PDOT plots bike-path plans in outer East Portland

See how Portland transportation officials say they plan to make East Portland more “bike friendly”‚ and what this means for car drivers,

David Prause‚ he says he’s a daily commuter from Sellwood to NW Portland ‚Äì talks with Linda Ginenthal, Transportation Options, City of Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) is preparing a comprehensive city-wide transportation plan.

Earlier in June, the Transportation Options section of PDOT rolled out its finding regarding bicycle riding at the East Portland Community Center.

Everything we know about bicycling in Portland is illustrated on charts here,” explained PDOT’s Roger Geller. “The next phase is how we can take Portland to the next level: How we can create world-class cycling conditions in Portland.”

Geller said this is important because, “citywide, 5.4% of people use bicycles as their primary method of commuting.”

Roger Geller, PDOT, consults with full-time bikers.

“Cities around the world have recognized that bicycles, for many short trips, are an ideal vehicle,” Geller went on. “Bicycles don’t pollute, they’re inexpensive, and riding promotes health and reduces greenhouse gases.”

America has a relatively low level of cycling activities compared to the rest of the world, Geller added. “The main reason many people don’t use bicycles more here, is they’re concerned about being near motor vehicles. To that extent, safety is a huge concern.”

The next step
“We identified our target market,” reported Geller. “The majority of Portland’s population isn’t using bikes for transportation. We’re trying to figure out how to adopt good designs, and where to focus to increase biking.”

Bicycle enthusiasts look over the city’s bikeway plan, laid out for them on panels that line the room at the East Portland Community Center.

Impact on motorized vehicles
When the city’s Commissioner overseeing PDOT‚ Sam Adams‚ arrived, we asked him how making Portland more “bicycle friendly” would impact the 94% of citizens who travel by motorized vehicle.

“We are seriously looking at how these plans will impact motor vehicle traffic,” Adams told us. “The old idea to route bikeways was to stripe a bike lane down a busy street and call it good. But that doesn’t make the bike riders feel safe. A high percentage of people won’t use it.”

Their new plans call for bikeways to be routed on quieter, adjacent streets. With some “modest” improvements, these roads become “bike boulevards”.

“This strategy is actually cheaper for the city‚ and has less impact on cars; we’re taking bicycles off the main, heavily-used streets.”

Calls East Portland bikeways inadequate
Adams said he was attending the open house because the bikeway system in East Portland is inadequate.

“It is inferior compared to the rest of the city. With transportation costs for each household going through the roof, I want to offer people an alternative mode for transportation that is safe, and will get them to and from where they want to go.”

For more information, see www.pdxtrans.org; and, search for Platinum Bicycle Master Plan.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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