Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Families, freeways, among topics as Carfree Conference kicks off

Posted by on June 17th, 2008 at 1:53 pm


Hard at work in a street
redesign workshop.
Photo Gallery
(Photos © J. Maus)

After depaving a former parking lot in North Portland yesterday, the Towards Carfree Cities Conference marched on this morning at Portland State University.

The first half of the program dealt with two topics of major interest to urban planners (and anyone interested in healthy communities): families and freeways.


Kent Petersen, a bike advocate
from Issaquah, Washington.

A Dead Freeways ride left from the Park Blocks outside PSU to examine former freeways (Harbor Drive) and freeway ramps to nowhere (some were built for the Mt. Hood Freeway — a project that was defeated before it ever broke ground.) Those who remained at the conference, were treated to a discussion of that infamous Mt. Hood Freeway as well as its modern day cousin (in some ways) — the Columbia River Crossing project.

Coalition for a Livable Future director Mara Gross, Metro Councilor Robert Liberty, and transportation advocate and head of the Swan Island Transportation Management Association led a lively discussion of the CRC. Faces in the crowd included former Portland city council candidate Chris Smith, Congressman Earl Blumenauer staffer Meeky Blizzard, and council hopeful Amanda Fritz, who’s in a run-off campaign against Charles Lewis (she was taking notes).


Swan Island TMA director Lenny Anderson (L)
and Metro Councilor Robert Liberty

During the Q&A session, Chris Smith asked Robert Liberty to explain why his colleague, Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder, has been supportive of the CRC project (a question many of you have wondered as well). Watch and listen to Liberty’s answer below:

Blumenauer staffer Meeky Blizzard was asked why her boss hasn’t chimed in on the CRC project. Blizzard said,

“This is a regional decision. As a member of Congress, he is representing the region’s wishes on this project. He has some large concerns about it, but it’s not his decision to make… The region needs to come together on these things and if people have concerns about the CRC… they need to make those concerns known to their elected officials to help shape the process… so, take that to heart.”


The crowd at the carfree family panel.

Downstairs from the CRC discussion, the topic was carfree families. The expert panel included columnist Marion Rice, Urbanmamas co-founder Olivia Rebanal, director of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition Lynn Lindgren-Schreuder, Paul Adkins from Bike Friday, and Angela Koch from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance.

One woman asked the panel, “Would it be safe, or would I be irresponsible to take my child in a trailer from North Portland to PSU?”. The answer was a resounding no, and several people (in addition to the panelists) spoke up to say, “We do it!”.


Olivia Rebanal (L) and Marion Rice.

There’s definitely a buzz in the air. That’s probably due to the fact that not too long ago, “carfree” seemed like a fringe, radical concept for most people. But today, with a perfect storm of factors making much of America rethink their transportation choices, carfree is much more mainstream.

In a few minutes, the keynote speeches will begin. Scheduled to appear are the executive director of the League of American Bicyclists Andy Clarke and carfree city advocate Gil Penalosa.

More coverage to come. For now, check out more photos from the Carfree Conference Photo Gallery.

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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

  • Matt Picio June 17, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    And Andy Clarke just gave Jonathan smoe serious praise when talking about Portland\’s Platinum rating and all of our collective accomplishments. Pretty cool, and I know Jonathan is too modest to admit it here.

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  • Dan Kaufman June 17, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I you can\’t make it in person watch it live here:

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  • Michael M. June 17, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Ok, I watched the Liberty clip … and I still don\’t understand why Burkholder supports the CRC project. What am I missing?

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  • Graham June 17, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I tried to watch the Liberty clip, but got a: \”this video is no longer available.\”

    Speaking of problematic things, is anyone else having trouble with delays in comments appearing, or comments not appearing at all? I see that moderation is enabled, but for a while there I was seeing my comments appear instantly. Is the moderation a new development?

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  • Graham June 17, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    OK, this time my comment appeared instantly :). It wasn\’t working earlier on the naked bike ride thread, though.

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  • Graham June 17, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Ai yi yi, now the YouTube clip is working for me too.


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