Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 17th, 2012 at 4:37 pm
It's been a full day of networking, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and speeches here at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit.
I don't have time to share the details of everything just yet (have a session to get back to!); but I wanted to share a few photos and brief notes.
The day started out with an opening keynote from Anita Hairston, a transportation policy expert with PolicyLink, a research organization that advocates for economic and social equity. Hairston shared what PolicyLink has learned about how to go beyond the usual suspects and reach into a broader audience for active transportation. (Many advocates are struggling with how to get their messages into more racially diverse and lower income communities.)
Hairston emphasized the people, the "faces" behind transportation project decisions, saying that successful community engagement needs to be "inclusive, accessible, and transparent." One audience member asked how advocates and planners could their messages into communities where biking and walking are not on the radar. "Get trusted, local messengers," advised Hairston, "Then carefully listen to the community voice and wisdom."
Events like this are made great by the people you meet and get to chat with between the sessions and speeches...
I met Birgit Hesse with Cambia Health Solutions (formerly Regence)...
Birgit is in charge of Cambia's bike commuter group and is planning a big event for Bike to Work Day in May with bike commuter groups at other organizations in the health care industry.
I then peeked into a breakout session on bike travel and tourism...
Jerry Norquist, Cycle Oregon ride director and president of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association shared results of an economic impact report on event rides that was completed late last year. The report analyzed spending around 11 different event rides around the country (like Cycle Oregon and RAGBRAI). They heard back from over 3,000 people and found that the total annual economic impact is $32.6 million.
Cycle Oregon alone represents $5.5 million in spending in the one week of their ride. Norquist estimates that a forthcoming statewide economic impact report will show that bicycle recreation and industry is worth $400 million in Oregon. The goal of collecting this economic impact data, Norquist said, is to use it to make the case to build more bike-friendly infrastructure.
Across the hall, I then walked into a conversation about how Oregon's complete streets policy (our 1971 "Bicycle Bill"), compares to the adopted policy of the National Complete Streets Coalition.
It was, at times, a charged discussion that delved into ODOT's major gaps in implementing complete streets. Some leaders around the room, including Rob Sadowsky of the BTA, wondered if it's time to revise the Bicycle Bill. Others said perhaps the time has come to improve it and "give it more teeth."
Below is ODOT's Sustainability Program Manager Margi Bradway...
Back in the hallway, I bumped into Kirk Flannigan, a US Forest Service Ranger with the Deschutes National Forest in Sisters...
He's overseeing an exciting project proposed initially by the Sisters Trail Alliance that would build a 7.9 mile paved path from Sisters to Black Butte Ranch. The path is being approached, not as a recreational project, but as a transportation project. "The communities of Sisters, Toll Gate, and Black Butte Ranch want to be connected, and this path would do that... It's essentially a small road going through the forest," Kirk said.
The path would wind through a thinned-out forest of Ponderosa pines and it would be ADA accessible. So far, it's only in the early planning stages, but there's wide community support and the Forest Service is on board.
This is Marcus Marchand, he's down at the Summit as an employee of the Portland Business Alliance (PBA)...
Marcus heads up the PBA's ambassador program, which is a team of people that walk and bike the streets of downtown Portland offering advice and information to anyone who needs it (especially shoppers and tourists). Marcus says the PBA plans to hire four more ambassadors by this summer (bringing total number to seven), and they'll work mostly by bike. Marcus rides an Xtracycle and they recently bought a Trek trike and an Icicle Tricycle. Look for the new wheels on the streets soon!
My notebook and audio recorder are full of more stuff I'm looking forward to sharing it in the coming days. There was also a big announcement from PBOT by director Tom Miller and a 'Bikes Mean Business' panel that I'll share more about in a separate post.
Next up this evening is the final speech of the day — the Director of ODOT, Matt Garrett, will share insights into the major evolution happening at the agency. Stay tuned for my interview with him from yesterday and more coverage.