BikePortland is covering the Oregon Active Transportation Summit today and tomorrow. We’ve been tweeting updates via #ATSummit and you might have caught our previous post with a recap of the action from the opening speech by Lynn Peterson and a few of the morning sessions.
Between speeches and panel discussions, I try to talk with as many people as possible. The summit serves a wide variety of interests — from agency directors to planners, citizen activists to non-profit staff and volunteers. It’s fun to catch up with such a diverse group and find out about the interesting projects and programs they’re working on. Below are just a few of the folks I ran into…
John Landolfe, transportation options coordinator at Oregon Health & Science University
Landolfe is in charge of making it as easy as possible for students and staff to bike, walk, and take transit to OHSU. His programs serve thousands of people who visit facilities spread between the South Waterfront and “pill hill” — a campus that serves 250,000 annual patients, 5,000 students, and over 16,000 employees. Landolfe’s latest challenge? Serving this community’s needs 24/7. He’s working on OHSU’s first ever “night access plan.” With around 2,000 staffers working the night shift, Landolfe told me he often hears them complain about a lack transit options at night. So he’s partnered with Portland State University to learn more about this issue and figure out how to improve it. To kick things off he plans to launch a survey tomorrow. To stay updated on this effort you can check out the project’s Facebook page.
Susan Kubota, Inna Levin, and Noel Mickelberry; grassroots advocates for walking and safer streets
There’s a lot of talk about Vision Zero these days and these three women are at the front lines of those discussions. Susan Kubota turned the grief over losing her niece Tracey Sparling in a traffic crash into action by becoming a vocal advocate for safer streets. She’s found new life by being involved with a local chapter of Families for Safe Streets, a support and advocacy group for victims of traffic crashes that was founded in New York City. Kubota shared that the founder of our local chapter, Kristi Finney-Dunn, just returned from the Vision Zero Summit where she met with families who started this national movement. Inna Levin is the new volunteer and outreach coordinator for Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Walks. Levin is just the second employee for this scrappy organization. Her focus will include the Sunday Walkways event (set for September 18th) and a series of walks at low-income schools in partnership with the Portland Public School district.
Joseph Marek, Clackamas County traffic engineering supervisor and director of Safe Communities program
I caught up with Marek after his panel on how local governments are implementing Vision Zero. Marek has the bragging rights of being the first county in Oregon to have an official plan to significantly reduce traffic deaths. And they need it: Marek shared there’s currently one death every 13 days and a serious injury every three days in Clackamas County. The County’s 2012 Transportation Safety Action Plan aims for a 50 percent reduction in traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2022 and work toward 365 “fatal free days.” Marek is now starting to work on an update to that plan he expects to have finished by 2017. The “Drive to Zero” campaign focuses on a lot of education in schools and building relationships in every department. “We are putting health and safety into all county policies, so that’s it’s engrained into everything we do,” he said.
Rob Inerfeld, City of Eugene transportation planning manager
Inerfeld was also on the Vision Zero panel. While safety is one of his priorities, right now he’s deep into Eugene’s quest for bike share. Eugene just got back proposals back from would-be operators last week and Inerfeld says they hope to have a system on the ground by next year. So far he’s a fan of the same “smart bike” system Portland will launch in July. All he’s missing so far is a way to pay for it all (that sounds familiar!).
Leah Shahum, Vision Zero Network founder and director
Shahum is dynamic force of nature in the bike advocacy world. We first met her years ago when she was head of the San Francisco Bike Coalition. Now she’s heading up the Vision Zero Network, a coalition group pulling cities together to completely reform how we approach street safety. Shahum has been very busy. Just 26 months ago there were only two U.S. cities that had officially committed to vision zero. Today there are 16. Now that it’s more than buzz-word to policymakers and elected officials, there’s been shift to implementation. “Our job is now to help people really understand what it is. That there’s a difference between vision zero and a traditional safety approach,” she said. “It’s a shift in philosophy.”
Oregon is lucky to have (and host) such an impressive slate of leaders all pushing for better biking, walking, and transit access.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
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