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Regional mayors look to neuter Metro’s Regional Active Transportation Plan

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
Will it be rendered powerless?
(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.
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Region’s first-ever ‘Active Transportation Plan’ set for open house tomorrow

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
The “spiderweb” of Regional Bicycle Parkways
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.
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MTB advocates see reasons to support Metro natural areas levy

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
PUMP's Forest Park mountain bike tour
Metro levy would bring more
single track to Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Off-road bicycling advocates in the Portland area have two major reasons to throw their weight behind Metro’s parks and natural areas levy: Agency Creek and McCarthy Creek. Both parcels are called out by name in the text of Measure 26-152 as having potential for single track mountain biking.

The levy, up for a vote on May 21st, seeks to raise $50 million over five years to help Metro maintain and improve thousands of acres in natural areas and parks they’ve purchased over the years.

The Northwest Trail Alliance, a Portland-based non-profit that maintains, builds and advocates for mountain bike trails, is urging their members to support the levy. They see the Agency Creek and McCarthy Creek parcels as places where a mountain bike trail system could be built. And because they are outside of the northern border of Forest Park, bike access could be developed without any of the political baggage or controversy that has surrounded attempts at creating single track opportunities in Forest Park (which is owned and managed by the City of Portland). (more…)

Biking wins big in Metro’s $2.1 million in ‘Regional Travel Options’ grants

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
Harrison St Bike Garage at PSU
Portland State University won $150,000 to help build
a Central Campus Cycle Station that will be
even bigger and better than their Harrison
St Bike Garage shown here.

Metro just announced their grant awards for the Regional Travel Options program. The program, which funds, “projects to reduce the number of people driving alone, improve air quality and address community health issues,” doled out $2.1 million to 14 projects throughout the region. Portland won big with several important local (and bike-related) projects getting a slice of the pie. Check out some of the winners below…

Swan Island TMA – Grant award: $123,316
Go Swan Island! is a combination of programs tailored to Swan Island’s four largest employer sites and to Portland Community College’s new Swan Island Workforce Training Center. The project will use marketing strategies and new technologies to increase carpooling and capitalize on anticipated Swan Island business investments. These approaches will promote new travel options programs and $5 million in new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
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East Portland will receive $8 million for active transportation

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
BAC Bike Ride East Portland-9
Riding in east Portland
can only get better.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (and TriMet) is set to invest $8.2 million into sidewalks, neighborhood greenways and transit-safety related projects in East Portland. The funding comes from a $34 million “Regional Economic Opportunity Fund” created by a Metro committee last year.

In case you forgot, this $34 million is the result of a debate at Metro back in October about how best to spend federal “regional flexible funds.” At the last go-round, advocates (including the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) fought hard to win a 75/25 split for active transportation projects. Advocates hoped to use that same allocation method for an additional $34 million Metro is awarding this time around. However, the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) voted instead to create a new “Regional Economic Opportunity Fund” (explained further here). (more…)

$2.1 million in grants to promote ‘travel options’ available through Metro

Friday, December 21st, 2012
New I-5 Bridge-Delta Park bikeway signage-10-10
Wayfinding signage is one type of
project eligible for funding
through the grants.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Metro has announced the availability of $2.1 million in federal grants through the Regional Travel Options (RTO) program. The money is set aside for both government agencies and non-profits for small-scale projects that promote biking, walking, and taking transit.

In this past, this grant program has funded projects like TriMet’s Open Trip Planner, Sunday Streets in Wilsonville, bike shelters in Forest Grove, walking maps and wayfinding signage in Tigard, and much more.

In an announcement yesterday, Metro included a more detailed list of eligible projects:

  • Training or hiring staff or volunteers to promote transportation options to residents and employees.
  • Helping businesses promote travel options to employees and coordinating outreach activities of partner’s employer and commuter programs.
  • Supporting facilities for bicycling, walking, or running to work.
  • (more…)

A response to the pro-car perspective

Monday, November 26th, 2012

“Cars — in whatever their future form may be — are here to stay. But so are bikes, transit and walking.”
— Op-ed in The Oregonian

A strange thing happened after Metro released a major new household travel survey last month. Despite the survey showing big increases in the rate of bicycle and transit use for central city residents since the last time the survey was done in 1994, The Oregonian seemed to frame it as proof that cars are still king in our region. The O’s Commuting reporter Joseph Rose also accused Metro of trying to spin the story to further their, “smart-growth battle against the unhealthy, polluting, life-sucking automobile.”

And then, right on cue, The Oregonian Editorial Board weighed in with this headline, People like their cars, a fact that Portland planners must take into account.

To counter that framing of the issue, local transportation expert Chris Smith and real estate developer Randy Miller penned an op-ed of their own. It’s now several weeks later, but it was finally published in the opinion section of Sunday’s paper. (more…)

Metro votes against maintaining 75/25 funding split for Active Transportation

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

“… In a deep recession, people who are struggling — in addition to buses and bike paths — also need access to a job.”
— Ann Lininger, Clackamas County Commissioner

A 17-member Metro committee made up of mayors, commissioners, and transportation agency leaders around the region voted this morning to do away with a 75/25 federal funding allocation split that was hailed by active transportation advocates when it was established in 2010. At their meeting, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) voted instead to adopt a new policy direction that will have projects of all types — including massive highway expansion projects — competing against each other.

At issue is how best to dole out an additional $38 million ($37.78 to be exact) that is unspoken for out of a $147 million pot of federal grant funds administered through the federal Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) for the years 2016-18. (Note: Of this $147 million, JPACT has already decided to allocate: $48 million to transit bond payments, $26 million to Metro planning and regional programs, $26 million to “Active Transportation and Complete Streets” projects and $8.7 million to “Green Economy and Freight” projects). (more…)

BTA fights as Metro funding battle brews once again

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

“It is unacceptable to the BTA to consider overturning our current policy… The Port [of Portland]… wants this money for highway/road projects. Now is the time to say no.”
— Gerik Kransky, BTA

A funding fight is brewing at Metro over how the regional planning agency should allocate nearly $38 million in federal funds. Unlike the vast majority of transportation funds fought over by various regional interest groups, these funds are “flexible,” meaning they can be spent on nearly any type of project. With scarce dollars in play these days, the competition to snag them is intense.

The $37.78 on the table at Metro is a portion of $147 million in “regional flexible funds” they will dole out through the federal government’s Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) for the years of 2016 – 2018.
(more…)

Get a seat at the transpo table: Consider joining Metro’s TPAC

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
JPACT meeting-2
A chance to be where a lot of
important stuff happens.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Metro’s Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee, or “TPAC” as it’s known around here, is looking for four new community representatives. If you want to influence local and regional transportation projects, this is a great opportunity.

TPAC’s main role is to advise the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT), the panel of local elected bigwigs and agency execs that controls the federal transportation pursestrings in the Portland area. There are 21 people on TPAC, 15 of them are transportation professionals appointed by cities, counties, and agencies, and there are six at-large community members.

Metro says they’re looking for four new community reps who have some expertise in the following areas: (more…)

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