Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you. The Oregonian’s strange, anti-bike editorial last week, seems to have laid the groundwork for Sunday’s front page story that unfairly and inaccurately blames bikes for PBOT’s budget problems.
As you can see from the front page image, under massive font that reads, “Portland’s Roads to Ruin” is the sub-headline, “What’s a priority? Bike routes, conferences, and staff. What’s not? Repaving and cleaning your crumbling roads.”
Regardless of the facts and issues this story brings up — many of which are important and valid — this story lays bare The Oregonian’s fixation with bicycle scapegoating. Their willingness to divide Portlanders for no other reason than to feed their own political agenda and the “us vs. them” mentality is simply appalling.
But this goes beyond me being sensitive to bicycling getting an undeserved bad rap.
This type of unnecessarily divisive reporting is not only detrimental to our ability as a region to come together to actually solve our transportation problems; but, given how emotions sometimes play out on the streets, intentional anger-baiting at the expense of bicycling can lead to dangerous interactions between road users.
And it’s not just this one opinionated blogger who is concerned…
North Portland resident and carfree mom Jessica Roberts wrote this via Twitter:
“Dear @oregonian, I don’t appreciate you trying to incite culture war on my daily bike ride. I’m just trying to get where I need to go.”
Sarah Gilbert is a writer and mother of three who lives in Southeast Portland (she also gets around without a car). Gilbert is disturbed by The Oregonian story (via Twitter):
“… promoting divisiveness to entrance readers. I’m disgusted… I’m seriously feeling like crying over this front-page above-the-fold Sunday paper headline. just tell city my form of transport destroys? fighting words. thanks, @oregonian. I already have a hard time riding with my kids in pdx. why don’t you stoke the fire a bit? sick, sick.”
And graphic artist Spencer Boomhower, writing on Facebook, responded by saying:
“To see something as blandly and quietly sensible as cycling being held up to be used as a pinata for the haters in articles like this kinda makes my blood boil.”
I’m too exasperated to spend more time detailing all the problems with this article (the Portland Mercury just posted a great recap of its flaws); but I felt you should know about it because it will unfortunately have an impact on the local political and public narrative around transportation.
Two mayoral candidates (Hales and Brady) have already responded to it and I won’t be surprised if Mayors Adams issues a statement of his own.
Read the article and judge for yourself whether it unfairly scapegoats bicycling or not.