Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 11th, 2010 at 3:02 pm
“It shows our support for getting going with a bang.”
— Mayor Adams on his $20 million commitment
One week after a big rally was held outside City Hall, The Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 passed with unanimous support by City Council this afternoon and the vote came with a $20 million commitment from Mayor Adams.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who created quite a dust storm with a funding proposal last week, decided to heed advice from the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and fold his idea into the plan (which calls for a Funding Task Force where ideas like his can be fleshed out).
After dispatching with Saltzman’s amendment, saying “I think this plan deserves better in terms of a funding source,” Adams proposed a new funding concept that will commit $20 million to bike projects. Adams said he’ll return to council in 30 days with more details on the “kickstart funding option,” but for now he said, “It shows our support for getting going with a bang.”
According to Adams’ transportation policy advisor Catherine Ciarlo, the Mayor’s idea commits $2 million per year to bike projects for the next 10 years (the money will also be “bonded against,” a process which I still don’t completely understand).
Adams’ office is yet to figure out every detail of where the $2 million per year will come from. The main source will be the Bureau of Environmental Services’ (BES) Green Streets program. BES and PBOT have worked together via the Green Streets program for years. In a nutshell, the program re-constructs roads to better handle stormwater runoff. The big bike-related component of Green Streets are curb extensions with bioswales (see photo at right).
Adams’ concept is to work with Saltzman and BES to find money in the BES budget, devote it to the Green Streets program, and then build curb extensions with the money. Curb extensions (also known as “neckdowns”) are a popular — and expensive — tool in PBOT’s bike boulevard tool kit.
It’s important to note that Adams’ $20 million, if it comes mostly from BES, will not be a blank check to build cycle tracks, buffered bike lanes, etc… The funds will only go toward curb extensions and other street features that are part of the Green Streets program. While that constraint might disappoint some (especially those who despise curb extensions in general), it also means other funds available for bike projects can go toward other things.
Another place in the BES budget Adams said he’d look for funds is “administrative savings” from the bureau’s Big Pipe project, which he said is “winding down.”
The other Commissioners had nothing but praise for Adams and the plan.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz said “This is a plan that is not going to sit on the shelf; it will get daily use.” Addressing concerns she’s heard about the “$600 million price tag” of the plan, she said she is still focused on her mantra of “providing basic services” to Portlanders and that “walking and bicycling are basic services.” “All of us want all of our citizens to be safe as they move around our city.”
Commissioner Nick Fish prefaced his remarks by turning to Mayor Adams and saying, “This is your moment, so I’ll be brief.” He gave Adams and PBOT staff a lot of credit for seeing the plan through. “I can’t think of a process that has been more inclusive… credit goes to the Mayor.” Fish also remarked that, “This will make bicycling a cornerstone of Portland’s sustainable transportation system…. As a father of a 6 year old, this is particularly exciting for me.” (Fish also used his time to mention his work on creating more off-road trail opportunities in Portland.)
Before voting in support of the plan, Commissioner Dan Saltzman said, “If we waited for funding before we did something we wouldn’t have streetcars!… You have to be ambitious and shoot for the stars. This is a plan that does that.”
Saltzman also addressed Adams’ “kickstart” funding concept, saying, “It’s a concept I’m fully prepared to embrace, but I need to think about how it might impact ratepayers and… I need to see the details…”
Commissioner Randy Leonard called Adams’ funding idea, “Ingenious.” “It ties our desire to build smarter streets and sidewalks and bikeways with the impact it has on our streams and rivers.”
Michelle Poyourow of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, an advocate who has contributed immensely to the development of the Bike Plan, said, “I can’t think of a better way to end my second-to-last day on the job.” (She resigned from the BTA last week).
The vote was 5-0. There were big smiles from the PBOT staff on hand. They have worked extremely hard on this plan and I’m sure they are all going to celebrate tonight.