As the Oregon Department of Transportation bulldozes their way to several freeway expansion projects in the Portland region — including one in the central city that even Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler supports — grassroots activism against the projects has flourished. When the powerful, the paid-off, and (much of) the public are blinded by ODOT’s slick pitch and PR tactics; we rely on independent, courageous, creative people and coalitions to speak out against these immense mistakes.
Paul Rippey, a folk singer who lives in the St. Johns neighborhood, is one of those people.
And here’s the video (begins at 08:29)..
Rippey signed up for three minutes of open testimony at the outset of Wednesday morning’s Portland City Council meeting. Then he shared an original song with Mayor Wheeler and our four city commissioners. It was called “Induced Demand.” Here are the words:
In the 60s we built the interstate. In the 70s and 80s they were working great.
In the 90s and aughts we said, “Well, let’s add another lane.” And, now by god, they want to do it again.
But it should be clear the system is broken and adding more lanes is just a futile token.
Because the thing we need to understand is induced demand.
Oh we all like to drive around town, but you can’t help noticing how much it’s slowed down. And adding more lanes is never done, because if we build them they will come.
And the thing we need to understand is induced demand.
I wish Tom McCall was still alive. He tore down Harbor Drive. And now Dennis Buchanan has gone away. He blocked the Mt. Hood Expressway.
But don’t let us ever forget. That these brave people took a lot of shit. People of courage, people of goodwill — well I know we’ve got that kind of leader still!
But the thing they need to understand is induced demand.
Oh I know we’ll need more buses and MAX, that’s just the hard cold facts.
But the way to get the highways off our backs is with a comprehensive congestion tax.
And the thing we need to understand is, induced demand.
In the 60s we built the interstate, let’s stop the madness now before it’s too late.
And the thing we need to understand is, induced demand.
Thank you Paul. What a fantastic song!
I love how the audience behind him giggled the whole time. Was also fun to see City Commissioners Chloe Eudaly (who took out her phone to snap a photo at one point) and Amanda Fritz clearly enjoying it. Mayor Wheeler on the other hand, looked a bit uncomfortable and he moved on with the agenda immediately with nary a word of thanks or appreciation for this creative stroke of activism genius.
Sing it with me friends: And the thing we need to understand is, induced demand.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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Wheeler is obviously one of the “paid off” in the song. Any wonder he was uncomfortable?
Props to Paul Rippey for trying to educate our elected officials some very basic principles of urban transportation!
It’s worth pointing out the fact that we need to have a citizen serenading to our elected officials to beg them to understand something so basic and fundamental to transportation shows how ridiculous this freeway project is. It saddens me that our elected officials, with their team of policy advisors (all very smart people, I am sure), can’t seem to understand or acknowledge the proven truth of the futility and wastefulness of urban freeway building. It feels like Portland City Council has their own “alternative facts” about the merits of this half a billion dollar freeway project.
We can settle this Rose Quarter widening issue once and for all. Lets have a sing off between the forces of cycling, walking, and saving the planet vs the happy motoring crew. The judges will be a panel of children that will have to live with these decisions a few decades from now. I think Pete Seeger would be smiling and looking down from above if we choose this way to settle our transportation future.
A year ago, many well-intentioned leaders were supporting the Rose Quarter freeway expansion, because (a) they thought it would help congestion, or (b) they were smarter than that but ODOT was dangling overdue safety improvements on nearby streets to sweeten a “deal.” Thanks to Paul Rippey and many, many others the prospect of spending $450,000,000 to dump thousands more cars every day onto central Portland streets is starting to hit home. And our leaders are… changing their tune.
Which leaders? Last I heard the city of Portland is still backing the project, which is a damn shame and wholly nearsighted.
All I’ve got is words, and Rippey’s got song, wit and courage! What an inspiration!
🙂 Nice job, Paul.
I used to think I was good at Council testimony.
Reminds me of Pete Seeger at Sydney Town Hall in 1968, and Mayor Connie McCready in Council in 1980 when some weird dude set fire to the podium during testimony on the “Cadillac Fairview” project.
Got the dude arrested, but stopped the project.
Ingenious testimony is extremely effective–let’s keep it up!
You may wish to fast forward to 8 minutes and 30 seconds to see the song.
And watch through the next testimonies – Portland Bus Lane Project!
best public testimony i have ever heard!