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Transportation bureau defends ‘Platinum’ status

Posted by on April 16th, 2015 at 1:33 pm

“We’re a Platinum-level city because of the outcomes we’ve achieved.”— Roger Geller, PBOT Bike Coordinator

The Bureau of Transportation wants to remind everyone that Portland still deserves to be Platinum.

As local activist Will Vanlue continues to gain traction and headlines for his petition (it’s up to 550 signatures) to have Portland’s Platinum bicycle-friendly status downgraded by the League of American Bicyclists, PBOT has gone on the defensive.

The agency has put together a seven-page document outlining their case and they reached out to us for a conference call this morning to talk about it. On the call was PBOT Bike Coordinator Roger Geller, spokesman Dylan Rivera, and Margi Bradway the manager of PBOT’s Active Transportation division.

Geller opened up the conversation with a spirited defense of PBOT’s bike legacy which he delivered as if he were speaking to supporters at a political rally:

“We’re a Platinum-level city because of the outcomes we’ve achieved.

We’re Platinum because since 2000 bicycle transportation has contributed the most to our drop in drive-alone commute trips. Of the 40,000 additional commute trips since 2000, more than one-third of them have been from bicycling. So bicycle transportation is contributing the most to keeping congestion at bay.

We’re a Platinum-level city because our school kids are riding to school eight times the national average. And since 2006 we’ve seen a 35 percent increase in kids walking and biking to school.

We’re a Platinum-level city because we just installed our 125th bike corral and a there’s a good cross-section of business owners across the city who recognize that, as research shows, people who are riding bikes to commercial districts are spending more money than people who are arriving by any other way. And we have enough people going to commercial districts by bike that we need 125 bike corrals — and more!

It’s about outcomes. What we’re seeing are the outcomes.”

Those examples and more fill up the pages of a document titled Affirming Portland’s Platinum Status: Efforts since 2013 (PDF). PBOT sent me the document prior to our phone conversation.

“When you look at other cities who are upping their game on biking, the dollar amounts are [equal to] our entire capital budget… If we had three times the funding we could do three times the work.”
— Margi Bradway, PBOT Active Transportation Division Manager

The document outlines 26 bike-related projects that PBOT has completed since 2013 and lists 10 upcoming projects that are already funded and in the works. It also gives updates on the city’s big education and enforcement initiatives like Sunday Parkways, the High Crash Corridor program, their “embrace” of Vision Zero, and their efforts to reduce speed limits.

Geller’s defense, however, came with an acknowledgment that PBOT has a lot of work to do. “We’re not done,” he said. “We’re a quarter of the way to where our plans [Climate Action Plan, Bike Plan, Portland Plan] tell us we need to be. We’ve built only a third of our network and we’re continuing to advance.”

Geller’s biggest concern is that the downgrade petition sends the wrong message, one that focuses on what people don’t like and one that puts PBOT on the defensive. “What people in the city need to know is that there’s support for these things and people want more of them. That’s a positive message that needs to be embraced by people in general: ‘We like the direction this is going, give us more.'”

Rivera, Bradway, and Geller all said funding is the big constraint.

“When you look at other cities who are upping their game on biking,” explained Bradway, “they are making major investments and the dollar amounts are [equal to] our entire capital budget… If we had three times the funding we could do three times the work.”

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Then Geller added: “We agonize over $50,000. [He used an example of newly striped buffered bike lanes on a section of NE Killingsworth that was done as part of a pavement maintenance project]. It’s not a lot of money in transportation terms but it’s a third of the local discretionary funding we have available annually for making bike improvements. And what does that get us? One mile of buffered bike lanes…So that’s the environment we are working in.”

Then I asked: If Portland is doing all this for bikes and with so little funding, where is all this frustration in the public coming from?

Geller’s answer was spot-on in my opinion:

“I think we rightfully, raised the expectations of what Portland can achieve. Going back to the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, and certainly going back to commissioner and then Mayor [Sam] Adams right? We started talking about Portland being a world-class bicycling city. And I think people are understandably frustrated that we are not there yet… There’s a level of frustration that we are not living up to our potential.”

Platinum Press Conference-13.jpg

City Bike Coordinator Roger Geller (in white shirt) and other current and former PBOT staff stand behind then Commissioner Sam Adams at a press conference to announce Portland’s Platinum award on April 29th, 2008.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

City Hall politics plays a huge role in Portland’s bike-friendly stature. I brought that issue up, but both Bradway and Geller didn’t think it was right for them to talk about it.

However, Geller had a lot to say about what the community could do differently to influence City Hall denizens.

Geller thinks that instead of hearing outrage from the community about PBOT’s lack of progress, Mayor Charlie Hales and the other commissioners would be more persuaded by statements of support — of both PBOT and more bike-related investments.

“I think if the end goal is a much more bike-friendly city I’m not sure this is the way to do it,” Geller said. “I think the frustration would be better channeled by going to City Council and telling them, ‘We want more and better bike facilities.'”

Here’s more from Geller:

“I think that whatever Will’s intent was, the message coming through is, ‘You guys are doing really badly and we don’t want to have anything to do with you. That’s just a dispiriting message for people who are making decisions about where should we spend our money. Should we spend our money where we’re getting support and people like what we’re doing? Or should we spend it where we get this huge, national outcry where we hear, hey you guys are doing poorly?”

It’s an interesting question to ponder: What if, for example, the 500-plus downgrade petition signers instead signed up to testify during the open communication period before City Council meetings? How would one year of hundreds of three-minute testimonies about the positive impact biking is having on Portlander’s lives — and how citizens want more of it — impact council members?

Earlier in our conversation I mentioned my concern that the community often demonstrates widespread support for biking, but then the City seems to make a decision based on one or two powerful people or special interest groups. I mentioned how we could “Get 1,000 people out on the street” to support biking but it wouldn’t matter if the City just listened to the most powerful people (like the Portland Business Alliance, for one).

Bradway and Geller both seemed to be eager to witness such a powerful demonstration for biking — but it hasn’t happened.

Geller then relayed a story from his ride into work this morning. He saw a protest (unrelated to biking) on SE Madison where about 100 people were holding up signs. “I’ve yet to see a 1,000 people on the street. That would be great if we had even 200 people in front of City Hall holding up signs.”

— Download PBOT’s Affirming Portland’s Platinum Status: Efforts since 2013.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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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Jeg
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Jeg

The important issue is tactics in activism– this anti-status protest is a waste of time besides putting members that were already allies on the defensive.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

At least a straw man has been provided for why City Hall doesn’t care about our lives or safety – they had their feelings hurt!

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Maybe they all just need a hug?
http://cuddleuptome.com/

Eastsider
Guest
Eastsider

It’s not just about budget. It’s about priorities and political wills. Time after time, Portland has been unwilling to sacrifice a few on-street parking spaces to create vitally important bike lanes. This is the thinking of a city stuck in the past century and not deserving of platinum status.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

I wonder if part of our problem is that we used to have a bicycling advocacy group (the BTA). Since they’ve completely dropped the ball and turned their heads elsewhere, we now have a gaping hole that no organisation has yet to fill.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

The BTA bills itself as a state-wide organization, but they had traditionally only focused on bikes as they occured within Portland’s physical city limits. And when they got called out on it, they had to change to be a true state-wide organization and focus on bikes as a statewide issue, not just as a City of Portland issue.

No group has stepped in to fill the City of Portland Bike Transportation activist organization, like a city-only BTA. You can’t blame the BTA for not focusing solely on Portland, since they are supposed to advocate for bikes statewide.

Eli
Guest
Eli

BikeLoudPDX is trying to fill this gap, but the group isn’t even a year old yet and doesn’t have the necessary name recognition.

Gerik
Guest
Tom
Guest
Tom

Seems like a perfect use of time. This is a good place to bike, but it is not great. There are huge gaps in infrastructure and funding. Why be so averse to a little criticism/reality check. Even Geller admits there’s lots of work to be done. We’re not there yet. Platinum should be reserved for when you are there. This doesn’t stop us from celebrating our successes and building on them, it just helps us stay honest with ourselves and reminds us we have a ways to go.

9watts
Guest
9watts

We’ve been here before: Criticism of Portland’s bikeyness//Geller responds, but the last time he was more forthright:

found here: http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/23/panel-ponders-portlands-slide-cycling-superstardom-111205

“Geller said the City hasn’t made good on promises in its Bike Plan for 2030 that passed four years ago. ‘Our policy says that we need to make bicycling more attractive than driving for trips three miles or less. We haven’t really done that yet,’ he acknowledged. ‘It’s really easy to drive a car in this city.'”

Alex
Guest
Alex

I think that can be reflected in the rate of increase of commutes since 2008 – there really hasn’t been one. We have hovered around 6% for 7 years and it would be nice to see a steady increase in that. There really is a tipping point, culturally speaking, where people become more accepting of an activity when more people do it. We should really try to figure out where that tipping point is and get there. It needs to work on many levels – police enforcing bad/distracted driving, actually cutting down through-ways for cars where bikes are allowed (looking at you Clinton), increase facilities and actively promote recreational cycling (mtbing, for example), making traffic flow better for sharing spaces (cars/bikes and peds/bikes (can we please get signs on the esplanade like these http://caa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Sign-of-shared-path-300×2601.jpg) and work on separating infrastructure to make it easier and more pleasant to ride a bike. There are some real simple things that could be done to make everyones life more pleasant and that wouldn’t cost much money.

Josh Berezin
Guest
Josh Berezin

I didn’t view the petition as a shot at PBOT as much as I viewed it as a shot at a City Hall that’s not delivering the funding required to make the transformations they’ve previously committed to.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Same here. Director Treat seems to have people’s best interests in mind in regards to bicycling as transportation, but her boss doesn’t seem to have the same priorities.

maccoinnich
Guest

Her boss spent most of last year fighting for more funding for PBOT. It’s Fish / Saltzman / Fritz who don’t have the same priorities.

Adam Herstein
Guest
Adam Herstein

True, but he then decided to let Salem handle it instead; which is proving to me more difficult than imagined. Novick could have just pushed for a gas tax increase in the first place and put the measure to the taxpayers to vote on.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Her boss spent most of last year fighting for [a teeny weeny bit] more funding for PBOT.”

Haha. That Street Fee thingamajig was expected to maybe raise about 10% of what PBOT’s Dylan Rivera told us was required just to keep the stuff we have now from falling apart.

maccoinnich
Guest

So he shouldn’t have even tried?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Is that a rhetorical question?
I think it was a spectacular waste, on all fronts, but what’s the use going over this one more time?

maccoinnich
Guest

No it wasn’t a rhetorical question. I really didn’t understand what your point was. Novick [if that is who Adam was referring to] spent a great deal of energy trying to find a way to fund PBOT at a more sustainable level. That would have led to major investments in facilities for bicyclists. It therefore seemed odd to complain that Novick doesn’t have the same priorities as Treat.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Sorry. I posted so many comments here in opposition to the Street Fee over the past few years I figured everyone was tired of my perspective. Sometimes trying to do something without thinking it through first, thrashing about in full public view for a year and a half, is worse than doing nothing, can erode public confidence in the judgment of their elected officials, can ruin any chance of actually making inroads into this mess for years to come.
Just my opinion, of course.

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Don’t worry they’ll have it all figured out after their “therapy” or “team building” session.
http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/04/therapy_or_team_building_portl.html

J_R
Guest
J_R

It seems to me that the LAB ratings have been more influenced by the enthusiasm of the bike coordinators and other city staff members than by quantitative, provable, statistical evidence of actual bicycle use and facilities. No wonder the staffers are defensive.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

I would agree that how the system is scored, though complex, is also quite subjective.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

The thing is, I don’t think PBOT is doing a great job with the bicycle infrastructure. They always hide behind the funding argument. It is of course true that there isn’t much money for biking, but when it costs a quarter of a million dollars per mile to build a meandering neighborhood greenway with no signaled crossings but you can put up a quick and dirty cycle track-ish on NE Multnomah for less than 200K/mile then I start to question how the money is being spent. If 28th Avenue had received proper cycling facilities. If N. Williams were not turned into a circus. Then maybe PBOT would have a leg to stand on in this rebuttal but as far as I am concerned they are just doubling down on the fact that Portland is the big fish in a tiny, tiny pond.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m pretty happy with N Williams/Vancouver. Never had an issue with the vehicles there. Traffic speeds next to me are about the same speed I’m going. And if you pace at about 16mph you can hit all the lights pretty well.

Sure things were a mess when construction was going on (always the case), and sure it’s not a road that’s safe enough to take my kid on a bike that they’re piloting; but all-in-all it’s a safe and fast corridor for me to get to and from work. No real complaints here.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The estimated average cost of greenways per mile is $250k. that includes most for quite less and a few for quite a bit more. The signal at 86th and Division was $250k all by itself. The pedestrian hybrid beacon at 122nd/Bush was $150k all by itself.

Alex
Guest
Alex

“That would be great if we had even 200 people in front of City Hall holding up signs.” – Geller

There were 300+ at the RVNA protest. Perhaps going to city hall is a better location to do it, increase visibility.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“And since 2006…”

The most recent date they list is from nine years ago!

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

50’s was last/this year. SE 19th also. Sacramento is this year. 20’s process was last year, that wasn’t free.
Skidmore? N Michigan?

‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” – Thoreau

naess
Guest
naess

so i’m hearing two things from geller then…

1. he somehow missed the RVNA protest

and

2. he wants a return of critical mass.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

PBOT is not blameless here. Sure, they lack funding and honestly want to build more bike facilities; but this was also the organization that designed the – widely regarded as a failure – N Williams project. Instead of listening to people who actually ride that the plan was doomed to fail, they caved to business needs and preservation of free car storage.

Portland needs to take bolder steps and not just the path with least resistance if we want to move toward a world-class bike city. Meanwhile, our friends over the pond in The Netherlands and Denmark will continue to laugh at the mere concept of a “Platinum Bike City”.

soren
Guest
soren

The 28th failure can be pinned on businesses but Williams had more to do with opposition from trimet and some residents.

Peter R
Guest

I’d argue too that part of platinum needs to include recreational opportunities. PBOT can focus on the transportation portion all it wants and tout that as loud as it wants. However when City Hall (Park & Rec) is blatantly ignoring the desires of a not so small group of users( mountain bikers), then perhaps the platinum level does need to be questioned.
For many cycling is not just a transportation mode, most of us started out as recreational cyclist I would argue. It’s one of the beautiful aspects of the quality of life around here. I ride for many reasons. A bike is my “car” to get to and from work, but more importantly, it’s a HUGE source of pleasure to me. The fact that I can’t enjoy mountain biking without driving 30+ minutes west or 60+ minutes east…that’s just absurd.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

There is plenty of recreational riding available here, Ride out to Hood river, Boring, Veneta…Not too many places can boast such opportunities.

Not that I’m not sympathetic to mountain bikers glad my time doing it was in the early 90’s when Forrest Park was wide open to us, but please remember not all rec. riding is single track and I’m willing to wager that for most people it isn’t.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think you’re confusing the term “here” with the places you listed “Hood river, Boring, Veneta”.
We live in Portland, people want to ride in Portland. There are parks that are more that capable of having sustainable trails here, in Portland.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Sorry my bad …a little….I ment Vernonia instead of Veneta.

But even then,It’s pretty easy ride to Champoeg Park to catch the WV scenic bicycle route to Eugene just another 20-30 miles to Veneta from there.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Sorry you missed my point and I didn’t finish.

My point was that there are different kinds of recreational riding other than mountain biking and that we have amazing access to a decent size of real estate that we can ride a bike to on bike trails from Portland. I wasn’t implying that you should go somewhere else. Or even that as a city it isn’t embarrassing that we don’t have facilities to mountain bike on.

I think it’s a shame that you can’t ride down most the fire lanes in Forrest Park, they’re a blast and some aren’t (or at least were not 20 year ago) very hikeable – though my favorite was cut off by residential developments – different story.

Though I loath the rating system, and I don’t like the bad publicity this petition is causing (I’m more concerned about the general public than the politicians that I could really care less about) I don’t think a system (especially a national one) that is intended to bolster bicycling in cities should consider mountain biking at all.

Many cities quite frankly don’t have the geography to support decent mountain biking. Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland all flat as a Pancake even flatter than some of the midwest states that have a reputation for being flat. To put Mt. biking on the roster, would create too much of a barrier for these cities to score the points for it.

The intent is to give cities checklists of what the PEOPLE can do in city to improve biking, and yeah we can go to extremes and build mountains of trash like they do for skiing on in some of these places (Mt Brighton in Mich for example or as it’s lovingly called Mt. Trashmore)to change the geography those are largely private enterprises not public.

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

You do realize that mountain bike doesn’t necessarily require “mountains”, right?

http://www.swampclub.org/

davemess
Guest
davemess

Did you know Cleveland was the first city in the world to have an indoor mountain bike park?

caesar
Guest
caesar

Is this the same Hood River that took me 45 min at 60+ mph on the highway to drive to this morning?

Please.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

In this article, City staff hit the nail right on the head…why does a [Platinum] City spending so much time over a $50k striping question related to maintenance and improved safety?

It is a Mayorial/ Council leadership issue by setting the tone. If it does not exist or if its unclear then the Portland process gets bogged down in the weeds. Perhaps its a little unfair to compare Portland to cities that made great leaps in bikeness recently due to very powerful strong mayors with vision and centralized processes. But that is the playing field Portland is on nationally.

It needs all the vision its Mayor and Council can muster to fulfill the staff and citizen’s adopted modal goals for 2030/2035. As Mr. Bixby, So Cal bike visionary in Long Beach CA, used say: “Go Big! or Go Home!!”

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

This is exactly right. The problem isn’t PBOT and I’m sorry if Mr Geller is taking it personally. (I have no doubt that he’s one of the good guys.) The problem is City Hall not funding needed projects. Getting Platinum yanked is an attempt at getting the attention of the Mayor and Council so that we can change a few priorities.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

I have some sympathy for the PBOT, they have their constraints and their jobs to do. I don’t think they have demonstrated much willingness in the past 2 years to stand up to a few vocal opponents and to try to educate the public, the business owners and the neighborhood associations about the tradeoffs. The bigger problem though is that from the Mayor’s office and the council, there is a thundering silence on bicycle issues. For example, the mayor *could* manage to send a tweet saying we need to examine why a commercial truck, speeding, running a read light, and striking a cyclist with ample witness testimony gets does not get any citation and the PPB make a perfunctuary statement about policy! It would not be at all difficult for the mayor or just 1 or 2 council members to speak out occasionally on cycling issues with constructive statements that don’t blame cyclists or blame victims, but they can’t even do that. And it isn’t the PBOT’s job to make such statements, but even in the comments on this site we have PBOT employees who are allegedly cyclists and active transportation supporters cowering behind excuses instead of at least acknowledging that some serious change still needs to happen.

As for the funding issues, it really comes down to this. Cycling projects are only expensive because of accommodations made to motor vehicle traffic. Cycling projects could cost next to nothing if there was the political clout to remove lanes, remove parking, and slow down traffic. I agree we don’t have the public opinion and votes to to that extensively, but the fact is important to remember when looking at the broader issue. The PBOT budget aside, the road space dedicated to motor vehicle traffic, the road space dedicated to auto parking is the driving force behind the requirement for even relatively inexpensive solutions for cycling infrastructure. SE Clinton a case in point and NE 28th another and Foster Rd. yet another.

Maybe we need to stop talking about bicycle infrastructure and change our terminology. Motor Vehicle management infrastructure. The purpose of the infrastructure is not really to help cyclist and we shoudln’t really be seen as the ones demanding the cost in $$$. Rather, the infrastructure is required to keep cars in their place and it the motorists who are costing the PBOT and the city money because they are the ones who run over people.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Bingo….

The problem with relying up infrastructure improvements is that I doubt it will never get the ridership numbers up over over 10% ever anywhere.

You look historically at Copenhagen, Amsterdam and the other big european bike cities the secret sauce (despite what Anderson says now) wasn’t bicycle specific infrastructure, it was taming automobile traffic, more one ways, less parking, less direct auto routes, greater enforcement and education of drivers.

Once travel by car became a pain in the ass to locals they started riding bikes because they could circumnavigate the obstacles for autos by doing things like riding on the sidewalk – once people started riding the bicycle then the bicycle infrastructure started.

One of the big problems in the US bicycle plan, is that everyone is trying to use the infrastructure create demand which will only get you so far, if you go the other way and create the demand first – the infrastructure will follow faster and easier.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Sigh. But how??

Eric
Guest
Eric

Lower speed limits, enforcement, education. Just that would get you a boost in ridership and an easier time with parking and lane removal.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Safe Systems/Vision Zero.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Those aspects may maintain ridership, but would they increase it? The last time we saw a significant jump in ridership nationwide was when gasoline hit its highest pump prices ever.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…As for the funding issues, it really comes down to this. Cycling projects are only expensive because of accommodations made to motor vehicle traffic. Cycling projects could cost next to nothing if there was the political clout to remove lanes, remove parking, and slow down traffic. I agree we don’t have the public opinion and votes to to that extensively, …” Paul in the ‘Couve

Not sufficient public support, if that’s what you mean, for removing or re-purposing main travel lanes, removing motor vehicle parking, and reducing speed limits. It can be interesting to look hypothetically at solutions to urban traffic congestion, such as for example, with simple painted lines on the pavement, re-purposing a main travel lane on a major cross city thoroughfare to create a cycle track.

Would doing such a thing garner major Platinum points? Realistically…could a city’s transportation needs relative to that thoroughfare, existing before such a change, be satisfactorily met with this approach, after such a change?

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Why don’t we propose a citywide ballot initiative to see if the majority of residents favor increased funding for cycling infrastructure? You’d like to see a citywide vote for access to other things, so why not?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

‘couv dude: ‘we’?
“I agree we don’t have the public opinion and votes to do that extensively”

Crossing busy roads is critical for most of the greenways. Those can be the most expensive parts of otherwise low cost projects, and simply lowering speed limits won’t make those crossing safer.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

Everyone admits there are things that are hard to accomplish. The problem here is that Portland since Hale was elected isn’t willing to do some of the easy stuff.

Your dismissive and defensive tone here strikes exactly the same note. It’s an excuse and a dodge. Distract away from the fact that there are indeed many inexpensive and obvious ways we can improve cycling by pointing out that there are difficult things that probably aren’t as realistic as we would like and using that as an excuse to bury your face in paperwork, studies and dithering at PBOT.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Well if stagnation is your outcome then yes we have achieved that. Mission accomplished!

pixelgate
Guest
pixelgate

PBOT said:

> Of the 40,000 additional commute trips since 2000, more than one-third of them have been from bicycling. So bicycle transportation is contributing the most to keeping congestion at bay.

Where is this utopia where congestion has been kept at bay?

soren
Guest
soren

I personally experience virtually no congestion but if I drove I would definitely add to others’ congestion.

Blake G
Guest
Blake G

I disagree that the petition is counterproductive because I think or hope that people realize that the bulk of the blame lies not with PBOT (which based on this article seems to be staggeringly underfunded for bike-related projects) but with political leaders.

One way to get attention focused on the problem is to deliver a public shaming of the city’s political leadership for, on the one hand, touting the city’s bicycling reputation (a 2013 event describes Charlie Hales as “A Mayor dedicated to growth and with a background with the City Council, he has championed the way for light rail expansion, streetcar development and safe bicycle routes to reduce congestion and improve the environment with the Transportation Bureau.” http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/event/77481) while in practice showing no leadership on improving bicycle safety.

The petition is an effective ways of getting attention onto this disconnect between rhetoric and reality which has crossed into many areas such as bike share which was “paused” during the Street Fee debacle (http://bikeportland.org/2015/01/16/street-fee-bike-share-portlands-big-pause-131013). There was little mention of any positive steps to improve bicycling infrastructure during the Street Fee process, which was politically positioned as improving roads for cars and safety for pedestrians.

Perhaps there are a few loud voices of opposition to bikes like the Editorial Page at the Oregonian, but a City Club of Portland report “conclude[d] that there is little organized opposition to bicycle use in Portland” (http://www.pdxcityclub.org/files/Reports/No%20Turning%20Back_%20A%20City%20Club%20Report%20on%20Bicycle%20Transportation%20in%20Portland_0.pdf) but political leaders still go out of their way to avoid if not denigrate people who use bicycles (like the “Fast Bikes” signs installed in Waterfront Park that in places direct riders to bike lanes that are inadequate and end within just a few blocks).

The petition is not a destination but a realization that political leaders have failed in recent years. It represents a call to action to push for more concrete change. I completely agree with the BTA (https://btaoregon.org/2015/04/personal-reflections-on-portland-and-platinum/) when they state that PBOT Director 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.” However, the political leadership in Portland is hostile to ‘bike projects’ and has been for several years while ridership has plateaued. There’s not a lot that can be accomplished by complaining about PBOT when they are not provided with the resources needed to make bigger changes. The problem lies with the City Council and that is where the advocacy should focus.

Peejay
Guest

Really well put, Blake.

I wish I could contribute more to the debate but I’m on a business trip that is taking almost all my time. However, it seems that the debate is flourishing without me, and in a very constructive way. Fundamentally, we are all on the same side.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

When citizens have to take enforcement into their own hands after a near-death hit and run, because the police won’t issue a citation even after witnesses, and the victim, not to mention the perpetrator himself all agree on the facts and that the law was broken, then you know Portland is not at Platinum status.

When the mountain bike community works hand in hand with the city to come up with sustainable and ongoing trails for their use, only to see themselves and the partners they worked with be shut out of the process by the very city leaders they had been working with, and banned from riding trails they had put a lot of volunteer sweat and time in to, then you know Portland is not at Platinum status.

When there are still so many gaps in the network, when there are dangerous roads like Barbur that can’t be fixed, or won’t be fixed, then you know Portland is not at Platinum status.

Yes, outcomes are good, but as PeeJay pointed out on the post regarding reaching 500 signatures, there is no ongoing process to make sure the city is meeting their goals at each step of the way. It’s one thing to aim for a certain thing at a certain time, but if you don’t know where you are in the process and have no way of gauging your progress, how do you know you’re going to reach it? Are you planning on pulling some all-nighters the last week before the due date and hope you do enough to reach the outcome you were aiming for?

It’s not enough to point at the outcomes in the past and say, “see, we deserve Platinum because of all this stuff we did before!” If you aren’t willing to continue to earn the designation, and build on your prior outcomes, then you don’t deserve the highest honor.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…shut out of the process by the very city leaders they had been working with, …” KristenT

A full explanation of reasons for the city having decided to curtail mountain biking at Riverview have yet to be disclosed. Eventual revelation of those reasons may prove that the public planning process in place for determining Riverview recreational use, could not be used to work out particular issues that brought the city to decide upon curtailment, independent of the public process otherwise being used.

Otherwise, regarding the Platinum status that LAB bestows on cities…to me, that kind of designation always has seemed highly subjective. Cities want it of course, because it’s apparently good PR to have it. To what extent such a designation reflects actual, superiority of riding infrastructure and infrastructure for biking over that of other cities. Theoretically, cities could have a range of ‘whistles and bells’ biking infrastructure, and still not be particularly great cities to ride, because of bad conditions away from the fancy stuff.

I don’t know if Portland deserves the ‘platinum’, but that’s kind of irrelevant. The city has made efforts to improve conditions for biking, and it shows. Hopefully, it will do even better in future, and towards that end, will get substantial growth in broad public support of infrastructure that will allow biking to be an ever more practical, functional alternative form of transportation than it is today, within the city.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

We’ve been actively telling the city we want more and better Mountain Bike facilities within the city at least since I moved here over a decade ago, and I am sorry Roger but it isn’t working, Fritz and her ilk are actually removing access not adding it. I suppose it is also telling that when the city went to defend against losing Platinum status they didn’t even mention Mountain Biking… Reducing commuting miles is great, but what is the city going to do to make it so people don’t need to drive to Sandy or Banks to ride on singletrack?

davemess
Guest
davemess

Problem is that PBOT is not really that involved with mountain bike access (which is almost exclusively a parks issue).

ricochet
Guest
ricochet

1.) Mountain bikes
2.) Open Air Chop Shops
3.) Clinton St.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

4.) 20s bikeway
5.) Williams

VTRC
Guest
VTRC

6) Barbur

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

7. ODOT

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

SE Hawthorne.
SE Division.

Brian
Guest
Brian

9. BMX bikes.
10. Any place fun for any kid to ride that is not on pavement.
11. Mountain bikes. It deserves repeating.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

12. New Columbia Bike Skills Park by CCC on City Land

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

There’s over 200 miles of unimproved roads in Portland. . . anyone up for a little gravel grinder alley cat??

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Heck yeah, if kept low-key so families/kids can easily mix in. Floated a similar idea to our local shop in Woodstock a couple times, but no go. But now there’s more than one local Woodstock shop….

Brian
Guest
Brian

Yep, my son and I volunteered there. It is a great place for the local riders, but not at all a “destination” place to ride My son got bored pretty quickly and he is only five. When wanting to ride skills-kinda stuff we drive to Hood River or Longview. Unfortunately.

Seth Alford
Guest
Seth Alford

13. Lack of detours for people on bicycles around construction sites other than just mix in with the car traffic; it’ll be fine.
14. Why does K’Tesh have to trim back blackberry vines and other vegetation growing into the bike lane? In a real platinum level city, that would not be necessary.
15. Street car tracks running right where a person on a bicycle would otherwise ride, parallel to the direction of travel.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

East of I-205

Fourknees
Guest
Fourknees

Pedalpalooza seems like an upcoming opportunity to organize a ride to demonstrate support…

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Support for what, complacency? Lack of progress? Back-sliding with regards to mountain bike access?

Sure, okay. In fact I’ll organize the ride. I’ll call it the “super happy fun-time, everything is a-okay thanks to PBOT and City Hall” ride.

Sound good?

JV
Guest
JV

I appreciate Geller’s diligent work. But, Platinum status is for leadership; for cities that other cities seek to emulate in cycling (and in transportation generally). Portland was that city a decade ago. Others have caught up and overtaken.
Portland could lead again. If a status downgrade is needed to inspire that leadership, so be it.

hat
Guest
hat

“Geller thinks that instead of hearing outrage from the community about PBOT’s lack of progress, Mayor Charlie Hales and the other commissioners would be more persuaded by statements of support.”

I agree. Being respectful and supportive of the council and mayor is the best practice to continue further dialogue… when a dialogue exists. I have written to the mayor and PBOT several times over the last few years with no reply. I stayed my outrage and voiced my support for years… to no result.

It is clear to me that a dialogue does not, in fact, exist, and that we must use other means to create a safe environment. Statements of support have had little return. This is not a budget issue. This is a leadership problem. The next election cannot come soon enough.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

Enforcement.

For me it’s about enforcement. Period. I live on a Greenway and my neighbors and I have called 823-SAFE more times than I can count. What did we get? Other than the 15 minute going-through-the-motions enforcement that happened right after the diverters went in, we’ve got nothing. Nothing at all in the last 4 years.

I got a call-back from someone at PBOT who told me explicitly, that drivers would have to be doing “11-14 mph over the limit” before anything would be done. It’s a 20mph hour street, one block parallel to a school. When you accept 30mph in a 20mph zone, you are accepting the fatality rate for a person struck by a car going from 5% to 45%.

And then of course there are the drivers bypassing the diverters with impunity.

Until Portland bites the bullet and gets serious with speeding and failure to yield to peds at unmarked crosswalks, I really don’t care how much paint they put on the road. In my mind, the powers that be are simply terrified of the blowback they’d receive from anything approaching real enforcement.

The pols talk the talk, brag about how bikey we all are, bask in the national adoration of people who don’t live here, but won’t put any teeth in enforcement. Enough.

Enforcement.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

I am much more of an enforcement guy than an civil engineering guy, but consider this.

Despite all you mention and the perceptions of many of the greenways. Clinton, Lincoln, and many of the other greenways are seeing huge growth in bicycle traffic along with a less substantial gain in auto traffic. With at the very least, no substantial increases in incidents.

And though no one like to hear it here, but is it out of the realm of possibility that Greenways do work – and work well. And I’m willing to bet they get more traffic than any of the bike lanes in town on average – with the exception of the lanes that funnel traffic to the bridges.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Safe Systems/Vision Zero attacks problems from multiple directions. Mor enforcement would help, as would better adjudication.

Traffic studies on NE Going have consistently found 85% or more of auto traffic going 25 mph or less. More enforcement where things are pretty good already won’t decrease fatal and serious injuries in Portland.

Chris Anderson
Guest

How can NE Going be a shining example of what Greenways should strive to achieve, and still be a place you have to be a little bit crazy to let your kids ride? Can’t we aim higher?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

I think we can. I encourage everyone to participate vocally when the public comment for the greenway evaluation opens up. The standards we choose will be the ones we miss. If it’s not high enough laziness and cost pressures will take over and dilute all future outcomes.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Enforcement. Well, it took twelve traffic officers yesterday at 6pm to enforce bicyclists not stopping at Ladd’s Circle…does that help?

I guess that is our reward for pointing out a flaw at city hall.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

As Transportation chair I spent over a year doing outreach, setting agendas, donating many hours of time to develop a plan for Vision Zero for my neighborhood. It includes a Promenade for People and Bikes closing off a sub-standard street, greenway cross-endorsements from multiple neighborhoods to create connectivity, vision zero recommendations on parking removal, lane widths, travel speeds. It also included relevant density to match these improvements. We did it through consensus over many meetings.

I sent all of these documents to the city to for the comprehensive plan, and included the entire chain of command to the top at PBOT for Vision Zero. This document includes lots of complements on the 50’s bikeway and the Glisan road diet. We also endorsed the progressive version of the street fee.

We did not even give us a thank you, good work. I have PERSONALLY been complemented from dozens of planners, neighborhood leaders, and many individuals working throughout the city on affordability and bike issues.

Not one word from the leadership at city hall, not even a GOOD JOB, thanks for the complements! Good work for gaining local support for Vision Zero, thank you or your support! Nope. From what I can see, since it had the word BIKE all over it, no one wanted to put their electronic fingers of support on it.

That is why THIS ADMINISTRATION is NOT platinum. Even when you complement them there is no support. Please, those working diligently at PBOT do not take it personally. We think you are great, it is the politicians that this petition is meant for. It is city hall that needs to put their money where their mouth is and prove they are still Platinum.

http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/257061-127245-what-should-portland-do-with-30-million

hat
Guest
hat

I have to second this. I’ve had some pretty great encounters with PBOT employees. They donate their time for god sake. The mayor and commissioners have said they want to be re-elected in 2016. We need to find replacements now.

Remember this moment, before the new bridge opens, and the few more paltry attempts to gain the votes of people who want safer streets.

davemess
Guest
davemess

As another transportation chair, we have had a mixed bag with PBOT. Some positives, and then some shoulder shrugs.
I think a lot of it can have to do with what neighborhood you’re in and where it’s located.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Yes, and both of us have a significant renter and low income population at risk for displacement.

you would think they would pay EXTRA attention to us with the way they talk…but alas.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

You assume a commissioner has even seen your product.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

Yes, I am assuming that Novick would consider something like this coming from a Neighborhood Association to be worthy of reading. I sent it to him and Fritz since it had park’s recomendations . As I did our endorsement of the street fee as well. I sent that one to all FIVE…no response, Either his assistants do not know what to pass on to him, or he did not care. When another NA came out against density, he replied right away. …but that NA has mone and is well connected, we are not.

I certainly would be willing to send it again and sit and chat about it, or he could ask anyone in the active transportation department. They know who I am and know that I work well with others, this is an activist forum where I call it as I see it.

At the summit I had more than one party come up me, see my name and say “That has been being passed around, great job…how did you do it?.”

Maybee that would be useful information forcity hall to have.

spencer
Guest
spencer

I think PBOT is doing a great job, its the Parks and BES that has many fed up with Portland’s bike culture. How can we be “Platinum” without mountain biking? I want to commute on dirt. There are many trails that would work for that. Why is that not part of PBOT’s equation?

rick
Guest
rick

Where is the platinum grade bike facilities for the Bridlemile neighborhood of SW Portland?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

have you, or are you, choosing to involve yourself in the Tryon-Stephens street plan? It’s likely to be the model for how the west hills neighborhoods are planned and built in the future.

davemess
Guest
davemess

How about the fact that likely over half of the signatures on that petition are there mainly because of lack of mountain bike access (which PBOT has very little to do).

Bryan
Guest
Bryan

PBOT’s and the City’s commitment to bike infrastructure should be consistent and ongoing without the community having to continually convince, agitate, remind, beg, threaten with lawsuits. And if they need to see 1,000 people on the street on bikes, they just need to look at the Hawthorne or Broadway bridges during rush hour. Seeing people use bike infrastructure should be compliment enough.

Brad
Guest
Brad

The proliferation of bike corrals is awesome, but just plunking one down here and there without the infrastructure to get to them is what sucks. There are a bunch of corrals on NE 28th, yet PBOT apparently doesn’t have the ability to tell a couple dozen citizens that they can’t store their private possessions on public property for free. That fiasco was a very loud and clear testament of this city’s commitment to bike infrastructure. Seattle doesn’t seem to have a problem removing parking spots to make way for enhanced multi-modal transportation.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Um, Critical Mass was well over 1000 people strong on a monthly basis when Vera Katz and the PPB decided to harass CM out of existence, with the support of the Portland Business Alliance.

soren
Guest
soren

And at the same time there was a shift from “louder” bike advocacy to more of a focus on fun. BikeLoudPDX is trying to make some noise but we could use help.

http://www.bikeloudpdx.org/

Ted Buehler
Guest

My take:

Roger has it right.

Will has a good point, but the “revoke Platinum” is not the correct message or the best message. We still plainly meet all the basic criteria for Platinum status, and things are demonstrably better today, in many ways, than they were in 2008 when it was awarded.

The big question for me isn’t so much “do we meet the Platinum Level City criteria as “Are we on our way to achieving “Diamond” status?

http://bikeleague.org/content/pursuit-diamond-status-boulder-and-davis-say-i-do
http://bikeleague.org/content/beyond-platinum-creating-world-class-biking-cities-us

1) Are we seeking Diamond status?

2) Could we be moving there faster?

3) What would it take to move there faster?

If we can shift the momentum from “Revoke Platinum” to “Achieve Diamond!” and get 500 people on the streets in support, I think we could do a lot to get bicycling’s political momentum rolling faster, and achieve safer streets, more people bicycling, and cleaner air for everyone.

Boulder and Davis have said “I do” to seeking Diamond status. Anyone here in Portland want to push for us to join?

Ted Buehler

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Well put Ted.

Peejay
Guest

Yes I do want us to earn diamond status. The key word is “earn”, and all the awards in the world aren’t going to get parents to allow their kids to ride to school, or professionals to ride a couple miles into work, or seniors to ride to the supermarket, if that award is not earned. 500+ people are mad enough that they’re willing to say “fix it now!” and not “pretend everything’s alright!”

WD
Guest
WD

How exactly do we meet Platinum? Here’s the criteria:
http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/BFC%20infographic.pdf

We don’t have 12% mode share. We don’t have bike lanes on 78% of arterials. We don’t have bike share. We don’t meet a lot of the Platinum criteria. Portland’s a half-decent place to ride a bike, sure, but it’s not Platinum.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Several of the encouragement areas are in the diamond level. It’s probably an average overall rather than a minimum in each standard.

Matt F
Guest
Matt F

I moved here 15 years ago and to me it feels that its not safer (nor less safe) to ride your bike around Portland. To me the point of the petition is that really the city is just barely maintaining the status quo. That’s not enough!

Lumberyard MTB Park
Guest
Michael Whitesel

Without the criticism, they wouldn’t be talking about it. So the protests and the petition have already succeeded (but please don’t stop!).

Dan
Guest
Dan

The mayor is completely aware of this movement.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Roger was quoted as:

“…where about 100 people were holding up signs. “I’ve yet to see a 1,000 people on the street. That would be great if we had even 200 people in front of City Hall holding up signs.’”

Last fall BikeLoudPDX got 300+ individual postcards sent to Commissioner Steve Novick about improving the Clinton Bike Blvd. And 300+ to former City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield in support of a permanent street plaza outside Voodoo Doughnuts.

Not 200 people standing on a street corner, but a whole lot of handwritten postcards. Progress?

Who wants to stand on a streetcorner with a sign next time a big bike project is up for review — like (in retrospect), the SW 12th Ave bike lanes, or NE/SE 28th Ave bike lanes? I’m ready next time the opportunity comes up, and can coordinate through BikeLoudPDX.

Ted Buehler

Dat
Guest
jeff
Guest
jeff

oh, drama…

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

oh, apathy

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Roger Geller
… There’s a level of frustration that we are not living up to our potential.”

NO
The frustration and well deserved rage comes from:
() the fact that bicycle riders and pedestrians are getting injured and killed with zero to laughable consequences for drivers
() the apathetic response from the police who are supposed to “protect and serve”
() the soul crushing realization that no segment of road will have ever been deadly enough that anything ever done to slow down or impede cars in any way.

The message that out state and local transportation departments send to us is that if you aren’t in a car you are roadkill to be ground in to a fine red powder by tires and blown away in the wind.
We. Don’t. Matter.

THAT is the source of our frustration.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Between 2003 and 2012:
63% of the traffic deaths were people in automobiles
31% were people walking
6% were people riding bikes

I think you’re going to have to forgive PBOT for not solely focusing on people riding.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

Platinum – right there. Thanks

Dismissed

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Forgive for having a full plate: sure.

Forgive for being unwilling to put even the tiniest burden of delay or inconvenience on drivers no matter how dangerous an area is fir vulnerable road users: NO

Forgive for being unwilling to admit that the engineering standards didn’t reach their zenith in the 1950’s and that improvement CAN BE MADE whether or not we actually have the funding: NO!

The last one gets me: these people are engineers. This comes with a basic understanding of science. Now I don’t expect ODOT to be made up of Mr. Wizard style experimental scientists but there has to be a fundamental scientific understanding that just because it is written in a book or law does not make it right.

Just because a guideline is written in a book or passed in to law does not make it right NOR safe.

If we don’t have the money and have bigger priorities: FINE.
Just don’t pretend that the vulnerable road user problems have been solved because the money isn’t there to fix them.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Your logic, if it can be even called that, is bizarre at best.

Slightest delay, as in PBOT has never built a diverter (ever)?

Engineering standards are ever evolving things that change with the demands of society.

PBOT, unlike many similar road agencies in the US, is near the front on many of the things people on this blog care about. BP just did a story about a signal revision that violates national standards. Our hybrid beacons at bike crossings also violate those less safe national standards. Maybe there is a perspective issue going on here.

No one is pretending anything has been solved, not even sure how you imagined this. Vision Zero is a continuation of the acknowledgement that things can be much better.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

One reason Portland doesn’t deserve Platinum: its bike-hating media! Whipping up anti-cycling hysteria and creating a hostile environment. While we’re raising awareness in the media, let’s also draw attention to the fact that the media are a big part of The Problem.

And BTW, one pleasant surprise with my recent move to Minneapolis is how much, much less hostile to bikes the StarTribune is compared with the Oregonian. Lots of bike stories are in there lately, with a bunch of high-profile (and in many cases, big-dollar) projects going on in the MSP metro, but refreshingly little bloviation about how it’s a waste of resources while our streets are crumbling, etc. And FWIW, the streets of the Twin Cities are a LOT more crumbled than those of Portland!

(BTW, I’m in the Portland area for the week, which is why I’ve been commenting again on BP after a long absence).

davemess
Guest
davemess

After spending a week in Cleveland last month, the idea of the Portland streets “crumbling” seems very laughable.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Freeze-thaw cycles wreak havoc on both AC and PCC roadways. Our mild winters save us lots of money in maintenance.

Perspective is frequently where disagreements arise.

davemess
Guest
davemess

And I feel that often many Portlanders lack perspective.

David
Guest
David

I’ve about given up on Portland and it’s politics. I was one of a few people who voted against the Parks funding recently – because they haven’t given me reason to vote for funding. When they get serious about providing more than just empty promises maybe I’ll change my mind. Maybe I’ll change my mind about cutting ivy when they get serious about doing more than talk and promises with smoke and mirrors about having someplace to ride some really serious singletrack. I’m not holding my breath.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I voted against it as well for similar reasons. “Just trust us, we need more money”, and “hey, it’s won’t exactly raise your taxes” should not be the strongest selling points for getting things done.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I think Roger and Jonathan make some very valid points about people showing up and speak in favor or more/safer cycling infrastructure at City Council. The more people that do it, the more they will have to listen and take action. It all comes down to showing up, not complaining (there seems to be a lot of complaining in these comments), and speaking positively about what you want. I’d also say that it does not take the BTA or some other advocacy group to lead the charge (although that can help direct the outcome)…. individual initiative makes people show up to City Council meetings. The folks who show up and speak the most and in large numbers are the ones who are likely to get what they want (and usually those people are businesses and old people who have a lot of free time on their hands). When was the last time anyone complaining in these comments actually spoke in favor of anything bike related at a Portland City Council meeting? Start talking about what’s good, and what you want to see more of.

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

So what happens when people show up to positively speak in favor of what they want and the budget meeting is cancelled without letting anyone know?

Chris Anderson
Guest

I’m thankful that PBOT folks are trying extra special hard, but they are missing the big picture — that outside of a few signature projects what we have in Portland is not great, it’s barely adequate. If they were more open about what sucks about biking in Portland it would be easier to take them seriously.

My family choose Portland because it is one of the few places in America where you can live carfree for the quality of life. So kudos there.

To pick on an example where having skin in the game would make a difference, when I tell staff how I ride my daughter to school every day, all weather on the Greenways, they are so proud of themselves. Aww shucks, those Greenways sure hit the spot. They don’t seem to ask themselves why I’m an outlier.

When I tell them the scary thing that keeps me from evangelizing bike-to-school to other parents, it becomes clear they are not designing Greenways with kids in mind. How can Greenways be great if they don’t do the ONE thing they are supposed to do? How many in city hall ride their kids to school?

What you see CONSTANTLY as a Greenway rider, is cross street stop sign blowing drivers that would have killed you if the timing were a little different. I’m amazed it’s not the source of more carnage. The worst drivers wave their phone hand at you while they keep rolling — get used to your kids riding against that.

Until Greenways become safe for kids, we’ll continue to have a city where schools generate a significant chunk of rush hour traffic. Just a small investment, directed by someone with skin in the game, would make carfree family life attractive for a big demographic.

People laugh today when you talk about children biking on Williams, but in the non-watered-down designs it would have been reality.

From my vantage point the city has a bunch of knobs, all of them poised just below the “virtuous feedback” line, and the cost to turn any of the knobs is trivial. For some reason they just stopped turning the knobs. And a phrase I hear from traffic engineers comes to mind: “It’s not in our toolbox.”

I’m super happy they are touting the “Transportation Strategy for People Movement” because maybe that means they get a new toolbox.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

PBOT isn’t the only one sucked in by the high profile projects.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Roger Geller once said in a slideshow “we’ve already picked all the low-hanging fruit” – meaning that they’ve already done almost everything planning-wisebthey can for the twelve percent or whatever the figure is of people who are pretty fearless and will confidently use bike lanes only.

He said if they wanted to go after numbers and make s dent in Portland’s car culture, they would need to really start building a TON more facilities for the 60% of people in the city who identify as “interested but concerned” ie they’d actually really love to try biking, but are afraid theyre going to get mown down, and not without good reason.

When I see roads like Barbur don’t even have decent bike facilities to cater to the measly 12%, it doesn’t give me hope that PBOT cares much about the 60% either.

Their refusal to address the current s**tshow that is SE Clinton is testament enough to this.

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Adam,

When people answer surveys, they tend to give answers that make them feel good about themselves. The “interested but concerned” folks may be in denial. They “should” ride a bike- just like they intend to diet and go to the gym and volunteer more for charity. I have always ridden- infrastructure or not- and I suspect that many BP riders would ride somewhere no matter what the infrastructure is. So I am questioning
the existence of the “interested but concerned.” I think you like bikes or you don’t.

I am not saying “no” to infrastructure improvements (when equitable and practical). I am saying that infrastructure improvements on busy streets will not increase bike use much. That would explain the bike stagnation- it is personal preference. We have better infrastructure than 2008 but no increase in mode share.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I agree that surveys do not always tell the whole story. But local agencies, like most organizations, are still required to be data-driven in much of their decision making. It’s not their fault if people lie on them!

You’d have to ask the City where that statistic was specifically garnered from.

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Part of being data driven is understanding this problem ( that participants aren’t always honest). PBOT tends to prioritize dogma over data.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I agree with this. People can say all kinds of things until “the rubber hits the road”. In reality it’s just them liking “the idea” of something, not guaranteeing to plan to do it in the future.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

I don’t think all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Roger comes from the old bike group that saw extra space on roads that wasn’t needed and repurposed it rather quickly. It was an operational change that didn’t need much outreach.
Greenways still fit much of that older approach.
It’s new facilities on collector roads he was referring to. Roads PBOT would not encourage for family use until there is a bigger cultural shift in Portland towards safer road use.

inwe
Guest
inwe

Perhaps this year’s WNBR needs to start at City Hall?

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

I would sign the petition for just the City’s recent behavior on mountain biking.

After cycling around Germany, France and Switzerland last summer, Portland is no where near a platinum level city. The bike infrastructure in a small city in the region is so far beyond what we have that the standard is laughable.

Seems like the petition has struck a nerve. Where do I sign up?

Josh Berezin
Guest
Josh Berezin

Jonathan, I agree that an more active citizen lobbying effort could help drive City Hall to execute on their promises. But I’m left feeling like it’s a pretty sad state of affairs for that to be the case.

Where was the citizen outcry that led to hundreds of millions of public dollars being spent on Portland Streetcar? And was it due to rallies on City Hall and Salem that ODOT plans to spend hundreds of millions on freeway improvements at the Rose Quarter?

These huge expenditures of resources for dubious, or at least debatable, public benefit occur as a matter of course, while getting bicycle-oriented projects the City has already committed to, and which have clear economic and quality-of-life benefits, is like pulling teeth.

I know, life’s not fair. I’ll get out there and stand on the lawn in front of City Hall with a sign. But I’m pissed off that I have to.

Christophe
Guest
Christophe

Very impressive response from PBOT. Portland is a great cycling city.

Pete
Guest
Pete

The fact that they have a transportation agency that would even pen a response, let alone 6 pages, is impressive itself.

Eric
Guest
Eric

PBOT has a lot more work to do, but they are indeed the bureau which has done the most to make biking into a compelling mode of transportation here. Are the mayor, council and PPB responding to this petition? Points due to PPB for recent progress on bike theft, but I hope platinum is more than “hey, I still have a bike!”

Somehow, our traffic enforcement requires more funding to write more tickets? That seems broken. The platinum status is largely a political thing. If our voters and elected officials don’t put priorities in the right order, Portland has no ground to claim to be so bike friendly.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

They did not have any problem writing tickets to cyclists blowing the Ladd’s circle stop signs during the Friday committee yesterday afternoon.

They did at least tell me thank you for stopping……

Pete
Guest
Pete

“Somehow, our traffic enforcement requires more funding to write more tickets? That seems broken.”

I really don’t think people realize how much of their taxes go to traffic enforcement. Santa Clara County at one time said on their web site they estimated it’s 50% of their budget, but I doubt that even includes the helicopter they fly over my house multiple times daily. As I’ve mentioned previously here, SCPD had to get a grant to take officers out of their cars to do crosswalk stings.

Jeff TB
Guest
Jeff TB

To quote Mr. Geller “We started talking about Portland being a world-class bicycling city. And I think people are understandably frustrated that we are not there yet.”

Didn’t he just support the argument that we are not yet Platinum?

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

This. And the fact that other cities are quickly building out networks of protected bike lanes and implementing and expanding bike share.

Portland is doing neither of these things. The closest thing they’re doing is “studying” downtown cycle tracks.

I’m not convinced a downgrade campaign is the right approach, but something needed to be done to wake the city up from its bicycle infrastructure malaise.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Don’t say New York, Chicago, or Seattle when using the network card. Those first two have huge transportation budgets and small shifts put a lot toward bike infra.

Mike Cobb
Guest

BTW, the League of American Bicyclist bike friendly rating criteria is pretty complex but includes the need for a lot of subjective judgement by LOCAL League-certified instructors who volunteer to judge (unless they changed the system recently). Portland does not produce many certified instructors at all: our local advocate would-be instructors by-in-large turn up their noses at the League style and it’s troublesome history with staunch “vehicular cycling” approaches. This is to say that the judging is made by a very specific demographic who probable doesn’t reflect the average transport cyclist in Portland.

maccoinnich
Guest

Where on Killingsworth are the nine-foot buffered bicycle lanes? Google isn’t helping.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

future project?

maccoinnich
Guest

It’s listed under the Engineering and Safety Projects completed since 2013.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

It must be either the short stretch between Interstate and MLK …or a section east of 42nd. There is a big gap in there next to the community college….oh wait, we need to leave on street parking so drivers do not have to walk around the block!

Case and point. Why is it so hard to say “We need to remove 1.75 lanes miles of parking for Community College bikeway access.”

That is a rhetorical question since the petition says why.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

That stretch ends at Michigan…it does not even go to MLK…..