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Oregon comes to the table for “Active Transportation”

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 4th, 2008 at 9:52 pm

This story is part of my ongoing coverage of the 2008 National Bike Summit. See the rest of my coverage here.


Rails to Trails Conservancy meeting-5.jpg
Kevin Mills of the RTC (center) hosted the meeting.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) held a meeting today to discuss their 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation. The plan calls for 40 communities to vie for $50 million each to invest in non-motorized projects that increase biking and walking. RTC is tooling up to make a major push to Congress next fall to include the plan in the 2009 Transportation Bill.

With that kind of money at stake, Oregon advocates were all ears.

In fact, of the 25 people in the room, eight of them were from Oregon. The Oregon contingent included: Emily Gardner from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), Roger Geller from the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), Metro Council President David Bragdon, Scott West from Travel Oregon, and Veronica Rinard from Travel Portland.

Others cities represented around the table were Miami, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Kansas City, and others.

Rails to Trails Conservancy meeting-4.jpg
Metro President David Bragdon listens
to Kevin Mills from the RTC.

Kevin Mills from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy urged everyone to begin to develop "case statements" that are like applications for why their city should be part of the program. Mills said they hope to gather all the individual city case statements and create a national case statement they can put before Congress as early as next fall.

Mills gave attendees the lay of the land from his Washington DC perspective. He said that while the highway-building mindset still rules at the national level (he referred to a recent report on the future of America's transportation funding failed to even mention bicycles or walking), he also said he thinks it's "really probable" that the next re-authorization of the Transportation Bill (in 2009) could lead to "transformational change".

The shape and rate of that change will be molded by uber-advocates like Deb Hubsmith from Marin and bureaucrats like Portland's very own Roger Geller.

At the meeting, Hubsmith (also known for her work on Safe Routes to Schools) shared what she's been doing with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. Hubsmith told the group, "Every time there's an opportunity to generate transportation revenue, we go after it and make sure bike and ped is a part of it." She also said they have worked with several cities in their county to adopt "complete streets" resolutions.

Geller presented his ideas for how Portland could "maximize mode shift" with an influx of funding. "We've had only 0.7% of the transportation budget in the last ten years," he said, "that's $1 per capita, compared to $30-40 per capita in Amsterdam. If you look at what we've done with that, bicycling is a great investment, we're a very good transportation buy."

With the transportation debate sure to heat up in 2009, you can bet the RTC's 2010 Campaign will be right in the middle of it.

Learn more at RailstoTrails.org or read my previous coverage here and here.

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Comments
  • Jim Labbe March 4, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    At the top of our region\'s \"case statement\" ought to be the local and regional matching dollars we can bring to the table for bike paths, greenways, and multi-use trails. That includes atleast $18 million funds from 2006 Natural Areas Bond Measure. It will also hopefully include funds raised from local park system development charges (one-time fees on new development) which- by the way- are on the Portland City Council\'s docket tomorrow (2pm City Hall). The City Council will take public testimony a proposal that includes $18.3 million for new trails over the next 12 years:

    http://www.urbanfauna.org/images/NEWTrails.jpg

    Jim

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  • a.O March 4, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    That 09 Transportation Bill \"transformational change\" is starting right here in PDX and going nationwide. It\'s ONE MILLION BIKES. America\'s ready, and so are we, right?

    Fantastic to see Portland so far out ahead on national policy, true to form. Nice work, yall.

    The Revolution Will Not Be Motorized!

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  • Scott Mizée March 5, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Jim Labbe makes a very important comment. Roger Geller came and spoke at an npGREENWAY a while back telling about the need to support the Maximum Mode Shift package. This is very important for funding construction of the North Willamette Greenway Trail that npGREENWAY is advocating for. It is also important for other bicycle transportation facilities in the city. Lets pull together as a community to do everything we can to secure this federal funding opportunity!

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  • Mmann March 5, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Anything that will help extend the Springwater out the remainder of the old railbed all the way to Estacada would be awesome. It\'s just sitting there waiting...

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