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It’s official; Governor will look to expand Oregon Bike Bill [Updated]

Posted by on December 4th, 2008 at 5:44 pm

When it becomes a bill in front of state lawmakers in January, Governor Kulongoski’s Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009 will include language to expand the Oregon bike bill (ORS 366.514) and put into law a requirement for the Oregon Department of Transportation to spend at least 1.5 percent of its funding for highway projects on bike and pedestrian improvements — that’s a .5 percent increase from the existing law.

The expansion of the Bike Bill was not in the Governor’s original version of the plan, Governor’s plan was first introduced to lawmakers on November 10th.

[Update, 12/5: The Governor’s office has informed us that the above paragraph is not accurate. While the increase is not mentioned in the summary of the bill their office released it was included in the bill drafting instructions that were provided to legislators and the increase to the Bike Bill was discussed in the Legislative Hearing.]

The confirmation of this comes in a directive from the Governor’s office to legislative counsel (the body in Salem that drafts bills) that was obtained by BikePortland reporter Libby Tucker during her research for her story, Hey Governor, what about bikes?

The existing law, which went into effect in 1971, puts ODOT’s requirement for bike and ped improvements at 1 percent of highway project spending.

Story continues below

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As Tucker reported Wednesday, 1 percent of ODOT’s currently proposed highway funding is about $6.2 million. With an increase to 1.5 percent that number would jump to $13.7 million in bike and pedestrian projects a year.

Here’s the language from the Governor’s “Bill Drafting Instructions…” document:

18. Increase the required minimum spending level for bicycle and pedestrian improvements within highway rights of way from 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent.

• Amend ORS 366.514 to require that ODOT, a county or a city may spend no less than 1.5 percent for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

It’s interesting to note that in the Portland region, ODOT typically spends much more than required 1% minimum on bike and ped facilities, so we shouldn’t expect to notice any difference locally.

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  • Peter W December 4, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    This is a welcome improvement, but really… after nearly 40 years of bicycle advocacy, an increase to only 1.5%?

    The ice caps are melting, and we’re throwing a measly amount of money at one of the few things that has any real chance of fixing that problem. The environment aside, “we shouldn’t expect to notice any difference locally.”

    This is a sad statement about the lack of environmental backbone of our democratic governor, as well as an unpleasant assessment of our ability as the “bike lobby” to win real and large scale victories.

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  • jeff s December 4, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    “1 percent of ODOT’s currently proposed highway funding is about $6.2 million. With an increase to 1.5 percent that number would jump to $13.7 million in bike and pedestrian projects a year.”

    That there new math don’t work fer me. Seems like it would go up to just $9.3 million, assuming the proposed budget is the same in both cases..? Please explain.

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  • Pete December 4, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    jeff s (#2): In the article this one follows up, Libby reports that the approximately $640M budget will increase about $499M, putting the 1% increase at about 5%, or a total bike/ped allocation of nearly $11M. My math puts the revised 1.5% chunk of the new $1B+ budget at $17M.

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  • Aaron December 4, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    I agree with Peter. This would have been impressive 10 years ago. But very little is going to be spent on highways in the future. It’s completely obvious that they’re obsolete. Jonathan, you reported two months ago that the transportation system is nearly broke. So are we going to get 1.5% of nothing? I do wonder what’s going to happen to our transportation system in the future.

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  • Opus the Poet December 4, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Well, I guess that’s good news. But as someone pointed out 1.5% of zilch is still zilch. And if the VMT continues to drop and people keep buying vehicles with high gas mileage then gas tax revenues will also continue to drop… it’s like having layoffs because the economy is tanking, which makes the economy tank faster because there are fewer people with money to buy stuff…

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  • Jebus December 5, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Since I bike 6 out of 7 days of the week, I would like to have my tax dollars pay for much more infrastructure than only 1.5% of PDOT’s budget…

    Yet, I also hope for a gas tax increase to help me kick my habit of driving my car (which takes premium)… I am glad though that I have been wishing I could get a raise at work so I could buy a new fixie for cyclocross instead of studded tires…

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  • matt picio December 5, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Technically, that’s not a .5% increase – it’s a “50% increase”, or a “.5 point increase to 1.5%”

    This is great news, but it’s not enough – it’s a good start. It really needs to be in the 3% to 5% range, and should be upped again the next legislative session.

    Bikes and peds aren’t the transportation of the past, they’re the transportation of the present. (and the future for most of us) Human-powered transportation is more efficient, has beneficial health side-effects, and is the only type of transportation which is socially equitable and easily accessible to the poor.

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  • Hart December 5, 2008 at 9:41 am

    The economy is the worst it’s been since the great depression. We’re lucky to get any increase at all. Quit whining.

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  • Joe December 5, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I hope they teach some drivers! to watch out for people. some still think driving is cool and the way to go.. disrespecting other modes.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 5, 2008 at 10:03 am

    “The economy is the worst it’s been since the great depression. We’re lucky to get any increase at all. Quit whining.”

    Folks. In my opinion, the bad economy is precisely why we need to make biking a better option for more people!

    Now is a great time to invest in projects and policies that promote biking because if more people bikes, our state would save millions of dollars annually.

    people would be healthier, they would cause less damage to our roads, they would have more money to spend in the local economy, etc…

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  • Dave December 5, 2008 at 10:14 am

    …not to mention the work on creating the infrastructure would also create jobs in engineering and construction…

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  • Hart December 5, 2008 at 11:12 am

    “Folks. In my opinion, the bad economy is precisely why we need to make biking a better option for more people!”

    I totally agree, our unsustainbable economy was based on the idea of limitless consumption. And we need to invest in more bikes, buses, lite rail.

    I’m just saying that this increase should applauded, not shot down as being too little too late. It’s never too late to rebuild our communities, and every little bit more money to that effect is a step in the right direction.

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  • Coyote December 5, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Jonathon (#10) be careful, moving faster than the other guy has become a commodity. If you are not traveling as fast as you can, then you are not consuming your share to sustain our economy. You risk being labeled as an anarchist, or worse. The neo-liberals will cast you from the gate for not believing that a continually expanding global economy is the only viable model.

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  • Joe December 5, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Editor)
    December 5th, 2008 10:03

    wow you just posted what i have been thinging after the ride home tonight.

    can we change old thought? old patterns?
    some you just can’t reach. today it was people were just driving to make a statement, my car is worth something.. more than a human life!

    we can change! i know it with time, soon the smell and the noise will go away..

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