Student Assistant, First Stop Portland
At First Stop Portland, we’re an ambitious group. We facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges about best practices between Portland's experts and leaders the world over. We promote Portland State University as a leader in the global conversation about sustainability. We help cities achieve their goals by sharing lessons from Portland, our successes and our failures.
Since our ultimate goal is successful knowledge exchange, it is particularly rewarding when a group asks us to host a hands-on, working and planning experience for them, in which the Portland model can be influential and the fruits of the exchange are tangible and immediate. This week we were afforded just such an opportunity as we facilitated a design charrette for alternative transportation leaders from St. Louis, MO, heading into the final phases of a major bike route expansion project.
Local experts from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and the City of Portland met with a visiting bicycle path task-force from St. Louis, MO, to share lessons learned from Portland’s last 30 years of shared-use path development. The coalition working on the paths included government officials, volunteer community members, as well as representatives from Trailnet, St. Louis’ premiere organization promoting regional healthy, active living through multi-modal transportation development. Also adding to the conversation were Portland State students from our Urban and Regional Planning programs, interested in regional planning and sharing their citizen cyclist experiences.
To begin, Jennifer Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Trailnet, gave an overview of St. Louis – its strengths and challenges as a city and site for community integration through sustainable transportation. She explained that, while St. Louis is much smaller than Portland with a population that fluctuates less predictably, it is comparable in its high rates of civic engagement thanks to its “little big town” feel. With three of their 28 aldermen present at the event, the engagement around transportation options was palpably clear. Jennifer also noted that in St. Louis, “...we are willing to tax ourselves for great amenities,” meaning that funding for public works is not prohibitively difficult to come by.
|Jennifer Allen, Trailnet, explains development, density |
and population fluctuation in St. Louis.
|Portland and St. Louis experts, PSU students and First Stop staff |
collaborate, dream and design.
|Roger Geller listens and responds to a community liaison explaining |
the challenges of engaging ridership in their neighborhood.
|Gerik Kransky, BTA, explains best practices in|
|Rob Sadowsky, BTA, offers reflective concepts to consider|
from the 10,000ft view when planning and placing bicycle infrastructure.
|First Stop connecting local leaders, the university and students|
like myself to build a more robust brain trust.