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!
Nothing Beats a Heat Island Like a Cool River Swim
This weekend, in partnership with BIKETOWN and TriMet, The Street Trust led its friends and members on a guided bike and transit ride from the Lents town center to The Big Float in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Lents was the deadliest heat island during last summer’s heat dome disaster and the dangerous conditions persisted during this year’s record-breaking heat wave. The Street Trust understands that our climate crisis affects frontline and low-income communites disproportionately. We also know that an estimated 30% of Oregonians don’t drive. That’s why, we chose to support Lents’ residents with affordable, safe options to access the cool waters of the Willamette River without having to drive.
While most participants rode their own bikes or used Biketown to take advantage of the beautiful sunny day, The Street Trust also distributed transit passes to anyone who didn’t feel comfortable cycling. Despite being known as a multimodal leader, many Portlanders feel uncomfortable cycling and/or accessing public transportation. Our focus on providing multiple mobility options to The Big Float is indicative of our efforts to be more inclusive while also promoting a critical mobility service.
This multimodal event was the first of its kind for The Street Trust, and based on initial feedback we hope to continue offering transit tickets, BIKETOWN access, and mobility guides for future events.
“Heat Island to River Relief” bike ride participants met their guides at 10AM at the Lents Town Center, where the local farmer’s market takes place. Several passersby approached The Street Trust to ask us what we were up to (probably something to do the giant pile of lifejackets strapped to a bike trailer). These encounters demonstrated to us that there is interest in BIKETOWN and bike events in the Lents neighborhood, which is also home to many of our priority communities.
Some participants took TriMet’s #14 bus, which has frequent service and stops directly in front of Lents Town Center. The bus dropped us off only a few blocks away from the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, making the journey very convenient while also offering a refuge from the heat. Taking in that stellar view of the Willamette as the bus crossed the Hawthorne bridge was also a reminder of how lucky this city is to have such an incredible public resource… and how important it is to ensure that everyone feels like they can access it. The journey also allowed us to connect with each other and talk about the impression that folks had about Portland’s transit system.
Overall, the Heat Island to River Relief was yet another successful community-oriented summer event from The Street Trust. Not only did it serve the important mission of reminding participants of the seriousness of the heat island effect and the different ways you can access one of the most important cooling amenities in the city; it also brought together the TST community for a little fun in the sun. And it doesn’t get any better than that.
Thanks for being so welcoming to The Street Trust, Lents neighbors — we look forward to partnering and enjoying future events with you! Check out more pictures in BikePortland.
Last month, The Street Trust held its June Member Meeting at BG’s Food Cartel food cart pod in Beaverton.
The Street Trust members, board members, staff, Washington County elected officials, and Washington County community leaders came together to discuss our work and theirs, and find ways we can collaborate and support one another.
To emphasize our dedication to the entire region, The Street Trust has held our first
two in-person member meetings in Milwaukie (May) and Beaverton (June). We’re actively recruiting to increase our membership in these communities, which have a big role to play in the future of our region. Through this outreach, we have found that these diverse communities also have an intense need for active transportation and transit organizing- and we are eager to support them. We’re particularly interested in organizing along corridors of concern, such as with our recent Farmington Road Study Tour.
We kicked off our June member meeting with a group bike ride that started at the Beaverton Transit Center. During this ride we experienced what Beaverton has to offer in terms of bike trails, multi-use paths, quiet greenways, bike lanes, sharrows, highway sidewalks, and highway-side railroad gravel. Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty generously shared details about the many City transportation projects and other community issues as we biked through Beaverton for a wonderfully in-depth look at the city.
We’re so grateful for everyone who could make it out! If you’re not a member yet, join us, July’s member meeting details will be announced soon–like our previous two meetings, it will be easy to access by walking, rolling, and transit. Save the date of Monday, July 18th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González, Julian Dunn, The Street Trust Community Engagement Manager Madi Carlson, Nic Cota, Shawne Martinez, Councilor-Elect John Dugger, Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty, State Representative Dacia Grayber, Eric Wilhelm, State Representative WLnsvey Campos, Councilor-Elect Kevin Teater, The Street Trust Board Member Dave Roth, The Street Trust Strategic Partnerships Manager Anouksha Gardner.
We at The Street Trust love activating public spaces, like we did for last year’s Alice Awards. While there are a lot of parks and squares in Portland, the city’s largest public space is its streets, and there’s no more rewarding way to experience them than through Sunday Parkways.
After a two-year hiatus, Sunday Parkways returned with a splash on June 26th for Northeast Cully Sunday Parkways. The Street Trust staffed an intersection along the course to cheer on walkers and rollers, distribute snacks, bike lights, and temporary tattoos- all while preventing unnecessary car traffic in the event.
We stationed ourselves near our friends at Adaptive Biketown and Biketown, so we could easily send people down the block for test rides. (Side note: we’re hosting a Harry Styles themed Pedalpalooza bike ride with Adaptive Biketown on July 28th–RSVP here!)
With temperatures in the 90’s we weren’t sure what to expect, but our region’s love for open street events was reflected by the tons of people who came out. Everyone stayed hydrated thanks to water refill stations along the entire course (some volunteers even carried water dispensers on bike trailers!). Our booth canopy provided ample shade that walkers and rollers could use to rest from the heat for a spell, while joining us for snacks and refreshments too.
Being part of an open streets event is tremendously fun. We engaged with hundreds of event participants thanks to the help of our wonderful volunteers, and our staff members on duty engaged residents who needed help safely driving around the event. These events give us a glimpse of what a car free city could feel like, but more importantly, they show us that people enjoy walking and rolling around town.
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.
Celebrating our community and partnerships are at the core of The Street Trust’s work, and this week we are proud to celebrate our longstanding relationship with Filmed by Bike, Portland’s own bike-themed festival that celebrated its 20th anniversary over the weekend with help from The Street Trust.
This year saw the return of the annual The Street Trust Opening Night Ride and we tried something new and led the ride through the East Side instead of downtown. We made the event extra cinematic by kicking off at Clinton Street Theater and swinging by Bollywood Theater and Movie Madness on our way to the Hollywood Theatre.
The ride had a star-studded cast from places near and far, including visitors from Seattle, Olympia, Sacramento, and even Rochester, MN! Sadly, heavy rain meant there were fewer costumes than we’d normally see on this bike ride, but we were thrilled to see so many folks join us in their rain gear!
Did you know we had two separate social media contests to give away free tickets to Filmed by Bike? Winners were selected via Instagram and Twitter so be sure to follow us for future giveaways! We’d also love to connect with you on Facebook, LinkedIn, and our new TikTok!
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On May 31st, in partnership with Washington County and 1000 Friends of Oregon, The Street Trust hosted a half-day study tour of Farmington Road and nearby streets in Washington County. We decided to explore Farmington Road in person after analyzing Metro’s 2020 focus corridors and a conversation with Washington County Commissioner Nafisa Fai, both of which pointed to Farmington as one of the most critical streets in need of improvement in the region.
We invited diverse participants, including staff from community-based organizations, Commisioner Fai’s office, an Oregon House Representative (and Senate candidate), as well as agency staff from the Oregon Department of Transportation and Washington County’s Planning Division.
The Street Trust believes that by directing the attention of our members and energizing them with ideas for how Farmington Rd. could be improved, this event could lead to infrastructural transformation on the ground.
Why is taking our mission to the streets important?
In the age of COVID-19, many of us have grown accustomed to the luxury of remote work. We’ve seen our morning commute to offices and other locations transform into the simple wiggle of a mouse and adjustments of our cameras. As a result, many of us have become disconnected from the experiences that many members of our communities still live daily – including the requirement to show up to all the places they need to be regardless of whether or not they have access to their own car. It is also often the case that communities that rely on transit, walking, and rolling for mobility have limited capacity to shape in policy discussions without support from organizations like The Street Trust.
We conducted our study tour on foot and by TriMet MAX and bus so all of us could experience together the challenges – and serious danger – that people who don’t drive across our region face when trying to get from place to place throughout their day.
Key Transportation Knowledge: The Urban Road Maintenance District
Washington County has a funding mechanism called the Urban Road Maintenance District (URMD) with which you may not be familiar. The URMD provides preventive road maintenance services for public roads within its boundaries, except roads that are designated as arterials or collectors on the Washington County Transportation Plan. About 430 miles of neighborhood streets have designated URMD maintenance funds.
The Urban Road Maintenance District (URMD) was created by the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) and approved by voters in urban unincorporated Washington County in 1987. It is a county service district, formed under ORS Chapter 451. URMD Ordinance No. 4.
Voters in the urban unincorporated area approved an ad valorem property tax levy of $0.365 in 1994, which became a permanent rate of $0.2456 upon approval of Ballot Measure 50 in 1997. Property owners in the URMD pay $0.2456 per $1,000 assessed value. The owner of a home with an assessed value of $200,000 pays less than $50 per year for URMD.
While originally created for road maintenance, in 2011 URMD funds have since been allocated to improve pedestrian and bicycling safety, some of which we were able to observe during our tour.
ODOT Fails Street Users… Again.
There was a noticeable difference between ODOT-managed and Washington County-managed facilities. As we’ve seen across the region the lower emphasis on safety for pedestrians and cyclists leaves many wanting more from ODOT.
In the larger context, we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight for you the immense difference in the safety and accessibility of the right-of-way for people walking, rolling, biking, and accessing transit along Farmington Road. There are major decisions about regional transportation funding currently underway, including the choice to spend billions of dollars expanding highways around our region. These choices come at a great cost to current and future Oregonians – not only in in terms of the debt they’ll be saddled with but in terms of opportunity costs as dangerous roadways like Farmington Road (where people live, work, play, and pray) remain deadly and go unimproved.
Next Steps for Washington County
Washington County’s Major Street Improvement Program (MSTIP) is heading toward a decision point where it will be voted on by county commissioners. Currently there is a request for funding a complete streets project between 173rd and 209th along Farmington. The Street Trust is highly supportive of this project (among others) and highly encourage you to offer feedback once the public comment period for the MSTIP opens up in July.
This was TST’s first policy tour since launching the #OurStreets community mobilization campaign. Our goal is to reach, connect with, and mobilize people from all walks of life and across sectors and spheres of influence for better outcomes. We think it’s a great model and our hope is to do similar tours along other key corridors in our region. But we can’t do it without you!
We’d like to thank our long time partners Nelson\Nygaard for supporting The Street Trust and contributing to an amazing closing event at Lucky Lab NW for the 2022 Oregon Active Transportation Summit.
During the Summit’s closing party The Street Trust’s new staff were finally able to connect in person with Nelson/Nygaard’s team and talk about all the wonderful things our organizations are working on. This includes Nelson/Nygaard’s newTransportation Demand Management guide, which helps local leaders work with their communities to implement TDM measures that advance health and sustainability goals. The Street Trust is proud to support their efforts to reduce collective VMT levels.
We also want to celebrate The Street Trust’s Chair Drusilla van Hengel, a Senior Principal at Nelson/Nygaard and an esteemed and beloved professor at Portland State University. Along with being a transformational leader in her field, Dru has been instrumental in the The Street Trust’s success since she joined the board in October 2021. Through hard work and determination, Dru helped guide our organization through the many trials of the pandemic, ensuring that the Greater Portland metropolitan region would continue to have a powerful voice advocating for a safer, more accessible, more equitable, and more sustainable transportation system. In keeping with The Street Trust’s mission, Dru gets around the region using both TriMet and her Xtracycle — except when she uses carsharing to take her dog somewhere exciting.
When we asked Dru what an ideal transportation system would look like for her, she told us it would be on in which, “No people using our streets are required to trade personal safety or time to make up for gaps in our public space, walking, transit, or bike systems”.
Below are photos of Dru and many of our other wonderful supporters having fun at the 2022 Summit closing party. With help from generous sponsors like Nelson/Nygaard, The Street Trust hosts a wide variety ofevents like this one throughout the year. Our biggest annual events are the Oregon Active Transportation Summit and the Alice Awards, which take place in the Spring and Fall. If you are Interested in becoming a sponsor or a business member, please contact our Strategic Partnerships Manager at [email protected].