Alta has been a part of the City of Portland's bicycle master planning process since the early 1990s, when Alta Principal Mia Birk wrote the well-regarded 1996 Bicycle Master Plan as the City of Portland Bicycle Coordinator. She then led the City to implement more than 160 miles of bikeways, thousands of bicycle parking spaces, a bikeway maintenance program, intersection treatments, and numerous encouragement activities. Since that time, Alta staff have worked with the City on a number of implementation projects, including prominent trails (e.g. Springwater Corridor, Eastbank Esplanade, Peninsula Crossing Trail), on-street bikeways, innovative treatments (such as shared lane markings, green bike boxes), research projects (such as "Bicycle-Related Industry Growth", Safe Routes to School, and transit-bike connections.
In 2006, the City turned to Alta to help update the Bicycle Master Plan. The goal was to reach Platinum designation by the League of American Bicyclists. For Phase 1, Alta led the public process, including a series of public workshops and steering committee meetings.
On the technical side, Alta performed a comprehensive analysis of existing conditions, including mapping of system deficiencies based on public comment, survey of international bicycle related policies and field evaluation of quality for all on-street bicycle facilities. Based on this information Alta worked with City staff to create two unique analysis tools. The first - Bikeway Quality Index (BQI)
- measures the quality of existing bike lanes and bicycle boulevards based on a number of technical factors, including bike lane width, traffic volume/speed, and intersection difficulties. The second - Cycle Zone Analysis (CZA)
- divides the City into bicycle travelsheds or zones for their bicycling potential. CZA takes into account topography, connectivity, presence of cycling facilities, quality of bikeway facilities, and land use. Solutions to increasing bicycle use then were matched to each zone in order to realize their full potential for cycling.