There’s a lot of talk about equity in the transportation planning world these days.
Here’s an example of how the City of Portland is handling geographic equity in the roll-out of a major initiative:
Vision Zero is one of the largest efforts the Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently involved in. In fact, along with bike share, Vision Zero is probably the highest priority project for PBOT Director Leah Treat. She is throwing a lot (relatively) of her agency’s capacity and resources toward the planning and policies it will take to make Vision Zero a real thing and not just another buzzword.
Will the Vision Zero campaign be successful in Portland? Will we really eliminate serious injuries and deaths by 2025? That remains to be seen. There’s a long way to go. But so far PBOT is at least talking to the right people. And by that I mean people who don’t have easy access to the central city or City Hall itself. And people who bear an undue amount of those injuries and deaths.
On Monday the city is bringing Vision Zero to the Cully neighborhood in outer northeast Portland. They’re hosting a Safe Streets Fair at the Living Cully Plaza on the corner of NE Killingsworth and Cully. The event welcomes everyone in the community with free food, a Spanish interpreter (and other languages if needed), childcare and prizes.
When Portland made its first attempt at bike share in 2011, concerns about equity gave local leaders pause. So when the City rebooted the idea they made sure it would be accessible to as many Portlanders as possible; rich and poor.
Now the nonprofit Community Cycling Center will add to those efforts thanks to a $75,000 grant they just earned from the Better Bike Share Partnership, a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, People for Bikes, and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). The program, “strives to increase the accessibility and use of bike share in underserved communities.” The CCC’s award is one of nine grants totaling $532,000 that were announced today.
The CCC’s grant funding will be put toward a grassroots outreach and education effort that will start when the BIKETOWN bikes hit the streets in mid-July. The marketing initiative will be aimed at Portlanders living on low incomes. “In addition to offering very low-cost memberships through workshops, they will also use community feedback to improve and guide the system through launch and its first year of implementation,” reads a press release about the grants.
This is a guest post by Noel Mickelberry, executive director of Oregon Walks and a member of the City of Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force.
Transportation advocacy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our city’s new goal to eliminate traffic fatalities doesn’t, either.
It’s something that shouldn’t need saying, but I feel it needs constant reiteration. It is entirely too easy, and too common, for us to look at our streets as a series of connections, people divided by mode, unattached to the other issues surrounding us or how our lives are inherently impacted by transportation decisions on a daily basis. The ease by which many of us working in transportation advocacy are able to view our streets — of course a bike lane should go here, of course a crosswalk is the answer there — is in itself a privilege.
As we develop Portland’s Vision Zero policies, I’m asking us to go further. And I’ve got five specific suggestions for how to do so.
I often wonder how many activists have ever really struggled with poverty or even personally know anyone who has.
We talk a lot about infrastructure at BikePortland, because it matters to people who bike. But it’s very far from the only thing that matters.
In a comment beneath Monday’s post about the driving habits of rich and poor people, BikePortland reader Ellie wrote about a time in her life when she was too poor to drive but when her life was too fragmented and unpredictable for her to bike.
Both the argument against gas taxes and increased parking fees use the added burden on poor people as a reason not to increase associated costs, but it is mostly a red herring, an excuse to avoid extra taxes and fees for higher income earners. However, bike activist and urban planning activists due similar things. I often wonder how many activists have ever really struggled with poverty or even personally know anyone who has. One of my biggest frustrations with a certain sort of bicyclist is that they seem to think that since they do not find public transit useful, it isn’t important.
Soon after introducing bike racks to half its fleet, the floating-fleet car-sharing service car2go has made a much less popular change: it’s slicing its Portland service area by about a third.
The company said that areas east of 60th Avenue and northwest of Portsmouth, including Montavilla, Cully, Lents and St. Johns, had accounted for only 8 percent of trips and that 90 percent of car2go users surveyed said they were unsatisfied with vehicle availability. The company says that eliminating the least-used parts of the service area will lead to more car density in the remaining areas.
But that didn’t prevent digital howls Friday from disappointed users of the service — some of whom compared the problem to the one that’ll be faced by any future bikesharing system in Portland, too.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has announced two major new hires: a Communications Director and an Equity and Inclusion Manager.[Read more…]
for the equity think tank PolicyLink.
(Photo via Bicycle Transportation Alliance)
In 25 years, half the U.S. workforce will be of Latino, black or Asian descent — so if you ever plan on having a nurse, you’d better start caring about social equity.
That’s the way Melissa Wells, a program associate at D.C.-based equity nonprofit PolicyLink and co-leader of the national Transportation Equity Caucus, explains every American’s stake in racial justice.
Wells, who’s headed to Portland for a keynote address Monday to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, spoke with me by phone on Thursday about the dilemma of improving neighborhoods without raising rents and whether a new president is likely to roll back federal transportation policy changes.
“Where did we get the idea that a bike is too expensive to buy and maintain but a car is not?”
That’s one of the questions addressed by an interesting comment this week from reader Yvette Maranowski, who describes herself as a bike promoter, a community health worker and a member of the North Portland bike club We All Can Ride.
Source: Census Transportation Planning Projects. Chart by BikePortland.
Last week, we shared some new Census data showing that people who bike to work in Portland have quicker commutes than you might expect. This week, let’s look at a different question: who bikes?[Read more…]