Last Thursday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation welcomed Anne Lee, Interim Executive Director of the Community Cycling Center, to the bureau’s monthly brown-bag lunch series. She spoke to the organization’s ongoing efforts to build community through bicycling amenities at the New Columbia housing project.
The Community Cycling Center has been on the vanguard of finding ways to expand access to bicycling to all of Portland’s residents for nearly twenty years. Ms. Lee prefaced the presentation by highlighting CCC’s seminal 2009 “Understanding Barriers to Bicycling” Report, which guided the organization’s recent shift in direction to work more directly with local partners in the surrounding neighborhoods and act more critically to address who was and wasn’t benefitting for Portland’s nationally recognized renaissance for bicycling. This intentional focus on addressing the barriers that many communities face to using bicycles for daily trips led to the CCC’s partnership with New Columbia, a mixed-income community in North Portland home to many families of first-generation Oregonians. Ms. Lee spoke to her surprise at learning that nearly half of the residents of the neighborhood are children and there on average twelve languages spoken in the community of New Columbia. The Bike Skills track is conveniently located adjacent to the HUB Bike Repair Center, that provides bike tools and tune up opportunities a free service center opened by the CCC in 2012.
Perhaps most striking about the presentation was the importance of engaging with the local community and attentively responding to local needs and concerns. Fellow bike advocate Janis McDonald chimed in about the grassroots community planning and design that went into the incarnation of the Skills Park; Ms. Lee responded that much of the Community Cycling Center’s work with the residents of New Columbia has involved “leading from behind” in an effort to empower and inspire local residents to acquire the resources, infrastructure and political power necessary to build more places to bike. Ms. Lee also highlighted the work for the CCC to host “Community Conversations” in which local leaders and PBOT staffers could communicate and find more ways to collaborate and participate in the planning of their neighborhood.
Be sure to check out how the Skills Park has galvanized the local community this upcoming Sunday, July 28th at North Portland’s Sunday Parkways; the track is located in McCoy Park near the intersection of N. Dwight Avenue and N. Trenton Street. Yours truly will be in attendance on behalf of the BTA and available for questions, membership sign-ups, and warm welcomes.
Hope to see you there!