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As big bike investments loom, the debate goes on: Which neighborhoods need most?

Posted by on August 4th, 2015 at 9:58 am

SW Portland bikeways-2
Southwest Portland’s bikeways need huge work. But is that work more important than improving areas that have immediate ridership potential?
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The debate is familiar. But lately, we’ve been hearing an interesting twist to this story: there might actually be a way to resolve it.

Portland is getting ready for a burst of its biggest biking investments in years, and it’s prompted a creative proposal for confronting one of the stickiest issues in local politics.

The city is preparing to put $6 million toward its first high-quality downtown bike lane network. Next year, a $5.2 million upgrade of Foster Road will make that highway-style street much safer to walk, bike and drive on between SE 52nd and SE 90th. Another $4.2 million will create a 130s Greenway; another greenway running east from Gateway Transit Center; and bike facilities on Division Street as far east as 130th. The $2.4 million 20s Bikeway Project is being built piece by piece.

As those investments (all of them set in motion during the Sam Adams administration but followed through on by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick) get close to reality, they’re leading naturally to maybe the most fundamental dilemma in Portland biking.

How much should we spend to make good neighborhoods great, and how much should we spend to make bad neighborhoods decent?

Portland’s eternal question

Bike traffic on NW Broadway-20
With so many people already riding NW Broadway, modest investments could deliver a big payoff. But is any further investment in central Portland justifiable?

Similar questions came to a point last week when car2go said it was about to cut service to east-central Portland and St. Johns. And last month, we heard the latest hint of the discussion as it relates to bikes.

It came in a brief exchange on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud program. Host Dave Miller had two guests, Roberta Robles of BikeLoudPDX and Art Pearce of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. They had this to say:

Roberta Robles: Focusing in on downtown — while it’s helpful, we need infrastructure facilities out in northeast Portland as well. Downtown is great and all, but these outer burbs, they need help getting to the grocery store, getting to their schools.

Art Pearce: I totally agree. Foster Road is a $5.2 million project that’s coming up into design next year. East Portland Active Transportation to Transit, $4.2 million starts next year. We’re starting an East Portland Fund, $9 million. There’s a whole number of projects that are happening in Portland as well. The Central City project is just one piece of a larger package of investments the city is making.

Note that the two aren’t disagreeing. Both say that improvements are needed in all parts of the city. But they’re both acknowledging how hard it is to balance two different values:

  • improving downtown streets, which would probably result in a bigger jump to Portland’s bike-commuting rate
  • improving further-out streets, which would probably have a benefit to more people who get around without cars

The debate is familiar. But lately, we’ve been hearing an interesting twist to this story: there might actually be a way to resolve it.

The approach comes from another field that Portlanders tend to think about a lot: public transportation.

The ridership-coverage tradeoff

East Portland street scenes-5
122nd Avenue.

It’s best described by Jarrett Walker, a transit writer and consultant who grew up in Portland and lives here today. He calls it the ridership-coverage tradeoff.

Here is Walker’s key principle: you cannot simultaneously prioritize ridership on a transportation system and the expansion of that transportation system to serve all areas.

In the world of buses: You could spend $1 million a year to make the No. 6 bus come every 5 minutes, and you’d get lots of new ridership. Or you could spend $1 million a year to provide weekend and late-night bus service every 30 minutes to parts of Sherwood, Estacada and Forest Grove, and you’d be serving a relatively small number of people who would benefit greatly from the service.

When Walker advises public transit agencies on how to divvy up their money, he tells their leaders this: make a choice. Choose a percentage of any new money that will go toward maximizing coverage and a percentage that will go toward maximizing ridership.

Michelle Poyourow, a longtime Portland bicycling advocate who works as a senior planner for Jarrett Walker and Associates, said Portland’s bicycle network choices face the same tradeoff.

“You spend a million dollars on a bikeway, and you get thousands and thousands of people using it in one place,” she said. “You spend a million dollars on a bikeway in another place and you get hundreds of people using it. Which is the right place? Well, it depends on whether you value ridership or coverage. There’s no correct answer to that question.”

‘A resilient plan doesn’t just say yes to everyone’

A Sunday ride-3
NE Tillamook Street.

Jessica Roberts, a Portland-based principal at Alta Planning + Design who follows Walker’s work, suggested during a public forum last fall that Portland could defuse some of the endless debate between these two values by setting a percentage — maybe 70-30, or maybe 50-50 — to allocate new spending on its biking network.

“Because we have nothing more than the change behind the couch cushions to work on bike projects, I think we’re seeing a lot of tension between I guess what you might call equity-based arguments and people who want to see us direct our resources to the parts of our city where we already have people biking,” Roberts said in an interview. “You’re both right! … You don’t really have to choose only one or only the other, but it behooves transit agencies and especially transit agency boards to have a really explicit conversation about why they run their transit system, what their goals and objectives are.

PBOT Lunch and Learn panel-2
Jessica Roberts, right, says Portland bikeway planners
could take a page from transit planning.

“I can’t help but wonder if a similar conversation can’t happen in the bikeway realm,” Roberts said.

Poyourow and Roberts acknowledged that the usual assumptions of mass transit — that service to dense, walkable parts of a city will usually tend to have the most ridership payoff — might be more complicated when it comes to bicycling.

But both consultants said it’d be useful for Portland’s biking policymakers to start thinking explicitly about the two opposing values.

Oregon Active Transportation Summit-22
Michelle Poyourow, right, says the approach helps
transit agencies make decisions less haphazardly.

“That is an idea that Jarrett developed after years and years of working with transit agencies and … after watching them get beat up no matter what they did, he said here’s a way that electeds and public officials can give really clear guidance to staff,” Poyourow said. “The first step to that conversation is admitting that those goals are in conflict, not trying to tell people that you can be everything to everyone. … A resilient plan doesn’t just say yes to everyone.”

After all, Roberts said, the choices between these tradeoffs are being made today — just not systematically.

“We negotiate these tradeoffs whether we do it in a smart informed high-level way or in really dirty politics,” Roberts said. “These decisions get made, and they will even if we have more money. so I guess the question is, is the way we’re making these decisions the best way to align our investments with our goals? Probably not. Would a ridership vs. coverage high-level conversation help? I don’t know. But it would be an experiment worth trying.”

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136 Comments
  • ethan August 4, 2015 at 10:06 am

    We should be improving the bike network everywhere!

    But PBOT is so spineless, even the low hanging fruit is too hard for them.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Please let us know where this ‘low hanging fruit’ is so we can push PBOT to address it.
      And while you’re at it, can you define ‘low hanging’. It might mean something different to you than anyone else.

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      • rick August 4, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        The low-hanging fruit would be an effective trails policy so that non-profits and others can build simple, clean trails on many of the unbuilt, public right-of-ways in Portland. Many of those trails can be used by bikes due to the slope and decent drainage.

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        • Rebecca August 4, 2015 at 3:13 pm

          You mean like Community-Initiated Trails? I think they’re working on that. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/66082

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          • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:15 am

            It’s being driven by NIMBYs. The trails were already being built without the policy.

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      • ethan August 4, 2015 at 3:26 pm

        Here are some examples of “low hanging fruit.” NE Holladay – it could easily be made into a two-way protected bike thing. There’s only 1 driveway on that road, and it already has access from another side.

        NE 15th – it would only take the removal of on-street parking

        N Williams – Remove “mixing zone,” auto parking on the left side (replace with bike and cargo bike parking) and ban left turns at all intersections (except for places where the bus turns left. In those places, add a specific light just for the buses – like the streetcar).

        E 28th – Remove all auto access. Make it bike and emergency vehicle only. Double the width of the sidewalks. Add loading zones and handicap parking on major cross streets

        SE Clinton – Diverters

        SE Ladd – Yield signs

        These are some examples of very low hanging fruit that can and should happen if PBOT had any spine at all. There’s no reason for cars on 28th. There’s no buses there, so it’s the perfect route for bikes and people only. Drivers can simply go around. NE 15th has cars that have been parked for over 9 months. N Williams was a bad re-design. Clinton and other parts in SE desperately need diversion.

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        • daisy August 4, 2015 at 6:41 pm

          How could you ban all left turns from North Williams? Seems like that would dump a ton of traffic into the neighborhood just to the east, where we’re trying to make sure Rodney stays quiet. How would people get to, for example, North Mississippi?

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          • ethan August 5, 2015 at 8:08 am

            By taking MLK if you’re driving. Or by taking Mississippi street. It’s not that hard to plan around and would make everything a million times safer.

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        • soren August 5, 2015 at 10:05 am

          there is no need to ban all left turns. left turns could be signalized for bikes. one cheap and easy way to do this would be to use a leading interval for bikes/peds.

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          • ethan August 5, 2015 at 10:20 am

            I meant ban all left turns for drivers. Bikes should still be able to turn left. Having a left-turn phase in a predominantly straight-only “mixing zone” bike path is not a good idea.

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            • soren August 5, 2015 at 11:47 am

              i understood and agree. (my interested but concerned partner refuses to ride on williams now due to the mixing zones.)

              nevertheless, there are some intersections where removing left turns would be very difficult. leading bike intervals would allow the removal of mixing areas and creation of largely conflict-free separate phases.

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              • ethan August 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm

                Can you let me know which intersections you think would be difficult and how the left turns would work? I’m not able to imagine that, without having an advanced stop lane in the bike lane, and without making traffic on either side come to a standstill.

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  • rick August 4, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Why not ODOT’s highways? That is where many deaths and bloodshed take place. Just take Powell, TV Highway, BH Highway, and 99 W this year alone. It is time the outer parts of the metro area get an overhaul.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Opinion, or can you point us to evidence?

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      • rick August 4, 2015 at 2:48 pm

        3 pedestrians have died on TV Highway so far in 2015.

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        • Chris I August 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm

          TV HWY is a travesty. A perfect example of a deadly “stroad”.

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          • rick August 4, 2015 at 3:01 pm

            I saw 6 cars fail to yield to the crossing pedestrian at approximately 6:30 PM yesterday and he had the green light. So much auto debris in the bike lanes, too.

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          • Dan August 4, 2015 at 6:19 pm

            Just wait until it’s wider!

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    • barbLin August 5, 2015 at 12:17 pm

      Bike count please! How many people daily use Powell for more than a few blocks or ride on TV Highway? It seems obvious to me that we put the best facilities where the most riders are – but not in downtown, they’ve had enough toys already. Not everyone works or goes downtown. To get a large number of non-riders to become riders you need primo faciltiies in the neighborhoods, connecting amenities like parks, schools and shopping areas.

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  • 9watts August 4, 2015 at 10:09 am

    “How much should we spend to make good neighborhoods great, and how much should we spend to make bad neighborhoods decent?”

    Funny, I’ve never heard anyone say: How much should we spend to upgrade the bridges on I-5 heading South, and how much should we spend to install digital signboards all around the metro area?

    Because of course ODOT did *both* with our money, when neither were necessary or of any special benefit, though of course they have their long list of justifications at the ready.

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    • Gary August 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Both were Recovery Act projects, where the whole point was to spend money as fast as possible. Foolish as that may be, such was the hand they were dealt. But yes, we could probably think of plenty of other examples that suit your valid point.

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      • Robert Burchett August 5, 2015 at 9:33 am

        Apparently they were ‘shovel-ready’, meaning that something on a wishlist had received significant planning effort from, I guess, ODOT.

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    • kittens August 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      I think its better not to get too many cooks in the kitchen on this one. Everyone fighting over a small pot of money will just lead to compromises and mediocre results.

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      • PorterStout August 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        Plus there may be an unavoidable issue here. “High impact” areas are going to tend to be concentrated near downtown, whereas “high equity” areas are spread out all over the rest of PDX. Even if you do a 30/70 split, it’s going to appear that downtown always gets an inequitable slice of the pie because a large chunk of that money will be spent around a relatively small area. In contrast an outlying area might be waiting years to get even a single investment, just because the money has to be spread out over so much larger region.

        Maybe we need to come up with a numerical scoring scheme that weights potential investment on several attributes, and the weight could be adjusted according to that attribute’s desirability (and those weights could change over time, perhaps even open to public vote). Every year you start at the top scoring items and work your way down until the funding is gone.

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  • Ben Fleskes August 4, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Years ago there was a plan to put Freeways all across the region and few brave people said no.

    Now I’m left wondering, where is the broad master-plan for bicycles. Portland is at the point where single wide bike lanes are simply not adequate for the amount of bicycling we want for Portland that will sustain the quality of life we enjoy here.

    To get there, we need to a broad network of bikeways 10 feet wide in each direction, protected from automobile and truck traffic. Such a network will serve as a network for people to access major destinations and very simply serve as the freeways of the future – only just for bicycles. Everything else seems to be minor half measures.

    Please point me in the right direction. Where is the broad, high capacity, master plan for bicycle based transportation? Where will the 10 foot wide(in each direction) bikeways go? Once we know that, then it seems we can start filling in the details and smaller bike lanes for even more accessibility.

    Bike on.

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    • Paul Souders August 4, 2015 at 10:30 am

      I have been thinking something similar. I just read a great post on Strong Towns about moving the Overton Window in regards to transportation planning. Instead of fighting about how to divide the scraps, let’s start demanding a full bowl.

      It seems that “regional connected fully separate bikeway system” would be a good target for moving the Overton window. Much of the planning/visioning work could (should!) be done without an official “master plan.” Advocates and wonks could draft a dream network, propose easements, research costs & funding, and so on.

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    • Paul Souders August 4, 2015 at 10:30 am

      ps. that Strong Towns blog post: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/7/30/moving-the-overton-window

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    • Paul August 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan for 2030 can be found here:
      http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/44597

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      • gutterbunnybikes August 4, 2015 at 2:12 pm

        Don’t worry in a little more than a year, the Vision Zero Plan is gunna put that master plan through a shredder. What replaces it who knows? Could be better and could be worse – but I don’t think that current bicycle plan is going to survive the process.

        And honestly, that plan is so far off what is on the ground right now, I don’t necessarily think a redo is uncalled for.

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      • Ben Fleskes August 11, 2015 at 6:22 am

        Thank you. Finally found some time to look at this.

        My comment and future advocacy immediately jump to two points (these seem to be lacking from the master plan):

        1) A strong network of single direction 10 foot wide cycle tracks. Bicycling in the city should be able to be a social activity. Much like driving in a car with friends. Bike lanes that only accommodate one wide bike riders simply don’t seem reasonable. Why is it that a single person driving a 3000 lb vehicle in entitled to 10 feet worth of pavement and a person (or persons) gets whatever is left on the side of the road. This is important for several reasons:
        a) People should be able to ride side by side and have a conversation
        b) And adult should be able to ride on the traffic side of a child as they ride along.
        c) Faster riders(15 – 20 mpg) should be able to safely pass slower riders (5-15 mph) (or groups of riders)
        d) simply provide more capacity for bicycle riders.
        f) Bicycling should be an option for people of all abilities. Some faster, some slower. Cars can flow at equal speeds as traffic requires. People on bicycles can not. As such more width is necessary for passing.

        2) Bike boulevards should be defined by the simple idea that the bicycle (or crossing the street pedestrian) has the right of way. As such:
        a) Bicycles should take the lane (and hold it) as a matter of practice traveling at a comfortable rate of speed (10-20 mph)
        b) Cars follow a safe distance behind. -Effectively allowing the bicycle to be a traffic (car traffic) calming device.

        What I see in the master plan (current) will limit bicycles as a 5% solution. To be clear, I want to see the 50% solution. Where 50% of all rides are made by bicycles. Where children and people of all abilities can rides their bikes on the roads safely to the destination of their choosing. This is the path that will prolong the quality of life in Portland for years to come.

        Finally, More broadly, I would advocate for a network of off road, through the wilderness, paved trails that connect Portland to the coast (Salmonberry corridor), Mt Hood (Old Barlow toll road maybe?), The George (Historic HIghway) and to locations far and wide. Along the way, would be off road, gravel and mountain bike opportunities along with bikepacking facilities. And key to the success – connect to local communities along the way. (This idea seems to have pretty good momentum so far).

        And one more thing. Gas isn’t made in Oregon. Oil does not come from Oregon. Cars are not made in oregon. Money spent in Oregon on gas fueled cars is money that leaves Oregon leaving our economy weaker. Oregon does manufacture bicycles, parts, accessories and bicycle tourism. And money we spend that way tends to stay in Oregon leaving our economy better for it. So whether you ride a bicycle or not, it’s a good idea to strive for a 50% solution and not settle for the 5%.

        This is the core of my advocacy and I pledge to take this forward to relevant planning groups and sessions in our community.

        Thank you.

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        • Eric Leifsdad August 11, 2015 at 11:42 am

          Thank you. This vision is sadly lacking from our plans, PBOT staff, and city leadership. You’re exactly right about the lane width on all counts and the challenge will be keeping cars out of 10ft lanes (not finding the space.) We’re going to need enforcement and education because trying to engineer our way past every possible mistake of rude or ignorant drivers is futile.

          As for speed, we should consider fast riders at up to 35mph — yes that is very fast, but at least in the transition to higher mode-share it should not be unexpected. Our sightlines, widths, ramps, and curves are currently very poorly designed for even 15mph — many are barely suited to 5mph. I think getting commuters to shift to bikes means they need to be able to *average* 15mph, even if this requires hard (or electric) and fast riding at or over 25mph some of the time. Less stopping would help cover distance at lower speeds, but show me a signal in Portland where bikes get priority timing and I’ll show you 100 where they don’t.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      So, you have been, or will, participate in the upcoming comp plan and TSP discussions? The conversations and public process to mold how the city grows in the future. Because complaining on this blog won’t achieve much change.

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      • Ben Fleskes August 11, 2015 at 5:45 am

        Yes, I will participate. Please point me in the right direction. I find it very hard to navigate all the information out there along with all the relevant advocacy groups. When is the next comp plan session and by who? Is it just Portland, or the larger Metro region? What is TSP? Sorry, but I’m simply not up to speed on all the details.

        Thanks for the urging for participation. I fully agree, advocacy must go beyond simply ‘complaining on the web’.

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  • Evan Manvel August 4, 2015 at 10:52 am

    This sort of trade-off among priorities is what the City has been doing for years. See PBOT’s effort from 2011: http://bikeportland.org/2011/12/07/pbot-unveils-major-reforms-to-address-budget-crisis-63262

    I’d slightly reframe what Jessica had to say: “Because we have nothing more than the change behind the couch cushions to work on bike projects…” as “Because we have many priorities and *we decide* to spend nothing more than the change behind the couch cushions to work on bike projects…”

    I’m for boosting transportation spending overall (while, as many have argued, devolving more to the local level). But if we reprogrammed certain highway funds, we could completely fund the bike plan. It’s a choice we’re making.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Evan,

      ‘We’ who? and what ‘highway’ funds?

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      • Evan Manvel August 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm

        We – as a society (not PBOT!)

        Under MAP-21, FHWA spends over $40,000 million/year on highways.
        https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/map21/docs/hamap21.pdf – Oregon gets just over 1% of these.

        The State of Oregon raises its own transportation revenues (gas tax, weight-mile, licenses, etc.) – around $2,000 million/year, if I remember correctly.

        As I said, we have lots of priorities. But we could go through the list of decisions we’ve made – from the Eddyville money suck to the Columbia River Crossing, and find hundreds of millions of dollars we could have reprogrammed if we had other priorities.

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  • Adam H. August 4, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Before we can prioritize coverage vs. ridership, the city needs to prioritize bike transport. Currently, as you say, bike projects get “couch change”. This decision would be far easier if there was a decent pot of money PBOT could draw from instead of the scraps we get today.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      So, focus all resources on a single mode of transport, unlike we’ve done in the past?

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      • Adam H. August 5, 2015 at 9:33 am

        Straw man argument – I never said anything like that. “Prioritize” means consider important enough to dedicate adequate funds to. Currently, we have plenty of plans for bike infra but funding is still an afterthought.

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        • paikiala August 5, 2015 at 11:05 am

          You weren’t exactly clear. Define ‘prioritize’.
          If we’re talking about money, 50-50? 70-30? 90-10?
          If you’re proposing to let the streets go until bike infrastructure matches in scope, that’s unworkable.

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          • Eric Leifsdad August 11, 2015 at 12:15 am

            90% of the bike infrastructure we need is the streets we already have, with some posts and signs saying “no thru traffic except bicycles” (Hint: If we order enough of these, we’ll get bulk pricing.) The rest isn’t going to be so expensive anyway. PBOT needs to actually prioritize bicycle traffic — focus on how to get autos out of the way of bikes and make bike commutes quick and efficient instead of vice versa. Reprogram the lights and hang up some signs. If we’re spending more money and effort moving cars and not getting more people biking, the priorities are wrong because the sustainable choice needs to be the easy one sooner rather than later.

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            • lop August 11, 2015 at 12:59 am

              Just be careful where you put the cycle routes. Stressed out commuters speeding through a place are wholly incompatible with making it a pleasant place to be when they are in cars. It’s not as bad when they’re on bikes. But it’s not great either. It’s why there are recurrent complaints from park visitors on the waterfront and eastbank esplanade.

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              • Eric Leifsdad August 12, 2015 at 11:20 pm

                If we had decent bike routes, people wouldn’t be complaining about bikers on the sidewalk (hint: the “sidewalk” is the city’s official bike route, usually easily identified by “bicycles slow” signs.)

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                • lop August 13, 2015 at 1:55 am

                  On PSU there’s a nice walkway just north of the Peter Scott Community Field.

                  http://woh.pdx.edu/page/fountain-and-fountain-wall

                  It would be fine to serve local bike traffic, cyclists heading to that walkway or the community field. But it shouldn’t serve through traffic/recreational riders who take offense at the idea of slowing down. It should be a place where kids can run around (they often do) and nobody has to worry about causing a crash. There are signs up telling cyclists to walk their bikes, I think I might be the only person who has ever followed them. (though to be fair I’m pretty sure the impetus for the signs was some damage discovered a few years ago from skateboarders and bmx riders) Many through cyclists don’t slow down to a reasonable speed for passing through a pedestrian area and I see close calls there on a semi regular basis. The path doesn’t offer any real utility to cyclists compared to heading east/west a block or two to the north, just about all turn north onto or come from 11th ave, for at least one block. But people bike through it. You’re right that if there was a good cycle track nearby people would use that instead. My point was not every block is appropriate for that cycle track. A lot of space was given over to serve car through traffic. Too much space. Some of the space has been reclaimed (or never given to cars in the first place) and is used instead to create a nice place. Sometimes preserving those nice places to be, not to travel through, is important and cycle tracks should not be routed through them.

                  Another example nearby, good bike facilities on SW 1st, 4th, Lincoln, Harrison, and Market would be great, and that’s where through traffic should be served. But I think the pedestrian malls between them around Pettygrove and Lovejoy fountains should not serve through traffic, car or bike.

                  On the waterfront the cycle track should be what’s today a general traffic lane on Naito, or the grass next to Naito. Not right on the water. It’s fine if someone wants to take their bike to visit the waterfront. It’s fine if they ride along it to enjoy the area. But only if they can treat it as the pedestrian priority zone it’s supposed to be. Commuters and recreational riders on time trials should go elsewhere.

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  • Hello, Kitty August 4, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Bring on the gentrification!

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    • Lester Burnham August 5, 2015 at 6:42 am

      Boo.

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  • Jeff Bernards August 4, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Couch Change needs to be addressed with funding ideas, gas tax? street fee? I’m not advocating for either here. But, you have to be outspoken as much about the problems as about possible solutions, as unpopular as they may be.

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    • Hello, Kitty August 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Ok, I’ll bite. As the price of gas drops, it seems an opportune moment to increase the gas tax.

      Other sources would include property tax, but there probably isn’t much available there given Measure 5 limitations. Another possibility would be income tax, though I’m not sure if cities can add their own levies and have the state collect it for them. Collecting income tax directly would likely be cost prohibitive.

      I think I could defend all of the above as being appropriate sources of revenue for streets.

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      • Gary August 4, 2015 at 12:23 pm

        Portland collects an income tax already, albeit a flat one (arts tax).

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        • Hello, Kitty August 4, 2015 at 1:20 pm

          While the final chapter on that tax has not yet been written, it sounds like payment has been pretty spotty. The state already has a mechanism for assessing and collecting income tax.

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      • Lester Burnham August 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        No thanks…prop taxes are bad enough in Portland as it is.

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    • 9watts August 4, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      “Couch Change needs to be addressed with funding ideas, gas tax? street fee? ”
      I’m with Evan Manvel:
      “But if we reprogrammed certain highway funds, we could completely fund the bike plan. It’s a choice we’re making.”

      We don’t need any more money. We have plenty.
      We’re just spending it on stupid cars-only pork like those bullshit intelligent highway signboards all over our area’s freeways.

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    • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      It’s perfect timing for gas tax. and how about a toll road or two, if ODOT wants their precious freeways so bad make them fund them on their own with tolls, that’s how California does it.

      And why are state and local police not targeting the crap out of out of state drivers by nailing them with speeding tickets? that’s how Texas rolls! If anything it cuts down on speeding and even a little bit less drivers from you know where.

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  • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 11:46 am

    The first challenge to confront should be that we are spending that “couch change” on inferior bicycle infrastructure.
    The city engineers need to stop “squeezing in” the infrastructure, stop painting white lines next to curbs and calling the space in between a “bike lane”

    If we really want to improve ridership and/or coverage then we need to first make sure the infrastructure is not only safe but eliminate the “feeling of danger” that riders feel currently. Which in turn would make the infrastructure more appealing to new users.
    This is the true issue that needs to be delt with first and foremost.

    I will bet $100 right now that the “infrastrcture” they are planning for Foster will be very low use, because it will just be more narrow strips of white paint next to a curb. There are very few people that are going to tolerate riding within 2 feet of those angry, distracted and speeding drivers on Foster!

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    • soren August 4, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      most of portland’s busiest bike routes have mere strips of white paint. althouh i advocated for a cycle track on foster i’m still excited about the buffered bike lanes (and would like to see them extended from 90th to 52nd).

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      • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm

        Yes, and how many cyclists have been seriously or died this year alone inside of that white painted “barrier”
        It’s just not acceptable, it never has been and we need to stop allowing the city to “put paint on it, and call it a bike lane!”

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        • paikiala August 5, 2015 at 10:59 am

          one?

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Invisible,

      So, a campaign to stop a ‘feeling of danger’, that changes from person to person? Which person is the standard of reference, maybe a 12-year old girl? #BuildItForIsabella

      Sort of like a war on terror? Maybe we need a Department of Bikeland Security?

      Perhaps an education campaign about risk and reality? Good luck fighting fear.

      What would you call the space for cyclist marked by 8″ white lines?

      Foster is getting curb side bike lanes?

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      • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 2:37 pm

        Hyperbol seems to be your typical answer to everything Paikiala.

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      • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        So your position is that we shouldn’t take our children’s safety on the road seriously? #builditforisabella just say no to Safe routes… right? Let them fend for themselves, whats a hand full of children’s lives in the big “scheme” of things anyway?

        I do not subscribe to your version of “safe bike lanes” a 5′, 6′ or 8′ wide lane next to a curb on a 4 lane road is nowhere near a safe bike facility and I am sure the majority of commuters in Portland agree with me.

        I know you like to make excuses for all the poorly designed infrastructure in Portland but its time to come to terms with the facts my friend… excuses don’t cut it anymore. Your views on safety don’t cut it either.
        #VisionZero

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        • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm

          Hyperbole: noun, Rhetoric

          1. obvious and intentional exaggeration.
          2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”.

          What exactly is my version of ‘safe bike lanes’, since you appear to claim to read my mind? Do we know each other?

          I was interpreting your wishes – you proposed eliminating fear through engineered roadways – good luck. And a campaign regarding risk and reality was a serious suggestion.

          The risk of a fatal outcome when a pedestrian or cyclists is struck at 25 mph is about 5% – hence the goal on neighborhood greenways (shared space) of 20 mph. The risk of fatal outcome at 40 mph is about 75%.
          So, if we are setting a risk target of 10% – half the international standard (zero risk is impossible, but zero deaths is not), no street with bike lanes (separated space) should be posted higher than 30 mph. No street without separated bike facilities should be posted higher than 20 mph.

          Our starting point cannot (will never) be perfection. An ideal bike environment for 5% of the city will not get us to 25% mode share. And, as the story pointed out, we can’t afford ideal everywhere immediately.

          You call the current designs short sighted, but offer no alternatives for analysis – for either cost or demonstrated safety.

          The number of cyclists that have died so far in Portland this year, while riding, is, I think, 2 or 3.
          June 15 – burnside bridge
          May 28 – Gladstone
          Others?

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          • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 4:46 pm

            Haha… your not foolin anyone with your backpedal my friend. Your statement was pretty clear. Keep tryin

            “You call the current designs short sighted, but offer no alternatives for analysis – for either cost or demonstrated safety.”

            Your right, but we both know you’ll come up with more excuses because that’s who you are. stay classy

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            • paikiala August 5, 2015 at 10:58 am

              My college education must be failing me because all I did in response is expand on my previous statements. Care to inform where a reverse of direction occurred?

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            • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 24, 2015 at 9:45 am

              invisiblebikes and paikiala,

              this is an important exchange and I appreciate both of your comments… Just please remain respectful of one another as you hash your ideas out. Thank you.

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    • gutterbunnybikes August 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      You’ll lose that bet.

      Foster already sees a pretty good amount of bicycle traffic. I’d likely guess near the same numbers of some of the outer and mid east side greenways. Since most the street side parking (defacto bike lane)is usually vacant, the FOPO section really isn’t too bad to ride, and I’ve often done my own counts on the east of 82nd parts where bicycles on sidewalks usually outnumber or equal the number of pedestrian traffic (including people waiting at bus stops) through that stretch.

      In my modest opinion, I suspect Foster is going to increase bike share overall more than the 50’s and 20’s greenway projects (combined even).

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      • invisiblebikes August 4, 2015 at 3:18 pm

        I don’t disagree with you that more bike facility on Foster will improve bike share city wide. But, your missing my point that adding inadequate bike facility only adds more dangerous facilities to the already existing dangerous facilities.
        With increased short sited design comes even higher increase of traffic violence and more road users getting hurt or killed.

        It’s just not acceptable to me or my family.

        Btw I ride that area of Foster, 52nd, 92nd at 205 almost every day and I to would like to see better (and safer) bike facilities but it’s just not what they have planned. Its ugly, short sightedness at best and we’re getting left behind by many other cities.

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        • gutterbunnybikes August 4, 2015 at 6:26 pm

          The more I read and study, the more I’m convinced that there will never be “adequate infrastructure” – what ever that means.

          Even in the most bicycle friendly cities of the world, most of the bicycle travel is still on roads with cars. The big difference is the attitude of automobile use and road user rights, not infrastructure.

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          • soren August 5, 2015 at 8:00 am

            in munich buffered bike lanes are the default infrastructure and older sub-par cycle tracks are being removed or decommissioned. interestingly, munich saw an increase from ~6% cycling mode share (sound familiar) to almost 20% in a few decades. i believe that the path denmark took to higher mode share is worth emulating but its not the only path.

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  • Aaron August 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I live out on 139th, so this is going utterly against my self interest, but here’s what I have to say:

    Screw the burbs. Focus on making good areas better, and great areas European. Even the best this city has to offer has vast amounts of room for improvement. A staggeringly accessible central city can show people how good transportation can be when cars are de-emphasized. It will do more for Portland’s rep, and the public will to make more areas like that, than putting every arterial from here to Sandy on a half-assed road diet. Let’s City Upon A Hill this SOB.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Aaron,
      I agree. If the goal is a city average of 25% bike mode share both areas need improved numbers. Some parts of Portland already have 18-22% mode share, but east of I-205 it drops to low 1-3%. Only by increasing use everywhere can we hope to achieve the 2030 goal.

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    • Lester Burnham August 5, 2015 at 6:44 am

      With that attitude towards east PDX you should working with Hales and friends downtown. We already are ignored enough out there don’t ya think?

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  • maccoinnich August 4, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    “With so many people already riding NW Broadway, modest investments could deliver a big payoff. But is any further investment in central Portland justifiable?”

    This caption seems to imply that there has already been substantial investment in central Portland. There hasn’t. With the exception of South Waterfront, which is slowly turning out to be pretty good, the Central City has been totally ignored. There is still no northbound route through downtown, or a southbound route through the Pearl. There is no continuous link between the Northwest and the waterfront, or westbound between Goose Hollow and the waterfront. Neither the Burnside Bridge or the Hawthorne Bridge has bike lanes extending for more than a handful of blocks into downtown. The Broadway Bridge has a continuous bike lane extending southbound, but until you reach PSU it’s very narrow and in the door zone.

    Whether argued from an equity or a ridership perspective, the Central City has been left neglected. The tens of thousands of people who live there (and the hundreds of thousands of people who work there) need a safe to get to the grocery store and to schools as well.

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    • oliver August 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      These are good points. I get around fine, but whenever I think it’s good enough I’m reminded of when I tried to take my wife, then a new rider, across N. Victory Blvd from Denver Avenue to Delta Park on the way to Jantzen Beach.

      She was terrified.

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    • daisy August 4, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      The other day I was on my bike at about 7:30am or so, on NW Broadway just past Burnside. The curbs were parked up with cars, and there were probably 15+ folks on bikes in the narrow bike lane. And then there were about three cars total that were driving, taking up 75% of the road. Three cars got all the space, while folks on bikes negotiated through a tiny shared space in the door zone around taxis, valets, manhole covers, etc.

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    • gutterbunnybikes August 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      A whole 10’s of thousands in a city of 650,000. Central city population is a small minority, when compared to the cities whole population.

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      • maccoinnich August 4, 2015 at 9:47 pm

        What’s your point?

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        • davemess August 5, 2015 at 12:29 pm

          There has been substantial investment if you’re look at infrastructure besides just bicycles. The walking in the central city is pretty great (look at the walk scores), and downtown has an exponentially better public transportation network than any other area of the city.
          There are a lot of people in the central city who don’t need to bike, but can simply walk or bus/MAX to where they need to go.

          I’m not saying bike facilities can’t improve, because they clearly can. But I think they were talking about the big picture of spending and not just specifically bikes.

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          • maccoinnich August 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

            Thank you for teaching me that I don’t need to bike and can just hop on the bus! Appreciate it!

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          • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
            Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 6, 2015 at 12:25 pm

            In my view, you’re both correct:

            1) downtown doesn’t have a lot of dedicated bike infrastructure (though the Esplanade was arguably the single most important/expensive/effective bike infrastructure project in the city’s history)

            2) if you look at other types of infrastructure, especially MAX (which has made a bunch of sacrifices in order to maximize service to downtown) downtown is rich in low-car transportation investment.

            2a) still, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the only reason most of the region’s suburban areas are worth anything at all is because of billions of dollars in freeways, which came at the cost of central-city mobility, access and land value.

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      • lop August 4, 2015 at 11:51 pm

        Central city has ~30k residents, ~30k college students, ~130k jobs. Plenty of museums, theaters etc…with combined annual attendance in the millions. Plenty of food and retail attracting even more people to the area. A lot of people travel there. You’d get good usage out of any good facility you put in.

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  • Gary August 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Obviously like everyone else, I’d prefer to make the pie bigger rather than argue over how to divide up the slice we get. But that’s not the point of this topic–the issue here is how to make best use of (the unfortunate) reality, not dream about possibilities.

    To that end, I’m not sure the conflict between ridership and coverage is real, at least not to the extent it is suggested here. I believe such a conflict would arise at some point of sufficient bike network saturation, but don’t think we’re nearly there yet. That is, e.g., a good bike route on Foster is going to bring increased ridership and substantial increased coverage. Yes, downtown projects aren’t going to increase coverage, but there are lots of projects that will achieve both objectives. Bike routes, to a much greater extent than transit, serve broad areas, not just those in the immediate few blocks of the expansion.

    Thus, the real choice seems to me not whether to increase coverage or ridership, it’s the issue of who (where) benefits the most from it and equity issues.

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    • lop August 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      As an analogue of the ridership/coverage tradeoff for transit…

      Pro ridership for bikes: Come up with a list of bike projects, fund them in descending order of bike ridership per dollar spent.

      Pro (geographic) coverage for bikes: Come up with a list of areas with no suitable place for cycling (bike facility, quiet side street, slow general traffic lanes etc…) and fund cycling projects in the underserved areas.

      Is the prime focus to maximize the number of people biking? Or to make sure every area has some minimal facility, even if with a constant budget you end up with fewer bike trips? And does the latter continue to constrain the cycling demographic to be younger and more male than the general population? With transit the appeal of coverage is to make sure everyone has some minimal mobility option. With that in place is the appeal for coverage just as strong?

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  • kittens August 4, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    There is just no political will in the city to do anything slightly progressive on bike infrastructure at this point. I predict massive fail. Because the bike spending by its very nature shows mode favor they are allergic to it. Because we don’t have real leaders in the city and they are scared of the O for some reason.

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  • Bart August 4, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I live west of 205 at the moment, but am in the process of grudgingly moving east of that marker. The phenomenal investment poured into inner-neighborhood infrastructure has increased the demand for the same, increasing prices and dislocating residents along the way. The inevitable outcome will be continued gentrification, with more and more ‘burb residents clamoring for the infrastructure that they themselves can no longer afford to live near.

    I feel that we need to prioritize in-fill, ensuring a similar level of investment in all areas of our city. The funding balance idea is a good one (30/70, 50/50, etc), but we need to be careful to take into account the changing dynamics of the city when doing so, not to exclude one part of Portland for another.

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  • Tom Hardy August 4, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    The continued reduction of transportation tax revenues going the way it looks now, there needs to be a “COMMUTER TAX”. This would help support the conversion of parking lanes and driving lanes to sidewalks, greenways, and protected bike lanes. The parking garages would be happy to collect it and the meters just need a little upgrade. The reduction of traffic would make a fantastic difference.The change to 3 lanes for Barbur would be done easily with the shared middle lane. Guaranteed to reduce cars.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Maybe something that is directly linked to how far one drives? Like a…. gas tax? And a higher registration fee for electric and hybrid vehicles?

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      • Hello, Kitty August 5, 2015 at 12:09 am

        I’d prefer something directly linked to how much damage you do to the roads, which is a direct function of axle weight. Assess a fee when you renew your registration based on odometer and vehicle weight. What could be fairer?

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        • paikiala August 5, 2015 at 10:53 am

          And the heavier the vehicle, the more fuel it needs to move, so a gas tax still works.

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      • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:31 am

        Forget trying to tax electric cars until after the gas tax is high enough to fund roads while people drive less and use less fossil fuel. This noise about hybrids ruining the funding is a red herring to avoid appropriate taxes on petroleum fuels.

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    • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:46 am

      Further on that line of thought, commuters don’t need better bikeways downtown just like they don’t need more lanes to handle peak auto traffic — they will find a way to get to work. If kids can bike to school, everyone can bike anywhere. Use the downtown parking tax to fund safe routes to schools and in one decade we won’t know where to spend all the spare money (and time!) those minivans and SUVs were eating. Free parking or free money? Seems like an easy choice.

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  • GirlOnTwoWheels August 4, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    My biggest concern regarding the funding allocation between coverage vs ridership is that the couch change that we have access to will be insufficient for any notable projects in either bucket. To build both but at such a level they are less than the quality of infrastructure desired is a different compromise.

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      ‘Notable’ projects look great, are sexy, and certainly high profile, but the ‘girl next door’ greenways will probably continue to be the workhorse of the bike system. Sort of like comparing a new non-car bridge to SE Clinton.

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  • RH August 4, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Fund projects for the downtown and bridges into downtown. It’s where people are going and has the most visual impact. Once people see what ‘world class’ bike infrastructure looks like, then it would trickle down to other outside areas.

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    • rick August 4, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      As if Portland’s only Velodrome has a crisscrossing trail and bike lanes on SW Shattuck Road? Nope.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 4, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    There is a lot of merit in making two types of core investment:
    – facilities that allow a district to move past 10% bike share to 25% mode split [points at which the mode becomes sustainable]; and
    – foundation investment to set aside links or points of access that a future facility would need [bridge crossings / arterial under crossings etc.] our in next tier districts. (Few remember how vital PDoTs early bridge access work in the 1990s was for the bike mode growth in the 2000s.)

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  • Todd Boulanger August 4, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    All in all the City has to be serious and not let existing on-street vehicle storage trump new multimodal access or traffic safety. Often the efforts to appease on-street parkers (free parking typically) causes bikeway facilities to be much more expensive to build or be less convenient or less safe. [The recent multifamily development minimums parking issue is a related case in point that may become a domino of sorts for future bikeways.]

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    • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Some of our busiest outer roads offer ideal settings to add world class infrastructure for a low cost.
      Halsey east of 102nd, 102nd, 122nd, Stark – large streets, some with bike lanes and on-street parking right next to surface lots. Converting the parking lanes to 8′ bike lanes and the bike lanes to buffers, with delineators now and islands as we can, would be a great investment, IMO.

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  • Chris I August 4, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    The city should move aggressively to implement road diets in east Portland. So many of these roads have excess capacity, and could be re-striped to add bike lanes and turn lanes. This relatively cheap change would help reduce motor vehicle speeds and greatly improve safety. It’s important to diet these roads now, before increased development adds more vehicle traffic, and diets become politically more difficult to implement.

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    • oregon111 August 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      have you seen the traffic on 82nd, 122nd, 181st, stark, division, powell, etc???

      just because it is not YET quite like I-5 or 217, doesn’t mean it won’t be like that in a few years — especially with all the apartments that the city is planning to build out there

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      • ethan August 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm

        Giving people good options is a great way to get people using those options. Keeping the 1950’s mindset is a great way to be stuck in the 1950s.

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      • paikiala August 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm

        111,
        That is also the planned purpose of those roads – moving cars. Better bike space where we need the car lanes could come from redevelopment dedications, as is done for pedestrian space, or storm water treatment space.

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      • Chris I August 4, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        I was thinking of Halsey, Glisan, 148th, 162nd, specifically. As for the already congested roads, most of them have space for parking that is rarely used, as most businesses have off-street parking.

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  • q`Tzal August 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    () Considering the way that minorities are treated by the police
    () and the fact that we have video evidence that some will lie to cover up misdeeds
    () AND the fact that bicycle safety now seems to hinge on privileged bicycle riders with money to burn buying a front and rear facing GoPro

    PERHAPS the best overall safety move…
    … For bicycle riders, pedestrians, handicapped and persecuted minorities…
    Is to put up live streaming cameras at every intersection that is wired for a traffic light.

    Something everyone can use as evidence to prosecute hit and run drivers, misbehaving police and even serve a secondary visual identification source for red light cameras and their comedically bad arrest photos.

    I hate ubiquitous surveillance with the fire of a thousand suns but the cro magnons of our species that feel the need to abuse their fellow man must be stopped.

    If you are going to be a primitive hater and killer I have less sympathy for you than a cockroach.

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    • TJ August 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      I’ll agree and add:

      Lower speed limits and enforcement. This means hiring, training, and technology. Separate infrastructure will not get us door-to-door. It’s time we enforcement basic traffic laws and take back the neighborhood streets.

      I wouldn’t mind a law that separates the process of traffic citations from additional persecution and prosecution — if the driver is not drunk or high, don’t search the car. Getting hit by a car is a far greater concern than drug trafficking or being shot.

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    • gutterbunnybikes August 4, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      Truth is most those cameras you talk of are already there.

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      • q`Tzal August 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm

        Truth is they sho as F#$& aint.

        I’m talking about a MINIMUM of 4 dedicated cameras per intersection (1 per corner) aimed from the corner across to the opposite corner with at least 120° field of view.
        Each camera would capture all of the intersection itself (from 4 different POVs) all activity on approaches to the intersection.
        I can’t be certain but I think at least 50%-66% of all bicycle vs car collisions occur at intersections and probably 75%-95% of collisions with pedestrians occur at intersections.

        While there are some red light cameras set up they aren’t designed for what I’m suggesting nor are they at optimal angles and placement than to act as anything other than red light cameras.

        Direct headon photo angles hide or miss much more than off angle POVs. At best a red light camera is set up for a very tight angle, a very specific distance and focus.

        Overlapping corner camers ensure 4 POVs of intersection collisions (permanently killing the “he said/she said” issue) and at least 2 POVs of weirdness on the approach roads.

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        • Hello, Kitty August 5, 2015 at 12:13 am

          Hook up a license plate reader, and pipe that shizzle directly to the NSA.

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  • oregon111 August 4, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    put the bike improvements in rockwood…

    because as portland gentrifies, it will be the only place that bicycle riding hipsters making min wage will be able to afford rent

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  • gutterbunnybikes August 4, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I think honestly think you can have both. It’s just that the thinking has to change on what the system as whole is and should be doing. If we actually started connecting commercial districts instead of skirting them, you get both. But Downtown is the only commercial district the city wants to connect to the bicycle grid.

    You will dramatically increase ridership numbers and geographic influence if you plan right. Instead of half-assed 20’s and 50s projects – why were these routes not taken 10 blocks west which would have put the bicycle access in the heart of the main east side commercial districts instead of 10 blocks away from where everyone wants to get to in them?

    A route through the teens would have given riders direct access from the heart of Alberta through LLoyd, central eastside, Division/Clinton then on down to Bybee/ Sellwood. A route through the 40’s would have connected the heart of Fremont to Hollywood, to Hawthorne, to Division/Powell, and Woodstock.

    And you wait because Foster does connect commercial districts – once implemented it will be a game changer for future planning. Foster (coupled with Clinton and Tillicum) is going to be huge, once completed it’s roughly 5 miles of near complete (other than Clinton being two blocks off Division) commercial access for bicycles from 90th to over the bridge to Downtown.

    As long as no one is willing to adequately connect all the commercial districts, all the projects which aren’t central city will fall short. And at some point, without better access from outside of central city even those projects will fail in that no one will be able to get to them.

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    • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:22 am

      Spineful leadership would be needed to displace any auto space (whether it’s being used or not.) Some might say that leaders who rode a bike would lead from the front.

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      • JeffS August 5, 2015 at 3:02 am

        On-street parking permits could end that fight before it really starts.

        The primary purpose of permits is not revenue generation, but once the money starts coming in you cannot discuss removing parking without mentioning the “lost revenue”.

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    • soren August 5, 2015 at 10:11 am

      i could not agree more. building good bike infrastructure on commercial roads is the lowest hanging fruit in central portland.

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    • paikiala August 5, 2015 at 10:49 am

      GB,
      40’s has a legacy route already in place, it just needs updated to current standards.
      You appear to be complaining about which identified part of the system (2030 plan) to do first, not that all of the identified system should be built. Might it be that your preference does not match another person’s preference?
      I agree that the greenways are not well marked for where to turn to get to adjacent commercial uses, though that is more an issue for pass-through users and not the locals, and also something the city is working on.

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  • Joseph E August 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Fortunately, the Ridership vs Coverage debate is not as intractable for bikes as it is for transit.

    Due to the low population and job density of Portland’s suburbs, good transit to everywhere would be very expensive without big changes in the cost and availability of driving, parking and housing. But the suburban density of the Portland metro area is OK for bikes already. Also, bikes mainly need capital projects. New bike infrastructure is mostly a one-time cost; the street maintenance expensive will be able the same with a bike lane. In contrast, a new bus or train route or more frequent buses require an ongoing subsidy with the current price of operating and paying for transit. Even better, bikes can still be ridden in places without any bike-specific infrastructure, if the street or road is low-traffic and speeds are low. This means we don’t even need to try to provide separated bike infrastructure to low-density areas (which are very expensive to serve with buses), because simple changes like lower speed limits can be effective.

    If we had more money (eg the amount of money spent on bike infrastructure in the Netherlands), we could pay for the high-ridership AND coverage routes!

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    • Joseph E August 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Until the “more money” appears, I believe we should prioritize spending “bike” money on high-ridership infrastructure, while using money for “safety improvements” to add sidewalks (and bike lanes) to the outer areas. Of course both types of projects help safety as well as bike use, but the focus on safety is the biggest need for the areas in SW and East Portland, and the suburbs, which currently have speeding and dangerous situations for people walking and on bikes.

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  • Dan August 4, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Does it cost more money for police to pull people over, rather than letting them slide with a 10-15mph cushion? Does it cost more money for police to write a ticket rather than give a warning? Does it cost more money to ticket the vehicle that is caught by a red light or speed camera, rather than the driver? Does it cost more money to hold drivers criminally responsible for negligence in operation of dangerous machinery, rather than always giving them the benefit of the doubt? Does it cost more money to NOT widen a road, and let congestion work itself out naturally? Does it cost more money to raise the gas tax to an appropriate level? How about even 1/10th of an appropriate level?

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    • Eric Leifsdad August 5, 2015 at 12:18 am

      We could at least keep pace with Washington on the gas tax. Are people from Vancouver going to start driving here just to get cheap gas?

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      • JeffS August 5, 2015 at 5:33 am

        Why not, they’re making the trip anyway. Absurd would be the idea that Porlanders would drive to Vancouver for gas… (or at all)

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        • Dan August 5, 2015 at 9:42 am

          Really, the gas tax should be raised at the federal level, since that’s where most of the subsidies exist. And it wouldn’t affect each state’s ability to attract inter-state tourism.

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          • Hello, Kitty August 5, 2015 at 10:37 am

            How many people do you think don’t take a trip to another state because the gas in the destination state costs too much more than it does in their home state?

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            • Dan August 5, 2015 at 11:17 am

              Nobody, currently. The biggest disparity in gas tax is 35 cents (Georgia is 7.5 cents, New York is 42.4), and the difference isn’t enough. Also, nobody is shying away from New York because of the gas tax.

              But if Oregon were to raise it by $3.50 a gallon, putting the state tax at $3.80 and the total tax around European levels, our gasoline would be twice as expensive as any other state. I believe it would have an effect on people wanting to live or visit here. Then again, raise it on the federal level and we’re all in the same boat.

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              • 9watts August 6, 2015 at 8:51 am

                “I believe it would have an effect on people wanting to live or visit here.”

                Hey, why would that be such a bad thing? Are we short of people around here? Just think of the positive spillover effects…

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                • Dan August 9, 2015 at 10:17 pm

                  Make Oregon like Detroit?

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    • infinitebuffalo August 7, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      The cushion is there originally because radar and other devices for measuring vehicle speed (including your own speedometer) have a margin of error. (This is allegedly why Pennsylvania to this day bans the use of radar and other similar devices by local police for detecting speeding.)
      Like everything else, of course, it’s long been abused.

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  • Kathleen Parker August 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    As a member of Montavilla Neighborhood and long-time bike commuter and car-sharer, I use all services public and private mentioned in this thread. I did want to clarify to this listserve when discussing funding for these services areas based on heavy use, please remember that our suburbs are; Gresham, Beaverton and beyond,Clackamas County and Vancouver. Montavilla is the center of our city limits with a diverse population both ethnically and economically. It is not a place to not implement or cut services from private or public sectors. Luckily we have some bike infrastructure, a handful of zipcars, reliable MAX service, and Trimet is increasing service on several bus lines here and further east. There are rumours of road diets on NE Halsey and Glisan with added bike lanes. I used to think Montavilla was far out when I lived in Sabin, Buckman, and Albina neighborhoods. Then I bought my first house. I got to know the neighborhood. Now I don’t think it is far out anymore. It is reasonable that Portland residents want the same or similar bike signals, curb cuts, signage, and transportation options in all central neighborhoods. Private bike and car-share companies don’t have any long-term goals for equity in Portland, but our City supposedly does. Now is the time to lure responsible car and bike sharing companies and implement transportation policies and funding that serve all neighborhoods.

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    • 9watts August 7, 2015 at 10:31 am

      “Now is the time to lure responsible car and bike sharing companies and implement transportation policies and funding that serve all neighborhoods.”

      Ivan Illich would caution against taking this tack. This is a crossroads:
      + focus on the feet and the bicycle (autonomous, cheap or free) vs.
      + focus on the institutionalization of transport, whatever the mode (creates dependencies, anything but cheap).

      What is it we want? And what are the prospects that an institution (corporate, government) will achieve these goals better, cheaper, over the long haul than an autonomous approach? I’m genuinely curious.

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  • Chris Anderson August 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

    How ’bout we quit pretending this stuff is expensive to build?

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  • KYouell August 7, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I know I’m a broken record, but we could have both an increase in ridership and equitable expansion by focusing on schools. Get the daily school commute more focused on safely biking and walking; schools are all over the city.

    Make our Safe Routes to School a major priority (lots of diversion, increased fines & enforcement for drivers speeding on them or using them for cut-throughs, heavy-rotation educational campaign about why the increased fines & enforcement) and this could happen.

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    • VTRC August 10, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      I think it would be amazing to build out from the elementary schools. If you could make every 6-8 block radius around every elementary school safe for kids to ride to…

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    • Eric Leifsdad August 10, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      Yes, schools. Maybe we need to make the economic benefits of Safe Routes more visible. Parents on bikes with more money and more time to spend it because their 10yo kids can get themselves to school and back? Safe Routes seems like a no-brainer, but hugely under-funded. It might be a tough message to sell because people shut down when they decide it doesn’t apply to them, so now you have to cross that hurdle twice (i.e. people who are “not bikers” and “not parents”.)

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  • Chris Anderson August 13, 2015 at 6:50 am

    We won’t get there as long as Matt Garrett and his band of cronies are running ODOT.

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  • Roberta Robles August 22, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I had know idea I was quoted in this article. Better late then never response. Thanks for listening and picking up on exactly the tension between the outer burbs and downtown. BikeLoudPDX had an internal conversation on this same subject, regarding this exact comment. We have a large portion of downtown commuters in our group. Generally the consensus out of the group is yes, we will support all bike facilities but let’s continue to support better bicycling facilities for the more vulnerable people out here. The downtown cycle track has a lot of supporters. Who is speaking for the underprivileged people? What about the families who could save a lot of money by going from a two car family to one car and a bike. I’m also speaking out of selfishness. I really don’t want the time and money expense of having to drive my kids everywhere. Self determination has everything to do with access to affordable transportation.

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  • Jim August 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

    In transit, there is no productivity-coverage debate. It’s sustainability vs unsustainability urban sprawl. Many transit agencies are discovering costs rising and coverage is unsustainable. And why should transit or bike planners promote urban sprawl? Why provide commuter service to middle class whites in the suburbs and exurbs at the expense of poor minorities closer to downtown? Why give wealthy people who are promoting urban sprawl in the suburbs bike lanes so their lazy big a**es can get some nice exercise at the expense of more poor people getting killed downtown because of inadequate bike lanes that are not separated from traffic and poorly designed intersections putting bikes in danger of red-light running 2-ton killing machines? There is much more to be spent on bicycle amenities downtown before you should even think about building exercise lanes for well-to-do urban sprawl problem makers who will use these lanes significantly less than their poorer counterparts. Transit needs to fix their model as well as bike planners. I am getting so sick and tired of middle class planners spending so much time and tax money trying to solve middle class problems at the expense of both poor people’s safety and transportation accessibility.

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    • rick August 24, 2015 at 11:28 am

      As if Aloha and the outer parts of Portland don’t need better bus service?

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  • Nathanael November 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    The coverage/ridership distinction does NOT have the same effect with bike lanes — or sidewalks.

    Why? Because there are no government operating costs. The maintenance is the same as the maintenance costs of the roads, and this is higher per person in far-out rural areas than in close-in urban areas — but without operating costs and with low maintenance costs, it becomes much easier to justify extending the network a long way out.

    After all, you only need to build a bike lane or sidewalk once — it stays built, and just has to be resurfaced occasionally. So if you build bike lanes downtown, eventually you will have built bike lanes in all of downtown, and will need to move on to the next neighborhood. As long as you don’t do idiotic things like ripping the bike lanes out, or building them wrong and having to redo them, or redoing ones which were just fine already — etc.

    In truly rural areas, it would probably be wisest to provide paved shared-use bike paths / sidewalks and dirt or gravel roads. Paved roads are $$$$$ to maintain.

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  • Nathanael November 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    One important lesson from public transportation, of course, is the network. Disconnected bits of bike lane which throw you into traffic in between are no good at all — like two bus routes which terminate a mile away from each other, so that you can’t transfer between them. You need a solid, connected path.

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