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Think Out Loud

Considering The Future of Bicycling

Pete Springer/OPB

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Two recent reports on bicycling and bicycle infrastructure in Portland sketch out a potential future for the city’s transportation network. The reports, one by the City Club of Portland, the other by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, aren’t tomes destined for recycling bins at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The BTA’s 2005 blueprint has been followed closely by the city, with three quarters of its 40 recommended projects either completed or in progress.

The new BTA blueprint only contains 16 specific projects this time, but those represent guiding principles for development rather than specific problems on particular streets. It’s a trim vision for not just Portland and the Metro area but even a far-in-the-future bike path from Mt. Hood to the coast. The City Club’s report combines hard data, anecdotal evidence and the views of the city’s bike experts. It has a lot to say about how the city should improve bicycle infrastructure and encourage bike commuting. It also suggests a bike tax to put more of the financial burden for new projects on bikers.

Both reports contend that bike projects don’t harm the funding for other transportation needs around the city. From the City Club report:

Stakeholders vary widely in their priorities and vision for the future of transportation in Portland and balancing these interests is a major challenge facing the city. Although commonly portrayed as such, however, transportation is not a zero-sum game.”

Nevertheless, there are plenty of neighborhood residents who would rather have sidewalks or new pavement than a bike greenway. East Portland state representative Shemia Fagan summed up the attitude of many of her constituents’ feelings in a Willamette Week interview:

Folks in East Portland are not huge on the bicycle lane. They’re more often used because we don’t have sidewalks-someone in a motorized wheelchair needs to be on a smooth surface. So they’ll often drive in the bike lanes.”


Has a new bicycle project come to your neighborhood? How has it changed the way you travel? What kind of transportation improvements would you like to see?

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