Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 22nd, 2010 at 11:43 am
and Kinnaman in Aloha.
Portland might be 0-2 in getting a major bike project funded through the Obama Administration's TIGER grant program, but there's reason to be excited on a regional level. Like I mentioned yesterday, the Aloha-Reedville area in Washington County won a $2 million grant to help them embark on a comprehensive "livable community" planning effort.
At a press conference announcing the grant yesterday, Washington County Commission Chair Tom Brian said the planning grant will help "create a sense of place." Brian also told the crowd that, unlike the surrounding cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, the Aloha-Reedville area is "more declining than ascending" in terms of economics and household income transportation and food choices, school test scores, and so on. The grant is needed because Aloha-Reedville is unincorporated, which means there are constraints on how much resources Washington County can direct to the area.
Here's a summary of the project (taken from a five-page summary you can download here):
"The Aloha Reedville project will examine how existing conditions, community aspirations and emerging urban service and planning opportunities provide prospects for fulfilling regional sustainability objectives.
The project will also develop strategies for housing, redevelopment, corridors and town centers, and transportation for the Aloha-Reedville area that promote livability and sustainability, with a focus on affordable housing and addressing inequities in access to local opportunities and resources."
Let's take a closer look at the bicycling and transportation parts of the project.
One of the Obama Administration's key aspects of supporting livability is to provide transportation choices. The project summary states that the plan will develop streetscape improvements "that will create opportunities for safer and more enjoyable bike and pedestrian travel..."
More specifically, the plan will create a list of "top tier bicycle and pedestrian improvements... based on usefulness for connecting neighborhoods with local destinations (including bus stops & MAX stations)". Reaching communities that have been historically marginalized in terms of civic participation is a major goal of this project. As such, the stated objectives include an investigation of "culturally-sensitive design elements that encourage comfortable walking and bicycling among traditionally underrepresented groups."
This will be a very interesting project to watch unfold because it touches on several questions that always come up in local transportation planning conversations. How do you create a useful bike network in a suburban area? How do you reach people in lower-income communities? Will they embrace bicycling once facilities exist? How can bikeways be effectively integrated with transit and housing?
To learn more about the project, download a five-page summary here (PDF).