Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 24th, 2012 at 12:05 pm
secrets from US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland.org)
As you might expect at a conference about innovative street designs and city planning, the City of Portland has sent a team to participate. Here at the NACTO Designing Cities conference, I’ve bumped into several Bureau of Transportation staffers. I tracked them down during a break for lunch and asked each of them why they’re here…
Roger Geller has worked on bicycling in Portland for decades. He’s one of the national leaders in implementing innovative designs and policies. Even so, he knows learning from peers is invaluable. Roger said he’s here to “get the straight dope” from other bike planners about how they’re addressing road blocks and barriers when it comes to bike projects and policies. In an informal chat with US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Geller asked him why there aren’t more champions for cycling on Capitol Hill. (His answer: “People haven’t pushed them enough on it.”)
Paul Smith attended a panel session this morning titled: “Financing City Transportation Infrastructure.” Along with wanting to learn more about how cities are designing narrow streets, Paul said, “There’s lots of good discussion here in terms of things we haven’t thought of yet in terms of project financing.”
Peter Koonce is here to share the innovative traffic signal work he’s doing. “The MUTCD [Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal guidebook of signage and signal standards] doesn’t recognize all the bike signal work we are doing, but we’re using them and they’re working great.” Peter is known around the country for his signal work and is on the panel of editors for the newly released NACTO Urban Street Design Guide.
Tom Miller said he came because the agenda for this conference is the best one he’s seen in his eight years in working for the City. “It’s like, aahh, somebody understands me.” He was speaking about how the conference is focused like a laser on teaching (and re-training) city officials on how to implement innovative transportation projects. “NACTO is where America’s cities are generating the best ideas,” he said, “and generating the best outcomes on the ground.” Tom’s top priority while at the conference is to learn more about funding and financing of projects (which, I learned today, are two different things). “Portland needs to reinvent itself when it comes to funding.” As for which city he sees as a model for Portland, Miller said he’s taking more of a “cherry-picking” approach. “I’ll grab good ideas when I see them.”
Other locals that are here at the conference include noted economist Joe Cortright (here to speak about his “Green Dividend” research) and Vancouver, Washington resident Todd Boulanger (representing BikeStation).
— This is part of my ongoing New York City coverage. I’m here for a week to cover the NACTO Designing Cities conference and the city’s bike culture in general. This special reporting trip was made possible by Planet Bike, Lancaster Engineering, and by readers like you. Thank you! You can find all my coverage from this trip here.