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Willamette Week cover story focuses on the BTA

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 17th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

From Wweek.com.

Power to the Pedal is the title of the cover story in this week's Willamette Week newspaper. The story was written by Nigel Jaquiss (who won a Pulitzer for investigative reporting in 2005) and it focuses on how the Bicycle Transportation Alliance figures into the current state of bicycle advocacy in Portland.

The article paints the passage of the 2030 Bike Plan as a climactic moment for the BTA and characterizes the plan's 5-0 support from City Council as demonstration of the organization's clout.

"For the BTA, unanimous council approval, which came after a second hearing Feb. 11, marked the greatest triumph in the organization’s 20-year history and its evolution into a significant political force at City Hall."

The article also details how the BTA is "in the midst of turmoil" due to many top-level staffing changes in the past year including the firing of former lobbyist Karl Rohde (a move which Oregon State Rep. Jules Bailey told Jaquiss "put the nail in the coffin" of a failed attempt to pass the Idaho Stop Law in 2009), and former executive director Scott Bricker.

"Roberts says the decision to let Bricker go is part of a broader shift to more aggressive advocacy."

On Bricker, BTA Board Chair Mary Roberts told Jaquiss, "He’s an incredible advocate... But his strengths didn’t match with the strengths that you need as executive director." Jaquiss also reported that, "Roberts says the decision to let Bricker go is part of a broader shift to more aggressive advocacy."

In the story, Jaquiss also asserts that the BTA wields considerable influence in City Hall thanks to a number of staff connections to Metro (Councilor Rex Burkholder founded the BTA and current Board Member Jim Middaugh is Metro's Communications Director) and the office of Mayor Sam Adams (Chief of Staff Tom Miller is a former BTA board member and current Transportation Policy Advisor Catherine Ciarlo is a former BTA executive director).

It's rare that a local newspaper goes into this much detail on the inner workings of bike advocacy in Portland and it's interesting to see Jaquiss's perspective.

Jaquiss also mentions BikePortland.org several times. Read the full story at WWeek.com.


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Comments
  • driving that train February 17, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Fact check please:

    "...more than one in five vehicles that cross a Portland bridge each weekday [is] a bicycle"

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  • Nigel Jaquiss February 17, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for catching that error. The sentence should have read "cross the Hawthorne Bridge..." rather than "a Portland bridge..."

    I'll correct it online and in the next print edition.

    Nigel Jaquiss
    Willamette Week

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