Case Study: Portland Oregon

There are only 3 cities in the US that have achieved platinum level certification by the League of American Bicyclists; Davis, CA, Boulder City, CO, and Portland, OR. What have these cities done to promote biking and walking that can be applied in the San Fernando Valley? For one thing, they have a plan!

Here is the City of Portland’s Bicycle Plan for 2030

Attract new riders

Plan and design for people who are not yet riding by developing safe and comfortable low-stress bikeways (such as bicycle boulevards and trails) that reduce conflicts between people riding bicycles and people driving.

Strengthen bicycle policies

Adopt policy changes outlined in the Plan, including a new bicycle transportation policy of making bicycling more attractive than driving for short trips.

Form a denser bikeway network

Expand the network of bikeways in Portland to achieve a fine-grained system that offers riders an array of route choices.

Increase bicycle parking

Implement measures to satisfy the growing demand for bike parking.

Expand programs to support bicycling

Expand established programs, and develop new programs, to encourage and support bicycling.

Increase funding for bicycle facilities

Pursue multiple strategies to increase funding for bicycle facilities and other green transportation modes.

Dedicated bike paths (CA Class II Bike Paths) are probably something we cannot make in the San Fernando Valley, with the exception of the right-of-way adjacent to the Metro Orange Line. This is due to the built out nature of the Valley. What we can do is exactly what Portland began a few decades ago. Here are some examples.

Bicycle Boulevards

Portland has created Bicycle Boulevards by using traffic calming/diverting techniques in order to decrease automobile traffic to create a safer, less stressful environment for bicyclists. What’s interesting about this example is that these Bike Boulevards were created because residents and neighborhoods wanted them! These citizens were proactive about wanting better facilities in their neighborhoods and they got them.

Cycle Track & Buffered Bike Lanes

Portland has also done a good job at considering ways to make the commute less stressful for both bikes and motorists. One particularly clever thing I thought they did was to shift the location of the bike lane and parking spots for cars. In doing so, Portland has created a street where bikes are buffered from fast moving automobile traffic, and fast moving cars are buffered from slower moving bikes by a row of parked cars!

Now I am not a biking enthusiast. I am realistic. You have a car to get to places when you need to transport a lot of stuff, or when you want to get somewhere fast, or for longer trips. The problem is, the car is practically the ONLY option for convenient travel in the Valley. I drive my car because there are no other convenient options. By creating complete streets, we can bring convenience to biking and walking. By reclaiming our streets, we open up the possibility for other modes of transportation to flourish so that we do not become slaves to our cars.

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