Adams wants Portland to be hub of “green revolution”

Sam Adams Mayoral Welcome Party-3

Adams, looking confident at
a party in City Hall last night.
(Photos © J. Maus)

During his speech at the swearing-in ceremony at Parkrose High School yesterday, Mayor Sam Adams laid out his top three priorities; jobs, education, and sustainability.

There was no mention of bikes specifically, but it’s clear that “sustainability” is where Adams plans to push two-wheeled travel. Here’s a look at what he said about sustainability, interspersed with my thoughts.

After painting a picture of this planet’s “potential environmental doom”, Adams said there’s a “silver lining to this toxic cloud”:

“Portland is the ideal starting place for this nation to get serious about environmental sustainability. We can show what’s possible, setting an example the rest of the world can follow. And we can prove sustainability pays off.”

I like the idea of Portland being a national model in this area. In some respects we already are, but we could do a lot more. City bike coordinator Roger Geller has long sought special recognition for Portland from the federal government as some sort of bike facility petri dish, where the usual red tape required for innovative ideas could be scuttled in the name of experimentation (and where we wouldn’t get interference from the FHWA for trying something new).

Adams went on,

“Our economy benefits from an estimated $2.6 billion annual green dividend. Portlanders get money back into their pockets through the automobile miles not driven, worse congestion not experienced and pollution not breathed. Our green dividend grew from public investments in transit and land-use planning.”

bike to work day

Adams, looking the part.

The “green dividend” Adams spoke of comes from research by noted economist Joe Cortright which I reported on back in 2007.

It’s too bad Adams doesn’t mention biking in that last sentence. Recent numbers show the number of Portlanders who go by bike (8%) is quickly approaching the number that use transit (11%) — and the bike network has been built for pennies on the dollar compared to the vast budget of TriMet and Portland Streetcar. Why isn’t Adams more of a constant cheerleader for biking?

“Portland may be the greenest city in the country. That’s no longer good enough. We aim to be the greenest city on earth. We can do this with thoughtful planning…

The Portland Plan (a behemoth planning effort going on now) will put density where density belongs and shape our city so that the necessities of a good life, like grocery stores, are a 20-minute walk from home.”

By the time to Portland Plan is completed and actually impacts policy and land-use decisions, I bet we’ll be far into double-digits for bike use citywide.

“But we need more than planning. We need more sustainable “doing,” too.”

You took the words right out of my mouth Mr. Mayor.

“I am thrilled today to join the Governor and the Oregon University System to announce the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center, to be located in the Portland State University district. Governor Kulongoski has included $80 million of state bonds in his proposed budget to help pay for it.”

I have to find out more about this Oregon Sustainability Center. If it will be similar to the existing Institute for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) than we should all be excited.

“A green revolution is about to bloom across America. Let’s make Portland the hub.”

I’m all for it. And I like the bike pun.

In all seriousness, bikes should play a prominent role in Adams’ administration. In the same week he was sworn in, Oregon Business Magazine devoted a cover story to the “bicycle industrial complex” that’s growing in Portland (and beyond). If Adams took bicycle-related manufacturing half as serious as he has taken electric cars, Portland could become the national epicenter of the bike industry. That would create a lot of truly green, family-wage jobs.

Adams needs to realize quickly that bikes in Portland are not just about a vibrant culture and an active constituency. Bikes can solve many problems our city faces (transportation budget shortfall, congestion, etc…) and it while doing so, they can make our city a much better place to live.

Bikes and Portland — “Better Together”.

— For the full text of Adams’ “Better Together” swearing-in speech, see Page Two.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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bahueh
bahueh
15 years ago

the “greenest city” sure…ya…when my raw sewage stops being diverted straight into the willamette river after 1/4″ of rain, I may then start believing such claims…until the big pipe starts operation, no way.

such claims encompass much more than bicycle usage…

Hart
Hart
15 years ago

Well it certainly is greenest electro-magnetic spectrum-wise.

Dave
15 years ago

I think it would take a massive change in national government for any city in the US to be an example the rest of the world looks up to in terms of environmental issues – look at Scandinavia in general for instance and the drastic measures they take for environmental and livability reasons – we’re a LONG way off.

But still, that means we have a long way up to look forward to, and it’s exciting that people want to try, and want to try to get people excited about the city they live in and get them excited about trying to live in a better way.

I think it would be absolutely fantastic to have Portland companies building good, solid commuter bikes that are affordable to the average person and would be practical for running errands, going to work, etc – and see us be a launching point to bring bicycle manufacture (and not just specialized, customized, really expensive bicycle manufacture) back to the US. Bikes for the people. I think people in Portland would be ecstatic to buy bikes that were manufactured here in Portland, it’s just that at a thousand or two a pop, the current specialty manufacturers aren’t in most peoples’ (at least willing) budget range, regardless of the fact that they are beautiful bikes.

I also believe, if you get someone out on any kind of bike, and they get used to it and enjoy it and see the value of it, the range of what they’re willing to pay for a good bike goes up quite a bit (assuming they actually have that money).

Here’s hoping we see a lot of do-ing in the near future 🙂

a-dub
a-dub
15 years ago

Dave, I can attest to your last comment. I started biking on a $400 used Marin that my Dad had given me after 10 years of use. Within 6 months I had sold our 2nd car and stepped up to a $1500 new Trek Portland.

Spencer Boomhower
Spencer Boomhower
15 years ago

“The Portland Plan (a behemoth planning effort going on now) will put density where density belongs and shape our city so that the necessities of a good life, like grocery stores, are a 20-minute walk from home.”

That’s great to see; I’m a big fan of the 20-minute neighborhood. I very rarely drive these days, but it’s not because I’m so hardcore about biking or whatever, it’s just that I live in one of these neighborhoods. I’ve often wondered how a city could help such neighborhoods form. Unfortunately the Portland Plan site seems to be down at the moment.

“A green revolution is about to bloom across America. Let’s make Portland the hub.”

I’m all for it. And I like the bike pun.

I think you meant to say, “truer words were never spoke.”

007
007
15 years ago

Yes, Portland’s “we’re green” propaganda, again. Our air is so bad I’ll probably die of lung cancer smelling all the diesel fumes, not to mention gasoline, on my way to work.

City employees still use gas leaf blowers in the parks, even on soaking wet leaves. Ban their use by everyone in all of the city.

Columbia River Crossing…hmmm…yeah, really green.

007
007
15 years ago

oh…and another thing…why does Portland require that taxicabs be huge gas guzzlers or beat up pollutant spewing shuttle vans?

I can not figure out why this is the law. We need economy cars and hybrid taxis, Sam.

eileen
eileen
15 years ago

Wasn’t “green” on the banned words list? Why do I keep hearing it?

JE
JE
15 years ago

We absolutely must caption those photos and come up with Sam Adams’ superhero name.

“This looks like a job for —–!
Yes, —–! who disguised has mild-mannered Mayor Sam Adams fights a never ending battle for environmental sustainability, greenieness and a cup holder for his bike.”

peejay
peejay
15 years ago

First, thanks Jonathan for highlighting the difference between talk and actions. That’s been my problem with Sam for a while now. Perhaps we can keep the pressure on Sam to act on his talk and not give him a pass.

Second, I take issue with bahueh (imagine that) about the big pipe. Look: Portland recognized they had a drainage runoff problem, identified a solution, and at great expense is constructing that solution. How is this not the right thing to do? One may criticize the city for taking so long to get started, but I believe they started the project well before most of the current city council was in place, and given political realities, are proceeding as fast as possible. The fact that it’s not done yet is no reason to bust on Portland’s “green” credentials when many other cities haven’t even begun to address their storm runoff problem.

Third, 007 has a point about taxicabs, although I have seen a few Priuses run by Broadway Cab.

Emett Stasiuk
15 years ago

Anybody think there’s a room for my idea to just give people money for bikes, gear, and sustainable foods, etc? Economic stimulus, carbon offset donations, drive the economy towards these types of businesses (Zero Emissions focused) Check it out on Unpollute.ning.com. Portland’s home, Portland’s great, but it might be better for it… And it truly would be pennies on the dollar compared to other public works. I’ve got to check out that Portland Plan and write the mayor. Thanks for the article, it’s a good jolt of motivation. Lets do it.

Travis Wittwer
15 years ago

This post got me thinking about all that is possible while looking at all that is damned. In my thoughts, I gravitated toward Sam’s comment on density and a great book came to mind, The Geography of Nowhere. It is a good read about how to build cities for optimum use and how, in parts of America, cities are being killed.