Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 28th, 2009 at 1:48 pm
(Photo: Mikael Colville-Andersen)
Beginning with a welcome reception at a downtown brewery tomorrow, Metro will host a European delegation as part of their Transatlantic Active Transportation Workshop. The four-day event is just the latest example of bicycle-related knowledge sharing between experts from America and Europe.
Portland has been sending city planners and engineers to cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam since at least 2005 (when I first mentioned it here on BikePortland). Since then, there have been several other trips with similar goals.
And Portland politicians, bureaucrats, and planners aren't the only ones who have realized the value of studying cities where bicycling is actually a viable option to the car for a majority of residents.
Back in May, an unlikely trio of sponsors -- the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the National Cooperate Highway Research Program (considered the evil "highway lobby" by many) -- paid for a study trip to five countries in Europe. In the delegation were staffers from those agencies, along with planners, advocates and researchers. The goal was to scan what leading European cities were doing to encourage and facilitate biking and walking. Their findings and recommendations from a preliminary report were nothing less than a revelation. They recommended implementation of separated facilities (like cycle tracks), bike-specific traffic signals, aggressive encouragement programs, and so on. (City of Portland's bike coordinator Roger Geller called it "very encouraging". Download a draft summary report of that trip here - 1.5mb PDF)
This past August, national non-profit Bikes Belong launched their Bicycling Design Best Practices Project and hired a Harvard urban planning grad to oversee it. The goal, according to Bikes Belong, is to take as many Americans to Europe as possible, with the intent to, "improve U.S. bicycling infrastructure by encouraging the implementation of innovative, successful models of bike facility design, engineering and promotion — many of them developed in northern Europe."
But the U.S./European bike knowledge sharing trend is far from one-way street.
After a PBOT staffer connected with two bike planners from Utrecht during this year's Velo-City Conference in Brussels, he invited them to be special guests at the recent Safe Routes to School National Conference in Portland.
In late October, organizers of the Oregon Manifest event will host "An Evening Honoring the Danish Embassy," with Copenhagen's bike blogger and ambassador Mikael Colville-Andersen and Mayor Sam Adams.
Metro's workshop which starts tomorrow evening and runs through this Friday, will host five delegates for a full schedule of discussions, luncheons, and hands-on tours. The focus of the workshop is to glean perspectives and expertise on active transportation projects, and learn from the delegates about how to create a region with cities where bicycles make up 30% of all trips taken.
Focus areas for the workshop include Lake Oswego, Clackamas, Beaverton, and Portland. The delegation will also be in attendance at Wednesday night's David Byrne event at the Bagdad Theater.
Metro's Transatlantic Active Transportation Workshop
Sept. 30 through Oct. 2
Full schedule at OregonMetro.gov
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