Many Voices Speaking In Support of Bike Share

This is an exciting moment for active transportation and for the bicycle movement. Tomorrow, Portland City Council will vote to move forward with three of five great active transportation projects using funds from Metro’s Regional Flexible Funding pot.

The BTA supports all five projects competing for funding to make biking, walking, and transit improvements around the region. Unfortunately, not all five projects can get funding at this moment in time. That leaves us with a tough choice. While we support all five projects, the BTA’s mission is to make bicycling safe, convenient, and accessible.

We see a clear opportunity to set the bar higher for bicycling in Portland with bike sharing.

Capital Bike Share
Capital Bike Share in Washington, DC. Image courtesy of Alta Bicycle Share, Inc.

You may have already heard that some of our very best friends are considering testifying against regional flexible funds for a new bike sharing program in the Portland. It’s expected that active transportation advocates will have different perspectives about how to prioritize funding for great projects. It’s unfortunate to see partners fight amongst themselves over limited funding. One thing is crystal clear: we don’t have enough dedicated funding to build the bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit stations we desperately need.

Instead of arguing with our allies, we should be working together to increase funding for active transportation at every level of government. Whatever the outcome, I believe we can emerge stronger and ready to work together.

However, we think our friends’ criticisms are pointed in the wrong direction in this debate. Bike sharing is an absolutely fantastic way to encourage more people to ride bikes, decrease congestion and pollution, increase safety, and possibly even save lives while improving public health, adding jobs to our flagging economy, and increasing mobility in destination rich downtown.

It is a shame that the BTA has been pitted against other active transportation, public health, and transit advocates in this debate. Bike sharing in Portland is a win on many levels.

The community has shown widespread support for bike sharing
Consider the list of businesses and organizations that have given official support to funding the bike share project with Regional Flexible Funds:

Travel Portland
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
New Avenues for Youth
Portland Streetcar
Portland Sustainability Institute
Lloyd District Transportation Management Association
Portland Metropolitan Building Owners and Managers Association
Portland Business Alliance
South Waterfront Transportation Management Association
Portland State University
Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield — lead private sponsor

And then consider the voices of 1,124 people who signed our petition in support of Regional Flexible Funding for bike sharing. Here are a few comments that were submitted by community members from around Portland and the state of Oregon.

This would be so rad, and so needed. Yes lots of us have bikes, but there are lots of folks, tourists included, who could enjoy the benefits of this!
- Stacy, Portland

In addition to the people of Portland benefiting from a bike share program seeing the city by bike is a great opportunity for tourists. I recently visited Washington DC which has a bike share program and saw a lot of tourists using the bikes as well as locals. With the excellent bike infrastructure in Portland its hard to understand why a much more bike unfriendly city (high traffic, multiple traffic circles and difficult to navigate streets, very few bike lanes / signage) like DC would have a program in place while Portland lags behind. It also provides business opportunities; the DC hotel I was staying at had a special giving guests access to the bike share during their stay. Thanks for your consideration!
-Jennifer, Portland

Please provide the city of Portland with appropriate funding to allow for bike sharing to prosper! Thanks.
-Dennis J. Fiore, Portland

I saw one in Paris shortly after instituted. Wonderful way to go.
-Rachel, Portland

We have collected hundreds and hundreds of excited comments from our members and supporters and well over 1000 people who jumped at the chance to express their support for bike sharing.

Flexible funds are the right kind of funds for bike sharing
One of the things we are hearing is that Regional Flexible Funds are not the right “color of money” to use for bike sharing. That is absolutely a misguided argument. Take a look at the criteria in Metro’s Regional Flexible Funds Allocation guidelines:

Table from Metro’s Regional Flexible Funds Allocation guidelines (PDF).

• Bike sharing in Portland will improve access to and from destinations within the most mixed use center that has the highest employment density and a large number of essential services for undeserved communities.

• Bike sharing improves safety. Research shows that when more people ride we are all safer and may actually live longer.

• Bike sharing in the central city will certainly improve access to essential services and, if the city is smart about job training like New Avenues for Youth is advocating, it will provide 30-50 new jobs that may serve an at-risk population.

• Bike sharing will reduce conflicts with freight by meeting one of the key goals we share among bikes and trucks… reducing the number of automobiles congesting our roads.

• Bike sharing completes thousands of “last mile” connections. Every time you ride a bus or train or streetcar and need to make a transfer, imagine being able to hop on a bike instead.

• Bike sharing increases ridership, it will serve our most dense neighborhood, it leverages private investment, and reduces the need to expand our roads.

Now is the time to fund bike sharing in Portland.

Please join us at Portland City Council on Wednesday, August 17th at 10:00am to testify in support of allocating federal funds towards this exciting new program. Show your strong support for bike sharing as well as your support for the other great active transportation projects on the list.

If you are unable to testify, send an email to:

mayorsam@portlandoregon.gov
nick@portlandoregon.gov
amanda@portlandoregon.gov
randy@portlandoregon.gov
dan@portlandoregon.gov

Thank you for taking a moment to add your voice to this important conversation.

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