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After 83 cars park in Mississippi Ave bike lanes, city issues 83 tickets

After 83 cars park in Mississippi Ave bike lanes, city issues 83 tickets

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Somebody started it and many others decided to follow suit. Bad idea.
(Photo: Portland Bureau of Transportation parking enforcement)

When an urban neighborhood holds a beloved street festival, space becomes scarce — and less space-efficient transportation options become a much worse way to get there.

A single city parking enforcement officer almost certainly paid for his or her time at the Mississippi Street Fair Saturday, issuing 83 parking tickets for $80 each to cars parked in Mississippi’s bike lanes during the annual north Portland festival.

City code prohibits parking any vehicle “on or within a bicycle lane, path, or trail,” among other places.

The Mississippi Street Fair’s website warned that “parking enforcement will be out” and highlighted the paid parking lots at two nearby schools, with proceeds to benefit the schools. It also noted three temporary bike parking locations and transit access via the Yellow Line and TriMet’s frequent No. 4 bus line.

City spokeswoman Hannah Schafer said Monday, in response to our email query based on some Twitter chatter, that the city’s parking hotline (503-823-5195) had “received a service request at 12:22 p.m. on Saturday.”







Schafer sent over some photos taken by the enforcement officer who responded to the call:

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This definitely isn’t the first time a Portland bike lane has been illegally converted to parking, and it won’t be the last. The city’s complaint-driven parking hotline can often be frustratingly inconsistent or slow to respond.

But we’re willing to bet this’ll be the last time for at least 83 attendees of the Mississippi Street Fair.

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

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How Sunday Parkways helps bridge Portland’s racial divides (video)

How Sunday Parkways helps bridge Portland’s racial divides (video)

When I started getting seriously interested in bicycles a few years ago, I already knew they were pollution-free, cheap, healthy, quiet, nonlethal and space-efficient.

What threw me for a loop, when I was talking to other Portlanders who were already interested in bicycles, was that they kept talking about community. Biking (and walking, and public transit) connected them with their neighbors and surroundings in a way that driving can’t.

The idea, it turned out, is backed up by science.

This week, two of the first Portlanders who I first heard talking about this concept, Elly Blue and Joe Biel of local company Microcosm Publishing, released a compelling short video about Portland’s Sunday Parkways open-streets festival that captures the idea and its relationship with one of Portland’s longstanding challenges: racial segregation, both socially and spacially.

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Linda Ginenthal, the Portland Transportation Bureau staffer who created Sunday Parkways, is one of several community voices here explaining how it works.

The piece is especially powerful if you know that one of the people behind this video is Phyllis Porter, a Seattle-based biking advocate who has been a force behind her city’s effort (so far with mixed success) to replicate Sunday Parkways there. Porter, who is black and lives in Seattle’s racially diverse Rainier Valley district, can be heard conducting some of the interviews.

This video (which actually premiered online yesterday on Seattle Bike Blog) is the latest in Microcosm’s Groundswell film series highlighting underappreciated participants the national biking movement. We covered an earlier Portland-based piece in the series here, and you can check out the full series so far here.

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


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In $21 million lawsuit, hit-and-run victim calls out dangerous stretch of N Interstate

In $21 million lawsuit, hit-and-run victim calls out dangerous stretch of N Interstate

Mike Cooley, shown here ready to head out on his
daily bike commute before his 2013 collision.
(Photos courtesy Lisa Cooley)

A man whose legs were paralyzed in an unsolved 2013 hit-and-run on Interstate Avenue has sued the city, state and regional transit agency for $21 million.

Mike Cooley’s wife Lori, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told us in a May interview that she’s motivated in part by the lack of changes to Interstate Avenue’s bike lanes despite years of serious collisions on the street.

“Something has to be done to make that road safer or just shut it down for bikes,” Lori Cooley said. “There’s just too many injuries there.”

Lori Cooley said their attorney, Randy Pickett, hired a private investigator to study what she said are seemingly endemic problems on Interstate near the site of Mike Cooley’s collision at Interstate and Greeley.

“I don’t understand how nobody could be doing anything to make that safer when there’s been so many injuries.”
— Lori Cooley, wife of man paralyzed by collision

“He and our attorney sat there at that spot where Mike got hit and they were just appalled at the number of close calls,” Cooley said. “They just could not believe it when they saw it with their own eyes how dangerous that is. … I don’t understand how nobody could be doing anything to make that safer when there’s been so many injuries.”

According to the Cooleys’ lawsuit, whose filing was first reported Thursday by The Oregonian, the one-mile stretch of Interstate between NE Going and NE Russell has seen nine other serious bike-related collisions from 2003 to 2014, including one fatality: Brett Jarolimek, who died at the Interstate/Greeley intersection in 2007.

After Jarolimek’s death, the city redesigned the intersection to prohibit right turns off Interstate onto Greeley. However, that didn’t stop the driver of a pickup truck from making an illegal 135-degree right turn into the path of Curtis Crothers in 2013. Crothers survived eight broken ribs, a punctured lung and other injuries.

The City of Portland’s Vision Zero collision map shows 19 bike-related injuries on that stretch from 2004 to 2013, including Jerolimek’s death.

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Unlike Jarolimek and Crothers, Cooley was biking north, uphill, on Interstate at Greeley. He wasn’t hit by a turning vehicle, but by one that police said had been “driving erratically before the crash.” The bike lane there, which is uphill on a slight curve, is only about four feet wide and its paint is often worn down because tires cross it so frequently.

Approximate location of collision.

(Graphic: BikePortland reader Joshua Cohen)

The most recent major redesign of Interstate Avenue was in 2003, when TriMet constructed the Yellow Line on what had previously been a state-run urban highway. As part of this work, the project added a nearly continuous, but sometimes unusually narrow, bike lane. In this narrow stretch of the road, which gets regular truck traffic and where Interstate is situated partway up a slope in many locations, the bike lanes are particularly harrowing to ride in.

Lori and Mike Cooley, also before the collision.

The Cooleys’ lawsuit has this to say:

In designing the roadway on North Interstate Avenue, just north of Greeley Avenue, in a dangerous condition for bicyclists and motor vehicle operators, at a time when defendants knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that the roadway was too narrow to safely accommodate both motor vehicles and bicyclists.

When Lori Cooley and I spoke last month, it was clear that her feelings about the collision are dominated by despair over her husband’s injury and its aftermath. Cooley (whose email address, both before the collision and after, starts with “cheerfulheart”) also has a serious medical condition; Mike Cooley was her caregiver before his collision. These days, she cares for both of them.

“He still has a ventilator at night and he has a lot of breathing machines and breathing therapy that we need to do,” Lori said. “He’s still a parapalegic, still in a wheelchair, and probably always will be. … We’ve gone through lots of caregivers where they just quit. They just quit coming.”

“Mike’s life, my life, are just completely ruined, really,” she said. “It’s been really, really hard.”


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Rodney Avenue neighborhood greenway gets open house next week

Rodney Avenue neighborhood greenway gets open house next week

New traffic diverter at Rodney and Ivy-2

NE Rodney at Ivy.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Rodney Avenue, already a decent low-stress alternative to the Vancouver-Williams couplet, is lined up for an upgrade to full neighborhood greenway status.

At an open house next Wednesday evening, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will be asking people for their thoughts on the plans.

To make the route comfortable for all riders, the city will need to find good ways to help people navigate two jogs in the street grid, at NE Alberta and NE Fremont (pictured below).

Bike Gallery warehouse sale!

It’ll also be important to control cut-through traffic. Last fall, responding to worries about commuters driving on Rodney to avoid Williams Avenue construction, the city installed a temporary diverter. But people have repeatedly chosen to drive directly through the barrier rather than following the rules there.

New diverter on Rodney not working that great-1

The city later installed metal-pole signs to block moves like this, but some people have driven around those, too.

The event is 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1 in the Immaculate Heart Church at 2926 N Williams Ave. For more information, contact Project Manager Rich Newlands at (503) 823-7780 or Rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov.

For more background on this project browse our Rodney Neighborhood Greenway story archive.

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With new leadership curriculum, CCC thinks broader about its community work

With new leadership curriculum, CCC thinks broader about its community work

Take Back the Streets

North Portland organizer Jason Washington and
Outgoing Community Cycling Center Systems Builder Ilaoa
(Photo: Melinda Musser/CCC)

After two years of operating a satellite bike repair shed in North Portland’s public mixed-income New Columbia community, the Community Cycling Center is deepening its community involvement.

The nonprofit bike shop and biking-for-everyone advocacy group is combining bike events and education with a rising educational philosophy known as “Thrive” in an effort to help residents change their city for the better.

“A lot of the time organizations go to a community and they don’t really try to help, but you give them what you think they need,” said Sheena Ilaoa, an educator who just finished a summer designing the new curriculum for the CCC. “What we’re trying to give them is tools.”

Bikes are still likely to play a key role. But Ilaoa, who spends most of the year as a youth educator at nearby George Middle School, said in an interview last week that bicycles will be involved not just for their own sake but as part of a larger plan to empower New Columbia residents and neighbors.

Ilaoa, whose temporary grant-funded position had the intriguing title of “systems builder and community activator,” was the CCC’s lead staffer supporting last month’s ride against violence on the streets there.

“With Jason and De Marcus, the community members that I worked with, they didn’t have access to a lot of things as a nonprofit that we have access to,” Ilaoa said in an interview last week. “They didn’t have the social capital that we have.”

So Jason Washington and De Marcus Preston brought their expertise in what the community needed, while the CCC brought its media connections and event-planning experience.

Actions like last month’s will be part of a “leadership development” curriculum the CCC is building into a set of adult programs that pay modest stipends — $100 a month, for example — to community members who participate.

“You’re receiving $75 to go to a couple meetings about something you’re really passionate about,” Ilaoa explained.

Ilaoa said her “systems builder and community activator” title was the brainstorm of her boss, CCC Program Director Zoe Piliafas.

“It’s kind of a mouthful if you ever try to say it out loud,” she said with a laugh. “It’s definitely the longest thing on my resume.”

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