© 2016 By Carl Larson

Many images courtesy of bikeportland.org. Thanks Jonathan!

Blueprint for World-Class Bicycling

public engagement, bike network completion

In 2005, Oregon's largest bicycle advocacy group, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance released "The Blueprint for Better Biking," a list of 40 projects that they said would transform bicycling in Portland. Six years later, we released a status update: half of those projects were in some stage progress but only nine of them were complete. Meanwhile, the organization was receiving criticism for focusing our efforts on inner Portland and doing very little for outer Portland and the surrounding suburbs. We needed a new blueprint – a short but ambitious list of projects that we could realistically tackle. They had to be well distributed across the metro-area and take into account not just our members' feedback but also statistics about where bikeway network investments were needed most. 

The result was released in 2013: The Blueprint for World-Class Bicycling. Rather than a Portland-centric list of 40 projects, the 2013 plan had just 16 spread evenly across the tri-county area. I was part of the team that spent hours scribbling on flip charts, writing and processing surveys, and scouring state-mandated TSPs (transportation system plans). We eventually boiled it all down to 16 projects in four distinct categories: 

  • FIX IT: fix those missing links, like bridges and arterial crossings, where bike lanes just disappear

  • MAKE BIG STREETS SAFE: install physically protected bikeways on busy state roads and commercial corridors

  • CREATE NEIGHBORHOOD GREENWAYS: expand our network of low-stress neighborhood streets to the suburbs

  • BUILD INSPIRING TRAILS: build key active transportation superhighways to connect cities and boost tourism

With this short list of projects, we were able to focus our efforts and say "no" to distractions.

My projects were diverse and rewarding. In my pursuit of blueprint advocacy goals, I:

Progress has been steady – far more steady than it would be had we not stepped back, asked the right questions, and created a clear, concise plan of attack.