Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 27th, 2007 at 3:22 pm
File photo: 7/26/06
As promised, Mayor Tom Potter has released a statement about his decision to not provide funding for the Bicycle Master Plan Update process:
Office of Mayor Tom Potter
City of Portland
Thank you for emailing me about the proposed budget and the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan. For this budget, we were faced with an unprecedented number of requests and priorities. All of these requests have real merit; obviously, not all can be met.
The Portland Department of Transportation (PDOT) has struggled with significant funding issues – and will continue to struggle with funding issues in the coming years. The largest part of Transportation discretionary revenue comes from State gas tax revenue. This revenue is not indexed for inflation and has not been increased since 1993. This has left PDOT with a large gap in the amount of revenue they have available to adequately fund maintenance. In response to this gap and to ensure that essential basic maintenance is taken care of, the proposed budget dedicates a substantial portion of PDOT’s funding ($1.2 million) to institute a very short-term fix to ongoing maintenance.
Difficult decisions had to be made as to the best use of remaining dollars after funding basic maintenance. Several components of Commissioner Adams’s Safe Streets Initiative were funded, two of which focused on bicycle transportation. Included in the proposed budget were Safe Routes to School, pedestrian safety improvements, and funds to continue improving the City’s most dangerous intersections. Additionally, the proposed budget includes bicycle safety improvements for $150,000. These decisions are consistent with our priority to fund safety requests above other requests.
I appreciate your concern. I agree that the Platinum Bicycle Master Plan is important and I would like to see it funded in the near future. Thank you, again, for emailing me.
So that’s it. The Mayor has decided that the Bicycle Master Plan is simply not a priority for Portland. That is unfortunate.
Why did he make this decision? Does he not fully understand the role of bicycles in our transportation mix? Do advocates and the community need to do a better job building political relationships and making our case in City Hall? Does he think we already get our fair share of funding? Does he not like Sam Adams (the Commissioner who made the request)? Does he not fully understand the importance of this document to the safety and livability of our city?
I’m not sure what the reason is.
As for safety, it’s important to remember that he also chose to significantly reduce the funding request from PDOT’s Community and Schools Traffic Safety Partnership. They asked for $600,000 in bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements and they received half of that.
Fortunately for the Bicycle Master Plan, I would be very surprised if the collective wisdom of City Hall did not come through with a way to get it funded (all we need is for an amendment to be proposed and passed with three votes from City Council).
It’s been a long week. More analysis and thoughts in the next few days.
(For full coverage, check out the Mayor Potter cuts bike plan funding story tag.)
UPDATE: KGW-TV (NBC Portland) reports, “Cyclists shocked by Portland Mayor’s budget“. The story has a pointed quote from Commissioner Adams. Referring to the Mayor’s VisionPDX planning project, Adams reportedly said,
“Getting people on bikes and keeping them safe is more important than more visioning for which I haven’t seen any results.”