“…if our only answer is highway expansion and not a multi-modal solution, then we are taking a step backward on global warming.”
–Gov. Ted Kulongoski
A few weeks ago, I pointed out that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski’s “State of the State” address forgot to mention bicycles when the topics of of our aging transportation infrastructure, congestion, and global warming came up.
But on Friday, Kulongoski made up for that omission in a speech to the Oregon Environmental Council where he laid out his transportation priorities for the 2009 legislative session.
In a wide-ranging address with several mentions of bicycles, reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT), transit, and even congestion pricing (!), he said he wanted the 2009 transportation plan to be “the largest, most strategic and greenest plan in Oregon history.”
His words will no doubt provide even more leverage for bike, transportation, and environmental advocates during their lobbying work in Salem this year. One local bike advocate attended Friday’s speech, and was so excited by what he had heard he called me immediately to share the news.
I’ve pasted some of the choice passages from his speech below.
In explaining how Oregon might reduce the all-important vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rate, he offered support for a bike commuter tax benefit:
“…we could expand our existing tax credits to businesses that encourage telecommuting, carpooling, biking and the use of public transportation.”
And his mention of congestion pricing as “simple supply and demand economics” has gotten a lot of media attention:
“…perhaps the most significant thing we can do is introduce performance-based pricing into our highway system. This is sometimes called congestion pricing.”
He said that our transportation infrastructure is “woefully outdated” and that;
“…we need to modernize, repair and maintain the current structures as well as provide Oregonians with transportation choices, including public transit, pedestrian walkways and bicycles.”
It’s great to see that bikes have made their way into the Governor’s language. I know that after leaving bikes out of his State of the State address he got a few phone calls from folks who were just as miffed as I was. And of course, he just returned from a trip to Amsterdam, where bikes surely left an impression on him.
Given this tough talk, it will be interesting to see how he does the political dance around the controversial Columbia River Crossing project — which will loom large over any talk of transportation next session.
In his speech Friday, Kulongoski said, “if our only answer is highway expansion and not a multi-modal solution, then we are taking a step backward on global warming.”
Speeches are one thing, but changing an entire bureaucracy which has an institutionalized bias against human-powered vehicles, is another indeed.
You can read the entire address here.