The legislative session, The Street Trust, and you (a three-part series)

For Every Kid Coalition.jpg
The Street Trust is part of a large coalition of nonprofits working to make sure the upcoming transportation package gets passed with adequate funding for biking, walking and transit. Safe Routes to School funding will be a major focus.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

(Note: This article is written by Gerik Kransky, policy director for The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance). It’s the first in a three-part series about their work on a major funding package that will be debated during the 2017 Oregon legislative session.)

Gerik Kransky

Today kicks off the 2017 Oregon legislative session, and Oregon is heading toward adoption of the first major transportation funding package since 2009. The Street Trust and our partners are hard at work to make sure that any major transportation bill includes Vision Zero, Safe Routes to School, and bicycle, pedestrian and transit funding.

We consistently hear our communities’ concerns about the lack of safe streets, the need for increased transit service, the growing amount of carbon emissions from cars and trucks, and the need for stronger safety investments in Vision Zero programs. All of these issues are under discussion with legislative leaders and Governor Kate Brown this year.

In this three-part series, we’ll dig in deeper to talk about who’s in charge of this process; what we can expect in the next six months; and where there are real opportunities to improve safety, health, and environmental outcomes through transportation investments.

How we got here

In late 2015, Governor Brown assembled a team to draft the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel report, which provides a framework for how much Oregon should invest in different modes of transportation. The report includes some of our top priorities like transit, safety and safe routes to school. After its publication in May 2016, the report became a starting point for a newly formed legislative workgroup (the Joint Interim Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization), tasked with writing a bill.

With the Governor’s Vision Report in hand, the Committee spent summer 2016 touring the state; talking to Oregonians about their top priorities; and assembling a long list of interested parties, potential projects, and policy areas needing attention. Finally, the Oregon Department of Transportation itself (via the Oregon Transportation Commission) has put forward a draft investment strategy (PDF) that provides more detail within the framework of the Governor’s report.

A page from, A Strategic Investment in Transportation, Oregon Transportation Commission, January 2017.

Along with several leading transportation stakeholders, The Street Trust has been working in the Oregon Transportation Forum, to put forward a consensus-based slate of recommendations to the legislature, which hits on many of the same themes included in all of these overlapping efforts.

When we consider how many people have been working on this package—over the last year-and-a-half, Oregon is in the best position to pass policy improvements and transportation funding, since the highway-heavy Jobs and Transportation Act of 2009.


What to look forward to in 2017

As a coalition, we’ve been working with legislators and people all across the state, to ensure that we have the support we need to win at least $161 million worth of annual funding for these priorities.

Oregon has a strong coalition of progressive partners, including: The Street Trust, Oregon Environmental Council, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Transportation for America, Better Eugene-Springfield Transit, the Oregon Conservation Network, and many others. Together, we are all focused on winning the following key priorities in the 2017 transportation package:

As a coalition, we’ve been working with legislators and people all across the state, to ensure that we have the support we need to win at least $161 million worth of annual funding for these priorities.

Because any transportation package will raise revenue, the mechanics of the Oregon Legislature requires a supermajority of support—in both the House and the Senate—in order to pass the bill. Therefore, any successful package will have to be a bipartisan, in order to win 36 votes in the House and 18 votes in the Senate; this means our work is far from over.

How you can help

Now is the time to have conversations with your legislators around the importance of investing in new transit, safety, safe routes to school, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. In the coming months, you will need to follow up your conversations with legislators to remind them how important this transportation package is and attend the hearings (currently scheduled on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) at the Capitol in Salem.

Time to show up and speak up.

We need you to deliver testimony and share your personal story—about why you want to see safe streets—and convince the Oregon Legislature to invest.

To stay informed throughout legislative session, we invite you to sign up to receive our advocacy alerts. The Street Trust, and our coalition partners, want all of our members and supporters to receive up-to-date information about how to stay involved.

This effort has been going on for a long time, and we have the broadest levels of support for biking, walking, transit, and safe routes to school that I have seen in over a decade of doing this work. Please join us — and make your voice heard — during the 2017 Oregon Legislature; this is our chance to win $161 million in funding for safer streets!

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll the share the details of the above goals. In Part 3, we’ll provide a deeper look into the For Every Kid Coalition’s grassroots campaign — working with partners across the state to host Safe Routes to School town hall meetings and fighting to increase funding for Safe Routes to School.

— Gerik Kransky, Policy Director, The Street Trust

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