I went to my first Ecological Footprint class tonight. Offered by the Center for Earth Leadership in Portland, the class started out with a general overview of sustainability and what an ecological footprint is. Dan Bower, Transportation Options Policy Program Manager for the City of Portland then gave a very interesting slide presentation in which he explained why Portland is a model city for sustainable living. Focusing primarily on bicycling in the city, he explained the Bicycle Boulevard concept. Here’s a quote from the Transportation Options website:
“Bicycle boulevards are not striped with bicycle lanes, so they are not always visible to new or potential riders as good bicycling streets. They do have amenities that make them work well for people riding bicycles, including crossing treatments at major intersections; traffic calming to keep auto speeds slow; and a stop sign pattern providing cyclists with a better flow along the street.”
Bicycle commuting has increased dramatically in Portland since we came here in 1996. In that year about 5,000 bicyclists had crossed a group of four surveyed bridges in a day. It’s now up to 14,000 cyclists! The city and some businesses offer cash benefits to employees who do not drive to work, bicycling, walking and/or taking mass transit instead. I’m curious if surrounding communities (Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham) have incentives for businesses to encourage their employees to not drive. There is a business tax credit available in the city of Portland.