Have you been to Milwaukie lately? You should go. Why? Because the downtown area is a delight to walk around, the Sunday farmer’s market just opened for the season, and the town is in the process of planning and building their first Neighborhood Greenway, with plans to create a small, effective network of Greenways to connect the city. From Portland, downtown Milwaukie is an easygoing and pleasant ride on the Springwater or a quick bus ride away — soon to be even quicker once Portland-Milwaukie light-rail opens in 2015.
I was just in Milwaukie last week with AARP, Bike Milwaukie, Oregon SRTS, numerous PTA representatives and others interested in active transportation, to talk about walkability, livability, and safe routes to school — and everywhere in our cities and towns.
Read about the event on the Milwaukie Rules! site.
The City of Milwaukie is one of many towns in Clackamas County that knows that walking and bicycle around town is the healthy, easy, smart thing to do — but in order to prioritize building their walking and biking networks so people can get around actively and safely while improving their health, people of Clackamas County need to let their elected officials at the city, county, and regional level know that active transportation is important to them. I wrote up this letter to help get Milwaukie started, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t use it to let your elected officials know, too.
I am writing you today to let you know that I am strongly in support of active transportation options, including safe and connected sidewalks and crosswalks, bike paths and trails, for my city and Clackamas County. I want to be able to walk and bicycle for transportation, and to have safe routes to schools for my kids. I support Clackamas County’s efforts to create an active transportation plan, as well as Metro’s Regional Active Transportation Plan (ATP). These plans are a vital component of a healthier, more equitable, more cost-effective transportation system that is good for business and cities, our families and communities. It’s important to me that we start now to address the gaps in network connectivity and safety for walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to Schools and other locations in my community.
I have seen that significant gaps exist in our active transportation (bicycling and walking) networks – our streets are not “complete” for people of all ages and abilities, and many, many of our schools are not safe to walk to and from. There are missing sidewalks from our homes to the places we want to go, such as transit stops, schools, community centers, and markets, as well as safe and frequent crosswalks.
There are too many places to go that are not safe to walk or bicycle to, and that’s not working for me and my family. We might be able to bike to the farmer’s market, but it’s not safe to walk to school – and we want to be able to walk to school, too. I am worried that our cities and county haven’t built these active transportation networks yet, and for me it’s really important to make sure they get prioritized and built when the city or county looks at transportation projects – I think walking, bicycling, and projects around schools should be #1. I’m especially worried about the health and safety of older adults, youth, and those who cannot drive – low income residents including many people of color.
I recently heard that at the current rate of paying for active transportation projects, it will take the region 150 years to complete walking and bicycling networks – that’s not acceptable! I want you to know that walking and bicycling for transportation are important to me and many people in my community, and it’s time for us to prioritize and invest in building real active transportation networks that take us the places we want to go.
I look forward to having an Active Transportation Plan in the region, and want you to support it, too, so that I and other people — of all ages, abilities, and incomes – can safely use healthy, active transportation to get wherever they need to go. I am one of many people in Clackamas County who wants active transportation.
Thank you and I urge you support the regional ATP, active transportation projects and funding in our region.
Leave a note in the comments to let us know you used this letter, and who you sent it to! Or, if you’re shy, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting me know.