Community Leaders Call on Legislature to Support Biking, Walking, and Transit

In a letter released today, an impressive array of community leaders from across the state are asking the Oregon Legislature to support dedicated funding for biking, walking and transit.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has been working on this campaign for months with a team of tireless partners who deserve the credit for assembling such a long list of supporters, including; Transportation for America, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon Walks, Upstream Public Health, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, and 1000 Friends of Oregon.

The full text of the letter is below. Please take action now and ask legislators to support HB 2310-1.

March 20, 2013

Senator Peter Courtney Senate President

Representative Tina Kotek Speaker of the House

Senator Lee Beyer Chair, Senate Committee on Business and Transportation

Senator Richard Devlin Chair, Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Senator Ted Ferrioli Senate Republican Leader

Representative Mike McLane House Republican Leader

Representative Tobias Read Chair, House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development

Representative Peter Buckley Chair, Joint Committee on Ways and Means

Dear Senators and Representatives,

Oregon has a strong tradition of investing in a complete transportation system. The 1971 “Bike Bill” directed funding to bike and pedestrian facilities on new or rebuilt roadways. Oregon’s commitment to protecting farms and forestlands has fostered towns throughout the state where you can walk to a vibrant downtown. We ask that you match Oregon’s investment in walking, biking and transit to today’s needs.

Our state struggles to keep up with rapid changes in transportation usage. Despite the population increases, Oregonians are driving 6% less than they were 10 years ago. Overall, young Americans are driving 23% less and own 30% fewer cars than 10 years ago. This trend has persisted through periods of both recession and economic growth.

As driving declines and walking biking and transit ridership increase, more and more Oregonians are discovering that our active transportation networks are underdeveloped, and underfunded. Pedestrian deaths increased 30% from 2011 to 2012 even as overall traffic deaths declined. Every major transit agency in the state has gone through fairly severe service cuts and fare hikes in recent years, with more on the way in the coming years. The Business Energy Tax Credit, which once funded transit operations, is all but gone. The merit-based ODOT Flex Fund program, which funded multimodal projects and was oversubscribed $68 million (324%), has ended. In 2013, Oregon’s Transportation Enhancements and Bicycle and Pedestrian Program was oversubscribed by $39.6 million (460%). The federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and Oregon and federal highway trust fund revenues are declining as Oregonians and Americans drive less.

Despite these funding challenges, reduction in driving and growth in active transportation has many benefits for Oregon. Making it safer and easier to walk, bike, and ride public transit will help Oregonians be healthier by preventing injury collisions, improving air quality and providing more opportunity for physical activity. The American Public Health Association recommends investing in a more balanced array of transportation options like walking, biking, and transit to reduce these health costs, reducing this $322 billion drag on our nation’s economy. A healthy workforce is more productive, less expensive to insure, and good for Oregon business.i

Besides improving health, active transportation can save Oregonians a great deal of money and help create jobs. Transportation is the second-largest household expense, topped only by housing costs. In neighborhoods where there are more opportunities to walk, bike, and use public transit, transportation costs are substantially lower. If we expand transportation options for more residents, we can reduce households’ burdens, expand disposable income spending, and support local businesses. For example, recent PSU research finds that Portlanders accessing businesses by walking, biking, and transit visit local businesses more often, and spend more per month at certain types of businesses.ii At the regional scale, Portlanders save $1.2 billion per year, because they drive less than residents of comparable cities. From those savings, $800 million are pushed right back into the regional economy.iii

Furthermore, investment in multi-use trails can facilitate substantial business development and tourism in communities experiencing economic hardship. For example, a $6.7 million investment in bike facilities in North Carolina’s Outer Banks resulted in a more than $60 million annual boost in economic benefits solely from bicycle activity.iv

The construction industry is among the hardest hit by the recession. Infrastructure investment helps create jobs in this sector. Pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure is a great way to do that. In fact, bicycle and pedestrian projects tend to create more building-phase jobs per dollar invested than road projects.v Investment in public transit operations creates the most jobs.vi Every dollar spent on transit operations results in 3 dollars of local economic gains.vii

Recent discussion around how to adequately fund walking, biking and transit started in 2008 in the lead-up to the Jobs and Transportation Act. Five years later, several potential legislative vehicles are now in motion this session to take steps toward resolving this gap in funding for transportation networks that are critical to our future: HB3348, HB 2310 (with an amendment to make bike and pedestrian projects eligible), and SB247 (with administrative amendments). Please take action to fund walking, biking and public transit for the sake of our health and our economy.

Sincerely,

Mayor Charlie Hales, City of Portland

Mayor Kitty Piercy, City of Eugene

Mayor Jim Clinton, City of Bend

Mayor Chrstine Lundberg, City of Springfield

Mayor Darin Fowler, City of Grants Pass

Mayor Pro Tem Jodie Barram, City of Bend

County Commissioner Greg Malinowski, Washington County

County Commissioner Dick Schouten, Washington County

County Commissioner Scott Lee, Clatsop County

Commissioner Nick Fish, City of Portland

Commissioner Amanda Fritz, City of Portland

Commissioner Steve Novick, City of Portland

Councilor Marc San Soucie, City of Beaverton

Councilor Sally Russell, City of Bend

Councilor Mark Capell, City of Bend

Councilor Drew Herzig, City of Astoria

Jason Miner, Executive Director 1000 Friends of Oregon

Gerald Cohen, State Director AARP Oregon State Office

Jim Wilcox, Executive Director BikeLane Coalition

Rob Sadowsky, Executive Director Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Sarah Higginbotham, State Director Environment Oregon

Shane MacRhodes, Program Manager Eugene Safe Routes to School

Justin Yuen, President FMYI

Paula Erickson, President Greater Eugene Area Riders (GEARs)

Kris Nelson, Principal Geonomics Consulting

Ron Kilcoyne, General Manager Lane Transit District

Jonathan Ostar, Executive Director OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

Christy Splitt, Director Oregon Conservation Network

Chris Hagerbaumer, Deputy Director Oregon Environmental Council

Doug Moore, Executive Director, Oregon League of Conservation Voters

Steve White, Project Manager Oregon Public Health Institute

Steph Routh, Executive Director Oregon Walks

Mary Vogel, President PlanGreen

Randolph Miller, President Produce Row Property Management Company

Jessica Giles, Program Manager Ride Connection

Dick Dolgonas, Convener Roseburg Bicycle/Pedestrian Coalition

Allan Pollock, General Manager Salem-Keizer Transit

Jay Flint, Executive Director Sunset Empire Transportation District

Sarah Angell, Director Swan Island Transportation Management Association

Mel Rader, Co-Director Upstream Public Health

Footnotes:

i Hidden Health Costs of Transportation, American Public Health Association, May, 2010, Available at: http://www.apha.org/advocacy/reports/reports/

ii Exploring the Relationship Between Consumer Behavior and Mode Choice Clifton, Kelly J; Morrissey, Sara; Ritter, Chloe 7/17/2012

iii Portland’s Green Dividend, Joe Cortright, September 2007, Available at: http://www.impresaconsulting.com/node/42

iv NCDOT. 2004. The Economic Impact of Investments in Bicycle Facilities: A Case Study of the North Carolina Northern Outer Banks. Department of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation.

v Pedestrian and Bicycle Infrastructure: A National Study of Employment Impacts Heidi Garrett-Peltier 6/20/2011

vi Job Impacts of Spending on Public Transportation: An Update, prepared for American Public Transportation Association by Economic Development Research Group, Inc., April 2009, available at: www.apta.com/gap/policyresearch/Documents/jobs_impact.pdf

vii “Qualitative Analysis of Public Transportation’s Economic Impact.” Cambridge Systematics, Inc & Economic Development Research Group (1999).

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