Karla Keller, ODOT’s Maintenance Manager for Portland, brought along all sorts of stuff for the presentation of her proposal to ban bicycles on metro area highways. She passed out 18 pages of impressive, full-color aerial photos, maps, and internal memos. But unfortunately she forgot the most important thing of all…sensible justification for her proposal.
Due to a complete lack of evidence, logic, and public review, Keller’s presentation was met with serious skepticism by members of the Oregon Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (OPBAC) and the public who packed a meeting room at City Hall last Friday.
Lawyer Mark Ginsberg put it best when, during his testimony he said, “I think what we have here is a solution that’s looking for a problem.”
To Karla’s credit, she did reiterate that this was just a draft and that “it’s not an all or nothing proposal.” I would say it’s a nothing proposal and that if Keller wants to really push this thing, she’ll need to start by first finding a problem and then working with the community on the solution.
Beyond the proposal, this episode has hurt ODOT’s PR and credibility in the bike community. That’s too bad because I think we can both gain much more by working together. But when stuff like this happens it just widens the chasm of cooperation.
I mean come on, a pre-emptive ban on roads that are currently open to bikes with no evidence or public input? Sheesh.
Would the public even have really known about this if it weren’t for posts on this site? How can an “advisory committee” truly represent the citizens if the citizens don’t know what’s going on? These are the issues that concern me. I just wish we had this kind of engangement and impact during the St. Johns Bridge debacle. OK, I digress.
The good news is that I finally got a chance to meet ODOT’s bike and ped coordinator, Michael Ronkin (see photo). He’s seems like a good guy and has participated on this site in the past. It was also a good chance for me to learn more about the OPBAC and the inner workings of the immense organism that is ODOT.
I think bicycles are slowly but surely finding a voice in ODOT’s transportation planning. But, as this episode demonstrates, we must stay vigilant and remind them that we’re here and we deserve their respect.