Friday, February 05, 2010

Portland ready for a bicycle revolution

TRANSPORTATION. It has been called “Copenhagen on the Willamette”, after the bicycle-loving Danish capital. Now Portland, Oregon, is set to boost its reputation as a most unusual major American city by adopting an ambitious bicycle plan for the future.
City commissioners were expected to adopt the 2030 Portland Bicycle Plan yesterday, but after three hours of presentations and testimony the vote was postponed for a week, reports the Oregonian newspaper’s on-line edition.
Mayor Sam Adams was quick to assure supporters of the plan, several hundred of them held a rally outside City Hall, that “this is going to pass, folks”.
The 600 million dollar plan would be the most ambitious investment in bicycling anywhere in the United States. The goal is to have 25 percent of Portland commuters take the bike by 2030.
In today’s Copenhagen, often considered as the “bicycle capital of the world”, a third of all trips to and from work and school in the city are taken on two wheels. But in car-dependent America, Portland’s goals must be seen as almost revolutionary.
Data from 2008 showed 6.4 percent of Portlanders took their bikes to work, already a very high figure by American standards.
The 2030 Portland Bicycle Plan calls for the construction of nearly 700 miles (1,120 kilometres) of new bikeways over the next 20 years. The city now has some 300 miles (480 kilometres) in its bikeway network, developed since the adoption of the first Bicycle Master Plan in 1996.
In the proposed new plan’s vision of a future Portland bicycling will no longer be seen as an “oddity”.
“Portland residents do not identify themselves as ‘bicyclists’, but as users of a preferred means of transportation for regular daily activities”, the plan says.
Ask any urban activist in America to point out a city to look up to, and Portland will surely be mentioned first. The Bicycle Plan, if adopted, will set a new standard for visionary urban planning in the U.S.
“Our intentions are to be as sustainable city as possible. That means socially, that means environmentally and that means economically. The bike is great on all three of those factors. You just can’t get a better transportation return on your investment than you get with promoting bicycling”, says Mayor Sam Adams in the plan.

Copyright: Travel Portland/Brent Bradley
Portland, Oregon: "Copenhagen on the Willamette."

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