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BTA launches five new campaigns at annual members’ meeting

Posted by on August 15th, 2014 at 9:07 am

wide angle
Attendees of the BTA’s annual member meeting Thursday evening had plenty to talk about.
(Photos by Michael Andersen)

With “The Revolution will Not Be Televised” playing from portable speakers above them, almost 100 Bicycle Transportation Alliance members and staff gathered in the Portland Art Museum courtyard Thursday to drink Hopworks beer, eat food-cart tacos, recognize key volunteers and (most intriguingly) learn about the five major advocacy campaigns the organization had just launched.

The BTA’s goal is “to make not just Portland but the Portland metropolitan region the best place to bike in the country,” Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said.

sadowsky
BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky.

The five simultaneous campaigns — for infrastructure in east Portland, inner Northeast, downtown Portland and Washington County and for metro-area funding of Safe Routes To School instruction — are products of four months of strategizing by BTA staff, Sadowsky said.

The fundamental change in Portland’s bike-infrastructure progress a few years ago, Sadowsky said in an interview, is that “federal money dried up.” The BTA’s campaigns look to a combination of federal, state, local and metro-area funding sources to pay for four pieces of sophisticated bike infrastructure, all of them designed to appeal to people who are “interested but concerned” about the safety and comfort of bike transportation.

One, probably the lowest-cost at about $2,290.000 in all, would be a set of 12 miles of mostly east-west neighborhood greenways, east of Interstate 205, connecting neighborhoods to the Green Line MAX and 205 bike path.

east portland neighborhood greenways
The Parkrose, Knott/Russell, Woodland Park, Holladay/Oregon/Pacific and 4M (Market, Mill, Millmain, Main) routes identified in the 2011 East Portland Action Plan but not yet funded.

Another would be an attractive 2.5-mile protected bike lane between the Hollywood neighborhood and Broadway Bridge, along Broadway or perhaps Broadway and Weidler.

broadway
This rendering, prepared last year, was labeled as “one option of many” to “start the conversation” about NE Broadway.

The third project would be one of four possible north-south protected bike lane couplets through downtown: 4th/Broadway; 2nd/3rd; 5th/6th (using traffic diverters to replace the car lanes on the transit mall with bike-only lanes); and the Park Blocks. Members voted for their route preference. (BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky, who is leading this campaign, said he was unabashedly making the case for 4th/Broadway because it would connect to existing routes and destinations north and south.)

This project is already funded by Portland City Council to the tune of $6.6 million, but Kransky said it would still face a mix of political opposition and support before being installed. He said part of the BTA’s goal is to ensure that as much of the money as possible will be dedicated to infrastructure rather than just planning.

downtown PBL routes

The fourth project, by far the biggest in scope, would be a combination of protected bike lanes or off-street trail segments alongside 16 miles of the Tualatin Valley Highway through Washington County.

tv highway map

The BTA’s fifth campaign focuses on education and culture rather than infrastructure: it would allow a new metro-area tax to pay for in-school bike safety education.

There’s a lot more to write about all of these concepts, of course. Next week on BikePortland, we’ll be devoting one post to each of these to learn a little more about their possible benefits, the hurdles to getting them approved, the risks along the way and the BTA’s strategy for getting each of them approved.


Thursday’s meeting was also, of course, a fun get-together for friends, acquaintances and allies. Here are some more photos and conversations from the event:

randy miller I think
BTA board member Randy Miller, who said BTA members “represent the ethos of Portland” not just in their biking but in their civic engagement.
chris achterman
BTA board member Chris Achterman, left.
carl larson
Advocate Carl Larson discussing N/NE Broadway (and its differences with the nearby neighborhood greenway on Tillamook).
lee younglove
Lee Younglove.

BTA member Lee Younglove was one of many attendees who said he was attending the member’s meeting for the first time.

“This year, I decided to pull away from other things and focus more on this,” he said. “It’s fun and there’s a lot of young, energetic forward-thinking enthusiasm. … The more I walk or bike around Portland, the more I realize how glad I am to have chosen to keep living here.”

chris redhair
Volunteer Chris Delaney was recognized for going door-to-door to start organizing Northeast Broadway businesses in support of bike infrastructure.
jocelyn orr
Jocelyn Orr, left, another key volunteer.
sheilah
Ryan Howard of the Newberg City Council, who is running for state Senate, was recognized as a volunteer by education director Sheilagh Griffin.
lisa frank
The BTA hired Lisa Frank late last year as a full-time advocate in Washington County.
elizabeth pedal pt
Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky discussing downtown Portland.
chilton
Cynthia Chilton.

BTA member Cynthia Chilton said she supports the organization greatly but was one of a few members who brought up a discussion this week in the BikePortland comments section about the possibility of creating a second, more confrontational advocacy organization to complement the BTA.

Chilton’s view on that organization differed somewhat from the one I’ve heard others talking about. She thinks a second organization would be likely to focus on vehicular cycling, the philosophy that bike traffic should be treated like auto traffic rather than separated from it, whereas the BTA would focus on increasing biking among the “interested but concerned.”

“It’s not about being in your face all the time,” she said. “It’s not about Critical Mass. But sometimes people need to get in your face.”

safe routes
At the table for each campaign, members could sign their names to get engaged in the effort.
elizabeth pedal pt
Full-time East Portland advocate Elizabeth Quiroz discusses neighborhood greenways with Kevin Schmidt of Pedal PT.

Correction 3:40 pm: An earlier version of this post gave an incorrect estimate of the cost of the east Portland neighborhood greenway plan. Also, it incorrectly identified a song that was playing and misidentified the role of Chris Achterman on the BTA’s board.


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Comments
  • Adam H. August 15, 2014 at 10:00 am

    All these projects will be great for riding a bike if they get built. I’m most excited about the protected bike lanes on N/NE Broadway, but am concerned that the renderings are “one of many options”. I fear that this project may get watered down, so the BTA really needs to step up and stand their ground. We need world-class bikeways, not lowest-common-denominator try-to-make-everyone-happy solutions.

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    • maccoinnich August 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      I would love to see that design implemented on NE Broadway. It’s surprisingly difficult to get from the Broadway Bridge to the heart of the Hollywood district by bike without out-of-direction travel. Of course, the area where this would easiest to implement is west of 24th, where there are already (substandard) bike lanes. East of 24th, there’s no obvious solution that wouldn’t spark a huge amount of controversy from the Oregon Live types. Of course, there is a freeway they can use pretty nearby….

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      • Reza August 15, 2014 at 1:53 pm

        Anything east of 24th will likely require parking or travel lane removal in order to fit a protected bikeway. I suspect it may be politically easier to remove the parking, given that an extension of streetcar to Hollywood is in the books and having only one travel lane in each direction would be an operations nightmare.

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      • John Liu August 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        Bridge to Weidler, jog on 24th to Broadway, puts you straight into Hollywood. I ride that 2-3X every week in the afternoons. Easy as pie.

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        • maccoinnich August 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm

          Well, that’s great you, but you can’t seriously be suggesting that the “interested but concerned” demographic mentioned above would be comfortable riding on Broadway between 24th and Hollywood? Or on NE Weidler as it approaches MLK? I’m a pretty confident cyclist, and I find it very unpleasant at best.

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  • tedder42 August 15, 2014 at 10:02 am

    No mention of the comotion bike raffle winner :(

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  • Jayson August 15, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I’m most excited about a serious separated N/S bikeway through downtown. Although I have no difficulty biking in the middle of a downtown street, I sometimes find it stressful, especially in traffic and during special events. I also think protected bikeways will offer the best experience for visitors and less confident bikers to get around. Finally, I think it will be the most heavily utilized.

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    • Adam H. August 15, 2014 at 10:11 am

      A separated bike lane downtown would be great. I feel fairly safe riding downtown by taking a lane, and people driving are usually courteous and careful. A protected bike lane would always be better though – especially if it connects directly to the Broadway Bridge. Plus, being downtown, it would get more visibility.

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    • El Biciclero August 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

      “I have no difficulty biking in the middle of a downtown street…”

      As long as you don’t mind having the option to ride in the street taken away, a protected bikeway would be great. Realize, though, that you will be at the mercy of visitors and less confident bikers to set your pace.

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      • Chris I August 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

        Oh, please. If they take a 10ft vehicle lane and convert it to a bi-directional bikeway, you don’t think you will have enough room to pass someone? You must hate the Hawthorne Bridge this time of year.

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        • Joseph E August 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm

          The plan should be a unidirectional, 8 to 10 foot wide bikeway. That is enough room for 2 bikes with trailers or 2 cargo bikes to pass.

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        • Champs August 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm

          I do hate the Hawthorne Bridge this time of year. Had a wonderful experience where a drunk tourist with the line-holding discipline of an unaccompanied four year old at a carnival veered and almost knocked me onto the steel deck.

          For what it’s worth, this summer’s yahoos have mostly migrated to the Broadway. Most of them are riding bikes. How do so many people manage to go the wrong way on it?

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    • 99th Monkey August 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      The 5thSt/6thSt option of putting diverters to “encourage” autos to leave the Transit Mall, making it safer for bicycle traffic WAS an option during the original design process of it but was never submitted for public comment as Portland Bureau of Transportation decided it would not be acceptable to all but a small minority.

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  • John R August 15, 2014 at 10:38 am

    “Almost 100″ is not roaring.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

      thanks for the feedback John R.

      The headline referred to the vibe from the BTA, not necessarily from the crowd.

      I also decided to edit the headline fwiw.

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      • John R August 15, 2014 at 11:36 am

        Thanks. Great that they had a good meeting, think this is more balanced. As always, appreciate the work you do.

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    • bArbaroo August 18, 2014 at 5:43 pm

      The members meetings have always been fairly small, so 100 is a fairly well-attended event as this one goes.

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  • dan August 15, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Jayson
    I also think protected bikeways will offer the best experience for visitors and less confident bikers to get around.
    Recommended 1

    Yes to protected bikeways for visitors, maybe it will keep them from riding on the sidewalks / salmoning the parking lane . Seriously, I’d like to see the downtown bike rental shops spend 5 minutes explaining how to ride in downtown before turning people loose. A protected bikeway would be a nice addition and make things easier.

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  • kiel johnson August 15, 2014 at 11:22 am

    sad to see no mention of Barbur, regardless of what other people might think it was a victory to get ODOT to study installing a road diet, something they have never even considered. I think that this victory should be celebrated.

    When that study wraps up shortly there will need to be a all guns blazing effort to address the results of the study.

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    • Carl (BTA) August 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

      The campaigns launched last night are relatively new but Barbur (like Monroe in Milwaukie) is something we’ve worked on for a while and are continuing to work on. Right now we’re encouraging ODOT to do counts once school starts up again so that there are no reasons to discount the data used for the study. We’re lucky to have you as a partner in making Barbur safer.

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    • rick August 17, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      Barbur needs sidewalks from SW Capitol Hill Road by the all-new Safeway down to Bertha Blvd.

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  • Buzz August 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

    We need BOTH types of projects, protected bike lanes where financially and technically feasible, and other types of on-road infrastructure where protected bike lanes are not feasible – sharrows and/or standard bike lanes.

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    • spare_wheel August 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Yes!

      Let’s also start painting some door zone free bike lanes (or sharrows) as an interim solution on the many commercial streets that are used by cyclists but lack any appreciable infrastructure.

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  • maccoinnich August 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Longer term, I would like to see “all of the above” for cycling downtown, maybe with the exception of changing the transit mall. So the question is which should we prioritize? The Draft West Quadrant plan was published yesterday, and it seems that the city is making the Green Loop through the central city one of its priorities for the 20 years from 2015. The portion along the South and North Park Blocks is a 2-5 year implementation action. Connecting the North Park Blocks to the Broadway bridge is a 6-20 implementation action (presumably because of the amount of time it will take to redevelop the USPS parcel). Even still, the portion of the Green Loop between NW Hoyt and SW Jackson would have a lot of independent utility. How we can make this happen in a timeframe closer to 2 years rather than 5 years?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Reza August 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      The Burnside connection will be tough. Several signals are likely needed along the route to get across busy streets and those can be very expensive. Think how long it’s taken for us to get the 5 new signals at 13/Everett, 13/Glisan, Broadway/Couch, 10/Couch, and 11/Couch, all of which were needed several years ago.

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  • Garlynn August 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    >BTA member Cynthia Chilton said she supports the organization greatly but was >one of a few members who brought up a discussion this week in the BikePortland >comments section about the possibility of creating a second, more >confrontational advocacy organization to complement the BTA.

    >Chilton’s view on that organization differed somewhat from the one I’ve heard >others talking about. She thinks a second organization would be likely to focus on >vehicular cycling, the philosophy that bike traffic should be treated like auto >traffic rather than separated from it, whereas the BTA would focus on increasing >biking among the “interested but concerned.”

    Seems like there may be a misconception out there that I would like to quickly correct:

    I asked the other folks involved thus far on the email list for the new organization (working title is currently BikeLoudPDX), and nobody thus far has expressed any interest in advocating for the vehicular cycling point of view.

    On the contrary, folks are interested in advocating for the creation of world-class cycling infrastructure that will serve everyone, including the interested but concerned, including cycle tracks, off-street paths, bike lanes, bike boulevards with effective diverters placed often, etc.

    Hopefully, this helps to clear things up.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Reza August 15, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I’m solidly in the 4th camp. It’s the only northbound street that connects I-405 to NW Glisan and is already heavily used by bicyclists. 2nd is unfortunately cut off south of Market and also doesn’t connect to Glisan at the north end. I personally use 10th a lot when 4th is a parking lot, which involves using the streetcar tracks on Mill to cut through the Park Blocks.

    How would a 5th/6th option work if cyclists wanted to turn right? Or would right turns remain forbidden? Before the transit mall redesign, cars were only allowed on 2 out of every 3 blocks on the mall, instead of the continuous lane they get today. I think the change was made in response to businesses on the street that complained about not getting enough pass-through traffic.

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    • Adam H. August 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Why would a business want people to be able to drive past them without being able to park?

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      • Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm

        The transit mall was for a long time underinvested and underinhabited — those auto diverters Reza mentions were closed during the nadir of urban life in the 1970s and early 80s. Maybe that’s what left a bad taste in the mouths of landlords and major tenants along the transit mall. Ever noticed that Macy’s has no entrance facing 6th? That’s no coincidence. They refused to. And their turning a block-long brick wall to the street just made it worse, of course.

        In 2010, I interviewed retailers along the transit mall (see the last page of this PDF) and more than half of them said that through auto traffic is pointless without the ability to park. But the clearest dissenting voice was the biggest fish I talked to: the general manager of the Hilton. Though I don’t fully understand his incentives, they’re different than those of the foot-traffic-focused small retailers. As for the small retailers’ landlords, my guess is that they attribute the increase in value since the mall opened to the streets’ current configuration and would be all the more adamant against closing it to cars at this point, logic be damned. Just my guess, though.

        One more thought: I drive on the mall occasionally. I regret it every single time. It’s a wretched place to drive! The only people who use it are fools who don’t drive much downtown (like me).

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  • Alan 1.0 August 15, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    The BTA’s goal is “to make not just Portland but the Portland metropolitan region the best place to bike in the country,” Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said.

    Like!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Dwaine Dibbly August 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Nothing about closing the park blocks to motor vehicles?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

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