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At City Hall rally, demonstrators demand action for safer streets

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
aaron brown wide angle
City Council members heard calls for safer streets loud and clear this morning.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)
Brittany Gratreak

If the 75 or so Portlanders who came to City Hall this morning to kick off a full day of protests could be said to be speaking for any single person, it might as well have been one of the people there: Brittany Gratreak.

On April 8, the 22-year-old Portland State University student was riding her bike to school in Northeast Broadway’s bike lane when a man driving to work accelerated across Broadway from the south, seizing a gap in auto traffic but not considering the fact that he might run into something more fragile than metal. He did.

Gratreak was hit at a 90-degree angle, thrown from her bicycle and knocked unconscious. Once she woke up and received insurance information from the man who’d hit her, she decided to save money by calling a friend, rather than an ambulance, for a ride to the hospital.

She didn’t know at the time that by not paying for an ambulance ride, she was avoiding Portland’s little-known trigger for a police investigation. Two months later, Gratreak remains in physical therapy.

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Portlanders plan safe streets rally at City Hall on Wednesday (6/24)

Friday, June 19th, 2015
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A scene from the “Build It” rally at City Hall back in February 2010.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Saying Portland already knows how to increase safety on its streets and can get to work immediately without further study, the advocacy group BikeLoudPDX is organizing what looks like Portland City Hall’s first rally in five years on behalf of bicycling improvements.

“It doesn’t take money, it just takes political will. And the rally is to give them the political will to do it now.”
— Ted Buehler, BikeLoudPDX

So far, more than 100 people say they’re planning to attend the Wednesday morning event.

“There’s a real danger that Vision Zero can just be prolonged indefinitely if they keep on studying it,” BikeLoud organizer Ted Buehler said Friday. “But really, they have the tools in their toolbox to do it now. And it doesn’t take money, it just takes political will. And the rally is to give them the political will to do it now.”

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Comment of the Week: Bicycling and the future ‘Golden Age’ of Portland

Friday, March 13th, 2015
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(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

“In a city where two-thirds of people surveyed support safer bike routes, we aren’t falling behind because of opposition, we are falling behind due to a failure to execute.”

Reading my share of the hundreds of terrific comments here over the last week, I’ve noticed a few assuming that because someone is advocating for biking improvements, it must be because those improvements would directly improve their own lives.

It’s hard to dispute that most of us here are motivated in part by self-interest. But this afternoon, reader Chris Anderson made an eloquent case for two big ideas:

  • that bicycling investments are and should be popular because making bicycling fully mainstream actually has the potential to help create a generations-long era of success and prosperity here in Portland for riders and nonriders alike.
  • that bicycling basically doesn’t have any organized enemies to speak of.

It’s a bold couple of claims, but I was inspired. See what you think.

(more…)

Amanda Fritz touts street funding plan and hopes for third term

Thursday, January 29th, 2015
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Commissioner Amanda Fritz in 2011.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The 2016 election cycle is revving up all over the country, Portland City Hall included.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz surprised many local political pundits yesterday when she announced her plans to seek a third term. The announcement came the same day that the once-marginalized city council member won a 4-1 vote to dedicate 50 percent of surplus money over the next four years to “infrastructure maintenance and replacement” for roads, parks and emergency services.

The Oregonian reports that Fritz’s proposal will apply to “one-time funding identified during the annual budget process or excess money carried from one budget to the next.” It’s apparently intended as a sort of make-up call for the city’s infamous failure to follow through on a 1988 plan to dedicate 28 percent of utility license fees for transportation.

Opposing Fritz’s measure was her colleague Dan Saltzman, who said the council was “setting ourselves up to be criticized” by attempting to tie the hands of future councils.

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Commissioners Fish and Fritz warm to income tax to pay for streets

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
council work session novick fritz hales fish
Portland’s city council speaks with staff Monday about the “Our Streets PDX” proposal.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Can Portland’s proposed transportation income tax count to three?

In the political tea leaves of Portland’s five-member city council, three is the magic number. And the tenor of Monday’s hearing on the city’s proposed tax suggested that consensus is building. But the vote seems likely to hinge on who would pay how much.

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Does it matter if politicians ride?

Friday, May 30th, 2014
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Empty bike racks at Portland City Hall.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

In a downtown brimming with bike commuters, there’s still one Portland workplace that currently posts a solid 0 percent bike commute rate: City Council chambers.

Portland’s five city commissioners aren’t opposed to bicycling by any stretch. But, since former Mayor Sam Adams left the council in 2012, none of the city’s leaders regularly spends time on a bike — specifically time that’s not at a special event (like Sunday Parkways, which is far from real-world conditions) or a parade or in some other type of controlled environment.

Does that matter? Does a lack of exposure to real urban cycling conditions make it harder for politicians to understand and care about bicycle issues?

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Profile: Nicholas Caleb, lonely voice for better biking in race for council

Monday, May 19th, 2014
City Council Candidate Nicholas Caleb hands out signs in support of a citywide minimum wage hike in a demonstration on 82nd Avenue last month.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The best way to understand the only vocally pro-bike candidate in tomorrow’s city elections might actually be to watch him drive a car.

“I drive at 20 mph, 25 mph inside the city at all times,” Nicholas Caleb said in an interview this month. “I just don’t think it’s safe. And I don’t care if people are beeping at me.”

As a campaign that calls, on every one of its signs, for a $15 minimum wage — volunteers favor the green and white version when they’re campaigning downtown, red when they’re in East Portland — the 30-year-old Concordia College adjunct professor’s two-month sprint of a city council race has certainly drawn a lot of beeps.

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Water and sewer reform measure could curb street safety projects

Thursday, May 1st, 2014
Before (left) and after (right) a “green street” project that both improved storm drainage and diverted auto traffic on the NE Klickitat Neighborhood Greenway.
(Photos: City of Portland)

As ballots arrive today in Portland mailboxes for a hard-fought ballot initiative (Measure 26-156) that would remove water, sewer and stormwater overflow operations from city oversight, one issue has attracted little notice in the billion-dollar battle over managing the city’s pipes.

That’s the comparative trickle of stormwater management fees that have been used not for pipes and gutters but for in-street bioswales — the basins lined with native plants that clean local rivers by reducing storm runoff. These bioswales also double as traffic-calming islands and intersection diverters that improve bike safety. It’s that transportation safety element that led former Portland Mayor Sam Adams to call the bioswales a “double win” and set aside $20 million for their construction as part of the Bike Plan for 2030 when it was adopted in 2010.
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Commissioner Steve Novick gets PBOT bureau assignment

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
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Portland’s new Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Mayor Charlie Hales has just announced the city bureau assignments and he’s given the Bureau of Transportation to Commissioner Steve Novick. Another bureau shake-up that impacts bicycling is Portland Parks & Recreation now being in the office of Commissioner Amanda Fritz instead of Nick Fish.

Hales took all the bureaus under his authority when he came into office in order to more effectively tackle a major city budget shortfall.

The assignment of PBOT to Novick is good news. I do not have a lot of experience working with Novick (he’s a City Council rookie); but I’ve been hearing from various sources for months that he’s very solid on transportation issues, that he gets the big picture, is very supportive of bicycling and walking, and won’t be afraid to try new things. Novick, who graduated from Harvard Law School at age 21, is also known as someone with a sharp policy mind. (more…)

Mayor Hales asks PBOT Director Tom Miller to resign – Updated

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013
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Tom Miller speaking at a conference
in Salem back in April.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Willamette Week reported on New Year’s Eve that Mayor Charlie Hales has asked Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Director Tom Miller for his resignation.

According to the Willamette Week, the resignation letter is due on February 4th, which is the day city bureau budgets are due. However, The Oregonian reported today that Miller has already handed in the letter. What this means for the ongoing budget process (which Miller has spearheaded), remains to be seen (Miller will retain his post until February 4th.) Miller has not made any official comment about the news yet, but we’re expecting to hear more from him this week.

This move by Hales isn’t a complete surprise; but it seems to have been much more abrupt than expected. Back in March while on the campaign trail, Hales told The Oregonian that he didn’t plan on keeping Miller around if he won the election. “This isn’t personal,” he told The Oregonian, “There are major issues in the bureau, and it needs a fresh and fully qualified leader.” (Mayoral candidate Eileen Brady also called for a change in PBOT leadership.)
(more…)

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