Posted by Elly Blue (Columnist) on February 7th, 2008 at 10:41 am
[This article was written by contributor Elly Blue. You can read more from Ms. Blue here.]
“…gas stations, convenience stores, and oil suppliers…benefit more than most from having a road system in good repair.”
When it comes to road maintenance, what’s good for bicyclists is good for everyone.
Yet bicyclists, often labeled “anti-car,” are thrilled to subsidize car infrastructure — why? Because it’s for the public good. Because people have to get around. Because it paves the way for a future in which it’s a little easier to get around even if you can’t, shouldn’t, or won’t drive a car. A future where we have real choices and viable options.
The Safe, Sound, and Green Streets initiative is not an extreme solution to the perils of the car-dominated city we’ve created for ourselves. It is a start at bailing us out of the horrible road maintenance situation we are in, and would lay the foundation to prevent such straits in the future.
Its primary purpose is to fix the horrible state of roads like West Burnside that benefit the masses who still need or choose to drive their cars in the city.
I support this initiative in part because of the small amount of it that is allocated to bicycle infrastructure. I also support keeping our road infrastructure in good shape so that the many people who must drive are not penalized for living in a society that has unfortunately made it their only viable option.
Encouraging bicycling is just good pavement management. Bikes reduce the wear and tear on the roads and the costs to maintain them. Bicycling is by the lowest counts 5% of the mode share in Portland (in some neighborhoods it’s more like 15%) and yet we still spend less than 2% of our transportation budget on bike-related projects. That’s a far better return on investment than any other mode, even if you don’t calculate the savings in public health, reduced pollution, the booming bicycle economy, worker productivity, and plain old pavement management.
For all this, and for the good of everyone (we all are tied to the road system whether we drive or not) I am supporting this bill.
“Maintaining our public roadways is the classic example of what we need government for.”
What is hard for me to comprehend is why gas stations, convenience stores, and oil suppliers would be against it, since they benefit more than most from having a road system in good repair.
The host of anti-transportation activists behind this bill want us all to either drive everywhere or go nowhere. They want their driving habits — and the big money industries which benefit from them — subsidized and paid for by money that could be going to stimulate the economy, create a world class educational system, or reaching out to people who have been left behind in this anti-government era. They want our streets to deteriorate, tied up in the red tape they pride themselves on creating, to the point where we have to call in private companies to bail us out.
Maintaining our public roadways is the classic example of what we need government for. We are lucky to have leaders with the strength and foresight to lay the foundation for the future of our transportation system, and to stand up to anti-transportation, anti-government activists who are trying to use political maneuvers and nonsense propaganda to convince Portlanders to vote against their own best interests.
[Editor’s note: I welcome more editorials on this topic. Feel free to send them to me.]