Publisher’s note: We’ve been covering the work of local bike activist group BikeLoudPDX since their first meeting back in August. Since then they’ve been busy with their campaign to tame traffic on SE Clinton. The update below was written by their founder, Alex Reed. It follows a meeting the group had with top-level PBOT staff last week.
Since August, BikeLoudPDX has been advocating for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to take action on SE Clinton Street. Clinton was one of the city’s first two “bike boulevards” and continues to be one of the busiest bike streets in Portland. However, as more people have moved to Portland, and especially as more buildings have been built on close-by SE Division Street, Clinton has felt less comfortable to bike on. The reason is simple: Too many people are driving on it.
In the meantime, PBOT has done nothing to deter people from using Clinton to get to or bypass the new destinations on Division.
We at BikeLoudPDX sounded the alarm bell in August and have been working since then to convince the City that auto diverters are urgently needed. On Thursday, we met with City staffers to discuss our concerns about Clinton.
This has been a wild ride already, and we’re only just beginning our campaign in earnest. Here’s what we’ve learned:
1. People who bike in Portland care about this. A lot.
When fellow activist Joe Rowe set up our meeting with PBOT last week, I thought it would probably be me and him and a few other die-hards. Then when I saw that there was a 60-mph windstorm forecast for the six hours surrounding our 5:30 meeting, I worried that it would be even smaller. But about twenty people ended up showing up, including two families, who brought three kids between them to an endless-to-a-kid 1.5-hour meeting. (Kudos to those parents. Gold-star child distraction.)
In hindsight, this response makes complete sense. Bike boulevards are the backbone of our low-stress bike network in the inner-eastside of Portland. As bike boulevards become less and less comfortable, people feel that the relatively nice biking experience that they previously had is a thing of the past. People do not like things they cherish being taken away — and will fight to keep them.
2. The people “in the trenches” at PBOT get it.
It would be satisfying to imagine that Portland’s bike stagnation is solely due to apathy and malfeasance among the bureaucrats working on bike infrastructure here. If that were the case, biking in Portland could rise to new heights simply by cleaning house and bringing in staff who actually care about biking.
However, that’s just not the case at PBOT. The staff we met with — ranging from on-the-ground Active Transportation staff to management — all understand biking implicitly and care deeply about it. They all live in “car-lite” households, and all bike regularly for transportation. They’re part of the solution, not part of the problem. Be nice to them.
3. Politics is THE obstacle to change.
The undercurrent to all of our discussion was, “We want to help you. Set us up to where we can.” The staffers we talked to meant “setting up” the micro-level politics — get the neighborhood associations, local businesses, schools, churches, neighbors, anyone you can on board. The staffers wanted, if not consensus, then a lot of support from a lot of constituencies, particularly local businesses.
It’s important to understand, though, that this need for near-consensus is because of the timidity of Portland’s current City Commissioners regarding bikes. As we’ve seen, “biking” is a bit of a dirty word in City Hall these days. Probably more important to Portland’s bike future than micro-level politics is macro-level politics — get our current City Commissioners to prioritize bike comfort, safety, and convenience, or campaign for new ones who will. For this reason, BikeLoudPDX is working with Bike Walk Vote to lay the groundwork for people who bike to have a real political influence in Portland.
4. Families that bike for transportation can be our very best advocates.
Imagine you’re a politician at a hearing to vote yes or no on our future Clinton project. You hear this from a disgruntled neighbor…
“If you install diverters on Clinton, I’ll have 10 more cars an hour passing in front of my house! My street is nice and quiet right now, and I want to keep it that way!”
You might be seriously considering a “No” vote. But say you hear this next…
“I have a 2 year old and a 6 year old. We are honked at and passed repeatedly, sometimes aggressively, on the way to and from school on Clinton and we are scared. Clinton is supposed to be a safe route to school, and it currently has more than 300 cars an hour during our school pickup trip. That’s just too much. We understand why people cut through on Clinton. It’s tempting for us to cut through ourselves when we’re driving and Division is backed up. But, you must approve this project, remove that temptation, and let our kids get to school safely and comfortably.”
I bet that would make you forget about that disgruntled neighbor (and the idea of voting “No”) really quickly.
So what’s next?
Taking years to fix this urgent problem on Clinton is not good enough. We want the City to take quick action. One thing we’re working on is a very temporary installation of a proposed solution through Better Block PDX (the same group that had success on the 3rd Avenue demonstration). Better Block already did a project on Clinton this past spring which could fit in nicely with this one.
We want to get this issue on Clinton fixed soon and move onto all the other things that need to change, much faster than they have been, for Portland to reach its goal of having 25% of all trips made by bike by 2030.
To stay posted on this project, and all things BikeLoudPDX, sign up for our mailing list, follow us on Twitter @BikeLoudPDX, join our Facebook group, or visit our web site. Our next meeting on Clinton is Sunday, December 21, at 2:00pm at Hopworks (on Powell at 29th). Find us in the kid-friendly area :-).
Nice work, Alex & team!
Kind of disappointed in PBOT, though. I’ve heard this “We want to help you. Set us up to where we can.” before. I understand it, to a point. But what happened to treating the Bicycle Master Plan as having already done this? What about arguing from principle? Why is there always this hesitation, this timidity around anything to do with bikes coming from PBOT?
PBOT is a bureau of a commissioner. When Blumenaur was commissioner and the public called to complain, the complaint stopped at the commissioner’s office. Staff was well insulated to pursue a wide variety of projects. Since then it’s been hit or miss with commissioners.
Money, and budgeting, is the other half of the coin. Commissioners submit bugets based on what constituents and the Mayor wants. Any questions?
nope…i think you answered the questions very well.
“Commissioners submit bugets based on what constituents and the Mayor wants. Any questions?”
Are you the Chief of Staff?
wsbob talks like this too, like there’s this direct line from constituents straight to the man in charge. I say hooey. I’m curious, how does that work, in practice? How do these wants come to be? How are they communicated? What happens when they change?
This to me sounds more like a convenient way to paper over a bureau’s inability to get its act together (on bikes). Always blame someone higher up, or lower down.
Staff cannot spend money any way they please, they can only spend what has been budgeted and approved. While some funding is more loosly managed than others, none of it can be spent without justification. Great projects abound, but first and second line staff do not set the agenda, they can only lobby. It helps greatly if those on the inside and those on the outside are lobbying those at the top for the same things.
So before an arterial is repaved or (jumping to the state level for a minute, those enormous digital signs are installed on I-5), does staff at PBOT and ODOT wait for individuals to attend meetings and rally behind those causes? Somehow I don’t think so.
Why is it always the human powered modes of transportation that have to hold bake sales to get anything done?
You write: “Staff cannot spend money any way they please, they can only spend what has been budgeted and approved.” This is just obfuscation. I realize that. But who’s in charge and why are the bike projects always the ones that—we are told—need us to motivate the higher ups to even be considered?
Seems pretty simple to me, 9watts. Motor vehicles hold the vast majority of transportation-related political power, and are also just the default thing that comes to mind regarding transportation for politicians (and thus, for their political appointees). It’s our job as citizens who see something better to change that state of affairs.
I hear you Alex. But at the same time we have Roger Geller admitting* that PBOT hasn’t even begun to implement the ‘make driving difficult’ part of the Bike Master Plan. At the same time we hear lots of acknowledgement that our streets are not safe for bipeds; we hear words but no action on Vision Zero. At the same time we have the end of cheap fossil fuels staring us in the face. None of these things have to do with mode share demographics, but with prudence, vision, leadership, the precautionary principle, & fairness to ourselves as a species that might like to live another generation or two.
I don’t see why these discussions with PBOT always seem to skip over all this and are reduced to naked power struggles for paving dollars. As the richest country in the world I think we can and must hold ourselves to higher standards.
I love that you’ve championed our cause so successfully and am in full support of your efforts. I just refuse to take all this evasive mumbo-jumbo from PBOT as an acceptable response.
*”Geller said the City hasn’t made good on promises in its Bike Plan for 2030 that passed four years ago. ‘Our policy says that we need to make bicycling more attractive than driving for trips three miles or less. We haven’t really done that yet,’ he acknowledged. ‘It’s really easy to drive a car in this city.'”
A lot of us ride motorcycles too in our commutes. Yet we are forced to ride Along with cars. “Making driving more difficult” isn’t helpful either. Bikes motorcycles and cars all deserve a reasonably comfortable commute.
Be mad at transplants who refuse to acknowledge the rest of the city, so they cram into neighborhoods not meant to be high density.
To be fair, cars still hold a massive advantage in mode share. It shouldn’t be surprising that they have more sway, and that politicians want to cater to them.
“cars still hold a massive advantage in mode share. It shouldn’t be surprising that they have more sway”
That seems to be the underlying excuse for inaction on the fronts we here profess to be interested in, but I am not persuaded that this is a valid reason to demand a high (unreasonable?) level of public support for even the smallest bike investment (necessitated, of course, by the overwhelming presence of that very automobile), when no such demonstration of public support is expected for the ongoing auto-investments which are leading us to ruin.
If we follow this logic, how and when do we jump ship, recognize that the days of the automobile are over? Where’s the vision, the anticipation of a future that does not resemble any tidy extrapolation of the past? This is a recipe for disaster.
If PBOT were merely a large assembly of functionaries, of drones in-the-old-sense, perhaps this would be excusable, but I always thought within PBOT we had people working on visionary stuff, that took their marching orders from documents such as the Bike Master Plan, that not only arose from within PBOT, but would back up any internal movement in this direction.
That’s certainly true. I never said that liveable streets advocates’ job was easy! But it’s the hard stuff that’s really rewarding, right? 🙂
9, I view “passive” support or non-complaint, as support. And that’s what we as a society have shown for decades, electing the officials we have (even here in Portland and Oregon). It’s great that there has been a strong vocal minority who have fought and lobbied for the minority (such as cyclists), but at the end of the day it is still a minority.
I think that’s where ODOT (and to a certain extent PBOT) are coming from.
I just don’t think you’re going to get a majority of people to suddenly “wake up” to your view of the future. And I don’t know that we should be making concrete, huge policy decisions based on a future that might happen. It’s one thing for people to say “I agree that global warming could be a problem in the future”. It’s a completely different thing to get them to say “I agree and I will give up my car tomorrow”.
“I just don’t think you’re going to get a majority of people to suddenly ‘wake up’ to your view of the future.”
I agree with you, although I think it is worth mentioning that it is not just my view. But I always thought that was why we have smart people working on all these fronts, studying everything from threats to best practices, whose knowledge of the particulars can inform policy that will give us something more interesting than – this.
The apologists for PBOT and ODOT here give the impression that this mediocre—tyranny of the inferred majority—politics is what we should expect in our democracy. Really? Is this as good as it gets?
Just for contrast, here’s a document that details some of the thinking that went into the 28 enormous digital signs that sprung up on I-5 and our other urban freeways stubs not so long ago: http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/travel_time_study/portland/portland_ttm.htm
Here’s a bit about the target audience:
“Selecting a target audience helped ODOT to determine the travel time destinations and messaging format to be used. Four potential target audiences for DMS messages were examined:
Local commuter – people that live in the area and drive the same route on a daily basis to and from work.
Local non-commuter – […]
Non-local commuter – […]
Non-local non-commuter – […]
Due to the fact that local commuters represent the majority of vehicles during weekday hours and that their travel is generally more time critical than that of other drivers, ODOT decided that they would be the primary target audience for the travel time system.”
So, you tell me, is this effort a response to the public’s demand, or frosting on the cake, a little $10M present from our friends at ODOT (mostly via our federal taxes)?
more on the signs:
Oh, and it only took one month after Steve Fritz was killed for Matt Garrett at ODOT to find $7M to install cable barriers on the median of I-5 in Salem.
My experience working with these departments in silly valley is that they’ve built a routine playbook through the years when it comes to bike infrastructure. The pedestrian stuff, and of course the automobile stuff is driven by federal regulation so there’s no leeway. Accommodating bicyclists comes at some cost, both in budget and often compromise, so there are checklists they play by but when either big change or big money comes in there’s a good deal of CYA. You might get a bike-friendly mayor, councilor, or maybe in this case commissioner and that gets so much mileage until projects get big and political enough that media and the public gets involved and then we become a “them” and the usual drivel escalates (look up “bike lane Hedding san jose” and just look at the page titles if you want an example!). My disclaimer is that my only experience is through observation and bike advocacy at what I call the ‘granular level’ – i.e. picking specific battles like trying to reclaim our public trail (San Tomas Aquino) that the 49’ers have usurped in order to sell beer in the adjacent parking lot to season ticket holders without the interference of those pesky bicyclists who pose a safety risk… to those drinkers who’ll be driving home later…
P.S. You know that we’re a “community” when you can pick on poor wsbob before he even has a chance to comment… 😉
“…wsbob talks like this too, like there’s this direct line from constituents straight to the man in charge. …” watts
Hey, leave me out of your reckless assumptions, because that’s not what I say.
What I do say, is that a public agency like ODOT does set up its work agenda according to what the public as a group, rather than individual citizens, asks of it.
To some extent, I think there’s a scale of individual, or smaller group requests to which public transportation agencies can respond to, but the extent agencies can do so, is likely limited by budget and priorities. An articulate, outspoken group of people working together, may be much more likely to overcome that obstacle, get focus and change on a given issue, than can people not working together.
“Hey, leave me out of your reckless assumptions, because that’s not what I say.”
I suspect we will disagree about this until we go to our graves, wsbob. The public did not ask for huge digital signboards along I-5; the public did not ask for the CRC; the public did not ask for the Hwy 20 fiasco down by Eddyville; the public did not ask for Sandy to be repaved without bike accommodations; the public did not ask ODOT to cheap out on repaving the shoulders of Hwy 101… and I’ll leave Barbur out of this since we’ve covered it exhaustively in other places.
ODOT has its own agenda, its own priorities; and as far as I’ve been able to ascertain doesn’t care a whit for public input, large or small. But I’d love to hear of counterexamples; situations where ODOT exhibits responsiveness to the public.
What about the fact that we (citizens) voted back in supporters of the CRC, and other auto-oriented projects. Sure there might not be a bunch of critical mass drivers driving for change on a weekly basis, but I think there are plenty of ways that we as a society continue to show support for cars (how about the majority of modal share).
I would agree that PBOT is auto-centric in their system as a whole, but I don’t think we’re as a society completely blameless in pushing them that way. At the end of the day they still are a government body that we have enabled to be this way though elected officials and transportation habits.
“What about the fact that we (citizens) voted back in supporters of the CRC, and other auto-oriented projects.”
Those candidates were bundles of many things. I think it would be very difficult—in the absence of serious candidates who explicitly opposed the CRC and were voted out or down—to argue this.
“…there are plenty of ways that we as a society continue to show support for cars (how about the majority of modal share).”
Perhaps. But again it would be just as easy to argue that this mode share represents inertia, habit, historic bias toward auto-favorable infrastructure, subsidies, law enforcement that winks at speeding but slaps tickets on Ladd’s stop sign rollers, etc. We would I think agree that even more rapid attrition from the habit of automobility, under the present circumstances, is hard to imagine. Causality would be very hard to prove, especially in light of some observed, if also fairly slow trends toward alternative ways of getting around, not just in Portland but the world over toward bicycling even with all these cards stacked against us.
“I would agree that PBOT is auto-centric in their system as a whole, but I don’t think we’re as a society completely blameless in pushing them that way. At the end of the day they still are a government body that we have enabled to be this way though elected officials and transportation habits.”
I don’t know. It is convenient for them to argue this way, but I keep coming back to the fact that all of this only makes any sense, can only be rationalized in this manner, if—with respect to transportation—tomorrow will be much like yesterday. To the extent that this is won’t turn out that way, we need vision and leadership and strategies that seek to cope with the massive upset we’re steering toward, not just in the realm of transportation but in every realm. Right now, PBOT and City Council to me seem woefully incapable of or unwilling to steer this city toward a smooth landing on the other side of what climate change has in store for us.
“…but I think there are plenty of ways that we as a society continue to show support for cars (how about the majority of modal share). …” davemess
Both good and bad points about it, people of today’s society in the U.S., and the society itself, are extensively dependent on motor vehicle use. It’s not simply that people are too lazy or worn out to ride a bike or walk, that has them adamant about roads being developed and maintain to enable their use of motor vehicles.
Currently, the stability of the U.S. economy depends on the viability of roads, primarily for travel and transport by motor vehicle, rather than bicycles. Naturally then, state DOT’s and city officials are obliged to prioritize spending that supports motor vehicle use.
At the same time, development to support continued motor vehicle use, should be restrained when such development unreasonably undermines and diminishes quality of life in areas where people live, work and recreate. Across Washington and Multnomah counties, for example, this quality of life degradation arising from infrastructure development leading to excessive motor vehicle use, has been a prevalent occurrence for many decades.
Quiet, reasonably safe to use by bike and motor vehicle, country roads get widened to become, giant, noisy, stress inducing thoroughfares. Quiet, easy to walk and bike, neighborhood residential streets get turned into cut throughs, seeing motor vehicles race over them, with counts sometimes doubling and tripling. They become places that are no longer healthy or safe to travel by means other than a motor vehicle. They become roads that are lousy to live next to.
Supporting motor vehicle use, as is necessary to sustain the economy, is important, but very important as well, is working effectively to draw the line at development supporting motor vehicle use, that diminishes the fabric of community life most people want to continue to be able to enjoy.
Lots of good points. Thank you, wsbob.
Regarding your conclusion:
“draw the line at development supporting motor vehicle use, that diminishes the fabric of community life ”
I think we now know more than enough to conclude that motor vehicle use, per se, is diminishing the fabric of not just community life but life as we know it. I am not disagreeing with you that we have all become habituated to, our entire society is premised on, continued ubiquitous use of the automobile. But this is a secondary matter; not something that really has much bearing on the primary matter of the terminal nature of our still dominant mode of transport. Our transport agencies’ unwillingness to face this music is what gets my dander up.
Blah-blah-blah. That’s how you choose to regard ODOT, and various individuals in public service that don’t agree with your priorities, so go ahead. You won’t be winning any favorable response from any of them with that adversarial approach.
“…ODOT has its own agenda, its own priorities; and as far as I’ve been able to ascertain doesn’t care a whit for public input, large or small. …” watts
Public officials and transportation agencies have many tasks to address, with limited budgets. Roughly eighty percent of people using the road for travel, do so with motor vehicles, so obviously, transportation departments priority for road development and maintenance, has to be for use of the road with motor vehicles.
More to the topic at hand, what BikeLoudPDX can constructively accomplish, working with Portland and its transportation department, without some form of broad based public support, is hard to say. Broad based public support is the real key. That’s what city officials were telling the people that showed up at the meeting Alex Reed writes of in his story above.
So, support not just from people that bike and walk, but also from people that travel by motor vehicle. The two sample letters Reed includes in his story, give somewhat of an example of whom may represent this kind of support.
I noticed you didn’t take me up on my request for counterexamples.
I just noticed, wsbob, that the Oregonian editorial staff informed its readers that, despite the fact that many of them had urged the board to put climate change at the top of their 2015 agenda, they intend to do no such thing.
Do they use the same playbook ODOT does?
And don’t forget that zero members of our city council actually bicycle.
The tone, presentation and pending success of your advocacy deserve compliments. Best of luck getting a solution that addresses bike safety (I commute on Clinton between 26th and Ladd’s) and also enhances the character of the neighborhood.
“The reason is simple: More people are driving on Clinton than ever before.”
Don’t the charts on this page:
Show that this isn’t necessarily true? Is there new data?
Not to throw BP under the bus – but that was a change made in editing. I didn’t want to get into the wonky aspects of it in this article so I didn’t talk about ADTs and all that. Basically, (as PBOT presented on Thursday) the auto volume counts so far say that Clinton was around 3000 cars per day before the recession, then dipped down during the recession, and is now back up to a bit over 3000. PBOT’s guess is that the recent increase (back to more or less its previous level so far) is why people who bike feel that things are much worse than they used to be.
I don’t think that “It was 3000 cars per day back in 2006, too!” is a sufficient argument to say that action on Clinton isn’t urgent. I think maybe people were inured to how uncomfortable it was back in the day in 2006, or didn’t have a rallying point for change. Or maybe the drivers just acted nicer back then. Who knows? What we know is, it’s bad now, and we want change.
Thanks Paul and Alex,
It was my mistake. I edited Alex’s original line and added the ” More people are driving on Clinton than ever before” part. That was careless of me! Sorry for the confusion.
“The staffers we talked to meant “setting up” the micro-level politics — get the neighborhood associations, local businesses, schools, churches, neighbors, anyone you can on board.”
Alex, I’m curious that you seem to imply that this inherently is a bad thing. I’m a fan of getting more people to the table and increasing participation. I get that you would like the process streamlined, but I think it is somewhat understandable that the city wants to make sure that there is more than one group that supports different initiatives/projects.
In the Clinton situation specifically though it might be more justifiable to get something done in a timely manner (though I do find it interesting that you point to the new buildings and increases density as a cause of this problem, not that I disagree with that assessment).
Keep up the good work, but please continue to try to foster relations with other groups, such as NAs and business groups.
Certainly not saying it’s a bad thing, and we will certainly do (some of) it. I am saying that the level of agreement that Portland politics currently demands in order to make a pro-bike change is very high (higher than for most other types of changes, e.g. transit, IMO), and that very high bar is a huge obstacle to making the large changes that should be made in order to realize the huge potential that biking has to make Portland a healthier, wealthier. To the extent that city-level political organizing can lower that bar, I think that would be a good thing.
*a healthier, wealthier, better city
The bar IS extra high right now for anything bike related. Both North Tabor and Montavilla endorsed a roadway reconfiguration with bike lanes on Halsey NE 67th to 74th. No parking removal, currently just repaved, they did a lane reduction with permantant parking west….THAT required LITTLE public outreach.
But for the BIKE request, by NA’s representing 22,000 residents we were told that there needs to be an “extensive outreach that there was no funding for.”
add permenant parking? little outreach, needed……add safety for many thousands?…can not do so at this time. Fair? No..Hypocracy? ABSOLUTELY
Businesses openly showing support for a safer, more pleasant Clinton Street is crucial. Getting business owners to show up at public meetings can go a long way.
BikeLoudPDX will also be coordinating with schools to make biking and walking to school safer. Kids have the right to feel safe getting to and from school.
Is PBOT supposed to be doing campaign work then?
All of portland’s citizens ‘pay for the streets’.
Exactly – even those who drive cars/trucks/suvs/etc.
If Portland is like the rest of the continent in terms of how roads are funded, then those with cars/trucks/suvs/etc. actually pay quite a bit less than the damage their vehicles exact on the infrastructure, while those who do not own and use them overpay. Have you read Todd Litman’s Whose Roads? I think you will find it interesting. http://www.vtpi.org/whoserd.pdf
So….. a mob blocking traffic, heckling motorists and frightening house fraus who don’t have a clue what is going on, would win hearts and minds?
restore clinton st back to what it was.. 😉
In the early ’90s it had 1900-3200 cars per day with 15% going faster than 33-42 mph. Be specific with those wishes.
hearing roger geller describe the history of clinton was enlightening. i did not understand what a struggle this has been from the beginning. pbot cannot help us if we sit on our @$$es and complain.
remember to take the lane, use the bike box, take the lane, take the lane, take the lane. Make that road a PITA to drive on. Only then will it calm down. encourage NICELY for fellow commuters to use the lane.
Occasionally, I will drive on Clinton to get to a Clinton address, such as Broder. If I am not in a hurry and want a calm experience, I will continue on Clinton at a bicycle’s pace. I am well aware my car can be a hazard and yield to bicycles.
When I am on a bicycle, Clinton is my favorite Eastbound route, because of easy grades, so I am familiar with the 2-wheel view, too. I would be happy with more diverters and traffic-calming devices on that street.
That’s simply rational!
SW PDX needs help, too.
Agreed; we talked Barbur at our last meeting (thanks Rich!) We agreed to endorse the Barbur solution pretty much everyone is talking about (convert one auto lane each way into space for safer, more comfortable biking and walking).
What we need in order to go from a Barbur (or another SW issue) endorsement to a Barbur campaign is at least a few concerned citizens who will push the issue and organize rides/events/letter-writing/whatever. We are all-volunteer currently, so we do what people are energized to work on!
What about ONI? They are literally (in the real sense) in contact with hundreds+ of people who are active in neighborhood level micropolitics and have experience building the bridges necessary to effect change. Business, residents, govt. and community leaders.
I was shocked to learn that PBOT doesn’t have neighborhood level staff that can liaise with neighborhoods.
Not a full solution, just another point for all to consider.
This is really valuable reporting. We have a good network of bike advocates in Portland but we can always use savvier advocates. Thanks Alex for your work and sharing what you learned.
Great work and great lessons! I look forward to seeing more and supporting more from you, Alex, and BikeLoudPDX 😀
Join us when and where you can, and don’t let your neighborhood association forget that you’re a neighbor, a cyclist, and a parent if you happen to be one.
“timidity of Portland’s current City Commissioners regarding bikes”
I applaud Alex’s efforts. I find this 5-person slate of commissioners to be timid on just about everything I have been interested in relating to, not just serious expanding of cycling infrastructure while discouraging auto traffic, but listening to neighborhood’s lists of very concrete concerns about the permanent damage occurring because of unfettered demolition and infill that is ripping apart the character of older neighborhoods leading to rapid gentrification of several dozen parts of the city.
However, the council not been timid, i.e., has been very aggressive in supporting virtually everything the developers, builders, bankers, and relators want in terms of what they call increasing density with numerous McMansion “shadow” houses at virtually everybody else’s expense, including irreparable harm to preserving large trees, access to sunlight and gardens, understanding a sense of human scale.
I doubt whether Portland as a city is particularly an aberration today in this regard, but they are particularly insensitive to preserving human culture to which biking culture and preserving character of neighborhoods are essential. They are a typical slave to the monied, capitalist interests. I wonder if anyone can run in the next election who has a vision with fire in the belly to upset the status quo?
I’m going to have to disagree with you there. Nostalgic pleas that a neighborhood’s character never change are not in any way connected to progress.
If you want to make a case for social justice and equity, by all means do so. If you want to make a case for livability and safety, do that too. But if you are just complaining that things aren’t what they used to be, well, that’s the same blunt object the bike infrastructure opponents use against us, and it makes no more sense in this context.
If we want to live in a post-auto world*, we will need far greater density in our inner neighborhoods than we currently have for these neighborhoods to be viable without the need for constant car use. That means the unfortunate loss of some nice old housing stock, but it’s more likely that later infill from the 40’s through the 80’s is more likely to be replaced, since those buildings are valued less by the market, and demoing is more economically possible.
The anti-infill movement is filled with NIMBYs who wish to preserve their little kingdoms. They are co-opting the concerns of preservationists and anti-gentrification activists and using those concerns as window dressing on their political agenda, which happens to be heavily tied to a car-centric worldview.
I don’t know you personally, so I have no idea if you’re to co-opted or the co-optee, but either way, let’s be clear about what’s happening here.
I respectfully disagree with your response. So be it.
This is not a NIMBY issue. It is a quality of life issue where human culture is desperately seeking to be preserved in lieu of the pressures of a money culture. Cycling is part of human culture; king car tends to destroy it. But how neighborhoods develop and are preserved is also important. Current city policy on infill is, for the most part, destroying, not enhancing, affordable housing, and it deleteriously impacts quality of local (proximal) life. Generally, rehabbing houses is more affordable and sustainable than new construction of McMansions. Infill can be done sensibly if it has community input guiding the values of how it will be done, and not have it rammed. Intrinsic values are derived from relationships with community and nature. The Context is critical.
Portland’s reputation as a livable, Green, and sustainable city will be destroyed if money culture continues to prevail over human culture.
It is NOT a choice between McMansion’s destroying the affordability and livability of neighborhoods OR leaving the neighborhoods static. We DO need more density in established neighborhoods. What we need is to get over our obsession with detached single family homes in single family neighborhoods. If our remodel/demolition codes were modernized to prioritize PEOPLE over Property then we could encourage more duplexing, adding on of ADU’s additions, and other expansions in a neighborhood character-compatible level while increasing destiny.
This could be done with cooperatively land trusts, easing of ADU restrictions, a tax on demolition land fill. We need to think creatively and outside of the capitalist-easy profit driven system we have now. Think of all those falling down garages that could be one bedroom units. Think of the cottage houses that could be added in neighborhoods that have large lots. Think of aging in place for seniors….what if their grandchild wants to convert their unneeded upstairs into a One bedroom unit? We need to open up our restrictions in single family neighborhoods so people have a lot more choices to develop on their own instead of selling to profit driven developers who just want to bull doze and make money.
“neighborhood’s lists of very concrete concerns about the permanent damage occurring because of unfettered demolition and infill that is ripping apart the character of older neighborhoods”
“character” is often just code for housing values in wealthy neighborhoods. i strongly support increases in density in portland’s close-in and central neighborhoods. moreover i think one of the best way to combat gentrification is to fight for inclusive upzoning and inclusive subsidized multi-unit housing. and by inclusive i mean in *your* neighborhood and not out there, on the periphery.
I am all for inclusive zoning and subsidized housing. I do not live in a wealthy neighborhood, and I can assure you that people around me like the character of their modest houses with large trees and gardens within 100 feet of the house. There is already diversity in our neighborhood, but it is virtually all modest income until the last 3 years when the McMansion houses started being built with no community input whatsoever. It is all driven by profit for developers/builders/realtors and a compliant City Council that likes having the dramatically expanded property tax base where two $450,000 new houses replace one affordable $275,000 one. no protection whatsoever for long time neighborhood residents. No input, just rammed.
“I have a 2 year old and a 6 year old. We are honked at and passed repeatedly, sometimes aggressively, on the way to and from school on Clinton…”
In a lot of places, this would get you a visit from child services and trigger a “safety campaign” to ban bicycles from such a dangerous roadway.
Thank you for donating your time and energy, Alex. It is very appreciated.
It’s definitely a group effort; I’m just our talking head 🙂
Ultimately I want BikeLoudPDX to grow into our needed second bike voice and I think too much dependence on me would inhibit its growth so I’m actively trying to avoid that.
No idea if this is related, but I saw a 2 hose vehicle counter at 49th and Clinton this morning. Are there others? Are we going to get some data? I’d love to see the directional counts vs time of day along various parts of Clinton.
Just a guess – they could be related to the “Neighborhood Greenway Deep Dive” that PBOT Active Transportation is currently doing. They’re thinking to release the report in the spring.
division went on a road diet – and lost 2 lanes – so now extra traffic spills over on Clinton…
what did you expect?
I just paid a LOT of money to DRIVE my car on public streets…
how much did YOU PAY to ride your bicycle? answer: NOTHING
Car user fees (gas tax, road tolls, license fees) don’t begin to cover the cost of public roads. Everyone pays for roads no matter how they get around. If you need some sources on that, take a look at this forum thread.
Of course, many if not most of BikePortland’s fans also drive cars sometimes, and therefore also pay those user fees.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Mr. (or Mrs.) oregon111
“division went on a road diet – and lost 2 lanes – so now extra traffic spills over on Clinton…
what did you expect?”
perhaps you are aware that the former is past 60th, and the latter is, mostly, West of Cesar Chavez? Besides, those lanes that were (not lost but were) previously underutilized and now they serve a different and more useful purpose: left turning traffic and two NEW bike lanes. Ha.
“I just paid a LOT of money to DRIVE my car on public streets…”
Can you say more about that? What specifically are you referring to when you say ‘just’?
“how much did YOU PAY to ride your bicycle? answer: NOTHING”
Hahahahahahahahaha. Good one. You realize that is utter nonsense, yes?