The city of Portland, Oregon in the USA is one of , if not the most progressive cities in North America when it comes to building bicycle infrastructure. While it pales in comparison to Copenhagen, Portland has managed to build a network enticing enough to have raised the bicycle-to-work/study share up to 6% which is remarkable if you understand that "Portland was a city like any other US city in the 1980s and early 1990s in terms of transportation behavior". (Although we've heard they only do their bike count in June, not like Copenhagen, for example, that counts at over 40 permanent locations and another 160 intermittent locations, but we'll leave that alone for now.)
In other words addicted to the car; though to be fair, Portland did build one of the first post-WW2 Light Rail lines in North America in 1986 and did so by using monies that were originally aimed at widening what Oregon calls a "freeway".
This has come at a "great" financial cost of course, the total being an estimated US$60 Million, which is a lot of money...
...until you realize what the extension or widening of limited-access divided-highways cost.
And in the case of Portland, US$60 million is also what 1 mile (1.6 km) of "freeway" costs to build. Now, to be honest, highway projects in the USA vary in price so look at this report and remember that these prices are per "lane-mile" (if the proposed "freeway" is going to have 3 lanes in each direction, multiply these numbers by 6).
Widening roads is not cheap either. A news item this week announced that 1.2 miles (1.93 km) of road in Los Angeles county would have a Carpool Lane and a General Purpose Lane added in each direction for just US$214 million(!) An underpass designed to eliminate an at-grade or level crossing in Orange County California is penciling is at US$92 million.
But you won't hear much about the costs of those projects as they are built for the bull in society's china shop, the automobile; because the mainstream media in the USA (and increasingly elsewhere) ignores the bull but then scrutinizes the costs of bicycle and railway facilities.
CNN's domestic USA service (which is very different from that which you may encounter with the CNN logo outside North America) recently ran a report critical of the spending of public funds to upgrade a railway in the Northeastern State of Vermont on a show hosted by Anderson Cooper (Cooper is, ironically, the Great-Great-Great-Grandson of railroad builder and magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt)
The piece has been roundly criticized by many for being out-of-touch with reality, the best critique being made by DC.Streetsblog's Tanya Snyder who defended the rail improvements for having "spent .00006 percent of the federal stimulus money on needed track improvements and came in on time and under budget." The cost to the taxpayers of this "outrageous railway boondoggle"?
Remember what the Portland Bicycle Infrastructure cost?
|Typical service before deregulation|
|Air Greenland now arriving!|
|Source: M.J. Bradley & Associates for NRDC|
|Only one pilot today!|