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5 lessons for Portland in Seattle’s big bike-friendly ballot issue

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
LevyMapFINAL

A few miles up the road, Portland’s big-sister city is doing something Portland hasn’t yet: charting a viable path to paying for its transportation goals.

The nine-year, $900 million “Move Seattle” property tax levy proposed Wednesday by Mayor Ed Murray would include (among many other things) 50 miles of protected bike lanes and 60 miles of neighborhood greenways over nine years. That’s about half of the projects that Seattle’s 20-year bike plan refers to as parts of the “citywide network.”

For comparison’s sake, Portland’s “paused” street fund proposal included, at one point, an estimated 14-20 miles of protected bike lanes and 40-50 miles of greenways over 10 years. But the possible lessons here for Portland aren’t just about scale (Seattle is bigger by most measures, after all) and the story here isn’t just that Seattle is succeeding where we aren’t (Seattle has a long way to go, after all).

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Amtrak’s trains keep getting bike-friendlier, but its buses aren’t keeping up

Friday, February 20th, 2015
bikes on Amtrak bus
It’s sometimes possible to talk bikes onto an Amtrak
bus, but the variety of contractors is an obstacle.
(Photo: Mark Hogan)

As Amtrak invests in improving its trains to carry bikes, some customers are warning that Amtrak’s buses are falling behind.

The Amtrak Cascades line, between Eugene and Vancouver BC, is both one of the most-ridden regional rail lines in the country and maybe the bike-friendliest. For $5 on top of your fare, you can easily check an unboxed bike to most stops on the line and reclaim it like any other bit of luggage.

The service has been so popular that the hooks in Amtrak’s baggage cars started filling up. So two years ago, the Cascades added more hooks, boosting its bike capacity by 67 percent.

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Youth Bike Summit will bring Portlanders to Seattle next week

Thursday, February 5th, 2015
pasqualina-youth
Youth Bike Director Pasqualina Azzarello
speaking at the 2012 National Bike Summit.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you think about it, there’s little question about which disenfranchised minority has the most to gain from good bicycling: kids.

A national conference for people interested in the education, advocacy and organizing of young people who are interested in bicycling is about to kick off just up the road from Portland.

The annual Youth Bike Summit has taken place in New York City for the last four years, but this year Seattle will host its first year “on the road.” Portlanders will be presenting on three of this year’s panels: one by publishers/creators Elly Blue and Joe Biel called “Making Change,” and one from the Multnomah Youth Commission called “Youth Advocacy Initiatives: Transit Justice through Youth Organizing” and one by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and MYC called “Getting What You Want: Advocate.”

The City of Portland is sending Janis McDonald as a representative of their Safe Routes to Schools program.

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Seattle’s friendliest insurgent group visits Portland, eager for wisdom and dispensing their own

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
The crew from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Phyllis Porter of Rainier Valley Greenways, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Executive Director Cathy Tuttle and Seattle City Councilor Sally Bagshaw on a visit to Portland Sunday.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Over beers at the Hopworks Bike Bar happy hour Saturday, Seattle City Councilor Sally Bagshaw didn’t bother dithering over whether Portland’s Sunday Parkways street festivals are an idea worth spending city money on.

“We are determined to,” she said, waving dismissively at the question.

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In Washington state, two election results worth watching

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
ravenna_paving_event_32812 019
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, pictured here last year,
went down hard in Tuesday’s elections.
(Photo: Seattle DOT)

In Portland, voters mostly take odd-numbered years off. But two races to Portland’s north ended last night in interesting ways, for better or worse.

In Seattle, the deeply bike-friendly incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn lost in a 56-43 rout. And closer to home in Vancouver, Wash, the bike-and-transit-friendly but also Columbia River Crossing-supporting incumbent Mayor Tim Leavitt is headed to a second term.

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Census: Portland biking stalls for fifth year while other cities climb

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Source: Census American Community Survey. Image by BikePortland.

Portland’s hard-won status as “America’s bike capital” hasn’t looked less secure since it claimed the title in 2005.

The number of Portlanders who get to work primarily by bike was statistically unchanged in 2012, ticking from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent of the city’s working population. Across the whole Portland metro area, bike use held at 2.3 percent.

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Dispatch from Disaster Relief Trials in Seattle

Monday, June 24th, 2013
Portlander Mike Cobb competed at the
Seattle Disaster Relief Trials.
(Photo by Fred Bretsch – FEMA Region 10)

Seattle cargo bike advocates held their first Disaster Relief Trials event over the weekend. The event sprung up thanks to inspiration from Portland’s event of the same name that was held last year. Portlander Mike Cobb traveled north for the event and sent back a few photos and notes…

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Portland-based Alta wins Seattle bike share contract

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has done it again. They’ve been chosen to operate a 500 bike, 50 station bike share system in Seattle. The announcement was made today by Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS). According to a press release, Alta will work with PSBS to plan, launch and sustain a bike share network that will launch in Seattle by spring 2014 and then expand throughout the Puget Sound region.

PSBS Executive Director Holly Houser wrote on the company’s Facebook page today, “We have been and continue to be impressed with Alta’s approach to bike share and their ability to partner with cities and successfully deliver location-specific systems.” (more…)

Survey: Majority of Seattleites like bikes, ride bikes, want more bikes

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
Scenes from the streets in Seattle-2.jpg
Seattle wants more of them.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

An ongoing “bike backlash” and “war on cars” pushed by the local media, biking as a wedge-issue in political campaigns, fear from politicians about doing “too much” for bikes — sounds like Portland right? Well, Seattle (not to mention New York City and many others) suffers from the same illusion. Now, a new survey commissioned by Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club could help tamp down this pervasive — yet false — narrative.

According to a memo (PDF) about the survey from public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, the results provide, “absolutely no evidence of widespread anti-cycling sentiment in Seattle.” The memo goes on to explain that (among other things) 78% of those surveyed ride a bike at least once a year, 45% ride monthly, and 60% say they’d like to ride more*.

While the perception of people who ride bikes has become the butt of jokes, the Seattle survey found that people, “overwhelmingly report positive feelings towards the City’s bicyclists.” 78% say they have a “favorable opinion” of people who ride bikes, including 38% who said “very favorable” (just 19% said their opinions of people who ride are “unfavorable”). (more…)

Streetcar/bikeway integration porn from Seattle

Friday, April 13th, 2012
A visualization of plans at Broadway and Marion streets in Seattle as part of their First Hill Streetcar project that breaks ground this month.
(Graphics: Alta Planning + Design and Fat Pencil Studio)

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