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Is Portland the Indianapolis of the future? Six questions for Urbanophile Aaron Renn

Friday, November 7th, 2014
aaron renn
Aaron Renn of Urbanophile.com is rarely
dull and didn’t disappoint.
(Photo: Jin Won (James) Park)

For years, people have been convincing Aaron Renn to share his nuanced opinions about Portland. So last week, he finally decided to visit.

Way back in 1998, Renn launched one of the country’s first blogs so he could cover the Chicago Transit Authority. In recent years he’s been based in Indianapolis, running a data analysis startup and sharing thoughts about cities on his website Urbanophile.com and elsewhere.

After Renn returned to Indianapolis, we caught up with him by phone to get his perspectives on the truths and fictions of Portland’s reputation, the ups and downs of our bike infrastructure and his intriguing theory that Portlanders have an existential problem: we might be too similar to each other to have useful disagreements.

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PBOT Director Leah Treat on pricing auto use, bike-only streets, and more

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
PBOT Director Leah Treat
PBOT Director Leah Treat last summer.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Nine months into her position as the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Leah Treat appears to be finally ready to spread her wings. We’ve noted here at BikePortland that for someone in charge of one of America’s marquee transportation systems, and someone who came to town with such fanfare, Treat has been relatively quiet in laying out any sort of vision for what she wants Portland streets to look like.

But now, finally, we have reason to believe that might be changing.

Next Tuesday (4/22), Treat is slated to speak at the Sentinel Hotel as part of a partnership between the City of Club of Portland and the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. With the title of her talk being, Portland Transportation: Today & Tomorrow, this event will likely be the first major policy speech of her tenure.

Given all this, we figured it was a good time to sit down for an interview to learn more about what she’s been thinking and how her leadership might impact cycling and local street culture in general. Due to sickness (mine) and scheduling, we ended up chatting on the phone yesterday and we only had limited time. Even so, we covered some good ground and you can read our conversation below… (more…)

Interview with ODOT Director Matt Garrett (Part 2)

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
ODOT Director Matt Garrett-1
ODOT Director Matt Garrett, photographed in Salem.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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An interview with ODOT Director Matt Garrett (Part 1)

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
ODOT Director Matt Garrett-2
The director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, Matt Garrett, in his office in Salem.
(Photos © J. Maus)

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An interview with mayoral candidate Eileen Brady

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Eileen Brady, photographed in BikePortland’s downtown office.

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An interview with mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith

Monday, February 6th, 2012
Jefferson Smith making a point during an interview in our downtown office.

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Q & A with Polly Trottenberg, Asst Sec of Transportation Policy at the USDOT

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Polly Trottenberg, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, speaking at the Sellwood Bridge Project groundbreaking last week. She sat down with me for an interview a few hours later.

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Polly Trottenberg, the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Asst. Sec. Trottenberg was in town to deliver a $17.7 million check for the Sellwood Bridge Project. I caught up with her at Clever Cycles on SE Hawthorne Blvd. We talked about the role of activists, the new era of highway funding, the CRC project, and more.

Below is the transcript of our conversation. (more…)

An interview with mayoral candidate Charlie Hales

Friday, December 9th, 2011
Charlie Hales photographed in my office a few weeks ago.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with candidates for Portland mayor. With the primary elections just about five months away, it’s time to start doing your research and learning more about the people we’ll elect to lead our city. (more…)

The parking/biking trade-off: Q & A with PDC Director Patrick Quinton

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
PBOT wants to create a high-quality, two-way
bikeway on NE Holladay. One of the issues
with the project is how to deal
with on-street parking.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Last month, a representative from the Portland Development Commission (PDC) said they’d oppose any on-street parking removal on NE Holladay as part of a plan to create a high-quality bikeway on that street.

The announcement was a surprise, not just because the PDC is a City of Portland entity, but because parking removal is considered nearly essential to reaching the project’s goal of providing, “comfortable and convenient non-motorized access” from the Rose Quarter through the Lloyd District.
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Interview: Bikes, architecture, and “Cycle Space” with Steven Fleming

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

“100 years ago architects were fascinated by cars and how cars would transform cities… Now, architects are quite naturally looking at bicycles.”

Steven Fleming is an architectural historian, lecturer, theorist, and urban planning philosopher with a thing for bicycles. The well-traveled academic (he calls Newcastle, Australia home) is currently researching a book on what he calls, “Cycle Space,” a nascent field of his creation that looks at the connections between architecture and bicycles in cities around the world.

Like many smart bicycle thinkers tend to do, Fleming put Portland on his list of must-see cities. We sat down for a chat last week surrounded by exquisite handmade bicycles and photography at the Het Fairwheel Podium Gallery in downtown Portland. (When you read his quotes below, say them to yourself with a strong Australian accent.) (more…)

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