When Jules Bailey served in the state legislature, he was usually known as one of biking’s best friends in Salem. Now he’s running for mayor.
Bailey showed up on issues from the massive (letting congestion or pollution taxes be spent on off-road paths or mass transit) to the miniscule (when his colleague Mitch Greenlick proposed a ban on hauling children under age six by bike or bike trailer, he defused the surge of anger by persuading Greenlick to make a face-saving swap to a safety study).
Bailey disappointed many transportation reformers in 2013, when the staunch environmentalist and professional economist unexpectedly voted for the Columbia River Crossing freeway-rail plan. But he now points out, accurately, that the conditions that won his vote — variable tolling beyond the life of the bridge bonds — were also a big reason anti-toll state senators in Washington rejected the project.
Bailey left the legislature in 2014 after winning a race for Multnomah County Commissioner; he now bike-commutes to the Central Eastside county office via Barbur Boulevard from his home near Multnomah Village in Southwest Portland. In December, after mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler landed a massive string of endorsements and Mayor Charlie Hales said he wouldn’t run for reelection, Bailey decided to do so.
Election Day is May 17, and we’ll be helping BikePortland readers choose by publishing rich, in-depth conversations with Bailey, Wheeler and Sarah Iannarone.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
You can read (or listen to) the first of those conversations below. Among the things we learned from it:
Infrastructure: Though Bailey supports the downtown protected bike lane project, his overall strategy for protected bike lanes to focus them on arterials in East and Southwest Portland, where safety issues are worse. The best way to improve the central-city biking network, he said, is with lower-cost measures like diverters on neighborhood greenways.
Funding: Bailey (like all leading candidates) supports the proposed four-year 10-cent local gas tax that’ll be next to him on the ballot. But he says it won’t put enough toward bike infrastructure to meet his goals. In the short term he will (like other candidates) hope to get new money from a statewide tax, but (unlike other candidates, so far) he’s also said the city should embrace variable-rate parking and start laying the groundwork for a price on driving on congested roads, and also on emitting greenhouse gases.
Affordable proximity: The first talking point in Bailey’s housing affordability agenda is to cheaply increase the supply of new, smaller homes by re-legalizing duplexes, triplexes and garden apartments in all R5 residential zones. He’s worried, though, that supply may not be enough to keep the city affordable.
Public parking garages: Bailey is “very skeptical” that the public sector should be investing in them, but isn’t willing to say he never would.
Traffic safety: He thinks the city’s Vision Zero plan needs harder numerical targets.
Equitable policing: Bailey sees traffic enforcement as a “separate issue” from racial profiling. Among his proposed solutions for the disproportionate number of traffic stops of people of color who are biking or walking is to hire more police officers, which he said would make the job less stressful.
Prefer audio? You can also listen to our entire conversation here. (We’ll also see about getting it into our podcast stream.)
Let’s just start with your big summary of what you’re doing.
I got into this race in November because it was down to essentially a one-person race at that point. I looked at the field and thought Portland really needs a mayor that understands what working families are going through, is going to be committed to the job to the long run and has the experience of working on the issues that Portlanders care about. And I didn’t see anybody else in the race that met those criteria and I decided to step up.
It was late one night, and I was singing a song that I sing to my son every night, called “Weather the Storm,” that I sing to him when I put him down. He’s about six months old. And it’s about sort of being brave, stepping up for your community, helping others. And I thought, how do I sing you this song every night and then not have stepped up when I thought Portland really needed it?
I mean, I think we’re at a real turning point. We have a million new people that are moving here over the next few decades. And who do we want to be as a city? Do we want to be a city that is living up to our ethos of a creative, sustainable city where everybody can afford to live? Or are we going to be a city that becomes a playground for the wealthy? And I think that’s really in question.
What have you seen happening in the last four years, 10 years, that has moved us in one direction or another?
I think we’ve seen a lot of great things happen in the last four years, 10 years. I think Portland has changed a lot. Even basic things like our commitment on Safe Routes to School has seen a 36 percent increase on kids that walk to school just since 2006. I mean, that’s a major success.
I grew up in Portland with the ability to walk to Glencoe School and Mount Tabor Middle School every day, but not every kid has the ability to do that. I think as a community we’ve done a good job of planning for infill, we’ve made some major improvements on streets, we’ve had road diets that have been a success. But there’s a lot more to do.
— Jules Bailey
What are the key things we can do to improve the ways people can get around without a car?
I get this question all the time: “Hey, when you’re mayor, will I be stuck in rush hour at 2 p.m.?” And my answer is “yes, probably.” We have a system that was built for cars that other modes have been shoehorned into. And we see a massive lack of investment in our road system. So what we need to do, both for climate reasons and for livability reasons and for health reasons, is give people more options to be able to get around without cars. Because it’s not like we’re going to build roads and build our way out of this problem.
We’ve got a lot of the really enthusiastic people and sort of the next-tier people that are into getting around by bicycle. But we have this massive middle of the Bell curve: people who are interested and would like to do it but aren’t quite sure it’s safe and aren’t quite sure how to get around. That’s that next step.
I think it’s great that we’ve seen an increase in painted bike lanes and green bike boxes, those sorts of things. I use them when I bike commute, which I do. But we need more protected bike lanes.
Part of my bike route on the way to work is I bike down Multnomah Boulevard. And that’s a safe way to get to the next part of the segment. So we need more of those. We need better division between auto traffic and pedestrian traffic and bicycle traffic. We need better sidewalks. And we need those investments in areas of Portland that have been underserved, especially in East Portland.
That raises a good question: Multnomah doesn’t do as much good as it could if it were connected to a better network.
And yet 122nd has a striped bike lane that doesn’t do as much good as it could because it’s terrifying. So how do you go about prioritizing the eternal question of inside or outside, ridership or coverage? Probably most of the payoff in ridership is going to be in the central city. Probably most of the payoff in coverage is going to be elsewhere.
I don’t think you can have an either-or strategy. Because obviously you need an increase in the proportion of people who are choosing to get around by bike or foot. But you also need options for people who otherwise don’t have another option and are stuck in a car. So I think we need a balance between the two.
On key corridors in Portland that are heavily used, I think we need to look at more protected bike lanes and more investment. I think there’s also low-cost solutions that we can do. Having more dedicated neighborhood greenways that have traffic diversion built into them so that bicyclists feel safe on neighborhood streets is a very low-cost way of increasing ridership in the core. And then we can save money for doing the kinds of harder infrastructure development that needs to happen in East County. So I don’t think it’s a zero sum.
Right, but eventually there’s a dollar that needs to go one place or the other. There’s some time that you need to make a choice. And you’re saying that your strategy for thinking about that is to increase the connectivity for bikes in the central city with a bigger emphasis on neighborhood greenways and neighborhood greenway quality…
That’s right, yeah.
…and an emphasis on concrete in the southwest and east.
I think what we need to do is have a system that works from A to B. And so right now we have a lot of fragments of systems that work. I even see it on my bike ride in. I come in on Multnomah, I take the freeway onramp that spits me up on Terwilliger, and then I have this terrible turn that I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands the entire time before I get onto Barbur, and then I’m safe again once I get sort of back on my back roads and down to the waterfront. So the challenge is, how do you make sure that on key corridors you have places connected and you have safe spots at key chokepoints. And I think that’s something that we can prioritize throughout the city; we don’t have to choose inner Portland or outer Portland.
And as we choose East Portland, making sure that whatever improvements we’re making there is connected into the broader system.
Right now we don’t have any system for weighing that. So, like, we did a huge talk about a parking permit system, but we have never made any effort to weigh the benefits of a bike lane against the benefits of an auto parking space. So on 28th, it’s a very important network connection and the city decided that the auto parking spaces were more important, and so we won’t have a network connection there of any quality.
There’s got to be some way to say, yes, sometimes auto parking spaces are more important, and this is how we know. Is there some system? Is there some way that we can put something to that question so it’s not arbitrary every time?
Yeah, that’s where good data, good analysis comes in. I’m actually an economist by training; I worked for a company called EcoNorthwest here in Portland. That’s the kind of analysis a company like EcoNorthwest could do, is measure what is the value of a parking space, what is the value of a bike lane. And measure the ripple effects: not just at one point in time, but what does that do to neighborhood businesses, or what does that do to people’s ability to have a lower transportation budget so they can afford the higher rents that are being charged? We need that kind of rigorous analysis as we do our decision making.
And it’s happening in a lot of places. I think a great example is on Foster. I’m very excited for the changes that are coming to Foster. And that, I think, is a perfect example of what I’m talking about: how we have better infrastructure, how we have more connectivity, and how we serve equity needs at the same time that we serve transportation needs. And we’re going to do that in a way that we’re making Foster safer and more friendly to people on different modes of transportation.
We’re going to help businesses there. A major, major barrier to small business expansion has been the fact that there’s five lanes of dangerous traffic and people don’t want to be there. So it’s great for small businesses, it’s great for people that want to get around.
But it is going to slow auto traffic, probably.
It’s not clear how much it will slow auto traffic. I worked in transportation economics, so I’m very familiar with transportation demand models, those sorts of things. I helped work on the economic analysis of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement process in Seattle. And there were six different options: different kinds of tunnels, and new viaduct. A couple of the options were just get rid of it altogether and have surface streets that were multimodal. And people screamed and screamed and screamed that if we just did that option it would cause massive congestion, huge delays, I-5 would see a huge amount of spillover.
Well, we ran the modeling and in fact, even during peak times, it really only changed the travel time by about seven minutes over the entire distance of the viaduct. That’s not that much time.
And they’re talking like three or four minutes on Foster.
Exactly. I think you can sacrifice three or four minutes for a streetscape that’s going to support local businesses, local jobs and help people get to work.
You talk about the viaduct project. People often bring up your CRC vote. Forget the plan that seems to be dead — if someone comes to you next year and says “we need to come up with a new vision, make a new plan,” what’s your ideal bridge look like?
Well, one we need to have light rail baked into the definition of the project. Two, we have to have strong bicycle and pedestrian facilities. But three, and perhaps most importantly, one of the reasons that I negotiated hard for sideboards on that project and ultimately got to a place where I can support it is that we need variable tolling that lasts longer than paying the life of the bonds on the project. Because once you have the ability to control congestion through tolling on that bridge, it doesn’t matter how many lanes there are.
It could be an eight-lane bridge, it could be a 10-lane bridge?
The number of lanes is irrelevant if you have sufficient tolling. Because you have a tool right there to be able to control congestion. What we’re talking about is induced demand. What we’re talking about is the amount of sprawl in Clark County. Congestion pricing solves for all of those things. The number of lanes does not.
Time is money, and people will continue to overuse subsidized free transportation in unless you bake the cost of that transportation into it. And congestion pricing and tolling is one very, very efficient way to do that. I think a lot of that got lost in the debate, because it’s a little bit wonky. But if you’ve got a bridge where you’re really charging people for that cost, then I think you’ve got a really responsible transportation strategy. We don’t have that on the West Coast right now, other than in a couple of places. So the ability to do that in Oregon would be huge.
I think there was an awareness of that on the Clark County side! I think you’re Clark County conservatives’ nightmare, saying “we’ll build a big bridge but we’ll charge you to use it.”
And you know, I put those into the project and voted for it with those sideboards. And ultimately it was a lot of those sideboards were the reasons that Clark County ended up rejecting the bridge. But I’m not going to waffle; I’m going to stick to my guns.
The long-term demand for driving into the central city seems like it’s going to depend a lot on the amount of parking in the central city. We’ve been having an argument about whether the PDC should build parking garages at public expense, whether the URAs should spend their remaining life putting up public parking garages in Old Town or on the Central Eastside. Do you have any thoughts on how that would fit into future economic development?
One of the things that I’m supportive of and I know PBOT has already started looking into is dynamic pricing on parking. I think there’s a real opportunity to have a 21st century solution on pricing parking differently in terms of time of day and demand. But overall, I know you’re specifically referring to a potential parking structure in the Lloyd District.
Well, I’m talking a little about that, but it seems like that might be a done deal. So I’m talking about the future, mostly.
Well, my general thought is I’m skeptical of using public dollars for parking. I’m open to the argument on a case-by-case basis of why it’s needed. But my litmus test is going to be, one, does it work for our climate goals, and two, if it’s such a slam dunk, why isn’t the private sector doing it? And I think those are questions that haven’t fully been answered yet.
But they could be answered?
Well, if there’s a reason that the private market isn’t investing in it, then maybe it’s not as good an idea as we thought it was. I’m very skeptical, I guess is what I’m trying to say.
Personally, I can’t imagine any scenario where it’s worth building more parking with money that could be used on improving the street or building affordable housing.
Seems hard for me to imagine too.
So what is the potential scenario where you don’t want to say no?
You like the hypotheticals, don’t you?
Well, I want to get a solid answer, and you’re not saying no to it. What is the specific case that precludes the general “no, it’s a bad idea”?
In this parking garage in the Lloyd District, what PDC has said is that the investment is necessary to be able to catalyze the development of the Convention Center hotel, which is a major public works project that a lot of people have put a lot of time into. I haven’t seen their analysis. I don’t see that it is necessary. But they’re saying that it is necessary and that the project will more than pay for itself over time and it will be a net benefit for taxpayers. If that’s true and there really is no other way to do it, then I’m open to the conversation. But I have a hard time understanding why that’s true. If it is necessary, why isn’t that company just building the parking themselves if it’s going to have a return to them?
Do you have any perceived way forward for getting more singletrack and other off-road recreation in the city?
Yeah, when I was in the legislature I actually helped create an out-of-right-of-way urban trails fund and helped get money into it. I think that we need more investment in off-right-of-way and recreational biking.
Where is that possible?
I think there’s a lot of opportunities in Forest Park and Powell Butte and some other natural areas. That’s where I grew up riding my mountain bike, was in Forest Park and riding out to Powell Butte and doing that there. Obviously we’re somewhat constrained within the Portland area, but having an interconnected system where people can get safely to those recreational areas is really important.
Let’s talk about affordable housing. You’ve talked about the various ways to advance that in other forums. The one that we write about the most is specifically about proximity. How do you guarantee that some number of people, if they want to live near their work or their shops or whatever, how can people reasonably afford to do so? What do you think are the best strategies for doing that?
I believe in the city’s strategy around 20-minute neighborhoods. I think there’s been a lot of emphasis in Portland around the fact that people are able to live close to where they live, close to where they shop. I think that’s an important part of our city planning, an important part of our comp plan. And then part of that is ensuring affordability in those areas.
Making sure that people don’t have to get in their cars, don’t have to drive, don’t have to pay for parking, is a big part of that. When I bike to work, a lot of people say, why do you bike to work? Is it because you care so much about climate change? I do. I also care about my health. I don’t have to spend as much money on a gym membership. But it’s also the fastest, cheapest way for me to get to work. And I think the more that we can make it easy for people to be able to do that and not have to incur those costs, I think the more we can help people live closer in.
What are the city tools that are available to create proximity?
A lot of that is about zoning. I think the comp plan’s on the right track, but we need to do more, like bring back duplexes and triplexes and garden-home apartments into R5 zoning. Right now you can’t build that in local single-family residential. Those have always been part of the character of the neighborhood. But if we were able to change our zoning to bring those back in, I think it would make a big difference.
How many neighborhoods could you legalize that in, do you think?
I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t have blanket duplexes, triplexes, garden-home apartments in R5 zoning.
The transportation bureau — is that something you want to run?
So the way the city works, it’s a pretty fast path to irrelevance to say “here’s the bureaus that I’m going to take and here’s what I’m going to assign my fellow commissioners” before you’ve even sat down and talked to them. In a weak-mayor system, it’s really the only leverage that you have — to be able to assign the bureaus and have the conversation beforehand “if I assign you this bureau, here’s what I’m going to want from it.” And so I’m not going to declare any bureaus. Other than the mayor should be the police commissioner, and historically is.
So either way, as mayor you’ll be in a substantial role in the funding conversation.
Say the gas tax fails. What’s the next step?
Well, first of all, I would hope the gas tax doesn’t fail. And I would hope your readers see an opportunity here to help support a transportation system that works for everybody. I’m in support of it.
If it fails, then you need a mayor who has the connections in Salem and a demonstrated track record of being able to get transportation investments done who can work with the legislature in 2017 to get a transportation package that’s going to be multimodal, that’s going to have investments for the City of Portland. And I’m the only person in the race that has that track record and has the relationships and the ability to get that done.
Part of that too is about having a mayor that has the relationship with ODOT on some of our most dangerous roads. Orphan highways are a huge problem, whether you’re talking about 82nd or Lombard or 122nd* or other places, we need a mayor who’s going to talk about bringing those back into city jurisdiction with funding so we can do the maintenance on them.
Do you think the orphan highways problem has been jeopardized or slowed down by a lack of relationships? It seems like it’s mostly just a money issue.
There’s certainly a money issue, but the ability to actually engage and negotiate and get things done, you need someone who can negotiate the system.
Are there any other possibilities for local funding, or do you think that transportation funding should continue to come mostly from the state level?
Well, I think if the gas tax fails, that’s a pretty clear indication of what people in Portland are willing to support in terms of local funding options. So if that fails, I think we might be stuck. But let’s talk about a world in which it passes.
“I am the only person in this race that has said pretty consistently that I want carbon taxation and I want congestion pricing. Those aren’t always popular, but I think we need to put the full cost of the transportation system on the transportation system.”
— Jules Bailey
Okay, great. It only lasts four years anyway.
If it passes, we have a step forward, but we have a lot more work to do. And we have an indication on the books that voters are willing to step up and look at local options. Then I think we need to talk about what are the other things that we need to do? I am the only person in this race that has said pretty consistently that I want carbon taxation and I want congestion pricing. Those aren’t always popular, but I think we need to put the full cost of the transportation system on the transportation system, and then tax pollution and tax congestion in a way that allows us more flexibility to invest that in alternative transportation.
How does that work logistically, to have congestion pricing in Portland?
There’s a lot of ways to do it, and there’s a lot of cities that have done it. It’s everything from HOT lanes like Los Angeles uses to potentially cordon pricing to potentially looking at bridge tolling to other things. Or something as extensive as variable tolling on key arteries during peak times. It’s not going to happen overnight; you need a mayor who’s committed to the long run in changing our transportation system. I’ve made a pledge that if I’m elected mayor I’m not going to run for anything for at least eight years. You need somebody who’s willing to change the culture, and it’s going to be a long-term conversation. But ultimately you need an efficient transportation system that includes all the costs.
That makes sense. What’s your projected life of the gas tax in Oregon, if you had to guess?
I served on both the transportation and the revenue committees in the state legislature, and I’ve probably dealt with this as much as anybody in the entire state. And the gas tax is a declining instrument. We could theoretically use it for a lot longer, but it’s not keeping up with the cost. For good reasons: we have CAFE standards that are moving even higher, which makes the gas tax less relevant. So I was supportive in the legislature of looking at pay-per-mile kinds of charges that would help better incorporate wear and tear for cars and keep up with funding for the transportation system.
But ultimately I think we need a constitutional change, and I think we need a mayor who’s not afraid to say it. I’m on record as saying this for many years: the highway trust fund really hamstrings our ability to do smart transportation investment. The highway trust fund requires every dollar of every [auto-related] tax or fee on the transportation system to go right back into road-building. And the fact is it can’t fund public transit. And that’s one of the reasons public transit is based on user fees and payroll taxes and we have poor, in some places, rubber-tire bus service.
Yeah. Let’s not even talk about the conversation that would need to be shifted at the state level to get that sort of referendum passed. Even in Portland, I feel like we’re at the place in the public conversation where it’s safe to say “Yes, we need to penalize driving for the sake of everybody.”
I’m not saying we need to penalize driving — what I’m saying is we’re not accounting for all the costs. And when we take those costs of the system, we ought to invest them in things that would reduce those costs. And the ballot measure that I introduced at the state level said very simply: “A tax or fee on pollution or congestion in the transportation system can be used to reduce pollution or congestion in the transportation system.”
That seems like a winning argument to me, I guess.
Seems pretty logical, right? If that was the one change that we made, our problems would be fixed in that sense. So I don’t think it’s a stretch, I just think you need leadership.
I think there are other people who would be eager to frame it in a different way.
You need a mayor that’s not afraid to talk about it. You need a mayor who’s going to get people in the room and say “here’s what we need to get done.” I mean, we can continue to make little changes around the edges or pass solutions that only get us part of the way there. In the meantime, we have to keep working on those things. But at the end of the day, we need a long-term systemic change.
You said the mayor should run the police bureau. What’s your take on the balance between sufficient and over-the-top enforcement of traffic violations? It seems like there’s a lot of folks worried that if you police too much, that’s going to fall on people of color.
Well, that’s an interesting argument. I think there’s some bias that’s in that argument to begin with.
Well, I think the assumption is that all policing is currently overdelivered on people of color.
Yeah, I think those are two separate issues. I think we need to address the issues of racial and ethnic disparities within policing broad brush. But I don’t think that’s a reason to not do enforcement of the laws that we already have on the books, particularly around keeping people safe. I think that there’s a real opportunity to have a mayor that’s able to work as a partner between the Police Bureau and ODOT and PBOT and other entities to be able to do safety and enforcement on the streets. For example, what happened on Clinton greenway recently. I think that helps create a cultural change and a cultural norm on the streets.
“Within Vision Zero, while there’s broad timelines, there’s not a lot of check-in points that are baked into the process. We need some real strong teeth.”
— Jules Bailey
I mean, we have some of the highest rates of transportation fatalities in some parts of Portland. That’s not OK. And I’m a big supporter of Vision Zero. I think that’s been a great process. I think as mayor I’m going to be committed to that process. But I think we need to be even stronger. And I think within Vision Zero, while there’s broad timelines, there’s not a lot of check-in points that are baked into the process. “Here’s the number of fatalities that we’re going to have reduced by this year, here’s the number of sidewalks or bike lanes that we’re going to have upgraded by this year.” We need some real strong teeth within Vision Zero. Part of that is within infrastructure; part of that is about enforcement, too. And I think there’s a way to have that balance there where we’re addressing any disparity concerns but also making sure people are safe.
Because the fact is, when you talk about disparities, it’s people who are living in East Portland, which tends to be a much more diverse population, who are getting killed on the sidewalks. I mean, if anything, it’s communities of color that have an interest in having safe streets and good enforcement so that people aren’t vulnerable.
Absolutely. But it seems like there’s a clear record of the folks of color who are on bike and on foot are overwhelmingly disproportionately likely to be stopped, according to the PPB statistics. And they’re less likely to be charged with anything than people who are white — it’s not clear why they’re being stopped at such higher rates. So what is it that the PPB can do to reduce that disparity of where enforcement is happening? Who’s feeling like they’re unwelcome even showing their face in open air?
Yeah, I mean obviously that’s a much larger question than the transportation system.
Yeah, but it effects transportation.
We have a racial and ethnic disparity throughout the criminal justice system. In fact, I attend regularly the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council meetings. I’m working with LPSCC on the racial and ethnic disparity report and how we get reforms throughout our justice system, not just in the Police Bureau but in our jails and our prosecution and others to eliminate those disparities. We have to have a clear plan, we have to implement it and we have to do it now. But again, I think that’s a separate issue from “Should we have consistent and clear enforcement of the public safety traffic laws in our neighborhood?”
What steps can be taken?
Better training, better staffing in the police bureau that allows for less stress among police officers and allows them to take more kinds of calls. Implementing the DOJ recommendations. So it’s a bigger issue than issuing traffic tickets.
Is that the full list?
Yeah. And I think there’s obviously more things we can do. There’s a lot of good folks that are working on this right now.
What’s the thing that you most fear you are wrong about?
(Laughs.) In policy, or in life?
“It’s entirely possible that we won’t be able to build [housing] supply that keeps up with demand in a way that brings down costs. And affordability is a crisis in Portland.”
— Jules Bailey
Right, in policy. What’s a policy belief that you have that might be wrong?
Well, I believe that in our affordability crisis, that we need to increase supply to meet the demand that’s coming in. And that in doing so, that we can help mitigate the worst of the rise in prices that we’ve seen. It’s entirely possible that we won’t be able to build supply that keeps up with demand in a way that brings down costs. And affordability is a crisis in Portland. My wife and I have seen it firsthand; lots of families have seen it firsthand. So I’m pushing ahead with lots of ideas to help increase the number of units we have available to working families. But if that’s wrong, we don’t have a lot of time to waste.
What’s the thing that most recently happened that made you feel enthusiastic about living in Portland? What was it that made you think, “Oh, wow! Love this town.”
I love this city every single day. I mean, I grew up here. I was born and raised here. This is a place where people are incredibly compassionate, where they are really into helping each other out. I have over 100 house parties in my campaign. And I love being in people’s neighborhoods, in their living rooms, day after day after day, just hearing how people are in their community. There’s nothing like walking out of a house party after hearing about how committed they are to everything from scratch kitchens at Abernethy Elementary School to the Portland Mercado and what an amazing effort that’s been, to the whole Living Cully Initiative in a neighborhood that’s been underserved. I think that really speaks to who we are.
Do you want to set any goals for your accomplishments on bikes as mayor? If you wanted to set some numerical goals — I think you mentioned doubling the number of protected bike lanes. That’s not a ton of miles.
The question was would I support doubling protected bike lanes, and then I said yes, actually I think we should do more. I think that depends on that balance between infrastructure and equity. But I think we need to have a number of protected bike lanes on key corridors that reflect the usage of those corridors. I’m not going to say I’m going to have X miles — I think that’s a campaign stunt. But I’m going to work very closely with all our partners in the bicycling community to find out what’s the right number, and I’m going to commit to being the mayor that’s going to have that happen.
“Last year, 119,000 people came to Sunday Parkways. My wife and I went out and enjoyed it several times. 119,000 people is an indication of how many people want to be out and about on their streets. Let’s unleash that in Portland.”
— Jules Bailey
You mention key corridors — you want to float a few that could use better biking?
I think Barbur is a key one. A lot of people commute on Barbur, and it at least feels very unsafe to do that. I think it needs to be integrated into how we’re doing the options on Powell-Division, a better system that’s coming in from East Portland. Having better separation for the huge percent of people who come in from inner Southeast, inner Northeast and North Portland. I mean, look at the desire for people to take advantage of Sunday Parkways. Last year, 119,000 people came to Sunday Parkways. My wife and I went out and enjoyed it several times. 119,000 people is an indication of how many people want to be out and about on their streets. Let’s unleash that in Portland.
The gas tax would create standing budgets for greenways and protected bike lanes: $2.4 million and $3.2 million over the four-year life of the tax, respectively. Does that seem like the right amount to you? Not enough? Too much?
I don’t think the amounts you cite are sufficient. That’s why I think we need more revenue, from new local sources, and from the state.
What was your first bike?
My first bike was a Diamondback dirt bike with some coaster brakes on it. I rode an REI brand mountain bike for a long time during high school. I was a magnet kid — I grew up in Southeast Portland but I went to Lincoln, and there was no yellow-bus service so I rode my bike to school across the river, across the Hawthorne Bridge every day. And now I have a Jamis commuter that I’ve absolutely beat up with all the miles I’ve put on it. But it’s a tank and I love it.
Qs & As lightly edited. Listen to the audio for an unedited version.
* Quick fact check: 122nd is managed by the city, not ODOT.
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