Bikes and Streetcars, Oh My!

An upcoming series of open houses will look at both the Bicycle Master Plan and the Streetcar System Plan. I salute the Bureau of Transportation for giving citizens the opportunity to take these in together.

Portlanders examine long-range plans to shape transportation and livability

(PORTLAND, OR) – Imagine getting around Portland twenty years from now, with streetcars serving neighborhood business districts and an extensive network of bikeways so safe, comfortable, and attractive that more than a quarter of all trips are made on a bicycle.

That’s a future that could come true if the City adopts a new Streetcar System Plan and a 2009 update to the 1996 Bicycle Master Plan.

The public is invited to help shape this transportation transformation at a series of six May open houses around the city to showcase the two long-range plans. Visit the open house event in your community to learn more about the City’s strategic investment in green transportation:

Southeast Portland
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Franklin High School Cafeteria,
5405 SE Woodward St
Portland 97206

East Portland
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
David Douglas High School North Cafeteria
1500 SE 130th Ave
Portland 97233

North Portland
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Roosevelt High School Cafeteria,
6941 N. Central
Portland 97203

Central City and Northwest Portland
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Portland Building, Room C, 2nd Floor,
1120 SW 5th Ave
Portland 97210

Northeast Portland
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Grant High School Cafeteria,
2245 NE 36th Ave
Portland 97212

Southwest Portland
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Wilson High School Cafeteria,
1151 SW Vermont St
Portland 97219

At each event, you may drop in anytime between four and seven, and there will be brief remarks by a member of Mayor Adams’s staff at 6:00 p.m. There will be bicycle parking, light refreshments, and certified childcare in English and Spanish.

The 1996 Bicycle Master Plan made Portland the top bicycling city in the nation and became recognized as a national model. Over the past dozen years, the City has successfully implemented many elements of the plan and created robust programs to encourage bicycling. The results: each year more people are choosing to bicycle! For example, in 2008, daily bicycle traffic over the Willamette River bridges was more than five times higher than in 1995, and 20% of all trips over the Hawthorne Bridge were made by bike. The Bicycle Master Plan 2009 update project is taking a fresh look at the next steps to make Portland a world-class bicycling city. The bicycle plan is expected to go to City Council in October, 2009.

The Streetcar System Plan looks at extending development-oriented transit throughout the City. Far outstripping the original ridership projections, the downtown streetcar now carries over 11,000 passengers per day, and ridership growth averages 15% per year. Construction of the Eastside Loop Streetcar will start this summer, with service beginning in 2011. Where else should streetcar service be located? The Streetcar System Plan is a big picture look at the City of Portland’s transportation network and how streetcars might fit into this network in the future. The plan identifies a citywide network of potential streetcar corridors integrated with TriMet’s existing and planned transit system. The streetcar plan is expected to go to Council in August, 2009.

According to Metro growth projections, the City of Portland’s population is expected to grow from 575,000 to approximately 725,000 by the year 2030. In that same time, the region’s population may grow from 1.9 million to 3 million people. As the City of Portland prepares for this growth, new cleaner, greener transportation and development strategies must be a part of the solution. Both the Streetcar System Plan and the Bicycle Master Plan are key elements of the transportation strategy in the proposed City-County Climate Action Plan, and are being coordinated with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Portland Plan process. In addition to proposing new networks, these two planning efforts include funding and implementation strategies.

For more information on the Bicycle Master Plan, visit, e-mail, or call 503-823-4638.

For more information on the Streetcar System Plan, visit, e-mail, or call 503-823-5611.


10 responses to “Bikes and Streetcars, Oh My!”

  1. I’m glad they are doing this outreach, though I do wish they would hold the NW meeting in NW Portland. It seems like both the streetcar users and cyclicsts who are stake holders of these respective transportation systems would be best served by a meeting in their neighborhood.

    As Transportation Options begins to focus on NW Portland over the coming year it seems like this meeting could be used to support Options’ efforts.

  2. A pedestrian stepped off the curb and into the road without looking one day and promptly gets knocked flat by a passing cyclist.

    “You were really lucky there,” said the cyclist.

    “What on earth are you talking about! That really hurt!” said the pedestrian, still on the pavement, rubbing his head.

    “Well, usually I drive a bus!” the cyclist replied.

  3. We should register bicyclists and then pay them at least $50 per year for leaving their cars at home. This morning on my bicycle I not only stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk, but I raised my arm to stop an auto as well to let the woman cross safely.

  4. Lenny: I am still awaiting the check in the mail from you for my contribution towards our regional transit by using a high capacity bus from door to door, while not requiring any capital expense for our region (thanks to TriMet’s unwillingness to buy new buses), not requiring free parking, and not using enhanced bus stops.

    Since I board my bus at stops that often have little or no sidewalk connectivity, safe crosswalks (and thus no crossing signals), shelters, or other amenities, I should be paid to ride TriMet each and every day.

    In fact, the fare one pays to travel should be directly dependent on such matters…so one who rides MAX or Streetcar should pay a much higher fare; bus riders pay a fare dependent upon the route they are on, the stop they use, whether they use a park & ride lot, and the age of the bus boarded (so anyone boarding a 1400-1900 series bus should never pay to ride)…

    Bicyclists who ride solely on streets without bike infrastructure can ride for free; those who ride on bike paths or bike lanes should pay. (And since I own a bike and frequently ride on streets that lack bike lanes, I also expect payment for that as well.)

    Finally I own only one car for a household of three (including one young child) but as I move into my new home we will be within walking distance of my son’s elementary school, something that cannot be said about residents of the Pearl District. So Pearl District and SoWa residents should pay me for walking my son to school while they chose to live in area that lacks educational infrastructure. And since I am being required to pay for a sidewalk and maintain it for public use, I should receive payment to provide a portion of my property for public use (How many Pearl District residents allow me to access their private property for public use?)

    Please contact Chris or Bob on how you can remit your payment to me.

  5. Y’know, there probably is a way to pay bicyclists to commute. I was playing around with it as a silly idea, but …

    Imagine a GPS transponder imbedded in bicycles that participate in the program. The transponder registers when the wheels are moving and where the bicycle travels. (This way, we know it’s being ridden instead of hauled around in the back of a car.) The rider registers an account with ODOT. Every time he/she rides the bike, the mileage is registered, and an account builds up at the rate of, say, five cents a mile.

    If the bicycle is ridden in a congested area during peak traffic hours, the rate is doubled to ten cents a mile. That’s when/where we really need ridership.

    At the end of the year, ODOT sends the rider a statement of how much they accumulated over the past year. The statement can be used to write total mileage off as a tax credit on Oregon income tax.

    So: taxpayer rides five miles to work and home again every day, during peak hour traffic. The GPS dutifully records his trip. (Yes; this is a voluntary program; you join it if you don’t care that the government can follow your every move.) He gets ten cents a mile at peak hour, ten miles (one dollar) a day, and commutes by bike two hundred and fifty days a year. He gets a $250 state tax credit for that year.

    I don’t know. There probably are all kinds of problems with the idea. But something like that might be able to incent a lot more rush-hour bike commuting.

  6. Maybe Douglas’ idea is why TriMet refuses to use smartcards for transit.

    Because TriMet could actually track HOW MUCH I ride transit (as opposed to certain folks on this forum who don’t even have TriMet passes yet describe themselves as transit experts), would know which route I ride, along with how many other people are on my bus, where I get on and off, and which type of bus I am riding…

    And then refund me my fare PLUS an additional payment.

    This doesn’t require fancy-schmancy GPS equipment, it’s standard issue equipment for most transit systems in the United States — just not TriMet.

  7. Huh? Tri-Met doesn’t use more advanced fare-collection technology because they might have to give refunds? That doesn’t make any sense….

    The “bike refund” being proposed seems to be a State of Oregon thing. Perhaps reducing the prices of transit is a good idea (I won’t complain), but the revenue has to be replaced somehow. And people around here complain already that Tri-Met is funded by things other than the farebox–I’m not sure reduced fares for transit couples with higher taxes/fees for motorists (or refunds on motor vehicle fees for transit users) is politically tenable–even if lots of folks here would like it.

    That said–there is an interesting question: How should Tri-Met levy fares–the current zone-based system, one with more granularity (zones), based on mileage travelled, etc? Use of more intelligent fare instruments (whether “smart cards” or simple plastic cards like they use in video arcades nowadays) would permit more complicated fare structures, but would the public buy it?

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