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BTA building grassroots advocacy in Washington County

Posted by on March 7th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Knowing where to focus your energy in Washington County can be as tough as navigating the county’s roads on a bicycle.
(Photos: Will Vanlue/BikePortland)

There’s a lot going on in Washington County’s bicycling and transportation circles. Soon the Transportation Plan Citizen Advisory Committee will convene and County Commissioners are working to decide which projects will be funded by the Major Streets Transportation Improvement Program (MSTIP).

Over half of residents in Washington County want more investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure (and less investment in highways) but with different jurisdictions and committees overseeing different projects it can be difficult for citizens to know how to get involved.

To help build the grassroots enthusiasm for bicycling in Washington County, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is working to give citizens the tools they need to get their voices heard.

As Susan Peithman, BTA’s Statewide Advocate, explained,

“…change in Washington County needs to come from both the policy maker level and the grassroots level. We are working to create a network of citizen advocates across the County in order to amplify the voice for safe and healthy streets.”

To build that grassroots network the BTA is working with Washington County residents to help them connect with elected officials by holding a series of “focus groups” to gather input on upcoming transportation projects.

BTA volunteer Harmony Bliss calls
Washington County residents to
let them know about upcoming
events in their district.

Recently the BTA sent out an email alerting Washington County residents to the fact that decisions will soon be made regarding the allocation of MSTIP funding. The message gave citizens instructions on how to contact their County Commissioner. Dozens of letters supporting bicycling and walking were sent to the Commissioners.

Officials are already taking notice and are incorporating citizen’s concerns into the evaluation process for the next round of MSTIP funding.

In a response to constituents’ letters, Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck confirmed the county has evaluation criteria in place to make sure projects address connectivity in the bicycle and pedestrian transportation network.

Duyck also said the county is developing a comprehensive “toolkit” of bicycle infrastructure (emphasis mine):

“Projects funded under MSTIP 3d will benefit from the work our staff is doing now to develop a Bicycle Facility Design Toolkit that will incorporate bikeway treatments other than standard on-street bike lanes. Selection of the appropriate bikeway facility for a particular project will depend on a number of variables (cost, right-of-way constraints, etc.), but the Toolkit will provide more options to our project designers.”

People who took action to contact their Commissioner also got a follow up call from a BTA volunteer to give them early notice of the upcoming “focus groups” the BTA is hosting in partnership with the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition. Information collected at the meetings will be shared with County Commissioners. Peithman hopes input from the meetings will also be considered by the Citizen Advisory Committee as they weigh in on the county’s Transportation Plan update.

The first meeting, held last night in Forest Grove, attracted a half dozen passionate people in the county’s 4th District. Meetings in the other three districts are schedule for tonight, tomorrow, and next week.

If you want more information about MSTIP or want to get involved in Washington County you should definitely considering attending one of the BTA’s upcoming events:

    Wednesday, March 7th (District 2)
    Mad Greek Deli, 18450 NW W Union Rd, Bethany
    5:30pm – 7:30pm

    Thursday, March 8th (District 1)
    Billy’s Bar, 13095 SW Canyon Rd, Beaverton
    5:30pm – 7:30pm

    Thursday, March 15th (District 3)
    Fanno Creek Brewpub, 12562 SW Main Street, Tigard
    5:30pm – 7:30pm

    To find out which district you live in, check out the county’s Commissioner Lookup.


Follow all our Washington County bike news here. Contact Will Vanlue, will [at] bikeportland.org with tips and feedback.

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Comments
  • K'Tesh March 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I can do one… maybe two of them.

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  • Paul Johnson March 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    The problem with off-street treatments is twofold:

    1) Where are you going to put ‘em?
    2) What infrastructure on-street are they connecting to?

    The second is a sticking point for the completion of the Westside Regional Corridor, which already has some serious issues along it’s existing route, the most egregious being the five-way intersection of Millikan, TV and Westside Corridor, in which corridor traffic has a stop sign, and the signal doesn’t take this into consideration, forcing either an awkward crosswalk turn or a mad dash across the intersection.

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    • wsbob March 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Paul…not sure what you mean by “off-street treatments”.

      In the story, the reference to ‘toolkit’ is important to have some understanding of: “…Duyck also said the county is developing a comprehensive “toolkit” of bicycle infrastructure …”.

      If you can find the link to the Beaverton Civic plan Land Use Transportation Strategies (hint: it’s in a thread over in the forums ‘All about the Westside’ category.), pg 65 is the start of that document’s ‘Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Toolbox’. Included in that toolbox are a number of the pedestrian bike supporting infrastructure elements people read about regularly here at bikeportland. Maybe some of those are what you’re thinking of.

      Things are happening out in Washington County. Consequences to travel ability are potentially dire. Improvements to roads out here that could be made and ultimately will be made are likely not the same. Examples of relatively recent heavy increases in motor vehicle use in the county, and the consequences, exist already, Cornell Rd and 185th being two glaring examples. Provisions for motor vehicle travel have turned those roads into something monstrous. Adjoining neighborhoods are served by them, but suffer from them. The roads are equipped with bike lanes and sidewalks, but the conditions…user experience for both are hostile.

      In no small part because it’s near where I live, Hall Blvd between Cedar Hills Blvd and the light rail tracks is for me a classic example of what’s wrong with prioritization of ‘active transportation’ in Beaverton and probably Washington County in general. Ride Hall northbound, and it’s obvious that the road should have full continuous bike lanes from the light rail tracks to CHB, but they don’t…reason being, as I’ve been told, is that providing this infrastructure would require securing easements with adjacent property owners to make room for the bike lane.

      That’s money, and obviously something local leaders and politicians don’t like asking the public for more of than they’re already dishing out. The bike lanes should have been made continuous, long ago.

      I’d appreciate reports about discussion that occurred in those meetings. I probably should have gone to the meeting at Billy’s Bar, since that one was nearby.

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