Why I Support Bike Sharing in Portland

A number of months ago I signed on to a letter in support of using several million dollars from the regional share of Federal flexible transportation dollars to help jump start a bike sharing system in Portland.

And although a number of friends and organizations that I’m normally allied with are questioning that priority, I’m still very much in favor.

It does pain me that the Barbur Streetscape proposal is currently below the cut line for Portland’s submission to this round of funding. I bike on Barbur regularly as part of my bike/transit commute to Wilsonville and am well aware of the deficiencies in the corridor. I’ve volunteered to be the Planning Commission’s point person for the Barbur Concept Plan because I know how important this is. But the sad reality is that there simply aren’t yet enough dollars to support all the good projects we have.

So why bike share? A long list of reasons:

  • In other cities, it has proven transformative. From Paris to London to Washington D.C. adoption is very strong and changes people’s travel patterns.
  • It improves safety – evidence is mounting that riding a bikeshare bike is safer than riding your own bike
  • It’s a balanced funding package. The proposed submission by City Council would include a package of projects in East Portland, safety improvements on Foster Rd. and a freight project in North Portland that fits into an overall transportation plan that makes neighborhood corridors safer. This does NOT overbalance toward the Central City.
  • The Central City needs it – it’s the “hole in the donut” in terms of bike usage. The surrounding neighborhoods have much higher bike mode share than downtown does.
  • It helps the Central City economy and transportation strategy. Over the next twenty years we hope to increase the number of trips in and into the Central City by 50% to maintain its role as the center of our region. That obviously can’t be done in automobiles, they simply wouldn’t fit. Cycling options are much less expensive than transit investments to move us toward this goal.
  • I strongly believe in making transportation options easy to use. My Transit Appliance project is all about making it easier to use transit. Bike sharing makes it easy to ride even if you didn’t bring a bike with you.
  • It leverages private dollars. The $2M requested would be matched by $2M in private funding.
  • It leverages our existing $250M investment in Streetcar (and much more in MAX). Once the Streetcar Loop is completed, we’ll have a carbon-free transit loop around the Central City, intersected on the points of the compass by MAX service. Bike sharing becomes the way to move between the stations on those networks easily in a carbon-free manner. With all those options, there’s very little reason to drive a car in the Central City.

I could go on, and I probably will at City Council tomorrow

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