Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on August 12th, 2009 at 11:39 am
Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you bits and pieces of Portland’s forthcoming Bicycle Master Plan for 2030. The plan is being updated for the first time since 1995 and it will contain many important bicycle policy guidelines (and more) that will eventually be folded into Portland’s Transportation System Plan.
The plan is slated for public comment very soon and it will likely be in front of City Council toward the end of October. I’ve been reading through an internal rough draft and thought I’d share a bit of it with you.
Part One of the plan lays out PBOT’s vision of “A World-Class Bicycling City”. In addition to making the case for why the city should invest in bicycling, it explains the process of updating the plan, describes the latest thinking on “the nature of bicycling” and it explains PBOT’s “framework for bicycling policy”.
Part One is also a glimpse into the City’s latest thinking about bicycles. Here’s an excerpt from a section titled, “The road to Portland’s future.”
“The road to Portland’s future will include many, many bicycles…. The cost may be modest compared to the dizzying costs of other transportation investments, but the benefits will be enormous.
We have the opportunity to make Portland an even better place. Bicycle transportation is an important part of our future.”
While much of this is prosaic, what’s exciting about the bicycle master plan is how it leaves no stone unturned in telling the bicycle story. Take, for instance, the section on “The nature of bicycling”.
This section discusses larger context issues like how bicycles requires so much less space than cars (that can then be used for parks, commerce, and so on) and then there’s this:
“The bicycle is also liberating and provides a psychological freedom that motorists and transit riders do not enjoy. The psychic benefit of autonomous travel comes with the physiological benefits from cycling exercise.”
Now that’s not something I think you’d expect in a wonky planning document.
Other interesting bits in Part One include a section on bicycles as vehicles. This section explains in detail how bicycles are different than cars. What PBOT, and the committee they’ve formed to help write the plan, are doing is to thoroughly explain their rationale behind wanting to build the next generation of bikeway infrastructure. For instance,
“Bicycles are powered by muscle, are unstable at slow speeds and have hardly any suspension. Any bicycle-friendly road design should keep these properties in mind in order to keep energy losses to a minimum.”
Part One also includes a chapter on how the City wants to approach bicycle policy. The big item in this section is the “Overarching Policy” statement about bicycle planning. This key statement will become an important rallying point for bike-related planning decisions. The overarching policy in the current bicycle master plan is:
“Make the bicycle an integral part of daily life in Portland, particularly for trips of less than five miles, by implementing a bikeway network, providing end-of-trip facilities, improving bicycle/transit integration, encouraging bicycle use, and making bicycling safer.”
In the draft plan, the new statement is much shorter and sweeter:
“Create conditions that make bicycling more attractive than driving for trips of three miles or less.”
I think that’s a big improvement. More direct and more concise. I also like how it zeroes in on making bikes a better option than cars — which will be essential in reaching the bike usage numbers PBOT hopes for in the future.
Part Two of the plan is titled, “The Bicycle Network”. We’ll delve into that in the next few days.