Free the Bike!

I attended last year’s ceremony where the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) presented Portland the “Gold” award for best American bike City. Commissioner Adams (great that he landed the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) assignment!) has said he doesn’t think this is good enough. He wants us to be “Platinum”, a level the LAB has never presented to any city. What will it take to get us there?

A whole lot. The fact is, for the last few years Portland has been going backwards on bike and pedestrian projects and policies, or at best coasting forward at a slower and slower speed.

About 5 years ago Portland City Council abolished both the bike and pedestrian programs within PDOT. Each of these programs was nationally recognized, with fantastic, dedicated staff. The real reason for the axe was cost cutting, but the stated rationale was “mainstreaming”. All project management and engineering staff within PDOT and the City as a whole were said to have become so sensitized to bike/ped issues that no further special programs were necessary.

If so – why is current major redevelopment on Naito Pkway at the Pier One site not being required to to fully implement an obligation to install bikelanes on their portion of Naito – a Bike Masterplan throughway? Why do more block faces than ever in downtown Portland lack short term bike parking (thanks to meter removal and only slapdash replacement with racks)? Why is the BTA still fighting BDS tooth and nail to get enforcement of bike parking in new development? Why does the City have no enforcement mechanism for keeping barbed concertina wire on tops of fences from hanging out into public sidewalk space (this 6′-6″ pedestrian asks)?

And why for the last six years has the “bike pool” bike at the Portland building, supposedly there to encourage staff to cycle on short business trips, hung locked on a rack near the parking attendant’s booth because the key is lost and no one can be bothered to find it?

Commissioner Adams – I throw down the gauntlet. How about for starters trying to unleash the Portland Bldg bike and other city motor pool bikes in bondage?

You can work your way up from there.

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