Roskowski during a Netherlands study tour in June.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland will host bicycle planning leaders from six U.S. cities at a reception tonight to mark the end of the first phase of the ‘Green Lane Project.’ Portland was one of six cities accepted into the program back in April 2012 (the others were Austin, Chicago, Memphis, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) Funded by the industry-backed non-profit Bikes Belong, the goal of the Green Lane Project is to hasten the development of protected bikeways in America.
The leader of the project, Martha Roskowski, says the project has been a big success. “[The Green Lane Project] helped to normalize protected bike lanes not just in these six cities; but also nationally. We created a dialogue around protected lanes and a desire for more of them and we have set a standard for what a bike lane should/could look like.”
In addition to raising awareness for protected bike lanes through the media, their blog, and other channels, the Green Lane Project led domestic and international study tours. City staffers, politicians, and other key decision makers joined these tours to see the vision of what a great bike city looks like. Roskowski also said the application process (to become a Green Lane Project city) itself was powerful. “It put the conversation on the table and got city leadership to focus and talk about protected bikeways.”
According to an inventory of protected bikeways completed back in December, the Green Lane Project estimates that the total number of them doubled in 2012 and is on pace to double again by the end of this year. (Interestingly, Portland hasn’t added any new protected bike lanes since joining the program.)
What’s the magic ingredient for cities looking to build more protected bikeways? Roskowski shared a familiar answer: political support. “That’s the best indicator of success,” she says. “Every city is different in terms of their mix, but the political support piece is the front-line that we look at. Take Chicago for instance, they’ve made amazing progress and [Mayor] Rahm Emanuel was responsible for a lot of that because he came in with a bold vision.”
At tonight’s event, leaders from each of the six cities will recap what they’ve done, share lessons learned, and discuss what comes next. Speakers will include Portland’s Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, Metro Councilor Sam Chase, and the Deputy Commissioner of Chicago’s DOT, Scott Kubly.
Roskowski says Portland and the other five original Green Lane Project cities will now “transition into senior cities.” The application process for the next batch of cities will open next month and Bikes Belong will announce the new cities in spring 2014.