Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 16th, 2011 at 9:14 am
get worse, and people on bikes will
pay the price.
(Photo: Heather Andews)
With massive cuts coming from the Bureau of Transportation, there's one group that is ready to stand up and defend their piece of the pie: maintenance workers. And people who bike should support them, says organizer Erica Askin.
According to a statement released by Laborer's Local 483, PBOT maintenance workers and their community supporters will pack into City Hall this morning to "demonstrate opposition to the proposed $16.2 million in cuts to the Bureau’s ongoing budget."
Askin, who plans to represent the workers with testimony at the City Council meeting this morning, met with PBOT staff yesterday. According to a union spokesperson, Askin brought up two key reasons for protecting the maintenance budget: emergency vehicle access and "cyclists depend on the roads too."
Here's more on that issue from Megan Hise, a communications a support staffer for Laborer's Local 483:
"We typically talk about freight, transit, and cars when we talk about road maintenance, but cyclists use the neighborhood streets, bridges, and arterials (streets like Lombard and MLK) as well. I’m a cyclist and transit rider, and I hate cycling on unimproved or deteriorating road surfaces. With a contracted maintenance budget, the backlog in paving will only get worse. Another issue that converges with this is our changing climate. Freezing temperatures will increase the incidence of potholes. Our city should be investing more in preparation for adverse weather events and increased incidence of potholes, but instead it is proposing draconian cuts."
The workers will also ask Mayor Sam Adams to declare a fiscal emergency in order to "help the impacted workers and to protect the city’s infrastructural assets."
There will also be a strong connection between the union's concerns and the 99%. "The union has also invited allies of the Occupy Portland movement to stand with these workers in sending a message to the mayor that this is an economic emergency for the 99%," reads a statement.
Depending on how the pie gets cut up and sliced, the historic level of cuts being eyed by PBOT will hit every part of the Bureau. The question is, which parts will bear most of the brunt and which parts should be more protected than others?
Laborer's Local 483 says any further cutting of the maintenance budget will not only make road surfaces worse, but deferring maintenance will end up costing the city more in the long run.
Union reps aren't waiting around for the budget process to start to make their voices heard — will bike advocates be next to step up and make their case?
UPDATE: Listen to this audio clip from City Council today. It features a PBOT maintenance staffer who rides his bike to work explaining why people who bike should support the maintenance budget: