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Metro trail committee headed to Amsterdam, Copenhagen

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 19th, 2008 at 10:02 am

"The purpose is to increase our aspirations - to move from contentment at being the "best in the U.S." to the ambition of being truly world-class."
--Metro President David Bragdon

Members of a committee formed by Metro to focus on funding new biking and walking trails in the Portland region are packing their bags for a study trip to the world's two most bike-friendly cities -- Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Metro's Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails -- created as part of President David Bragdon's Connecting Green campaign -- has been meeting since early this spring in order to, "propose a funding strategy to complete the region's network of bicycle and walking trails."

Bragdon told me via email last night that they're taking the European study tour "to increase our aspirations," and "to to move from contentment at being the "best in the U.S." to the ambition of being truly world-class."

Bragdon added that both Amsterdam and Copenhagen have "tangible, practical examples of investments and engineering practices that make non-motorized transportation more feasible," and he wants the group to, "learn how they do it."

The list of attendees includes Bicycle Transportation Alliance chief Scott Bricker, Metro counilor Rex Burkholder, Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves, Washington County commissioner Dick Schouten, architect Rick Potestio, and others. The trip will take place from October 4th - 12th and will be funded by sponsorships and grants.

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  • Adam August 19, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Have fun and learn how we can make things better!

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  • peejay August 19, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Right now the big challenge is to get past this stupid idea that all bike improvements are at risk because of a reduction in gas tax revenue. It should be obvious to everyone that a greater bike mode share reduces the costs associated with road construction and upkeep, and thus all bike infrastructure costs should be sold as a way to save money. Unfortunately, CRC Sam does not get this, so we are doomed to continue scrambling for crumbs when it comes to funding.

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  • peejay August 19, 2008 at 10:34 am

    When I said that CRC Sam does not get this, what I meant is that he has made the political calculation that the concept (spending money on bikes is the best way to save money) is not worth supporting. Mr Adams has been a HUGE disappointment in this regard, because even though we know he understands these issues on some level, he has shown no leadership abilities, and no courage. Hold another press conference, Sam!

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  • Boo Boo August 19, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I\'d love to know what specific \"scholarships\" and \"grants\" are funding this junket? Seriously, I think it\'s great to learn more, but it also seems apparent that we know enough to make more improvements. We\'ve got a long way to go and can\'t possibly be out of projects or ideas that aren\'t implemented.

    Seriously, spend the thousands of dollars to travel to Europe once we have implemented all the projects that are still in the planning stage and not even funded!!!

    Sounds like Mike Erickson should be their chaperon.

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  • Natty August 19, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Just hope the don\'t fall in love with those bloody raised cycleways. I\'m not a big fan of separate bicycle infrastructure in most instances, but those were a dangerously bad idea.

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  • Icarus Falling August 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Maybe they should spend some time here talking to the people with experience on \"OUR\" streets, instead of flying overseas to dream....

    Sounds like simply an excuse to take big wigs on a fully funded vacation....

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  • BURR August 20, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    because the \'path\' people are in charge at PDOT and METRO, it means we\'re not likely to see a whole lot of other street improvements for cyclists, which is really too bad since paths are expensive to build and limited in their application, whereas the streets are already built and in use, and it\'s much more cost effective to improve the infrastructure we\'ve already got than it is to build a whole layer of new (and arguably unnecessary) infrastucture on top of it.

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  • Paul August 20, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Man, you guys seem to know everything.

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  • BURR August 21, 2008 at 10:56 am

    don\'t get me wrong, I love the Springwater trail and the East Side Esplanade, and wish they would finish the North Portland Greenway trail, the South Waterfront Trail and the Sullivan\'s Gulch Trail as soon as possible, but I don\'t think they are going to learn much in Europe about how to do this. However, besides the obvious trail routes along the rivers and other topographic features like Sullivan\'s Gulch, there aren\'t too many applications in the already gridded and developed inner city areas, where the existing roads provide the best bike routes possible.

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  • peejay August 21, 2008 at 11:06 am

    BURR:

    I fully agree!

    Trails and separated paths are great, but they\'re a small part of a fully integrated bike transportation network.

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  • Aaron August 21, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    I hope that Rex Burkholder learns a great deal on this trip. He wont see any large highway bridges in Amsterdam or Copenhagen. This would be an important lesson to learn.
    I wonder how much of the success within these cities is due to local governments\' pursuit of local funds or of their respective National governments\' showing an awareness of bicycle transportation (unlike ours).

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  • brettoo September 9, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Having ridden the separated paths in Holland, I disagree with the comments that there\'s little or nothing for our planners to learn or for Portland to gain. The fact remains that thanks primarily to the separated bike infrastructure, Amsterdam and Copenhagen have five or six times the bike usage that even Portland does. (Anyone who has the exact figures, please feel free to chime in.) And those cities (which like Portland are more compact than most American cities) added their bike infrastructure on top of an existing car-centric street system, producing the biking boom of the past 20-30 years there. Doesn\'t that sound very similar to our current situation?

    Also, I\'m no planner, but from what I saw, it\'s not just the separated paths that make the system work but also innovative traffic control signals and markings, coordination with mass transit and pedestrian travel, and other aspects worth studying in depth.

    If bike infrastructure ever gets the much higher proportionate share of the city/state/ national budget it deserves based on the percentage of Portlanders who bike, this trip might give us a plan for how to spend the money most effectively. Putting a concrete (sorry) plan out there might encourage the politicians to allocate the proper amount of money to bike infrastructure, since the goal will be more tangible than just \"bikes deserve more funding.\"

    I really admire what our innovative bike planners have managed to contrive (on a paltry budget) with bikeways, bike blvds, sharrows, etc. but the numbers , while still far better than other American cities, still show that we have much to learn from Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and a long way to go to reach their levels of bike friendliness. I hope this trip helps us get there.

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  • [...] Read more about this here and here and here. [...]

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  • [...] fall of 2009, as a member of Metro’s Executive Council for Active Transportation, he went on a study tour to learn more about bikeways in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Meet Dick Schouten at our Get Together [...]

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