Monday, December 22

Thursday, September 4

Carfree Mt St Helens

The Mt St Helens trip was truly amazing. This was the first time I had ever planned
to cycle most of the way from Portland to Mt St Helens. The distance of 70 miles doesn't seem impossible until you figure that our destination was at 2700 ft. Team hardcore left southeast Portland Friday afternoon on our fully loaded ATBs (all terain bicycles) and followed an awesome route through east Vancouver on low-traffic streets. We wound our way through the beautiful suburban blacktop towards farm country. The highlight was definately Padden Parkway.
By the time we left Padden for the rural lands, the golden hour had approached and the scenery was simply stunning. When we finally reached the road which John's parents lived on, it was a wonderful precurser, as the road was very small and we saw no cars.
The next morning Jim and Joyce arrived and so the four of us squeezed into Jim's pickup for a short lift to Cougar.
It was a grand adventure to climb to the foothills of Mt St Helens. We enjoyed amazing viewsof the awesome landscape. There is so much more depth and meaning to the experience of cycling somewhere. We passed through deep woods, a few fields of clearcut, and decreasing traffic before we finally arrived at Marble Mtn Snow Park. We took a long rest and ventured on to the welcome quiet of a completely care-free road. We passed bicyclists and hikers casually meandering down the middle of the street. Obviously nobody was concerned for their safety as there was nothing to be afraid of. The closure not only brought peace to the area, but it also forced the outdoorspeople to travel by their own power down the road.
Our camping area was the middle of a hiking trail which we expected to be unused. We met up with Sugata and we enjoyed the stunning environment of a land minimally touched by humanity. The quilt of a trillion pinpoints of light brought such joy to us that we actually walked back to the road and lay there drinking in the rare experience for dozens of minutes.

The next day we packed up for the far end of the road at Lava Canyon. The road was beyond description in it's splendor. A corridor through thick evergreens surrendured grudgingly to steep sloped canyons formed by the eruption.
The trees reappeared just before we finally reaching Lava Canyon. After a peaceful lunch we explored the gorgeous lookout points to the crystal clear aqua river. The thunderous roar of the river was a marvelous counterpoint to the city's more common roar of traffic.
For someone like myself who doesn't have the ability to just drive out 200 miles from a city, it was a deeply moving experience to be far enough out that the only sounds dancing on my eardrums was the rush of the far away rivers and the swaying of the tree branches.
Then we jumped on the idea of riding down the road back to Marble Mountain. This venture was overwhelmingly worth it as three of us sped down the pitch black road with no fear of automobiles or traffic of any sort. It filled me with longing that more people could experience the public spaces of our world without fear as we did this weekend.
The next morning I woke up before dawn to enjoy the last experience of watching the sun rise on the volcano's slope (it would be saddening and depressing to come back here when the noise and fear of autos pervade the environment).
I was thrilled to see the sky as boundless as the landscape as I stood in the shadow of the mountain peak. The deep crimson sky gradually succumbed to a rich copper as the distant sun's rays leaped over the atmosphere and danced on the peak.
Our morning was peaceful and we shared company with the birds and chipmunks in the area.
Finally we went to June Lake on the way back. Our ride was just as thrilling as it had been every other time. My joy in this quiet environment will forever be a happy memory of peace.
All in all the trip was an unforgetable experience and I will cherish it forever. Though I had always thought that St Helens was a destination which would be unreachable for me unless I could convince someone to drive me out there, it's now clear that with proper planning this area is reachable by bike in less than 2 days.
(read the full photo journal)

Sunday, April 13

While visiting Todd Litman, creator of the Vancouver Transportation Policy Institute, I learned that the BC Ministry of Transportation, Saanich, and the city of Victoria are developing a plan to install a bus rapid transit (BRT) system through downtown and along the Saanich Peninsula(1). A BRT system is a transportation option which is an intermediary step between the traditional bus system currently in place throughout North America and a full scale light rail system. Essentially the system consists of an exclusive median in which the buses run with stations located at specific intervals, and passengers buy their tickets ahead of time at the station(2). BRT systems offer the same freedom from traffic and congestion at a lower cost. The advantages of the system is that it creates the same degree of permanence that light rail has which stimulates economic development, enhances street life, and adds destinction to an otherwise mundane bus system. The disadvantages are the potential pollution depending on the propulsion system, and the poor public image that continues to haunt buses. Systems have been built in about 18 cities throughout the United States as well as many countries in South America. For most cities, the BRT systems have reduced congestion and improved the perception of public transportation.
Tonight's public hearing was the most contentious public forum that I've attended (3). According to some people at the meeting, this was the first time that the Transit Authority had offered the opportunity for any kind public testimony. This alone set off a wave of distrust among most business owners and a few residents. The first speakers including one from the downtown Residents Association were generally in favor of the project as a way to 'get people out of their cars' one disabled resident expressed concerns about the pollution that buses have thus-far produced. [CNG, electric, or hybrid powered bus would be necessary to resolve this]
Darren Marr of GVCC expressed the cycling community's views as mostly favorable. He spoke highly of the decision to keep bike lanes from being sandwiched between buses and auto traffic, the increased distance that bike lanes would travel, and increased space for bikes. However he expressed concern about the outlying areas where buses would travel on the curbs and possibly cause danger to cyclists.
The Association of Douglas Street businesses expressed their opposition along a very different tangent. Their main opposition stemmed from the elimination of left-turn lanes, the addition of
four traffic signals, and reduced parking (4). The association expressed frustration that BC Transit had "ignored" options such as running buses along the curbway or simply installing high
occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. The association stated that the reduced [automobile] access would kill business because customers would find it difficult to get to their doors [by car].
The association's concerns are real and their opinions are legitimate. However they make one very massive assumption, which is that people who drive will actually follow the rules. If this
assumption were true, than the suggested alternatives would be just as logical. Unfortunately from drivers putting toys in the passenger seat (to ride in HOV lanes), to parked cars
interfering with transit lanes
there has been a long tradition in North America of nonchalance to traffic laws.

It is this fear of imperfect drivers as well as the potential to reduce pollution which
most impassions the pedestrian community to support the BRT system. Of those people I spoke to while riding the bus later that week, people were in favor of the proposal primarily for it's
potential to make walking in Victoria a safer experience.

Monday, January 21

Bike Friendly Los Angeles

The city of Angels has always been considered the iconic automotive city. Not only have they built an entire statue dedicated to traffic, but Jane H. Kay commented on a person who was stopped by the police simply for walking down the sidewalk next to Disneyland.

However despite the negative stereotype that Los Angeles has, there are many bike and transit friendly aspects to the city. The most dramatic example of bike friendly LA is a 21 mile bike path stretching from the edge of Malibu to Redondo Beach. This is where I first got into long distance cycling as a teenager. Although many roads in LA are wide multi-lane arterials, most of the major roads have bike lanes, which makes for a much simpler ride in places like Orange County. I had very little trouble getting through the sprawling suburbs east of Los Angeles because I always had a bike lane. The other positive aspect to cycling in LA is that most of the roads actually connect. So unlike the outer suburbs of many cities (including Portland), I was able to ride from Redondo Beach all the way to Wilmington on low-traffic roads. This is very helpful for people who don't feel comfortable using bike lanes with fast traffic. The only difficulty I had as a teenager was trying to get far enough out of the city that you could experience nature. If you do want to experience a natural setting in LA, the most bike-friendly places are:
Palos Verdes- while very built-up, many areas on the coastline are still beautiful. Ride Palos Verdes Blvd from Torrance up into the hills and ride counter-clockwise around the penninsula. The south side of the peninsula is the most scenic with amazing coastline vistas.
Malibu- the east side of Malibu is very hollywoodish, but if you remain patient and continue along Pacific Coast Hwy towards Point Magu you will see incredible views of the shoreline and watch the power of the ocean as it plays back and forth against the rocks.
West Whittier- if you're up for a longer trip you can take a ride up the San Gabriel bike path.which stretches all the way from Long Beach to West Covina. This path is basically a bicycle freeway in that it's fast and direct with very little scenery since the rivers have been transformed into concrete culverts. However there is one very enjoyable section between West Whittier and El Monte at the Whittier Narrows dam. This park has some wonderful trails through it and offers a break from the endless concrete throughout the rest of the city. If you take this trial, you can also stop at the Whittier Narrows Recreational area just west of the dam.
If you don't have a bike while your down there, simply take the light rail system to Long Beach and visit the BikeStation. Modeled after the Seattle BikeStation, this collective offers storage, rental, tool use, and advice for safe cycling around the Los Angeles area.
LA has been spending the past decade building and improving it's mass-transit system. There is now a multi-tiered light rail system connecting Long Beach, Oxnard, and Covina with downtown LA as well as a high-speed bus line running along the Harbor Freeway. I even got to see articulated buses running through Santa Monica. Unlike the situation when I was a teenager, the buses all have bike racks to allow you to use multiple options to get around the city. How successful this system becomes depends on how open-minded the population is. However there are many signs of intelligent lifestyle ideas throughout the urban metropolis that is Los Angeles.

Sunday, November 25

Pedal Powered Car -artwork

I was impressed and intruiged when I saw this post about a pedal-powered car. Instead of some four wheel bicycle, there was an old Buick. As I read on, the post revealed that Michel de Broin had, in fact, removed the engine and guts of an old car and created a bicycle drivetrain to power the vehicle. If art is meant to intrigue and create discussion, than this piece has definately done it's job. I was left looking at it and rethinking my ideas of what is a car and what is a bicycle. Despite the latin root of the word 'bicycle' as being two-wheel, most human powered vehicles are described as 'three-wheel bicycle' or such. However this isn't simply a four wheeled bicycle, it's a human powered car. So Michel has in fact rewritten our definition of car and bicycle.
Of course the Toronto authorities did apparently look upon revolutionary transportation with the same predictable malice that other western governments do. Namely by searching for some means of squelching it.
The irony of course, is that they're charge was 'operating an unsafe vehicle.' What is so amazing is that with proper brakes (which I'm told were maintained), an automobile traveling at 15mph is 5 times less dangerous than an equally sized vehicle traveling at 30mph(1).
I do hope that innovations like this reach many more eyes and ears, if for no other reason than to make us think.

Wednesday, August 29

The Ride for Climate

David Kroodsma is cycling across America to talk about Global Warming and how this affects us. After first riding the STP through the Pacific Northwest, he became fascinated with bike touring and soon rode his touring bike from California through Mexico and Central America to the southern tip of South America. The experience taught him (and us as well) about how Global Warming is affecting us now and in the future. A few things that were interesting were how little most people know about climate change. Many South Americans thought that it had something to do with Ozone. However most everyone he spoke with understood that it's happening and that it's caused by human activity. The people he spoke with in America held starkly different beliefs. Interestingly, all of South America create 5% of the world's carbon emmissions, while in the U.S. causes 20-25%. David's comment on this was that it's much harder to accept bad news when you are the cause of it. (which is why bike commuting is so important)
The other interesting trend that he noticed was that many people who were extremely poor (the income disparity is much larger in Latin America than here) still had television sets and would dream about the American way of life. Of course if they all had our lifestyle we would need 6 Earths to support it.
But you're interested in the bike aspect.
So David cycled all the way through Baja California and crossed to Mexico. Unlike many cyclists, he detoured into the cities and talked with lots of folks in the cities. Some cities (like Los Angeles and Mexico City) were heavily choked with traffic, while others (like Bogota were wonderful).
David talked at schools, churches, and on the local news. He crossed the Andes mountains twice (that's an elevation of 16,000 ft. At times he climbed 5000 ft in a single day. The elevation was challenging. Another area in the mountains David's map showed a road going through, but it hadn't been built yet. So the only option was dismantling his bike and traveling by Burro across the peaks.
Many people ask if this is difficult, but for David it wasn't so much how difficult it was, but how simple. All of the people that he met were friendly and generous with food and hospitality.

After riding through all of South America, David flew back to the U.S. and
traveled across the country with companion Bill Bradlee to speak to Americans about Global Warming.
David's extensive travels certainly paid off in endurance. While cycling with him down the Springwater Corrridor, it was incredible to see him averaging 18mph down the trail with a fully loaded bike with the rest of us struggling to keep up. David mentioned that after cycling through the Andes, riding through the U.S. was like swimming in oxygen.
Visit David's website and blog here to learn more about his adventures and speaking events.

Monday, July 16

Seattle To Portland

For those of you who are interested in my (mis)adventures at this year's Seattle-To-Portland ride, I'm sending out this post of what NOT to do on a 200 mile bike ride.
The bus ride was probably the best part of the trip, given that my tardiness allowed me to get nearly the whole bus to myself. I stowed my recumbent in the luggage bin and had everything in one place when I arrived. I set up the bent and trailer with my sign.
There were some issues with the idler pulley, so I stopped at a bike shop and hardware store for some specialty items. Then assurred that the bike would be dependable, I headed off for dinner and to meet my hosts in Seattle.
After finally resolving the bike, I then had the misfortune to get lost in one of the very hilly sections near Lake Washington (there are many). So after struggling with a recumbent and trailer up several 7% grades, I arrived very exhausted at their house. I had connected with this very wonderful couple during pedalpalooza, and asked if they would be willing to let me stay with them for STP. Dick and Mina were very kind and gracious given all of the stuff I had to deal with before getting there. I figured that this would be the easiest way to be near the start point. I had very much enjoyed talking with them about their farflung adventures around the world. They've had an envious lifestyle.
My first mistake, was to be less cautious about the distance from Dick's house to the U of W. By the time I got to the starting point, I'd already covered 7 miles. I finally got my start packet, and raced off with the last of the starting riders. I managed to keep a strong pace and finally caught the rearmost pack of riders in the exurbs of Seattle. I got the first 40 miles done by 11:30 which was still mediocre for me.
It was much more fun when I finally had some other folks to ride with and didn't have to contend with traffic alone. As soon as I reached the first large crowd, I new that my decision to bring the sign was not in vane. Many people saw it, and either avoided conversation (meaning guilt) or appreciated it. Many people thanked me for bringing it. I passed a lot of the same people and had many brief hellos and conversations, but few real connections. The one major highlight of this portion was the unbelievable sky. I enjoyed amazing views of Mt. Ranier capped by amazing cumulous clouds (If I'd had my camera, the ride would have probably taken another hour). Many of the same wonderful farm country greeted me again and I marveled at the vast swaying grasses of the farms. I caught up with Jess & Kronda a few times on the ride, which was amazing. The most incredible part of the ride of course, was the Tenino trail. This path is the main part of the route that I look forward to.
As the day continued to wain, I became nervous about my finish time and I was disapointed that I was making less than 10mph. I later found that this was a combination of being unused to the recumbent for long riding, and the trailer which acted as a drag brake in high winds.
I connected with one rider on the trail who was going slow due to some stomach discomfort. I stopped with him for a bit and we chatted while he recovered. Since I was worried about arriving before dark at this point, I had to leave before he did, so I just let the organizers know that he was there.
I continued on along the trail and despite my fatigue, I relished in the experience of floating through a green tunnel that stretched to the horizon. The sun mildly filtered through the leaves, and the car noise was mitigated by the brush. I returned to the road, and headed towards Centralia with thoughts of nothing but laying horizontal for an hour.
Though I didn't catch Erin, Matt, or *. But I did see Maria and it was great to have someone to chat with at the end. I also talked to a few other people and had some great conversations. After an ice cream, I lurched over to the massage area to find that they were not taking anymore. Then I went to dinner to find that it was meat lasagna. Since I'd had such a hard and disappointing day, I just ate what I could of this. I was simply too tired to care.
It was great to have time to chat with Maria and a few others for dinner, and then I crashed for the night.
I left the next morning and headed to Chahelis for breakfast so as to get some miles before eating. I chatted with Keith Blackwell who is working on extending this trail south from Tenino to Chehalis (just like the Boring folks are doing in Clackamas). This was very exciting and I told him that I'd refer him to some folks. It was really great to catch Matt and Erin during breakfast (boy I'm sad Erin's leaving). I had some pancakes and eggs, before running off to start the next day. The second day is also very wonderful for the first half. In fact it's the middle 100 miles which really make the trip worthwhile. The first 40 miles out of Seattle and the last 50 miles in Portland are both high traffic and noisy. But that being said, I really love going through Toledo, Vader, and many of the towns in the area. In Vader I caught up with a really fun guy who had the same bike I did, and he had some outrageous jokes. We rode along at the same pace for awhile and so had plenty of good-natured bantering. I wonder what he thought of my sign since his support vehicle was a full-sized van.
Anyway at the next rest stop after that I started with more sunscreen and water since the heat was getting oppressive. I also met up with Aimee who would normally have been about the same pace as me (without the trailer) and we talked at the next few rest stops. We also seemed to have a great camaraderie.
Shortly after lunch I left the ride and traveled south from Kelso to see what the Washington route would look like. I remembered how unpleasant the ride over the L&C bridge and Hwy 30 was, so I decided to leave the official STP route, and the helpful markers and make my own way.
For the first 40 miles or so it was great. I traveled south on only two-lane roads and kept pretty well on the route. I got plenty of gaterade and food due to the heat. However it was near Kalama that I made a fatal mistake. I took the wrong section of Green Mtn. Road which climbed about 2000 feet through only a couple of miles. For a recumbent rider who's riden 160 miles already, this was an unbelievable test of will (and of Aaron). I did persevere, but with a huge time loss. Finally I managed to get back to Old Pacific Hwy and stopped at a great farmstand on 279th. The woman who ran it was a former cyclist and knew all the hills and routes.
I got 4 pints of fruit to re-energize, and got some advice for routes. However after looking more closely at my map, I decided that I-5 would be shorter and flatter. This was a great decision since the traffic practically pushed me into Vancouver. I made 6 miles in about 1/2 hour. I also found someone's cellphone on the shoulder who was very grateful that a cyclist had traveled on I-5.
Unfortunately since Vancouver has nowhere near the transit system that Portland does, there were no buses running at 7:30 on a Sunday, but after continuing to downtown Vancouver, I caught the Trimet bus back to Portland. And yes I did eventually get to the finish line.
Total miles - 207

Thursday, June 28

How to 'Get Hitched' with your Bicycle

Demand for bicycle trailers continues to grow, enough that people are just building their own rather than trying to find an inexpensive solution at a store.
From speaking with numerous people and using several different types of trailers I have learned quite a bit about what makes a successful one. First of all I recommend using a two-wheeled design because of it's stability and safety. The frame should be strong enough to comfortably enclose the wheels without any part of the structure coming close enough to be in contact with the rotating wheels. A square frame with rounded corners provides the most stable platform and minimal chance of scratching you or anything else. That's the easy part. More complicated is the hitch system. The hitch must allow all three axis of rotation. Since the bike must be able to lean side to side, turn on corners, and bend over steep hills and driveways. The most ideal location for a bicycle hitch is to connect as close to the rear axle as possible. This puts the force of the load directly in line with the wheels. For light loads of 30-90blbs (12-40kgs) it's best to connect to the bike in this manner. There are several commercial trailers which use a simple and cheap pneumatic coupler. This is an easy universal joint which you can find at most hardware stores. Simply screw or bolt it to a couple of metal plates and attach those to the bike near the rear axle. Here's a nicely designed lightweight hitch. For slightly heavier loads of approximately human weight, the coupler may not be strong enough. A good solution is a rod end, which is a ball & socket joint (1). You can get several different sizes so pick one which will be plenty strong. The only disadvantages to attaching at the wheel are the complexity, and the difficulty of keeping it away from the rear tire on turns. That's why for heavier loads of several hundred pounds or 150 kg. I recommend attaching to the seatpost. It's a little less safe in quick stops, but if you're carrying 300 lbs on your bicycle, than you should definately be a careful and experienced rider.
The fastest way to do this is to take two metal tubes (large enough to fit over your seatpost) and weld them at a 90 degree angle Slide one end over the seat tube, and drill a large hole perpendicular to the tube sticking out. Through this you can put a bolt and run your trailer tube from it (3). A more complex but very durable alternative, is to buy a windsail joint (not that kind of joint). This is a neoprene connection between the board and the windsail. A used one is cheap and provides a weatherproof joint (4).
I don't have much authority on metal connections, but from those poeple that I've talked to, welded connections are more homogenious than bolted. In other words the whole frame acts as one unit, and joints don't loosen. However since I don't know how to weld, I built a full trailer using self tapping screws. If you do use regular bolts, be sure to put lock washers or neoprene bolts on every one to prevent the bolts from loosening.
For more information on trailer design and use, visit bikes-at-work.

Thursday, May 31

The Village Building Convergence

To write even a brief summary of the whole Village Building Convergence would be doing an injustice to the overwhelmingly broad experience. Therefore I will just post a few highlights of the event and invite you to visit the website to learn more.
I was privilaged to play a small part in the event this year. I spent several days before the celebration helping to setup and construct the space. There were walls to be built and painted, decorations to hang, and materials to be setup. I learned a lot about construction in this process.
The day before opening, we set up mocktails on the Burnside Bridge as a way to intice volunteers to explore the space and also to share my appreciation of folks who use community transportation (more on that later).
On Friday VBC opened to an awesome crowd, delicious food, amazing speakers, and great entertainment. There was a group there called the Sustainable Road Show which used a puppet theatre to share with people the realities of transportation and GMO based biodiesels. They encouraged people to travel by bike or at least use algae or other renewable biodiesel. I was impressed at the positive response they claim to be recieving in middle-America. This is very good news.
I also had the chance to participate in the Sunnyside intersection repair. When I say repair, I mean taking steps to mitigate the damage that standard transportation does to neighborhood connectivity. The intersection repairs were the primary sites where children could happily run around and play without being within an enclosure. It was so great to see.
On the first Sunday we took a bike tour of the close-in sites to give people an idea of where they might want to volunteer their time. Unfortunately due to the rain, and the plethora of workshops, we only saw about 4-5 sites before heading to a bio-swale workshop. It was quite interesting and I was able to share many of Portland's finest road experiences.
During the week there were so many amazing things to experience including a workshop on rocket stoves, and several great speakers.
Thanks to some fast action by one of the organizers, I was able to set up bike parking so the attendees were able to have a safe place to leave their bike during the evening events.
On the final weekend, I helped work on a cob building, and also worked on an intersection repair.
The last Sunday we held another bicycle tour of the close-in sites. Thanks to Deepak we covered 15 sites and the folks really enjoyed the experience. Ironically enough, there were a few car-dependant folks who wanted my help in giving them our route so they could drive along. I had to inform them that I specifically worked out a route which is difficult or impossible to drive along so that the group would be safe. What many folks don't realize is that the main reason that events like this exist, is becuase there is minimal connection within neighborhoods due to the unpleasant pedestrian experience. When a neighborhood is more difficult to drive through, it becomes more pedestrian friendly and there exists more human connectivity. This is the whole reason why I have aligned myself with the Village Building Convergence this year.
I welcome you to find out more about City Repair's projects and successes.

Sunday, April 15

Step It Up - Cutting Carbon Emissions

Yesterday about 25 wonderful folks came down to People's Coop to join the Step It Up bicycle tour. Some people came from as far away as West Linn and Vancouver. The ride was sponsered by Exchange Cycle Tours and showcased examples of how individuals can become more energy efficient and reduce the impact that each of us has on Global Climate change. We started at Peoples where we learned a little about each other and what role bicycle transportation has on ecological respect.
After this Sarah talked to us about People's Coop, what it is, and how the building contributes to the health of the city. We learned about the building's rainwater catchment system, recycled materials, the cob wall, and the passive heating system. Sara shared the advantages of being a part of a community store like Peoples.
We then rode through Ladds Addition which is a neighborhood designed to reduce automobile speeds and foster a bike & pedestrian friendly environment. We continued to Northeast Portland where we met up with Brian Bacon and learned about the green features of his residence. The house has 1200 square feet of windows on the south side which heats up the concrete floor and keeps the house at a warm temperature. He shared the effort he went through to use recycled materials throughout the house. The driveway is used for a garden rather than for an automobile, and the highly insulated walls keep the heat where it's supposed to be. After a brief tour of this wonderful house, we were off again to the west side where we stopped at the EcoTrust Building and met Jen Marlow. Jen had set up a large canvas and some non-toxic paints for us to paint our wheels and create a mural of bike tracks. This was hugely fun and we created a truly wonderful painting. From there it was off to the finale at the Step It Up rally downtown. The irony was palpable that we arrived just as a woman was paying the meter for her car. However we put 20 bikes in the parking space behind her and caught Eric Sten talking about improving Portland's environmental status through energy efficiency and sensible transportation. There were so many incredible people and innovative ideas floating around. I feel that we really made an impact and raised awareness for ways in which people can be the change they want to see.

Thursday, April 5

Sellwood Bridge update

Last night I attended the 4th in a series of meetings on the Sellwood Bridge design. As I covered in a previous post, the Sellwood Bridge project will offer several options for users of the bridge to bring their comments to the county. Unlike other transportation improvements, there is a lot to be thankful for on this project. First of all, since the leading agency is Multnomah County and not ODOT, we can be sure that intelligent transportation modes will be fully accomodated. Mia Birk is on board as an advisor and her comments are well respected by the committee. Secondly there is a very strong interest by residents to ensure that bike/ped transportation as well as transit are comfortable and efficient. The current estimates are that bike traffic across the bridge will be 10 times higher by 2030. This shows a great willingness to respect us as users.
The main focus of the meeting was to hear input regarding the bridge's cross-section, and how the crossing would be routed. Residents had a great many comments and there was some very heated discussion. While Ian was giving his presentation, several outspoken residents started making comments which were requested to be afterwards. Control was almost lost when a number of attendees started shouting out comments and questions. Some of the questions were not even about the bridge itself, but about Tacoma and it's traffic. I was impressed with how well Ian kept his cool and calmly got everyone to follow the public input process.
I feel comfortable with the results that we will be getting from this effort. There are a lot of good people involved, and Multnomah appears to have it's priorities well setup. I only hope that the bridge will be completed before material and construction costs spiral up beyond the range of accessability.
If you haven't filled out the survey, be sure to put your input to the city to support intelligent solutions.

Sunday, February 11

Velo Mobile

Today I met up with Mitch
who is the first velomobile owner in Portland. So what is a velomobile,
and how is it different from what we drive everyday?
"A velomobile is a fully enclosed recumbent (usually a trike) that is
designed for use in all weather. Despite their sleek looks, they are not racing
machines. They are quite fast on level ground and some velomobiles have won
in European HPV races but most designs put a premium on practicality."

The Go-One is built in Germany and comes fully assembled. This fascinating vehicle has most of the advantages of a car, while holding on to most of the advantages of a bicycle. I like what the marketing folks say on their website.
"What other vehicle can you "recharge" with an energy drink and
a powerbar." (Of course in Portaland, we use pastries)

Mitch can ride this to Hillsboro everyday without contributing to the traffic
and pollution of others on Hwy 26, yet he stays comfortably enclosed within the
carbon fiber shell. The velomobile weighs in at only 40kg. (75lbs.) which is amazing
for such a trike. It sports a headlight, turn signals, and a lithium-ion power-assist.
While the $11,000 price may be out of the range of many cyclists. The cost is
comparable to a small car, and the maintanance is dramatically lower. Since most
of the gearing is enclosed, and of course the engine is biological. So for people
who do travel long distances without the choice of waiting until dry weather,
a vehicle like this does have it's usefullness.