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‘When you have it, it’s priceless’: Nine questions for Seleta Reynolds

‘When you have it, it’s priceless’: Nine questions for Seleta Reynolds

Seleta Reynolds

Los Angeles transportation director Seleta Reynolds.
(Photo via TREC at PSU)

Seleta Reynolds gets results.

As we reported last week, the city whose livable streets program she led for three years, San Francisco, has subsequently delivered the nation’s most consistent string of boosts in bike commuting.

She’s now one year into a vastly larger gig: transportation director for the City of Los Angeles, which turned millions of heads last month when it rolled out a citywide plan to gradually reallocate numerous auto lanes to create dedicated bus lanes and 300 miles of protected bike lanes.

She’s also one of the most reflective transportation leaders in the country, as the interview below makes clear. Ahead of her free Oct. 6 talk at Ecotrust, we caught up with Reynolds to discuss her advice for Portland’s advocates and bureaucrats, the arguments for biking that work best and whether Portland is still cool.

How did you get into this stuff?

Sort of by accident. when I graduated from college, I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do. I just started cold-calling people that I found just randomly. Through a friend, I got an internship at the City of Oakland.

“When I spray-painted my first dot and then went back to see there was not only a bike rack there but a bike was parked at it, it was love at first sight.”

All the folks that I talked to, they were smart, they were generous, and they were all engaged in what they were doing. And I thought, that’s interesting, you don’t see that every day. When I spray-painted my first dot and then went back to see there was not only a bike rack there but a bike was parked at it, it was love at first sight.

So you’re part of the secret cabal of liberal arts students who run the country’s active transportation movement?

As a history major, it’s very similar to history. You can I can see the same event and have a vigorous debate about it. Transportation is the same. We’re going to look at the same 80 feet of asphalt and think about who it’s for, why it’s there, how it’s going to be organized.

It’s as much art as it is science. I think that’s the trick of it. Although I have electrical engineers who build my signals, this not really about structural engineering. It’s not really about how much load the pylon will bear. It’s about how moving a stripe six inches to the left will impact human behavior.

How is your new hometown different than your last one?

Obviously it’s bigger. I think you can fit seven or eight San Franciscos into Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has extremely low voter turnout. Nine percent of the city’s population voted in the last mayoral election. in northern California, they vote at higher levels and I think that reflects a belief that you can actually affect government.

There is a much stronger equity streak in the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy here than there is in northern California, on social justice. Which I think is a legacy of the riots in Los Angeles, which really burned the city to the ground. The city had to have a really honest conversation with itself about the reasons that happened.

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What do people misunderstand about Los Angeles?

It’s a highly urban place. I live work and play in a city the size of Boston, because downtown is strong and getting stronger every day. It’s extremely walkable and bikable. A third of the people that live in and around downtown are zero-vehicle households. So I don’t experience the same kind of crushing traffic that I think is so associated with Los Angeles.

Street art at Hill and 4th-2-3

Street art at Hill and 4th, Los Angeles.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Earlier this year, Paul Steely White of TransAlt in NYC told us that “livable streets” arguments are turning out to be less powerful than “safe streets” arguments. “Livable streets” was your job title in San Francisco — what’s your take?

“Safety does not resonate with people as an argument for bike infrastructure. Because people perceive that bicyclists are poorly behaved.”

I have a lot of admiration and respect for him, but I would respectfully disagree, and say that’s a false choice. At least in Los Angeles, the idea of inviting people into the streets has been so powerful and revolutionary. We have the largest open-streets events in the country, the cicLAvia. People were afraid that nobody was going to show up. and it’s been such a tremendous success.

What safety is is above reproach. Safety is not a philosophical conversation. When you bring safety into it, you’re talking about something that really can’t be argued.

The problem is that you cannot use safety — and this is based on real focus group work that we did — safety does not resonate with people as an argument for bike infrastructure. Because people perceive that bicyclists are poorly behaved. People say that it’s bicyclists’ own fault that they get in these crashes. What good is a bike lane going to do? I would not agree, when it comes to bike infrastructure, that safety is persuasive. Pedestrian infrastructure is different.

What do you think of the argument that with so many problems in our cities, there’s no way to justify biking as a top priority?

The underlying assumption is that you have a fixed amount of political capital. I would really hope that you don’t have to choose between those things.

In Oakland, right before I left, people were talking about schools, they were talking about crime, they were talking about jobs. Nobody was talking about transportation. Transportation is about all of those things! I like to say, if you want to work on big-city problems, you should be in transportation. Because it’s about everything else.

The trouble isn’t choosing between schools and biking. The trouble is focusing on one mode as the transportation agenda. It can’t just be about biking. Biking is a tremendously important foundation, but it has to be about the broader array of transportation choices.

My California Adventure-29

Chinatown, Los Angeles.

As someone with lots of experience in city government, what advice do you have for advocates?

“In the best partnership, the advocates have clearly decided I’m going to work inside the building or I’m going to work outside the building.”

In the best partnership, first and foremost, the advocates have clearly decided I’m going to work inside the building or I’m going to work outside the building.

The second rule is that when things get tough, there is more communication instead of less communication. The tendency is that when things get difficult, both sides get super opaque.

The third thing I would say about that sort of successful collaboration is that there has to be space for real honesty. It’s okay in my experience when an advocacy organization comes in and say “Hey, we really hate what you’re doing with this project.” And the city can say “here are the challenges we were dealing with.” And the advocates can say, “We understand, we’re still going to go hard on you in the press.” Then we’ve both respected each other as equals.

Any advice for city officials?

I’ve always said: listen, the political will. When you have it, it’s priceless, and you don’t know when it’s going to be there tomorrow. When you have it, you need to jump on it.

Have you been to Portland before?

I lived there for a couple summers. It was in between my sophomore and junior and junior and senior years. It was the whole reason I came to the West Coast, because I loved Portland so much. I worked at the Noah’s Bagels on Hawthorne and then on Northwest 23rd. I did catering at the Rose Garden.

A lot of folks who work in the mayor’s office here, they’re under 30. I was talking to one of them about Portland. And he was like, “was that in the 90s?” He was like, “Oh yeah, back when it was really cool.” I was like, “Hey, it’s still pretty cool.”

Qs & As were edited. Reynolds returns to Portland Oct. 6 to deliver this year’s Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, an address about transportation issues from an out-of-town perspective hosted by the Transportation Research and Education Center. The event is free but it’s half-booked so far, and an RSVP is required for guaranteed seating. Update 6 pm: TREC now says the event is down to 20 seats out of 150.


The post ‘When you have it, it’s priceless’: Nine questions for Seleta Reynolds appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Guest article: Biking on the cheap

Guest article: Biking on the cheap

Disaster Relief Trials -43

Reuben Deumling.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article was written by Reuben Deumling, a Portland resident, active participant in the local cargo biking scene, and frequent commenter who some of you may know as “9watts.” You might also recall the cool, DIY wooden child seat he shared with us back in 2010.

——

I often read here on BikePortland about $5,000 singlespeeds and $6,000 cargo bikes, and I think about a lifetime of used or discarded bikes I’ve fixed up and ridden or resold. I enjoy the lines of a Vanilla or Ahearne or Bullitt as much as the next person, but choosing to live lower on the pecuniary totem pole, that is just not my market.

I’d like to share what the economics of bicycling looks like from my perspective.

Part of the fun of not owning a car is that you avoid all the bills — gas, oil, insurance, parking, and repairs, (not to mention buying the car itself and eventually replacing it) — that come with it. For me, that statistic you read about that suggests the average car-owning household spends around $9,000 per year in car-related expenses, is inconceivable given how our household has chosen to spend money.

I’ve often gotten the impression that many people believe you have only two options when considering a new bike: (1) spend $1,500 at a local shop, or (2) reward thieves by looking for a questionable bike on Craigslist. My experience has been quite different.

Over the past nine years, my family of three has spent an average of just over $2,000 on transportation annually, of which 50% goes for the once-a-year airplane trip to visit my in-laws (I know – a carbon disaster!), while the remaining $1,000 are divided among bikes ($400), busses, and trains ($400), and auto-related costs (when we hitch a ride, take a taxi, or rent a Zipcar) ($230).

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The $400 we spend on bikey things in an average year goes for bikes (our daughter has used and grown out of I think seven used bikes already), parts, accessories, and the occasional tool ($270); bike trailers ($50); and panniers, helmets, and clothing ($90).

For me, the best part is that most of the money I spend on bikes and trailers and panniers and racks stays right here in Portland, and, like the bikes themselves, the money continues to circulate in our community.

Often here on BikePortland we discuss the fact that we-who-bike depend on the global economy, oil, and things made-in-China like everyone else, since our bikes and parts are now assumed to have been made over there and shipped halfway around the world. And this is probably largely true when it comes to a new brake pad or chain or derailleur cable. But taking a larger view of owning and maintaining a bike, it is possible to go about this in a manner that is far less dependent on that kind of commerce and rapid replacement schedule.

There are, after all, millions of used bikes, dumpstered tires, wheels left out on the curb, and used parts bins in bike stores. Holding on to the bike you have, or finding a decent used one, and making it last a lifetime is in most cases entirely possible. But does anyone still do this? Yes! And we don’t all have the same reasons.

For some of us there is satisfaction in making the cast-offs, garage sale bikes, and parts that someone else doesn’t want anymore work as well as whatever the Bike Shop or the internet has to offer this month. For others, the opportunity to avoid buying plastic parts made in Asia is a chief motivation.

Some of you might be tempted to dismiss this approach, and assume it is solely because we don’t have much money. But I think you’d be missing a lot if you did.

For me, the best part is that most of the money I spend on bikes and trailers and panniers and racks stays right here in Portland, and, like the bikes themselves, the money continues to circulate in our community.

fall colors

Citybikes is a good source for used parts.

The only bike I ever bought new was a 1987 Schwinn Cimarron MTB when I was sixteen. It cost $700.00. I’ve owned and ridden other bikes since then, but all were acquired used, and maintained or pieced together from my stash of parts. I can usually find a complete bike that may have retailed for a lot when new, but now just needs a tuneup, for less than $100. The bike stores I’ve long preferred also sell used parts and accessories. Looking through the bins at the Citybikes at 1914 SE Ankeny, or scanning Craigslist for (mountain) bikes from the late eighties always yields something useful and often fairly cheap.

Case in point: I rode my 28 year-old Schwinn mountain bike to Citybikes just this morning and came home with some lightly used Kool Stop cantilever brake pads for $4.00.

I don’t think any of us are getting rich recycling used parts into “new” bikes — but we end up with bikes that can serve us well, and that we are able to maintain, find parts for, and keep riding, year after year, decade after decade.


The post Guest article: Biking on the cheap appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Meet Aixe Djelal, the ‘helmetographer’ behind BicycleHead

Meet Aixe Djelal, the ‘helmetographer’ behind BicycleHead

bicycleheadlead

All images by Aixe Djelal.

I’m not sure how I stumbled onto the work of Aixe Djelal (pronounced “eye-SHAY ja-LAL”), but now I find myself checking her latest images several times per week. I think it’s the randomness of them, or maybe it’s how she captures the ephemeral vignettes I often see myself but rarely capture.

bicyclehead-aixe-double

Djelal, the woman behind the BicycleHead website and Instagram account has been publishing (almost) daily images of Portland bike riders since May 2013. What sets her images apart is that she never even looks at her subject and all her shots are completely hands-free.

That’s because Djelal is a self-described “helmetographer” whose images are created with a camera mounted to her helmet that’s always on during her daily bike commute. The result is a running narrative of what it’s like to ride a bike in Portland in all it’s exhilirating, fun, stressful, annoying — and always interesting — glory.

I recently caught up with Djelal and asked her a few questions via email…

First, a bit of personal background. What part of town do you live in?

I live in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Southeast Portland.

How long have you lived in Portland?

I moved here in 1989 to go to Reed College, and I’ve lived here ever since (with the exception of graduate school in Arizona, which made me love cycling in Portland even more). The bicycle has been my primary form of transportation most of my life.

What do you do when not taking bike photos?

I’m a senior web project manager at OHSU and I also help my husband Matt Proctor run his electric guitar making business, M-tone Guitars. When I’m not riding my bike, you can usually find me walking all over Portland. I also like to take photos of local bands and BMX freestyle jams, and I daydream about extending my helmetography project all over the world.

What motived you to start BicycleHead?

In 2013, an irate driver tried to run me off the road in downtown Portland. I got a helmet camera to capture video of my rides in case another driver threw a baby fit about cyclists using the road. Once I saw a couple of my rides on video, I realized I was getting some cool scenes of Portland that would be a lot more interesting as still photography. The goal of my helmetography is to share Portland from a year-round bicycle commuter’s point of view. People all over the world seem to have an interest in Portland bicycle culture right now, and my helmetography helps paint a picture of what it’s like to ride here.

What is your camera set-up and how do you get your shots?

I use a Contour Roam2 camera mounted on a Bell Muni helmet. The camera has a 170 degree lens which gives the photos a slightly fish-eyed dreamy look. It is set to intervelometer mode: as soon as I turn it on it automatically shoots a still every three seconds. I discovered that I get better photos when I point the camera backwards, so I do that most of the time. My standard commute is six miles round trip, though sometimes I will ride different, longer routes to keep the helmetography fresh. I like riding slowly, so every night I sort through 500-900 photos and keep maybe a couple. It’s a somewhat compulsive, time consuming project, but I really love sharing Portland through my bicycle commuter lens.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve captured on camera?

Some of my most interesting shots are of infrequent snow (mostly because it’s unusual), tail lights in thick fog, a guy shoving a crossfit sled down the street like Sisyphus, a right to sleep demonstration that was an offshoot of Occupy Portland, and most recently, the protest ride in response to the uptick of motorists hitting cyclists in May 2015. After 26 years, I consider Portland a fairly normal place to live and ride, but when people from other places see my photos they are surprised how many cyclists there are on the road.At this point I plan to keep on going with my helmetography. I enjoy it, others seem to as well, and I am happy show what a joy it is to ride a bicycle!

Check out a few more of Djelal’s images below, or see them all at BicycleHead.com.

2014-09-12_sunny_tieandtruck

“The necktie and the truck” (9/12/14)

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wedgeofbluethroughunderpass

“Wedge of blue through underpass” (1/24/14)
cyclist-streaming-away-from-sunset

“Cyclists streaming away from sunset.” (4/22/15)
2014-07-22_cloudy_doggybag

“Doggy bag” (7/22/14)
2015-05-12_downboundtrain

“Downbound train” (5/12/15)
2015-04-20_shadows-gliding-down-salmon-street

“Shadows gliding down Salmon Street.” (4/20/15)

BicycleHead.com


The post Meet Aixe Djelal, the ‘helmetographer’ behind BicycleHead appeared first on BikePortland.org.

For Blake Hicks, bike tricks are ticket to the big time

For Blake Hicks, bike tricks are ticket to the big time

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-17-17

Blake Hicks is a fixture in Waterfront Park,
where he can be seen nearly every day
working on his tricks.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

For the past four years, southeast Portland resident Blake Hicks has focused his entire life on two things: Perfect his bike tricks and share them with the world. Now, after countless hours of hard work, the 28-year-old professional performer is about to embark on the biggest summer of his young career.

I first came across Blake’s amazing riding skills in 2006, when I photographed him practicing his moves in Waterfront Park. Yesterday I was riding through the park and there he was again — working on his awe-inspiring, spinning, rolling, and balancing act. And I’m glad I stopped to talk because he’s about to leave for a three-month performance gig at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-2-2

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-15-15

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-5-5

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-9-9

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-1-1

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-12-12

“How do you do all those tricks?” this little dude asked.

“It’s all official, but it still doesn’t seem real. You have this dream, and then, it sort of starts to happen… It’s exciting.”
— Blake Hicks

“This has been my job for the past four and-a-half years,” he said, as he caught his breath between tricks and cooled off in the mist of the Salmon Street Fountain. To make ends meet, Blake performs about 2-3 nights per week and relies on ad revenue from his YouTube videos. It was one of those videos featuring his signature “Tron Bike” (a bike wrapped in bright blue lights) that caught the eye of a big-time talent scout and show producer who works with Busch Gardens. He signed Blake to a three-month, all-expenses paid contract to be one of 40 performers in the “Kinetix” show (officially described as a “non-stop 30-minute contemporary rock experience that delivers awesome lighting effects, modern music, and high-energy performances”).

After the Busch Gardens contract is up, he’s being flown to India to perform and talk about his act in front of thousands of students at a technology college. Then, the same booker who got him the Florida gig, has signed Blake for a two-month European tour this fall.

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-6-6

For Blake, now 28, his dedication to making this his career started when he got laid off in 2008. “It was the during the downturn and I was on unemployment, and I thought, I might as well follow my dream. I bought this bike and just riding. Every day.”

Blake still manages his own schedule and doesn’t have an agent. He’s had his ups and downs when it comes to learning the ropes of the business. “Everybody says they can make me famous, but I’ve realized that only about 1 out of 10 people will actually book me and pay me.”

Blake says he’s still a bit naive about the business side of things, but that hasn’t stopped him from making big strides. He’s garnerred a huge following on YouTube and he’s a regular performer at the Electric Daisy Carnival, an annual rave in Las Vegas that attracts around 200,000 people. A video of Blake performing at that event last year went viral and has over 18,000 views on YouTube. But it’s not all glitz and glam for Blake. He’s performed at schools, churches, and just about any other type of event you could think of. His current regular gigs include a performance at Dante’s Inferno (downtown Portland) every other week and the monthly Voyeurism show at Star Theater.

What has set Blake apart — besides his bike skills, good attitude, and natural stage presence — is his bright blue “Tron Bike.” “To succeed in this business, you’ve got to embody something. That’s been my philosophy. For me, my thing is blue. The Tron Bike, my blue hair, the blue clothing. When people see the color blue, I want them to say, ‘Have you ever seen that guy with the Tron bike!?'”

While his blue bike gets a lot of attention, Blake doesn’t need any gimmicks to wow the crowds. He’s one of the best flatland riders in the country. Yesterday he showed me his most difficult trick: The Stubbleduck. It’s a dizzying spinning move where he and his bike do 360s in opposite directions. Here’s how Blake explains it: “It’s like me and the bike are orbiting around each other… I’m the eye of the storm and my bike is the tornado.” Blake has put in hundreds of hours of practice for this one, few-second trick. But it’s worth it, for the bragging rights if nothing else, “I’m one of only two people who in the world who can do that trick, and the other guy is in France,” Blake says proudly.

In a few days, Blake will pack up his car and spend 10 days driving to Florida — and of course he’s already lined up shows along the way.

Reflecting on where he’s been and where he’s going, Blake says, “It’s all official, but it still doesn’t seem real. You have this dream, and then, it sort of starts to happen… It’s exciting. I might never come back.”

You can check out Blake on his YouTube channel, on Facebook, or just head over to Waterfront Park on a sunny day and look for a spinning blue bike.

Blake Hicks at Salmon St Fountain-10-10

Good luck Blake! We’ll be rooting for you back home in Portland.

Former Tribune photographer finds life lessons on cross-country bike ride

Former Tribune photographer finds life lessons on cross-country bike ride

L.E. Baskow ready to roll around Lake Superior.

48-year-old Sellwood resident L.E. Baskow, a former staff photographer for the Portland Tribune, completed a cross-country bike ride in the summer of 2011. He rode 4,000 miles across nine states in three months and even crossed into Ontario a few times. Now he’s created a book about his journey that mixes photographs from the road with life lessons shared by the people he met along the way.

In Pedaling on the Road of Life, Baskow shares an intimate view into everyday, American life and his images are a testament to how much one sees when traveling by bicycle. While he waits to find the right publisher, Baskow is working at OHSU and looking for sponsors of his participation as the official photographer for the Cycle Greater Yellowstone ride coming up in August.

I caught up with L.E. and asked him a few questions about his trip and his book project…

Why’d you feel the need to get out on your bike and see the country?

My life was at a crossroads, having moved to Hawaii to freelance for a year and moving back due to my family not taking to island life. I was planning at week’s ride which became two then came the suggestion to keep going all the way. Within 8 weeks the ride was planned, gear donated by friends and family, Kickstarter money raised and a documentary photo project hatched.

What camera equipment did you roll with?

Amazingly I shot the whole journey with a Canon G12 point-and-shoot with zoom generously loaned to me by Pro Photo Supply in Portland. I mounted a super clamp to my handlebars which allowed for quick access and shot nothing but RAW images. The decision was one of weight and ease with no lens changes needed.

How did seeing the country from a bike saddle change you?

Maybe it sounds a bit melodramatic but it absolutely renewed my faith in humanity. As a newspaper photojournalist for 16 years I have seen and photographed some horrific things and unfortunately witnessed much negative human behavior and emotions. Literally from day 1 people reached out to me wanting to know of my journey, offering me food and drink, often a place to stay. I was treated like a family member and amazing things happened every day to open my mind to a greater appreciation of our country and the diversity of people in it. Moreso, it showed me that I have an amazing inner and exterior strength with the will to pedal over 4,000 miles through all kinds of weather, terrain, bugs, traffic and much more.

Tell us more about your book project…

The photo project is titled “Pedaling on the Road of Life” with the concept that as I’m unsure what my life is all about others out across the country may have good insights, at least tell me what works for them. The idea was to photograph them and pair up that image with their life quote or philosophy. It is currently constructed online with hopes of finding a publisher, think it would make a pretty cool coffee table book.

Lastly, I have just been signed on as the event/ride photographer for the first Cycle Greater Yellowstone week-long ride this coming August. Would love for some Portland cycle businesses to help sponsor me in exchange for my promoting them in any way possible. The organizer of the event is Jim Moore who is a 10 year veteran of running Cycle Oregon so it looks to be great.

Here are a few photos from his strip (captions are by L.E. Baskow):

Astoria, Oregon.

Delaware County Fair.

Hydroponic strawberries.

“When I grow up I wanna be a knight” says Joey Hauser, 9, of Gildford, MT. He’s with his dog Cowboy on a bench outside his family store, the Gildford Mercantile.

Sunset on Lake Superior.

Church baptism in lake.

“No longer will I cry for the terrible things I have done, I will be smiling for the wonderful things I’m about to do.” Dominic Travers of Cut Bank, Montana.

Wildflowers bloom on a ridge overlooking the beautiful Yakima River and valley outside of Bristol, Washington.

View more images from Baskow’s trip in his photo gallery. You can also view an electronic version of his book here.

April Economides is bringing bicycling to businesses

April Economides is bringing bicycling to businesses

April Economides

April Economides.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yesterday I met April Economides, a self-described “green urbanist” who is growing a solid reputation for making bicycles — and bicycling — a more visible and respected part of doing business. Through her firm, Green Octopus Consulting, April works with business associations, advocacy groups, and government agencies to plan and implement bike-friendly business practices. She stopped in Portland en route to Eugene where she’s speaking and giving a workshop today thanks to an invite by the University of Oregon and the City of Eugene.

April, 37, seems poised to capitalize on the growing awareness that “bikes mean business.” That’s a term that emerged in Portland in May 2011 and has since ridden a wave of acceptance and high-profile attention: Research has proven the buying-power of bike-riding customers; bikes and business panels are common at transportation conferences; the idea of “bikenomics” has taken hold thanks to activist/journalist Elly Blue; and the League of American Bicyclists has made “Bicycling Means Business” the theme of the 2013 National Bike Summit.

April’s work in tying business to bicycling goes back to 2010 when she was hired by the City of Long Beach (where she currently resides) to create and manage the nation’s first Bike Friendly Business District. While education about bicycling as a transportation option is baked into Portland’s transportation bureau (thanks Active Transportation Division!), other cities aren’t as fortunate and having someone with April’s experience and outlook is invaluable. (That’s not to say Portland couldn’t use more bike-friendly business programs.)

In Long Beach, she worked with business improvement districts (BIDs) to create an informal merchant bike share. Each district purchased 2-4 bikes and a cargo bike. The bikes were stored at a participating business or at the BID office and any employee could check them out and use them for running errands, making deliveries, and so on. The program also included installation of bike racks, bike valet services, free bike repair, and a host of community rides to promote the various business districts. And there are other, more subtle things she implemented like making sure there are bike directions on company websites and putting a bike-friendly logo on shop windows.

“It’s not reinventing the wheel,” April said about her work, “It’s taking what businesses already do and squeezing bikes into it.”

“It’s not reinventing the wheel. It’s taking what businesses already do and squeezing bikes into it.”
— April Economides

April’s work in Long Beach lead to other jobs throughout North America. An invitation from the San Diego Bike Coalition to speak to the 18-district strong San Diego Business Improvement District Council led to creation of a 20-page plan on making them more bike-friendly. Now business leaders in San Diego are hopping on one of the 18 custom bikes purchased as part of the program and they’re lobbying for bike corrals.

What makes April’s perspective different is her background and passion for small business. She has an MBA and has worked as a staffer for business improvement districts so she’s not simply a bike advocate making the case to business owners; she’s a business booster who just happens to believe bikes are the key to Main Street’s survival. “I’m not only passionate about this because it’s getting people onto bikes, ” she says, “it’s also helping small businesses.”

According to April, the business case for bicycling is simple: “We’re traveling at human-scale speed, not surrounded by metal, so we notice businesses we’re passing. We can easily hop off, not circle the block for parking, and we can park our bikes for free.” What about that engrained dichotomy that bike access means less room for car parking? “Yes, the number one concern of business owners is they say they need more parking; but when you convert some of their existing customers from drivers to bicyclists, you open up more car parking and you alleviate those problems — or perceived problems.”

“The whole point is to make more short trips via bicycle instead of cars, and to make them into the business districts. Bike local, shop local.”

Sounds good to us.

— Learn more about April’s work at GreenOctopus.net.

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Ten years of Breakfast on the Bridges: An evening of stories

Ten years of Breakfast on the Bridges: An evening of stories

Breakfast on the bridge-5

A 10-year tradition.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This guest post is by Michael Andersen of Portland Afoot, PDX’s 10-minute newsmagazine about buses, bikes and low-car life.

Dozens of fans of one of Portland’s most unique and durable bike traditions met Tuesday night at bicycle tavern Velo Cult to tell stories from more than 120 mornings of free breakfast on Portland’s bridges.

“It’s amazing to see that this tradition of giving out coffee and donuts has continued for 10 years,” said Ayleen Crotty, who said she and Amy Stork started serving the first regular breakfasts during Portland’s legendary “Summer of Bike Fun” in 2002.

Somehow – like another Portland tradition launched that year, a naked bike ride – the idea stuck.

“We’re going to do it until we’re doing Breakfast on the Bridges for bike commuters on the Fremont.”
— Lilian Karabaic, volunteer

Thanks to modest donations from local businesses – the current sponsor is Trailhead Coffee Roasters – and a gradually shifting team of three to five regular volunteers, Breakfast on the Bridges has been served to bicyclists and pedestrians on the final Friday of almost every month since. (It currently takes place on the Hawthorne Bridge and the lower deck of the Steel.)

Many of Tuesday night’s stories involved romance.

Timo Forsberg bragged that his mornings on the bridge had given him not only a “new livelihood” – he’s now a demand management specialist for the Portland Bureau of Transportation – but a future bride. Carl Larson said he’d met two future girlfriends. And onetime Bicycle Transportation Alliance staffer Lillian Karabaic told the story of the time she “abused database privileges” to seat herself at the Alice Awards next to a cute young man she’d met on the bridge.

Weather has never been an obstacle to the tradition, which continues through the winter.

“The colder it gets, the cooler the people you will meet on that bridge,” observed volunteer Robin Bogert, who said she likes to invite prospective romantic partners to attend on chilly mornings and gives them extra points if they actually show up.

Other stories revolved around the devotion volunteers feel to the event, which is affiliated with local bike-fun group Shift.

Shawn Granton recalled the morning in 2006 when he and Elly Blue, who were breakfast volunteers at the time, ran into several Bike Gallery employees offering free maintenance on the Hawthorne Bridge, along with coffee and donuts.

Granton stopped to say hello, but pedaled away miffed.

“I was like, What the hell, man? This is our thing,” he recalled.

And “sometime later that day,” Granton said, a “cease and desist” letter was created and mailed to Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves, expressing concerns about “brand dilution” of bridge breakfasts. The letter was signed “Stinky McDonut.”

Granton said the author’s true identity will never be revealed.

Shift’s Steph Routh recorded a full audio file of the evening’s many stories, which also included the time volunteers held a bacon-versus-vegan cookoff and the time they crashed TriMet’s Center Street bullpen to offer breakfast to early-morning bus drivers.

Breakfast on the Bridges held its 10-year anniversary event as a way to invite new volunteers to join the little team. If you’d like to be part of keeping this monthly Portland tradition strong, email bonb@lists.riseup.net.

Karabaic said they’re always happy to welcome new participants.

“We’re going to do it until we’re doing Breakfast on the Bridges for bike commuters on the Fremont,” she said.

The current issue of Portland Afoot’s magazine is about finding an affordable transit-friendly apartment in Portland. For a one-time notice when Portland Afoot launches its free mobile edition, drop your email address at PortlandAfoot.org.

Ten years of Breakfast on the Bridges: An evening of stories

Ten years of Breakfast on the Bridges: An evening of stories

steph botb storytelling

BonB veteran Steph Routh.
(Photo by Michael Andersen))

This guest post is by Michael Andersen of Portland Afoot, PDX’s 10-minute newsmagazine about buses, bikes and low-car life.

Dozens of fans of one of Portland’s most unique and durable bike traditions met Tuesday night at bicycle tavern Velo Cult to tell stories from more than 120 mornings of free breakfast on Portland’s bridges.

“It’s amazing to see that this tradition of giving out coffee and donuts has continued for 10 years,” said Ayleen Crotty, who said she and Amy Stork started serving the first regular breakfasts during Portland’s legendary “Summer of Bike Fun” in 2002.

Somehow – like another Portland tradition launched that year, a naked bike ride – the idea stuck.

“We’re going to do it until we’re doing Breakfast on the Bridges for bike commuters on the Fremont.”
— Lilian Karabaic, volunteer

Thanks to modest donations from local businesses – the current sponsor is Trailhead Coffee Roasters – and a gradually shifting team of three to five regular volunteers, Breakfast on the Bridges has been served to bicyclists and pedestrians on the final Friday of almost every month since. (It currently takes place on the Hawthorne Bridge and the lower deck of the Steel.)

Many of Tuesday night’s stories involved romance.

Timo Forsberg bragged that his mornings on the bridge had given him not only a “new livelihood” – he’s now a demand management specialist for the Portland Bureau of Transportation – but a future bride. Carl Larson said he’d met two future girlfriends. And onetime Bicycle Transportation Alliance staffer Lillian Karabaic told the story of the time she “abused database privileges” to seat herself at the Alice Awards next to a cute young man she’d met on the bridge.

botb storytelling wide angle

The crowd at Velo Cult.

Weather has never been an obstacle to the tradition, which continues through the winter.

“The colder it gets, the cooler the people you will meet on that bridge,” observed volunteer Robin Bogert, who said she likes to invite prospective romantic partners to attend on chilly mornings and gives them extra points if they actually show up.

Other stories revolved around the devotion volunteers feel to the event, which is affiliated with local bike-fun group Shift.

Shawn Granton recalled the morning in 2006 when he and Elly Blue, who were breakfast volunteers at the time, ran into several Bike Gallery employees offering free maintenance on the Hawthorne Bridge, along with coffee and donuts.

Granton stopped to say hello, but pedaled away miffed.

“I was like, What the hell, man? This is our thing,” he recalled.

And “sometime later that day,” Granton said, a “cease and desist” letter was created and mailed to Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves, expressing concerns about “brand dilution” of bridge breakfasts. The letter was signed “Stinky McDonut.”

Granton said the author’s true identity will never be revealed.

Shift’s Steph Routh recorded a full audio file of the evening’s many stories, which also included the time volunteers held a bacon-versus-vegan cookoff and the time they crashed TriMet’s Center Street bullpen to offer breakfast to early-morning bus drivers.

Breakfast on the Bridges held its 10-year anniversary event as a way to invite new volunteers to join the little team. If you’d like to be part of keeping this monthly Portland tradition strong, email bonb [at] lists [dot] riseup [dot] net

Karabaic said they’re always happy to welcome new participants.

“We’re going to do it until we’re doing Breakfast on the Bridges for bike commuters on the Fremont,” she said.

The current issue of Portland Afoot’s magazine is about finding an affordable transit-friendly apartment in Portland. For a one-time notice when Portland Afoot launches its free mobile edition, drop your email address at PortlandAfoot.org.