I’ll excuse you for not knowing that it’s almost the 10th anniversary of the City of Portland’s Bicycle Plan for 2030. For a plan adopted amid seemingly boundless optimism that a new era in transportation was imminent, its contents and visions and goals have tumbled from their pedestal like a highly-rated rookie prospect that never panned out.
We learned back in September that the Bureau of Transportation has completed just 59 of the 223 action items listed in the plan. Two weeks after PBOT’s five-year progress report (which came five years late) we learned that the rate of bike commuting in Portland has dropped to a 12-year low of 5.3%.
Halfway in, the Bike Plan’s goal of 25% of trips being made by bicycle by 2030 seems unattainable. Unless.
The five-year progress report for the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 is five years overdue. That seems like a fitting allegory for the general lack of urgency and institutional respect for cycling in Portland city government right now.
At last night’s meeting of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee, city bicycle coordinator Roger Geller unveiled a draft of that five-year status update. The report details steady progress, but it also reveals our incremental steps forward aren’t nearly enough to reach our goals.
Of all the wonderful ideas in Portland’s Bicycle Plan for 2030, the one I personally hope is never forgotten is its audacious use of a numeral: 25 percent.
That’s the target it set for the share of trips that could happen by bicycle in Portland. Today, the figure is something like 7 percent. Only several dozen cities in eastern Asia and northern Europe, probably, can currently boast 25 percent or more.
But 25 percent is possible and even imaginable, as BikePortland reader Alex Reedin spelled out in a Thursday morning comment estimating the payoff for each step that’ll be required to get us there.
(Click to enlarge, or click here to play the spreadsheet-based game.)
The City of Portland’s official goal for 16 years from today is for one in four commutes to happen by bicycle, up from 6 percent today.
As many people have observed, that’s a tall order. But an ingenious new web game from two local planning pros lets you put your own hand to it.
More than just about anything else on BikePortland, we write about street projects — and, if our records are any indication, you like to read about them more than just about anything else, too.
But what do they cost, really? Sometimes it’s hard to visualize.
So we gave it a shot:
On Friday afternoon, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced that Alta Bicycle Share had won the contract to operate the Portland Bike Share system. Given Alta’s Portland headquarters, their success in nabbing major bike share projects around the country, and Birk’s own close connections with the City of Portland (she used to run the City’s bike program and her other company Alta Planning + Design is a frequent contractor), the decision wasn’t a huge surprise.
But while Birk’s company had a huge head start in the race for this contract, PBOT must have also been aware of the flood of headlines about software problems and delays that have dogged Alta Bicycle Share for the past few months.
To learn more from Alta’s perspective, and to get an update on the issues underlying that publicity, I asked Birk a few questions via email…
[This article is written by Chris Smith. Smith is a former City Council candidate and current City of Portland Planning Commissioner with a long list of transportation activism palmarès.]
“Many of the economic interests at the table are simply unwilling to agree (or sincerely unable to believe) that we can grow the Central City economy without growing the vehicle miles traveled (VMT).”
A little over a year ago Portland City Council adopted the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 with much fanfare. And since that time we’ve had both highs and lows. On the positive side, we’ve seen some very solid expansions in the Neighborhood Greenway network and development of a cycletrack in the Cully neighborhood.
On the less happy side, as Jonathan has editorialized, we’re finding strong resistance to proposed bike facilities that increase safety or capacity at the expense of taking a bit of pavement away from motor vehicles.
Wasn’t the master plan supposed to (excuse the pun) pave the way for this? Let’s go back to the plan and check. Here’s a critical item from the implementation strategy (p. 116 if you have your copy handy):
(Illustration: Mark Markovich)
At this point, I think it’s time to take the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 off the shelf and give it a re-read.
After a presentation by the project team at the open house today, Craig Harlow, speaking as a member of the Lloyd TMA Bike Committee (he’s also a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee), shared some closing remarks. Here’s what he said:
– Download PDFs below –
It’s been over a year since the City of Portland unanimously adopted its Bike Plan for 2030. The plan was impressive for its depth and scope; calling for a city where, by 2030, bicycling is more attractive the driving for short trips and where 25% of all trips are made by bike.
So, just how well has PBOT done in implementing the plan so far?
Tomorrow at City Council, (outgoing) PBOT Director Sue Keil and Mayor (and Transportation Commissioner) Sam Adams will ask Council to accept their One Year Progress Report. The report — developed by PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller and Planner Todd Borkowitz — details PBOT’s progress in six key areas (as identified in the Plan):