Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More Biking Lessons from Portland

Portland’s 2030 Bicycle Master Plan, unanimously adopted by the city council earlier this year, envisions Portland as “a world class bicycling city” by tripling the overall mileage of bikeways in the hopes of encouraging even more people to ride. Meanwhile Metro, a government body elected by the entire metropolitan area, is enacting a plan to triple the number of people biking throughout the region over the next 30 years. Their target goal is that 40 percent of all trips of 3 miles or less in the city and suburbs would be done atop a bike by 2040.
“In some neighborhoods in Portland, 10-15 percent of people already bike each day,” notes Lake McTighe, manager of Metro’s Active Transportation Partnership, “which means that we could be making parts of Portland into a mini-Amsterdam or Copenhagen.”
For those who say that people living in outlying suburbs will never bike in large numbers, McTighe answers by quoting from a study by the National Association of Realtors showing that the second most desired amenity homebuyers want today is access to biking and walking trails. (Access to a freeway is first, proving that it’s not question of bikes vs. cars in most people’s minds.)
Both the city’s and Metro’s plans signal a strategic shift in bicycle planning—a new push to serve more than the 8-10 percent of people who feel at ease biking today. Portland is now focusing on meeting the needs of the 60 percent of people who report in surveys that they’re interested in biking more but feel nervous doing it on streets with cars zooming past. 
This means reaching beyond the young, macho, ultra-fit white men we typically think of as urban bikers to broaden the appeal for women, families, middle-aged and non-white riders. In the Netherlands, for instance, where 27 percent of all trips nationally are made on two wheels (and up to 50% or more of all trips are pedal-powered in some urban centers), more women ride than men. Even among people over 75, a quarter of all trips are on bike.
The best way to get more people on bikes, according to Portland officials, is to make biking seem less scary.  

Portland bike box, by Beach650
Portland bike trips 2009, by Matt.Picio

more biking posts:

Sydney Cycle Strategy: Building a Bicycle Friendly City

The real story on Charlestown's bike lane removal

Kane County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan

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