The other cities that will join Portland are: Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; San Francisco, California; and Washington, D.C.. These cities were chosen from a pool of 42 applicants.
About the selection, project leader Martha Roskowski said via a statement, “We are delighted to be working with these forward-thinking cities. They are a range of sizes, spread across the country, and at various stages in terms of developing networks for bicycles. What they share is a strong commitment to rethinking how city streets are used and making room for bicycles.”
The impetus behind the Green Lane Project is to hasten the implementation of world-class bike facilities — like cycle tracks, and other protected bikeways — in U.S. cities. While Portland and other cities are dabbling in protected lanes and other bike-centric road designs, no city has yet built a truly world-class, connected, safe and comfortable network of bikeways that rivals what we see in top European cycling cities. Through this project, Bikes Belong won’t fund any projects; but they will, “provide resources and technical assistance to help the six focus cities accomplish their goals of creating this type of protected space for people on bikes.”
In the next two months, Green Lane Project staff will work with local elected officials, City staff, and advocacy groups to iron out details. A big announcement of each city’s vision and goals will be released at a national kickoff event in Chicago in late May. GreenLaneProject.org will become a hub for all U.S. cities (not just the ones selected) to share experiences and learn from each other.
If you’re wondering why New York City — the U.S. leaders in protected bikeways — wasn’t chosen, it’s worth noting that the NYC DOT is a senior advisor to the program.
The selection of Portland comes with a sigh of relief. Some observers thought Bikes Belong wouldn’t select us, due to the (mistaken in my opinion) perception that we already have plenty of momentum for this type of thing. The truth is, we need all the help we can get. Despite being one of the pioneers in bikeway development, Portland has not kept pace with other cities in developing protected bikeways in the urban core. Perhaps the biggest benefit this project will provide for us, in addition to a kick-in-the-pants and important national visibility, is a reaffirmation of the need for better bikeways just as we settle into a new mayor and new City Council members.
In Portland we are experiencing that it can be very difficult to go from good to great. I hope this project helps us get over that hump.
For more on the Green Lane Project, watch the video below: