Support BikePortland

Portland earns Platinum; becomes first major U.S. city to win the award

Posted by on April 29th, 2008 at 12:30 am

Bridge Pedal, 2005. Portland OR

This photo was taken at Bridge Pedal
in August of 2005. The “Sam” is City
Commissioner Sam Adams, who has
made achieving Platinum a priority.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland has gone Platinum.

The League of American Bicyclists will officially announce later today that Portland has become the first major city in America to be designated as a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community. (The only other city to have reached the Platinum level is Davis, California with a population of 63,000.)

The much-anticipated decision came from the League’s Executive Director Andy Clarke via a conference call last week in Commissioner Sam Adams’ office while local advocates, industry leaders, and key city staff were present.

A press conference to announce the news is scheduled for later today.

Portland earned the Gold designation back in 2003 and has been working to achieve Platinum for well over two years. Back in February of 2006, Commissioner Sam Adams launched a nine-part strategy and called together advocates and community leaders to work toward achieving the goal.

This banner hung at the Portland
Bike Summit held at PSU in
June of 2006.

Currently, six other cities have Gold status, 15 have attained Silver, and 49 are at the Bronze level.

As part of the evaluation process, the City of Portland’s bicycle coordinator Roger Geller submitted a 27-page application (available as a PDF on PDOT’s website) that was then reviewed by League staff. Also weighing into the decision were feedback and surveys completed by local cyclists.

The League considers a number of factors — known as the “5 Es” — in making their designations. They include: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning.

The City of Portland Office of Transportation is organizing a press conference today at 10:00am at the Bike Gallery store in downtown Portland (1001 SW 10th Ave.) to announce the news. Expected to attend are Commissioner Adams, Metro President David Bragdon, Chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission Gail Achterman, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer, Assistant Police Chief Lynnae Berg, Traffic Division Commander Larry O’Dea, business owner Chris King, and others.

A celebration party is also planned for later in the week. Stay tuned for details on that event.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

71
Leave a Reply

avatar
71 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
52 Comment authors
True Life Stories of the Carfree: Annee, Moses, and their 5 kids, near Portland, OR — Carfree with KidsholmsWhat will #biking in #toronto look like by 2015? [#PanAm #green] « DevlabA Tale of Two Planners « Bike Friendly Oak Cliffcthulhu Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Peter
Guest
Peter

Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.

— Gore Vidal

Scott Mizée
Guest

Congratulations, Portland. Thanks to everyone for all of their hard work.

Welcome to Portland. Now let\’s get on our bikes!

Tom Archer
Guest
Tom Archer

Congratulations Portland! This is great, but let\’s remember we still have a lot of work to do – making our streets safer for cyclists, enlarging our cycling infrastructure, and, let\’s not forget, developing a world class off-road cycling network within our city.

Portland hasn\’t done much on this last front. And the LAB application was weak in that area. But stay tuned, there are a number of things happening that aim to change that. And of course BikePortland,org will be your prime source of information when the time is right.

John Russell
Guest

Where do we go from here? Let us keep pushing to make cycling even better. Maybe we\’ll all do such a good job that they will make an even higher rating. We can\’t be content to just rest on our laurels, can we?

davidio
Guest
davidio

We\’ve gone Plaid!!!

Mike_khad1
Guest
Mike_khad1

This is a great achievement. Congratulations Portland!!!

trackback

[…] (Oregon, where else?) has just been designated Platinum level by the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle-Friendly Community program. Portland is also the first […]

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Personally, I think this is very disappointing and indicates how meaningless Platinum status is. Portland is a decent biking city, but has a looooooong way to go before it comes close to being in the league of Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Too much of Portland is still hostile to bicycling and lacks acceptable infrastructure. So, if Platinum is the best rating a city can get, it\’s not much of an achievement. I prefer it if the LAB had more integrity and higher standards.

Matt Picio
Guest

Hooray! Now let\’s get out there are work to be even better so we can KEEP it!

Congratulations, Portland and PDOT!

Jeff P
Guest
Jeff P

Great! Now we can quit trying.

Go ride and actually make a difference.

Kevin Hedahl
Guest

Yay!!! Platinum being announced and free cones. Does it get much better?

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Platinum for commuting to work.

Coal for utter indifference towards riding our bikes on beautiful singletrack.

Cement is not the answer.

btodd
Guest
btodd

Platinum for commuting to work.

Coal for utter indifference towards riding our bikes on beautiful singletrack.

Cement is not the answer.

Brian E
Guest

Corvallis OR Gold 2003
**Portland OR Gold 2003
Eugene OR Silver 2004
**Beaverton OR Bronze 2003
Bend OR Bronze 2005
Bellingham WA Silver 2006
Liberty Lake WA Bronze 2007
Redmond WA Bronze 2003
**Vancouver WA Bronze 2005

Jason
Guest
Jason

PDX is already listed as a Platinum awardee on their web page

http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/communities/bfc_portland.php

alien
Guest
alien

I have to agree with Jeff and btodd that I don\’t feel Portland is deserving of this yet. The accessible singletrack status here is abysmal, and the drivers here are still way too unaware of cyclists.

Now there is less incentive to work to improve things further.

Mmann
Guest

This is good news. Heck no, we won\’t rest on our laurels, partly because with this designation will come even greater national/international scrutiny of what we are doing.
A couple observations. No Mayor Potter at the announcement? Not that he should be, but does it strike anyone else as sad that the mayor of the first major city to achieve this designation had so little to do with it? More signs of irrelevance.
Also, The major thrust of Bush\’s rose garden press conference this morning was to renew his call for drilling ANWR in response to rising gas prices. Seems like his time could have been better spent highlighting what Portland has done to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Clueless.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I have mixed feelings. While I *WANT* Portkland to be a Platinum City, and feel a certyain pride at being the first major city to win the award, I really don\’t feel that we\’re there yet, based on the LAB\’s own criteria for the designation. We just don\’t meet those criteria– the \”5 E\’s\”– yet.

http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/communities/bfc_five-Es.php

In particular, we are burdened with a police force that is stubbornly biased against cyclists (witness the utter failure of the PPB to enforce the traffic laws when cyclists are injured or killed by drivers who fail to yield the right of way), and therefore, we don\’t meet the enforcement criteria. On that basis alone, we should not be a Platinum City.

Still, despite the on-the-ground reality here, I feel some sense of pride that Portland is America\’s first major Platinum City. I just wish we\’d earned it.

Moo
Guest
Moo

Now use it to our advantage- can\’t sit back on our pedals now!

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

I think it\’s important to realize that Platinum doesn\’t mean we\’re perfect.

It means we\’re head and shoulders above any other U.S. city and it means we\’ve made tremendous progress in the past five years.

It means we\’re an example for other cities to follow.

It means we can stop comparing ourselves to other U.S. cities and start really aspiring to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc…

We need to use this as leverage to keep doing things differently. This is just a nice step along the way, but it\’s far from the pinnacle.

Zaphod
Guest

I feel like we\’re being artificially constrained by labels. We are now Platinum, which effectively says that we are the best in the country. Whether we\’re deserving can be argued but that is how I interpret the designation.

Most things that are a function of progress, be it technology, efficiency, a movement, whatever all improve over time.

Platinum will become the baseline to be considered bike friendly and we will see designations like, \”Platinum + 1\” or something way more creative. We shouldn\’t be confined by terms.

Now that we have become essentially the flagship for bike friendliness, we now have an even stronger responsibility to keep moving forward to serve our community directly and lead by example for our country.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Yay. I\’ll be even happier when Beaverton goes Platinum and I can ride to work without being harassed or hit. (Not to take the decent infrastructure here for granted – needs some improvement but I\’ve ridden in much worse places!).

So if Portland keeps on improving will we someday reach \”Plutonium\”? 🙂

DJ Hurricane
Guest
DJ Hurricane

I mostly agree with rixter, at 18 and Jonathan at 20. We have more work to do on the 5 Es, particularly enforcement, which is still a major problem in PDX.

Still, I have ridden elsewhere in the US, and I know we are far ahead of everywhere else. Relative to other US cities we\’re great, but that doesn\’t mean we\’re great absolutely.

And, despite these qualifications, everyone must realize the countless hours of hard work that numerous activists have devoted over the years to making Portland a safe and fun place to bike. We have a truly amazing group of people in this community and they deserve the thanks of us all. The best part of all is that it has been almost entirely grassroots, in the true spirit of Portland. Some of you – and you know who you are – deserve the congratulations for this award. Thanks from me!

peejay
Guest
peejay

Mmann:

That\’s why we have to put the context of our local actions in the national or global perspective. So, while we all do what we can to reduce our own oil dependence, realize that personal sacrifice can only go so far. Human nature means that only a small portion of any population will burden themselves to achieve a social good; it\’s up to our political leaders to have the courage to set policies to make a financial incentive to conservation.

That\’s why I\’m utterly dismayed to find Hillary joining John McCain in the call for a suspension of the gas tax. This is just the sort of disincentive that we cannot afford.

Fortunately, we can do something about that in May, and again in November.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Rixtir, I don\’t think that\’s completely fair. Witness a police chief who changed the criteria for investigating \”vulnerable user\” accidents (albeit as a response to highly publicized deaths), and a new police chief who\’s making it a priority to work with the cycling community and taking proactive steps. Even just attending this ceremony Chief O\’Dea is sending a message of support (heck, where\’s the Mayor??). Maybe I\’m just a naive outsider buying into spin, but this is more respectable action than I\’ve seen in other communities I\’ve lived.

K-Man
Guest

Congrats Portland. Great job to folks like Sam, Scott, Jonathan and many others. Thank you!

Platinum Edition
Guest
Platinum Edition

Perhaps the league needs to add a Rhodium level…

Antonio Gramsci
Guest
Antonio Gramsci

rixtir: spot on

Unfortunately, the operative mode for American politics on the urgent subject of road safety is still smug complacency. I do very much fear that heady laurels for Portland can and will be used to deliberately feed that complacency.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

After reading rixtir\’s reply #18 and following the link to the LAB web page, I have a question about the \”Enforcement\” criteria. The Enforcement section of the application questionnaire asks:

\”Do you have a mandatory helmet law? If so, is the requirement a state law or local ordinance?
To what ages does it apply?\”

And,

\”Do you have a mandatory sidepath law? If so, is the requirement a state law or local ordinance?
Is it enforced?\”

Are helmet laws and mandatory sidepath laws considered \”bike-friendly\”? Or does a community get demerits for having such laws?

mykle
Guest

so … what\’s our next target? what\’s more valuable than platinum? can we be a rhodium bike city? a moon-rock bike city? are we pricing ourselves out of the prestige here?

(i\’d be happy with just an Aluminum ranking if it came with carbon forks.)

Tara Goddard
Guest

Greetings and congratulations from the City of Davis! You\’ve all worked hard, and you\’ve earned it. Welcome to the club! 😉

Tara Goddard
Bike/Ped Coordinator
City of Davis

Adam
Guest
Adam

Congrats to everyone in Portland! Now that we are Platinum we need to live up to it. For instance, push to get a certain bike friendly bridge put in…

solid gold
Guest
solid gold

sweet, now we can use all that bikey \”Platinum\” to pay off all our tickets from \”bike stings\” in \”America\’s Most Friendly Bike (traffic sting) City\”!

ralph
Guest
ralph

solid gold,

Enforcement only counts when it\’s applied to cars?

That explains the attitude her. We don\’t have to abide by the laws we don\’t like, but cars better toe the line on every statute.

Ticketing cyclist for not stopping at a \”STOP\” sign is not a sting. They didn\’t hide the stop sign. They didn\’t push the cyclist through the intersection. They hid and waited for someone to violate the law and then ticketed them. If anything we as cyclist sting ourselves with this we know better attitude.

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

What is the significance of being a Platinum bike city? I mean, do we get money to better bike paths? Or is it just a fancy term we can print up in tourism brochures?

Tankagnolo Bob
Guest
Tankagnolo Bob

YESSSSS Now to move on, time to go for Titanium status. We must continue to raise the bar. This is so \”most excellent\”.!!!!

Alison
Guest
Alison

Congratulations, Portland!

This is great. Yes, we have more work to do. Still, I\’m proud of everyone who has worked so hard for so long making this such a special place to bike and to live.

The LAB requires that we continue to make improvements and, as Sam said today, we will now be held against an international standard, which shows us how much work we have to do. Still, I\’m optimistic.

Go team!

Spencer
Guest
Spencer

Some of the earlier comments were correct in their assesment of the validity of the quantitative scale used. If Portland is Platnium, what is Copenhagen and Amsterdam?

Where I have seen a lot of improvement in bike related infrastructure and policy in the last two years, how much of it was the result of pro-active planning and how much the result of bikers getting squashed by trucks?

In reality, this is hollow victory that lends itself more towards a great tag line on people\’s resumes rather than substantive achievement. If it were sustantive, the city would be planning for a target \”percentage of trips by bike\” and apportioning the same percentage of the transportation budget to relize the necessary infrastructure to support it. So-far we really only have paint on asphalt and some extra wide sidewalks.

In my opinion, we are platnium when we have the bike only lanes, signals, signs, bridges etc. So far we are jsut sharing the road.

My 2 cents

Bob
Guest
Bob

Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to make Portland a great biking city. Sure we have a long way to go, but I\’d much rather be starting with our current bike infrastructure and leadership than what you\’ll find in any other city in the United States. We\’ll get there someday. Keep working and keep on biking.

Fred
Guest
Fred

This is a great accomplishment for Portland. The criteria obviously aren’t perfect but it shows that we are progressing faster than anyone else in the nation.

There is a lot of focus placed on commuting, which is arguably most important at this time of global warming, gas prices, infrastructure, etc. But I would like to see more emphasis placed on recreation, specifically mountain bike trails (no not fire roads in FP), stunt parks, quiet road rides, etc.

We need single track.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Pete @ 25;

Unfortunately, Portland Police have bent over backwards to find blameless drivers who have killed cyclists by violating their right of way. Whenever a driver hits a cyclist, the operating assumption of the police is that the cyclist was at fault, and they will go to extraordinary lengths to prove that the cyclist was at fault, even when it\’s patently clear that the cyclist was riding within the law and the driver was violating the law.

Brett Jarolimek was accused of \”speeding\” as a way of explaining away why the driver who failed to yield the right of way was not at fault, and the police even invented a non-existent statutory requirement that the driver has to \”perceive\” the need to yield before the driver can be cited.

It took Bikeportland reader a.O. to issue a citation to the driver who hit Siobhan Doyle, because the police couldn\’t be bothered to investigate.

But somehow, they could be bothered to investigate when Kyle Egertson was hit by a vehicle. He was cited for running a red light and riding the wrong way on a one way street– charges that the investigating officer made up because he assumed that the cyclist must have done something wrong or he wouldn\’t have been hit (by a driver who turned out to have lost control of his vehicle because he was going into diabetic shock)– and that were dismissed when his case went to trial.

I don\’t think it\’s too much to ask that the Portland Police stop turning somersaults in their blatantly biased efforts to avoid charging drivers who violate the law and injure or kill a cyclist, and I don\’t think it\’s too much to expect that a platinum-level city enforces the law with fairness and impartiality.

Unfortunately, we\’re just not there yet.

a.O
Guest
a.O

What rixter said.

Tom
Guest
Tom

On the subject of third-party awards/certifications… Maybe as we continue to make progress in Portland and elsewhere in the US, we will see communities vying for distinction on more than one scale – like we now have for food.

Organic? – that\’s great, but is it local? Which certification? USDA, Oregon Tilth? Food Alliance? How many miles did your dinner travel to your plate?

As awareness of possible bicycle amenities and and numbers/percentages of riders grows, so too will the way that we identify distinction. Good on LAB for creating the first scale for bicycle friendly communities. And yeah Portland for reaching the top level. And won\’t it be great when we look back 20 years from now and revel in how far we\’ve come since \”platinum\”.

Joe R
Guest

…\”developing a world class off-road cycling network within our city\” (reply by Tom Archer).

That was my first thought too when I saw they\’d received the Platinum designation.

Once there\’s decent places to ride my mountain biking (on single-track!) within city limits… Will Portland then receive \”Platinum Plus\” or something? *evil grin*

Oh well, not at all complaining, really glad for Portland, but it seems this designation is greatly skewed towards road riding facilities as measurement.

Jean Reinhardt
Guest
Jean Reinhardt

\”Platinum\” for cycling conditions? Not as long as habitual DUI\’s and/or chronic speeders don\’t immediately lose their cars. Not as long as building owners are allowed to ban indoor bike parking.
Look, this is cosmetic, surface shit. Be really accommodating to cyclists as well as daring to be aggressively un-accommodating to increased car use. The city should have the spine to say \”we have enough room for cars here, there will be no more.\”

Pete
Guest
Pete

Rixtir/Chris: fair enough. I\’m a glass-half-full guy and my perception is that the new police chief has started his term extending an olive branch, at least politically. Unfortunately I think the assumption that the cyclist is at fault isn\’t necessarily a PPB thing, but that of the general (motoring?) public.

A while back I was pursued by a motorist who right-hooked me then got pissed that I shouted \”use your blinker!\”. When he cut through a lot to chase me I stopped in front of McMen\’s on Murray/Allen where people were outside, and he just wouldn\’t accept he had broken the law and I had the right-of-way. He kept saying \”I didn\’t see you\” and I said \”but you didn\’t look, and if you\’d signaled I wouldn\’t have been there!\”. When he started into his chorus of \”you people think you own the roads\” I was shocked to hear bystanders joining in! Then he started out of the truck to come at me but I\’d pulled the phone out and dialed 911 so he jumped back in and split.

So I guess I don\’t perceive that police bend over backwards to blame cyclists. I think it just comes naturally.

Icarus Falling
Guest
Icarus Falling

As much as I hate to admit it, Rixtir\’s comment #40 is right on the money, and describes one of the main reasons we do not deserve this status. Also comments #3, #8, #13, and possibly #28.

It echoes some of my own \”Outspoken\” sentiment on the cycling problems many love to gloss over.

We have a police force incapable of properly enforcing the laws we pay them to enforce.

Now I describe the big oxymoron.
We have cyclist\’s who think they are above the law, and act just like our problem motorists, incapable of, for instance, recognizing that a stop sign is a stop sign, and incapable of realizing that if they get caught, or even if they don\’t get caught, deserve a ticket. If you are not able to see a policeman parked, waiting to give you a ticket(sting), it also means you are not paying attention while riding your bike.

We have bike lanes run by old money and corporate ignorance, which render them unsafe for bicycle travel.(I must add that I love Roger G. and applaud his efforts, especially after conversations about this exact problem)

We have misguided legislative efforts, many directed at warming hearts and covenience, instead of saving lives.

We have the already mentioned severe lack of single track, in a city with the largest park/forest within the city limits?
( I also applaud PUMP for their efforts, however stifled by other\’s they may sometimes be.)

We have political manipulation of the cycling community, glad handing, palm greasing, etc., that could, as it has in the recent past, prove in the long run to do more harm than good.

So many more problems, I shall now stop listing them.

I don\’t give a crap about Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I am tired of hearing/ reading comparisons on that note. We are not going to be those cities. We are going to be Portland forever, and we are going to need to work out Portland cycling problems, problems that are for the most part entirely different than those in the aforementioned cities.

This is Portland, where it is still not safe for anyone to ride on the road.

While it is true that Platinum status does not mean we are a perfect cycling city, it is also true that we have no reason (yet) to stand around patting each other on the back.

I know many of you will despise what I have just written. That is fine. I am not here to butter your muffin.

The truth hurts. Always has, always will.

casey
Guest
casey

It\’s nice to get acknowledgement of all the work that we\’ve done as a community to make the city\’s streets more rideable.

That said, I agree with those responses pointing out that wile we have some great roads to ride, we have a severe lack of real mountain biking trails here.

I don\’t see how you can call anywere \’bike friendly\’ when mountain biking is almost entirely shunned as it is here.

nooooo!!!!!!
Guest
nooooo!!!!!!

Davis isn\’t a major U.S. city?
This media is the suck.

yes
Guest
yes

Where\’s \”Davis\” again?