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Bigwigs set to roll on 8th annual 'Policymakers Ride'

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 18th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Policymakers Ride-39
In 2010, the ride showed regional officials
just how bad the Interstate Bridge is for bikes.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the spirit of the ancient proverb: "Tell me and I forget; show me and I remember; involve me and I understand," on Friday, dozens of Oregon and Southwest Washington's most prominent politicians and powerful bureaucrats will hop on bikes for the eighth annual "Policymakers Ride."

The invite-only ride, hatched in 2005 by staffers from Metro and Cycle Oregon, has grown considerably over the years. Its intent is simple: Instead of testifying to them at public meetings and writing them letters, get key decision makers onto a bike and show them the good, bad, and ugly of our regional bikeway and trail network (or what Metro calls "the Intertwine".)

That first year, they rode from Portland to Champoeg State Park to highlight the potential — and the need — for a better connection. In 2007 and 2010, they pedaled up into Vancouver. The ride has also ventured into Washington County, through Portland's bike boulevards, and more.

"From a policy perspective, this is one of the most important days on the annual cycling calendar."
— Jonathan Nicholas, VP of communications at ODS

This year's ride will have a decidedly eastern bent. Starting at McMenamin's Edgefield out near Troutdale, the riders will loop up to Marine Drive, head west to the I-205 multi-use path, then down to the buffered bike lanes on SE Holgate, east on the Springwater Corridor, make a stop in Gresham, and then head back to McMenamin's via the Gresham-Fairview path.

Mike Houck, a noted local natural areas activist and author of Wild in the City, organizes the ride. He says he puts the route together with the goal to, "Make elected officials, transportation planners, bike-ped practitioners and citizen activists know where we have made progress, where there are gaps or problematic segments of the system, and where funding needs to be directed to help build out a safe, interconnected system."

Also known as the "Visionary Voyage" the ride is a chance to take a broad look at the regional trail and pathway system and dream big. They'll make several stops on the ride, and at each one, experts will discuss projects in the works, challenges to making connections, and so on.

At the first stop on Marine Drive near the Chinook Landing boat facility, the group will discuss how to connect the Intertwine network with Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Stop two will be at the site of Gateway Green, where City Commissioner Nick Fish and citizen activist Linda Robinson will discuss how it relates to the Sullivan's Gulch Trail and the E-205 initiative. At the third stop in Gresham, the group will hear from the Director of the Chamber of Commerce and will discuss the economic development potential of better bicycling connections into and from Gresham.

Lined up to speak are: US Forest Service Resources and Planning Officer Lisa Northrop; Kristen Stallman, the scenic areas coordinator for ODOT Region 1 (she's working on a project to restore the Historic Columbia River Highway); and Renee Tkach, the Gorge Towns to Trails project coordinator for Friends of the Gorge.

Who are some of the notables expected to show up? So far on the list is: President of Metro Council, Tom Hughes; Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart; Oregon Senator Jackie Dingfelder; State Represenative Tobias Read; Metro Councilors Shirley Craddick, Kathryn Harrington and Rex Burkholder; Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten; City Commissioner Nick Fish; reps from Senator Ron Wyden, congressman Earl Blumenauer and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici's offices; State Senator Ginny Burdick; transportation advisor to Governor Kitzhaber Lynn Peterson, and others.

Many of the attendees are not regular bike riders. And that's just the point. One of the ride's founders, Jerry Norquist of Cycle Oregon, says it's about showing the hazards to decision makers first hand. "They see what a commuting cyclist is faced with on a daily basis... This isn't Cycle Oregon, we're not sweeping the roads; and that's important. If we're going to develop a world-class system, let's show them we're making some good decisions; but we've also got plenty of things we can improve on."

Another ride founder, former columnist for The Oregonian (and now VP at ODS Health) Jonathan Nicholas says, "From a policy perspective, this is one of the most important days on the annual cycling calendar." He shared via email this morning that both of Portland's mayoral candidates are expected to show up. "And who could resist the allure of Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith going head-to-head in front of 150 policy wonks."

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Comments
  • Todd Boulanger July 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Joinathan...a correction: this ride has been and I assume still a bi-state ride , so

    "On Friday, dozens of Oregon's [and SW Washington's] most prominent politicians and powerful bureaucrats will hop on bikes..."

    See you on Friday out there.

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  • A.K. July 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    This is a great idea. There are some things you can't make informed decisions on unless you experience them directly.

    It might look good on paper, but unless you've ridden it (I-205 bike path *cough*COUGH*) you may not understand just how annoyingly poor the implementation is.

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  • Andrew K July 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I've heard about this before and I think it's brilliant.

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  • Charlie July 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    This ride is a GREAT idea.

    One thing I found funny though is the picture with the caption about how bad the I5 bridge is for bikes. I commute to Vancouver off and on and opt for the I5 every time rather than the I-205. The I-205 is noisy, dusty, windy and just generally sucks. Kind of like the bike path next to I-84. What a waste.

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  • Fred Lifton July 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Oh boy, I hope they ride 33rd in from Marine Drive so they can see the death-defying connection you have to make to get around Columbia and back up to 33rd. It's the worst.

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  • Chris July 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I think they should ried down SE Foster to see how crappy it is for some of us who ride it on occasion. A cyclist was in a minor accident on SE Foster this morning. The driver coming out of the YMCA parking lot probably didn't care much to approach the sidewalk with caution before the small collision on the sidewalk. On Foster, you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

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    • jim July 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Foster does need attn. there are a lot of poor people in that area that walking and cycling is their only way of getting around. There have been so many accidents there and yet they get nothing. For a major arterial to not have decent facilities is really bad. It doesn't have to be a 100 million dollar project to make it better, just simple stuff that can be done without a lot of fuss.

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  • Joe Rowe July 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Even perfect Columbia bridge bike lanes would increase cycling only a fraction we would get from fixing the mess created by all the streetcar tracks. The streetcar tracks and their poor layout cause far more people to avoid bikes.

    Include Foster, Sandy, Powell, Lombard, and 82nd. Both bikes and pedestrians face serious safety crossing those. PBOT has ignored the deaths on Lombard in their most recent poster they haul to public events.

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  • jim July 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I was looking at the picture of the riders on the bridge and had a thought, what if we had a giant plexi tube with canisters you climb into with your bike and then a big poof of air blasts you across the river...just like the mail tubes.

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  • Thom July 19, 2012 at 8:31 am

    They need some Clackamas county politicos on this ride. It feels like Clackamas Co. is Metro's bastard stepchild, and our county commissioners tend to be strongly anti-bike, anti transit.

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  • Paulie July 19, 2012 at 9:52 am

    If they want to "...see what a commuting cyclist is faced with on a daily basis..." they need to get off the MUPs and try cycling on the street. That's where commuters are riding.

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  • Mike Houck July 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Couple things for the record, Mike Houck doesn't organize the ride. We have a crack group of cycling, trail, and park advocates who have worked as a team tor the past 8 years. The ride planning is a team effort.

    Regarding electeds from Clackamas County, we do make a concerted efforts to involed electeds, as Jonathan pointed out from around the region, including Clark County [County Commission Chair Steve Stuart will be on the ride tomorrow], including Clackamas County. The Interwine---the bi-state system of parks, trails, and natural areas---- reaches from the Lewis River in northern Clark County south to the confluence of the Molalla and Pudding Rivers and east-west from the foothills of the coast range to the Cascade foothills. Lynn Peteson, former Clackamas Country Chair and now transportation advisory to the Governor has helped plan previous rides, two of which were in Clackamas County. She'll be there tomorrow as well.

    Thanks, Jonathan for getting this information out and it's gratifying to see the comments from your readers. If any of you have suggestions of what policy makers to invite next year let us know.

    Mike Houck
    Urban Greenspaces Institute and
    The Intertwine Alliance

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  • Zaphod July 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I served coffee at this event as a donation to the cycling community. The rolling bike-cafe really getting a workout with everyone showing up at once with many in need of a cup. It was great to meet so many cycling/livability visionaries and support the cause.

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