October 7, 2009

Rainy Portland makes a really serious move to bike commuting – 25 percent on bikes by 2030

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Portland wants 25 percent of its commuters on bikes by 2030. I am impressed. Not only is it green, but it’s hardcore.

Because, you know, it rains in Portland. It’s gray, sloshy rain. Rains all day. Rains from the ground up, and sky down. If you livrita_hibbardweb2e in Portland, or Seattle, and you spend any time at all on a bike, you know what I mean. When it rains so much and you’re commuting, the rain comes up to meet you. And it’s gray, dirty rain by that point. But I digress.

I admire this move by Portland. It’s in the city’s official Bicycle Plan for 2030.  I took a look at this plan, and it calls for an expansion of the city’s network of bikeways from 630 to 930 miles.  Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, all you other west coast cities that pride yourselves on being green? What say you?

In Hard Drive, the Oregonian’s commuting blog, writer Joseph Rose says the plan includes new street designs, an expanded bicycle transportation network and other programs.

Portland’s first Bicycle Master Plan was adopted in 1996. Since then, with only modest investment, the bicycle network has doubled to more than 300 miles and bike commuting has boomed. Two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey data showed 6.4 percent of Portlanders reported bicycling to work in 2008, a big jump from 4 percent the year before. Meanwhile, last year, the League of American Bicyclists granted Portland its highest platinum-level status as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

At the same time, many Portlanders interested in making daily trips on bikes continue to cite safety concerns as the primary barrier to doing it.Where the 1996 emphasized bike lanes on busy streets, 2030 draft plan proposes an aggressive push for a network of bike boulevards with low automobile traffic that link to key destinations.

Rain or not, this sounds like a workable solution to growing traffic congestion and a move toward liveable, sustainable cities.

— Rita Hibbard

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