Most city-to-city transportation comparisons are very simple: 64 percent of trips by car, 11 percent by bike, and so on.
But those broad numbers are really just blankets that have been thrown over the intricate topography of transportation choices that’s actually at work in our daily lives. To really understand how cities work, you also have to look at a second factor: How far are people going?
A motherlode of newly released data has revealed those patterns for Portlanders for the first time.
connects parking and climate policy.
Because its role in shaping transportation happens mostly behind the scenes, it’s sometimes easy to think that Metro is dedicated entirely to the distribution of nostrums.
But the truth is that Metro, the only directly elected regional government in the country, is a major force behind Portland’s success as a city. In much of the United States, the metropolitan planning organization — Metro’s peer — is the belly of the beast. These are the bodies that generate the obviously ridiculous traffic projections that are used to justify freeway construction and spend their federal Clean Air Act allowances on new turn lanes that supposedly reduce congestion but actually accelerate sprawl.
Just north of Forest Park in northwest Portland lies 1,300 undeveloped acres spread across four separate properties. The land, which was historically a logging area and can be currently accessed from either Skyline or McNamee roads, is owned by Metro and is known as the North Tualatin Mountains natural area.
Metro is embarking on a planning process to figure out what to do on the land and there’s a great opportunity to include bicycle access in the equation. Advocates have been fighting for years to improve bike access in Forest Park but have made frustratingly slow progress.
The Tualatin Mountains natural area offers a fresh start and a new political context since it’s under Metro jurisdiction and not managed by the City of Portland (the current Parks Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, has all but shelved the Forest Park debate calling for “a citywide Master Plan for cycling recreation… prior to embarking on individual projects.”).
Metro is in the home stretch in updating their Regional Transportation Plan. The RTP is the major transportation plan of our region’s road and transit network that includes an influential project list and sets investment priorities for the next 25 years. Before a final version is drawn up later this year, Metro needs to hear more citizen input to help them fine-tune priorities and tweak policy language so that it aligns more closely with the people who will be most impacted by it (all of us).
To help kick off the comment period for the RTP, Metro has launched a new online survey. One part of the survey is an interesting exercise that turns everyone into a budget-maker.
Here’s the exercise: (more…)
The Portland area’s regional government is recruiting three volunteers to join one of the most powerful transportation committees in town.
Metro’s Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee has three openings starting in January. The committee, which is divided between transportation professionals and community members, advises the elected Metro council and other bodies on many transportation investment priorities and policies.
“Since Metro seems to be easily cowed by the minority nowadays, and we have mayors who think it’s okay to flout the law, it’s time for a lawsuit.”
— Rex Burkholder, former Metro councilor
As we shared on Wednesday, the mayors of 21 of the 25 cities represented by Metro have signed a letter that calls for changes to a draft version of the Regional Active Transportation Plan (ATP) that would render it powerless. They say the wording in the plan is too strong, that it’s a “mandate”, and that if it’s absorbed into the all-powerful Regional Transportation Plan, the biking and walking projects in the ATP would wrestle precious funding from other road projects.
Yesterday that topic came up again at a meeting of regional leaders at Metro headquarters. Remember, at issue here is only a non-binding “resolution of acknowledgment” for work done on the plan thus far. Since the plan is being developed with some federal funding, a vote by Metro council to acknowledge its progress is required by the feds. But this vote has struck fear in the hearts of mayors from suburban cities surrounding Portland. What are they afraid of? Why do they want to delay this plan and weaken its language? (more…)
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Mayors from 22 of the 25 cities represented by Metro are pushing to make the Regional Active Transportation Plan (ATP) relatively powerless. The plan has been in the making for over two years, and Metro has been showing off the 70-page review draft via public open houses since May.
Lake McTighe, the Metro project manager in charge of the ATP, had planned to have a resolution pass by Metro Council by next month that would have moved the plan to its next step toward implementation. However, a power struggle between Metro and regional mayors became evident last month as they feared the plan would give Metro too much power and would force their hand in implementing new bicycle pathways, walking facilities, and other active transportation projects.
as envisioned in Metro’s plan.
Metro will host an open house tomorrow (5/23) for their Regional Active Transportation Plan. The plan will be the region’s first specifically tailored to bicycling, walking and access to transit. The planning effort has been underway for well over a year and is set to wrap up by the end of next month. In summer of 2014 the plan’s recommendations and a list of prioritized projects will be proposed for adoptions into the Regional Transportation Plan.
The plan’s ambitious scope includes: the creation of a new set of design guidelines for bicycle facilities; an update to regional biking and walking maps; integration of the existing active transportation network; identification of a network of ‘Regional Bicycle Parkways’; a recommendation of strategies for implementation, and more.
In other words, this is a big deal. As its projects get adopted into the RTP, Metro’s Regional Active Transportation Plan will give regional policymakers the crucial political breathing room and decision-making framework they need to make real and significant investments that could vastly improve bicycling conditions.