Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 2nd, 2010 at 11:22 am
“The bicycle soldiers of Portland are as giddy as a cabal of neo-cons plotting regime change in 2002, and with good reason. There is a good chance that this week the City Council will approve the 20-year bicycle master plan…”
— Letter to the Editor in The Oregonian
With just a few days before Portland City Council adopts the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, it will be interesting to see how the local media tries to spin it.
Case in point: Respected columnist for The Oregonian, Anna Griffin, mentioned the plan in her column on Saturday. The piece took issue with Mayor Adams’ governing style and said he needs to “Toss Twitter and get back to the big picture for Portland” among other things. The Twitter bashing was strange enough, but here’s the paragraph that caught my eye (emphasis mine):
“…Despite the distractions of the first year, he’s waded into some important debates about Memorial Coliseum’s future, the city’s pollution problem and, coming just in time for next week’s annual State of the City address, the renewed and costly commitment Portlanders must make to become Bike City, U.S.A.“
First, the plan does not commit the city to anything. It’s merely a plan — a framework for how we make future decisions about bicycling. Yes, there are implementation scenarios and dollar figures in the plan, but (unfortunately), they are not binding and they don’t force the city to spend anything on bikes.
The reality is, as the Willamette Week reported last week, PBOT has only found about $10 million to $14 million for the next five years to fund the plan and the task of finding more money has been banished to yet another stakeholder committee (which is good or bad news depending on how much faith you put in stakeholder committees).
And, even if the plan did commit the City to spending a lot on bicycle transportation infrastructure, it would be the smartest investment they could make; far less “costly” than business as usual (ask PBOT how their $500 million maintenance backlog is coming).
I have to think that unfortunate characterizations of the plan like that one from Ms. Griffin are what lead to Letters to the Editor like the one below from Mr. Cliff Mason from Northeast Portland (as published in today’s Oregonian):
The bicycle soldiers of Portland are as giddy as a cabal of neo-cons plotting regime change in 2002, and with good reason. There is a good chance that this week the City Council will approve the 20-year bicycle master plan under the flag of the Portland Transportation Bureau. The plan adds more than 700 miles of bike routes to Portland at a projected cost of $558 million.
The high cost is largely because of the extensive construction required to build separated in-road bike lanes: 372 miles at more than a million dollars per mile. Countless miles of traffic lanes and on-street parking are to be eliminated in the process…
Bicycle soldiers! I love it.
Seriously though, people of Portland, despite what you might read, there is nothing to fear. Yes, people who care about biking are a strong and vocal bunch, but we’re not going to eat your babies. We’re just trying to encourage city officials to build our city in a way that gives everyone the most comfortable and efficient experience possible.
Stay tuned. This should be an interesting week.