Archive for January, 2011

3 Wonky Events This Week

Posted in News on January 31st, 2011 by Ted – Comments Off on 3 Wonky Events This Week

There’s a few events of interest this week —

1) Monday Jan 31
Northeast Neighborhoods, “Sharing the Roads”  NECN’s office, 4815 NE 7th Ave.
“This roundtable is to address safety for people who walk, bike and
drive.  Speakers include Carl Larson from the Bicycle Transportation
Alliance, Stephanie Routh from the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition and
Greg Raisman from Portland’s Office of Transportation. Speakers will
provide research and information on how to keep safe while you move
around N and NE Portland.”
(Full details in an email sent to the AROW list by Benjamin Adrian on
Jan 24)

2. Tuesday Feb 1 — N Williams Bike/Safety project, first meeting
The city is going to improve N Williams for bicycling and other forms
of transportation.

I’d like to see a double-wide bike lane, striped as 2 lanes.
Sometimes I want to go fast on Williams and there’s so much other bike
traffic I can’t.  Sometimes I want to go slow and fast folks whiz by
me in the same lane.  Come discuss whatever aspect of this you’d like.
12:00 – 1:30 pm, “MOB West” in Legacy Emanuel Hospital. This is a
conference room just across the semi-circular driveway of the Medical
Office Building, at 501 N Graham.

3) Thursday Feb 3 – “Bridging the Gap: A history of the Interstate Bridge”
5-9 pm, Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main St, Vancouver WA

The I-5 bridges over the Columbia River in downtown Vancouver have a
long history — the northbound bridge is 94 years old!  It was built
when Model T Fords were just coming of age, and now it carries 3 lanes
of heavy truck traffic at 60 mph.  Now both bridges are clated to be
replaced with a $4 billion, 12 lane behemoth, the “CRC”

The exhibit will also cover how I-5 construction ripped through the
center of Vancouver in the 1960s.  Presentation at 7pm.

Does anyone want to bike up there?  The weather forecast is good, I’d
propose leaving from The Paul Bunyan statue in Kenton at 6:00 pm.
It’s a 4.5 mile ride from Kenton to the museum.

Unpaid victim restitution goes uncollected in Oregon

Posted in News on January 28th, 2011 by Andrew – 2 Comments

This week’s Portland Tribune contains a terrific article about the vast amount of unpaid restitution money owed the victims of crimes. The piece focuses in part on Lorna Kautzky, whose husband was killed by an impaired driver while on an early morning bike ride more than five years ago. The perpetrator served 17 months in prison, is now out of jail and doesn’t make the required payments toward the thousands that the court awarded Kautzky for funeral arrangements, grief counseling and her husband’s lost wages.

“This is not about the money to me,” Kautzky says. “This is about justice. This is about, you made a conscious decision to get behind the wheel of a car when you knew you shouldn’t, you took someone’s life, you have devastated a family, you have taken away a son’s father, so you do your time and you’re off. No. That’s just not acceptable. You have to be accountable for your actions.”

The article continues with some striking statistics about the meager percentage of restitution paid in Multnomah County upon completion of parole (5%) and probation (28%).  Once probation ends, the cases are turned over to the Oregon Department of Revenue where they usually go without pursuit for various reasons.

Unpaid restitution, in theory at least, hangs over an offender’s head for the rest of his or her life. When probation or parole ends, cases with unpaid restitution get turned over to the Oregon Department of Revenue, which can garnish future wages and intercept tax refunds. But victim advocates say that process often isn’t working, either because the proper paperwork isn’t filed or collections aren’t pursued – or because offenders escape collection efforts by moving out of state.

Which apparently is just what the man who killed Lorna Kautzky’s husband did. The anger remaining in Lorna Kautzky came bubbling to the surface full strength about a year ago, when Kautzky made her monthly call to the Washington County parole officer about the young man, now out of prison and past parole. It had been more than a year since Kautzky had received even a small restitution check.

The piece is absolutely worth reading in full, and you can do so here.

They also have a pretty good article about the proposed roadway improvements in the South Waterfront to prepare for the Milwaukie light rail bridge.

SoWa greenway and bike path “ready to start”

Posted in News on January 27th, 2011 by Andrew – Comments Off on SoWa greenway and bike path “ready to start”

Nathalie Weinstein has an article up in the Daily Journal of Commerce about the City of Portland moving forward on the construction of a greenway along the South Waterfront’s riverfront property.

It sounds like the project is far from overcoming all obstacles, but Portland Parks & Recreation intends to select a construction manager/general contractor for the project soon.

The effort will come with improved fish habitat along the bank of the river, and it will include separate bicycle and walking paths:

The first phase of the project includes construction of a five-block-long mix of lawn, park and plaza areas along the Willamette River between Southwest Gibbs Street and Lane Street. Below the green space, which will have separate paths for bikes and pedestrians, a 25,000-square-foot gravel beach will provide improved fish habitat. The plan calls for eventually creating 100-foot-wide parks along the river for 1.2 miles between the Marquam Bridge and an existing trail at Johns Landing.

I got the chance to ride the existing trail from John’s Landing after last night’s BikePortland Get Together at Macadam’s, and it’s a real nice bit of infrastructure. At a few points along the way I was riding gloriously right above the river, all lit up by the city’s lights. However, it diverts you onto the striped bike lane on SW Bond Street once you hit the South Waterfront, which is not nearly as pleasant.

The prospect of connecting the riverside bike path all the way along the SoWa up into Tom McCall Waterfront Park is an exciting one that would do wonders for recreation and bicycle connectivity in SW Portland.

Project partner TriMet is providing $1 million for the habitat improvements, which will give it environmental mitigation credits needed to proceed with the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project, Argentina said.

This brings to mind the fact that it will also be a terrific connection from SW Portland to the Max stop sited for the west side of the river and will surely help many folks that commute by multiple modes going either direction. All in all, I hope to see the project move forward. The environmental, recreational and mobility benefits of it seem sound.

Mexico City’s Weekly Car Free Sunday Pedals through History

Posted in News on January 26th, 2011 by Ryan – 2 Comments

Car Free Sunday at The Angel of Independence - ©Ryan H.

Mexico City, one of the largest and oldest cities of the world, celebrates Mexico’s storied history and humanity by opening up its grandest boulevard to hundreds of thousands of people every Sunday. This 24km pedestrian, skating, and pedaling route snakes its way through the core of this great city and civilization.

To travel along this wide pedestrianized promenade, Paseo de la Reforma, is to voyage from the Aztec antiquities to Mexico’s capitalist modernity with monuments to all of Mexico’s varied roots from Greek Goddesses, Aztec Emperors, Spanish Colonial Kings & Conquistadors, Mexican Independence Heroes, Mexican Revolutionaries, and the Mexican Stock Exchange.

The Historic District of Mexico City Full of Bikes on Car Free Sunday - ©Ryan H.

This large boulevard is the favorite spot for celebration and angst in Mexican national civic life, a place for parades and protests. The weekly car free Sunday event, titled “Cambia de Carril y Muevete en Bici” or “Change Lanes and Move on Bike,” encourages residents, families, and visitors of Mexico City to enjoy this historic street on foot, skates, or bike.

The route turns from this grand boulevard into the crowded, busy, and narrow streets of the Historic District of Mexico City leading to the center of the Mexican Republic, government, & the site of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the Zocalo.

The route encircles the Zocalo and then heads to the spiritual capital of Mexico, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the national shrine devoted to the appearance of Mexico’s patron saint. The Basilica has been receiving pilgrims for almost 500 years continuously and is only second to the Vatican in number of annual pilgrims.

"Velotaxi" Pedicab in the Zocalo at Car Free Sunday - ©Ryan H.

The municipal government sponsors and organizes this weekly event with great precision and coordination. The route was filled with people and most of all, families with children. The city provides many different services to encourage residents and visitors a chance to pedal through history with programs such as free bicycle mechanic stations, medical kiosks, free bicycle loans and children’s bicycle trailers loan stations along the weekly event. These compliment Mexico City’s already modern and large bike sharing network, EcoBici, which has many computerized kiosks along the route.

Eco Bici- Mexico's Bike Sharing System ©Ryan H.

Many Non Governmental Organizations also arrange interesting programs at the “Change Lanes and Move on Bike”. Some of these include free public theater, environmental classes, yoga in the park, and photo & sculpture exhibitions. Two of the most creative programs are led by activists for the disabled. ‘Blind Bike’ is one of these programs, where the activists team up blind and disabled people on tandem bikes with more able bodied cyclists to allow the visually impaired a chance to enjoy the city from the saddle of a cycle, while having the sights described to them by their fellow pedaler! The other endearing project from these activists is “An Hour in Someone Else’s Shoes,” where people are encouraged to navigate the city in a wheelchair loaned to them, in the hopes of creating more empathy for the needs of the disabled community.

Skating and biking at Fountain of Diana, the Huntress - ©Ryan H.

The most amazing aspect of the weekly event is how it takes place on what is, arguably, Mexico’s most important road. The street has a different monument at every intersection. Statues that are usually choked by cars & auto exhaust are liberated on these lazy Sunday mornings, easily approached by curious children and fumbling tourists. The route of Cambio de Carril y Muevete en Bici starts on the Paseo de la Reforma near the Presidential Residence. The first tribute is a fountain devoted to the Greek Goddess of Hunting and the Moon, Diana. When we attended the event, the fountain was being used as the start and finish line to a very well attended bicycle racing competition. Further to the North, was the bronze statue of the Angel of Independence, a monument and mausoleum to martyrs of the Mexican Independence of 1810. The city government had young university students loaning bikes at the base of the Angel, and we happily borrowed two of their bright yellow bikes, then joined in the giant bicycle procession that included people of all ages. Every other block, there were EcoBici stations, where members could rent bikes with a swipe of their card.

Bike Loans of all different types! Tricycle Pennyfarthing at The Fountain of Diana - ©Ryan H.

We pedaled along the route, excited to be on wheels again! Heading towards the Historic District, we entered into the center of finance in Mexico. The boulevard took us past the Mexican Stock Exchange, one of the tallest buildings in the Americas and we passed the embassies of the United States, Japan, Colombia, and the EU. In the midst of modernity, two separate monuments were staged a few blocks apart. One was to Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor who was captured, tortured, and executed by Cortes and his invading Conquistadors. The other statue, at the next intersection, was to a Spaniard by the name of Cristobal Colon. Here in Mexico, where much of the nation is equally descended from each of these once opposing cultures, the Aztecs, and the Spanish, the juxtaposition had lost its irony. This road pulsed with people, art, history, and commerce. How excited we were to explore it at a relaxed pace from the vantage of a bicycle saddle.

Pedaling through the History of Mexico at Car Free Sunday - ©Ryan H.

What a treat that such a great nation makes the recreation of their citizens such a priority that they devote their most prized streets, monuments, and institutions to bicycles, skating, and walking every Sunday.

(Imagine Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. Being turned into a Pedestrian mall every Sunday!)

Story & photos by Ryan Hashagen & translated and edited by Lale Santelices.

We are currently travelling overland and sea from Portland, Oregon to Puerto Montt, Chile investigating Latin American cycling culture.

Follow our super wonky transportation travels on:
Facebook: Portland Tricycles
Twitter: @portlandpedals

Our Cambia de Carril y Muevete en Bici or “Change Lanes and Move on Bike” Flickr Gallery:

Using Pedal Powered Machines for Farm & Business

Posted in News on January 24th, 2011 by Ryan – 2 Comments

Maya Pedal's Shop Sign

In the central mountains of Guatemala, corn and vegetables are planted on every hillside, amongst towering evergreen trees, a landscape little changed for generations of the indigenous Maya.  Men, children, and most of all, women are seen working these hillsides throughout the seasons, planting and harvesting their produce. This hard work of farming is made a little easier and more efficient with the help of a group called Maya Pedal and their many different innovative creations.  This group invents and builds “Bici Maquinas” or “Bike Machines” in the town of San Andres Iztapa to make hard manual labor and small Guatemalan businesses more efficient and sustainable in these steep agricultural valleys. These bicycle farm machines are created from old, discarded North American bicycles by devoted local Guatemalans and international volunteers

Maya Pedal in San Andres Iztapa, Guatemala

Often bicycles are thought of as alternative, sustainable, environmental & efficient form of transportation. Maya Pedal re imagines pedal power for commercial and agricultural purposes. They use Bici Maquinas to create an intermediate technology bridging the large gap between manual labor and industrial technology.

These bicycles are transformed into pedal powered machines to help Guatemalan family farms and small businesses. As one of the international volunteers informed us, these Bici Maquinas “are self sufficient forms of technology that do not require fuel or electric energy to function. They contribute to the Guatemalan economy of rural farming communities by providing a low maintenance resource to improve production.”

Bici Maquina for Grinding Grain - Photo from Slow Living Blog

They have invented over 30 different Bici Maquinas all powered by pedal including: bicycle powered water pumps, corn mills, roofing tile molders, tool sharpeners, blenders, degrainers, electric generators, macadian nut shellers, bicycle plows, bicycle wood saws, animal feed mills, washing machines, & cargo tricycles.

These “Bici Maquinas” or Bike Machines, made by the organization Maya Pedal, are employed to make work easier, more efficient, and self-sufficient in this agricultural land. The use of pedal power is truly an “appropriate technology,” transforming work done by hand into a much more efficient labor. Maya Pedal explains that the Bici Maquinas “Utilize the force of leg power, which is five times greater than that of the upper body. The equivalent of 1/8 of horse powered energy.”

Their mission is to “Contribute to the conservation of the environment, the health of the Guatemalan People, and the productivity of the local economy.” The organization was originally inspired by the practical needs of Guatemalan farmers. As their director, Carlos Marroquin, explains to a group of local Guatemalan women, Bici Maquinas are “a tool, to help make things easier, much easier and faster than doing things by hand. It is much easier to push with our legs.”

Maya Pedal Shop Manager

Maya Pedal has received containers of bikes from many non profits in North America. They have worked with the Peace Corp, Bikes not Bombs, Working Bikes, & MIT to receive donations and keep their mission alive. They accept bikes in any condition and make use of everything they are sent.  This includes wheelchairs and walkers which are put to use by the many disabled and amputees in this once war ravaged country.  To keep Maya Pedal sustainable; donated bikes that can be repaired are fixed and sold locally to further their goal of providing sustainable transportation options as well as using the profits from the bike sales to fund the creation of the Bici Maquinas that are sold to farmers at cost.

When we visited Maya Pedal in November of 2010, they were finishing off the last scraps of a container that had been sent in January by Working Bikes Collective of Chicago. The volunteers and staff of Maya Pedal desperately asked how they could get another container of bikes to continue their charitable work. They told us how many organizations in the United States and Canada are donating bikes to Africa & Asia, which is very important, but the volunteers at Maya Pedal wanted us to share “our need for bikes here in the Americas.”

The bikes Maya Pedal relies on for providing transportation and for Bici Maquinas are bikes that many Bike Collectives in the United States and Canada throw in the scrap pile and recycle for scrap metal prices. The Huffys and department store bikes of any age are the bikes that Maya Pedal uses to accomplish their inspiring mission. The volunteers and leaders of Maya Pedal implored us to share their story and to explain how one person’s trash can be another person’s treasure. May we remember to help our fellow Americans with their bicycle needs.

Very informative video of Maya Pedal:

Maya Pedal is always in need of volunteers and especially needs a shipment of used bikes.

Story & photos by Ryan Hashagen & translated and edited by Lale Santelices.

We are currently travelling overland and sea from Portland, Oregon to Puerto Montt, Chile investigating Latin American cycling culture.

Follow our super wonky transportation travels on:
Facebook: Portland Tricycles
Twitter: @portlandpedals

Flickr Photo Set of Maya Pedal:

Window of the World from Maya Pedal