(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)
Want to lead the public process on a project that will likely be the most important investment in downtown bicycling access in the history of Portland? Then step right up and submit your application.
“I think there are a lot of expectations around what we might be able to do with this funding; but there are a lot of challenges to deliver on those high aspirations.”
— Art Pearce, PBOT
Yesterday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation posted the job announcement for a Capital Project Manager that will focus specifically on their Central City Multi-Modal Safety Project.
That project, which is already over two years in the making, would establish a network of protected bike lanes through the heart of downtown Portland. So far, the city plans to spend $6 million (from a federal grant) to make it happen.
At PBOT’s monthly Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting in City Hall last night, city bike coordinator Roger Geller said the project is, “A great opportunity to change the shape of the Central City.”
Just how the shape of downtown changes is still up in the air. And that’s something that the new project manager will help decide. Reached today via phone, PBOT Capital Program Manager Dan Layden said they’re looking for someone that “can deliver a complicated project — from both an engineering and political perspective.”
Asked why the project is so complicated, PBOT Transportation Policy, Planning and Projects Group Manager Art Pearce told us it’s all about meeting the community’s expectations. “I think there are a lot of expectations around what we might be able to do with this funding; but there are a lot of challenges to deliver on those high aspirations.”
PBOT themselves has played a role in setting such high expectations. Always careful to not anger any stakeholders prematurely, their grant application said the project would “preserve capacity for important uses” while it would also “create as much separation as possible between people walking or bicycling and automobile traffic.” The key for whoever takes the reins of this project will be to balance both of those goals.
It’s no surprise PBOT is approaching this project with caution, given what’s at stake in terms of both the amount of investment and how the project is vital to their adopted goal of reaching a 25% bicycle usage rate by 2030.
Three years ago the agency got railroaded by the Portland Business Alliance for trying to add a protected bike lane to SW 12th Avenue. Sources say the PBA opposed the SW 12th Avenue project because they felt PBOT hadn’t fully considered how it might impact traffic flow on adjacent streets. The city’s lesson from that debacle is to have a comprehensive downtown bicycle network plan in place before asking for the PBA’s blessing on “one-offs.”
While there’s likely to be a lot of hand-wringing about auto parking and freight access preservation, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance has already said they see the project as, “An opportunity for us to make a big bold political statement about committing space on a major thoroughfare to bikes.”
As an interesting side note, Dan Bower, the PBOT employee who spearheaded the grant that funds this project, has since left the agency to become executive director of Portland Streetcar, Inc. But Bower’s fingerprints will likely remain on the project: As of last night he’s one of 13 new members on the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee — a group that will likely hold considerable sway in where any new bikeways go and what they end up looking like.
The grant money for this project doesn’t officially kick-in until 2016, so PBOT hopes to start some of the work now and hit the ground running when the formal public process begins late this summer.
— Read our past coverage of the Central City Multi-Modal Safety Project.
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I rode the southern segment of the Williams left-hand bike lane yesterday. The moment I entered the buffered section I felt a lot more at ease and less worried about the traffic to my right, but I was still finding myself worrying a lot about the parked cars to my left. I feel the same riding the NW Everett bike lane. Why is free on-street parking so vehemently protected?
godspeed! lets not have “another williams” debacle both in planning and execution.
broadway is nightmare but dang I love riding it. 🙂
SW 3rd Ave and also all of Natio Pkwy need lots of help.
PBOT claims they know how design “world-class” bike infra, but they end up putting in sub-par bike lanes such as the one on Williams. Let’s hope they actually live up to their word this time.
It may pay well but it’s going to be a stressful thankless job.
I’m sure most of us here with thank them as long as the design is done well and significantly improves biking downtown.
Adam I have a feeling you wouldn’t stand for anything but completely separated cycle tracks.
A standard cycle track is not particularly well-separated from traffic:
Actually, I think for the most part the downtown street grid works fine for cyclists as is, and I would be opposed to any bike lanes or separated facilities that expose cyclists to greater right (or left) hook safety issues at intersections.
I usually ride in the center lane on the north-south arterials and would like to continue to have that option, which would only be available to cyclists after installation of bike-specific infrastructure if the mandatory bike lane statute (ORS 814.420) is repealed at the state level.
Yeah, I also ride in the center of the lane and almost got creamed tonight by a car switching lanes that wasn’t using its turn signal. I’m one of those fast and aggressive cyclists (although increasingly less aggressive with every passing year as I realize how lucky I am that I haven’t been hit), and I’m telling you that the current situation is not optimal.
I’m with you on the MSP repeal but based on over a decade of daily violations, that law is simply not enforced in Portland.
While I personally enjoy riding in the big lane downtown, my partner tells me that aggressive downtown traffic feels threatening. This annoys me because I really enjoy the happy hour at Departure and it’s become a real struggle to convince her to meet me there. In summary, I support protected bike lanes because I want to eat more Korean BBQ tempeh buns.
That sure is a good goal to aim for. Otherwise it is be definition sub-par to anybody but the brave riders. Having multi-town death hurtling along next to the vast majority of cyclists and especially would be cyclists gets us nowhere toward that 25% goal.
I’m sure hoping we can get good clear protected cycle tracks for the length of the road. It sure won’t block up any of the traffic. Even during rush hour, and I know this because I live ON Broadway downtown and watch it everyday from my window, the traffic isn’t all that bad. During non-rush hour there is zero actual congestion. It’s a free flowing roadway.
There’s already more than enough room to put a large and clear cycle track for the length of the road that 8-80 riders would feel comfortable on.
Sorry, but there are just too many intersections and driveways in the downtown street grid for separated cycle tracks to function safely for cyclists.
You will get the appearance of safety but actually increase cyclists’ risk at intersections.
True that, without some pretty clear roundabouts there will always be significant issues to having a clear and safe pathway for all to get through intersections downtown – but ya know, don’t let perfection be the enemy of improvement.
$6M doesn’t buy much. What if all downtown lanes had sharrow markings at the beginning of each block and the signals were re-set to 12 mph progression instead of 18 mph?
All lanes are bike lanes.
Well, you’d still get stuck in traffic then. A few months ago I remember it taking nearly 30 minutes to go from the park blocks to the Hawthorne Bridge during rush hour.
If that happened Portland would become a laughing stock. And we would not move the needle in getting more people to use bicycles.
I disagree. I think installing well-designed protected bike lanes AND sharrows/traffic calming would be a net benefit.
laughing stock to who? The US cities who still have far lower mode share than we do?
They are already set at 12 mph for the most part.
That was my thought too.
Closer to 18 mph.
The guy down the hall says it’s 13-16 mph. It’s true that I’ve definitely noticed in some places where I have to pedal faster to keep up with traffic than others.
“In Portland, OR our downtown progression speeds are 13 to 16 mph depending on time of day. We use a quarter cycle offset system. This works well because the block spacing is limited.”
$6 million pays for over 25,000 sharrows. Do you seriously believe this is the best use of these funds? I personally would love to see PBOT take a page from German infrastructure. Put in a protected/enhanced bike lane AND sharrow adjacent lanes so that motorists understand that bikes may use the full lane (or technically even part of it).
Is this real?
Executive director of Portland Streetcar, Inc., is on the Bicycle Advisory Committee?
Conflict of interest?
not sure what you mean? wouldn’t you want the person in charge on streetcar involved in bike matters or would you rather have silos?
The executive director of PSI who was also PBOT’s Active Transportation Division Manager.
What’s the conflict?
After the Vancouver/Williams debacle, I have very low expectation for the downtown Portland bike routes. The PBA is already pouring the water on this project. If the city could just install a couple blocks of wider sidewalks between Market and Harrison on Naito, I could escape downtown without experiencing the rest of the mess. That would make me happy. No expectations for real progress anywhere else.
Cyclists are not permitted on sidewalks in Downtown per city code.
The Park blocks, both South and North, should be car-free in both directions!
Implementing the Green Loop will take a LOT more money than what $6m can get you. Think how much new signals at every crossing would cost.
I couldn’t agree with this more! Seriously, make Park Ave or whatever that street is car-free the whole distance. Let’s just throw in bollards and keep the cars out. With bollards we could still provide access for emergency vehicles and delivery!!!! It really isn’t too much to ask, I’d bet the vast majority of stores or business along this area are already not auto-dependent to the 3-6 parking spots they have on the Park Ave street(s). I also noticed, since I live on the Park Ave streets, that they stay empty MOST OF THE TIME and at night area almost always empty except for a few that park overnight.
It’s kind of nuts to taint such a beautiful park space with so many parked cars anyway (when they’re there).
Six million is nowhere near enough. Every transportation and infrastructure dollar should be concentrated in the central city.
BTA: “An opportunity for us to make a big bold political statement about committing space on a major thoroughfare to bikes.” – and another big bold political statement that the only place that matters is the central city. The rest of us out here on Mars don’t need sidewalks and rudimentary roads and bike lanes.
“Every transportation and infrastructure dollar should be concentrated in the central city.”
That’s a winning plan! They clearly haven’t gotten a big enough of the percentage already……. DOUBLE DOWN.
It’s $6 million. That’s not huge. There are other plans that are being worked on also that are NOT central city. There’s no point in just cutting off the central city altogether. This is merely one project we’re talking about here,don’t get derailed.
I don’t want protected bike lanes downtown. As it is now, it’s very easy to take a lane and ride with traffic. This allows me the flexibility to turn right or left easily, by positioning myself in the appropriate lane. I refuse to do a stupid jug-handle turn that requires waiting through an additional light cycle. With protected lanes, and with Oregon’s mandatory sidepath law, it would be much more complicated to get where I’m going. Taking the lane would infuriate motorists who wouldn’t understand why I’m not using the provided bike lane. Door zone bike lanes are dangerous, and separated infrastructure causes major sight line issues at intersections. No thanks.
So, you wouldn’t mind the ‘congestion’ of an all lanes are bike lanes sharrow and signal retiming plan?
No, wouldn’t mind that at all.
I agree with you as a bike user and disagree with you as a planning nerd, but all of that assumes we’re talking about _smart_ and well designed separated lanes.
You and I are happier riding in the lane and doing what we need to do to make turns, negotiate traffic, etc. But Portland will NEVER tap into the huge number of potential bike users unless the city takes giant steps to provide well designed, protected, easy to use, perceived-as-safe infrastructure.
The key is that it must be well designed and well maintained. A great example of what not to do is NE Multnomah through the Lloyd Center. Just annoys people like me, while making it harder (and less legal) for me to take the lane; but it’s so confusing, slapdash and interrupted/scary/ill-maintained that it’s not doing anything to attract the “interested but concerned” segment of potential bicycle users.
Agree. I’ve been using the Multnomah facility for the last couple of weeks to avoid the paving project on NE 28th, and it is poorly maintained, used by freight carriers for deliveries and the lights are incredibly poorly timed for cyclists. As a result I rarely see any other cyclists using it.
I very much agree that we need infrastructure that attracts more cautious and concerned riders and that PBOT/portland’s attempts at implementing this kind of infrastructure have not been particularly successful. However. in PBOT’s defense they have been trying to build infrastructure with a funding deficit and even worse — an activism deficit.
I strongly believe that those who want to see more “perceived as safe” infrastructure need to stop complaining and get involved. Specifically, we need loud political engagement that can serve as a counterpoint to the “war on cars” folk who dominate just about every public forum I have attended in the past few years.
And if you want to get involved in loud bike activism bikeloudpdx is a good place to start (in my biased opinion):
That is exactly what we are going to get — “perceived as safe” bike facilities. Of course they won’t actually be safe since they will make things less safe at intersections where most collisions occur, but we will pay a lot for them while giving up our freedom to ride intelligently and effectively.
Sorry but this is a use it or lose it Federal grant. How do you propose spending $6 million dollars on bike infrastructure downtown?
Can’t we just get an entire north/south running street? Make it two ways and ban all automobiles other than emergency and delivery vehicles.
$6M is not enough. How about getting the PBA involved at the get go, putting some $ on the table from their downtown BID and/or helping to create LID(s) to carry some of the cost. LIDs paid for a significant portion of the Streetcar lines, but you need to document that increased bike access will add to property values as is the case with Streetcar.
This project is all about making multi-modal access better for everyone, even motorists; when I am in a bike lane and it ends, I take the lane. I am sure most motorists would prefer I still had that bike lane, so its really for them, not us! And as sure as they park, they become pedestrians, as do the 15K or so daily riders on Streetcar either before or after their ride.
Streetcars and bicycles are a notorious conflict of interest.
So which hat will the executive director of PSI be wearing at Bicycle Advisory Committee meetings? And we are forbidden to attend PSI board meetings, where that hat will definitely be worn.
PSI is strictly an insiders club, with no earthly use except to con the public. But wait! PSI does do something well: unchecked by citizen oversight, it does misrepresent its finances, according to our City’s Auditor. PBOT and PSI are as thick as thieves.
Already we have Chris Smith on the PSI board and on the Planning Commission. I’ll give a new inner tube to anyone who can explain what his real interest is.
PBOT never has evinced the slightest ability to do competent technical design. If it looks pretty on paper they will build it! So far as actual functionality, they have not a clue.
I, on the other hand, from high school to retirement, have demonstrated quite a high level at that arcane skill: airplanes, electromagnets, beach houses, concert halls, even bicycle wheels!
I am half-way considering applying for the position.
And thirdly, perhaps I should just run for Mayor again!
I started writing this massive comment, but then realized I should just print a map and write a blog entry. So I did just that: http://transitsleuth.com/2014/10/30/portland-gateway-to-copenhagen-amsterdam/
If you don’t want to click on that or TLDR; I pointed out some absurdly cheap, easy to implement routes that honestly I find shocking are even left to cars today, because seriously, barely any cars actually use them anyway. Usually a few stragglers or confused people use them once in a while, but that’s it.
Sorry – double post, bad copy paste cache, care to delete that comment just previous to this one? Anyway… this has the link I intended in it.
I started writing this massive comment, but then realized I should just print a map and write a blog entry. So I did just that: http://transitsleuth.com/2015/01/15/fixing-bicycle-access-in-downtown-portland-time-to-get-real/
If you don’t want to click on that or TLDR; I pointed out some absurdly cheap, easy to implement routes that honestly I find shocking are even left to cars today, because seriously, barely any cars actually use them anyway. Usually a few stragglers or confused people use them once in a while, but that’s it.
While I appreciate and support bicyclists in the community there must be a balanced approach. The city stated in 2010 they planned to spend $600 million on bike infrastructure improvements. A very admirable and enormous investment for the biking community. However, as I read these posts, I see more and more calls for banning automobiles from roadways in different areas of the community, particularly downtown. But look at the bigger impact to the business community. Agreed it is already congested, but the stores, shops, restaurants we know and love need goods delivered to support their livelihoods, this can’t be biked in. Contrary to belief, the downtown residents do not support the businesses, the vast majority of patrons are tourists or non residents that frequent those establishments…by car. If we make it more difficult to navigate the roads, you threaten to push patronage to other areas like SE, Suburbs, etc… We still have to consider, with the goal of 25% cyclists, we can’t affect the majority for the minority.
Additionally, where are these road improvement funds coming from? I understand a $6 million grant. But residents and motorists are preparing to be taxed further in Portland in the name of infrastructure, on top of the federal gas tax, state gas tax, proposed mileage tax, license fees, registration fees and DEQ fees. Is it not time we look for the minority of bicyclists to invest in the roadways and exclusive bike improvements that they exclusively utilize and benefit from. Portland needs additional revenues to compensate for the lack of funds not being collected in consequence to alternative travel resources. Hybrids, EV’s, public transportation and bicyclists have stiffly cut into those revenue streams, and spending $600 million, however ideal, is not fiscally responsible. I propose a process, no different than vehicles, that bicyclists license and register. Under the same principle of safety and responsibility, bicyclists are governed and order to abide by the same rules of the road as motorists. As an earlier poster identified himself as an aggressive bicyclist, all folks should be held responsible equally. Being able to identify, track, ticket these folks equally with motorists will make all our citizens safer, and the coffers fuller. Additionally, ensuring the growing number of bicyclists and urban residents pay for the much needed improvements we all agree are necessary.
Every time licensing of cyclists has been tried it costs more to implement than it brings in in revenue and drops the bike mode share….and creates just ONE MORE THING for the police to harass anyone they want…do you have your bike license?
ONE freeway interchange costs $45 million. The CRC would have been 100 times that. Let us keep things in perspective here. $600 million over 20 years for an average of 750,000 people (a population guess over the next 20 years). That is about $40 a person, per year. The health care saving to our health carve industry would WAY more than that alone…not to mention everything else. In the past, only 1.5% of transportation funding has gone to bikes….and we have a 6% mode split.
As far as the city asking people for more money, if the residents would not have been SO CHEAP for such a long time, then we would not be in the situation we are in. When i moved here in 1998 I thought…why all the free parking everywhere? Cars and trucks are the ones that destroy the streets…they should pay for the damage. Once a sidewalk or path is built it lasts for decades if ONLY bikes and walkers use it.
When it comes to downtown the argument that you need access and parking for a thriving business economy and that sort of thing……well, that is an old economic model. In 1980 that might have been true, but not now. Again, take things in perspective. We are talking about the elimination here of a few travel lanes on a few streets….maybe a full bike street or two. In Europe they are talking about banning cars from whole cities and economically these cities are doing just fine. It is all about creative thinking.
…and realizing that the convenience of being able to just drive up anywhere you want and park….is killing society economically, culturally and physically.
When was the last time bicyclists were licensed? I don’t recall that taking place? Additionally, there is no additional costs incurred for the process. Drivers manuals are already printed and available, the licensing fee already covers for the cost of an identification card, DMVs are already established, the software system is already in place. We are merely adding customers to the system, no different than when someone relocates to the state and must obtain an Oregon license, license plates and registration. We don’t discourage those individuals from moving to the area, but rather remind people it is not a right to utilize roads in Oregon and be a resident, but rather a privilege.
We just spent millions on a bike and MAX bridge at Tillicum crossing. The ridership of people using public transportation, again a privilege and not a right, must pay to utilize that mode of transportation. These ridership fees pay for development, usage and maintenance. Again, even pedestrians who utilize public transportation are paying for their share. It’s a matter of sharing costs. What fees are passed on two bicyclists. We discuss only $40 per person will pay for these improvements, but for a family of 4 that’s $160. Why drive up expenses for residents, when Portland’s cost of living is already 10% higher than the national average? We will force more people to the suburbs where it is more affordable and lose even more tax revenue.
. There is no arguable correlation to healthcare savings by bike ridership, just merely speculation and extrapolation. One could argue, much like a motorcycle, it is more dangerous to ride a bike, as you are not forced to have the same safety and protections required by the federal government as vehicles do. Parking fees do not contribute to road fees, and I agree you should pay for the privelage. But look what happened when handicap permit holders were forced to pay for parking recently, the amount of spaces available dramatically increased, while usage dropped. This does affect business. If only 25% of the population rode bikes, downtown could not survive on their business alone.
And finally about Europe. First of all, European economies are doing very poorly. The Euro is quickly devaluing versus the dollar, and much of Europe’s revenue is driven by tourism. Their economies are great based on an 19th and 20th century style economy with exception of a few major cities. With local butchers, bakers, etc…it is hard a 21st century economy. That is one of the main reasons the EU adopted the euro, to adopt a common currency utlizing europes combined GDP to prop a currency to be competitive with the world, as most of their gdps shrink from lack of growing economies.
We are just looking for equal rights for all residents, not special and subsidized benefits for a minority. If everyone contributes, we could double the amount of roads repaved to 200 miles based on portlands projections and not add another tax to its already overcharged citizens.
“… it is not a right to utilize roads in Oregon and be a resident, but rather a privilege.”
To clarify, it is driving a car on Oregon roads that is a privilege, not utilizing the roads.
“We are just looking for equal rights for all residents, not special and subsidized benefits for a minority.”
Again, to clarify: when the amount auto use extracts from the transportation system and the amount spent on the system is compared to the amount motorists pay into the transportation system for their auto use, it is motorists who have their mode of transportation subsidized, not bicyclists and pedestrians. And don’t even talk about “equal rights” when it comes to multi-modal road use—if everyone had equal rights that were respected by each other and the law, there would be absolutely no need for any of the things you are complaining about.
Keith, can you provide a city source of an intent or proposal to spend $600M, or are you conflating the estimated cost *if* the entire 2030 plan were implemented with reporting by the O?
In the 2030 plan developed in 2010, the city plan was to spend upwards of $600 million to establish bike infrastructure to ensure Portland continues to be the bike friendliest city in North America. Other cities, including Calgary and Vancouver BC have reviewed both Portlands expenditures to date, as well as the 2030 plan and found it not a viable solution. The investments have proven to be a financial boondoggle as ridership peaked in 2008 at 6% ridership and has plateaued and seen a slight decrease since then, moving the opposite direction of the 25% anticipated ridership goal. This information is available in an article in the Calgary Sun times if you would like to reference it. There is no conflation as you stated, but rather what the grand plan is.
Your assertion that the “city plan was to spend $600 million on bike infrastructure” is simply untrue. The city never – ever – planned to spend that money. That amount is nothing more than a back-of-the-envelope estimation for the sum total of all the projects listed in the Bike Plan.
So again. No money was committed to the bike plan… That figure was grossly misrepresented by local media outlets for no other reason than to stoke “cars vs. bikes” anger and generate clicks and comments.
That is their overall intent. If you take a look at the 2030 plan, it even sites several sources of funding in it’s one year update. $500,000 budgeted annually, another $1 million from the general transportation fun, and that tapping into another $2.5 million from the sewer fund. Funds that could have been used to prevent sewage improvements and preserve the Willamette from receiving waste. It’s clearly all stated in the plan. That’s nearly $4 million dollars for bike specific funds being diverted from other projects. Granted that doesn’t total $600 million, but again shows intent. Again, based on 6% ridership, or approximately 42,000 cyclists, that’s nearly a $100 of tax dollars spent on every bicyclist a year. This expenditure could easily be funded by bicyclists alone through licensing and registration fees. My point being, rather than diverting funds from important environmental protection funds, let’s create an excuse tax for bicyclists. Everyone is eager to spend money, but nobody is eager to pay for it.
Additionally, upon further research, there are over $31 million dollars in approved and adopted projects in the current PBOT budget. Also upon further review, the city states it’s population to be just over 603,000 residents. Approximately 440,000 between 18 and 64. With 6% ridership, based on their own statistics, that’s 26,000 bicyclists in Portland. That’s $1,192 spent on bicyclists over the next two years! Ironically, the city is seeking are seeking to spend % of proposed funds from the new income tax proposal for bike lanes as well…another $7.6 million. As publisher and editor, I’m sure you have reviewed the adopted projects and budget. Almost 10% of those expenses go toward establishing a bike share program?
I think you are not understanding that in my view of things there is no such thing as a “bicyclist” or a “motorist” therefore your entire argument about who should pay for what doesn’t really hold any water in my opinion.
What exactly is a “bicyclist”? Someone who rides a few times a year? Every day? I have a mini-van and drive it a few times a month. My wife drives it a few times a week. Am I a “motorist” or a “bicyclist”? I also own a home and pay all sorts of taxes which go into paying for roads.
And there’s a good reason there are projects in the works that will improve bicycle access. That’s because bike-related projects are the only thing PBOT can get grants for — because that’s the direction or transportation system needs to go after decades of throwing money into auto-oriented infrastructure that does not serve all users and that we can’t afford to maintain from a financial, environmental, or public health standpoint.
And for what it’s worth, hypothetically I would strongly support some new type of mandatory licensing system for bicycling. And even possibly some type of new fee structure… But only on the condition that we immediately upgrade bicycling infrastructure, bicycling policy, and bicycling laws to the same level enjoyed by auto and transit users. That seems fair to me.
I’d sure like to hear more about that! It raises all kinds of questions. Just a few to start: Is it per bike or per person or…? License plates? Tabs? Proof of insurance? State-issued ID? Mandatory presentation? Off-road bikes (race, trail)? Children? Occasional riders? Knowledge and skills testing? Retesting for seniors? State-held records of bad riders? License revocation? Asset (bike) seizure and forfeiture? Out-of-staters?
Sounds to me like a deal-with-the-devil sort of pact, and maybe the unlikelihood that it would ever happen makes it something you (Maus) can then use rhetorically, but I’d have to think long and hard about what else might be in that box before I opened it even a crack.
Licensing and registration are for equipment that is dangerous or causes damage that is costly to repair. DEQ fees? Because cars destroy the environment. Registration fees? Because “Grand Theft Auto” isn’t just a video game, and again, because a car is highly destructive, and like an assault rifle, needs paperwork to tie it to its owner in case it is used to kill someone or destroy property. Licensing & licensing fees? Because cars kill people and destroy property when they are operated incompetently. Gas tax? Because once more, cars destroy the roads, which need to be repaired, and burning gasoline destroys the environment and kills people (just more slowly). As a bicyclist, I also pay all of these fees for my car, yet when I ride my bike, I’m not really getting my money’s worth from most of those fees, since I don’t get to use freeways, am legally bound to stay out of many of the lanes on other roads, or am subjected to motorist bullying if I do exercise the legal rights I have to use the roads (which are only partially paid for by the fees you mention) on my bicycle.
Further, it is the very motorist bullying and incompetence that necessitates having “exclusive” bike infrastructure. As an aside, there is no “exclusive” bike infrastructure—“bike paths” are really multi-use paths that allow pedestrian use, and bike lanes are encroached upon my motorists, blocked by buses, blocked by delivery vehicles, and are in the most dangerous part of the roadway to begin with, even if they were “exclusive”. Regardless of what kind of infrastructure you consider to be “exclusive bike improvements”, they are not exclusively bike improvements—they are needed because of the incompetent, aggressive, illegal, life-threatening, driving behavior of many, many motorists. Bike lanes benefit motorists by keeping bikes “out of the way”. The law is structured in such a way as to favor motorists at every turn, even in the presence of a bike lane. Did you know that safe passing laws are negated in the presence of a bike lane? They are not created to enhance cyclist safety, they are created largely for motorist convenience. I don’t know why motorists complain, when they are the sole cause for the need for any additional infrastructure for bike use. Your proposals are similar to charging non-smokers a surcharge to sit in a non-smoking area of a restaurant. Fortunately, that example is no longer valid because a behavior that was finally recognized as harmful to everyone has largely been banned in public places…
First of all…licensing drivers is to ensure they understand and demonstrate the knowledge of the rules of the road. People do not receive licenses if they cant demonstrate this. If they violate these rules, they can have their license suspended or revoked, as it is a privelage, not a right. Secondly, cars are registered to ensure the vehicle is legal for the road, can be tracked in incident of theft or loss, and just as a driver can be held accountable for licenses, it also ensures that vehicle can be used to track whether or not it is stolen, tied to a crime, or in the case of hit and run, track down the owner. Nothing to do with it being dangerous. I personally have seen three incidences where a cyclist has hit a car in the Hawthorne district alone, yet I could not report the hit and run, because of the complete anonymity of the rider and bike, yet he was sharing the road with licensed and registered motorists. I have witnessed nearly everyday, no exaggeration, I live on SE 12th, a major bike thoroughfare, cyclists running stop signs, or not properly illuminated, not yielding to pedestrians or weaving dangerously through traffic. Once I even saw about 10 cyclists riding the opposite direction of traffic on MLK on the sidewalk until a light change where they dashed across 4 lanes and cut off cars entering the intersection. If motorists were caught doing things they would, and should, be held accountable, the very least ticketed. That’s why drivers are licensed and registered, that is a fact, not opinion or assertion.
DEQ fees are only paid by owners of older vehicles, not every driver, as they are the ones choosing to operate less clean vehicles. An appropriate fee targeted at a specific group.
Why does it matter whether drivers know the rules of the road? What is it about a car that might make it illegal for the road? Why would we care whether a car was considered “illegal” for the road? You are mostly restating what I said before about fees for cars. I personally had my own car backed into in a parking lot. It left a dent in my car, and the person who did it left without leaving a note—hit and run? Did that driver’s license and car registration help a bit? I personally see drivers weaving in an out of lanes, I’ve been hit twice by drivers not stopping where they should and not looking where they are going, I’ve been forced to emergency stop by drivers both while driving myself and while riding…what’s your point about seeing bad behavior on the road? If a cyclist is caught doing any of the things you mention, they also get a ticket—Portland police regularly stake out areas where cyclists are known to roll through stop signs and hand out tickets to them. Trying to make everyone be nice is not the reason cars are registered and licenses are issued—it is exactly because cars kill people every single day in America: about 82 of them every day, roughly.
Furthermore…gas taxes are a usage tax for those who choose to operate a vehicle to subsidize expenses to maintain the roads they use. Again, fact, not assertion.
Bike lanes are exclusive to bicyclists, hence the green zones. Additionally, runners and pedestrians cannot utilize bike lanes. It is illegal as they are consider part of the road.
Motorists are required to yield to bicyclists in bike lanes, cannot turn from a bike lane, nor park ir obstruct a bike lane. Again, fact, law, not an assertion.
Now, if bicycle lanes are designed to be utilized and protect cyclists, as you asserted, then why not pay fees to expand and maintain these lanes? As you stated motorists pay those fees because they are driving lethal devices, equating them to firearms. And as a motorist, I accept paying the fees. If I choose to no longer drive, I wont be paying those fees, nor would I be utilizing those streets. So, if I choose to ride a bike, I should equally be required to ensure I have knowledge of the laws, register and be held accountable for any transgressions I may make, and subsidize the roads and lanes I exclusively would utilize, just as a motorist. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be contributing fairly to the common good, thus expecting seperate and preferencial treatment. Not fair and equitable. We all live in the city. If we all quit driving, who then would be paying for these improvements. The taxes and revenues would cease to exist. That is a fact, nit an assertion.
Gas taxes are the same as bus fare—a token amount that in no way covers the cost of the ride. Everyone else picks up the slack to pay for roads, whether they drive, ride, walk, or take transit. Fact, not assertion.
Sure, the law says that bike lanes are “exclusive”, but that law isn’t enforced, and drivers have no “skin in the game” if they break that law; it is only cyclists who will pay the price for a driver who doesn’t yield. Cyclists are killed by drivers who fail to yield and a lot of those drivers aren’t even given the citation for failure to yield. There’s what the law says, and then what gets enforced. Bike lanes and the law offer absolutely zero protection for cyclists; I never asserted any such thing. What I asserted was that bike lanes are for the convenience of motorists, because they legally keep cyclists out of the way of drivers. A cyclist’s only real incentive to use a bike lane is because getting in the way can result in serious injury from—what, now? That’s right, a careless driver. So then it seems that drivers have created the need for bike infrastructure by not being able to drive safely, in spite of being licensed. If you create the problem, you pay for the fix.
This isn’t about an argument of bikes versus cars. You can turn this into an emotional argument, however the truth is that bikes are allowed to use city roadways and bike lanes. Having lived on SE 12th Ave and Ladd Ave, bikes used these streets as a thoroughfare, sometimes dozens of bikes at a time. These are not bike lanes, but roads. On more than a dozen times I was almost hit by various bicyclists using these roads, and never in 12 months, encountering bikes daily, did a bicyclist yield to me, or any other pedestrian as I looked out my window. Daily I saw at least one bicyclist not properly lit at night. And as a designated bikeway, not once in 12 months did I see a single police officer. My car was almost hit on multiple occasions by a bicyclist not stopping at a stop sign. This happened to my friends and neighbors as well. This all took place on a Portland street, not in bike lanes. As far as cars being lethal and dangerous…that is why motorists in all states are required to purchase insurance that includes medical liability.
There are good and bad bicyclists and motorists period. And I ask that law enforcement hold all equally accountable. But this has nothing to do with the fact that we spend millions of tax dollars on bike lanes and bike centric improvements for 6% or less of the population. And that 6% should pay for those improvements rather than every household in Portland. The city of Portland plans to spend $80 million this year to repave and repair 100 miles of roads. Roads that we all utilize. Public transportation pays a portion through gas taxes and ridership fees. Trimet is a semi private endeavor, utilizing fees to operate and license themselves to operate. Taxis, probably the worst group of drivers, also must be licensed and inspected, funds going to city roads. They also pay gas tax to fund. The gas tax is the primary source of infrastructure improvements. The reduction of gas tax collection from drivers finding more efficient or alternative means of transportation is the exclusive reason our Democratic legislature stated was why roads were going unrepaired. In turn, the mileage tax is currently being piloted in the state of Oregon. That alone acknowledges and supports my argument that bicyclists need to contribute to the funding. With a population of approximately 700,000, and 6% of the population are cyclists, that’s approximately 42,000 cyclists in Portland, using napkin math. With average annual mileage of 15,000/year, and a 1.5 cent per mile tax being piloted, that’s about $225 per person. That’s nearly $2.5 million dollars in lost revenue in Portland alone for roads. Further, if ridership ever got to even 24%, not the 25% goal stated in the 2030 plan, that would be $10 million lost in excise tax revenue. How do you propose to make up for the lack of funds. This $6 million being committed by federal tax dollars is well underfunded by the 6%, $150 being spent on every bicyclist! That’s 3 times the revenue that this group could fund in a year. How can we financially justify the expense? To spend $6 million to a group we lose $2.5 million to is ridiculous. That money could be used to improve storm drain run off in the Willamette, fund mental health for the homeless population, build a shelter to house those homeless folks, pay for school lunches, fund parks, repaint and repair overpasses, expand green spaces throughout the city, fund enterprise zones in impoverished portions of the city, buy body cameras for police officers, and many other public works programs that impact all citizens of this amazing city. Or even better, stop the city of Portland from further taxing every man, woman and child to simply eat, sleep and breath in this city.
In closing, we tax tourists, cell phone users, smokers, drinkers, lottery gamblers, airline passengers, cable and internet users and drivers through specific excise taxes. All justified to fund various programs and services that people CHOOSE to use, not forced to use. So again, my question still lingers, how can we justify these expenses? And why can’t bicyclists pay a portion of the expenses like every other consumer?
Bad behavior is not a valid argument. Everything you say you have seen “almost” happen due to bad cyclist behavior, I’ve seen every single day “almost” happen due to poor driving behavior. I’ve almost been hit multiple times this past year while walking in a crosswalk, with a walk signal, by drivers absolutely blowing a red light at speed. I have been hit while in a crosswalk, with a walk signal, by a driver turning right on a red without looking. I’ve been hit while just walking on the sidewalk, by a driver who came barreling out of a driveway without stopping as the law requires, or even looking to see whether anyone was on the sidewalk (or just not caring, which is even worse).Those were licensed drivers, mind you, with (I assume) registered vehicles. Poor and illegal behavior cannot be an argument for licensing or registration.
You talk about lost revenue, well let’s say someone who used to drive everywhere moved to a nice walkable neighborhood and quit driving or using transit altogether. Let’s just pretend 25% of the population did this. Would that be a crisis of “lost revenue” for roads? Why or why not? If you say yes, it would be a crisis, then you are admitting that revenue collected from drivers does not cover the cost of roads (because if it did, then a driver could quit driving and the amount of revenue lost would match the previous cost of their car using the streets). If driver fees and gas taxes don’t cover the cost of creating and repairing roads damaged by cars, then everyone—cyclists included—is paying for roads already, and shouldering some of the costs that only motorists create. If you say, no, it wouldn’t be a crisis, then neither would drivers switching to bikes for transportation.
“Ah”, you say, “but what about new construction of bike infrastructure? Why don’t we tax bikes for that?” Again, because bikes don’t need it except to be protected from inattentive, impatient, aggressive drivers. Not all drivers are like this, but enough of them are that they pose a perceived danger great enough for people to be afraid enough that cyclists and pedestrians will get killed or injured by cars that we need special places for them to ride or walk so they are “out of the way”. As a driver, imagine the alternative: cyclists and pedestrians walking in the road and drivers having to slow to their pace until they could get around. Now we’ve already deemed sidewalks a necessity and criminalized so-called “jaywalking” to make things more convenient for motorists and nobody complains about that. So why do motorists who exclusively drive have a problem increasing their own convenience by paying for special (and dangerous, let’s not forget) bike lanes or other infrastructure?
We could achieve a much higher level of safety by just banning cars altogether—think of the gas taxes drivers would save by not having to pay them. Think of how long the roads would last not being driven on by thousands of two-ton machines all day long. Think of the clean air, the healthy people, etc. But we don’t want to do this. Why? Convenience. Would most people do their grocery shopping at 7-Eleven? No. Because they know that convenience costs. Most people wouldn’t grow all their own food either, but they know that there is a middle ground that isn’t quite as convenient, but also isn’t so expensive. Drivers are blind to the staggering amount of sheer convenience they have by being able to roll around in a mobile living room, complete, in many cases, with TV, Stereo, and phone. The only thing really impinging on that convenience is other drivers who want their piece of the convenience pie and clog up the roads. We’re already willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to buy a vehicle just for convenience, why are we not willing to pay the price for society to support our convenience? Don’t go to a fancy restaurant if you can’t cover the tip. Don’t buy a giant house if you can’t afford the utilities. Don’t drive a car if you can’t own up to the huge cost it imposes on everyone else.
Again, you make an emotional argument about vehicles. Contrary to your thought, if you see a driver, delivery truck, etc. Drive recklessly, you can report them using what? A license plate number. If you were hit by a vehicle, I would assume you reported them to the police, the driver was cited, his insurance should have covered your injuries, his premiums went up, and if it was criminal, could have had his license to operate the vehicle revoked as it is a privilege not a right. Now, hypothetically, had the exact same thing happened with a bicyclist and pedestrian, what would the outcome be? No license plate, no registration to track down the operator, no insurance to cover medical damages, and the bicyclist would still be able to operate. This is a false argument. There is no justifiable means to not require bicyclists to pay fees. It is an emotional argument that some bicyclists use to create a red herring to draw the attention for free services by bicyclists.
To your point of, what would happen if fewer people drove or collected less tax revenue. That is exactly what is happening! Since the advent of hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles, light rail, and other alternative modes of transportation, the state has seen a steady decrease in revenue. Additionally, with the lack of residential growth in Portland, focusing more on multiunit housing requiring no proportionate parking in urban areas, the city of Portland will continue to see a disproportionate decrease in revenues. Alternative sources of transportation are fantastic, and do save on the congestion and environmental impacts. This year, Portland will spend $115 per resident on road improvements this year. Conversely, we will spend and additional $150 per cyclist. That is $265 on bicyclists versus $115 for non cyclist. While the 94% contribute to the funds through excise taxes on transportation, the 6% goes unfunded. Your argument about bike lanes being better for motorists is false. It’s enforcement of our laws that you cite as the problem, not the existing roads. Perhaps investing the $6 million into increased law enforcement will remedy your complaints. If done, the byproduct would be increased citation revenue, a safer public for all, and a balanced approach. Building protective curbs only masks the problem you state, not addressing the root cause, unnattentive and aggrasive drivers. By fair and equitable taxation, and equal accountability for motorists and bicyclists alike, we would address the budget gap, improve the travel conditions and conveniences for all, improve public safety, and make the future growth of this city sustainable. Regardless of the damage you state are caused by vehicles, ground transportation is necessary for a growing economy. Every road, every bridge, every sidewalk, every bike path has a lifespan. There are multiple factors that come into play beyond use. Let’s keep Portland moving, growing and amazing. Let’s all share in the cost of building the Portland we would all like to see.
“Conversely, we will spend and additional $150 per cyclist”
Where the heck did you get that number?
Based on a population of 700,000 people, with 6% bicyclists, that’s 42,000 bicyclists in the metro area. $6 million dollars divided by the number of bicyclists works out to he approximately $150 per cyclist.
What part of “from a federal grant” did you not understand?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch…the same rings true for federal grants. This money is sourced from the federal transportation fund. Much of which is funded the 40 cent/gallon federal gas excise tax. Again, taxpayers funding programs that benefit only 6%. A ridership that peaked at about 8% in 2008 according to data used by the Calgary Sun Times. People hear grant and think free money. Another example is the tobacco tax. Those who choose to smoke are taxed to supplement expenses in healthcare, smoking cessation programs, as well as regulation. An excise tax targeted at smokers for smokers. People pay for these programs, grants aren’t free. Could we not use those funds for bridge improvements we would all benefit from? We want to spend funds to carry a moniker of the bike friendliest city in North America, but in reality, it’s only a moniker, and doesn’t improve the overall livability of the city. Much like the millions spent on solar restrooms downtown. It’s great to say we are environmentally forward thinking, but what was the return on investment? Perhaps adding green spaces or developing the Willamette to a safer and cleaner source of transportation and recreation would bring a bigger return on investment? More boaters, more families, more tourists means more revenues for all of us. Instead, per the 2030 plan update, we are siphoning 16% of the environmental fund to bicycle infrastructure improvements. We need to prioritize. Mayor Bud Clark was a great man, but it’s time to move past his decade old vision of biking, and address the environmental, homeless, mental health and drug issues that actually plague this city. Where is the lobbying for grants to help resolve these actual issues. Stop living in the past and head in the clouds. If cyclists want these improvements, pay for them. But diverting funds from other issues is not the answer. I have yet to hear in this board anyone who is willing to pay anything, only people with opinions on how to spend taxpayer funds on projects that would benefit them.
“Again, taxpayers funding programs that benefit only 6%. A ridership that peaked at about 8% in 2008 according to data used by the Calgary Sun Times.”
Comparing census numbers to Portland city bike counts is disingenuous — and possibly intentionally so.
“But diverting funds from other issues is not the answer.”
“More boaters, more families, more tourists means more revenues for all of us.”
“America, but in reality, it’s only a moniker, and doesn’t improve the overall livability of the city.”
“Much like the millions spent on solar restrooms downtown.”
“It’s great to say we are environmentally forward thinking….
Perhaps you could start your own blog where you can discuss these issues. This thread deals with how to spend a $6 million Federal grant, not bathrooms, boats, environmentalism or even Sam Adams.
“If cyclists want these improvements, pay for them.”
I am very enthusiastic about using progressive taxes to fund active and public transport. I should also note that I already pay more than my fair share given that I pay the same licensing/registration/insurance cost as you, even though I only drive a few hundred miles a year.
Most everyone who posts here already pays for roads. Those who walk or ride pay proportionally more for their road usage than those who drive. If you don’t understand that, see Todd Litman’s “Whose Roads,” in particular Table 4 (quoted and linked here along with many other sources on road funding). Non-motorists tend to overpay their share of roadway costs. Wouldn’t it be more fair, and produce more equitable, and arguably “better” results, if the costs more closely aligned with who paid for them? Charging bike riders more only makes the inequity worse.
I’m not making any emotional arguments, I’m stating facts and perhaps making ethical arguments. My hypothetical case of losing tax revenue due to drivers switching to walking is completely different from drivers switching to a different kind of driving. Driving a car damages the roads whether it is a hybrid or gasoline-powered; walking and riding a bike do not damage the roads. So what I presented hypothetically is not “exactly what’s happening”. A decrease in revenues, along with a proportionate decrease in damaging road use by cars should be no problem—unless drivers are currently underpaying for the damage they cause.
Yes, I could report the license plate of a reckless driver, if I could see it well enough and take a picture or remember it, but then law enforcement would have to give two shakes. 99 times out of 100, an officer can’t or won’t cite anyone unless they witness the violation themselves, or solid evidence can be obtained to prove that the law was broken. In the event of a bicyclist hitting a pedestrian, chances are the bicyclist will be injured as well, and their bike knocked over, if not damaged. Now if the cyclist decides to ride away in whatever condition they may be, there is nothing to be done. If the cyclist does the right thing and stays to be sure everyone is OK, then the injuries ought to be handled just as they would if, say, a skateboarder had come zipping around a corner and knocked over a pedestrian on the sidewalk. Should we require licenses registration, and insurance for skateboards? One of the worst impacts I’ve ever sustained was from an inline skater zipping around a blind corner on the “wrong” side of a path and knocking me backwards. I had the wind knocked out of me and I was lucky not to have bashed my head on the ground. Had I received more serious injuries, what insurance would there have been to pay for them? Should we require licenses, registration, and insurance for inline skates? There is very little difference between getting hit by a cyclist or being knocked down by someone running or skating. In the two cases I can think of in recent memory where a pedestrian was killed by a cyclist, I can name the cyclist in each case—because they were apprehended and prosecuted. I’ll bet it wouldn’t take long to find a few open hit-and-run cases where a driver killed someone, took off, and hasn’t been found yet, in spite of having license plates and registration. When you look at the sheer volume of destruction, injury, and death caused by motor vehicles (there were a few impressively destructive crashes in Oregon just today, according to this morning’s news) it doesn’t really compare to that caused by bicycles.
The bottom line is that motor vehicles have fees and taxes attached to them because they are vastly more destructive than any other commonly-used tool; so much so that destruction, injury, and death caused by other modes of transportation is essentially zero by comparison.
When you talk about segments of the population on which money will be spent, you make assumptions about group divisions. You say that bicyclists are 6% of the population, but assume it will stay that way. There is nothing preventing anyone from using bike infrastructure. To say that bike infrastructure excludes anyone is patently false, unless you are talking about those that are too physically handicapped to use a bike. So spending on bike infrastructure is really spending on everyone. Even if there are some people who would never use it, they are excluding themselves from the advantages of using it—but at the same time, if someone else decides to ride instead of drive, doesn’t that benefit all drivers? The argument is made that everyone should pay for roads because even if they never use them directly, goods are shipped, services made available (police, fire, medical, home repair, etc.) by having roads, therefore you benefit by them even if you don’t directly use them. That same argument holds for bicycle infrastructure; drivers benefit from it even if they don’t directly use it: it keeps cyclists “out of the way”, and it might encourage others to use it and therefore remove a car from in front of you on the road.