Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 25th, 2007 at 4:36 pm
To Portland’s bike insiders, savvy advocates, BTA members, and regular readers of this site, the Bicycle Master Plan Update process is nothing new. We’ve been getting excited about it for months. There have been brown bag discussions, monthly rides, steering committee meetings, a lot of coverage on this site, and so on.
But the same might not be true of the Mayor’s office.
I think there’s a real possibility that the Bike Master Plan is not as well known in his office as we might assume. In fact, I doubt many people in City Hall (outside of Commissioner Adams’ office) knew much about it before the barrage of calls and emails in the last few days.
Perhaps the Mayor’s decision to cut funding for this process was merely an oversight? I know it might be a blow to our ego that our Master Plan Update wasn’t a budget shoe-in, but hear me out.
Even though we’ve been discussing it for a while now, the effort is in its early stages. There have been no briefings on it in City Council, there was not a strong voice for bicycling on the Community Budget Advisory Board (in fact, in a recent exercise, they chose to not prioritize the Master Plan Update expenditure), and the official Open Houses don’t start until June.
In addition, funds for the Bike Master Plan Update ($100,000) were only a minuscule portion of a much larger Safe Streets Initiative, which included 30 different requests for a total of $10.8 million in expenditures.
This funding request was also just one of hundreds that poured into the Mayor’s office from City Bureaus and non-profit groups when news was made of $32 million ($19 million from PDOT) in one-time funds being available.
According to one City staffer, this flood of requests was likely “overwhelming” for the Mayor’s budget team and it was definitely possible that $100,000 for the Bike Master Plan could have been overlooked.
I’ve also heard from various sources that the Mayor, as late as just a few weeks ago, had very limited knowledge of what exactly the Bicycle Master Plan Update was all about. This may be why one person told me this morning that Mayor Potter’s office was “caught off-guard” by the torrent of emails and phone calls this issue has generated.
My hunch is that the Mayor’s office just assumed the Bike Master Plan was simply another wonky planning exercise, and that they severely underestimated the support for the plan in the community and the high level of knowledge many people (outside of PDOT cubicles) have for it.
Maybe sometimes we get so wrapped up in our bike world we just assume everyone else “gets it”, but perhaps in the future we’ll do a better job making sure.