Citing Budget Constraints, Portland to Invest More in Biking, Not Driving

It’s always interesting to peek in on what’s happening in Portland, America’s bike mode share leader.

Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Tom Miller announced yesterday that Portland will pursue a 10 percent bike mode share target. Photo: Bike Portland

During a speech at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit yesterday, PBOT Director Tom Miller announced that Portland will be pursuing a 10 percent bike mode share goal, an interim step on the city’s way to achieving its 25 percent target by 2030. (Portland already has the highest bike commuting share of any big city in the country at 7 percent or 5.8 percent, depending on who’s counting.)

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports, interestingly, that the reasoning is driven by fiscal concerns as much as anything:

Miller said PBOT is being forced to adapt and change due to a “crisis in transportation” that revolves around funding. He said Portland has a 21st century transportation vision they are trying to carry out with a 20th century funding model.

To demonstrate to the public that PBOT should focus even more on biking and walking, he said he’s working on a fact sheet that will explain the costs related to the infrastructure it takes to move a person one mile in a private motor vehicle versus the same infrastructure required to move that person one mile with a bike or on foot.

According to Miller, he wants the public — and especially bike advocates — to be able to easily track the City’s performance and hold PBOT and elected officials accountable. “If the funding is there, and you know the engineering expertise is there… The only thing we lack is political will.” With public awareness of the steps Miller wants to take to get to 10% bike mode share, he’s hoping that advocates can mobilize the community and create the political breathing space needed for what he refers to as the “tough decisions” and “tough calls that need to be made,” to successfully, “march along the path to that long-term 25% goal.”

Pretty smart.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Dallas Morning News Transportation Blog reports that a grassroots effort is emerging to kill plans for a new downtown highway (the same project opposed by Council Member Scott Griggs, whom we highlighted yesterday). Systemic Failure laments the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s bad habit of pursuing both BART and highway projects that are in direct competition. And Stop and Move wonders whether wide roads are actually slower due to the long traffic signal cycles they require.