Warning – cycling nerdiness below.
Do you enjoy cycling in the Melbourne CBD?
The City of Melbourne’s draft transport plan has a target of 6% of all trips to the municipality being by bike by 2016 and 12% by 2030. It observes, that [obviously] the main thing that stops people riding is a feeling that they’re not safe.
The council is now writing a new five year bike plan. Here’s the old 2007-2011 one, which had a target of 10% mode split by bike to the CBD during the morning peak by 2011.
I’m not sure if they’ve achieved this target; the Bicycle Account, set up as a way to measure whether the bike plan was working, hasn’t been done since 2008. The account claims that between 7am and 10am, 9% of all road vehicles in the CBD, Docklands, and Southbank were bikes.
Not exactly the same measurement used in the Bike Plan target, and as the figures are partly based on the annual Bicycle Victoria Super Tuesday count, which BV promotes fiercely each year, it may be overestimated. Still, it does suggest they’re probably meeting their (unambitious) target.
Bureaucratic vision in Portland
Portland’s local government has looked after its bike riders by investing in safe bike lanes and parking, providing good information about cycling routes and facilities, making bike-safe laws and policies, and educating drivers.
These efforts have seen cyclist computers triple since 2001. In 2008, 8% of people rode to work by bikes (admittedly not that more than Melbourne, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the statistics have a slightly stronger evidence base). 18 per cent of Portlanders use their bicycles as either their primary (8 per cent) or secondary (10 per cent) means of transportation to work.
Here is the vision statement in Portland’s 2030 Bike Plan, which is about 250 pages long (Melbourne’s bike plan is 50 pages). An example of bureaucrats with vision. Whether they get there or not is another matter, but at least they know where they want to end up.
I particularly love the coupling of ‘safe and splendid’ at the end – offseting the impact of a boring adjective with a wonderful one. Unfortunately this is about as good as bureaucratic rhetoric gets.
Portland in the Year 2030. It is the year 2030, and Portland looks much different than it did a generation ago. By sharply reducing reliance on personal auto use, Portland significantly lowered its carbon footprint, eased traffic congestion, improved air quality and enhanced public health. One of the community’s most valuable assets – the public right-of-way – was reclaimed for all Portland residents. By repurposing much of this space for pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit, freight use and green infrastructure, Portland streets more efficiently move people and goods, filter and clean stormwater, absorb emissions and improve Portland’s health, safety and livability.
Bicycling is now a fundamental pillar of Portland’s fully integrated transportation system, with more than a quarter of all daily trips taken by bicycle on the city’s worldrenowned bikeway network. Residents and visitors know they can readily find a low-stress, effi cient and comfortable facility – be it a bicycle boulevard, bike lane, cycle track, paved trail, natural surface trail or other well-designed, maintained and marketed bikeway – to get from where they are to where they want to go. As a whole, Portland’s cohesive tapestry of bikeways forms the hub of a vibrant regional active transportation network.
With a foundation in bicycling as a normal means of transportation, the youth of Portland’s early 21st century Safe Routes to School program have matured, resulting in a Portland that is healthier, cleaner and more sustainable than it was at the end of the last century. Bicycle safety education and encouragement is integral with the youth experience in all Portland schools, and bicycle-related tours, events, races, rides and activities reinforce the childhood experiences of nearly all Portland residents.
Children, women, immigrants, seniors and other populations that have historically not bicycled in large numbers now bicycle in higher proportions than ever before. Th is resulted from a land-use shift to a dynamic mosaic of mixed-use neighborhoods – allowing residents to work and learn, buy and sell, play and pray, all within an easy bicycle ride of their home.
Portland has also experienced a shift in the health care industry towards a genuine commitment to fi tness and nutrition as the foundation of personal wellness across the spectrum of age, wealth and ethnicity. Portland’s thriving economy derives from its fit and healthy employee base. Every business encourages employees and visitors to bicycle and offers high quality, plentiful bicycle parking .
With more money in their pockets and circulating in the local economy due to community has come to embrace bicycling as a hallmark of the Portland region. Thousands of green, sustainable, local jobs in manufacturing and distribution, retail sales and services, tourism, and professional services derive from Portland’s successful bicycle-related industry. In 2030, bicycling is fully intertwined with Portland’s regional transit system. Streetcar, light and commuter rail, water taxis and bus transit are all planned and operated with the needs of bicyclists in mind and as high-priority customers who will reach transit stations by bike and partner to reduce reliance on the automobile.
Visitors to Portland find bicycle transportation to be a signature feature of their experience. Bicycles, maps and route guidance are readily available throughout the region’s town and neighborhood centers via shared bike kiosks, rental companies, hotels and corporate and academic campuses.
The cultural shift to bicycling that began in earnest at the turn of the century is no longer an oddity. Bicycling is not seen merely as a sport or the exclusive purview of young progressives. Portland residents do not identify themselves as ‘bicyclists’, but as users of a preferred means of transportation for regular daily activities.
The rise in bicycle use has been accompanied by a sharp increase in safety for all residents due to the use of international best practices in bikeway design, bicyclist and motorist safety campaigns, enforcement of high-risk traffi c behaviors and evolution of laws and attitudes. Improved safety is tied to the increasing numbers of bicyclists, many of whom have reduced their driving trips and come to appreciate the lower stress experience of pedaling for daily transportation.
Related to the decline in driving-related stress has been a burgeoning civic commitment to mutual courtesy. Portland has become the nation’s center of research, teaching and learning in green and sustainable urban planning, design, architecture and engineering. Through innovative partnerships and our commitment to Portland as a living laboratory of progressive change, residents have helped spread the revolution far and wide, evolved academic curricula and models, deepened their understanding of the rich benefi ts of sustainable transportation and reformed their previous automobile-centric approach to community design and operation.
Researchers from across the world come to Portland, eager to see what it has done and then apply the lessons to their own communities.
This vision did not just happen as a result of geography, climate or historical happenstance. It was carefully planned and fully funded by citizens determined to set a threshold for sustainable urban living in the 21st century. The vision came about because Portland’s leaders recognized that bicycling could be a significant and incredibly positive means of transportation for tens of thousands of residents and an economic powerhouse for businesses who realize the benefi ts bicycling brings to health, safety and livability, as well as to the economy and the environment. By investing in bicycling as a hallmark of its transportation system, Portland was made more human and healthy, safe and splendid.
- Portland Bicycle Plan Steering Committee