Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 2nd, 2021 at 9:07 am
“Now is the time for Oregon to fully build out a complete network of safe walkways, bikeways, and street crossings.”
— Sarah Iannarone, The Street Trust
The effort to update Oregon’s ‘Bike Bill’ has begun in earnest as advocates from Eugene and Oregon work to build a coalition of supporters to convince lawmakers that more money should be spent on bicycling and walking infrastructure.
Introduced in mid-December by The Street Trust in partnership with Eugene-area Senator Floyd Prozanski, Senate Bill 395 would increase the minimum investment from the State Highway Fund on bike/walk infrastructure from 1% to 5%.
The bill has its first hearing this Thursday (March 4th) in the Joint Committee on Transportation. Over the weekend, The Street Trust and other groups launched a campaign that gives us our first view of how they plan to get the bill passed.
Borrowing from the well-known Safe Routes to School program, the campaign has been dubbed Safe Routes for All. Among the benefits listed in a new infographic promoting the bill are: increased safety, “equitable access… including for BIPOC communities, the elderly and students”, a boost to local economies, less traffic and emissions, and easier connections to Oregon’s natural spaces.
To help pass the bill, The Street Trust has hired consulting firm Praxis Political, whose team includes Gregory McKelvey. McKelvey rose to prominence in Portland for his work with Don’t Shoot Portland and as a lead organizer of protests against Donald Trump. McKelvey also directed the 2020 mayoral campaign of Sarah Iannarone, who was hired by The Street Trust as interim executive director in January.
So far the main players of the coalition to pass the bill are the all-volunteer nonprofit Bike Loud PDX and Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST). Representatives from those groups met with Sen. Prozanski in early February to discuss the bill’s prospects. In an interview with BikePortland after that meeting, Prozanski tamped down expectations.
Advocates know that in order for lawmakers to take the bill seriously, they’ll have to hear support from beyond Portland and Eugene — Oregon’s most reliably bike-friendly cities. That’s why The Street Trust is asking advocates and advocacy groups from all over Oregon to join their coalition.
“Now is the time for Oregon to fully build out a complete network of safe walkways, bikeways, and street crossings so that all of us can move safely around our communities and the state,” read an email from Iannarone over the weekend.
At current rates of funding, the Oregon Department of Transportation estimates it would take about 70 years to fully build out the state’s bicycling and walking system. If passed, SB 395 would force ODOT to speed things up by increasing the amount from the State Highway Fund spent on biking and walking projects from the current level of $7.7 million per year to about $35 million per year. In addition to the minimum expenditure increase, the bill would add road resurfacing to the type of projects that trigger the bill (currently limited to reconstructions or relocations), increase transparency and oversight of the funds, and more.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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