[Refresh this story for latest updates. Don’t miss my slideshow and recap of the rally prior to the hearing.]
Things are underway here in Council Chambers at the 2030 Bike Plan hearing.
Mayor Adams kicked things off with an intro (this update of our 1996 plan began when he was Transportation Commissioner, he now continues to oversee PBOT as Mayor):
I always consider our transportation system to be in service to larger city goals… Bikes aren’t the total answer, but they’re a very important piece of acheiving those goals.
… We build what we can afford now, we’ve prioritized our efforts, and with something [projects] to pitch, we can gather more support and resources for the much more difficult and expensive projects to come.
I believe we can’t afford not to do this. As manager of our multi-billion dollar system, it’s my job to offer to Council an efficient use of what we already have. The best way we can do that is to shift trips away from single-occupancy vehicles — not all trips, but more trips, to bicycles. Dollar for dollar, it makes economic sense. For less than 2% of our budget since 1996, we’ve seen ridership grow, that’s a good return on investment.
Yes, it’s expensive, but its benefits extend far beyond just bicycles….
Adams then spoke about several specific projects and explained how they benefit the entire city. Then, he concluded:
“This is not a plan that will sit on the shelf and gather dust. The plan establishes a task force that will look under every rock [for funding sources] and report back [to City Council]… Portland will be a cleaner and healthier city, because more of our money will stay local and we’ll spend less on cars and it will allow affordable and safe transportation options for all Portlanders.”
Portland Planning Commission head Howard Shapiro:
“This is not just a bicycle plan, this is a transportation plan. This will change everything and the commission enthusiastically endorses the work of the bureau of transportation.”
Alta Planning CEO, former PBOT bike coordinator, author, etc.. Mia Birk:
“This is the country’s finest plan… It’s not an anti-car plan, we’re not forcing anyone out of their cars. It will just make biking even more irresistible than it is today… We’ve proven bike transportation is a simple win-win solution for a host of issues… We’re also raising the bar for the whole country — they’re looking to us to continue. to show the leadership we’ve shown so far.”
Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves:
“We’ve got a half-million to a million people moving here in the coming years… We have to be bold. We have to do something different. I’m also a father… I used to be a “strong and fearless” rider, but the older I get I’m sliding into the “interested but concerned” category. I’m now enthused and concerned…”
Lillian Shirley, Director of Multnomah County Health Department:
“This plan supports social interaction and activity… It really promotes a sense of community… Another really important thing about the plan is that it helps us ensure the health of the community… It promotes a community vision that’s inclusive of all of us.”
Donna Cohen, St. Johns resident:
“When bikes pass pedestrians, the law says they should make an audible warning and move over… I find this to be the exception rather than the rule. I can’t support this plan until there’s more education and enforcement efforts on how bikes pass pedestrians on shared routes.”
Terry Parker, resident:
“Motorists and taxpayers ought to be outraged… Stacked deck committees… Excessive price tag… Hidden from public view until recently… Bicyclists want special privileges and immunities… Heirarchy movements have no place in America… Redistribution of wealth is against the Constitution… They want all the thrills as long as someone else pays for it.”
Jonathan Nicholas, Marketing VP Oregon Dental Services, founder of Cycle Oregon, member of Metro’s Executive Council on Active Transportation:
“I’m not especially fond of bicycles… I think of bicycles the way I think about broccoli — really useful for some people but not ever going to be really popular. I don’t worry about bicycles, I worry about our city, and the people that live hear. The key players who care for our citizens are not commissioners; it is those who labor here to create and sustain the jobs that allow us to live…
We live in a profoundly sick city. Thousands of Portlanders are addicted to prescription drugs… and a vast amount of the maladies are self-inflicted… We’ve locked ourselves into a downward spiral… Staggering health care costs are stifling our growth and job creation. The solution isn’t more health care, it’s much less health care.
You may have heard of the concept of active transportation. It’s a multi-pronged assault… it’s nothing more than an integrated matrix within which people can comfortably walk or ride or take transit to everywhere they work or play… We’re advocating nothing less than the retro-fitting of our entire urban environment… Including those concrete rights of way [freeways] and re-purposing them for a higher purpose. The bicycle plan you can adopt today is just one small step in the direction of making biking one pillar of a fully integrated transportation system. The major employers of our community — no fewer than 5 of the top 7 in our city — are in the health business… They are clamoring for this commitment and you imperil us all today if you ignore their demands.”
Katie Larsell, outer East Portland resident:
“I think there’s huge potential to increase ridership in east Portland… We have 35% of all population… and benefits of more cyclists would have a disproportionate [positive] impact on our neighborhoods… Cycling makes for a good neighhood…
When it comes to business as usual, this plan leaves bicycling in outer East Portland out… The eastside needs proactive investment by the city of Portland if we are going to have the valuable bicycling amenitites that the rest of Portland has.”
Michelle Poyourow, BTA:
“Adopting this plan and building this plan is one of the biggest steps we can take in making Portland a healthy and safe city. I’ve heard a few people say this plan would be expensive if built… But I’d say, compared to what? If you compare the cost of this entire plan over 20 years, it compares to just one single light rail line… In addition, the cost of this plan — just like the cost of urban freeways — there are opportunities for us to get new sources of funding from federal and state sources. The BTA’s 100 business supporters support this plan and you’ve received letters from Portland Business Alliance in support and from a joint effort of the the BTA and the Bicycle Business League in support of this plan… I believe they support it because of the health care costs of their employees they’ll save on…”
Alison Graves, Community Cycling Center:
“This will make Portland the healthiest city in the county.”
Lenny Anderson, Director of Swan Island Transportation Management Association:
“[Bikeways on Swan Island] need to be above the curb (on the sidewalk)… I’m not going to rely on paint to protect me from a 54 foot truck.”
Don Arambula, Crandall/Arambula Architecture:
“[This plan is] timid and underwhelming… Don’t adopt it until actions put forward by George Crandall are addressed.” [See below for Crandall’s testimony/suggestions.]
George Crandall, Crandall/Arambula Architecture:
“This morning The Oregonian pointed out that only 7% of population will ride on the road with traffic… This plan does little to attract ridership.. Our firm’s analysis indicates this plan is for the strong and fearless — it’s a 10% solution.
Portland will be lucky to get 10% ridership with a bike boulevard and paint-on-the-street approach… It’s uninformed and full of exaggerations… The plan ignores the ‘capable but cautious’… Amsterdam, etc… achieved this mode split with cycle tracks connected to land use… It was developed by the strong and fearless to serve their constituents… Certainly is not a vision for the future… It’s a missed opportunity. Here’s what you should to: 1) Accept plan as as good first step. 2) Staff should refine it for a 40% solution 3) Do some economic stimulus analysis.”
Council has decided to postpone the vote until next week. Adams says, “Don’t worry, it’s going to pass!” Commissioner Fritz has a list of things she wants to look into.
Adams addressed the crowd:
“You want your city council invested in the details… taking another week to get those questions answered is really worth the cause … thanks for your patience.”