A familiar face and well-known advocate for bicycle and pedestrian programs, Jenna Stanke Marmon recently joined ODOT, after more than a decade with Jackson County. She discussed opportunities available in her new position.
Q: Tell us about your new role and responsibilities as the agency’s first Active Transportation Liaison in southern Oregon.
The role is to be a resource as well as, to some degree, an advocate. I like to call it an ‘advocrat’ for all things that allow people to travel throughout and between their communities by biking or walking. The position works with various business lines within ODOT — engaging in planning efforts, project designs, and maintenance topics — as well as with external partners, such as jurisdiction staff and citizens from local communities. There’s also a strong connection to transit, which serves as a critical option for longer distance trips and a backup option when situations arise.
Q: How does your new role build upon and connect to your previous experience?
I quickly realized how critical community access is to a trail’s success when I started working on the Rogue River Greenway and that continued in my work with the Bear Creek Greenway. Trails are more successful when they are part of a safe, convenient and connected bike and pedestrian network. I started engaging with local and regional planning efforts to promote that kind of connectivity. Now, I’m working to that end here in the Rogue Valley and also throughout southwest Oregon.
Q: You previously chaired the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. From that perspective, are the challenges and opportunities in the Rogue Valley unique or similar to the rest of Oregon?
I’ve always found it funny when communities say “We’re not New York City, so we can’t do that here.” They don’t know this even happens in New York City, where people say “We’re not Copenhagen, so we can’t do that here.” Of course, every community is unique but many of the challenges and opportunities we face throughout the state and the country are similar. We cannot build our way out of congestion. Look to any massive freeway. There are still traffic jams every morning. We have a health epidemic caused by lifestyle choices. For the first time in two centuries, children will not live as long as their parents. Millennials and Boomers are the two biggest generations and both are clamoring for transportation options.
The Rogue Valley has some unique opportunities. We have a great climate, we have an abundance of outdoor activities, and we have the spine of a great bicycle and pedestrian network in the Bear Creek Greenway. If we can continue and expand efforts like the Larson Creek Greenway, and if we improve our important street connections so everyone, young and old, is comfortable walking or biking, and if we promote our region as an area where you can get around safely and comfortably without a car…well, the sky is the limit!
Q: What are you most looking forward to accomplishing in your new role?
There are three upcoming planning efforts critical for advancing active transportation. The first is the regional Active Transportation Needs Inventory, which will help us identify gaps in the system and strategically work to create a complete network. The second is the Oregon Coast Bike Route Plan, which is a joint effort with the ODOT regions encompassing the entire coastline. There are an estimated 6,000-10,000 people who ride the coast route annually! Lastly, the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization will kick off the region’s Active Transportation Plan, which will identify key destinations and potential improvements to critical connections that provide safe and comfortable walking and biking options.
Q: Where do you like to bike, hike or walk? What are some of the lesser-known places and paths you recommend?
Walking is by far my favorite way to explore communities, even my own neighborhood. Now that I’m not managing the Bear Creek Greenway, it’s really a nice place to walk or bike. When I worked for Jackson County, it was pretty hard not to feel like I was working when I rode on it. I love to travel and we tend to take trips to places where we rarely, if ever, have to drive. It’s remarkably more relaxing.
About Jenna Stanke Marmon
The former chair of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Jenna has worked in trails and active transportation for the last decade, most recently as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager for Jackson County.
Marmon is a licensed Landscape Architect in Oregon and holds a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Iowa State University. After a stretch with the Iowa State Parks Department, she moved west to the Rogue Valley in 2001 as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Regional Ecosystems Applied Learning Corps, where she worked on various natural resources initiatives and projects, including fish habitat construction,
trail building and fuels reduction.
Prior to her service with Jackson County, Marmon worked as a Parks and Recreation Planner for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, where she focused on planning and grant funding for the Rogue River Greenway, working closely with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, ODOT, and the Rogue River Greenway Foundation.
About Active Transportation
Multimodal transportation options connect people to where they need to go — to work, to school and to access essential services — using active modes like walking, bicycling, and public transit. At ODOT, active transportation includes strategically investing in infrastructure in response to changing community and user needs.