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When Gabe Klein starts his new job as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, the lessons of Oregon’s transportation system will be fresh in his mind. Klein, the former director of the District (of Columbia) Department of Transportation, visited OTREC programs and student groups over several packed days in Oregon.

Klein started his tour April 6 in Eugene as an expert in residence with the Sustainable Cities Initiative and LiveMove student group at the University of Oregon. He worked his way up the Willamette Valley with meetings and presentations in Salem and Portland.

On bicycle, Klein toured Eugene’s off-street paths, including pedestrian and bicycle bridges, and the street that will carry the area’s first cycle track. He met with city and Lane Transit District officials before touring the EmX bus rapid transit system.

In lectures in Eugene...

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For having made his career pursuing creative solutions to transportation problems, Gabe Klein cautions against getting too complex. We already know how to make livable cities, said Klein, the former director of the District (of Columbia) Department of Transportation: get people walking and bicycling.

“The bike is as old as I don’t know what,” Klein said. “But the trend is toward taking an old technology and making it easy to use and secure.”

For the Washington, D.C., area, that has involved bike sharing. The successful Capital Bikeshare program Klein oversaw has made the red rental bikes ubiquitous and taken away many of the excuses people use not to cycle, including parking, maintenance and the inability to bring a bike on long trips.

Klein will discuss his experience with Capital Bikeshare in a free seminar in Portland on Friday, April 8. He’ll work his way up the Willamette Valley Wednesday and Thursday as part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative at the University of Oregon, one of three OTREC initiatives.

Although cyclists must pay for Capital Bikeshare rentals, Klein said he aimed to avoid pricing people out of cycling. “We wanted to price it below any other form of transportation,” he said. “And we wanted to make it available to tourists and local people for trial usage.”

That second piece...

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