Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

What a difference $24 million would make

Posted by on February 28th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

I came across an interesting graphic at a meeting this morning that helped put into perspective how much is at stake in making sure we pass the Safe, Sound, and Green Streets funding proposal.

The proposal — which is currently getting revamped prior to being put on the November ballot — includes (at this point) $24 million to fund 114 miles of low-traffic, “bicycle boulevard” streets.

Just how that money would impact our city is hard to conceptualize until you see the graphic below…

This graphic shows the reach of our current bike boulevard network compared to what we could have with the $24 million that was in the initial version of the Safe, Sound, and Green Streets funding proposal.
Click to enlarge (104K, gif)

Currently, 31% of Portland’s population lives within a half-mile of our existing 30 or so miles of bike boulevards. If we built out that network to 114 miles, a whopping 87% of our population would live within a half-mile of a safe, low-traffic street where bicycles were the preferred mode of travel and people could pedal (and walk) in peace.

Seems like a great investment to me.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Paul S February 28, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Is there a list some where of the notional bike boulevards? For example, I\’m struggling to make out what streets in outer SW PDX (currently unserved by any bike boulevard) are bike-boulevardable. Any through street in that part of town is also a major arterial.

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  • Bryan February 28, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Wow, that\’s an amazing graphic. I hadn\’t really realized how much this proposed expansion would extend the boulevards. Thanks.

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  • Marcus Griffith February 28, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    the $24 million would indeed do a lot to increase access to bike boulevards and thus promote bike usage. However, with the Oregon leadership fretting over the $30 million cost of making the new I-5 crossing bike and ped friendly (depsite the $30 being about 0.07% of the total crossing budget), I wonder if someone like Sam Adams might kill the project to fund the street repair tax levy?
    But the less people drive, the longer roads last so the bike project should be funded.

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  • Todd February 28, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I remember in my pavement design courses, the impact of people (light vehicles) driving is pretty negligible. We\’d just design for multiple axle heavy freight/buses/garbage trucks.

    It would be nice to see that in a little more detail so we could all critique where they\’re putting those bike boulevards. But with that being said, any signage that alerts drivers to be cautious of bicycles (and bikers to be cautious of people) is good in my book.

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  • el timito February 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    For Paul (comment# 1),
    You can check this story –
    for a map of potential bike boulevards. Be sure to read the comments on that post for Keith Liden\’s note about the process for identifying these.
    For Marcus (comment# 3),
    I might worry about the Bikeway improvements being dropped if Betsy Johnson was proposing the Safe, Sound and Green Streets project. With Sam, no. He\’s been very consistent and strong in supporting biking as a significant part of Portland\’s transportation system.

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  • erin g. February 28, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    That is a very helpful graphic. Thank you, Jonathan. I want to do all possible to make sure that the measure passes this fall. I look forward to possibly getting involved as a volunteer/consultant with whatever group takes on the task of developing a detailed strategy for outreach, messaging, and success. I would love to help, and I would love safer, greener streets. Thanks for keeping us all posted!

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  • John Russell February 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Now to convince the majority of the voting public how beneficial this would be to the city.

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  • wsbob February 28, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    \”The proposal — which is currently getting revamped…\” J Mause/editor

    Is information available about how the proposal is being revamped?

    Even as I hear that many planned bike boulevards will be generally limited to defined, painted off parts of streets, this seems, never the less, as though it will be a very valuable aid to the overall objectives of the proposal, as stated in its name.

    Visibility of bike presence on streets is key to promoting the appeal of biking as practical urban transportation. It\’s kind of the \’foot in the door\’ for introducing biking to people that are hesitant to try it for fear of being completely overwhelmed by motor vehicles where there isn\’t some kind of bike visibility infrastructure.

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  • Opus the Poet February 28, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Just a thought, but wouldn\’t a bike boulevard be a safer place for kids as well as bikes? There you go, a built in constituency, families of young children.


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  • Tony February 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    The Stakeholder Committee is being reconvened on March 17. Committee members received \”thank you for your work\” letters from Commissioner Adams just the week before, so this is kind of a surprise.

    As for what – if anything- may be involved in a \”revamping\” is anyone\’s guess.

    The resolution that was adopted by Council doesn\’t provide any real insight or parameters. There is no mention of a public vote or any specific type of local fee or tax.

    This is what was resolved:

    \”RESOLVED, that the City of Portland supports the efforts of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) to raise funds to address maintenance and safety deficiencies of the transportation system and requests PDOT report to council on or before July 16, 2008 on how to remedy the situation.\”

    You can read the full resolution – preamble included – here:


    All the best,


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  • The Nanny-State Sounds the Charge February 29, 2008 at 8:13 am

    […] do so love their, “Grass Roots”, don’t they? Check out the post over at BikePortland. Pay particular attention to the commentary and what they have to […]

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  • MIKE February 29, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I got $5 on it. Sign me up that is incredible.

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  • hickeymad February 29, 2008 at 11:21 am

    vance: did you design your website yourself or did the right-wing hatemongers help you out?
    just seems odd you were able to figure I\’d out given what appears to be your, ummm…child-like discourse.

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  • Vance February 29, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    #13 – That coming from some one posting comments in a public forum as, \”hickeymad\”. I criticize fanatic leftists, therefore I\’m a fanatic conservative? Great logic. Where\’s the link to your blog, so that I may engage in the same presumptuous derision?

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  • a.O February 29, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Vance, is it still a blog if nobody reads it?

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  • Ian S. February 29, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing this graphic, Jonathan. It really brings home the message of how important it is to secure this funding and how dramatically it will help improve our city for everyone.

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  • HyphenC February 29, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Back to the topic at hand:

    Holy frijoles!

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  • bahueh February 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    here\’s what I want to know..
    is this initiative actually going to create street signs for drivers INFORMING them that the street are bike thoroughfare\’s? because that doens\’t currently exist in this city and I think drivers could be more aware that such boulevards are designated, instead of simply wondering why \”all these damn bikers are on the road\”…

    cheap…informative, pointed sigs might do the cycling community a world of good….drivers, if they don\’t like us, can avoid those streets once they\’re informed of their purpose..

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  • Joe February 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I\’m curious to see what the definition of a bicycle boulevard is? If the $24 million is for spending a bunch of money on planning studies and then erecting some \”bike route\” signs I might be tempted to vote against this measure even though I am an avid cyclist.

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  • Helen Wheels March 1, 2008 at 2:44 am

    It wouldn\’t be difficult to raise money for these types of improvements if our so-called leaders had the cojones to institute tolls over the I-5 interstate bridge and to drive into downtown.

    According to the NY Times, 2-13-08, the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who introduced a daily congestion charge on trucks and cars entering central London, in 2003, to cut traffic and pollution, has increased the amount drivers of 4x4s, high-powered sports cars and other high-emission vehicles will have to pay, come October, to $49 a day from the current $16, while the most fuel-efficient vehicles will get a free ride. Trucks and less-gas-guzzling cars will continue to pay $16.

    Let the Vanloserites whine. They can afford a toll and they\’ll pay whether they like it or not. The price of gas hasn\’t stopped them from driving to work everyday, clogging our streets and polluting our city. In any other realm people pay a price for bad choices. Why should this be any different?

    Wouldn\’t it be nice to have clean air in Portland? I\’m really sick of breathing disgusting smelling air.

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  • benschon March 3, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I want to be part of the \”whopping 87%\”. As Bud Clark might say, \”Whop whop!\”

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  • Shamus March 3, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Joe (comment #19)-
    It\’s more than just studies and \”Bike Route\” signs. See Jonathan\’s earlier post on the BTA\’s \”Bike Boulevard Tool Kit\” : http://bikeportland.org/2008/02/28/bta-unveils-bicycle-boulevard-toolkit/

    In short, it\’s re-engineering streets to slow and redirect motor vehicle traffic – giving preference to local auto traffic and bikes. This does include signage, but to address bahueh\’ comment #18 – much better signage than currently exists.

    – Shamus

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