Alliance sets meeting as Hillsboro focuses on more routes

What would it take for you to start riding a bicycle or to bicycle more?

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is hosting a series of listening sessions in early December to help update its 2005 Blueprint for Better Biking to increase bicycling throughout the Portland area.

The Washington County one will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Fanno Creek Brewpub, 12562 S.W. Main St., Tigard.

BTA advocate Carl Larson already knows the session will attract a number of hardcore bikers with ideas for new or extended bike lanes and trails. But Larson hopes that inexperienced riders will also show up to say what would make them feel safer commuting to work or biking for fun.

“We hope to hear from a wide range of people, not just those who are already committed to biking,” says Larson, whose nonprofit organization works to increase bike use.

Larson says people should bring their top three picks for projects they would like to see happen to meeting.

“Hopefully they won’t be as small as fix the pothole in front of my house or as big as make the streets safer. We need ideas in the middle,” says Larson.

Steps to better biking

The Tigard brewpub is near an example of the kind of idea the BTA is looking for. It is along a portion of the Fanno Creek Trail, one of 40 priority projects listed in the BTA’s 2005 report.

When completed, the trail will stretch 15 miles from the Willamette River in Southwest Portland through Beaverton and Tigard to the Tualatin River at its confluence with Fanno Creek. In November 2011, Tigard voters approved a $17 million parks bond that will help fund improvements to the trail.

Other Washington County projects include the Westside Trail from the Tualatin River to Forest Park and the Tonquin Trail connecting Wilsonville, Sherwood and Tualatin. Both are also in process.

Most of the other priority projects in the report are in Portland, however. That makes sense because, up until now, Portland has been seen as the epicenter of the growth in biking. But even though statistics are hard to come by, there are many signs that biking is growing outside of Portland, including in cities like Hillsboro.

“I’m a bike commuter myself and I see more and more people riding all the time,” says Peter Brandom, Hillsboro’s director of sustainability.

According to Brandom, Hillsboro has taken a number of steps to accommodate and encourage the growth. They include the free secure bike facilities in the Hillsboro Intermodul Transit Facility on the MAX line at 775 S.E. Baseline. Called the Hillsboro ITF Bike Park, it includes 40 bike hooks, lockers, showers for men and women, and a tool bench for quick repairs.

Hillsboro is also including a separated cycle track lane along Veterans Drive to the Washington County Fair Complex. It will eventually be extended allow bikers to ride from 25th Avenue to Brookwood Street without mingling with automobiles or pedestrians.

And Hillsboro is pursuing funding through the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge to site a number of “mobility hubs” around the city that will include facilities to encourage biking, including rentals for so-called last mile trips between transit and work. The GoPoint project is one of 20 finalists vying for $5 million in prize money. Brandom and three other Hillsboro employees traveled to New York in mid-November to meet with contest officials and other finalists. He came back encouraged about the city’s chances of winning at least some money to launch the project next year.

“I’m feeling very positive about our chances,” says Brandom.

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