BTA hears top project ideas for ‘Blueprint’ effort

BTA Blueprint meeting at City Hall-3
Steve Hoyt-McBeth jots down his group’s ideas
at yesterday’s event in City Hall.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

At City Hall during the lunch hour yesterday, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) enlisted the help of Portland’s brightest biking minds to prioritize the “world-class bikeways” that will act as the organization’s ‘Blueprint‘ for the future.

The event was hosted by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) as part of their monthly “Bicycle Brown Bag” discussion series. Around 40 people showed up for the participatory discussion (10 of which were women, if you’re counting). BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky and Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky opened the event by offering some historical context.

The BTA is looking re-do their 2005 Blueprint for Better Bicycling; a document that listed 40 priority projects the BTA and their members wanted to see completed (they released a status report back in August). The goal of the Blueprint, said Kransky, is to have a focus for advocacy and leverage to tell politicians and policymakers, “Hey look, this is what the bike people want.”

As for what makes the BTA’s new list, that’s what they asked for help with yesterday.

Attendees (many of them professional bike planners and/or agency staffers) broke into small groups to hash out their top projects. Each group had a scribe to record the ideas and then the top three were shared at the end. Eavesdropping on all the groups, I heard similar (and not unexpected) themes emerge. More separated facilities on major streets, more funding, more multi-use paths. (Note: The Blueprint will try to include projects from all 25 cities and three counties in the Portland region.)

Two groups put the North Willamette Greenway Trail on the top of their list (and specifically called out using the Ash Grove “cement road” route). The Sullivan’s Gulch project also ranked high. Extending the cycle-track on SW Broadway came up several times, with one group calling for a dedicated bikeway couplet on Broadway and 4th. Outside the central city, two groups ranked a major bikeway on SW Barbur Blvd in their top three and one group wanted to see more bikeways on east Portland arterials.

Here’s a look at some of the lists…

When one group reported back that someone wanted a tunnel for bicycles through the West Hills, many in the room laughed. How is that funny, I wondered. MAX has a tunnel, so do cars (and a freeway too). Big ideas are what we need! If we laugh at them, how can we ever expect policymakers to take our “world-class” dreams seriously? Sorry, I digress.

The BTA says they’ll take the feedback from yesterday’s event, run them through their strategic plan and share them with their Board of Directors. They hope to have the list ready to go before April 2013.

On their blog yesterday, Kransky put their effort into perspective: “The day the new Blueprint goes public is the day the hard work starts. It will likely take millions of dollars, thousands of hours, and dozens of years to achieve the bold vision we have in mind.”

— Learn more about the BTA’s Blueprint on their website.

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