BTA gets grant for bike boulevards

[via PedalPushers]

The Bikes Belong Coalition just announced that the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) will receive a $5,000 grant to assist in their bike boulevard campaign. According to the official announcement, the money will go to:

“…help promote and develop their campaign for Bicycle Boulevards in Portland. These low-traffic roadways will serve as a way to prioritize bicycle traffic by retrofitting existing streets with bike-friendly treatments rather than building separate, off-street facilities.”

Obviously $5,000 is not a ton of money, but there’s more to it than that. This positive PR gives the BTA momentum to go after more donations and grants, not to mention it’s a nice feather in their cap.

Seems like bike boulevards are a hot topic among bike advocates and planners these days. PDOT recently asked the Federal Highway Administration for over $4 million to construct new ones in Northeast Portland.

Still wondering what the heck bike boulevards are? Here are some helpful links:

And in other Bikes Belong grant news….last February the City of Gresham (just east of Portland) was awarded a $7,500 grant to help construct part of the Gresham/Fairview Trail. This trail in a north-south route that will eventually connect a major gap between two existing popular trails, Marine Drive and the Springwater Corridor Trail.

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Ethan
Ethan
16 years ago

BikePortland breaks this story before the BTA’s own website . . . what a scoop!

Seriously though, this is news? Isn’t PDOT’s application for funds (4 million) ample evidence that this is NOT an area in critical need of advocacy.

I noticed that bike lanes on the St Johns bridge is on their top 40 wish list, charming. I am sending my BTA renewal membership funds to BikePortland.org.

Evan Manvel
16 years ago

First, hat tip to Jonathan Maus. He does an awesome job at creating buzz, breaking the story, etc. We at the BTA could try to keep up or outdo him, but why would we want to? He provides a service, and we’re happy to have it out there (and yes, we often have news not covered by BikePortland at btablog.org).

Second, we want to release a full story about bike boulevards when we release it. The grant is great, but we want to make sure people can dig into the details of our plan and get involved. We’re lining up other funding to be able to do that, and will release more complete info next month.

Third, PDOT’s application has not been approved, is a couple years out, etc. They’re applying for money to build boulevards, the BTA is receiving money to engage the community to make sure what’s built is great and supported by the community. The two pieces go together.

Fourth, most folks who’ve looked at the question of “how do we get more people biking, and people biking to be happier and safer,” comes to the answer: low-traffic facilities. Bike boulevards are the low-cost and quick way to get those done, and should be supplemented by multiuse paths. This is the answer we got from over 900 surveys of cyclists. It’s hard to know what’s more critical than this.

I don’t know what your “charming” comment is about the St. Johns Bridge, but we put our heart and soul into that effort and we haven’t given up. The St. Johns is the only bridge for six miles, and so, yes, it’s important that we have good facilities on it for all modes.

I’m glad that you’re supporting BikePortland — we all love it. That said, there are some things Jonathan can’t do, and the BTA can. I hope you’ll continue to support both organizations.

Warm regards,

Evan Manvel
Executive Director, BTA

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
16 years ago

I really don’t deserve any credit for breaking this story. I just happened to see the headline on one of my customized Google News feeds via Pedal Pushers Online News, a free press release distribution service.

Bikes Belong apparently put the press release online before their web people got around to posting it!

And Ethan, thanks for the donation and kind words but I wish you hadn’t put me in such an awkward position with the BTA.

They do their thing and I do my thing; there are no sides to choose. The irony is that your donation will actually help me help them (by spreading the word on their news and events)…so we all win.

Ethan
Ethan
16 years ago

Jonathan,

Sorry if I put you in a weird spot. My personal algebra is my own, and really the only one I can share. Lunatic or canary in the coal mine, I still get to make my own observations.

Evan’s comments are all accurate and valid. The BTA does good work, and there are numerous people over there with the very best of intentions. That said my PERCEPTION is that of an established organization that has now arrived at a place where they seldom do anything groundbreaking or “unsafe”. As a former employee of United Way, the organization that wrote the book on this theme, I see all the signs. Often the response of these “mature” organizations to criticisms of this sort is to restate the main organizational talking points (see above), which always sound positive and important. How could you not support the great things they espouse? Spin is spin . . . same game. As with United Way, they are also quite free to ignore public perception for as long as they choose.

These things get to be like the 300 lb gorilla in the room, that nobody dares to talk about (except privately) . . . and the BTA is not alone in this. The relevance and/or wisdom of CM rides (which you recently addressed), the last decade at the CCC . . . the BTA being “your mom’s Oldsmobile” . . . discussion of these things gets to be taboo. After two decades of work, there is ample evidence that many officials at the state and local level have not received the BTA “memo”. My St John’s Bridge comment was really aimed at just pointing out that when the BTA began they probably would have organized protest rides on the bridge and really made public and legal waves if things went south on a project of this magnitude.

What they provided instead was a very detailed explanations of why the state did not have to incorporate expanded bike facilities on the bridge (PDOTs talking points). Today they are more likely to shoot out a press release and send a representative to talk to the media than do anything major, kind of like they did after the Belmont tragedy. It’s like their membership has become a source of income, not of manpower/energy. Remember when armies of BTA volunteers manned bike parking at events throughout the year? What happened to that BTA? They have also shifted their focus towards statewide and even national advocacy, and their “blueprint” calls for more of the same. It’s not that I don’t care what happens elsewhere, I’m just more interested in what happens here.

I am not suggesting that Evan and the crew at BTA should not “stay the course”. Consensus-based advocacy, if that is what they are attempting, can be a very healthy way to get things done in divided community. I downloaded their “40 ways” report, and it’s cool to see it all written down in one place, but little in there is new information. I doubt anyone in Roger’s office read it and fell over backwards in their seat. I am sure the junket to Europe and putting it all together was fun (and no doubt there was another juicy grant involved). But after all that, who’s to say that their “top 10” is the best 10. Is that an open debate anywhere?

As an example, I think that bike parking could easily bump any number of their top 10 off the list (perhaps it did not poll well among the 900 survey respondents). But getting the city to force developers to include meaningful facilities into their designs is HARD. Getting local businesses and government to sacrifice car spaces for off-sidewalk racks (like on Mississippi) is CONTROVERSIAL . . . and it ends up down the list. I notice that your OHSU story today features parking conflicts, and that they have sent one of their letters to OHSU. A bunch of the stuff in their top 10 is very likely to happen with or without them, and when it does, they can claim meaningful success in a few years time, report back to grantors etc etc. It’s the non-profit funding game.

Lets see is they spend any political capital or publicly go after SK and Kingsley for trying to weasel out of finishing what could be the signature bike trail in our metropolitan area (there are a lot of trails on their list). Apparently they have heard about that (from your website?) and they . . . sent another letter.