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Cities — including Portland — will vie for spot in "Green Lane Project"

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 3rd, 2012 at 11:01 am

Later today, the application period opens for the "Green Lane Project," a promising new initiative funded by national advocacy org Bikes Belong.

The project's aim is to help build "world-class cycling networks" in a select group of U.S. cities that are "poised to make significant progress over the next two years in installing cycle tracks and related improvements." To spur the development of high-quality bikeways, Bikes Belong will funnel 70% of their annual grant budget (about $140,000) and provide technical assistance and other resources to the selected cities (study trips are scheduled for Denmark, New York City, and the Netherlands). Cities that are chosen will sign a contract with Bikes Belong committing themselves to the partnership.

Only six cities will be chosen to participate, and you can bet the competition will be fierce.

"We have had conversations with Portland transportation folks and the mayor's office, and look forward to a strong application from the City of Portland."
— Martha Roskowski, Green Lane Project

In order to be selected, Bikes Belong says a city must "have a plan or vision that is supported by elected officials, leading staff, and the community." It's also not just about which city is #1 when it comes to biking. The team behind the project says the cities chosen will range from "known leaders" to ones that are "just embarking on making space for bikes."

Will Portland get a spot on this train? We're certainly a "known leader," but we've stalled when it comes to building world-class urban bikeways. Also, with a new Mayor and new City Commissioners set to take the helm, we need all the momentum and support we can get.

I haven't heard back from Mayor Adams' office or sources at PBOT, but Green Lane Project director Martha Roskowski says they've had conversations with them and that she's, "looking forward to a strong application from the City of Portland."

BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky says his organization is "excited about the potential" of Portland becoming one of the focus cities. "The BTA strongly urges the City to get on board," he shared via email this morning. "We need leadership at the local level, now more than ever, to showcase the changes that safe protected bicycle lanes bring to cities."

Other cities sure to vie for a spot will be Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York City and Minneapolis.

Roskowski says they'll make decisions by the end of March. Learn more about the project on the official website and watch the video below...

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  • Andrew Seger February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Part of me hopes Portland doesn't get this. It's not enough money to build a whole lot of cycle track and our political leadership already pats itself on the back far too often instead of being bold and pushing for new facilities. As you've pointed out we all know what better separated facilities look like. Have any of our transportation planners not been to the Netherlands or Denmark? What we need is leadership that will take away either travel lanes or on street parking to make room for better bike facilities.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 3, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Hey Andrew,

      I share some of your ambivalence, but I think being a part of this would be a good thing. Yes, our engineers know how the Dutch do it; but remember that Mayor Adams (who has also seen a lot of Euro bike stuff first hand) is leaving and we'll need the new Mayor to really get this stuff.

      The money part of this isn't that big of a deal (although, with paint and bollards you can do a lot with a few thousand dollars)... What might be a bigger deal is the internal competition and collaboration among the cities. If PBOT engineers and local leaders go to NYC, or Chicago and see/hear/learn first hand how they are doing big things with urban bikeways, it might help inspire them to do more stuff here.

      But yeah, we all know that projects like this aren't what's stopping us and other cities from moving forward. The biggest barrier IMO is the political will to do things differently. Who knows, perhaps this project will include some lobbying too.

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  • Rob Sadowsky February 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    My understanding is that the project comes with no infrastructure funding, only some small funding communications and marketing support.

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  • Jacob Mason February 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I still don't understand why Portland has been so hesitant to embrace protected bike lanes. Maybe it's because the city is way less congested than NYC or Chicago, so double parking and aggressive driving are less common concerns. Maybe it is a west-coast "don't box me into a lane" mentality. Whatever it is, the big cities are catching up fast. Portland's status as the best biking city in the US may not last for too much longer, especially given what NYC and Chicago are up to. Hopefully, this shift will wake up Portland's engineers and politicians, showing them what needs to be done to keep Portland moving forward.

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