RE: “Brick by Brick, ” [Feature, May 30], News Reporter Kelly Kenoyer’s story about adequately retrofitting Portland’s 1,650 unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs). These brick buildings, wrote Kenoyer, “are the most dangerous places to be in or near during an earthquake, as their building materials snap like a piece of chalk during seismic activity.” Citing high costs and the historic nature of their buildings, URM owners are pushing back on proposed measures to bring their structures up to current code.

As a lay person, it would seem if the intention is to make URMs safe, that means bringing them to code. Full stop.

Also, though most of the URMs in Portland may be old, it would seem a stretch to call them “historic.” Wow, this used to be a factory 100 years ago! One hundred years! No one was even alive then! To see these architecturally unremarkable and demonstrably unsafe structures referred to as “historic” seems less a marker of any sort of meaningful cultural history and more an excuse to not do anything.


To put saving “the look” of Portland over saving lives is beyond me. Obviously, it’s more complicated than that, but saving lives HAS to come first.

I do feel for the building owners. The city needs to help them finance the retrofitting. The current proposal is basically just for show, so the city can say they did “something.” But if it’s never been tested, it’s basically pointless. NOT ACCEPTABLE. Stop putting lives at risk.



RE: “You’re Riding Your Bike Wrong, ” [Feature, May 23], in which the hard-pedaling members of the Portland Mercury Bicycle Gang gave advice about how to bike in Portland—from the obvious (wear a helmet, ya dummy) to the less-than-obvious (learn Portland’s bike routes and don’t ride on sidewalks).

Goddammit, Portland Mercury Bicycle Gang, knock it off. Biking on sidewalks saves fucking lives, because on too many Portland streets, either (A) no bike facilities are provided in locations where riding in the street is a deadly prospect, or (B) the facilities provided fail to address the present threat (bike lanes in door zones, or adjacent to 30-plus MPH auto traffic, or, all too often, both). People of all ages, abilities, and experience levels choose to ride on sidewalks when their perception of danger requires it, and your ill-considered edict invalidates everyone’s right to make that choice without misplaced judgment, verbal harassment, or being shamed into making more dangerous choices that are against our self-preservation instincts.

Some anger-prone people in your audience are already primed to hate people on bikes by years of bikes-vs-cars media coverage, and your stupid “STAY OFF THE SIDEWALKS” admonition strikes the bullseye of their prejudices and falsely justifies their rage.

Everyone is entitled to choose the travel route and mode that seems least costly (in all ways) to them—grandparents, students, families, and even young, ableist writers of weak bullshit commentaries. “Stay off the sidewalks” is a faulty imperative that needs to be shitcanned.

Craig Harlow, just one more vulnerable roadway user who doesn’t want anyone to be targeted for rage by frustrated and misguided automobile operators

I enjoy biking and commuting, and have for 28 years. My family worries that I will get into an accident with a car. Nope—probably going to be with another cyclist, hate to say. Thank you for pointing out all the “wrong” things in your article. Loved it!

Might I add: Use the proper hand signal—the universal one, using your left hand, not your right hand. Motorists and cyclists behind you look for the left hand for signaling. Btw, your right hand is usually the dominant one and should never leave the handle bar. Thank you,


Rosecitysnowwhite, your advice is conscientious and considerate... just like your perfectly executed hand signals! We’re giving you the Mercury’s letter of the week and two passes to the Laurelhurst Theater—which, in addition to offering the very finest in new films, is centrally located for convenient bicycle access.


Our print version of Hall Monitor [News, May 30, 2018] erroneously stated that Portland is the first city to partner with a public housing agency to give water bill discounts to low-income renters in multi-unit housing. In fact, Portland is simply the first city to use this specific model to offer water bill discounts. The Mercury regrets the error.