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Metro gives east Portland bikeway and safety projects highest rankings for federal funding

Metro gives east Portland bikeway and safety projects highest rankings for federal funding

map-halsey-safety-access

The top-ranked project would make walking and rolling to 82nd Avenue and Gateway much easier.

The Cully neighborhood would get a new biking and walking “parkway” and big roads that run through two major commercial districts in east Portland near I-205 could be updated and vastly improved for people on bikes and foot if the City of Portland is able to convince Metro to give them the cash to do it.

A $130 million pot of federal funding is up for grabs through Metro’s “regional flexible funding” program. Of that amount, $33 million is up for transportation projects. Unlike most federal funds, RFF money isn’t tied to the federal gas tax and can be spent on a wide variety of projects — including infrastructure that makes it easier to walk and roll.

The 31 proposed projects — four in the freight category where there’s $7.3 million available and 27 in the active transportation category where there’s $25.8 million available — come from pre-existing lists put together by cities and counties throughout the region. A committee at Metro has already given each project a technical ranking and PBOT has earned gold and silver: Their plan to update NE Halsey street and make it easier to walk and roll to the 82nd Avenue MAX light rail station is ranked #1 and their “walking and biking parkway” through the Cully neighborhood on NE 72nd is ranked #2.

Here’s the entire list with final rankings on the right (I’ve put a star next to PBOT’s projects):

rff-rankinglist

The Halsey project is estimated to cost $5.1 million total (PBOT is requesting $3 million from Metro) and would build a new separated bike lane from 65th to 83rd, a neighborhood greenway connection between Tillamook and Halsey along 65th and 81st, and a new multi-use path that would connect 81st (at Halsey) to a new path over I-205 near Gateway Green.

The $6 million Cully Parkway project (PBOT is asking Metro for half that amount) would build a multi-use path on both sides of NE 72nd Avenue from Killingsworth to Fremont.

map-cully-parkway

If funded, the City’s NE Halsey Safety and Access to Transit project would be just the latest bit of good news for this currently auto-centric “high crash corridor.” As we reported last month, PBOT has a shovel-ready project to redesign outer Halsey with buffered bike lanes and new sidewalks between 122nd and the Gresham border. In between these two City projects, the Portland Development Commission has already announced plans to build protected bikeways on the Halsey-Weidler couplet just east of I-205, making it one of the bike-friendliest commercial streets in the entire city.







Map of PDC's Gateway Regional Center shows location of Halsey and Stark in relation to I-205.

Map of PDC’s Gateway Regional Center shows location of Halsey and Stark in relation to I-205.

In addition to the changes on Halsey, PBOT has also requested $300,000 to further develop these projects and do public outreach not just on Halsey but further south on Stark Street as well. Among the goals of their Outer Stark/Halsey Complete Streets project is an, “Evaluation of alternative cross-sections for all roadway segments and major intersection approaches to determine optimal allocation of right-of-way between medians, turn lanes, median islands, travel lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, parking, etc.” This is the type of outreach and analysis they need to do prior creating concrete designs for significant streetscape changes (like the ones planned for Halsey) in the future. This project has been ranked sixth out of the 27 flexible fund project candidates.

(Note: Both the Halsey-Weidler couplet and the Stark-Washington couplet are part of the PDC’s Gateway Regional Center urban renewal area.)

The key to these strong rankings isn’t just because these projects would improve safety for everyone, it’s because they would do it in a place with above average concentrations of low-income, elderly, and non-white households. “Residents of these communities, many of whom have limited or no access to motor vehicles, and some of whom had been displaced from inner Portland neighborhoods with better active transportation infrastructure,” reads PBOT’s grant application, “will benefit from the ultimately constructed project by having access to safer infrastructure for walking, bicycling and accessing transit.”

If you like the sound of these projects, now is the time to comment. Metro has a great interactive comment map where you can learn more about all the projects. You can also email transportation@oregonmetro.gov or come to a public hearing at 4:00 pm on October 27th at Metro headquarters (600 NE Grand Ave). To see the full project grant applications and learn more about regional flexible funds, see this page at OreognMetro.gov.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Imagining an inner Powell that would actually solve the street’s problems

Imagining an inner Powell that would actually solve the street’s problems

powell vision

When more people use cars on a street, it becomes less and less efficient. When more people use mass transit, it becomes more and more efficient.
(Image: Nick Falbo)

The City of Portland and the State of Oregon both say they want to free more of their constituents from traffic congestion and to reduce planet-killing pollution.

There’s no mystery at all about what this would look like on inner Powell Boulevard. Everyone with some measure of power who has considered the issue knows the answer. But for some reason, the millions of public dollars spent talking about that possible answer have never resulted in a street-level picture of it.

That changed Monday when a Portland-based street designer, Nick Falbo, threw up a rough image of a Powell that would get more and more efficient as more people use it rather than less and less efficient.

Here’s the full before-and-after rendering Falbo shared on his Twitter feed:

powell double vision

Notice how both images feature the same number of cars.

Falbo’s day job is with Alta Planning + Design, but his Twitter feed is his own.







In March, project managers pulled the plug on short-term plans for a “rapid” bus line on inner Powell because they realized it wouldn’t actually be rapid. There was one basic reason: the Oregon Department of Transportation had silently vetoed the possibility of fully prioritizing bus traffic over car traffic with a dedicated lane, and no politicians in the state, city or regional government had tried to force them to do otherwise.

Would removing cars from two lanes of Powell in favor of buses (plus ambulances and, maybe, trucks) get a lot of people angry? Of course it would. Is it far easier and less stressful for an independent contractor like Falbo to throw up a nice-looking image and enjoy the cheers from like-minded folks on the Internet? Definitely.

But there’s a reason that people cheer for images like this one. Unlike any other traffic plan for inner Powell, including the status quo, it offers a way to actually solve the problems before us, rather than closing our eyes and hoping our grandchildren never ask us why we never got around to making those problems go away.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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People keep talking about a regional transportation ballot measure for 2018

People keep talking about a regional transportation ballot measure for 2018

build-funding-timeline

The region’s biking and walking goals (green line) are far cheaper to build than its auto or transit goals, but at the current rate they won’t be built until 2209.

As Oregon legislators start talking about the statewide transportation bill many hope to pass in 2017 (look for some reporting on that soon), others are starting to think locally, too.

We’ve heard from various sources recently that some people in the Portland area are looking toward November 2018 as the right moment for a region-wide bond measure for transportation. The idea is to create a burst of new money for public transit, roadways, biking and walking.

How much of each, you ask? Those negotiations would probably get underway over the next year.

Oregonian reporter Elliot Njus offered some details at the end of an article last month about a public vote in Tigard this fall that will decide whether the city allows or blocks a new light rail line.

The entire Metro region, including Tigard, could be asked in 2018 to vote on a bond measure to pay for a suite of transportation projects, including Southwest Corridor light rail. The measure would likely also include money to fix freeway bottlenecks and for bicycle-pedestrian projects.

Regional leaders have discussed measures modeled after successful efforts in other cities, including a $930 million property tax levy approved by Seattle voters last year.

Bottomly said regional leaders are discussing what such a measure might look like in Portland.

“You have to find that magic point where it’s big enough that people see value but not so big that it’s unaffordable,” he said.

(The hyperlink is our addition.)







This news may not come as a surprise to people reading between the lines of news bits like the time, back in February, when regional government Metro helped pay to bring Denny Zane up for a local talk. He was the political organizer behind Los Angeles County’s big transportation ballot issue.

For people who’d like to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation, regional ballot measures have a lot of promise in Portland. That’s because the metro area is both far more left-leaning than the rest of Oregon and far richer, meaning that a relatively low rate can go a long way.

Because Oregon’s constitution prohibits any fees on auto ownership or use from going to off-road projects, any regional tax that went in part to light rail would probably have to come from property, income, payroll or (gasp) sales taxes. Each would have its own obstacles.

Portland progressives killed a proposed payroll tax hike for bus service earlier this year, saying among other things that an income tax would be fairer. The most recent ballot measure for transit in the Portland area was a property tax bond measure renewal campaign by TriMet, in 2010. The regional transit agency pitched that measure as a way to upgrade its bus fleet for an aging population; it failed 54 percent to 46 percent in the teeth of the recession.

It might also be possible, of course, to craft a measure that would simultaneously tap multiple types of tax for different purposes.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

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Speak up now for dirt trails at Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

Speak up now for dirt trails at Chehalem Ridge Nature Park

Imagine nice biking trails here. It could happen if we speak up.(Photos: Metro)

Imagine nice biking trails here. It could happen if we speak up.
(Photos: Metro)

Imagine rolling your bike onto the MAX, getting off at the end of the Blue Line in Hillsboro, then pedaling 10 miles to some sweet singletrack. That could become reality, but only if you speak up and get involved.

About 23 miles west of Portland — and just 10 miles south of the Hillsboro Transit Center — lies 1,200 acres of undeveloped land called the Chehalem Ridge Nature Park. Before the economy tanked it was prepped for housing, but Metro purchased it in 2010 with funds from their Natural Areas Levy. And we’re lucky they did because it could someday be home to bike trails.

Metro says Chehalem Ridge is one of the largest publicly owned natural areas in Washington County. It’s about the same size as Oxbow Regional Park in east Multnomah County, yet it’s relatively unknown because of its rural location and lack of public facilities. The land itself (based on photos, I have yet to explore it) offers sweeping views of the Tualatin Valley and Coast Range to the west. Its gradual inclines, meadows, and groves of trees give it loads of potential as a place where off-road cycling could flourish.

It's about three miles east of Hagg Lake, south of Forest Grove.(Map: Metro)

It’s about three miles east of Hagg Lake, south of Forest Grove.
(Map: Metro)

Here it is in context to Portland.

Here it is in relation to Portland.







Looking west toward the Coast Range, Hagg Lake, and the Tualatin Valley.

Looking west toward the Coast Range, Hagg Lake, and the Tualatin Valley.

chehalem_ridge_thinning

With Metro’s recent support for trails in the North Tualatin Mountains, there’s good reason to hope that Chehalem Ridge could be another, relatively close-in mountain biking destination for our region. But there’s one thing missing so far: Feedback and comments from people who love off-road cycling and want more places to do it.

Similar to how they approached the Tualatin Mountains parcels, Metro says, “What that nature park looks like will be up to community members to shape.” And our source at Metro assures us that “off-road cycling is part of the discussion.”

Now’s the time to take Metro’s Chehalem Ridge Nature Park Master Plan survey and let them know what you want. The last day to respond is this Friday June 10th!

This is an important opportunity to create a fun and accessible new park for all! Please take the survey, learn more at OregonMetro.gov, and stay tuned to BikePortland for more opportunities to weigh in.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Highway amendment fails, Metro committee adopts spending plan

Highway amendment fails, Metro committee adopts spending plan

JPACT meeting.jpg

Yellow signs urging investment in safe routes near schools loomed over local elected and agency leaders as they considered how to allocate $130 million in regional flexible funds this morning at Metro headquarters.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A nearly two-year quest to raise funds for Safe Routes to Schools across the Portland region came to an end this morning. At the monthly meeting of Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, elected and agency leaders voted to support a policy direction that will inform how $130 million in federal “flexible” transportation dollars are spent.

“If we are truly committed to solving freight bottlenecks and if we are truly committed to air quality we’d be discussing investments that will improve traffic flow.”
— Paul Savas, Clackamas County Commissioner

Back in August 2014 the Bicycle Transportation Alliance zeroed in on this pot of money as a way to bring Safe Routes funding to all 150,000 of the region’s schoolkids. They built up the For Every Kid coalition with 89 partners and campaigned for $15 million to be dedicated to a mix of programmatic (education and marketing) and infrastructure spending around schools. This morning the coalition filled two sides of the Metro Council Chambers with people holding bright yellow signs that read, “Invest in Safe Routes” and “Don’t Cut Biking and Walking.”

As we reported back in March the proposal up for adoption had nowhere near the $15 million the coalition had hoped for. Instead that number was $1.5 million — or just $500,000 per year for the three-year funding cycle. With that battle fought, and the final vote postponed last month until today, the only remaining suspense was whether or not any JPACT member would try to amend the proposal in a significant way.

And boy did one of them try.

The proposal on the table called for bonding $3.78 million out of the flexible fund pot to create $12 million in revenue for freight and active transportation project development: $10 million for “regional bottlenecks” at the I-205 Abernethy Bridge, I-5/I-84 at the Rose Quarter, and Hwy 217; and $2 million for, “capital investment for active transportation projects, including Safe Routes to School for Title 1 schools, regional trails and other regionally significant active transportation facilities.”

Then came Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas.

savas-1







Screenshots from the Paul Savas amendment.

Screenshots from the Paul Savas amendment.

Savas put forward an amendment that would have completely eliminated the $2 million for active transportation projects and he proposed an additional $6 million in project development funds for major highway projects (he named Sunrise Corridor and the Basalt Creek Parkway specifically).

Commissioner Savas said we need more and wider highways because car and truck congestion is causing 30% more toxic fumes to be spewed into the air. “If we are truly committed to solving freight bottlenecks and if we are truly committed to air quality we’d be discussing investments that will improve traffic flow,” he said.

Once put to the committee for discussion, Savas’ amendment was quickly denounced.

Metro Councilor Sam Chase.jpg

Councilor Chase was having none of Savas’ amendment.

Metro Councilor Sam Chase was not thrilled:

“I would really speak out and say that this is not the right approach… We are often looking at one strategy to address freight issues in our region and I think we’re missing the bigger picture… By taking out active transportation, by taking out those components that take cars off the road, we’re fighting against our own economic development strategy. If you talk to business leaders they talk about quality of life and active transportation is part of that. I think it’s short-sighted… I think we need to protect the active transportation investments for the future of our region.”

Savas also wanted to reduce high capacity transit bond commitments by $5 million. TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said those cuts would be, “Fundamentally nearly fatal to our capacity to advance these projects.”

And then came the final nail in the coffin: Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp — representing the cities of Clackamas County — said that even he could not support Savas’ amendment.

Clackamas County Commissioner Paul Savas.jpg

Mr. Savas garnered no support for his highway-building amendment.

When the vote on his amendment was called, Savas was the only JPACT member to vote “yes” on his amendment. It failed 15-1. And that wasn’t the only lonely vote for Savas. He was also the only person to vote against the policy package that was ultimately adopted.

Here’s a chart showing how the $130 million will be spent (we added a label for the Safe Routes money because the small slice was so hard to see):

Regional Flexible Fund adopted spending categories (2019-2021).(Chart by Metro)

Regional Flexible Fund adopted spending categories (2019-2021).
(Chart by Metro)

When the dust settled, Safe Routes to School didn’t do anywhere near as well as advocates had hoped — but there are some positives.

In addition to the $500,000 per year in Safe Routes program funding, there’s the $2 million in project development and capital investment that will will be split up between capital investments in Safe Routes projects near Title 1 schools, regional multi-use paths, and other active transportation projects. And on the infrastructure side, the adopted proposal includes $26 million for active transportation projects. Another small step for Safe Routes is that improving access to schools has been upgraded to the highest priority in project selection criteria.

This $130 million in spending will be spread out across three years, 2019-2021. The next step is for agencies and jurisdictions to come up with project proposals. Those lists are due to Metro by August and will be out for public comment in October. A final funding decision will be made in January 2017.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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After delay, Metro again faces vote that pits Safe Routes money against highways

After delay, Metro again faces vote that pits Safe Routes money against highways

Trillium Charter School bike train-24-19

A bike train at Trillium Charter Schoool
in north Portland.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The regional Metro committee that controls $130 million in federal funds continues to consider an increase in money for road widening rather than for safety improvements to streets near schools.

JPACT, the committee of 17 regional officials, was due to vote last month but decided to postpone its vote until next Thursday.

At play are $17.4 million in new money created by last year’s federal transportation bill. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other nonprofits in the For Every Kid Coalition have led a two-year campaign to secure much of that money for Safe Routes to School infrastructure across the region, which improves crosswalks, sidewalks and bikeways near schools. Their proposal would prioritize “Title 1” schools, those with higher rates of child poverty.

Safe Routes to School has existed for 15 years in Portland and has apparently led to big increases in walking and biking. A Metro program would extend it to the suburbs.

As of March, 3,500 people had sent postcards and emails to Metro urging this to be the priority.

However, some JPACT members feel that the best way they can improve the regional economy is to reduce freight congestion, and that the best way to reduce freight congestion is to make roads wider. The BTA has found itself playing defense to protect the budget that currently goes to active transportation infrastructure.





In an effort to lock down votes, the BTA sent its members another action alert on the subject this week, urging people to contact JPACT members with the following request:

JPACT meeting-2

What will they do?

In light of the $17.43 million dollar increase in available funding this cycle, we ask you to support the safety of our community — from our kids to our grandparents — as they travel along and across roads throughout the region with:
• A minimum of $1.5 million for SRTS programs as part of the Regional Travel Options program
• At least $5 million in dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School infrastructure projects within the one-mile radius of schools, an important start toward the estimated $43 million dollar need
• A minimum of $27.7 million for active transportation infrastructure that increases safety for people walking, bicycling, and accessing transit
• Policy that supports equity and prioritizes Title 1 Schools

We urge you to vote no against any amendments that reduce funding for active transportation or reduce the $3.5 million proposed for Safe Routes to School programming, Safe Routes to School capital projects, and trails.

You can get the relevant email addresses here, or click this email link to auto-create an editable email on the subject.

The structure of JPACT gives more influence to people who live in less populated areas. Multnomah County gets one JPACT vote for its 775,000 residents; Clackamas County gets one vote for its 395,000.

Whatever JPACT decides, it would be possible for the Metro Council — a majority of which told BikePortland in March that they would almost certainly oppose reducing the share for active transportation — to overrule the vote and send the decision back for revisions. (Unlike JPACT, Metro council votes are distributed proportionally by regional population.) But Craig Dirksen, a Metro councilor from southeast Washington County who also chairs JPACT, told us that he has “never seen it happen and I would be very surprised if it happened.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Ex-Minneapolis mayor prods Portland region to rethink transportation

Ex-Minneapolis mayor prods Portland region to rethink transportation

Mayor R.T. Rybak challenged Portland-area leaders in an address at the Oregon Convention Center on April 22, 2016.(Photo: Metro)

Mayor R.T. Rybak challenged Portland-area leaders in an address at the Oregon Convention Center on April 22, 2016.
(Photo: Metro)

This article was originally submitted by Metro as a subscriber post.

Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak praised and provoked Portland-area leaders at a forum last Friday, challenging them to work together to address growing transportation dilemmas facing Portland and metropolitan regions around the country.

Rybak, a three-term mayor from 2002 to 2014, spoke with humor, humility and bluntness at a regional leadership forum at the Oregon Convention Center, kicking off Metro’s 2018 update of its regional transportation plan.

Attendees included state legislators, local elected officials who sit on the Metro Policy Advisory Committee and Joint Policy Advisory Commmittee on Transportation, public agency staff, transportation advocates, community members and business leaders from throughout the Portland region.

Rybak’s tenure in Minneapolis was a time of great change in the city, which has 400,000 residents and co-anchors the Twin Cities metropolitan region, with a population of around 3 million.







His administration launched a comprehensive 10-year transportation plan called Access Minneapolis, identifying and completing new investments in transit, sidewalks, bikeways and updating transportation design guidelines. Rybak also played a key role in advancing several major bus and light rail projects in Minneapolis and its region. And, he slyly noted, Minneapolis briefly overtook Portland as the best bicycling city in the country according to Bicycling magazine.

But Rybak is intimately familiar with a hard truth about the country’s transportation system: It’s falling apart, and the consequences are real. His mayoral tenure included one of the country’s most terrible transportation tragedies. The collapse of the Interstate 35W Mississippi River bridge during an evening rush hour in 2007 killed 13 people and injured 145.

Reflecting on the lessons he’d learned, Rybak had a clear warning for local leaders: Despite the Portland region’s celebrated accomplishments, emerging trends and festering challenges both require rethinking how we approach transportation planning.

“All of us in the country and literally in the world count on Portland to lead,” Rybak said. “And it is time, I think, for you to challenge some basic assumptions.”

See highlights and watch a video of Rybak’s address at OregonMetro.gov.

[Note from Publisher: I know it might seem odd to some readers that we’ve published a post written by a government agency. Metro is a paid subscriber ($30 per month, just like 32 other businesses and organizations) and one of the perks in our subscription program is the opportunity to publish “Subscriber Posts.” When these posts come in I reserve the right to publish them here on the Front Page when and if appropriate. Just like all the other people, organizations, and businesses that support us financially, Metro’s BikePortland subscription will have no negative impact on our editorial coverage. If you have questions, please email me at jonathan@bikeportland.org.]

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May offers two chances to see progress of Vision Zero efforts

May offers two chances to see progress of Vision Zero efforts

VISIONZEROSOCIALMEDIA_640X295Next month will be a good time to re-assess where Portland is in its quest toward Vision Zero. Two events on the calendar will bring experts and electeds to the table to share ideas and hear what you think about the current state of traffic safety.

On May 9th, the City of Portland will open up their Vision Zero Executive Committee to the public for a special listening session. This 13-member committee includes Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea, Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, PBOT Director Leah Treat, Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer, TriMet Director Neil McFarlane, two Multnomah County Commissioners, the head of Portland Fire and Rescue, a Metro councilor, and three members of the Oregon State Legislature.

They’ll provide an update on their work and then they’ll spend 45 minutes listening to the public. Anyone can show up and speak for up to two minutes. If you’d like to share your thoughts with this committee, sign up in advance by emailing visionzero@portlandoregon.gov or call (503) 823-9415. Others will be allowed to speak only if there’s enough time. Comment cards will be provided to people who don’t get a chance.







We’re just about to hit the one year anniversary of Portland’s focused Vision Zero effort. So far, a diverse task force led by PBOT has analyzed data about where and how crashes happen. Now they’re moving onto policies and actions. Earlier this month PBOT released a list of 36 specific actions for consideration by their Technical Advisory Committee. The potential actions include: a “comprehensive speed zone adjustment” through the high crash network, installation of fixed speed cameras, saturation patrols for DUII enforcement, collection of distracted driving data at all serious and fatal crashes, and so on.

event-vztalk

Then on May 10th from Noon to 1:00 pm, Metro and Oregon Oregon Walks will co-host a panel discussion that will feature 12 lessons learned by local experts who attended the inaugural Vision Zero Cities Conference that was held in New York City in March. The panelists are: Clay Veka, PBOT Vision Zero program manager; Kristi Finney-Dunn, Founder of Oregon & SW Washington Families for Safe Streets; Sgt. Bret Barnum of the PPB Traffic Division; and Noel Mickelberry, the executive director of Oregon Walks. The panel will be moderated by Joe Marek, transportation safety manager for Clackamas County.

The timing of this panel is fortuitous because Metro plans to kick off an update of the Regional Transportation Safety Plan the following week. That plan was last updated in 2012.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Six neat charts from Metro’s new report about Portland-area transportation

Six neat charts from Metro’s new report about Portland-area transportation

Commute vs All Trips_0

We hear more often about commute trips, but people’s trips to stores, schools, parks and friends look quite a bit different.
(All charts via Metro)

Metro is the only elected regional government in the United States. It’s also got one of the most interesting government communications teams in the country. Like MLB.com, Metro hires people to write journalism-style coverage of itself.

For its latest project, a four-part “regional snapshot” about transportation, the agency pulled out all the stops: original tilt-shift photography, narrative video, text drawn from at least a dozen interviews and a whole quiver of custom-made infographics. If you want a single overview on the basics of the region’s transportation situation, I’ve never seen a better one.

Here on BikePortland, we’re going to take advantage of this government-generated content and share a few of the many eye-opening charts Metro shared in the post. Here’s one about home and job locations that shows how interconnected, and yet different, the metro area’s four counties are:

Commuting-flow-by-county-3







Here’s a look at the Portland area’s unusual success in reducing auto usage … but note that the vertical axis doesn’t start at zero. The region isn’t so much of an outlier that we look impressive unless you zoom in.

chart

Here’s one that busts the persistent myth that people of color “don’t bike” and putting other modes in context:

ModeSplit_Nonwhite_vs_white_0

This chart shows how the Portland area is beating many peers on the metrics that matter most during rush hour: how much time and mileage it takes to get to work. (Sadly, the federal government that funds Metro’s transportation work continues to act as if the thing that matters is the velocity at which cars are moving — that’s not the same thing at all.)

chart (1)

And here’s a look at one of the big forces behind the idea that “more highways = more jobs”: truck freight. Freight has long been a significant part of Portland’s economy, and it still is — because even though the number of actual trucks is falling, the value of the stuff they’re carrying is going up.

Value_to_Weight_0

Those are just a few of the insights to be found in Metro’s big, beautiful report. Check it out — you did pay for it, after all.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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Metro Council unanimously backs mountain biking trails north of Forest Park

Metro Council unanimously backs mountain biking trails north of Forest Park

tualatinmap

Portland’s regional government unanimously approved a plan to allow mountain biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains Natural Area Thursday in a session that gushed with praise.

“This project took a lot more work than I thought it was going to,” said Metro Councilor Sam Chase, whose district includes the natural area just north of Forest Park, to chuckles around the room. “We have really come to a fantastic place.”

The vote came despite organized objections from a cluster of people who live nearby, in some cases with property immediately bordering the public land. As we reported last week, some of them held a protest outside Metro’s headquarters to argue that allowing mountain biking trails in the natural area would do undue harm to local wildlife.

“Yes, any time a human being enters a natural area, that has an impact on the environment,” Chase conceded Thursday. “But by creating access, we’re also creating stewards for this natural area.”

Allowing limited development enough to let the public enjoy a natural area also helps the environment by reducing pressure for urban sprawl, Chase said: “It allows us to have a compact urban form, because instead of everybody having to have their own big backyard, we all share a big backyard.”

metro council

Metro President Tom Hughes speaks Thursday in favor of the trail plan.

Outside Metro’s council chambers after the vote, people exchanged hugs and high fives.

“I’m so proud of our members for handling this process in an adult, professional way,” said Andrew Jansky of the Northwest Trail Alliance, who was the only member of the public to testify at Thursday’s meeting.

Jansky, the mountain-bike recreation group’s advocacy chair, said Metro’s plan was a milestone in part because it’s the first time a Portland-area agency has validated “the idea that bikes and nature are compatible.”

“It’s always been thought that bikes and nature can’t coexist,” he said. “This planning effort shows that they can coexist and are not mutually exclusive.”

You can read about the possible routes planned for the area here.







Shirley Craddick, who represents East Multnomah County on the council, was the only council member to express some skepticism of the plan, which she said emerged from public testimony last week from people who oppose biking trails in the area.

“I thought all of those comments were really valid, and I have to say I left the hearing with some skepticism, saying is this really the right plan?” Craddick said. But the arguments from Metro staff that biking trails can be designed in a way that will be sensitive to wildlife habitat won her over.

“This is a master plan,” she said. “It begins the process.”

The other six Metro councilors expressed less ambivalence.

“This is a great plan,” said Kathryn Harrington, who represents western Washington County. “I am thrilled with it.”

“People are passionate about this land and they have different ideas for how to make the most of it,” said Dan Moeller, Metro’s conservation program director and the top staffer on the project. “Whether you’re a neighbor, a hiker, a cyclist, a conservation advocate or some combination of those, you’re an important part of Metro’s work going forward. Together, we will serve as stewards of the North Tualatin Mountains.”

mcnameemetro

One of the existing entrances to the North Tualatin Mountains on NW McNamee Road just up from Highway 30 in Burlington.

Jansky, the biking trail advocate, said the advocates who joined forces to support the Metro plan will be better citizens because of this debate.

“They are the future policy regulators, city staffers, planners, voters,” Jansky said. “That younger generation is going to move in with this attitude, and probably in 10 years we’re going to look back and say, ‘Why did this take so long in Portland?’”

Jansky warned that this plan will now need to be followed up with a land-use process to arrive at the details of where the trails will go. It could involve quasi-judicial review by the county government.

“This could just be the false summit,” he said. “We’re going to need members to still be engaged and still provide support for Metro through that process. There will be more public comment opportunities in the Multnomah County land use process. So we can’t quit and rest on our laurels and think that we’re going to be riding on trails in two years. I think that’s an easy mistake to make.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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