Looks like the grassroots effort to get a national organization to officially downgrade Portland from its lofty Platinum bicycle-friendly status has some legs. Nearly 500 people have signed on in under two days.
Not only have petition authors Will Vanlue and Paul Jeffery struck a chord with Portlanders, they’ve also succeeded in getting major local and national attention for the idea. Today at noon Vanlue will join League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio show. Bicycling, a large national magazine has picked up the story. And, closer to home, The Oregonian has covered it too.
In The Oregonian, Rob Sadowsky, the leader of the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance, downplayed the general importance of the ranking but also said he wouldn’t mind if we were downgraded because, “We know there’s room for growth.”
The BTA’s Advocacy Director weighed in on the petition this morning via a blog post titled, Personal Reflections on Portland and Platinum. Kransky said the major “challenges” Portland faces right now has to do with lack of funding and a lack of political support at City Hall:
“If we had a fully funded transportation bureau I have no doubt that Leah Treat would be leading us to more safe routes to school projects, new protected bike lanes, improvements in neighborhood greenways, and better conditions on the street for people who ride bikes… If we had more champions for street safety in City Hall they would have passed a new street fund months ago.”
Then Kransky put out a call-to-action:
“So I ask you this, if you are upset by a perceived lack of progress on bicycling issues in the City of Portland,what are you going to do about it? Are you going to complain to a Washington DC based group that has no decision making authority over the issues we face? Or are you going to step up and lead a movement to help our city fully fund its street safety goals and expand public support for bicycling in City Hall?”
Regardless of what happens next, Vanlue and Jeffery have certainly started a conversation. Whether all the words will lead to action — either on the part of Portland leaders and policymakers or from the League itself — remains to be seen.