Our next war: Bikes vs. Bioswales!
  • City of Portland
  • Our next war: Bikes vs. Bioswales!
When Mayor Sam Adams made his surprise announcement of $20 million in "kickstart" funds for the 2030 Bike Plan last month, critics were skeptical. The money was supposed to come from the contract savings in the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) budget, but the director of BES said, "He's the mayor, he can propose whatever he wants. But it's not like there's a bag of cash sitting around that those savings go into."

Well they found the cash! Yesterday the mayor's office drafted the ordinance directing BES to shift 20 million more dollars over the next three years into its Green Streets program, which will prioritize building bioswales, curb extensions and other waste-water collecting projects on streets slated to be bike boulevards. Starting 2014, the plan will allocate $2 million to bike projects annually, if City Council approves the ordinance next week.

"It’s a cost effective investment," says the Mayor's Transportation Director Catherine Ciarlo. "It’s more than cost-effective, it's smart. You’re treating storm water and in the process it will make streets calmer and more livable."

So what's getting cut from the BES budget to make room for bikes? Here's the list (pdf) of projects which will be delayed to shift that $20 million to bikeable green streets. Three million will come from the watershed investment fund, which preserves health of city watersheds, but the big chunk ($12 million) will come from delaying sewer projects that would have fixed old leaky pipes flooding basements city-wide.

Building bioswales for bikes instead of fixing leaky pipes? I think it's a smart move. But hey, you know my opinion when it comes to bikes.