Showdown looms for major bike parking policy update

Hot off the presses.

Portland has adopted goals to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent (Climate Action Plan), make 70 percent of trips by something other than driving alone (Comprehensive Plan), and reach a 25 percent cycling usage rate (Transportation System Plan) by 2035.

To reach these goals we must have ample, accessible, and secure bicycle parking available citywide. And it was with these goals in mind that the City of Portland embarked on their Bicycle Parking Code Update project in 2016. Our existing code hasn’t had a wholesale update since 1996 when about 200,000 fewer people lived here and our official bicycle commute mode split was a measly 1.2 percent (it’s at around 7 percent today).

But the city’s proposals have run up against concerns from real estate developers and our local chamber of commerce. Companies and organizations that construct housing and office buildings worry they’ll lose money if they devote too much space to bicycle parking. Precious square footage in Portland’s hot real estate market can be put to more valuable use, they argue, as retail space or more housing units. The Portland Business Alliance echoes those concerns and says current bicycling rates are so low they don’t even merit the need for more bike parking.

“As for the cost of doing this…I’m equally interested in the cost of not doing this.”
— Chris Smith, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner

At the heart of the code update is an increase in the number of long (employee) and short-term (visitor) spaces new buildings will be required to have. The new policy brings the minimum amount of spaces for a residential building to 1.5 per unit (up from 1) and 1 space per 1,800 square feet for office buildings in the central city (there are two geographic tiers based on different cycling mode split expectations).

Several proposals didn’t make it into the final draft of changes. A requirement for electrical outlets to charge e-bikes was passed over after staff realized it fit better in the building code instead of the zoning code and there’s also a chance it could be included in an upcoming city effort to improve EV charging. You can see a one-page summary of the proposed changes here (PDF).

The most contentious aspects of the city’s proposal have to do with “in-unit” requirements and affordable housing.

The current code allows developers to put all the required bike parking inside the dwelling unit. During their outreach process, PBOT learned that some builders would simply stick a cheap hook next to bed or in a crowded corner to meet the requirement. And some residents complained about losing their damage deposits after bringing wet, greasy bikes into rooms.



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Blue is what current code requires, red is new proposal.

With support from the 2030 Bike Plan, which recommended prohibiting in-unit residential bike parking altogether, PBOT initially proposed that none of the required, long-term parking could be provided within a unit. But according to the proposed draft, PBOT staff “heard loud and clear from the development community” that this policy was untenable. If developers are forced to use square footage outside units for bike parking they say they’ll lose money that could otherwise be earned from having more retail or residential space.

PBOT and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability conducted a “Bicycle Parking Spatial and Economic Study” (in a memo you can find on page 64 of this PDF) that found the proposed bike parking requirement scenarios could result in a decrease in net operating income of between 1 and 4 percent.

So they’ve come to a compromise. The current proposal states that 20 percent of the long-term parking can be providing inside dwelling units (if certain standards for quality and access are met). “This proposal moves toward the Bicycle Plan policy goal,” states the draft proposal, “while still responding to the concerns from the development community.”

Then affordable housing advocates and companies got wind of the proposal. They worried that the mandate for 80 percent of long-term parking to be outside the unit would result in fewer housing units being built and — because of the more stringent regulations they work under — could even jeopardize entire projects.

“While there’s a recognition of the need to provide affordable transportation options for residents, there were concerns on how to balance these objectives with the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”
— Liz Hormann, PBOT

PBOT project manager Liz Hormann presented the proposal at the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission meeting yesterday. “While there’s a recognition of the need to provide affordable transportation options for residents,” she said, “there were concerns on how to balance these objectives with the overwhelming need for affordable housing.”

PBOT has reacted to that need by carving out an exemption. The latest proposal says up to 50 percent of the spaces in an affordable housing development can be in-unit. And for sites with 10 units or less, all of the required long-term spaces can be inside the unit.

This backpedal has raised eyebrows of several PSC members. Commissioner Chris Smith sees a clear line between quality bike parking and our mode share goals. “It’s not sufficient to just build bikeways, we also have to have end-of-trip facilities,” he said during yesterday’s meeting. He called the current in-unit bike parking policy a “strange artifact of our code” that we should have axed in the 1990s. Smith thinks in-unit bike parking doesn’t encourage cycling and he wants city policy to strongly discourage developers from providing it. “What we’re doing is reducing our requirements by 20 percent and saying you only have to build 80 percent of what’s needed to reach our goals,” he said.

In response to PBOT economic analysis, Smith said, “As for the cost of doing this…I’m equally interested in the cost of not doing this.”

Comment on the Proposed Draft

  • Click the “Testify” button on the Map App
  • Send snail mail to Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, Bicycle Parking Testimony, 1900 SW 4th Ave., Ste. 7100 Portland, OR 97201
  • Attend public hearing 1/22/19, 5:00 pm at 1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 2500 (2nd Floor)

Official project website.

Smith also thinks an exemption for affordable housing is the wrong way to go. “I think what we’re doing there is just providing substandard bicycle parking for the households that need access to affordable transportation most. That’s the single thing in this proposal that troubles me the most.”

And he has support among the PSC. Three other commissioners echoed his concerns. PSC Chair Katherine Schultz said the affordable housing exemption is, “Curious and unfortunate.” “I get we’re trying to balance all these competing goals, but it absolutely seems of all places that’s where we need to accommodate bikes.”

Portland Business Alliance President and CEO Andrew Hoan disagrees. In a letter sent to PBOT and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in October, he cited Portland’s recent cycling plateau. “While we agree more can be done to encourage this mode of transportation… imposing rigid requirements around rack design, placement and security are not an effective answer to the problem,” he wrote. Here’s more from Hoan’s letter:

“… ground floor bicycle parking requirements can cool nearby retail activity as they are now competing uses for limited ground floor space. Our other concern with this proposed update is with the level of detail in the code change, the square footage that it would needlessly consume in buildings, and specific requirements developers are being asked to adhere to. The current proposal would require portions of buildings be used for unused bicycle parking stalls that would be better utilized for needed housing and/or retail and associated employment. While we recognize that transportation costs are, on average, the second highest cost for households in our area, this proposal also has the potential to negatively impact affordable housing, assisted living and retail developments. Low-income communities are the most reliant on their personal vehicles; monthly mass transit passes are not affordable for many Portlanders. Housing and mixed use developers must have as much rentable or saleable space as possible in order to make their projects pencil out financially – if not, housing costs will increase and housing supply will not meet demand. At a time when our city is experiencing a housing emergency, this proposal seems to run counter to efforts to make living here more affordable.”

Schultz and the rest of the PSC is likely to hear more from developers and business interests when the Bike Parking Code Update is back in front of them for a public hearing on January 22nd.

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

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Commish Eudaly’s office works with police to solve “deliberate act” of nails in Interstate Ave bike lanes

It’s taken years of complaints but it seems we’ve finally the attention of city officials on a recurring bike lane safety issue that might have a malicious origin.

The case of nails being strewn in the bike lane on North Interstate Avenue has gone unsolved for years. Now the police and a city commissioner are on the case.

We first reported about this in March 2017, but that wasn’t when the problem started. A quick search of Twitter posts shows that complaints go back to 2012. Someone tagged the Portland Bureau of Transportation with a complaint about it in September 2016 (who then forwarded it to the maintenance department).

In January 2018, the issue received its own Twitter account when @InterstateNails was born.

With several nail incidents at the end of last year, KATU-TV reporter (and daily bicycle rider) Reed Andrews gave the issue much-needed visibility.

After the most recent frustrating flare-up in flats, we heard from a staffer in PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office. Margaux Weeke wanted us to know the issue was on their radar and that they’d reached out to PBOT and the Portland Police Bureau to ask about how/if it was being managed. “The problem isn’t falling on deaf ears,” Weeke promised.



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After the holiday break we got an update from Weeke. She said PPB officers had been cycling on Interstate to get a closer look at the two-mile stretch between Lloyd and Greeley where the nails most commonly appear. Weeke forwarded comments from the PPB about their findings. “At first we thought it was maybe construction debris,” they wrote, “but at this point it seems to be a deliberate act.”

Notes from the PPB investigation also say days and times the nails appear are random and that they’ve noted a variety of types including roofing and framing nails.

Their investigation into this issue is still in progress and hasn’t yielded major clues at this point.

While the problem still isn’t solved, it’s good to know that at least City Hall, the PPB, and PBOT are working together on this. We’ll keep you posted if they make any breakthroughs. In the meantime, please tag us on Twitter if you find any nails.

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

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TriMet says denial of tricycle as mobility device is supported by federal regulations

This three-wheeled handcycle isn’t allowed on MAX trains.

Last month we shared the story of activists who spoke out at a TriMet board meeting about their desire to take adult tricycles on light rail cars.

Current TriMet policy allows only two-wheeled bicycles on MAX. Portlander Serenity Ebert, one of the people who testified at the TriMet meeting, uses a trike as a mobility device and she’s pushing the agency to change its policy so that she and others can have the same access as other bicycle users.

Ebert has requested a formal exception based on her condition, but TriMet denied it on the grounds that she can use a walker instead of the trike in order to access MAX. As follow-up to our previous story, I asked TriMet if they would have allowed Ebert’s tricycle if she was unable to use her walker. Here’s the response from agency PIO Tim Becker:

“Any specific request would be need to be fully investigated on its own merit. That said, I can tell you that if Ms. Ebert was not able to use her walker, her request to use the tricycle as a mobility device would still be denied right now because that violates current policy. The Federal Transportation [sic] Administration currently uses tricycles (and bicycles) as a specific example of a ‘device not primarily designed to assist individuals with mobility impairments’.



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Becker then pointed me to the US Department of Transportation official guidance on the ADA and the definition of a wheelchair. “The definition does not include devices not intended for indoor use (e.g., golf carts or all-terrain vehicles),” reads the guidance, “or devices not primarily designed to assist individuals with mobility impairments (e.g., bicycles or tricycles).”

Asked how the community might persuade TriMet to change their stance on the issue, Becker said the agency is always reviewing plans and policies and remains open to feedback through avenues like their recently adopted Bike Plan. In general however, TriMet isn’t likely to budget on the tricycle issue. Even when plans come up for review, Becker said, “Historically, these reviews haven’t resulted in changes to allow larger devices largely due to space constraints, and the need for others to be able to safely move about the MAX train.”

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

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“The Car” movie has the scariest trailer I’ve ever seen

Movie poster from Universal Pictures.
Scroll down to watch the trailer.

“Evil has many forms, now it returns as, The Car.

A car possessed. Who knows what it wants? They all know nothing can stop… The Car.

There’s nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide. No way to stop, The Car.

What evil force drives, The Car?”

Happy Friday everyone! It’s good to be back in the swing of things after the holiday. I hope your new year is living up to the hype so far.

Before we part for the weekend, I want to share an amazing relic of our car-centric culture with you: The trailer for a 1977 movie called, The Car. I had never heard of this film until my brother sent me a link to the trailer (below). It’s an extraordinary relic of American car culture…



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Isn’t that amazing? Meant as a cheesy horror film, this thing gives me all sorts of chills — especially in today’s world of zombie-like distracted drivers and AVs.

I didn’t watch the entire film, but the Wikipedia page says one scene depicts the demonic Lincoln Continental Mark III taking out two innocent bicycle riders trying to pedal across a high bridge.

And yes, I’ve already sent it to our friends at The War On Cars Podcast.

Try not to have nightmares!

See you back here Monday morning.

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

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Jobs of the Week: Castelli, Sellwood Cycle Repair, Community Cycling Center, Left Coast Bicycles Mobile Shop

We’ve had five great job opportunities posted since just before the holiday break. Get to ’em while they’re still fresh!

Learn more about each one via the links below…

–> Senior Graphic Designer – Castelli

–> Mechanic – Sellwood Cycle Repair

–> Retail Specialist – Community Cycling Center

–> Bike Mechanic – Community Cycling Center

–> Part Time Mechanic – Left Coast Bicycles Mobile Shop



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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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State Rep Rob Nosse says he supports Gideon Overcrossing at 14th Avenue

An Oregon state legislator wants to clarify his position on a controversial plan to build a bridge for bikers and walkers over rail tracks in southeast Portland.

TriMet concept drawing of the overcrossing. Koerner Camera Systems is in upper left.

After being informed by TriMet that they’d lose federal funding if the Gideon Overcrossing doesn’t get built on SE 14th as currently planned, Representative Rob Nosse says he supports that location — despite major concerns voiced by adjacent business owners.

As we’ve reported, Nosse wrote a letter to TriMet and the City of Portland on December 10th (PDF) asking them to consider moving the bridge to a different location. “I don’t think your planning is so far along that you could not consider an alternative,” Nosse wrote, after meeting with owners of Koerner Camera Systems, Sustainable Northwest Wood, and K&F Coffee. Nosse also felt that moving the bridge would be an “appropriate compromise” given the opposition.

Led by Michael Koerner of Koerner Camera Systems, businesses on 14th Avenue including Rapid Bind, Cascade Commercial Real Estate, and Dovydenas Winery, have organized against this project based on how they perceive the presence of a bridge — especially one that would cater solely to walkers and bikers — would impact public safety and access to their properties. Koerner has hired a land-use attorney who made a request for additional environmental review to the regional head of the Federal Transit Administration last month.

TriMet and PBOT both say no further study of the site is needed and they want to move forward. (A TriMet spokesperson told us today they’ve met with FTA officials and that, “the message was clear that no additional NEPA work is necessary and that we’d lose funding if we move the bridge.” Unfortunately, TriMet wasn’t able to provide documentation of that meeting.)

Rep. Nosse contacted BikePortland this morning after reading our story in the Southeast Examiner newspaper (where it was re-published with my permission). He was concerned I mischaracterized his position. Here’s what he shared in an email today:

“I wrote a letter to Tri-Met and PBOT asking if the pedestrian bridge could be moved to 16th street or even 8th street, thinking that this kind of compromise would help Mr. Koerner and his business and still allow for the bridge to be built.



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Since then, I have been informed by Tri-Met and PBOT that moving the bridge to a different location will result in the withholding of the money that the Federal Government is granting for the bridge project. In short, if we move the bridge there will be no money to build the bridge at all. If the choice is a bridge that utilizes 14th Avenue or no bridge at all, I would of course support the bridge being built at the 14th street location.

Hopefully it can be built/designed in a way that does not hurt Koerner Camera’s business.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition has written a letter (PDF) to PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly urging her to approve the project “as soon as possible.” They say the business owners’ concerns can be mitigated and that further delays risks losing out on $15 million in federal funding.

For his part, Koerner wants a formal public process to be re-opened. “Safety concerns are real,” he shared with me in an email today. “Bicycle, pedestrian, train, and vehicular transportation circumstances have changed at and around this location since the public review process occurred nearly a decade ago… The businesses along SE 14th and other interested stakeholders have raised concerns that should be examined in a public process, not bullied into silence by fear-mongering about federal funding.”

To hear from other business owners and learn more about this project, don’t miss the robust discussion in the comment section of our previous post.

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

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City, state will team up for new bikeway and signal on Lombard

Latest concept drawing for new crossing of North Lombard at Fenwick/Concord. Note that “access control” likely refers to closing or narrowing driveways of adjacent properties.

The Concord Avenue neighborhood greenway has only one gap in its 2.4 mile route between Overlook Park and North Argyle Street in the Kenton neighborhood: the offset crossing of Lombard Street (a.k.a. Highway 30). But with a new agreement between the Oregon Department of Transportation (they own and manage Lombard) and the Portland Bureau of Transportation, that gap will soon be filled.

The two agencies recently hashed out an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) so that PBOT could do the work to build a new crossing that will link Concord on the south side of Lombard with Fenwick to the north. It’s a much-needed upgrade to an intersection isn’t as safe as it should be. Not only is this a designated neighborhood greenway route, but it’s a popular connector between two neighborhoods (Arbor Lodge and Kenton) and there’s a high school directly adjacent to it.

Streetview looking west on Lombard. Concord is on the left, the half-signal and Fenwick are in the background.



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The gap.

The existing crossing infrastructure — known as a pedestrian half-signal — is also not compliant with federal guidelines. A half-signal exists when there’s a standard traffic signal for the major road, but only stop signs for the minor roads. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) explicitly prohibits the use of half-signals due to safety concerns. Studies have shown that when someone actuates the traffic signal on the main road, drivers from the side-street think it’s an opportunity to turn and they don’t realize (or they don’t see) the people in the crosswalk. As of 2015, Portland had 47 such signals and because they’re not recommended by the MUTCD, we haven’t installed one since 1986.

PBOT plans to spend $2 million in Transportation System Development Charges to improve this crossing. In addition to the full signal upgrade they plan to add ADA improvements to the curbs and sidewalk, and create a new bike lane on Lombard. As you can see in the latest concept drawing, the plan is to stripe an unprotected, five-feet wide eastbound bike lane and create a westbound bike lane on the sidewalk for the short distance between Concord and the crossing at Fenwick.

As you can see in the cross-sections below, the bike lanes would be separated by a two-foot buffer. The space to add them would come from an existing planted median on the sidewalk and from narrowing one of the existing lanes:

(Graphic: ODOT)

Longtime readers will recall that we first mentioned an improvement at this crossing in 2010.

PBOT Communications Director John Brady said today that with the IGA with ODOT now signed, they can move onto final design work. It will be a few months yet until we get an estimated date of completion. Stay tuned.

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

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Bike shop news roundup: New shop, new owners, and more break-ins

Tom Martin is the new ower of TomCat Bikes on SE Milwaukie in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

They say the only constant is change; and that’s certainly true for Portland bike shops.

In 2018 we saw several high-profile closures with 21st Avenue Bicycles, Velo Cult and all three Performance Bicycle locations closing their doors.

But the news wasn’t all bad: A new shop opened on Mt. Hood and Golden Pliers, that opened in June on North Skidmore at Interstate, has quickly become a favorite of many.

We’re sure to see more evolution in the local bike shop scene this year. Before we get too behind on this beat, I wanted to share a few news updates that have been accumulating in my notebook…

Tuite Bicycle Repair changes hands
Tommy Tuite opened Tuite Bicycle Repair in September 2015 and he recently decided to move on. Tommy and his family have moved out of the north Portland neighborhood served by his small — but very awesome! — shop. Tommy earned many loyal customers for his professional and caring work. It’s sad to see him go. The good news is that he’s moved to the east Portland neighborhood of Gateway and tells us there’s a good chance he will fire up another small bike shop closer to his new home once he gets settled and finds the right location. The Gateway area can definitely use another great bike shop. Good luck Tommy!

The North Tabor neighborhood has a new bike shop!
(Photo: Mount Tabor Cyclery on Instagram)

But wait, there’s more good news! Tommy has handed over the keys to the shop to Rachel Cameron, a professional mechanic and experienced racer who plans to keep it going. Stay tuned for more once she gets all moved in

New shop on E Burnside and 55th 
Mount Tabor Cyclery opened late last fall in the corner space of the shopping center on the south side of East Burnside and 55th. Owner Winona Ruth lives in the neighborhood and has worked as a bike mechanic for over 10 years. The shop opens at 7:00 am on weekdays for those of who commute or just like to get things done on the early-side.



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WTF Bikes is now TomCat Bikes
Tom “TomCat” Martin has taken over the shop formerly known as WTF Bikes. WTF opened in 2009 and its owner Tom Daly sold to Martin last fall. Martin is a bike industry and bike shop veteran (formerly of The e-Bike Store), but this is his first time running his own shop. During a visit in November, he told me the plan is to focus on service, entry-level commuter bikes, and rental for big events like Pedalpalooza and the Portland Winter Light Festival. Martin is also a Burning Man veteran and official Black Rock Ranger, so if you need a “Playa bike,” TomCat is the place to go. Check out TomCatBikes.com.

Multiple break-ins at Gladys Bikes
Gladys owner Leah Benson had a roller-coaster end to 2018. After celebrating five years in business and re-upping her NE Alberta Street lease for another five, she was hit by thieves twice in one week. As she reported on Twitter, someone stole an e-bike off the showroom floor on Christmas Eve. Then they (or someone else?) returned two nights later and broke in through one of the shop’s main front windows. Fortunately they didn’t get any bikes on the second try, but it’s a big hit for a small shop during the slowest time of the season.

Neighborhood shops are a vital part of our local cycling ecosystem. Support yours today!

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

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Family Biking: Share your new bike stories!

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

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

Our Family Biking column is sponsored by Clever Cycles.

➤ Read past entries here.

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

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



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

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

Happy holidays everyone!

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

Remember, we’re always looking for people to profile. Get in touch if it sounds like fun to you. I’d especially like to feature families of color so please get in touch or ask friends of color who bike with their kids if they’re interested in sharing their stories. And as always, feel free ask questions in the comments below or email me your story ideas and insights at madidotcom [at] gmail [dot] com.

— Madi Carlson, @familyride on Instagram and Twitter

Browse past Family Biking posts here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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