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An interview with mayoral candidate Eileen Brady

Posted by on April 4th, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Eileen Brady, photographed in BikePortland’s downtown office.

With primary elections just over one month away, it’s time to get serious about who will be our next mayor. In an effort to shed light on the top candidates, I’ve sat down and interviewed all three of them (you might have already read my interviews with Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith).

I recently sat down with Eileen Brady (who, it should be noted, was the only candidate who brought along an adviser). Brady, 51, was born in Chicago and came to Portland after going to college in Washington. She worked in the grocery business and played a role in the launch of New Seasons Market. She currently lives in Southeast Portland with her husband and four children. Read the interview below…

What role has bicycling played in your life?

“I started a club when I was a kid called the Speed Racer Club, in the 70s, north of Chicago. We had a newsletter and all the kids were in it. I am a bike commuter, a long-distance biker. I actually blew my knee out biking and took a couple years to recover. I think of myself as a multi-modal transit person. I have a Trek that’s my commuter bike. I’m a fair weather biker, probably 2-3 times a week. Winter? Won’t do it. I have a road bike too. I have done Cycle Oregon… love the Monster Cookie Ride.”

What have you heard about bicycling on the campaign trail? What are folks saying about it?

“For some people, there’s a war going on against bikes. There’s an anti-bike sentiment in Portland. I personally think it’s unnecessary. It didn’t have to get to this point.”

“I’ve been in 54 of 95 neighborhoods, in over 200 community meetings and I can tell you something, people talk about bikes. Some people are passionate, they love the bikes and it’s their lifestyle and it’s the symbol of Portland. That’s how I would look at it myself.

And for some people, there’s a war going on against bikes. There’s an anti-bike sentiment in Portland. I personally think it’s unnecessary. It didn’t have to get to this point. For instance, if I go to an event in north or northeast Portland, I might hear, ‘You’re going to spend millions of dollars in my neighborhood and you’re going to put in a bike lane?! Do you have any idea what this neighborhood really needs?! We need affordable housing, we need our historic retail to be maintained, we need food for our kids!’ Those things are much more basic. Or in a community of seniors, I might hear the following question: ‘Do you like bikes?’ and if you say yes, they might not vote for you.

And it’s just a reflection of the sentiment that’s out there. it’s gotten to be too divisive, there’s too much conflict over something that should simply be an accepted part of our community.”

Why do you think that anti-bike sentiment has gotten to this point?

“One of the key issues facing Portland and the bike community is rising above this conflict; that I think in many ways is unnecessary. 90% of the BTA members also have a car. This is really not about bikes versus cars, this is about, how do we all coexist together?

Why has this happened? I think we’ve had some unfortunate communications from City Hall around the bike projects. So I think there’s some responsibility there — those seeds get planted and they permeate.

For ex