(Photo: Gerding Edlen)
His comments show that planning for a future where cars play a much more minor role in our transportation mix isn’t only on the minds of activists.
Edlen lays out the reality that Portland is likely to see millions more people moving here in the not so distant future and in order to prepare for that we need to create new industries (cough, bicycles and bike parts, cough) and create streets where people can safely walk and bike.
Edlen also talks about “resiliency” as it pertains to a sustainable city (his firm specializes in green building) and shares this story:
“I think that deeply sustainable cities are the answer. You know, a good example here in Portland is the bike culture. I mean, I think that’s way cool. First of all, I think it’s on fire. I love to see that. And you know, we got a building that, you know, we screwed up our nerve and we cut back on parking dramatically and – you know what?- we can’t sell all the parking. And our biggest problem in the building? Bicycle tire marks going down the corridors. I think it’s a great thing.”
When the interview turned to the role of innovation, Edlen once again turned his thoughts towards transportation:
“… we would like to move to where LEED platinum is kind of our standard, and beyond. But, LEED is just about the building, and we always thought about community and we always thought about – you know, one thing I like to think about a sign of success is jaywalking. And meaning that if a pedestrian can feel like he or she can own the streets, own the sidewalk and own the street, you know, that’s a great thing. Because then the auto doesn’t…
We used to think that getting to a LEED platinum building was like the Holy Grail. But it’s not… Thinking about how to create a sense of community around a place, a neighborhood that people want to own – maybe not in a legal sense but in a psychological sense – and how they can live and work and play in a fashion that’s softer on the community and softer on the environment and healthier. Because, good lord, think about diabetes. If we could get people out to walk, you know, opposed to drive ten blocks. That’s a big deal.”
The final question for Edlen was how he sees Portland 10 years from now…
“I think ten years from now our transportation system is probably even more refined. I love the article in The Oregonian about a $16 million shortfall in the Bureau of Transportation’s budget and there was a quote that one of the biggest reasons is because more people are driving more fuel efficient cars, or they’re getting out of their cars. That’s a great problem to have. So I see fewer cars.”
I couldn’t agree more with Edlen about the PBOT budget. The historic level of cuts they face is an opportunity to finally restructure our approach to transportation funding and policies.
Many people assume that big-time corporate developers like Edlen are the enemy or that they’d cringe at any suggestion of a diminished role of automobiles in cities. Mark Edlen shatters that stereotype and hopefully City Hall is listening. Read the full interview on BlueOregon.