Pedal On, Kittie Knox

Kittie Knox is surfacing again with welcome arms.

Knox is a cyclist from Boston who lived in the late 1800s and died early at age 26. There are few facts and one might think she is a token to be bandied about. But this is not true. And thanks to Lorenz Finison who published The Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880-1890, we receive greater insights into who she was. Her life and treatment by other cyclists forces us to ponder, have we changed?

The Racial Divide feels ever great everywhere. Having our America build United States-Mexico border walls heightens the Berlin Wall of Eastern Germany ethic of xenophobia. In our town, we have a huge melting pot of 40 plus languages in the Gresham-Rockwood area, the large disparity of those who are insured vs. no insurance, the homeless sprawl, the face of younger people without prospects to equal equity comforts of their parents; the largest economic class disparity since 1929…the list goes on for those who are subject of disparities in addition to more often mentioned racial disparity.

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I want a new traffic lane

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

I want a new traffic lane.

I want a new traffic lane for my birthday. Well not my birthday, but it would be great to have new lane to celebrate the Oregon Bike Bill. The lanes I want are on the Abernathy Bridge for bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, skateboarders, pedestrians and who are primarily human powered in some manner. We are traffic, too. It seems a fitting tribute to the Bike Bill considering we just dedicated a new sculpture at PSU funded by Oregon Economic Council on Friday, April 26, 2019. Of course, there is a darker side to the un-kept promises of the Bike Bill.

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Legislative – ODOT Autonomous Vehicle Task Force

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Jul 12, 2018

Dear Governor Kate Brown,

RE: Multiple Issues of the Task Force on Autonomous Vehicles (AV)

I have concern there is no representation from our Oregon Pedestrian and Bicycle community advocacy groups on the legislatively created Autonomous Vehicle Taskforce. I realize this Task Force Committee was legislatively driven & ODOT appointed, but our state needs your leadership for vulnerable road users’ voice within the Task Force’s products.

I urge you to consider adding the Pedestrian Bicycle Postscript perspective that includes Bicycle and Pedestrian viewpoints. We have a wealth of people to serve to create an addendum regarding Autonomous Vehicles with this perspective in mind: Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory to Oregon Department of Transportation, the Street Trust, Oregon Walks, OPAL, Community Cycling Center and others.

Given that the first round of Task Force Agenda and Memorandi are now appearing…there are deficiencies which show the void of not having all the important players at the table. The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Vulnerable Road user viewpoint is missing in every material packet presented on the ODOT website.

1) Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Long-Term Policy, Oregon Task Force on Autonomous Vehicles has no reference to the US Senate Bill 1885 – AV START Act which is in committee in DC.

2) There is NO mention of Visioning Systems or Pedestrian/Bicycle/Vulnerable Road User Protection:
A. Insurance and Liability Subcommittee 1 Materials June 6
B. Law Enforcement and Crash Reporting Subcommittee Materials June 7

3. One mention of ‘Pedestrian’
A. Licensing and Registration Subcommittee 2 Material June 12
B. Automated Vehicle 101 materials ODOT
C. The Drive toward Change: Use Cases for AV ODOT

There is no discussion of ORS 811.065 safe passing distance for bicyclists (or pedestrians). This is a sad comment and potentially a liability for the state for the exclusion of this pedestrian / bicycle / vulnerable road user point of view at this high policy level. I am appreciative of the experience of the Chair Tim Tannenbaum from Washington County & his background with his police officers on bicycles. But again, the materials on the ODOT web illustrate the failure to be in the discourse. Given that Pedestrians and Bicyclists have the greatest vulnerability for injury and death on our roadways, it seems the Oregon task force committee should correct the exclusion of these road users.

Federal Issues

In an advisory from Chair Elaine Chao of the US Department of Transportation, she states: “Entities are encouraged to have a documented process … are expected to be able to detect and respond to other vehicles (in and out of its travel path), pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, and objects that could affect safe operation of the vehicle… should also include the ability to address a wide variety of foreseeable encounters, including emergency vehicles, temporary work zones, and other unusual conditions…that may impact the safe operation…”

Where Death Occurs

As you should be aware, Governors Highway Safety Association report in late 2017 found 82% of pedestrian fatalities occurred outside of intersections. These midblock crossing deaths are now the new normal. This is a new revelation heightens the importance of vision systems that must include maximum awareness systems for any detection. (

The Public Awareness of Autonomous Vehicle Deaths

The League of American Bicyclists, has been monitoring the AV Start which the US House just passed months ago in a version within the Federal Aviation Authorization bill. The Senate is to take up this concern now. We want the inclusion the Vision tests (in the vernacular of safety standards: to see construction workers on the road, blind people crossing intersections, police directing traffic, first responders as well as our large population of pedestrians and bicyclists). Attached is the League of American Bicyclists statement that will apprise you of our pedestrian/bicyclist perspective and the needed AV START inclusion of the Vision Test.

For example, ‘The crash in Tempe, as well as preliminary studies in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, show that automated vehicles on the road are not always able to detect and respond to vulnerable road users such as bicyclists, pedestrians and people in wheelchairs. In San Francisco, automated vehicles were found to engage in four of the five driver behaviors most likely to cause vulnerable road user fatalities and injuries including: running red lights, rolling through stop signs, making dangerous right turns, and not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. A survey by Bike Pittsburgh of its members received a number of comments on near-misses by autonomous vehicles, and of incidences of AVs not following the state’s four foot safe passing law. In addition, recent articles in IEEE Spectrum and in Slate magazine report that detecting bicyclists is one most difficult problem ADS technology faces and testing for bicyclists lags behind other automated driving system technology tests.’ ~ from the League of American Bicyclists.
I hope you see that this AV Task Force committee needs leadership beyond the present AV Task Force’s cockpits view that disregards Transportation including the bicyclist, the pedestrian and vulnerable road users.
Thank you for taking these matters seriously. And thank you for your service with this important state wide issue.


A. J. Zelada, OD
Member, Board of Directors
League of American Bicyclists

Former Member and Chair, 2008-2013
Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory to
Oregon Department of Transportation

League of American Bicyclists’ Concern of AV Visioning Omission
Letter from Advocates for Highway Safety & Auto Safety
AV_Fact_Sheet_final (1)-1.pdf

cc: Oregon Task Force Members on Autonomous Vehicles
Jonathan Maus,
Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee to ODOT

League of American Bicyclists Concern of AV Visioning Omission.
(copy sent to Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley)

We are writing to strongly urge you to oppose efforts to attach the pending AV START Act (S. 1885) to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act (S. 1405), which is expected to be considered on the Senate Floor soon after the upcoming recess. Giving the AV START Act a “ride” on the FAA bill would be ironic at best and lethal at worst.

The safety deregulation built into the AV START Act and the precise and thorough way aviation handles autonomous systems is a study in stark contrast. The FAA has rigorous protocols for ensuring the safety of automation in the air, and examples of the success of effective standards and oversight of automated systems fly over our heads every single day.

Conversely, the AV START Act, in its current form, shockingly exempts potentially millions of these self-driving vehicles from meeting existing safety regulations. The failures of this experimental technology have been tragically demonstrated in a number of crashes which have resulted in at least three deaths. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has several open investigations which will produce findings likely to have a direct bearing on the AV START Act. The bill should not be advanced, especially as a rider on the FAA bill, until those investigations are complete and critically-needed changes are made to ensure safety.

The AV START Act will likely set policy on driverless cars for decades to come. As such, comprehensive safeguards, sufficient government oversight and industry accountability are essential. The bill, in its current form, fails to provide these minimal safety protections. The reasonable improvements outlined below will address known and foreseeable problems with driverless car technology. Moreover, they will help to bolster public trust in this nascent technology which has already shown to be deficient. We ask for your support for the following commonsense improvements:

● Limit the size and scope of exemptions from federal safety standards;
● Require minimum performance standards such as a “vision test” for driverless technologies, cybersecurity and electronics system protections, and distracted driving requirements when a human needs to take back control of a vehicle from a computer;
● Provide for adequate data collection and consumer information;
● Compel all AVs to capture comprehensive crash data in a format that will aid investigators such as the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA);
● Ensure access and safety for members of all disability communities which have differing needs;
● Subject Level 2 (partially-automated) vehicles to all safety critical provisions;
● Prohibit manufacturers from unilaterally “turning off” vehicle systems such as the steering wheel and gas pedal which is not allowed under current law;
● Maintain the right of states and localities to protect their citizens by regulating the AV system in absence of federal regulations; and,
● Provide NHTSA with sufficient resources and authorities.

Some critics of these changes claim they would stifle innovation or hamper technological progress. But what they will actually do is provide essential protections for AV occupants as well as everyone sharing the roads with them for many years to come. Our diverse group of safety, public health, bicyclists, pedestrians, smart growth, consumer and environmental groups, law enforcement and first responders, disability communities and families affected by motor vehicle crashes support these sensible improvements that must be made before the bill moves forward.

It would be egregious to push the AV START Act through by tacking it onto a must-pass bill. Doing so would circumvent the regular legislative process and cut it off from full debate, discussion, transparent consideration, and the offering of amendments. The artificial urgency to advance this bill is disconnected from the reality that AVs are still potentially decades away. In fact, just last week Bill Ford Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, said “There’s been a lot of over-promising and I think a lot of misinformation that’s been out there. It’s really important that we get it right, rather than get it quickly.”

Yet, industry interests seeking to sell – not just test – unproven systems continue to perpetuate this false premise. We urge you to allow the NTSB to finish their recommendations so that you can benefit from their expertise to help inform you in your decision-making process and insist on the adoption of the urgently-needed safety requirements in the bill.

Thank you for your consideration.


A. J. Zelada, OD
Member, Board of Director
League of American Bicyclists

Former Member and Chair, 2008-2013
Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory to
Oregon Department of Transportation

Letter from Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, July 10, 2018 (copy)

July 10, 2018

The Honorable John Thune, Chairman
The Honorable Bill Nelson, Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson:
In preparation for tomorrow’s hearing “Complex Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: Lessons Learned from Spectre and Meltdown,” we write to highlight the critical problems related to the cybersecurity of connected and autonomous vehicles (AVs). As these cars will be “computers on wheels,” it is absolutely essential that strong protections be in place to safeguard against potentially catastrophic instances of vehicle hacking. We respectfully request that this letter be included in the hearing record.
Given recent high-profile cyberattacks and the tremendous threat that hacking will pose to connected and automated cars, we are very concerned that these potential risks are not being adequately addressed. In 2015, hackers demonstrated their ability to take over the controls of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was traveling 70 miles-per-hour on an Interstate outside of St. Louis, MO. By accessing the vehicle’s entertainment system using a laptop computer, hackers located miles away from the vehicle were able to send disruptive commands to the SUV’s dashboard functions, steering, brakes, and transmission. This incident is likely just a preview of the types of hacking that will be possible as vehicles become even more reliant on complex electronic systems and outside communications.
Moreover, there is a very real and dangerous possibility that instances of hacking will not only affect one individual vehicle, but could very well impact entire fleets or model lines – posing a severe risk to occupants of the hacked vehicles as well as other road users. These attacks could also clog roads, stop the movement of goods and hinder the response of emergency vehicles. Of additional concern, there are a number of tragic examples of conventional vehicles being used as weapons by terrorists. The potential for remote hacking of connected and automated vehicles by these malicious actors could have unimaginable implications for our national security. Moreover, these risks will only be exacerbated as commercial motor vehicles, specifically large trucks and buses, become more reliant on autonomous systems and are used in platoons.
Currently, Section 14 of the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act (S. 1885), only requires manufacturers to have a cybersecurity plan in place. This is woefully inadequate and has no requirements that any protections be implemented. Instead, the legislation should be improved to direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a minimum performance standard for all AVs (including SAE Level 2 vehicles). The agency should be required to issue this final rule within a reasonable deadline of three years after enactment. In fact, the July 6, 2018 edition of Science Magazine included an article penned by Joan Claybrook and Shaun Kildare which called for a cyber standard and suggested that regulators “look across industries and adapt standards from other modes and fields (banking, military, aviation, etc.) to ensure that AVs have a means for detecting and responding to an attack appropriately and preventing a widespread threat to safety.”
Further, we support the establishment of a method for sharing cybersecurity problems and vulnerabilities among manufacturers so that all systems can be updated accordingly. To mitigate against widespread impacts, establishing a method of quickly identifying issues and disseminating that information across all participants is critical.
The public recognizes the acute threat of cybersecurity attacks on vehicles, and for good reason. A poll conducted by Morning Consult earlier this year showed that 67 percent of adults responded that they were somewhat or very concerned about cyber threats to driverless cars. An ORC International poll from January 2018 showed that 81 percent of respondents supported the United States Department of Transportation issuing rules to protect against hacking of cars that are being operated by a computer.
We urge you to include the need for robust protections against vehicle hacking in tomorrow’s timely discussion. Furthermore, the pending AV START Act should not be enacted into law without requirements that sufficiently account for the reality of cybersecurity threats, including hacking into driverless cars. Thank you for your consideration of our position. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the safety of all road users.

Catherine Chase, President
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Joan Claybrook, President Emeritus
Public Citizen and Former NHTSA Administrator

Jason Levine, Executive Director
Center for Auto Safety

Jack Gillis, Executive Director
Consumer Federation of America

Rosemary Shahan, President
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

John M. Simpson, Privacy and Technology
Project Director, Consumer Watchdog

cc: Members of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Letter copy submitted to Gov. Kate Brown, Jul 12, 2018 by AJZ

League of American Bicyclists white paper: AV START Vision Test
Background: In 2017, The Senate Commerce Committee passed S. 1885, the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies” (AV START) Act. The goal of the bill is to establish an interim framework for the deployment of self-driving technology before it is mature enough to enable specific new federal safety standards. While the League of American Bicyclists (the League) supports the development of this technology and agrees that it has the potential to greatly reduce the traffic injuries and fatalities attributed to distracted driving, speeding and other behaviors, we also believe that these vehicles must be able to pass some basic safety standards before being deployed in large numbers on our streets.

The League calls for a standardized performance test, or “vision test,” that measures an automated vehicle’s ability to recognize and respond to vulnerable road users, including bicyclists, pedestrians and people with disabilities.

Vision Test Safety Standard: Set a federal standard ensuring that Automated Vehicles would are able to detect and re-spond to people biking, walking and using wheelchairs, as well as construction workers in work zones, first responders providing assistance and law enforcement officers directing traffic;
• Test the ability to detect and respond to roadway infrastructure designed for bicycling and walking including: shared lane markings (sharrows), crosswalks, including those that use art, pavers, or other non-standard paving; bike lanes, whether striped or buffered (with paint or physical barriers); and advisory bike lanes;
• Test the ability to detect bicyclists coming up along the passenger side of the vehicle, stopped alongside a row of parked cars, or signaling a left turn from the opposite side of the road.

Why It Matters: Pedestrian and bicyclists make up 17 percent of all roadway fatalities despite being responsible for 12 percent of the trips. Strong testing of automated vehicle technology has the potential to help reduce these risks, but only if vehicle manufacturers are held accountable to build and test their vehicles to recognize and respond to vulnerable users.

• Detecting bicyclists is one of the most difficult problems automated driving systems have, and yet what little public information on automated vehicle testing exists suggest that testing for bicyclists lags behind other automated driving system technology tests.
• Automated Vehicles in San Francisco were found to engage in four of the five driver behaviors with the highest results in vulnerable user fatalities, including: running red lights, rolling through stop signs, failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and dangerous right turns (AVs did not speed.) Each of these four behaviors observed in AVs could

be improved by AVs meeting minimum standards to detect and respond to all roadway users, signage, and markings.

E-bikes and Oregon State Parks & Recreation Rules

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

ON Monday April 23rd, Oregon Parks and Recreation (OPRD) held their first open hearing regarding allowance of e-bikes on state park paths and several beaches.

What I found fascinating was that all the personal testimony of individuals and also 3 businesses which rent and sell e-bikes were completely positive. In March I was at the League of American Bicyclists in DC and attended a presentation regarding regulation of e-bikes. That meeting was very contentious and polarized. It appeared to me an old guard of “e-bikes are not real bikes” versus “e-bikes are here to stay” crowd were leading to a civil war. Not happening here.

I was happy to be in Oregon on Monday hearing real stories of how e-bikes make a difference. One Hood River resident, 79 years old man, who had ridden his bike to work for 40 years has found his strength difficult to bike as much during the past two years and had stopped bicycling. He – in the past month – tried an e-bike and he was embracing a new life as he spoke. Another testimony came from an athletic man whose wife did not have the love of road bicycling and he said that an e=bike had given them a togetherness again in bicycling together (twas sad we did not hear her voice this tale). And of course the vendors stated the smiles apparent on everyone trying out an e-bike. Another wonderful testimony was from a walker on the Hatfield tunnel/Mosier trail who commented that the strength-training-lycra-human-powered crowd were zooming by most of the e-bike users and pedestrians at 30+ mph. Given that the e-bikes have hair dryer equivalent 750/1000 watt electric motors, she was most elegant retiring the worry of ebikes going over 20 mph. (for you engineers: 746 watts equals 1 horsepower)

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The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good of Bike accident economics

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

I only have week to go before I can get on my bicycles. I am not just looking forward to the naked bike ride but really looking forward to rolling through the air on my two wheels. The Why: the accident, the surgery, the recovery are my personal equivalent to the good, the bad, and the ugly in reverse order. I had shoulder surgery on Mar 24 and my orthopedist-surgeon told me multiple times you cannot bicycle for three months.

The cost of a bicycle accident triggers many thoughts about dollars, aging, and attitudes. The top muscle (supraspinatus) was completely torn from the bone. With age, this muscle (as well as many other ones) develops micro-tears. As one ages, more tears become larger, pain increases, and accidents have greater consequences pushing up the cost of medical treatments. For me it was simply a fall-over with a cargo bicycle caused this big rip. published an article by John Metcalf at the beginning of June describing the increasing costs of bike injuries. He stated that there has been an increment of a 120% ‘bump’ in hospital visits featuring bicycle crashes since 1990. More than 800 deaths from car-on-bike crashes occurred in 2015 in the US. He reported that a serious non fatal ‘accident’ in 1997 cost an average of $52,495 which included medical expenses, missed work, and reduced quality of life. This figure jumped to $77K in 2013.

Metcalf went on to report that the total bike injuries costs have increased nearly $789 million per year from the late 1990s and to near total of $24 billion in 2013 (yes 24 billion). Additionally, there are more older-cyclists. There were nearly 2 million bicyclists in 2001 over the age 45 and in 2009 this number reached 3.6 million. I could not find the number of these riders in this decade. Federal data shows biking rates among people between the ages of 60 and 79 are soaring. ‘New trips by seniors account for 22 percent of the nation’s growth in adult biking,’ according to People for Bikes. Growth rates of older bicyclists are larger than younger age groups of new bicyclists.

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Tale of two taxes: bicycle tax and taxing the system

Tale of Two Taxes: The bicycle tax and taxing transportation system.

The Bike Industry leaders in the May 15th BikePDX article state an excellent articulation of the troubles with taxing a single mode. Earlier this month a comment was made about taxing the ADA modes of wheel chairs & personal mobility devices as bringing intersections into ADA compliance is expensive. Taxing waffle material on sneakers could sarcastically satisfy the madness of Trump to balance tariffs in making pedestrians pay for Walk lights and stripe-ings and street calming measures. These, of course, are a snarky revelation that taxing a mode share can be a ridiculous paradigm.

But perhaps we need to chess move ahead. One of the programs that was successful in England was allowing companies to buy bicycles for their employees. The company could write off the bicycle costs as a company expense. The employee was then allowed to buy the bicycle from the company with specific employment guidelines (e.g. duration of employment). The employee could use pretax payroll dollars to purchase the bicycle. This boosted the use of bicycles tremendously during the ‘programme.’ This could be a simple amendment attached to the transportation bill which supports a positive active transportation scheme. Using honey to reduce cars on the road might be a bigger benefit than the 2 million potential dollars income from taxing bicycles. We need a legislator to write an amendment.

Associated with this concept is also a bicycle tax credit for those individuals who do not own a car and have purchased a new bicycle for the primary transportation. This would be easy to check through Oregon DMV. Again, to echo all the dealers: we need to promote efficient, health maintaining, sustainable modes of transportation. We need a legislator to write an amendment.

I spent a frustrating decade of the 2000s talking with legislative people who kept telling me that they receive more calls from angry citizens that bicycles don’t pay their way than they did from citizens who want bicycle infrastructure. The old BTA produced two great position papers in those days to show how people who ride bicycles do pay for road transportation in many ways. Our anemic sector participation in government of the last decades has come to roost in many ways. I ~sometimes late at night~ felt ‘let them tax us- get this off the table so we can have substantial development of infrastructure instead of millimeter steps. In those days, it was a turncoat’s idea to acquiesce to paying tax on bicycles. And there still is an vague sense that there is a potential quid pro quo of ODOT saying, well you only raised 2 million in taxes and that’s all you get for active transportation. We are still having this partisan, polarizing conversation as car drivers get to stare at each other at slower congested speeds and bicycles get to whiz by them at healthy speeds.

It is also frustrating that cars represent half of all the 3 mile trips. It is frustrating that the ODOT’s Orego system of taxing miles used instead of gas consumed gets such a bad rap. The Orego system as presented in our Oregon’s sustainability meetings in 2008 has the potential of taxing congestion. This is because the system knows exactly where and when you are on a congested highway and time period. No different than the iphone’s Find Friends. Literally, the tax could be applied where and when congestion occurred. For example, if you entered I-84 at 181st street and came into downtown, that precise route by the vehicle is recorded & could be charged a congestion rate from 730 to 930 AM. The structure is there. This is much less programming than the algorithms of driverless vehicles proceeding along I-84 during congested highway times. There was no political will to forecast this as a solution. ODOT and legislators cowered then and now.

Thinking that bicycling is taxing our transportation system costs and a bicycle tax is part of a bill that attempts to ameliorate congestion makes me mad. The child in me wants to strike/protest and really show how the absence of bicycles would tax the system. One idea that Lenny Anderson and I had separately was to have an All Car Day in Portland. Organize all those who bicycle to work crossing the bridges to get up early (530-600 AM) and occupy all the parking spaces with cars. Park in all the spaces on the street. Park in all the garages. Have a simple sign on each car stating “This car was a bicycle yesterday.” Imagine the 14,000 bikes coming into downtown Portland being a car instead. What a reality check for those complaining about congestion. Cars tax the system, not bicycles. ~AJZ

Guest article: My view of “OreGo”, Oregon’s new vehicle mileage tax program

Screengrab from OreGo website.
Screengrab from OreGo website.

This post is written by Jerry “AJ” Zelada, a Portland-based optometrist, citizen advocate, and former chair of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

I am one of the 891 users of OreGo (the State of Oregon’s experimental new road tax program) who paid the road use tax this past year. As readers here might recall, I was critical of the gas tax increase because the consumption of this resource is declining and will decline even further as auto and light truck efficiency increases and electric car numbers increase. And while I did vote for it, I am still opposed to taxing a resource rather than taxing actual use.

The OreGo program is a good tax mechanism. The program uses a simple plug-in device that measures miles driven. You are taxed 1.5 cents a mile and given credit for your expected payment at the pump. It is subtracted from a simple ‘wallet’ account. OreGo is also about data. It produces solid information about usage beyond miles driven; but the focus is so motor-vehicle oriented, we may miss including tax income for active transportation needs.

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Death and Congestion

I have been thinking about death lately.

First~ there is Vision Zero; there are my patients (I work with the end of life vision care); every month there are friends and acquaintances who face an earlier demise than the rest of us; and then there is Ragnar. Ragnar is in a soap opera that I watch faithfully and he keeps wondering what day he is going to die in his Viking world. He keeps seeing the Gates of Valhalla. He like us wants to know when the Gates will welcome him. And as much as ODOT/PBOT has a list of 100+ unsafe/dangerous intersections, we still never can predict which intersection doors of Valhalla will swallow another soul.

This leads me to think how can we change the things we can change.

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ODOT Bike/Ped Plan: State’s Safe Routes to School program gets only token support

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Gem of Oregon: Safe Routes to Schools

Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) is mentioned 13 times in the Bicycle Pedestrian Plan. Five are simple references. This program is the star of Oregon’s bicycle and pedestrian evolution but it is but a token of support by ODOT.

SRTS was started by an annual 1 million federal dollars line item for each state and has had to be renewed each year until the Map 21 budget. The Feds stopped the program and said to the states: it is okay to take the SRTS support from other parcels of Fed active transportation money…14 states terminated SRTS. Admirably, Oregon continued support and it does so today. We do thank them. BUT.

SRTS is still a step child shunted in the attic. ODOT has this program in the Safety division. Sounds logical. Safety budget is 32 million. Sounds good. BUT.

Safe Routes to Schools should be the centerpiece of the Bicycle Pedestrian Plan. It is an intergeneration program. It brings two generations into Active Transportation. It teaches traffic from the perspective of the pedestrian and the vulnerable roadway user. It teaches that destinations can be within active transportation range. It converts short automobile trips of 1 to 3 miles into active transportation. It teaches daily exercise which reduces the numbers of sedentary-related obese kids. And this teaches that narcissistic automobile and bicycle behavior is bad.

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ODOT Bike/Ped Plan: Absent Health

The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan includes Health as its sixth goal. It is 1/2 page in the summary and barely 1 full page in the latest Draft (Feb 2016). Health is on the backburner; Active Transportation deserves better.

The Plan continues a lip service to integration of Health & Transportation . In 2014, an Oregon white paper on Health and Transportation initiated a discussion about Health but also included other states’ opinion of health as a factor in transportation. The Plan truncates those results of health to feel-good language:
promotion of biking/walking to improve air quality and to give opportunity for physical activity.

The Plan could declare populating ODOT directly with resources regarding Health. The heart of health & transportation is asking do we have the right people at the table making decisions? I would suggest the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan respond by including Health at every table as more than a memorandum of understanding.

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ODOT Bike/Ped Plan: No Teeth

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

No Teeth

The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is a sprawling document of how we got here. The summary is a wonderful 10 page mix that will tell the world what we were thinking we want to be. As one digs into the body of the latest draft plan (Feb 2016), one is overwhelmed at the 85 pages of thoughts. It is a great History and a compulsive obsessive’s delight of detail in many arenas from the ADA to Zany acronyms. The contributors of the committee & staff members deserve a sincere thanks for this umbrella document.

I find it is missing teeth. It asks nothing of ODOT to execute these ideas. The language is tepid: “expand upon, communicate, identify, improve, seek opportunity.” Active verbs go missing.

Performance Measures are its weakest link. The Plan’s first goal is Safety and in particular the reduction of fatalities and serious injury (pgs35-38). It asks for a number of strategies: update the ODOT Highway Design Manual, determination of the level of separations needed for the roadway cross sections, illumination improvement, reduced pedestrian exposure time of crossing multi-lanes, using designs ‘where’ speed contributes to risk, study and examine guidance to address speed, exploring safety risk by sharing data, etc….I think you get the idea. My direct complaint is that ODOT’s implementation is not addressed.

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