Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 21st, 2010 at 10:58 am
[Publisher's note: This op-ed was written the staff and board of directors of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to kick off their new "Build It" campaign that was launched this morning in downtown Portland (stay tuned for more coverage).]
For years the momentum has been growing. There have been more bikes on the road, more representation at city hall and in Salem. And from all walks of life, there has been a growing movement of cyclists. Or more specifically, people who ride bikes. For the last two years, the City of Portland has been crafting their Bike Master Plan, which would point the way to increased facilities and funding for cycling. We came together once as a community when the plan itself was at risk. But now, the plan is up for a vote, and we are poised for a major victory in the national cycling movement.
That's right. A national victory.
"Today the BTA has a simple message for the leaders of our city with regards to the Bike Master Plan: Build it."
For all the talk of world class facilities, Portland may be one of the best in the United States, but it pales in comparison to that of European nations. We celebrated when we achieved Platinum, but for many of us this was just a milestone on the road to greater things. Portland is great, but it is far from world class. If we were world class we would have people from 8 years old to 80 years old all feeling safe and comfortable riding wherever they wanted to go.
If we had world class facilities, it would make more sense to ride a bike than it would to drive a car in most cases. If we had a world class system of bikeways, a visitor would be able to fly into PDX, rent a bike, jump on the MAX, and instantly feel comfortable hitting the streets of downtown Portland.
There isn’t a single city in the United States that qualifies as world class. And with the 100 year dominance of the automobile, some wonder if it can ever be done. Well, we are at the precipice of an answer to that question, and it comes down to a single city council vote February 4th.
Can we prove that just one American city can muster the political will to transform itself? Advocates for bikes and livability in Boulder, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, and New York are watching.
We think that the answer is yes.
To date, the conversation around cycling has been built on the assumption that building for bikes means taking away from someone else. But building a world class bike network doesn't mean designing a system with more conflict with cars or freight. It means designing a system with less conflict. And with better facilities for bikes comes safer streets for our kids, healthier citizens, and a stronger economy. The benefits of cycling affect everyone in Portland, not just cyclists. Today the BTA has a simple message for the leaders of our city with regards to the Bike Master Plan:
And today we ask you to add your voice to the chorus of people advocating on behalf of bikes, and to be frank, if there has been one time in the BTA’s history when we needed your direct support, now is the time. The Portland Bike Master Plan is the single best opportunity to improve the conditions for cycling in Portland. 600 miles of new bikeways. Stronger bike policies. Increased bike parking and funding for bike facilities.
Here is what we need you to do:
2. CALL CITY HALL
3. EMAIL CITY HALL
4. SUPPORT THE BIKE MASTER PLAN ON FACEBOOK
5. SUPPORT THE BIKE MASTER PLAN ON TWITTER
6. COME TO THE RALLY
Visit portlandbikenetwork.org to join us in our campaign. We want you to voice your support, and we want you to help us build a coalition of citizens supporting the plan. Together we will get it built.
The BTA Board and Staff