As someone who is concerned about bike safety, and the livability of our cities, it was very unsettling to listen to Mr. Garrett’s talk and it’s obvious to me that bicycles do not figure into ODOT’s priorities at all.
The word “bicycle” did not even appear in his 26 slide presentation and he made only two mentions of bicycles. One of those was to say that bicycles, “probably shouldn’t be riding on Powell, they should take Hawthorne instead.” Hmmm. Then maybe cars shouldn’t be allowed on Tillamook or Clinton.
Now, I’m not an expert on these matters, but shouldn’t ODOT be more bike-friendly? After all, here is their mission statement:
“Proved a safe, efficient transportation system that supports economic opportunity and livable communities for Oregonians.”
They also list safety as their number one priority. Hmmm. I wonder about this every time I ride my bike over the St. Johns Bridge.
When pressed about why ODOT decided to make the bridge completely unsafe for bikes, Mr. Garrett said they could have had more “conversations” about it, but he made a decision and that was that. End of story. We should just get over it. Gee, some conversation huh?
When he tried to say they made the sidewalks on the bridge safer for bikes I raised my hand:
“But isn’t it true that the sidewalks are not even wide enough to be considered multi-use paths?”
“Yes that’s technically true.”
“So, even though you just mentioned how bikes could use the sidewalks, technically we are not legally allowed to do so! The bottom line is that bikes have no safe access the St. Johns Bridge at all!” (insert my emotions flaring and having the class facilitator step in to calm me down…oops).
Suffice it to say, it was very frustrating.
It was also ironic that while I’m listening to the most bike-unfriendly (yet most powerful) transportation agency in the state, a delegation of Portland planning and transportation advocates is in Amsterdam, where bikes are completely embraced, understood and respected as not only a viable mode, but one that shows great promise for a safe, efficient, healthy future for our cities.
Sorry for such a rant, but ODOT is very powerful and they are the gatekeepers to a ton of federal money. So when they show such a blatant disregard for bicycles I get worried. Hopefully I’m wrong and I can be educated about all the great things ODOT is doing (or plans on doing) for bikes. Anyone care to enlighten me?