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BTA urges action; “Transportation budget ignores bikes”

Posted by on February 23rd, 2009 at 2:12 pm

“Failing to support the Mayor’s very affordable new bicycling initiatives when more revenue is on the table does not reflect this city’s transportation or liveability [sic] priorities.”
— Michelle Poyourow of the BTA in an action alert sent to members today

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has issued an action alert to their 3,000 members in Portland and saying the are “very concerned” about the Bureau of Transportation’s requested budget for FY 2009-2010.

Earlier today, we reported that PBOT’s budget will cut Safe Routes to Schools by 40% this coming fiscal year (the BTA is a primary contractor on Safe Routes programs).

In the action alert, the BTA’s advocate and educator Michelle Poyourow outlines this and other concerns:

The 2009-10 budget:

  • Commits no revenue for building the Bike Boulevards called out in the Mayor’s 100 Day List (about $300,000).*
  • Reduces the size of the Safer Routes to Schools program by about 40% (about $200,000).
  • Fails to fund the demonstration cycletrack called out in the Mayor’s 100 Day List (about $100,000).

(*In a section titled, “Other Decision Packages” there is a line labeled, “Bike Boulevards ($516,000 add) develops bike boulevards city-wide.”)

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Poyourow goes on to explain that, while PBOT is facing cuts to their budget, they are also “proposing millions of dollars in new meter, garage, and fee revenue, sufficient to cover cuts and to pay for more than $5 million in new road paving.”

Poyourow is referring to an increase in the cost of parking (mostly downtown) that PBOT is set to enact on July 1 (the start of the city’s 2009 fiscal year). The increased revenue from these new parking policies is currently slated to go directly to paving and paving jobs.

In their Requested Budget FY 2009-2010, PBOT lists 10 “Revenue Enhancement Packages”. Of those, four of them are listed as “Economic Stimulus-Private Sector Paving”. Those four packages (listed below) represent over $6.5 million in new revenue for the city (this is the new revenue the BTA feels should not all be spent on paving and paving jobs):

Garage Rates ($1,500,000 add) increase of hourly garage rates to reflect comparable rates of privately-owned garages and on-street meter rates. Rates vary by garage location. Creates an estimated 21 private sector paving jobs.

Meter Rates & Mall Maintenance ($2,200,000 add) increase of $.25 per hour for all meters to reflect comparable off-street garage rates set by private businesses. Meter rates vary by district: CBD (Central Business District) rates will increase from $1.25 to $1.50 per hour; Lloyd meters from $1.00 to $1.25 per hour, etc. $1.1 million will create an estimated 15 private sector paving jobs; $1.1 million will provide transit mall security.

Meter Operating Hours ($1,700,000 add) increase meter hours of operation for downtown-only parking meters from 7PM to 9PM, to reflect comparable off-street garage hours availability and rates. An estimated 24 private sector paving jobs will be created.

Cost of Service Fees ($1,114,500 add). Creates an estimated 16 private sector paving jobs on city arterials, funded by increases in Parking Operations and other service charges and fees to reduce city subsidies per city policy.

On the phone earlier today, Poyourow agreed that paving is important, but she said PBOT’s spending should reflect a mix of priorities and should not put all their eggs in one basket. “I see them doing only one thing with the money,” she said. In the action alert she writes,

“Cutting popular, successful active transportation programs and failing to support the Mayor’s very affordable new bicycling initiatives when more revenue is on the table does not reflect this city’s transportation or liveability [sic] priorities.”

Poyourow is urging BTA members to call or email Mayor Sam Adams and all four other Commissioners and ask “that he fund bike improvements and restore Safer Routes to Schools funding.” The BTA also plans to use their monthly Kidical Mass rides as “rallies in support of Safe Routes”. In addition to the rides/rallies, the BTA wants members to attend upcoming public budget hearings to voice support for bike funding.

For more information, view the action alert here.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    No one is more frustrated by Portland Bureau of Transportation’s willingness to talk a good line on bikes and transportation options, only to have the rug pulled out at budget time. This is not new; this has been the rule at PBT since Blumenauer’s days. Time to take charge and use your pen to implement the transportation system for tomorrow’s Portland, not yesterday’s.

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  • Andrew Holtz February 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    The cuts to bike items is hardly more than 10% of the proposed INCREASE in the paving budget. Doesn’t look like the pain is being shared fairly.

    and of course, if even more people bicycled, there wouldn’t be as much wear and tear on roads… so there’d be less need to re-pave.

    And don’t let them get away with saying the stimulus money can only be spent on infrastructure (i.e. paving)… bike boulevards, cycletracks and wider shoulders are infrastructure, too, and just as eligible as paving for cars.

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  • BURR February 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Time to start making and applying our own sharrows stencils…


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  • Carl February 23, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Hiding these cuts behind “budget shortfalls” when they’re covered by new revenue sources…THAT’s what disappoints me about Sam, not who he slept with or how he lied about it. After all the support bicyclists have given him, all our confidence in him, THIS is the blow.

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  • peejay February 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm


    Hear, hear! I defended not Sam, but the hypocrisy of making a sexual dalliance bigger than real issues confronting the mayor’s office. Prior to that, I had criticized Mr Adams as not walking the talk. Here is another opportunity for our mayor to walk the talk, and if he does not do so this time, he’s dead to me.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 23, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Re: Mayor Sam Adams.

    Remember this folks, this is the PBOT Proposed Budget… not the Mayor’s Budget.

    Mayor Adams will take the proposed budget from all the bureaus and then come out with this own budget.

    it will be interesting to see how Adams’ budget differs (or doesn’t) from PBOT’s.

    Also, since this is the PBOT budget…and Sue Keil is the director of PBOT… does this show where her priorities are? How will her and Adams come to compromise? these are all questions on the table right now.

    but bottom line… this isn’t about Sam…at least not yet.

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  • Appauled February 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I can not believe Adams would lie or make false promises about bicycle related matters. Sexual misconduct, abuse of power, slander, election fraud, potential statatory rape; sure, but we are talking about bicycles now!
    He is crossing the line, and if he’s not careful, I might get upset. Then I would remove his sign from my window!

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  • Jeff Bernards February 23, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Sam requested proposed budgets be reduced. Yet if you want a soccer stadium, convention center hotel or an
    I-5 Bridge, he’s your man. I’ll be speaking against the Soccer stadium tommorow. If you can see past your own special interest and notice now that ALL spending effects everything else, it’s time to set priorties. The painted lines that seperate the roads are almost gone, yet we need a “Green Convention Center Hotel”. He’s a special interest politician to the core. Sam tries to do everthing for everyone but ends up doing nothing for anybody. I’ve said this before, I ride my bike on the road, the roads are in desperate need of repair. The food you eat comes on that road, it’s in everyones interest that the roads be fixed now. The cost to replace them later goes up exponetially, which means less money for bike blvds in the future.

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  • joe February 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    dang, I feel like a sucker buying into his 100 day plan. now, we see that even the token bike projects are unfunded?

    june 1 cannot get here fast enough. Maus/Blue for mayor?

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  • Racer X February 23, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Fund People NOT Pavement [People]!

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  • old&slow February 23, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I will wait for the mayor’s budget but I am not optimistic! All the Sam backers who bashed anybody who thought he should have stepped down should take a second look at what he is accomplishing in office. He is obviously hampered by the detractors because he is totally ineffectual in office! He just doesn’t have any political clout anymore and seems totally reticent about doing anything! This is the best it is going to get! A politicians time to get things done is generally right after they are elected and this guy is so hamstrung he can’t do anything. Thanks alot to all his supporters!

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  • Matthew Denton February 23, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Wouldn’t the 100 day plan stuff come out of this years budget? The fact that PBOT doesn’t have any money in next year’s budget for bicycle stuff is indeed disturbing, but the 100 day plan would be done before June 30th, and so it would be paid for out of the 2008-2009 budget, not the 2009-2010 budget…

    And you people who want to recall Sam Adams are totally missing the story here, and if you actually care about bicycling, (and not who is sleeping with who,) you need to read it again. This is what PBOT is proposing TO Sam, not what Sam is proposing. If Sam is recalled, that doesn’t change the fact that PBOT doesn’t seem to be placing a priority on bicycling. In other words, the problem here is PBOT, and the solution here would be at the PBOT management level. For instance, if Roger G was the head of PBOT instead of Sue Keil (or something like that,) then this problem wouldn’t exist. But just finding someone else to be mayor? That will have very little effect on this issue.

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  • Lazy Spinner February 23, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    The Mayor’s private affairs have impacted his ability to govern. He has much less clout and very little swagger. I doubt very seriously that he will stand up to a powerful bureau like PBOT, or the PPB, or the PDC, or… because angering any of them will hasten a recall effort.

    Adams is a one term mayor who will get used and abused by the bureaus and other council members. I also hear that many city hall bureaucrats and staffers are delighted by the turn of events and are seeking payback for years of egotism, arrogance, and power games played by Mr. Adams during his time there.

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  • steve February 24, 2009 at 1:15 am

    The streets need paved.

    I do not own or drive a car, though I can see that. Acting pissy about a raise in parking fees does not entitle you to a share of the pie. The BTA does not need anymore tax dollars. Go find a real job, or learn to live within your means.

    Including the cut to the safe routes to schools is a touch misleading. The cut is not a cut at all. The dollars were part of a one time allotment that was graciously shared 2 years in a row. This does not represent a cut at all, but actually a return to the original budget.

    Cry me a river BTA. Maybe Scott Bricker will take a pay cut?

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  • GLV February 24, 2009 at 7:49 am

    That the Mayor has lost substantial political clout is undeniable, and this is a prime example of what the effect will be. Ms. Keil has seen her street maintenance budget slashed repeatedly over the years under Sam, and as a result, the conditions of the streets in this city really are abhorrent. Been on Alberta St lately? Crossed Grand coming off the Hawthorne bridge, or ridden pretty much anywhere downtown? The awful condition of our streets not only damages cars, it’s dangerous for cyclists as well. It’s inexcusable, especially given the unlimited sums of money we seem to have to study convention center hotels and minor league sports stadia.

    It’s almost as though she’s daring him to cut pavement funding for the small minority of us who are cyclists. I bet she’ll win.

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  • Tired February 24, 2009 at 7:58 am


    You’re absolutely right. Who Adams sleeps with is not the issue, so stop bringing it up.

    Regardless of the reason(s), Sam is quickly becoming more and more of a non-entity. He is losing his legs and will soon not be able to stand on anything.

    Don’t feel attacked, at least not by those on this site, it was not your lack of integity/discretion/ethics/moral compass that got us into this mess.

    Most likely, everyone who reads this blog voted for Adams. Some of us are just a little more outraged than others.

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  • Tired February 24, 2009 at 8:01 am


    You’re absolutely right. Who Adams sleeps with is not the issue, so stop bringing it up.

    Regardless of the reason(s), Sam is quickly becoming more and more of a non-entity. He is losing his legs and will soon not be able to stand on anything.

    Don’t feel attacked, at least not by those on this site, it was not your lack of integity/discretion/ethics/moral compass that got us into this mess.

    Most likely, everyone who reads this blog voted for Adams. Some of us are just a little more outraged than others. I, for one, truly hoped Adams would be different and would do great things for the city. Instead I have learned that he is just as corrupt, in his own way, and has completely underminded his own ability to accomplish anything.

    Sex has very little to do with it. Integrity, on the other hand…

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  • Jack Blog February 24, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Given the pro-Adams fawning done by this blog and most of its commenters, that has to be one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while.

    P.S. Way to go again, BTA. Once again, you’ve shown new ways to grab the brass ring of ineffectiveness and incompetence. Car free doesn’t have to mean brain free.

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  • Steve G February 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Sam may be neutered, but he’s not the villain here: it’s Sue Kiel. She’s about as traditional and “old school” a director as PDOT as ever had. She doesn’t support bikes; never has. If PDOT funds any bike infrastructure, it’ll come because the grassroots and the City Council members all insist on it.

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  • Carl February 24, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought PBOT (Sue) took some degree of direction from City Hall (Sam). I know it’s her budget we’re discussing, here, and that my comment was a bit premature, but I get the impression that with stronger leadership from Sam, Sue wouldn’t be cutting bike stuff. Why would she do this if she didn’t think she could get it by her boss? I hope Sam proves me wrong and rips this budget a new one, but I’m not holding my breath.

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  • Jasun Wurster February 24, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Steve G,

    In this situation Sam Adams lack of power is worse then if he were actively lobbying for budget cuts. The danger here is in his silence, people are under the guise that Adams can and will advocate for them, when in fact he is a weakened politician who has very little political capital and low public trust. In order for Sam Adams to stay in office he has essentially become enslaved to the most powerful individuals of our city such as the Portland Business Alliance, The Port of Portland and developers.

    There are things that an effective mayor (not Sam Adams) could do for schools and other educational organizations. I used this example over on the Willy Weeks site: Consider the proposed budget cut to Safe Routes to Schools by 40%. An effective mayor could be a powerful symbol by volunteering in schools and inspiring unemployed residents to do the same. The political reality is that Sam Adams can never be near a school, promote mentoring programs or recruit volunteers to augment educational funding shortfalls.

    One of the goals of the Recall that I am volunteering for is that through the process of electing a new mayor the residents of Portland have a chance of choosing a leader that can bring them together to focus on solving issues. Through his own actions, Sam Adams is divisive and will never be this leader.

    Please consider helping us make our government better,

    Jasun Wurster

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  • r February 24, 2009 at 11:17 am

    can’t say I am on the same page with BTA on this. there are lots of roads I ride on every day that could use some paving, and frankly I have no use for a cycle track. maybe they could also use some money to sweep glass off the streets. safe routes to schools I agree should not be cut.

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  • Joel February 24, 2009 at 11:19 am

    every one is ignoring you Steve.

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  • steve February 24, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Sounds like they are agreeing, Joel.

    Good luck job hunting!

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  • Hollie February 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Two days ago I met with Sam Adams and spoke to him about many of these bike infrastructure projects. He mentioned, in specific, the cycle track and 15 miles of new bike boulevards.

    This is, as Jonathan has stated, not Sam Adams’s budget. It’s PBOT’s proposal that will be submitted to the mayor for his approval or revision. Before we blame Sam’s perceived lack of clout, let’s get his actual response first. Want your voice to be heard? Call or email his office. Better yet, attend the public budget hearings in May.

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  • Joe Rowe February 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    It’s time to stop trying to wipe the dust off our backs each time the car politics run us over.

    It’s time to fight back. One way is to make parked cars pay, and I mean pay!

    Many cities have woken up and made these nasty exhaust belching beasts pay!


    – Traffic engineers across the country are turning to an unlikely weapon in their fight against congestion on city streets – parking meters.


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  • steve February 25, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I like that Joe. What would be better is simply banning them from the city center. Or perhaps charging $25,000 a year to have the privilege to drive into the city core.

    A $15 dollar a gallon gas tax would be welcome as well.

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  • Joe Rowe February 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

    steve, I agree. But not everyone can see the future where getting on well designed public transit can get humans to work or anywhere faster and with time to read or relax. Until then no $15 a gallon tax nor London style downtown fee for cars.

    But I do think that car drivers all need to park and they would support any system that made things more fair, This is why Portland should be looking at that SF Chronicle article I posted on how to charge more fare for the times of high parking demand.

    We don’t need to see the future, we just need to stop erasing the past from our transit history books. Until goodyear illegally purchased and destroyed trolly lines in many dense urban cities cars did not dominate! Why? Because on so many levels of quality they failed? Parking, trip time, comfort, cost, safety,

    I guess the only measure of quality that cars still maintain is keeping oneself isolated from interacting or observing other humans. And the lie that being american means total car independence.

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  • Tony Columbo March 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Sam Adams could not tell the truth if he tried.

    Recall Sam Adams

    Fill up the tank and go by car. TriMet will never get you there in a timely manner.

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