Portland, OR Bicycle Master Plan

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Portland, OR, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted on 5/1/96

Source File: http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=40414

Executive Summary:

Non-Binding City Policy


Portland is considered one of the country's most bicycle-friendly cities. In October 1995, it was selected by Bicycling Magazine as the most bicycle friendly city in the United States. How did we get there?

Portland's first Bicycle Plan was developed in 1973 by a residents' task force. This effort led to the creation of the Portland Office of Transportation's Bicycle Program--one of the country's oldest--and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, a group of residents appointed by City Council to advise on all matters related to bicycling.

The bicycle is a key means of transportation for thousands of Portland residents and a desired means of transportation for many thousands more. Over half of Portland residents own a bicycle and ride at least occasionally. Bicycle use is rising rapidly. The bicycle share of trips is about two percent in Portland, 3.3 percent in the inner, more dense areas of town. While only 200 cyclists per day were recorded on the Hawthorne Bridge in 1975, by 1995 this number had climbed to nearly 2,000.

Many aspects of Portland encourage bicycle use. Portland's current bikeway network consists of over 150 miles of bicycle lanes, bicycle boulevards, and off-street paths. Tri-Met's entire bus fleet is equipped with bicycle racks. From July 1994 to July 1995, close to 80,000 bicycles were taken on MAX or bus and over 6,300 permits sold. Cyclists can park at over 1,400 publicly-installed bicycle racks or rent longer-term space at one of 190 bicycle lockers. Bicycle commuters can take advantage of one of the new "Bike Central" stations (providing showers, changing facilities, and long-term bicycle storage), while new cyclists will soon be able to enjoy escorted commute rides.

The energy and commitment of many organizations and businesses improve the bicycling environment. Portland's Parks Bureau and Metro's Greenspaces Program are installing dozens of miles of off-street paths, such as the Springwater corridor and Eastside Esplanade. More than a dozen bicycle shops provide crucial services to Portland Cyclists. there is an impressive array of advocacy, education, and riding groups, including the bicycle Transportation Alliance, Community Cycling Center, Critical Mass, Kaiser Permanente's Injury Prevention Program, Portland United Mountain Pedalers, Portland Wheelmen Touring Club, and Yellow Bike Program. The Portland Police Bureau and the Office of Transportation's Parking Patrol use bicycles, as do some of Portland General Electric's meter readers.

Finally, a diverse coalition of educators, administrators, bicycle advocates, and government agencies are working to make bicycling a more viable and safe option for children. These efforts include the Office of Transportation's Kids on the Move curriculum, Traffic Calming Program (installing speed bumps and signal beacons around schools), Community Traffic Safety Program (For Kids' Sake Slow Down campaign, and bicycle safety workshops), and Bicycle Program (installing bicycle racks at, and bikeways to, schools). Others involved include Portland Public Schools, parents, educators, the Community Cycling Center (teaching children bicycle safety, repair, and riding skills), and numerous groups working to increase helmet use.

With this kind of momentum, increasing bicycle use should be a snap. However, despite all these efforts, Portland still has a long way to go to be truly bicycle-friendly. Our bikeway network is discontinuous and incomplete; only five percent of arterial streets have bicycle lanes. Bicycle parking is found at only two percent of commercial businesses outside the central city. Very few children bicycle to school even if they live less than a mile away. People from all ages, parts of the city, and walks of life have requested improvements to the bicycling environment. Numerous local surveys, focus groups, and other comment opportunities consistently demonstrate the public's interest in and commitment to bicycling as a means of transportation.


The Bicycle Master Plan was created over a two and a half year period with input from over 2,000 residents, including neighborhood activists, business people, parents, educators, regular cyclists, and individuals wishing to bicycle--both for the first time and more frequently. Additional input came from staff of the Portland Office of Transportation, Tri-Met, the Port of Portland, Multnomah County, Washington County, Clackamas County, Metro, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and the Portland bureaus of Planning and Parks.

The Plan provides guidance over a 20-year period for improvements that will encourage more people to ride more frequently for daily needs. The mission of the Master Plan is to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Portland.

Key Elements

The Bicycle Master Plan addresses five key elements:

1) policies and objectives that form part of Portland's Comprehensive Plan Transportation Element;

2) developing a recommended bikeway network;

3) providing end-of-trip facilities;

4) improving the bicycle-transit link; and

5) promoting bicycling through education and encouragement.

Associated with each of these elements are objectives, action items, and five-, 10-, and 20-year benchmarks to measure progress. where appropriate, the costs of achieving these benchmarks are included. these benchmarks and costs are found at the end of this Executive Summary.

In addition, the Plan provides bikeway design and engineering guidelines and a summary of laws relating to bicycle use.

Bicycle Transportation Policy and Objectives

Policy 6.12 of the Transportation Element of the City's Comprehensive Plan is the following statement:

Make the bicycle an integral part of daily life in Portland, particularly for trips of less than five miles, by implementing a bikeway network, providing end-of-trip facilities, improving bicycle/transit integration, encouraging bicycle use, and making bicycling safer.

The following objectives accompany this policy statement.


A. Complete a network of bikeway that serves bicyclists' needs, especially for travel to employment centers, commercial districts, transit stations, institutions, and recreational destinations.

B. Provide bikeway facilities that are appropriate to the street classifications, traffic volumes, and speed on all rights-of-way.

C. Maintain and improve the quality, operation and integrity of bikeway network facilities.

D. Provide short- and long-term bicycle parking in commercial districts, along Main Streets, in employment centers and multifamily developments, at schools and colleges, industrial developments, special events, recreational areas, and transit facilities such as light rail stations and park-and-ride lots.

E. Provide showers and changing facilities for commuting cyclists. Support development of such facilities in commercial buildings and at "Bike Central" locations.

F. Increase the number of bicycle-transit trips. Support Tri-Met's "Bikes on Transit" Program.

G. Develop and implement education and encouragement plans aimed at youth, adult cyclists, and motorists. Increase public awareness of the benefits of bicycling and of available resources and facilities.

H. Promote bicycling as transportation to and from school.

Recommended Bikeway Network

Objectives A, B, and C, listed above, pertain to the development of the bikeway Network.

There are about 185 miles of existing and planned bicycle lanes, bicycle boulevards, and off-street paths in Portland. The bikeway network calls for the addition of approximately 445 miles to this system to create a 630 mile network of preferred and appropriate convenient and attractive bikeways throughout Portland. When complete, this network should enable cyclists to find a bikeway within approximately one-quarter to one-half mile from every location in Portland.

Provide End-of-Trip Facilities

Objectives D and E pertain to providing end-of-trip facilities.

A survey undertaken for the Master Plan found sub-standard bicycle parking in the majority of Portland's commercial areas. Many public facilities, including schools and parks, were likewise deficient in adequate bicycle parking.

To address this problem, the master Plan calls for a public-private partnership to install higher levels of bicycle parking; provide for long-term bicycle parking to serve commuters, students, and others needing longer-term bicycle storage; and provide other end-of-trip services like showers, changing rooms, and clothing storage.

An estimated 1,900 short-term and 145 long-term bicycle parking spaces exist in Portland. The Plan calls for the development of an additional 8,600 short-term and 23,000 long-term spaces in 20 years.

Improving the Bicycle-Transit Link

Objective F pertains to improving the bicycle-transit link.

Two types of bicycle-transit trips are possible in Portland. Riders can take their bicycles aboard buses and light-rail through the bicycles-on-Tri-Met program, for which over 6,300 permits have been sold. From July, 1994 to June, 1995 almost 80,000 bicycles-on-transit trips were made. Bicyclists can also "bike-and-ride," making use of long-term bicycle parking at transit centers and light-rail stations. As of February, 1996 there were 56 bicycle lockers spaces at transit centers and MAX stations.

The City will continue to support and promote the Bicycles on Tri-Met program, and assist Tri-Met in providing and promoting long-term bicycle parking at the transit system to encourage bicycle use.

Promoting Bicycling Through Education and Encouragement Objectives G and H pertain to promoting bicycling through education and encouragement.

Bicycle education is concerned with developing safe cycling skills in children, teaching adult cyclists their rights and responsibilities, and teaching motorists how to more effectively share the road with cyclists.

Encouragement includes providing a bikeway network, end-of-trip facilities, and bicycle-transit services, holding encouragement events, providing incentives, and providing information and/or maps with recommended cycling routes.

Many organizations throughout Portland provide bicycling education and encouragement. The City will continue to support these organizations as able, with the goal of having three to five annual bicycling promotion events. Additional long-term goals are to have 10 percent of children bicycling to school and 100 percent of children receiving bicycle safety education.

Providing Bikeway Design and Engineering Guidelines

The Master Plan offers detailed design and engineering guidelines for different types of bicycle facilities. Included are intersection designs, signing and marking, maintenance considerations, and bicycle parking code requirements. This information, and the text of state laws and local ordinances pertaining to bicycling, are found in the Master Plan's appendices.


Bicycling produces no air or noise pollution, decreases traffic congestion, reduces taxpayer burden, helps alleviate parking demand, saves energy, uses land and road space efficiently, provides mobility, saves individuals money, improves health and fitness, and is fast and fun! The success of the bicycle Master Plan will only be assured by the continued support of Portland's cycling community and other residents recognizing the benefits bicycling brings to all residents.