The 2015 Alice Award Winners are…


We are proud to announce the winners of the 2015 Bicycle Transportation Alliance Alice Awards.

The Alice Awards help celebrate the current heroes that are building momentum for the next twenty-five years. Alice Award winners are truly the people and organizations behind the movement. Anyone can be nominated for an Alice Award, by anyone. This means that the field of nominees is very broad, from the small-time local activist or kindly neighbor to the elected official. This year’s collection of winners represents a wide range of activism: from regional government stepping up to lay a strong foundation for future transportation to an East Portland community-based organization setting up a bike shop to help transform a neighborhood and provide new opportunities for youth. They also include a Washington County hero who has poured her heart and soul into safe bicycling and an emerging collaborative of heroes who have rolled up their sleeves and showed everyone how car-centric streets can be transformed into vibrant places for people.

Metro: Oregon Regional Government

Councilor Kathryn Harrington Photo courtesy of Metro

Councilor Kathryn Harrington
Photo courtesy of Metro

Formed by a 1978 statewide ballot initiative, Metro works with communities, businesses, and residents in the Portland metropolitan area to chart a wise course for the future while protecting the things we love about this place. Metro is governed by the seven member Metro Council, the only elected metropolitan planning organization in the country.

Increasing bicycling and walking access to destinations and achieving a healthy and equitable transportation system has long been part of Metro plans, policies, programs and projects. From developing the BikeThere! map, to funding millions of dollars of pedestrian and bicycle projects with regional flexible funds, to funding safe routes to school projects with Regional Transportation Options grants, to convening regional discussions on active transportation, Metro and the Metro Council are moving active transportation forward.

The past year has seen Metro pass two very impressive policies that will have long range impacts for our region: the Regional Active Transportation Plan and the Climate Smart Strategy. The Regional Active Transportation Plan will make it easier to walk and ride a bike and access transit to work, school, parks and other destinations by updating and strengthening pedestrian and bicycle policies, performance measures and planned networks in the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan. The ATP identifies an active transportation network that when completed will provide safe and comfortable pedestrian and bicycle access to destinations around the region including schools and jobs.

The Climate Smart Strategy is a set of policies, strategies and near-term actions to guide how the region moves forward to integrate reducing greenhouse gas emissions with ongoing efforts to create the future we want for our region. The Climate Smart Strategy calls for $2 billion investment in active transportation – an annual investment of $83 million ($70 million more than the region is currently being invested). Metro has consistently taken the necessary steps to ensure that our region grows responsibly and has set new standards for reducing the negative impact that our transportation choices make on the environment.

The Rosewood Initiative

Photo courtesy of Rosewood Initiative.

Photo courtesy of Rosewood Initiative.

Got a flat tire or a broken chain while riding in East Portland? Help is on the way!

The Rosewood Initiative, a community-based nonprofit on Stark Street in East Portland, has decided to do something about the dearth of bike repair services east of 107th Avenue by opening up Rosewood Bikes, their own weekly bike service this past March. After several years of promoting and hosting bike events at their community center, they plan to grow Rosewood Bikes into a full-service neighborhood bike shop and community resource center.

Running a bike shop takes a lot of resources, tools, parts, and expertise. The new bike service is a huge addition to the Rosewood community, and East Portland.

The Rosewood Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to making the Rosewood area a desirable place to live, work and play. They are building a safe, healthy, respectful, vibrant and inclusive community that brings prosperity to everyone in Rosewood. They are empowering community members to drive meaningful and positive change in partnership with agencies across Portland, Gresham and Multnomah County jurisdictions. Residents and businesses connect with one another to align resources and achieve shared goals.


Better Block PDX

Better Blocks Park(ing) Day.  Photo courtesy of Better Blocks.

Better Block Park(ing) Day.
Photo courtesy of Better Block.

Better Block PDX seeks to create inviting and interactive places that challenge the notion that streets are only for cars. They find locations where there is excess pavement, local business support, and great potential to create thriving public spaces. Here’s where the fun starts. They imagine what the street could look like and what would be needed to get it there. They then reorganize the street in an effort to show people what it could permanently look like.

They dare to imagine streets with ping pong tables, games, chalk, seating, and shade to create an inviting space. Behind the scenes of their projects are lots of hours of legwork including setting up planters, recruiting volunteers, conducting neighborhood outreach, finalizing traffic control plans, securing necessary permits, and making sure the event runs smoothly.

The Old Town project in October of 2014 really put them on the map when they re-imagined 3rd Street as it travelled through Old Town including crossing Burnside. We saw Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Director Leah Treat playing ping pong in the street. PBOT installed six new crosswalks costing $10,000 each, and the Old Town Hospitality Association began thinking of how their neighborhood could be redesigned. All of this as a result of a three-day demonstration project. This is the magic of Better Block PDX. Their creative endeavors show people what is possible in a manner that plans and charts could never do.

The measure of success is not the number of cars that flowed through the intersection, but instead, how many smiles could be counted on the people sitting on the shaded hay bales eating ice cream and Voodoo donuts. Success was about the children painting, tourists enjoying themselves, teens performing a spontaneous concert, and adults playing ping pong.

The work Better Block PDX does paves the way for innovation. It shows people what is possible and instills a thirst for more. The project paved the way for immediate and long-term traffic safety improvements. It allowed the neighborhood to reach a consensus of the type of future they wanted to see and it established a basis for beginning that trajectory. Further, it showed city traffic engineers two things: first, that the amount of delay for motor vehicle traffic that they expected was inaccurate; and second, the delay motor vehicles experienced was outweighed by social contribution that the redesigned street provided.

Better Block PDX will help drive our future because of their bold, visible projects that challenge the notion that streets are only for cars. They will show how a reallocation of roadway space can benefit the city in a number of unforeseen ways. Finally, Better Block PDX highlights the importance of collaboration. Building a world-class city with outstanding bicycle infrastructure will require partnerships with stakeholders from government, non-profits, media, businesses, and neighbors. It will require sustained advocacy to make permanent what our temporary projects show are possible.

Susan Otcenas

Susan Otcenas

Susan Otcenas

Susan Otcenas has invested an enormous amount of time helping to build a healthy and safe environment for people biking in Washington County. She worked hard as a BTA board member to expand our work into Washington County. She brought strong business and financial management experience to the organization – both as a former banker and the co-owner of, an online retailer of women’s athletic apparel.

Susan believes bicycles break down barriers – physical, cultural, and socioeconomic – between people, and provide a path to independence for people in all walks of life. She especially encourages more women to ride for health, recreation, and transportation.

Susan’s impact has grown a great legacy: The BTA’s work in Washington County has blossomed and will continue to grow. We now have a full time Advocate, Lisa Frank, working to make communities throughout Washington County better for people bicycling. Susan’s tireless leadership in Washington County on everything from traffic signal tweaks and trail maintenance to the multi-year update of Washington County’s Transportation System Plan will leave lasting marks on our streets, bikeways, and neighborhoods.

Susan served eight years on on the BTA Board and stepped down recently to concentrate more on volunteerism locally and now serves on the board for Randonneurs USA.


Join us on Thursday, May 28th at the Portland Art Museum for our 25th Anniversary Celebration. We will be celebrating all of our heroes- past, present, and future, including the 2015 Alice Award Winners and you.

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