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Speak up on regional transportation

As your Metro Councilor, I have heard you ask time and time again for more transportation choices. You want to be able to get to where you need to go, safely and comfortably, in whichever manner works for you — be it walking, bicycling, using transit or driving in a car. Metro (your regional government) and your local communities have some efforts under way that you may want to participate in. I hope you will show up and speak up.

Trails serve as a way for you to walk and bicycle to your desired destinations as well as offering recreational opportunities. Next month brings the final open houses for the Westside Trail Master Plan, to run north-south in eastern Washington County. Come see what the recommended final pathways (alignments) will offer and help us decide which segments to build first. The final Westside Trail Master Plan open houses are on Wednesday, May 8, in King City and Tuesday, May 14, in Bethany, each from 6 to 8 p.m. You can find the location details at oregonmetro.gov/westsidetrail.

Out in western Washington County, with funding through Metro, planning is underway for the Council Creek Regional Trail, a 15-mile stretch from western Hillsboro, through Cornelius and westward to Forest Gove. You can get involved and learn more through the Forest Grove Parks and Recreation Commission and the Cornelius Parks Advisory Board.

Those are just two regional trails which we hope will someday offer you longer pathways to get the places you need to go, safely and comfortably. Unfortunately, our existing systems fail to meet majority needs and we lack a strategic plan to satisfy your needs. A team of knowledgeable and committed volunteers has been serving on a stakeholder advisory committee to develop the first ever Regional Active Transportation Plan.

Information on the plan and staff to answer your questions will be available at the third annual Regional Trails Forum on Wednesday, May 8, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Metro Regional Center, located at 600 N.E. Grand Ave. in Portland. There will also be an open house on the Regional Active Transportation Plan proposal on Thursday, May 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Metro Regional Center. I hope that you will join me. You can learn more about the Active Transportation Planning efforts at oregonmetro.gov/activetransport.

I have been startled by some things we’ve discovered through this strategic plan work. Various examples include:

n Today, nearly 18 percent of all trips in Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties are made by walking and bicycling.

n Children under the age of 14 make 15 percent of all the bicycle trips and 23 percent of all the walking trips. If the system is not safe, we have a big issue to address.

n Young people age 25 to 34 years old use active modes of transportation for more than 20 percent of all their trips to get around — walking, bicycling and taking transit. How do we continue these trends in the future decades of their lives?

n 15 percent of our trips are under one mile. One mile is not far. We could reduce congestion, improve our personal health and reduce air pollution if we made more of these trips by walking, bicycling or using transit.

n While our region has a few major network pathways, our regional system project list is lacking in sufficient network paths — lacking as in non-existent. Our region needs to define and build a true regional system that serves the majority of potential users.

n The existing walking, bicycling and transit solutions tend to be on arterials, as those are the destination and transit service areas. They are also the most dangerous so safety is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Obviously there is more to understand, define, prioritize, fund and build. Many of you have told me that you want more transportation options for your daily life. Let’s figure this out, shall we? I want to live in a region with safe and comfortable transportation solutions so we can live fruitful lives as individuals and as a community, people and businesses together, while utilizing your tax dollars wisely. I hope you will make the time to show up and speak up so that we can achieve goals together.

Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington represents District 4, which includes northern Washington County, Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove.



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