Alliance sets meeting for cyclists to weigh in on bike lane extensions

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 region.

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 or 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 in 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.

“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.

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