Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

BTA votes no on PBOT’s proposed budget

Posted by on February 1st, 2010 at 3:20 pm

bike lane on Naito Parkway

A freshly paved Naito Parkway
came with new bike lanes.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation submitted their proposed 2010-2011 budget to City Hall today and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance is not happy with it. Michelle Poyourow, advocacy director of the BTA and member of the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee, was the 13-member committee’s sole no vote on the budget proposal.

“Our interest is for the City to make strategic transportation investments, not the ones we’ve made in the past which have resulted in the current problems we have. We want strategic investments for the future we are aiming for… Where people can be active, and not use fossil fuels.”

Poyourow says she pushed members of the committee to consider her arguments. She also says committee members were given only 45 minutes to analyze the capital budget before being asked to vote on it.

“We need to be paving roads, but when we do that we need to bring them up to future standards.”
— Michelle Poyourow, BTA

At the core of Poyourow’s concern is that PBOT’s proposed capital budget spends too much on paving and street preservation at the expense of other projects. “It’s a capital budget for the past… It includes a lot of road and bridge paving that’s millions of investment in roads that doesn’t turn them into infrastructure that restores our future — it just restores them to smooth infastructure that serves our past.”

Poyourouw said she understand the need to pave roads, but she wants the renovated roads to include non-motorized features whenever possible. “We need to be paving roads, but when we do that we need to bring them up to future standards.”

While she voted no on the budget proposal, Poyourow said she feels her concerns were heard by PBOT officials. “This is the beginning of a discussion about strategic investments.”

In their budget submitted today, PBOT includes $129 million in captial improvement projects spread across six categories: Neighborhood Livability ($9.6 million), Centers and Main Streets ($83 milllion), Freight and Industrial Area ($8.3 million), Local Street Development ($1.3 million), Preservation & Rehabilitation ($22.3 million), and Special Projects ($4.5 million).

PBOT also submitted their “Decision Packages” which reflect where they plan to trim 4% of their budget and how they want to spend their allocation from H.B. 2001, the new state law that will pump $14 million into PBOT’s coffers.

Here’s how PBOT is requesting to spend that $14 million

  • $4 million for capital project matching funds;
  • $2 million in “Smartmeter Debt Service”
  • $3.4 for “Arterial Streets – Contract Paving”
  • $1 million for “Pedestrian and Bike Safety” (from the Affordable Transportation Fund)
  • $400,000 for “Pedestrian Safety Improvements”
  • $640,000 for “Arterials with no Sidewalks”
  • $230,000 for “Safer Routes to Schools”
  • $500,000 for “Street Light Replacement”
  • $1 million for “Deficient Bridges/Overpasses”
  • $300,000 for “High Crash Corridor Program”
  • $500,000 for “Signal Rehab/Optimization Program”
  • $100,000 for “Trip Reduction Program”

From here, the budget goes to City Hall and it’s up to the Mayor and Commissioners to reconcile these requests and come up with the final budget they will adopt in June. Stay tuned for more coverage of bikes in the budget. For previous coverage of this topic, check our “PBOT Budget” tag.

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  • david....no the other one February 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Thank goodness Michelle was there. But what would be “OUR” future needs standards for roads? maybe that’s what we need to discuss.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Does anyone know why the parking meter debt revenue is not being handled through user fees – ongoing parking meter fees? $2m is a chunk of money!

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  • Todd Boulanger February 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Pavement resurfacing is the prime time to implement bikeway facilities cost effectively and with the least effect on business owners. This is especially true out in the ‘bicycle wilderness’ east of 82nd Ave/ north of Kenton – and other annexed areas of county infrastructure.

    …from Jonathan’s article it sounds as if PBoT’s transportation plans / budget are still not Copenhagen quality – Michelle’s concern. True?

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  • bahueh February 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    BTA needs to come up with better counter points besides “we don’t want to use fossil fuels”….Michelle’s own daily existence, as well as nearly everyone in this country, depends on fossil fuel to some extent. sorry, it’s a fact. With better efficiency standards and price increases, that won’t change for a few hundred years so the argument currently rings a bit hollow with most folks. The BTA needs to find a better, current, and less ideologically based argument for their opposition…or continue to be marginalized and ineffectual.

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  • bahueh February 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    “restores my future”?
    where did my future go?
    I didn’t know the BTA had a homing device on “my future”….

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  • Jeff Bernards February 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Why spend millions repaving roads only to have them chewed up by studded tires? Preservation and Conservation should be part of the plan.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Is it too late to introduce a bill for the Oregon special session?…to either ban or tax studded motor vehicle tires…with the income dedicated to street resurfacing/ lane marking.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Wow!?!…did I just see what i thought I saw…an Allstate ad (‘Why not save today and down the road”) on BikePortland for car insurance!

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    • J.R. (Intern Extraordinaire) February 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

      You may have. Google Adsense does not have a mechanism for blocking specific ads until after they are displayed. We would love to have greater control over the ad filtering but for now, we will have to remain vigilant. Drop us a note with the offending ad URL and I’ll check into it. Thanks for understanding that this site is supported, in part, through ad dollars.

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  • ScottG February 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    One point that we should consider is the fact that if regular maintenance of roads is not kept up (including re-paving at certain intervals), the road will quickly reach a state of disrepair that will require a complete re-build of the road. And that is many times more expensive than it would have been to do the more basic re-paving when needed.

    Promoting bicycling and public transportation is an important way to reduce the cost of maintaining our roads, but we risk taking even more dollars away from bicycling and transit infrastructure if we let our roads get to a critical level due to lack of maintenance.

    Just some things to keep in mind as people discuss the high cost of road repair.

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  • Kevin Wagoner February 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    What is, Arterials with no Sidewalks?

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  • are February 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    re comment 10. for example:
    which is something “we” want. also, frankly, i would not mind some repaving here and there. have not been able to find a copy of the proposed budget online. anyone?

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  • SE Cyclist February 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Todd #8 & JR #11:

    You want to block an ad for a company that sells automobile insurance among other things?!

    No wonder there are motorist/bicyclist conflicts.

    I have no connection to Allstate or any other insurance provider, other than as a consumer.

    By the way, State Farm has paid me almost as much for a claim for a stolen bicycle as they’ve paid me for damage to my car.

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  • Lazy Spinner February 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    So tell me, is BTA…

    A. An advocacy organization dedicated to promoting bicycle use, safety, and better bike infrastructure?

    B. A public health lobbying group?

    C. An semi-militant environmentalist movement focused on the elimination of fossil fuel use and personal automobiles?

    D. A social justice mission?

    It seems to me that they need to have a good hard “Come to Jesus!” session to re-focus their mission and, perhaps, do some much needed house cleaning. Between this big “F-YOU!” to PBOT when you are asking them to “Build It!”, Miss Poyourow’s infamous CRC tantrum, their pitiful recent lobbying efforts in Salem, the Bricker episode, and the lack of transparency to members, I do not believe that the BTA is an organization that benefits Portland’s cyclists any longer. Why should anyone with power in Oregon or anyone that rides a bike take this schizophrenic and disorganized band seriously?

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  • Todd Boulanger February 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Hi JR – thanks for the note…no I was not asking for blocking of the ad – I just thought it was interesting – kinda like BikePortland being old enough/ respected to take dad’s car ‘out for a drive’ (there being enough eye balls for ad revenue)…now if it becomes so frquent (like bicycling magazine in the 1990s…with more SUV ads than bikes then I might have to get rough. 😉

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  • Todd Boulanger February 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    …and there is always hope that Allstate might then offer bicyclist insurance which includes uninsured motorist coverage…more on the road protection than my renters insurance by allstate.

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  • hanmade February 1, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    bahueh #4,
    The oil will be running out mid century. Saudi Oil’s production is starting to drop, no massive fields are being found anymore, China & India are gulping oil faster every year. The kids of today will have none of the unlimited use of oil that we have had. We need to start building alternative transportation systems now. Ride yer bike!

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  • Michelle (BTA) February 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Wow, those are the clunkiest quotes I think I’ve ever given for a story…and I don’t even remember most of them. I probably need to drink more coffee.

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  • are February 1, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    re comment 14

    if the proposed budget does not make adequate provision to “build it,” then the BTA is giving consistent messages here, after all. and that campaign is directed to the city council, not to PBoT, anyway.

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  • Mike February 1, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I second the studded tire regulations. I grew up on the east coast and when a road was paved it was new for a decade. Here a paved road (especially the highways) don’t stay new more than a year or two.

    I go to the mountain quite often (too often) and studless snow tires work fantastic.

    The ruts create hazards when they fill with water, causing cars to drive off center in the lane.

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  • jj February 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm


    Weren’t we supposed to be paying $10/gallon for gas by now? Your self-serving “peak oil” predictions were way off before, why should we believe them now?

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  • 9watts February 2, 2010 at 12:25 am

    “Your self-serving “peak oil” predictions were way off before, why should we believe them now?”

    Don’t take it from me. How about Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which for a long time has been just as dismissive as you seem to be of the idea that PEAK OIL is a fact and a certainty, even if we don’t know the exact date.
    * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Published Jun 9 2009 by ASPO-USA, Archived Jun 10 2009
    CERA official acknowledges “peak oil is here”
    by Staff

    Speaking at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC on 8 June, CERA Global Oil Group Managing Director Jim Burkhard began and ended his talk by stating that “CERA acknowledges that peak oil is here, you heard it from a CERA person.”

    Mr. Burkhard spoke at a CSIS session on “Transforming the Transportation Sector: Energy Security, Climate Change and Transportation”.

    During his presentation, Mr. Burkhard explained that in acknowledging that peak oil is here, CERA’s interpretation is that US gasoline demand peaked in 2008 and is expected to decline in future years. He also stated that CERA maintains its position that the reasons for US liquid fuel demand having peaked are economic and geopolitical in their nature, rather than in any way driven by geologic factors.

    ASPO-USA Advisory Board member Scott Pugh was present and provided this report.

    Mr. Burkhard’s presentation should be available soon under “Events” at:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CERA has been a leading voice among peak oil skeptics. Even though they claim the reason for peak oil is economic/political rather than geological, this is a significant admission.

    Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) “is a leading advisor to international energy companies, governments, financial institutions, and technology providers. IHS CERA delivers critical knowledge and independent analysis on energy markets, geopolitics, industry trends, and strategy. ”


    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    But peak oil is really primarily an economic constraint in that it promises price spikes and shrinking supplies. Difficult circumstances to be sure. Climate Change, by contrast, represents a total shift in everything. If we were paying more attention to what climate change demands we do, we’d make haste to leave every remaining barrel of oil, pipeline full of natural gas, and lump of coal deep underground right where we found it.

    And to # 14 above, who appears to worry that the BTA is “focused on the elimination of fossil fuel use and personal automobiles” let’s not forget that automobiles have for more than a century been one of the best ways to eliminate fossil fuels. And Climate Change, besides being loads of fun for the whole family, will do a fine job of breaking up our love affair with personal automobiles. If the BTA or anyone else out there is calling attention to these anticipated changes, more power to them.

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  • jim February 2, 2010 at 12:28 am

    ” We need to start building alternative transportation systems now.”
    We need to bring in the LNG to power trimet, Build some nukes to power light rail, quit tearing down the dams

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  • matt picio February 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

    jj (#21) – Peak oil is already here, JJ – $10/gallon will happen eventually, just not now – the post-peak period is discerned by price volatility, and if you look at the historical gas / oil prices since 2000, the pattern becomes glaringly evident.

    re: the story – Way to go, Michelle! Keep up the awesome work!

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  • Anonymous February 2, 2010 at 8:05 am


    There’s a huge difference between resurfacing and implementing bikeway features.

    Resurfacing can take just days, implementing bike infrastructure, can require widening the road, which means moving both curbs and sidewalks. This adds weeks or months to the time line and greatly impacts local retailers.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 2, 2010 at 8:40 am


      Actually, it’s possible to add “bike infrastructure” without widening the road (see buffered bike lanes and cycle track downtown). As for “greatly impacts local retailers”… i agree with you on that one.

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  • are February 2, 2010 at 8:31 am

    and where is global warming. i had to wear a sweater just last week.

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  • Jackattak February 2, 2010 at 8:39 am

    @ are # 25 –

    I hope that was sarcasm.

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  • scotth February 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Nothing makes my blood boil like happening upon fresh pavement with no improved sidewalks or bike facilities. Sometimes the new layer of asphalt is slapped on so poorly that the sides are even worse than before.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 2, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Bravo Michelle! Glad that someone is holding PBOT’s feet to the fire to walk the talk. Platinum Bike City, my eye!Who else was on this committee?

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  • bahueh February 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

    hanmade…peak oil? seriously?

    as prices go up, it will become more and more profitable to reopen oil fields in places that have been previously closed due to cost restrictions.
    more and more oil fields are being discovered all the time, energy efficiency awareness is growing, and I think we’re all aware that the conservation everyone would like to see starts in around $4.00/gallon…

    as for riding my bike, I do…about 8000 mile a year between training, commuting, and racing. thanks for the advice however.




    we may be near peak oil..however it will not be realized in your lifetime…sorry.

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  • 9watts February 2, 2010 at 10:14 am

    “and where is global warming. i had to wear a sweater just last week.”

    Right. That is how we know that global warming is hokum.
    Did you also notice that January’s avg temperature for Portland this year was almost ten degrees F higher than December’s average? Climate Change is anticipated to manifest itself in increased volatility in weather patterns.
    *If* the thermohaline cycle shuts down and things get chilly in Europe, people there will need to wear a lot more than ‘a sweater.’

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  • Dan February 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

    $10 gas about now would take things a long way in the right direction.

    Cigarettes would be cheap, too, if the government (still) wanted it that way.

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  • joe adamski February 2, 2010 at 11:10 am

    the discussion of peak oil mixed in with the discussion of the BTA not approving the Citys’ budget seems .. confusing?
    That said, the cost of transportation is, and has been,for decades, rising continuously. Those with greater incomes may be better equipped to absorb those higher costs, but those with lesser incomes will be forced to prioritize. The discussion of improving facilities for bikes seems more an issue of economic equity than one of ecology.That the BTA balks at the maintainence of the status quo speaks well of them,IMHO. Continuous improvement of safe,usable facilities for bikes and peds,as well as transit might impress the peak oil folks,but the benefit will be for those who can’t or will not pay the ever increasing costs of fossil fuels. I personally subscribe to the ‘mad max’ scenario that there will be those who battle to the death for that last drop of oil. I would prefer not to be among those numbers, and feel our City needs to plan for the long term that will not include ever increasing dependence on oil.

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  • Brad February 2, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Electric cars, hyper efficient hybrids, natural gas, hydrogen, fuel cells…

    Lots of ways to power CARS. If gas goes to $10+ / gallon, these alternatives become reasonable and profitable. Never underestimate the ability of capitalist industry to adapt to changing demand. Two things I am certain of: People in industrial nations are essentially lazy and crave comfort. Corporations are very good at sniffing out profitable innovation.

    Cars are here to stay. Start lobbying for a better SHARED transportation system rather than planning for a vehicular demaise that will not happen.

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  • 9watts February 2, 2010 at 11:49 am

    “Electric cars, hyper efficient hybrids, natural gas, hydrogen, fuel cells…

    Lots of ways to power CARS. If gas goes to $10+ / gallon, these alternatives become reasonable and profitable.”

    On your list is only one fuel: natural gas, and the price of that will rise along with oil. The other four approaches to keeping the dream of automobiles alive rely on “new” ways to harness or transform the same old fossil fuels so that you can skip the gas tank.

    “Never underestimate the ability of capitalist industry to adapt to changing demand. Two things I am certain of: People in industrial nations are essentially lazy and crave comfort. Corporations are very good at sniffing out profitable innovation.”

    True, but fossil fuels don’t have substitutes just lying around waiting for those capitalists to turn them into products. If they did, we’d know about it. Bikes (which you curiously didn’t mention in your list) are an alternative to automobility, or at least some of this think of them that way.

    “Cars are here to stay. Start lobbying for a better SHARED transportation system rather than planning for a vehicular demaise that will not happen.”

    Sure. Let’s revisit this every so often and see about that. Nissan executives don’t share your optimism about the future of cars:
    Nissan exec: Car culture is fading
    Worldwide, people are losing interest in automobiles, one executive says.

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  • Vance Longwell February 2, 2010 at 11:51 am

    How about instead of posting my comment here, I post my comment here instead? That way you may opt-in rather than censor me, or deploy the usual dog-pile.

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  • Vance Longwell February 2, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Doh! Stupid clip-board. I meant here. Sorry. 🙁

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  • gregg woodlawn February 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I agree with Lenny.
    Bravo to Michelle!

    I know that this is just one article. I wasn’t there. I’m sure that there is more to this story.

    I haven’t always been happy with the opinion of the BTA (Supporting bicycle tax, supporting a 12 lane bridge for a while.)

    I’m happy to read that the BTA is on the edge pushing for the city to do more with our tax monies. This represents my political opinion.
    I’ve always been very impressed with Michelle’s presentations. BikePortland.org is filled with years of extremely well thought out quotes from her.

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  • Memo February 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    I just wanted to commented on your comment to anonymous who said adding bike infrastructure “can require widening the road” so your point that “it’s possible” top add infrastructure “without” such extensive measures was actually covered in the original comment and your correction seems unwarranted and misplaced.

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  • saturday February 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    There is no strategic value in losing a vote 12-1. What Michelle should have been doing instead of working on her talking points for the BikePortland interview is working with her committee colleagues to pick off at least a few votes so the vote wouldn’t be so lopsided, and therefore irrelevant.

    Can somebody please send the BTA to political organizing school? They need it, badly.

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  • are February 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    grass, corn, cows, and, yes, people are mechanisms for storing and releasing energy. coal and petroleum are concentrated forms, and it required tens of thousands of years — maybe millions, i do not pretend to be a geologist — to get them to where they are. by definition the supply is finite within any shorter window of time.

    burning anything releases energy a lot faster than it went in, which does two things: it depletes the supply of whatever it is you are burning faster than it is being created, and it puts the waste products of combustion back into the system faster than they are being absorbed.

    i do not know or particularly care when peak oil did or will arrive, but obviously it is not a fiction. a system that relies on burning stuff is by definition unsustainable, if by “sustaining” you mean keeping things approximately the way they were.

    there are of course a hundred other factors that make the idea of sustainability not really achievable, most notably the continued growth of the human population, but burning stuff accelerates the process.

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  • Lenny Anderson February 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Hey getting around by bike is fun, and it needs to be safer and more convenient.
    No knock on cars…it fact the more bikes, the easier it is on folks who want to drive, move freight, whatever.
    Portland talks and talks, even talked itself into a Platinum status, but the walk is just not there yet. Michelle was on the mark to not sign off on the same old, same old from PBOT. See you at Council for the Bike Master Plan.

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  • David Hampsten February 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    For the record (and PBOT keeps pretty detailed notes), the BTA representative came late to the PBOT Budget meeting, and BTA’s vote on the budget criteria and on the final submitted budget was not counted. The one lone vote against both items actually came from the East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) representative (myself).

    The EPAP is opposed to the PBOT budget because it fails to address social equity issues in poorer areas of Portland, such as in North & East Portland, in Cully, and many other areas with gravel streets, missing sidewalks, poor bike infrastructure, few streetlights, and dangerous high-speed auto traffic.

    If anyone wants to actually help East Portland (the area east of 82nd to 162nd/174th) make improvements, please join EPAP: http://www.eastportlandactionplan.org

    Also, the EPAP Bike Subcommittee meets every third Thursday at 6:30 PM at Muchas Gracias Mexican Restaurant, 1307 NE 102nd Ave. All are welcome.

    David Hampsten
    East Portland Action Plan

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    • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 2, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      Thanks for that David. I was not aware that that’s how the voting turned out. I must not have been clear with the PBOT spokesperson when I confirmed my knowledge of the votes. And as for PBOT keeping detailed records.. that might be… but those records don’t always get published to their website in a timely fashion. I had a records request ready to go for this story, but didn’t end up sending it in.

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  • Lazy Spinner February 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    LOL! Ladies and gentlemen, your great hope for cycling in Portland…BTA!

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  • AaronF February 3, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Great reporting David!

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