Nearly half of Portlanders would bike more if it was safer and cheaper, citywide survey says

Portland’s future, if we want it. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)
Survey report cover.

There’s strong potential for biking and transit use in Portland if people felt it was safe and affordable, most Portlanders want more armed police officers to enforce traffic laws, and fighting climate change isn’t even a top three priority given the other crises our city faces — those are just three takeaways from a major new survey completed by the City of Portland.

The 2022 Portland Insights Survey was a collab between the City Budget Office and a research institute at Portland State University. It’s based on 5,290 completed surveys that gleaned both quantitative and qualitative responses on six subjects. Many of the findings are relevant to transportation issues. And with the responses broken down by geography and race/ethnicity, we now have a new set of data to understand how Portlanders feel about a variety of issues.

Below are what I felt are the key takeaways…

Tremendous potential for biking and transit

Just make transit and cycling safe, and Portland could be well on its way to meeting lofty transportation goals. One of the survey questions asked, “Which of the following ways of getting around the city would you like to do more, if it is affordable and safe to do so?” (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

Citywide, 60.2% of respondents said they’d ride public transit more often. And second place was “bike” with 45.4%. “Drive” finished in third at 35%, followed by “walk or roll” at 31%.

That bike number is likely much higher, because (for some strange reason), the survey put “e-bike” in a combined category with “e-scooter.” Given what we know about the popularity of e-bikes and relatively small amount of e-scooter fans in Portland, I would wager the combined “bike” and “e-bike” response to this question would put cycling well over 50%.

These responses were similar across all sections of the city, except for east Portland. That is the only sextant where people ranked “drive” as the top mode they’d like to do more of if they felt like it was safer and cheaper. In east Portland, 55.2% of respondents picked “drive,” followed by transit at 49.3% and bike at just 30.6%. Also notable is that the percentage of respondents who said they’d bike more was nearly twice as high in southeast (58.3%) as in east (30.6%).

There are a lot of cycling skeptics in Portland right now

I’ve alluded to this problem before, but we must understand and grapple with the fact that a perfect storm of factors is leading a large number of Portlanders to express negative views of cycling infrastructure. Regardless of the accuracy or true feelings behind these sentiments, they are loud and increasingly being heard at City Hall, PBOT, and by the local media.

Even the report’s own summary states, “… car traffic patterns that cater to bikes and bike traffic (when bikes are not seen very often), have, at times, increased the difficulty in accessing businesses and decreased sidewalk safety.”

And the report shares dozens of “representative quotes” from Portlanders, with a striking number of them saying bad things about bike-related infrastructure:

“To pay all that [in taxes] and roads are terrible with costly, fancy bike lanes everywhere…”

“Recent ‘improvements’ to this neighborhood’s roads are a total waste of money. We need sidewalks because there are tons of walkers especially with dogs … we don’t need designated bike lanes as many are elderly. And now we have an area with shared lanes to accommodate bikes, which are few and far between. You have eliminated parking for some homes and the lines are confusing.”

“PBOT needs to stop converting streets to bicycle only avenues.”

On the flip side, the report also had quotes about transportation that express the need to make biking and walking better:

“As a senior who grew up in Portland and has many times used Max to join up with friends all over the city, as a person who has rode my bike from home to many activities in city parks, as a person who has many times walked to do my grocery shopping, I am saddened to not feel as comfortable doing these activities. I know that not all homeless use drugs, but I can’t tell who is so I keep my distance with them all.”

“I approve of the improvements to Division and Powell, but [where] I live – I cannot walk to our closest convenience store without having to walk in the street because we don’t have sidewalks”

“Cars have no front license plate, run red lights, drive in bike lanes, don’t stop for pedestrians and speed like crazy. State transportation is focused on expanding highways in town with support of the city while state owned highways like Powell, etc. remain incredibly dangerous.”

“As a bicyclist, I am grateful for and thoroughly enjoy all of the bike lanes & paths, however the number of vehicles that do not have license plates/current tags or even valid trip permits, is terrifying, especially when the driving is often aggressive and erratic.”

“Insufficient crosswalks throughout the city.”

And my favorite comment by far:

“Portland needs to upgrade its public transit system and stop inducing traffic by widening roads. Widening roads also has the side effect of increasing pollution, increasing noise pollution, and making the city less walkable and bikeable. As long as public transit is slow as molasses, people will continue to choose to drive. Full stop. This is why we need modern high-speed public transit, not half-measures that waste tax dollars and do nothing to attract drivers onto public transit. Our MAX lines are based on ancient technology and it takes forever to travel across town. There are so many possibilities available to us. If we want to, we could create underground railways that connect key areas of Portland via modern trains that reach 150+ MPH. Why are we not doing this?”

Police enforcement policy doesn’t match community desires

When Portland passed its Vision Zero plan in 2015, one of the (sort of controversial) decisions was that it did not place a priority on police enforcement of traffic laws. An advisory committee recommended the policy due to fears of racial profiling and over-policing of neighborhoods where a larger amount of BIPOC and lower-income Portlanders live. That sentiment was embraced by PBOT during the 2020 protest era as they ended an enforcement partnership with the Portland Police Bureau and the agency chose to dissolve its Traffic Division five months later.

But now, given the dire state of our street culture and record deaths, this survey reveals that many Portlanders want more armed police involved in traffic enforcement.

Citywide, only 6.3% of respondents said they do not want police to enforce traffic laws around high-crash streets and intersections. 68.6% of all respondents to this question (“In addition to responding to 911 calls, how should armed police officers prioritize their response to the following situations? Traffic enforcement in high-crash streets and intersections (use photo/radar van and police missions to reduce speeding and red-light running, etc.”) said it should be a high priority (33.6%) or medium priority (35%). For context, the number of people who said police involvement in traffic enforcement should be a high priority was about half as high as the number of people who want police to respond to reports of crimes (60.7%).

Interestingly, the responses to the traffic enforcement priority question from Black and white people were very similar (see below). While white people said “Do not want police to do this” at a rate twice as high as Black people (6.7% and 3.3%, respectively), overall their responses were nearly identical.

Too many people don’t feel safe walking in their own neighborhood

In some ways, walking is the most form of travel where a person is most vulnerable. According to this survey, only one in five east Portland residents feel safe walking in their neighborhood at night. That is a very low number that we should all care about. And only two of the sextants had a number that was over 50% (southeast and southwest/south).

When it comes to whether people feel safe walking in their neighborhood during the day, we see another vast discrepancy between east and southeast — 55% versus 84%. Broken down by race/ethnicity, again we see that white (77.8%) and Black (70.7%) Portlanders had similar perceptions about safety. But for Asian respondents, that number was only 58.1%.

How people feel about walking in their neighborhood is one of the most important measures of how successful a city is. It encompasses so many factors around livability, transportation, and general safety. I’m eager to see how this number changes in future years.

Climate change crowded out by other crises

When asked, “What is the greatest challenge facing Portland?” just 3.4% of respondents chose “Preventing/Preparing for Climate Change.” Given the existential threat and very real consequences of the climate crisis, this seemed like an extremely low number. But when up against other very real, daily threats people feel from homelessness, the cost of living, and community safety (the top three answers), it is understandable.

This response is a good illustration of how Portland’s inability to tackle those Big Three problems (homelessness, affordability, and crime), means that we have very little personal or political capacity left over to deal with anything else.

One last little tidbit that caught my eye was that only about 10% of respondents said they think it’s easy to contact city government about important issues. That is abysmal. We can only hope that the massive change coming to our government structure in 2025 will change that.

The City of Portland plans to conduct this survey once every two years. And most of the questions will remain the same so we can see changes over time. City Council is discussing the report at their meeting today. See the full report here.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Thanks for reading.

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SE 34th
SE 34th
11 months ago

Thanks for this write-up, Jonathan. This was the best piece I’ve seen in the media about the results and includes a lot of important context.

idlebytes
idlebytes
11 months ago

And the report shares dozens of “representative quotes” from Portlanders, with a striking number of them saying bad things about bike-related infrastructure:

What’s the overlap with people that would bike more if it were safer and more affordable but don’t like bike infrastructure? I’m guessing it’s pretty high. People complain about the safety of getting around their neighborhood outside of a car but then don’t understand that means adding infrastructure like bikes, crosswalks and wider sidewalks at the cost of car infrastructure.

The value of these surveys is pretty limited because of this. What good does it do to know that someone both wants safer more affordable biking but doesn’t like bike lanes or greenways and thinks it’s a waste of money?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

What good does it do to know that someone both wants safer more affordable biking but doesn’t like bike lanes or greenways and thinks it’s a waste of money?

Since we don’t know how many people feel this way, it doesn’t do much good at all.

I personally put very little stock in what people say they imagine they would do under a theoretical set of circumstances; what they actually do is much more revealing.

Fred
Fred
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yep – and what they are mainly doing is driving cars.

Liz
Liz
11 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’d argue that much of the infrastructure being installed doesn’t meet safety needs for potential bikers. Green paint is nice but it doesn’t stop cars from hitting you. Wider bike lanes are cool but they’re not protected. Wayfinding signs are great but they don’t tell you when you’re suddenly going to be dumped into an unsafe intersection.

mc
mc
11 months ago
Reply to  Liz

American Fiester, https://www.youtube.com/@AmericanFietser , talks a lot about how America loves street paint & sign “infrastructure” whereas European countries build physically separated bike infrastructure.

I like this guy because he grew up in Illinois, lives in Carmel, IN, rides an e-cargo bike and doesn’t consider himself a cyclist, just as most Europeans who commute daily on bikes in normal casual clothes and/or business attire.

Liz
Liz
11 months ago
Reply to  mc

Exactly! They just put a sign up where Jeannie Diaz was killed by a car to tell cars to go slower but it remains to be seen if they’ll actually fix the infrastructure. It’s maddening because it’s not rocket science. The solutions are ready to be implemented.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Liz

Yellow lines don’t stop drivers from hitting one another head on either, and yet it seems to work (outside of the high-speed rural highway context).

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Could there be, I don’t know, a whole different level of consequences for hitting another car head-on that makes people avoid driving into oncoming traffic? Maybe, just maybe, it’s not about the yellow paint at all.

mc
mc
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“The number of motor vehicle deaths for May 2023 is estimated to be 3,920.” Reference – https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/preliminary-monthly-estimates/

You’re claiming that not 1 death, not too mention crash, out of almost 4,000 in just 1 month isn’t attributable to a motorist crossing a non-physical barrier such as paint, signage or traffic light.

Even if the bus stop Jean Diaz was built out of concrete she probably wouldn’t have survived. .

I’m willing to bet more that at least 1% of the 3,900 deaths involved a car crashing through, going over or around some piece of physical infrastructure.

One of the primary tenants of vision zero is the use of physical infrastructure to control both the speed and movement of motor vehicles.

*** Moderator: deleted last paragraph, disrespectful ***

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  mc

You’re claiming that not 1 death, not too mention crash, out of almost 4,000 in just 1 month isn’t attributable to a motorist crossing a non-physical barrier such as paint, signage or traffic light.

I’m claiming no such thing. I’m claiming that paint is a generally accepted solution to dividing up the roadway and preventing conflicts, and the idea that we’re ever going to have a road network where bike lanes are physically protected behind concrete barriers is pure fantasy.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Would you feel comfortable walking on a “sidewalk” made of painted lines on the roadway with no grade separation?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

I have walked on the shoulders of rural highways, and while I can’t say it is comfortable, I don’t know that a curb would have made much difference.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So then why do we bother building sidewalks?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

Probably because we’ve always built sidewalks this way.

Here is a 2000 year old example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidewalk

Let me be clear that I agree there would be a safety benefit to a physically separated bike lane, just as there would be to physically separated car lanes, or lanes that physically keep bike riders away from pedestrians in places like the Hawthorne Bridge or the Springwater.

What I am saying is that there is a tradeoff between risk and feasibility, and paint is a solution that works even in situations that are far more dangerous than riding in a bike lane.

If you had $1B to spend improving safety across the country, would you spend any of it on building separated bike lanes? I doubt I would.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Streets are no longer covered in horse manure or raw sewage like in ancient times. Why should we continue building sidewalks like we’ve always done when it would be just as effective (not to mention cheaper) to just use paint?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

Streets are often covered in rainwater, which curbs help manage. There is also a level of expectation about what constitutes a proper sidewalk, that even much safer designs (such as a row of bollards between pedestrian and traffic with no curb) wouldn’t meet.

It would also be a lot cheaper to use asphalt rather than concrete, but we do that as well in most places.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

So paint is a “solution that works” except when it doesn’t (because of rainwater). I wonder if paint-only bike lanes have any similar flaws.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

I wonder if paint-only bike lanes have any similar flaws.

Compared to what? I would much much rather ride in a buffered paint-only bike lane compared to a wide sidewalk type implementation physically protected by a curb where there are lots of intersections or driveways.

I want to ride where drivers expect to see me.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Most people don’t seem to share your faith in the attentiveness of drivers, given the number of “interested but concerned” riders who say they want more physical separation from cars. Increasing bike mode share means building bicycle facilities where more people feel comfortable riding.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

I share your general pessimism about the attentiveness of drivers. Riding where they expect to see (and are wary of) rapidly moving vehicles is much safer than riding where they don’t exactly because it does not rely on drivers to think to check for cyclists.

I do not want to increase mode share if it means that more people are going to get hurt because the infrastructure they use lulls them into a false sense of safety.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

By that logic, it’s safer to bicycle on Powell than the Springwater Corridor. Crash statistics (and common sense) do not bear this out. The “false sense of security” line is commonly trotted out by engineers as an excuse to not install crosswalks in high traffic areas based on a flawed study from the 1970s. The reality is that separated bike lanes make cycling (and driving) safer:

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/05/29/protect-yourself-separated-bike-lanes-means-safer-streets-study-says

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Once again, you could apply the same logic to sidewalks: walking in the street should be safer because pedestrians will be more aware of rapidly moving vehicles; sidewalks only lull people into a false sense of safety. It doesn’t take an expert to see that’s nonsense.

Saying it’s the responsibility of vulnerable road users to be “wary” of large vehicles is a bit like telling women to be “wary” of strange men while walking alone at night. They probably know that already. Blaming the victim does nothing to improve safety overall, and it’s frankly insulting.

Jon Gottshall
Jon Gottshall
11 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

This confuses me as well. As a bike commuter, I appreciate the bike routes across the city. BUT the city does a poor job of keeping these routes in good shape (not sure about the “fancy bike lanes” comment). Gravel put out in winter is not cleaned up and winds up in bike lanes, making cycling less aafe (see nw Everett btwn 23rd & 405 for evidence).
To me, the city’s effort has been half-hearted. Until riding is prioritized in word & deed, people will not feel safe riding and bike lanes, fancy or otherwise, will remain sparsely used.

maxD
maxD
11 months ago

I agree that PPB could help make our transportation network safer, but PBOT is working against pedestrian and bike safety. In the past few years, PBOT has removed pedestrian infrastructure instead of expanding/improving it. Examples: SE 12/Madison and SW Morrison/Naito: closed crosswalks; NE 7th/Tillamook: replaced curb extension with bike lane. When it comes to the bike network versus the car network, one network is design, built and maintained to be complete, efficient, direct, convenient, and always available. The other is disjointed, unsafe, poorly signed, frequently closed/disrupted, and very poorly designed. I think you can guess which one is the car network. I rode Naito as part of this morning’s commute. Besides the random piles of sand and puddles in the bike lane because it was not graded properly, There was a PBOT truck just hanging out in the bike lanes- flashers on, not doing any work, just parked and on the phone. There were flaggers, no detours. This is totally common. IN the winter, when I ride Naito daily, I encounter a vehicle in the lanes about half of my trips. Most are City vehicles, some are Ubers, and very few are random civilians. The City’s expectation is that these lanes are just extra space for contractor’s to use without any sort of detour or accommodation. That is not respectful or safe behavior. PBOT and PP&R need to set high expectations for their staff and contractors and keep our bike lanes safe and open. And PBOT needs a complete overhaul in their planning and design/engineering group.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  maxD

On my commute to work today, I encountered three separate construction projects that blocked 3 designated bikeways (without detour). This kind of disregard for transportation cycling is the norm in this SUV-loving city. And this disregard for transportation cycling won’t be solved by posting #bikelove hashtags or picking up garbage (in some naive attempt to get drivers to like us).

Fred
Fred
11 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Comment of the week (so far).

I’ve asked PBOT several times why construction zones that affect ONLY bike lanes get no detour or any sort of accommodation. The response is always crickets.

PBOT just doesn’t care if they mess up your commute by bike (neither does ODOT), which is completely opposite to how they handle motor-vehicle construction zones (flaggers, signs, posted detour routes, and sometimes even fliers in the mailbox).

Until PBOT and ODOT show – by their actions, not their words – that they value bike infrastructure as much as they value motor-vehicle infrastructure, people will continue to drive cars. It’s really simple.

SD
SD
11 months ago
Reply to  maxD

I had to deal with 3 blocked bike lanes today that forced me into traffic. Just another average day in Portland.

A couple of days ago it was the PDX Rapid Response Bioclean truck blocking Naito, parked just next to an empty parking lot.

Looking back over my shoulder – judging the speed or awareness of cars behind me while also trying to see around the car blocking the bike lane and checking to see if the driver is in the car/ truck so I know if I have to worry about being doored-

completely unsafe and intolerable.

PPB and PBOT look the other way.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  SD

PPB and PBOT look the other way.

They don’t look the other way, they simply don’t care. This institutional disdain for active transportation will not be addressed by letter writing or gnashing of teeth on social media/blogs but rather by exercise of political power (which requires a commitment to anti-establishment political organizing, crickets)

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I mostly agree with you here; unfortunately, the anti-establishment has completely ceded public safety issues to the establishment, thus gifting them a huge advantage for as long as those issues remain forefront in Portlander’s minds.

X
X
11 months ago

Next year I’ll be able to ride transit all day for $2.70, making it almost as cheap as operating a very serviceable bike. New bikes don’t need much maintenance, and old bikes don’t cost much to buy.

Full fare on transit, $1200 annually, is approximately equal to really cheap car insurance alone. That amount of money will finance a fleet of bikes, a good folding bike, or a pretty good e-bike bought new.

Bikes are so much cheaper than cars. Safety? I have serious concerns about bike riding hazards but even if it becomes twice as dangerous I’ll still do it as long as I’m able.
Knowledge of what streets to ride, and when, is hard won but once a person puts in the time they can pretty much operate at their individual risk tolerance.

Bikes are cheap. Bikes are safe. Bikes have a serious PR problem. I’m annoyed that I have to pursue a normal civil activity in the manner of a prey species but so it goes.

It does make a difference what part of town you live in. There are places where I would depend on transit to skip over some really sticky territory. That doubles the cost and could add time. It’s a tax on human powered transportation.

Fred
Fred
11 months ago
Reply to  X

Congrats on living long enough to qualify for the senior transit discount.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
11 months ago
Reply to  X

After about 15 years of my road bike gathering dust, shortly before COVID I got it out, cleaned up, oiled, etc. and thought I’d just take it around a few blocks near my house just to get the feel back.
Not 3 blocks later some a-holes pulled up beside me in their vehicle and harassed me. I haven’t ridden since.

With a-holes like that, and just a general sense that the roads aren’t safe just based on my perspective from being a pedestrian, I’ll likely never ride again.

If someday (not holding my breath) streets have separate areas with physical barriers between me on my bike and the cars I might consider riding again.

I know I’m not the average person, I’m just giving my perspective of my own personal experience.

Liz
Liz
11 months ago
Reply to  ShadowsFolly

I’m sorry to hear that. And it’s more common than you think. I know half a dozen people who attempted to start biking only to have harassment or poor infrastructure or an accident on their first rail out them off biking. We need better safe streets before we can expect you to get back on your bike.

Nick
Nick
11 months ago

“PBOT needs to stop converting streets to bicycle only avenues.”

I wish there were some “bicycle only avenues”, I wonder what that person thought was happening/which streets they thought were only for bikes.

Matt
Matt
11 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Yes, I thought that was a curious, and telling, comment as well. This person believes that multiple streets have undergone this momentous conversion. If they can direct me to any such “bicycle only avenue” I’d be most appreciative.

But I imagine that they are simply demonstrating an auto-centric bias that views any meager project to enhance bike safety on a street they use as a direct threat to auto supremacy, thereby leading to a wild exaggeration.

Liz
Liz
11 months ago

Loved this write up! And what does safe mean? For many of us, it means real protected bike lanes that run far enough for us to go somewhere! Aka not a protected bike lane for a few blocks, or an unprotected bike lane that dumps us at an unsafe intersection. I think it’s important to really hone in on what safe means because everyone has different levels of risk. But it’s clear that if we want people who are not currently biking to feel ready to bike, we need far more protected infrastructure in this city.

axoplasm
11 months ago
Reply to  Liz

It’s revealing that almost everyone here in the comments section interprets “safe” in the context of this survey to mean “safe from cars” (ie traffic violence) when I think most people taking the survey interpreted it as “safe from other people” (ie. direct interpersonal violence). That’s my read on why the “safe walking in Central city at night” numbers are so low

Andrew N
Andrew N
11 months ago

Sorry for being cynical but this is exactly what the city gov’t does as part of their endless kick-the-can routine. It’s also further proof that our species is very bad at dealing with threats in the abstract; never mind the freight train bearing down on all of us, let’s demand that these sorry, ossified institutions “fix” very deep-seated issues that they themselves had a hand in creating, beholden to the capitalist system and its bone-deep corruption as they are. On the other hand, maybe this shocking, previously-unknown data will finally create the political will for now-broke PBOT and their bicycle-coordinator-for-life to step it up and the League of American Bicyclists will grant us Platinum status… oh wait…

mc
mc
11 months ago

In some ways, walking is the most form of travel where a person is most vulnerable. According to this survey, only one in five east Portland residents feel safe walking in their neighborhood at night.’

I wonder how much of this was due to a no PPB traffic division during the pandemic. I lived out in E. PDX for about 6 mths during the beginning of the pandemic, there was rampant lawlessness on the streets around the clock.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago

I’d bet that the number of people who say they would ride a bike more often would have answered differently if the survey were conducted in the winter.

Sorry, but I think people answered they would ride bikes more often because they know it would be good for the environment, for their finances, and for their bodies. I don’t think many of them would follow through.

Anon
Anon
11 months ago

I’ve been watching this play out for the past 25 years in Portland. While there have been some improvements, overall it’s about the same as it ever was. The network is still ad hoc and disconnected, mode share is flat, etc. One more survey, article, or whatever isn’t going to move us forward because the system as a whole operates in bad faith. In a similar manner, one more study isn’t going to move society on climate change. These discussions are happening largely at the wrong level because the system underneath is fundamentally broken.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  Anon

Bicycle mode share is not flat, it cratered in 2020 with the rise of remote work.

I have very little faith that that will change any time soon.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

Mode share tanked well before COVID and the rise of remote work.

ND
ND
11 months ago

As someone else who was financially squeezed out of California and relocated to Oregon, I was horrified by the bike lanes everywhere, and even more horrified to learn they’re mandatory to use if cycling. They aren’t safe, they collect debris bikes need to avoid, and they simply don’t provide an ROI. Are these projects spontaneously approved with no study beforehand?

SD
SD
11 months ago

Portland politicians and PBOT have been well-aware of the broad support for biking and walking in Portland. Their miscalculation has been that this broad support would make everything happen in spite of them and that their inaction could not possibly dampen or kill enthusiasm for biking. Good intentioned bureaucrats universally desire to be forced to do the right thing. They know what is needed, but they want someone else to shoulder the risk and the opposition.

One by one they have asked advocates and people who ride bikes to loudly and vocally support them but not criticize them. Often, they have hung them out to dry.

When the few but loud haters show up, they cower and compromise and allow the traffic violence to continue.

qqq
qqq
11 months ago

I’m wondering how many people would walk or bike more if only the City would do more surveys.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  qqq

We’re going to need to form a Survey Committee to find out. Here, I’ll outsource the work to my friend’s consulting company…

David Hampsten
11 months ago

These responses were similar across all sections of the city, except for east Portland. That is the only sextant where people ranked “drive” as the top mode they’d like to do more of if they felt like it was safer and cheaper. In east Portland, 55.2% of respondents picked “drive,” followed by transit at 49.3% and bike at just 30.6%. Also notable is that the percentage of respondents who said they’d bike more was nearly twice as high in southeast (58.3%) as in east (30.6%).

I know of a lot of cities that would kill to get over 30% who would be willing to bike more even in their affluent all-white districts, let alone city-wide, given any circumstances. What a spoiled whiny city Portland is to complain that their poorest most ethnically-diverse car-oriented district “only” has a 30% desire for better bicycling facilities, when most cities that rate is no more than 10%. Get some perspective Portland – you need to get out more, go visit other “normal” communities and re-discover what a hell-hole the rest of the country is for bicycling.

mc
mc
11 months ago

The problem w. this survey, is that “safer” is quite relative and easily exemplified by the homeless situation on the MUPs and around town.

Everyone has a different threshold, tolerance, needs & bicycling experience levels.

I still think one of the biggest problems for both drivers & cyclists is the very inconsistent patchwork infrastructure all over the city.

I think there are many fairly safe routes around town, but you really have to ride them and determine if they’re safe enough for you.

It seems like every time I ride with a friend we have different opinions on what’s less busy, safer, more enjoyable and/or just a preference b’cuz it’s a route we know well.

Also, what people deem a safe route during the sunny & dry months, the might not during the dark & rainy months.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  mc

inconsistent patchwork infrastructure all over the city

PBOT loves to introduce new “experimental” designs and then immediately abandon them. A few blocks of separated lane near PSU, a shared facility for OHSU, a cycletrack to nowhere in Cully.

Remember “Crossbikes”? LOL

axoplasm
11 months ago

An interesting note here is how much more law-and-order and cars-first the East Portland responses were than elsewhere in the city. Our new city charter gives more representation to East Portland — and the people of Portland in general, as opposed to its interests. I support the charter reform 100%; I think on balance it will thin the influence of money (esp. “old money”) in Portland politics and also make city government more responsive (as Jonathan hopes too). That doesn’t mean our policies will necessarily get more progressive.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  axoplasm

That doesn’t mean our policies will necessarily get more progressive.

It seems to me that the explicit assumption of prominent charter commission members was that the esoteric voting system they chose would ensure more diverse “progressive” representation. If this does not happen, it would be amusing.

PS: I am not registered to vote and have no intention of doing so so my comment is only as a spectator.

PTB
PTB
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

All this shit you talk about Portland the way it’s run and you don’t vote?! Perfect!

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  PTB

I’m glad that my decision to not vote makes you happy, PTB.

FWIW, I was a voter for many decades and I’m obviously not the only US resident who has completely lost faith in this electoral system.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

The point was to seat left-fringe candidates who came in 2nd or 3rd in previous city council elections.

https://www.portlandmercury.com/charter-reform/2023/02/20/46359826/candidate-school-eyes-progressive-takeover-of-portland-city-council

It would be rather funny if this backfired.

Marika Start
Marika Start
11 months ago

We can only hope that the massive change coming to our government structure in 2025 will change that

NEW FLASH:
It’s going to get much worse with the new charter:

1) A mayor without a vote or a veto
2) A voting scheme that no one understands (Multimemember Ranked choice voting with single transferable votes)
3) Too many cooks in the kitchen (more overpaid council members than needed)

Only positive is to get the bureaus away from day to day control by the city council members who have no ideas how to run one. That won’t be enough to make Portland safe and livable once again though. Buckle your seatbelts. It’s going to be rough unpleasant ride.

blumdrew
11 months ago
Reply to  Marika Start

The voting scheme is not that hard to understand.

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Not really sure about that one either.
Portland will have 12 total councilors.
Minneapolis has 13
Milwaukee has 15
Columbus has 7
Chicago has 50
Kansas City has 13
LA has 15
San Francisco has 11
NYC has 51
Philadelphia has 17
Indianapolis has 25
New Orleans has 7
Austin has 11
Albuquerque has 9
Denver has 13
Seattle has 9

I’d say 12 is much closer to a typical large American city than our current 5. I can’t find a single city of note that has such a small city council. Even in Oregon its strange. Eugene has 8 + mayor, Salem has 8 + mayor, Hillsboro, Gresham and Beaverton have 6 + mayor, Pendleton has 8 + mayor, Baker City has 6 + mayor. I can’t even find small towns in Oregon that have a city council as small as Portland does now, and most of them also have geographic districts. Portland has an absolutely ancient, anachronistic government structure that makes absolutely no sense.

And the only positive you have listed is a huge, massively important benefit. Currently, we have politicians running bureaus with their own personal political careers in mind and who are usually not very good at running said bureaus. It’s hard to imagine a worse way to run a city than that, so basically any change is going to be good news.

Karl Dickman
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Bend has 7 representing a much smaller city.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

we have politicians running bureaus

When you think of a commissioner “running” a bureau, what are you imagining they do beyond appointing a director, understanding what the bureau needs, and giving general guidance at a policy level? Do you think that a single commissioner has time to dip their hand into the inner mechanics of the numerous bureaus they oversee?

Most folks (not necessarily you) seem to think Mapps is helping plan street sweeper routes and approving intersection designs and such. I guarantee you he is not.

An unelected city manager, overseeing 5x as many bureaus as Mapps, will be able to do even less, giving the bureaus far more freedom to set their own agendas, and making them less responsive to elected officials, and therefore to voters.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s amazing to me that people are so ignorant of the existing power structures in PDX government. Bureau leadership (and the mayor, who constantly threatens to re-assign burraus if commissioners do not do what he wants) have far more power than individual commissioners under the current system. But I’m sure making it very difficult to replace bureau leadership or their unelected city manager will fix all the problems

David Kafrissen
David Kafrissen
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Well Gonzalez certainly came in with a destructive vengeance riding rough shod over the Fire and Police department. And while I am sure the Police enjoy a nice firm hand on their neck I don’t know if the rest of us do.

We are run by a small group of very rich people which is about to change (I hope) and they are worried

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

riding rough shod over the Fire and Police department.

Why do you say “riding rough shod”? Everything I’ve read suggests he just freed the fire leadership to do what they wanted to do. As for the police, I’m not sure what influence he has had there.

And yes, sure, everything is about to change. We’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.

surly ogre
surly ogre
10 months ago
Reply to  Watts

^This^.. City managers do almost nothing to make a city better unless they have a 3-year contract that renews every year and is paid in full if the council fires the manager. the city manager should be the adult in the room to do the heavy lifts, but only with a contract and reasonable independence from City Council like NYC when Bloomberg was mayor and he appointed JSK because NYC is a strong mayor govt and has no city manager. The Mayor of NYC is the chief executive officer of the city and a magistrate, appoints and removes all unelected officers and exercises all the powers vested in the city except otherwise provided by law, and is responsible for the effectiveness and integrity of city government operations. The mayor is directly elected by popular vote for a four-year term. The mayor is also responsible for creating the city’s budget through the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, submitted for approval, not drafting, to the Council.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

It’s sad that you view an unelected technocrat running the city as an improvement. Are you happy with bureau leadership now? If so, then you will be even more pleased as this conservative leadership is further entrenched into their well-off mostly-homeowner power.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

They are directly appointed by an elected official and can be fired at will. This is a very common structure for cities in the US. In what way does this entrench conservative power?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Max S (Wren)

It entrenches power, though not of any particular political valence. By insulating the bureaus from elected officials, bureaus will have more freedom to pursue their own agendas with much less political oversight than they have today.

Information will also be more limited: currently, at least one commissioner has a pretty good idea of how things are running at a bureau; future council members will have much less access to staff and managers, and will generally be less informed.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Max S (Wren)

conservative as in resistant to change.

Max S (Wren)
Max S (Wren)
11 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Incidentally, the median population/councilor of the cities you mentioned is 54,866. Under charter reform, Portland’s pop/rep would be 52,922, so comfortably in the middle.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Marika Start

“More overpaid council members…”

I guess we could just not pay politicians. That way only the independently wealthy could ever run for public office. I’m sure the citizens would feel much more represented that way.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago

I guess we could just not pay politicians.

Isn’t that essentially what we do in the legislature?

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago

“Costly, fancy bike lanes…”

Wait till they find out how much highways cost.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago

People actually use highways, though.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

When people don’t have an alternative, of course they will. A century of car-centric planning, underfunding mass transit, and subsidizing suburban property ownership, not to mention auto industry propaganda, have made it that way.

Arturo P
Arturo P
11 months ago

The best way to rapidly increase bikeshare in Portland is simple:

Offer shelter to homeless individuals and STRICTLY ENFORCE our no camping laws (tents and RV’s).

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

That’s what Wheeler is doing.

Dwk
Dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Since when? He made a big announcement but I am seeing very little change.
He and Mapps are very good at saying stuff….

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

That’s his whole strategy — open up a number of large sanctioned camping sites and get all the unsanctioned campers off the street.

Look at the camping-related time, place, and manner ordinances that just went into effect. Those clearly form the basis of a plan to make street camping less appealing.

Whether it succeeds is a different question, but his strategy and approach seem pretty clear to me, and it’s pretty much what you said.

Arturo P
Arturo P
11 months ago

We have a current epidemic of traffic deaths. Yet it seems the majority of the bike portland peanut gallery can only talk about infrastructure. Sure I want improvements in bike and pedestrian infrastructure but we all know that is decades away even in a best case scenario. To address the traffic death records being set we need an expedited return to standard levels of police traffic enforcement coupled with non police traffic enforcement (cameras). Until people realize there are consequences for their misbehavior there will be no change. It’s human nature which the Portland far left ideologically driven progressives here don’t seem to understand.

Serenity
Serenity
11 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

It’s human nature which the Portland far left ideologically driven progressives here don’t seem to understand.

I don’t know who these Portland far left ideologically driven progressives
you’re referring to are, but I think most people probably do understand that things won’t unless there are consequences for misbehavior.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  Arturo P

The publisher of this blog is still pushing the bogus “cops won’t do their job” narrative like it’s 2020…

Serenity
Serenity
11 months ago

Thank you, Jonathan.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago

when up against other very real, daily threats people feel from homelessness

Great example of passive aggressive language.

We don’t “feel” threatened by homelessness.

We are actually threatened by the homeless.

This is a good opportunity to remind you that homelessness is not an identity, nor is it an immutable property of any human being. Homelessness is a circumstance and a symptom of larger problems in an individual’s life.

Focusing on this sole property is a big part of why we can’t seem to solve the issue at hand, and also a good example of how people are manipulated into supporting bad-faith programs that make the issue worse.

socially engineered
socially engineered
11 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

“Homelessness is…a symptom of larger problems in an individual’s life…”

How do you know? Have you spoken to each and every homeless person individually? Because I’m pretty sure that’s not what the research says.

Scallywag
Scallywag
11 months ago

Chiming in on the “make transit safe” aspect, make it clean too. I have a Hop card from my employer, but the transit system is so encrusted with detritus, I use Tri-Met as a last resort. I’d rather pay the relatively expensive cost of renting a Biketown bike than ride Tri-Met for free.

Pay some people to clean the trains and buses. It’s gross.

Teresa Young
Teresa Young
11 months ago

I live in Jackson County Oregon and it’s definitely not safe riding down here people sometimes automatically assume political stuff and half run people off the road, honking, yelling and throwing stuff, and almost always a giant flag attached to their vehicle

Nathan K
Nathan K
11 months ago

So what context is this by the half biking crowd!? I’m a frequent cyclist and bike commuter but i won’t head to work on two wheels in January! Are these half that will simply visit the bar a mile away or those half dedicated to visiting their friends in Raleigh Hills or elder mother in Tigard by bike regularly?