PBOT Director Leah Treat likes bikes

Posted by on June 18th, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Leah Treat’s family vehicle.
(Photo @leahtreat on Twitter)

In case it didn’t come through in the two stories I’ve posted about new PBOT Director Leah Treat today, I want to make it clear that she likes bikes. Treat rides bicycles regularly and she’s not shy about sharing her appreciation of bicycling with the public. Does this matter? Yes. Does it mean everybody’s bike dreams will suddenly come true? No.

As we’ve unfortunately experienced for the past four-plus years, politics often trumps good policy and projects here in Portland. But that being said, I think Treat’s love of cycling and her understanding that bicycling plays a crucial and valuable role in the urban transportation mix, is an extremely important trait that is likely bode very well for Portland’s future. This is especially true when her perspective is combined with that of her two bosses — Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales — both of whom are very supportive of bicycling and seem poised to shake up the local transportation status quo.

What evidence do I have that Treat likes bikes? Here are a few things quickly gleaned from the Interwebs…

On Twitter @leahtreat, many of the stories she shares are about bicycling. She also posted a photo of her new cargo bike back in May…

Also via Twitter, we know she’s married to a “bike fanatic” and she shared a photo of herself astride an “awesome” Divvy Bike:

There’s also this from the Willamette Week today:

Treat tells reporters in a conference call that she’s interested in increasing the percentage of trips taken in Portland on bicycle.

“I get around on a bike,” Treat says. “We’re working hard [in Chicago] to make the roads safe for them. I definitely will be interested in increasing biking’s mode share in a way that’s safe for everybody.”

And it’s also worth noting that Treat has worked closely on the launch of the two largest and most successful bike sharing systems in America. While in D.C., she worked the finances to help make Capital Bikeshare a reality and as chief of staff to Gabe Klein in Chicago she was heavily involved in the launch of Divvy Bikes. Both of those systems are run by Alta Bicycle Share, which happens to be the same company at the helm of Portland’s upcoming bike share system.

With all these ties to bicycling, it will be interesting to watch how the local media portrays Treat. The Oregonian already found it necessary to label her as “a cyclist”, thereby beginning the narrative they’ll use to try and define the motivations behind her every move.

Regardless of how the local powers-that-be try to define Treat, I think her record is promising and I think having her at the helm of PBOT might be just what we’ve needed to get our groove back. Stay tuned…

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    Andrew N June 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Luckily, the Oregonian is becoming less relevant by the day and is likely to not even be a print daily for much longer. Truly a sad sack of a newspaper.

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    anon1q2w3e4r5t June 19, 2013 at 6:48 am

    I see more ties with Alta Bike Share than I see with bicycling.

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    anon1q2w3e4r5t June 19, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Also, the fact that it took a third blog post to make it clear that Leah is a supporter of bicycling, makes it clear to me that she’s not genuinely passionate about it. Genuine passion is what brings real innovation and change.

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      SilkySlim June 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Jaded much?

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      longgone June 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Why the constant buzz kill? It is truly mystifying.
      I use to think I was one of the most off putting people here…
      Not any more.

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        longgone June 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm


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    Kirk June 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Since the Oregonian labeled her as a ‘cyclist’, I am pretty sure I can safely assume that she NEVER drives a motorized vehicle, takes the bus or light rail, or walks, otherwise the headline would have read “Leah Treat, a cyclist, driver, transit user, and pedestrian with big-city credentials, to lead Portland’s Bureau of Transportation”…………am I right?

    It’ll be terrible having someone in charge of PBOT that has never driven, taken transit, or walked before. 😉

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    wsbob June 20, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I’m glad if directors of major city transportation departments can find any time to ride, let alone actually enjoy it and be willing to ride a bike in the traffic environment their department is responsible for managing.

    So far at least, Leah Treat totally seems like the right person for this job in Portland…and the right gal for the job. The PBOT director being a woman that digs biking could be no small inspiration to other women in town that have given thought to doing some biking but haven’t quite been able to persuade themselves to go for it.

    To actually make some dramatic changes in the city’s infrastructure functionality that will enable better use of bikes as an option for travel, I think she’ll really have to pull some rabbits out of the hat…but we’ll see.

    I see no problem in the Oregonian’s story and story headline offering the information that Treat is a cyclist. That she’s a cyclist is important news, much more so than that she’s also most likely a driver.

    And to those that repeatedly, ravenously seek the papers’ demise, you don’t apparently read the paper, so I don’t see the problem there either. There are people in Portland and the metro area that do appreciate having an actual, local newspaper in paper form to read rather than be limited just to electronic BS access to the news. I’m kind of surprised the O hasn’t yet gone to charge readers for its online version of the paper. That format works fairly good for scanning the brief AP stories and reading local writers stories, but reading the paper printed on large format newspaper is a nice thing to be able to do.

    The O still does have a number of good in-house writers. WW or the Merc never have seemed even remotely close to be able to do a better job of reporting the news than the O has done, even in its declining condition.

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