Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on March 31st, 2010 at 9:11 am
As a follow-up to my post about the importance of showing up to your local bike boulevard open house, I thought I’d share the perspective of Brighton West. Brighton is a reader who attended the open house last night for the SE 101st Avenue project where he encountered “a number of vocal bicycling opponents.”
Brighton was worried at the outset of the meeting, but things changed when one brave soul spoke up in support of biking. I asked Brighton to share more about how the meeting went:
The meeting started with one elderly resident declaring that “It didn’t matter what the neighborhood wanted, the city is just going to do what Sam Adams wants.” PBOT’s Mark Lear and Kyle Chisek handled the crowd well, not allowing a couple of vocal individuals too much influence. But the majority of the crowd was quiet and the drum beat of “don’t restrict my driving” was prevalent until one gentleman from the back of the room spoke up.
“With just this lone cyclist willing to stand up against the vocal opponents, the meeting turned a corner… The reality is that car drivers outnumber cyclists in Portland. So each meeting will have a large number of residents that don’t ride bikes.”
“We’ve heard from the people that drive cars, but let me give my perspective as a cyclist.” He continued to talk about how he took elementary students on bike field trips to the Springwater trail, and how the new plan to stripe a one block long buffered bike lane would make them much more comfortable on their bikes in the most challenging part of their ride.”
With just this lone cyclist willing to stand up against the vocal opponents, the meeting turned a corner. Two other cyclists stepped forward explain their support of the plan and a number of neighborhood residents said they were glad the city had come out to explain the project and they thought the plan was a good idea.
After the meeting I spoke with cyclist that stepped forward and I found this was the second meeting he attended. In the first meeting, the crowd was so angry about how car lanes had been replaced with bike lanes on Holgate that he was afraid to step forward. I thanked him for stepping forward to show the people in the room that cyclists are their neighbors, they are the teachers at the school, and they deserve a safe way to get from place to place. By stepping forward he opened up a space where other more moderate neighbors were comfortable showing their support for the project.
The reality is that car drivers outnumber cyclists in Portland. So each meeting will have a large number of residents that don’t ride bikes. Last night about 25 people attended the meeting. Just a few rational cyclists were able to change the outcome of the meeting. If Portland is to become a world class cycling city, now is the time for cyclists to show up at these public meetings and show support for these plans.
For an updated schedule of upcoming bike boulevard open houses, visit the PBOT website.