This week's bicycle news, peddled from Portland
It's a rare summer week in Portland when there's no bike news. Most nights find a community meeting going on somewhere to debate a new bike path, push for improved signage and the like; there's always new blogger footage of naked bike riders (one with music written just for the occasion) and other cultural attractions, as well as TV coverage of the occasional big-headline accident, which prompts renewed squabbles over how sincere we really are in our Share-the-Road attitudes. Some current items are noteworthy: The Portland Tribune's update on the city's developing bicycle master plan acknowledges the aggressive push for bike amenities – paths, lanes, bridges closed to all but bikes, and so on. Yet it also points out that not everyone who loves a good pedal around town is amped on the same ideas. The Trib's Jennifer Anderson interviewed Craig Flynn, a local who weighs in around town on transit stuff (he hit the airwaves in 2002, running for Metro Council. Didn't win; keeps speaking out) who is one such doubter. She quotes Flynn as saying bikers and others who want paths, bridges, lanes, and so on for the pedaling hordes must figure out ways to fund them, rather than expect the city to pony up. Of course, this brings out the Trib's reader-bloggers, responding with vigor. "Squire" does a swell job of summing up the biker-power view: To all you car huggers out there; I'll tell you what. I'll register my bicycle and pay for a license and tabs at the exact same rate you pay for your oversized Hummers and Excursions "IF" you put a bike lane and bicycle traffic controls on every last street in the city of Portland. Since your license and tabs gives you that right, I expect no less for my bicycle. "Bob" challenges the notion (often treated as gospel in news articles) that Portland's bike master plan will result in gridlock melt: What will ultimately happen is this ... the city of Portland will spend millions over the years to get more "butts on bikes". It will have NO impact on congestion. Instead, it will be a financial boondoggle with no real impact. Meanwhile, the self-righteous "I hate everything to do with cars and roads" crowd will continue to delude themselves into thinking that more money is needed to get 300,000 people (HA!) onto bikes. Meanwhile, the Portland Business Journal reports on the latest talk around a proposal first aired last year, to move the Sauvie Island Bridge (rather than build a new span) to link the Pearl District and the trendy Northwest neighborhood via a "bicycle boulevard" on Northwest Flanders Street. The Pearl District Neighborhood Association has enthusiastically pledged to help raise money to defray the projected $5 million it would cost to do this, says the biz paper. There are few, if any, factions in Portland with better organization or more zeal than the lobby for better biking infrastructure. Leadership change in one key organization, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is in the news, too. Evan Manvel has stepped down as exec director after two years that saw dramatic increase in BTA's clout in Portland. Accomplishments on his watch are listed on the BTA blog, including wresting master-plan funding out of City Hall and (as this piece proves) "dramatically expanded media outreach, getting scores of stories in print, on television, on radio and on-line."