Business, fun and diversity on the agenda at Oregon Active Transportation Summit

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Anita Hairston, a transportation policy expert with
PolicyLink, spoke at the 2012 Summit.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Good conferences are like good cities: the most interesting things usually happen between schedules and around edges. For a transportation conference here in Portland, that probably goes double.

The two-day Oregon Active Transportation Summit, which starts one week from Monday, is filling out its schedule and the official agenda has some must-see keynotes and lots of breakout sessions that will be informative and inspirational (if past year’s are any indication). But there are two events not on the agenda that you should definitely plan to attend.

Learn more about them below the jump…

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Oregon Active Transportation Summit will bring two days of bikey braininess to Portland

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OATS in 2011.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

The state’s biggest conference about biking and walking policy is next month, and unlike in past years, it’ll take place in Portland.

An annual project of the Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the Oregon Active Transportation Summit is a professional networking and education event that gathers wisdom from the country’s best state for biking.

This year’s event will include breakout panels and keynotes at the downtown Governor Hotel on Monday, April 21, followed by a day of mobile workshops and bike tours on Tuesday. Tuesday will also offer a new feature of OATS: full-day trainings in urban bikeway design and urban street design from NACTO.

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Active Transportation Summit kicks off in Salem today

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Oregon Active Transpo Summit

PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller speaking
at the summit this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Active Transportation Summit is going on right now at the Salem Convention Center. 350 attendees will spend today and tomorrow learning, networking, and getting inspired to make cities throughout Oregon a better place to walk and bike.

The Summit brings together a powerful mix of activists, planners, scores of staffers from PBOT and ODOT, elected officials, and others. So far they’ve heard excellent keynote speeches and attended breakout sessions. There are three breakout sessions today and they cover a wide range of topics from the economic benefits of bicycle tourism to the nuts and bolts of ODOT funding. Here are some highlights of the agenda:

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Mark Gorton to keynote Oregon Active Transportation Conference

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Mark Gorton.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Mark Gorton, the founder of OpenPlans and the influential advocacy media empire Streetsblog, will deliver the keynote speech at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit next month.

The Summit takes place in Salem on April 24-25th and the agenda feature a host of speakers, breakout sessions, and a lobbying day at the state capitol.

Gorton (Wikipedia) is an engaging figure in the livable streets movement. An entrepreneur known for his creation of Limewire, a peer-to-peer file-sharing platform, he has devoted considerable resources to transportation and urban design issues for many years. He has been a major supporter of New York City-based non-profit Transportation Alternatives and his New York City Streets Renaissance initiative led to the creation of Streetsblog and Streetfilms. In 2009, the Utne Reader named him “One of 50 visionaries changing your world.”

At the Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference in Long Beach, California last year, Gorton got a standing ovation from the assembled crowd of advocates and bureaucrats. Gorton’s latest project, Rethinking the Automobile, is aimed at raising awareness of, “the negative impact of the automobile on our world.”

“Through public events and media campaigns,” states the project’s website, “Rethinking the Automobile reveals how policies that prioritize the automobile destroy public space in our cities and towns and have created a dangerous and unsustainable world.”

I interviewed Gorton back in November while in New York City. To put it mildly, he has strong opinions about the continued dominance of auto-centric city planning and policies. “The fact is, people are dying, people’s lives are being shortened,” he said, “Why aren’t people impatient? Why aren’t they holding people accountable? Now it’s time for planners and officials to start owning the health and safety of citizens. It’s about not letting these people get away with it anymore.”

That sentiment should make for interesting conversations among transportation advocates the Summit and in the offices of Oregon state legislators who just pushed through a massive freeway expansion project (the Columbia River Crossing) that was expressly designed to make automobile use more appealing.

You can register online for the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. See you there!

Getting to know Washington County’s new bikeway design ‘Toolkit’

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Susan Peithman, Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Susan Peithman with the
Bicycle Transportation Alliance
was one of the presenters.
(Photos and story by Will Vanlue)

The most interesting (in my opinion) and well-attended session I sat in on at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit focused on the work being done just over the hill from Portland in Washington County.

The session covered a few topics including an overview of two recent road projects and a change in the county’s policy on mid-block crossings (a key policy given the presence of many multi-use paths and suburban/rural arterials).

It also dove into Washington County’s highly anticipated Bicycle Facility Design Toolkit, an official document to help planners and engineers select the appropriate facility for bicycle traffic.

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At Summit, PBOT Director announces new 10% bike mode split goal

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Director of PBOT, Tom Miller, at the
Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

During a speech at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit in Salem yesterday, PBOT Director Tom Miller got advocates up to speed on the funding crisis at the agency and organizational changes they’ve made that could reap benefits for bicycling. In addition, Miller made the unexpected announcement that PBOT will soon roll out a formal 10% bike mode split goal, a step in accountability he says is unprecedented.

Miller said PBOT is being forced to adapt and change due to a “crisis in transportation” that revolves around funding. He said Portland has a 21st century transportation vision they are trying to carry out with a 20th century funding model.

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Day Two at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit

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It’s been a full day of networking, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and speeches here at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

I don’t have time to share the details of everything just yet (have a session to get back to!); but I wanted to share a few photos and brief notes.

The day started out with an opening keynote from Anita Hairston, a transportation policy expert with PolicyLink, a research organization that advocates for economic and social equity. Hairston shared what PolicyLink has learned about how to go beyond the usual suspects and reach into a broader audience for active transportation. (Many advocates are struggling with how to get their messages into more racially diverse and lower income communities.)

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Dispatch from Oregon Active Transportation Summit

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Big crowd at the Oregon Bicycle Tourism
Partnership meeting.

The 2012 Oregon Active Transportation Summit is going strong down here in Salem.

As I type, a room full of engineers and planners are listening to a trio of bike gurus from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) explain the ins-and-outs of the latest bikeway designs. City traffic engineer Rob Burchfield, bike program coordinator Roger Geller, and signals division manager Peter Koonce are leaded a six-hour course on the new NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. There’s also a special segment on designing bike boulevards. The idea of the session is to get more planners and engineers around Oregon familiar with things like cycle tracks, bike signals, new crossing treatments, and so on.

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Dates, topics set for 2012 Oregon Active Transportation Summit

A scene from last year.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you want to join the state’s leading active transportation advocates, policymakers, and citizen activists at the 2nd annual Oregon Active Transportation Summit, mark your calendar for April 16-17th. Cycle Oregon (yes, they put on that big, great ride, but they also do a lot of behind-the-scenes, statewide bike advocacy work) announced information about the upcoming event today.

The event began as the Oregon Bicycle Tourism Summit and was first held in Eugene back in 2006. Last year, it changed gears with an expanded mission to coalesce forces with walking and public transit advocates in an effort to garner more resources and have a more powerful collective voice.

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Lobbying for walking and biking in Salem: A photo essay

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A week may have already passed since the Oregon Active Transportation Summit down in Salem, but our news intern Patrick Croasdaile and I still have notes and photos to share. Of particular note was Patrick’s experience at the big “Lobby Day” on Wednesday.

Organized by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Lobby Day consisted of dozens of scheduled meetings between transportation advocates and state legislators. Patrick tagged along with a trio of advocates from the Community Cycling Center.

For a glimpse into the action, see his photos and notes below…

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Summit panel urges stronger connection between mobility, race, health

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The panelists: L to R: Dr. Philip Wu,
Olivia Quiroz, Mychal Tetteh, Noelle Dobson.
(Photos: BikePortland/Patrick Croasdaile)

In recent years, the fields of public health, equity and transportation policy have become increasingly linked. At a breakout session at the Active Transportation Summit yesterday, advocates and experts came together to learn more about why these issues are linked and discuss how to make that link stronger.

According to Dr. Phil Wu, a pediatric obesity specialist at Kaiser Permanente, “There’s no way to deal with obesity unless we start dealing with issues of transportation.”

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Photo slideshow from Oregon Active Transportation Summit

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See our slideshow below.
(Photo © J. Maus)

It’s been a full day of speeches, conversations, networking and info sessions here at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. The event is a yearly effort to bring together Oregon’s transportation advocates to share and gain knowledge.

Tomorrow is the climax of the Summit when the few hundred attendees will take to the Capitol building to meet with legislators and explain why investments in biking, walking and transit are important.

Below is a slideshow of the photos I’ve snapped so far…

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