city politics

If elected mayor, Ted Wheeler says he’d overhaul transportation bureau

by on November 9th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Safe Sound and Green press event-3.jpg
Then Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler at a
2008 event calling for new local transportation funding.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s current mayoral frontrunner says that if he wins next year, he’ll take over the transportation bureau and rewrite its budget from scratch.

In an interview with Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn, mayoral hopeful Ted Wheeler said the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s current budget is “byzantine” and that its street system is “a patient on the table bleeding to death.”

“As mayor, Wheeler would assign himself the transportation bureau (along with the mayorally expected police bureau), and start redesigning its budget from zero,” Sarasohn reported in a column published Friday afternoon.

Portland’s mayor doesn’t have many actual powers beyond those of the other four commissioners on the city council. The main difference is that it’s up to the mayor to decide which commissioner gets administrative authority over each of the city’s 19 bureaus and offices.

10 biking advocates on Portland’s fast-changing mayoral race

by on October 29th, 2015 at 10:35 am

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-1
Former BTA Advocacy Manager Michelle Poyourow and BTA
Deputy Director Steph Noll: undecided voters.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Last week, the spring 2016 race for Portland mayor looked like a hard-fought duel between two very similar people. On Monday, when Mayor Charlie Hales dropped out, it briefly raised the possibility of a coronation for the remaining major candidate, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.

By Wednesday, it once again seemed clear that this will be a race. State House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, former Metro Councilor Robert Liberty and Portland Association of Teachers President Gwen Sullivan said they’re considering runs. Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Multnomah County Chief Operating Officer Marissa Madrigal have both been conspicuously silent so far.

Amid all this, we wondered what the city’s bike advocates have been thinking. So we asked a bunch of them.


Six bike-related issues that might take a turn with Hales out of the race

by on October 26th, 2015 at 3:26 pm

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As Hales plans an exit, which way will the race turn?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Monday’s surprise announcement by Mayor Charlie Hales that he won’t run for reelection is rippling through the city’s transportation wonkosphere.

Portland’s unusual City Hall system means that the transportation commissioner (currently Commissioner Steve Novick) has much more power than the mayor on most streets issues. His transportation authority was delegated from the mayor, so the next mayor’s biggest decision may be who gets to oversee the roads.

But aside from that, Mayor Hales has been personally involved in a handful of subjects that matter a lot to bike transportation. Here’s how we see his departure from the race shaping things.


As city council weighs bike share agreement, three of five votes look certain

by on September 16th, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Portland City Council
Portland’s city council: Steve Novick, Amanda Fritz, Charlie Hales, Dan Saltzman, Nick Fish.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

A half-hour city council hearing Wednesday on Portland’s proposed bike sharing system raised some questions but, seemingly, few serious concerns.

With a formal vote lined up next week, Commissioners Steve Novick and Nick Fish, along with Mayor Charlie Hales, all spoke warmly about the proposal.

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman didn’t seem to be raising major objections, though both asked pointed questions: Fritz about safety and Saltzman about money. Saltzman in particular seemed upbeat about the plan. Neither offered a closing comment Wednesday, leaving themselves plenty of room to back away from the deal if they decide to.


Mayor Hales pedals to work and makes a coffee-shop campaign stop

by on September 14th, 2015 at 9:16 am

hales ride on
Mayor Hales shows off his new helmet Monday morning.
It’s patterned after the Portland flag.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Two weeks after his first bike commute on the job, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was back in the saddle this morning and ready for coffee with constituents at Ford Food & Drink at Southeast Division and 11th.

The inner-southeast hangout — which is in eyeshot of the new Tilikum Crossing, at once the newest asset to the city’s transport system and a $30 million factor in its transportation funding challenges — shares a building with Nutcase Helmets. The local company’s founder Michael Morrow was on hand to offer Hales a customized model from Nutcase’s new Portlander series.


At City Hall rally, demonstrators demand action for safer streets

by on June 24th, 2015 at 12:44 pm

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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.


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

by on June 19th, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Build It - Bike Plan Rally-23
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.”


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

by on March 13th, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Cherry blossoms in Waterfront Park-18-17
(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.


Amanda Fritz touts street funding plan and hopes for third term

by on January 29th, 2015 at 3:42 pm

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.


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

by on October 14th, 2014 at 9:16 am

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.