Portland and the region join to make the case for millions in federal funding

Cover of Portland’s
Community Case Statement.
(Download PDF here)

As part of their 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation (which launches Monday), the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has helped cities across the country develop “Community Case Statements”.

These case statements will be used to garner media attention for the campaign, but more importantly as tools to lobby Congress for increased federal funding in “active transportation” (biking and walking).

Ever since the RTC’s plans surfaced, Portland has been at the front of the line in seeking a share of the pie. City bike coordinator Roger Geller — who has been outspoken about the fact that the main thing Portland is lacking in becoming a world-class bike city is cold, hard, cash — has seized onto this opportunity.

“The total three-decade investment in Portlandís 300-mile network of bikeways would not fund the construction of even half of one modern freeway interchange.”

In the Portland case statement (co-authored by Geller, and staffers from Metro and Portland Parks), Geller asks for $100 million — $50 million to “increase mode share” within Portland and another $50 million to do the same across the entire region (three counties and 26 cities).

In, The Case for Federal Support for Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements in the City of Portland and Portland Metropolitan Region, Geller writes that the $100 million investment would focus on three key elements:

  • Get people from their houses to their destination on quiet streets with minimal car traffic;
  • Connect these bike boulevards to off-street trails for longer distance travel that is safe and
    has a high quality experience; and
  • Educate people about how to best take advantage of alternatives to driving.

Geller wants Portland to be considered a “as a national laboratory in demonstrating how to take bicycle and walking transportation in the US to a world-class level”.

The idea is that with a massive influx of cash, Portland can become the petri dish of biking that will provide invaluable lessons for other cities. (You could argue we already assume this role, but we’ve done so with very little money and we still are not “world-class”).

Why Portland? Geller lays out that our “foundation” includes several important pieces: strong planning, a collaborative regional government structure, strong policies and supportive political leadership.

Furthering the argument, the case statement includes a graph (below) that shows the growth of bike mode split compared to other modes (since 1996, and yes, the green line is for bikes).

This graphic shows the percentage change in mode split of various transportation options. If this isn’t a strong argument for a massive increase in spending on bike infrastructure, I don’t know what is.

Here’s another nugget Geller has unearthed about the paltry sum spent on bike infrastructure in Portland:

“The total three-decade investment in Portlandís 300-mile network of bikeways would not fund the construction of even half of one modern freeway interchange.”

And what does Geller think a $100 million infusion of cash would do to biking in Portland and the region? He writes that the results would give the City of Portland a 25% mode split and the region an 8.5% mode split over the next 15 years.

— Download a PDF of the Portland Community Case Statement here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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14 years ago

I like…

14 years ago

This would be amazing… I think the national laboratory is a nice metaphor. We’d be a bike culture, growing and thriving in a resource-rich environment. We could multiple, evolve, and hopefully “go viral” by spreading across the land.

OK – That’s as far as my creative abilities will go…