Standing United Against Violence and Hate in Our Streets
A visiting Asian family was attacked while cycling along the Eastbank Esplanade in Portland earlier this week. We understand that this attack was racially motivated and led to physical and verbal abuse of both the father and child.
Under Oregon law, a bias crime — or hate crime — is defined as a crime in which a person “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to another person because of the person’s perception of the other person’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.”
While the event is tragic, we were happy to hear that the family was not seriously injured and that upon seeing the confrontation multiple community members stepped up to deter the attacker which led to his arrest shortly after the attack.
Creating safe streets for all is central to the work of our organization. Still, this event reminds us that the barriers to safe transportation are more than the built environment and speeding cars. It reminds us that bias, discrimination, and systemic oppression are all alive and well, and that the hateful people in our region are willing to lash out at any moment to reinforce this reality.
The Street Trust stands in solidarity with the AAPI community. We will use our platform and influence to continue educating our members and partners about the explicit and implicit biases rooted in our culture and we will continue to elevate and celebrate the diverse voices of AAPI-identifying communities throughout our region.
We’d also like to thank the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) for their continued work and leadership in the AAPI community. The Street Trust shares APANO’s vision of a just world where Asians and Pacific Islanders and communities have the power, resources, and voice to determine our own futures, and where we can work in solidarity to drive political, social, economic, and cultural change. You can support APANO by donating here.
We recognize that we have a long way to go until we reach a place where communities no longer have to fear being targeted in the streets because of their identity but we’re confident that we can achieve this vision by working together as a caring and supportive community.
Racially motivated hate crimes are a challenging topic so we’ve included some resources for those of you who are interested in learning more:
Although it’s not recognized federally, the disabled community recognizes July as Disability Pride Month in honor of July 26th being the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
At The Street Trust, we champion safe, accessible, equitable, and low-carbon streets. We also acknowledge that transportation justice and disability justice go hand in hand. Whether something is accessible or not means different things depending on the context, but it should always include access for disabled people because we overlap with all other groups.
As someone with a mobility disability, accessibility to me means having the freedom to move through life with as much ease as someone who is not disabled. This includes anything from accessing housing, school, and work (in-person or online), to navigating our communities. Accessibility also emphasizes how mobility devices are freedom and independence for many disabled people, making it easier for us to move our bodies, as opposed to being ‘confined’ to them as is often how they’re described.
Something feels accessible to me when I don’t have to think much about it or go through extra steps to get my needs met. It removes the added labor of figuring out how to navigate life in a way that works for me. For that reason, it’s a lot easier to notice when things are not accessible such as buildings with one step to get inside or crosswalks without accessible (or any) curb cuts.
Speaking of curb cuts, everyone benefits from accessibility! The ‘curb cut effect’ demonstrates how increasing accessibility for disabled people accessing sidewalks by adding curb cuts also improves conditions for people pushing strollers, bicycles, skates, carts, etc.
As a disabled person living in a rural area without public transit, I am forced to drive. Driving is already expensive, and the cost only increases when you factor in accessible vehicle upgrades and added insurance for those features. When I was reliant on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), transportation accounted for over half of my below-poverty-level income. Increasing access to public transit, bike lanes, and sidewalks state wide would hugely benefit people who can’t drive due to disabilities, and it would also benefit the estimated 1 in 3 Oregonians who can’t or don’t drive as well as those who would choose not to if given feasible alternatives.
– Cassie Wilson, Community Engagement Assistant @ The Street Trust
Celebrate Disability Pride Month with The Street Trust at our Pedalpalooza ride at 4:00pm on July 28th which starts and ends at Adaptive Biketown.
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!