Portland is the most bike-friendly city in the US, according to National Geographic Traveler. Despite the prestigious ranking, it strives to better its infrastructure with the approval of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030.
“I think we have earned that ranking through our forward looking plans,” said Gerik Kransky, advocacy campaign manager at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. “Portland has a really high ridership and it shows based on the work done in the past. I think that’s a great distinction but it’s not one that we can rest on.”
The city council approved the Bicycle Plan through a unanimous vote of 5-0 on 11 February. The long-range plan points to several key principals that aim to improve Portland’s ridership. It includes attracting new riders, strengthening bike policies, expanding the city’s bike networks and programs that support cycling, increasing bike parking and increasing funding for cycling facilities.
“Those kinds of investments are really going to help improve public health, air and water quality, and the livability of our neighborhoods,” Kransky said. The new plan is based on the original 1996 Bike Master Plan and Portland has been working on the 2030 version since 2006.
“It’s an affordable investment and a cheaper way to build out a transportation network by investing in these types of infrastructures as oppose to investing in an infrastructure for vehicles and cars,” he said.
Making it happen
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) was involved in the plan development by providing technical advice, analysis and drafting support. BTA is a Portland-based cycling advocacy organisation aimed at ‘creating healthy, sustainable communities by making bicycling safe, convenient and accessible’ in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
According to Kransky, it will take a combination of revenue from all available sources to bring a plan of this magnitude to life. “We are thinking creatively all the way from business adopting a mile or a city block, looking into city transportation budgets, regional transportation budgets, state transportation funds and federal transportation funds,” he said.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has already begun implementing initial projects listed in the plan and some 24km of new bike lanes will be created this year. While it's a modest amount compared to the plan at large, it represents the start.
The BTA launched The Build It Campaign, a grass roots push to raise awareness for all the benefits that the Portland Bike Plan for 2030 promises to bring. “It was started in advance of the vote,” Kransky said. “The inaugural event was a big rally on 4 February with about 200 people who came out to show their support of the plan. It’s our effort to look beyond the plan it self and really encourage people here in Portland and the city and metro council to put that plan into action.”