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BTA will ask members to ratify name change at annual meeting

BTA will ask members to ratify name change at annual meeting

BTA Annual meeting-2

BTA head Rob Sadowsky at the member’s meeting in 2012.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland-based biking advocacy group that is transitioning into a biking-walking-transit advocacy group plans to unveil its proposed new name on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

It’ll happen at the organization’s annual members meeting, which will be 5:30 to 7:30 at Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Avenue.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Monday that the organization’s board and staff will then ask members present for an up-or-down vote on the name proposal.

Because the BTA is a member-led nonprofit under Oregon law and section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code, the vote will be binding. State law requires two-thirds of members present to vote “yes.”

Sadowsky said he’s pretty confident that the new name will be approved.

“Those that show up create a quorum,” Sadowsky said. “If we can’t get 2/3 of people there excited about it, then what are we doing?”

The up-or-down vote will be binding. Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice.”

Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice,” both of which are available as corporate names in the state of Oregon. He said an intellectual property lawyer is currently working pro bono to make sure the names aren’t under trademark somewhere else.

Why not announce the name ahead of time, or conduct a mail-in vote? Sadowsky said it’s to make sure nobody squats on the relevant URLs and social media handles while the organization is waiting to see if members approve.

“The No. 1 name right now would cost us $2,000 to buy,” he said.

He also said the BTA “may have a new logo for the annual meeting, if it is done in time.” If not, he said, the new logo will be unveiled at the BTA’s Alice Awards fundraiser Sept. 24.

Also at the members’ meeting, the BTA will recognize people for its annual volunteer awards:

• Rookie Volunteer of the Year
• Under the Radar
• Advocacy Volunteer of the Year
• Scott Lieuallen Award
• Volunteer of the Year







The BTA has some recent experience with brand transitions. Since 2014, it’s been using the name “Healthy Streets” and the URL ourhealthystreets.org to refer to “multimodal work that engage[s] partners in deep collaboration,” as Sadowsky put it in a February email. For example, the BTA’s Vision Zero traffic safety advocacy, the Active Transportation Summit event and the For Every Kid Coalition that has pushed for regional Safe Routes to School funding were all done under that sub-brand.

Once the name is changed, the BTA will also be wrapping more direct political work into its mission by forming a 501(c)4 organization, which is allowed to spend more money on political lobbying, and maybe subsequently a political action committee that could directly endorse candidates and raise money for them.

The BTA also plans to reorganize into a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 arm focused on political advocacy.

Sadowsky said there’s a possibility of merging with another existing PAC, but that he couldn’t legally discuss details because he’s employed by a c(3). That’s a good example of why the BTA wants to create a c(4), he said.

Terry Dublinski-Milton, a volunteer for Portland’s existing Bike Walk Vote PAC, wrote in an email “there is an ongoing conversation” about merging with the new BTA.

“No decision has been made at this time,” Dublinski-Milton said.

There are various other complications to having both a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 focused on political advocacy. For example, the BTA will need to recruit a separate board for each with no more than three shared members.

For the BTA’s existing (c)3, it isn’t currently planning to change its member-led structure that requires members to vote on board members, name changes and so forth.

Tomorrow, he said, BTA staff are traveling to Seattle to meet with the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, two organizations that merged in December. Today, Cascade Bicycle Club is the name of the group’s (c)3, with Washington Bikes as the name of the group’s (c)4.

Sadowsky added that they’ll also meet with Rob Johnson, the former executive director of the Seattle-based multimodal Transportation Choices Coalition 501(c)3 organization. Johnson was elected to city council last year.

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

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The post BTA will ask members to ratify name change at annual meeting appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Photos and memories from our 10th birthday celebration

Photos and memories from our 10th birthday celebration

dark crowd

A slice of the crowd at Velo Cult Friday.
(Photos: Margi Bradway unless noted)

Any room becomes a special place when it’s full of people you love and respect, and BikePortland’s 10th birthday party on Friday was one of the most special rooms we’ve had the honor of bringing together.

Nearly 300 people turned out. True to the spirit of the site, we welcomed citizen gadflies and academic brainiacs, bike-club party kids, family members of traffic-violence victims, indie framebuilders and a U.S. congressman.

Everybody packed into Velo Cult, the bar-and-bike-shop hangout in Hollywood, to talk about the past, the future and the launch of the new subscription program that we hope will deepen our connection with our community, elevate more of its voices, serve a broadening range of readers and of course get BikePortlanders good deals on cool bike stuff.

bar

The bar was packed all night!

Jonathan told us how, until about a month ago, he hadn’t decided whether the announcement at Friday’s party was going to be a grand goodbye to the community or a leap into a plan for another decade of growth. He said the outpouring of encouragement that came from readers after his frank post last month about the challenges of local journalism answered the question for him.

jonathan michael mike

He also had a chance to thank his mom, Jackie Wayman, the woman he said gave him permission to follow big goals:

mama maus

And his wife Juli (pictured holding their son Everett (4), with their daughter Dani (10) at right) and the rest of his family, who’ve pulled with him over the last decade while they’ve built a very daring business together.

maus family

Early in the evening, Congressman Earl Blumenauer unexpectedly came by to present a “Certificate of Congressional Recognition” to BikePortland. He said Portland has had ups and downs over the years that we’ve been covering his work on its behalf but says it’s currently enjoying a high point in its transportation progress.

earl

All the photos in this post except that last one were taken by Portland Bureau of Transportation Active Transportation Division Manager Margi Bradway, who somehow acquired my camera early in the evening and proceeded to have what she frequently announced was a fantastic time getting shots of everyone. We couldn’t get them all in but here’s a smattering of the good times that were had…

Paul Jeffrey (PJ), Brad Reber and Halley Weaver:

halle

Cory Poole and his daughter Penny:

cory daughter

Heidi Guenin and friends:

heidi

Timo Forsberg and Esther Harlow:

timo esther

Fred King:

goatee

Maria Schur:

maria schur

Susan Kubota:

bp cap

Nils Tillstrom, Corey Cartwright, Mark Ginsberg:

ginsberg trio

Fans of the site having a great time:

four guys

Hau Hagedorn:

hau

Emily Guise and Erik Soltan:

blond smile

Jonathan’s stepfather Art Wayman and his neighbors Kim and Jim:

bikepin

Katrina Yuen and Lars Larson:

beer grins

Carl Larson and Jonathan:

carl larson

David Griffiths:

david griffiths

Aaron Kaffen and friend:

aaron kaffen

Cameron Whitten, Scott Nowicki, Ken Southerland:

cameron ken

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Erinne Goodell and Kirk Paulsen:

kirk erinne

Brian Sysfail:

sysfail

P.J. in his natural environment:

peejay

Ryan Hashagen and Nick Falbo:

ryan nick

Friends enjoying the evening:

trio gals

Laura Weiss and friend:

beer curls

Cameron Whitten and friend:

cameron

My awesome wife Mo volunteered at the front-door table:

mo beer

We also invited people on stage for a live comments section. Speakers included the doggedly good-natured biking advocate Reuben Duemling, sometimes (OK, often) known online as 9watts:

reuben mike

Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky:

sadowsky

The do-it-yourself scourge of unsafe roads Jim Parsons, aka K’tesh:

jim parsons

Lenny Anderson, formerly of the Swan Island Transportation Management Association:

lenny

Safety advocate Kristi Finney:

kristi finney

City traffic signals engineer Peter Koonce:

peter koonce

Timur Ender, of Commissioner Steve Novick’s office:

timur ender

Aaron Brown (big hands) and friends:

aaron brown

Marsha Hancrow and Doug Klotz:

doug marsha

Josh Chernoff (L) and Eric Wilhelm:

eric l

Todd Mobley (L), Susan Koonce, Peter Koonce, Brian Davis, Mike Ard, Gwen Shaw, Jordan Norris:

lancaster crew

Laura Crawford and Adam Newman:

laura pathlesspedaled

Scott Mizee (L) and Robert Ping:

mizee ping

Sky Boyer (VC hat), Brad Carpenter (foreground) and friends:

sky and friends

A few celebrities arrived in uniform:

belligerante

And we also turned three empty bike boxes into a huge timeline of some of our favorite moments from the last 10 years.

timeline 1

We were glad to have several hundred temporary bike parking spaces (thanks to Bikeracker):

parking

(Photo: Aixe Djelal)

And two big chocolate cakes (thanks to Whole Foods Laurelhurst):

cake

It was a very memorable night and we are deeply grateful for all your well wishes and support.

If the people who surround you determine the person you become, we were lucky to have company like this on Friday to welcome BikePortland into our second decade. A lot more things are certain to happen, both for this 10-year-old start-up and for the city we all love. If you’ll be here for us to watch it happen, we’ll be here for you too.


The post Photos and memories from our 10th birthday celebration appeared first on BikePortland.org.

‘Bikes vs Cars’ film, coming to town next week, takes a global look at advocacy

‘Bikes vs Cars’ film, coming to town next week, takes a global look at advocacy

A new documentary looks at transportation activism in a way many of us rarely see: multinationally.

“Bikes vs. Cars,” made by Swedish director Fredrik Gertten and drawing on characters in Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, Toronto and Copenhagen, will screen at the Hollywood Theater at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, followed by a post-show discussion panel and party at the nearby Velo Cult bike shop.

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A successful Kickstarter project from 2013, Bikes vs. Cars is now on a global tour that has gotten mixed reviews. If its adversarial name will put off some potential viewers, well, at least its underlying philosophy is said to match. Here’s the director being interviewed by the Guardian in May:

“Car dependency,” Gertten says, “is a disease for society. If you’re dependent on having a car every day, you have lost your freedom. It’s very sad. Most people are unhappy in traffic. The people who bike their cities, they become city-lovers. When you’re in a car, you don’t see the city, you are only watching the road. On a bike, you can see the sky, you can see the trees. People get to know their countries in a different way.”

The way he describes it, which comes across even more intensely in the film, is not so much a clash between bikes and cars as a battle of love and hate. How do you know the contours of where you live? Do you dart across them like an urban hummingbird? Or do you crawl sightlessly along them in a tank?

The man may be strident, but it’d be hard to say he’s wrong.

Bikes vs. Cars is showing as part of the Portland Ecofilm Festival. Tickets to the film are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors, students and children 12 and under.


The post ‘Bikes vs Cars’ film, coming to town next week, takes a global look at advocacy appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Rudolph-lovers celebrate 50th anniversary of TV movie with sing-along on wheels

Rudolph-lovers celebrate 50th anniversary of TV movie with sing-along on wheels

sign

Paying homage to Portland’s unofficial Rudolph.
(Photos by M. Andersen/BikePortland)

If there was any question that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a TV movie for the ages, the number of generations who joined Saturday night’s mobile singalong should put it to rest.

“I’ve been watching it every year since I was a kid,” said Tom Howe, the ride’s leader. “The music is timeless.”

tom portrait

Ride leader Tom Howe.

Howe rigged up a small flat-screen TV on a trailer to tow behind his bike and set up at various waypoints around downtown Portland, including the OHSU/PSU Collaborative Sciences Building, the South Park Blocks, Director Park and Waterfront Park. At each stop, ridegoers watched a section of the 1964 holiday special and (reading from lyrics books that Howe had distributed) sang along to “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “We’re A Couple Of Misfits” and other songs from the show.

outside galactica

singing women

moody crowd

top of lincoln

girl

It was one of the rides in this year’s Puddlecycle, the urban winter bike-fun series organized by Tom McTighe. McTighe’s collaborator Howe is organizing Puddlecycle’s December rides this year; next week he’ll lead a trip to “Hidden Gems of the Springwater.” The week after that, it’s “Riders to the Stars,” a trip from IKEA in Northeast Portland across the Interstate 205 bridge to a spectacular multi-house computer-animated Christmas light display in Vancouver.

Howe said he’d been inspired to lead Saturday’s ride by the success, during PedalPalooza last June, of a similar Sound of Music sing-along.

Many of the several dozen people who joined Saturday’s ride came in costume. Eric Iverson was proud to note that most of his wardrobe had come from Goodwill:

eric iverson front

That included a light-up snowman sweater and the Rudolph stuffed animal, complete with glowing nose, that he’d added to his bike:

eric iverson back

Jenny Fosmire was in full Claus regalia and rode a bike lined with a red wreath and boas.

“Oh, that’s not even the festive bike,” she said. “That’s the backup.”

jenny fosmire

Dave Cockrell was one of several who had rigged up his own glowing nose for the event:

dave cockrell

Sarah Grenwis (who was celebrating her birthday by joining the ride) wore an elf’s hat:

sarah grenwis

As the crowd belted out “Silver and Gold” in Director Park, Carlton Rounds was one of a group of middle-aged men who walked up to watch and listen for a few minutes.

“This is an allegory for Portland,” said Rounds, who said he’d been lured over by the voice of Burl Ives. “Because we’re the Island of Misfit Toys!”

Richard Smith, 37, walked over with his two young boys from Elephant’s Deli when they heard the music.

“We were up having dinner and we thought we’d come check it out,” he said, marveling at the all-ages crowd of bike riders singing along to a television set in the middle of the public square. “I’m starting to piece together what’s happening here.”

Smith said he was definitely familiar with the movie and that his sons were “probably familiar with the music, if not the film.”

After the stop in Director Park, Howe led people walking their bikes through the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square, where participants at the Holiday Ale Festival were eager to share high-fives…

pcs

…and up 4th Avenue to Waterfront Park, where the group finished the movie with a singalong of the titular carol and a very dark group portrait beneath Portland’s most famous seasonal visitor.

crowd shot

Though most of the crowd was well over 18, the oldest of three children to attend Saturday’s ride was Bailey Keller, 14. He said he wasn’t aware of the show but had been convinced by his parents to join because it was a “free movie.”

bailey keller

Keller’s parents were more enthusiastic.

“We’ve watched it our whole lives,” said Cynthia Mohiddin, 46. “That and the Peanuts Christmas special.”

The post Rudolph-lovers celebrate 50th anniversary of TV movie with sing-along on wheels appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Rudolph-lovers celebrate 50th anniversary of TV movie with sing-along on wheels

Rudolph-lovers celebrate 50th anniversary of TV movie with sing-along on wheels

sign

Paying homage to Portland’s unofficial Rudolph.
(Photos by M. Andersen/BikePortland)

If there was any question that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is a TV movie for the ages, the number of generations who joined Saturday night’s mobile singalong should put it to rest.

“I’ve been watching it every year since I was a kid,” said Tom Howe, the ride’s leader. “The music is timeless.”

tom portrait

Ride leader Tom Howe.

Howe rigged up a small flat-screen TV on a trailer to tow behind his bike and set up at various waypoints around downtown Portland, including the OHSU/PSU Collaborative Sciences Building, the South Park Blocks, Director Park and Waterfront Park. At each stop, ridegoers watched a section of the 1964 holiday special and (reading from lyrics books that Howe had distributed) sang along to “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “We’re A Couple Of Misfits” and other songs from the show.

outside galactica

singing women

moody crowd

top of lincoln

girl

It was one of the rides in this year’s Puddlecycle, the urban winter bike-fun series organized by Tom McTighe. McTighe’s collaborator Howe is organizing Puddlecycle’s December rides this year; next week he’ll lead a trip to “Hidden Gems of the Springwater.” The week after that, it’s “Riders to the Stars,” a trip from IKEA in Northeast Portland across the Interstate 205 bridge to a spectacular multi-house computer-animated Christmas light display in Vancouver.

Howe said he’d been inspired to lead Saturday’s ride by the success, during PedalPalooza last June, of a similar Sound of Music sing-along.

Many of the several dozen people who joined Saturday’s ride came in costume. Eric Iverson was proud to note that most of his wardrobe had come from Goodwill:

eric iverson front

That included a light-up snowman sweater and the Rudolph stuffed animal, complete with glowing nose, that he’d added to his bike:

eric iverson back

Jenny Fosmire was in full Claus regalia and rode a bike lined with a red wreath and boas.

“Oh, that’s not even the festive bike,” she said. “That’s the backup.”

jenny fosmire

Dave Cockrell was one of several who had rigged up his own glowing nose for the event:

dave cockrell

Sarah Grenwis (who was celebrating her birthday by joining the ride) wore an elf’s hat:

sarah grenwis

As the crowd belted out “Silver and Gold” in Director Park, Carlton Rounds was one of a group of middle-aged men who walked up to watch and listen for a few minutes.

“This is an allegory for Portland,” said Rounds, who said he’d been lured over by the voice of Burl Ives. “Because we’re the Island of Misfit Toys!”

Richard Smith, 37, walked over with his two young boys from Elephant’s Deli when they heard the music.

“We were up having dinner and we thought we’d come check it out,” he said, marveling at the all-ages crowd of bike riders singing along to a television set in the middle of the public square. “I’m starting to piece together what’s happening here.”

Smith said he was definitely familiar with the movie and that his sons were “probably familiar with the music, if not the film.”

After the stop in Director Park, Howe led people walking their bikes through the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square, where participants at the Holiday Ale Festival were eager to share high-fives…

pcs

…and up 4th Avenue to Waterfront Park, where the group finished the movie with a singalong of the titular carol and a very dark group portrait beneath Portland’s most famous seasonal visitor.

crowd shot

Though most of the crowd was well over 18, the oldest of three children to attend Saturday’s ride was Bailey Keller, 14. He said he wasn’t aware of the show but had been convinced by his parents to join because it was a “free movie.”

bailey keller

Keller’s parents were more enthusiastic.

“We’ve watched it our whole lives,” said Cynthia Mohiddin, 46. “That and the Peanuts Christmas special.”

The post Rudolph-lovers celebrate 50th anniversary of TV movie with sing-along on wheels appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Oregon Walks celebrates Vision Zero plan and honors livable-streets visionaries

Oregon Walks celebrates Vision Zero plan and honors livable-streets visionaries

lake crowd

Metro active transportation planner Lake McTighe, center, at Oregon Walks’ annual fundraising dinner and awards.
(Photos: Nina Johnson for Oregon Walks)

After a significant grant victory that’ll see the group partnering with biking advocates to advance street safety plans across the state, Oregon’s largest walking advocacy group had plenty to celebrate Saturday.

As it heads into the first year with a new executive director, Oregon Walks toasted its supporters, members and other advocates for ambling at the group’s annual Weston Awards.

“With your support, we are going to bring Vision Zero to Portland,” board President Aaron Brown told the crowd of about 200, formally announcing a $10,000 joint grant from Advocacy Advance to Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to “build a broad coalition demanding a Vision Zero approach to transportation planning, policy, and funding to all levels of Oregon government.”

The two local advocacy groups have made Vision Zero — the principle that preventing death should be the first priority of transportation policy — big parts of their message in recent years. They were among three winners out of 78 applications for “Big Ideas” grants from the national Advocacy Advance program.

politicians

Portland City Council member Steve Novick, his wife Rachel Novick and Metro Council member Bob Stacey.

Among the attendees Sunday were Metro councilors Carlotta Colette, Kathryn Harrington and Bob Stacey; Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Portland Transportation Director Leah Treat, as well as various other local and regional staff and elected officials.

The highlight of Saturday’s program was probably the range of passionate speeches from winners of the Weston Awards, which Oregon Walks offers to recognize work on behalf of better walking.

boris

Better Block’s Boris Kaganovich.

One award went to the volunteer group Better Block, which over the last year and a half has organized three temporary redesigns of public street space, most recently on West Third Avenue outside Voodoo Doughnut.

“We can demonstrate with our projects how to reinvigorate our historic commercial districts,” Better Block organizer Boris Kaganovich said at the microphone, flanked by a row of other volunteers. “It doesn’t cost a fortune to build an amazing street.”

Kaganovich asked people across Portland to reach out to the group with more ideas.

“Come to us — let’s build these projects,” he said. “Not in a 30-year plan, not in a 40-year plan. Let’s fix our city in three to four years.”

lake

Metro Active Transportation Planner Lake McTighe.

Another award went to Lake Strongheart McTighe, active transportation planner for Metro’s regional government, who this year completed the first-ever active transportation plan across the full Portland region.

“Walking, even more than language, is what makes us humans,” she said.

anita yap

Anita Yap of the Multicultural Collaborative.

Award winner Anita Yap, founder of the Multicultural Collaborative consulting service, developer of the Cully Park Safe Access Project and a board member for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon and its Jade District project in the area near SE 82nd and Division, applauded the progress being made to retrofit auto-centric neighborhoods around the region.

“Look at the people we have at the table,” Yap added, alluding to the overwhelmingly white, English-speaking and well-to-do room of donors as well as to the broader political conversation in Portland. “Maybe we need a new table.”

don baack

SW Trails founder and advocate Don Baack.

Don Baack, founder of the DIY trailbuilding team Southwest Trails, received a lifetime achievement award for his efforts to build and maintain walking paths (along with maps and signs) on public rights-of-way through Southwest Portland, part of a sometimes uneasy truce with a city government that doesn’t always invite such projects.

In one legendary action, Baack left piles of gravel and stacks of buckets at either side of an unpaved trail through Himes Park, along with signs asking passers-by to fill a bucket and scatter the gravel as they walked. Two months later, the trail was finished.

Baack urged the room to contact city leaders in opposition to an overly “bureaucratic” approval process that he said is being considered for volunteer-built trails.

“That really kills everything on a citizen involvement basis,” Baack said. “When you have busy-work and bureaucracy, nobody wants to do anything.”

A final award winner, who couldn’t attend Saturday, was Kelly Clifton, a civil engineering professor at Portland State University. Emcee for the evening was Brian Benson, author of the bike-touring memoir Going Somewhere.

The event closed with an appeal for donations to the organization, which raised a total of $17,910 thanks in part to leading donations from pedestrian- and bike-oriented law firm Swanson, Thomas, Coon and Newton and car2go Portland.

singing

After helium balloons had been distributed to donors, Upstream Public Health transportation policy manager Heidi Guenin took the stage with Brown, untied the knots of two balloons, and the two led the room (or at least some of it) in a high-pitched verse of the Proclaimers hit “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).”

“That was not planned,” she said later.

You can see Oregon Walks’ other photos from the event on their Facebook page.

Disclosure: I volunteered to help set up for the Westons and I donate some personal money to Oregon Walks, as I do to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Correction 11/25: An earlier version of this post incorrectly summarized Southwest Trails’ relationship with the city of Portland.

The post Oregon Walks celebrates Vision Zero plan and honors livable-streets visionaries appeared first on BikePortland.org.

‘Cranksgiving’ will mix bike-racing fun with holiday charity

‘Cranksgiving’ will mix bike-racing fun with holiday charity

Click to enlarge.

A recent arrival from the Minneapolis bike-fun scene is bringing a new tradition to Portland: Cranksgiving, a combination “bike rally” and food drive that started in New York City in 1999 and has spread around the country.

Laura Recker, who moved to Portland last December, said she wants to tap into the “philanthropic spirit” and “collective love” of the holiday season while introducing more local bikers to the concept of urban bike races.

“I’ve thrown a few races,” Recker said. “I was surprised because in Minneapolis, a lot of people would turn up to them, and there isn’t as much interest in them around here. … I feel like there are a ton of urban cyclists in Portland that put down a ton of city miles and have this basic knowledge of the city and are able to get from point a to point b quickly — knowledge that we don’t get to tap into as a collective unit.”

That’s why Cranksgiving Portland, organized by Recker and a few friends, will invite teams of two to five to bring $10 per player, a bike and a lock to Velo Cult on Saturday, Nov. 23, a few days before Thanskgiving. They’ve teamed up with Outside In, the local nonprofit that helps homeless youth, to compile lists of nonperishable foods for each team to gather as quickly as possible.

The race will also have “some elements of surprise,” Recker said, though she wouldn’t reveal anything else.

Recker said she’s never participated in a Cranksgiving herself, though some of her collaborators have.

“We’re going to have a friendly competition with Seattle to see who can turn out the most riders. There will be perhaps some sort of gaudy golden turkey that will be exchanged eventually.”
— Laura Recker

“I actually came out a lot because of cycling,” she said. “When I was in Minneapolis, I heard a ton about Portland. We could compare ourselves to Portland a lot. The most creative place to live: Portland and Minneapolis. The best place for a 20-something to live: Portland and Minneapolis.”

Recker laughed.

“When I first got here, I was like, ‘Oh, you know how we compare ourselves with each other?'” she recalled. “They were like, ‘What? Who?'”

With that in mind, Recker and her associates have decided to make a different city the official rival of the Portland Cranksgiving.

“We’re going to have a friendly competition with Seattle to see who can turn out the most riders,” she said. “There will be perhaps some sort of gaudy golden turkey that will be exchanged eventually.”

— The event is at Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave., on Saturday, Nov. 23. Day-of registration runs 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm and the race begins at 2 pm. Teams are two to five players. Each player should bring a bike, a lock and $10. BikePortland is a cosponsor of the event.

Oregon Walks’ annual party celebrates an organization at a crossroads

Oregon Walks’ annual party celebrates an organization at a crossroads

Good times at the 2012 Weston Awards.
(Photo: Lillian Karabaic)

Energized by a dynamic young leader with deep ties to local bike advocates, the Portland area’s lead walking advocacy group has changed dramatically in the last four years. It’s about to find out where those changes will take it.

Oregon Walks, known until last year as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, has seen rapid changes to its board of directors and just said goodbye to its first-ever full-time executive director, Steph Routh. With its annual party and fundraiser Oct. 26, Oregon Walks will be rallying the supporters who ultimately drive its decisions — and, no doubt, feeling out its new direction.

Saturday is the last day when “early bird” tickets ($37.91 per person) will be available online.

Oregon Walks Board President Aaron Brown said Thursday that Routh had moved the organization’s identify from “one of transportation planners to one of social empowerment.”

Brown cited the group’s relationships with Adelante Mujeres, Elders in Action, AARP, Upstream Public Health and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon as the beginning of a new way the organization might operate once it recruits its next full-time staffer: as a sort of fundraising and coordinating service for other groups who want to build walking advocacy into their own missions.

For example, Oregon Walks’s recent “Photovoice” program used a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund to give cheap cameras to 20 women in Adelante Mujeres’ English class to take photos of the walking environment in their neighborhoods, showing why good sidewalks and street crossings are important in their lives.

It’s an interesting concept, and one that’s very much under discussion. This transition at Oregon Walks comes at an interesting time for local transportation advocacy in general. As we reported back in July, a significant new public transit-focused nonprofit is in its early stages, opening new possibilities for multimodal collaboration among that new group, Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

Brown said he personally likes “what Oregon Walks has going” and thinks its best course is to remain independent while looking for limited ways to team up with other groups.

In this new arrangement of organizations, Oregon Walks will have a key asset to offer its partners: public opinion. Though walking doesn’t tend to be great for fundraising, walkable neighborhoods are a hugely popular idea — one that, for whatever reason, doesn’t tend to get tangled with the sort of identity politics that biking, unfortunately, seems to.

“We’re really uniquely poised to bring new folks into the advocacy tent,” Brown said. “It’s an exciting time. … Buying a ticket is your way of saying you support a broader tent of transportation advocacy.”

— Tickets can be purchased online.

Portlanders prepare for Park(ing) Day party

Portlanders prepare for Park(ing) Day party

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(Park)ing Day in San Francisco, 2010.
(Photo: Josh Jackson)

The international festival that envisions ways to repurpose the 30% of central business district land area (PDF) that U.S. cities currently devote to auto parking keeps getting more interesting.

This Friday, Sept. 20, Park(ing) Day celebrations are going down at a few spots around Portland. But the most interesting might be the plan for SW Stark Street between 10th and 11th, close to Powell’s City of Books and just outside the Ace Hotel.

“We’re taking all of the parking spaces on SW Stark between 10th and 11th and turning them into extra bike parking, ping-pong tables, public parklets and outdoor seating for the nearby restaurants,” writes Katrina Johnston, the local researcher and designer behind THINK.urban. “Ace Hotel will also be doing two spaces in front of their place and there will be an event going on at The Cleaners that will serve as an unofficial after party.”

Sounds like a terrific event, especially since it’s happening in the heart of a downtown that’s in the midst of a big, multi-year conversation: whether to preserve every possible on-street auto parking space or to experiment with using all that real estate (it’s worth $20 per square foot per year) in some other way.

Last year, the Downtown Retail Council of the Portland Business Alliance, our local chamber of commerce, decided to oppose all expansion of a city program that let retailers opt to convert public auto parking to outdoor commercial patios.

That seemed like an odd decision, and it’s worth wondering whether the Downtown Retail Council really spoke for a majority of downtown retailers. In any case, stop by this downtown block party on Friday if you’re interested in thinking for yourself about interesting new ways to put our precious downtown land to use.

Closer to the east side? Check out Alta Planning and Design’s setup at 711 SE Grand. Look for the luau theme and (we’re told) the hot tub.

How to build the world’s longest bike touring route: 8 questions for Jean-Francois Pronovost

How to build the world’s longest bike touring route: 8 questions for Jean-Francois Pronovost

Quebec’s Route Verte. (click to enlarge)

Portland has a network of neighborhood greenways, and they’re great. But Jean-Francois Pronovost’s is 3,100 miles long.

That’s approximately the distance from Portland to Nicaragua.

The Greenway (Route Verte in Pronovost’s native French) is a bike route network running all over the Canadian province of Quebec. On Monday, the vice president for development and public affairs at advocacy group Vélo Québec visits Portland to share lessons from this project and others in the first annual Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, a major new series produced by Portland State University’s Institute for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation.

The event is free, though space is limited to 240. I spoke with Pronovost Thursday to learn more about his life’s work, the best parts of Quebec bike touring and how his hometown of Montreal managed to replace 320 auto parking spaces with a downtown protected lane that carries 9,000 bikes per day. (When you read his responses, be sure to imagine them in a dignified French-Canadian accent.)

Can you describe your most famous achievement, the Route Verte?
The Route Verte [pronounced with hard Ts and silent Es] is now 5,000 kilometers all over the province, linking the major city centers. The most interesting thing is that partnership that has built over 18 years, which is still going on. Tons of organizations, hotels, lodging facilities, that sort of thing.

Do you know how much money gets spent in a year by people on the Route Verte?
A few years ago when we measured that with university researchers, we were $134 million ($127 million USD). That doesn’t include bikes and accessories – it’s only travel expenses.

Jean-Francois Pronovost.

In his campaign last year, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales called for more emphasis on big, inspiring ideas like a bike trail to the Oregon coast. Did Route Verte begin with advocacy from people at the local level, or at the provincial level?
It’s very rare, but it was actually a decision of the prime minister of the province. He decided it was a way to help regional development and to help young people be involved in a big mobilization.

I talk to a lot of people in the US and Europe. Their first priority is not to link to every territory and every country. It takes some perspective to see all the benefits that you could have linking every region, every city, every municipality together. In little rural communities, the bicycle was not the agenda. But with the Route Verte, they were asked to be part of the movement, and that was their first experience to see how to include bicycles in the community.

Let’s shift to talking about cities. Montreal pioneered the use of physically protected urban bike lanes in North America. Lately, there seems to be an almost religious debate within the U.S. bike community over whether these should be widely used. What do you think?
I think it’s less a debate than it was a few years ago. I remember in the 80s we had the first parts of the Montreal bicycle network being built. People were saying, “No, that’s not the way to do it, bicycles have to ride in the street.”

We were really glad to see the administration here build these kind of facilities, because it was one of the reasons why we find so many people on their bicycle in Montreal. It’s not the only reason of course, but it’s been over the years a major incentive to ordinary people. Many cyclists don’t need. But many, many people need.

Is it something that we can implement everywhere? Probably not. It’s not the magical recipe. It’s something you have to adapt in the context you are working in. But the general idea is to create environment where the ordinary people will feel comfortable. And we don’t even talk about “safety,” because safety is a concept that is really different from one person to another. Comfort – it’s a feeling. You feel comfortable.

Montreal’s De Maisonneuve Boulevard on Wednesday.
(Photo courtesy Jean-Francois Pronovost.)

Lots of major bike projects lead to a removal of auto parking or an auto travel lane. What can you say to those who worry that these changes will hurt businesses or cause congestion?
I hate to say it, but merchants are often complaining. They complain for everything – they complain for the weather. I know that it’s tough to do business these days, but when you are in a neighborhood where a lot of people walk and bike, a lot of people who come to your shop will come by walking and biking.

For example, in downtown Montreal in 2008, when the city implemented the bike path on the De Maisonneuve Boulevard — it’s a big arterial street in the business district — they remove 320-something car spaces.

We have evaluated that in a corridor with 200 meters on both sides of the route, there were approximately 11,000 parking spaces. So 300 in 11,000 – you know, it’s almost nothing. The association of merchants was complaining of course at the beginning, and after a while everyone realize that it didn’t change anything.

And now you see that facility in downtown, where you have traffic of almost 10,000 cyclists a day. Everyone is happy. It’s a major improvement for everyone who wants to travel downtown by bicycle.

What’s the best thing about biking in Quebec that someone can’t find in Oregon?
Oh, geez. (laughs) I like biking in Oregon. I’ve been three times at least, mostly on the coast. What is interesting with the Route Verte is the connectivity. I’m able to leave from downtown Montreal with my bike and travel all over the province. We have 500 hotels that are certified “Welcome Cyclists.” So that means you arrive there and they are not scary about you. You arrive and you are welcome. They have special meals for you. So that’s very fun. And the geography’s very different – the St. Laurence River, the old villages, the French culture, the mix of the culture in Montreal – I think it’s fun to try at least once.

If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing to make you a better bike advocate, what would it be?
We never do enough partnership and building relationship. Because it is the key to be able to influence the decision-makers. It’s a work that is taking so much time to try to bring people all together.

What about biking most inspires you to work on its behalf? Don’t give me a list! I know there are lots of good reasons, but there’s got to be one that’s the most important thing for you.
I think it’s because it’s so simple. You can change a lot of things with the bicycle. You can change the way that people think, you can change the way that people feel, you can change the way the neighborhoods are friendly. A simple thing that can do so many great things.

Qs & As edited for brevity. Pronovost’s speech is 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, in Lincoln Hall at 1620 SW Park Ave.