Today is the Big Day for Portlanders — the day City Council holds a special hearing on the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030. We’ll have lots of coverage to come, both live from City Hall today and plenty of analysis tomorrow. For now, let me direct you to the conversation in greater Portland being furthered with help from our local media outlets.
Overnight there was a lot more coverage of the plan that I want to bring your attention to.
First, the Daily Journal of Commerce gave their take with, Bike Plan Funding Starts Small. It was quite a contrast to the hysteria-inducing front page debacle in The Oregonian yesterday. Of note were comments by bike plan project manager Ellen Vanderslice in response to how funding for the plan would trickle out:
“We don’t have that amount of discretionary funding for any mode of transportation,” Vanderslice said. “To get to a place where we can take funding from cars and give that to bikes, we need to prove that the demand is here first.”
This is a new line of response that I haven’t heard before and it makes me wonder whether Mayor Adams is feeling heat from all the “hefty price tag” rhetoric being spewed in the local media. The big problem I see with this response from Vanderslice is this: The plan says it wants to attracted the “interested but concerned.” These are folks who are not riding because the network does not adequately serve them — so how can the City show demand before new infrastructure and policies happen?
On to The Oregonian. Their all-powerful Editorial Board weighed in on the plan to solidify their position on the plan. Continuing their tone from yesterday, the title of the editorial is, Riding into the future on two (expensive) wheels. Here are a few choice excerpts:
“A great idea, right? Well, let’s hit the brakes for a moment and maintain a sane speed. The hitch is money.”
As I explained yesterday, it’s simply insane to characterize the plan like this. I repeat. This plan is just a blueprint, it does not commit the city to anything. It simply gives planners a framework for the future. The funding is a separate conversation.
I love this next line:
“… it would create familiar striped lanes on roads we now drive;”
So there it is. Plain as day. The Oregonian thinks of “we” as people who drive. No wonder they are having trouble getting behind this amazingly thoughtful and important bicycle transportation plan. Those darn bicyclists are going to take over our roads!
Oh, but lest you think The Oregonian is anti-bike:
“We like bikes just fine. Fulfilling our aspirations to be a great biking town can start today with passage of the plan as long as it carries a commitment that only the truly necessary paths be built with financial burdens carefully considered and spread widely.”
Do they realize that the plan actually calls for “carefully considering” the funding sources? The City is all about careful consideration — that’s exactly what this plan is all about, but The Oregonian makes it seem like that’s their idea and that somehow the bike plan includes radically aggressive and irrational spending schemes.
“Let’s proceed slowly, block by block, as we release the brakes.”
Sounds like a great idea. Actually, that’s exactly what PBOT plans to do as per the article yesterday in the Daily Journal of Commerce.
And the unfortunate “hefty price tag” meme has spread from the papers to the airwaves. KGW reported on their prime-time news last night that:
“At 2 p.m. the Portland City Council will vote on whether to spend roughly $600 million dollars on about 650 miles of new “bikeways” over the next 20 years.”
Again, that’s just not true. The vote is to pass a plan, not to pass a $600 million expenditure. But even so, let’s ask some “taxpayers” what they think and let’s throw out the ever-popular “$1 million per mile” line:
“But with a price tag nearing $1 million per mile, many are asking – is this responsible spending? Near the Lloyd Center Portland taxpayers weigh in.
“I think the money could go to something a little more important like job creation,” Anthony Wilson said.”
And finally (for now), there’s right-leaning radio talk show host Victoria Taft, who rips into the plan as just a bunch of “pork barrel spending” that the “vehicle owners” will be stuck with.
See you at the rally!