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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...)

Business, fun and diversity on the agenda at Oregon Active Transportation Summit

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Oregon Active Transportation Summit-6
Anita Hairston, a transportation policy expert with
PolicyLink, spoke at the 2012 Summit.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Good conferences are like good cities: the most interesting things usually happen between schedules and around edges. For a transportation conference here in Portland, that probably goes double.

The two-day Oregon Active Transportation Summit, which starts one week from Monday, is filling out its schedule and the official agenda has some must-see keynotes and lots of breakout sessions that will be informative and inspirational (if past year's are any indication). But there are two events not on the agenda that you should definitely plan to attend.

Learn more about them below the jump...

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PBOT director says new action plan will include 'Vision Zero' commitment

Thursday, February 13th, 2014
PBOT Director Leah Treat
PBOT director Leah Treat.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland will follow in the steps of Chicago and New York City by setting a schedule to completely eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries no matter the cost, the city's transportation director said in a new interview.

In a two-year action plan a city contractor is about to begin preparing, "Vision Zero will be incorporated for certain," Portland Bureau of Transportation director Leah Treat said in an interview with the KBOO Bike Show broadcast Feb. 5.

"Vision Zero," as the philosophy is known, was first introduced in Sweden in 1997 and has spread to several U.S. cities in recent years. In 2012 it was embraced by the man Treat describes as her mentor, former Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, and it's the centerpiece of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's transportation policy.

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Leah Treat appoints Greg Jones to PBOT deputy director position

Friday, December 20th, 2013

"She found someone she felt she could trust with day-to-day operation of the bureau and could have authority to act in her absence when she's away. Greg knows this place from top to bottom like no one else."
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT Communications Manager.

Six months after taking the helm of Portland's transportation bureau, Director Leah Treat has appointed an agency veteran to take over several major responsibilities. Greg Jones, a planning and project management veteran who has worked for the City of Portland since 1980 is now the deputy director of PBOT. Treat made the appointment official earlier this month.

This is the first time PBOT has had a deputy director since it was formed in 1983. PBOT Communications Manager Dylan Rivera said via a telephone interview yesterday that the move is an acknowledgment of the immense task of managing "one of the largest and most complex bureaus in the City." PBOT has over 700 employees and a $275 million (or so) annual budget that completes a diverse range of projects from a dizzying array of funding sources.

Back in November, Treat told The Oregonian that leading PBOT is a "big job" and that she's "only one person." (more...)

Portland transportation isn't 'stagnating' after all, city director says

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Ride-along SW Broadway-5-3
Riding on SW Broadway in downtown Portland.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Four months after taking charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Leah Treat is walking back an idea she shared in her job interview: the notion that the city's bike infrastructure is "stagnating."

"If I had to go through the interview process again, I would change that to say it's more of a marketing issue," Treat said, according to the edited Q&A on OregonLive.com. "We're still way ahead of the country in the transportation arena, it's just getting lost in the messaging somewhere. So we need to be talking more about the really exciting things that we're doing."

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PBOT director co-stars in Safe Routes Streetfilm

Monday, November 18th, 2013

The best cure for gloominess about the progress of active transportation in Portland is Safe Routes to School.

As the newest Streetsfilm shows, the program has been a huge success here. One in ten Portland youngsters bike to school (ten times the national average) and three in ten walk (three times the average).

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Portland police recover transpo chief's stolen bike

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Beatrice, the battered blue bike stolen from outside the Portland Building last week, is back in the hands of her owner, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat.

Treat broke the news herself on Twitter, early this afternoon:

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City transportation director's bike stolen from outside office

Monday, September 9th, 2013
PBOT Director Leah Treat
PBOT director Treat.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The bike that introduced Portland transportation director Leah Treat to pedal commuting can't catch a break: It's now been stolen once from each of the three cities where she's worked.

Its most recent swipe came some time Thursday night, when Treat cable-locked her blue Breezer Greenway in the loggia outside day care entrance at the Portland Building, where she works.

"Because I had a ton of meetings that night at various places around town, I ended up leaving her overnight," Treat, who joined the bureau in July, wrote in an email Monday. "I now know that wasn't such a smart thing to do."

The bike, which she's named Beatrice, has a white seat, white grips, black fenders and a "LaSalle" parking permit on the front fender.

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City introduces Leah Treat, new Director of Transportation

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
PBOT Director Leah Treat
Leah Treat is now calling the shots at PBOT.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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PBOT Director Leah Treat likes bikes

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Leah Treat's family vehicle.
(Photo @leahtreat on Twitter)

In case it didn't come through in the two stories I've posted about new PBOT Director Leah Treat today, I want to make it clear that she likes bikes. Treat rides bicycles regularly and she's not shy about sharing her appreciation of bicycling with the public. Does this matter? Yes. Does it mean everybody's bike dreams will suddenly come true? No.

As we've unfortunately experienced for the past four-plus years, politics often trumps good policy and projects here in Portland. But that being said, I think Treat's love of cycling and her understanding that bicycling plays a crucial and valuable role in the urban transportation mix, is an extremely important trait that is likely bode very well for Portland's future. This is especially true when her perspective is combined with that of her two bosses — Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales — both of whom are very supportive of bicycling and seem poised to shake up the local transportation status quo.

What evidence do I have that Treat likes bikes? Here are a few things quickly gleaned from the Interwebs...
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