Ellen Vanderslice (committee co-chair
Mia Birk in background).
(Photos © J. Maus)
Since that time, the plan has gone through quite a few speed bumps. In April of 2007, just two weeks after the update effort started in earnest, former Mayor Tom Potter slashed its $100,000 of funding. Thankfully, Potter realized the error and restored the plan’s funding a few weeks later, but that episode is just one of several things that has temporarily diverted attention from update process at one time or another.
A key part of the update effort is the Steering Committee which is made up of the PBOT project manager and community stakeholders. Reflecting the current buzz in the bike movement to bring non-traditional partners into the fold, the Bike Master Plan Update Steering Committee is made up of a diverse range of professionals. Around the table at the January meeting were reps from the State of Oregon Public Health Department, neighborhood associations, local business owners, and the tourism industry.
(Also at the meeting, and on the committee are Mayor Adams’ chief of staff Tom Miller and his transportation policy advisor Catherine Ciarlo.)
The co-chair of the committee is Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves. At the outset of their last meeting, he encouraged everyone to think long-term. “We’re looking at a 20-year plan,” he said.
Once completed, the plan has potential to become a very important road-map for biking in Portland. Its policy implications will depend a bit on timing (like whether it will be adopted in time for inclusion into the all-important Transportation System Plan), but regardless, it will help city employees, supportive elected officials, and advocates move forward with their vision of making Portland a truly “world-class” bike city.
Timing-wise, plan update project manager Ellen Vanderslice says they’re shooting for a City Council hearing on September 16th of this year, with adoption shortly thereafter.
At their January meeting, the Steering Committee focused on putting members into special working groups. The groups — which include everything from “Vision and Scope” to “Bicycle Parking” and “Enforcement” — will meet separately and then report back to the full committee.
One working group focus that caught my eye was “Mountain Bike Trails”. Off-road riding isn’t something that is typically discussed at a city infrastructure level, but its official inclusion into Portland’s Bike Master Plan is encouraging.
Committee co-chair Mia Birk (former city bike coordinator now planner at Portland-based Alta Planning + Design) told the group that mountain biking has been included because “it’s a gateway activity.” People who might be afraid of riding on city streets, she said, like the appeal of riding off-road and they later become bike commuters. Birk also said that the League of American bicyclists has taken note of Portland’s lack of off-road riding opportunities and that “the community has been on our backs about it for a long time.”
The working groups are meeting at City Hall today and the next Steering Committee meeting is set for February 11th. Another round of open house events is slated for May. Stay tuned for more coverage as the plan materializes.