to say the “b” word.
Given the sad state of cycling in our local politics, I was eager to hear if the issue was on the radar screen of Oregon’s new governor, Kate Brown.
Brown’s first State of the State address on April 17th was a great opportunity to plant a flag in the ground and let everyone know that when she thinks of transportation she can see beyond the status quo.
And guess what? I was not disappointed. Governor Brown mentioned bikes — not once but twice! It was just what I needed to allay my lingering disappointment from when Portland Mayor Charlie Hales — who was a Portland commissioner in bicycling’s heyday in the 1990s and rode into office in part for his progressive transportation bona fides — didn’t mention bikes at all in his State of the City address back in January.
Biking’s big moment in the spotlight came in a part of Brown’s speech where she was trying to make the case for infrastructure investment (the legislature is debating a big transportation package but it has stalled of late).
Here’s the excerpt (full text here):
“As we all know, a safe and efficient transportation system is essential to getting goods to market, workers to their jobs, and creates a desirable quality of life that attracts innovative people to our state.
And ultimately, when we look at our transportation system, we must be mindful of how Oregonians choose to get around. No matter how we do — whether we walk to school, drive to work, catch a train for a family visit, or bike to the gym — the system we travel on needs to get us there safely.
Looking ahead, however, the resources needed to operate, preserve, and make much-needed improvements are non-existent.
We need to invest in passenger rail, freight rail, bicycle routes and other transportation alternatives. As anyone in the tri-county area can attest, congestion is a very real problem that threatens our quality of life.”
The “alternatives” part aside (that’s sort of a pet peeve), this is a pretty good sign that Governor Brown “gets it” when it comes to bikes and that she’ll be a supporter of bike-related funding when the time comes. It’s also no surprise given that bike advocates have already given her positive reviews.
We’re looking forward to hearing more from Governor Brown about how bicycling can fit into Oregon’s future. The latest rankings from the League of American Bicyclists don’t even put us in medal contention. Hopefully Governor Brown can change that.
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