If anyone in the country knows what it takes for a city to improve its bike transportation, it’s a woman whose entire business depends on cities doing so: Mia Birk.
Birk, the former Portland bicycle coordinator and senior local principal of Alta Planning + Design, was indirectly quoted in a comment this week from BikePortland reader Matt, who said he’d heard Birk’s theory about this in a conversation once.
Matt seems to have remembered it. It’s a memorably simple formula.
I once sat next to Mia Birk at a meeting where she said that in order to create a city that is friendly for cycling you need the following things:
1. Political leadership
2. Advocates (an organized group)
3. City Staff/Planners who ‘get it’ and at least some who actually ride bikes
4. A good bike plan
5. A dedicated source of local money (which can be leveraged toward larger grants)
Getting elected officials who understand the issues and take the lead is the only way that forward movement is going to happen in Portland. The other four items on that list either already exist, or will come after the political leadership shows up.
Which of these does Portland have today? Jonathan shared his own take on this in a reply to Matt’s comment; so did BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky, who had written the guest post that prompted the comment.
Intriguingly, Jonathan, Gerik and Matt all seem to agree on which two items Portland is missing at the moment: #1 and #5. With #1 being the most important.
This is something we’re thinking a lot about at BikePortland. Stay tuned for a new recurring feature that we hope will help the city patch this leak and get rolling again. And in the meantime, let’s all give Matt some thanks for taking those mental notes.
Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be mailing $5 to Matt in thanks for this great one. Watch your email!
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.