Posted by Will Vanlue (Contributor) on March 7th, 2012 at 12:01 pm
(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.
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.