News, updates, commentary and more from BikeAthens. BikeAthens is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Athens, GA. BikeAthens promotes transportation and land-use policies that improve alternative modes of transportation, including pedestrian, cycling, and public transit options. The mission of our organization is to make alternative transportation a practical, convenient, and safe option for all citizens of Athens-Clarke County.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to emulate Portland

This week, Flagpole columnist Kevan Williams describes a number of ways Athens could follow the lead of Portland, OR in improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. New Commission, take note!

For the rest of us, let's make a concerted effort to tell MACORTS about our desire for this kind of sustainable transportation equality.

In Portland, drivers stop at crosswalks, even without flashing lights and neon bollards. ... It would take a lot of enforcement to ingrain that pedestrians always have the right-of-way here in the South, but the payoff is worth it: it slows everyone down, and puts drivers in a situation where they ought to be looking for pedestrians, instead of driving through and idling in crosswalks while trying to turn.

Certain routes within Portland are designated as bike routes, regardless of the infrastructure in place. Even if there are no bike lanes or “sharrows,” a flat side street could be made an official bike route. Imagine if BikeAthens’ bike map were adopted by the city, and those routes which were good for bicycling were then signed by the city to guide bicyclists.

In Portland, what we would call greenway trails are considered an important transportation network, just like rail and roads. There is a comprehensive system of off-street bicycle trails, in some cases extending miles without crossing a street. These don’t just follow the rivers, but also rail lines, transmission lines, highways and other easements where access is already limited. Most importantly, these routes actually go places, and are fed by on-street bicycle routes in a logical manner.

Bringing It Home: Portland is a city that’s a lot like Athens; it’s not a metropolis of especially tall buildings, and its greatest strength lies in its walkable neighborhoods. Basic services in Portland can be reached by bicycle on a neighborhood scale just as easily as can thousands of workplaces downtown on a citywide scale. The neat thing is that most of it isn’t done through huge infrastructure and park projects; there seems to be a commitment to a bottom-up approach, which focuses on making neighborhoods and side streets safe to walk first, and then builds up into an entire city of cyclists. After all, if people don’t feel safe crossing the street at the end of their block, they won’t be biking across town on a greenway.

Full article here.

No comments: