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Editorial: In need of leadership, The Street Trust faces daunting road

Posted by on April 25th, 2017 at 3:07 pm

The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) is going through a major transition. With 15 paid staff and an annual budget of $1.3 million, the organization is currently looking for a new executive director and a communications director, forming a new 501(c)(4) political organizing committee, and launching a new strategic plan to guide their work for the next five years.

These major initiatives come on the heels of a name-change and expansion of their mission last summer.

No matter how you slice it, this is a lot of change for an organization that continues to search for that magic mix of leadership, vision, political power and community support that will allow them to lead the ever-growing transportation reform movement in Portland and beyond.

And it comes at what The Street Trust describes as “a critical time for the region and Oregon.” Here’s a snip from the description of their executive director position that gives us an idea of where the organization sees itself now and in the future:

In recent years, we have seen the limits of focusing our work solely on bicycles. As a result, we made the decision in 2016 to expand our mission to include all modes of active transportation. Our mission expansion comes at a critical time for the region and Oregon. This region is in the midst of an intense growth period, and our transit, bike and pedestrian investments are not keeping pace with the needs. Seattle and Los Angeles have invested billions in local transit, for example, while Oregon continues to fall behind. We believe Oregon and the Portland Metro region needs to think bigger, if we’re going to remain competitive and ensure that every community has access to safe and high-quality bike, walking and transit facilities.

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As part of our strategy, we will launch a 501(c)(4) advocacy arm and Political Action Committee, to strengthen our hand as we seek to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable for investments in safe streets.

The Executive Director will lead our efforts to build a broader coalition of non-profits, governments and the private sector to advance transportation investment needs. This will involve research, campaigns, regional leadership and representing the Street Trust in high profile opportunities.

As The Street Trust searches for two new director-level positions, they have also just launched an online survey to garner input for their five-year strategic plan. The survey will help the organization gain a better understanding of the people it serves, what types of projects are important to them, and what their top transportation priorities are.

Founded in 1990 as a small and scrappy activism group, The Street Trust has shifted in recent years to a more staid approach. Willing to cede street-level activism opportunities to all-volunteer groups like Better Block PDX and Bike Loud PDX, The Street Trust has focused primarily on three fronts: delivering programs like Safe Routes to School classes and Vision Zero advoacy; hosting and promoting the annual Bike More Challenge; and advocating for funding at the regional and state level.

The Street Trust’s former leader Rob Sadowsky acknowledged the group’s chosen tact in an in-depth story we published in 2014. “I could go scream at Steve Novick and I could go get 1,000 postcards or phone calls,” he said, “but that’s not going to help me the next time with [former City Commissioner of Transportation] Steve Novick. I’m not going to lock my neck to City Hall with a u-lock.”

This year the organization has spent considerable time in Salem as their Policy Director Gerik Kransky works to make sure that active transportation is a top priority in the funding package being put together by lawmakers.

The challenge facing The Street Trust — and its new directors once they’re hired — is to build the organization’s power and relevance in the eyes of elected officials and people who walk, bike and take transit. It’s hard to have the former without the latter.

A focus on program delivery and long-range funding goals is laudable and important; but those initiatives mostly happen behind-the-scenes. And they rarely make headlines. Provocative rallies, high-profile events (like locking oneself to city hall with a u-lock for example), and watchdogging politicians and bureaucrats to get better local projects and policies are the type of “wins” most people notice — and that help frame the narrative.

There’s value in having an advocacy group that’s seen as more conservative and part of the power establishment; but it’s also important to carry a pitchfork in the back-pocket of your suit. And not be afraid to use it.

The classic, in-your-face activism that defined The Street Trust’s beginnings in the ’90s and the more conservative diplomacy that defines them today don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Doing them both well however, is easier said than done.

If they can find the right leadership and manage that balance, and combine it with the formation of a new political action committee and a coalition-building approach to advocacy that isn’t centered solely on bicycling or inner-Portland, The Street Trust could usher in an exciting new era of success.

We’re waiting and hoping that they figure it out.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Champs
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Champs

Access versus criticism: the struggle is real. I think we know how the PBA gets around it.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
Member

The one advantage the Street Trust has to become a more effective advocacy group is that it is Oregon has some of the smartest advocates, bureaucrats, and leaders who “get it”. The goal for the Street Trust should not be to reinvent the wheel but to figure out effective ways to harness and support this energy.

I remember walking into the BTA door one day after college and asking, “how can I help?” The Street Trust needs to find ways to engage these energized people, not just unpaid internships. I would love to see the Street Trust provide organizational support in a similar way that Umbrella does but with more money and staff. Would also love to see bikeportland and the Street Trust team up at some point. Understanding the ever changing way that we use media with the internet is crucial. We need an organization that isn’t afraid to make mistakes and tries creative things and an organizational leader who inspires our politicians to take risks.

The need for great streets has never been greater.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“will allow it lead the ever-growing transportation reform movement”

Not sure about the ‘lead’ part. On issues I track, they seem quite consistently to follow.

former advocate
Guest
former advocate

Follow, and then take credit for leading later on. Sort of their specialty.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“There’s value in having an advocacy group that’s seen as more conservative and part of the power establishment”

I’d like to hear others’ views on this.
My sense is that if the MO is (and it seems for quite some time to have been) to compromise, cozy up to the cheeses, and in so doing to lose sight of the original goal, then the value seems, well, negative.

SE Rider
Guest
SE Rider

“Seattle and Los Angeles have invested billions in local transit, for example, while Oregon continues to fall behind.”

So what about the $1.5B spent on the Orange Line? I certainly agree that transit could/should be better in Portland, but this seems a little hyperbolic to me.

9watts
Guest
9watts

The Cascade Policy folks’ favorite dog to kick is transit.
If you look at costs this is not hard to do, but also of rather questionable value since the comparable costs for automobility are usually hidden.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Right. For Mr. Charles to whine about “massive subsidies” for transit while advocating ever-more-staggering subsidies for roads is the height of selective blindness.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Their (to me hilarious) retort is that, well people choose cars and therefore it isn’t a subsidy (free market, get it?) but that no one actually chooses transit, therefore transit = big bad gov’t.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

They see roads as a public good, and therefore as worthy of government attention as the water system. They see transit as a government service, and therefore not market based. While I wholeheartedly disagree with them, I see their dichotomy and understand how it fits into their world view.

9watts
Guest
9watts

That is a great point. But I still think it is mostly specious, as the chief difference between transit and cars is that cars fit their individualistic worldview whereas the collective dimension of transit does not. Both needs roads which the private sector didn’t create nor would, and both have benefited from vast and incalculable subsidies from the state. If they were consistent they would be all over bikes rather than constantly sh!tting on transit.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> the chief difference between transit and cars is that cars fit their individualistic worldview whereas the collective dimension of transit does not <<<

That's it, exactly. If they were consistent, they would support bikes while still opposing transit. I suspect they don't because they don't think bikes are a serious alternative to driving. And for most people, they're not.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“they don’t think bikes are a serious alternative to driving. And for most people, they’re not.”

Kind of circular, no?

Who is finally going to attempt to get out in front of this situation? There’s certainly momentum around the world (China!) for rediscovering bikes as serious alternatives to the car. CPI profess to be leaders, why always and predictably trail?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Not at all circular. Just read it the other way around. For most people, bikes are not a serious alternative to driving. Therefore, CPI does not include bikes in their transportation agenda. That’s pretty linear.

The CPI’s main failing is that they rely on a fundamental misunderstanding of the way people work, and are basically a cult masquerading as a political philosophy.

9watts
Guest
9watts

OK, circular wasn’t the best term. What I meant was refusing to stop looking in the rear view mirror. Both of your examples reify the status quo, fail to realize that by reframing the subject, taking a fresh view that isn’t slavishly beholden to what happened yesterday or ten years ago, we could actually get out of the place we’re stuck in.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Yes, and that’s what they’re doing with their proposals to get rid of public transit.

Their vision of the future is much different than yours or mine.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Put another way, the power of suggestion is not recognized in these examples. This topic we’re discussing here was about *leadership*. Leadership is bound up with what I’m talking about; the opposite of this fetish with rear view mirrors.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

CPI are not leading much of anything. But rather than discuss it here, why not make the case directly to them that bikes are the ultimate libertarian vehicle?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Mr Two First Names and I had a back and forth here in the bikeportland comments some years ago. I don’t remember it changing hearts or minds…

Oh look here it is:
https://bikeportland.org/2012/11/12/the-monday-roundup-203-79937

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I suspect they don’t because they don’t think bikes are a serious alternative to driving. And for most people, they’re not. …” h kitty

For many people that drive, bikes aren’t an adequate or realistic alternative to driving. One of the reasons bikes aren’t an adequate or realistic alternative to driving, is poor infrastructure for biking. That’s where T Street Trust could perhaps get its game on. Continuous and more easy to use bike lanes could be a great result, if TST could get broader interest from the public, in bike and walk infrastructure of this quality.

Neighborhoods should have a little better than skinny sidewalks under dark trees and bushes, for residents to walk or bike a mile or so from their homes to the nearest shopping center, school, church, and so forth. Street Trust might think some about focusing on the widespread lack of that type of active transportation infrastructure in neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods should have some sidewalk that is nice to walk to the store on, even in the kind of wet weather in spring we’ve been having. So much of sidewalk design, seems to suggest their puny configuration is due that infrastructure being a comparatively low priority element of the overall street design. It’s possible that residents of many neighborhoods, haven’t had anyone help them consider that they might actually feel good about a walk to store in light rain under an umbrella, if they had more than an anorexic sidewalk to walk and bike on.

Infrastructure that would enable biking for travel, to be a serious alternative to driving for longer commutes than one to three or more miles one way, may be a much tougher challenge to accomplish, than might be shorter distance infrastructure. Still, the street trust, with its revised, wider focus on street functionality, might be able to help raise greater interest from the public than exists now, on such an objective.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I think there is value in having a more middle-of-the-road advocacy group, but only if you have a more out-there (“extreme” as some might put it) group really pushing the issues and helping the other group look mainstream. Think Nature Conservancy vs. Earth First!, for example: BTA and BikeLoudPDX could play that good-cop/bad-cop game with politicians.

But that strategy is undermined if the more-mainstream group capitulates to the opposition, as the BTA has done on CRC (which is baaaaaaack!) and again on the latest freeway debate. You still have to have a backbone.

9watts
Guest
9watts

And the Nature Conservancy is in bed with frackers…..

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Yeah, I was going to say Sierra Club, but just look at them too.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

If you want to get projects both funded AND implemented, you need to stop going to bed with politicians and instead get into bed with the junior-level staff, especially engineers and program managers, who make all the mid-level administrative decisions. Basically they feed what gets fed to supervisors, who then feed bureau directors, who then feed politicians.

Beth H
Guest

So really you should be sleeping with the Prexies and not the Junior Veeps?
It all smells like a bit of a racket to me.

I appreciate the sentiment that there’s room for a “middle way” but I don’t really see where it could be.
The Middle CLASS is shrinking. Political clout often depends upon both social and fiscal capital, and if you have fewer people with both, then you have fewer people positioned to effect change from the inside. And you have people already immersed who are too comfortable to risk their comfort. That’s why politics as usual is not really effective.

While the more radical folks in bike/ped advocacy may not get a seat at The Table, perhaps its a table they don’t aspire to be seated at in the first place.
Time for a new table, and a new paradigm. I fear that cozying up to the suits and taking the VERY gradual route to make them feel less nervous will not achieve anything meaningful in the long run, and will waste resources that could be better spent agitating for — and building — that new paradigm.

9watts
Guest
9watts

hear, hear.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

>>> you need to stop going to bed with politicians and instead get into bed with the junior-level staff <<<

This is true for a number of reasons.

rick
Guest
rick

Where is their support for the mountain biking plan or Portland’s community-initiated trails program ?

9watts
Guest
9watts

In all fairness, they used to be the Bicycle TRANSPORTATION Alliance, and now they have STREET in their name. I’m OK cutting them some slack on the mountain biking, since by the standards around here it is neither on streets nor transportation.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Unfortunately, in most of the USA (outside the West Coast, anyway), mountain biking and street riding are both considered “recreational sports” by the vast majority of both drivers and transit users. Here in Greensboro NC I can get far more funding from Parks for mountain bike trails and multi-use paths than I can from Transportation for bike lanes and bike boulevards, even though the latter are much cheaper and serve far more people, especially people of color (43% of this community.) I have met folks here, usually white, who do in fact mountain bike on their way to work here. There’s even a fire department unit that is made up almost entirely of mountain bikers here (they have a special bike trailer for moving crash victims and send out a boat on the lakes here for the same purpose.) The police bike patrol, a 15-person unit, mostly patrols downtown and forms part of the riot squad. But the general public sees none of this. If they think of bicycles at all (which is rare), it’s either as an exercise option or as a damn nuisance along the road.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I have met folks here, usually white, who do in fact mountain bike on their way to work here.”
I’ve used mountain bikes for the past thirty years – to get where I’m going. But I was told in no uncertain terms here that that is not Mountain Biking.

Brian
Guest
Brian

9watts, do you ride your mountain bike on any trails these days?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Not really.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Do you mind if I ask why?

9watts
Guest
9watts

Not at all.

I have for most of the past almost 30 years lived in cities, had various asphalt commutes, managed to stay busy with other pursuits. When I was 15 I lived deep in the woods, and getting to school involved several miles of single track and gravel roads before meeting asphalt. I loved it, and still do, but it isn’t presently very relevant to my situation. Pursued purely as a recreational activity, unrelated to getting somewhere has never seemed urgent to me, though I certainly recognize that it does for others.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I rode up Mt. Tabor a few weeks ago. Surely that qualifies as “mountain biking”.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Did you ride up on dirt? If so, then I think it is. Also, did you have a beer afterwards? If so, then it most certainly qualifies.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

We lack most sidewalks and have very few paved paths. Most of the mountain bikers I’ve met here literally ride on single-track to get to work, both trails in not-yet-developed woodlands (we have a lot) or on unpaved unintentional/informal sidewalks along roadways (the kind that Don Baack of SW Trails often touts.) Yeah, I’ve also met a few who ride their mountain bikes on the street, but not many. And here it is both legal and officially encouraged to ride your bike through public parks and open spaces.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I think you mentioned that you’re in North Carolina…in a really small town, or rural part of the state? I’m not sure, but some small towns in Oregon east of the Cascades may not have an abundance of sidewalks, because they cost money. People get tired of walking in the mud, so when the town’s economy grows and has some money for infrastructure, sidewalks are one of the things people think of.

Out here in Oregon, around Beaverton and Portland, I’ve wondered a number of times about there being very little for hiking and biking trails connecting the two cities The recreational MUP idea has done some to bring about connecting paths for biking and walking that are asphalt or concrete paved, but there’s no such paths that have been kept just as unpaved dirt paths.

For example, I think it could have been a great hike, but there’s no woodland foot path from Central Beaverton, up over the Sylvan hill and down into Portland. When the land on the hills and even on the lowlands was plotted out for development, I’d guess that the idea of officially designated and created unpaved dirt foot and bike paths connecting towns together, never may even have been on the minds of people then. Today, the challenge of going back into already existing neighborhoods to try and get easements to create such trail, may be insurmountable.

Easier walking around and biking around, and of course, driving around, are among the reasons people like small towns.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

“Small town”. Greensboro NC. 288,000 residents (2015 est). Over 500,000 in Guilford County; part of Piedmont Triad metro area. City itself covers the same area as Portland, but half the density (we gotta alotta sprawl). Founded 1808, named for a Revolution Quaker general from Rhode Island, Nathaniel Greene. Dead industries include cigarettes, furniture, and fabrics (now mostly closed); new industries are Honda Aircraft, Volvo & Kenilworth semi-trucks, and Crest Toothpaste (P&G). City famous for Revolution battle (Guilford Courthouse, 1781), 1st successful Woolworth civil right lunch counter sit-in (Feb 1960), and Vick’s Vapor Rub. Jesse Jackson got his undergrad degree here at one of the 2 public universities here (one traditionally just for blacks, the other traditionally just for women, both integrated in the 1960s.)

…And in spite of having 288,000 residents within city limits, we really are a “small town” Deep South community, in that people here are ridiculously trusting of each other – homes are often unlocked; most murder victims (almost entirely black) know their attackers; city council hearings are intimate; 11% turnout for local elections; nearly every community advocate knows all the other community advocates, who is sleeping with whom, who has fallen out, etc. I have yet to see a single sign or piece of public art get tagged or any graffiti, and bike theft here is rare. The local society column in the newspaper show club group photos where the smiling faces are either all black or all white, but never any mixed-race or Latino/Asian/South Asian.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

David Hampsten at April 29, 2017 at 9:33 pm

…I think your description of your town may help some to explain what you’d written earlier about the town having fewer amenities like sidewalks, that some of us here in Oregon’s metro areas take for granted. The town sounds entirely different than Portland, or most of it, especially in recent decades. Much different than Beaverton too. Hillsboro before hi-tech, when it used to be largely agricultural, was more of a small town, but it’s grown up and getting slicked up.

Here, the small town common ethics and morality that once allowed people to be confidently secure in leaving their doors unlocked, has been long gone for a long time. Due to population growth, and subordination to fast travel, some people have lost a lot of neighborhood livability from their neighborhoods.

The good thing out of that bad, is that more people, are becoming aware of this loss that’s occurred, I think, and they may be feeling a growing interest in restoring some of what they’ve lost. Helping them get it back is what walking and biking advocacy groups, including the Street Trust, may be able to help them do.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The Street Trust working for the broader objective of community active transportation infrastructure, is I think, a major advance from the limited objective of simply, better conditions for biking, which it had confined its efforts to in past. Far more people that travel by ways in addition to motor vehicle travel, can relate to and likely be willing to support this broader objective.

Towards getting things done, it’s far more constructive for a group to be working with people that can align themselves with the group and its objectives, as friends, rather than having to try counter attacks by people that feel compelled to oppose the groups’ objectives. Adversarial relationships aren’t that great, so if the Street Trust recognizes the value in building more of a friendly relationship, I’m glad to hear this.

Brian
Guest
Brian

9watts
Not at all.

Thanks for the reply. Makes sense. Even though I am hopeful for more trails for recreational purposes for my family and I, I am also hopeful for trails that I can use for commuting up and over Washington Park. Honestly, I would bike commute even more if my commute involved less time on the road.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Here is Adam H’s chance to get involved!

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

That would be awesome if Bike Loud PDX staff got paid!

daisy
Guest
daisy

This is going to sound so pedantic.

The “The” in “The Street Trust” has been driving me crazy, especially because they included it in their logo. it makes me think they didn’t work with a professional agency for their new name and branding.

For example, BTA was called “the Bicycle Transportation Alliance” but “the” wasn’t part of their formal name.

This will undoubtedly also annoy their new communications person (unless that person convinces them the drop the “The.” Good luck!). It’ll lead to lots of confusion about their name (as you can see in some of the comments on this post).

Having a good communication strategy is important. That name weirdness makes me wonder what else they’re trying to wing.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Sometimes we need pedantic. Hey, is that the same room as pedal and pedestrian? Guess not. More like the same root as pedagogue. Three cheers for the “person who trumpets minor points of learning.”

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

And they’re not a trust.

David
Guest
David

There is one thing no one has really mentioned either in the article or comments from what I can tell: no one seems to recall the last time TST/BTA got an actual win for bike/ped/transit infrastructure? Odds are you can’t.

People will give an organization latitude if they think it is relevant and accomplishing things that have broad impacts. That turns into apathy or frustration if the results never arrive. I agree that having an organization focused on the larger things matters but they have to deliver. Securing just under $20 million for Safe Routes to Schools at both the regional and state level is certainly something (assuming HB 3230 passes), but the next step of securing meaningful funding for the infrastructure component is absolutely vital to the long term success of the program and they have not demonstrated the ability to do this.

For anyone within Portland, TST is not going to seem relevant until they are able to do more than educate the populace and the $10 million for state-wide SRTS infrastructure improvements over two years in HB 3230 will hardly move the needle. I’m tired of reading the obligatory article every few months about the 2030 Bike Plan on pace to be implemented in a couple centuries rather than decades. Moving policy and funding from a leadership position matters and from what is visible right now TST is not able to move that needle much.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I’m not normally one to defend TST/BTA, but…

One of the things that organizations like TST, OPAL, and EPAP do relatively well, better than most others anyway, is to try to “grow the pie”, to expand the amount of statewide and local funding available for bike/ped/transit projects. TST & OPAL does it by talking with legislators, their staff, and state agencies in Salem, an arduous and thankless task. EPAP does it by talking directly with the 10 state legislators who represent the various parts of East Portland, as well as their staff, METRO councilors, Multnomah County commissioners, and each of the 5 city councilors, both individually and as a group. Both ways can be very effective both short-term and long-term, but it’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work by volunteers and staff. All three groups have already been effective at redirecting funding that would have gone just towards freeways and repaving highways, and instead have ODOT projects include substantial sidewalk, transit stop, and bike way components that they likely wouldn’t have had.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

I’m not the most regular of Bike Portland, I tend to check in every week or two and see what’s been happening. In my 6 years of reading BP, I’m always surprised that staff from the Street Trust aren’t on record on a majority of stories. I can barely recall ever seeing Rob Sadowsky on record in BP. BP, to me, is a major resource for the thousands of Portlanders who are wonk-curious. If the Street Trust is unwilling to push its narrative in such a readily available forum, how do they expect the public to fall in behind them. I’ll additionally add, the one year I did become a Street Trust member, I was shocked at the lack of general organization communication from them. If you can’t tell your members what you’re hoping to accomplish, how can you expect them to stick with you?

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

“…lack of general organization communication from them.”

Since February, they’ve sent at least one email a week to their public list. They had slipped below one per month for awhile before that. So far this month they’ve sent seven (that’s above my saturation point). Anyone can sign up, you don’t have to be a member, and they also have a Survey Monkey asking for 5 Year Plan Input, both linked on https://www.thestreettrust.org/.

It does seem as though BP and TST could build more buzz by playing off each other.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“It does seem as though BP and TST could build more buzz by playing off each other.”

…especially if tST would get behind some of the positions Jonathan (and his readership) support, rather than the milquetoast freeway expansion/crumb fest or the CRC.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I’m not necessarily against ultimately compromising to throw the road lobby some of what they want in exchange for what we want. I’m not quite as militant as I may have come across above: timing is everything. I can support and agree with BLPDX’s more militant stances while also ultimately supporting the Street Trust in promoting some sort of compromise, but not yet. It’s too early for them to be giving away the farm.

Anyone with even the slightest negotiation skills knows that your initial position should be more than you’re willing to settle for. Somewhere in there you should have a bunch of stuff that would be nice to have (or, if you’re really good at this, don’t even care about) but would be willing to give up during negotiations – things like zero freeway expansion – so you have room to keep the things that are really important. It’s the BTA’s failure to even go in with a strong position that leads me to accuse them of lacking backbone.

Our nation’s new chief executive is nothing if not a skilled negotiator. His style is trickling down, and to achieve anything in politics in this era we’d better at least try to lock down the basic skills of negotiation.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

In your full comment, you’re using words such as:

“….. throw the road lobby some of what they want in exchange for what we want. …. militant …. timing is everything. …. BLPDX’s more militant stances…. the Street Trust in promoting some sort of compromise, but not yet. It’s too early for them to be giving away the farm. ….” glowboy

Your word choice has it sound as though you believe, or are suggesting that the way to achieve better conditions for biking, is by an ‘us vs them’, adversarial approach. Maybe not “…as militant…” as some people favoring better biking conditions might take, but adversarial all the same.

There are other reasons this is a bad approach for achieving better conditions for biking and walking in an environment in which travel by motor vehicle is the primary means of travel…but I think one of the biggest reasons against taking an ‘us vs them’ approach, especially in a militant context, is that biking and walking advocates, have no edge that can force local and state government against its will, to not do what the greater population is asking be done.

Advocacy groups’ support for biking and walking, though those groups have good intentions, is very small compared to the support lent by the greater public to road construction, design and maintenance for motor vehicle travel and transport. It may get some people’s adrenaline running more readily, but the ‘us vs them’, approach sounds like a dead end.

I think that gaining improved conditions for biking and walking, is going to require recognizing and pursuing common interests of people and all the modes of travel they use to get around, with their mutual support.

9watts
Guest
9watts

In that case I invite you to compare for us the recent achievements (for bicycling) by the group that takes (more or less) the approach you are suggesting (TST) and the one that has taken (more or less) Glowboy’s approach (BLPDX).

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

What I know of bikeloud, is from mention of that group in bikeportland stories, and just today, from browsing over the group’s website. The group did ok in focusing attention to the city’s designation of a particular section of Clinton St as a bike greenway, and speeding up the timeline for installing motor vehicle traffic diversion on that street. The group has put together some ideas and positions which it’s posted to its website. The city seems to be listening some to what the group has to say. What else the group may have done, I’m not sure.

Personally, I’m not keen on the name ‘bikeloud’, because I think it’s more important to bike smart. People riding bikes are vulnerable road users, and they, more than any other road user, do need to bike smart just for survival if nothing else. Lots of people do bike smart…unfortunately, not enough do.

I think, to make gains, bike advocacy is going to do better with a broader set of objectives than just trying to make conditions better for biking. And it’s going to do better if the approach to the chosen objectives is done in a non-adversarial way.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

…I meant to include the url for bikeloud’s website. Here’s the link to the group’s statement page:

http://bikeloudpdx.org/index.php/Statements

Toren Orzeck
Guest

Hey, I know I may be a broken record on this or just OCD, but it’s hard for me to read anything or approach this organization now that it has named itself THE STREET TRUST. The organization is about human powered transit (whether that be via bike or on foot) that, for the moment, must interact with heavier motorized machines on shared paths. Is it really all about the Streets? Not very forward looking.

I just feel like they did not take advantage of the hometown talent that could have helped name and branded them with something that more accurately reflects what they’re about. The Street Trust sounds stagnant, their new logo is static. Is THE STREET TRUST a financial institution? Sorry, but it sounds and looks dull. There is nothing aspirational about The Street Trust. It sound like a relative to Street Roots (sorry, Street Roots). The Bicycle Transportation Alliance t least told you what it did and conveyed some aspiration

Combine this with the disarray they seem to be in and it just compounds the problem.
They need one good thing and that could be their identity.

This is a classic case where they need to rebrand, yeah it’s a bit of a goof to change it so quickly but holy cow, if you broke your arm as kid and it was set poorly, you would not wait to have your arm grow into some sort of mis-shaped Jai Lai racket, you’d get it fixed asap.

Also, this is not a corporation making a product but a group of active, well meaning people that are trying to make active transit safer for all of us. They are our peers and comrades in arms. They have a super tough needle to thread given the competing interests within this rapidly growing city.

Many of you may think the name doesn’t matter but it does. It’s kind of like why you’re parents made you wear braces or why cleft pallets are fixed. it may be seem superficial to have straighter teeth or not have a bifurcated lip but we are visual creatures and we want people to hear us, not be distracted by our crazy teeth or different upper lip. A good identity is like welcoming smile, it draws you in and you want to take part.

Its not too late.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Is it really all about the Streets?…” toren orzeck

Streets are important. That is, the quality of their usability, functionality and livability to the neighborhoods they pass through and surround, is important. There’s a great tendency for some people to abuse their right to use streets; they use them for hotroddin’, or just plain going too fast for the setting, and using them for cut-throughs for ‘short-cuts’, or to try avoid thoroughfare congestion.

The distressing effects on neighborhoods, through misuse of streets can get so bad that residents barely dare cross the street for fear of getting knocked down or killed. The roar of far too many vehicles just passing through, having no business in the neighborhood. This puts neighborhoods in the position of being hosting too much traffic not being produced by themselves.

Without a lot of stress arising from motor vehicle use being a major condition, people from the neighborhood, and guests from outside the neighborhood, ought to be able to ride a bike down neighborhood streets. On some neighborhood streets, use of the street for travel, probably is low and cautious enough that a kid could cross the street, or play on it with friends, without the parents fearing the kids are going to get run over.

It seems to me, what I’ve been able to gather about the revised direction of The Street Trust, that this advocacy group still very much considers improving conditions on the streets for biking to be a top priority, but has also come to realize that there is a much bigger group, consisting of neighbors that like to walk, bike, occasionally play out on the street in their neighborhood, who may be interested in representation with the help of a group like the Trust, that has interest in that sort of thing.

Use of the word ‘trust’, isn’t limited just to financial institutions. With this group, I think what use of the word essentially has a philosophical meaning, which is that The Street Trust seems to be committing itself to look out for, protect and improve conditions on streets for everyone using them, and working to not allow streets to be subordinated almost entirely, or entirely to the movement of motor vehicles.

A rather well known group that uses ‘trust’ in its name, is The Trust for Public Lands. It’s not a financial institution. It’s different from what TST does, in that it actually uses donation money and buys land to be established as parks. Essentially too though, it is looking out for quality in important public resources.

Toren Orzeck
Guest

wsbob
“…Is it really all about the Streets?…” toren orzeck
Streets are important. That is, the quality of their usability, functionality and livability to the neighborhoods they pass through and surround, is important. There’s a great tendency for some people to abuse their right to use streets; they use them for hotroddin’, or just plain going too fast for the setting, and using them for cut-throughs for ‘short-cuts’, or to try avoid thoroughfare congestion.
The distressing effects on neighborhoods, through misuse of streets can get so bad that residents barely dare cross the street for fear of getting knocked down or killed. The roar of far too many vehicles just passing through, having no business in the neighborhood. This puts neighborhoods in the position of being hosting too much traffic not being produced by themselves.
Without a lot of stress arising from motor vehicle use being a major condition, people from the neighborhood, and guests from outside the neighborhood, ought to be able to ride a bike down neighborhood streets. On some neighborhood streets, use of the street for travel, probably is low and cautious enough that a kid could cross the street, or play on it with friends, without the parents fearing the kids are going to get run over.
It seems to me, what I’ve been able to gather about the revised direction of The Street Trust, that this advocacy group still very much considers improving conditions on the streets for biking to be a top priority, but has also come to realize that there is a much bigger group, consisting of neighbors that like to walk, bike, occasionally play out on the street in their neighborhood, who may be interested in representation with the help of a group like the Trust, that has interest in that sort of thing.
Use of the word ‘trust’, isn’t limited just to financial institutions. With this group, I think what use of the word essentially has a philosophical meaning, which is that The Street Trust seems to be committing itself to look out for, protect and improve conditions on streets for everyone using them, and working to not allow streets to be subordinated almost entirely, or entirely to the movement of motor vehicles.
A rather well known group that uses ‘trust’ in its name, is The Trust for Public Lands. It’s not a financial institution. It’s different from what TST does, in that it actually uses donation money and buys land to be established as parks. Essentially too though, it is looking out for quality in important public resources.

wsbob and all,
Believe me, I certainly know the various definitions of the word “trust” and I was just being a little hyperbolic. I also know that the Streets are where most of the action is. I’m not complaining that the name is not somewhat technically accurate in what the mission is. I’m arguing it’s just a poor sounding name (to me) that does little to convey that it’s about making the streets safe for multiple modes of human powered transit.

This human powered transit whether it be by bike, chair, feet or board is the more compelling part of the equation. Names like Active Transit Alliance, ATA ( yeah, I know there are many cities that use this) or Human Powered Transit Alliance HPTA are just, in my opinion, better. And, I’m sure we can do better than The Street Trust.

Names, like all designs, are also contextual and The Street Trust as I mentioned is too close to Street Roots.

Like I said , I just want this group to be firing on all cylinders, I mean pedaling sans the lactic acid or just putting their best foot forward as they do their work.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Names like Active Transit Alliance, ATA ( yeah, I know there are many cities that use this) or Human Powered Transit Alliance HPTA are just, in my opinion, better. …” orzeck

Those names might be alright. Personally, especially after having thought it over a bit, I appreciate what I believe TST’s name means, because of its similarity to the name of the land conservation group that I earlier mentioned, The Trust for Public Lands. I feel it’s a good name choice.

Very significant about that group, and others like for example, The Nature Conservancy, is that I believe they likely have an amazingly large ‘constituency’, if you will…in other words, a huge base of support for the objectives they’ve set out to attain. And they have managed to accomplish many of those objectives. Maybe people don’t think enough about the idea that streets and roads, almost all of them with the exception of private roads, are a huge public resource that has many of the same general needs for protection that natural lands do.

So, even though many people now, aren’t familiar with the concept of TST’s name, it seems to me that it’s meaning is solid.

Not finding or being able to build a huge, or strong base of support, is I think, where advocacy groups can fall flat in their attempts to get good things done. Exclusivity, or limiting the focus to too narrow a selection of the interests of the public, is only going to produce an accordingly small base of support. We’ll have to see what things The Street Trust tries to get done, and how much interest its efforts attract.