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.

In 2021, the organization hired an Executive Director; forwarded state legislation to get more funding for people walking, biking, and rolling; recruited 18 new esteemed and diverse board members across both the 501c3 and 501c4 boards; published our 2021-23 Strategic Action Plan; and kicked off the #OurStreets campaign – an intensive effort to build tools and community power for better transportation outcomes across the Portland metro region

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.

TST managers André Lightsey-Walker and Anouksha Gardner at the 2021 Alice Awards.

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 rollers continues 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.”

Walking and rolling to school isn’t possible without a safe way to get there, which is why TST is thrilled with Safe Routes To School Coordinator Nicole Perry’s hard won successes in 2021, including new safe routes for students attending Linwood Elementary and Sojourner Schools in Milwaukie. 

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 SummitBike Commute Clinics, and The Street Trust member events!”

 

Community Engagement Manager Madi Carlson hosting the parklet TST hosted in Oregon City for Parking Day.

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. 

White Lotus and Dragon Dancers performing at TST’s 2021 Alice Awards

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.

 

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Picture of I5 Bridge

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. 

Instead of dancing to ODOT’s beat, legislators and the Oregon Transportation Commission need to seize this opportunity and direct ODOT to start banking on the ROI of active transportation and transit investments if they hold any hope of unraveling gridlock and getting our state’s green leadership back on track. (And no, electric vehicles will not save us.) 

We have less than a decade remaining to change course and preserve this planet for future generations. At COP26 in Glasgow this month,mayors from across the globe announced that investments in public transit must double to meet our climate goals. Those investments should not perpetuate the status quo.

Oregon’s transportation system contributes 40% of Oregon’s GHG pollution,and serves as the setting for the deaths of hundreds of people every year, while injuring exponentially more. It fails to serve people who don’t drive or own cars – approximately 30% of Oregonians don’t drive, according to a recent presentation to the Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee. The maintenance of the status quo will only increase the ongoing impacts of systemic racism that have resulted in people from Black, Brown and Indigenous communities being more reliant on walking, biking, and public transit to get where they are going and more vulnerable to danger. The disproportionate burden borne by already trauma-impacted and vulnerable members of our community is unacceptable. We cannot continue to invest in a system that leaves so much of our population underserved and behind.

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.

Four people in brighlty colored jackets stand with bicycles in fornt of law office.

 

Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost has been working with The Street Trust to improve our region’s transportation network for three full decades. Ray Thomas gave the first bicycle and pedestrian legal clinicin 1992, and since then, TCNF’s bicycle and pedestrian lawyers have continued performing hundreds of clinics across the state. Today, attorneys Cynthia Newton and Chris Thomas present most clinics for the firm. Any interested organizations are invited to reach out to TST or TCNF to schedule a clinic free of charge for your team, community, or organization.      

 

 

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

Multimodal Transit Street

 

The Street Trust’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan calls 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 the streetcar or bus, hop on a scooter or one of Biketown’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.

 

If you live in the Portland metro area and want to improve multimodal transportation in your neighborhood, become a member of The Street Trust or volunteer with us when we hit the streets to improve the road network.

 

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

 

 

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. 

 

To volunteer, visit our website

 

Have questions? Email TST Events Coordinator Madi Carlson at [email protected]

 

The Street Trust staff

From the desk of Sarah Iannarone:

To the #Community,

When I joined The Street Trust this January, our member-elected board gave me a very specific task: lead a strategic planning process to clarify how we serve the community and how we can have the greatest influence transforming transportation across the Greater Portland Region. Today, I’m proud to show you what #TST has accomplished these last few months.

First up: the plan. Together, we accomplished more than a strategic plan – ours is a measurable action plan on a tight timeline to achieve four top priorities: intensifying our advocacy, building partnerships, growing our membership, and increasing our impact. It is full of concrete steps that #TST is committed to taking this year and next (many we’ve already started) that will set us up for success. The plan says that by the end of 2022, The Street Trust will train candidates, build new and more inclusive coalitions, involve more -and more diverse- members in our work, and serve as a resource for the kind of data and information that drives transformation. All while maintaining the programs and partnerships you already know us for. But that’s not all it says – take a look for yourself!

With a renewed vision, mission and values, we’re taking on advocacy for the streets of our future. To make our plan happen, we needed to create some new positions, and I’m so thrilled we got such an incredible pool of applicants from across the country and across Greater Portland. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming André, Anouksha, Henry, and Zeyaad to the team.

These four join an incredible staff already in place – our Education Director Lindsay, Events & Engagement Assistant Madi, and Clackamas County Safe Routes to School Coordinator Nicole are a force for the streets, plus they’re three incredible women I’d trust to lead me on a walk, bike, or transit ride anywhere in our region.

If you’re reading this, you’re seeing it on our brand new website. We’ve restructured to make it easier to find the information you’re looking for, and aligned the branding with the new Strategic Action Plan. You can learn a bit about the new and existing staff on this site as well. Look around, explore, and let us know if anything isn’t working by sending us an email to [email protected]

Along with the new website, we have new database, marketing, and payment systems, among others. This means we will be reaching out to many of you to confirm you want to stay on our email list, or to move your monthly donation to a platform that saves time and money and works better for our members and our future.

Finally, I want to make an announcement I’ve been keeping under my bike helmet for a little while: The Street Trust Board has invited me to stay on with the organization as the Executive Director and lead our organization in executing this plan. No more “Interim” uncertainty – I plan on leading with grit and determination, and using the platform this position provides to advance the vision laid out in the plan. I’ll steer the ship based on what our team hears from the members, partners, funders, decision-makers, and street users who make up our community.

It’s an exciting time to be a part of #TST, and we can’t do it without your support. Right now would be an excellent opportunity to show your support for our new direction: please ensure your membership is up to date and renew your commitment to the streets of the future with a generous sustaining gift.

Thank you for believing in the future with us!

 

See you in the streets,

Sarah's signature, with a large Cursive "S" connected to the "arah"

Sarah Iannarone

Executive Director, The Street Trust