Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 4th, 2008 at 9:52 pm
This story is part of my ongoing coverage of the 2008 National Bike Summit. See the rest of my coverage here.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) held a meeting today to discuss their 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation. The plan calls for 40 communities to vie for $50 million each to invest in non-motorized projects that increase biking and walking. RTC is tooling up to make a major push to Congress next fall to include the plan in the 2009 Transportation Bill.
With that kind of money at stake, Oregon advocates were all ears.
In fact, of the 25 people in the room, eight of them were from Oregon. The Oregon contingent included: Emily Gardner from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), Roger Geller from the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), Metro Council President David Bragdon, Scott West from Travel Oregon, and Veronica Rinard from Travel Portland.
Others cities represented around the table were Miami, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, Kansas City, and others.
Kevin Mills from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy urged everyone to begin to develop “case statements” that are like applications for why their city should be part of the program. Mills said they hope to gather all the individual city case statements and create a national case statement they can put before Congress as early as next fall.
Mills gave attendees the lay of the land from his Washington DC perspective. He said that while the highway-building mindset still rules at the national level (he referred to a recent report on the future of America’s transportation funding failed to even mention bicycles or walking), he also said he thinks it’s “really probable” that the next re-authorization of the Transportation Bill (in 2009) could lead to “transformational change”.
The shape and rate of that change will be molded by uber-advocates like Deb Hubsmith from Marin and bureaucrats like Portland’s very own Roger Geller.
At the meeting, Hubsmith (also known for her work on Safe Routes to Schools) shared what she’s been doing with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. Hubsmith told the group, “Every time there’s an opportunity to generate transportation revenue, we go after it and make sure bike and ped is a part of it.” She also said they have worked with several cities in their county to adopt “complete streets” resolutions.
Geller presented his ideas for how Portland could “maximize mode shift” with an influx of funding. “We’ve had only 0.7% of the transportation budget in the last ten years,” he said, “that’s $1 per capita, compared to $30-40 per capita in Amsterdam. If you look at what we’ve done with that, bicycling is a great investment, we’re a very good transportation buy.”
With the transportation debate sure to heat up in 2009, you can bet the RTC’s 2010 Campaign will be right in the middle of it.