City Council backs $21 million for better walking and biking, citing boost to economy

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Commissioner Steve Novick at Green Lane Project event

Commissioner Steve Novick speaking at a
Green Lane Project event earlier this week.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The ways people talk about active transportation seems to be changing in Portland, both inside and outside of government.

At a unanimous City Council vote Wednesday in favor of $20.7 million in federally backed walking and biking improvements throughout the city, including $9.1 million to enact parts of the East Portland in Motion plan and $6.6 million for what promises to be a historic upgrade of central Portland bike facilities, people on both sides of the council dais were repeating an idea that isn’t always common: Improving biking improves the city for people who don’t.

Leading the shift: new Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, who echoed and rephrased some of the observations we shared from his speech two nights before.

“It should be obvious to everybody that the freight improvements are connected to economic development,” Novick said Wednesday, referring to $4.1 million dedicated to efficient truck movement. “But the things that make it easier to walk and bike are economic investments. … There’s a couple of ways to improve your family’s economic position. One is to make more money, and one is to reduce your expenses. Active transportation investments help people reduce their expenses.”

Read more

Open house next week shows off five grants that promise street fixes

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
cool bike rack in downtown Portland oregon

Downtown is one of several neighborhoods that
could benefit from these grants.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A fleet of major projects to improve bike and foot travel in downtown Portland, East Portland, SE Foster Road, SW Barbur Boulevard and Southwest Portland’s neighborhoods will be competing for dollars and attention with freight projects each other at an open house next week.

The five projects are among many jostling for $95 million from Metro’s regional flexible fund allocation, one of the few channels of federal support for bike and walking transportation.

“Your feedback can help decide which projects get recommended to receive funding,” Metro says on its website. The open house is 6-8 pm on Aug. 15, one week from tonight, in the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Ave (PDF).

Read more

Metro votes against maintaining 75/25 funding split for Active Transportation

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“… In a deep recession, people who are struggling — in addition to buses and bike paths — also need access to a job.”
— Ann Lininger, Clackamas County Commissioner

A 17-member Metro committee made up of mayors, commissioners, and transportation agency leaders around the region voted this morning to do away with a 75/25 federal funding allocation split that was hailed by active transportation advocates when it was established in 2010. At their meeting, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) voted instead to adopt a new policy direction that will have projects of all types — including massive highway expansion projects — competing against each other.

At issue is how best to dole out an additional $38 million ($37.78 to be exact) that is unspoken for out of a $147 million pot of federal grant funds administered through the federal Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) for the years 2016-18. (Note: Of this $147 million, JPACT has already decided to allocate: $48 million to transit bond payments, $26 million to Metro planning and regional programs, $26 million to “Active Transportation and Complete Streets” projects and $8.7 million to “Green Economy and Freight” projects).

Read more

BTA fights as Metro funding battle brews once again

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“It is unacceptable to the BTA to consider overturning our current policy… The Port [of Portland]… wants this money for highway/road projects. Now is the time to say no.”
— Gerik Kransky, BTA

A funding fight is brewing at Metro over how the regional planning agency should allocate nearly $38 million in federal funds. Unlike the vast majority of transportation funds fought over by various regional interest groups, these funds are “flexible,” meaning they can be spent on nearly any type of project. With scarce dollars in play these days, the competition to snag them is intense.

The $37.78 on the table at Metro is a portion of $147 million in “regional flexible funds” they will dole out through the federal government’s Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (MTIP) for the years of 2016 – 2018.

Read more

Equity concerns take center stage as bike share funding moves forward

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

JPACT came together this morning to green light $16.8 million in federal grants for active transportation projects.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A Metro committee unanimously approved a $70.7 million package of federal “regional flexible funding” at a meeting of their Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) this morning. 14 projects (totaling $22.9 million) — including $2.0 million for the Portland Bike Sharing Project — were included in the passed resolution.

But prior to the vote, there was a heated exchange between Mayor Sam Adams and Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury. It came after two citizens gave testimony to the committee about concerns that equity considerations and public input around the bike sharing project has been inadequate. Kafoury supported the concerns and tried to delay a vote on the project, while Adams spoke up in its defense.

Read more

Your comments can help shape bike share, other regional projects

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Cross-section of proposed project
that would link the Springwater
to the Trolley Trail in Milwaukie.

While much of the media attention for the current round of Metro’s regional flexible funding allocation revolved around the Portland bike sharing project, there are a host of other (extremely important) projects and programs that have been selected.

Metro is accepting public comments on all the projects until 5:00 pm on October 13th. Metro wants to know, not simply whether or not you support a project, but how you’d like to see it implemented.

Read more

Metro task force agrees to take “light rail model” in active transportation funding decisions

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
max and bike (old shot from archives)

A Metro task force wants to emulate
success of light rail corridors in making
decisions about active transportation funding.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A Metro task force put together to decide how the agency’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) should spend $23 million in federal “flexible” funds, has agreed that the money set aside for active transportation projects — about three-fourths of it — should focus on just a few corridors at a time. The approach, similar to how TriMet has built out their light rail system, would be distinctly different than how our region has typically funded biking and walking projects.

Read more

Metro’s JPACT votes for 75/25 split in favor of active transportation

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
JPACT meeting-1

JPACT Chair Carlotta Collette at this
morning’s meeting.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) met this morning to set policy parameters on how to allocate $20-24 million in federal Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Plan dollars (MTIP) — also known as Regional Flexible Funds. After some tense discussion, the committee split 7-6 in favor of a motion to target 75% of the funds for active transportation projects and 25% for freight projects (after that contentious amendment passed, the committee unanimously passed the full resolution).

Read more

JPACT decision could decrease funding for active transportation

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
metro hearing on the CRC-10.jpg

Tomorrow’s meeting will likely be
packed as the fate of $24
million hangs in the balance.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Active transportation advocates will be listening closely to Metro’s 17-member Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) when they meet tomorrow morning. Based on proposals currently on the table, JPACT’s vote on how to set parameters for doling out $20-24 million in federal funds is likely to result in less funding for biking, walking and trail projects.

Read more

Freight, active transportation advocates look to flex Metro funds in their favor

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
A (small) part of traffic-1

Freight or bikes? A Metro committee
is being pulled both ways.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Next week, Metro’s 17-member Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) will vote on a policy direction that will guide them in handing out $20-24 million in federal transportation funds. With scarce transportation dollars at stake these days, freight and active transportation advocates are dueling to get their projects a larger piece of the pie.

This funding pot, known as “Regional Flexible Funds” have been extremely important for non-motorized transportation projects in recent years. Last year, Metro allocated a record amount of this money — around $10 million — to biking and walking projects while freight projects didn’t receive a dime. According to Gerik Kransky of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, in the last two funding cycles, active transportation and complete streets projects have received an average of $19.9 million from this process.

Read more