Community activists plan strong showing at final PBOT street fee town hall

Tweet from PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller on Friday

As the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation preps for their last Our Streets Town Hall event (this Thursday at 6:30 pm at Woodstock School), local transportation activists and advocacy groups are planning to make a strong final impression. With talks about a new street fee getting ever more serious and yet another bike-related project (the 20s Bikeway) going a bit sideways, many people in the community want to make sure PBOT hears strong support for cycling.

It all started last Friday when Rebecca Hamilton and her colleagues at work began discussing their concerns about who is leading the transportation funding and project debate here in Portland. Or, more precisely, who is PBOT hearing from at these very important town hall events where priorities about future spending are being established?

The conversation was triggered in part by a tweet last Friday from PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller that implored people who care about bicycling to show up at meetings and make their voices heard. “Show up at mtgs,” he tweeted, “I repeat: show up!”

Soon, Hamilton, her co-workers Brian Davis and Kirk Paulsen were emailing friends and other activists and setting up a Facebook page for a mass ride to the Town Hall event. They’ve linked up with groups like Active Right of Way, the Bike Walk Vote PAC, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — all of whom have spread the word to their networks and plan to show up with talking points in hand.

Here’s the rallying cry from Paulsen:

Do you want safer, more sustainable, more livable streets? If so, we’ll have to make sure our voices heard!

PBOT staff are stating that if folks that care about these issues don’t attend these town hall meetings, we’ll miss out on a very important opportunity to advance PBOT’s policy in a way that is aligned with our values.

This will be the LAST town hall meeting, so let’s leave them with a lasting impression about how we would like potential NEW transportation $ to be spent.

While PBOT has marched along relatively smoothly toward their plan of either an $8 or $12 per household fee, they’ll hear some other ideas from citizens on Thursday night. Lisa Marie White of Bike Walk Vote PAC says their group favors some sort of motor vehicle registration fee in addition to a flat fee paid by all road users. They also support an increase in the local gas tax. The BTA will be pushing their priority for safety. They want a majority of any new revenue to go toward safety (PBOT’s current proposal doesn’t do that).

If you’d like to be part of the conversation and let PBOT know how you feel about these issues, show up on Thursday evening!

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