Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on November 9th, 2009 at 5:08 pm
“We ask that an immediate analysis, reevaluation and reallocation of transportation dollars spent by the City of Portland become an action item in this Plan.”
— The Bicycle Transportation Alliance, in a letter to PBOT
In their official comments on the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) says the City is not doing enough to realize bicycling’s potential. The BTA is also calling for several “near-term benchmarks” to keep the City on task before 2030.
In a letter to the Plan’s project manager Ellen Vanderslice, BTA Executive Director Scott Bricker and BTA Board Member Jim Middaugh write that in the fifteen years since the previous Bicycle Master Plan was adopted in 1996, the City “has not demonstrated a sufficient commitment to bicycling investments nor to making the fundamental shift required to make bicycling a realistic travel option for all.”
Bricker says Portland has the potential to be a world-class bicycling city, but that, “At current investment levels Portland will never realize the vision and potential described in the draft plan and will achieve only few of the objectives endorsed by the community at large and the City Council itself.”
Also in the letter, the BTA lists specific comments and proposals they want to see put into the plan. As we mentioned in a story last Friday, the BTA wants the plan to have more near-term benchmarks instead of the 20-plus year horizon of 2030. Specific benchmarks proposed by the BTA are:
- 130 miles by 2013: Installation of all “Tier One” projects listed in the plan.
- Two Trails by 2020: Completion of both the Sullivan’s Gulch and North Portland Greenway Trails, which are mention in the plan as “Tier Two” priorities.
- 20% by 2015: 20% of all trips made by bike by 2015 (the Plan currently calls for a 25% mode split by 2030).
- Four Times Safer by 2014: By 2014, the crash rate for people bicycling in Portland will be one quarter what it is today (based on a rolling 5-year average).
Another criticism the BTA has of of the current Plan is that the language used is too passive and that the Plan itself — not the City — is too often cited as the body to take the actions. For instance, at the end of each part of the Master Plan PBOT lists a series of what they refer to as “Recommendations”. The BTA wants them to change that word to “Plans”.
The BTA also recommends the City delete labels referring to people as either “bicyclists”, “pedestrians”, or “drivers”, saying these labels are “already out-of-date today” and that their use in the Plan “wrongly gives Portlanders the impression that one group of people (“bicyclists”) stands to benefit from its implementation at the expense of another.”
As for funding, the BTA wants PBOT to reflect in the plan that all discussion of funding for bicycle projects not new sources of funding. Instead, they call on the City to re-allocate existing transportation funding “based on the City’s existing and new policies, including the Green Transportation Hierarchy.”
“We ask that an immediate analysis, reevaluation and reallocation of transportation dollars spent by the City of Portland become an action item in this Plan. If the City is always waiting to make incredibly modest investments in green transportation until it has “enough” funding to do so, we could easily wait until 2030 and beyond.”
It will be interesting to see how/if the City responds to these comments by the BTA. And, whether the BTA will follow-up this letter with a campaign to help turn their comments into reality.
The official public comment period for the Bicycle Plan ended yesterday and the Plan is slated for a hearing at City Council on January 20th.
Download the letter and a summary of the BTA’s comments on the Bicycle Plan here (PDF).