the street trust
“It’s a bigger playing field with a lot more actors on it.”
— Gerik Kransky on how bike advocacy has changed since 2008.
The Street Trust has lost another senior staff member.
Gerik Kransky, who joined the organization in 2010 when they were known as the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, announced yesterday he’ll leave the organization at the end of this month. Kransky has accepted a position with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality where he’ll help administer the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement grant program.
“The public concern about traffic is a great opportunity, but also a great risk if we don’t have right leaders in place.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust
If Portland has any chance of reaching its transportation goals and bashing through the ceiling of the driving-dominated status quo, we must have more progressive politicians who fear the consequences of inaction more than a few angry constituents and tough headlines.
That’s the thinking behind the newly created Street Trust Action Fund, a new 501(c)(4) arm of the Portland-based nonprofit.
The Street Trust as we know it today is a 501(c)(3), a federal status that limits their ability to get directly involved with politics — whether through lobbying for specific legislation or the support of specific candidates for office. As a 501(c)(4) The Street Trust Action Fund will be able to endorse political candidates and lobby for issues without limitation. Unlike a 501(c)(3) however, donations to the new entity will not be tax deductible.
Reached for an interview via phone today, The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler said they plan to launch the new organization with a fundraising party this Thursday (6/28). In the short-term, they plan to focus on two key political races: a Portland City Council seat that’s up for grabs and a Washington County Chair race. “We think it’s really important to connect with those candidates and provide some guidance [to the community] about who we think will be strongest for transportation.” In addition, Detweiler says the new 501(c)(4) status will help them more fully engage with the ongoing effort to build support for a major transportation funding bond that will emerge in 2020.
About two dozen people stood on the corners of SE 26th Avenue and Powell Boulevard last night to protest plans to remove a pair of bike lanes. As big, wet snowflakes fell, people rang horns and bike bells and held signs high that read, “No backpedaling on our safety,” “It’s always biking season,” “Keep your hands off our bike lane” and “Vision Zero now”.
LeeAnne Fergason is the new Safe Routes to School program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
ODOT announced the hire in a statement today, saying Fergason will join the agency in mid-December.
Reached today via email, Fergason told us she’s excited for her new role but, “Deeply saddened to say goodbye to The Street Trust.” “The Street Trust’s staff (old and new), partners (so many amazing partners), and supporters (our members and friends),” she continued, “have helped me so much, and I’m eternally grateful for all the smart, passionate, and kind people that have taken the time to teach me.”
Fergason is the longest tenured employee at The Street Trust. According to her official bio she began work there as a bike safety education instructor in 2007. Fergason became The Street Trust’s main advocate for Safe Routes to School (a program they implement with a combination of state, federal, and regional funding) and spearheaded their “For Every Kid” campaign. She moved into the deputy director role back in July when The Street Trust’s former deputy director Stephanie Noll left the organization.
There’s a lot of Safe Routes work to do at ODOT these days. The former manager of the program, Julie Yip, recently retired, and the statewide transportation package includes $125 million over the next 10 years for a new Safe Routes to School grant program. As ODOT announced today, one of Fergason’s first tasks will be to staff a new Rules Advisory Committee that will create the policy framework for how these new funds will be allocated.
Rob Sadowsky is the new executive director of Bark, a Portland-based nonprofit that works to protect and conserve the Mt. Hood National Forest.
It’s an interesting position for Sadowsky. While Bark supports some types mountain biking, they are co-plaintiffs (with Sierra Club) on a lawsuit to halt construction of the Timberline Mountain Bike Park (more on that below).
Many of you know Sadowsky for his work with The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance), where he was executive director from 2010 until being fired by the board of directors back in January.
Bark was founded in 1993 and currently has eight staffers and an email list that goes out to around 30,000 people (they are not a membership-based organization).
As I mentioned above, Bark is fighting a plan by Timberline Lodge to create a lift-assisted mountain biking resort on Mt. Hood. In 2013 we published an op-ed in opposition to the project from Bark board member Amy Harwood. Final oral arguments on the lawsuit were just heard on Monday (it was Sadowsky’s first day on the job and he was in the courtroom) and a decision is expected within the next month or so.
The Street Trust says “compromises with legislators” are why they won’t sign I-5 widening opposition letter
In a blog post yesterday The Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) offered further rationale for why they’ve chosen to not sign onto a letter opposing the a freeway widening project on Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter.
In a post titled, “The future of the Rose Quarter” written by newly hired Communications Director Romain Bonilla, the group said, “While we have chosen not to sign this coalition’s letter, we share advocates’ concerns and wholeheartedly agree that widening highways will not reduce congestion.”
The No More Freeway Expansions coalition has written a letter to Portland City Council and the Oregon Transportation Commission that has been signed by over 25 organizations including the Audubon Society of Portland, Neighbors for Clean Air, the Urban Greenspaces Institute, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon and others. Their letter strongly opposes the I-5 widening project and demands that the project is removed from the City of Portland’s Transportation System Plan.
Jillian Detweiler is the new leader of The Street Trust.
The 51-year-old northeast Portland resident who lives on the Going Street Neighborhood Greenway and tells us she “cheered” when its sharrows appeared in front of her house, is a new kind of leader for an organization in the midst of transformation.
Detweiler is currently the interim development manager for Prosper Portland (formerly the Portland Development Commission). Before that she served three years as a policy director for former Mayor Charlie Hales — her second stint on Hales’ team after working with him out of college in the mid 1990s.
After earning a Masters degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina in 1992, Detweiler worked on planning and permit issues for then Commissioner Hales from 1995 to 2002. After that she spent 12 years at TriMet — first as a planner and then as director of real estate. In that position she oversaw $240 million in property acquisitions as part of the MAX Orange Line project.
With her background of city hall politics, transit planning, and high-profile development work, the selection of Detweiler reflects The Street Trust’s goal of becoming a political powerhouse with an expansive portfolio and the funding streams to make it all possible. She has no experience in professional bicycle activism, and that’s likely part of the reason she was hired (we heard from sources that The Street Trust favored candidates with more political experience).