One of the things that makes Portland’s cycling and transportation scene so rich and vibrant is the amazing crop of volunteer activists we have. In the past week, three of them have used their experiences and expertise to exert influence on a national and international stage:
Sam “Coach” Balto represented Portland at the first global Bike Bus Summit held in Barcelona March 30-31st. Balto is the leader of the Alameda Elementary School bike bus and a physical education teacher who pushes leaders to help kids get more active in and around school.
“Getting to participate in the bici bús Sant Antoni that inspired me to start one at Alameda Elementary was a powerful experience,” Balto shared with us about the experience. “It shows the importance of sharing joy and that addressing issues like climate change and air pollution can be really fun.”
I also asked Balto how his experience at the summit will impact the Alameda bike bus and the local movement in general:
“I was inspired at how many advocates and members of the community came together to support the bike bus ride by leading it with the music in front or corking intersections. I think there is an untapped interest of Portland residents to support bike buses around the city and I want to see if this is something that would be valuable to support existing current and future bike buses around the Portland area. Creating a network of community volunteers might be a great way to support bike buses in the region while we work on providing more options covered under student transportation funding at the state level.”
Road safety advocate Michelle DuBarry represented Families for Safe Streets at the annual Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety held in Seattle over the weekend. DuBarry, whose one-year-old son was killed while walking in a crosswalk in north Portland, was on a panel about the “Safe Systems” approach with national Vision Zero leaders. You might recall her appearance on our podcast in October 2021.
AJ Zelada represented the Multnomah County Bike/Ped Advisory Committee at the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. on March 27th. He co-presented his work on accessibility audits. Zelada works to make bike paths and trails more welcome for people with disabilities. He has focused a major part of his recent efforts on making paths and trails in the Columbia River Gorge more accessible to people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
Portland is lucky to have so many talented and dedicated activists. If there’s one in your life, make sure to say “thanks” and support them however you can.