Back in September, The Street Trust published our first annual impact report. This report details our most transformational successes that we were able to achieve in FY 21-22. These successes would not have been possible without the dedicated support from our board, our members, and our partnerships. To everyone who has been part of our hard work over the past year:
The Street Trust is tired of issuing statements and offering condolences for the loss of life and limb due to government inaction on SE Powell Blvd. in Portland and are demanding immediate action -today- from local and state government to prevent future injuries and deaths.
On May 10th, 2015 at this intersection, Alistair Corkett was struck by the driver of a pick-up truck, resulting in the loss of one of his legs. Just a few weeks later, on May 29th, Peter Anderson was bicycling through the intersection and had his leg broken by the driver of a Jeep Cherokee. On Tuesday, October 4, Aviary restaurant founder Chef Sarah Pliner was killed there while bicycling by the operator of a semi-truck. Our condolences go out to Sarah’s family and community as well as the over 400 families affected by traffic violence this year across Oregon. (Read the BikePortland report.)
These injuries and Sarah’s death were preventable and the lives of the Cleveland High School population and other street users in the area remain at risk. The Street Trust is demanding that the City of Portland and State of Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) cooperate to immediately physically separate from motor vehicle traffic all vulnerable street users including people on bicycles, pedestrians, and transit riders until a full investigation of yesterday’s killing is completed.
The Street Trust proposesimmediate emergency installation of a protected intersection for people walking and biking, as illustrated. This could be constructed immediately with concrete jersey barriers, event fencing, or other materials the DOTs have on hand, similar to those implemented for pedestrian safety during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. The Street Trust is also asking that Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) install metal signs that read, “High Crash Intersection” in that location.
Powell is owned and maintained by the Oregon Department of Transportation and The Street Trust has long protested against their mismanagement of this street, a so-called “Orphan Highway,” which is a state highway forced to function as a city street, (Read former ED Rob Sadowsky’s statement on violence in this intersection from 2015.) Powell Blvd. is notoriously dangerous. The intersection of SE 26th and Powell Blvd. is considered a high crash intersection for people traveling by bicycle, in particular. Between 2010-2019, there were two pedestrians and seven people riding bicycles injured there.
“We’ve accepted death and serious injury as a product of our transportation system and desensitized ourselves to the severity of its violence. We’ve convinced ourselves that death and injury are the expected outcome for people who navigate our transportation system outside of a motor vehicle… that is absurd!” says André Lightsey-Walker, Policy Transformation Manager at The Street Trust. “We have the data and tools necessary to solve these problems but we need the political will to redirect energy and resources toward our most vulnerable and historically disadvantaged street users or we’ll continue to see tragedies like yesterday’s occur.”
One year ago, on November 16, 2021, The Street Trust Executive Director, Sarah Iannarone, emailed ODOT Region 1 Manager, Rian Windsheimer, with her concerns about safety on this stretch of Powell Blvd., excerpted below:
“As the parent of a Cleveland High School grad who worried – quite rationally – whether my child would make it back and forth across Powell alive each school day, I can’t help but wonder what criteria (such as the presence of schools or community centers) and/or how many deaths in a concentrated area it takes before we’re willing to fully commit to Vision Zero? I am excited to hear that ODOT is planning an emergency speed reduction between SE 20th – SE 36th but hope you’ll consider an Emergency Speed Reduction to 20 MPH in that stretch rather than 30 MPH until the fatalities stop.
Please let us know how The Street Trust can support you in this effort, the jurisdictional transfer, or other safety improvements on this and other orphan highways across our metro region.”
Iannarone was joining a chorus of voices from the public and active transportation advocacy community in demanding critical investments in Powell Blvd., including the jurisdictional transfer of Inner Powell Blvd. to Portland Bureau of Transportation in a state of readiness and with an adequate -and mutually agreed upon- level of resources to upgrade the street to ensure safety for all users regardless of mode.
Given how long the transfer of 82nd Avenue from ODOT to PBOT took, we understand that this heavy lift could take years to research, negotiate, and fully fund. In the meantime, we are demanding that ODOT adhere to its own Blueprint for Urban Design (BUD) guidelines how streets like Powell Blvd. should be updated to meet the needs of multimodal transportation. To date, ODOT Region 1 Manager Rian Windsheimer and his enginners are using their discretion and choosing to NOT implement the BUD in Region 1. The public does not need to wait for a jurisditional transfer to see upgrades on Inner Powell: if ODOT is truly prioritizing safety (as they claim) and focused on reducing the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on their facilities, it will implement their existing policy standards on Inner Powell in advance of the jurisdictional transfer.
Harry Styles fans, adaptive bike riders, and Pedalpalooza regulars alike gathered on Saturday morning for The Street Trust and Adaptive BIKETOWN’s accessible group ride. It was my first time participating in and leading a group bike ride, along with Jenna Phillips (aka @jennabikes), my co-lead.
Since getting involved in the world of transportation justice, I’ve seen my friends post every year about fun group rides, especially during Pedalpalooza. It wasn’t until I tried out an adaptive cycle at Adaptive BIKETOWN that I could see myself being able to participate in a group ride.
We set the gathering time as 10am and left the departure time up to when the group was ready. Getting fitted to an adaptive bike can take a few tries and adjustments, and it was important to us to make sure everyone’s needs were met. Some rode their own bikes, some rode traditional BIKETOWN e-bikes, one person rolled along in their electric wheelchair, and myself and a handful of others rode adaptive bikes.
To make the event as accessible as possible, the 2.5 mile route started and ended at Adaptive BIKETOWN. We rode along the Eastbank Esplanade, briefly rode in the streets that connected us over to the Springwater Trail, and rode until a grassy opening where we pulled off onto the gravel trail for a water break before connecting back onto the paved trail and heading back.
Along the way we listened to the tunes of Harry Styles as they played out of an impressive, portable sound system pulled via bike trailer. Some riders dressed up in Harry Styles inspired outfits or donned feather boas and heart shaped sunglasses. While rides don’t require a theme, adding one gave myself and other disabled attendees, who can’t usually participate in group rides, the full experience.
If you’ve come across a BIKETOWN booth recently, you’ve likely seen their backdrop that says: YES, YOU ARE A BIKE PERSON. Riding together alongside other disabled people as we led the group truly allowed me to feel that sentiment for the first time. Seeing oneself represented and able to participate in the cycling community makes a world of difference in imagining how we can move through the world together.
Back in February, Willamette Week created a “25 Reasons to Love Portland” Valentine to this place we call home. Number seventeen was,“Because Portland Is Building Bridges for People, Not Cars.” In it, The Street Trust explained why we’re smitten with carfree public infrastructure investments like Flanders Crossing and the Blumenauer Bridge. They’re important from a transportation perspective for sure, creating safe, comfortable connections for people walking, rolling, and biking across parts of town that were previously noisy, stressful, and dangerous. But they’re also important for cultural and socioeconomic reasons.
Talk is cheap (just ask Portland’s 2030 Bike Plan), but what you spend your money on speaks volumes. And taking care to leverage public projects to get three or four bangs for each buck says a lot about the quality of governance in a place. Transportation wonks might think about these investments in terms of design and timeline, but what the general public sees are the promises we’re making and whether we’re making good on them.
So what are Portland’s carfree bridges promising?
We care about people. Active transportation projects which are safe and accessible tell people we care about their happiness and safety. Exercise is good for our health and low-stress connections reduce, well, stress. Have you tried chatting car-to-car while driving down the street? Didn’t think so. But you saw plenty of chatting and laughing last week while folks strolled across the bridge. (P.S. When we provide amenities such as shade trees, water fountains, and public restrooms, it tells people we care even more.) [insert picture]
We care about the planet. Yup, temperatures at the Blumenauer Bridge festivities were brutal, with many folks hunkered beside walls and under pop-up tents for refuge. Year after year, we’re breaking climate records for rainiest this or hottest that. Climate change is unrelenting. Major carfree infrastructure is a high return on investment climate solution that demonstrates we’re serious about changing the status quo with urgency. Bonus? They’re going to come in handy after a major seismic event.
We care about placemaking. Since Aristotle (and probably before) humans have debated the meaning of place. But at the core, places (as opposed to spaces) are where humans interact with and make meaning in our environment. In Portland, there’s an intentionality to our placemaking through which we collectively celebrate diversity, art, community, mobility, and so many other experiences in our ever changing world. These new bridges don’t just connect great places like Lloyd District and Central Eastside, they are beautiful and engaging places in and of themselves.
We care about prosperity. Bridges that connect places thoughtfully and prioritize people over cars are good for business and the economy. They are economic drivers with a lighter footprint on local streets. But the economic benefit goes beyond helping local businesses. They also save money on healthcare costs because of reduced air pollution and fewer automobile crashes. And bottom line: they are a lot cheaper to construct than auto-centric infrastructure.
Carfree bridges such as Flanders Crossing, Blumenauer Bridge, and even Tilikum Crossing are indeed small compared to their gargantuan and overpriced car-centric counterparts (looking at you Interstate Bridge, ahem); they set the bar high for our transportation future and make good on our promise to realize a healthier, more just, and sustainable future.
On July 31st, The Street Trust and friends from Teatro Milagro, Go Lloyd and other fans of active transportation celebrated the opening of the Earl Blumenauer Bridge with the Bowtie Congressman.
The Street Trust loves street activation – go figure.
We can’t hide it it, we adore open streets events! City of Portland’s Sunday Parkways isn’t the only open streets extravaganza to return to the region this year: Carefree Sunday returned to Milwaukie after a three-year hiatus.
The five-mile route for Sunday’s event featured three parks and one church. There were a lot of street activations this year, including roller skating with free skate rentals, the region’s best mobile bicycle obstacle course, and live music.
An early-morning decision to end the event early – at 1:30 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m. – to protect people from extreme temperatures was smart, but it also sadly meant the planned food trucks and beer garden weren’t part of the event.
The event drew lots of neighbors who lived directly along and close to the route and it was nice to chat with them about their transportation choices and options. It was enlightening to compare answers to our prompt, “What would make it easier for you to drive less?” at Carefree Sunday compared with responses we got at the recent Blumenauer Bridge opening celebration in central Portland the week prior.
Universal across both events was a plea for more streets for people and carfree days. However, in Milwaukie, where our Carefree Sunday perch was along sidewalk-deficit Stanley Avenue, there was an resounding call… the people want more sidewalks!
Using a 1.6-mile section of the Springwater Corridor Trail was an ingenious way to stretch the route to five miles by utilizing a low-conflict amenity. While people walking the route and families with small kids on bikes often choose a couple parks to focus on during an open streets event, there are always folks who want to complete the circuit and this was a great loop for that.
A highlight of the day? Milwaukie Mayor (and legilsative candidate) Mark Gamba stopped by our booth to confirm that Carefree Sunday will be an annual event. We encourage you to participate next year!
The Street Trust is joining in on the fun by leading two guided rides – one by bike and one by public transit – from the Lents neighborhood to the waterfront. Apart from being tons of fun, these rides will also draw attention to one of the deadliest heat islands in the city and help educate residents how they can access the cooling power of one of Portland’s best free amenities, our beautiful Willamette River.
Sunday, July 10th, meet in Lents Town Center at 10:00 a.m.
With extreme summer temperatures on our minds, The Street Trust is eager to demonstrate that the trip from Lents to the Willamette River can be fun, quick, and affordable by leading two group rides to the Big Float – one via transit and one via bikes and other active transportation devices. Special thanks to Biketown and TriMet for making these trips accessible for all.
We’ve got 150 free tickets to the event, free life jackets for all, and if you need a free bus ticket or free Biketown code, we’ve got that, too!
We joined 350PDX for their Heat Week Ride on Tuesday and visited the hottest spot in Lents, where PSU Professor Vivek Shandas reported the ground was over 100 degrees despite the temperature feeling mild in the shade. The ride took us from Lents to inner Southeast Portland so we could experience the change in quantity of tree canopy and notice the increase in shade and drop in temperature.
Join us before the heat of the day on Sunday, July 10th at 10:00 a.m. in Lents Town Center (SE Foster Rd at 89th) for light refreshments before we set off via bike parade and transit trip to the Big Float festivities.
For over a year, young people around Clackamas County have been meeting every month to learn about and provide input on the county’s Climate Action Plan via the Youth Advisory Task Force. The county working to ensure that by 2023, “a Climate Action Plan is adopted for our community with specific recommendations to reach the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.” (Learn more). The Task Force has engaged stakeholders from around the county in a variety of ways while prioritizing youth engagement- as today’s young people are the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Over the past year the Task Force has learned about and engaged on issues relating to climate justice, including equity, energy, consumption, housing, land use, transportation, public health, and resilience. When asked to narrow down which actions would have the most immediate positive impact for youth, the top three were tied to transportation and land use. Those actions are: improving public transit options, encouraging destinations near homes, and improving biking and walking transportation options.
Clackamas County now has a Climate Action Plan survey open through the end of June for folks who live in the county to respond to initial ideas on how to achieve carbon neutrality.
With transportation contributing to 40% of Oregon’s emissions and a large portion of Clackamas County’s emissions, this survey is a great opportunity to weigh in on what the future of getting around Clackamas County can look like. Creating safe, accessible, equitable, zero carbon streets is good for both people and the planet.
WeBike is The Street Trust’s program to inspire more trans people of all genders, gender non-conforming people, Two Spirit, and women (both trans and cis) to incorporate a bike into their lives and use biking as a way to meet their transportation needs and personal goals. WeBike dismantles the barriers of cycling through rides, knowledge-sharing events, meet and greets, and mentorship.
Last weekend, WeBike’s May ride ventured into new territory: Beaverton! The 10-mile loop started at the Beaverton Farmers Market and utilized many quiet greenway-type streets, the Westside Trail, several bike-friendly cut-throughs (one gravel!), and creatively utilized a shopping center parking lot, an office park parking lot, and some sidewalk to avoid a couple not-so-bike-friendly roads. The ride passed many points of interested including two entrances to Tualatin Hills Nature Park, the Aloha Mall shopping center, and BG Food Cartel food cart pod.
In June, WeBike will have a meet-up to talk about bike camping! We are always looking for new participants- no experience necessary. Learn about all the ways you can carry camping gear by bike, what you need to bring, where to go, and get all your questions answered! Camp coffee and snacks provided. Read all the details on the Shift/Pedalpalooza calendar listing and RSVP here.
The WeBike-Portland private Facebook group is a resource, hub, and a way to connect with others riding in the area. If you have any questions about biking or great biking tips you want to share, post them there!
Ways allies can support WeBike: promote events on socials, print a poster, and donate to The Street Trust.
Road pricing systems are direct charges levied for the use of roads. These most commonly take the form of highway tolls, but can also be distance or time-based fees, congestion charges, or charges based on specific vehicle size or fuel types.
Conversations about the implementation of road pricing systems are emerging across all levels of government throughout the Portland Metro region. From the demand-based parking model proposed by PBOT’s POEM Task Forceto the Interstate Bridge Replacement Project and ODOT’s I-205 tolling project, our region is exploring various methods and strategies to implement charges for road use – pushing back on the normalized practice of subsidizing road use for drive-alone trips.
The Street Trust supports road user charges that reflect the true cost of driving and greenhouse gas emissions, while improving travel for everyone. We’re excited about a future where the cost of driving more accurately reflects its negative impact on everything from the climate to public safety and individual health. However, we know that the primary objective of many road pricing models (even in the Portland metro) is to generate revenue to cover the cost of new highway construction rather than to change behavior to improve traffic flow and help us reach our climate goals.
This is unacceptable and we’re working to change it.
We will continue to show up at decision-making tables across the region fighting to ensure that before any of these policies are put into place there’s a guarantee that they will improve equitable outcomes throughout our transportation system.
If the future of road pricing is something that interests you we invite you to join us as we move toward a better future, together!
The Street Trust is teaming up with Nossa Familia, Bivo, and Legwork Local Delivery to amplify Earth Day on Friday, April 22nd. Our partnership with these businesses is part of a larger campaign hosted by Earth Day Oregon that amplifies ways to take action in Oregon on Earth Day. Each of our business partners are doing their part to amplify Earth Day while supporting the work The Street Trust is doing to create a transportation future that is equitable and sustainable.
Thank you to our business partners, to Human Access Project, and to Earth Day Oregon for assisting us in celebrating Earth Day.
Want to get in on the action? Join The Street Trust on a 3.65-mile run celebrating active transportation, community health, and our Earth on Sunday, April 24th.