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Old 05-27-2009, 12:01 PM
sanedragon sanedragon is offline
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Default BTA criticism

I've noticed some very vocal commenters on the blog have been slamming the BTA. Unfortunately I have not been able to properly understand their criticism of the BTA, so I'm starting this thread in an attempt to better understand the issues.

What are the problems that people have with the BTA, and what could be done about these problems?
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Old 05-27-2009, 01:07 PM
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zpl zpl is offline
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I'd also be interested in learning more about the BTA. Criticisms involving the least amount of hyperbole will be the most interesting to me.

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Old 05-27-2009, 09:03 PM
lefty175 lefty175 is offline
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I personally do not fully understand the issue, but I understand that a fair bit of the criticism revolves around the BTA's position as the de facto voice of the cycling community, when it often fails to convey the true breadth of opinions that exist within the community. I believe, and please correct me if I'm wrong, that a major issue has come with the BTA's stance that more bicycle facilities need to be built, rather than bicycles need to be treated as traffic in their own right. Many vehicular cyclists feel that the continued push for separate facilities diminishes our place on the roadways.

I'm not saying that the BTA does not push for cyclists to be treated as any other vehicle on the road, rather that their major focus is on getting additional facilities (i.e. bike lanes, bike boulevards, bike paths, etc.) built, which somewhat creates an atmosphere of: Why aren't you on the facilities specifically designed for you and why are you taking up space where cars are supposed to be?

Last edited by lefty175; 05-27-2009 at 09:05 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 05-28-2009, 09:21 AM
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Haven_kd7yct Haven_kd7yct is offline
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My beef with the BTA is their stated "mission" is to promote bicycle use and conditions throughout the state of Oregon.

However, if you look at their works, they solely focus on everything bicycle only within Portland's city limits.

Seriously. It's as if bicycling does not exist once you get behond that "Portland city limits" sign.

Their email newsletter focuses only on things that are occurring within Portland's boundaries, never anything happening in, say, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Wilsonville, Canby, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Bend...

I think the BTA could do a lot to improve cycling state-wide, but they seem incapable of looking outside of Portland. That's what makes them so ineffectual when they go to Salem to lobby, I'm sure most of the legislators think, "oh it's just those bike people from Portland, they don't care what happens in other parts of the state".

If you live and work and ride in Portland, the BTA is great. But I don't, I choose to live and work in the SW Suburbs, which makes me feel like a second-class citizen in BTA-land.

Last edited by Haven_kd7yct; 05-28-2009 at 09:22 AM. Reason: spelling and grammar
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Old 05-28-2009, 02:58 PM
DaveT DaveT is offline
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I have been a BTA member for more than 10 years. I also live in SW (unicorporated Washington County). I agree that a lot of the BTA focus has been on issues within Portland, but in the past few years they have become a lot more involved at the state level.

The reasons I continue to support the BTA:
- I ride my bike all over the metro area, so improvements in Portland are good for me even though I don't live in Portland.

- Bike improvements in Portland get a lot of statewide visibility and eventually tend to trickle down into other areas.

- Like it or not the BTA has more visibility and influence in Oregon than any other cycling advocacy group.

- Cyclists need advocacy groups at many levels, not just one. Just because I support the BTA doesn't mean I'm not supporting other groups and trying to influence my local government directly.

- Getting government to adopt bicycle-friendly policies and to spend money improving cycling is complicated. Read the latest Bike Portland article on the Oregon Transportation Bill and you will get an idea of how complicated. In the real world of getting things done in government there is a lot of compromise and trade-off. You don't pass every bill you propose, and sometimes you have to agree to support (or not oppose) something you don't really like in order to get something you do. Purists howl, but reality always wins. The BTA has a lot of experience in the real world of Oregon politics. They may not always get it right, but in the long term they are making progress.

Dave Thomson
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Old 05-28-2009, 06:53 PM
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the Wumpus the Wumpus is offline
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I'm becoming a stout advocate of the voice of the bicycling community being the Voice of the Bicycling Community. As in, cyclists stepping up and attending the events that lead to, or could move to remedy, so many of these issues. Something as simple as neighborhood meetings: Attended on a regular basis, so that when the local powers that be ask the community representatives for input at the local level about bikey stuff, your neighborhood representatives are primed by knowing you. Keep an eye on your local government's calendar. Public meetings are open to the public, but are often poorly attended by the public; it's not ideal on one hand, but on the other, one group can dominate the public input with a few or sometimes even one or two citizen attendees. Make it your group.

We have so many issues to address that an organization like the BTA needs to cherry pick to keep the workload under control. They're going after the low hanging fruit. Even that isn't easy; just starting out and all as the cycling community is against a well organized, well funded lobbying community with most of a century's head start against us. So they're sticking to the issues that have well defined solutions in need of the professional support they can provide.

Looking at the entire picture, this bikey task is revolutionary in scale. The BTA's resources, not so much. The most important thing we can do as a cycling community to help is to get involved. You and me, we're the front line, the most effective advocates in a modern climate of armchair advocacy when we attend county, city, project, and neighborhood meetings and open houses.

</soap box>
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:25 PM
bikerinNE bikerinNE is offline
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Originally Posted by Haven_kd7yct View Post
Their email newsletter focuses only on things that are occurring within Portland's boundaries, never anything happening in, say, Tigard, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Wilsonville, Canby, Salem, Corvallis, Eugene, Bend...
I believe the BTA had a meeting held in Bend, Oregon last year.


Last edited by bikerinNE; 05-28-2009 at 07:28 PM. Reason: To add link to the story of the BTA in Bend, Oregon
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