Oregon advocates launch ‘Safe Routes for All’ campaign to boost Bike Bill spending

(Graphic: The Street Trust)

“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.

Join the coalition at TheStreetTrust.org/395 and sign up to testify at Thursday’s hearing at BikeLoudPDX.org.

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

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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3 years ago

Remember that we can all support this by contacting our state representative and senator. You can either call them or use Resistbot via text, messenger or twitter. You text what you want to say and resistbot transforms it into a formal letter or email. You can chose between federal and state reps. Super easy to use!

3 years ago

I was doubtful that a letter of support from Portland would move anyone on this committee, but since BikeLoud asked it of us I sent in written testimony. They provide a prewritten option, so I based my own on that — if anyone wants to swipe some or all of this for their own!

Deadline to submit written testimony is Friday at 8am.

Members of the Joint Transportation Committee,

I know you’re getting a lot of form letters from people supporting this bill. I hope you won’t discount them just because they’re using a prewritten text — support for the Safe Routes for All Act (SB 395) is strong here in Multnomah County. Let’s build on the legacy of the Bike Bill and move a little faster than ODOT’s estimation of 150 years to complete the walking and biking master plans.

To do that, of course, we need funding. Please pass SB 395 and let’s build safer streets for all.

Right now, my family is surrounded by “stroads” in Portland — streets that are designed and being used as mini-highways. Often four, five or even more lanes, these thoroughfares are difficult and dangerous to cross (regardless of how you’re doing so). Interstates and state highways exist in Multnomah County, but far too many neighborhood streets are doing double-duty as cut-through alternatives to these designated freeways. And as so much research has shown, designing streets that can be traversed at high speeds encourages drivers to use them that way, so this isn’t a matter of striping crosswalks or bike lanes and calling it good. These streets need to be calmed through physical infrastructure — medians, curb bumpouts/bulbs, protected bike lanes, diverters, pedestrian-activated crossing lights, priority for transit (like Rose Lanes), and more — but we know local and state agencies aren’t going to take on that kind of work unless they have funding.

Yet people continue to die preventable deaths from interactions with drivers who are, frankly, using these stroads as they were designed — hostile places for anyone not in a vehicle. It’s time to reconfigure these streets as safe places for everyone in our community, no matter how they’re traveling.

You know, from the other letters you’re receiving, what SB 395 provides for and why Safe Routes for All has clear benefits for our communities. But the most important take-away is this: People are dying on our streets in ways that would be easily prevented by changed physical street design. This is a crisis, and 1% of state highway funds is no longer going to cut it. The Safe Routes for All Act needs to be passed. Please vote in favor.

Thank you.

Roberta Robles
Roberta Robles
3 years ago

I trust Jake Weigler somewhat. Jake helped out with Universal Background Check a while back.

Which it’s sad that it’s 2021 and Jake is only now bringing on one person of color. He had opportunities in the past during gun safety campaigns to bring in women of color, but that didn’t go anywhere. I mean that’s one of the reasons Raiford went on to start Don’t Shoot PDX. Both Raiford and myself both put in time during 2014 to help Moms Demand Action form the Oregon chapter and connect them with Bloomberg money. And we both got mega cold shoulders from the White Moms who actively took actions to remove women of color from leadership positions. Jake was the paid political consultant during this time. Both Theresa and I quit Moms Demand Action. I can’t speak for why Raiford quit, but when it was go time in 2016 Raiford showed up like a brave warrior when the Moms could barely even walk in the door. Sitting in a committee room with a bunch of gun nutters is tough. I didn’t see Jake lead with the same fervor.

Moms Demand Action and Bloomberg money couldn’t swing Florida 2021. I would call Jake an Oregon political insider who hasn’t done enough for Oregon Women of Color and unlikely to swing this bill given his lack of historical support for Oregon people of color.

That’s why Street Trust hired him, he’s white and comes with a long sheet of wins gained through his white privileges. He didn’t bring up women of color for gun safety. I doubt he will do it for women of color on bikes. Disappointing decision by Sarah Iaronne to hire her ex campaign chief.

They lost and I don’t think they have the intention to win, they have the desire to keep their circles in paid gigs.