Adams tells Willamette Week he wants to triple bike funding

AdamsMayorParty-3.jpg

Adams at his mayoral
announcement last October.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

The Willamette Week’s “Wheels of Fortune” story in this week’s paper outlines City Commissioner (and mayoral front-runner) Sam Adams’ intention to significantly increase PDOT’s bike spending in the coming years.

Adams told the paper he thinks 4.5 percent of PDOT’s capital budget should go to bicycle-related infrastructure and programs. That’s nearly three times the current bike spending rate of 1.6 percent; a number that has remained flat in recent years even as the number of bike trips has skyrocketed.

The 4.5 percent number comes from the latest U.S. Census estimates for the current number of regular bike commuters in Portland (which leads the nation in bike commute mode split).

In the article, Adams says, “Spending should match current utilization.”

The story also points out how critics are already chiming in about the idea.

Former city council candidate Dave Lister told Willamette Week reporter Henry Stern that, “I appreciate folks who commute by bicycle, but I’m having a hard time believing that 4 percent of the city’s commuters use bicycles year around.”

And someone from the Cascase Policy Institute (remember them from the Bike/Car debate?) adds that “The vast majority of people use cars to get around…and there needs are also important.”

PDOT’s paltry spending on bicycle infrastructure is nothing new. In an interview I did with Adams back in October, he hinted at his dissatisfaction with the City’s current investment in bikes. He said:

“My view…is that investments in bikes are a great transportation deal. We get a huge return for a modest amount of money. We have 1.5% of the total Capital spending for the next five years and we get citywide a 5.4% utilization. That’s a great deal. I don’t get that kind of ROI [return on investment] on any other mode.

What we need is a lot more investment. I think the results we’re seeing are worthy of much more investment in bikes and expansion of bike infrastructure.”

I welcome the city-wide dialogue on this topic that is sure to come as Adams’ mayoral campaign gears up. We have made solid increases in bike usage in Portland with very little investment. Imagine what would be possible if we had some real funding…


Read more from my interview with Sam here.

Read the Willamette Week article here.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

26 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Carl
Carl
14 years ago

(Nut)job-security for Terry Parker!

Go Sam!

Hanmade
Hanmade
14 years ago

Its as simple as this: build more roads, and they will fill with cars. Build more bike paths and they will fill with bikes. As Sam said, you get a much better ROI with bikes. How could anyone deny that?

Nelson Muntz
Nelson Muntz
14 years ago

O.K. bike community, your mission leading up to the election is to pester Sam for details and make him keep repeating this pledge. Don\’t promise him the bike vote this far out. It\’s very early and look how the current mayor turned his back after getting the two-wheeled vote.

Dan (teknotus)
Dan (teknotus)
14 years ago

The article mentions that Sam\’s bike was stolen. I thought I saw him in a truck with a bike in the back within a block from work at first Thursday (week ago today).

Any plans to help Sam get a new bike?

Bicycledave
14 years ago

Sam Adams has a proven track record in favor of bikes as far as I\’m concerned. He\’s also a lock for Mayor at this point in the race.

If you\’re really concerned with bike politics in Portland the most bang for your buck would be to get behind a true bike advocate to fill Adam\’s vacant City Council spot.

Chris Smith is that bike advocate and he needs our help right now to get public financing for his campaign.

Check out this article at blueoregon. It references an Oregonian article that says Chris needs another 625 $5 donations from Portland voters to get $145,000 in public financing for his campaign. Here\’s the significant snip from our point of view:

Chris Smith, an Internet techie for Xerox and a well-known transportation advocate, is at 375 contributions. He thinks the pace will accelerate as the deadline looms and his supporters overcome procrastination.

If he doesn\’t qualify, he said, he would have to think seriously about staying in the race. \”This is the right way to fund it,\” said Smith, a vocal supporter of the public financing system from the beginning. \”I would have to think really hard about doing it a different way.\”

I can\’t sign his petition because I live outside Portland, but I can volunteer to canvass for him.

Please join me in helping out any way you can. Donate or volunteer. The deadline is January 31 to qualify for public financing.

this is Chris Smith\’s blog

Bill
14 years ago

Seems to me decades ago Senator Kennedy introduced the idea of 1% of federal transportation funds should go to the 1% bike share of the time. Too bad this didn\’t happen then.

Keep in mind with efficient-good transportation like bikes, the internet, and even air travel, you don\’t view difficult interactions and delays of others. Good transportation is visually hard to see. This is the very essence of transportation, passing others without interference. Bad-inefficient transportation is very visible – like congested car transport during rush hour.
Spending only money on bad transportation is a knee-jerk response to what you see. An educated response is to spend more on good transportation. Good thinking Sam.

michael downes
michael downes
14 years ago

One of the things we as cyclists/advocates need to communicate is that transportation funding is never an either/or proposition. Every time a person chooses two wheels over four that is one less car on the road which is a positive for both cyclists and motorists. We need to help motorists understand that a healthy and safe environment for cycling helps reduces congestion for cars and pollution for the wider community.

James
James
14 years ago

Adams \’08!

Burk
Burk
14 years ago

I think this increase will be hard for anyone to argue against. 1.6% is a very small number given the return Portland gets, even 4.5% is probably within some kind of budget margin of error. Don\’t these things always have some percentage of \”slop\”?

Ron
14 years ago

And one thing I rarely hear people point out is that if you turn a car into a bike on a road, you reduce, significantly I would claim, the wear and tear on the road.

Given that many of us have a car (and pay registration, etc — I do), but commute daily by bike, we are helping to pay for the infrastructure, while increasing its effective life.

When people tell me I don\’t deserve to use the road because I don\’t pay registration, I am quick to point out that even if I didn\’t pay registration (and own a car), by not driving a car I am helping to make our roads last longer — where\’s my kickback since I do pay? 😉

Cheers,
Ron

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
14 years ago

Bicycledave (comment #5),

I was glad to hear that the Oregonian got the numbers wrong in that story. Turns out Chris Smith has over 500 $5 donations so far… but yes I agree with your comment.

Let\’s make sure as many candidates as possible qualify for public funding… expect a post about this soon.

n8m
n8m
14 years ago

This is exciting news. It is unfortunate there will be many opponents to this appropriate shift in funds. I think as a bicycle community it is important for us to point out to the city all of the holistic benefits there will be for motorists and pedestrians alike when we shift more resources to bicycle infrastructure. Two thoughts come immediately to mind regarding the benefits for motorists and Portlander in general:

1) More people on bikes will free up the roads for motorists, reducing gridlock and ultimately saving tons of money that can go towards better maintenance of the roads we already have. 2) Folks on bikes will help buck the obesity trend in this nation and relieve our over taxed health care system. How cool that Oregon was the only state not to get more obese last year. Like Adams pointed out, the return on investment is huge for all modes of transport when you look at the big picture and I hope the general public (especially motorists) become educated about how truly progressive bike infrastructure is for everyone, be it from a public health, quality of living, or environmental standpoint, the list goes on and on — and everyone wins. Adams in \’08!

Opus the Poet
14 years ago

I don\’t know about Oregon, but here in Texas the gas tax only pays for about 43% of new construction, and next to nothing for maintenence. Registration only generates enough income to pay for itself (per the TX constitution), and the insurance \”tax\” is only paid by 75-80% of the drivers on the road. Most of the costs for road building and maintenence comes from our General Fund. When I try to tell cagers that actually I\’m paying for their abuse of the roads, they just blow me off. Nobody wants to hear that they are not paying their way.

Opus

Lidwien
Lidwien
14 years ago

That\’s wonderful, Sam Adams wants to increase the amount of money spent on bike infrastructure. So what is the % of trips done by foot? Will pedestrians get a proportionate share of spending as well?
Unfortunately, pedestrians are not as vocal and active as the bicycling community, yet everyone is a pedestrian some of the time. The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition is trying to change that. See the website at http://www.wpcwalks.org

Spanky
Spanky
14 years ago

I am afraid this will turn into yet another \”us versus them\” thing, in which car drivers, bicyclists and peds (aren\’t we all at least two of these, if not all three?)are pitted against one another.

Yet more Balkanization into interest groups. Over time, folks being in different phases of their lives, tend to change from one group (whether it be bicyclists/cars, or skiers/snowboarders, etc) to another.

What always remains true is that we all have an interest in safe streets and sidewalks and we all have an interest in efficient use of hard earned tax dollars.

I get nervous when I hear politicians using small numbers, documented by a government study to justify spending. I also have misgivings about the city spending money on new projects when maintenance of existing ways is going wanting. There are many spots in this town where one has to veer froma bike lane due to potholes or debris.

Likewise, many city facilities and many, many streets (and bridges need maintenance.

So the city should be looking hard at maintaining what we already have, as well as, and possibly instead of, new projects.

But I can see little to argue against a small increase in bicycle spending. And when I say small, I am referring to the number as a part of the overall spending on streets, etc.

Jean Reinhardt
Jean Reinhardt
14 years ago

To heck with funding bike facilities; he should talk about increasing funding for law enforcement in the area of motorist behavior control–more speed traps, red light cameras, DUI patrols. You won\’t create a cyclist heaven without trying to create a little bit of driver hell.
Sam should grow a stiffer spine and dare to offend some \”mainstream\” people.

wsbob
wsbob
14 years ago

Well, it\’s all has to do with evolution and revolution. I\’m not that familiar with thinking of the change in terms of balkanization, but am very certain that as we proceed into the future, people will be moving from one group to another; indifference or rejection of bikes as legitimate transportation to support of them as legitimate transportation.

The pieces involved in making a better overall system will come together because the reality that only limited capacity for motor vehicles as transportation downtown and in the metro area actually, is sinking in. Numbers and sheer physical visibility of more cyclists everywhere confirms this.

Although I would choose to frame it in a more positive manner than Jean Reinhardt did, I\’m totally in favor of \”…–more speed traps, red light cameras, DUI patrols.\”. Everything costs money, so I suppose getting more of that stuff is just a matter of resource availability and how to best allocate them. No point in putting bike transportation at the bottom of the stack of things to be done.

John R
John R
14 years ago

Count me as another in favor of LOTS more enforcement of the vehicle code. That\’s my top priority. I see motorists going through my neighborhood STOP signs at a running pace every day and it\’s a rare day when I don\’t see a motorist blow through a RED traffic signal. Speeding is prolific. Too many road users simply don\’t pay attention or don\’t care because they don\’t think they need to. Certainly, there are some gaps in the system for bicyclists and pedestrians, but we\’re all at risk because of the lack of attention and courtesy from a significant proportion of the less vunerable road users (motorists).
I\’d gladly give up a few miles of bicycle boulevards just to have the Mayor, Chief Sizer, and Lt. Kruger standing together, pounding their fists on the podium, and publicly declaring that the motorists were wrong in the killings of the cyclists involved in the right-turn collisions and that the motorists would be cited under the current laws. Of course, there\’s nothing to suggest that both are not possible!

rev
14 years ago

What is that statistic from Roger Geller\’s office? that 1% would bike in any condition, 3-4% are biking given today\’s conditions, 33% would not bike regardless of conditions… and the remainder?

About 60% of our population wants to bike but feels it is unsafe.

This is the call to improve infrastructure, leaders will listen if we help them.

aha I found it, thanks for the stat PDOT:
http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?c=34816&a=159994
i think it is page #9 on this pdf


to continue the thread on more tickets and policing, i think we can find more creative ways of discouraging speeding auto traffic. trying to change behavior via policing has got to be one of the least effective uses of our budget.

Stephen
Stephen
14 years ago

Bicycledave is right, Chris Smith really does need our help. He is seriously the ONLY Portland City Council candidate that supports bicycling at at least the same level that Sam Adams has. Just think how far we can push bicycling if we have a mayor and a councilman on our side!

There is a real sense of urgency now because those 1,000 donations must be FILED by January 31st. And it usually takes about two weeks for mis-filled forms to be returned to their owners to be corrected and then resubmitted to Chris\’s campaign before they can be properly processed and filed.

Are there 500 cyclists in this city who can pony up $5 bucks?

Let\’s get Chris in the race.
Bring $5 and meet Chris next Wednesday, 12/19 at the Sound Grounds Coffeehouse @ SE 37th and Belmont from 5:30 to 7pm.

Vance
Vance
14 years ago

Why are you all so eager to give away your current freedom to access the right-of-way on a bicycle? If you want to walk your bike everywhere, why not just cut-to-the-chase, and get rid of your bike? Look. When the existing bike lanes were installed around town, the intent was to make their use mandatory. Fortunately, that mandate is all but unenforceable because of certain language in the statute. To paraphrase, that language says that the mandate to use the bicycle lanes is null and void until a bike lane has been inspected for safety. Since nobody can come up with the fiscal resources to do this, this mandate is not being enforced. You should be very careful to remember that it could be, at the drop of a hat.

Bike lanes that cyclists can CHOOSE to use is something I could support. Bike lanes that cyclists HAVE to use, means that one might as well park their bike and invest in some Rockports. You folks seem to see the addition of infrastructure as only a good thing. It is a knife that cuts both ways.

Consider. You just watched Roberto Gonzales repeat the phrase, \”The program about which I am testifying.\”, how many times, in front of a Congressional Hearing? Fancy Sam is using language just like this when asked about assurances that infrastructure won\’t be used to sanction cyclists in the future. The reality is, that installing bike lanes, and other things, with the intent to provide a delusion of safety, are all things that can be used against cyclists, potentially.

I\’ve been here when, \’they\’, were handing out tickets for failing to ride your bike in the right spot. As is usually the case with enforcement, things like bike lanes are nothing more than additional probable cause. Furthermore how long before the bike lanes, and features you are clamoring for, become the only place where you can use the right-of-way? Your fear for your safety can so quickly be turned against you. Isn\’t this stupid war we\’re involved in all about public safety?

So, out of fear, the so-called cycling community is relinquishing their free access to the public right-of-way, in lieu of some utterly superfluous safety features. This is the basis for my unending frustration with this so-called cycling community. Just because you are too much of a pussy to handle your own sh** in traffic, you eagerly jeopardize everyone\’s current freedom.

This is my problem with Fancy Sam, Scott Tricker, and their ilk. In vying for attention, they have no problem giving you what you want. However, no one seems to be paying attention to how restrictive, segregating infrastructure can be used against you. Fancy Sam, and Scott Tricker cannot assure me that industry special-interest isn\’t going to force me off the roads, and onto the routes THEY approve of, at some point in the future. Worse yet, they get all squirrelly when asked direct questions about including provisions to prevent this eventuallity. In a sense, you all are gleefully building the gallows with which a future administration could hang your collective asses.

Lastly. I\’m poor. I own a bicycle, a shoulder bag, and about enough thread-bare clothing to fill that bag. That\’s it folks. ANY regulation that will cost money means I don\’t get to ride my bike anymore. I\’m having a tough time. I\’m down on my luck. People in this community have a problem with my attitude. I suppose I know why. As such, work is very difficult to come up with. I\’m here to tell you that my life is a struggle right now. ONE stupid ticket for not riding in your stupid bike lanes, and there goes the Driver License I bled for. I would never be able to afford a ticket right now, and it is my Driver License that will be used to extort any fine from me, to be sure.

You may have the ability to consider liability insurance. Good for you. Not everyone can do this. Maybe you can afford to be pulled over and searched, under the guise of violating some bike lane law, I can\’t. I had to chose between food, and lighting on my bike when I complied with THAT stupid law. I\’ve been riding my bike in traffic for 3 decades, no one is more qualified than I, to make decisions about whether or not I don headgear. I shouldn\’t have to be disclosing private information about myself to compel you to consider your position on all of this, alas.

Just because you are afraid doesn\’t entitle you to violate, potentially violate, or compromise other people\’s freedoms, and rights. Fear for your own safety is your own problem. Everything carries with it, consequence. Something this society seems to be losing track of. I\’m constantly lambasted for being selfish. The irony seems lost on those who do this. For, what is the difference between you sacrificing my rights for your safety, and me sacrificing your safety to protect my rights?

Therefore, no one who endorses changing the bike infrastructure in Portland is going to get my vote for anything. If you would change Portland, then why in the hell did you move here in the first place?

carl larson
carl larson
14 years ago

I\’ll vote

chris
chris
14 years ago

Thank goodness for Sam Adams. His 4.5% for infrastructure is not foolish. It may give the city of Portland the tools needed to deal with Peak Oil. We need to start building them now.

Compare the recent prices of oil to the price of gasoline.

1999 Barrel of oil = $30, Gas = $1.50/gal
2006 Barrel of oil = $60, Gas = $3.00/gal
Late 2007 Barrel of oil =$80-90, Gas (projected) will be $5.00/gal. This isn\’t someday. It\’s now.

And I\’m glad Sam is in the running to give us the infrastructure we will need so people can get to work.

Go Sam go!

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…”
—Winston Churchill

Jerrod
Jerrod
14 years ago

Maybe in 20 years the bike budget will be 10 times higher than it is now. I hope!

Tom Miller
Tom Miller
14 years ago

FYI part of our motivation to match expenditures with modal share came from Amsterdam. There the city dedicates about 20% of its annual transportation expenditures and earns a 40% bike modal share in return. In other words, the return on investment is amazing.

Shifting gears to changes in bike infrastructure, the intention is to keep adding tools that increase ridership. 546,000 Portlanders rely on safe, effective transport every day and there are lots of reasons to shift as many of those trips as possible to bikes. Different people respond to different types of investments. We\’ll keep diversifying and evolving the infrastructure to grow the modal share.

Cheers,
Tom

Matt Picio
14 years ago

Wow Vance, that\’s a lot (#21) – you have some valid points, but let me ask this: since when does \”bicycle infrastructure\” = \”bike lanes\”? It incorporates a lot more than bike lanes. How about all the new bike signage that helps new and out-of-town cyclists navigate the city? How does that mandate where we ride? How does the 3 Bridges project on the Springwater restrict us? The cut-through trail at the airport? The Springwater, the Willamette Greenway, the Peninsula Trail? Pavement markings to direct bikes? Signalized crossings? \”Bike-only\” lanes? (they restrict cars, but allow bikes – how many places other than the freeway shoulder in Portland and the Morrison Bridge deck are restricted to cars?)

Your concerns regarding the mandate to stay in the bike lane are well-founded, but also have nothing to do with bike infrastructure – they have to do with the legal framework. The easiest way to change that is to change the law. It should be changed anyway, on principle. Are buses required to only ride in the bus lane if present? (I\’m not talking about Tri-Met procedures, I\’m talking about state law)

Right now the way the law is written and enforced is the biggest danger to cyclists, not what type of infrastructure is built. I\’m all for any new infrastructure that brings in new cyclists, because we need more cyclists if we\’re going to change the laws.