In Full Gear: ‘Normalizing’ Active Transportation in Hillsboro


HILLSBORO, OR (3-27-2013) –  Although the City missed out this month on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ cash prizes to implement GoPoint transportation hubs, one grassroot nonprofit’s efforts to “normalize” active transportation in Hillsboro are in full gear.

“In a Hillsboro where active transportation is ‘normalized,’ citizens – including families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities – would be able to reach their intended destinations safely by foot, bike, or assistive device, without barriers to access,” says Annee von Borg, MSW, MPH, co-founder and director of Resources for Health.

Active transportation – including cycling, walking, using a wheelchair, skateboard, or any other form of human-powered transportation – can yield benefits such as weight loss, improved heart health, and overall enhanced well-being.  von Borg is familiar with these benefits on a personal as well as a professional level.  In 2011, her family of seven went car-free in Hillsboro, helping husband Moses lose over 100 pounds and change his parking spot from the handicap space to the bike rack.  To accommodate physical disabilities, he rides an adaptive bike.

As a public health professional, von Borg recognizes active transportation as an intervention with the potential not only to boost individual health, but also to transform community and environmental health by reducing air pollution, increasing social cohesion, and even contributing to economic development as citizens redirect money saved on transportation and health care costs toward local businesses.  

In accordance with the organization’s mission to empower citizens to care for their health, the environment, and their communities, Resources for Health has organized two local events to raise awareness of walking and biking routes to Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in conjunction with tree plantings at the site.  The events also serve to raise awareness of road and sidewalk improvements that would make this public park more accessible to more of the public.  Sidewalk gaps, high speeds, and compromised bike lanes are some of the current barriers to safely and comfortably accessing the Preserve’s location along Highway 219 for car-free travelers, especially for the 60% of the population who identify as “interested but concerned” about biking for transportation.  von Borg writes about some of these issues on the family’s blog.

Last Saturday, a small but dedicated group reached the Preserve by foot to plant 3,000 trees as part of Friends of Trees largest volunteer turnout of the season.  This Saturday, Resources for Health invites citizens to join them again to “Pedal to the Preserve!”, an easy 1.5 mile group bike ride from  Hatfield Government Center.  From there riders can

(1) volunteer planting trees from 9am-1pm
(2) park bikes at the Education Center and walk the trails
(3) continue biking along the scenic 23-mile Jackson Bottom  Loop

Resources for Health is also known locally for its Wheel Solutions program, delivering CSA shares by cycle in Tanasbourne, Orenco Station, and Amberglen neighborhoods, currently in partnership with Dairy Creek Farm and Holland Residential Properties  (see also: Oregonian article).  The von Borg Family additionally was recognized in 2012 by the BTA’s Alice Awards for “outstanding achievements and dedication to building the future Oregon where bicycling is safe, convenient, and fun.”  Clearly they’ve taken this commitment to the next level in Hillsboro.                                                            

Annee von Borg, MSW, MPH

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