The City of Portland is holding its breath as it awaits a decision from the League of American Bicyclists as to whether or not we’ve earned the coveted “Platinum” level Bicycle Friendly Community designation.
A decision from the Executive Director of the League, Andy Clarke, is expected any day now.
Platinum is the League’s highest honor and so far, no major city has gotten the award (Davis, California is currently the only Platinum-level city). Portland is currently one of seven cities in the “Gold” category and has been at that level since the Bicycle Friendly Community program was launched in 2003.
Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) have made achieving Platinum a high priority. This year’s application comes amid PDOT’s effort to update the city’s Bicycle Master Plan — and Adams has code-named it the “Platinum Bicycle Master Plan”.
Cities re-apply to the program every two years and the last time Portland applied was in October of 2005. Portland’s latest application is a 24-page, all text, single-spaced document that was put together by PDOT bicycle coordinator Roger Geller.
The application is broken down into two parts. The first one asks for basic facts about the city — population density, average temperature, etc… — and asks for answers to questions like, “What was your community’s most significant investment for bicycling in the past year?” and “List some of the current community activities that encourage/promote bicycling.”
The second part is broken down into five sections: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation & Planning. In each section the League asks questions and asks for specific examples of work being done.
At the end of the Evaluation & Planning section the application asks two key questions. I’ve pasted them below along with the first sentence of the answer given:
“What are the three primary reasons your city deserves to be designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community?”
- — Portland has a seamless and varied bicycle network that connects all parts of the city and that has proven successful in dramatically increasing bicycle ridership.
— Providing for bicycles and promoting increased usage of cycling as a mode of transportation is incorporated into all actions taken by the City of Portland, beginning in the Mayor’s Office, right down to actions taken by our maintenance crews on the streets.
— A strengthening bicycle culture within which bicycling is gaining widespread social acceptance as a normal activity in Portland.
“What are the three aspects of your community most in need of improvement in order to accommodate bicyclists?”
- — More money. We need additional funding in order to build the types of facilities on which people are not
just safe when riding, but where riding is a comfortable and attractive experience.
— Better designs and stronger policies. We are actively working on designs for our bikeway facilities as well as for grouped bicycle parking.
— Providing more opportunities for people to ride by expanding our targeted encouragement and educational efforts at the residential, school and business levels.
Will 2008 be the year Portland finally achieves Platinum? Will the designation spur momentum for the bike movement, or will it lead to complacency amid bureaucrats and give fodder to two-wheeled detractors who might be tempted to think Portland has achieved bike nirvana and doesn’t need any more help?
What do you think?