October 7, 2005
BTA Releases "Blueprint for Better Biking"
On October 6, 2005, the BTA released our Blueprint for Better Biking: 40 Ways to Get There. The report provides a strategy and roadmap to increase bicycling in the Portland metro area. The report provides 40 essential projects, programs, and policies that are critical to bringing the region to the next level, and a "Top 10" list of the highest priorities on the list.
The BTA selected projects and developed Blueprint “themes” through an extensive two-year process that included a survey of over 900 bicyclists, meetings with technical experts, and meetings with bicycle advisory committees. The BTA found four primary themes among Portland area residents that must be addressed in order to increase cycling. These include:
- Cycling in Traffic
- Complete Routes
- Motorist behavior
- Quality of the Facility and Experience
The BTA’s Blueprint focuses on low-traffic facilities including trails and bicycle boulevards, leveraging a large bang on the limited public buck, and identifying achievable fixes to problems that would increase bicycling among a large group of cyclists don’t feel the roadway is safe. These strategies will also make existing cyclists’ experiences more pleasant.
View the report and full 40 project list (PDF 2.5M).
BTA Top Ten projects are:
- Sellwood Bridge
- Central City Bicycle Plan improvements
- East-west bikeways in North/Northeast Portland
- Highway 43 and the Willamette Shoreline Trail, connecting Lake Oswego, West Linn, and Portland
- Tonquin Trail, connecting Wilsonville, Tualatin, and Sherwood
- Low-traffic Suburban Routes
- Fanno Creek Trail, connecting Portland, Beaverton, and Tigard
- Expanded Low-Speed, Low-Volume Bikeways
- Enforcement campaigns against dangerous road users
- Safe Routes to School programs
October 7, 2005 12:58 PM
Evan Manvel Says:
So, um, how did we do? What's missing? What should be higher priority? What's dead-on right?
I would draw people's attention to the report beyond the list of projects, though -- it's an interesting characterization of how to think about getting people on bikes, and I'd love people's reaction to it.
October 7, 2005 3:05 PM
Ross Williams Says:
It seems to be awfully focused on engineering solutions with pavement and paint as the central players. I am not sure those are the things that are really the largest barriers.
You might consider looking at some organizing solutions.
1) Training people as BTA bike guides (with bike shirt to identify them) to answer questions and promote biking.
2) Organize more group commutes with the group taking a lane of traffic at a specific time each day. Likewise group commutes to school where parents know that there is some control over how and where the kids ride. You might even put a vehicle behind them to provide a shield.
3) Make the bike commute challenge a year round event with prize drawings etc, based on how many days/miles people ride.
4) Create a bike route guide similar to the Pacific Crest Trail guides that talk about each segment with how to navigate around the hard parts.
5) Get businesses to offer special rewards to people who arrive by bike.
6) Support your fellow bicyclist campaign. i.e. encourage people to say hi, nod a greeting, etc whenever they pass another bicyclist on the street.
7) Getting local elected officials, celebrities, CEO's etc. to lead bike rides. They could be done as fund raisers for various organizations or just on their own. I bet if Phil Knight offered to lead a bike ride around the Nike Campus there would be a bunch of not the usual bike riders who would join him.
I'm sure there are other things people can think of. But I think the focus on projects, while important, misses the larger social context that really has made biking work in Portland.
October 7, 2005 9:20 PM
Chris Smith Says:
I stronly second the idea of more training rides and clinics. I'd love to bring my daughter to a clinic on riding downtown so she feels more comfortable getting to school.
October 7, 2005 9:44 PM
Jonathan Maus Says:
Ross, those are all great ideas. I especially like the downtown bike guide idea...sign me up!
I'd just add that the BTA is, by their nature and mission, more of an advocacy/project oriented group. Much of their resources and staff are devoted to legislative and infrastructure projects.
I think what you're talking about - more outreach and education programs - might be better suited to a different group like Transportation Options at PDOT, an entirely new group or a coalition of existing groups.
What has made biking work in Portland is a combination of both people/culture and infrastructure/advocacy. They are closely integrated and cannot be thought of as separate phenomenon.
October 7, 2005 10:05 PM
Ross Williams Says:
People who are passionate about biking identify with BTA as the group that is their advocate. I think we need to give them the training and opportunities they need to become missionaries for more bike use. Having BTA members who stop to help new bicyclists and maybe even help them fix a tire would give them the opportunity to do that. It would also strengthen BTA and bring in people who may not be interested in “politics” but are interested in promoting biking and helping other people to share their enthusiasm. I was not thinking of just downtown, but particularly in the suburbs and along major bike corridors that people use to commute.
October 8, 2005 10:54 PM
Chris Smith Says:
I finally got a chance to read the full report (ironically, on a long car ride). I think the balance between infrastructure and programatic investments is reasonable.
I am curious about the implementation strategy for the programatic elements (31-40). I know who the agencies are who will need to implement much of the infrastructure. But who will be running these programs?
October 12, 2005 1:10 PM
Jonathan Maus Says:
I agree with you about empowering more cycling champions to help spread the good word to others. I think Shift is already leading the way on this. They exist to promoting biking as a fun, viable means of transportation.
I think energy and funds should be given to them (vs. extending the BTA) since this is already what they're great at.
October 16, 2005 7:35 PM
Seth Alford Says:
In summary, I give the report a subjective grade of C+ . There is too much emphasis on grade separated multi-use paths. There is no analysis of where the majority of bicycle transportation miles are currently being ridden.
My number 1 priority, fixing crash corner (also known as Beaverton-Hillsdale, Scholls, and Oleson) did not make the top 10. In case you missed it, it's buried within number 26 in the full report. Fixing crash corner is listed at the same priority as projects which I would rank lower down on the list: Garden Home Road, the SW Barbur gaps, Walker and Bethany.
I see that the Hall gap gets its own separate project because it goes to the Beaverton Farmer's market. My commute through crash corner takes me to my job where I make money to possibly spend at the Farmer's market. I'm guessing that there are other job destinations that would be served by the other gaps listed in Project 26. Making money to spend at the Farmer's Market, and elsewhere, is also important. So each of the gaps listed in #26 should have gotten its own project number.
Another of my priorities, getting the drunk auto drivers off the road, is buried within Project #34. Confusingly, the report has the "Top 10" graphic next to this item. The report says, "This symbol [the top 10 graphic] marks projects most likely to increase cycling." If it's a top 10, then why is it #34?
When I read the report's "Blueprint for Success" chapter, I can see why I only gave the report a C+. The priority is to get the "Group C" riders on bicycles. "The potential is great," the report says, "to drastically increase bicycling rates in the metro area by creating new low-traffic well-placed bikeways." In too many cases in the report, "bikeways" translates into grade separated bike paths.
Grade separated bike paths have been targeted at the Group C riders for decades. From what I can see, it hasn't worked very well. I mostly agree with what Forester has written on this topic.
I do not recall if the survey included a question on how many miles each rider rides during the year. If the survey did not include this question, it should have. The high mileage riders, who are actually doing the transport by bicycle, should have formed most, or at least a greater part than they did, of the basis for the projects chosen. I'm disappointed that the Bicycle Transportation Alliance did not take this approach.
October 17, 2005 10:07 AM
Scott Bricker Says:
I appreciate the variety of comments. The BTA will develop an implementation strategy in the coming months, most likely to be a series of campaigns targeted at specific projects, policies, and programs.
As for the project mix and type. We offered 28 facility projects and 12 policies and programs. Some of them are discreet and other ongoing.
We are very interested in programs and community-based efforts. Luckily this is the type of work being conducted by numerous groups and people, from the Shift, to the PDOT, to the CCC, BTA, blogs, media, independent events, etc. In my estimation, the non-pavement projects have received the most new energy. (I can go on about this, perhaps I will in a later post.)
On facilities, we defined our campaign as one to increase the number of low-traffic bicycle routes. Many of the projects listed are paths because they are clearly defined and are landmark projects. However the emphasis of our work will probably be on increasing low-traffic routes on existing streets. We are considering campaigns that include new bicycle boulevards and low-traffic routes in the suburbs. In a time of constrained resources, we are offering potential solutions that are inexpensive and can increase cycling substantially.
All of the work that I described is targeted the group “b” and “c” cyclists as defined in the blueprint. The BTA is trying to make thing safer and more pleasant for Seth, and me for that matter, but we have shifted the mass of our energy to increase the number of people cycling. Proving options that are not so scary for the majority of the population can only do this.
October 17, 2005 11:07 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Congratulations to BTA for the strong endorsement of the blueprint on today's Oregonian editorial page!