Meet Jeff Owen, TriMet’s new Active Transportation Planner

Meet Jeff Owen, TriMet’s new Active Transportation Planner

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Jeff Owen is the new bike guy at TriMet.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s a new planning position within TriMet that deals solely with bicycling and walking and Jeff Owen is the man they’ve chosen for the job. This is great news.

Jeff comes to the position with top qualifications and loads of experience. Prior to starting at TriMet back in July (he replaces former bike guy Colin Maher who left in November), Jeff was the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Wilsonville/SMART Transit. Jeff joined us for the Bicycle Advisory Committee ride on Tuesday night and it reminded me that I’ve been wanting to share a bit more about him and the work he’s doing at TriMet.

I sent Jeff a few questions to answer via email and I’ve published his responses below…

What is your title and what are your general responsibilities at TriMet?

My title is Active Transportation Planner. The short description is to have a key role in the planning, development and implementation of active transportation projects, as well as strengthening partnerships with other jurisdictions, community-based organizations such as BTA and WPC, and the private sector to ensure growing investment in Active Transportation and access to transit.

What’s your professional background?

“Regarding bikes on MAX, we routinely receive both comments for bikes to be banned from MAX as well as suggestions for more capacity to bring bikes onboard.”

My professional background is based on a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Master of City and Regional Planning, and includes working in both the private and public sectors. Private sector experience includes working as a community planner/urban designer in small and medium size consulting firms working on projects such as corridor studies, urban design manuals, long range plans, downtown revitalization, and a context sensitive roadway manual.

My most recent experience comes from the public sector as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator at the City of Wilsonville/SMART Transit before joining TriMet the last week in July. There I focused on the promotion of biking and walking, creating tools such as biking and walking maps, creating a Wilsonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force group, strengthening partnerships with neighboring jurisdictions and the larger region, to some extent reviewing development proposals, and learning quite a bit about transit in general. I think this path was a natural progression to this new position at TriMet.

Can you describe some of the projects and policies you are working on right now and into the future?

Current and near-future term work includes:

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  • Updating our inventory of bike parking, including staple racks, wave racks, bike lids, keyed bike lockers, electronic bike lockers, and Bike & Ride facilities
  • Serving on Metro’s Active Transportation Plan for the Region SAC
  • Advancing the work of the recently completed Pedestrian Network Analysis
  • Partnership building and tracking potential funding opportunities for active transportation projects
  • Responding to customer feedback and inquiries involving bikes and access to transit
  • Supporting efforts such as participating in the BTA’s BCC (team captain)
It’s clear that TriMet favors bike, park, and ride vs. increasing on-board bike capacity… So how does TriMet see biking integrating w/ its service into the future?

We have made investments over the years to encourage bike parking at transit stations and some bus stops, and we also encourage the use of folding bikes. We have recently tested one model of bike racks for the front of our buses to increase rack capacity from 2 bikes to 3 bikes, but the model we tested raised enough safety concerns that we couldn’t move forward with it. In our tests we found that when loaded with bikes they blocked the operator’s vision, impacted the operator’s line of sight and blocked headlights.

Regarding bikes on MAX, we routinely receive both comments for bikes to be banned from MAX as well as suggestions for more capacity to bring bikes onboard MAX. At this time, our current policies remain in effect and are located on our website. These policies manage expectations for bringing bikes onboard vehicles, outlines types of bikes allowed on TriMet, provides how-to videos for all of our vehicles, and provides bike parking options by type and location. Continuing to integrate bikes with transit will remain a strong interest of ours in the future, but must also be balanced with customer comfort and safety for all passengers.

I look forward to bringing Jeff’s work into the fold here on the Front Page. If you have a question about bikes and TriMet, drop him a line at owenj[at]trimet[dot]org.

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