For more than thirty years, greater Portland’s civic leaders led byThe Street Trust Board of Directors Vice-Chair, Randy Miller, have been traveling together to other cities and regions seeking tools to improve outcomes here at home.
The past couple of years have been challenging for Oregonians as we came together to face the intersecting crises of the COVID pandemic, the racial justice reckoning of the Black Lives Matter movement, and unprecedented wildfires in our state made worse by the climate crisis. For Nashville, these crises were compounded by multiple natural disasters and a Christmas morning bombing that shook their downtown.
Over the decades, Portland’s leaders have worked to ensure our civic learning trips are more intentional, effective, and inclusive. Now, as our region finds itself in transition -at a crossroads, some would say- it is more important than ever that we invest as a community in increasing our capacity for addressing the various challenges we face, including population growth and housing affordability, congestion and the need for transit investments, and deepening social and economic inequality.
Prior to joining The Street Trust, our Executive Director, Sarah Iannarone, worked full-time hosting inbound and outbound delegations of urban leaders seeking tools for improving conditions in their places. An expert in educating policy makers, she led the design and execution of a transportation focused learning experience in Nashville for over 100 Portland officials and civic leaders. She and Strategic Partnerships Manager, Anouksha Gardner, worked with Walk Bike Nashville and Bike Fun Nashville to expose Portland’s leadership to a range of active transportation, Music City style.
The three-day deep-dive into policies and best practices encouraged our local leaders to explore what’s working and what’s not in another city, and to better understand what tools they should bring home to help Portland grow smarter. It also reminded many participants how fortunate we are for robust transportation tools already in place in Portland – from TriMet’s regional cooperation with Oregon Metro to local mobility solutions such as PBOT’s Biketown for All.
Other topics on the agenda? Regional economic development led by Monqiue Claiborne of Greater Portland, Inc, preserving indie culture led by Music Portland‘s Meara McLaughlin, and a thought-provoking conversation about treating mental illness as a health (not criminal) issue led by Multnomah County DA, Mike Schmidt.
Despite challenges created by the ongoing pandemic, last week The Street Trust’s 11th annual Oregon Active Transportation Summit drew 95 speakers from around the region, state, and country to talk about the needs and challenges in our transportation systems and how we can address them.
From learning about how transportation advocates can improve media coverage of traffic deaths, to exploring the new public plazas in downtown Portland, and discussing how cities can reach zero auto ownership, this year’s summit demonstrated our commitment to promoting all modes to achieve a safe, accessible, equitable, and sustainable transportation system.
Summit 2022 – by the numbers:
The Summit included 30 virtual sessions over the course of 3 fun-packed days
158 passionate transportation thinkers and doers attended to Monday’s 3-hour opening session featuring USDOT Civil Rights Office chief Irene Marion, Metro President Lynn Peterson, Youth Climate Activist Cassie Wilson, Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Washington County Commissioner Nafisa Fai, and N. Clackamas School Board Chair Libra Forde among other community leaders
By Day 3, Summit sessions had accumulated more than 1,000 views from over 300 attendees — ta 50% increase over last year’s attendance
The experience included 10 fun and engaging in-person events across the Portland metro, including a visit to the Afrovillage MAX conversion and a closing happy hour sponsored by Nelson/Nygaard (thank you!)
The Street Trust team was thrilled to bring back some in-person programming and we were humbled by the terrific response we got from attendees and volunteers who helped out. After two completely virtual Summits, it was wonderful to see our friends getting together as a community again.
Missed the in-person events this year? Below are snapshots of just a few of the exciting adventures put together by The Street Trust and our partners. Watch for video recordings of sessions as they’re posted as well as our summary report coming soon.
The Street Trust is proud to announce that Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation has committed a major gift to fund, in part, the #OurStreets regional community mobilization campaign. This award is among a suite of funding requests The Street Trust submitted to foundations this year in an effort to grow community power to fight for and win transportation policy and investments that prioritize safety, accessibility, equity, and climate justice in our region.
Their generous $45,000 contribution will support critical work engaging diverse and underserved communities across the greater Portland metro. It includes building out a data visualization tool, the #OurStreets Scorecard, which is designed to empower communities to advocate for investments such as street lighting, sidewalks, and transit service where they live, work, and play. It will also support other regional advocacy work underway at The Street Trust, including the implementation of equitable congestion pricing, e-bike lending libraries, and ensuring the multi-billion dollar Interstate Bridge Replacement Project has a positive impact on multimodal transportation in the region.
This gift is a significant investment in Portland-area mobility at a time when the region is facing numerous challenges and experiencing a changing-of-the-guard in leadership. An agenda-setting funder of climate action for a quarter-century in the Pacific Northwest, in 2019 the Bullitt Foundation funded The Street Trust to found what is now known as the Getting There Together Coalition (GTT), an effort to lead development with Metro regional government on a multi-billion dollar transportation measure. GTT continues to advocate for transportation justice in our region today.
Bullitt Foundation is giving away most of what’s left of its endowment during the next couple of years, so this is likely to be one of their last investments in helping Portlanders achieve equitable, climate-smart transportation in our region.
“We see this as an important opportunity to elevate multimodal transportation as a priority issue at all levels of government and in all parts of the region,” says Henry Miller, Grants & Impact Manager at The Street Trust. “It will help us empower communities to advocate for themselves and hold their leaders accountable for making real progress in improving transportation options at a time when they’re desperately needed.”
We still have $30,000 more to raise to reach our goal. Please join us in thanking the Bullitt Foundation for their investment in our future, and consider joining them by giving to The Street Trust today.
Trust means different things to different people. Here at The Street Trust, we’re working hard to understand and improve trust within our organization, out in the community, and across our programs and efforts.
Building trust is time consuming and often thankless work that can entail stepping back and supporting another’s leadership. It can entail sacrifice in the short term for greater movement building in the long. Sometimes, building trust means giving without strings attached. Maintaining that trust is more artform than science and measuring it can prove challenging. We feel empowered when trust is present and weakened when it is absent.
Regardless how you understand the word, we’re working hard to be worthy of the ‘trust’ in our name.
Here are a few recent examples of trust-building investments that we’ve made recently that wouldn’t have been possible without you trusting us to do the right things with your financial support:
Developing the #OurStreets Scorecard, a free-to-the public online, data-democratizing tool that will empower communities regionwide to advocate for projects that meet their needs where they live
Fighting for better policy. Forging strategic partnerships. Founding and staffing coalitions. Educating people from the youngest students to gubernatorial candidates…. the list goes on. At the end of the day, trust is our bottom line and none of it would be possible without you.
During the past year, The Street Trust has renewed its focus on regional transportation advocacy but we still show up at the municipal level to shape better outcomes.
Recently, we showed up for street users in the City of Portland in four key efforts:
SupportedPBOT’s proposed Parking Climate and Equitable Mobility Transaction Fee alongside our colleagues at Verde, Parking Reform Network, Oregon Environmental Council, and Getting There Together coalition. The resolution to apply a parking surcharge to fund services like the transportation wallet and Biketown passed City Council unanimously this week.
Supported PBOT’s Safety Camera bill (HB 4105-1) in the Oregon Legislature to allow civilian review of automated traffic enforcement citations. (Did you know that in Portland, 100% of automated traffic enforcement violation review occurs on police over-time!?!) This legislation has passed out of the House and Senate committees. Now it’s on to a floor vote and, if that is successful, back to the House Rules Committee one more time before the session ends.
Opposed PBOT’s proposed installation of unprotected cycling infrastructure on NE Killingsworth along with with BikeLoud PDX, Andando en Bicicletas y Caminando, and Community Cycling Center. You can read about our close call with an out of control automobile on NE Killingsworth last weekend along with recommendations for reducing traffic fatalities in this Oregon Way piece: We must act now to stop traffic Fatalities in Oregon.
Opposed Mayor Wheeler’s sweeps of houseless people camping along dangerous roadways. Nowhere in any transportation study, advocacy campaign, nor community forum seeking to address our roadway safety problems has it been suggested that unhoused people and encampments should be swept or outright banned as a partial solution to this crisis. We organized with over two-dozen organizations, including Oregon Walks, Verde, Street Roots, Central City Concern, and Transition Projects, Inc. to push back on this non-solution to our traffic fatalities crisis and will continue to promote proven solutions to traffic safety. Read the Street Roots update here: Mayor’s order forbidding camping in high-traffic areas leaves unhoused Portlanders with few places to go
This is an important level of advocacy work that The Street Trust attempts to replicate locally in cities across the region. But it is labor intensive and difficult to fund. Your support makes the difference between The Street Trust having the capacity to lead on the these issues or sitting by in silence.
The Street Trust had an unprecedented year in 2021. Even as the pandemic continued to disrupt our society, our organization dug into an intensive rebuild with an eye to the future and took action to ensure we’re making an impact across the Portland metro region and beyond. Despite unique challenges, TST pushed the region closer to a complete, safe, low-carbon, multimodal transportation system that contributes to equity in access, opportunity, health, and prosperity for all.
But don’t take our word for it! We went straight to our team on the ground for their wins from 2021 and their aspirations for 2022 …
2021 was a breakaway year for our advocacy work. Over the past year, we revived and rebuilt The Street Trust Action Fund, our 501c4 political arm. The Action Fund board members represent diverse experiences and perspectives, who aspire to work together for greater credibility and influence in the politics of the greater Portland region. Working in complement to the efforts of our 501c3 arm, they are going to focus on the politics of elevating multimodal transportation as a priority issue at all levels of government and in all parts of the region. Building in greater power will help hold leadership accountable for making real progress in improving transportation options for people in their communities.
Policy Transformation Manager André Lightsey-Walker worked intensively in 2021, writing letters to agencies and officials calling for more equitable, climate-smart mobility options, and serving on committees at every level of government to shape better outcomes. He is most excited with how the organization built up our “capacity and presence at a diverse variety of tables,” adding, “We’ve been impressing folks everywhere we go and building healthy relationships.” André is optimistic that 2022 will bring more opportunities, “to come together in person for walks, rolls, and gathering in Our Streets!”
Partnerships are critical to our work, and this year our Strategic Partnerships Manager Anouksha Gardner made connections that emphasize our commitment to building alliances across many sectors and throughout the entire Portland metro region.
She worked hard in 2021 refreshing existing relationships and building new ones, including signing reciprocal memberships with members of the freight, technology, and business sectors, including Forth Mobility, B-line, and Business for a Better Portland. By adding Killer Queen Cyclery and Icicle Tricycles as new business members, Anouksha kept TST true to our biking roots.
Anouksha also connected with large institutions whose commuters and political influence can work with us to shape the future of Portland, such as Kaiser Community Health and Portland State University. When it comes to community-based organizations, Anouksha kicked off collaborations with Historic Parkrose, Unite Oregon, and the Rosewood Initiative as part of the #OurStreets campaign.
Supporting the next generation of walkers and rollerscontinues to be central to our programming.Education Director Lindsay Huber is proud that, despite school closures and distancing, TST helped schools and students host multiple successful Walk+Roll events in 2021. “We were also very proud to add 123 Oregon schools to the list of schools across the United States celebrating Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day with support from Ruby Bridges herself! This event encouraged students to learn about racial justice and apply it to active transportation.”
In 2022, TST will work hard expanding our offering of Walk+Roll programs, including a Winter Walk+Roll event to encourage students to get to school safely in cold, rainy, or snowy weather with active transportation; and an Earth Month event in April to help students think about the impact of how they travel on the environment.
Despite the pandemic, The Street Trust also continued our critical work in the streets.Community Engagement Manager Madi Carlson, “loved that the 2021 Move More Challenge expanded beyond biking and included walking, scooting, transit, and more in a bigger effort to reduce car usage.”
In addition to the Move More Challenge, Madi hosted inclusive WeBike rides and supported or led other bike rides throughout the year. This included two community rides hosted by Teatro Milagro in SE Portland: Día de la Madre in May and Día de los Muertos in October. She also worked with the City of Portland over the Summer to host an event at Gateway Discovery Park and an events action table in Old Town for the ‘Here for Portland’ weekend. To help fill the void so many of us felt with no formal Sunday Parkways, Madi led our efforts to activate the street outside Teatro Milagro every Sunday in August to create “mini Sunday Parkways.” In 2022, Madi is hoping to return to “more in-person programming for the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, Bike Commute Clinics, and The Street Trust member events!”
TST also deployed grants to support activations that transformed streets across the region into people-oriented spaces. In September, Grants & Impact Manager Henry Latourette Miller obtained a grant from SPIN and worked with the local business community to set up a parklet in a parking space in Oregon City as a part of International Parking Day. He was thrilled to organize the Oregon City event, which, “proves our commitment to serving the entire Portland metro, while featuring a partnership with the local business association, demonstrating our ambition to create innovative alliances across many sectors.”
In a perfect harmony of furthering our mission while building up our community, our biggest street activation of the year was our annual Alice Awards, which we transformed into a lively, intercultural block party at the Friends of the Green Loop’s Ankeny West space. Along with allowing our supporters and allies to gather in celebration of transportation leaders for the first time in over a year, the block party was also an opportunity to take over a full lane of West Burnside Street, one of Portland’s most notorious arterials.
Looking to the future, In 2022, we’re going fight for you from the literal intersections of a public health crisis in which unsafe and incomplete public streets threaten our lives and livelihoods. We’re going to refuse to settle for an autocentric transportation system that worsens disparities and sacrifices our future. We going to stand firm in the belief that we can stop preventable death resulting from inequality, lax safety, and climate change. And we are going to do everything we can to win policy transformation and major investments that save lives, reduce barriers, and expand opportunities to the people and neighborhoods our current system neglects.
In 2022, our work will be defined by a continued commitment to investing in advocacy, education, community, partnerships, and impact. The #OurStreets Community Mobilization Campaign is now underway, with planned collaborations with Rosewood Initiative, Historic Parkrose, and Unite Oregon set to take place this spring. We are supercharged with new faces and new energy ready to take the work of The Street Trust to new heights. 2021 was a year of big changes and bold moves. 2022 is the year those seeds we planted will bear fruit.
But we can’t do any of this without you. Together, we can have greater impact advocating for public investments that make our region more livable, equitable, and healthy. As a new year begins, please make sure your membership is up to date, gift a membership to street users you love, and sign up to volunteer. In 2022, we’re going to reclaim our streets, and our future – but we can’t do it without you.
Oregonians deserve transportation options that are safer, greener, more accessible, and more equitable than in previous generations.
By Sarah Iannarone, Executive Director
Passage of President Biden’s long-awaited $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), earlier this month set the transportation sector atwitter with words like “once-in-a-generation,” “transformative” and “climate game-changer.” When added to money already coming Oregon’s way from the Feds, the IIJA means the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) stands poised to spend about $4.5 billion over the next five years.
As the 2022 election cycle heats up, candidates, electeds, and agency heads are banging the git-er-done drum in unison. They argue we should leverage this deluge of dollars to break the political gridlock and push through a suite of major interconnected highway expansions around the Portland metro region. The drum beating has reached a rapid tempo. One director is pushing for action while the “stars align,” as he said in his update to the bi-state legislative committee overseeing a proposed I-5 bridge project across the Columbia River.
It’s hard not to match the drumbeat, but ODOT is plagued by cost overruns on major projects alongside a half-billion-dollar annual maintenance backlog. The chance to increase revenues through tolling, now expanded thanks to the passage of HB 3055, has distracted ODOT from pursuing good policy and centered its focus on trying to find a way out of a financial pothole.
The fact is ODOT is severely overextended, yet wants Oregonians to trust them as they embark on a speculative freeway widening scheme intended to address congestion and get Portland-area traffic – especially freight – flowing like it’s 1966 when I-5 construction was completed. Even if ODOT’s new Urban Mobility Office – created expressly to coordinate the freeway expansions and concurrent tolling project – could successfully execute its mission, the logic behind its policies is fundamentally flawed.
We cannot build ourselves out of the congestion hole with freeway expansions, so ODOT needs to put down its shovels and stop digging.
On top of the climate and racial justice impacts of interstate freeway widening, the projects simply cost too much and fail to deliver on the congestion relief or free-flowing freight mobility they promise. ODOT’s insistence on these projects is especially worrisome because we know that better policies exist. For example, we need to be dynamically pricing the system to manage demand (for example, by increasing the cost of driving at peak hours). And, we should be investing in walking, bicycling, micromobility, and transit to unclog our roadways and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Every lane mile of highway ODOT builds costs taxpayers millions of dollars while adding drive-alone trips to the roads when we need to be reducing the number of cars on the road and the miles they travel.
The health impacts and disparities of our current system should be argument enough for ODOT to change course from status quo investments. Oregonians deserve transportation options that are safer, greener, more accessible, and more equitable than in previous generations. Unfortunately, for every good dollar in the infrastructure package dedicated to climate resilience, active transportation, and transit, there are two more that incentivize driving alone and perpetuating an unjust and outdated system. This is no time to be taking one step forward and two steps back with our mobility investments.
The windfall to Oregon from this infrastructure package (along with Build Back Better Act, should it pass) is a rare opportunity to make equitable, climate-smart investments. These are the investments that the Oregon Legislature, Transportation Commission (OTC), and local DOTS previously told transportation advocates were not possible because “we just don’t have the money for that.” Now, that excuse doesn’t have a wheel to drive on.
We can upend the status quo by taking a few, critical steps (in no particular order): first, completing the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan; second, exponentially increasing transit service and coverage across and between our urban areas; third, transferring our orphaned state highways to local communities; fourth, engage and learn from representative and inclusive organizations, such as those leading the Clean and Just Transportation Network; and, fifth, ensuring that we will have frequent high-capacity transit, local bus service, and active transportation infrastructure across the Portland-metro region, including along the I-5 corridor and across the Columbia River.
Unfortunately, what we’ve heard from ODOT thus far is too much money planned for major highway projects and far too little committed to reducing and regulating greenhouse gas emissions — projects that would align with Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order on Climate Action. When asked by the media at a briefing last week whether ODOT’s future infrastructure spending would reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), Assistant Director Brouwer could not comment.
When it comes to transportation infrastructure spending in Oregon, the only correct official answer should be, “Yes, it reduces VMT and GHG.”
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to focus on building a future transportation system that works for all Oregonians — one that is equitable and safe for people of all races, genders, zip codes, ages, and abilities. When our descendants look back at us in this moment a century from now, will they thank us for blessing them with mobility that is universally safe and accessible – a human right, even – or did we leave them more of the deadly and polluting system that we unfortunately inherited from our forebears a century ago?
Note: This essay originally appeared in The Oregon Way, Nov 26, 2021 – sign up for their mailing list for the first look at our quarterly contributions to their newsletter.
On top of their unwavering support of pedestrian and bike clinics, TCNF has also been involved in The Street Trust’s legislative advocacy efforts over the years. A recent example is Ray Thomas’s testimony in Salem in favor of legislation clarifying that bicycle lanes exist within intersections, even when painted markings are interrupted. Jim Coon has also recently helped draft proposed legislation updating Oregon’s bicycle bill, and spoke at last year’s Active Transportation Summit on that topic.
When asked why safe streets are so important to them, TCNF said, “As injury lawyers we have an intimate view of the impact traffic collisions can have on the lives of our clients, from the acute stages of treatment to the long-term mental and physical repercussions. Unfortunately, fear of another collision often discourages our clients from riding the way they did before, and we know many other would-be cyclists avoid riding out of concern for their safety. We need safer streets to welcome those who want to get around without a car, but don’t currently feel safe doing so.”
The Street Trust partners with a wide range of organizations from non-profit, labor, business, health, education, faith, and other sectors. These partnerships make our advocacy more powerful, by bridging communities across differences, issue areas, and geographic focus. The Street Trust appreciates and values the relationship the organization has with Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost, working together for safe streets for us all.
The Street Trust is always looking to partner with organizations and businesses. Become a business member/partner here.
The Street Trust’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plancalls for “a complete, safe, low-carbon, multimodal transportation system that contributes to equity in access, opportunity, health, and prosperity for people and communities across the Portland Metro Region and beyond.” It all sounds great, but what do we mean by multimodal?
For many people the concept and characteristics of a multimodal transportation system is new and sometimes unclear, which is why I, your new Street Trust Policy Transformation Manager, am here to offer some insight as to what we mean when The Strust Trust demands for a “multimodal” system and why we think it’s important.
A multimodal transportation system is one that offers more than one way to move around. For example, in the Portland Metro region there’s already a diverse suite of modes people use to get around. People can drive, walk, ride thestreetcaror bus, hop on a scooter or one ofBiketown’s shared electric bikes. However, not everybody has equitable access to all these different modes, and the ease of use and efficiency of each mode is affected by a history of disproportionate investment in infrastructure centered on private automobiles.
Having multiple modes at hand is only one small piece of the multimodal pie. Another critical (and historically underfunded) piece, is infrastructure that allows for convenient, safe and accessible use of other modes. The cost and impact of these investments vary tremendously from mode to mode, but in a complete multimodal system, a single investment or piece of infrastructure can have a positive impact on many modes. For example, look at mobility lanes, which benefit cyclists, skaters, scooterers, and people with limited mobility.
Street users deserve a robust and connected suite of transportation options that allow them to safely travel anywhere they need to go. After more than a century of dominating our streets we think it’s time for cars to make way for the future and share the road.
The Street Trust won a $1,000 Park(ing) Day grant to install a temporary parklet on Oregon City’s Main Street on September 17th. To win the grant provided by SPIN Scooters and the Better Block Foundation, TST partnered with the Downtown Oregon City Association and Black Ink Coffee, a local cafe and bookstore that has become a popular pit stop for recreational cyclists.
A temporary parklet might not seem like much, but this project reflects the ambition of our 2021-23 Strategic Plan, which calls for working with and learning from diverse street users across the region. Over the next two years we will continue to build new partnerships beyond central Portland because we believe everyone wants to see an end to an inefficient, expensive, and deadly street system.
By bringing a parklet to a community often choked with car traffic despite its walk and rollable street grid, we are shifting the conversation around what it means to have a healthy Main Street in small town Oregon. By partnering with a business and a business association, we are creating new alliances with folks who can tell their community that a safe, healthy street isn’t just better for people: it’s good for business.
This competitive grant draws an international pool of applicants and we want to thank the folks at SPIN and the Better Block Foundation for entrusting us to carry out this important mission. We also want to celebrate fellow Oregon-based non-profit Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST) for winning the same grant and their plans to bring a parklet to Eugene in September.
Visit TST’s Oregon City Parklet on September 17th at 503 Main St., Oregon City. There will be games, coffee, shade, and bike parking.