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TriMet's bike access planner Colin Maher to leave at end of month

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 21st, 2011 at 10:06 am

Maher at the opening of
a Bike & Ride facility in July 2010.
(Photo: Jim Parsons)

TriMet's Bicycle and Pedstrian Access planner Colin Maher has accepted a new position in Australia and plans to leave the agency at the end of this month.

Maher, a graduate of Portland State University's urban and regional planning program, came to TriMet as their bike programs intern back in 2007. He has since become their go-to guy for all things bike, handling everything from controversial policy questions to nuts and bolts planning. His new position will be as Senior Planning in the Office for Cycling and Walking at the South Australia Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure in Adelaide.

Yesterday I asked Colin to reflect on the the past four years and share some of his memories and other insights...

What bike-related projects were you most proud to work on?
Bike & Ride - not only pilot projects, but the fact that bike parking was an integral part of the Portland-Milwaukie project from the beginning. Rose Quarter bike lanes - really the model for how city/transit/advocate partnerships can work. The Portland-Milwaukie bridge will a the lasting image of Portland's transportation priorities, so just being at the table was a great experience that will leave an impression. Also, BTA and TriMet working together on bus operator training.

Any big bike/transit lessons learned in the past few years?
The difference between policy and reality. Bike-friendly policies are important to send the message that bikes are welcome, but the reality is that there are limits to how many you can fit before it starts to affect the service for everyone else.

What was the hardest thing about your job?
That said, it is still frustrating to get complaints - whether the bike rack is full or it's safety-related - you want to provide the best customer service possible.

What do you think is the next big thing for the bike/transit nexus in Portland?
Besides the Open Trip Planner? Self-serve bike rental at suburban stations to complement the proposed bike share in the Central City. Also, fixes for bike-bus leapfrogging.

TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch shared with me this morning that, "Colin has helped take TriMet to the next level to balance the growing demand for both biking and transit in our region. He has been extremely creative in finding solutions that support the integrated use of both modes and extend the benefits of both."

Fetsch says TriMet plans to recruit a new "Active Transportation Planner" position to replace Maher.

Maher says he's excited for the opportunity that awaits him in Australia. In an email to colleagues he wrote, "Adelaide presents a whole new set of questions, starting with which one to bring on the train first: my bike or my surfboard?" (which, believe it or not, is an actual FAQ on the Adelaide transit system website).

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Comments
  • K'Tesh October 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Sorry to hear Colin's going, he's been a big help to us here. Hope the folks down under appreciate him as much as we do.

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  • Elliot October 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Surf's up, Colin! You've done a lot in just four years. Make sure to keep in touch.

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  • Alexis October 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Congrats Colin! Enjoy the surfing.

    I'm glad to hear TriMet is looking to maintain someone in the position of understanding transit integration with other active transportation. With bikeshare and other developments, that's an important component of a transit agency's service model.

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  • Scott October 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Who is that funny looking guy behind him in the picture? ;)

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  • Colin Cooper October 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Congratulations Colin! Australia's gain is our loss. You've been an effective advocate for connecting transit and bikes and making the last mile work for us here in Hillsboro.

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  • Steve B October 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Colin in an incredible asset to the Metro region, he has helped bring a lot of challenging ideas into fruition and established a new culture of customer service for cyclists at Trimet. Trimet is playing a vanguard role in creating real, lasting improvements for active transportation in our region. I hope we see that leadership furthered with Colin's successor.

    Australia will surely benefit from this transaction. Good luck, Colin!

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  • PoPo October 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Colin you have been a fantastic, calm, thoughtful, wise partner-in-bikes. Thanks for serving us all so well, and congrats on your new position!

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  • tonyt October 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I've known Colin for years now; first time I've ever seen him in a tie! Good luck Colin!

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  • Michael Andersen (Contributor) October 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Congrats, Colin! Portland will miss you.

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  • Sam Powrie January 4, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Hi Portlandites,
    Greetings from Adelaide, South Oz. Your loss, our gain I guess. Colin has come to a place with great potential for building bike culture. I think Adelaide is a sister-city to Portland. But maybe a bit bigger in area - we're about half the size of LA with around 10% of the population so we face a 'spatial challenge' as far as sustainable transport goes.
    Anyway, greetings to all,
    Savvas.

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