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Mr. Watzig responds to feedback on his bike platform

Posted by on November 27th, 2007 at 6:44 pm

“I would welcome community input to determine whether or not it is feasible and safe to allow bicyclists to roll through a right turn…on all stop signs…”
–mayoral candidate Gerhard Watzig

This morning I wrote about Portland’s latest candidate for mayor, Gerhard Watzig. My story relied on information gleaned from Watzig’s campaign website and a comment he left on Commissioner Sam Adams’ blog several months ago.

The story inspired many of you to contact Mr. Watzig to air your dissatisfaction about his views on bikes.

A few minutes ago, I received an email (and a photo, both are below) from him with a subject of “A humble response to your readers”. In that email, he admits that he “may be misinformed on bicycle issues” and he tried to clarify several of his controversial opinions.

Portland mayoral candidate Gerhard Watzig, un-curmudgeonly cruising through his Northeast Portland neighborhood.
(Photo courtesy Mr. Watzig)

From considering a stops-as-yields law for cyclists, to criticisms of the Police Bureau’s enforcement practices, read more from Watzig in his email below (emphasis mine):

Dear Jonathan,

Wow! From the feedback on your blog and the emails I have been receiving, it appears I may be misinformed on bicycle issues. My platform states that I will be open and willing to listen to ALL citizens and their concerns.

I want you and your fellow readers to know I am truly not anti-bicycle, and legitimately concerned with bicycle safety.

Let’s start with my idea of not allowing bicycles on certain thoroughfares. My concern as a NE Portland resident is with the new Sandy Blvd street improvement from Hollywood to the Burnside interchange. This new construction did not, for whatever reason, accommodate bicyclists on an important thoroughfare, which conveniently cuts diagonally across Portland.

The new design has several choke points that I feel are extremely dangerous because the street is so narrow in these areas. This hardly allows a car and bus to pass, let alone a car, bus and bicyclist to pass. I realize this is highway 30, a state highway, and most of the funding came from state highway funds. I ask you where was the input from the City of Portland and Sam Adams, the transportation commissioner when the street was re-designed? Now it is even more dangerous to bicyclists.

This was one of the streets that I thought would be safer for bicyclists to use an alternative route, and I would like to know what you and your advocates would propose to solve that problem?

Secondly, there will never be enough dollars in the city budget to fund all the projects for all the interest groups. I felt that a contribution through licensing bicyclists could be dedicated to solving some of these transportation problems and also give more ownership to the bicycle community for their infrastructure.

I personally own a bicycle, admittedly for only recreational usage on nice days to pedal through the quiet streets in my neighborhood to a local coffee shop. I also am a motorcyclist and ride extremely defensively. I know whether you’re riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, there is no defense against a 4000+ pound vehicle.

I also realize that for every reckless bicyclist, there are hundreds of reckless oblivious motorists. I would suggest there needs to be a great deal more education and traffic enforcement.

In the mornings on our way back from the flower market, we drive across the Broadway Bridge. There is a stop sign on NE Flint and Broadway that bicyclists frequently blow, and I see police traffic enforcement ticketing these bicyclists. To me, that particular intersection is not a safety issue. I think a yield sign (for bicyclists) in place of a stop sign at that intersection would be more conducive to bicyclists, as Flint is an alternative route to the other street I had concerns with bicycle safety: MLK Blvd.

The enforcement just to write citations to get your point across is not productive towards garnering bicycle safety. In fact it is ludicrous. I would welcome community input to determine whether or not it is feasible and safe to allow bicyclists to roll through a right turn, from bicycle lane to bicycle lane on all stop signs, provided they yield to pedestrians.

I realize I may have come out strong on Sam Adams’ blog about the size of the bicycle community. I welcome that constituency growing and becoming very large.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and for also posting information about me on your blog. I hope that your readership will not see me in the light of an old curmudgeon. You really have a wonderful site, and I look forward to reading it frequently to discover more concerns of the bicycle community.

Cheers,

Gerhard Watzig

I applaud Mr. Watzig for attempting to clarify his positions and for his humility and willingness to engage the community this way. He seems open to learning more and that’s often half the battle.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

59 Comments
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    Jason November 27, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Hmmm…you know, I don\’t have anything against Mr. Watzig, but there is an assumption in his response that I need to challenge.

    \”This hardly allows a car and bus to pass, let alone a car, bus and bicyclist to pass.\”

    Wow, you know that means that he thinks that bicycles are the lowest priority in terms of transportation? Since our gas $$$ pay for the bullets and bombs that are killing our soldiers, shouldn\’t Mr. Watzig consider *automobiles* to be the lowest priority? Shouldn\’t he have said,

    \”This hardly allows a bike and bus to pass, let alone a bike, bus and automobile to pass.\”

    Just another reactionary middle-aged bicyclist grousing…

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    trailmike November 27, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    I too appreciate his response, and his willingness to listen to the bike community. Nice case of open mouth, insert foot.
    Interesting that he points out that intersection of Flint and Broadway. Of all the stop signs I \’yield\’, that is not one of them. That seems to me one of the more dangerous intersections in town. I too see bicyclists fail to stop here daily and I worry for every one of them.
    If nothing else, I hope this puts the bike community in the hot seat of the debate between these two candidates. We\’re real, we\’re growing in numbers daily and we\’re building a name for this city across the nation. We should be a big part of what happens in elections from now on.

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    true November 27, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    I\’m all for educating political hopefuls on issues they may not have been previously focused on, and the cycling \’community\’ is but one of many contending constituencies that will yap and bark at anyone crazy enough to run for mayor, but what always happens when a politician – or a hopeful politician – gets called on something? They come back all teddy bears and smiles. \”I was misunderstood, I was misquoted, I\’m sure there were WMD\’s somewhere, I love bicycles…\”

    \”I\’m sick and tired of paying so much attention to so few\” is now \”I am truly not anti-bicycle.\”

    I don\’t know the gentleman, and I am not passing total judgment until I hear much more, but doesn\’t the \”sick and tired\” part sound much more genuine than the come-back?

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    Slick November 27, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    His outreach is admirable and I am convinced he wants to do the right thing. However, he misses too many details. Sandy is no longer a state highway. Broadway and Flint is a high accident spot. He seems like a potential friend to cyclists who is simply not ready to be mayor.

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    Coyote November 27, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    twisting this a little….Perhaps I would like to hear from Mr. Watzig, what would have to change for him to stop using his car so much and start using his bike for more than coffee? Are those changes compatible with his civic vison of Portland?

    I would also love to hear the provanance of the sir name Watzig.

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    a.O November 27, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I also applaud Mr. Watzig\’s willingness to clarify his positions in response to our feedback.

    Unfortunately, it is now clearer than ever to me that Watzig is indeed misinformed on bike issues, has no coherent policy for facilitating bicycling as a viable transportation option, and is thus a poorly qualified candidate for Mayor of Portland, especially in comparison to the dedication, experience, and knowledge of Sam Adams.

    To wit:

    The enforcement just to write citations to get your point across is not productive towards garnering bicycle safety. In fact it is ludicrous.

    Where to start? My initial reaction is: This guy is the one running for Mayor? That\’s a sad commentary on the our community and in the knee-jerk reactions that recent fatalities and injuries of cyclists at the hands of motorists has garnered. (On the other hand, LOL, it gives me hope that I could be Mayor some day!)

    First, this sentence barely makes sense and is not grammatically correct. I know we don\’t all get our grammar exactly right each time we post on the Internets, but one would reasonably expect that a Mayoral candidate would take enough care to make public statements correctly.

    Second, enforcement of laws sends the message that cyclists belong on the roads, consistent with their rights, and that it is not acceptable to injure and kill cyclists by negligently operating a motor vehicle.

    Why is this not productive? Why is this ludicrous? The position is not explained at all. We have no idea why Watzig feels this way. I have learned nothing from reading this statement.

    Mr. Watzig, with all due respect sir, you are doing a disservice to yourself, your business, and the people of Portland by running for Mayor. There are far better informed, more experienced, and more qualified candidates for the position.

    I understand that you are not, or at least aspire not to be, a curmudgeon. And I appreciate that. However, I feel you are more aptly described as \”clueless.\” I welcome further discussion with you on the important safety issues facing bicyclists in Portland, but I feel you should spend more time listening and learning before you presume to be our Mayor.

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    N.I.K. November 27, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    \”I\’m sick and tired of paying so much attention to so few\” is now \”I am truly not anti-bicycle.\”

    But don\’t you see? You can push for drastic changes -even ones which run in opposition to a particular concern, cause, or subject- and still, technically, not be in opposition to said concern, cause, or discussion as a whole! For instance, just because I think Mr. Watzig sounds like he would jump the gun on issues he doesn\’t understand and thus would make him a crap mayor whose candidacy I would oppose in every way/ shape/form doesn\’t mean I\’d call for riding him out of town on a rail.

    Really, it\’s remarkably simple!

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    a.O November 27, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Oh, I almost forgot: SAM FOR MAYOR!!!

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    Klixi November 27, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Say what you want about him, but Mr. Watzig has a heart of gold. To step forth (and so quickly) with such humility speaks so much for this guys\’ character. I may be speaking too soon, but I don\’t think anyone has much of a fighting chance against Sam Adams becoming the next mayor of Portland. That\’s just how I see it – I may be wrong.

    I don\’t know where Mr Watzig stands on the other issues although I\’m now eager to learn more because there is far more to a good quality of life than -JUST- bicyles, although for me that is a large part too. Sam has been by the sides of cyclists for too long now for anyone, no matter how much of a bike advocate they may be, to seem more credible to other cyclists. Again, just my opinion

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    Klixi November 27, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    a.O I think you are the one who is misinformed here. The citations Mr Watzig was speaking of refers to ticketing cyclists for rolling through stop signs, not ticketing automobiles. There is a stark difference, and I agree with Mr Watzig on that.

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    a.O November 27, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    That sounds like it might be right, Klixi. My apologies.

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    Siobhan November 27, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Where is his bike helmet?

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    Aaron November 27, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Mr. Watzig;
    I appreciate your interest in running for Mayor and your willingness to contribute to our city. However I do not believe that you are experienced enough in the political process or in the unique qualities that make Portland such a wonderful city.
    I have worked with Sam Adams for several years and he is the first politician I have ever met who I can honestly say \’I trust him.\’
    For example, I appreciate your willingness to reconsider your position on bicycling issues however you are not aware that Sandy is no longer a state highway, and Broadway & Flint is actually a very dangerous intersection. I agree with you that there needs to be a higher degree of education for all roadway users. You can learn more about these issues not only at bikeportland.org but also at my website:
    http://www.yourbodypower.org
    Sam has shown a strong willingness to use diplomacy and courtesy when working on controversial proposals (such as the Burnside couplet). He has also shown a passion for pushing Portland towards a more energy efficient infrastructure (water, power, sewer, etc).
    I am in no way convinced that you have real world experience in the complexities of providing basic services to a city of 600,000 people.
    I hope that you will continue to learn and expand your understanding of the city so that you can be a positive contribution to our city.

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    Klixi November 27, 2007 at 9:14 pm

    a.O no worries, I see how you made the mistake. I agree with your comments about his bad grammar too. Posting on a message board is one thing, but when you (in this case, Mr. Watzig) are running for public office it is crucial to make sure your point is very clear – and I must admit that I had to re-read several passage in Mr. Watzig\’s letter to decipher just what he meant.

    Yet, on the other hand, I think it really says a lot about this guys good nature to quickly respond to our concerns, grammatical flaws and all, rather than have some committee construct a bunch of well written fluff to try to ease cyclists concerns while not admitting he was misinformed. He admitted fault right from the get-go, which is so rare from politicians these days.

    Sam still has my vote though 😛

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    brodie November 27, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Yeah, just to second some of what is being said already, he did a good job by reaching out to the cyclist community, but he is certainly nowhere near ready to represent us.
    Glad he\’s open to changing his mind, though.

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    BURR November 27, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Hey, I\’m down with Mr. Watzig\’s concerns. Pinch points on arterial streets created by the inappropriate construction of curb extensions which are not amenable to cyclists is an unfortunate faux pax on the part of PDOT. NE Sandy Blvd is a perfect example of this subpar engineering design exercise.

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    Jon November 27, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I\’m with him on cyclists on major roads. Why do people choose to ride down arterials when there are so many other pleasant alternatives? It just kills me to see cyclists riding on Hawthorne when they are just a few feet away from two of the most pleasant bike routes available anywhere (Lincoln and Salmon)! Why ride down a noisy and dangerous road when there is a such a beautiful and peaceful alternative so close nearby?

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    wsbob November 27, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Watzig does deserve credit for responding so promptly to comments arising from news of his candidacy reported in this article. It takes courage and confidence to do that.

    Even so, his having done this doesn\’t yet fully counter damage he\’s done to the potential level of support that a more positive, balanced position on cycling would have generated from those that rightfully believe bikes are a very important part of Portland\’s commuting infrastructure.

    In short, his comments to date seem contradictory, as if he\’s alternately trying to coddle first one potential constituency and then the other. I can just imagine that he may have got the idea for some of those arch viewpoints from some cranky, retired, conservative coffeehop buddies at the shop that he pedals his bike a few blocks to. Politically, that\’s not going to cut it.

    Wake up Mr. Watzig! Siobhan (comment 12…remember who she is Mr. Watzig?)is right…where is your helmet Mr. Watzig? Why would you submit a picture of yourself not wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, to a bicycle weblog followed by many cyclists for whom bike helmets are synonymous with an extra regard for safety when riding on streets in Portland?

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    Mark Ginsberg November 27, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    As Mr. Watzig points out, NE Sandy is a state road, so technically the city counsel has no control over the state parts of it. See SE Powell or the St. John\’s Bridge for other examples of state controlled roadways within the city limits.
    I would hope a mayoral candidate would understand the difference instead of criticizing others for issues not within their job.

    And while he does get points for responding, I read his letter to JMaus as pandering.

    Also all of the experts say that licenses for bicycles will fail b/c of cost issues. that is to say, IT WILL LOSE MONEY. To suggest licensing as a way to generate income just shows a fundamental lack of familiarity with the actual issue and a knee jerk opinion that panders to anti-bikers.

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    Mark Ginsberg November 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    oh, and the \”I look forward to learning about bike issues\” type comment also shows a fundamental lack of current knowledge.

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    mark November 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    Mr. Watzig,
    Your safety concerns are valid, but that alone does not mean they should be legislated.

    Depending on the rider and on the circumstance, riding on Sandy may be a bad idea. But prohibiting this would not be productive, in fact it would be ludicrous.

    Sandy is problematic but the legal issue is not the lack of space for a car, bus and bike to pass. In this situation, bicycles are vehicles entitled to occupy the entire lane. ORS 814.430(2)(c)

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    Steven J. November 27, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Strikes me as backpedaling.

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    joeb November 27, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    I actually don\’t completely object to a licensing fee that goes to bicycle infrastructure although I believe I already pay a fare share. But I also vote for transportation dollars going to as many improvements to bicycle infrastructure as can be identified. It\’s Portland. It\’s the future. I want to see what Sam can do.

    Good response from Watzig. Thanks for listening.

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    Carl November 28, 2007 at 12:22 am

    Jon,
    I\’ll ride down Salmon when there are theaters, bookstores, supermarkets and coffeeshops on that street.

    Same with Ankeny, Tillamook, and countless other bike boulevards…they\’re nice to ride on and they\’ve provided the city with a good bike network bandaid, but at the end of the day they\’re symbols of cyclists being second-class citizens. You don\’t seem to wonder why motorists choose to drive on those roads. Folks who get around by bike deserve direct and safe access to the amenities that make arterials vibrant. Sandy, Burnside, Hawthorne, Powell…those are the streets that should have separated cycletracks on them.

    Why do cyclists ride on arterials? Same reason that motorists do: it\’s faster and it\’s where their destinations are.

    END RANT

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    Antonio Gramsci November 28, 2007 at 1:45 am

    It sounds to me like Watzig still has a certain visceral dislike for cyclists/cycling as a mode of transportation, but has concluded based on the strongly negative response he\’s gotten to his opening salvos that it isn\’t worth it to overly antagonize people who do rides bikes for transportation here.

    Nonetheless, I don\’t see any evidence that he really \”gets it,\” that he has any vision that aligns with the reasons why thousands of new Portlanders have chosen this city to live in.

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    Anonymous November 28, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Steven J, you get the pun award for the day.

    Watzig says, \”The enforcement just to write citations to get your point across is not productive towards garnering bicycle safety.\”

    Awkward sentence structure aside, is Mr Watzig suggesting that citations are an ineffective form of enforcement?

    I would add that our \”point\” is that the law should be obeyed, and when it is not and especially when we are KILLED, there should be some level of investigation and a citation if deemed appropriate.

    Hardly unreasonable or petty I think.

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    nuovorecord November 28, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Boy, after reading some of these posts, I can see why a lot of people think cyclists are jerks.

    There is still a majority of folks out there, even in oh-so-enlightened Portland, who aren\’t really cognizant of the issues surrounding cyclists. Whether or not Mr. Watzig is your first choice for mayor really isn\’t the issue here. He\’s a citizen who, from appearances, has a sincere desire to better understand the concerns we all have regarding cycling in our city. He already rides a bit, so it\’s not like he is totally ignorant. But it\’s obvious from his response that while his heart may be in the right place, there\’s still some education that needs to take place.

    But it seems that a lot of you choose not to educate, resorting instead to criticizing his ideas and dismissing his candidacy out-of-hand. Boy, I\’ll bet he\’s really interested in cyclist\’s opinions now.

    Pogo was right; \”We have met the enemy, and they are us.\”

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    Joanna November 28, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Where\’s his helmet?

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    sh November 28, 2007 at 9:00 am

    What nuovorecord said.

    Occasionally it\’s good to remember that while cycling may be enormous component of your consciousness, this is still NOT true for the larger population. I WANT it to be true, and many are working to promote and advocate for the issues that surround cycling as more than an easily-dismissed recreational choice, yet still, there is a long journey ahead.

    True now however, is the sad lack of civility in the blogging world.

    Watzig\’s response was humble and open — much more so than many who post here and righteously claim their opinion as law. This fellow just made a public effort to understand the cycling community’s view and the first post calls him out as a middle-aged grouser. Nice.

    Attacking the lack of cycling knowledge of someone who has only just been made conscious of cycling in a meaningful way (and had the gumption to respond to feedback on his attitude) is hardly brave, open, or good-mannered. But it *is* a great way to alienate people.

    He doesn\’t understand where it\’s safe to flow through stop signs? It\’s our job to educate him. Even if he doesn\’t have a chance in the election, he\’ll be out speaking to others who also might not understand cycling\’s role in transport — don\’t let self-righteousness (nor an allegiance to Sam Adams) prevent you from engaging in boring but effective ground-level advocacy.

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    Tim November 28, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Anyone who does not hope they are something (I hope that your readership will not see me in the light of an old curmudgeon) is usually over half way into becoming it.

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    Paul Cone November 28, 2007 at 9:06 am

    NE Sandy Blvd IS still part of U.S. Route 30, though the City now maintains it.

    U.S. Route 30 Business

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    Paul Tay November 28, 2007 at 9:11 am

    a.O. et al RE: Comment #6 Just because someone might be MIS-guided about bikes doesn\’t DIS-qualified him from running for ANY public office in Portland OR America.

    Democracy doesn\’t discriminate against the IGNORANT. In fact, IGNORANCE is what makes AMERICA GREAT. A country I\’m willing to tolerate over some third-world, third-rate despotic dictatorship masquerading as benign royalty.

    Mr. Watzig should be applauded for his willingness to take the time to run. How many of you have EVER ran for public office to use the elections as a political platform against ALL things that ail bicycling?

    Mr. Watzig spoke his peace. We took him to task for it. Controversy is INHERENT in the Great American Democracy, right?

    The right to vote. The right to run for public office. The right to dissent. Aren\’t those ideals what makes us all Americans, whether we ride a bike or drive a car?

    I think Mr. Watzig did a great job of responding. Of course, he probably needs a bike policy Karl Rove type in his campaign. And, I\’ve APPLIED for the job on watzig dot com.

    But, the fact remains. He IS the CANDIDATE. Last time I checked, he\’s got a permit, a license, to say just about ANYTHING he wants. You have the right to DISAGREE. It\’s called the First Amendment.

    Now, I\’ll address some of his issues with bikes.

    Let’s start with the idea of not allowing bicycles on certain thoroughfares, the new Sandy Blvd street improvement from Hollywood to the Burnside interchange. This new construction did not, for whatever reason, accommodate bicyclists on an important thoroughfare, which conveniently cuts diagonally across Portland. This was one of the streets that I[Watzig] thought would be safer for bicyclists to use an alternative route, and I would like to know what you and your advocates would propose to solve that problem?

    First of all, narrowness of the roadway doesn\’t make the roadway UNSAFE. In fact, if the danger is so apparent that ALL users PERCEIVE it as DANGEROUS, then, EVERYBODY is on the lookout, which has the OPPOSITE effect, making the situation even SAFER.

    If the said roadway is so dangerous for slow-moving, lightweight vehicles such as bicycles, why stop at banning bikes? Let\’s ban ALL vehicles, that move at high-speeds and heavier, from the roadway too. Allow only pedestrians. But, ONLY on Sundays, after CHURCH.

    Maybe cars and trucks that have more potential to do more damage should use an alternative route? Naaaaaaaah.

    When roadway design creates a FALSE of security, there is an INSTUTITIONALIZED invitation to disaster, such as the deaths of Brett, Tracy, and the injury of Siobahn, in the bike lanes.

    I won\’t sit here to say that the motorists shouldn\’t be held to account. But, EVERYONE, including the PDX geometric design group, contributed in some way to the disasters. If the bicyclists in question had knowledge of the potential dangers, or PERCEIVED, the dangers of the right hook in bike lane, they could have COMPENSATED.

    Watzig: There is a stop sign on NE Flint and Broadway that bicyclists frequently blow, and I see police traffic enforcement ticketing these bicyclists. To me, that particular intersection is not a safety issue. I think a yield sign (for bicyclists) in place of a stop sign at that intersection would be more conducive to bicyclists, as Flint is an alternative route to the other street I had concerns with bicycle safety: MLK Blvd.

    BOTH bicyclists and motorists behave, or MIS-behave, in ways consistent with how they PERCEIVE the level of danger of roadway design. Instead of inviting MORE opportunities for disasters on this intersection, make the intersection LOOK dangerous. See suggestion No. 1. When the danger is so apparent, the reaction creates the opposite effect TOWARD safety. At the very least, use a roundabout.

    Watzig: I would welcome community input to determine whether or not it is feasible and safe to allow bicyclists to roll through a right turn, from bicycle lane to bicycle lane on all stop signs, provided they yield to pedestrians.

    BOTH bicyclists and motorists SHOULD roll through right turns, as well as the intersection, if there\’s a roundabout. Signalized, stop signs, and yield signs, all do NOTHING, but CORK the intersection. Let EVERYBODY come together at the intersection, watching out for each other, and slowly roll the intersection. It\’s been DONE to DEATH.

    Watzig: I felt that a contribution through licensing bicyclists could be dedicated to solving some of these transportation problems and also give more ownership to the bicycle community for their infrastructure.

    Bicyclists ALREADY do a GREAT public service for Portland, Tulsa, or anywhere we roll in America. For every bicycle on the road, there\’s one LESS 1,500 lb car to break down the pavement. There\’s one LESS car to pollute the air. For all that, we are SECOND-class users of the roadway. So, why CRIMINALIZE the homeless, and the EX-motorists, with REVOKED licenses, with bike licensing, that wouldn\’t even buy the paint used to mark the streets?

    Mr. Watzig, my offer to tow your campaign sign on a trailer towed behind a bicycle still STANDS. WATZIG 4 MAYOR!

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    David Dean November 28, 2007 at 9:13 am

    I agree with sh and nuovorecord.

    I thought his comments on NE Sandy Blvd, along with Mark Ginsberg\’s response, were insightful. I wondered why Sandy took a step back as it was being restructured. It seems like a much more dangerous road now than it was a year ago and definitely wasn\’t built with cyclists in mind. What is with that bike lane on Sandy near I-84 that only extends half a block?

    I disagree that bicycles shouldn\’t be allowed on those roads though. Some cyclists are just as fast as traffic on those roads. Driving down MLK I had a cyclist parallel with me for the entire stretch. I wish my bike could go that fast.

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    "insert clever screenname here" November 28, 2007 at 9:18 am

    he stated that bicyclists have been over represented in city hall….I believe it should stay that way for our voices to be heard because bicyclists are a lot more vulnerable and we also cause a lot less wear and tear on streets

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    N.I.K. November 28, 2007 at 9:19 am

    But it seems that a lot of you choose not to educate, resorting instead to criticizing his ideas and dismissing his candidacy out-of-hand. Boy, I\’ll bet he\’s really interested in cyclist\’s opinions now.

    Phht. It\’s that criticism of his ideas that led to this response in the first place. And that deluge of criticism only came about because the guy chose to speak rather authoritatively about a subject he doesn\’t understand. As far as I\’m concerned, the issue here is not so much about bikey goodness as it is a mayoral candidate demonstrating his tendency to not only hold opinions but rather publicly hold those opinions up as truths without conferring with affected citizens and experts. Turning around and saying, \”Okay, I\’ll listen, and really, I didn\’t mean it like that\” may seem like a nice gesture, but it also speaks volumes about how the guy operates. A carefully considered approach should be the default behavior in a public official, rather than brought out only in the event of public outcry.

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    Paul Tay November 28, 2007 at 9:30 am

    A carefully considered approach should be the default behavior in a public official, rather than brought out only in the event of public outcry.

    Right. But, the man\’s STILL human, right? It\’s a very common newbie politico mistake. I\’ve done it myself MANY times in running for Mayor in Tulsa. I screamed and yelled for more bikes on Tulsa streets, bike cops, and banning cars on Sundays, by towing my campaign sign on a trailer behind a bicycle on the BUSIEST roads during RUSH.

    What happened? Hundreds, no, THOUSANDS, or IGNORANT motorists jammed 911 and talk radio switchboards to grouse, no, YELL and SCREAM, about some village IDIOT \”impeding\” traffic on the Broken Arrow Expressway.

    DEFINITELY not the careful, reasoned default approach in Tulsa politics.

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    Kristen November 28, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Licensing cyclists? That just perpetuates the idea that cyclists don\’t \”pay their fair share\” when in fact, most of us have driver\’s licenses, insurance, own property, pay taxes… seems to me we pay more than our fair share.

    I think Mr Watzig is (or should be) looking for some way for the other road users to report renegade cyclists, like a license plate or other identifies, instead of a biking license.

    Nuovorecord, et al are correct, though: personal attacks and name calling on blogs (and this blog in particular) represent a major step backwards in the dialogue. It only furthers the sterotype of all cyclists being jerks and scumbags like the few that actually behave that way. Thanks, to those of you who persist in using derogatory terms, for making it more difficult for everyone.

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    Paul Tay November 28, 2007 at 10:00 am

    WHAAAAT? Cyclists jerks and scumbags? Naaaaaaaaah.

    Cyclists don\’t jam 911 and talk radio switchboards yelling and screaming about 2 ton Hummers taking up the WHOLE road, or some wild and crazy drunken woman in a blue Dodge pickup who runs over and KILLS five people, leaving them to die in the middle of Memorial.

    Show me one drunken, reckless, wild and crazy, outta controlled bicyclist \’impeding\’ Tulsa traffic during RUSH, I\’ll show you a village IDIOT impersonating Santa during the Tulsa Police Department Annual Award Banquet. 😛

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    bahueh November 28, 2007 at 10:22 am

    sure..he\’s willing to respond when called out…but what else is this guy \”misinformed\” on when it comes to the workings of this city…and how often will he willingly speak out without knowing true facts about the circumstance?

    IMO, not the best way to approach politics and NEVER the best way to approach a job as crucial and Mayor…

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    a.O November 28, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Paul Tay, you live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, right?

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    John Reonhold November 28, 2007 at 10:53 am

    I am a bicycle rider. I ride my bicycle all over Portland. I ride to work and to run errands. My family rides too although not as much as I do.

    But I have to note that I have found the cycling community here to be unfriendly, elitist, and excessively judgemental. Whenever I go to events or gatherings or even many bike shops around town I am treated like I am not a \”real\” cyclist because I don\’t have spandex with sponsors, a fixie, or other hard core \”real\” cyclist gear. I am slightly chubby and don\’t look like a hard core cyclist so I get treated like I am just a curiosity.

    Yet I am always working to get people out of cars, to increase cycling, and to make our city better. I would like to see 20% trips by bike.

    But reading these forums it really looks to me like many of the self professed cycling community are just jerks. And I am on your side!

    Imagine how it looks to the majority of people who don\’t cycle!

    Why do so many of you have to be so negative all the time? Just because you want to vote Sam doesn\’t mean that you have to pooh pooh any one else when they try to learn or work with the community.

    You never know whin a simple act of understanding ad kindness will motivate somone to get out of their car. But each act of rudeness galvanizes someones dislike of cyclists.

    I applaud anyone who wants to take the effort to make Portland better. And I encourage good natured debate.

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    littlewaywelt November 28, 2007 at 11:06 am

    The quality of the letter is irrelevant. Sec Peters\’ response for her commentary was incredibly well crafted and it wasn\’t received very well either.

    The fact is you don\’t make comments like he did originally without having a fair amount of feeling. His original comments are a much more likely indicator of his position on bikes than his conciliatory response.

    If cycling advocacy is a key part of the reasons one votes for one candidate over another, I don\’t see someone in that camp would want to support a candidate that\’s demonstrated hostility to cycling advocacy & interests when there\’s another that hasn\’t.

    This guy isn\’t to be trusted. He made ridiculous commentary and got called on it. He\’s only trying now to prevent a problem. I suspect he doesn\’t care at all about cycling advocacy.

    Fundamentally it\’s clear he views cyclists as a liability not an asset.

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    N.I.K. November 28, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Why do so many of you have to be so negative all the time? Just because you want to vote Sam doesn\’t mean that you have to pooh pooh any one else when they try to learn or work with the community.

    Again: Mr. Watzig didn\’t show any inclination to learn or work with the community until the community backhanded him for making remarks that ranged from misinformed to off-base to downright crass. If he had any real inclination to listen or work with citizens, he would\’ve been asking questions from the outset; instead, he shot his mouth off and then the backlash made him realize that running risk of alienating a substantial minority of potential constituency jeopardizes his campaign. All well and good he wants to talk with us now, but why take him seriously if it took considerable ranchor to get him to bother to engage in a dialog at all?

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    Bjorn November 28, 2007 at 11:20 am

    As a regular rider of Sandy, I agree that it is not one of the most bicycle friendly ways to cross the city, but it is so much shorter than other methods that people do want to ride it. It would be nice to see some improvements to the bike facilities, but closing it is not the answer. If you want more width to allow for safer travel parking could be removed from one or both sides of the street. It doesn\’t make much sense to have parallel parking on sandy anyway as it causes lots of congestion as people try to pull in and out of spaces.

    Bjorn

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    nuovorecord November 28, 2007 at 11:31 am

    All well and good he wants to talk with us now, but why take him seriously if it took considerable ranchor to get him to bother to engage in a dialog at all?

    Did anyone attempt to approach him with anything but disdain and rancor?

    Frankly, I thought he responded in a much better manner than his critics deserved and I\’m surprised that he still cares about what cyclists think. It\’s to his credit that he\’s willing to have a conversation and learn.

    The world is complicated. Politicians don\’t know much about a lot of things. It\’s not unusual to see them make a lot of missteps, both before and after the election. Even Sam Adams, who I support, has made his share of gaffes.

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    wsbob November 28, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Jon Reonhold, no need to feel self conscious or put off by various snooty bike people because you don\’t look like a hard core cyclist. Funky, loose fitting, odd colored non-bike clothes work just fine for me an lots of other people I see on bikes too. I never get a negative response when I drop into the local Bike Gallery or Performance bike shop out my way.

    Regarding Mr. Watzig, candidate for Portland mayor, he\’s only getting the kind of flak any person would get if they stepped into the political arena the way he did, both barrels firing at his own feet. If he really intends to be a serious contender in this game, he\’s going to have to exercise a whole lot more intelligence than he has so far in the way he interacts with the people that he would be working for as mayor.

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    N.I.K. November 28, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Did anyone attempt to approach him with anything but disdain and rancor?

    You miss the point. The guy running for mayor, who aims to serve the public, did not attempt to approach the community until the community approached him.

    Frankly, I thought he responded in a much better manner than his critics deserved and I\’m surprised that he still cares about what cyclists think. It\’s to his credit that he\’s willing to have a conversation and learn.

    I don\’t. Great that he can admit to having made a mistake (or the effective equivalent thereof), but it doesn\’t erase the fact that this guy chose to speak about things he doesn\’t understand or obscure motivations in his original statements. He has not gone back on his suggestion that cyclists are over-represented in our city\’s government, and he\’s still inclined to make statements about various aspects of traffic infrastructure relevant to bicycles while freely admitting that he seldom rides himself. This sends a message of, \”I will make up my mind until addressed specifically.\” And that\’s *not* a good sign to see in somebody running for office, because it suggests that this may be his approach not just in regards to cycling-related issues, but other concerns as well.

    The world is complicated. Politicians don\’t know much about a lot of things. It\’s not unusual to see them make a lot of missteps, both before and after the election. Even Sam Adams, who I support, has made his share of gaffes.

    And that\’s no reason to give them a free pass, even if it is somebody you support. \”Whoops! Butterfingers!\” doesn\’t stop the vase from being broken. Choosing to serve the community through leadership means you should be held to higher standards. Being unaware or uninformed about an issue and then addressing it is a stupid thing for *anyone* to do, but doubly so for one who aims to make a city work.

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    Qwendolyn November 28, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Wait!

    He didn\’t say whether or not he would compete in the Alpenrose mayoral race.

    A clarification from the Watzig campaign is in order!

    We want a clear answer, Watzig. Stop the obfuscations, and runarounds. Will you or will you not race?

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    nuovorecord November 28, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    N.I.K.:

    Would the response to his ideas have been different had he not been running for office? I\’m inclined to think not.

    I think the point is how do we, as advocates for better cycling conditions, hold a dialog with those who don\’t understand the issues. I agree, those running for office should be held to higher standards. And it doesn\’t mean that they get a free pass when they\’re wrong on an issue. But simply hammering on people, regardless of whether or not they\’re running for office, wins us no converts.

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    BURR November 28, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    @ Bjorn #43: I agree that the city should be revisiting the idea of parking removal to make space for bikeways on major arterials. It\’s been 20 years since parking removal was last considered / performed in Portland for this purpose. Unfortunately, the rleatively expensive curb extensions recently constructed along most of NE Sandy act to preserve curbside parking and prevent the use of this space for bikeways.

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    N.I.K. November 28, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I think the point is how do we, as advocates for better cycling conditions, hold a dialog with those who don\’t understand the issues.

    Simple: you tell them what part of their argument exhibits a lack of understanding about an issue and then you explain the issue. There\’s a very popular misconception that this is \”aggressive\” or \”negative\” in the same way as caricature or childish name-calling, but it\’s not. It\’s how you talk about things.

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    J-ROD November 28, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    I appreciate his humility and willingness to dialogue about the issues brought forth. I am glad he admits his recreation-only biking. I now find him to be a more worth-while candidate for mayor and wish all the best to him…..

    SAM FOR MAYOR!

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    Steve Brown November 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Joanna 28 sums it all up. Where is the helmet? The issue about bikes not about the bike. It is about the way we want to live.

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    rev November 28, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    steve brown, (#52)

    are you saying that we shouldn\’t want to live in a society that expects bikers to wear helmets?

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    Amy November 28, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    \”You really have a wonderful site, and I look forward to reading it frequently to discover more concerns of the bicycle community.\” – Mr. Watzig

    Please provide constructive criticism so he as well as others reading this may learn from your concerns.

    My greatest concern is the hazard of a distracted and inattentive driver. How can this be addressed?

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    Amy November 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    “I would welcome community input to determine whether or not it is feasible and safe to allow bicyclists to roll through a right turn…on all stop signs…”
    –mayoral candidate Gerhard Watzig

    Seems like this is not necessary, nor is it improving bicycle safety. Please focus your attention to problems that need to be addressed concerning bicycle safety.

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    Antonio Gramsci November 28, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    What evidence does anyone have that Mr. Watzig is interested in doing anything more than what any reasonably astute person pursuing political office would do when attempting \”damage control\” in the wake of stirring up an unintended hornet\’s nest with some ill-considered statements?

    Jeezus, I would have thought that any adult who ever reads anything about current events at all would have by now gotten up to speed on this simple pattern: politician makes gaffe; politician gets buried in angry faxes; politician backpedals, preferably with a an appropriate photo-op — in this case, a quick literal pedal around the neighborhood on the Schwinn that hangs in the back of the garage unused most of the time.

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    Kristen November 29, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Joann and Steve:

    Mr Watzig appears to be over the age of 16, and a helmet is not required by law for anyone over the age of 16.

    That said, I think wearing a helmet is a good thing, and always wear mine when cycling…. but it\’s not \”THE issue\” here. HOW we want to live, and what sort of community we want to live in is the issue, but not in the form of \”where\’s his helmet\”.

    Mr Watzig, if you get down this far: how\’s about making a serious push for more education for both drivers and riders, and having drivers take a test to renew their licenses instead of just sending in a bunch of money?

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    John Reinhold November 29, 2007 at 10:19 am

    Sorry about the typo on my name in my last post, I was typing on my phone…

    But I think that as more devoted cyclists we have a genuine opportunity to be ambassadors for the entire cycling public.

    I think of that every time I am cycling past a traffic jam. I try to look nice and happy so that people sitting stuck in cars can see how they are sitting there not moving and how I am just gliding along.

    But there are a lot of \”communities\” and \”special interests\” and \”demographics\” in a city. I am pretty sure no candidate can be well versed in all of them.

    I have heard major criticisms of Sam Adams in other places – so while the bike community may think he is all roses, there are other communities who are not so fond of him.

    So while cyclists may be critical of Mr. Watzig, there may be other demographics who think he is the real deal.

    Making Sam Adams a \”single issue\” candidate will not help his campaign… Bikes are important but they are not the whole city…

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