Kulongoski unveils climate change agenda: Where do bikes fit in?

Kulongoski speaking at an event
in Portland back in April.
(Photo © J. Maus)

At a press conference this morning in Portland, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski unveiled more details about the ambitious climate change agenda he’ll pursue in the 2009 legislative session.

The Portland Tribune reports that Kulongoski says climate change is, “the most important environmental and economic issue of our time.”

What will the governor do to address climate change?

The agenda he unveiled (PDF download here) included four sections: Greenhouse Gas Reductions; Energy Conservation and Efficiency; Renewable Energy; and — the section that is of most interest to us — Sustainable Transportation.

Most of his talk so far around “sustainable transportation” focuses on alternative fuels, hybrid cars, and the possibility of congestion pricing. While bicycles aren’t exactly front-and-center yet, there are some encouraging signs that they’ll play a role in his plans.

On the Sustainable Transportation page of his agenda, under the heading Expanding Transportation Options, the Governor states his legislation will focus on (emphasis mine),

Reducing discretionary trips in single occupancy vehicles will be a high priority, particularly in urban areas where more transportation choices exist. This will include an expanded Transportation Options program to help provide relief from high fuel prices and enhance community livability through expanded pedestrian and bicycle programs

Also under the heading of Sustainable Transportation is Kulongoski’s idea that would require ODOT to develop a “Least Carbon” planning model when they need to solve “transportation problems”. The agenda states:

This modeling directs ODOT to consider the least carbon option, such as increased investments in rail or transit, in order to relieve congestion, rather than just building additional capacity.

Too bad it didn’t say, “…increased investments in rail or transit, or bicycles…,” but I hope bikes officially sneak into that scheme before the language of this agenda is finalized.

Anyone who cares about making bikes more of a safe and viable transportation option for all Oregonians should stay vigilant as these policies and agendas take shape. There are big opportunities in 2009, but bikes will get left behind (as per usual) if we just sit back and assume politicians “get it” (because, unfortunately, the vast majority of them don’t).

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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15 years ago

…increased investments in rail or transit, or bicycles…, or walking.

We have to include walking, because we know lots of people drive across the street because it’s not safe to walk across the street. And starting up your car is when most of the carbon output can happen.