A recent news release from Portland’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance announced a small but potentially very significant victory for bike safety in our city. “Thanks to coordinated advocacy work on the part of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Multnomah County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizen Advisory Committee, fixes to heavy congestion and bike/pedestrian conflicts on Portland’s bridges may be on the horizon,” the BTA says.
The BTA reports that two important projects have been added to the county’s plans for infrastructure upgrades as part of the Willamette Bridge Capital Improvement Plan: a $1.4 million “planning study to identify bike/ped capacity improvements” and $32.6 million in overall design and construction improvements. Equally important, the BTA announced it had been formally informed by the county that these particular projects “have been moved to a timeline that better reflects their urgency” – meaning that cyclists may see progress within five years, as opposed to the six to ten year timetable originally anticipated.
The plan now goes to the Multnomah County commissioners for consideration next month. Sounding a cautionary note, however, the BTA warns that “if it is passed, the next challenge will be to identify funding that will pay for these two projects.”
The BTA notes that in 1999 the sidewalks on the Hawthorne Bridge were widened from six to ten feet “in order to more safely accommodate the growing number of people walking and biking across the bridge.” Within a decade “bicycle traffic on the Hawthorne had increased 224% and a congestion-related crash prompted us to remind riders to slow down, give audible warnings, and encourage planners to design even wider paths in the future.” Last week’s announcement brings that aspiration a step closer to becoming reality.
As a Portland bicycle accident lawyer I am thrilled to be able to share this sort of news with my readers. Portland’s reputation as one of the most bike-friendly cities in America is well-deserved, but there is always room for improvement. It is good to see county planning authorities appearing to share that view.
Oregon Bicycle Transportation Alliance: County Amends Bridge Plan to Address BTA/Advisory Committee Concerns