Eye to Eye campaign launches in downtown Portland (updated with video)

Eye to Eye Campaign Launch-5.jpg
BTA leader Scott Bricker speaking at the
Eye to Eye campaign launch in downtown
Portland this morning.
(Commissioner Adams and PDOT Director
Sue Keil in background.)
Video below
(Photos © J. Maus)

With morning bike commuters streaming into downtown Portland, the BTA led a press conference this morning to launch their new Eye to Eye campaign.

A free bell giveaway was also part of the event

Speaking in front of the post office building at the corner of Broadway and Hoyt, Commissioner Sam Adams tried to put the “war” between cars and bikes that has dominated headlines for several weeks into perspective:

“We are used to being lauded for our achievements, but over the last few months there has been a string of high profile road rage events involving cyclists and motorists that have overshadowed our achievements…. as someone passionate in providing alternatives to people driving alone in their car, it is absolutely important that we stay on top this issue.”

“For heaven’s sakes if you’re a pedestrian you need to look around and see what’s going on; if you’re a motorist you need to look around… and the same thing is true if you’re a cyclist.”
— Sue Keil

Adams also reminded the crowd (which included nearly all the local media outlets) that alcohol played a major factor in the recent incidents; “I cannot urge enough to Portlanders,” he said, “that to drink and drive or to drink and cycle is not the thing to do in Portland.”

“To make Portland safer, we should all be responsible for following the rules of the road for making our city the place it can be.”

Adams concluded his statement with a reprise of a quote he made in the Oregonian on July 20th; “It is time that we all just frickin’ share the road, people.” That comment got a laugh and applause from the crowd.

Director of PDOT Sue Keil.

Following Adams, PDOT Director Sue Keil explained that her department is operating in tough financial times. “We really have been short of funding,” and then added that, “as people drive less, the funding for transportation goes down, because we are primarily funded by gas tax.”

Keil then emphasized that because there isn’t the revenue to, “extend that bicycle network in the way we would like to do it,” she feels, “education is critical in keeping us safe and keeping things moving.”

Keil spoke of her hopes that the Eye to Eye campaign comes with a, “tuning up of awareness,” and said, “for heaven’s sakes if you’re a pedestrian you need to look around and see what’s going on; if you’re a motorist you need to look around and see if you have pedestrians and cyclists and the same thing is true if you’re a cyclist — so that eye contact is a very critical part of the equation.”

TriMet’s Carolyn Young said the Eye to Eye campaign is set to appear in graphic form on 20 of the 670 buses in their fleet.

BTA staffer Carl Larson urges
commuters to stop for a free
bell at the event.

Lieutenant Bryan Parman of the Police Bureau said his department plans to re-ignite the free bike light program that first started in 2005 and then was scrapped a year later. In a conversation following the event, Parman said the Bureau received a grant to purchase 200 sets of lights. Parman said they’ll begin giving out the lights in Fall, when the days become shorter and he emphasized that this will likely be an ongoing, seasonal campaign to “reinforce the safety message.”

For more information, visit the just-launched Eye to Eye campaign page on the BTA’s website.

Video of the event is below:

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