Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on April 21st, 2008 at 12:30 pm
Courthouse Square earlier today.
(Photos © J. Maus)
On the eve of Earth Day, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski urged a crowd gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland to take a look at their daily routine and do something different to fight climate change.
And he intends to lead by example. “I’m leaving my car at home tomorrow and walking to work and I encourage others to do the same.”
Kulongoski spoke at an Earth Day rally organized by the Sierra Club. Also speaking at the event were Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and several environmental advocates.
Before his speech I asked Kulongoski why he decided to walk, instead of riding his bike, to work. Pointing out a pedometer attached to his belt he said he has a bike but that his wife makes him take 5,000 steps a day. “If I don’t,” he said, “I’ll get tofu for dinner.”
Kulongoski just returned from a trip to Europe where he was slated for a stop in Amsterdam. I asked him about the trip and, while he didn’t have time to stop in Amsterdam this time, he said he’s been there before. He noted how that city’s flat terrain must contribute to its status as one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities.
Kulongoski also recalled how no one in Amsterdam wore helmets, which prompted him to say, “I think there’s a lesson there.”
When I told him how Portland (and other Oregon cities) are working to become, what PDOT planners refer to as, “a world class city in an American context,” he said he thinks bicycles are a “do-able form of transportation.” He then reminisced about when he lived in Northeast Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood and was able to ride his bike into work “all the time.”
As his aides ushered him away to the podium (my impromptu interview was not scheduled) I brought up Oregon’s statewide effort to combine bicycle tourism and the economic development of small towns. He was well aware of the initiative and mentioned how pleased he was that Travel Oregon and Jonathan Nicholas (founder of Cycle Oregon) were spearheading the effort.
Environmental and transportation advocates are already buzzing about the expansive package of climate change legislation Kulongoski will put forth in 2009. It’s nice to know that, at least on a small scale, he’s not just talking the talk.