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A look back at a look ahead: Portland’s bikeway evolution

Posted by on May 15th, 2012 at 11:37 am

Please note: I’ve posted an updated version of this animation that is much more detailed.

Portland’s paltry network of bike-specific
infrastructure, circa 1980. See how it has evolved below.

Portland’s bike network was not built overnight. Most of our bike-specific infrastructure was built in the mid to late 1990s, but it really started in the early ’80s. About seven years ago (before many of you even knew about BikePortland), I stitched together an animation showing how Portland’s bike network has evolved.

Yesterday, something on Twitter sparked my memory of the animation, so I shared it again. Given how it has spread overnight, I figured many folks might be interested in seeing it again (or for the first time). The animation shows the spread of bike-specific infrastructure in Portland from 1980 through 2005 (and then into the future) in five year increments. Check it out:

bikewayanimation

This really puts what has happened here into perspective don’t you think?

And by the way, the graphics are taken from a presentation given by City of Portland Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller. Thanks Roger!

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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OregonBicyclist
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OregonBicyclist

How does the 2030 bicycle plan compare to the “future” map envisioned here? Is it the same or even more expansive?

Tim Davis
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Tim Davis

Beautiful graphic, Jonathan! And incredible, tireless work, as always!

Much of our bikeway evolution has consisted of painting lines and sharrows on busy car-dominated streets, which unfortunately does ZERO for the “interested but concerned” folks. Nearly all of your regular readers, including myself, are not afraid to bike anywhere, so those painted lines and figures don’t do much for us, either–an exception being Williams/Vancouver.

We need to make cycling incredibly safe and easy to navigate for the “interested but concerned” crowd if we’re ever going to hope to get beyond a 10% bike mode split in Portland–and beyond 2% in the suburbs.

I’m heading to Minneapolis in a few weeks, and I cannot wait to check out their incredible bike trail (transit) network. I’ll give you my full report. 🙂 I’ve been to DC several times, and I always take advantage of their wonderful trails when I’m there.

Just imagine the eco-tourism and unbelievable bump in quality of life we’ll enjoy, not to mention $billions saved in health care costs, road maintenance, auto dependence, etc., when (if ever, ever) Sullivan’s Gulch, NP Greenway and many others are (maybe? please?!?) finally completed. Maybe it’ll take a huge, committed volunteer crew to help get these trails built at last!

Schrauf
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Schrauf

Cool – great improvement. It seems like there might be a lot of changes from 2005 to 2010 or 2012, but it skips to the Future version pretty fast, so it is hard to tell.

Gregg
Guest

I love this. Can we get a map of “Today” or maybe what will be finished by the end of the summer?

bws
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This is great! Thanks for posting it.

kittens
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kittens

Does anyone know what the 1980 stubs in NW and Sellwood are?

oskarbaanks
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oskarbaanks

That was fun to watch! So much so that, I watched it 8 or 9 times!

Joe
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Joe

Does anyone know where to get this data?

I’d love to make this more interactive and maybe compare the number of miles built with the bicycle counts.

Some of the data is available here: http://civicapps.org/datasets/bicycle-network. But that only has dates for the ODOT projects, not PBOT.

Daniel Knighten
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Progress is progress and something is better than nothing but I totally agree with Tim D. A lot of the “bike paths” in Portland are nothing more than a bike symbol painted in the road shoulder. For example, the vast majority of non-bike riders are incredulous that I would bike along Barbur Blvd and looking at it objectively you can see why. The bike path or road shoulder puts you very close to 30+ mph car traffic and is filled with gravel, broken glass, and sewer drains.

Sharrows would not have saved James Fallon-Cote life.

Stripes
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Stripes

I don’t see a key to this data anywhere. What do the different colored lines represent? Without a key, this map is somewhat useless.

The reason I ask is, I *suspect* the green lines are supposed to represent bike boulevards? If so, I am curious why it is showing the NW quadrant as currently having bike boulevards.

NW does not currently have any bike boulevards. Or if it does, they do not have a single traffic calming element on them, which renders them utterly pointless.

Confused! Anyone able to explain?

DK
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DK

Very cool.
Thank you for sharing.