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Mayor Adams headed to Brussels for Velo-city Conference

Posted by on May 5th, 2009 at 8:14 am

That’s a cool logo. I hope someone
brings me back a T-shirt.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams, his Chief of Staff Tom Miller, and Bureau of Transportation traffic safety specialist Greg Raisman will visit Brussels, Belgium next week for the 29th annual Velo-city Conference.

Widely regarded as the premier bicycle transportation conference in the world (the 2007 edition in Munich had 950 participants from 50 countries), this year’s Velo-city will take on added significance. The four-day conference will be held in the European Parliament building and on the final day, several cities — including Portland — will sign the Charter of Brussels.

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The charter will be adopted by the European Parliament and all cities that sign it will commit themselves to a number of bike-centric policy goals. The most specific commitment is a 15% bicycle mode share by 2020 (Portland’s yet-to-be-adopted Climate Action Plan calls for a 20% bike mode share by 2030).

Raisman will present on bike
safety and then take a study
tour to learn more about it.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Mayor Adams will speak as part of the opening plenary session. After opening remarks by EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani and European Cyclists Federation President Manfred Neun, and following a presentation by the Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam, Tjeerd Herrema, Adams will share a presentation about Portland.

Adams’ will present alongside the Mayor of Bordeaux and Former Prime Minister of Rance, Alain Juppé. Bordeaux and Portland are both what Velo-city organizers categorize as “Climber” cities, meaning they show promise, but have a long way to go before being a “Forerunner” city like Amsterdam.

On Thursday, May 14th, PBOT’s Greg Raisman will be part of a panel focusing on bicycle use and safety (the panel will be chaired by the national bicycle coordinator for France). After the conference, Raisman will embark on a study tour of Brussels and several other cities in Germany and The Netherlands.

Raisman’s focus will be to learn more about residential traffic calming treatments and policies with an eye toward implementing them on Portland’s upcoming bike boulevards. He’ll also meet with police officials to learn more about how they manage bike-related enforcement policies. We’ll be publishing reports and photos from Raisman throughout his visit.

— Learn more about the conference at Velo-city2009.com.

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

50 Comments
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    DJ Hurricane May 5, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Just more greenwashing. Here’s hoping someday the bureaucrats will stop pretending that creating safe roadways for bicycling requires expensive European vacations, extensive research, and endless meetings.

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    3-speeder May 5, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Out of curiosity, what other American cities will be at the conference signing that charter?

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    Greg Raisman May 5, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Thanks, Jonathan. Exciting times indeed!

    I can’t wait for the trip. The current plan is to meet with and take bike rides with staff in Utrecht, The Netherlands; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Aachen, Germany; and Leuven, Belgium. I’ll also be in Ghent, Belgium for a half day as part of the conference.

    I’m staying for 5 days with the lead bikeway designer for Brussels. We became friends when Beth and I traveled there in 2007. So, I’ll have lots of time to learn from him about what they’re up to in Brussels (which is also a “Climber City” – lots of exciting stuff happening to make Brussels better for bikes).

    If anyone is interested in seeing a bunch of bicycle transportation photos from the trip Beth and I took in 2007, there’s a whole collection here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregraisman/collections/72157601555208567/

    Thanks.
    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Bureau of Transportation

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    Greg Raisman May 5, 2009 at 8:40 am

    3-Speeder: From what I understand, Portland will be the only US city to sign.

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  • […] then this morning, bikeportland reports that Adams is flying overseas to Brussels with his chief of staff Tom Miller for a bicycle […]

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    Joe Rowe May 5, 2009 at 8:53 am

    The real news is that we are paying to send a liar on a vacation. Sam lies that he wants to help bikes. If he wanted to help bikes he would not be building a $4 billion bridge that is managed by ODOT and has a fake, non binding, “mobility council” what a frekin joke.

    I hope taxpayers are not also sending the Dupe of Earl Blumenauer to this European Vacation. He supports Sam and the other local leaders on the bridge to bankruptcy. Earl will not speak out against the madness.

    Let’s wake up and stop loving the people who abuse us just because they wear a pin, bowtie and bring us flowers in the form of a few bike lanes or a occasional streetcar.

    We can do better. We can elect people who get us the streetcar without the $4 billion dollar bridge.

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    3-speeder May 5, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Thanks, Greg.

    That’s actually somewhat disappointing. Hopefully Portland’s lead will encourage other US cities to move in this direction.

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    freddy May 5, 2009 at 9:27 am

    I just hope Sam doesn’t flake like he has on other important speaking gigs (cough – National Bike Summit – cough).

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    Suzanne May 5, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Yup, got to go with #1 and #6. Actions speak louder than words. NO CRC! Just another lame attempt by Adams to convince the biking community that he is not a total sell-out.

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    Brad Reber May 5, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Wow. These threads get cranky in a hurry these days. I don’t think a stated goal of 15% mode share by 2020 is necessarily greenwashing. Sounds like a fine idea to me. We currently have no place in the US to use as a role model for that kind of split so we look to Europe. And if only one US city is signing this thing, it durn well ought to be us.

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    Brad Ross May 5, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Greg,

    You should visit Oudenarde, Belgium. Great roads and probably the best route marking system of any place in the world.
    Lots of cobbles too.

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    Kris May 5, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I concur with Brad. We should repave on of the roads up the west hills with cobbles. Can we have a “Muur of Portland”?

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    ScottG May 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I think ultimately the effort of learning about how other cities have successfully increased cycling rates is going to make Portland’s efforts more effective overall, and likely with less expense than if we simply flailed about on our own. So this trip seems like a wise investment in our bike future.

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    peejay May 5, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Every time Sam gets publicity for something like this without being confronted by his idiotically stupid CRC position, he wins. And the city of Portland loses. This is the time to put pressure on this man. He needs to be publicly challenged for his hypocrisy in front of the kind of people he so wants to impress with his “greenness.”

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    Zaphod May 5, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Data collection is hugely important and worth the expense. At this point, I would like to see some tangible results though.

    What would be fantastic for those who are busy with their day jobs, families, etc. is a scorecard/list that shows the Portland initiatives and the progress that has been made. I say this because I imagine that there are some good results but I’m not sure what they are.

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    tad May 5, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Jessica,

    Dont forget Rail Volition in Miami. A no show also…

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    JE May 5, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Greenwashing-

    Burning thousands of dollars to burn thousands of gallons of jet fluel to travel thousands of miles to an event you can look up on the internet.

    Wanna see Belgium? Google it!
    Wanna talk to some French guy? Give him a call.

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    Will May 5, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I am excited for Portland’s future. There are some major steps being taken to make the city friendlier and more accessible to bicyclists. Interesting how something that should be seen as a huge plus for cyclists can get such a negative spin. My hats off to Sam, Tom and Greg. I look forward to seeing feedback from the trip.

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    Greg Raisman May 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

    So people know, the City is not paying for this effort. The conference is paying for Sam and Tom to travel and for their lodging.

    I will be paying my own way for the entire trip. Of the 10 days I’ll be working, I’ll use 5 accrued vacation days.

    I plan to have an intense work schedule while there that will contribute to ongoing work on bike boulevard projects and the Bike Master Plan (design and enforcement chapters).

    Thanks.
    Greg

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    DJ Hurricane May 5, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Greg, I know your heart and mind is in the right place, and I appreciate your efforts.

    Unfortunately, your boss is just using this as an opportunity to appear green while doing the minimal amount necessary to retain some credibility (bike-wise) among those who aren’t paying close attention.

    Peejay is right: We need to start asking questions like why “America’s greenest city” STILL has not implemented a plan to combat global warming. When you look closely, the emperor has no clothes.

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    aljee May 5, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Greg, many thanks for your dedication. Glad to have someone working on the plan that makes these significant sacrifices.
    I caught up to the easy rider ride on saturday near the failing st bridge. Too bad I couldn’t stick around – i had my 5yo in the trailer and she was ready for some Saturday market kettle corn.
    Good luck.

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    amos May 5, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Greg,

    Thank you for working so hard on this. And paying your own way! Somebody buy this guy a beer!!!

    I am excited to read about your experiences over there. THIS is why I love this town.

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    the "other" steph May 5, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Greg, that is so exciting for you and your other co-travelers! I know Jeroen, a member of the World Carfree Network, has been working hard at making VeloCity 2009 a convocation of stakeholders from the grassroots to the governmental. Your time will be well-spent.

    JE – A good point. Last year, folks organizing the TCC08 tried to find ways of getting people to attend from far and wide using transportation both low-cost and low-carbon. Besides dishing on a cargo ship from Portugal to Portland, we couldn’t find anything. There’s no substitute for face-to-face meetings with people from variant cultures and linguistic backgrounds, and I don’t think our discourse around sustainable transportation should lay in fallow because we don’t have sustainable means of getting there now. However, we DEFINITELY need to roll it into the discourse.

    My $.02. Thanks.

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    wsbob May 5, 2009 at 11:25 am

    It’s encouraging that Adams is going. That shows there’s at least a receptivity on his part to learn about ideas from others that could improve road infrastructure for people traveling by bike in the city.

    Remembering that he still has some dirty laundry to clean up, he needs to be doing things that demonstrate he can conduct himself with the intelligence and decorum of someone people of Portland would have as their mayor.

    There’s still time for people to change or modify positions on the CRC. That thing is far from a done-deal.

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    Joe Rowe May 5, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Greg,

    And anyone on a bike who has not yet volunteered to stop the bridge.

    I’m wondering if you can answer my main question: How can you and we live with someone who does one or two good things yet undermines it all with some very bad things.

    Even if the $4 billion dollar bridge was free the traffic it promotes will cause hundreds of cyclists to die, thousands to stay home, and billions and billions of pollutant particles to go into the lungs of every kitten!!!

    I would not work with Sam even if he paid me or paid me off.

    If you really want to help bike safety in the largest way you will sit Sam down and spank him silly until he agrees to make the design and plan of any bridge with binding community input before it begins, not as a non binding committee after thought.

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    Matt Picio May 5, 2009 at 11:39 am

    DJ Hurricane (#1) – I think that’s an unfair characterization. Nothing gets done without planning. Conferences like Velo-City have 2 important functions: they allow everyone to see what each others’ cities are up to, and they provide important networking opportunities for the mayors and transportation staff. A lot of work gets done at these meetings, and the results turn into real public policies that make the roads safer for cyclists and put more of them on the road.

    Conferences like this reduce the need for meetings rather than increasing it. The Oregon Bike Summit and Car-Free Cities last year were very valuable in getting a number of things accomplished – not only at the event itself, but the meetings over drinks outside the event, and the communal rides to and from the event – we got a lot accomplished that would have taken a half-dozen meetings otherwise. I’d much rather see Adams and Raisman at a conference rather than having to schedule 5 meetings to talk to the same people on their schedules – these events act as a way to get all the decision-makers in the same place at the same time.

    Joe Rowe (#6) – So are you saying Sam Adams shouldn’t do anything? If you don’t like him, get behind the recall effort, but until and unless he is recalled, he still has a job to do. Hold the man accountable, sure, but let the man work. There are things that need to be done in government and even if you recall Sam and replace him with someone else, all of those things still need to be done in the meantime. The city can’t stay on-hold because people don’t like the mayor’s campaign tactics or personal life.

    We’re paying to send Adams to an international conference on transportation issues – whether you agree with him or not, that’s what we’re doing. If it were Sho going to this conference, we’d all be happy that he was showing any interest in bike issues whatsoever. Put the mission before the man.

    Suzanne (#9) – So, how many things does Adams have to do for the bike community before he’s not a “sell-out”? Does support for the CRC mean we discount everything else his office does?

    I’m not satisfied with CRC either, but if all we ever do is complain about what Sam’s office does, sooner or later they’re going to ask why they keep busting their collective asses to help bikers when all they get is grief.

    Hold them accountable, yes. Fight the CRC – HELL YES! But give them credit for what they’re doing right. $500,000 a year dedicated for bikes is AWESOME. Sharing ideas with European cities about how to make biking better, and learning what works and doesn’t work in Europe – AWESOME. Yes, I want to see more money for bikes – 5% of the transportation budget is a worthy goal, and justifiable. I’d love to see the mayor take that kind of leadership. The City of Portland should also HOST an international conference for transportation and get some of the mayors here. We need to take a leadership role in the US on alternative transportation. Keep the momentum going – we’re going in the right direction.

    Kris (#12) – wet cobbles = not fun. That said, I like cobbles too.

    peejay (#14) “he wins” – uh… why? How does any of that hurt Portland? If we destroy all the goodwill cycling advocates have with city planners simply to stop the CRC, then WE lose. All cyclists. It means no more signage, no chance of traffic engineering favoring cyling over cars, no more multi-use paths.

    The time to bring up CRC is not during unrelated items like this – do that, and the people who say “Oh, God, not those anti-CRC nuts again” will tune out and miss the message about working with european cities to make cities more pleasant to live and travel in.

    CRC is a hugely important issue – but it’s not the only one, and a single-minded focus on CRC can cost us in the long run – maybe even worse than if CRC is actually built.

    JE (#17) – An enormous amount of business can happen from meeting face-to-face. Frequently the trip is worth the cost.

    BTW, the Internet has a gigantic carbon footprint as well.

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    Bill May 5, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Gregg, Gent, Belgium is where my velomobile was imported from. Glad to hear that Portland is going to sign the Charter of Brussels.

    Bill
    WAW-042

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    Matt Picio May 5, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Joe Rowe (#25) – Then respectfully Joe, you’re as big a problem as anyone else.

    Let’s say people succeefully recall Sam, have another election, and put someone else in office. How long does that take? 6 months? 9 months? Meanwhile the CRC gets that much further along towards approval and completion, there is no leadership at the top, and all of the other transportation issues out there are not being addressed. Decisions are being made every day by people in the city that affect planning, maintenance, funding, and priorities. Have you considered the impact that will have?

    The only way we will stop CRC is if someone takes it to the people. Someone needs to convince the neighborhood associations that CRC is bad. Someone needs to convince the business associations that CRC is bad. The mayor’s office will respond if enough of his key constituent groups say they don’t want the CRC.

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    metal cowboy May 5, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Greg,

    Good seeing you and Heather and Matt and the rest of the easy riders during your rest stop in front of my house on Saturday. Enjoy the trip. In a perfect world your the one who’s travel should be fully funded on this one not the other way around. That said, bring back ask much insight and info, then put it to use on tangible projects.

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    DJ Hurricane May 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Matt (#26), PBOT and this Mayor have had more than ample planning time in the form of conferences, trips, meetings and many other activities. They do not need to attend yet another conference to give them ideas about what to do to improve biking in Portland — or, if they do, they haven’t been paying attention for the last 5 years.

    And I’d be interested to know, what are the “number of things” that were accomplished at Oregon Bike Summit and Car-Free Cities meetings?

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    Matt Picio May 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Regarding my post #28 – I do realize that “someone” should include me. I should be prioritizing CRC higher right now, but I’m not. I’ve chosen my battles, and at the moment CRC is not one of them.

    To all of you who are fighting the CRC – keep up the good work, and please take the latter half of my post to heart – get the people behind it, and the elected officials will listen. There’s no guarantee that a different mayor would oppose the CRC. Sometimes you have to work with people even if you don’t like their philosophy or their tactics.

    Anyone who would like to speak at the “Worthy Issues Ride” about CRC and why we should oppose it, please contact me at “matt ‘dot’ picio ‘at’ gmail ‘dot’ com” – I’d really love to have someone speak on that issue. The ride is 7pm Friday at the Vera Katz statue on the Esplanade.

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    Dan Kaufman May 5, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Sam was planning on taking his pick-up truck but it’s in the shop. j/k

    I am glad this trip is happening and it’s one of the little things that could help save Sam’s career.

    BUT in order to do that, Sam needs to sack-up and unplug from the big boondoggles of the CRC, Stadiums, and convention hotel. Powerful people and vested interests have his ear and it’s our responsibility to be louder and give him the cover to do the right thing.

    I had hoped that through the scandal Sam Adams would throw caution to the wind and dream big for Portland and it’s people.

    By my calendar, Sam has about a month to start doing that.

    P.S. Greg, Thank you for your dedication. When you are on the airplane, your and Sam’s drinks are on me. Just tell Sam we want to love him but he’s making it really, super, difficult.

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    Matt Picio May 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    DJ (#30) – I disagree, and the networking opportunities far outweigh the presentations. Frequently, problems can be fixed by putting the right 3 people in a room together at the same time.

    re “number of things” – I was Executive Director of Exchange Cycle Tours at the time, and I established working relationships with a number of city, county and state staffers at the time – it opened up opportunities for me to get involved with a number of committees and projects over the last 6 months. If you want to know what projects, read this post

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    DJ Hurricane May 5, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Well Matt (#33), we’ll have to agree to disagree. This is just a PR opportunity for Scam Adams.

    And I read your list of your projects. I don’t see anything on there that constituted a concrete action by the City getting anything done for bicyclists as a result of those two meetings you mentioned. The Airport Way Interchange or Clinton Bike Blvd projects are possible exceptions, but you don’t make clear whether or how those projects came out of those meetings.

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    Jim Lee May 5, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    If Sam is traveling with Jean-Claude can we revoke his passport?

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    Matt Picio May 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    DJ – I never said those meetings helped the city, I said they helped *me*. You’d have to ask the city officials who attended those meetings what that led to for them.

    As far as practical things that benefited the bike community that came from meetings I was involved in – one I can directly speak to would be the Clackamas County Bike Map. Another would be additional bike parking in Milwaukie, and soon, wayfinding signage.

    I could probably figure out some on the city side, but I’m out of time for right now. Maybe Michelle or others will list some of the things that came from meetings and conferences that benefit bikers, like the Rose Quarter cut-through or other projects.

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    tad May 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Sam is still our Mayor?

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    Allan L. May 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Booooooondoggle!

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    DJ Hurricane May 5, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    @ #36: And I never said the meetings didn’t help you, Matt. I said they are no substitute for concrete actions that improve roadway conditions for bicyclists. Then you said the meetings helped you. And I still don’t see much connection between the two.

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    fool May 5, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    so a part of the world whose habits i wish ours more closely resemble thinks we are doing something right, and invites our leader to talk about how we are doing it at their own expense. while he’s there building a little bit of street cred for america not being a nation of consume-until-we-die, some of what they’re up to will rub off on him, and we benefit too. here’s to innovation in coming years’ nonmotorized transport budgets!

    what’s not to like?

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    Suzanne May 5, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Matt #26 – You ask me, how many things does Sam have to do to prove that he’s not a “sell-out” and that this is not just a PR stunt to build good will so that we all forget about the CRC? He only has to do *one* thing in my opinion, reverse course on the 12-lane mega-bridge.

    You say that this conference is about working with European cities *to make cities more pleasant to live and travel in*. Excellent, yes, absolutely, I’m all about it, I think it’s a great opportunity for Portland. But I can’t help thinking the message is wasted on our mayor who just gave the green light to the massive freeway expansion that is the CRC.

    Unfortunately, these two things are related, and to me it comes down to saying one thing, but doing another. I wish it was Amanda Fritz going over there to represent Portland, someone who actually walks the walk, and doesn’t just talk the talk.

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    Matt Picio May 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Suzanne (#41) I wish it were Amanda also, and maybe the message
    *is* wasted on the mayor – all I’m saying is that we can cheer the good things while still holding their feet to the fire on the CRC. If all we do is send negative messages back on everything the city does, those people working in the trenches for us like Greg Raisman, Roger Geller, Jeff Smith, Linda Ginenthal, Rob Burchfield, et. al. who have been our champions are going to get sick of us and start asking why they do all this hard work.

    I agree, don’t whitewash (or greenwash) the problems – point ’em out! Just give a little positive feedback on the good stuff.

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    peejay May 6, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Hey, don’t get me wrong. I am glad that Sam is going, and I’m psyched for my friend Greg, and confident that the trip would be useful in many ways. I certainly see this trip as a better use of public officials’ time than some construction industry-sponsored boondoggle about the joys of more highway expansion, for example.

    However, as an active member of the anti-CRC coalition, I have to say that the most effective way to hold Sam accountable for his support of said project is when he’s surrounded by people who might be as equally flabbergasted by Adams’ illogical support of the CRC project. There’s no escape for Sam in this context.

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    CS May 6, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Thanks Greg for your dedication and hard work. I’m excited this is happening. Lets keep acting like the greenest, bike-friendliest US city that we are and represent.

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    bike commuter May 6, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Get a grip folks. The City of Portland is being represented by a liar who drives (poorly may I add) a GMC PU while shopping at big box stores. Just when did you last see this narcissist actually on a bicycle?

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    Steve May 11, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Sam is a lame duck, and is waiting our money.

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    Paulo May 12, 2009 at 10:37 am

    “This is just a PR opportunity for Scam Adams.”

    So where’s the campaign? I haven’t seen much except a few snippets on some blogs. So if you think you can do better, then go out and secure $50 million for our bike infrastructure. I’m waiting.

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    Ulf May 14, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Hi there! As a participant at velo-city conference from Germany I have to state that your mayor really did a good job in Brussels. From Europe most people get the impression that cycling in the US wouldn’t be possible and there are even guys who warn about the high risk when cycling cities in the US. I was very pleased to hear that you in Portland also have a “cycling culture”!

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  • […] Raisman, do Department of Transport de Portland (Oregon, EUA) tem fotos e vídeos da sua visita à Velo-City e a algumas cidades europeias no […]

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  • […] May, he went to Belgium for a bicycle […]

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