America’s top bike/walk transportation pros coming to Portland next week

Portland will be in the spotlight next week when the nation’s leading experts on bicycling and walking planners descend on our city for the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals annual conference.

Launched in Portland 25 years ago, the APBP offers expertise, information, and inspiration for their 1,200 members. Their annual conference will feature over 200 speakers (including 17 Portland Bureau of Transportation staffers) over three days of keynotes, mobile tours, panels, and more. It kicks off Sunday August 25th with biking and walking tours during the “Green Loop” edition of Sunday Parkways.

The meat of the five-day agenda is Monday through Wednesday when attendees will attend sessions on everything from racial equity and the psychology of cycling, to signal timing and the future of micromobility.

Here are the sessions that caught my eye:

European Inspired Emerging Best Practices in Bicycle Facility Design

This panel presentation will begin with the overarching framework regarding adapting European bicycle facility designs to North America. It will discuss how US history and the resulting built environment context sets us up for challenges and how some North American cities are having success overcoming those challenges. It will then delve into the emerging best practices in bicycle facility design from Europe. This includes protected intersections, the next generation of bicycle facilities from The Netherlands, traffic calming European rural roads, and new applications of advisory bike lanes.

Moderator: Kristin Bennett
Panelists: Brian Patterson, Lennart Nout, Tom Bertulis, Michael Williams, Jessica Zdeb

The Multimodal Suburb: Transforming Communities Through Planning, Policy, Advocacy

The typical suburban community is designed around cars and is neither safe nor welcoming for people wishing to walk, bike or ride transit. Solutions to make our suburbs more walkable, healthy, and equitable are long overdue. This session dives into projects currently underway to transform suburban mobility in Chicago, Portland, and Toronto. Panelists will discuss and share lessons from specific projects in suburban communities, including mobilizing residents as changemakers, implementing policies and plans that help biking, walking, and transit initiatives thrive, and introducing new mobility options – like dockless e-bikeshare and e-scootershare.

Panelists: Maggie Melin, Matt Pinder, Ray Atkinson

Process, Partnership, and Public Engagement: Using Fast and Flexible Strategies to Deliver More Complete Streets

Tactical urbanist, demonstration, quick build, and repaving projects demonstrate how street space can be transformed with a low budget and quick turnaround to slow cars and protect vulnerable road users. These projects illustrate the roles that public agencies, advocates, community groups, and private organizations have in planning and building Complete Streets. This session focuses on the project design and delivery process, and lessons learned in navigating the complex and sometimes problematic agency-advocacy-public relationships that are fundamental to this work. Using specific project examples, speakers will highlight the importance of advocacy and partnerships and the need for continuous, equitable public engagement.

Panelist: Dani Hess, Nicholas Oyler, Eric Anderson, Brytanee Brown

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Panel: Your Brain on a Bike: Psychology-Informed Approaches to Active Transportation

Transportation decisions get made by humans, but bicycling experts have spent far too little time using psychology to understand the complex way these decisions get made. Join this panel to hear from three efforts that put psychology and evidence front and center:- Arthur Orsini (Vancouver Coastal Health) will discuss how he has applied the Stages of Change behavior change theory to creating employee walking and bicycling commute programs that really work.- Seth LaJeunesse (Highway Safety Research Center at University of North Carolina) will discuss the potential for applying diffusion theory to building support for Vision Zero policies.- Jessica Roberts (Alta Planning + Design) will discuss in-progress behavioral science research she is leading and advising to create more effective transportation mode shift programs.

Keynote: Centering the Black Experience in Active Transportation

#BlackLivesMatter, right? And yet, understanding and addressing the experiences of Black people in our transportation systems remains a marginal part of the work to increase walking and bicycling in our communities. What would it mean to center active transportation planning, design and programs around the needs of the Black community? What do we need to shift and why is that shift important? Where do we start? Join us for a dynamic stage discussion with Rukaiyah Adams of the Albina Vision Trust and Charlene McGee Kollie, who leads the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program at the Multnomah County Health Department. This dialogue will be facilitated by Irene Marion, Equity and Inclusion Manager of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), where she has led efforts to center Black voices in transportation planning and program partnerships.

Moderator: Irene Marion
Panelists: Rukaiyah Adams, Charlene McGee Kollie

Panel: Bike Network Evaluation: Low Stress Bike Accessibility & Connectivity

Being able to identify and evaluate a low-stress bike network is critical for planning and prioritization. Three leaders in the field will describe the data and process used to identify a city’s low-traffic-stress bike network, along with methods use to evaluate it in terms of connectivity and access to jobs, shops, schools, and other important destinations. Examples using the People for Bikes’ Bike Network Analysis tool, the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s BikeAble tool, and the latest advances in Level of Travel Stress (LTS) methodology will address data challenges, informative map views, and new perspectives on dealing with one-way streets.

Panelists: Peter Furth, Spencer Gardner, Michael Lowry

Panel: Agency Safety and Liability for Pedestrian and Bike Improvements

The presentation will focus on how agencies can pursue innovative improvements for pedestrians and bicycles while minimizing liability and risk. Pedestrian and bicycle collisions are generally rare events, but when they occur it is common for public agencies to be named in lawsuits. This presesntation will discuss how liability varies for each US State, and how Vision Zero programs are viewed. It will describe processes that can improve the agencies position in a lawsuit.

Moderator: Peter Koonce
Panelists: Rock Miller, Ashley Carter, Scott Kocher, Dr. David Hurwitz

Panel: Going Macro with Micromobility

This panel will explore the evolving landscape of micromobility and its integration into cities. Panelists from large and mid-size cities will discuss their experiences and approaches in working with private micromobility providers and adapting programs and facilities to new users and rules of the road. Micromobility providers will shed light on the factors involved in success and profitability, and their experiences as private companies operating in the public realm. Moderated discussions and audience questions will go deeper into the dynamics between public and private entities in the transportation realm, and challenge us to envision the streetscape of the future (including winners and losers in the race for mode share).

Moderators: Melissa May White, AICP, Rae-Leigh Stark
Panelists: Briana Orr, Brandon Blankenagel, Andy Boenau, Anne Brask, Kay Cheng, William Henderson, Alexander Kado, Joel Miller, Jamie Parks, Gabriel Scheer

I plan to attend some of the sessions and report back what I learn/see/hear. If you’d like to attend, registration is $885 for non-members and $700-$775 for members. Students who aren’t APBP members can get in for $205. Single-day registration for non-members is $400.

Learn more at the official conference website.

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

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Comment of the Week: Let’s stop with the bikes-on-sidewalk B.S.

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Our post last week about the new crossing treatment on Northeast 37th at Prescott attracted a lot of ire. The vast majority of people we heard from do not like the new design.

High on the list of grievances is the fact that the transportation bureau decided to route bicycle users up onto a narrow sidewalk.

Long-time BikePortland reader and noted local activist Betsy Reese wasn’t having it. In fact, you could say she called B.S. on the idea.
Here’s her comment:

This is one more example of BS masquerading as an MUP.

MUP definition: Multi-Use Path. A shared pathway for bicycles and pedestrians which is either

1. very low traffic,
2. very scenic,
3. very long, or
4. has pathway and access/exit structures that are wide enough so that bikes and pedestrians are not in conflict.

MUPs are good for transportation, recreation, and novice bicyclists who are not yet ready to ride in the street.

Examples of MUPs:
– Springwater Corridor
– Eastside Esplanade at non-peak travel times
– Banks-Vernonia Trail
– SE 38th Ave. just south of Taylor 1/2 block ped/bike path at dead end

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BS definition: Bikes on Sidewalk. A work-around when designers can’t figure out what to do about bikes or when bikes are an afterthought or lowest priority in allocating space. A BS:

1, puts bikes and pedestrians together in a situation that causes conflicts
2. makes enemies out of people who should be friends and advocacy allies
3. flips the blame to the bicyclists and pedestrians caught in this set-up with the admonishment of “Why can’t everyone just get along?”

BS is no good for anyone.

Examples of BS:

– Clinton LRT Station area of Clinton Greenway between 11th and 12 Aves.
– Hollywood LRT Station approaches and freeway overpass
– Hawthorne Bridge sidewalks
– Steel Bridge sidewalks

And a MUP that is just squeaking by with today’s volume, is tomorrow’s BS.

No more BS, please!

Provide proper MUPs, and provide bike infrastructure on streets like,

1. protected bike lanes,
2. side paths,
3. low-traffic Greenways, and
4. traffic law and the corresponding education and enforcement that protects bikes on all streets.

If you can’t figure out what to do about bikes, don’t just pop them onto the sidewalk. Step up to the challenge and figure it out.

Let’s be prepared to call BS when we see it in the planning stages. Let’s coordinate with pedestrian advocates and present a unified voice on this issue.

Thank you Betsy for contributing to the discussion here on BikePortland. Check your mailbox for a postcard and stickers! And thanks to everyone who flagged this so it was easier for me to find. Remember, when you see a great comment, just reply to it with “comment of the week”.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Stages Indoor Cycling and Foundation Fitness

We’ve had two fresh listings this week. Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Order Management Specialist – Foundation Fitness

–> Customer Service Representative – Stages Indoor Cycling

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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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Weekend Event Guide: Portland Century, women’s ride, repair workshop, and more

The therapy you need.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The weekend is nigh. If you’ve been itching to get out in this summer weather, the forecast looks excellent for a bike adventure or two.

Our pick of the weekend is the Portland Century. This classic annual ride is sure to challenge and delight you. You’ll be treated like royalty as you notch the Big 100 (or not, if you choose other routes) on routes that are right outside your door. (And yes, they paid us to promote their event. So what?!)

Friday, August 16th

Flat Fix Clinic – 12:00 pm at PSU Bike Hub (SW)
Swing by on your lunch hour and learn to fix a flat! This weekly event aims to boost your confidence in bike repairs. More info here.

Reforma del Paseo en Bicicleta/Real Friday Ride – 7:30 pm at Oregon Park (NE)
Local bike club Corvidae has teamed up with MoM Ridaz from Los Angeles (a chapter of Midnight Ridazz) to host this 15-20 mile ride. More info here.

Saturday, August 17th

Slow Poke Ride – 9:30 am at Lents Park (SE)
Portland Bicycling Club will lead this ride from Lents that will cross the Sellwood and Tillikum bridges. Expect a 10-12 mph pace and 24 miles of riding. More info here.

First Timer’s Ride – 10:00 am at River City Bicycles (SE)
First time out? Still a newbie to this cycling thing? Find your people at this short weekly ride hosted by the fun and nice and smart people at River City Bicycles. More info here.

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Sunday, August 18th

BP PICK!!! Portland Century – 7:00 am at PSU Park Blocks (SW)
This is it! Your chance to explore the best roads in Portland and notch a century in your hometown on a fully-supported ride. Choose from four routes, get breakfast and coffee before the ride, fully stocked rest stops, and a big ol’ dinner for your deserving self. More info here.

Women’s Community Ride – 9:00 am at Sellwood Cycle Repair (SE)
This is no-drop ride hosted by Swift Racing that promises 15-20 miles at a fun, conversational pace. A great chance to gain confidence riding in a group. More info here.

Bike Repair Workshop – 11:00 am at City Repair Project (SE)
Learn the fundamentals of bike repair at this free (donations suggested!) hands-on workshop led by the fantastic nonprofit Bikes For Humanity PDX. More info here.

Did I miss anything? If so, please feel free to give it a shout-out in the comments.

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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Mayoral candidate staffer victim of hit-and-run while biking on Vancouver Avenue

Southbound Vancouver at Broadway.

Laura Krouse.
(Photo: Sarah for Portland Mayor)

Laura Krouse, community development coordinator for the campaign Sarah Iannarone for Mayor campaign, was hit by a driver while biking to work yesterday (8/14). It happened at the intersection of North Vancouver and Broadway.

Krouse says she was pedaling south on Vancouver when she was right-hooked by someone who tried to turn right onto Broadway (which is illegal). “It was a hit-and-run,” Krouse shared when I asked her what happened this morning. “They stopped and gave me a fake name. When I asked them for their info, they sped off. Didn’t even get out of the car.”

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Central City in Motion project plan shows future changes to Broadway at Vancouver.

Fortunately Krouse was not hurt (and opted to not report it to police), but her bike is mangled. The community rallied and has raised $250 so far to help get it running again. Unfortunately, this intersection remains problematic.

Vancouver is a major part of the cycling network. We used to have a gap in the bike lane between Broadway and Weidler. That was filled with a bus/bike only lane in 2012 and ODOT made additional changes to the intersection in 2016. Today, three southbound lanes meet with two more southbound lanes that exit Interstate 5. There are separate signals for each set of lanes which helps reduce conflicts, but the intersection is still confusing and stressful environment for many users.

The City of Portland’s Central City in Motion plan has a project that aims to improve this intersection. Project #18 (at right) would add a green-colored and protected bike lane to Broadway. It’s slated for construction by 2023.

Mayoral Candidate Sarah Iannarone uses a bicycle for most of her trips around town. She has also been outspoken in her opposition to the I-5 Rose Quarter Project. On Twitter this morning she hinted at a “tactical urbanism intervention” at the Vancouver/Broadway intersection in response to this collision. Stay tuned.

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

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First look at new bike lanes and other updates to NE 102nd Ave

Changes include a two-way bike lane that starts on the I-84 overpass (a ramp from the sidewalk to the new lanes will be built later this summer).
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation recently completed phase one of a $331,000 project on Northeast 102nd Avenue that included new lanes for biking, fewer lanes for driving, and more. It’s part of a significant update of the corridor between NE Sandy and Weidler.

This section of 102nd is on the city’s “High Crash Network” list. It was the site of 258 crashes and three fatalities in the five years between 2012 and 2016. Like much of their work in east Portland these days, PBOT’s goal with this project is to tame a wide arterial known for fast and dangerous driving while adding better access for walkers, bicycle riders and transit users. Prior to this project 102nd had a cross-section that included seven lanes of driving access: two for parking cars, two for through traffic, and one center turn lane. The new cross section has swapped two of those through lanes for cycling-only lanes.

In addition to the restriping, PBOT has installed four new crosswalks.




The northern section of the project is pretty standard. The new bike lanes are buffered and they feel nice and wide. There’s room to ride away from the door zone on the right and drivers on the left. Unfortunately the bike lanes offer only paint for protection. (Unlike other recent projects the city didn’t opt for a parking-protected bike lane.)




As I biked south from Prescott the bike lane ended at Fremont (upper left photo). It took a few seconds to figure out what I was supposed to do. I noticed a “Use Sidewalk” sign and found a beg button on the southwest corner of the intersection. I used the signal to cross safely to the east side of the street where I found myself on the sidewalk going southbound (against traffic) over Interstate 84. Then I saw the two-way (a.k.a. “bi-directional”) bike lane that begins about mid-span on the overpass. PBOT has yet to build a ramp down to it, so I lowered myself down a big curb to give it a try.

Two-way bike lane on I-84 overpass.

The two-way bike lane felt nice and wide as I rode against bumper-to-bumper traffic. Then on the south side of the overpass near NE Morris Court, things got interesting: PBOT has installed stop signs (which will be yield-when-safe signs on January 1st) between the two bike lanes at NE Morris Court and NE Morris Street.

There are stop signs in the bike lane at NE Morris Court and NE Morris St.




I don’t recall ever seeing stop signs like this before. I was there during the evening rush-hour and as I approached the stop signs there was a lot going on. People were pulling out of a neighborhood on my left, people were turning left into the neighborhood over my right shoulder, and people were turning right into the neighborhood in front of me.

Here’s how it looked on video:

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View looking north toward the overpass.


We all know how confused many drivers get when they see a bicycle user at a four-way stop intersection. Now imagine how that plays out in this novel scenario. As always, if everyone is chill and respectful, it’s not that big of a deal. But that’s a big “if”. In the time I observed these intersections, everything worked OK. One problem I noticed, which I’ve also noted at other protected bike lanes around town, is that auto users frequently block the bike lane as they wait for a gap in traffic. Perhaps we need more “Do No Block Intersection” signs?

I’ll be curious to see how this works as more people start to bike here and the green pavement color and plastic wands begin to wear away. On a related note, I won’t be surprised when the stop signs are destroyed by a driver.

The two-way lane ends at NE Morris St and you’re supposed to cross if you want to continue south.

Looking north at end of two-way bike lane at NE Morris.

At Morris Street, the two-way bike lane ends and there’s a bike crossing that takes you back to the west side of 102nd to continue southbound toward Gateway. It’s great to have a new bikeway and safer street design that connects to the new protected bike lanes on the Halsey-Weidler couplet. I just wish the connection was a bit stronger. As I approached Weidler, my nice wide lane got narrower and the paint had worn off. The last block-and-a-half before connecting to the new protected bike lane was much more stressful than I had hoped.

Looking south toward Halsey-Weidler.

End of new buffered bike lanes at Weidler. Connection to Halsey should be much better than this.

PBOT is still working to complete this project. Later in summer they will add another crossing at NE Thompson, adjust signal timing at Fremont, built that ramp from the overpass sidewalk to the two-way bike lane, and add more bike symbols. The city also plans to lower the speed limit to 30 mph this fall. After everything is done, they’ll analysis traffic data and public input. Here’s what PBOT says will happen next:

“In winter and spring of 2020, PBOT will release a final design based on the project evaluation. If the new roadway configuration is maintained, the design will be implemented in Phase Two, including a crossing at NE Beech Street, converting the crossing islands to permanent concrete islands, adding curb extensions and upgrading curb ramps, adding several upgrades to the NE Fremont Street intersection, and adding any other project enhancements that are included in the permanent design.”

If you’ve ridden this and want to share feedback, contact PBOT Project Manager Christopher Sun at (503) 823-5391 or Christopher.Sun@portlandoregon.gov.

I’ll be riding this again tonight (8/13) with the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee during their annual bike tour (starts at 6:10 pm from Franklin High School if you’d like to join) that will be led by PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller. Stay tuned for updates.

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

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ODOT will close sidewalk on St. Johns Bridge for two months

The sidewalks on the St. Johns Bridge are already extremely narrow and stressful.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation announced yesterday that a maintenance project on the St. Johns Bridge will result in the closure of one sidewalk for two months. ODOT will close one sidewalk for two, 30-day periods in order to stage construction equipment.

The project, which will reinforce the framework of the bridge to handle more and heavier auto and truck traffic, means bicycle users who use the sidewalks will share the narrow sidewalk space with more people than ever. This is a big deal because the sidewalks are only five feet wide and traffic around the St. Johns Bridge is notoriously unsafe.

This ODOT graphic is very misleading. The sharrows don’t look like that in real life. They are small, worn away, and very easy to miss when you’re in a car. And it’s mathematically and physically impossible for three people to use the sidewalk side-by-side.

Here’s how ODOT describes how the project will impact people who walk and bike:

The St. Johns Bridge will remain open to pedestrians and bicyclists during the project. People who walk, roll and ride bicycles on the sidewalks of the St. Johns bridge will share one sidewalk when the other sidewalk is closed for 30 days at a time for the duration of the 60-day project. There will be a temporary pedestrian access route to guide pedestrians and bicyclists on the sidewalk across the bridge during construction. People on bikes can also choose to ride in the vehicle travel lane.

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While drivers have more room than they need, people on foot and on bikes are forced to squeeze by each other.

When you account for shy distance next to the railing on one side and fast-moving drivers on the other, the bridge’s five-foot wide sidewalks feel like they’re just three feet wide. Communication with other sidewalk users on the bridge is difficult. Bike bells and audible warnings are often not heard due to the deafening roar of auto and truck traffic (not to mention all the people who wear headphones). I’m also concerned about how this sidewalk closure will lead to people crossing over the four bridge lanes to get to the other side.

Thankfully, ODOT said they will reduce the speed limit on the bridge from 35 to 25 mph during the project. The lower speed limit and presence of construction materials will hopefully cause people to drive more cautiously. The St. Johns Bridge does have sharrows, but many people don’t use them because people often drive 40 mph on the bridge. This speed differential (the incline to the center of the bridge span means many people can bike only 7-12 mph) makes it very stressful to “share the road”.

In official project materials ODOT recommends that people get off their bikes and walk before they overtake another sidewalk user.

Beyond the fact that bicycle users and walkers will be forced to share an already narrow space while automobile and truck users will still have all four lanes to use, the St. Johns Bridge is a sore spot for many Portlanders.

In 2005 ODOT undertook a major renovation of the bridge and had an opportunity to install bike lanes. The agency ignored the advice of advocates and a professional traffic study that said the bike lanes wouldn’t have a significant congestion impact and opted to preserve four lanes for driving. They reluctantly installed sharrows three years later. Today, this beautiful and iconic bridge — which serves as a popular and vital connection in Portland’s bike network — remains dangerous for everyone who uses it because ODOT has chosen to prioritize driving speeds and capacity above everything else.

Perhaps ODOT will come to their senses and at least offer a compromise by making the 25 mph speed limit permanent. A source tells us there was broad support for a lower speed limit when ODOT reps attended the St. Johns Neighborhood Association meeting last night. We’ll see.

We have yet to confirm the project start date. If you ride the bridge, please keep me posted with your experiences and work zone conditions.

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

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Bridge Pedal lures riders of all types to carfree highways

Bridge Pedal first-timers Lee and Chris brought visitors from Africa, Toumany and Ansou, along for the ride.
(Photos: Eric Thornburg)

Thousands of people took part in the 24th annual Bridge Pedal on Sunday.

We sent photographer Eric Thornburg out to catch some of the action. He captured a lot of smiles and his images showed the wide variety of people who take part in this cherished Portland tradition.

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Did you ride Bridge Pedal? How was it this year?

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

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Work has begun on new section of Marine Drive bike path

Coming along nicely. This view is looking west at Marine Drive near 185th.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland has embarked on a project that will give bicycle riders more separation from auto and truck drivers on Northeast Marine Drive.

Marine Drive straddles the Columbia River, is part of the fabled 40-Mile Loop and is a crucial east-west cycling connection to east Multnomah County and the Gorge. Unfortunately it’s also one of the city’s most dangerous roads. A designated “High Crash Corridor,” the Portland Bureau of Transportation has struggled for many years to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries to people who use it. Through Vision Zero and other programs, PBOT has reduced speed limits and installed automated speed cameras in an effort to slow drivers down and help them make better decisions.

The walking and rolling path on Marine Drive has nerve-wracking gaps east of I-205 that force bicycle riders to share this notorious roadway with other road users.

As we reported last year, PBOT has cobbled together about $1.8 million dollars to add better bike lanes (they’ll be buffered from 112nd to 185th), a traffic signal (at 122nd), flashing beacons (where the path crosses the road near 138th and 185th), and a new section of path. Earlier this week I checked out the progress on the new path.

View east as path climbs back up to what will soon be wider, buffered bike lanes on Marine Drive just before 18th.

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View looking west at end of new path segment at 185th.

The new path starts west of 185th. As you can see in our expertly prepared graphic (LOL), PBOT will add one of the new flashing beacons to better connect two existing segments of the path. The new segment will connect back to the main road at 185th. Unfortunately this project won’t close the remaining 0.6 mile gap east of 185th that remains before you get to the path at Interlachen Lane/Blue Lake Park. (Note that 185th is the Portland city limit.)

I look forward to seeing other parts of this project completed soon.

You can learn more about the gaps that remain on Marine Drive (and progress that has been made to close them) between Kelley Point Park and the Sandy River in this excellent presentation (PDF) by 40-Mile Loop advocate Jim Sjulin.

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

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Oregon Court of Appeals upholds bicycle riders’ right to pass on the right

The law allows you to pass another vehicle on the right, even if you’re on a bike.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court decision that found a bicycle rider guilty of passing on the right. The case is a rare interpretation of a bicycle-related statute from this upper court and it strengthens the rights of bicycle riders statewide.

Here’s what happened…

In September 2016, Ashland resident Nicholas Trygg was riding his bicycle in a bike lane as he approached an intersection. A bus operator in the lane to Trygg’s immediate left had passed him and signaled his intention to turn. At the intersection, Trygg continued straight and the bus operator turned across the bicycle lane. The two vehicle operators collided. The bus operator ran over Trygg’s leg and left him with permanent injuries.

Following the collision, an officer from the Ashland Police Department visited Trygg in the hospital and issued him a citation for violating Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 811.415, “unsafe passing on right.” The bus operator was not cited.

Trygg hired Portland attorney Charley Gee to contest the citation. After losing at trial in Ashland Municipal Court and at the Jackson County Circuit Court, Gee and his client appealed the decision. The Oregon Court of Appeals issued their opinion on August 3rd. Under Presiding Judge Darleen Ortega the Court of Appeals reversed the decisions of the lower courts and conceded that the state made a mistake by citing Trygg.

“The state concedes error,” the Court of Appeals stated in their opinion (PDF).

Here’s an excerpt from the ruling:

At trial, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing that he was permitted to pass the bus on the right under ORS 811.415(2)(b). The trial court denied that motion, concluding that defendant could only permissibly pass if it was safe to do so. Defendant appeals, and the state concedes that the trial court erred.

We agree with and accept the state’s concession. Under ORS 811.415(2), passing on the right is permitted “under any of the following circumstances,” one of which is when “the overtaken vehicle is proceeding along a roadway in the left lane of two or more clearly marked lanes allocated exclusively to vehicular traffic moving in the same direction as the overtaking driver.” A marked bicycle lane is a lane of travel for bicycles, ORS 801.155; ORS 814.420, and bicycles are vehicles for purposes of the vehicle code, ORS 814.400(2).

In this case, it is undisputed that defendant was riding in a clearly marked bicycle lane that was located to the right of the lane of travel of the bus and going in the same direction as the bus. Thus, the trial court erred in denying defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal.

Reversed.

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“I hope the government will keep this in mind when they try and apply the laws differently to road users on bikes or people walking. We will be around to challenge them no matter how many times we have to drive across the state and try a case.”
— Charle Gee, lawyer

The odd thing about this case is that the law is relatively clear. Section (2)(c) of ORS 811.415 states, “Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.” Despite that language, the State of Oregon argued against the bicycle rider.

It took a persistent and drawn-out effort from Gee, Eugene-based appellate lawyer Travis Eiva, and his client to prove their case. In an email to me last night, Gee wrote that it was a “long process.”

Here’s more from Gee:

“I tried the defense case twice: once to the Ashland Municipal Court and again to the Jackson County Circuit Court. In both trials the City of Ashland — despite being a League of American Bicyclists Gold Level City and despite the plain language of the law — insisted that the law applied to cyclists differently than to all other road users. And they persuaded a judge. Twice. It was a frustrating endeavor, especially as a trial lawyer.”

Gee says the ruling is important on several levels. While he’s not aware of Portland police issuing citations to bicycle riders for passing other vehicle operators on the right, he said it’s become somewhat common in Ashland and Corvallis. When or if it happens again, Gee says, “Any person cited in these circumstances can point to the Trygg case as precedent (so long as they know it exists).” “More useful though,” he continued, “is that advocates in places like Ashland can use it to educate law enforcement as to what the law is and hopefully prevent future citations.”

Beyond boosting the rights of bicycle riders and being a tool for advocates, Gee thinks the ruling will send a message to police officers and trial court judges. “I hope this shows there is a core group of attorneys here in Oregon that will take these types of cases on despite the costs and time commitments. I hope the government will keep this in mind when they try and apply the laws differently to road users on bikes or people walking. We will be around to challenge them no matter how many times we have to drive across the state and try a case.”

You can read the full opinion here (PDF).

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

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