Outside Perspective on our Bike Plans

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation (PDF, 1.7M) by Dr. Eric France, the director of preventative medicine for Kaiser in Colorado. Dr. France spent much of the summer here in Portland learning about our bicycle efforts.

The whole presentation was great, and Dr. France’s observations about the health benefits of active transportation are very compelling.

But the point I want to emphasize is his observations about how we’re going about implementing the Bicycle Master Plan. Here are a few questions and suggestions from the presentation we should give careful thought to:

  • Do all businesses, city institutions, residents know and support this vision?
  • Is there a clear communication strategy to align everyone with this vision?
  • Who is the leadership team that oversees executing on the strategy? The city? The chamber of commerce?
  • Should we have a “Bike Summit for the 2030 Plan” involving all players?
  • Role of Health?
  • Is there an organizing body for all bicycle transit efforts in Portland?
  • If business owns and pushes this agenda, the battle is won
  • What is Portland?s Brand regarding active transportation?
  • One easy website to get me started?

He goes on to suggest that the way to sell the Bicycle Plan to the business community is on the basis of health and health care cost reductions. I couldn’t agree more!


6 responses to “Outside Perspective on our Bike Plans”

  1. One great example of a bike plan website is Bike Long Beach. It is a one-stop-shopping website for all things bike in Long Beach, but it is very specifically tied to their planned infrastructure improvements and programs.

  2. Jessica.. is that website run by the City or by a private individual?

    Chris, thanks for sharing your thoughts from the France presentation. I disagree a bit about the priority of the health argument. Yes, health care savings and improved health are great arguments for more biking infrastructure… but we should be careful how much priority we give it.

    I remain of the opinion that bike advocates/elected/etc.. suffer from an inferiority complex resulting from decades of marginalization in the transportation mix… and so what they are doing now is trying to find a silver bullet argument that will get “the other side” to finally accept “us”. Health is one such argument.. but why not just sell biking as the best transportation investment… without making it look like we’re trying to sell snake oil by saying “it’s green!” “it’s good for the air!” “it’s healthy!”.

    No other mode can compete for the efficiency and usability of a complete bike network for short trips. The more we try to use other, non-direct transportation arguments, the harder it is to make that case.

  3. The website is run by the City as part of their large-scale effort to become the best biking city in America. They’ve got a long way to go (2008 ACS modeshare is 0.82%) but the momentum and money they’re throwing at the project are impressive. Have I mentioned? $21M dollars to date in money for specific, near-term projects??

  4. screw ‘business’. of course they are not gung-ho, it has so little potential to add do their bottom line. Give me one great social program in which business has been sincerely out in front. We are a nation of citizens not consumers.

  5. Chris:
    Healthcare and it’s associated costs are divorced from the reality of human health, the argument that biking improves the health of the community doesn’t really matter because insurance mutes its impact.

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