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BTA asks for more in one-year review of 2030 Bike Plan

Posted by on March 4th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has released a one-year report on the City of Portland’s 2030 Bike Plan. In it, the non-profit group points out where PBOT has lived up to their lofty goals and where they need to do more.

The BTA commends PBOT for their work on expanding the Safe Routes to School program, developing low-stress bikeway projects, and in collaborating with the Bureau of Environmental Services to build infrastructure that serves both our biking and stormwater management goals.

But, in a section titled, “Next Steps,” the BTA points out that the City needs to do much more in order to accomplish the lofty goals set forth in the Bike Plan.

They want more neighborhood greenways and more bike lanes/cycle tracks, etc…

“If City Hall follows through on its commitment to build 15 miles of Neighborhood Greenways every year, some neighborhoods will still be without those facilities seventeen years from today… The BTA recommends the City build 25 miles of Neighborhood Greenways each year and 25 miles of separated in-roadway facilities.”

They want the City to launch a bike-sharing system…

“Bike sharing systems make bicycling an easy, convenient option for short-distance trips and create better connections to public transportation for more people.”

They want to see Safe Routes to School offered in every Portland school…

“Safe Routes to School is a vital program that should be in every school in the City, every single year”

They want Sunday Parkways every Sunday from May to October…

“The BTA believes the high participation rates show widespread support for increased Sunday Parkways, and that partnerships with businesses and community organizations can help establish sustainable funding.”

And they want more funding from PBOT for bike projects…

“The BTA would like to see a Bike Plan Finance Task Force established in the coming year… Roughly 5% of PBOT’s current five-year budget is allocated for bike projects and programs, yet 14% of all bridge crossings into downtown in 2010 were bicycles. The City should work to find adequate funding to build out the complete Bike Plan vision…”

These are all great things to ask for; but PBOT is far from a lone actor in this play. PBOT is overseen by Mayor Sam Adams and much of what the BTA asks for in their report (like almost everything that gets done in this town) will come down to politics. In order for bike projects, programs and funding to grow, the political atmosphere for bikes in this town must improve.

For better or for worse, Adams and his colleagues on City Council have to feel that the public will and political calculations add up for bikes before any bold new steps are taken. The BTA can help foster that by using their resources to create an effective local movement around bicycling. Also included in their one year Bike Plan report are several ways you can help them take action.

As we think about how to make 2011 even better for bikes in Portland, we’d be wise to keep Ross Perot’s great quote in mind: “The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.”

Check out the report for yourself via PDF.

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  • snolly March 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    “They want Sunday Parkways every Sunday from May to October…”

    -seems a bit overkill, and would water down the entire event. If the events didn’t require police to manually flag traffic and volunteers to direct riders, then it may be doable, but I just don’t see it.

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    • Steve B. March 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Tell that to the folks of Bogota, who enjoy ciclovias EVERY Sunday and from who Portland drew inpsiration from for its sunday parkways.

      The idea is to get folks exercising, recreating and socializing as much as possible. Weekly Sundway parkways would probably look and feel much different than what we have today, but it’s a laudable goal for Portland to set for itself.

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      • Spiffy March 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm

        exactly, I agree… it can be done with a much smaller budget… police are not required, people can become certified traffic flaggers for fairly cheap… and if we want the city to see cycling as mainstream then they need to see a lot of people happily doing it every week…

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        • Michweek March 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

          Sign me up to be a traffic flagger!!! That sounds like a lot of fun!

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  • matt picio March 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Politics means compromise – have to ask big to get what you’ll accept. If you start with where you want to be, someone else will bargain it down to a token effort.

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  • Roger Averbeck March 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    RE Sunday Parkways: Please note that there is still one coalition of 17 neighborhoods within the City of Portland that does not have a Sunday Parkways:

    Southwest Portland.

    Any discussion of expanding the program should include all geographic areas, before multiple events occur in other coalitions…

    We have willing volunteers to help plan the routes, we have parks suitable for the venues and we actually do have some low traffic streets that are not as steep as you imagine!

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    • Doug Sottoway March 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Yes! I believe there are many motivated riders/commuters in Southwest Portland. It seems neglected for bike improvements in general until recently.

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  • spare_wheel March 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    “… the political atmosphere for bikes in this town must improve.”

    The political atmosphere is a problem because our politicians cater to minorities with the most money and the loudest voices. Perhaps our politicians could just grow a pair.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

      I agree to some extent, but politics is a balance of gutsy politicians not afraid to lead and of people rising up and organizing to make their demands heard. Yes we need more gutsy politicians, but we also need more rising up.

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    • aaronf March 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      If politicians didn’t cater to the loudest minorities I doubt Sam Adams would be so pro-bike. That guy is a chameleon. Be careful what you wish for!

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      • spare_wheel March 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

        I recall polls showing that a majority of PDX citizens are in favor of funding for cycling and active transport. The local chamber of commerce…not so much.

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  • aaronf March 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    If the 2030 plan was to add 15 miles of Neighborhood Greenway every year, asking the plan to change to 25 miles doesn’t seem like it belongs in an assessment of how well the city has done so far in meeting the goals of the plan. Also, if we’re on track to have neighborhoods covered in 17 years (which is apparently problematic) we’d be all set in… 2028! Seems ok to me.

    I guess BTA wouldn’t be much of an advocacy group if they didn’t constantly want more than what they currently have, would they?

    The BTA admits that the city has done a good job with limited resources. Their stated issue is that Portland is falling behind our “peers” San Francisco, Minneapolis and NYC. I just don’t think building infrastructure is a contest… being named #1 by bicycle magazine isn’t much of a priority to me when the state is looking at laying off teachers.

    If infrastructure is needed, build it. But don’t build something just because New York did. The Portlandia statue isn’t as tall as the Statue of Liberty, either.

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  • BURR March 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Newsflash – the thousands of young people arriving from the midwest and northeast to ride their bikes in Portland each year mostly don’t care if the city builds any more infrastructure for cyclists or not.

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  • jim March 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    The BTA must think Portland has extra cash to spend, ugh- they don’t. Sam claimed to have an extra 23 million left over, he dosen’t. Read it in the oregonian

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