Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on March 24th, 2008 at 3:27 pm
Governor Ted Kulongoski addressed Oregon residents with his ‘State of the State’ speech on Friday.
In it, he talked about how transportation is one of his top five policy priorities. He mentions the importance of funding roads and bridges, seaports, airports, and railroads. All good places to invest for sure.
But in all of his talk about our transportation, congestion, traffic safety and climate change problems, the bicycle — a particularly cheap and readily-available solution to all of the above — didn’t even merit a mention.
Fortunately he seems clearly aware of the problem:
“Our transportation infrastructure is still not keeping up with population growth or freight traffic…Millions of Oregonians sit in traffic every day and fume – and I don’t mean tailpipe emissions, although that’s a problem too. Congestion is frustrating. It’s costly. It adds to global warming. And if we don’t act – it is going to get worse.”
He also seemed adequately energized on the topic:
“This problem must be solved the right way – the Oregon way! Oregon must have the greenest transportation system in the country. This will not happen if all we do is build more roads. In the words of transportation experts – the system must be multi-modal.”
I know what you’re thinking… this was the perfect opportunity for him to mention bicycles. But he goes on,
“That means alternatives fuels for our cars and trucks. And even more important – alternative vehicles, like electric cars and light rail, to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels.”
He forgot to mention the simple, fossil-fuel-free method thousands of people in Portland and across the state use to get to work everyday — the bicycle.
I realize bike traffic is not quite the political heavyweight that “freight traffic” is, but believe it or not those two concepts aren’t just connected, they’re complementary. In Amsterdam, freight interests fully support the encouragement of bicycle use as a way to clear roads of single-occupancy vehicles that stand between their trucks and tulip buyers who pay top dollar for freshly cut flowers.
Fortunately, Governor Kulongoski will get an up-close look at bike traffic when he visits Amsterdam at the end of this month.
I’m not down on the Governor. I’m confident he’ll support bike-related measures when they come up in the Legislature next session. After all, he said in his speech that he’ll, “present a comprehensive transportation package to the Legislature that will be larger, greener, safer, and more strategic than anything we’ve done before.”
It will be our responsibility to make sure that’s a promise he keeps and that the next speech he gives about transportation doesn’t leave out vehicles of the human-powered and two-wheeled variety.