Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Mayor says no to the Bicycle Master Plan

Posted by on April 24th, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Mayor Tom Potter has proposed
a not-so-bike-friendly budget.
File photo: 10/19/06

Last year, Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams received $50,000 to fund the first stages of Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan Update process. But this year, Adams’ office was surprised to see that the Mayor has decided to not continue funding this project.

In his latest proposed budget (released on 4/16) Mayor Potter chose to not set aside the $100,000 that Adams requested in order to continue the work on the Bicycle Master Plan Update.

The request was part of $400,000 in bicycle-related funding that was folded into Adams’ Safe Streets Initiative.

According to John Rist in PDOT’s business and finance office, of that $400,000, the Mayor has decided to only fund $150,000 in bicycle safety improvements (they asked for $300,000) and the Bicycle Master Plan Update got nothing.

Adams’ Senior Policy Director Roland Chlapowski said the decision by the Mayor was, “a bit of a surprise”. Chlapowski says they were under the assumption that last year’s funding was just the first half and that the project would continue to be funded,

“We thought it was clear that this (the Bicycle Master Plan Update) was a multi-year endeavor…that there was an overall understanding that the projects that were started last year would not get cut.”

The news has prompted the BTA to send an action alert to their members and rumors are flying as to what led to the Mayor’s decision.

Whatever the reason is, it’s crucial to make sure the Mayor understands how important the Bicycle Master Plan Update process is to the future health and livability of this city.

At this point, there are two things we can do:

1) Contact the Mayor’s office and encourage him to make a change to his budget proposal. You can also email the Mayor’s Public Advocate, Jeremy Van Keuren at jvankeuren@ci.portland.or.us, or call (503) 823-4120.

2) If the Mayor does not change his proposed budget, we need to contact the other commissioners, who will ultimately vote on his proposed budget at City Council. We must ask them to propose an amendment to the budget that includes funding for the Bicycle Master Plan Update.

    Dan Salztman – dsaltzman@ci.portland.or.us
    Erik Sten – erik@ci.portland.or.us
    Randy Leonard – rleonard@ci.portland.or.us

Stay tuned for more developments.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis April 24, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I just left Jeremy Van Keuren a voicemail expressing my disappointment with the Mayor’s decision and asking for an explanation.

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  • freddy April 24, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Outrageous! I voted for Potter because he earned the endorsement of Bike Walk Vote and because he at least claimed to be a cyclist. I can’t believe he doesn’t see the benefit to Portland of continuing to innovate … or at least bring us up to date. I sent my message too.

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  • Martha R April 24, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Well that’s a slap in the face.

    I’m about to send off a few emails — this is way too important, and everyone who reads this and lives in Portland should take the time to call or email or write.

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  • rainperimeter April 24, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I emailed Van Keuren…

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  • Todd April 24, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I guess Mayor Potter WAS voted in as the ‘recumbent mayor’, now he is JUST an ‘incumbent’ mayor.

    He started out with such bicycling hope – riding with us at the first critical mass of his administration.

    And now this. Perhaps the last ‘spoke’ that broke the camel’s back.

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  • Matt Picio April 24, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Sent the following:

    Mayor Potter,

    My understanding from postings made on bikeportland.org and the BTA’s website is that your office is going to cut funding for the Platinum Bike Master Plan Update. I believe this is a grave mistake, and strongly urge you to restore the $150,000 in funding required to complete the plan.

    Portland is known for being the best cycling city in the United States and in North America. This is no accident. In the past 15 years, your predecessors have funded a number of programs which have greatly enhanced usage of bicycles and the liveability of this city. The investment has been a wise one indeed – even though bicycle funding represents only 1% of Portland’s transportation budget, it services somewhere between 5% and 7% of all transportation trips. Bicycle commuters fight congestion by keeping thousands of vehicles off our already-crowded streets. I myself commute by bike 3-5 days per week, a 12-mile commute utilizing bike lanes, bike boulevards and the Springwater Trail. The fantastic infrastructure that has been built to-date has made this much easier than it would be otherwise. With the accomplishments the city has made, it would be easy to rest on our metaphorical laurels. I think that would be a mistake.

    The region, and the city, are growing. Metro projects we will add another million people in the next 25 years. That means a lot more traffic, and handling that traffic means money. Cutting funding for the bike plan saves us $150,000 now, but how much will it cost us in the long run? Your own transportation department’s survey shows that 60% of the people out there would consider commuting by bike if it were perceived to be safer. If Portland spends the money now to figure out how to make cycling in the city safer, friendlier, and more effective (the goals of the bike plan), then we can motivate a number of those people to commute by bike. If even 1/4 of those who say they’d like to bike actually start doing it, we’ll free up a lot of road capacity, allowing more growth without having to build new roads. Building new roads is expensive, and with Measure 37, making zoning changes and condemning land has gotten potentially a lot more expensive. We need alternatives. Portland is known for alternatives. Your office has the opportunity to provide leadership towards funding those alternatives and making them happen. We’ve seen the future of cars – it’s called Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta. Despite miles of roads, traffic conditions in these cities are still horrendous. While we have nowhere near that kind of density, we are a growing metropolitan area, and as the hub of that area, Portland will see many of the same effects.

    We need bold plans and bold goals to provide alternatives and solutions that make the best use of limited funds. The Platinum Bike Master Plan Update is one of those bold plans. I strongly urge you to restore funding to this program.

    Thank you for your time,

    Matthew P. Picio

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  • Matt Picio April 24, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    The part that really gets me is that the city accepted the proposal and recommendations of the Peak Oil Task Force. If you believe in Peak Oil, how can you *not* fully fund alternatives like cycling?

    The cynical side of me wants to believe this has something to do with Mayor Potter’s reported “feud” with Commissioner Adams.

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  • freddy April 24, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    1. “I guess Mayor Potter WAS voted in as the ‘recumbent mayor’, now he is JUST an ‘incumbent’ mayor.” LOL!!!

    2. Matt Picio, you are my new letter-writing hero. That letter was just totally kick ass.

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  • Paul Cone April 24, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Matt and others,

    Be careful about how you reference what you called the “60% of the people out there [who] would consider commuting”. There was no survey done to come up with this number. Roger Geller, when asked last week at the brown bag session, where these and the other numbers on the “Four Types of Transportation Cyclists in Portland” chart came from, said that the number basically came out of his head, i.e. it’s an educated guess, not a “transportation department survey”. Even though I’m sure most readers here would agree with that opinion, and in my personal opinion, quite possibly a real survey would back it up, let’s be careful what we present as fact in making our arguments. Verifiable facts (as opposed to anecdotes) is often what wins these sort of debates.

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  • Kirsty April 24, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    I’ll be writing my letter of support for the Bicycle Master Plan funding to the Mayor this evening.

    Sidenote to Paul Cone – I was the girl at the brown bag session that asked Roger whether those categories of biker statistics were factual or annecdotal.

    Roger replied by saying that initially the statistics (including the 63% of people wanting to bike but worried about safety) pretty much “came out of his head” and were annecdotal, but that *subsequent* later research/data now thoroughly supports these statistics!

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  • Jim April 24, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, the BTA did a survey that sorted folks into the “fearless”, “would consider commuting” etc. catagories. Are you sure he pulled that out of his hat?

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  • BURR April 24, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    The Mayor’s answer to planning further improvements for bicyclists in Portland is henceforth known as ‘the Barnum and Balzer initiative’.

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  • Jonathan Maus April 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Great to know everyone is contacting the Mayor but I think this will come down to a commissioner proposing an amendment.

    …so don’t forget to CC your message to the commissioners!

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis April 24, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    And people scoffed when I said the Mayor was anti-bike. But stupid is as stupid does.

    And to resolve this anecdotal/survey debate about the “interested but concerned” group, I recommend reading Jonathan’s earlier post today titled, “PDOT Shares Summary of Existing Conditions.”

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  • Jessica Roberts April 24, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Some stats that might be enlightening:

    In 2006, a survey of residents of inner Northeast and Southeast (performed by Campbell Delong Resources for PDOT’s SmartTrips program) found the following:

    – 84% of residents agreed that bikes provide a good means of basic transportation

    – 56 % want to ride a bike more often but have trouble fitting it into their lifestyle

    – 43% agreed that riding a bike is an important part of their lifestyle

    Additionally, in 2005, 500 face to face interviews of North Portland residents (performed by SocialData America for PDOT’s North Portland TravelSmart project) showed that:

    – If conflicts arise between cars and bicycles, 80% of surveyed residents think that preferential treatment should be given to bicycles, to the disadvantage of cars

    – 88% think that further developing the bikeway network and facilities is an effective means for solving traffic problems

    – 72% “definitely” think that more money should be spent expanding bicycle routes and information

    – 76% “definitely” think politicians should be more concerned with bike routes, facilities and information

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  • Matt Picio April 24, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks, A_O, that was exactly where I grabbed my “60%” number from.

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  • Matt Picio April 24, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Hey, Jonathan – you don’t have “Commissioner Sam” in the list of Commish’s to contact:


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  • Martha S. April 24, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Well, I sent an email. This is just so disappointing to hear. Well, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to make difference on this.

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  • […] According to BikePortland.org Last year, Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams received $50,000 to fund the first stages of Portland’s Bicycle Master Plan Update process. But this year, Adams’ office was surprised to see that the Mayor has decided to not continue funding this project. […]

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  • Todd April 24, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Or perhaps mayor Potter is doing us ALL a favor…to either get us all energized to get more funds for this effort OR to step back and ask do ‘we’ really need a separate Bike [only] Plan when every street should be bike friendly.

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  • Burr April 24, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    I think this is all political. Just vote NO on Charter Reform, we don’t want to be giving this guy any more power than necessary.

    My prediction: there will be compromises on the budget and funding for the bike master plan will be restored. But not without public support.

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  • Burr April 24, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    I’ll expand on what I said in the other thread: I think this is all political. Maybe payback for Sam voting against Potter so many times, or for Bud Clark opposing Charter Reform.

    My prediction: there will be compromises on the budget and funding for the bike master plan will be restored. But not without public support.

    Also, he’s a former police chief and probably supports the cops in the recent stings, and is tired of hearing complaints.

    Just vote NO on Charter Reform, we don’t want to be giving this guy any more power than necessary.

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  • Randy April 24, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Mr. Mayor wake up and see the gold in your city: bikes. It’s your bikers and green buildings that are helping Portland stay partially green. Portland will remain pseudo-green as long as I cough up a lung when riding downtown (it’s your diesel fumes Trimet!!!). Contrary to all the national praise, Portland will remain pseudo-green until we clean up the Willamette and our air. The easiest way to clean up the air is to pay people to leave their cars at home and promote bike use.

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  • […] * Portland, please contact the mayor and tell him not to cut funding for our bicycle programs. We’ve never had so many cyclists on the streets, we need more routes, more lanes, more helmets. […]

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  • Curt Dewees April 25, 2007 at 8:50 am

    This was a political decision, and that’s what politicians do–they try to balance many different competing interests, each vying for a slice of the pie, and try to come up with a good, workable compromise.

    Today’s listing of all the road & safety projects that DID get funded goes a long way towards explaining the difficulty the Mayor (or any politician, for that matter) has in trying to find the right balance among various competing interests.

    The cynical side of me also thinks that [just maybe] the Mayor could also be sending a subtle message to the bike community: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” (Maybe Mayor Potter and Jeremy have grown a little weary of listening to all those complaints from bicyclists getting tickets for blowing through stop signs.)

    And remember, the Mayor doesn’t have the final say in this budget proposal; it needs to pass City Council with at least three votes. We can still contact them other City Councilors and ask them to fully restore the Bicycle Master PLan funding.

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  • Matt Picio April 25, 2007 at 8:55 am

    If I were motivated enough to join that forum, I’d say “yes, yes, and yes”.

    We *do* need more routes. There are more cyclists each year, and either the motorists have to accomodate us, or provide us our own road network that allows us as much access as the current network affords cars.

    The city likes to manage growth. They do it because if there are no rules, then anyone can do whatever the heck they want. Well, if you don’t fund bicycle programs, and you don’t manage the growth in the number of bicyclists, then don’t complain about what those cyclists do.

    Take responsibility, or reap the consequences. If the city doesn’t provide us with safe routes to ride, we’ll just take the lane, as is our right under Oregon law.

    As for my “yes” to helmets, I mean that I encourage programs that provide helmets. Whether people actually take and wear them is up to them.

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  • West Cougar April 25, 2007 at 9:07 am

    If the Mayor wants to cut the Bike Master Planning from the budget, then as a citizen I shall vote against his proposal to change the city charter giving him more power.

    I think of it as a no-confidence vote by the public.

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  • JCW April 25, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for letting us know about this issue – I also sent an email.

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  • Super Mario April 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    It is a shame that the mayor doesn’t try and find a way to keep cyclists safe. I ride a bike because cars are too expensive and annoying to park. Now I am at greater risk of being hit by one of these expensive modern fancy horseless carriages. Thanks Mayor Potter! I also noticed that there was no funding for building super robots to keep us safe from an impending alien attack. I’m writing an email for sure!

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  • nick April 25, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    I wrote emails to all of the above, and received a POSITIVE response from Randy Leonard in less than an hour.

    No promises, but positive nonetheless.

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  • sh April 26, 2007 at 9:54 am

    From Saltzman’s office (NOTE INPUT OPPORTUNITY ON THE 1OTH):

    Excellent grassroots activism, such as your email, has placed this on Dan’s radar and he’ll be tracking it closely as City Council moves to final adoption of the City’s budget. A Community Budget Hearing is scheduled for the evening of May 10th at Robert Gray Middle School and this will be an opportunity for the public to comment on the budget. More information can be found at http://www.portlandonline.com.

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  • […] Posted by jds on April 26th, 2007 This week, Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org reported that the Mayor of Portland had left out continued funding of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan Update process. As a citizen who prefers to get around town by bike, I care about this issue. Up to this point, the process has been rolling since last year and would go a long way to enable efforts to come up with new, creative solutions to some of Portland’s transportation problems. […]

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  • Hawthorne Rider April 27, 2007 at 11:46 am

    As SH notes, there is a way to give input on this on Thurs, May 10th at the Community Budget Hearing. The hearing is from 6:30-8:30pm at Robert Gray Middle School ( 5505 SW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97239). The public will be able to sign up for testimony (3 minutes/person). If you cannot attend, you can submit electronic testimony from May 4-14 via http://www.portlandonline.com/communitybudget. More info about the hearing is also available here.

    City Council will vote on the Mayor’s proposed budget on May 16th, so it is really important that they hear from the public before that date. It is quite often that a significant public outcry can cause changes in the proposed budget (ex: Buckman Pool re-opening) – the City’s budget is not set in stone until June 21 – so you all do have the opportunity to affect this!!!

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