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Canzano strikes out in bike lane blame game

Posted by on September 7th, 2010 at 9:14 am

The Oregonian’s John Canzano is sad that Portland’s Triple A baseball team (the Beavers) played their final home game on Sunday; but instead of using his column to reminisce about innings past, he decided to take a few swings at bike lanes.

What do our bikeways have to do with baseball? Nothing. But that doesn’t stop Canzano from blaming the inability of Portland to hold onto a professional baseball team, at least in part, to “those silly bike lanes.”

Here’s an excerpt from his column (emphasis mine):

“Guilty, too, is the visionless City Council… afraid to ask Portland to act like a major city.

Oh, we have an aerial tram, that ran four times ($57 million) the original budget. And we have those silly bike lanes and a $613 million Portland Bicycle Plan. But what Portland doesn’t have after today is a Triple-A baseball team playing in a ballpark where you can bring your family. A piece of the infrastructure of a city just got ripped out.

I’ll think about that every time I see the underused bike lanes and that blasted empty tram running overhead. And you should never forget the names of the politicians who were on watch the next time you go to cast a vote…

What kind of city does Portland want to be?”

What makes this so surprising is that Canzano isn’t just another columnist, he’s consistently named one of the best sportswriters in America.

Perhaps Canzano simply doesn’t realize that tens of thousands of Portlanders rely on bike lanes every day (and many people take them to Beavers games!), or that, unlike baseball, providing safe and efficient non-motorized transportation infrastructure is an essential service our City is obligated to provide.

Unfortunately, Canzano is using bike infrastructure as a scapegoat when he’s really just upset at Mayor Sam Adams. This is a common occurrence in Portland. Here’s how it works:

Mayor Adams is closely tied to his “bike-friendly mayor” label and there are many people in this city who think he’s nothing more than a pawn of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and “a vocal pocket of elites” — both of which are so untrue it’s laughable. So, whenever someone gets upset at the Mayor’s policies, they look around and find bicycles as a convenient and powerful whipping boy. Journalists have an added incentive to take a few swipes at bicycling because they know it’s a surefire way to whip up emotions (Canzano’s article had 189 comments at last check).

It’s also worth noting that Canzano joins a legacy of negative, biased, and sensationalized reporting about bicycles in The Oregonian. In July of 2008, when criticized about a string of sensationalized “bike vs. car” stories, The Oregonian’s Associate Editor Rick Attig admitted, “Maybe we overplayed this story, but it was compelling to readers…”

Back in June, when NW Examiner publisher Allan Classen went on his “bicycle zealots” diatribe, I shared the following thoughts:

“This is just the latest example of the culture wars around biking that persist here in Portland… Biking is a convenient scapegoat, a frequently tossed political football, and a common source of sensationalized reporting.”

The BTA’s new leader Rob Sadowsky has published an “open letter” to Canzano. A big baseball fan himself, Sadowsky writes that, “It is not now and should never be a choice between investing in baseball or investing in bicycling.” Sadowsky then invited Canzano on a bike ride to show him, “the great things that are going on, talk about the challenges, and lament the loss of baseball.”

Read Canzano’s piece here.

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sysfail
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sysfail

Wow, this guy is really original and creative, does he actually get paid to come up with such amazing journalist.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

In Canzano’s world an activity that does not involve a ball and/or a stick is not a sport.

I too am sorry to see the Beavers go, but c’mon tying bike lane rants to their departure is a real stretch

Todd Boulanger
Guest

Yes – I too was surprised at his discussion of bike lanes and plans in the article yesterday.

It came out of left field. I usually enjoy his articles but I found this one a bit short on content once the raw emotions were dealt with. It seemed more of a tantrum commonly found on FOX or other newspapers.

Merckxrider
Guest
Merckxrider

The cure? The Oregonian should can Canzano–and replace him with Bob Roll!

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Underused bike lanes? Sounds like he’d like to see more of us out there riding…

John Wayne
Guest
John Wayne

Mr John Canzano – the reason why Portland has bike lanes instead of minor league baseball is because this is the kind of town where people actually prefer to participate in sports instead of sit on their collective rear ends and watch other people play sports. That being said, go Timbers!

Vance Longwell
Guest

I KNEW you were going to go off on this Maus. Too funny! He mentions bikes TWICE in his article and he’s out to get bikes?

John Canzano is a troll. Not hyperbole, not rhetoric. I seriously think the guy just sits around dreaming up ways to breed contention. It’s virtually his trademark. I absolutely cannot stand the guy. So, I’m certainly not defending him.

People are perfectly justified in being a little nuts about this. It’s a nutty direction about 5000 Californians are taking this ENTIRE city. He says as much. And about the time you get a mouth-breathing sports writer saying it, you owe it to yourself to listen. Or, write an entire article about two-dozen words from somebody else’s work, instead, your choice I suppose.

bikieboy
Guest
bikieboy

The apparently unintended irony of Canzano’s rant is that he skewers bike infrastructure as a silly, underutilized, expensive government funded boondoggle. These are essentially the same arguments that have been used against assisting the Beavers in any way, and have resulted in their leaving town for want of a place to play.

f5
Guest
f5

Canzano is theatre. He is paid to rub our fur the wrong way, and he uses pretty hack, stale writing in doing so:

“More on that in a minute.”

His job is to gloss-over, skew, ignore facts all while complaining and casting issues as black-and-white. As sports journalism goes, he is the poster-child for why a lot of people are turning to thoughtful, well-written, balanced sports blogs vs. Whiny and contrived sports columnists.

Justin
Guest
Justin

Another funny thing: you can call the tram a lot of things, but “empty” is not one of them. That thing is always packed.

Brian E
Guest
Brian E

Canzano should put the Beaver’s on the same playing field with the Portland Zoo or the Portland Symphony. Isn’t this is a more appropriate league to play in?

Gregg Woodlawn
Guest

Don’t like the slam against bike lanes in the sports section (Or anywhere) in the Oregonian?

Don’t post here.

Call HERE:

The Oregonian’s Newsroom: (503) 221-8100

trail abuser
Guest
trail abuser

Come on guys, baseball is not really a sport. It hardly involves any cardiovascular effort, like golf.

esther
Guest
esther

9% of Portlanders commute on bikes. Do 9% of Portlanders go to Beavers games?

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

Weren’t there several bike to baseball nights at PGE Park this summer. If anything the bikeways and bike lanes increased the attendance of the baseball games. I don’t even like baseball, but I can understand what a bummer it is to lose your local team. The way city funds are allocated, it is not like they are transferable from one item to another anyways.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Funny, my girlfriend and I helped fill up some of the space in those ‘underused’ bike lanes on our way to the Beavers game yesterday. It’s what we’ve done for ALL the games we’ve ever been to.

I wish I had a photo of all the racks & temporary barriers covered in bikes at the stadium yesterday…

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

To flip Canzano’s analogy over, every time I think of the Beavers, I think of the under-utilized seats and stadium. Outside of “holiday” or special event games, they seemed lucky to get 1,500 – 2,000 people. I went to a game this summer, on a “Thirsty Thursday”, with perfect evening weather, and it was laughable how empty the stadium was. If cheap beer and good summer weather can’t draw crowds, I don’t know what will.

I like baseball, but Portlanders are kidding themselves if they think the Beavers were so popular to be “worth saving”. Not everything that is old is worth keeping of life support indefinitely, and it was very telling that no place else (Beaverton, Lents, etc) wanted to host the team. Paulson is a business guy, I’m sure he would have kept the team around if there was a way to actually make money from it.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Empty tram? I worked at OHSU for a period of time after the tram opened and rode it almost daily, with about 50 other people every single time. 100 people moving between OHSU campuses every 3-5 minutes. Troll is correct. It’s all that the Oregonian has anymore, inflammatory statements and opinion pieces. It’s not journalism, it is the local Enquirer.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

yes, another troll with a soap box at the O… *yawn*

I’d bet most bike haters are fans of violent sports so it’s a good channel to use to get people riled up… why blame the real cause when bikes are so convenient…

Andrew (#1)
Guest
Andrew (#1)

If Canzano is one of the finest sportswriters the U.S. has to offer, wow. He writes in the faux-hokey, conversational style so popular among journalists these days, and he loves to manufacture controversy (i.e. Brandon Roy enjoying some alone time during the national anthem). Just *another* reason to boycott the daily zero.

Steve B.
Guest

Sounds like Canzano’s upset about the Beavers, so he’s lashing out at a bunch of successful transportation projects and a planning document that has no funding attached. Hmm..

Alexwarrior
Guest

Your article also perfectly describes Vancouver, British Columbia as well when people want to attack our own bike friendly mayor.

Brad
Guest
Brad

We couldn’t find any unused sewer money to build a ballpark?

I agree that blaming bike lanes is a dumb argument but get ready as bikes (and weak pro-bike Mayor Adams) will be blamed for EVERYTHING until the economy gets substantially better.

Schools cutting music? Blame bikes! Homeless people on streets? Blame bikes! Lack of jobs? Blame bikes! Biz moving to other places? Blame bikes! State budget shortfalls and cuts? Blame bikes! Crime rates up and not enough cops? Blame bikes!

Bikes are an easy scapegoat and still a niche political bloc. No elected official seems brave enough to step up and say, “You’re wrong!”. Get used to it.

Velophile in Exile
Guest
Velophile in Exile

Never let the facts get in the way of your bias and anger, right Canzano? What a joke. This guy calls himself a reporter?

LDA
Guest
LDA

The Oregonian? Do people still read that rag?

bikieboy
Guest
bikieboy

empty tram, empty bike lanes, empty Beaver games…and empty sportswriting.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Daily Zero? Brilliant!!!

Nick V
Guest
Nick V

Someone might have already touched on this but I’ve read Canzano’s articles a total of maybe three or four times. From that limited experience, it seems to me that only things he values in life are the big name sports (baseball, football, and basketball) and clinging to those big name sports like a poser armchair quarterback wannabe. In the process, he has said some pretty bad things about Portland, although I’ll admit that I don’t like our mayor either.

The solution is simple. Gentle readers, if you don’t like him, then ignore him. Mr. Canzano, if you’re frustrated with the sports scene in PDX, then move. I’d rather ride the neighborhood bike lanes to the local ladies’ roller derby, which is seriously quite a show, than help make rich Merritt Paulson even richer.

chelsea
Guest
chelsea

What a lame argument. You don’t hear people clamoring to get rid of any street that is not constantly loaded with cars, but the MAX, tram, and bike lanes are criticized by a certain sort if they are ever anything less than full to the brim at all times.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I read the Canzano piece. In a 735 word piece, he uses the word ‘bike’, exactly twice. At most, it’s a secondary reference. The city and its people need bike lanes more than they need pro baseball parks and pro soccer stadiums.

It’s the leadership and vision of officials with the city that Canzano particularly takes issue with. Like a lot of people, he’s probably right about that. Messing around with guys like Merrit Paulson (If something should happen soccer doesn’t make enough money, I hope the city really can stay free of the debt Paulson is responsible for.)?

Allowing the Trailblazers to call the shots and create the building that is the Rose Garden Arena with its adjoining strip mall?

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Canzano writes dreck like this in order to drive up the hit count and comment count on his articles. Linking to what he writes is giving him exactly what he wants. If you send enough traffic his way he’ll almost assuredly write another article about it.

On the other hand, I imagine your hit count goes up when you link to stuff like this, so I guess you don’t necessarily mind of Canzano pops off like this every now and again.

trail abuser
Guest
trail abuser

why couldn’t they have just installed a giant escalator instead?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

JM:
All this troll bashing is fun and what not but you need to get a poll going like Consumerist did to select “The Worst Company in America” only we get to vot on Portland’s most revolting anti-cycling activist/troll.

See http://consumerist.com/2010/04/congratulations-comcast-youre-the-worst-company-in-america.html

When this person or group is selected they can get a trophy of a SUV parked on top of several cyclist in anguish, sure to warm their sociopathic heart.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest
Spencer Boomhower

Seems like he’s thinking that if he’s losing out, someone else must be winning. And that someone else must be winning because he’s losing out. And he’s gotta hate them for it. Possibly a misapplication of the philosophy of sport to the larger world.

#27 chelsea:

“You don’t hear people clamoring to get rid of any street that is not constantly loaded with cars, but the MAX, tram, and bike lanes are criticized by a certain sort if they are ever anything less than full to the brim at all times.”

That’s a really good point.

Wow
Guest
Wow

I am sure he will milk this negative feed back on his radio show.

KWW
Guest
KWW

Let Merritt Paulson pay for his own damn stadiums.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Esther (#13): The average attendance of the Beaver’s games is slightly under 5,000 a game. Less than one percent of the city’s poulation.

cyclist (#30): Spot on! The only reason Canzano memtioned bike (2x) in his article was to increase his comment count and hope that this site would make reference to it. Someone from the Oregonian blaming bicycles is old news. I think we would be better to simply ignore it when it is as innocuous as Canzano’s article is.

Jim Labbe
Guest
Jim Labbe

“What kind of city does Portland want to be?”

My answer: A place of active- not passive- entertainment where healthier people are out having fun exercising their bodies, not just watching professional athletes.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

Wow @ 34

He can echo the rant in that empty room

Steved
Guest
Steved

It is exactly this kind of anti bike reporting that caused our family to cancel home delivery of the Oregonian after 35 years.

Jerry_W
Guest
Jerry_W

Blame the sale on everything you can think of except the reason…..there wasn’t enough people wanting to attend games. If customers (fans)wanted minor league baseball that bad they would have bought tickets.
Sure, it was the bike lanes…..right. It had nothing to due with the fact that baseball is boring, and Portlanders could care less.

She
Guest
She

Hello,

Am I wrong in thinking that Merrit Paulson made a business decision to bring soccer to portland and baseball was the sacrifice???? Why is Sam Adams being blamed when ultimately it is Paulsen that decided to switch to soccer. Sure he may say he did all he could to move the baseball team but if he really wanted to keep baseball he would have kept it and worked to find a place to build a soccer stadium. He made the choice and he is probably not going to lose $$$ on it but he can push the blame to our City leaders that is for sure!

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

Nice that you all fell for this guys comment.
The comments about him being a troll are spot on and the fact that he works at the worst newspaper in the country helps him gain his status as just an a-hole.
His radio show is hilarious, just a little squeaky troll trying as hard as he can to get an audience to respond.
The same with his newspaper column. Who reads the “o” except senior citizens.
His baseball commentary was as stupid as his bike comment. Both designed to get an arousal.
I would bet he never went to the games.

jim
Guest
jim

Canzano is just one of many, many people frustrated with portlands frivolous spending habits. We don’t have the money to operate as we should- yet we have money for pet projects, including bike stuff

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

jim #42:

Canzano is arguing for public spending to build a baseball stadium, a stadium which would cost more than the total outlay for bike infrastructure spending in Portland in the last 20 years. Canzano’s not frustrated with frivolous spending, he’s frustrated that the city didn’t spend its money on HIS pet project instead of somebody else’s.

kww
Guest
kww

As Stadiums Vanish, Their Debt Lives On

What a timely article, as I said, the public shouldn’t pay for stadiums for rich guys like Paulson, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out Merritt…

Brad
Guest
Brad

Out of curiousity I tuned to Canzano’s radio program on the way home tonight. (Had to drive-dental appointment) He was beating his drum blaming city council and the mayor in particular. After spending a good portion of time calling Sam Adams out, the mayor calls the show.

OUCH! Canzano hit him hard. Canzano kept bringing up a plan to build a park in place of Memorial Coliseum which Adams and the council all but approved before Adams decided the MC was an architectural treasure. Adams kept insisting there was a $30 million dollar gap that kept the plan from happening. Canzano then assails him with, “But you can find twice that for an empty tram! Twenty times that for bicycle plan! Untold sums for dubious mass transit and urban renewal.”

The mayor stuck to his talking points but made the mistake of getting personal. He accused Canzano of not doing any research and that he should stick to “what your show is about”.

Then it got ugly. Really ugly.

Canzano called him an “empty suit” and an “ineffective leader with no clout” due to scandal. He kept pressing the tram and the bike plan. Sam got angrier. Canzano brought up Beau Breedlove and flat out said, “You lied to the voters to get elected! You lost any clout you had! That’s why you couldn’t get a stadium deal done!” and it went on from there. Adams kept regurgitating his story about the money gap and if he tore down MC then the Winterhawks had nowhere to play, etc. Canzano then launched into a diatribe about, “Our schools are crappy and underfunded. Elementary kids have no P.E.. The tram for doctors ran four times over budget. You want $613 million bucks worth of bike lanes. You can find money for stuff that doesn’t help the majority of Portlanders.”

Canzano then continued baiting him with, “You lied! You can’t get re-elected. You might have been thinking about getting to Salem but you’ve got no chance now!”.

Wow! First off, that’s the first time I have ever heard any local media personality go on the attack with such force against the mayor. I was stunned. That a sports guy had more cojones than “real” journalists. On that level, though I disagree with his POV, I was impressed.

Secondly, Adams blew it big time. He should have never called the show to begin with. But in doing so, Adams came off looking weak, whiny, and every bit the mealy mouthed politician Canzano painted him as. For someone who has made a career of maximizing his media exposure, he was completely ill prepared to defend himself against the ambush. I think he expected some softball questions about the topic and an invitation to say, “Go Blazers!”.

Like most of you, I think Canzano is just using bikes as a scapegoat but I think the mayor’s performance tonight is a huge set back for the bike cause. He couldn’t articulate his case. He got upset and personal with the host. Yes, I know that most sports talk listeners are regarded as meatheads by many of you but the anti-bike movement just gained a new hero with broader appeal than a politically focused talker like Lars Larson.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

I can’t understand why people keep bringing up the 57 million figure when they talk about the Tram, OHSU ended up paying for 85% of that figure, the city was on the hook for 15% (about 8 million). People just keep hammering on that $57 million figure as if that’s the amount the city paid to fund the Tram, it’s not. I can’t understand why the mayor couldn’t articulate that.

Just a thought
Guest
Just a thought

Canzano is a big cry baby. As the Mayor put it, Canzano doesn’t know much about anything. He should stick to talking about games and leave the talk about the economy and “real world” issues to adults.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

Blame bike boxes too.