A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Survey boosts Alb-Cor bike path

Written January 7th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
At least one person (not me) went to the bike path meeting by the appropriate means.

At least one person (not me) went to the bike path meeting by the appropriate means.

The idea of a bike trail between North Albany and Corvallis — dormant since the plan to route it through farm land along the Portland & Western railroad tracks was shot down a year ago — got a welcome boost from a survey that showed substantial support.

Benton County commissioners and other officials met Thursday with consultants who worked on the survey. The board expects to decide in February whether to seek more information or take the next step, which is to launch a public process to identify a route different from the one rejected by the Benton County Planning Commission in February 2015 after farmers objected.

DHM Research of Portland polled 300 people in Albany and Corvallis by phone, including 150 living in the corridor between the cities, and collected 2,572 responses in an online survey. Among the results, summarized by Michelle Neiss, the company’s vice president of research: Seventy-five percent support building the Albany-Corvallis path. Twelve percent would use it to bicycle to work while greater percentages would use it for recreation including running. Among the online respondents alone, 25 percent would use it to ride to work at least once a week. (Benton County plans to post all the results on its website for the project.)

Based on data from the Corvallis-Philomath bike path and from Strava, a ride-tracking app for serious cyclists, traffic consultant Andrew Mortensen of David Evans and Associates, Portland, estimated the Albany-Corvallis trail would get around 400 users a day, including about 100 bike commuters.

While this would not relieve congestion on Highway 20, it would be a helpful step nevertheless. According to him, state transportation policy would have ODOT support projects like this path, especially since widening Highway 20 for vehicle traffic is many years away.

I went to the meeting at the Corvallis Depot because I’ve editorialized in favor of this project for a decade or more. The results of the survey surprised and encouraged me. I didn’t think a path that doesn’t exist would generate any support, especially in a phone poll of the general population. So now, if Benton County’s process identifies a route that doesn’t run into a group of determined farmers, or if it wins their agreement, that path might eventually still be built. (hh)

From left, Commissioners Jaramillo and Schuster and consultants Michelle Neiss and Andrew Mortensen.

From left, Commissioners Jaramillo and Schuster and consultants Michelle Neiss and Andrew Mortensen.

23 responses to “Survey boosts Alb-Cor bike path”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    So Hasso, good luck. You only have the Conservatives to win over. Liberals have supported multi-modal transportation for decades.

  2. tom cordier says:

    The conclusions from the study cannot be based on the offering of an opinion stating support. It is only meaningful if that support is based on their willingness to pay for it.
    It is really easy to voice support an idea and have someone else pay for it–which I believe
    is the case here.

  3. Jim Clausen says:

    These so-called “surveys” are rigged to the hilt. They ask questions like, “Would you prefer to have the $30,000,000 bike path – as proposed – or would you prefer a $60,000,000 bike path that includes butler service every quarter mile?” The answer is obvious.

    I, of course, have exaggerated a little to make the point. But the gist of the “survey” is rigged from the start. These “research groups” have learned that it all depends on how the question is asked and who you ask. A good report on this would include what questions were asked, who formulated the queries, and who was involved in answering the questions.

    Almost ALL of these “stakeholder” surveys with “public participation” are rigged like this. The “surveys” and “public process” questions are nothing more than a way to lead public opinion towards a desired end. Without this curtain of falsehood, cities, counties, States, federal institutions, and large corporations wouldn’t be able to claim “buy-in”. It’s nothing more than a sham to enable any agenda put forth.

    You’re absolutely right Hasso, 75% buy-in is way too high. “Buy-in” for bike paths is low at best in any honest random survey. This is just more evidence of how entrenched the “spandex mafia” (as Lars Larson refers to bike fanatics) and large corporations have been able to manipulate public opinion.

    This “survey” just goes to prove the authenticity of what I’ve said.

  4. Rich Kellum says:

    Hasso, I think Tom has a point here, If a poll were taken asking whether or not folks in Albany support the widening of I5 from Salem to Albany with two questions, one if they have to pay for it and a second if the Federal government was going to foot all the bill. One would fail dramatically and the other would pass because one has a $20,000 bill for each of us and the other has a $5 bill for each of us…

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Which goes directly to the tension between the services we want and how they are paid for. End result is we ALL pay for them in some fashion, be it local, county, state, or federal. Plusses & minuses at every step of the way…

      • Rich Kellum says:

        it is all about transfer of payments, when everyone gets the goodies and everyone pays for them, there is general agreement, when everyone pays and only a few use the benefits that is something else.

        • Hasso Hering says:

          What’s all this about “everyone pays and only a few use”? That’s the way it always has been. I’ve paid local property taxes in Oregon for 45 years, helping to support public services. I’ve needed the police once or twice, the fire department never. Millions are spent county mental health, which I’m glad I don’t need. And so forth. You get the picture. (hh)

          • Rich Kellum says:

            Hasso, we have had this conversation before. using the thought process that the rabid bike people in Eugene and Portland use, they should not have to pay for anything because they pay other taxes on their homes and income tax etc. If that is reasonable, then riding golf carts on the hwy should be allowed, riding dirt bikes, quads etc, it always comes back to, “there are a lot of us bicyclists and we should get it for free……….or not from my perspective……

          • Jim Clausen says:

            You’ve “only needed the police once or twice,the fire department never”? That’s about as short sited a view of what they do as I’ve ever heard!

            You use their services every day. It’s because of the police enforcing the law that you don’t get run over when riding your bike. It’s because of the police enforcing anti-crime laws that you’re safe when traveling. Unless you travel around in a tank, that thin blue line is right there with you protecting and serving. To say that you’ve only used their services once or twice is a gross error.

            The Fire Department too is used every day. The stores you use are protected when a neighboring store catches fire. If not for the Fire Department and their ambulance service you’d be tripping over dead bodies all day long (I hate when that happens). Putting out a brush fire that could easily spread to housing developments is also a common occurrence. To say that you “never” use their abilities and services is, again, a gross error.

            Just because people don’t have these vital services in their face every day doesn’t mean they’re not offering a vital service. Services that keeps us safe and secure. You might want to rethink your stance on this…

            Also, a hearty thanks to all our Police, Fire, and EMTs! What you do every day on our behalf truly is recognized and appreciated.

          • Hasso Hering says:

            Obviously. Duh. Clausen completely misses the point here, so I’ll have to spell it out: Just because we don’t “use” a service, in Kellum’s words, does not mean we don’t benefit. We all pay highway taxes and we all benefit from all the stuff for which the money, along with general revenues, is used.(hh)

  5. Warren Beeson says:

    To summarize both comments above (and both are true). Liberals do support “multi-modal transportation” – whatever that means. Of course they expect the conservatives Mr. Cordier mentions to pay for it. So said conservatives oppose it. People say all kinds of things, it’s what they do that counts. Thus we can summarize this argument with, “Liberals say, conservatives pay”.

  6. Jim Clausen says:

    One of the questions asked: ” Several bike paths can be found throughout the Albany and Corvallis areas. Which ones have you used in the past three months?” 74%-75% answered “None”. Sounds like they’re not a priority.

    Another question: “In general, when it comes to walking in your community are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, not too satisfied, or not at all satisfied with?” 59%-62% answered “Yes”.

    Another question: “The Corvallis-Albany path could provide a biking and walking path between the two cities for both commuting and recreational use. Do you think you would use the path for _____? If yes, how often?” 47%-86% answered “No, never” This was a multiple answer question creating a big difference in the answers.

    Summing up these results one finds that hardly anyone uses the existing trails. Most are very satisfied with existing amenities. And most would never use a new path as suggested. It’s pretty clear that this is not a needed or wanted venture.

    On “leading questions”:
    One question was: “How important is it for the County and ODOT to provide walking and biking paths for residents in order to facilitate alternative modes of transportation between Corvallis and Albany?” 49% answered “Very” – This question however has absolutely nothing to do with the proposed pathway. It’s a general question they’ve thrown in that bends the stats in their favor. They can now say that people support pathways ergo they support the newest venture. It’s a strawman.

    Another question: “Do you travel more than once a week along Highway 20 between Corvallis and Albany?” 57%-55% answered “None of the above” to a series of answers, to get to work, shopping, leisure, etc. This question has nothing to do with a bike path. Again, and even though this question didn’t work in their favor, it’s a general question that can be distorted to show interest.

    And my favorite question: “Do you walk: [Randomize; accept multiple responses].” Not a word about the proposed walkway. Nothing, nada, zilch. But because people walk, they can now show support by claiming people walk!

    It’s a rigged game. Oregon has made it a priority to spend money on these pathways in an effort to get people out of cars. It’s a fools errand. It has little support so they need to use deception and manipulation to get it accomplished.

    By the way, one of the questions had to do with ethnicity – “Which of the following best describes your ethnicity?” 88% – 90% were white. Is there no diversity in our area? Are they discounting people of color? Or are they just prejudiced?

    • Anonymous says:

      From the census bureau 2014 data, 88.2% of Benton County residents identify themselves as “white”. As much as you might like to call the survey prejudiced, it looks like they got a representative sample of the local demographics. Sorry.

    • Bob Woods says:

      So James, the first time you commented, you said it was all rigged. Now you say “It’s pretty clear that this is not a needed or wanted venture.”

      Either way you cut it, all you are showing is that you either were bloviating when you said it was rigged, or you’re bloviating when you say it’s a not needed venture, because your logic contradicts yourself. It can’t be both.

      The point really is that a survey represents the feelings of the people who answered the survey at the time it was taken. That’s all any survey ever does. And history has shone that survey research has a very good track record of reflecting attitudes. Not perfect by any chance, but good. That’s why businesses and both political parties spend hundreds of millions on survey research.

      Of course you and the other members of the radical right, including the Bundy & Buddies Moron Brigade in Harney County, always claim that only YOU actually KNOW what the PEOPLE believe, and it just grinds your chaps when folks actually ask the people themselves what they think.

  7. tom cordier says:

    Thanks Jim Clausen for researching the question/answers from the survey and giving us insight. Seems like the survey itself demonstrates little interest in actually using the path.
    Should be case closed.

  8. centrist says:

    Frankly, the 75% value plugged my BS filter. It seemed so far afield that there had to be a structural fault in the survey. (Population chosen, phrasing, analysis, etc.)
    Jim C has pointed out enough failings that any conclusions based on this survey are fruits of a poisonous tree. No initiative should be pursued on the basis of this survey.

  9. HowlingCicada says:

    Jim Clausen: “Oregon has made it a priority to spend money on these pathways in an effort to get people out of cars.”

    I wish you were right, but I don’t believe it because only the tiniest fraction of all paved surface area in Oregon (probably much less than one percent) is pathways.

    Getting people out of cars is something conservatives should recognize as a Good Thing, instead of the “we say, you pay” argument. Among the reasons:

    1 – Strongly lifestyle-influenced diseases like obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, etc, are a massive drain on productivity and taxpayers’ money (with or without Obamacare and Medicaid).

    2 – Getting a moderate number of cars off crowded roads allows delays or cancellation of very expensive road widening, new bridges, etc, while still maintaining an adequate level of service.

    Of course, there are also reasons why liberals prefer bikes to cars, like the sheer joy and sense of mastery from moving around under one’s own power at a speed and view which makes one’s surroundings more comfortably familiar.

  10. Bill Kapaun says:

    I would probably use such a path a couple times a month during the nicer weather IF I didn’t find crossing the bridge to get there so scary.
    I’m an old & slow rider, so I’d be “chugging” up the bridge about 4-5 MPH and in fear for my life until I actually got to the path.
    That’s a NO GO for me.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      I too am “old & slow.” I’d consider simply walking the bike over the bridge to the point I felt more comfortable riding it…

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        So what’s the point of that? I’ll just stay on this side of the bridge with my bike.


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