Tour de Lab September 1st

Candidates weigh in on bicycling: BTA releases survey responses

Posted by on October 7th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

“… we have the opportunity to take advantage of our momentum to grow our bicycle-related economy… I support taking a different approach to community development, making neighborhoods less dependent upon automobiles…”
— John Kitzhaber, Democratic candidate for Oregon Governor

“In order to help educate members on transportation policy issues,” the Bicycle Transportation Alliance has published responses to a questionnaire given to candidates for public office in the upcoming elections. The BTA’s Legislative Committee put the survey together and asked four questions about “critical” bike-related issues.

The questions went out to candidates for every major office in the upcoming elections including races for Governor, the U.S. Senate and House, the Oregon Senate and House, County Commissioner races throughout the state, and the race for Metro President. Of the 80 candidates that were contacted, 42 responded and 38 did not.

Here are the four questions they were asked:

1. What programs and other public policy initiatives do you support for making Oregon communities more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists?

2. What programs and other public policy initiatives do you support for improving the safety of road users, particularly vulnerable users (e.g., better education for road users, increased penalties for unsafe vehicle operation, other statutory modifications)?

3. What programs or other public policy initiatives do you support to ENCOURAGE the use of bicycles for transportation?

4. Please list the active transportation projects, if any, in your district for which you have provided assistance or support?

The vast majority of the respondents spoke in support of bike-friendly policies.

John Kitzhaber.

In the Governor’s race, Republican Chris Dudley did not respond to the questionnaire, but three other candidates did. Democratic frontrunner and former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber had the most in-depth responses. It’s clear that he’s either been paying attention or someone on his staff has educated him about the benefits of non-motorized transportation. Here are a few snippets from his answers (emphasis mine):

On policies:

“Bicycling is on the rise in Oregon and we have the opportunity to take advantage of our momentum to grow our bicycle-related economy, improve the health of our children and our natural environment, and promote quality of life in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.”

Road safety:

“I support taking a different approach to community development, making neighborhoods less dependent upon automobiles and creating more opportunities and greater safety for transit, bicycles and pedestrians.”

Encouragement:

“… I have always supported opening up a portion of the Highway Trust Fund to support non-highway investments — particularly for public transit and other alternative modes of transportation; as well as for transportation options, including bicycles, that reduce road usage and preserve the assets in which we have already invested.”

National Bike Summit 2010 - Lobby Day-27

Congressman David Wu
(Photo © J. Maus)

Congressman David Wu, another Democrat, also shared some interesting answers. On road safety:

“… I believe that states should be required to make proportional investments toward reducing bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities as part of their federal safety funding allotments.”

Michael Meo, a Pacific Green party candidate for Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District (currently held by Earl Blumenauer), mentioned a “modest registration fee” for “bicyclers” and also said that “All of the Park Blocks in downtown Portland ought to be closed to motor vehicle traffic, save for a few (let us say, four) arteries allowing cars to go to the north and south across them.”

Republican Karen Bodner, running for Oregon State Senate, also mentioned “bicycle registration fees and licensing.” Pointing out that Lane County is not a bike-friendly place and that most of its citizens “prefer using their auto for timeliness and convenience” Bodner said she doesn’t believe greenhouse gas emissions are a problem. Her solution: “We should be encouraging private sector Research & Development to develop new technology that can make gas even cleaner. Our gas is cleaner than in the past, as is our air and water.”

In the Metro President race, what will likely be the most competitive and important race for the Portland region, former Hillsboro Mayor and The Oregonian-backed Tom Hughes did not respond. His challenger, former leader of land-use non-profit 1000 Friends of Oregon Bob Stacey, had this to say about road safety:

“Our main work should be focused on getting people walking and biking, because data across the world show people learn both to look for and interact safely with bicyclists and pedestrians when bicyclists and pedestrians are more frequent users of the public realm. Again, complete, accessible low-traffic routes are critical parts of helping beginning and intermediate cyclists feel and be safe.”

As a 501 (c) (3) organization, the BTA cannot endorse candidates, so this is simply an educational exercise. Read more on the BTA Blog. You can download the full report here (32 page PDF).

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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

25 Comments
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    Perry Hunter October 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    “Chris Dudley did not respond”. There’s a shocker…

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    Nick October 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    “Bodner said she doesn’t believe greenhouse gas emissions are a problem.”

    I weep for humanity.

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    David Parsons October 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    The really amazing thing about Ms. Bodner’s response is that aside from what appears to be a drive-by snark about bicycle licensing it’s a complete non-sequitur. You don’t believe in global warming? Great! But what the devil does that have to do with bicycles?

    (I’m not even going to touch the claim that the county is bike-unfriendly. If so, there are a _lot_ of people in Lane County who are ignorant of their local customs.)

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    suburban October 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    A peek at candidate Chris Dudley’s website provides his nuanced approach to Transportation policy in general.

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    Did I miss it? Again? October 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Nick-
    You should read her response. It is actually researched (based on scientific findings) and logical.
    Arguable, certainly, but Jonathan took one sentence from a paragraph. Don’t cry until you have read it all and know the facts (which are still up for debate).

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    Spiffy October 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I certainly can tell from these responses who I want heading up our future…

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    9watts October 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    The trouble with folks like Bodner is that their comments suggest that climate change is something you chose to ‘believe in’ like the tooth fairy. Whether Bodner believes GHG emissions are a problem or not isn’t all that pertinent. What is troubling is that folks like her (know they can) get away with using that kind of language.

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    SR October 7, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Troubling how poorly written and outright combative some of these replies from candidates are. In parts I felt like I was reading comments on Oregonlive.

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    9watts October 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    DIMIA
    – Bodner, scientific, researched, logical? Right.

    Here is the relevant paragraph:
    “I don’t believe greenhouse gas emissions are a problem. In fact, ethynol creates its own,
    sometimes worse, emissions than gasoline with 2/3 the energy of gasoline. It also drives up corn prices that do great harm to those farmers and businesses that utilize it to feed people and animals. We should be encouraging private sector Research & Development to develop new technology that can make gas even cleaner. Our gas is cleaner than in the past, as is our air and water.
    CO2 is a plant food and studies show that with additional CO2, plants grow incredibly faster with more biomass, which is important when feeding a hungry world. Temperature drives the CO2 cycle, not vice versa. CO2 is .038% of our atmosphere; for every one million molecules of air, about 380 are CO2. A report in 2000 stated that man’s contribution of greenhouse gases was 6 gigatons (billion tons), Nature contributed 43,000 gigatons! Man is irrelevant that issue.”

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    Perry Hunter October 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    @#5 – “It is actually researched (based on scientific findings) and logical.” – no, it is not. Her response was disjointed, factually incorrect and irrelevant to the question that was asked.

    The question was: “What programs and other public policy initiatives do you support for making Oregon
    communities more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists?” – hers, was a non-answer.

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    Did I miss it? Again? October 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    #9 and #10 –
    You are correct, that part of her response is completely irrelevent to the question. The first two paragraphs of her answer are a perfectly legitimate answer to the question, whether we agree with her or not.

    I mis-typed and did not mean her entire response to the question, but did mean her reasoning behind her ‘greenhouse gas emmissons’ statement.

    That being said, the reasoning behind global warming is (or should be) still open for debate. Either that, or scientists worldwide can just read Bike Portland and have all the problems solved.

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    9watts October 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Ms. Bodner argues poorly (to say nothing of her spelling or in ability to focus on the issue at hand) and does not seem to understand a comprehensive view of safety.
    “I am seven times safer driving my car than bicycling and six times safer than
    walking.”

    The kind of politician I respect is concerned with the collective and the longer run: how can the most people be (or feel) safe as they move about now and in the future? Her calculus is callously narrow and leads, logically followed, to an arms race on the roads, with no account of what happens to her constituents who don’t have or want cars, or to the rest when cars in which she feels so safe sit idly for lack of cheap fuel, and oil to maintain the smooth pavement on which to zoom around is no longer affordable.

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    Perry Hunter October 7, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    @#11 – The validity of Climate Change as a direct result of human activity and subsequent increased atmospheric and marine CO2 concentrations is not the topic of this thread.

    The depth of understanding of issues and the ability of the candidates to clearly address them in an at least literate, if not knowledgeable way, is.

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    are October 7, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    if you are safer in your car than biking or walking it is because of the threat of other cars.

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    Joe Rowe October 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    These are not very hard questions, not even slightly tough. I don’t think anybody expects the BTA to be a watchdog.

    I’m hoping the newspapers will think to ask them where they stand on the $5 billion CRC.

    Dear Ted: Why are you adding lanes behind the traffic jam with the CRC? If you’ve not been to North Portland there, I-5 is bumper to bumper most mornings from OMSI back to Jansen Beach.

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    wsbob October 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    David Wu:

    “…I support robust funding for the Safe
    Routes to Schools program and want to expand it to include high schools. …”

    There’s a good idea.

    District 17 Candidate: Suzanne Bonamici (D):

    “… 1. Oregonians deserve to have transportation options that allow them to get where they need to go safely and inexpensively without having to get in a car—whether that’s to the office, the grocery store, or the library. I support efforts to bring more bike lanes, bike
    boulevards, bike parking, and sidewalks to more communities throughout the state. Inaddition, I support land use planning policies that encourage compact development. ….”

    Clackamas County Commissioners
    Position 2 Candidate: Bob Austin:

    “… 3. I would like to see improved collaboration and funding among key players including ODOT, Metro, Federal Agencies, State Parks, Cities and Counties for funding the completion of bike and pedestrial trail systems. For example, once the final several miles
    connecting Estacada to Barton Park and finally to the Boring trailhead, then it will be possible to safely bike or walk from downtown Portland, through several communities and parks, to the edge of the Mt Hood National Forest along the Clackamas River Basin. A similar funding opportunity would link by trail the City of Sandy and the surrounding rural area to the Springwater Trail System. …”

    Great ideas.

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    toddistic October 8, 2010 at 8:48 am

    the candidates are only telling you what you want to hear…

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    k. October 8, 2010 at 9:05 am

    What incentive is there for “private sector” research into making gas cleaner? The answer is “none”. Changes like this only come about through legislation. Would Bodner be willing to support such legislation? I doubt it. The problem with the Replublicans wanting to put everything in the hands of the private sector is that there are often no market based incentives for doing many of the things that benefit society as a whole.

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    Charley October 8, 2010 at 9:31 am

    That Bodner woman is either lying or doesn’t notice all the folks riding bikes in Lane County. I visit Eugene all the time, and there are as many riders there as in any neighborhood in Portland. SO. . . to say that Lane county is somehow not part of the current increase in bike ridership is just wrong.

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    George Hayduke October 8, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Does Tom Hughes know what he’s running for?

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    wsbob October 8, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Some of the candidates took the BTA questionnaire seriously, giving substantial, well thought out answers. A couple of the major candidates didn’t answer the questionmaire personally, instead having their campaign staff submit answers to the questions. How faithful those answers are to the candidates themselves is anyone’s guess.

    Many candidates, major and minor in experience and service didn’t even answer the questionnaire. Tom Hughes? “…Tom Hughes did not respond. …”, though plenty of other candidates didn’t respond either, such as: Ron Wyden (D), Jim Huffman (R),Earl Blumenauer (D),Greg Walden (R) and Joyce Segers (D),Rob Wheeler (R).

    One reason some of the candidates may not have chosen to answer the questions might be be explained by what one of the candidates mentioned in her answers, in which she prefaced them by noting that the district she served did not include a large metro area where use of bikes for transportation and recreation is a key issue.

    Some of the candidates answers suggested to me that in preparing to write them, they couldn’t decide that the answers they supplied would be taken very seriously by the public.

    Something I thought was missing amongst all the candidates whose answers generally supported improvements to pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, was their not stating more clearly that such infrastructure isn’t merely a perk for people that want to get around by walking and biking, but is in fact, critical to reducing the strain on overburden streets and highways due to excessive motor vehicle use.

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    Evan Manvel October 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    As far as filling out questionnaires personally – campaigns get scores of endorsement questionnaires to fill out, and then many groups who do endorsements expect to schedule an interview. There’s simply not enough time in the day.

    Meanwhile, candidates have to be constantly raising money and talking to voters. So it’s hard. I think that most campaigns split up the work on questionnaires, with hopefully the candidate editing and signing off on the answers, at the very least.

    Clearly, however, there are questionnaires and there are actions.

    Far as I know, Bob Stacey is the only candidate in all these races who’s dedicated a large portion of his career to helping people get around without cars. He’s been busy building communities that are bikable and walkable, as well as communities that have transit options. And right now, his opponent is being backed by big developer money from folks who want to build car-dependent costly sprawl (and didn’t bother to fill out the questionnaire).

    If you want a more thoughtful answer to the CRC than the MegaBridge, and great local communities that are people can walk and bike around, it’s time to give some time or money to Bob’s campaign. bobstacey.com.

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    wsbob October 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    “As far as filling out questionnaires personally – campaigns get scores of endorsement questionnaires to fill out, and then many groups who do endorsements expect to schedule an interview. There’s simply not enough time in the day.

    Meanwhile, candidates have to be constantly raising money and talking to voters. So it’s hard. I think that most campaigns split up the work on questionnaires, with hopefully the candidate editing and signing off on the answers, at the very least. …” Evan Manvel

    Evan, thanks for some perspective on how candidates under a heavy workload may sometimes feel they have to handle questionnaires.

    One of the candidates comments included a statement that caught my eye: “…4. Currently, on my farm – Malinowski Farms – we’re working with THPRD to have the
    Westside trail go thorough the back of our property. …” That’s Washington County Commissioner, District 2 Candidate, Greg Malinowski. Other people also have co-operated to help the Westside Trail gradually become a major regional trail, but it’s encouraging to see a candidate recognize how that kind of personal effort can help create public trail on private property.

    Beaverton residents probably have got a mailer in their mailbox telling them about next Thursday’s Fall Voters Forum at Beaverton City Hall, 7pm. Let this serve as a reminder. A bunch of people are invited to show up and speak, including Hughes and Stacy.

    Both were there last time. Stacy’s reasoning sounded better to me.

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    mh October 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I guess it’s good to be of a constituency that at least some politicians suck up to. And you can identify which ones to be afraid of if they get elected when they claim to support bike lanes on all roads.

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    Trek 3900 October 10, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I’ve watched US politics as an adult for over 30 years. Each year, no matter which party is in power, things get worse. Now, with $14,000,000,000,000 in debt the US is bankrupt, with a total economic collapse a near certainty. So, I don’t put much faith in anything they say – they will say whatever they think is most likely to get a vote. They’re all duds.

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