Cycling in Portland, Oregon
Bicycle use in Portland, Oregon has been growing rapidly, having nearly tripled since 2001; for example, bicycle traffic on four of the Willamette River bridges has increased from 2,855 before 1992 to over 16,000 in 2008, partly due to improved facilities. The Portland Bureau of Transportation says 6% of commuters bike to work in Portland, the highest proportion of any major U.S. city and about 10 times the national average.
Due to its urban bicycling efforts, Portland has earned multiple "bicycle-friendly city" awards, including being awarded platinum status by the League of American Bicyclists, and it ranks highly among the most bicycle friendly cities in the world.
On July 19, 2016, Portland will debut a bike share program running with 1,000 bikes, named "Biketown" because of a naming rights deal with Nike. The new bikes will be provided by Social Bicycles, and will be operated by Motivate. The funds will come from a $10 million sponsorship program from Nike, which is based in Portland.
Portland's reputation as a bike-friendly City was enhanced by The Yellow Bike Project, a 1994 civic engagement action led by local activists Tom O'Keefe and Joe Keating. O'Keefe proposed painting donated bikes – repaired by at-risk-youth served by the Community Cycling Center – bright yellow, and deploying them for free use around Portland. O'Keefe cited the Provo movement's White Bicycle Plan in Amsterdam as inspiration after watching the documentary "Sex Drugs & Democracy". "Gratis Pedalis Feralvus" was a tongue-in-cheek slogan for the quirky eco-transportation project. About a dozen yellow bikes, painted for free by a local auto body shop were launched. Eventually 60 to 100 bicycles were part of the project. Ultimately the project failed after bikes were stolen, vandalized, or thrown into the Willamette River.
Bicycle Transportation Alliance
The bicycle revolution in Portland started taking off with the founding of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in November 1990. The first project of the BTA was persuading TriMet, the regional transit agency, to carry bicycles on its buses and light rail trains. BTA gathered over 7000 signatures and the support of numerous local city councils, prompting TriMet to conduct a one-year trial on a few bus lines. After a year of no significant problems and an increase in transit ridership by cyclists, TriMet instituted the first 100% bicycle accessible major transit system in the U.S. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance grew into one of the most effective cycling advocacy organizations in the U.S. The BTA focused on making major streets safe for cycling by advocating bicycle lanes, improvements to all seven pedestrian-accessible Willamette River bridges linking the downtown to the rest of the city and for safe, secure bicycle parking. In 1992, BTA successfully sued the City of Portland under ORS 366.514, the Oregon "Bicycle Bill," forcing the City to provide bicycle facilities as part of all projects. The City appealed this to the Oregon Court of Appeals which upheld the BTA's position, solidifying the responsibility of all governments in Oregon to provide safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities in all projects.
Portland Bike Plan
Interest in city transportation planning began in the early 1970s after the state of Oregon passed comprehensive state land use laws with the city of Portland drafting its first 'Bicycle Master Plan' in 1973.
The city's first bike plan that was adopted in 1973, titled the '1973 Portland Bike Plan', called for nearly 190 miles of bicycle infrastructure to be built in the city and created a citizen's Bicycle Advisory Committee along with a Bicycle Program within the city’s Transportation Bureau.
By 1996, after the city had created the nearly 190 miles of initial bicycle infrastructure from the first plan, the city adopted its second bike plan in 1996, titled the 'Portland Bicycle Master Plan', which called for an additional 445 miles of bicycle infrastructure to be built over the next 20 years (cumulative of 630 miles by 2016).
The city revised its bicycle plan again in February 2010 when the Portland City Council unanimously adopted its third bike plan, titled the 'Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030', which called for $613 million of spending on bicycle infrastructure over the next 20 years to expand the bicycle infrastructure target from 630 miles by 2016 to 962 miles by 2030 and increase the daily bicycle modal share from the current 7-8% to 25% by 2030. With only about 300 miles of bicycle infrastructure built by the end of 2009, the plan sets a target of building 662 miles of new bicycle infrastructure in the city over the next 20 years.
With enabling legislation from the 2011 session, Portland lowered speed limits from 25 to 20 miles per hour (40 to 32 km/h) on 70 miles (110 km) of designated neighborhood greenway streets to increase safety for increasingly heavy use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
Portland is developing a network of bicycle boulevards to make cycling easier and safer. The east side of Portland is particularly well-suited for this technique due to its consistent grid of north/south and east/west streets. The boulevards are defined with a combination of street markings, signs, and better signals for crossing busy intersections.
Another route is the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade.
In order to try to prevent car-bike crashes the city has painted sections of hazardous bike lanes blue.
An important milestone in Portland's utility cycling infrastructure was the expansion of the sidewalks of Hawthorne Bridge in 1997, which significantly improved the safety and ease of bicycle commuting across the Willamette River.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance sponsors an annual Bike Commute Challenge, in which thousands of commuters compete for prizes and recognition based on the length and frequency of their commutes.
|Portland bike c. share||1.2%||1.8%||3.5%||6.0%||7.2%|
|National bike c. share||0.4%||0.4%||0.4%||0.5%||0.6%|
- Portland Bicycle Counts 2008 (PDF), City of Portland
- Weise, Elizabeth (September 9, 2012), "In Portland, Ore., bikes rule the road", USA Today, retrieved September 18, 2012
- MSNBC North America's most bike-friendly cities
- Bicycling magazine, Best Cities for Cycling (2008)
- Scan of 2006 Bicycling magazine Best Cities for Cycling
- "League Names Portland a Platinum Community". League of American Bicyclists. April 29, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
- Portland Tribune: Bike group gives Portland 'platinum' award
- "11 Most Bike Friendly Cities in the World – Bicycle friendly cities". Virgin Vacations. Virgin Airlines. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
- "8 Best Cities for Cyclists". SpareFoot. May 19, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- Njus, Elliot (September 23, 2015). "Portland City Council signs off on new bike-share program". OregonLive. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
- "Portland inks $10 million "Biketown" deal with Nike as title sponsor of bike share system". BikePortland.org. 2016-01-07. Retrieved 2016-05-21.
- Don Ryan (December 9, 1994). "Portland Journal; Where Trust Rides a Yellow Bicycle". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-06.
- Stites, Sam (28 August 2012). "Bike-Share Snare". Willamette Week. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
- Rose, Joseph (21 January 2016). "Remembering Portland's disastrous Yellow Bike Project". OregonLive.com. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
- "Portland's Bicycle Revolution Started with a Lawsuit!". Huffington Post. September 4, 2013.
- Initiative for Bicycle & Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) (2010). "The Portland Bicycle Story" (PDF). Portland State University. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
- Bob Mionske (2010-02-14). "Road Rights- Your City Versus My City". BicycleLaw. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
- Rose, Joseph (2010-02-11). "Portland's 2030 bicycle plan coasts to approval". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
- "Some speed limits in Portland lowered to 20 mph". KATU. August 24, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
- BTA: Bicycle Boulevards Campaign
- Blue Bike Lanes Report, City of Portland
- Bike Boxes, City of Portland
- Morrison Bridge Bicycle & Pedestrian Improvements, Multnomah County
- Rose, Joseph (March 30, 2010). "Multnomah County opens new pedestrian, bike path across Morrison Bridge". The Oregonian. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
- Morrison Bridge Bike Path Opens Today, The Portland Mercury
- Hawthorne Boulevard Project, City of Portland
- Bicycle Commute Challenge information
- "2000 to 2010 bike commuters_largest 70 (2)". League of American Bicyclists. 2011. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
- "Copy-of-1990-to-2011-bike-commuters_largest-70". League of American Bicyclists. 2012-10-12. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
- Ken (2013-09-25). "ACS: Bike Commuting Continues to Rise". League of American Bicyclists. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- Ken McLeod (2015-09-17). "New Data: Bike Commuting Growing Steadily". League of American Bicyclists. Retrieved 2015-09-24.
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