Portland Bike Plan: Too Expensive or Playing with numbers?
The Oregonian today published a front page article that questioned if Portland can afford $613M over 20 years to improve bicycle routes (Portland Bike Plan goes before City Council, but can the city afford it?). They compared this to the cost of the MAX Green Line of $575 or the annual transportation budget of $630 million for all of Portland.
Shocking numbers, and they must have intended to shock because they downplayed some basic math.
First, the big number isn't really that big: $613 million over 20 years is $30.65 million a year or 4.8% of the current budget. They say that 6.4% of Portlanders commute by bike; so we're under serving the bike population with no increase in ridership. Regardless of the fact the plan is intended to greatly increase ridership, that 6.4% also ignores casual cycling and non-commuter trips.
Then there's comparing apples to mushy brussels sprouts. The MAX Green Line is 6.5 miles, as opposed to the 681 miles of bikeways proposed in the plan. And, the development of the MAX line greatly improved the I205 bike lane, getting bikes off the road surface in dangerous places like Foster Road or Powell Blvd. which makes me question how much of that budget would have been defrayed with this plan.
At the very end of the article they quote 'Geller' (who's credit was somehow cut from the article but must be Roger Geller, the City Bicycle Coordinator in the Office of the Director, Transportation Planning Division) where he mentions that $630 million would only pay for 12 miles of urban freeway.
12 miles of freeway, 6.5 miles of light rail, or 681 miles of bikeways, but the Oregonian presents it as 'too expensive'
What do they teach in these schools these days…