2016 Active Transportation Summit will tackle freight, housing, the Gorge and more

Posted by on February 22nd, 2016 at 4:28 pm

OR Active Transpo Summit-35

A plenary session at the 2013 Active
Transportation Summit.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Once a year, Portland’s biking, walking, transit and public-space wonks gather to share what they’ve been learning and thinking lately.

The Oregon Active Transportation Summit, which runs March 13-15 at the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland, isn’t cheap to attend, unless you compare it to almost any other conference. But it’s a feast for the brain, and this year’s agenda has quite a few interesting sessions.

This year’s keynote speakers will be Lynn Peterson, Washington’s recently ousted state transportation secretary; Seleta Reynolds, general manager of Los Angeles’ transportation department; and Jim Sayer, executive director of the Adventure Cycling Association.

You can read more about the summit and download its full schedule from the Healthy Streets website. (It’s operated by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, which runs the conference.)

This year’s event is being held in conjunction with the 2016 Oregon Bicycle Tourism Summit, which is “intended for individuals, businesses, tour operators, land managers, agencies, tourism professionals and economic development organizations specifcally interested in bicycle recreation and tourism development.” On Sunday and Tuesday, the conference will include a handful of mobile workshops on bike and foot.

Tuesday will also offer longer trainings for people looking to pick up continuing-education certifications.

And I always look forward to an unofficial OATS session that is free for anyone to attend: the rapid-fire Pecha Kucha slideshows at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. This year that’s happening at The Waypost, 3120 N Williams Ave.

Here’s a smattering of sessions that caught our eyes:

Streets as Places (Walking Tour) – Sunday, March 13, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Streets are often thought of as ways to move through rather than as a place to be. Come explore Portland’s special streets, where placemaking is favored over throughput. Route is fully accessible to those using wheelchairs or mobility devices.

Learn, Ask, Do: The Corridor Game – Monday, 9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
Learn about corridor planning, ask questions, then build your own multimodal corridor! Planners often struggle to accommodate multiple transportation modes (bus, BRT, light rail, auto, bike, pedestrian) within limited rights of way. Beginning with review of local and national case studies, participants will explore trade-offs inherent to different cross-sections and strategies for prioritizing goals. The second half of this session will feature breakout ‘game groups’, putting participants to work designing their own multimodal corridors (using provided ‘game pieces’). Easier said than done – but an active, fun learning experience!


The Myth of a Freight-Dependent Economy – Monday, 9:45 – 10:30 a.m.
Freight advocates claim that goods valued at approximately $40 billion annually move in and out of Oregon and that goods moving by freight through the Portland region are an order of magnitude higher. The Port of Portland estimates $101 million in business revenues result from container shipping through Portland. All levels of government associate the smooth movement of goods with job creation and economic expansion. Joe Cortright recently wrote an exploring report, “the myth of the freight-dependent economy.” Joe describes the term “freight dependent” as a “meaningless shibboleth.” In this workshop Joe will describe his research and conclusions.

Words Matter: What We Talk About When We Talk About Transportation – Monday, 1:10 – 1:55 p.m.
In this moderated discussion, panelists will illustrate how the language we use can either further or hinder equity, objectivity, and the public’s perception of transportation policies, plans, and projects and the options they have to getting around their community. Are we unconsciously using combative language that disregards the reality of what it is like to be poor or a person of color? Are we using subjective words that are built on old assumptions? Are we reinforcing outdated stereotypes and ideas? Explore these and other questions, and bring your own experiences and knowledge to a session that will contribute to developing a new way to talk about transportation.

Learning from the Gorge: Reconnecting the Historic Highway One Community at a Time – Monday, 2:05 – 2:55 p.m.
The Historic Columbia River Highway was an engineering and aesthetic triumph, but the construction of I-84 broke it into pieces. Local communities, state agencies and federal partners have spent the past 30 years working to reconnect it as a world-class pedestrian and bicycle trail. Celebrate the HCRH’s centennial by learning what it will take to close the fnal 10 mile gap, and how communities from Troutdale to the Dalles are developing Gorge Hubs to give visitors a seamless and welcoming journey. With technical creativity and help from the thriving bicycle tourism industry, our presenters are building a bright vision for the Gorge’s next 100 years.

Toward Affordable Proximity: Can Seattle’s ‘Grand Bargain’ on Housing Happen in Portland? – Monday, 2:05 – 2:55 p.m.
Seattle just did something unusual: it brought anti-poverty and development pros together around a so-called “grand bargain” that would simultaneously control some rental prices, re-legalize denser development and raise more money for government housing programs. A Seattle advocate who helped drive that process will join two infuential Portlanders to talk about how to stop the walkable, bikeable, transit-rich neighborhoods from slipping permanently out of reach for most Portlanders.

(Full disclosure: I organized that last one myself, though I won’t be speaking at it.)

Streets of Agreement: The Path to Multimodal Arterials – Monday, 3:25 – 4:55 p.m.
The Portland and Eugene regions are taking steps to redesign streets so that they are welcoming and relevant for a diversity of travel modes. In doing so, we can transform road space into places that make communities more livable. Balancing many interests means including multiple stakeholders, each with diverse priorities and preferences in the planning process. The issues are complex and new thinking about the design and use of street space is being incorporated into policies, plans, programs, and projects. Participants will learn about efforts in a variety of settings from representatives at the state, local, and regional level.

Freight on Three Wheels (Biking Tour) – Tuesday, March 15th 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Why use a truck when you could use a trike? Workshop attendees will participate in a mobile tour that explores the world of last-mile delivery as carried out on a cargo tricycle. Participants will follow a trike to B-line’s new headquarters in the Central Eastside Industrial District to get a sense of how this urban consolidation center supports the regional food system. From there, we’ll follow a B-line trike picking up goods from a customer and making a delivery downtown, gaining an understanding of where and how cargo trikes are the right tool for the job in urban freight delivery. We’ll talk about how this mode benefits customers and the community, and see first-hand which elements of urban infrastructure the B-line trikes utilize to make delivery efficient.

Looks like a good time to us. You can register here.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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B. Carfree
B. Carfree

I have to wonder what’s up with the “Streets of Agreement: The Path to Multi-Modal Arterials”. It gets my attention because it mentions Eugene as a place that has been doing/planning this. I live in Eugene and consider myself fairly well connected. (Let’s just say I’m a well-known pain in the hind-quarters to the traffic planners and engineers.)

Eugene is a singular failure in the cycling world. It managed to lose 37% of its cycling community from 2009-14 while everyone else saw growth. Whatever Eugene is doing, it should be very carefully looked at not as a model but as a warning. If I were grading their work, I would give the public works department of Eugene a D-. I have yet to see a single implementation that is above a C, and there are many complete failures.

I would sum up their mistakes by saying the traffic planners/engineers have decided that their number one priority is to push cyclists as far to the edge as possible, no matter how much that increases intersection or door zone issues. Of course sensible cyclists realize that the intersections are the most problematic locations, and being placed in a position of invisibility at them dramatically increases the risk for cyclists.


Please please please do a follow up for those unable to attend. I would dearly like to know how they’ll solve that section from Viento to Hood River; a path I hope to someday come to know and enjoy as the Ellen Dittebrandt Memorial Trail.


@ B Carfree To be fair to Eugene, I think a lot of riders (myself included) during that time moved to Portland. Your point is very valid though, the city has very weak bike infrastructure outside of a few close in areas.

Also nice to see at least one bike bag in the picture.

B. Carfree
B. Carfree

Interestingly enough,several of those close-in changes were put in place during the decline. I’ve seen this before in Davis where many miles of facilities went in after the cyclists had all left. In both locales, a loss of traffic law enforcement were clearly important factors in the loss of cyclists.

rachel b
rachel b

Wish I could go to The Myth of a Freight-Dependent Economy (Cortright). I second the vote for follow up, though I’m sure you’ll be all over it. 🙂 Thanks for the write up!