Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on September 18th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
Green Lane Project event earlier this week.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The ways people talk about active transportation seems to be changing in Portland, both inside and outside of government.
At a unanimous City Council vote Wednesday in favor of $20.7 million in federally backed walking and biking improvements throughout the city, including $9.1 million to enact parts of the East Portland in Motion plan and $6.6 million for what promises to be a historic upgrade of central Portland bike facilities, people on both sides of the council dais were repeating an idea that isn’t always common: Improving biking improves the city for people who don’t.
Leading the shift: new Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, who echoed and rephrased some of the observations we shared from his speech two nights before.
“It should be obvious to everybody that the freight improvements are connected to economic development,” Novick said Wednesday, referring to $4.1 million dedicated to efficient truck movement. “But the things that make it easier to walk and bike are economic investments. … There’s a couple of ways to improve your family’s economic position. One is to make more money, and one is to reduce your expenses. Active transportation investments help people reduce their expenses.”
The city said it would match $22.2 million in federal flexible funds, which would be awarded by regional agency Metro, with $2.6 million in local money for a total of $24.8 million in freight and active transportation projects. Full details are on the city’s website.
Novick also noted that more comfortable sidewalks, street crossings and bike lanes help businesses by cutting their health care costs.
“It’s obvious to people that when people bike, they’re healthier,” Novick said. “They’re also healthier when they have access to transit … because they’re walking.”