15th August 2021
The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast
EPISODE 279: Bike Portland’s Jonathan Maus
SPONSOR: Jenson USA
HOST: Carlton Reid
GUEST: Jonathan Maus
TOPICS: 16 years of Bike Portland
Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to episode 279 of the Spokesmen cycling Podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday 15th August 2021.
David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the- spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.
Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to today’s episode of the Spokesmen Cycling podcast brought to you in association with Jenson USA. Today’s show is a chat with Bikeportland’s Jonathan Maus. Started by Jonathan 16 years ago as a one-man blog chronicling Portland’s lively and eclectic cycling scene, the site is now a multi-media operation that’s about to get a refresh thanks to investment from a new co-owner. Here’s our remotely recorded, 65-minute chat …
Carlton Reid 1:45
Jonathan, you’ve been doing Bikeportland for a wee while I’m it’s at least 16 years, I believe.
Jonathan Maus 1:52
Carlton Reid 1:53
Um, so people who listen to this podcast are now gonna be able to listen to your podcast, which is great. So there is some news which we will get on to have the expansion of your media empire. But first of all, I’d really like to Kai probably haven’t done a great deal of even though I’ve been to visit you in person, I probably haven’t grilled you in this in this exact way. So this is a This is Your Life. This is I’d like to know more about
Carlton Reid 2:21
the man behind the blog was a blog now I need your input. So first of all, are you originally from Portland, Oregon?
Jonathan Maus 2:32
No, I moved up here with my family in 2004. So a little bit before I started Bike Portland.
Carlton Reid 2:38
And where you from?
Jonathan Maus 2:40
I was living for about 10 years, I lived in Santa Barbara, California, which is on the Central Coast really beautiful places where I went to college as well. So I stuck around there as long as I could, and then ended up having to leave. Because it just got so expensive and ridiculous in Santa Barbara. So anyway, yeah, we found our way up to Portland and I and before that I grew up more in Southern California. So about 30 minutes south of Los Angeles near like Long Beach, California. I’ve always been sort of near the coast.
Carlton Reid 3:09
Okay. And then why Portland?
Jonathan Maus 3:14
Well, we were really like this stereotypical young family in California sort of like pulling our hair out about how expensive things had gotten down there, and how strange sort of the economy and just the community was in a place like Santa Barbara, which is this this super, super, super wealthy area. And then you have like a bunch of baristas, and yoga teachers, not a lot of middle class. So that was a big red flag and we were renting an apartment we’d been renting apartments for you know, for a long time at that point. And we’re just ready to live somewhere live in a community owned a home sort of the whole American Dream stick, you know, and this isn’t for of course, this is before 2008 in the big financial crash when you know, you were still just supposed to buy a house and renting wasn’t wasn’t wasn’t as appealing. So yeah, we we got out the magazines looked at where were cool places to live. And Portland at that point was, you know, always on the top of those lists. And so I thought, you know, it’s still on the west coast, it would still be relatively close to my family in Southern California. And that’s we came up and visited a friend that had moved up to the Portland area and basically went back and a weekend saw a house we liked and bought it and that was it.
Carlton Reid 4:21
Because there is a climate difference. Isn’t there? There’s a bit of difference in weather between where you grew up and Portland.
Jonathan Maus 4:30
Yeah, for sure. But I mean, I feel like at that point, I was just so young. I didn’t really think through the decision that much into somebody. I mean, which we can get to later I mean, I lived two blocks away from a freeway before I became much much of a transportation activist like I am now I would never bought this house so close to freeway Had I known then what I know now but also made to think on the weather thing. You know, actually, the weather in California can be pretty boring Southern California weather it’s it’s always the same. It’s hazy sunshine and mid 70s every single day and it’s I
Jonathan Maus 5:00
I got to tell you, it gets kind of boring. nothing ever changes. You don’t have clouds and seasons and darkness and water from the sky. So I really liked I really liked the climate up here.
Carlton Reid 5:10
Although you have had a heatwave recently, haven’t you? I mean, you might still be having it. Cuz you’ve had some extremes there.
Jonathan Maus 5:15
Well, yeah, of course, of course, nothing. Nothing is normal now. So now we’re getting a lot a lot more that heat and dryness that from Southern California is coming up here for sure with climate change.
Carlton Reid 5:24
Mm hmm. And you said before young family, so so who are you talking about?
Jonathan Maus 5:30
Right, so I had a daughter who was a few years old, in Santa Barbara. And then since we’ve moved up to Portland, my wife and I have had two more kids. So we’ve got, we’ve got a 18 year old who’s setting off the college, we have a 16 year old who will be a junior in high school. And then I’ve got my boy who’s 10 and going into fifth grade.
Carlton Reid 5:47
Right? Okay. And your wife,
Jonathan Maus 5:51
My wife, Julie, yet she works actually for the City of Portland in the signals and street lighting division. So that’s, that’s interesting. She, you know, she mostly when you know that she’s had that job for maybe four or five years. So for the most part, when I was really building bikeportland, and throwing everything into it, and working all day, every day and all night, she was really keeping everything going and, you know, looking over at me, like, you know, what the heck is going on? Why are you trying to, you know, have a blog support our family kind of thing. So it’s who was about four or five years ago that that was kind of, you know, still not, let’s say, working out financially for the for bikeportland. So she was sort of like, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get a job.
Carlton Reid 6:30
Was there any friction that if you were you were doing stuff, potentially quite critical of the city? And here’s your wife working for the city?
Jonathan Maus 6:38
Well, there wasn’t friction. I mean, you know, it’s I guess it’s, it’s okay, that she’s not sort of directly in the department that I cover most, right? So she’s in signals and street lighting, which there is sort of a hard line there. She’s not working on the planning. And if she was in the bike planning section, or she was in the, the, the project section, that that may be a little more awkward, but even then, I mean, she’s a professional, I’m a professional. I think there are probably people at the City of Portland who are aware of that, and they’re kind of like, you know, looking at it with a little bit of a side eye. I’m wondering what’s going on there. But I think as long as we keep it all, all on the up and up, nothing, nothing bad will come of it. I mean, I think the other context of it is is that she got the job after there had already been really a split at the City of Portland and bike Portland. I mean, back in the early days of Bike Portland, we were sort of more like, you know, partners, in a way it was kind of like they saw me more as an advocate, you know, part of their team to help them get their news out. And there was definitely more of a collegial atmosphere. But that had all definitely eroded by the time she started working there. So they’d already built in sort of systems to ignore ignore by Portland and sort of create a wall between us I do not have the same relationship with them that I’d had in the early years.
Carlton Reid 7:51
Okay, now pedal backwards. You’re talking about you got a house in the same house. You got then if you stayed in the near the freeway, is that right?
Jonathan Maus 7:59
Yeah. Yeah, we’re still in the same place been given moved here yet. Oh, four. So yeah. 17 years, I guess now.
Carlton Reid 8:05
Okay. So when you moved to Portland, you and you said before, you weren’t a transportation activist, but were you a cyclist in some way, shape, or form?
Jonathan Maus 8:17
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’ve been riding bikes since I was a kid. And pretty much even in my professional life. I mean, even in college, I was a big bike rider, I raced a lot of research on the Santa Barbara UC Santa Barbara, road team and as the mountain bike club so I was super, super competitive racer, before I moved up here, and I just want to one of the first things I did out of college was worked at Chris King precision components, which which folks might know that the headset and hub makers, they were based in Santa Barbara, so I was a racer, and you know how it goes in the industry, you kind of just gravitate toward the biggest bike company in your town. So that’s what I did. worked over there. And then after that, you know, I did some PR work freelance for a bit and in the bike industry and and worked for a couple bike brands and stuff. So I’ve been around the bike world, basically, basically, my whole my whole adult life. So yeah.
Carlton Reid 9:07
And that’s how you’re making money before you moved. You’re in the bike industry.
Jonathan Maus 9:12
Yeah, I’d started. I started a public relations media relations firm. And I was working for myself. I had some clients in the publishing industry. So I worked with authors and publishing houses. And I also always maintained a client or two or three in the biking world. And I was really excited. I was I was building that business. I loved it. I kind of was up and coming. You know, I was young just starting out and I had you know, I was working for some companies I really liked. And yeah, that’s what I would have been doing had I not sort of found my way to being a blogger, I would have probably still been having my my media and PR firm because I liked doing that work. It was interesting. It just wasn’t as interesting as by Portland.
Carlton Reid 9:53
So then you started a blog. Yeah, this is like you had a day job and
Jonathan Maus 9:59
Then you start this.
Jonathan Maus 10:02
Carlton Reid 10:02
So what’s the very origins of how you started?
Jonathan Maus 10:06
Right. So when I moved to Portland, I definitely had my eye on the bicycle community and the bike scene here. I thought my first inclination was, let’s let me know I was going to get involved with the bike community. And maybe I’d get into like a nonprofit as like a pro bono client of my PR business, right? That was kind of how I was thinking. So I instantly joined any email list, I could and was really just starting to get to know people kind of like, looking out at the bike rides and seeing what was happening and starting to meet people. And I thought that’s what I would do, I would maybe help maybe a bike org, you know, get online or whatever they needed help with in terms of media relations and stuff like that. I was also like tinkering with building websites for folks and that sort of thing. So that’s how I thought it would get involved. But, you know, one thing just led to another. What happened was, it’s sort of at this, it’s the same amount of time, I started looking into the bike scene here in Portland. And again, for folks that don’t know 2004, 2005 was really like this amazing moment in Portland for cycling. A lot of the groups that are that were known for, and a lot of the like creative street culture that became a lot more well known in the subsequent years was just getting started, you know, like we had an all female mini bike dance team. We had this thing called bike summer and Pedal Palooza, which was this amazing, you know, several weeks of bike events, we had the zoo bombers. So we had some really, really fun, we had a bunch of tall bikes and free bike groups going on. So I came here from California, never having seen anything like that. And I was just blown away. I mean, to me cycling was, you know, who could get up the hill fastest, who was who could be the most aggro on the single track. And then if you wanted to, you know, goof around, you get a cruiser bike and go down to the beach, and maybe pop a wheelie like that was the extent of interesting bike culture that I knew of before moving to Portland, and I got here, and I and I mean, I would look out my front window and there’d be 30 people dressed like bunnies ringing their bells on Easter. And I was like, What in the world is going on? Like, this is really fantastic. And I just loved it. I couldn’t, I couldn’t, you know, we had street festivals. And I’d look up and see clowns riding tall bikes, jousting with each other while they’re on fire, like, stuff really blew me away. And so it was around that time that I got an email popped into this group’s email list that I followed this bike group. And it was someone from the Oregonian, which is sort of the the newspaper of record in Portland in our state. And they said, hey, there’s this new thing called blogs, we’re we want to have a network of blogs. And we thought, of course, since it’s Portland, and this is bike city, USA, we want to have someone write about bikes on our website. So this is the Oregonian’s website, they’re looking for a bike blogger, let’s say. And so I saw that, and I was like, well, that’s perfect. I mean, I’m a, I’m a news guy, I know how to write, I’m doing PR Media Relations, I’m super excited about the bike scene. Absolutely. So I remember firing off an email back to that person and just, you know, really selling myself like, Oh my gosh, I totally want to do this, just sign me up. So they gave me the gig. And so for that was like April 2005. So that was my first sort of experience with seeing my stuff published on the internet. And basically, I would email this person, a few paragraphs about something I did on my bike or some reflection I had about the bike community. And then a couple hours later, it would appear on Oregon live, which was the Oregonian’s old website. And I just thought that was amazing. It was super interesting to me, that whole process of publishing my stuff, and then documenting the local bike scene here. And then once that happened, I really got got into blogging, I was like it just something kind of shifted for me. And I also saw how blogs and sort of the democratisation of the internet and publishing in general, I also saw how that could impact my business as a PR person as a media person. And I started to realise that, you know, I would probably be helping clients start blogs and help clients start telling their story online and in different ways. So I just sort of dove headfirst into the whole online blogging world, and started researching it and, you know, reading up on it and joining a lot of blogs and just reading everything, basically. And so it wasn’t too long after I started doing it for the Oregonian doing this blog for the Oregonian that I realised how just how lacking their tools were like, basically, their whole, their whole format was just really kind of old school once I saw what was happening with typepad, and and blogspot and these other tools that I could just have a few clicks and have my own blog. Right. So my gears started turning, like, you know, basically, why the heck would I do this for the county. And when I could just do it for myself. And I remember, there were a few back and forth where the folks that they were going in were asking me for advice in terms of like, what can we do to make our blog network better. And I was sending him emails with all these lists of things like here’s here’s what blogging is, like they didn’t even have permalinks people couldn’t comment on our blog post back in those early days. And I was getting frustrated that this new bike blog that I started for them, you know, was sort of being saddled by not having the latest tools that I was reading about online. So once I realised that you know they weren’t gonna start
Jonathan Maus 15:00
To take my advice and improve their own blogs on the Oregonians website, I just was like, I’m out of here, you know, so it only did that for a couple months. And then I, you know, like I said, clicked a few times found WordPress, and got a domain bikeportland.org just on a whim, I got the.org thinking I might want to be a nonprofit, or I just liked how it sounded. And so that was it, paid $9.99 for the domain, and in July of 2005, started publishing stuff on bikeportland.
Carlton Reid 15:30
And then the design hasn’t changed much.
Jonathan Maus 15:35
It’s really funny. I mean, it, it hasn’t really changed a ton. I mean, I got a free theme. And this is something that you know, Carlton, once they started doing by Portland for several years, and people were paying me pretty good money to advertise on it. I always thought to myself, man, you know, like, I got the mayor calling me I’m getting you know, several $100 ads from people for these banners. And I don’t really have any overhead. I mean, I’m paid, you know, I got a free free design. Basically, I got a domain for $9 a year. And I’m publishing this stuff. I mean, it was just so amazing to me. And I always felt like how that was always so exciting to me that that could happen. So yeah, it’s basically the and I’m still didn’t get this. But I’m still basically using the same theme that I started with in 2005, which, which I think you could laugh that but it also shows you the sort of, you know, how how good of a tool WordPress is and sort of the power of the internet in terms of some guy who at some point, created this theme and put it out on the internet for free. Now, I have to say that I’ve also spent, you know, 1000s of dollars, with web people to tweak it and make it work and make it seem like theme stable and all that stuff. But for the most part, it looks the same.
Jonathan Maus 16:38
And we can get to that later in terms of like, you know, that’s one thing that I talked about with my investor here was, you know, paying for the massive sort of finally getting a massive update and upgrade to the site. So it looks a lot different.
Carlton Reid 16:50
And we will get on to that fantastic news. And it was like, you kind of mean I subscribed to your newsletter, the kind of the insider bikeportland newsletter, you send it every week. So you had this news last week. Just fantastic. And then you sent me another one this week. And I thought I must talk to Jonathan about that. So we’ll get onto that. However, I wanted. I know this because I have been there. And I’ve seen this with my own eyes. And I was just as as you were, I was just blown away when I saw the bike culture in Portland, which is which is something to behold. But for those people who haven’t been to by born perhaps even I haven’t even come across this, this these cultures. Let’s go through them one by one. So I think you kind of mentioned the Sprockettes first, you’ve got a dance troupe or you had a dance troupe? So So
Jonathan Maus 17:38
Carlton Reid 17:40
Tell me about that first. Now we’ll go through each of these little cultural things.
Jonathan Maus 17:45
Right, so so there was a group called the zoo bombers, which were people who would take the Max which is our light rail, and they would catch it, you know, downtown, and they would ride it to the top of this hill that we have, which is right up above Portland, it’s where the Rose Garden is, it’s where the zoo is, right. So it’s a hill right next to downtown Portland. And at some point, someone realised would be fun to take little kids bike, so you know, 16 inch wheels, and they would all pile on the light rail line, the max, and they would pay a buck or whatever, actually, let’s be honest, they didn’t pay, they’d go up there. And again, they met at 11 at night, let’s say right, so it’s a nighttime thing, they go up to the top of this hill, they hike their bikes up to the very, very top in this beautiful park. And they hang out, they get to know one another, you know, maybe haven’t have a beverage or two or whatever. And then they get on their bikes, they walk over to the road. Again, it’s pitch black on their underrun Mini mini bikes. And they would just bomb down the hill. And it’s a really fun downhill, these are sharp corners, narrow roads, really steep, and they would end up back where back at the light rail stop, and then they take the train back to the top. And this became this became like a religion for people. I mean, they would do it every Sunday, you know where to meet in the same way that a critical mass what happened in a city, if you’re in to bike stuff, you know, bike stuff, you could rely on it, you know, there’d be people there, you know, you’d see the same faces there. And these people started to build, you know, really strong bonds and sort of grow the group. And it became a real, it became a real thing. You know, you’d see, BBC did a video on that one point, you know, sort of starts getting attention, right. It’s very, very part of the sort of Portland weird ethic. And it created this whole community, obviously, right. So there were just dozens and dozens people that would show up and you could come in, if you’ve never done it before, they had a whole library of bikes down there, that they would loan out to you. So you could take one of these kids bike. So that was how Zoobombing sort of was established. And then there were there were women that were showing up. And sort of I guess at some point, some of the women thought, Well, hey, you know, what’s going on here, you know, we need to have kind of our own thing. And I think it was the history and again, I’m not, you know, it wasn’t like it’s necessarily inside that scene. So this is just what I’ve learned from knowing folks, but at some point, you know, the women brought up their own bikes, and then there was a party or some event where they ended up dancing on them anyway.
Jonathan Maus 20:00
So long story short, they created something called the Sprockettes, and this was an all female minibike dance team. And it’s just what it sounds like. They have the synchronised dances that they would do and they were all pink, by the way they would, you know, go to thrift stores and get dragged up pink clothing, you know, so think of pink fish nets and skirts and tank tops. And then they had their bikes all painted pink and these little kid bikes for the most part are or BMX bikes, and they would do these really fun dances. So 2005, 6, 7, there was an annual big annual event here that they would do. And then they start getting booked out at tonnes of events. So this becomes a real thing. And they have practices. And anyway, it’s just wonderful. At one point, my wife joined and we went out New Belgium brewing, paid, paid the Sprockettes to go on do a tour all through the West Coast, and got them a bus. And they went and did the New Belgium Tour de Fat events. They were real, really amazing group and just the most wonderful people you could ever imagine. So that was really fun. But that was the Sprockettes. So just try to imagine a city in a culture where something like that could could exist. And there’s all sorts of other ancillary things around you know, the Sprockettes that made them possible just this all kinds of different groups and, and bike clubs and things that were happening.
Carlton Reid 21:14
Was it is it the coalescing of like the keep Portland weird vibe, which is, which is kind of is the city is famous for? and a growing bike culture? Were they feeding off each other? What How come it started like this?
Jonathan Maus 21:31
Yeah, it’s really important. I mean, it didn’t just come out of nowhere. I mean, Portland had a legacy for cycling that I think is definitely unmatched in America. I mean, 70s 80s, you know, in the 80s, we had our mayor biking to work. And there we had, you know, huge Bike to Work festivals in the 80s downtown and just amazing buy in, you know, one of the leading congressmen in the US, you know, United States Congressman Earl Blumenauer, was, you know, previously in charge of transportation in Portland. And, you know, in the late 80s, early 90s, really ushered in, you know, definitely Portland’s era of being the leading cycling city in America and got the first bike lanes the first blue bike lane. So this was a city in Portland here that, you know, you know, we fought, we fought a freeway project, we were the first city to say no to the federal government expanding, you know, a freeway here and building a freeway in you know, giving a bunch of federal subsidy people secure, organised and said, No, let’s invest that money in light rail. So this is a very progressive city when it when it came to transportation. So that’s sort of the legacy that all this culture was really built on, you had, bicycling was just sort of like in the mix here, it was always in the water. And you have this, you know, this travelling, this travelling thing came through here in like 2003, it was called bike summer, and it had gone went to several different cities on the west coast, Vancouver, Los Angeles, other places, and the people that organise that thought it was so much fun that they wanted to keep it going. And I think that was really sort of the the big genesis of a lot of the sort of creative bike culture in Portland. And once you know, 2004 came around, we kept that festival going. And then it was just off to the races. And we had all sorts of interesting, interesting things happening around cycling here.
Carlton Reid 23:08
Interesting, you also mentioned before the jousting,
Carlton Reid 23:13
the tall bikes, the pedal palooza, describe some of that, because it’s some of the people are the same, and some of the people are different.
Jonathan Maus 23:21
Yeah, so just like any healthy cultural ecosystem, you know, people start forming groups, and then people spin off of those groups and spin off of those groups on want to do their own thing. So, you know, we had a group called like Chunk 666, which would have this, it was this really interesting, sort of underground secretive group that had a ‘zine. And they had this big annual thing called the Chunkathalon. And these are people in their garage, tinkering together with welding torches, putting together huge chopper bikes, or just, you know, bikes with three frames welded to each other. So you have to basically climb way up and you’re super tall. And if this chunk catalogue, they would have just these really remarkable in really wild events, where they would be, you know, there would be tonnes of people around and they would, you know, the main attraction was jousting. So they would get these huge poles and on the end of the pole, they’d have like a boxing glove or some other implement, and they would just pedal at each other. And these tall bikes as fast as they could in the person fell over last and the person who stayed up right one, but of course, around the edge, you have hundreds of people throwing beer cans, and, you know, you know, baby plastic baby doll heads and food, and it was just this, you know, fires being lit, some of the bikes were lit on fire themselves. So yeah, that was one part of it. You know, there was another whole group of clowns. There were actual, you know, clowns that would go around and do clowning. And they would, they always had bikes involved with them, there was this house where they would all meet, and every Thursday there was a street festival, one part of town, and there would be a bunch of really creative things happening there around biking, so and the Sprockettes would show up right so and then you have things like you know, pedal Palooza, which is really kind of the engine, which was this several week event where anybody can put a bike event on it on this sort of community.
Jonathan Maus 25:00
The calendar and it really encouraged people to leave their own rides. And that that I think, is probably the most important part of Portland’s bike culture. And this year in 2021, it’s going strong. It’s three months long this year. So it started as a as a as a two week thing. And we were talking 300, 400 events. At the height of pedal Palooza, there’s there could be 10 events in one day, we’re talking every day of the week. And this is everything from let’s go visit a bunch of bakeries on our bikes to let’s all wear the colour teal, and just just go to the park and take pictures of ourselves wearing funny costumes, a lot of them are dance party rides, where you have different DJs. And there’ll be a theme maybe there’s a big one, one of the biggest rides is called Prince versus Bowie, where one faction is Bowie fans with the big speaker system. One faction is both, you know, Prince fans, and they’re all dressed up, like the artist and go through the town, playing music and stopping at parks and other places to to dance and you know, just hang out. So if that’s that’s not even touching the surface of the amazing rides coming up this week, there’s going to be a bike play where a local theatre group has a bike themed theatre act that they go do in different sets around town and hundreds of people will follow them on their bikes to these different scenes in the play that they will act out live. So it’s really amazing outpouring of just creativity. And it’s all centred around cycling, and everybody’s on a bike. And so that’s kind of this environment that has really existed through all these changes in all these years in Portland, and is still going strong today. I’m really happy to say.
Carlton Reid 26:31
So Jonathan, when Yeah, that that description, and it absolutely marries with what I’ve seen. And it’s just it’s unbelievable to see. And it’s fantastic. But do you think there are some people who are attracted by that and become, you know, cyclists, people on bikes? But by the same token, there are some people who who might have become cyclists but thought, ‘Oh, God, I can’t become one of those people.’ Do you think it has a you know, a yin and a yang here?
Jonathan Maus 26:59
Well, I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, when I was just describing are just some of the sort of like, you know, some of the, you know, some of the subculture groups, a lot of this cultural stuff is really broadly appealing. I mean, we have cargo bike groups, we have family biking groups, and we have a critical mass that’s really popular. So it’s really there’s stuff going on that attracts all different types of people. But yeah, I think what happened in the early aughts, so 2006, 7, 8, when this cultural stuff was really front and centre, and it was, you know, bikeportland was really just coming on strong, we’re getting a lot of attention for the bike culture here. It did, I think, probably turned some people off, because the focus was really these subculture groups. And I think a lot of people looked at that and said, Well, I don’t want to go get naked. I mean, we have the largest naked right in the world, hands down. I think at one point, they counted, you know, 17,000 people 12,000 15,000. it shut the city down. It was so big, and so naked and amazing, right. And that’s what I think a lot of people looked at the sort of the, quote unquote, cycling culture in Portland. And they saw, you know, grown women wearing pink skirts dancing with their bikes, they saw naked people they saw, you know, clowns on tall bikes, but that that never really was the full picture, but it had an outsized impact on what people thought about the bike culture. So I think it ultimately probably did turn some people off or it allowed people to have this caricature of the bike culture in Portland that that wasn’t really true. It just happened to be the one that made the most noise. And I think, you know, if you fast forward several years, the bike scene here evolved a lot and has gotten away from a lot of that stuff. I mean, the zoo bombers are basically don’t exist, the Sprockettes, basically not around anymore, pedal Palooza is going strong, but many of these groups have sort of faded out. A lot of people are married now and have jobs and you know, moved away or moved to houses right. A lot of the people that powered a lot of these early groups, it was definitely a cultural phase. So and that was part of it is so things change so much in the bike culture and advocacy scene has evolved considerably. So it was weird for me as being someone who’s documenting all these groups and documenting all this interesting stuff. And it really in some ways really powered a lot of what made Bike Portland I think special was covering showing photos of things on bikes that people never really seen. And then once those things evolved and went away well it was kind of like well then what does bikeportland do then you know, how does it continue to evolve? So we can get on to this next one? I jumped the gun there though.
Carlton Reid 29:23
Well, I kind of want I want to I want to keep to this topic about the kind of the culture or and you’re right there’s it’s very broad culture. It’s not just the pedal Palooza or the Zoobombers is up there is that the critical mass and there is the cargo bike culture. Yeah, I know that. But anybody from the outside, say in Europe, who is into bikes and and perhaps has come across bikeportland as one of the major advocacy, stroke, blog, news, whatever
Carlton Reid 29:54
place to go to see will assume that if they landed in Portland, it’ll be like Amsterdam.
Carlton Reid 30:00
And that every single person, you know, every second person at least, will be on a bicycle. Yet it’s not like that. So tell us about the actual mode share of cycling in Portland?
Jonathan Maus 30:13
Yeah, it’s definitely not not like that at all. I think there was a time between 2005 and 2008, where we had our biggest increases in bicycling mode share. And people should know that for an American city, we’re number one, in terms of mode. Sure, we’ve definitely plateaued, we’ve even lost a little bit. But in terms of big, you know, relatively big, I think we’re one of the top 20 cities in terms of size courses, college towns, where people bike more, but I’m talking, you know, real major metropolitan cities in America, the more people bike to work according to the official data than any other city.
Jonathan Maus 30:48
But it’s America, and that that number means that you’re only at six or 7%, which is really sad, right? When you compare it to the 35% or so in real cycling cities, like Amsterdam, Copenhagen. So yeah, it doesn’t feel like that when you get here, there are streets and places in the morning peak in the afternoon peak after work, that you could see a lot of traffic. But of course, now we don’t even have those commuting peaks because of what happened with COVID. And everybody’s travel patterns are so much different. Um, yeah. So, you know, there was a moment when there was a lot of optimism, and I think that’s part of the Portland biking story. It’s certainly part of the bikeportland story is the first several years of this site when I was doing all these things, and posting all these stuff. And ite just felt like there was this cultural moment, that was super exciting. I think I felt like we would get there, I felt like we were on our way to having 30% mode share. I mean, it was just a foregone conclusion, in my mind. I mean, there was such optimism, I had such confidence. We had someone who was in the mayor’s office, who was a great bike champion, someone who I knew really well, and we did stuff with when the as they were coming up through the ranks, and they got elected mayor in 2008. And we thought, I mean, I thought and I think I sort of have always sort of reflected a lot of the community’s you know, feelings, and in a way, which is, it’s on like, we’re going to get there, we’re going to get 20% 30%. And then we’re gonna have something even more special than Copenhagen, and Amsterdam, because, you know, over there, they like to say, oh, biking is just like a vacuum cleaner. Everybody has one. And I always think that’s just super boring. You know, it’s too bad for them. They don’t have any creative, fun culture, they don’t celebrate cycling. And my thing was always, you know, Portland’s going to have both, we’re going to have the wonderful cultural celebrations of cycling and the fun around it, and all the community around it. And we’re going to have the mode split, to match those other places where you do leave your house and everybody’s on a bike. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way. The culture has to a large degree has, you know, that moment is over. Our trajectory on mode split is certainly plateaued, if not, you know, stagnated plateaued and is dipped a little bit. So, you know, we find ourself in 2021 in a much different place than I would have expected if you talk to me in 2010.
Carlton Reid 32:57
Hmm, you talked about the 1970s and the 1980s. And carrying through into the 2000s,
Carlton Reid 33:05
for how bikeportland became or sorry, how Portland became a city that could then have a publication such as bike portland. But in my book, Bike Boom, I did talk about how there was you can almost go back to the 1880s 1890s. And and when the streets were first laid down in Portland, which, which is also a factor. So Portland is different to many other American cities because of its street structure.
Jonathan Maus 33:38
So right. Yeah, there are there, there are a lot of factors in that. And that’s true, that one of the coolest things about Portland is this map that I have in my kitchen, I’ve got a I’ve also got down here in my office. It’s an 1896 map of cycling routes in Portland 1896. Produced by it was printed by a local bike club in 1896. That was, you know, almost two decades, maybe 15 years, at least, before the first car was sold in Portland, we had an established map that lists taverns, and everything, it’s got all the best routes, you know, the street I live on is almost right on that map in 1896, as a biking route. So yeah, and then that, that that same sort of grid, you know, was was further sort of, like, you know, solidified with the fact that we had a really strong streetcar network later than a lot of other cities did. And we never broke that grid. We’ve had a boundary around this city, in terms of how growth can happen. So a lot of the same progressive transportation stuff I talked about earlier. We also had very progressive land use policies and development policies. Something people around here is very, very proud of. And that meant, yes, that we had, for a long time, we had a grid of streets, relatively small blocks, you know, that means when I say a grid of streets, I mean you can get on a street and know it’s going to go across town without having to jog all around. So those things definitely helped. Helped or factored in to
Jonathan Maus 35:00
Making us sort of more of a bike city.
Jonathan Maus 35:04
Carlton Reid 35:07
yesterday, we had the IPCC
Carlton Reid 35:10
climate change report,
Carlton Reid 35:13
which has got to be heeded, one would hope, by world leaders. So you may have
Carlton Reid 35:23
thought that you’re not going to get that mode share till recently, but maybe with that report with Cop26, in Glasgow in November, with the world actually finally waking up to the fact that we have got to get rid of fossil fuel technology, electric cars, even if they came on stream, you know, in the next 20 to 30 years, and even if everybody went on to getting electric cars, which we know is pretty much a pipe dream anyway. But even if that didn’t happen, it still wouldn’t solve stuff. So we have got to change the way because we know transport is one of the you know, at least 25% of emissions is transport. And an awful lot of that is road transport. So are you now maybe more optimistic after news like yesterday that something could change? Or do you think people will absolutely bed down and the mode shares you’ve got now are pretty much the mode shares you’re gonna have in 20 years time?
Jonathan Maus 36:19
Yeah, I mean, it’s a mix, I am still optimistic that our mode change can tick back up, and we can, you know, kind of get back to that trajectory that I was so excited about back in the, you know, 2008, 2010 era. Absolutely, if I, if I wasn’t optimistic, it would be hard to continue doing bikeportland have gotta hold out some hope that we can get there. You know, and that gets back to part of the cultural mill you sort of Portland in Portlanders, is that there, there is a tremendous, deep will of activism here in people that, you know, don’t necessarily tune out in situations like this, but they turn out, they go out into the street, they form groups, they join activists in organisations and stuff like that. So I think the climate report is going to hit everybody, you know, everybody’s going to be solid for a few days here and figure out what they’re going to do. But I think ultimately, it’s going to, it’s going to definitely increase urgency of the pressure on local leaders to do stuff. And we’re getting close there. I think, you know, unfortunately, Portland has, in a lot of ways forgotten about cycling, it’s kind of a big thing that’s happened for the last decade, for various reasons, that, you know, the whole conversation around why Portland is sort of forgotten about cycling. But I think you know, it’s going to come back, you can’t keep it down. Cycling is it’s everybody has a bike in their garage here. They’re just waiting to use it, they’re waiting to dust it off and be given the chance to do it in a safe way, in a convenient way. And that’s not that’s not going to change, those bikes aren’t going to vanish. So people love doing love biking here, it’s always been a bike city, and always will be. But it’s going to take some shifts, right, we’re gonna have to not just keep striping, you know, unpainted unprotected bike lanes, while we continue to make driving as easy as it is and easier. We’ve got to actually, you know, do more stuff to discourage driving, which I think the city is doing and the region’s doing, they’re just not doing it fast enough. I think that’s the big new tension is the pace of change. You know, if I’m a politician, I could list off a tonne of things that I’m doing on to to make transport, you know, burn less emissions, a huge, long list, that would sound great. Unfortunately, it’s not enough, right. So it’s about pace of change, and activists and people on the ground want it to happen a lot faster than any politician I’ve seen, really has been willing to stand up and, you know, deem it so, so that
Carlton Reid 38:42
Hold that thought, if you’re if if I was gonna make you, the transport Commissioner, whatever the role would be that would knock heads together and would change. You know, somehow I was able to just know, maybe President Biden comes along and says right cities, you’re going to have to appoint
Carlton Reid 39:00
really good, green minded transport commissioners next week. And you amazingly, were freed because of what the things we’re going to talk about soon. To become that transport Commissioner, you weren’t able to do stuff you were able to boost bikeshare important. How would you do it? Give me your one, 5, 10 year plans, please?
Jonathan Maus 39:24
Well, I think I mean, there’s a lot of things. I mean, you know, there’s got to be a way to sort of up the speed with which we do projects we’ve already agreed to. If you’re talking about one year, five year 10 year, you know, we’ve got a lot the city has a lot of great projects in the pipeline that just are taking too long to get out onto the street for various reasons. And I think by political fiat, someone should be able to stand up and say, okay, whatever paperwork, you know, being problematic, whatever permitting is being problematic. We need to up the urgency on this new bike path or on this new road redesign because of climate change because this is urgent because it’s an emergency. So right there. You
Jonathan Maus 40:00
You could quit, you could speed up a lot of things were already doing. I mean, the other big thing is, you know, stop waiting for super expensive big capital projects and just do quicker things with, you know, concrete barricades. And you can easily go out, what I would do is just do an audit of the central city, let’s say and some of the all the different town centre notes. So even out further away from the central city, audit, the bigger streets, everywhere, we don’t need the excess capacity for driving, of which there are dozens and hundreds of lane miles of just streets that we allow people to drive in that become de facto no go zones, if you’re on a bike, because you’re afraid, you could just stick those into a database, spit out a report. And then you go over to those streets, and you’ve got 1000s of concrete barriers, and you just start, start laying them out and you create mobility lanes, we have to get away from thinking of bike lanes, and, you know, transit, we need to make mobility lanes, in addition to transit lanes, but let’s say mobility lanes, where it’s people walking, it’s it’s scooters, and any other electric device that’s out there. Hoverboards, you know, one wheels, you know, self balancing, unicycles, electric bikes, bikes, there are so many new vehicle types that are just waiting to be used, that aren’t bikes and aren’t walking in our cars, we need to find space, so you you cordoned off a bunch of lane miles of road all around the city, with with concrete barriers, again, that’s a central right now the city is still painting, they’re still painting bike lanes with no protection, that those are useless, people will not use those. And or they put out plastic posts, which are almost useless, and people run into them. And they’re doing, they don’t look nice. And those don’t inspire people either. What inspires people is concrete, you need actual physical barriers. So if we created the whole network of those, and we were strategic about connecting residential areas to destination areas, you would see a massive amount of people get out and start riding. And once people start riding and walking and using their scooters, then you can just basically do whatever you want, because you have this sort of constituencies there. And then the politics changes, right, then you have a lot of people who are worried about taking space away from drivers, all that goes away. And we just we haven’t done those things. And I’m convinced if we even did one of them, if we did one physically protected, really convenient direct route from a major residential area to a major work and destination area, it would, it would just make advocating for the stuff so much easier, because I can guarantee that it would be flooded with people that weren’t driving, it would give everybody something to look at point to and say, See, that’s what we’ve been yelling and screaming about all these years. And that you the city have been so timid and so afraid to do for a long list of reasons, oh, your engineer sake, it doesn’t work. Oh, the drivers will be mad. Oh, the business associations were all these things, all those who melt away? And people go, Oh, I’m absolutely assured of that. And it’s frustrating that, you know that that still hasn’t happened. I mean, a lot of times, you know, I’m definitely I’m definitely a journalist and a media person first and foremost. But the every time I talk about this, I get so frustrated. And I just think Gosh, what maybe I should just go full, full bore into, you know, joining an advocacy crew for something because it makes me so mad. But I also think it’s important to have someone independent and have media so that so so that’s where I am.
Carlton Reid 40:12
Mmm, and let’s get on to that. But first of all, let’s go across to David, who will talk about our show sponsor, take it away, David.
David Bernstein 43:21
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a longtime loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is they’re on believable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors, and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.
Carlton Reid 44:46
Thanks, David. And we are back with Jonathan Maus, and Jonathan is now going to talk about I’m gonna ask him about the good news that he told his his newsletter recipients last week.
Carlton Reid 45:00
So Jonathan you’ve had an investment.
Jonathan Maus 45:02
Okay, yeah, 16 years in, and I’ve got my first seed funding. So funny. But yeah, so I got, I guess I basically sold part of bikeportland. So through all these years, I basically made this thing survive with smoke and mirrors, it’s never really afforded me the ability to pay myself much at all, or, you know, do any of the stuff like have retirement or any kind of health insurance or that sort of thing. So, finally, you know, I had someone in the community step up after I made a mention of an enewsletter, about how I wanted to invest in some new things to do video and other other things, but I couldn’t afford the equipment. So somebody long story short, stepped up and said, hey, how much do you How much do you need, and this is a wonderful person, that community who wants to support media that they think is pushing for the stuff they believe in, in this case, the person is, you know, really, like, like we said before, wants to, wants to take that, that that line up of, you know, fighting climate change, and getting more people to bike and, and all that stuff. So this person wanted to invest in by Portland, because, hey, they know that operations like like bikeportland, basically can’t survive otherwise. And it’s true. You know, without this investor,
Jonathan Maus 46:14
I don’t know if I would even be talking to you today. I mean, it gets, in some ways, it gets better and more exciting and easier to keep going every year, because you’ve been around so long. But in but in other ways, and other real sort of real life ways. It became harder and harder for me to justify, basically my life’s work without, without enough compensation, without enough financial security, and without enough ability to build it into what I want to build it to. I mean, when I was going back and forth with my investor, all he was doing was talking about things I wanted to do for the site. And at one point, I remember, you know, I think you mentioned something and basically was kind of trying to needle me a little bit and say, I think there’s something else here. And I and I was honest, and said, there is something else there. And that’s the fact that you know, I need to get a raise, and I need to make sure that my family can can breathe a little easier, and that my wife doesn’t have to be, you know, wondering what the hell I’m doing all the time, you know, devoting so much of my life to this to this work. So that’s part of it, too. And so now it’s up. Now that’s the fun part, fun and hard part had sort of a honeymoon of being excited about it. That’s, that’s already blown over. I’m actually now I’m in the phase of really trying to build and trying to do right, by that investment and take Bike Portland sort of to its next next chapters.
Carlton Reid 47:35
So that investor is Mike Perham.
Jonathan Maus 47:39
Yeah, so So. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 47:41
So he’s made his money from software development. And I looked on it on Twitter, you’ve got called Sidekick means the things I don’t know about, but I’m sure people who are into into certain types of software know what Sidekick is, I think he was saying he’s just got his 100 millionth download. Yeah. So he’s, he’s was he he appears to be from his life profile. He appears to be like a transportation cyclist. Yeah. So he’s, he was basically a reader of yours?
Jonathan Maus 48:08
Yeah, Mike’s been a reader for a while he’s, he’s funded the site in the past, you know, he would, he was he was a person who I kind of knew from Twitter, and I just seen his name and email or two. And then he would, he would send a cheque in just randomly out of the blue, you know, pretty sizable cheque. And I always do a double take and be like, wow, this Mike guy really loves the site. This is fantastic. Let me send them, you send them a postcard say thank you.
Jonathan Maus 48:30
And so we really, you know, we really aligned. I mean, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t work with just any investor, for sure. And but you know, Mike, he was just sort of perfect. I mean, we really aligned. He’s an open source software person, he, he never got into the software biz to make a tonne of money. He did it because he loved it. And he wanted to help people do things. And it just so happens that, you know, some of the software he wrote was very, very useful to a number of people. And it’s been it’s valuable. So there you go, he made enough money now where he wants to help help the things that he that he loves. And yeah, I’ll, I’ll never forget when he just said to me, you know, he knew he knows that. He knows what Bike Portland is going through. He’s also a newsie. He’s a news junkie. And he understands that, you know, for instance, in America, well, even even where you live, Carlton, there are a lot of people that fund the media. And depending on who has the most money, a lot of times that media is going to be stronger, it’s going to be able to spread its message more in America, we have a huge problem with that, you know, disinformation and media that’s very partisan. And Mike intentionally wanted to put money into media for that reason, because he knows without without his help, bikeportland couldn’t survive, because there’s just no model for for what bikeportland does. It doesn’t make sense financially. And I’ve I’ve certainly felt that that’s one of the reasons why I was getting to a point of very high stress because all of our advertising is gone. You know, that that’s all goes to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook or or, you know, wherever local businesses are putting their money these days, they’re not spending money on bikeportland like they used to, and so we’ve had to rely on
Jonathan Maus 50:00
individuales subscribers, which is great. But that’s if you want to build a business. And you don’t have the ability to have 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of subscribers, which is kind of a chicken and egg. I mean, people want to see really great content and really, really amazing things from the media provider in order for them to subscribe, but you can’t create that stuff unless you have a lot of money to have reporters. And, you know, so it’s chicken and egg. So, you know, I couldn’t rely just on our great subscribers. So something had to give and take it was Mike, it was Mike. Mike had to get so yeah.
Carlton Reid 50:30
Is Mike hands on or hands off?
Jonathan Maus 50:32
Mike is hands off Absolutely. You know, we we talked, we talked really carefully about that. He he he doesn’t have any, there’s no return technically, right that he has to get, he does own a share of the bike of the pedal town media stuff, which is our parent company, he does own a share of the company. But there’s no sort of like, you know, number that he has to get back technically, in order to you know, where he’s going to pull out kind of thing. So
Jonathan Maus 50:59
he wants to see change happen. He trusts me, because he knows Bike Portland, and he knows what I’ve been putting into it all these years. And we’re just gonna have to see, you know, where that goes to see does he re up. And you know, the next when the year comes up, I’ve already had a conversation with another investor that you know, Mike and I’ve talked about, so someone else after they saw the news about the bikeportland getting an equity investment, someone else in the community stepped up and said, Hey, I’m interested. So I’ve been talking to that person. So it’s, it’s a different, it’s a different era for bikeportland. Now I’m trying to, I’m talking to people to help with the site and do different things. I’ve hired someone to do to do some stuff. And I’ve got a freelance budget. And I’ve upped our game in some other ways. And it’s just going to be a continuation of that now, including the site redesign, despite Yes,
Jonathan Maus 51:48
although, that was another person who was a bit nervous, I probably was a really great web web person who’s who’s does all my tech stuff in my WordPress design. And I was able to email him and say, Hey, you don’t have to worry about the big upgrade and redesign now because we’re good for it.
Jonathan Maus 52:03
And then tell us about the hires than that you’ve made. So because it’s pretty I mean, when I was, you can hear my dog. Sorry, When, when, when I was last in Portland you had Michael was doing, like, reporting for you. So have you got somebody like Michael?
Carlton Reid 52:19
Not really, I have a different person. There’s nobody really like Michael, he’s moved on. Now. That’s gonna be the next person I’m going to be looking for. But what I’ve done is I’ve hired someone named Maritza Arango. She’s really fantastic. The first person I ended up hiring was someone to do like events. So events editor is the position and it’s someone who is, you know, making sure our calendar, our events calendar is full with all the penalties, events, and all the other things that are going on. Because I think a Community Calendar is a real value add that, like Portland can provide. This is a calendar that has, you know, everything on and not just bike rides, but advocacy meetings and everything. So that’s one of her main tasks. But Maritza has also been doing like some social media stuff, and she’s helping me with some of the design things. So yeah, I’m just trying to hire you know, smart people that can that can add value to the site and take some load off me and thinking about everything and having to do everything on my own. But the next hire, I think the big one that’s really going to change the game is going to be more of like an editor position, someone who can be a reporter who knows the issue pretty well, who can go out, get a story, talk to people, you know, do do real reporting. I mean, that’s, that’s always been sort of the bread and butter in some ways of bikeportland is that we can actually do real reporting, that that compares that and competes and compares with the local, the other local media outlets, you know, for our topic for these mobility, and transportation topics. So, you know, when I can find someone like that, if I can find someone like that, that’s going to be huge, because that takes as you know, doing reporting, and doing it right and meeting people’s expectations, which after 16 years are really, really high, Bike Portland really can’t make mistakes. And Bike Portland, you know, people just expect a certain depth, but it’s increasingly difficult to deliver on that depth. If it’s just me, because you know, my, I have a million other things, I need to do that with the site and managing things. So the ability to you know, talk to five sources for an article and, and take a day or two to write something which you know, for most reporters, they’ll take a week probably to do a story if not longer, but my average is probably an hour or two. So that doesn’t really, that doesn’t really work. When when you have the committee looking at you saying, Hey, we really want to, you know, change the narrative, we need you to hold this group accountable. And this agency accountable, that takes work and it’s going to take finding someone and paying them a good rate to keep them around. So once Lincoln have someone like that, it’s going to really, really up our game and change things a lot.
Carlton Reid 54:35
So when you’re talking about some of the things that you think you were doing there, I was thinking like the UK context, and that is we’ve got like, advocacy organisations like in Cambridge cycling campaign, for instance, would be the second biggest campaigning org in the UK and then you’ve got the London cycling campaign again. So it’s all of the things that you’re doing will be coalesced
Carlton Reid 55:00
To bodies with with a reasonable number of volunteers for a start, and then paid staff members, both those organisations have got paid staff members. And it’s like an advocate. They don’t need a Jonathan Maus to hold them together. You know, they they kind of exist above and beyond, you know, a person. So is that something that you think
Carlton Reid 55:29
bikeportland can grow into?
Carlton Reid 55:30
I’m not saying for any second that you’re going to be disappearing, and going away, but just is that written is it needs if this is going to continue in 50 years time? It needs to be not just you?
Jonathan Maus 55:43
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I definitely see that that’s what I want to for not just reasons of my own, you know, mental and physical health, but, um, because of who I am, I mean, I’m a white middle aged homeowner, got, you know, I’m just like this classic person who has sort of, you know, controlled and handled things for a long time. And that is really limiting. That puts up some red flags for me in terms of like, what’s like Portland’s perspective? How do we make decisions about what we cover and how we cover? And that’s limiting? So that’s another big reason why I do actually want to not be as involved. And yeah, it would be great if I could, you know, right now I have my eyes really on you’re 20. I’ve always, I’ve always been this way I was I was really looking forward to your 10. We had a big party, it was a real momentous thing. We launched I think we launched our subscription programme at 10. I forgetting now. But anyway, we all have always had these milestones and 10 was a huge one for me, we got there and we push through 15 was not quite as exciting just because it’s not as round of a number. But the 20 year mark is going to be or I should say, 2020, you know, the 20 year mark of doing this, which would be I guess, 2025. So your 20 is going to be a big thing for me. And I’m really already looking at that as saying, okay, that’s when everything is going to be in the vision that I have right now in terms of what bikeportland is, and I hope by that time, I’m definitely just like, you know, this old codger in the background, who’s, you know, maybe writing an opinion every now and again, or blasting some agency, but I’d love to just see it, you know, being great and happening, you know, without me at that point.
Carlton Reid 57:11
Like a Mark Sani type figure, if anybody who doesn’t know Mark Sani, he’s like the guy that co founded bicycle retailer, the trade magazine in the US, and now just write a grumpy old column in the back
Jonathan Maus 57:22
or do something else. I mean, there’s so many other things to do, you know, I’ve got I’ve got my kids and my family and stuff. I’ve never just have not given enough attention to compare to this this work. So you know, that’s another that’s another big part of it. I’ll have probably grandkids by then. So.
Carlton Reid 57:37
So in year 20, which is four years away, is that right? Yeah. How old would you be?
Jonathan Maus 57:45
Oh, let’s see. I’d be 50 years old.
Carlton Reid 57:48
Oh, that’s a big milestone. So that’s like a 50. And a.
Jonathan Maus 57:52
Carlton Reid 57:53
okay. Yeah, I can I can see why.
Jonathan Maus 57:55
- Yeah, it just hit me as I said that, too. So shoot, I’ve got I’ve got for four years now to really get this thing dialled in. So the clock is ticking.
Carlton Reid 58:06
That’s cool. So tell us about apart from the hire that you made, and maybe the changes cuz you’ve got a podcast now. So your your competition all of a sudden. So tell us about the podcast? what’s what’s going to be on the podcast? How often is going to come out? What are you doing?
Jonathan Maus 58:24
Yeah, so the Bike Portland podcast, we actually had one back in, I believe, is 2015 2016, you know, couple dozen episodes. When I had Michael Anderson and Lillian Karabaic, another friend was producing it. For us. It was It was great. I thought we had a good podcast, but they moved on. And kind of the story bikeportland is I didn’t have sort of the money and the ability to keep them around and sort of pay them. So they moved on to doing other great things. And I just had to let the podcast just, you know, phase out. So here I am trying to restarting it. So last month, I restarted it back on my own. And in the meantime, of course, there’s lots of new tools. And the sort of delivery methods of podcasts have gotten a lot easier and better. And everybody’s doing it, of course now. So I relaunched it. And it’s been really great. I’m starting out by just interviewing folks in the community that I think are interesting, or have something important that needs to be shared. But that’s not where I see it going. I’d like to say do it much more often. I’d love to do it once a week. At this point, I’m probably maybe twice a month, hopefully. But what I want to see it evolve into is more of a news oriented podcast and less of a just interview podcast. And again, I don’t see myself as necessarily having to be the host. I’ve already talked to Maritza. She may do one. She’s from Bogota. She’s a native Spanish speaker. So I was hoping that she could maybe interview someone in Spanish. So it’s open to anybody that works for bikeportland. So it won’t always be me doing interviews. I kind of started with that just because it was comfortable and sort of easy for me to just talk to people and record it. But this news podcast is something I’ve really been thinking about a lot in terms of a vision where I want to share original audio, think of it like, I don’t know if you watch I mean, it’s more not necessarily a BBC style, more of like more of one of the cable news shows and in America like maybe Rachel Maddow
Jonathan Maus 1:00:00
Or something where, let’s say I would do an intro, but then I would share audio of like a local press conference or other local newsmaker saying something in a meeting meeting. And then I could, you know, comment, comment on that, and then maybe bring in a guest of recent news, and we would talk about that. So it’d be something that was definitely more relevant in terms of its timeliness, like something that happened a day or two, before we could record something, and the podcast would be more of a news podcast with no more analysis is something that just happened, that to me would be really the ultimate dream. And, and I think that really reflects kind of like some of my visions for bikeportland. In general, I mean, right now, with the amount of tools and how easy they are to use, and just the sort of digital publishing, you know, continuing revolution, all these 15 years, it’s so exciting, because I don’t think it would be that difficult for bikeportland to do, you know, live reporting, you know, remote broadcasts from places or, or even just, you know, turning around news stories and doing video of them. I mean, all that stuff’s really not that far away, it’s pretty close for even an outfit like bikeportland, with our extremely limited budget to do, once you have sort of that minimal equipment buy in, and you got enough skilled people to do it. I mean, you know, with Instagram, live, Facebook Live, right, all these different places to, you know, use our YouTube channel has about, you know, I think around four or 500 subscribers now. So that’s another channel for us, we can put that stuff out there, you know. So that’s what’s exciting to me right now about Bike Portland is that we’ve spent 16 years building all these different platforms. And now there’s the equipment and sort of ease of producing this kind of content, I think is improved so much. And it’s so exciting. Now, we seem to go out there and get the news and figure out how to package it in a way that’s really interesting and compelling and different, and sort of continues to like meet and exceed what people expect from bikeportland. If we do that, I think it can be a super exciting next couple of years.
Carlton Reid 1:01:48
And one of the strengths you’ve always had has been your fantastic photography. So I’ve always been impressed by the photographs you have on your site, and not just the photographs, but also like the galleries of photographs, you’re not just having one, you know, killer photograph, you can then dig down and get loads of photographs.
Jonathan Maus 1:02:05
I appreciate that. Thanks. Um, I mean that that was an intentional thing. I mean, I realised from an early, early, early time, and by Portland, that photographs was something that I can compete on, right, my Portland could actually compete with anyone on photography, I won’t say anyone sorry. I, you know, Reuters, and, you know, AP photographs and war zones, obviously. I mean, I’m still like, you know, sort of an amateur. But for the most part on the topic that we were, that we cared about in the community that bikeportland covers, we had images that impressed people and excited people. And I knew because I’ve been on the internet a very long time, and I understand how the internet works. If you do that kind of content, you have to impress people, people have to look at your stuff and go, Oh, that’s, that’s better. And I know that that’s different. That’s no one’s doing that. And no one was doing the type of photography of bike culture that bikeportland was doing when we first started doing it, right. So that was like an intentional thing that I realised, wow, this is how we can sort of stand and get people’s respect, and have people consider us as a real authoritative, you know, place for news. And that’s Yeah, now I’m trying to basically replicate what I did with still photographs I’m trying to do in audio content, whether it’s a podcast or otherwise, I’m trying to do that with video I’m trying to make, you know, news videos and other videos are helpful to the same level that we did our photographs so that people are impressed by them. And I think, you know, if, if I was able to do that, it’s gonna be pretty fantastic. We’re gonna keep people around. And as you know, the competitive environment online is extreme. It’s nothing like it was when I started when bikeportland started, we were really the only game in town on this topic. I mean, if you want to cool pictures of bike culture, and bike news and stuff, like be counted by Portland, that’s also why a lot of businesses gave us money to advertise, which they don’t know. And the competitive environments a lot different. Now everybody’s got their, you know, social media feeds with a lot of great content. So you’ve really got to, you’ve really got to bring it and that was kind of part of my pitch to to my to any investor, including Mike was like, Hey, you know, we’re competing with people’s established social media networks, where they’re seeing amazing videos and photographs from all their friends. How are we going to differentiate and add value to the community? If we don’t have great equipment, great reporters, super smart people on the cutting edge of what’s going on, we’re gonna have to deliver that to keep people around. And, you know, by pointless nothing if there’s no people around. So that’s what we do.
Carlton Reid 1:04:23
Jonathan, that’s been fascinating. Thanks very much. At this point in the show, I normally say, you know, where can people get in touch with you? What what’s, you know, websites, and we’ve been talking about that throughout the show. Is there anything where we could we could I mean, maybe your personal because you’re on Twitter as in your personal capacity as well as bikeportland. Yeah, so yeah, so this gives a bit give us a few places where they can get get your stuff.
Jonathan Maus 1:04:49
Well, people can most of the most personal stuff I do is on I was on twitter at @Jonathan_mas. So Jonathan underscore maus on Twitter is a good place
Jonathan Maus 1:05:00
to find some of my my stuff and it’s not personal, I don’t do a lot of dogs and family stuff. I do kind of keep it to the topic even on there. So I don’t do a lot of personal stuff online. I don’t do really Facebook or Instagram much personally because I don’t know it’s kind of like the cobbler, you know, has the worst cobblers family has the worst shoes, you know, like I’m on line all day. And so I don’t feel like doing that on my personal level.
Jonathan Maus 1:05:22
That’s the way to find me.
Carlton Reid 1:05:25
Thanks to Jonathan Maus there. And thanks to you for listening to the Spokesmen cycling podcast, show notes and more can be found on the-spokesmen.com. Our next show is a half hour chat with the founders of the upscale LeBlanq joy rides. That will be with you next week. But meanwhile, get out and ride
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