IT'S NOT OFTEN that bikes win a fight against freight trucks. But that's exactly what happened last week in a tense Metro vote over a $24 million pot of money that's split between freight and bike/pedestrian projects.
In past years, 80 percent or more of the money has been given to bike/ped projects such as building trails and sidewalks, while about 20 percent went to road paving, bridge building, and other freight projects. This year, though, big businesses like Fred Meyer, Weyerhaeuser, and the Portland Business Alliance put pressure on Metro to reverse the split, giving up to 75 percent of the flexible fund to freight ["Bikes vs. Trucks," News, July 1]. The Portland Freight Committee argued that congestion on Oregon roads could lose the state 6,500 jobs.
But members of Metro's Joint Policy Advisory Committee noted the thin slice of the overall budget pie given to bikes when they voted 7-6 in favor of splitting the money: $18 million for bike/ped projects, $6 million for freight.
"In the past decade, the region has spent $4.2 billion in roads, bridges, and freight and $153 million in active transportation," said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. "When we invest in these kinds of projects, in particular things like trails, there's a huge return to the public."
Even though the vote represents a cut for bike funding, green groups rejoiced: They feared the business-backed budget axe would do the worst. So what's the payout to bikes versus freight regionally? The graph above shows the percentages Metro's number crunchers put together for the vote, comparing state and federal funds for differing modes of transportation in the region.