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Mayoral candidate Hales’ Facebook ad: “He’ll fight for bikers!”

Posted by on January 20th, 2012 at 12:58 pm


Portland mayoral Candidate Charlie Hales isn’t being shy about positioning himself as someone who cares about bicycling. He’s running ads on Facebook that show him in a bike helmet alongside these words:

“Charlie Hales supported bike lanes and infrastructure in Portland before it was cool. Like his page to see how he’ll fight for bikers!”

It’s an interesting strategy, since “fighting” for “bikers” isn’t exactly the public opinion slam dunk you might think it is here in Portland.

Hales must be aware that current Mayor Sam Adams — who has frequently donned a helmet and done on-bike photo ops — has taken a lot of heat from residents who (mistakenly in my opinion) feel like he’s just a puppet for the all-powerful “bike lobby.” I’ve noticed time and time again that many of Adams’ detractors — or just people who have a particular beef with an issue — will attach their anger at him to bicycles. This is due in part to communications and PR gaffes made by Adams which have led to bike issues and bike-oriented road projects becoming unnecessarily controversial, then sensationalized by the local media and ultimately turning what should be a positive and exciting civic vision into a toxic political football and public scapegoat.

But I digress. Let’s get back to Hales’ ad…

What I also find interesting about it is that when I interviewed Hales’ competitor Jefferson Smith earlier this month (will publish it soon), he explained (rather well I thought) why he feels he’s the best messenger to promote bicycling precisely because he’s not a “biker” himself.

Personally, I love seeing politicians on bikes and talking about bikes; but I cringe when I see them overtly courting “bikers” and talking up a looming “fight.” I’m tired of fights and of Portlanders seeing “bikers” as a special interest that needs to be fought for in City Hall.

How about you? What do you think about this ad/strategy?

For more on Charlie Hales’ ideas about transportation, read my interview with him last month and stay tuned for interviews with Jefferson Smith and Eileen Brady.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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craig harlowJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)AaronfsoreboreAndrew K Recent comment authors
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Elliot
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Elliot

This talk of “bikers” from the mayoral candidates makes them sound out of touch. “Bicyclist” is the consensus label used by bicycle advocates, by a landslide.

lil'stink
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lil'stink

Just so long as he doesn’t fight for mountain bikers, because they don’t count in the hierarchy of Portland cycling.

Scott
Guest
Scott

When are the Razor Scooter people going to get some love?

9watts
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9watts

take one – good: That it is considered wise/necessary/sexy to ally oneself as a candidate with those on two wheels is considered is all for the good. Better than appealing to the trucking lobby or building trades ‘I will fight for the CRC.’

take two – regrettable/pragmatic: Carving the city’s residents up into camps, voting blocks, and the language of fighting is unfortunate but perhaps a sign of the kind of campaigns we get–or of the zero-sum realities of transportation funding?

take three – slick: Politicians for the most part are opportunists. This is about getting elected. He/anyone making such promises may or may not deliver.

Evan Manvel
Guest
Evan Manvel

I think it’s fantastic that a mayoral candidate is promoting his pro-bike credentials.

And it may not be a slam-dunk with all Portlanders, but poll after poll show most Portlanders support improving bicycle transportation. The vocal anti-bicyclist minority is small.

Maybe he can massage the message a bit — but it’s great to see him standing on our side.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

Facebook has ads? thank you AdBlock!

beelnite
Guest
beelnite

J-Maus, you are ON FIRE!!! I love the second paragraph… that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. I think I know who these “local media” persons might be, but…

I digress…

Jessica Moskovitz
Guest
Jessica Moskovitz

Hey J. Maus,

I would love to talk more about this. I’m Charlie’s campaign manager. While I agree that the ad should have said “bicyclists”, and not “bikers”, I don’t think that this ad assumes a looming fight – nor does Charlie.

Charlie is an infrastructure geek – something you know first-hand from your interview. And while that means he is often associated with streetcars, it hasn’t translated into his being associated with many projects that make Portland a better place for bicyclists. (See this video for a bit on Charlie’s work on the East Bank Esplanade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTXOnabgemc&feature=youtu.be)

So yes, as a campaign, we really do want Portland’s bicyclists to know what Charlie has done to make Portland a more livable, bike-able city. And to know that infrastructure that works for all forms of transportation is his expertise. Is that pandering? I don’t think so, but it’s OK if you do, we aren’t going to agree on everything. Charlie will stand up for bicyclists … and skateboarders, and transit riders, and pedestrians.

If there is a better way to reach out to voters about their own interests, however, we are completely open to suggestions

Alison Graves
Guest
Alison Graves

When we (the Community Cycling Center) were doing community outreach as part of our Understanding Barriers to Bicycling project we learned something interesting about the term bicyclist. When we asked people at community events if they were bicyclists time and again we heard, “oh, no. I’m not a cyclist. I just ride my bike.”

While I was attending the Youth Bike Summit in New York City last weekend, I was struck by how many youth used the term biker.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Jessica, Alison, and others,

I think you might be misinterpreting my use of quotes around “bikers”. I used them because it was a term in the ad, not to make any type of judgment about the word itself.

I actually prefer bikers over bicyclists….but that’s not the point!

The point is that labeling anyone by a mode of transportation is inherently unproductive and unneccessarily divisive in my opinion.

I prefer, and suggest, that we focus on words like “the community” and “the transportation problems we face” and how making a city that is more amenable to bike riding is simply how we do business because it just makes sense. No fight. No labels. No winners. No losers. No opportunities for ginned up “controversies” by he haters and their allies in the media.

But my post and thoughts really weren’t about Charlie’s use of words, it was about the ad in general and the things is represented to me.

Thanks for your comments.

anthony sands
Guest
anthony sands

Bikers ride Harley’s. but that’s not really the point. We need someone that can get projects done with out fighting.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

I prefer “people on bicycles” because it emphasizes the people. Bicycling just happens to be something they are doing at the time.

This is in no way an endorsement, but I think Jefferson Smith has the right idea. If we are not seen as a special group then it makes it easier for other people to relate to us and, perhaps, join us.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

I’ll vouch for Charlie’s support for alternative transportation when he was on Council, specifically for a connected grid in new subdivisions (no cul-de-sacs), and for pedestrian friendly commercial buildings, two issues I was working on at the time.

anthony sands
Guest
anthony sands

“people on bicycles” you must be joking. If you are walking you are are pedestrian, if you are driving you are a driver or a motorist, I am a ”people on a computer”. We are special and not just because we don helmets sometimes!

A-Dub
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A-Dub

I think this likely a very targeted ad. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was only shown if you had a certain set of “likes” and “location”. My guess somewhere in your profile you’ve liked “bikeportland” or “cycling”. And also indicate that you live in “Portland”. I put quotes around these because it is user generated information that you’ve provided to Facebook and that they are using to target ads.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Area leaders and politicians make a big mistake in not sufficiently emphasizing that the net effect of their support for bike and pedestrian infrastructure is infrastructure that relieves motor vehicle congestion.

Adams was and still is kind of an easy mark for ridicule. So the cute and cuddly bicyclist references haven’t always worked so well.

Hales seems like he can be an easy going guy, but also, tougher and more resilient than Adams, so maybe his ‘…fight for bikers!’ line will work out.

Whatever the approach is though, it’s definitely important not to fuel the idea that infrastructure for bike travel is some sort of great sacrifice of motor vehicle travel infrastructure. Excessive motor vehicles use has nearly completely filled all major thoroughfares and routes. Use of bikes for travel can offer some relief from this congestion.

Jessica Moskovitz
Guest
Jessica Moskovitz

A-Dub has it right. We are running a number of ads at the moment, highlighting different aspects of Charlie’s history – a reminder, if you will, of what Charlie has done to make Portland the place we know and love.

There’s an ad about civic leadership, about the arts, about the streetcar, about small businesses, neighborhoods, and even brewers. Given the way facebook ads work, I think you’ve probably been only seeing the bike ad (there are two)(I could be wrong).

I am totally with you (and speaking for myself) that the city has slipped a bit into a “bikes v. ….” mode in the last few years. The best options are the ones that work for the people of portland, not one subset. And our modes of transportation shouldn’t pit us against one another.

We, as a community, do face transportation problems – in particular, the big problem of bringing the sort of walkable/bike-able/liveable neighborhoods we enjoy in the inner Portland area out to all of our neighborhoods. Doing what’s best for all of Portland’s neighborhoods is going to take someone who fights for what’s right (no Water Avenue Ramp, for example) for the future of Portland. That includes fighting for bicyclists.

That’s why I chose to work for Charlie.

Facebook ads are challenging – there are only so many characters to work with – but I see your point. Luckily, we can edit them at any time! So feel free to give us feedback, any old time.

007
Guest
007

Go Charlie Go.

Hart Noecker
Guest

Bikers ride Harleys.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

Noeckers ride noecks.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I went to a house party for Jefferson Smith today. Of note: his house party coordinator, Amanda, who I believe is full time staff, is a 100% bike commuter. This includes this weekend over which they’re having 7 parties all over town. Props to her.

OnTheRoad
Guest
OnTheRoad

No matter how much Charlie vaunts his support of bicycle projects, I still can’t get past that he was one of the prime forces behind streetcar development.

Which has been one of the worst-thought-out infrastructure “improvements” to affect bicyclers in years.

And after his city council years, Hales went to work as a consultant at a firm that does streetcar projects across the nation.

Andrew K
Guest
Andrew K

I was at the Equity Foundation luncheon this past week and Charlie was there talking with people. I was actually quite impressed by the fact that he wasn’t shaking hands and saying, “Hi I’m Charlie I want your vote.” Instead he was just…talking…and asking people’s opinions about what we can do better, in this case about equality. When he approached the group of people I was there with most of them didn’t even know he was a candidate for mayor.

I’m still undecided at this point who I’m voting fore, but Charlie took a step in the right direction for me at that moment.