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Regional Safe Routes program is one of many winners from Metro grants

Regional Safe Routes program is one of many winners from Metro grants

Mayor Adams at Safe Routes to School ride-2

A Safe Routes to School event in Portland, 2010.
Other cities will get regional funding
for the programs thanks to new Metro grants.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

With the federal government’s support for early biking education shrinking, the Portland area’s regional government is making a significant investment.

Safe Routes to School programs in Tigard, Beaverton and across the region are among the winners of $2.1 million in Metro grants announced Monday. Other highlights include a new active transportation staffer for Portland Community College, a bicycle tourism initiative in the Gresham area and continued support for the City of Portland’s marketing of biking, walking and public transit.

The $2.1 million in two-year grants were chosen from among $4.6 million requested by various nonprofits and government agencies around the region.

Monday’s official award announcement comes amid concerns about Metro’s decision, with this grant cycle, to eliminate funding for the city’s three transportation management associations. As we reported Saturday, this decision is likely to result in the closure of the Swan Island TMA, a two-person nonprofit that has played a major role in improving non-car transportation options to the inner North Portland industrial area.

“Metro sent a clear message. Sea change time.”
— Swan Island TMA Director Sarah Angell on changes to Metro grant recipients

This grant cycle’s cuts to the Swan Island, Lloyd District and Washington Park TMAs followed a trend from previous cycles to pull back on funding small transportation-focused groups in order to support organizations with multiple missions.

In 2013 and again this month, Metro denied grant requests from South Waterfront Community Relations to fund low-car transportation efforts in that neighborhood. In previous years, Metro had eliminated funding for similar programs in Clackamas County and Gresham.

One TMA did receive funding this year: the Westside Transportation Alliance, which the Washington County government shielded from any cuts. The City of Portland, which this year was again the largest single recipient of the program’s funds, did not make any such requests on behalf of any projects within its borders.

Washington TMA Executive Director Jenny Cadigan wrote on Friday that she was “shocked to be honest” by Metro’s decision not to renew funding for other TMAs. “It makes me even more grateful to have been awarded funds,” she added.

“Metro sent a clear message,” wrote Swan Island TMA Executive Director Sarah Angell. “Sea change time.”

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Despite the strong opinions related to the proposed elimination of TMA funding, there’s a lot to like in this project list, which is probably the biggest single source of active transportation program funding in the region. We’re certain to cover many of these projects as they have effects over the next two years.

For example, here’s Metro’s description of the PCC grant:

One of the new grantees is Portland Community College, which will use a $157,000 grant to hire a district-wide active transportation coordinator, install dozens of secure bicycle lockers at its Southeast and Cascade campuses and hold events and workshops to help students and staff learn how to safely walk and bike to class and work.

In previous cycles, the program generally hasn’t been used to pay for infrastructure. But that has changed this year, as Metro writes:

Also new to this cycle’s travel options grants are awards for light infrastructure, such as bike parking, on-road directional and use markings like sharrows and planning grants for local jurisdictions to kickstart implementation of local efforts to improve travel options for residents and commuters. Funded projects will provide easier navigation for pedestrians in Washington Park, fill a key bikeway gap in Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood, build bike shelters in Aloha and support planning for expanded travel choices in Washington County.

Here’s the full list of winners:

  • Portland Bureau of Transportation: Active Portland – Open Streets, Connected Communities, $465,000
  • Ride Connection: RideWise Urban Mobility Support and Training, $222,233
  • Westside Transportation Alliance: Westside Transportation Demand Management, $203,500
  • Beaverton School District: Safe Routes to School Program, $158,000
  • Portland Community College: Transportation Demand Management Coordinator and Bicycle Improvements, $156,822
  • Bicycle Transportation Alliance: Expanding Access to Bicycling, $155,040
  • City of Tigard: Safe Routes to School Coordinator, $150,000
  • Portland Public Schools: Healthy Travel Options to School, $125,000
  • Verde: Living Cully Walks, Phase 2, $102,127
  • Clackamas Community College: Student Transportation Initiative, $85,018
  • City of Gresham: Gresham Sharrows, $63,260
  • Washington County: Washington County Travel Options Planning, $50,000
  • West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce: Gorge Hubs and Business Outreach, $50,000
  • Gresham Chamber of Commerce: East Multnomah County Bicycle Tourism Initiative, $50,000
  • National Safe Routes to School Alliance: Regional Safe Routes to School Planning, $25,000
  • Housing Authority of Washington County: Aloha Park Bike Shelters, $15,000
  • City of Lake Oswego: Active Transportation Counters, $14,000
  • Washington Park Transportation Management Association: Transit to Trails Wayfinding, $10,000

The post Regional Safe Routes program is one of many winners from Metro grants appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Swan Island transportation group may shut doors after Metro funding shifts

Swan Island transportation group may shut doors after Metro funding shifts

    Daimler bike shelter opening-22

    Swan Island TMA Executive Director Sarah Angell cuts the ribbon in 2013 on a bike parking facility at Daimler Trucks North America. A Metro committee has recommended cutting funding for Angell’s 15-year-old advocacy and education organization.
    (Photos: J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

    The densest major industrial park in Portland seems likely to lose its tiny transportation advocacy organization after a proposed funding shift from the Metro regional government.

    The Swan Island Transportation Management Association currently relies on Metro for 59 percent of its revenue, with businesses based in the North Portland industrial park providing the remainder. In a round of grants announced Friday, Metro cut all its funding for the Swan Island TMA as well as for the similar organizations in the Lloyd District and Washington Park.

    The Lloyd District and Washington Park TMAs will survive, largely because they get a share of local parking revenue from their area, but will be forced to scale back operations.

    The Westside Transportation Alliance, based in Washington County, was the only TMA to receive funding from Metro.

    It wasn’t clear by Saturday which other organizations had received grants to reduce peak-hour commute trips. For most of the last decade, TMAs essentially received guaranteed matching funds from Metro, but since 2013 have been competing with other nonprofits and government agencies for those grants. Metro plans to release a full list of grant awards on Monday.

    Going Street Bridge to Swan Island-1

    The barrier-protected sidewalk on Going Street was
    largely the result of advocacy from the Swan Island TMA.

    Lindsey Walker, employee outreach coordinator for the Lloyd District group Go Lloyd, called Metro’s decision Friday “kind of a surprise” and “certainly a hit” but said her organization would be able to continue its services thanks to a share of revenue from parking meters and local tenants.

    Heather McCarey, executive director of the Washington Park TMA, said Friday that her organization would be able to launch an in-park shuttle as planned this summer, but would be unable to market that and other car-free transportation services to the extent planned.

    McCarey, whose organization competes for funding with the Swan Island TMA, said that TMA has served too valuable a public purpose to not receive any public funding.

    “It is a lot of work and years — years! — of relationship-building and work that was put in,” said McCarey. “And how are we capitalizing on that, by not supporting Swan Island? I’m not necessarily thinking that they should be expected to live on their own. I think that they should get support.”

    Swan Island Business Association Director Sarah Angell, who currently functions as the TMA’s sole staffer, said her office was unlikely to survive without Metro’s grant.

    pcc launch

    Angell joins Portland Community College leaders
    in 2014 for the opening of a new trades center
    on Swan Island.
    (Photo: PCC)

    “For Swan Island, this means the TMA likely will close after 15 years at a point when the island heads into an unparalleled stretch of employment growth, with thousands of new employees and students seeking access to trades and industry training,” she said.

    The decision from Metro’s Regional Travel Options Committee, which has yet to be formally ratified by Metro’s council, comes as Daimler Trucks North America is building a $150 million expansion to its Swan Island headquarters that is about to add 1,000 or more new employees to the area’s workforce of about 11,000.

    Last fall, Portland Community College opened a new trades center in the park, with 650 students learning industrial skills. Other major employers include UPS, Vigor Industrial and Columbia Distributing.

    Swan Island is served by one six-lane road with a barrier-protected sidewalk, by two TriMet bus lines and by two bike routes — one legal but unfinished, the other illegal.

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    Swan Island’s TMA has been the leading advocate and defender of all those resources. Its staff of one to two people led efforts to add the sidewalk barrier, successfully lobbied to create TriMet’s No. 85 bus and Swan Island Evening Shuttle, protected the bus lines from cuts that would have thrown their schedules out of sync with Swan Island employers, and championed new infrastructure like the riverfront trail that has become a bike-to-the-beach destination near the heart of the city.

    trail dedication ceremony- Swan Island

    Angell’s predecessor Lenny Anderson has been a board member and significant advocate for the North Portland Greenway, a planned riverside path from the Rose Quarter to the Columbia River, running through Swan Island.

    The results of all this advocacy have been difficult to measure; the Census does not track commute modes for areas of Swan Island’s size.

    From 2002 to 2009, Census surveys showed the share of workers commuting to Swan Island from nearby ZIP codes fell slightly, from 10.7 percent to 10.1 percent — but commuters to the nearby Rivergate Industrial Area fell five times faster, from 14 percent to 11 percent.

    “Where can you find in Portland a more diverse workforce?” Angell said. “These are the hardest working people in the Portland area, who used to live close in and now live in the outer east neighborhoods.”

    Daimler, one of the area’s few white-collar employers, has emerged as a major hub for bike commuting. Last September, its employees logged 27,108 miles biked during the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual commute challenge, more than any single company in the state.

    In December, we wrote a Friday Profile of Daimler’s Kyle Carlson, who was personally responsible for 1,144 of those miles last fall — 50 a day, the most in the state last year. Here’s Carlson, posing outside the free, secure and covered bike parking area that Daimler opened in 2013 after years of advocacy by the employee bike committee that has long been nurtured and assisted by the Swan Island TMA.

    kyle at daimler parking

    In our profile, Carlson explained how biking to work has become one of the most important things in his life. He’s dropped 100 pounds since starting to bike to work during the commute challenge several years ago.

    The Bike Commute Challenge was one program that will be funded by Metro in the 2015-2017 grant cycle. The BTA learned Friday that it had been funded to create a full-time coordinator for that project.

    However, it wasn’t just the challenge that enabled Carlson’s commute shift. As he explained in our profile, Carlson would have been unlikely to continue beyond the commute challenge if not for a map posted in the Daimler common area that helped him find someone else with a similar bike commute.

    bcc board

    Carlson said the colleague he met through that map, Steve Taylor, became both a good friend and his most important inspiration in starting to bike to work rather than drive.

    Angell confirmed on Friday that the ride-matching map had been posted as part of her advocacy in support of Daimler’s bike commuters.

    Correction 8:54 pm: A previous version of the story incorrectly described the nature of the shuttle within Washington Park. It also understated the 2002-2009 increase in long commutes to the Rivergate industrial area.

    The post Swan Island transportation group may shut doors after Metro funding shifts appeared first on BikePortland.org.

With $50k grant, North Portland Greenway shifts from planning to organizing

With $50k grant, North Portland Greenway shifts from planning to organizing

082008 npGREENWAY ride 116

Let’s get it built.
(Photo: npGreenway)

The 50-year-old vision of a continuous mixed-use path along the east bank of the Willamette River, connecting Kelley Point Park, on the tip of the St. Johns peninsula, to the Steel Bridge, has made it on all the planning maps.

Now, the little nonprofit that has brought the concept this far is preparing for the last stage: getting it on the ground.

Thanks to a $50,000 capacity-building grant from Metro awarded last fall, the nonprofit North Portland Greenway organization is preparing to hire its first dedicated staffer, a consultant who will spend up to 10 hours a week preparing for a transition on npGreenway’s volunteer board.

“I think this grant will be the tool to take our organization to the completion of the trail.”
— Joe Adamski, npGreenway board member

“In 10 years we’ve done an awful lot, but we know there’ll be another 10 years before that trail is completed,” said Joe Adamski, a longtime npGreenway board member, in an interview Tuesday. “We’re now at the point where we’re pushing and agitating for building and finding the money and the support. And we couldn’t put a website together if our life depended on it. Twitter? We’re all 60 or 70.”

Adamski said most of the existing board consists of people with experience in planning rather than in political action.

Key political challenges for the group include lining up enough money to build the path and to secure the building rights from landowners like Union Pacific Railroad and Ash Grove Cement, two companies that control the crucial segment between the Swan Island industrial area and the Broadway Bridge area.

npgreenway

In 2013, we reported that the city, UPRR and advocates were discussing an inland route just south of Greeley that would avoid the contentious Cement Road, an existing private road near the shore that is crossed by rail tracks and used by Ash Grove cement trucks.

“The connection to Swan Island is going to be the crucial place that’s going to drive the whole trail,” Adamski said Wednesday. “We will support that alternate line [south of Greeley], but we still have a preference towards the Cement Road alignment. The reality is that if it’s going to happen, probably it’s going to be that alternate Greeley alignment.”

UPRR’s concession to allow an off-road path on the south side of Greeley, rather than forcing it to be built into a hillside north of Greeley, came out of a 2013 meeting attended by UPRR, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Mayor Charlie Hales.

npGreenway has already retained Bill Weismann of Grassroots NW to complete the first phase of their 18-month project, which is to develop a strategy that’ll be carried out by the board and its part-time staffer during the longer second phase.

Adamski said the group aims to be ready to bring on its second-phase staffer by late March.

“I think this grant will be the tool to take our organization to the completion of the trail,” Adamski said.

The post With $50k grant, North Portland Greenway shifts from planning to organizing appeared first on BikePortland.org.

The Friday Profile: Kyle Carlson, Daimler Trucks’ 52-mile-a-day iron man

The Friday Profile: Kyle Carlson, Daimler Trucks’ 52-mile-a-day iron man

daimler-lead

Kyle Carlson.
(Photos by M Andersen/BikePortland)

Kyle Carlson was a couple hundred feet up the hills of Northwest Portland when he mentioned he used to ride all the way home without switching out of his biggest front gear.

“I compromised,” he said. “Now I just never use my smallest gear.”

Carlson, an electrical engineer for Daimler Trucks North America, might have the most intense bike commute in the country’s bikingest state. After rising at 4 a.m. on summer mornings in his family’s Hillsboro subdivision, this single father of three bikes 26 miles to work on his Marin 29er hybrid. Then he bikes 26 miles home.

He tries to get six hours of sleep each night, he says.

During the rainy months, he takes it easier on himself, rides only three days a week, and sticks to a 19-mile route — though that one heads directly over the West Hills.

“I like my heart beating,” he says.

Carlson is not, in general, a wordy man. His habits tend to speak for themselves.

Another of his habits: As part of his “5:2 diet,” on two days a week he eats only 600 calories total. He currently does this on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These are also days that Carlson bikes to work, a task that he says requires about 2,500 calories.

It’s easier than you’d think, he says.

This year, a whole month of 52-mile daily round-trip commutes were enough to net him the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s annual prize for the most miles of any participant in the statewide Bike Commute Challenge. Here’s a map of his summer commute, which he takes every weekday of September in honor of the BCC:

image006

And here’s his winter route:

image002

On a Tuesday last month, I joined Carlson for the shorter of those two. We started at 4 p.m. at the secure bike parking area that Daimler added to its parking lot last year. Carlson said the quality and visibility of the structure has been a big factor in the rapid growth of biking at Daimler.

kyle at daimler parking

“In September, it was all full,” he said.

A bike had been Carlson’s main transportation when he was a teen in small-town Idaho. He rediscovered bike commuting as an adult while working for Boeing in Seattle.

“Only 16 round trip,” he said, “no big deal.”

Still, it was enough exercise for him to lose some weight at the time. That caught his attention. He moved to Wichita for a while, then back to the Northwest for the job at Daimler Trucks’ North American headquarters in Portland.

“When I started getting overweight again, I was like, you know, riding a bike worked last time,” he recalled. “And then the Bike Commute Challenge happened and it all just kind of clicked together.”

“The first day I rode, I rode a mile to the MAX,” Carlson said. “The next day I said, ‘I bet I could ride my bike from the Rose Quarter to Swan Island.’”

Each week, Carlson would get off the MAX one stop further from Swan Island.

The turning point came a few Septembers ago. Daimler, working with the Swan Island Business Association, had set up a map for employees to indicate where they lived in order to share commutes. Carlson decided to see if he could find a biking buddy for the long ride.

bcc board

“I put my pin in,” Carlson said. “And a couple days later, I got an email that was like, ‘Howdy, neighbor.’”

The email was from Steve Taylor, a stranger who happened to live less than a mile from his house and had the same yen to ride. It was after the two started biking in together that Carlson was able to get religious about his commute.

Taylor’s company helped most, he said, when he was lying in bed in the dark, early in the morning.

If I don’t get up, I’ve got to call him, got to let him know,” Carlson would tell himself. “We just started inspiring each other.”

Taylor and Carlson still ride together sometimes. They’ve taken bike tours together, too, and shown “three or four” other people the way to bike in from Hillsboro.

“When people are looking for something to do and they see people riding, it just kind of clicks sometimes,” Carlson said.

Carlson said Daimler’s rapid growth in biking — last year, the company led the state in new Bike Commute Challenge participants — has been driven by heavy staff turnover that followed a buyout during the recent recession.

“That brought in a much younger crowd, and it just fueled the surge in riding,” he said. “46 new riders. That’s crazy. In one year!”

Carlson’s own homeward commute from Swan Island involves navigating a couple of the industrial area’s parking lots…

kyle parking lot

…and up Going Street’s wide sidewalk, which was greatly improved in 2010.

kyle on going

Carlson said he used to illicitly ride the private Cement Road to Swan Island but stopped after taking a spill and realizing it’d be safer to avoid. He also switched, at some point, from taking the mixed uphill traffic lane on Going, shared with semi trucks, to taking the sidepath.

“I just thought, I’m a single parent,” he said.

At the top of the hill, Carlson likes to vary his route a bit. We took the Michigan Avenue neighborhood greenway down to Interstate…

kyle intersection paint

…and over the flyover to the Broadway Bridge.

kyle on flyover

I asked Carlson for his advice on extreme commuting. Some tips from his experience:

Get a bike fitting. Carlson got one during the most recent Bike Commute Challenge. “That was amazing,” he said. “You may think you’re comfortable. A bike fitting is the best way to check.”

Choose where to put the cushion. “You either get the padded shorts or the padded seat. You don’t do both.” Carlson opts for the seat.

Gear up. Carlson wears Showers Pass rain pants and jacket in the winter. He always rides with water, a spare tube, a glueless tube patch kit, a bike multitool, a general Gerber multitool, brake pads, a shifter cable, a brake cable, a small pump and tire levers.

Keep building the music collection. Carlson listens to his Zune music player most of the way. He’s used a series of “10 free songs” cards to build a library of 300 to 400 songs — “everything but classical” — which he said is enough for his needs.

Teach the kids to cook. Carlson’s youngest is 14, something he says has been important to his ability to bike-commute. He’s got each of the three cooking the family one meal a week.

Over the West Hills and through the multi-use paths along Sunset Highway and onto the bike lanes that line Washington County’s wide roads, Carlson sees few others riding, at least during the rainy months.

kyle in dark bike lane better

It’s a long ride, but Carlson is in good spirits as he nears his neighborhood. Next year, he’s thinking he’ll finally buy a new bike, possibly a Surly Long Haul Trucker or maybe a cargo bike, and head on the longest trip of his life: seven weeks across the country.

He’s also thinking next summer will be the time he hits his target weight, 200 pounds. That’s down from 320 before he started to ride.

“I made kind of this deal with myself,” he said. “If I get myself to 200 pounds, I’ll get a tattoo.”

A few years after that, his kids will be out of high school and he’ll start thinking about moving. I told him I assumed he’d finally move closer to Swan Island at that point.

Carlson shook his head slightly.

“I’m not sure I’ll move closer,” he said. “I’m thinking I might move a little farther out.”

Or not.

“Who knows?” he said. “I might go on a trip and say, ‘I’m done with this.’ I might walk to work.”

kyle in dark by house

The post The Friday Profile: Kyle Carlson, Daimler Trucks’ 52-mile-a-day iron man appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Woman files complaint after harsh encounter with Union Pacific police on Cement Road (updated)

Woman files complaint after harsh encounter with Union Pacific police on Cement Road (updated)

Disaster Relief Trials -45

Diana Rempe at the 2012 Disaster
Relief Trials cargo bike challenge.
(Photos by J.Maus/BikePortland)

A Portland woman who concedes she was illegally biking on the private Cement Road to Swan Island with her 6-year-old daughter says she was “bullied” by a railroad police officer and has filed a formal complaint.

“As I explain in my complaint, I do not mean to suggest that I was in the right riding the Cement Road,” Diana Rempe of North Portland wrote in an email Wednesday to Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, Swan Island Transportation Management Association Director Sarah Angell and BikePortland. “I understand fully that it crosses Union Pacific property. However, I do believe strongly that there is no excuse for the intimidating bullying my 6 year old daughter and I experienced from Officer Bender of Union Pacific. I am a middle aged, white woman with a lot of privilege and that guy really scared me. I can only imagine how he might treat someone less system savvy than me.”

The Cement Road is a flat, direct connection between Swan Island and north Portland. It’s privately owned by UPRR and off-limits to public use; but it has been the subject of recent negotiations with the City of Portland because of its potential as a great biking route and possible key link in the North Portland Greenway. It’s also an ongoing source of tension between the railroad, which wants to protect itself from liability for any injuries, and local bike riders, especially the dozens who use it regularly to commute to jobs on Swan Island.

With Daimler Trucks North America, already the island’s biggest employer and one of the city’s top destinations for bike commuters, preparing to increase its workforce, the city hopes the Cement Road can someday become a safe, legal public access through the rail yard.

Here’s the full text of Rempe’s complaint:

It was dusk in January 23rd and I was riding my bike home with my 6 year old daughter. I ride a front-loading cargo bike, with her in the front. We had just left her dance class which takes place on North Randolph, just south of the Union Pacific railyard. I decided to ride home via the Cement Road as it was extremely windy and I wanted to avoid N. Interstate and Greeley, if possible. After riding through the railyard I had left the property and was next to the Fed Ex building just before Channel Road when a person in an SUV turned on their lights and pulled me over.

I stopped and Officer Bender told me I was not supposed to be on the railroad property. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I was surprised at his aggressive tone from the beginning. I immediately apologized and told him I understood, but I had seen others riding there and thought it was at least tacitly allowed. This seemed to make him very angry, because he immediately began berating me, saying something like “just because other people are breaking the law doesn’t mean you should.” He then demanded ID. I again apologized, saying that I didn’t think I had my wallet with me as I had run out the door a bit late to take her to dance class.

This appeared to really anger the officer. He began saying again and again, something like “you have no ID? so, when you and your child get hit by a car no one will be able to identify you.” His repetition of this phrase and his tone made me quite uncomfortable and I apologized again, explaining that it was an oversight. He continued to say it and seemingly became more irate.

The Ash Grove Cement Road

The Ash Grove Cement Road.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

I then began to give him my personal information, but after providing my name and birthdate he demanded my address. His demeanor made me very uncomfortable and I told him I did not feel comfortable giving him all of my private information. This seemed to REALLY make him angry and he began threatening me with handcuffs and arrest. By now my 6 year old daughter was terrified and I just kept trying to placate the officer. I gave him the information he wanted but he kept repeating that he would handcuff and arrest me.

I then asked for his card. He refused. I asked for his full name and badge number. He refused. I wrote down his name off his badge. I asked for his supervisor’s name. He said “Tom” but refused to give me Tom’s entire name. From his affect I could tell he was furious and I felt quite scared. I also was afraid that now that he had my personal information, he might use it to retaliate for any report I might make. After thinking about it that night, however, I decided to go ahead and file a report.

I am not in any way claiming that I did not know that the Cement Road was on Union Pacific property. As I immediately said to the officer, I knew I was on the property, but chose to ride the Cement Road anyway. I was (and am) completely responsible for disregarding the posted signs explaining that it is Union Pacific property.

However, this action does not explain or excuse the kind of treatment my daughter and I received from Officer Bender. We both felt threatened, bullied and afraid. I am not asking that the officer be sanctioned, so much as trained to work with the public in a respectful and non-threatening manner. I also hope that Union Pacific will ensure in any way possible that the officer does not retaliate against me and my family, as he is in possession of my name, address and birthdate. This may seem unlikely, but given the way he approached us and the way in which his temper escalated during our encounter, I remain concerned.

We’ve contacted Union Pacific to ask for their comment and will update this story if and when we hear back.

UPDATE 4:00 pm: UP spokeswoman Calli Hite responds with the following: “Union Pacific has received the complaint and is conducting an investigation. Our special agents are dedicated to public safety — and a primary component of this is deterring illegal trespassing on railroad property. For their safety, we remind bikers and pedestrians to not trespass on railroad property, and to only cross railroad tracks at public crossings.”

Leaders and activists toast Lenny Anderson, ‘Mr. Swan Island’

Leaders and activists toast Lenny Anderson, ‘Mr. Swan Island’

Lenny Anderson retirement party-22

Lenny Anderson shows off his number 85 bus
stop sign as TriMet GM Neil McFarlane looks on.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of Portland’s most successful transportation activists was cheered into retirement Wednesday after 13 years in which he led Swan Island’s transformation into the city’s least car-dependent industrial park.

Lenny Anderson, 67, dropped out of a Ph.D program in the 1970s to work as a folk singer and printing press operator. He later co-founded two newspapers, including a defunct print quarterly for TriMet riders, before carving out a job for himself as the one-man Swan Island Transportation Management Association. In that role he become a tireless advocate for encouraging Swan Island’s 10,000 employees to get to work by bike, bus, or shuttle — anything other than in their cars.

Lenny Anderson retirement party-5

Lenny Anderson retirement party-6

Lenny Anderson retirement party-23

Commissioner Novick (R) and his chief of staff Chris Warner.

About 100 people, including City of Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, showed up for a surprise party (organized by his successor Sarah Angell) on Swan Island Wednesday night. They came to recognize Anderson’s work, which included dramatic biking and walking improvements on Swan Island and the almost single-handed creation of the number 85 bus line. (We covered more of Lenny’s career when he announced his retirement back in October.)

To commemorate the creation of that line, an effort that got Anderson the nickname “number 85”, McFarlane presented him with a metal “85” bus stop flag. And in fulfilling a dream for the lifelong activist, Commissioner Novick presented Anderson with a seat on the Portland Streetcar Citizens Advisory Committee.

Scott Mizee, an architect who lives in the University Park neighborhood just above Swan Island, said Anderson and his co-conspirator Francie Royce drafted him into activism on behalf of the North Portland Greenway by taking him on a bike ride through the industrial area.

“He’s the first person that I met that said, ‘Hey, we need people like you who are interested in making a difference,'” Mizee said.

Thanks to work from Anderson, Royce, Mizee and others, the long-planned Greenway passed several milestones this year and seems tantalizingly close to a deal that could close its biggest missing link: the Union Pacific rail yard just south of Swan Island.

Lenny Anderson retirement party-19

Community Cycling Center CEO Mychal Tetteh, his wife Bridget Johnson Tetteh and PBOT Transportation Options employee Janis McDonald.
Lenny Anderson retirement party-18

Joe Adamski, Francie Royce, and Timo Forsberg. (Sorry, I’m not sure who the man second from right is).

Lenny Anderson retirement party-15

Urban naturalist Mike Houck and NPGreenway advocate Scott Mizee.
Lenny Anderson retirement party-10

TriMet’s Mary Fetsch and former Oregon Walks director Steph Routh.
Lenny Anderson retirement party-16

Transportation consultant Michelle Poyourow and PBOT staffer Steve Hoyt-McBeth.

Anderson’s other key accomplishments include the new Waud Bluff trail connecting the industrial area to the St. Johns area, physical separation for a bike and walking path on Going Street, a loop of trail along the Willamette, and the Captain’s Walk, a sidewalk that opened last year on the site where a visiting ship’s captain had been killed by an auto collision.

Anderson is also proud of being one of the first two people to vote against the Columbia River Crossing highway expansion while sitting on an early task force for the project back in 2002.

Far beyond infrastructure, it’s the relationships Anderson forged with Swan Island businesses that were on clear display Wednesday night. Representatives from Daimler Trucks North America, UPS, and Vigor Shipyards were just some of the major employers who showed up to celebrate Anderson’s advocacy. While Anderson is a daily bike rider, he moved mountains on Swan Islands because of his laser-focus on moving freight. “Every two people that ride down here,” he shared Wednesday night, “means one more truck full of freight we can get on the road!”

At his party on Wednesday, Angell called him a “steadfast humanist, transportation buff, savvy activist, master collaborator.”

Steph Routh, the former director of Oregon Walks who, like Anderson, trained as a singer before becoming a transportation activist — and who, like Anderson, has sometimes been known to choke up during an emotional moment at a public event — said she admires how Anderson uses powerful emotions to add depth to his public policy arguments, just as his personal experiences had informed his folk songs.

“It comes out of your eyes, and you can’t be ashamed of that,” Routh said Wednesday. “Pounding the table is done out of love and respect, and shaking your fist in solidarity is done in love and respect. That’s what I’ve learned from Lenny as an activist.”

Leaders and activists toast Lenny Anderson, ‘Mr. Swan Island’

Leaders and activists toast Lenny Anderson, ‘Mr. Swan Island’

Lenny Anderson retirement party-22

Lenny Anderson shows off his number 85 bus
stop sign as TriMet GM Neil McFarlane looks on.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of Portland’s most successful transportation activists was cheered into retirement Wednesday after 13 years in which he led Swan Island’s transformation into the city’s least car-dependent industrial park.

Lenny Anderson, 67, dropped out of a Ph.D program in the 1970s to work as a folk singer and printing press operator. He later co-founded two newspapers, including a defunct print quarterly for TriMet riders, before carving out a job for himself as the one-man Swan Island Transportation Management Association. In that role he become a tireless advocate for encouraging Swan Island’s 10,000 employees to get to work by bike, bus, or shuttle — anything other than in their cars.

Lenny Anderson retirement party-5

Lenny Anderson retirement party-6

Lenny Anderson retirement party-23

Commissioner Novick (R) and his chief of staff Chris Warner.

About 100 people, including City of Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, showed up for a surprise party (organized by his successor Sarah Angell) on Swan Island Wednesday night. They came to recognize Anderson’s work, which included dramatic biking and walking improvements on Swan Island and the almost single-handed creation of the number 85 bus line. (We covered more of Lenny’s career when he announced his retirement back in October.)

To commemorate the creation of that line, an effort that got Anderson the nickname “number 85”, McFarlane presented him with a metal “85” bus stop flag. And in fulfilling a dream for the lifelong activist, Commissioner Novick presented Anderson with a seat on the Portland Streetcar Citizens Advisory Committee.

Scott Mizee, an architect who lives in the University Park neighborhood just above Swan Island, said Anderson and his co-conspirator Francie Royce drafted him into activism on behalf of the North Portland Greenway by taking him on a bike ride through the industrial area.

“He’s the first person that I met that said, ‘Hey, we need people like you who are interested in making a difference,'” Mizee said.

Thanks to work from Anderson, Royce, Mizee and others, the long-planned Greenway passed several milestones this year and seems tantalizingly close to a deal that could close its biggest missing link: the Union Pacific rail yard just south of Swan Island.

Lenny Anderson retirement party-19

Community Cycling Center CEO Mychal Tetteh, his wife Bridget Johnson Tetteh and PBOT Transportation Options employee Janis McDonald.
Lenny Anderson retirement party-18

Joe Adamski, Francie Royce, and Timo Forsberg. (Sorry, I’m not sure who the man second from right is).

Lenny Anderson retirement party-15

Urban naturalist Mike Houck and NPGreenway advocate Scott Mizee.
Lenny Anderson retirement party-10

TriMet’s Mary Fetsch and former Oregon Walks director Steph Routh.
Lenny Anderson retirement party-16

Transportation consultant Michelle Poyourow and PBOT staffer Steve Hoyt-McBeth.

Anderson’s other key accomplishments include the new Waud Bluff trail connecting the industrial area to the St. Johns area, physical separation for a bike and walking path on Going Street, a loop of trail along the Willamette, and the Captain’s Walk, a sidewalk that opened last year on the site where a visiting ship’s captain had been killed by an auto collision.

Anderson is also proud of being one of the first people to vote against the Columbia River Crossing highway expansion while sitting on an early task force for the project back in 2002.

Far beyond infrastructure, it’s the relationships Anderson forged with Swan Island businesses that were on clear display Wednesday night. Representatives from Daimler Trucks North America, UPS, and Vigor Shipyards were just some of the major employers who showed up to celebrate Anderson’s advocacy. While Anderson is a daily bike rider, he moved mountains on Swan Islands because of his laser-focus on moving freight. “Every two people that ride down here,” he shared Wednesday night, “is a semi!”

At his party on Wednesday, Angell called him a “steadfast humanist, transportation buff, savvy activist, master collaborator.”

Steph Routh, the former director of Oregon Walks who, like Anderson, trained as a singer before becoming a transportation activist — and who, like Anderson, has sometimes been known to choke up during an emotional moment at a public event — said she admires how Anderson uses powerful emotions to add depth to his public policy arguments, just as his personal experiences had informed his folk songs.

“It comes out of your eyes, and you can’t be ashamed of that,” Routh said Wednesday. “Pounding the table is done out of love and respect, and shaking your fist in solidarity is done in love and respect. That’s what I’ve learned from Lenny as an activist.”

Publisher/editor Jonathan Maus contributed to this report.

Correction 3:20 pm: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Anderson was one of two people to vote against an early plan for the CRC. He cast the only “no” vote on that committee.

New route through rail yard could link up North Portland Greenway

New route through rail yard could link up North Portland Greenway

The City and Union Pacific Railroad are in talks about
how to connect the NP Greenway path between
Swan Island and lower Albina.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

As the route of the long-planned North Portland Greenway comes before Portland city council this week, there’s a new possibility in the mix that could vastly improve one of the project’s most glaring gaps: the segment between Swan Island and the Eastbank Esplanade.

Union Pacific Railroad and city planners are now looking into a possible “alternative” route through UP’s Albina rail yard that could allow what the npGreenway group described as “car-free access through Lower Albina.” This development comes after Mayor Charlie Hales described on-again, off-again talks between the City and UPRR as “going very well” as of last May. Back then, the Mayor met with UPRR officials to discuss the project.

According to PBOT Active Transportation Division Manager Dan Bower, following that meeting, the president of UPRR committed to finding a solution. Their proposal is to offer the City a 20-foot wide, two mile long piece of land on the east side of the railyard adjacent to N Greeley Ave. The proposal would take path users to Interstate and Russell. Bower says PBOT has done some preliminary designs and cost estimates but they haven’t made any final decisions.

The new route would avoid the much-criticized possibility floated a year ago of directing path users uphill to a new separated path on North Greeley Avenue and existing bike lanes on North Interstate. It would also avoid the “Cement Road,” a route owned by UPRR that’s currently in use by the Ash Grove Cement company.

The dashed green route shows the Cement Road; the pink area is the rail yard.
The possible new alternative route is not marked.
(Image: npGreenway.org)

Francie Royce of npGreenway, the citizens’ group that’s pushed for years to build the trail, said Friday that she’s hoping Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz and the rest of city council will give strong endorsements of a deal with Union Pacific that could include the rail yard.

The language allowing that ongoing negotiation is already in the council’s proposed resolution (item 1026).

For the moment, Royce said, her organization’s recommendation to the city is that the riverside Cement Road should remain the top priority.

“We’re unclear exactly what that alternative is,” Royce said. “Until it’s very clear that the railroad is willing to make that happen, npGreenway is sticking with the Cement Road.”

Sending people up onto the surface streets at Greeley and Interstate, she said, would undermine the concept of the greenway.

“It’s a truck route, it’s not near the river and it’s not compatible with the idea of a Willamette Greenway trail at all.”
— npGreenway co-chair Francie Royce on Greeley Avenue

“It’s a truck route, it’s not near the river and it’s not compatible with the idea of a Willamette Greenway trail at all,” she said. “It’s not friendly to families and moderate bicyclists.”

The issue has particular weight because Swan Island, the industrial-zoned area the greenway would serve, is booming as an employment center. Portland Community College is preparing to open a new “Trades Education Center” there and Daimler Trucks North America has just announced a major expansion that’ll bring 1,000 more jobs to the area. Good bike connections are especially important on the island because many employees work shifts that don’t align with TriMet’s service hours.

Other than the Greeley-Interstate issue, Royce said, her group supports the “general alignment following the river.” It’ll also include a newly funded bike-pedestrian bridge connecting Pier Park and Chimney Point Park near St. Johns, to be built after 2016.

The council‘s action is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 30th in City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Avenue.

“We would encourage people to come to city council and/or email city council members to let them know about the trail alignment,” Royce said.

Stalwart Swan Island transportation advocate Lenny Anderson announces retirement

Stalwart Swan Island transportation advocate Lenny Anderson announces retirement

Going Street Bridge to Swan Island-10

Lenny Anderson, shown here at the
dedication of a biking and walking
path on Swan Island in 2010, is retiring.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Lenny Anderson, one of the most outspoken and effective transportation advocates in Portland, officially announced his retirement this morning.

Lenny had served as the executive director of the Swan Island Business Association for 14 years but he’s been best known in local transportation circles as the head of Swan Island’s Transportation Management Association (TMA), an organization he founded in 2000. In that role, Lenny was a fixture in countless transportation policy debates and projects. From sidewalks to bike paths and bus lines, the results of his efforts are evident all over Swan Island.

What I appreciate most about Lenny is that he was never afraid to speak his mind — whether the audience was a powerful politician or just a curious young bike blogger. And while Lenny understood how to work and be patient within the process, he also often went against the popular Portland predilection of incrementalism by suggesting bold ideas that would shake the status quo (a floating bike/walk path cantilevered from a train bridge in north Portland for example).

I first met Lenny in October 2006 at the dedication of a new paved path on the Willamette River. That path was just one of many victories on Swan Island that Lenny can claim nearly sole credit for. If you have ever biked, walked, or taken the bus on or around Swan Island, you should be grateful for Lenny’s work.

Here are a few photos of him in action throughout the years…

Freightliner and Swan Island

I toured Swan Island with Lenny in August 2006. The place he’s standing is the site of a major path improvement project he was working on at the time. See the next photo for the fruits of his labor…
Going Street Bridge to Swan Island-9

Lenny was happy to dedicate this new path about four years after I snapped that photo of him above in nearly the exact location.

Freightliner and Swan Island

Here he is at the entrance to the Ash Grove cement road. The road is owned by Union Pacific Railroad and is technically off-limits to the public; but Lenny (and others) have been working for years to open it and create a flat, direct link between Swan Island and the Rose Quarter area.
trail dedication ceremony- Swan Island

Lenny with former Mayor Sam Adams in 2006 cutting the ribbon on a new section of the “Going to River” path.
trail dedication ceremony- Swan Island

He’s a master at grabbing the ear of decision makers and making his case.
metro hearing on the CRC-8.jpg

In June 2008, Lenny testified in opposition to the Columbia River Crossing project at a Metro hearing.
Tour of Tomorrow

Lenny riding through Vancouver (with Mia Birk) during the 2007 Policymakers Ride.
Carfree_Conference-6.jpg

Lenny with former Metro Councilor Robert Liberty at the Carfree Cities Conference in 2008.
Bike commuters at Daimler Trucks North America on Swan Island-4

With the bike commuters group from Daimler Trucks North America in 2010.
Daimler bike shelter opening-36

At the unveiling of a new bike shelter at Daimler Trucks North America in April of this year.

This morning, out of pure serendipity, I ran into Lenny on my way into the office. He was waiting on a MAX platform with his bike on his way to work. Lenny shared how he got his start as a transportation advocate during the six-day closure of the I-5 bridge in 1997. The experts expected massive congestion on I-205 (that never materialized of course), so Lenny worked with C-Tran (Vancouver’s transit agency) on vanpool schemes for Swan Island employees. From there, his “badgering” of TriMet to run a dedicated bus line down to Swan Island resulted in the number 85 line that still runs today. Those early experiences convinced Lenny and others on Swan Island that transportation demand management was the key to their future.

Here’s an excerpt from a memo sent by Lenny to the SIBA Board this morning:

We have seen a lot of progress in my years as TMA Director and SIBA Executive Director. Swan Island has the best transit service of any industrial district in the region, vanpools operate daily to Clark county, the number of bike commuters grows and grows, and this last year saw the completion of over $5 Million in bike/ped/transit access improvements. The Swan Island Evening Shuttle is funded thru June 30, 2014; the TMA project has Metro and member funds to sustain it for another year and a half. In short, parts, products, and people are all moving on Swan Island!

Taking over the reins for Lenny is Sarah Angell, who began the transition into becoming “the new Lenny” over a year ago (and in case you haven’t met her yet, Swan Island is in very good hands).

Congratulations on your retirement Lenny. Your work lives on as a powerful symbol that one dedicated advocate can make a difference.

Stalwart Swan Island transportation advocate Lenny Anderson announces retirement

Stalwart Swan Island transportation advocate Lenny Anderson announces retirement

Going Street Bridge to Swan Island-10

Lenny Anderson, shown here at the
dedication of a biking and walking
path on Swan Island in 2010, is retiring.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Lenny Anderson, one of the most outspoken and effective transportation advocates in Portland, officially announced his retirement this morning.

Lenny had served as the executive director of the Swan Island Business Association for 14 years but he’s been best known in local transportation circles as the head of Swan Island’s Transportation Management Association (TMA), an organization he founded in 2000. In that role, Lenny was a fixture in countless transportation policy debates and projects. From sidewalks to bike paths and bus lines, the results of his efforts are evident all over Swan Island.

What I appreciate most about Lenny is that he was never afraid to speak his mind — whether the audience was a powerful politician or just a curious young bike blogger. And while Lenny understood how to work and be patient within the process, he also often went against the popular Portland predilection of incrementalism by suggesting bold ideas that would shake the status quo (a floating bike/walk path cantilevered from a train bridge in north Portland for example).

I first met Lenny in October 2006 at the dedication of a new paved path on the Willamette River. That path was just one of many victories on Swan Island that Lenny can claim nearly sole credit for. If you have ever biked, walked, or taken the bus on or around Swan Island, you should be grateful for Lenny’s work.

Here are a few photos of him in action throughout the years…

Freightliner and Swan Island

I toured Swan Island with Lenny in August 2006. The place he’s standing is the site of a major path improvement project he was working on at the time. See the next photo for the fruits of his labor…
Going Street Bridge to Swan Island-9

Lenny was happy to dedicate this new path about four years after I snapped that photo of him above in nearly the exact location.

Freightliner and Swan Island

Here he is at the entrance to the Ash Grove cement road. The road is owned by Union Pacific Railroad and is technically off-limits to the public; but Lenny (and others) have been working for years to open it and create a flat, direct link between Swan Island and the Rose Quarter area.
trail dedication ceremony- Swan Island

Lenny with former Mayor Sam Adams in 2006 cutting the ribbon on a new section of the “Going to River” path.
trail dedication ceremony- Swan Island

He’s a master at grabbing the ear of decision makers and making his case.
metro hearing on the CRC-8.jpg

In June 2008, Lenny testified in opposition to the Columbia River Crossing project at a Metro hearing.
Tour of Tomorrow

Lenny riding through Vancouver (with Mia Birk) during the 2007 Policymakers Ride.
Carfree_Conference-6.jpg

Lenny with former Metro Councilor Robert Liberty at the Carfree Cities Conference in 2008.
Bike commuters at Daimler Trucks North America on Swan Island-4

With the bike commuters group from Daimler Trucks North America in 2010.
Daimler bike shelter opening-36

At the unveiling of a new bike shelter at Daimler Trucks North America in April of this year.

This morning, out of pure serendipity, I ran into Lenny on my way into the office. He was waiting on a MAX platform with his bike on his way to work. Lenny shared how he got his start as a transportation advocate during the six-day closure of the I-5 bridge in 1997. The experts expected massive congestion on I-205 (that never materialized of course), so Lenny worked with C-Tran (Vancouver’s transit agency) on vanpool schemes for Swan Island employees. From there, his “badgering” of TriMet to run a dedicated bus line down to Swan Island resulted in the number 85 line that still runs today. Those early experiences convinced Lenny and others on Swan Island that transportation demand management was the key to their future.

Here’s an excerpt from a memo sent by Lenny to the SIBA Board this morning:

We have seen a lot of progress in my years as TMA Director and SIBA Executive Director. Swan Island has the best transit service of any industrial district in the region, vanpools operate daily to Clark county, the number of bike commuters grows and grows, and this last year saw the completion of over $5 Million in bike/ped/transit access improvements. The Swan Island Evening Shuttle is funded thru June 30, 2014; the TMA project has Metro and member funds to sustain it for another year and a half. In short, parts, products, and people are all moving on Swan Island!

Taking over the reins for Lenny is Sarah Angell, who began the transition into becoming “the new Lenny” over a year ago (and in case you haven’t met her yet, Swan Island is in very good hands).

Congratulations on your retirement Lenny. Your work lives on as a powerful symbol that one dedicated advocate can make a difference.