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Community Cycling Center vows to continue New Columbia, Cully programs despite grant cuts

Community Cycling Center vows to continue New Columbia, Cully programs despite grant cuts

Bike Hub opening at New Columbia-9

The New Columbia Bike Hub opens in 2012, offering basic bike repair tools, assistance and equipment loans in the North Portland development.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In 2008, Portland’s nonprofit bike shop kicked off an initiative to be known for more than reliable used bikes and Christmastime giveaways. And it succeeded.

The Community Cycling Center‘s 2010 report Understanding Barriers to Bicycling, based on interviews with dozens of residents of the New Columbia and Hacienda low- and mixed-income housing developments, is regularly cited around the country as a key piece of research about the ways bicycling decisions vary by race and ethnicity.

Last fall, the League of American Bicyclists opened their report “The New Movement: Bike Equity Today” with a summary of the CCC’s findings and the programs they spawned: a free community bike shop hub and bike skills course in New Columbia, and a family bike-fun group at Hacienda.

Take Back the Streets Ride-9

Take Back the Streets ride at New Columbia, August 2014.

After a few years, bicycle culture is clearly on the rise in both spots. Last summer, responding to a series of violent incidents in Portland, a few men involved with the New Columbia area approached the CCC for advice. Its organizers helped them create a widely attended Take Back the Streets ride through North Portland. Last November, we covered the Dia de los Muertos ride promoted by Andando en Bicicletas en Cully, the Hacienda-based family biking group, and Mujeres en Movimiento, another new Latina-led bike group in Portland.

helmet fit

A group ride from Hacienda to a Dia de los Muertos party in Northeast Portland.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

ABC has also succeeded in getting funding for secure bike parking to eventually be retrofitted into their development — something residents there had named in the 2009 interviews as one of their main reasons for not using bikes.

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But those and other CCC programs have been largely powered by government grants, and for one reason or another since 2011, those grants have dried up, at least for now.

CCC CEO Mychal Tetteh, a former manager of the CCC bike shop, returned to lead the CCC in the midst of that trend, in 2013. He said in an interview Sunday that the CCC grosses about $1 million a year from its Alberta Street bike shop, $250,000 to $300,000 from individual and corporate donations and (as of 2011) $380,000 or so from government and foundation grants and contracts.

But in the last four years, that $380,000 has fallen to $80,000. The Portland Children’s Levy, the federal Jobs Access Reverse Commute program and (as of last week) Metro’s Regional Travel Options program have all cut their support for CCC programs.

Last week’s loss of the Metro grant creates a $75,000 gap in the CCC’s budget starting July 1. That includes most of its staff support for both programs.

Bike Summit Lobby Day on Capitol Hill-18

Community Cycling Center CEO Mychal Tetteh, center.

Tetteh said the New Columbia and Hacienda programs have become “core” for the CCC and will continue no matter what.

“These are fundamental to the success of the Cycling Center going forward,” he said. “We’re committed to continuing the work that we do that’s nationally recognized. … This includes our commitment to our partners at New Columbia and Cully.”

Tetteh said he thinks the best long-term source of new funding for the CCC is government programs that aren’t specific to bicycling.

But he said that although the CCC is in some ways an “outlier” within the bicycle movement, sone of the biggest obstacles to CCC funding are the same “stigmas” that hold back other parts of the bike movement.

“If you’re sitting around the table and you’re making a deicison about a funding stream and in the back of your mind you think a bicycle is a toy and not a tool, then we still have a lot of work to do,” Tetteh said. “You’ve got to have a lot of inside game in a lot of different places to make that happen.”

Tetteh said that as Portland continues to grow and its population becomes more and more dominated by non-natives, it’s becoming more important for active transportation advocates to present their arguments in broadly appealing ways.

“We’re not necessarily having messages that are really appealing to people who sit in traffic all day.”
— Mychal Tetteh, CEO of the Community Cycling Center

“Traffic isn’t going to get any better,” Tetteh said. “Active transportation folks like us, we get it. [But] we’re not necessarily having messages that are really appealing to people who sit in traffic all day.”

Tetteh said Portland deserves to be more than a mediocre transportation town, and is in the “goldilocks zone of the goldilocks zone” as a place where bicycling has huge potential to keep growing.

So the CCC will find some way to continue its programs helping marginalized Portlanders use bikes in their daily lives.

“The urgency that we carry in the delivery of our mission means that we can’t sit around, we can’t hang our heads, if we don’t get funding,” Tetteh said. “The work has to continue.”

Want to help the CCC a bit while having a good time? Come to its Transportation Trivia event Tuesday evening at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, 2250 SE Water Ave at 6 pm. $10 at the door buys you a beer and a chance at trivia glory; bring a card or checkbook for optional donations to help the CCC.

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Regional Safe Routes program is one of many winners from Metro grants

Regional Safe Routes program is one of many winners from Metro grants

Mayor Adams at Safe Routes to School ride-2

A Safe Routes to School event in Portland, 2010.
Other cities will get regional funding
for the programs thanks to new Metro grants.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

With the federal government’s support for early biking education shrinking, the Portland area’s regional government is making a significant investment.

Safe Routes to School programs in Tigard, Beaverton and across the region are among the winners of $2.1 million in Metro grants announced Monday. Other highlights include a new active transportation staffer for Portland Community College, a bicycle tourism initiative in the Gresham area and continued support for the City of Portland’s marketing of biking, walking and public transit.

The $2.1 million in two-year grants were chosen from among $4.6 million requested by various nonprofits and government agencies around the region.

Monday’s official award announcement comes amid concerns about Metro’s decision, with this grant cycle, to eliminate funding for the city’s three transportation management associations. As we reported Saturday, this decision is likely to result in the closure of the Swan Island TMA, a two-person nonprofit that has played a major role in improving non-car transportation options to the inner North Portland industrial area.

“Metro sent a clear message. Sea change time.”
— Swan Island TMA Director Sarah Angell on changes to Metro grant recipients

This grant cycle’s cuts to the Swan Island, Lloyd District and Washington Park TMAs followed a trend from previous cycles to pull back on funding small transportation-focused groups in order to support organizations with multiple missions.

In 2013 and again this month, Metro denied grant requests from South Waterfront Community Relations to fund low-car transportation efforts in that neighborhood. In previous years, Metro had eliminated funding for similar programs in Clackamas County and Gresham.

One TMA did receive funding this year: the Westside Transportation Alliance, which the Washington County government shielded from any cuts. The City of Portland, which this year was again the largest single recipient of the program’s funds, did not make any such requests on behalf of any projects within its borders.

Washington TMA Executive Director Jenny Cadigan wrote on Friday that she was “shocked to be honest” by Metro’s decision not to renew funding for other TMAs. “It makes me even more grateful to have been awarded funds,” she added.

“Metro sent a clear message,” wrote Swan Island TMA Executive Director Sarah Angell. “Sea change time.”

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Despite the strong opinions related to the proposed elimination of TMA funding, there’s a lot to like in this project list, which is probably the biggest single source of active transportation program funding in the region. We’re certain to cover many of these projects as they have effects over the next two years.

For example, here’s Metro’s description of the PCC grant:

One of the new grantees is Portland Community College, which will use a $157,000 grant to hire a district-wide active transportation coordinator, install dozens of secure bicycle lockers at its Southeast and Cascade campuses and hold events and workshops to help students and staff learn how to safely walk and bike to class and work.

In previous cycles, the program generally hasn’t been used to pay for infrastructure. But that has changed this year, as Metro writes:

Also new to this cycle’s travel options grants are awards for light infrastructure, such as bike parking, on-road directional and use markings like sharrows and planning grants for local jurisdictions to kickstart implementation of local efforts to improve travel options for residents and commuters. Funded projects will provide easier navigation for pedestrians in Washington Park, fill a key bikeway gap in Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood, build bike shelters in Aloha and support planning for expanded travel choices in Washington County.

Here’s the full list of winners:

  • Portland Bureau of Transportation: Active Portland – Open Streets, Connected Communities, $465,000
  • Ride Connection: RideWise Urban Mobility Support and Training, $222,233
  • Westside Transportation Alliance: Westside Transportation Demand Management, $203,500
  • Beaverton School District: Safe Routes to School Program, $158,000
  • Portland Community College: Transportation Demand Management Coordinator and Bicycle Improvements, $156,822
  • Bicycle Transportation Alliance: Expanding Access to Bicycling, $155,040
  • City of Tigard: Safe Routes to School Coordinator, $150,000
  • Portland Public Schools: Healthy Travel Options to School, $125,000
  • Verde: Living Cully Walks, Phase 2, $102,127
  • Clackamas Community College: Student Transportation Initiative, $85,018
  • City of Gresham: Gresham Sharrows, $63,260
  • Washington County: Washington County Travel Options Planning, $50,000
  • West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce: Gorge Hubs and Business Outreach, $50,000
  • Gresham Chamber of Commerce: East Multnomah County Bicycle Tourism Initiative, $50,000
  • National Safe Routes to School Alliance: Regional Safe Routes to School Planning, $25,000
  • Housing Authority of Washington County: Aloha Park Bike Shelters, $15,000
  • City of Lake Oswego: Active Transportation Counters, $14,000
  • Washington Park Transportation Management Association: Transit to Trails Wayfinding, $10,000

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Biking wins big in Metro’s $2.1 million in ‘Regional Travel Options’ grants

Biking wins big in Metro’s $2.1 million in ‘Regional Travel Options’ grants

Harrison St Bike Garage at PSU

Portland State University won $150,000 to help build
a Central Campus Cycle Station that will be
even bigger and better than their Harrison
St Bike Garage shown here.

Metro just announced their grant awards for the Regional Travel Options program. The program, which funds, “projects to reduce the number of people driving alone, improve air quality and address community health issues,” doled out $2.1 million to 14 projects throughout the region. Portland won big with several important local (and bike-related) projects getting a slice of the pie. Check out some of the winners below…

Swan Island TMA – Grant award: $123,316
Go Swan Island! is a combination of programs tailored to Swan Island’s four largest employer sites and to Portland Community College’s new Swan Island Workforce Training Center. The project will use marketing strategies and new technologies to increase carpooling and capitalize on anticipated Swan Island business investments. These approaches will promote new travel options programs and $5 million in new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance – Grant award: $87,137
The Bike Commute Challenge is a fun, effective program targeting the Metro region that uses friendly competition, educational workshops, business outreach and events to create new bike commuters and to increase the cycling frequency of current riders. The BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge: the Next 3 Million Miles will grow the program in 2013-2015 with a geographic focus on East Portland/Gresham and Washington County and by implementing new strategies to make the program more accessible and appealing beyond white collar workplaces.

Lloyd Transportation Management Association – Grant award: $108,800
The Lloyd District Transportation Options Outreach and Infrastructure program will continue to leverage the Lloyd TMA’s successful commuter programs to a growing employee population, and build program expansion to the growing Lloyd District residential population, which is expected to double with planned developments between now and 2015. The program will also partner with the Lloyd EcoDistrict to achieve shared goals, and support the neighborhood as Oregon’s first established and fully functioning EcoDistrict.

Verde – Grant award: $130,000
Living Cully Walks will be an integrated series of activities that increase travel options, reduce pollution and improve mobility, including culturally-specific marketing to underserved communities, capacity building, efficient living, and data collection. This project will be a component of Living Cully: A Cully Ecodistrict, an equity-based strategy by Verde, Hacienda CDC and NAYA to introduce environmental assets into Cully in response to community needs, and to connect underserved residents to the design, construction and use of these assets.

Community Cycling Center – Grant award: $96,386
The Building Momentum: Empowering People, Connecting Communities program will increase healthy, active living by promoting bicycle ridership in socio-economically isolated and ethnically diverse communities in North and Northeast Portland. This project will increase and maintain mobility for vulnerable populations by working in collaboration with community partners to remove barriers to bicycling, applying culturally-relevant methods that develop community capacity for leadership and economic opportunity and advance effective transportation equity strategies.

Drive Oregon – Grant award: $148,158
In partnership with Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium at Portland State University and Kaiser Permanente, Drive Oregon will acquire, deploy and study the usage patterns of 30 folding electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) distributed to 180 Kaiser employees at three designated work sites. The pilot project and study will test user acceptance of e-bikes as a first/last mile commuting solution to help reduce single occupancy vehicle use, and create a replicable model for deployment within Kaiser as well as other area employers.

Portland Community College – Grant award: $66,894
Modeling the success of PCC Cascade’s Bike Program, the college will create the district-wide PCC Bike program serving students, and staff in Portland and Washington County. Bike rental programs for students will be at two locations, while self-repair vending machines, fix-it stations, events/workshops, bike commuting and safety information will be district-wide. PCC’s Bike program will increase access to transportation options leading to improved health, reduced financial strain, and increased use of sustainable practices.

City of Portland – Grant award: $400,000
Portland 20 for ‘20 is a multi‐faceted demand management project that will maximize area investments in active transportation and propel Portland to a 20 percent bicycling and walking mode split by 2020. The project includes targeted individualized marketing; comprehensive transportation demand management for new capital projects; support for events that encourage greater use of bicycling and walking; and performance measurement. This comprehensive approach will address the region’s triple‐bottom line by increasing active transportation use in Portland and improving health, safety, mobility, and quality of life.

Portland State University – Grant award: $153,316
The PSU Central Campus Cycle Station will provide 136 secure, sheltered bicycle parking spaces and commuter amenities at the core of the university campus. The goal of this facility is to induce more trips by bicycle to Oregon’s largest university, which has a significant impact on travel behavior both locally and regionally. Surveys of PSU students and employees consistently rank this type of facility as the most desirable benefit for new and emerging bicycle commuters.

This is very exciting news! We’ll keep you posted with details on these projects as they get rolling. Read about the full list of RTO grant recipients on Metro’s website.