Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thanks, Hal!

We were surprised recently to learn that Hal Ballard had left the Washington County Bicycle Transportation Coalition, and regret that the March 26th article by Casey Parks, Hillsboro/Aloha community champion, slipped past us until now.  Below is our comment posted on the Oregonian, reprinted here with photos from the WashCo summer 2011 bike photo scavenger hunt.
Jacob helps with ride skills as Hal gives out free helmets to a crowd at the tent in Sept. '11
Our family first met Hal at WashCo on a cold, dark December night in 2010 after deciding to get rid of our motor vehicle. Hal personally outfitted the 7 of us with helmets at a price we could afford and took time not only to provide safety education, but also to talk with us about cycling's role in our carfree journey ahead. Throughout 2011, Hal was almost always our first point of contact at WashCo for repairs, reconstructs, and upgrades for our 7 second (or third) hand bikes. He encouraged our participation in Tour de Parks, the photo scavenger hunt, and additional bike education, all of which played a huge role in our confidence to travel greater distances to a greater diversity of locations by cycle. A couple of us also volunteered last fall at a school-based ride skills/helmet giveaway event, where we saw Hal at his very best inspiring kids of all ages and ethnic backgrounds to ride safely and joyfully.
safe ride to a joy filled photo at Hillsboro Stadium
Casey Parks picked up our story at the end of 2011, and now in 2012, thanks to Hal’s encouragement, Casey’s publicity, and a nominator unknown to us, we have accepted a 2012 BTA Alice Award and been credited with demonstrating “outstanding achievements and dedication to building the future Oregon where bicycling is safe, convenient, and fun,” charged with “shaping the future of Washington County and transforming attitudes about who can ride a bike,” and even been dubbed “suburban bike ninjas.”
with Hillsboro's finest prior to our ninja status
Although it is true that our decision to go carfree was largely motivated by a desire to be better environmental and community stewards, fewer living expenses have been an understated motivation. What’s more is that our household economic predicament was such that we knew when we chose to cut this “living expense,” second only to housing, we would not be able to afford a replacement motor vehicle any time in the foreseeable future. The decision to ditch the minivan was, for all intents and purposes, final.
cycling fuel from the Hillsboro Farmer's Market
Perhaps it makes sense to the reader now why we first met Hal on a cold and dark winter night to prepare for carfree life in the suburbs beginning at the wettest, coldest time of the year? Hal Ballard not only played a huge role in equipping us for our carfree journey, but also treated us with kindness, compassion, warmth, and respect at time when the journey ahead was still an unknown, scary place as much as a challenge to be embraced. We’re grateful to have Hal as an advocate for cycling in Washington County, and thank him for inspiring us to become active transportation advocates as well.
mass transit: an active transportation supplement
Annee & Moses von Borg
Hillsboro's Cycling Seven


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