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Comment of the Week: Portland’s five-step recipe for 25 percent biking

Comment of the Week: Portland’s five-step recipe for 25 percent biking

Bike traffic on N Williams Ave-16.jpg

Getting there.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Of all the wonderful ideas in Portland’s Bicycle Plan for 2030, the one I personally hope is never forgotten is its audacious use of a numeral: 25 percent.

That’s the target it set for the share of trips that could happen by bicycle in Portland. Today, the figure is something like 7 percent. Only several dozen cities in eastern Asia and northern Europe, probably, can currently boast 25 percent or more.

But 25 percent is possible and even imaginable, as BikePortland reader Alex Reedin spelled out in a Thursday morning comment estimating the payoff for each step that’ll be required to get us there.

It came in reply to another reader’s speculation that between bike sharing, new greenway diverters and better downtown bike lanes, Portland might be near a “tipping point” for biking.

I’d say there are many tipping points. We’re finally making substantial progress towards some. A few years ago, we were making veery slow progress which was in my opinion partially being taken back by increased driver meanness and shortcutting.

1) Some inner-Portland infrastructure, enough for sort of a network + drivers on average nicer compared to the rest of the U.S. –> enthused, confident, fit, prime-age people with origins and destinations in inner Portland bike, much more so in the summer than the winter. PASSED! (~6-8% mode share)

2) Truly comfortable inner-Portland infrastructure –> interested but concerned people of all ages with origins and destinations in inner Portland bike if they feel like it, much more so in the summer than the winter. MAKING PROGRESS (~5% additional mode share)

3) Some outer-Portland infrastructure, enough for sort of a network –> enthused, confident, fit, prime-age people with origins and destinations fairly close to each other in outer Portland bike, much more so in the summer than the winter. MAKING PROGRESS (~4% additional mode share)

4) Truly comfortable outer-Portland infrastructure –> interested but concerned people of all ages with origins and destinations fairly nearby, much more so in the summer than the winter. NOT EVEN CLOSE (~3% additional mode share)

5) Biking is more convenient than driving for most trips in inner Portland (greenways paved well and made convenient, major street protected bike lanes, car parking expensive/annoying, cars stuck in traffic)–> interested but concerned people of all ages with origins and destinations in inner Portland bike, all the time, unless it’s pouring. People traveling from outer Portland to inner Portland may start to e-bike in sizeable numbers, though still far from a majority (~7.5% additional mode share)







That final step, Reedin confessed in a follow-up, is the hardest and the one Portland is furthest from. But though you might disagree with the percentages he assigns to each step in this recipe, it’s encouraging to break down this difficult civic mission into more or less comprehensible steps.

Of course, the point of bicycling isn’t bicycling. If the 2030 Bike Plan has a failing, it’s that it didn’t create a durable consensus about why it would be a good thing for Portland to achieve 25 percent bicycling mode share.

But of course there are many reasons, from affordability to safety to community to physical quiet to clean air to economic prosperity. As long as Portland can keep moving along this path — and for all our grousing, it clearly is — those benefits will keep arriving in greater and greater amounts.

That’s how our city will, eventually, muster the political will required for that final crucial step.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Alex in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Comment of the Week: A frustrated, hopeful east Portlander on the gas tax

Comment of the Week: A frustrated, hopeful east Portlander on the gas tax

jim chasse

Veteran east Portland advocate and gas tax fan Jim Chasse.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Three out of four east Portlanders who voted last month didn’t vote for the local gas tax. But given how their area’s been treated in the last few decades, can you blame them?

That’s the perspective of one east Portland resident who supported the “Fix Our Streets” plan, commenting on Thursday’s post about gas tax voting patterns.

BikePortland reader Jim Chasse is part of an extremely effective network of east Portland advocates who’ve brought in tens of millions of dollars of budgeted commitments to east Portland streets over the next several years. If the city keeps those promises, he suggests, east Portlanders may notice.

Here’s what he said:

Having been an “Outer East Portland” resident since before the annexation, I clearly understand the outcome of the recent gas tax vote. For over 25 years the city and state have been promising transportation improvements for East Portland. To date, very little has been done. Many promises, little action. Hopefully that’s about to change as many proposed active transportation projects will occur in the next 3-5 years.

East Portland has been a great asset to the city for building inner city projects since annexation. We provide a great deal of revenue for improvements in the inner city, yet receive so little in return. Well, things are moving east because of the great schools, lower home prices, and a great diverse and involved community. It’s finally time to go east and doing it by bike makes a lot of sense.

Thanks to all of you for paying, and voting for the fuel tax. Please note that many of the projects that will be funded with the fuel tax will still be west of I205.







In a subsequent comment, reader Jim Labbe speculated that east Portland’s recent voting patterns on parks measures suggest that when the city delivers on its promises, it changes the vote counts.

That’s a pleasantly optimistic take on the future of Portland east of Interstate 205. And both Chasse and Labbe are optimists. But they’re definitely not fools.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Chasse in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Comment of the week: Biking with color in a country with history

Comment of the week: Biking with color in a country with history

Prospect Park-6

There are as many ways to be a person who bikes as there are ways to be a person, and just as many ways to be a person of color.

That was part of the thinking shared by BikePortland reader Clement in a comment on yesterday’s post by Taz Loomans about how to get more racial and ethnic diversity into organized bike fun.

Here’s what Clement said:

I appreciate the suggestions for diversifying Portland’s bike events. I happen to be a person of color who bikes on a daily basis, but I have never been drawn to the Keep Portland Weird, circus-y aspects of what some see as Portland’s bike culture. Not doing the bike culture thing or cycling for sport, but just biking to get around (though I love my bikes!), I sometimes feel that I am not a legitimate part of Portland’s bike scene. That being said, I don’t think that it is a fair characterization when people equate Portland’s having a high portion of white people with meaning Portland is inherently racist. Having lived in the Detroit area and spent time in the South, I find that Portland’s history is not exceptionally racist. Pretty much all of the United States had a white supremacist history. Portland was never a major port of entry for immigrants, did not have a plantation economy, wasn’t a big part of the African-American migration north to the Northeast and Midwest, and was not a major economic engine that attracted people from all over the world like New York, Chicago, or LA. Its not surprising Portland isn’t very diverse – it’s kind of been a small, provincial city way out in the Northwest. But, it is growing, opening up more to the world – and isn’t without its growing pains. It’s my city. I like it.







As other comments in the (generally constructive and thoughtful!) thread pointed out, reasonable people can probably differ over the depth of Portland’s historical and/or current racism compared to elsewhere. But our metro area is indeed getting gradually less homogeneous. Let’s hope we can also make it a city where all of us can build the lives we like.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Clement in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

The post Comment of the week: Biking with color in a country with history appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Comment of the Week: The car-free destiny of NW 13th Avenue

Comment of the Week: The car-free destiny of NW 13th Avenue

Sunday Parkways NW-39

Northwest 13th Avenue during Sunday Parkways, 2011.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Curb-protected bike lanes are cool and all, but they’ve got nothing on building-protected bike lanes.

That’s roughly the position from BikePortland reader Andrew, who added the first comment to Tuesday’s post about possible downtown protected bike lanes with a very different vision for one of Portland’s most unique streets: Northwest 13th Avenue.

Here’s what Andrew had to say:

I’d love to see something done with NW 13th. It’s an awkward street to drive on, walk on, and cycle on. I use it frequently and have stopped to observe what happens on the street with the different modes tangled together. There are no sidewalks, parking for cars is a free for all, pedestrians are often times in the middle of the roadway, and it’s just generally a mess.

Closing 13th to cars entirely would be awesome, it would remove the primary part of what makes the street a mess. Removing some of the stop signs for bikes and peds on 13th would allow people to move through quicker if their destination isn’t on 13th. It connects with Johnson and Overton quite well, and it isn’t too tough to connect to the Broadway bridge either. Just my 2 cents.







This led to an excellent discussion about whether and how this might work. (In particular, check out the “yes” case from maccoinnich and the “no” case from Jason H.) But Jonathan and I were happy to see the issue come up at all. One of the posts we never got to from this spring’s NW Portland Week was Jonathan’s opus, years a-brewing, about how wonderful a pedestrianized (or partially pedestrianized) 13th Avenue could become.

If I know the boss, Jonathan’s full thoughts on this issue are likely to see the light someday. For the moment, the old industrial loading docks that (as reader Matti pointed out) once opened onto freight train tracks will continue to push people walking into the middle of the street, claiming the space that will, we’d be willing to bet, eventually become theirs.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Andrew in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

The post Comment of the Week: The car-free destiny of NW 13th Avenue appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Comment of the Week: Bike trail advocates should take a lesson from dog parks

Comment of the Week: Bike trail advocates should take a lesson from dog parks

IMG_0492

No leash in Normandale Park, no problem – now.
(Photo: Michael Lin)

“When everyone breaks the rules, the rules bend.”

That was the hesitant declaration of BikePortland reader axoplasm, responding Friday morning to Thursday’s report about the organized resistance to mountain biking trails by people whose private property abuts the public land where they’d be built.

Axoplasm isn’t so much responding to this latest twist in Portland’s quest for singletrack, but more to the seeming futility of the quest itself. (As another reader, Charley, put it, “We’re not trying to build a lego tower to the moon, just open some trails to people who ride bikes.”)







Here’s the comment:

MTBers are some of the most play-by-the-rules types you will ever meet. In places with less cronyish local politics that works in our favor. But in Portland we’ve been playing by the rules for 25years and our reward is ever less singletrack.

I will return as I always to my analogy with dog owners (I am one). There is no Northwest Dog Alliance or advocacy group. We have no unified voice in demanding essentially unlimited access for dogs to every park, playground, school, and natural area within 100mi of Portland. We just take our dogs there and do whatever we please. So many people do it, so blithely and with such entitlement, that the government response has been to try to lure dog owners & our pets into abundant, well-supplied, well-distributed public dog recreation zones.

I’m one of those play-by-the-rules types so this is hard for me to say. But somehow I don’t feel conflicted letting my dog off-leash at the baseball diamond. When everyone breaks the rules, the rules bend.

Mountain biking is a legitimate recreation activity with demonstrated demand. If our public officials can’t get it together to designate some public spaces to accommodate that demand, we should not feel conflicted to use those spaces anyway. If enough of us do it, we might find ourselves actually winning these battles for a change.

Here at BikePortland, we don’t advocate rule-breaking. But axoplasm’s analogy to dog parks is worth thinking about, and not just in the context of mountain-bike singletrack.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to axoplasm in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

The post Comment of the Week: Bike trail advocates should take a lesson from dog parks appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Comment of the Week: Raise the gas tax one penny per fatality

Comment of the Week: Raise the gas tax one penny per fatality

exxon

How to get people’s attention?
(Photo: Blink Ofanaye)

Want to end traffic deaths? Try hitting people in the wallet.

That was the crazy-like-a-fox idea Pat Franz shared in a comment on Wednesday’s post about the known dangerous crossing of Cully Boulevard at Mason, where Patrick Curry died Saturday night as he tried to walk across the street.

Here’s Franz’s modest proposal:

How about we increase the gas tax by $0.01 for every vulnerable road user death? I know it sounds crass, a penny per life, but it would point out the incredible crassness of how we don’t pay for things, even when there is a clear need. The tax might eventually get so high that there could be effective social scorn for the killers, who knows?






Doesn’t sound at all crass to us — at least, not any crasser than a society that saw traffic fatalities jump 15 percent last year because gasoline got cheaper.

The fastest year-on-year increase in the country was Oregon’s.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Pat in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Comment of the Week: Financing government with parking garages is a bad model

Comment of the Week: Financing government with parking garages is a bad model

rendering with fake people

If we want to invest in something that makes money,
how about homes instead?

Portland’s economic development agency is casting about for new funding, and some people seem to think that developing a bunch of big parking garages is the ticket.

We’re working on a post following up on last week’s look at a taxpayer-financed $26 million hotel parking garage. In the meantime, readers have been having an interesting conversation about it. And reader Iain MacKenzie, who goes by “Maccoinnich” in the comments and who also happens to be the guy behind development-tracking website NextPortland.com, had one of the best-informed takes on the issue.

“This is part of the reason that they want to build this garage … they believe that it will provide them with ongoing revenue for decades.”
— Iain MacKenzie, NextPortland.com

The Portland Development Commission faces a choice, MacKenzie wrote: should it be trying to make money by pouring its investments into constructing multimillion-dollar parking garages? Or could it do better with something the city says it will actually want more of in the future, like housing?

Before we quote MacKenzie, it’s useful to know how the PDC currently makes money. It’s not actually very complicated, and it’s worth understanding if you want to know how the city works.

A lot of local government — schools, police, parks, libraries — is paid for by property taxes. If a piece of land gets more valuable because someone builds a new building on it, taxes on that property go up and public services get additional money. But in a series of designated “urban renewal areas” around the city, more than half of those additional property taxes that come from new buildings are instead sent to the PDC, which is supposed to reinvest them in improvements (sidewalks, streetcars, or apparently parking garages) to the surrounding area, which theoretically spurs even more development in that area. Then someday the urban renewal area expires and all the other city services get a gush of new property taxes from the recent development.

The extra property taxes that come from that new development are called “TIF,” for “tax increment financing.”

But as MacKenzie notes, many of the city’s urban renewal areas are set to expire, which could leave the PDC with a lot less TIF money to play with.





And that’s where parking garages seem to be coming into the PDC’s long-term strategy. Here’s MacKenzie’s comment:

As Tony’s blog post mentions, this is a period of transition for the PDC. Since the agency’s inception they’ve mostly been funded by TIF money generated in urban renewal areas. This funding model has been very successful in some areas (the River District) and somewhat unsuccessful in other areas (Gateway). Right now all of the urban renewal areas are approaching the end of their lives, and the PDC has a finite amount of money to spend. Even if the City was to create a new URA along Powell/Division, as has been mentioned, it would be a long time before it was generating enough TIF to fund new capital projects.

“A few years ago no one was building market rate apartments, despite the well documented need in retrospect. Right now no one is building condos.”
— Iain MacKenzie

They are currently studying the long term financial sustainability of the agency. Despite the beating they are rightly receiving on this thread, the PDC has done a lot of things that are good for active transportation, including providing the City’s share of funding for our light rail network and paying the entire cost of the Eastbank Esplanade. If the PDC ceases to exist that funding source does as well.

This is part of the reason that they want to build this garage, as they believe that it will provide them with ongoing revenue for decades, even without Urban Renewal. For the same reason, they have talked about building a garage on the currently vacant parcel they own at NW 6th & Glisan, immediately east of the new PNCA.

Even assuming that their financial models are correct, building parking garages is a bad model. It goes against every policy currently going into the Comprehensive Plan. A better way would be to work out how they can finance projects that build long term revenue while also furthering the City’s goals. Nick Fish raised the idea (and I think it’s a good one) that they should consider a land lease model for the Post Office site, rather than parceling off and selling the land immediately. Another idea might be to make counter cyclical investments. A few years ago no one was building market rate apartments, despite the well documented need in retrospect. Right now no one is building condos, even as house get further away from what a first time buyer could afford. I would be shocked if they couldn’t develop a model to build condo units in the $200,000-$400,000 range (as the Cyan originally intended to offer). This would both generate revenue for them and help with Portland’s ongoing affordability problem. Those are just a couple ideas, but I’m sure there are many other ways they could make money for the city without sacrificing our collective values.

Aside from the PDC, most of Portland’s city government seems solid on the principle that no public dollars should further expand car infrastructure. The PDC is about to hire a new executive director. Even if it’s too late for our leaders to change course on paying to build a big parking garage across the street from the state’s best transit hub, they still have a chance to hire someone who will spend the public money on the public’s interests.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Maccoinnich in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

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Comment of the Week: How the history of cell phones explains American streets

Comment of the Week: How the history of cell phones explains American streets

Ride Along with Ali Reis-30

Surrounded by investments in everything else.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

“Why is Portland-ish planning not spreading more rapidly?”

That was the question BikePortland reader Paul asked on Monday morning, after reading about how the Danish rust-belt city of Odense is rebuilding its economy around livable streets. It’s a great question, and it got a great answer from BikePortland reader Anne Hawley.

Anne went back to the 1800s for an analogy of how too many U.S. cities went astray and have stayed that way:

I wish I knew the answers. I don’t. But I feel like there’s an analogy to be found in the story of telephone service. Exceptional, powerful, rich-and-rolling America went whole hog into running copper wire everywhere in the late 19th and early 20th century. Because we had a fully built out, functional, and profitable phone system when cellular came along, the titans of the phone industry tried to fit cellular to the old, wired-network model. It took us YEARS to break out of the stupid pricing plans and restrictions that they put on this “competing” service.

Meanwhile, the developing world, never having strung the expensive copper in the first place, has gone hog-wild with cellular, leap-frogging us in inventive uses for the system, with wide deployment (even to the poor! OMG!).

So now we’ve got one of the slowest, most poorly-deployed, most restrictive cellular business models in the world. Those dinosaurs died hard.

Maybe other cities are on the verge of jumping into a brand-new system, an urban transportation model that doesn’t quite exist yet, a toolbox made of parts from Portland AND Copenhagen AND Singapore AND Los Angeles AND Tactical Urbanism. I don’t know. There are dinosaurish elements to Portland that other cities would be wise not to follow when newer models are coming along.





This isn’t a definitive answer, as Anne notes. And if there’s a transportation model from the developing world that is successfully slowing the spread of cars with wealth by creating a radically better transportation network, I’m not aware of it.

But maybe she’s right that someone, somewhere that the costs of building everything around cars haven’t sunk in quite as deeply yet, is on the cusp of figuring the better way out.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Anne in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Comment of the Week: ‘When I was broke, I barely rode my bike’

Comment of the Week: ‘When I was broke, I barely rode my bike’

I often wonder how many activists have ever really struggled with poverty or even personally know anyone who has.

We talk a lot about infrastructure at BikePortland, because it matters to people who bike. But it’s very far from the only thing that matters.

In a comment beneath Monday’s post about the driving habits of rich and poor people, BikePortland reader Ellie wrote about a time in her life when she was too poor to drive but when her life was too fragmented and unpredictable for her to bike.

Both the argument against gas taxes and increased parking fees use the added burden on poor people as a reason not to increase associated costs, but it is mostly a red herring, an excuse to avoid extra taxes and fees for higher income earners. However, bike activist and urban planning activists due similar things. I often wonder how many activists have ever really struggled with poverty or even personally know anyone who has. One of my biggest frustrations with a certain sort of bicyclist is that they seem to think that since they do not find public transit useful, it isn’t important.

When I was broke and living in SE Portland. I barely rode my bike, and I certainly didn’t use it regularly for transportation. I lived with roommates in the only place we could find that we could afford and was willing to rent to us with our limited, inconsistent incomes. Though we were living toward the outer edge of inner Southeast Portland, in one of the more bikeable parts of Portland, it didn’t matter. Though I tried finding work close to where I lived, I had limited work experience and skills. I took whatever jobs I could get. I was working as a waitress in Beaverton and picking up part time work walking dogs and tutoring where I could find it. I took public transit everywhere, because I couldn’t afford a car and biking was completely unrealistic when I could be traveling 30 or 40 miles a day and showing up sweaty or soaked by the rain could have gotten me written up for unprofessional appearance. I spent a lot of time on buses and the MAX, and any improvements in public transit coverage or frequency would have been appreciated. While this is my personal experience, I think it reflects the lives of a lot of other people as well. Instability in where you live and work is very common when you’re at a certain level of poor. People in these circumstances are not necessarily in a position where biking as transport is reasonable and infrastructure concerns take a backseat. There are more pressing issues like moving due to rent increasing again or hours getting cut at work.

I was lucky. I have since gotten a good job, where I have steady hours, and I don’t have to try to cobble together multiple part time jobs to make ends meet anymore. I have a stable income. If my group at work is between projects and I don’t have much to do, I don’t get sent home without pay like I did working at restaurants. I also make enough that I can choose to live close enough to work to comfortably bike everyday, and I know that if I need to I can also choose to take public transit. For me, biking is now a smart, economical transportation option, but that is very much the result of privilege. This is why poorer or underfunded communities do not always like the addition of bike lane to their communities, and why they are often seen as a part of gentrification.


This isn’t to say that I don’t agree that poor people drive less, or that we shouldn’t raise parking fees or add a gas tax because these things will hurt poor people. I just wish these conversations seemed to recognize the reality of what it can be like to be poor. Sometimes you live where you can find a place, and you work what jobs you can get. Sometimes this means spending hours on public transit because you are going across town between jobs. It can also mean that a car is the only practical way to get around because you need to be able to get places quickly or at odd hours, if you get called in. If people are really concerned about the poor, they should be lobbying for improvements to public transit and affordable housing.

I realized that this is a bit of a tangential rant from the original post, but I felt compelled to add something about what it is actually like to be poor in Portland. So many of the comments here seem to be about hypothetical poor people.

(Also check out Ellie’s follow-up exchange with another reader about the tradeoffs involved in regulating small businesses.)

Biking can be hugely useful for building a great city and a great transit system, and some of the issues Ellie mentions might be helped if biking were seen as more normal and mainstream. But biking will never be enough on its own. Great cities need mass transit, plentiful jobs, safe neighborhoods and a variety of housing options that all different kinds of people can afford.

And great cities also need people with opinions that they’re willing to share.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to Ellie in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


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Comment of the Week: A map should not be an important safety tool

Comment of the Week: A map should not be an important safety tool

elbcomment

If you haven’t read Jonathan’s haunting, exclusive report that Martin Greenough seems to have been killed on his very first bike commute, two weeks after moving to Portland, it’s not one to miss.

Part of the story is that the city’s official bike map inaccurately suggests that Lombard is a fine place to bike. But as BikePortland reader El Biciclero pointed out in a must-read response, the problem here is not really with the map.

The problem is that the only way to bike around Portland without near-death experiences is to use a map.

“‘He had just bought his bike… Saturday night might have been the first time he commuted to that location and back,’ Monica said.

He very likely had no idea there was a dangerous gap in the bikeway on his way home.”

This is what rankles me. Martin didn’t study hard enough before attempting to get from A to B on a bike. As a bicyclist, I can’t trust maps, Google, GPS—anything—to point me to a “safe” route. And really, why aren’t all routes “safe”? Why can I expect to drive my car anywhere, traveling any route I want, but if I want to travel by bike, I must study carefully, make trial runs, review video, check maps and street views, cross-referencing multiple sources to see whether the bike lane drops or there is a left turn signal, or a way around that doesn’t involve left turns or two-way stops, find out what the de facto speed is on a street that is signed for 30 mph, hope the shoulder or bike lane is as wide as it looks online and there aren’t huge drainage pits in it and the stripes haven’t worn off since the last time the Google photo car drove by (I have started looking at the “image capture” dates on Google street view to get some notion of whether the picture is still accurate for places I haven’t been). If I don’t do all of the above I could DIE.

If I hop in my car and follow my nose, the worst I can expect is getting lost.

We should never, ever have to ask “why would anyone ride their bike on that route?”

We’ll leave it at that.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to El Biciclero in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!


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