Don't ever accuse Rep. Earl Blumenauer of not thinking big. Accompanying his gas tax increase bill, he has proposed a bill to study ways to charge drivers by the miles they drive. One takes care of the funding problem now, the other in the future.
Completed about every 15 years, Madrid's General Urban Plan sets out a long-term vision for the city's development. The newest iteration replaces a "dud" from 1997 that has "dogged the city for years," reports Feargus O'Sullivan.
Frost on the Esplanade floating path yesterday morning. (Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
How are you dealing with the cold conditions?
We've had record-setting cold temps this week (and they're not over yet) and we're curious how everyone is coping. Have you figured out a way to stay warm? Or have you ditched the bike altogether for the warmth of the MAX, bus, or your car?
Yesterday PBOT issued a warning about icy spots on the Hawthorne Bridge deck. Have you seen other danger spots that folks should know about?<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
If you are new to biking and you're looking for some tips, check out the 100+ comments full of great advice from a post we did during a cold spell last year.
And if you're more of a visual learner, or just want some inspiration to get out their and ride through these conditions, check our the People on Bikes: Cold Commute Edition we published in 2011.
Stay warm, keep riding, and share your experiences and thoughts about the cold weather below.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
As federal investigators focus on the likelihood of human error being the cause of the Dec. 1 derailment that killed four passengers, attention has been placed on the federal requirement for all railroads to install positive train control systems.
As Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio prepares to take office at the beginning of the new year, speculation is growing as to who will succeed Mayor Bloomberg's popular commissioners. The Real Deal floats several candidates to become NYC's next chief planner.
Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager, has expressed his belief that the city can clear its backlog of 78,000 blighted buildings within the next 18-36 months.
This column expands on issues raised in a previous Planetizen blog, "Mythbusting: Exposing Half-Truths That Support Automobile Dependency," which examined criticisms of cycling facility investments and justifications for automobile-oriented planning.
People riding bikes in Austin, Texas.(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
A new report Wednesday from U.S. Public Interest Research Group shows, among other things, that there are many ways to look at the same numbers.
Most Americans, including most Portlanders, "still" drive for transportation? True.
The use of cars is on the longest slide ever recorded, one that seems only partly related to economic trends? Equally true.
And as US PIRG's latest report, Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities shows, this isn't just because of the rapid drops in supposedly "weird" enclaves like Portland or Austin. It's happening almost everywhere. To quote from PIRG:Cover of USPIRG report.-Download PDF here-
- The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period averaged in U.S. Census data.
- From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America’s largest urbanized areas for which up-to-date and accurate Federal Highway Administration data are available (54 out of 74 urban areas).
- The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas from 2006 to 2011. The proportion of households with two cars or more cars decreased in 86 out of the 100 of these areas during that period.
- The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America’s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007-2011.
- The number of passenger-miles traveled per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America’s large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010.
This is the latest in a series of reports by US PIRG, a left-leaning legal/research/advocacy group, that have drawn on federal data to highlight a trend that relatively few people had noticed: just about every available indicator is showing that (as the cliche now goes) the country's "love affair with the automobile" seems to be ending.
"Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfather’s Interstate Highway System, we should invest in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors." — Phineas Baxendall, USPIRG
"Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfather’s Interstate Highway System, we should invest in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors," researcher Phineas Baxendall wrote.
The typical response to this claim has been that the weak economy has been throwing off the numbers. But the trend started in 2004, four years before the last recession hit, and the trend has continued even as the U.S. economy has been recovering.
Today's report, which analyzies the driving decline at the metro-area level, finds further evidence: This decline of driving is no bigger in hard-hit cities like Miami or Tucson than it has been in resilient cities like Pittsburgh or New Orleans.
Here in the Portland area, we were hurt moderately by the recession, ranking 30th of 74 metro areas in increased unemployment from 2006 to 2011. And the decline in our driving over that period was slightly faster than average (we rank 24th of 74).
The Oregonian's story last month was completely correct that 71 percent of Portland-area workers drive alone. And (as a BikePortland reader mentioned to me recently) it's just as true that 99 percent of adults pay rent, mortgage, etc., for the places they live. But that doesn't mean they want to. Today's report is the latest sign that, increasingly, Americans (Portlanders and otherwise) want other things more than another hour behind the wheel.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
This video is great. Please forward this video to Mayor Regalado and County Mayor Gimenez. There is no reason why we can’t do this in the 305, all we need is a little leadership and vision. I’ll pay for the paint.
Saddle selection at Gladys Bikes.(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Remember Gladys Bikes? The small shop on N Williams Ave opened back in October with an aim to cater specifically to women. When we visited the shop one of the things that stuck out was that owner Leah Benson stocked a relatively huge selection of saddles. Now it turns out she's even more serious about getting people the right-fitting saddle than we imagined.
Benson has unveiled a nifty program called the "Saddle Library" Here's how it works (via the Gladys Bikes website):
- Step 1: Come into the shop and talk with our knowledgeable staff about your saddle needs and concerns. We'll make recommendations about which saddle(s) might be a good match for you.
- Step 2: For $25 you get a Library Card, which gives you access to check out any of the saddles in our loaning library. For each saddle you check out you get one week try it out on your bike.
- Step 3: Take the saddle home with you. Go on a typical ride. Then go on another one. Maybe one more for good measure. How does it feel? Decide if it's the saddle of your dreams.
- Step 4: Dream saddle? Bring the test saddle back in and we'll trade it out for a brand new one. Not a love match? We'll get you set up on a different saddle for you to take home and try out.
Seems like a great way to make sure folks get the saddle that's just right for them. And for good measure, if you do decide to buy one, Gladys Bikes will put your $25 library card towards the purchase.
The current selection includes 21 different models from brands like Planet Bike, Brooks, Fizik, Selle Italia, and Terry.
Learn more at GladysBikes.com.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
The Portland Police are asking for the public's help to find this stolen bike.(Photo: PPB)
Portland Police are on the lookout for a stolen e-bike they say is valued at nearly $10,000.
According to a statement issued by the PPB a few minutes ago, the "Stealth Bomber" pictured above is one of only three bicycles like it in the entire state of Oregon. Here's more from the PPB:<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
The victim reported the bicycle stolen to Portland Police on November 29, 2013. The bike was cable-locked to an electrical box in the 100 block of Southeast 160th Avenue and was stolen sometime between 12:00 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. The back tire was also locked using a Kryptonite lock.
The Stealth Bomber electric bicycle is very unique and according to the owner, there are only three bicycles like this in the State of Oregon. The bicycle is described as black and the unique identifying number "387" affixed to a plate on the frame of the bicycle. Although the bicycle is electric, it has a pedal-assist.
If you have information about this theft, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the PPB's non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333 if you see it around town.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
A new report by U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group gives further credence to, and provides a more complete picture of, America's driving decline.
New studies published this week challenge the 2 degree Celsius global warming threshold and call for an early warning system to monitor climate shifts.
The Union Street Bridge in Salem — open only for walking and biking — is the type of project that is eligible for ConnectOregon funds.(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Cities across Oregon are clamoring for more money to build infrastructure that makes it easier for people to walk and bike.
Back in July, thanks to a concerted lobbying effort by the City of Portland and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), the state of Oregon made biking and walking projects eligible for $42 million in funding through the ConnectOregon program for the first time ever. ConnectOregon began in 2005 and it relies on lottery-backed bonds to invest in "multimodal transportation projects" around the state. It's a rare state transportation program that offers dedicated funding for "non-highway" infrastructure. Prior to this year, only air, rail, marine/ports, and transit infrastructure were eligible.
Yesterday, ODOT announced they received 108 applications for this year's round of ConnectOregon funding. Of the $129.4 million total requested funds, $47.5 million are categorized as "Bicycle/Pedestrian" — more than any of the other four eligible modes and more than the requests for Aviation, Marine, and Transit projects combined. Here's the breakdown from ODOT:<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
This huge demand for better biking and walking access is a clear sign that cities understand the value of making these investments. Unfortunately, this outpouring of requests for biking and walking projects is also a sign that there remains a dearth of dedicated funding streams for them.
Back in July, the BTA's Gerik Kransky told us that, "There's a lack of opportunity to have dedicated funding for bike/ped projects because we're competing for fewer and fewer dollars."
Keep in mind, projects funded through ConnectOregon must be "off-highway" by definition. That means the money can't be used to build protected bikeways or other on-street treatments. The projects will be multi-use paths, bike/walk-only bridges, and so on.
ODOT hasn't made the project list available yet. They're currently being reviewed internally prior to being passed off to various review committees and eventually opened to public input. A final decision on which projects will get funded is set for summer 2014.
If you think your city is doing all it can to make its public spaces pleasant for all residents, think again. From “pig’s ears” to the "Camden Bench", Frank Swain explores the "secret tricks" cities use to make spaces uncomfortable and unattractive.
In the latest sign that Portland's lead as America's best cycling city is dwindling, we were completely left out of a list of the year's top 10 protected bikeways published by People for Bikes yesterday.
People for Bikes (formerly known as Bikes Belong) is an industry-funded advocacy group that also runs the Green Lane Project, an effort to hasten the development of protected bikeways across the country. Portland was one of five cities selected to be part of that program when it launched in May 2012; but despite our long-held reputation as a bikeway innovator, we lag behind other cities when it comes to protected bikeways (loosely defined as bike lanes with some sort of protection from other lanes of traffic). According to a Green Lane Project inventory, Portland has managed to build just 3 miles of protected bikeways in the last four years.
Portland's absence from the top 10 isn't because our protected bikeway designs are bad, it's because we didn't even build any new ones in 2013. The one Portland project listed in the Green Lane Project's inventory for 2013, SW Multnomah Blvd, has been delayed and is yet to be built.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
As for the other cities who are moving forward faster than us on creating next-generation bikeways, here's more from People for Bikes: (Note: The Top 10 blog post was written by Michael Andersen, who also happens to be BikePortland's news editor.)
As the thermoplastic dries on this year's round of terrific protected bike lane projects, we decided to scour the country for a comprehensive (and subjective) ranking of the best of the best. We talked to experts and advocates around the country, looked at technical photos and schemes and read the news reports to understand not just how these bike lanes were designed, but why. Though the word "complete" can be hard to define for something as malleable as a city street, every project on this page has been in some clear sense finished during this year.
And here's the top 10 list:
- 1) Dearborn Street, Chicago
2) Indianapolis Cultural Trail
3) Guadalupe Street, Austin
4) Fell and Oak Streets, San Francisco
5) Linden Avenue, Seattle
6) First Avenue, New York City
7) Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
8) 10th Street, Atlanta
9) Cherry Street, Seattle
10) Overton Park Road, Memphis
Pretty striking to see all those other cities getting into the action while Portland isn't even part of the story. There's been a growing discussion around these parts about the Great Portland Cycling Stagnation and this seems like yet another clear sign that it's real. What caused it? How do we move beyond it? These are just some of the questions we plan to cover in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
A pilot project to extend the operating hours of Boston's subway system until 3 a.m. on weekends is being celebrated by riders, businesses leaders and public officials as a crucial element in maintaining a vibrant and attractive city.
Lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie.
Cathy Hastie is BikePortland's lifestyle columnist ... even when she says things we wouldn't all agree with.
Some people say that bikers are an arrogant group. I am the first to admit that I am a card-carrying member. Portland has its coffee snobs and its beer snobs, and me — I'm a transportation snob.
I ride my bike past rows of motionless overheating cars with my nose in the air, flaunting my obviously better commuting choice. I crow to my officemates about how little I spend on gas and how I never pay for parking. My ego precedes me as I fill the elevator at the office with my bulky two-wheeler. I take advantage of the ambiguity bicycles are afforded in respect to sidewalks, driveways, streets and bike lanes. If I can ride on it safely, I will.
I am also the first to recognize how lucky I am. I have a well-paying job that allows me to live close to work. I am able-bodied. I live in a city that can afford to build amenities to make biking safe and pleasant. It is a privilege not to drive.
But, alas, there are some ignominious people who have forgotten this. Their self-absorbed, self-righteous behavior makes me look like a junior member of the Arrogance League. They weave through downtown traffic, handless and shirtless. They hover jerkily in clumsy track stands, inches from geriatric pedestrians in crosswalks. Their impatient posture appears to sneer, "What's wrong with you? Pick up that walker and get a move on so I don't have to put my foot down." They are rudest of all to other bikers, passing on the right and cutting in front of the line at four-way stops. They thumb their noses at moderation, common courtesy and traffic signals.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
This is a special class of bicycle rider. Arrogance imbues the way they ignore the flashing yield light on the tail end of TriMet buses; buses that each carry 40 workers to their jobs. Add it up: there is no way that a single bike rider's time is more valuable, even if he were a lawyer. Some squeeze through the small gap next to the hulking behemoths, testing fate and stretching their luck — because they can.
"Perhaps they think that, because they are saving the environment at lightning speed, the world owes them the sweet spot on the road and the head start at every intersection, ahead of all 'competitors.'"
Perhaps they think that, because they are saving the environment at lightning speed, the world owes them the sweet spot on the road and the head start at every intersection, ahead of all "competitors." Occasionally, an especially egregious hedonist can be heard yelling livid profanities at drivers, seeming to enjoy himself in the process. Erratic, frequently unlawful behavior on the road looks almost as if it is meant to startle and piss-off drivers. Is it a game? Is it a challenge?
Arrogance even permeates cycling fashion. Expensive bike gear and "members only" attire boasts, "I am an athlete doing some serious training here! Don't get in my way!" People blow thousands on equipment as if to say, "Who cares about starving children in Africa? I need to shave 12 seconds off my time."
I must say, though, that the king of arrogance is the biker without a helmet. He is announcing to the world that he is too skilled to allow himself to be hit by a car. Obviously, when a semi-truck overturns in the adjacent lane, or a chain reaction fender-bender causes the car behind him to suddenly lunge forward, he will sprout wings and fly. Helmetless people are among those seen "flying" through red lights too...
Arrogance is a sense of superiority and self-importance. Some people who ride demonstrate their arrogance by making life miserable for the rest of us. But even mild-mannered, middle-aged pacifists like me are pretentious bigheads when it comes to riding our bikes. My transportation choice IS healthier, quieter, smaller, cleaner, funner - better! Arrogance is knowing that, without a doubt, my way is the best way. And sometimes, I am right.
Editor's note: This is Cathy's perspective and, after much discussion, we're publishing it because she's a smart, thoughtful member of the community and it reflects what she (and we assume lots of other people) think.
Update 11:30 pm: Cathy has responded in the comments to some of her critics.<\/scr"+"ipt>"); //]]>-->
There are some cities that give you everything you need and others that make you work for it. This article profiles efforts to build a startup community in Tallahassee through the eyes of the city's growing network of entrepreneurs.
Scott Doyon reviews the book "13 Ways to Kill Your Community", by Alberta Legislative Assembly member Doug Griffiths and journalist Kelly Clemmer. In it, the authors reveal some of the "curiously recurring behaviors" that harm cities of all sizes.