Joe Bike

Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee seeks new members

Posted by on October 10th, 2017 at 10:31 am

Bike Advisory Committee rides downtown-19

City bike coordinator Roger Geller leads the BAC on an annual bike tour.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you want to make biking better in Portland, there’s a great opportunity to put your passion into action: The city’s official Bicycle Advisory Committee (a.k.a. “the BAC”) is currently recruiting new members.

The BAC is a citizen-led body that advises all city bureaus, council members, and the Mayor on matters relating to bicycling. When a construction project will impact a major bike route, the BAC is there to sort out the detour and make sure the work-zone is bike-friendly. When a big planning document is about to be updated, the BAC is there to tweak the language and add key provisions. Long before a big project breaks ground, the BAC is there to sweat the details before the design is finalized.

The BAC usually has 20 members who serve three-year terms (although many have been around longer than that). The PBOT staff liaison is Roger Geller, the current bicycle coordinator who’s worked in bike planning for the City of Portland since the 1990s. As liaison, Geller is in the room to offer his knowledgable insights on projects and policies and to glean valuable feedback from the community.


Bike Advisory Cmte Meeting-1.jpg

I’ve been going to these meetings pretty consistently for the past 12 years or so (never as a member, just a fly on the wall). While I often wish the BAC was a bit more forceful with its positions on important issues, I greatly respect its members for their dedication. Now, with so much change afoot in Portland, we need new energy and perspectives to help challenge the nefarious trifecta of politics, bureaucracy and complacency that too often attempt to snuff out cycling progress our city. As an official advisory body with a direct line to City Hall and the Portland Building, the BAC could play a crucial role in our local advocacy ecosystem.

I’d really like to see more “interested but concerned” riders on the BAC, as well as more people of color and people from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

BAC meetings happen in City Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on the second Tuesday of every month (except this month the meeting is next Tuesday 10/17). Applications are being accepted from now until 5:00 pm on November 3rd. Everyone is welcome to apply. You can check out the application online and print out a hardcopy here. Good luck! And I hope to see you at the next meeting.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Avatar
    Middle of the Road Guy October 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Adam H, here is your chance!

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    B. Carfree October 10, 2017 at 10:42 am

    There is a very real downside to over-representing the voices of the “interested but concerned” on the BAC. While growing the number of bikes on the streets can only happen by getting current riders to ride more and by attracting non-riders onto bikes, those non-riders bring with them two things: an abundance of ignorance of what it is actually like to ride a bike on a regular basis in varied circumstances and a windshield perspective.

    I’m very concerned about the latter when it comes to any policy changes or approval of any new facts on the ground. I believe that we have reached a point where it is necessary to take road space away from motorists if we are going to significantly increase the cycling modal share. They will resent this and fight it. Those “interested but concerned” folks are mostly motorists and are thus being asked to lead the goring of their own ox. I just don’t expect that many people can perform that function well.

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    todd boulanger October 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    The photo would make a great bike geek poster:

    Portland “Wants YOU!”….

    …ala British WWI recruitment poster.

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    Jim Lee October 10, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Or Lewis and Clark

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    Eric Leifsdad October 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    I hope anyone who was planning to attend tonight first notices the irregular meeting date this month (joint meeting with ped advisory committee) is next week on the 17th.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 10, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Objectively, is the BAC actually influential? Has it actually made a difference?

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      David Hampsten October 11, 2017 at 4:01 am

      In the past 20 years, there have been periods when the BAC has gone beyond its rather limited purview (as defined by its bylaws) and had an influence on city policies and projects, and pushed the bicycle agenda forward through the collective leadership of all its members, by directly influencing decision-makers. However, there have also been long periods that it has barely done the minimum, tweaking a project here, modifying a PBOT policy there, acting as a committee of passive sheep, with the more active members being frustrated by a lack of spine from both PBOT staff and by other members. Like the City Council, the Street Trust or a pace line, the BAC is only as strong and active as its most passive or weakest members.

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        todd boulanger October 11, 2017 at 12:15 pm

        …and the influence of BAC is also affected by the transportation vision of the then current mayor, this may positively align with your peaks and valleys during the last 20 years and 5 (?) mayors…

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