Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Council approves $7.825 million for bicycling and walking citywide

Posted by on August 17th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

BAC Bike Ride East Portland-2

People on bikes will be able to breathe
easier on SE Holgate thanks to
federal funds approved by City
Council today.
(Photo © J. Maus)

It was a big day at City Hall for all Portlanders who care about the myriad benefits of more bicycling and walking.

With the passage of a federal funding request with $6.6 million for three projects that will improve bicycling and walking throughout the city, and an additional $1.25 million for two projects that passed as an amendment, City Council approved nearly $8 million worth of active transportation projects today.

Here’s a bit more about each of the projects that will benefit from the funds…

Portland Bike Share – $2 million
The big news of the day was that Portland is now on track to launch a major bike share system. The money approved today is one-half of the estimated $4 million in start-up funds that PBOT says they need to “go big” and make a successful system. Current plans call for 740 bicycles and 74 stations (which will use smart-card, RFID, and GPS technology to provide easy check-out and minimize theft). PBOT says the plan is to put stations roughly every five blocks on the west side of the Willamette and a more “targeted station placement” on the east side.

Slide from PBOT presentation at Council today

TriMet is already on board as a bike share partner and Gerik Kransky with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) says they’ve already set aside space at upcoming Orange Line MAX stations for bike share kiosks. Portland Streetcar is also on board, with PBOT saying they will “integrate bike share in its payment systems and fare structure” (more on the streetcar/bike share connection here and here).

With the federal funds imminent, Council will likely allow PBOT to move forward with planning. Next steps will include the unveiling of a public process to garner input on on the project and creation of an RFP to find an operator of the system.

Total start-up costs for the Portland Bike Share project is $4 million and ongoing operations are estimated to cost $1.5 million per year (which are expected to be paid for through user fees and private sponsorship).

Foster Road Safety Enhancements – $1.25 million
This project will focus on improvements to crossing foster on foot or by bike and it will create better access to existing transit stops. The focus areas for the project are:

  • The “Heart of Foster” Business District, which runs from SE 63rd to SE 67th Ave
  • The “Green Link”, at SE 72nd Ave.
  • The “Crossroads District,” which runs from SE 80th to 84th Ave.
  • And other “select crossing locations” between SE 50th and 84th.

Check out the map below…

Other elements of this project include new sidewalk lighting, street trees, bike parking, and more.

Total project costs are $3.25 million. $2 million of this project will be funded through PDC Urban Renewal funds.

East Portland Active Transportation to Transit – $3.36 million
This project got the largest allocation today. The funds will be spent on biking and walking improvements in the area east of I‐205, south of I‐84 and north of Foster Road.

Here’s the official project description:

Within this area the project will develop or improve four connected bikeway corridors, provide bicycle parking at transit facilities, improve pedestrian access to transit and conduct a targeted encouragement program to promote use of the new facilities.

Improved east‐west bicycle facilities connecting to Gateway, Division and Holgate LRT stations on Green line; Improved north‐south bicycle facility in the 128th to 134th avenue corridor; Infill missing sidewalk gaps on SE Division from I‐205 to 148th Ave; targeted crossing treatments of Division and 122nd Ave; Targeted bus stop investments based on ridership (e.g. seating, shelters, ADA landing pads); High quality bicycle parking at targeted transit facilities; Post‐construction SmartTrips program.

Here’s a map of the improvements (click for large PDF):

Sullivan’s Gulch Corridor – $500,000
This project was one of two left out of PBOT federal funding request, but Commissioner Nick Fish successfully passed an amendment today to set aside $500,000 for it. The original request sought $1.25 million to complete the planning and engineering for the corridor.

Here’s the text of Fish’s amendment that passed today:

“Council directs PBOT to dedicate $500,000 from grants and/or General Transportation Revenues for design and/or construction of segments of the Sullivan’s Gulch Trail on existing public right-of-way.

SW Barbur Streetscape Plan/Demonstration Project – $750,000
This is the other project left off the official PBOT list, but funded partially thanks to Fish’s amendment. The original, $2.25 million project request would have funded a slew of improvements to the bicycling and walking environment on SW Barbur between SW 19th to 26th. With a reduced funding amount, PBOT will work with ODOT to identify the highest priority improvements.

Here’s the language from Fish’s amendment:

Council directs PBOT to dedicate $750,000 for safety improvements at pedestrian crossings on Barbur Blvd between SW 19th Ave and SW 26th Ave with the source of the funds being ODOT, grants, project savings and/or PBOT safety accounts.

These five projects total a $7.825 million investment in bicycling and walking that will improve conditions in nearly every part of Portland. Stay tuned for more coverage of each project as the next steps materialize.

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  • Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Portland approves spending millions (If I remember right the mayor also approved a $600 million bike project) while facing the shut-down of several schools…


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    • Charley August 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      We can have a disagreement about policy. But we can’t disagree about facts. You know, those pesky things that represent REALITY. This $600 million figure has not been budgeted, allocated, or spent. It’s a pie in the sky estimate of what it would take to build everything in the Bike Plan over the next 20 odd years or whatever. And it’s a drop in the bucket of overall transportation spending. So get your facts straight.

      Lies don’t become true by repetition.

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    • laura August 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      “Color of money.” Transportation bucks can’t be used for schools. AND school population has been in decline; those schools (and a few more) should be closed. But IMHO, bikeshare is a private enterprise, and should be left to stand on it’s own merits.

      Great that they threw some support to Sullivan’s and Barbur, though!

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    • Chris I August 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Transportation funding does not equal school funding. We don’t discuss the politics of transportation vs. school funding on this blog, we discuss transportation.

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    • was carless August 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      Funding for schools comes from the State, not cities. It is illegal for municipalities to directly fund school districts. Get yer facts straight!

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  • are August 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    not one penny of the six hundred million was actually allocated, and/or if these five projects are seen as part of the 2030 plan, this seven million counts toward the imaginary six hundred

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  • Gregg Woodlawn August 17, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks City Council for passing these funding requests!

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  • Harvey August 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Bikeshare should be a private enterprise. Period.
    If there is demand and a viable market, then someone from the private sector should run it at a profit so some tax money can go for all these other projects.

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    • Ted Buehler August 18, 2011 at 12:49 am

      Harvey —
      Do you also think that Trimet should be a private enterprise?

      Ted Buehler

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      • dan August 18, 2011 at 9:52 am

        Trimet reduces the volume of private vehicles that are driven into downtown: a clear public benefit. I suspect that bike share will not, though I admit that’s just my guess, not based on any facts.

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        • Chris I August 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

          So, these people using the bike share. What would they be doing otherwise? Walking? Riding their own bikes, or renting? Wouldn’t at least some of them be driving downtown?

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          • dan August 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

            I think that bike share is most likely to replace short trips in the downtown core, so people would otherwise be walking.

            I don’t buy the “last mile” argument: people drive now because if they take the bus, they would have to walk the last few blocks to their office. I think people drive so they don’t have to take the bus: bike share won’t cut that down.

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  • Matt M August 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Folks need to remember that these are just requests for funding from the feds, being distrubted by Metro, not actual funds the city has to spend. These projects still have to get approved by a Metro committee, and there are other projects from Clackamas and Washington County. If I have my facts right, these projects won’t get funded until 2014 (if they get funded), so don’t get too excited yet. I think the header of this post is a little misleading.

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  • Chris I August 18, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I wonder what their plan for Division is. Will it get the same treatment Holgate got? Or will they try and remove parking?

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    • NF August 18, 2011 at 8:43 am

      In Gresham, along Division, they replaced the parking with a large, buffered bike lane. From what I’ve observed we use our on-street parking more along division, so full parking removal might be difficult.

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  • Diego August 18, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Bike share? REALLY? Does anyone actually believe those numbers in the PBOT slide? Talk about pie in the sky…

    How many miles of segregated bike path could that $2 million dollars have built? How many dangerous intersections could have been improved? How many improvements to the still-incomplete 40 mile loop could have been made?

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    • Alan 1.0 August 18, 2011 at 8:14 am
      • Diego August 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

        Using an outlier as an example is a great rhetorical technique to make an argument, but it is an extreme example: Capitol Hwy is a huge, major thoroughfare, it’s going to be one of the most expensive places to build a sidewalk in the state.

        How much does a mile of bike path or a mile of bike lanes cost? Definitely not anywhere CLOSE to $19 million.

        For $2 million I bet we could spray a lot more bike lanes…

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  • Oliver August 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

    PBOT: Please engineer the Sullivans Gulch trail with no surface street crossings. Do the tricky stuff if you have to….make it work.

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    • Unit August 18, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Oliver – that’s the intent. Relaity will probably be somewhat different. Remember that Union Pacific controls much of the right-of-way, and since railroads have more power than government, UP will get to make many of these decisions.

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  • Spiffy August 18, 2011 at 10:03 am


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  • Fronk August 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Do the bikeshare bikes come with rain pants, rain coats and lights? Because until I invested in gore-tex and spendy lighting, commuting was not comfortable for me after the six weeks of summer ended. If the bike share thing falls flat because of our climate, more important projects like a less dangerous Williams bike lane will suffer.

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    • Joe C August 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      In Portland climate will of course be a concern, but it’s arguable this city has better weather than others where bike sharing systems have worked (London, Montreal, Copenhagen–though the latter’s bikeshare only operates from April to Nov.).

      According to http://www.brucesussman.com/ PDX has seen only 91 “rainy” days this year (today is the 230th day of the year). But even on rainy days, the rain isn’t continuous like it is in, say, monsoon season in South/Southeast Asia.

      Personally I don’t let something like rain stop me from enjoying this beautiful city anyway. Regardless of season, I go outside for lengthy portions of time every day, even if it’s a short walk after work to the grocery store, a friend’s, the library or to my favorite neighborhood haunts. Similarly, the bike share system will be geared mostly toward those making short trips, last mile to/from transit, downtown lunch breaks, that sort of thing. So I don’t think weather will play that much of a role in its success or failure, ultimately.

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  • GlowBoy August 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I support all of yesterday’s expenditures except the $2M to bikesharing. It might provide some benefit, but IMO it’s at least as likely to prove an expensive boondoggle.

    Meanwhile, that $2M could buy us quite a few desperately needed infrastructure improvements — including full funding of the Sullivan’s Gulch planning and engineering as requested. Kudos to Nick Fish for at least keeping that from getting zeroed out completely.

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    • John Mulvey August 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      My understanding was that the Sullivan’s Gulch project is going to be a very challenging longterm process and the funding requested from RFF was only a piece of the total cost.

      Because (1) it involves acquisition of some privately owned rights-of-way, and (2) much of the route would be carved out of hillsides, they really don’t have a useful ballpark figure on the total cost yet. In fact I’m not even sure the engineers know whether it’s possible to build.

      So this round of funds was only going to buy some preliminary planning. The full build out will be a lot more money.

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  • GlowBoy August 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Agreed, $1.25M does not actually build the Sullivan’s Gulch trail, and there are major engineering and ownership challenges. Longer trails (or even shorter ones — case in point, eastside Esplanade) often take quite a few million to build. More important to me than Sullivan’s Gulch would be the Red Electric route through SW Portland, though I know it will be quite a few years and millions before fruition.

    But we can’t finish the Sullivan’s Gulch until we start it, and $1.25M would have at least funded most of the preliminary planning and engineering so we’d know what we’re dealing with.

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  • Roger Averbeck August 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I served as a volunteer member of the Capitol Hwy CAC.

    The 1.0 comment by Alan 1.0 above deserves a response. The Cap Hwy project is not 1 mile of sidewalks for $19 million, this is gross oversimplification, that has unfortunately been repeated many times.

    The project includes: Complete reconstruction of a mile of a district collector street; realignment of two intersections; installation of stormwater facilities, including pipes and bioswales, where non exist today; addition of bike lanes on this Major City Bikeway in the 2030 Bike Plan; sidewalks and several pedestrian cross walks; and improvement of multiple transit stops.

    A significant part of the project cost is due to the stormwater improvements required by state law.

    More info at:


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