Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 15th, 2011 at 11:22 am
for political action.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Bike. Walk. Vote. — Portland's only political action committee that focuses solely on how candidates stack up on biking and walking issues — is about to awaken after a hiatus in the last election.
The group is planning a re-launch party on December 4th in Southeast Portland and they've already got Oregon House Representative Jules Bailey and Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen lined up as speakers.
Bike. Walk. Vote. was first active in the 2004 elections. Between 2004 and 2008, they helped turn out sympathetic voters and endorsed bike and walk-friendly candidates. The group worked on races in the city of Portland, Multnomah County, and in Salem.
"It had become clear that the active transportation community needed to re-enter the political realm, and that the community’s demand and energy are ready for it."
— Evan Manvel
According to Evan Manvel, one of the group's founders, there was a lull in activity after 2008 when several of the board members became busy with other work and didn't have time to participate. Manvel served as Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance from 2005 to 2007 and now works as a communications consultant for conservation groups.
Manvel says since Bike. Walk. Vote. went dormant, there have been a number of developments on issues he feels show the urgent need to elect more candidates that will make biking and walking a priority. Manvel points to recent decisions by Metro to add thousands of acres of forest and farmland to the Urban Growth Boundary, "despite a $40 billion backlog for funding sidewalks, cycling paths, transit, and other essential infrastructure," as one of those issues.
Manvel also points to Metro's recent support for the Columbia River Crossing highway mega-project and the City of Portland's largely unfunded Bike Plan for 2030 as other issues that signify the need for more political activism in the region.
works the Hawthorne Bridge
(Photo: Bike. Walk. Vote.)
"The same year the Plan was approved, the popular bike corral program was scaled back and unable to meet the demand for new installations due to a lack of funding," Manvel told us in a recent email. "If we have trouble funding something as simple as bike corrals, one wonders how will we fund world-class facilities like cycle tracks (or, for that matter, even the basics like sidewalks in East Portland) and reach our goal of 25% of trips by bike."
Despite these "setbacks," Manvel says support for biking and walking from citizens and grassroots activist groups is at an all-time high. "It had become clear that the active transportation community needed to re-enter the political realm, and that the community’s demand and energy are ready for it."
Bike. Walk. Vote. now boasts new energy, a new mission (expanding to include health and transit) and new faces including Willamette Pedestrian Coalition director Steph Routh, BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky (although he'll be representing himself during BWV activities since the BTA is not allowed to participate in promotion of political candidates), and Portland State University graduate Peter Welte.
With potentially three seats turning over on Portland City Council (including mayor) and three Metro Council vacancies that need to be filled, there's no shortage of work that lies ahead. The launch party on December 4th will be a great time to plug into this group as they'll need all the help they can get.
"We'll be as big as our supporters make us," says Manvel. "We want to be involved in making sure Portlanders elect candidates who best support biking, walking, and transit."
The Bike. Walk. Vote. website will be relaunched soon. For now, head on over and enter your email address to stay posted and get involved. For details on the December 4th launch party, see the event page on Facebook.