Master Plan intro sheds light on potential, challenges

The Office of Transportation has published the first bit of their Bicycle Master Plan online. It’s a draft of an introduction to the Existing Conditions Report and it sheds light on how the city sees Portland’s cycling future.

The report starts out stating how far we’ve come since the plan was last updated in 1996,

“In the past decade bicycling has truly become an integral part of daily life for thousands of Portlanders.”

But it also points out we have a long ways to go,

“And yet, Portland is still only capturing the tip of the iceberg of potential bicycle trips.”

Citing the seemingly ubiquitous presence of cycling in Portland’s culture, media, politics, and news, it says,

“Bicycling in Portland is here to stay. Bicycling in Portland has a future.”

Then it gets interesting,

“The intent of this document is to formalize and organize the conversation about what that future will be. The result of this conversation will be to chart the future of bicycling in Portland. Will bicycling in Portland follow the model of the past decade and continue to make modest inroads into the daily lives of Portlanders—attractive as a means of daily transportation only to that minority of residents confident enough to mix, as they inevitably must, with high volumes of automotive traffic…

Or, and more hopefully, will the future of bicycling in Portland leap upon the gains already made and upon the native expertise and burgeoning social and health trends here and begin to ascend toward the status of world-class bicycling city, American-style?…Ultimately, it all comes down to questions of priorities in design and effort.”

That’s the big question. Can Portland planners and bureaucrats prioritize a safe and efficient bikeway network above all the institutional (and political) barriers they will be faced with?

In order to break new ground as a “world-class bicycling city,” we’ll have some tough hurdles to overcome.

Read the full chapter here (PDF).

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