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Imagining an inner Powell that would actually solve the street’s problems

by on July 26th, 2016 at 2:46 pm

powell vision
When more people use cars on a street, it becomes less and less efficient. When more people use mass transit, it becomes more and more efficient.
(Image: Nick Falbo)

The City of Portland and the State of Oregon both say they want to free more of their constituents from traffic congestion and to reduce planet-killing pollution.

There’s no mystery at all about what this would look like on inner Powell Boulevard. Everyone with some measure of power who has considered the issue knows the answer. But for some reason, the millions of public dollars spent talking about that possible answer have never resulted in a street-level picture of it.

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People keep talking about a regional transportation ballot measure for 2018

by on July 11th, 2016 at 10:32 am

build-funding-timeline
The region’s biking and walking goals (green line) are far cheaper to build than its auto or transit goals, but at the current rate they won’t be built until 2209.

As Oregon legislators start talking about the statewide transportation bill many hope to pass in 2017 (look for some reporting on that soon), others are starting to think locally, too.

We’ve heard from various sources recently that some people in the Portland area are looking toward November 2018 as the right moment for a region-wide bond measure for transportation. The idea is to create a burst of new money for public transit, roadways, biking and walking.

How much of each, you ask? Those negotiations would probably get underway over the next year.

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Speak up now for dirt trails at Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

by on June 8th, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Imagine nice biking trails here. It could happen if we speak up.(Photos: Metro)

Imagine nice biking trails here. It could happen if we speak up.
(Photos: Metro)

Imagine rolling your bike onto the MAX, getting off at the end of the Blue Line in Hillsboro, then pedaling 10 miles to some sweet singletrack. That could become reality, but only if you speak up and get involved.

About 23 miles west of Portland — and just 10 miles south of the Hillsboro Transit Center — lies 1,200 acres of undeveloped land called the Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. Before the economy tanked it was prepped for housing, but Metro purchased it in 2010 with funds from their Natural Areas Levy. And we’re lucky they did because it could someday be home to bike trails.

Metro says Chehalem Ridge is one of the largest publicly owned natural areas in Washington County. It’s about the same size as Oxbow Regional Park in east Multnomah County, yet it’s relatively unknown because of its rural location and lack of public facilities. The land itself (based on photos, I have yet to explore it) offers sweeping views of the Tualatin Valley and Coast Range to the west. Its gradual inclines, meadows, and groves of trees give it loads of potential as a place where off-road cycling could flourish.
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Highway amendment fails, Metro committee adopts spending plan

by on May 19th, 2016 at 6:02 pm

JPACT meeting.jpg
Yellow signs urging investment in safe routes near schools loomed over local elected and agency leaders as they considered how to allocate $130 million in regional flexible funds this morning at Metro headquarters.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A nearly two-year quest to raise funds for Safe Routes to Schools across the Portland region came to an end this morning. At the monthly meeting of Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, elected and agency leaders voted to support a policy direction that will inform how $130 million in federal “flexible” transportation dollars are spent.
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After delay, Metro again faces vote that pits Safe Routes money against highways

by on May 13th, 2016 at 10:33 am

Trillium Charter School bike train-24-19
A bike train at Trillium Charter Schoool
in north Portland.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The regional Metro committee that controls $130 million in federal funds continues to consider an increase in money for road widening rather than for safety improvements to streets near schools.

JPACT, the committee of 17 regional officials, was due to vote last month but decided to postpone its vote until next Thursday.

At play are $17.4 million in new money created by last year’s federal transportation bill. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other nonprofits in the For Every Kid Coalition have led a two-year campaign to secure much of that money for Safe Routes to School infrastructure across the region, which improves crosswalks, sidewalks and bikeways near schools. Their proposal would prioritize “Title 1” schools, those with higher rates of child poverty.

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Ex-Minneapolis mayor prods Portland region to rethink transportation

Metro by on April 29th, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Mayor R.T. Rybak challenged Portland-area leaders in an address at the Oregon Convention Center on April 22, 2016.(Photo: Metro)

Mayor R.T. Rybak challenged Portland-area leaders in an address at the Oregon Convention Center on April 22, 2016.
(Photo: Metro)

This article was originally submitted by Metro as a subscriber post.

Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak praised and provoked Portland-area leaders at a forum last Friday, challenging them to work together to address growing transportation dilemmas facing Portland and metropolitan regions around the country.

Rybak, a three-term mayor from 2002 to 2014, spoke with humor, humility and bluntness at a regional leadership forum at the Oregon Convention Center, kicking off Metro’s 2018 update of its regional transportation plan.
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May offers two chances to see progress of Vision Zero efforts

by on April 28th, 2016 at 1:18 pm

VISIONZEROSOCIALMEDIA_640X295Next month will be a good time to re-assess where Portland is in its quest toward Vision Zero. Two events on the calendar will bring experts and electeds to the table to share ideas and hear what you think about the current state of traffic safety.

On May 9th, the City of Portland will open up their Vision Zero Executive Committee to the public for a special listening session. This 13-member committee includes Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea, Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, PBOT Director Leah Treat, Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer, TriMet Director Neil McFarlane, two Multnomah County Commissioners, the head of Portland Fire and Rescue, a Metro councilor, and three members of the Oregon State Legislature.

They’ll provide an update on their work and then they’ll spend 45 minutes listening to the public. Anyone can show up and speak for up to two minutes. If you’d like to share your thoughts with this committee, sign up in advance by emailing visionzero@portlandoregon.gov or call (503) 823-9415. Others will be allowed to speak only if there’s enough time. Comment cards will be provided to people who don’t get a chance.
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Six neat charts from Metro’s new report about Portland-area transportation

by on April 27th, 2016 at 9:59 am

Commute vs All Trips_0
We hear more often about commute trips, but people’s trips to stores, schools, parks and friends look quite a bit different.
(All charts via Metro)

Metro is the only elected regional government in the United States. It’s also got one of the most interesting government communications teams in the country. Like MLB.com, Metro hires people to write journalism-style coverage of itself.

For its latest project, a four-part “regional snapshot” about transportation, the agency pulled out all the stops: original tilt-shift photography, narrative video, text drawn from at least a dozen interviews and a whole quiver of custom-made infographics. If you want a single overview on the basics of the region’s transportation situation, I’ve never seen a better one.

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Metro Council unanimously backs mountain biking trails north of Forest Park

by on April 21st, 2016 at 5:10 pm

tualatinmap

Portland’s regional government unanimously approved a plan to allow mountain biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area Thursday in a session that gushed with praise.

“This project took a lot more work than I thought it was going to,” said Metro Councilor Sam Chase, whose district includes the natural area just north of Forest Park, to chuckles around the room. “We have really come to a fantastic place.”

The vote came despite organized objections from a cluster of people who live nearby, in some cases with property immediately bordering the public land. As we reported last week, some of them held a protest outside Metro’s headquarters to argue that allowing mountain biking trails in the natural area would do undue harm to local wildlife.

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On eve of vote, Metro has heard all sides of Tualatin Mountains debate

by on April 20th, 2016 at 11:50 am

Metro council meeting-4.jpg
The council heard concerns and praise
at a public hearing last week.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The seven-member Metro Council will decide on Thursday whether or not to approve the creation of new off-road trails near Portland.

If their North Tualatin Mountains Trail Access Plan is passed it will set into motion the development of over six miles of new off-road routes open to bicycles. This plan would be a major milestone because the first phase of trail construction (at Burlington) will happen just 10 miles north of downtown Portland and 2.25 miles of those trails will be built specifically for bicycle riding.

“Bicycle-optimized trails,” to use Metro’s term (a.k.a. singletrack) are rare and coveted for many Portlanders who don’t want to drive a minimum of 45 minutes just to ride. Forest Park only has 1/3 mile of singletrack and Powell Butte (about 13 miles east of downtown Portland) is small and offers only limited options. Off-road cycling advocates have been trying for years (without much success) to improve bike access at Forest Park and more recently at River View Natural Area in the southwest hills. Both times the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau has pulled the rug out from under them in favor of the status quo.
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