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Let your voice build a path for region

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. This 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 the evenings May 13 and May 14 (in Bethany and Tigard) and you can find the location details at: oregonmetro.gov/westsidetrail.

Out in western Washington County, with funding through Metro, planning is under way 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 to the places you need to go safely and comfortably. Unfortunately, our existing systems fail to meet the 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. There will be only one open house on this Regional Active Transportation Plan proposal: the evening of Thursday, May 9 at the Metro Regional Center in Portland. I hope 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 Currently, nearly 18 percent of all trips in Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties are made by walking and bicycling.

n 15 percent of children under the age of 14 bicycle where they need to go. If the system is not safe, we have a big issue to address.

n 25 percent of young people aged 25 to 34 use active modes to get around. 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 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 we can achieve goals together.

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




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