Tag Archives: Rob Sadowsky

Dear City Council: A prescription for healthy streets

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

I write this letter to the Portland City Council as it seats two new members: Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick. As you sit down over the next few months building new relationships, making new appointments, swapping bureaus and considering new directions. I offer this prescription for healthy streets:

Our streets have the potential to transform our communities. Trans-portation policies of the past too often divided communities, particularly those most underserved. Instead, be inspired by the potential offered by building livable communities that are vibrant, active and economically sustainable for everyone. Continue reading

BTA: Beyond the presidential race, your vote can change Oregon

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

First, I’d like to pause and say goodbye to Margaux Mennesson. Margaux has served as The Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Communications Director for the past four years. She is moving on from BTA and co-authoring the Healthy Street Beat. All of us at BTA and Street Roots wish her the best in her new adventures.

Election time is right around the corner. My parents always said voting was one of the most important things an American does for his or her country. Now we live in times of high-tech polling that only shares the current “opinion” of voters. We can read complicated statistical analyses of possible outcomes before a single vote is cast. Continue reading

Portland’s famous free rail zones — going, going, gone

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

In just a few short weeks, the Portland’s free rail zone for both TriMet light rail and the streetcar will end its more than 37 year history. The concept was adopted in 1975 to combat limited parking and air pollution and was initially referred to as Fareless Square. However, due to budget restrictions, the program is ending at the close of August.

The days of hopping on a train or streetcar downtown and going a few blocks is over. Will this mean a sharp increase in people driving downtown? We don’t know. People typically don’t get in a car to drive a few blocks anyway. It is more likely to cut out trips entirely. This could have more of a financial impact to restaurants and small businesses than anything else. There have been many times that I’ve jumped on a train both to save time and extend my noon lunch choices. I’m lucky, though. I can jump on my bike and take that short, simple trip by bike in as short if not a shorter amount of time. Continue reading

BTA: The winter of our studded-tire discontent continues

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

Every time I hear the sound of a car bearing studded tires, I cringe. Part of it is the sound for me, and part of it is the wonder of why. Why use them? There are other solutions. Part of it is the knowledge that studded tires are creating additional wear and tear on roads at a time when we are cutting maintenance budgets. It is why we don’t allow studded tires year round.

I recently learned that studded tires are only minimally effective in doing the job they set out to do. Drivers can gain better traction with snow tires and get better fuel efficiency. Continue reading

BTA: Transportation equity? Bring it on

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

Metro, our region’s elected government charged with helping us make the region an extraordinary place to live, work and play, recently had a bit of a kerfuffle at a recent subcommittee meeting. The Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (a 17-member panel of elected officials and leaders of transportation agencies) was giving final approval to regional flexible funding, a program of federal money that Metro controls and allocates in two-year cycles. Continue reading

BTA: Finding philosophers and storytellers in the back of the bus

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

This is part two of a story “One bad accident puts healthy streets in a whole new light” that first appeared in Street Roots in July about Rob’s experiences with transit and mobility while he recovered from a broken collarbone. That article explored struggles with maneuvering around the city.

This article explores the joyful experiences of transit.

I’m a regular bicycle commuter. I see my city through the height of my bicycle with a full panoramic view of my surroundings. I can hear and feel the city as I pedal through neighborhoods, a full participant in so many ways and all alone in many others. I can get some thinking done while I ride, mull over my feelings and occasionally get inspired. This experience keeps me riding even on dull rainy days.

Continue reading

BTA: One bad accident puts healthy streets in a whole new light

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

I broke my collarbone and three ribs two months ago. I needed to make significant adjustments to my regular commute to work as a daily bicyclist. Walking and taking transit is something I generally enjoy. I like the extra time it may take to arrive at my destination, for I see new sights, hear new sounds, and experience life from a different viewpoint. But I also carry stuff: a lunch, a book to read, my notebook, a water bottle and often a sweater. I couldn’t carry stuff on my body with a broken collarbone — no backpack, no messenger bag. So, I loaded up my stuff into a rolling backpack I had at home and began a new street experience.

Streets are complicated places designed for many different users crisscrossing their way. When our streets are designed well, we move fluidly with no worries of obstacles. When our streets are overfilled, the flow slows down or stops, or in common vernacular, it “locks.” Our streets do not end at the curb — they extend through the sidewalk experience, and when you do that they get even more complicated. We’ll dance our way through the sidewalk experience in different ways than we might if we were driving a car. We rarely think of our sidewalk traffic locking up like our automobile congested streets do, but they present challenges and roadblocks, just the same. Continue reading

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance: A healthy vision

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

We’re excited to introduce you to Healthy Streetbeat, a new monthly column for Street Roots written by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). Our contributors are Rob Sadowsky, executive director, and Margaux Mennesson, communications director. Over the next few months we will be sharing our thoughts about traffic justice, healthy streets, and other transportation issues that affect our community. Continue reading

That’s what she said — a look back on some notable quotables from Street Roots interviews in 2010

What’s more important — losing the lawsuit, or saving someone’s life down the road? And their reaction, historically, is always the same: Let’s worry about the lawsuit and not worry about public safety. Not only is it short-sighted, it’s just wrong. That’s not what the community wants. This is what the Police Bureau wants, the lawyers, the politicians. And it’s so short term, the gain, to try to avoid a bad result in a lawsuit. They didn’t avoid, from their point of view, a bad result in the Chasse lawsuit by keeping the truth away from the public and by not disciplining the officers. That’s not what public safety should be about.”

—   Tom Steenson, Attorney for the Chasse family, “Chasse’s champion,” November 12. Continue reading

BTA: Rolling forward

Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s new director, looks ahead to the organization’s next 20 years

By Israel Bayer
Staff Writer

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is 20 years old this year. The organization has helped foster a bicycle movement in Portland that is looked at as one of the most forward thinking in the country.

In the past decade the organization has gone through tremendous change, tripling its budget and helping foster pro-cycling policies in Portland and legislation for Oregonians across the state. Among their work, the BTA has helped pass legislation, from lower speed limits on specific residential streets to stricter rules to protect pedestrians and cyclists injured by motorists convicted of careless driving.

In short, the BTA has been a leading voice in creating a movement that continues to grow and have influence locally and around the region.

The organization has also gone through a tremendous amount of change and staff turnover. Some critics say the BTA is soft and too close to those in power; others say it’s too dogmatic. The organization recently hired a new executive director, Rob Sadowsky, who led the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago for the past six years. He also serves on the national boards of the Alliance for Biking and Walking and the League of American Bicyclists.

Sadowsky has more than 23 years of experience in nonprofits, mostly working on affordable housing and economic development issues. He offers a fresh perspective for the BTA and Portland on a range of subjects, which was clear from the moment our conversation began.

Israel Bayer: Can you talk about some of the program work the BTA does and how it’s benefiting the community?

Rob Sadowsky: There are three main areas that we work on. The first is advocacy around creating the best network that can be there for cycling. Be it bike lanes, bike corrals, parking facilities — just encouraging all of our local partners like the Bureau of Transportation to do the best that they can.

The second thing is around safety and education to both encourage people to look at bicycling as an option whether it’s for getting healthy and physical fitness or environmental reasons or both.

The third is trying to build a movement around bicycling so that it becomes an integrated part of our culture and who we are.

On the advocacy side we’re doing a lot of activity to try to move the Bike Portland 2030 Plan. It’s a very bold bicycle plan the city recently passed. We’re trying to keep the heat on and make sure the city is taking the proper steps in partnership with us to raise money for the plan. On the face, it seems expensive, but in the world of transportation dollars, it’s not expensive at all.

On bicycle safety and education we’re focusing on a lot of education in schools trying to encourage kids and parents to bike or walk instead of using cars. We’re also working through both policy and legislative means to try to create the safest streets possible.

For example, I’m representing the bicycling community on Tri-Met’s Safety Task Force that is looking top to bottom on how Tri-Met could change the culture of safety so that we don’t has as many accidents, etc. in the community.

Then around the movement, Portland and the state are really blessed in terms of its integrated movement. We have events and activities every single night. We have representation in a variety of communities from folks who “zoo bomb” to the people that do parties and “coffees” on the bridges to individuals that want to get formally involved in something.

One of the things we’re exploring is what role we (the BTA) play in building that movement. Having a place to share ideas is important and when the movement needs to speak with one voice, we are prepared.

Continue reading