Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 6th, 2010 at 11:13 am
Last week I shared a story about Jesse Cornett, the former PSU staffer who’s making a run to fill Dan Saltzman’s seat on Portland City Council. I met Cornett on an organized bike ride (a common place to meet council candidates these days), but I also heard through the grapevine that he was highly savvy and sympathetic to the idea of using bicycles as transportation.
But what I didn’t mention was that Cornett’s main opponent in the race, Mary Volm, also has some major bike-oriented credentials. The main thing we’ve heard so far about Volm is that she was behind the failed attempt to recall Portland’s bike-loving Mayor Sam Adams. But what some may not realize is that Volm had a 20-year career with the City of Portland and was one of the key figures promoting bicycles during Portland’s biking golden age of the early-mid 1990s.
As a spokesperson for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Volm helped create and carry out a huge bike event called BikeFest, an annual event that began in 1993. BikeFest — which was spawned by an idea from then Transportation Commissioner Earl Blumenauer to commemorate new bike lanes on the Burnside Bridge — closed the bridge down and drew 10,000 people to revel in over 70 vendor booths, prizes, live music, and more. In a story about the event published in The Oregonian on September 27th, 1996, Volm said:
“We need people to use bikes to go for milk or visit friends,” Volm said. “It helps bring neighbors together, and it’s good for local businesses. Every bike mile is a mile less of pollution. And riding is great for you…
For 50 years the city has put billions into the infrastructure for cars, if we are going to absorb the 500,000 to 725,000 people expected in the next 20 years, we have to look beyond the cars.”
We understand that whoever wins this election will not take over the all-important Bureau of Transportation, but having bike-savvy City Commissioners — no matter what bureaus they oversee — is very important. And if Volm still has this perspective about transportation, well, that’s something about Mary we can bet behind.
We’ll have more on Volm, Cornett and the other three contenders in this race in the coming weeks.