US National

California Resolution Will Create More Outdoor Spaces at Schools

Planetizen - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 3:00pm
The California government passed a new resolution this summer promoting green schoolyards statewide. It builds on previous state policies and unites a wide array of green city planning and education efforts under a single "Living Schoolyard" theme.
Categories: US National

How Can D.C. be the Coolest City in America if Everyone Hates Hipsters So Much?

Planetizen - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 1:00pm
In which parking minimums figure heavily in a polemic regarding the nature of cool.
Categories: US National

Chicago Metra Rail Stuggles with High Rates of Suicide

Planetizen - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 11:00am
Chicago's Metra commuter rail service has a big problem on its hands: Distressed people are resorting to using train tracks to end their lives at a higher rate than in other major cities. Would partnering with a suicide-hotline agency stem the tide?
Categories: US National

Plan Maps the Best (and Worst) of Future Road Construction

Planetizen - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 9:00am
A new study published in the journal Nature maps out a plan for the development of roads around the world—where roads should be avoided due to their environmental costs, and where they can be built to maximize their potential benefit to humanity.
Categories: US National

London's Height Debate Reaches Fever Pitch

Planetizen - Sat, 08/30/2014 - 7:00am
In the midst of a building boom and expecting another 1.4 million residents to live in the city by 2031, London is embroiled in a debate about how it should meet housing demands.
Categories: US National

Comment of the Week: A little perspective on city rankings

BikePortland - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 5:31pm

Like best-guitarist-of-all-time rankings, best-bike-city rankings are mostly just for fun. But in a week when Portland reportedly got a serious demotion from the granddaddy of bike rankings, reader MaxD’s reaction probably spoke for a lot of us.

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Here it is:

I am going to ride across the WIllamette, down Front>Kittredge>30> Saltzman where I will ride through the lovely, cool Forest Park to Skyline, descend Germantown, back over the Willamette with views of Mt Hood and Mt St Helens, and home via Willamette Blvd enjoying views of the river and the west hills. I would not rather be riding in New York, Chicago, or Minneapolis, despite the ranking.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone. Jonathan and I are both out of town until Monday evening — see you Tuesday.

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Categories: US National

Safety advocates win on Clinton: city installs barricades during Division detour

BikePortland - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 4:50pm
The city’s two new temporary barricades at 26th and Clinton created a visual cue that reduced detour traffic onto the SE Clinton Street bike boulevard.(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Hours before a pair of protest rides were planned to start, the City of Portland on Friday used light barricades to reduce through auto traffic on Clinton Street during the remaining week of a detour for eastbound traffic on Division.

Portland Bureau of Environmental Services spokesman Joseph Annett circulated the revised detour plans in an email at 12:45 p.m. Friday.

“Woohoo!” Alex Reed, the organizer of a group of concerned Clinton Street users, wrote in an email to the group Friday afternoon. “We won our short-term goal.”

Reed’s group, which developed from a conversation on this site and held its first meeting last weekend, had drawn more than 20 riders to an earlier protest ride on Tuesday, attracting TV coverage. They followed up with an open letter asking for temporary diverters and a long-term change to city detour policies.

In a phone interview, Reed said a 4 pm ride on Clinton Friday afternoon would be changed from a protest to a celebration.

“We’re going to say ‘thank you PBOT’ and talk about the long-term goal of changing the city’s construction protocols for diversion to bikeways,” Reed said. “I’m imagining that we would ride up and down the section where it’s closed eastbound to autos to revel in how lovely it is, and then maybe go somewhere for ice cream.”

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The city had initially planned to direct all Division Street traffic onto Clinton during the two-week detour, which is required because of drainage and walking improvements to Division. Last week, the city changed that plan by installing electric signs that direct traffic to Powell at 11th Avenue. But the city had until today declined to install any infrastructure on the Clinton roadway itself.

Bike Loud PDX founder Alex Reed made local TV headlines in his group’s first-ever protest action.

Even without the detour, Clinton Street in the 10s, 20s and 30s has been carrying more than 3,000 motor vehicles per day, which is the maximum national standard for any stretch of bicycle boulevard. Some people who walk and bike on Clinton have been urging the city to install physical diverters that prevent through traffic on what’s intended to be an all-ages street.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocate Carl Larson, who has been communicating periodically with city officials since last year in an effort to increase attention to bikes during construction detours, credited the group Reed organized for helping focus the city’s attention.

“I think PBOT succumbed to our ongoing pressure to improve its work zones, coupled with excellent work on behalf of a new crop of activists,” Larson said. “We hope that the city will see that it would have been cheaper and less embarrassing to do this right the first time.”

A large group of riders set the pace on Clinton during a protest ride on Tuesday.(Photo by Hart Noecker/Rebel Metropolis)

Gerald Fittipaldi, who joined Friday’s celebration ride, said the barriers “made an impact, too. There weren’t many cars on there.”

Doug Klotz, a longtime resident and Richmond Neighborhood Association leader who biked past the barriers at 5 p.m., called it a victory for street activism.

“You just need to have a bunch of people out making a bunch of noise,” he said.

For his part, Reed said that after this afternoon’s celebration ride, the agenda for the new advocacy group is to meet one week from Sunday at a location to be determined.

“We’ll probably decide on the name and a draft identity or mission statement kind of thing,” said Reed, who lives in the Foster-Powell area and bike-commutes downtown daily via Clinton. “And I would like us to start searching for the next action. … I’m hoping that the next action will be at an outlying or underserved area to show the group’s commitment to equity.”

If you’d like to connect to the group, contact Reed at or request to join its Google group.

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Categories: US National

World's Largest Dam Removal Project Complete in Washington State

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 4:00pm
Here's a comeback story for the ages: The Elwha River in Washington, dammed for the production of hydroelectric power for almost a century, runs wild again.
Categories: US National

The Danger of Federal Money for Local Projects

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 3:00pm
Scott Beyer provides four reasons why federal money is the wrong policy mechanism for delivering the best possible transportation outcomes in the United States.
Categories: US National

Planning for Rural Minnesota's 'Brain Gain'

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 2:00pm
While the share of Americans living in rural communities is decreasing relative to the overall population, some rural areas, such as the Willmar lakes area in Minnesota, have managed to attract young residents.
Categories: US National

BTA throws weight behind five new greenways east of 205

BikePortland - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 1:34pm
BTA advocate Elizabeth Quiroz talks greenways at the BTA members meeting this month.(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Fourth in a week-long series about the BTA’s five new advocacy campaigns.

Of the five new Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocacy campaigns we’re examining this week, the only one that’s almost certain to succeed is east of Interstate 205.

That’s because it represents official BTA backing for five new stretches of a relatively cheap, uncontroversial type of bikeway — neighborhood greenways, the low-traffic side streets that have sharrows, speed bumps, 20 mph limits, wayfinding and comfortable crossings of major streets — that are already enshrined in the city’s popular East Portland in Motion plan and already have the support of the extremely effective advocates at the East Portland Action Plan.

That’s not to say East Portland advocates aren’t glad to have the BTA’s help improving these 12 miles of streets.

“We’re just really pleased that it is on their top agenda,” EPAP Advocate Lore Wintergreen said in an interview.

Wintergreen, who managed the city’s Safe Routes to School program before becoming a full-time advocate for East Portland, said she’d been reminded of the importance of basic, safe bikeways east of I-205 when she’d been headed home via Northeast Halsey, a key east/west freeway crossing that has no bike lanes.

“In midday, so we’re talking about 3:30, I counted 15 bike riders,” she said. “And looking at the faces of those bike riders, they were diverse people.”

Five connections to the spine: I-205 The BTA’s map of its top-priority greenways for East Portland, marked in green.

All five greenways in the BTA’s and EPIM’s sights all plug into the I-205 path and therefore the TriMet Green MAX Line. Here are the descriptions, taken from the city’s East Portland in Motion document:

Parkrose: Connecting the 205 path and Gateway Green (between I-205 and I-84) to NE Sandy and 115th, including a new multi-use path on the south side of Fremont between 102nd and 112th.

Knott/Russell: Connecting NE Knott and 102nd to NE 162nd and Russell, past the University of Western States, Margaret Scott Elementary and the Summerplace assisted living community. This would include crossing improvements at 102nd, 122nd and 148th.

Woodland Park: Connecting NE 99th and Multnomah, near Gateway Transit Center, north-northeast through the currently auto-oriented commercial area to NE Tillamook and 108th, including two short protected bike lane connections and an offset crossing improvement at 102nd.

4M: One of the biggest missing pieces in East Portland infrastructure, this 4.2-mile greenway would run along Market, Mill, Millmain and Main from the I-205 path past David Douglas high school to the city limit just past SE 174th.

Holladay Oregon Pacific: This route weaves from Gateway Transit Center, past Winco, on the neighborhood streets south of Halsey east to the 130s Greenway and Holladay Park East. It’d include crossing improvements at Pacific and 102nd and Holladay and 122nd.

Thanks to years of advocacy from East Portlanders, the city seems to be strongly behind all these improvements: when the Portland Bureau of Transportation released a list of possible projects to be associated with its proposed street fee, these five were the top of the list.

Elizabeth Quiroz, the BTA’s lead staffer on this project, said this month that getting these projects done is mostly a matter of finding the money. She expects a wave of state support to greatly improve biking and walking along Southeast Powell; for the moment, these greenways are the counterpart to that work on the north side of East Portland.

<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>--> Quick take: BikePortland’s summary of the project A BTA illustration of a neighborhood greenway.

Where the idea came from: East Portland neighborhood advocates wrestled these routes into Portland’s 2010 bike plan, but they’ve been delayed by the city’s decision to slice funding for neighborhood greenways. Wintergreen, the city-paid advocate for East Portland investments, has coordinated volunteers and coalition partners including the BTA to get them funded.

What it might cost: Quiroz estimates the total cost at $2,290.000.

Obstacles: If Mayor Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick can find a third vote on Portland City Council for a street fee or similar revenue proposal that includes “safety” as well as “maintenance” improvements, these look like a shoo-in sometime in the next few years. If not, they’ll join the ongoing scramble for state and federal grants. But Wintergreen predicts that there’s a “100 percent” chance that these will all be complete within five years, one way or another.

How you could help: Contact Quiroz: 971-231-5686,, or the EPAPbike Subcommittee.

Check back next week for the final post in our series about new advocacy campaigns.

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Categories: US National

Streetscape Overhaul Opens on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 1:00pm
Broadway in Los Angeles is the historic lifeline of Downtown and a key corridor in the ongoing renaissance of the neighborhood. Yesterday the city opened a brightly colored, pedestrian-friendly, vehicle-lane-reducing makeover of the street.
Categories: US National

Do the 'Art Everywhere' Billboards Support Art, or Advertising?

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 12:00pm
With so many eyes trained obsessively on mobile phones, the outdoor industry is supporting a campaign to place famous art on billboards around the country. Will people notice? Should they?
Categories: US National

Jobs of the Week

BikePortland - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 11:01am

Looking for your next professional adventure? Two opportunities were added to our Job Listings this week. Check them out via the links below…

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For a complete list of available jobs, click here. If you’d like more information about the BikePortland Job Listings, contact us, or visit the Job Listings page.

You can sign up for all the latest job listings via RSS, email, or by following us on Twitter.

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Categories: US National

'Hidden Gas Tax' or Not—California's Cap and Trade Policy Starts a New Era

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 11:00am
Will California gas station see queues at their pumps on December 31 as motorists seek their last fill-up before gas prices soar 15 cents per gallon, as AB 69 supporters warned? The bill died in the state legislature on August 22.
Categories: US National

The Ridership Benefits of Infill Stations—Coming Soon to the MBTA Orange Line

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:00am
Yonah Freemark writes of the value of infill stations—new transit stations built on existing lines—for increasing transit ridership. Somerville, outside of Boston, will provide the latest example when it opens a station on the Orange Line next week.
Categories: US National

Cleveland Still Pondering Makeover for the Public Square

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 9:00am
A plan to shut down streets around Cleveland's Public Square and make it a pedestrian friendly civic space has prompted many commenters to call for revisions to the plan, especially with regard to the square's heavy bus transit capacity.
Categories: US National

St. Petersburg, Florida Launches Downtown Waterfront Master Plan

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:00am
St. Petersburg is one of those lucky few cities granted the benefits of a downtown waterfront setting in a warm climate. But what will that waterfront look like in the future?
Categories: US National

Where Have all the Affordable Cities Gone?

Planetizen - Fri, 08/29/2014 - 7:00am
Angie Schmitt follows up on an earlier report by the Citizen's Budget Commission that made an argument for the affordability of cities like New York City, with it's large network of cheap transportation.
Categories: US National

Magazine demotes Portland to nation’s #4 bike city

BikePortland - Thu, 08/28/2014 - 6:49pm
Traffic on Portland’s 122nd Avenue in June 2014.(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)


Dirk VanderHart of the Portland Mercury broke the news this afternoon after checking his mailbox: in Bicycling magazine’s periodic ranking of the country’s best bike cities, Portland has tumbled from first to fourth since 2012.

It’s our lowest ranking in 20 years. Bicycling named Portland as the nation’s best bike city in 1999, 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2012. In 2010, when Minneapolis edged Portland into second place, Jonathan wrote that we “usually don’t make much out of the various rankings that come out, but Bicycling has been doing theirs for longer than anyone else and Portland’s #1 ranking has become a cornerstone of our reputation.”

Here’s the magazine’s new top 10, as reported by VanderHart:

1. New York 2. Chicago 3. Minneapolis 4. Portland 5. Washington 6. Boulder, Colo. 7. San Francisco 8. Seattle 9. Fort Collins, Colo. 10. Cambridge, Mass.

Here’s the previous Bicycling ranking, from 2012:

1. Portland 2. Minneapolis 3. Boulder, Colo. 4. Washington 5. Chicago 6. Madison 7. New York City 8. San Francisco 9. Eugene 10. Seattle

This year’s ranking hasn’t been published on Bicycling’s website yet.

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Among major U.S. cities, Portland is still a head above its closest competitor, Minneapolis, when it comes to the percentage of residents who bike to work. According to the U.S. Census, the bike-commute rate is about 6.1 percent in Portland, 4.5 percent in Minneapolis. In New York it’s 1 percent; in Chicago, 1.6 percent.

But as we wrote last month, that ratio is actually a pretty dumb way to compare one city to another, because it depends so completely on where a city’s borders happen to fall. If Portland suddenly de-annexed the area east of Interstate 205, its borders would shrink to the size of Minneapolis or Washington DC and its bike-commuting ratio would shoot up to 10 percent — but nothing would have changed for the better.

What the Census figure is good at is measuring whether any given city is changing year by year. Since 2009, Portland is not. (Neither, for the record, is Minneapolis.) Most other major U.S. cities have been.

Source: Census American Community Survey. Image by BikePortland.

So in some ways, an arbitrary and subjective ranking methodology like Bicycling’s is more appropriate than the Census method. And maybe that’s why people pay so much attention to it even though it’s mostly silly. Whatever you think of the merits of the ranking, expect to hear a lot about it from many news outlets — not to mention any friends you might have in New York, Chicago and Minneapolis — for the next few years.

Why did Portland’s biking progress stall — and more importantly, what will bring it back? Since this May, when we used the city’s decision to erase a mural declaring itself as “America’s Bicycle Capital” as a way to write about this problem, we’ve been hosting a community conversation about how Portland will return to the place we all know it can become: an example to the country and, eventually, to the whole world.

Stay tuned for the next installment in that series — and consider getting in touch to contribute your own thoughts, or adding them below. I’m, and Portland’s next No. 1 ranking is ahead of us.

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Categories: US National