Support BikePortland

Mayor Adams pledges to go carfree for a month, ride a bike instead

Posted by on May 6th, 2009 at 11:42 am

Bike Master Plan open house - SE-12

Sam Adams speaking at last
night’s BMP Open House
(Photo © J. Maus)

It’s a classic story in Portland by now — you total your car, assess your options, and decide the time is right to go carfree.

It looks like the latest person to play out this story will be our mayor.

Mayor Adams walked away from a car crash without any injuries last weekend, but his truck wasn’t in such good shape. Oregonian reporter Joseph Rose caught up with the mayor at last night’s Bike Master Plan Open House and asked him about his plans for replacing the truck.

But don’t expect to see the mayor shopping local car lots anytime soon. Following in the smaller carbon footprints of Berkeley, Calif., Mayor Tom Bates, Adams says he’s giving up driving for at least a month. “I’m going to try it,” he said.

Adams related to Rose a conversation he had with his sister shortly after the crash. His sister asked him what kind of car he was going to get next, and Adams said “My bike,” adding “Of course, I’ll probably supplement that with a Zip Car account.”

Story continues below

advertisement

Rose reports that he encouraged the mayor by telling him about Tom Bates, the 71 year old mayor of Berkeley, California, who recently gave up his car in favor of an annual transit pass as a way to stay in shape and set an example for his constituents.

Mayor Adams, who lives in the Kenton neighborhood of North Portland, occasionally goes on well-publicized bike rides but has not been a habitual bicycle commuter. It will be interesting to see how he does with this self-imposed carfree challenge.

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

42 Comments
  • Avatar
    Clarence May 6, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Great, I will go car-free for the month as well.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Scott Mizée May 6, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    nice Clarence…. just watch out for the traffic calming Sasquatch’s…. or is it Sasquatchai?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    el timito May 6, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Actually, here in the Pacific NW it’s “traffic calming Sesqui’s”.

    In any case, great to hear we’ll have illustrious company on the boulevards for Bike to Work Month!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    DJ Hurricane May 6, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    This has the potential to be far better for improving the conditions for bicyclists in this town than any conference, meeting, speech, bike box, or anything else. Of course, that assumes Scam Adams isn’t lying. And why would anyone assume that?

    When are we going to see Catherine “CRC” Ciarlo do the same?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    ScottG May 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I appreciate that he’s doing this. It really helps bike advocacy efforts when the politician you’re trying to reach is having experience with the same issues you’re trying to explain.

    Publicity stunt or not, even if he only rode a bike to work 1 day per week, he’s going to be “in the trenches” with us and gain insight into how to improve cycling infrastructure.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Catherine Ciarlo May 6, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Hey, DJ –

    I bike my kids to school and myself to work every single day – rain or shine.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Hart May 6, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Glad to see Tom the Mayor joining the rest of us who have been car-free for years.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    amos May 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Good to hear, Sam. See you on the Boulevards!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Brad May 6, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Hmmm…today is the 6th, so almost one week gone. Going away to Europe next week. Let’s see if he does much during the back half of the month.

    Is using ZipCar really “car free”?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Joe Adamski May 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Good for him. But being Mayor usually means time is premium, I would not expect to see him totally car free. Staffers will probably drive him at least some of the time. That said, I hope he uses transit and walks and bikes as much as possible.

    Being a public figure, and being visible has its downside. Eric Sten didn’t run for another term,in part because he didn’t have much time for himself. So..if you see Hizzhonor toodling around on his bike, or on the bus, a nod or a wave would suffice. Don’t put him on the hotseat for every bike issue that comes up,every time you see him. Even public figures need a little downtime.

    And come up to St Johns on Saturday for the annual SJ Parade and Bizarre, a street fair complete with a beergarden.. and a closed main street..car fee,if you will. I look forward to seeing everyone up there.It will be a great day for a ride!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Travis Wittwer May 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Check out Clever Cycles “open bar” support of the mayor, http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1566534589&ref=nf

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Travis Wittwer May 6, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Clarence brings up a neat promotion idea….”join the mayor for a month and go carfree/carlight.”

    Do something positive and pull people in.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    metal cowboy May 6, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I live in NoPo, not far from Adams. I know it’s a very very reasonable commute time to bike downtown and back. And the yellow line is so close, and the buses from here to downtown give you all sorts of non car options.
    Not to put it too harshly, but why only a month of bike love, Sam? Why not make it the summer of bike love? The rain will be out of here soon… breeze in the face, sun on the shoulders. I’m not asking you to wear a tank top that reads “no 12 lane bridge” or anything – but say the word and I’ll make you up one in a flash… And if that hill coming up Greeley is too much work at first – go on and use interstate ave. Seriously, consider the whole summer car free. You don’t need no stinkin’ zipcar. (not that zipcars aren’t part of the solution for some)

    A summer of biking is just what you need to perhaps change your perspective on certain political compromises you may have made back when you were driving a gmc across a certain bridge.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Craig May 6, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    It’s hard to believe there hasn’t yet been a city-wide–or even better, city sponsored–cycling month. Is there a **national** equivalent? I’ve participated in the BTA’s http://www.bikecommutechallenge.com, and my kids in the bike/walk to school week, but I’m talking about an all-out cycling month when commuters, school kids, families, and probably a flood of tourists, go cycle crazy for 30 days, flooding the streets and bike paths with gobs and gobs of organized and ad-hoc cycling events. I nominate June.

    Our family of seven (five kids ages 1 through 14) is going carless as well, but not for just a month. Well, almost carless… http://Zipcar.com is still our friend when the need arises to leave the central city. We live easily within two miles of work, school, groceries, bike shops, Lloyd Center, etc., so our family’s going all-cycle, just as soon as we sell our minivan and use the cash to beef up our cycle stable.

    I’m curious though, does anyone have stats on bike thefts in Portland metro, and even a breakdown by bike type stolen, parts stripping, theft of kid carriers, and whether a lock was cut and what kind?

    -Craig

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    DJ Hurricane May 6, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Hey CRC Ciarlo (#6), if you really do bike to work every day, then your support of the mega-bridge is just that more dumb. Shame on you. Maybe you own stock in ExxonMobil?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    metal cowboy May 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Craig,
    I pop off the wheels of our chariot and bring a second u lock to lock one side of the trailer with the wheels to whatever – pole , rack etc. It’s easier to bring two locks than try to detach the chariot/trailer and then attempt to muscle it and whatever bike you are riding to one rack – all that said – if we are only going to stop for a minute i either leave a look out or park it in front of a window where we can see it – like at the library – we lock the bike, pop off the wheels – take them with but don’t lok the trail – it’s still with us – knock on wood.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Craig May 6, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Two locks is what I was thinking. We just got a Burley for the 1-year-old, and it seems like an easy grab. I might also get a longer cable-lock that catches both wheels and the frame, and lock that to the frame of the towing bike (which is already u-locked to something).

    Thanks mc

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    metal cowboy May 6, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Yep, the longer cable has been an option i’ve been contemplating for a few seasons – probably get one after someone steals the trailer 😉

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Scott Mizée May 6, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Travis… I thought you were going to talk about Clarence and Sesqui….

    Have you seen any “traffic calming Sesqui’s” hanging out around the “Rackai” you observed?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    peejay May 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Catherine:

    I appreciate Mr Adams is making the attempt. I hope that when he realizes that the benefits of riding outweigh the convenience factors, it might dawn on him that he doesn’t need to spend our billions on a bridge that’s designed to increase the convenience factor for all those people who are unwilling to try using another means than single-occupancy car use to do their daily commute.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    old&slow May 6, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    OK, I take back everything I have said about him. What a sacrifice! It is not just for us either, but for our children and grandchildren! It must be a 2 mile commute for him (4 round trip), I can’t imagine the suffering that will take this time of year. I am no longer a critic of Sam, I am just in awe and probably not worthy of even living in the same city. God bless him.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Patrick Valdez May 6, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    I’m not impressed with Mayor Sam’s pledge to go car free for a month. BFD. I have been car free for years and I never felt the need to announce it to the press.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    jim May 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Vera didn’t drive while she was in office but did get drove around town plenty. I heard she did get a license afeter she left office?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Jim Lee May 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    If all you guy had voted right last May you too would now have a 71 year old mayor with only a Zipcar account and bikes–two yellow fixies.

    As a matter of fact, tomorrow I’ll Zip out to Alpenrose with the sound gear for this year’s velodrome season.

    See you there!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Clarence May 6, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Actually that is a damn good idea – get people to pledge to join the Mayor! Smashingly great promotional idea – even if it is just on paper….

    Someone quick put together a video promoting it, just text and some fun music.

    Do it, DO IT NOW!

    🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Racer X May 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Good luck Sam Way to go!

    Imagine the look the CRC UDAG members would have if you showed up to the monthly meeting by bike in Vancouver. Bring Catherine along too.

    It is just a 20 minute bike ride north from your house.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Joe Adamski May 6, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    DJ Hurricane (#4 and #15).. the word for today is ‘civility’.
    I take exception to your namecalling of Catherine in response to CRC. Catherine, as a staffer, and not the one to make policy decisions, but rather give her boss all relevant information and let him make the decision. Secondly, I know Catherine to be the (1st?) E.D. of BTA,and knowledgeable of Portlands history and dreams of cycling as a legitimate form of transportation.

    Please remember the Mayor and Council represent the entire city, there is not a bike councilor and a school councilor,but being on Council means representing all of your constituants as best you can, knowing that for every winner,there are losers. Beating up on staff members is short sighted and rude. A staffer CAN make recommendations to promote a certain agenda, especially one where she has strong ties. A staffer may choose NOT to, when subjected to rude remarks. I do not know Ciarlos opinion of CRC, nor do I truely understand her bosses. I object to the 12 lane option being left on the table, but recognize it as high stakes poker, not necessarily the desired result of negotionations. Truth said, I question any need for a new bridge. But this is irrelevant to the conversation.
    I am simply stating that rudeness and namecalling does not add to the discussion,but only inflames. Talk to her in person,but don’t flame her on a blog behind an assumed name.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    JR May 6, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    I became car-free when I first moved here four years ago.. not so hard, even out here by Mt. Tabor.. Anyone can do it if they plan ahead..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    efglez May 6, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    5 years riding here, and I love it. I am glad Mr Mayor is making an effort. One more thing to get me to ‘come around’

    Thanks!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Joe Rowe May 6, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I’m torn. Sam deserves a pat on the back for this small step forward that may save 2 tons of CO2 and get some good press.

    But he deserves 500,000 spanks for building a $4 bridge that will create good press, 5 trillion tons of CO2 and steal funding from 500 bike and transit projects.

    I don’t care who he slept with, but he has gone to bed with the people who want to build this bridge with no regard for heath and budgeting. ODOT runs the show now, and will ignore any recommendation commission.

    Decide for yourself: ally or full of lies?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    peejay May 7, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Oh, and let’s stop using the discounted number that these bridge proponents pulled out of their a$$es. $4 billion? It’s gonna be more like $8 billion, and we all know it. That’d buy a lot of Zipcar credit!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    metal cowboy May 7, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Well said, Joe #27 Catherine is a committed bike commuter and her prior work for cycling gives her props in my eyes. As a staffer she must promote the agenda of her boss. I am opposed to the decision Sam made on the CRC and will lobby, debate, take direct actions, etc. on the policy – but I will not make it personal against Catherine. If I were in her shoes I would find it hard to defend Sam’s thinking/decision on the CRC, honestly, I feel for her and amy R and other staffers who have shown with their previous work that they more than likely oppose the direction Sam is taking on this (I’m making that leap as an opinion and educated hunch, not putting words in their mouths) but I think name calling serves no one. Taking options and alternatives to legislators and the people of Washingotn and Oregon is where I am focusing my efforts.

    I have to give Catherine a shout out for pedaling her kids to school everyday – I am guilty of breaking out the Echo in the rainy season to carpool the young hooligans. ( we’re going to school closer to home next year)

    But even with my Echo carpool confession out tghere my offer to make Sam a “No 12 Lane Bridge” tank top extends to the entire staff. Amy, you’d look great in a black one and Tom M should go with a navy – with lettering in white… very sharp.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Kt May 7, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I think it’s great that Portland’s Mayor is giving up the single occupancy vehicle option for the rest of the month of May.

    I hope it convinces him to extend that to the month of June, then July, then August, until he’s in the habit of using other transportation methods to get around his city.

    Oh, and old&slow, #21, sarcasm will get you nowhere. My commute is 5 miles, one way. I drove today, single occupancy. Does that make me the devil?

    Last time I checked, the BTA and other advocacy groups want to get people out of their cars and onto their bikes for those trips of 3 miles or less. If his commute is 2 miles and he chooses another form of transportation (bike, bus, zipcar, his own two feet) to get to work, then GOOD ON HIM.

    And I like the idea that Clarence #25 had.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    DJ Hurricane May 7, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Well, if CRC Ciarlo is such a wonderful bike advocate, I guess we can overlook her work helping to destroy the livability of Portland. Makes perfect sense to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Ethan May 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Will he still be mayor in a month?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    ms May 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

    #21 – just to be fair, his commute (one-way) is probably closer to 6 miles from Kenton to City Hall, so that’s 12 miles a day biking. Not a lot – but still a significant amount for a new commuter.

    I point this out because Kt mentioned the focus is on getting people to use bikes/public transit for trips under 3 miles. I think it is easy to bike commute when you live in close-in NE/SE and head downtown with ample bike lanes/boulevards – you can be at work in about 20 minutes. I think it gets tougher for people to choose to bike commute when their one-way trip gets over about 5 miles or is in a difficult area (ie SW, outer East, etc).

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    metal cowboy May 7, 2009 at 10:58 am

    DJ – I’m not invalidating your statements, just the name calling. I agree that it’s a conflicted and strange place that catherine finds herself – a long time bicycling and human scaled livability advocate having to mouth a megabridge message. I don’t envy her and I certain am not defending her choice to stay with sam’s admin – If it were me I would have quit the job weeks ago. But this is a tough economy, I’m not her, it’s a job and she’s doing it . So I’m saying keep the heat on Sam’s office any way you want. for my part, I’m focusing on the policy not the person.

    #21 and #36 The commute from up here is almost entirely downhill so it almost a coast one way. If I’m not mistaken, the distance is 3-4 miles. and take fifteen minutes (my pace) into to downtown, maybe 25 minutes coming back. Definitely not 12 miles.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    DJ Hurricane May 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

    I understand your disdain for name calling. I should have chosen a better word, e.g., “dumbfounding,” rather than “dumb” to describe a megabridge advocate who likes to bike. I didn’t mean to suggest that Ciarlo herself is dumb, only that her choice to support the megabridge is inexplicable if she really does enjoy biking around town.

    With bike advocates like Ciarlo, who needs enemies, eh?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    DJ Hurricane May 7, 2009 at 11:39 am

    And, metal cowboy, I’ll add that you are of course correct to focus on the policy rather than the person. And doing a great job, I might add!

    In this instance, though, I think Ciarlo and Adams are legitimate targets for (civil) criticism because they have both claimed in the past — and, amazingly, continue to do so — that they are advocates for livable communities and making Portland “the most sustainable City in the world.” IMHO, this sort of blatant hypocrisy should not go unchallenged.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    metal cowboy May 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    DJ,

    “this sort of blatant hypocrisy should not go unchallenged.”

    No arguement from me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Paul Tay May 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Hey, how ’bout ‘nuther Mayor’s Bike Ride from City Hall during Pedalpalooza? Last year wuz a blast!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Helyettrider May 9, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Bravo, and good luck your honor.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar