BikePortland Podcast: Is our once heralded 2030 Bike Plan worth saving?

Posted by on September 15th, 2021 at 1:27 pm

In this episode we take stock of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 (PDF). I spoke with Catie Gould, a member of the Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Advisory Committee and former co-chair of Bike Loud PDX who spearheaded a campaign to resuscitate the plan in early 2020.

Adopted in 2010, for many of us who’ve worked on bicycling in this town for a while, the Bike Plan was the vessel of many hopes and dreams. It was the roadmap we’d take to the platinum-laden, pedaling promised land, described by PBOT as a “world class bicycling city” where bike riders would account for one out of every four trips citywide. Even before it was passed by City Council, the plan was a beacon for the community as hundreds of advocates and dozens of city staffers attended countless meetings to make it something “America’s Best Bicycling City” could be proud of. In 2007, when former Mayor Tom Potter tried to save $100,000 by cutting the administrative budget for the plan, we rallied together and forced him to reverse course.

That’s how much the plan meant to us.

Just days after it passed we warned you that it might end up dusty on a shelf. And it only took about a year for us to see clear evidence that PBOT put more effort into the planning process than its execution. Now a decade later and our once vaunted bike plan has never felt weaker.

Advertisement


Bike Plan cover. Catie Gould image by Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“There’s no car trip reduction plan that I can read. There’s no ‘How we’re going to double transit ridership action plan by 2030’ that’s out there. The bike plan is it. It’s a concrete plan for how the right-of-way in the city can get reallocated away from cars.”

In the past year or so, the plan has been snubbed several times. First, a coming-out-party (of sorts) for cycling at City Council (optimistically dubbed the “Council Bike Moment”) that was set for September 2020 and was to include a 10-year Bike Plan update, was cancelled at the last minute and never rescheduled. Then newly appointed Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty told the city’s bike advisory committee earlier this summer that she’d never even heard of the plan and that’s it top goal of 25% bike mode share by 2030 wasn’t going to happen. Then in July, the Director of PBOT offered an anemic response when a member of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee tried to pin him down on a commitment to dust off the plan and make it relevant again.

That committee member was Catie Gould. Catie was co-chair of nonprofit bike advocacy group Bike Loud PDX when the group tried to resurrect the Bike Plan in early 2020 — right before Covid changed everything and stopped their momentum.

I caught up with Catie a few days ago to find out if she thinks Portland’s bike plan is worth saving. Learn the answer to that question, get the inside scoop about the latest hits the Bike Plan has taken, and much more by listening to our conversation via the player above or in your favorite podcast app. (If you have a Google speaker, just say, “Hey Google, play the latest episode of the BikePortland Podcast.”)

For more episodes, visit BikePortland.org/podcast.


You can view a complete transcript of our conversation below or via this PDF.

Jonathan Maus:
So, bring me back to when you were actively involved with Bike Loud and it felt to me, as someone watching that group, that the bike plan to you and to the organization more broadly, but to you specifically, was a really important thing [00:02:00] to focus on. What about the bike plan and where it was made it something that you really wanted to focus on when you were at Bike Loud?

Catie Gould:
Well, I would say that it really kicked off when Roger [Geller, PBOT Bicycle Coordinator] presented the draft report to the Bicycle Advisory Committee. I want to say that was in the fall of 2019, maybe October, so almost exactly two years ago from now. And I knew the 2030 bike plan was something that had existed, but people didn’t really talk about it very much so, it seemed really dead and all of a sudden [00:02:30] this progress report was coming out and I said, “Maybe, it’s not dead, maybe there is going to be some activity, emotion around this.”

Catie Gould:
Initially, we had some conversations with staff and the question is why now? There was supposed to be a five-year progress report four or five years ago. I was thinking, did Commissioner Eudaly ask for this? Maybe Chris Warner he was newer at the time. Who’s wanting this update? And the responses that I heard was nobody [00:03:00] asked for the update. This report was being made and now years later it still hasn’t gone to city hall. So, it kicked off a series of conversations in Bike Loud of great, we have this report it’s this opportunity to have a conversation about what’s going on with biking, about what’s not going on with biking and what is the path forward from here? And I think that’s still the conversation that people are trying to have.

Jonathan Maus:
And so Bike Loud came out with a progress report, [00:03:30] a publication they put out, which was pretty impressive report from such a scrappy group to put together and really hold PBOT accountable on this. I thought it was a good document and you asked for several things in the bike plan. Bike Loud wanted more adherence to the actual adopted plans and policies so, when the project came up, you were saying, you need to do what you said you were going to do and more transparency around that. Sounds you all asked for better neighborhood Greenway, [00:04:00] more transparency around project delivery time. So, there was a host of things. Was there any follow up from PBOT on that stuff or did the onset of COVID just wipe that all out, what happened once that publication came out?

Catie Gould:
So, I would say initially we got really good feedback. We were having meetings and follow up with Commissioner Eudaly, who was really surprised to hear about the lack of progress in biking. Frankly they were just so agreeable, it was really off putting, [00:04:30] what do we do next? At the time there was a hearing on the calendar at city hall the way we’re going to have these conversations and we were talking about strategies and then COVID hit and it took all the air out of the room, Bike Loud also had reduced capacity to as people are trying to navigate all the changes in the world. We certainly heard that a lot of advocacy around this is needed, but at the same time Bike Loud, we weren’t asking for the city to do a bunch of whole new things we [00:05:00] were just asking to implement the plans that have been previously adopted by city council.

One of the things that we asked for was an audit on project delivery times. This is such a huge issue, not just in Portland all over and if you hear about infrastructure in the US taking a long time and being really expensive to build it often comes back to environmental impact statements for big projects, but city owned streets don’t have to go through that process, but often, these projects can take [00:05:30] years, many years over a decade to do and you read the IPCC report and it feels like we have such little time and changing the built environment it just takes so much time and it really burns out staff time and resources to have a project last six years instead of four, for instance. It also burns out the advocates in the community, people move in, I’ve never heard about this, well, we’ve been presenting on this for 15 years now.

Jonathan Maus:
When you [00:06:00] say an audit on project delivery times, what would that look like?

Catie Gould:
I think it would be nice to say 75% of all the city capital improvement projects take eight years or longer or they were delayed by three years or more, why is that? How can we cut down on the times? Where are the points in the process where we keep getting stuck and delayed? Because, there’s a lot of red tape that we need to… just in the way that you talk about developers. What are [00:06:30] the barriers to building new homes in the city, we urgently need new homes so how can we make that process easier to navigate? We need to do the same thing on the street.

Jonathan Maus:
You’re saying it would be more of the city of Portland auditor’s office could maybe do a report that would be really powerful and it could just examine, say four or five years of PBOT projects or two or three years of capital projects and just look at them and just lay it out and were they on time, were they not? Why? What were some of the issues? That would be really powerful, I never thought of it that way. In my head, I was thinking of it as [00:07:00] a PBOT internal thing they would just do a better job explaining but, if I think about it in terms of it like the city auditor’s office, who regularly puts out reports about things like this, we’re not paving enough streets or contracting to disadvantaged business enterprises is what it should be. So, if they did one on PBOT project delivery that would be really…

Catie Gould:
I think about a lot of just how speeding up the timelines of project would just benefit everyone, it’d make the city look good, it would save us a bunch of money, [00:07:30] we could get more done in the same amount of time and is just hard to know where are the big snacks? Is it this requirement to contract out projects that are over a certain size? Does that limit need to be adjusted? Would that make a bunch of projects be done a year earlier? There’s just a lot of points in the process where I think there’re opportunities to speed things up in terms of delivering these things. Advocates ask for quick [00:08:00] build projects a lot, there’s always this tension between get the right away right and now and we’re going to hope they improve it later, and people saying they never improve it later. The projects they never get upgraded, it’s a buffered bike lane today, it’ll be protected one day, but there’s so many other things going on it never gets upgraded.

And I think the city has such a hard time I think with quick build projects, we’ve only had a few examples and I agree when the bike share came out and also the scooters, there’s all these points in [00:08:30] time where I think this will change everything, they all have to build more infrastructure for all these new users and it seems it’s not really happening and it’s infuriating when the city says “We’ve never had more bike lanes than now, we’ve built X amount this year and X amount this other year,” but there’s no context for what their own goals are to build. They’re not meeting their own goals, nowhere close and what they’re really saying is that the infrastructure we’re building is not resilient [00:09:00] to the increased number of people driving in the city.

Jonathan Maus:
That’s what’s important, not the incremental progress of the bike stuff that’s being built. It’s what is it, what’s happening overall to the mix of users on the street and is it reflecting that incremental progress or whatever? Because the rate of people driving is not incremental, it’s going up a lot quicker.

Catie Gould:
Miles are easy to measure, but it’s not just about miles. I think one thing that was very striking in the draft update was that the percentage of women biking [00:09:30] was flat. Over 10 years, we’ve made no progress in additional women biking in the city and I think that tells a lot about the infrastructure investments that we are not making.

Jonathan Maus:
So we were talking about project delivery times and what better moment politically than right now with all this attention on climate, what better moment to go to council, go to the public, go to the media and say, we are fast tracking this stuff, we are not going to have our normal process for getting these transportation projects [00:10:00] out because they’re essential to changing our trip mix and getting more people to not drive and more people to bike in transit. What better time to do it than right now and there’s just silence, there’s crickets really. They’re doing some work on the Rose Lane stuff, but I’m worried of about that too, because we’ve seen recently they’re doing that almost in some ways at the expense of bike travel and I don’t think they’re being as nuanced as they could be about that but, this would be a great moment for them to speed up project [00:10:30] delivery on this stuff and I don’t feel like they’re taking it yet so, we have work to do.

Catie Gould:
I agree, the fact that when Central City in Motion passed which also felt like this will change everything, the fact that they made a bucket that was years five to 10, why do we need years five to 10? So, we want to help you, we just really want to help the city succeed at their own goals, we’re not asking for anything new, we’re trying to help the city be successful. But, we can’t do that if only [00:11:00] one of us is willing to talk about it. I didn’t personally make up these wild mode share goals that PBOT has put out there into the future.

Jonathan Maus:
Wait, you say they’re wild so, just for folks listening in so, the Portland bicycle plan for 2030 which came out in 2010 at least was adopted in 2010, it said by 2030, Portland will have a bicycle usage rate, a bicycle mode share of 25% of the trips made in Portland will be by bicycle. [00:11:30] So, do you think that’s a wild thing to speculate about?

Catie Gould:
Well, certainly while given the progress or the lack progress. I think realistically for climate change and for emissions, those are I think realistic goals of let’s cut single occupancy driving in half, but we’re certainly not acting like that’s the goal.

Jonathan Maus:
So, I get how there was this momentum with Commissioner Eudaly’s office and for folks that don’t know Commissioner Eudaly was in charge [00:12:00] of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. That’s how the city of Portland’s government works, each of the five commissioners gets handed a certain amount of bureaus. So, Commission Chloe Eudaly was in charge of the transportation bureau and from all signs it looked like her and her staff were moving forward on bicycling. They were starting to get it, they were coming to bike advisory committee meetings and there seemed there was this momentum and like you said yes, COVID hit. I think there were other things going on as well, [00:12:30] I’m curious though, if you feel that, do you think that there was some other things happening beyond COVID that took the wind out of the progress of the bike plan?

Catie Gould:
Even after because the council hearing got rescheduled to the fall and when that got kicked off the calendar again, the reason that time, I think it was after the George Floyd murder and all of the racial justice protests in Portland and the city was rightfully concerned that the only people that were going to show up at the city council [00:13:00] then were white people or white bike advocates. And I think we’re certainly aware that’s an issue, that’s certainly a very strong narrative in Portland. Portland is not the only city that has a lot of white majority transportation advocates certainly in the bike only space. I think that’s different than transportation or pedestrian advocacy. We have this really big narrative here in the city that people in bike advocacy are all white people.

Jonathan Maus:
So, [00:13:30] you’re saying that, and I hear you about that. So, there was this thing that was actually scheduled on city council for I believe September 2020 or something like that. I got to say, I remember actually getting a phone call from somebody at PBOT about that. Basically explaining why, it was going to be pulled, essentially the city was going to be doing a presentation that would include several things around biking rights so, people like you and I were really excited because we were going to get an update on the bike plan. I think there was going to be some talk about [00:14:00] a neighborhood Greenaway report or something like that. And then there was going to be another actually huge thing that we should talk about or talk about on a different episode is, they were going to finally release their protected bike lane design guide, which has just been lost in the ether.

Jonathan Maus:
So, there was an exciting moment. It was actually called the council bike moment so, they were probably going to have Roger Geller who’s the city bike coordinator and other people to make these nice presentations, and essentially it would’ve been like an educational moment for the current sitting commissioners and the mayor. That’s was also [00:14:30] what I heard through the grape vine was they were really concerned about the racial optics of that, given the moment meant we were in as a country and as a city and the very unfortunate narrative that has just hung over cycling in Portland for many years, way before COVID, way before the George Floyd incident. So, PBOT got cold feet about that and decided to just put it off. And then I think when they rescheduled it, Eudaly didn’t get reelected, [00:15:00] we had an election-

Catie Gould:
That was another blow.

Jonathan Maus:
… so then it never happened. So, there you go. That was definitely a setback, but it’s not as if cycling in Portland was doing great even years before this. So, just for folks that might be new Portland’s basically been on a plateau, if not, there have been years of decline actually, if we’re looking at this one US census, how do you bike commute to work number, which is definitely flawed, but for all intents and purposes, the amount of people bicycling in Portland has definitely not been going up [00:15:30] ever since I think 2010 or 2011 is when things started to sputter and it’s been basically flat.

Catie Gould:
I think 2014 was the peak that we saw in the data.

Jonathan Maus:
We had that small peak, what 7.2% of people who bike to work in Portland and it’s gone down since then. And I also think strangely enough, the city doesn’t really count like they used to or at least they’re not as transparent with the count. So, once those results started not being great every year, suddenly they didn’t make a big hullabaloo about releasing the data which is [00:16:00] another interesting topic. So, the bike plan stuff gets set to the back burner for sure. Again, along with a lot of other bike related topics at the city, which is also part of the conversation, but to focus on the bike plan because it’s this big thick, I have it sitting on my desk here, it can it weighs several pounds.

Jonathan Maus:
It’s really the roadmap for advocates to look at in terms of which projects are promised and which direction the policies are supposed to go. And [00:16:30] even though it is definitely outdated, it’s actually embarrassingly outdated if you think about where we are especially on the topic of how people from different backgrounds see cycling and people of color and a lot of the issues that we’ve talked about around race, the bike plan is almost devoid of any discussion of that. And obviously if it was produced in 2020, it would’ve had voluminous chapters on that issue. So, just a market change, but [00:17:00] even so, it’s there so, there’s this question of do you think it’s even worth trying to resuscitate this thing or maybe the advocacy community Bike Loud could take a leading role and say “Okay, PBOT if you’re uncomfortable with the bike plan, let’s just put it aside and create something new.”? What do you think is a good way to move forward, first do you think it’s even worth trying to breathe new life into this thing at this point?

Catie Gould:
Well, I have two main things I want to say about this and one, why do we care so much about [00:17:30] the bike plan? I think in terms of transportation as a holistic picture, the bike plan I think is the only comprehensive, how are we going to get to this huge mode share goal? There’s no car trip reduction plan that I can read on the internet, there’s no how we’re going to double transit ridership action plan by 2030, that’s out there. The bike plan is it is a concrete plan for how the right of way in the city can get [00:18:00] reallocated away from cars. And it’s the only thing we have from that. So, in that way that is one reason why it’ important If the city wanted to do a car trip reduction plan, I would be all for that and say, “Who cares about the bike plan, this other one is more important and we’ll get more people on our side, go for it.”

Catie Gould:
But, the other thing is, I agree, we talked about that at Bike Loud. Is this a plan worth saving? And there are a lot of issues with the bike plan as is currently written. [00:18:30] I think one, it’s too commute focused on these long corridors and you’re right, I wasn’t at the table, I wasn’t even living in Portland when this plan was adopted. I don’t know if the right people are at the table. It seems like probably not.

Jonathan Maus:
When you say commute focused, you mean it’s too focused on the trip to work and not going to the store, seeing your friends, the social stuff?

Catie Gould:
Yes. And I think if you just look at a [00:19:00] map, you see these very long corridors throughout the city where we’re going to put a bike lane on the whole thing, something that we were starting to talk about with Eudaly’s office, and this is where we came in with our recommendation to say, it’s clear we’re not going to build all this stuff, what stuff do we want to build? That’s the conversation about what are the priorities we want. We could build out a network of protected bike lanes that are just a little one mile network around high frequency transit or around schools or around grocery stores, and those speak to different needs [00:19:30] that different communities might have and that would be really a great conversation to have, to get feedback on, what things about biking? Get different communities excited to bike and where are the points that we intersect and agree, but we’re not there yet.

Catie Gould:
And certainly it was more than Bike Loud as a volunteer organization scope to do that outreach and I was really hoping the city was going to pick that up [00:20:00] and have that conversation, have focus groups and figure out, we don’t have to scrap the whole thing. I think the thing that we were most nervous about is saying that this plan isn’t good and let’s kick off another four-year public engagement process for another plan, that’s also going to sit on the shelf. I think that’s our worst fear. So, we’re trying to figure out that line of is there energy to redo the plan? Because I agree, if nobody is taking it seriously, there’s not much value in its existing right now.

Jonathan Maus:
[00:20:30] And to that note, you had an opportunity to ask the PBOT director. So, the person in charge of the transportation bureau, who’s currently Chris Warner, you had an opportunity to ask him about that just back in July at the bicycle advisory committee meeting. And I wonder if you can respond to how he responded to you. So, I’m going to play you that clip so you can hear it and then ask for your response.

Catie Gould:
When is this [00:21:00] conversation happening? Because this was supposed to be just a mere status updated city council a year and a half ago, and then a year ago and as far as I have heard from staff in the past, there’s nothing happening. So, I’m curious very specifically, what are the next steps that’s happening with this so we can move forward?

Chris Warner:
No, and I get that. But certainly I will commit to you now we will [00:21:30] revisit that in terms of how we roll it out. We didn’t want to roll things out in the middle of a pandemic.

Jonathan Maus:
So, how does that hit hearing it again, how does that sound to you? His response.

Catie Gould:
It didn’t change my opinion at all, he committed to nothing, he promised nothing and he was aware of no activity that he could cite was going to happen in the future specifically.

Jonathan Maus:
[00:22:00] He did say that he committed to you to meet you after, did anything happen after that meeting?

Catie Gould:
No. I have like 30,000 unread emails, but I’m pretty sure I do not have one from Director Warner in my inbox to talk. So, I have also not followed up. It’s hard to know how much energy to put into reviving this and make it an issue.

Jonathan Maus:
You mentioned on there one specific example, maybe they could do a piece of [00:22:30] bike planning work and just attach it to the old bike plan. Like you said, biking while black, which gives a reference to something the city did with the pedestrian master plan, where they did a whole amazing outreach sessions to black people and other people of color and they did some actual walks and they listened to what the perceptions were about walking in the city. So, as activist type people, they actually refer to that work a lot. It actually has a lot of juice to it and so that’s why you mentioned that. Are there other pieces of work that you think could be bolted [00:23:00] onto the old plan to make it relevant again, do you think that’s a way to go forward?

Catie Gould:
I think that would be a really good direction to go forward. The outreach that the pedestrian plan got was really great, they did those citywide surveys and they did the focus groups because they weren’t getting a lot of responses from black community members in Portland and they identified those specific issues and that was great. I don’t know why we can’t put the same amount of effort and resources into biking, which is supposed to have a much bigger mode [00:23:30] share than walking in Portland. We have a much higher hill to climb with biking and I feel PBOT is showing that they’re very easily embarrassed, they’re very worried about being embarrassed publicly and it’s okay if we don’t have all the answers to what needs to happen to move forward, but we need to at least be able to talk about it openly, otherwise, here we are we’re just going to have the same conversation years from now to say, things aren’t [00:24:00] going well, how are we going to pick things back up?

That’s what we were looking for in the progress report initially, it seemed to have very little actions for how we’re going to turn this ship around and get more energy. So, that’s why Bike Loud said, “We can make some suggestions, we have a bunch of people who have been trying to get bike lanes built in Portland and have engaged with the staff a lot over the years and figured out what are we hearing collectively that are [00:24:30] emerging as trends for why we can’t get projects built?”

Jonathan Maus:
It sounds like you’re saying if you’re PBOT instead of taking the route of saying, that’s challenging or that’s a touchy subject or we’re not quite ready to go there yet. Instead of just saying that, embrace that, but then actually do something or have a way forward, have a roadmap that says, we’re still committed to this thing, which is in this case bicycling and here are the challenges [00:25:00] and this is how we’re going to get past these challenges. That’s what I hear you’re saying you would like to see.

Catie Gould:
A status update to see commissioners. Commissioner Hardesty, wasn’t even aware that the 2030 bike plan existed, which really shows to me no one in PBOT staff has cared to tell her about it. They don’t really want to address it or engage in it or having just a quick briefing of here’s where we are. We don’t have to make a two-year [00:25:30] public engagement process to have that one meeting of how are things going? This is so important to the climate action plan that the city has to reduce emission, it’s important to Portland so, it makes it all the more vexing that we’re really just ignoring it until we figure out how to address it and make it look like a success somehow before we even talk about it publicly.

Jonathan Maus:
It’s odd. I’m glad you brought up that thing about Commissioner Hardesty, which [00:26:00] for folks that weren’t aware this happened several months ago, I think earlier in spring, she was at the bicycle advisory committee meeting and the topic of I master plan came up and it was clear in that conversation when she was at the meeting that she hadn’t heard of it or no one had briefed her about it and she made it also an unfortunate dismissive comment that the goal of 25% mode share is basically not going to happen, which was totally a jaw dropping moment for a room full of bike advocates who were very committed to making that happen. [00:26:30] But it became clear too that it definitely wasn’t anything malicious on her part or it was more of the fact that it became very clear and as we’ve been talking about given the city’s just lack of confidence, let’s say, the city’s timidity around cycling so that they have a new commissioner who comes in after a previous commissioner who was really ready to start talking a lot about bicycling I think.

They have a new commissioner come in Commissioner Hardesty, who’s black for folks who don’t live in Portland [00:27:00] and they didn’t even briefer on the bike master plan. It’s almost as if it was this cultural thing at PBOT where there’s this understanding that bicycling is either so unimportant or so toxic or so controversial that it just didn’t even merit a mention when you brief your new commissioner, which was shocking, but also very telling. And I hope a lesson for advocates about where things stand. [00:27:30] So, that says a lot about where we have to go next in Portland and bicycling. It’s almost like that story about commissioner Hardesty, it makes me think that it’s going to be hard to resurrect this 2010 document and make it anything that has any political heft.

Jonathan Maus:
And as you know Catie, this is all political, this is all about politics. And so, [00:28:00] I’m thinking as I’m talking to you, it’s like it’s a nice document, maybe it has some good technical appendices in it that can be useful, but maybe it is time to just think of a whole new tact to move bicycling forward or at least have a hook to hang bicycling on, something to give it an avenue to move forward, that’s not the bike plan. Maybe we should do stop looking at it as this thing that holds all of our hopes and dreams.

Jonathan Maus:
But what is that thing that holds our hopes and dreams? [00:28:30] There was this 2012 story on bike Portland I was researching before talking to you today and Mia Birk, who’s a former bike coordinator, this amazing bike planner, one of the most innovative people who got the first bike lanes in Portland in the nineties in 2012, when Portland was making some headway on getting a bike share system in town. And again, at that time, Mia Birk was president of al bicycle share. So, she was hardly an unbiased observer, but she came out and did an interview with her and she said that it’s going to be bike share that’s going to take us to [00:29:00] the 2030 visit.

Catie Gould:
I thought so too.

Jonathan Maus:
I did too be honest, I thought it would just be such an example. So, that’s what Mia Birk thought, apparently Catie Gould, that’s what you thought as well, but do you see anything else on the horizon that might be this transformative thing that will help get us there? Maybe it was Central City in Motion plan, which was going to do protected bike lanes, but I feel that’s been superseded by Rose Lane projects, because transits more politically easy for PBOT, they’re not as afraid of transit as they are of biking [00:29:30] and so don’t really hear about the Central City in Motion project, but is there anything that you could think of that would be another thing to put our hopes and dreams into?

Catie Gould:
There is a joke that it takes so much work to adopt a plan and no public process to not do it. And before COVID was happening, Bike Loud had that rally on the anniversary of the bike plan we thought what’s next? And we thought maybe we could have a mock city council [00:30:00] hearing about to formally adopt the bike plan say were not doing it, was like a funny idea and then well COVID hit, but in a way, it makes me so sad Jonathan, the people who spent years of their lives working on this, volunteering their time and then for it not to get implemented. And it happens all the time and it makes me really hesitant to say, I’m really enthusiastic on getting involved in the [00:30:30] bike plan 2.0.

And in a way the city is redoing a bunch of this work with these in motion plants, that we have these district in motion plan that are saying, let’s build a bike facility here and a transit facility there and in some way is really good because it’s more inclusive of the other modes, but also it’s like the roots and the designations of what roads were supposed to be bike streets before in the transportation system plan or in the 2030 bike plan are almost like they feel like they’re not even relevant [00:31:00] to the in motion plans anymore. So, it would be easier I think if there was a vote to just say, we’re not going to do the bike plan anymore, because then we talk about well, what comes next? Do we need to invest in more in motion plans? If so, it seems we need to be able to do more than one at a time, for the geographical areas of the city so we can get more comprehensive plans together.

Jonathan Maus:
So maybe it’s a Portland [00:31:30] in motion effort that brings in all the geographic plans?

Catie Gould:
They’re doing North Portland in motion right now. I live in Hollywood. There’s no in motion plan that’s come close to my boundaries. It’s a major commercial hub, major transit hub, but there’s not a single protected bike lane over here and there’s not planned to be. So, the in motion plans, I feel they do have potential, but they are watered down from, I think the original vision of how [00:32:00] Portland was going to be a bicycling city. I think having conversations around little networks of protected bike lanes around certain types of facilities, like high frequency transit or schools would be I think a really good strategy, but that’s just my opinion.

Jonathan Maus:
Well, I appreciate your opinion. Thanks for talking this is really helpful for me to just jog all of my brain cells around the bike plan and [00:32:30] the importance of either ditching it moving forward, or just shaking us out of this cycling stupper that we’re in. So, I appreciate you talking to me and I appreciate on your continued membership on the bicycle advisory committee, hopefully that’s there to stay for a bit longer?

Catie Gould:
If there’s one place that seems we should be able to have those conversations is on that committee, to say what is the vision for bicycling moving forward? So, like I told director Warner we’ve been primed for two [00:33:00] years, here’s the status and really like to see what comes next. Also, this isn’t a problem that I think is uniquely specific to Portland. I think other cities have similar challenges of adopting transportation plans that don’t get implemented fully or implemented at all. If we can fix it here, then maybe it’ll help other cities in other places.

Jonathan Maus:
Thanks again. I appreciate it.

Catie Gould:
Great. Well, thanks for having me on your show, Jonathan.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

7
Leave a Reply

avatar
7 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
7 Comment authors
JoshDavid HampstenZachKatzChadwickFsoren Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

Great and thoroughly depressing interview. I wonder if Roger will read it or if he’s still borrowing Melania’s jacket. After the last few decades of lying, obfuscating, wasting the time of citizen volunteers, and kicking the ol’ can (the one marked “political will”) further down the road, I feel like a more appropriate headline might have been “Is the Portland Bureau Of Transportation worth saving?”. The Vision Zero program, viewed through the prism of its own ongoing and blood-soaked failure, kind of sums it all up.

Watts
Guest
Watts

With our current leadership, bicycling is a spent force in Portland. When PBOT focuses on goals such as “combating hate”, who is left focus on something as mundane and non-performative as increasing non-automotive mode share?

soren
Guest
soren

“I think realistically for climate change and for emissions, those are I think realistic goals of less cut single occupancy driving in half…”

As someone whose interest in cycling has always focused on its potential to reduce urban transportation’s contribution to ongoing ecocide and its potential to reduce “carnage”, I think its important to rub city council’s “political face” into the fact that the the ~30% decline in cycling mode share has not only increased Portland’s carbon pollution but has also contributed to increase death and suffering on our road network.

ChadwickF
Subscriber
ChadwickF

“A healthy community, vibrant neighborhoods… AND BICYCLES EVERYWHERE!” Holy moly, I don’t think I’d actually seen that cover before. Ha!
This was a great listen, very eye-opening.

ZachKatz
Guest
ZachKatz

Great interview, Jonathan and Catie.

Two thoughts:

– One thing Bike Loud might consider is finding a way to “sell” the 2030 Bike Plan to the general public. Obviously, the plan isn’t something most people will read, so if PBOT had any real intention of implementing it, they would come up with slick marketing material to show people why it’s important. All of the content is already there in the plan itself—it just needs to be artfully summarized with a punchy, sexy marketing campaign. How would Don Draper sell it?

– If getting the city to implement the entire plan feels too ambitious, Bike Loud should consider focusing all their energy on making sure protected bike lanes happen on Sandy, which seems to be the next major street to be redesigned, and connects a lot of neighborhoods. That would be a *huge* win, and would build considerable momentum (both in mode share, morale, and takeaways for effective advocacy) for PBLs on other major and minor streets.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The BMP was DOA in East Portland in 2010. The original document required bicycle facilities every quarter mile in inner Portland but only every half-mile in the poorer East Portland. Shouldn’t standards be higher in the poorer more racially-diverse parts of town than the rich white section? Fortunately we East Portland bike advocates were able to capitalize on the obvious BMP deficiencies in getting the City Council of that time to require a separate BMP for East Portland, which eventually became EPIM, and unlike the BMP, has largely been implemented since then.

The BMP was DOA precisely because it was written by planners and inner Portland bike advocates for those self-same planners and advocates – no one else was consulted – they existed in an echo chamber. Most importantly, the city’s transportation engineers who control PBOTs money and political structure were never consulted nor did they give their consent. They of course got their revenge by refusing to implement the BMP. We East Portland advocates on the other hand went out of our way to include PBOT engineers in our planning and advocacy, and got a lot more success – it’s not perfect, but it’s been a hell of a lot better.

When you decide the BMP2030 isn’t worth saving, and you will eventually, I’d suggest you focus your efforts on working with PBOT engineers from the start and ignore the planners and the utterly useless and ignored BAC. Create a 5-year action plan. Then 4 years later, create another one. And so on.

Josh
Guest

Thank you for providing a transcript!