to School during a visit by the U.S.
Surgeon General in April 2008.
(Photos © J. Maus)
Dr. Mel Kohn has been named the new head of the Oregon Public Health Division, which is set to become part of the new Oregon Health Authority. Kohn had been serving as the acting public health director and state health officer since September 2008.
Kohn also happens to be a regular bike rider who has shown engagement and interest in encouraging the use of bicycles — especially through the Safe Routes to School program — for years.
I first met Dr. Kohn at Walk and Bike to School Day back in October 2005. In 2006 he joined a group of families and Safe Routes staffers for a ride through Southeast Portland. In 2008, Kohn told The Oregonian that, “If we get people out of their cars, not only do we reduce pollution, but we also get them walking.”
Dr. Kohn was also a member of Governor Kulongoski’s Climate Change Integration Group, which published a report in March of 2008 that encouraged the state to invest more money in biking infrastructure as a key way to reduce greenhouse gases and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).
Most recently, I ran into Dr. Kohn at the Congressional Reception at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C.
Having someone like Dr. Kohn, who intimately understands the connection between biking and public health, in this important and influential position, is good news. He’ll join another high-ranking bike rider in Salem, new State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.