Project Manager for the
Bike Master Plan Update.
The City of Portland’s languishing effort to update its Bicycle Master Plan just got a shoot in the arm. Ellen Vanderslice, an effective bureaucrat and well-known activist for people-friendly cities, has been selected as Project Manager for the Bicycle Master Plan Update process.
PDOT staffers have been working on an update to the all-important plan for nearly three years now. Our current plan was adopted by City Council in 1995 and it was intended to be updated in 2005.
(For a summary of the plan’s importance to bicycling in Portland, see the story, Portland’s “Platinum” Bicycle Master Plan gets rolling which we published back in April 2007).
“I grew up to be an activist because I disliked the dominance of automobiles in our landscape and in our culture, and I wanted to change that.”
— Ellen Vanderslice
Vanderslice should provide much needed firepower to help move the update process forward. Insiders and PDOT staff working on the update have been grumbling for months that it has been understaffed and underfunded (remember when Mayor Potter tried to cut its funding? Also, at a recent Master Plan Steering Committee Meeting, PDOT bike czar Roger Geller lamented that the update effort was being done “on a shoestring” budget).
Vanderslice says she was approached by several people involved with the update effort before taking on the assignment and eventually, Mayor-elect Adams “agreed it was a good idea”.
Vanderslice is most well-known for her work on pedestrian issues and she describes herself as a “radical pedestrian”, but Vanderslice has the diverse experience and long-range insights that will serve her well in this new role.
In this photo, Vanderslice juggles
while volunteering at
Sunday Parkways last June.
(Photo © J. Maus)
“I come to it with insight into several perspectives,” she wrote in an email to me yesterday, “I am an architect, a transportation project manager, a former neighborhood transportation committee chair, and a parent, to name just a few.”
She’s also been riding her bike in Portland since she moved here in 1976 and says she knows “something about how far we’ve come.”
Vanderslice has worked at PDOT on and off for 10 of the last 15 years. Most recently he has served ast the manager of the “Keep Portland Moving” effort – which is tasked with keeping downtown Portland vibrant and accessible during the light rail construction project.
Portland for over 30 years.
Also at PDOT, Vanderslice was manager for several large-scale projects including the Naito Parkway rebuild, the Old Town Chinatown Streetscape project, and others. In the mid-to-late ’90s, Vanderslice worked in PDOT’s Pedestrian Program to create the Pedestrian Master Plan and Pedestrian Design Guide and to complete the Barbur Boulevard Plan and the Southwest Urban Trails Plan.
For more insight into what Ms. Vanderslice will bring to the Bike Master Plan table, I asked her to share a bit more about her “radical pedestrian activist” past. Here’s how she responded:
“I like to call myself a transportation reform activist, because for me it has never been only about walking. I love walking, of course! But I grew up to be an activist because I disliked the dominance of automobiles in our landscape and in our culture, and I wanted to change that. My radical activist side will be a good check on my inner bureaucrat, which might be satisfied with a tidy product that comes in on time and on budget. The radical activist wants more — the radical activist wants transformation!”
I think bike staffers at PDOT and bike insiders will be pleased to have Vanderslice on board. Assigning Vanderslice to manage this effort might also be a sign that Mayor-elect Adams will give the plan more priority than the previous administration.