times as many questions and that relied on choosing a level of agreement with statements (often referred to as a Likert scale). We ultimately decided that too many questions may result in fewer or incomplete responses, and that reliance on the Likert scale would not be as helpful as forced choices. We did, however, include the open-ended question as an opportunity for more nuanced feedback.

I’m sorry you’re not a fan of the survey but I do hope that you complete it, and that you share it across your networks. We’ve already received 450 responses, and we plan to continue advertising it across multiple networks, including intentional outreach to underrepresented populations.

Learn more about PBOT’s East Portland Arterial Streets Strategy here.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, Pedal Bike Tours, Holy Spokes

Looking for a change? Perhaps a new challenge or a chance to get your foot into the door of the local bike ecosystem?

Check out our latest job listings below…

–> Bike Mechanic with Customer Service Skills – Pedal Bike Tours

–> Full Time Bike Share Technician – Holy Spokes

–> Administrative Assistant – Community Cycling Center

–> Program Mechanic – Community Cycling Center

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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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Glisan Street ‘raceway’ to get facelift in bid to improve safety



Before and after

The Portland Bureau of Transportation will begin work next week on what they’re (smartly) calling an “update” to Northeast Glisan Street east of I-205 to the city limits.

This type of zipper merge is intended to reduce road-rage.

The project will take a variety of steps to improve safety. PBOT will reconfigure lanes to encourage safer speeds, add medians and flashing beacons to make it easier to cross on foot, add bike lanes, and more.

PBOT crash data puts NE Glisan in the top ten of the most dangerous streets in the city. “Highway-style streets like NE Glisan Street divide neighborhoods and make it nerve-wracking for kids to walk or bike to school or families to walk to parks or the store,” states the project website. “Long stretches of road between signals mean people drive too fast, making it unsafe, and sometimes deadly, to cross the street.”

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This section of Glisan currently allows drivers to use all seven lanes of the roadway — including five for driving and two for parking. The project will reduce that number and create several zones where drivers will go from having two lanes (in each direction) to one. Instead of reducing lanes for drivers along the entire corridor, PBOT has come up with a less controversial idea: “narrow road, wide nodes”. There will be one lane for through driving (in addition to a center turn lane) in three sections, but it will go back to two lanes at major intersections of NE 102nd and 122nd.

Glisan westbound at NE 125th Avenue approaching NE 122nd Avenue.

Here’s how PBOT explains this new approach:

“Major intersections will continue to have multiple driving lanes in each direction. For example, this image (above) shows what NE Glisan Street will look like going west at NE 125th Avenue approaching the major intersection at NE 122nd Avenue. This “narrow road, “wide node” design minimizes delay for people driving while still improving safety between intersections. Bike lanes will continue through the intersections. This increases the overall people-moving capacity of the street.”

Bicycling-related updates will include a new signalized crossing at NE 128th (part of the 130s neighborhood greenway), a buffered (paint-only) bike lane eastbound and a parking-protected bike lane westbound between NE 102nd and 122nd, and parking protected bike lanes in both directions from 122nd to 162nd (city limits).

The project budget is $400,000 and funding came from a mix of federal highway funds (granted to the city by ODOT and Metro), and PBOT System Development Charges and Portland’s cannabis tax.

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

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