Cycling News & Blog Articles

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‘Traffic gardens’ bloom in Portland

Traffic playground at Sacramento Elementary School.
(Photo: PBOT)

In three short months 10 vacant schoolyards and parking lots in Portland have been transformed into miniature neighborhoods. These “traffic gardens” were created to give kids and families a place to pedal and roll together in a time when safe outdoor activities are in high demand.

Traffic garden at Cesar Chavez School in north Portland.
(Photo: Sam Balto)

Traffic gardens aren’t new, but they’ve flourished in Portland recently because of the work of a local physical education teacher and renewed interest from the City of Portland and Multnomah County.

Sam Balto is a phys-ed teacher at César Chávez School in north Portland; but his interest in getting people to be more active goes way beyond his day job. When we first met Balto he was placing red plastic cups in bike lanes to illustrate the need for more protected cycling space. He was honored with a Weston Award from nonprofit Oregon Walks in 2019 and called for more open streets in Portland in response to the COVID-19 pandemic long before the City of Portland got on board.








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Dan Ryan wins seat on Portland City Council

Dan Ryan

Dan Ryan earned a seat on Portland City Council by nabbing 51% of ballots cast in the race against Loretta Smith for position 2. Ryan has a lead of about 4,500 votes with just 3,474 uncounted ballots remaining. Ryan will fill Nick Fish’s seat when he moves into City Hall next month.

Ryan is a former Portland Public School board member, graduate of Roosevelt High School in St. Johns, member of many local advisory boards, and former executive director of education nonprofit All Hands Raised.

Before typing anything else, I want to say I dropped the ball on this race. I’m sorry. I regret not getting both candidates on record about cycling and transportation-related issues. In years past we could rely on those issues being part of the campaign dialogue and news cycle. But as transportation has fallen off the list of high-priority topics now dominated by police reform, homelessness, affordable housing, and other important issues; it’s our responsibility to raise the issue.

Now we have a new council member who’s gone largely unvetted when it comes to transportation policy. Ryan (like most candidates these days, unfortunately) doesn’t mention transportation on a list of “strategic priorities” on his website. At the transportation candidate forum held back in March, Ryan’s comments lacked substance and didn’t make it into our lengthy coverage. The only notable stance he’s taken publicly is to oppose ODOT’s I-5 Rose Quarter project, which he said is “Not OK” because it would lead to, “Spewing emissions on middle school kids,” and “Impinging on the Esplanade.”



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Portland passes historic housing and parking reform policy

A fourplex in Montreal, often considered the most bike-friendly city in North America.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

How we build housing in our cities is directly linked to whether or not people will bike in them. As we’ve been saying around here for years, proximity is key to a bike-friendly future and housing policy and biking are closely intertwined.

That’s why the package of policies passed by Portland City Council this morning are so monumental.

By a vote of 3-1, Portland approved the Residential Infill Project after five grueling years of process. The Sightline Institute called it, “The most pro-housing reform to low-density zones in US history.”

Veteran BikePortland readers might recall a guest post we published in early 2015 from a local developer who saw the writing on the wall and called for, “Regulatory changes that would support traditional neighborhoods and simultaneously open the door for the creation of market-based affordable housing.”




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Ask BikePortland: How can I connect with other riders in the time of COVID-19?

Friends at bike events. Remember that?
(Photo at 2016 Cycle Oregon finish line by Steve Schulz)

Are you feeling a bit lonely? You’re not the only one.

These warm summer months are typically peak season for Portland’s cycling scene. But during a time when the coronavirus dominates hearts and minds, most events and races have been cancelled. Usually bustling bikeways are sparse.

Events are the connective tissue of a healthy bike ecosystem. They’re where friendships are made and riding buddies are found. Crowded bike lanes make us feel connected to others and create perfect opportunities for impromptu chit-chat. (I can remember bumping into several friends and acquaintances on a typical weekday ride through the city.)

Reader Jason B is feeling the effects of cycling becoming far less social. He asked us on Twitter recently,



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The Historic Columbia River Highway is open again for your riding pleasure

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Along with an announcement today from the U.S. Forest Service (see below) that Multnomah Falls has begun a phased re-opening comes news that the last section of the Historic Columbia River Highway closed due to Covid-19 precautions is now open.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has officially re-opened the Historic Highway between Bridal Veil and Ainsworth. This means the entire highway and State Trail between Troutdale and The Dalles (minus the five-mile Mitchell Point section that requires riders to use I-84) is back to its pre-pandemic status. Keep in mind many of the trails and other recreation sites remain closed.

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And if you think the highway will be a mess with a crush of cars parked and being driving near Multnomah Falls and “Waterfall Alley,” you’ll be pleased to know that the USFS and their partners at the Lodge are allowing only limited access. The parking lot adjacent to the falls will remain closed. The only lot for cars to park in is the one accessible via I-84 and there is no parking/stopping/dropping-off allowed on the Historic Highway.



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Roundup of transportation surveys ready for the taking

Metro wants to know your thoughts about school-related travel.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Because I know you love surveys, here’s a little roundup of a few that have come across my desk recently…

Metro wants to know how students around the Portland region will be traveling for daily, school-related activities. “The survey is intended for families across the Portland Metro region so please share widely so we can better understand families’ transportation needs,” they say. Hurry up because this one closes this Saturday, August 15th. Take the survey here.

Multnomah County (like every other government) is facing big revenue shortfalls due to Covid-19. With people driving less, gas tax revenue is in a nosedive and the County expects that chunk of their budget will be $2 million lower between now and summer 2021. They want your help to set “service priorities” while they look to grapple with a smaller budget. Here’s more from the County:

“The survey asks what type of County Transportation work is most important to users, what types of projects we should focus on, and what level of road and bridge maintenance is acceptable. It asks the public to identify which principles should guide the County’s budget decisions and whether the County should focus on preserving the existing transportation system or adding to the system.”



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Ross Island Sand & Gravel site up for sale, raising possibility of Springwater path connection

This orphan section of the Springwater Corridor path build in 2011, is just north of the Ross Island Sand & Gravel parcel that is now for sale.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

(Map: BikePortland/PortlandMaps)

A three-acre parcel on the Willamette River adjacent to the Springwater Corridor path is up for sale. If the property changes hands, it could hasten development of a key section of riverfront path that would bring us closer to filling the gap between the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater that currently forces a detour onto surface streets.

According to a sales brochure published by real estate company CBRE, the former Ross Island Sand & Gravel facility at 2611 SE 4th Avenue is being sold for $3.195 million. The listing boasts of access to public transit, riverfront views, and a “rare” large waterfront development site.

In early 2019 Ross Island Sand & Gravel owner RB Pamplin Corporation closed the company’s concrete division based at this location, laid off dozens of workers and sold off most of the equipment.







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Portland adds space for people on busy streets

Many streets in east Portland have high-stress corners with wide turning radii and narrow sidewalks adjacent to fast-moving traffic. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The third leg of the Portland transportation bureau’s pandemic-related Safe Streets Initiative aims to allocate more space to people on busy streets. Their aptly named Busy Streets program is creating new bus platforms, wider sidewalks and expanded corners.

PBOT photo shows crews installing bus platform on SE Washington.

Last week PBOT installed the first bus platform on SE Washington and 80th in the Montavilla neighborhood. The new expanse of pavement will give TriMet Line 15 bus users more space to maintain a safe physical distance while they wait. More bus platforms are coming on SE Stark Street at 82nd, 90th, 92nd and 105th. Stark and Washington will also see several sections of expanded walkways.

Unlike with the Slow Streets and Healthy Business programs, there are no planned lane closures or driving access restrictions. PBOT is using a mix of new pavement, paint striping and physical barriers to re-allocate the space. Check out the graphics below for what the new wider corners and sidewalks will look like…
PBOT graphics show concept for expanded corners and sidewalks.







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First look at freshly paved Bethany Creek Trail

Despite it not being officially open yet, these local kids found their way onto the path and were having a great time pedaling and picking blackberries.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

New path in yellow. Rock Creek Trail in violet.

A relatively short but important link in Washington County’s regional path system has been paved.

Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation Department has invested $1.1 million in the Bethany Creek Trail which runs from Springville Road to the existing Rock Creek Trail/Bethany Terrace Trail. The land is owned by Bonneville Power Administration and had been an unpaved, informal route for years. The length of the new path is just under one-half mile and the width is 10 feet wide with a gravel shoulder on each side.













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The Monday Roundup: Truck bloat, Rad story, Black voices, and more

Welcome to the week.

Here are the most noteworthy items we came across in the past seven days.

Black voices and Bicycling: Must-read content from major cycling media outlet Bicycle Magazine, who devoted their cover(s) and issue this month to first-person accounts of bicycling while Black from leaders and leading voices.

Climate failures: Economist Joe Cortright eviscerates Metro’s 2020 transportation funding package for its feckless approach to major greenhouse gas emission reductions.



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Nifty new bike signal added to Broadway/Williams intersection

On the left, a bike signal in Amsterdam. On the right, a bike signal in Portland.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The infamous Broadway and Williams intersection has a new signal. I say infamous because this location has a long and sordid history of right-hooks and interventions by the City of Portland to try and stop them. The latest change is aimed at helping bicycle users comply with the traffic signals.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has installed a new “near side” (meaning it’s close to where you wait) signal with a sensor that triggers a countdown timer. The signal is part of a statewide research project to figure out what type of bike signals will work best. In a Tweet last week, PBOT said this new signal is the first first “Dutch-style countdown signal in the United States” (but it appears to be similar in function and provenance to the bike signal at N Interstate and Oregon).

Portlander Gerben Gerritsen is happy to see the new signal. He remembers them fondly from his hometown of Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands and one of the most bike-friendly places in the world. “It’s a life changer. I’m glad they’re coming to Portland,” he shared with us. “You know how long you’ll have to wait. That way you know if you have time to take off your gloves, check your backpack, phone etc. No mid-process scramble when you’re taking off your jacket.”

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The North Greeley separated bike path is finally open!

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

It has been a long time coming but I am happy to say that the North Greeley Avenue bike path is open. I shared a sneak peek a few weeks ago so I won’t bore you with details again, but since that post the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has finished the striping and, more importantly, the bike signal at the north end.

But first, a few more photos of the path in all its glory (last time I was there the striping wasn’t done):

Now, about that signal. Because PBOT chose to create a two-way bike path on just one side of the road (and remove an existing bike lane from the other side) they had to figure out a way to direct southbound bicycling traffic onto the new path. This means bicycle riders have to; know how to use a bicycle-only signal, wait for it to turn green, and cross over a very wide intersection while putting their full trust in PBOT signal engineers and other road users (see third photo below).










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ODOT says new Community Paths grant program could dish out over $19 million

Fanno Creek Trail near Oleson Road.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has taken the wraps off a new program that will fund off-street path projects across the state.

The Oregon Community Paths program was first announced in February and ODOT has just released more details. Program manager Alan Thompson said he thinks there could be around $19.2 million up for grabs between federal and state sources through 2024, although that amount is “in flux” (likely a reference to ODOT’s pandemic-related budget crunch).

ODOT will pull together four funding sources — one from the federal government, three from the State of Oregon — to help plan and construct paths that are not on the roadway right-of-way. That stipulation is important because Highway Trust Fund, gas tax, and nearly every other major revenue source is legally required to be spent in the right-of-way.

As an example of the importance of this funding source, Thompson pointed out that state-funded Safe Routes to School projects are limited to being in the right-of-way. “So if there’s a potential path that goes from a housing development to a school, but it is not on a roadway right-of-way it would be ineligible for Safe Routes to School funding, but it would be eligible under this program.”



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Weekend Event Guide: Biciclista Garage Sale, alleycat, and more

Cruise over the Denver Avenue Plaza in Kenton and support local businesses!
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Typically on a warm summer weekend in August we’d have tons of great bike events to share. Things aren’t back to normal by any stretch, but there are a few things worth noting. The big one is a three-day garage sale from our friends (and BikePortland supporters!) Biciclista US. Their laser mask is my go-to for riding these days and you can grab one of them and check out all their other cool stuff Friday through Sunday.

Details on that and other events below…

Thursday, August 6th

Thursday Night Ride – 7:00 pm at Salmon Street Fountain (SW)
After a Covid-induced hiatus it appears the TNR folks are riding again. This week’s theme is sanity and the ride leader says it’ll end with a fire by the river. More info here.

Friday, August 7th

Biciclista US Garage Sale – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (SE)
*Note: Sale is Friday through Sunday*. Stock up on masks, jerseys, and other apparel and accessories from Portland-based brand Biciclista. The owner usually attends bike races and other events but with everything cancelled he’s decided to host a garage sale from his national HQ in southeast. More info here.



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A day trip to Dodge Park

It’s easy to get to the Bull Run River from Portland, and there’s a big park to hang out in once you get there.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

If you’re looking for an escape from the city that you can bike to, Dodge Park is a great choice. You might remember when I shared my experience doing an overnighter there a few years ago. Unfortunately camping is no longer allowed (thanks to a budget decision by Commissioner Amanda Fritz last year), but at just 30 (mostly) flat miles away, it’s easy enough to bike to for a day trip.

My son and I returned to the park a few weekends ago and had a great time. Here’s how we got there:


Our route was mostly on the Springwater Corridor and the final 10 miles or so were on quiet rural roads. The only sketchy part of the trip was crossing Highway 26 at an unsignalized intersection. My advice: Be patient, wait for a break in the traffic and scoot across as fast as you can. (I personally prefer to use the center median space as a refuge and cross in two parts.) It took us just over 3 hours to get there.













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Woman assaulted while biking on Columbia Slough path

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A Portland woman says she was sexually assaulted while biking on a popular path.

Location of assault.

According to University Park neighborhood resident Poppy Dalton, the incident happened last Tuesday morning (7/28) around 9:50 am. Dalton, 33, told us she was biking eastbound on the Columbia Slough Trail near the intersection with North Portland Road (across the Slough from the Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plan), “When a man rode up from behind me and aggressively grabbed/groped my butt.”

Dalton said her assailant then quickly turned right (south) onto the bridge over the slough. She reported the incident to the police that same day and the case is still under investigation. Dalton describes the man as riding a dark-colored mountain bike and wearing an unbuckled helmet, flip flops, and shorts. “He had very tan skin and shoulder length wavy dark hair. He looked tall with a slim athletic build,” she added.


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New concept drawings show future bikeway on new Burnside Bridge

Possible design of new Burnside Bridge.

On Monday Multnomah County gave us our best view yet of what the biking might feel like on the new Burnside Bridge.

As we’ve been reporting, the planning process for the “earthquake ready” bridge is slowly but surely marching along. This week the County released a survey to garner public feedback on the bridge design and how to manage traffic during construction.

Along with the survey they released a video with concept drawings that show how the new bikeway might look alongside various design options.

Here are a few more stills I pulled from the video:







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Trump owes us $542,000 (and counting) for wall around U.S. Courthouse

It’s still there.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A concrete wall and fence that’s been blocking travel lanes in downtown Portland for about two weeks is still up, and the City of Portland is tallying fines it intends to collect from the federal government for putting it there.

The Trump administration erected the fence to protect the U.S. Courthouse, but they never received a permit from the Portland Bureau of Transportation to do so. The fence partially blocks a lane of traffic on SW 3rd Avenue and fully blocks a traffic lane on SW Main. Both blockages create safety hazards for road users.

BikePortland was first to report on the fence on July 22nd, before the Portland Bureau of Transportation had weighed in on the matter. A day after we questioned why PBOT wasn’t defending their traffic lanes and sidewalks outside the U.S. Courthouse on SW 3rd and Main, they issued a statement calling for the fence to be removed and sent a cease and desist letter to the regional director of the U.S. General Services Administration signed by the City Attorney.

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A photo gallery of Portland’s new plazas and parklets

(A sampling of Portland’s new, on-street dining options. Click for captions, scroll down for many more. All photos by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

I’m a big fan of anything that forces people to think about the impacts driving has on our lives — especially when it comes to how much of our streets and public spaces are dominated by cars. That’s why I’m a huge supporter of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Healthy Business permit program.

On a recent sunny Saturday I rode around town and was amazed to see just how successful this program has become. On street after street, I saw dining tables, chairs, umbrellas, and lounging spaces on what used to be parking spots and traffic lanes. These were serene sights in a city many believed was “under siege” in a war between “violent anarchist mobs” and police.

Since it was launched in May, PBOT staff have worked furiously to keep up with demand. So far they’ve issued a jaw-dropping 657 permits.

Similar to their sidewalk cafe permit, PBOT (and their partners at the Bureau of Development Services, who oversees parking lots) is giving business owners relatively free rein to use parking spots, parking lots, and streets to seat customers. In response, opportunistic Portlanders are creating new commercial spaces with a wide array of materials. Some are framing-in sturdy structures with foundations and roofs, others are simply placing a few chairs and some rope in the street.





















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What should PBOT do with old Biketown bikes?

The old bikes still have plenty of life in them.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“We’ll start gathering information to find the best use for the old, pedal-only bikes in a way that reflects our environmental and community values.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

When the City of Portland launches Biketown 2.0 next month, the 1,000 bikes that were part of the original launch in 2016 will be cast aside. The Portland Bureau of Transportation says the analog, pedal-only bikes are “out of date” and “very expensive and impractical to retrofit.”

That’s about $1.6 million worth of bicycles with plenty of miles in them that could be put to use at a time when bicycling is booming and shops are having a hard time keeping bikes in stock.

For those of you wondering why they can’t be integrated into the new system, PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly responded to questions about that prior to City Council’s vote on the new contract last week.


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