Portland’s $600 million biking plan

Portland’s $600 million biking plan

(this got stuck away in the ‘filed for later’ bin and I’m cleaning them out)

I’m not one that writes to reps often, but lately I sure have been.  Especially after Portland just passed a $600 million biking expansion plan in Portland.  Now I’m a fan of biking and exploring alternative transportation – but Oregon just forced a ballot measure vote on two new ‘Emergency’ tax increases to pay for basic services such as schools – both of which passed.  I have a really terrible time looking at people spending $600 million on these sorts of plans when basic services are in emergency mode.  But at any rate, there’s more to the story.

A few facts:
$600 million plan is a 20 year plan, and it is not actually funded yet.  It was just passed with funding to be figured out in the next 30-90 days.  The mayor is quoted as saying that his first thought on funding will be that once the big pipe project is finished, he’ll start diverting money from that project.  Problem is (as one writer pointed out), that money comes directly from water and sewage bills that were raised to nation-high levels to fund big pipe.  So, instead of dropping your taxes after big-pipe is fixed, your water bill would now start funding a bike project.

A few very notable and interesting quotes from sites:

“I propose that one way to help pay for these biking and pedestrian programs would be to license bikes with a yearly fee.  I think we could also increase public safety if the bikes also had to get a quick mechanical and safety check just like a car is required to pass.  It could also be used to ensure the rider has a proper helmet, lights for night riding, reflective gear, and other legally required safety equipment.  We have a lot of local bike shops in the area; and they could check out these bikes and issue these simple sticker permits that are attached to the bike like a yearly license plate sticker showing I’m up to date.  If the permits were numbered, it would also be a good way to track stolen bikes.  It would certainly help create and/or keep jobs at these local bike shops – especially in these tough times.”

(to the Portland Transportation commissioner) “Your choices as Transportation Commissioner openly, blatantly, and consistently discriminate against my use of TriMet’s bus system to get around.  As Transportation Commissioner, you have blamed buses for street conditions, when buses are but a small user of the road system.  You have openly, actively sought out regional transportation funds serving cities as diverse as Troutdale, Forest Grove and Sherwood to fund the Portland Streetcar – a development project that was somehow tied to transportation and thus raided money used to improve the bus system. And you demand TriMet pay $3 million a year to subsidize that system – that’s $3 million a year not going to regional transportation.

And then you have the gall to say we can’t afford another pet project. Remember: Portland extends from Raleigh Hills to Gresham. And it’s your job, as Mayor, to represent – and support – each one of those citizens. That means that guy living on S.E. 163rd Avenue is just as much a Portland resident as one downtown – and deserves an equal amount of investment (since you take an equal amount of taxes from them).

Now: Can we afford your bike plan – AND meet your promise to your constituents at the same time? Or are you playing favorites with your special interest groups again?”

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