(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
With just a few days left in 2012, I thought it’d be fun to look back at the people, places, and projects that defined the year. As regular readers know, photography has always played a large role in our coverage, so I’ve delved into the BikePortland archives to bring you this look back at 2012…
One of many exciting themes that emerged in 2012 was the success of several of our local, bike-based businesses. Back in January, Jed Lazar of SoupCycle celebrated his 50,000th delivery. Lazar started his soup delivery business in 2008 and has expanded his delivery area and his workforce to keep up with demand.
Sky Boyer, the owner of Velo Cult Bike Shop, can only hope for as much success as Mr. Lazar. In January, Boyer moved his successful shop (and several employees) from San Diego to NE 42nd Ave in the Hollywood neighborhood. As promised, Boyer has created a shop that is as much about people as it is about products. In less than a year, Velo Cult has become a favorite community gathering place.
It was a busy year for activist, songwriter, journalist, filmmaker, and general renaissance man Dan Kaufman. On January 25th, his “Disco Trike” was confiscated and he was arrested during the J25 Occupy Portland protests. Kaufman, who is active with PDX Bike Swarm and broadcasts music from his trike, challenged his citation in court and was ultimately found not guilty.
Candidates for Portland mayor were on trial nearly all year in a heated election contest. In early February, all three of the major candidates — Eileen Brady, (eventual winner) Charlie Hales, and Jefferson Smith — took part in a debate that focused on active transportation.
A few weeks after that debate, a different kind of contest grabbed our attention: the annual Ben Hurt Chariot Wars. Organized by Zoobomb (who incidentally celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2012) as part of their Mini Bike Winter events, the Chariot Wars are always an epic battle and this year did not disappoint.
While freak bikes ruled the Chariot Wars, custom, handmade bikes ruled the day at the Show Me Yours event held at the Ace Hotel Cleaners on February 25th. The event was organized as a preview of Portland-made bikes that were headed to Austin, Texas for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS).
Another local bike business that enjoyed a banner year was North St. Bags. In March, owner Curtis Williams moved into a new storefront and production shop in southeast Portland.
Also in March, we were in Sacramento, California for NAHBS. As usual, Portland builders did us very proud in taking home several awards. One of the big winners was the Ned Ludd Market Bike, a collaboration between framebuilder Ira Ryan, rack maker Ben Leonard, and restaurant owner Jason French (the trio is shown below celebrating after the award was announced).
At the sixth annual Transportation Safety Summit, citizen activists and advocates joined with Bureau of Transportation staff to recap and refocus safety efforts. In the crowd was Kristi Finney, a mother who lost her son Dustin when he was killed while biking on SE Division in 2011. Finney also spoke at the event and has since devoted herself to traffic safety activism.
One of the most exciting bike businesses that launched in 2012 was Kinn Bikes. Sellwood resident Alistair Williamson developed a “midtail” city bike and had it manufactured right here in Portland by Zen Bicycle Fabrication.
The National Bike Summit once again provided an excuse for us to visit Washington D.C., lobby our elected leaders, and learn from other bike advocates. Among the many highlights of our trip were: seeing the finish of Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington; trying out Capital Bikeshare; riding the protected bike lanes on Pennsylvania Ave; meeting with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley; and catching an impromptu conversation between congressman Earl Blumenauer and US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood.
Back home in Portland, the annual Filmed by Bike event got a bit of extra flair this year when mountain biking and bike industry icon Gary Fisher led a ride to the opening night street party.
2012 marked what we hope is a real sea change at the Oregon Department of Transportation. In May I sat down with ODOT Director Matt Garrett and tried to learn first-hand what he plans to do to make the agency more sensitive to bike access issues.
One place that is already sensitive to bike access is the South Waterfront. The addition of the new Gibbs Street bridge over I-5 and the massive amount of bike parking at the Go By Bike bike shop under the Aerial Tram have turned this little corner of our city into the closest thing to Amsterdam anywhere in the region.
Bicycle tourism continued to come on strong in 2012. Late last April I joined a group ride through Oregon’s vaunted wine country and got a close-up view of how bikes are the new tour buses.
In 2012, ODOT installed sharrows on two of their historic bridges: the St. Johns Bridge and the Oregon City/West Linn Arch Bridge.
As we predicted, 2012 turned out to be a big year for women on bikes. One of the many symbols of this movement was the inaugural Cyclofemme ride that took place in northeast Portland during Sunday Parkways on May 13th.
The optimism of Sunday Parkways was shattered when just three days later, on May 16th, Kathryn Rickson died after a collision with a large delivery truck while riding down SE Madison (at 3rd). Rickson’s death spurred an outpouring of community activism and brought up major bike safety questions. The DA ultimately found that the man driving the truck in the collision was not criminally negligent. (See all our Kathryn Rickson coverage here.)
*Rickson was one of two people who were killed while bicycling in 2012. The other was James Querirolo, who died after being struck in the intersection of SE 148th and Mill on September 30th.
In the cities envisioned by former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, Enrique Penalosa, right hooks would not be so common. Penalosa stopped in Portland for a lecture about urban planning that pleased and shocked a packed room of wonks at the Armory Theater downtown. He called for, among other things, the demolition of great swaths of Portland’s inner neighborhoods to be replaced by more dense residential areas separated by vast greenways and bikeways.
In June, it was time to hit the streets in the name of bike fun. Pedalpalooza kicked off with a raucous ride from the South Park Blocks to a big party at Velo Cult Bike Shop.
And then there was the annual Naked Bike Ride, which once again took over the streets of Portland with skin and smiles for all to see.
When disaster strikes Portland it won’t be anything to smile about. But as we learned at the first-ever Disaster Relief Trials held on June 17th, things might go a bit easier thanks to the burgeoning recognition of bicycles as excellent emergency response tools. (Check out our new “bikes and disasters” story tag for more coverage of this topic.)
And then on June 28th, we published our most widely read post ever. It was the story of Emily Finch, a carfree mom of six who has redefined family biking and whose story is now known around the world.
The local racing scene was as hot as ever this year. The Monday night short track mountain bike series had record turnouts, as did the Wednesday night cyclocross races out at Alpenrose Dairy.
On June 26th, there was a meeting of activists, planners, and various agency staff to discuss immediate safety fixes for the notorious Broadway/Wheeler intersection. Less than two months later, Mayor Adams decided to close Wheeler to right turns. The move upset local business owner Bob Huckaby and inspired him to push for a state law requiring licenses for people who ride bicycles (look for it as a ballot measure in 2014).
In July, the City of Portland officially opened its first pump track at Ventura Park.
If you like riding off-road and are sick of having to drive an hour just to reach some decent singletrack, you must be as excited as I am about the potential of the City’s new acquired Riverview property.
Speaking of potential… What if you went into a low-income community that’s in a bike shop desert, built a place where people could come and fix their bikes, lead rides, and so on? That’s exactly what the Community Cycling Center did with their ‘Bike Hub’ in New Columbia that opened in September.
Another big opening this year was the new eastside streetcar line. Check out the view below from the operator’s seat as one of the new cars travels over the Broadway Bridge.
Local bike courier company Magpie Messenger Collective celebrated their 10th year in business in 2012. Three of the owners — Dee Branham, Robert Burchett and Joel Metz — stopped by my office back in October to share stories and perspective gleaned from their many years on the streets.
PBOT made some very visible changes to the bike lanes on SW Stark and Oak streets downtown. In October they applied a solid coat of green paint to the entire lanes. So far, it appears to be working well.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) launched a new effort to update their Blueprint for Bicycling report. They organized many input sessions where people came together to tell the organization what projects should be included on the list.
While we continue to work on plans and talk about priorities here in Portland, places like New York and Chicago are moving quickly ahead in building networks of protected bike lanes. At the end of October, I traveled to New York to see it for myself and I was thoroughly impressed.
Here in Portland, the most exciting project of 2012 might be the redesign of NE Multnomah Street through the Lloyd District.
Portland walking advocates have a fresh new name to rally around. On November 10th, the inimitable Steph Routh held a party to announce that her organization, the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, would now be known as Oregon Walks.
Portland’s bike book boom blossomed in 2012 and its instigators were mostly women. At a book release party on November 15th, several of the year’s biggest themes came together on one night at the big party for Hop in Saddle, a newly released book by Ellee Thalheimer, Lucy Burningham, and Laura Cary (below), took place at Velo Cult Bike Shop.
And another advocate that announced a major change was Jay Graves. On November 30th, Graves announced he was moving on from the Bike Gallery, a six-store chain he had worked at and owned for 39 years.
— I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did! This is just a sampling of the news and newsmakers that made 2012 another big year for bikes in Portland. I’m looking forward to getting back to town (still in California with family for the holidays) to start making 2013 our biggest yet.