Coming Down from the Summit

The tone of Saturday’s Bicycle Summit was set for me when a fellow Portland Transport contributor sat down and said “I hope there won’t be a lot of self-congratulatory crap.” (You know who you are.)

Of course, there was some celebration of where we’ve come from and what we’ve accomplished, but it was also acknowledged that only 3% of trips are by bike, and the focus was definitely looking forward. This was the opportunity to whip up the base to go out and evangelize!

There are no silver bullets, it will take the combination of many efforts and actions to get us to the goal Commissioner Adams articulated, matching Amsterdam’s bike mode share of 40%. But my take-away is that there are two major tracks we’re going to have to pursue:

  1. Keep improving the infrastructure. There are still lots of gaps in the system, and we know that the next set of riders are going to prefer calmer, relatively car-free routes. This is the target for the BTA’s Boulevards campaign, and I think they’re on track. I believe the key element of this effort will be making the places where the bicycle boulevards cross arterial streets as bike-friendly as possible. I hope we’ll try a number of different approaches to this, and then replicate the designs that are proven to work – by attracting riders.
  2. Personal outreach. Whether this looks like the Travel Smart program that PDOT has run in Interstate and is now running in the “NE Hub”, or whether it looks like a grass roots “bike buddy” effort with neighbors helping other neighbors get onto a bike and start learning the safe and convenient routes, it’s going to be about people talking to people one-on-one and helping them get comfortable and confident in using a bicycle as regular transportation.

I could only attend two of the dozens of break-out sessions. What was your take-away from the summit?

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