Advocacy Archives

Iannarone to remain as leader of The Street Trust as org unveils new plan and staffers

Posted on July 21st, 2021 at 10:31 am.

New faces at The Street Trust. L to R: Education Director Lindsey Huber, Strategic Partnerships Manager Anouksha Gardner, Member Voice Manager Zeyaad Moussa, Executive Director Sarah Iannarone, Grants and Impact Manager Henry Latourette Miller, Engagement & Events Coordinator Madi Carlson, Policy Transformation Manager André Lightsey-Walker.
(Photo: The Street Trust)

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A Unity Ride recap and thoughts on respecting bodies in public spaces

Posted on July 15th, 2021 at 9:21 am.

Riders meet up prior to rolling out for a recent Unity Ride.
(Photos: Maritza Arango/@arango_mari)

Maritza Arango.

Publisher’s Note: Maritza Arango is BikePortland’s new events editor! This is her first (non Weekend Event Guide) post. Maritza moved to Portland from Bogotá, Colombia in January 2021. Stay tuned for a proper intro and more of her perspectives on Portland’s bike scene. – Jonathan

How hard is it for humans to understand that differences should be acknowledged and respected? It is not just a matter of thinking that we are all the same, because we are not. With that on my mind, I attended my first bike ride in Portland earlier this month. It was the Unity Ride; a ride only for women, trans and non-binary people.

“I want to get to know the community through the eyes of those who, like myself, believe their bodies are not welcome, appreciated, suitable, or even allowed on a bike.”

For centuries, the patriarchy has drawn a line between “them” – as the bodies that matter, the bodies that “can and should” occupy public space like it belonged to them – and “the others.” They feel entitled to comment, to look, to touch, to harass. It is unnecessary for me to explain (and honestly I don’t want to because it is exhausting) which bodies belong to that historical patriarchal status-quo and which don’t.

Now, you should be asking yourself: What does all this have to do with biking? Why should I make the decision to start writing about biking in Portland on such an uncomfortable topic? Well, I want to get to know the community through the eyes of those who, like myself, believe their bodies are not welcome, appreciated, suitable, or even allowed on a bike. This is how I want to introduce myself.

Some may think that bikes are just for sports, for fun, or for daily transportation. I was drawn to the Unity Ride for several reasons, in part because I think that bikes are so much more than that. I think riding a bike can be a political expression of individuals and communities.

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In Sellwood, on one of our stops along the Willamette River.

So let’s get to the ride recap!

Before I continue, I want to mention that I invited two friends to join me. Not only because I wanted to spend time with them, but also because I believed that I was not going to fit in. Why? Because I am a woman, I am overweight, I am Latina, and I have a disability and a service dog. Sounds like a perfect recipe for an entertaining conversation for a group of proud and drunk boys, right?

Amélie, my service dog, getting to know the community.

Here’s how it happened: First, I reached out to Sofie, one of the organizers, to let them know I wanted to join the ride and get to know them so I could write this report.

I arrived at Colonel Summers park, Friday July 3rd, at 7:00 pm. Around 15 people had already gathered, and were talking and waiting for something or someone. Everyone seemed to know each other except me. As I was waiting for Sofie, I felt like I was in an awkward blind date where I was waiting and looking for someone that should arrive “on a red bike.” My bike needed some adjustment so I decided to approach the group. People reached out to help and I even got a tool kit offered (thank you, PCC Active Transportation!). Everything seemed to have started from a good place. More people were showing up, and we quickly became a group of 20 or 30 bikers with so many different bodies and gender expressions.

Someone started talking to the group: “No homophobia allowed, no fatphobia allowed, no transphobia allowed, no misogynistic behavior allowed, no harassment allowed…” I can’t remember the exact words but I can summarize those with: No discrimination allowed. Turns out that person was Sofie. And that’s how I met her.

Some safety instructions were given to the group and we were ready to go. The ride was smooth, sunny, and beautiful. People were happy and it felt like a place where I could show any weakness with no judgment. During the ride some people approached me to check in, some to have a short talk and some were just sharing music and chillness – I know, it sounds too much like a unicorn safety fairytale, but it was real.

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We arrived at Sellwood park for a swim and a picnic after a 10-mile ride across a couple of bridges. (I wouldn’t recommend the ride to beginners that are just learning how to ride; I’d say it required a minimum set of skills.)

At the picnic I talked to some of the organizers of the ride; here is a little bit of what they shared with me:

“The ride has been going on for about a year now. It started biweekly but now is weekly. We have two rides: One that goes at a pace that’s inclusive to all riders, and one that’s faster for more experienced riders. We strive to include women, transgender and non-binary people that have felt excluded or intimidated to forming community around bikes. We want the community to be as involved in the ride as they want to be! We aim to create an inclusive environment where no one person is the sole leader. We prioritize safety and inclusion while having fun!”

What is my conclusion after riding and talking with them? Everyone is invited except the ones that have a privilege that allows them to be respected, accepted and safe in any or every other ride. Why? Because women and other bodies that are non-dominant need spaces to feel safe and to…. just be. Don’t take my word as the Unity Ride’s word, this is just me asking the world to give women and others more spaces where we can take care of each other, be vulnerable, learn and especially, not be harassed!

I promise that you’ll read from me a lot more reasons why women belong on bikes and why public space is in debt to us, “the others.” Thank you for reading!

— Maritza Arango, @arango_mari on Instagram and Twitter.
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Sarah Iannarone steers The Street Trust down old road with a new plan

Posted on May 26th, 2021 at 10:40 am.

A rally hosted by The Street Trust on SE Powell Blvd in 2018.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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Push for bike/walk spending increase in Oregon “Bike Bill” headed for compromise

Posted on April 13th, 2021 at 2:31 pm.

Screen grab from Bike Bill 50th Birthday Party.

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Metro launches ‘Kids are everywhere. Drive like it” campaign

Posted on March 22nd, 2021 at 12:21 pm.

(Sampling of campaign graphics.)[Read more…]

Information access is at the heart of Portland’s Vision Zero struggle

Posted on March 18th, 2021 at 4:42 pm.

Oregon Walks reviewed thousands of pages of police reports and other sources to recreate each crash.
(Source: Oregon Walks Fatal Pedestrian Crash Report)

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Oregon Active Transportation Summit is back after virus hiatus

Posted on March 12th, 2021 at 1:43 pm.

Graphic: The Street Trust

Stymied by Covid in 2020, the Oregon Active Transportation Summit is back and looks to be stronger than ever.[Read more…]

TA’s “25 x 25” campaign is an inspiring push for people-centered streets

Posted on March 3rd, 2021 at 1:55 pm.

There’s been a lot of talk in Portland in recent years about the need for transportation reform advocates to take a more intersectional, coalition-oriented approach when pushing for big changes.

The NYC 25×25 campaign launched Monday by New York City-based nonprofit Transportation Alternatives looks to have set the standard by which all such efforts will be judged. It’s one of the most bold, exciting, and inclusive advocacy efforts we’ve ever seen.[Read more…]

Oregon Walks picks Ashton Simpson as new executive director

Posted on December 22nd, 2020 at 9:37 am.

Ashton Simpson

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With departure of executive director, Oregon Walks will push even harder for racial justice

Posted on October 8th, 2020 at 12:16 pm.

Jess Thompson at an event in April 2019.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Walks Executive Director Jess Thompson announced Wednesday morning she’s leaving to take a job as leader of a nonprofit in Hawaii. The move will further hasten the organization’s shift away from traditional walking advocacy and toward anti-racism work that centers racial and social justice.

Thompson was hired in October 2018 to lead Oregon Walks, a group founded in 1991 that was formerly known as the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition.

“It is a bittersweet transition,” Thompson said in her announcement, “because I have learned so much from each of you as we have engaged in the work to center walking as climate, health, transportation, and social justice solution.”[Read more…]