Last Friday, about 100 people — most of them families with kids in tow — rode to City Hall as part of a special edition of the BTA’s monthly Kidical Mass ride. The goal was to raise awareness about the city’s budget that currently threatens to lop off about 40% of funding for Safe Routes to Schools programs and is non-committal in terms of funding for promised new bike boulevards.
Riders met up at three locations throughout the city before coming together for a rally and hot cocoa on the steps of City Hall.
At the rally, people held signs that said, “Safe Routes to School is Kids on Bikes”, “Funding Safe Routes = Healthy Families”, and “Portland Needs Safe Routes!”. The BTA’s Michelle Poyourow took to the mic and urged the crowd to keep tabs on upcoming opportunities to weigh in on the the budget (the Mayor releases his version on April 28th) and to contact City Commissioners and urge them to fund bike projects and programs.
In a statement released after the event, the BTA characterized Bureau of Transportation Director Sue Keil’s “top priority” as “paving arterial streets,” and wrote that Keil feels like biking and walking investments “will have to wait until the crumbling asphalt is addressed”.
The BTA is concerned that if biking and walking investments have to wait until an estimated $1 billion maintenance backlog is addressed, it would be 2039 until residents see “sustainable transportation become a top priority in Portland.”
“We don’t have to choose between paving streets and building safe bicycle routes,” said Poyourow, “We can do both.”