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Portland toasts Platinum with current, former leaders of local bike movement

Posted by on August 8th, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Former Mayor Bud Clark (L)
and Mayor-elect Sam Adams at the
celebration last night.
(Photo: Thomas Le Ngo)

Last night at City Hall, the City of Portland hosted a party to celebrate their achievement of becoming a Platinum-level bike-friendly city.

As attendees gathered around the steps in front of the building and filled commemorative water bottles with root beer out of a Platinum pump, short speeches were made by three leaders who have played major roles in Portland’s biking success story: City Commissioner and Mayor-elect Sam Adams, former Commissioner and now U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, and former Mayor Bud Clark.

Unfortunately I missed the speeches (and the official “Bicycle Friendly Community Day” proclamation), but I did catch up with former Mayor Bud Clark before he rode off.

Platinum celebration at City Hall-65.jpg

Clark was Portland’s mayor from 1985 to 1993. During our brief conversation, he reflected back on his tenure and said, “I just rode my bicycle to City Hall everyday [with a few exceptions when he needed a car], so i just appreciate that this has continued on and that this has been able to happen here in Portland. The time had come.”

Clark than looked back even further into Portland’s bike culture, “Even Henry Pittock [founder of The Oregonian, among other things] was riding a bike in Portland in the turn of the century.”

Clark’s own realization that bikes could be a good thing for our city came during a trip to Amsterdam in 1962.

“We were concerned about health and cholesterol even way back then… and I realized that Amsterdam had the same fat consumption rates as we did but they didn’t have all the heart problems like we’ve got here in the U.S. I thought, heck, that’s the key right there. These people were getting exercise on their bikes all the time!”

Clark isn’t exactly a road warrior, and said he prefers to “ride the back streets”. “I rode over to Southeast Clinton from my house in Southwest the other day,” he said, “and I see all these bicycles streaming across the Hawthorne Bridge. It’s extremely pleasing for me to see that.”

After Bud rode off into the sunset, I spotted several familiar faces in the crowd, all of whom also play extremely important roles in making this a bike-friendly city:

Representing a vast brain trust of bike and traffic safety, advocacy, lobbying, etc… Here’s (from L to R) Mark Lear (PDOT), Scott Bricker (BTA), and Greg Raisman (PDOT):

And then there’s Linda Ginenthal from the Transportation Options arm of PDOT. Linda is still smiling from the awesome success of Sunday Parkways, an effort she led from day one:

And here’s a shot of Police Bureau Traffic Division Captain Larry O’Dea, who’s turning out to be the most promising leader of the all-important Traffic Division in years (and that’s Officer Robert “PoPo” Pickett in the foreground):

Meanwhile, inside City Hall, folks took in the fantastic illustrations of Nate Padavick, an artist who has created a series titled, Portlanders and their Bicycles. Nate, incidentally, will soon be a Portland resident (welcome Nate!).

Platinum celebration at City Hall-74.jpg

Doc and his “City Tall” bike.
Illustration by Nate Padavick.

One of my favorite illustrations in this series is Doc’s “City Tall” bike that was made (aptly enough) in front of City Hall back in June.

Also on display in the atrium of City Hall was a photo show of Portland bike scenes by Rachel Siegel. Rachel is the woman behind the Cycle Seen photo exhibition that was featured in nine locations throughout the city.

There was also cake and free beer (which was gone in record time I was told). Thanks for the party PDOT, but I can’t help but wonder where we go from here?

How about a “10 by 10” campaign that shoots for a citywide 10% bike trip mode split by 2010? Can we do it!?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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steve
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steve

So, when do you suppose we as a platinum city, will begin prosecuting motorists who injure or kill cyclists?

Sam?

Scott?

PoPo?

Anyone?

Portland, where lead is turned to Platinum. Sweet alchemy at last.

Donald
Guest
Donald

Expose yourself to bikes!

Whoop whoop!

Lance P.
Guest
Lance P.

I think we can achieve \”10 by 10\”. Lets all just hope that gas will up and up. Maybe if we are lucky we can surpass the UK and get to $10/gal. As Tom McCall would say, if we all just sacrificed a little more Oregon could become everything we\’ve ever hoped for.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

Steve,

Your passion for this issue is great, but I just want to remind you that, while your comment succeeds in getting its point across, I think if you toned down the schoolyard-bully tone it would have a greater impact.

a.O
Guest
a.O

I was bummed that I missed this, especially since it was only a block away.

I attended the recent City Club discussion with Clark and Katz and Clark was entertaining as usual. His remarks on bikes were particularly interesting. He said his riding got him in great shape \”from the waist down,\” which I thought was pretty funny.

But his most important remarks were about how he tried and failed to get community policing to take hold here in Portland. I really think that type of change in policing is the last piece in the puzzle of making Portland\’s streets safe for bicyclists. There\’s momentum in all the other areas (e.g., education, infrastructure, etc.), and even some here with O\’Dea taking over the Traffic Division, but a change to community policing tactics could bridge the gap that currently exists between the PPB and the community and could make it easier to enforce laws that protect vulnerable roadway users.

There\’s a lot to be proud of, but still more to do.

BURR
Guest
BURR

yeah, let\’s just keep it all nice and warm and fuzzy, and sweep the criticism under the rug; this is Portland after all…

steve
Guest
steve

Not as much impact as an unlicensed driver smashing into you.

Being polite on this matter isn\’t getting it done. These folks are celebrating a victory while ignoring the nagging fact that we keep losing the battles that count. Or worse yet, ignoring them as they are too messy for lobbyists and politicians.

This city is not anywhere near a platinum level, and it does a disservice to the term that we are labeled such.

I think our great numbers here are in spite of the city and it\’s beurocracies, not because of them. Seeing the line-up of barnacles up top has me a bit feisty. I would apologize, but I am not sorry!

Their podium is much larger than mine, and I am certain if they want to rebut my position they are more than capable of doing just that.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”yeah, let\’s just keep it all nice and warm and fuzzy, and sweep the criticism under the rug; this is Portland after all…

BURR,

who\’s sweeping something under the rug?

I love criticism, but i am just trying to improve the tone of criticism on this site.

Please realize that just because I do a positive story about a celebration, does not mean I believe everything is hunky-dory.

BURR and steve, I am just as frustrated as both of you at the pace of change here in Portland. I want bikes to be the #1 priority in every policy and in everything the City does… right now!

But I have also found that if all you do is yell about it, the irony is that no one ends up hearing you.

And if anyone wants an example of how various commenting styles come across, compare the two comments from steve above. Thanks steve for the response.

steve
Guest
steve

And seriously, asking pointed questions of public figures makes one a school yard bully?

Maybe that is true at politician and journalism school, places where questioning those in power is deemed to be rude..

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”And seriously, asking pointed questions of public figures makes one a school yard bully?\”

I apologize for using that term. Please don\’t take offense by it. My point has nothing to do with the content of your question, it was based in the tone and style you used to deliver it.

\”Maybe that is true at politician and journalism school, places where questioning those in power is deemed to be rude..\”

Steve, I didn\’t go to journalism school (this blog is my school).. .and please don\’t hint that I am somehow against, \”asking pointed questions of public figures\”.

That being said, I hear your points loud and clear and will take them to heart.

Thanks for the feedback.

steve
Guest
steve

Jonathan,

In all seriousness, if you started yelling, people WOULD listen to you.

I would love to make a deal with you. I will play nice as can be, even our mothers would be proud of me. In return, you use your large platform to start applying hard, serious pressure where it will do the most good.

This probably wont be so good for your \’business\’ sadly. But it might be very good for our city.

Just a thought.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Looked like a nice event as I whizzed by on the No. 1 bus with my bike on the way to the Thursday races at Alpenrose.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”I would love to make a deal with you. I will play nice as can be, even our mothers would be proud of me. In return, you use your large platform to start applying hard, serious pressure where it will do the most good.\”

That\’s a neat offer, but no thanks.

How about we both just agree to respect each other\’s feedback, take it to heart, and then let our passion and energy guide our future actions?

steve
Guest
steve

Spoken like a true politician, you\’re learning fast amigo!

Best of luck in your noble pursuits.

jack
Guest
jack

rock on pdx, kudos to all who devoted time and life energy to this achievement

steve, you seem especially po\’d today,
bit of advice for understanding constructive interaction and motivating your audience – seriously, not trying to get ya worked up – try researching non-violent communication, it can be extremely effective to reduce the angst around emotional topics, creating positive dialogue, and a means of expediated progress in the very issues that concern you. hope your day gets better.

enjoy the weekend all

peejay
Guest
peejay

Now, I try to be a bit more positive on this site, but I\’m kind of wishing someone asked Mr Mayor-elect about his vote for the CRC during all the festivities. He talks (and rides) bikes, but so far, he\’s voted cars and trucks.

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

a.o. exactly what does the term community policing mean?
I wish I knew how to encourage people to be inherently respectful and responsible citizens.
It seems to me the recently highly publicized road rage altercations that were misleadingly sensationalized into a Biker vs Motorist war, were all a result of \”well-intentioned\” offers of education to the ignorant.
Will community policing risk setting off more road rage interactions?

BURR
Guest
BURR

I guess I just didn\’t see the same \’schoolyard bully tone\’ in poost #1 that you did, Jonathan. Sure, it was mildly sarcastic, but bullying? Hardly.

a.O
Guest
a.O

Community policing is a different approach to law enforcement that emphasizes police officers as members of the community. It starts with the proposition that police officers live in the neighborhood they are responsible for policing, and it requires police officers to employ certain tactics that are less adversarial and authoritarian than those currently used in most large US cities.

Probably a detailed discussion of community policing is beyond our scope here, but as it applies to protecting vulnerable roadway users, it would mean police officers walking around the neighborhood, using crosswalks, for example. Or riding through a neighborhood (not simply tooling around on sidewalks where no one else is allowed to ride) using bike lanes or taking lanes where necessary and interacting with automobile drivers as bicycle traffic.

I think that if PPB members actually did that, they would have a much better understanding of the need to enforce – and how to enforce – the traffic laws that protect vulnerable roadway users.

Community policing has nothing to do with the kind of interactions that sparked the recent road rage incidents.

FYI, community policing is used extensively in the rest of the industrialized world, except the US. For example, Mayor Clark talked about his discussions with a Japanese mayor on how successful it had been in that city and how it could be implemented in Portland. As I understand it, the PPB Union blocked any attempt to require officers to live in the community they police. (They said they were afraid of being assulted by people they arrest who know where they live. Imagine that, a police officer *afraid* of being assaulted.)

a.O
Guest
a.O

Re #1 etc., to be fair, none of those people can answer that question, because none of those people or entities, including the City, prosecute criminal offenses. The Multnomah County DA is responsible for that within the City limits.

If you actually care to hear the answer, I can tell you what they will say: We don\’t have a good chance of being able to prove the necessary mental state, whether recklessness or intent.

My professional opinion is that is BS. In the past, when prosecutors have wanted to make prosecuting a particular kind of crime a priority (e.g., drunk driving, domestic violence) for political reasons, they have been effective in doing so. The other reason I think it\’s BS is that they apparently have not tried – so how can they be so confident they will lose?

2GOAT
Guest
2GOAT

a.o. Thanks for the clarification.
I was hoping you were not encouraging vigilanteism.
A little community policing might actually decrease road rage behavior.

steve
Guest
steve

I think it would be B.S. as well.

I also think it is B.S. to assume that pressure brought to bear by our elected leaders(ha!), lobbyists supposedly representing us(ha!), and the many other people in position to scare the bejeepers out of the DA/police bureau, would not result in swift change.

My other point is that we around here are routinely discussing these matters and we hear yet a peep from the folks pictured up top there.

I am starting to think they are not really my friends after all. Hows about you?

steve
Guest
steve

Almost forgot. Go CRC!

Arem
Guest
Arem

I wonder if, at this point, it may be a good idea to be reminded of the teachings of Sun Tzu and that:

\’The true purpose of strategy is victory without battle.\’

Kudos and take care.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

Steve and a.O. — about the prosecution and reckless driving situation (and I assume you are referring to the recent Stark Street collision).

i have more information on that i will be publishing next week. in short, the officer on the scene has a lot of discretion on what to do with someone after charging them with a \”reckless driving\” crime. in this case, the guy\’s car was towed but he was not put in jail (for reasons I will elaborate on next week).

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”I also think it is B.S. to assume that pressure brought to bear by our elected leaders(ha!), lobbyists supposedly representing us(ha!), and the many other people in position to scare the bejeepers out of the DA/police bureau, would not result in swift change.\”

I agree. pressure by these folks can lead to swift change.

i think pressure is a large part of why the Police Bureau made some key personnel and other changes after the firestorm of criticism following the October 2007 fatalities.

\”My other point is that we around here are routinely discussing these matters and we hear yet a peep from the folks pictured up top there.\”

that is something I am concerned about as well… and I mentioned it in my recent story about the comments of the Lincoln Nebraska Police Chief.

I think the silence about the \”war\” on our streets so far by PDOT, Sam Adams, etc… is a big mistake.. and I have told them that directly. perhaps this is something I can/should address in greater detail soon.

a.O
Guest
a.O

I actually wasn\’t referring to the recent Stark Street collision – I haven\’t followed that one very closely. I was speaking generally.

For example, there is a specific charge for vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian – have you ever seen that used?

Another example: I was recently told by a PPB officer that he could not (i.e., would not) cite someone for careless driving (a violation, not a crime) for passing a bicyclist closely (within a foot or so). He said there was nothing careless about that. I respectfully told him he was wrong as a matter of law, but that illustrates the problem with enforcement of laws protecting vulnerable roadway users in Portland. Many PPB officers seem to not understand these laws and none apparently enforce them.

I agree with your point on the recent PPB personnel changes. Again, some progress, more needed.

Regardless, I\’ll be looking forward to hearing more about the incident you are thinking of.

BURR
Guest
BURR

I think all the PPB traffic squad officers should be required to park their motorbikes and ride a pedalbike in plainclothes for at least a couple of weeks per year. I don\’t think they have any concept of what it\’s like to be passed on a bicycle too closely at speed, tailgated, right hooked, or crowded out of a lane by a motorist, let alone verbally assaulted or have things thrown at you from a moving vehicle.

a.O
Guest
a.O

And that lack of experiential understanding of what it\’s actually like to ride as/in traffic is at least partly responsible for the fact that these key laws are simply not enforced in Portland.

Who wants to start an off-duty ride-along program for PPB officers with me?

I guess that would only work if you actually had any takers. Most of those guys will tell you privately that they think cyclists who \”ride in traffic\” are nuts – because they see the daily carnage on the roads and think it\’s smart to armor oneself as much as possible in a steel cage. It\’s hard to argue with when you see what someone like Eric Davidson is going through. And it\’s the same fear that keeps the majority of people off bikes who want to ride but don\’t.

If I was being cynical or negative I might say that they\’re just a bunch of p*ssies, but since I\’m down with the new mood here, I\’ll just say that it would be really cool if some of them would actually come out and ride. I think their awareness would lead to better enforcement, and I think that is the final piece missing in the puzzle of building a bikeable City.

scoot
Guest
scoot

On a sugary, positive note… the cake was yummy.

Icarus Falling
Guest
Icarus Falling

First off, I LOVE BUD CLARK!!!

Second off, Platinum Schmatinum. Phooey… We slipped by on that one.

I think we have definitely reached \”Clay Status\” though.

Must have been a fun party. I thought about going but Thursday Night Grass Polo at M.L.K. and Alberta was calling my name.

Did I mention I love Bud Clark?

We almost ran into each other in the mid 80\”s or so, and it would have plowed him into the river, on one of the corners by Alber\’s Mill. I decided to run myself into a wall to miss him. Man did that hurt! But I was glad to do it. (Before anyone asks, yes I was wearing a helmet!)

Linda Ginenthal
Guest
Linda Ginenthal

Love the 10 by 10 campaign. I\’m on it.

What follows is the start of a conversation – not a definitive prescription for what needs to happen next for 10 by 10.

What this is going to mean is that we have to have more community organizing going on. It is great to get information and encouragement to folks (like our staff and volunteers for the Transportation division does) and it is great that we are building bike facilities and planning for safer roads so that the police are less and less necessary for enforcement. But we have to be willing to get beyond just talking to each other and wishing that Sam Adams, the police chief, or Traffic division, or the City bureaucrats (of which I am one) can get it done. On the community side, we are unmatched in the fun and plethora of rides and events we do. Love that too, but…

It will take people signing up cyclists and non-cyclists at a community events in support of Bike Boulevards, Sunday Parkways, vehicular homicide legislation. It will take phonebanking and house parties (yes, you need to bring your checkbook) to get the right folks down in Salem to pass funding measures for Transportation and bicycling efforts.

Blogging is fantastic and I love how powerful we have become in the community – look who is listening (and throwing parties for us). But that is about talking to the insiders – those that already cycle. If we want 10 by 10 that means getting beyond us and reaching \”them\”. And putting our money and our time beyond the fun stuff and talking, arguing, debating, and praising among each other.

Food for thought as we move into the election cycle this fall….

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

“If I was being cynical or negative I might say that they\’re just a bunch of p*ssies….”

This can be a challenging atmosphere in which to comment sometimes. 😉

From my somewhat internal observations of local government at work, and from my own experience as a public employee, I would support Jonathan in his suggestion that thoughtful, respectful criticism and sound suggestions can be quite effective.

Sarcastic attacks and generalizations about the experiences and backgrounds of hundreds of individual human beings can be too easy to dismiss.

Just my two cents. I know that some will disagree, and I respect those opinions.

And well said, Linda (#32).

a.O
Guest
a.O

PoPo, Just to be clear, I was completely kidding with that remark. Obviously, it\’s a difficult job that requires considerable toughness. But I do think most police officers would decline to ride a bicycle in/as traffic due to safety concerns. Am I wrong?

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

Thanks for that clarification.

I just can\’t speak for \”most officers\” because I haven\’t asked that question of them. I do know a number of officers who are avid riders and commute to work via bicycle. At least one is an avid racer, another was thinking about starting a bicycle tour company someday. If I were forced to generalize, my hunch would be that a majority would be ok riding in/as traffic because they are so experienced and generally comfortable anticipating and navigating in traffic. We all start out being paid to drive around in traffic for ten hours at a time.

But there are just too many different people in the Bureau to make that generalization, I\’m thinking, just as it would be difficult to make that generalization about any larger group of citizens. There are bound to be some people who don\’t feel comfortable riding a bike in traffic and some people who have no problem.

I do know that many officers have received bicycle training that include long street rides because I have personally trained them, but I don\’t know how many of them continue to ride a lot outside of work.

This is interesting. We should have coffee sometime an chat some more….

Brad
Guest
Brad

Self-congratulations is what Portland does best. Witness how the local media and politicos go ga-ga everytime some rag bestows a title like \”America\’s Best Progressive Canine Friendly Green Bike City for Vegan Hipsters\”. Party at City Hall, proclaim a day for it, blah…blah…

Platinum essentially means nothing. It means were somewhat better than the average AMERICAN city for bicyclists. When platinum is defined as \”Carbon Copy of Amsterdam\”, then we\’ll really have something to crow about and cyclists will truly have a city to be proud of.

Monday\’s commute won\’t be any safer becuse Sam served cake and punch.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

I thought self-righteous psuedo-humble smugness is what Portland did best.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

I think if you want to get your point across you should be loud, steadfast, and repetitive. Pointed and honest are good too. But sarcastic, rude, violent, vindictive, chip on your shoulder types of ranting will be perceived as either an attack which makes people defensive or that you are a crazy ranting fool. Either way they won\’t listen to you. If you want people to listen, be polite. Even anger can be appropriate if it\’s not misdirected. Think Ghandi – that man did NOT back down but he was still kind and gentle.

I think the reason for the popularity and effectiveness of this blog is that Johnathan lets ALL voices be heard, even the ones you may not want to hear and that he treats everyone here with respect and kindness. I think he is right on target with the tone here and he is, perhaps in small ways, accomplishing great things.

It takes time folks and you have to be patient. We are moving forward and momentum is building but it\’s not going to happen overnight. If you try to force it by getting angry at the wrong people, you are going to do more to hinder than help. It\’s just like the helmet thing – forcing people to wear helmets just creates angry helmet wearers, yes? Well, forcing cars off the road before you\’ve gotten to their hearts and minds will create HUGE problems and very angry citizens in this community.

That does NOT mean sweeping under the rug. Be loud and steadfast, just be nice about it.

\”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.\” – Margaret Mead