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The Portland Plan―More Portlandia Than Policy

Last week a document called the Portland Plan was released by the Portland Office of Sustainability. The Plan lays out dozens of “community goals.” One of them is to increase the use of public transit from 12 percent of daily commute trips to 25 percent by the year 2035.

Another one calls on Portlanders to increase bicycle commuting from 5 percent to 25 percent of all trips.

Both of these goals are silly. Transit use has been stuck at 11-12 percent of all commuting since 2000, despite more than $5 billion in expenditures by TriMet. Transit commuting is not going to double in the next two decades, at any price.

The share of bicycle commuting peaked at 8 percent of all commuting in 2008 and has since dropped to 5 percent. There is no chance that bicycle use will quintuple by 2035 because it is simply too impractical.

These fantasy goals are being promoted to justify starving the road system, because local politicians think we all drive too much. But it’s none of their business how much we drive; they should be providing the roads we are paying for with our gas taxes.

The Portland Plan would be a good comedy sketch for the cable TV show “Portlandia”, but it is not ready for prime time as a public policy document.

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