- Dirk VanderHart
- The protected bike lane on SW Moody.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation says it's not asleep at the handlebars.
Its response to the online petition (which has 550 signatures as of this writing)? A document of its own [pdf], detailing dozens of bike facilities created or improved since 2013, the last time the League dropped by to deliver a verdict, and 10 more that are on the way.
"Absolutely we're platinum and deserving of the rating," says PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera. "Even saying that, we think there’s more to be done and we’re committed to doing more."
PBOT's clearly taken the petition seriously—its retort runs seven pages. And it's a good reminder that there are improvements happening on the city's bikeways, even if they're not always trumpeted.
It's also true that many of those improvements aren't the sort of projects bike advocates have in mind when they talk about bold steps to increase cycling in Portland. As has been noted again and again, the city's once-amazing success at attracting new cyclists has been stalled for years. There's a notion that it'll take transformative new projects—protected bikeways in the vein of Amsterdam,for instance, as opposed to new sharrows on quiet neighborhood streets—to attract the next wave of bike riders.
PBOT's list of recent accomplishments is heavy on the latter, but it's also got meatier projects. The four-mile "50s bikeway" involved the removal of 200 on-street parking spaces, always a point of contention with such efforts. PBOT's installed "buffered bike lanes" on several stretches of road, which at least allow more space between cyclists and cars. And the bureau built a protected bike lane—often seen as the best option for bikes—on SW Multnomah...for less than half a mile.
PBOT also trumpets the 2-mile North Williams Traffic Safety Project, which probably won't help convince the petition's authors. Petitioner Will Vanlue holds the project up as an example of what the city has done poorly.
Everyone knows that PBOT's clamoring for more money, but the agency says there are decent funded projects on the horizon. The big three:
•A $6 million, federally funded project expected to create new protected bike lanes in downtown Portland.
•A reshaping of a 2-mile section of SE Foster that involves removing parking to create buffered bike lanes. "This project, though it could increase travel times alone the corridor by as much as 3 minutes during the afternoon rush hour and cause automotive diversion onto nearby streets, was vigorously supported by the business district as well as by local residents," PBOT writes.
•And most dubiously, the agency promises "Bike Share will launch in 2016." That's not a new promise, and not just because Leah Treat vehemently told the Mercury the same thing back in February. PBOT's promised bike share will launch in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The city's been unable to corral sponsorship money in that time, but still has $1.8 million to burn on the project.
PBOT also says Portland might not have plateaued as much as census commuting data suggests. Portland's been stalled at 6 percent of commuters traveling by bike for years, but PBOT says its volunteer counts each summer suggest bike use increasing by 3 percent per year the last three years.
Check out the intro to PBOT's retort after the jump. And read the whole thing here [pdf].
Portland has never wavered in its commitment to create a world-class bicycling city. We continue the types of efforts that first won Portland platinum-level bicycle friendly community status in 2008. Portland was re-affirmed as a platinum-level bicycle-friendly community in 2013. At the time we had a bikeway network of 329 (centerline) miles. Today Portland has 345 bikeway miles with another 38 miles funded. Since Portland was last re-affirmed at the platinum level the city has:
•expanded our bikeway network
• made significant upgrades to existing bikeways
• built some of the best active transportation infrastructure in the country
• secured funding for significant further expansion
• opened our 125th bicycle corral
• encouraged and educated thousands of Portland adults and children about bicycle
• slowed down people driving on high crash and residential streets and
• advanced cutting edge policies.