When we interviewed U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election he said, “If four years from now the places that can make the most advantage of transportation investments don’t get that help, that’s going to be not just a missed opportunity in terms of safety and economic benefits of transportation — it’s going to be a lost political opportunity as well.”
Yesterday, just four months before that four-year deadline, Rep. Blumenauer and his colleagues in the House of Representatives (led by fellow Oregon congressman Peter DeFazio) seized that political opportunity and successfully passed H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act.
The bill invests $1.5 trillion in infrastructure projects and programs including $500 billion for transportation-related needs. The League of American Bicyclists has heaped praise on the legislation, saying, “This bill is transformative – it’s the first bill to approach real reform in almost 30 years… and will move the country forward in building a safer, cleaner, more equitable transportation system that better meets the needs of everyone.”
Among the highlights are several of Blumenauer’s top priorities that he’s been pushing for years including a stronger tax benefit for people who ride a bicycle to work, a policy tweak that would allow transit agencies to invest in bikeshare systems, and funding for Vision Zero plans. Blumenauer introduced a total of nine bills that were included in the Moving Forward Act and five of them are related to transportation:
The dream of a carfree bridge over Interstate 84 between the central eastside and Lloyd neighborhoods is older than some of the people who showed up for its groundbreaking this morning.[Read more…]
Yesterday evening Portland City Commissioner of Transportation Chloe Eudaly announced that the soon-to-be-built carfree bridge over Sullivan’s Gulch and I-84 will be named in honor of U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.[Read more…]
Hoping to incentivize cycling in America, Oregon Congressman (and former Portland City Commissioner) Earl Blumenauer has introduced the Bicycle Commuter Act of 2019.[Read more…]
“It is a big, beautiful idea, and I can’t stop smiling.”
— Kasandra Griffin, executive director of the Community Cycling Center
On Sunday, December 3rd, the Community Cycling Center celebrated 22 years of the Holiday Bike Drive, a program that has provided over 10,000 bicycles to children from families living on lower incomes since 1995. The 22nd annual Holiday Bike Drive was a heartwarming delight of over 400 children finding and riding their first bicycle. Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Ron Wyden joined in to celebrate bikes, kids, volunteerism and community..
“To many, the Holiday Bike Drive looks like the day in which over 400 children get a bike,” said Kasandra Griffin, Executive Director of the Community Cycling Center. “But for me, the Holiday Bike Drive looks like the first day of a lifelong relationship with bicycles for over 400 children. It is a big, beautiful idea, and I can’t stop smiling.”
There is no more staunch defender of the Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit, a current federal provision that allows people to exclude (a whopping) $20 a month from taxable income for “expenses related to regular bicycle commuting.”
So when emerged that the Senate GOP’s tax plan would kill it, while retaining a $255 monthly commute benefit for parking cars, we knew Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer would have something to say about it. After all, he authored the current benefit and championed its passage in 2008. To Blumenauer, it’s a simple matter of equity.
Transportation is such a hot topic in east Portland right now that, “We need to be inside with the air conditioning,” said Lee Cha last night in the gym of the Immigration & Refugee Community Organization, located near the intersection of 102nd and Glisan. Cha, IRCO’s executive director, welcomed a panel of three lawmakers to a public forum on the topic: County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Oregon State Representative Janelle Bynum and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
The trio shared their perspectives on the issues and were asked questions by the audience.
Blumenauer played emcee and kicked things off. A veteran bike advocate and the face of cycling in Congress, Blumenauer knows the big picture here: He went to high school nearby and served as both a county and city commissioner before moving to D.C.
One-by-one he checked off some of the big problems. “Since the first light rail and a few freeway projects, there’s been very little federal investment east of 82nd,” he said. “And the 205 freeway was a mixed blessings in terms of what it did to the neighborhoods it was dropped into. It took a lot of time for the communities to recover… This area has been sort of a stepchild.”
Blumenauer added that “orphaned highways” like Powell and 82nd are “stuck in limbo” and “aren’t much different from when I went to high school out here and that was a long, long, long time ago.”
A week from today three politicians will come together to learn more about transportation issues facing east Portland. And there’s a lot to talk about.
On August 3rd, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, State Representative Janelle Bynum and Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega-Pederson will be joined by staff from the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and other organizations for a Public Forum on Transportation.
The event was spurred in part by a flurry of legislative and planning activity on two of east Portland’s most infamous and important arterials: Powell and Division. The passage of a new statewide transportation law earlier this month included $110 million in funding for outer SE Powell Boulevard and a mandate to transfer its management from the state to the city. Advocates with the East Portland Action Plan have already started organizing to make sure these funds are spent in accordance with the Outer Powell Conceptual Design Plan which calls for creation of an “urban main street” with separated bikeways throughout.