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St. Johns fatality fuels fire of neighborhood’s safe streets activism

St. Johns fatality fuels fire of neighborhood’s safe streets activism

Riding in st johns

Riding in downtown St. Johns.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The death of an innocent man on the St. Johns Bridge last weekend has spurred — and renewed — activism around transportation reform on many fronts.

Tired of freight trucks and reckless driving holding their streets hostage, on Monday the St. Johns Neighborhood Association will host a forum to delve deeper into the issues of traffic and transportation safety. Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and representatives from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation are slated to attend. Local residents passed out flyers for the event at last week’s protest ride; but SJNA Board Member and Chair of their Safety and Livability Team Travis Parker tells us the event was planned prior to the collision that killed Mitch York.

Parker and other volunteers with the neighborhood association have spent over a year on a coordinated effort to make streets in St. Johns safer. In October 2015 anonymous residents erected fake speed limit signs in a desperate effort to get PBOT’s attention and get people to slow down on a wide section of North Smith Street.

The neighborhood — on a peninsula formed by the Columbia and Willamette rivers about 10 miles north of downtown Portland — has grown and changed considerably in recent years as housing prices have skyrocketed in close-in neighborhoods. In addition to more people living in the neighborhood there’s been a significant increase in freight truck traffic as the nearby industrial port distict has hemorrhaged shipping container business.







St. Johns is hemmed in by freight routes.(Map: PBOT, 2008)

St. Johns is hemmed in by freight routes.
(Map: PBOT, 2008)

St. Johns is ground zero for freight traffic because it sits between two major industrial areas (Rivergate and northwest Portland/Linnton) and is bisected by Highway 30 — a designated freight and National Highway System route that’s managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. The St. Johns Bridge is part of Highway 30 so it’s not surprising that neighborhood activists like Parker feel like their work is now more important than ever. Adding to the sense of urgency in St. Johns is a feeling that the emergence of projects that improve cycling, coupled with major demographic changes (related more to income, not race like we’ve seen in areas like the Vancouver-Williams corridor) could lead to a backlash against street projects with some people seeing them as nothing more than signs of gentrification.

For Parker and others organizing for safer streets, it’s all about preventing more deaths and injuries.

“In recent months we have had tragedies on two truck routes that place freight accommodation above all other users – especially vulnerable road users,” Parker wrote in a statement last week. “The St. Johns Bridge, where Mitch York was killed by a reckless driver October 29th, and Columbia Blvd, where high school student Bradley Trujillo was struck crossing before school, have freight designs that inherently do not dissuade reckless driving and seemingly restricts opportunities for improved safety and access for vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and ADA compliance.”

In addition to a focus on the bridge, Parker says he’s working with people from St. Johns and other adjacent neighborhoods who want to tackle various projects including: the creation of “better streets teams” and improving bicycle access and safety on North Willamette Boulevard.

At Monday night’s forum the goal will be to educate everyone on the latest projects and issues in St. Johns, listed to people’s concerns and perspectives, and map out a plan to realize shared goals. For more details, visit the event listing on our calendar or view the flyer on the St. Johns Neighborhood Facebook page.

Here’s the flyer:

stjohnseventflyer

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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Stakes have never been higher for upcoming National Bike Summit

Stakes have never been higher for upcoming National Bike Summit

DC bike scenes

You might want to consider showing up this year.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the reality settles in that we are just two months away all three branches of our federal government being controlled by Republicans, people who advocate for cycling need to take stock.

Yes I know, cycling isn’t always a purely partisan issue, but let’s not be naïve: The fact is a large majority of powerful, high-profile Republicans tend to strongly support transportation policies that favor the use of motorized vehicles.

Put another way, interest groups that don’t make cycling accessible infrastructure a priority see a friendly ear in President-elect Donald Trump. And early signs make it clear that automobile-centric interests are lining up to take advantage their new friend in the White House. To counter what could be a transformative era (to put it mildly) in national transportation politics, people who care about bicycling need to line up against — or figure out a way to align with — these forces.

One place to do that is at the annual National Bike Summit hosted in Washington D.C. by the League of American Bicyclists.

I eagerly attended the Summit every year between 2006 and 2014 (except the year my son was born). In the last two years I felt like the Summit had lost its mojo (or maybe it was just me) and I didn’t feel a compelling reason to be there. Now I’m thinking it’s time to go back. Beyond the obvious implications of Tuesday’s election, there are forboding signs that bicycling advocates must acknowledge and prepare for.







News outlets reported yesterday that the auto industry has already started efforts to roll back fuel economy mandates installed by the Obama administration.

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“Stock prices for U.S. automakers rose sharply Thursday amid signs that fuel economy standards could be weakened under the administration of President Donald Trump,” reported Detroit News. And a story in Automotive News reported, “Major automakers are seizing on the infancy of President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to mount a push to ease regulatory headaches faced under President Obama.”

Cycling advocates have faced Republican administrations before. In 2007, the Bush administration’s secretary of transportation Mary Peters infamously quipped that “bike paths” are not transportation infrastructure.

But just like Trump presents a much different set of operating instructions than fellow Republican George Bush, it’s very likely his transportation secretary will too.

A story in the New York Times this morning says the adviser Trump has tapped to help him pick transportation and infrastructure staff is the chairman of a D.C. law firm who counts the National Asphalt Pavement Association as a client.

In a blog post Wednesday, NAPA said they’ve already starting working with the Trump transition team on issue “including funding for highways” and “Critical Commerce Corridors.”

Trump says he wants to pass infrastructure legislation in his first 100 days — which puts the National Bike Summit on March 6th through 9th right at the tail-end of that push. NAPA plans to join the Transportation Construction Coalition in D.C. for a “Legislative Fly-in” event on May 17th. “The fly-in will occur,” they say on their website, “at a critical time and your help will be needed to pass the Trump plan in Congress.”

See you at the Summit.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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400+ pairs of shoes needed to mark Oregon deaths this year on ‘World Day of Remembrance’

400+ pairs of shoes needed to mark Oregon deaths this year on ‘World Day of Remembrance’

A pair of shoes for every Oregonian who died while using our roads in 2016. So far.

A pair of shoes for every Oregonian who died while using our roads in 2016. So far.

Each pair of shoes in that image above represents just one of the 405 precious lives lost on Oregon roads so far this year. We are on pace for yet another grisly record locally and across the state as our collective efforts to make road use safer continues to be outpaced by the growth of the threat.

“My hope is that everyone who sees these empty shoes will be reminded that someone still mourns a person who no longer walks among us.”
— Kim Stone, survivor and member of Families for Safe Streets

In that gap between our incremental safety measures and the harsh realities of our sick transportation culture, people are being killed and injured every day.

One group hit particularly hard by this constant stream of traffic violence are the families left behind. Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets is made up of those survivors and they want more people to feel the loss caused by these crashes. These brave moms, dads, sisters and brothers are hosting a event this Saturday (11/5) to collect shoes for a temporary art installation that will coincide with the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims observed worldwide on November 20th.







fss-logo-300x300“My hope is that everyone who sees these empty shoes will be reminded that someone still mourns a person who no longer walks among us,” said Kim Stone, one of the founding members of Families for Safe Streets.

The Day of Remembrance seeks to not just remember lost friends and family, but also to pay tribute to the first responders who deal with the traumatic aftermath of traffic carnage.

If you have a used pair of shoes that you’d like to donate for this art installation, please drop it by Oregon Walks headquarters, 1805 NE 2nd Avenue, between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm on November 5th. Everyone is also invited to the unveiling of the memorial and a vigil on the 20th. More details on the event’s Facebook page or the BikePortland Calendar.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post 400+ pairs of shoes needed to mark Oregon deaths this year on ‘World Day of Remembrance’ appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Tonight: Hawthorne neighborhood groups host traffic safety event

Tonight: Hawthorne neighborhood groups host traffic safety event

safety-solutions-for-hawthorne-blvd-ver2

In light of all your concerns about traffic safety, we want to bring your attention to an event we just heard about. It’s a community forum being hosted by the Sunnyside & Richmond neighborhood associations and it’s happening tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Alethia Church (4511 SE Main Street) in southeast.

The event flyer is above and here’s more from the organizers:







Hi Neighbors –

Following recent tragic events on Hawthorne Boulevard, Columbia Boulevard, Outer Division, and many other areas of the City, the Sunnyside & Richmond Land Use and Transportation Committees are hosting a special event this Tuesday, September 6th, from 7-9pm at the Aletheia Church (4511 SE Main St), two blocks north of Hawthorne & 45th.

Leah Treat, Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Captain Crebs with the Police Traffic Division, Oregon Walks, and a panel of other guest speakers will discuss interim street safety solutions.

All are welcome to attend and lend support for greater traffic safety on Hawthorne Boulevard and across the City. Feel free to spread the word to help us bring 100 plus people to this event!

Learn more on their website.

We like the sound of “interim solutions” not just because we feel there are some relatively quick and inexpensive ways to improve these dangerous roads — but also because we know the City of Portland can act quickly when they want to.

Show up if you can and lend your ears and brains to this discussion. Sorry for the late notice. If you attend and can share thoughts and/or a recap feel free to do so in the comments below.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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Pleas to drive more safely echo at ‘Rally to end unsafe streets’

Pleas to drive more safely echo at ‘Rally to end unsafe streets’

BTA Rally to End Unsafe Streets-3.jpg

Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry pushed back tears as she said the recent spate of deaths and injuries have been “debilitating” for her organization.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

No matter what Portland does to address the fatalities and injuries on our roads, in the end safety comes down to one major factor: personal behavior. That was the predominant opinion of the speakers at a rally “To end unsafe streets” held in downtown Portland this morning.

The event was organized by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (soon to be called the Street Trust). That organization’s Executive Director Rob Sadowsky reminded the few dozen people and handful of media crews that showed up that Portland has had 30 road deaths so far this year. An “enormous amount,” he said.

“If we had 30 deaths caused by an amusement park ride or from eating at a restaurant, that restaurant would be closed down. That amusement park would be closed down.”
— Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance

“If we had 30 deaths caused by an amusement park ride or from eating at a restaurant, that restaurant would be closed down. That amusement park would be closed down,” Sadowsky continued. “It’s time to figure out what the heck is going on and figure out how we are going to fix it.”

Sadowsky shared the story of his young stepdaughter Catania, who walks and bikes in Portland. “When I drive, I drive as though every intersection has Catania on it. I’m asking all of you to watch out for Catania.”

“We need to change the design of our streets; but we also need to change the way we drive,” he said.

Susan Kubota with Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets said she is “Extremely frustrated” over the recent spate of collisions. Kubota’s niece Tracey Sparling was killed in 2007 while biking in Portland. Tracey would have been 28 years old today.

BTA Rally to End Unsafe Streets-5.jpg

A few dozen people turned out for the event, which was held in the North Park Blocks.
BTA Rally to End Unsafe Streets-2.jpg

Susan Kubota who lost her niece Tracey Sparling in a 2007 collision, urged drivers to see better.







BTA Rally to End Unsafe Streets-4.jpg

ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer also spoke.

Kubota said we’ve become desensitized to street violence and that, “We forget what dangerous tools our vehicles are” and that when used improperly, cars become, “Extremely powerful weapons that need to be controlled.”

The Executive Director of Oregon Walks, Noel Mickelberry pushed back tears as she read the names of people who have been recently killed or injured. “I say their names as a reminder of the humanity behind these crashes.” Mickelberry said that Columbia Boulevard, the road where Bradley Fortner was hit and nearly killed earlier this week, needs to be redesigned because, “It’s not made for people.”

Steve Novick is the Portland city commissioner in charge of the transportation bureau. He told the crowd that the city is grieving over the recent incidents and that they are working hard to prevent more collisions. “We have not been idle,” he said. “And I know that might be hard to believe. We are trying.”

Novick listed several measures the city has taken including: a new unmanned speed camera that just went up on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, the road diet coming to SE Foster Rd, a recent speed limit reduction from 35 to 30 on Burnside, and the city’s efforts to wrest speed limit authority from the state.

While Novick said they are trying to stem the tide of unsafe streets, he too mentioned the need for personal responsibility. “We need people to change their behavior.” When he hears Portlanders complain about increased delays on roads due to lane reconfigurations, Novick said his response is, “Consider that extra three minutes in rush-hour as an investment in the children who go to school along the street.”

There was a noticeable shift from advocacy and government leaders at this rally toward placing the blame on road user behaviors and away from our urgent need to redesign roads and have stronger policies. While everyone knows we need to approach road safety on many fronts, a tendency to focus on individual actions ignores the powerful role that the built environment — and the system in general — can play.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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The Street Trust (formerly the BTA) is planning a rally tomorrow to “End unsafe streets”

The Street Trust (formerly the BTA) is planning a rally tomorrow to “End unsafe streets”

“It is all of our responsibility to drive, bike, and walk as if it is our own child, grandchild, or grandparent who will be crossing the road at the next intersection. Simply put, we must slow down and we must be vigilant.”
— Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Street Trust

The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) has made a public statement about the death of young Fallon Smart and the serious collision yesterday that left 15-year-old Bradley Fortner with a brain injury.

“We need action now,” says Street Trust Executive Director Rob Sadowsky. “I am deeply saddened each time I hear about another road death. It is all of our responsibility to drive, bike, and walk as if it is our own child, grandchild, or grandparent who will be crossing the road at the next intersection. Simply put, we must slow down and we must be vigilant.”

The statement comes with an announcement of a rally that will be held tomorrow (Thursday, September 1st) at the north end of the North Park Blocks. The rally is being coordinated with — and will include representatives from — Oregon Walks, Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.







Here’s more about the rally from the Street Trust:

“… Outraged residents will rally together to express sorrow about recent road fatalities and to showcase what can be done collaboratively today by road users to save lives now. A group of speakers will speak for a short 30 minutes and be available to answer questions.”

And here’s more from their statement about the recent collisions:

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is incredibly saddened to learn about the most recent tragedy after Bradley Fortner, a freshman at Roosevelt High School, was hit early Tuesday morning on his way to his first day of school. The teen was hit on North Columbia Boulevard at a location with a 40mph speed limit.

But this is not an isolated incident. Less than two weeks has passed since 15 year old Fallon Smart was hit and killed trying to cross Hawthorne Blvd. Fallon was the 30th person killed on Portland streets this year. Our unsafe streets have reached crisis level.

Tuesday’s crash was entirely preventable. In fact, we believe that crashes are preventable. We have called upon the state, our cities, and our counties to embrace this same belief and embrace Vision Zero now as a new way of approaching transportation. It is time to move from injuring, maiming, and killing people on the road to a place where traffic fatalities are no longer an assumed consequence.

The Portland region needs to be safe for kids, families, pets, people walking, people using wheelchairs, people bicycling, and people driving. And safe means you don’t take your life in your hands when you cross the street. It is time for Vision Zero today! Real change now starts with people on the road and in the driver’s seat, slowing down, being alert, and traveling with care.

Earlier today Noel Mickelberry, executive director of Oregon Walks also published a statement, saying, “Each crash reminds us that a true change to the status quo on our streets is required to provide solutions… We need innovation, we need political leadership, we need money on the ground to make needed street safety fixes, and we need meaningful community input and support. We are talking about hate crimes, about devastated families, about historic underinvestment, about kids not knowing if they will get to school safely. This is not easy work, and we don’t have all of the answers.”

Tomorrow’s rally will start at 10:30 am at NW Glisan between 8th and Park. More information on their website.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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How New York City advocates are responding to their unsafe streets crisis

How New York City advocates are responding to their unsafe streets crisis

renough2

Portland is reeling from a record pace of traffic fatalities and a string of three horrific collisions involving teenagers in the past three weeks. Many local activists are using the word “crisis” to describe the lack of safety and irresponsible vehicle use on our streets.

Portland is not alone.

If it’s not safe for us to ride alone, then we ride together.
— TransAlt

National headlines are also calling the deaths and injuries being caused by motor vehicle operators a crisis. We’re dealing with an epidemic of car abuse and a broken system of roads, media, and laws that enable it.

New York City has seen more than there share of traffic carnage. And their main advocacy nonprofit, Transportation Alternatives, is sick and tired of it. Yesterday I got a bulk email from them that I felt was very powerful.







It opened with the “Enough” graphic above. And here’s the full text (their emphasis):

We are not giving any more speeches, friend.
We will not host another vigil.

People on bikes are being killed and injured every single day. It’s too much to bear. Are you angry? We are. And we’re ready to take action…

Transportation Alternatives decided to call for this bike protest last week after Michael Schenkman of Queens was killed on his bike. He was a 78-year-old cyclist out for his morning ride, and like many of you, he was a TransAlt member.

Michael was the 16th cyclist killed this year. That’s more than the total number of people killed on bikes during all of last year…and it’s only August. The same terrible statistic is true for hit-and-run crashes: More people have been killed by drivers who fled the scene so far in 2016 than in all of last year.

We are rallying a citywide coalition of people on bikes to ride together on September 15th. Families for Safe Streets, Right of Way, and Kidical Mass are all riding with us — and more are signing on every day. Please say you’ll ride with us.

New cyclists, teenagers, families and older New Yorkers will lead the ride, because if they are not safe, then we are all in danger. This will be a peaceful protest ride, and we need you there.

In solidarity,

Paul Steely White, Caroline Samponaro, and the whole TransAlt Team

P.S. We need every cyclist in New York to be in the streets on September 15. Invite everyone you know.

With more than two weeks until the ride 544 people have already RSVP’d via Facebook.

This is the transportation reform movement at its most powerful: Getting a huge number of people in the streets to make it clear that the status quo isn’t acceptable and more must be done. This is what was at the essence of Critical Mass, the movement that put the need for cycling infrastructure and respect on the map. This is the type of unified display of outrage that led to the Kindermoord movement in the 1960s in Amsterdam and sparked that city’s legendary legacy of traffic culture reform.

What about Portland? Do you feel like we’ve reached the crisis level? Is so, what should our response be?

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post How New York City advocates are responding to their unsafe streets crisis appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Mayor Hales has advice for bike advocates: Get louder and get organized

Mayor Hales has advice for bike advocates: Get louder and get organized

Hales spoke in the new public plaza on SW 3rd yesterday.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hales spoke in the new public plaza on SW 3rd yesterday.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales offered a very unexpected admonition during an informal, invite-only meeting yesterday. It was a veiled criticism of Portland’s transportation advocates — and bike advocates in particular. Yes, you read that right, bike advocates: the group many Portlanders (mistakenly) assume wields unlimited power in City Hall.

Hales’ comments came at the end of a brief speech he gave while standing in the new Ankeny Plaza on SW 3rd in front of about two dozen advocates, city staffers, and other local leaders. His remarks were mostly about his support for Better Naito, the importance of great public spaces and the city’s new “livable streets strategy.” But then he ended with a plea for more support from advocates — many of whom were standing right in front of him.

I happened to have my recorder on. Here’s the transcript (with my emphasis added):

“Let me make a brief political announcement for those of you who are advocates. And that is, when you have a progressive city government with progressive city bureaus, that doesn’t mean that the good things will always happen on auto-pilot. Advocacy is still necessary. The enemy of this kind of progress generally is not loud opposition. I mean, everything we do has some backlash; we do get some phone calls to my office complaining about Better Naito. But that will happen whether we do something or we don’t do something. So the problem isn’t opposition, the problem is just inertia and taking things for granted. So for those of you who are advocates, even though this is Portland, remember that a lot of the success we’ve had as a city is because bike advocates have been loud and clear about where we should go.

So my political advice to all of you as bike advocates is keep being loud and keep being clear because that will empower a council that already wants to do the right thing, to do so. And don’t just assume it will happen without advocacy because drift is the enemy. That’s my political admonition and good advice to my friends.”

I caught up with Hales afterward and asked for clarification. He offered affordable housing advocates as a model to follow:

“Complacency is the enemy. Just because we’re Portland, just because we have a progressive city council and progressive transportation bureau doesn’t mean we’ll go at the pace that we should. So advocates need to advocate.

And if you need an example of how spectacularly successful that can be, take a look at our housing agenda. We just committed 45 percent of all available urban renewal money to afforable housing. We did that because we do have a housing crisis and everyone recognizes it; but the housing advocacy coalition has been very loud and very clear about what the city needs to do and that has helped advance that agenda. And I think the transportation advocacy community needs to be similarly vocal.”

And have you seen this playing out during your time in office? I asked.

“Yes. Again, I don’t want to be critical of my friends and allies; but it’s easy to get complacent… ‘Oh it’s Portland, of course they’ll do the right thing.’ Well, we should [do the right thing].”







He said that last part as we walked away, smiling, as if to say council will do the wrong thing unless advocates step up and speak up. And in my book, when someone says, “I don’t want to be critical of…” that means they do in fact want to be critical and they’re just trying to soften the blow.

“I don’t want to be critical of my friends and allies; but it’s easy to get complacent.”
— Charlie Hales, Portland mayor

It was a fascinating glimpse into the mind of Portland’s most powerful elected official. Three and-a-half years into his four-year term he’s imploring transportation reformers to do better so he and his council colleagues can move more quickly in their efforts to remake Portland’s streets.

Hales’ comments reminded me of similar remarks made by his predecessor Sam Adams. In June 2010 at the annual fundraising event for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Adams also tried to light a fire under bike advocates’ feet after not feeling enough love when he needed it. “What got us to the dance, won’t keep us dancing,” he told the crowd, who surely expected to hear nothing but effusive praise for the BTA on their big night. “Our success has not come without pushback,” he added.

Adams asked bike advocates to be louder and more supportive of city council, who were getting clobbered with negative feedback about the mayor’s proposal to spend $20 million from the city’s water bureau to help jump-start the Bike Master Plan. The BTA had just hired a new leader (Rob Sadowsky), and Adams sensed the time was right for a bit of prodding. “The new leadership of this organization combined with the existing advocacy can take us there,” he said. “City government cannot do it on our own.”

There was a similar context to both remarks. So, do they have a point? Or are they just scapegoating advocates for their own mistakes and lack of accomplishments in the area of bike infrastructure and innovative street designs?

I often think of a chicken-and-egg scenario as I watch this interplay between electeds and advocates:

ADVOCATE: Please do more!
POLITICIAN: No, you do more first, then we’ll do more!
ADVOCATE: No, you do more first then we’ll do more!
POLITICIAN: Ugh. I’ll go work a different issue then.

In the end, this might be a case of unrealistic expecations — on both sides of the equation.

As citizens (and especially as passionate activists) we want everything right away and we expect politicians to make it happen. That’s not a realistic expectation, but some of us still get frustrated with the pace of change. And mayors probably have unrealistic expecations of advocates — especially in a city like Portland where the reputation of a “bike lobby” is much more myth than reality. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a politician say, “We are really going to need the bike community’s support on this!” I wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills.

From my experience, absent a major tragedy or funding/project opportunity to rally around, it’s very rare for advocates (regardless of the issue) to coalesce around a single demand. This is especially true in today’s world where community activism has become disintermediated and democratized away from the traditional, institutional advocacy groups and toward individuals and the grassroots. In other words, if you wait around for unanimity from “the bike community,” you’ll never get anything done.

I’ve been very critical of Hales in the past, but I’m glad he spoke up about this. It’s an important discussion to have, especially as we welcome a new mayor to town, PBOT seems to have gotten its groove back, and the BTA is in the midst of a major re-structuring.

Stay tuned for details about an upcoming Wonk Night where we’ll discuss how we can all work together to move forward faster.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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‘Portlanders for Central City Bikeways’ Facebook group will help advocates network online

‘Portlanders for Central City Bikeways’ Facebook group will help advocates network online

centralcitygroup

Screen grab from the Facebook group.

Facebook is the most important organizing tool in the world right now — look at its success for everyone from Portland Tenants United to the president of Turkey — so it’s nice to see pro-biking volunteers putting it to strategic use.

As Portland gets ready to roll out a long-awaited network of protected bike lanes in its central city, there’s a new Facebook group for people in favor of biking improvements there.

Portlanders for Central City Bikeways was created Monday by Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike shop and valet in the South Waterfront. Here’s how he described his vision for the group in his first post:

I created this group so we can follow and mobilize support around the Central City Bikeway plan and implementation. Downtown Portland has the potential to become the best place in the United States to ride a bike to work, shopping, or home. Completing these bikeways will increase downtown livability, eyes on the street, and encourage people to ride bikes more which saves auto parking spaces for someone else.

It’s a public group, so anyone can easily join the conversation, post useful links or ideas, and suggest ways to make your voice heard by city leaders. Johnson kicked things off by posting the date, time and location of a city planning commission hearing next week that will discuss the long-term transportation plan for the central city. (This is related to, but not the same as, the short-term plan to spend $8.4 million on biking and walking improvements to central-city streets.) He also included the email to submit testimony.







About 10 years ago, when a network of protected bike lanes in central Portland and shared public bikes to help people use them both started to seem like real possibilities, the Shift email list and the forums and comments here on BikePortland were the main places Portland biking advocates could go to find each other and directly exchange information.

It’s taken many years and many arguments (some important, some probably less so) to get those big ideas approved and funded. This morning, one of those things finally arrived. In the next few months, public meetings will begin for the other.

This is an exciting time to be a biking advocate in the country’s best big city for biking. Many streets in Portland need improving, and thanks in part to voters there’s now quite a bit of cash ready to spend in every quadrant. Hopefully this downtown campaign will be both a model and a springboard for all the advocacy that comes next.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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BTA will ask members to ratify name change at annual meeting

BTA will ask members to ratify name change at annual meeting

BTA Annual meeting-2

BTA head Rob Sadowsky at the member’s meeting in 2012.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland-based biking advocacy group that is transitioning into a biking-walking-transit advocacy group plans to unveil its proposed new name on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

It’ll happen at the organization’s annual members meeting, which will be 5:30 to 7:30 at Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Avenue.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Monday that the organization’s board and staff will then ask members present for an up-or-down vote on the name proposal.

Because the BTA is a member-led nonprofit under Oregon law and section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code, the vote will be binding. State law requires two-thirds of members present to vote “yes.”

Sadowsky said he’s pretty confident that the new name will be approved.

“Those that show up create a quorum,” Sadowsky said. “If we can’t get 2/3 of people there excited about it, then what are we doing?”

The up-or-down vote will be binding. Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice.”

Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice,” both of which are available as corporate names in the state of Oregon. He said an intellectual property lawyer is currently working pro bono to make sure the names aren’t under trademark somewhere else.

Why not announce the name ahead of time, or conduct a mail-in vote? Sadowsky said it’s to make sure nobody squats on the relevant URLs and social media handles while the organization is waiting to see if members approve.

“The No. 1 name right now would cost us $2,000 to buy,” he said.

He also said the BTA “may have a new logo for the annual meeting, if it is done in time.” If not, he said, the new logo will be unveiled at the BTA’s Alice Awards fundraiser Sept. 24.

Also at the members’ meeting, the BTA will recognize people for its annual volunteer awards:

• Rookie Volunteer of the Year
• Under the Radar
• Advocacy Volunteer of the Year
• Scott Lieuallen Award
• Volunteer of the Year







The BTA has some recent experience with brand transitions. Since 2014, it’s been using the name “Healthy Streets” and the URL ourhealthystreets.org to refer to “multimodal work that engage[s] partners in deep collaboration,” as Sadowsky put it in a February email. For example, the BTA’s Vision Zero traffic safety advocacy, the Active Transportation Summit event and the For Every Kid Coalition that has pushed for regional Safe Routes to School funding were all done under that sub-brand.

Once the name is changed, the BTA will also be wrapping more direct political work into its mission by forming a 501(c)4 organization, which is allowed to spend more money on political lobbying, and maybe subsequently a political action committee that could directly endorse candidates and raise money for them.

The BTA also plans to reorganize into a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 arm focused on political advocacy.

Sadowsky said there’s a possibility of merging with another existing PAC, but that he couldn’t legally discuss details because he’s employed by a c(3). That’s a good example of why the BTA wants to create a c(4), he said.

Terry Dublinski-Milton, a volunteer for Portland’s existing Bike Walk Vote PAC, wrote in an email “there is an ongoing conversation” about merging with the new BTA.

“No decision has been made at this time,” Dublinski-Milton said.

There are various other complications to having both a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 focused on political advocacy. For example, the BTA will need to recruit a separate board for each with no more than three shared members.

For the BTA’s existing (c)3, it isn’t currently planning to change its member-led structure that requires members to vote on board members, name changes and so forth.

Tomorrow, he said, BTA staff are traveling to Seattle to meet with the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, two organizations that merged in December. Today, Cascade Bicycle Club is the name of the group’s (c)3, with Washington Bikes as the name of the group’s (c)4.

Sadowsky added that they’ll also meet with Rob Johnson, the former executive director of the Seattle-based multimodal Transportation Choices Coalition 501(c)3 organization. Johnson was elected to city council last year.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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